Denise Dances: A Return to Perfect Health - Body, Mind & Spirit!

Monday, December 29, 2008

"Marley and Me"

"Marley and Me" Yesterday, on Sunday, I went to see a matinee in Niantic, "Marley and Me," opting out of morning mass, because I had a serious stomach virus, which dissipated enough for me to take in an afternoon show. I'm having a hard time writing this, so I may not get done today. I just want to get it out there so I can come back to it. I always finish what I start. Fortunately, my stomach virus is going away, so I must be making the right decision! :) (Whatever it takes!!) What I expected to be a funny movie first turned out to be a seemingly bland commentary on how mediocre married life can be! However, as the movie progressed, some depth was revealed. Not so shallow, like the pool and the house in Florida! Jennifer Anniston and Owen Wilson played a couple who got engaged and married, "all the trappings." Very boring to me, unlike "4 Christmases." The wife felt something was missing from their staid lives, both as writers for a newspaper in Florida, "the perfect couple," blond and beautiful, good jobs, great neighborhood, etc. So they got a dog. While driving in the car in the Florida suburb, reggae music played on the radio and that is where the dog got his name, "Marley," for Bob Marley!! The dog seemed to do all the wrong things. Bumbling, he chewed up the furniture, defecated frequently in the backyard or other places, ate mangoes (which didn't help), embarrassed his master by doing his duty in the ocean when he was unleashed (which ruined it for all the other dogs and the police came!) Eric Dane, who I remember from the TV drama series, "Charmed" played Owen Wilson's best friend. A carefree, but ambitious sort, who vacationed in tropical paradises with a babe on each arm. Wrote freelance for the New York times, covered illegal drug trades and the like until he was offered a full time position at the Times! Of course, he didn't understand how Owen could be happy with his wife, the dog, and eventually three small children in a crowded house in the Florida suburbs and often questioned his friend about his lifestyle. Anniston got what she wanted. She liked her job, but quit to be a full time, stay at home mom. The movie revealed unexpected depth for me when Anniston first found out she was pregnant. Upon having an ultrasound, it was revealed the baby had no heartbeat. She became so depressed and despondent. I could relate, as it can be dark reality for almost any woman when she finds out she can't have kids. For whatever reason. Finally, she does get pregnant and gives birth to a healthy child. But then comes the post partum depression! Another surprise for me in the movie was that I came to like Owen's boss. Older, he seemed a little tough at first, told it like it was, brutally honest in the initial interview at the Florida newspaper. But he understood women and post partum depression, as he was married!! He told Owen to "buy her a gift" when she became overweight, bloated, nauseous, that "there was no glow," and she would say, "You did this to me!!" He also said that his wife once held a hatchet to his head during post partum depression. Owen started by covering methane and propane leaks, fires, etc. His boss assigned him to write a column one week and that was it! Normal, every day stuff, about the dog, the kids, life in suburban Florida and it was a hit! His boss told him this is what he should be doing and he doubled his salary. For some reason, though, Owen was never satisfied. He started complaining when he turned 40 about the over population of high rise condos in Florida, the crime, the stabbing that took place in his own backyard, the hunger problem, etc. His boss sagely said, "That happens everywhere. Do what you do best. You're a great columnist." I felt very bad to see Owen leave his job at his wife's urging and move to the country outside Philadelphia to take a more "important" job at a newspaper there. His boss, a terse black man told him to write "less you, more facts." Owen remained unhappy because he felt his boss went through all of his writing with a fine-tooth comb. Can you see why I would feel extreme hate for the personality of this particular boss?? At the end, the family dog Marley becomes ill. As the audience realizes the end is near, there is a lot of sniffling and pent up emotion. An overly quiet movie theater during emotional scenes is one of my worst scenarios. Why can't people just cry out loud? (Like the Italians do?) Anyway, I was able to reign in my emotions, even during the final scene, after Marley's passing, burial, and memorial service, which the family held in their backyard and included their three children. At the very end of the movie, Owen says: "A dog doesn't care about fancy cars, designer clothes, luxury homes. You give him your heart and he loves you for who you are. How many people can you say that about? How many people can appreciate you for the rare, beautiful person you are?" I got to my car. I sensed Paula there. I know she was telling me to sit there and wait. I cried and cried, saying, "I know you're here Paula! I know you're here." I knew because after we saw the movie, "King Kong" about three years ago, she knew how uncomfortable I was with the treatment of this majestic animal. And she purposely pushed my buttons so that I would yell at her and let it out! On the way home, I chose to take the highway, so that I could drive by her house. Again.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE" (Featuring Paula Oddbody, Angel, First Class)

Hi! Often these days, when I stay at home alone, long enough, I sense Paula's presence, here with me. Glimpsing sudden shadows out of the corner of my eyes. Jumping suddenly. Used to be just shadows, aspects now giving way to glimmering white imagery. Of late, I sense a more shimmering white image of her. Yesterday afternoon, during a snowstorm, I beheld the strongest image of her yet. Standing at the kitchen sink, I "saw" her, just for a moment. Suddenly startled by shadows, I glanced toward my front hallway. And glimpsed Paula in "angelic array." Just for a second or two. The familiar long, ash blond hair is what I "saw" first. In a shimmering white gown, flecked with hints of blue, her flowing form glided across the floor. Slimmer than her earthbound body, the one I felt was "my pillar of strength." A side view of her heavenly form floated toward my front door, exiting to the hallway. Probably to go f--- with my neighbors!! :) When upon whom divers calamaties suddenly beFALL....Beware!...Don't you dare gloat! Merry Christmas, Denise! THE GHOST WHISPERER Last week, as I drove by Paula's house, I saw a familiar white van parked on the street in front, with the blue words inscribed: "Clear Plumbing Systems" ("Don't sleep with a drip tonight.") Yes, this is a plug. (Jimmie Bletsch, out of Norwich, CT) Eagerly parking my car across the street, like I used to, when I would pick Paula up, I climbed up Konomoc Street, entering her backyard via sidewalk, and knocked on her back door, to chat with the new co-owner of 190 Vauxhall Street. And found Jimmie the plumber, tearing up the bathroom. He just removed the tub, which had housed four baby possums, all deceased. He said the cold probably "freeze dried" them, what I think would have happened to me if I had stayed alone in my apartment with my health conditions too much longer!! Spiky black and white fur, their teeth bared, they all lay on the ground in the back yard now. "Probably starved," he said. "Maybe it was her way of taking care of them," I said. Jimmie the plumber "moonlights" as a ghost whisperer, but doesn't charge for those services. He says the spirits come to him and talk to him inside his head. He said the spirit doesn't die. Rather, the spirit "dumps" the body. Once they leave their earthly bodies, the spirits hold no grudges. The spirit is an "entity" which cannot by sensed by most. Powerful, limitless, they can go anywhere, even choosing to follow a loved one for a while. They can stay here on earth for as long as they want. "Last I heard, she was sightseeing," he said. Seems my buddy has been trying to tell me to, "Let go of the controls, Denise." That we are not always in control. When we have done all we can do, we have to -- LET GO AND LET GOD. This is a message which was imprinted on a photo card of Paula, taken on her last trip, which was to Brooklyn, NY, I believe with New London Adult Ed in April 2007. These cards were given out at Paula's memorial service in July 2007, all of which was beautifully handled by the members and her friends at St. James Episcopal Church in New London. Since I've had some trouble, throughout my life, with the idea of a man being in charge, it seems God sent me Paula to be my appointed angel, an idea far easier for me to grasp. Moments before my friend picked me up for Paula's memorial service, a charm fell off of my Avon bracelet. Upon a closer look, the gold charm is in the shape of a heart. Inside the heart, the face of an angel cups its chin, pensively, two large wings spanning outwards. "Paula just earned her wings!" I shout in triumph. Merry Christmas, Denise! (Denise....Bailey??) (Circa "It's a Wonderful Life," Frank Capra, 1946) CONCERT FOR THE HOLIDAYS "On Sunday, December 21st, the United States Coast Guard Band presents two concerts for the holidays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. The matinee, designed to be family friendly, is one hour in length." Did I go? You bet I did! The winter storm caused quite a fury. I wasn't sure if the Coast Guard would have its two free concerts or postpone them. I called several times and left a message. Around 1:00, on a whim, I decided to call one more time. Although it was already "decided" that I would stay home. The sweet, feminine voice of Lisa Williamson answered the phone. Yes, they were having the 2:00 concert, but probably not the seven o'clock. "We'd love to have you come. But please drive carefully if you do," she said politely. I told her gladly that I enjoy hearing her sing! So I shovelled my car out of the melting snow as it now rained. With great trepidation, I drove the slushy streets of New London, across town to the Coast Guard Academy. I walked into a less than full auditorium as MU1 Lisa Williamson, soprano, sang in a beautiful long red gown, a series of holiday carols from around the world. Finally, she sang "Go Tell It On the Mountain," to which the band rambuntiously played! (Later, in the car, I sang it in a high voice on my way home, "laughing all the way.") Nearby, the Christmas tree glistened elegantly, adorned in white lights among cranberry and gold ornaments. Next, the little ladies from the Imperial Academy of Dance performed in brightly colored, eclectic costumes, to a melange of Christmas melodies. Jill Holt was the proud director of the little dancers and the ever "young and hot," in my opinion, Richard Wyman, conducted the Coast Guard Band Jazz Combo. "The Night Before Christmas" was narrated by CDR Kenneth W. Megan, who is quite handsome up close, as I saw while shaking his hand as the audience exited the auditorium to go back into the storm. During "Sleigh Ride," which I love anyway, I keenly felt Paula's joyful presence within the music -- Her mischievous, merry, joyful, light and airy, everywhere -- Christmas "presents!" Always joyful and rambunctious during these concerts in life, now her joy was palpable. I felt ready, at last, to grab some o' that joy for myself!! Denise 12/23/08

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Something Wicked This Way Came -- and Went?" "YES, DENISE. IT WENT!!"

Hi! NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND Apparently, there has been an "underground control system" at work in the building where I have lived for the past eight years, "Westridge Gardens." Of which I was unaware until the past year. Of course, no one believed me. "Oh yeah. Psych patient. She's got it going on. This place is NICE." CAN LIGHT EXIST IN THE DARKNESS? Indeed, when I viewed my living quarters via satellite on the web, I saw "extreme blackness." Black pitch rooftop in a neighborhood where all the other rooftops are white. The old man's garage by my (former) carport. A huge black blob of a shadow, beneath the pines. I have always felt "boxed in" and the need to "get out" ever since I have lived there!! Boxed in. Isolated. Shrouded by pines. SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES! When I first moved in, my landlord warned, "Watch what you say to those people!" Of course, I've never been very good with social skills. But I do have six years experience as a teacher in some of the worst situations possible. You wouldn't think adults would be the worst students but they are. As a teacher in a business school for one summer, I had mostly women, most of which had been the ones who were always in trouble in school, always sent to the principals office, swearing when they didn't get things, questioning everything, caring only about, "What's going to be on the test??" The textbooks were confusing, seemed to have contradictory information. HOT TEACHER! I also taught high school English at a tech school in Danielson, Connecticut. Take all the troublesome kids you have ever met in high school. Put them all in a classroom together. You got it!! I lasted three months there, longer than most new teachers, who would usually quit after two weeks, leaving their keys on the desk, never to return. I laugh to tell of it now, some of the crazy antics of those kids!! LYNCH MOB SCENE "Lynch law: the punishment of presumed crimes or offenses usu. by death without due process of law." "Lynch: to put to death by mob action without legal sanction." "Harass: to set a dog on, to worry and impede by repeated raids, exhaust, fatigue, to annoy persistently, syn, see worry." I first became aware of this "neighborhood watch group" while wining and dining alone at the pizza place one Saturday night. Three "barracudas" from my apartment building entered the restaurant. All of a sudden, there was a flurry of excitement in "the chicken coop." One such barracuda glared at me from her table across the restaurant, although I had presumed she was legally blind! "B--ch, b--ch, b--ch, SPOILED BRAT!" she shouted. I tried to smile over my glass of wine, but unnerved, I quickly left the restaurant, the hangout I often escaped to, in order to be left alone! Where I live, I am a renter among owners, mostly elderly, with a "questionable" relationship with my landlord. Once I became very sick and unable to work, I felt I had to go into hiding. Listening at my door, staring through the peephole, flush the toilet, count to 20, GO!! I am thinking now is the time to join them, seeing that I can't beat 'em!! I'm waiting to be assigned a post. The post at the front entrance is taken, by a wispy 60-something chain smoker. The side entrance, by a "stately," scary old man who pretends to be working on his classic car all day long, but leering at young girls instead. Young girls who haven't had much luck, who are trying to survive the best way they can, being stalked by the residents in the "nice" apartment building. The janitor, a "deaf mute" who never-the-less, seems to know everyone's business. Once called the police on him for stalking and harassing me; appears to be in awe of me since then. Little old lady who sits in the chair all day in the front lobby where the mailboxes are and asks: "What are you doing?" They say that Darkness cannot exist in the Light. FIREPOWER!! I've been toting my fire extinguisher as I walk through the quiet hallways and the laundry room, where the neighbors pretend not to know anything. A girl has to protect herself if she doesn't have a big strong man around to protect her! And until I do, I will have to put out my own fires! POST I believe the only post not taken is the one by the pool. Where I plan to be next summer. Where I will be "Head Barracuda" and sit by the entrance so I can ask, "What are you doing?" and such other personal questions to the residents of Westridge Gardens who dare to enter.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"I'll Leave Manhattan?"

Hi! BACK IN THE CITY Back from Christmas in the City. Saturday, Dec. 6th, I decided to take the bus to NYC, a day trip through a local college. Decided to save my own $$ to budget for my own trip. And thus will have to make "sacrifices" the rest of the month! Knew it was a trip I had to take, not so much to see if I still "loved" New York, but if it likes me. It has been almost two years since my last bus trip to Manhattan in April 2006 when I was very sick and the Diabetes Type II gene hadn't yet been discovered. Needless, to say, it didn't go well, but no one understood the reason yet. On the bus on the way to NYC, I felt very anxious and depressed, wondering if I forgot to take my Zoloft. But indeed, I had taken it, as I learned when I got home and saw the empty "Saturday" slot on my pill box. THE MET It didn't feel like "home," like it did when I would first arrive in the City on my twice yearly pilgrimmages. Cold at Christmas time. Felt good to get a hot dog and a soda at the stand and ascend the steps to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Toured the Italian renaissance exhibit featuring love and marriage. A pictorial parody of love, betrothal, marriage and family. In one such painting, Cupid is blindfolded, revealing the message of two lovers in a verdant pasture that "love is blind." In another series of scenes emblazoned on bowls and dishes, a woman scorned is either aiming a bow and arrow toward her lover or wielding a knife "to cut his heart out," portraying that "love is cruel," "unrequited love," that is. The "Betrothal" is the practical view of marriage as a "transfer of property," the "dowry" as the money, property, and possessions a woman takes to her marriage. Two mischievous children are pictured, among grapes and other fruit, featuring the word "fecundity" in the description. And my personal favorite, the story of Psyche and Cupid. A large painting depiciting a series of events in a young woman's life: Her being "seduced" by beauty, falling in love, the envy of those around her, being "stoned" by the neighbors, the pain of rejection, and finally being able to meet and be with the one she loves, "Cupid!!" There is one painting of "unattainable love," that being a man who pursues a woman he cannot have, until she turns into a laurel tree. Which I found to be rather disturbing. Eerie that a woman pointed it out to me as one of the more famous paintings in the world. After which I felt quite drained physically and emotionally (later to be agreed upon by a young student who I met on the bus back home, "Julia.") THE ANGEL TREE Found the cafeteria after seeing the Angel Tree for the first time! Very tall and stately, the Angel Tree inspires quiet awe. Featuring many antique angels in elaborate costume all over the tree among simple elegant white candles. At the base lies an agrarian scene, farm animals, shepherds. And lovely other worldly music. A gentleman sitting across from me at a nearby table kept giving me a funny look (must be from Connecticut :) ), not sure why, but I just smiled, as I am used to getting "funny looks." (Upon telling another new friend on the bus back home, she said, "You attract a lot of attention!!") UPPER EAST SIDE And so feeling drained and hot from being indoors too long, I headed out for the city streets. Where I had left a bottle of soda and a bottle of water, and it was still there! The museum entrance is similar to airport security now. The security guards wouldn't allow soda or bottled water inside the museum and directed the crowds to "step this way." Walked down the familiar city streets of the Upper East Side, quiet and sophisticated, the way I like it. Ducked into a Turkish restaurant (that I read about in "New York" magazine) which would do for lunch and dinner as that would be cheaper. The food was very good, the atmosphere quiet. "Uskudar" on Second and 73rd / 74th. Cucumber and tomato salad, Sauteed chicken with rice and tomatoes, coffee and dessert for Prix Fixe which I thought would be the most economical (and had a late, great supper back home!) And shredded wheat with syrup for dessert!! MIDTOWN After which I headed out once again, this time to the cruel, wind swept, siren strewn, hustler heavy streets of Midtown Manhattan, which always causes me to say: I'M NEVER COMING BACK, NEVER AGAIN!! Echoes of a dark, dirty discordant blackness filled the air. But I always do. I did end up in my old neighborhood, Sixth Avenue, between 48th and 49th, where I used to work at McGraw-Hill. By then, I was ready to go home, but the bus wasn't due back until 8:00 PM! I felt overwhelmed by the tourists, the hustlers, the horns, the sirens, the skyscrapers which lined the streets, which all looked the same. I sat down, several times, fearing I would pass out due to Chronic Fatigue and the walking I am unaccustomed to doing. Had no trouble pushing my way through the crowds and dodging the hustlers, though. I actually did really well here for a while and I can see why now: I have no patience. I am a New Yorker. Things don't move fast enough for me back home. However, on the bus back home, I glimpsed a large Christmas tree, lighted, on a small town green, among other lighted pine trees. I found it a far prettier sight even than the elaborate displays in Manhattan and even, indeed, the tree at Rockefeller Center. SPEAKEASY At the end of the trip, I was glad to find a very good bar and restaurant, "Bill's Gay Nineties Cafe" on Madison Avenue, not far from the IBM Building Atrium where the bus would pick us up and bring us all home (if we were on time, that is!) The cafe was decorated with the original 1920s Christmas decor, lighted pine tree branches, Mark the waiter informed me. The old world feel, the deep mahogany, and benevolent "spirits" filled the atmosphere with holiday warmth. The steep, narrow carpeted stairway resembled the Harborside Inn, where I stayed on Block Island last summer. "Art deco?" I asked. "For design," Mark corrected. I just wanted to sit down and relax with one glass of white wine to soothe my frazzled nerves. Two young men who I spoke to in the adjacent hotel recommended it. They said that the I came back to the reason I left Manhattan, the part that I hate: Midtown at Christmastime!! Now I am back home in Connecticut among the pine trees and unafraid to push my way past the barracudas where I live.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Strength Made Perfect in Weakness"

"Strength Made Perfect in Weakness" Hi! OK, so I don't know if this phrase I picked from the Bible needs any further explanation. "Strength made perfect in weakness." The "apostle" Paul in his "epistles" writes of a "thorn" in his side which he begs God to remove. I guess he says, "But not my will be done, but thine -- yours." Which I have trouble with! But Paul acknowledges that if this thorn cannot be removed, thus, his strength is made perfect in his weakness. No one likes to lose control, to be "disabled" in any way. Seeing my father in a convalescent home for the past year does make me uncomfortable. And even seeing the elderly walking with canes or in wheelchairs, or other physical disability makes me uncomfortable. Why? I think it reminds me of myself (doesn't everything?), in that, what has been thought of as a psychiatric or mental disability for me, seems to me to have a physical cause now. Receiving the help I've needed to care for Diabetes Type II through "chance" meetings with special people in my life -- has helped me immensely (while still being "me.") I know I've helped myself a lot, but I couldn't have done it without the special people that have come into my life. People who have known me for years see the difference. It hasn't "put out the fire" but I think things are more under control now with --- you guessed it -- DIET AND EXCERCISE!! ("Love and acceptance?" Hmmmm...that's another story. The TV bio of Coco Chanel, the now famous clothing designer and perfumer comes to mind. She was born very poor. Had no family to speak of, was orphaned, I believe and had a sister. Attended school for sewing and fashion design, but dropped out to pursue a relationship, considered "sordid" at the time. Was never treated well in public as "a woman of no means." She was a "barracuda" with "a terrible personality." Suffered through the failed relationship, met the one she really loved. He bought her a store. Because she loved him, she put her talents to work. In the end, she was finally recognized and applauded in a crowded room for her talents! Of course, I cried at the end, so much so that my nose got very plugged up! Can't do that too often!) Today, Coco Chanel is one of the most world renowned designers for fashion and perfume. And my personal favorite! "And now you know the rest of the story. Good Day!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Easy Does It"

Hi! Um, I thought I was going to wrap this up (pun intended? Christmas is coming!), this Blog thing. But being an artistic writer-loner type of person can be very isolating. However, if you are not true to yourself, you will learn that you can't serve two masters. And while you do need money to EAT, if you get too caught up in the world of money and "nice" things, status and wealth, instead of health and simple things, it will bring about certain sickness and death, either to you or to the one you love. I've seen it. I've lived it. Being an artistic (autistic?? I don't like people that much...I don't like anyone around me too much...Don't do well with conversation with most people...I don't like "just anyone" touching me, either!) writer-loner type can be very isolating. This Blog has been my way of being heard. But for those of you that have "overheard" me, you can choose not to read or to stop reading whenever you like! (Doubt you will, though!) :) OK, so I have been trying to get my health back through diet and excercise and the R&R type of activities which I can afford, which "suit" me, which I enjoy, that aren't "immoral, illegal or fattening!" In the past couple of weeks, I broke from my "comfortable routine." And I am paying the price now. (Hunger and fatigue) Trying out the Trillium Garden Club, I learned, is not for me. I think I make a better "S.O.B.!" (Volunteer on the 7-member Nature Walk Committee at "Save Ocean Beach" in New London). We'll see...small groups, some solitary work, and working with crew members of the Coast Guard!! See you at the beach!! (To you, Lynne!) Also, I hadn't realized how much the world of book publishing has changed since I left New York in October 1991. I did work for a large publishing company, McGraw-Hill, Inc. while I lived there (residing in many different neighborhoods) from June 1987-October 1991, quitting very suddenly due to burn-out after busting my butt for three and a half years. New England hasn't exactly been "life on the farm" either. I was far removed from the publishing aspect of the business, however. After being a full-time in-house temp for several months at McGraw-Hill, I settled with Commodity Information Services, the department in the company which earned the highest revenue for the entire corporation. (Went through several name changes, at one point almost becoming "Petroleum Information Group Services! "P.I.G.S.," I joked!) It was a fast-paced world of business and sales of electronic and paper reports on oil and gas prices which we sold to traders on Wall Street! I was Sales Department Secretary, answered an 8-line phone. There was no voicemail back then, not for me, anyway. I did begin a novel about this certain lifestyle, in and outside the office, which has remained unfinished to this day, although it is type-written in a hard-cover binder, and copyrighted. After attending last night's workshop on book publishing here at the Groton Library, I am finding life "out there" to be more daunting then ever. If you are not already a best-selling author, ie, Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, good luck!! I loved the guest speaker, whose name slips my mind right now, but I will be glad to give her a plug. She resides in Redding, has 25 years experience in several publishing companies, with a variety of occupations in teaching and publishing. I found her to be very youthful and vibrant, even though I believe she is slightly older than I am, and the publishing industry to be very fluid as well. People move around a lot; they don't stay in one place. Made me wonder once again what I am doing here in Connecticut: Staid? (Where people have "stayed" so long.) She said that the people who work behind the scenes in publishing aren't highly paid. They do it because they love books. So there it is: you can't serve two masters. For more info on getting YOUR book published, go to: http://bookpublishingteacher.blogspot.com/ for Jan Kardys at her new literary agency, "Black Hawk Enterprises" in Redding, CT. Yesterday, while on the computer, I looked at an aerial view of New London, via satellite map. To get a "vibe" on the place where I live. And from that bird's eye view, I got that -- New London, Connecticut is too perfect!! The streets, all labeled, on a grid; the houses, all in perfect rows, equidistant, all square. The well manicured lawns and parks. Old. Settled. Established. Boring. Staid. Stayed. Where if something or someone doesn't fit, at least on the outside, they try to "flush out the perpetrator." Marriage. Families. Poor or rich. Not "in between." If you're not quite "right," "less than perfect," watch out!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"All That Glitters....."

Hi folks!! Well, I think that wraps it up! A NOVEL IDEA Winter is coming and I would like to spend more time at home, finishing my "long dormant" novel about living and working in New York City in the 80s, through the eyes of a 25-year-old ("keep it the same?"). The Groton Library has a workshop on publishing next month. YES, this is a plug!! STARVING ARTIST Also, Paula is "urging" me to work on some oil paintings of places to which I've travelled, near and far, over the winter at home, from the photographs I have taken. If only I could stop worrying about the high cost of food. Fortunately, my appetite is now under control with the diabetic diet, thanks to all the staff at the Joslin Diabetes Center in New London; Pequot Cafe and Stop & Shop in Groton!! Spring awaits next year, with clean-up and planting at "Save Ocean Beach!!" Take care, everyone! Merry Christmas! Denise

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Glitter and Be Gay!"

AN AMERICAN JOURNEY On Sunday, November 16, at 2 p.m., the United States Coast Guard Band presents a preview performance of its historic concert tour of Japan to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the Japan Coast Guard. Featured music is by great composers George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, and John Williams. Upon hearing about the wind and rainstorm predicted for Saturday night, I opted to forego the monthly swing dance and rest up for the Coast Guard concert instead (at, you guessed it, Paula's strong urging!!) So, here it is, a review for you of "An American Journey." In the second selection, "Hammersmith: Prelude and Scherzo" by Gustav Holst, Assistant Director Richard Wyman tells of the contrasts featured in the music, at first by the slow rhythms of the Thames River (of London, which could also describe New London) and the subsequent liveliness of the piccolo, calling the revelers and townsfolk to a party in town! But, as always, the Thames River flows in the background, unhurried, the music echoing the slow, dark, murky depths of the Thames River here in New London (even as it flows just behind the Coast Guard Academy). The next featured selection which really moved me to one of the few standing ovations in the audience was "Glitter and Be Gay" from "Candide" by Leonard Bernstein and arranged by MUC Ian Frenkel, and sung by MU1 Lisa Williamson, Soprano. She sung the part of a woman who is "kept" in a "gilded cage" by a gentleman in Paris, France. But her home is filled with baubles, bangles and jewels. Her emotions rotate from ecstacy to sorrow and shame and back again. But is it worth it? she asks. The range and depth of emotion in her voice was unbelievable! But is it worth the trade off?? Does it come as no surprise that I would say: "That I would consider my return to perfect health payment enough?!" And furthermore, "That I am happy to be enjoying the Coast Guard concerts once again!!" And thus, I realized the reason for my best friend's insistent "urging" that I come to this concert! Followed by the nice and smooth "O Magnum Mysterium" by Lauridsen and the circus-like "Dance of Uzume" by Piet Swerts and the Halloween-like "Baron Cimetiere's Mambo" by Grantham. Not to be disappointed, "Semper Paratus," the official march of the U.S. Coast Guard Band followed Intermission. Usually played as the introduction to the Coast Guard concerts, it often made me burst into tears shortly after my best friend's death. "Harrison's Dream" by Graham featured the sounds of a clock in the dramatic portrayal of a ship which sank where over 1000 people were lost at sea because longitude had not yet been discovered. A man named Harrison came along whose dream it was to calculate longitude, using clocks. "The requiem" sounds rather ghostly, evoking the feeling of being lost in the fog -- lost at sea? "Gershwin Remembered" featured the smooth, classic jazz of George Gershwin, played on the piano and arranged by MUC Ian Frenkel, a musical genius, in my opinion, who played with gusto and enthusiasm. Once again, I was one of the few in the audience who rewarded him with a standing ovation. I left before the last selection, "Immigration and Building," by John Williams, as I was parked at the far end of the lot, in a non designated parking space, as the lot was filled to capacity a half hour before this concert. HEADING OVERSEAS: Coast Guard Band helps celebrate Japan coast guard's anniversary by Kristina Dorsey Day Arts Editor Excerpts: "This year, the Japan coast guard is marking its 60th anniversary, and the...band turns 20...a celebration that the U.S. Coast Guard has been invited to join." "Says Commander Kenneth W. Megan, who directs the band, 'I think it's a measure of how important our government and Coast Guard view Japan, the strategic location of it, and it's certainly one of our strongest friends and allies." "During two of the Tokyo concerts, the U.S. and Japan coast guard bands will perform together..." "The Japan coast guard was...modeled after the U.S. coast guard...and the two services have worked very closely together." "The first time the Coast Guard band went overseas was in 1989,...the first American military band to perform in the Soviet Union...during Communist rule and a few months before the fall of the Berlin Wall...the standard of living was poor, but the audiences were enthusiastic."

"All Creatures Great and Small"

Hi! Today, as a Christmas present to my best friend Paula, I would like to dedicate this post to animals, in particular, the stray cats of downtown New London. (At her "insistence!") Once, over dinner at Pizza Hut before the monthly Coast Guard concert, she asked me if she could spend less on my Christmas gift so that she could "feed the animals." It seems her "back yard" was "habitat" to a variety of "wildlife" species. All winter, she would put out dry cat food for the various species of, I'm assuming: squirrels, skunks, oppossums, chipmunks, songbirds, raccoons, etc. Maybe even owls. Three large trees line her property out back. To which, I laughed in reply: "It's a good thing we're such good friends!" Also, today, I would like to talk about the apparent over population of stray cats in downtown New London. I have contacted the local police department (which have all proven to be AWESOME in my hour of need) and learned that the Animal Control Officer only has two cages, in which to catch these animals, in order to bring them to the Humane Society which is full. If the City of New London hired more police officers, the taxes would go up! "Meet Cider!" At Paula's strong urging one morning (by this, I mean I felt very restless), I drove to her house right away, expecting to see the new owners there. However, upon my arrival, no one was there. I walked up Konomoc, down the path into her back yard. And who did I see but a little orange kitty cat, meowing and crying for attention. From that morning last Spring until the present day, I have taken it upon myself, as my personal mission, to bring dry food to said kitty cat. In addition to giving him a little lovin', affection, and attention! (In such short supply these days!) Yesterday morning, I came to visit him once again. I had been praying for Cider to find a home for the winter. I spoke with the next door neighbors who gave me the best news imaginable!! That "Cider" would be "fixed" within the next two weeks, that they were getting the funds, and that Cider would be kept warm and dry for the winter in their home, along with their other pets! St. Francis, Patron Saint of Animals, must be watching over God's stray creatures. I happily told Cider that I would visit him again in the Spring! He is getting big and healthy now at one year old. Lastly, I would like to help create a "Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat" in Paula's back yard. "You've been hustling all your life," she once said to me, over lunch at McDonald's in Niantic. "You started hanging around with me because you thought I had money." And furthermore, "But you don't get what you really need." And clutching my hands, "Why don't you just be who you really are? A nice, quiet girl. I know she's in there...Nice, so nice...and quiet," she whispered. My hands started to tremble as I started crying: "I don't know who I really am!" After which I wrote the best friend I ever had a mean, nasty letter. Soon after that, the McDonald's in Niantic closed for good, sadly replaced by a bank. And furthermore, "You should do charity work!" Well, here it is, Girlfriend!! "HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION CAN HELP" "The National Wildlife Federation," based in Reston, VA, started the CERTIFIED WILDLIFE HABITAT PROGRAM in 1973....In Connecticut, there are 1,144 certified habitat gardens...Roxanne Paul, operations coordinator...attributed the recent growth in the program to a greater environmental awareness about habitat loss, pollution from lawn mowers and increasing development." "The program includes special certification for Community Wildlife Habitats and Schoolyard Habitats, along with the backyard programs." "Some of the choices recommended for Connecticut are: Eastern Red Cedar, Black Tupelo, Northern Red Oak, Winterberry, Sweet Pepperbush, Red Chokecherry, Blue Vervain, Rough-Stemmed Goldenrod, Cardinal Flower, and New York ironweed." For more information on creating a certified backyard wildlife habitat, go to: http://www.nwf.org/backyard P.S. Newsflash from the Connecticut Humane Society: "According to Connecticut state law, local animal control officers must be consulted and / or involved in the rescue of stray and abandoned animals." "To learn how you can provide a home for one of our wonderful animals, visit the adoption section of http://www.cthumane.org "To find out more ways to support the Connecticut Humane Society, visit our website, http://www.cthumane.donate From the President's Desk by Richard Johnson: "Sadly, we are also reminded that an unstable economy negatively affects both people and their pets. It is the need for additional services to the community that has set the stage for the next major project...our Companion Animal Sanctuary. This locaton is on a 60-acre parcelof land in a pastoral setting. A special committee...has recently voted to proceed with this expansion project...the Connecticut Humane Society Companion Animal Sanctuary Program...is...available to pets...who are more difficult to place...it also serves as a residence to pets displaced by the death of their owner." Merry Christmas, Paula!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"WONDERFUL TOWN"

Hi! OK, so here it is.... "WONDERFUL TOWN" In January 2007, a cruel kind of fate began to befall a widow. During a random storm, a tree fell on her house, on the oil tank that keeps the house warm. By a stroke of luck, it wasn't turned on. She called City Hall but they were away; The widow had to wait all day. She had to rely on the neighbors To help clear away the trees and debris In exchange for future favors. The tree created a hole in her roof which needed repair. The widow didn't have the funds But no one seemed to care. In February 2007, the widow's house taxes became due. She went outside in the rain and caught the flu. But she didn't want the taxes to be overdue. Her best friend was home recuperating From surgery -- But would have been glad to help make the remuneration. She didn't seem to have a prayer But no one seemed to care. In March 2007, the widow fell ill. She promised to take me out on my birthday but couldn't Which brought about in our friendship, ill will. In April 2007, a hurricane came. I was up all night, hearing the wind and the rain. I worried about the widow but I neglected to call. It seems the hurricane caused another tree to fall First toward her house, then the other way; At 4 AM, it seemed something was telling her to go away!! Upon the telephone wires, There was a terrible explosion Which caused a lot of commotion! That night on the telephone, I heard my best friend say: "Denise, I'm cold and I'm lonely!" I drove across town to come and get her right away! I tried to rescue her from her terrible fate But refused to call her on her birthday until it was much too late. I had gotten into a terrible fight with her because I didn't understand How next door neighbors didn't help a troubled widow In this prosperous land. I tried to rescue her From her trials and tribulations! But it was much too late To have a birthday celebration! She was a member of an elite church for one year But felt she could trust no one To help her fix her house in a state of disrepair. She didn't seem to have a prayer But no one seemed to care. Oh yeah! This story heah Speaks of a widow fair! Oh yeah! This place heah is such a wonderful town!! Denise Hickey Tribute to Paula Gillespie New London, CT (June 14, 1938 - June 14, 2007)

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Time to Get Back in the Water!"

Hi! Sorry, but I've been raking the leaves in the back yard of my best friend's house for the past two days. Here is a recent photo of me, taken at Cruise Night, Ocean Beach, Summer 2008.
It's time to go back into the water, I say! I would like to lose a little more weight, but it is hard to balance diet and excercise, especially when summer was so hot and I love ice cream!!

This is a photo of a cottage on Pequot Avenue in New London, CT, across the street from Fred's Shanty. I was eyeing its compact size and raised garden beds and dreaming of my future.

Monday, November 3, 2008

"The Secret Life of Bees"

Niantic Matinee: "The Secret Life of Bees" Yesterday afternoon, Sunday, I went to see a movie in Niantic, "The Secret Life of Bees." I knew it was an all star cast with Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keyes, Jennifer Hudson, etc. I didn't know anything else about it, just that I had to see it! Older now, I thought Dakota resembled me as a young teenager. With long straight hair, light brown, and wide blue eyes and a serious face, she also wanted to major in English and dreamed of being a writer! In the opening scene, I thought a disturbing movie was to follow. But it turned out to be a beautiful movie. In the opening scene, she shoots her young mother, who is engaged in a fight with her father, who is shouting, "You can't leave me!" You don't ever understand if it is really intentional. She meets up with a black woman, Jennifer Hudson, who stands up for herself and is beaten up for not apologizing, by two white men. But lives to escape with Dakota Fanning in tow. She says that apologizing would have been a worse way of dying. The two unlikely friends are able to persuade a family of black women to take them in, where Hudson works for pay in the kitchen and Fanning becomes a paid beekeeper, where she is eventually able to fall in love with a young black man. Although her initial, overwhelming need for love at first scares him a bit. She says she wishes she could be loved more than anything else in the world. The movie is about healing. Where, if you find yourself in a family who doesn't accept you for who you really are, or understand you, all your life, "leaving" them can be the best thing. "Leaving them," moving on, to find another "family" who accepts you as their own. Wondering all her life why her mother left her and her father abused her. Her father appears in the end, trying to take her back from her newly acquired family. She asks him why her mother really came back. He tells her that her mother was coming back to take her, not her father, and that he couldn't take it, that her mother chose her daughter over him. One of the black women in the movie finally takes Fanning and sits her down. She was Fanning's mother's nanny. She says that "no love is perfect." She shows Fanning photos of her mother and trinkets which used to be her mother's. She shows Fanning a photo of her and her mother together, looking into each other's eyes and smiling. This is where the healing finally takes place. She looks back at this woman with tears of thanks in her eyes, knowing she really was loved. She learns to accept her new "family" of three mothers! (Think: the book of "Job," losing it all to gain back more than you ever had before: health, friends, family, etc., etc. -- "I have come that you may have Life and have it more abundantly.") Strangely this photo reminded me of another photo which was "coughed" out of Paula's house last Valentine's Day. The house was being renovated last winter and the interiors "gutted." As I walked up the steep hill alongside her house, Konomoc, I saw a page of photographs on the ground. Black and white. As I picked it up, the face of a small blonde girl stared back at me. Paula's face!! Curious and wise, even at a young age. Feline, as well. "That's her! I know it is!" I said to one of the workers. Photos filled both sides of a black page. All black and white. The young one of Paula. And several photos which had to be, beyond a doubt, Paula and her mother. Throughout our friendship, Paula confided to me that her mother tried to kill her and she had to live with her grandparents on a farm for a while. That her mother was "going through the change." If you look into her mother's eyes in some of the photos, you can see the signs of madness. Paula said she always wanted to be a nurse, but her mother just laughed at her. That even now, she swore her mother ruined her life! (Paula had a "succession" of jobs throughout most of her life, just like I have!) Never-the-less, here she was, on Valentine's Day, presented to me, in a "two shot:" "Baby" Paula, in a plaid coat, looking shyly into her mother's adoring eyes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"My Inspiration"

My Inspiration for "Dem Bones" I got my inspiration for my "dirge" while chatting with a new friend, Debbie, at the Shoreline Swing monthly dance in October. We recalled the Blues Dance Weekend which was held last May, where we became friendly. The blues dance I attended was held at the Italian American Citizens Club in Groton, CT. A very nice ambience, small, but not too small. Plenty of space for dancing, and it was RAINING! Clear white Christmas lights were strung along the walls, where windows looked out on the rain on three sides. Perfect for a blues dance weekend! Debbie told me that she liked blues dancing and wanted to try more of it. I just said that I enjoyed the blues dance, that it was fun to try something different. But that I am basically a Ballroom Dancer; I love the drama, romance, and intrigue of it. That my friend Paula (who she reminds me of!) preferred the Swing Dances; she was just into having a good, fun time!! So this got me thinking about the BLUES. A few days later, walking along the Nature Trail at Ocean Beach, the sun was so warm! It was big and round in the sky, low, but cloudy so that you could look into it. And I thought of how Paula used to say how much she needed the sun in the late Spring. How it felt good on her bones. That she had arthritis. And I suddenly realized that she was almost ready to "walk into the light," to "cross over." That things were going to work out for me soon, so that she could go. That she wouldn't leave until I was "taken care of." And that she needed to feel the warmth of the Sun on her bones soon! Stay tuned for "Wonderful Town," coming soon, I hope.... Denise

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Dem Bones"

"Dem Bones" I been so lonely Since my buddy done gone away De good Lord done called her on home She done passed away. I know she be leavin' me heah soon To go on ahead o' me, an' walk into de Light. But don' you be goin' gent'l into dat good night. No, no, don' you be goin' too gent'l, my good buddy, into dat good night. My buddy, she soon be ready, to walk into de Light. She soon be leavin' me heah, to walk into de Eternal Light. Jesus is comin' To wipe all of de tears away There won' be no mo' pain After de judgement day. My buddy done said She won' be goin' nowhere Till de good Lord be takin' care o' me. She be stayin' on heah, till de good Lord be takin' care o' me. But I have de feelin' someday soon My buddy gone to be leavin' me heah to stay! She be headin' on home, but she won' ever be far away. She be leavin' me heah soon, until de judgement day. She be sayin' to me "Dem bones o' mine, dey got ole!" An' she be sayin' to me, just de other day -- "Dem bones o' mine, dey be so cole an' lonely!" But I be walkin' down the trail, At de ole Ocean Beach Just de other day And I heared my good buddy say: "De sun be feelin' so warm On my bones today! I ain' feelin' no mo' pain As I wait to see you all again on de judgement day!" And my good buddy, she be sayin' "Dem bones o' mine! Dey was so cole an' lonely! Dem bones o' mine! Dey ain't cole an' lonely no mo!" But somehow, sumptin' be tellin' me My good buddy, she will always be watchin' over me! Denise Hickey 10-21-08 Ocean Beach Nature Walk (into the Light) New London, CT

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Viva l'talia!"

Hi! Back from the second United States Coast Guard Band Concert of the season. "Viva l'Italia!" All Italian songs and operettas. The "Ole Sol Mio" solo was very enjoyable and passionate! Pigged out on pasta afterwards: hardly ever do that! I didn't cry during the concert, but I felt rather sad during the day because Paula wasn't here with me physically to enjoy it, which was one of her favorite things to do. After I got sick and didn't want to go out anymore, she said, "You'll feel well again and want to do things." I didn't believe her at the time. I never ever thought I would get better and that she wouldn't be around to enjoy the things we used to do together. For more information, go to: http://www.uscg.mil/band/ The point of this post today is to let myself and others know how far I have come. My buddy Paula and I used to enjoy the Coast Guard concerts for the past few years once a month on Sunday evenings at 7 PM. Then I had to stop going; I was so physically sick and exhausted. IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH Illness due in part to the changes in my workplace at the grocery store and the stressful new conditions imposed upon me, and a change in personality of my "friend" as well. Soon after his uncle, his companion at home for thirty years, passed away, the change in my friend's personality created a downward spiral in my health, from which I thought I would never return. Divers doctors didn't understand. I even pictured my future of seeing men in white coats, opening and closing doors for the rest of my life!) I don't wish to dig up the situation and rehash the negative experiences I feel I have had in personal and professional relationships. Otherwise, this site wouldn't be about healing. The point is to realize how far I have come from where I was two, three, even four years ago. And not to get discouraged. To keep "running the race," to keep "fighting the good fight!" (I'm so tired of fighting! Maybe that is why I enjoyed the romantic Italian music so much!) All I want to say about my "friend" is that he has schizophrenia. I'm sure it was a big shock when his uncle, his companion who he lived with for the past thirty years, died in the fall of 2004. But for me, his personality change has been a big shock. And it exacerbated the symptoms of depression which I already had, creating a downward spiral into disease and despair. For more information, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/schizophrenia I especially appreciate the "alternative approaches" section on Page 10. It basically says: "the...movement, most active in the 1960s, opposes the orthodox medical view of schizophrenia as an illness...psychiatric patients are not ill, but rather individuals with unconventional thoughts and behavior that make society uncomfortable." And: "...the symptoms of...mental illness are comprehensible reactions to impossible demands tht society and...family life places on some sensitive individuals." FREQUENT VISITS In the fall of 2004 after his uncle passed away, I started making frequent visits to the ER for minor ailments and injuries. Then in January 2005, my "friend" and I had a "falling out" and the conditions at my workplace changed as well. New management, reduced work hours, unpredictable work schedule, trying out different departments at the grocery store. Having personality conflicts with coworkers because I have a college education and expressed the fact that I wanted to "get ahead." Also, during the past year of 2004, I had gained 30 pounds from an increase in appetite, due to the side effects of a prescription drug, Xanax, which I had to eventually discontinue. In April 2005, I started having trouble with frequent urination. I'd had several blood tests for Diabetes in years past, but the numbers were never high enough to get the medical help I needed. In 2006, I had a sonogram which revealed uterine fibroids, but the size in the report was so small that I couldn't find an ob gyn to believe the discomfort I was having and the need for surgery. My ob gyn of previous years had retired. He was the one who first discovered the fibroids and performed a myomectomy to remove them in 2000. He'd suggested a hysterectomy but I still hoped I would someday have kids at that time. (I finally did find an ob gyn who did an ultrasound which revealed how large the fibroids were in December 2006, and I was able to get a laparascopic supracervical hysterectomy in January 2007.) CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME In the fall of 2005, I stopped seeing my "friend" and that is when the Chronic Fatigue and extreme hunger began. By March 2006, I had to take time off from work, two weeks, when I had a doctor appointment every day. I had the problem with frequent urination, abdominal pain, diarrhea, anger, exhaustion, hives, hunger, thirst, mood swings, etc., etc. In June 2006, an APRN prescribed Zoloft, as she thought I was going through perimenopause, which helped a lot with mood and appetite for a while. By the summer of 2006, I had given up on seeing doctors all together. I just gave up. I had to quit my job at the grocery store of four years in April 2006, very suddenly, due to the workplace stress, hunger, extreme fatigue, and physical demands of the job. I couldn't even take a walk down the street without feeling like passing out. Needless to say, I knew something was very wrong. I actually feared being discovered dead in my apartment, as I spent my days off passed out on my couch. TO THE RESCUE! I took a job again in the fall of 2006 as a classroom assistant. I had difficulty making it through each day due to the stress of this particular environment and my own physical and emotional condition. I had to make frequent stops to the restroom during the work day, due to frequent urination and diarrhea; I had extreme hunger, fatigue, and dizziness. The rest is history. You can read about it in my earlier post: "Love and Acceptance." When I say "love and acceptance," I am describing altruism and compassion, qualities which are all too rare these days. Old-fashioned values which don't seem to exist anymore. But they worked for me. BRIGHT FUTURE Now I am facing a hopefully bright future as a Landscape Gardener, and a new beginning with volunteer work near my home, to gain experience for which I hope to someday be paid. And enjoying the U.S. Coast Guard Concerts once again.

Monday, October 6, 2008

"On Being an "S.O.B.!"

Hi, I'm back! Not my usual "nice girl" jargon, but times have been tough and if you want to survive, you've got to be the same! On a late summer afternoon a few weeks ago, I ran into my good friend David, working on the Ocean Beach Boardwalk. I candidly told him that the only gravesite I would choose to visit my friend Paula would be a commemorative board on the Ocean Beach Boardwalk. But that I couldn't afford the $100 donation that S.O.B. ("Save Ocean Beach") was requesting. "Twenty dollars a month!" said David. Good old David! I know David from the early eighties when we each rented a room in a Victorian house just outside Willimantic, where I went to college. Shared kitchen and bath upstairs, and shared many meals together as well, including a dinner on my birthday one year. No matter how much time goes by, I always manage to run into him, no matter how many years have passed since our last "meeting." We met when I was just a college girl in my twenties, he being fresh out of the Navy and working in dentistry in Willimantic. We have both since moved to New London. I know Paula must have been whispering in his ear that day at the beach, because the $20 monthly installment for a "grave" for my buddy on the Ocean Beach Boardwalk is just the thing. I don't want to go to a cemetery to "talk" to Paula; stones are too cold for me. I remember last summer, newly mourning her "death" to this Earth, I used to say to her old buddy Bobby on the phone, "The ashes of my girl are still warm!!" To which HE laughed. Now, you may or may not take offense to this, but my girl and I shared some crisp humor in our day! I'm not for everybody. My friend from church has plans for those ashes in a local memorial garden. But Ocean Beach and 190 Vauxhall are both where Paula's Spirit comes alive for me. Where I can "talk" to her!! Hence, I will have a commemorative board from the Ocean Beach Boardwalk purchased in her memory and carved with words I choose with care... "In Loving Memory of Paula Gillespie??" "In Memory of Paula Gillespie, 1938 - 2007, Love, Denise??" Or, how about -- "We'll always be friends. Paula Gillespie & Denise Hickey 2001 - 2007" She didn't like to reveal her true age, remember?? Yes, I like that last one the best. I received a phone call from "S.O.B.," questioning my payment plan. She said that something could be worked out. As an avid Ocean Beach goer, I asked my caller about doing volunteer work in the gardens at Ocean Beach. Enthusiastically, she said that "S.O.B." could use my help. That there are only about six or seven members on the Nature Walk Committee. That, yes, some of the work can be done alone! And that there are also organized group clean-ups. And that some of the work is done in alliance with the United States Coast Guard, based here in New London. That there is a need for year round work! For more information, go to: http://www.saveoceanbeachpark.org Got my next gig without hardly tryin!' Doin' somethin' I love! A gentleman of my recent acquaintance, Larry, who purchased my friend's house a year ago, taught me a most valuable lesson this past summer: "You push too hard. If you push too hard, things won't happen. Sometimes, you have to allow things to happen. It's going to get done!" (On the interior renovations of my best friend's house!) It's the most valuable lesson anyone has ever taught me, and from a fine gentleman at that. A far cry from what my father taught me: "You have to be aggressive. If you're not aggressive, it's going to be a horrible world for you." Which, I'm sure, is also appropos at times. Tough times like these.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"Sweet Treatment!"

Hi! "At this moment, I would like to thank each and every staff member at Pequot Health Center. Without all of your support and contributions throughout the years, I would be dead. You've all played a part. I couldn't have done it without each and every one of you." ("Miss Hickey, the music is playing!" ) ("Where are the flowers?") From the Receptionists at the Front Desk to Triage, to the Doctors, Nurses, and Physician Assistants, to the Blood Lab and the Occupational Health Dept., and everyone else, for all your help with my illnesses and injuries, including expert diagnoses, listening, concern, care and compassion. There is a sweet little place, undiscovered by most, within PHC. It's the Pequot Cafe, where I have been having lunch and dinner often since September 2007. Not only have I lost a lot of weight and maintained a healthy Diabetic diet, at great prices (amidst the ever soaring grocery prices), but I have enjoyed much conversation over coffee. I would like to thank "R" and "J" for their "loving kindness" and support, laughs, great food and great service. ("On many a morning; cold, windy, snowy, misty, rainy, hot, humid, hazy -- fall giving way to winter, giving way to spring and summer again -- happy, grouchy, moody, grief-stricken, stressed, anxious, aggravated, miserable, struggling, hungry, funny, silly..... High on the hilltop, overlooking the great lakes!!") As I start my life over, I wish you all the best. Denise

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Called to the Vineyard and Everywhere Else"

Hi! First I want to say that I just love this beautiful fall weather! A little cooler and crisper would be even better!
Denise, Weeding & Watering at "Westridge Gardens," Summer 2008
At first, I had decided not to "push religion" with this Blog Site. I try to keep an open mind and I have respect for all religions. Also, I would like my message to appeal to people of all faiths.
Westridge Gardens, New London, CT (Summer 2008)
I was born and raised Catholic, got disillusioned in my difficulties, but I always go back to the Catholic church, or at least I return to its values. I've "visited" a Lutheran Church, a Unitarian Universalist Church, a born again Christian church, and an Episcopalian church. I always go back to the Catholic church or like I said, to the Catholic values. It is usually something outstanding that someone does for me, who is of the Catholic faith. I'm not saying it is the right religion for everyone. The Catholic faith teaches me: Humility, Poverty, Simplicity, Love, Longsuffering, Charity, Kindness, Patience, Perseverance, Fortitude, and uh-oh, "that word I hate," Sacrifice.
Westridge Gardens, Summer 2008 In this blog, I've made reference to Native American influences ("Ode to a Tipi") and the idea of nature; past lives (in describing my experiences as a teacher and my hunger problem), Chinese Medicine (in describing how Paula's cat Indy "discovered" my uterine fibroids -- the Chinese believe in reincarnation), and life after death (in describing how I feel able to "commune" with Paula's Spirit).
Westridge Gardens, Summer 2008 But this morning, I felt moved to include this doctrine I discovered today. It is from a newsletter of St. Joseph's Church in New London, CT. It describes the workers hired in the vineyard early in the morning who were paid the same wage as the workers who were hired later in the day. "It doesn't seem right, does it? Not fair at all! But then there's Isaiah: 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord' (Isaish 55:8). "We are called to do the Lord's work, but each of us does it in our own individual way. 'Fruitful labor,' Paul calls it...so it doesn't matter if you are a farmer or a brain surgeon, a student or a teacher, a preacher or the person in the last pew." "Regardless of how we interpret God's call to us or our own unique circumstances, may we ("mais oui!!"),....be ever mindful of our truest calling." Being born into a family of small business owners and entrepreneurs has not been easy for me. I've tried to make it in the business world, first as a sales department secretary in New York in the late 1980s. Next as a temporary secretary for three years in southeastern Connecticut. And next, as a teacher from 1995 until 2006. And also as a cashier and a bagger in several grocery stores. Each "incarnation" has taken its toll on my health and well-being. I guess that's what happens when you are not being true to yourself. It wasn't really until my friend Paula came along that I think I know what I want to do. For the past two summers, I have enjoyed being a volunteer landscape gardener at my residence. I did it because I enjoyed it. I didn't have to get in the car and drive. I was able to work alone, dealing with my neighbors just a little bit, and always one on one. Best of all, I was able to work outside. The flower gardens are beautiful and colorful. I hope to post photos soon. Also, I laugh to think that I work well as part of a team -- but only if I can work alone! There were two ladies that did the spring planting. There were only three or four of us that did some weeding and watering in the evenings. Now the growing season is over and I feel good about a job well done. And that my life isn't about making money. Not yet, anyway. It took someone who got to know me and spend a lot of time with me, to see me and influence me about the kind of work I do best. Thank You, Paula!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Back in the "Swing" of Things!

Hi! Back from the first Shoreline Swing monthly dance of the season. Saturday, Sept. 20th 7:30 PM: Beginner Lesson 8:30 - 11 PM: Dancing to a live band, Roger Ceresi & the All Stars Featuring Fun, Food & Good Friends, Old & New, Young & Old, Heavy or Slim! THE BETRAYAL During the day, I walked off my anger on the Ocean Beach Boardwalk. Anger at someone I've come to trust, thought of as my "friend," and whom I've depended on for a safe place to live. Found out he revealed some personal information about me that I don't wish to have shared, at a pizza place where we used to go. Walked out of the joint before my drink could come. Called the place up, asked for the owner's son. Told him how he humiliated me by shouting my personal information across a crowded restaurant. His father begged me to come back, that I am like family to them, not a customer (although I always pay) and that I can slap his son's face. But I don't think I will. So I called my "friend" who betrayed me and told him off. That he better make things right with me. When he said he wasn't responsible for what I asked him to do, I told him he would have to answer to God for what he had done to me. So I did give him an ultimatum. But he refused it. There is nothing left for me to do but move. I think I would feel so much better if I were free of him and the nosy, meddlesome neighbors who keep harrassing me, and the pizza place, too. After I told off my "friend" of the past ten years, I realized something strange. I didn't feel SO TIRED anymore!! The next day, I called someone I know from a local church who had promised to help me find housing in time of need. She is looking for a "cooperative living" situation appropriate to my income but I really just wish I could live alone. And she should know of something in a week. And my situation isn't as unusual as I think. That afternoon, I was able to walk on Ocean Beach -- and even to sit in the sand under the sun for a while, something I haven't been able to do all summer. On the drive to the first swing dance of the season, in the car all alone (or was I??), -- I realized something. I had finally expressed my anger at the person who I was truly mad at -- instead of my best friend Paula. Often, when my "friend" would piss me off, I would yell at Paula or write her a nasty note instead. However hurt she would feel, Paula always stood by me because she knew who I was really angry with. And the only reason I was able to finally tell him off was because -- she's not here anymore!! Or is she? I know she would be glad, IS glad that I finally vented my anger at the right person! (Although I realize that he is not "the right person" for me!!) They say that "anger turned inward turns into depression." I've had Chronic Fatigue since the Fall (early October) of 2005 when I walked out of my "friend's" condo for good. Something he said. Paula always said that someday he was going to "do something." And that would be it for me. I have a feeling I may not be feeling so tired anymore!! (Although I did get dizzy after just a few dances last Saturday night! For more information on the Shoreline Swing monthly dances, go to: http://www.Shorelineswingct.org And sleeping better on some nights now!!) Could it be because I don't feel so angry anymore? And that I would consider a return to perfect health "payment enough!!"

Friday, September 12, 2008

"On Going Green..."

This will be a "re-print" of an article I just read on changing lifestyles due to the high cost of living. The Best of the Worst by Sue Halpern "One day last spring, while bagging my family's usual load of groceries..., I was handed...the cash register tape for $112.65 -- which is to say that I had just spent more than a hundred dollars on food that would not get my three-person family to the end of the week." "Welcome to inflation...recession...worry." "...I had planted vegetable gardens before, but this one was different. It felt protective. My retirement account may have lost 18% of its value...but red bell peppers..and mesclun....and organic broccoli...were still...in my future." "Competence is reassuring. Self-reliance is, too. And it's money in the bank when you can fix your own vacuum, bake your own bread, change your own oil, can your own tomatoes. (Well, I wouldn't go that far)....{sic}. "Still, too much self-reliance can be too much of a good thing...when ...Robert D. Putnam wrote his book, 'Bowling Alone,' he observed that Americans had become increasingly isolated from one another -- too busy doing their own things to join service organizations or know the names of the people who lived on either side of them." "...I spent some time in Portland, Maine, talking to folks who had set up something they called a 'time bank,' where people traded what they knew and what they could do for what they didn't have and what they could use. A couple of hours raking leaves might get them an appointment with an acupuncturist or math tutoring for their teenager. And tutoring that teenager might get the mathematician a bushel of ripe tomatoes or a rototiller for an afternoon." , and the rewards went far beyond whatever goods and services were distributed. People who might never have known each other -- a refugee from Sudan, for instance, and a local physician -- met as equals." "It was an economy that relied on the diversity of needs and wants and skills, not on money "People who had little in the way of material goods were able to secure them. Friendships arose and trust was built, so that when an elderly widow got sick, there were people to drive her to the hospital and people who volunteered to feed her cats and people who stopped by with bunches of wildflowers and people who collected her mail. The worst of times was also the best of times." "I think of the time bank often these days as I watch prices rise and houses get repossessed and corporations lay off more workers in a single day than lived in the town where I grew up. It suggests a map for the uncharted territory ahead: Capitalize on your resources -- the ones that have nothing to do with money; know your neighbors, share what you know and what you have -- even time is a currency." "...It just may be that...paring down demanded by a reversal in fortunes will be more satisfying and fulfilling than what came before...I see more and more people riding their bikes to run errands....taking public transportation or carpooling..." "...the townsfolk are getting to know one another better, people are more fit, they are slowing down..., they are sending less carbon into the atmosphere." "My neighbors, who have no choice but to stop and smell the flowers, are finding, much to their surprise, that they are sweet." OK. So what does this mean for my current lifestyle? I just want to share with you for a moment what I have been doing in the way of "going green" and "community time banks." (1) Summer 2007 and 2008 June through October "The Growing Season" Weeding and watering the front gardens at the housing complex where I live. I call it "the suburbs," in New London, just outside the city. These city apartments have beautiful gardens landscaped throughout the grounds. I have volunteered my evenings for the past two summers, to help weed and water the front flower gardens, and mulched trees, shrubbery and grass. The residents consist mostly of seniors. There are very few of us who have the time, the strength, the youth and who are willing to do this physical work. But I enjoy it very much. I find that the seniors who are homebound can sit outside and enjoy the beautiful scenery. And it is good work experience for me, as I ponder my future in Landscape Gardening. Also, I don't have to drive. I can just step outside to go to my job!! And I am able to work alone, which is what I do best!! In exchange for living in a safe, quiet place and not paying a high rent. (2) September 21, 2008: "It's National Ballroom Dance Week At Shoreline Swing's monthly swing dance, there is a one-hour lesson before the dance, before the band starts. If I go for the lesson, at least part of it, I will be able to help the newcomers learn the basics of the East Coast Swing. In exchange, I will have some potential new dance partners. I am very patient in helping new students learn to dance, one on one and I have a lot of experience in this. Not to mention that this is something I love to do!! (3) Summer / Fall 2008: "Turkey at the Beach!" Bring my own turkey sandwich lunch to Ocean Beach and go for a long walk on the Ocean Beach Boardwalk, where the renovations should be complete by Christmas. I went nuts when the entire boardwalk was closed in the winter of 2006 and I wasn't able to go for daily walks there. Indeed, I lost my health. (4) Fall 2008: "Back on the Chain Gang" I need to get my bike chain fixed as soon as possible in order that I may become even more green. I could then ride my Trek mountain bike to Ocean Beach, instead of driving! (5) 2008-09 +: "Check Out Your Local Library" Have you ever heard of a library card?? a friend once asked. So, yeah, I do have one. I just used it to sign out a book, a brand new hardcover, by Luanne Rice, "Last Kiss." It would cost about 25.00 in the store. I read an article about this local writer who lives in both NYC and Old Lyme, CT in the New London Times. She writes about a beach community in Connecticut where she grew up. As well as a sense of familiarity to me, this novel also deals with a tragic death the local community is dealing with. So, it's about death and mourning, which "appealed" to me. (The topic of death always appeals to a writer! :) (6) 2002-09: "Don't forget the Used Bookstores" Another good source for books is the Book Barn, used book stores in Niantic, CT, on Main Street and upper West Main Street, about a mile apart. I've enjoyed reading many Nora Roberts romance and murder mysteries from the Book Barn and now enjoy the books by Kathy Reichs, which are very well written murder mysteries. Watch the parking at the upper location. I almost hit someone while backing out today!! The place is becoming more popular, attracting out of towners.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Newsworthy: "A Clip Show"

Mental Illness Linked to Short Life "Antipsychotics and obesity could be factors." By Marilyn Elias USA Today Thurs., May 3, 2007 "Adults with serious mental illness treated in public systems die about 25 years earlier than Americans overall, a gap that's widened since the early 90s when major mental disorders cut life spans by 10 to 15 years." "About 60 % of the 10.3 million people with serious mental illness get care in public facilities, 90 % as outpatients....illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression...3 out of 5 die from mostly preventable diseases." "Obesity...little excercise...newer type of antipsychotic drug, on the market for 18 years that can cause drastic weight gains, promoting diabetes and heart disease...contributing to deaths from cardiovascular disease." "Mentally ill ...patients often aren't good health advocates for themselves...great difficulty getting appointments....THE PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM IS UNDERFUNDED AND IT'S GOTTEN WORSE OVER THE YEARS." "Medical needs of the mentally ill are least likely to fall through the cracks when psychiatrists and primary care doctors practice in the same facility, according to a 2003 report from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. But integrated clinics are quite rare says Bazelon policy director Chris Koyanagi." "Sometimes...disregard medical symptoms of the mentally ill, chalking them up to the patient's disorder," says "Kenneth Duckworth of the National Alliance on Mental Illness."

"Many struggle for decades to overcome mental illness....and after all that struggle, it's particularly cruel to think that you would die young."

Natchaug Expansion Benefits Area's Young Mental Patients

Hospital has sites in Groton, Montville, Norwich

by Judy Benson

Day Staff Writer

Sun, Dec. 20, 2007

"The private, non profit hospital provides psychiatric care for both adults and children at its main hospital and at outpatient centers throughout eastern Connecticut."

"The expansion, though modest, adds enough beds to enable Natchaug to care for 100 more children and teenagers each year...which would meet about 98 per cent of the need."

"The hospital currently has 12 beds for youths, with an average stay of 10 to 15 days."

"Patients often have to stay in hospital emergency departments, waiting for a room to become available at Natchaug."

"About 500 youths are admitted to Natchaug each year during a psychiatric crisis."

"Youths admitted to Natchaug first undergo a medical exam to determine if any underlying health issues may be contributing to their mental health problems."

"The expansion not only fills a need for more patient beds, but also provides much needed space for staff to meet with patients and families."

"We're thrilled about it," said Peter Smith, medical director of chidren's and adolescent services at Natchaug."

Healthcare Reform: Imperative, Not Optional

By Bruce D. Cummings, President and CEO, Lawrence & Memorial

April 18, 2008

"Devoted the greater part of an afternoon visiting with members of Connecticut's Congressional delegation to press our concerns about the increasingly fragile conditions of hospitals and of physician's practices, and the need to prevent further erosion in Medicaid and Medicare funding -- both of which already pay doctors, hospitals, and home health agencies less than what it costs to care for patients insured through those programs; both of them targeted by the Bush administration for hefty cuts; neither of them sustainable in their current incarnation."

"Overall, the convention as well as our meetings with our delegation had a rather somber, almost funereal tone."

"The new model should cover everyone, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances or pre-existing health conditions."

For more information, go to:

http://www.healthtransformation.net/ for the specifics of Gingrich's approach or

Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon's website, under "The Healthy Americans Act."

Diabetes Denial

Health Report by Kelly Griffin

AARP

Nov. & Dec. 2005

"Five million Americans have this disease and don't know it."

"Though early diabetes may have no symptoms, possible warning signs include excessive thirst and urination, daytime fatigue, and blurred vision."

"The most common test for diabetes may not be the most accurate one. The fasting plasma glucose test...is relatively cheap and easy, and it's recommended by the American Diabetes Association."

"But some studies suggest this test my miss up to half the people with type 2 diabetes...the body's tissues gradually become less able to use the hormone insulin to take in glucose from the blood for fuel."

"Type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas stops producing insulin, is usually diagnosed by young adulthood."

"...the first sign of type 2 diabetes is high blood sugar after meals, also called postprandial hyperglycemia. Only later in the disease does blood sugar remain high after hours of fasting."

"That's one reason many early cases..go undetected."

"More sensitive is the oral glucose tolerance test...it's more expensive and more of a hassle than the fasting test, which is partly why some experts...oppose its widespread use."

"But many other experts...consider it to be the gold standard for diagnosing diabetes."

"Medicare provides for 10 hours of diabetes training in the first year and two hours of follow-up training each year after that."

Work Can Profit from Less Stress

by Anthony Cronin

The Day

June 10, 2007

"Work related stress is taking a toll on business -- and on us."

"Dagle, a fitness expert and owner of Fit4You Fitness Center..in Groton, syas any type of program that can prevent stress and keep employees healthy simply makes sense."

"Wellness -- ranging from eating well, to exercising, to getting enough sleep -- also helps with our stress-induced lives."

"Stress in the workplace is really a bottom-line issue. Stressed out employees aren't the most productive folks -- and no company wants that."

"Health care expenses are higher for those who report high levels of stress...increasing at alarming rates...low employee morale, health complaints and plenty of job grumbling."

"Intervention is necessary to...end the problem or...limit effects on employees."

"An evaluation may be necessary to determine how to...minimize stress in the workplace."

Depression: Many Workers Have a Secret

by Tammy Joyner

The Day

Cox News Service

Sunday, July 15, 2007

(Atlanta) -- "Except for her husband and some other family members and close friends, no one knew about her depression."

"There's a stigma...people look at you differently, like (you're) a crazy person...stigma...it's a disease, just like cancer."

"Unlike many other illnesses, depression remains largely a societal taboo that affects twice as many women as men."

"Nowhere is that more evident than in the workplace. Depression costs U.S. business at least $44 billion a year in absenteeism, lost productivity and direct treatment costs, according to Mental Health America, an Alexandria, Va. based non-profit."

"People have insurance but mental health coverage is not on parity with other medical coverage, says Ellyn Jaeger, director of public policy and advocacy for Mental Health America of Georgia."

"Mental health benefits get short shrift, even though depression is a leading cause of workplace disability worldwide."

"Compounding the problem can be the environment at many companies, where many employees are working extra hard and feeling overwhelmed."

"Depression is one of the key obstacles preventing some working women from being successful at work, according to a study....by the American Medical Women's Association and...Mental Health America. "

"The pressure of work is one of the most common reasons for depression...in some cases, it has derailed careers."

Until next time,

Denise

(It's a beautiful day and I've spent most of it indoors, horror of horrors!! That's how important it is for me to get my message out there!!)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Museum of Fine Arts

"REGIONAL IMPRESSIONISM" Paintings by Denise Hickey Oils on Canvas 1992-93 1. "Wheeler Pond," Montville, CT From a photograph Freestyle at a friend's house in Norwich, CT (1992) 2. "Untitled" Montville Adult Ed course Taught by Teacher (Name Unknown) from Ohio (1992) 3. "Spring Freshet" Saturday Workshop at Mohegan Firehouse Montville, CT Freestyle, Original Idea (1992) Ohio Teacher, Name Unknown 4. "Untitled" Artware Store Class, Groton, CT Teacher Christina taught us to see all colors of the spectrum in all things... (1993) 5. "Academia" Class taught at Artware Store by artist in residence at Granite House, New London, CT Alexander from Russia (1993) Shown in: "The Third Crossing" Annual Juried Exhibition at "The Hygienic" in New London, CT Guest Juror: Jeffrey Anderson Director of the Florence Griswold Museum April 26 - May 24, 2008 For more info on The Hygienic, visit: http://www.hygienic.org/ Open Thursday-Sunday