Monday, March 30, 2009

Lady Willpower

I am about to do something I said I wouldn't do. I'm going to post a picture of the woman I believe to be my birth mother. I know I said I wouldn't do it, even though I was tempted. I guess I lied.

I'm having a really hard time right now, for a lot of reasons I won't impose on you right now. Believe me when I say you'll probably get to hear a lot more about my troubles as time goes on. Today was a particularly difficult day, and it got me to thinking that life's too short. I'm going to end up on my deathbed wishing I had done more of what I wanted and less of what everybody else wanted. So here I go.

What's the worst that could happen if I put this picture up? I don't think anybody she knows reads my blog. And even if they did, what are the chances they would recognize this old picture of her? And even if they did, how horrible would that be? I am not giving her name - not her name at the time this was taken, nor her name now. I'm simply going to put up a random picture, one of billions that will be posted to the internet today. I don't think the world will stop revolving just because I showed this one. Although a volcano may erupt in Alaska - sorry, Becca! - but I really doubt anybody can directly pin that on me.

I am going to post two pictures. One is my senior picture from high school, and one is her senior picture, which I got from her high school yearbook at the library. I may regret this, and pull the post down, but for the moment, here we are - me and my bio mother.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chili Sunday

For those of you who asked, here is the recipe for the white chili. It is a consistent favorite at our house. I should mention that I always make a double batch, and I play around with the amount of chicken and beans - which usually means less chicken and more beans - depending on what's in the cupboard and freezer. The spices are what make this meal so yummy; you could probably throw anything in there and it would taste good (except cabbage. or beets.)
Southwest White Chili

· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 1 1/2 pounds (about 5 breasts) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
· 1/2 cup chopped onion
· 4 garlic cloves, minced through a press or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
· 2 teaspoons ground cumin
· 1 teaspoon dried oregano
· 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
· 2-(4-ounce) cans chopped green chilies, undrained
· 2 cups chicken broth
· 2-(19-ounce) cans white kidney (canellini) beans, undrained
· 1-2 teaspoons dried cilantro
· Salt to taste
· Garnishes: white corn tortilla chips, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, sliced green onions

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add chicken pieces. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often, until no longer pink. Remove chicken from pan with a slotted spoon, cover and set aside to keep warm.

Add chopped onion to saucepan. Cook and stir for 3 minutes.

Add garlic; (for fresh garlic, stir only until its aroma is released to avoid burning it)

Add the cumin, coriander, oregano, cilantro and red pepper. Stir for 1 minute.

Stir in green chilies. Add chicken broth and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add undrained beans and chicken; reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish and enjoy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

More Friday Fragments

Back to my plan to serve up Friday Fragments – random thoughts I’ve had during the week that are too short (or too ridiculous) for their own post. I’m joining a great group of people over at Half Past Kissin’ Time who do this every Friday. I’m a random kind of gal these days, so this seems completely right to me.
One of the best parts about having the snow melt is that you can again push a shopping cart through a parking lot without wrenching your shoulders or losing your mind. Pushing a cart through 8 inches of fresh snow, or over rutted chunks of ice is an experience I can do without. Welcome, spring!
Don’t tell anybody, but sometimes I watch reruns of old family sitcoms on TV. There’s something about Full House or Growing Pains, or even (eek) Who’s the Boss? that makes me feel better. I think it brings me back to a time when life was easier. I mean, how complicated could life be when the kids are hiding a horse in the kitchen and the adults in the house don’t even notice? If only my life was simple like that.
I don’t use the texting/instant messenger lingo. No LOLing or C U L8R or any of that stuff, almost ever. My mom was a teacher, and I was a Journalism major. I just can’t use all those shortcuts and feel okay about them. It’s a sickness, and I can’t help myself. I’m not a perfect-grammar nazi or anything, but even on my blog, when I ‘cheat’ by starting a sentence with AND or BUT, or when I don’t use complete sentences, I have a little twinge of guilt. I totally admire those who can do the texting shortcut thing (and heck, I’m completely impressed with how FAST you can do it) but I just won’t be joining you any time soon.
Thanks to those who asked for my white chili recipe. I would be glad to share with you, and will post it over the weekend – I know I have it in my computer somewhere.
There were some lovely comments on my post yesterday about my mom, but one totally cracked me up. If you didn’t read the post, I talked about my mom’s obsession with playing cards (specifically, canasta) and her love of all things trivia. My friend Andy (Andrew Scott Turner, for those of you who have read his blog) said this:
Great tribute! Do you think she's in heaven shouting at St. Pete "Not yet, I'm just about to meld!" Or "Did you know, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings?"
I’m still giggling about this. My mom, who most definitely is in heaven doing exactly those things, is also giggling – I’m sure of it. Thanks, Andy. You always make me laugh. Those of you who miss Andy’s brand of intellect and humor will be happy to note he’s back in the blog world, and you can check out his new blog, Long Patience.
I hope you all have a nice weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mother of Mine

Today is my mother’s birthday. She loved birthdays, so I thought I’d devote this blog to her – she would have appreciated it. Mom was a schoolteacher and really liked anything that encouraged reading. She taught fifth grade, and claimed she couldn’t go any higher than fifth grade without the kids being taller than she was. As a teacher, she was somewhat strict, but made time for fun with the kids every day. I know I love books because of her example.

My mother loved games – all kinds of games, especially card games. She played Canasta like there was nothing else in life. I can still remember she and my father, along with family friends and us kids, playing Canasta around the dining room table in the hot, humid August air late into the evening and sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. My brother and I, kept up long after our bedtime, would beg to be allowed to go to sleep. “Not yet, I’m just about to meld!!!” she’d yell. She competed with every fiber of her being, and might be likely to do a shameless victory dance, but at the same time, cheered for anyone who won. Good times, those.

My mom also loved trivia. She loved it long before it was popular to love trivia. She used to have a Friday trivia contest with her class, and when Trivial Pursuit came out, she claimed they ‘stole the idea from me!’ I have to agree. I can remember her throwing out random facts at the oddest times. We’d be on our way to church, and she’d say, “did you know that elephants are pregnant for almost two years?” or we’d be barbecuing, and she’d say, “did you know that Robert E. Lee’s horse was named Traveler?” I thought it a delightful eccentricity, but my brother used to roll his eyes a lot. After her stroke, she would call me on the phone, sometimes dozens of times each day, to give me some critical ‘fact’ I needed to know. Sometimes I’d have to struggle to be pleasant, wanting to say, “you know, Mom, I have stuff to do!” but I’m so glad I didn’t ever say it. I’d give my right arm for one more call, telling me how many times per second a hummingbird beats its wings.

Even thinking about today’s date makes me smile. My mom, who was an only child, was born on March 26. Her mother’s birthday was March 27. (Some of you may remember that my mom’s parents lived with us from the time I was a baby.) My grandmother, as she got older and began ‘slipping’ a bit in her mind, got a little confused about the dates. She insisted that, since she was older than my mother, that HER birthday had to be BEFORE my mom's, so she claimed March 26 and said the 27th was mom’s day. We all thought this was hysterical, and cheerfully swapped our celebrations accordingly.

Being adopted by this remarkable woman (and her well-chosen, fun-loving spouse - love ya, Dad!) was undoubtedly one of the biggest blessings in my life. Anybody who wants to know how they handled adoption issues can read these previous posts: My Mother’s Eyes or The Chosen Baby.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you. Tell Gram I said happy birthday, too.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

But I Won't Do That

Yesterday I told you what some of my favorite foods are. I think I've already established what a lover of food I am. I do love to eat, and like a wide variety of things. I love all sections of the food pyramid, and very seldom do I ever refuse food. That being said, there are a few things I won't eat. When I say I won't eat them, I mean it. I won't do it, even to be polite (unless, perhaps, that you are the Queen of England or Pierce Brosnan. Then I might consider it.) Anyway, here they are, in no particular order:

These things scare me. Look at their beadly little eyes. And starched marshmallows? Bad. Very, very bad. Couldn't eat them if I wanted.

Moxie is a vile concoction that was invented in Maine. I want to be supportive and proud of my state, but this stuff is gross. If you've never had it, it's sort of like a cross between Dr. Pepper and cherry cough syrup. Doesn't it sound yummy?

Jello. I know, it's America's favorite dessert, but I can't do it. The texture creeps me out. My cousins used to squeeze it through their teeth, and even that memory makes me shudder.

Again, a texture thing, I think. They squeak against your teeth. And I'm not convinced that they aren't made out of styrofoam, which I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to eat.

Cabbage. I hate everything about it - how it tastes, but especially how it smells when it's cooking.

Along the same lines, I can't stand New England Boiled Dinner, which is boiled cabbage with the delightful addition of corned beef. I don't like corned beef either. What is corned, anyway? It doesn't sound like something you should be doing to food that you're going to eat.

I like most cheeses. Actually, I LOVE most cheeses. Cheese rules. Except this one. Blue Cheese is one thing I wish I liked, because the people who like it seem to really, really like it. But I can't. I think it tastes like feet. And what's the blue stuff? Isn't it mold? We're not supposed to eat mold, are we? Sorry, but I don't get it.

Cooked peaches. This is a case of taking something so very yummy - Fresh peaches - and making them inedible by cooking them until their texture is slimy and disgusting. Don't be cooking my peaches, and don't be putting them in pie or ice cream. That's just wrong.

Raw sushi. I want to be seen as a sophisticated woman. For the most part, I'm pretty good at faking it, too. But, if we go to a sushi bar or restaurant, I'll be the one eating the lame cooked sushi and grimacing every time you bite into a hunk of raw fish. I like my meat and fish cooked, although when it comes to steak, I only want it SLIGHTLY cooked. But that's another story.

Pickled beets. My parents and grandparents loved them. My grandmother used to make them and we had them at just about every meal from June through September. They give me the heebie-jeebies, along with pickled eggs, pickled pigs feet and pickled onions. In my opinion, the only things that should be pickled are, well, pickles.
There you have it - the foods I love to hate. I can't wait to get your reactions. Do you love some of these foods? What other foods give you the full-body heaves? Spill.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Favorite Things

I'm dieting (again) so, of course, I'm food-obsessed. I think about food way too much, but I can't help myself, so I thought I'd make you all suffer with me. I made a list of 10 of my favorite foods, and here they are, with pictures!

My favorite nut - not including my kids - is the pistachio. They're like crack to me. Once I start, I can't stop chomping their nutty goodness.

The KING of snack foods: The Ring Ding. Chocolate cake, creme filling, covered in dark chocolately yumminess. Even more delicious from the refrigerator. And hockey-puck shaped, to boot. What's not to love?

White chili. I make this, and it's one of my most requested bring-alongs (when a dessert is not required). It's made with chicken and cannelini beans, and is amazingly chili-like, even without the beef and tomato sauce. Sprinkle a little monterey jack cheese on top and voila!

What can I say? Dark chocolate. Creamy mint filling. Oh, how I love thee.

My new fave lunch choice. Garlic Chicken White Pizza Lean Pockets. Two minutes in the microwave, and lunch is ready!

Coffee. With cream. No sugar. I gave up caffeine many years ago, but really good decaf, with real cream or half and half (not milk!) makes me so, so happy. I found that, if you're going decaf, you have to splurge on the good stuff.

Seafood. All of it, especially shellfish. I was lucky enough to grow up on the coast of Maine, where seafood is still pretty cheap and plentiful. Melt me some butter, and all you'll hear after that is me, moaning with pleasure. Sometimes I even purr.

Freshly picked strawberries. Nothing like it. Can't wait for July to get here.

Coffee chip ice cream (or mocha chip). The important thing is that it's coffee ice cream with dark chocolate chips. To die for.

Hands down the best cereal ever. Sometimes, when I'm trying to avoid eating all that bad stuff I just listed, I eat a bowl of mini wheats for a snack.

Well, there you have it. The foods that I love. Tune in tomorrow for a list of foods I hate!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

I have been thinking a lot about my kids lately. A lot of it has to do with the fact that they are so grown up. It seems to have happened all of a sudden. Of course, Brandon is 21, and has been (officially) an adult for quite a while, but suddenly Alex has developed all kinds of grown-up traits. His social life is much more exciting than mine. His phone rings more than mine. When did this happen?

I think I'm also feeling a bit melancholy about the whole family thing right now. I'm trying to connect with my birth mother, and hoping that somewhere there might be siblings for me, too. I think having brothers or sisters is a wonderful gift. I think I've mentioned before that when my parents died, it was the most alone I've ever felt. I have a brother, also adopted, but we are not close at all. When your parents die, if you have a good relationship with your siblings, I think you can help each other through it. That wasn't my experience, unfortunately, and I have always wished that I had a sister.

When I had kids - more specifically, the second kid - I was determined that they would have a good, even great, relationship - even if it killed me. I know that parents have a lot of wishes for their children: that they will grow up to be kind, honest, loving people; that they will be good citizens; that they will put you in one of the nicer nursing homes someday. But more than any of that, I wanted to make sure they'd be there for each other forever, even after I was gone.
I think, from what I've seen so far, that things are working out pretty well. My boys love each other unconditionally. They don't always agree, but they know they can count on each other when the chips are down. They'll never be all alone in the world.

In my 'scan all the old pictures' project mania, I've found a bunch of pictures that make my heart all squishy.

This is what they look like now. Long haired freaks. I just love them to pieces.

When Alex came along, Brandon forgave me for having a boy. He had been hoping for a girl, and had planned to name her Carolina - no idea why. We didn't tell him we were planning Emily for a girl!

When Alex was first learning to 'talk' he would babble at Brandon more than anyone else.

I always reminded Brandon how much his baby brother needed him to show him the ropes, and he was so patient with him, even when he was messing with his toys.

I could have taken this picture a thousand times. This is what happened at every dog sled race and on every training day. "Pull me!" is all Brandon ever heard.

See why I tortured them with matching pj's on Christmas Eve? How cute is this?

This is how you keep a couple of kids busy when you're painting the house. Brandon was in on the secret, but Alex really thought he was helping.

The birth of the love of video games, captured on film for posterity. The funniest thing about this picture is that Alex, who is clearly having a blast, is holding a controller that isn't plugged in. He had no idea. This picture still makes Brandon laugh like crazy.

This is an ongoing activity - the "I can squeeze you till you screech or puke" maneuver. It happens all the time - today even. I don't care. They're hugging. I love it.

One of many first day of school pics by the lilac bushes. Alex was too little to go yet, but he wanted to wait for the bus with his brother.

Homemade costumes. Gotta love 'em. Alex's tiger costume was made for Brandon when he was little, and they both wore it for at least two years each. Brandon's wizard costume was decorated with spray-on glitter that ended up all over me, my car, my house, and the cat.

A rare sighting of both boys wearing suits and ties. Thank heaven I have this record, or I wouldn't believe it myself.

I love this one, with Alex clinging to Brandon for dear life. Don't worry, he'll take care of you!

That's what brothers are for: to hold your hand and walk beside you. It's about all anybody needs, isn't it?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Stop the World

Does anybody else remember the musical "Stop the World, I Want to Get Off"? It's old (like me) and it had that song "What Kind of Fool Am I?" in it. Anyway, the point is that I'm feeling a little bit like that. Ever since I've been home, it feels like I've been going full speed, trying to get everything done, and not quite making it.

It has been a busy week, and somehow I'm so exhausted that I can't sit down for a minute without falling asleep. Add in the little bit of 'after the good time is over' letdown, and it's a recipe for disaster.

I did seven loads of laundry in the last two days, and there are still mounds to do. How can people wear so much clothing? People don't ever mention what a laundry-maker it is to have dogsledders in your household. Having dogs is a messy enterprise, and as the snow starts to melt, we are left with mud season. Delightful, I tell you, just delightful. I especially enjoy washing caked mud off stuff - clothes, floors, shoes, the inside of the shower.

I'm also so far behind on reading blogs, I don't know how I can catch up. I find myself wondering how you are, and what you've been up to while I've been unable to check in with your blogs. I hope I didn't miss anything amazing - well, I always hope that amazing things happen to you, but you know what I mean.

I've decided that I only have two goals for the weekend: Finish the laundry and catch up on my reading. That sounds do-able, right? Next week I am going to write to my birth mother again, so I may start brainstorming ideas for that letter. If anyone has a suggestion, I'm all ears. Obviously, letter number one did not work, so this one has to be even better, more moving, more something. This one just HAS to make her want to call me. It just has to.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Please Come to Boston

I know, I know - I promised I would blog on Tuesday. I forgot about how exhausting it is chaperoning a field trip for teenagers. I drove a car full of students (BOY students, no less) from Alex's voice class to a dress rehearsal performance of two operas put on by the music and theater departments of the University of Southern Maine. In case you're into opera, the two performances were Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, both by Puccini. I don't listen to this kind of music for fun very often, but I don't mind going to a fully-staged opera once in a while. I think I learned to like it by watching Bugs Bunny cartoons when I was a kid (remember the Rabbit of Seville? Classic.)

It was about an hour's drive each way. plus two operas and a lunch stop. I was wiped out. I'm not sure which was more tiring - the uplifting themes of banishment, suicide, greedy relatives and corpse abuse or listening to teenage boys talk for two hours (dude, really?)

I came home with a horrendous headache and I was unable to keep my eyes open past suppertime. The good news is that I'm fully awake now, and can tell you all about Boston.

Since I had been at the dogsled race for Friday, and came home very late that night, I went down to Boston first thing on Saturday morning. We all met at my friends' house in North Reading and carpooled to the TD Banknorth Garden for the Bruins game. We had the highest possible seats (the only place the purchaser could get 12 seats together) and I was a little creeped out at first - that last section of stairs was pretty darn steep, and I admit to a little fear of heights. After a bit, though, I got used to it, and we could see everything going on perfectly.

Here's the view from my seat. I left my camera at the dogsled race, so I have only this picture from my cell phone.

We had an amazing time, and the Bruins won, so all was right with the world. GO BRUINS!

Last week, when I mentioned that I was going to Boston for the game, one of my blog readers, Lisa from The Life and Times of Lisa, mentioned that she was going to be there, also. She was good enough to tell me the section that she would be sitting in with her family, and told me to look for her kids, who would be wearing Bruins jerseys with Kessel and Bergeron on them. At that point, I had no idea where our seats were, as my friends had the actual tickets. When I got to the garden, I was amazed to find that we were sitting in the section directly next to the one she was in. I spent every spare moment searching the section for her, but no luck. I saw lots of Bruins jerseys, but not the right ones.

I was walking out, after the game, when my friend (who had heard me complain about not being able to find her) said, "Hey, those kids are wearing Kessel and Bergeron." I ran down the stairs (fear of heights be damned) just as they were disappearing around the corner, and I shouted "LISA!" thinking, 'if this isn't her, this woman is going to call security on me' or, worse, 'this is her and she'll think I'm a total nut job!'

It WAS her, and she didn't think I was a nut job - well, at least she didn't SAY so. She turned out to be just as nice as she could be, with a lovely - and patient - family.

Lisa is from Vermont, and has a great attitude about life, which is why I like her blog. The first think I noticed on her blog was a quote that said, in part, 'Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Play with abandon.' I loved it, and I grew to love her positive way of looking at things and her daily gratitude journal. Go on over and check her out - and next time we're headed to watch the Bruins kick some ass, you should come along!

Lisa's son was nice enough to take our picture - again with my cell phone. I have my eyes closed, and this is definitely not my best angle (don't my boobs look HUGE? Well, they are big - not quite as big as they look in this pic...) but I wanted you to see how adorable she is. We managed to chat all the way out of the building, and I was absolutely thrilled. What a small blog world it is!

My friends and I spent the rest of the day walking around Boston. Not the best thing for my broken foot (damn you, cobblestone streets!) but I didn't care. It was above 50 degrees, sunny, and I was with some of the funnest people on the planet. We ate cannoli's from the North End Bakery and window-shopped and people-watched and laughed ourselves silly. Some of us stayed in North Reading overnight (pizza and movies) and then our hostess made these spectacular Belgian waffles with every conceivable topping for breakfast.

It was a wonderful time, and I managed to forget all about the things that trouble me for a while. I think a little respite from my stresses was exactly what I needed, and I think I need to schedule more of these little breaks into my life. I can't afford a big fancy vacation, but that isn't what I need. What I need is to do more things with people that make me feel happy. If I was a resolution-making kind of person, I think that would be mine.

Note to self: Spend more time with people who make you laugh.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Back in Black

I'm back! I missed everybody. I got back late yesterday, and haven't had a minute to myself since then. I had a job interview today, and I've got a deadline for some consulting work I've been doing, so I haven't had time to blog for real (and won't until tomorrow night), but I promise that I will do it sometime tomorrow.

I had a great time in Boston, and had an amazing chance encounter with a fellow blogger that I can't wait to tell you about.

I see that you were all able to go forward with your own blogs while I was away. I was hoping you'd all take a break, so that I wouldn't be so far behind in what's going on in your worlds! Maybe we should coordinate our vacations?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Eight Days A Week

This had been that kind of week. Busy, frantic, full of things you have to do, rather than things you want to do. I will be away from my blog for a few days, and (gasp!) won't even be able to READ your blogs. I may just have withdrawal symptoms, so if anyone has a prescription for Valium, please feel free to send me a couple.

Before I tell you where I'm going, I first want to tell you how wonderful your comments have been. After I got that miserable email, I really did feel horrible. I know I shouldn't let that one anonymous person get to me, but that proved impossible. Even though it hurt, your incredibly supportive comments helped more than you could possible know. I loved each and every one of them. They were funny and smart, just like they always are, and each time I read a new one, the bad feeling got pushed a little bit farther away. If you haven't read them, you should go back and check them out. Really amazing.

I mentioned to a couple of people this week that I should just quit blogging about my own issues and just post a topic and let you all discuss it. Your comments are so often funnier and more clever than anything I ever say. Maybe my talent lies is finding things that inspire you!

We are packing up and leaving for a big race. The race is one of the rare three-day races, and thus we must travel Thursday. I am driving about 3 and a half hours tomorrow afternoon, and then will be at the race on Friday. Then, I'm abandoning the kids to race the rest of the weekend while I drive 6 hours to Boston for a Saturday Boston Bruins game. I am a huge hockey fan, and this is a dream opportunity to see them live, FOR FREE! I was given the ticket and will be going there with a big group of people that I really enjoy spending time with. I will be home sometime on Sunday, and that will be the first time I'll be able to check on my blog buddies.

I'm used to be connected to the internet at almost all times, so this is going to be a hard four days, but I will be having fun, so I should be okay. I'm thinking about trying to make contact with my birth mother again, so next week I'll be looking for your advice (again - I know, I take advantage of you!)

I hope you all have a nice weekend with lots of time to do those things that make you happy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Mean Old World

Blindsided. Totally blindsided. That's how I felt.

I had managed to (sort of) forget all about the increasingly frustrating wait for some response from my birth mother. I sent off the letter, and planned to give her some space. Of course, I was starting to think it was time to send her another note, but still, I was learning patience.

I had even gotten to the point that I didn't think about it every minute. This is a busy time of year, and I'm job hunting, too, so I have lots to keep me busy. It isn't like I think about being adopted, and all the feelings that go along with it, all the time. There are many moments - most moments - when I'm just doing what I have to do, what we all have to do to be in the world.

Then, out of the blue, TWICE IN ONE DAY, something jumped up and punched me right in the gut. One was small and not anyone's fault. The other one - not so much.

I was watching a movie. It was just a movie - a Hallmark Channel movie - and it wasn't really about anything that should have affected me. I had even checked out the plot on IMDB and made sure there were no dying children or tortured animals. Yes, I actually do this - checking out movies ahead of time - and I won't apologize for it. I have been burned by movies that have made me feel so badly for DAYS afterward, and I can't deal with it. My real life is challenging enough;I'm looking for happy endings, people, so sue me.

Anyway, this movie had a freakish sub-plot that involved a woman who had given up a child for adoption, and was oddly reunited with her as an adult. For some reason, the whole thing just got to me. I was crying hysterically, and I don't do that (especially since I pre-check all movies for stuff that might cause sobbing!) It was awful.

So, a couple of hours later, I was just starting to feel a bit normal again, and went to my kitchen computer to check my email. There was an email from someone whose address I didn't recognize, which is not that unusual, since my email address is listed here on my blog. I clicked it open, and the hatefulness that spilled forth was almost indescribable.

I'm not going to give you all the gory details, but I will tell you it was from someone who thinks I'm doing a terrible thing by looking for my birth mother, and especially by attempting to make contact with her. This person feels that I have no right to any information about my origins and essentially said that I was an ungrateful degenerate. According to this email, I was lucky to be adopted in the first place, and, by seeking out my birth family, I was disrespecting the parents who raised me. It went on to say that by contacting my biological mother, that I would be trying to ruin her life, as I probably had ruined my adoptive parents' lives by being so ungrateful.

Wow. It's been a long time since anyone has said anything so hateful to me. It was written with such venom, that, even though I don't agree with anything that was said, it still stung. Even though I have no respect for someone who would send that kind of thing anonymously, the fact that someone - anyone - thinks this way does hurt. I know, by writing a blog, that I am putting myself out there for people to judge if they want. I've been so overwhelmed by the support you've shown that I almost forgot that what I'm doing is still a bit controversial. Today I was reminded.

I still think I have a right to know about where I came from. I don't think I have demonstrated anything but love and respect for my parents - my real parents, the ones who raised me - and I think, if they were alive today they would support me in this quest. Rather than being ungrateful, I am the opposite. I am filled with thankfulness both for the difficult decision my birth mother made to give me up, and for the loving arms of my parents which opened wide to accept me into their family. It's hard to explain, but there has been a feeling inside me for a long time, a yearning to know that I couldn't ignore. There's also a need to know medical information for myself and for my own children.

I have no way of knowing who the mystery emailer is, but if their goal was to make me stop searching, they have failed in their mission. Although hurtful, it doesn't change what I believe.

It does make me slightly less anxious to open emails from people I don't know.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Girl

So many of you commented about my dog Bliss yesterday, I thought you might like to see her. Normally, her ears are up, like a shepherd's, but when she's 'talking to you' or wants to be petted, this is what she does. One of the other reasons I love her is that she's the gentlest dog I've ever known. She seems to have an innate ability to sense how to act around people. If you're a dog person, she'll be very playful with you, and will even jump up on you if invited. If you're not comfortable around dogs, or you're a child, she'll stop moving around, and stand very quietly for you to pet her. I always take Bliss with me to any demonstration we do, especially at schools. She tags along with me pretty much anywhere I go. She's my girl.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Fragments

This is my first official Friday Fragments post. Basically, it's a conglomeration of thoughts, stuff that by itself might be too short for a whole post of its own. Random stuff, basically. I know, that's what a lot of my posts are, but this time it's on PURPOSE. See the distinction?

I got the idea from Mrs. 4444 over at Half Past Kissing Time, who has a fabulously popular blog. I might just do it every Friday. We'll see how long my attention span turns out to be...

I take two medicines daily - for high blood pressure - and have for many years. They seem to work just fine, and they are the tiniest pills you could imagine, and cheap, thank heaven. I get 90 days supply at a time, in the smallest prescription bottle there is, and they don't even take up one-quarter of the bottle. Yesterday, I went to get my refill, and the package they gave me had something much larger, and rectangular-shaped, in it. When I got home, I found that they had given me 3 one-month blister-packages. The kind where each pill can be popped out through the foil. And the days are marked on them. So I push through Monday's pill, and can tell I already took it; and then on Tuesday, I push through Tuesday's pill. Fine, but why the change? Is it my age? Did the phamacist see my refill request and say to himself, "wow, she's old and she probably can't remember whether she took her pill every day. I better give her the old people pack"????????????????

All this talk about personal freedom has got me to thinking. I'm all for freedom. I cherish it, in fact, and thanks to those who have defended my liberty with their lives. Personal freedom seems to refer to something else - the freedom to be yourself, to be who you really are. This sounds good, too, until someone uses it as an excuse to hurt someone, to show utter disregard for others, to break the laws of decency. I guess what I mean is, that it's wonderful to be who you are. Unless who you are is a jerk. Then it's not so good.

One of the keys on my laptop squeaks when I press it. It only just started doing this a couple of days ago, and already I'm crazed from it. I've actually tried to think about skipping that letter - just not using any words that require it. Unfortunately, it's impossible - it's the letter T. In the previous two sentences, I used the T somewhere around 20 or more times. ARGGGH. Hey, I can type argggh without using the T.

Does anyone know why pineapple juice comes in cans instead of glass or plastic? One of my sons loves pineapple juice and will drink it in massive quantities. But it comes in non-resealable containers. This bugs the crap out of me. I have to open it with one of those old fashioned triangle can openers, and then empty the contents into a separate plastic container. Every other juice on the planet comes in plastic bottles with screw-top lids. What's with you, pineapple?

I have one dog who lives in the house a lot of the time. Her name is Bliss and she's a shepherd/husky mix. She is a bit too old to race on our pro teams, but she used to be an awesome leader, and still is our number one puppy trainer. Sometimes we lend her to people who want a really safe dog for their child's first race. Bliss is housebroken, obedience trained, doesn't eat the cats, and I love her to pieces. She keeps me company a lot these days. She understands everything I say. No, really, she does. Anyway, one of the things I love about her is that, every time I let her out to go potty, she runs down to the dog yard to play with her offspring. Her puppies are 10 months old now, and just about full grown. Most sled dogs are no longer interested in their puppies after weaning, but not Bliss. She loves them. Forever. We sold a dog (one of her puppies from a litter 5 years ago) to another racing team, and every time Bliss sees this dog at a race, she has to go love on her. I feel the exact same way about my kids.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Just Another Picture to Burn

Still busy today (working on a fun post for tomorrow) so I'm offering you another picture of me to mock. This was taken about 20 years ago at Pemaquid Light. It's a beautiful spot, not far from where I grew up, on the rocky coast of Maine. There's a lighthouse and amazing rock formations that you can climb on. I used to take a blanket, a book and a picnic lunch and spend the day. You could find these nooks, where a perfect smooth sitting spot had been carved out by millions of years of waves crashing, and just soak up the sun and the sound of surf and think, or read, or daydream. I loved it, and I took the kids there a lot when they were younger.

This is my firstborn. I remember how much fun it was to watch him discover all the things you could find there: driftwood, periwinkles, sand, smooth beach glass, hermit crabs and the whole ocean with its waves and lobster boats and catamarans. It was like seeing it all for the first time through his eyes. There's something really special about the ocean.

And, yes, that was a perm. A big one. I know, I know, but in my defense, it gets very humid on the coast. And it was the 80's.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Take a Picture

I have a lot to do today, and not much time to blog, so I thought you might enjoy seeing what's happening in the great white North. Here are a few pictures I took in the last few days.

If you've ever wondered what it's like to take care of 33 sled dogs in the middle of a blizzard - this is it.

Alex, who was home for a snow day from school on Monday, didn't get to laze around in his pj's all day like the other kids. He had to feed and water the dogs - carrying 5 gallon buckets of 'slop' through deep snow. Doesn't that sound like fun?

This might be when he realized that he still had to shovel out all the paths, gates, doghouses and fences. Or that could be his 'quit taking my picture, Mom' face. Luckily, he's wearing that fleece face shield, and I can't see it.

Who knew that if you take an old soccer sock, tie a couple of knots in it, and give it to the wieners, they can have fun for hours? These are Hallie's dogs, Fenway (left) and Chauncey.

Hallie was very brave to put her hand in there! Look! It's flying wieners! Oh my gosh, was it fun to watch them play tug of war. Wieners are so cool. Even if you can't tell the difference between when they're standing and when they're sitting. Love you, my sweet Chauncey-man.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

You've Got a Friend

The alternate title of this blog was "I WIN!!! I WIN!!! I WIN!!!" but I decided that wasn't really dignified, so I changed it. I was lucky to receive this lovely friend award from Lori, whose blog is saved in my favorites as Owed to Joy, but the current blog title is Owed to Something More Than My Constant Whining. I'm delighted, I'm honored, I am not worthy.

I love what this blog stands for: "These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these kind writers."

Isn't that wonderful? I appreciate it especially because I love reading Lori's blog - she is funny and real. Along with me, the award also went to some of my favorite bloggers - heck, some of my favorite PEOPLE: Hallie from Wonderful World of Wieners, Kim-D from Lifeafter and Kimmy from Tales of a Blender Kimmy. What exquisite company I find myself in today!

I have been offered a couple of other awards previously, but I didn't really do anything with them. I was still feeling so...NEW, I guess? People have been blogging forever, and seem to have a really good grasp on how it all works. I'm still learning, and I know I have a long way to go. Yet, when I read what this award was about, I had to accept it. Finding friends through a blog is something I was very skeptical about initially, but I was totally wrong, and happy to admit it.

I've connected with people as demographically and geographically diverse as you could possible imagine through the blogosphere. People in other countries, other climates. other cultures. Only a very few very special people in my real flesh-and-blood life read my blog. I'm not hiding it, but I don't advertise it, either. This is a place where I am sometimes very vulnerable, and I'm not in a hurry for everyone to know all my secrets. The beauty of the friends I've made through the blog is that whole 'unconditional acceptance' thing. It's very comforting.

I love how, in the Blogosphere, somebody else always agrees with you - or at least understands why you feel that way. You might think you are the last pathetic human being on the planet who eats red meat, or watches the Bachelor, or is terrified of rodents, or wants to throttle their loving children. But you're not. You're not alone out here. I think that's why blogs and Facebook and other such places are so popular. Nobody really wants to be alone in this increasingly isolated world we live in. Here is where we can share our hopes and fears and embarassing moments.

I've seen people rally around someone in need, do amazingly thoughtful things for one another and put a powerful prayer chain into motion when necessary. It's nice here.I like it.

I'm supposed to award this to eight other bloggers, but how can I? I love you all, for different reasons! I'm going to try to figure out how to put one of those 'my favorite blogs' things up on my sidebar. When I do, check any of them out and you won't be disappointed. Or just read my commenters. They are often much smarter and funnier than I am - just imagine how great their blogs are!

Thanks, Lori. You made my day.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Good Morning, Starshine

Well, the grand State of Maine woke to more snow this morning. School is cancelled. Again. I can't remember the last time Alex had to go to school for a whole week in a row. I wish it meant that I got some extra sleep, but it doesn't, as I am the one who gets up to check on school cancellations at 5:00, so that I can cancel the alarm and let him sleep in. He's tired from racing this weekend, so these Monday storms are perfectly okay with him. The forecast is for around 12 inches. Is it sad that my first thought was 'at least it's not two feet'?

I played around with my blog yesterday. A really sweet blog friend, Abby Reed, made this new header for me (quite a while ago) and I finally figured out how to put it up on my blog. Abby is a multi-talented gal, a hard worker, a huge animal lover and has a clever blog name. Thanks, Abby!

I have a house full of guests again, and it looks like they're snowed in for the day and night. One of the challenges of dog sled season is all the extra overnight visitors. I know it's just part of the deal, but still, it can be difficult sharing space in my house with 5 or 6 or 10 extra people every week or so. The worst part is that I don't feel like I can finish a thought in a houseful of people all talking at once. I've come to enjoy my blogging time, because it's my 'thinking time' and I miss it. I have big, important thoughts to think and write, after all...Okay, maybe I don't, but that's really not the point.

I'm also making plans for a giveaway. If I ever make it to 100 posts, I will have a real contest, but in the meantime, I'm having a SUPER SECRET GIVEAWAY. Unfortunately for you, I'm not telling you how to enter. This giveaway is strictly for my own amusement, and so I made up the rules and decided to keep them a secret. I have identified a certain comment that I might hear from one of my fabulously smart commenters, and the first person who makes this particular observation, WINS.

See how fun this will be? For ME, I mean? You can't do anything to enter, except go on commenting, just like always. If anybody ever spills the super-secret phrase/sentence/observation, they'll be a winner. It's like a game that only I will know we're playing! Well, I'll be the only one who knows the rules. Genius! And there's even a prize. Which is also a secret.

You may think I've lost my mind - and you'd be correct - but isn't one of the purposes of blogging to amuse oneself? And, in case you're wondering, pointing out that I am certifiably nuts is NOT the secret observation. Sorry.