Tag Archives: thanks

Monday Moments: Good Gravy

I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage. ~ Erma Bombeck

It’s that time of year again. That week where the focus is one of giving thanks, being thankful for all the things we have (and for those that we do not have as well). As Thanksgiving comes around, so does the remembering of holidays past.

For many, including me, a lot of those great memories revolve around the dinners that are served, the time spent with family gathered around the table. And that table — full of favorite foods and special ones, too, ones that only appear at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The sounds of cheery conversation are underscored with strains of holiday music. And wafting over all of that are the aromas of the dinner to come.

The centerpiece of many a holiday dinner, especially at Thanksgiving, is the turkey (and no, not the one crazy relative who, in all likelihood, is a turkey…..). This year we’re having another mammoth turkey. I kid you not – it looks like a young child (and not really that young!). Rumor has it the bird this year weighs in at 38 pounds! One of my brothers-in-law hosts Thanksgiving, and when his oven heard the news, it promptly died.

Quit.

On the spot.

“No way,” I imagine the conversation began, “are you doing that to me.”

For you see, back in 2009, we had another pterodactyl-esque turkey, which, if I’m remembering correctly, was about 37 pounds. We have pictures.

Thanksgiving 2009 - our 37 pound turkey

See? I wasn’t kidding on the size. The thing was huge.

But for me it isn’t so much about the bird as it is the gravy.

Good gravy.

The very best gravy.

The gravy that is so awesome and amazing that it should be classified as its own food group.

My mother-in-law makes this amazing concoction. That’s her, up in the picture at the top of this post, beginning the process, using those luscious turkey juices from the roasting pan as a base. I swear she has some magic potion, some special mother-powers, where she chants “bibbidi-bobbidi-boo” and waves a magic wooden spoon, and the gravy appears. She swears not. But nobody in the family can quite replicate whatever combination of patience, spices, and stirring produces a gravy so dark brown, so smooth, and so amazingly delicious.

It’s darn good gravy.

Is there a special holiday food you’re looking forward to this season?

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Lessons Learned

I learned a long time ago that minor surgery is when they do the operation on someone else, not you. ~ Bill Walton

I met with my surgeon and my physical therapy team for the last time yesterday. After nearly 7 long months, 2 hand surgeries, 48 physical therapy visits, and a fair mountain of medical bills (and a grateful heart for the insurance which covered them), I have been released back into the wild world of my life. Kicked from the nest of medical care, sent out to fly on my own with my mended wing.

If you’ve been visiting the blog a while, then you’ve followed some of my adventures during this time — the original incident while baking for Easter, my progression of casts, the up-and-down swings of news and progress, the second surgery, and now, finally, a finale.

I am free. Of appointments with doctors and surgeons. Of physical therapy sessions of 1-1/2 to 2 hours each, ranging from 2 to 5 times per week. Of casts and bandages, sleeves and splints, stitches and needles, ultrasounds and electric currents. They have done their jobs, these things. They have healed me, given me back my finger, my hand. And all the things that I can once again do. I am grateful beyond words for that reality.

But in that moment, in all the joy that comes with that freedom, there’s also a moment of wistfulness, of reflection, thinking about the lessons I have learned. Not only about myself, but of medical care and insurance in general, of life and health, love and friendship. So I thought I’d share some of my reflections, my lessons learned about this experience…..

  • Medicine and the medical community is amazing.  That I lucked into having a nationally-recognized hand surgeon on-call at the emergency room the night of my injury is pretty darn close to a miracle for me.  His office runs a “Hand Center of Excellence,” which allowed me phenomenal care and access not only to his medical team and surgical facility but to a physical therapy team that included two specialists in hand tendon injuries.  The bills are high, their work expensive.  But I have use of my finger and hand because of their excellent care.  And I already miss them, especially my two primary therapists.  We’ve had 7 months of sharing and caring, of time becoming friends.  Each member of the crew I worked with was nice, but those two became good friends who shared endless hours of time and support and stories.
  • How can people possibly be expected to survive without insurance?  I supported universal health care before, but I will champion it forever after this.  Yes, the healthcare system needs reform.  Immense reform.  But without access to insurance, we would never have survived financially from what is –in reality– a minor event.  No car wreck, no major traumatic injuries.  No months of hospital stays.  And still major bills.  How do people who oppose access to insurance expect people to pay for access to quality medical care?  It would be impossible.
  • Friends and family help the healing faster than any drug on the market.  We could not have come through the past seven months without our wonderful family and friends.  Those who jumped in and drove me to appointments, took my husband to work.  Those who arrived with an evening’s dinner or meals for the freezer.  Those who sent cards, flowers, and fruit, sent email, asked questions, and sent prayers.  Being on the receiving end of such kindness makes me think a lot harder about how I can be a better friend in the future. Katrina Kittle did a wonderful blog post about “Friends who teach you to be better friends,” and her points are so true — there are some who ask, and some that do.  I hope to be a better friend because of my experience.
  • Attitude is important.  In myself and in others.  There were hard days.  Very hard days.  Sometimes made harder by side effects of medication or days where I was just tired of being sick and tired.  But somewhere there was always a speck of light, a rainbow of ideas, a pair of huggable arms.  Something or someone that cheered me up, even if sometimes I had to do it myself.  Sometimes that came from unexpected places and people.  Sometimes I didn’t think it would come again.  But it always did.  Amazingly, awe-inspiringly so.
  • Accept help when it’s offered.  I don’t get sick often, knock on wood.  And I’m not necessarily known for accepting or asking for help easily anyway.  But many times during this experience I didn’t have a choice.  And you know what?  Help made things better.  An extra set of hands, legs, ears, and eyes now and then proved quite welcome, offering assistance on multiple levels and in ways I never expected, predicted or even thought possible.  For all of that help and so much more, I am indebted and grateful to many.
  • Not everything has to get done. With missing nearly 17 weeks of work and not being able to knock things off my to-do list at work or home, my inner perfectionist was on a forced time-out. There were things that simply were not going to get done. Some I panicked about, some I worried incessantly about not completing. All were thought about. But the things that needed doing were accomplished, by me or by someone else. Things that should be done sometimes were, sometimes weren’t. And some things just didn’t get finished. I learned to be (mostly) okay with that, and hopefully I can continue that habit.

There are more lessons twirling about my head as I become accustomed to my now-naked right hand.  It feels weird having a breeze on my fingers, feeling sensations on my finger and palm.  Of typing for as long as I want, rather than in 20 minute spurts.

Mixed in among these and so many other lessons I have learned is something simple and easy:  be very, very careful with glass bakeware in the kitchen!  My kitchen is slowly becoming one of metal and silicone bakeware, of no more glass coffee carafe, or baking dishes.   The pan I purchased to replace my beloved 9×13 Pyrex casserole dish is metal.  Not my preference taste-wise, but now it is for safety.  I even handle my wine glasses with exceptional care these days.

A portion of my 2010 cookie baking

So as the holidays approach, please be careful in the kitchen.  I’m free to bake and cook like a madwoman again, but fair warning — I’m not sure I’ll tackle all my traditional holiday baking this year.

I’ll see how it goes.

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Monday Moments: Blogoversary!

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while you could miss it. ~From the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Isn’t that the truth? The old adage that “time flies” really does hold true.

One of the guys that works in the same building I do once spent part of a lunch-hour explaining his theory of time and relativity to me. He thinks the passage of time is all a matter of fractions. His theory goes something like this. When you’re four or five, you haven’t lived a long time. The events in your life seem easy to remember because at that point in your life, they take up a larger percentage of that time. A year can be one-fourth or one-fifth of everything you’ve known. Even at ten, a whole year only takes up one-tenth of your entire life. That’s a goodly amount. Once you get into your thirties, forties and beyond, the percentages sky-rocket. At forty, for example, one year of your life is really only one-fortieth of your existence.

Now I’ve never been a math-wizard, and especially with fractions or story problems, but he made a certain kind of sense. Maybe time flies because there is always more to remember, to add to our memory.

It’s hard to believe that this past weekend marked the first anniversary of Second Memory — a blogoversary! The past year has indeed gone by quite quickly.

And with that celebration in mind, there’s no better time to say “Thanks!” to all of you. Whether you have read just a few words, several posts, or been around since the beginning. Whether you lurk or comment. Whether we’ve gotten to know each other or will likely never meet at all.

You’ve given of your time, you’ve spent moments here with me, you’ve taken time to comment or email, tweet or post on Facebook. And for each of those things, but especially for choosing to spend a bit of your time here on the blog, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve made this year a fun experience, and I look forward to another year.

So for your Monday Moment this week, pick up something a little sweet and join the celebration!

And thanks, so much, for stopping by.

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In Lieu of Sunshine

a bouquet of daffodils

Flowers are those little colorful beacons of the sun from which we get sunshine when dark, somber skies blanket our thoughts. ~Dodinsky

First and foremost, I want to say a heartfelt “Thank you” to my guest bloggers on Monday, Tara Taylor Quinn and Tim Barney. I appreciate them taking time on their blog tour to spend the day here, and for bringing many of their regular visitors along with them. It was great to see some familiar names here with us, and to have new visitors as well. Thanks to all who stopped by, and I hope you will wander by again for another visit soon!

Well, today marks yet another in the long line of cold and drizzly days in this part of the country. Hopefully the sun is shining in your part of the universe! But it isn’t here, at least not today. So in lieu of sunshine outside, how about we share a little sunshine here today and warm ourselves with good company instead. I’ve got my cup of Jamaica-me-crazy coffee, trying to spark Caribbean sunshine around the place. So grab a drink, an afghan, or whatever warms you up and join me for a visit. Let’s get some sunshine in here!

What things bring sunshine into your world?

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day. ~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. ~Anthony J. D’Angelo

Sunshine is my quest. ~Winston Churchill

If there is one spot of sun spilling onto the floor, a cat will find it and soak it up. ~Jean Asper McIntosh

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A Single Moment

cloud in blue skyIt’s amazing to me that one single moment can create such change in a life.  I was cooking for Easter, for a family gathering.  I hopped on to Facebook while waiting for the buzzer on the double chocolate bundt cake, commenting that I loved cooking, bread rising and waiting its turn in the oven.  How it was almost a perfect day.

Within five minutes of entering those words on my status, I knew I was in trouble.  I went to reach for my bread loaf pan, holding a stack of other pans.  One of which fell and, being a large glass pan meeting a tile floor, shattered into a lot of pieces, large and small.  And in that moment before pain and blood hit, I looked at my finger and saw bad things.

Being me, and worried about my cat, I of course swept up as much of the mess as I could, hand wrapped in a clean dishtowel quickly grabbed from the drawer.  My husband, bless his heart, asked if I was ok.  I said, “No.”  That’s when he knew things were bad, because I’m never that simple in my answers.  Since he doesn’t drive, I grabbed another towel and we headed to urgent care, a few miles away, who promptly redirected us to the ER, which of course was eight miles in the opposite direction.  I’m still not sure how we pulled that off.

Long story short, I cut my right-hand ring finger, just above where finger meets palm, severing both tendons in my finger in the process.  The hand surgeon and his intern both said I was very lucky because somehow I did all that without hitting a single nerve — not a one!

Did I mention that I’m right-handed?  That I have few left-hand skills of any note?  That I’m not used to being the person who needs help?  That I have fabulous friends who are willing to change their lives to accommodate helping us with driving, cooking, spirit-lifting, and loads of other things that need rearranging?  And that I’m slowly learning to adapt…..

So here I am, almost two weeks later.  One week post-op. On my third cast, and waiting to go for my second physical therapy session.  My world in a cast is almost half done, but I’ll be sporting this one for the rest of May.  Physical therapy will go 3 to 6 months, depending on how quickly I heal.

And I’m back here, with you.  Thanks for sticking with me!  I’ve missed our conversations, and I have so appreciated your kind words here and in email.

You are the flowers on my journey, the blue skies in my life.

Thank you!

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