Archive for the ‘Life in General’ Category

Great Things

I’m harboring this anxious feeling to do something great…to accomplish, to achieve, to make my mark on this world, to make a difference. As I feel this sense of urgency, I’m compelled to reflect back on my 54 years, I realize I have accomplished what may be defined as “great” things. By no means does this mean I am satisfied nor am I finished. The realization of what I have done, however, is worthwhile. “Life reflection” we call it in the hospice world. I hope I’m early in that reflection, but a few of worthy accomplishments bear mention if for nothing but my own acknowledgement.

1.  I’ve raised triplet daughters to be compassionate, thoughtful, intelligent women who respect themselves, their God, their fellow human beings, this world’s creatures, and their family. If I accomplish nothing else in this world, I’ve achieved this very great thing.

2.  I’ve saved lives. As a nurse, I’ve been the one at the patient’s bedside who noticed a change and acted upon it. As a critical care nurse, I have monitored my patient’s every breath and heart beat and acted quickly and competently to ensure–God willing–that they survived a critical illness and moved on to a fuller recovery.

3.  As a hospice nurse, I’ve had the privilege to be there for the dying patient, to respect their wishes for a dignified and comfortable death, and to support their grieving family. For the patient and the loved ones left behind, to make a difference at such a momentous time of life, to be there at death as a guide, an advocate, an educator and comforter…surely, this is a great thing.

4. I’ve taken in needy creatures. At this moment, I have six cats and one dog, all shelter rescues. My heart breaks for the many cats and dogs (and rabbits and guinea pigs and other hapless creatures) who are abandoned or homeless. I know that I’ve made difference in the lives of the animals in this house, and I continue to contribute financially to local shelters.

5. I have the love of an amazing and honorable man who accepts and loves me with full knowledge of my follies, foibles and failings. This is indeed a great thing and I cannot take credit for accomplishing this feat, but I must acknowledge the fact that I have found deep and abiding love. May I never forget to be grateful, responsive and attentive to my dear husband.

While it’s not an earth-shattering list of accomplishments, it still merits my acknowledgement. I don’t crave fame, although I wouldn’t snub fortune. The urgent need to contribute and improve the world around me persists, even if I can only do so in small ways. I pray I never feel there’s nothing more I can do!

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”  Mother Teresa.

Bucket List

This will be an ongoing work. I want to start putting something down on paper (virtually speaking). How can I know what if I’ve accomplished what I want to do unless I first define what I want to do? Hmm, should I start with things I HAVE accomplished? Or at least include them? Or maybe that’s a separate list. An “Accomplishments” list. Yeah. In any event, I’m starting a list of things I want to do; some will be mundane, some grandiose. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, though! I’m not going to limit…or force…myself into a number (“100 things…”).

Things I’d Like to Do, in no particular order:

  1. Tropical cruise
  2. Take a culinary vacation/tour
  3. Learn a language — probably Spanish, including medical terminology
  4. Respond as a volunteer in a disaster
  5. Go to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee
  6. Visit Austin, Texas
  7. Spend a week at a luxury spa
  8. Go to Yosemite
  9. Visit a dude ranch
  10. Visit the Vatican
  11. Go to Cape Cod (New England sea food)
  12. Take a pastry decorating class(es)
  13. Visit a castle
  14. Go to as many Iron Chef restaurants as possible
  15. Visit New Orleans
  16. Become an accomplished knitter
  17. Become a wine connoisseur
  18. Establish a backyard retreat (hot tub, evening lights, gazebo, pond, etc.)
  19. Put in high end appliances in my kitchen
  20. Establish a “sun” or window room out of my side porch
  21. Create a relaxing, luxurious bedroom
  22. Try acupuncture
  23. Join a “cause”
  24. Have a successful herb garden
  25. Kentucky Derby
  26. Attend a “super-game” (super bowl, world series, stanley cup…)
  27. Get a facelift
  28. Surprise someone/family by paying for their groceries or meal

A Recyclable Tradition

For years it’s been a Christmas tradition of mine to give my daughters Christmas stockings. They started out small and grew as the years went on. Now that my children are adults, the tradition continues. Unfortunately, when their father and I split up, the original stockings went missing. At least the set of three were no longer complete. Each year since I’ve used different items as “stockings.” I’ve used large shopping bags, popcorn tins, etc.

This year I’ve gone green! I’ve recycled! I cleaned, painted and decorated kitty litter containers. A household with six cats manages to accumulate a number of empty containers. After cleaning them inside and out, I placed a dryer sheet inside for a few days to absorb the (clean) kitty litter odor. Then I decorated with spray paint and scrapbooking paper, as well as a little decorative duct tape. I thought of using Christmas designs but opted to use colors and designs they like so they can use them for storage in the future.

As usual, I’ve stacked them full of unwrapped goodies, as is our tradition. Mostly silly and useful items. But it’s a tradition my girls enjoy and depend on and I have fun coming up with new ways of presenting them!IMG_0870

Patience.

They say patience is a virtue and I suppose that’s true. Cato said that patience is the greatest of all virtues. I must be quite the unvirtuous woman for I have little patience in many things. That’s not perverse pride–I wish I were more patient.  I’ve gotten better over the years but that doesn’t mean I’ve come very far.  I’ll probably have to live to at least 150 to acquire any measurable level of patience.

I have learned to wait for a dinner table. I can tolerate a 20-minute wait for a table now. It helps, of course, to have a patient dinner partner by my side. When paired with an equally impatient dinner companion, however, a speedy exit from what may have been a fine dining experience is practically guaranteed.

“Good things come to those who wait.” Ah, but is “waiting” relative? How long does one wait? It’s situational, I suppose…to answer my own question. I must wait for some things so it behooves me to be patient to simply be able to live with  myself.  I must wait for a calendar event…say, Christmas…because nothing I can do will hasten its arrival. So it’s in my own best interest to be patient. If I want a good loaf of homemade bread, I must be patient with the process of kneading, rising, kneading, rising or risk producing a loaf of coarse, dense bread. This much I have learned.

Patience can turn one into a dullard, too, though. Standing still, waiting, inert…shudder. What do you miss, standing there waiting? What opportunities fly past you, as you stand there, stolidly waiting, your eyes on some potential future event? What’s the risk:benefit ratio? When does one know to stand still and wait or when to run out and catch it?!

Right now I’m sitting still. But my mind is wandering, as my mind is prone to do. I don’t sit well; I don’t wait well, not for long.  Patience is only a virtue for so long. It has its limits; it can become a place to hide, a refuge from decision.

“Dum loquimur, fugerit invida…Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.”

Fears

Fear is a part of life. We all have fears — little fears (like those supersonic house-dwelling centipedes) and big fears (something happening to children). Fears can be categorized, too, by type. For the sake of this post, I’m writing about relationship fears, romantic relationships, that is. Relationship fears probably fall into the middle ground. They certainly don’t qualify as little fears but they’re not going to destroy you so they’re not big fears. That’s my perception. Others may disagree. Since I haven’t been destroyed by a relationship yet, I figure I won’t be. Is that a good thing?

I’ve been thinking this morning, trying to figure out what I’m most afraid of in a relationship or more specifically in forming a relationship that is to be lifelong. I keep turning thoughts over in my head. In no particular order, I’ve decided on a few things:

  1. I’m afraid of making the same mistakes. I’m afraid of deluding myself about the nature of love and ending up disappointed, restless, discontent–like before. I’m afraid I don’t know my own mind.
  2. I’m afraid of being on the wanting side. I am, quite frankly, terrified of being the one who pursues, who waits, who wants, who concedes for the sake of maintaining the status quo. Therein lies the loss of self. Conversely, I’m afraid of not wanting. What good is love if you don’t want? If your heart doesn’t grow weary with absence, if you don’t want, are you in love? Can there ever be a balance?
  3. I’m afraid of being a disappointment. “Oh. This is the real you? Um, geez…I expected something more (better, neater, thinner, smarter…).
  4. I’m afraid I can’t let it all go; I’m afraid of my own defenses. I’m afraid I … can’t.

That’s about it for now. No doubt there is more to it or at least more articulate ways of expressing my thoughts. I wanted to try to nail it down today, though. And so I have.

Renaissance Festival

The Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival is held on the weekends from mid-August to the end of September. I’ve gone for years, at least one weekend each year. There was one year that the RenFest was closed, up for sale, and I searched for a nearby renaissance festival but never did travel to any.

There really is quite a unique crowd there. Oh, there’s the usual family-type visitors: mom, dad with their little boys brandishing wooden swords and little girls preening in their fairy wings. But then there’s the dedicated RenFesters, the medieval roleplayers or “society” folk (Society for Creative Anachronism), and a few posers…adolescents or young adults who just want to tromp around looking all goth. The costumes are fun, though, regardless of legitimacy.

Mark’s first RenFest was last year, when I introduced him to the event. Patient as always, he allowed me to scour every booth’s display of baubles and festoonery. I lingered the longest at the corset dealer. Awesome finery, a bit intimidating, a veritable sartorial statement. I was delighted that the owner initially selected a 22-inch corset, only to discover it was too large for me. (Color me smug.)  He laced a 21-inch black and purple, heavy duty, waist-cinching, underbust corset on my frame, instructing me as he laced and hooked. There’s a strict order one must follow when adorning one’s self with one of his corsets. Tightly laced, my back erect and my breasts overflowing, I strutted before the mirror, before Mark … and fussed with the edges, the stays, the bustline…but I was lost to it. I had to have it. And so I was much poorer leaving the festival than when I entered. But my posture was fantastic.

I wore it all that day, even when Mark and I went out to eat at Bar Louie’s in Cranberry. Yep, I was a spectacle. Mark didn’t mind, so neither did I. A few women asked me where I got my corset but mostly I just received sidelong glances–and a few outright stares. Fiddle-dee-dee! It was just plain fun.

I haven’t worn the corset since…until this weekend’s RenFest visit.  Tee and Reno came to the festival with us, too, and Teresa tried on a corset. Unfortunately, she didn’t have the cash on hand to get one. Nor is it really a wise investment at this stage for her. That much money for a once-a-year wear? But oh yes, it is fun.

Corset

Baker Grace

My sister broke her arm today. I don’t have the details yet as to just how she managed that. She used the words “bad stairs” in her FaceBook post and a friend noted that they were at church when it happened. She also has a couple of stitches in her lip for a deep cut. She reports the radius is broken at a 90-degree angle. We don’t know if she needs surgery or not yet. She sees the orthopedic guy next week.

When she first posted “going to MedExpress; think I broke my wrist,” my daughters immediately replied with comments regarding “Baker grace.” Baker women are known for their ability to stumble, trip, fall, ram body parts into furniture or doors, slice fingers with knives and incur other assorted injuries. We find bruises on our bodies that we can’t explain ourselves–sure looks like it should have hurt; can’t remember how it happened.

Growing up in the Baker househould, I have memories of my mother’s “grace.” And my father’s exasperation with it. I can hear his exact intonation in my head as he’d exclaim “Oh, honey!” when her ankle would twist getting out of the car or she’d bang her hand in a kitchen drawer. It wasn’t an “oh, Dear, did you hurt yourself?!” exclamation. It was more of a “I can’t believe you could be so clumsy!” statement. That attitude plays a part in our stoic acceptance of pain, I believe, and the automatic repression of how we incurred that awful bruise in the first place. “I’m fine, I’m fine!” is the instinctive response. No doubt that’s part of what made my sister go to an urgi-care center and not a hospital emergency room for a bad break; she downplayed it.

My own mishaps are too numerous to count and that would only be the ones that I could recall to begin with! My most notable mishap of recent memory is falling in the sump pump in my garage earlier this year. It had only been in my new house for about six weeks. The winter was horrid with record-breaking snowfalls. I decided to park my Chevy Impala in my garage to avoid snow accumulation on it. It had been a long, treacherous ride home from work and I was sick of it. I miscalculated; my garage is too small for that car to truly fit. I managed to get it into the garage with no room to spare. I could only open the car door enough to squeeze myself out of the car. Frustrated and upset with discovering the limitations of my new house, I shimmied along between the car and the wall and WHAM, one leg went down through the flimsy cover of the sump pump into the black, frigid water and came down hard on the other knee on the edge of the hole. Caught mostly by surprise, I didn’t even recognize the pain immediately. I only had the vaguest recollection that the sump pump was even there; I was so new to the house. Heck, I only had the vaguest idea what a sump pump was for!

Cursing, I dragged myself out of that wet, cold hole in the concrete floor and still had to manuever myself through the limited space. I had ruined a pair of scrub pants and nursing shoes in the fall and it didn’t take too long for my left knee to start throbbing. Once in the house proper and able to inspect the damage, my knee had a significant laceration and was bruised. Swelling was imminent. I cleansed the laceration and berated myself for my stupidity and chalked it up to my “Baker grace.” I could hear my father’s sigh from beyond the veil that separates us. It was just one incident of many, and in true tradition of the Baker women.