Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Granny's Panties

My mother has Alzheimer's. Those are four powerful, awful words. Alzheimer's disease is not only destructive to the life of the patient, but devastating for the family as well. Watching Mom decline slowly but surely over the past few years has been a life-altering experience. I often find myself frustrated and tired and annoyed, but then there's moments of joy and humor that catch me offguard and keep me sane.

Earlier this year, I was in the bathroom of my mother's studio apartment at the assisted living facility where she now lives. She was struggling to pull up her pants, so I offered to help. As I bent to wiggle up one pair of underpants, I discovered to my surprise--and horror--that Mom was wearing a second pair of ladies' panties. Both pairs were white with colorful floral designs and quite stylish as far as ladies' undergarments were concerned. There was only one problem. Neither pair was hers.

I knew this for a fact because I buy all her clothes. My neurotically neat and clean mother had obviously been rummaging through the dressers of other residents (I pray it was the dresser drawers and not the dirty clothes hamper). She had lost so much of her true personality that she'd become quite comfortable wearing someone else's undies. Worse yet, both pairs were wet. I knew right there and then, we had to lose the whole underwear scenario. Mom needed disposable pullups for adults. I rushed out to buy some.

The next day, I returned with three huge packages of disposables for women. On Mom's next trip to the bathroom, I once again offered to help. When she pulled down her pants, I gasped. Not only was she not wearing her own panties, she was wearing men's boxer shorts! I ripped open a bundle of disposables and changed her immediately. Before I left that day, I scooped up all her underpants and filled her dresser drawers and bathroom shelves with disposables. I was sure I had the problem under control until I did her laundry later that week. Tucked inside her laundry basket was a pair of ladies' cotton undies in size XXL. Mom is 95 pounds and size 2 petite. I just had to laugh.

Why am I telling you all of this you ask? Because as we prepare for the upcoming holidays, we need to keep in mind the blessings in our lives. When all the shopping is done and the presents are wrapped, spend a little time reflecting on the joy of this season--the time off work, family dinners, long walks with the dog, Christmas cards, and caroling. So take a break from the hassles and hurries and spend a quiet moment in thought. Remember--life could be worse. You could wake up one morning and find yourself in someone else's underwear and not even care!


I've just seen the proof cover and interior layout for my soon-to-be-released YA novel, Merely Dee, and I was thrilled beyond measure with the results. I'd been asked by the publisher to select a photo/drawing for the cover from an online website of stock images. After an entire day of searching the site, I couldn't find an image that seemed to portray the intensity of the novel. During my research, I'd come across a photo by a Chicago Tribune staff photograher taken just after the capsizing of the Eastland in 1915. The photo had haunted me, and I'd made a copy of it and saved it in my files. I emailed a copy of the  photo to the design team, and they loved it as well. So I secured the reproduction rights from the Chicago History Museum and that haunting photo now graces the cover of Merely Dee. As soon as I'm permitted, I'll share that cover with all of you.

Follow these links for more information on the real-life story of the Eastland Boat Disaster.



From my family to yours, Happy, Happy Holidays! Stay safe. And remember, keep your knickers on.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crockpot Queen

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to write. This passion for the page keeps me sane in my rather insane life. Without some quiet time at my laptop, I could never create those other worlds that live in my mind. We all need an outlet for creative expression. I'm no different. But my life, like yours, is hectic. So how do we carve out this precious time for ourselves?

For me, the answer is compromise. I can't possibly do it all, so I don't. I ignore the layer of dust that has settled on the coffee tables. I step over the mountain of shoes at the front door. I shop Walmart at 11:00 pm along with all the other insomniacs and throw laundry in at midnight. I set specific days to visit my mother and try very hard not to vary from the schedule. I leave Saturday nights open for a date with my husband and Sunday mornings free for Mass. And, as often as possible, I prepare dinners in the crockpot. With a crockpot meal everyone can eat all that they want at any time they want. I don't have to set the table or worry about someone starving because I'm being selfish or best of all - I don't have to clean a whole sink full of dirty pots and pans.

The crockpot is a blessing from heaven! I'd like to kiss the person who created the dutch oven. It had to be a woman because only she could appreciate all the marvelous wonders of that oval, ceramic bowl. When I get some time, I'll  Google the origin of the crockpot, but right now, I'm writing. Everything else will have to wait.

So the next time you struggle with time management, remember my simple motto: compromise, compromise, compromise. But first, run out and get yourself a crockpot. Or better yet, get two. One for last night's leftover potroast and one for tonight's chicken and stuffing. 

I'd like to stay in touch with all of you, so I promise (okay, I hope) to write a new post every Friday. Next week's subject: To Tweet or Not to Tweet? I'm sorry that this is even a question. But like it or not, Twitter is a reality of our modern life. So please let me know what you think by weighing in with your pros and cons of tweeting. Help me to decide if I should add this pressure to my already complicated life.

Since this is your first visit to my blogspot, you might be wondering about the name - Merely Me.
Well, it's a play on the title of my soon-to-be-released YA, Merely Dee, a novel based on the real-life story of the Eastland boat disaster of 1915. I heard just today that the book has finished the design process and is now in proofreading which should take another 2-3 weeks. I can't wait to see a proof and get my first glimpse of the cover art and the interior layout. I'll keep you posted on my post.

Until next time, friends. Live your passion!