Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving, in every sense of the word.

A friend of mine recently invited me to read some of his writings, something which I was truly honored and humbled to do. Our written words are often a black-and-white representation of what we truly hold within, who we are, and what (and how) we've lived. In his writing, he expressed much joy with the little things. I think this is important for all of us to do, and something that I enjoy writing about.

I had a patient who was on hospice care, and who had rapidly declined. I was in her room, assisting her with breakfast, when her doctor paid a visit. He asked her all of the regular mental status questions, quick and to the point. She reached over and took my hand while he was questioning her. She would look over at me, and whisper, "What building is this, honey?" as if the doctor couldn't hear her doing it. The hospice nurse and I laughed, yet the doctor looked as if this was wasting his time. This woman joked and laughed with me, and would interrupt the doctor to ask, "Is your arm getting tired, honey?" because I was reaching over to hold her hand. These were a few precious moments of clarity and humor for this woman, and I was blessed to be a part of it. The hospice nurse and I talked quietly in the hall for a few minutes afterwards, and he told me that it was the first time in about four days that he had seen her smile.

It's the little things that can really make someone joyful, if only for a few minutes. Sadly, later that afternoon, she declined even further. I was happy that she was happy just for a little while.

I am so thankful for my patients. I am thankful for the other CNAs and nurses that made it possible for me to assist her; they took a few of my calls because they understood what it meant to have this woman laughing.

This Thanksgiving, I will be spending it with my family. I will be cooking up a storm, because that is how I relax. I love to cook, and I love to bake. Something in the activities of stirring and kneading and snapping beans and assembling the sweet potato casserole transports me into another plane in which there are no exams, no papers, no need for Foley catheters or vital signs every 15 minutes during blood transfusions. I am simply there, with the oven and stovetop, giggling with my Dad over past memories of exploded baked potatoes. And being needled into baking him his favorite lemon-walnut biscotti.

Yes, Dad, I will do that. Don't you worry. :)

p.s. Sweet potato casserole is a spin-off of my grandmother's recipe.
  • Canned sweet potatoes (okay, they're yams, but I can't say the word "yam" without just laughing my fool head off because it sounds so funny)... so 4 big cans of those.
  • Brown sugar, probably about 1/2 cup
  • Cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, ground allspice to your taste. I never measure these.
  • Amaretto and Bourbon. Again, I never measure. Whatever tastes good and flammable.
  • Pinch of salt
  • Enough of the little marshmallows to cover the Western Hemisphere
Using a handmixer or potato masher, mush the whole mess together. Make sure there is enough spice and Amarettoeyness in there. I like to leave some chunks in there to make it look more rustic. Plop the whole mess in a baking dish. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, and then squish the marshmallows in an enormous layer on top, making sure to cover every millimeter in sugary, poofy goodness.

This part is important... put the baking pan on a cookie sheet. This way, when some marshmallows expand and inevitably fall off, you will not have an impossible cleaning task the next day. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the marshmallows are that gorgeous golden brown color.

Where was I?

Oh yes, the little things in life. Go out there and enjoy them! We're all so busy in whatever it is that we're doing that we overlook things. When we had that huge power outage here a couple of months ago, it was bizarre to have no power, no TV, no internet, no phone lines, nothing. After a few hours, it became nice! There was communication between neighbors and family members. There was politeness and quiet and realizing that there is a whole world around you. The small flame of a candle became as bright as an overhead fluorescent light, because it really did show you what was around you.

Reach out with your hands. Touch rose petals. Feel the cold rainwater when you splash through a puddle. Listen to the dog bark down the street... is he barking happily because his humans are home? I love waking up in the morning and hearing my cat snoring. She's happy and warm and cuddled against me, and there is nothing in the world like that.

If you have family photos around your house, look at them.  We get so used to having so much stuff around us that we never appreciate it. Remember those times, and cherish those memories.

Savor the first sip of whatever it is you're drinking. Sit in a sunbeam when you read your paper in the morning. Feel the energy of the world around you. We plod through our days with schedules and lists and "OHMYGOSHI'MRUNNINGLATE". There is always time to stop and breathe. Take a deep breath and feel the life in our universe comingling with your life. We're all here together. Isn't it amazing to think of all the living beings on this Earth?

I challenge you today to stop and find three little things that make you happy. Three little things that you probably would have overlooked on a normal day. When you find them, write them down and tape them to a place you see every day.

Life is beautiful. We just need to step outside of our own selves for a little while.

Friday, November 11, 2011

1 Lint, 2 Lint, 3 Lint, zzzz...

Once a upon a time, there were two sparkly unicorns. Their names were Fluff and Softy.

   "Fluff"                                "Softy"

(Obviously, you can't tell how fluffy and soft they are because they're sparkling like mad. Blinding, even. I mean, the glitteriness of these two makes your head want to spin around. Especially "Fluff". Her golden awesomeness is like taking a Bedazzler straight to your eyeballs. Forget about punching gems into your favorite Levis. This is right at the source.)

Anyways, Fluff and Softy were having a great day flying around in the clouds. Fluff's wings had been accidentally glitter-painted to her sides, but Softy was able to pull Fluff around in a red wagon. (Softy is pretty buff for a tiny little pink pony-unicorn.)

Backstory to their happy flying-ness, Fluff and Softy had been recently freed from their hiding spot in the Pocket of Protection. It was a fortress, really. See, there was a riot earlier in the day; someone had left their restaurant leftovers tucked away in one of the clouds, and the stupid Earthly seagulls had found it, and were just going mad in a frenzy.

That pad-thai is delicious, yo.

Fluff and Softy had galloped into the Pocket of Protection at a full rate once the Seagulls had become rather unhinged and squawky. They were unaware of the wonders they would find there.

Softy skidded on something (it was dark, she had no idea what it was, and didn't really care to find out) and landed in a pile of something marvelously cushy. "What is this magical stuff!" she said to Fluff. Fluff replied, "Softy, I don't know, but it is luxurious and I could just spend all day rolling around in it."

(What the sparkly unicorns didn't realize, but of course you and I do, is that this Pocket of Protection was filled with pocket lint. That spectacular, mysterious, enchanting, squishy stuff that seemingly appears whenever you need to dig change out for the parking meter.)

Rainbow colors, even!

Fluff and Softy hung out in the Pocket of Protection for several hours, frolicking in the lint and listening to the madness happening outside. "Wow, Softy," said Fluff, "Pad-Thai must have some addictive qualities to it. Listen to those silly Seagulls losing their feathers over it." (Yes, Fluff, yes it does.) They were lucky that these were Pad-Thai Seagulls, and not Unicorn Seagulls. The Unicorn Seagulls had attacked the cloud-colony earlier that year...


The two sparkly unicorns soon became hungry from all their frolicking and bounding and leaping. Amazingly, they found a corridor within the Pocket that led to a sweet shop and bakery. Fluff looked at Softy. "Uh-oh. This could be dangerous." Little did they know the wondrous properties of sugar.


Fluff and Softy ate so much candy and so many cupcakes that they were soon radiating rainbows and hearts and stars. The space-time continuum began to slow down and seemed to reverse. Fluff ran in circles over and over and over, until Softy mewed at her to slow down... "Fluff, you're making me dizzy!" Fluff squeaked back, "No, Softy, that's just the swirls on your lollipop! Must go faster!"

Rainbows and glitter streaked out of the Pocket of Protection, effectively scaring the Seagulls away from their prize. Pad-Thai rained down outside the cave as the Seagulls flew screaming into the night sky. Fluff and Softy collapsed in the pocket lint in exhaustion as the sugar-high mellowed out. They soon fell asleep to dreams of marshmallow clouds and magical fairies.

Thanks to @cherokeegirl74 for the conversation which led to this craziness. ;-)

Photo credits
Gold unicorn:
Pink unicorn:
Unicorn meat:
Rainbow lint:
Candy unicorn:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

30 Days of Shamelessness - Day 10

I thought the last blog topic was bad enough, but this one is even tougher. *Sigh* I'm going time-traveling for this one, as I think the music I listen to now is just fine by current standards.

"Declare your love for an uncool band."


Aw, go ahead. Laugh. Laugh all you want to. Little do you know how awesome they were back in 1990. And how my friend and I even flew to Detroit to see them in concert. Twice.

You don't know that my other friend and I had contests as to how much New Kids crap they could pin to their walls. I wasn't allowed to use pushpins on my newly painted (hot pink, oh yes) walls, so y'all should have bought stock in Scotch Tape back in 1990. Because I used about 25 rolls of the stuff that year. Actually, probably in about a month. Did you also buy stock in Teen Beat and BOP magazine? Frickin' embarrassing, really. The trees we killed for our own visual pleasure.

I knew people with the bedsheets and comforters, and pillowcases, and T-shirts, and pins and keychains, patches, jackets, beachtowels, books, jewelry and shoelaces. I know I had some of these, I don't remember exactly what. Definitely not the bedsheets. I draw the line at faces on my sheets, ever since my childhood nightmares with Raggedy Ann and Andy sheets. Those eyes glowed in the dark and messed me up.

I had cassette tapes (for those of you born after 1987, those are these little rectangle things that have thin strips of plasticy stuff, and music magically plays when you put these rectangles into a thing called a Walkman.) My friends and I played these things until the tapes snapped and we, in a panic, tried Scotch-taping them back together, which didn't work really well, so we just went out and bought new ones. I know I had most of their albums. Even the Christmas one. "Little Drummer Boy" was my favorite.

Those were the days where we made our own mix tapes off the radio, too. Call in on a Sunday morning and make dedications? Yes, that was us. We were obnoxious.

It still trips me out to see Donnie Wahlberg on the big screen as an actor. I'm used to him rockin' that weird side-to-side dance move to "The Right Stuff". Joey McIntyre will forever be 14 years old. Danny Wood will be Mr. Buff. Jordan Knight will always have that gorgeous falsetto that was laughed at endlessly by people who just didn't get the romance. And Jon Knight, that sweet, shy boy, will always be up there at the top of my celebrity teen-crush list.