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This past week I visited my old friend, Sam (short for Saelitha), living in beautiful Independence, Oregon. I arrived Monday morning by air to bitter cold, rainy weather. Once she gathered my shivering body from in front of the baggage claim, it was an hour and a half drive from the Portland Airport to Independence. There wasn’t much to see along the way, except the steady onslaught of rain sliding down outside the car windows. However, by Tuesday, the clouds had cleared, providing me with a lovely, if chilly, glimpse of the countryside around me. I had forgotten, not having been in this area for twenty-five plus years, how much the northwest has to offer.

My friend has a lovely cozy little two bedroom apartment butting up against the Willamette River. Like my little house, hers is the perfect nest for one. Add an additional body, things begin to feel a bit tighter. I think of it sort of like wearing heavy wool socks under your boots in the winter. Without the socks, your boots fit just right. But once the addition of the socks are in place, the boots start to feel a little more cramped. Also, like my house, her second bedroom serves as a craft and pseudo office area. The original plan for my stay, was for me to sleep on the queen sized blow up mattress she had laid out on the floor in the second bedroom. Perfect. Being an old camper, and a bit of a nomad, I have slept on, and rolled off, many such beds in my life, so am familiar with the process.

Before it was time to turn in, we used the automatic pump to inflate the mattress, then made up the bed. About an hour after I dozed off, I woke up to find my backside resting on the hard floor. Now granted, this mattress was easily reinflated, but if the air didn’t remain inside the mattress, having the automatic inflation feature really wouldn’t prove much of an advantage. This reminded me of a time with my ex-husband. We had moved from West Virginia to Southern California. Our furniture was stored six plus states away. According to the moving and storage, they were backed up with summer moves and it was going to take six weeks for our household goods to catch up with us. In the interim, we borrowed a blow up mattress from a friend to see us through. The loaner wasn’t of the convenient variety that inflates itself, but rather one you had to manually pump. As we were displaced, so were our animals. Used to sleeping at the end of the bed, once the mattress was on the floor, the cat took this as her invitation to hop on board and make herself at home. Kitty (sadly her actual name) was a kneader. I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you that large plastic balloons filled with air and sharp cats claws do not a happy match make. By about 2:30 each night, our bodies would reach floor level. A half an hour’s pumping later we were back in business til the following morning when the second batch of air would have completely escaped. At one point, I suggested we just sleep on the floor and call it good, but he wasn’t hearing of it. Oh no. I have never been so happy to see a moving truck as I was that one when that one finally pulled in our driveway with our king sized bed housed inside. OMG.

Back at my friends in Oregon, we tried twice to fill the mattress. Both times, my backside was flat on the floor within the hour. Obviously, there was a leak somewhere. I inspected the mattress, as well as the box it came in. As I suspected, a hole had been chewed in both. Whenever you store anything in the attic, you run the the risk a resident rodent might find it interesting during its time there. My son had his entire herd of lighted lawn reindeer totally destroyed by rodents. There was nothing but hooves and snouts left by the time the rats got through with them. Realizing that the original sleeping arrangement wasn’t going to work, we tried Plan B settling me in on the love seat in the living room. The long legs my mother passed on to me, though perfectly suited for taking lovely long strides while out for a brisk walk, were not much good when left to dangle limply over the end of the small loveseat until all the feeling had drained out of them. Nope, Plan B scrapped, it was on to Plan C. Plan C was to be two peas in a pod in her bed, with a plus one. The plus one, a Lhasa Apso answering to the name of Pepper. All good. Boo sleeps with me at home so I am not unaware of what pet cohabitation looks like. Sleeping with a pet can have it’s downside at times. Boo, for whatever reason, seems to get pleasure out of licking the back of my head while I sleep. I know. I looked it up and apparently that is the cat’s way of showing their human they are accepted as part of their tribe. Nice. In this case, neither of the two legged occupants snored, cuddled, or fought for control of the covers, so we cohabited well. The dog, however, I have to report, was a bit of a bed hog. At one point he slept in between us with his back pressed against mine and his paws stretched out against her.

Sleeping arrangements settled, we turned our attention to making plans for the limited time I would be staying with her. The next day, with a full agenda of places we wanted to visit, we decided we had better gas up first before getting on the road. Pulling up next to a bank of pumps, a man quickly approached the drivers side window. After a brief exchange with my friend, he left. Curious, I asked what he wanted. Turns out he was asking about filling her tank. I had forgotten in Oregon it is still illegal to pump your own gas. Wow, haven’t seen that in like, forever. Remember the really old days when a man in a neatly pressed uniform and ball cap bounded out to your car at a full serve station and, well, served you? I KNOW! He would check your water, oil, fluids, tires, wash your windows, AND fill your tank. Good Lord, what were they thinking actually providing service at what is called, yes, say it, a Service Station. Perhaps that is why they mainly refer to them as gas stations rather than service stations these days, because gas is really all they provide. What a great law to have on the books though, making it illegal to pump your own gas. California could use some fun legislation like that. Laws like, say, making it illegal to work on Friday or every month with an “A” in it must include at least one week of paid vacation time. Let’s put the fun back in politics. I don’t know about you, but it’s certainly lost it’s appeal for me lately the way things stand now in the political arena. The gas pump attendant told us Oregonians would most likely only enjoy a couple more years of this privilege before it disappears. Apparently only three states still have such a law on the books. We humans really know how to put the buzz in buzz kill.

Once we got out into the countryside I was immediately impressed with how verdant everything is in Oregon. I’d almost forgotten what a long expanse of green grass looks like. Fall was really showing it’s colors in the area. At times, the hues on the trees were so vibrant they nearly took my breath away. Along with the glorious fall plumage there were so many farms. Farming is a big part of the areas culture. One beautifully maintained farmhouse after another caught my eye as we drove along the backroads. I have always wondered what life would have been like had I chosen to be a farmers wife. Living in the suburbs of Southern California where I spent my teenage years, surfers were plentiful, and golden haired six pack bearing jocks, but there weren’t many farmers navigating the dating pool I was swimming in. The closest I got to experiencing farm life as an adult, was during the two weeks I spent on the cattle ranch in Manitoba. As glorious a time as I had while there, driving tractors along rutted fields and herding cows, I don’t know if I’d want to sign on full time. I straddle the fence, I think, between being a city girl and a country girl. I lean more towards less populated areas, avoiding metropolitan cities or bustling suburbs. However, I do like to see my neighbors outside my window and like to have community, so guess I’m a smidgen of one and a dash of the other.

I’m glad to be home again. As always, it is fun to go away, and good to come back full circle again. I’ll tell you about my return visit in my next writing. That was a day for going in the closet with the tequila and the fiery Cheetos I’m telling you. Happy Friday!!

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Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written. A lot of anniversaries have come and gone since I last published a post. Rick passed away four years ago the end of September, Dale a year ago in October. Another rite of passage is my birthday coming up in three days. Needless to say, I’m feeling a bit introspective. Feels like a lot has gone on over the past year and a lot is about to go on in the year ahead. My relationship with Richard continues along at a reasonable pace, for me at least. This, I’m sure, will bring some interesting moments to the screen as time goes on. Also, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticed, life is getting damned expensive. Whew. I’m hoping this next year will provide some relief in that area. Lately I go to the store with $100 and come back with a bag of apples. I bought cat litter last week. Used to be a large bag was $8.99. Now, a smaller bag costs me $13.00. I surely don’t have to explain to anyone what the cat does in this litter. It’s not designer litter for heavens sake. The kitty isn’t relieving herself over a bed of crushed emeralds. She’s spoiled, but we haven’t taken the spoilage to those lengths as yet. Although we go into contract negotiations again for her perks at the first of the year. It’s CAT LITTER. OMG. All this price escalating, I believe, is going to make for a very interesting, most likely life changing, November election. People begin to get really antsy when their bottom line is effected. No matter who has the reins once the dust settles, I think we may well be in trouble in this country. I used to watch the news while I had my coffee in the morning, and tune it in once again at night to see what transpired during the day. I don’t always like what is going on in this world, but I do like to be informed about what it is that is going on. These days I find myself switching the news on, and once I know whether it’s going to hot or cold, switching it right back off. The weather report usually takes all of five minutes. Let’s face it, here in Northern California the temperature ranges from hot, to sort of hot, to a little less hot, and then a bit cool, and cool. When we dip into cold, it’s not cold like the temperatures people in the mid section of the U.S. deal with, or those in the Northwest or Northeast. When I see a rain drop on my TV screen I get close to it first to make sure I simply didn’t splatter water or coffee on it, before I begin to celebrate. Two weeks in a row they have predicted rain on different given days. Thus far I haven’t seen one actual raindrop squeezed out of it.

Today has been an exceptionally LONG day here at work. Some days are like that, while others seem to disappear before I can even hang my jacket up. A country western trio came to play for the residents at “happy hour”. Made me think I might actually go home, if the clock ever winds around to 4:30, and have a cocktail hour of my own. I had about 3 hours of solid work packed into an eight hour day. I asked around in other areas if they had extra work, did some busy work on the computer that was far from urgent, and then tried to look busy the rest of the day. Looking busy is absolutely deadly for me. At one point, I just threw in the towel and played Mah Jong for an hour. I was raised by my mother and grandmother, both worker bees. Sitting idle for long periods of time is not programmed in my DNA. I’m an old honey maker from way back. I’m not sure I’ve ever watched an entire movie from start to finish without getting up at least ten times or, if I do manage to remain seated, falling asleep somewhere along the way. Simply not a good sitter. Funny, I have hooked up with a poor sitter in Richard as well. He and I are quite alike in many ways. Don’t know yet if this will be a plus going forward, or something that could potentially become extremely annoying. The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding. We won’t know til we’ve actually lived with one another most likely, should that ever come to pass. That last statement sends shivers down my spine. I have become accustomed to coming and going as I please, wearing mismatched pajamas to bed, eating cereal and a banana for dinner if the mood moves me, and not putting on makeup or washing my hair on occasion and letting it all hang out. Richard seems to think we should change our status, I disagree. This too, may become a sticking point. Why was it again I said I wanted to get into another relationship? Any input would be appreciated. Sigh.

I grapple at times of late on where I want to go from here. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t been writing as much the past month or so. There’s a lot of thinking going on under this blonde facade, but nothing seems to be exiting the premises. I’m pondering many things. For instance, I am most pleased and thankful I have a job to go to, but can’t help but wonder how long I will be able to sustain these endless long weekend days at work. By the time I get home after an unproductive day, I’m ready for a session with my shrink. Certainly I have had boring days at work over the years before and dealt with it. Perhaps, it’s that I’m getting older. I’m less willing to throw my time up it in the air and waste it, as there is less of it left to waste. If looking at the full cup, rather than the empty one, I could count my blessings and leave it at that. I think when young, we tend to think we have all the time in the world to do the things we wish to accomplish. As there is more time behind us, then there is left ahead of us, this perspective tends to change. Someone told me the other day they admired the fact I was a person who went out and did things. This is not an avenue only available to me, most anyone can avail themselves of it. As I have mentioned, this is my “why not” year and I have said why not to most everything offered to me by way of adventures that wasn’t habit forming or harmful to myself or others. Loved it. Instead of thinking when an idea for an outing is proposed to me, “I’m tired, there is a pile of laundry with my name on it, or the furniture needs dusting”, unless I have an appointment or a previous commitment I try to hop on board and give it a go. Why not? The laundry police aren’t going to arrive at my door and issue me a citation if my sheets don’t get washed until the end of the week. Last I heard they haven’t passed a law against allowing a little dust to accrue on my sideboard, although the way things are going I’d better check on that again after the November elections. There could be one on the books by then. If so, I’ll definitely be in line for a ticket.

The next week or two will not find me gathering much dust either, both literally and figuratively. Halloween is on the calendar Monday, my birthday is on Tuesday (yup officially another year on the books), and then the week follows filled with appointments and activities until it’s back to work again Friday and Saturday. The week after, I’m getting on a plane and going to Oregon to spend a few days with a friend of mine living up around Salem. I’m so excited to be traveling again, even a short hop. Finally, I have all my travel documents in order. It took months to get my passport request filled and my new passport back from the Canadian Embassy. I had given up all hope, assuming there was an embassy employee cavorting on a beach in Cabo with my $400 U.S. dollars out there somewhere, when it finally showed up in my mailbox. When I booked these reservations, I realized I had not stepped foot on a plane since my family reunion in Canada in 2008. Whew. Things have changed a bit. Everything, like everything, is in digital form now. I have to check in on line 24 hours prior to my flight to get my seat assignment and boarding pass. Also luggage is different. It’s not like in the old days where you could pack whatever you wanted to in your bag either. Now, there are regulations mandating how much skin cream you can carry with you, and I was told not to bring hair spray as apparently it is not inconceivable a person could build a bomb in the bottom of the can. They are on to me. That’s what I’m up to on sleepless nights putzing around in my little kitchen. Unless you can pull together something deadly with a pound of broccoli and some lemons, I’m pretty sure I’ll stay off of the 10 Most Wanted List.

Flying really is like taking a bus in the sky anymore. Used to be I loved to fly. It was a sort of spoiled feeling experience. You got movies (free), meals (several choices) – I KNOW, and snacks – STOP IT. Spoiler alert, there actually are packages of pretzels with more than four pretzels inside. Beverages, other than cocktails, were on the house, and really you didn’t pay for anything but the privilege of sitting in your seat once your ticket was purchased. Also, there were travel agents available on every corner of town to help you make your arrangements. I know you are shaking your head and thinking, “YOU ARE TOTALLY PLAYING WITH ME NOW”. These agent’s dedicated jobs were to book your tickets, print your paperwork, book hotels, rental cars or take care of whatever else you needed to make your trip wrinkle free. I often think with the advent of all this amazing technology at our fingertips life got both simpler and more complicated concurrently, if such a thing is possible.

One of the ladies here (the inmates as I affectionately call them), just stopped me to say how glad she was to see me and how much she looked forward to our little conversations at the front desk each weekend. When I wonder what on earth I’m doing here, I find an answer from the universe seems to arrive pretty quickly once the question has been posed.

Well, happy early Halloween. I have bought my $25.00 bag of candy and I am ready for my trick or treaters. I do hope I get some wee bees, or lovely little princesses at my door. They are so cute with their huge eyes and little pumpkin buckets held out expectantly waiting to be filled.

Enjoy your day. Enjoy every day. Talk soon.

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Last week I enjoyed the first vacation I’ve taken in quite a while. Richard was my guide on this road trip. Sunday night he was waiting at my house when I got home from work, and once my copious “gear” was loaded in the trailer, we were on our way. Rolling along I80 our “rig”, as he called it (old truck driver), took up a big chunk of highway. The massive fifth wheel fell in line obediently behind Richard’s truck, and behind that, the boat and trailer bobbed and weaved into view from time to time. Our choice of venues was the mountains, specifically Plumas County in the vicinity of Lake Davis. Richard and I have been dating now for about five months, and are still exploring what it is we like, and what doesn’t fit so well, about one another. This was to be our first trip together, and the most time we have spent in each other’s company. Not sure what that was going to look like, I noticed a few butterflies had taken up residence in my stomach. A reflection, no doubt of that feeling of stepping into the unknown.

I had not been to Plumas County before, or at least as I remembered. The first leg of our adventure took us up I80 towards Tahoe. Then, we cut across the flat expanses of the Sierra Valley, before heading uphill once again at the end of the journey back into the tall trees where Lake Davis was tucked away. As we made our way up, up, up the mountain pass, I was taken in by the beauty of the area. Though burn scars marred the hills in quite a few spots, the forest still remained awe inspiring. All the scenery was lovely to drink in, but it was the sky in particular that continuously held my attention. During the day, the color was the most brilliant shade of blue, with only an occasional white cloud drifting by from time to time to provide a little contrast. Then, when nighttime took over, the sky became an inky backdrop for a million twinkling stars for onlookers to enjoy.

Reaching the top of the hill and passing through the small town of Portola, the lake finally came into view. Other than a few bobbing gulls, there was no one visible on the water. Driving parallel to the lake for a few more minutes, after several more turns in the road it disappeared from view, and before long we arrived at our destination. The campground was named for the mighty grizzly bear, even though the massive animals are not native to that region. Though I needed not to be worried about grizzlies poking their furry noses into my affairs, their brothers and sisters, the brown bears, were definitely to be found lurking about. Signs were posted everywhere warning visitors bears roamed freely and to be prepared by carrying bear spray, and keep them at bay at campsites by disposing of trash in the appropriate bins situated around the parks. The bins were equipped with heavily weighted bars across the top to keep the critters from rooting about for a late night snack in the contents. Though I’m sure we may have had a visitor or two in the night while we slept, I never saw anything more menacing than a chipmunk up close and personal, and was glad to be able to report that. I was told if confronted by a bear, to stand tall, and try to look large and ferocious. Is that all? I’m sure some massive 1,000 lb. bear is going to intimidated by 110 pound me. Somehow, I am not convinced even standing on my tippy, tippy toes and baring (pardon the pun) my teeth, would have any effect on having the beast’s gaping mouth being the last thing I saw before oblivion took the controls. Well, after the bear stopped laughing, of course.

Never having traveled with a fifth wheel before, it was quite an experience watching Richard getting us settled in our spot in the campground. Light was still holding onto the day, but was quickly losing the battle. He worked with an efficiency coming with years of experience, and in no time had the trailer disconnected and leveled. The boat had already been offloaded in the section in the campground designated to store water craft. The trailer situated, there were only the hoses to the water and electrical sources provided with the rental of the campsite that needed to be secured before the trailer was ready to live in. I was more of an impediment then a help, I’m guessing, but Richard was very patient and showed me how things were done and just before the sun pulled up the covers for the day we were set up and ready to go inside. Yay. None too soon for me. I had begun to look about in the creeping shadows to see if I noticed any beady little eyes staring back at me. Since Rick passed away, I’ve been plagued by bear dreams. This brought a bit more reality to those illusions than was in my comfort zone.

Inside the trailer, “slide outs” were moved out to their extended positions. With the flick of a switch, the inside of the trailer moves into position and voila you have a small home on wheels. Love it. In the upstairs area there is a master bedroom with full sized closets, a loo, shower, and sink. In the main salon on the ground floor, there is a dining room table with a leaf, a couch (which makes out into a bed), a recliner (of course), a TV and the kitchen. The kitchen had two sinks, a stove and oven, microwave, and refrigerator freezer. Wow. All the comforts of home. I believe my son would call this “glamping”. Full glamping to my mind wouldn’t involve dishes or cooking, I’m just sayin. Fortunately, because I was exhausted, we had grabbed a sandwich for the road, so none of the equipment needed to be put into use at least for our first night at the campsite. I kept thinking of that old, old movie with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, The Long, Long Trailer”. Really funny movie about traveling with a trailer if you every find it on some ancient TV programming.

Waking up to another gorgeous pre-fall day the following morning, Richard cooked bacon and eggs on the outdoor table top grill while I acquainted myself with the workings of the bathroom inside. The water line on the toilet seemed unusually high, so when he came in I alerted him about it. After looking the patient over, he determined it to have a slow leak. A familiar diagnosis in the over sixty group. It became evident that unless we were to spend our time in the tall trees staring at the toilet bowl to see if it was going to overflow, the water would have to be turned off unless we needed it for a specific task, like washing dishes, showering, or using the toilet itself. No matter how perfect a time you are having, I believe the universe has serious issues with perfection as a concept, so always throws in a little something to keep you on your toes. When speaking to the owner of the campgrounds, as well as the store located at the entrance, about our toilet situation, he told us there were two public bathrooms on the premises should the need arise. Always nice to have a backup.

Looking around, it was obvious a lot of people were there enjoying the area along with us. Nearly every spot had a trailer and equipment set up on it. Oddly though, there weren’t any people evident except Richard and I, and the owner and his wife. Asking where everyone was, we were told that most of the trailers belonged to weekend people who came and went as the mood struck them, and there weren’t any visitors other than ourselves booked until the next weekend. The warmer summer months, and snowy months for ski enthusiasts were the busy seasons, he went on. With fall approaching, and colder days on the horizon, the visitors, he said, would begin to dwindle in numbers. I got the impression there weren’t many people for him to talk to up there other than his wife, because it took about an hour of non-stop conversation, before we could finally back out of the door and escape to go to the lake.

Lake Davis was lovely, though hardly a beehive of activity. Few boats in the water, there were spotty signs of life around the shoreline, and children could be seen playing near the water on the bank across from us. Getting ready to launch the boat, I got out and held the tow line, while Richard backed the boat and trailer down the steep ramp. Up the hill from the launch site two men sat in a truck towing a fishing boat, waiting for us to launch so they could get their day going. Right in the middle of the ramp, our boat slid neatly off the trailer landing with a loud metal bang on the cement. Hmmmmm. Now I’m not an avid fisherman, but I’ve been on a boat many times in my life, owning two. Though admittedly, it’s been awhile since I’ve launched a boat, I don’t believe that is how it is supposed to work. The door on the driver’s seat slowly opened, and Richard stepped out, uttered several unmentionable words, removed his ball cap and scratched his head. The two men in the truck behind us got out as well. All three men stood in a circle shaking their heads and looking at the beached boat. Whoops. Suddenly a woman walked up. The lady was, I’d say, in her seventies, and very buff for her age, or any age. Insinuating herself in the middle of the men, mixing a little estrogen with the testosterone, and surveyed the damage. The men tried several approaches to get the boat back onto the trailer without success. Watching them for a moment, she said she had an idea. She told, or more insisted, Richard get back in the truck and slowly back up. Without hesitation, he did as he was told. I was surprised, actually, but the woman was formidable I’m telling you. As he slowly backed up the lady pulled on the tow line. As he backed up further and further, the boat’s prow rose and rose until it belly flopped forward and was once again situated on the trailer and secured. Go girl power. The woman shook my hand afterwards, and nearly removed my shoulder from the socket. I don’t know what she did to buff up like that but I’d be curious to find out.

Thanking everyone for their help, the band dispersed. The boat got launched at last and we were afloat. Heading out into the center of the lake away from the shore, Richard located “a good fishing spot”(they all looked pretty much the same to me) and slowed to an idle. The fishing gear was retrieved from the back of the boat and Richard loaded up the hooks with the sacrificial worms and some balls of pink “stinky bait” he called it. Slathering ourselves with suntan lotion, we tossed the lines into the water allowing them to troll along beside us. Within ten minutes, I had the first catch of the day on the end of my line and in the cooler, and shortly thereafter Richard added a second fish to the pot. I was enchanted by the site of four pelicans floating along in the water not far from where we were fishing. Every now and again one of them would turn upside down to retrieve something floating about under the surface. Canada geese passed overhead, honking loudly to let us know they were headed north for the winter, and several pairs of loons moved up and down closer to shore. The two fish we caught early on were to be the only takers for the next four hours. When the wind began to blow quite fiercely, we closed up shop and went back to the campsite.

I will write more next time and include some pictures.

Enjoy every moment……they are our most precious commodities.

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I was so restless yesterday. I sat, then I stood, then I walked the house. I had twenty things I should have been doing, and didn’t want to do any of them. Sometimes it’s like that in my world. Perhaps it’s the unsettled energy in the news, or in the people around me, or my own unsettled life that stirs my blood up like that once and a while. For one thing, my eyes opened up at exactly the stroke of midnight and stubbornly refused to close again until around four. I tried all my usual sleep provoking techniques and yet here I sat at the computer typing this rather than snoozing away in my cozy little bedroom down the hall. As I said, restless. I started to wonder as I studied the small water spot on my bedroom ceiling for the second hour, if perhaps this wanderlust coincided with the arrival of my updated passport in the mail last week. I applied for it back at the beginning of the year. Because I was applying through the mail to the Canadian Passport Bureau in Canada, while residing in the U.S. as a permanent resident, did not make the red tape any shorter by any means. Once I took into account the monetary exchange rate, and had to arrange for mailing it a certain type of way, it ended up reducing my bank account by nearly $500. For a while there I was wondering if someone in my native land had simply used the money to finance a nice vacation at the shore, and whether I was ever going to see my updated passport any time in the near or distant future. Thankfully, it finally showed up. As usual, my passport picture looks as if I’d just come down off a two week bender, or was recovering from the bird flu when the photographer snapped the shot, but at least I am almost recognizable on a stamped official document allowing me to travel outside of the United States. Yay.

I don’t know where I might venture as yet, but eventually I will put the shiny new passport to good use. Next year, there are tentative plans in the works for a visit to Italy with a dear friend. As that country is on the top of my bucket list, I have my fingers crossed that trip will actually happen in real time. Also, I want to get to Canada again. It’s been a long time since I’ve set foot on Canadian soil and I have relatives there I’d like to see face to face again.

Concerning a trip of a shorter nature, I am going fishing for trout with my friend Richard on Thursday. I haven’t been fishing since married to my ex husband back in the early 1990’s. My first fishing trip with him was also my first experience casting a line, for fish at least. I found it a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Somewhere in my piles and bags of family photos, there is a picture of me holding up my first “catch”. When reeling it in, I would have sworn the beast would weigh in at the very least at around fifty pounds. Pulling it out of the water, all 5″ of the writhing small mouthed bass hung there at the end of the line looking at me with one bulging fish eye as if to say, “thanks, thanks a lot”. Sorry. It was so small, I felt I should throw it back, but my husband, knowing volumes more about fishing than I, said it would be delicious breaded and fried. There was something about discussing breading and frying in front of the still wriggling fish that made me feel a little bit queezy. Perhaps I don’t have a taste for the kill a good fisherman should have. Have to say my husband was right, however, our catch of the day made for part of a delicious fish feast that evening.

First thing this morning, I went down to the local sporting goods store as Richard directed, to purchase a fishing license. The woman at the front counter took my ID and my $54 and spit spot I was officially licensed in the State of California to “reel em in”. She asked if I wanted the regular license, or any extras. Extras? Wasn’t $54 ridiculous enough. Pa from Little House on the Prairie would be horrified to note we now pay half a hundred and change for fishing for what for what his generation would have been considered fair game. What extras? Apparently the $54 only covers your standard fish. You pay extra, for the special swimmers such as crab. Also, if you cast additional line in the water there is an extra fee for that. For just under $600 you can get a lifetime fishing license. No thank you. Costco has some pretty good deals on trout and they are already fileted and shrink wrapped. Wow.

In order to be able to sit in the boat for an extended period of time, I had to buy a shirt that protects me from UV rays. I’ve been taking a long term antibiotic for a couple of months and my doctor tells me I need to limit my exposure to the sun while on it. Apparently, I could self ignite if left too long without something covering me. Don’t want Richard to have to deal with putting me out, as well as watching his line. I have told him he will have to eviscerate the worm, as that is another thing I’m not crazy about, and I’m sure the worm isn’t on board with the whole program either. Also, he will have to take the hook out of the fish’s mouth, should I by some miracle actually catch something. Basically, looking at how little I’m willing to participate, he could have saved himself some money on the fishing license if he’d just taken me out for fish and chips.

Now Richard is pretty handy in the outdoors. However, my ex husband, David, was a serious outdoorsman, having been brought up in rough and tumble city of Odessa, Texas. If I was to get lost in the woods, David would be my number one choice of companions. Of course, I would want to give him back once we were out of the woods. He would be the guy you see on survival videos scooping grubs out of hollowed out trees to stay alive. I would be the girl standing behind him holding my nose and gagging as he handed me the fat little bug sausages. Several times during our roller coaster marriage, his expertise at angling provided dinner on our table. I appreciate that skill, as it’s not one you see much here in sophisticated California suburbs as a general rule. David was also an expert hunter, able to shoot a deer, field dress it, carve it up appropriately, and prepare the venison once carved as well as any field chef of note. Now, I am not a fan of venison personally. It is a bit “gamey” for my taste. I believe it to be an acquired taste, and one I never acquired. Conversely, I prefer lamb over beef as I was raised on it, while many people find lamb gamey, so it’s a matter of choice. Like most things, food comes down to personal preference. I never criticize what a person chooses for their lifestyle. I like that we are all varied in our likes and dislikes in all things. How boring if we all only ate chicken, or only cared for blondes, or everyone only planted roses, excluding every other flower. What a lack of diversity and interest our world would have.

This swings my mind around to a conversation I had recently with a friend. He was talking to me on the subject of “designer” children. That is children (babies actually) designed in the womb with say, brown hair, blue eyes, male or female depending on desire, and intelligence level. I’m assuming you could also pick out a perfect set of features, or what height or body type. Just can’t stomach the thought of that. How boring that would be. How would that look? Upon getting pregnant would you be handed a menu of choices from which to pick? Let’s see, I’ll have the No. 3 with long red hair and an upturned nose, with a side of freckles? Yuck.

Our world is getting a little too automated for me I think. I probably don’t have another thirty years in the can to ponder it, but it does seem it is getting so when I reflect on it.

I hope you are enjoying your Monday. I am in a cleaning mood so have emptied out cupboards and straightened drawers all day. Along with that project A dear friend of mine who housesat and Boo-sat for me while I was in the Bay Area, planted a myriad of new flowers in all my empty pots. She is a “plant loving lady” who simply can’t stand to see any growing thing suffering from a brownish leaf or drooping branch. My yard, I’m sure, must have proved a challenge to her entire being. Usually, I am very good about my garden, but this year has been too much of too much. I don’t always have time to take care of it like I should, and if I do have time, I don’t seem to want to use it pruning bushes. Also, I am taking allergy shots so often am not supposed to spend too much time outside. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. As much as I appreciate how absolutely lovely my yard looks at the moment, this means I have to take care of these flowers which adds another half hour in the morning to things I have to do before leaving the house. I guess I need to shift into my grateful mode and simply be glad I have flowers to water, eyes to see them with, and a body that allows me to stand on my patio and take care of them. Or, I could be a little annoyed. Looking out my window, I’ve decided grateful is the far happier choice.

End of story for now. Make it a good one. Today is what we’ve got. Fill it full of special and magic.

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Well here we are heading into August. Summer is beginning to wind down once again, meaning fall isn’t far behind. The onset of the autumn months always get my heart to pumping. Fall is most definitely my favorite time of the year, perhaps due to the fact I was a November baby, or I love the sound of crisp leaves crumbling under my boots, the smell of my first pumpkin candle flickering in the window, or rain on the roof. I don’t know, it’s a cozy, pleasant feeling like slipping into a hot tub after a long day.

Yesterday, there was a lot of smoke in the air from the fire burning in the Yosemite area. The giant sequoias have so far escaped injury thanks to the efforts of the fire personnel. I have visited those beautiful trees many times, and my heart would be saddened to see any harm come to them. Fire is so devastating. Often I think of my friends in Paradise, California who lost so much in the Camp Fire in 2018. 85 souls were lost on that day, and so much devastation inflicted on the area. When living in Butte County, I worked in Paradise for nearly four years at the Paradise Post. That building, like most in the town, was burned to the ground. As our temperatures rise, it seems logical the incidence of fires will rise along with it. I try not to worry, because it is such a wasted emotion. All the energy put into worrying could be so much better utilized to do something more constructive and, in the end, isn’t going to change anything set in motion to occur. This is a lesson I remind myself of each and every day.

I had a dinner party of sorts last night. Have to admit my dinner party muscles are a wee bit atrophied. My house, as I’ve mentioned, was not built to accommodate a lot of guests. It’s really at it’s best when housing two people and a cat. The table looked pretty. I lit a candle, though it was hot out, just because. The conversation was interesting. My company sat at the dining room table talking and kibitzing me while I slaved away in the kitchen. I am an old hand at dinner parties. In the past, pulling one together for sixty people wouldn’t have had me even breaking a sweat. My kitchen back then was set up beautifully for entertaining, with lots of counter space and room for appliances and tools. The one I have now, though I love it and my sweet old house, is reminiscent of a galley on a ship, long and lean, and perfect for the minimalist. We ate, we laughed, we share stories, and all the swirling news of climate change, political unrest, gun control, and women’s rights seemed dimmer and farther if only for the moment.

It’s not that I believe we shouldn’t investigate and participate with vigor in the world’s problems, it is rather that sometimes we have to put the heavy subjects in the closet for a while and simply BE. Lately I have found when I do this, I see the clouds more clearly floating by outside my window, the colors more vividly in the butterflies hovering over my plants in the yard, and hear the squirrel chattering for a mate clinging to the side of my tree. All things, as they say, in balance.

When up like I am tonight before anyone is supposed to be, I have been tuning in the CNN special on Patagonia. What a fascinating series it is, for those of you interested in the world around you. Wow. The cinematography is beyond impressive, and I do love the animals and creatures of the sea, my favorite perhaps being the penguins. I would love to travel someday to where these birds are and spend some time among them just once. They are definitely on my bucket list.

On a totally unrelated subject, I got my first paychecks. There were two. Though hardly large enough to be thought impressive, I was impressed. Many years have passed since I collected a paycheck, and it made me feel rather proud. One of my friends pointed out I could be making more slinging burgers at In n Out. Somehow, when processing that idea, the thought of standing at the grill with a bunch of teenagers amassing pimples while regaling them in stories of back in the day when phones were still connected to the wall and computers but a seed in Bill Gate’s brain cells didn’t sound like a plan to me. Although, I have to admit, the all you can eat employee benefits did ring a happy bell in my taste buds

The new job so far, is rewarding. The residents of the assisted living/memory care facility are definitely the icing on the cake. The other day one of them rolled up to my desk and said to me, “Let me ask you something. If you were me, what would you do now?”. This simple question really touched my heart. He was confused, and had no idea where life took him next. I suggested a visit to the library or perhaps taking a walk through the halls. Both seemed like such shallow solutions to the more pressing problem he faced. Life had become small for this gentleman, essentially held within the walls of this facility. It was a stark reminder to me to live every day fully, cherish my time with my children and my friends, and make the best memories and difference possible while time is still available to me. He went off in search of a book to read. I wondered if he found one and opened the pages, would he remember the words written there. Life goes on, new life comes in and old moves out. The circle is complete.

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It is hot, hot, hot, again today. Did I mention it’s hot? I’m going to have to invest in one of those pull out screens that goes across my windshield. Yesterday, I had to use a mask I had in my car to hold onto my steering wheel after it got so hot in a parking lot. Whew. The weather it be bad, people, and they are saying this is just the tip of the iceberg. Some places are getting torrential rain, others suffering through droughts and dry arid weather, others monster storms. Really unsettling.

I’m not a fan of heat. Coming from Nova Scotia, heat is simply not woven into my DNA. My ex-husband, David, and I traveled across country on a regular basis, as I’ve mentioned previously in many blogs. He was a pipe foreman when I married him, and I became his pipe foreman sidekick. To say we moved around a lot would be an understatement. I broke camp so many times, I finally had to call the game after our third major move, and we left our possessions in a moving and storage facility in Florence, Alabama and moved on without them. My wordly “stuff” remained there until our time on the road, and together, was to reach it’s natural end, about five years later. All and all, I was to pay for ten years on that storage unit. When I met Rick and we got a home together, I called and arranged for the crate to be delivered. For what I paid for the storage plus the cross country delivery, we could have replaced the items several times over plus purchased a condo in Boca Raton. The only reason I did it was because all my heirlooms I inherited from my mother’s family were packed in amongst the useless items like an entire box dedicated to a hot pink punch bowl I probably picked up at a yard sale somewhere. Sigh.

David and my first cross country trip was to be east, well southeast to be specific. Being in California you might say that would nearly be the only destination available as west would drop you in the Pacific, south into Mexico leaving north or east the only viable options if you wished to remain on U.S. soil. Our destination was to be Ashdown, Arkansas. It was the beginning of summer that year as well, and the oppressive heat had already begun to settle comfortably, or uncomfortably, across the middle of the country. The first leg of our trip took us through Nevada. Our small convoy made its way across the high desert in the early hours of the morning to avoid traveling in the heat of the day. David led the way, driving his old yellow Ford pickup piled halfway to the moon with all our worldly possessions covered by a huge green flapping tarp. I brought up the caboose in my car K-car with the staples in the hood as a result a recent accident with an uninsured motorist. Grapes of Wrath had nothing on us. My Shih Zsu, Sushi, rode shotgun next to me in the front seat, and Kitty, our senior, very entitled cat, kept watch on the road from the ledge beneath the window in the back. As the night closed in, my eyes began to fixate on the road ahead. White line fever, I believe is the truck drivers term for it. Around 3 a.m. when my eyelids had began to seriously droop, David’s truck hit a jack rabbit propelling the poor animal high into the air where he disappeared into the darkness at the side of the road. This got my blood circulating again. “Poor rascally wabbit”, I thought to myself. I hate to see an animal hurt in any way. Not long afterward, unbelievably, an enormous owl met it’s untimely end against David’s window. The impact caused him to swerve and veer all over the road, finally coming to a stop straddling the center line. Thankfully, we were the only ones using the road at that time of night, and I was still alert enough not to plow right into his bumper. Feathers and debris floated about everywhere. At that point, I was wide awake, all systems fully engaged. In my sleep deprived mind, I remember thinking, omens, possibly? I hadn’t seen Ashdown yet so had no idea what the future held for me, but have to admit those two events didn’t make my mind rest any more comfortably about what was to unfold with the journey ahead.

Our last stop in Nevada was to be in Ely. Ely, was originally founded as a stagecoach station and today is the county seat and largest city in White Pine County, Nevada. Ely boasts a booming population of 4,047 souls, which gives you an idea of the size of the rest of the county. Locating a small, pet friendly, motel with a neon sign blinking ” acancy”, we paid for a room in order to get some much needed sleep. The room itself was interesting. To begin with, with every light on, the interior remained extremely dark. Even after our eyes adjusted, we could barely make each other out. Checking out the bulbs, we discovered they had used 25 watt bulbs in every light fixture. Swell. I was looking like the walking dead at that point anyhow, so what I couldn’t see couldn’t hurt me or him. I tried to pull the drapes apart so we could at least allow some light in to unpack. Interesting note here, someone had stapled the drapes together. From what I could make out of the room, I believe there was a method to their madness with all this subterfuge. The less we could see, the better off we were. In spite of the poor accommodations, we were both so tired we would have slept in that bed if they’d stuffed the pillows with tarantulas.

Waking up in the early afternoon, we made our way to a restaurant recommended by the front desk clerk as a local favorite. Originally, we had planned to get back on the road that day, but it had been a grueling forty eight hours and it was already brutally hot, so we decided to get a fresh start the following morning. Seated at the counter of the coffee shop enjoying my hot cup of coffee, the man on the stool next to me ordered his second boiler maker, at least since I’d been occupying the seat next to him. Taking a long drag off the cigarette hanging precariously on his lip, he checked his keno cards against the numbers on the plaque on the wall, swore, and tore them in two. Nevada really is a different kettle of fish. Breakfast was surprisingly delicious. The desk clerk had been dipping a pile of Cheetos into a mound of what looked to be barbecue sauce when he’d recommended a good place to et, so I hadn’t held out much hope for it. However, there wasn’t much left to be scraped off the plates by the time we were done with our meal. Wandering about the downtown area to kill some time, the afternoon sun seemed more like a laser beam burning a hole in the top of my head. I couldn’t help but wonder what brings people to off the grid places like Ely? Were they born there or looking for a place to disappear. Certainly it was not the natural beauty of the area. For some people the desert landscape is one they find inviting. For me, I’ve always found it to be a bit intimidating and stark. From the looks of the downtown area, I would have guessed it likely hadn’t changed much over the years. According to the brochure I’d picked up outside the hotel, there was a railroad museum somewhere in town and a number of parks to enjoy in the surrounding area. The topography all around us looked rough and scratchy the way a man might appear when sporting an untrimmed beard. Not a place I wanted to hang my hat for too long.

The following morning, we were up early and ready to leave Ely behind without much regret. After retrieving the animals from our mole cave of a room, and settling them in their usual places in my car, I went back for the bags while David checked that bungee cords holding the tarp were secure. It was hot enough at 8:30, that the activity involved in repacking the car was sufficient to raise a bead of sweat beneath my bra line. Whew. Getting in and securing my seat belt, I cranked the A/C on high and turned to follow the old yellow truck out of the parking lot onto the highway.

The vistas as we rode along appeared much different in broad daylight. The desert floor stretched out for miles until the flatness of it all was broken up at last by a range of mountains. Prickly arms of cactus could be seen reaching out all around us surrounded by scruffy patches of sagebrush. On some of the cactus brilliantly colored blooms were erupting. It’s an irony of nature a plant as prickly and unwelcoming could produce such lovely flowers. Tumbleweeds rolled along the side of the road, and occasionally could be seen hanging like a crucifixion victim, impaled on a piece of barbed wire fence.

We continued uneventfully until around lunchtime, when we stopped at a junction where we were to turn, ate at a truck stop there, and filled up our tanks. David told me the next leg of our trip would take us across the Bonneville Salt Flats. The salt flats, he went on, covered a 46 square mile area and have a salty crust that can reach as much as five feet deep. The salt flats apparently were a popular tourist location and the area was well known to car racing enthusiasts. Also, he mentioned during the summer months the temperatures along the route could be fairly extreme. Yay.

Parking under a large tree, we used the extra set of car keys I’d brought to allow us to leave the A/C on in the car and still be able to lock it. This way the animals were cool while we ate, and they were in the shade. This made the temperature doable when I returned. I refilled their water dishes and once again the animals and I took up the rear as we headed away from civilization. Even with the A/C churning out frigid air, it was difficult to keep the temperature comfortably cool in the car. Sushi had begun to pant so I reached into the cooler on the floor in the front seat and took some ice out to give to her. I was watching the temperature dial on my dash creep up slightly to the hot side. I began praying things would hold, when the back tire on David’s truck began to buckle and fold. With the vehicle limping on the back right side, he pulled it over and I pulled in behind him. Oh-oh.

Reluctantly, I got out of the car. The heat was unrelenting as we stood there looking at the blown tire. There were no cell phones then, and we hadn’t seen a car in a while. The only option, was to change the tire. Thank heavens we had brought a spare, and put in my trunk not buried it somewhere under all our household goods. As we walked to my car, the heat sank over us. It was like sitting under an electric blanket turned to high on a hot day. Sweat was pouring out of me from every available pore as we dragged the tire out and rolled it to the truck. As we walked, my flip flops were actually sticking to the asphalt. David pumped up the jack and laid on his back to get the job done. His face began to take on the color of a very ripe and juicy tomato. As the heat bore down on me I began to feel strange and light headed. David told me to get in the car with the animals. Finding my thinking processes muddled, I saw a car coming up over the horizon. In my addled mind the Mounties had arrived. I stood in the middle of the road jumping up and down like a clown in a Jack in the Box until David came and got me and physically put me in the car. The car passing stopped, but David told them he was almost done and to ushered them on. Once the new tire had been put on and the old one stored in my truck, I noticed he was no longer wearing his shirt. He pointed to where he had been lying, and the shirt was now a permanent part of the asphalt. Wow. Turning around to show me, his back was red and several blisters had risen up.

Sometimes I wonder if that shirt is still there. I can tell you I will never forget that heat, and haven’t felt anything like it since. We had some wild and hairy times he and I before we parted ways. We leave a part of us wherever we venture. Each person you meet brings something to you in your life, and takes something of you away with them into theirs when they go. Have a great and cool day. Find the adventure, enjoy every moment.

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So, I’m adding Dog Wrangler to my list of qualifications on my resume. The new man in my life has a lovely Labrador retriever, blonde in color. Some time back, the dog enjoyed a tryst with a wolf red retriever that produced eight little puppies, two blondes, and six reds. So cute. When first born, they were just so sweet to watch. Innocent little beings with closed eyes, who ate, slept, and pooped their way through their days. However, like all beings, puppies do not remain little forever. Now, entering their sixth week, their eyes are wide open and they are busy, busy, busy, little bees. They are only sleeping when they have thoroughly worn themselves, and us, completely out. Reminds me of how excited I was to see my daughter take her first steps. The occasion, when it happened, was marked with a video and much ooooohing and aaaaaahing of encouragement from her loved ones. The excitement ebbed considerably, when we realized the child was now fully mobile and able to get into everything and anything within her reach. Oh-oh. Like human babies, everything that catches the pup’s interest (which is virtually everything from an old Q-tip found on the floor to the foliage on your house plants) goes in their mouths. Hounds by breed, they run along nose to the ground searching for something to get into. I had to sit cross legged on the couch keeping my feet off the carpet to prevent them from untying my shoelaces or nipping at the back of my ankles. The mama dog sat in the chair next to me watching the chaos of her spawns of the devil unfold. Every once and while she’d cast a worried glance in my direction like “what have I done, Susie, what have I done”? Another concern is there hasn’t been a big response to the ads to place these puppies in new homes, which is starting to be cause for concern. They are entertaining now and cute, but seven big dogs running around in a small space has less of a tickle your funny bone feel to it. I told him we could stand out front of Safeway with a box and a sign reading, “Free Puppy With Any $50 Purchase”. Some people have no sense of humor.

I can remember days like that when my kids were little. They were born a year and two weeks apart. For the first six months or so, they were both in diapers. I would imagine I had much the the same experience parents would have with twins in the house. Once both babies were walking, it was a full day every day. Their dad and I had purchased our first house when I found out I was pregnant with our second child. He was going to college nearby and working a night shift, and I had a secretarial job during the day. Looking back and thinking I was only twenty seems unimaginable to me. Sometimes I don’t know how we did it all. Looking at twenty year olds now and picturing them with a baby on both hips seems unreal. I’m sure there are a lot of young mothers out there, but I don’t see them all around me the way one did when I was producing offspring. According to my granddaughters, marriage is not in the forefront of the minds of young women coming up in the world anymore. An exact quote would be, “Marriage and commitment are not the priorities, or possibly even on our radar”. Interesting. Girls often go to proms in groups of friends, rather than attending with a date. Dating seems, at least to my well seasoned eyes, a far more casual affair in 2022, more about the moment at hand rather than the ultimate outcome. But who am I to say? Each generation thinks the ones coming after them are totally going about things the wrong way. Basically, if they are not doing things the way we did them, they must be doing them wrong.

Girls when I was growing up were supposed to target a marriage partner once the ink dried on their high school diploma. I was married (the first time) at nineteen. Of the four marriages I have to my credit, this was to be the only “formal” wedding I was to enjoy. I remember thinking as I walked down that long aisle towards the man of my dreams, we would be together forever. Forever, as it turned out, was to last only eight years. However, though the marriage didn’t stick to the wall, during our time together we did manage to produce two beautiful humans who have brought me so much joy since the moment they arrived making it such a blessing. Life has a way of going in the direction it chooses to do, and more often or not we are just flotsam swept up in the current. That sounded rather cynical, and I don’t consider myself a cynical person. It’s only over the years I’ve come to see that sometimes what we perceive as the direction we should be moving in, isn’t always the best choice for us to be making. It has been my experience the harder a push the universe at such times, the more resistance I experience in return.

I have a friend who fathered ten children. Amazing. I used to think I wanted six, but managing two as a single mother could be an uphill struggle. How you spread yourselves effectively among ten kids I cannot imagine, and manage to save a moment for yourself. All ten, so he tells it, are uniquely different with totally individual likes and dislikes, and personalities. Isn’t it funny how you can have children who all grow up in the same house, sharing the same parents, with the same values taught to them, enjoying similar activities and conversations, and still they often grow up to be polar opposites as adults. That would be an interesting study to read about. I’m sure there is a paper out there somewhere on the subject already having been written.

At times I wish I could go back to the early days armed with the arsenal of knowledge I have gleaned and begin at my beginning again. Maybe we should start out really on top of things, bursting at the seams with wisdom, and let it leak out like air in a balloon with a small hole in it until we peter out as we get older? Remind me to mention that to the powers that be, once I get wherever it is I go once I peter out.

On a totally unrelated subject, I actually went to the gym today. I know! Not only did I go to it, for I’ve done that before, but this time I got out of the car, opened their business door, and went inside. So proud, really. I need to do some free weight work. If I take this job I mentioned previously working for the Air B&B cleaning company, I need to strengthen my core. The work is physical and requires agility and free motion. The young woman in the facility was kind enough to say I looked to be in excellent health and seemed in good shape. True enough, my physical self, when clothed, is not a lot different then when I was younger. Admittedly, some southern movement has occurred, one can’t escape gravity after all, but all in all it’s still in fairly good fiddle. The problem lies in, like a well-worn wool suit, the material covering it has gotten a bit stretched and out of shape and doesn’t fit as well as it did when it was new. A little tightening up is definitely in order. This girl started laughing when I said that, and continued to do so every time we made eye contact. I do enjoy a good audience. I signed up for their summer “tightening up special”. Twelve weeks of miserable workouts, three times a week (should you be an abuse magnet) to get you in tip-top summer shape. They also have a pool which offers water aerobics which I will avail myself of. I have friends in my age group who won’t wear a bathing suit in the pool anymore. To me this is incredibly vain. One woman I know, wears pants and a long sleeved shirt to swim in if swimming in a public pool. When she steps in the deep end, she sinks to the bottom like a rock. I refuse to not wear shorts when it’s hot, or a bathing suit when I swim simply because my legs aren’t twenty anymore. As far as I know I haven’t gotten to the point where I traumatize small children, or put dogs teeth on edge, so I’m doing it.

That is what I know for a Thursday. The heat is moving our way. Going to be 107 tomorrow. Ugh. The shorts are definitely coming out.

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I am mucking about in my life at the moment. At times it feels like I am sloshing through a vat of deep, sticky goo. My feet are cumbersome and heavy as I try to drag them out of one tight spot, only to find I’ve stepped into another. This is a temporary state of mind. I am not, by nature, a being who stays down long, but for this moment this is where I seem to find myself. I have taken my costume with the large red “S” emblazoned on the front to the dry cleaners. I feel I may need it over the next few months and want to make sure it is cleaned and pressed.

Doors close throughout our lifetimes, allowing room for other doors to open. Like a snake lying in the warm sun, I slowly slither out of the old me, allowing the new me to emerge and flourish. What the transformation looks like, I have no single idea. It could be I will move, or it could be I will not. If I stay here, I will have to supplement my income as I planned for two years in this house in my budget to get situated, and I’ve already exceeded that by another six months. Ach, that will mean a part-time job. I was considering pet sitting. I am not very big as a human, so it would have to be small pets. When I first moved up to my house in the mountains, I volunteered at the local pet rescue to be a dog walker. When I arrived at the facility the first day, the owner said after seeing me, “this isn’t going to work”. Apparently they had a lot of large breed dogs, including pit bulls, and she felt they might view me as an afternoon snack. So, for two years I worked with the abandoned and lost kitties. Loved it. I could go back to office work, although I’d rather gnaw off my own foot. I know, I could try neurosurgery! Haven’t tried that as yet. The dust has not settled since my mother’s death, or even begun to fall gently to the ground. I guess the urge to do something is stronger than to simply sit here and feel the pain of her loss.

There could be a mate in my future, or perhaps I will walk alone? This, as with so many things, remains unseen behind filmy gauzy veils waiting to be revealed. Hopefully, I will find someone to walk next to me again. By nature, I’m a bit of a nester. I enjoy having someone to share my day with, or fuss over from time to time. There is another side of me which also enjoys my alone time, so should I find someone interested in me that I’m interested in, there’s that. There is movement in the wind sending vibrations to my soul that someone is coming. Will be interesting to see where I find myself a year from now. It is best to relax into the journey and not sweat the outcome, or so I believe.

The rain is coming down heavily outside. Easter is tomorrow. My children are gathering together with theirs and me to celebrate today. I am cooking. This is the source of great angst for me right now, because I have to admit I’m out of the habit of standing at the stove. I’m hoping it’s like falling off a horse. I will just hop back on it’s back and lope off down the trail without missing a beat. I decided to do old staples of mine like twice baked potatoes and garlic bread. Both are hard to mess up, although with my track record of late, I can probably make it happen. I cleaned my house yesterday from top to bottom. Rick used to think that such a ridiculous ritual. “You clean the house”, he would say, “so people can come over and completely mess it up”. “Yep, that’s the plan”. Good, bad, or indifferent that’s how I was raised and that is what I do.

I did make the twice baked potatoes yesterday in between dusting and vacuuming, because they are the most labor intensive. The rest of it, I left until this morning. Easy peasey. Nothing in this house ever goes wrong unless it’s a weekend or a holiday. I woke up early, which is also what I do. If I sleep past five I run an ad in the paper celebrating my recent success. After coffee and a bowl of cereal, I caught up on a bit of news and made my way into the kitchen. Placing the bags of Brussels sprouts on my counter I needed to trim and cook, I was thinking to myself I’d actually made it this far without a misstep, and was feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing. Deciding I would wash my hair first to get it out of the way, I opened the cupboards under the kitchen sink to retrieve my shampoo and conditioner. To save me time, the two containers and half of the rest of the contents of the lower cupboard floated out onto the floor on their own. Very handy, if there wasn’t now water everywhere all over my clean floor. “Ah, Murphy, you sly old puss, you let me get a false sense of security this time before doing your worst.” Picking up my phone, I texted my landlord. Thankfully, he is the nicest of humans and lives directly across the street. Telling me he’d arrive in fifteen minutes, I was instructed to get everything out from under the sink and put towels down. Done and done. Getting in my grateful mode, which sometimes takes a lot of energy, I said aloud I was thankful he was home on a holiday weekend and could get here to take a look at the pipes. Otherwise, it would have been In n Out cheeseburgers for all, which was beginning to sound better and better with each tick of the clock. If I had no water, then no dishwasher, or ice tea or dinner. Grateful, grateful, grateful, that’s me.

So, turns out two pipes had completely disconnected. It was a twenty minute fix, and I am up and running again. If this is the worst thing I have to deal with in my life, I will be A-OK. This will be our first holiday without our matriarch. That her death was not unexpected, doesn’t make it any less of a loss. She was so significant to our family, and will be sorely missed by each and every one of us. Today we will tell funny stories of her, as she provided us with scrapbooks full of material, and remember how without her none of us would be seated around my table celebrating Easter. It is a time of thankfulness and family, of loss, sacrifice, and rebirth. I hope it finds all of you seated around a table with loved ones, or hiding Easter eggs in your yards, or kissing your babies or theirs. Remember to say what you feel in your heart to your loved ones every opportunity you get. Life is serendipitous and you never know when you won’t have the chance to say it the next time. Also, remember to be kind to yourself. We humans are often our own worse critics.

Looking at my life now, I realize how very much I’ve changed over the past four years. Change is part of life and certainly I am not unfamiliar with it, but I mean I’ve changed in deep and profound ways my entire essence. Where I used to love to cook and putz around the house, these days I prefer being outside under the trees or walking along a mountain path next to a stream. I will begin the process of remolding myself once again as I step over this hurdle as well, and most likely not recognize myself by the time I reach the end of my journey.

Happy Easter to you and yours!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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