What a picture perfect day it is here in Northern California. I would be celebrating the glorious spring weather was it not for the wind rustling through the freshly sprouted tree leaves, distributing a fine layer of dusty golden pollen now covering my freshly washed car. I am an allergy sufferer, so each spring I pay the price for enjoying all the lovely early blooms popping up in my garden, and reveling in the happy dance of the bees hovering over my azalea bush. Last year I went in for a series of skin tests to narrow down what, in fact, was triggering the endless bouts of sneezing and perpetual drip, drip, drip of my nasal passages when April and May roll around on the calendar. When the results were in, it would appear I have checked all the boxes. Cats, check, dogs, check, mold, check, trees, hay, check. Check, check, check and on and on.

The doctor’s first suggestion, one which I have already implemented, was to use air purifiers. I put one in the living room, and the other one is happily humming away in my bedroom. Unfortunately, a full-nature model covering the planet at large isn’t available on the market as yet, so this only alters the indoor environment. Also, he told me to be sure my heater/AC vents are properly dusted, and to replace the filters often. Vacuuming and dusting regularly will help as well, something I already do, and keeping the cat outdoors if possible. Done, done and, um, not done. These suggestions have been a big help, up to to the outdoor cat situation, which simply which isn’t doable. Noticing I ignored the outdoor cat invitation, my doctor took a different tack, this time pointing a finger directly at my cat. He felt it would be better if Boo slept somewhere other than my bed and if I wished to keep a pet, I should keep her out of the bedroom entirely. Right, Dr. M., you tell Boo. She’s pretty sure that’s where she is going to be. As for me, I’m not comfortable sleeping with both doors shut to my room, nor am I inclined to get up twenty times in the wee hours to remove a reluctant feline from the bed. I’m already up three times for other reasons, if you get my drift. I mentioned casually to Boo she might consider using the lovely fleece lined cat bed I purchased for her last winter. I can’t be certain but I’m pretty sure the extended paw I got in response had only one middle claw pointed upward for emphasis. Let’s say I was getting a lot of cattitude. In her defense, this is a standard of behavior we have established over some thirteen years, and neither of us is looking to change it any time soon. The third choice he gave me, which I liked the best of the three, was for me to begin a series of allergy shots. Apparently, these shots can prove very effective in lowering a persons allergic response to irritants. That is, of course, unless I prove allergic to shots, which isn’t entirely off the table. Where do I sign up? I start in two weeks. Have to wait until the Covid shot effects are completely out of my body. So, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, will continue to sleep on the pillow next to me in my new bed, and I will continue to regale her with her much needed belly rubs and brush her eternally molting coat. Life is good.

Aside from the allergies, I have asthma. Essentially I signed up for the whole litter of the breathing spectrum kiddies. I went to pick up my inhaler the other day, my first refill of 2021. $285 lighter, I received my teeny tiny small bag from the pharmacy clerk for my donation and went out in my car to weep in private. My deductible allows for one whopping price tag at the beginning of the year, and this was the one for 2021. Don’t get me started on drug prices. I pay a small fortune for health insurance to fill in the gaps that Medicare doesn’t pay. On top of that, I pay a prescription drug plan costing another third of a Hamilton to cover my medication, and yet still lay out $285 for an inhaler. It is not like this is a face cream where I have a choice on which one I select, or the option to not to select one at all. I need my inhaler to breathe. What do people do who do not have $285 to lay down on the counter? Gets my Irish up.

As I said one can choose or not choose how much to pay for beauty products. My mother, for example, always did her shopping at the Lancome counter at Nordstrom’s. If we were shopping of a day we’d often drop by to pick up her latest batch of high priced beauty products as well as the little gift bag usually handed to her by the copiously fragrant and perfectly put together sales girl at the end of her hefty purchase. You can tell you are in the high rent section of a store when you get a gift bag for buying something at the counter. In my case, I generally get my beauty products at the local drugs store where they charge you $ .10 if you wish to have a bag for your items, and it is plastic not pink or lilac, and doesn’t come with a little fabric tie. What I’m saying here is I could live nicely without any beauty products, though undoubtedly I would live alone, but an inhaler isn’t an opt in or opt out kind of decision I can make. The drug companies have us backed in a corner and they know it. It’s like the oil companies. Unless everyone is going to run out and purchase a Tesla, we are going to continue to have to pay whatever the price is at the pump that the traffic will bear. It would make me nervous I think to have an all electric car. What if you’re driving in the middle of the desert and you can’t find a place to recharge? A bad memory I have is going over the grapevine once in the dead of winter across snow packed highways. I had borrowed a friend’s diesel Mercedes to make the trip as my car was in the shop. At the time diesel wasn’t sold as readily as it is now and I found myself on a steep grade late at night with the gas gauge needle pointed directly at E. Thankfully, a huge amount of commercial trucks travel that particular route so I located a station with a diesel pump before I had to pull over to the side of the road and wait for my extremities to begin to go numb.

Well there’s my hump day hump. I’m done now. Thank you for allowing me to vent. I hope your week is without frustration and running as quietly as a Tesla on a deserted country road (hopefully with a recharge station). Talk soon. Stay safe.

I slept in my new bed for the first time last night. Funny how change effects you more as you age, or that is the case for me. There I was comfortably tucked away on my brand spanking new mattress, and I was wide awake every half hour counting the pock holes in the ceiling. My old mattress, like a pair of well-loved old jeans, had conformed exactly to my shape. This one is still factory fresh, and a bit stiff. When I got my couch a few years back, I went through a similar transition. Rick and I had a double recliner couch which was extremely comfortable. When I moved into this house, a much smaller space, I realized trying to fit that large piece of furniture into my new living room was not doable. It would have been like trying to shove a hot dog into a drinking straw. Stuff was going to ooze out one end or the other. So, I sold the recliners and bought a lovely hide a bed couch and scheduled a delivery one week after I moved in. Once the van arrived and the sofa was in place, I knew I’d made a good choice. When the delivery men left, I poured cup of coffee and went into the living room to take a test drive on my new purchase. The couch pillows were packed so tightly, when I sat down the spring back nearly catapulted across the room. I called the store I’d bought it from. Explaining the problem to the salesperson, she said I needed to give it a month or two to settle in. Also, I was told a hide a bed will feel a bit tighter because of the extra interior space taken up by the bed and mattress. The woman went on to ask if I was a small person. When I told her I was, she actually suggested I invite some heavy set people over to sit on it to help loosen it up. Really? Are you kidding me? How do I word that invitation exactly, or do I simply run an ad? Anyhow, sure enough, it did indeed loosen up, and now is very comfortable to sit on. The cat too is going through an adjustment period with the bed. In the middle of the night I caught her walking across the blanket so gingerly you’d have thought she was traversing a field of cut glass rather than a cotton comforter.

I was far more resilient when was younger. Back then, I could throw a sleeping bag on the hard ground, hop in it, and zip, zip, zip enjoy 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep. For three months when living in our house in the Santa Cruz mountains, my ex-husband and I slept on an old blow up mattress on our living room floor. The outside of the mattress was really more a patchwork quilt of duct tape and patches then it was plastic. As holes popped up, we applied another bandaid, until the original dark blue color was nearly obliterated. Each night we pump, pump, pumped it up, and each night by around 3:30 all the air would have escaped through one slow leak or another leaving us sprawled on the hardwood floor. When we finally did bite the bullet and purchase a bedroom set, it took me three weeks to once again acclimate myself to sleeping on a soft surface.

Now, let me say I don’t mind sleeping on an inflatable mattress for short periods of time. For those of you having slept on them, though not uncomfortable, they can sometimes be a bit tricky to navigate. Rick and I slept on one at a friends house some years back. I got up to make my usual pilgrimage to the loo in the wee hours (no pun intended). Slipping back into bed, my weight apparently created a sort of air tsunami raising Rick up on the crest of a plastic wave then propelling him into a rather unnatural looking back flip over the top of the bed. Once I determined he was unhurt, I giggled myself back to sleep. He, I have to say, was less than amused.

Another bed requiring a learning curve was the waterbed. I had one for nearly a decade. Amazingly, they still have these floating around (if you will). I would imagine they are far improved from the large water balloons we originally slept on. One thing I can tell you for sure, water beds and cats are not a working combination. When I had my bed, there were three cats in residence at my house. Actually there were two dogs, three cats, two hamsters, and a maniacal rabbit. My husband at the time traveled about two thirds of our married life. His rules were simple, no animals on the bed ever. When he was away I often bent that rule a bit. Kitty, the matriarch of our cat family, enjoyed a little human companionship from time to time and I didn’t mind sharing space with her as long as she stayed on her side of the bed and didn’t snore. This particular night was humid and hot. I was wearing a diaphanous nightgown suitable for the hot weather. In the middle of the night I had a vivid dream. In the dream I was floating weightlessly in the warm waters of a hot spring. It was such a glorious feeling, so light and warm, until my subconscious was interrupted by a harsh “meow”. Reluctantly opening my eyes, I realized quickly the cat and I were submerged like two shipwrecked sailors in a huge puddle created undoubtedly by the cat kneading on my bed. Good lord. What a mess that was. I was up before the roosters siphoning water into the backyard and blow drying my soaked feline. That was to be my last water bed. I do have to admit, looking back, they were lovely to sleep on.

What I do find interesting is here I am now able to luxuriate in bed of a morning. Finally I can sleep as long as I choose with no annoying alarm to pull me out of my sleep, and what do I do? I find myself wide awake at 2:00 a.m. thinking about making a meatloaf or knitting socks for the soldiers. For years, I ritualistically set the alarm for 4:30 a.m. in order to get to work on time. I always left ten minutes of wiggle room to hit the snooze button before dragging my tired behind out from under the warm covers. Sometimes there is no justice. I’m just sayin.

So, on that note I will head outside to do some planting. I ordered some live plants through the mail. Interesting that. I got a box that looked like it would house a large microwave. Opening it, there were two diminutive boxes toward the bottom each holding one tiny plant. K. Anyhow, I shall plant them and hope they do better than the last one I purchased by mail guaranteed to cascade over the top of my deck planter. Not. It never bloomed, never grew, there was never a single cascade or additional leaf produced, ever. I called the company after a month to complain, and they’d gone out of business. No mystery there.

Have a great day!!

This week has been hectic. I feel a bit like I’ve been running a marathon and finally crossed the finish line, tired but not beaten. Whew. My mother celebrated a milestone birthday. In deference to the fact she doesn’t like her age revealed, let’s just say she’s not a centurion as yet, but she’s marching steadily in that direction. I am seriously hoping we will be celebrating her 105th birthday one of these days. Since we are both fully vaccinated and past the two week grace period following the second shot, I got to hug her for the first time in a year. Cannot tell you how satisfying that was. Contact with other living creatures is so important to our well being, or at least I know it is for mine.

Even animals need companionship. Last night on the news they featured a story about a stray dog in North Carolina. The dog, a one year old male, had repeatedly sneaked into a Dollar Store when customers opened the door to visit a stuffed purple unicorn. Store employees, exhausting all efforts to deter the animal from entering the store, finally called in Animal Control to arrest the pup for breaking and entering. The officer, after assessing the situation, and the potential criminal, dropped $10 on the counter for the unicorn and took the dog and stuffed back to the animal shelter with her to look for a new home. Sisu, named by shelter employees after a character in Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, has now found his forever home with the condition he and the unicorn be adopted together. Awwwww. I don’t know why, I just love that story.

We all need someone to love. I know my step is a bit lighter these days having someone to do for and go places with again. I am fine by myself and quite able to build a live without a mate, but I have to say I find more satisfaction when I have another being in my life to share things with. Aside from having my family, and a new man in my life, truly I am blessed with such a great group of friends. I wouldn’t trade any one of these beings for anything in the world. Well, except perhaps a lifetime supply of In N Out burgers or one night with Nick Nolte as he looked in the Prince of Tides. Just kidding (well, almost). As you get further along in life, the people who populate your world become far more important and rich than what you possess or what you perceive you need.

Today my new bed is arriving. It is with mixed feelings I say goodbye to the old one. Rick had just bought it when we first met. We spent our first days on that bed and our last days together lying next to one on that mattress. Like all things, its time has come to an end. My back is shaking my hand heartily every day for making this decision, though the cat is far less enthusiastic about it. We had to dismantle the whole bed on Friday night. A young couple was coming Saturday to claim the headboard, foot board, and frame. The mattresses had to be wrapped in plastic so the delivery men would take them, and the whole frame needed a general sprucing up, including a good dusting and some paint touch up. What’s old to me, became new and fresh in these young people’s eyes. They were so happy to get the bed and appreciative it was in good condition. I have peace knowing though the mattress will be heading wherever old mattresses end their days, the frame will have a new life somewhere else creating new memories. Boo, the Queen of cats, made a total scene once was everything was disassembled. The cat’s days are spent either with her furry head bent over her bowl, her paws busy covering up whatever new deposit she has left for me in her litter box, or perched atop three pillows like the Princess and the Pea on the right side of my bed. Having her nest temporarily dismantled was cause for much feline alarm and anxiety. Lacking access to kitty Prozac, yesterday I actually had to reassemble the mattresses on the floor so she could wipe the sad, pitiful look off her cat face and settle in again until the new bed arrived. It is becoming patently obvious who’s running this show of late.

So the delivery men just left. What a difference paring down to a queen size bed has made in my room. Wow. I can actually get to both sides of the bed with room to spare to change the sheets without hanging with my knees over a trapeze to pull the sheet over the side by the wall. Yay. I bagged up all my king size sheets on Saturday and ran an ad on Facebook reading “Five Sets of Beautiful King Size Sheets – Free”. Before I pushed “publish” I had ten people in the queue. Goodness. One lady asked if I delivered. When I asked where she lived, it turned out to be a 45 minute drive from here each way. Now, let me answer that in the kindest way possible. I am giving you a bag full of really nice linens at no cost to you except whatever gas it requires to get here. The simplest answer would be, “No, I do not deliver.” I never mind doing something extra for someone but this lady simply told me she had a busy life and simply didn’t have time to run about collecting sheets. Okay. I too have a busy life and don’t have time to run around delivering sheets which is why I posted an ad which read “Whoever wants these must pick them up”. Instead a lovely young girl with little ones in tow showed up. She thanked me profusely and said she could really use them so I was glad she was the one to take them home.

Also over the weekend my new coffee table was delivered. I had two poufs in front of my couch for two and a half years. They were very nice and visually interesting but I was getting tired of restuffing and cleaning them constantly. Since I was already sinking into the debt pool with the bed, why not submerge completely and add a coffee table to the canoe? The poufs were in great condition and fairly large. I have found if you put free on almost anything and place it by the curb it grows legs and disappears fairly quickly. I had an old love seat when I married to my ex-husband. We kept it in the garage so he could sit down out there when he was working in the shop area. As you might imagine, it picked up a few stains around all that grease and the rusty tools. When we decided it was time for it to go I suggested we move it to the curb and put a sign on it reading “Take Me”. My husband said no one would want that old thing so we made a wager. $10 to me if it was gone by sundown and $10 to him if it was not. Shortly after moving it to the curb, we went to the market leaving the love seat there with it’s sign. By the time we returned there was no love seat just another sign reading “Thank You”. Nice. Within ten minutes of putting the poufs by the curb with a similar sign and a heart a Jeep went by, applied the brakes, backed up and snatched the two poufs and they disappeared down the road. Yay. Life, as they say, is good.

The coffee table looks great. Buying it sight unseen was a little iffy, but it turned out to be the perfect choice. Not having bought it from a large furniture store, it was up to us to assemble it. At one point we realized we had gotten to the fourth and last leg and done it wrong. This meant going back and undoing all the work we’d done on the first three. I rarely imbibe anymore, but I have to admit when that realization sunk in, my thoughts immediately went to a margarita in an icy glass. Darn, darn, darn. Good news, we really tightened the screws as we went so it was such a pain to undo. By the time we were done, I couldn’t look at that piece of furniture for a while without wanting to set a match to it. Now, however, I love it. All good.

So, my house is set. The delivery men had quite a time getting the bed in. This house was built in the 1930’s. Like many of that era, it has small rooms with hard angles. One of the guys stepped in the cat litter box, fortunately pristine, and dumped it all over the floor. The other one knocked down two pictures trying to get the box spring around the corner. That’s why they hire young strong men to deliver this stuff. Thank God they assembled it all before they left. Didn’t think I had another afternoon of that in me for this week.

Well, I’ll quit for now. Have a great day! Vaccinations, one step closer to freedom and getting our lives back. All my Covid symptoms that had been hanging on have dissipated since getting my second shot. So thankful.

It’s been a long week. Had my second Covid vaccination on Monday, which landed me in bed for a few days. My way of dealing with pain to discomfort is to sleep my way through it. Put me somewhere comfortable, throw me a pillow and a blanket, and leave me alone until I rise again.

I have some experience with illness. Over the years I’ve had my share of major surgeries. As I’ve said previously, with each marriage, I donated a body part to science. Having four marriages to my credit, this has required significant sacrifice on my part. I hardly show up on an ex-ray any more. If you look at it through that lens, I really can’t risk another “I do”. Fortunately, all the essential pieces remain, so I continue to chug along like a well tuned engine, or at least one with most of it’s workable parts. Each day I am thankful for that.

I’m not a particularly good patient. I hate being sick, but I’m sure no one really looks forward to it. As a child if I became ill, I hesitated to mention it. My grandmother, though having given up her career to raise her family, had been an R.N. My grandfather and two uncles were physicians, one a pediatrician. I can remember the first time I mentioned I had a tummy ache to my grandmother. Back in her day, they treated everything from ring worm to jaundice with a good dose of cod liver oil. You think it sounds bad? You should taste it. Before I could emit another burp, my grandmother was standing before me, spoon extended, telling me to open and swallow. Leading the lambs to slaughter, I say. I had no idea what was in that spoon. I was belching cod for two days. Next my uncles would show up or my grandfather. I would be prodded and poked like a significant find at an archaelogical dig. If anything was amiss, usually not serious, I would be tucked in bed with a hot water bottle and dosed back to health.

It wasn’t enough as a child I leaned towards, and landed right on top of, being chubby. My mother and grandmother, both fabulous hands in the kitchen, equated food with love, and I was ladled out a generous serving of both. To add insult to injury, I had been born with a lazy eye, my left. Surgery not an option until I was older, glasses were prescribed to help correct the situation. In an effort to strengthen the eye, one lens covered with a patch. It gave me the look of a pudgy, midget pirate. Lovely. Fortunately, I had childhood friends more concerned with my genius prowess at hide and go seek, or my fear of almost nothing they suggested, that kept me socially acceptable in spite of my physical limitations. This generosity did not always extend to kids who did not know me, however, leaving me open for comments like “four eyes” and “ahoy, matey”, making the glasses my least favorite accessory.

Corrective eye surgery was scheduled when I was seven. The procedure has to be done when you are young, with any likelihood of success. The opthamologist, a family friend, and colleague of my grandfathers, assured my worried mother all would be wonderful once the procedure was behind me. The day of the surgery I was a bit scared, but it was nothing when compared to my mother’s anxiety. Being her “only chick” as she always called me, she didn’t have a spare to replace me should I come to a nasty end. The doctor came in to reassure and explain what to expect, the pre-surgery relaxer was administered, and off I went. Unfortunately, the all would be wonderful part fell through a crack in the operating room floor. The surgical nurse tasked with dilating my eyes with a diluted solution of Atroprine, accidentally used concentrated, causing a huge reaction by my little body. My face swelled up, I got welts all over, and was generally a hot mess. The concern beyond the obvious physical reactions was my eyesight would be permanently affected. Sigh. So, home I went, still one lazy eye and now so much more. For two months my grandmother took care me. Every day I had eye washes and then gooey salves. Eventually my eyesight returned to where it had been pre-surgery and my face, though still fat, was no longer swollen. Mother, so afraid of having me lose my vision or worse never signed me up again for the procedure. The window of opportunity before my teens passed, and thus my eyesight has remained poor in my left eye the rest of my life. Thankfully, my right eye is a total trouper, and the aesthetics of the condition barely noticeable unless I point it out or I’m extremely tired. To this day I have one hazel eye and one pale gray. This particular side effect is rather effective, so I don’t mind it so much. One should have a little character in one’s face. Shear perfection can be such a bore. (Insert smile here.)

At nine I had my tonsils removed. We had moved to California at that point and started our new lives with my first stepfather. He had family in Southern California, so we were livin’ the dream in Fullerton not far from Disneyland. They don’t warn you ahead of time how sore removing those little soft tissue masses makes your throat. Tonsillectomies were a regular scheduled surgery back then. These days they are more hesitant about doing them. The bonus for an eater such as myself was the copious amount of ice cream coming my way once I got home. Often I attribute this first body part donation to my stepfather. As I remember he was always suggesting I be quiet, and the gods have big ears so I’ve heard, so he got his way. Fortunately for all of us he moved on, or was nudged on his way, three years later and Mother and I found ourselves on our own. For me it was Independence Day. There was no love lost between my stepfather and I, and whether my mother realized it or not at the time or not his being out of our lives was a breath of fresh air in her lungs as well. Kids grow up fast, in my experience, when their parents get dysfunctional. Sometimes we can see the clearer picture at our tender age, better than they can because they’re all wrapped up in the drama. Certainly I have been dysfunctional more than once in my life, and I’m sure my children’s therapists have benefited well from my missteps.

Other than losing my wisdom teeth around eighteen there was a blissful hiatus in the migration of my body parts until I was 24, married, and wrangling two toddlers. Along with two of my husband’s brothers and their families, we had gotten away for a camping trip in glorious Rosarita Beach, in Baja, Mexico. What a lovely spot to forget your problems. Gorgeous sandy beaches, fresh sea air, and margaritas at sunset. Lovely. While there I began feeling a bit under the weather. As the weekend passed my symptoms became more pronounced. Not the best timing. Though I’m sure their hospitals would have taken good care of me, it was a long drive for a family visit should I have to be admitted. Deciding our best option was to head home, we returned the following day. Monday I went back to work, still feeling far less than on top of my game. Around noon a co-worker found me in the ladies room in distress. Somehow I drove myself to Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles where my husband worked. Unbeknownst to me I had begun to bleed profusely from a nearly ruptured ovarian cyst. Arriving in the E.R. where my husband had already checked me in I was quickly ushered into an examining room. Five serious faces stood over me discussing my body like I was a prize ham at auction. Within a half an hour I had signed a paper allowing them to remove everything from my right ear lobe to left butt cheek. Apparently this was exploratory surgery which meant they were going to gain access to your innermost selfness. Swell. Hours later I woke up in the recovery room lighter by one ovary. They told me I had an angel on my shoulder (I knew it!) because had I waited another 24 hours the cyst might have ruptured and we might not have been having this conversation. K. Back then there wasn’t laser surgery where they just drilled a little hole and vacuumed the offending organ out of you. Oh no. They honed their cutting skills on your skin. When I finally saw the incision it looked like a long smiley face below my belly button about three inches. They called it a “bikini line”. Looked more like a clothesline. The opening was secured with what looked like chips clips which were apparently the only defense between my insides oozing out to the outside. Ewwwww.

Once I had been checked out thoroughly in the recovery room a nurse came to take me to the surgical ward for a few days. By that time the discomfort had reached my brain and though still groggy I found myself able to enunciate, PAIN MEDS!!!!! In my new bed, I came up out of my drug induced fog enough to notice another bed in the room, unoccupied. Yay. No witness to observe the sniveling and whining I was sure I was going to be doing. That first day after major surgery is always a blur. Nurses and doctors flow in and out in a haze hanging bags of fluid on the tree growing out of the floor next to you, monitors beeping and blinking, and your mind willing the hours away until the pain backs off and you are home in your own bed. Somewhere later in the day a very large lady was wheeled in and deposited in the bed on the other side of the room. We didn’t exchange pleasantries because, a) my fuzzy tongue couldn’t gather enough energy to form words, and b) there was nothing pleasant about being in that situation. Blissfully sleep consumed most of my time. My mother’s face hovered over me a time or two, as did my husbands. He told me later I told him “Run, save yourself. The ants are coming. Take care of the children”.

Later that night a voice permeated my dream state. “Lady”, it said. “Yes”, my mind answered. Annoyingly, the voice kept coming in with the same message. “WHAT”, said my mind sending a message to my eyes to open. “Are the ants here”? Blurrily canvasing the room I could see the lady in the other bed waving at me. Really? Now we’re exchanging greetings? Somewhere in the fog I heard her say I needed to get the nurse. Now, the absurdity of that statement even in my condition did not miss it’s mark. I couldn’t even get out of the bed to relieve myself and this woman wanted to me to get the nurse? Not happening, no matter how many times you wave at me. Then she screamed. Okay, okay. The “nurse button” they had given me had fallen to the side of the bed. I reached with my hand trying to locate the cord without inducing any of the pain associated with any movement of my nether regions. Ow. Finally I found it and summoned enough energy to depress the button. Shortly the room was a bee hive of energy. People were moving in and out, words were flying, and the bed lady was in full voice yelling the top of her lungs. Help. Drifting back into my fog, a while later I thought I heard a baby cry. “Hi baby”. The following morning a nurse came in to change my IV drip. Relating a bit of my dream to her as best I was able, she told me the lady in the other bed had delivered a healthy baby boy about 3 a.m. Apparently she was scheduled for a C-section early in the morning but the baby decided to go ahead and make an early exit the normal way. Wow. She thanked me for pushing the nurse button. “Did I”? Wow. Later that day a small bouquet showed up on my tray table with a note reading, “Thanks for the help. Baby Boy Dalton”. Awwww, you’re welcome.

Had I stopped at that marriage, I might still be intact. Some lessons are harder learned than others but I was glad to help a little one on his way.

Have a great Saturday. Two vaccinations down, I am happy to say I am finally done and ready to greet the world again.

Ladies, have you looked at the clothes showing up on the racks in the stores for spring? Good Lord. There were a lot of blowsy cuts, I noticed. Most probably this is due to the added girth most if us have welcomed aboard since the pandemic started, and the designers wanted to leave room for the spreadage (I know that isn’t a word, but I like it). They are showing a lot of cottony ruffled bordered numbers with small prints. I call them “The Laura Ingalls Wilder Collection”. On a small framed person like myself with long thin legs these sort of dresses look like a tea cozy draped over a pair of chopsticks. Ach. Not that I need any clothes, mind you. The pandemic has given me ample opportunity for doing a little shopping on line. Next week, I have promised myself I’m going to begin the process of sorting and eliminating items either never wear or simply don’t like, and selling them or tossing them in the donate bin.

One year when living in my old house, I purged my closets and drawers making enough off what I sold to cover redoing my deck. It’s surprising how much fat is tucked away in drawers, storage units, sheds and closets. When I pared down my mother’s things after moving her into assisted living, I could not believe what I found. In one zippered hanging bag I found a mink stole with two minks still clinging to it. Their expressions were as horrified as mine was. Ach. Glad you don’t see much of that anymore. Amazingly, that coat sold for over a hundred dollars to someone who wanted it for a Halloween costume. I have a friend who has supported two storage units for ten years. The units are full of stuff she never uses or even looks at. At over $200 a month that adds up. When I was selling my last house, I packed up one half of what was in it in anticipation of moving. During the six months it took to get the house ready for sale, and sell it, I never missed one thing packed away in those boxes. That spoke volumes to me. When I moved in here to a much smaller space, I immediately had a huge yard sale relieving myself of half of what I’d stored. What didn’t sell, I donated. The sale provided me with a little mad money for my new digs, while lightening my load. Sadly, since then, the inevitable migration of new belongings has begun once again and is starting to encroach on my territory. Where I had tons of storage space after unloading my excess household goods, somehow I have managed to refill the gaps with new stuff I didn’t need. Sigh.

It has been my week in the universe it seems for buying things. First, my land line started making a sound like I was squishing tin foil while speaking on it. Normally, I would defer to my cell phone, but it’s not working either. I finally located the “phone guy” at the “phone store” and he reconfirmed my cell phone was terminal and it was time to put it out of it’s misery. Swell. Sooooo, I upgraded two models. Even at that, the model I chose was probably obsolete by the time I signed the credit card receipt. I was told it was $50 down plus monthly payments. Okie. When I got the credit card receipt it read $100. When I asked about the discrepancy, I was told the extra $50 was for taxes, processing, shipping, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The et ceteras will get you every time. Why don’t they say $100 down? They don’t, because you probably wouldn’t buy the phone. Precisely the same reason they post signs for $19.99 rather than $20.00. Sounds so much less but that penny isn’t going to buy you much. I said fine. What is one to do? At any rate, it’s on it’s way. Meanwhile, I am sending up smoke signals in the front yard if I need to get a message to someone. Next, I called my phone provider to inquire about my land line. The representative at the phone company said it was probably a line problem. If it is a line problem, they pay for it. If not, the customer does. (That would be me.) I could sign up for a maintenance agreement for a mere blah blah blah monthly. Could I? Ahhhhh, I miss the good old days when you went to the phone company and picked out a phone, took it home, plugged it in, and if anything went wrong they either sent a repairman or gave you a new phone. Life was good. The more complicated the technology, the more expensive either the repair or replacement becomes. The rep also said to check the line they would have to shut down my phones which most likely would result in the need to reset all my TV’s, computers etc. connected to the phone line. I’m pretty sure that is a nightmare waiting to happen. Guess I can tolerate a little tinfoil for a bit.

Putting the phone situation to bed, I sat down at my laptop. I was told recently it’s lifetime is also getting shorter, and I would have to invest in a new one within the next year or so. Okie. The sound system has suddenly developed a hiccough where it comes and goes at random. Each week I have a Zoom meeting and this week I missed easily half of it. The other participants were tiring of me saying “could you repeat that please”. Sorry. Do you suppose the angels are sending me a message? That’s what someone suggested to me. Who am I to say? It is odd every one of my electronic devices is having sound problems. Maybe I’m supposed to be hearing something I’m missing? If so, I’M LISTENING. Oh, too loud? I’m listening.

I also spent some sleepless nights (no pun intended) agonizing over whether to dish out some cold cash for a new bed, finally caving (because I was literally) I dug out my credit card and wiped off the mold. Ouch. Rick and I bought this bed when we were first together. The mattress has never been replaced and Boo and I are having trouble finding our happy place at night to drift off to sleep. It’s a California King, which is a lot of bed for one small human and a chubby feline. Also, my bedroom is too small for a bed of this size so I had to push it against one wall to make it work. I am worn out doing my aerobics routine every week in order to change the sheets. There is an odd sadness in me at the thought of seeing the bed go out the front door. Another piece of the puzzle of my old life being replaced by something new, but it feels right. Some nights I feel as if I am sinking into the great abyss when I turn over on my side, and my back is starting to complain when I have to climb out of it in the morning. Time for a change. I asked if the delivery guys would take the old mattress. I was told they would if it had no stains and was in a bag. A bag? What, I have to wrap it? Is one of them having a birthday? Someone should have told me. I don’t think I have any tissue that size. Determining there were no stains, I went to Amazon. God bless good old Amazon. I believe if I searched for flea powder specific to Koala bears, I would find it on Prime. Finding what I needed, I ordered the appropriate bags. I suppose I could have opted to take it to the dump myself but I don’t think it would have squeezed into the back seat of my Fusion. The problem with buying a smaller bed, I bought a queen, is now I have gorgeous sheets and linens that don’t fit the new bed. Again, dusting off my credit card, I purchased all the accoutrements necessary for a queen size bed and signed my life away. Ah well. It’s going to be great. That’s me, telling me, I’m okay.

Update, my new phone just showed up on my front porch. The phone rep spent some time relating explicit instructions in so far that they would not deliver the phone due to it’s value (I have paid less for cars), if I wasn’t here to sign for it. Yet, miracle of miracles, there it was sitting on my front porch ripe for picking. Glad I was home. I would have been seriously irritated to find a notice of delivery in my email with no phone in sight. Also, I paid extra to have it delivered quickly, so there’s that.

Sometimes life keeps sending messages your way and you have to clean the wax out of your ears to catch them. What the messages are in this case, I have no single clue, but I am listening intently. I don’t mean to be impolite, but I wish they would speak up. I had my hearing checked recently and the results weren’t pretty. Years of earphones jammed in my ears transcribing letters, apparently did not serve me well. It’s not like I’m deaf, but certain tones are definitely fading. I have one dear friend who is in the habit of beginning what she is saying in a loud and clear voice, then dropping down to what I call her “conspiratorial tone” at the end of her sentences. I always find myself looking around in case the FBI is in the vicinity and we’re under surveillance. We have had discussions about this, because I find myself saying “pardon me” on a fairly regular basis with her, but it’s pretty much embedded in her behavior patterns at this point. She’s a generous word sharer like myself, so like Rick used to say when I was chatting away in the car, “if I miss a word or two, the earth is not going to stop rotating”. Thank you Sweetie.

Tomorrow, I get my second Covid vaccination. I hope it is kinder to me than the first, which created two rough days of symptoms before easing up. In two weeks I can hug my grandchildren, so I will show up for the appointment and deal with whatever comes with it. Yay.

People are having mask burning parties. I’m a little more cautious. It still surprises me we continue to make mask wearing a political issue rather than a medical issue. You’d think they were asking us to pull on a suit if armor before leaving the house rather a small piece of fabric. I just roll with the waves these days. This will pass and life will return to normal, or whatever normal is.

Have a great Sunday. Beautiful here so definitely a walk in my future. Thank you again for signing up and for those of you who tune in regularly.

As I mentioned several posts back I’ve embarked on a new relationship. I was neither looking for one, nor really prepared for one, when one knocked on my door. Life really does consist of the times events are actually happening, and the gaps in between when you are waiting for events to happen.

I have a single friend who said to me the other day. “You are lucky to have found someone. I have been looking for ten years without any decent nibbles. Most men our age want younger women.” She then quoted an old saying, so not true, about women over forty being less likely to get married than than being killed by terrorists. What an awful, and totally sexist, statement. It surprised me it was coming from female lips. The problem is, I think, a lot of women have swallowed that hook. It implies, in short, women have less value after a certain age. I could not disagree more, and this not because I rank among their numbers. Most of the wisdom I have gained over the years has been handed down to me from women far senior to myself. Women who have already immersed themselves in their lives, dived in and tested the waters along the way, and in many cases made the current smoother for the ladies coming up behind them. When I was twenty there is no denying my skin was pristine, my eyes shinier, my body tighter and my bones more agile but I didn’t know a donut from a hot rock when it came to living my life. I also don’t feel “lucky” to have found someone. I feel am a lady with something to offer who is deserving of sharing time with someone who treats me well. Conversely, in defense of the gentlemen, I don’t like when I hear ladies say, “all the good men are already taken” when speaking of older men in the dating pool. Like everything from picking the best apples in the barrel to deciding what house to live in or where to invest your money, you have to sort through some unsuitable choices before deciding on ones which fits your needs best.

My new partner and I share a lot of similar beliefs, including a like spiritual path and similar political leanings. Both of us also lean toward silly, which I really enjoy. Someone too serious about life would never fit in well with my personality or lifestyle. I believe the younger version of myself concentrated more on surface attraction rather than delving into common interests or goals. One thing paramount to me at this time in my life, is peaceful coexistence. I have participated in my share of contentious relationships. Looking back on these pairings, I consider them a learning curve. From each union, I took with me newly gained knowledge about what I was willing to allow in a relationship and what I was not, what fit and what didn’t. These were not lessons I always learned on the first go round, I’m nothing if not hard headed, but eventually even my hard head was able to absorb what was and what was not productive to helping me flourish.

Trust is not a strong suit of mine. People are disappointing, and the people in my life sometimes couldn’t or wouldn’t keep my trust as promised. Lessons can be both negative and positive. I have found that each negative stone I have loaded into my personal baggage was best dealt with then left by the wayside. If I continued to harbor them, the burden became too weighty to carry on with lightness in my step. By the time we have achieved a certain age, most of us have pasts to contend with. Some people, of course, are more fortunate. Couples, for example, who meet their perfect match in high school, bear and raise lovely children with them, and usher in the unknowns of old age hand in hand rank among the luckiest in my book. For many of us, this is not the story we will tell. Being open to new love means leaving old wounds behind and embracing what is happening now.

One thing I know for sure, marriage is definitely not in my future. I have already run that flag up the flagpole and now am focused more on a companion or partner without benefit of shared paperwork. I used to think I had one ceremony, one partner in my future. I was young and the world seemed wide open in front of me with all the possibilities it has to offer. When I said “I do” the first time I thought that would be the last but certainly that was not to be. Each person creates their own story line. My grandmother had one love. When my grandfather died before his time, she chose to remain alone for the next thirty-five years. Conversely, my mother remarried for the fourth time in her eighties and was blissfully happy for ten years. Our perspectives and dreams have to morph and reshape as life transpires. Three years ago I did not imagine my world without Rick, yet here it is, and here I am.

So, I embark on a new adventure. I am open to exploring how this new piece of my quilt blends in with those already sewn in place . For me it is important to avoid comparisons, for that can be both self-defeating and frustrating. This is a new chapter not a continuation of the previous one and should be given its own consideration. I look forward to seeing what lies around the next bend in the road.

Have a lovely weekend. I have my corned beef in the fridge waiting to hop in the pot with the carrots and red potatoes. I am celebrating St. Patty’s Day a bit early this year as I get my second Covid shot on Monday and don’t know what to expect as a result.

Purple reign…..

Last night I tuned in the Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Meagan Markle. I’m not normally a “royal watcher” but have admit I was curious as to the particulars of why the glamorous couple dropped out of the royal circle. The royal family was an integral piece of my fabric, at least for the first nine years I existed on the planet. Growing up in Canada, the Queen was part of my everyday life. At school we pledged our allegiance to the Queen and at hockey games we all joined our voices to sing “God save our gracious queen”.

British roots run deep all over the world. I remember Rick speaking about his grandmother, a British expatriate married to his maternal grandfather, an Egyptian. Though she had taken up residence in Egypt and assumed Egyptian citizenship, by all rights she was still British to the core. Tea was served every day precisely at four, and all news of the royal family was consumed by her like a piece of ripe cheddar discovered by a hungry mouse. Rick told me when he was in high school his grandmother wanted him to sport a quiff just like Prince Charles. For those of you not up on your quiffs, a quiff is described in the dictionary as a piece of hair, especially on a man, brushed upward and backward from the forehead of British origin. There you go, a new piece of information you really didn’t need to have. Rick, more influenced by what was going on in the U.S. at the time, told me the Prince Charles quiff never materialized because he leaned more towards James Dean. Looking at the pictures of both the prince and the actor, I don’t see much deviation, speaking to the hair only. Just saying.

It is difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff in the prolific amount of royal gossip floating about. God knows there are more than enough wild accusations to go around. When Prince Harry speaks of what the press did to his mother’s life, it takes me back to my trip to England. While there we visited Harrod’s. Harrod’s is the outrageously expensive department store, even by London standards, at the time owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed, the father of Dodi Al-Fayed. Dodi was both in the car and in a romantic relationship with the princess at the time of the car accident in which they both perished. On the ground floor of the store is a statue and a candle-lit shrine to honor the couple. The food court there was one of the highlights of the trip for this foodie with the most gorgeous displays of edible products I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. If you ever get there be sure to add this to your to-do list.

When we were done shopping (we bought a bar of soap for 15 pounds), we boarded one of the ubiquitous two tiered red buses seen all over the city and headed for the palace to watch the changing of the guards. Ever since listening to my grandmother read Buckingham Palace from A.A. Milne’s book of poems, When We Very Young, this was a spectacle I had wanted to see in person.

The palace itself did not disappoint. An enormous sprawling structure covering several blocks, wrapped tightly by a line of wrought iron fencing. The palace guards, like in Milne’s poem, stood a vigilant watch in the courtyard. Tourists could be seen easing close to them trying to tease a change of expression from their stoic faces. Never once did I see any of them so much as twitch a lip. The ceremony was full of pomp and circumstance, replete with golden horse drawn carriages and parades of synchronized palace guards. Though we looked in through the iron gating, we never got a glimpse of the Queen peeking back at us through the endless banks of windows. I’m sure tourists were not a new event in her life prompting much curiosity on her part.

Imagine being born into the purple, as they say, with a silver spoon proudly sticking out from your cupid bow lips. What a weight that must be. People view growing up in a royal family as some sort of Cinderella tale, but I have a feeling there are many dark sides to the titles and riches hidden behind those heavy brocade velvet curtains. Some people say we choose where we are to be born and to whom. That being true, I know I would never have chosen such a path for myself. My shackles go up if someone pokes through my mail, can only imagine how I’d respond to having paparazzi lurking about taking pictures of every move I made. Certainly it did not end well for Princess Diana. The poor princess was literally hounded to death.

Leaving the palace behind, we hailed a Bersey to take us to the Tower of London. They’re not called Bersey’s any more, Berseys were the original London cabs. All electric vehicles,”Berseys” got their name from Walter C. Bersey, the original designer. They were also nicknamed “hummingbirds” because of the sound the engines made when running being similar to a hummingbird’s wings. The cabs are black and all have sort of a vintage look to them. The cabbies, or so we found, were mostly chatty and full of information about what was passing beyond the windows and whatever destination was on our agenda. They had little guessing to do to discern we were not Londoners, as neither of us spoke like a native. Most probably all the attention to the tour guide portion of the program was directly related to the hope of receiving a good tip once we’d arrived.

In truth, though the palace was interesting to see, the Tower of London was my favorite of the historical attractions I visited while in London. Cold, dank, and creepy, like I imagined it would be, but far smaller than I had thought. Standing in it’s halls it was easy to picture a group of rowdy rough cut men seated at the rustic table in the main hall. Picture them laughing and talking while stuffing their faces with greasy hands holding huge turkey legs, that were washed down with generous cups of stout. I stood on the spot where Ann Boleyn was executed for treason next to a fence with a raven perched on it eyeing me like I was a fat little field mouse.The ravens, so it is prophesied, if ever deserting their posts at the Tower would signal the end of the Tower as well as Britain itself. A half dozen or so of the birds, wings clipped, are kept on the property at all times. I would assume “just in case”.

This growing rift in the British monarchy could prove a disastrous blow to the firm as they call it. The monarchy is a business and a very profitable business at that. Queen Elizabeth rates among the richest women in the world. How the British media shines a light on them is key to how successfully that business thrives. Every family has dirty laundry, it is left to them whether to keep it in the hamper or hang it on the line for the neighbors to see. These days I have many more pressing (a little laundry humor) things to worry about then whether the Prince of Wales is having a bad day, though I don’t wish the man ill.

None of us really know our neighbors. I wonder often if we ever really know even our closest allies. Unless you have actually lived in their bodies you can’t know what they feel, separate truth from fiction, or make a fair assessment of their character so better to leave judgement to someone more qualified. Life is hard, even for the privileged. Things get muddied and the karmic slate gets written on.

Have a safe day. Rain here and perhaps thunder. Love a good electrical storm.

Watching Governor Cuomo this morning on the news speaking to the charges against him levied by three women who felt he exhibited inappropriate behavior in their presence, I found myself thinking “some things never change”. At what point, if ever, are men going to get the idea that touching without permission or speaking of things of a deeply personal nature with a woman they are not in a personal relationship with is not okay. No matter your level of power you have achieved or how much money you have in your bank account, it is still not acceptable. Now, it remains to be seen if he is guilty. That I leave for whatever court or governing body designated to determine. It still amazes me he would place his career on the line to behave in such a manner. Is it arrogance, pure and simple? Entitlement, perhaps? Boggles the mind.

God knows over the years, I’ve been chased around a desk or two. In high school I won several awards in track for the 100 yard dash. If one of my associates back in the day was planning on chasing me, and hoping to be successful at it, he would have needed to strap on his running shoes to keep up with me.

Aside from the obvious more overt forms of harassment, another behavior that chapped my hide, hopefully changed by now, was being referred to as “honey”, “sweetie”, or my least favorite, “babe”, in the workplace. That used to make the hair on the back of my neck stand directly at attention. Nope, definitely not your babe. My mother gave me a perfectly good name, Susie, and unless we have a relationship beyond a working one, I would love you to use it. Also, don’t put your arm around me, do not place it on my knee, arm, shoulder, big toe or any other part of my being if you have not seen a definite green flag indicating I would enjoy that attention from you go up the flagpole on my end. I’m just saying. Imagine the looks on co-workers faces if a woman walked up to her supervisor or another male co-worker and called him “hon-bun” or “boo”.

When I was in my twenties I was employed as a secretary for a company manufacturing industrial sump pumps. The building was divided into two sections, the office and the warehouse. The latter was the much larger of the two. Every day, as part of my job description, I had to walk the entire length of the warehouse to pick up that days paperwork for me to process from the shipping and receiving department. Cannot tell you how much I hated that walk. The warehouse staff consisted largely of men. Among ourselves, the ladies who had business out there, referred to the walk to the shipping department as “walking the gauntlet”. If an attractive girl was in the area, whistles could be heard usually followed by wolf calls or comments about their bodies. In my case there was a young man in the welding department who had zeroed in on me. I had a man in my life and was not in the market for making a change. Every time I would pass this guy’s station he would hold up a welded metal sign decorated with hearts or bearing a statement such as “I heart you” hammered into it. This always prompted hoots and whistles from his co-workers. Ignoring it for months, and my suggestions he grow up or find another object for this affection proving unsuccessful, I finally went to my immediate supervisor, also male. After explaining the situation his response, “Boys will be boys. I’m sure it’s just playful kidding.”. Really? Thanks for the support. Back then, you didn’t report things like that. Most probably you would either have been labeled a trouble maker, or could even put your job in jeopardy.

I went on from that job to working as an Executive Assistant to the manager of a plant manufacturing aluminum cans. I would have been in my late twenties at the time, my boss just approaching his fortieth birthday and his first mid-life crisis. My job was to support him in all business related matters of a secretarial nature involving plant operations. I felt more like a work-wife. Many of my days were spent having his car washed, picking up his laundry at the dry cleaners, and on several occasions I even picked up his children after school when their nanny was unavailable or took his poodle to the groomer. Aside from being incredibly clueless when it came to employee/supervisor boundaries, the man had a serious drinking problem. Every Friday we had a staff meeting after lunch which he chaired. Friday was also the occasion of many three martini lunches with his managers from which he generally returned well liquified. My instructions were to have a pot of strong coffee on the hot plate in the conference room for him to avail himself of immediately when he came back to the office. At one meeting he came in totally inebriated. Weaving toward his chair, he sat in it, lit a cigarette (everybody smoked then), took a sip of his coffee, leaned back and completely flipped over. Lying there with his feet in the air he announced, “meeting over”. Ya think? Seriously, they did not pay me well enough for that.

The first year, I only lasted one, I was there he announced he was taking me to Charlie Brown’s for Secretary’s Day. Oh boy. Charlie Brown’s was a fairly high-end steak house chain popular back in the day. Before we even were seated, his first martini had made the cut. I suggested ordering right away as the place was very popular and he had driven me there and I didn’t want him drunk driving me back. Another martini hit the runway before the salad had arrived. On his third, he excused himself to find the men’s room. Coming back to the table, he went to sit down and missed the chair entirely ending up on the floor. I believe I had already seen this movie. The waiter helping him to his chair, raised his eyebrows in my direction. What, he’s not mine? Next he launched the trite (I know it’s tried. Like mine better.) and true “my wife doesn’t understand me” speech during the entree while downing one more for the road. Now, I knew his wife, she was around the same age I was and resembled Cheryl Ladd. They had two beautiful little girls, a gorgeous home with a pool, and a vacation home in Maui. Yet, here he was settling neatly into a cliche situation with his secretary. Hated to break it to him, but I didn’t understand him either. This brings to mind the old expression “don’t poop where you eat” (politely put). I excused myself when the slurred speech began, and called a cab leaving him seated at the table. The very next day I polished up my resume and began looking for another job. I already had two children at home thank you very much.

There were many other times when men at my job said or did things that today would be considered not PC. I am a big girl and well able to handle myself in most situations but it doesn’t mean I don’t find them offensive or annoying. With two children dependent on me to put food on the table it wasn’t always expeditious to open my mouth and place my job on the line, even if it was the right thing to do.

Rick told me once that before he came to the United States to go to college (he was born and raised in Cairo), his grandfather told him to understand that this is a country of extremes. We tend to lean far to the right and then swing far to the left. Probably some truth in that. Not everything is offensive or politically incorrect, I don’t believe. Saying that a woman looks nice, for example, does not imply to me anything disrespectful in the least. Some women feel differently. Again, this is why we all have brains, to form opinions (hopefully somewhat educated) and exchange ideas, often opposing.

Another topic coming up quite frequently lately with PC stamped right on it’s library card is books. Certain books are being banned or pulled from libraries or required reading lists because their content might be considered questionable in the combustible climate we are living in of late. I’m on the fence on this one. Books are a true passion of mine. Truly, I would feel naked without a book on my nightstand with a bookmark peeking out one end. One of my favorite books of all times, To Kill a Mockingbird, is being censored in some circles as racially inappropriate. Certainly for those who have read it, the story line is tightly woven around racism. However, in fairness to the writer, racial inequality in Alabama during the Great Depression, was not an unfamiliar scenario. You cannot rewrite what was, but perhaps you can explain to readers now, that this is what the hope for change is all about going forward.

So much to think about on a gorgeous Thursday morning. Thankfully a little rain is headed our way here in Northern California. We surely need it. Another dry year does not bode well for our fire season.

Have a glorious weekend. I am headed out for a walk before hitting my workload.

Before I go to bed, I make a habit of making sure my sink is empty and my house is picked up. Since I live alone, this ritual may seem unnecessary. Let’s face it Boo, the Queen of Cats, certainly doesn’t give a rats behind (a little cat humor) whether I’ve left a nasty old avocado dish to ferment on the counter or discarded a pair of pants on the floor by my bed. My daughter asked me why I’m so diligent about this ritual. “Who’s going to see it”, she asks? I explained, should I face a health challenge in the middle of the night and find myself in need of rescue, I don’t want one of those ridiculously attractive fireman looking around my house as he’s checking my blood pressure and labeling me a total slob. Have you seen the paramedics they send to your house if you dial 911? Perfect specimens of men standing over you when you look absolutely your worst. Hair hanging in your face, teeth in the jar, and vomit on your shirt. Even Christie Brinkley couldn’t carry that look off. The last time I had need of EMT’s, they sent six. Must have been a slow night. As they walked in the door, each one was (if possible) better looking than last. I wonder if there’s a section on the application for the fire department that says, Check here if you’re hot. If this box is not checked please return application to front desk. We’ll be in touch. Not.

Another reason to keep things tidy is in the event I might not make it, I wouldn’t want people rummaging through my belongings exchanging comments like “Wow, how ever did she live like this?”, or “my pygmy hog has better hygiene.” Nope, clean sinks and underwear all the way for me, just like my grandma told me.

I come to this line of thinking because the weather lately has turned almost springlike. Glorious balmy days have prompted me to get outside and walk every morning. Each day, I vary my route. One, because I get bored easily, and two to provide myself with a different level of cardio depending on the uphill climbs along the way. Yesterday, I opted for a route I had not taken before. Because my shin splints are acting up, I decided to take a less strenuous stroll along the ravine. The sidewalk wound me past a house situated on a cliff about a half a mile from where I live. As the years have passed, I’ve noticed this house sink into a state of shabby disrepair. It’s a shame really, because the lot itself is perched high on an overlook, most likely providing the occupants a panoramic view of the valley floor below stretching all the way to the Sierra Nevadas. The house, though not going to make the next cover of House Beautiful, is not too bad. What curb appeal it does possess, however, is completely eclipsed by the massive accumulation of “junk” in the side yard, creating an eyesore. Beyond the dilapidated fence, which looks as if someone may have backed over it, the filthy roofs of several well-used trailers are clearly visible alongside piles of plywood and debris. I’m surprised somebody hasn’t complained, as the neighborhood around it is composed of well manicured homes bordering on all sides. Something must have happened recently, because as I approached, I could see a crew of workers dressed in what looked like haz-mat gear moving in and out of the front door carrying household items. A rusted toilet and a beat up aluminum sink sat by the mailbox next to a sign reading “FREE”. Trust me, from the looks of them they were still overcharging. Walking towards the house I could see one of the crew members leaning on a broom obviously taking a break. Nodding in my direction, he said,”good morning”. I returned his, “good morning” and raised him a “looks like you’ve got your hands full”. He seemed to view this statement as opening the door for further conversation. I stopped for a moment, and “Ben”, as he’d introduced himself launched into a tirade about the project at hand. Before I knew it, he was sharing an outpouring of information about the residents. The people inside he told me had been elderly. The husband passed away, and the family had fast forwarded the matriarch of the family to an assisted living facility. Apparently, there hadn’t been much contact between family members over the past few years. Describing in great detail the mess they were dealing with, he said the inside of the house was in deplorable condition. Eager to not leave out a detail, and perhaps not looking forward to returning to his job, he went on to say there had been multiple animals inside who had left deposits all over the floor and carpeting. The smell, as one might imagine, was unbelievably rank. The kitchen, he said, was the worst, literally buried under mountains of dishes covered with rotting food and flies which probably meant maggots. Ewwww. As he plowed on he told me all the toilets were clogged. The look on his face indicated he found the whole situation totally disgusting. Already gleaning more WAY more information than I needed. Keeping up my end of the conversation by nodding my head at the appropriate pauses, and saying “huh” and “hmmmm” when called for, I hesitated before inquiring as to where the residents had been going to the bathroom in the absence of usable toilets. Some things are better left to the imagination. Another crew member emerged from the house telling Ben they had uncovered roaches in every cupboard, and every box of food in the cupboard as well as several carcusses of dead mice. Thanking them for all the information I really hadn’t needed, I said my goodbyes and continued on down the road. Suddenly, I felt sad for those two people, though I didn’t know them at all. Ben had somehow had opened a window into their lives and I felt like I had peeked in uninvited. Walking gives you time to cogitate and clear your head. Unfortunately, my brain was now preoccupied with roaches and clogged toilets. Got me to thinking though. What would people be saying about me after I’m gone? “That Susie, she surely had a clean sink and her banana bread,well, it was absolutely out of this world.” Not sure I want to be a fly on the wall for that program, and I surely don’t want old Ben leaning on broom in front of my house.

Lately, I’ve been taking a little inventory of my life. Perhaps it’s that I have more time alone, or could simply be I’ve reached a place in my life where I’ve climbed to the top of the mountain and am now looking at what is to be found on the downhill side of the slope. Whatever it is that motivates me to do an assessment, it’s allowed me to take a long look at where I’ve been, and give some serious thought as to where I’m going. I don’t linger long in the past. It is part of the whole of me and has contributed to who I am as a person today, but as my therapist likes to say, “Don’t look in the rear view mirror. That is not the direction you are going.”After Rick passed, hard to believe it’s going on three years, I had only enough energy to look at the day I was in with little reserve left for the tomorrows around the bend. Grief cores you out in a way, and allows you to rebuild from the foundation up. Life is so much different now then it was. Not worse, nor is it better, it is just different. Change always precipitates thoughtfulness, at least it does in me. Now that there is a new relationship in my life, something I didn’t expect nor was I looking for, this is something to be factored into my future plans as well. Possibilities remain once our masks are retired for new and exciting adventures. Always there will be new challenges, but also there will be new adventures, and new things to learn and new people to learn them from, no matter what stage you are entering in your life. Today, I will simply be thankful for the day I have, the flowers blooming beyond my window, the wind in the trees, the crazy Boo cat curled up at my feet, and my loved ones. Those are my riches.

When I look at just the last year and what has transpired, I can’t help but think you never really know what is coming around the next corner. You might win the lottery, fall in a sink hole, discover a cure for cancer, find yourself surviving (hopefully) a pandemic of epic proportions, be in the middle of a massive winter storm in Texas, welcome a new life into the world, or send one on its way. Perhaps the most intriguing part of living is the unknowing. I realize that is probably not the correct word, but I think it is the appropriate one. We don’t know, yet we have hope, and prayer, and wishful thinking, and believing in whatever we believe in. The indomitable human spirit shines bright even on the darkest of nights. I’ve seen it refuse to be extinguished so many times, when I had trouble still believing it existed.

We lost another member of our tribe this week. I attended my first virtual service, A Celebration of Life. Though not there in the person, it was lovely. At the end they released doves into the air, so spiritually moving. You are here then you are gone, and the cycle of life continues. Pieces and parts of you remain, though, in each and every person you touched. Perhaps words will be my legacy. God knows, if anyone is waiting to inherit my fortune, they will be sorely disappointed, and need not to quit their day job anytime soon. So goodbye, dear Janice. See you on the other side. Thank you for the beautiful grandchildren you have left behind. I promise I will cherish them.

Heavy thoughts for a Friday. Have a wonderful weekend. Remember each day is a precious gift, don’t waste it making bad karma or doing hurtful things. Trust me it takes years to erase the board once it is written on.

Eeny, meeny, miney, no

Last week was crazy. It began with my iPhone 8 crashing and burning on Sunday. The systematic blow out began the week before when suddenly I could only hear when I had it on speaker. Next, I began to notice the phone wouldn’t hold a charge, this followed by Siri taking to dialing random numbers while I was talking, creating an incessant string of beeps in the background. Fearing the worst, I took it in to have a tech look at it. After examining the patient, his professional diagnosis was, “it’s toast”. This, I believe, is why these techs get paid the big bucks. Apparently the planned obsolescence had taken effect and money will needed to be paid to the phone gods to get me a new, more updated, more difficult to understand model. Yay.

On Monday I got in line for my first Covid shot. Got to tell you, it really took me down for a couple of days. Can’t remember being that tired. Getting from the couch to the bed felt like I had done the breast stroke from New York to London. Each and every muscle in my body ached, in particular those in my shoulders. Thank God for extra strength Tylenol.

Rallying mid week, my stamina caught up with me by Thursday, when I was to make a return trip to my beauty salon to have my stylist undo what she had done the week before. Normally, I am a blonde with darker blonde roots. I had asked to change this up a bit by adding more highlights. Instead, I ended up bright auburn with light blonde highlights. With my pinkish English skin tones it made me look like I’d been bobbing for French fries. Removing color, particularly red color, is a far more laborious process than putting it in. It took three trips to the shampoo bowl to restore me to my “natural” color. Though still not perfect, at least now I feel comfortable retiring the bag I’ve been wearing over my head since my previous visit. When I first entered the shop, I sensed a little attitude coming my direction from my stylist, which surprised me. Acknowledging it to myself, I decided to let it pass. The years have provided me with more than adequate armor when it comes to attitude, allowing me not to be the slightest bit intimidated by it. However, I also am not stupid. The woman was going to have her hands in my hair. Too much push back and I might end up with a mullet. Why the attitude had me confused. Her business is coloring hair. For that expertise, I dole out a lot of yankee dollars every six weeks. If it is not done correctly, it falls on her to make it right, not on me. I brought with me the original picture I’d shown her, to emphasize again how it should look. Showing the photo to her, she said that’s what she had done. Now, I didn’t like the color she had created, but I was never unpleasant or belligerent in any way. Nonetheless, I did expect the mistake to be corrected. When she told me that is what she had done, I have to admit I felt my blood pressure slightly take an uptick. Instead of losing my temper, I held the picture up to the mirror next to my reflection and said quietly, “Not a match. Not a match today, and tomorrow isn’t looking good either.” Let’s break it down. If her statement was true, than why am I wasting another morning sitting in her chair? Could it be the pandemic has left me so desperate for an outing, I fabricated a bad hair color so I could sit in a salon chair for two hours discussing the latest articles in People magazine? That’s it. She’s on to me. The attitude backed off as the morning progressed, but it had already hit it’s mark. Now I was pondering whether or not I wanted to keep my return appointment. Again, this goes back to something Rick and I emphasized with the servers in our restaurant. Even if a customer is unhappy or difficult (I’d like to think I was only the former) the goal in customer service is to have them leave satisfied. Can’t always be accomplished, but an effort should be made. There is are two “wins” in having a customer leave satisfied. One, they will likely come back, and two, they will tell their friends to frequent your establishment. One dissatisfied customer can spread a negative experience to their friends and family who, in turn, will most likely spread it around to their circle of acquaintances. In the end she did a good job fixing the color, but I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I’ll be using her services the next time I need a hairdresser.

Feeling comfortable being seen in public again, there were few places to go to be seen. When Friday rolled around it was a rainy, rather dismal sort of end to the week. To keep myself occupied, I had projects planned for most of the day. Not that I would have hesitated to go outside, I love walking in the rain. Truth be told, I thoroughly enjoy a little weather, so no complaints here. We need a lot more rain than is in the forecast. Makes me happy to see something going in the bucket. It also seemed to me complaining about a dusting of rain seemed inappropriate with residents of Texas dealing with the extreme weather in their neck if the woods. People down there without power, pipes breaking in their homes, food shortages or potable drinking water. Hard to believe in the United States of America people are having to boil water. Once again, a huge electric company fails to meet up to its customers needs. Here in California, this is not a headline we are unfamiliar with PG&E’s history of negligence and poor management. Considering what we pay for our power, and how often we are unable to avail ourselves of it, we should be far angrier than we are.

The first project I had in mind was to assemble a cabinet I had ordered for my spare room. I mentioned in my previous blog it was delivered to the wrong house. The delivery driver notified me via text including a picture of the porch with the package by the door. All good, but it wasn’t my porch. After a call to their customer service line, it finally somehow got delivered to mine. One more room in this little house would have served me well. My spare bedroom has reached it’s full capacity load. If this cabinet doesn’t fix the problem, I’m considering hanging macrame hammocks from the ceiling and using them for extra storage.

After opening the box, I neatly laid the parts out on the floor next to the instructions and the package containing the hardware. They had mixed all the screws up (screw up being all you need to extract from that statement), and there were a lot of them to sort through of similar but slightly different sizes. Someone in corporate was saving a few cents on little plastic bags the week this was shipped would be my suspicion. Remind me to drop the purchasing department a thank you note. Thankfully, each piece was accounted for according to the diagram provided by the manufacturer. As to the diagram, the kudos were less forthcoming. Hand drawn in pen and ink, it looked as though it was done at a third graders desk by the third grader seated at it. Good Lord. The artist hadn’t even bothered to use a straight edge so the lines looked like slithering snakes. Even before locating the first screw to twist in I knew as things progressed I was going to get irritated. They had placed lettered circles on each piece to so that you could match the piece to the diagram. Yup, good plan. Like it. Like it a lot. Unfortunately, the letters in between D-J were in the bottom of the box and not sticking to any of the wood. The ones with the missing letters were all square pieces and looked one very much like the other. Step 4 – Eeny, meeny, miney, mo (this step was written in Crayon). Also, some of the pieces had grooves in them and there were no grooves visible in the diagrams indicating which way they went together. Are we having fun yet? Two hours later and very much swearing released into the air, I got the top half assembled only to find out one of the pieces missing a letter was in the wrong position. Insert more swearing here. So, I disassembled the unit and threw it under a passing garbage truck. I did not, but I did think about it. Finally, I got the unit together and in spite of how annoyed I was, it looked great. Yay. I am nothing if not tenacious. Rick used to say I was the most hard headed woman he’d ever known, and I’m sure there is some truth to that statement. Once I put my mind to doing something, I am definitely going to give it my very best effort. That was me, giving myself a large pat on the back for a job well done. What? The cat’s not going to do it. I asked her, and she said no.

With Covid keeping us isolated much more than in previous years, you have to learn to buoy your own self up. There aren’t the support systems in place we had before the virus separated us. I have learned to say, sometimes right out loud, “good job, Sus”, or “hey girl, you are looking particularly fabulous and pulled together today”.

There is something so satisfying about finishing something you have started. Tightening that last screw on a swing set for an excited toddler, typing “the end” on the final page of a completed manuscript, or turning in a long agonized over college thesis. Seeing a project through to its conclusion leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment and deep personal satisfaction. I know for myself if I walk away too soon leaving something unfinished without giving it my best shot it leaves me feeling unfinished as well. My grandmother, a woman I mention often, taught me young not to bother starting something without the intention of seeing it through to the end. She was a big proponent of the old “a job well done”philosophy.

So, in spite of having depleted a large portion of my stash of emergency expletives, I stuck it out, and my new shelf looks great in my spare room. Yay. Have a special and productive day and stay safe.

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