Sunday, January 24, 2010

Something Else To Do

Since I'm at home most of the time, I've been feeling a bit isolated and out of touch and I knew that I had to get myself out of the house and in contact with people. But because of health issues that seem to crop up at the most inconvenient times, I didn't want to commit myself to anything that would require a fixed time commitment like a part time job. My husband, who knows I'm a sucker for volunteering to do things for others, found a little article in the newspaper touting NYC Service, a website sponsored and maintained by New York City that contains listings of volunteer opportunities all over the five boroughs. I checked it out, created a profile and searched the available volunteer opportunities to see if any struck my fancy. I came across an opportunity for a crafts instructor at a local senior citizen's center and sent an email to indicate my interest.

Fast forward to the present. I met with the center director who gave me a quick tour of the facility and showed me the kind of materials available for use. I have never worked with seniors before. Some of the members have visual impairments (blindness, macular degeneration)and/or mobility limitations (arthritis, etc.) that impose restrictions on the types of activities they can participate in and I have no experience whatsoever in dealing with limitations of any kind. Furthermore the available craft materials left much to be desired with respect to the type of crafting I have been doing of late.

In spite of it all, I am inclined to accept this opportunity. I have learned that the process of working through challenges and pushing one's limits is the quickest path to releasing one's creativity and inner talents. I've been scrounging the internet and tapping my crafting buddies for projects and ideas suitable for seniors and am scheduled to revisit the center in order to observe the crafts class that is currently running to see if that will give me any ideas. I haven't even told the director that I'm in yet and I'm already planning my next move.

To be continued...

UPDATE: February 2, 2010 - I have visited the senior center again, this time to observe the crafts class and talk with some of the members to get an idea of what they would like do in terms of crafting. I came home with some of the center's crafts materials so I could start creating projects to do with the seniors and am scheduled to conduct my first crafts class with them at the end of this week. Okay, so I've jumped in with both feet. Hope this swimming hole isn't too deep.

Check out my artist blog, The Creative Diva, to see the project I'll be doing with the seniors this week.

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dad's Home

Last week my father was rushed to emergency with chest pains. Under normal circumstances this is not good news. When you consider that he underwent an angiogram in July that resulted in having a stent placed in order to open up a nearly blocked artery, such a scenario is downright scary. The good news is that he is back home and doing well. After an overnight stay in the hospital, he underwent yet another angiogram that confirmed his blood vessels were all clear. It was determined (which means the doctor's best guess is) that the chest pains were caused by my father stopping his medication regimen. He did so because the medicine was making him sick but the result was a trip to the hospital. He has been placed back on the medication regimen but this time at a lower dosage in an attempt to curb or eliminate the adverse effects he was experiencing.

My parents are in their mid-70's. They are relatively active and fairly healthy but they have slowed down considerably. This makes me sad. It places their mortality and my own squarely in my face. I have become acutely aware of the passage of time or, more precisely, the dwindling of our time remaining.

I need to stop here before I break down and cry.

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Friday, January 15, 2010

An Emotional Day

I received very disturbing news today. My mother called to tell me she was taking my father to the emergency room because of chest pains. My dad had an angiogram at the end of July and had a stent placed in one of his arteries. He hasn't been quite the same since, suffering from pains in his upper joints, back, neck and chest. The aspirin regimen he was on for his heart condition caused an ulcer. He's been given so many medications that they were negatively interacting and he felt worse. I could go on.

It seems to me that he has gone from strong and robust to frail and frightened overnight but if I examine my heart of hearts I know the truth. I have chosen not to see time marching across his handsome face. I have chosen not to notice the once herculean physique dwindle and the twinkle in his eyes fade. He always seemed like a big man to me but I realize now that it was because, in my eyes, he was a little larger than life. Now life overshadows him and he seems small by comparison.

Dad's going to have to spend a few days in the hospital undergoing tests to see if his heart problem can be pinpointed and fixed. I strongly suspect that another angiogram is in his future. Who knows what else is in store for him. All I know is that Daddy is old and sick and there's nothing I can do to change it or make him better.

And I'm scared. Very, very scared.

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Friday, January 1, 2010


In the past two weeks since my angiogram, I completed all the obligatory preparations for Christmas including buying and wrapping gifts, trimming the tree and making a traditional holiday treat. I usually make bread pudding but this year I made coquito, which essentially amounts to Puerto Rican eggnog with a kick of rum. This recipe is so rich, just reading the list of ingredients is enough to stop your heart in its tracks. Four different milks, a dozen egg yolks, cinnamon, coconut cream, rum -- trust me, this drink is a heart attack in a bottle. Thankfully it's made only during the December holidays. Any more often than that would decimate our family population.

I had a family pot luck gathering on the day after Christmas and there was enough food to sink a battleship. Everyone ate to capacity, took home a doggy bag and there was still enough food left over that I didn't have to cook for the rest of the week. In fact I had my children's friends over one evening and there was more than enough to feed them (and you know how much teenagers can eat)! Family, food and coquito. Aaah, those are the holidays in my home.

In contrast to the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we brought in the new year very quietly at home. It was just my husband, my daughter and myself (oh yeah, and our beagle, Marla). My son was out with some friends. We toasted at midnight with some champagne and hugs and kisses all around. Then back to our solitary activities. It was very quiet.

The day didn't feel like a holiday. It felt like any other day of the week. But the clan is gathering at my uncle's house this afternoon to start the new year with the usual and food, food, food. That's when it will feel like a holiday to me.

Happy New Year, everybody. The best of everything in 2010.

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva