Tuesday, December 28, 2010

WHAT IS OLD IS NEW AGAIN


And I suppose that's the story of life, eh? What once was is yet once again.

vicious circle.

Kind of like 'I am therefore we are' kind of thing.

Before I go any further, I think you should know that I'm thinking about changing the title of my blog to "I'M SORRY" as I'm forever apologizing to my blog friends.

While I have responded to a few of you on your blogs this morning (and will visit more after this post), I really do have the best of intentions -- and we all know where that road leads -- but I also have a little problem called procrastination, a heart that won't stop grieving and a mind that goes over and over things ('shoulding on myself' as my therapist would say) until I'm downright dizzy and rendered useless.

So many of you reached out to me and I truly have NO WORDS to properly convey my heartfelt thanks to you all.

Know that you brought me immense comfort and peace.

In other news, my post title eludes to the fact that we are making a big life decision and have indeed decided in this new year to move.

This is something -- after losing our home of 16 years two and a half years ago -- that I really didn't want to do again...at least not so soon.

However, in our hearts and for the financial health of our family, we know this is the right thing to do.

How this happened:

B has many good friends and two of them are brothers who last year moved out of their home -- that was just two minutes, if that, away from us -- along with their lovely Mum (she is European so I say Mum, of course. Just go with it.) to go live with their Grandmother due to finances in a city about half an hour from here.

One of the brothers stopped by to see us over the holidays and mentioned the house was still vacant and I immediately starting asking questions (God help me -- I am my mother after all! Just shoot me now.) in which he then had his Mom call me the next day.

Within a few days, we were brought the keys, went to go look at said house and the next thing you know, we're going to be moving in at the end of January.

While the neighborhood is a step down, the rent is $400.00 a month less than what we're paying now and includes pool service. Yes, it has a built in pool -- we've never had a pool, built in or otherwise, and the backyard is twice the size of ours and the house has two more bedrooms.

As with anything there are drawbacks -- needs a lot of work -- but the extra money saved per month sold it for us. Also sweetening the deal is that we get the first months rent free to do any fixing up and we don't have to make a down payment of any kind. We can also sign the lease for however many years we want.

It all happened quite quickly and we'll be spending our new year getting this house move-in ready for the next tenants (needs new carpet -- cheap and in a hurry!) and because we want our deposit back while simultaneously getting the new house cleaned and fixed up so it's ready for US -- God help it.

Hoping Santa has some elves available that aren't too tired from the holiday to help us with all this.

Speaking of Santa (and once again wildly switching gears)....

SANTA FUN FACT: A Nasa Physicist recently 'did the math' and said that in order for Santa to make the trip across the globe on Christmas Eve, he came to this conclusion:

Santa would have to leave the North Pole at 7:00 p.m. and travel nearly at the speed of light to land on each continent at 7:00 p.m. their time and visit 7000 homes per second to be done by 7:00 a.m.

Oh, and the reindeer? Likely all female (hello Vixen!) as male reindeer shed their antlers in the winter.

Chalk one up for the gals.

Next Christmas Eve, you can track Santa at noradsanta.org

Interesting, huh?

Anyhoo. Just wanted to share why, once again, I have been named the worst blog friend on the planet.

This explains the coal in my stocking.

Love you all and hope you had a blessed Christmas.

Peace, serenity and Happy New Year,
~Jo

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DO WE REALLY WANT TO KNOW?


In keeping with my traditional 'keeping it real' philosophy, I recently sent out my annual Christmas newsletter in my 'no holds barred' fashion where I spilled about losing Juneau, our loss of finances due to the aforementioned and Ed's potential skin cancer.

I, of course, not wanting to be all completely Grinch-like, added a few snippets about how well B is doing in school and what his plans are. I asked for prayers for Ed and told everyone that I think of them often and that I wish them all that is good this holiday and in the New Year. And I meant it.

Due to a printer that is out of ink more often than not, I do my Christmas newsletters via E-mail.

For years I have received Christmas newsletters from friends and family talking about vacations, promotions, how Tommy got his Eagle Scout badge and that little Jenny is oh so grown up now, don'tcha know, and recently received a full scholarship to Columbia University.

I read about the jet skiing and the new S.U.V. with a hitch to accommodate said jet ski's where they vacation in Mammoth Lake while staying at their vacation home.

Okay, so, I exaggerate slightly but you get my point. We've all received them and if you're like me, you don't give a shit.

C'mon -- be honest.

My thing is this: I don't want my Christmas newsletter to make anyone feel shitty about their lives. Because let's face it, in spite of all the gooey crap they write about, NO ONE's life is as good as they want you to think it is.

And if it is --good for you (truly! good for you!) but I don't necessarily want to hear about it.

Bitter grapes? Maybe. Green-eyed monster? Sure. Whatever euphemism you may want to label it as, so be it.

I truly don't begrudge people their right to live their lives to the fullest, I'm just asking for some proper perspective in these damned things.

Give it to me straight, we can take it. We're big people.

So, after my newsletter went out, the next day I get a call from my best friend, Sue. She's the one who lives in Maine whom we were supposed to go and visit next summer after not seeing each other for nearly 20 years.

Not sure that's going to happen now due to our depleted finances in trying to save Juneau.

So, Sue calls me and I can immediately tell she's upset. She's very down and it's not long until she starts crying.

She says; "I'm just so heartbroken and sorry for you all, Jo..."

Oh, shit! What did I do???

I didn't want to upset anyone -- especially Sue. Not my intention. I merely give it to them straight.

I immediately apologized and told her that my sending out such an honest newsletter was, in hindsight, a terrible thing for me to do and that I shouldn't have ever sent it.

Her answer surprised me.

She said: "No! I'm GLAD you did. You just say what everyone else should be."

Wow.

I truly wish everyone felt that way. For two years in a row now I've "said what everyone else should be" and get ZERO response from people I thought would at least write and say: "So sorry. Praying for you. Know you're all in our thoughts."

Instead I get a call from my best friend of 30 years whom I haven't seen, again, in nearly 20, who has been through just as much crap as we have with one of her sons in and out of rehab for severe drug addiction, another son divorced with a child -- and living with her and her husband and daughter making life miserable for them all -- and a husband with his own health issues all while she works as a Cardiology nurse.

The person who has the least time and a heavy, mounting load of issues of her own is the ONLY one who reached out and shared in my grief and sorrows.

Her phone call left me a lot to think about: are people whose lives don't mimic mine and Sue's incapable of empathy?

Do they really want to hear about our dirt?

And, in turn, do we really want to be showered with their apparent good news only?

The conclusion I came to is: if you add water to dirt, it creates mud.

So, all I really know is this -- and I can only speak for myself: I feel as if my universe is out of balance and in trying to regain my footing, I may have lost my own perspective.

Every day I re-check my axis and it still doesn't feel quite right...

But I can tell you that I'm trying.

Regardless, I miss everyone here and am anticipating coming back to blogging after the holidays.

Much love and blessings to you this Christmas and always.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

AND SO THE STORY GOES...


Santa has a lot of explaining to do.

First off, I've been wanting to post and catch up before this -- and I just want everyone to know (Steven, David, Meeko, Bibi, Jaynie, Jules, Elle and Andrea all in particular) that I've read all your comments and they've brought me immense comfort. To those of you who've reached out to me via Twitter, E-mail and/or text...equally appreciated and deeply felt.

Thank you all so much for caring about our pain and loss.

With the exception of a few meltdowns here and there the past few days (something will come up that makes me think of our beautiful little Juneau and it all hits that she should be here with us...), I can honestly say that the grieving has gotten a little easier day by day and that in addition to attempting to re-build our great financial loss when we were trying to save Juneau (who died in her sleep -- for which we're grateful if she had to go that it wasn't a decision on our part but was in fact in God's hands), we're also trying very hard to find joy in the season by doing what everyone else is: buying a tree, decorating, shopping on a budget, watching Christmas specials, etc.

Please know that I do know and understand that we're not the only family going through hardships, financial or otherwise: I am acutely aware of the families who have soldiers overseas and some who have lost their loved ones as well as the financial struggles everyone is facing now.

With that said....

READ NO FURTHER IF YOU'RE SQUEAMISH:

Ed had yesterday off for a Dermatology appointment: he gets these welt like boils on his hands, arms, elbows and even a few on his knees now and then. A few years ago we had to take him to county to have one cut open and dug out. He turned sheet white and it pained me to see him in so much agony.

After one cancellation and rescheduling after another, he was finally able to get in to see the Dermatologist yesterday who said he has a raging infection and that while these festering boils are indeed likely the product of ingrown hair, that for some reason his body is "colonizing" them causing his infection.

So, he's on a ten day anti-biotic treatment.

Wait, there's more....

Being fair skinned and freckled, he also had a few suspicious markings on his body, which turned out to be easily, albeit a bit painfully, treatable as she will burn them off.

However, what really had her concerned was that Ed has a growing red 'strawberry' mark on his side that occasionally bleeds and gives him trouble: this is where more 'good news' was handed to us as she said it is likely cancerous.

Due to his infection, she was unable to remove it for biopsy yesterday so now he has to wait until January 21st for his biopsy and results.

This is excruciating and has me, to be frank, quite scared for my husband's health.

I have so much running through my mind right now that I reached out yesterday to some of my 'kids' giving them an update and asking them to please pray for Ed.

I was disappointed that so few responded: Granted, we gave birth to B -- but the others we CHOSE to be a part of our lives and we deserve a little of their time, thought, prayers and consideration.

We have always been there for them -- was it too much to ask for some words of comfort and good thoughts in return?

I know we've been drama-filled lately with the passing of Juneau and all the financial stuff of the past few years -- believe me when I say that we don't ask for this but for whatever reason, it would appear we're being tested -- and it would appear I'm failing miserably.

So, I reached out and asked for some much needed support for Ed and I both.

I think we're fundamentally decent and good people -- we do what we can for others (in fact, I recently signed up for my 4th consecutive MS Walk) and when we love we do so whole heartedly.

At the risk of inviting wrath and hurt feelings for those who read my blog, I need to say that I know it's easy to get caught up in day to day stuff with life (especially when you're in your late teens and early to mid-20's) and perhaps they, too, have big stuff going on in their lives. However, I stand by mine and Ed's initial reaction that we deserve better from them.

Not a good way to start off the Holy season, I admit.

It's not all about us, it's not all about you -- it's about our 'family' as a unit and when one hurts, the rest of us should, too.

When you've needed us, we've been there. Now, we need you if for no other reason than to pay a visit, make a phone call or even send a text saying: "Everything will be okay. We love you and 'Big Guy' (as Ed is affectionately known) and, of course, we'll pray for him."

Not a lot to ask, I don't think.

So, we will continue on with the celebration of Christmas and family -- extended or otherwise -- doing our best to keep our spirits high and our hopes up for a good outcome for Ed.

I think of my blog friends every single day. EVERY DAY. Please know that and please forgive my absence and lack of participation in your lives. I do care...more than I have words.

Your support of me over the past few years has been more than what many in our 'real' lives have given and I am so grateful to each of you -- and with that, I wish you all love, joy, good health, peace and happiness that your hearts and lives can hold.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

Love,
~Jo

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

IN LOVING MEMORY












Juneau 7-11-10 to 11-30-10










There just wasn't enough time with you -- wish you could have been with us longer.

Rest in peace, our darling beautiful girl -- may your journey to heaven be swift and our grief softened.

You brought such immense joy and happiness to our family. You are deeply, profoundly missed and loved.

*Personal note to my blog family: Thank you all for your prayers, concern, love and good thoughts -- they were felt.

I will be taking a leave of absence.

My love and best to you all until my return.

Monday, November 29, 2010

SHOULD-ING ON OURSELVES


Hi, all. Back with a re-cap/update on our Juneau:

Last Wednesday -- the day before Thanksgiving -- our four month old Pomeranian (who, if I haven't already said it, has brought our family back to life) started showing signs of not feeling well. She was lethargic, not eating or drinking despite my efforts to get food and water in her.

By the evening time, it was clear we needed to take her to the vet where the unexpected prognosis was Parvo. They said it is highly contagious and running rampant right now and that it could have simply been brought in on someones shoes.

Juneau's had two sets of shots (both included the Parvo immunizations) but due to an oversight, we inadvertently missed her 16 weeks shots.

So, we brought her home with anti-vomiting/diarrhea meds and anti-biotics where we had to keep her isolated from our 11 year old black lab as well as my mother-in-law's dogs, whom we're watching until Dec 23rd.

On Thanksgiving I stayed home caring for Juneau in a room (giving her chicken and rice baby food, Pedia-Lite -- per doctors instructions -- and her meds...) while Ed, B and my Mom went to Ed's folks house -- I know this is confusing: it's Ed's biological mother who is on a month long cruise and it's Ed's Dad and step-Mom's (who is lovely and wonderful!) house they went to for the holiday.

Then on Thursday night Juneau started throwing up and making whiny noises -- so first thing Friday morning we took her back to the vet where they recommended she stay for two days to boost her treatment and we were to pick her up on Sunday.

When we weren't in constant contact with the vet calling several times a day to find out how she is -- we had a lot to do on our end: we began washing EVERYTHING in hot water and Clorox 2: all of our sheets, blankets, comforters, clothes, shoes, socks, gloves, scarves, beanies, throw pillows, rugs, dog beds, throws and my mother-in-law's dogs belongings, too...EVERYTHING.

Then we wiped down and cleaned and disinfected everything in our house where she may have had contact and proceeded to bleach our front and back yard and rented a 'Rug Doctor' where we then steam cleaned our carpet, furniture and area rugs. This went on for two and a half days and I reckon I did about 30-40 loads of laundry.

This is for Juneau's protection as well as our black lab and anyone who may enter who have animals.

Mind you, we're going through all this while still having to care for my mother-in-law's dogs while she's in Egypt, Morocco, Greece and The Holy Land. It's not their fault and they still deserve to be looked after as well as we're able -- unfortunately, they're bound to the garage (where they have food, water, blankets, pillows, toys, pee pads and a sofa as well as getting taken outside several times a day for fresh air) as they have to remain separate from the rest of the house/animals during this incubation/quarantine period for their protection as well as Juneau's and T.J.'s (our lab).

Since Wednesday I have lost 10 pounds (which I needed to) and have gotten little to no sleep.

In addition to which, we have depleted our bank account to try and save her life: we are now $1200 in this thing as her stay in the vet has shown little improvement and we are now giving her three more days of treatment there to give her more of a fighting chance -- we've come this far.

So, in addition to being worried sick about her and missing her -- there are also the logistics of finances we are dealing with.

In one year, we are now back to square one.

About five or six months ago when Ed and B said they wanted to get another dog (B's girlfriends Pomeranian had the puppies July 11th) I fought against it and fought hard.

All I could see were vet bills should something come up and I told them over and over -- I begged them, really -- let's not do this to ourselves as I knew B's girlfriend and her family (who raise Pomeranian's) would be able to find another good home for their puppies.

But Ed and B fell in love with one little white furry girl in particular and no amount of logic on my part could convince them otherwise, so, when she was eight weeks old -- to my chagrin and against my better judgement and wishes -- Juneau came to live with us.

Then I fell in love, too.

However, due to this, I am no longer able to see my therapist and had to write him a heart-wrenching E-mail saying that I simply can no longer afford him -- and so, I find it ironic that his words are befitting this very situation: he's always saying "We spend so much of our lives 'should-ing' on ourselves: we should have done this, we should have done that".....and so the story goes.

In this case, we shouldn't have. But...we did and I allowed it, therefore, I have a claim in the responsibility and predicament we find ourselves in financially and emotionally while also preparing for a bleak Christmas: financially and if Juneau doesn't make it.

So, I find myself with conflicted emotions teetering between anger, resentment, regret, sadness...and hope.

I'm going this afternoon to give the vet more money -- $380 of which we had to borrow so we can make rent, pay bills, have groceries and gas in the hopes that two more days will do the trick and bring us home a healthy Juneau.

For this to all be for naught would be cruel -- so, I'm asking once again to please keep Juneau in your prayers.










I'll be back with an update later this week -- my apologies for being a bad blog friend...it simply cannot be helped at this time.

Thinking of you all, thanking you for your good wishes and prayers and wishing you a joyous season.

Peace and serenity,
~Jo

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

FOR JUNEAU


Just found out tonight that our 4 month old Pomeranian somehow contracted Parvo -- contracted from my mother-in-laws dogs that we're watching perhaps? Brought in from the street? Who knows.

Our lives have been turned upside down in the flash of a day...prognosis for her recovery isn't good -- 50/50 at best.

If any of you are praying people, please pray for her recovery and mostly her survival...she's come to mean so much to us and is responsible for bringing my little family back to life.

Thank you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

GONE TO THE DOGS


Hi, my friends.

I've been saying for two weeks or more now that I need to get back on the proverbial blog horse...and then we were thrown for another loop -- nothing drastic or too serious, just a major inconvenience and season dampener....

Anyone who's followed me for a while now on this blog -- as well as my vegan blog, 'Rabbit Food' -- knows that I am an animal lover and advocate for a cruel free lifestyle.

So, when my mother-in-law called us late last week in a pickle (she is Ed's biological mother who came back into our lives last year after a 15 year absence -- we've been working on re-building the 'lost years') -- I was conflicted.

In July, Ed, B and I watched my mother-in-law's two high strung dogs for her for five weeks while she was in Europe -- five weeks was a long time for them and for us and our two furry family members (an 11 year old black lab mix named T.J. and our now 13 year old cat named Priscilla 'Prissy').

So, she's had a cruise planned for a while now where she is to go to Egypt, Morocco, Greece and The Holy Land. She is not due back until December 22nd.

She had arranged for an elderly gal to watch Coco and Candy during this trip -- Coco is a large 'Pomeranian' and Candy is a VERY highly strung barky, growling 'American Eskimo' and, if I were to be honest, a bit unlikable who eats her own poop then throws it up.

Those five weeks in July were stressful for all of us so I admit that we were quite relieved when she made other arrangements for them during her latest gallivanting across the globe.

Then came the phone call heard around the world -- okay, maybe just our neighborhood: the woman who was due to watch Candy and Coco had a heart attack this past week (as far as we know, she's doing as well as can be expected) and so that naturally put my mother-in-law in a last minute jam. Not to be all 'Star Wars-y' but apparently we were her 'only hope'.

Ed called with the news to ask my permission.

Could we do this yet again? Keep in mind, we have now added 'Juneau' to our clan, our own Pomeranian who is four months old now.

Did we want this disruption when we're all still getting acclimated on our end with Juneau?

What about all her nieces, nephews, sisters, etc. who haven't spoken to Ed and I in nearly 20 years (they naturally took her side in our decades long feud where we've been estranged and Ed lost all his cousins whom he had grown up like siblings with)???

Why couldn't any of them watch Candy and Coco?

I had to ask what may not have been an obvious question: Why are THEIR lives (as in my mother-in-law's other family members) more important than OURS?

So, instead of Ed saying: "We really can't. We can appreciate your predicament but with us having Juneau now, this would be too much. We're truly sorry and wish we could help." Instead he pulled the: "I have to ask Jo Anna" thing which, were I to say no, makes me what? A cruel bitch impervious to others bad luck and timing? Because, let's be honest here: this responsibility primarily falls on myself and my time and energy -- or lack-there-of.

So, I cried at home (literally) and then bemoaned to my therapist who advised me to rise above this and do my best: not to "catastrophise" it. In which I replied: "But I'm so good at it!" :D

Okay, well, this is what we have to do, right? No choice.

So, I cleaned up the garage for them laying down rugs, pillows, pee pads, etc. to make it as comfortable for them as possible anticipating having to separate them to keep peace with Juneau, T.J. and Prissy. I thought, well, I'll just have to feed them in there and let them live in there during this duration letting them out back separately several times a day -- and I can just forget all about decorating for Christmas don'tcha know!

But as I was cleaning and preparing their area (I even bought pheromone spray for the pee pads so they know to go potty on them and not all over the garage) a funny thing happened: Ed said: "I'm proud of you. You're not only doing the right thing but you listened to Paul (therapist) by making the best out of a bad situation."

And unbeknownst to me, I was.

So, she brought them over and Candy barked and growled for an hour straight while Juneau shook like a leaf and I thought; "This is already disastrous!". But animals have a way of working through these things on their own -- after a few days here, they are all quite comfortable and not much bothering with the other. The garage? They only sleep in it at night in their large crate. The rest of the time they're with us in the house. And yes, dog poop, pee and throw up is my present life. So be it.

Regardless of my feelings of her being a bad dog owner leaving them for a month at a time several times a year, and the fact that it's quite hard on them, too...there's simply nothing more to be done but for me to make the best of it for us all.

So, I'm afraid I won't be able -- as I hoped -- to be on-line and blogging/catching up much, but I will try my best to find balance and that elusive peace and serenity I'm always talking about.

And yes, I will decorate for Christmas.

Happy Thanksgiving and much love to all my blog friends.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

AM I STILL A LIAR, LIAR WITH PANTS ON FIRE IF I HAVE A GOOD EXCUSE?



First of all, Happy Veterans Day! As a daughter of a man who served in Korea and Vietnam, I am grateful!













I have missed being on here so much and I know I promised to catch up with everyone this week but....a funny thing happened on the way to my blog....

First, as previously reported, I was knee deep in anti-biotics courtesy of Bronchitis and on top of that I am entering the first stages of menopause.

All forms of pity are welcome.

Secondly, mine and Ed's God daughter was born yesterday.

I'd like to officially welcome to the world our beautiful Cailyn Marie born 11/10/10 @ 9:03 a.m. weighing in at 7 lbs. even, 18 1/2 inches long.










She is the closest thing we have to a grandchild -- and we are madly in love with her!

I'd like to thank her parents (our oldest "son" and his lovely wife) for giving us this gift.

Monday, November 8, 2010

WHAT'S BEEN AILING ME


Hi, all. So sorry I've been absent of late -- been battling a bevy of issues including a bout of Bronchitis and female issues. Hold onto your hormones -- menopause, here I come!

I've missed my bloggy friends and am going to try to catch up this week!

In other news, I'd like to thank the geniuses at AT&T U-Verse for taking The Food Network Channel off it's programming.

I don't know what in the bloody hell you were thinking but this customer has had enough of paying $170.00 plus a month (cable, phone and Internet) to a company that has no regard for what the customers want.

Will now be looking at Direct T.V.

Until then, stay well, all. Enjoy this Autumn weather and I will be back this week to catch up with y'all.

By the way, my vegan blog, 'Rabbit Food', is today's 'Blogger Of Note' from W.O.W. ('Words Of Wisdom') where I posted an all vegan vegetable noodle soup recipe -- perfect for what may be ailing you.

Stay healthy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

GET YOUR PURPLE ON


Support 'Spirit Day' by wearing purple in support of no more gay bullying!

I'm sickened in my heart and soul at the hatred and the high rate of suicides from gay bashing.

How many more have to die before one realizes that what others prefer -- in and out of the bedroom -- doesn't affect you? It has no bearing on your life -- you can only control YOUR thoughts and YOUR actions.

If it's consensual -- let it be.

I also take aim at the 'straight' reference: so, if someone isn't a heterosexual, what does that mean? They're crooked? I don't get it and I sure as hell don't like it.

I've never once referred to myself as 'straight' because it gives, to me anyway, such a negative connotation to those who are same sex oriented.

If I've said it once, I've said it 100 times -- love is love.

Let's aim for some peace now.

I'm wearing my purple -- are you?










"Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well."
~Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

THE CORRECTIONS


Nine years ago Oprah Winfrey picked author Jonathan Franzen's book 'The Corrections' as her book club choice -- and nine years ago in a fit of ambivalence and pretension, he turned her down.

Upon having recently acquired this book courtesy of Amazon.com, all I can say is thank God I didn't pay full price for this overblown piece of work. That's not to say I don't like it. I've poked around and took a gander: kicked the tires and looked under the hood. I'm not done but so far my thoughts are that the pretension of it's contents rivals this mans ego. It's intricate and interesting -- but that doesn't necessarily make for a good, easy read.

To be so self important and full of New York angst (a bit of a cliché, don't you think?) that he turns down an appearance on the biggest television show in history -- Oprah's book club can make or break sales -- is bewitching.

Like it or not this is the age in which we live: where it's no longer simply reviews of a newspaper that gets a readers attention, but the good word of a woman who wields unstoppable power and does so with fairness and generosity.

You want to turn that down? Then you're going to have to wait for readers like myself to wait nine years to purchase said work used instead of paying full price brand new.

Must be nice to live with that kind of arrogance, self assurance and bemused entitlement.

What brings all this on is this woman's willingness to forgive and forget and once again pick Mr. Franzen's latest novel, 'Freedom', as her latest book club choice.

She's a better woman than I am.

In reading 'The Corrections' (and granted, I'm still early on), it is so full of it's own virtues (or I should say Mr. Franzen is) that it is yet unclear whether I will go on to read 'Freedom'.

Ask me in nine years.

The story revolves around the aging Lambert's; Enid and Alfred, who is suffering the affects of Parkinson's.

They have three grown children (two sons and a daughter) who have long flown the coop, each with their own failings and copious of issues which they keep from their parents.

My thing is this: I simply love to read. It's a good pastime. It's a way to self educate, motivate and get lost in a world unlike you're own.

I don't pretend to read Hemingway but I've been known to read Jane Austen, Dan Brown as well as Nora Roberts.

I'm not hard to please nor am I a book snob.

I can handle Jonathan Franzen's book, but I don't want to. I don't want to handle anything -- I want a book to be an easy, smooth ride.

This is a hard read and while I'm intelligent enough to get it (shhh--don't tell anyone: I call it 'my dirty little secret') -- 'The Corrections' makes itself clear in the first chapter alone that it doesn't want to be got.

I like words which is part of the reason why I don't subscribe to the 'LOL' (Laugh Out Loud) movement -- no offense if you do.

So, for me to think that this book is too much, well then, it must be.

One word comes to mind to describe all it's pretension and that of the author in question: 'Sesquipedalian'.

If any of you saw the movie 'Love Happens' (not usually a fan of Jennifer Aniston nor her movies, but this is one worth watching) then you probably know what this word means: It means someone who uses long and/or not frequently used/known words.

THIS is Jonathan Franzen.

In the first chapter we have: 'Zoysia', 'Metasound', 'Metallurgy', 'Protoplasm', 'Rhodium', 'Cadmium', 'bismuth', 'Aqua Regia', 'Gubernatorial' 'Crepuscular', 'Corpuscles' and 'Corpuscularity'.

I don't know what, if anything, the author is trying to prove -- but for me, a reasonably intelligent and open-minded book lover, the only thing he's proving is that after this, I doubt I'll be buying anymore of his books. Nine years old, used, UN-used or not.

For now, my copy of 'The Corrections' shall go on to remain palimpsest -- and that will have to do me.

Take that word, Mr. Franzen, and smoke it in your pipe. Don't forget the ascot.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

AUTUMN COMFORT FOOD AND GOOD FRIENDS


Have you met Marianne and Susie yet? No????

Well, go to my profile page to get to my 'STRANGER THAN DICTION' blog and meet this Mother and Daughter duo who have warmed my heart and have become part of my extended family in my story titled; "MORE THAN A FEELING".

I'm only on chapter two so it's not too late to catch up and read the prologue and chapter one to acquaint yourselves and go back in time to 1978 and visit them in the fictional southern California seaside community of 'Aigean Bay'.

I also just posted a vegan pumpkin pancake recipe on my 'Rabbit Food' blog (you can get to 'Rabbit Food' by clicking on the 'Rabbit Food' blog button on my side bar -- I have yet to have one made for 'STRANGER THAN DICTION').

Comfort food and good friends in Autumn go hand-in-hand.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A 10-10-10 BIRTHDAY


Yesterday was my Mom's 77th birthday, which just so happened to land on 10-10-10. A day noted for clearly being once in a lifetime -- so much so that many chose to get married on this rare occasion.

However, for us -- it was simply fulfilling a small wish for my Mom: she had never been to Malibu.











Being a fish-n-chips aficionado, she had asked to go to Malibu (home of Peppardine University) on her special day and partake in her favorite fare -- of course, this left me with only French fries and a salad but it wasn't about me. Damn.

She had heard of a famous fish place there called 'Neptune's Net' however, Ed got on-line and did some digging around to discover there's another place there that was rated much higher for their superb fish-n-chips -- and it did not disappoint:

Malibu Fish Market










Right off Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), stands a little hole in the wall shack with faded paint and boasting only outdoor seating....with a line going around the building.

We knew then we had made the right choice.

My Mom thought it was the best she ever had -- the spectacular ocean view didn't hurt, either -- and that right there made it worth the nearly two hour drive cramped in the backseat with my Mom and B's girlfriend (with Ed and B in the front).

Okay, I had to get that in. I'm done.

Mmmm....maybe not.

Mom declared me from the time I was little to be a "bad traveler" -- never have truer words been spoken. I HATE it. I don't know if it's my anxiety, the length, my being prone to motion sickness (although I didn't do too badly in that respect yesterday), claustrophobic, or if I'm just antsy but once we were in Malibu, my body had enough and I needed desperately to get out of that back seat (quite the contrary to high school but that's another story).

Of course, this made good fodder for B ("Your 77 year old Mom hasn't complained once") who exchanged places with me for the ride home so he didn't have "listen to me". For the record, 75% of the trip up there, I was fine and didn't complain until about an hour and a half into the drive.

I'm not real big on leaving my house anyway so for me to venture that far away from home (trust me, we live NO WHERE near Malibu and it's swank) was indeed a big deal for me that apparently went unnoticed.

Humorous anecdote of the days travels came courtesy of B: "Even their bums are nicer here".







Friday, October 8, 2010

T.V. YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING


I am a 'T.V.-aholic' to be sure. It's our form of entertainment -- it's what we do. We don't do theater, movies or restaurants. Nor do we frequent museums.

But what we do do is use what we pay for. How many times have we thought there are so many channels and nothing on? How many of us pay our cable bill and wonder what the hell for?

If you're one of those who says there's nothing on, you're not paying attention.

Other than a select few ('Modern Family', 'Community', 'The Amazing Race', 'Survivor'), I'm not real big on network T.V.

However, last year 'Parenthood' came to us courtesy of Tuesday nights on NBC.

If any of you saw the movie of the same name in 1989, this is T.V.'s take with Craig T. Nelson (fantastic as always!) as the patriarch of the Braverman Clan, produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer who also did the film.

It's well written, witty and holds a superb cast including Lauren Graham (of 'The Gilmore Girls'), Peter Krause (of 'Six Feet Under'), Erika Christensen ('The Upside OF Anger', 'The Banger Sisters' and 'Traffic' just to name a few) and Dax Shepard ('When In Rome', 'Baby Mama') as the Braverman siblings still struggling with their parents, each other and the world and their role in it as parents themselves.

It's audience is slipping this season and for selfish reasons, I'd like to see it fight it's way out of the ratings war and remain in my living room -- once you see it, you'll wish for the same.











But what about all those shows on Cable?

Let me weed them out for you (no pun intended):

Showtime:

~'Weeds' (currently in progress)

~'Californication' (next season starts this winter)

~'Nurse Jackie' (on hiatus 'til winter or spring)

~'U.S. Of Tara' (on hiatus 'til winter or spring)

**You can catch up on all these shows on 'Showtime On Demand'. Well worth the watch.


In the meantime, Showtime has produced a new show this season called 'The Big C' that is nothing short of brilliant starring film actress Laura Linney as Cathy, a suburban housewife and mom to a typical teenage son who discovers that she has a fatal form of Melanoma and is deciding to keep her diagnosis (and grim prognosis) to herself.

Always having been the 'good girl', she is changing all that now and taking control of what little life she has left by kicking her fun-loving but childish husband to the curb (played by the always wonderful and underrated, Oliver Platt) and living a no-holds-barred existence. Surrounded by her humorous but homeless brother and feisty older neighbor, Cathy is finding support in the unlikeliest of places.

Each season of the show deals with Cathy's last season: For example, this season's show takes place in summer (next shows season will be autumn, etc.).

Not sure how the producers tend to deal with her impending death and/or if Cathy will ever decide to tell her family about her cancer -- but whatever happens, dare I say, she makes this show fun to watch.













Over on HBO we have 'Bored To Death' (now in season 2) starring Jason Schwartzman as 'Jonathan Ames'; a one hit wonder novelist turned private investigator (via 'Craigslist' ads!) as a way to make ends meet -- and fight boredom. He finds himself in precarious situations in a film noir-esque manner that is a scream to watch!

Co-starring (are you ready for this?) Zach Galifianakis as Jonathan's best friend, Ray, and Ted Danson as George, his friend and sometimes boss.

In spite of my -- and America's -- on-going love affair with the hilarious Zach Galifiankis ('The Hangover'), it's Ted Danson who steals the spotlight here as Jonathan's stoner friend and the consummate 'wait for me guy' who never wants to miss out on anything -- er, regardless of what it is:

George: "Hi, Jonathan -- what are you doing?"

Jonathan: "Oh, hi George. I'm taking Ray to get a colonic."

George: "I want one! I want a colonic."

This series will steal your heart -- and if anyone can find it, it's 'Jonathan Ames'!

*Look for 'Bored To Death' on HBO Sunday nights and on 'HBO On Demand'.












Lastly, we have HBO's newest series 'Boardwalk Empire' -- produced by none other than Martin Scorcese -- starring the underrated, and one of my all time (and long time) favorite actors, Steve Buscemi ('Fargo') as Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson: a man who lives two lives as Atlantic City's upstanding Treasurer....and powerful gangster.

In addition to striking rich by the presence of Steve Buscemi, the set and costume designs alone are worth the watch: the creators actually reproduced Atlantic City's 1920's boardwalk which took months to build and recreate in order to further authenticate 'Boardwalk Empire'.

This series begins the tale of the uprising of the American gangster in 1920's Atlantic City at the beginning of prohibition.

You also see the rising of such gangsters as Al Capone as well as the yin/yang of Buscemi's character struggling with public image and civic duty...and greed.

As one character tells 'Nucky'; "You can't be half a gangster anymore".

I'm not so sure. If anyone can pull it off, it's Steve Buscemi and Martin Scorcese

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

WE THE PEOPLE


Hi, all. It's been a few weeks since I've posted and all I can really say for myself is -- I have no idea why.

Well, I have a few guesses: I've been battling my I.B.S. (Irritable Bowel Syndrome -- aren't you happy you tuned in???) or rather I should say, it's been battling me while I sit there (literally) like an unarmed soldier waiting hopelessly to be slaughtered by the enemy -- or have mercy shown on my person.

Stress does incredible things to ones body and spirit.

Also, been taking care of Juneau -- our now 10 week old Pomeranian.

The other reason I suppose is that I simply haven't been feeling particularly inspired.

I don't delude myself that every day there needs to be that moment of sought after enlightenment -- however, instead it's been all I can do just to brush my teeth.

I've been with stomach cramps and low energy and feel my depression kicking in worse than ever.

How could this possibly be with us planning a long awaited trip to Maine to see my best friend????

Because the logistics and planning of it are going to be a little tougher than we already thought it would be with the announcement that Ed's work is cutting overtime in half, thus making his income about a $1000 less a month -- money we were counting on to save for this trip, sock away in the bank and help pay for B's education.

It's truly a case of one step forward and two backwards and is going to take a tricky high wire act to pull off.

In other news, I am sad to see a very good blog friend (who's name out of respect and privacy I shall not give away) be chased off his blog by nothing short of vindictiveness and maliciousness.

This person who has given such inspiration to me and countless others -- who has been a great supporter and good friend -- decided voluntarily to shut down his blog due to someone contacting people in his family to 'tattle' on his blog content.

This friend is a survivor of horrific abuse and reached out to so many through his accounts by purging himself of the demons that plagued him.

A blog is ones own personal outlet to write about what they choose and for someone to seek it out only to use it against him dates back to the McCarthy era: the second coming of the Salem witch trials.

It's an umbrage and affront to our first amendment and something we should all take very personally.

I am so sorry to have seen this happen in a day and age where I thought red and yellow (cowardice) were behind us.

May blue skies be yours once again, my friend. You have my undying support always.

This comes just after this news:


"AOL News (Sept. 29) -- Iran sentenced a Canadian-Iranian blogger known as the Blogfather to 19 and a half years in prison and reportedly told his family they should be happy he was not sentenced to death.

Hossein Derakhshan, 35, was convicted for "cooperation with hostile states, propagating against the regime, propagation in favor of anti-revolutionary groups, insulting sanctities, and implementation and management of obscene websites," according to the conservative news site Mashreqhnews.ir, as translated by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.


Hossein Derakhshan, a Canadian-Iranian blogger known as the Blogfather, has been sentenced in Iran to 19 and a half years in prison. He has been a key figure in Iran's active blogging scene and a vocal advocate for free expression.
Derakhshan's former wife, Marjan Alemi, called the sentence "a tragedy," telling Canadian television CTV that she believed the regime had signaled a death penalty was imminent "so that when they give out 19 years, his family was actually happy."

'Such a long jail term has never before been imposed on a blogger in Iran and is indicative of a desire to make an example out of Derakhshan,' the advocacy organization Reporters without Borders said in a statement.

That judgment came amid reports that Isa Saharkhiz, 56, a prominent opposition journalist, was sentenced earlier this week to three years in prison, according to The New York Times: two years for insulting Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and another one for promulgating propaganda against the Iranian regime. At his trial earlier this summer, Saharkhiz appeared in leg irons and called for Khamenei's prosecution for countenancing what he said was the continued torture of political prisoners.

Saharkhiz's case grew out of Iran's disputed presidential election in June 2009, which led to large street protests and bloody conflicts between protesters and government security forces. According to Amnesty International, some 70 journalists are in Iranian prisons, many of them awaiting trial.

Derakhshan is something of a special case. Born in Iran, he went to college in Canada and later became a Canadian citizen. Under the name "Hoder," he became a key figure in Iran's active blogging scene, which some say he inspired by posting blogging instructions in Farsi 10 years ago, earning himself the Blogfather moniker.

Derakhshan remained a vocal advocate of free expression, but also became a supporter of the policies of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. According to Alemi, he was invited to return to Iran by an organization close to the president in 2008, but was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards once he got there and has been detained in Tehran's Evin Prison ever since. Reporters Without Borders calls him "a collateral victim of infighting between the Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian intelligence services."

Jeff Jarvis, a prominent U.S. blogger and new-media advocate, wrote that he was "personally heartbroken" by the sentence. "No matter what his opinions were or what opinions you may have had about him, that doesn't matter now. We should all be outraged," he wrote.

In a statement, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said Canada "was deeply concerned by reports of this severe sentence against Mr. Derakhshan," which its officials were still seeking to confirm. Cannon said Derakhshan's situation "is complicated by his dual nationality, which is not recognized by the Iranian authorities. Iran must release him and other dual nationals who have been unjustly detained."



::Back to your regularly scheduled program::

Shock and outrage do not begin to cover the spectrum of my emotions over this.

Then -- to wildly switch gears here -- comes last night's Miami Dolphins Vs. New England Patriots Monday night football game. Living with two die hard Miami Dolphins fans, it wasn't the brutal 27 point loss that disheartened me -- nor the disappointed look on Ed's and B's faces -- but rather the blatant disrespect of the halftime show.

With October being 'Breast Cancer Awareness Month', I was thrilled to see the NFL embracing PINK and commemorating this well deserved cause by everyone wearing pink ribbons and the players with pink gloves, mouth guards, cleats, etc.

Then comes the half time show where they exploited survivors by having them walk on the field -- only to then be surrounded by cleavage bearing, bouncing, silicone induced cheerleaders.

What a tasteless, disgusting act of vulgarity. These survivors -- and the audience -- weren't treated to awareness, but instead were treated to insensitivity.

Seems to be a recurring theme.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

STRANGER THAN DICTION


For those of you who like fiction -- I began a blog titled 'STRANGER THAN DICTION' (which you can get to from my profile page) where I am showcasing an original piece of work that I have been working on for over a year now. A few weeks ago I posted the prologue and today I just posted chapter one.

I hope you'll join me over there and give me your feedback.

Some people paint, sew, crochet, knit, do crafts, make jewelry---I write.

Much peace, serenity and creativity,
~Jo

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

BECAUSE SOMETIMES YOU JUST GOTTA


I did something BIG -- something huge that would normally require planning and agreement with all parties concerned (meaning Ed and B).

I made plans.

Not plans to go to dinner or what movie to see (both of which we rarely do) but major plans that will involve many details, researching and financial planning -- you are the first to know, even before Ed and B.

But allow me to intentionally digress here before I go even further. Last night was tense. Without naming names or giving away personal details, let me just say that suddenly and quite shockingly, things exploded here at home.

It's something that rarely occurs but when it does, it occurs big. Monumentally huge.

Ed went to bed upset and angry, I went to bed upset and angry and B just...left.

Apologies were made but the fact remains that things got personal and forgiving and forgetting won't be so easy this time.

There will be another person going with me to therapy on Friday -- the first time this has happened.

But that's not the plans I made.

A few days ago I posted about my calling my best friend in Maine, Sue. And how after just a few minutes of talking, we both felt like nothing had changed -- all the time and distance hasn't affected our friendship.

Out of the blue, she calls me this morning. How she knew I needed this is beyond me. With puffy and swollen eyes I had been battling with my emotions all morning, going over and over the events of last night...then she called.

And out of nowhere I made a promise. I made a promise to my best friend whom I haven't seen in 20 years.

I made a promise to her -- on this first day of Autumn -- that this coming summer, I am getting on a plane and flying to visit her. And I'm taking Ed and B with me.

This will come as news to them.

It came as news to me.

I think I'm just tired of hearing and reading about everyone else's fun and good times -- fun with family and friends. So, I'm cultivating my own life and the events in it.

I'm not a spontaneous kind of gal -- especially with something as big as this. Our two day Catalina Island trip took me two months of planning and the most spontaneous thing I've ever done was get my nose pierced, recently (yes, it hurt!).

It would seem I'm simply finding my salt.

This is one case where buyers remorse won't be setting in. This is something that's been a long time coming and I'm going through with it with no apologies.

With Sue's hectic work schedule as a cardiology nurse and family with problems just like every other, it would be impossible for her, financially and otherwise, to come here. So, I am coming to her...AND we're getting matching tattoos.

And I'm doing it as carefree as making dinner reservations or buying a movie ticket....because sometimes you just gotta.

Nike would be so proud.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE


Very often we read blogs and kind of go through the motions -- always reading and mostly caring (let's be honest) but not always connecting.

As you may know, I belong to 'SITS' blogging group which helps sway bloggers over to that days featured blog.

Today was just another such day and so, I meandered with as LITTLE enthusiasm as I could muster and found my way to 'ENJOYING THE SMALL THINGS' by Kellie (you can get to Kellie's blog under 'Blogs I Follow' in my profile).

I thought; "Great. Another 'Mommy Blog'. Yay."

Normally I steer away from the 'Mommy Blogs' -- no disrespect intended; as I wrote to Kellie myself, I just feel that as a Mom with two grown children, I've 'been there, done that' and prefer to read like-minded blogs instead.

It's just a personal choice and again, no disrespect was meant to those who dedicate their blogs to raising children. I've written many times in previous posts that were blogging available back when I was raising kids, I may very well have been one such 'Mommy blogger' myself.

What would I have titled it? I wonder...

*'Ed and me = C and B'?

*'C and B + 2 more = 4'?

*'The 4 Leaf Clover'?

*'Tales From One Exhausted, Ill Equipped And Well Intentioned Mama' seems more likely and appropriate because, as the great line from 'Terms Of Endearment' said, in regards to parenting: "As hard as you think it's going to be, you end up wishing it was that easy".

But I digress....

So, today I met Kellie -- not sure if she has met me yet. My long and verbose comment to her today will either compel her my way to meet this Kooky west coaster -- or frighten her and make her run for the hills.

As I wrote to Kellie, meanings and tone can be easily misunderstood in writing.

Especially since I'm not one who partakes in the overly used 'LOL' movement so popular in texts and chat.

Regardless, her post MOVED me...it moved me to tears in fact.

Kellie doesn't need me to 'follow her' -- Kellie has over 7000 followers.

Nonetheless, she now has one more.

Kellie, who hails from Florida, relayed the story -- and did so quite poignantly with beautiful pictures she took herself to boot! -- of how she connected with a Montana woman. She connected so well, in fact, that she flew with her two youngin's in tow to Montana to meet this woman, who also has two kids the same gender who are also right about the same age as Kellie's.

Reading her well written words about spiritual connection tugged at my heart.

It tugged so hard it made me pick up the phone and call my best friend, Sue, who lives in Maine and whom I haven't seen in nearly 20 years.

There's no real connection for me here where we reside, I know that now -- it's just simply a place we live and work. The connections I don't have, B does, and that's what's keeps us here.....but once upon a time, I had a friend. A good one. A best one. I still do, in fact.....

Sue and I met in high school when I moved to Colorado at the age of 14 to live with my Dad and step-Mom -- Sue lived down the street.

We got into plenty of trouble together and saw each other through the ups and downs of adolescence for the few years I was there. I always wondered how this good student and cheerleader and I became best friends. Me? This girl from southern California who left behind very few, if any, friends when I moved.

She was the epitome of my 'new beginning' there and although we couldn't be farther apart in this country now, we have still managed to transcend time and distance.

We weren't there for the milestones: we didn't make it to each others graduations, weddings and births of our children....but we still managed to maintain this friendship through the years -- I even have a framed picture of her and her husband on my rattan shelf in my living room. So, in a sense, I see her every day.

It had been a while since either of us had connected with the other; she's busy being a Cardiology nurse (who went back to school at the age of 40 to become so), wife, Mom to three grown children and a grandmother.

To hear her New England voice when she picked up the phone and to hear her say; "Jo Anne?" (as she's always called me even though it's Jo Anna -- she knows that, of course, and it tickles me every time!) as if I couldn't have called at a more perfect time, as if hearing my voice was just what she needed at that moment.

We couldn't talk long as she was waiting for a ride from her sister-in-law to go to a family birthday party but we managed to get in a few snippets: "Cassidy is in her second year of Junior college and works as 'Best Buy'...". "B is in junior college, too, oh, and we have a new puppy!"

She spoke briefly about her newly divorced older son and that her daughter, Cassidy and B would probably be good friends if they knew each other.

She has a middle son but we couldn't get to that as in the background her dog began barking alerting her, and me, that her ride had indeed arrived.

However, it matters not how brief the conversation, it was simply a few moments of comfort knowing that she was there, that I reached out and touched her today -- and in doing so she could never possibly know how much she has touched me.

One of these days, I said to myself, one of these days I am going to fly to Maine -- and reach out to my best friend.

So, thank you, Kellie, for your beautiful post today that made me reach out for a much needed connection.

I needed that -- and so do you.

Make that long overdue phone call, send a 'Thinking Of You' card or even purchase those airline tickets you've been putting off to go see a long lost friend.

Reach out and touch someone...and enjoy the small things.

Friday, September 17, 2010

MOON AND MERCURY MEET THE STARS


In an upcoming yet to be titled film biopic, Mike Myers will be playing KEITH MOON, the troubled and destructive drummer from 'The Who' (Ed's all time favorite band!) who -- in addition to having enormous talent -- was infamous for blowing up toilets and trashing the hotel rooms that housed them.













Keith Moon died in 1978 of a prescription overdose that was intended to treat his alcoholism.













Also up is Sacha Baron Cohen as 'Queen's' lead singer, Freddie Mercury, who died from complications of AIDS in 1991.


















My love of music -- and rock & roll in particular -- is evident in my new blog 'STRANGER THAN DICTION' (which you can get to from my profile page) where I am posting a story I came up with about love, life, coming of age and rock & roll in the late 1970's. Mostly fiction with little pieces of me and my family weaved through...

Thus, I am naturally quite interested to see the dynamics where these two stars take on two planets.

Brilliant, catastrophic casting!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

RE-POST THREE: THE KING AND I



In today's "SITS' challenge, we are to re-post a post we are particularly proud of.

Yesterday's post/challenge didn't garner any attention or comments and, I admit I'm becoming a bit weary of why I am doing this, is it going anywhere, is there a point and is there even anyone out there reading this?

I realize, of course, that this is inconsistent to my comment yesterday about not having that many comments and being okay with it.

I was never a popular gal (in school nor in life) and this blog of late is kind of re-enforcing and re-visiting those insecurities for me at the age of 44.

Call it peri-menopause or simply a case of 'cry-babyitis'. Either way, ignore it.

In any case, without further adieu, here is a post I wrote back in June about the Tudor Dynasty.

I am quite proud of this one as I consider it not only historically accurate but also well written with a myriad of information.

Hope you enjoy it.

'THE END OF A DYNASTY' written on 6/25/10:

A few nights ago Ed and I watched the series finale of 'The Tudors'. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Showtime series, 'The Tudors' was a four seasons long adaptation of the reign of King Henry VIII, whose last name, of course, was Tudor.

Starring in the titular role was the gorgeous Irish actor, Jonathon Rhys Meyers who artistically nailed King Henry's tyrannical demeanor.

Jonathon Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII










What Henry Tudor wanted, Henry Tudor got and Jonathon Rhys Meyers did a beautiful job of portraying someone whom we really have no idea how he sounded, walked or even looked as even the well known paintings of the infamous king should really be viewed with an abstract eye as most paintings of that era portray everyone -- men and women alike -- as pretty much looking the same with heavily lidded eyes and small mouths. I, personally and in my humble opinion, attribute this more to the artistry of the era rather than accuracy.

What we do know is that King Henry VIII changed the face of religion as we know it today and added divorce to our vocabulary.

Throughout the series, Ed and I remained perpetually in awe of this man who wielded unstoppable power.

*Season one saw Henry married to Catherine of Aragon of Spain, his brothers widow.












Maria Doyle Kennedy as Catherine Of Aragon












They have one child, a daughter; Lady Mary.

Henry, in addition to being King, of course, was also a virile man, supposedly quite good looking and charming allowing him to have any woman he desired in his bed chambers, and he did, having several illegitimate children along the way.

When he meets Anne Boleyn, it is then -- with Anne Boleyn's encouragement and manipulation -- that he becomes increasingly dissatisfied and distasteful of the much beloved by the people, Queen Catherine, who miscarried numerous times unable to bore him a son, with Henry then seeking to annul their marriage so he could marry Ms. Boleyn (whose older sister, Mary, as history tells it, allegedly bore the King's illegitimate son whom Henry wouldn't acknowledge).

When the pope refuses to grant him an annulment, Henry puts in motion to make himself the head of the Church Of England, thus making his own rules and religion and 'divorcing' Queen Catherine to marry Anne Boleyn.












Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn











Queen Catherine died shortly thereafter alone and in poverty by royal standards.

History: Lady Mary, of course, would later become known in her short reign as 'Bloody Mary' for her burning of hundreds of so-called heretics when she tried to reinstate Catholicism as England's only religion and denouncing protestants as heretics.













Sarah Bolger as Lady Mary








*In season two we see Anne Boleyn then crowned and married to King Henry as his second wife and already pregnant with Elizabeth who was born in September of that year. After several miscarriages thereafter and not producing Henry a son, he soon becomes bored with Anne and starts courting his future wife, Jane Seymour.

Cries of alleged heresy and incest with her brother surrounds Anne and she is soon imprisoned, tried for treason, found guilty (though she was not) and ultimately, infamously beheaded. Elizabeth was not yet three.

History:

Anne later becomes a sympathetic figure in the women's movement and their daughter, Elizabeth, 'The Virgin Queen', becomes the longest female ruler in England's history (this was, of course, prior to England being united with Ireland, Scotland and Wales to become the U.K. with the title then later belonging to Queen Victoria) with her reign known as 'The Golden years'-- she was the last of the Tudor dynasty.











Laoise Murray (right) as Elizabeth Tudor












*Season three opens with Henry marrying who is said to be the true love of his life, Jane Seymour, Henry's third wife.













Annabelle Wallis as Jane Seymour








Jane was said to be a gentle, agreeable woman and whom encouraged good relations with Henry's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, who went largely ignored by their father.

She gives birth to their son, Edward VI, but dies less than two weeks later from post-natal complications, sending Henry into a long period of grieving.

History: Jane Seymour was the only one of Henry's wives to receive a queens funeral.

Henry is then advised he must have a queen and it is arranged for him to marry Anne Of Cleves, a German noblewoman, who would become Henry's fourth wife.












Joss Stone as Anne Of Cleves











However, Henry is immediately dissatisfied in not being attracted to Anne and has the marriage soon annulled, bestowing upon Anne a home, generous income and the royal title of Henry's 'sister'.

Anne is particularly close to Henry's daughters and Henry and Anne remain good friends, often visiting and playing cards -- she becomes one of his confidants.


History:

Edward VI was nine when Henry died and thus became ruler of England under his maternal uncle's (Jane Seymour's brother, Edward Seymour) guardianship and guidance.

King Henry's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, were deemed illegitimate and therefore, not eligible at that time for ruling England: Mary was deemed illegitimate due to Henry's annulment from her Mother, Catherine Of Aragon. Elizabeth was deemed illegitimate due to her Mother's, Anne Boleyn's, execution.

Edward VI died when he was fifteen naming Lady Jane Grey, Henry's great-niece (oldest granddaughter of Henry's long deceased sister, Mary), the successor to Edward's throne.

Very soon after, Parliament declared Henry's eldest daughter, Mary, the rightful queen and reinstated her as such.

Lady Jane Grey was then executed less than two weeks after her succession to the throne for high treason.

Lady Jane Grey became a protestant martyr for centuries.

*Season four, and the final season, shows Henry now married to fifteen year old Catherine Howard, his fifth wife (and Anne Boleyn's cousin), with a renewed vigor for the aging king who is painfully afflicted with gout.












Tamzin Merchant as Catherine Howard











Catherine is young, immature, ill prepared and disinterested in her duties as queen. She is also immensely disliked by Henry's eldest daughter, Lady Mary.

Catherine's youth is the catalyst for her bad decisions, including allowing several people into her service who know of her past affairs as well as Catherine then beginning an affair with one of the Kings courtiers, Thomas Culpeper.

This is all soon found out and she becomes the second wife of Henry's to be tried for treason, found guilty (unlike Anne Boleyn, Catherine was guilty) and beheaded.

Catherine and Henry had no children.

History:

After her arrest, Catherine Howard admitted her past liaisons prior to meeting and marrying Henry but would never admit to an affair with Thomas Culpeper although it is alleged that her last words before the blade struck were: "I die a Queen, but I would rather have died the wife of Culpeper."

Upon her house arrest prior to being taken to the tower for imprisonment and, ultimately, her execution, it is said that Catherine Howard escaped the guards and ran to Henry screaming and begging for her life.

It is said Catherine's ghost still roams the palace halls re-enacting this scene.

The end of 'The Tudors' final season shows Henry's interest in Katharine Parr, a twice married protestant wealthy widow.












Joely Richardson as Katharine Parr











While she does not necessarily love Henry at first, she nonetheless marries him, thus becoming his sixth and final wife, and carries on her duties efficiently.

She is well informed, kind, intelligent and deeply loves Henry's children. In fact, it is she who reinstates the Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth back at the palace, thus, helping them grow closer to their father.

In spite of the new queens love for her, Lady Mary, due to her strong Catholic beliefs, goes on a quest to have her new protestant step-mother denounced as a heretic and tries, with the help of an ambitious and pious clergyman, to have her arrested.

Their plot is unsuccessful due to interference from Henry.

Katharine Parr and Henry had no children together.

History:

Prior to Henry's death -- at the age of 55 in 1547 -- he told Katharine that she will be treated and regarded as Queen of England even after his death. She was also granted a generous stipend from Henry's fortune and was given his blessing for her to remarry with no interference of her income and status.

She then married Thomas Seymour (another one of Jane's brother's), her fourth husband, six months after the kings death, causing a small scandal. Thomas Seymour and Katharine were having an affair prior to her marrying Henry, however, there is no evidence to suggest that the affair continued during her marriage to the king.

Katharine and Thomas Seymour had a little girl named Mary in August of 1548.

Katharine died a month after giving birth to Mary at the age of 35 due to post-natal complications, as was quite common back then. Katharine's husband, Thomas Seymour, was executed when Mary was one due to treason.

Not much is known about Mary Seymour although it is speculated that she was orphaned penniless as it is said her late Mother's wealth was later confiscated by the crown.

It is suggested that Mary Seymour didn't live past the age of ten after being passed around from family to family.

There are also speculations saying she indeed grew to see adulthood marrying a member of the household of Queen Anne Of Denmark.

Another theory suggests she became a lady in waiting to Elizabeth I.


The end of the series:

During the reign of King Henry VIII, we see him execute Sir Thomas More, Cardinal Wolsey, Secretary Cromwell and Lord Surrey -- all one time friends and advisers of the king.

In the end, we see a re-emergence of most of Henry's dead wives in the series finale come back to chide and taunt him in his near death state.










Henry is left with but one true friend, Charles Brandon, the one he's had the longest, and not since the death of Henry's beloved third wife, Jane Seymour, do we see such a decline and grief in the king as we do when Charles dies.












Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon












Henry, in a fit of uncharacteristic generosity, insists on Charles being buried in the royal cemetery, with full honors and fully paid for by the king.

It was this moment of immortality and rare humanity that touched me at the end of this series the most.

We don't see Henry die, instead we see him commission what will become the most famous painting of the king and as he sees it's unveiling, we see Henry reflecting back on the glory days of his reign, his loves, his children, his tyranny, his life.

We then see in slow motion the grim reaper on a white horse coming towards a youthful king....

Well done and....long live the king.