"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Saturday, December 31, 2011



Time it was, oh, what a time it was, it was...

For me, it was a time of major change, a seismic shift in my parenting paradigm.

In fact, if I had to give this past year a name, I would tag it, "The Year of Letting Go." Or, to be perfectly honest, "The Year of Freeing Daniel From My Steely, Over-Protective Grasp".

Foremost on my mind, 24/7,  from Jan. 1 through May 23, was, of course, Daniel's upcoming high school graduation. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of impending loss. It was four months of  "lasts". Daniel's last Dessert Theatre. Daniel's last spring concert. Daniel's last day of his senior year.  My one and only Sonny Boy was soon to be leaving home. Cue the sack cloth and ashes, the gnashing of teeth. On and on and on I mourned. And not quietly, mind you.


Yes, the Empty Nest loomed ahead. And there was not a thing John and I could do about it except throw the best damn graduation party we could muster.  So we did. It took a village...but it was a great party.

Foremost on my mind, 24/7, from May 23 through August. 17, was Daniel's upcoming departure for  college.  "I've got all summer with him," I'd silently console myself. But I was wrong. His friends had all summer with him. Anyway I looked at it, all I could see was Daniel constantly distancing himself from me -- a normal emotional progression at this time in a young man's life, and I knew that (during my more rational moments, few that there were). But most days it was impossible for me to accept.

It is so clear now, looking back. Daniel was a short-timer in this mom's navy, ready to set sail on his own. We butted heads. We were both cranky and, quite frankly -- I think Daniel would agree -- we annoyed the hell out of each other most of the summer.

Yes, it was time for him to shove off. He knew it. I knew it. I knew he knew I knew it, and it was clear I didn't like it. But there was nothing I could do about it but buy him college stuff. Sheets. Laundry basket. Shower shoes. It took a small fortune...but he had everything he needed for his dorm room.

Then, suddenly, in the blink of an eye, the van was packed and we were headed down the highway, bound for Iowa City.  THE GREAT UNKNOWN.  My life, it seemed, was unravelling mile marker by mile marker.

John drove. Daniel slept. I took pictures of Daniel sleeping and steeled myself for the inevitable goodbye.  It was one helluva day.

I can think of only one other time that our house felt so empty, so void of life, as it did when we got back from Iowa City, sans Daniel, that night. The stillness was deafening.

Foremost on my mind, then, from Aug 17 thru Aug. 24, was emotional survival. It was, perhaps -- for me, anyway -- one of the longest, most difficult weeks of 2011.

From August. 24 thru Oct. 24 (my birthday), I immersed myself in thoughts of anything but what Daniel might possibly be doing at college besides studying. I cannot tell you precisely how I slogged through those two months (like the pain of childbirth, the details do fade with time), but I did.  I can tell you that it was disturbingly reminiscent of me breaking up with an old boyfriend (don't call him, leave him alone, let him live his life) -- which was never my strong suit.

But I digress.

Suffice to say, thanks to my Facebook obsession, working two jobs, the love of  family and friends, and regular calls/texts from Daniel, I slowly but surely began to rediscover and live my own life and let go of trying to steer and protect Daniel's.

Lo and behold, he remembered my birthday and melted my heart with a beautiful plant accompanied by a card carrying a quote based on one of my favorite, albeit  tear-invoking, books from his childhood.

"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my mommy you'll be."

Even now, just writing that, I cry.

Daniel surprised me with a visit home the following weekend, but even more surprising was that we spent a couple hours, not just a couple minutes, talking and laughing. We got along swimmingly. It was as if we were both seeing each other in a brand new, more interesting light.

The cranky, ready-to-bolt high school senior that I was loathe to leave on a crowded college campus last August, had, in the interim, morphed into a smiling, appreciative, delightful conversationalist who was, come to find out, having fun at college, yes, but getting good grades. And apparently he still loved his mom (who had also done a bit of growing up, ahem), and he still needed me, evidenced by, if nothing else, the humongous pile of laundry sitting on my kitchen floor.

Since October, I have come to relish the inner calm I feel knowing that Daniel is, above all else, happy. It is obvious he is in his element in Iowa City. He is thankful for the opportunity to follow his film-making dream. His laughter fills my heart. Letting go gave both of us a new lease on life.

And it's been a fun Christmas with Daniel, to boot.

Hence, perhaps for the first New Year's Eve in seemingly forever, I am thinking that the past year of my life, while not a total beach, has not been a total bitch, either. Would you believe it?  Right now, in the final hours of 2011, I am smiling.  All things considered, it's been a good year.

Yes, I know. The New Year ship is docked just around the beach's bend, its flag of unknown and uncontrollable life events about to unfurl.  But I insist on basking in the slow, warm, assuring waves of 2011 if only for but a few more glorious hours before the tempestuous 2012 tide rushes in...


Friday, December 23, 2011


Awash in Christmas
Leave it to Sarah Palin and Fox News to make an unwarranted, stupid fuss over President Obama's White House Christmas card (left), whining that it has no Christmas in it.

Seriously? Is Sarah Palin that desperate for media coverage that she has to resort to presidential Christmas card bashing?


Fox News has inferred that Obama is anti-Christmas because, horrors of bah-humbug horrors, the outside of the card sports not a Christmas tree but a  red poinsettia.  (A beautiful bright red poinsettia, I might add, amid several brightly wrapped boxes, presumably Christmas gifts, displayed on a table.)

Sassy Note to Palin and Fox News: While the Christmas tree has pagan origins, the poinsettia is actually considered by many to be a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem that led the three wise men to the place where Christ was born.  Ergo, you boneheads, there is nothing evil about picturing a poinsettia instead of a Christmas tree on the front of the card. Would you please just go away...

Oh, and Palin is apparently further irked because the Obamas had the audacity to feature their dog, Bo, resting by a fireplace.  (Dare I point out that the fireplace is adorned in plenty o' traditional Christmas green garland and red bows?)

Palin said she finds it "odd" and wonders why President Obama's Christmas card showcased the family dog instead of  traditions like "family, faith and freedom".

Oh, puh-leeeeeese. Really?

Even George and Laura showcased their dogs.
I would invite Palin and the Fox News gang to take a nice, long lookie-loo at the front of George W. Bush's Christmas card, circa 2005 (at right).

Yup. That's a painting of the Bushes' two dogs, Barney and Miss Beazely, and a cat, for heaven's sake, on the snow-covered lawn of the White House. A rather bland, non-Christmassy scene, really, sans any garland and presents. 

My point -- and I do have one -- is that I have looked long and hard at the Obamas' Christmas card because, ahem, I am on the Obamas' Christmas card list (no brag, just fact) and, my left-of-center political bent aside, the front of their card is simply awash in Christmas.

The warmth of a glowing hearth, the beloved First Pooch  relaxing by the fire...a poinsettia, garland, presents...my gosh, the card, in my opinion, verily shouts "Hark! Family Christmas!" And what is more American than hearth, home and family?  Okay, perhaps a slice of homemade apple pie, but I digress.

Besides, it's a well-known fact that presidents through the years have avoided mentioning Christ or Christmas, per se, on or inside their greeting cards. And that is because, like it or not Palin and Pals, not every American who celebrates Christmas is of the Christian faith, or is associated with any organized religion for that matter. For many, it is simply a special, albeit secular, time of year to gather with friends and family -- and pets -- and exchange gifts. And that's OK.

Frankly, if Palin and Fox News want to get picky -- and they do -- I think the Obamas' greeting does carry a slight religious tune, as it were.

"From our family to yours, may your holiday shine with the light of the season."

Yes, that's right. The light of the season.


Perhaps if Palin would actually open the Bible -- say, a New International Version --  and  turn to John 8:12, they would read the following: "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Or how about that same verse out of an American King James or American Standard version, or any other version of the Bible.  They all say the same thing: Jesus is the light of the world. Hence, the Obamas, it could be argued, actually are referring to Jesus in their holiday greeting.

Just sayin'.

The bottom line is, there is absolutely nothing wrong or non-Christmassy about the Obamas' card. And who cares what Palin or Fox News think about it anyway?

Meanwhile, I will be hanging my Christmas card from the Obamas ( I love Bo's cute little paw print, along with Barack's, Michelle's, Malia's and Sasha's signatures) right next to my recent letter from the Dalai Lama regarding the International Campaign for Tibet, which has worked for more than 20 years for human rights and self-determination for the people of Tibet.

But that's fodder for another blog post.

Stay tuned.


Thursday, December 15, 2011


Shoulda left well enough alone.

But noooooooo.

I had to try to install an upgraded version of Adobe Flash Player last night and in the process apparently deleted, ejected, lost what I had, and now my plug in is missing.

Gone. Just gone.

No accessing YouTube videos or any of my sidebar slideshows or soundtracks on here...ackkkkkkkkkkk.

What the hell was I thinking?

Fortunately, my son, the computer whiz, comes home from college tonight...I messaged him on Facebook last night in a panic. He was so glad to hear from his Mumsy after a long, grueling week of first semester finals.

Me:  Darling!  OMG!  I just tried to install the upgraded Adobe Flash Player, and I think I screwed it all up! The plug in is gone! Vanished! OMG! Can you fix it? Please tell me you can fix it!

Daniel:  o boy

Not that I don't have a million things I should be doing other than worrying about my Flash Player plug in...

For example, there are cookies to bake for Daniel's arrival. You may call that a bribe, but I call it just plain being a good mom.

OK, it's a bribe.  Whatev.

Of course, baking for me is almost as challenging as installing an Adobe Flash Player plug in.  Requires channeling my inner June Cleaver, and that can be tricky.  She is hidden even deeper in my non-domestic psyche since Daniel left for college in August.  These days, even frozen pizza seems like such an effort.


Which reminds me!  This might be just the day to whip out the Easy Bake Oven that my neighbor, Tina, surprised me with last  summer as a "Something To Do Now That Daniel's Gone To College" consolation gift. She found it at the local thrift shop. Since I had been bemoaning the fact that I never  had a EBO when I was a child (hence, my less than passionate penchant for all things culinary), she couldn't resist buying it for me. And I got a hot tip from a baking-savvy friend of mine that Jiffy Cake box mixes work great in an EBO.

Maybe I will bake my darling Sonny Boy a cake!

At least I know how to plug in an Easy Bake Oven.

Now, if I just had a spare lightbulb...

(P.S. Anyone besides me catch that glaring error in the Flash Player pic up above? Yeah, that's right. It should be "you're missing" not "your missing".  I may not understand how to install Flash Player, but, um,  somebody at Adobe needs an editor...just sayin'.)

Monday, December 12, 2011


So, out of desperation for a little relief from my Boeke/Willenborg Wedding Dance Rotator Cuff Injury that after two months still plagues my right arm (apparently, at my age, you CAN push too many fist pumps up over your head while busting moves for five hours straight), I recently bought a box of ThermaCare heat wraps.  You know...those disc-filled hand-warmer-like things...the ones specifically designed for relaxing tight muscles in one's neck, wrist and shoulder.

I happened to be working the stress-invoking Tuesday "Pre-Bingo Night" crowd at The Fro (our pet name for Frohlich's, our local corner market) and my arm,  my grocery scanning/schlepping arm, was sore and tired.

Hungry for something to do other than ring up  lottery tickets, broasted chicken and other assorted snacks for the Bingo regulars, I decided to read the back of the ThermaCare box. (Don't hate me because my life is just that exciting.)


Yeah, yeah...


What? Seriously? Why is 55 the magic/you are suddenly frail and pre-disposed to burns age?  Don't tell ME I can't snooze with one of these babies on. My freakin' shoulder hurts."

Grumbling as I slowly slid the dangerous ThermaCare tinderbox back up on the top shelf (wincing just a tish due to my injured arm's decreased range of motion and my slightly arthritic hand) the box of ThermaCare Menstrual CrampRelief heat wraps suddenly caught  my eye.

Lord knows I'd spent a fortune on THOSE back in my pre-menopausal days...(One upside to being 55...good riddance to all things menstrual cramp-related).

Suddenly, my curiosity was aroused..."I wonder..." I muttered aloud as I flipped over the Menstrual Cramp Relief heat wrap box and began to read...


I literally LOL'd.

Pardon me, ladies, but if you're 55 or older and still suffering from menstrual cramps, you may have bigger issues at hand than the risk of a burn from these heat wraps during sleep.

Just sayin'.