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Not sure what day of the self quarantine I’m on.  I do know I have begun to have conversations with myself. Last night I took both sides of an argument, and I have to say it got fairly heated. Also, I have noticed that though I’m still jumping in the shower every morning, my makeup drawer remains closed and my leggings and tee shirt drawer remains open. Serenading the cat while practicing dance moves on UTube is somewhat entertaining, at least to me. The cat, perched on her princess and the pea pillows has begun to look at me as if to say, “Woman, you need to get a hold of yourself, you really do and BTW this whole free spirit Isadora Duncan thing is not working for you.”

With extra time on my hands I am getting caught up on various projects around the house which is a plus. This morning I went on line and filled out my census questionnaire and put that to bed. Next I took the remaining three overripe bananas left on hand and made delicious banana muffins with cream cheese frosting. Unfortunately I may have to eat all twenty-four before Saturday as my small freezer has space for one frozen pea and possibly that would be tight.

The phone has taken on a life of it’s own. People are calling I haven’t heard from in a long time just to say hi. No sooner do I disconnect and begin to do something constructive and the darn thing rings again. What can you do? You can’t really say you weren’t home. Also, I appreciate people checking in with me so it doesn’t feel like the world is getting smaller.

A friend on Facebook put up a sobering reminder this morning which made this ordeal seem more palatable. She reminded those of us who were whining, oh okay I own it, about the confinement, Anne Frank and her family were in hiding in very cramped quarters for 761 days fearing discovery. Guess when you put it in perspective this is little sacrifice to be made on behalf of our health and that of our family, friends, and neighbors.

Today is my mom’s birthday. Originally we had planned a family gathering with all the trimmings but for now a card and an image of me singing happy birthday to her on the phone is what we will make do with. It is hard not to see her. Thursdays are our “hair and lunch days”. Ah well, I’m putting away the whine, out of cheese anyhow, and moving on.

Perhaps we should open up Swap Shops like marketplaces in medieval times where a goat might be traded for produce or pelts. Dark smoke filled places where a guy with too much toilet paper could meet to cut a deal with another guy sitting on a Costo size block of blue cheese (not literally, naturally, this would make it far less desirable). What a concept. I have a friend who would be in the catbird seat should this come to pass. He scored a five pound jar of peanut butter at Dollar General last week.

My creative juices seem to be stirring. It wouldn’t hurt me at all to have something stirring beyond my spoon in whatever it is I am currently stuffing in my mouth. Aside from cooking and eating I am rediscovering my love of sewing and drawing. After Rick passed away, hard to believe it will be two years in September, I really stopped doing all the things I’d always enjoyed. Truth was when he was sick there wasn’t much time for recreational activities. Had a therapist tell me once when humans are in what she referred to as “survival mode” there was no room for concentrating on external pleasures. For example if the only thing in your cupboard is half a bottle of mustard or you are about to be evicted your first thought might not be take out your watercolors and put brush to paper.  Not saying some people don’t, but perhaps it is safe to say this might not be the norm.

I’m glad to see the government is attempting to do something by way of a hand out (not handout but actual hand out) to American businesses and workers. Certainly many people in this country count on their next paycheck to keep up and without it it will not take long for the fabric of their lives to begin to fray.  It is heartening to hear of small businesses keeping their kitchens open to provide meals and the acts of kindness popping up in the news as the days pile one on top of the other.

Someday we will telling our grandchildren, perhaps too small now to understand, how this experience changed us back in 2020. Change us it will. Life altering situations such as this have a way of leaving a brand on you that though softened through time remains permanently etched on the windows of our souls.

Often I think how glad I am to be where I am today, the sum of all my yesterdays. Each experience good and bad combined to help make me stronger, more insightful, hopefully more tolerant, and undoubtedly wiser. As I’ve gotten older I occasionally miss my younger reflection in the mirror. However, every line in this face has a story behind it and will remain a part of me as long as I inhabit this body. Sometimes I look at famous faces and wonder why they feel the need to stretch and rework their features to such an extent. I could name quite a few that have had so much surgery done their original features are nearly undetectable. Perhaps it is society’s constant pursuit of youth that pushes us to hold onto it. Eighty year old power figures married to women half their age convincing themselves their trophy wives would still be standing next to them at the altar if they were flipping burgers at Micky D’s rather than running huge corporations padding massive bank accounts. Youth cannot be purchased no matter the price. It is a gift, if lucky, we are all given a chance to experience for a brief moment in a lifetime. Most of us, me included were far too clueless to appreciate being young when we actually were, and by the time we gained enough knowledge to have handled it well we were long beyond being considered youthful. An enigma of life for sure.

Today feels reflective to me, undoubtedly a side effect of too much time with me, myself and I. What an argumentative “B” myself can be by the way but don’t tell her I said so.

At any rate it is beginning to rain. I am off to do some sewing and dance with the cat. Talk later

 

 

 

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So tempting right now to feel sorry for myself. No one can deny this is a trying time in our world. I’m sure it will be talked about, analyzed, and revisited often by generations to follow. Yesterday the sadness at the loss of my personal freedom became real for the first time. I feared a pity party to be on the horizon. My way of dealing with a full on, no holds barred, over the top Susie Pity Party is to immerse myself in the spirit of it, blow up a few balloons (probably using real explosives), then calm down, eat a brownie and get over it. If you can’t get around a mood then hop in the middle of it, get it out of your system, and move on.

Lately the earth feels unsettled. At least it does to me. Oceans are rising, ice caps are melting, infighting is the name of the game in Washington and all over the U.S., and though the economy may have seen some improvement (up until now of course) the middle class has slowly been whittled down from a strong robust tree to a toothpick. Hard not to be a little pessimistic when looking at the big picture. Yet, in spite of the virus tormenting us at the moment, just beyond my spare room a cherry tree proudly displays it’s gorgeous array of vibrant pink blooms. Each time I pass the window, the boughs beckon me invitingly as if to say, “enjoy”. Somehow spring with it’s warming days and light breezes, no matter what else may be casting shadows, always brings with it a fresh breath of hope. The trees, bare and skeletal during the winter months, begin to bud and flower. Bulbs push stems up through the earth, calves litter the pastures as you drive along rural roads, and Easter, a time of rebirth and renewal appears on the calendar. Life seems not to be ignored, and a fresh new face is painted on the land.

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In this spirit of spring I decided to pull the potting soil out of my shed along with my trowel and gloves and tackle the front yard potting project I’ve been putting off. While out in the back gathering what I needed, a little freckled face surrounded by a mass of unruly copper curls appeared over the fence. The girl, after politely inquiring as to who I was, responded in kind by informing me her name was Bridget. Her conversation, as unpredictable as her ringlets, moved from one subject to another as quickly as a drill sergeant marching down the line inspecting his platoon. Though never had I seen the tenants up until now, I was aware the house was recently occupied. Mom, I knew this only because Bridget was a fount of information, was seated on the back steps staring intently at the book on her lap. Looking up only when prompted by her daughter, she introduced herself maintaining an acceptable social distance, then returned to her book once the pleasantries were done. With mom otherwise engaged, Bridget continued shining her light directly on me firing questions in machine gun fashion one after another. I could still here her voice after I’d excused myself and disappeared beyond the fence towards the front of the house. During the exchange Miss Bridget told me about her two dogs, Pluto and Reggie. Reggie, looking to me to be a bull terrier mix, had already made my acquaintance some weeks back while I was sitting at the dining room table doing paperwork. Movement outside the window caught my eye. Looking up Reggie stood perched on the narrow ledge along the fence dividing the two houses. He checked me out for a moment then nimbly hopped down on the street side of the fence. Working his way to my front yard, after twenty minutes of sniffing, seemingly satisfied he’d located his sweet spot, he squatted and left a large introductory gift on my grass. “Thank you, Reggie”.

Like everyone else I’m feeling the walls close in a bit at my house with my time being spent just hanging out with Miss Boo. Not that she’s not good company mind you, she is, but I have to say she’s not much of  conversationalist. Yesterday I was sharing something interesting I’d read on the internet with her and the cat unabashedly turned her back on me and yawned. Even for a feline, she has attitude.

While I’m feeling a bit isolated, others may be suffering from too much togetherness. Little ones tiring of games and TV may be beginning to chafe at the bit to get out of the house and spend some of their excess energy. Parents, having their name called forty times before pouring their first cup of coffee, may be wishing they could have a moment’s peace before starting their day.  For me, I’m craving a little human companionship. The closet thing I’ve had to personal interaction in days was Miss Bridget of the fence and the Door Dash delivery guy who dropped dinner off on the porch and sprinted for his car.  I surely miss Rick during these times. Feels like the last couple of years I have been constantly doing battle. I’m ready to put down my sword and declare peace across the land. I’m tired. A little calm would be most welcome. When I find myself in a tight spot such as now it is helpful to remind myself of the people far less fortunate. Street people, for example, with no shelter to comfort them, no heat at the touch of a fingertip, and no one to comfort them if they are sick. Usually this is the kick in the behind I need to restart my engine. Today is no exception.

Miss Bridget arrived to remind me new life is a constant no matter what is going on around us. Planting the yard to show there is perpetual flux in the world we live in. The flower bed, nothing but soil and rocks at the moment, will be a riot of color in a few weeks teeming with life. Bees will be buzzing around the new blooms helping to pollinate a new another season of growth. Change isn’t an easy pill to swallow. We are faced at right now with total disruption of our routines and uncertainly in our future. This does not make for solid ground on which to plant our feet. However, we humans seem to show our best sides to the camera when times are tough. Stories of neighbor helping neighbor, brave first responders, generous donors, keep popping up on the news programs to boost our morale and remind us in the end we are all in this together.

Keep the faith, keep busy, get to know your neighbors (from a safe distance), lend a hand when and where you can, and ride out the storm safely. Have a productive day.

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Last night my brain went into hyper drive. Hate when it does that. Up until now I’ve been a little nervous and had that “unsettled” feeling in the pit of my stomach about what’s going on but the seriousness of the situation sort of settled over me. If we actually had to huddle in place for eighteen months what would that look like? Small insignificant inconveniences began to occur to me. Not being able to get my hair cut or colored or have my teeth cleaned, for example. Both seem insignificant now but what will my pixie cut look like if this drags on as long as predicted? Am I going to be a long haired senior with outrageous roots and no teeth? What about vet visits for Miss Boo or the alarming lack of toilet paper or anything else for that matter in the stores?  Will whoever is hoarding the paper goods or is sitting on a pallet of hand sanitizer be in danger as the need for these items becomes more critical? Apparently gun sales are also up. Something to ponder when you’re staring at the ceiling at the middle of the night. So many questions floating around in the air with no answers in sight, or so it seems.

People who have their savings tied up in stocks are looking at a bleak market, as well as small businesses forced to either go to delivery or lay off their employees and shut their doors completely. Usually I am a consummate optimist but even my fairy dust spreader seems to be on the fritz the past few days.

On a slightly positive note, lest we all fall prey to despair here, we seem to be coming together as  a nation. Suddenly the division we’ve been experiencing over the last three years seems far less important than the situation we currently find ourselves immersed in. Countries normally at odds are being forced to work together to fight a common enemy and democrats and republicans have to lay down their swords and work toward a united goal. One thing I learned out of the pain of losing Rick a year and a half ago, there is always a gift hidden in suffering. Even though you often can’t see it while going through it, it will reveal itself.

Yesterday a dear friend came over. We meditated, which was extremely relaxing, and watched something funny on TV taking our minds off the world for a bit. I ordered books on line to fill the empty spots and took out a sewing project I have put off in lieu of other more pressing things I had penciled in on my schedule.  As the weather improves I’m going to begin to take a daily walk again. The only downside to owning a feline rather than a canine is they are resistant to joining you in an activity requiring actual exersion. Boo’s idea of a rigorous workout is walking from her bed to the feeding dish and back.

In the middle of all this uncertainty I try to find things to be grateful for. Thankfully, it isn’t summer yet. Not that I have anything against summer. As a kid I looked forward to the dog days more than any time of the year other than the holidays. That last day of school when you are released for three months to swim, stay up late and generally drive your parents to the liquor counter. It was a glorious freeing right of passage before having to face the pitfalls and responsibilities that come with achieving adulthood. However, these days summer in California signals fire season is on the move and PG&E hosted blackouts have become the standard of the day. This year I have a generator. I am most thankful for that. A friend is coming to help me understand how to use it. Times like this I do so miss having Rick to lean on but again I am thankful I am blessed wonderful friends who allow me to lean in their direction from time to time. For now there is food in my cupboard but the plan is to begin planting the large bed towards the back of the property so fresh vegetables are handy should there be a need. A plus of doing a project like this is that along with helping yourself keep fresh food on hand it occupies a busy mind for a while giving you a break from the stress swirling all around us.

Rain is returning to the area over the weekend. The dry soil is lapping it up like a thirsty dog after a long hike. Though not filling our cup it certainly has added to it so I am most thankful for this. With the weather seesawing from warm enough for short sleeves and shorts to chilly enough for sweaters and scarves it is hard to know what to take out of the closet. Today I will be thankful I have a closet with clothes hanging in it to choose from.

Each day I try to check in on my friends, in particular the ones who live by themselves and are more isolated than I am. If it weren’t for my asthma I would answer some of the calls for volunteers to deliver food to shut ins or help with distributing food at the food pantries. I have signed up for working away from direct contact so have been busy on my computer doing what I can when I can.

The doctors and nurses working on the front lines of this crisis are amazing. How difficult it must be for their families who are left to fend for themselves and worry about their loved ones. So, I include them in my prayers before closing my eyes at night.

This will pass as all bad things do but for now we are left to tune in the news in hopes of hearing a viable cure for this virus has been developed or stay inside and protect ourselves from a suddenly dangerous world. Keep the faith, or if that is not your bag at least try to keep positive. Anxiety is also a dangerous road so try to do things that relieve your mind for a bit to keep you from traveling down it 24 hours of the day.

Stay safe, be vigilant. Talk soon.

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Woke up this morning, washed my face and poured my coffee as I do each morning, but it didn’t feel in the least like a typical day in the neighborhood. When I first opened my eyes I wondered for a moment if I’d been dreaming there was no food on the shelves or if it was actually true. Walking past the five six packs of bottled water now stored on my dryer, the reality of the situation once again dropped over me like a lead tarp. The restrictions on our lives only in place for a short period of time it already feels as though I have an ankle monitor snapped around my ankle making the front door seem like an impassable line with danger lying just past it’s borders. Darn.

Yesterday I had to go to the grocery store. I found myself totally unprepared for the long lines and empty shelves waiting for me there. My shopping cart was half full by the time I got in line with the rest of the people buying whatever they could get their hands on. Luckily I got two loaves of wheat bread which should last me quite a while if frozen, because by the time I passed the bread aisle the only loaves available were a couple of raisin and one rye, and people were fighting over tortillas. What, as they say, is our world coming to?

Doing my part I have cancelled all my non-critical appointments and placed myself on a in-house arrest. Not one to let a lot of grass grow under my feet during normal times this is a difficult sentence for me to accept. However, the same principle applies here as I apply to littering. It’s not the one plastic cup a thoughtless guy tosses out the window ending up on the side of the road that destroys the beauty of our roadways and national parks, rather it’s the accumulated cups of many indifferent litterers creating the eyesore. All of us working together will hopefully help to bring an end to this difficult bug.

Life lately reminds me a bit of the only white water rafting experience I have had until now. The river in question was located in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. Though early summer, the water was the temperature of ice water requiring rafters to pull on wet suits before heading downstream. There were six occupants in our raft plus the guide. Instructions were given by him as to how to proceed. Each of us held a paddle and were told we would be asked to row at given times during the ride. “Should you fall out”, the guide went on to say, (Fall out? What? Am I falling out?) “point your feet downstream to avoid hitting your head on rocks or objects either above or below the surface”. I can remember being absolutely terrified as we began our descent through the first round of rapids. “Row”, was yelled from somewhere behind me, and though my hands were nearly frozen my survival instincts kicked in and they obeyed the command digging my paddle deep into the roiling water. We drove down over the top of a roll of water. Freezing liquid momentarily washed over me capturing my breath before we resurfaced. “Mama”. At one point at a somewhat slower fork in the river we passed a huge moose standing by the bank watching us as we tumbled along. Probably the massive animal was thinking, “humans, go figure”. I know I was.  In the middle of the chaos I gave in to the ride and allowed the exhilaration of the experience to overtake me allowing me to settle in and feel the excitement. Finally reaching our destination, I wanted to jump out of the raft and go back up and go down again.  Though truly there is no excitement involved in what we are experiencing at the moment, I do feel that once through the rapids if we do what is necessary the water will once again smooth out and calm will be restored.

This whole situation gives you plenty of opportunities to work on conquering fear. For me, I live with a cat. Though a loyal companion she is not much by the way of help in a crisis situation. Secondly I have asthma and this with my age puts me smack dab in the bullseye of the vulnerable group. Keeping a cap on allowing fear to overrun me can be a daily, even moment to moment proposition. Thankfully I have friends and family checking on me regularly to make sure my head is above water and my feet are pointed downstream.

In the end all the worrying in the world will not alter the outcome. Either I will make it to the end of the river or I will not. Truly it is as basic as that. As I have mentioned I do not intend to waste any of the time I have left in my life so I shall believe in what I believe and move on with conviction. What else is there to do?

I have been keeping in touch with people, catching up on things around the house, working on the dreaded pile of paperwork waiting for my attention and generally trying to convince my mind things are going to settle back into a routine here pretty soon and life as we knew it will return to normal, or as normal as mine gets.

The cat, unaware of any shifts in her universe, sleeps peacefully on the pillow next to me totally oblivious to it all. Must be nice. Must admit I am feeling a bit world weary and frayed around the edges. How lovely it would be to be able to simply relax for a little while without something showing up which makes the world seem a little more unsettling. Makes me mindful of how people must feel in war torn countries forced to deal with uncertainty every day of their existence without respite.

Because it is how I cope with things I try to count my blessings during stressful times, thankful for the roof over my head, food in my cupboard, and people populating my life. It’s tempting to want to stack paper goods up to the ceiling and buy peanut butter by the crate, but if we do that there will not be enough for our neighbors, family and friends so I try to buy responsibly.

Last night I did deep breathing exercises before I went to bed. Still my mind conjured up scary images while I slept and woke me up way to early to begin the process of dealing with a different feeling world once again.

One of the things I did learn while pushing through the grieving process after losing Rick was that as dismal as today may seem, a month, six months, a year from now everything will appear much differently. Hope always hangs brightly in the distance like a beacon in the storm.

Hang in there. Read that book gathering dust in the den, pull out that knitting project you never finished in 2010, take an on-line class, teach your kids to cook. Get creative. Talk soon.

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The old statement, “if it isn’t one thing, it’s another” certainly applies to my world of late. I don’t know who’s credited with this little gem but they certainly knew what they were talking about.  Two weeks ago my mother fell once again and had to have eight staples in her head. Thankfully she’s on the mend with no noticeable changes in her physical or mental condition. To add to this mix we are all dealing currently with the coronavirus which not only populates our airways and conversations but is running rampant across the country. Today I have to take my mother to get the staples removed which naturally requires a visit to the doctor’s office, not the first place you think of going when there is an unchecked virus on the loose. By definition, a doctor’s office is where sick people go.  Also, she hasn’t been able to have her hair washed in two weeks. You are shaking your head thinking, “and?”. To understand this you would have to have lived with or around my mother and other ladies of her generation. Once a week whether caught in the midst of opposing gunfire or fighting off malaria women of her age group gathered at the beauty salon to have their hair washed and set and to catch up on the latest news swirling around.  Mother has forgotten many things but this particular weekly event is permanently affixed in her mind. Because she has broken her hip this cannot be accomplished at home so a trip to the beauty salon is also on the table. Another undesirable germ paradise to look forward to. Armed with alcohol wipes and determination we shall overcome this as well.

As I have said many times previously, being responsible for yourself is a big enough task but having the responsibility for the well being of another person you love really adds another layer to your days. Not that I ever mind, I do not. I was in a caregiver’s group when Rick was sick and one of the ladies asked me if I was ever resentful. My answer was an honest no then and it would also be a no in my mother’s case. Tired, yes. Frustrated at times, no doubt. Never, though do I feel resentful. As we baby boomers move into our golden years (golden right) and are living longer, many of the generation following us will be tasked with taking care of our needs as we cannot. From what I’ve read a lot of us haven’t planned well for retirement. If I was in a group asked who had not I’m afraid my hand might be waving in the air. I thought I was planning well but life didn’t always cooperate and somehow the years got away from me before I got a handle on it.

Fear of the virus being the rule of the day the stores are being depleted of everything from hand sanitizer to paper products. Yesterday I went out with a friend in search of toilet paper. A quest I have never before considered to be fraught with pitfalls. First we pulled into Costco. On reaching the back of the store the pallets with paper goods sat completely empty and we were told they were not going to be restocked until the next shipment arrived. The clerk jokingly suggested we subscribe to a newspaper. Hmmmm. Next we hit Walmart only to discover they had paper towels but not one roll of toilet paper was available for purchase. We passed an elderly woman on the way out of store who had two packages of TP in her cart. My friend jokingly asked if she was planning on selling them on EBAY for $50.  She smiled, but then I could see her mind working. Oh-oh. This really upsets me when people dive in to take advantage of an already dire situation. For example, a friend told me about a Dean Koontz book, The Eyes of Darkness, in which he eerily predicts a virus with similar manifestations emanating from a lab in China. The book was written I believe in the early 80’s. For those of you unfamiliar with his writing it is of the same genre as Stephen King. At one point I’d read nearly everything both men had written. I thought it might be interesting to search for it and give it a read. Though most copies I found were reasonably priced, I found one copy out there, paperback mind you, listed for $899. Probably last year it was going for $2.99. Really? Do these people sleep at night?

With all that is going on health wise and politically this can be a difficult world of late. People are angry and afraid, not a good combination. Had a person tell me the other day “people can be disappointing”. There is no correct response to that. People can be many adjectives. I don’t think you can take one word and use it as an umbrella to cover all like creatures. Some people can definitely be disappointing. Most people are disappointing at one time or another, but people in general are not always disappointing. To my mind at least. If you feel the need for labels along with disappointing you might toss in inspiring, kind, joy filled, generous, and a myriad of other uplifting words that apply to most of the people in my life.

You might not believe this, knowing me as you do, but I am highly imperfect. Being flawed is part of my charm, or so I tell myself. Every day I make mistakes but I also try to learn something new, be impressed by the world around me, do something without expecting something in return, and remember smiling is still free. I stumble and fall along with the best of them, quite often both figuratively and literally. I do try to be my best self and give myself due credit for that. Like a painter touching up a painting by an old master with cracks and flaws after many years of exposure, I keep healing the wounds and heeding the lessons coming my way. Somewhere inside of me I hold to the belief that lessons keep coming our way until we pay attention. In my life this has definitely been the case. If I strayed along a path over and over again that didn’t serve me I continued to elicit the same result. It’s like the universe knocking on your head saying, “hello, anybody in there”? What is that saying, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result”. There you go.

Truth is I don’t aspire to be perfect. I think a perfect person, and up until now I haven’t met one, might probably be boring. Imagine a life with nothing but perfection in it. How would be even identify it when we had no imperfection to hold it up against? Without the rain there would be no rainbows.

As to this virus, I really don’t know where we are heading with this. For me, I will not give in to fear. I will follow the guidelines and use necessary precautions. I wash my hands thoroughly and often and am careful about not touching my face. This, for me by the way, is the hardest thing not to do. Who knew? Other than that I still have a life to attend to so shall do the best I can to keep up with it with the limitations now imposed on it. My son and his family were headed to Disneyland for my granddaughter’s eighteenth birthday this weekend, but Disneyland is no longer an option having closed their doors. It is hard to sort the wheat from the chaff on the news stations so I have taken to listening for a few minutes and then turning the TV off. Too much of a bad thing cannot be good for you.

Though most St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have been tabled, at my house I shall be in the kitchen cutting up the cabbage and carrots to be tucked in next to my corned beef in the slow cooker. Yum and yum. Find your joy where you can.

Hope this finds you safe and well on the beautiful pretend spring day, at least here in Northern California. It is March, yes? Supposed to hit near 80 degrees. Weird.

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Yesterday I spent my afternoon culling out the clothes from my wardrobe I haven’t given so much as a glance to in over a year.  This was prompted by a discussion I had with a friend visiting for a couple of days. She has been maintaining a storage unit for several years after downsizing from a house to an apartment. Along with yard tools the 10 x 8 space is used for housing surplus household goods she no longer has room for. It seems the storage unit is a bone of contention with her son who views it as a hefty monthly outlay for storing items she hasn’t looked at since the Ice Age. Additionally, she admitted when she needs something she has tucked away somewhere, rather than search through every box to locate it she has been repurchasing the item. So, now she has not only one but two of everything to find a place for. I suggested since she hasn’t missed or has replaced most of her possessions in storage why not donate them or toss them. What? Get rid of my precious belongings. Never!! Hello?

Rick and I had a long discussion about the importance of things prior to his passing away. None of it mattered at all to him at that point. He took nothing with him on his journey but all the love he had shared and his memories. Everything else was left behind on the physical plane. Sometimes I wonder why we feel the need to amass so much around us.  Comfort, certainly, but it’s more than that. You could be comfortable in a little two bedroom house with a cozy living room and a rather plump cat. I am as a matter of fact. Someone asked me the other day what I’d do if I found myself suddenly wealthy. Wake up, most likely, but in truth I have a pretty good idea of what I’d do. There is no part of me that needs or desires a huge palatial estate with twelve bathrooms and a bowling alley. Perhaps that is why I am sitting here at my modest table writing this blog. This is not coming from any feelings of jealously with regard to those who live that high priced existence but rather that I have little interest in doing so myself. If miraculously my bank account grew an extra six or seven zeroes on the end of it’s balance, I believe I would buy houses for my children, then purchase a small cottage for myself with lots of windows perched on a dune overlooking the sea. A large sunny kitchen and a fireplace would be fabulous and at least two bathrooms in case I have guests. Then I would travel every inch of the world I could fit into my schedule in between time spent with my children and their families. That would be the ideal way to spend the remaining years allotted to me if riches were in my future. Anyone with a crystal ball pointing in that direction please jump in here and let me know if I should begin to pack.

Serendipity being what it is while we were entertaining the storage unit discussion “Hoarders” showed up on the TV following whatever show we’d tuned in to. Mesmerized we watched out of control “collectors” have to face their reality once the houses they lived in became totally unmanageable or downright dangerous. One woman had a plethora of cats who had liberty to pee and poop wherever they found an open spot. Sadly two of them were discovered in mummified states as the clutter was unearthed and carted away.  If you have to create a pathway to navigate your house you might be hoarder. Had a friend in West Virginia who kept everything from the first spoon her little boy used to every report card, each picture he drew, various stages of clothing, and every single card he ever gave her. You can’t keep everything. Those memories can be stored in your heart always but perhaps not in your basement or crawl space. After watching the destruction on hoarders my friend vowed to go home and go through her storage unit and eliminate most of it.

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I heard someone say once America is a country of extremes. That we swing widely from one side to the other. That being said on the opposite side of the coin from the collectors would be the minimalists. Some even qualify as compulsive declutterers. I have a friend married to a lady who gets rid of things the instant they arrive. Unable to abide any clutter at all even the mail has to be collected by him so anything of importance doesn’t end up in the trash can before it can be attended to. Their living room is so sparsely decorated it always gives the appearance they have either just moved in or are preparing to move out. It’s the middle ground for me. Not a clutterer by any means, I need a throw pillow or two, a little color here and there, a magazine or two in evidence and bare walls flat out depress me. My decorating schemes are earthy tones, with contrasting fabrics and designs. I like to sink into my environment and find comfort after a long day in the trenches.

Honestly I have let go of so much over the past ten years. Sometimes I see more of my things when I visit friends and family then I do when I’m in my own home. Many of my pictures, linens, dishes and decorative items were given away or sold during my transition from the house in the high country to the wee house I inhabit today. I don’t mind at all. When I visit I say a silent hello and am glad to see them but I have no place to put them now and like to think someone I love is enjoying them. A friend of mine has a motto I like, “keep the best and leave the rest”. She lives her life that way.  Her closet is composed of interchangeable outfits enhanced by clothes she rents on a monthly basis. Let me preface, I’m not there yet and haven’t even entered the neighborhood. My closet is full and these are just the winter clothes. My summer wardrobe is stored in plastic bins in my shed. I’m still a work in progress. I do believe the beginning of changing a behavior is first acknowledging you are doing it, and second be willing to either improve how much you do it or stop doing it all together. I am on step one. My mother’s love of clothes slopped right over onto me and stuck like tar on a hot day. Sigh.

We all have things we are working on.  I have friends who’s love of shoes leans toward needing a twelve step program. What was it I believe Aristotle said avoid extremes of all sorts and seek moderation in all things. I’m working on it, I’m working on it.

Have a great uncluttered day!

 

 

 

 

 

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Was looking at my car today and wondering how long I can keep it going before it will need to be replaced. A 2009 model with low mileage should be able to squeak by for awhile. Got me thinking about my first car, a 1960 Plymouth Valiant. My mother paid my roommate $100 for it and I feel she got taken to the cleaners…..my mother that is. What an eyesore. I’m surprised the neighbors didn’t get up a petition to prevent me from parking it on the street. Always looked to me like two cars stuck together with some Gorilla glue to create one whole vehicle.  There were buttons denoting the gears located on the side of the steering wheel. When I turned the right hand turn signal on the horn honked. It drew enough attention on it’s own without having this added draw built in. Still, it beat walking. When it was dark and I couldn’t see it parked out front I was secretly thankful at least to have wheels. My high school was two plus miles from home. On hot Southern California days it could seem more like ten when you were carrying books and on foot.

I do not form strong attachments to my vehicles. Rick, for example, affectionately called his red Corvette convertible, Lucille. Lucille was treated with the utmost respect during her tenure at our house. No greasy food entered her hallowed interior and one did not place dirty shoes or feet on anything without wiping them prior to getting in. Once I actually brought iced tea in a to-go cup in with me and was subjected to the “Lucille – Rule 14 – No Unauthorized Liquids – speech before pouring it out. Generally I refer to my car as well, my car. As long as it gets me from Point A to Point B, uses minimal gas, and comes equipped with a radio, heater, and air conditioner I’m a happy camper.

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One car, however, did capture my heart. In 1985 I got a Datsun 300ZX for my birthday. The exterior was a shimmering bronze color complimented by a luxuriously soft buttery leather interior. A five speed, my favorite, with a T-Top, she was a sleek and wonderful machine. The car was built for speed and pleasure, no work horse there. I lived in the Bay Area at the time and often took trips down to the LA area to visit friends. Driving down Highway 101 with the ocean following me to my right, the T-top open, and the wind playing in my hair was one of my life’s truly pleasurable experiences.

When I was a sophomore in high school my mother decided to purchase a new car. It was a black Ford Falcon convertible. Anyone under the age of dirt reading this is scratching their head going, Falcon?? What?

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In truth it was a huge step up from the turquoise and white Metropolitan parked in our garage up until then.  The Metropolitan, though cute, was so small it looked as though should be manned by a band of Munchkins. A two seater, it also boasted a rear seat which you had to be a contortionist to squeeze into. I attribute my great elasticity to this day to having to ride back there often when my mother had a friend up front. While in the Ford dealership mother told the salesman she had always wanted a convertible. Uh-huh. Now, to fully understand my confusion at this statement one would have to understand how important my mother’s hair was and continues to be to her. A huge pool resided in our backyard which she went in regularly. Well, she went on actually. Not a hair on her head was ever befouled by chlorine. A huge raft, which my step-brother referred to as the Queen’s Barge, was put into service when mother went swimming. Swimming was a really loose term for dangling her legs through the leg holes and kicking when she wanted to move around. The raft looked like a throne and had two cup holders in either arm to house her Manhattan should her mood be leaning in that direction. While she was in the pool other swimmers were not permitted to splash, kick or generally get her wet because after all why you want to get wet if you were floating in the water? The hair situation moves easily over to the question, then why a convertible? Obviously if you have the top down perfectly coifed hair isn’t going to remain that way.  The first time we tried it top down we hadn’t gone a block before we had to pull over and put it back up. Seeming to really want to participate in the convertible experience Mother took a drive to the local mall. While there she picked up two net “bonnets”. Both were black, tied under the neck, and equally unattractive. One had gold discs dangling from it that reflected the sun so intensely the light could probably be picked up by passing satellites. As you drove down the street a kaleidoscope of colors bounced off building walls. Russia probably had eyes on us as some kind of U.S. super weapon. Now, I was sixteen. Being seen with my parents when they weren’t embarrassing me was embarrassing enough but being seen driving about town with the top down with my mother wearing her reflective head gear was social suicide. We laugh about this now, but at the time I could only see any future beyond those days as looking lonely and bleak.

The only real knowledge I have of cars and their workings I learned in Drivers Ed when I was in high school. Amazingly some of the lectures stuck because I remember about pistons, and carburetors, and how engines are cooled. Everything is computerized these days. You don’t see boys bent over under open hoods anymore. When I was growing up that was what they did on Saturdays after mowing the lawn. Most of the kids I dated in high school showed up for a dance with a little grease under their fingernails.

Since Rick has passed I have had to learn to remind myself to get the oil changed, the car not mine, and check the tires. The last time I drove back from a trip the low tire pressure alert popped up on the dash. Not wanting to change a tire or have a flat I pulled off the freeway and found a station with an air bank in one corner. Only problem is not only did I not know how much pressure to put in but I had no idea how to do it. I know, you have my permission to feel sorry for me. Thankfully there was a man filing up his tires who was kind enough to do the same for me. I have added this to my ever growing list of things I need to learn before I forget what I’ve already learned. Sigh.

Life continues to find interesting nooks and crannies to explore. I am tackling my asthma situation head on even submitting to take medication as directed to get this cleared up. Air in the house gets checked on Monday. Not sure if I hope they find something or I hope they don’t. The former would narrow the field as to what’s making me act up.

Have a great and safe day!!

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