My Top 5 Summerfest Memories

11:03 pm 6/29/17

Today I thought I’d take a break from all the somber posts and write about a the annual music festival, Summerfest. Summerfest started yesterday at the lakefront in Milwaukee.  This is a major deal around here. Almost as big a deal as the Packers, but not quite.


Every year, Dennis and I see a band that’s playing that we would like to see. We talk about getting tickets. We plan what favorite food vendors we’ll visit and what we’ll eat first. Then we remember the traffic, the lack of parking, the crowds and the super-grody bathrooms (that’s more my thing than his). Ultimately, the bad out weighs the good, and we decide to stay home.

I guess that means we’re getting old. Or are we already old? Maybe I don’t want to know.

That being said, I do have many fond memories of Summerfest. Attendance was basically a rite of passage for growing up in the Milwaukee area in the 1980’s — and I believe it still is today.

Here are 5 of my favorite Summerfest memories:

  1. Seeing Helen Reddy with my parents, my grandparents and my BABYSITTER (no idea why they brought her along) at the old main stage.  I remember it was super hot and sunny and we were sitting on bleachers with no shade. My parents must have hated it. I was probably 7 or 8 so it must have been around 1974 or so.  It seemed like we waited for hours for Helen to come out and when she did she was wearing all black, with sequins. I remember being very impressed by her outfit. I don’t think we stayed long. How my mother ever got my father and my grandfather to see Helen Reddy, I’ll never know.
  2. My girlfriend and I were part of several bowling leagues at Red Carpet Lanes one summer when I was 21, and we got lots of free Summerfest tickets from Red Carpet. After we had gone down to Summerfest several times to see all the bands we wanted to see (it runs for around 10 days each year) we still had leftover tickets. One night after we were done bowling with the league, we drove down to Summerfest at 10 pm (it closed at midnight) in her black Cougar with red leather seats. It was a warm night and we drove with the windows down while blasting music from cassette mix tapes the whole way. We shopped the craft vendors and got Saz’s mozzarella marinara (Mozzarella sticks wrapped in wonton wrappers and deep fried. So good!) and went home. We never gave a thought to getting up for work in the morning, or how far we’d have to walk or if we’d get stuck in traffic on the way home. We just went on a whim and it was awesome.
  3. Being allowed to skip out on a family Fourth of July get-together with my 2nd cousin and her family to go to Summerfest with my boyfriend. I don’t remember much about Summerfest itself that time, but being grown up enough to get to do my own thing — and on a holiday to boot, was pretty cool. I was 17.
  4. Sitting on the great big boulders that used to line the lakefront before they built the breakwaters and watching the Big Bang fireworks with my boyfriend.  I was 18. (Same guy — different year.) It was always cooler by the shore thanks to the breeze off the lake, and the water lapped against the rocks in a slow rhythm. We listed to the strains of music from the bands nearby until he fireworks started.  It was the epitome of romance to me at the time. (As opposed to now, when I think it’s romantic when Dennis is the one who gets up to pull the dog off a cat for the 4th or 5th time that night while I’m trying to watch Big Brother.)
  5. The most memorable Summerfest experience I had, and one that is still mentioned now and then as part of Summerfest-lore, was the great flood of 1987 when I was 20. I was there with my boyfriend (again, same guy, different year) and his 15 year-old sister and her friend. My boyfriend and I were at the mainstage watching INXS and the sister and friend were on their own in the park. A huge storm came through, and I mean h-u-g-e, and it flooded the entire park. They stopped the concert and closed the park and told everyone to leave. Everything was under at least a foot of water, if not more. Some people left the park right away. Many did not and chose to slosh around the grounds. We spent the better part of an hour searching for the sister and friend and we finally found them in the playground area, kicking water at eachother and having a grand old time. Boyfriend was not amused and it took us close to 2 hours to make our way home because the streets were either flooded or gridlocked in traffic.  Good times.

Seriously. They were really good times that were never much about the music for me. It was always about the people I was with, the joy of being young and spontaneous, and the adrenaline of the shared energy with the crowds who were also young, joyful and spontaneous.

Maybe we should go see a band this year…

12:03 am 6/30/17


Is there a twist?

9:42 am 6/28/17

This morning, I did something for the first time in the past four days. I took my mother’s living will with her DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) out of my purse where I’ve been carrying it, and filed it away in the file cabinet.


We had an early morning meeting with the doctor today. Mom’s numbers improved significantly over night. They improved enough that he said, unequivocally, that she would recover from this event.

The writer in me is expecting the twist.

It’s amazing to me that only four days have passed since Mom was admitted into the hospital. As writers, we learn to slow down time during critical moments in the plot to bring the reader deeper into the action or suspense. We focus on minute details that are somehow significant to bring the scene to life.

Details like how my mother has never once taken off her wig throughout this entire ordeal. (She’d be mad I wrote this — so no one tell her, please!)

Details like the smell of the room, a cross between Purell hand sanitizer and generic institution-smell, like the smell of my grade school. Emotionally, I feel like I’m grade school age every time I walk into her room, too. It’s an unsettling feeling all around.

Details like seeing my mom slumped in that hospital bed, feeling awful. I always try to take the chair next to her bed, instead of across from her because it’s too difficult to see her like that. I can still see her from the side chair, but not the full-on view, and somehow it’s easier. Cowardly, I know, but there you have it.

Us writers must have learned that slowing down technique from life itself, because I swear it seems like at least two weeks have passed since Sunday. I keep forgetting what day it is and time is measured by making sure the animals are fed on time and what time we’ll see the doctor next.

I am amazed at the nurses. They way they juggle life and death responsibilities with an upbeat attitude. Even when their patients are cranky and sharp-tongued. Even when family members grill them for details. Even when as they care for one patient, they’re answering a call for another. It makes my paltry multi-tasking skills of answering an email while on a conference call look pathetic by comparison.

I never once saw anything but cool, calm, kindness and professionalism from the nurses, both male and female. I would never in a million years be able to do that job, which makes me kind of ashamed of myself. Their work truly matters. Mine, not so much.

This has been quite an experience, and it’s not over yet. We have rehab in a few days, which will last several weeks. During that time we’ll be looking at assisted living centers for Mom. She’s agreed she should no longer live alone, and since she’s determined that I keep Charlie, she doesn’t really need a whole house with a yard anyway.

I hope she keeps to that decision as she recovers. Knowing the full scope of my lack of nursing skills, I’ll sleep so much better at night knowing she has skilled professionals to watch over her should she need them.

Tonight we’ll stop back at the hospital for a bit, and then Dennis and I will be shopping for a new bed. The one we have now is too high for our newest member of the family to jump on an off of at night.

Here’s Charlie, our new addition, sleeping in his bed. This is his daytime bed. His nighttime bed is whichever one we’re in.


That’s a good problem to have.

10:37 am 6/28/17

WWMTD? – What Would Mother Teresa Do?

11:03 pm 6/27/17

At least I’m not posting this at 2am. That’s a win for the day in and of itself.

Did you ever notice that there seems to “dark” periods in life where shit seems to be happening to many of the people you know? I’ve heard the theory about bad things happening in three’s, but that’s not what I mean.

In my 5-ish decades of living, I’ve definitely noticed periods where bad stuff happens to many people around me. There have also been “golden”periods — months or years of a Camelot sort of existence where everything is good for friends, family and acquaintances. The mid to late 90’s was that Camelot time for me, and I even got divorced during that period.

It’s almost as if the universe syncs itself to whichever energy is being given the most focus by the world. I know this sounds hokey, and New Age-ish, and maybe it is. I still wonder if there isn’t something to it.

I read somewhere that Mother Teresa was asked to participate in anti-war demonstrations against the Vietnam war, and she declined, saying (I’m paraphrasing the idea of her words here) that she was not going to make the war more powerful by focusing her energy on it. Instead, she suggested they hold a celebration of peace and that she would attend to allow her energy to strengthen that ideal.

It’s kinda like that. The world on a whole is in so much chaos and it has been for a long, long time, even before our latest Presidential election. There’s rampant misogyny throughout the world, so many innocents are killed in war zones, both foreign and domestic; living in certain parts of Milwaukee is basically like living in a war zone. We see all of this and more on the news and hear about it on the radio. We read about it on the internet, and in newspapers, if you happen to be a dinosaur like myself and still enjoy a crisp, unread front page in your hand. There’s no getting away from it. It’s terrible and we hate it and all our energy is focused on bad. On tragedy. On evil.

Maybe all the negative energy spills over in our every days lives, too. We have anxiety attacks. We can’t sleep. We can’t relax. We get sick.

In my own personal world, both my mother and my husband’s father are having health problems. Both are quite elderly, so neither is a surprise. That doesn’t mean it’s not sad. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. In addition to that, my husband is still struggling with the knee injury he got a couple of weeks ago. I also know of a fellow blogger, a writing teacher I had over 15 years ago who really inspired me, that just got a cancer diagnosis today. My heart aches for her. My girlfriend just lost a close family member last week. Even my pet sitter’s father is ill. I’m sure there are many more heartaches, I’m leaving out. It just feels like, collectively, we’re all in a rough patch right now.

At the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, I’d like to challenge everyone to find positive  events throughout the day to focus on. It can be hard. It is hard. But I’d like to see the collective energy that we’re all connected through focus on good for a change. Even if it’s just for a moment or two. Let’s see if we can swing the tide of the Universe the other way.

Today, after being at the hospital all day, my husband and I had dinner and stopped at a carpet store. Since my mom’s house is vacant for now, we thought it would be a good time to move ourselves and the menagerie into it for a few days and replace our badly scarred kitchen vinyl.

When I say badly scarred, I’m talking Ammityville Horror level scarred. In addition to multiple cracks, gouges and seams lifting, there’s a two foot spot in front of the patio door that turns shades of red for no reason I’ve ever figured out. It can go from a lighter red speckle to deep, blood red that covers the entire pattern of the floor in that 2 foot area. I’m not going to lie, it creeps me out a bit. Especially since it’s moves into different spots within the affected area. It’s like it’s alive. It’s gotta go.

So tonight I’m in the flooring store browsing at kitchen vinyl and carpet, because we might as well do that, too, since we’re moving out for a few days. Suddenly, I got dizzy, super warm, and I started to feel nauseous. The tall stacks of carpet samples, most of which came up to my shoulders, felt like they were closing in. Kind of like being in a funhouse where the walls move in around you. I was afraid I was going to pass out, so I tossed the carpet sample to Dennis and high-tailed it out of the store. I got the A/C running in the car and took great gulps of it into my lungs.

I’m pretty sure I had my first panic attack today. I would like it to be my last, so I’m committed to focusing on good things, too. I can’t completely control not giving energy to bad things, especially with Mom in the hospital, but I will make it a point to focus on good, too.

When I got home tonight after the panic attack, I went outside with the dogs and sat on my swing in the front yard. Sammy jumped on my lap and licked my face, wiggling the whole time because he hadn’t seen me all day. Charlie laid his head on my leg and leg me pet him. It was exactly what I needed.

These past few days, I’ve been going out there after returning from the hospital to sit, and take stock. Imagine various flavors of my future and my mother’s future, or whether or not she even has much of a future.

Today I didn’t. Sure, decisions will have to be made and discussed at some point. But tonight I took a half hour to remember to live in moment. Enjoy the dogs I love. Laugh at the three cat heads peering out the screen door longing to come outside with us. Enjoying the coolness of the onset of evening, while still feeling the warming of the setting sun on my face. It was lovely and serene and my anxiety and panic slipped away. I didn’t even have a fuzzy navel wine cooler tonight.

Please, let’s all focus at least a small part of our days to good, put that good energy out in the Universe, too, so we all have a fighting chance.

11:44 pm 6/27/17

7:09 am 6/28/17 — I realized this morning that I fell asleep before I added a title.

Fuzzy Navels and Hope

1:28 am 6/27/17 (this is my post for 6/26/17.) Later, I’ll do a second one for today.

Boy, I totally blew my deadline tonight, didn’t I? That’s what happens when you spend the day running back and forth to the hospital, then come home and consume 2 wine coolers (fuzzy peach, of course) and half a Totinos pizza.

I believe exhaustion set in. I remember my husband saying he was turning in around 11 as I was snoozing on the recliner. I also remember something about an animal chewing on my hand. I’m pretty sure the husband part was real. Considering we now have 5 animals, the chewing on my hand part could be real, too, but I don’t see any marks. I know at one point there was a dog on my lap, and then a cat, so who knows?

This is just how we roll in the Mellem house these days.

The thing of it is, we actually had a bit of hope today. Yesterday (Sunday’s) the news was all dire, and I expected to be signing papers today to put my mom in a hospice, the same way as I did for my dad eight years ago. Today (Monday), the kidney specialist said there was a bit of improvement in her numbers and he believes that if he continues the treatment, Mom will regain much of her strength without needing dialysis and her symptoms can be managed going forward by meds.

This is pretty much the opposite of what we were told on Monday. I guess that’s why you should always ask for a second opinion.

However, this new path leaves the future less clear than the prior diagnosis. How much of her strength will Mom regain? Not sure. Will she return to the level she was at three weeks ago, before this happened? Not sure. Will her quality of life be good enough, whatever “good enough” means? Not sure.

So while we received good news, we also received uncertainty in some major areas. Mom isn’t suicidal, but she is ready to die, especially if her quality of life is compromised. And I think in her mind, her quality of life was already getting precariously close to that point before this happened.

If there will be a quality of life after this, changes will need to be made, which Mom is on board with, at least for now. Most likely there will be a rehab stay. Most likely she will move into an assisted living center where she can have her own apartment, but also have trained medical professionals to care for her.  Most likely, Charlie will be a permanent member of our family.

The last one surprised me the most. I never dreamed my mom would choose to give up her dog. I assured her there are assisted living facilities that take small dogs, but she said he’d be happier with us.

It’s the most sobering sign I’ve seen from her yet, that she has declined that far. If she can’t or doesn’t want to take care of her dog, I’m not sure how much more her quality of living can decline and still be considered any type of quality at all.

So, perhaps today’s news was good. But, perhaps it wasn’t. Only time will tell. We’ll meet with the doctor tomorrow to see if the healing trend continues. And I’ll be stopping at the store to stock up on fuzzy navel wine coolers. This ride isn’t over yet.

On a happier note, Charlie is fitting in wonderfully with our family and we’re thrilled to have him. Sammy loves having another dog to hang with. Charlie is 12, so he’s well beyond the puppy craziness we have daily with Sammy. He’s young enough where he likes to play with Sammy a bit, but old enough to prefer sitting on the swing with me to chasing the neighbor’s car.


Here’s the Charlie greeting me this morning. He’s a morning person. Me, not so much.



Sammy and Charlie hanging out together this morning. My two furry canine babies. The three furry feline babies are behind me, claws in the screen door, waiting for one of them to figure out a way to get free.

So how does one get back to sleep after sleeping in the recliner for four hours?

2:23 am 6/27/17 (for the 6/26/17 post)

Christmas and Double Rainbows

10:39 pm 6/25/17

Six months from today is Christmas Day. I have a feeling that our Christmas will be different this year than in years past. I’m also pretty sure I’m going to remember back to this day, the 6-month marker to Christmas, on all the future Christmas Days to come.

Dennis and I took Mom into the ER this morning. It was a hard decision to make, because she really didn’t want to go. I felt that she needed more care than I could give, so we went. Turned out it was the right call.

It was about 12 hours from the time the ambulance picked her up until the time we finally arrived back home again with Charlie, Mom’s dog, in tow.

This is Charlie. He’s been pretty chill with the whole thing. He likes Sammy and they play outside together.  He’s never seen cats before, though, so he not quite sure what to think about them.


On the way home from our incredibly crappy, emotional day, there was a gorgeous double rainbow. My pictures don’t do it justice.


You can just see the hint of the second rainbow in this shot. It’s about an inch to the right of the main one. The second rainbow was actually a lot brighter than it appears here.


This was a  massive rainbow. I could see from one side of it to the other. It was pretty amazing.  Maybe it was a sign for me to be at peace. Or maybe it was just a pretty rainbow.

Whichever it was, I liked it. It made me happy and that was no easy feat today.

11:02 pm 6/25/17




12:57 pm. 6/24/17

It was the perfect night last night. The sky was clear and temperature was cool enough where sitting on the deck, snuggling under a quilt (homemade, of course) was perfect.

After a long day of doctor’s calls and caregiving visits, a night out on the deck was the perfect salve for a sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes painful day.

I tried to take a picture of the night sky from my deck. Unfortunately, the old ipad can only do so much, and capturing a night shot with any kind of clarity just isn’t in it’s wheelhouse.

I did find a picture on that is pretty close to what we saw.


The moon wasn’t full last night, so there were many stars out. And there were fireflies. Tons and tons of fireflies. Some had flashes of light that lasted so long they left spots in front of my eyes as if I had my picture taken. Others were fleeting and swift, skipping through the darkness like stones over a calm lake. There were so many, it was hard to distinguish the flash of a firefly from the flash of a plane’s lights.

Most of all, it was calm and peaceful and serene. It was my version of going to church. Usually, I feel the deep sense of peace while at the ocean or in the mountains. Last night I felt it in my backyard. What an awesome blessing to receive during a time when I needed it most.

Did I find answers? No. Did I find acceptance? Maybe.  What I mostly came away with was the idea of how truly beautiful the silhouettes of the trees were against the deep midnight blue sky. I’ve seen that image at least a thousand times in a thousand different scenes. But for some reason, those silhouettes of the trees really resonated with me last night.

I reveled in their lack of detail; of the simplicity of the shapes void of all color and texture and form. The individual leaves married into one tree shape form, no one leaf standing out more than the other. The night was drawn in broad brush strokes that wouldn’t be possible during the light of day.

As a writer, we’re taught that details are our friends. More than friends. They’re the life-blood of a story. They build the world and the make the characters real enough that the reader considers them friends, not just made-up characters on a page. A story cannot exist without details.

It’s the same in real life. We start out with an idea. A silhouette of a concept. I want to be a writer. Then we fill in the details. What do I want to write? Fiction or news reporting? Will I go to school or wing it on my own? Will I be able to make a living and if not, what else will I do to survive? Details.

Some concepts we don’t get to choose. They choose us. Being born into a family. What it means to be a daughter. What it means to be an only child. We don’t get to choose the details that we are immersed in from, quite literally, our first breath. The family dynamics. The manner in which we were raised. The road we’ll walk with our parents.

It’s the natural order of life that children outlive their parents. Therefore, children will watch their parents die. A silhouette of any family tree will show you that. The names of grandparents, parents and children organized in such a a way where one sees the natural order of life at a glance. It’s not so scary in that watered-down, silhouette form. We accept it as the way life is and move on with our day to day lives. However, when it actually happens, the light-of-day details to that particular tree are a much harder to watch and even harder to accept.

This past week, I’ve had a lot of light-of-day details thrust upon me.  As an only child, I knew I’d be responsible for caring for my parents one day. My mother told me this from the time I was about five years old on. I’ve made choices in my life based around this fact, not because she expected me to do it, but because I’ve always felt it was the right thing to do.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Holy cow, is it NOT easy! The details of this particular journey are excruciating for me and my mom. My dad died very quickly. There were no decisions to be made. No multiple doctors to consult with. This time is different. There’s so much unknown, and answers are coming at a snail’s pace. Or at least it feels that way. With all that being said, I know there are many who have it much worse.

I am handling it, day by day, hour by hour. But these details are ones I hoped never to see, naive as that idea may have been. I think there will be hard choices coming in the next week. But they should resolve things somewhat, one way or the other, which will be a relief to both my mom and I.

Last night, watching the silhouettes of the trees against the backdrop of the starry sky, I longed to see my own world as a silhouette. A shadow box picture of a mother and child, void of any conflict or pain. Beautiful in it’s simplicity and in it’s absence of detail.

2:07 pm 6/24/17   I blew my time by 10 minutes today!




Sun Halos and Heaven

2:36 pm 6/23/17

This morning as I sat on the swing outside the house with Sammy, I noticed a rainbow that ran completely around the sun. This is my attempt to capture the image with my cell phone. I promise you, it doesn’t do justice to what I saw.



I’ve never seen something like this before. Maybe they’re common and since I wasn’t outside very much until we got Sammy, I just never saw one before. I googled “rainbow around the sun” and found it it’s called a “Sun Halo”. If it had two bright lights on either side of the halo those would be “Sun Dogs”…it didn’t, though, so this was just a Sun Halo. It’s still very pretty and unusual looking, and I like the name.

Sun Halo. Since I fancy myself a writer of sorts, it seems like I should do something with the imagery of that name. Write a story or a even a poem. But I gotta be honest. I’ve got nothing. It’s poetic name, for sure, but it’s not inspiring me to spew forth verse.

If I was the religious sort, I might attribute it to some kind of sign. Especially in light of the health challenges with my mother of late. If I were the religious sort, I’m sure I would interpret it as a postive sign. A sign that everything will turn out all right.  But I’m not the religious sort.  I’m the practical sort. And while it’s nice to imagine it was as sign meant for me, I don’t believe that’s that case. It wasn’t a sign. It was just a cool weather phenomena with a pretty name.

I do envy people that have the faith to believe everything is in God’s hands, and that they’ll be reunited with loved ones when they die. I think it would make facing a situation like I’m in now with my mom easier. Although, I never have understood how being reunited with loved ones in heaven after we die actually works. Do I end up with my family or my husband’s family? Do I reunite only with the relatives I like or are they all there, like one never ending family reunion? I was married before. Does God accept my divorce? If he doesn’t, then that means I’ll end up with my ex-in laws. And my ex-husband? Oh my!

I suspect I’m being too literal in my interpretation. Too practical, as usual. Although, I would like to be reunited with all the animals that I’ve loved. That’s my idea of heaven. And I do honestly envy folks who find peace from a religion, whatever religion it may be, when facing a difficult time like I’m in now. All I have is Dennis, and the occasional tequila shot when the going really gets rough. It’s enough, though. We’ll make it through.

I’m looking forward to this weekend. It looks like it will be a gorgeous summer weekend, here in Wisconsin. We’re going to the farmer’s market for the first time since Dennis hurt his knee. We take Sammy which is always fun. We get lots of people stopping to say what a cute dog he is. He usually embarrasses us by barking and “growling” at them. I have “growling” in quotes because it’s fake growling. He likes to try to intimidate people. I’ve heard him growl for real at sounds he hears outside at night, and there’s a big difference. His real growl is chilling. It’s low and mean and it makes me want to hide. No one, human or animal, will question whether Sammy means business with his real growl.  Sammy’s fake growling doesn’t have the same effect. It sounds like Trump blathering insults at his latest target. Lots of noise, but not much content behind it. (I know I said I wouldn’t be polictical but I couldn’t resist the comparison. It’s too perfect.)

Both fake growlers, Sammy and Trump, are embarrassing when they let loose. (Ok, I’m really done now. I promise).

While at the farmer’s market, I am planning to make a breakfast of my street waffle which is the delectable treat of a crunchy Belgian style waffle sprinkled with powdered sugar and stuffed into a parchment paper wrap. They’re so good! No silverware or syrup required. Yum!

Happy weekend, friends. The next time you’re outside, make sure to look up to the sky. Maybe you’ll see your own sun halo.

3:17 pm 6/23/17


Yin Yang Kind of Day

9:31 pm 6/22/17

Today was one of those days that didn’t go as I planned. At all. It was pretty crappy for the first part. It ended up to be very sweet, literally and metaphorically. (I do have to confess that there was a bottle of wine and a significant amount of chocolate involved in the last part).


This is the Yin and Yang chocolate fondue dessert from Melting Pot. It is my most favorite dessert on the menu. I’m not a huge sweets or chocolate fan, but there’s something about the combination of the white and dark chocolate in this one that just works for me.

This Yin and Yang dessert is the symbol of my day. It’s good and bad all swirled together in one big, gooey mess.

My morning began with my usual call to my 88 year-old mother who still lives alone. Not sure she should, but that’s a post for another day.

Mom has congestive heart failure and takes meds to control the swelling in her legs and her energy levels. I’ve noticed during my visits the past few weeks that she seems to be winded quicker and her legs looked more swollen.

I suggested we weigh her, something the doctor wants her to do daily to monitor fluid retention. She wouldn’t do it.

I suggested during several different visits last week that she go to the doctor to get her meds regulated since her legs looked more swollen.

She declined and said she was fine.

Until this morning when she informed on the phone that she was so weak she could barely get to the bathroom from her recliner where she’s been sleeping for the past few nights because she hurt her back.

I told her I would call her doctor to make an appointment and she told me she wouldn’t be able to get out of the house because she was so weak.

Oh boy, I thought. This is going to be a rough day.

I put in a call in for the doctor to call me back and Dennis and I tried to figure out how to get her out of the house. Did she need to go the ER? Should I call 911? My gut feeling was she didn’t need the ER since she wasn’t having problems breathing. She was weak which happens when she retains too much fluid. I didn’t want to go the ER route unless the doctor thought she should go. And heaven knows Mom didn’t want to go the ER.

Dennis spent the better part of an hour calling medical transport places to see if they could get her out of the house. We have a wheelchair at her house, but there’s no ramp for her to get out of the house. No one would do it. They’d pick her up, but we needed to get her out of the house first.

Meanwhile, I talked to the doctor’s office who said we could come in and they’d assess whether she needed to go to the hospital.

Since no one would help us get her out of the house, we finally decided the best option was to build a ramp ourselves. In forty-five minutes so she could make her doctor appointment.  My wonderful, helpful husband ran around at Menards with his bad knee, bought the supplies and got the ramp built in time.

When I got to Mom’s she had a bit more mobility than she led me to believe on the phone so we had no real problems getting her in the wheel chair and having her get in the car.

At this point, I’m about three hours into my day. Yep, so not how I expected to spend those three hours.

After another hour and a half at the doctor we left with a medication adjustment and a script for some additional meds. We’ll see what happens in a couple of days. If things don’t improve, we need to do further testing. Fingers crossed they will improve, though. They did last time.

After we were done, and mom was settled back home, it was about 2:30. I hung outside with the dog for awhile and then I took a long nap from the crash of the adrenaline rush. So not how I thought I’d spend the day.

Taking care of my aging mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, hands down. At least when I took care of my kid, my word was the final decision. Not so in the situation I’m in now with my mom. She’s very coherent, and she’s determined to make her own decisions. Problem is if it’s a bad decision, Dennis and I are scrambling to make things right again. It’s not the first time something like this has happened. It probably won’t be the last.

I’d like to say I’m the doting daughter that is grateful for every minute I get to spend with Mom. I try to be that person. But the truth is this is a difficult phase in my life. I respect her right to make choices on how to live her life, but it really sucks when we end up having to pay for her bad choices. I believe that if she had gone to the doctor last week, when she was still mobile, today wouldn’t have happened.  (I know that sounds really harsh, but I did promise to alway be real on here).

All that being said, I know this is more difficult for Mom than it is for me. The truth is she’s been done with living for a few years now, and she’s just waiting for her body to give out. I think she’s actually hoping for it at this point.  I feel guilty as if there’s something I should do to make her want to live. If there’s a way to do that, I haven’t found it. I don’t think there’s a way to give someone the will to live. I suppose we all face our mortality in our own way, eventually. I don’t know what it will feel like to be 88, so I can’t judge her for being done with living. Maybe I will be, too, if I’m lucky enough to make it to her age.

There really ought to be way to choose to die with dignity and without pain in our society.  Soylent Green-style without turning people into food, of course. (Sorry about the spoiler for those who may not have seen the movie). Something along the idea of going to a peaceful room with beautiful pictures and soft music where a painless injection is administered.

Anyway, on to the Yin of my day…or is it the Yang? I can never remember which is the good one and which is the bad one. Dennis and I made dinner reservations last weekend for tonight at Melting Pot as a late celebration of Father’s Day.  They were running an all you can eat special there, which always draws me in. I’m not a huge fan of the meat, or the chocolate, but ohmygod the cheese! I love that cheese.

So, in spite of our sucky day, we were able to make our reservation.  We ordered a bottle of wine because I knew it wasn’t going to be a one glass kind of night. We had cheese. Many portions of cheese. And it was goooood. Dennis had many portions of steak.  I had some but I was pretty full from all that cheese. We brought back a bit of steak for Sammy, and he loved it, too.

And now were back where I started this post. I love the zen-ness of the beginning and end melting together. We ordered the Yin and Yang chocolate for dessert. It was sweet. And the time spent unwinding with Dennis over a leisurely dinner with a bottle of wine was sweet, too. We didn’t talk about the events of the day. We made it through the day and that’s enough. That’s what matters. For those couple of hours tonight we were just Dennis and Jackie with no responsibilities other than the four furry buddies waiting for us at home.

All’s well that ends well. At least for today. We’ll see what kind of surprises tomorrow brings.

10:46 pm 6/22/17  — I blew my time by 15 minutes but that’s WordPress’ fault. I made my edits but they didn’t save and I had to do them again.  Excuse? Maybe. But it works for me!





Summer Solstice – The New Year’s Resolution for Commitment-phobes

12:42 pm 6/21/17

Today is the first day of summer. The summer solstice. The longest day of the year and the shortest night. The OCD in me likes the solstice’s; both summer and winter. I like the finite nature of them. It’s kind of cool to have a specific date that is the longest day of the year, or shortest.

The solstices seem like a good time to assess, take stock and plan what the next six months hold. It’s kind of like a New Year resolution for commitment-phobes. After all, there’s only a 6 month stint involved instead of a year.

I have the pie-in-the-sky goals like going back to the gym and swimming for an hour five times a week. That’s a good one. I’ve done it before and I feel better, and look bettter, for doing it. But it also involves a ton of time, and not just the hour of swimming, but the time driving to and from the gym, waiting for the showers and a lane to free up in the pool, and then getting redressed and ready for the day. Realistically, that’s probably not going to happen in the next six months.

What else? This blog. I’d like to continue it for six months. I will commit to a daily entry, in under hour, for the next six months. I can do that. I’m already noticing that planning ideas of what to write about is becoming part of my day to day life. Characters that I’ve written about in unfinished works are starting to whisper to me again, too. And that’s really cool. So, yes, I will definitely continue the blog.

Here’s a good one. Finish the first rough draft of a novel I started back in 2001. Seriously, 2001. I’ve been writing and rewriting the first half of it for the past 16 years. I could have practically raised a kid in that time! In keeping with the idea of letting go of my perfectionist ways, I’m going to work on moving forward and finally finishing it. It won’t be perfect, but that’s okay. I’ll decide after it’s done if it’s worth revising and trying to publish it or if it’s just something I had to get out of my system.

What else? I’m not sure. I feel like I need a third thing, because in writing strings of three are suggested. A list of two seems incomplete. A list of four or more is too much. Three is the magic number.

I could commit to getting another dog. Not sure that will make Dennis happy. I could commit to NOT getting another dog. I’m not sure that would make me or Sammy happy. I could commit to going on a vacation to a beach somewhere. Preferably someplace with gambling, like Aruba. But that’s cheating. A beach vacation is a wish not a goal.

I’ve got a good one. I enjoy all things creative, and in addition to enjoying to write, I also enjoy quilting. In fact, since I haven’t written at all in a few years, my creative outlet has been solely quilting. I’m probably not very good. I’m self-taught — or I should say Youtube-taught. My grandma tried to teach me to sew as a young girl, but I didn’t have the knack for it. I still don’t. I can piece together a quilt but I can’t sew a garment. I’m lucky I can hem pants when necessary…and truth be told, I often just use duct tape to do that!

Anyway, I digress. While my quilts are not perfect, they are very pretty. And very functional. I make them to be sturdy, so they can stand up to many washings. I want my quilts to be used, not stored away as a keepsake. I’ve given away a few quilts I’ve made to friends and family, but I’m always leery to do it, because they have mistakes in them. I figure friends and family will forgive my uneven stitching on my binding or my seams that don’t quite match up. All our animals have quilts they love to sleep on.


This is the last quilt I finished. It was made for my sister-in-law. There’s a few mistakes on this one, but it’s a pattern I’ve made several times before, so it’s pretty good.


This is one of the first large quilts I made. I gave it to my girlfriend. There’s tons of mistakes on it. I’ve known her since 7th grade, though, so I knew she’d overlook them. And I don’t think it’s fallen apart yet, or if it has, she’s had the grace not to tell me.

While I’ve given away quilts to friends and family, I’ve never donated a quilt to charity. I’ve always wanted to, though. There are many charities I would like to support that take quilts — some are for patients undergoing chemo, some are for children who are in the hospital, some are for war veterans. They’re all worthy causes and I have plenty of supplies to make a quilt for all of them. I just haven’t because I don’t think I’m good enough. These people don’t know me and they deserve a perfect quilt, not one that I’ve muddled my way through.

So, my third goal for these six months is to make and donate a quilt. It takes a long time to make a quilt so I won’t commit to donating more than one, but I will do one. Quilters are supposed to sign their names to their quilts. I’ve never done that either. I’ll have to see if I’m brave enough to do that. For now, I think the donation alone will be the goal.

What are your goals for the next six months? Can you come up with three? Post your goals in the comments section.

May you have a joyous and peaceful summer solstice.

1:35 pm 6/21/17.  I cut it a bit close this time!


I did what?!

9:22 am 6/20/17

It’s a gorgeous morning here in Sussex, Wisconsin. It’s warm and sunny with no humidity. It’s the kind of morning that keeps me living in this state where gray skies and snow are the norm for at least six months out of the year.


This is the view from my swing this morning in the front of my house. It’s damn good one, I think. Yes, I do have a fenced in front yard. It’s odd and somewhat unsightly. Our backyard is basically swamp land and it slopes down, so our basement is partially exposed. It’s pretty and I wouldn’t give it up for anything, however, it means there’s no door that leads from the house to the back yard. Just a patio door that leads to a raised deck. Hence, the need for a fence in the front for the pooch.  It’s not ideal, but it works.

Sitting here this morning, I was thinking back to when I was about 21 or 22, and was just starting to get ready to start out on the journey of adulthood. Having an apartment of my own was a significant goal. At that time, I couldn’t fathom how I would get from living with my parents to ever owning my own home.

It was a journey. More of a journey than I anticipated it would be, with both good and bad surprises.  A divorce. Being lucky enough to find a lucrative field I enjoyed which was miles away from my liberal arts education. Being a single parent. Remodeling a house, buying a condo that I ended up hating, and finally purchasing this house that I love. Loving animals, losing animals and loving new animals. Marrying my best friend after swearing for close to ten years that I would never marry again.  Loving jobs, hating jobs, and starting my own small business. What’s next?

Thankfully, I don’t know. While hindsight may be 20/20, as the saying goes,  not knowing what the future brings is a huge blessing. Through the years, the one thing I’ve learned that helps me in every situation, good or bad, is to live in the present. I look forward and plan only as far I can envision myself and what I want for my future. Sometimes it’s merely hours, or days at the most. Other times, it’s years. On the worst days I look forward only seconds.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband, Dennis, hurt his knee. We spent the morning at the clinic and left with pain pills and an appointment for an MRI the next day. The next morning when I got up, Dennis was having problems staying awake and his breathing was very shallow. Scary stuff to say the least. As I rushed him to the hospital, I was looking forward in increments of seconds — getting past the car before me and the car before it. Nothing else mattered.

Once I got him into the ER, I looked forward in minutes. When the next test result would arrive. When the next check in with the doctor would occur.  When would the nurse be back, and did I need to call her?

When we got the news that it wasn’t a heart attack, or a stroke or brain aneurysm as I feared, I began to look farther ahead to hours. Time was measured in when he’d be released and we could go home.

Five hours later, with the diagnosis that Dennis had a bad reaction to the pain meds, he was released and I could breathe again. So could he. It was a wonderful thing.

Time went back to normal. I’m back to looking and planning months, if not years ahead. However, the memory of looking forward to only the next second, and the horror of the possibility that it could have been a bad outcome instead of good, is still fresh. I offer up a silent thanks to whoever or whatever is out there, whenever I think of it.

That terrible, frightening experience reminds me, that however far ahead I think I can look, life can change on a dime. Looking forward is a hope. A haphazard plan at best. It’s not a forecast or a promise. And because of that, the possibility for changes I can’t anticipate or control, I always live in the present.

I have to say that the present this morning, is a pretty damn awesome place to be. In spite of having a fence in my front yard.


10:05 am. 6/20/17