Saturday, May 31, 2014

Home From a Glorious Trip Home (Part One)

What I wore to the airport
I came home on Thursday after leaving the previous Wednesday.  That’s right!  I was out of town from the 21st through the 29th.  Did you miss me?

Last year in April I went up north to visit my family and the timing was horrid.  Romanov had justdied, and I was still grieving his loss, feeling it every moment of every day. Although I’m always grateful to see my family, it was nonetheless, a difficult visit.

It was also the visit where I came up with the idea that Rob and I should visit New York and my mother and her husband gleefully offered to send us on our honeymoon.

This year everything went more smoothly than I could have hoped, especially when one considers that we were told we might have to put Holly to sleep merely a few weeks earlier.  Seriously, think about how scary that must have been, knowing I was getting ready for a trip and learning that a beloved dog (that just so happens to look like another much beloved dog) might have to be put to sleep . . .

It wasn’t good.

But this year the stories all have happy endings and there’s another tri p on our horizon.  (More on that later.)

I left on 21 May and arrived at my mother’s where we were alone, just the two of us because her husband was out of town.  Well, just the two of us if you don’t count Lizzie, my mother’s Shih Tzu, and Beauty, her parrot.  And one mustn’t discount them! 

I settled in quickly and my mother and I went out to dinner.  We were naughty and had waffles a la mode with stewed apples.  It was sooooo good.  We also went to Hot Jewelry Box in Ridgewood.  We call it the bling store and I wish they had a website so I could show you some of the sparkly wonderfulness contained within.  We found a couple of things for Bibi, including a precious bracelet.  My mother looked at a pin which I sneaked in with my one other item and had to surreptitiously purchase with her standing practically at my shoulder the entire time. 

Once we were home, we watched Tangled because I wanted my mother to enjoy the song “Mother Knows Best” which I knew she would love.   I didn’t expect we’d watch the whole movie but we did.  And I was right; she loved the song.  She enjoyed the whole movie, actually.  So we ended our first night on a good (but I was so exhausted) note.

The next day, I went into the city (by which I mean New York City)  to meet with Love.  Our mothers were pregnant together and Love was born 14 February while I was born a month late on 4 April.  (In other words, we should have been born only a couple of weeks apart but six weeks had to go by before I finally came out into the real world.)  I gave Love two gifts—a photograph and a bracelet.  My mother had bought me one and I bought one for Love (while I was buying the pin for my mother). 

Strike a pose
Although Love was tired from not getting a good night’s sleep (she’d had an argument with her son).  We still managed to have a wonderful time, catching up and loving one another.  The waitress took our picture at my request and I told Love she should strike a pose.  As you can see, I did but she didn’t.  Oops.  After lunch, we went to a bakery to buy her husband some cannoli and then we went to Sugar & Plumms, a glorious place I discovered on my honeymoon, for some macarons for me and my mother.  If you think they look pretty, you’ll have to take my word for it when I say they taste ten times as good as they look.

They do.  Really.

Once I was back in New Jersey and with my mother, we decided to have some real food and headed to her favorite Italian place.  I ordered linguini Bolognese.  We didn’t have dessert because we had macarons awaiting us at home.  (In case you don’t remember, when Rob and I had the macarons on our honeymoon, he decided they were so delicious that he went back to Sugar & Plumm’s to get more the very next day.  You know it’s something deliciously special when you want more the very next day.)

Macarons from Sugar & Plumm's
We ended the evening by baking a lemon cake and eating some of the macarons while watching Up which Rob kindly allowed me to borrow.  If my mother enjoyed Tangled, she loooooved Up.  So I was two for two in bringing DVDs for her enjoyment.  I headed off to bed, way past my bedtime and two days in a row of being up late was making me all the more tired.  And for some stupid reason, I was still waking up at 5am.  However, I forced myself to read a little and just go right back to sleep, if possible.  It worked a few times.  Not each and every time but almost nearly every time.

Friday we headed to Harmony Tea Room with my mother’s friend Barbara.  Rob and I have made cookies for Barbara because she had pancreatic cancer and we make delicious no-sugar added confections (like oatmeal and chocolate chip using bittersweet chocolate and almond biscotti and . . . well, you get the idea).  Barbara is frail but we were able to enjoy some tea, finger sandwiches, scones, and other deliciousness.  My favorite sandwich was a roll made with brown bread that had a curried filling.  It was my mother’s favorite too.  And the scone was wonderful, served with lemon curd and clotted cream and just the right amount of raspberry preserves.  There was no pretending, however, that Barbara is in a great deal of pain and holding onto life by a slender thread.  My mother thinks that she is determined to live to see her daughter married.  Sadly, she wouldn’t be the first person who lived long enough to see something important happen and then lose the strength to fight any longer.

Love and I are
wearing the bracelets
We had to do more work on the birthday cake.  You see, when my mother read aloud to me the measurements for the mix, I either misheard her or she said them wrong.  Either way, the layers came out of the oven the day before not quite as high as they ought to have been.  Which is how and why we ended up baking more lemon cake on Saturday.  We had four decent sized layers, enough lemon pudding to layer between, and two containers of lemon frosting.  And by Monday morning my mother and I had eaten nearly half of the cake.  Do the math.  If we ate nearly half of it between the two of us, that means we ate a whole cake (because we used two mixes and two frostings (albeit we didn’t use all of the second container, thank goodness). 

Is it any wonder that when I got home I had gained 8 lbs?  I don’t even know how much my mother gained.  I don’t want to know.  I just have to recommit to my exercise (I’ll post about that on Tuesday) and get back to eating better.  Certainly, I don’t need to eat half a cake by myself.  Ugh. 

Oh but it was delicious!

One of my favorite spots
to read in my mother's home
Saturday we headed back to Ridgewood for Thai food with Judy, my mother’s other dear friend.  (So far you’ve met Sachi (her daughter anyway) and Barbara and you’ll meet one more friend before this visit is over.)  I had never met Judy before and I was eager to finally meet the elusive and mysterious friend who is loving, generous, and does too much.  This last a statement made by both my mother and her husband so it must be true.  We talked about college (she’s a professor) and education (I do have a degree in secondary English after all) and other things.  It was a lovely lunch and I enjoyed my ginger chicken immensely.  So satisfying.  One of my favorites whenever I go anywhere for Thai food, if it is offered.  

That evening we ate leftovers and more lemon cake while watching Her.  My step-father doesn’t like Spike Jonze films and my mother was happy to see this one.  Visually she loved it.  In fact, she loved it right up until the end.  She wanted a different ending.  Frankly, I was content with the ending in the film but I know why she was disappointed even if I found the film more fulfilling than she did.  I went to bed late, yet again, way past my bedtime.

Look how pretty.  Oh so pretty.
Sunday we drove to New Paltz where we had lunch at the Village Tea Room.  The soup of the day was a Moroccan lentil that was amazing and my mother had a potato something that is not on the menu I found online so I can’t tell you what it’s specifically called but if you see something on the menu with potato served in a flaky crust order it.  Or the soup.  Both were amazing.  I also had (because I’m a glutton, apparently) a raspberry lemon cake.  It was very pretty and the frosting was that perfect buttercream that’s not too sweet.  The cake itself was a little dense and dry but it was still soooo tasty. 

My cousin Maureen arrived after we had finished out desserts so I felt less like a pig because there were fewer witnesses.  Hey!  It works for me.  Don’t judge. 

Sometimes my mother's driving
scares me a little
My Aunt Cecelia had seven children—four daughters, a son, and then two more daughters.  Maureen is the youngest and one year younger than I and, whenever I would come to visit them on Long Island in their pretty suburban Colonial home, I would spend all of my time with Maureen and Eileen, who was one year older than I.  Can you imagine how enchanted I was with this overflowing family, being an only child myself and where it was only me and my mother?  So many children under one roof and a television.  A television!  It was grand.  And they had a mother (my aunt, obviously) who didn’t have to work so she was there all of the time.  She even made lollipops from scratch!  And they had a piano, albeit an upright one, but it still seemed grand to me.

We had a lovely time catching up and only left when it came time to leave to avoid the traffic.  Larry was coming back home but wouldn’t be home until after midnight.  My mother and I had another quiet evening, with her ironing and my watching The Mentalist.  We were enjoying the simplicity of simply being together. 

It was the perfect way to begin what turned out to be nearly a perfect visit.  More to come, obviously.  But you have to agree:  this post is long enough already.

May Has Come and Gone So Planning for June

‘Tis the end of the month which means it’s time for me to look at what’s on my horizon for June.  I had an eventful May and there’s a blog post full of info and pictures coming.  Okay.  More than one blog post because it was really That Full of Events that it will be best for me to break it up a bit.

But today is the last day of May and I have things already in mind for June.

Bullet Journal Update

I’m still working on getting into the Bullet Journal habit.  The past few months have been relentless with Holly being sick and then well and going into the office three and sometimes four times a week and things just seem to keep upsetting the apple cart, as it were.  I think the key for me is to look at it at the end of the day before I go to bed. I’ve been carrying it with me along with the books I am reading but then I end up reading instead of even glimpsing at my Moleskine.  I really have to be more committed.  The only thing keeping this from working for me is myself.  Unlike previous attempts with other systems, I really get a sense that this could and would work if I’d just put it into practice.  Not unlike finding the perfect exercise—you won’t get tone and lose weight if you don’t actually make yourself sweat.

Speaking of Exercise

I’m still not in a routine.  Today I’m going to sit down and map out my exercise agenda.  On days when I have to go to the office, I’ll do a short yoga practice (sun salutations) and the Scientific 7 Minute Workout.  Even if I oversleep a bit, I can squeeze these things in and take a shower to wash off the sweat.  On days when I am not going into the office, Rob and I will be walking but that isn’t really enough so a longer yoga practice and some HIIT.  I am feeling stronger, better able to catch myself, not dealing with knee discomfort.  The HIIT is perfect because it mixes cardio (which I enjoy more) with strength (which I find boring).  And because my schedule is irregular, I have to be flexible with what I do and when I do it. 

From Workout to Work

Things at the office continue to be . . .  interesting.  In March, one of the women turned in her two weeks’ notice but then decided to stay, probably persuaded to do so by the doctor.  In early April, a consultant was introduced to the mix and she’s there to help get everything running smoothly.  She noticed we don’t have an office manager and, in our first meeting, seemed to single out the front desk person.  Which is probably why, just before I left the office for the last couple of weeks, she had turned in her notice.  If I had not been going out of town (I promise the blog post(s) will be written soon), I could have easily interjected myself to learn the new skills necessary to do most of what she does in the two weeks but I was not there to learn things. 

In the meantime, I’m not doing any medical billing and coding, which is the whole purpose of my being there three mornings a week.  But the woman who is supposed to be training me is too overwhelmed so she asks me to print documents and do data entry and sometimes she even asks me to type something up.  Albeit, she only asks me to do that last thing because I pointed out to her that she is there to do coding and I can type very fast (80-100 wpm) so there’s no reason for her to stop what she is doing to type up something I can do in half the time it would take her.  Not to mention she has to use “my” computer to print which means I also have to stop doing anything while she slowly taps her way through even a short letter.

And all of this is why I am going to tell the doctor that I need a stipend of some sort, if not an actual salary of some sort.  I only come in a few hours but I’d be happy to come in for more hours a week if I could afford to do so and I could afford to do so if I had some sort of money coming my way.

But I’m Supposed to be Writing About June

If I’m not working at all in June, I’ll be focusing on earning more Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and training myself to manage the dogs better.  Rob’s been taking dog training classes but since I was out of town for some of the lessons he went with Joe.  It was just poor timing (again) and I am trying to catch up with what Rob and Joe already know. 

And Rob turns 43 this year.  We’re planning a repeat of what we did for my birthday—just invite everyone and hope they all (or most of them) show up.  Cake and ice cream and pizza, of course.  Chips and dip and such for stragglers.  It will be a full day of fun.

So June begins tomorrow and I get to reboot my life.  At least that’s how it feels right now.  Tomorrow, I’ll post the first of the Satia’s Vacation posts.  Not sure how many it will take to get through all the fun I had but I’m sure I’ll hit all of the highlights.  Truth is, I’ve only been home since Thursday and I’m already ready to go back.  I don’t like my real life and I far prefer being pampered over cleaning up dog vomit and shit.