Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Better When We're Together

2013 will end the same as it began- in the company of precious friends. Dinner, champagne, the clock ticking down the final seconds, the midnight embrace- all rituals I cherish. Taking stock of the year gone by and anticipating the new dawn allows me to reflect on the blessings of my family and friends. As the song says “It’s always better when we’re together.”
I have shared all of life’s strength and fragility with you. We’ve been together for the joy and wonder of anniversaries, weddings, and babies and also for the sadness and heartache of saying goodbye.  We’ve shared books and played mah jongg. We have read the Hagaddah, watched the fireworks, blew out the birthday candles, given thanks for our bounty, and remembered the miracles. We have watched bowl games and tournaments. We saw Kobe fall, the Dodgers rise, and the Bell remain with the Bruins. We have cooked, studied, exercised and blogged.  We’ve been fascinated by the Crawleys, challenged by Walter White, and handled it just like Olivia Pope. Together we’ve supported causes both global and in our own neighborhoods. We’ve traveled together and separately, and through the magic of the digital age shared our photos and stories instantly. We’ve delighted in our children’s accomplishments and shared the successes that our village created.

As the days and weeks become months and seasons , the New Year arrives with fresh promise. I look forward to a year of growth and giving, exploration and excitement. I look forward to a year made even better because we’re together.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Cancerversary. Who knew it was a thing? But it is. And I have one. This week. I’ve now lived more years post cancer than pre. I was practically a newlywed when I was diagnosed. This year I will celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary. My two children were but gleams in my eyes. Today they are each pursuing graduate degrees. My hair was dark and shiny then. Today it still is. (Well, only my hairdresser knows for sure.) As anyone who has ever received a life altering diagnosis knows, the moment is forever etched into memory, as clear and unforgettable as the JFK assassination or September 11th. In my particular case, surgery was required following blood transfusions (in the months before the blood supply was screened for AIDS) .The days and weeks following surgery were filled with recuperation and decision making. As my most learned friend put it, choosing a post-surgical treatment was like me deciding what type of jet engine Boeing should use on its newest plane. Three well respected oncologists recommended three vastly different approaches. There just weren’t too many cases of a young woman with Stage II colon cancer. 28 years later, I feel safe to say that my decision was appropriate. I am diligent about undergoing follow-up colonoscopies every 4 to 5 years. Everyone over the age of 50 should have one. People with a family history, including my children, need to be screened earlier. Since colon cancer almost always begins as a benign  polyp, the procedure itself can be lifesaving. The dreaded preparation is certainly the worst part. So be thankful for Miralax and propofol and get yourself screened. Now, back to my commemoration /celebration. How should I spend the day? Mah Jongg with the girls? Spa day? Dinner with my family? All of the above sound like affirmation  to me.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

It Was A Very Good Year

As another year draws to an end and the promise of a new year is on the horizon, I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for being a part of my life. 2012 wasn’t a year of milestone events, but rather a year filled with moments that collectively created memories that I cherish.  
Four mornings each week I can count on walking the trails with you. We spend the hour sharing, learning and laughing. Once a month, as I’ve done for the last fourteen years, I spend a couple of hours with you discussing our selected book. We’ve read some strange tales, yet our discussions are always enlightening. I may never get rich playing mah jongg, yet my wealth is increased by the camaraderie and conversation in between every crack, bam and dot. Birthday lunches and dinners give me a chance to catch up, drink good wine, toast each other and laugh at the wide ranging topics of conversation. I’ve spent weekends with you at the beach and in the desert. I’ve attended plays, concert and movies with you. I have served on boards, raised funds and volunteered in the community with you. Happy occasions we’ve shared have brought joy and laughter. The too many times we’ve gathered together to say goodbye have brought tears. Holidays filled with family, friends and traditions make the cooking and cleanup worthwhile. (well almost) I have shared countless cups of coffee, texts and phone calls discussing Emily and Jef, Don Draper, Carrie and Brody and Harvey Specter. I’ve “liked” and been “liked” by you on Facebook. I’ve cheered for my teams with you (sometimes in enemy territory). You’ve dragged me back to the gym and I suppose I should thank you for that too.
You’ve taught me and strengthened me. You’ve encouraged me and inspired me. You, my friends and family, have enriched my days with love. I look ahead to 2013, dreaming big, and with the full knowledge that I am truly blessed.


Monday, November 19, 2012

What a Wonderful World

This week we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. I believe it's fair to say that most adults would say that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. What's not to like? There's football, parades, crisp fall weather, delicious traditional foods, family, friends and no gifts required. The holiday gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on our gratitude for the blessings in our lives. Preparing the meal for a crowd can be a challenge. Shopping and cleaning can be tiring. But we can flip the annoyances into blessings of their own. I'll start my list.

1. I am thankful for the opportunity to cook the holiday dinner because it means I have family and
    friends who will join me at the table.
2. I am thankful for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by
    loved ones.
3. I am thankful if my clothes are snug after a meal because it means I have had enough to eat.
4. I am thankful for the rooms that need cleaning and the lawn that needs tending because it means
    I have a home and garden.
5. I am thankful for the smile lines and crows feet on my face because it means I've laughed
    and lived in the beautiful warm sunshine.
6. I am thankful for (some) of the political rhetoric because it means I live in a country with freedom 
    of speech.
7. I am thankful for the loads of laundry because it means I have clothes to wear.
8. I am thankful for the sore muscles after exercising because it means I am healthy and strong.
9. I am thankful for the alarm that sounds early every morning because it means I am alive.

I would like to share my most precious holiday recipe- Pumpkin Bread. The recipe was given to my mother some 45 years ago. Long before pumpkin became trendy, this was a family favorite. It's been gifted to countless friends, teachers, service workers and  kids away at college. I hope you will enjoy it as much as my family has.

Claudia's Pumpkin Bread
      3 1/3 cups flour
      2 tsp. baking soda
      1 tsp. salt
      1 tsp. cinnamon
      1/2 tsp. ginger
      1/4 tsp. ground cloves
      3 cups sugar
      1 cup canola oil
      4 eggs
      2/3 cup water
      15 oz. canned pumpkin
  In a large bowl mix all the ingredients. Pour into oiled and floured pans. Bake at 350 degrees,
approximately 50 minutes, until browned and center tests clean.

Makes 2 regular loaves or 5 mini loaves ( perfect for gifting!)
The Empty Nesters wish you and yours a beautiful and delicious holiday.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sexual Healing

Male Sexuality- it’s a mystery to many women. Quoting Elaine Benes from Seinfeld in the famous “shrinkage” episode, “ I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things.”  Jokes are widely circulated about how men are really very simple creatures, especially when compared to women. For the most part, the adages seem true. In the bedroom men are ready to go with nothing more than the flip of a switch. We women take a lot longer to transition from mom to wife, from homemaker to lover. We need courtship and romance (read foreplay), they just need us to show up. But are men really so easy? Virility so defines a man- at least that’s what literature and movies lead us to believe. Yet as the vast number of Baby Boomers age, changes in sexuality can be expected. While few men would publicly admit to using medication to help with erectile dysfunction, the sales of such drugs are astronomical. Commercials for the wonder pills populate our television shows. Call me unspontaneous and unadventurous, but the outdoor bathtub with no plumbing does not do it for me. And the garden hose metaphor isn’t so subtle either. Women tend to talk with their doctors and girlfriends about the changes that come with menopause. Are the problems men face something new or are men more comfortable talking about them? Does the stress and anxiety of modern society play a factor? With long term relationships, the heart is really the ruler, not the male organ. As the fires of passion diminish and the novelty of sex becomes routine, it is our emotions that guide the course of sexuality. Anger and resentment can kill desire. Love, affection, communication and commitment are key to maintaining a healthy relationship, both in and out of the bedroom.