Monday, November 30, 2015

So It Begins...

I should have known better than take vacation this week.  Seems like work wants me to fix stuff that they refused to check on the weeks before Thanksgiving.  Oh, well, it is what it is.  I am not going to spend my entire day working!

I did get a phone call from my doctor's office.  I have my referral already.  I got the name and number of a specialist and have already called.  The specialist's administrator is out of the office until 1 PM, so I am to expect a phone call to arrange an appointment for an initial consultation.

Next, I have tried reaching out to my endo to provide him with the information I have received.  I need to know if I have to change my medications based upon the new findings regarding my kidneys.  My PCP is very concerned - one of the medications is not to be used by someone with kidney issues.

I am trying very hard not to worry.  Not to be disgusting, but my pee is still clear, so I need to find comfort in that.  As long as the pee is clear, I know I am still doing okay.

I am drinking water - almost finished with the 33.8 fl oz water I have with me now this morning.  I have not eaten and that is bad.  Mainly because I have been running about doing this and that.  The apartment maintenance is supposed to show up today to change the living room smoke alarm batteries.  On top of that, a co-worker wants me to pick him up for lunch.


I am going to just try to focus on getting stuff done around the apartment, get cleaned up for lunch, then pick up some groceries.  Also, I WILL get my kitchen counters rearranged - TODAY!  If anything, I want to bake a batch of cookies to see how the new oven works.

Hoping that I can keep a clear head today.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Scary Moments...

Friday, I went to my PCP to get my 3 month blood check up.  My PCP is more concerned about the creatine levels in my system.  I just got my results this afternoon and it seems that I need to see a kidney specialist.

That scares me.  Anyone that knows me knows that think the very worst of a situation.  Here I sit wish my mother was alive.  I tried to contact my father twice and no answer.  I tried to call other family members, but no answer, either.

Where I felt the worse, I reached out to someone in worse shape than myself.  I reached out to my friend who has bone, liver, and other cancers throughout her system.  She has a limited time on this plane of existence.  At this point, she is fighting with all of her might.  She stays busy by rescuing cats/kittens from kill shelters and helping them find homes or fosters.  I admire her greatly for her tenacity to keep going and doing what she knows is the right thing.  Her doctors say she has another year or so left.  I hope she lives much longer than that.

She helped me to feel better about my situation.  I teared up and cried a bit.  Still, I am a bit scared about everything.  I hate all of this.  It just makes me crazy, but what makes me more crazy is not having my mom here to help me get through this.  It is times like these where I feel more alone in this world than anything else.  I would give anything in the world for my mom to be here - she would help make me feel better about all of this.  I thank my friend for listening to me and trying to make me feel better.  She is so much stronger than I am and I realize it every day.  Not sure what I will do when she passes away - that is why I want her to outlive all of the timelines her doctors give to her.  She is needed in this world.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

How to Change My Life?

Last night, I watched The Fluffy Movie, which is a comedy show featuring Gabriel Iglesias.  In the beginning, he talked about visiting his doctor, getting diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and being told that he only had 2 years to live.  He discussed his doctor sending him to see someone about gastric bypass surgery.  Due to this constant touring/traveling, he was not a candidate for the surgery.  Basically, he would need to adhere to a very strict diet program.

Before I saw the movie last night, I was driving around after seeing my doctor.  My weight had gone up to 311 and now, I had to worry if my liver and kidneys were functioning correctly.  I realized that my back, hips, and knees have been hurting since June 2014.  I have a YMCA membership and no good reason why I am not in there doing something.  Yes - my knee has issues, but when I am at physical therapy, I have to ride the bike for 10 minutes.  There is no reason why I cannot go to YMCA and do the same thing for 30 minutes each day.

Thanksgiving is over and I have limited left overs.  With the oven not working, maybe I can work on my portion sizing while using the convection oven.  I need to drink more water and lay off the sodas.  I do enjoy drinking tea, but it has to be unsweet tea.

During this time off from work, while clearing out the clutter and doing straightening, I need to get my head straight and begin some new focus.  There is no reason why I should not be going to the gym each day to ride the bike.  While it may not be walking, riding the bike will help me lose weight and possibly make my knee stronger.

I need to change my life.  I know a few people in my life that I would not want to turn out to be like.  I want to be happy, positive, and have the ability to let things go.  I allow too much to affect me and my self-esteem suffers from it.  I need to quit worrying about not being part of someone's life.  If they want me, then they make an effort.  If they do not make the effort, then I need to move alone and find happiness within myself.  Perhaps, that bothers me the most.  I need to be able to move forward and be at peace.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Another Thanksgiving in the Books...

I survived yesterday!

I ended up reserving a room at Aloft again due to the A/C problem.  Today, the weather is quite the opposite - it is cold and the temperature in the apartment has hit 70.  I also think it is time to change the living room smoke alarm batteries.  I believe I heard something chirp and that was when I turned on the heat.  Still, I must tell the complex today that the A/C has an obvious leak and needs to be fixed.  I will also ask them to come in and replace the batteries in the two smoke alarms...if I do not call Rent-A-Man first.

I made it over for the Thanksgiving gathering.  Sitting on the bar stools always make me hurt and this year, it really kicked up the knee pain.  Considering the bad rains I had to endure getting there and back, I really think I probably should have just stayed home.  I "white knuckled it" home.  People were driving crazy and the splashing of the water onto my car where I could not see was abundant.

I got home to an apartment that was 80 degrees - WITH THE FREAKING WINDOW OPENED!  Considering the rain, there is no way I could allow the window to remain open, so the whole scenario was ridiculous.

I grabbed a few things and put into an overnight bag, got the dogs, stopped by Applebee's to grab a sandwich, then headed to Aloft.  I was so soaked from the rain.  I had to walk the dogs in the rain, then was continually getting drenched every time I had to go outside.

While the room was nice at Aloft, I was not able to get a first floor room.  That did not make Bo very happy.  It is a major undertaking to get him into an elevator - he hates them.  However, once out of the elevator and to the room, both Bo and Chloe were able to relax, especially once the room temperature hit 65 degrees.  

Me?  I sat at the desk after getting everyone else settled and looked out the rain covered window.  How could a holiday like this be so upside down?  I was upset over some things I had learned at the dinner.  I was looking for how do I let it all go - how to get past the pain?  I missed my mother terribly.  I had been an hour and half late getting to the "gathering" due to weather and sorting out how to keep the dogs comfortable in the apartment.  Driving in the rain is not my most favorite thing to do since the accident in 2006 with the "Bug."  I was going over there to have dinner with my father.  Going home, I continued to wonder if I had done the right thing with fighting with the weather and the emotions waving over me.

Next year, I will just stay home and do what I had intended to do - Relax, make my own dinner, and enjoy the day being Thankful for the dogs in my life and blessed with the opportunities I have been given.  Let my mother know how thankful I am for the time I had with her and how I am trying hard to stand on my own.

My prayers for the upcoming year - finding a way to afford getting a house and being able to breathe again.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful, But Very Annoyed...

Today is Thanksgiving.  While I sit here and feel thankful for the privileges provided to me in this world and life, I am really annoyed beyond belief.  Technically, I am trying to find that place where I laugh this all off, but I am finding it difficult right now.

My oven does not work, so I am not too confident about cooking anything in it.  Starting Tuesday, the A/C quit working.  True - this time of year begs for cooler temps, but living in Texas, the weather is psychotic.  Freezing one day, blazing hot the next.  

Nothing pisses me off more than to have been jacking with the A/C throughout the summer.  Before the really bad heat of summer, I contacted the maintenance that the A/C was not working.  I was told to change the filter.  I had already done that and the one he took out was not that dirty.  However, he also charged the unit with coolant.  Towards August, it happened again.  I had already changed the filter, so it could not be that.

The unit got another charge of coolant.  In the past 6 weeks, the unit stops cooling after 2 weeks exactly.  It is obvious that there is a leak and it needs repair.  However, it is also apparent that they do not want to "fix" the issue - just band aid it until winter really hits and I am supposedly using the heater.


Come Spring - I will be very intolerant of the situation.

The carbon monoxide unit chirped last night - indicating that the battery is drained again after 8 days.  I changed the battery, but with the 80 degree apartment (with the windows opened), the dogs were just not having anything to do with it.

I am eternally grateful that Aloft hotel in Frisco had a room available for the dogs and I.  I was so angry that it had to come to this - having to get a hotel room for the night just to get cool and some sleep.  

For as many times as I have been to Aloft for an overnight stay due to something haywire at the apartment, I have never taken a shower.  This time, I did it.  I felt awful and nasty and tonight, damn it, I was going to get a good night's rest.

Once I got the dogs settled with their leashes off, bowl of water, then setting the thermostat to 65, I headed to the shower.  Even though it is just a shower stall, I really like it.  With my knee hurting, having to lift my right leg to get into the bathtub for a shower at the apartment is a pain.  However, this was so nice.  Bonus for the dogs, I did not lock them out of the room.  As long as I am in their sight, they will lie down and wait for me to finish whatever I am doing.  

After that, I felt a lot more relaxed.  I dried my hair quickly with no styling - no point.  I climbed into bed and the dogs found their spot and we all settled in for the night.  Chloe hardly left my side - it was sweet.  She was not breathing heavy due to being hot - I knew she was comfortable.

I would say that we all slept well last night.  It stayed cool and it was very comfortable.  This morning, as I walked the dogs around the hotel, I even considered getting the room again for tonight.  However, I thought better of it.  I was very grateful that we were able to get the room, have a good night's sleep, and the room was on a discounted price.  

As I was lying on the bed thinking before getting ready to leave the hotel, I thought about how I was fortunate to be able to have gotten the hotel room.  Also, here I am complaining and getting angry over this business with the apartment and I realize that there are some people who wish that they even had that choice.  At that point, I felt stupid for being so angry.  My situation could be a lot worse and I need to be more thankful for the ability and choices I have.  Others less fortunate than myself do not have that.  I hope that for those people, their lives will get better and that for today, they can get a hot meal, dry place to stay, and blessed with an opportunity.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Technology Woes...

One of the things I missed on my "To Do" list was paying bills and such.  I would have done this last weekend, but I got a bit lazy.  Now, I need to do it, so I have that off my mind.

I ran my errands.  Prescriptions have been either renewed or new ones dropped off for filling.  Friday, after my doctor's appointment (what in the hell was I thinking - blood sugar check up AFTER Thanksgiving?!), I will run my errands to pick up my meds that I have reordered.

Now, I am home and trying to backup and redo my iPad 2's set up.  This poor Dell laptop is catching all sorts of hell.  I bought it in 2009 before my mom passed away.  It was primarily to be used as a gaming system for when I was over there taking care of my mom.  I needed a release and blowing away aliens would always make me feel a bit better.  Farmville simply was not cutting it.  Sort of where I am with Sim City BuildIt on my phone - I set things to be either grown, baked, or made, then forget to get them.

Anyway, I have rebooted this system several times.  Not sure why the laptop is having so many issues with the iPad2 connected.  iTunes takes forever to start and run.  It is beginning to really annoy me.  All the more reason I need to put aside some money and create a Windows 10 main server.  That way, it would be so much better.  

It is pretty disgusting the "lab" I have created.  I have a bunch of systems, one that is about 20 years old.  I like using it because I can practice some of the interesting things using networking and so forth.  No such lab at work.  The company won't provide that to us, but it would be very helpful.  I gain so much from just "playing" with new software and such.  Much easier to break and fix a system and not have a bunch of people yelling at my desk to fix it.

So, I guess another reboot is in order.  Maybe I will sort out the budget and all will be good.

Making the Most of My First Day Off...

I tried to do some work Monday and Tuesday on the apartment, but was only somewhat successful.  Today, since it is a bit dreary, I have a plan to do the following:

  • Clear the kitchen
    • Get rid of the clutter
    • Organize the pantry
    • Set up the new items on the counters
    • Put or throw away those items that either no longer work, expired, or not used.
  • Get prescriptions filled
    • New injectable insulin medication
    • New oral medication
    • Regular refills
  • Relax
That last one is important.  I think stress and such make the whole situation with my back and knee worse.

I am annoyed with the fact that the a/c is out again.  This has happened every two weeks for a month.  It simply proves that the maintenance has no clue on how to fix the a/c unit.  Also, they are waiting out the weather, so that I am not using the a/c unit.

I hate being of that age where one's hormones or high blood sugar drives your weather conditions crazy.  Most people are cold when they step outside.  Not me - I find it refreshing.  If I wear a jacket, I am too hot and start sweating.  This past weekend, when the temps dipped pretty low, it felt darn good to me.  It was so good that both dogs and I slept in later than normal.

Tonight, I will prepare dinner and kick back to evaluate the other things I need to do this weekend.  I really want to make the most of this time off in the apartment.  I am tired of the craziness.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

BAH! Working on Plan B...

I had noticed that my oven was not heating up as quickly as it normally would.  It was not until I attempted to cook a Papa Murphy's pizza in the oven that I actually realized the issue.  The bottom heating element is no longer heating.  That spells disaster for getting anything cooked properly.

So, Thanksgiving is around the corner.  I do not figure I will be able to cook a proper Thanksgiving dinner for myself this year.  What is Plan B?  

First, I plan on ordering a meal from Buca di Beppo.  I had ordered such a dinner from the restaurant back in 2011.  I had tried getting a meal from a nice restaurant, which I will not name, but what we got provided no leftovers.  Thanksgiving without leftovers is a bad thing.  My father hurried off that night to have Thanksgiving again with his girlfriend and never invited me.  (That would not be the first time that my father takes off to celebrate a holiday without asking me - it is where I truly feel my father wants nothing to do with me since my mother's death.)

I had nothing in the house to eat, so I sat in the apartment watching TV.  That was when I saw the Buca di Beppo commercial about Thanksgiving dinner and the place was opened.  I felt horrible, but I called and asked if I could place an order.  What I got for a small meal was enormous, yet, so very delicious.  I was very thankful - while it was not my mom's traditional meal, it was very satisfying.  I even had plenty of leftovers - I felt blessed.

Second, I am researching getting a convection oven while I am awaiting for my oven to be repaired.  I could buy the part myself, but getting it installed is another matter.  Also, since I live in an apartment, it should be the complex's responsibility to take care of such matters.  The broken heating element has been reported and I have been told that the part must be ordered.  So, I have to wait.

I think I have found what will work for me.  It is at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I really do not like the idea of spending more money, but honestly, microwave foods are getting a bit old.  Also, there is an advantage of using the oven for cooking smaller meals as well as using it more when the weather becomes hotter.  

Now, I just need to make sure that Plan B works.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Being Older and Single...

This weekend, I was able to meet up with a small group of high school friends to catch up on activities since the reunion.  It was great seeing people and catching up.  It also gave me the feeling of "family" that I had not felt in some time.  That was nice and heart warming.

One friend is going through a divorce.  I had known that the marriage was having some major issues, but I had not heard of everything that had happened.  This friend was very sad over her current situation and she said she thought of me when it came to "How do you do the dating thing?"


Well, first, I have never been married.  That opportunity has never been presented to me.  Furthermore, my friend was married for 26 years.  That is quite a long time to be together and for the marriage to fall apart is heart breaking.  I have no basis of where to even understand that other than the loss of friendship.  However, this is about love and marriage - very different.

Second, as I have probably mentioned here, when I turned 40, I gave up.  Yeah, that sounds like the easy way out, but then again, what do they say, "It will happen when you least expect it"?  Dating had been difficult for me from middle school to today.  As they also say, you cannot compare your life with mine.  This is so very true.  My friend was always fortunate - when she was younger, she was never without a boyfriend or companion.  I was quite the opposite - I never had anyone.  No one wanted to be with me.

I look at her and know that deep down, she won't be alone for long.  While I would not suggest getting on Tender and what have you (I can joke, but seriously, no), I really think it won't take long for her to find someone or someone to find her.  Heck, the group were already suggesting that she and another single man from our high school days get together.   Not to be that selfish, but no one offered to help me.  Get my point.

When I decided that marriage and children were off the menu for me, I wanted to work on "me".  Be selfish and do what I had learned later from watching a Tyler Perry play:  Learn to live alone - get your peace.  If you have no peace in your life, then you do not need to bring someone else into it.  No one *needs* someone to get by in life.  You have to learn to be happy with yourself and find your peace.  Once you get to that part, the rest will come together.

I just have not found my peace and happiness.  I am trying, but I have been allowing other things to cloud my goals - Dealing with my mom's illness, her death, my father moving on, then the loss of my childhood home.  That last one sort of sticks with me in that I remember my mom crying after my grandmother's home and land had been sold.  It had to be done, but she cried about not being able to go home.  The whole idea that her own mother was gone from this world and there was no going back.  I understood it perfectly and would cry - I still cry.

Here I am - 49 years old - never married and no relationship.  Most people would think that I am socially inept.  I do not think that.  It is about physical appearance and attitudes.  No one dates the fat woman.  I hang out with guys as they are my friends and they treat me like a sister.  That is how it goes.  If I have any feelings towards anyone, I withhold because I know my heart will break.  Hell, it does anyway.  So, it is just easier for me to deal with the friendships.  Also, many of my male friends do not mind hanging out with me because I am no threat.  Their wives know it, so it works.

My advice to this sweet friend:

Go back to school, join a work out group, go to the park, or visit the church group for singles.  There are plenty of opportunities for you to find someone.  You will not be alone for long - this I know in my heart.  Your situation regarding being single is much different from mine.  It was easy for you in the past and it will be easy for you now.  You are a beautiful person inside and out.  Just have faith in that.

My Thoughts on the Paris Bombings...

I just happened to be listening to The Ticket when I heard the news about the bombings in Paris.  Oddly enough, the next show would spend some time discussing the breaking news and activity.  

I was horrified to know that bombs were detonated at a soccer stadium, people were shot while simply enjoying their meals outside, and those who were held in the Bataclan and being picked off.  It was just something unimaginable and threw me back to how I felt when the twin towers were hit by the airplanes.  The sick part of the twin towers incident was that I watched in horror when the second plane hit the second tower.  I was sick to my stomach.  

I remember 9/11 and the day after as being so somber.  Driving into work, I would see the military airplanes flying around the Dallas/Fort Worth skies.  I wondered if life would ever return to any sort of normalcy.

I realize that there are places where bombings and such terrorist activities take place every day.  Suddenly, people are offended by those who wish to show their support for France during this time.  We should show support for all who endure these issues.

While I do not disagree that all who suffer at the hands of terrorists should see support, France showed us support when 9/11 occurred.  My ancestors are French and I have a special place in my heart for France.  I always will.

I would love for those who go on about the vicious cycle of violence to take a hard look at the situation.  While those will point out peace talks with Putin and so forth, remember Israel and Palestine - Decades of peace talks and there are still bombings there.  It never ends.  

The reason it never ends is because the terrorist factions must be eliminated completely.  No one wants that because that means killing men, women, and children.  However, if a leader is taken down, then another one just pops up.  If you want a sick mindset, let's discuss those terrorists in Africa where they capture the boys and train them to kill.  No one ever wants to hurt a child, but what do you do when they are carrying out the duties to kill you?

Terrorists are exactly that - Terrorists.  These people have no care for human life.  It is all about power and control for them and as many have said, let's not let them have that.  It is what they seek; it is what they desire.  Do not allow those people to take that from us.

Am I angry that France began bombing areas?  No.  I do remember that France was not behind us when we started bombing Iraq.  Remember the Freedom Fries?  Is it wrong?  Who is to really judge?  I can say the following - every country needs to band together against these terrorists.  Locate who is fueling these terrorists groups with "blood money" and eradicate the financial backing, then go after the leaders, then those who would follow up.  In the end, you have to kill all of them before you are done.  As disgusting as it seems, that is more or less the end game.  The only problem, someone will rise up to do the same again.

I have come to the belief that there will always be violence in this world.  We can all preach about peace and love all day long, but at the end of the day, someone will have done something.  It never fails.  In order to stop the circle of violence, we must look within ourselves and stop that which begins at home.  

As for France, my thoughts and prayers for those who lost their lives, still in the hospital, the loved ones suffering from their losses, and the country as a whole for being put into fear.  I know the French are proud and will continue to show the world that they are strong.  Just know that there are many who are there with you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Why Is It 80 Degrees In Here?!

Last night, I came home and when I entered, the apartment had this stale feel to it.  That is never a good sign.  I was in a world of pain with my back, knee, and felt like I could puke at any time.  I got upstairs and realized it was rather warm.  I check the thermostat and it was 73 degrees.  That is not good because I keep it set at 70 degrees.

The temperature continued to rise through the night to 76 degrees.  To say I did not sleep well was the understatement of the year.  I was truly uncomfortable for my own physical reasons, but top that off with hormonal heat flashes and cannot get cool.  I am NOT a pleasant person to interact with when I am in that condition.

This morning, the temp started with 76 degrees and continued to rise to 80 degrees.  

I called first thing this morning to get someone to check the unit.  Backstory:  Two weeks ago, same damn thing happened - I think all the maintenance dude did was charge the unit with freon, but not sure.  No one ever called to let me know that they did anything.  Today, I am a very unhappy camper.

Nothing seemed to be moving, so I called again.  I was told that a work order was opened to look at the unit.  They realized two weeks ago, I had called about the same issue.  I would think - A/C unit is jacked - fix it right this time!

The dogs are very uncomfortable and they are not alone.  I have fans on and windows opened.  Bo is driving my current PMS state over a line with his Bark-A-Poolza.  Bark, bark, bark.  He hears every little thing and has to bark about it.  I just want to be in an ice-cold room and sleep.  It has been awhile since I have had a good night's sleep, so all of this is not helping.

Praying that the maintenance person will get the unit cooling soon.  Unfortunately, I have a few other issues to get fixed as well.  Problem is - complex people were in here in August and took inventory of those issues.  No one has done anything about them at this time.  Time to start opening more work orders and stay home to make sure the work gets done.

How About We All Quit Being So Over Sensitive?

Okay - so Starbucks does not have those lovely decals of snowflakes, snowmen, and whatever on the holiday cups this year.  Seriously?  We are going to spend our days pitching a fit over that?  

You know, I want my skinny vanilla latte - I could give a rip about the damn cup as long as it is the right size.

Starbucks is not declaring war on Christianity.  Get a HUGE grip and realize that we have so many groups of people just looking for some damn excuse to get rid of Christmas.  What the company did was rather than go overboard on what all was on the cup, the company just said "Too much energy on this - just go with a solid color - red".  How about we all tell the company - Look, want to avoid more critical comments, just avoid the whole seasonal shit - period.  Hell, I would not mind getting a pumpkin latte or peppermint mocha when I wanted.

No one can do anything without some group of people getting offended.  Good God!  In this country, maybe freedom of speech has been taken a little bit too far.  

All my life, I have been called "fat", "lard ass", and heaven knows what other adjectives for overweight.  Does it hurt?  Hell, yes, it hurts my feelings.  Does anyone give a flip and take a stand to change people's attitudes?  If they do, it never works.

People are so worried about exclusion, but they do not seem to see where they have inclusion.  Rather than complain about Christmas offending them, how about we all observe every religion's spiritual holidays?  Does that ever happen?  No.  Maybe that is where my thoughts regarding religion is bad stems.

I will always be proud of our forefathers for providing us with a place to live that allows anyone to practice their own religious beliefs, say what they feel, and be free.  Let's not soil that gift by being selfish.  Generally speaking, I have never known the holidays to ever leave anyone out - no matter what religion you practice, it is the time of the year that people generally open their hearts.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Too Many Cooks - Oral Fixation...

I submitted this one for the "Too Many Cooks", but it, too, did not make the cut.  I am not sure I have anything for the other themes for the rest of the season.  However, I figured I would post this - It was to honor my mother who was OCD about cooking.

Just looking at me, I bet you could not tell I was a “Foodie.”  Well, I am.  I love eating all sorts of new and interesting foods.  One of the many things I thank my mother for having taught me.  I learned to love broccoli as “little trees”, Brussel sprouts were “little cabbages,” and asparagus as “tall trees.”  However, in my honest opinion, no one could cook like my mother and probably never will.

The repertoire of meals may have repeated themselves from time to time and my mother was keen on trying new recipes.  However, the holiday dinners were always a standard:

Easter – Ham, potato salad, deviled eggs, some green vegetable, and coconut cake

Memorial Day/4th of July/Labor Day – BBQ pork butt, potato salad, corn, and some dessert

Thanksgiving – Turkey, corn bread dressing, candied yams, broccoli or asparagus, rolls, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pecan pie, and maybe a coco-cola or chocolate candy cake.

Christmas – for many years was the same as Thanksgiving until my mother grew tired of cooking turkey, so we would have prime rib roast, mashed potatoes, broccoli/green beans/asparagus, and ring of coconut cake

In the early days, not sure how my parents managed it, but we would go to both relatives homes for the holiday dinner.  My mother was keen on telling me the story of how she had cooked a turkey and on their way to Chauvin, LA to see my father’s side of the family, my father had cut pieces off of the turkey to eat.  By the time they got to his home, the turkey was completely gone.

By the time my family had moved to West Monroe, LA, we started staying home to have holiday dinners.  My mother would slave in the kitchen and my father and I would either play some board game or watch TV.  As I got older, my mother would start trying to introduce me to some cooking aspects.

Most of my life, I lived in a mobile home.  The mobile home was easier to move with every time my father’s company would transfer him to another area.  So, the kitchen was pretty small.  It was very easy for people to step on one another if there were a lot of people in the house.

As I got older, my mother was growing tired of being the one always cooking the meals.  Most of the time, she was not feeling well or was not getting enough sleep.  Before the holidays, my mom would have a temper regarding being the one slaving in the kitchen.  At this point, I had learned how to make iced tea, bake corn bread, and clean the vegetables as she liked.  I was horrible at handling a knife when peeling potatoes.  She would watch me and finally give up, telling me that she was afraid I would cut myself in addition to have taken off more potato than skin.

This particular year, I said I would help with cutting the celery.  I wanted to help.  I felt bad that I was not doing more.  Then, again, I also had other things I really wanted to do, so guilt won that decision.

As I sat at the table, I asked my mom to show me how she wanted the celery chopped.  I watched intently as she chopped the celery.  My mom was very precise with doing the chopping, so when it came my turn, I worked to chop the celery as she had.  It was fairly nerve-wrecking to be chopping and my mother watching me like a hawk.  When I would chop a piece not to her liking, she would promptly say “Melissa, that is not right.  It is too large.”  “No, that is too thin.”  “No – you want something a little thicker.”  “Why are you not getting this?”  Finally, she got fed up with my chopping ability stating that I had no clue what I was doing and was better off doing it herself.  Furthermore, I was wasting her time if I was not going to do the job right.  She ordered me out of the kitchen – immediately.

I went to my room, closed the door, and put on my headphones.  Part of me was happy I did not have to be involved in that.  It was way too stressful.  However, I had, again, disappointed my mother.  The one thing I worked so hard not to do – I always wanted to make her proud of me and I felt like a total screw up.

After that incident, I backed away from offering help.  The jobs I knew I could do well were making the iced tea, baking the corn bread, toasting the bread,  as well as making pies, cakes, and rolls.  I lent a hand when I was asked, but one needed to realize that there was only one cook in that kitchen and that was my mom.  Otherwise, there were too many cooks and that did not work.

In 2000, my mom had been diagnosed with colon cancer.  She endured chemotherapy for several months.  She was tired a lot of time, but when it came to doing the holiday dinner, she was in the kitchen doing her thing.

By 2001, I decided it was time to move out into my own apartment.  Earlier that year, my mom and I had talked while doing some shopping.  She felt it was time I move out – not because she was pushing me out, but wanted to make sure that I could make it on my own.  Her worry was that if something happened to her, I would not be able to make it on my own.  Oddly enough, when I did get the apartment to move out, she got really pissed off.  She acted supportive by getting me a sofa, flatware, microwave, and other items I needed.  However, when she talked to her friends, she was really angry at me for moving out on her.  I was really shocked when I learned of this.

During this time, I would cook the things I knew I could do, but I knew I had to open up my own repertoire of recipes.  I would go home on the weekends, so I would sit and watch my mom cook.  I finally asked her to show me how to make the goulash she would always make.  I wrote down everything and learned that many of her recipes were to taste – not measured.  That was why I was so good at baking because one did not go off the recipe too much.  However, with cooking, one will cook the original recipe, then tweak it the subsequent times.

In 2005, I moved into a nicer apartment.  The first apartment had a galley kitchen and the new apartment had a larger kitchen.  I was cooking more meals for myself and I needed more space for doing the prep work.  My mother was so happy over that, for Christmas, she got me a Calphalon cooking set. 

In 2008, my mother was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.  Even before we knew what she had, I knew whatever illness she had was going to be cancer and this time, we would not be so lucky.  As she was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments, that Thanksgiving, my father, mother, and I had to share cooking responsibilities.  I worked to get everything chopped for the dressing the night before as I was preparing the cornbread and toast.  The next morning, as my mother was putting everything together for the dressing, she was pleased with how the celery and onion were chopped.  Oddly enough, the turkey that year fell apart when it was removed from the oven.  It was not a bad tasting turkey, but it made everyone laugh.

My mom’s health began to deterorize rapidly in 2009.  I spent more days at my parent’s house than my own apartment helping to care for my mother.  I would cook dinner from time to time.  Even though what I prepared was generally okay, my mother would tell me she knew it was good, but due to chemo, everything tasted like shit.  I would only smile and try something else, but not much I could do. 

However, at one point, my mom asked me why I did not try to cook more meals while living at home.  I smiled and said “mom, I never cut or peeled anything to your liking.  It was better to cook without you in the kitchen because no matter what, the food would come out tasting good.”  She was not happy about that, but she knew I was right.

That Thanksgiving would be the last one with my mom.  I worked hard to prepare the meal as she would have liked.  I knew she enjoyed it when she gave me the thumbs up and told me how good it was, even though she just could not eat much of it.

My mom passed away January 2010.  The holidays have never quite been the same without her.  One year, my father decided to spend Thanksgiving with some friends.  While I had invites from friends to spend the holiday with them, I chose to stay home with my furry family and I fixed Thanksgiving dinner for us.  When saying “grace”, I thanked my mother for helping me learn how to stand on my own.

In the Doghouse - Oral Fixation Submission

Considering I was passed up on this edition of Oral Fixation, I did submit the following:

When I was three years old, my mother took me to a party that a friend of hers was holding.  The hostess had an older dog, which had just given birth to a litter of puppies.  Unfortunately, only two of the puppies had survived birth, so the mother was grieving and extremely over protective of the remaining two puppies.  

Being a small child, I was fascinated with the puppies and wanted to pet them.  I had said I wanted to go to the bathroom, so I headed in that direction.  As I passed, I had leaned down to just pet the puppies when the mother attacked me.  I was bitten on my arm, both legs and above my left eye.  My mother rushed me to the hospital, where several people had to hold me down to put in the stitches.  

I cannot remember what happened to the mother dog.  I think she was euthanized, but I hope that was not the case.  I carry a great deal of guilt over the incident – right or wrong. 
When I was six, our family was adopted by a rather large stray dog.  The dog was well tempered and very friendly.  My mom had tried a few times to dissuade the dog from hanging around the house, but to no avail, the dog stayed.  My parents finally gave into the idea of having a dog once I named the dog, of all things, “Girl.”

It was during this time that homes in our neighborhood were being robbed.  My father’s job required him to work very long hours or go out of town to work.  That left my mom and me alone at home.  Intruders would come banging on the house to scare us and it really had my mom rattled.

When Girl came into our lives, she provided safety to the family.  If someone came around that was not supposed to be there, she would bark and growl.  Hearing Girl alerted us and would thwart the intruder.  At the time, I did not realize it, but Girl was our “protector.” 
We lost Girl after we had her boarded for a trip to see relatives.  I am not sure what happened exactly, but I was told that Girl had escaped while we were gone.  The boarders had done nothing to retrieve her.  I cried over the loss of my “friend.”  My mom was adamant about not getting another dog until we had a house with a fenced in yard. 
In 1978, my family moved to Crowley, TX.  When we got there, we experienced a few incidents where people tried to break into our home.  Still, my father was constantly working late hours or going out of town to work, so my mom and I were left at the house alone.  My mom hated being left at home at night.  That feeling was made worse with people trying to break into our home.  Those incidents upset her so much, that she would stay up all night, make sure I made it to school, and go to sleep until I returned home. 

That December, my mother saw a Pomeranian in PetLand at Hulen Mall.  She had fallen in love with a little Pomeranian that would come visit our house.  He was deep orange-red, small, and looked like a little fox.  My mother had her heart set on getting a Pomeranian.  Now, she had found one.

March 1979, my parents came to pick me up from roller skating.  Once I got into the car, my mom told me that they had to go into the store to pick up some items.  She asked if I would look after something for her.  When I said “Yes”, she handed me the Pomeranian and asked what did I think?  I fell in love with the little dog.

We named the dog, “BJ”.  Being a pet store animal, the little guy had a lot of health issues at first.  In the beginning, BJ rarely barked.  In fact, I do not think he barked much until one day.

It was another weekend where my father had to go out of town for work.  I had been up for a few hours and wanted to ask my mother for something.  My mother was still staying up all night for fear of not hearing someone break into our home.  

I quietly went to her bedroom door, which was left open, and whispered “Mom.”  The next thing I saw was BJ at the corner of the bed, growling and bearing his teeth.  I had flashbacks of when I was attacked flying through my mind.  I tried to slowly back away, when I saw BJ jump from the bed, barking and growling.

I ran as fast as I could from my mom’s bedroom back to my bedroom.  I had a wooden barrier across the door to keep BJ out of my room.  He had a nasty habit of using my room as a bathroom.  As BJ chased me through the house, I literally jumped over this 3 foot barrier to get into my room.

Out of breath, I turned around and there was BJ on the other side, panting and wagging his tail.  I could hear my mother laughing in hysterics at what she had just witnessed.  At that point, my mother felt that she had a “protector”.  She was not wrong, either.  Every time someone came to the door, before they could reach the door bell, BJ let us know.

BJ was with my family for 17 years.  When he passed away, I realized that little dog made our family complete.  We never boarded BJ based upon past events.  He went on every trip we took, but most of those were to see family and friends.  Everyone knew that BJ was part of the family.  BJ was not just a dog or pet, but he was family.

Six months after BJ’s passing, we got Stormy, another Pomeranian.  My mom had trouble with accepting Stormy into the family in the beginning.  BJ had been her dog and seeing Stormy walk into our lives made it hard for her.  However, Stormy was not just one person’s dog – he loved everyone.  And, like BJ, he was very protective of the family.  Stormy healed the wounds from BJ’s passing and again, we had a new family member.

In 2000, we lost Stormy due to a collapsing trachea.  We had been on a trip when the incident happened and rushed him to the nearest vet’s office.  The vet had gone to lunch and would not be back, so we watched him die with no help.  It was the point where I no longer wanted another dog.  I could not handle the loss and I grieved for months.  I realize I was not the only one grieving, but I had taken it very hard.  

Upon reflection, it was probably a blessing.  My mother was diagnosed with colon cancer.  She had surgery to remove the tumor, then had to endure 8 months of chemotherapy.

Towards the end of BJ’s life and all through Stormy’s life, my mother would take the dogs to I-20 Animal Hospital in Arlington.  She had become friends with the vet that would tend to our dogs.  So, when mom was not doing chemo, she would go to the vet’s office and help care for the animals in ICU.  

One of the vet technicians had gotten a female Pomeranian for his girlfriend as a Christmas present.  The girlfriend did not want the dog, so the little dog was cared for at the vet’s office.  The vet had asked my mother if she would consider fostering the dog.  My mother spent time thinking about it.  When I had come home from work, she wanted to discuss it with me.  I told her it was her decision and I would help, but if she got the dog, it was because she wanted the dog.  My mom had blamed me for having to get Stormy, so I wanted to be clear that I was not asking for the dog.  The following morning, my mom and dad went to see about the little dog.

According to my mother, the moment the little dog saw my father, her face lit up as did my father’s.  I came home to see a little ball of fur that was bossy and fussy.  She was adorable.  I came up with what she should be named that everyone liked – Chloe.

I moved out once I knew my mom would be okay healthwise.  In 2007, I adopted a blue merle Pomeranian, named “Bo”.  When I got Bo, I realized how much hard work it was to have a dog.  But, I realized how much each dog has made me a better person.  It is difficult to describe, but I do not think I would be the person I am today without having a dog in my life.