May 26

2016: Something made me feel real old and out of touch today. I was looking at a calendar of "things to do" at the beach club. Last memories I have there are of late nights dancing and lobster boils on the beach with family and friends. Now they have needlepoint. Yes, you heard me right - "needlepoint clinic" to be exact. Makes me think "Senior Center Seaside". SMH

2017: I wish that HTML/CSS class could watch me code for 10 hours straight..

2018: Hurting tonight. Losing 4 of my closest in one quick scoop leaves me with an overwhelming existence at times. No more future plans with my own. No pictures to share. Holidays will never be the same. I try to stay strong. Jerry should be shamed to add insult to my injuries. The wrong people died.

2019: The woman who works Sunday nights is a trip. She and I are the same age and she has an infectious laugh and she uses it often. Although we don't speak the same language, we find a way to communicate even if it's just eye contact and facial language.

We've had to work as a team a few times when some small disasters happened like when the house filled with smoke from a dirty oven and the fire alarm and door chimes were blaring at the same time. For a split second, we looked at each other in panic but then we both sprung to action. Hazel didn't bat an eyelash while the two of us were going crazy to air out the house and stop the racket. And when all was quiet, we both cracked up laughing.

I think she really appreciated me being here on one of those nights when Hazel was dead weight, sick as a dog and didn't have any control over her body functions. The mess we had to clean up while keeping that woman safe was beyond what I could imagine and it took the physical strength of us both to get the job done. It was not easy, it was not pretty and I'm really surprised we didn't vomit. When we got that job done, I scooped up bags full of dirty linens and she watched wide eyed as I threw them out with the trash. I bet she understood me when I said F*** IT!

Then she thanked me... and we laughed and laughed. You don't need to speak the same language to be a good team when you have an altruistic, common goal.

2019:  Have you ever watched that Food Network show where you are required to make a dish using a "secret ingredient"? I'd be good on that show.

They offer a whole variety of other ingredients to add to your dishes and all you have to do is get creative. My culinary talents have been challenged lately and I've been doing some boring (but healthy) cooking. However, I've also become creative in preparing meals from food that was ordered and delivered by others.

That challenging past time came to a screeching halt today (my cooking day) when the only ingredients I saw were Beet Noodles and corn on the cob.

May 24

She doesn't call me "Ma".  Maybe because I have a simple name, but, probably because I conditioned her to call me by name when I was really needed.

We've got some jokes about that around here where girls wanted to change her regular rant from "Help me Ma" to "Help me Mary".  I ended that.  No crying wolf while I'm around.  I know how to speak with 911 when needed.

Regardless, tonight (and last night) I heard her cries and they sounded different than all other shifts that I witness.  Tonight her rant was not "help me ma"... they were "stay away Ma", "stop hurting me Ma", "back down Ma".

I'm livid that I can't step in on these few shifts.  This third world country mid-30 something year old with 6 children is out to get me.  I need to keep to myself when she is around.

Who is suffering?  Hazel and me.

May 5

1980. ’80’s Are Just Entering The Scenes Now.

Graduated from St. Patrick's High School in May of 1980.  Didn't know if I was going to graduate because I was at a stage of rebellion at that time and I failed my Religion final exam.  I got a 4 grade on a scale of 1-100.  I was reading Steven King novels at the time, smoking weed, and having fun.

Like, going to the Frat House near Delta Drug and Kentucky Fried Chicken on Smith Street in Providence, RI.  Two floors of nightclub fun and open bar from 7pm until 9pm for a whopping $3.00 cover.

My friends and I were young, and broke.  But, we were tenacious.  We rolled up pennies in wrappers to pay our cover. Got Mom to give us a ride to Delta Drug next door and drop us off.  We paid our way in with penny rolls.  Enjoyed open bar for a couple of hours.  Drank for the rest of the night on my brothers and friends.  Always had a ride home.

The '80's were full of those open bars.  Playden cost $5.00 and had open bar and buffet with hanging meats.  Barry's in Warwick cost $5.00, too.  They had a buffet and top shelf liquors.  Black Russians were the drink of choice for me at that time and I am not sure how I ever got home safe.

But, I always got home safe.  I had those brothers and lots of friends that I speak of.  I was taken care of.

HOWEVER, there were some times after we all got home that I would get these calls.
Michael: "Mary, I am in the Cranston police station and I need you to take Mom's car and come and get me.  They won't let me drive because I am drunk".
Me: No Michael.  I'm drunk, too.  I'll call John.
Michael:  Mary, He's locked up, too.  Ya gotta do this for me.
Me:  Ok.  On my way...

2010: I was still happy then.  Although my brother John and my Dad had already passed, I had time to process those deaths and I had learned to carry on with fond memories and stories of each of them.  And I still had other siblings - my closest in age being Michael and Janie - "We Three Of Family B"... We were tight and we were all still alive.  In 2010, I was also happy with my ex-SO (significant other) and we were building a house after spending over a decade of days and nights living together, working together, loving each other and sharing family with each other.  I began planting perennials by plant and by seed.  Leaving a legacy in my wake...

2013: On this day in 2013, life the way I knew it in 2010 had changed drastically. They say that hindsight has 20/20 vision and in hindsight I see the warning signs that should have made me run away from my Ex to a safer haven.  I never could have guessed what I would have to endure for the next few years, but, I never stopped wanting a better life and on this day in 2013, I secured the kind of job that would allow me to flee if need be.

As I said, on this day in 2013, I never could have imagined what I would have to endure for the next few years.

2014: By this date in 2014, my brother Joe was in his final resting place for five full days already.  My Mom's health had been declining for years and my sister Janie had already begun aggressive treatments to try and eradicate the surprise cervical cancer that had been discovered just about a month before.  On this day in 2014, she had no white blood cells and she was worried that I might've been mad at her because of the painful time we shared while she was transfused.

On this day in 2014, my life was already officially dedicated to doing what I could to keep my sister alive. It was a singular focus and the most important responsibility of my life.  And I failed.

2015:  On this day in 2015, Janie had already been gone for one month and five days.  Her death wasn't an April Fools Day joke.

2016:  The signs come in strong from those that are already gone.  Michael is still alive but we are estranged.  That was meant to be.  I was meant to venture out and try to find a new life without having to deal with seeing him die.  There was only so much I could handle.

2017.  Michael died in January of this year.  I kept my head in a computer coding, kept busy with charity work and began taking bullets from a toxic ex significant other.  In 2019, I became a Hazel Nut.

2019:  We're all still learning how to live and work together. There are a lot of people in and out of this house and things are constantly moved or rearranged. I'm not used to that.

If I'm not left with a nightlight to guide my way to the bathroom at night, I have to light up the stair way. And since Hazel's room has been rearranged, she sees my shadow looming down the stairs each time I need the restroom which causes her to call me by name... sometimes relentlessly - all night long.

The lesson here is to keep the bathroom light on with the door ajar. I won't break any bones and Hazel won't know I'm on the first floor. Kind of simple. TY.

2019: If I listed the kitchen staples that I am out of (important things), you can start calling me the "kitchen magician". How many things can you make when ONLY vegetables are delivered. I got crafty today.

Lentil Veggie soup has cauliflower, onions, yellow peppers, garlic, white and sweet potatoes. I only had dried herbs to use (parsley, basil, onion powder) and no stock or bouillon so I stole seasoning from a package of ramen. A quart in the freezer, a quart in the fridge and she devoured a big bowl so I know it was a good choice.

I had potatoes and about 3 dozen boiled eggs (a donation), but, no mayo. So Potato/Egg/Veggie salad with peppers, cucumbers, red onion and tomato. I had no olive oil or enough dressing so I simmered canola oil with all my dry herbs and added some white wine vinegar. It's all I had. I used equal parts of potato, eggs and veggies. It's healthy for sure and she devoured that, too... although she didn't know what she was eating.

THANKFULLY, I bought scallions and had fresh ginger in the freezer so I was able to make a version of my famous chicken and broccoli. I missed having sesame oil on hand, but, I did what I could. Marinated the chicken with garlic, ginger, hot pepper seeds, a little soy (ran out), cornstarch and scallions. Cooked the chicken, removed. Cooked broccoli stems (fiber) with more garlic, ginger and scallions. Added florets and steamed until bright green. Added chicken back and doused with 1/2 flavor packet of Asian ramen and cornstarch slurry. I had a couple taste testers to let me know how that turned out... I didn't need to test it. And the house smells incredible.

The sweet potatoes will be roasted and a big salad will be made with some chicken strips and eggs for protein.  It's nice to have some peace on weekends to accomplish this kind of healthy cooking. It's only 5:15 pm... I'm not done yet.

2019: Those eggs will be deviled now, Hazel.  And you'll have some asparagus and even corned beef (and hash and eggs, maybe) this week, too.  I've got some mighty fine friends that read my crap and have you in their hearts...

I was able to send some lentil soup and chicken and broc in return.. but, NOTHING... and I will reiterate, NOTHING can compare to the thought that went into this delivery.  Sleep well you pretty in pink Queen of the house.  Me and all my friends are in your corner....

2019: Last night I was typing to myself.  This morning I woke to an email with the subject line, "An Ode to Michael".  He was one of a kind, ya know.  I don't know if anyone will ever really know him as much as I did.  I was a lifelong mission for him.

The Kempo Karate post had me thinking...

"My body and mind is on chill tonight.  That's a nice place to be.  January-April is still a rough time for me.  I was trying to find that post that I read that prompted me to find photos of Michael at George Pasare's studio.  I couldn't find it.

But, the person who posted shared a story about learning from the masters in regard to what to do if being attacked by a dog.  He was told to let the dog grab hold of his left arm, even though it would hurt like hell.  It left his right arm open to drive his fingers into the dogs ear and end it all.

This is true and I was mentored in the same way.  Sounds horrendous - especially as a young girl to hear.  But, Michael came home from his years and years of training and taught me so much... a never ending lesson. I never had to use any of it... but, I always thought myself capable.  I made it a point to keep myself (and family and friends) out of trouble so none of those teachings would come to fruition.

The fellow went on to add that it happened to him and it worked out in his favor in a way.  His left arm took a beating (through a leather jacket), but, he scared off the dog and also got in a couple right shots to the dogs snide owner.

That may sound like abuse in this day and age, but, it wasn't.  It was trained self defense. It's the way real men learn how to protect.  Hands, feet and close combat.

One of the most valuable lessons Michael ever taught me was that not all people out there are like my brothers.  They use guns and knives instead of hands and feet.  He told me to run away from any exchange I might see happening.  That was a very valuable lesson that saved me and my friends while out and about during the nightlife scene.

Sometimes I don't know if the stories that I remember so well should be shared.  Other times I know in my heart that they need to be shared."

2020:  Today marks 9 months smoke free.  I've got some allergies going on but, I think I am Covid free.  I feel like this day in 2019 was a million years ago.  Once again I find myself in a position where I am forced to locate my next place to call "home for now" and begin meeting the people who are destined to be in my next chapter.  This pandemic is making things difficult, but, difficult is something I have become used to.

 

April 27

2019. One Flipping Year Ago!

I sharpened my favorite knife today. What a treat. A ton of root veggies and a whole chicken and it was like slicing and dicing warm butter.

3 Quarts of Veggie Soup, Roasted Chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, roasted sweet potatoes, deviled eggs, apple crisp and veggie salad all prepped and ready for lunches and dinners. A small batch of chicken soup will be added to that very soon.
Nothing like having the right tools to motivate.

2019. One Calculated Word At A Time.

“Quiet” has never been a word anyone would ever use when it comes to describing me. Until lately.

One of the girls around here told me I speak soft toned like (Meet) Joe Black. I think that is because I turn my tone down and choose my words very carefully when I speak with Hazel. Not all English words are created equal and if I choose just the right words with her, I get the desired response. That’s a learned behavior. She also thinks I move from room to room invisible but I attribute that to her being preoccupied.

Sometimes she’ll hear me whisper something under my breath and she’ll ask “what’d you say”.
Me: I don’t know. Yellow Sa or something like that. Spell it for me. And what does it mean?
She: (smiling) yalosabia

Picking up Spanish at a rate of one word per month.

2019. A Heating Lesson

Growing up Mullen. If you got caught cranking that furnace to 80 degrees, so help you God. I never had to put the “gloves on” with Dad like the boys did and I never remember getting any beatings except from Michael. But, if I even dared to do it once I would have learned to never do it again. And Mom would have taken my bank book and withdrawn the monthly bill to make me remember the lesson. The lesson there was “kick it up a notch”. That is all you need to get a desired temperature.

2019. Scratches Like A Good Mom

One of the more common phrases you will hear around here is “Ma, can you scratch my back?” And her back is scratched more often than anyone I know.
Today she reciprocated. She scratches like a good Mom, doesn’t she? #HazelNuts

Cuando un paciente hace eso con su caregiver eso significa que estas haciendo un un trabajo,ella me ama y yo tambien a ella. Amor verdadero❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Posted by Yemelis Núñez on Thursday, April 4, 2019

2019. Resume Building Activities

A friend exchange:
He: I can see the resume now. Mary Mullen, House Mother.
A skilled facilitator in house management. Able to counter interpersonal conflicts amongst the stable of working women. Ability to manage appropriate schedules as well as delivering proper dietary and nutritional needs to varied mix of culinary choices from a varied ethnic mix, and stretch a food budget as needed to offer ideal choices for the women of the house.

Me: LOL… the least of me!

He: No. That’s not actually true. It’s a specific skill set. While the subject may seem offensive, it’s actually an accomplishment.

My friends are very cute, aren’t they… <3

2019. Hazel Still In Hospital, But…

I got another Hazel picture tonight. Hazel and one of her nuts both looking at the camera and she looks so much better. She called her little nut “my Angel”… which makes my heart happy.
I was told that she was calling my name a couple days ago… which makes my heart leap with joy. I haven’t been around here for that long, but, we did develop quite a unique relationship. I’m glad she remembers that.
I really miss that whole crew.

Pay the love forward people… the benefits are more than you would ever imagine.