National Nurse's Week


To all those caring decent, hardworking, funny, brilliant, skilled, creative, thoughtful and compassionate nurses out there... A belated Happy National Nurses Week - I am honored to be in your company. 

Recently, a colleague forwarded this letter from a grateful patient...I thought you might like to know how we are perceived...

Dear Nurse, 
I wanted to thank you personally for teaching this old dog new tricks. 

I always thought that nurses were basically the doctor's handmaidens. I thought that the sexy little stereotype portrayed on television (with the nurse doing sex in the linen closet with whoever) was correct. I looked upon your profession badly, and I sincerely apologize. What I have found during my stay in your care, is a completely different story. I won't say you're not sexy, (because you are) but you made it clear you don't date patients - but, just in case I am leaving my number at the end here.

Anyway, this is what I want to say and I think each patient should be given a copy of this letter on admission to any hospital. 

So here goes my opinion of what every patient needs to know.
  1. You have been placed in the hospital for nursing care.
  2. The provider of that care is a well educated individual who unselfishly dedicates themselves to your health and well-being and is proud to be a nurse. Even though you may not like being told what things are good for you and what are not - the nurse telling you, does - to give you a chance to redeem your health and well-being.
  3. Your nurse will come in after your two-minute doctor's visit and re-explain everything the doctor told you in a way that you can actually understand it.
  4. Your nurse does more than you know and knows more than you think. She/he plans your care around your medical condition, emotional state and abilities to do for yourself.
  5. Your nurse provides support to you and your family, she/he is the link between you and the doctor, and the facility.
  6. Your nurse knows what medicine you need, when, and how to give it and even how it will act on your body in a cellular level. She knows what all the tubes and stuff are and what they are used for and what to look at them for. She knows when to tell the doctor that they prescribed an inappropriate medicine that would harm you.
  7. Your nurse will hold your hand and reassure you.
  8. Your nurse watches over you, reads monitors. She knows when you're sleeping and when you're awake.
  9. Your nurse is your lifeline. She can call a whole team of professionals together with her calm voice and make them work their butts off for your life in a flash.
  10. Your nurse will wish you luck and give you all the instructions you need when you leave her competent care. Even if you were the biggest pain in the ass she ever met.
  11. Your nurse is the reason why you will go onward. Be it home, perpetual care, or the morgue. She will insure that you do so with your dignity and rights intact. Why? Because it is what a nurse does.
Sincerely, ...

So there you have it. 
Although I don't recall who sent this to me, I know you are out there and I need to give you credit for sharing this great letter and inspiring this grateful patient.

Hope your National Nurse's Week was a good one.

More Murder Mystery Pictures...


Don Wannabe, Inspector Neville 'The Nose' Nutella, Rhett Bumbler and Jack "Greasy Thumbs" Giuseppi  making like they all get along
Your hosts of the evening festivities; 
"Madame" Meme Wannabe (the ex-hooker with a heart of gold) and her husband, Don Wannabe 

The "Sultry Songbird" Carrie Crooner-Ravioli 
getting a little up close and personal with Mr.Al Capone

Don "Big Jim" Ravioli cozying up to ex-wife Vicky Ravioli unfortunately, this little dalliance came to an abrupt end as "Big Jim" was soon knocked off.
Capo "Toto" Tequila putting the moves on Vanessa Crooner
Madam Meme ingratiating herself upon a member of the local press, "Flash" Mamcini
The "Baroness" Ravioli (Big Jim's momma) and 'her' lovely grand-daughter Miss Rebecca Ravioli

Tough Love


The other day over coffee, a friend told me about her twenty-two-year-old-college-graduate-working-full-time-son that was still living at home with she and her husband...'The Thing That Wouldn't Leave". "I'm sure he'll be moving into the nursing home with us" she said a little wearily. Free rent, food, utilities? Pleasant company? Why not?

Some kids have a need to eek out a space for themselves in this world of ours and some don't. I am a firm believer that those kids who 'don't' need a little nudge to get started. Encouraging a kid to get on with their life can be a tough one. Guilt plays a key role here especially in the multitudes of families that have been broken. It's important to note that there is nothing wrong with these 'hangers on' it's just that they kinda like the comfort, money, food and lack of responsibility that living at home offers them. Nobody said it would be easy to get out on their own but I am convinced that coddling an adult just makes for an adult that still acts like a kid.

In my family, it was made clear to all of us that when we were finished with school we were expected to get a job and if we chose to stay home for a while, we were to pay rent for room and board. No guilt there as both our parents still lived in the same home with us and still ruled. There were no exes, step-parents, alliances or other baggage to get in the way of common sense.

After graduating from high school, one of my siblings decided that she preferred to live at home and suck up any and all benefits that staying with mom and dad offered. College would have to wait for a year as she wasn't sure what she wanted to do yet and in her opinion, "there was no hurry". Occasionally, she was seen perusing newspaper "for jobs" after getting out of bed at noon,  but working every day really did not hold a great appeal for her.
One morning, Dad woke my sibling's sorry-ass up and told her to "get dressed - we're going downtown". "Why?" she asked. "I'll tell you when we get there" he said.

As they reached the center of Toronto's massive business district in the pouring rain, Dad pulled his pick-up truck over and (reportedly) said, "Get out, call me to pick you up when you've got a job."
My royally pissed-off sibling took cover from the rain in closest building. Without any other foreseeable options, she eventually made it to Human Resources, filled out an application, took a typing test and was offered a menial job. Despite not knowing anything about the company who hired her, her mission was accomplished and after partying with a friend in the city, she called Dad to come get her.

The company that she was now an employee of was one of the largest publishing companies in Canada. Throughout her tenure there, she created a successful niche for herself in sales.

Was it one of the hardest things my dad had to do? Was it one of the wisest things he did?

I'll bet it was.

Murder Mystery Party


OMG. It was a hoot!

It was my brother-in-law's 50th birthday and after searching the web for a decent "Murder Mystery Party" I found  Dinner and a Murder. Impressed with the attention to detail and the fact that they also have a website where you can send character profiles and invitations electronically, I ordered the boxed set for about $60 US. "Murder at the Four Deuces" was chosen largely for the fact that it would be less of a hassle to get guys to dress up as gangsters.
Set in the late 1920's prohibition era, a murder occurs at the grand opening of The Four Deuces, a speakeasy with very close connections to the mob. Guys were dressed as gangsters and girls were flappers. As anticipated, the guys were cool with the dress code.          

Fortunately, (The Birthday Boy) Inspector Neville 'The Nose' Nutella just happened to be attending the gala event as part of an ongoing investigation.

Inspector Nutella 'working' the murder investigation with the lovely Vicki Ravioli

The theme-appropriate Birthday Cake - handmade by Vicki Ravioli - Inside? Red Velvet.
From left: Rebecca Ravioli, Al Capone, Carrie 'The Sultry Songbird' Crooner-Ravioli (entertaining us with a little ditty - a capella), Vanessa Crooner
"Flash" Mancini (boy reporter), Baroness Ravioli (ok- so not all of the guys were gangsters), Rebecca Ravioli
In total,fourteen guests attended the Grand Opening of The Four Deuces. The color scheme was black, red and white, the food was Italian (of course) and the atmosphere was hilarious.

See More Murder Mystery Party...



Chaos. It all started with Sandra Bullock and Jesse James...

Since then, I have had several girlfriends come to me with relationship issues, anxiety reactions and/or feelings of depression. 
It seems to me that a little 'universe shift' is underway and I feel a need to address it...

Now, don't get me wrong - I'm no 'Oprah' but there are a few things that I know for sure...
- When in doubt, ask yourself... "Am I better with or without him (...her, it)?"
- Taking prescribed antidepressants does not mean that you are crazy.
- Creating a 'vision' for your future can create a self-fufilling prophecy.
- Forgive yourself for past mistakes. "When you know better, you do better." Maya Angelou
- Make a conscious effort to encourage good people to come into your life and actively encourage      negative people to leave it.
- Be nice. "Niceness does not equal stupidity" (or something along those lines). Cher
- When you hear the wind whispering through the leaves of the trees, feel embraced by your friends    and family who have passed away.
- At the onset of an anxiety attack, try inhaling through your nose, to the count of..."one, one      thousand /two, one thousand/three, one thousand/four, one thousand" and then exhaling through pursed lips to the count of ..."one, one thousand/two, one thousand/three, one thousand/four, one thousand. Do this 4 or five times. This exercise helps to prevent full-blown panic attacks. It really works. Been there.
- Snapping a rubber band on your wrist is a helpful way to stop obsessing about things you cannot control before you let your mind get out of control..
- Reach out and help somebody out, anybody. A simple phone call to somebody who doesn't get a lot of phone calls would do the trick. It will take your mind off of things.
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Mother's Day


Thinking of Mom on Mothers Day...
I thought it was right to re-run this post ...

My mother was a great pie-maker and a hoot!

Marguerite Marie (Garnier) Young, known to friends as “Marg or Meg” passed away on the anniversary of Elvis’ death in 1997 at the age of 67 (or 68). She was never quite sure of her birth year as she had two birth certificates, dated a year apart. She would have chosen 67. I choose 68.

Mom was very colorful and not at all like the ‘other moms’. Her speech was salty, she liked a beer or two on occasion, smoked cigarettes (but oddly, never inhaled) and had a wicked sense of humor. There were times that as a child, I would be “so embarrassed” by her blatant disregard for what we now refer to as ‘political correctness’. She thought I needed to ‘loosen up a little’. Mom ‘called it as she saw it’ and if you didn’t like it – leave. She laughed easily and heartily…actually, that’s an understatement.
One to wear only lipstick and powder, I once tried to convince her to add a little eye make-up. Refusing it she said, "Joanie, you can’t even have a decent laugh with that shit on your face.”
If you were her friend, you were loved and you knew it. If you ‘crossed’ her, you only did it once and you knew it. Everyone was her friend until proven otherwise and loyalty was essential in her relationships. She was a caring and compassionate soul – and as sharp as a tack.

Not unlike many women of her time, in the 1950’s and 60’s, mom was a housewife and mother. There were four of us screaming kids and we were all about two years apart. We were raised Catholic and attended parochial school. One morning, at breakfast in the early 60’s, it was announced (on the radio) that the birth control pill was being made available to the public, but that the Pope had deemed it a sin should a Catholic woman take the pill in order to prevent pregnancy. I recall my mom simply saying, “Well then, when the Pope starts having my babies, then he can tell me to stop taking the pill.” Enough said. Mom remained a faithful, sacrament-taking, confession-going, birth control pill taking Catholic.

Although the stories about mom are endless, this is one of my favorites...

It was after her funeral, that friends and family from all over gathered at mom and dad’s house. I couldn’t help but notice one particular woman (who I didn’t recognize) sobbing as she was looking at pictures in a family photo album. I sat down beside her and introduced myself. “Were you one of my mom’s good friends?” I asked. With tear-filled eyes she looked at me resolutely, squared her shoulders and said, “No, I was her sister.”
Who knew? I had an aunt that I was unaware of. I knew mom’s family history was a little complicated but I had to find out more. After giving my new aunt a big hug and encouraging her to continue going through the album, I headed straight to the-one-who-knows-everything-in-the-family, my sister, Bobbie. “So, who’s mom’s sister?” I said nodding toward the grief-stricken woman I had just spoken to. “Oh, that’s just Mary” she said.

The story goes that mom met Mary, a poor, simple-minded woman who lived not too far away. One day, Mary called her and announced that she had reason to believe that they were sisters. Without missing a beat, mom decided… “What the hell, if she thinks I’m her sister, I’ll be her sister. It can’t hurt.” Following Mary’s declaration, mom would bring her food and clothes – remembering her on her birthday, Christmas and special occasions. She treated her like a sister and never told Mary that she doubted it.

I loved that about mom.

Biker Party


My big brother, Vic has always loved motorcycles so coming up with a theme for his Surprise 50th Birthday Party a few years ago was easy...The invitations, the cake, cocktail napkins and a poster all sported this caricature of my big brother.

Vic has always had a "no frills" approach to life so, the invitations were mailed in brown paper bags.
The color scheme was black and chrome.Old childhood photos were blown up, laminated and posted around the house - I couldn't find a baby picture of him so I just used this one ....
It seemed right.

The 'dress code' was 'Biker Chic' and no one disappointed.

Party fare was 'Beer, Barbeque and BS' - served up buffet-style in tool boxes with red bandanas used as dinner napkins and jelly jars as glassware.  Tables were covered in black and the centerpieces were metal boxes with toy motorcycles glued onto them (all procured from various thrift stores) and placed on 12 inch round mirrors.

Forced (by me) to 'suit up' into his complete fire-fighting gear, my sweet husband presented the birthday boy with his 50-candle fire-hazard of a birthday cake...

 After the party - Vic, with his sons Robert & Thomas our Dad and I...

Dear Oprah,


Dear Oprah,
It comes as no surprise to me that your show will be nothing but an archive in 2011 and you have kept us well informed of your plans but it is just killing me that you are leaving the show.
Needless to say, I guess I have been in denial these past few months since I heard of your decision and yes, I admit to experiencing a little anticipatory grief so I would like to take this opportunity to bid you "farewell".

Little did you know that our friendship began back in the mid-eighties when you encouraged women to "puh-lease put your bras back on!" (at last - the voice of reason) and had us to 'look within' and make peace with ourselves.
For over the past twenty years, we struggled with our bad hair days, our weight, our pasts, our good and bad relationships. You introduced me to my "Inner Child" and educated me on topics that spanned the widest of  spectrums - from racism to thread counts. You allowed me to share friendships with Gail and Nate. You encouraged me to start reading books again and step outside of my 'comfort zone' (I must say that I didn't quite 'get' Eckhart Tolle but maybe I'm not quite 'there' yet) -  I loved "The Pillars of The Earth", "The Help" and "Edgar Sawtelle". You taught me about creating my 'vision' for life and about allowing myself to listen to what the universe is telling me. Most importantly, you taught me to forgive myself by quoting your friend Maya Angelou ..."When you know better, you do better". That quote has become my mantra. Your presence in my life has been enriching and I am a better person because of you and for that I will always be grateful.
Thanks Oprah.

Your BFF, 

Scattering Terry's Ashes


This summer, we will remember our eldest brother, Terry and honor his last request by casting his cremated remains into the sea.

See; Remembering Terry

Terry was not much for organized religion so we have opted out of having a big Catholic Mass for him despite the fact that we have had plenty of gracious offers to organize one. He has been gone for over a year and we feel certain he is quite settled now. 

Being somewhat pragmatic in my general approach to things, I thought it might be useful to Google “rituals for scattering ashes at sea” in order to incorporate some form of spirituality into this event while remaining true to Terry’s beliefs. 

Cremation Solutions is the first of many websites that I found on that topic…  "When scattering ashes over a body of water a water-soluble urn can enhance the experience. These urns are specifically designed to gradually disperse the ashes back to the sea. Ashes can be cast directly into the water, but will often blow back at the boat and cling to the sides of the boat. This can be both frustrating and unsightly. A water-soluble urn will usually float for several minutes then slowly sink where it will degrade or melt back to the sea."

Who knew? 

I even found helpful step-by-step instructions on how to cast ashes off of a boat...
  1. Travel 3 miles off  coast
  2. Turn Boat into wind
  3. Drop anchor -This will lessen the chances of the remains blowing back on you or the passengers
  4. If you are pouring the ashes directly into the water, get down close to the water to avoid splash-back.
Note to self... Get a Water Soluble Urn.

Continuing on in my quest, I learned of a plethora of 'cremain' options out there.

Did you know that you can choose to have your loved one compressed into a manufactured diamond or precious stone suitable for display in rings or pendants? A glass tile? You can even choose to don a 'wearable urn' (actually it's a locket) with a small amount of the departed's ash in it. Or, and this is my favorite... become made into a reef then placed into the sea for fish to use as a habitat? How about being blasted off into space or being mixed in with fireworks? The possibilities seem endless. 

So, as I prepare for this final farewell, I have come to feel certain that my brother Terry, resides not in his ashes but in the hearts of all those who loved him.

12 Weird Things to Do With Cremated Remains

Paranoid in South America

Anticipating travel to South America was both exciting and scary. Admittedly, reports of muggings, kidnappings and police corruption go...