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Last night was a restless one for me. It culminated with an unsettling dream that woke me up out of a druggy kind of sleep about 4 a.m. In this dream, I was walking along a beautiful strand of beach. My mind recognized it as Laguna Beach, a beach in Southern California I frequented often as a teen and young adult. The dunes of sand rose steeply upward, creating a long sloping ridge which culminated at a sidewalk high above. To get to level ground, meant first traversing the slope. The sand looked particularly coarse, more the consistency of brown sugar than normal beach sand might appear. Each time I attempted to climb up that slope, I would make it about half way, then slide back down to the bottom. Was I to attempt to analyze my dream, having no expertise in the field whatsoever, I’d take a guess perhaps this speaks to the one step forward three steps back feeling I’ve been having of late. I know it’s two steps back in the original saying, but in my case three feels more accurate. Finally, after pushing forward using everything I had, I made it to street level. Standing there on the pavement, strangers passed by on either side of me. No one acknowledged me, and I, in turn, didn’t acknowledge them. Somehow I realized I had no car, and I knew I was very far from home. Starting to wonder how I would ever find my way back, I woke myself up. I must have been a very deep sleep state, for when I awoke it felt like I was in a dense fog. My eyes were open, but my brain remained firmly planted in “sleep mode”.

No matter how dire the situation, I am a creature of routine. Once I’m awake, I use the bathroom, brush my teeth, and then head for the kitchen to push brew on the coffee maker. Was the house on fire, I believe this is so embedded in my DNA, the smell of fresh coffee brewing would be the first thing firefighters noticed on entering the building. This morning I was wandering about after my dream like a drunk trying to get out of his own way the morning after. Even the cat was giving me a wide berth, instead of winding about my legs as she usually does. The house is at full capacity at the moment, with people in every room. Being a rather petite dwelling, it was really built to accommodate one or two. When you add additional bodies to the mix, it means if you are running water in the kitchen, most likely someone trying to sleep in an adjacent room is pulling a pillow over their heads. When I am trying to be quiet, it is often the exact time I manage to make the most noise. Why is that? Perhaps it is a natural occurrence in nature? Of course, it could be it is just me. I do know when I’m trying to keep the noise level at a minimum, it is when things to go to hell in a hand basket around here. First, I opened the cupboard above my washing machine for some unknown reason. Many of my cleaning products such as bathroom sprays, room deodorizers etc. are housed there. Certainly I have never stored the coffee next to my toilet cleaner. Each cupboard in my house is like a Chinese puzzle because I have more stuff than storage, and this one is no exception. Why I was standing there like an idiot looking into this particular cupboard trying to locate the coffee defies explanation. I moved one thing to the side, just one little box. Uh-oh. The entire pyramid of cans above it came tumbling out of the cupboard bouncing with a resounding, bing, bang, boom off the washer lid before landing solidly one after another on the tile. One of the caps had even popped off and was rolling around in a circle like a top. Oops. I can’t be sure, but I believe I heard a muffled expletive uttered somewhere in the house with my name attached to it. Sorry.

Another annoying thing about sharing digs with me I’m sure, is I’m up with the roosters, if not before. Actually, the roosters text me asking for a wake up call. I work on this, I try to do better, but my mind has a 4 a.m. set wake up time and I can’t seem to adjust the dial. God knows I’ve given it my best. Seriously, trains could set their schedules by my internal clock. If someone is staying at the house and I decide to catch an early morning program, I use the closed captioning feature so as not to disturb. No matter what, and it seems only when someone is sleeping elsewhere in the house, I turn the TV power on to find the sound set on 56. My neighbors two doors down could follow what I’m watching. Frantically, I then struggle to mute the darn thing, but assuredly someone in the house has just levitated off their mattress before I find the button. Again, sorry.

Finally, this morning I located the coffee. Surprise, I located the coffee where I keep the coffee and coffee supplies and have since I moved in. Who knew? Definitely, some caffeine was needed at that point. Pushing brew I turned to go back in the bedroom. As I walked past the sink I noticed the pot still sitting in there. That would be the coffee pot, yes. I knew I had poured the water in before activating the brew cycle. Turning, I could see the coffee was happily pouring out onto the counter with the grounds floating on top of it. Yay. Now, I was swearing. Cleaning up coffee grounds is like trying to pick up a greased pig. You just get a firm hold of them and then they slip away. Even found some stuck to the bottom of my sock. At last I managed to pour new water in the trough, put the filter in the proper receptacle, add coffee, and brew a pot. Good Lord.

My stomach began to growl. Not wanting to make any more noise, I thought of boiled eggs. Protein always get my motor primed in the morning. A couple of soft boiled eggs and a piece of wheat toast sounded like what I needed to get things moving in a forward direction, and raise me out of my stupor. Taking out my small saucepan, I boiled some water and dropped two lovely large eggs in it. Reaching for my chicken timer on the counter, I set it for four minutes. Hearing my cellphone go off in the bedroom, I padded off to see who was calling so early. I answered in my “inside voice”. A friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while was calling to check up on things and see how Dale was doing. As I mentioned in a previous blog, my partner Dale, is dealing with a cancer diagnosis at the moment. Getting involved in the conversation, I completely forgot I had put the eggs on to boil. Yup. In about a half an hour the smoke alarms began to go off. What the…..? Ah so, a light went off in an otherwise dark tunnel. Inside the tunnel a sign was illuminated that read simply “the eggs are boiling”. Insert expletive here. Flying into the kitchen I found the ashen remains of what had once been two large white eggs most likely permanently fused to the bottom of the pan. Ach. By the time I managed to quiet the third alarm, good news, everyone was up now. All four were standing before me, not any one of them wearing their happy faces. Good morning!!

Truly, had I set out to make as much noise as possible, I really couldn’t have done a better job. Well, other than if I’d set up a Chinese gong in the hallway and began pounding away on that, or invited the Marine Corp Band to practice in the living room. Sigh. I do try, I really do.

Last night in the middle of the night, I woke up to the feeling my life no longer looked familiar to me. This, I’m sure is because of all the turmoil going on in it at the moment. Undoubtedly this chaos contributed to the weird dreams I was having as well.

Some days you simply need to go back to bed and remain there until the dark cloud passes overhead. One has to hold on to sunny outcomes even if the sky is dark and rain seems imminent. Tomorrow, thankfully, is another day and I will do better. I know this to be true. Happy Friday to you.

Boating used to be one of my favorite pastimes. These days I neither have a boat nor water to float it in, but I still amuse myself on beautiful days like today with thoughts of soaring across the waves. I’m not a large ship girl, preferring smaller craft like sailboats or speed boats for my water transportation. Cruising, though the food is generally amazing, is definitely is not the way I would choose first to make my vacation plans. Thus far, I’ve been on three cruises and none of them have made me want to continue the relationship beyond this point. Possibly, I could be convinced if someone held a plate of baked Alaska in front of my nose and walked up the gangplank ahead of me, but other than that I’d prefer not.

I think sailing might be my favorite type of boating. Possibly because it’s largely interactive, and also because I enjoy the peace of a full sail propelling you along rather than listening to the whir of a motor.

Early on, boats were an integral part of my world. Fish was the featured meal at our table on a regular basis. Often when small, I would accompany my grandmother to the docks to buy fish fresh off the boats at the fish market. For a while, my mother worked as a secretary in one of the offices located behind the market itself. When she leaned down to kiss me on arriving home at night, the pungent ocean smells lingered in her hair and on her clothes. I was fascinated both by the market itself with its mountains of ice piled high with the catch if the day, as well as the rows of docks lying beyond the open warehouse doors. The docks secured every type of vessel from the smallest tug boat to massive cargo ships or streamlined luxury liners. I liked all the sights, sounds and smells associated with the dock area. Walking over the weather worn planks the dark waters of the Atlantic were visible through the cracks in the boards. Occasionally, a curious gull would land and strut about looking to see if we were good for a stray morsel. Sometimes, my grandmother would bring a small sack of bread cubes to hand out to them.

Once I moved to California, my association boats became limited to those I saw at the beach, which wasn’t far from where we lived in Santa Ana. However, I didn’t step a foot on one again until the summer between middle school and high school. My parents rented a cabin in Lake Tahoe for a week. It was my first time visiting Northern California and I can still remember rounding a curve and seeing a panoramic view of the glorious lake stretched out in front of us. Truly it is the jewel of the Sierras. Our cabin slept eight, and was of the A-frame variety. My stepbrother and I were the only children present among six adults, so we made ourselves scarce as often as possible. With the lake at our doorstep, and the Sierras for a backdrop, neither of us had any interest in sitting inside playing gin rummy or hanging with the grown ups on the porch listening to Herb Alpert while they downed dry martinis. What a glorious summer that was. I got my first kiss at Lake Tahoe before I returned home. A momentous right of passage I recall vividly to this day. His name was Jim. He was blonde, blue eyed, tan, and at the time I believe I wrote in my prolific diary, “dreamy”. We met taking water ski lessons off the dock of the lodge. It was puppy love at first sight. Both of us got up on skis for the first time that week and shared our first kiss together. Often I wonder if he remembers me as fondly I remember him. I would never want to see him again. That time sitting in the warm sun with his lips touching mine is permanently etched in my memory book perfectly captured just the way it was.

Lake Tahoe is an alpine lake. If you’re expecting to drop into it off of the side of a boat and not have the breath sucked out of your lungs, you would be sorely disappointed. I believe my lips turned blue the moment I hit the water. The idea, of course, was to stand up out of the water and ski once in the lake. Intellectually,I grasped this concept, but my knees hadn’t gotten the memo. The instructions from the young man teaching us were “Hold on to the rope. When the boat starts to pull you forward, stand up.” The first three times I held on for dear life and remained submerged the entire time nearly swallowing half the lake. On the fourth attempt, by some miracle, I was up and gliding along on the surface. The wind stirring the water made for a bit of a bumpy ride, but it felt heavenly to me. Feeling exhilarated, with over confidence I glided up and over the wake. The instant I hit the smooth water on the outside, I performed a very ungainly triple somersault, pinwheeling across the waves nearly beating myself to death before landing. I kept at it though. Perseverance truly does win the prize. By the end of the week, I had the beginners course mastered and learned something about kissing to boot. A win/win.

There was a large hiatus in my boating experience from that point until I was in my early twenties. My husband, my children’s father, was working for a waterbed heater manufacturer in the Bay Area. Waterbeds were the hot ticket back then, and the owner of the business, a young entrepreneur, Jerry, got in on the ground floor. Making a lot of money in a short period of time, he was living the life. One of the perks of this high rolling lifestyle was a lovely sailboat docked in a South San Francisco marina. Several times we had been invited out, along with other employees and their families, to join Jerry for day trips on the bay. The San Francisco Bay is not for beginning boaters. If you slip over the side out there, or capsize, you won’t last long before hypothermia sets in. Also it is a shipping lane so there are a lot of boats of all sizes coming and going twenty-four hours a day. One night my husband came home to tell me Jerry had asked us to sail over to Tiburon on the opposite side of the bay from South San Francisco. The plan was to sail over after work on a Friday night, eat dinner at one of the many excellent restaurants in Tiburon, then do a little partying and dancing at one of the local nightclubs and sail home. I arranged for a babysitter and six or so of us boarded the boat a little after five. When you are young, you really do think you are invincible. Most times at that age you haven’t developed enough sense to find your way out of a paper bag. This would be true in our case. It was a gorgeous mid-summer night. As we motored out of the marina, I remember thinking it felt nearly perfect. Sails could be seen bobbing up and down as we made our way out into the open sea. Jerry was an experienced and adept sailor and the other members of the group, though novices, pitched in as he belted out orders to prepare to come about or tighten this or loosen that rigging. What a glorious sail over it was. After tying up at the dock in Tiburon, we enjoyed a delicious meal el fresco at a lovely cafe. Feeling in a party mood we moved along to several different watering holes to dance and enjoy a cocktail or two. This perhaps not the best option with a sail back across the San Francisco Bay in our near future. Feeling a bit tipsy, we all laughed and talked as we walked back to the boat. Jerry, in particular, though in charge of navigating his crew home, was a bit more tipply than the rest of us. Uh-oh. Once on board, the sea looked far more menacing than it had earlier on. Jerry stood at the bow of the boat barking orders to his tired and slightly drunky crew. This was not boding well for getting home without incident. The bow dipped and rose cutting deeply through the rough waters. At one point we were leaning so far to one side we were standing nearly vertical leaning against the opposite side of the boat. Jerry began to sing, “yo, ho, ho, ho, a pirate’s life for me”. Sigh. One of the crew members who had begun to look a lovely shade of olive green, leaned over and heave hoed across the side. Secretly, I was hoping the sharks didn’t consider this chumming. A huge tanker was coming along at what seemed to to be perilously close to where we were headed. That didn’t seem a good plan. I pointed and my husband made his way up to Jerry to point at it with him. “Avast ye swabbies”, says Jerry. Great. I began to say my goodbyes to my mother and my two babies waiting at home. What a trip that was. I remember seeing that huge ship cutting through the water behind us and being told to hold on tight lest the wake surged under us. Mommy. Finally after what seemed like days, the lights of the marina were visible ahead. Never have my feet been so pleased to find themselves standing firmly on solid ground. The next time a similar trip came up, I passed.

No matter how scary my adventures on the ocean, I will always be drawn to the sea. My dream, though I don’t voice it often, is to own and run a B&B somewhere along the coast. Fairy tales can come true you know. Would Walt Disney lie?

Have a great day. Have adventures, get a little scared. Life needs a bit of edge to keep you alert.

I went out to dinner with friends last night for the first time since the pandemic arrived on the scene. It felt both weird and wonderful to be sitting at a booth inside a restaurant without anything covering my face.

Our waitress, Gayelle, though friendly and sweet, was definitely in the wrong line of work. Always I give servers the benefit of the doubt. Having owned a restaurant I understand fully how a day can go downhill quickly with food issues, demanding customers, or even something brought in going on at home. To be fair, two of the four of us at the table were previously involved in the restaurant business, so perhaps we viewed her performance with more critical eyes. Let me begin by saying this is a brewery and restaurant. They offer good food, a fun atmosphere, and it is very popular with the locals. The atmosphere is casual, not a place you would expect to be handed leather bound menus. That being said, when we were given four double sided pieces of paper it was fine, except for the fact two of them had huge red stains across them and one had a big chunk of food stuck to the stain. Not fine. Ewwww.

After reviewing their fairly limited menu, we made our choices. The menu selections were basically a burger, a couple of steak options, salads, a variety of street tacos, which they are known for, fish and chips, and the catch of the day. Three of us wanted the tacos and one, the lone male in the pride, was going for a rib eye. Easy peasey. Back with our drinks, Gayelle took out her order pad. Pen poised, she asked what we would like. My friend seated across from me wanted to know what the fish of the day was. It was cod. “Cod sounds perfect”, said my friend to which Gayelle replied, “sorry we are out of fish”. Out of fish? How could they be out of fish? It was barely after 5:00 and fish was easily the main ingredient in 50% of their menu choices. Do you think perhaps this information should have been the first information we were given when being handed our menus? With three of us already on board the fishing boat headed out of the harbor, we needed a moment to regroup. I suggested she defer to our red meat friend while we figured out something else to order. After the rib eye guy placed his order, she told him they were also out of steak. Really? I suggested we’d better narrow the field down to what they actually did have in the kitchen, or we could well be there all night. Four burgers it was.

After we ate our burgers, which were delicious, we relaxed for a bit. When we were ready to call it a day, we realized we had not seen our waitress since Reagan was in office. After about ten minutes and no Gayelle in sight, we flagged down another server and asked if she could send Gayelle to our table please. Shortly, she appeared at the table with the check already tabulated, never asking us if we’d like either dessert or coffee. Hmmmmm. Serving 101 training definitely needed here. Servers are generally taught to upsell appetizers, desserts, or specialty drinks. It’s part of being a good “salesperson” for your establishment. When we asked what the dessert selections were, she said we could find them on their website. Check please.

Now, I am not a difficult customer. I do have friends who, though not so much difficult, can be perhaps a tad annoying. If a server is busy, dealing with this type of customer can be absolutely mind rattling. We all l have that one friend who can never make up her mind what to have when out to eat. After reviewing the menu for a half an hour this person will then take a poll at the table to find out what everyone else is ordering. When the actual ordering has begun she will begin interrogating the server as to how each menu item is prepared. “Is it fresh? Is it cooked in oil or butter?” Ecetera, ecetera. Next, when she finally lands on a selection, she orders what she’s chosen, changes her mind, then changes her mind again, and in the end goes back to her original choice. Please.

I have another friend who I call the substitution queen. In line at McDonald’s she will order a 1/4 pounder with no cheese, no onions, hold the meat, no sesame seeds on the bun, sauce on the side, lettuce on the side, sweet pickles not dill. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat cooling my heels in one of their parking lots with a cone on my car because of her. Usually, they make us wait quite a while for our food. I believe, though I cannot prove it, this is a form of extracting punishment for high crimes against their employees.

Another thing that is annoying on the other side, is when you get in line at a fast food place and tell the speaker what you want. Clearly you say, ‘I would like an iced tea, unsweetened, no lemon.” This is repeated back to you for clarity and appears on the screen in front of you. You get up to the window and you are handed a sweetened iced tea with a lemon wedge floating in it. Happens to me all the time. My daughter will not leave a fast food restaurant without examining the bag fully before pulling away from the window. She has bad fast food karma. Invariably it will be her order that is not in the bag once we get home. Whatever she did in a former life she is doing penance for must have involved a food vendor.

In truth, I’m not much of a fast food foodie. I value my arteries and prefer fresher fare. However, every once and a while I simply have to have an In ‘n Out burger and fries. I’ve been going there since I was in high school. One of my first steady boyfriends worked at the local In ‘n Out. At that time it was just a small family run affair. The building itself was a rectangular shack-like structure with windows on both sides and one in the front. You could either order on speaker through the drive-thru or walk up to the window at the front of the building. Once you got your food, there were picnic tables to sit it at or you could eat in your car. Nothing fancy and certainly not the long lines you see there now. Of all the burger joints in all of the world, I believe it is still my favorite.

I have had lots of interesting things happen to me while eating out. In the 80’s I went to lunch with a group co-workers. There were ten or twelve of us in the party celebrating somebody’s birthday. We were seated at a group of square tables pushed together to make one long rectangular one. I was in the queen’s seat at the head of the table. Back then, everybody automatically was served water without having to ask for it. Our waitress, as luck would have it, was enduring her first week on the job. Learning to carry heavy trays is a bit of an art. Some waitresses can carry in their arms or on a tray nearly a full table of dishes laden with food. Not every one, of course. That day the test for this girl was if she could carry all our full water glasses with ice to the table on a tray and distribute them without spilling. The answer here is b) she could not. She stood next to me with a full tray and removed the one on her end apparently the one glass keeping the other ten or so balanced. Like penguins sliding into a pool, each glass marched down the tray and one by one unloaded into my lap. The maitre d rushed over to me apologizing. They offered to pay for dry cleaning, but it was water so there really wasn’t any harm done to my clothes. The only damage was the walk of shame on my part when leaving the restaurant. My shoes had absorbed so much liquid, when I took a step, bubbles foamed up out of the leather. To add to the humiliation, the back my dress looked as if I’d relieved myself during the meal without benefit of visiting the bathroom. They did pay for my lunch, and I let them.

Another time, my children’s dad and I were in an IHOP when my kids were little. They used to serve coffee in those thermos bottles back then to keep it hot, hot. My son was around six. Sitting still definitely wasn’t his strongest suit. Wriggling and fussing while waiting for his breakfast to arrive, he managed to knock over the carafe which bounced off the table and landed upside down and open in my husband’s lap. The liquid was so hot, my husband’s leg jerked up in reaction and his shoe went flying into the air landing in the gentleman’s pancakes across the aisle from us. Sorry. My husband ended up in the ER with second degree burns in his nether regions. Ouch. In that case we bought that man his pancakes.

Life is an interesting place to inhabit. Always something new to see and do. Fun to feel a little normal again, or as normal as I get.

I had a discussion with a young parent the other day I found interesting. She told me she asks her children what they would like to eat before preparing a meal. Things really are different then when I was growing up. I can honestly say I was never consulted about a meal really. What was put on my plate and served to me, I ate. If I chose not to eat it, my grandmother, at least to my recollection, never got up from the table and went in the kitchen and whipped me up something else more to my liking. Sometimes at breakfast, my grandmother did ask if I wanted my eggs poached, scrambled or fried, but other than that, what showed up on the plate was generally what I was expected to eat.

Now that I think more about it why shouldn’t children have some choice in their menu plan? They aren’t old enough always to make all the choices but I do think after they have tried a food several times and still have a strong distaste for it, perhaps they shouldn’t be made to eat it? This does not mean they can exclude every vegetable, fruit, or meat and substitute ice cream or candy bars, but within reason if there is a food they really do not like perhaps they need not be made to eat it? My son, for example, could not stand peas. His father, thought children should eat what was placed in front of them, and not waste food. The “starving children in China” script was pulled out often when food was left uneaten on their plates. This particular meal, the peas remained intact on my son’s plate and like the elephant in the room did not go unnoticed by my husband. “Eat your peas before leaving the table” was put out there. The gauntlet had been thrown. Dishes done, I came back to find my little one still staring at his plate. Stubbornness is definitely genetic. After a while the fork was lifted to his lips and he took a big bite of the dreaded little green bullets. The face was too much as the chewing commenced. Shortly, as quickly as they had gone down the chute they made a return visit all over my tablecloth. Having had enough of both men in my household, I scooped up my son and headed for the bathtub and handed his father the cleaning utensils to clean up the mess. Peas were no longer an issue at our house.

I never had to be forced to eat. I liked just about everything my grandmother put in front of me except for the dreaded liver and onions or the god forsaken beefsteak and kidney pie which were both my kryptonite. Ewwwww. Food was where she and I totally bonded. So many of my warmest memories of my younger years were created in my grandmother’s sunny kitchen. Sometimes, one of those memories will pop up in the most expected location. The other day while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, I had some time to kill. When driving into the complex parking lot I’d noticed a “Grand Opening” sign on a sandwich board in front of a new antiques and collectibles store. Antiques not really my decorating style, I decided it still might be interesting to take a look and see what they had to offer. On entering the store, it gave off that same musty, dusty smell most stores of that genre seem to have. Since the store (at least according to the sign out front) had only been open a couple of weeks, it got me to wondering if that scent actually came in a spray can, like new car smell at the car wash. Perhaps it’s the Moldy Oldie fragrance collection by Air Wick or the Granny’s Attic grouping by Fabreze. At any rate, while looking at the eclectic assortment of oldies but goodies for sale along the cluttered shelves, I came across four little china egg cups. Seeing them on the shelf took my mind immediately to childhood breakfasts in my grandmother’s family home on the hill in Halifax. The main focus of the room, was the lovely picture window looking out over Halifax harbor. Always I loved being in that kitchen with my grandmother. I can see her busy at the stove, apron in place, and if I inhale deeply I can almost smell all the delicious aromas wafting through the air. Our evening meals were usually taken in the formal dining room replete with all the bells and whistles. Breakfast, however, was served with far less fanfare at the little formica table by the window in the kitchen.

My grandmother woke up precisely at 6:00 every day. If asked why in later years why she still got up so early when she could have languished in bed, she said “you have plenty of time to sleep after you die”. Before coming out to greet her day, her nylons were in place neatly secured to her undergarments beneath one of her house dresses as she referred to them. These were cotton dresses all cut from the same pattern in varying fabrics, with short sleeves and a parade of buttons marching down the front. Specifically they were worn for working around the house to keep her good clothes from getting soiled. Up until she was in her eighties, when my mother finally convinced her pants on women were not the work of the devil, did I ever see my grandmother’s knees covered by anything other than a suit, skirt or dress.

The first order of business each morning was always to prepare my grandfather’s breakfast. A urologist, his days often began quite early. Breakfast was served to him on a tray each morning in bed, accompanied by his morning paper. Very health conscious, and dealing with some health concerns himself, the menu was shredded wheat with berries, a glass of juice, one half a grapefruit and a slice of whole grain toast. A small vase with one flower from the garden was added during the summer months next to a colorful little china pot filled with Gammy’s delicious homemade marmalade. Once my grandfather had opened his paper and begun to eat, she tended next to the needs of the smallest member of the family, namely myself. Eggs were often on the menu breakfast. They came dressed up in a variety of ways, my favorite to this day being Eggs Benedict, basically poached eggs perched atop a split English muffin then smothered with buttery Hollandaise sauce. Yum. These days no one has time to whip up homemade Hollandaise, or at least I don’t. Back then, there were no packages to buy at the store to add water to. If you wanted Hollandaise, you dragged out the double boiler and whipped up a batch yourself. Another way I loved eggs was soft boiled and served in an egg cup. The shell was left on with the top sliced through (it’s hat, as my grandmother would say) and you lifted it’s hat, and dipped your toast in the gooey yolk.

Funny how smells, tastes, sounds and pictures can trigger an immediate memory of perhaps an easier time or those you particularly enjoyed. Of course, these sensory reminders can also be of traumatic or unpleasant experiences, but I’m trying to look at the bright side of the moon at the moment so let’s stay there for a while. My memories are often associated with food it seems. Always I have loved to be in the kitchen. Although I have to admit these days I do find myself tiring of coming up with new dishes to tantalize my guests. As I’ve said before they need to introduce a new meat, or at least a new vegetable for those of us who love to cook to play with. Perhaps they’ll just create a new one. My granddaughter, a vegan through and through, says other than organic vegetables and not all of those, you don’t know anymore if the vegetable you’re eating is real or was created in a lab somewhere. I think we need a new blue something, something. At the moment blueberries are kind of holding down that fort all by themselves.

I bought the little egg cups as it turned out. Did I need them? Nope, not in the least, but want won that argument and they are sitting in my china cabinet waiting for a soft boiled egg to bring them back to a useful life.

This has been a rough year. I thought last year was full of potholes but that was just the preliminary match, and, unfortunately, this year seems to be the main event. I am working on my grateful self. I am grateful the virus seems to be getting under control. I am most grateful it got a hold of me and my partner Dale, and then threw us back relatively unharmed. I am grateful all my family and his, and my friends and his, are still here to talk about what a strange year it truly was. I am simply grateful for so many things.

On the downside of things, Dale, my partner and companion, has cancer. Being asked to be grateful about this is certainly an uphill climb. Rick, my partner in crime for nearly twenty years, as I’ve mentioned many times, passed away nearly three years ago from lung cancer. In a stroke of synchronicity even I find hard to grasp, Dale has been given the same dire diagnosis. The oxygen compressor is once again humming in my spare room and questions without answers are swirling and twirling about in my head.

So, I pull up some happy thoughts and fond, fond memories of being young and free and unaware of all the sadness that life insists on being peppered with. Memories, I always feel, are tucked away to be pulled out perhaps when you need a hug and don’t have one handy, or are feeling blue and want to remember the pure joy of laughing out loud. Memory really is such a gift, and probably one we take for granted. One of the hardest things for me is to watch my mum slowly loosing her grasp on all those wonderful mental highlights she has stored away over the years. I am her memory these days and I’m okay with that. Again, I lean to the side of gratefulness and remind myself she remembers my face and that alone is money in the bank.

Sorry if this post is a bit of a song with sad lyrics. Usually I am upbeat, but even a stand up comedienne has days when he or she can’t pull a joke out of the hat.

Have a good one. Remember to not put your “I love you’s” off until a better day, there is never a better day then today. Talk soon.


Have to say I am totally spent. In a long week, Monday was by far the longest day. For nine hours I sat in one hard chair or another in the ER with my dear friend who they suspect has cancer. With COVID filling in all the cracks for the last year and a half, everything is moving forward in slow motion, so what normally takes an hour in that section of the hospital might take two if you factor in the COVID restrictions. What a miserable disease cancer is. I watched Rick valiantly battle it and now here it is knocking on my front door again. Seems I know a lot of people dealing with this diagnosis or someone in their family having cancer of one type or another at the moment. Someone told me the other day this is the universe or our higher power, or whatever you believe, culling the herd. When we get too large in number we must be thinned out for others to survive. Couldn’t this be done by just putting us to sleep? Never can understand why we have to suffer. Guess in the scheme of things we’re not supposed to know, since no one has come back to fill us in on the secrets of the afterlife up to this juncture.

Anyhow, that subject is a deep well I don’t want to drop my bucket in at the moment. I hold close to my heart a statement made to me by a grief counselor right after Rick passed away. She said simply, “It doesn’t seem like it now, but a year from today life will be much different.” When you’re in pain it doesn’t seem as if it will ever ease up, but life has a way of moving forward and whisking you up in it’s wake whether you feel like going or not.

With nine hours spent in it’s bowels, I found the ER an interesting place to be. Aside from the obvious gravity of the visit hanging over us, there were times when I found it fascinating to watch what was going on around me. They allow one visitor in, now that our county has opened up, and I was the one plus one. At first we sat in a room together, which was nice. About five hours into our stay, they were debating whether or not to send Dale home, or to keep him overnight. As it is always preferable to have a patient exist outside of the hospital rather than in, they finally opted to send him home but with oxygen. Ten days in a hospital bed in older people can equal about ten years of muscle loss, not to mention the obvious germ fest going on inside a hospital ward they are susceptible to while lying there.

At one point the EMT’s brought in a highly agitated man. Two police officers accompanied him and if the red stain on the bandage wrapped around his head was any indication, he hadn’t come in willingly. Nurses and hospital staff were trying to calm the screaming man down but finally had to resort to tougher measures to get him under control. Like a drunken sailor he was throwing expletives about like towels in a clothes dryer. Not that I haven’t heard, or even used, the particular crowd favorites he was spewing, but have to say I’ve never heard them used in a hospital setting before and with so many of them strung together. A cloth bag was finally pulled over the man’s head because he had begun to spit at his perceived captors. Another quiet day at the office for the ER staff I’m sure. Seems people are building up excessive heads of steam all over the place. Flight attendants are being attacked, people on the street walking along minding their own business. Odd time in our history.

A nurse came in to tell us she would have to move Dale into the hallway to provide a private area for the inebriated swear monger. We were done with the doctors, and waiting for the oxygen to arrive so didn’t really require an examination room. Because of the COVID restrictions, I couldn’t sit in the hallway. I was told I would have to wait in the lobby. K. Now, this was not my first rodeo. I have spent a good deal of time over the past decade sitting in ER waiting rooms. Before leaving the house, I tucked my phone charger, a book, a bottle of water, and a small snack in my purse. Girl scouts have nothing on me when it comes to being prepared.

It was Memorial Day, so the usual holidays specials moved in and out of the lobby while I sat there. A teen who sprained his wrist while playing baseball, an older man with a bad burn from a barbecue gone bad, etc. I squirmed about in the incredibly uncomfortable chair for a while until a text came in from Dale saying the oxygen rep on his way with the tanks was stuck in traffic for at least another hour and a half. Hearing that, I stood up and my back decided I needed to walk around the hospital a bit before it was willing to stop twitching about. Outside would have been preferable, as I’m not fond of hospitals on the best of days, but it was 100+ plus out there and I knew there was already a full boat of patients inside. Should I face plant in the parking lot, I most probably would lie there until I fuse with the asphalt.

The hospital corridors were all but deserted, not unexpected on a holiday. The cafeteria was closed to the public because of the virus, and there were no vending machines to be found. My stomach was telling me it was time for something more satisfying than Saltines and string cheese. I wandered toward the main entrance and exited into the lobby when lights began to flash and emergency sequences began coming in over the PA system. Oh-oh. For a moment I thought I’d set them off, which wouldn’t be unexpected in my life. The doors shut in front of me and behind me and I was stuck in the corridor, like the cream filling in an Oreo. For an old claustrophobic like me, this triggered an immediate flight or fight response which fortunately I got a hold of prior to resorting to crashing through the windows before they announced it was a drill and the doors reopened. Whew.

The beleaguered oxygen man finally showed up shortly after six. We had checked in at 8:15 in the morning so to say it was a long day would be somewhat of an understatement. By the time we got home and went through the home instructions on the equipment he brought to the house, I could feel the urge to start running and not look back. I held my feet in place and listened to what the man was saying. Truly it was hard to believe I was experiencing this whole scenario again. I had to pinch myself to make sure I was fully in reality. Oxygen is tricky. There is definitely a learning curve involved until you get it running smoothly. Rick had been on it for the last two months of his life.

According to my metaphysical friend we are once again in a mercury retrograde when everything that could go wrong will. Oh joy. On Tuesday following my day in the ER, I had a hair appointment early in the morning. I have gone back to my old hair dresser. It’s a longer drive, forty-five minutes, but she seems to be the only one in the area who understands how to color my hair. If I say I would like my hair blonde with warm undertones that is exactly what I mean. There is no red, merlot, or auburn in that statement anywhere. Thank you, thank you very much. Feeling like I’d been rode hard and put up wet, I dragged myself to the car and drove all the way up the hill to my appointment (ignoring beauty is never an option) only to be told by the receptionist at the salon my appointment was for the following day. Sigh. My first urge was to scale the counter and dust the floor with the little girl seated behind it with the toothy grin, but I controlled my primal urges and just said “Thank you. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Jeez Louise.

I stopped to pick up Dale’s prescriptions on the way home only to be told they had filled them at their store in the town I had just been in for my wrong day hair appointment so they had to be redirected down here. This would not happen until later in the day. Fine. On the way out of the pharmacy I stopped to look at a large display of patio umbrellas. There was one in the middle I specifically wanted to see so I pulled it out to get a better look at it. Removing that one umbrella apparently threw the entire display stand off balance. The whole large unit leaned precariously to one side and then crashed on the tile strewing the umbrellas all over the place like pick up stix. The gentleman standing next to me asked if he could help me pick them up. I told him, “Save yourself. You don’t want to get too close to me you might spontaneously ignite.” Clean up on Aisle 4. Never mind. Never mind it all. I am still smiling. See? I remind myself today I am a warrior and a survivor. I’ve come this far and I will continue along in my journey until I have no further to go.

I came home and decided to ease my pain by doing something cathartic. Sewing always takes my mind off of things. I needed to make a pillow for a new patio chair I’d purchased, so that was the plan. I cut out the fabric, threaded the machine, pushed down and the pedal and bupkis. Really? I tried again and the light went out. Exit stage left.

Sometimes you simply can’t fight the current. Your only option is to point your feet down stream and keep your eyes open for rocks.

Make it a rock free day. Almost Friday.

I killed a spider last night in my bathroom. I know. I am not proud of this, but in my defense this spider was huge, it was 2:30 in the morning, and he was perched on the toilet seat where I needed to be. I asked him politely to move, but he defiantly raised a leg at me, so I zapped him good with my bottle of vinegar and water and watched as he slid off one side of the toilet seat cover disappearing from view. My daughter would not be pleased. She follows the catch and release program, so all spiders unwanted in her house are humanely placed outside. Sorry. This morning I didn’t see his remains anywhere around the general area, so I prefer to think he was just stunned and not mortally wounded. In either case, he is definitely emitting a scent that will make his pals in the walls crave lettuce and tomatoes. I don’t sound sorry, but I really am. Humor has always been my defense when trying to hide my true feelings. I can’t stand to think I have been responsible for hurting a living creature. Just doesn’t sit well with my being. Last week, I accidentally ran over a lizard by the front curb. After writing a personal note extending my condolences to his family, I went on-line to 1-800-reptiles and ordered a lovely bouquet of crickets to be delivered for his celebration of life. Following that, I spent the entire week doing little acts of contrition in an effort to make amends.

Was I to say my truth on the subject of bugs, it would be, “don’t like em”. Now this is not true of all insects. I rather like ladybugs, love, love, love butterflies, and truly don’t hold any deep seated antimosity for moths, as long as they are flitting around my outside light and not eating a hole in my favorite cashmere sweater. Other than that, I’m not fond of of bugs really. Bees, of course, as long as I am not extracting one of their stingers from my skin, are amazing. Without their little furry behinds, our world would be in a heap of trouble. Wasps, would be a big red check in the no box, as would hornets, killer bees, and whatever that huge new variety is that just showed up inside our borders. No, no, and hell no. Bees actually seem to love me. I’m not sure why. I must have some sort of body chemistry they are attracted to. Perhaps it is because I am sweet? No? Whatever the reason, I’ve been stung quite a few times over the years, the last time quite recently. Thankfully, I’m not allergic, experiencing no serious side effects other than swelling and some really annoying itching for a week or so.

Bee butt

Insect populations vary according to where you are living I have found. While living in the southern states, a place that seems to cultivate bugs at the most alarming rate, there were insects I saw there I found fascinating. These, unfortunately were mixed in with those that made me cringe in horror. Fireflies were perhaps my personal favorite. These diminutive insects are the pathfinders of the bug world, holding their lanterns high in the night sky to guide others along their way. Another ethereal buggie was the mayfly. I remember fishing along the bank of a river in Arkansas. The area, as is true of most sections in that stretch of land, was covered in a mass of vegetation and trees. My ex-husband and I were seated in lawn chairs next to each other on the river bank, both our lines draped across the water. As it was the heat of the day, the only action we were seeing was from the bobbers lazily moving up and down with the currents. Catching movement over my head, I looked up see what appeared to be thousands of tiny fairies emerging from beneath the canopy of branches of the enormous tree behind us. Like a choreographed line of dancers they dipped and swirled in the breeze their delicate wings twinkling in the bright sunlight. Asking my husband, originally from the area, what the spectacle was I was looking at, he told me they were mayflies. Truly, I have to say they were quite beautiful.

Mayflies

My ex-husband and I were always on the move with his job, as I’ve explained often in my blogs. On our first, and it would turn out to be our last, trip to Arkansas we drove across country from the Bay Area. It was early summer, but the heat was already intense. Paired with the humidity, it would have been nearly unbearable to be in the car without benefit of air conditioning. Traveling east on our final day on the road before reaching our destination, we were crossing Oklahoma. At one point, we stopped to gas up and get a bite to eat before turning south on the last leg of our trip. Our final destination was to be Ashdown, Arkansas where we were to make our home for the next year. Though I had driven across Oklahoma previously, never during the summer months. Stepping out of the cool car into the air outside was like going from a freezer to a sauna. By the time I had closed the car door, my sweat glands had already shifted into hyper drive. Aside from the oppressive temperature, it was so LOUD. I can not emphasize how loud it was. What on earth? I deferred to my husband for guidance, as I frequently did while living in the south, asking him what all the noise was coming from. He said the racket was cicadas. Cicadas, he explained, were insects who lived underground only emerging every seventeen years to mate. Whew. No wonder they were excited. I’ve been to heavy metal concerts in the front row and never heard anything like that. How people living directly adjacent to that truck stop got any sleep I have not one single idea. Amazing.

Fireflies

Another interactive group of insects in that part of the world were fire ants. After living in Ashdown for several months our social circle began to grow as we came to know our neighbors and people we worked with. One weekend I was invited to join a group of “work wives” to go gather pecans and do some baking. Having always purchased my pecans from the market shelves, this sounded intriguing to me. Pecan trees are native to Arkansas, and one of the ladies in the group knew a pecan farmer who had given us permission to harvest some of his crop for our personal use. Yay. Though I had lived in Arkansas for a while, I hadn’t settled into the area yet. Totally different in culture and topography than what I was familiar with in California, I struggled with the humid air, and certainly stood out like an onion in a petunia patch among the locals. One group of old timers at a local diner we frequented from time to time, would actually turn their chairs around when I was sitting at a table to watch me eat. I could have sold tickets. It was the first and only time I felt like I held a bit of a celebrity status. At any rate, when I got in the car with the two ladies giving me a ride to the pecan farm, they immediately commented on my shoes and shorts. What? It was well over a hundred degrees that day and the humidity high, I felt a parka and boots to be a bit over the top. I was told shorts when in tall grass or thick bush are not recommended. Ticks and chiggers and God knows what populate those areas and lie in wait for exposed flesh such as mine, not to mention the mosquitos. Secondly, I had on open toed shoes. Wrong again it would seem. Fire ants are prevalent down there and their bite could be quite painful. Can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to arriving at our destination by the end of that informative conversation. All they needed to finish me off, was to tell me there were alligators in the swimming holes. That lesson didn’t come to the forefront until several months down the road.

Arriving at the pecan grove we unloaded our buckets and one of the ladies blessedly sprayed me down with insect repellent to the point where I felt if it had been after dark I would have been emitting a greenish glow. I walked along the rows of trees gathering nuts like a trouper and trying not to think about what might be lurking unseen in the undergrowth beneath my feet. Starting to get a bit overheated, I retrieved a bottle of water from my backpack and leaned against a tree for some shade. It took a minute for my brain to register the pain rising up from my feet, but once it did it was sending out a serious alarm. Looking down red ants were swarming across my shoes and I could feel them biting at my skin. OW. One of the ladies rushed over and pulled off my shoes pouring the water in the bottle in my hand on my feet. The next day I had little pustules all over my feet. Ahhhhh. Aside from that good news, I had picked up a tick which had to be pulled out of my calf with tweezers when I got home. The next time they went I passed. I’d rather get my pecans at the market thank you very much. I’ve never been either bitten or attacked at Raley’s buying nuts. Though, I have to day if today’s news was any indication of the high fever running in this country, I may not be able to say that a month from now. P.S. I’ll tell you about the alligator later. That story made the fire ants look like a walk in the park.

Fire ants

Each place I’ve traveled or lived has proved to provide another piece in the puzzle of my life. Wouldn’t have missed a moment good or bad because each one brought something to the table, some of what was given I threw back but in the long run all of it was useful in one way or another.


Growing up, my world had touches of elegance in it. My grandmother’s table was the gathering place for evening meals, and it was always set beautifully. There were forks for salad, forks for the main course, pickle forks, and dessert forks. We had knives for cutting, butter knives, serving spoons, tea spoons, and soup spoons. Depending on what was on the menu for a given day, these utensils were placed around the dinner plates in order of their use. When offered a half a grapefruit, a serrated spoon could be found sitting next to it on the plate for the purpose of helping whoever was eating it easily remove the sections. Though I did not set the table per se, largely because I could never remember what went where, I did have a hand it creating the mood. My job, was to retrieve the silver napkin rings from the top drawer of the china cabinet and secure them around the cloth napkins. Though not exactly rocket science, I was assured dinner would not be the same without this piece of the puzzle. Though she had more than enough in her world, my grandmother was not a wasteful being. Even after paper napkins became readily available in the grocery stores, my grandmother never used them until she was much older. Even then, she would keep one that wasn’t badly soiled, and reuse it, as she felt throwing them out to be wasteful.

Before having her family, my grandmother was an R.N. Well, for the sake of clarity, she was still an R.N. after having four children, just not a practicing one. When my grandfather, a urologist, first opened his practice, Gammy (as I called her) was his nurse. There were not the disposable products available now, so exam tables were draped with cloth coverings and pillows covered with fabric pillow cases, each which had to be changed between patients. My grandmother would wash the linens in the basement, and then press them crisply on the large ironing machine before returning them to be reused. Few things came in disposable cartons at the time. Milk, for example, was delivered by the milkman (there’s a piece of logic that needs no explaining) in glass bottles. When the bottles were empty, they were put back on the stoop and returned to the farm or factory to be sterilized, refilled, and reused. There were no paper towels either back then. If you needed a towel in the kitchen, you used a dish towel. For messy clean ups, a rag was retrieved from the rag bin, then washed and thrown back in the bin to be used for the next spill. Nowadays, it seems everything is disposable. The problem is where does it go, once we have disposed of it? Today I made a trip to the dump. It was unbelievable the piles of trash they were dealing with, and the plastic!

I was thinking the other day, as a kid I was never handed a bottle of water. If I was thirsty, I walked over to the sink, turned on the faucet, and filled my glass. When playing outside, I turned on the spigot and ducked my head under the tap or grabbed the hose to quench my thirst. There wasn’t the endless amount of trash and debris spilling into our landfills and oceans all these “conveniences” have created. The companies pushing bottled water will tell you their water is drawn from some pristine Himalayan spring kissed by angels, and tiptoed across by the glistening toes of spirited water nymphs. Truth is, it is water. Yup, and they are not trying to hide that fact. If you look on the bottle that is what they call it and that, as they say, is what it is. Like most things in our life if packaged prettily it has more curb appeal. I liken it to going by a property on the market advertising an open house. You arrive at the address, only to find the front yard littered with trash, raccoons scurrying about on the roof and blinds hanging in shreds in the windows. Would you stop to take the tour? My guess would be no. I know I wouldn’t. Manufacturers sell everything with beauty or slick packaging. Gorgeous women are pictured leaning seductively on expensive sports cars, good looking men are featured trimming hedges in commercials peddling power tools. If a bottled water company tried to sell you water and said it was, well, water, why would you pay for it when it freely flows in your kitchen sink? Advertising. Executives are paid high salaries to research a potential client’s customer base and come up with ad campaigns designed to hit their demographic market. We are tracked, examined, and dissected like flies pinned to an entomologist’s board. What programs we tune in to every week, what kind of cars people our age prefer, are red trucks more popular than blue? So many questions and so many firms lined up to provide the answers and the demographics for whatever product a manufacturer is currently pushing on an unsuspecting public.

Ads when I was a kid showed camels puffing on non-filtered cigarettes, and happy people downing cool beers at the beach. These promotions, no longer appropriate for obvious health reasons, have been banned. Instead, we’re bombarded with endless commercials touting the latest hemorrhoid cream or whatever prescription medication is currently hot on the market. What’s unnerving about these blurbs, is after they sing the praises of how this pill eases back pain, or that pill cures shingles, then they start with the side effects. Good Lord. Makes you wonder if the cure isn’t often worse than the disease. In Rick’s case, he took thirteen pills a day. Several were to treat heart related issues. The pills he took for his heart, eventually affected his kidneys and they too began to go downhill.

Wouldn’t it be great if they put all that energy into working to stop or at least slow down the progress of this climate change? There’s no denying it anymore, our oceans are warming and the earth become hotter. This year here in the U.S. they are expecting 17-20 hurricanes. These massive storms are coming earlier in the season, and there are more of them than there used to be. While other parts of the country are struggling with the impact of these mighty winds, enduring flooding, and property loss, those of us living in the western part of the country are dipping into the extreme drought territory and preparing for a much more aggressive fire season. For me it is very scary. I am glad every day I sold my house up in the tall trees and moved down to the valley. Not that it is safe anywhere with our vegetation so dry and our reservoirs so low, it’s just a matter of the degree of threat. Mother Nature is serving us with notice that if we don’t change our ways she will exact consequences.

I try to leave the lightest footprint possible, but certainly don’t always succeed. When I cook I try to use whatever is leftover, if anything, so it doesn’t just get thrown out. I either freeze it and reintroduce it, or simply recreate it as something else. I have found leftover meatloaf can be used in spaghetti sauce, and chicken can be recycled in a myriad of ways. Uneaten ribs can be tossed in a pot of beans or thrown into a hearty soup. When I leave a bottle of water in the car, I save it and pour it on my plants. I wash my clothes and dishes when the tubs are full, and keep my air conditioning at a comfortable level but not icy cold. Also, with the current drought in California I purchased more water resilient plants like succulents this year that wouldn’t require constant watering. If each of us added a few extra steps to our day or slightly adjusted our behavior, we might be able to dial back some of the damage our negligence has already created. We won’t be here to tend the earth fifty years from now, but most likely our children and theirs will. I hope there is something left to tend.

On that note, I will leave you for today to do good things. Have a great one!!

I really think we women are the queens of multi-tasking. Sometimes I stop and look at all the pies I have my fingers in and am amazed when I hit the pillow at night I don’t slip into a coma, rather than spending most of my time trying to convince my mind to go back to sleep. Part of night restlessness, of course, includes the eternal march back and forth to the bathroom that has become part of my repertoire in the last couple of years. John Phillip Sousa should have devoted some time to penning a piece about that. I have followed all the suggestions, “don’t drink anything after six”. Check. “Use the bathroom right before going to bed.” Check. I don’t drink alcohol, nor do I use any artificial sweeteners or consume processed sugar unless in small amounts. Then we get to reducing caffeine. Now, there I draw the line. Susie has got to have her coffee. Logically, it would seem if I drank coffee at 8:00 in the morning, it shouldn’t be processing through my system at 3 a.m., but apparently it can have an effect even after all that time has passed. Disappointing. Coffee is my only vice these days, and they will have to pry my favorite owl cup out of my cold dead hands before I’m giving it up. To be interesting, I believe you need to have at least one vice. This should be limited to something obviously that doesn’t cause you bodily harm, like collecting bottlecaps or being secretly addicted to Pringles. Whoops, it appears I have two vices going at the moment.

Yesterday was a grueling day at my house. The phone was relentless, as there is a lot going on in my world at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I am more than thankful I have such a wonderful and caring group of friends who keep up with me, but still sometimes my lips get worn out with making words and I have run the white flag up the pole. My list of errands was starting to get past the manageable stage, so I decided to cross some of those trips off before I had to run an add for an assistant. Also, I am having my first small dinner party since the Pandemic on Saturday night which requires I actually purchase some food to put on people’s plates. When Rick and I owned our restaurant, we entertained a lot. Looking back I wonder I had time to pull together a large dinner party with the restaurant consuming most of our time, but somehow it all got done and I enjoyed doing it. The house we lived in at the time was set up for entertaining. This little house, as sweet as it is, is more an intimate dinner party than a large gathering. More than six people under this roof would feel like a crowd. As I’ve said before I refer to my kitchen as a “two butt kitchen” because if you get more than two people in the room at once you cannot avoid some intimate contact. I tend to deflect any offers of help cleaning up, because if someone else is in there with me we spend the whole time saying, “I’m sorry”, “excuse me” and it becomes annoying rather than helpful.

Surveying my to-do list I decided to go into Home Goods first. Home Goods is my happy place. You could just lock me up in there for days, and I would never call for assistance. Specifically, I was looking for a kibble container for Boo, the Queen of Cats. I’ve had the same jar for years, with kitty paws decorating the outside, and the lid finally gave up the ghost. Rummaging about in the pet aisle, a lady joined me on the other end with a small wiener dog in tow. The dog, I’m sure much to it’s humiliation, was wearing a pink tutu and had a matching pink and white bow attached to one floppy ear. Dachshunds really are such funny little creatures, with their long tubular bodies, and short little legs. This little one immediately went to the dog toy section. Without hesitation it began politely sorting through the shelf, sniffing this toy and sniffing that one, until finding one that apparently suited its needs. Retrieving the oversized stuffed toy with it’s mouth, the animal sat politely while the owner continued looking at something on the shelf in front of her. Made me smile. The toy was nearly the size of the dog who chose it and was, appropriately, in the shape of a hot dog in a bun. Sometimes life achieves perfect harmony. When the dog’s owner saw me smiling at “Sadie”, she told me Sadie comes into the store quite often and always selects her own treat. Animals really are amazing. When I look at what’s going on in our world these days, makes me wonder if they aren’t the ones who really have things figured out not we humans.

Sometimes, in a weak moment, I think about having another dog. Boo, of course, is not ever going to raise a paw in support of this idea. My sweet old cat believes my world revolves around her furry puss, and in some ways she’s not far off. What I would have done without her over the last few years, I really don’t have an answer for. Was I to get another dog, it would have to be an adult dog, a rescue probably, and already trained. I don’t have the bandwidth at the moment to train a puppy. I have a friend who recently got a Yorkshire puppy, and this little guy has become a full time job. As much as I love animals, I simply don’t have room in my day for long walks in the park, and cleaning up deposits on my rug. Nor do I want my currently disorganized world further disorganized with pee pads, and leash training. The dog, I’m afraid, will have to come later on down the road.

In an effort to reduce my load a bit, the other day I handed the new man in my life a grocery list and sent him off to the store. Yay. Oh, not so fast. The first phone call came in about twenty minutes later. By the time he was done there were six calls in total with questions about this item or that. I could have been in and out and made a pie and had it cooling in the window by the time the trip was complete. My granddaughter went shopping with me a few years ago. Loading the bags in my trunk she said, “Nana, you are the fastest shopper I ever saw”. There’s some truth to that. I am an in and out girl, no side trips. My mother, on the other hand, when she shops, is soooooo slow. Each zucchini has to be examined. Only those passing the Mary Mack comprehensive vetting program will eventually be placed in the bag. Back when she was still living independently, I often visited her in the bay area. While there, a visit to the grocery store was often part of a day out. Mother liked to shop at several higher end stores. The kind of stores where pears are sold with little hammocks swaddling each piece of fruit. One store in particular, had a very attractive produce manager. Mother took me right up to him and while introducing the two of us went on and on about how good looking he was and that he was single. It happened I was as well at the time, so the innuendo was not lost on either of us. This hunky vegetable man kindly selected only the very best produce for my mother to take home with her. Really? Once we’d cleared the vegetable department with no matches made, we moved on to the meat department where every butcher seemed to know her name. After collecting the white packages of meat, we went on to the bakery where small pink boxes wrapped with twine marked “hold for Mary M.” would be waiting for her to pick up. It was like having a concierge grocery store at her disposal.

Grocery store, was fourth on my list yesterday. My plan was to run in and run out with only three items I needed. You know how that goes? You go in for a jar of pickle relish and come out with enough food in your cart to feed an army. While waiting in line, a lady walked through the doors not wearing a face covering. The store had an employee seated by the entrance to provide cart wipes and ostensibly welcome shoppers to the store. Secretly, I suspect they also are tasked with making sure masks are in place before people proceed any further. This lady was not happy when asked to put on a mask. For me, I’m so used to it that I don’t quite get the problem. Just put it on, do what you need to, and get over it. I could see this wasn’t going to go well. The CDC says fully vaccinated people can ditch the masks but unvaccinated people need to continue wearing him. How do you enforce that I wonder? It’s not like we get a stamp on our hands or something once our regimen of shots have been completed. People who weren’t inclined to wear masks in the first place are also likely to fall under the people who don’t want to get the vaccination in the first place umbrella. Why would you think they’d suddenly volunteer to wear one if it wasn’t mandated? Is is just me?

At any rate, this irate lady got her irritation out LOUDLY, and then stormed out of the store. K. Susie just needed her chicken, and now apparently twenty or thirty other items. Shopping seems to have become my favorite pastime lately. I like to attribute this to not being able to get out of the house for the last year and a half, but truthfully I think it’s hereditary. My mother is a consummate shopper. I have known her to arrive at a mall when it opened and remain there until nearly supper time. As a teen, I can remember helping to unload bags and packages from her trunk. These were stored in my closet out of the way of my stepfather’s watchful eyes. One by one the clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry were introduced into the household. My stepdad would say, “Is that new”? My mother would reply, “This old thing”?

So today I am off to finish my list. Think I’ll get some fresh flowers for my table. Feels festive to have guests again. Have a great weekend.

Today I spent a good part of my afternoon dealing with insurance companies. It never ceases to amaze me how these huge corporations can charge exorbitant amounts of money for the privilege of insuring you, then when you actually need to use the insurance you have paid for, do everything in their power to make it difficult for you to do so. I was helping someone I care about very much traverse the deep, dark depths of our healthcare system. This person is a complete novice when it comes to being ill, and a very nice and kind human to boot. Allowing him to try to figure this out alone, would be like sending a lamb to the slaughter. The diagnosis is possible lung cancer. I told him, like a roller derby queen with rivals on her heels, you have to elbow and bully your way to the front of the line, because time, particularly with this disease is not your friend. This, I can speak to with experience. Rick also had lung cancer. It was not good to him, as emphasized by the fact he is not here to tell you his story himself.

My friend has an HMO. This supposedly means he can pick and choose from the pool of doctors within his network, rather than be limited to a certain group of physicians. So, we got some recommendations for excellent doctors in this field, and he contacted his primary care physician who in turn sent off a referral to the oncologist we had selected. As luck will have it, his insurance card listed a particular county under the primary physicians name which is the county next to mine. The oncologist he chose is situated in my county. This completely threw a monkey wrench into an already unbelievably red tape bound system, and the wheels of progress came to a loud and grinding halt. I spoke to three different representatives, each one providing us with varying interpretations of his coverage. Now, there is fluid building up on the outside of this man’s lungs while all this is transpiring, a situation destined only to get worse not improve as time marches on. Phone calls are going back and forth and the clock is ticking. Finally, a healthcare representative got on the phone with the oncologist’s insurance person and some sanity returned where lunacy had reigned supreme. Good Lord. Still, we were informed an authorization had to go through the big machine and be approved first prior to seeing the oncologist he had chosen. Okay, let’s do it. This, the rep said, takes 3-4 days. Once that is done, then an assessment is done at the physician level to determine the urgency of the situation. Now, I didn’t go to school for twelve years, I don’t wear a white coat nor do I dangle a stethoscope around my neck, but even I can pretty much predict the outcome to that one. It was urgent two weeks ago. Sigh. A whole other question lingering in the background is how, when under a physician’s care for heart issues the past year, did one of those doctors not hear the sounds in this man’s lungs with an instrument in their ears? Particularly, when I could hear the congestion while standing next to him. Many times as we get older, our complaints are written off as hypochondriacal, or lumped under the “it comes with getting older” umbrella. This too, needs to be looked at under a magnifying glass. For years if I complained about not feeling well it was dismissed as women problems. Right. I am missing two non-essential parts due to doctors waiting too long to diagnose a situation.

No sooner had we put the wheels in motion to get this approval going, another phone call came in telling us it couldn’t be done. It seems in the insurance company the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing and we had been given the wrong information. In the state of California our insurance is divided up into sections. In order to go to a doctor, even under an HMO, the doctor must be located in the section you reside in. We could have used my address but as we’d already explained the situation to several people that train had already left the station. So, back to square one, we began the referral loop for an oncologist in his area. This has been processed, thankfully, and an appointment is on the books for he end of next week. I pushed for sooner, but it seems there are a lot of people dealing with cancer at the moment, so we wait. In the mean time, if his situation goes from tolerable to not, he must go to the ER immediately. I am exhausted, but this is nothing compared to how frightened and unsettled my friend must be feeling as he is the one with the ticking time bomb inside his body.

Hopefully, one of these days we’ll actually get elected officials willing to step up and do something about the exorbitant drug costs as well as the broken insurance situation in this country. It is difficult to get them motivated in the current your side and my side mindset existing in our legislature. To add to that, the people in congress have their healthcare paid for so they aren’t really pushed against the wall on their end to do anything about it. Perhaps that should change?

Anyhow, for this day we have put out the fire. I’m sure many others will pop up along the path but I feel some advancement has been made. Truly you have to be your own advocate if you wish to have the end result you are looking for when dealing with a medical condition. Never be afraid to say you don’t agree or fight for what you know needs to be done and where you need to be seen.

My vent for a Thursday. Have a great day. Stay healthy.

Yesterday I filled my car up for nearly $60. I have a mid-sized Ford Fusion so can only imagine what it’s costing owners to fill up an SUV or truck. Prices are definitely on the rise. After leaving lighter at the pumps, I stopped at the market for a pound of hamburger and some bread crumbs and left there $12 to the bad. This, not to mention, I checked out my own groceries and paid ten cents to place them in a bag.

Looking at my finances lately, I have decided I need to pare down on frills and extras such as premium movie channels, etc. I have a fire stick so really don’t need another well to draw from. As it is, I spend most of my time looking for something I want to watch. When I switched tv providers, included were a bank of premium channels for a year. This because they righteously screwed up the original installation and felt they owed me something for my inconvenience. Remembering another time when I got a similar “deal” and forgot to turn them off after the time they were given to me, I called my cable company and asked them to discontinue the free channels on the date they would become my responsibility. A half an hour later I hung up after listening to three hundred reasons why I should keep them and other deals I could involve myself in for less cash on the line. Proud of myself, I stood my ground and they are all going off next month. Yay.

I noticed immediately following that conversation ads promoting my cable company began showing up on my computer. Amazing isn’t it how they track us these days? The other day I had a conversation with my son-in-law about inflatable pools for kids. My phone was on, but sitting on the table next to us while we were talking. When I picked it up an ad popped up with a link to an inflatable pool sight. Someone, as they say, is listening. Wow. All of us with devices are being seriously tracked. I’m sure most of you have noticed you search for something on line and that item keeps showing up in ad form every site you go on after that. Kind of scary to think we’re being monitored that closely. Makes me feel like a lab rat in a cage. Next they’ll be inserting chips like Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, has under her skin so they can really keep tabs on us, or tabby as her case might be.

As you might be able to tell I’m feeling a little out of sorts. Last night I had the most ridiculous dream, which I will share with you. You’re welcome. Makes me wonder what manner of mind this is resting underneath this blonde head. In the dream I had ordered a sandwich from Subway to be delivered to my door. This is less a dream really then a reality, because since I moved here the Door Dash guy and I have added our names to each other’s Christmas lists. At any rate, as I often do, I ordered turkey. When the doorbell rang I opened the door to find a portly gentlemen standing there wearing a chef’s hat and a red bandana looking for all the world like Chef Boyardee. In very broken English he began yelling at me while shaking my sandwich wildly over your head. “Youa, not Italian”, he’s screaming. “Where’s the meata”? “Meata”, I replied? “I ordered turkey.” “That’s a no meat” he went on as parts of my sandwich began flying through the air. “Meata, likea, pepperoni, ham, salami”. “Oh”, says I. At that point I woke up to find myself giggling. There you go. I’ve completely snapped a twig. I knew it was coming after a year and a half in this house.

Finally, they say we can go about our lives once vaccinated. I cannot tell you how much I want to embrace that. There are still, unfortunately, a lot of people out there who are vaccine hesitant or consider not getting the vaccination some sort of political statement. Here we are in a country with too much vaccine in supply with people turning down what is available, while other countries who are suffering and begging for it don’t have any. Life at times, is so confusing. Once I was at a lecture on eating disorders. The speaker said, “Only in America would you find people eating the food provided for them, and then bringing it back up”, while other countries don’t have a bowl of rice to feed their children. Words to live by.

Eating disorders are sort of a consistent vein running through our family. I believe my grandmother on my mother’s side might have suffered from one. Back in her day they didn’t know much about eating disorders, but if she was around now I’m pretty sure that might have been her diagnosis. The woman weighed about ninety eight pounds soaking wet. Every day I can remember her strapping herself into a whalebone corset. Even as a child I wondered what on earth she was holding in. Also, though she was a phenomenal baker, my guess is she didn’t consume a lot of what came out of her kitchen. My mother told me once my grandmother took a laxative daily, which is a big warning sign, and as I recall she ate half of everything she put on her plate which is another one. Mother has always been hyper focused on calories. Having a chubby kid must have been sort of a puckish trick the universe played on her. Even today with the dementia she still talks about calories when sitting down to a meal. My grandfather was a doctor. Mother said he didn’t approve of excess weight, as he felt it was unhealthy, and I believe that is where some of this might be rooted. He was a kind man, so I’m sure it wasn’t ill intended, but sometimes ill intended or not the arrow still hits it’s mark.

Growing up food was always an issue in our house. My stepfather was a naturally thin person. He could consume a half a brontosaurus, lie down for a two hour nap, eat a gallon of rocky road and lose three pounds. Just how he was wired. If you got up to get seconds from his table, he would announce loudly if asked if he’d like more as well, “No, thank you. I eat to live, not live to eat.” Whatever. Thin people don’t understand the struggle of people who simply glance at a Twinkie and gain ten pounds. They simply don’t get it.

In middle school I lost my baby fat. This didn’t occur naturally, like the sun setting in the evening. My mother initiated a diet regimen for me as I requested, coupled with exercise during the summer between seventh and eighth grade. That, along with sprouting up from 5′ tall entering high school to 5′ 6 1/2″ by the time I graduated I had whittled down to fighting weight. Apparently I have also inherited my mother’s speedy metabolism, which helps to allow me to keep my weight at a manageable level, where it has remained up until this point. Nonetheless, I do show tells here and there of tendencies towards eating disorders. I watch what I eat, I never eat sweets (or very rarely), I exercise daily, and before I used to weigh myself daily (I stopped that several years ago). When I snack I usually have four soda crackers and some cheese or an apple. My one real weakness though, my dirty little secret, are my Pringles. Got to have my salt and vinegar Pringles. Should they ever run out in the stores, guaranteed I’ll be standing on a street corner somewhere negotiating a deal with some tattooed guy with a nose ring for however many cases he has in his trunk.

Will Smith posted a picture on social media of his weight gain during the pandemic. He’s not alone for sure. Almost everyone I know has packed on some pounds over the past year and a half. I’ve got a few extra I’m trying to ignore myself. Always when summer shows up and the bathing suits come out of storage I begin to survey the damage done during the winter and dust off the weights in my closet. I don’t use them mind you, but I do dust them off.

So we come out of hibernation and feel the sun on our faces once again. Wonderful. Unfortunately, our sun is shining a little too often so we are in a bad drought situation here in California with our largest reservoirs looking pretty darn sparse. I have already packed my to-go in a hurry bag just in case. With all this dry fuel, fire season could be relentless and I want to be ready to move should the need arise. The urge to relocate again is upon me and I find myself looking at other states and what they have to offer. No matter where you go the weather is becoming a problem, but boy I do hate these fires and find myself dragging my feet about stepping into summer once again.

So with that general mishmash of everything and nothing I’ll leave you for today. Have a safe and smile packed weekend.

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