Knit Wit Living

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Archive for the tag “grief”

December 2015 Reading Report – Books Read

December is a good month for reading.  For those of us not preoccupied with holiday activities, there is plenty of time to read (bead, knit, etc.) and bookstore sales to help feed the hunger.

The second half of December is very quiet in my office.  A lot of people take this time off, which provides those of us still at work the opportunity to catch up on the little tasks that just never get done.  However, enough is enough, and I only worked two days this week.  I would love that to be my new norm. 2 work days each week, but full time pay.  That would be nice!!

I think a lot of people were reading this month because I received 5 books from my library holds list.  The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman didn’t even make it to this month’s Reading list. I just knew I wouldn’t get through the other books, so I re-entered its Hold line.

Slade House by David Mitchell had been on my To Read list, and LD gave it to me as a holiday gift.  Its reviews referred to it as a haunted house story, so I did not want to read it before bed!  I spent two hours one afternoon to read it.  Among the many reviews –

“An eerie haunted house tale that takes as much from quantum mechanics as from traditional supernatural lore.”

Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author

I read it in one sitting because I knew if I put it down, it would be unlikely that I would pick it up again.  The characters were not really developed, except perhaps the Slade House inhabitants; I would not recommend it, but I’m glad I read it so I can take it off my list!

Books Read December 2015

TitleAuthorRating
Stringing, Winter 2016
icon
MagazineGood
Betsy BeadsBetsy HershbergThumbs Up
How to be BothAli SmithSo far so good
Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes--But Some DoMatthew SyedOnly a little way in
Slade HouseDavid Mitchell2 stars
1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover's Life ListMimi SheratonDownloaded a Sample - on the fence about next step
Season of Salt and HoneyHannah TunnicliffeNot for me (see below)
Four Funerals and a WeddingJill SmoloweWhat was I thinking?
The Rosie ProjectGraeme SimsionUgh
100 Days of HappinessFausto BrizziNot for me (see below)
The Improbability of LoveHannah Rothschild3 stars

The Improbability of Love was my primary read this month. I give it 3 stars because I skipped a lot of pages that just seemed to be extraneous story telling, but there were 2 primary concepts that kept me engaged. The main character, Annie,  is recovering from divorce and restarting her life. She buys a painting in a thrift shop on a lark, and part of the story that was interesting is about discovering its origins and artist. The other portion of the story that really fascinated me was about her work as a cook for large dinner parties that were based on certain paintings. She would research the food, decor, etiquette and customs of the time of the painting, as well as the painter’s and the painting subject’s lives, and then create a meal and decorations around it. The author should have done more writing in this vein, rather than some of the other avenues she chose.

December 2015 Reading

I’ve really just started How to Be Both, but it seems to be somewhat similar in taking an older painting and seeing how it re-introduces itself in modern life: “How to be both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.”

December 2015 Reading

I believe I was undergoing some unconscious need for grief counseling or moving on or something this month, when I selected Season of Salt and Honey, Four Funerals and a Wedding, and 100 Days of Happiness. Okay, yes for this theory with Four Funerals and a Wedding which is blatantly described as “With humor and quiet wisdom, and with a lens firmly trained on what helped her tolerate and rebound from so much sorrow, she offers answers to questions we all confront in the face of loss, and reminds us that grief is not only about endings it’s about new beginnings.” I only got this as a sample, because I hate trite sentimentality like “not only about endings it’s about new beginnings.” I think I knew I wouldn’t like it, but somehow couldn’t resist. Then, Season of Salt and Honey was from my library’s Holds list. By the time the book’s in my queue, I’ve forgotten what it’s about or why I wanted to read it. Given my recent trip to Italy, I can see why I might have been attracted to this novel: “A NOVEL OF LOVE, GRIEF AND ANTIPASTI.” However, it starts out at the Italian equivalent of a shiva for the main character’s fiance. That was enough for me. Done. Book over. Finally, I don’t know what I was thinking when I put 100 Days of Happiness on my account as a Hold. “What would you do if you knew you only had 100 days left to live? For Lucio Battistini, it’s a chance to spend the rest of his life the way he always should have—by making every moment count” drew me in for some reason. When DDSO was undergoing chemotherapy, he sent emails to his friends about his experiences. This book reminded me of that. I definitively closed the book and said if I wanted to read this, I would look for those emails. Enough said. No thanks.

December 2015 Reading

I downloaded a sample of Mimi Sheraton’s 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover’s Life List. (I like using the word “sample” with this book because it always makes me smile thinking about getting a sample of each food!) I perused the first chapter, which is centered on English and Scottish food. As one of my friends said, English food is not even supposed to be good – why is that included?! Maybe the author was starting off with the simpler foods in life – like cheddar cheese and clotted cream. Anyway, I think it might be fun to have this book and check off foods as I have them. I haven’t quite decided if this is what I want to do. Maybe a library book version next?

 

 
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Journaling

Journaling is comforting. It’s a nice way to reflect on what happened that day, and to keep memories of daily activities.

I have a 10 year daily journal, where each page has 10 years’ worth of entries. I have 2 1/2 more years to complete it.

The first year, at the top of the page, includes the experience of meeting DDSO and hitting it off right away. We met online, spoke for hours on the phone for a week, met for dinner. That was it.  We were so alike and knew how each other thought that there really was no courting period, save the first week on the phone.

Last year was really difficult, reading about the good times and the suffering years later.  All of it made me sad.

I did make a mistake in 2006 where I was just so happy with DDSO that I didn’t write that much down.  Now I look at the blank entry fields and just sigh knowing that, in this case, blank equals happy.  It’s also made me more strict with myself to write an entry no matter what.

In January 2012, I also started an electronic journal. I use the (free) 280 Daily site where you get 280 characters to record your day.  Some days it’s a little challenging to keep it to the limit, other days it’s way too many characters to fill!  You can also save pictures with entries, and the ability to mark an entry as a “Day of Note.”

280 Daily Statistics

In the first year after DDSO passed away, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue the 10 Year Journal.  After awhile, I decided to finish it. I wanted to show the story of me becoming happy again.  Right now I’m at the point of becoming “not sad,” and am looking forward to the “being happy.”  I am happier these days, rather than sad, but I’m still comparing how I’m feeling. I need to get to the place where I just am happy, without thinking about it.  But I’m not pressuring myself. I know I’ll get there.

I wonder why both journals?

Surprisingly, they each have their own flavor and don’t necessarily have the same recollection for the same day. I almost faithfully write my 280 daily entry each evening, whereas I enter the handwritten one the next morning.  Both are somewhat reflective, but I often have a different perspective on the day after a night of sleep.  Additionally, the handwritten one provides more room and I can concentrate or expand on one specific topic if I wish.

Overall, I want to finish the 10 year collection, but also like the more succinct entries that need to fit a certain size.

No decision. Or rather, the decision to continue with both.  For now anyway.

“Have a Great Weekend!”

I still am a little angry with DDSO for getting colon cancer and leaving me. I know it’s not his fault he got sick although if he had had a colonoscopy at the age of 50, it might have been detected sooner. But then I tell myself that this might have meant that he would have started chemotherapy earlier and he would have died before we could spend that  little bit of extra time together.

And I truly believe that the chemotherapy helped kill him. I don’t understand how dumping poison into one’s body is supposed to make you healthier.

The poison is kind of like Round Up (made by Monsanto) which is only supposed to target weeds and keep the genetically modified seeds/plants alive.

Chemotherapy medicine is supposed to target the cancer cells and not touch the other ones?

In the meantime, there are horrific side effects.  The patient ends up taking a slew of other medications to combat all the chemotherapy side effects.  And then there are side effects to the medicines combating the chemotherapy side effects. It is a miserable existence.

I have a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer, in one breast. She chose to have a double mastectomy, and had one dose of chemotherapy.  The treatment devastated her. She told me that she lay down on a chaise in her backyard after the treatment.  Her neighbor called the police because she appeared to be dead.  My friend decided not to have any more treatments, changed her eating habits to all natural and many vitamins, and take her chances.  In today’s world, run by pharmaceutical brainwashing, that was a brave decision.

She is still here and DDSO is not.

Yes, I am aware there are many different variables around the two cases.  It’s all about choices. Ones that we all hope we never have to make.

Weekends are the worst for me. DDSO and I spent Tuesday evenings and weekends together. We had plans to live together.  Then he got sick; his doctors were closer to his home, my children were still home, and then he died, so we never got to that Paradise.

...as long as we're together...

…as long as we’re together…

DDSO used to say “It doesn’t matter what we do as long as we’re together.”

We were somewhat exclusive when we were together. We enjoyed each other’s company so much that we were fine not making social plans.  We did get together with friends every now and again, but it wasn’t necessary.

That makes weekends difficult.  Still.

I am going to pick myself up and go do the same, or the same type of, weekend activities that DDSO and I did together. Now I get to go to Trader Joe’s, do work around the house, garden, make gazpacho, etc. on my own, or with friends.   Even though the activities are the same, the experience is not. Life is different.

Disclaimer: This post is merely reflecting my personal experiences and observations. I am aware that chemotherapy has helped many people overcome cancer.  I do not intend to disparage anyone’s decision to partake in chemotherapy.  It’s all about choices.

Long Island Medium

My DDSO hated reality TV shows. After he passed away, I started watching Long Island Medium. I could feel his spirit next to me admonishing me for watching a reality TV show about spirits.  “You don’t need a medium or a reality TV show to know that I am with you!” he’d tell me. It was just like him. I’d laugh and cry at the same time.

Teresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium, would probably never be my friend. She would probably drive me crazy with her carrying on over her regular life.  But she moves me every time she does a reading and brings meaning to the person who is grieving.  She has helped me figure out what life is supposed to be like now.  The latest lesson I learned was when one of the spirits told a loved one to “Embrace Life.”

DDSO always wanted me to be happy.  He would sacrifice his wishes to make sure I was happy.  What a lovely man.  Since he was on chemo and then he passed away, I have been struggling with how to be happy.  Is it “moving on?”  “Letting go?”  I think “Embrace Life” is perfect.

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