Christmas on the Curve

I knew when I got the stomach flu a few weeks ago that somehow I was destined to catch something else and ruin our Christmas with some form of effluent. What caught me by surprise was that everyone would be sick, including the dog and that I would spend Christmas morning on the Curve, as in Curving Avenue. For those that don’t live here, that’s pretty much as deep in the hood as you can get.

Things started to go wrong when I left all my cooking for Eva’s family only birthday get together until the morning of the event which started at 11am. A stressed out derelict mom and a stay-at-work dad can’t invent time so I was still cooking for about two hours after everyone arrived. Never fear, Eva still got her paleo chocolate cake with buttercream frosting and we managed to skype her grandparents in England but not until they were halfway into bed. It all got done and I was happy at least that I had not tried to throw her a real birthday party like we do in June for her “Unbirthday,” but the next day things started to go wrong.

On Monday it was back to work with a lunchtime escape courtesy of Chef Judah and Chef Serge at the Lido. When I returned home, my little Piggy was there waiting for me, as Reza drops him off every Monday afternoon when she takes Piccolo for his walk and we have several hours of quality time together. I knew something was wrong when I walked in and stepped in two puddles of pee. It wasn’t like him not to greet me at the door or to pee on the floor. Piggy has better manners than most of us.

When I picked him up he moaned a bit and I realized that he felt really light like he had lost weight in the few days since I had last seen him. Reza came to pick him up at about seven o’clock.

“Reza, I don’t think he is very well.”

“Yes, he wasn’t well yesterday either.”

“Do you think he could have gotten into some trash or eaten something bad?”

“Yes, the B….CH next door feeds him and when I tell her off she swears at me but I told her that I know plenty of French too.”

“Okay that’s probably what it is then. I will take him to the vet tomorrow, if we call them now and it’s not an emergency then they will say to bring him tomorrow.”

“Okay.” Reza said through tears, “I just don’t want to loose him.”

“Don’t worry we won’t loose him because he ate a bad hot dog.”

Clearly Reza knew more than I did.

A few hours later she called.

“I am sorry but I ignored what you said and I am taking Piggy to the after hours vet. I am already on my way.”

“Okay Reza.”

She called me on the way home and said that he had been given fluids for dehydration, and treated for gastroenteritis and that a blood test would come back tomorrow.

The following morning as I was trying to convince Eva to wear underwear and we were going through our regular repartee,

“Mummy turtles don’t wear underwear,” When the phone rang and it was the after hours vet.

“I am afraid it’s very bad news.”

Very bad news, what could that be he was fine a couple days ago!

“What?”

“He has severe diabetes and liver involvement.”

“Okay what does that mean?”

“You will need to do what is best for the dog and end his suffering.”

“I can’t do that today.”

“I know its not a good time of year.”

“If that’s the answer I have to take him to my vet for a second opinion.”

“I will need your credit card for the charges.”

“I will read you the number, the stripe is burnt out anyway.”

I spent the entire day wearing sunglasses in December trying to work, wrap gifts and not drown the house plants with my tears. I was going to have to put my dog down at Christmas, the dog I had to rehome last Christmas. It was not something I could quite get my head around. He was only eleven, miniature dachshunds should live to at least sixteen. I wasn’t mentally prepared for this. How would I tell Reza?

I picked up Piggy from Reza’s house and took him to the vet for our three o’clock appointment. My vet said immediately that Piggy would NOT have to be put down.

I was in shock.

“What do you mean, he doesn’t have to be put down, you mean we can wait until the new year?”

“No, you should just have to treat the diabetes.”

She looked over the blood work and confirmed.

“He does not have liver involvement, his liver enzymes are the same as they were a few years ago, slightly elevated but it doesn’t have to do with his diabetes.”

“Will he feel better with insulin?”

“Yes he has a complication from diabetes, ketosis which is making him sick not organ failure; we should be able to get him stabilized.”

I was so relieved. I wasn’t sure how much was because I didn’t have to put him down or because I didn’t have to break that horrible news to Reza.

I stressed myself out so much the next day I woke up with a terrible cold and cough, the horrible tickly throat cough that lasts for weeks, goes into your chest, and makes you cough till you can’t breathe and you throw up. You are never sure when it will strike and if you have one in public people start to crowd around you thinking you are having a panic attack or a seizure.

I cancelled all of our Christmas Eve plans and then got the bad news that Piggy would be in hospital until Christmas morning, so I went ahead and cancelled the Christmas breakfast I was supposed to be hosting at the house, anything to get out of cooking.

On Christmas day, I picked up Reza and we headed up the country to the vets, but not before she loaded my car with Cassava Pies and said we would have to make a delivery after we picked Piggy up. I was easy with that, at least the family knew better than to make me responsible for anything other than roast potatoes for Christmas dinner.

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Our vet gave Reza and I a full run down in how to give Piggy insulin shots and how to feed him and how much to feed him, and a full run down on possible complications. It was intimidating but I knew we could do it, and we had a four day weekend to get up to speed.

I was happy we were picking up Piggy and not a body bag on Christmas morning, it would not be the kind of package you expect to be handed on Christmas. Everything was looking up as Reza and I headed off west in the hazy sunshine of Christmas morning 2014. Spending it at the vets with Reza and the Pig was certainly not as bad as the Christmas morning I spent in the Maternity ward with a famished newborn. I kind of felt like an odd couple version of Thelma and Louise with a diabetic dog sitting on my lap as we headed toward town in my beat up 1997 Mazda, alone on the road when most people were feasting and opening gifts. We felt like we had escaped a much worse fate, and we each had a new lease on life as one of Piggy’s two mothers.

My exuberance was short lived.

“Reza, where is our next stop. Where are we taking all that Cassava pie.”

“We need to drop some by Stormy’s house.”

“Where does Stormy live?”

“Curving Avenue.”

I was silent for a moment.

“We are going to deliver Cassava pies on Curving Avenue on Christmas Morning?”

“Yes.” She said.

“Jesus Christ! “

“Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.”

“Reza, you sound like my mother.”

I thought about my options, I could admit I was scared to drive into the depth of the hood and instead opt to drop her on a street corner with more Cassava pie than she could carry and make her walk dragging a diabetic dog. Ummm no.

“You know, the Curve?” She asked

“Yes I know Curving Avenue,” I figured I was already in too deep with a back seat full of Cassava pie. Truth was the only time I had ever driven down Curving Avenue was as a news reporter eons ago, escorted by police to cover a fatal stabbing. It had just gotten more dangerous since then. In fact, gang violence was known to erupt around the holidays. I was instantly worried about Thelma and Louise, and the body bag. I wondered if someone would stick us up for Cassava Pie. I would never put that past a hungry Bermudian.

As we turned right past the sign that reads “Curving Avenue,” I sunk deep into my seat, eyes darting around, and whispered to Reza,

“Just tell me where?”

She seemed oblivious to my nervousness as she rolled down her window, and began what was an animated Robin Leech type tour of the hood.

“On the left you have Hoarders Manor, with a collection of fine furniture falling apart in the front yard, stolen or appropriated at least thirty years ago and built up in an alfresco tower to offset the front of the house, making it almost impossible to enter.”

“Above and to the right we are passing a much adorned piece of public art on a concrete edifice with the famous tagline, Money Over Bitches, inked in blood and located here with prominence to represent the artist’s emotional and physical landscape.”

As we wound silently around Curving avenue, I wondered if my Santa hat counted as a hoodie and started to worry about the case of insulin and hypodermic needles in the trunk. I considered what Thelma and Louise would do if we got stopped by an actual gangster. Reza would probably start speaking French, pull out the concealed pistol she found at the dump while I would try and offer the gangster money on my credit card to spare us and I am sure Piggy, diabetic and pint size would put on quite a fight against any pit-bull. All of that I was hoping to avoid.

“Are we there yet?”

“It is right up here by the Cake Shop.”

Cake Shop

I braked as a motorbike came from the other direction.

“That’s Stormy’s daughter, beep your horn.”

“I am not beeping my horn on Curving Avenue.”

So Reza rolled the window down and started hollering,

“Cassava Pie delivery, Cassava Pie.”

Stormy’s daughter came over with a confused look on her face, and Reza handed her

a tray of Cassava through the window.

“I know better than to get out of the car.” Reza said to me, as we continued on our Cassava Christmas delivery route through the hood.

Happily Thelma and Louise eventually made it back to the relative safety of St. David’s and the East End massive. I kissed Reza and Piggy Merry Christmas and returned home to Eva, Daddy and Piccolo with my own tray of Cassava Pie. It was refreshing to have done something different for a change on Christmas morning and to have survived without champagne or sausages, and to have Piggy for another year of Monday visits and Saturday outings is more than enough of a Christmas gift for both of us, Thelma and Louise that is.

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A Birthday Party or Three

Tomorrow my little baby Eva will turn three years old and officially become a Big Girl. As an only child Eva has gotten away with a lot of baby behavior for far to long. My embarrassment is often confessed to friends when Eva demands, “I want my nipple babi (her bottle)” something she should have given up two years ago. At least she is not an eight year old sucking a pacifier or worse, my breast- thank god I gave that up on week six. Eva also still sleeps in a crib, and has been asking for a big girl bed for at least a year. I have been promising her that she can finally have her big girl bed for six months but I keep shifting the date of my promise, counting on her inability to fathom time.

Now that she is heavy enough to give me a hard time lifting her into her crib, I have decided to take the metaphorical reindeer by the antlers and allow her to move into a big girl bed tomorrow. We will also be relinquishing her afternoon nap, my only two hour break on the weekends to work, surf facebook, write my blog, etc. I will miss her nap, but I won’t miss the bedtimes, which have lengthened to at times 10pm. I think I really loved her nap a bit too much. In exchange for her big girl bed and not having a nap Eva has to make an even trade and give up her bottles, this will be difficult to enforce, but life must move on. Parenting is really just a very long lesson in the art of the barter.

The upside of having an almost three year old is the tantrums have downsized, although a lot of parents say it is not the terrible 2s, it’s the terrible 1s,2s and 3s. Eva herself had her first tantrum a few days after her first birthday when I came to collect her from school. Auntie Zoe saw my new mother of a toddler look of horror, and lifted her hand to stop me from reacting further and said, “ This is a tantrum, you must ignore it.” The worst tantrums of course were right around two but they have been steadily improving since then. A friend of mine said her daughter’s tantrums were so bad she was convinced it was her personality, but it did shift eventually, and she was hugely relieved that it was just a phase, albeit a very long one.

Like all phases, as you see the backside of one, the next one hits you totally unprepared. Eva’s turning three phase is an honesty phase, when she says exactly what she thinks, right when she thinks it without social tact, embarrassment, or any kind of filtration. I hope it’s an almost three year old phase, but the thought has crossed my mind that she could have possibly inherited this character trait from my mother, and in that case it will be more than just a phase, and an interminably long one. My mother calls it “Telling It Like It Is.”

When we were at a Christmas party recently Eva was waiting patiently with Daddy to use the bathroom, when the very tall father of the host exited the bathroom. Eva yelled, “Daddy that man looks like the CREEPER,” hiding behind his legs while desperately trying to hold her wee. The Creeper for those who aren’t up on their Scooby Doo is one of the monsters that haunts the Mystery Kids.

A far worse example was when I had been to the gym, and in my usual crazy rush neglected to take a shower for one, perhaps several days and when I picked Eva up one such afternoon from school, she threw her little arms around me and stuck her nose in my crotch and yelled, “Mommy You are Stinky!” at least twice to my complete mortification. I knew somewhere my own mother was enthusiastically nodding.

Then there was the time when we were at the coffee shop and I saw her little friend Gwyenie coming through the door and alerted Eva of her arrival. Just as Gwyenie entered our room Eva yelled, “But I don’t like Gwyenie.” I smiled as my cheeks blushed, and Eva continued to completely ignore the little girl. I suppose the lesson there is I can’t choose my daughter’s friends.

Although Eva’s tantrums have diminished now that she is three, she is harder to fool. Her newest phrase is, “It’s not fair.” She says this at any and every time she has to go to bed, turn off the TV or eat a green vegetable. I am not sure what “fair” is in comparison to because she is an only child and sure her 40 something parents are allowed to stay up past 9 pm, the terrible irony is they would love to go to bed at 9, but they have a night owl toddler and lack the energy for “It’s not fair,” discipline.

We are aware that as an only child, there are drawbacks and advantages. She gets at least 20 books read to her a day, we harp on about the important questions in life, like if she ate five or eight green beans, every sheet is clean and her lunch box rotated every three months, she is signed up for gymnastics and swimming three months in advance, she has an album for every year of her life, a drawer for her artwork, framed pictures of every childhood milestone and has at least twenty gifts under the Christmas tree.

At several times we have had those parental conversations about not spoiling her yet it still happens. We decided when she was still in the womb that after her first year we would throw her a birthday party with her friends in the summer so that she would not suffer from having a birthday right next to Christmas, a birthday everyone forgets except for Jesus. This year was our first with a June birthday party, as soon as it was done I thought phew I can cross that off the list but by the time December rolled around, I thought oh lets have a little lunch for family and godparents. So now Eva is having another birthday party tomorrow, complete with cake, a treasure hunt and more and more presents. Opps it just kind of happened perhaps because it takes a landmark in our toddler’s life to get us to host a social event.

Unbeknownst to me, Auntie Zoe threw a birthday party on Wednesday for Eva because several of her friends at nursery were going away for Christmas. That night Eva had a tantrum reminiscent of when she was twenty four months old. I was shocked, OMG she has regressed. The following day when I found out about the party Auntie Zoe and I put together that she was expecting to get her big girl bed that night, but yet again mommy disappointed her. I felt really guilty, confusing the poor child with not one but three birthdays, she probably didn’t know if she was two, three or twenty three.

Tomorrow is her actual birthday, not one of the several “Unbirthdays” and I hope it lives up to her expectations. My mother has already started coaching her for the occasion. My mother just returned from Boston where she purchased a little black dress for Eva to wear on her big day. When she gave Eva the dress, she said.

“Now Eva, when your grandfather suggested black for your birthday dress, my first thought was no of course you cant buy a child a black dress, it needs to be pink or purple.”

Eva did not react and kept playing with her legos.

“Then when he said you would look fabulous in it because of your blonde hair, I reconsidered.”

Eva barely makes eye contact but pretends to be an elephant.

“Every woman no matter what age needs the quintessential little black dress,”

my mother continued.

Eva continued pretending to be a sleeping elephant, a sophisticated make believe play, a clever disguise for I’m not interested.

“It should be multi-seasonal, go from day wear to evening wear, smart casual and dressed up for formal.”

Eva the elephant was pretending to snore.
“Black is slimming, but the material and cut is just as important, and then there is the label, recognizability is a must if you want to be anyone who is anyone.”

“Mom she is turning three not thirty.”

“Never too early.”

I look down at my daughter as she picks her nose and chases the dog around the house.

“Mom, I hate to break it to you but I think she is a tom boy.”

Tom Boy

“Hmphf, you’re the one that pointed out she is only three. I have started her an account at Talbots, they are having a special on tweed.”

“We are having a special on vodka at Eva’s party.”
“Okay good.”

“Okay good.”

“Then we will all be happy?”

“Only if Eva wears her little black dress.”

“I will make sure to wear perfume.”

Happy Birthday to Eva!

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The Worsick Family Christmas Letter 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I am writing this while sitting on the toilet, it is the only free time a mother has but at this moment I would trade it in for a clean bill of health. Eva and I have bonded more and more throughout 2014 by sharing communicable diseases including my current ailment, a week-long stomach bug. I didn’t know that existed until I had a two year old in nursery, only one of the amazing discoveries I have made this year! Daddy seems immune but that is probably just because he chose the year of the terrible twos to become a Stay-at-Work Dad, working two jobs and starting a new career in 2015. He has decided to get into the field of security systems, that seemed like a better way to profit from the growing crime rate than to turn our basement into a marijuana farm. I was leaning toward the marijuana farm but never mind.

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Eva has become more and more verbal and expressive like her mother. Just last night she said, “I like it when Daddy is not at home.” We are getting closer and becoming more and more alike. I am pleased to report that she has recently learned how to pick her nose with her big toe. Mommy is not sure whether to be proud or embarrassed. Most people are still unsure of Eva’s gender, but that is because she spends more time in a turtle costume than in normal clothes.

She takes pleasure in outsmarting us. When Daddy tried to feed her grapes for breakfast the other day, she said, “turtles don’t eat grapes, they eat jelly fish.” Later on I struck a deal with her that after her bath I would allow her to get back into her turtle costume only if she allowed me to brush her hair. She agreed. When I whipped out the hairbrush, her response was “Turtles don’t have hair.” Mommy still has a lot to learn about arguing with a toddler.

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She has also become quite observant. After climbing on Daddy recently, she noticed the top of his head, and asked him with much concern, “Daddy what happened to the hair on the top of your head?” Mommy is not free from her toddler torment either, every time I use the toilet in her presence, she warns me, “Don’t break the toilet seat mummy.”

Everyone seems to think Eva is some sort of genius because she could do three year old puzzles and use adverbs from the age of one and a half, but I am not so sure, now that she is almost three and still can’t figure out how to climb out of her crib. I knew ballet was a lost cause so I have started Eva in gymnastics lessons, it might help.

As for me, after being unemployed for several months at the beginning of the year I now have two projects on the go, that are inevitably growing larger and getting more and more expensive, which is exactly how I would describe the reality of having a child, and probably how my husband would describe having a wife especially one with a sky miles credit card.

I am coming closer to convincing Eva that by the time she is three she can’t expect Mommy to carry her into school and to the car and next door and basically everywhere all of the time but I figure as long as she isn’t standing on a street corner yelling “Pick Me UP!” when she is twenty then we are all good.

I also find myself carrying Piccolo around now that he is too fat and arthritic to get down the steps. Piccolo is a sausage dog, but now at the ripe age of almost 12, he is more sausage than dog, and requires all the care of a doggie old folks home. I am thinking of putting him on the treadmill, that treadmill that I don’t ever get around to using.

I asked Santa for an amazon.com slow cooker and a soda stream for Christmas, it was only upon reflection that I realized how middle aged that was, that and the fact that I haven’t checked out the new restaurants, or even been away more than once in a year and a half. Maybe I am aging in dog years, and that’s why Piccolo and I are such good bedfellows. We roll over and leave Daddy at the other end of the bed.

For Christmas I ordered the largest tent I could find on amazon for Eva and shipped it to my mother’s Boston apartment and then told Daddy, “I have to fly to Boston to collect the tent in January, maybe with some friends and it might take a week.”

For 2015, I am wishing to not get hemorrhoids, to not get run over, to not get divorced or pregnant, and to never get the stomach flu ever again, especially the strain that lasts for a week.

I just reached into my desk drawer to find a pen to sign this letter, and found a deconstructed tampon. It’s a toddler’s metaphor for my life. At least I didn’t whip that out at client meeting.

All my best for 2015. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already, I would love to break the 100 followers mark ( I have 49). Pathetic, I know. Undiscovered. Not for long.

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A Spoof Christmas Letter

I am sure we have all rolled our eyes at a Christmas letter or two in the past. As much as my entire family makes fun of my mother’s annual tome, she has used the annual letter to keep up to date with friends she would have otherwise lost track of forty years ago when their paths diverged. But at times Christmas letters feel like reading someone’s inflated resume to the power of five, and it leaves you with a feeling of jealousy and at the same time fraud. There is this imaginary gulf between those who seem to reap unfathomable success ( the writers) and those who don’t (the readers.) Feelings of inadequacy abound. The measure of a Christmas letter in the same way is how well you lie, inflate and manage your image. I suppose that is why people have entire careers in P.R., marketing, branding and the like- 20
% of the population are effective liars and 80% are gullible. I suppose the perfect recipe for a Christmas letter is probably a teaspoon of truth, a tablespoon of inflation, and one great heaping of omission. My mother has come up with some hilarious letters in the past. She has an extremely savvy way of crafting her letters, one such technique is to give away a huge revelation and then quickly there after hide an omission. It’s the time honoured technique of diversion. In 1999 I was the victim of just such a technique. In the first paragraph, she wrote:

“1999 has been a good year for us. Luci was at home with us and worked for a local TV ad radio station VSB for a year while she applied to grad school. She suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but is feeling much better after homiopathic treatment and a special diet.”

Yes she misspelled Homeopathic, perhaps on purpose. I am not sure she thought about whether or not I might not want her entire world to know the details of the disease I was suffering from. I wonder if she will list her ailments in the 2014 letter, that is a possibility I wouldn’t put past her.

In the next paragraph comes the omission.

“Giles has changed schools. Things did not work out at St. George’s in Newport, R.I. although he enjoyed the sailing.”

Fifteen years later, I am sure everyone can guess that he was actually expelled for something other than enjoying sailing.

Over this last Thanksgiving week my old advisor from boarding school came to Bermuda for a holiday. We got to chatting about my mother’s Christmas letters which everyone loves and she reminded me of the year we sent a spoof letter.

“We sent that letter?” I asked.

“Yes, I remember opening it and I only read the spoof side, and I thought to myself, my god what has happened to the Spurlings!”

Her young daughter agreed, “Yes I remember the year we got that letter.”

Her mother, my advisor replied, “It took a few days but eventually I realized that there was another more typical letter on the other side and I thought PHEW! “

This conversation dredged up the fragment of a memory- did we really send that spoof letter my sister wrote?

I called her up, “Anna Laura, remember that spoof letter you wrote a while ago.”

“Yes.”

“Did we actually send that to people, I am thinking maybe we did to a few people.”

“I think maybe we did to a few people.”

“Did we send it to the Thomases?”

“You wouldn’t have sent it to the Thomases!”

“I think we did send it to the Thomases.”

“Oh my god, how many people did we send it to?”

“Who knows!”

“It was the toned down version though, not the first draft.”

“Yeah not the first draft with the unplanned pregnancies, chemical dependencies and inappropriate tattoos, yeah it wasn’t that wayward draft.”

“Phew, What year was it.”

“I think it was around 2007.”

“It was the year you were pregnant with Trystan.”

“Yeah before any of us had children and we had way too much time on our hands.”

I was inspired enough to dig through the family archive, which is my mother’s unreliable ancient imac, and found the very spoof letter, which is worth a chuckle even now. I am including it below, and at the same time considering drafting an updated 2014 version. If you are wondering, the puffer fish is still sending her annual puffed up letters. We have learned the hard way to cast an eye over it before it goes out, to catch embarrassing revelations, omissions and flat out misinformation like when she said my husband Chris, was the CEO of Island Press. It was her dream, not his reality.

Spoof Xmas Letter

Anna Laura got 2 cavities filled this year. She finally gave up smoking, but has plenty of wrinkles to show for it. She continues to drink heavily (she is a Spurling after all.) She is still dating the same guy for more than 7 years now and much to my dismay they are still not married, but will soon move in together and be living in sin. And he is not even baptized – can you believe it?

Luci is also living in sin with her boyfriend Chris. Thankfully he is baptized, but unfortunately he is more than 10 + years older than Luci. Luci also had a filling this year and now suffers from a stomach issues, which is probably a result of the copious from amounts of cheap wine she consumed in her twenties or it could be from the French kissing her dachshunds, Piglet & Piccolo (Don’t ask!).

Giles eyes failed him this year, he’s now blind as a bat just like his mother – how cute! At age 24,he’s still very much a momma’s boyJ! While at work “Four Eyes” calls home every day to ask his mother what she thinks about his every move. He gets all his laundry done for him, all meals cooked, all shopping done for him. And he doesn’t yet have to pay rent – however he still finds life quite difficult. It ‘s a rough life for my little baby G-boy!

Rick is a cigar sucking, slightly pudgy, but happy retiree. He spends an average of 5 hours a day sitting in his armchair puffing and a few more on the john pushing. He is too busy to play golf or exercise. In his retirement he has perfected the art of hovering over his computer leading to steady weight gain. My snoring keeps him awake all night and dogs barking all day prevents napping. Oh the golden years!!

I have had a couple of surgeries this year. The liposuction, the planned surgery, unfortunately was the one with absolutely no result. Ughaa… I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that my knees will forever be chubby. The other surgery I had was due to gorging myself on our European cruise. Due to overeating I developed a blockage in my bowel and had to have it removed in emergency in surgery in Boston. Unfortunately I didn’t loose any weight but rather swelled up like a puffer fish, although I must say it did help me float quite well while swimming this summer.

As you can see, all is well at Hard-a-Lee!

                                   Happy 2008!

 

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