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The Tide is turning…..

Saturday I went to visit my mom as usual. Due to the continuing Covid concerns, we (my daughter and I) are not allowed in the facility, so we sit in the garden beyond her window and visit her through the screen. It’s not optimum, but it’s better than not seeing her, and FaceTime is largely unsuccessful when dealing with someone who has dementia issues. Sooooo, the garden it shall be. When getting in my car to leave, I felt a sharp pain just above the bend in my knee at the back of my leg. Looking down a wasp had deposited it’s stinger in my skin and was preparing to go in for a second attempt. Not so fast. Why do they love me? Was I a large honey stealing bear in a former life? There could be twenty people standing in the garden and the little buggers would find my exposed skin the most irresistible. Once we realized what had happened everyone stood staring at me. What? It seemed they were waiting to see if I was going to drop to the ground and begin writhing or start foaming at the mouth. Ahhhhh. Truth be known, I haven’t been stung for about twenty-five years so either reaction could have been forthcoming. Thankfully, all that resulted was a big bump and oooooooh, such itching. Sigh.

The last time I was stung was in West Virginia. Our dryer had gone south (not on a bus tour, but actually to the dump). While waiting for my new one to arrive, and out of underwear, I was forced to visit the laundromat down the block. Let me preface by saying, I don’t like laundromats. Sitting and watching the clothes circulate in the dryer affords me no kind of pleasure whatsoever and the combined aromas of sweat, bleach, and laundry detergent never does my sinuses any favors. At any rate, desperate times call for desperate measures, so I deposited my money in the slots, added my detergent, and sat down in a chair by the window to read my book until the cycles were completed. I never leave unattended clothes in the washer or the dryer because I have not had good luck with that practice.

When I married my first husband I was eighteen. Aside from brushing my own teeth and dressing myself, I had little life experience about what it takes to run a household. My thinking never got beyond the wedding ceremony, so when it came to actually living together I hadn’t a clue. My cooking skills were limited to putting butter on toast and pouring cereal in a bowl and I had never been involved with laundry beyond folding a pile placed in front of me by mother to fold. Note here, when I had children of my own I taught them early on how to fend for themselves so this pattern would not be repeated by the next generation. The first time I had to do laundry was in the laundry room at the apartment house we lived in. Having no incite as to the fine points of washing clothes, I loaded the washing machine to the brim including a red bedspread and all my husband’s white tee shirts and underwear. Adding a liberal amount of Tide, I pushed hot wash and we were off to the races. No one could have been more surprised then me to find when I went to put the massive load in the dryer the underwear now matched the bedspread except for in a lighter shade of pink. Whoops.

Next, I had decided to go to the laundromat down the street. They had more machines so it was easier to do multiple loads. I put all my husband’s clothes in the washers, and when washed, I transferred them to a bank of large dryers. Knowing I had at least a half an hour before I could retrieve them, I decided to run a couple of errands. When I returned, all four dryers were completely empty and one had a note stuck to it with a piece of chewing gum that read “thanks”. You’re welcome. Ach. Every one of my husband’s dress shirts for work but the one he was wearing had been taken. He asked me when I told him if I had some sort of personal vendetta against his wardrobe. Sorry.

So, by the time I found myself in the laundromat in West Virginia I had raised two children and grown up a piece myself. I knew to wait for your clothes to get done before leaving or you were liable to see your favorite shirt on someone in the check out line at the local Piggly Wiggly. That day as I said, I was sitting by the window. There was one other person in the entire laundromat, a man reading a newspaper. He looked to be about forty something, with glasses, and was studying the page in front of him intently when a bee dropped down the back of my shirt. Now, I have said repeatedly I don’t like bees. Let me repeat, I really don’t like them. Please don’t tell me if I stand still they won’t sting me because it doesn’t matter what posture I adopt if one gets around me he’s going to at least take a shot. This one dropped down the back of my shirt, took aim, and stung me right in the shoulder blade. Well, my body immediately sprang into protective mode. I began to dance around the area I was sitting like I was auditioning for “So You Think You Can Dance”. Aside from the fancy footwork, my hands were swatting about my back, and my neck was craned in a unnatural position trying to see behind me. This guy lowered his chin and looked up over the page of his newspaper but never flinched. I nearly stripped the shirt off my body before the offending insect finally fell out on the floor where I jumped up and down and stomped on it repeatedly with my foot. The man neatly folded his paper, stood up, and walked out of the door and never looked back. I’m sure he went home and told his wife, “and so there was this crazy woman in the laundromat who did some sort of strip tease in the corner”. My shoulder swelled up alarmingly. I could have gone for a second audition for the lead in the Hunchback of Notre Dame and would have been a shoe in for the role of Quasimodo.

So today is laundry day once again. It also marks two years since Rick passed away. Where did 730 days disappear to? Time seems to be roaring past my eyes these days. How much life has changed during that time. Looking at it I can see glimpses of the old in my surroundings and in myself, but certainly it looks and feels different then it did two years ago. In the beginning I didn’t think I could manage another day and yet here I am 729 days later and still my feet are moving forward. I shall think of him today. The tears have dried up for the most part but the days of melancholy still show up from time to time. Always he will be a part of me but I have been left behind so must build a life for myself as best I can and find my way.

Tonight is the first Presidential debate. Such a divided country as we tune in to root for our side. Strange times these. Sometimes I watch from the sidelines and wonder what an earth we are doing. Faith keeps me believing we will find the light to guide us in the right direction but right now I can’t see the end of the tunnel. This most probably will be one of the most important elections in our history. It feels to me like our country is on the line. Let’s hope we choose wisely.

Have a productive and well used day. They do go by quickly. Laundry day for me and I’m armed and dangerous (detergent and dryer sheets only).

Blowin in the wind…..

I believe I might be described as an “A” personality. My friends are always telling me I move like the wind when trying to get something accomplished. I always feel a sense of urgency for some reason, as though I am racing against the clock. Not exactly sure why this is, but I do know it is a feeling I experience often when planning out my day. So much to do, so little time to do it in.

Lately it seems a lot of people are busy. Interesting phenomenon, considering we’re supposed to be sticking around the house watching the grass grow due to the corona virus as well as the putrid air that has prevailed of late here in Northern California due to the fires. What are we doing that creates all this busyness? I know what I’m doing, just curious what the rest of the population is up to. Thankfully, I am rarely bored. I can always find something to do with myself if left with surplus time on my hands. Aside from a myriad of hobbies I enjoy, I get a certain rush from cleaning house (I know, and no I cannot drive to your house and clean yours.), love to cook (most days), and am an avid reader. If all else fails, I can plop myself down on the couch and watch something on Netflix that catches my eye. Sometimes I find it fascinating out of the hundreds of movies I have available to me at my fingertips, I can search for an hour and not seem to find one that makes me want to push watch. Hmmmm.

This week for the first time in weeks today the air is actually less toxic than incapable of sustaining life. Send up the balloons, alert the media!! I believe I can step out my front door and inhale as well as exhale, maybe even take a walk. Stop it. I know. From what I understand, Portland was actually entertaining the worst air quality on the planet a while back. Hard to imagine it that way. Such a beautiful area. I lived for a year in Longview, Washington, a stone’s throw from the Oregon border and about an hours drive to Portland. Often my ex-husband and I shopped in the Portland area. Oregon doesn’t have sales tax, so we always saved a bit at the register while enjoying the gorgeous surroundings in the process.

Though we loved Oregon, Washington state also has much to offer, particularly for the avid outdoors man such as my ex-husband. Verdant forests, prolific waterways perfect for hooking a bass, trout, or crappie, and excellent hunting for those who lean in that direction. I do not. Hunting will never be my bag (if you’ll pardon the pun). An animal lover from my lilac toenails to my unnaturally blonde hair, killing an animal even to cull the herd would be difficult for me to do unless it was mortally injured and in pain. As I’ve said in previous blogs, if I kill ants on my kitchen counter, I send a letter of condolence to the family.

While living in Longview David and I spent most of our days off exploring the gorgeous Southern Washington area. He was a Texan, born and raised. Well, raised at least. Though actually born in Arkansas, his family migrated to Odessa, Texas where he and grew up hunting, fishing, and riding. I’ve always loved communing with nature, but before moving to Washington I’d had little experience baiting a hook. My parents were inside people, though my stepfather loved to garden. For a man who had little use for most of humanity, when working in his garden his touch was gentle, his knowledge vast, and the result of his cultivation skills often breathtaking. Mother simply was not bred for the outdoors. As I’ve mentioned before most of my mother’s people are of English descent with delicate pale peach skin prone to bursting into flames if exposed to extended sunlight. I must have picked up some olive tones from my dad’s side of the pond because though still light in complexion, I’ve always been able to add a nice coating of bronze over the summer months. These days I stay out of the sun as far as “lying out” to promote a tan. Ignorance was bliss when I was growing up so we slathered on the baby lotion and cooked to a golden brown like a Christmas turkey on the beach. My dermatologist is reaping the rewards of all that sun worshiping today.

While living in Washington, Silver Lake was our favorite place to cast a line. According to my ex, early morning hours were the prime time to catch fish. With that in mind, we were often on the lake before the sun rose above the horizon. I never argued the point, having not one single insight into fish and their personal preferences as to when to be hooked. Often when sitting in the boat on these early mornings we would share tidbits about our lives. These conversations were held on the down low so as not to disturb the fish circling the hooks below. This, also a tip from the David. Odessa, I was to learn, was considered one of the most dangerous towns in the nation. The city held the dubious title of one of ten “murder capitals of Texas”. Whether or not Arkansas was written on his birth certificate David was a Texan from the top of his Stetson hat to the bottom of his Lucchese cowboy boots. Men who hailed from those parts were familiar with taking care of themselves, he told me. As I recall David’s mother once said if they couldn’t find him when a youngster they looked for a ring of boys surrounding a mound of dust and David would be somewhere in the middle either beating the tar out of someone or having the tar beaten out of him. These rough beginnings left a lot of jagged edges to be whittled off when carried into adulthood. Some got whittled down, while others, well, that’s another story.

Silver Lake was within driving distance of Mt. St. Helens. Even though the catastrophic erruption had occurred a decade or more before we arrived in the state the evidence was still clearly visible. Everywhere you looked there were trees strewn across the ground or just jagged stumps. Eerie to see and unimaginable to be involved in. Nature surely can pack a powerful punch as is evidenced in everything we see of late. Certainly for people in California and the Gulf Coast the absolute power it can exert over us has been very evident this year.

While in the area we visited the Vistors Center (hence the name). I got a pair of sculpted bears made out of the ash to take home with me. We hiked all around the area and were left in awe of the magnitude of the damage.

Often while in the state we went out into the woods to explore for a day. David was well versed on living on the land. I remember while living in Arkansas he would bring home huge catfish and skin and filet them as if it was a walk in the park. After watching him on multiple occasions, I asked if I could try it. After about two hours I had whittled a six pound fish down to enough edible meat for Kitty (our resident feline at the time) to make a meal out of.

For me, being a city person, it was fascinating to be around someone so well versed in the ways of the woods and the country. I always felt in an emergency if I was with him I wouldn’t have to worry about surviving.

Lately, when we’re told every week to be prepared to leave our houses at a moment’s notice, I leave a bag packed with important papers and essentials, and keep the cat crate close by to carry Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, should we need to make our exit in a hurry.

You can’t live your life in fear. It will be as it is destined to be, or so I believe. However, you can be prepared and that is what I intend to be. Other than that it is a particularly gorgeous Monday morning, my coffee is hot and sweet, and I am prepared to greet my day. Have a great one!

Train of thought …..

Yesterday was officially the first day of fall. If you could see me, you would know I am doing my “happy dance” to welcome autumn. This, to understate the obvious, has been a most difficult year. Not to presume to speak for you, I would guess I wouldn’t get a lot of argument on that statement.

Another rough spot, today my daughter let me know their golden lab, Pita, had to be put down. Pita was getting on in years and like many of her breed, her hips were beginning to fail. Though I believe it was time for her to go, I will miss her smiling face and irrepressible optimism when visiting from now on. To add to the sadness she was was my second oldest grandchild’s best buddy and constant companion. Pita and Payton were as joined at the hip as Abbott and Costello or Lucy and Desi. To see one without the other will be hard to imagine.

A lot of goodbyes have been said this year. If you are a person of faith, certainly the truest definition of faith has been tested for many, “trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove”. There are so many half truths and unconfirmed statements floating around in the air with the political spotlight pointed at the upcoming election, it is enough to make your head spin. Wear masks, don’t wear masks, the pandemic is nearly over, it’s just beginning. Sometimes I think I will stop watching the news and other times I simply can’t turn it off. Sigh.

A lot of people I regularly speak to on the phone are sounding decidedly irregular these days. I totally get that. Everyone reacts differently to stress. For me I usually lose weight, while others will begin slamming down eclairs like tomorrow isn’t coming. Some people drink or kick their dog. I have vivid dreams and wake up five times at night. You can look at me and easily determine my stress level. If my life is running along like a well tuned engine, my cheeks are full (on both ends), my eyes shiny, and my hair lush. In times where life is pressing heavily on my soul, my legs will begin to look like two straight pins holding up a peanut, my eyes become lacklustre and my hair is hanging on by a strand. Just the way my body works. Funny isn’t it how we are all the same, while at the same turn all so very different.

Being different comes with it’s penalties. If you look different in particular people can be unkind. Bullying is a subject that really gets the hair on my arms standing on end and it seems to be on the move. There’s something about purposely going after another person with the intent of hurting them out of pure meanness that gets my Irish up. Well, full disclosure, as far as I know I don’t contain a drop of Irish blood, but you get the idea.

I was bullied off and on as a child. Though a thin adult, I was a plump kid. My grandmother, probably ninety-eight pounds on her heaviest day, was a fabulous cook. Growing up under her roof I didn’t have a prayer. Brightly colored tins lined the shelves of both pantries filled with delicate cookies and chewy and delicious fruit filled bars. Up until the age of five my body resisted the caloric onslaught, but between five and eleven it grew equally horizontally as it did vertically. I remember being in the school play in first grade. I was to be a candy cane among a line of candy canes. My grandmother sewed my costume as instructed by the pattern sent home by my teacher, and the night of the Christmas pageant she pulled it on over my clothes to get me ready for my big moment. Unfortunately, being around the holidays, I had consumed enough chocolate and turkey dinner to make the seams tightly bulge at the candy cane’s sides. No time to let the seams out, I was guided to the side of the stage and made my entrance in the front row with the other canes in my group. All went without incident until we bent at the waist to do our bows after a rather, if I do say so myself, “sweet” performance and my seams gave way no longer able to hold back the tide. With a loud rip, the butt end of my costume relieved the pressure allowing the flesh pushing against it to gratefully escape. This precipitated hysterical laughter on down the line and my face turned as red as the stripes circling my body. I always remember that moment. It marked my first experience with humiliation. The first realization I was somehow different because I was overweight.

Not only was I chubby, but I had a lazy eye which required I wear glasses. God, I hated those glasses. Each day I walked to school up Ogilvie Street and down Tower Road. On Tower Road I crossed a bridge which spanned the massive railroad yard housed below. Always I was fascinated as the trains maneuvered back and forth adding cars to their loads, or leaving cars behind. Often I would stop for a moment to watch what seemed to me the sort of rhythmic metal dance. One day after being teased about having “four eyes” I stopped to glance over the side. Watching a train approach on a track I wondered what might happen to my much despised glasses if they “accidentally” fell on that track before the train passed. Before I knew it the glasses were floating through the air bouncing several times before landing square on the track just as the engine chugged along over them. “Hasta la vista, Baby”. At six you don’t think about the consequences of your actions. Well, at least not immediately. As I turned onto Ogilvie Street and began down the hill the immensity of my actions suddenly dropped over me like a heavy tarp. Without a doubt my mother and my grandparents were not going to revel in my genius for finding a sudden and painful end to the glasses they had just purchased for me. By the time I got home the tears had already begun to flow and by the time I reached the door to the kitchen I was in full gusher mode. My poor grandmother, having no idea what had befallen me between school and home, was trying to make sense out of my blatherings in order to determine what was wrong. Though I’d only had one spanking in my life, I was sure another one was about to be added to my record. Finally calming down to explain the dastardly deed I had done she asked me why. “Why on earth would you do such a thing”? Lower lip still flapping in the wind, I told her I was being teased. “Ahhhhhh” she said, hugging me tightly. No spanking was ever inflicted, and a new pair of glasses had to be ordered which I was instructed NOT to drop over the overpass. I remember my grandmother telling me I musn’t be influenced by mean spirited people for they would always be part of my life. Instead I was to remember I was well loved and safe and that they could only invade my world if I opened the door. Another lesson I took with me in my lesson bag.

There is plenty of mean spiritedness to go around these days. It’s everywhere. For me, I’m trying to hold on to the kindnesses I see, the generosity of spirit, and the love also in ample supply. The other day there was a homeless man with a sign standing by the exit to our market. You are probably saying all the usual things people do when seeing such a person asking for a handout. “They make tons of money doing this. They’ll use the money for drugs or alcohol. There are jobs if they just go and apply for them.” I’ve probably said some of these myself but this man somehow was different. He was elderly to begin with and dressed very poorly. Rail thin his hands actually looked skeletal. His beard reached almost to the waist of his pants and when he moved his arms they shook. No matter what this man’s story was, it was patently obvious he wasn’t doing well. There were ten cars in line waiting for the light to change. Without fail each car stopped and a hand reached out the window with a donation in it. This, made me really happy to see. When I handed him mine his eyes were wet. Sometimes just a little jesture, an acknowledgement, that random act of kindness. It may seem small to you but might mean the world to someone else.

So, I’m not that chubby little girl any more but she is an integral part of me. I remember to love her too, like my grandmother did. Whether you are chubby, or short, or imperfect in any way, don’t let others diminish you. Remember people who need to make someone else feel less than, usually come from a place of feeling less than themselves.

I say this on a rather contentious day. It’s a rough world out there lately. But in my day today the skies were robin’s egg blue with white puffy clouds, and the air was clear and fresh. I worked in the yard and took a moment to be immensely grateful. Sometimes the moment is all you have to be grateful for, and sometimes that is enough.

Have a happy Friday!!

Goodbye Notorious RGB

I was so saddened to hear of the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg yesterday. What an amazing woman, and what a heavy footprint she will leave behind for such a diminutive being. As her life story unfolds on nearly every news channel, it strikes me how much difference one person can make in the world when they apply determination and sense of purpose to their lives. Makes me reflect on my life and what I will leave behind when it is my turn to go.

Boo, the Queen of Cats, I believe, will remember me fondly for showing up at treat time every day with the familiar blue bag of chicken “nummies”, and once again for the evening scratching behind the ears sessions before turning in for the night. My mother, who even with dementia says “there’s my darling daughter”, every time she sees my face in the window (Covid restrictions these days) will remember I showed up every week and never forgot how she showed up for me when she was able. There will be others in my inner circle who will miss my presence I would hope, but the ripple will not spread far beyond them. Ginsberg, however, will have made a difference in the lives of so many women and other previously overlooked groups in general during her tenure. Truly, she will leave a legacy of service and impacting legal decisions to be remembered for decades to come.

When I read she graduated top of her class in Harvard Law School but could not get hired to practice in any law firm in New York on graduation because she was a woman, I think how far we have come. Certainly we still have a long way to go still in breaking the glass ceiling, but at least there is evidence of shards of glass now visible on the ground.

I’m not sure you could place me under the umbrella of “women’s libber”. Truth is, I was never really a bra burner (mine wouldn’t have produced much of a fire to be honest). However, I could definitely be found on the front lines when it comes to women’s equality. The logic men seemed to adopt when women began to assert themselves in the areas of their civil rights, was we wanted to be the same as men. I just didn’t understand why we had to give up being female in order to achieve equal billing. I enjoy being a woman, and don’t feel it necessary to have to be less feminine in order to be paid the same as a male counterpart for doing exactly the same job with the same qualifications.

Another RGB cause I support would be the right of women to choose what to do with their own bodies. Men with a political agenda need not be talking to me about what I am to be doing with my body when it comes to pregnancy unless they have immediate plans for picking up that load themselves (literally). Being able to bear children is such a privilege and each individual’s views on the subject very personal. I guarantee if they were bearing the children, the laws on childbirth would assume a totally different look.

Back when women were beginning to stand up for themselves, I can remember one man informing me he was no longer opening the door for me on a date, and he didn’t want to pay for my meal when he took me to a restaurnt. He went on to say, “you want equality, there you go”. In turn, I informed him he wouldn’t have to worry about my door in the future or paying for anything on my behalf because I’d no longer be going out with him. My feeling on this subject (not that you asked) is if someone asks me out on a date, unless it is discussed prior to going out, I will assume he will be paying for my meal. I always went out of my way not to order the most expensive item on the menu or select anything listed as “market price”. Younger men in particular often couldn’t afford to pay for two expensive meals every time they asked a girl out. I totally get that, and never minded paying once we had established a relationship or opting for hot dogs and a beer instead of a high end meal. On the flip side, when I invited a man to come for dinner at my house, I didn’t greet him at the door with the grocery bill asking for half up front before putting dinner on the table.

When I spoke to a man my age recently on this very subject, he said he said he didn’t recall any disparity between men and women when we were in the work force. Uh-huh. That’s kind of the old “if it ain’t happening to you, it ain’t happening”. It definitely happened to me. Women early in my career were supposed to be teachers, flight attendants, secretaries and nurses. If a woman had a strong opinion and wasn’t afraid to voice it, she was considered bitchy. Men, with the same personality trait were considered forceful or alpha males.

I remember reading a book in my twenties detailing how to keep your man happy. Apparently when he arrived home from work the wife was supposed to greet him at the door in a negligee, have the music on low, dinner in the oven, appetizers on the coffee table, and his drink being chilled. Huh. I had two toddlers and a full time job plus was carrying a small load at the local junior college. Dinner came when I could get it on the table and hopefully no one had thrown up on my shoulder before I sat down to eat. Where was the book on how to keep your woman happy I’d like to know?

I believe Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a thorough researcher and possessed a gifted legal mind. Bravely stating her views she didn’t back down but neither was she combative. She said her mother taught her to be a teacher and not to react in anger when someone you are dealing with is difficult or disagreed with your opinion. According to all reports, I heard her colleagues held her in great respect so this approach must have served her well. Sometimes your point can be firmly gotten across without having to hammer it down your opponents throat. My grandmother always said, “you can catch more bees with honey, than you can with vinegar”.

So once again we shall send another great mind on their way. Thankfully, these amazing beings share their intellect and gifts with us before they go allowing us to to progress and learn.

Blue skies and white puffy clouds for the first time in weeks outside my window. So excited to seem them. Last night I left the neighbors cat a few treats on my patio chair pillow where he spends the night each night. This morning I found a dead mouse on my doormat by way of a thank you. Ugh. Have a great weekend!!

Hasta Manana, Baby

Today is Rick’s birthday. The 29th of this month will also mark the day he passed away two years ago. For those of you who have lost a spouse you will understand these special days come with a price. Grief is a process most of us will have to face one time or another in our lives. To me it is similar to sustaining an open wound. In the beginning, you are flayed and raw. Then, as the healing process begins, the pain recedes as each day passes until you are left with a barely perceptible scar. Though others may not be aware it is there, you will still touch and feel it from time to time remembering where you got it.

Life has changed significantly since then for me. In the beginning I was like a newborn fawn. I struggled to my feet on wobbly legs, unsure if I could walk. The human spirit is enduring, and eventually I found my footing and resumed my path in the forest still not sure where I was going, but knowing I would continue my journey. These days I have created a new me of sorts, you don’t remain the same. Grief restructures you, adding dimension in some parts, while removing it in others. As you change, you find new parts of you yet unexplored, strong and resilient parts, while sloughing off those no longer serving you.

There are days when I feel the emptiness, but those are less and less. This does not mean I don’t still feel his loss, for I do. I am simply no longer immobilized by it. If anything, I have learned to embrace it along with the memories and love and pain accompanying it. The loss has assimilated into the whole of me, allowing me to smile when a pleasant memory comes up or laugh when remembering a silly moment we shared.

In a way I am glad he is not here to go through what is going on outside the door of late. To be gravely ill and deal with the pandemic and the fires might have been too much for one plate. I feel for people going through that now, some alone with no one to reach out to. Makes me wish I had a bank full of money. Not that money makes everything better, it does not. If it did, there wouldn’t be so many unhappy people who’s pockets are lined with it, but it does provide an avenue for making things happen.

So today I shall remember Rick as I knew him. He was my Egyptian prince, my friend, my love, who though far from perfect as he would often say, was somehow perfect for me. Rick suffered with a lot of demons, but I saw past them to the person behind them and understood why they were there. With me he was genuine and caring. He was intelligent to a fault, and well studied. Always he brought interesting subjects to the table and taught me much about the structure of the world I missed while sleeping through geography class. We enjoyed nearly twenty years together. It is easy when you lose someone to canonize them. I will not do that. He wouldn’t like it, and neither would I. When I pass, I hope people will remember me as I am, not how they wish I would have been.

Looking back as I have said often, goodbyes have been frequent in my life. Being left behind is often an uphill struggle, but if you keep walking uphill eventually you will rise above the clouds to find blue sky and sunshine. Each day offers something interesting to explore, someone interesting to meet, or somewhere interesting to go. When one door closes, I am here to say eventually another door opens. For me I am too curious a being not to want to find out what lurks behind the next door. Keeping positive with all the negative swirling around our heads of late is definitely a challenge. Some days I feel the anxiety closing in on me. When it does, I lean heavily on my reserve of positive thoughts and uplifting reading material to help buoy my spirits. Even if I don’t always win the battle, at least I can say I put up the good fight.

So here I stand after nearly two years firmly planted on both feet again. I don’t want to waste a minute of my time left on this earth filled with guilt, sadness, anger or regret. Instead, I will try to make the best of my allotted minutes, doing something productive that matters if to no one other than myself. The Grand Canyon still calls my name and the Butterflies in Arizona. I am definitely getting there when the getting is again good. I still have Greece penciled in on my bucket list though the writing gets a little paler with each passing year. Zip lining is in my plans as well for next year. Have a lot to do when this gunky sky lifts and the bug is conquered or at least suppressed so no time to waste. As the indomitable White Rabbit might say:

Before going to bed I always told Rick, “Hasta Manana”, so I’m saying it once again to you Rick on your birthday. The Forty-Niners are playing on Sunday, Ducky, be sure to check in. Have a good one. I love you.

Singing in the Lifeboat

GRR 2013 Pic 14 - GB

Every third Friday, give or take, my cousin in British Columbia and I spend about an hour on phone catching up on what’s happening in our lives. Though we have never actually met in person, it is uncanny the similarities we find in each other which must have come with our DNA. Her dad was my father’s older brother. I never knew my dad. He knew me, but only for the first year of my life. At twenty-five he died from asphyxiation leaving my mother a young widow with me to raise. This is something my mother never really got over, I believe, as he (according to her) was the love of his life.


I know little really about my father’s family. The players are fairly clear to me, at least the cast that was in place when I arrived on the scene. There were four brothers and one sister. Originally, there had been five boys, but the youngest died of a ruptured appendix at the age of four. I remember my paternal grandmother well, but never knew my grandfather who died of a brain tumor at forty. Each of the children had offspring who, in turn, had children of their own. I would need a playbill to keep track of all the names involved now and would recognize few of the faces. The history of that side of my family comes to me in dribs and drabs. What I have gleaned has been interesting so I hope to continue to fill in the gaps as I get to know them better.

On my mother’s side my cousin, mother’s oldest sister’s eldest, Mary Louise, married Howard. Howard, has a keen interest in genealogy. Some years ago he devoted a sizable amount of time delving into my mother’s people, tracing them back as far as the paper trail would allow. Fascinating to follow the chain of events leading up to the time I decided to pop in and say hello. According to the records our clan even shared some blood with Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church. None of us are Mormon in this generation, as far as I know, but interesting nonetheless. Years back I read “The Twenty-Seventh Wife”, the story of Brigham Young’s twenty-seventh wife, Ann Eliza Webb. Ann Eliza was to be one of fifty-five wives Young took as his own, and later in her life became a strong critic of polygamy and a staunch supporter of women’s rights. I would have been right there marching next to her when it came to polygamy. One mate is enough of a challenge, but multiple, no way.

In some ways we’re all related. “The Brotherhood of Man”, is perhaps a good way to put it, though women seem excluded from that phrase. This is not new news to those of us of the gentler sex. Wouldn’t be the first time we didn’t get top billing to our male counterparts and won’t be the last I’m sure. A single seed populated the world or however you view it. Truth is no matter what your beliefs we had to start somewhere. We didn’t just all appear in unison and begin reproducing. Ah well, heavy thoughts for a Thursday. When I start getting deep into philosophy my mind takes off on so many side roads I can’t keep up with it.

Fires certainly are the talk everywhere in California, and the extreme weather across the country for that matter. Really it is the entire west coast that is burning not only us. Day before yesterday the sky got so incredibly dark early afternoon we had to turn lights on. People in the Bay Area woke up to dark orange skies yesterday and what a friend described as apocalyptical landscapes such as have never been seen before. I texted a friend and said, “should an alien spacecraft land in the middle of my street, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least”. She replied, “me too”. We’re like an over loved martini, both shaken and stirred. Many friends in my old neighborhood in Oroville, California are biding their time with families or at local motels waiting for the firestorm to pass and to get the signal from the fire department they can return to whatever might be waiting for them at home. Wow. If I could so you could see it, I would bring my hands next to my head and signal “mind blown”.

To explain how it feels to wake up with this uncertainty every day, I would liken it to what I imagine people living in war torn countries must experience. Sitting in their homes each day waiting for another bomb to fall and desecrate their neighborhoods or steal a loved one from them. I know for me I’m edgy and not sleeping well. I have several friends in Grass Valley where I moved from two years ago, who just got their power restored after two days without energy. One lady is in her eighties, lives alone, and just lost a son to cancer. I offered to come get her or for her to come here but she chose to stay in her home. She called yesterday to say she wished she’d accepted my offer. Sitting there in the dark, alone, wondering if her street would be next to fall turned out to be a lot to manage. The strain, even if you’re tough like she is, takes it toll when applied liberally day after day.

People in states like Colorado are going up and down the thermometer like a thrill ride at the local amusement park. One day it is sizzling and the next snowing. Bizarre, and more bizarre. Check please.

Yesterday I had an appointment at the ENT’s office for a sinus exam. I arrived at the appointed time and after providing the usual information to the receptionist was asked to wait in the deserted waiting room. K. About an hour later still sitting by myself the nurse came and got me. Well, full disclosure, there was a fish tank and by the time my name was called the angel fish and I were on a first name basis. Apologizing for the long wait, the nurse showed me to an exam room. It seemed the power had been out causing confusion in the office. They were trying to get back on the horse but the horse wasn’t cooperating. After providing more detailed information about my sinus situation, she left me to wait for the doctor. Twenty minutes later he arrived wearing both a mask and a face shield. Again he apologized for keeping me waiting. I said, “no problem”. Truth was it was becoming a bit of a problem because it was getting close to feeding time at my house. The natives in my digestive system were beginning to get restless and I had begun to create unique recipes using cotton balls and antibacterial jelly.

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After doing an exam with the tools on the tray next to him, he announced he was going to scope me. Oh-oh. Didn’t like the sound of that. I’ve never been scoped anywhere on my body that left me wanting to sign up to have it done again. Leaving the room, he reappeared shortly with the instrument of torture. Mama. It looked like something you’d blow up an inner tube with. Pulling on headpiece with a light attached he sat on the stool. Just as he was about to look into my nether regions, the lights went out in the room. “Thank you”, I whispered quietly. Apologizing once more, he said we would have to pass on the scoping for the day. I tried to look disappointed, but even I don’t have the acting chops to make that believable. He then said, “God, I hate this year. This has been the worst year ever, hasn’t it?” I think he realized at that point perhaps this wasn’t the most professional conversation to be having with a new patient so he quickly put his doctor face back on. “I hear ya, Doc”, I wanted to say. “Sucks to be us right now and I’m sure it sucks to be a physician”. I had to fight the urge to give the man a hug. Can’t hug these days either for several reasons. One, you could either get the virus or transmit it and two, you could get sued for sexual harassment. Ah well, I sent him a spiritual hug. Think that’s still okay. If not please don’t let me in on it.

So, with several prescriptions to add to my repertoire we parted. I walked down the long dark hall of the second floor of the building and found myself remembering when life was normal. Sigh. I began to hum as I walked out into the smoky courtyard. You have to remember to sing in the lifeboat, or so they say.

Almost Friday. Next week a clean piece of paper. Stay safe.


A, B, C…..Duh

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Well Labor Day weekend, historically summer’s last harrah before handing the baton to fall, has been laid to rest. Boy, am I enthusiastic about seeing autumn roll in this year. My weary mind longs for the glorious fall plumage to begin to decorate the trees, to cross a yard piled high with crunchy leaves, and to breathe in the crisp mornings perfectly suited for an early walk. Ahhhhhh.

Summer is starting to show up accompanied by a feeling of dread for little old me. Friday, the local fire department left yet another warning message on my phone extreme fire danger was moving into the northern California area over the holiday weekend along with it the potential for things to get ugly. I kind of thought with the fires still burning from the intense heat and lightning storm of several weeks ago, they were already ugly. The smoke had only began to clear from that situation but two days before Friday’s message and now new smoke was moving in from the fire down by Yosemite. Sigh.

In truth I would relocate at this juncture in my life, if not for the fact my loved ones are firmly entrenched in the California lifestyle. Though I’ve thrown out several lures on the subject of moving to another state, they’re not showing any signs of nibbling at the bait thus far. Theoretically, if I moved, I could fly back and forth from wherever I relocated whenever I chose. My mom is here though. That being said, moving her is out of the question. Where she is, you will find me, and I hope that I will have her with me for many more years. Also, flying does get expensive, and the thought of tucking in with a bunch of strangers in close quarters breathing recirculated air really doesn’t do anything for me at the moment. Add to the pot, moving to this house was my 39th move in a lifetime. The thought of packing it all up again and finding yet another place to hang my hat is daunting, particularly with the world so upside down.

My refrigerator and freezer are packed. This usually is a signal to the universe to leave me without power in 108 degree heat. Last year I tossed the entire contents of my refrigerator twice. PG&E has turned off the lights in certain high risk communities in twenty counties. Thankfully, we are not on the list this time. I am also feeling thankful I don’t own a restaurant anymore. The stress of owning that type of business is high on any given day, but with Covid concerns and all the weather issues plaguing California in 2020, their stress levels must be off the charts. I noticed people eating at a patio dining area yesterday in 108 degree heat. Whew. You could save money and cook the bacon at the table. Even though we have electricity, we are still under a high fire danger warning because of the strong winds accompanying the low moving in. Lately it feels like we have three days of chaos followed by three days of calm. It’s like a steady pattern. All I can do is allow the days to unfold, knowing someone or something far grander than myself is watching out for me and I am safe. This, at least, is how I handle it in order to remain sane (or as sane as I get). Thankfully, a dear friend came to spend the weekend so at least I had company to keep my mind occupied.

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Relocating is not anything new for me. I relocated the first time from Canada when in fourth grade. Though having lived in the U.S. since the age of nine, I have continued to maintain my Canadian citizenship. There is a sense of home that washes over me when I think of Nova Scotia, so I keep my green card current in case I’m called on to use it. Not that I don’t love living in the United States, I absolutely do. However, I have decided when I do apply for my citizenship, which will be post-Covid hopefully within the next year or so, I will get dual so I can straddle the border. Then I can honor my Canadian heritage while being able to vote and live and fully contribute in the U.S. My mother got her U.S. citizenship many moons ago. This leaves me the last man standing (or woman if you will) who can still be sent home in the back of a pickup truck should I do something horrendous to upset the powers that be.

I was surprised to find the fees for getting U.S. citizenship run around $725.00. I don’t know why I was surprised to be honest, the government usually exacts its pound of flesh. I guess I felt that amount might be considered a hefty sum for someone migrating here who perhaps doesn’t have access to a lot of funds. Aside from the fees, applicants must pass a test on U.S. history. I’m not too concerned about passing this. I have heard it is fairly basic. Mother never went to a U.S. school, being an adult when she arrived here, yet she passed with flying colors (red, white and blue to be exact). When she was studying for the test, I asked her the name of the first president of the United States. She answered proudly, “Everyone knows that, it was Abraham Lincoln”. Hmmmm. I don’t believe Lincoln even knew that, Mama, and I’m sure Washington might have been a little put off by the notion as well, but there you go.

Tests don’t bother me. Truth be told, I rather enjoy the challenge of taking an exam that causes my brain to work up a sweat. As a kid I loved to open a book. Up until my junior year, I was an excellent student. A lot of things happened in my personal life that summer between tenth and eleventh grade. Being a teenager was confusing enough without other unsettling outside influences circling around to distract my attention. My freshman and sophomore years went smoothly enough for me. A lot of the faces I’d gone to middle school with now sat behind the desks in my high school classrooms. Aside from an active social life, I involved myself in the Art Club and was on the drill team. Go Colts. My mother remarried the summer between tenth and eleventh grade. This was not a particularly joyous occasion for me. My first stepfather had been a major putz, and I didn’t hold out much hope this second one was going to get much higher marks. Mom and “dad” bought a house soon after the nuptials in an adjacent city, necessitating a move out of my school district. Unable to get an intradistrict transfer to allow me to remain at my old school, at the end of the summer, mother enrolled me in a new high school. The new school was totally unfamiliar territory. Being sixteen is an awkward age, or it was for me. On the first day of school, fraught with insecurities I scanned the mass of students not recognizing one familiar face. I felt like a sea lion set adrift in an ocean of sharks. With no siblings or friends to lean on, that year began and ended on a decidedly sour note. By the time I reached the semester break, it became obvious by my report card and my attitude, the transition was not going well. Mother would drop me off at school on her way to work. I would wave goodbye and walk across campus exiting through a gate on the other side. Rarely did I show up for class. Always before nearly a straight A student, my grades dropped so dramatically I was called into the Dean’s Office for a general grilling by the Dean of Girls. Most of the “Please Excuse the Absence” hand written notes in the chunky file folder open in front of her had been written in my hand. Once that was established a call was made to my parents. Fine.

Like most teens, I assumed I’d already gleaned most of the knowledge available on the planet so opening another book seemed to be a rather futile endeavor. I’m not proud to say, I dropped out of school that year. Being sixteen at the time, I was old enough to make this decision with my parent’s permission. I didn’t say I was wise enough, I was not wise in the least. I simply had earned enough candles on my cake to legally allow me to do some really stupid stuff. I took advantage of that fact quite often during those times. The only reason my mother allowed this at all was she didn’t know what else to do with me other than attend class with me and duct tape me to the chair. To be fair to myself, there were a lot of mitigating circumstances leading up to this great act of defiance, but the decision was mine and I own it to this day. As usual, I didn’t think the book through to it’s natural conclusion. In my immature logic I would go to the beach, loll about in the pool in our back yard, and hang out with my old friends. Problem being, my old friends were in school and the weather was cooling so the pool was far less inviting. After three months of slothing about the house eating everything I had baked out of desperation for any activity, it donned on me life was moving forward without me. Not only was I falling behind, but that behind was growing larger by leaps and bounds each passing day. I had packed twenty pounds on it with the help of junk food and inactivity. Sigh.

I look back at that realization with some pride actually. Being able to analyze what I was doing realistically, comprehend it was taking me nowhere, and reverse course was an accomplishment. Always I have been a person quick to make decisions and this one was also made without much deliberation. After speaking to my parents, it was decided I would go to summer school and pick up some credits. My mother got me into yet another high school where they would allow me to attend out of district. I began my senior year taking half the junior classes I needed to make up with the other half filled in by senior classes. Part of the lesson learned, was at the end of the year while the rest of the class donned their caps and gowns and received their diplomas, I sat in the visitors seats and watched but was not allowed to participate. When everyone piled into limos for a fun “senior night” or went on “senior ditch day” I was home studying. Following “graduation”, or my Readers Digest version of it, I took correspondence courses to make up the rest of the units I was missing. When I completed the final classes, I drove into Los Angeles by myself to take the G.E.D. exam which I tidily aced. Thank you, thank you very much.

I think of this episode in my life now as so many kids are having to learn remotely, missing out on what the school experience has to offer. Like me, it must seem like part of a year carved out of their lives that can never be retrieved only for them it is not a choice. Life is always in a state of flux. One thing I do know is nothing lasts forever, and change is as integral a part of living as breathing, birth and death.

The following fall I enrolled in junior college with Computer Science as my major. However, there was a lot for life to teach me with all those experiences. Sometimes, particularly with me, I have to bash my head against the wall ten times before the message finally sinks into my brain.

So, today I shall start with a moment of gratefulness. I have lights, a roof over my head, unspoiled food in my refrigerator, and I am safe. I think often of the street people stuck outside with no option but to endure whatever Mother Nature throws in their direction. Have a safe day and remember to look around you and be thankful for the haves and not the have nots.

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What a strange and unpredictable year. I’m betting most of you might be on board with that statement. It sure seems like you don’t have long to wait for the other shoe to drop from one unsettling occurrence to the next. Lately when the phone rings I get PTSD.

As I mentioned back a piece, the air conditioning unit at my house is not working properly. The temps at the time it originally went out were ranging from scorching to super scorching even for old sunny California. Let’s face it, the air conditioning rarely fails in the dead of winter. That’s when the heater shuts down. Usually, and this was no exception, the A/C decides to go south right smack dab in the middle of a heat wave. With the A/C limping along, the thermostat in my little piece of heaven was approaching more more like what I imagine hell might feel rather than it’s biblical opposite. Finally, when the butter in the dish in the kitchen completely melted into a golden puddle on my counter and my indoor plants had begun to wilt, I sent up a white flag to my landlord. Even poor Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, lay prone on the cold tile looking for a little relief. The good news is, three weeks have gone by and I have been told the new part is finally arriving some time this week. Fingers and toes crossed, the unit should be repaired in time for the next heat wave which is predicted to be arriving this coming Sunday. Whew. Supposed to be 110 on Labor Day. Life is really conspiring to keep us holed up inside of late. Never can I recall being so glad to say goodbye to summer. Certainly we’re not done with the heat yet, but this morning I raked leaves in my yard so at least I can sense the tiniest hint of fall somewhere off in the distance.

I am trying to decide how to handle the current situation with my landlords. I just got my bill from PG&E, or as I affectionately refer to the utility, “Piggy”. The invoice was for $400 and change. Ouch. PG&E was kind enough to include an energy saving brochure in the envelope. At the moment I have a portable A/C unit running in the house and was told by the A/C technician to keep the semi-functional forced air running as well to maintain a comfortable temperature and keep the air circulating. I can’t open the windows because the air outside is unhealthy due to all the smoke so there is no Option B. Ummmmm, I didn’t find a paragraph in the brochure to address these situations. Personally, I feel my landlord should shoulder some of this outlay. Part of the reason I decided to rent rather than buy was specifically so these sort of expenses could come out of someone else’s pocketbook rather than mine. We have maintained a solid tenant/landlord relationship over the past year and a half and I’m trying to decide if I wish to rock the boat. Since I’ve moved in the stove, microwave, A/C have all broken and had to be replaced. Then there was in the infamous sewage debacle of 2019 which resulted in Haz-Mat teams in the house and no flooring, walls or second bathroom for 60 days. Also, the gorgeous trees providing shade in the back yard had to be chopped down as they were infringing on the power lines. This, is just nature’s way, but the massive pieces of trunk decorated my yard for several months before being hauled off and now I have a naked yard. I think, unless you feel I’m off base, I’ve been fairly patient through all this. Never have I asked for anything other than that what was broken be fixed, but this time it’s hitting me a little harder in my bank account. My expenses seem to be on the rise in general since the pandemic. Food prices have shot through the roof. The other day I went to the market to buy a chuck roast. Remember the times when you could actually get a three pound chuck roast for under $5? I do. This one cost me $22. I asked if a vehicle came with it, and the checker didn’t even lift one side of her lip. Oh, well to her credit, she may have. She was wearing a black mask with puckered pink lips printed on it so perhaps underneath it her actual lips were smiling?

It could be I’m getting a bit cranky. Aside from the continuous onslaught of contentious news coming across the air waves every time I turn on the TV or open the Internet, nothing feels “normal” anymore. I’m starting to think I need a nice long vacation somewhere deliciously tropical with warm white sands and sparkling azure water. Ahhhhhhh.

I’ve heard mental health issues are becoming more common, along with divorce, abuse, and addiction. Usually I am the one digging through the pile of horse manure looking for the horse, but I have to say even I have trouble lately keeping my attitude and outlook upbeat and positive. Also one doesn’t want to appear too perky. I’m afraid if I go bouncing about sprinkling fairy dust as I go someone might step up and clock me over the head with a blunt object.

Yesterday I went to my primary care doctor who in turn is passing me on to a specialist. I have a deviated septum. This is not new news. I have lived with the condition a good portion of my life. When I was sixteen I was playing baseball in the street with a group of friends. Often on a summer afternoon we gathered in front of our apartment complex to hit a ball or two. I was catcher on that particular day, and hunched down to catch the next pitch. A beautiful red Corvette convertible picked that moment to drive by with a very attractive guy behind the wheel. Instead of concentrating on the incoming fast ball, I stood up as the batter took a swing and ate the bat right in the proboscus. Knocked me cold as a wedge, fortunately it missed my teeth and my jaw. My mother whisked me off to the emergency room where they packed both nostrils with what seemed like a hundred yards of gauze and sent me home to recover. The next morning both eyes were totally blacked and my nose has never been totally straight since that day. The bend has created breathing issues on one side where it is now blocking the flow of air. That being said, they are thinking I should have surgery. Probably the last place I’m thinking I’d like to find myself right now is in a hospital with all the germs floating about but we shall see what the specialist has to say and go from there.

Got to say this year just keeps making me smile. I definitely am thinking “big lottery win” to get me to that gorgeous desert island for a few weeks of R&R.

Have a safe and fun holiday weekend.

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Since 2020 is turning out to be such a, shall we say, interesting year, I got to wondering what Nostradamus had to say about it. Apparently he was in the universe’s ear long before events began to unfold noting 2020 as the end the beginning of a lot of major happenings in the world. According to those who have interpreted his writings, a third world war is a possibility during this 365 days. Whew. Really? That’s about the only thing we’ve left out. Climate change was mentioned, including the oceans rising. Some will say climate change falls under the same category as Big Foot, but the truth is the ice caps are in fact melting and we here in California are now enjoying twice as many fire danger days as we have in previous years. The surface temperature of the ocean continues to rise, tropical storms are on the march, snow cover is reduced, and snow is melting earlier than before. Glacier Park has only 25 glaciers remaining from what was originally 150. One can only stick one’s head in the ground for so long without coming up for air, and with the rate we humans are shrinking the rain forests air may not be an option by the time we decide to pull our heads out and take a look around.

My oldest granddaughter, Breanna, is a vegan. Bre eats nothing, as she puts it, “that has parents”. Though I am a meat eater of long standing I highly respect her decision to leave as light a footprint on our world as possible. Unfortunately, her grandmother’s closet addiction to cheeseburgers keeps me from standing shoulder to shoulder with her in this cause.

With the sky outside tinged an unsettling shade of pink it is difficult to find normal ground. This is not my first pink summer here in sunny California. When I lived in Oroville some years back we endured months of smoky skies and pink tinged sunsets.

This morning the weather anchor announced there were two hurricanes moving into the Gulf Coast. This, so she said, was a phenomena she had never experienced in her career before. Wish some of that rain would move to the west and douse our burning behinds, but guess Mother Nature has her own agenda.

Makes me yearn for a road trip. In my early twenties my first husband and I took a trip across the U.S. and Canada lasting just under a year. My two children were two and three at the time, and though unaware of the adventure they were having, they loved being along for the ride. The trip began in Sunnyvale, California and culminated in Lynn, Massachusetts. During that trip we visited a good portion of the states sandwiched in between the west and east coast as well as detouring up through several of the Canadian provinces when the opportunity to do so arose. Our goal? I don’t think we had a goal. Most probably we would have kept on going when we arrived in Lynn but for the fact we had depleted our funds to a rather alarming point, and the weather was beginning to lean towards fall and it was time to come in from the cold and lay down some deeper roots for our children.

Our first home, if you will, in Massachusetts was a walk-up apartment on the third floor of an old and someone dilapidated apartment building known simply by locals as The Yale. Before we has set out we sold or gave away our household goods and belongings. Anything extra went into a small storage unit which we never returned to. We had brought no furniture to speak of other than a card table and a couple of folding chairs. To say we were traveling light would have been an understatement. Four sleeping bags provided us with some cushion from the linoleum floor in the apartment, but not much. Even as young as we were, stiff bones were often the status quo each morning when first we opened our eyes.

There was a second hand store down the block where we decided to do our first shopping. Faded jeans, shorts and tennies were our choice of dress on the road but the prospect of getting jobs loomed on the horizon and we had to move up a couple of notches from there the style book in order to begin interviewing. Back then women were expected to wear dresses, hose and heels to work. Casual Friday hadn’t been implemented in businesses as yet, and “pants suits” were just beginning to show up on design books for the upcoming season. Hated pantsuits. Polyester nightmares. A blazer with matching pants that once worn for more than fifteen minutes sagged in the rear and at the knees, and generally were geared to be as unflattering to your figure as possible. Men actually wore them too. I remember my mother bringing home a “salmon” colored pantsuit for my step-father. This was paired with a pair of white patent leather shoes and matching belt topped by a multi-colored silk shirt with three buttons flared open to reveal chest hair and a medallion. The man was a middle school principal but this outfit virtually screamed “pimp”.

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At any rate we carefully chose some “work clothes” from the gently used section to wear as we began our job search. There wasn’t much money to carry us until one or the other brought home a paycheck, so we lived quite frugally that month. As the days passed, the floor seemed to be actually getting harder as we lay down to sleep each night. One weekend after my husband had gotten an invitation to begin work for a firm in Boston in a week, we decided to take a day trip to New Hampshire and take in some of the glorious fall scenery only New England has to offer. Our car was an old yellow Ford station wagon. Younger readers are shaking their heads, “station wagon”, Que es? The back seat flattened out (much like an SUV) so there was room to store something large or simply stretch out. Driving along rural highways the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. Never have I seen such vibrant colors in the leaves. Feeling a slight crick in my lower back I commented to my husband I surely wish we could afford a mattress. He promised once we got settled somewhere, new beds for all would be at the top of our list. Not ten minutes later, a large flat bed truck pulled onto the highway in front of us. The bed of the truck was stacked high with mattresses each covered with heavy plastic. The top layer wobbled precariously just above the last slat of wood holding them in place. Noting what a funny coincidence it was to have a mattress truck in front of us when I’d just wished for one, the very top mattress got a good gust of wind under it and lifted up and over the top slat landing in the ditch at the side of the road. Hello? We honked the horn but the driver kept on driving down the road and off into the distance. I suggested perhaps we could catch up to them but instead we pulled over to the side and sat quietly. Now I knew what the thought process was going on under that gorgeous head of curly hair my husband had been gifted with. Had I not after all wished for this mattress? Was it right to turn down such a gift? HOLD ON. This was not a gift it was a mattress that belonged to someone else sitting in a ditch at the side of the road. Hmmmm. Moral dilemma. So, we decided to go have lunch on down the road and if on the way back should the mattress still lay in the ditch abandoned we would offer it a home. It would be more like a rescue mission. Done and done. Three hours later and much moral argument come and gone, we once again pulled over to the side of the road. The mattress, little the worse for wear, still lay in the spot it had landed with one tear in the side and a flapping piece of plastic to mark the spot. Convinced this was a godsend (by ourselves naturally) we hopped out of the car and began to load the ill gotten gains in through the tailgate. Out of nowhere another car rose up over the hill and pulled up directly behind us. Ach. My mind is yelling, “I told you. The jig is up. You’re going to the big house.” A man stepped out of the drivers side and walked up to where we are standing. I am literally doing everything but giving myself up for the gum I stole in third grade from the corner store. The man introduced himself and offered to help my husband with the mattress. Appeared he too was from California and had noticed our plates. My bladder was willing itself to hold on. I knew on that day I would never be Bonnie to anyone’s Clyde. The mattress, however, did turn out to be a blessing. My little ones were up off the floor and in the next few months we moved into a house on the lake and new beds were bought for all. We kept that mattress for years after that. It was sort of our good luck charm.

Life often steps up to the plate when you’ve just delivered strike two. I always liked that story even if it did involve a little light fingered larceny.

With everything going on outside it made me smile to remember that crisp fall day and the mattress from the gods. My husband used to call this talent for thinking about something and having it materialize “wishcraft”. That being said, I am wishing for clear blue skies and fresh air. Sending it out.

To put emphasis on the amount of stress induced energy I’ve expended over the past several weeks, I woke up this morning and ran a brush through my hair to look down and find a clump of blonde hair with long gray roots visible in the palm of my hand. Stress can take you down. Certainly in my life there’s been a fair share of it. I always wondered if perhaps I got my share and somebody else’s accidentally slopped over onto it as well. I’m sure there are many people who have had far more to deal with than I have, but when it all piles up in a big floppy mess it begins to feel a tad overwhelming.

Where do I begin? Two days ago a friend of mine and I were about to enjoy breakfast together at my house. I had no sooner served up the plates than a call came in on my house phone. An evacuation order had been issued for residents on my street due to an active fire somewhere in the area. I often say it, but it is so, so true, life has the propensity to change in an instant. There are no forevers, or for sures in life. The only for sure I can think of is the statement I just made.

As we were grabbing things to throw in the car a knock at the door by a member of the police department signaled we needed to get moving. The cat, sensitive to the upswing in activity in the house, had ensconced herself in the far corner beneath the bed. Let me preface this paragraph by saying I am usually the “level head” in an emergency. There have been a lot of fires in my life (literally not figuratively) and I have learned if you approach an emergency in a logical and methodical way, it serves you better than running around in circles screaming call 9-1-1 until you pass out in a puddle of your own making. Yesterday, however, I tore the page describing logic and methodical thinking right out of my play book, and completely had a melt down. My kitty has been my right hand girl since Rick died. Miss Boo and I have shared many a sleepless night, and memory laden day together weaving our way through the grief process. No way, would I ever leave her furry butt behind, and she just wasn’t coming on the journey by handing me her paw and hopping in her crate. Finally, thank God, the universe, and whoever you thank for such miracles, the cat popped out from under the bed and was unceremoniously tucked in her carry all. Breathe, Susie.

Grabbing what we could, we threw things in the trunk of my car. Formulating a quick plan we determined it safer to leave his truck behind and leave together. Piling his dog, Miss Boo, medications, laptops and cell phones one on top of the other in the back seat, I went up and locked the door to the house and got in the car. I stopped for one long look at my little house before turning away. Just last week ago I had put the finishing touches on my decorating by adding a new dining room table to the mix. I haven’t even served my first meal on it yet. You realize quickly when something like this happens to you, what is really important. The people, animals and things I needed to be in the car for me to drive away were all accounted for.

I have to thank my neighbors, and when this is over I will do so formally, for stopping by to check on me and make sure I knew what was going on or see if I needed any help. Taking care of others during everything happening in our world at the moment is right up there with taking care of you and yours. Personally I think doing this will heal what’s ailing our world far more than anything developed in a lab.

About an hour after we were safe and gone, my landlord texted me to say the fire department had gotten the fire under control. Apparently it was started by a car going over an embankment into some dry brush. Thank God, truly. Back we went with Miss Boo singing a victory song all the way down the hill. The cat does not do well with any creature discomfort.

Once home, my friend decided to stay with me the rest of the week. With the record heat wave blazing California in all ways it was a comforting to know someone would be around. The house was hot on our return. The predicted high temperature was to be 110, and the thermometer in the hall was reading 88. Whew. I contacted my landlord to say the A/C wasn’t working at all. They were aware it was limping along, and had ordered a part a few days prior that hadn’t arrived yet. She told me to hang in there. K. By 5:00 p.m. with the heat of the day beating down on the roof the thermometer had climbed two more degrees. The cat and dog were both beginning to pant, and I can’t say for sure but I believe I saw my friend’s tongue out a time or two as well. I tried to secure a hotel room in the area but refugees from the fire up on the hill about an hour from us were dribbling downhill and there were no rooms available. Swell. Finally at 10:30 the landlord brought us a portable A/C unit which I am happily sitting in front of a the moment enjoying the delicious cool air it is producing.

Smoke has filled our atmosphere outside with the sky an eerie pinkish color and the air biting and acrid. Ash has rained across the yard, and I will say once again if the Four Horseman rode on by I probably wouldn’t even notice their passing.

My friend brought me an air purifier which is helping my asthma hold on. Sometimes you just have to let go and let the universe take the COM. For now, I am enjoying a much needed moment of cool, calm, quiet.

Please pray for all those people in active fire zones or send them energy or whatever your belief might be. Trust me it is a scary and earth changing experience to be yanked from your home and not know if it will be there when you return.

So today my mind is filled with images of cool sand and tropical beaches and lots of grateful thankful thoughts. Stay safe.

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