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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We Are The Champions ....

Yeahhhh my hockey team won our league championships this weekend.  What a great feeling, and what a great end to a nearly undefeated season.  We lost one game, and tied a few, and won all the rest!  But it hasn't always been this way.  A few years ago we won the Ruicci Cup after being second to last in the league.  Now THAT was an upset.  Here is our team pic, all sweaty and all:

I would like to try and explain the camaraderie of being on a team.  And I mean on a team sport.  I was a gymnast for many years, and yes, I was on a team, but being out on the ice / court / field together is a different story.  You have to depend on them, and they have to depend on you.  You win together, you lose together.  But for me, there's more to it.  I haven't been good about keeping in touch with everyone on my team in the off season, but as soon as you come back together, it's as if nothing has changed.  But for those couple of hours a week, THEY are your support system.  And there is something magical about getting in that locker room, and on the ice, and just forgetting life for a little bit.  No matter how big or small your problems are, you don't have to think about that for that couple of hours.  I'm happy the season ended so well, but sad that it's over for 6 months!  OK, bring on the sun now!

Me with the Ruicci Cup * Ted Lindsay giving me my award

Me stretching before the game

A funny before game diving ritual from a couple of my teammates

Me and my defense partner, Sherri

The ice after we won


Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Rain rain ...

Did you know that I love rain.  I walked out the door this morning, and it was just a little drizzle.  But now it's an all-out rain, and the only thing that would make it better would be if it was a lightening and thunder storm.

It is just warm enough (about 45) to not be the super freezing rain that NOBODY likes.  It feels like a cool spring morning.  It's waking up the earth and pulling the worms from their slumber.  It smells like dirt and fresh laundry.  Ahhhhh Spring is coming!

Yes.  I.  Love.  Rain.

Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tips for funeral planning

Here are just a few tips if you have lost someone, and you are planning their funeral.  You will appreciate knowing these things after you have gone through this.  Learn from my triumphs and my mistakes:

- Always have food everywhere.  It doesn't have to be fancy, but spend the money on a caterer.  Don't add stress and try to make food yourself.  We had the viewings catered, which was the smartest thing ever.  2 days of socializing and crying can make you tired.  It gave us something to say to people, "Please make yourself a plate of sandwiches, veggies, fruit, and cookies!"  It gave us something to do when we were mentally exhausted and needed a break.  It was one less thing to think about for 2 days (hunger).

- Give everyone in the family a job, no matter how large or small, and then assume they will do it.  Don't try to do everything yourself (my mistake).

- Make sure all sympathy cards that are sent to individuals are reported to the person writing thank you cards so they can be properly thanked.

- Put someone in charge of writing the descriptions of flowers on the back of every card so we can include a description in the thank you card.  Better yet, take a picture of the arrangement, and then a picture of the card to match them up.  A lot of people don't get to see the arrangement that they sent.  Right now looking at the cards that the funeral home pulled off, I have no idea who sent what.  I should mention that most flower shops do include a description, but not all of them.

- Have someone make a roster of people at the funeral, and at the luncheon, if applicable.  It's hard to remember who was there several days later when writing the cards, and there is no sign in book at these events.

- Give yourself a few days off after it is all over.  Once the people are gone and the responsibilities are over, it will hit you like a brick.

- Let the funeral home do as much as they are offering.  They know what they are doing better than you do.

- If possible, get help writing thank you cards.  There are a lot to write.

Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Heart Broken

This is the hardest post to write ... This month I lost my Granny.  She wasn't just some grandmother in another city or state that passed away (and Im not discounting the pain for anyone who has lost their grandma who lived in another city or state), but she was my buddy!  We had regular dinners - fancy ones until about the last year, in which she really wanted comfort food, so always wanted to go to a local diner called The Avenue.  Trust me, after lobster clubs for lunch and filet for dinner, The Avenue can get pretty old pretty fast.  But it's what she wanted.  I have to say, though, the homemade chicken noodle soup is the best ever.

Granny always said she was a terrible grandmother because she didn't bake or sew.  But we had such a good time together.  We would lounge by her salt water pool in Michigan.  I would help her drive to Florida each year for about the past 8 years (she refused to fly), and we would hang out on the beach and make fun of the swimsuits on people walking by.  When I was young, my family would go to visit her in Florida for spring break.  Granny would "winter" in St. Pete Beach, and spend Feb, March, and April, in the sun each year.  She would leave after she had finished the year-end books for the family company, and come back just as the spring flowers were coming up.  Granny would have her beach cup (kind of like an adult sippy cup, long before we had our starbucks-esque plastic cups with straws).  I would ask Granny for some of her Pepsi, and she would say, "No honey, that's Granny's pop" ... little did I know it had whiskey in it!  HAHA!

And I should tell you that as the grandkids got older (in our teens), we were no longer allowed to call her Granny.  She said that Gran was more appropriate, because Granny sounded like an old lady.

In the last year and half of her life, we spent a lot of time at doctor's offices.  She was having a hard time breathing, so we visited a pulmonologist, who informed us that she had both lung cancer and lymphoma.  Her response was, "Now?  NOW I get cancer?  I'm 86 and I quit smoking 50 years ago!"  We had the pulmonologist, the oncologist, the cardiologist, and the chemo treatments.  She also visited her primary doctor, as well as a pain specialist for her sciatica.  She would say, "It's not easy to live this long."  The chemo, this wonder-drug called Rituxan, actually ONLY battled rapidly multiplying (cancer) cells.  She did not lose her hair or get the "throw-ups", but did mention feeling wiped out for a couple of days after each treatment.  We would drive and she would complain about "those old people" who were going slow.  I would say, "Gran, you're 86!"  She would giggle and say, "So I am!"

She made it through the hustle and bustle of thanksgiving and Christmas, with the whole family coming into town to spend as much time as possible with her (which she loved, but it was extremely exhausting), and right after the new year she went to visit her primary doctor.  She had been deemed "in remission" by the oncologist.  Now, I just thought it was a typical visit, so her care taker took her.  Little did I know that she would tell the doc that she was done with doctors and she was ready to go, and asked to be placed on in-home hospice.  Gran!  What the?  But she's a strong lady who always made her own decisions.  She honestly believed she would have a heart attack two days later because she said so.  So in they came and took away half of her "life-saving" pills.  She lasted 7 weeks like that.  I admit, it was hard to visit during that time, when she was rapidly declining.  It wasn't my fun-loving, hearty laugh, sun bunny, cocktail Granny.  She had around-the-clock care, and my Dad stayed with her during those last weeks.  She slept often because of the morphine, and I presume the cancer had come back because in the last days she had pain.

I was there on her last day, and for some reason I asked if the priest had been there to give last rites, even though we didn't know when she was going.  She couldn't really talk, only moan.  She was obviously trying to get something out, and was frustrated that she couldn't.  I asked her if she wanted me to sing Janis Joplin, and she made a face and shook her head NO!  So much for that!  She mentioned "Sally," and I asked if she meant Sally Matthews, her long time friend and neighbor, who happened to have passed away 10-15 years ago.  I haven't heard that name in a long time.  I think Sally was there to welcome her.  I also tried to use Reiki to clear the air above her, as it felt so heavy.  It felt lighter, and I also saw a man up by the ceiling with open arms.  I didn't recognize him.  It was not her husband, my Bumpa, and it wasn't her father (I only know from pictures), and no, it wasn't Jesus.  But I do think it was her guardian angel.  I said I loved her and headed to work.  She passed away that night at 10:45pm.

I loved my Granny immensely, and so did so many others.  She will be missed every time I visit her pool, lay in the sun, pass The Avenue, have cocktail hour, and so many other things.

See you on the flip side, Gran!

Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Florida 2014

It was a good time to get away.  Scheduled to fly out just hours after my Granny's funeral (she would never wanted anyone to cancel a good time!), it was a nice escape of 2 days by myself before my friends arrived.  While the weather wasn't as good as I would have liked (1 good day by myself, and about a day and a half of sun once my friends arrived), it was still a great time!

I set out at 5:30am for 2 of the days to complete my scuba diving certification, which was awesome, but soooo early!  Lots of turtles.  We went to Weeki Wachee sink hole, which was extremely disorienting the first day, but a little bit better on the second day.  But I am officially a scuba diver!! (and yes, I peed in the wet suit ... we were in the water for 4 hours!)

The next few days were filled with:

Touristy shopping, perfect sand, great omelets, Crabby Bills, stone crab claws,  huge pelicans, grouper sandwiches at the Hurricane, karaoke with the nursing home, sunsets, Pina Coladas at the Don, "Take another picture",  karaoke at the smoky bar, and finding random air plants.

Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Busy times & Great Omelets

So among my health, food, and gardening posts, I feel like something is being lost.  Im using a very intellectual mind and posting facts and stories and recipes.  But I tend to not interject emotions very well.  This weekend I will change that.  I will be posting 2 posts:  one about a friends trip to Florida, getting away from a very snowy Michigan, and the other post will be about losing my Granny, who was one of my best friends.  It was very hard, and it will continue to be hard.  But that is for another post.

So there is just a bit of "A Serene Life" content in this post, I have to tell you about this AWESOME omelet I had.  While in Florida, there is a little cafe (attached to a public beach store) that my brother has been telling me to get breakfast at for at least 3 years.  This year I finally made it down there and had our breakfast in the sun.  I ordered a seafood omelet, which was filled with perfect shrimp, scallops, and crabmeat.  The eggs were fluffy and salty, and there was a scattering of fresh herbs.  But the winning ingredient (which I would have never thought of!) was CREAM CHEESE!  It was brilliant.  I was like seafood alfredo in a perfect egg packet.  I think I will try to make it, adding just a touch of white melty cheese just to make if feel a bit more omeletty.   I'll let you know when I attempt this culinary masterpiece!

Peace.  Love.  Serene.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


You can believe the information in this post or not ... I'm just relaying the information.  I have a few friends that say they are allergic to MSG, and that it's not so good for you.  I've never noticed a difference when eating Chinese food, and really didn't know what it is that causes an allergic reaction in this solution that they define as a "flavor enhancer."

This article is from a newly favorite magazine called Eating Well (mar/apr 14), and promotes healthy eating and natural ways of life:

MSG - or mono sodium glutamate - is a flavor enhancer used in savory foods, especially Asian foods.  It contains sodium, but only a third of the amount that you'd get from an equal quantity of salt. MSG also includes glutamic acid (aka glutamate), an amino acid that's natural in foods like tomatoes, mushrooms and soybeans, and is the source or our fifth taste, umami.  In fact, you eat about 13 grams of natural glutamate a day compared to only around half a gram from MSG.  Some people say that MSG gives them headaches, exacerbate their asthma, or causes other symptoms referred to as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, but decades of research fails to support the link between MSG and these side effects.

Please respond!  Do you know of other research?  Do you have some of these symptoms?  I want to know!

Peace.  Love.  Serene.