Part II – My post was too long and my blog went crazy.

On Monday night, I went to book club. We read a wonderful book, Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. It was a fabulous book. The story traveled back and forth between the United States and India. A couple (American and Indian) adopt a baby from India and the life they led. It was a very touching story. I am going to be writing a review on it this week. Our club host fixed authentic Indian food that was to die for. I will have to include a recipe for the chicken dish at the end of this post.

Being the “duh” I sometimes am, I walked into her house and saw the dishes and was wondering why she was cooking Indian food. If you had read five books last week, you might have been confused as well. The dishes looked more festive because she cooked them in the different colors of Le Cruset pottery. I am always thinking that I need to “matchy match” my cookware and it was so Indian looking with the different colors. It made me re-think my decision. Why stick to one color when all of the colors are so vibrant, you can’t choose just one color. My decision – when I start buying new pots, I will not limit myself to just one color.

And, the gossip (therapy)? Just as colorful and spicy as the food. You already know the code – “What happens at book club STAYS at book club!”

That is about all that been going on this week. It is nice to have a calm week. OH! I almost forgot – Hubby and I had a date on Saturday night. We went with friends to a dinner theater. It was “Gone with the Hurricane.” I’ll be blogging on that later. It was so much fun that I cannot wait to go again.

Indian Chicken

Prep time: 10 minutes     Cook Time: 20 minutes

1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-tablespoon curry powder

1-teaspoon ground ginger

1 (13.5 ounce) can light coconut milk

½ cup lower-sodium chicken broth or water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to:

Season chicken well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion, garlic, curry powder, and ginger to the same skillet. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. add coconut milk and broth; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. add chicken back to the pan and cook until sauce is thickened and reduced, about 5 minutes. serve hot.

Makes 4 (2-cup) servings.

Donna “Lucy”

P.S. I just realized I didn’t include the story mentioned in my title. I’ll have to include it in my next post.

My Crazy Life – September 19, 2011 – So, I ran over a pecan tree…

As I posted last week, Calypso and I began Obedience Training on Saturday at Pet Smart. My little rambunctious dog was the biggest dog and the most well behaved in class. We arrived a little early and toured the store. She loved sniffing at everything but surprisingly, she did not pick up one item.

The manager tried to give her a treat – flavored popcorn – and Calypso turned her nose up at it. She also turned up her nose at a second treat. I took pity on the manager and gave her one of the treats I brought along for training class. Calypso gobbled it up, no questions asked.

We then went to the training room to wait for the other dogs and the instructor. I dropped Calypso’s leash and let her walk around to explore since we were alone. A couple of minutes later, another dog and owner arrived. The minute the woman opened the door and her dog (a Boxer) came face to face with Calypso he peed on the floor. She cleaned the mess only for the dog to look at Calypso a second time with the same reaction. I was like “Go Calypso” –not aloud –  I know, totally rude and inappropriate even it was only in my head. Calypso didn’t do anything; she was standing there being good.

In our class, we have five dogs, some kind of yip-yapping terrier looking dog, an English bulldog, an Alaskan Husky, a Boxer, and Calypso, a German shepherd. Calypso did not care for so many dogs and all of the noise that accompany them. She sat down as close to my chair as she could and periodically tried to climb in my lap. She eventually ventured out on her own and growled at the other dogs. I was curious before we went about how she might react to other dogs, but she really did not want anything to do with them. Of course, we were not on her territory. That would probably have created an entirely different scenario.

The instructor was very good and her instruction techniques were easy to understand and implement. Calypso was a willing participant and did very well. She is learning the hand signal for sit and is actually listening better. The woman sitting next to me was a trip. She would tell her dog to sit and give him a treat and then the dog stopped listening and lay down. She told him, “oh well, just lay there and be good.” I was wondering what in the world was she doing. We were clearly in obedience class and she was telling the dog it was okay not to listen. This class should prove very interesting, although we may not be there much longer. Pet Smart also offers private lessons and I am considering switching over. It is a four-week class as opposed to six weeks and Calypso is not fond of the noise and chaos of the other dogs. I have to admit also that the chaos and lack of space aren’t working well for me either. Another plus would be the individual attention for an hour and the chance to work more intensely with Calypso on learning the commands. That actually appeals to me more than the socialization of so many animals.

I am having so much fun now with the “sit” command and sign language. I make them sit for everything. I am really being bad about it (laughing.) They come to the door and they sit. I let them in. They follow me around as I fill their bowls with their food (and make them sit). Then they race to the door to go out and I make them sit. I open the door and we go outside like ladies.

Plowing the garden

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday, Hubby decided to plow his garden

Hubby heading to the back with choppers on the tractor

and plant a few potatoes. Of course, he wanted help, so I loaded up the dogs in their wagon and we rode to the garden to watch. Yes! Watch! He really didn’t plant that much so my help – other than company – wasn’t really needed. I was the “dog’s driver”. I hooked up their wagon to the lawn mower and we made several trips from the house (front) to the garden (back) and back; and then several more trips around the garden (just for fun.) Don’t they look like they were enjoying themselves? I cannot let them out of the wagon because of all the tall grass. We’ve had an issue with ticks before and I am more than a little paranoid about them. Therefore, for their protection – and my delicateness – they stay in the wagon.

Ryka (back) and Calypso

Ryka likes to hang over the side and watch the tall grass go by. It is the funniest thing to watch. Calypso just stands there. She is beginning to get comfortable with riding. She is not crazy about lawn mowers or noise.

(My blog post was too long so check above for Part II!)

My Crazy Life – September 11, 2011 – The Nursing Home

              I haven’t posted in a while – my apologies. I have had some issues that needed dealing with. Life is still a little strange but I’m back. My guess would also be that I will no doubt stir up some controversy with this post. It is not my intent to do so. I was sitting at the nursing home this afternoon and being a people watcher, I did what I do – people watched. And, as I people-watched, thoughts began to run through my head and my hand started to twitch, and as all of you writers out there know, that is an indication that pen and paper are needed.

My husband’s band plays at the local nursing home’s monthly birthday party that they host for the residents. I used to attend every month, but frankly, I found the nursing home too depressing. So, I quit going. My husband also provides the music for the Sunday morning rosary each week. Hubby donates a significant amount of time playing music for charitable events and in an effort to spend more time with him, I have begun tagging along (once again.) When you are married, that is what you do when you want to spend time together.

Well, I am sitting here today, at this moment, at the nursing home while my husband and his band entertain the residents. I have been sitting here for over an hour watching people- mainly the residents.

There is an elderly man who has taken up residence on one of the sofas in the common area and has been there since before we arrived. He has been sleeping since I scoped out my chair, and has not shown any indication of waking up. I found myself staring at him, wondering what he was like along his journey of life. An image came to mind of him as a small boy playing with a toy. I wondered what he was like as a young man – married and with a family. I also thought about how he ended up here, on a sofa, in the nursing home.

There is another elderly man sitting in his reclining wheel chair, his mouth open, sleeping. He has not moved since I have been sitting here. I wonder why he has brought here to the common area. Shouldn’t he be in his room? He does not appear to be aware of his surroundings.

Hubby is singing Mustang Sally. The dance floor is full in the next room where they have set up. Those who can dance are dancing. Volunteers and visitors are pushing other residents around the floor in their wheelchairs. They are enjoying themselves if their smiles are any indication.

As I gaze around the cafeteria, I notice the tables shoved against the walls. The residents form a “u” around the room, all sitting in wheelchairs. Most are smiling and nodding their heads in time to the music. I am watching through the slats in the blinds that cover the windows that separate the common area from the cafeteria. It is quieter here and I can sink into my thoughts.

The chairs scattered around the common area are filled with elderly – all in a different state of slumping slumber. I guess the common area here is akin to our living rooms and family rooms at home where we sit in privacy in various stages of slumber, our mouths surely hanging open as well, as we struggle to breathe while suffering from seasonal allergies.

Have you ever sat in a nursing home and wondered about the story behind each person, wondering about your own story? As I look up and check out the partying in the cafeteria, I notice one of the band member’s wives taping their performance – namely my Hubby at this point. He is singing “It’s only make believe” and I have to admit the way he growls at the beginning is sexy. I hear catcalls. This wife has been taping every performance for years, and the guys in the band receive a copy for Christmas. I sometimes wonder if they ever sit and watch any of the tapes. I know we don’t. Being there is actually enough – do not need to re-live it!

Someone just woke up the sofa man. He is not impressed – or pleased. I think he wants to be left alone and to go back to sleep. They made him cry. Now, he is moaning loudly.

With the cake cutting at an end, some of the helpers have taken to the dance floor. A few of them are very good.

I do not really like coming to the nursing home. It takes me far from my comfort zone. Maybe sometimes that is what we need. This nursing home is new and much nicer than the old one. The old building had a horrible stench that would almost knock you over when you walked through the door. I sit in the corner and read and write. I keep my head down, concentrating on my task, trying, (and hoping) to be invisible.

The band is breaking down. The aids are wheeling some of the residents into the common area. They wheel them in, park them, and then return to the cafeteria for another. The common area is beginning to look like a wheelchair parking lot. One resident is sitting with her mouth hanging open, staring into space. Another, fidgeting, looking afraid; while another is talking non-stop to no one. The sofa man is sitting up now and making strange noises.

I suppose the reason I do not enjoy coming to the nursing home is that it scares me. It forces you to think, and with an imagination like mine, those thoughts can be scary. Will I end up here or in another facility like this? Will I be out of it, left in a wheel chair with my mouth hanging open? Wouldn’t I prefer to be left in my room? Morbid thoughts, but some we are forced to face.

When I talk about my thoughts to Hubby on the way home, he has a good answer – he always does. No matter what state people are in, they do not deserve to left in a room all alone. I guess he is right about that. It is strange how one person can put things into perspective at times with a short sentence.

I had a strange day and thought that I would share my thoughts. I’m human. These were my thoughts as the afternoon progressed. You are welcome to comment – just hold the bashing. We are who we are, and we think what we think.

My Crazy Life – September 13, 2011 – Calypso does it again

            Calypso will be the death of me yet. She knows the commands – sit, down, stay, come – but does she listen – NO! I know what you are thinking – how can she know the commands if she doesn’t listen. You must not have a dog.

Last night Hubby and I came home and as usual, I am the gate opener. We had been gone a while and the dogs were waiting near the gate when we drove up. Hubby says that he has Calypso trained to sit in a particular area and wait while he drives through the gate. Then, she knows not to come until he has closed the gates because he will not play with her until he does.

I, on the other hand, have a leash on either side of the driveway hanging on the fence. Ryka does not normally come to gate when I am leaving and when I return, she will stop about fifty feet from the gate and sit and wait. Calypso on the other hand – knows no boundaries. I have to wrestle her to attach the leash so that she is held safely behind the gate when I open it. The little (55 pounds) stinker has learned this and has now started to run away – which is okay when she stays away. I drive through the gate and close it with no problem when this happens.

Last night – none of the above happened. Ryka stayed in her spot and Calypso was around her spot. Hubby drove through the gate and I was closing it when Calypso came running up just as I secured one of the gates. I managed to block her as I was reaching for the other gate – then all hell broke loose. She got around me and headed out of the gate. The highway – MAJOR highway is 15 feet from the gate. I called her and she put her tail between her legs and proceeded to walk across the highway towards the boathouse. I thought I pulled the gate closed behind me but Ryka managed to get there first and was going to follow us. When Hubby saw what was happening, he jumped out, grabbed Ryka, fussed at her, and closed the gate and came to help me catch Calypso, who by this time was on the wharf.

Did I mention that the wharf is 90 feet long? It runs the width of the property. I did not want to chase Calypso because she would have taken off. She had already managed to cross the highway safely; I could not risk her darting that way again. She saw Hubby heading towards her from the other end of the wharf and jumped to land. Hubby jumped and managed, after several long minutes, to subdue her – gotta love those policeman tactics. He then hauled her little behind across the highway and into the yard, fussing the entire time, and secured her in the yard. Her Guardian Angel was watching out for her because not a single car or eighteen-wheeler passed in this period, which is a miracle. The very stunt she pulled is the reason I do not take them out of the yard unless they are in the car. I do not want them thinking that they can cross the highway to the boathouse.

I crossed back as headlights were coming around the bend about a half mile away. We drove down the driveway and when we got out of the car, both dogs came to me, not Hubby. They were none too sure what punishment he might dole out. They followed me, cowering, into the garage and stood with their heads down and their tails between their legs the entire time I was fixing their dinner. Hubby tried several times to coax them to him, but they weren’t taking any chances. They were like two little wayward kids. I took their food outside and I must say – nothing thwarts Calypso’s appetite. She was ravenous and dug into her food as if it was her last meal.

This brings me to my big announcement. Calypso and I begin obedience classes on Saturday. One of us – hopefully her – is going to be listening by the time we graduate. I have heard good things about the classes at Pet Smart and they are guaranteed (good thing – because we may be there longer than six weeks.) So, if you have a free moment during the day – please look skyward and whisper a prayer that the training is successful.

For an on-the-move ‘Navy brat,’ can New London really be home? By SUSAN ASSELIN-CONNOLLY

When a friend from Connecticut sent this article she had written asking me to read it and give her my opinion on it, I had to laugh. I had just gotten through clicking to join a “You know you are from….” group, and I thought what a coincidence I receive this email within minutes of doing the very thing she was writing about. I’ve never met my good friend Susan. We became acquainted through Face book via my cousin, Mel, who lives in the same town. 

Susan read a post I wrote on a topic that is dear to both of us and contacted me. We’ve been buddies ever since, and one day I hope to actually meet her. I know it will be as though we’ve always known each other. I am also confident that New London will feel like home because of the friends I have made. So – read her article and see if you think we can be of a place, but not from that place.

Enjoy Susan’s article and if something resonates with you, please leave a comment.  And, by the way, that little blurb about South Louisiana – that’s me!

Article published Aug 21, 2011

For an on-the-move ‘Navy brat,’ can New London really be home?
By SUSAN ASSELIN-CONNOLLY


Recently, Facebook has exploded with postings on pages entitled “You know you are from (insert name of town here) if…” The sheer number of postings, with vague memories of long gone retail stores and second-grade teachers, veered quickly from interesting to irritant.

Someone posted that these pages had become the vuvuzelas of Facebook. It got me to thinking. What does it mean to have a sense of place? Isn’t it fundamentally the human condition to long for one? What is “home”? Is it an actual place or just the sense of it? Does it have a taste, a smell, a feel? Is it more, or maybe less, than a geographic location?

As a Navy brat, I read the New London page with a sense of unease. Even after 15 years of living here, can I really be “from New London” if I didn’t have Mrs. McGarry in sixth grade? Can you call a place “home” even if all of the postings read as if they are in code, while at the same time have a ring of the familiar? Because so too did the Norfolk, Va., and the Portsmouth, N.H. postings. Having moved so frequently as a child, multiple cities and towns on any coast could qualify as home. The realization that none of the pages applied to me, yet all of them did was unnerving. How can you explain a flash of recognition generated by a posting from a bayou town in Louisiana, a place that should be foreign? Can you be from someplace if you have never been there? More to the point, can you be from some place but not of that place?

In Everett Edward Hale’s short story “Man Without a Country,” Army Lt. Philip Nolan renounces the United States during his trial for treason and is subsequently sentenced to live the rest of his life at sea with nary a mention of his homeland. Each of us can recognize the exquisite pain such a punishment portends. Being stripped of the very sense of home, that place “when you go there, they have to take you in,” is akin to a slow, painful crushing of your soul.

An email from an old friend brought all of this into focus. Dr. Robyne Diller, a psychologist whose practice was formerly in New London, wrote to tell me she has finally written her book and would be in Connecticut on a book tour.

The book, entitled “How Everything Changed,” is essentially about feeling disconnected and yearning for home, that place Maya Angelou describes as “the safe place we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

It is also that place we can breathe most deeply, most authentically. Five years ago, Dr. Diller had a very busy practice, a house on the shoreline, and a creeping, insidious knowledge that she didn’t belong. Back then she might have described trying to put it into words as difficult as trying to catch a wisp of hair that falls against your cheek on a windy day. She simply knew she was merely masquerading as a person who belonged.
In the midst of her time of feeling disconnected from her self, from her thoughts of belonging, of being home, she traveled to Israel as a special celebration of her son’s bar mitzvah. Within a day of landing in Tel Aviv she realized that her ache for home had faded, for she had finally arrived. She had found her place of belonging.

Within a year she closed her practice, sold her house and had moved to Israel. She went home, leaving all that should have been familiar behind. Her book eloquently describes that journey home to a place she had never lived. She now was coming home to talk about finding home in a foreign land.

Perhaps the better question then might be: Can you be of a place but not from that place?


The author practices law and lives in New London.