4

Synchronicity….then and now.

I procrastinated about writing this week.   I had a birthday…I had liquid nitrogen sprayed on my nose…I took a lot of pictures of Harley…I read a lot…I whined about the heat..I complained about the ant infestation.  I had a friend call me with really bad news.  I heard a couple of other sad stories.  Life is challenging, no doubt.  None of which seemed a scintillating, or uplifting, topic for a blog post.  I knew what I wanted to write about.  It all started with a picture of this amazing chocolate cake.  My friend, Carolyn, is an outstanding cook and baker.  She posts pictures of the incredible food she makes.  She is in New York so with the time difference her posts seem to appear just before I’m thinking about making dinner.  I want to live next door to Carolyn and have dinner with her every night.   On my birthday she made the cake you see here and dedicated it to me.  While I whined a bit about not actually being able to eat the cake, it brought back an indelible childhood memory.

My father’s mother was a great baker and every year on my birthday she would make a most delicious chocolate cake.  I can’t find the picture I have of me blowing out the candles on my sixth birthday but I do remember my seventh birthday.  We were spending the summer in Rocky Point ~ my brother was a baby.  I do not remember the circumstances surrounding said birthday celebration but I do remember the party.  We lived in Hollis at the time, so a summer birthday party far out on Long Island required a trek for all concerned.  I remember my Grandmother attending said event and I also remember saying, “Look Grandma, I have a birthday cake with my name on it.”  It was not chocolate…she did not bring it.  It came from…a bakery.  Unintentionally, I set off a family catastrophe.   Another recurring theme I’ve experienced in life…but, I digress.  We will stick with the “cake crisis.”   There was never another chocolate cake…for anyone.  Ever.  Honestly, I never really noticed but then I’m not a sweet person…literally.  Years later my cousin Patty shared the tale. Image“Oh yeah…after that birthday Grandma stopped baking chocolate cakes because ‘Janet wanted a cake with her name on it.'”   From this picture with both my grandmother’s on my brother’s first birthday ~ non-chocolate cake included ~ I seem to think the cake from the bakery was more my mother’s idea than mine.  As you can see, Grandma Mafera is about as far as she can get from the offending cake without being out of the picture entirely.Image My mother was an only child.  I was an only child until I was six.  I remember being happy to have a baby brother.  We lived down the street from the Kiernan’s.  They ended up with twelve children and most of the time, my friend Kathleen got to push a real baby in a stroller rather than a doll.  The day Jody was born I went racing down the street to share the news.  I ran up the stairs to the “big girls” room.  Ruthie was sound asleep…I was yelling “I have a brother…I have a brother.” She groggily opened her eyes and said, “big deal,” and rolled over.  The best thing about eating lunch at the Kiernan’s was grilled cheese and a bowl of cream of celery soup.  My Mom made MUCH better grilled cheese because she made Toast-ites.  It was this round apparatus that grills the sandwich on top of the burner.  She got it as a wedding present in the 1940’s and over the years I’d tried to find one.   A Panini grill, sadly, does not a Toast-ite make.   On a walk this week, after making a less than satisfying pan sandwich, I whined to Jay ~OMG that is three whines ~ about how much better Toast-ites were. The very next day my childhood next door neighbor, Kathleen Fitzgibbons, sent me this advertisement for a 1940’s Toast-ite maker, saying how well she remembered the great sandwiches.  Needless to say, I ordered one and it is on the way as I type.  I will double up on my Liptor and enjoy! ImageI took notice of two “now” events that had such definite “then”meaning for me this week.  Barry Manilow and Harley, the golden retriever, all helped to make this an excellent birthday, as did all the birthday wishes I received both real and virtual.  I felt like Sally Field accepting her Oscar.  But I still couldn’t figure out how it all fit together.  Were these all just coincidences?

Yesterday Jay and I went back to the Corner Bakery for lunch.  We hadn’t been back since meeting Corporal Richard Green right before Memorial Day.  I wrote about our meeting, Jay and I had spoken of him several times, we sat at the same table, ate our lunch and went on with our day.

Two weeks later I wrote about Barry Manilow, and began writing and thinking about serendipity, both past and present.  Serendipity ~ a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”; a fortunate mistake.

This morning Jay and I went out for breakfast and decided to take the dogs for a ride in the car.  Riley and Harley now bond over riding and barking.  Jay took a different route than I’d expected.  At a couple of points he said, “right or left?”  My response was, “no matter.”  It was a pleasant Sunday morning, before the heat took over.   I’d said I wanted to stop at the market so Jay pulled into one we frequent infrequently, parked in the shade to wait in the car with the dogs.  I picked up a few things and as I finished checking out I saw a man who looked familiar standing at the entrance.  I knew I knew him but couldn’t figure out from where.  As soon as I thought of his name I blurted it out, “Corporal Richard Greene.”  He turned and looked at me trying to put the pieces together in his mind.  I walked over and reminded him of the story, my Army t-shirt and our conversation.  He smiled broadly and said, “you know after you left a man came up to me and handed me a piece of paper that said ‘thank you for your service.’  There was a gift card for the Corner Bakery but I haven’t been back since.”  I told him I’d written about him in my blog.  He smiled warmly and said, “Really, you did?”

He told me he comes there every Sunday morning “just about this time” for a latte. He told me he lived “just up the road.” I told him my husband was in the car with our dogs but if he wouldn’t mind we’d love to join him for coffee next Sunday.

“Oh yes,” he said, “I’d enjoy that.”

Chocolate cake…Toast-ites…Corporal Richard Greene

Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events that are apparently unrelated, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner.  It was first described by Carl Jung in the 1920’s.

I will bring a copy of what I wrote about him when we see Corporal Richard Greene next Sunday.  As I closed the post I wrote when we first met him…there are no accidents.

Happy Birthday to me!

Somebody up there likes me…a lot!!!

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4

You Still Got It

ImageWhile we were at the park the other morning with Riley and Harley, I was thinking about how lucky I am.  Others have pointed that out to me throughout the years and I wondered why they would ever say that because I have had some really bad stuff happen in my life.  I’ve had some really dark moments as I’ve wandered through this tunnel they call life.  But then, haven’t we all?   A dear friend recently told his story of going to a shrink, beginning with the opening, “you won’t believe this story.   The shrink replied, “with all respect, there are really only five stories…the rest are variations on the theme.”   While we all like to think we are unique and individual ~ and, to a certain extent, we are ~ the themes of what we all experience are similar.  Abandonment, grief, loss, love, happiness.  There are more, I’m sure, but I’ll stop with the first five that came to mind.

Life is a roller coaster.  You’ve all heard that before because I think a cliche is really truth clothed in repetition.    Yet, there are times when the ride is better than others.  Much better.   The world with all its’ challengers is a tricky place.  Much more difficult and complicated than when I was growing up in an amazing place that made it look like Ozzie and Harriet lived in a slum.  But I didn’t have any idea what a slum was.  Hell, in 1978 the kid at the Locust Valley deli told me to go next door to the hardware store when I asked for lox.  Truth…but, I digress.  What would I change about my life if I could?  Well, the really horrible “people I love dying way too young stuff.”   But, the rest?  Hmmm…maybe I stayed too long at a couple of the parties ~ sorry ex-husband(s) ~ but every stepping stone along the way lead me to “now.”  And, what is “now,” you might ask?   I started this blog because a childhood friend contacted me out of the blue and remembered things about me I had forgotten.  One being how much I enjoyed writing.   But then I had to figure out what to write about?  The inconsistency of attempting to be consistent boggled my mind, so I just wrote as life happened..both past and present.  Serendipity became a theme.  Not by choice, but by happenings…both past and present.

Present happenings include Facebook which brought back old friends, new friends with common interests and a lot of pictures of dogs.  People also tend to post meaningful sayings that give insight into what is happening in their lives.  There are themes.  When I returned from my walk and started this post I went onto Facebook and this was what I saw.  I didn’t search for them.  This is what was what various friends were posting.    # 1 “You still got it!! It doesn’t matter how old you are…it doesn’t matter if you don’t have two pennies to rub together and the ATM machine says…”Put your card away!” You may have gone through a major disappointment, or may feel stuck and overwhelmed. Know this…You still got it! Even if you feel that all the odds are against you…keep looking up!  Friends and others may laugh. Continue to look for ways to win, and say to yourself…over and over again with deep conviction ~ “I still got it.” Work to improve yourself, and strengthen your mind. Remember that even if things don’t turn out exactly as you would like them to…it won’t be the end of your world. Keep the faith…and keep saying to yourself…”I still got it…because you do!” You deserve!” ~ Les Brown.

Now, my having a birthday fast approaching that definitely put me on the fast track to Medicare, I considered this a positive reinforcement of both my vitality and that of my retirement savings.Image#2 “If you have faith and believe everything happens for a reason, it will make the really tough moments in your life mentally easier to handle.  Do well. Help others. Be positive. And ride out the tough time. Something good is on the horizon if things aren’t going right, right now. Life always balances itself out.” 

Having just rescued an amazing dog under completely serendipitous circumstances after so sadly losing one just two months ago, I decided “balance…good.” Image#3  Some of the most obvious and simple things in life tend to be most important: Being angry makes you angry. Being happy makes you happy. Being where you want to be — or more important — where you DON’T want to be — is a choice you make. It really is that simple ~   John Lillywhite

John says some really smart things.  It is all about choice, isn’t it?

Serendipity, Luck, Faith…the happenings of the past couple of weeks have shown me most definitively that “somebody up there likes me.”  I have never believed in coincidence and I’m not going to start now.

So my friends, if you’re going through a dip on the roller coaster…hold on.  Wallow for a while and then get back to it.  The ride up is a challenge but don’t ever forget to put your arms up and scream on the exhilarating ride down.

And, remember this…also appearing on my feed that same day.

You’ve Always had the Power my Dear.  You’ve  had it all along.

You just had to learn it for yourself. ♥
~ Glinda ( The Good Witch ) to Dorothy.
Wizard of Oz.Image

3

Happiness

I’ve spoken about living in the moment.  Well, when I woke up this morning I surely didn’t think the day would be ending with a new four legged boy in our family.  Welcome Harley Earle.   You know how sad I was over losing our boy Hobbes two months ago.   Since most of my professional non-profit experience was in the field of health and human services, I decided I wanted to volunteer with an animal rescue organization to fill the void for now.  There is a sitcom in what I’ve experienced and observed but that’s for another post. ImageWe thought about fostering.  We thought about staying with only Riley O’Riley, who has thoroughly enjoyed being an “only.”  We agreed we’d know when the time was right.   Then, two nights ago, a new name appeared on my Facebook wall.  It wasn’t any of the groups I’d already “liked.”   An adorable dog named Odin needed a foster home for a few weeks.  Jay was asleep and without thinking I wrote ~ “we can do it.”   I figured like most of the other rescues I’d discovered the application process was near to having your first born accepted into Yale.   I heard of “pop in visits.”  And was asked questions about our finances tantamount to applying for a home loan.   The woman and I played phone tag for a couple of days so I figured Odin had found a home.  When we finally connected this morning, she explained what she’d been doing.  Rescuing Harley from a shelter in Downey where he’d been surrendered by his owner on June 26th.  I’ve learned more about dog shelters in the past two months than I’ve ever wanted to know.  Suffice it to say, Harley needed to be “pulled” or else he’d be “gone.”   Two of the golden retriever rescues had “passed” on him.  He was very thin and had been deemed “aggressive” upon intake.   The clock was ticking on this boy…very loudly.

Corinne, the rescuer who originated in Brooklyn ~ need I say more ~ had sprung him last night.  She had him groomed and had found a foster home for him for two weeks.  While we were talking she started to tell me about him and asked if perhaps we’d like to meet him.  I told her I’d call her back in ten minutes and went to announce my transgressions to Jay.  Let me explain something.  My husband LOVES Golden Retrievers but has had his heart broken…twice.  I asked what he thought about bringing Riley to meet Harley.  When he said, “let’s go,” we were at the pet store in Santa Monica about an hour later.    When Corinne walked up the street with this adorable boy, I started to cry.  But then I cry at commercials.   We walked for a while…Riley was a perfect gentleman.  Shocking, because his rightfully acquired nickname is “Tazmanian devil dog.”   They sniffed, they walked, they said “ok” and an hour later we were driving back to Tarzana together.  We let Harley have the back seat all to himself and as Riley sat up on my lap I could almost hear him thinking, “I’m still the boss.”

We’re eight hours into this new family.  Harley has acquired a last name from my car loving husband.  Harley Earle.  Harley is really tired…the boy has had a very rough time of it.  He’s been terribly neglected and needs to gain a lot of weight, but he’s definitely been loved.  He carries his leash in his mouth and trots down the street with his new boy, Jay.  He’s chased a tennis ball twice.  He’s decided he likes eating out of Riley’s bowl better, and that’s just the way it’s always been here.  Hobbes and Riley always traded bowls.   They’ve been to the side gate together and looked out.  Riley hasn’t grumbled once.

Harley isn’t aggressive.  He was abandoned and terrified.

We will keep him safe.  Soon he will believe that.

Happiness.     Image