Quick Update

I know it’s been a weird year — why aren’t those homonyms spelled similarly, I wonder — and it’s taken on more weirdness recently.  And weirdly, it’s just little stuff, nothing major. I appreciate the lack of drama and resent that these niggling issues require as much attention as they do.

Our son will be joining us for Thanksgiving, and it will be the first time in 6 years that we’ve hosted. So far it’s just the 3 of us. We’ve enjoyed the years he & his roommates, GF and others have hosted and contributed. This is the year to pull back and lean on family. It’s been challenging for all of us, on many different levels. We’ll miss our daughter and SIL and will FaceTime with them. And we’re grateful for what we have, and that’s enough.

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Unexpected Feelings

So some men in powerful positions were recently accused of sexual harassment/bad behavior. As a woman who has experienced that, I’m all over those who are going forward. Men don’t get that women will own our power and their attempt to take it from us without consequences. The men that harrassed me won’t face consequences , aside from what Karma delivers them, and I  hope they rot in hell, or worse. Those experiences were the worst. I can’t change the past but I can move forward, which I did, but the feelings of violation still bubbled up, at unusual times and unbidden.

I walked a mile tonight in a t-shirt and shorts, and felt no cold, in 55* nighttime temps. I felt nothing as far as weather was concerned. My focus was on not letting my sexual predators get away with their deeds. What they did was not my fault. What happened to other women was not their fault. You guys who took advantage of a situation, or worse, it’s on you. Rot in hell, motherfuckers.

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An Unexpected Autumn

So, our son tested cancer-free, we lost a dog very suddenly, and gained a puppy, also not planned. The puppy, Teddy, is fine — he’s smart, likes his walks, needs challenges to keep from being bored, much like our kids when they were 2-5 years of age. Sometimes I relax or am otherwise engaged and he reminds me that he is a priority. A leap from 5 feet away into my lap gets my attention.

In September my MIL had some health challenges that could be surgically resolved. She said no that, and within a couple of weeks went from vibrancy to hospice. My SIL, her firstborn, cut short her vacation and was with her when she passed. I know it was hard for her, and am grateful that my MIL didn’t die alone. Nancy Gallagher taught me how to be a mother-in-law, among other things, and I hope to pass on those skills to my daughter and future daughter-in-law and anyone else who pays attention.

Chris went to help my SIL help with the funeral arrangements, leaving the day after MIL passed. His timing was perfect. He stayed 2 days, returned for my birthday and an important bike ride, and we flew to Texas for her mass and inurnment days later. The next day, Monday, we picked up our daughter and her husband, then Tuesday drove another 180 miles for the mass, inurnment, and a weird dinner at a Thai restaurant in Victoria. The dinner wasn’t the worst. Dealing with our extremely conservative nieces and nephews, and their adult children was awful. They can’t debate issues without devolving into ad hominem attacks. The conversations were stilted and awkward. I couldn’t wait to get back to my SIL’s place, where the hot tub, wine, and/or cigars on the wrap-around porch offered some balance to that awful, awkward day.

Daughter, Son-in-law, husband and I woke up about 3 a.m. on Wednesday, finished packing, had coffee, hugs and tears goodbye, and drove to Austin to the airport. So much of the air we breathed was tainted by the odorant added to gas as it is pumped out of the ground, and it was awful. Even with the air set on re-circulation it was present. Three of the four of us have spent significant time in Texas, and we could not be more happy to live in Not Texas. At least, not that part of Texas.

Daughter and SIL left shortly before us, at a gate across from us. We had hugs and I cannot love our SIL more that he took time off from a new job to support our daughter as she supported us in honoring Chris’s mother, my MIL, and her last grandmother. My heart overflowed that they made the last-minute plans to support us, and the rest of the family (whom SIL met for the first time; he handled the Rosary like a boss; very impressed). I learned that although he’s Jewish by birth, he attended a Catholic high school, and knows liturgy inside and out.

We arrived in CA Wednesday afternoon and after we picked up the dogs (who were so happy to see us) I got laundry done, plants watered, etc., etc. and we settled in. Saturday we woke early, loaded the tandem bike and drove to Davis, where we found a perfect parking spot, and rode the Foxy’s Fall Metric Century plus enough miles to make my age in miles, as it was my birthday. We met up with several friends with whom we’ve ridden before and really enjoyed the day.

I flew out Monday to New Jersey to stay with my youngest sister and spend too little time with my middle sister and bother. My youngest sister, T, and I took the train and metro to my daughter’s place, met her cat, Jenny Lynsky, and enjoyed a delicious Mexican dinner in Brooklyn. We found respite in the Brooklyn Botannical, Garden. It smelled like fall, and shielded us from car noise for a spell. Spending time with my family helped me process  my grief, of which there has been too much this year.

I was happy to be there, spend time with my siblings, and act as a sounding board for T as she transitioned from TSA to DEA 12 week training. I can’t wait for more sibling time. I’m immensely grateful to Chris, who anticipated my needs and scored a 1st class plane ticket from Philadelphia to Sacramento. I’m humbled by my many blessings.

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An Unexpected Summer

So most summers I sell houses, my husband keeps a refinery from blowing up, we walk our dogs and we ride our bikes frequently. June dealt us a couple of blows from which we’re still reeling. Our son was diagnosed with Stage 1 testicular cancer & had the infected teste removed (in a  4- day span from his having “pain” to having 1 testicle removed). ITen  days laterwe lost our older (very nearly 12 years of age) dog, to a very random lung disease. And a week after we lost him we found and brought home a new Schipperke puppy. Oliver, our 10 yr. old Schip, was having none of the puppy’s antics; he was the canine version of “Get off my lawn, kid” for 6 days.

Teddy the pup figured out how to manipulate the dog door the second day home, and the stairs the day after. The next day he escaped from his kitchen pen (it’s tile and easily cleaned) and ran a few steps up, then decided to take 2 steps down. He missed his mark, tumbled, yelped. Oliver woke up and recognized our new pack member. They’re almost inseparable, but Oliver  wants time-out more than Teddy does. They’re seriously cute playing together. Oliver has a tender side we never saw before.  Watching Oliver progress from wannabe #1 dog to top dog has been interesting. And watching Teddy grow from “Hey, I’m new here!” to knowing how to ask Oliver and us to play with him, has been illuminating. When we let him play with Oliver outside his kitchen compound, he runs to the back door when he needs to go. And he and Oliver go out and pee. It’s a good thing. We’re chuffed by how well Oliver and Teddy get along, as well as how they interact.

So we had some bad news and then some good news. Our son’s cancer hasn’t spread and he qualified for MediCal. We have a new puppy to train (so much work…good thing we’re doing this together). Daughter has her hammock-cat and we look forwarding to  visiting them and meeting that cat.  I have much for which to be grateful, and I am.

We gave up our vacation and annual trip to Texas to see my MIL and other in-laws and friends to contribute to our son’s GoFundMe (we gave outside the app, as did others, and I appreciate all who generously gave). And now that we have a new puppy we tag-team and our time together is precious. Chris is taking vacation days to bond with Teddy. I know it’s temporary.

Thankfully, we coordinated our nap times, and it was a good day.



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RIP, Beauregard


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RIP, Beauregard

Beau had a great life. Just Saturday we took him and Oliver and our friend R & D to V. Sattui, where we tasted several wines, bought some, and had a picnic. It was great.

Sunday we rode bikes and ran errands. Beau wanted to be held but he occasionally does that. We didn’t see anything in his behavior to indicate that he was ill.

Beau woke Chris in the wee hours and he recognized that his dog was gravely ill. He went to UCDavis and he called me before the sun came up and told me Beau was in renal/heart failure and wouldn’t be coming home. I had a double shot of Jameson’s and wept. I suspected he was more ill than we knew but didn’t see this coming. Chris was with him when he passed. Another beloved pet crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

I’ve been a weepy mess. I walked Oliver two miles and he’s sleeping now. No one can explain to him that he’s now the only dog. I’m glad I didn’t see anyone I know as I was weeping pretty much the whole walk.

I hurt, Chris hurts, and I am so shocked by this that I don’t know what to do. I’m even too sad to ride my bike. The world is a lesser place now that Beau is gone. Damn.

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The dogs are relentless and consistent in their disrespect of weekends and holidays. Saturday was no exception. I got up, fed them, and was making the tall coffee + double espresso + steamed milk whenChris wandered downstairs. We drank coffee, surfed the ‘Net, made breakfast. We got out before 9 and it was already oppressively hot. Beau decided it was too hot for a long walk. We didn’t disagree.

We ran errands and decided to see a movie mid-afternoon. The theater has changed its seats into the recliner versions (wine & beer, please) and the afternoon had undesirable seats available. We decided to see a later show and got better seats. The 2nd “Guardians of the Galaxy” was fun, funny, and with our senior discount, worth it.

In the background runs the internal dialog of what our son and his GF are doing: Is he icing enough? Is he getting enough help? (Anastasia made sure that people were over on Thursday and Friday to cook Colin meals and help him out. He’s sore and ice is his new bestie. They have a wide social network and their friends are stepping up. It’s a wonderful thing.  I cannot turn off that mother mode, I can only modify it. So far, so good.

We hope they’re up for visiting us of Father’s Day, and if they aren’t, we get it. If they are, even better. I’ll never pass up a chance to spend time with my family,; most of who I am is defined by my family. I cannot imagine life without them. I hope I never have to.

And Meave and

Kas and family and friends with whom I’ve shared this abrupt turn in our journey  have stepped up with so much helpful information, sharing good thoughts, prayers, etc., keeping Colin and his cancer top-of-mind. We all have friends who have friends/knowledge that we do not; asking for help has yielded many responses, so much information, and inclusions in prayer chains and similar responses. My heart overflows with how much love has been sent his way.

We’ll adjust to this new reality and be fine. Despite the initial shock, we will survive.

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A Mother’s Lament

Funny how you can blow your little problems into big ones, and deal with them as BFDs, which they really aren’t, until your kid is dealt an awful, unfair, fatal blow, and suddenly you’re jerked back into a reality that’s only partially yours. And then you realize just how petty and small-thinking you’ve been.

Our son noticed some pain & swelling in one of his testicles and went, urged by his girlfriend, to Urgent Care. (Sidebar: he doesn’t have insurance. I know, I know.) He was referred to a urologist, who sent him for an ultrasound, and told him Tuesday that he had to have surgery on Wednesday. Four days. And we just were informed on Tuesday.

So we braved I80 commuter traffic to pick him up and deliver him to the hospital. We waited…and waited…and waited. We read books (he read a Wine Atlas as he’s preparing for his Level 1 Sommelier exam). Finally the nurse came and things began to feel real.

No more books once he had his I.V. inserted. T here was no more reading, except of one another’s faces, moods, thoughts. My boy is like his dad, he keeps things close to his chest, until he feels that his audience is receptive and non-judging, then he opens up.

The surgery nurse came, and we gathered up his stuff and our stuff, rode the elevator to the surgery level, and away he went. We went to the cafeteria and had lunch. Then, while my husband read, I paced the floor, the hall, fielded texts from C’s GF and my clients who are closing on a house tomorrow, my family, etc. The occasional phone call. Climbed stairs. It was barely an hour and I had to move.

The doctor noted the C handled the surgery well. His left testicle is history; pathology in 7-10 days. He’ll get a CT scan of his body from shoulders to groin. That, and the pathology, will give him and his doctor a path to pursue.

Meanwhile, as a parent, a mother, very attached with her children, this is the WORST. I know it’s worse for him and his GF, as they have live with this. I’m sure he’ll kick cancer’s ass, but there’s a small kernel of doubt that wants me to go to the place of “he’s going to die.” But of course. As do we all. Will this be it? I think not.

I kind of want to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. When my husband or I are involved, it’s a fairly easy thing to compartmentalize that. But with our kids? For whom we want the best? Oh, not so much. I’m all mother bear then.

A part of me is hyper-alert, and I hope that serves our son and his GF at this challenging time. I hate that I can’t be the one to advocate for him. I hope he steps up on the insurance front. No matter, we’re here as his advocate for him.

I’m sure this will end well, and my inner mama bear is ready to roar.

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The New Tandem

We decided we’d ride the Cycle for Sight charity rid for our new tandem shake-out ride. Doris is ready to tattoo her initials on the bike to ensure her place as First Wheelsucker. We had plenty of flat riding to play with the electronic shifting, which was new to Chris, before we hit the climbs and fast descents. We hit 43 + on our descent of Pope Valley and 128; it was so fun! We enjoyed the ride so much, and are eagerly anticipating many more fun rides.

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Mother’s Day

We called my MIL, I received texts and emojis from my kids, my SIL (who with her husband are spending a week with us) had calls from her sons. My husband brought me coffee before I even woke up, then made pecan pie Belgian waffles for breakfast. Woof. Stuffed.

And yet we stopped at the Cowgirl Creamery and tasted about 5 cheeses they make, purchased some, for consumption over the next couple of days. They were good!

We’ve been having a high old time with my in-laws; we even got her onto our brand-spanking-new tandem bike (despite my requests, no one has told me how to post photos, so you can see them on Facebook, and I apologize for that. Help!). Having visitors reminds us  of how much there is to do and see in NorCal.

Color me fulfilled.

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