Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Animal Rescue Foundation

A little over two years ago a terrible fire destroyed a local no-kill animal shelter, ARF.  Originally this place was called Charwood Kennels and has been in existence for over 30 some years.  They are now rebuilding and will have a new and better place in which to place animals who have been abandoned.  Personally I don't see how anyone can do this to a pet.  The thought of my own dog being out there in what can be a somewhat unkind world to these creatures is frankly unthinkable.

I'm placing at the right of this blog a link directly to the Animal Rescue Foundation's website so you can see what a great place this was and will again be where it will offer a safe haven for God's unfortunate animals. 

This morning I had a nice doggie grooming session with my own puppy. 

I love to play doggie beauty parlor 

with my   PeekaPoo ...  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

We're in Hurricane Season

The Great Hurricane hit the New England coast on September 21, 1938.  

A week or so later my mom and dad were married - October 1, 1938.  Often through the years they shared recollections about that storm.  They lived in Hartford, CT at the time.  The photo on the left shows Hartford right after the storm.  

I know my mom was worried that they might have to call off the wedding.  Fortunately, that did not happen and they ended up celebrating sixty-four years of marriage.  

Except in their sixty-fourth (2002) year both were suffering failing health and both passed on the following year (2003.)

Forecasters are telling us we are in hurricane season and to be prepared. 

Storms have always held a fascination for me.  I think because my sister and I while growing up heard the relatives talk about the Great Hurricane.   They told us it was as bad as it could get.  

This photo shows East Hartford, CT.   It shows the Travelers Tower, a place where my sister worked in the mid 60's.  It shows houses submerged under water.  Yet, I spent many summers there at a soda shoppe where my Aunt Mamie worked.  My sister and I stayed with her for a time when my mother was very sick.  This occurred in the early to late 50's.  I remember the old fashioned paddle fans whirling above the formica covered counters.  I remember the red stools that we often played on, twirling around in time with the fan.  My sister and I would tuck ourselves into one of the dark oak booths, enjoy the sundaes my Aunt Mamie made for us.  When we reached the age where we could read, along with those sundaes we also enjoyed all the comic books that filled one wall of the shop.  We had to be careful though.  Couldn't get any ice cream on the pages so that all could be returned to their respective slots after having been read.  Our favorites were Archie and Veronica.  Remember Betty, Jughead?  Also, Superman comics, Little Lulu, and many others.  We did end up buying more than we returned.  
I look at the photo of this bus with people trapped inside.  I heard about this story and thanks to the internet was able to find it and post it here. 

I remember taking the bus often from Windsor Locks where my Aunt Mamie lived to East Hartford where she worked.  I remember the smell of diesel fuel, and something else, I think pop corn.  I'm not sure why the pop corn.  I think because she would take us to lunch as Kresge's and there they had a huge pop corn machine.  Or maybe the recollection comes from those times Aunt Mamie took us to the theater (The Strand) where we watched the latest flicks and enjoyed that popcorn.  

I can only imagine the fear these people felt trapped in that bus with the rising waters swirling around them.
Yes storms hold a particular fascination for me perhaps because of these stories of people getting stranded, trapped, and eventually becoming rescued. 

When I started to write my story Stormbound at first I tentatively titled it Christmas in July!  Somewhere in my subconscious the story instead headed into a slightly different direction.  I had this cast of characters who become stranded inside a farmhouse.  (Did I mention the house my Aunt Mamie lived in we called, "the Farm!")   Each characters added to the story through their own quirkiness, flaws, and of course a few redeeming qualities.  

Storms test the spirit, as well as our ability to survive what they can throw at us.  I cannot look at photos of those who endure Katrina's wrath without wondering how they ever endured all those days not only during the storm but afterward. 

Storms remind us that we are not always in control of our destiny.  Storms come in many forms as well, not just those caused by meteorological occurrences.  Every person will at one time or another experience some form of storms within their lives. 

One of the things I came away with after writing my story STORMBOUND was that we can react like an oak tree, straight and strong, yet we may still become broken by the heavy effects of the winds.  Or we can allow ourselves to bend, to become pliant, enough so that whatever strong winds blow our way we in fact do survive.  

Hurricane seasons reminds us of that fact.  

The sun is finally back out!

Getting Old Is Not For Wimps!!!!
Wow, I really missed the sun this week.  After this posting I'm getting myself out there with my dog for our daily walks.  We look forward to them every day.  Yesterday I did manage to get her out there.  She's waiting for me now.  I'm a bit slow in the mornings.   I think it has to do with the fact that I'm not getting any younger, and this aging does not allow me to move all that fast in the mornings.  

I remember my mother telling me about the stiffness on getting up.  And now I'm experiencing that same stiffness and find myself shuffling more, and taking my time because I can't move as fast. When that happens out comes the therapeutic heat packs, the sports cream and these pain patches that you can put on the area that is hurting the most. 

Yep, getting older is not for wimps and each year becomes a test of wills.  I try not to let it stop me because I always figure once I let it dictate what I can or cannot do, the game is over. 

This is one reason why I continue to go dancing.  Dancing involves a lot in terms of processing both the physical and mental.  

Maybe that's one of the reasons that some say it even helps those with Parkinson's disease.  They noticed those who have this affliction once they're on a dance floor and are  moving to the music, the tremors stop and they can actually move about quite freely.  

I find the same happens to myself although thankfully I don't have Parkinson's.  

Except the other day I lifted and moved a couple of boxes of books and thought nothing of it.  But later that evening as I rose from the sofa to answer the phone my legs almost went out from under me and I had to grab on to a table.  From that point on out came the special heat wrap, the sports cream, and I limped around the house for the rest of the night.  

The next morning I felt better and was able to take my dog for her walk.  I'm okay once I'm standing, but it took several days before I could empty my dehumidifier simply because I could not bend down for the life of me to take the damn bucket out.  All was a reminder that as times passes, my poor body is now engaged in a downward spiral, a deterioration that comes with aging. 

I'll not give in so easily.  In fact I'm determined to do all the stuff that needs to be done around here mainly because I can't let any of this get me down.   

The whole idea of being unable to do this stuff affects my mental condition in a way that I don't become as productive in the writing.  I'm working on a series of stories, and I was going full speed ahead.  

I've come to a dead halt and need to regroup.  

Many believe a writer's life has to be the best on earth.  At times it is when the flow is there.  When it's not, and we don't produce, we not only become depressed by our situation, in turn we may hamper our ability to earn any monies at all. 

 Luckily I'm stubborn and simply won't give in to these aches and pains that are trying to tell me to slow down.  It's not feasible for me to do so.  Once the cooler weather gets here I'll do what I did last year, get out into that garage, fill up that Subaru for Goodwill, and get everything back on track.

Then I'll continue on writing my stories.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Rainy Days!

I don't particularly like rainy days and Mondays...now isn't there a song with that title , specifically a Karen Carpenter's song?  Well, it's true especially if those rainy day falls on a Monday and then the forecast has more of the same for Tuesday into Wednesday.  

And I certainly don't like rainy days after what I've been reading through my research on Vitamin D.  I like sunshine!  I'm not the proverbial sun worshipper but knowing why we need the sun has put a whole different perspective on things.  

We derive Vitamin D through interactions between UV rays and our skin, which I've discovered is not just a vitamin but a hormone that our systems require for optimal health.  And once we get that Vitamin D, then we absorb that calcium, which in turn helps to build stronger bones.

Okay so the fact that sunshine is actually good for us sans sunscreen lets me know why I feel great when I get myself out there and get some of those rays while walking my dog.  I come back from the walk feeling pretty darn good and ready to take on whatever project I'm working on.  Today was definitely not one of those days. 

Today I had a somewhat difficult time getting down to business.  

My weekend was quite busy and productive in terms of doing all the things I love to do which mostly consisted of dancing as well as walking my dog.  I spent time with a special person so I'm sure that is part of the reason why I feel this let down.  I should've gone to the Zumba class at the gym but the gloomy day pretty much made it easier to just stay put. 

Then again I've become accustomed to having people come into my life for a time, and disappear.  When you get to be my age that happens more often than not.  So for the time I'm with that person(s) I do appreciate the camaraderie as well as the activities.   For a long time now I've learned to simply live in the moment, not look toward a future of guarantees.  For some inexplicable reason something inside me will not allow me to do that,  which is to feel a certainty in life that I had once felt when my life was on a more even keel. 

Mondays become a real let down for me  especially after these busy weekends and especially when Monday turns out to be as gloomy as this Monday.   A reminder of how I dread the shorter days as well as the cold winter months ahead.  

I truly feel I need to be somewhere warmer, and where the sun shines most of the time.  My whole being tells me that's where I probably belong eventually at least during those long winter months that seem to go on and on here in the Northeast.

On days like this I can't help but recall those hot summers spent in Florida (Sarasota/Bradenton) and how great I always felt.  Of course I would feel that way.  I'm sure my Vitamin D levels where way up there where they're supposed to be.  My family and I spent a lot of hours on the the beaches, or in the warm salty waters either Holmes Beach or Coquina Beach.  I'm sure that is one reason why my father-in-law lived to the ripe age of 96 moving down there in the early 70's.  He was still riding his two wheel bike around hismobile home park well into his nineties. 

I took my Vitamin D supplements today and ate some canned Sockeye Salmon, some yogurt, and anything else that might contain some calcium, or magesium and of course Vitamin D, taking the approach that mindful eating helps to enhance my mood rather than suppress it.   And  there is that container of Hagen Daz Vanilla Almond ice cream sitting in the freezer waiting for me.

Rainy Mondays are more or less lonely days for me as well.  I start to reminisce too much about the past.  I think of the days when the screen doors would constantly open and close as my sons came and went.  knowing at this time of year we as a family would plan for some vacation, either short or long, and getting ready for that trip.  

When we're younger and working outside the home loneliness does not become too much of a factor in our lives.  It is when we reach that  time in our lives when life slows down some, and we find we have more time to reflect, to think, or to dwell on a past that offers us its memories. 

Rainy days and Mondays become a time for reflection of what once was and will never be again. 

Yes indeed, I need to go to my freezer, pull out that container of vanilla ice cream, and feed that part of me that needs uplifting.   Or maybe a nice glass of red wine!   I'm glad I have my puppy here to keep me company and put a smile on my face!  Tomorrow we will get each other out, probably to a Petco or Petsmart then over to my sister's for supper. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Great Day to Shop

In a little while I'm off to meet up with the grandkids at Friendly's for lunch.   From there we are headed to Kohl's to do some serious school shopping.  I love Khol's because they always have some pretty good buys.  I know this sounds like the proverbial commercial.  When I started to go out to dances, Kohl's was the store for me which I frequented regularly for my shopping needs.  As a single lady again, and with grown kids on their own, and pretty much on my own, I have to say I had no trouble filling up my closets.

But today I'll concentrate on buying for two of my grandkids who are now going into the second and fifth grades.  I can't believe it!  I'll take the other two grandkids out later this week as well. They are going into the first and sixth grade, and if that doesn't make me feel older.  Probably one of the reasons I get up mornings with stiffening joints.  Yep, I'm getting older!

This is the best times of their lives where learning is still fun, and there is just so much to learn that one needs a lifetime to keep up with it all.   I know I'm still learning, which I feel should be ongoing from birth to the time we slip into the next world.

Meantime, today the sun is out, the humidity isn't too bad, and it's a great day to get out there to shop during tax free week here in Connecticut.

Yeah!  It's Tax Free Week!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Let Food Be Your Medicine!

I have so many books on the subject of healthy eating, yet I still find myself going to the freezer and pulling out a small container of Haagen Daz ice cream.  I did enjoy my bone building soup earlier today.  I came across a recipe for this in one of my many books.  It required very few ingredients; garlic, onions, fat free chicken broth, and then I used a large family sized package of chicken legs, with the skin removed.  I cooked this soup for two days.  Also, I added a cup of apple cider vinegar. 

Yes, two days!  Actually the recipe said I could simmer it for three days in a crock pot on high. 

The broth had a wonderful taste, much more flavorful than if I had cooked the soup for the usual amount of time, around an hour or less.

What happens is the acidic content of the vinegar helps to dissolve the bone content.  In fact, I noticed when I ate the soup there is no cartilage, which means that probably dissolved in the soup.

Why go through all of this trouble? 

Calcium, magnesium, and whatever other minerals I can derive from the bones themselves.  This is what our grandmothers, great grandmothers, and before them did...cooked these soups for the mineral content within the bones themselves.

How many of us take the time to do this anymore?

How many ask others to "save the bones" for soup?  Then make soups that become loaded with nutritious minerals that our own bones can use?

We who have entered those years where calcium intake as well as other mineral intake is important only because our bodies' need for these nutrients will get them from somewhere, and it's usually our bones.  We can derive this calcium from nonmilk sources such as:

Blackstrap molassses,
collard greens
dandelion greens
mustard greens
turnip greens
hard water.

And to do this we need Vitamin D, which we can get from leafy greens, nuts and seeds, egg yolks and taking a walk where we can soak up sunshine.

It can become a balancing act especially if we are trying to keep our cholesterol numbers low. 

That is what I'm finding for myself.  I lowered those numbers eating whole grains, yet I now need to be careful when eating whole grain cereal so that the calcium in calcium rich foods will be absorbed. For me it becomes even more complicated.  Those requiring thyroid medication need to take extra care since such meds can endanger our body's calcium reserves.

What is a person to do especially when reaching a certain age where we become aware that our calcium reserves are no longer as high as they once were? 

Mindful eating is probably the way to go.  Each day I am now more aware of what I put into my mouth in terms of nutrients.  I'm small boned and don't eat a whole lot of food during the day.  So what I do eat needs to provide me with all the nutrients I require to at least keep ahead of my losses.

Too much dairy is going to raise those cholesterol numbers.  Not enough is going to lessen my calcium reserves.

Again, it becomes a balancing act and maintaining an awareness of what I'm putting into my mouth.  Yes, there are days when I just say, heck with it and have that small bowl of Haagen Daz.  Then as guilt follows, I'll go back to making the soups, taking the supplements, and praying that at my next series of test (blood test for cholesterol, bone scan for bone density) I will be okay.

Not an easy prospect. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Writer's Block -- Is there a remedy?

This is something we writers can find ourselves struggling with at various times in our writing life.  I'm not exactly sure what causes this, but I suspect it has to do with what is happening in our own lives.

This week I was not very productive, I'll admit it.  Last week I couldn't get the words out fast enough on the screen.

I think a state of mind could be one factor.

When I'm happy, calm, at peace with myself or my environment, I find the brain is more than willing to produce the words, scenes, characters that can make up a completed story line.

On the other hand when something is troubling me, or I don't feel too settled, and become filled with a kind of angst, productivity goes right down the tube.

Yet, I find like the sportswear company tells us, Just Do It!

Today I started three short stories that will eventually result in another trilogy.  Needless to say it was slow going.  My mind would not settle down.  That same angst, that same troubling feeling kept welling up inside me.

I'm thinking.  Maybe it had to do with letters that I've been reading.  Letters written to and from my parents dated in the early 1940's.  This was several years before my sister and I were born.   These letters occurred just before and during the war (WWII.)

My mom was very unhappy because my father was called to serve.  She was lonely, and from reading her letters had become quite depressed over the situation.  She could not bear to be without my father for one day.  There were also letters from my aunts to my dad telling him how my mother was not doing well because he was not with her.   And by the time my father did come home, nine months later from his returned date my sister and I were born.

Unfortunately, my sister and I agreed that back then my mother needed psychiatric treatment for a severe depression that did not lessen with his return.  And she did end up having electric shock treatments occurring at a time that such treatments were primitive at best, and probably did her more harm than good.  It made me realize I never truly knew the person who my mom was because these treatments occurred when we were only four years old.

From that point on my mom became an agoraphobic.  That coupled with the fact she also probably suffered from a disorder now known as borderline personality disorder, my sister and I can look back and now begin to understand why mom was the way she was.

Yes, seven years after her death we now understand.  Back then while growing up in our household, we did not, and consequently life was at best difficult, a constant struggle with ourselves and with her while trying to develop and consequently live in the "real" world.

It also made me realize it can take some courage to live in this world as a single person.  I've done it for eight years since the death of my husband.  I'm actually witnessing more pros as oppose to cons to being a single person.  I also thought at one time I could not live one day without my husband.  It has been eight years, and I think I'm doing all right considering.

Living as a single person we come to realize we must count on ourselves to do the things we need to do for ourselves.

We make our own happiness, and not live life through another or count on that person to provide that state of happiness for us.   It doesn't work.

It did not work for my mom, who counted on my dad to be there for her 24/7.

One reason why I think my sister has remained single.  And probably one reason why I will continue that status as well.

We can lose ourselves if we allow ourselves to become connected to another in a way that can make ourselves disappear.
My mom disappeared.  It did not have to be that way.  While my dad was in the service, she could have lived  joyful life with her family and friends.  They were all willing to do that for her.  Yet she allowed herself to settle into a depressed state of mind that actually prevented her from gaining the strength to go on and do her thing.  My mom's life was tragic at best losing her own parents at the age of four, and then being put into an orphanage.  This I learned only one month before her own death in 2003.

Letters of the past reveal so much...and yet I haven't read them all.  I plan to.  I plan to put them into a book format.  I plan to give them to my own kids and grandkids so that they will get a sense of the family.  A family torn by war.  Most of what was in the letters the ones I read were about my dad, my uncles all waiting to be called to serve their country.  And then letters to them as they trained in the various boot camps.  And then letters revealing their fears of going overseas and never seeing their family again. 

Yes, anything can cause a writer's block.  But I think my bout of writer's block may be over for the time being considering what I've so far written in this blog.

Life can sometimes get in the way for a writer.

When that happens, we simply allow ourselves to be, perhaps reflect on what is happening within our lives.  It may be a way for our subconscious mind letting us know we need to pull back, take a breath, address whatever issues we may be having with ourselves or with others.

I've done this I think right here in this blog.