Monday night, along with many other diehard 49er’s fans, I could be found seated in front of the TV, dinner before me, waiting to see my team make mulch out of the Seattle Seahawks. What a roller coaster of a game. After a valiant effort by our guys making for many heart accelerating moments, it culminated in an overtime win for the Seahawks. Our last chance at success went down in flames with an unfortunate kick by a rookie for whom, if his face was any indication, it came as far more of a disappointment than for any of the fans tuning in. I can only imagine the pressure he was under. Not speaking from experience I would guess you have to develop a hard shell as a major team player. What is the expression floating around, “from a hero to a zero in seconds”. Hopefully, he can dust this off and move forward without too much self flagellation. There are always going to bad days tossed in with the good. Happens to me every week. One day everything I touch is golden and the next morning, same person, same life, I start my day with my coffee pot having overflowed all over my kitchen counter. It’s a crap shoot, and sometimes you just get crap.

Sports are not really my bailiwick. Football and figure skating are the only two competitive events that can actually hold my interest. When going down the assembly line I was endowed with certain artistic gifts during my creation, but I seemed to have taken a jog off to the right after that totally missing the athletic ability department. Aside from being an avid swimmer and a passable tennis player I have never won a medal in my life except for one for winning a cake walk in fourth grade. For a chubby little girl this was not a stretch. Abysmal at most team sports, I was embued with the coordination of a newborn giraffe. In high school I took off half the skin on my face on the burlap mat in tumbling attempting to do a handspring, had my big toe smashed by an exceptionally large forward in basketball, and suffered both a broken nose and a concussion while participating in softball. Not one to ignore omens, I believe these were messages I needed to pay attention to. Wisely I was placed with a family who put more emphasis on academics than physical prowess allowing me the opportunity to flourish at something.

Because of this, I tended to steer clear of men who were overtly involved in sports. However, an exception or two was made over the years. In my late twenties I was engaged to a man who was an amazing water skier. He took me under his wing and after many, and I can’t emphasize the word many strongly enough, attempts at teaching me I actually got fairly good at it by the time we went our separate ways. The first time I ever skied with him and several members of his family he neglected to mention they had all come down the birth canal on a slalum ski, his cousin being the current national barefoot skiing champion at the time. So, I sat in the boat paralyzed watching each of them in turn glide and maneuver expertly over the glistening water, one without benefit of skis. When it was my turn to slip my feet into the rubber footholds I could only imagine the spectacle I was about to make of myself and I did not disappoint. Though I was a lightweight, getting me up out of the water was like trying to pull a hiker out of a bed of quicksand. It didn’t help that the first two times the boat lurched forward I forgot to stand up. Knees bent, the momentum of the boat dragged me along just beneath the surface. Afraid to release the rope, I remained submerged until the boat finally stopped after I’d consumed enough water to reduce the lake level by two feet. Nice.

My second husband was competitive to the bone. Any sport, any time was his motto. If two people were fighting on a street corner he’d stop to watch to see who win. His TV viewing pleasures ranged from sumo wrestling to curling. Though I’m Canadian, curling to my mind should be considered more of a household chore than an actual sporting event. Basically it’s competitive floor sweeping on ice. Some sports like curling I just can’t watch on TV along with baseball and tennis unless I need a nap. With a tennis match, aside from the endless annoying grunting as racquet meets ball, my neck gets a crick moving side to side after watching about ten minutes of competition.

My son, oddly enough, is very athletic. As a little boy he was an ace soccer player which carried through until he hit middle school when baseball caught his eye. He didn’t get his growth spurt until his junior year in high school, so even though he longed to be the star of the football field his lack of stature didn’t make him well suited for the game. Not one to take no for an answer he went out for the team in his sophomore year. By means of support my daughter and I were seated in the stands at his first game ready to cheer him on to victory. The team merged on the field and I can remember turning to my daughter and commenting on the player towards the back who appeared to be half the size of the others. After consulting the program for a moment she pointed out that player was my son. As a mother you want to go down on the field and whisk your child away before he is pulverized but the humiliation of such an act in high school would literally have been social suicide. Thankfully, he only played the fifth quarter and never got hurt.

I’m not particularly fond of the new rules in children’s athletics. Everybody gets a trophy no matter what the effort or skill level. I do believe all children should participate fully but don’t know if it’s a good life lesson to be rewarded for something you didn’t achieve. As an adult there is always going to be someone smarter, taller, prettier, more skilled or more successful than yourself. If you grow up feeling you are entitled to be promoted say, whether you’ve earned it or not, this could lead to some really difficult lessons later in life.

As a kid I lived in Nova Scotia. Winters were cold there, sometimes brutal. When the first snow blanketed the land I waited impatiently for the all clear from my adults to pull on my snowsuit, mittens and hat and get outside sled or toboggan in hand. The frog pond, as we called it, in Point Pleasant Park would begin the process of freezing over, and once solid I was allowed to retrieve my ice skates hanging on the hook in the basement and spend the afternoon sailing across the ice with other kids from the neighborhood. Back then we did so many things without adult participation. In the summer, at the same pond, I would gather polywogs and float my sailboat. Makes me sad for kids today who will never know that kind of giddy freedom we were fortunate enough to have had as children.

Now that I am getting older sports aren’t an integral part of my life, other than walking which I do 45 minutes of religiously every day. Again, I am promising myself I will sign up at the local gym and begin asking more of my body. Somehow life, and my own lack of enthusiasm for organized exercise, keep getting in the way of me actually following through with this. Before the end of the year I need to make it happen or it will be sitting with the rest of my unresolved issues on my New Year’s resolutions list.





Sound Off, One, Two..

Struggling to find my joy again after losing Rick, my significant other and soulmate, has definitely been an uphill battle. It’s not I don’t laugh or enjoy myself while doing an activity or sharing time with friends and family, I do. Rather it’s an abiding emptiness, which persists deep inside me bubbling up unexpectedly from time to time leaving me feeling vulnerable and alone.

There are sometimes multiple endings following the death of a spouse. In this day and age where blended families are more the norm than the exception, often step families drift off after a death absorbed back into their own tribes. Even if you felt the bonds were strong people have a tendency to go with their own leaving behind frayed ends and unfinished beginnings. As this situation has occurred for me on more than one occasion in my life I speak with some experience on the subject. So your life shifts and morphs before your eyes like the lens of a kaleidoscope making it difficult to recognize or find a familiar comfortable place to be. This leaving you to mourn not only the person who has passed on but the peripheral beings now missing in your world as well.

I am always spouting “if you don’t like your life, change it”. I am not a proponent of whining, even though I do give in to it from time to time. My philosophy is if something hits you hard go down for a day or two, then stand up, dust yourself off, stick your chin out and keep on going. Sometimes this is easier said than done. My mother used to say I’m like one of those inflatable clowns with the sand weighting the bottom. You can smack me down but I will always pop up again. I’m counting on that particular trait to see me through this as well.

The holidays are coming up. For people suffering a loss, not having their loved ones with them on special occasions can prove doubly taxing. Memories of holidays past begin to surface and the realization their old life is gone forever becomes more clear. I speak of this because I just celebrated my second birthday without Rick. This one was filled with friends and family and good vibes reminding me of how far I have come since his passing. There’s something about another year going by that always shakes things loose things in my mind. I begin to examine what I have done with these 365 days now used and discarded and what I plan to do with the 365 clean and freshly pressed days lying before me. Oh my.

I have been auditing a class on Love at the Unity Church. Interesting concepts being taught there. They are especially focused on the inner dialogues we tend to conduct in our minds and offer different ways to approach your life to bring about added peace and serenity. I never realized before how much internal chattering goes on beneath this blonde mane. Yak, yak, yak. Always I have known I was a woman who has much to say. (Rick used to comment if I asked if he was listening, “Sweetie, if I listened to every word you said, I would never get anything else done.” Funny man my Rick.)

Like an old dog long ingrained habits are not easily given up. When you are used to doing things a certain way, particularly as you age, changing course is not an easy task. There’s no day to implement change like today, so I begin.

First on my list as mentioned in my previous blog is looking for a part-time job. There are a lot of us baby boomers still in the work force and so I am hoping I can find a niche just my size to fit into to. Where to begin? First, I updated my resume. My son’s business in corporate headhunting so he was helpful in guiding me through the process. Do not write endless descriptive paragraphs dating back to when you exited the womb, was his first instruction. “But that’s my speciality. Awwww, all right.” Apparently busy people looking to hire someone don’t have time to read through the definitive life history of twenty people in order to whittle it down to the right candidate. Got it. Brief, attention grabbing tidbits about what you’ve done over the past ten years with the emphasis on what you can bring to the position that is unique and pertinent to the job description provided. Done and done. Apparently brain surgeon is off the table. I looked it up and it seems you have to have a degree. Darn.

Learning to live alone is another hurdle I am mounting. You’re not alone, you might say, you have Boo, the Queen of Cats. Oddly enough you’d be on the money with that statement. I can not stress enough how much it means to open the door to an empty house and find a furry face waiting for you on the other side. If you have suffered a loss having an animal (if you love them as I do) can be such a comfort while at the same time giving you something to fuss over besides yourself. As the days pass I actually find myself looking for quiet hours to hang out with me. Being an only child entertaining myself perhaps comes more easily than for those people coming from large families used to lots of noise and activity 24/7. Growing up in Nova Scotia during long cold winters I learned to be inside seated on the floor of my bedroom using my imagination to fill my days with wild adventures and limitless wonders.

Winter has not made itself known here in Northern California as yet. As I turned the calendar over to November I went to my shed and retrieved my winter clothes, replacing the summer clothes hanging in my closet. Yesterday it was 78 degrees. As usual, I’m right on target. Sooooo, tiring of wearing fleece in a heat wave today I will go back to the shed and forage for some lighter clothes thus guaranteeing a blizzard by Friday. One cannot deny living in California, in spite of the fire situation dogging us over the past decade, offers glorious weather. This does not come without a price, however, and I look more and more often at how I will sustain myself here long term. If it wasn’t for the fact that all my loved ones reside in this state I wouldn’t be adverse to exploring other options. Rent in particular has hit the roof making it difficult for grown children to move out on their own, people in low income jobs to limp from paycheck to paycheck, and the old and infirmed to manage to survive. My best friend’s daughter just moved to the Houston area. She bought a gorgeous home in a lovely area for about one-third of what you pay for a similar house here.

So many things to ponder. I am trying to put all I have learned about mindfulness into play as I go through my days. Focus on today, even this moment of today, and let tomorrow unfold when and as it should. I believe I’ll buy a lottery ticket this morning. No reason not to hedge my bets.

Today is Veteran’s Day. Always I think of my father. He was twenty-five, and I one, when he died. I have pictures of him in RCAF uniform to remind me of the man who launched me into this world then had to take his leave. When I was sixteen I visited Ottawa. While there I visited his grave at the military cemetery. I will never forget the sea of white crosses marching up and down the hillsides in every direction. So much loss. To all the veterans who have given and continue to give of themselves for our country, thank you for your service.

The time has come to begin searching for a part-time job. God knows I’ve avoided it successfully as long as I can. Money needs to start coming in as well as going out or this boat is going to spring a few leaks down the road. Not that I’m allergic to work, I’ve worked most of my life, I just don’t hate not having to. Ah well, we do what we need to do to sustain ourselves, yes?

An email showed up in my in box yesterday from a social media website I’m a member of. They were alerting me to the fact there is an opening for a social media director for one of the NFL teams I might be a good candidate for. Really, in what universe would that be? If I’m qualified for that job why not try something new like, say, brain surgeon or perhaps I could apply to NASA for a neuroscientist position? I do enjoy watching those rockets plummeting into space. How hard can it be a little rocket fuel and a match? Let’s see, with all the candidates running for president at the moment would anyone even notice another hat tossed in the ring? Why not go for the gold? As far as I can tell I’m probably as qualified as most of the people in Washington at the moment so why not?

Updating my resume it occurred to me my graphic arts background isn’t really going to hold a lot of weight if I’m stocking shelves at the Dollar Store or wrapping up purchases at Penny’s. Probably their HR departments won’t be overly impressed by the fact that not only can I bag the items for the customer, but I can draw them a rendition of the bag if needed.

Utilizing my graphics or writing skills while earning a paycheck would be the ideal situation. Unfortunately, these types of jobs are often full time positions with plenty of overtime, which I’m not looking for, or the hiring bodies are targeting younger candidates who can remain in place longer than a baby boomer such as myself.

Over the years I have assumed many identities in the working world. I began as a secretary, clerk really, for a moving company. An eighteen year old girl green as a gourd working with a bunch of rough around the edges movers in a large combination warehouse and office. I earned my stripes there. The men were respectful for the most part, as I remember. However, the dispatcher working directly across the aisle from me had a mouth like a sailor. When things weren’t going his way the air was alive with words my grandmother would have washed my mouth out for repeating. I remember once the warehouse manager came to me to tell me the ladies, of which there were four of us, needed to be alerted there were crabs in the women’s washroom. Until the situation was resolved, we were instructed to use the men’s room. Fascinated there were live crabs on the premises, I asked if perhaps I could see them. Stepping a bit further into the humiliation pit I went on to explain though I enjoyed crabs, I actually preferred lobster having grown up in Nova Scotia. Yup, fully immersed in the pit of humiliation at that point. After staring at me in disbelief for a minute he broke out in hysterical laughter. For the next two years I had to hear the crabs story repeated more times than I care to remember. Back then if asked about an STD I might have answered “isn’t that motor oil”? Yes, yes I know it’s STP.

My second job was for a huge engineering company working as a secretary to one of the junior VP’s. My desk was one of a bank of desks and executive offices referred to by the staff as “mahogany row”. Things were much different in those days. Women wore dresses, heels, and nylons to work. Pants were not allowed on the ladies. Men were encouraged to wear them thankfully, there are laws against that. Pants suits made an appearance not long afterwards, though I wouldn’t have missed them if they hadn’t. Polyester nightmares with matching jacket and pants usually suffering from static cling or just basic bad taste. There were no casual Friday’s. Women were to be dressed accordingly five days a week even if their toes were sacrificed to tight pointy toed shoes or their bodies circulation diminished by suffocating pantyhose. Mini skirts were also on the scene at the time. Accessing a filing cabinet wearing that minimal piece of fabric required real finesse necessitating squatting down rather than bending over the file drawers lest you provide a distraction for the engineers on the floor. The campus I worked on consisted of five multi-story buildings, mainly staffed by male engineers, draftsmen, and support staff. Women engineers were tossed in among the mix but certainly were a small minority. Often the ladies with the engineering degrees were difficult to sort out from the gentlemen. They tended to dress in a very understated way bordering on dowdy to maintain a businesslike persona. I was told by one female engineer they dressed down in order to be accepted by their male colleagues. I could write volumes about how I feel about that, but I digress.

Part of my job description was generating travel paperwork for engineers and staff reporting to our overseas operations as well as the Alaskan pipeline and South America. Shots were required when entering certain foreign countries as well as the typical government documents such as visas and passports. If needed quickly, I would hop a plane from LA to San Francisco to visit the embassy’s involved to get paperwork moved through as expediently as possible. For me, this was the whipped cream topping of my job. Entering the exotic offices staffed by people from lands I had never visited was fascinating to me. There were times when I wished they were placing official stamps on my documents so I could board the plane as well.

Certainly my dream as a child was not to be typing engineering reports or transfer papers. Sometimes life doesn’t look the way you thought it would. As a kid my mind was filled with Egypt, oddly leading me to end up with Rick an Egyptian by birth. Daydreams of dusty digs in steamy desert settings uncovering long buried tombs with ancient artifacts filled my days. As I approached puberty, my career goals shifted to include nurse, like my grandmother, and circus clown and in high school I decided I wanted to fly the friendly skies as a flight attendant. In the end, I got married at eighteen, had two children by twenty-one and found myself seated in front of an electric typewriter pounding keys for a living. I don’t regret this for an instant because was I to create a paradox in my world and change things my two beautiful children wouldn’t share my life nor their offspring so I wouldn’t change a thing.

I view each experience as a building block to the next. Had I not taken typing in high school simply to fill an elective spot, I might have been pushing biggie fries at McDonald’s. Not that that’s a bad job. I think anyone who works hard in whatever position they hold should be commended. However hindsight being 20-20 I do wish at times I had enjoyed the full college experience when I had the opportunity to but as I always quote, “don’t look in the rear view mirror, that is not the direction you are going”.

So I look at working once again and still find myself pondering what I want to be when I grow up. Working with food might be interesting. Standing behind the deli counter at the market slicing meats and cheeses seems like it would be right up my alley. My girlfriend always tells me I would have make a good waitress. I like the idea of serving people meals, as being in the kitchen or around food is my happy place. That being said, having owned a restaurant with Rick I do know first hand how difficult waiting tables is. Long hours, poor tippers, complaining patrons, and sore feet. Hmmmm. Maybe a mermaid? I’ve never been one but always felt I had the predisposition for it, and how I do love the water.

For now I will scan the on-line sites advertising local jobs and see what catches my eye. Fortunately I’ve kept my computer skills up so I have something to offer in that area.

Another new chapter to explore in my crazy interesting life. I do look forward to finding out what the next year will bring with it.

We are smack dab in the middle of what astrologists refer to as a mercury retrograde. This began officially on Halloween, but the effects were already being felt two weeks prior. Such occurrences in the universe are usually marked by communication and technology breakdowns, nervous anxiety, travel delays, and lost items. Goody.

I mentioned a blog or two back I have been experiencing a lot of such breakdowns. Even after the electricity was finally restored following a five day power outage my land line remains dead as a doornail. A repairman is headed my way after numerous attempts by my provider’s technical staff to try to figure out what is wrong. Immediately after getting that situation on the road to a solution a friend advised me my car was leaking unknown fluid onto the driveway. This means locating an auto shop at my new location to take a look at what’s going on under there. As an aside, have you ever noticed all these types of mini disasters seem to occur on weekends or holidays? It’s so common in my world I can’t help but wonder if perhaps it’s part of the master plan. As to lost items, I spent an hour looking for my keys this morning until just short of panic mode I discovered them dangling out of the lock in the door on my way out to take the trash. Thank God I’m careful to lock the door lest someone try to break in. Sigh. This retrograde will continue until November 20th which tells me November may prove to be another red letter month at Susie’s house. Jeez.

Halloween itself was a pleasant surprise. Having lived in rural mountainous areas for the last twenty years we were lucky if we got one little pirate or a scant princess knocking at our door so this year was actually fun. I bought a huge bag of candy thinking if nobody came I could sacrifice myself and not let it go to waste. As darkness began to fall I sat down to watch the news and eat my dinner when the doorbell began to ring and didn’t stop until I turned off the lights around 8:30. Sometimes there were as many as ten children standing there when I opened the door. They were all really inspired costumes for the most part ranging from a pirate with a parrot on his shoulder and a lit lantern to a diminutive ninja turtle looking just like the ones on the big screen only tinier. It was good to see parents allowing children to go door to door again, though I noticed many of them lining up along the sidewalks with flashlights talking among themselves as their offspring gathered their loot. Reminded me of the old days when my kids were school age when we totally decorated the house and created scary haunted houses in the garage. Very nostalgic for me an old Halloween lover from way back missing being born on the very day by a mere five hours. Such a fan of all Hallows Eve am I, my mother swears I came down the chute wearing a rubber nose, moustache and glasses smoking a cigar.

The day after Halloween I celebrated my birthday. Thankfully, this went off without a hitch. My daughter and her family, including our youngest member, Zeppelin one year and one month, took me to the zoo. Going to the zoo is always a bittersweet experience for me. Don’t misunderstand me, never, even at this ripe age, do I tire of seeing the amazing animals housed in America’s zoos. That being said, I do always feel a tug of guilt these glorious creatures are confined in such a way for our amusement. Seeing the animals through Zeppelin’s fresh eyes was the best part of the day. Each cage was a new adventure for our little guy who’s eyes were wide as dinner plates as we moved from one display to the next.

My mother joined us towards the end of the day. Since she broke her hip it is more difficult to include her in family outings because her stamina has diminished since her injury. Also, as the dementia continues to intrude on her thinking keeping her overnight as was my habit before she fell has now become more difficult. My house is an old cozy dwelling with lots of hard angles and unusual rooms. A wheelchair simply can’t navigate this space comfortably. Sadly once again I watch the progress of aging taking away more and more freedom from my dear mother. I also see spurts of anger not present before. Can’t fault her for that. I’m pretty sure as active as she was, being confined with no real goal or purpose to her days must be terribly frustrating.

There are several new tenants in her board and care. One lady is older than my mom which pleases her to no end. She mentions often she’s tired of being the oldest chick in the hen house. In her fifties during her mid-life crisis, as she called menopause, she refused to devulge her age. She began to shave years off so fast at one point we calculated I was actually older than she was. For me I don’t mind telling my age. Not saying the number out loud doesn’t make me any younger. My view of aging is if the universe allows we’ll all be ten, twenty, thirty, etc. Each stage has it’s pluses and it’s minuses. Not sure I’d go back if I could. Would I want to be back in high school again? There isn’t enough money. Sometimes I think I’d like to revisit my forties but I don’t believe that’s in the contract. Soooooo, I yam, what I yam and that is it. I still feel like a kid so will have to be satisfied with that. Thankfully I’m still healthy and agile which is such a bonus. It pleases me I am still able to be surprised, amazed, disappointed and enlightened so there’s still much work to be done, places to go, things to be accomplished. I’m signed up for a clay class this month. Always wanted to try sculpting. We shall see what comes of that.

Have a great and productive day.

Fire in the Hole

Currently, to employ a little electrical vernacular, I am sitting at my daughter’s house writing this blog. “Why”, you ask. Well actually you did not ask but had you I would have answered, “because my house is 62 degrees and I haven’t had electricity since last Saturday.” Then I would sigh and hold my head.

I left Saturday to spend a few days with friends in the Bay Area. Their house is in Antioch in Contra Costa County about a two and a half hour drive from mine in Auburn. Knowing I would be gone three days, my usual wonderful pet sitter was on the clock to keep an eye on Boo until my return. PG&E sent me a text alert an hour into my drive saying due to a high wind event predicted they would be shutting off power to many counties in Northern California including my area by Saturday night. Great. The wind storm, scheduled to move in Sunday, was considered by those in the know likely of historic proportions. Combine the wind with the dry vegetation and low humidity and you have the recipe for the perfect cocktail for fires. Good Lord.

November 1st, is my birthday. Yup, another year older and deeper in debt. My friends in Antioch were planning a pre birthday dinner for me on Sunday and Monday night my girlfriend and I were going to a greeting card party we attend every three months. It’s less about greeting cards than about a bunch of ladies getting together to eat, talk and, yes, make a few greeting cards. I always look forward to it.

She and I have known one another about thirty five years. Would that I could say we were in grade school when we met but in fact we met at a company we both worked at back when we were in our thirties. Again, I would like to say that was yesterday but my gray roots keep showing through to make a liar out of me. Over the years we have ridden out many a storm together both literally and figuratively so this would not be virgin territory for us. She and her husband have seen me through the end of one marriage and my relationship with Rick and now Rick’s passing, and I have been there for many losses in their lives. A lot of water under this bridge for the three of us for sure.

Thankfully their house was not affected by the outages, so we had power throughout the weekend. In fact, they have never been affected. This is probably due to the fact they live in a heavily populated Bay Area community not replete with trees. However, this does not preclude trouble, because while I was there several such suburban areas around them had serious fire situations, it just makes it less likely. Being in the middle of a huge wind event with dry foliage all around you is definitely a nerve jangler. Not to mention the trees in their yard besides being fuel were huge. When the wind gusts swooped in their boughs were bent nearly to the ground. Several large branches were lying across their yard with two on their roof by the time the winds had receded. Debris lined the streets once we ventured out leaving yards looking like war zones.

Weather is such a leveler. You are lulled into a false sense of security tucked inside your warm home until Mother Nature decides to make herself known. My heart goes out to those families who had had to stand by helplessly as their houses along with everything in them burned to the ground. Often I think it must be difficult for the fire fighters as well working so hard in difficult conditions to save these homes finally having to admit defeat and move on down the line to try to save the next one.

It doesn’t seem fair. Some homes in a ravaged neighborhood might stand untouched, while others are left in a smoldering mass. Life is rarely fair, to my mind. Sometimes it is simply life. Look at the animal world. Watching a cheetah capable of moving at speeds up to 70 MPH chase down a gazelle who will never outrun it makes you wonder “how fair is that”? Perhaps it is not a matter of fair or not, perhaps that is the fabric of life. Perhaps the gazelle was a weak link in the herd, old or infirmed possibly, or the herd needed to be culled being too large for all members to eat. Maybe nature doesn’t offer up explanations, other than that is the balance, this is as it is? I don’t know certainly. No one has looked to me as the authority on everything since my children were old enough to think for themselves. I do have questions though.

Can’t help but wonder why all this is happening here in California right now. As I said in my last blog I look forward to life settling down a bit easing in some relaxing moments to balance out the chaos? I find myself a bit world weary but thankful I have my home, cold as it may be, and Boo the Queen of Cats and I are safe, warm, and have food on the table. At least I have food at the table at my daughter’s house. When I go home I will have to restock. Once again I will have to empty the contents of my refrigerator into my trash bin which hurts my heart, but if this is the worst loss I have to suffer than I shall survive.

I am enjoying having some down time with my family which is definitely a plus. On my birthday we are going the zoo and then out to dinner which I am looking forward to. Full circle it would seem. When I was five I wanted to go to the zoo for my birthday and here I am anticipating yet again seeing all the animals at this age. Though this time the trip is actually for the benefit of the youngest member of our clan, Zeppelin, who has recently also celebrated a birthday, his first. Going with him will be like viewing the zoo with fresh eyes seeing for the first time the wonders of all the animals to be found there. That will make it all the more special. If we’re lucky we’ll both get ice cream if we behave ourselves. He’s probably more likely to get a cone than I am. Smile. Last time I went to the zoo was with Rick. I told him I wanted to feed the giraffes so he stood in line with all the other kids and we waited our turn to give the impossibly tall creatures an offering of an acacia leaf. We may grow up but sometimes it is still fun to revisit the child inside of us. One delightful benefit of getting older is that in my case at least I care more about enjoying the moment than what someone else might think about what I’m doing.

So I go home in the morning, power restored. Boo will be delighted, she’s not a happy traveler. Happy Halloween to you.

Mechanical Failure

I attend a weekly therapy session. People often hesitate to admit they have pursued this avenue of treatment. To my mind, never be afraid to say you need help in whatever form. If you have a virus you make a doctor’s appointment. No different. When your mind needs guidance to sort through whatever it is you are experiencing seeking professional assistance seems the logical step to take.

After two years of office visits my therapist and I have shared a lot of information with one another. A certain bond forms with a person you give large chunks of your life over to and such is the case here. Laura is a woman slightly younger than myself, single like me, an only child having lost her brother, caring for an aging mother. There you go. My sister from another mister.

Most therapists have therapists. I’ve often felt if you go into this particular field of practice perhaps you may have creases you need to iron out yourself. Many times I’ve thought of hanging out my shingle when I have been thrust into the position of doling out solicited advice to friends and family.

During yesterday’s session I was discussing how many things have broken down over the past month, including me. Since October made itself known one thing after the other has fallen apart. She shared with me many of her patients have been complaining of the same occurrences, one person even relating a theory there is some sort of global karmic event in progress. Really? Oh-oh. Karma is not my strong suit.

Since the first of the month my TV has gone out, I had four days without electricity, my phone mysteriously lost voicemail due to an unexplained national outage, my doorbell stopped ringing, my alarm battery supposed to last five years died as did the replacement battery sent, and last night in the middle of cooking dinner the bulbs in my overhead kitchen light flickered then died concurrently. Really? This seems like a small inconvenience, but mine is a small kitchen, one butt really. It has one light source and without it you can’t see much. I keep two bulbs in it to provide a nice warm atmosphere while I’m doing my cooking. I turned on the light in the laundry room to see what I was doing. Getting out my trusty step stool, exactly as I’ve been instructed not to do by my children, I perched precariously on the top step trying to loosen the nut holding the globe in place. Reaching up I could barely reach the nut to turn it. Once the nut was off the globe should have easily been removed. Not this month. I gently turned and maneuvered it over and over never achieving the desired result. Peering through my blinds I could see my landlord’s truck in his driveway. Hating to admit defeat, I texted a quick note explaining I was too stupid too replace a light bulb, please send help. Sounded like the old pollock joke. Sorry, hope I didn’t offend anybody of Polish ancestry. Shortly there was a knock at the door. There had to be a knock, why? Yes, that’s right because the doorbell doesn’t work.

It turned out there was a twist (no pun intended) to the light situation. An extra nut had been screwed on for some unknown reason and was holding the globe in place. Thank God I wasn’t as stupid as I looked. Whew. Dodged that bullet. After replacing the two bulbs he let me know he’d be over this morning to take a look at the electrical outlet in the living room that had also gone south. Suddenly I had a mental picture of appliances and devices rising up against their human tormentors. Out of control IPhones with cracked faces and old discarded Kindles chasing down unsuspecting townspeople. Sort of an all out electronic revolution on steroids.

Watching the news while having my coffee they announced another high wind event was going to take place which meant more PG&E enforced shutdowns. Thankfully I haven’t gotten an alert yet. Yesterday when they said there was a possibly I decided I wasn’t going to caught with my pants down like last time. First I filled my car, then stopped at the store on the way home to grab two bags of ice and some battery operated candles. I have three such candles already and two lanterns but just they don’t provide enough light once dark descends upon us. Many of my friends have purchased generators. Being here alone the idea of operating such a device when I apparently can’t even change a light bulb is a bit daunting. It’s not just plugging them in and voila. Unless you have the $9,000-$15,000 to invest in one that is automatic and will supply the entire house, the manual types involve yanking a starter such as a lawn mower might have, extension cords and frequent oil changes. Most of my friends have husbands around to help them operate these. Not that I can’t figure it out I’m sure I can, but do I want to? The answer here would be not really. One of my friends had a neighbor lose her house and everything in it to a fire caused by misusing a generator. If anyone could make that happen, it would be me. Trust me, my strengths do not lie in the workings of machines. Machines actually cover their heads when I walk by hoping to go unnoticed.

I remember when my first husband insisted on teaching me how to change a tire. The one and only time I used the information was on the way home from work on a day several months after my tire changing instruction course. Back then women wore pantyhose and heels to work. For those of you not old enough to remember pantyhose they are miserably restrictive nylon leg coverings fitting like sausage casings that you wear under your dresses. Sadly they were an improvement on the girdles and garter belts that preceded them. All of them, in my estimation, articles of torture. When the tire blew I limped the car to the side of the road. After standing there looking pitiful for ten or fifteen minutes with no prince on a valiant steed showing up, I decided to retrieve the jack out of the trunk and take care of this problem by myself. Not having perhaps given my full attention to the instructions when they were being given, I did manage to remember how to get the jack on and get the lug nuts off, the latter which I deposited in the hubcap as instructed. Steps 1 and 2. On a roll. Next, I muscled the brand spanking new tire out of the truck securing it in the spot where the old tire had been resting. Step 3. Check, check, and check. I am woman hear me roar. I could have consumed a raw rib eye at that moment. That is right up until the jack, apparently not properly secured, decided to relieve itself of it’s burden and dropped the car on one side like a wounded antelope. The impact caused the wheel to bend under the car where a part of the sharp metal around the wheel well impaled it. Hmmmm. The perfect kill. I don’t remember step 4 sounding like that. This was not going well. At that point I guess I looked sufficiently pitiful that a driver pulled over to help. Standing next to the car scratching his head he finally said, “how did you do that”? There really wasn’t a good answer. I don’t explain these things, I just do them. A tow truck was called as was my husband who oddly had exactly the same reaction as my rescuer plus several additional comments about the new tire being ruined which aren’t suitable for sharing. Bonus here. I never have been called upon since to change a tire on a car. I have been sure to relate this story at the beginning of all my relationships ensuring this remains status quo.

There are often gifts hidden in the dark corners of our lives. This year has been a learning experience for me in so many ways. Even when stumbling and falling I have managed to pick myself up and keep on going. It has been an opportunity to discover where my strengths lie and work on my weaknesses. I have found I can live alone and life continues to move forward. Does that mean I like it? No, I miss Rick every single day and our life together but there are certain unexpected freedoms afforded people who have no one to account to except themselves.

I find through the loss I have acquired a great deal of gratitude for my blessings. This lovely little house, Miss Boo the Queen of Cats, my family and friends, food in my cupboard, my health and for the most part my sanity.

What is it they say, people always worrying about what they don’t have will never be happy. Rather we should be thankful for what we do have. There is always someone out there who would view your life with outright envy. If you never have enough to make you happy, how can you ever actually find fulfillment? These are questions I ask myself when I am feeling down. Don’t always have answers but at least I’m asking the questions.

Nope, just me.

Stop the world I want to get off. Not permanently, just in case someone out there is tuned it, perhaps for a month or two. Seriously I keep patting my life down into a soft manageable form and something comes along and blows it all back up again. STOP IT, I say.

As mentioned previously, my mother has moved from an assisted living home to a board and care recently due to a broken hip. I spent a week during the recent PG&E blackout at my mother’s old residence packing up her things. Items were placed in boxes marked Donate, Garage Sale, and Keep. What didn’t sell at our garage sale last weekend were on schedule today to be moved into storage. With some packing still left to do, I came up early to get a head start before my son-in-law and granddaughter showed up with the rental van.

As it turned out the lady living in the adjacent apartment was also being relocated by her family so the hallway was a mass of activity. Eight or so people milled about moving furniture out and carrying boxes back and forth to their cars. The door was open to my mother’s apartment so I didn’t feel claustrophobic. They keep the building on roast as elderly people lean towards being cold. Every time I have visited my mom I have nearly had to strip down to my skivvies to avoid getting heat stoke. People being curious, it didn’t take long for one gentlemen and then a second to poke their heads in and introduce themselves and ask me what I was up to.

I gave the Reader’s Digest explanation of the situation with my mother. If I’d offered the long version I would have had to ask them in for dinner. Looking around at the furniture and boxes they asked where my “crew” was. My crew? Ahhhh they were looking for rest of the packers. “Nope, just me.” They sized up my stature compared to what was in the room and exchanged a look. I explained the rest of my crew, as they put it, was on the road but would be arriving shortly. That seemed to mollify them. “No siblings?”, was the next question. “Nope, just me.” (I’m thinking of having a t-shirt made with big bold letters “NOPE, JUST ME”.) However, if these moves continue to pile up at the current pace I may begin to regret not coming from a larger family.

They went on to say they were brothers-in-law. One was the son of the lady moving and the other married to his sister. No not married to his sister, there are laws against that, but rather the son’s sister. Never mind. There are five siblings in all in their family the son explained. One, the middle child, was absent. Apparently this brother always had an excuse when it came to pitching in with anything to with their mother and this was a sore spot for the rest of the clan. I appreciated the update and get the part about family dynamics. Every family has bumps and sore spots no matter how picture perfect they appear on the outside. Next the wife of one of them popped in and filled me in on the rest of the skinny about the missing brother and his unpopular spouse. Though I wasn’t actually researching a book on their family history, both men and the wife were very pleasant. Since I had my head in a box and wasn’t easy to communicate with they excused themselves shortly to get back to their side of the fence. Funny isn’t it how people will entrust complete strangers with the most personal information about their lives and yet sometimes can’t share what they are thinking with the person sitting across from them at the breakfast table. Strange creatures, we humans.

Not long after they said their goodbyes my crew arrived. I’m starting to feel my age these days for the first time. Bending, stretching and lifting do not come as easily as they did twenty years ago. Muscles I haven’t called into service for awhile are beginning to complain loudly and my feet are telling me I’m asking too much of them. Yesterday I took my mom to the doctor. I had to take her wheelchair out of the trunk on my own for the first time. Getting it out of the trunk wasn’t so difficult. A good yank and it was over the lip of the trunk and dropped to the ground. Getting it back in was a whole different ballgame. I parked where I had lots of room to maneuver but the problem was it was like lifting a bag of cannon balls. It took three tries, some huffing and puffing, and a lot of serious swearing to get it back where it belonged. After the second attempt and fail, I strongly considered leaving it in the bushes and calling it a day.

If this is going to be a regular occurrence I will have to add some muscle. I am still working on fulfilling my New Year’s resolution of going to the gym. It’s only October I feel I still have some time left. If I procrastinate long enough it will be 2020 and that resolution will have past it’s shelf life. That is how it works isn’t it? Well that’s how I’m working it. It’s not that I haven’t tried to go to the gym. I keep making appointments that I have to either cancel or postpone. Life is very busy right now and making time for myself sounds easy but isn’t always possible to accomplish.

Last week I did make it to the opthalmologist. This was the third appointment I’d scheduled, having changed the first two, so they were beginning to think I was a figment of their imagination. They put me through the usual series of tests. Of late driving at night has become a problem for me. I am seeing stars and reflections like I did before I had my cataracts removed. Since I never know if I might be called to come out in the wee hours this is concerning. In 2010 I surgery on both eyes. I had developed premature cataracts from taking Premarin for my asthma. Funny, or not, how a prescription to cure one ailment can be directly related to creating another? I took an antibiotic once that gave me tennis elbow. Who knew? Considering I haven’t played tennis since I was a senior in high school no one was more surprised than me. At any rate after nearly blinding me with that lighted instrument they use, he informed me the lenses never have to be replaced after cataract surgery but in rare instances the lenses can develop a film around the exterior that will mimic the symptoms of cataracts. Naturally I have to be an over achiever and get something everyone else doesn’t have. Sigh. I got a referral to a laser surgeon who will grind the edges down and return my night vision to what is was before. Now, I’m not usually a baby but when it comes to my eyes I can be a big blubbering mass of goo. My right eye, naturally the one with the problem, is 20/20. My left eye, lazy since birth, sees only half that well. The idea of impacting my right eye scares the hot rocks out of me so I will approach this with caution even though I know it is done successfully every day.

So mother is officially moved. I have ticked another to-do off my list at the eye doctor and new glasses are ordered. Life is temporarily patted down to a manageable configuration and I am taking a breath and enjoying the glorious weather.

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