Monthly Archives: January 2012

Do Pets Go To Heaven?

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My Sweet Girl, Molly

(Prelude:  I recently saw a Facebook post from someone whose beloved pet had passed.  The remembrance of my own grief welled within me, and I thought this essay I wrote at the time might bring comfort to those who have suffered the loss of their loving companion.)

I listen to the rhythm of my dog Molly’s gentle breathing as she sleeps peacefully. I stroke the baby softness of her ears.  I want to hug her, but I’m afraid she’ll awake and have another seizure.  So I watch her slumber and tenderly hold her paws in my hands as she sighs heavily. How I want to freeze this moment in time because I know I’ll never get it back.  And my heart aches because I just can’t fully grasp the fact that after eight years of unrelenting love and steadfast loyalty, she’ll be gone.

Molly was a happy yellow Labrador retriever with a unique intelligence and brightness in her eyes.  She was everything that was good and pure.  She was never without a silly grin and a big, firm kiss for you, along with a constant wag in her tail. I was forever under her watchful eye as she followed me wherever I went. Anything I said or did was of the utmost importance to her. She listened intently whenever I spoke to her, cocking her head sideways and trying so hard to understand what I was saying.    She watched me do my daily household chores like it was the most interesting thing in the world and stood guard at the door of the bathroom when I showered.  Each day she walked me to the door as I left for work and waited patiently for me watching out the window until she saw my car pull back into the driveway at night.  She then bounded enthusiastically as I entered the house, covering me with doggy kisses.  She had unlimited patience, always satisfied with whatever attention I could manage to give her.  She was good-natured to a fault even through the shots and torment of the disease of diabetes and the seizures that ensued.  Accepting her passing was hard and left me grief-stricken.

I know some people don’t understand the bond between humans and their pets.  There are those folks at the opposite end of my spectrum who think nothing of mistreating animals and using them for profit, whether it be for an ugly sport like dog fighting or for over breeding or warped entertainment.  I instead view them as gifts of God’s creation to be loved and enjoyed.

Before God created man on the sixth day, he filled the earth with animals of all shapes and sizes. I believe there were many purposes for this, not the least of which would be companionship on the journey. Church doctrine and theology teaches that only souls go to heaven, but the question that haunts me at this moment is, will I ever be with Molly again?  Heaven is supposed to be the ultimate paradise, and I couldn’t help but think that if God filled the earth with these beautiful creatures, why not heaven as well so that we may truly live in eternal happiness surrounded by the many joys they bring to us?  What would paradise be without them?

I was walking in the field behind my house the other day, missing the presence of Molly girl romping gleefully beside me, when I came upon two tiny fawns peering at me quizzically from under the brush.  I thought with a chuckle how Molly would have gotten a charge out of chasing them out and down the path.  I was once again seized with the heart-wrenching ache of grief.  I looked up to the sky tearfully and said, “Did you see those deer, girl?” I imagined her smiling down upon me with her silly grin, tail wagging wildly. 

Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs.  I believe that if I somehow warrant the kind of life that allows me entrance through those pearly gates of heaven, there will be my Molly girl, waiting patiently for me with that silly grin and big, firm kiss.

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NEW JERSEY – GOTTA LOVE IT!

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I went to pick up a take out order at a local Italian restaurant that was pretty much a scene from the Billy Joel song.  There were cute little round tables in a darkened room with votive candles softly flickering from each one.  I wanted to order a bottle of red, a bottle of white AND a bottle of rose and just hang around and drink in the romantic atmosphere.  I was at least ten minutes early and thought I’d have to wait around a bit, so when I approached the counter manned by a dark, hunky Italian in a tight tee-shirt (Ray, the owner), I was a little surprised to see my order sitting there. “Wow, is that mine already? I asked.  “You, Sue?” he questioned.  I nodded. “Yeah, this is it,” he said. “That was quick,” I commented. He answered emphatically, “Hey, we don’t screw around here.”

Only in Jersey.  Don’t you just love it?! I was born and raised outside of Trenton and this guy Ray is the kind of guy I went to school with – a Catholic school dominated by kids from the Italian section of Trenton.  Germani, DeAngelo, Tomasulo, Conti, D’Agostino.  These were the guys who propped themselves against their lockers wearing their white shirts, jacket and tie and with greased back hair cocked their heads sideways and murmured a dragged out “hhhheeeeeeyyyy” as you walked by.  No ego problems there.

I spent summers going down the shore and not to the beach.  We sunned and jumped the waves in Seaside Heights and walked the boards at the Park long before those obnoxious punks from the Jersey Shore show invaded and gave us a bad rep. I can almost smell the cotton candy and caramel corn wafting from the shops as I write this.  I am drooling for a slice and a Coke from Maruca’s Pizza. I can hear the wheels spin and the bells ding as the music pumps and blasts the roller coaster into oblivion. Take me back.  And who couldn’t love the birthplace of Sinatra, Springsteen and Bon Jovi; Nicholson, Travolta and Streep, not to mention me?!

Way back when I couldn’t wait to get out of Jersey for good.  I had a dormant hippie gene within me that just wanted to graduate and escape to California, which I did, but then ended up in Pennsylvania of all places.  What was I thinking?! Fate plays cruel jokes… Little did I know how much I’d miss this tiny, expensive, overpopulated state.

Now that I’m back, I’m loving it. I’m loving that all the people around me speak the same language with the same accent. It’s the only state where it’s understood that the plural of “you” is “yous.” So now when I say, “yous guys” nobody asks me where I’m from. The car insurance and taxes are high, not to mention the tolls on the Garden State Parkway.  Don’t even get me started on that.  But I love driving North and seeing signs for Toms River, Island State Park, Seaside Heights and Asbury Park or South to Barnegat and Atlantic City. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I realize this is where I live again. I love that I’m here, right in the midst of all this familiarity I knew as a kid. Who said you can’t go home?

“Heh,” Ray called out as I left the restaurant. “You have good night, yeah?” 

“Yeah, yous, too,” I smiled over my shoulder to him and the waitress.

New Jersey – you either love it or you hate it.  One thing’s for sure, we don’t screw around here.

STUPENDOUS SUPER BOWL SENSATIONS

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I’m not really much of a football fan, but I will watch the Super Bowl.  It’s mainly to see the half time show and mostly for the food, fun and snacks! These are my favorite recipes for two awesome appetizers. I’m not really sure how or where I acquired them, but they do the tantalizing taste bud trick every time.

So play ball!  Or is it fore?!  Strike?! Game on?!  One thing I do know is that you will surely score a touchdown at your gathering with these tasty treats.

 BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken drained (or two pieces cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts – I usually use the breasts and boil them until cooked but the canned stuff works, too)

¼ cup pepper sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot) – if you like it hotter, add more to taste

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup Ranch salad dressing

1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 bunch celery, cleaned and cut into 4 inch pieces

Taco chips

Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat until heated through.  Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing.  Cook, stirring until well blended and warm.  Mix in half of the shredded cheese and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover and cook on low setting until hot and bubbly.  Serve with celery sticks and taco chips.

CRABSTERS

8 ounces lump crabmeat

1 (5 Ounce) jar Kraft Old English cheese spread (usually in refrigerator section of store)

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

½ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

½ teaspoon garlic powder

5 English muffins split in half

In a large bowl combine cheese spread, mayonnaise, butter, Old Bay Seasoning and garlic powder.  Gently fold crab meat into mixture.  Spread mixture evenly over the English muffin halves.  Bake in a 425 degree oven until topping is golden brown, about 10 – 15 minutes.  Cut into quarters and serve.

These freeze great if you want to make them ahead.  Place them on a cookie sheet before baking and put in the freezer until frozen.  Pull out, quarter them and place in a freezer bag. You can bake them directly from the freezer.  Takes about 15 minutes if frozen.

Procrastination

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Procrastination: 

  •  To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness.
  •  To postpone or delay needlessly.

Sound familiar?

Procrastination – why do we do it?  Why don’t we get that we’re doing it when we are?  Why don’t we step up and get going when we know we should?  Who knows?  Maybe it’s because it’s a daunting task that taxes us to our limit. Maybe because we’ve done it so many times before that we’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. Maybe the task is so boring and rudimentary that it sends us to the mountaintop screaming, “I’m as bored as hell, and I just can’t take it anymore.” (apologies to Peter Finch)  Maybe we’re just lazy.

Some days I drag around like a dry mop, not doing much of any good for anything or anybody, least of all myself.  I hate days like that.  I coulda, woulda, shoulda myself at day’s end and then surrender to the fact that I wasted another day.  I throw my hands up in the air and hope the sun will come out tomorrow, and the dawn of a new day will energize and enlighten me to know exactly what I need to do and  how to do it. 

Who doesn’t procrastinate, especially when you’re living a life which is seemingly aimless and without direction?  Everyone feels that way at some point or another. That’s me at the moment.  Just hanging and waiting for the next chapter of my life to begin.  Waiting for that bolt of lightning to hit and redirect me to the life I’m supposed to be living.  To that place of meaning where my skills will be welcomed and my life will start thriving once more.  The movers and shakers will tell you that you have to get on the train and get moving.  But which train and where?  I seriously lack the comprehension of knowing which direction to go.  It’s a precarious position to be in at my “advancing” age. There’s no defined answer to this dilemma at the moment, except to cut the procrastination and keep doing anything and everything I can think of to keep me moving forward.

And so I’ve got to go and get to the station – train’s pulling out. 

Destination:  Whereverthechipsmayfall

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO KATIE!

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Today is the last day my daughter Katie will be in her twenties.  Tomorrow, on January 13th, she turns 30 years old!!!  It’s an amazing miracle since I only just turned 29 on my last birthday :).  Don’t remind her, though.  She’s not very happy about this leap into the next decade.  Ah, youth….she doesn’t understand that she is only in her prime.  The seasoning comes much later on.

The day before Katie was born I met some friends I used to work with for a Chinese lunch.  I can’t remember what I had, and I didn’t know that 24 hours later I would become a mom.  I do remember it was a sunny day, and I was gushing to my friends about my happiness and excitement of having this baby.  I couldn’t wait for her to be here.  At 3 AM the next morning, I awoke with the first pangs of labor. The beginning snowflakes of a major blizzard were just beginning to fall.  I took a shower, packed my bag for the hospital and waited patiently as the contractions got hard enough to go to the hospital.  I made the rough, bumpy trip in a pick up truck, since I wasn’t sure how deep the snow would get.  My beloved Dr. Tsai was already at the hospital. Labor was hard, ending in a C-section, but at 12:33 PM my little 7 lb. 10 oz., 19 inch baby girl made her appearance into the world.  Little Katie Lynn. She was born with her eyes wide open, looking toward the light and that is the way she has always lived her life. She has also plowed her way successfully through many of life’s blizzards.

As an infant she never slept, too curious and afraid she would miss something.  As a little girl she was a leader among her friends and to Megan, she was an annoying but loving big sister.  She was always a good friend, thoughtful and kind and generous.  Katie’s had her ups and downs in life but has always worked through the tough times and landed on her feet. She has become a talented teacher and loving fiancée to Blake.

I thank Kate for teaching me how to be a mother and Megan for joining her for those lessons two years later. Being a mom was not the easiest job in the world, but it was the most fulfilling. It seemed so hard at the time, and I used to long for the days when they would be grown and I would have some time to myself.  Little did I know that when that time came, I would long for the days when they were little. I didn’t realize how much I would miss that precious time together. I can say with conviction that being a mom is the only thing I’ve done right in my life, and I thank God every day for the blessings of my daughters.

So I raise my glass and my heart to you today, my sweet girl.  I ache with pride for the woman you’ve become.  I wish you all good things in life and more happiness than your heart can hold. Enjoy each moment and live your life well – keeping your eyes wide open and looking toward the light. And don’t sweat the big “30,” Kate, for the best is yet to come!

New Year’s Resolution

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Thought for the year:  Peace begins with a smile ~ Mother Teresa

My New Year’s resolution for 2012 is to be happy.  That’s it.  No losing 10 pounds, no developing an exercise program, no getting a grip on my finances, no lofty career goals, no looking for true romance. I’m just going to focus completely on being happy. Doing what makes me happy, being with those who make me happy, concentrating solely on acquiring the positive energy that makes me happy. And I believe that as I seek happiness, that which I attain will include all the things that are beneficial for my well being.

2012 is a fine number. It’s even, it’s round, and it’s going to be my year. The negative energy that has made the past few years so difficult is behind me now. It’s gone.  It has left the building. I recently heard someone describe another person as one who had been so unhappy for so long that they had lost the ability to be happy. That will never be a description of me no matter what adversity comes my way.

I hope you’ll join me this year in searching out the positive and turning your back on the negative. Because life was not created to be something you withstand or muddle through.  It was created to be enjoyed.  I finally get that now. So, I am moving forward into this brand new year of hope and possibility smiling ~ beaming, in fact!

 Happy New Year!  Happy 2012! Flash your pizzazz ~ Smile!