Category Archives: Sisterhood

Love Is Love 😻

Love Is Love 😻

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Always in need of tech support, this baby boomer has never lacked for love and affection from my sweet cat, Ethel. When the pandemic hit and I began to work from home, I swear Ethel would follow me around the house and wait longingly for me to sit down somewhere so that she could warm up in my cozy lap.

It’s a rainy day today in California and I just lit some incense, poured myself some hot tea, and grabbed my latest read: The Seekers Guide- Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure by Elizabeth Lesser.  A perfect rainy day scenario.  Except for my little lap blanket.

Last week, after I found Ethel hiding under my desk in my office, I knew it was her time. The large tumor on her hind leg had become a nuisance for her and she was determined to take care of it herself.  I will spare you the details.

I picked Ethel up in a soft blanket and put her in bed with me where we cuddled and kissed (I know! I know!) until the morning.  I told her I loved her and that I would always take care of her.  17 years is not long enough when we’ve been partners in crime 24/7 since the day we chose each other from the litter.  “She looks worried!  I’ll take this one!”  And away we went to begin our journey together.

Ethel, being that she was a feral cat, was a lover and a fighter.  She disliked other cats especially “Toby” who used to come over and try to make friends with her.  One afternoon when she was growling at Toby and thinking about tearing him limb from limb, I made the mistake of picking her up and asking her to try to be sweet to other animals.

One Kaiser visit and 14 stitches later, Ethel and I made our peace and she was truly remorseful.  That Monday at work my students thought I had had “some work done”.

I sold my house and purchased a townhome that was being built at the time.  In the interim Ethel and I moved in with my man friend, Dale.  Dale’s two 80 pound dogs tried their best to be friends with Ethel but when she walked past them in the hallway they hugged the walls to allow her to pass.

Being that Dale lived out in the country, I kept Ethel inside so as not to be eaten by the local coyotes.  One morning  as I was preparing emails for work and having my coffee, Ethel decided to jump up on the kitchen counter and leap out of the second story window!  (Secretly, I felt sorry for those coyotes! 😻)  Ethel managed to fend for herself that day until I got home from work at which time I had to throw a blanket over her in order to get her into the house (and save myself from another trip to Kaiser)!

We finally moved in to my new townhouse.  Ethel roamed the new neighborhood and made it clear to all of the resident cats that she had now arrived.  Poor “Chunk” next door wasn’t allowed out of the house so Ethel would sit on my neighbor’s front porch and torment him through the window where he sat jealously perched on the back of the couch looking out at her.

There are other fun facts about Ethel.  Opening a can of garbanzo beans could rouse her from a deep sleep from anywhere in the house.  I would pour a little bit of the bean juice on her food before making my hummus.  Truly a Lebanese cat she was.

Ethel understood and responded to requests of “lie down” and “give me kisses”.  She loved to sleep on my head at night and run her claws through my tangled curly hair.  Sometimes she would drool in my ear.  (ew.. gross)

But you know…

Love is love.

Some of us love chocolate.  Some love horror movies.  Some love rainy days.

❤️

I loved my Ethel.

Loved!

Loved!

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Today we celebrated Ash Wednesday at Presentation High School.  To non-Catholics, this must be the weirdest cult practice that one has ever experienced!  Being doused with ashes in the shape of a cross and being told to turn from sin and live the gospel.  The scriptures proclaimed at Mass today told us that we are forgiven and loved and invited to be our best selves!  These students certainly look happy, don’t they?

I’m so proud of my Catholic faith.  It has really emerged as a positive force in this troubled world.  Our Pope has taken great pains in living a simple life and rejecting the pomp and circumstances of Vatican City.  We are encouraged, during the season of Lent- the forty days and nights before Easter- to do something positive in our lives rather than give something up.

Be kind.  Serve the poor.  Love your neighbor.

When I was in high school I practiced all the Catholic rituals without understanding them.  These students are doing the same.  They have no idea how this gospel message will come to nest in their souls and take fruit in their lives.  God bless them!  They are beautiful young women with the whole world at their feet.

I pray that they go forth and make a difference.  That they love tenderly and serve with open hearts.  That they become women of God with lives that impact others in a positive way.

I feel so blessed to be able to witness their transformation to womanhood and support them as they look forward to all of life’s blessings.

Amen

Patty to the Rescue!

Patty to the Rescue!

Patty and Rosemarie at Peter's wedding

This is me and my bestie at my son Peter’s wedding.  The day would not have been complete had she not been there to share this special life event with me and my family.

Patty and I have been friends since we were 14 years old.  We were two Catholic girls from large traditional families thrown into the local public high school.  Somehow we found each other amidst the 700 kids in the class of ’74. Our friendship solidified and took on a more spiritual dimension when we attended late night Catechism classes on Mondays at St. Boniface Parish in Anaheim.

We cleaned up real well for this picture, but you should have seen us this weekend. Crazy hair, workout clothes, minimal makeup.

Patty drove up from Southern California, sensing that I was somewhat disoriented due to moving in to my new place while simultaneously holding down my full time job.  She came to my rescue- arriving on Friday night around midnight and staying until Wednesday morning.

When her feet hit the ground Saturday morning, the dust mop was blazing a trail on my new hardwood floor and pictures were being sorted and transported to appropriate rooms.  Patty made lists of what we needed  from Bed, Bath and Beyond, Walmart, and (our personal favorite) TJMaxx. While out shopping, she scanned shelves for her favorite dish towels.  “You have to have more dish towels and I just LOVE this brand!”  She took it upon herself to interrogate a salesperson at Cosco concerning the pros and cons of a set of pots and pans I was lusting after.

She sat with me and “Allison” from 3-day Blinds while I got a bid for shutters for the entire house. After Allison left, Patty was on the phone calling “her people” to compare price points and swiftly made the determination that the bid was much too high!  Off we went roaming my new neighborhood, looking at peoples’ windows to see who had shutters.  “Those are nice!  Let’s go and ask where they got them!” An hour later we were leaving Annie’s house with full knowledge of the guy who did shutters in her last three homes.  Not only did we get a great window treatment lead, but we made a new friend as well.

Patty promptly scheduled “Ed” to come and measure my windows and give me a bid for shutters while I was at work on Monday with my homemade lunch that she made for me.  When I came home, she presented all the figures and announced that this was the best deal!  She had also made plans for a coffee table that I ordered on line to be returned after measuring my space and seeing that there would be no room for knees and other extremities.  There were detailed notes on who she spoke with, their phone numbers, item numbers and instructions on who to call if the return didn’t appear on my bank statement in a week.

We sorted through all the items in my china cabinet and the sideboard, giving everything a new home and a feeling of stability.  Being that I am the woman with the most tablecloths in the world, I was surprised that my sideboard drawers were only half full. Where were my table cloths?  And where were my sons’ senior pictures that were on the sideboard?  A light bulb went off- I had packed a lot of things in the old black Amelia Earhart chest that hadn’t made it into the house yet.  Off we went to the garage.  “Get something for us to sit on while we go through this trunk!” she instructed.

There we sat for the next hour or so, going through my parents’ old trunk, unearthing not only my tablecloths and sons’ pictures, but also old newspaper clippings of my dad’s race for Mayor of Compton and my mom’s engagement announcement from an Atlanta newspaper.  Pictures of my brothers and I at all stages of growth.  Baby clothes and wedding dresses- mine and my mother’s. We talked about our fears of getting older and needing so much to be supported and loved in our lives.  We cried and laughed and then cried some more.

We agreed that we are both very independent and unusual women.   And that neither of us is likely to go down without a fight.  We both cling to items that bring meaning into our lives.  We both take pride in our homes and do our best to create a haven for those we love.  We both had as our major career path getting married and having a family.

When Patty left on Wednesday morning, I had instructions for the rest of the week and a handful of notes detailing every transaction she had maneuvered in the last five days- along with another homemade lunch she made for me to take to work.

My life has been so dominated by male energy.  My very influential father, five brothers, and three sons.  I’ve had many blessings in my life- and I am grateful.  And this friendship is a gift I find quite profound.

God must have known, when he scripted the story of my life, that I would need a Patty.

 

 

 

Midlife Mischief…

Midlife Mischief…

The day began innocently enough.  Five friends from high school met in San Francisco for fun and sightseeing.  Two of us are currently from the bay area and the other three are visiting from the OC where we all grew up.  We’re a classy bunch.  At one time in our lives we used to elicit looks and howls from handsome men on the street but now we just kind of blend in with the masses of humanity enjoying the beautiful day and weather.  Our best qualities now internalized.  Just when did that happen?

Nonetheless, we think we are pretty hot babes.  (Or at least Perry thought we were.. more about that later…)

After a go around in the Ferry Building and a satisfying lunch (no calorie counting today!) we forge our way up the Embarcadero towards whatever suits our fancies, stopping to have our picture taken and do a little people watching and shopping.  With happy hour fast approaching, we set out to find a friendly bar.   Feeling very urban sophisticated, I suggest we call an UBER and promptly press my handy app.  A Toyota Corolla was on its way and would arrive in 2 minutes.

WAIT!  There’s five of us!  No way.  I quickly cancel and we squeeze into to a nearby cab that’s just barely big enough for the five of us and head to a groovy street for shopping and bars- “Chestnut in the Marina”.  The driver says “oh, that’s only about four blocks away..”   Twenty minutes later, we arrive.  Really?  Four blocks?   Not even.  Sandy would have liked to walk it with her Fit Bit.  The rest of us were content to be driven.

In and out of shops we go, all the while looking for a bar appropriate for our age category and level of sophistication.  The Tipsy Pig looks like fun with its’ 20 and 30 something beautiful people falling out of the windows and doors!  Oh yeah…  we aren’t 20/30 anymore.  Not a bad thing we all agree!!

We settle on the Ristobar with equally beautiful people more in our age category and somewhat more enlightened.  Sitting at the bar, we flirt with our bartenders like old times.  Why not?  We are classy babes from the OC!   I text my son Peter to let him know we are in his neighborhood.  He’s across town with his friend Nathan.

Darn.. the girls really wanted to meet him.

He says “have fun mom and don’t get into trouble!”  He has no idea what trouble his mother can get into with her hot girlfriends…

Now we are hungry for dinner and a little tipsy to boot.    I asked the lady next to me at the bar (who BTW was from Seattle) how to hail an UBER big enough to accommodate the five of us.   I selected UBER XL (or I thought I did) and my phone announced a white Honda Accord was on its way to wisk us off to the Fog City Diner

Boy that was fast.  As soon as we hit the street there it was.  Our white Honda Accord chariot.  We opened all the doors and began to pile in asking the driver if he was sure he could take all five of us!!   Not only was English his second language but I’m guessing the sight of five gorgeous babes climbing into his car was too much to believe!

He was rendered speechless..

Just then.. my phone rang.  The voice on the other end of the phone asked “where are you?  I’m here on the corner of Chestnut and Scott!”

We realized we were in the wrong Honda just as the man tried to explain in his broken English that he was waiting to pick up his wife!  Now stunned and embarrassed, we quickly evacuated white Honda Accord #1 and proceeded to jump into white Honda Accord #2, all the while laughing and gasping for breath.  Of course our UBER driver got to hear the entire story.  He was somewhat entertained.

Still greatly amused at ourselves, we arrive at the Fog City Diner where we are promptly seated.  The mood of our group was quickly picked up by our intuitive waiter, Perry, who asked “Are you ladies ready for an adventure?” at which we dissolved into uncontrollable laughter once again. Perry volunteered to order the entire feast for us including the wine.  We accepted the offer and the unsolicited flirtation.

Obviously he recognizes our inner hotness.

As a part of his fantasy, he renamed us all.   Dawn was Penelope.  Linda was Gwen.  Sandy was Maria.  Lisa was Susan.  I was Betty Ford.

Ok enough!  I ONLY had one Lemon Drop at the Ristobar!  My girlfriends had my back and begged for a more exotic name for me.  Sensing a potential post-menopausal riot, Perry renamed me Annalise.

The parade of food began..  Grilled Local Calamari, Hand Cut Furikake Fries, Lacopi Farm Brussel Sprouts, Caeser Salad, McFarland Springs Trout, Wagyu Flank Steak Fries, Short Rib Kim Chi Tacos, and two bottles of very expensive wine, after which we had two desserts (by then we didn’t care what we were eating..).  I asked for some table bread half way through the parade but Perry said NO it will ruin your appetite.  ( I don’t think he liked me..)

As the feast drew to a close, we asked Perry what his story was.  What’s a handsome middle aged man doing in the city waiting tables?  We heard his entire life story. Wife accused him of being abusive.  Turned his three beautiful daughters against him.  Yadadada…

Well, with age comes wisdom and these babes recognize a shmoozer when they see one!  Nonetheless, we leave a significant tip commensurite with the entertainment and attention he provided and then cozied up with Perry for one last photo.

Hoofing it back to the Bart station, we recapped the day’s mischief, feeling quite proud of ourselves for throwing caution to the wind.. just like old times!  Five hot babes from the OC doing the City!

BTW, this might have been one of those “you had to be there” stories. So if you’d like to leave a comment on this blog with your email we will invite you next time pending an UBER big enough and a driver brave enough.  Until then, let’s raise a glass to midlife mischief!

 

 

Strength in Numbers

Strength in Numbers

Anyone familiar with the Shaheen family knows that it is a male dominated clan.  My dad is one of five brothers.  My parents had five sons.  I have three sons.   Four of my brothers all have at least one or two sons.  One of my brothers married a man!  Gee whiz!

Females are a rarity.   And we stick together.

We are not the perfect family by any stretch of the imagination.  We’ve been through some tough things and have come out on the other side, strong in the broken places.  Each of us has a story to tell about the Shaheen men we have lived with, supported, nurtured and loved unconditionally.

I have learned so much about life from these brave women.  They have inspired me.  They have taken me shopping.  They have given me wardrobe and home decorating advice.  They have buoyed me up in times of despair and sadness.   They are the bonuses of my life.

Katie, Mojgan, Susan, Catherine, Christine, Adrienne, Adele, Aimee and Elizabeth.  We are missing Charise, Annamarie, Katy, Sarah, Jessica and my new daughter-in-law Brianna.  God willing, next year we will all be together for this picture.  It will be the best Christmas ever.

I am very grateful for these women.  They bring so many unique gifts and charisms to the Shaheen family.  My life would be very one dimensional without their strength and femininity, compassion and nurturing.  Not to mention our  collective cooking skills!

We no doubt have challenges ahead as every family does.  But we will navigate both the good times and the difficult times as they come.  We are sisters and friends.  We are united by our shared history.

We are strong together.