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Here we are perched on the lip of another election year waiting to be swallowed whole. The usual onslaught of mean spirited ads already populating prime time slots only promise to increase in ugliness as voting time draws near. Male against female, democrat versus republican, conservative swatting at liberal, and none of them playing well with others. Throw all this in the pot with the impeachment trial looming on the horizon and you have a really unappetizing stew.

It is idealistic at best to think we’re all going to get along. History tells us we do not get along with each other as a general rule. This began in prehistoric times with one tribe member bashing another over the head over a hunk of raw meat, and has expanded to entire nations going to the mat over land, resources, or religious division. Each faction believes theirs is the best way to do things, their needs the most critical, their skin color the most desirable, their method of operation the most efficient, etc. etc. Wars do not erupt because people are seeing eye to eye. It would be nice, however, to occasionally strike a harmonious note. Just for a change of pace.

Interestingly people seem to come together at their highest level when the situation is dire. In an emergency the issues of race, religion, political bent, or social status seems to disappear in the mist and in many cases people work together toward a united goal. Too bad we have to wait for disaster to find this common ground.

Last weekend I watched the movie Thirteen Weeks for the first time. The central plot revolves around the Cuban missile crisis. Too young at the time to realize how close we came to going to war with Russia, I do recall teachers putting us through bomb drills.  We would practice crouching under our desks with our hands over our heads. This apparently was to be our defense in the event a nuclear weapon was hurling towards us through space programed for our exact coordinates. Really? This would do what exactly? We wouldn’t see it coming? Several families in my town had bomb shelters built as an added precaution. These cement structures were fully stocked and ready to roll should an invasion become imminent. From what I understand fallout remains in the air at a toxic level for about two weeks so that seemed like a viable way to go or at least it did back in the day. Perhaps not having wars or setting off bombs might be a better solution, but those are just my thoughts on the subject. Sounds simplistic but in actual fact that would be the cure for the disease.

During a conversation with one of my Canadian cousins last week she mentioned she had been terrified the first time she ventured into the states. To their minds we are gun toting outlaws something like those who existed in the Wild West. According to her she thought everyone is the U.S. was “packing heat”, so to speak, with concealed weapons more common then sneezes in a flu ward. It is true, if indeed my facts are correct, U.S. citizens are the most armed of any nation in the world. Whether or not you are more likely to be “packing” might depend on any number of factors. Where you live perhaps, what you do, or even how comfortable your family unit is having weaponry on the premises.

For example, David, my ex-husband is from Texas. People hailing from those parts are not a group known for voting against the NRA. For many of them weapons are a way of life. Early on David was taught by the older members of his household to respect the guns in the house and how to safely use them. The man was Texan from the top of his Stetson hat down to the heels of his scuffed cowboy boots. That being said, his choice of transportation was naturally an old Ford pick-up. The failing work horse was his baby. They shared many a weekend with David lying on his back on the driveway or bending over under the hood trying to keep the car on the road. Forgive me, truck, not car. I was called to task frequently for referring to his vehicle as such. Apparently in Texas this could be a shooting offense. Physically it had also seen better days. The paint job had long faded from a bright factory yellow to a faded buttermilk with spots of rust peeking through here and there.  The window on the driver’s side door was missing replaced during rainy months with a 33 gallon trash bag to keep the driver dry. A gun rack hung in the back window next to a picture of the American flag and his rear bumper sported a sticker reading “Honk again I’m reloading”. Believe that says it all.

When he went on the night shift leaving me to fend for myself after dark, he suggested getting a pistol for my protection. I voted no. I did not grow up around weapons. Nova Scotia is well known for its hunting areas. Often during hunting season I would hear the distant sound of gunshots. Certainly I wasn’t harboring the assumption hunters chased down their prey then asked the animal politely to sacrifice themselves so they’d have something to hang over the mantel. However, no one in my circle had a gun or hunted so I had never seen a gun of any kind. Truth be known guns scare the bikini underwear off me and I never had any interest on being on either end of one of them.

My lack of enthusiasm having been registered and vetoed, he purchased a gun anyhow. Don’t ask me what type it was but semi-automatic handgun would be a safe description. You had to pull the “thing” back to “chamber” a bullet. Don’t ask me to name the thing, I didn’t want too much information in case an interrogation lurked in my future. The gun was too stiff for me to chamber the bullet so he concentrated on teaching me to aim and shoot it. After nearly taking out the wall in the garage and an unsuspecting neighbor’s cat the decision came about that he would load the gun, leave the safety on and show me how to remove same should an intruder be in the house. Great. I left it under the night table fully aware if I ever had use it most likely by the time I remembered how to remove the safety and aim it I would either be overrun by the intruder or most probably have shot myself in the foot.

One night about a month into my gun ownership I woke to hear a loud banging in the back yard. My dog was barking and madly scratching at the sliding glass door in the kitchen. Slowly I crept out of bed retrieving my weapon from under the night stand and made my way to the kitchen. Heart pounding at an amazing rate I took off the safety and flung the drapes back on the window. Flicking the light on I yelled, “I have a gun and I’m not afraid to use it”. The light flooded the patio illuminating the culprit now clearly visible standing by the barbecue. A large possum had it’s head caught in the drip can (a tin can used for catching grease) and was frantically trying to smack it off by beating against the foot of the grill. Poor little guy. They’re already nearly blind as it is and having a No. 10 can of creamed corn covering his head surely wasn’t improving the situation. Gently placing the gun back in it’s hiding place I went out to see if I could help. Possums are not known for their sunny dispositions when it comes to interacting with humans. Before coming outside I pulled on David’s heavy industrial gloves which covered my arms to my elbows.  A lot of writhing and growling ensued before I was able to free him or her with the help of a long handled fork (my weapon of choice). After that I insisted the gun find another home and never saw it again. Not any worse off for it I assure you and the possum too. That possum was lucky that the inside of that corn can wasn’t the last thing he saw before I blew him and the precious barbecue into the atmospheric continuum undoubtedly shooting myself in the foot in the process.

I’m sure gun laws will be bounced around in this election year. I’m on the fence about this. I believe this can be a dangerous world and if someone with malignant intentions was threatening me or mine I like to think I could react in kind. However, I see absolutely no reason for hunters to be armed with automatic weapons to shoot a poor deer. The need for these high powered guns escapes me. Probably if I had to shoot anything I’d become a vegan. Easy to hide behind a plastic wrapper in Raley’s meat department. While living in Arkansas I saw David field dress a deer. No he was not picking out a nice billowy cotton sheath for the poor animal to wear, he was removing its entrails to keep the meat from spoiling. Warning this is not a procedure I suggest you observe if you are planning on eating meat or anything else really for the next couple of weeks. One of the younger men lost his lunch on his blue tick hound while watching and I thought seriously about joining him. As David would say, “Texas is hard on women and dogs”. He had great respect for the animal and though I am not fond of venison he made a lasagna using the meat that was actually delicious.

Perhaps my thought for today is to think before you react. We’re all in this together. It doesn’t make it any easier when we can’t work as a team. Reminds me of being in a row boat with eight people each trying to row in a different direction, highly frustrating and doesn’t get you closer to shore. Have a great one!

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Recently I spent the weekend with a dear friend of mine in the San Jose area. Packing the car it seemed there were an excessive amount of bags for a three day trip. Starting to think I’d have to rent a trailer, I called her jokingly suggesting she add a wing to her house before my arrival to accommodate the load. In my defense we share different tastes, so extra items had been added to my list of usual personal carryalongs. My preference in bread is wheat, she prefers sourdough. Thus, a loaf of wheat bread was tucked in a bag along with various snacks like my Salt and Vinegar Pringles, an absolute necessity for any decent road trip. A couple of honey crisp apples were included for an afternoon pick me up as my pal is not a fan of fruit and I can’t leave home without it. Since she drinks only tea, it became clear a coffee maker would be necessary if I was to provide adequate company. Naturally, if I included the coffee maker I’d need coffee, filters, and creamer. My landlords were peeking through their drapes as I went back and forth from the house to the car most likely wondering if I was moving out. Surely I could have gone three days without my early morning cup of Joe, but as we age the patterns we’ve established during our lives become more firmly etched in our personalities and in my case the word coffee is emblazoned across my forehead.

We all have certain indefinable traits stuck to us like a bug to flypaper. If you asked my family to describe me they might choose any number of adjectives (some I can’t use here), but they might also include neat. Piles of papers stacked around, or layers of unaddressed dust make me twitchy. Most likely this trait was passed down from my mother, and will be one I’ll carry though to the end. Mum is neat to the point of obsessive. When in the hospital for her fractured hip, dementia or no dementia, she still sat in the bed and folded everything she could get her hands on from bed pads to extra paper towels and placed them neatly in her drawers. That need for tidiness surpassed all the misfiring pistons in her memory center because it is part of the core of her being.

Over the past year with only Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, and I in residence I have probably begun to establish a sort of loose schedule of my own. At around 5:30 you could lay some safe money on finding me seated on my couch with the cat stretched out beside me, cup of decaf in hand, watching David Muir detail what is happening in the world. I usually put a plate in front of me around 6:00 and begin getting ready for bed around 9:00. Not really set in my ways yet but setting the stage for what could be described as that at some juncture further on down the road.

Several of my single friends, both single for many years, tell me they are so set in their ways they cannot imagine anymore having someone else under their roof. I can not only imagine it, but hope the universe chooses to direct my life towards another relationship when the time is ready.  I enjoy sharing my life with someone and waking up in the morning to a loving face over coffee. I just do, but that is me. Each of us plots our own course (to whatever control we have). It has only been a year and a half since Rick passed. For now, I am definitely not ready to share space with anyone new on anything other than a casual basis.

Companions come in many forms. Some people get roommates, others like myself enjoy a furry friend to hang with, and perhaps some people find contentment looking at a tank filled with fish. I do wish our pets had a longer time on earth, but the plan didn’t include that and I don’t know where to find the suggestion box. Earlier a friend called to tell me his old dog had passed away. Feeling his pain, as I have some experience saying goodbye to beloved animals, I did my best to provide something by way of comfort. Love comes with a price no matter who the love is bestowed upon. Another friend told me recently she didn’t want any more animals because losing them is too painful. I feel differently about this. For me they give us so much of themselves and provide such comfort I think as hard as it is to let them go I will always choose to have them near for whatever time I am allotted. My animals have often been with me well into their senior years. I feel blessed for that. Kitty, the oldest of my many felines, was twenty-one when I had to have her put down. Over the years she traveled all across country with my ex-husband and I. Settling herself in the back window of the car she took turns sleeping or sitting watching as the states passed by beyond the glass. When she needed out she let us know with a distinct meow and we would pull over to allow her to do what she needed to do. I always say a little bit of Kitty has been left behind in nearly every state in the U.S. Truly she was a seasoned and excellent traveler and I will always treasure those crazy road trips with her and my Shih Zsu, Sushi, who said goodbye at seventeen. Lifelong companions, my heart likes to think of the two of them walking along together wherever wonderful animals go and I’m always thankful for them gracing my life for the time they were here.Even though in the physical sense people or animals no longer populate our lives, their “beings” and lingering presence always remain close by. This, at least for me, provides much peace.

While down in the Bay Area I grabbed the opportunity to visit an old friend diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. This was a very personal visit for me because it was Rick’s diagnosis as well, and Ruth, my friend, is a dear and lovely human being. Last I saw her she was a robust healthy lady who avidly pursued a tennis ball every weekend with her tennis club and sang in the community choir. Always Ruth struggled with her weight but I’d been forewarned the disease had reduced her to a much smaller version of herself. In my grief group they stress putting on your game face when visiting someone who is terminally ill. The person you know rests inside the shell but sometimes the disease can redraw your image of them. Certainly in Ruth’s case the bone thin woman who answered the door looked little like the friend I remembered. Sitting with her for several hours I forgot completely about the physical change rather being amazed at her upbeat attitude and the light that shone on her skin and in her beautiful blue eyes. We shared memories and pictures before it was time to go. Hugging her as I was going out the door my body was instantly covered with goosebumps head to toe. Pulling back she felt it too. “Someone is here”, she said softly. The heightened energy sort of hung in the air between us. Perhaps one of our friends already gone ahead had returned to take her hand to guide her to next adventure? Who knows? Certainly not I, but I would like to think it so.

With life coming in and going out I try to be in the present. Embracing this concept is sometimes a struggle for me. Naturally, I believe our minds drift to past mistakes, or wander into the misty unknowns of what is in store for us tomorrow or next week. Since the past will remain unchanged and the future is yet to be written, it would seem the only logical course would be to make the most of the moment you are presently inhabiting.

My thoughts on this gray day in Northern California. Make it a good one.

 

 

20/20

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Read an article this morning warning prescription drug prices are going up again. Really? You mean they haven’t already hit the ceiling? I have basic coverage, gap coverage, and drug coverage which I pay dearly for. With all that you’d think I’d be covered for anything short of a nuclear holocaust. Yet, when I arrive at the prescription counter I get charged if the medication I have been prescribed is not on a tier my plan pays for. When I filled a prescription last year for an asthma inhaler I have been using for some time it had gone up from $47 from my previous refill to $97. When I asked why, the pharmacy assistant shrugged. ?? Que es shrug? What if I didn’t have $97, should I just breathe less? Possibly I could breathe more slowly to conserve oxygen? What do people do who simply cannot pay these prices? Die? This is so wrong to me in a nation of plenty I seriously could break down a cardboard box, write something scathing across it to our lawmakers, crazy glue it to a stick and march in front of the capital building. Why are we as consumers so apathetic? I’m as guilty as the next person. The last topical medication prescribed by my dermatologist came in at a whopping $298.00. Did I say, “no, I will not pay that ridiculous amount”? I did not, because I needed the medication to manage the problem with my skin and there was no generic option available. What the answer to this is I have no clue, but if it is true only 1% of the Americans are holding onto the money in this illustrious country of ours I can’t help but feel many Americans are going to feel the pinch of this increase.

Ahhhh, thank you for letting off steam. Wouldn’t want you to see my face emblazoned across the screen on the five o’clock news. Crazed blonde attacks pharmacist with cardboad sign. Film at eleven. 

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Over the weekend I took a little time off from everything and turned my car towards the Bay Area. It was only for a few days R&R at a friend’s house but I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to change the scenery for a bit. Her home perches on the precipice of a lower foothill peak offering up a view of the entire San Jose area. During the day you oversee the valley below packed tightly with office buildings and homes then as night falls it transforms into what appears to be an endless blanket of glistening stars. The property is replete with fruit trees heavily populated with morning doves as well as the most prolific population of hummingbirds I have yet to see. A glorious place to unwind and dust off the cobwebs. She shares her digs with two of the cutest little furry creatures, Mali and Phoebe, both Yorkshire terriers who took to me like honey to a muffin. If it wasn’t for the fact that dogs require so much more attention than cats, I would have to own one of my own. For a small breed they were not the least yippy as I might have suspected. Never heard anything out of them beyond a polite “ruff” when it was time for a treat. Phoebe, the elder and larger of the duo, is seven and a rescue. Mali, a breeder pup, weighs in at a little under three pounds, is three years old and holds to the opinion the house belongs to her as well as all the attention. The two of them kept me really entertained while I was visiting.

As usual my trip was not without mishap. I broke down and got new glasses over the holidays.  I have had to have them replaced twice due to defects in the makeup of the delicate frames. According to the optometrist rimless frames such as these are a nightmare for their profession. Sometimes beautiful fragile things are lovely to look at but difficult to possess. Perhaps someone should have mentioned that before I paid for them rather than after, yes? At any rate, I picked up the third pair last week. While adjusting them the optometrist said “three’s a charm”. Not so fast. Sigh. Before I pull the covers over my head I usually read a few chapters out of whatever book I am in the middle of. My room while visiting was her sewing room furnished with a couch hiding an amazingly comfortable bed already folded out and ready for me to hop into.  Apparently I dozed off glasses in place. Somewhere in the night either I took them off placing them on the carpet or they fell off the bed while I was doing what Rick referred to as my breaching while asleep. I woke up before the sun. The room was pitch dark so I fumbled for the light switch which I couldn’t locate. Swinging my legs over the side and planting my feet firmly on the ground I heard an unpleasant crunch. Damn. Having honed stupid accidents to a fine point I managed to annihilate not one but both lenses while wrenching off one arm. The patient, shall we say, was terminal. Thankfully it was on the day I was leaving so at least I had them while I was there. However, there was the problem of driving home without them. Before my cataract surgery that would have been tantamount to handing Mr. Magoo the keys but thanks to the wonders of laser surgery I can see well, not perfectly, but well without my glasses. Sooooooooo back I went yesterday to order the fourth pair. Note to self, “Never Order Rimless Frames Again”. Done and done.

In spite of the vision issues the drive home was glorious. The route I took snaked around the Sacramento Delta taking me across two drawbridges before I merged back on to Interstate 5. Sometimes I find it so soul soothing driving along on a bright sunny day with no agenda in mind other than getting home whenever the car pulls into the driveway.  Seems like I’m often going full to the floor so I took advantage of the quiet time not pressing down too hard on the accelerator.

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The year has begun in a flurry of activity and this month promises to carry that baton to the finish line. Three trips out of town are written on the calendar. My pet sitter will be able to take a trip of her own once I’m done paying her to watch Miss Boo. I always feel guilty leaving my feline best buddy. When Rick was alive I often went on these side trips solo so he was there to man the fort and provide company for her nibs while I was absent. These days Boo and I are batching it and since she is an abysmal traveling companion, pet sitting it must be for the time being.

In keeping with my vision issues I went to the doctor this morning to get my eyes examined. Been having some night vision problems. Coming from a doctor’s family you’d think I’d be better about personal maintenance, but when it comes to me I seem to have a habit of putting things off. It’s not that this type of appointment generally involves any pain of note but I just hate getting my eyes dilated. I am particularly susceptible to the drops they use and end up having eyes with a yellow tinge to the whites and pupils huge and totally black, an effect which can last for hours. Today was no exception. On the way out they hand you a pair of plastic dark lenses to slip behind your glasses because as well as looking like a cat from the underworld your eye or eyes become highly sensitive to light. Stepping out into the morning sun I groped around for my keys in my purse and once seated in my car gauged if I felt I was safe to pilot it.  This assessment was really kind of a moot point because unless I’d brought a lunch and a couple of bottles of water I was going do just that or sit in the car for twelve hours waiting for my pupils to return to normal.

The moment I stepped in the door the phone rang. It was my mother’s caregiver telling me my mom had a respiratory bug and I needed to take her to the doctor. I just drove half blind from close to where she lives so this was not the best news. So 2020 begins with a bang. I shall get my pedaling shoes out and hop on. Let’s see where the path takes me, well, once I can again see where the path takes me.

 

What a trip

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Well now we’ve stepped in it, 2020 I mean. Here we are in a brand spanking new decade with the days laid out in front of us pristine and untouched. Such a heady feeling. Can’t hide my curiosity about what 2020 will bring. Diligently I try to keep my thoughts focused on the journey rather than concentrating on the outcome. Sometimes I have to admit I fight an overwhelming urge to skim to the back of the book and see how the story has unfolded. This is not for us to know, of course, only to speculate. Would I open an envelope if I knew the outcome was concealed inside? Probably not, but I can’t help but wonder how the heroine makes out towards the end of the story.

A new year with new discoveries. What new technological breakthroughs will we enjoy this decade? Someone with a bright and curious mind is sitting somewhere as I write this hatching an idea destined to change the way we do things in the future. There will always be that group of forward thinkers able to conceptualize what isn’t and bring it into what is. Thank God for these creative motivated people or we’d all still be sitting in the dark whacking each other over the head with wooden clubs or, God forbid, be functioning in our offices without Post-it Notes.

Interesting to imagine further down the road what our world will look like at the end of this decade. 2030. Seems inconceivable. Will hovercrafts be floating around overhead, perhaps a manned mars expedition, an alien sighting, androids in the workplace or at home, or phones implanted in our ears at birth? The latter is almost here I feel, as most people I know maintain a deeper and more meaningful relationship with their phones then they share with their spouses or life partners. I have a friend who misplaced his IPhone the other day and nearly broke down in tears when he finally located behind the tissue box in the bathroom. You’d have thought his child had gone missing. This attachment I have to say baffles me, but I am also working on not judging this year so I will table that conversation for another day. It is so much easier to see other people’s flaws I find then to identify my own.

I plan to stray off the path a little this year. Life is too short to maintain the same course for the entire trip. Definitely I have a list of places I want to see. I do wish the powers that be would move my travel paperwork along but they seem to be following that government snail path that any form they issue has to adhere to so I may have to be carried by litter by the time my replacement card arrives.

Our littlest member, Zeppelin, now a year and three months, has discovered that his legs as well as bending in the middle will also support him when erect. This has led to much exploration on his part and added a new wrinkle to his parents and grandparents life. Up until the time they walk little ones are limited by the space they occupy unless transported by another human being. Once they figure out how to make this happen for themselves their world expands to everything they can reach, throw, insert in their mouths, or disassemble. Constantly I am amazed, however, at his sweet disposition and endless curiosity about the world around him. Each day is full of new information for him to process and new things to see. Childhood truly is, or can be, a wondrous experience which little beings are kind enough to share with the adults in their arena so we can revisit it once again ourselves. I shall find it fascinating to watch his progression as the decade moves forward.

Seems hard to believe a year and a half has gone by since Rick passed. Funny how slowly the time seems to move when you are young and yet as you age it seems to disappear in an instant. My mind is still going through the grief brain period when it gets muddled at times and a bit overwhelmed. Add this to the sheer fact that this brain has been processing information for some years now, and I find myself doing some really dumb things of late. Day before yesterday I had to take Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, to the vet. For several days she had been sneezing, a behavior I had never seen from her before.  A vet visit requires precision planning as if the cat sees the carrier before I get her in it she will find a spot under the bed to plant herself and I will spend the next hour or two on my knees trying to coax her out of there.  That morning I retrieved the carrier and left it on the top step outside the back door. I checked to see where the cat was and found her in her usual napping spot on the pillow at the end of the bed. Stealthily I picked up the carrier and entered the door quietly. The only flaw in this plan was that I’d forgotten I’d left a brand new bag of cat litter on the floor by the cat box. Whoops. Tripping over the bag and unable to get my footing I face planted in the middle of the kitchen floor throwing the carrier into the bedroom with a huge crash where Boo made her exit stage right. Game over. Thankfully as God takes care of drunks and fools (I rarely drink but considered it at that moment), I was uninjured.

That same day I was making a meatloaf for guests coming over for dinner. It was one of those days where the clock got away from me and I found myself throwing ingredients in a bowl at the last minute. Naturally, I was short a half a pound of meat so I washed my hands and left the bowl with the dry ingredients on the counter and headed for the store. While at the check out counter I noticed my bracelet with “Fearless” printed across the band was not on my wrist. Not an expensive piece of jewelry certainly but I wear it every day. For me it is significant in my healing process by way of an affirmation reminding me I can handle whatever comes along. I retraced my steps in the store to no avail so stopped to ask the customer service clerk if she could contact me if she found it on my way out. Feeling sad I came home and tossed the remaining meat on top of the other ingredients. Moving my sleeves up my arm I began to knead and squeeze to get everything well blended. Placing the loaf in my loaf pan I noticed something protruding from the top. On closer inspection I saw a silver object with the letters “arle” visible on it. Mystery solved. Could have been worse I could have served the bracelet to my guests cooked in the meatloaf. That would have been a conversation starter. Maybe I could have passed it off like the baby in the cake in New Orleans. How I do these things I have no explanation. If Rick was here he would say, “you need to sloooooooow down”. Probably had a point.

So as we begin this new year my plan is to sloooooooow down, stop and smell the roses, look before I leap, and generally take some long deep breaths and enjoy the moment I am in. Happy New Year to all.

funny planking

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We are smack in the middle of no-man’s land, how I refer to the days spanning the gap between Christmas and New Years. All the hype and excitement of Thanksgiving and Christmas are behind us for another year. Turkey has been eaten, gifts have been exchanged, family has come and often gone, and life has once again has begun to settle back into the routine it held prior to Halloween.

One holiday, or really two if you count New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, remains on the calendar. New Year’s Eve has never made a good memory for me, finding me either nursing a champagne head over eggs Benedict at some pricey hotel affair or simply ensconced in general catastrophe. Even if I was thinking about making plans they would definitely include an Uber driver. People get crazy on the roads, downing alcohol like the drink in front of them will be the last alcoholic beverage to be served to them before their demise. Because of this track record, I prefer to stay home hunkered down with whatever the TV offerings might be allowing the new year to show up without giving it much fanfare. This year, however, marks not only the last gasp for 2019 and the first breath for 2020 but the entrance into a new decade. No matter how festive this might be, this time of year is remains an introspective period for me. I find I don’t know quite what to do with myself. This is an unusual and rather unsettling state of being for me as I am a person who is rarely lacking in ways to occupy my time.  It is not that there aren’t twenty things I could entertain myself doing or many things needing my attention, it’s just that I don’t seem to want to do any of them. The after Christmas let down as the last of the Christmas ornaments are boxed up and returned to the shed, and the twinkling lights no longer decorate the eaves of the house contributes to his state of malaise, I would suppose. Sometimes I wish we could just leave the tree up all year. Perhaps though, if we were to enjoy Christmas year round it wouldn’t hold the enchantment it does when visiting us only once.

As I’ve mentioned my tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving barring war or pestilence, and comes back down the day after Christmas unless I am being held captive by a rogue band of aliens. Along with the many other little nuances of personality continuing to show up, being unable to tolerate looking at the decorations any more than one day past Christmas can be added to the list. Don’t ask me why. Faulty wiring most probably. Why not? I blame my wiring for everything else I can’t explain about me. Books will be written.

Along with my gifts from Santa I got a cold. Remind me to write him a thank you. That’s what I get for eating his cookies before I went to bed. It is one of those colds that doesn’t leave you tucked under the covers in bed surrounded by a field of used Kleenex but rather one of those sapping all your energy and leaving your nose looking like you’ve been dipping it in the deep fryer. Naturally I was going to a holiday party last evening. Well sort of a holiday football party. Fully suited in my 49er sweatshirt and hoodie I was determined to root my team on no matter what. I alerted my hosts I was harboring a bug, but they insisted I show up anyhow stating three fourths of the guests were dealing with something or other this time of year. I suggested I paint bugs on pieces of paper and tape them to the sufferers backs. That way the carriers would be obvious to those not yet afflicted and a safe distance could be maintained. She seemed to feel this was over the top since people frequent stores, church, have children (the little germ magnets), and families so are exposed to germs every time they leave the house. Okay, I tried. Turns out she was right. Tissue boxes were as prevalent as acne on teenagers with everyone happily incubating germs in their lovely warm house cheering our team to a tight and nerve wracking victory against the Seattle Seahawks. YAY.  Rick loved the 49ers. They were not making a great showing before he died but he sat in his chair and rooted them on every week. I’m sure he’s tap dancing on a cloud right night watching them go into the playoffs.

So, I turn my thoughts to the new year. I don’t make resolutions as a rule.  Instead I choose to set goals and make a personal promise to do my best to achieve them. Definitely getting a job would be at the top of my list.  Yes, yes perhaps the holiday season would have been the ideal time to pursue one. Nobody likes a nag. It’s not like I’m dragging my feet on this. Well, perhaps it’s exactly like I’m dragging my feet. It’s been a while and I’m getting riper by the day. Worries me about moving back into the work force as an older woman. Makes me feel a bit like the gray whiskered dog at the pet shop competing with all the puppies. My skills are still sharp, or I like to think they are, but I certainly cannot compete with younger candidates in the candles on my cake category. I will hold positive thoughts and believe in myself and get a JOB. There you go, my affirmation for the day.

I want to explore filling my days with new and interesting experiences. Fitness is on my mind. The thought hasn’t traveled to my limbs as yet nor to the hand that picks up my phone and calls the fitness center but it’s moving in that direction. Though I walk every day, my doctor tells me my bone density needs work so work out I must whether my mind is fully on board with the thought or not.

There are lessons to be learned from all that we experience in our lives. If nothing else from the last few years I have taken with me each day needs to be treated with respect. Life can change instantly and the time to take that trip, enroll in that course, or tell someone you love them is now. Sooooo, we take a tentative step into 2020. With all that is swirling around us in the news it should prove if nothing else to be an interesting one. See you in the new year. Have a safe holiday.

 

 

frozen-colorful-leaves-picture-quote-do-your-best-598pxThis morning I laid in bed and got to thinking about motives. Not the kind of motive such as why Sally stabbed Stan with a butcher knife when she found him with the au pair, but rather the underlying motives guiding our behavior in any given situation. I wonder if these motives are subconsciously driven or if we actually are aware of what we are doing and move forward anyhow.

This line of thought actually developed from a conversation between my hair dresser and myself yesterday. As I mentioned in a previous blog, many a world problem is solved while seated in a salon chair getting your roots retouched.  My hairdresser, Emily, is a lovely young woman in her mid thirties with three children. The oldest, and only girl, is ten. Ten is a tween age, not really a teen as yet but not a little girl. A difficult time when your body is changing and vulnerability is high. Children truly can be the cruelest beings. Many memories haunt me about being teased for being chubby as a child. One such incident, involving an insipid little sixth grader standing behind me in line to sharpen pencils, stands out in particular. While in line I took a step back nearly stepping on his foot. Reacting as if I had, he yelled loudly “Look out, fatso! If you stepped on me you’d squash me flat as a pancake!” Being a true scorpio at heart, I wanted badly to step on him, and step on him real hard. Then, after I had succeeded in squashing him flat as a pancake I would have enjoyed inserting his already pointy little head in the pencil sharpener. That, most likely, is a conversation best left for my therapist. Sharp tongues can wound as deeply as sharp objects, perhaps more deeply.

Emily went on to explain she and her husband are of Italian descent. It is not telling tales out of school I don’t believe to say some Italian’s can lean towards having more hair on their bodies. Why this is I have no clue but I have had Italian friends over the years who have dealt with waxing their upper lips and some, like this young lady, were blessed with dark hair on their legs. After numerous incidents involving teasing about hairy legs leaving her little girl in tears Emily purchased an electric shaver and the girl began to regularly shave her legs. This, thankfully gave the teasers no ammunition with which to arm their tongues causing the teasing to fizzle out. Amazingly though the taunting stopped, Emily was rebuked by other mothers in her circle saying the girl was too young for such a process. Really? Perhaps the issue isn’t whether she’s too young to shave her legs but rather that we as parents aren’t instilling the importance of kindness and respect for others in our offspring? I’m just saying.

Meanness is not reserved for the under twenty set. I have a dear friend who is painfully blunt, bordering on mean at times. One does not always have to say everything entering ones mind, even if it happens to be the truth. For example if asked if a pair of jeans are flattering when they are not might it not be better to reply, “I really like the black ones better, or they are not my favorite” rather than something like “they make your legs look like pier pilings”. There is a difference between being honest and being unkind. The phrase “brutally honest” comes to mind. I prefer being tactful when confronted with such a question.

The other day I took my mother out for lunch and shopping. Dementia, for those not dealing with it, slowly robs the sufferer of their short term memory essentially erasing the memory bank a piece at a time. In my mother’s case she won’t retain something I’ve told her five minutes ago but might remember with incredible clarity something that happened sixty years ago. Boundaries in the brain become blurred and behaviors you would expect to see in a child often begin to surface. In a way, it allows you to grieve slowly. Whether this is less or more painful I’m not sure. However, I am blessed every day to still be able to spend such an afternoon with my mother and grateful for each bit of time I am allotted. After lunch I wheeled her about the parking lot in her wheelchair now a permanent part of our world since her hip fracture. We stopped to look at all the trees some still brightly decked out with fall foliage. She seems to find nature fascinating of late as if seeing everything with fresh eyes. Interesting. I left her smiling and happy at her board and care after a fun day. Arriving home I got a text from her caregiver reading, “sad face emoji, Your mother was sitting at dinner with the other ladies. When asked how her day with her daughter went she replied, ‘I didn’t see my daughter today.’ Isn’t that sad?” I sat there for a moment before responding wondering what on earth was the point of such a message?What I wanted to respond was “Why would you tell me that?”, because I couldn’t imagine the point. Instead of getting angry or allowing it to ruin my precious day I responded, “I am well aware that mother doesn’t hold a memory these days. However, she is there with me in the moment, and I am there with her. Whether she knows I was there or not, I know I was there. I take the memory with me and store it on her behalf. Life is as it is and like a lemon you must squeeze it hard to extract all the juice from it.”

It is important to think about what you are saying or texting. Texting in particular has no “voice” if you will. Sometimes I will reread something I have written quickly and realize it might have “sounded” terse or come across in a way I didn’t mean. Words cannot be taken back whether spoken or written.  Apologies can be offered and accepted but mean spirited intentions tend to hang in the air casting a shadow over future interactions whether forgiven or not.

Yesterday I finished up the last of my holiday shopping. The parking lot at the mall was a flurry of activity when I arrived. Cars lined up along the aisles waiting for parking spots to open up. After circling the wagons for a half an hour I finally snagged a spot about a mile from the store I was going to and was happy to have found it. A lady in a pick up truck with a wreath tied on the fender passed me as I was walking. Another driver going the opposite direction came fairly close to her and the pick up lady shouted a decidedly non-holiday like greeting out her window while offering her a one finger salute.  Horns honked here and there and irritated faces wandered about either looking for their cars in the sea of vehicles or headed into the mall. “Merry Christmas to all”, I was tempted to say but thought somebody might leave tire marks on me so just kept walking.

Inside the store people were milling about. One lady was spread out on the floor opening boxes of glasses and inspecting every one. Her husband, a tired looking man, stood next to her holding her packages and handbag probably with visions of a cold beer and a football game dancing in his head.

Finally getting through the line a lovely lady dressed head to toe like an elf checked me out. Friendly and conversational she wished me the merriest of Christmases complementing me on everything from my hair to the color nail polish I was wearing. Some people just find their niche and tuck themselves in it. Maybe she really was an elf? All things are possible in this marvelous universe.

Soooooo, hope your holidays are going well. Keep of good cheer. It takes more energy to be unpleasant than to create a smile. I don’t know that to be true but would like to think so.

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Rain is sheeting down my windows, my Christmas trees are twinkling, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, is curled by my feet, steam is rising from my coffee and all is right with the world. I’m enjoying one of my “near perfect moments”. They happen here and there when the stars align with the moon and the planets and everything, in spite of the strife and hard angles involved in existing on this earth, falls into perfect alignment. For just that moment in time life is totally, undeniably, beautiful.  If I could bottle this precious commodity therapists would be taking down their shingles and looking for another line of work and Boo and I would be languishing on a gloriously warm white sandy beach somewhere drinking Mai Tai’s and watching buffed, tanned young men arrange the lawn furniture.

I know I experience these soul touching snippets of time but wonder if others do.  Perhaps when a parent watches their deaf child react to hearing their voice for the first time, or a tired driver turns a corner on a rural road to find fields of lavender spread out before them, or standing at a window watching the first light snowflakes of the season drift slowly down to earth. Whatever your idea of perfection, I would be interested to know.

More and more of these special moments have been revealing themselves as I begin to come up out of the fog of the last year or two and look towards the future. As I’ve mentioned there is a coring out associated with losing someone dear to you that clears the road for a new and different version of yourself to emerge. Possibilities for what could come to be as time unfolds began to take form.

People ask me so often if I have met anyone, or if I am interested in exploring a new relationship. My best answer to the former “too soon”, and to the latter, “I don’t know”. Right now I am trying to discover who I am. If I don’t know who I am how can someone else hope to get to know me? This got to me wondering what type of person I would want to meet. Over the years I may not have zoned in on exactly what I needed in a partner, but I certainly have crossed off a lot of what I did not need.

Partnering is not for sissies. It is difficult enough just to be you but to be “us” with someone else takes patience, compromise, and perseverance. How do you know what type of person is the best fit for you? Do you choose a person with like interests and tastes? Possibly. However, for all that we humans seem alike, we are all so vastly different.  Watching a ballet troupe perform Swan Lake might move one person to tears while at the same time leave the person next to them longing for a No-Doz. Where our physical construction remains basically the same our emotional makeup is so much more complicated and unique. Often I question whether relationships with two like people work better than those where the pair are polar opposites. In my case someone just like me might either cause sparks to fly or snoring to ensue. I might be less than stimulated to have a partner who agreed with every premise I supported rather than offering me opposing views to mull over and consider.

So, will I have another serious relationship in my life? This remains to reveal itself. Certainly I have had my share of relationships. Being somewhat of a nester, I seem to naturally gravitate to setting two places at the table. I hear opposing views on the subject. Though I have many happily attached friends, I also have single friends who would rather cut off their own foot than immerse themselves in another serious relationship. These friends prefer their own company cherishing the freedom to do what they want when they want to do it.  I have to admit there is a sort of heady feeling to being able to move about unencumbered. However, I do so miss having Rick at home waiting for me with a smile when I arrived at the door or worrying about me if I was running late. I like sharing my day with someone interested in hearing about it, and settling in for a cuddle and a little TV before getting ready for bed.

There are a lot of activities I find more fun with a companion. This does not mean I can’t have fun alone, I most certainly can. However, there is also something special about sharing the experience with someone who I enjoy spending time with. Travel, for example. I prefer to travel with someone, though traveling alone is not alien or frightening to me. Part of my job description in my last job in the Bay Area was being flown about the U.S. orchestrating trade show details for the product our company manufactured.  Usually first on the scene, my job was to secure a hospitality suite where I would set up shop as home base for our executives to do business with and entertain prospective clients and investors. This would include ordering lavish spreads, preparing giveaway bags, and selecting high end wines. Often these rooms were pricey units on secured floors with all the amenities afforded those who can foot the bill. Though there was lots of work involved in promoting these shows, certainly it was not a difficult perk to swallow that I went back after a long day to an exquisite suite and was provided a carte blanche room service agreement. Where some would have been dining on the deck enjoying pate or lobster bisque washed down with a fine pinot noir, I could often be found bouncing on the bed, ordering a cheeseburger and fries with a beer, and stuffing all the little toiletries in my suitcase to add to my collection at home.

Traveling is high on my list of things I would love to do more of with or without someone to hit the road with. Greece and Italy beckon me all the time, and though I have seen Paris and London there is so much more of Europe I would like to leave a footprint on. A return trip to Nova Scotia is definitely on my “Things I Must Do Before I Can’t” list. No matter how many years spread out between my last visit there, I still yearn to see it again. Home, after all, will always be home no matter where you hang your hat. Also, I am looking forward to meeting my dad’s tribe, many of which I have never met, sometime next year. Deep down below these brown roots I will always be Canadian with a healthy mix of American now thrown in for good measure.

With the new year about to arrive I have begun thinking seriously about how to use 2020. Where do I want to go and what do I want to do? I believe, again referring to my heritage, after living so many years in the U.S. it is time to apply for dual citizenship. With the present atmosphere around citizenship in this country I don’t want to be waving at my family from the back of a truck headed north of the dividing line. I do wish it wasn’t so expensive to get this done. I just paid nearly $1000 to get my Canadian paperwork up-to-date. I’m told this could take upwards of fifteen months due to the high volume of applicants. Whew.

Also my thoughts have turned to reeducating myself perhaps in a different field. You are never too long in the tooth to learn something new. I know I have some snow on the roof but I’m still capable of putting words together in a sentence and having a cogent thought from time to time. Surely I can still be retrained? I think older adults should be given life credit for lasting this long. Hopefully, unless you cruised through your life with your eyes and eyes on mute you have picked up some knowledge along the way. I like to think I have, though there are probably some out there who might argue this point. I have fallen on my face on many occasions but managed to pick myself up and take a lesson from why I tripped in the first place. Having been married four times one might say I was a slow learner, but I prefer to think of myself as optimistic about love. Makes it easier to sleep at night.

So as I ponder my world and what is to come, I am happy to report almost all my holiday shopping is done. I have made an early resolution that next year I will not do this amount of shopping. Instead I will try to pick out something small but meaningful or make something for each of my loved ones. Most of my friends have opted to tuck a check in their Christmas cards to those relatives they give to, but I needed one more year of shopping and wrapping under my belt before I handed over the baton. It was most fun and my tree skirt is happily covered with brightly wrapped gifts. Boo, who believes everything in this house is actually hers only being on loan to me as long as I feed her, works on undermining this effort every day.

Have a great one. Learn a new word, try a new food, say hi to someone who looks like they might not say hi back. Make it count.

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