Friday, December 29, 2023

What I'm Reading This Week #52

Time for the ole Miss...the olllllle man.  (Kudos if you don't need to Google that.  I know the Mr doesn't.)   It shouldn't surprise you I don't have a sappy year end wrap up in the works for this last week of the worst year of my life.  My goal over a resolution is to not die this coming year...which will be cringey to stumble upon if I do.  We have lived like hillbillies since March with no baseboards on the left side of our house, no handrail going into the basement, green glue covered carpet that makes me want to spit every time I step on it, a shitty ceiling smoothing of the 2nd floor that still makes me cringe when I look up in addition to the bathroom ceiling that blisters that I pretend to ignore but see more spots every time we shower, the balusters rotting in the garage, the bathroom sink not attached to the wall so you can see the caulk break all around the counter and on the chair railing in our only bathroom, and said bathroom's flooring taking up a corner of the office.  We've got black paint for the front door that was supposed to be painted 6 months ago before my world imploded.  So we have MORE than enough to keep us busy and zero motivation to do any of it because we also have a basement that looks like someone took all of our belongings, put them in a dryer and opened the door mid cycle.  So yeah...there's all of that.

Now let's open:

32 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out (I'm really hoping my legs fall into line because I miss our walks.  I just bought this lil baby to speed things along.  It looks straight out of Beetlejuice!)

How to Meal Plan: 5 Easy Steps for Quick & Easy Meal Planning  (Tis the season!  If you're new here, I love these meal prep containers and if you're going back to the office, this Hot Logic Mini is a life saver!)

Water Is Life — Here Are 11 Simple Ways to Drink More of It  (Um, if you think I'm going to obsess on doubling my intake when I can't even get in 64 ounces of pure water, I laugh in your general direction.)

I Ate Peanut Butter Every Day for a Week—Here’s What Happened  (Oh, me too!  Peanut butter blossom... peanut butter ball... peanut butter cup...oh, wait.)

Do Acupressure Mats Work?  (Well, I know when I've got a jerk azz muscle in my calf or lower back mine sure helps loosen things up.)

Why is My Scalp So Itchy — and How Can I Fix it?  (Like clockwork with the change of season.)

15 Things You Didn’t Know Could Slow Down Aging  (Dying, don't forget that!  Whoops!  *Stuffs grief dark humor back in pocket*)

Menopause Gaslighting Hinders Care for Women (I really don't know how I'm going to deal with that crap when things get bad.  Their answer to everything is antidepressants.)

If you missed any posts here this week, catch up below:

So that's that.

2023, I literally hate you with every fiber of my being.  

If I could set fire to a year, I would burn you from beginning to end but you did a pretty good job of that for me.  I have spent the past 5 years signing off every year of our "one happy year" thankful that it's over because the bad seemed to outweigh the good but I see you were trying to prep us for the worst.  With that track record, the Mr and I are just going to dig a bomb shelter on a piece of land and hope life doesn't say "hold my beer."  There is nothing to celebrate here for NYE and I have zero desire to watch a ball drop or even pay attention to the calendar flip.  Mom's sib and I both said we're dreading the calendar flip because we are leaving Mom behind.  She was here to start the last one and not here to start the new one and that just feels like shit.  Yet another grief puzzle to work through.  We also agreed that we can't even take solace in getting through "the firsts" because literally every single person who has gone through heart wrenching grief has told both of us "oh, you think the first year is bad, that's nothing compared to the second!!"  Um, thanks??


I hope everyone else has a great NYE if you're going to go out and about.  Be safe.  Hug everyone you love and you know why.  I don't have to say it.  That's the cheeriest I can muster right now.   We'll see you in the new year, God willing.  (Unless your resolution is 'yeah, I'm not up for this crap anymore... unfollow.')

So I try to not let my grief brain post stuff like:



(It could be your last.)


So instead I'll just sit this right here and peace out.


Seriously though, got any plans for celebrating or are you the part of the five people here that is perfectly content to be in bed by 9pm with earplugs? 😁

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Wednesday, December 27, 2023

How I Honored My Mom My First Holiday Without Her

It's over.  Thank God.  I know...I never thought I'd be one of those people saying that given my previous Christmas freak status but that status was heavily tied to the magic my Mom made sure I had growing up. Even though the reaction changed over the years from excited bliss and tearing to the tree as a tot to a sleepy eyed smile and a slow rise as a teen when she would come into my room Christmas morning, softly say my name and "Santa was here!" - she was Christmas.  It was opening gifts and eating cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  Playing with toys/games or later looking through what I got for my hope chest when I was 16 so that whenever I got married or decided to move out, I would have some things here and there like ice cube trays or little measuring cups.  It was listening to the 1965 Pickwick Living Voices Little Drummer Boy 8 track before dad left, being heartbroken when he took it with him without asking when he did leave and proudly showing it to her after swiping it back and had it transferred to cassette after staying with him in California for the last summer when I was 17.  It was making our tradition when I got married having her over Christmas Eve with a big appetizer spread, opening our gifts from each other listening to the same soundtrack, laughing, telling stories, playing board games including an hour of Tiddly Winks she had as a kid that I got her one year and then maybe falling asleep after a cookie coma by the light of the tree.

It was tempting to not put up anything.  To let this season pass because the pain was too much and it was.  She was everywhere I looked and new meaning to old familiar carols, movies and traditions I so loved, now hurt only amplifying her empty seat at our table.  Unfortunately, remembering that she started one month and without warning was gone to start the next one was a sobering reminder that the Mr and I are not promised next Christmas.  Not something you want to think about or acknowledge because that's for other poor families...until it isn't.   So I trudged forward.  It took a week to decorate the tree, a task that usually took an hour at most.  My decorations went up about 2-3 weeks later than normal and while I didn't want to, several of the items were a part of that hope chest started so long ago so I wanted to make sure they got displayed.  Some people urged me to decorate "you'll feel better!" "It'll keep her with you!"   Shut up.  I seem to remember when you were going through the same thing that you didn't want to decorate either.  (How quickly people forget when they're no longer in the thick of it.)   But I did it, and yes, it was somewhat nice to have everything up even though all I can see is how much effort it will be to pack it back up so it might be a Valentine's Day tree.  Or maybe one of those very fleeting bursts of energy will overtake me.  So decorating was one way I honored her.  I had an ornament made of her holding up a sign she crafted that says 'every time a bell rings, an angel gets it's wings.'  Yeah...stab me in the heart.  But there it was front and center in the middle of the tree.  My memorial ornaments usually go on the back because I want them honored but not the focus.  Now it's starting to feel like a memorial tree and I don't like that.  "Here are ornaments of your dead grandpa, grandma, dog and now mother... Merry Christmas!!"  😐  I may have to come up with another way to display those.  Christmas in July craft or something.

I have a 5x7 of the three of us on one of our last Christmas Eve's together before Covid.  I'm so glad she wanted to take those more formal pictures.  One of them of her and I alone will actually be on her headstone (if they ever get their act together) so I am very grateful we didn't have only candids.  I knew Christmas Eve was going to be the most difficult day.  This was the year we were getting back to that (last year they all had Covid) so it would be all I could think of.  In the meantime, I wanted to donate the amount I would've spent on her presents (or close to it) to a cause that spoke to me.  I wanted nothing to do with cancer causes because she never got to fight it and because of all of the other stuff that took that opportunity away, I forget she even had it.  She was plagued with lymphedema pretty much from the point she had me, on.  It eventually led to her being bone on bone in her knees with a lifetime of pain she had to live with.  One thing that helped her tremendously to live as normally as possible was a walker with a seat.  She had a cane also but if she wanted to go shopping, she was always worried about being able to find somewhere to sit if her knees became too painful.  A walker with a seat took that problem away.  I was looking at a local charity that serves many different programs and I saw a wish list for arthritis support.  I saw there was a walker being asked for so I bought two and had them sent to the charity directly.  They arrived last Thursday and I spoke with someone there and asked if there was anyone on a waiting list if there was any way they could get it for Christmas, that would be amazing though I know the likelihood was low.  Maybe they could at least start the new year with the gift of mobility and know that someone cares.  So often Christmas is focused solely on kids and I get that but those who are older or low income are unable to get medical equipment that would greatly improve their quality of life.  I will see what speaks to me over the coming year for next Christmas but I plan to donate to things that directly affected Mom and try to help others in similar situations.

I mentioned that we found a decent savings account rate of return and we've put anything from her in that account.  The interest made from it will be used for the Mr and I to buy gifts/stocking stuffers from her every year to open on Christmas Eve.  I think she would love that since she's unable to physically be here.  In fact I know she would because when she was having surgery in 99, she asked my grandma to keep getting the Mr and I socks and undies every Christmas from her if she died during surgery!   So the Mr and I designate on wish lists if there is something we specifically think Mom would buy and then just pick stuff we know she likely would've bought.  We have wrapping paper she used for us that should last us at least 5 Christmases given how small everything is these days.  We loaded them into the totes that she always used to load up the car and bring our gifts over.  

Seeing the paper...knowing it will eventually run out and having the chore of choosing what I think she would pick for us from Current catalog.  I just checked and they no longer have the ones she had for us but I see a few that I know she would pick so I will get those on clearance the year we run low for the following year.  It won't be the same though.  On a side note, there were a lot of those moments of using her things that was just...ugh.  Like using the last Sweet and Low, the last hot cocoa I had from the box at her place, knowing the magnesium foam the Mr bought for her when we had hope and I massaged on her feet will run out with as much as I've had to use it or the vitamin K cream to try to bring down all of the bruising the hospital inflicted on her.  Those little zings of pain from things most people don't think about but you now cherish.  Another piece of her gone and lost to time which is somehow moving on without her.

The 23rd was our 32nd dating anniversary and the day we wanted to celebrate with an afternoon tea in Mom's honor.  I got out her Country Roses Royal Albert china that I got her for her 50th and set a place for her.  It still cuts me like a knife knowing she won't be here to celebrate my 50th next year.  That was the year I'd finally allow a big party that we'd throw and I'd finally let her get me old lady gifts because I protested heavily on my 30th and 40th.  Now that won't happen.  

I put out her favorite tea and nibbles of grandma's butter balls and Piroulines and hope that in spirit she could partake.

Afterward when we finally got bored, I asked the Mr if we could open the gifts from my bestie and he agreed.  She went overboard as usual but it was still nice to have something to look forward to that day other than feeling this big pit in my ever expanding stomach. 

Earlier in the day on Christmas Eve, I video chatted with my friend in Florida and we opened our gifts to each other that we'd sent.  It was nice to have some happiness in a day I had not been looking forward to faking my way through.  Then it was time for the hardest part...our first Christmas Eve without Mom.  We went to the cemetery and that became a big therapy session about my dad, how she would've had an easier life if I hadn't come along at 17 and could've seen him for what he was and all kinds of fun topics that spilled out of my face hole but that's for another time.  On the way home, we drove around and looked at Christmas lights like Mom and I used to:

Thinking how the previous year we were sitting in a power outage in our 40 degree cabin in Vermont early that day while Mom's electricity had also mysteriously gone out from a breaker and she headed to her sibs for the night.  Part of me regrets going to Vermont knowing what I know now but I also know we wouldn't have gotten together with 7 people with Covid either.  I tearfully made her veggie pizza...a staple.  

We're all appetizers on Christmas Eve and that is one that we'd have leftovers and would use the savory goodness of the crescents and cream cheese ranch to cut through the sweets in our stockings on Christmas Day.  She loved the rumaki I would make which I now delegate to the Mr because even though it isn't really time consuming, it's not my favorite to put together.  We got our other usual suspects like cheese pretzel bites, BBQ weenies and jalapeno cheddar poppers because pooping is not on the priority list anymore so cheese it up.  

Next was to put on Kenny Rogers Christmas and get the present filled totes "from her."  I never felt more sick to my stomach in my life.  His version of My Favorite Things is the last song she heard on this Earth.  As I took her in for the last time, I told her to have sweet dreams thinking of all of her favorite things and she did because she passed with a smile on her face, which is rare and near impossible.  I knew it would be heart wrenching to hear again.  It was bittersweet knowing this is the only way to get gifts from her now and that the Mr would never be helping her bring those totes in from her trunk again.  I thought it would help but it just reinforced all of what was missing.  Her.  I wanted to love everything and I do but it just hurt and I bawled the whole time.  I don't know how this went from my most favorite day of the year since I was a kid to one that will never be the same again.  I'm not ready for that Christmas spirit I had when I was dopey and untouched by death's hand to take it away from me like a kid whose parents just confirmed there's no Santa.  We unwrapped our presents and thanked her.  We ate the cookies that always made her eyes light up.  Nope.  Not feelin' it.  It doesn't matter because whether you're feeling it or ready for that first, as Boris Karloff said 'it came! Somehow or other... it came just the same.'   

Christmas has been different for us the past few years anyway between Covid and being out of town some years so it feels just familiar enough with it being the two of us but it was supposed to work back to being together...this year.  Now everything is permeated with this heavy, palpable sadness.  This loss of knowing someone important, the heartbeat of our family, is gone.  No amount of attempting to sugar coat it or slap on a happy face will change that, ever.  There's a difference between not being together but knowing they are still out there celebrating and enjoying themselves and not being together knowing they're not.  You take a solace in knowing someone is still out there living, even if you don't see them all of the time.  It's a fact of what is.  Your foundation is intact.  When your foundation is leveled, and everything you built your existence on is gone, you're floating in space.  When memories and recipes are all you have left or a single stocking hanging in memoriam, you are left to wonder what the hell happened and what now?  

Christmas morning the Mr warmed up some take and bake mini cinnamon rolls he picked up from a vegan bakery a few days before and brought up coffee and we watched Home Alone 2 in bed.  

We started watching the original Grinch but he fell asleep so I put the Dahmer trial on to invade his dreams.  Before we knew it, my attempts at distracting from the elephant in the room were replaced with an old familiar feeling from the early days of grief which I've only been able to describe as wanting to peel off my skin and run away.  I bawled and said I felt like I was being pecked with the full range of every emotion you can ever have and had to lay there and take it.


By that time, the Mr had a pretty wicked headache so I told him to warm up the previous day's leftovers and we went downstairs to eat.  It was a balmy 60 degrees.  Thankfully I had the forethought to make our own white Christmas a few days before and then we finished watching the Grinch:

Then time to open our presents to each other.  I got some nice night shirts, an autumn shirt since I don't have any long sleeved ones, an old lady shower suction cup grabber since I now worry about getting out of the tub after a few toe scrapes, compression packing bags, the movie Stuber which makes me laugh and some stocking stuffers.  I was able to get through listening to the Pickwick Christmas music twice without issue.  When Kenny came back on, I didn't know if I could so I put Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack on as the Mr played with his new goodies and raided his stocking.  I wanted so much to push through and fake joy for his sake.  I wanted to not let tears well up in my eyes wondering how we're now alone for Christmas forever.  I wanted to be able to let the memories of Christmas past be enough to sustain me and not let me ruin another day with tears...he's been through enough, can't he get ONE day...THIS day without all of the choking grief?  No.  Apparently not.  He tells me to stop apologizing but I feel bad for him but I feel bad for me too.  Do you know how hard it was to drive past all of those houses on Christmas Eve with tons of cars outside knowing what was going on inside?  To see laughing families around their table knowing I will never have that again in my life.  Given that is what I lived for in the past, it's like taking away the soul of who I am.  Yes, it got irritating some years and it wasn't perfect but that was due to other the the core of it, I was still glad to see everyone.  Now you have generations of kids who do not value the connection of family the way the Mr's and mine did so it just kind of stops with us which is just another thing to mourn.  Her sib didn't even wish me a Merry Christmas which also really kind of hurt.  I didn't want to say anything to them when I saw they hadn't said anything because the first thing I thought was 'they probably don't want to deal with grief girl on today of all days' whether that's what they thought or not.  But the fact is, they have a whole other side of the family to go to and we don't.  So we're kind of this flailing, pathetic twosome no one wants to claim anymore.  I lamented over how no one says Merry Christmas on social media anymore and sent one out at 4pm and within 7 minutes had five replies/likes.  So why does no one seem to share anymore?   People were clearly right there at the ready. I feel so disconnected and it's like everyone just stays on there creeping but no one does any sharing.  It makes me so sad.  Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and despite my defunct legs, I begged the Mr for us to get out of the house for a walk that my legs could potentially stand even though it was getting dark and starting to rain.  The crows of grief were pecking at me and I was just done.  Even though I was in immense pain the entire 2 1/2 laps, it was still nice to walk in the misty dark chatting about the hardest parts of the lesson you've learned about being a stupid human.  Lessons you wish you'd learned when the people who could've benefitted most were still here.  You know, cheery stuff!  Then we came home and we thought we should actually eat the ham we bought for the day though honestly, I probably could've skipped it.  So the Mr made sandwiches and the baby mac and cheese I bought and put on White Christmas, Mom's favorite Christmas movie.  We rounded out the night upstairs with stocking stuffers and A Charlie Brown Christmas.  Then we both wrote letters to Mom to stick in her empty stocking- a crappy new tradition but it's our tradition anyway.  We wrote letters of love to her to be cremated with her as well as messages to be buried with her so this is kind of our thing.  I bawled as the Mr read them and we talked way later than I anticipated.  He had to work the next morning.  I was plagued with crappy sleep and then jolted awake at 5:40am by complete silence.  Hello power outage.  After talking for a few about how long we'd have before expensive Christmas ham expired, the Mr ran down and grabbed a solar power station I bought a few months ago when I had grand ideas that people would want to get together with us.  We figured since it had been down for 20 minutes it would be better to plug it right in so it wouldn't need to run as long to get the fridge back to temperature.  Despite saying it holds a charge for 6 months, it was down to 90% in two so there's a lesson in when we actually need to plug it back in for juice.  He got it plugged in within 25 minutes of going down and after an initial read time of 30 minutes when everything first started, it fluctuated and settled on about 2-4 hours to keep it at temperature.  Thankfully we only needed it for 45 minutes instead of the 4ish hours the power company said before restoration of power.  We were able to save everything and I've got a reminder for us to charge that every 2 months to keep it at 100%.  If we're able to catch an outage as soon as it happens and turn off the ice maker then we should be good for at least 4 hours which is about the average length of an outage around here.  It was good to give it a real world test but it would've been nice to not have it be at Christmas.

Christmas will never be the same again just as it wasn't when we mentally lost grandma and again when we physically lost her.  Now, losing Mom so soon after and so unexpectedly is a reality we weren't prepared for.  I don't want to honor her... I want her HERE.  I don't want to bake her favorite cookies if she's not here to share them with.  I don't want to cling to memories, I want to make new ones with her.  But it was also important that, even if the body and mind were not willing,  we still had a Christmas.  No matter how much you try to pull the covers over your head and pretend it's just another day, there are too many reminders it's not even if it's just a matter of, "oh yeah, everything is closed today and you know why."  I know she wouldn't have wanted me to ignore it, not her Christmas freak daughter who she regularly teased about it and winter in general.  It was the essence of who I was to her and most people.  I don't feel like that person anymore and it feels like I never will be again.  I know that isn't necessarily the case but as long as there is Christmas, I will honor her, no matter how painful.  No matter how many snotty nosed sobs set off by things both expected and unexpected.  Because she worked hard, budgeted hard and celebrated hard to always make them memorable for me even if they weren't over the top.  Family, food and memories is what it was all about for her and I will try my best to keep that in my heart, even if it's broken in a thousand pieces.

Some may think that was the hardest part but as her sib and I agree, the worst is this weekend.  It's when we leave her behind in this year and the new year starts.  The pain of that tears at us both and is yet another part of the process being forced on us.  It is hard to want to continue to write your story when the next chapter begins without a main character with that jaw dropping cliffhanger no one saw coming.  It makes you want to put the book down.  It feels wrong to leave them behind because even if this still happened less than six months ago, it now changes to "last year" in some people's minds.  Last year means an expectation about where you should be in your grief journey.  No, it's literally a different measure of time depending on who asks but for those of us grieving, time means something different to some of us.  Time stopped when their life ended even if life itself didn't stop for us.  There is still much to sort through; more "firsts" we must experience as we go into our inaugural year on the grief world tour.  So I pack my newly acquired baggage that is now part of my journey forward.  This steam trunk of a life lived with her memories and mine.  Old stories I must desperately try to remember so they are not lost with time.  Memories of a mom in her mid 20's newly divorced with an 8 year old and making less than 10k per year that was thrown into a new reality she too didn't ask for.  I know that's a little different though...all parties were still alive.  I will continue to talk to her everyday and try to forgive myself for not doing that when she was here.  I will always be grateful the universe put our souls together on this journey and try to be someone she can be proud of.  I will honor her,  share her stories and mine of her to keep her alive.  I owe her that and so much more.  

I love you Mom. ❤️

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Monday, December 25, 2023

A Christmas Message for My Dear Friends

It's Christmas mornin' man!

I'm going to give two Christmas greetings in this post and I only want you to read the one that applies to you.  M'kay?

For those who are celebrating Christmas as usual:

Merry Christmas you sassy frasses!!  I hope that today is equal parts joy, gluttony and the occasional nap whilst surrounded by those you love and tolerating the few you have to bite your tongue around. 😆 Soak it in as it all goes by in a flash!  Merriest of Christmases to you and yours!

This next one is for the ones missing someone around their holiday table so I urge those not grieving to skip it.  My intention is not to bring anyone down on this special day and it'll still be here if you want to come back to it later in the week.


For the grievers:

(Pulls up a chair to the saddest kids table in a back room ever.)


I've joined your club.  I didn't want a seat at this table;  the one that no one is fighting for a place at.  The one others try to ignore because they think our loved ones "wouldn't want us to be sad" this time of year.  (Raise your hand if you've had to hold back a throat punch on that one.)  Sorry... that was me when I didn't get it.  I don't think I ever said it to anyone's face but thought it.  I thought the spirit of Christmas was stronger than the anguish of grief and I was wrong.  I thought memories of so many holidays past were enough to hold onto and be like a raft of sorts to help with the rough waters of the holiday season.  Well, that would be like telling Tom Hanks to just stuff Wilson under his shirt and float back to land.


How are we supposed to navigate what is the "most wonderful time of the year" when our loved one isn't here to share it with us?  Someone who loved us, made us, created magic for us, made us laugh, made us crazy or whatever that person was to you.  When you lose someone who was somewhat expected or who suffered for a long time, you can say those things you want to make sure they hear.  Does it make it any easier?  Hell no but you are grateful for the opportunity many don't get to say goodbye.  I felt that way with Grandma.  Our prayers turned from save her to take her and let her be at peace within two years of her dementia diagnosis but she held on for 7 1/2 years.  It took so much from not just her but our family as a whole and we never recovered.  But there was also a small bit of relief that she wasn't suffering anymore even though we didn't want her to go.

Less than five years later, my mom is gone.  She didn't have to be.  The signs were there had she had a medical team who gave a crap and if she'd only shared her results with us of routine blood work, I could have saved her almost 3 years ago.  You would not believe how many reading this can relate because many of you have bravely shared your stories of avoidable loss.  Where your loved one trusted doctors and thought they would take care of them and look out for them.  I mean, it's literally their job but they are likely spending the holidays with their loved ones around their table. of two.  Losing someone that way or suddenly where they were here one minute and gone the next has a different layer of pain to it.  I am not saying one is more painful than another, I'm saying you may have more to sort through because a lot of that turns into what doctors should've done, what you could've done and feeling like you were thrown into a whirlpool with no life preserver.  Just "here... new life for you that you had no way to prepare yourself for.  Please drive through."

So now here we all sit on Christmas Day and whether you're going through your first one without your Mom/loved one like I am or it's years or decades later, here you sit with this hole in you that means you will never be whole again.  I had about 37 years of my holidays always going to Grandma's Christmas day walking into her home with the smell of noodles greeting us and it felt like that's just how the holidays would always be.  I had 20 years of waking up Christmas morning with Mom and having cinnamon rolls for breakfast and opening presents before getting married and starting a new tradition of opening presents with her on Christmas Eve.  It was always my favorite day of the year because of Santa when I was little but Mom when I was an adult but knowing they were one in the same.  Christmas was special because Mom made it that way as so many mom's do.  Then Covid happened and because of health issues we couldn't gather because Covid or not, Mom was ALWAYS sick from October on because she was with a bazillion people hosting gatherings and making merry!  Much to my dismay the 6 years before Covid she always "shared" the fun of whatever she had so I was always sick for New Years Eve every year.  But we were working our way back to get back to the Christmas Eve tradition the Mr and I so loved and desperately missed...and this was going to be that year that happened which makes this Christmas all the more devastating for us.  

Slather on another layer to the grief cake.  🙄

So I sit with you this year back at the kids table if you've lost your parent.  Isn't that how we all feel when they're gone?  Like we're 4 years old and separated from them at the mall but with no chance of finally seeing them in the crowd, being reunited and feeling safe again?   The Mr and I will never have those joy filled Christmas Eve/Day's of hearing Mom's laugh fill the room even if she wasn't in it.  Those holidays we took for granted that that's just how they'd always be because she was too young to think otherwise.  I fear that I am now in the ranks of those who will permanently dread this time of year when so many others expect and cajole you into trying to be happy just like I used to be.  Poor dopes.  We envy them now because we know they have not experienced that loss yet.  One day they may feel like I did when I lost Mom and feel like they owe everyone who joined the club before them the biggest apology because they didn't get it.  You can say "I can't imagine what you're going through" to a grieving person and trust me, that's true because your brain is not capable of imagining compared to the horror that is.

To those who have lost a spouse, child, grandchild, friend or whomever has your heart feeling heavy this day, I hold your hand in memory and solidarity.  My heart is with those of you expected to go to a family gathering and slap on a happy face.  


Give yourself grace and tell others you may need it too to let them know today is a hard one even if your loss is not new.  Excuse yourself to the bathroom to ugly cry if you have to or find that person willing to cry with you away from the kids and grandkids.  We will likely be stuffing our feelings with too many stocking stuffers knowing some of them should've been from Mom and crying while listening to the 1965 Pickwick Living Voices Little Drummer Boy Christmas album as I have done for 49 years but the first year it will be painful to listen to instead of joyful.  If ANYONE has read this far, I can only assume 1) you too are grieving on this day or 2) damn you're a glutton for punishment! 😂  

Regardless, I am thinking of you all today grieving or not.  I am wishing you the merriest Christmas you can manage whether you are exploding with squee or your eyes are swollen, you have a cry-graine and are putting a pint of peppermint stick ice cream on them to reduce the swelling.  If you are lucky enough to have friends and family you are sharing today with, hold them a little tighter for those of us with empty arms where our missing person should be.  

I love you all... Merry Christmas. 🎄

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Friday, December 22, 2023

What I'm Reading This Week #51

Happy Friday and here we are at the last Friday before Christmas.  🎄 The Mr and I feel like we blink and a month has gone by.  That might have something to do with being locked in the house all month.  We have done ZERO holiday stuff and while I had the intention, it just didn't happen.  Throwing in the BS with my legs and not being able to stand or bear weight has made it that much worse, though I know I don't need to stand to see Christmas lights.  My marathon cookie baking is usually the thing that cripples me so throwing that on top of legs that don't work was interesting but that's the one thing the Mr always looks forward to the most.  I do too when it's done, it's just getting there that I wish I could've wiggled my nose and poof, especially this year.   I will say thank you June me for getting 80% of the dry ingredients in mason jars because that did help quite a bit and I MUST make that my new tradition.  

Digging into and massaging my legs seems to be my only form of tolerable exercise these days since I attempted a light WATP and was immediately reprimanded.  I'll give it another two weeks or so and if I can't get these muscles to fall into place then a call to a dry needler may be in order. 🙄

Now let's fall into:

Inside long COVID’s war on the body: Researchers are trying to find out whether the virus has the potential to cause cancer  (I know no one wants to hear it anymore but...  I've got a family member severely affected by this who can't taste or smell 3 years later as well as frightening brain fog.  Cancer would not be remotely surprising to anyone who still keeps up on this.)

A 7-Day Blue Zones Diet Meal Plan to Help Promote Longevity  (Time to gear up for holiday detox time.  Stock up on your whole grains and toot nuggets.)

3 Things to Do After an Incredibly Draining Family Visit  (Even if you adore your relatives, it can all be a lot.  Time to curl up under a blankie, sip a cuppa and watch The Holiday.)

Soon you’ll be able to safely microwave Cup of Noodles.  You weren’t doing that, right?  (It's been eons since I had that but what's the friggin point of the cup?!?  You're not going to dirty a bowl then dump it back into the package!!)

8 Ways to Spend Your FSA Funds Before You Lose Them (In case anyone's got money left...I know we don't!)

End-Of-Life Workers Are Sharing The Major Things We Get Wrong About Death  (This has very good and accurate information since many studies show people hold on for one last holiday which is only why I'm sharing it.  It does a good job explaining what you may be seeing if you're sending your loved one home this holiday season.  However, IT IS VERY TRIGGERING if you've witnessed a loved one pass in front of you!  I would not read this unless you want to know what to expect, not what you've already witnessed with the death of a loved one.)

23andMe just updated its ‘dispute resolution’ rules as fallout from a serious data breach continues  (FYI- for anyone who has ever done it.  It shouldn't surprise you I do not trust giving companies your DNA because in my brain they peel off the faux building to reveal Skynet!  LOL)  

For those who grew up on the Natalie Wood version of Miracle on 34th Street  (Even though I didn't, consider the cockles warmed.  So glad he was finally found and given a proper resting place!)

Yes, Virginia: A New Yorker’s Lifelong Faith in the Spirit of Christmas  (Still a lovely response and should be repeated through the ages.)

Woman Enters MRI Machine With a Gun, Gets Shot in Butt  (Courtesy of the Mr.  You'll shoot your eye butt out, kid.)

We've got a butt load of Christmas movies to cram in since watching old murder trials and The Dead Zone have taken precedence around here the past month because we're jolly like that this year.  😆  
I feel so drained every day and all of these little things that continue to pop up on top of the holiday crap.  Can I just say, I get it now why people give up on the holidays when it's just two people?  I know this year is a crappy exception to others but I think if you're a woman, it just gets beat out of you with age if you don't have young grandkids.  I hope its not always that way but yeah.  

What are you doing this holiday weekend?  Anything to still get done before the madness ensues?

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Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Hobbletown: Population One Weekend Recap

What day is it?  I swear I've been in a time warp the past five days.  

Friday I thanked June me for putting the dry ingredients of four cookie recipes in mason jars as that cut down on my standing time and made pulling the doughs together much easier.  So I was at least able to do that getting ready for the weekend.  Landmine central is still in full effect over here.  Gleefully singing Hall and Oates until the lyrics sink in:

She's gone, she's gone
Oh I, oh I
I better learn how to face it
She's gone, she's gone
Oh I, oh I
I'd pay the devil to replace her
She's gone, and she's gone
Oh why, what went wroooong?

Oh good... song #437 that hits different.

Or watching our perennial favorite Home Alone.   

"You'd be pretty sad if you woke up tomorrow and didn't have a family ". 
 "No I wouldn't." 
Me sobbing:  YES YOU WOOOULD!!!!!


Saturday was pickup and errand day which fully drained the Mr and reminds us why we don't go out.  There was a fun story from that though.  There was a nice minute of satisfaction when he went into World Market for a pickup and he asked some rando sitting on his ass where he goes for pickup and the guy said "end of the line." The Mr came out and said the line was huge and check in on curbside.  We had just enough time to move to the curbside space and the same guy comes out with our stuff.   Oh, hello again senor douche.


Sunday was the day I knew would physically break me: cookie baking day.  Without fail, every year standing on my feet whether barefoot, in shoes, in orthopedic slippers, with or without a fancy pants new gel pad to stand on, I am never able to stand the next day.  This year I was already in bad shape so it was extra fun.  I got stuff baked for my people and boxed up.  

I bake like a 4 year old left unattended

I don't know what the issue was this year but between either using all purpose einkorn flour, the organic light brown sugar from Whole Foods which had a very loose texture and wouldn't pack and/or butter that may have been over 65 degrees, everything was flat.  The taste is still there but I was trying to use all organic for my friend's husband who is starting treatment and it all shit the bed.  I threw up my hands and declared it good enough for this year and I will have organic AP flour and the domino brown sugar I can depend on for future cookie baking.  Sorry I ruined Christmas.  🥴

That night after going up to bed rot and have a few of the sugar frisbees aka-cookies, Mom's sib called and we chatted for two hours.  I can't remember if I told you but I got them a potholder with Mom's pic from previous cookie baking and her handwritten peanut butter balls recipe so she was there in spirit the day they baked too.  (I highly recommend The Printed Gift for the tea towels.  They're super high quality)  It sucked because when I was done stuffing the Choco Rolo cookies, I always put the 8 or so left in Mom's stocking and I just stared at them then started crying.  The poor Mr had to do a lot of hugging last weekend.

He sent my friend's box out Monday morning and that night we dropped off the other half of the cookies to my other boo who lives for that drop and he didn't think I was doing cookies this year.  While it is exhausting, I know it brings others happiness and Mom always loved them so her spirit was pushing me.  We looked at some Christmas lights nearby but it wasn't very dark so I don't know we saw everyone all lit up.  After that, the Mr got some scratchers from Mom as she always put them in our stockings.  We found a decent savings APR and the last SSA check I got as a survivor will generate enough interest at the end of every year that the Mr and I will be able to buy each other gifts from her that equals about what she spent and include stocking stuffers.  Most certainly NOT what either of us want but I think she would be really happy we're doing that.  It's a way to keep her with us every Christmas Eve and it's truly from her.  

I had to keep everything simple food prep wise because I'm pretty useless so grilled cheese and soup it was.  Not the healthiest but healthy requires standing and that ain't happening.

How was your weekend?

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Friday, December 15, 2023

What I'm Reading This Week #50

Tip of the hat to you this fine Friday.  The last three weeks of the year.  😳  It's always weird to hit #50 on the links posts on a normal year because it seems like yesterday I can remember typing #1 and thinking "here we go."  Oh, #1 past you, if you only knew.  

I am unhappy to report that the pantries won.  Whatever demon ass shit stew of toxic glue, bonding chemicals, formaldehyde and God knows what else in those two MDF nightmares in addition to the eucaboard could not be contained by 5 coats of sealer between shellac and a different sealer over it.  They be like:


We are sitting them outside for someone else to curse their home with or be picked up by the trashman.  So now we got two new Ikea Brimnes delivered to match our other stuff down there thinking that was our savior.  Cabinet one had two bottoms and one shelf and the other was smashed to bits in the corner.  




That covers about 1/4 of my rage write now as I type with shaking hands, blood pressure through the roof, trying desperately to stop myself from ordering a pizza for dinner when I know it won't help but don't really give a flying crap at this second and unable to exercise to destress. 

Done.  So f**king done.

Now let's move into:

8 Healthy Foods That Naturally Boost Collagen  (For dat glow, yo.  If you'd rather stick with powder, this is a good one.)

How Long Should a Weightlifting Workout Really Last to Be Effective?  (Sigh.  Guess we'd better gear up for long sessions when we add it back in. 😑)

Here’s How the Weight Loss Drug Explosion Amplifies Weight Stigma  (Not wrong.  The first thing my new doctor said to me last year AFTER telling her (a fat woman) that I'd lost 200 lbs on my own was "let me know if you're interested in Ozempic."  I immediately thought "darn, we'd had such a nice visit up until then.  Eff you.")

7 Skin Care Tips for Cold Weather (I can dig most of these but if you think I'm giving up lava showers, nope.)

Make Your Home Look Sparkling for the Holidays—Even If You Haven't Deep-Cleaned in Months  (Take a laundry basket, walk to each surface, swipe arm across it moving items to basket, chuck it in closet, forget about it for 6 weeks, if you haven't missed the items- throw away.  Follow me for other lazy cleaning/purging hacks!)

I love looking at this online magazine this time every year  (Lots of good recipes and warming of the cockles.)

58 White Elephant Gifts That Everyone Will Actually Want to Steal  (OMG, these are NOT white elephant gifts!!!!  White elephant was you re-gift the worst gift you got from your in-law, a half used gift card, or buy some heinous gag gift like a belly button lint cleaner or something and watch the cringe unfold.  It's supposed to be the understanding that the second you leave, it's getting donated or trashed.  Now it's just a gift exchange.  No thanks.)

This Viral Zillow Listing Has an Unexpected Celebrity Backstory (Holy crap!!! Who knew she made enough bank back in the day to afford this beauty?!)

Norman Lear, boundary-breaking TV master behind ‘All in the Family’ and progressive activist, dies at 101 (Thank you for the amazing programming, sir.   You made my childhood.)

10 days until Christmas.  I suppose I should think about getting stuff for the actual day at some point.  I know we'll have to actually go to the grocery store for the beef roast because these mooks couldn't find their butts with a GPS much less follow a detailed note about how to pick a beef roast.  Even putting "pick one like you're feeding your family" and the shopper is like "my family likes fat caps, yo."  I'll have to gear up to make grandma's noodles which I may just do the day of so as to avoid the same thanksgiving disaster.  Ugh, I really am in no mood to do all of that and honestly would prefer to order a pizza the night before, put it in the fridge and alternate between cold pizza and stocking stuffers all day because there will be enough to do with throwing together our usual Christmas Eve spread, the afternoon tea in Mom's honor and then a whole friggin' other dinner?!  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.  Edit:  We decided to nix that this year.  I ordered honey baked ham slices, a small thing of mac and cheese, I've got beans here and I'll chuck Mom's sweet potatoes in there so most of it is basically made.  We'll do the big roast and noodles over the winter.  At this point the Christmas Eve spread we did with Mom is what is more important this year.

BTW, I didn't order the pizza.

Do you have your holiday menu planned?  Anything going on this weekend?

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