Holiday Panic Button aka Shameless Promo

Posted by Kathy on Nov 4, 2015 in Thoughts from ME

Kathy-Book-CoverI’m not going to tell you how many days there are until Christmas. Or Chanukah. Kwanza. Or even my birthday. (Relax, it isn’t until April. I could use a new outfit.) But I am aware that since Halloween has passed, there is a scientific phenomenon that goes like this:

(Trust me, I made this up.)

Take the average length of a day, and if it is anytime after November 1st, divide it in half and that is how soon Thanksgiving will be here. The day after Thanksgiving is that big ol’ retail day they call “That Big ‘Ol Retail Day” or something like that. And the very next day? Christmas. Really. That’s how it works.

(Trust me. I made this up.)

But not to panic! Look at the right side of this blog. There is a picture of “Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess” – a funny, wild piece of fiction – a full-length novel – perfect for nearly every over-18 female on your gift list (there is the occasional use of a bad word…um, moving the f— along now.) Even some males would enjoy it – but just the evolved ones, I think. For the rest, just get them some boring boy thing. So – click on the book picture and it will lead you to excerpts and ordering information. A few clicks and your list is half done!

Thank you for supporting your small businessperson. I work out of my home, the local coffee shop, or anywhere else where they don’t kick me out for causing my usual disturbance.


Have Brain, Will Travel

Posted by Kathy on Jul 12, 2015 in Thoughts from ME

Kathy-Book-CoverWhat an awesome experience to be on the radio this morning. Instead of nervous, I felt excited. In other words, breakfast and coffee – possibly not enough of the latter – stayed in its place (grammar police, please note lack of apostrophe!) and I didn’t even come close to thinking that I might pass out, die, or never see the shimmer of a dark chocolate candy bar wrapper again.

However, I made a tiny radio error which, of course, cannot be altered, withdrawn, or otherwise removed from the psyche of anyone who was actually awake between 9:30 and 10:00 on Sunday morning. Apparently I was not fully. Awake, that is.

So here is the official notice of the Beyond The Sea book festival 2015 in Lincolnville, Maine. Lots of authors will be there on July 24, 25, & 26, but my spot is in the early afternoon on Saturday, July 25, to sign copies of “Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess” and ply you with chocolate.

And all you have to do is look to the right – that cute picture of the novel in question – and all will be revealed about book details including upcoming events. Go ahead. Click. I’m waiting…sigh…


The Public Bathroom Redux

Posted by Kathy on Jul 2, 2015 in Thoughts from ME

DSC_0153Peeps! I’m coming to the end of a road trip to a conference in a land far away. I took some scenic (as in “Trucks: 20 MPH”) back roads. Destination: Indiana. Made lots of visits on the way (haven’t had to make a bed or wash a dish in two weeks – woohoo!) and studied a plethora of public restrooms. Yup. The stall doors that push inward, with roughly four inches to squeeze through to get inside…sucking in the belly (and not even for a photo!), clinging like a monkey to the door as it swings inward, hoping, hoping, hoping that I don’t land in the bowl which by now is self-flushing like a freaking geyser…yeah – I have to stop at these places ’cause I keep hydrating myself. Don’t want to get dehydrated. Don’t want to break the health rules that are shoved down our parched throats. Ugh. Rant complete.

Hey – look over there – to the right. That picture. Something about chocolate. Hmm. Click there, peeps. Big stuff going on. Even more exciting than bathrooms.


A Hero in my Own Mind

Posted by Kathy on Jun 12, 2015 in Thoughts from ME

image (10)Hi, there, peeps! This morning I made myself coffee for breakfast, thought about eating, sensed my belly fat (I know, I’m like Kreskin)…nobody called me to put me on TV (sorry my friend on FB, just kidding), and it’s almost 11am and I’m still in my old-lady nightgown. I did, however, get out the binoculars because I thought I might be seeing those 2 escapees from the NY prison across the street. Yeah, I watched them for a while, thinking about what I’d do with the $100,000 reward. They were just sitting there, looking extremely suspicious, dressed as city workers and yet – not working… I watched them, wondering when they’d make their next move, phone at the ready to call 911. Then a big work truck pulled up. Street cleaning. ~So Disappointed in Westbrook, Maine


Oh, wait, peeps! Look at that! Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess! Click on the book cover at the right to learn more about how you can read a book, laugh a lot, and learn absolutely nothing!


Your Healthcare Dollars at Work

Posted by Kathy on May 26, 2015 in Thoughts from ME

DSC_0149Ah…the weekly staff meeting.

At one place where I worked – and I can’t say where because “you never know when you’ll need a reference”- a letter was sent to our homes, telling us there might sometime, possibly, potentially, maybe, perhaps be some fiscal changes that would affect us. And that we would be hearing more about this soon. What followed was a series of meetings about the sometime, possibly, potentially, maybe, perhaps changes. We never did hear what those changes might sometime, possibly, potentially, maybe, perhaps be. But it was good for a lot of special meetings. At the 5th or 8th or 20th of these meetings, one brave soul raised a hand. (OK, it was me.)

“Could someone sometime, possibly, potentially, maybe, perhaps tell us why we’re having these meetings?”

The supervisor smiled and nodded his head in affirmation of the question. There was a great deal of forehead scratching, accompanied by the other administrators in the room also solemnly nodding their heads. Then he finally answered.

“We want you to be fully informed of what we don’t know.”


Hey there, peeps! Click on that cute picture of “Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess” to see about upcoming book events (hint: next one is at GoBerry Portand this Friday, May 29th from 4 to 6pm) and to get ordering info. Just look to the right. The right. Up a little. Or maybe down a little. Over there. See? There ya go.




Announcing Ted Day

Posted by Kathy on May 24, 2015 in Thoughts from ME

DSC_0149Peeps! Ted would have been observing a BIG birthday today – Sunday. This year, it will be a Heavenly celebration. Hope people party up there. There better be cake.

In honor of the unique human being he was, I encourage you to make this day – or any day – a “Ted Day.”

1) In the midst of any social gathering, slink away to another room, find a sofa, and lie down for a nap. After exactly 18 minutes, get up, wander back in, and rejoin without missing a beat. You’ll have missed nothing. Option to nap: Pick up a book – any book – to read.

2) Get yourself a gooey, yummy latte and the crumbliest pastry you can find. Sit in someone else’s car to eat it, freely dropping crumbs without noticing. Enjoy. Ignore car owner’s barking about the crumbs, those which will soon be joining crumbs of the past in impossible-to-clean upholstery. Have a second pastry. If questioned by spouse/partner, simply say, “There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s perfectly good food,” and indulge, guilt-free.

3) No matter what your accomplishments in life, dress to please yourself. Shredded-from-wear T-shirts are a must. Go to a high class restaurant dressed down. Shaving optional. For either gender.

4) Teach a young child about life by telling stories of when you were a child back in the olden days: the 2-room schoolhouse, pranks played on classmates in prep school, and stories from your hippie days. Embellish as needed.

5) When walking through your own or anyone’s home, pick up random musical instruments to play. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played them before. Play them now.

I love you, Ted!! This one’s for you, sweetie. xox Always and forever.

ps – Oh – what’s that? To the right? Why, it’s a link to “Not Even Dark Chocolate Can Fix This Mess!” How’d that get there?? Click to learn more. And have some pastry with it.


The power of pills

Posted by Kathy on Apr 22, 2015 in Thoughts from ME

DSC_0153Math quiz:

Q: What do you get when you cross a laid-back man with a slightly neurotic, obsessive woman?

A: A match made in heaven.

Q: If the two are deeply in love, and the laid-back man goes to said heaven, what is left?

A: A woman who cannot get rid of the slightest trace of the man without feeling anxious, overly sentimental, and remorseful.

Ted has been gone for just over six months. In grief terms, that’s not long, so I expect the tears, the why and what ifs, the difficult first markers of the calendar…the necessary task of choosing a headstone that couldn’t possibly say everything I need the world to hear about a man whom I loved and admired so much. But I just didn’t see this one coming.

Last night, on the local news, it was announced that today is “take-back-medicine” day at the local TV station. Anyone who has outdated or unused medicines sitting around is urged to bring them in, whereupon everyone gets their pick of what they like – no, of COURSE that doesn’t happen. Uh huh. Anyway – it’s a chance to turn in old medicine that will go to the police department where they will take whatever – oh, totally kidding again – the medicines will all be incinerated. And all this is free. What’s the big deal, you may wonder. And you might also be wondering other things, like what to make for supper or whether or not someone is taking, at this very moment, your most personal financial information and possibly your tax return.

But back to the medication hoedown.

In the last couple of years, our state has charged a nominal fee for the return of medicine. Pharmacies can no longer take the stuff back and dispose of it for you. Everything is more regulated, we are told NOT to flush – a good idea since no one wants to eat the ocean fish that just ate Aunt Tillie’s foot fungus pills. So when I heard about the take-back, I was delighted, because cancer requires a lot of drugs, and then more medication for the side effects of those drugs, and then there are all the person’s regular drugs, and friends, I do not mean the fun kind.

This morning I began the gathering process of Ted’s pills. Drugs in pill caddies, bottle after bottle, bag after bag, clear bags, paper bags, more pills than I remembered. I’d put every one of them, for years, into his pill caddy. I meticulously did this because as his brain cancer progressed, he sometimes had trouble with processing some things, but more than that, his right hand and arm didn’t work well, and it’s hard to break up pills that way. And being the more neurotic and obsessive (see above quiz) of the two of us, I knew that if I put up his meds, checking them three times, they would be correct. Truth be told, in his healthy, pre-cancer days, sometimes he’d skip some of his regular medicine. He’d tell me he’d run out of his blood pressure pills the week before and he guessed he’d go refill them. I had trouble understanding that, because isn’t there someone who is watching you take them when you’re supposed to, and also, the pamphlet always said not to stop your medicine without consulting your doctor first. Yes, I read it every time.

This is what I remembered this morning as I put each batch of leftover pills into a bigger bag to turn in: I remembered the huge pill caddy, the trips to the specialty pharmacy, hoping and praying each time that with every pill, the damned cancer would be obliterated. Finding a sense of security in seeing him take the right medicines in hopes of keeping things stable. Pouring his orange juice every morning and setting it down at the table, while he took his pills and keeping half an eye on him to see if he needed help, while I made glorious breakfasts for the two of us, morning after morning, berry pancakes and eggs and bacon – the kind without nitrites- and yogurt and fresh fruit. And sometimes, cinnamon rolls. We’d sit at the table each morning, loving each other, loving the food, pretending we were doing a Morning Show to our imagined audience on the front lawn. Those days, filled with love and food and yes, accurately prepared medication for the laid-back man I loved so much and for whom I would do anything to get him well.

They’re only pills. But it’s hard to let them go.


A Valentine’s Day Tribute to Love

Posted by Kathy on Feb 13, 2015 in Thoughts from ME

DSC_0153They say that the “firsts” are the most significant. I don’t know if that’s true, and I don’t know who “they” are – that nebulous group that seems to make vague rules we accept.

In the arena of love, I suggest that firsts are often not the stuff of which great novels or memories are made. Oh, maybe that first taste of soft ice cream, or the first thrill of falling in love at age thirteen, yes. Or that kiss, in a darkened gym at the school dance. Those were good firsts. But sometimes it’s an experience or a person that comes into your life later that feels so much better than the first. And that was how it was for me to meet Ted, back in 2001, who quickly became my friend, and later, much more.

This has been a bittersweet week for me. I watch my lovely teenaged grandchildren go through the normal angst of crushing loads of schoolwork, offset by my grandson cheerfully playing out “Happy Birthday” over the phone to his great-uncle Steve, who turned 65 two days ago and seeing my granddaughter dance her little heart out in the school musical. In the scheme of things, those are great moments in history for our family, among a near-daily plethora of firsts.

But I also have gone about the business of Valentine’s Day this week. Something is off. And I know what it is. I peruse the half-empty card sections looking for the right card for my daughter and her husband who have been gently housing me in North Carolina for the past month, an arrangement that gives me relief from the Maine blizzards and shields me ever so slightly from the reminders of what is lost back home.

When Ted died at the end of September, I knew that the firsts would be hard. But, man, they do creep up. No matter how one prepares, they grab you like a feisty mosquito in the middle of a laugh at a summer barbeque. Ouch.

And so there was the ouch in the card section of the drug store.

I thought back to previous Valentine’s Days when Ted and I would have a dinner-out plan, usually with our dear cousins who stood up for us at our wedding. And we would leave cards for each other all over the house. I usually put one in the cereal cabinet for him to find. He would hide them in dresser drawers for me to discover, or tape one to the bathroom mirror. In the years before he became ill and disabled, there would be a gift. Flowers. And always, so many kisses and “I-love-you”s to each other.

I looked through the cards that said “To My Husband” and decided on one. There were two I liked, but let’s face it – the one for $3.99 seemed better than the one for $7.99. I mean, he might not really see it from Heaven. But I’ll leave it out for him anyway.

Because one thing I’ve learned about firsts and seconds and all events…is that love never dies.



Prayer of Renewal

Posted by Kathy on Dec 31, 2014 in Thoughts from ME, Uncategorized

DSC_0149The Paul Noth cartoon in the December 15, 2014 issue of The New Yorker shows two older women sitting at a bar. One of them has a lit cigarette, and both are holding drinks. The conversation appears to be serious. The caption reads: “O.K., one last big rhubarb score. But then I’m out of the pie game for good.”

Ted should have seen this cartoon. It was nearly hand-picked for him. He was an avid reader of books, newspapers, journals, and this particular magazine. It was one of the few pieces of mail that promptly fell into his open, waiting hands to be read, the bills and business matters set aside. My husband loved his New Yorker, and he loved rhubarb pie, especially the soft, buttery-crusted version our neighbor Sue made for him each year on his birthday, which coincided with rhubarb season.

It was exactly three months ago, as I began to write this, that Ted took his last gentle breaths. The understated, talented man with a loving soul died in my arms after a feisty, three and a half year, kick-ass battle with brain cancer.

Brain cancer. A nasty thief, stealing one ability after another, reducing a strong, active lover of nature into someone needing help with the simplest of tasks. Little by little, compromises, replacements…the smallest pleasures coming clearly and purposely into focus. During his last fully conscious day, I fed him bits of food, rewarded by small moans of enjoyment with each taste of the pot roast dinner so lovingly prepared for him at Hospice by a kindhearted muscleman named Norm.

As I look at the cartoon again and again, what I think about is that Ted’s missing it. I’m missing him, yet he’s missing so much: the cartoons, the first snow, the wild turkeys that jiggle and sprint their way across our front lawn in Westbrook, Maine…the brilliant visual antiphony of lights inside the house, strung up by our friends a few days before Christmas, when I had no ability to do so myself in my heartache and despair.

From the small things of daily life to the significant experiences, present and yet to come, I think about how he will miss out. Those events that deepen, that connect – the grandchild milestones, gatherings with friends and family, the book we were writing together…songs unsung…the trip to Niagra Falls we’d talked about. So frustrating for me, and then for families who lose those much too soon, there are a whole new set of dreams unfulfilled, the pain of which permeates daily thought. Thoughts which, possibly transmitted into something we call prayer, transcend our sophisticated electronics to lodge in another zone of space and time.

Our tears spill onto the dirt and evaporate into eternity, whispered pleas piped outward, maybe to the soul of God himself, carrying the sensory impressions of our eyes and ears and taste and words, to those whom we are still connected, to the willowy cushions of their souls, maybe even transferring the images that absorb the strokes of a single cartoon on a page in a magazine.




Posted by Kathy on Oct 30, 2014 in Thoughts from ME

DSC_0149I’ve been wandering, ever since my husband Ted died at the end of September. It’s a stunningly weird time, without balance, without direction. And in the physical and mental wanderings, I begin to remember the tiniest of things, the almost-forgotten stories, the funny situations, and the most painful grief. It often plays itself out in unexpected places. No, cancel that. It almost always is unexpected. A key unlocks a door, a box, a tiny glimpse of memory. It happened today, at about 4:40 in the afternoon, at a Chinese restaurant Ted and I had gone to many, many times in the thirteen years we were together.

It was around 4:30 in the afternoon. I remember that, because in my wanderings today, in looking for answers to questions about car repairs and maintenance that Ted would have taken care of, in inquiring about insurance plans that we would have done together, I took an afternoon walk at the nearby shopping mall. It was just past 3:45 when I started to feel hungry and realized I’d had nothing to eat since my morning coffee and a few crackers with creamed cheese and olives on it, which may be my new favorite breakfast. I called the restaurant.

“What time do the lunch specials stop?” I asked. Four o’clock, I was told.

I had about ten minutes to get out of the mall, walk to my car, drive across the street, and get inside. I made it with four minutes to spare.

It was my first time eating there without him. I had stopped in a couple of weeks ago, to let our friend who worked there and whom we’d known for years, know that Ted had died. I didn’t want to show up one day to eat there and have to explain it then. So having already done that, I felt pretty confident that, armed with a column to be edited and today’s newspaper to read, I’d be able to enjoy a late lunch.

Chicken with cashew nut, rice, soup, icy cold soda…it was very comforting. I read the paper, overhearing a conversation about bad drivers that made me wish I were sitting across the room – one of those voices that penetrated my ears and my fears, as I’d been contemplating a road trip at some point. But, trying hard to shut out the Voice of Doom five feet from me, I suddenly recalled one of the earliest times Ted and I had gone to this place to eat. You see, at the beginning of the meal, when you first sit down, they bring a bowl of “chips” – homemade, light, crunchy things that we would both happily attack. We often had to ask for a second bowl, even before the soup would arrive. At some point, I’d commented to Ted that I liked the lighter colored ones. It was another couple of visits there before I noticed that he always seemed to eat the lighter ones, leaving plenty of dark chips for me. One day I called him on it.

“Oh,” he’d said. “I thought it was the dark ones you liked!”

He thought he’d been doing me a favor. And it turned out he liked the dark ones just as well, so it worked out. He cheerfully indulged my choice of chips thereafter.

This afternoon, as I recalled that memory, I started to chuckle quietly. I played it and played it over in my mind, smiling, amused…until the tears – and the hurt – began. Where was he, and why wasn’t he here with me? It seemed so wrong. And it stung so painfully. I wiped my tears with a napkin, trying to get yet another public crying jag under control.

“What’s wrong?”

I looked up to see my friend from the restaurant, who had seen me come in earlier, smiling.

“I’m thinking about Ted,” was all I could say. Then I told her the chip story.

She picked up my hand and held it, listening to me.

“So much love,” she said, and continued to hold my hand, as I sat at the table.

There were no platitudes, no fixing, just holding my hand.

OK. I can go back there again.



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