Goodbye Mom.

Mom travelled with us in spirit.

Mom traveled with us in spirit.

Oh Guac friends, Teresa here, it has been too long! And this year has not been easy for a few reasons.

My mom passed away from aggressive breast cancer. The blessing was that with dementia, pain is perceived differently. She said she felt tired and weird sometimes, or itchy. The doctor said that a lot of dementia patients show pain by getting angry. They don’t understand the feelings they have. Mom was gentle and sweet to the end, just itchy and tired.

She loved having family around her, and we were there. My siblings, grandchildren, and great-grands were in and out of her room daily.

The last few days of her life my sisters and I stayed in her room at the nursing home. We sang and laughed, sometimes we prayed. Let it be known that sleeping in a geri-chair will make you feel like a pretzel by morning. That was time I will always treasure, in spite of the back ache.

On her last day we kept the room quieter. I think she was hanging on to be part of our party. She couldn’t speak, and most of the time her eyes were closed, but she smiled when we talked to her, and responded once in a while. Finally, Mom went to sleep peacefully, on February 13th. We are sure that my Dad was the happiest guy in heaven on Valentine’s Day.

Her service was small but lovely. She would have been embarrassed by all the praise. It was sad to say goodbye, but the family was together and she would have loved that.

In June, my sisters and I buried her ashes with my Dad in South Carolina. The three of us took time to bond and have fun on the trip. We spent one night at the beach. That evening we got temporary rose tattoos on our ankles in her honor and stopped at one of the restaurants. We toasted Mom. On the way home, the three of us lay on the hotel bed and chatted. I’m sure Mom was there smiling

The Final Hours

Here we are in the last hours of 2013.

It’s been a year of changes.

Spring brought the death of a dear friend – something I hadn’t experienced in my adult years.

The last days of April brought great news. Another grandchild was due in December.

May gave me my first freelancing job – writing for Examiner.com.

I was turned down for one Master’s program and accepted into another. Two courses into the program and I know I’m on the right path.

What else happened in 2013? How about press passes, celebrity interviews, a new conference and new friends. I used my talents to help friends with their projects and delighted in their success. My self-perception has changed throughout the year.

My grown children amazed me once again. My daughter & son-in-law welcomed their new baby on December 1. She’s as beautiful as her mom and older sister. My daughter is becoming a wonderful mom.

My son graduated from college and got his first full-time job. He became an an international traveler this year, having traveled to Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria and now Panama.

Now 2014 is little more than an hour away. I have high hopes for it.

What about you? How did 2013 change you? We’d love to hear about it.

Wishing you all the best in 2014!

 

Having a Grand time with family

We’ve been ‘away’ for a while. Hope you didn’t miss us too much. The Sisters have been very busy the last month.

Teresa has been busy with family things. Right now, she’s running Camp Oma. All her grandchildren are taking turns staying with Oma and having fun. Her duties include acting as a chauffeur to drive the grands back and forth to several activity camps. Don’t let her tiredness fool you, Teresa loves being Oma to five grandchildren.

She’ll rejoin us in a few more weeks after a much-deserved nap and a few cups of strong coffee.

Being a grandparent is something relatively new for me. My little granddaughter will turn three next month. She’s reached the stage where she looks less of a toddler and more like a little girl. It’s great fun conversing with her. The facial expressions she comes up with are hilarious. She looks more like her mom every time I see her.

Meeting my first grandchild.  I hardly think I'm old enough.

Meeting my first grandchild. I hardly think I’m old enough to have one.

People talk about how their dogs greet them when they return home after work. It’s nothing compared to the welcome you get from a grandchild. On my last visit, I pulled up and parked on the street next to their fenced-in yard. She couldn’t see that it was me. When I got out of the car, I walked to the fence and said “beep, beep” pretty loud. She spun around, had a great big smile and ran full-tilt down the little slope. I didn’t think she’d stop before she hit the fence! I felt wonderful.

Speaking of my little angel, she’s going to be a big sister in early December. Her mom and papi found out on Monday the baby is a little sister. Everyone is very excited about the upcoming arrival. My little grand lays her head on her mommy’s tummy to listen to the baby. They have some wonderful photos of the two together.

Her mother is my oldest child. I remember when she became a big sister. It was a great time.

What’s your favorite experience or memory as a grandparent? Or, as a grandchild?

Worrisome storms and beautiful sunsets

Beautiful sunset after a hard July thunderstorm

Beautiful sunset after a hard July thunderstorm (photo credit: Ann Arbaugh)

I took this photo on my return trip home after visiting with my daughter and her family. An hour before this I’d been driving near Elkton. Interstate 95 was backed up with the Fourth of July weekend mess.

A strong storm front was coming through the area. Not wanting to be stuck on 95, I took the first exit I could and hoped my navigation app would guide me through unfamiliar territory.

The closer I drove to Elkton, the closer I got to the front. My route took me right under it. Clouds loomed over me, dark and foreboding. Goosebumps crawled up my skin. I kept glancing up while trying to keep my eyes on the road.

The clouds formed a low ceiling above me that kept getting closer. One area looked like it was boiling downward in an odd way. It made my stomach turn.

My instincts fought with each other. One said ‘find a place to pull off, grab your camera and take some photos.’ You don’t get this close to a front like this every day.

I wasn’t the only one with that idea. There was a man who’d parked his car on the roadside and was either taking video or photos.

My self-preservation instinct was screaming ‘get the heck out of Dodge’! I wanted to floor the accelerator and speed down the road to safety. I prayed for the people in that area and hoped there wasn’t a tornado being born above us.

The remainder of my ride was quiet. During my last half hour, the clouds started to turn colors as the sun set. It looked like it could be spectacular. I pulled off the road to a flat grassy area next to a horse pasture. A few moments of waiting paid off with several nice shots.

I got back in the car and drove two minutes down the road to an even better vantage point. Patience paid off once again.

My thoughts wandered to some events and problems from the last few months. How many times did I feel like I was in a storm, battered and anxious? Did I need to forge ahead or should I wait it out?

The sunset? A reminder that there is beauty, peace and quiet on the other side of the storm.

Ann’s Great Turtle Adventure

turtle 1

 
A funny thing happened…on the way home.

Tuesday evenings usually mean yoga after work. Tonight it also meant I was also going to a friend’s book signing. By mid-afternoon, I decided to skip both and go straight home. I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that I needed to leave work and go outside.

My commute is fairly short, just less than twenty minutes. I keep my radio off and let my brain go skipping merrily down any road it desires. Good ideas come from those little jaunts.

So, a funny thing happened on the way home. I’m driving along about 4:30 pm when something ahead catches my attention. There’s a big turtle walking alongside of the road. I looked for a driveway to pull into but there weren’t many easy access ones at that point. I drove a little further. Another car was turning around in the entrance to the next street. Maybe they saw the turtle and were going back.

A few yards beyond that point is a fire department. Without hesitation, I pulled into the parking lot and headed back to rescue the turtle.

‘I am my mother’s daughter’ was the thought that popped into my mind.

Slowly driving back to the spot, I kept looking but couldn’t see the turtle. Maybe someone else beat me to him. Maybe someone grabbed him for turtle soup. I hoped that wasn’t the case. I pulled off into the next road and headed back in my original direction. Then I saw it. Somehow he got over the bump at the side of the road and into the grass several inches above the road. Safe for the moment.

But his neck was sticking out and he was turning back toward the road. This time I pulled off into a driveway two houses up. I shut the car off, grabbed my keys and hurried towards the endangered creature. He kept walking but turned toward the road again. I started running.

Did I mention that I was in heels and a skirt today? And no pockets for keys.

I caught up with the turtle. A snapper. He wasn’t big. He – or she – was huge. I’m talking pounds of turtle. As big as a dinner plate. Six inches of grass stood between him and turtle heaven. I started to reach down and…

Part Two:
Then a funny thing happened. A photo popped into my head. Over the weekend, I was catching up on several days’ worth of newspapers and other reading material. There was a short article about picking up turtles. I’d flipped past it but something made me go back. A photo showed someone’s hands safely holding a large turtle. The person’s hands were at the back of the shell, on either side of the tail. The author said not to pick them up by the tail because it would injure the turtle. Interesting, I thought, moving on to the next article.

Now here I am in a skirt and heels on the side of the road, in someone’s front yard, trying to help this turtle. My keyless hand grabbed the shell on the right side of his tail. That’s when his neck shot out. I couldn’t let go or he’d land in the road. I held on and with the other hand caught his tail for balance making sure not to injure him.
The entire time I was picking him up cars were driving by in both directions. I kept holding on to my reluctant friend who continued to reach back for a snap every few seconds. Could I find a break in the traffic and carry the ‘little’ bugger across the road where he’d been headed?

That wasn’t going to happen. He was way too heavy and too eager to snap at me. Never mind that I couldn’t stand up straight without ending up with his sharp claws digging into my abdomen. I turned around, carrying him like I was ready to sneak up on an unsuspecting victim, and headed for a large garden beside the house. Ready to jump back, I lowered him close to the ground and dropped him while yanking my hands out of reach.

I ran back to my car to grab my cell phone. Nobody would believe this story unless I had some proof. My friend cooperated for a few photos. I thought about the homeowners. They might reach in there to pull weeds or a child might get into that garden. Nobody answered at their door nor at the neighbor’s house.

Success at the third house. Try explaining a turtle rescue to a complete stranger, through the crack of her door, while her dog barks in the background. She must think I’m completely nuts. Ah, no, it seems her husband had seen the turtle a few days before. She’d get him to call the neighbors and warn them.

Warning on the way and snapping turtle out of danger, I walked back to my car and continued home. Of all the things I accomplished Tuesday that rescue was the most important. I saved a life.

I opened the photo (below) on my laptop. Someone looking at this photo might think it’s a close-up and the turtle wasn’t that big. Then I saw the pinecone in front. The pinecone was about three and a half inches long. A dinner plate was too small. I went to the kitchen and pulled out an oval platter. That was more like it. The snapper’s shell was perhaps ten inches by twelve inches. Add a few inches for neck, tail and legs. That’s one mighty snapper.

Tonight, somewhere in Maryland, a family sat down to dinner. One person turns to the other. “I saw the strangest thing along the road on the way home tonight, honey,” they say. “There was this woman in a skirt.”

“And she was holding a turtle in the air.”

(written by Ann Arbaugh)

A Mother’s Love is Empowering

Teresa and Mom My mother loves me. She doesn’t remember what she had for lunch, but she knows she loves me. From birth, my mother told me what to do, she punished me when I misbehaved, and she wouldn’t let me go some of the places I wanted to go. All things a child resents. She also taught me her skills, praised good behavior, and exposed me to healthy activities. All things children take for granted, until they grow up. Of course, love from family and friends helps to empower a person. Love is hard to define, but a powerful force.

As a mother, I tried to do the same as my mother. My children know I love them unconditionally. They know that I am their greatest cheerleader. When they were children we fought, but we also laughed and cried together. My daughters are strong loving women with children of their own. They have the same struggles that all generations have. Though the challenges now include more technology and more complex social issues, I see my daughters handling them with love.

Love is empowering and humans need love from birth. A baby who is never handled and loved can suffer failure to thrive. A child who is loved has more desire to become successful. Imagine the difference between these two children. Child one tries to learn to play the clarinet. The inevitable racket is met with negative feedback. Child two’s squalls are met with encouragement. You have to love a child learning an instrument. Phrases like “you’re getting better” or “you can do it” empower children to believe in themselves.

My mother empowered me to become the person I am because she loves me. As I pursue my dreams, I know that she will tell me “you can do it.” Even when she is gone, I will still hear her saying “you can do it.” Years from now I may not remember what I had for lunch, but I will always love my children unconditionally and tell them “you can do it.”

Michael Cole, Linda’s Teen Heartthrob

linda-on-the-go_2012smAs a teen-aged girl, I admit to having had a full-blown one-sided affair with actor, Michael Cole. The Mod Squad was my show of choice, and Michael was my ultimate favorite actor. He was so handsome, mysterious, KEWL–and yes, spelled just like that–and I was not the only teen-aged girl to have him on the brain nearly 24/7 in those days. I was fortunate to be given the chance to interview him in the early 1990s. I was long-since a grown-up and Michael had also changed. Yet that voice, those dark curls, and that introspective, unique personality was still there, oh-so-evident and seductive. The man offered to make dinner for me after we’d finished our talk at his kitchen table. I turned him down. To this day…. Well, I did turn him down, but here’s a link to my interview with Michael Cole: http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewarticle.asp?id=39589.

Teresa’s Guacamole Recipes

Teresa QuillIt only seems appropriate to start the recipe section with a recipe for Guacamole. I have adapted these to suit my needs.
 
Teresa’s Easy Guacamole
 
3 Haas avocados
¼ cup chopped white onion.
1 tsp minced garlic
3 Roma tomatoes chopped
2 Tbs lime juice or juice of 1 lime
One small can chopped jalepenos- mild
Salt & pepper to taste.
 
Peel and mash avacados
Stir in everything & chill. . .if you can wait.
Serve with tortilla chips

 
Explanations/ adaptations:

Haas avocados taste good but use whatever you can find.
I like chunks of white onion, but any onion would work, just chop it finer.
Minced garlic comes in a jar or a tube and  keeps in the frig.
Roma (Italian) tomatoes are a little firmer than other types.
Fresh limes are nice, if you have one. If not, juice is fine.
Yes, canned peppers. I’m lazy.

 
 
Teresa’s Really Fast Guacamole
 
3 Haas avocados mashed
3 Tbs Salsa medium
2 Tbs Lime juice.
Salt and Pepper
 
Mix all together.
Serve with tortilla chips.
 

Linda: Guac Sisters, Post 1

linda-on-the-go_2012smHair, Hair, Everywhere

Why, oh why, does it take maybe a day-and-a-half for my eyebrows to start re-growing those aggravating, pinprick sorta hairs which make me have to tweeze yet again? Fercryinoutloud! I just did this, well, obviously a few days ago and here it’s time to give it another round. Putting on my make-up takes me about twenty minutes on a good day. If I’m writing on a deadline, I’ll scramble downstairs to my office, carting my make-up bag with me, and dash it all on my face somewhere around lunchtime … as I scarf down a sandwich or soup … or whatever I can find leftover in the trash—oops, I mean fridge.

If I’m not on a deadline, I can have the luxury of doing the deed upstairs, before I dress and before I come downstairs for some serious work. Those are my, “Ahhhh…” 9-5 days.

This is the life of a Guac Sister, or at least one of them. And this is the sort of crucial discussion point we take on during any one of our summit-meeting luncheons at Mariachi’s in Frederick, MD. The centerpiece is always—and I do mean ALWAYS—a heaping, multi-serving of delish guacamole served to us, usually, by the best server in town … heck, likely in all of Maryland … a tiny, delightful lady named Catalina. She never fails to offer the loveliest smile and, not to mention, she has great hair!

The Guac Sisters began a number of years ago, loosely, in this very same restaurant. I was then the President of the Frederick Chapter of Maryland Writers’ Association and we had a guest speaker for that particular evening. Teresa was coming, and she invited Ann … and the Guac Games were on! The next significant meeting I recall between us was right after I was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2010. I was soon scheduled to start chemo and had just gone with my best friend to buy a wig. She didn’t join us for lunch, and I met Teresa and Ann—again at Mariachi’s—sporting my new hair just to get used to it. And to see what they might think of how “real” it looked. I remember vividly that they were the second and third person to see me in my store-bought ‘do, and they made me feel good and safe amongst them. For me, a sisterhood was born.

And Ann soon thereafter faced her own difficult issue—a heart attack. Teresa was in the thick of some serious family concerns, as well as health issues. Each time we felt we had to vent, seriously let loose, a flurry of Facebook messages and e-mails flew between us as to when our next Guac Fest would be … at Mariachi’s. We have become a solid trio. We can talk about anything. Write about anything. And enjoy every flippin’ minute of it no matter the tragedies going on around us.

Like my hairy eyebrows. Seriously, folks. That’s a tragedy. Just a bit over two years ago, I was bemoaning a LACK of hair post-chemo. Here I am now whining about it flying in every which direction above my eyeballs. Life is indeed entertaining for the Guac Sisters.

Welcome! Who are the Guac Sisters?

Welcome! We are the Guac Sisters- Teresa Quill, Linda Alexander and Ann Arbaugh

We don’t remember exactly how we started, a writers meeting  I think, but we bonded over guacamole. Three women who write, pray, and love guacamole. Last year, Linda had cancer, Ann had a heart attack, and Teresa had unexpected family turmoil and the usual getting older body crap. In spite of life, we remain positive and ready for the next exciting adventure.

Erratic schedules keep our get-togethers to a minimum, thus allowing others in Frederick to enjoy the avacados we don’t consume.  After a year of sharing goofy stories, and challenges, we decided we need to a place to share. No politics or religion, just interesting life stories, recipies, rants, and other unrelated BS.

How did you meet your lunch buddies?