Thursday, December 31, 2009

[Hard] Rock Lobster (with apologies to The B-52's)

Guess where/with whom we're spending New Year's Eve? - good guess!

A history of my love for them can be found here on Star Maker Machine, the weekly-themed collaborative blog to which I contribute - I've only seen them once before live... and that was with my sister Mari about 15 years ago, when I danced so long and hard I thought I was going to have a heart attack... :-)

My daughter Sarah works at the Hard Rock Cafe and was able to get us tickets - the show doesn't even start until 10 p.m. but we'll get to the area a few hours early and have dinner at our favorite restaurant in the complex. Calamari, a Bluepoint chopped salad and a dirty martini - oh my!

We have the option of following The B-52's into the Center Bar for a New Year's Eve countdown... but that's going to be "a hot mess", according to Sarah - we'll probably just follow our regular tradition and head home to the jacuzzi to drink champagne and watch neighborhood fireworks...

Happy 2010! - may it bring us all health, peace, blessings and boundless love... <3

SONG: Rock Lobster by The B-52's (YouTube video here)

BOOK: The Totally Awesome 80s Pop Music Trivia Book by Michael-Dante Craig

POEM: At the End of the Year by John O'Donohue

The particular mind of the ocean
Filling the coastline's longing
With such brief harvest
Of elegant, vanishing waves
Is like the mind of time
Opening us shapes of days.

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.

Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.

The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.

The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.

Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.

"Then sing, young hearts that are full of cheer, with never a thought of sorrow; the old goes out, but the glad young year comes merrily in tomorrow." ~ Emily Miller

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Peace At Last (Hem)

This is a picture of me that my daughter took from the back seat of the van as we were on our way to South Carolina on the first leg of our journey - I only intended for her to capture the Santa-in-a-hammock ornament/totem that my friend Melanie gave us to take on the trip (similar to "a Buddha on the dashboard", according to her)... but I do really like the extra detail of my face in the rearview mirror... :-)

This is the third Christmas since I started my blog... and I went back to my 2008 and 2007 posts for inspiration - perspective is everything, as I read about mom's decline in health over the last few years. We knew this was going to be a hard holiday, our first without her - what we didn't know was how much, in her absence, she'd be with us in spirit...

The 12+ hour drive each way has become routine - we know about how long it will take, about where we will stop... for gas, meals, etc... and which CDs we'll be listening to on our journey (yes, holiday music prevails on the way up). I had put A Christmas Waltz by Frank Sinatra on this year's mix... and it evoked tears but also smiles each time it played - Mimi was everywhere!

Stepping stones along our path:

~ the visit with my husband's family (his sister, her husband and their two daughters) was the best it's ever been... warm, inviting and friendly - sadly, his brother and nephew couldn't make it (snowed in New Jersey and doing a tour of duty in Iraq, respectively)... but we enjoyed our time together... and look forward to a new arrival (nephew's expected little one) in June...

~ we were able to spend quality time with my husband's stepmother, taking her out to lunch at one of our favorite haunts in Batesburg, South Carolina - I had forgotten much I loved lima beans! Afterwards, we went to my husband's father's gravesite - hard to believe Bob has been gone two years...

~ arriving in Georgia to spend time with my side of the family is always a highlight, but we knew it would be bittersweet - we ended up staying at my sister's the entire time, and her hospitality is unrivaled. We had plenty of room to stretch out (she's in a new home after she and Bill divorced last spring), allowing us alone time but also bonding experiences - there was plenty of delicious food every time we turned around, meals and "nibblies" (as Mari calls them)... and I made it my goal to orchestrate kitchen clean-up, loading and unloading the dishwasher when necessary so as to save Mari that job...

~ we all went over to my brother's house for lunch one day, as we had shamefully never been there, since each year we only spend 3 days in the Atlanta area before driving home - this year, without mom in the equation, it proved do-able (another closed door/open window opportunity)...

~ my husband took the kids to a movie the day after we arrived so my sister and I could get her final shopping done - we ordered Chinese food (a tradition) and then went to her friends' party on Christmas Eve. My friends Steve and Betty came over Christmas afternoon to visit before they had to be at another friend's home - the revolving door was comfortable and never hectic...

~ I joked about this year being an Instant Gratification Christmas, as there were more than a few occasions when we gave each other our gifts ahead of time (a gorgeous purple paisley scarf from my son Eric... and Trivial Pursuit Team from my sister) - there were still plenty of surprises Christmas Day: Season 1 of Pushing Daisies from my son Rob; my favorite Origins perfume from my daughter Sarah and her boyfriend; the movie Julie & Julia, another gift from Mari; a large purple swirled mug and a box of green Chai tea from my 13-year-old niece Julia; "a sister is a forever friend" silver bracelet from my brother Brad (he gave Mari one just like it). I gave everyone calendars chosen especially for them, along with either a book, CD or DVD - we all completely pegged each others' tastes without going overboard. Yes, mimosas were served - yes, we stayed in our pajamas all day!

~ Saturday morning found us packed up and driving to Flowery Branch (mom's town), where we went by her gravesite and then visited with some of the Ya Ya's (mom's neighborhood women) - sadly... Ann, one of her best friends (who I got very close to this summer, driving back and forth to exercise class) was killed in a head-on car collision a week before Christmas, and I felt so sorry for these amazing women who had lost two dear friends in less than six months...

~ I came down with a horrendous head cold Christmas morning so my last few days were a struggle, especially on the ride home - I finally have my appetite, sense of smell and sense of humor back... so all is well... :-)

Everything we did invoked thoughts of mom, and there were a few meltdowns along the way - we also had many memory-inducing moments, and we knew we were surrounded by her love, faith and pride. She raised us well and we'll continue to carry on her legacy, as well as create one for our own children - Merry Christmas, Mom (we miss you more than words can say)...

SONG: Peace At Last by Hem

BOOK: Watch For The Light: Readings For Advent And Christmas by Philip Yancey

POEM: Going to Bed by George Bilgere

I check the locks on the front door
and the side door,
make sure the windows are closed
and the heat dialed down.
I switch off the computer,
turn off the living room lights.

I let in the cats.

Reverently, I unplug the Christmas tree,
leaving Christ and the little animals
in the dark.

The last thing I do
is step out to the back yard
for a quick look at the Milky Way.

The stars are halogen-blue.
The constellations, whose names
I have long since forgotten,
look down anonymously,
and the whole galaxy
is cartwheeling in silence through the night.

Everything seems to be ok.

QUOTE: “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” ~ Joseph Addison

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Heartache Can Wait (Brandi Carlile)

I really don't know how I've managed to go three weeks without a blog post - chalk it up to a combination of busy... and sad... and the Christmas season. I miss recording my thoughts - I have vowed to do better in 2010... :-)

Some of you will receive a printed copy of the following enclosed in our holiday cards, which have only just been mailed out from my sister's home in Cumming, Georgia - it's been a whirlwind but most amazing trip already, and I hope to write more about it in the next day or so...

In the meantime, early on this Christmas Eve morning, please accept my sincere wishes for a holiday that is warm, blessed and loving - I am grateful for everything that has come my way, the good and the bad, from which I have learned and grown... and for the support and patience of friends and family as I continue to stumble through this first year without my mother...


Constance Elaine Izzo Driskell Maresco – September 9, 1930-July 19, 2009

"The death of someone we know always reminds us that we are still alive - perhaps for some purpose which we ought to re-examine." ~ Mignon McLaughlin

How does one put a life-changing summer into words? - everyone receiving this knows that mom had been ill for the last few years... with kidney disease and pulmonary fibrosis, both progressive and irreversible illnesses. Most of you also know that my initially-intended two-week visit to Flowery Branch in mid-May segued into my becoming primary caregiver for Mom until her passing mid-July – some of you realize the import of those two months, as we circled the wagons as well as widened the circle. A select handful involved considered it an honor and a blessing to help mom on her journey and to aid in her transition – she handled everything with her usual grace, style and humor... preparing not only her financial and legal affairs, but readying us for her expected yet hard-hitting absence...

Upon the advice of friends, we set up a CaringBridge website in late-May, when we brought in home hospice – it was not only cathartic for Mari and I to track the details of mom's days, medically and emotionally, but it proved to be a multi-dimensional way for her loved ones to stay informed as well as to respond. You can visit the link below and click on Journal to view what Mari and I wrote along the way... and click on Guestbook to share others' musings (which we read aloud to mom every day) – it actually brings me peace and comfort to re-visit periodically... and it takes me right back to CSI: Miami and Happy Hour and nebulizers, oh my (weak smile... :-)

"I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no "brief candle" for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations." ~ George Bernard Shaw

Mom herself could have written the above quote... because she most certainly did live her life that way – she made every single minute count. She was generous, kind, bright, funny, vivacious, spiritual... and she left an immeasurable legacy to her children (me, Mari and Brad), her grandchildren (Sarah, Robby, Eric and Julia) and everyone in her path, whether relatives by blood or marriage, life-long friends or brief acquaintances. She embraced her final months with dignity, courage and faith - her light continues to burn and set an example for the rest of us...

This holiday is most certainly bittersweet, as we head out in just a few hours on our annual family trip to South Carolina and Georgia – there will be so many triggers of grief, but there will be equal sparks of memory. We will uphold previous traditions and make new ones - Mom's spirit will give us the strength and the serenity to navigate this first major holiday without her. WWCD (What Would Connie Do) has become our new mantra (good one, Mari!) - words to live by... literally...

The Moss Family (Sue, Chico, Sarah, Rob and Eric)

The Heartache Can Wait by Brandi Carlile

Getting in the Christmas Spirit: A Gift of Inspiration for the Holiday Season by Tian Dayton

POEM: An Old Man Performs Alchemy on His Doorstep at Christmastime by Anna George

Cream of Tartar, commonly used to lift meringue and
angel food cake, is actually made from crystallized fine wine.

After they stopped singing for him,

the carolers became transparent in the dark,

and he stepped into their emptiness to say

he lost his wife last week, please

sing again. Their voices filled with gold.

Last week, his fedora nodded hello to me

on the sidewalk, and the fragile breath

of kindness that passed between us

made something sweet of a morning

that had frightened me for no earthly reason.

Surely, you know this by another name:

the mysteries we intake, exhale, could be

sitting on our shelves, left on the bus seat

beside us. Don't wash your hands.

You fingered them at the supermarket,

gave them to the cashier; intoxicated tonight,

she'll sing in the streets. Think of the old man.

Who knew he kept the secret of levitation,

transference, and lightness filling a winter night?

— an effortless, crystalline powder

That could almost seem transfigured from loss.

“As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily.” ~ Adabella Radici

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Girl Shanty (Sons of the Never Wrong)

December 1, 2009
Everything You Do Matters
The Ripple Effect

In a world of six billion people, it’s easy to believe that the only way to initiate profound transformation is to take extreme action. Each of us, however, carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. Everything we do and think affects the people in our lives, and their reactions in turn affect others. As the effect of a seemingly insignificant word passes from person to person, its impact grows and can become a source of great joy, inspiration, anxiety, or pain. Your thoughts and actions are like stones dropped into still waters, causing ripples to spread and expand as they move outward. The impact you have on the world is greater than you could ever imagine, and the choices you make can have far-reaching consequences. You can use the ripple effect to make a positive difference and spread waves of kindness that will wash over the world.

Should the opportunity arise, the recipient of a good deed will likely feel compelled to do a good deed for someone else. Someone feeling the effects of negative energy will be more likely to pass on that negative energy. One act of charity, one thoughtful deed, or even one positive thought can pass from individual to individual, snowballing until it becomes a group movement or the ray of hope that saves someone’s life. Every transformation, just like every ripple, has a point of origin. You must believe in your ability to be that point of origin if you want to use the ripples you create to spread goodness. Consider the effect of your thoughts and actions, and try to act graciously as much as possible.

A smile directed at a stranger, a compliment given to a friend, an attitude of laughter, or a thoughtful gesture can send ripples that spread among your loved ones and associates, out into your community, and finally throughout the world. You have the power to touch the lives of everyone you come into contact with and everyone those people come into contact with. The momentum of your influence will grow as your ripples moves onward and outward. One of those ripples could become a tidal wave of positivity.

I am a long-time fan of Oprah Winfrey... not only for using her wealth and power for philanthropic good... but in her desire and ability to share global truth - today's show (which I'm pretty sure was a re-run) was hard- and heart-hitting... and I have vowed to do my part, for the holidays and year-round...

Go here to learn more...

SONG: Girl Shanty by Sons of the Never Wrong (see #9 for lyrics)

BOOK: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

POEM: Singapore by Mary Oliver

In Singapore, in the airport,
A darkness was ripped from my eyes.
In the women's restroom, one compartment stood open.
A woman knelt there, washing something
in the white bowl.

Disgust argued in my stomach
and I felt, in my pocket, for my ticket.

A poem should always have birds in it.
Kingfishers, say, with their bold eyes and gaudy wings.
Rivers are pleasant, and of course trees.
A waterfall, or if that's not possible, a fountain
rising and falling.
A person wants to stand in a happy place, in a poem.

When the woman turned I could not answer her face.
Her beauty and her embarrassment struggled together, and
neither could win.
She smiled and I smiled. What kind of nonsense is this?
Everybody needs a job.

Yes, a person wants to stand in a happy place, in a poem.
But first we must watch her as she stares down at her labor,
which is dull enough.
She is washing the tops of the airport ashtrays, as big as
hubcaps, with a blue rag.
Her small hands turn the metal, scrubbing and rinsing.
She does not work slowly, nor quickly, like a river.
Her dark hair is like the wing of a bird.

I don't doubt for a moment that she loves her life.
And I want to rise up from the crust and the slop
and fly down to the river.
This probably won't happen.
But maybe it will.
If the world were only pain and logic, who would want it?

Of course, it isn't.
Neither do I mean anything miraculous, but only
the light that can shine out of a life. I mean
the way she unfolded and refolded the blue cloth,
The way her smile was only for my sake; I mean
the way this poem is filled with trees, and birds.

QUOTE: “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” ~ Andy Warhol