And now I have a mink bear

My mom had beautiful fur coats but was so tiny that there was no way I could ever wear them. Plus I’m in Texas now and it’s hot; I barely wear a winter coat most years. So I gave the beaver and silver fox coats to her grandaughters in Colorado who will love and be able to use them. But the mink jacket hung in the closet for years without me knowing what to do with it.

So I had it made into a mink bear.

I know, it’s kind of an indulgent thing to do with a beautiful fur, but it was getting elderly and I had no other use for it. And having done some research (yeah, I do this a lot on just about everything), the monetary value was only a few hundred dollars.

So I sent it to Fairy Godmother Creations in Dayton, Ohio. They did some lovely work for me a few years ago, transforming my mom’s wedding dress into beautiful pillows and angel Christmas tree toppers. I see the pillows every day and think of my mom and my grandmother, who made the dress.

And now I have this really nice, very soft fully jointed mink bear to also remind me of my mom. The paws and the inside of the ears are made from the lining of the jacket. This is a boy bear, though, and I’ve named him William for my father and both of my grandfathers – and their fathers, too, for that matter, but mostly for my dad. He was generous and loving and gave the jacket to my mom who wore and loved it for years.

Merry Christmas to me.

And here we are

My goal for now through the end of the year is to not gain weight. I don’t seem to be actively working on LOSING it but am pleased to be holding within a 3 lbs range for weeks at a time. Going into holidays is stressful and usually full of social events, though this year that is probably not true. In any case, I’m still 55 lbs down from January 1st. I confess to being jealous of my friend Lisa who is down 75 lbs in the same amount of time, but she’s working on it harder than I am and it’s not a competition even though sometimes I feel that it is and that I’m losing. I hate losing. Even that isn’t enough incentive to push me right now. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

My brother was here for a quick visit and did “tall people things” from my project list. Because of my knee and my back, I’m pretty unstable on my feet on a good day and I don’t want to push my luck by getting on a step stool. It’s nice to have lightbulbs changed and things removed from high places. We had a good visit and a chance to talk without corraling grandkids or any agenda. One thing he did say was that it would be “thoughtful” of me to use a cane so he wouldn’t have to worry about me falling. Since the bad knee feels like buckling at inconvenient times, I think I need to start using a cane or walking stick much as I’d rather not.

Friends here are moving and it’s unsettling. I’ve found myself looking around at my own house and budget, wondering how long I will stay here in this house that has been part of my life for 35 years. I have so much more stuff than when I lived in apartments, which I did for my working life, but most of it I could leave behind. So I’m seriously looking to prune out “stuff” again so it all feels less claustrophobic. Even the genealogy books need weeding, though I did just get a book on Researching Presbyterian Ancestors in Ireland. A little light reading?

I need some time off and permission to TAKE that time off. It’s not that I think I’m irreplaceable but I’m acting as though I am, which is ridiculous. Actually, I just need to give MYSELF permission to take the time – it’s not that anyone is stopping me but me. I’m not sure what I would do with time off since I’m not going to hop on a plane or go for a long driving vacation. Those trips always exhausted me anyway. But taking 2-3 days off plus a weekend would give me a nice break. Just being able to sleep in an extra hour would be a luxury.

2011: The Year in Review

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written here; interactive chat with friends has been more appealing than writing a blog post these days.  But I’m feeling delinquent and out of touch, especially with those of you I only see in blog-land.  Rather than try to catch up, here’s a sum up of 2011:

Year of Surgeries:

  • Surgery #1 on March 2:  elective plastic surgery to remove hanging belly skin and upper arm lifts.  I was out of work for 3 weeks and took another 4-5 before I was really feeling good.  The arms look amazing and I relished wearing sleeveless tops this summer.  However, I also had complications – abscesses along the lower suture line, and the discovery of a serious infection in my lapband port area.  The surgery wasn’t connected to the lapband at all, but the moved belly button was less than 2 inches from the port and, well, things happen.
  • Surgery # 2 on August 2:  removal of the infection, surrounding tissue, and the lapband port.  I had an open wound that is still not 100% healed up, tho it’s not a problem.  I ended up missing work time due to daily nurses for wound care.  Necessary but annoying.
  • Surgery #3 on Nov. 22:  Lapband port revision, aka putting in a new port to replace the one that was removed during the infection surgery.  Went extremely well and I’m now starting the process of getting fills to complete


This did not go well in 2011.  All the surgeries didn’t help, as my ability to exercise was limited for long chunks of time.  My personal trainer moved to a different gym 45 minutes away, which is just not convenient for me.  Rather than switch to a new trainer, I’ve decided to let it go for a year, save the money, and work on my own.  I know it’s not the best solution but for now, it’s my choice.  And $110/month adds up nicely.  I still have my gym membership, mind you – just gave up the training.


I’ve been eating off-plan since the March surgery.  Major abdominal surgery will do that to you, especially with the fear of having to throw up under those conditions, but I continued to maintain the loss until my surgery in August, which removed all lapband restrictions.  They’re still not back and I can really see the difference.   I can and will improve my eating choices but this has really shown me how much it helps to have the band in place.  I have weight to lose again, and it WILL happen.


I visited my parents and brother and sister-in-law in October.  Everyone is doing well and staying busy.  My niece/goddaughter got engaged this year and is getting married next summer.  In Houston, in July.  Can we say hot?  Her brother, Football Nephew, is now a member of the Washington Redskins, and was promoted to the active 53-man roster from the practice squad two weeks ago.  We’re so very proud and happy for him.

Tessie and I celebrated our four-year anniversary last month, and I love her more every day.  She was a wonderful therapy cat when I was home recovering, and sticks close unless I’m vacuuming.


I’m moving!  Not far, just to a different building in my same complex.  I love where I am but will be happy to move to the 55+ building (most residents are retired so I will be the young one) where rent is almost $200 cheaper and I’ll have a walk-in shower, which my knee will love.  It’s the same layout as what I have now, but flipped and a tiny bit smaller – but still over 1100 square feet, so what’s not to like?  I’ll be on the second floor in the SW corner in an elevator building.  Yayyyy!

I move on Jan. 27th so am applying a Peter Walsh approach to looking at my stuff before packing.  Stuff is going to Goodwill or the trash so I can just pack up everything that’s left.


I’ve completed a full year in my current position, and love what I’m doing, aside from the concern of how to be sure there’s work for my staff on a consistent basis.  Preferably that doesn’t involve too much of my time to dream it up, document, train, produce “work from” lists, and then do clean up.

In July, I celebrated a wonderful annual meeting educational program for my national professional association, after months of work, worries, and details as chair of the program committee.  I also turned down the chance to run as vice-chair/chair-elect of one of our special interest sections.  I’m ready for the next generation to move up and am happy NOT to be in charge of anything.

Have a happy and healthy 2012.  Do the necessary things, but also do what brings you joy.

Donor Fatigue

One of the things I dislike the most about going to the grocery store – and there are many – is the inevitable table immediately outside the entrance/exits to the building, populated by the Good Cause of the Day.  Looking for money.

I totally get that these are worthwhile organizations representing disabled veterans, volunteer fire departments, school teams, girl scouts, boy scouts, church groups, etc.  I like supporting them with a little here and there.  But I hate having them look at me with their big puppy dog eyes, trying to sell me food or simply make a donation to support their cause. It’s not that they are bad causes, it’s just that they are everywhere, all the time.

I have donor fatigue.

Public radio has upped their quarterly fund drives to what seems like a week every month, each time pleading with me to help them meet their goal.  I’ve been a supporter for years and always make a donation, but have to decide whether to give it all at once or spread it out through the year so I don’t feel guilty for not “pick[ing] up the phone and call now to speak with one of our volunteers.”

I give money to the Salvation Army and the food bank, and contribute regularly to Weather-Generated Crisis of the Month, such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.  I buy school supplies to donate even though I’ve never even had a child much less been involved with public school since I graduated.

But my money only goes so far.  I have a careful budget that always significant charitable contributions – but I don’t always contribute to the same causes every year.  I wish they would just leave me alone to make my decisions.  The more I hear from the American Cancer Society looking for my annual donation, the less I want to give them money – even though I know there is need.

The devastation in Pakistan caused by horrendous flooding, with impending disastrous medical complications, breaks my heart.  But I have no more money left in the budget to contribute.  Please understand.  I feel horribly guilty that I can’t give to everyone who needs it, but there are always causes, people, emergencies that need support.

No one “makes me feel guilty” – I do that to myself.  I make responsible choices but there are limits to what I can do.  I just want to do more, but even that would never be enough for the need, especially in these difficult economic times.

I am only one person.  Please help and give what you can where you can, within reason and with consideration.  Include $40 or so to give in donations at the grocery store tables.  They are underfunded, too.  Being annoyed with them doesn’t make it any better, for them or for you.  Or me.

Staying Busy

My back, shoulders and arms are sore this morning, a sure sign that yesterday’s pool workout was effective.  I’m very happy that my back is not in spasms; I did something to my SI joint about a month ago just getting out of my car.  Major pain from one spot up to most of the left side of the back, which then ebbs back and becomes just tender, and then is fine.  Then I do it again by walking down stairs, or standing up, or something else normal.  The doctor is referring me to physical therapy and my trainer knows what’s going on and is very careful in the movements she allows me to make so I don’t aggravate the back.

I really love my trainer and her style.  She has wonderful energy and so much enthusiasm for helping us be stronger and healthier.  One of her other clients with a session next to mine has become a good friend and the gym generally feels like a more approachable place than it did back even in May.

Yesterday was busy.  Tessie and I slept in until 7:30 after a great sleeping night (low temp and humidity with windows wide open) which felt fabulous.  Training session, followed by a banana split meal replacement shake (250 calories, 30 gms protein) while I went on errands.  Hit Staples (small Rolodex for work), TJ Maxx (coffee only, clothes were meh), bank, Walmart (school supplies to donate plus groceries for me), and the local farm (fresh fruit and veggies).

Today is for house cleaning, weeding out things to take to the Salvation Army, laundry, neighborhood walking, and doing online claiming of missing serials issues.  Yes, that’s a work thing but I can do it here while watching TV, and it needs to be done.  This is the least painful way to do it.

I haven’t been very introspective lately, and am not focused on Big Issues.  Maybe I should be, but I’m just not at the moment.  Just living one day at a time.