The Rose Parade on the 2nd? No, It just doesn’t feel right.

English: Image of a float in the 1922 Tourname...
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Jay frequently refers to us as a couple of fireballs! Yep! That’s us.  Our big New Year’s Eve revelry included a late afternoon matinée.  War Horse is a quality movie and I highly recommend it. It wasn’t a particularly festive movie, however.  Jay also frequently compliments that I’m a cheap date. That’s also true.  We returned home from our afternoon movie to an evening of Pad Thai and Netflix.  It works for me!

And as I post, most of the world, including New York City and Chicago, has already rung in the New Year. Denver is about to cross-over and California still has more than an hour of 2011 left to count down. But here’s the thing.  It doesn’t FEEL like New Year’s Eve.  You see, we live a stones throw from the Rose Parade route, but the typical buzz of activity we always anticipate is noticeably subdued to downright non-existent. For the 18th time in Pasadena history the Rose Parade is pushed to Monday. More than 100 years ago, when horses pulled the floats, it was feared that churchgoers would be disturbed by tethered horses and the “Never on Sunday” rule was put permanently into place.

Despite the change in schedules, we still kept a few traditions of our own. On Friday we took Sophia and Karina to see some local float decorating, but we failed to factor in the delay and the project was barely underway.  Then today we drove down the parade route and with the exception of scaffolding and bleachers the streets were oddly absent the tents, portable grills and street campers holding spots for the parade.  Parade watchers aren’t even allowed to being gathering until sometime on the 1st.

Nope! It just doesn’t feel right.

No flowers yet! But lots of grass.

Volunteers were slowly gathering on Friday to apply flowers, seeds and grass to the Sierra Madre Float.  The progress was barely underway making it a rather abstract visual experience for the girls.  A picture would have to do!

It is hard to believe that by Monday morning’s parade the float will have 10,000 Chrysanthemums, 10,000 Carnations, 10,000 Roses as well as Iris, Gerbera Daisies, Germinis, Liatris, and Bells of Ireland. The Sierra Madre Rose Float Association dubbed the float a rolling flower box!

And then today’s view of the parade route was significantly lackluster.

Just an ordinary Pasadena day! I missed the waving out-of-town campers.  No, it couldn’t be New Year’s Eve!

Holliston Ave Methodist Church

Sunday worshippers won’t have horses to contend with, but I wonder how they like the portable “facilities.”

Everything is ready and in place.  Now sometime tomorrow, the 1st, people will begin to congregate for January 2nd revelry.  It just doesn’t feel right!

But warmest wishes for a Happy New Year…even if I don’t celebrate much before Monday! Debra

Head colds and hamsters–A year’s end odd pairing.

I’m getting over my annual Christmas cold.  I could have predicted its arrival. At least this year it was of minor magnitude considering I ignored all my own rules.  I broke connection with the habits and routines that typically strengthen my well-being reserves, forfeiting rest and better eating habits in favor of party revelry, later nights and the elaborate ministrations connected to our Santa drive-by.  I’ve never done well with spikes of hyperactivity.  For every action there is the corresponding reaction…a physical plummet and the promise of an irritating head cold.

Which then ushered in further reaction. When activity stops my mind can be harder to tame. Sometimes called the monkey mind, my favorite visual is of a little hamster on the wheel that just turns and turns and turns…stuck and going nowhere. The hamster has been cycling because in this happy season I have also been very mindful of an ever-lengthening list of friends caught in the current swimming against some very significant health issues–the big scary kind.

Breathelighter’s first post called attention to the Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at City of Hope.  The Center is an excellent facility dedicated to patient support, but also providing an impressive array of services directly aiding frequently overlooked caregivers. This year I have been close to several of my friends adjusting to whole new lives almost unaware of their own physical needs while lovingly caring for the medical requirements of ill spouses, children or parents. I haven’t heard much complaining, but I’ve observed the sobering toll.

I’m not a direct caregiver, unless I’m talking about the lovely occasions when I’m caring for my beautiful granddaughters. But somewhere along the way I’ve looked for how to describe my support role–support in listening and metaphorically holding the hand of a friend who is really frightened, or being the second-in-command cheerleader to the fairly desperate actual caregiver—parent, spouse or child of someone in declining health.

You won’t find it in the dictionary, but I like the word care-tender. Some of us are simply friends along the way who offer care as we can.  The role of friend doesn’t come with an absolute list of duties, but when care is offered, there is a human connection that can sometimes usher in that odd sense of malaise when things aren’t going well.

And that’s where the little hamster comes in.  I’ve just heard some bad news and sadly added another name to my prayer list. Hard news to hear and it only seems natural I’d be particularly mindful.

I know my experiences are far from singular.  I am certain there are many care-tenders among my reading friends.  And I think it’s a good New Year’s resolve to carefully consider what are you are going to do to take care of yourself this coming year? It’s an important personal inventory and assessment.  We have a lot more to offer those we love when we take good care of ourselves.

That’s what I plan to encourage in the coming year.  As I “preach to myself” I’ll be sharing with you.  And I learn from what you share in return, so I’m ready to turn the calendar page and proceed.  I hope you’ll do it with me.

The best of New Year’s wishes, Debra

The Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resources Center at City of Hope.

Gifts fur them, too– (I know, go ahead and groan here!)

Is it here yet?

My dear furry family members are really wondering why their world has been so different lately. First the storms–wind and rain! Then, another Santa Ana windstorm came through Altadena! Now, brrrrr! Very cold mornings and nights. And to top it all off they had to wonder last week why Mom was going out so often. Yes my dogs do wonder–and out-loud!  It is so hard to explain to them why we church concert singers had to practice more and more to be ready  for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!  Then, friends wanted Mom to go on a ride to see the holiday lights up and about and all over town—it’s awfully hard to believe, I know, but some friends do not want to take “the girls” with us on these outings, so I had to bribe a little with another chew-bone and ask them to be good here at home.

“Mae-be please be nice to Ruffles! And Ruffles? Please only chew your treats!  I will be home soon!”  The whines and low woofs sound like, “Oh sure! You said that the last time! No, I didn’t beat-up Ruffles! I just made sure she wouldn’t come out of her area!” “What -meeeee?”  The odd placements of their sleeping blankets and rugs tell me a different story! And if Ruffles is just a little too happy to see me or if Mae-be drinks water like she has never had such a delight it tells me things did not go as smoothly as I would prefer.

Oh, well. Soon we are all caught up with drinks of water, kisses and licks, and they do love to sniff me over and over! Ruffles likes my cheery Christmas Bell necklace and has figured out how to push it for a ring-aling! She WAS hoping to be in the Christmas Story as a lamb at the stable.

Ruffles as a Christmas lamb

And you know I had special Christmas gifts for each of them! They both received a new collar, although they would tell you those are more for me–ha! And Santa also brought each of them a new toy and some extra goodies–their individual favorites. We also gave some special new toys to their friends Maddie and Katie.

But the Girls and I still have some simple gifts to share with you, too, just perfect for the New Year!  May you take these gifts and pass them on:

To your enemy—forgiveness (or ask to be ready to forgive)

To a stranger–your smile

To your child (of any age)–a good example and sense of humor

To your friends–your compassionate heart and listening ears

To your parents (even those no longer living)–your good conduct and honest memories

To other living creatures–charity and basic needs (food, water, safety)

And to yourself—respect and kindness while on your journey

The Girls and I also ask that you look at the value of life and laughter, and we thank you for your encouragement as we share with you! I also want to end this year with the opportunity to thank the firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, Earth Angels and my A.C.C. Church family who came to my literal rescue two years ago Christmas Eve when my car was crashed into so severely that I was carried out on a body board and in splints and braces.

If you have time and know of someone in a hospital or working in a hospital or fire station, please consider visiting.  And while you’re at it, say a little prayer for the staff, workers, and patients. That year for me was a very different Christmas and one I hope I never re-visit as a patient. Truly I am so grateful to all of them and the people who have been with me since then on my journey of recovery! And of course, I am always grateful to my furry family!

And to you, blessings for a happy and healthy New Year, Beth