Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hidden Messages

Still suffering from jet lag, I've been doing a lot of online reading between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. every day this week. Three Facebook friends had posted this link, Parent a Pressures Gay Son to Change, which I read this morning. But it was not the main theme that caught my eye. It was the subtext that the parent forgot the son's birthday.

Who does that? What parent has such a busy, all-consuming life that she can forget her child's birthday? Oh, wait. Mine. She forgets (or ignores) my birthday and those of my sons and my grandchildren–who, by the way are her only grandchildren and only great-grandchildren. Whenever I might get her on the phone (she is incapable of picking up the phone to call me), she has no curiosity about my life or the lives of my offspring.

Don't bother to take her side and remind me she's 100 years old. This behavior has been in place for 25 years!

Here's what caught my eye:

When you “forget” a child’s birthday, you are basically negating him as a person. It is as if you are saying that you have forgotten his presence in the world. How very sad for him.

Without knowing for sure, I have long suspected that my daddy was the main instigator behind the decision to adopt a baby girl, who just happened to be me. I believe Mother went along, then found out I wasn't what she bargained for.

She told me once, 16-or-so years after the fact, "When you were fourteen I didn't know what to do with you, so I just washed my hands of you." Really? From what parenting book did you learn that technique?

My spousal equivalent has been telling me for several years–since he first met her–that I need to accept the fact that my mother just doesn't love me. Or, really, doesn't even like me.

Slowly, with enough reinforcement, that fact will sink in. With the support of my children and my friends, who love me, I can readjust my world view.

But that doesn't make it right.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Where in the World ...

If you and I are Facebook friends, you know I'm just back from a Big Adventure. If not, then let me tell you that explains why I haven't posted anything here in a while.

I've just been chided encouraged by a dear friend to get back to this blog, so here's a quick update.

The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus was invited to go on tour with the Cleveland Orchestra. We prepared the Beethoven Mass in C Major for six performances: two in Cleveland's Severance Hall (Oct. 31 and Nov. 2), followed by one each in Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center (NYC, Nov. 4), Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Germany (Nov. 10), Salle Pleyel in Paris, France (Nov. 11), and Philharmonie Luxembourg (Nov. 14). The photo above was taken at the Philharmonie. I'm in the back row of the chorus and am the rightmost woman.

Everywhere we went, the audiences loved us. I felt tremendously honored to be in the company of all these talented musicians. Both the rehearsals and perforamnces were very hard work, and completely rewarding to have accomplished these goals.

I stayed an extra two days in Brussels, Belgium, returning to Ohio on Sunday, November 17.

I'm slowly recovering from the jet lag. The Jazzman is currently working a job where his weekend is Sunday and Monday. Yesterday I just hung with him, going to lunch and running errands. Last night I fell asleep too early and consequently woke too early this morning, but had an 8:00 a.m. nap, and am now at the computer, offloading photos from my Nikon, my iPad, and my iPhone.

A travelogue blog post is being written and will appear shortly at this address.

And I promise to be more committed to this blog.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, October 14, 2013

When a Man Notices

We change the towels in our bathroom every Sunday. After his shower, the Jazzman scoops them all up off the towel bars and dumps them down the laundry chute. Later on, I pull clean towels out of the laundry cupboard and place them, still carefully folded, onto the towel bars, his and hers.

This morning, as he emerged from his shower, the Jazzman called from the bathroom, "Did you fold these towels and put them back on the bars?" "No," I called back, "those are clean." "They look just like the old ones," he said, with an air of wonder. "Yep, we have multiples," I told him.

Isn't it fun with a man notices something simple like that?

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

A Step Into the Past

Last month the Jazzman and I drove to Maine for a week of vacation. We decided to spend the final two nights a little closer to home, to cut a couple of hours of the last day's drive, and found an inn in Ipswich, MA. My ancestry, back to around 1630, lies in Gloucester, MA, just a few miles away from Ipswich. As I had recently uncovered some previously unknown genealogical information, I suggested to the Jazzman that we drive into Gloucester and out around Cape Ann. We would couple my research with a stop in Rockport as we drove out around Cape Ann to visit the recently-sold home of a relative of his. He had visited this home overlooking the water several times in his life. We would be walking through our minds a little on this trip.

In research I had done over a year ago, I learned—to my great sadness—that my birthmother had lost her father, whom she adored, when she was 16. How did I know she adored him? When I was 33 and she was about 70, I found her. I tried to speak with her on the phone, but she simply said, "I can't talk to you now," and hung up the phone.

My darling daddy—in a quite astonishing turn of events—was her doctor. He didn't realize she was my birthmother until I solved the puzzle.

When he learned she was my birthmother, he pulled her medical file from the file room in his office. That way, if she came in to see any of the doctors in his practice, the nurses would be searching for the file, and he would know of the visit. Voila! One day a few months later, a nurse started looking through the files on his desk while he was sitting in his consultation room. He asked what file she was looking for and, when she said "Gertrude Verburg," he replied, "Tell her I'd like to speak with her."

So when she was situated in the examining room, before starting her appointment, she was visited by Daddy, with pictures of me and my sons in his hand. He said she had no look of joy or familiarity on her face. She showed no emotion. When she looked at the pictures, she simply mused, "Oh, aren't they nice." She was having hip problems and had surgery scheduled later that month. She said she would accept a letter from me if I'd send it to Daddy. He would take it to her while she was in the hospital, preventing her husband—who had no knowledge of my existence—from seeing the letter. A few weeks later, I got an envelope from Daddy in the mail. Inside was my letter to my mother. She had written me back in the margins of my letter. What she revealed shocked me.

She had never felt her mother loved her. (Ding! Ding! Ding!) She was very close to her father. (Ding! Ding! Ding!) She lived for Sundays when he didn't work and they would spend time together. I could not believe the parallels in my life and hers.

And then she asked me never to contact her again. Which I didn't. About ten years ago, I learned she had died in 1998. In the past week, I learned that her husband died last year. Done. Book closed.

I've thought so many times about that girl who lost her beloved daddy at age 16. How that must have changed her. Her oldest brother moved to Pennsylvania to work. Gertrude and her brother still lived at home with the mother who couldn't show her daughter she loved her. Then, five years later, at age 21, her mother died. At 21, she's all alone with her brother who was fifteen years older. She was only 21. She was barely an adult. She had no parents to turn to for guidance and nurture. She had only her brother, himself never married. They lived together in Glocester for several years, then he moved to Florida. To Orlando. When she got pregnant at age 37, she went to stay with her brother to hide her pregnancy. To hide me.

I had also, about a year ago, determined the location of Hodgkins House. To that point, I had thought it was the house my mother or grandmother grew up in. But when I started examining and comparing dates, I realized that could not be. More research revealed that my great-uncle, Harvey Monroe Griffin (my grandmother's year-younger brother) and his wife, Amy, had been the owners of the house. Why the painting was entitled "Hodgkins House" has been lost over time. My grandmother's married name was Hodgkins. It is unknown what relationship the Hodgkins family had to the house. I know my great-grandfather Hodgkins was a carpenter. Could he have built the house? There were numerous "housewright" designations in my ancestry. I never determined the provenance of the name, but I now knew where the house was, and I was determined to see it in person.

After standing in front of the house where my mother had grown up and taking a few pictures, we drove out around Cape Ann. On the north shore, as we were heading to 505 Washington St., we took a wrong turn, so we turned around and went back to a beach we had passed. We got out, admired, the view, snapped a few pictures, and talked to some divers. I had no idea how serendipitous that wrong turn and the time taken to enjoy the view would be.

Getting back in the car, we continued on around to Washington St., just a couple of miles further down the road. After so many years of admiring the photograph of the painting, I recognized it instantly. The Jazzman pulled to the curb and I got out to take pictures. He drove ahead to find a place to park.

As I was taking pictures, I noticed a woman leave the house and get into her red Mini. As she drove down the driveway, she looked over at me. I smiled and held my hand to my heart. She pulled across the street into the driveway next to where I was standing, rolled down her window, and asked, "Are you a Hopper fan?" I smiled and said, "No, I'm a Hodgkins." For the first time in my life, I had said, "I'm a Hodgkins." I felt who I was. She asked more and we talked about the Griffin/Hodgkins connection. She also told me about having found the headstone of an ancestor, Moses Hodgkins, in an outbuilding when she bought the house. It now sits in her second story studio.

Our conversation drew to a close, and she handed me a card with information about her recently published novel. I glanced at the house again, and ran across the street to get into the car and recount the incident to the Jazzman.

And we drove to Oak Grove Cemetery.

As soon as the city offices opened that morning, I had called the Archives Department and asked if they had a master index to all the cemeteries in the area. I gave the woman who answered the name I was seeking—John Hicks Hodgkins—and she called me back half an hour later, telling me exactly where the grave was located. We pulled into the cemetery, which is situated across the street from the Derby Street home where my mother grew up. I looked at the cemetery map and, after scratching my head a little, suddenly saw a monument marked "Griffin." I raced over there and saw names both familiar and unfamiliar.

Lying in this plot are the caskets containing the remains of my great-grandfather, great-grandmother, great-uncle, his two wives and the son he had with his first wife, my grandfather, and my grandmother.

Let me just say here that I cannot speak for all adoptees, but much of my reading has indicated—and many adoptees I've spoken to in person have indicated—a sense of not belonging. It was not until I first discovered the microfiche of the 1920 census in the National Archives in Washington, DC, that I felt I belonged on this earth. That I had an entitlement to walk on this planet.

Walking around that cemetery last Friday gave me the same feeling. I had to fight back the tears as I tried to elucidate my feelings to the Jazzman. Those were my ancestors. We had driven through the cemetery and seen lots and lots of surnames that are in my family tree: Babson, Lane, Hicks, Allen, Swift .... These were people who would have acknowledged my existence. They would have loved me, as my grandfather loved my mother, or they would have tolerated me, as my grandmother tolerated my mother. But I would have belonged.

My heart was full.

You can read about the rest of our vacation and view more pictures on my travel page.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


I earned about 1,573 Good Girlfriend points yesterday. Despite a headache that began shortly after I woke, I went out in the blazing sun and mowed the front lawn (so DBF wouldn't have to mow it in the evening after a hard, 12-hour day working on the railroad). Midway through the job, I noticed the weeds in a couple of beds previously mentioned by DBF as needing attention. I plopped right down and pulled those nasty weeds. Then, after completing the mowing, I drove to two nearby stores to buy mulch to refresh the beds.

These tasks would have garnered only about 73 points. The headache added 1,500 points to the balance. The headache that continued through the evening and the night, and that is still with me this morning.

After taking an Excedrin at 6:00 a.m. and retrieving the ice pack from the freezer to apply to the base of my skull, I started thinking about my personal lifetime headache count.

I started having headaches when I was 16. That's about 47 years ago. There has probably not been one week throughout my life when I haven't had at least one headache. Do the math: 47*52*1 is the minimum count: 2,444. Over two thousand headaches. But many weeks, like last week, I had two or three or four days that were marked by a headache. Over two three four thousand days when I wanted to—at the least— put my head on the pillow and make the world go away and—at the most—bang my head against the wall and kill myself.

Think about the people who have hyperthymesia. While it might be cool to remember that on July 13, 1976, I wore that cute little green knit shorts outfit I made, it would not be cool to remember each and every headache. Especially the one in the summer of 1979 that lasted, relentlessly, for three months.

When someone dies of a lingering, painful illness, we tell the bereaved, "She won't be in pain any more." My sons should probably publish a version of that in my obituary: "She won't have any more headaches."

Please tell me that, wherever we're going when we're done here, we won't feel pain. If I thought I would still get headaches after I die, I'd kill myself. Oh, wait—that doesn't work! That's kinda self-fulfilling.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The End to a Summer's Day

We spend the 4th of July week every summer at Madison Shores on Lake Erie. We share an old cottage with another couple. I bring DGS and DGD up for a couple of days. They dig rivulets and swim and play with whatever other kids are around while they're there. The best part of the day for the grownups, however, is the sunset. About half an hour before sunset, we all drag our lawn chairs down under the big tree by the shore. We each have an adult beverage-of-choice in a can or plastic glass. And we sit, discussing every manner of topic, as we watch the sun sink into the horizon and then wait for the inevitable "bounce" that follows. This year the weather wasn't so nice for our week at the lake. Northeast Ohio has been receiving lots and lots of rain this summer. But the sunset on Sunday evening made up for the nasty weather we would endure the rest of the week. This was my fourth summer vacation at the lake, and the sunset was truly the finest I've seen since moving to Ohio. (You would have to experience sunsets in Tucson to understand that qualification.) Here, for your viewing pleasure, in a sort of sunset timelapse, are a few of the images we enjoyed on June 30, 2013.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Words and Pictures

A month ago we were in France. This was our second Go Ahead Tour and we had a truly memorable time.

As I did with our 2012 tour to northern Italy, I wrote a travelogue (travelblog?) of our trip on my other blog space. I included galleries of most of the photos we took, including photos of the memorable foods we ate. This was, after all, a food and wine tour.

Go Ahead features a regular blog on their site, including photos posted by travelers and Go Ahead staff members. I sent the link for my blog to the editor of that blog, who asked me to submit a food photo and a non-food photo from each destination along the route for publication on their blog.

I emailed my submissions today, and am anxiously awaiting seeing my photos in pixels on Go Ahead's site.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Calm After the Storm

I'm sitting on the back porch after this afternoon's rainstorm, finishing a glass of a lovely Sauvignon blanc that was a gift from Saturday night's dinner guests. (This was the coolest bottle of wine. It had a glass stopper rather than a cork. I think I'll start using it as a carafe d'eau on the dinner table.)

As I watch the chipmunks chasing each other around the yard and the robins searching for worms, I'm reminded of the last two times I watered my hosta bed while waiting for this storm system to come our way.

No sooner had I stretched out the hose and started the sprayer than a robin hopped onto the lawn about 10 feet away from me, waiting for the worms to surface.

Who knew birds understood cause-and-effect? I sure didn't!

I guess "birdbrain" is no longer a slur.

(As I was typing this post, two chipmunks went tearing across the porch and ran up the wall behind me. I think I startled them as much as they startled me!)

Friday, April 19, 2013

New Kid in Town

While running errands the other day, I noticed the location of a favorite restaurant that closed a couple of years ago was sporting a new tenant. What was Harry & Jean's on Ironwood Blvd. in Canfield is now Whitefire Grille|Spirits. When my errands were complete, I treated myself to lunch.

The interior doesn't appear to have been changed from the Harry & Jean's configuration. There's a feel of understated elegance. It's not white tablecloth, but the tables have a dark wood finish that is quite lovely. The wait staff is attired in all black, with ankle-length white aprons.

When I sat down at my table, I noticed large wine glasses with the logo etched into one side. Nice. And then I saw the large wooden pepper grinder and the—are you kidding me?!—Morton's Sea Salt Shaker. I have that same shaker at home IN MY CUPBOARD. I pull it out to season my cooking. I do NOT place it on the table when serving a meal!! Not nice.

The feel of elegance continued when the menu arrived. This is a "scratch kitchen" and "chef-inspired". Of course, one has to pay for that elegance. Lunch entrées were in the $10-$15 range. I ordered the Lobster Macaroni and Cheese, which is accompanied by a house salad. I asked for balsamic vinegar dressing, which my server, Kayleigh, stated was a white balsamic. The salad portion was generous, and the dressing was delicious. However, on Thursday at 12:30 with a not-packed house, I had to wait 15-20 minutes for my salad to arrive. Kayleigh apologized for the wait, but really, what does it take to quickly put a salad on a plate? You don't need the chef to do that task!

When the entrée arrived, I noticed that it was the standard oversized entrée, meaning I'd have half for lunch the next day. The lobster seemed a little chewy or rubbery to me, but I don't have lobster very often, so maybe that's how it's supposed to be. The mac/cheese was a little runny; there was a liquid at the bottom of the bowl. To me, that's a dish that's normally baked solid, or has a fairly solid consistency. Where did this liquid come from? The dish included fresh chopped tomatoes and pea pods, which were tasty and added a nice texture to the dish.

Kayleigh asked if she could bring a box for my leftovers. When she did, she had affixed a label to the front of the black styrofoam container. The label was marked with the name of the dish and the date it had been served. I love that practice, which I have only experienced once before, at Pomodori Italian Eatery on Hilton Head Island.

I wanted to try their desserts. Kayleigh had to recite the list to me and—of course—didn't give me any prices. I hate asking the prices—it makes me feel cheap. (I'm sure I'm not alone, and that restauranteurs take advantage of that idiosyncracy). Therefore I like being given a dessert menu so I can make an informed decision. Alas, there is no dessert menu. I chose the carrot cake, which has almonds, walnuts, and pecans—and a wonderful texture. It was a large portion, and cost $6.00. (Why is Cheddar's the only restaurant in town that offers a selection of small, inexpensive desserts?)

As I was finishing my meal, I asked Kayleigh if they were on "soft open". In my long wait for my salad, I was searching the Internet to view their website. I could find no website and no Facebook page, so thought maybe they hadn't had their grand opening yet. She told me that they opened four weeks ago. I expressed surprise about the lack of social media and Internet presence. She said the wait staff had all been telling the manager that they needed this and that they needed advertising. But the Whitefire management doesn't seem to think any of that is important.

Is this going to be yet another Youngstown-area restaurant that is doomed to failure? I hope not, but unless they change some of their habits and get their name out and their reputation secured, that's exactly what will happen.

By the way, on the label on the take-out container, their website URL was prominently listed. When I opened my iPhone's browser and navigated to that URL, I saw "This Page Is Under Construction - Coming Soon!" Not even a placeholder page with their logo and information. Nothing.

To the management: you can't make money if no one knows about you.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Daffs Are Coming! the Daffs Are Coming!

I love daffodils. I don't love winter. I can endure a couple of months of cold weather, but after too many below-freezing days in a row, I start moaning and groaning and annoying everyone around me. But once the spring bulbs start picking their green shoots through the ground, I sense that I can make it through the cold; I can stand to don a coat for a few more days.

April 9 was the day. I was backing out of the driveway to head to my aqua exercise class at the gym when I saw them: three little daffodils adjacent to the basement window.

And every day since, a few more have popped up and out.

Yellow abounds. I will live through another winter!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Define: Gallbladder

Quick—can you tell me the function of the gallbladder? I had noooo idea. I pride myself on having been raised by a doctor and a nurse and living a relatively healthy life. But I don't recall ever having had a discussion about gallbladders.

I do get headaches. All sorts of headaches. You name the type of headache and I've probably experienced it at least once. Lately—living in Northeast Ohio where the weather rolls across the Great Lakes and slaps us in the face—I get frequent weather-related headaches. Over the past eight days there were four high/low/whatever systems that blew across. With each one of them, I got a horrible sick headache that made me sick to my stomach and wouldn't go away all day.

When I get a sick headache like that, there are a couple of foods I can eat that make me feel better. Now, this may seem silly, but I'll make a bowl of cheese grits (yes, I'm a Southerner) or nuke a frozen pizza. Those foods sit lightly on my roiling stomach and help me feel better.

Monday I was sick all day. Horrific pain in my head and stomach that had ten-foot waves. I did what I had to do, including a run to the grocery store to get lunch stuff for the Jazzman. While there, I picked up a Red Baron 4-Cheese personal-size frozen pizza. When I got home, I put the groceries away and then nuked my pizza. Heaven! Finally, when coated by cheese grits and then pizza (yeah, okay, and a little b&J's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch on top), my stomach felt like it would be settled enough for me to sleep through the night so I might wake up pain-free in the morning.

And then 12:30 a.m. came and the pain in my chest woke me from a sound sleep and made me start googling "heart attack symptoms women". After lying there worrying for over half an hour, I finally woke up the jazzman and told him we needed to go around the corner to the ER.

As you've probably already figured out from the lead-in, the problem was a very unhappy gallbladder. Very. The word "distended" was used as were the words "surgery" and "remove."

Early next Monday morning I'll undergo a HIDA scan and then have a mid-morning appointment with the surgeon. We'll see what happens next.

You can bet I'm reading everything I can lay my hands on and watching everything I put into my mouth. That kind of pain? I hope never to experience that again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Signs and Wonders

A long time ago, in a marriage far away, I had a husband who pinched his pennies until they bled copper. If the last person in the room didn't turn off all lights upon leaving (even for a few minutes …), he was incensed. The offender would be chided and reminded.

The basement in this home was the place that caused him the greatest annoyance. After his son left the basement lights on one too may times, Husband took a pen and a piece of paper and wrote a note that said, "Turn Off the Lights." He then taped the note above the wall switch, in hopes it would cause everyone leaving the basement to turn off the lights.

I tried to explain to him that if any of us had looked at the light switch, we would have remembered to turn off the lights. He didn't get it. He was certain his sign would solve the problem. (It didn't.)
Flash forward twenty years.

The Jazzman and I try to be eco-friendly. Mahoning County Green Team, however, doesn't make eco-friendliness easy. I navigate to their website frequently to see what numbers are being accepted this month. You know those little triangles on the bottom of disposable containers? I'm driven by those.

I took a trunkload of packing materials to the recycling station the other day. Included in that trunkload were bits and chunks of white styrofoam that had been used to protect our new TV from bumping and jostling. Of all the recycling containers at the station, none of them were labeled "Styrofoam." I pulled my iPhone out of the car and opened the Green Team website. No Styrofoam. Absolutely no styrofoam. When I got home the styrofoam went back into the garage until we could figure out what to do with it.

The other day when we ate out, I brought home half of my dinner to be the next day's lunch. The restaurant gave me a black container with a triangle/6 on the bottom. After emptying it, I washed it out and—noting that Mahoning County Green Team now accepts recycling numbers 1-7—tossed it into our kitchen recycling bin.

The next morning I came down after the Jazzman left for work and noticed a sign on the wall.

"No Styrofoam" and an arrow down to the recycling bin.

Twenty years and three marriages/significant relationships later, again with the signs!

When he came home that day, I said, "But it has a '6'." He countered "But it's styrofoam." Bets were placed, and we waited for the end of the holiday weekend so I could call the Green Team office and settle the argument once and for all.

Alas, I lost! The Green Team lady said if the container is soft styrofoam rather than rigid plastic, the '6' on the bottom couldn't save it. It was the cursed styrofoam and could not be recycled.

Good thing I didn't make a very large wager, huh?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Child As Adult

My older son lives in the Dallas Metroplex. We see each other every couple of years, and keep up-to-date on each other's lives through the courtesy of Facebook, Twitter and texting on our phones. But because we're so limited in our personal interactions, I haven't really been able to watch him grow up. He'll be 40 this year (oops, I think I said that out loud!), so he's pretty well grown up. But the past couple of months I've seen him from a different perspective.

We're cat people, and he's had two cats during his adult life. Persephone and Orion became his masters about 13 years ago. Then Persephone passed away in August of 2009. So it's been just T.J. and Orion for the past three-and-a-half years.

So what does this have to do with my watching T.J. grow up? A couple of months ago, he realized something was very wrong with Orion's health. After a lot of worry and several doctors' visits, he learned Orion had a fungus that had eaten his skull away. I watched from afar and read his impassioned Facebook posts about this beautiful and affectionate cat.

What I have seen is a very mature man with an enormous heart do everything in his power to bring comfort to this beautiful animal that has been so special in his life. I'm so happy T.J. had this cat as a part of his life, and I'm so touched by his gentle carrying of Orion to his passing.

I have two wonderful sons. I'm a lucky mother.

Note: the picture above was taken last night by one of T.J.'s former roommates, who also loved Orion.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pay Attention to Me!

I went shopping today. Actual, physical shopping that didn't involve a mouse and clicking. The entire contents of my underwear drawer have seen better days, and I wanted to buy a few new pairs of panties.

Two facts: 1) I Nordstrom. It's truly my favorite store in the whole world. 2) I hate.hate.hate Victoria's Secret, but I like their Supersoft Hiphugger panty. It fits me well and doesn't give me VPL.

In Beachwood Place today, after splurging on a sale Eileen Fisher sweater and T-shirt in Nordstrom ( with excellent assistance from a very nice middle-aged sales associate), I girded my loins (so to speak) and walked into Victoria's Secret. And none of the sales associates would pay attention to me. No one acknowledged my entrance into the store. After I walked around for a few minutes, one young woman asked if she could help me, then pointed me in the opposite direction of the panties I wanted. When I finally found them on my own, no one was around to help me find my size. After I found and selected five pair, I decided I wanted a pair of lounging pajamas to take to California next month. Again, no one offered to help me find what I wanted. After a few minutes, the first girl noticed me. She didn't really try to help me find what I wanted, but spoke in her earpiece to another associate to ask where in the store the pajama room was. The person she spoke to stuck her head around the corner and saw me coming. When I reached the pajama room, she did not acknowledge me nor ask if she could help me even find my size! I couldn't! I took my handful of panties and headed to the register, where I saw only one clerk and five customers in front of me. I walked back to the panty display, tossed the panties on the counter, and walked out of the store.

After a few minutes in Pottery Barn where several clerks acknowledged me and one helped me buy a set of sheets on sale, I headed back to my beloved Nordstrom. Surely the sales associates in the lingerie department would help me find some good-fitting, reasonably priced panties.

Nope. I walked into the department and started searching the racks. Two associates were busily helping other customers. (Good – shows promise.) One young associate was standing at the register, glancing around the department, not making a move from her safe space. I was very visibly lost in a sea of nylon and needing help, but none was offered. After trying to get anyone's attention, I walked out of the department.

Here's my bottom line: If you can't show me a smidgen of good customer service, my credit card is going to stay in my pocket. I'll gladly wait a few minutes if you just say, "I'll be right with you. But I am not going to beg you to take my money.

There are plenty of people in our geographic area who are out of work and would love to have your job. If you don't know the meaning of customer service, please leave and make room for someone who does.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

One Ouch After Another

After visiting my orthopedic surgeon again on January 9, I'm in the brace for three more weeks. During this period, I am to take the brace off three times a day, apply a warm compress to my wrist for a short time, and then attempt to stretch the wrist backwards and forwards. There is but one word for this activity: Ouch!

There is one more newly allowed activity for this time period: Showering! Yesterday I took my first full-body shower in six weeks. It had to be short, rather than long and lingering, as the incision is not yet completely healed. And how strange my arm felt! I attempt every movement with great trepidation. How much pain will be self-inflicted by picking up that washcloth, trimming those toenails, grabbing the end of that towel to dry my back?

But despite the pain–or threat thereof–there is a sense of freedom to having my forearm unsheathed after six weeks of confinement. I allow myself to fantasize that I will be able to do everything exactly as I did before the fall.

And then reality returns. It's going to be a long and painful road back to the operatic accompaniments I was playing all last year. My next gigs are scheduled for the week of March 11. When I am exercising my wrist and feel the pain, I think it will take much longer than one month for me to be able to play again, to be able to earn income again.

And so I repeat my mantra: "It could have been worse."

<Humorous Anecdote On>
I attended the first Cleveland Orchestra Chorus rehearsal of the new year last Monday night. Our director saw me enter the building and came over to greet me. "How did you break your wrist," he asked. "I heard you fell off the piano bench."

That, My Friends, would have been worse!
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