September 27, 2011

it's my cross to wear

Do you have a treasured gift? I was laying in the bed the other night, feeling a bit uncomfortable because the chain of my gold cross had twisted a bit around my neck. That's when it struck me there was a story lurking about this particular cross because of special feelings I feel every time I take that little gold symbol of my faith between my fingers or look at it hanging on my neck. It's as if get to carry the gift of the person who gave me it with me always.

I wish I could have taken a clear picture of my cross but my camera wouldn't cooperate. I did find a picture of me at my surprise fiftieth birthday party given by my brother Gerard and sister in law Denise and I'm wearing it.

How did I get it you ask? Here's the story...My mother was an only child whose mother died in childbirth. Back in the day fathers didn't raise daughters they were usually taken in by female relative and that's what happened in my mothers case. My birth grandmothers sister, Winifred took in my mother and raised her as her own along with her other children, an older son and two pre-teen age daughters. I found this great picture of my Nana who raised Mom with me as a baby in her apartment on Lexington Ave in NYC.

Nana and me

Mom had a good life and she came to have a great affection  for her sister Marion's husband Joe Pecci (not the actor!)  When I was born, Mom and my Dad chose him and my Dad's eldest sister Frances to be my Godparents. This is such a huge role for Catholic families, they guide us in our faith formation and are our role models. The role and connection of the godparent - godchild doesn't end in childhood either. I had very good relationships with my godparents and as they aged the caring they showed me as a child was gladly returned to them.

Uncle Joey my godfather and I dancing at Gerard &
Denise's Wedding

For my First Holy Communion Uncle Joey gave me a gold cross. I was seven at the time and I've worn this cross for the better part of forty five years.Oh, I take it off now and again, like when I go on vacation or to the beach or in the pool. I'd be crushed if I lost it, truly I would. I've had it for such a long time. I wish I had a picture of myself in my Communion dress but I can't seem to locate one and it's doubtful you'd see the cross since it's so small anyway. I imagine Uncle Joey smiling down from heaven knowing how I still cherish it with all my heart. He was such an adorable man, very Italian and very loving.

Aunt Fances and I having a visit.
Charlie & Cosmo.
My parents chose well, and although I was closer to my godmother Frances during her life time, my Uncle and I shared a warm and loving affection until the day he died.

By the way my godmother gave me a ring, but that's another story!

Do you have a treasured gift? What memories does your gift evoke?

Random Deals

September 26, 2011

where's jen today? i know; she's doing a guest post!

I was so excited to open my e-mail the other day and find an invitation to do a guest post; my first ever!

If you want to know where and what I'm writing about today I'm happy to tell. I'm writing about my experience being an empty nester.

Want to know what life is like for a Mom after the kids leave the nest? Come visit and say hi to Terri a stay at home mother of four and my lovely host at mom's point of view and find out.  Don't forget to leave a comment and show us some love.

My post will be featured all day today Monday, September 26, 2011. And if by chance you miss reading it today, you can read it by clicking here.

Just click on Terri's blog button or her blog's name (which is in blue) and visit!

September 24, 2011

do your job for crying out loud!

I have an intense dislike for people who give poor customer service. I have an even greater dislike when I start getting the feeling that I'm dealing with people who would rather put all their energies into harassing me the client then in doing their job. 

So now I need to vent!

When I was ill with my MRSA wound I required medical equipment in order to heal more quickly, my insurance authorized the use of this equipment with a participating provider for a period of three months at a cost of zero dollars to me-or so I thought. When my doctor determined the course of treatment was complete (after five weeks) I returned the device. 

That is when the first call came. The company who provided the equipment wanted to confirm my insurance ID # because the insurance denied the claim. Well I had an authorization in my hand so I asked the girl are you sure you're filing with the right insurance company, because I’ve had the same number for over thirty years?

I had a suspicion they weren’t doing it correctly since I live in Virginia, the company who provided the service was is in Texas and my insurance is from New York so I wanted to confirm. I even asked twice and was dismissed, they assured me they were the experts “they do this all day long they know how to file insurance claims”. 

Then a few weeks passed and a gentleman called saying that my insurance company wasn't recognizing my insurance ID # and the claim was denied. Could I confirm the number again, so I gave it to him. I asked again whether the claim was being sent to the right insurance company; again I was dismissed because they know what they’re doing! 

Then again it happened with another person calling......

Then again it happened with another person calling.....   

photo credit

The other day I received a voice mail from Ramona, the insurance collection specialist; she asked if I would please call her back. I did; every freekin day for three days and she NEVER returned my phone call. Needless to say now I'm really pissed.

But not as pissed as I was when the letter from her came on the fourth day, saying” they would encourage me to get involved in the processing of this claim”. Charges due $4,577.00 for the medical equipment; claims to date have been denied.

The denials were NOT from MY INSURANCE COMPANY! * insert screams and foul language of your choice here*

So I'm left pondering these things.

What if I was an elderly person or otherwise a vulnerable person, not familiar with my benefits? Is it possible that the letter I received could have been construed as a bill? I think it’s possible. I’m wondering how many people would have just sent the money in thinking it was due!

This company employs a staff of people to file insurance claims and secure payment. In today's economy there are tons of people who would love to have a job and would actually work- do the job they’re paid to do.  What burns my ass is that not one person including the insurance collection specialist called the insurance company listed on the authorization form; does that make sense to you?  

I called my insurance company and they didn't have a record of one single claim or call from them requesting payment or asking for assistance on how to properly file a claim. They are participating providers (duh!) and the authorization form has the name of the insurance company written on the letterhead. And the $4, 577.00, never gonna happen, they are contractually obligated to take a reduced amount.

I arranged for my insurance company to call Ramona, they left her a voice mail too, I’m not holding my breath if she'll call them back.

September 23, 2011

it's raining - it's pouring

The old man is snoring  taking a cat nap! 

Bill and Tarzan
I couldn't resist! I went in the den before and this is what I saw. It is such a cloudy - rainy and yucky day today. I think these guys have the right idea don't you?  It's just a shame there's no room on that couch for me :(

September 22, 2011

mama kat's - where I'm from

I've never done a writer's workshop before this is my first. It was also really fun so go on over to Mama Kat's and check out all the other writers they are fantastic 

I am from American made cars, always blue, from Dewar’s Scotch and warm beach sand.

I am from a white stucco, sun filled two story house with brick stairs and the food aromas always ever present.

I am from the sunflower plant, tall, strong, sun worshiping and top heavy.

I am from Santa on Christmas Eve and laughter, from Nana’s gifts in brown bags and Daddy and Popa.

I am from screamers and jokers and lovers no matter what.

From go out and play to don’t go in over your head.

I am from Catholic not public, and statues of Mary in the back yard.

I am from New York City and Ireland and some French, pots of soup on the stove and bread, beer and potato’s.

From the albums my brother Paul played on our Victorla in the living room, the box of forty fives and how Daddy used to sing along when he drank to much.

I am from tea sets displayed on my side board and family pictures around my house and stored in my closet and family silver that graces my table every holiday that carried wonderful memories of my childhood.

September 20, 2011

from my kitchen - salad recipe- bean, corn and avocado

Today is a beautiful day here in Virginia, it's still grilling weather....for now. The other day not so much then it was a soup day. When the weather gets crazy I spend more time than I should thinking about food. Today's obsession was this avocado I had in the basket on my cutting board in the kitchen. I had to plan an entire meal around the darn thing; really I did. I know I'm crazy! But I didn't want to make Mexican, so I had to get creative.

As promised,  I'm sharing the recipe and a picture for my blog readers.I'm going to try to do more blogging about food and cooking, it really is something that's a part of me, something I enjoy. Whether I'm organized enough is another story! As far as this recipe is concerned, I think it goes well with burgers, chicken, whatever your grilling really! And it's simple as anything, just some simple chopping, opening of a can or two. I hope you'll try it. We're having it tonight with these neat little barbecue meatball's that I make and some rice. Yum!

Bean-Corn and Avocado Salad

Bean Corn and Avocado Salad

1 (15 oz.) can cannellini, rinsed and drained ( any beans can be used)

3 ears corn, cut from the cob or 1 c. frozen corn

½ c. red onion chopped

1 /2 red  or orange  pepper, chopped

1 avocado, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced (optional)

2 cups chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned

zest from 1 lime or lemon

1 1/2 limes or lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon cilantro or parsley, chopped

½ c. olive oil

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

September 18, 2011

mrsa - antibiotic resistance and soap

image courtesy of 
Ever since my leg wound which developed back in April after a fall, read here  and my diagnosis of MRSA some time later I have a healthy respect for germs. Bacteria are not our friends although there are some good bacteria; staff is not one of them - believe me. I spent an entire four and a half month period fighting it and months keeping my wound clean and covered so that I wouldn't spread my germs to any of my friends, loved ones and my cats.

What I didn't know was that I needed to be concerned with infecting myself; due to colonization. Meaning the bacteria of my wound may have spread to my skin or nose resulting in me reinfecting myself whenever I have an open cut or scratch.

If you've been following my MRSA leg wound adventure it did come back read here a time or two in the original wound so my wound doctor speculated to me that I may be colonized and that I may have reinfected myself. I can be tested in a few months to find out once the medication has cleared my system. Just a quick swab of my nose that can be sent in for testing will give me the answer, the alternative is that the antibiotics didn't work, I find that just as likely a scenario. ( I was on oral and or IV antibiotics for about eleven weeks total since late April until the present day )

Now that my wound is healed my doctor has suggested as a precaution that I use an antibacterial soap while bathing. I usually don't use antibacterial soaps since they kill the good bacteria on the skin but for the time being I need to be on the safe side. The three active ingredients in this type of soap are triclosan and triclocarbon and chloroxylenol; the latter is the one used in most hospital soaps. He also suggested that I regularly change soaps so the germs my body may be harboring don't build a resistance to any one soap. I've also decided to use a tea tree soap which has natural properties that kill bacteria as well, and it adds another way to deal with my supposed bacteria difficulty.

The newest research says that unless you need to use antibacterial soap to kill germs specifically you should use regular soap. Overuse of antibacterial soaps causes bacteria to form resistance, regular soap really is more than sufficient for cleaning. And believe me bacteria like MRSA are resistant regardless of whether you have a personal history of over use of antibiotics; which I didn't. Plus in addition to soap, others over using antibiotics- doctor's over prescribing, consuming meat that has been shot up with antibiotics; all contribute to drug resistant bacteria problem. Something I never thought would touch my world much less eat a hole in my leg!

Soap is only one piece of the puzzle, but its something to think about!

What do you use in your house regular soap or antibacterial?. Now that you've heard my story do you feel OK using  regular soap or are you more concerned about killing germs? I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

September 17, 2011

the fall means more than changes in the weather

live sunflowers that i picked up
at the market
I was struggling with what to write about today while sitting here freezing my ass off and it suddenly dawned  on me that the state of the weather begged for a post.

The other day it was beautiful and sunny it was warm humid and the AC was pumping like you wouldn't believe in my house. It seemed as if summer was in full swing and I was bitching saying to my husband that it hardly seemed like September weather at all. I had just about reached my last nerve with the warm weather.

Then two days ago like a switch was flipped, the weather changed and now it's fall ; the AC is off the air outside is cool and mostly dry. The windows can be open  now during the days and the nights are clear and crisp. It is sooo great for sleeping and cuddling under the covers. I slept until 10:30 this morning and when I woke there next to me on his back mouth open cutting logs looking absolutely adorable was Matthew McConaughey (ha I wish!) no it was my husband (not him either) it was one of my cats (what's with that?) darn!

It won't be long before the leaves will fall and we'll fire up the wood-stove then the house gets warm and cozy. Just thinking about it my thoughts turn to cooking, not something that is as enjoyable in the warmer months; baking bread, making pots of soup, pot roasts and making pizza on my pizza stone. I'll share some of my recipes on the blog with y'all when I get to cooking them. I especially like my own pizza, potato soup and bread, and I just snagged a raisin bread recipe from another blog frugal in WV that I'm dying to try.

When I do I'll let you know how it turns out!

Does the change in the weather bring changes for you as well? What are you looking forward to doing this fall?

September 16, 2011

solving crimes from my couch

I'm linking up with my friend Kristen from a little something for me for her
Friday's Confession Booth                                
My confession is nothing heavy this week, just a little something about my TV watching habits.

Well, if you want to know where I am when there is a crime show on the tube you can bet I’ll be in front of our flat screen watching. I am addicted; I think that makes me a crime show couch potato maybe!

My husband dislikes them because he was a cop and he finds them ridiculous, but I love them. Bones, Criminal Minds, NCIS, The Mentalist,The Closer, Covert Affairs, White Collar and others. I even love Matock reruns! 

Who cares if they're realistic they keep me entertained and I love watching and trying to break down the plots; to figure out "who done it". I'm actually pretty good at solving the crimes from my very own sofa. That skill gleaned from all the mystery reading I did in my younger days!

Now your turn; what is it that keeps you glued to the TV?

September 14, 2011

the sadness creeps in

I find that it starts like this......I'll think about them a little more, ache a little deeper, start feeling a bit blue, the tears will flow a bit easier than usual. And it's still a two weeks away. I never really know when it's going to happen. It might be the holiday's or their birthday's or the anniversary of the accident- their death. I made it through this July and the fifth year anniversary of the death of my daughter Gretchen and son Eric pretty well. My brother and sister in law were here with their kids, they are such life savers and have been more wonderful then I can possibly say.

But now Eric's birthday is coming up ( or what would have been his  27th birthday ) and I'm feeling the sadness creep into me.

My son Matthew was sharing some of his music with me for my I-pod the other day when he came home for a visit so he cleared off my little thumb drive. On that drive were all my journals that I wrote during my darkest days after their death and I'll take a peek at some of the things I wrote back then.

 Things like this excerpt from back in late 2008.......

The pictures… as I look at them as I reflect on my past, it dawns on me that the kids dying somehow transformed it, ruined it somehow, it feels painful to think about it now. The past as I knew it is gone, changed forever because the future i wanted hoped for died when the kids did. This accident robbed me of my daughter,and my baby son. This is something that is going to take some time to get used to, if I ever do. I didn't realize I would feel this way and as I look at these pictures. I always believed the past was written in stone once experienced, that my history was unchangeable. I feel foolish or naive, I’m just not sure which I am. What the pictures actually depict, what occurred  most of it good and pleasant memories, but the sadness, the regret even the guilt I feel are new additions to my present about how I feel about my past.  I long for what was and I want what I dreamed  for my family for myself for my children not what I ended up with. 

Gretchen age 7
I actually remember taking these pictures at my parents house at the beach. We had our whole lives in front of us on that day the promise of a bright future. Who knew then that Eric wouldn't see his 23rd birthday or Gretchen her her 31st. 

My husband and Eric age 6 months

It took me a few years after the kids died to be able to even look at pictures, boy was it painful. Every photo was a lost dream and evoked deep and intense grief. Now it's easier, but around the accident anniversary or a holiday or their birthdays it becomes harder because the emotion bubbles up. I try not to let it take hold of me; maybe that's the reason I decided to write this post- share this with ya'll just let it out.

September 11, 2011

in the sand and water

I do not have a single memory that does not include the beach; always the beach. Two days ago my sister-in -law and brother called to tell me a huge professional surfing contest was being held on the beach where I grew up. And here I was hundreds of miles away wishing I was feeling the familiar breeze  and the warm sand of the beach an wishing I was there so I could go.

Boy was I bummed, I missed the surfing stars the bands playing all types of music the people from near and far getting together to enjoy the waves and each other. I missed chance to see the people I grew up with I missed the chance catch up to laugh and of course to hang out with my family.

 And I miss this beach.....

I just love this picture of my niece and my godson jumping in the surf; don't you? I actually was able to catch Alex while she was in the air, I always liked that about this picture.

I can't tell you how many life guards that sat on that very life guard stand that I had terrible crushes on when I was a  girl. Every summer they were just cuter and cuter, boys working lifeguard jobs way to wise to do anything but be nice and steal a few kisses with this girl; can anyone say.... *jail bait*.

When I was pregnant I used to come to the beach and dig a hole in the sand so that I could lay on my stomach, it was the only time I could I was soooo big. To my surprise when Matthew was born he didn't like the beach very much- he hated the sand! Hard to believe! Now he loves it just like me. Here we are walking together onto the first beach he ever went to, long before he was born.

And although Dr Evil wasn't staying with us that summer at our rented beach house, he did stop by even if in spirit to pose us for a picture! I know we're lame.

Wet and sun drenched sandy and hot four cousins digging in the sand, the love of the beach runs in the family I think.

My mom may be getting older but she's still up for jumping...well maybe not jumping but if we get a house at the beach, she's in.

And our favorite people to go to the beach with is my brother his wife and the kids, we swim, we listen to music, we play in the sand. We drink beer and wine and my brother and I cook in the kitchen while my husband mans the grill. And we play games do puzzles, bad words have been spewed and tears have been shed over games of Pictionary not to mention that puzzle piece nobody can place! 

Now this is the guy I really like to spend my time with at the beach! Even though he sunburns thru his clothes; my husband Bill!  It will be Barbados for two in November, I can't wait!

Every day on the beach is a magic moment. An opportunity for memories for pictures shared with my blog friends like Shell at things i can't say. Thank for thinking of this fabulous idea. I'm happy to link up with you and others today.            

         Capture those..Magic Moments.

September 10, 2011

almost my final chapter?

Hopefully I am heading to the final chapter of my leg wound story. I am so sick and tired of bandages and wound wash, doctors visits, endless doses of antibiotics, gauze and ace bandages and tape that pulls off my skin till it's raw. And lets not forget the MRSA that is the worst of the worst, heaven knows how I got it and every time I think it's gone it comes back again.

Two weeks ago when my wound was no bigger than this capital "O" they told me I had MRSA again- or maybe it never went away in the first place.....who knows! Two days after I started the antibiotics an abscess formed right next to my wound. My regular doctor then added an additional antibiotic to the one the wound doctor gave me; like one isn't enough right?

The abscess is just about absorbed back into my body it never fully formed. Monday I go to see the wound doctor, he know's nothing about the abscess or the addition of the second medication since I went to my regular doctor; wound guy only does Monday's. With the wound closed I'm hoping he'll discharge me, but this abscess business bothers me. I still have a boat load of antibiotics to finish, this time pills not an IV thank goodness. Not that it hurts because it doesn't I was on antibiotics days before it formed so it didn't really amount to much.

The whole MRSA thing has me concerned however; I don't really feel like I have a proper understanding of the condition.The testing says it is not in my blood it's only in my wound and the wound is gone so that should be it right? Why don't I feel confident that it is so?

September 7, 2011

I'm ready for fall

Before I take out my fall stuff; yes I do have a pumpkin or two even though we don't get a single trick or treat-er at the house I thought I'd show you some of my favorite summer pictures.  And I tried a new way of presenting my pictures; you like?

I just took a quick lesson on how to do collages from Megan over at her blog best of fates she is a self professed collage freak so she gave lessons on her blog. I'm just a beginner so here's my first effort. What can I say I had collage envy!

My brother and sister in law come visit me and Bill every summer on the anniversary of the kids accident and we usually go to the beach. However because of my leg wound the beach was out of the question; swimming was out of the question so I ended up being the camera man and observer to all.

My friend and neighbor Becky was going on vacation and asked me if I'd like to come by and check on her house and we were welcome to use her pool for the ten days she and her husband would be gone on vacation! Now how could I not take her up on that offer.


My sister in law Denise, my niece Alex and my son Matt with my nephew Gerard on his shoulders enjoying a day at the pool.                

1) My grandson Xavier. Why is it that all the boys get the great hair, isn't he the cutest?

2) My son Matthew, and his cousins Syd, Gerard and Alex

3)My grandsons, Xavier, Emmanuel and Adam and their cousins Sydney and Gerard

4)My brother Gerard and his Godson Matthew and his three kids.

1) top-Our family brunch at an Irish Pub with my Mom,son and daughter,son in law and grandchildren.

2) bottom- Italian night at my brother's house with the family and friends.

From my seat under the umbrella with my camera I watched my family enjoy the pool; it was a welcome relief from the hot summer days. Now onward I go to cooler weather, piles of leaves and fall allergies; I can't wait!
How about you?

Linking up with Tonya for the Whimsical Wednesday  Blog hop, come join if you want to!
Random Deals

September 2, 2011

blog and release!

This weeks Fridays Confession Booth is going to be a bit serious, so if you're looking for a laugh or want to read a light post about how I taste out of the pot while cooking and don't wash the spoon, well this isn't your lucky day. Come to think of it I do do that really, I confess.

Thanks again Kristen at a little something for me for letting me bare my all in a safe place. This little bit of something has been on my chest for five years actually. I rears it's ugly head every once in a while so I thought I'd take a page out of you're book Kristen and write about it; air it in a public forum and see if I can let it go then.
Blog and release!

Five years ago my daughter Gretchen 30 yrs. who I had the privilege of raising from the age of five when I married her father and my son Eric 22 yrs were killed by an inattentive tractor trailer truck driver.

Gretchen and Eric

The death of a child is a horrible nightmare but somehow those words don't seem to do justice to what that loss does to the world of a mother. But there were blessings too, my family, my husband who was a rock, my loving children, my mother, my brothers and their strong a loving wives, my Aunts and Uncles and my cousins who are so close that sometimes they feel like siblings; especially the girl cousins since I don't have sisters!

Their funeral was a blur the grief and pain of their loss was incredible and yet numbing all at the same time. Most every family member attended and were incredibly supportive even though they all live in different states some as far away as Hawaii and New York. Their presence was such a comfort, I needed them and they too were feeling the loss and shock of the suddenness of their deaths.

The ( I think three cousins) who were unable to come because of work or child care issues called, sent Mass cards and beautiful notes of love and condolence. And that support and love was endless and continues to this day some five years later.

BUT THERE WAS ONE- I have one cousin who never called, never wrote, never acknowledged the death of my children. My mother called her on the morning of the accident and told her about their deaths and  I never heard a word. NOTHING till this very day.

How do you ignore the death of your own flesh and blood? She is my mothers niece, her father my Uncle Joey was my Godfather, our mothers were sisters.

We had just seen each other the year before when our mother's other sister passed away and she hung out with my son, me and my husband at the funeral. And although she didn't know my children really well because of the generational differences, we were close as children.

As we moved into adulthood we kept in touch, seeing each other from time to time, family functions, weddings, funerals (never as frequently as my cousins on my fathers side of the family) however there was never a harsh word passed between us.

As you might imagine, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my children. Then every once in a while I think of my cousin and I wonder why. The reason remains a mystery and calling her after all this time to ask I'm just not sure I can or even want to.

I confess, I don't believe I could ever forgive her for ignoring the death of my children for forgetting to care; it hurt me to deeply. And I now know it's time for me to let this go.