It’s A Matter Of Perception


I lost a dear friend today from Parkinson’s. He has suffered for a long time from this awful disease and his body was completely worn out. His spirit lives on however through his loving kindness and his outstanding integrity. I have mixed feelings, because on one hand I am glad that his suffering is over, but I am saddened that the love of his life (his wife) will now be without him. She has cared for him by herself until Hospice came in for the end.


I now have a job that requires me to work with a few Parkinson’s patients and the irony is not missed by me. One patient is a holy terror. The first time I went to visit this client I was told all sorts of horror stories by caregivers, and I was quite nervous. This patient is very smart and frustrated beyond belief that they can no longer be understood. This client likes things in a certain routine and order and every time a new caregiver is introduced this patient must try and communicate to train them in the thousand and one things it takes to bring some order into their room.

I decided that since I couldn’t be there to care for my friend in California, I would care for this  client in the same way. Patience, kindness and a sense of humor. That is how my dear friend Mike would have done it, he is my reminder and inspiration when things get dicey. It’s how I can honor him.

I left that first meeting with the difficult client, feeling a connection to this brilliant mind, trapped in a body that will no longer cooperate. I helped the patient make a phone call to grandchildren and was dumbfounded at the “I love you’s” that poured from their voice, and was further mesmerized when they made a grunting grrrrrr sound to mimic a bear hug over the telephone. Some of the caregivers would never believe me, but it was my gift.

My friend that died today, never complained according to his wife.  Everyone that knew him marveled at that. If anyone is entitled to be cranky it would be him; but then again look at Michael J. Fox? He is the poster child for how you want to respond to a life threatening illness. His perceptions are powerful, positive and courageous. I’m afraid I would be kicking and screaming and most likely complaining.

I have been given a treasure. I am invited in to the lives of seniors struggling to keep their dignity in the face of too many physical challenges. One of my favorite clients is a firecracker from Argentina. She taught in the school districts in southern California for thirty years and was an advocate for special needs children that were struggling with disabilities and the added challenge of a language barrier. She is a spiritual powerhouse and we’ve been having wonderful conversations about life. She told me that money is a matter of perception. I thought that was so simple, yet profound.

Covering the considerable costs of health care for the aged is no small matter. All of my clients are able to afford high end care, but they have all worked very hard and know the value of a dollar. Perception is the key to so many things in life. How we choose to look at challenges, financial burdens, loss, will ultimately decide the very quality of our lives, no matter the situation. It’s not easy and I don’t  mean to imply that it is. Think what could happen though if we change our perception? It’s a choice.

My New Anniversary of JOY


I decided I need to focus on a clean slate every day. Expecting a whole new year hasn’t worked out that great thus far. I’ve had way too many life lessons lately. Spiritual growth sucks sometimes, but the benefits outweigh the trauma… or so I’m told. I’m taking their word for it. I was catching up on my blog reading at Enchanted Seashells, minding my own business, when I read the one about the courtship between the Captain and Rosebud. I felt the tears welling up.

Today is my wedding anniversary to my Former Husband (FH), which technically is the anniversary of the end of our marriage when you think about it. I don’t want to feel sad. I forget more and more every day that I was married. It’s like women have to count everything! Or is it, keep track? Pounds, birthdays, weddings, death. I hear widowers say, all the time, how long a loved one has been gone, or what birthday it would have been. Do men keep track like that?

Expectations take a lot of energy. The more I expect of myself the more I expect of others. Hmmm? That brings me to ambition. I am finding the realities of my energy control my ambitions. I don’t have the time to read every blog or respond the way I would like to. When I was unemployed that was easier, and enjoyable. Now I play catch up.

Clanmother blog

I didn’t have the time to respond to a blogging award recently that Clanmother nominated me for. I don’t feel ambitious enough to expand my reader base. I need to be in the moment and let myself off the hook, so I can let others off the hook? Funny how that works. Expectations will always beckon.

I am going to encourage a theme for myself this year. JOY. That will be my pursuit. Giving it and receiving it. Receiving, opening myself up is the challenge. If I break it down to a daily goal instead of a yearly one, it’s doable. Little expectations, little footprints instead of big ones.

I don’t have a problem being alone but I like having a purpose. My new job has given me that, and I love it more every day. It’s not a long term solution to health insurance, but it is more than enough for the journey, today. I’ve decided to re-frame January 2 into my anniversary of JOY. It’s time to let FH and me off the hook.

I read an amazing book by Juliette Fay, called The Shortest Way Home. Her stories remind me of Karen White’s writing, which I really enjoy. The main character of this book is a man named Sean who has grown weary of nursing in third world countries and is called home to Belham, Mass. to deal with his family in crisis.

He discovers that he has been avoiding his own issues by taking care of others. Care taking at it’s best (there is a reason that it’s the basis for co-dependency) and it’s developed beautifully in this story. I loved all the complexities woven through out this novel while teaching about Huntington’s disease, sensory disorder in his young nephew, and the specter of a genetically inherited disease hanging over your head. I seldom read books written by women about male heroes but Fay does an excellent job. I had to go check out her first book, Shelter Me, which also takes place in the same town. I read some time ago Deep Down True, liked it as well, but it didn’t have the impact this book did.

I’m in process of packing up after a three week stint house/dog sitting and begin the tedious process of schlepping stuff back home. I will miss Zippy’s sweet, black-button eyes and his devoted patter every where I go. I won’t miss his obsession with paper products, however. Another way to spell his name? 

The Apartment


This has been my date every New Years for at least ten years. Jack Lemmon is perfect as C.C. Baxter, the ambitious office cog who lends his apartment to upper management for extramarital hanky-panky, in order to score points for a promotion. He gets more than he bargained for when his generosity gets him a black eye in more ways than one when he falls for Fran (Shirley MacLaine).

This movie was an Academy Award winner for Best Picture and Best Director in 1960. Billy Wilder directed this on the heels of Some Like It Hot and it has become another classic.

The opening scene of the insurance company where Baxter works, gives you a visual of how employment has changed in the past fifty years, not to mention the sexual mores of that era. This film was criticized for it’s raucous infidelity and Fred McMurray caught some flack, for his role as the married cad who seduces office girls and then discards them. McMurray is one of the few actors that can pull off playing a boy scout or a  creepy heel and be convincing.

C. C. and Fran, despite serious complications, fall in love while playing gin rummy and the scene where Baxter makes spaghetti is classic. Lemmon and MacLaine have great chemistry and the supporting cast is excellent. This one of the best dates I’ve ever had on New Years Eve and I continue to indulge myself every year. Have a most happy and generous New Year!!

Charlie Chan


I have always been fascinated by Charlie Chan movies, and liked them even as a kid when they would come on at midnight. Over four dozen films were made, starting in 1926. The movies were first made with  Asian actors playing  Mr. Chan, but met with little success. They switched to Swedish actor Warner Oland in 1931 and it was a hit.  Olan went on to star in 15 more films about the famous Hawaiian sleuth, which was based on real Honolulu detective Chang Apana.

Chan is an Asian Sherlock Holmes and his movies frequently showcased family members, particularly Number One Son, Lee Chan played by Keye Luke. I loved the gentle humor and gentleness of Charlie but he could be hard on his Number One Son. Mr. Chan was very popular in China and a very well respected character. It was one of the few positive role models for the Asian community that didn’t pander to “evil” stereotypes of that time. I like Charlie Chan movies because of the more exotic locales.  I received a gift set of this series and have my pick of Charlie Chans.

Tomorrow I will finish up with “The Apartment”, my New Year’s Eve favorite. Blogging every day is a challenge that I don’t want to do all the time. It’s a big commitment that I can’t easily fit into my professional life. This way I stay more fresh and hopefully interesting. Until tomorrow…

Harry Met Sally


I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched this 1989 film,and it gets better every time. The acting and dialogue is superb (Nora Ephron knows comedy) and what’s not to love about the story? Director Rob Reiner based Harry and Jesse (Bruno Kirby) on his and Billy Crystal’s friendship and Crystal made Harry funnier in the final script. So many personal favorite scenes, from Harry (Billy Crystal) spitting grape seeds at Sally uptight’s (Meg Ryan) car windows, stuffing her mail all at once into the box, and telling Sally she is the worst kind of date, a woman who is high maintenance but thinks she is low maintenance. Harry morphs from the most obnoxious acquaintance on the planet into a great guy, once she hits him over the head a few times.

Meg has great chemistry with Carrie Fisher (Marie)and the supporting cast in this movie is fabulous.The orgasm scene is classic, not so much because Sally is awesome at faking it, but because she nails his big fat ego to the restaurant wall.  Friendship makes for great relationships between the sexes, me thinks. Too bad we suck at it, in this country.

I am tired, but happy tonight to be enjoying the evening off. Zippy ate a tiny bit of my salt dough (salt, flour and water) and threw up on the carpet soon after. That’ll teach him. NOT! He would have eaten the whole bowl if I hadn’t stopped him in time. This dog will eat anything, and I mean anything!  He tore one of my ornament boxes to shreds as if it was a juicy piece of meat. His mommy supplements his food with canned pumpkin and he snarfs it down but it must not be satisfying enough if cardboard is so alluring. He has the most innocent face you’ve ever seen. He has perfected “Who me?” That wasn’t me… as a piece of cardboard quivers from his canines. I love this dog, I just hope the pumpkin stain comes out of the carpet.



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The Thin Man


This is one of my favorite series, next to Charlie Chan. This was made in less than two weeks in 1934 and followed the book by Dashiell Hammett by only five months. Many mistakenly (me included) think Nick Charles, played by the dashing William Powell, was the “thin man” in the title but in fact it was his friend Clyde, that disappears and provides the mystery to be solved. The moniker stuck and became part of the title of future movies.

Powell and Myrna Loy, who plays his wife Nora, have chemistry flowing like the champagne they chug, and when that wanes there is their dog Asta, a star in his own right. They underplay their roles to perfection and you believe they are as carefree and fearless as they appear. I love how the interplay of decadent wealth mixes with the seedy underworld and Nick’s dubious friends.

Alcoholism was frequently cast in a humorous light in this era and Nick certainly takes advantage of that in these films. I know it was never quite this glamorous, but these films were made to make people laugh, and forget the drudgery and reality of the Great Depression, which it accomplishes in spades.

The day is blue and sunny, all the roofs covered with a blanket of snow. I have a busy weekend of work ahead and look forward to some time off on New Year’s Eve. I have mixed feelings about my holiday film marathon ending, like I always do, but I’m also ready to move on to the new. I can watch these any time I want, but I like to savor the anticipation for next year. They are worth waiting for.

While You Were Sleeping


This is such a funny, sweet movie. Misunderstandings abound, then snowball into a great love story. Lucy is lonely and ripe for the plucking, then along comes the dream boat she worships from afar. He gets conked on the head and is out for the count and the hospital where he is taken, mistakes Lucy for his fiancee. When his kooky and lovable family show up she is hooked, and so are they. Brother Jack shows up and the fun really begins. This is a great movie from beginning to end.  Joe Jr. is NOT to be missed, he steals every scene he is in.

Joe Jr. on the left, Joe Sr. on the right.

I often wonder what would have happened if every guy I had a crush on had worked out. I shudder at the thought. As a young girl I built up such rose colored scenarios. They never can stand the litmus test of reality. That’s what romance novels are for right? I’m feeling better about life today. I slept and read yesterday, it works every time. My work schedule filled up beautifully and I start a class  soon.

It snowed just enough today to be pretty, me and Zippy watched from the window. I’m trying to get him to sleep through the night but his bladder isn’t listening. Two a.m. seems to be the magic hour. He goes right back to sleep (I hear him snoring) and I lie awake. Who needs kids…just get a dog.

Bridget Jones Diary


The blues have set in a little early this year as I dropped my daughter off at the airport shuttle. The sun is shining but it only reached 20 degrees today and more cold and snow on the way. I enjoyed it more when my kids were here together. I’m sure they are happily on to the next thing in their young lives and glad they are no longer under a parents thumb. Like that ever happened.

The minute you bring home a baby, the letting go starts with each hurdle and “first” they try. It’s practice for the endless swinging door that becomes your heart. They don’t really explain that well in the birthing classes. You stand at their door, gently pushing while whispering “bring it on life”. It becomes a shout by the time they are teens. Then poof, it’s all done and they are swimming up stream. Thankfully, they still come home to feed and show off their spawn.

It’s not like parents don’t have a life, it’s just a feeling of whimsy. Fleeting and dear. A little respite of remembering, what it used to be like. It’s the magic and mystery of being a kid again. We all want to go back there at times, and as I watch my children mature it gets more and more elusive. No wonder we start whining about grandchildren! We want that fountain of youth.

I like Bridget Jones Diary because it always cheers me up and makes me laugh (and I get palpitations and hot flashes when gazing upon yummy Colin Firth) that someone else thinks the way I do…some times. Life goes on, and on. Might as well make the best of it and have fun.  But just in case…I went and got a bag of books at the library. Just in case. An instant party with my friends.

Muppet Christmas Carol


I sit here with my grown children watching this yearly tradition, while waiting for a white Christmas. This has been a favorite of our whole family since it’s debut in 1992. We know most of the dialogue and songs by heart. This has so many  great one liners and has the added bonus of being narrated by Gonzo the Great and Rizzo the Rat. Who could resist this after throwing in Kermit and Miss Piggy?!

This is a perfect vehicle for introducing kids to the wonder of Charles Dickens and this most wondrous tale. Sadly, Brian Henson (the creator of the Muppets) died two years before this movie was made by Walt Disney Pictures. His son Brian directed this comedic version which follows the original story closely.

Michael Caine is wonderful in the role because he plays it straight to the puppets, I mean muppets. There are so many great lines in this film. Some favorites of mine are Beaker getting all huffy when Ebeneezer refuses to give a donation. O.K. he doesn’t really talk, but he does huffy well. Then the rats egging on Bob Cratchitt, Christmas eve. Miss Piggy is priceless, she can’t remember which daughter is who, and when she accuses Mr. Scrooge of being badly dressed, the whole family gasps in horror.

My son and daughter loved the narration by Gonzo and Rizzo. Their back and forth humor keeps the dark subjects, lighthearted for kids. They love the line where Rizzo says to Gonzo “Hoity-toity Mr. God like smarty pants. The songs are sweet and short and hold the attention of young and old alike. This has stood the test of time for twenty years. Not bad for a Muppet movie.

I’ll be finishing up my holiday movie tradition in the week to come, with a few more favorites. I’ll admit. I probably will watch A Christmas Carol  a few more times before putting it away for another year.Thanks for being with me on this journey, the new year follows quickly. Don’t forget to spread joy, or at the very least…kindness. Happy Holiday!

A Christmas Carol (1984)


This is my favorite adaptation of this classic. I think Mr. Scott was the most authentic Mr. Scrooge. I love how the hearse slowly passes Ebeneezer in the opening scene. It creates the perfect eerie, creepiness. From Jacob Marley to Tiny Tim, the details are spot on and the acting superb. It is hard to believe this was made for television.

It was filmed on location in Shrewsbury, England and aired December 17, 1984 and was released theatrically in Great Britain. Many maintain this to be the best adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas story and I would agree.

George C. Scott captures the sarcastic, acerbic Ebeneezer better than any other actor and has the sneer down cold.  He doesn’t have fake hair pieces or makeup to distract you. By the end of the  ghost visitations, I’m surprised they didn’t murder him themselves, or at least hit him with a brick or two. He was stubborn till the bitter end, but that is one of the things I like most about this version.  George is simply superb. He captures beautifully, a giddy man saved from the chains of hell as he bounces on his bed like a schoolboy.

I went downtown with my kids tonight. We walked around in Old Town, Fort Collins, and the lights were spectacular. We walked past where my kids sat on Santa’s lap many years ago, and the fountain they used to wade in. I drove them to a house that is literally covered with lights. It was a magical way to end the evening. My favorite Christmas Carol tomorrow…