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Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

Its a welcome sight, watching the rain slither down the window. Huge leaves litter my yard, the air is crisp, and I am tucked away warm and snug inside. Life is good. My kitchen is set up for cookie baking today. The mixer is resting on the counter surrounded by bags of flour and sugar waiting for me to work my magic. Though I’m not a sweet eater myself, a basic flaw in my DNA, I do enjoy baking for friends and family. As with everything in 2020, distribution of my baked goodies will have to look different this year. I may have to send them reindeer mail.

It has been over a month since my positive Covid test. Other than the Covid Brain symptoms still fogging up my thinking processes, I am virtually symptom free. According to the medical professionals I have spoken with, I am no longer a danger to myself or others. Well, at least, with regard to spreading the virus. Have to admit, I do still feel a bit like Typhoid Mary. If I tell someone I had the bug but have recovered, they seem to study me closely with one eyebrow lifted as if I was either openly oozing bacteria or lying about being on the mend. If I sense hesitation, I don’t take it personally, but rather chock up it up to the person erring on the side of caution. I get that, I really do.

With the vaccine beginning to circulate, there is now a shard of light at the end of the tunnel. It will be a glorious day indeed when we finally step out from beneath this heavy blanket of fear and suffering into the light again. Perhaps we will value our freedom and our loved ones on a far deeper level because of this? I know I will be grateful for small things like sitting at a table in a coffee shop with a friend, planting a kiss on one of my grandchildren’s cheeks, or simply stepping outside with my face fully exposed to the sun. I have promised myself never to take these small blessings for granted again once this pandemic is put to bed.

While we are waging war on Covid-19, Russia has been busy digging around in our lingerie drawers looking for whatever secrets they can root out, our legislators are searching for ways to undermine our democracy, and unemployment and hunger continue to be alarmingly on the rise. Just another day at the office. Tiring of it all yesterday, rather than turning on the news and immersing myself in the insanity, I turned on holiday music and allowed my assaulted psyche a day of R&R. It was lovely. In my years on this planet I don’t remember a more turbulent political climate than the one the United States is currently experiencing.

I kind of look at all this this way, just because your folks are loon toons does not mean you have to be. We are all given personal choice to regulate how we behave. That being said, I choose rational and logical as the paths for my thought processes. It is both amazing and unsettling to see how quickly irrational thinking can grab the reins and steer the team down the wrong path in the woods. One person with power and influence can spread discord quickly, allowing it to permeate others like an out of check cancer.

I’m trying, but not always succeeding, to elevate my thinking, choosing to look at the miracles around me and not just concentrate on the derision. Yesterday, I went to get my blood drawn. It was a fasting test, so I sat in the waiting room stomach growling, craving my overdue dose of morning caffeine. Immediately after surrendering my arm for the expected bloodletting, I drove across the street to the Starbuck’s drive thru and got in line. Pulling up to the window to pay for my order, a cheery employee told me the car in front of me had paid $5.00 towards my order Really? I just loved that and immediately felt my heart smile. I thanked her, and asked to pass it on to the car behind me. Now I don’t know, but I’d like to think, this carried on down the line. What a nice gesture. Whether this act of kindness stopped with me or kept on going, it made me happy and started my day in a positive note which remained with me the rest of the day. Yay. We are the guardians of our moods, and it is within us to guide them in the direction we would like them to go.

Today is a different day all together. So far today I am on a roll in the stupid is as stupid does department. First, I dropped my house phone on the floor and lost the piece connecting it to the power supply. Now neither the phone nor I have left the house since the unfortunate accident, but do you think I can find that little plastic piece? Nooooooo. I have looked everywhere. Perhaps this is a sign from the dinosaur phone gods saying, “Susie, get rid of your stupid land line. Nobody in this century has land lines anymore.” I do, and a piece has now gone missing. Sigh. I keep the land line because in case of an emergency 9-1-1 can track your land line but not your cell phone. Ah well, I’m not going to fight the elements. It will show up in a potted plant, or stuck to the bottom of a chair one of these days, undoubtedly two days after I’ve tossed the phone and bought a new one. Murphy’s Law at work in plain sight.

Immediately following the strange plastic thingy disappearing I was going into my bedroom, a not unfamiliar landscape for me, and slammed my knee hard into the side of my nightstand. Now, this nightstand had not recently been moved by a mysterious intruder here to simply rearrange my furniture. It was in the same spot it has resided for two and a half years and yet I didn’t see it. I don’t suppose I can attribute this to Covid brain as well? The list of blame on the virus is getting long. So, I now have a huge bulbous knot on my knee which not only hurts but looks rather unattractive. Thank God for extra strength Tylenol, manna of the gods.

I shall say goodbye for now. I am off to create deliciousness in my kitchen. Hopefully, I will emerge with tins of yummy cookies and all my digits accounted for.

Happy Thursday to you. Stay safe and pass on a little kindness.

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For the most part the symptoms of my recent Covid infection have either abated or in most cases, disappeared completely. Each group seemed to have arrived and departed in waves. Just when I thought I was completely out of the woods, Covid brain arrived on the scene. This is a fun one. I first noticed it while trying to decipher a fairly simple email detailing instructions on how to proceed on a project I was working on. I read and reread the information. In spite of willing my brain to absorb what was written, the data kept seeping out of my left ear and disappearing into the atmospheric continuum. Finally, I had to call the client and have a phone conversation to get it to sink in. Duh and double duh. Not that I can’t be dense times, I most certainly can. However, these were not instructions on how to build a nuclear device, it was how to lay out a flyer, something I’ve done a hundred times before.

I began to notice myself having more than usual blonde moments over the next few days. I made the coffee as I do every night before retiring, but neglected to put the pot under the machine after filling it with water. This would have been less concerning had I not come out half awake the following morning and pushed brew without noticing my omission. Whoops.

Yesterday I took stupid to new heights while trying to take Boo, the queen of cats, to the vet. I have been in my new house over two years. Time to find a new vet, and past time to update vaccinations and to get her a general well check. Vet visits, I have to say, are not something Boo is a fan of. This lack of enthusiasm often spreads over to me. The vet I made an appointment with was recommended by a friend. Though not having been to the office before, I had a general idea of the location. The woman on the phone explained due to Covid, owners no longer accompany their animals inside. Instead they pull into a numbered parking space and call the number provided them when they arrive and animals are retrieved by hospital employees . Works for me. So, I pulled into the parking lot a few minutes early, and didn’t see any numbers by the parking spot I was in, or any parking spot. Odd. I dialed what I believed to be the correct number off my recent call list. The person on the other end answered “hospital”, to which I responded, “Hi, I have my kitty waiting to be picked up but I didn’t find any number by the parking space.” Silence, followed by a little more silence. Finally, I broke the stalemate and said, “Hello”? I believe the operator wanted to ask at that point if I was on drugs or needed to be directed to the psychiatric ward, but instead responded “ma’am this is a hospital”. I was thinking to myself, “Your point would be?”, when she said, “We don’t see kitties here. “ Oh, like a real hospital, for humans. A light went on in an otherwise dark corner of my brain. I had called them yesterday about another Covid test and their number was one below the vets. Whoops. My bad. Looking at my recent call log I located the right number and called it. This time a friendly voice answered, “animal hospital”. Bingo. Once again I explained I had my cat in the car, but didn’t see any numbered spaces. The young woman said she’d be right out. After several minutes, still no one emerged from the building. My phone rang. Apparently the vet assistant was standing outside her building and unless she was transparent or Boo and I were, something was amiss. Drat the luck. I asked her to repeat the address please. Sigh. This was indeed a veterinary hospital just not the one where I had an appointment. Apologizing to the world in general for my dingyness, I pulled out and went in search of the right address. Thankfully, I pulled into a parking lot full of numbered parking spots. Whoopee. Boo was retrieved. The vet called shortly with good news, she’s healthy as a horse (a little vet humor) even bordering on being a little chubby (aren’t we all these days).

The vet, a lovely woman, who took the time to speak to me on the phone said Boo was sweet and wonderful. My Boo? Are you sure you’re looking the right carrier? White cat, calico markings, evil grin? Truthfully, I have to say she is picture perfect when in the vet’s office. I swear, if asked to open her mouth and say “aah’ she would. They give her a pill and she swallows it politely. They send me home with the same cat and the same pill and a little pill gun to shoot it towards the back of her mouth, and it takes three men and a roll of duct tape to get it into her stomach. Amazing. When she had surgery on her ear they put one of those collars around her neck to keep her from bothering the incision. Right. My “sweet” pussy cat took her head and banged it as hard as she could on any hard surface available until it was completely unusable. When I took the tattered remains of the collar back to the vet and asked what I should do, they looked at me as if I was somehow incapable of managing my animal. Really? By the time we hit the third collar they were looking far less skeptical.

This vet today told me Boo was in perfect health but would need her teeth cleaned. This information made my teeth clench. Her teeth were cleaned seven years ago and it is expensive. This will be my Christmas present to myself for the next seven years at $100 each year. I should have purchased that vet insurance when I was thinking about it. The vet asked if I brushed her teeth. Uh, no. She went on to say they don’t expect their cat owners to do this, because if bitten they could get an infection and the fact that the animal is dead set against it ends up being traumatic for the animal. It takes me an hour and stealthlike precision to detail to get Boo into her crate, the likelihood of her sitting still while I’m prying her mouth open and brushing between her teeth ranges right in between 0 and sub 0. I’m just saying. I can’t even find a groomer willing to bathe felines due to their aversion to, well, just about everything they don’t want to do. When the drawing for felines was still in the designer phase back in the beginning, they must have added the feature of cats cleaning themselves knowing this would be a problem down the road.

So, we are back home. Boo is stuffing those little chubby cheeks with her treat for acquiescing to being cared for. Bless her furry little snout.


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I have a dear friend who’s old dog is reaching the end of her story. This gentlemen lost his wife three years ago. A lot of of the love he had no place for after his wife died, he has poured into this sweet little dog. Like many old animals, Maya has slowed down considerably. Where she used to run joyfully after her ball, she now sits and looks longingly after it if you toss it, but doesn’t make any effort to get up and bring it back to you. Still, she loves to be in the yard. I watch her from my window when she’s visiting. There’s something so joyful in the way she raises that old snout and breathes deeply the fresh air. Sitting quietly, her head turns from one side to the other as she surveys her “land” and she seems to take pleasure in simply being outside shrouded in nature. When we are entrusted with an animal’s well being, it is up to us to make the to relieve them from pain should it become necessary, because they can’t do it for themselves. So many times I have been asked to make the choice to have to say goodbye to an old furry friend. It never gets any easier. Fortunately Maya has no pain according to the vet so she will live out her life well loved and cared for until it is time for her to go. To my mind, pets are members of the family. I have said many times Boo, the Queen of Cats, can be credited with getting me through the past two and a half years. Had I had to face Rick’s death and this isolation without her companionship it would have proved far more difficult. There isn’t a day I don’t look at that much loved furry face and feel overwhelming thanks for her presence in my life.

Loss is part of life. This year has brought more than the usual share of loss for so many people it seems. I remember thinking last year I could not wait for 2020. 2019 was a year marked by a lot of hard edges. I can hear my grandmother’s voice in my ear, “Susan, never wish your life away”, but 2019 asked a lot. Who knew 2020 was going to show up and prove to be a far more tumultuous and difficult year? Makes 2019 look like a walk in the park.

I am thankful I made it through with the virus and didn’t end up in the hospital. Finally, Even more thankful that after entering my third week of confinement I am beginning to feel like my old self. Not fully mended yet but beginning to sense it is around the next bend in the road. The virus is still lingering in my body according to a recent second test, also positive. Apparently this is not uncommon. I have been given the green light to actually return to the general population the middle of next week provided all my symptoms have abated. This news comes just in time for California to begin a sort of state-wide lock down to get a handle on the over populated hospital wards due to Covid spread. So, I can go out, but, I can’t go out. Rather than hop in the pity pot and stew for a while, I am going to wrap myself around the glorious feeling of finding my energy once again and my regained sense of taste and smell and do something to keep myself busy in my little house with Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats. This too will pass, will be my mantra, and I have promised myself if I feel despair knocking at my door, I will not answer.

In an effort to keep the blues at bay, I have dusted off my sewing machine and begun to work on some projects. I love to sew, it’s cathartic for me. Actually enjoying working with fabrics really didn’t start for me until my early thirties. Up until then, I had not had much success with sewing. The first time I used a sewing machine was in Home Economics in eighth grade. Home Economics, for those of you scratching your heads, was a required subject in middle school back in the stone age. Young women of that time were being groomed to become wives and mothers, not CEO’s of large high-tech companies. Household skills were deemed necessary to sink the hook in your mate of choice. Thankfully, I didn’t lean totally on this Cinderella concept. I enrolled in a typing class before I graduated from high school. This, it would turn out, would be a decision that would save my bacon when finding myself a single mother with two small children a few years down the road. Home Ec, as we called it, was not my favorite class. I did not endear myself to my classmates when in the first semester tasked with making cinnamon toast (not exactly rocket science) I accidentally grabbed the jar containing salt not sugar. This would have been chocked up to a stupid mistake but for the fact in order to get a grade we had to eat what we produced. Needless to say this did not sit well for the other young ladies in my group. Sorry.

From cooking we moved on to sewing. My mother, God love her, couldn’t sew on a button if the fate of the world hung on her doing so correctly. Mum was a bit of a debutante growing up, and had people to do such things. Up until a scant few years ago if she lost a button or dropped part of a hem the item was put in a pile with a note reading “Save for Susie” pinned to it to await my next visit. So, going into sewing class I knew absolutely not one thing about how a sewing machine worked or any clue whatsoever about choosing fabrics or reading a pattern. My best friend who next to me in class was usually my partner in crime. If possible, she knew even less about how to thread a needle. Between the two of us, we were sort of the precursors to Dumb and Dumber, ladies edition. Similar to having to eat what we cooked, we were giving the assignment of making a garment then wearing it to school to earn our grade. Isn’t life humiliating enough at thirteen, without being charged with having to do something like that? I think so, I really do.

The next weekend, my mother took my friend and I to the fabric store to pick out patterns and fabric for our assignment. Now, this would be tantamount to sending a chimp to the NASA command center to manage a rocket launch. I decided to make a skirt. I’m sure this decision was predicated on the fact a skirt was equal to half a dress so would be less work and had a relatively low degree of difficulty. A skirt would consist of a waistband, a zipper and the skirt itself. Easy peasy. Right. I got the pattern home, opened it up, and laid the pieces out on the floor. Had the instructions been written in Ancient Sanskrit they couldn’t have been more confusing. Words like “selvage”, “understitch” and “bias” jumped off the page with no explanation offered. Diligently, I pinned the pattern pieces to the fabric, cut them out, and took the lot back to school the day my next class was scheduled. Having no idea there were different types of fabrics, one better suited than another, I chose a stretchy material. True to it’s description, it twisted and stretched in every direction like an avid marathon runner before a big race. By the time I got done sewing the skirt, put in the zipper, and attached the waistband, it looked like I had sewn tennis balls underneath it. Puckers and pouches abounded. Sigh. My mother, always my biggest fan, said it looked as if I’d bought it off the rack. Go, Mom. It’s like the old Egyptian saying, “in his mother’s eye, the monkey is a gazelle”. Knowing I had to wear it to school, I seriously considered sewing a matching bag to pull over my head. I showed up at school the day we were to show our final product, skirt on, and head down. About mid-morning, with my Home Ec class not scheduled until after lunch, I had already endured enough humiliation to fill the humble pie of my young life to the brim. Just before lunch, the unevenly placed stitching on the waistband gave way and my skirt, waving the white flag of defeat, dropped to my knees. Life, as they say, was in the toilet during that moment. So memorable was it for my friends, I was still taking some good natured kidding in high school about that incident several years later. Fortunately, I had worn a slip, the only thing rescuing me from total social suicide. Still, I had to go to the Home Ec class and be sewn into my skirt so I could finish the day. That being said, the resulting grade did not do much to enhance my GPA.

After that debacle, I retired my foot pedal until I was given a sewing machine in my twenties by a friend who had purchased a new one. I didn’t have the heart to tell her no, so excited was she to be sharing something she so enjoyed with me. Yawn. For the first year, the machine sat lonely and abandoned on the closet shelf in my spare room. Around the holidays, my daughter, a third grader at the time, came home to excitedly tell me she was going to be a Cossack in a Christmas pageant at her school. Yay!! A newletter sent home to the parents of participants in the pageant mentioned parents were expected to either sew or have sewn the costumes their offspring were to be wearing. Swell. I felt I leaned more toward the “have sewn” group, but since money wasn’t exactly sprouting out of a tree in the back yard, I decided I’d better attempt to create something myself. Once again, I immersed myself in the strange and wonderful world of patterns, but this time I showed up to the battle armed with The Simplicity Learn to Sew Book. Truthfully, looking back most of the things I’ve learned to do well in my life have either came from trial and error by actually doing whatever it is I set out to do, or getting a book and going about teaching myself. I am probably one of the more tenacious humans on earth, so like a dog with a bone I will keep gnawing at it until I get to the marrow.

After much swearing and a number of failed attempts, one resulting in a shredded Cossack vest resting in a shallow grave in the art room trash can, I finally managed to make a costume my little girl could be proud of. Secretly, I was rather proud of it myself. My mom sat in the audience the night of the pageant and when she saw the costume she leaned over and whispered, “looks like you bought it off the rack”. Go, Mom.

I am not fond of the word can’t. Used to tell my kids there is no such thing as can’t, but rather “won’t” or “I don’t want to”. Most probably most things you really apply yourself to do, can be done. Not all of course, I’ve had some epic failures. Let’s face it, you can’t fail if you never try at all.

So I shall persevere today and remind myself how much I like to sit at machine creating lovely things with fabric. Maybe you can rekindle a romance with something you used to love during this time of isolation? Make it a great and productive day.

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Contracting this damnable virus has put my life on hold for the past two weeks. Accomplishing even normal tasks such as doing a few dishes in the sink or picking up clutter feel like monumental tasks. I am so grateful I’m not in a hospital somewhere hooked up to a machine to guarantee my next breath, but have to admit it’s difficult for a neatnik such as myself to deal with watching my house getting totally out of control. My dust bunnies have their own little garden to play in under my kitchen table and Miss Boo has gone completely rogue and has distributed her rather large family of stuffed mice all over the living room carpet. Let’s don’t even discuss the lovely layer of accumulated dust now decorating every surface. Seriously, let’s don’t discuss it.

I bought a turkey in spite of being ill. According to the directions it wouldn’t be cooking itself. Too bad, this year I would have paid extra for that. I ordered a very small bird – 10-12 pounds, but because people are leaning towards smaller gatherings this year there aren’t many small birds to go around. Consequently, I got a very large bird who’s drumsticks provided enough meat for myself and my roomie alone not taking into account the rest of the meat on the bird. I can see turkey soup, turkey casserole, and turkey sandwiches looming in my future. Truth is my appetite is not what it could be right now. Thankfully, my sense of taste and smell is beginning to slowly return to normal. For an old foodie like me, this is a happy situation.

People are traveling this holiday in spite of dire predictions of what is to come if they do. The urge to be with our families I guess supercedes good sense. Perhaps, if I hadn’t just gone through this siege with COVID, I might have been more inclined myself. For me, having experienced it first hand, giving this to someone I love would be inexcusable. That being said, I will content myself knowing they are out there and they love me. For this year, this will have to be enough.

I have so many years of turkey day memories to lean on should I get lonely. Our family get togethers are always peppered with the usual holiday horror stories like when our cocker spaniel, Ginger, stole the bird right off the bread board while twenty-five of us were seated at the table eating our Thanksgiving dinner. Also, like many of you who have related similar tales of woe, there was the year I cooked the bag of giblets in the turkey. When it was discovered while carving I got very upset insisting I had never put anything in the bird before cooking it. Who knew? In my defense it was my first turkey, and my first large dinner party. My mother, a wonderful cook, was a working mother and there wasn’t much time in her schedule for cooking lessons. When I got married at nineteen I knew how to cook scrambled eggs, toast and cold cereal. Amazingly, we didn’t die of malnutrition that first year. I credit In ‘n Out and Arby’s with providing what food did show up on our plates in those early days. Finally, stepping into our second year together armed with The Joy of Cooking, a Christmas gift from my then father-in-law, I embarked on the quest to learn about recipes and seasoning.

I’m still trying to get the hang of virtual grocery shopping. I ordered a pound of bananas and when the order arrived I found one large banana in the bag. Next time to ensure I got enough of what I needed I ordered three pounds of Brussels sprouts which arrived in what looked like a 33 gallon trash bag. We will be enjoying the petit chou for every meal for the next two weeks. Sigh. There are “personal shoppers” selecting your items. Some are very good I find. They are supposed to always check with you before making a substitution. Sorry gentlemen, but my experience has been the ladies out shop the men every time particularly when it comes to substitutions. One man, when I had requested a pound of ground beef sent me a package of frozen White Castle burgers, where another one substituted frozen broccoli and cauliflower for the meat I had ordered. No matter how hard I try I cannot make a burger out of frozen vegetables. Now I either check “no substitutions” when I place the order or make sure I’m vigilant while the shopper is in the store so I don’t end up with a box of SOS when I asked for graham crackers.

I’m glad Thanksgiving is done now. I did it, we ate, the turkey got cooked, and I am currently over it. Thank you, thank you very much. As usual I did not get through the day without a disaster of sorts. This one really chaps my hide. I didn’t realize I had given my daughter all of my roasting pans. I guess when I moved in here Rick had just passed away and somehow in my grief stricken mind I decided I wouldn’t be celebrating the holidays. Now here I sat with a huge bird and nothing to cook it in. I would happily have gone to the store and picked up a roaster but I am currently quarantined. When I looked into having one delivered I discovered I could have a $3.99 tossable roasting pan delivered for a mere $42.00. Not. I’d make one myself before doing that. So I came up with a genius idea. Yup, I’m full of them. I used my largest glass casserole. The bird actually fit in the pan but the legs stuck over the end. Another light bulb went off in my brain. I would create a tin foil structure under the glass pan to catch any drippings. Also, just in case of excess dripping I laid a piece of tin foil on the bottom of the oven. Now, some of you who know what a novice move this was are shaking your head right about now. You’ve either done this or know better than to do it. At some point the drippings made it to the lower lining of tin foil and when I went to take it off the bottom of the oven and toss it, it wouldn’t come off. Oh-oh. Finally I got the majority of it off leaving about eight small squares still adhering to the metal. Darn. Leaning into the oven I noticed writing towards the front of the bottom. It read, “Do Not Place Aluminum Foil on Bottom of Oven”. Swell. So, I decided to clean the oven in the hopes it would come off. It did not. I went on the Internet, because it has all the answers. I found several sites where other stupid people who had done the same thing had posted suggestions on how to remedy the situation. First thing they all said is do not use the self-clean. Insert expletive here. I am so careful with this house. My grandma always taught me you take better care of other people’s things than you do your own. My landlords bought this new oven the beginning of summer to replace the original one which went south. Sigh. I’m going to chock this disaster up to not feeling well. Sometimes you just have to accept what is and get over yourself. Hasta la vista cleaning deposit. Ach.

My sweet daughter drove my Christmas tree over yesterday and left it in my backyard. I’m sure she took a bath in Lysol after she left here and I wouldn’t blame her. Hosting this bug makes you feel a bit like a leper. I peered at her out the window and waved but sure do miss giving my girl a hug and a kiss but life is what it is at the moment and I have to keep reminding myself nothing lasts forever.

So, today I shall decorate my tree and watch holiday movies. That always puts a smile on my face. Hope your holiday was a good one including lots of good food on your table, and if not in person, virtual get togethers with friends and family.

I’m going to begin and finish my holiday shopping this weekend. Have no good idea what to buy for everyone but I shall persevere.

Talk soon. Stay safe.

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Let me start by saying I’m not a big fan of Daylight Savings Time. Voters in California voted 60% in favor of not changing the time moving forward, but our legislators neglected to act on it. To be consistent in my goal to do nothing the way others of my kind do, I do all right when we “spring forward”, but my internal clock goes totally haywire when we “fall back”, the exact opposite of what most humans experience. According to an article I read on the subject, a week’s camping trip can do the trick in resetting your circadian rythms and your sleep patterns. Artificial light is the enemy of sleep it seems, and getting away from the TV, computer, phone, etc. allows your body to resume it’s natural rythms once again. This for me would be like water boarding. Couldn’t I just push my reset button and get on with it?

To begin with, since I hit menopause I have had trouble sleeping. As a thought here, shouldn’t that be womanopause? I’m just saying. Often you will find my lights on in the wee hours of the night. Recently, my doctor ordered a sleep study to rule out his suspicions I might be suffering from sleep apnea. I was to be observed overnight to see if I had times when I stopped breathing while asleep. Good news, I did not. Yay. However, I did entertain the technicians with the choreographed dance I performed due my restless leg syndrome. According to their notes, I sometimes moved my legs upwards of thirty times an hour. Whew. Who knew? At that rate I should be able to polish off a pepperoni pizza at seven and have it completely burned off by 10 o’clock. Sigh. Wish it did work that way. Apparently you have to be vertical and actually propelling yourself forward to eliminate those kind of calories. Darn. As much as I dislike organized exercise, this would have been the perfect solution. Lack of sleep can be a problem down the road. It can make you distracted, cause you to gain weight, or even give you a heart attack. Not to mention all that good news we are in the middle of a pandemic that is out of control so lots to keep those eyes wide open in the middle of the night. Whoopee.

There are a lot of side issues to this pandemic besides lack of sleep and anxiety. As I’m sure many people are finding, this pandemic has turned out to be not only devastating for our country and those directly affected by it, but it has also seems to have an additional side effect, the pandemic is fattening. I have noticed my electric bill has has increased substantially since staying home has become more the norm for me than the exception. Secretly, I believe this increase can be attributed directly to the number of times I’ve opened my refrigerator door since the beginning of 2020. Even though I tend to weigh in on the lean side, I have added a pants size since the beginning of the year. My doctor tells me this is a plus. He went on to say people of a certain age should carry a little extra padding in the event of an unexpected illness. Tell that to my drawer full of size 2 jeans no longer pulling up past my knees. Normally I don’t go to food when I am feeling slightly depressed. Under stress, my weight often drops alarmingly. This year, as with many things out of whack, this has not been the case. So, as I have adjusted to waddling around the house in yoga pants, I sit here at my computer watching as my behind spreads out on the chair beneath me. Sigh.

On the plus side, at last fall has arrived. Yesterday, while driving to an appointment, I was awed by the vibrant colors spreading along the hillsides. This time of year sends my energy level soaring.

My favorite fall displays though are still definitely to be found in the eastern part of our nation. When my children were toddlers we lived in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Wakefield was by all accounts a typical New England town replete with numerous church steeples peeking above the tree tops and gorgeous autumn vistas when the thermometer began to lean towards cold. I discovered quickly living on the east coast, the clothing I’d brought with me from the west coast wasn’t going to be adequate to see us through the winter. One thing about living in snow country when you have little ones, dressing them for the weather requires more clothing and much more time. Unlike sending them out in California with a light jacket, wool hat, and mittens, sending them out in the middle of winter in Massachusetts requires a lot more protection. Snow suits were purchased that first cold spell along with heavy jackets for myself and their dad. As we both worked in Boston, this added at least an hour to our morning routine to get everyone “suited up” and organizing the travel from the house to the car before heading out for our day.

The house we lived in was a large two story home, typical for the area. The house faced the lake, which was sort of the hub of the town itself. Though there was a basement and an attic, the builders had not included a garage and no one had thought to add one since. The house was built in the late 1800’s. At the time it was built, there were no cars on the road so a garage wouldn’t have been seen as a necessity unless you were planning to store your wagon in it. Though it may not have been a necessity back in the day, it certainly would have come in handy at the time we were living there. When the first heavy winter storm hit the state, we peered out the window to see the entire yard piled high with huge drifts of freshly fallen snow. Several trees appeared as shrouded figures beneath the mounds, and in the center of our yard our yellow Ford station wagon rose up like a hulking beast with not a spot of yellow paint to be seen beneath the frosty layer covering it. Sigh. The thermometer in the kitchen read frrrrrreezing. When you factored in the wind chill, it felt much colder. Though it would have been nice to crawl back under the warm comforter and curl up we had a commute to tackle and employers counting on us. If everyone in Massachusetts took a snow day off every time the weather turned disagreeable, the state would have quickly sunk into ruin and no one would have had food on the table. Employers expected you to show up snow or no snow, and the car being buried in the stuff offered up no exception.

After several abysmal attempts at getting to the car and into work on time, we came up with a plan. Kirby, my husband, would go out in the front yard with the snow shovel and dig his way to the front door of the station wagon and let himself in. Before turning on the car, we had been told you had to make sure the tailpipe was in the open so that dangerous fumes didn’t build inside the vehicle. Check and double check. Then he would turn the car on and leave it running to warm up. I was tasked with corralling the rug rats, getting them in their snow gear, getting myself ready to travel and getting them secured in their car seats. By the time we reached the babysitter’s house, that is if the snow plow had come down our street so we could, I was ready for a long winter’s nap.

Once the children were secured for the day, we drove together to the train station and boarded our first train of the morning. At the first stop, we changed trains, saying goodbye as each of us headed off in a different direction. I hopped on the Green Line into downtown with Kirby taking the Red towards the pier area where his office building was located. Once at the destination station, I stepped off with the rest of the herd and mooooed my way up the long flight of stairs to street level. On warm days, going up and down was a piece of cake, but on blustery days you held on to the handrail tightly lest you slipped on the icy steps.

My office building was an old brick structure situated on Newbury Street. During the summer the interior was hot, and in the winter cold. Often I wore two or three layers of clothing going to work, leaving a layer or two on even while sitting at my desk. The old radiators made lots of noise about heating the rooms, but didn’t provide much energy to get the job done.

Officially my job title was Assistant Area Director for the American Cancer Society. Durng my three years there, particularly during their fund drives, I would end up taking work home with me when what I had to do ran over the time I had to do it in. This winter day happened to be one such day. There were no computers around, so everything was done on paper. Stop it, I know! All my documents were put into manila folders and filed in banks of file cabinets. So, when I say “I took work home with me”, it was meant that in the most literal sense. Getting off work at 5:00 meant the sun was already tucked in bed. A light snow was falling beyond the window at the front of the building where I pulled on my sweater, my winter coat, my scarf and my wool hat. Next heavy boots were pulled on over woolen socks, my mittens secured and I was ready to step out the front door. I had forgotten my valise that day, so it was necessary to pile the file folders I was taking with me in a stack and carry them along with my lunch bag and my purse to the entrance to the subway. Several times along the slick sidewalk I nearly lost my footing. Standing at the top of the long flight of stairs I reached out with a mittened hand to grab the hand rail and piled in behind the crowd of commuters headed down into the great abyss. At about the second step I lost my footing. People shoving and pushing behind me propelled me forward. With my hands full, I was unable to right myself and as I careened forward the folders flew up in the air and paperwork rained like confetti at a parade over the people on the bottom of the stairs. Flailing at the air, I reached out on my descent and my grasping fingers wrapped around this gentleman’s tie. In a sort of awkward dance he and I lurched forward knocking people down like bowling pins before landing one on top of the other at the bottom of the stairs. His face, at that point, had turned a startling shade of purple from the tightening of his neckware cutting off his air supply. Sorry. Papers were everywhere. Most I found, the others either walked away on the bottom of someone’s boot or floated into a corner to be swept up by custodians.

Gathering up what I could along with my remaining dignity, I thanked the gentleman I had nearly strangled for being nice enough to still take the time to help me after I tried to do him in.

Often after that I saw him going down or coming up. Always he stayed a safe distance from me just in case I was going to try out my aerial act and include him once again.

One thing I do love about living in California is that you can live where there is snow, or you can live where there is not. I choose not. For many years I dealt with snow tires, frozen windshields, slippery sidewalks and frigid temperatures. Getting too old to do that again. So I will enjoy the glorious fall colors available to me in my area and be happy to do so. Rain is in the forecast and I’m looking most forward to seeing drops on the window.

Interesting, not sure that’s the correct word, all that is going on in our country right now. Trying to rise above the noise and find some peace and contentment in this atmosphere stirring around us isn’t always easy. Hmmmm maybe that camping trip is a good idea. Not.

Enjoy your day. Quiet the noise and breathe deeply the crisp fall air.

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Well, another Halloween, and for me another birthday, have been put to bed. Now the big boys of the holiday clan lie ahead, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Trying to get into my grateful mode, which involves being thankful for what I have, not what I am lacking, I am trying to resist sticking out my boo-boo lip at not spending these beloved holidays with my family. Covid has certainly changed the landscape of our world since it’s arrival on the scene, but in the old “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” line of thinking, if it is just myself, a dear friend, and Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, seated at the table we will proceed in a festive mood.

Watching the trick or treaters come up to the porch Halloween night to grab some candy out of the bowl I left for them on the chair, really served to accent how much has changed this year. To be honest, I was surprised to see any children at all. It felt a bit lonely peeking out at them through my curtain, but it made me happy to hear them giggle as they grabbed their treats and went on down the road to the next house with a welcoming light on.

November 1st was my birthday. Yup, I have gone and added yet another ring around my trunk. I know I’m beginning to be long in the tooth, but truth is, I still feel, and often act, like a kid. I intend to keep that inner child alive and active until I’ve made it to the end of my last mile here. Aging is one thing, but getting old, well, it’s simply not my style. My grandmother told me once when she was in her ninety-second year, “I am a eighteen year old girl, trapped in a ninety-year old body”. For some reason that always stayed with me. She was to remain with us until she was ninety-six. Her vision, hearing and sense of taste and smell were gone at that point and I believe she’d grown tired of her ever diminishing world and was ready to fall in step with my grandfather who’d left us some thirty years before. Sometimes I look at my mother and wonder how she feels about the whole program. Because she’s lost the ability to communicate her feelings succinctly due to the dementia, I suppose I will be left to wonder. I do my best to keep her safe and happy. Modern medicine has extended our time on earth, but not necessarily increased the quality of the extra time we have here.

I had the most unsettling dream several nights ago. In my dream, company was coming for Christmas. My living room was a sea of half opened boxes with ornaments, wreaths, and all manner of holiday decorations scattered around me on the carpet. There were other people in the room and the plan, as I understood it in my dream, was we were going to put up the tree and decorate the house. As I began to unpack the box next to me containing the tree segments, I realized I could not remember how they went together. As the dream continued, I became more and more confused and unable to comprehend how to do even the simplest of tasks such as using a tape dispenser. Though I’m not an expert on interpreting dreams, my best guess here would be this dream allowed me a window through with which to view my mother’s world since dementia took the wheel. Having a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s is like losing them one small piece at a time. Gradually, the person you once knew fades into the background. In my case, my mother is happy and content and can still engage with me in conversation (not how to split the atom, but simple conversation) and knows who I am and recognizes my children every time I visit. For this I am most blessed.

Sometimes I think this generation doesn’t understand the value of the older members of our population. Having lived for a long time, they generally have so much to share about what they have seen and much to contribute by way of wisdom as to what is going on in our world today. They are like old oak trees. When they are sprouts, trees have spindly, unsteady limbs and sparse foliage. As they grow and flourish, they fill out, providing lush shade for those beneath them and shelter for the birds and animals making their homes there.

My grandmother taught me much about the world. I like to think perhaps my grandchildren have learned a little something from me. As our grandchildren get older and become more independent they seem to need us less, but I don’t believe that to be true. What is true, is that when they are young we are super stars in their life but when they reach young adults we are replaced with devices and peers. That is the natural way of things. However, the bond we develop with them when they are youngsters should endure as they mature and grow into adulthood. I know I was still my Gammy’s “dear Little Susan” until the day she passed away.

I think of family a lot lately. It’s like when you’re on a diet and all you can imagine having is a greasy cheeseburger and a big stack of onion rings. Being without them is a life lesson. When having them back within hugging distance, I have promised myself never to take that privilege for granted again.

Another election is also complete, or at least the votes have been counted and a winner declared. Having so many voters show up to the polls with Covid on the move to cast their ballots, is a indication of how strongly citizens of the United States felt about the outcome of this race. Whichever side your allegiances fell, and whether you are pleased or disappointed with the winning ticket, at least it is over and perhaps we can all find some middle ground with which to begin a civil conversation again. I, for one, would like to see us all begin to work for common goals so we can get out of the current pot of stew we are in. Perhaps that is simply too idealistic of a goal, but at least to be able to open our minds to thinking other than our own might be a step in the right direction?

I had the overwhelming urge today to take my shoes off and run across the grass in my bare feet, so I did. Last night I danced with the cat. One must find their joy where they can.

Thanksgiving will not be traditional this year. Rather than whine about it, I will get a turkey and create all the side dishes. A friend of mine will come and we will have a socially distanced dinner with all the trimmings with a dish on the floor for Miss Boo and Maya, my friend’s dog. I will Zoom with my kids and he will with his. Hopefully, we can catch a game or two but there will be no Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade this year to enjoy over coffee. That being said, I’m going to find the original Miracle on 34th Street and get my fix of parade footage there.

So, change is in the air. Someone told me the other day that they found change very disconcerting. For me, change is simply the natural flow of life. Nothing, and I repeat, nothing, remains the same forever. With each wave that rolls into shore, thousands of bits of shells are rearranged into an entirely different pattern. Leaves fall, people move, children are born, and people die. Each day is a state of flux and we are left to drift along in the current and take each turn in the bend as it presents itself to us.

I leave you with my introspective musings and promise to come back with a lighter story on my next writing. Stay safe. Let’s clear the slate and write something new and upbeat on it to carry us forth.

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Well, we are rounding the curve and the finish line is in sight. Thankfully, by the end of next week we should have some idea how the citizens of the United States have plotted our course for the next four years. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a decision on who’s going to run the assylum one way or another. Bickering makes me tired.

Aside from the loss of freedom imposed by the Covid pandemic, there have been a lot of losses in my world this year. My son just reported his beloved Labrador retriever, Sadie, passed away. Sadie was a senior citizen in the dog kingdom, but that does not make her passing any less sad. My granddaughter lost her golden lab, Pita, last month and those are just the members of our inner circle who sit beneath the table counted missing. Blessedly, my loved ones are healthy and thriving. I am grateful for this every day, and each night before I go to bed I picture each of them surrounded in a golden light that keeps them protected and safe. In this environment where you find yourself constantly looking over your shoulder or waiting for the other shoe to drop, it is important to lean heavily on whatever faith you might have and steadily kindle your joy and sense of humor. My sense of humor has literally lighted my way through the darkest times in my life. I have been married four times, buried two of my husbands and divorced the other two, and said goodbye to Rick over two years ago, my partner of twenty years. One cannot walk through that minefield without losing a few body parts along the way. Always, in spite of whatever was transpiring in my world, I seemed to be able to retrieve a good laugh I hadn’t used yet. I can’t tell you how that has helped to make difficult situations more tolerable.

I did not know my dad, but from what I understand he was a funny guy. Now, from what I hear from my relatives on his side, he was more of the life of the party guy. When dad walked in, the party began, I believe was how it was put. That is not me. Born November 1st, I am a Scorpio baby. Scorpios, though they enjoy lifelong friendships (we’re very loyal) and deep, passionate relationships, they do not enjoy huge gatherings of strangers and a lot of gibbering small talk. I can do it, mind you, I’d just prefer not to. Intimate gatherings of dear friends or new acquaintances are far more my cup of tea.

Huge groups of unfamiliar faces make me want to open the closet door and step inside. Many times over the years I have been forced to face this fear, and each time I’ve approached the plate and gotten myself through the experience. Public speaking is high on people’s lists of fear inspiring events. I would never be happy with the spotlight pointed directly at me, which perhaps is why I was placed in a family where millions of people have absolutely no interest in what we are doing from one moment to the next. I am good with that. The good news is I’m good at a number of things, but excel in none. Fame has not eluded me, I have successfully managed to elude fame. Yay for me.

The first time I was called on to speak in front of a large gathering was at my best friend’s wedding when I was twenty-two. Prior to that, the only experience I’d had with speaking to a group was giving an oral book report in my high school English class. Not that getting up in front of my class wasn’t intimidating, but it was a walk in the park compared to the enormous turnout for this wedding ceremony.

Mike, short for Michaelin, had been planning her wedding since she exited the womb. On the way down the birth canal she was caught jotting notes on paper selection for the invitations and which flowers to choose for decorating the aisles of the church. At five, she had a subscription to Brides. The bulletin board in her room was completely obscured by wedding suggestions and ideal venues for the big event. When she finally met her prince, I was invited to be her maid of honor. This was not the first time I’d stood at the altar with a friend. In point of fact, it was the third. In each case, the attendants are always assured the dresses they’ve selected for you to wear can be worn to other functions after the ceremony. Right. Each of mine ended up on the Halloween clearance rack at the local Salvation Army. It was bad enough I had to seen in public once wearing them, why on earth would I subject myself to that humiliation another time?

One particular nightmare, as I recall, was bright lemon yellow. You needed sunglasses to safely look straight at it. There should have been a warning label attached to it. The citrusy monstrosity was accessorized with a matching hat that would also have served nicely as a landing pad for a B52. Huge and floppy, it was made even more gaudy, if possible, by the addition of long yellow ribbons that draped down the back. It would have done Scarlett O’Hara proud. I spent most of my march down the aisle trying to see past the brim to keep my bearings so I could find the rest of the wedding party when I got to the front of the church. The dress itself had a satin sash and was embellished with what appeared to be shower poofs attached to the upper sleeves. Yup, guaranteed I’m wearing that out again, most probably on my next trip to Raley’s to pick up a gallon of milk. The dresses for Mike’s wedding were to be red. The wedding was in late November so the color ideally suited the holidays which were in full swing. Actually, they were less awful than the previous contenders, but still I never put mine on my body again after the vows were said and done.

Once I had accepted the invitation to participate in Mike’s wedding, the fun had just begun. The ceremony would be a full Catholic mass with the church filled to capacity. Following the nuptials, the reception was to be held at a large upscale venue replete with all the trimmings including a sit down dinner for the three hundred guests expected to attend. God knows what all this was costing her poor father, but I’m sure with three girls to marry off he probably went into debt by the time the third one said “I do”. To make matters worse, Mike and her prince divorced ten years later so it was a great send off but lacked a flashy finish. At the time, I lived in the Bay Area with the bride still residing in Southern California where we had gone to school together. The real estate in between us presented some logical problems with me managing a full-time job and two little ones. I flew down for several showers, and a weekend of cake tasting and floral shop hopping. After that, my presence was not required again until the night of the rehearsal dinner. All the plane tickets for the three out-of-area attendants were also picked up by Mike’s poor dad, who never complained, God bless him. He was a lovely man who died in his early fifties, probably from stress or impending bankruptcy.

After some discussion, it was decided I would attend the wedding without my husband. Not a big fan of weddings, he preferred to opt out and stay home to play Mr. Mom to our two rug rats. Trying to manage the two of them for several hours in a church probably wasn’t an assignment he was interested in signing up for anyway, and it was, after all, football season.

On the day of the wedding rehearsal I arrived at the San Francisco airport early in the day to give me ample time to catch my mid-afternoon flight. It was a rainy, blustery day, and I wanted to be sure I didn’t run into trouble on the road and miss my plane. As it turned out, once inside the terminal I discovered the plane had been delayed due to poor visibility. Sigh. In those days there were no cell phones (I know!) so I schlepped over to a pay phone, deposited the requested amount of change, and let Mike know I would be late. As it turned out my mid-afternoon flight turned into more of an early evening flight. By the time I arrived at the Ontario Airport I had already missed the rehearsal dinner, and dinner in general. Exhausted from trying to find one comfortable spot on the terminal seating (news flash, this spot is an illusion), I rented a car, checked into my hotel, and folded myself neatly on top of the bed. Mike called after the rehearsal dinner to make sure I was live and in person and advise me someone would be picking up at the hotel early in the morning so I could spend some time with the wedding planner discussing my part in the ceremony before the show went on the road. K.

Arranging a wake-up call for 6:30, I showered, put on my make up, fixed my hair and stopped for a bite to eat before meeting Mike’s sister, Marie outside the hotel at 8:00. On the way to the church, Marie filled me in on what I had missed. It seemed in a high mass the maid of honor has some work to do. Goody. The wedding planner was going to walk me through where I was to be and what my duties were during the ceremony and before I gave my speech. Speech? Que es speech? Nobody said anything about a speech. Both the best man and myself were going to be expected to step up to the podium and deliver a three minute speech about marriage. Swell. I was twenty-two what did I know about marriage? I had barely scraped the surface about life. Good Lord. My knees were already knocking as we pulled up to the enormous Catholic church where the goings on were in full swing.

Mike, normally rock solid, was a puddle of nerves by the time I got to the back of the church where everyone was getting dressed. One of the bridesmaids, a friend from school now living out of state, had neglected to mention she was pregnant and unmarried, before saying she would be happy to be part of Mike’s big day. Though not in full bloom, there was definitely no doubt about her condition, and in the red dress it made quite statement. It was decided to add flowers to our bouquets last minute to hide what we could of her “bulge”.

The wedding planner grabbed me once I was dressed and took me out into the church to walk me through my paces. I hoped there wasn’t a test on this later, because I was quite sure I would fail. At one point I was to hand my flowers to the attendant next to me, lift up my skirt so as not to trip while ascending the four stairs to the podium, and deliver a pre-written speech. Thank God it was pre-written. Had I had to sum up marriage at that age, it would have been a very short speech.

Somehow we made it down the aisle. The ceremony seemed to last for days. Finally, my cue came to step up to the podium. Handing my flowers to the girl next to me I held my skirt up slightly as instructed and made my way successfully up to the third step. On the fourth my heel caught and I performed an ungraceful half gainer across the floor nearly falling on my face. The small ringed hat and veil perched atop my head moved forward nearly obscuring my view. Gathering myself up, and reseating my hat and my dignity I proceeded to the podium. Looking out over the sea of faces, I suddenly needed to use the restroom. Calming myself, I somehow opened my mouth and said what needed to be said and made it back to my appointed spot at the altar without leaving a trail of urine on the way. My mom, in the audience, said she would never have known I was nervous. That, I say, was definitely a miracle.

I had one large wedding out of four. Never sorry I did that. That day remains very special to me. We didn’t pull out all the stops. The reception was held in my parent’s back yard with around 100 people attending. I bought my own dress and paid for the invitations. The honeymoon was a gift from the groom and my parents paid for the rest. Nothing over the top but a special day nonetheless with few scary moments beyond making such a huge commitment at such a tender age.

A therapist once told me when facing a scary situation ask yourself “what is the worst thing that could happen”? This bit of advice has been very handy in a life filled with strange and unusual happenings. In the case of the wedding the worst thing was that I tripped and was embarrassed. My mum used to say I could walk into an empty room and find something to fall over. We each have our crosses to bear, mine is I tend to move before I think. By the time we reached the reception nobody but myself remembered what had occurred. Once there, I too forgot about it and enjoyed the people and the delicious food. Life passes by in an instant. Sweat the big stuff and laugh at yourself over the small.

Nowadays we do not want to concentrate on what is the worst thing that could happen because it seems to be happening all around us. Guess the best we can do is be positive and creative and try to stay vigilant.

Happy Halloween. One of my favorite holidays. Stay safe, have fun, eat lots of candy and remember to say “I love you” to those special people.

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As Halloween approaches, or 2020’s version of it, my thoughts turn to ghosts and goblins. Trick or treating is being discouraged for obvious reasons this year. Humans beings , however, are innovative creatures. Several creative ideas have been floating around the Net on how to safely get candy to the door ringers even in this Covid driven environment. I have seen chutes, tubes, and one person even had some sort of air gun that propels the candy into the air hopefully to be caught up in Dracula’s cape or captured midair by a tiny superhero. It’s so sad to me to watch Halloween seem to fade off the calendar as the years go by. Before Covid people had already become leery of the holiday, afraid to allow their little ones out on the street lest they get abducted or arrive home with candy laced with drugs or stuffed with razor blades. Out of this fear, evolved something called Trunk or Treat. Really? The Readers Digest version of this event, is a bunch of cars lined up in a parking lot with their trunks open with candy inside. Costumed children then go from one car to the next yelling “trick or treat”. The trick here is convincing these kids they are having fun. As a kid I would have signed up for my mom to confiscate all my candy and substitute homemade cupcakes or candy apples from her kitchen to be let out Halloween night. I would even have done dishes for a week (at 10 that was huge), to convince her to allow me to participate in the goose bump generating experience of racing up to a shadowed doorway shrouded in cobwebs to ask for treats. Anything would seem preferable to standing at somebody’s BMW trunk and being handed a Milky Way. Brings to mind B.B. King’s famous song, “The Thrill is Gone”, a personal favorite.

Truth be said sometimes I feel the thrill is gone out of a lot of activities, and not only because this damnable virus is on the rampage. A lot of things I used to really enjoy have lost their luster due to all the massive information coming our way 24 hours a day via our devices and TV sets. As I have said many times, though I appreciate the benefits of having all this data at my fingertips, there is a high price to be paid for it. We used to seep blissfully in our tea of ignorance. Statistically we’re living longer, but are we having more fun? I wonder.

Such a contentious time in our history. If you watched the recent vote in the confirmation of our latest supreme court judge, it is hard to deny we are a severely divided nation. Last weekend pick up trucks barreled past me on the highway, huge American flags wafting in their truck beds and “Make America Great Again” stickers plastered on their bumpers. I believe we are all Americans (oh except me, I’m Canadian but proudly live in America) and the flag should carry equal weight whichever political affiliation you happen to identify with. This is still the United States, yes, not THEM and US? The American flag does not stand as a symbol for any one group to my mind other than Americans, unless they’ve recently passed a law to cover that as well. The same as what is revealed by a huge rip in the butt of a pair of old jeans, our back side is showing, and it is not a good look for us. Life used to feel more solid and secure then it does of late, and I for one don’t like the shift in the wind.

Halloween is yet another casualty of a year marked by illness, fear, anger, righteousness and indignation. In spite of the danger of infection, it is encouraging the number of people showing up at the polling centers to cast their ballots in the upcoming election. If nothing else, it shows people are passionate about who wins. I believe this lack of apathy is critically important to the health of this country as well as our personal health as we turn the page onto 2021.

My birthday, as I mentioned in my previous blog, is also coming up on November 1st. I have made a wish list of sorts. What I would like for my birthday this year is for the dust to settle for a while. I would love to see a good dosing of heavy rain fall over the coming winter months to fill our reservoirs and soak the dry and scorched land here in California where climate changes have revved the dial up to HOT turning our forests into raging firestorms. For a three week span, I want PG&E to not shut off the power, and lastly I would love to go out to dinner with all my dear friends and enjoy a meal at a nice restaurant and give each of them around the table a huge hug. I can’t have my wishes this year, but I am holding out for next year with undaunted optimism.

On a lighter note, I am going to visit my mom at her board and care as I do every Saturday. This year as it happens, Halloween also falls on Saturday. Yay. My daughter and I are going to paint our faces and pull on a crazy wig and sit in the garden and enjoy a piece of carrot cake with her sitting on the other side of her window with the other inmates. Sort of a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for the geriatric set. Truly, the best birthday present I could ask for, is having her still here to share my day with me.

My cobwebs are strung, my pumpkins carved, and I am ready to greet all hallows eve. The origins of the holiday date back to a Celtic holiday called Samhain. Samhain, marked summers transition into winter. This was a time, so they believed, the dead circulated among the living. Participants lit bonfires to help the dead transcend to the world beyond.

The undead and haunting are such compelling topics. Zombies capture the attention of movie goers and television viewers alike. There are so many unanswered questions in our world. Even after populating the earth for so many centuries, what lies in the abyss between death and the afterlife continues to captivate every culture and generation. Are there spirits who cannot move on? Many people believe there are. As always, I am open to all lines of thought. No one actually knows, unless I’ve missed something, so all options are still open for debate.

Back in the 70’s, I dated a man named Dave. After about six months of seeing each other, Dave bought a house in Whittier, California. If this house was not haunted, then one would have to describe it at the very least as just plain peculiar. The house itself was an unimposing single story home. According to paperwork, it had been built in the mid 1930’s. There were three bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, kitchen, and a bonus room that seemed to be an afterthought, attached by one wall to the living room. In addition to the usual list of rooms, there was a wine cellar located beneath the kitchen, accessible by drop down wooden stairs bolted to a trap door in the floor.

The day I was helping him move in, three former tenants stopped by to retrieve the last of their patio furniture. All three men were students at Whittier College. Before saying their goodbyes, they told us to watch out for the ghost in the house sharing stories of lights turning on, a cold feeling in the bonus room, and footsteps at night. Additionally, they said the original owner had died in house. According to them, the elderly woman was found at the base of the stairs in the wine cellar, her neck broken. Both of us laughed saying, “college kids, right”, and dismissed the conversation from our minds.

As a housewarming gift, I bought Dave a golden retriever puppy who would come to be called Max. Max and Dave became fast friends. After the two settled in, I was invited over for a weekend. Before I accepted, Dave said he had something to talk to me about. Okay. As he told it, odd things had been happening in the house once the sun went down. Ach. On several nights the lights turned off before he went to bed, were on again when he woke up in the morning. Also, one night he swore he heard someone walking across the hardwood floor in the living room. On investigating, though the room appeared empty, a sort of flowery fragrance floated in the air. Exit stage right.

Even with the creepy stories, I decided to accept his invitation. The first night passed uneventfully. Dave, Max and I slept uninterrupted and woke up to share a lovely day at the park and a barbecue in the beautifully landscaped backyard. The second night proved far more hair raising. About 2 a.m. I awoke to find Max at the foot of the bed, en pointe, growling at the open door. The light in the living room, off when we had gone to bed, was now shining a beam of light across the threshold to the bedroom. Watching in fascination, a shadow moved subtlely across the beam. “Mama.” Dave, sleeping still, jerked awake as Max began to bark loudly jumping off the bed and tearing out the door. Getting up, Dave and I walked in unison into the living room to find the light on, nobody evident, and all the items on the coffee table rearranged in a circle. Insert goosebumps here. Go ahead, insert them.

I continued dating Dave for another six months, but invited him to stay at my house if an overnight get together was in the offing. Though I appreciate a good ghost story, I don’t want to play one of the lead roles. How he stayed there I don’t know. The bonus room, in spite of a vent pumping in warm air, never heated up in the winter months. You could have hung a side of beef in there without ever having it turn bad. Lights went on and off, things were moved, and footsteps could be heard pacing at night. No, Baby. Not for this girl. Thank you very much.

Sooooooo, I wish you a spooky All Hallows Eve. Since you can’t go out, make a game out of it for the kids at home. My two and I used to make a tent out of a card table and blankets and tell spooky stories with flashlights under our chins.

Vote, vote, vote. This next week should be an interesting one. Have a good and safe day.

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Last night I packed a bag and went to the sleep center for a sleep study. According to my doctor, the results of the original in-home test I had taken a while back revealed my oxygen level dropping below normal levels for an extended period of time while I slept. This, it seems, is not a good thing.

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The staff at the center where I checked in for the evening were very accommodating. We “sleepers” were asked all the usual COVID related questions, then taken in one at a time from the parking lot to our rooms to await being hooked up to our monitoring equipment. Once fully connected, it was back to our rooms to enjoy a little cable TV or read until lights out where the actual observation begins. Amazingly, with electrodes attached to everything including my fingertips, I managed to log about seven hours sleep which is better than I often accomplish at home. Have to admit the beds were comfortable, and the rooms welcoming, so I didn’t let a little wiring and gear get in the way of some much needed beauty sleep. Opening my eyes around 5 a.m. I was immediately greeted by a voice on the monitor asking if I wanted to be unplugged “Yes, please.” I took a picture for posterity with all the equipment attached, but in the end, it seems even I have my pride, so I’m posting the above gentleman’s instead. On the catch and release program, I was set free at 5:30. My head looked like a Jackson Pollock of goo and hair giving me the look of an extra from Ghostbusters. Driving the half an hour drive home, I was so glad it was pitch dark and I made it home without getting pulled over. It if was illegal to get a ticket for being a hot mess in public, I definitely would have been given a citation.

The results are not in yet, but I have an inkling there is probably a CPAP lurking somewhere in my future. If that’s the worst thing I have to deal with, I will be doing all right. Thankfully, for the most part I am am blessed with good health. My mother, I believe, was kind enough to pass on some of her excellent genes. I’m counting on this as I begin to take a deep dive into my golden years. Even though my engine seems to still be in tip-top shape, and the chassis, though sitting a bit lower than it used to, isn’t too bad for it’s age, a problem or two has been popping up from time to time with the parts. Guess this is to be expected as the vehicle begins to show some significant mileage on it.

The idea of having someone observing me while I slept felt a bit “peep showish” to me. I’m quite sure they don’t staff their facility with lascivious voyeurs, nonetheless, we humans are at our most vulnerable when at rest so it makes you feel a bit exposed. Also, since I’ve never watched myself sleep, I wasn’t sure what new and exciting experiences I might bring to the table while under the spell of Morpheus. I do know when I sleep I am very active. Rick told me I often “breached” in the middle of the night, apparently the reference being a nod to whales. Thank you. This breaching, according to his account of it, involved me levitating my entire body in the air then rotating as one might do if flipping a pancake in a frying pan. Interesting. I’m sure that must have been a treat when he was trying to get some sleep. Also, I am a known cover stealer, rolling myself up in the blankets like a hot dog tucked in a croissant then resisting mightily if asked to give half back. Sorry.

On the flip side of the coin, Rick snored. This is a polite description of the noises he made while sleeping, restraint given only out of love for the man. There were times when I believed he would surely suck the draperies into his lungs, and even was concerned the cat might be in danger of being dragged into the gaping maw should she happen to wander by his open mouth during the night. For those of you who sleep with a loud snorer, you know exactly from whence I speak. What saved us, was I go to bed early and wake up early, where he was a creature of the night and went to bed a couple of hours before I was pouring my first cup of coffee for the day. So each of us only had to put up with the other’s idiosyncrasies for brief periods of time.

In 2002 we traveled to Europe for three weeks. Rick’s mother, Labiba, made her home in Paris for thirty years. While visiting, we stayed with her and ET, her Cairn terrier, in her lovely apartment. Even though she was born in Cairo, Paris held her heart. It was easy to see how she carried on a love affair with the city. While there, we packed in as many of the sights as we could, availing ourselves most days of the excellent public transportation system available in Paris. Driving, I have to say, was a bit stickier. Parisiennes, drive like Bostonians. This is not by way of a compliment. Drivers in both cities propel their vehicles along weaving in and out of lanes with their middle fingers up and their mouths set on rapid fire. In Boston, crossing the street always reminded me of those arcade games where the ducks moved along a conveyor belt while a customer tried to knock them down. Drivers in Boston follow much the same policy. The moment a pedestrian places a foot in the crosswalk, a green dot appears on their forehead and they’re fair game. Behind the wheel there isn’t much better. Once I got stuck in the inside lane of a rotary (they are fond of them) during rush hour when first in the state. I believe I celebrated a birthday before a driver finally left me enough room to move into an outside lane so I could exit on the other side.

After two weeks in Paris and one in London, we reluctantly boarded our plane at Orly Airport for the long trip home. Exhausted and with eight hours air travel before landing in New York, Rick decided to take a nap. The flight attendant suggested he might be more comfortable lying across the very back row of the coach section, as no one had purchased tickets to those seats. I remained in our assigned seats several rows up over the wing in the middle of the plane. Rick settled himself in. Before long the dulcet tones of his snoring rose above the typical sounds one would expect in an airline cabin to such an extent people began craning their necks or kneeling on their seats to see who had allowed a flock of Canada geese to board the plane. After sleeping for about an hour, he awoke refreshed to hear the entire group of coach passengers clapping in unison that his eyes were at last open and his mouth shut. Cringe. On arriving home, he set up an appointment with his doctor and after a sleep test a CPap was ordered. Peace once again descended over our humble home.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if we unveiled all our little secrets and personality quirks during our first dates? Most probably this would result in the world population diminishing by half. If we achieved the same comfortability with our bodily noises and functions that we have after being together for a long time during our initial meetings, there might never be a second meeting for any perspective couple. Better, I say, to ease into these little nuances of personality over a period of time rather than pour the whole can of wriggly worms out on the table and scare a possible bite away from the bait.

My mind turns to dating and personality quirks because I have been casually seeing a man I met in my grief group. It’s been over two years since Rick passed away. The last thing I was interested in was developing a new relationship, yet here I am doing exactly that. I’m not wading into deep water any time soon, but rather doing more of a gentle toe tapping on the surface to see what the temperature feels like. You can’t just go out and find another person and neatly slip him or her into the slot left empty by a loved one dying. However, you can create a new and different slot with unique edges and dimensions for a new person to insert themselves in.

As always, I am open to whatever life brings along, even though I may not necessarily continue in that direction once I’ve taken a long look at it. However, hopefully, I will always be curious enough and adventurous enough to explore the options presented to me, or better yet, create my own new options to explore.

As the days pass and we get to know each other, we sort of peel back the layers of the onion and look at what the next layer brings. When you have lived alone for awhile and are moving along the age chart, I think you become more “set” in your ways. For me, having someone who was messy wouldn’t sit well with me, nor a person who shares little common interests with me. With the political world becoming so contentious, I would prefer to get to know a man with like political affiliations or at least one willing to look at both sides of the coin and engage in an open discussion about the differences. Most people older than thirty are likely carrying some baggage along with them. My life, for example, is populated with children and grandchildren, friends, and activities. Whoever decides to walk along side of me, should anyone do so, would have to embrace these loved ones or at the very least be pleasant to them and that would hold the same for me.

For some people their exes would still be lingering on the periphery as well. This true particularly if they had children together, though in my case this it is not as my first husband has been gone a long time. As long as I don’t have to have the exes over for dinner every Sunday, or they don’t feel the need to remind me incessantly who had possession of the gentlemen in question first, I am totally fine to accept whoever comes along with the package.

As always life is interesting. This year it is beyond interesting being more along the lines of perplexing, difficult, unruly and a host of other adjectives that would still leave the description wanting. Just hard to get around everything going on in our world. I work at keeping my chin up, as well as my spirits. Every day I connect with friends, take a walk, look up something new and try to learn from it, keep pumping up my joy wherever I can.

Have a great Thursday. Stay safe.

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When Rick was alive he took care of all what I call the “guy things” in our relationship. Such things as car maintenance, insurance, even negotiating which cable channel was offering the best deal. He taught me to watch for offers on my credit cards so I could move any balances carrying interest rates over to my accounts offering 0 interest deals. Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve been on my own before, but no one had ever taken the time to actually teach me the little nuances of money management before Rick arrived on the scene.

Mother was always a hard worker and very responsible when it came to holding down a job. However, her penchant for shopping made it so sometimes more money went out the door than rolled back in. I would say going to the mall was Mother’s Achille’s heel. Many times I can remember her arriving home after a day of shopping and storing her ill gotten gains in my closet until my stepfather was safely out of the house. The new clothes, if noticed, would be sloughed off as “this old thing” or “don’t you remember I wore that to Patty’s barbecue last week”? My stepfather was a pretty good drinker, so for him to even notice a new blouse or an unfamiliar pair of pants it would have been through a pretty hazy lens.

The experts say traits can be passed down from one generation to the next, so it’s no surprise I also enjoy a good day in the stores. A successful day of shopping is something I sorely miss at the moment. With long lines, customer limits inside stores, and Covid bouncing about, it’s sort of taken the thrill of the chase out of it. The big difference between mother and I, is she enjoyed shopping at high end stores where I prefer a good bargain. Home Goods, for those of you familiar with the chain, is a home decor discount store with high end goods at discount prices. I could pitch a tent in their kitchen department and live out my days happily there.

Mother had personal shoppers at tony stores such as Nordstrom’s. These shoppers spent their days selecting clothing for their well-to-do clientele then alerting them of the goodies awaiting their review. Whew. I prefer the concept of getting four pairs of jeans for $125 rather than one pair of designer yoga pants for the same cash layout. Just the way I am.

Once I was in a dressing room at one of the more expensive stores. I asked, Sherri (with an “i”), the salesperson who had shown me to a dressing room, where the drinking fountain was. She peered over her glasses at me as if I’d asked if she minded if I relieved myself on the dressing room floor. In the snap of a pair of well manicured fingers, a glass of ice water with a lovely slice of lemon floating on top arrived on a tray at my dressing room. Thank you. There was another customer shopping in an adjacent dressing room. The woman was of large proportions, and having difficultly finding a flattering dress for an upcoming wedding. Not that I knew her in the least, we had met briefly at the large full-length mirror at the end of the bank of rooms, but she had shared her dilemma. Sherri with an I, however, was on the move. Several armloads of prospective outfits had come and gone as the woman continued her search. At one point, I emerged in something I was trying on to find both ladies standing in front of the mirror. The customer was wearing a large floral print dress so tight it looked like a sausage casing. The pink cabbage rose print was draped over a light pink lining and the whole thing was a visual disaster which did absolutely nothing for the woman beneath it. Sherri was flitting around this lady like a butterfly around milkweed. “Oh, this is soooooo you”!! Couldn’t believe it. She was actually encouraging this poor woman to be seen in public in this thing. The pattern reminded of something I’d seen on a couch in my piano teachers parlor. After Sherri left to gather accessories, the lady looked at me and raised one eyebrow. I shook my head quietly from left to right. Giving me a thumbs up she headed back to her fitting room and exited with nothing her hands the same time I did. Sorry, Sherri, I just couldn’t do it.

Used to be when you walked into Nordstroms, after adjusting your nasal passages to welcome the onslaught of designer fragrances and top drawer makeup, a pianist was seated at the baby grand for your listening pleasure. I read somewhere they put men’s clothes and shoes at the doors, because men are generally not the avid shoppers we women are so they want to catch them before they lose patience and walk out of the doors. Often I have seen the poor husbands seated on the padded benches outside of the dressing rooms holding their wives handbags in their laps. Waiting obediently for the next unveiling of whatever their other halves were trying on. Always felt a bit sorry for these men. From their shared expression of misery I would guess they had just about any other activity they’d rather have been engaged in than that.

When living in Boston a friend invited me to go shopping at a sale at Filene’s Basement. It was the lesser priced sister store of Filene’s, sort of an early relative of Nordtrom’s Loft. Having no idea what I had signed up for, I met her on a chilly morning outside the store’s doors at what seemed like the middle of the night. Apparently one had to get there early to get the bargains. OK. By the time the sun had fully assumed it’s position in the sky women, and some men were piling up behind us. When the store clerk finally opened the doors at the allotted time, it was a free for all. At first, I thought the headlines would simply read, “Small Blonde Woman Crushed to Death at Filene’s Holiday Sale”. Somehow, instead I was moved forward like a Tsunami pushing debris to the middle of the room, where the real mayhem ensued. People were grabbing clothes piled on tables, one lady literally tearing out an item I was holding in my hand. No dressing rooms were open for the event. With no place to change, shoppers were actually undressing the aisles to try on clothing, some perhap having less esprit libre, simply pulled a garment over the clothes they were wearing to check for sizing. It was insane. While attempting to find something I couldn’t live without to make the trip worthwhile, I noticed one woman eyeing the blouse I had on. “Forget about it lady. I just bought it and I’ll go to the mat for it”. Have to say it was an experience I have never forgotten.

My mom loved all clothing, but she carried on a particularly passionate love affair with her footware. Sorry, Mama, I’m letting this one out of the closet. Nothing of poor quality ever covered those lovely toes. Once I counted sixty-five boxes of shoes lined up across her closet shelf. When I accompanied her to her favorite shoe establishments she was always greeted by name, and the sales staff seemed to magically know what would be her pleasure in the selection they had available. Good going Mom.

When I was little, I believed my mother to be a fairy princess. I cannot remember her ever looking poorly pulled together or unkempt. Even when she had surgery she managed to look like she was receiving the Queen when I visited her in the recovery room.

Mother was a widow at twenty-seven. After about three years without companionship, she slowly slipped back into the dating pool. Being a lovely young woman from a prominent family, her dance card was nearly always full. When dressing for a date or a function her room would be a hub of activity. Discarded dresses would be strewn across the bed, and mother would be flitting about smelling seductively of dusting powder and Narcisse N’oir, her scent of choice. A small stool was made available to me at such times. Mother would be seated at her vanity getting ready to go out, or “putting her face on”, as she liked to say. Fascinated, I would sit and watch as she pulled the sterling silver brush through her long brown hair catching it up with a clip or letting it cascade down her back. I would mimic the way she pursed her lips in just her way to apply color to her lips. Often, when I could get away with it, after she went out I would sneak in her closet and stand on the footstool leaning against the side wall. Slipping a pair of heels out of one of the boxes, I would waddle awkwardly around her bedroom stopping at her dresser to dab a little perfume behind one ear as I’d so often seen my mother do. A shawl thrown across one shoulder, I would pretend to be off to the ball at the castle to dance the night away with the prince.

Funny how I can remember those times as clearly now as if I was pulling my chubby legs up to perch on top of my little stool right this moment. I’ve never thought of it before, but though she didn’t always provide guidance when it came to the practical side of life (truth was women weren’t supposed to bother their pretty heads with all that back in her day), in a way she was teaching me to be a woman. I have to say that’s something she’s always excelled at.

Black Friday and other major holiday shopping days are on the calendar for the on-line shopper to pounce on some great mark down items to fill their holiday lists. I’m looking forward to that myself although I make it a habit not to go into debt for Christmas anymore. Instead I do what I can afford and try to make memories with my family and enjoy a delicious meal. Don’t know how this year is going to look when it comes to family gatherings. Like everything else in 2020 I’m sure it will be one for the record books.

We women are powerful beings, often discounted because of our size or physical prowess. Every day I am thankful to have had pink blankets on my layette and wouldn’t trade my gender for an instant. In this upcoming election I believe women will be the ones carrying the baton over the finish line. Makes me proud to be counted among them. Thankful too, if I might pause for a moment, that my mama is still here with me every day that I have her. Even with the dementia creeping across her thoughts she still notices if I have a spot on my pants or a button missing on my blouse, or God forbid I’m wearing bad shoes. Some things never change. I hope she lives to be 115 and never misses a step with those lovely feet.

Vote ladies, vote everyone. I believe this election will be pivotal in our history and it is important we are all a part of it.

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