Saturday, March 28, 2009

Not in love but loving

When I met my husband I knew that he was going to be the man I married. He was everything I was looking for in a man.

He treated me like a lady. He lit my cigarettes, he held car doors, he opened building doors, he held me by my elbow or at the small of my back. He told me how beautiful I was, even though that is not exactly true.

He was wonderful and fun and funny. He was a joy to be around. When he asked me to marry him I did not hesitate. We will be married 19 years this June.

The only drawback to our marriage is that he is 18 years older that I am. It was not so bad at first but now I fear he is making me old before my time.

See, he retired in July of 1999 and had sextuple bi-pass surgery in January of 2000. He has never fully recovered. He turned old over night. He lost all interest in any hobby he ever had. Five years ago he developed a panic disorder called agoraphobia.

Agoraphobia is when the stricken person can not leave their home. If they try they have a panic attack of the biggest proportions imaginable. An agoraphobic is afraid of people, places and things.

He is a lucky one though because he can at least go out in the yard. But certainly not any farther than the end of the driveway. He has to be heavily medicated to just go 1 mile away from home. Forget about going out to dinner, or to a movie, or even grocery shopping. He has given up his driving privileges.

He sleeps most of the day, which has nothing to do with the agoraphobia but his state of mind. He has told me that he is waiting to die. It dawned on me the other day what is going on with him. His cardiologist told him that a heart bi-pass usually lasts 10 years and then some sort of other heart treatment needs to be done. His 10 years are up next January.

He is also now starting to show symptoms of dementia. He can't remember words, he can't remember why he went into a room, his language has gotten filthy, his grooming has deteriorated. These are just the beginning signs I fear.

We have had a rough and stormy winter. I reached my breaking point with him. I miss going to places with my fun loving husband. I hate feeling like I am the only responsible one in the relationship. Paying the bills are my sole responsibility because he could care less, his words not mine. I cracked and blew up.

I told him that I refused to become like him. That I could not stay home, that I am only 53 years old and have a lot of living left to do. I told him that I wanted him to do that living with me but if he couldn't I would find someone who would. He said that was OK by him. That just deflated me.

I knew then that I didn't love him any longer. But I have been told by people who know me better than I know myself that I may not be "in love" with him but that I still do love him. They know this because if I didn't love him I would be gone from here in a minute.

So, even though he is old now and I am not, I am staying put. I will find other ways to deal with his problems. I imagine that there are support groups out there. I am going to take some non credit college classes in the fall.

Why? I guess because as the marriage vow says this is the sickness part.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Where I Come From

I was going to say I come from a family that loves deeply.

I was going to say taht I come from a family that laughs often.

I was going to say that I come from a family that forgives always.

I was going to say I come from a family that works hard.

And all of that is true, but not the complete story of where I come from.

The person I am today is because of the family I come from, but the family I come from is because God gave them to me.

So, I must say that I come from God.

I am going wherever He leads me. I hope I can follow His plan for me, whatever it is. I hope I can have enough faith that I will understand his plan for me without concrete evidence of it.

I know that if I follow His lead I will become the person that He wants me to be. I will achieve all that he has set before me. I will have accepted all the challenges he has asked of me and been successful.

If I do all that, I will be the person He is proud to call Daughter.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Good-bye You, Hello Me

Good-bye to the old you. What an amazing sentence that is. It can mean so many things. But in just about 3 weeks time there will be a new you.

For almost 44 years you have had an anchor tied around your neck.
It has weighed you down, even during times when you thought you could not live with out it. It has been a crutch when you should have walked alone.

You always thought it calmed you, gave you courage, kept you busy, kept you from eating, but it has done none of those things. If anything it stressed you out, showed you for a coward, made you idle, and seemed to make food taste better.

You always thought it was your friend. IT WAS NOT!! It is your worst enemy. It has robbed you. Robbed you of your time, your money, and your health. No friend would ever treat another friend in such a way.

In about 3 weeks time you will be ready to say good-bye once and for all. Don't look back, just do it. Get on with your life and become healthy. Show your family that you can do this. That you want it badly.

As you smoke that last cigarette don't bemoan the fact that you are becoming an ex-smoker. Rejoice in it. Be proud. Take the withdrawal period as a badge of honor. You have earned it. And above all be happy about this decision.

Hello to the new Me,

I know that you have had moments of doubt. Doubting if quitting is worth all the frustration you have felt, but you know it is. If it is worth the fear, but it is.

You are already healthier for not having smoked even just one day. Your lungs have started to clean out some of the gunk that has been building up over almost 44 years. Your teeth are on their way to being whiter. Your breath has never smelled so sweet. The money in your pocket will go a long way to buying yourself something truly wonderful.

There will be good days and bad days when doubt creeps in but don't give into it.

You will get over this initial hump and wonder why you waited so long.

Be proud of yourself. This is a major accomplishment.

Yes, one you have tired many times before, but you are not a failure at something until you quit trying. So the other times are not failures, they are all part of the learning how to quit smoking and stay quit.

Be strong Me.

P.S. And may God bless Allen Carr.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My List

This is the start of my list of 25 things to do in my lifetime. They are not listed in any sort of order or of importance. It is not a complicated list but I fear that many things on it won't be achieved.

1) Visit Maine

2) See San Fransisco - on my own this time.

3) See a Broadway show

4) Have breakfast at Tiffany's

5) Learn to tap dance

6) Learn to swim

7) Learn to play an instrument

8) Volunteer at a women and children's shelter

9) Visit Washington DC

to be continued

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Listen up People

This is a controversial subject that I am going to write about. I doubt that there is anyone who doesn't have an opinion, either agreeing with me or totally disagreeing. There is no middle ground with this topic.

I believe that the United States government should repeal the second amendment. Told you it was controversial.

The second amendment in it's entirety reads: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

When our Forefathers wrote our constitution there was not an organized military as there is today. They wanted to make sure that if their new country was under attack, the citizens would be able to defend it. They wanted to make sure that owning a gun would not be against any law.

We now have an organized militia. We have the strongest, largest, most heavily funded fighting force in the world. It is no longer "necessary to the security of a free State" for people "keep and bear arms."

Germany had 381 gunshot related deaths in 1999, France had 255, Canada had 165, the United Kingdom had 68, Australia had 65, Japan had 39,and the United Sates had 11, 127 gunshot related deaths.

All these countries, except the United States don't even arm their police forces.

The other countries have banned gun ownership and their violent crimes are lower than ours. Our crimes have become more violent. Our criminals are not afraid because our penalties are not strong enough. It is legal to own guns here. It is even legal for a violent convicted felon to own a gun after all parole has been served. Yeah, that's what I want is a proven violent person allowed to own another means to violence.

I am not some crack pot liberal gun control freak. I am someone who has put a lot of thought into my position. I do believe that ALL guns should be banned. If a citizen were to be caught with a gun, the penalty should be so stiff that it would discourage them from even considering having one the first place. I am a person who is sickened by the violence in our country caused by guns.

The amount of hunting done in this country for food, not sport is on a decline. For the few who still hint to feed their families there is always bow and arrow, which is a more exciting way to hunt.

I believe that repealing the second amendment and making stiffer penalties for the possession of a gun would make our country safer and freer to live in. We would no longer be afraid to walk at night, we would no longer have to worry about some nut job on the freeway. We could all relax and take a deep breath.

Making the second amendment null and void would give our country a safer environment for our children to grow up in. We would become a nation of peace.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lost on the way to the cranberry bog

I have always liked to can fresh produce in the fall for my family's winter enjoyment. I have also always liked cranberries. One year I decided to combine both of these, but I never knew that wanting homemade cranberry sauce would bring a friend and I into a life and death situation.

My best friend and I went on a mission to find out where the cranberries grew and to bring them home to make into sauce. Neither one of us knew how or where they grew, both of us being city girls, but we did have directions on how to get to a cranberry farm. Following these sketchy directions, we made our way into the depths of Wisconsin. It was a rainy and gloomy day for two friends to be out and about, especially when the two of us tend to make each other rather excitable. Onward we went, driving and driving, in what we hoped was the right direction. Finally, after driving for a couple of hours we found a landmark that was listed on our direction sheet, a big old oak that was split down the middle.

We turned off the main highway and drove onto a true country lane. It was barely passable in some spots for one car let alone for some of the logging trucks that we passed. Often we had to pull over and stop to allow the big trucks to go on by. The shoulders were a bare minimum in size. The road was slippery from the day's rain. Our nerves were beginning to fray. This small wet dark road led us to another landmark, a blue mailbox. We made a right turn, which led us to a dirt road. This road had a hill at every turn. There were many turns. We drove slowly because not only did we have the feeling that we were given phony directions and were lost but because of all the rain this dirt track was a sucking swirling mess. We were almost ready to give up our goal, turn around and go home, when we found our next landmark; a street sign that read,"Bog Trail." We were not sure what that meant but our directions told us to turn there and we did.

This was paved road and fairly level. It was made treacherous because of the other drivers. I am sorry if there are any Wisconsin drivers reading this but the next is just a statement of my own beliefs and observations of that day. We discovered a few things that day about Wisconsin drivers. They don't know the meaning of posted speed limit signs, they think that "reduced speed ahead -- 45 m.p.h." means 45 m.p.h. per head in the car. Wisconsin drivers also prefer to take their half of the road out of the middle. We were at the end of our tethers and were relieved to know that we were getting close because "Bog Trail" was the last road before we got to the cranberries. We thought the name was unusual for a road that was tree lined on both sides but we figured what did we know. Not much as it turns out.

We saw a large sign that said, "CRANBERRIES." A shout of victory went up in the car. We turned off the road, into the driveway. We knew it was a driveway because of the lawn, patio furniture and the house. Our directions explained that the driveway would wind up a short hill, that the processing shed could be seen at the top of the hill. We could easily see the shed off in the distance. All we had to do was stay on the driveway, drive up in front of the shed, and someone would be out to assist us.

The main drive gave way to a much narrower driveway. My car, which was small barely fit on it. Our nervous excitement suddenly gave way to a sickening dread. Right in the pits of our stomachs. On either side of the car was water. Not water as in mud puddles from the rain but as in mini lakes. Each lake must have been 20 feet across.

The lakes seemed to follow the driveway wherever it went. Driving on this was like driving on some crazy maze. I would ever so carefully make a turn only to realize that it dead ended. I then had to back up and do a semi-turn around. My friend was my lookout to make sure that I did not back off into a lake. We were beyond nervous by now and were laughing so hard it made driving even more difficult We were just a little punchy from the arduous trek through Wisconsin. It was either laugh or cry. The smaller driveways went every which way without seeming to ever end or lead back to the main driveway. We drove like that for what seemed like 15 hours but was probably more like 15 minutes. Finally, we saw a straight stretch of road that looked like it would lead us back to the main drive.

As we were nearing the wider, safer drive a man came toward us. He appeared to be happy to see us and was waving in welcome. He was standing at the beginning of the maze. My friend looked at me and said, "It's about time someone came out and took care of us." We were relieved that our adventure was coming to an end. We were also feeling a sense of excitement. Our excitement quickly turned to fear when we met up with the gentleman at the start of the main drive.

Very quickly it became clear that what we thought were waves of welcome and friendship were really waves of rage. He was not very welcoming at all. I pulled the car up next to him and rolled down the window. He hollered, " Shoulda known it woulda been a woman driver. Don't have the sense God gave a toad. Shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel." He then screamed, "What did you think you were doin' drivin' down there? You coulda been drowned. That isn't a driving place. That's the bog!" With nerves on the edge of breaking, being tired, and hungry I let loose on the unsuspecting stranger. I told him he needed to give out better directions over the telephone, that he had better teach his fellow Wisconsinites how to drive, and it might be a good idea to learn how to control the weather. Then just for good measure that if I wasn't supposed to drive down there he should put up "Do Not Enter" signs. With that he pointed to a 5 X 5 foot blaze orange sign that said, "Not a driveway, Do not enter." My anger deflated, I was shamefaced, and I hung my head. The fear in our stomachs reached into our hearts and we began to cry. His anger abruptly dissipated when he realized that he was responsible for our crying. As he showed us the way to the processing shed he went onto explain what we had spent the day wondering, how cranberries grew.

Cranberries grown close to the ground on a viney plant. While growing and ripening they are covered by the plant. They are not easily seen. They stay that way until they are ripe. Where the cranberries grow is filled with water once they become ripe. The cranberries float to the top and are skimmed off. The machine used for this operation sits on either side of the bog, the part we thought was a road. After being skimmed, they are loaded onto a truck. Then they are taken to the processing shed, where we were supposed to be.

The flooded areas are called bogs, which explained the road sign. The bogs are 7 to 10 feet deep. The "roads" we were driving on are only 7 feet wide, my car is 5 1/2 feet wide.

While I was driving and turning around, I brought us very close to a watery grave. If, during one of my turns I had miscalculated and we slipped into the bog we very probably would have drowned. Once again we dissolved into tears. The kindly farmer tried to console us. He became much less angry and way more nervous. His wife came out of the shed to see what was going on and she yelled at him for not ever having put up a locked gate at the beginning of the bog. The farmer and us both learned a valuable lesson that day.

He learned that when his wife said to do something he had better pay attention. Our lesson was even more basic. It was and still is, if the road looks as wide as the car, it probably is not a road.

We both still enjoy canning in the fall, and each year we still go out to the cranberry bogs, except now we stick to the main roads.