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“I was a fortunate and happy man,” Pavarotti told Italian daily Corriere della Sera in an interview published about a month after the surgery. “After that, this blow arrived.”

“And now I am paying the penalty for this fortune and happiness,” he told the newspaper.

Luciano Pavarotti, 1935-2007

(Quote from AP article courtesy of AOL News. I know, I know, but they’re an old friend. A free old friend now.)

Ta ta. Off to find fortune and happiness…

I make no promises that I will be posting much more often. I seem to have needed a break. (I also pretty much entirely missed my “blogoversary” in June…how do you spell that, anyway? Oh, well.)

I wish I could say I’ve been tied up with (or by) a new lover, though surprising prospects are on the horizon, I suspect…we’ll see. More may be to follow on that; maybe not. I’ve been doing pretty much what I’ve been doing for the past year or so…family, occasional travel, work, gardening (which is amazing this summer…I love late summer!) These are heady days, indeed!

Garden View I

Snagged!

Please Note Tree Rat

I spent an scrumptious 9 days in the Bahamas last month.

My Private Bahamas Beach

I don’t think I’ll disclose the location of my private beach because I’d like to keep it that way, in case I want to return some day. If I mentioned the island before, you go dig it up; but the name of my beach will go with me to the crematorium! Now I’ve got my eye on Belize…and another Caribbean beach. Another cottage. I’m even wondering if I might be able to afford it in October of this year and still hit Memphis in November…

I’ve spent some wonderful days with my grandboy, who is an amazing little person. He’s very calm and peaceful and such a joy to play with. Toddlers have to be one of the greatest creations of all time. Can I bottle him up just like his little 16 month-old self is now and keep him that sugary forever? Don’t I wish! Though it might make it a little hard to take him to Europe when he’s a teenager.

Beach Boy

I’ve been doing some journaling in an undisclosed location and have done a lot of work in therapy, though I’ve only had a couple of sessions with my therapist in recent months. I mentioned this to her the other day and suggested maybe I should cut back and do some work on my own for a bit. She responded that she’d see me in two weeks.

I’m working on a journal post about things that I am passionate about. It will be a long list. I have a lot to go around.

The post itself is about Miss USA. I know it’s old news but, while I was tooling around YouTube today, I saw the video clip of the tumble Miss USA, Rachel Smith, took in June at the Miss Universe pagent in Mexico. Watch the MSNBC interview, as well. It’s worth it.

This is a woman with amazing grace and composure and I am proud to have her represent my country without reservation. The thing that made the greatest impression on me as I watched the video clip of her fall was that she immediately regained her composure and continued on with hardly a flicker. Look at her face 1.5 seconds after her butt hits the floor. She looks as if nothing ever happened. That is the spirit I’d like to see fostered in American women. Hell, in all women across the globe!

So what.

Fuck that.

I’m wonderful anyway.

Yeah!

P. S.  Either world’s loudest orgasm woman moved away or is having a very ‘dry’ summer.  I’m rooting for the former.

…some right-wing, right-to-life, so-called Christians can be?

Third Minnesota sextuplet dies;
others in critical condition

Have I mentioned that I have been a nurse for nearly 23 years? And that I worked 14 of those in a high-risk perinatal setting. In a hospital with a Level 3 designation, providing high-tech, high-quality obstetric care.

Here is the entire text of the brief piece, which CNN got from the AP. And I’m sure they paid the royalties to them, too.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (AP) — Half of the sextuplets born prematurely to a Minnesota couple have now died, while the others remained in critical condition, hospital officials said Saturday.

A third boy, Lincoln Sean Morrison, died Friday. Two of his brothers, Tryg and Bennet, died earlier in the week.

The four boys and two girls were born last Sunday about 4½ months early at a Minneapolis hospital. Doctors had advised the couple to selectively reduce the number of viable fetuses to two, but they declined.

Parents Ryan and Brianna Morrison released a statement saying it has been “a difficult week” for them, and they thanked everyone for their prayers and support.

“We continue to trust in the Lord and are hopeful for a good outcome for Cadence, Lucia and Sylas,” the statement said.

Hospital officials said no further information would be released.

Can I tell you how frustrating this is for an OB nurse?

When I worked in my last life, I worked with two women with fertility problems. Actually, I worked with quite a few with fertility problems but these two stand out in my mind particularly at the moment.

Linda was in her thirties, happily married and Christian. I can’t remember all the specifics but Linda underwent fertility treatments including drugs like Pergonal and Clomid, the use of which frequently gives rise to conception of serious multiples (quads or greater). Mary was in her twenties, married, Catholic and Italian. I have no idea of her fertility treatment but she conceived quads.

Linda was initially pregnant with four babies, selectively aborted one and carried three babies to over 35 weeks gestation before delivering them, all in the vicinity of five pounds. None of them needed assistance with breathing. They all fed. They may have had a few bumps but, pretty much, were as near a term pregnancy as any triplets are likely to get.

Mary, being from a staunch Catholic upbringing, opted not to selectively terminate and tried to bring her quads to term. I believe they delivered in the vicinity of 33 to 34 weeks, considerably earlier and lighter than Linda’s triplets. Mary required much intervention during her pregnancy, developing preterm labor necessitating medications. Some of those PTL meds are not the kindest or best things for even a relatively healthy, childbearing age woman.

I don’t think any of Mary’s babies was able to leave the hospital with her. If I remember correctly, they all required feeding tubes. Some of them may have had assisted ventilation (probably with nasal C-pap.) I think at least two of Linda’s three went home with Mom…it might have been all three.

I had the pleasure of taking care of Linda in the last few weeks of her pregnancy, when she was confined to the hospital. I also took care of her afterward and helped her to learn to breastfeed. Those are some of the fondest memories I have of my years as an OB nurse.

I never had to deal with Mary when she was hospitalized, thankfully. She was one of those nurses who claimed a moral and religious objection to caring for women during elective terminations. Frankly, I always thought she was just lazy and not really so morally offended, more of a selective Catholic, but that’s an even snarkier post for a really snarky day.

If the Minnesota couple had chosen to reduce the number of fetuses in the pregnancy to three, they might all have left with Mom. Had they reduced the number of babies to four, they would all probably still be alive.

As it stands, they delivered six babies at roughly 22 weeks. A 22-week singleton stands, at best, a 50-50 shot, in my estimation. And that’s a 22-weeker that didn’t have to spend those weeks sharing his environment with five siblings.

As it is, the six babies have required a tremendous amount of health care resources. I’m sure not one was able to breathe on his or her own at birth meaning 6 full teams of neonatal nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists needed to be present. Every effort is made to save any neonate, regardless of gestational age, after the point of potential viability (around 22 weeks when I left OB in 2001).

The three boys who’ve died were each treated by a team of those professionals along with all the ancillary departments necessary for a very sick infant. The three surviving babies, I’m sure, remain in a neonatal intensive care unit, fully ventilated, unable to eat, unable to see yet. Totally unprepared for survival in the environment into which they’ve been thrust.

I don’t begrudge them the medical care, which will run into millions of dollars if many more survive. God bless them that they were able to provide care for their children. I begrudge their parents’ complete lack of foresight via blind devotion to a religious ideology. It is my opinion their ideology is flawed, is too literal and basic and lacks any sense of nuance. I’m of the opinion that four of those babies might be alive today had two of them been selectively terminated early in the pregnancy.

Imagine that…abortion might have saved the life of a child that is now dead.

Theirs is a black and white world. Too bad most of the world comes at us in lovely and varied shades of grey.

What a waste.

Oh, I’ll link it up later…I’ve got a bath waiting…

This is a smattering of the stuff I’ve been dealing with over the winter; hence, my hibernation. I doubt I’ll be back much soon, though I do have a draft about what I’ve been up to.

You know, therapy’s got to end eventually, doesn’t it? It does. Doesn’t it?

Posted on an anonymous, private journal of mine, which I’m using as a therapy journal.

  • My garden is now my self, and my child.

All the diligence I put in to cultivating Michael to be a man of integrity, sincerity, hope is paying off now. He is a fabulous man and a fabulous father. He seems to have my instinct for how to nurture his son while fostering his intellect and his ultimate independence.

I really was very adept at encouraging Michael to be all he can, learn as much as he’s able, investigate as much as he desires. I also taught him, as best as I was able, to respect others, to be open to the world around him. I tried to encourage him to be open to his feelings; he denied any desire at the time but I see how open he is in his relationship with Jen and with his son.

I really did a good job nurturing and cultivating my fledgling to become a real man, a good man. Mostly I listened to my heart telling me all the things I wished I’d received as a child…unconditional love and acceptance, encouragement of my unusual bents, interests and proclivities, exposure to many different things and experiences in the world, being there and (mostly) paying attention to him.

Now he’s done. Not only have I gotten him through college, seen him married and a father, I now see him as a man considering and planning a future with his family. His emotional separation is complete. I have done a good job; no, I have created a masterpiece.

His honesty in our talk following the birthday party. The way he opens his eyes to the 600-pound gorilla, just like his mama, and deals effectively with it, unlike his mama, historically. He’s self-assured enough to be vulnerable, to assert what he wants or needs, to work on an issue pro-actively. What a man!

So, I wash my hands of that task. Except for getting him interested in politics (which might be more successful after he’s done grad school) there’s nothing more to be done there. Now, on to the next project.

  • My garden.

I’m communing with the earth this spring. I’m listening to her and taking instruction about what she needs here, how I can help there. I’m now talking about putting in a drainage system which will create a (sometimes) water feature through my terraced cut flower and rock gardens. That diversion would meet up with the primary diversion below the ivy-covered stump then trickle down along the half-buried drainage pipe that is (now, thanks to my efforts) carrying the water from the downspout to the creek.

I’m dreaming big and wild this year and the work will be backbreaking but when I’m done, there will be an environment that could be beautifully tended by another special soul or allowed to be swallowed back into nature with lovely surprises springing up in unexpected places at unexpected times.

Gnome Glen, Rock Garden (terraced), Cut-flower Garden, Perennial Bed, Annual Beds, screened seating area, vegetable garden, Wind Chime Tree, creek bank recovery project, creating a self-sustaining wildlife-friendly habitat.

Dad’s Black Willow.

  • Dad. Lisa. Death. Grief.

So, Lisa, who was my salvation, was cut off in the prime of her life and just prior to the start of my own. Lisa the Savior. Lisa, my Out!

I paid my dues…over and over again. I danced the dance like a marionette! Just who did I do the dance for, though? Yes, it was Mom and Dad’s dance, their song, but which was the one I must support?

The weakling. Dad.

  • Dad’s dead now.

The one I was allied with, the one with whose care I was charged. That one is dead.

The one that was my responsibility is dead.

The other? Is it my duty to save my mother? My brother? Or should the allies continue to dance the dance they choose.

I listen to my own drummer. I dance to my own music. I cannot dance that way any more.

I now dance much more in tune with my child’s music. Well, not his actual music, mind you, but emotionally…you know. Metaphor.

  • My Garden-Redux

Now I am allowing that incredible capacity I have for nurturing to flow where it will right now and all flow is toward the garden! (Well, there’s a little stuff going on inside too but that’s for another time.)

I speak with the garden, with the water that runs through it, with the perennials I or others before me have planted, encouraging them. I listen to the creek and the earth and the trees and plants as they tell me what they need then I provide it.

I believe I am turning into a serious gardener.

And it’s the yummiest thing I’ve felt yet!

I think I know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a woman who gardens. Either tends veggie patches or designs and builds wonderful habitats and stunning masses of natural beauty. I’d love to do any of this professionally but will content myself with being a nurse while I develop into a Master Gardener. Once I retire, all bets are off! I could be an entrepreneur…South Jersey native plant nursery lady. It’s about time!

Something to think about.

Of course, I could adapt that to being the Rochester-area native plant nursery lady if my grandson is growing up in the Syracuse vicinity.

Okay, is the lesson you’ve been waiting for…the one about knowing I don’t have to save the world, I only have to do what I can to make it a better place and I already do that? Oh that happened months ago.

Let’s move back to sex, shall we?

And hypnosis.

; )

So, there’s been a lot on my mind and a lot I’ve been dealing with as well as planning out my fabulous garden and doing random acts of gardening kindness in my community.

I’m getting to know some of the neighbors a bit better. : )

All in all, life is very good this spring.

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

1922-2007

 

Road

You can say the sun is shining if you really want to
I can see the moon and it seems so clear
You can take the road that takes you
to the stars now
I can take a road that’ll see me through

Nick Drake, Road; from Pink Moon, Island Records (though they were cooler in the 70’s!)

If anyone associated with Nick Drake or his estate wanders over here, I hope you don’t mind. : )

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

That’s what I used to read to my sister every night when she was little, and to my son when he was small. That and Clement Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before ChristmasEvery Christmas Eve.

I miss my sister this Christmas.  And I miss my dad; oh, how I miss Dad.

I have a wonderful son and daughter-in-law and a spectacularly bright and adorable grandboy.  I have my mom and brother, as always, the reliable ones, the constants.  I have love in my life and more coming in, I can just feel it.

But I miss the old times and the lost loved ones and feel selfish.  I decorate my home with relics from a long ago past, a secret childhood I never had and always had.

I raise my glass ( lovely, simple Australian Merlot) and toast the birth of Christ, the love in my life and those I love and those…newly and long…gone from my life.  But never gone from my heart.

Happy Christmas to all and, on earth peace, good will toward humanity.

From today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, this touching story via the LA Times:

Last goodbye, Vegas-style

Pa. Green Beret who died in Iraq had set aside money for bash.

By Bob Sipchen

Los Angeles Times

LAS VEGAS

Shortly after Jeffrey “Toz” Toczylowski’s last mission in Iraq a year ago this month, friends received a message.

“If you are getting this e-mail, it means that I have passed away,” the missive said. “No, it’s not a sick Toz joke, but a letter I wanted to write in case this happened.”

The Army Special Forces captain, 30, who was raised in Montgomery County, Pa., said he would like family and friends to attend his burial at Arlington National Cemetery, “but understand if you can’t make it.” The message, distributed by a fellow Green Beret after Toczylowski’s family had been notified of his death, added: “There will also be a party in Vegas with a 100k to help pay for travel, room and a party.”

Last Saturday, Jeffrey’s mother, Peggy, hustled about Las Vegas’ Palms Hotel and Casino, making final arrangements for a bash that drew family and childhood friends of her son’s from suburban Philadelphia, young men and women from his days at Texas A&M, and comrades in arms who had bonded with “Toz” on missions they could not discuss with civilians.

By 7 p.m., the last of 120 or so invited guests were offering hotel bouncers the password and trooping into the Palms’ 10,000-square-foot “Hardwood” entertainment suite.

Two young women in skimpy outfits poured liquor from the fully stocked bar. Disc jockeys blasted rock and rap from a loft decked out with a pool table, a wide-screen video-game console, and a circular love seat that rotated out of view.

At 9 p.m., six Green Berets swarmed an unsuspecting colleague on the suite’s attached basketball court. A few feet from where one chef carved rare prime rib and a sushi chef sliced hamachi and spicy tuna rolls, the men wrestled their comrade onto an 8-foot stepladder, secured him with a few hundred feet of duct tape, covered him with whipped cream and cherries, spray-painted his hair red, poured whiskey down his throat, and then hoisted the ladder into a vertical position and stuck a microphone to his face.

“The first time this happened we were in Bosnia,” detachment Cmdr. Ryan Armstrong, 31, said, spitting booze and dessert toppings. “Jeff was a sniper team leader. I was the assault team leader… . That time they left me taped to a dolly for a couple of hours… . Toz was the one who cut me loose.”

A limbo contest erupted, and a full-size cutout of Toczylowski in a red flight suit appeared to hold the pole as a long line of partyers wobbled underneath.

Around midnight, the Toz cutout, wearing a Russian fur cap with goofy earflaps, joined in the dance contest, wriggling between couples to show off moves of dubious propriety. Inspired by this boldness, several former girlfriends danced suggestively with the photo.

At 3 a.m., music still thudded, folks were still hurling basketballs at the hoop, and the Toz cutout hovered over the suite’s glass-enclosed Jacuzzi.

Jeffrey’s mother had placed photos of the missing host – hoisting a big fish, grinning beside a waterfall, posing with his motorcycle – near the chocolate fountain, around the pasta station, and throughout the opulent bedrooms and baths.

Likewise, though most of the wall-mounted flat-screen TVs showed football games, the main room’s largest screen featured home videos that Jeffrey’s sister Pam, 34, had assembled.

Early in the evening, the footage was of Toczylowski as a child, frolicking in the snow with his sister, helping his father build a backyard pool, playing football and soccer. As the night wore on, the young man went skydiving across the screen, ran with the bulls in Pamplona, and helped lock a friend in an outhouse.

Peggy, 55, had wanted all the images to be joyful. But well past midnight, someone put in a more current DVD. Tracer bullets streaked across the Iraq sky. Buildings exploded in fireballs. And there was Toz, crammed into a helicopter with Special Forces comrades.

The screen filled with footage of Toz’s memorial service at a dusty base in Iraq. Taps sounded.

Off and on, Peggy Toczylowski got teary.

A manager at a design studio, she’d been in her office on Nov. 4 last year when three uniformed soldiers came to tell her that her son had been killed on a combat mission in Anbar province. A few weeks after Jeffrey’s Nov. 14 burial at Arlington, a team of Special Forces soldiers arrived at her home and presented an hour-long PowerPoint presentation on the details.

On Nov. 3, a string of Black Hawk helicopters had been roaring across the desert on a nighttime counterinsurgency raid, carrying Special Forces soldiers to hunt high-value targets who had been making improvised explosive devices.

Flying over the desert at night is disorienting. Toz apparently believed the helicopter had touched down. He stepped out. It was more than 100 feet off the ground and thundering ahead at 100 m.p.h.

His mother took comfort in learning that the mission had been a success. Her son’s e-mail precluded any resentment.

“I died doing something I believed in,” he wrote, “and have no regrets except that I couldn’t do more.”

Toczylowski, a graduate of Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster, went through the ROTC program at Valley Forge Military College, then turned his Texas A&M criminal-justice degree into an assignment as platoon leader with the military police. He completed the Special Forces training course in 2003.

After a sergeant in his company died of a heart attack, Toczylowski got serious about his own mortality, fellow soldiers said. He earmarked money from his savings and insurance policies to assist friends and help cousins with college tuition and to fund a scholarship at Valley Forge, his mother said.

The party was the challenge for the family. But Peggy and Pam say Jeffrey was wise, and they’re convinced he knew that assigning them planning duties would keep their minds off losing a son and brother.

By the time a waiter arrived with a breakfast cart full of juices and pastries, Pam Toczylowski ventured to guess that the party would probably come in just under $100,000, including airfare and rooms for her brother’s teammates and a few friends.

She said it was worth it.

“Jeff was the kind of person who lived every day as if it would be his last,” Pam said. And he would want them to make his farewell bash “a party that when people leave, they will talk about it forever.”

And if that’s not a party people will talk about for a lifetime, I don’t know what is.

Godspeed, Capt. Toczylowski!

I drove over to Jersey today to visit my mom. I fixed her computer again…the second time I’ve had to replace the wireless card…and watched the Eagles’ football game with her. The “Birds” won, routing the Redskins 27 to 3. I have to wonder if Washington would do better if they changed their name. It’s either bad karma for continuing to usurp and make caricatures of Native American icons and ideas or RFK Stadium was built on some sacred burial ground. Some Great Spirit somewhere seems to be perpetually pissed at the Redskins.

It was a good day to spend with Mom. It was rainy and gloomy so even what little I’ve ever felt as the bosom of mother’s love was some comfort. To her credit, she tries. She just has no idea the damage done in my formative years and beyond and is clueless as to how to bridge the gap. I’m still trying to figure out if I want to or if I just feel obligated to reach out out of guilt. Ahhh, therapy.

It was raining cats and dogs on the ride home, making for a white-knuckle drive up I-95, thankfully only a few miles from the bridge. I’m safely ensconced in my living room, Smithwick’s at hand. Sadie is snoozing now after sulking mightily because I would not share my meat-on-a-stick with her. When she can pay her way, she can have all the Chinese she wants.

My mom happened to mention that tomorrow is the anniversary of my sister’s death. I heard her but was in the process of trying to fix the computer so I didn’t immediately reply and, when I thought of it again, I chose not to go there. I don’t know if I avoided it for me, for her or out of spite. For so many years I wanted to talk about the impact Lisa’s death had on us and for years the subject was taboo.

I decided to gas up in Jersey because gas is always about $.20 a gallon cheaper there than in PA. Since it was pouring, I decided not to make the trip into the little “downtown” I grew up in but headed north to Glassboro, which would shorten my route home after my fill-up. It wasn’t until I made the turn onto Route 322 that I realized my route would take me directly past the spot where my sister was hit by that car. It was a weird feeling to drive by there, 22 years minus 5 hours from the time a 20 year-old swerved 6-10 feet to the right and struck my sister from behind then sped off, leaving the scene, leaving my sister lying there with her blood clotting in her throat.

I don’t think I still know fully how I feel about all this. I’m obviously still angry…angry at Kamela, angry at the fact that she knew she’d struck my sister and chose to drive home, angry that there was no death by auto charge or reckless driving charge, angry that there was never an apology, barely an acknowledgment. Sometimes I ponder how different my life would have been if Lisa had never been hit. I think I would trust much more. I think I would let people in more and have more friends. I should have more friends.

I should have been an aunt.

I should still have my sister.

But life is funny that way and we take what’s given to us most of the time because, most of the time, we have no choice. What would I give up to have my 41 year-old sister, married, with kids, hopefully happy, living a few towns away or in the next state? I don’t know. I feel selfish to even consider that because there’s not much that I’d care to let go. Then again, if Lisa were still here, I have the feeling there would be a whole lot more in my life today.

So, I think I’ll hoist another beer and drown my sorrows in my father’s poison of choice. Here’s to life, whatever it give us and whatever we make of it.

Here’s to my sister, who had so short a shot at this world.

Here’s to my dad, who I will miss terribly this holiday season.

And here’s to my grandson, who has his mother’s and father’s (and my father’s, my sister’s) brown eyes.

Before that she bitched about: