Were I a knee, I would describe myself as out of joint. I feel uncomfortable, like my life doesn’t quite fit me properly anymore. I suspect this is because I am in the process of shedding my old life as I knew it, and stepping into a totally different and unfamiliar new one. I don’t like it. I don’t like this unsettled muddled feeling at all. Sometimes, I wish I still enjoyed a dry martini now and then. It’s not I don’t drink at all these days, I do here and there, but I can’t remember the last time I downed a martini. I find my life works just fine without alcohol on most days, with the desire for a cocktail usually only popping up in social situations, which have been less frequent over the past couple of years with the virus running amok. Perhaps this uneasy feeling is partly due to the pandemic? It has been two years now, and I think the impact of being constantly vigilant has finally caught up with me. People are getting cranky, stores are low on supplies, and prices are heading up every week. I spent $109 at the store the other day and came home with eggs, cheese and kitty litter. I could not believe the little cheeses I used to pick up for what I considered an extravagant $4.99 are now selling for $11.99. Apparently along with supply chain issues the rising prices are also linked to the rising minimum wage. Don’t misunderstand me, I think workers in any field should be paid a living wage. However, it doesn’t stop there. Rick used to say the problem with raising the minimum wage is that prices go up commensurably leaving us in the same situation we were before the minimum wage went up. It’s a dilemma for sure how to deal with the inflation running rampant at the moment, plus the virus which has one again mutated to take another huge toll on our population. Glad I’m not running this country. You should be glad as well because I find balancing my checkbook an all day affair.

My first husband, the children’s dad, was a genius with numbers. Truly, he was just a genius at so many things. Math was never my strong suit. I endured high school algebra and geometry, but cruised through both classes by the skin of my pearly white teeth. One of my first, and the shortest, job I ever had was working as a bank clerk. I showed up for work at eight, spent the entire morning adding and then adding again huge columns of numbers never getting the same total one single time. You’d think with random luck I might have accidentally hit it more than once, but not that day. I went home at lunch and never came back. Instead I called my new boss and said she would thank me down the road for submitting my resignation, and wished her well on finding a more suitable replacement. Thankfully, there has been much forward progress since then.

Fortunately I haven’t had to add much of late. I have found myself a bit flat this January, as if a lot of air had leaked out of my tires. Dale used to say when he got like that he needed “spiritual food”. Thinking that advice could never be bad for my overall mental health, I got together with his daughter and sister-in-law, both very spiritual beings, to help me reinflate my tires. Yesterday we met “virtually” in person and spent a couple of hours outlining our intentions for the upcoming year. The idea was to create a vision board with pictures indicating our goals, dreams, and aspirations for 2022 to help us focus on where we want to go and what we want to achieve. For me at least, it definitely reinflated my spirit and rebooted my energy. I may not accomplish everything I listed, but at least I have created a loose game plan for myself to follow. If you don’t have some plan of action it’s like sending a football team out on the field with no playbook. They may all be excellent players but once the whistle blows everyone will be running around willy nilly with no united goal in sight.

Trips are definitely in the offing over the next months. I do not want to sit here in my sweet little house watching the grass grow. One of my first trips will be in May. I am meeting a friend who I haven’t seen in over twenty years in Redding for a four day getaway. We chose Redding because, a) there are lots of things to see and do in that area, and, b) it is roughly the halfway point between where I live in the Sacramento area and she lives around Salem, Oregon. While there, I am going to satisfy two of my bucket list items which are seeing the Celtic Women perform live and going zip lining. This is exciting stuff. Well, it’s exciting for me at least. I can’t speak for how riveting it is for you on your end.

I watched “Places in the Heart” around 3 a.m. last night. Saying that, gives you a glimpse into how well my new sleep aid is working. There is a scene in the movie where the newly widowed character Sally Field is playing goes into the bank to get instruction on how to write a check. Before he was killed, her husband had handled all the finances. Now, without him, everything, including raising the children and keeping a roof over their heads fell totally to her. I identified with that scene, having been there myself many years ago. It brought into perspective for me how far my journey has taken me since then. Over the years, through trial and error, I have discovered what works in my life and what does not. I like to think like powdered sugar on a freshly baked donut, the best and most useful of what I’ve picked up has stuck to my sides, while the rest of it that either didn’t work for me or was not needed, has sluffed off and been left behind.

One of the items I pinned on my vision board, was learning new things. My goal is to learn several new skills, or at least try them on for size, every month. To this end, I bought a mason jar. Inside the jar I placed folded pieces of paper with the skills I would like to aim for this month. At the end of the month I will look at those I have actually completed, acknowledge I did them, and toss them. Those left in the jar I will roll over into February and see it perhaps I can accomplish them during that time, and so on. Yesterday, I tried out the first one, hanging it on the line to see how it looked. I signed up for a beginning watercolor class on line. Now, I have been dabbling in art since I was in elementary school, many times earning my living with my creative skills. Watercolor, however, has always been an art form I have been interested in but never pursued. At the assigned time, I signed into Zoom with the other students and picked up my brush. There was a pre-assigned list of supplies to gather, which I’d laid out before me. Also, we had been instructed to download a sketch and duplicate it on watercolor paper before tuning into the class. Done and done.

The instructor, a woman and apparently a teacher on the college level, was chatty and helpful. The student’s video buttons were engaged, but we couldn’t unmute so the only voice heard was the instructor Oh, and her dog, Nelson. Nelson actually wandered in and out of camera range occasionally offering a bit of input on what he was observing. For me being unable to ask questions or share ideas was like having one hand tied behind my back and trying change a tire. I am more comfortable in a classroom where there is an exchange of ideas. This was my first virtual art room. I have to say I prefer meeting in person but like everything right now we are safer apart than huddled together so virtual meetings are safer and more convenient. The sketch we had been given to reproduce was of water lilies. Our first task from the instructor, was to paint our leaves in a wash of green. I was almost done with the first leaf, there were three, when I looked up to see the teacher (all three leaves washed) moving on to the lilies themselves. Ach. Hello, unmute, unmute, expletive. Oh. Anyhow, I abandoned my leaves for the first lily and as I was busy washing pink across my flowers, I heard the teacher telling us to move on the the pistil. Her flowers, of course, were done. I believe the pistil is the center circular part of the flower often yellow in color. However, I can’t be sure of this because I was in mute mode and couldn’t inquire. The instructor was painting that part of her flower, so I abandoned my pink petals and squeezed a blob of yellow on my pallet and began to paint the first of my pestils. Before you could say Leonardo de Vinci the instructor was holding up her completed picture and asking us to do the same. At that point, I hit my no video button as well and waved my goodbyes. Once I signed off, I sat and finished the picture at my leisure which, surprisingly, I really like. There’s one little folded piece of paper in my Mason jar reading “take an art class” headed for the trash bin come February 1st. Yay. There’s an old saying I heard a lot while living in the south I think applies here, “Do something, even if it’s wrong”. I believe the lesson here is that it is better to try and fail then to not try at all. There ya go.

Funny how doing one thing often begets another. Once done with my lilies, I felt the urge for the first time in over a year to pull out my sketch book and drawing tools. For the rest of the day I sat happily at the table creating the first drawing I’ve done since my life became more stressful. What a lovely sense of relief it was to find myself bent over my pencil again. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever feel a movement in that direction again.

So, create something different in your life today. Take a different route to work, eat something you’ve never tried before. Be brave, make a difference.

I had minor surgery on my back yesterday to remove a cancerous area. This is not my first rodeo when it comes to this type of surgery, and it won’t be my last. As I said in my previous blog, it is the curse of being a fair skinned, light eyed person of English descent. I shall drop a note to the Queen one of these days and tell her I don’t at all appreciate the extra burden my British ancestry has imposed on my life.

The appointment was set for the ungodly hour of 8 am. It’s not like I’m not up with the chickens, but don’t necessarily wish to be on the road that early now that I’m not punching a clock anymore. Several friends called to wish me well, putting me a little behind. I gathered up the accoutrement it appears necessary to get me up and running and locked the door behind me. In the car, I cranked her up, and noted the “check engine light” that keeps turning on and off, was once again front and center on my dashboard. I contacted Ford the other day to get an appointment to get this looked at and the overly burdened lady in their service department told me she could fit me in just before the holidays roll around again this year. Sadly, with everything being so far behind, I told her to add me to the roster. Sigh. What’s a girl to do?

Pulling out into the street I glanced down at my feet only to have instant realization of how distracted I have been of late. Secured on both feet were my big green fuzzy slippers. Thankfully, I noticed before I plodded into the doctor’s office to check in for my appointment looking like an oversized version of Oscar the Grouch. If there are any keepers out there needing work, please leave your applications with my people and I’ll get back to you. Good Lord. So, back in I went, now late, and shoes were put on both feet as it should be. All was well with the world.

The procedure took about an hour. Once they anesthetize you, the worst of it is over. Until, of course, the numbness wears off. I was a dental assistant in a former life. One of the things I liked least about the job, and there were many, was being the one who prepped the syringes. Always, I felt like the executioner getting the noose secured to the scaffold. The practice I worked for specialized in orthodontia. That being said, most of the victims, uh patients, were children. That was difficult for me. Why on earth I ever decided to go into that field to begin with still boggles the mind. I can’t stand the dental office. The smells, the noise, the pain, the blood. I would rather be shot in the foot. What was I thinking? I actually wanted to be a medical assistant, but couldn’t handle the thought of giving people injections. Perhaps neither job was in a field I should have been sniffing around in. As a teen, I wanted to be a nurse for a while, like my paternal grandmother. Somehow I knew my total inability to deal with visceral issues such as throwing up or worse meant I wasn’t ideally suited for training for that profession.

After the surgery, they had me straddle the chair and drink apple juice from a juice cup. A nurse came in and handed me a package of crackers, instructing me to eat them before leaving. With the little shirt on they gave me to wear during the procedure, I felt like a fourth grader. To complete the picture, the doctor kept referring to me as a “peanut” because I am a rather slight human. Truth is, I didn’t mind it. I’ve been called worse. So, I can check that off my list. It felt strange when they asked me to confirm my information at the front desk. One of the questions the lady in reception asked was whether Dale was still my emergency contact. “Sadly, no”, I replied. Watching her delete him from my records felt deep to me. The significance of that action was not lost on my heartstrings. I have to go back every two days and have the bandage changed for twelve days, because where the wound is located I am unable to reach myself. The universe was giving me a clear message, “You’re on your own, kid. Better learn to deal with it.” Heard and received, thank you very much. Driving towards home, my mind told me I needed a treat so before merging onto the freeway I pulled in behind the other cars at the Starbuck’s drive-thru. A caramel frappuccino has cured many a rough day for me.

After I came home, I gave myself a rare pass for the day and binge watched Netflix shows and did not one productive thing to support my goal of being a useful human being. It was rather glorious. Wouldn’t want to do it every day, but I think my body was telling me it was tired and needed to rest, and I felt I needed to honor the request.

Today I am stiff, but doing much better. I seem to have picked up some juice after wiling away a 24 hour period on my back eating Doritos and enjoying some chill time watching Grace and Frankie. Definitely, a walk is in my future today before those corn chips decide to take up permanent residence on my posterior side. I had to cancel a session I signed up for several months ago with a local grief group meeting today which saddened me. This was a new group, and I was looking forward to meeting others in the area dealing with the loss of a spouse or life partner. With things as they are right now with the bug, going into an unknown group of people who have a choice of whether to mask up or not is not an option for me. Between my mother, who is most vulnerable, and our littlest member, who is three, I can’t take the chance of bringing a hitchhiking germ home with me.

One thing I remind myself frequently, as these are challenging times, is that a year from now things will look different. As with everything, the tide will go out again and we will return to normal (whatever normal might be). So, I forge on undaunted and plan to clean out closets and drawers today in case the Queen stops by for tea.

Take a breath, drink in the glorious pink colors cascading across the sky as the sun comes up, and hold tight to the good thoughts of better days to come.


I got up early this morning to go get my blood drawn. Even though I’ve had Covid, am fully vaccinated and boosted, and stamped with the USDA seal of approval, I still can’t help but absorb all the Covid news circulating on the television. Makes you ponder the thought, will this ever end? I got a text from my mother’s caregiver this morning alerting me positive Covid tests are required 48 hours prior to a visit until February. Problem is I can’t find any tests locally. Tried to order them on line and some of them were $84 for a kit. There’s always someone willing to make a profit on misery I’m afraid. It doesn’t help that there is so much conflicting information being given out by this agency or that. First, they said cloth masks were fine, now they are not. Then it was hospital masks were the best. Just when I got settled in with those, an MD came on some talk show and said they provide little or no protection. Now they are saying the N95 masks are the ones to wear. I have several, but when I wear them they keep steaming up my glasses. I guess that’s better than getting sick, but I am feeling a little sick, sick and tired. Maybe I should just wrap myself in visqueen and duct tape and be done with it.

Do you need anything at the market?

I have friends in both camps on this question. Some of my friends have their food, prescriptions, well everything they can really, delivered. Others, wear masks hit and miss, or seem to always have one floating around somewhere under their nose or hanging off one ear, and don’t seem much concerned about it one way of the other. I also have friends who are unvaccinated. These friends create a problem for me. My world is populated with an elderly mother, vaccinated but not yet boosted, and a three year old not eligible to be vaccinated as yet. They are my concern. Most likely I would just suffer mild symptoms if I got the bug again, (already had it at the beginning of all this), but the result of the virus for them could have far more serious consequences. So I float about in the murky world in between trying to protect myself and those I love as best I can.

There was an older gentleman in line in front of me at the lab standing full on the 6′ foot apart marker as the large sign instructed. When I got in line behind him, he stepped off the marker for a moment and turned to acknowledge my presence by nodding and I think smiling. Hard to tell these days what a person is doing beneath their masks. For all I know, the man could have been sticking his tongue out at me. Preparing to nod and smile back, a big fly took that precise moment to dive bomb my glasses and I waved it off with my hand. The man, I’m assuming thinking I was gesturing he was too close to me, took the hint and hopped back on his marker and waited to be called with no further communication. Life, at times, is just too funny.

I don’t like having my blood drained. Sometimes it feels to me like they keep filling and filling the little vials. Makes you wonder if you have enough left to keep things working properly. Lately, blood banks have been advertising big time for blood donors. I have never done that. For some reason, I always thought they wouldn’t take mine. Writing that the statement it sounds ridiculous even to me, but that is the truth. It’s not like I’m suffering from anything vile, or am carrying something I am aware of I could pass on to an unsuspecting recipient. In spite of that logic, I have for some obtuse reason, always had the feeling I would go in and sign up and they would look at me and say, “No, but thank you for thinking of us”. Now that I’ve said it out loud and committed it to paper (so to speak), I believe I need to do it both to help people who need it, and to clear out the cobwebs in the logic making section of my brain. Definitely a malfunction somewhere.

I am also scheduled for surgery later today for a spot on my skin that got a bad report from the lab. Thankfully, it’s not on my face, but rather somewhere lurking on a shoulder blade. The curse, so I’m told, of being a fair skinned, light eyed, person of English descent and a former sun worshiper. Let’s face it you can’t live in California if you are running around lily white. People here find it offensive. Now that they’ve determined the actual sun is damaging for our skin, people have turned to salons to get their tans or are having them sprayed on. I am the only member of our family I am aware of that doesn’t actually ignite when exposed to the sun. I will tan, and tan beautifully, and for doing so most of my young life must deal with what I will be dealing with a few hours from now. These days, I only worship the sun from afar from beneath a hat with a brim, lathered with twenty layers of industrial strength tanning lotion. Yawn, I know!

My mother’s last husband, Will, was a commercial pilot. Preceding his time in that job, he was a highly decorated fighter pilot during good old WWII, flying many missions in defense of our country. It is my understanding many pilots from that era went on to fly commercially. I also have an uncle on my father’s side of the family that flew many years for a large Canadian airline after his war effort. Will had much trouble with his skin in later years, having spot after spot removed from his face, arms and legs. This was attributed to the fact the glass in the cockpit does not protect their skin from the damaging rays. Apparently, the likelihood of getting melanoma and other skin cancers is much higher in flight crews then us ordinary landlocked humans.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be responsible for flying one of those jumbo jets. I have flown in smaller versions, and even taken a lesson myself. That was unnerving enough, but to man (or woman as the case may be) the controls of something that size must get the blood pumping at an amazing rate. Will described it as exhilarating, but the word that came to mind for me was terrifying.

My children’s father had a big yen for soaring through the air. After both children had entered school he came to me and said he was interested in getting his private pilot’s license. Oh boy. I had a feeling I would somehow be dragged into this desire, and it really wasn’t something I was enthusiastic about. Oddly enough when I was in college I wanted to be a flight attendant, but I got married and had kids instead and had lost the taste for it. After much cajoling I said fine, but said please don’t make it my quest at well though I would support his wanting to do it. Right. Well, it looked good on paper, again figuratively.

A flight school was located and money exchanged. Pretty soon, my other half’s weekends were filled with hours flying the friendly skies with his instructor learning how to maneuver the Cessna they trained in. On occasion, to offer support, the children and I would stand on the tarmac and wave enthusiastically as the small plane took off and landed and was put through it’s paces. To his credit, he saw the course through to the end and was finally ready for his solo flight to get his license. We were young, I shall preface, before continuing. The route was to take him from the small local airport near our house to Bakersfield Airport, another small local field. Yay. Amazingly, my husband suggested I accompany him. What? Really? Let’s hit refresh. The definition of solo, “done by one person alone; unaccompanied”. Hmmmmm, what part of that could you be missing?

As I said, we were in our early twenties. My only defense is my brain wasn’t fully formed yet. Truly I have nothing else to offer here. Again with much cajoling, I somehow agreed to this ridiculous idea and said I would go. A plan was formed. He would taxi down the field alone and then pick me up at an assigned place and we would take off together. K. Looking back, I can’t clearly remember how we finagled my getting in the plane, but into the plane I got. We flew up through the mountains and the wind was up. The wings dipped right, and then the wings dipped left. I realized at one point the sound I heard over the engines whirring was me praying out loud. Next, we hit a bank of fog moving in from the coast. By the time we hit Bakersfield, the soup was fairly thick. My husband contacted the tower for permission to land and instructions were given. I felt like I was leaning on one side when a voice came through the radio yelling “abort the landing, followed by our flight number”! Then he added now yelling, “Adjust your wings, you are coming in sideways. Oh man. When we miraculously finally touched down on good old terra firma, rather than just punching my hero straight in the nose, I made my way to the airport bar and ordered something double and alcoholic. When he suggested we were going to have to fly back, I said he was perhaps, but I definitely was signing off as co-pilot of that operation. In the end, I took an extremely expensive cab ride back home, the cost of which was never mentioned by my husband.

Small planes, propeller versions, feel to me like you’re hanging in the air suspended from a spinning top likely to be dropped to freefall spinning to the ground at any moment. This is, most probably, because that is precisely what you are doing. For those of us with an itch to soar with the birds, I would suppose it is one needing to be scratched. For me, I like my feet planted squarely on the ground and my face looking upward at the beautiful blue sky. What a lovely bit of capriciousness of nature, we are all so alike and yet so uniquely different as beings.

Happy flying, or singing, or drawing, or surfing to you today. Follow your dreams wherever they take you even if you encounter a little fog along the way.


As I said in my previous blog, I plan to branch out and pencil in some adventures on my calendar for 2022. First and foremost, I need to see the ocean. I don’t say I want to see it, because really for me it can be a pull of such strength I would actually have to describe it as an emotional longing or need. Having grown up in Nova Scotia, a peninsula, water is as much a part of me as my breath and I miss seeing it every single day I am away.

Last year I located an old friend, Sam, on Facebook I had lost contact with twenty-five years ago. She and I parted ways after a disagreement. For the life of me I can’t remember now what it was about, but we let our friendship slip through our fingers over it. Funny, what seemed so important at the time doesn’t even resonate with my memory bank today. Goes to show you, petty arguments should be able to be easily resolved if the relationship is solid. Truth is, my life was kind of a horror show the year we drifted apart, so if I had been my BFF back then I might have taken the only lifeboat and rowed to shore without me as well. At any rate, since reconnecting, we talk once a week by phone and have planned a reunion trip for the week after Mother’s Day. Yay. The last time we saw each other, both of us were living in Redondo Beach on the Palos Verde peninsula in Southern California. These days, I make my home in the foothills around Sacramento and she relocated to Oregon several years. So, the plan is to meet in the middle for a few days and get to know each other again. Consulting a map, dead set in the middle between the two points is Yreka, California, a lovely little historical mining town with a population of 7,800 and change. As picturesque as the area is, there isn’t a whole lot to do there. That being said, I have been bouncing around the Internet looking at opportunities within driving distance where we can get in some trouble. Mission accomplished.

The first thing I came across was a Dude Ranch. When I posed this suggestion to Sam, she immediately asked if the price per person included the dudes. I told her I believe dudes are only included if you purchase the deluxe package, but we could look into it. It sounds like a silly suggestion to some perhaps, but to me I think it might be fun. I haven’t been on a horse since my early thirties, but I’m willing to give it a go if the horse is up to the task. Also, I found a national park within driving distance offering zip lining, which is high on my bucket list. The bucket being there in case I lose my lunch immediately following.

Mt. Shasta is an easy drive from Yreka as well. Years ago, I visited that area with my third husband. The beautiful snow capped peak holds many mysteries for native americans. Many believe it to be the center of the universe and even of creation. Truly, if you’ve been there, it does hold a mystical kind of feel around it.

We took a couple of days while there to explore the natural beauty of the area. Before leaving for home, my ex suggested we also take the tour of the Lake Shasta Caverns. Finding enclosed areas such as caves a slightly offputting, I was a bit hesitant, but finally agreed to tag along. The odyssey began with a spine jarring bus ride up the hill to where the entrance of the caverns located. There are tee shirts being sold in the gift shop reading “I survived the bus ride at the Lake Shasta Caverns”. There is a reason these are sold there. It is like putting a warning label on a poisonous substance. Someone is saying to you, run, save yourself. Seriously, that whole day was a bit of a minefield for me, but I have to say the bus ride really was putting the worst of it, first. The person hired to drive the bus up the winding road apparently harbored a huge grudge towards humanity in general, and had been given a weapon with which to wreak his vengeance. OMG. At one point, three wheels were on the road with the fourth wheel hanging suspended in mid air over the valley below before it once again engaged with the dirt and caught traction whipping us around the next u shaped curve. Mommy. When we were finally deposited at the top of the hill, shaken but not stirred, I swear I heard shrieking demonic laughter as the bus driver once again engaged the clutch and headed back down the hill to gather up his next group of unsuspecting victims.

A chirpy guide greeted us at the entrance. Before we entered the caves themselves, she asked if we had any health problems, specifically heart. Personally, I think they should have asked that before allowing us on the bus, but the fact they were asking it at all was somewhat concerning to me. Also, she asked if any of us were claustrophobic. Three hands went up, one of them attached to my arm. Oh-oh. She went on to say there were some tight spaces and long staircases if any of those health problems applied. I thought of going back down, but I’m not one to run away from something that scares me. Besides, I would have had to get back on the bus, and I wasn’t ready for that yet. So, onward and upward. It really was beautiful inside. Amazing natural sculptures raised up from the floor of the cave reaching up towards others equally as spectacular spiraling down from the ceiling. As we moved further into the belly of the beast, my claustrophobia began to make itself known. First, my heart began to pound like a conga drum and then beads of sweat began to form under the hair on the back of my neck. If that wasn’t enough to deal with, we came to a staircase that reached from where we were standing up, up, and up, looking like it ended somewhere near where the universe began. Someone made a joke about it, asking where the elevator was located. I was hoping there was a definitive answer for that. What seemed like hours later, we finally made it to the last of those massive set of steps. Secretly, I hoped there were paramedics waiting for me at the top. Good Lord. It reminded me of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The stairs going to the top there spiral around for days. By the time Rick and I got close to the end of that ordeal, he was crawling on to the next step on his hands and knees. Though the view was magnificent once we made it, I’m not sure I’d sign up for it again.

That will be one of at least three trips I plan to make this year, Covid willing and the creeks don’t rise. It is exciting to think of seeing new places and experiencing new things. I’m not a person who likes to have one day closely resemble the day before. While on this train of thought earlier in the day, I found myself wondering if Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, ever gets bored. She’s always lived inside a house, perched on her mountain of pillows. Each day at two hour intervals she shows up on her mat for two treats, and then it’s back to bed until the next round comes along. Sometimes, she varies the routine by doing wind sprints round the house in the middle of the night or throwing her stuffed mice around the living room, but there’s not much about one day that isn’t as familiar as the one preceding it. She’s never written me a memo to attest to the fact, but secretly I think she likes it that way. This, I fear will remain locked in her kitty mind and left for me to ponder on.

I am taking a software class this afternoon so I shall end on that note. Have a great weekend if I’m not back til Monday. Did want to end by saying how sorry I was to hear Sidney Poitier passed. What a wonderful gift he was to the movie world. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched In the Heat of the Night or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. I will miss him.

Helloooo 2022

Well here we are, 2022. Wow. I remember seeing 2001 a Space Odyssey back in the day and imagining where we would be when 2001 actually rolled around on the calendar. In our minds back then, we pictured by this time in history, humans would be hovering above ultra modern cities in personal spacecraft. It didn’t seem far fetched to imagine people in 2001 routinely hopping aboard inter galactic transports visiting space stations in far off galaxies or having dinner served by robotic maids in computerized kitchens. Here we are now twenty years and counting past that date, still trying to figure out how to keep our gas powered vehicles on the road. Amazing.

I hope you all had a nice holiday season. It would have been additionally joyous had Covid taken a vacation as well as so many of us apparently did, preferably somewhere like Mars. But, even with the ever present and persistently annoying corona virus circulating in our midst, I managed to pull out some beautiful Christmas memories to press in my memory book.

Christmas was spent at my daughter’s house with her family with my mother. It was two days of tree purging and eating with her lovely family. I next hopped in my car and pointing the nose south drove to the San Jose area to spend New Years with my son and his brood. This was a lovely surprise, not only were all five children present and accounted for, but a magnificent dinner was planned for New Year’s Eve. It seemed my son’s team building business dinner with his employees had to be cancelled due to Covid concerns. Unfortunately, or fortunately for those of us in-house, the caterer had already been paid and the food ordered. Soooooo, we sat down to a lovely, elegant dinner served by masked servers and a bartender was in place behind the bar should anyone need a little liquid comfort. Very nice way to bring in 2022.

I so enjoyed the drive there and back. Lately, my mind seems to require a little private time. I guess after last years demands, I am in need of a little rebuilding both spiritually, as well as physically and emotionally. It was good just to “be”, cruising along the highway with the music playing and nothing much to think about but keeping the car in between two lines and the traffic coming and going around me. Always I have enjoyed being on the road. Perhaps that’s why I continually seemed to pick people to marry who didn’t let grass grow under their feet. Was I to seek out or discover another love down the line, I would definitely need to choose someone who wanted to travel a bit and have an adventure or two. I may have some miles on me, but I’m most definitely not hanging up my shield yet.

With another year splayed out before me, I am pondering what it is I want to accomplish in it. According to my yearly horoscope which I read every January, unlike the several years past, this year promises to bring exciting surprises and happy endings. Sign me up for that.

2021 definitely went out with a bang in our neck of the woods. Woods being the optimum word in that sentence. The day after Christmas, we had record snowstorms in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Even those of us down in the foothills were treated to a couple of inches of snow. My old neighborhood, unfortunately, was devastated by the storm. It is a mountain town surrounded by trees. The onslaught of snow and wind combined for the perfect storm for residents there. I found a picture of my old house on Facebook showing a tree protruding through the living room roof with half the deck railing crushed beneath the trunk. I am so thankful I made the decision to “come down the hill” as the locals put it, after Rick died. As beautiful as the mountains are, a woman up there alone has to be willing to deal with fires, landslides and snow, none of which I want to participate in any more. A dear friend of mine in the same neighborhood lost two vehicles and a boat to tree damage, and came close to losing her husband, who fortunately escaped with fairly minor injuries after a tree fell on him. It seems with the drought situation plaguing California over the past few years, the trees were fragile and unable to withstand the heavy blanket of snow forced upon them. I’ve heard account after account of people living up there saying during the storm they could hear “cracking” all around them as trees came down. Wow. When the trees fell, they took down power lines as well leaving a lot of “live” lines flailing about. Transformers blew and equipment was damaged. When I looked at the incident map, the small green dots indicating each problem area looked like a cake decorated with green sprinkles. Some people, they are saying, will be without power for nearly a month. To add to the mix, stores have been closed as well as restaurants and gas stations. Supplies are dwindling and people are getting cold and frustrated.

Thankfully, after the next much smaller rain event coming through our area tomorrow we are in for some nice weather for a week or two. This will give PG&E a chance to get the repair work done more expediently.

There is always something to be thankful for. Today, in my world, it is that I am warm and safe and have food in the cupboard. I had a friend stay with me from up the hill who just finally got the heads up to go home this morning because her power was back on. The community pulled together beautifully to lend a hand to the person next to them. We hear so much in the news about how miserable people can behave towards one another, it is heartening to know conversely how kind and generous they can be.

Have a great day. Stop to say hello to someone who looks like they could use a smile. Offer a hand when you can see someone who needs it. We are never too busy to take a few moments to help another human being and there is little I have found more rewarding.

Well here we are on the precipice of New Year’s Day 2022. Another year tied up, almost, and ready to be left to the history books for posterity. On reflection, it wasn’t an easy year by any stretch of the imagination. Going into 2021, my life was definitely headed in a direction that has since dramatically altered its course. This leaves me with a lot of uncertainty as this year turns off its lights, and yes, a great deal of anticipation as I set foot in the new year. This year Dale and I entered January together, hopeful for new adventures and sharing our days together. As I exit on the other end, I have had to let him go on ahead of me and am left to find a new life on my own. Once again, I restart my life. I will begin to rebuild the foundation, and as the days go by add brick by brick to make the structure sound. Makes me wonder what on earth the universe had in store for me when they sent me down the chute. So many times, I get comfortable in a direction I am headed, only to find myself completely redirected into an entirely different life. Always, though, I believe there is a reason. We do not often know what that is, but I believe we are guided to where it is we are to go. I am glad to put this holiday season to bed and pleased I made it through and found much joy with my family and my little house and Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats.

Well, Christmas gifts have been opened, appreciated, and tucked away for another year. The second of January I will dismantle the tree and put it back in its zippered bag. it has done its job for this season, brightening both my home and my spirits. My mother was with us all day on Christmas at my daughter’s for presents and dinner. With the dementia, she often misunderstands what is going on in new surroundings, so she thought we’d made a party in her honor. It was such a lovely misconception, we let her believe it to be true. Really, the day was all about three year old Zeppelin when it came to what was under the tree. So many presents had his name on the tag, and he is old enough now to thoroughly immerse himself in the spirit of the day. My daughter, Heather, has a way of making magic happen around the holidays. While Zeppelin was still happily dreaming about the day to come, Heather was stamping muddy hoof prints stretching from the door to the fireplace on her tile floor. Next, she made a line of snowy boot prints leading from the fireplace to the tree. A pile of half eaten cookies sat in the dish on a mantle near a half filled glass of milk, and filled stockings were then lined up on the hearth. The scene was set, and none of the ambience was wasted on our littlest member. Truly seeing the holidays through children’s eyes can make you young again, even if just for the moment.

My mother definitely had her holiday spirit turned up to full volume as well. Five generations were represented at our table, with the oldest and the youngest member of our small but hearty band seated at opposite ends enjoying their Christmas dinner. Something very special about a moment like that, that really fits nicely in the confines of your heart.

I am driving down to the Bay Area for the New Years holiday. Seem to be getting around quite a bit these days. I love to drive actually. Getting out on the road with the music turned to 70’s classic rock, no time schedule but the one I choose for myself, and my son and his family waiting for me on the other end sounds very inviting. Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, will have her usual pet sitter to keep an eye on her in my absence so the home front will be covered until I come back.

Though jeans and leggings topped with sweaters will be appropriate attire for most of my stay, my son and his fiance are hosting an engagement/New Year’s Eve party on the thirty first. This, will require a little effort on my part. When Rick and I owned the restaurant half my closet my filled with dresses and skirts. These days, I definitely lean towards more comfortable clothes. It’s not like the Queen is stopping by for tea any time soon. There isn’t a pair of heels visible among my vast assortment of shoes, and I don’t own any dresses at all except some of the casual summer variety. Hmmmm. Well, this is a good week to hit the stores. All the after Christmas sales will be in full bloom. I don’t really like what the designers are pushing our way this year, unfortunately. Most of the dresses look like they could also serve as appropriate shelter from a storm should you get caught in inclement weather while wearing them outside. A few tent poles and a Coleman lantern and you’re good to go. Perhaps this is because a lot of people have added a few pounds during the pandemic, I don’t know, but they surely aren’t very figure flattering. Big, blousey numbers in really busy bold prints. They remind me of the upholstery on the couch in my piano teachers parlor when I was a kid. Ugh.

I used to dress up all the time, but then I was working full time. In the restaurant, part of my job was to look professional and pulled together. Rick and I were there most days, so I needed a wardrobe to support being in the public eye. We chose Italian fine dining, making it relatively upscale as far as decor and menu. As the owners, Rick and I were expected to look the part. Owning a restaurant is not for the feint of heart. To say it’s a lot of work, barely begins to cover the amount of work it actually is. Sunday was the only day Vino Vino was closed, but that did not mean it was necessarily a day of rest. I still went into the restaurant early in the morning to pick up the server’s envelopes from the night before. Their receipts and monies would be in the safe and I would separate their gratuities from the bank deposit which would be made Monday morning, and every morning of the week.

It always was a bit of an eerie experience stepping inside that door when the building was empty. A very old structure, it was originally a saloon in it’s early days, or so the stories go. Built in the late 1800’s I’m sure it held many interesting stories and lurid tales inside it’s walls. The cooks, all men by the way, were not comfortable cooking in the kitchen alone, claiming they never felt they really were, alone, that is. Often, when I came in the front of the building sounds like banging or tapping could be heard in the bar area toward the back of the building. If I went back there by myself, I always left the front door standing ajar in case I needed an easy escape route. At night before we closed up, whether by design or chance, it always seemed we left in twos. One cannot be too cautious when dealing with ethereal things we don’t quite understand.

People ask me often if I would do it again. The answer would be, no. However, I am glad I did it then. It was a fascinating experience and I’m happy I was part of it. Sometimes I toy with the idea of opening a breakfast and lunch place somewhere in a lovely beach community, but really it is like a cat batting around a stuffed mouse. It’s fun to play with but the relationship is not going anywhere beyond that point.

Snow and rain have moved into our area. We sorely need it so I’m glad it’s here but it is making a mess for travelers trying to get home after the holidays. A lot of my friends in the high country are snowed in and without power. Whew, there is a price to pay for everything, I would guess.

Stay safe and snug over the holidays. Remember to count your blessings. You can’t do this too many times to my mind. Happy Monday.

Over the past few days the night sky has been dominated by a large full moon. In between storms here on the west coast of the United States, this gorgeous orb has been clearly visible as the stars begin to come out and dark overtakes the day. As much as I appreciate the glorious views, a full moon brings with it tidal changes, mood disruptions, and a myriad of other gravitational anomalies that are a bit offputting. People are known to sleep walk more during a full moon, exhibit more aggressive behavior, suffer from depressive episodes, and many other behavior changes. I know I always feel a bit overwhelmed when the moon is in full glory, and this weekend was certainly no exception.

To add to the mix, yesterday was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Often this effects your ability to sleep, and has people contemplating the year behind them and pondering what lies in store for them in the new year. Then, if the stew wasn’t already bubbling over, it is a retrograde. This means the planets are lined up in such a way as to cause you to slow down and reflect on your life. Good grief, Charlie Brown. That’s a lot to chew on for one bite of the apple. I’m just sayin.

With this kind of massive energy directed our way, appliances often stop working, computers or electronic devices get hiccups, things with working parts malfunction, as do people caught in the middle of it all. Basically, it’s a hot mess. My refrigerator went last week, and the new one happily is in and running as we speak. Yesterday, I got up and was reminded by my calendar to get moving in order to make an early hair appointment. This was to be my first time with this hairdresser, and I was hopeful she would turn out to be a successful change from the one I am currently seeing. I like the woman who is doing my hair at the moment, but she is an hours drive from me, in an area where it snows. With gas over $5/gallon, and no four wheel drive anymore, I would much prefer to go closer to home. I don’t know how it is for men, but for ladies, finding a good hairdresser is like discovering an original Monet hidden under your recent garage sale purchase of a framed picture of a bowl of fruit.

It has been really cold (for California) this week, so I bundled up and ran out to get my car warmed up. Inserting the key in the slot, the dashboard lit up like I’d just hit the penny slot machine in Reno. Oh-oh. After considerable coaxing, the engine turned over and started. However, an icon of an engine remained on the display. Drat the luck. At least I was going close to home.

Arriving at the salon, after introducing myself, I explained the situation with my car saying I might have to call a tow truck should I not be able to start it again. She said I could wait in the lobby as long as I needed. Yay. Luck being on my side (not always the case if you’ve read my blogs for any length of time) she did a great job, and…….she was considerably less expensive. Stop it, I know! I approached my car with caution, depressing the open button on my remote. Thankfully, the lights went on indicating there was some juice left. I hopped in and drove quickly back to the house. Going out later to try it again, it wouldn’t start. Everyone I know in the immediate area is out of town for the holiday week. My kids were at work, and the only neighbor I’m familiar enough to ask for a lift was visiting her kids. Ach. These are the times when I realize I am on my own and pretty much responsible for my own behind. My knight in shining armor is no longer here to rescue me from the castle tower, and I’d better figure out what to do about the situation. Had Dale been here, he would have looked under the hood or known who to call. I contacted my son-in-law at work. He said to go to the auto parts store and have them check the battery. Good idea in theory, but if the car won’t start, definitely this plan has some execution issues. Sooooo, I called my insurance company emergency road service and requested a tow. I have only used this feature one other time since having this insurance, but I am paying for it so decided it was the best option. Rocking some girl power at that point, I called the auto repair shop Dale used and told them my car was stopping by for a check up.

The automated system at the ERS began sending a series of texts, the first saying the tow driver would be arriving within the hour. This was followed by repeated texts saying he was on track over the next 60 minutes. After the hour came and went, I called the number provided to contact the tow company directly to ask when someone might arrive. According to the owner, the driver was eating his lunch. Really? Now, I don’t begrudge the poor man his lunch, and I was toasty and warm inside my house, but I guarantee had I been left sitting on a curb in forty degree weather somewhere, I might definitely have been a little out of sorts. Finally, two hours and counting, the massive truck pulled up out front. It looked more like it should be carrying a tank than my little mid size sedan. The man knocking on the door was oversized to match his vehicle. He looked a bit like the Incredible Hulk. Seriously, one of his arms was the size of my torso. Wow. At any rate, he asked for the keys to maneuver the car and get it loaded. Okie. I watched as my car was pulled onto the aircraft carrier sized ramp and secured. My heart felt sad. All my pre-Christmas plans for the day would have to be put on hold. Murphy strikes again. Had to be on a holiday week didn’t it Murphy? Couldn’t wait until the new year? He pulled out onto the street, made a u-turn and left. Hello? I hadn’t given him any form of payment and hoped he knew where the car was to be dropped off. In a bit I called the auto shop and sure enough my car had arrived. A bonus. For all I knew it could have been headed down 101 towards Mexico. I need to get better at this. About twenty minutes later the tow truck driver called. He apologized for just leaving, he thought I’d already paid. A well oiled machine that group. Should have told him I was enjoying a BLT and I’d get back to him. Sigh. After paying out a substantial load for the service, I came in and signed up with Triple A. Been meaning to anyhow, and need to get more efficient at managing myself. Good and good. Next I signed up with Uber so I could pick up the car once it was fixed. Looking sharp over here.

So, hopefully I will be going to my daughter’s on Friday as planned in my own car. I have my fingers and toes crossed and have issued mental orders to keep Murphy off the property should he attempt to come in the front door.

On another subject entirely, night before last I fell in the middle of the night. Embarrassing that. I got up to make my usual nocturnal visit to the loo. Apparently, I wasn’t fully awake yet and lost my balance making the poor choice to grab for the half open closet door for support. The door slid open all the way depositing me on my behind in the back of the closet amongst my collection of winter boots. I managed to escape serious injury, ending up with only a bump on my elbow and a rather colorful bruise. The sad thing about it was before going to bed, I had pulled on a shirt my daughter gave me years ago. It is furry and has what looks like an indomitable snowman on the front, also furry. Seriously a fashion nightmare, but what it lacks in glamour, it makes up for in cuddly warmth. As it is just the cat and I, I really wasn’t concerned about whether I made the best dressed list before retiring. Once I assessed the damage and seemed okay, I found myself thankful for that and I hadn’t suffered something more dire and been found dressed like that. That would have been my legacy. Perhaps I will have to rethink my sleeping attire in the future.

Have a safe and festive Wednesday. Keep your wits about you, there is enough unsettled energy floating around for all of us.

Looking out my window this morning, the patio chair closest to the house is barely visible. A heavy bank of fog has moved in making the landscape murky, and trees and bushes but shadowy figures moving in and out of view in the background. Growing up in Nova Scotia on the arm of the Halifax harbor, fog was an integral part of my world. At night, tucked in my little bed in the my room on the second floor of my grandmother’s large comfortable home, the fog horn was often the last sound I was to hear before drifting off to sleep. As I’ve said, repeatedly most likely, I do enjoy a little weather. I would not be content in a place where one season looks like the next, and a bit of inclement weather less likely than developing a case of smallpox. Change, in all things, is what, to me, makes life interesting.

Even if you must go to the same job every day year after year, I believe it is important not to follow the same route every morning in order to get there, or to bring the same lunch to put in the fridge in the break room you’d eaten the day before. Once I dated a man who had his clothes lined up in his closet according to the days of the week. There were his Monday pants, hanging next to his Monday shirt. On the floor beneath them sat his Monday shoes and socks waiting to be put on once his Monday clothes were in place. I dated him for two years and never saw him in other than his Monday shirt on a Monday in the time we were together. If he removed a catsup bottle from what he referred to as his “staples shelf” a bottle of catsup was immediately added to the list hanging on a clipboard on the wall to be purchased at the next trip to the store. Each moment of his life was neatly organized. I like my surroundings to be neat, but I don’t want my life too tidily in place as to not have room for movement.

Now, let me preface this writing by saying I am by nature a very organized person. I do run a tidy ship in my home and don’t find comfort sitting around in a bunch of clutter or disorder. That is just me. If you wish to sit in your house with old McDonald’s bags tossed in the corner, piles of unfolded laundry on the couch and your last dish sitting in the sink dripping maple syrup, it is not my business, nor would I judge you for doing so. This is simply not how I choose to live. Each of us has our own way of plowing through life, and I believe whatever works for you, is precisely what you should be doing.

I had a friend who went through a twelve step program for an addiction he was fighting. As his friend, I went to a meeting with him on several occasions by way of support. The speaker on the first visit was talking about how important how you keep your personal area is to your overall well being. I believe there is truth to this. Most likely if your living space would be suitable for Porky and his pals to take up residence in, your life might well be a reflection of this. But who am I to say? My house is clean, but my life has been untidy often and had many chaotic spaces in it. I’m just throwing the information out there. You may chew on it any way you might like.

Speaking of chewing, there is good news on the cow flatulence front. Cows pass gas or burp, it would appear, at an alarming rate which is negatively effecting our ozone layer. A farmer by the name of Joe Dorgan living in Prince Edward Island (PEI to us Canadians) discovered by feeding his cows organic seaweed it made the animals far less gassy. Go team Canada! They are still investigating how to make this seaweed accessible as a food source for all the gassy cows presently strewn across the globe, as well as determining whether this is a short term fix or a long term one. Either way it is quite an amazing discovery. Right on Joe.

I think of this, because yesterday I went to visit my mother. No, she does not suffer from gas. However, she is presently living in a board and care in a rural section of a Sacramento suburb. It is a lovely area, populated with large ranches situated on huge chunks of property. While driving along the back roads, I passed a flock of wild turkeys deciding whether or not to cross the road, a bee farm (I guess you’d call it that) and a huge flock of cows grazing in a pasture. There you go, the much needed connection to the previous paragraph. Having just read the article about the farmer in PEI, my mind naturally went to the the bovine gas producers as I drove on by.

There are currently three residents and not a single cow in the board and care where my mother stays. There were four, but one lady passed away several weeks ago. My mother and the other female resident both have varying stages of dementia. The third resident, the other woman’s husband, lives with her but is in fairly good health. He moved in to be close to his wife. I find that terribly sweet as I write it. He is always by her side. It is my understanding they have been married for years and when she needed more significant care he opted to join her without hesitation.

Last week, I went to the dollar store and purchased Christmas stockings and all kind of goodies to stuff them with. Then I went to another store and found warm socks for the ladies, and a wool cap for the gentleman in the group. I had noticed on my visits there were perhaps four hairs remaining on the top of his head. Rick, when I met him, was totally bald and always favored wool hats in the winter months to cover this exposed skin in the cold weather. The gentleman was so excited to get the hat, it immediately went on his head and was still in place when I was saying goodbye several hours later. He also told me he had never had a stocking in his life and was most pleased to be able to hang one up. I don’t know his story, perhaps it’s a religious preference, or just a personal one, but all in all it was really fun and a big hit on the other end. Funny how a little something like that can bring a smile to someone’s face. Small acts of kindness, really do have big impact.

The hat made me think of Rick, not that I don’t often have him on my mind. We were together nearly twenty years. That is not a vacancy you fill easily. As I said, he was bald when I met him, having begun to lose his hair in his thirties. With all the stress I’ve had in my life over the past three or four years my hair has taken a hit. Fortunately, I had quite a bit to begin with, but it certainly is less lush then it used to be. Once the hair went, Rick cultivated the middle aged manscape on his face, basically a moustache which was attached to a neatly trimmed goatee. The hair shows up on the face, I believe, as it begins to disappear on the top of the head. I thought he looked wonderful without his hair, and as I never knew him with it in place, never noticed the loss of it. He told me it was devastating for him, however, when his hairline first began to recede. I can feel that. I had a very dear friend who was much older. His hair had completely disappeared on the top of his head but he still had a healthy growth around the sides. His solution to this problem, was to grow it really long on one side and draw that up over the vacant space on the top. Once in place he sprayed it into submission. A comb over. Let me be the first to say, this is not a good look. If the wind comes up, for example, or you go swimming? The hair on the side either stands up or droops to one side and the empty field is revealed. Seriously, I would much rather see a cleanly shaved bald head any day then that. I’m just saying. In the end it is the person existing below the hairline is who is important not what’s growing on their head.

As we age, the things that seemed so important when we were young seem to fade into the background. People gain a few miles on them and aren’t as shiny and factory fresh as they were in their twenties or thirties. The good news unless we invent a magic elixir, all of us are going to age. As yet, I have heard of no effective cure for it. Oh, there is plastic surgery (sometimes scary), and there are a myriad of products out there touting youthful results if you use them, but in the end aging must be faced and accepted as part of the journey.

So, I am inside and cozy on this foggy, foggy day. Have many projects on my table in various stages of production so lots to keep me busy. Christmas is on the horizon and a new year with hopefully more exciting prospects and great bounty for all of us.

The flood gates have opened, and rain is pouring down in buckets full outside my window. This is a cold rain, and it’s brought along a playmate, a capricious wind. My yard is strewn with leaves and debris. My snowmen once decorating the patio in the back yard, are now standing on their heads pushed up against the fence. You could leave the wind at home, but I do love the rain. Even though this is quite an intense storm, we surely need it out here on the west coast and I’m glad to see it streaming down the pane.

When Rick was alive, dreary stormy weather such as today severely affected his mood. Speaking for myself, I find rainy days exhilarating. Particularly when I’m tucked inside cozy and warm working on projects such as I am today. Rick viewed overcast skies as dark and foreboding giving him a closed off feeling. Often, he said he felt claustrophobic on stormy days. When it became more than just an annoyance, we consulted his primary care physician who diagnosed Rick with seasonal depression disorder. It was suggested we order a special light to increase Rick’s levels of melatonin. So, on rainy days while I would be dancing and singing in the kitchen, Rick would be sitting in his recliner with a huge bulb focused on his head wishing it would all go away. We are so different and individual we humans. Each of us cut out of the same cloth, but woven with different colored threads making varied patterns and designs. I wonder sometimes we can all be considered brothers and sisters of the same species. Weather of all sorts could have been more tolerable for me coming from Nova Scotia, where inclement weather is not unfamiliar. Rick was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. There weather didn’t vary vastly as I understand it, ranging from hot to somewhat less hot, according to the time of year you were in. Cairo typically measures less than an inch of rain annually, compared to Halifax which comes in at 50 plus inches. A bit of a climatic variance to say the least. I often think could two less like people have possibly have come together? It’s a question that remains unanswered.

I have spoken before about my “wishcraft” as Rick used to call it. Simply put, I imagine something I need or wish would occur, and voila, like magic, it materializes. He was always asking why I couldn’t use what he referred to as my super power to purchase a winning lottery ticket. Last week I was wishing I had a new refrigerator. The one provided by my landlords has a relatively small freezer, of which I use every inch of available space. Also, there is no ice maker so in order to make ice, cumbersome ice trays take up a quarter of the space. I secretly suspect it was probably put here when the house was built in the early 1930’s. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not complaining. Well maybe I am, just a little. At the time I was wishing for a new appliance, I was really only wishing only for enough room for my freezing hands to stuff my Costco order in the existing one. Night before last, I woke up to what sounded like a buzz saw running in the kitchen. “What now” said my tired mind? Rolling slowly out of bed, I moved my shuffling feet in the direction of the annoying sound. Turning on the light, on inspection, it appeared to be coming from the refrigerator. Great. Just bought $200 worth of groceries and it’s a Saturday night. Purrrrrrfect. Once again, Murphy was having his way with me. Sigh. Opening the freezer door, the fan was obviously running on high. Beads of water had begun to hang down from the roof of the compartment. “Oh no! The dreaded unscheduled DEFROST.” Wow. For two hours this went on, and then as quickly as it started, quiet once again returned to the kingdom. The freezer began to hum softly, and nothing appeared to have thawed. Crisis averted. My scallops would live to be baked another day. Thank you Amana gods for your help.

Yesterday, I called my landlord and told him what had happened. After examining the patient, he said though not gone yet, the old girl was definitely on her way out. Later, he called to let me know a replacement had been ordered, but due to supply chain issues it would take a couple of weeks. Yay. After I hung up, I remembered my wishful thinking and thanked the universe for once again coming through.

Again, the witchcraft came into play this morning. Yesterday, I was reviewing the damage I have done to my bank balance this Christmas. I don’t usually spend like this on gifts, but this year it felt so good to me to buy for those I love, I just jumped in with both feet. Damn the torpedoes, and all that rot. I knew it would put a wrinkle in my savings but my “what the heck”, attitude kicked into gear as I pulled my credit card out with joyous abandon and stuck it in the slots around town. So, this morning I noticed my mail was already in the box, which is unusual. Perhaps this was because it is such a blustery day. Maybe the mailman wanted to get it done early so he could go home, put his feet up, and enjoy a hot beverage. He’s going to need one. I saw him walking by a while ago, the strong wind pushing back the flaps of his jacket, and shorts covering only half his legs. People in California would wear shorts in a blizzard, I swear. Especially men, no offense to those of the gruffer set reading. Really? It’s in the mid forties outside. Whew. Where is your mother? At any rate, I gathered my mail and in one envelope I discovered a stimulus check that will take a lot of the wind out of my Christmas debt, while also allowing me to breathe a lovely sigh of relief. All is right with the world this morning. Breathe in, breathe out. Ahhhhhh.

I am sewing a blanket for Zeppelin, the youngest of our clan. I will post a picture of it when I’ done if I think of it. I think it’s pretty special, and I hope he does. I have tried to make blankets for most of my kids over the years but haven’t always made it. Will have to make it up to those I missed when they are old enough to have kids of their own if I’m still planting roses and not serving as their fertilizer by the time this occurs.

There are still two packages that have to be mailed. Not only is everything in the store going up in the price, it now costs nearly as much, sometimes more, to mail the items. I paid $27.00 last week to mail an envelope 2-day delivery to Texas. Would have been cheaper to book a flight and take it there myself, and I could have picked up some great Mexican food in San Antonio while there. Over the weekend, I hit some of the stores at the mall. For the first time, it really resonated how much prices have gone up. Amazing. I’m not employed anymore, at least not full time. Feel sorry for those trying to get by. The minimum wage goes up, and then prices rise and completely nullify the benefits. Makes it hard to get ahead.

On that bit of whine, I’ll sign off for today. Downton Abbey awaits me. I’m still on season one and am binging like a professional. Have a wonderful day and stay dry, safe, and at least socially acceptably sane such as I do. Later.

Mooooove it along….

I am sitting here with a fresh cup of coffee next to my laptop, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, curled up next to me, the tree lights twinkling happily, and the heater humming. Life, in this moment, is good. That’s all we have really, the moment we are occupying. Boiling some eggs for breakfast, I noticed the windows were fogging up. Another chilly morning in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Always on extreme weather days, whether the thermometer registers high or low, I think of the disenfranchised people. The forgotten people, as I often think of them. Alone, shivering in the cold on a street corner or back alley. Outside, with no place to go and hope most likely not filling their cup. So many of them seem to have animals at their side. I have to assume these furry companions also have no homes to go to or warm beds to sleep in. Makes me think of the movie “Down and Out in Beverly Hills”. Nick Nolte played a homeless man who’s dog, in the opening scenes, abandons him for a lady walking down the street with more promising circumstances.

A long time back I wrote about being without a home or finances for a two week period in my life. I had family I could have called, but pride kept me from dialing their numbers. For two weeks my ex-husband and I lived in our car in Washington state. He had a job, so our future wasn’t bleak, but the present was definitely something we had to deal with. Many people who have lost their homes or for whatever reason found themselves without means, don’t have that option waiting for them. It is difficult to get a job if you have no address, no access to a computer or device, and nowhere to clean up and prepare for an interview. That time in my life made a permanent imprint on me. Never have I felt so vulnerable or unprotected. We had a case of Vienna sausage a work buddy had given my husband, a jug of cheap white wine (one must have some concessions), several large bottles of water, and an assortment of packaged cheese and hot salami packets. Not exactly a banquet. Though there was some money in our pockets, the job we’d driven up to Washington to work on had been postponed. This meant we had to conserve what resources we had for gas, and a hotel room here and there to clean up in before my husband was to report to work. Thankfully, the trees were just beginning to change color in the northwest, so though the mornings were brisk, the days were still comfortable and being outside not yet a dangerous place to be.

Each night we would find a nook or cranny off road to park the car. Using each other for warmth, we would huddle under our blankets and get as much sleep as the uncomfortable car seats would allow. One night, we found a cutaway on a rural road and pulled in under the trees for the night. With no moon out that night, the darkness swallowed us up. Though we could see lights on the hillside coming from a farmhouse, not much else was visible. My husband, a veteran of many long night shifts, could go to sleep standing up in the corner. For me, sleep often eluded me until the wee hours. This particular night, the black sky was alive with an unbelievable array of stars. The view, to understate, was spectacular. Looking out beyond the fence line beyond the front of the car, I kept getting the eerie sensation something was looking back. I remember feeling the hairs crawl up the back of my neck. Looking back, I think the more prudent thing to do in that situation would have been to lock the doors and waken my husband. Being me, and rarely a fan of the prudent choice, I grabbed the large flashlight on the floor of the back seat, and opened the car door. Approaching the barbed wire fence, it seemed as if it stretched all along the property on both sides. Engaging the flashlight, caught in the wide beam, were ten to twelve bovine faces looking back at me. Seemingly only mildly interested in the intruder, some chewed on blades of grass, while others just stared into the light with idle curiosity. Several of them let out low moos, so I responded with “Hello”.

Smiling, I went back to the car and settled back into my spot. In about a half an hour, I found myself in the same position I’d put the cows in, a flashlight beam interrupting my sleep. Both of us sat up in a panic. It was hard to see who was holding the beam with the light in our eyes. Rolling down the window, we were surprised to find a state trooper standing on the other side. It seemed the cattle rancher had recently had some problems with poachers, and seeing my beam flood the pasture, reported a prowler to the police. Whoops.

I can still picture the man standing there. For a moment he reminded me of Paul Bunyon. I wouldn’t have been in the least surprised to see the blue ox grazing not far away. Taller than average by a half, he wore a Smokey the Bear hat on his massive head, a neatly pressed blue uniform, and had a bow tie securing his shirt collar under his chin. Though kind, and not citing us for anything, he asked us politely to move on. I’m sure for most homeless people this is a familiar request.

In two weeks, our ordeal was over. Life for us went back to fairly normal. The local food bank gave us a most appreciated box of real food to see us through until our first paycheck. I remember asking the lady handing me the box how I could repay her. She said simply, “pay it forward”. That is why I have volunteered for the food ministry for the last eight years. My way of paying back a kindness.

If you see a street person, take the time to smile or say “good morning”. You never know their story, or what could happen to put you in their situation.

Have a nice weekend. Stay warm.

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