Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘animals’ Category

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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!!

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

The weekend has been busy. I spent Saturday night with my daughter and her family at a Winter Wonderland attraction. For Zeppelin, who recently turned three, this was a magical adventure. Being a “COVID” baby he hasn’t had much exposure to the outside world over the past couple of years. Snow cascaded down on us inside the gate, generated by a snow machine set up towards the entrance to the light show. This, for the small set, was the big deal of the night. The look on his face reminded me of how I felt the first time I saw fireflies while living in St. Albans, West Virginia. Only difference, I was thirty-eight at the time. Wonderment, is wonderment, no matter what the age, I like to think.

The Christmas elf in me seems to surface no matter what external forces are going on in my life. Always, I have come to life this time of year, and in spite the fact Dale will not be with me for the official lighting of the tree, the tree will go up as it always does. My son-in-law stores my tree in his rafters each year. Before going over there I asked him to get it down for me so I could bring it home with me. There was a time when I wouldn’t have owned an artificial tree. Part of the experience of having a tree for me, was to go to a lot or Christmas tree farm and pick out a tree the day after Thanksgiving. Since the kids have their own kids, and particularly now the cat and I are the only ones here to appreciate the splendor, I’m happy to have a conveniently accessible tree-in-a-box to put up instead.

Getting ready to head home yesterday morning, my son-in-law offered to put my two bags in the back seat of my car. I thanked him as I was going out the door, where he pulled me aside for a moment. “Don’t open the bags in the house”, he whispered in my ear. “Why not”, I asked? Apparently, Zeppelin had been playing in the garage with my son-in-law and he told him he was afraid of the bag. When asked why, he indicated the bag had been moving by itself. Oh-oh. Soooooo, I am being told there could be something in the bag? The bag now resting in my bag seat? Swell.

On the way home I jumped every time I heard a noise, and kept looking over my shoulder expecting to see two little rat ears and a big set of razor sharp teeth staring back at me. Thankfully, nothing escaped and hopefully there was nothing to escape. Once home, I unloaded my other items leaving the bags in place for last. Pulling on my industrial plastic gloves, I retrieved a long pair of tongs from my utensil drawer. “I’m going in”, I thought to myself. Dragging the cumbersome bags over to the side of the house, I watched them for a moment to make sure I didn’t detect any movement before unzipping the first bag. There were no obvious signs of entry so I felt pretty comfortable removing the contents, picking them up with the tongs just in case there were any surprises in store for me. The second bag was a totally different story. On one side there was a huge jagged hole obviously gnawed by huge jagged teeth. Let the games begin. Gingerly I pulled back the zipper. Grabbing the section of tree on the top with my tongs, I pulled hard dislodging a jack in the box ornament flying which came flying up out of the hole and landed on my head. The dance that ensued was worthy of at least a 10 from Len Goodman on Dancing with the Stars. Good form, excellent footwork, nice content. When my toes finished tapping, I looked up to see my neighbor leaning on his rake watching me. What? He waved at me cautiously in my direction, as one might do when dealing with a crazy person. In the end, there was no creature tucked in with tree either dead or alive. However, something had definitely eaten a hole in the side of the bag as well as all the fake cranberries off some decorations in the bottom of the bag. Note to self: Find a place in the shed for my trees.

Rats, well pests in general, are a way of life. Whether you live in the inner city or in rural areas a rat or two is going to turn up at one juncture or another. I try to find the inherent blessings in all living things, but I have to stretch a little farther to find the value in these nasty flea carrying rodents. Wherever there is food, rats will congregate. When we owned the restaurant I would sometime see them foraging out by the trash bins. Euuuuwww. When recounting the above rat story to a friend of mine, she said she saw a wire hanging beneath her car. When she reached up to yank on it to pull it out, a dead rat fell out on the ground and she was holding his tail. Ugh. They will get up under the hood of your car for the comforting heat of the engine. While visiting, they will chew on wires and connections leaving a mess if you’re not careful.

Moving on lest you’re eating and rodents put you off your food, this morning I am making soup out of what is left in my vegetable bins. I haven’t been shopping lately the way I did when Dale was here for meals, and I haven’t been cooking much either. The refrigerator, I’m afraid, reflects this lack of interest. I found four carrots, three stalks of celery, two onions, and some green beans hanging on for dear life in the bins. I had a half a rotisserie turkey breast that was about to travel south with the veggies so figured they’d all play well in a bit pot of soup. It’s supposed to be cold today, so what is more perfect on cold days than a piping hot bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, yes?

Murphy has been mucking about in my house the past week. As I mentioned in my previous blog, both toilets went on the fritz one right after the other. At the end of last week I was working on organizing my shed and one of the doors came off in my hands when I tried to close it. Thankfully, I figured out how to reattach it, or that would be the perfect place for critters to take up residence as the cooler weather prevails. Don’t misunderstand me, I do love my critters, but don’t really want any unwelcome surprises when looking for a package of paper towels out there in the dark.

So, this morning I began to assemble my soup ingredients. The landlord installed shelved pantry units in the laundry room to give me more storage. As I’ve said, this is a small house. I am very creative when it comes to using up all the available space, but even I have my limitations. The shelves in these cabinets are held up with little metal fasteners which regularly wear out, or come out and disappear into the atmospheric continuum somewhere. My theory is they are out there hanging out with all my missing socks. I have stocked these shelves fairly substantially so these little fasteners are being asked to hold up a fair amount of weight. This morning they rebelled. Opening the cupboard, cans, boxes, bags of pasta and all manner of consumables came pouring out like the dam had sprung a leak. A large can of crushed pineapple landed on my baby toe which is now the color purple. Ouch. I will find that Murphy one of these days and see he gets some of what he has dished out. Sorry, lost my head for a moment.

Not to be deterred from the task at hand, I sorted through the mess until I located what I needed and made my soup anyhow. What is it they say, “it’s not what happens to you in life that is important, it’s how you handle what happens to you”, or something along those lines. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

Another minor annoyance, more to Boo than to myself, is that because nothing is getting to the store shelves these days, her cat litter brand of choice is out of stock. Boo, like most cats, is not a fan of change. Forced to either choose a new litter or allow the aromatic smell of ammonia to waft up to permeate my nostrils, I bought a different brand. The one I got was clumpable. I know, or really I didn’t know. At any rate, I diligently cleaned her box and sanitized it and poured the new litter inside. Shortly, as she always does, she sauntered up to take a virgin run at the fresh litter. First she smelled it, then after circling the box for ten minutes she deigned to step inside. You would have thought I had filled it with hot coals. She walked around lifting up her paws and behaving as if torture could only be a worse fate. Really? After a few days she accepted the fact that the old litter was not returning any time soon, and adapted herself to the situation. I, on the other hand, didn’t do as well. The clumps as it turned out were how the litter dealt with the bodily fluids etal. Huge clumps form in the litter after the cat uses it, looking like meteorites. They weigh a ton and hardly fit in the trash can I’ve always used to store the ……..um, well, poop. At any rate, it got kind of funny to me at one point but finally just annoying so I went and bought a new brand. Boo is circling the box as we speak. Life on the edge over here.

Happy Monday. The beginning of Thanksgiving week. Stay safe, spread kindness, be happy.

Read Full Post »

I have to say, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, has stepped up to the plate in a big way since Dale passed away. As it does after someone dies, the house goes from a hotbed of activity, to a quiet, sometimes deafeningly quiet, refuge. Family and friends return to their lives, and you are left alone (if just the two of you) to sort out the remnants of yours. Boo has been my steadfast companion over the past weeks, and I don’t know what I would have done without her. In times where I felt lost, she would find me. Her beautiful silly furry face would lift me up from whatever dark space I had crawled into, and pull me back into the world. God bless animals, really. We could learn a great deal from them about humanity.

I have had many pets over the years. I never say I owned my animals. To my mind you can’t own a living entity. You share space, possibly rent one for a while, as they can be costly, but never own one. My first “pet” was a loaner who haughtily sauntered into my life when I was about the age of six. Whiskers was a grey tabby with attitude, who lived with our neighbors, The Bells, in the house directly across the street from ours. Not permitted an animal of my own, Whiskers and I made a silent agreement to meet every day in front of the garage for scratches behind the ears and a few moments of cat to human companionship.

I didn’t get an actual pet until third grade, when three guppies, and two angel fish showed up in a small aquarium under the Christmas tree. A puppy was what I had written on my Christmas list, but fish were what Santa delivered. Watching them milling about inside the glass I believe for a moment I thought about leaving him a hunk of coal instead of chocolate chip cookies and milk the following year. To give Santa his due, we lived in an apartment with a “no pets” policy, so fish were all I was allowed to own. He must have read the lease before crossing my golden retriever off his list. They were entertaining, for creatures that basically just swam around, pooped and ate, but they weren’t much when it came to going for walks or playing in the yard. Santa had included a manual detailing the care and feeding of each species, however, it included nothing about the reproductive status of guppies. As things will happen when you put males and females of a species in the same environment, one of the guppies got pregnant. When she produced her offspring, I watched in horror as the father immediately gobbled up all his own children. It seems this is not an uncommon phenomenon among the male guppy population, which leads me to wonder there are any guppies in the aquariums at the north pole to provide for children over the holidays. The following day, my mother found a new home for my tank.

To ease the loss of my guppies, a new furry face arrived on the scene in fourth grade. A Boston terrier by the name of Puck. That is Puck, from Midsummer Night’s Dream, with a P. To be honest Puck was not a name I might have chosen for obvious reasons, but he came to us at six months old, and his previous owner had a leaning towards Shakespeare. Not wanting to confuse him, Puck he was, and Puck he stayed. Puck was a little black and white shivering bundle of energy. He had one blue and one brown eye and was prone to passing truly obnoxious clouds of gas at the most inopportune moments. His favorite game, if left alone and the bathroom door open, was to grab the end of a roll of toilet paper and run through every room of the house until the roll finally came to an end. Often I came home from school to find him sitting in clouds of Charmin looking really pleased with himself. In his defense, the only companion the dog had when I was in school was my mother’s roommate’s brother’s mynah bird. Follow that trail if you can. The black menace, was a contentious feathered creature answering to the name “Uncle Charlie”. Uncle Charlie could match expletives with the vilest of sailor’s mouths and could often be heard in his owners room blaspheming loudly to his little hearts content. Puck’s bent for flatulence, unfortunately, turned out to be more than just socially unappealing, but also an indicator of an underlying serious intestinal condition resulting in his demise before he celebrated his second birthday.

I didn’t venture into the realm of pet ownership again until the eve of my thirteenth birthday. The doorbell rang that night just after we had cut my cake. I opened the door, to find a delivery man standing there carrying a cage. Reading from a card he had in his hand he announced he had a special delivery for Susan Dennis, which at time would have been me. Handing the cage across the threshold to my waiting hands, he turned and walked down the driveway. Looking inside, I was more than surprised to find two large frightened looking topaz eyes staring back at me. “Hello”, I said? Taking the crate in the kitchen, my mother determined the gift had come from my Aunt Eleanor. Eleanor was not really my aunt, though I called her Aunt El, but rather an old friend of the family. Eleanor was in her seventies at the time (I perceived her as ancient and more than a little eccentric). The woman lit one cigarette off the last, drank vodka by the truckload, owned three beagles who smelled like old socks, and was a retired legal secretary. She had never married, had no children (except her beagles who she called her “girls”), and her only relative was a rather unproductive brother who lived in her spare room with Mr. Charlie the foul mouthed mynah bird. Aunt El, however, in spite of her many quirks, had a heart the size of New Jersey. Knowing it was a difficult time in this girl’s life, she knew a kitten might just fill the fill. Had she asked my parents permission, I’m sure the answer would have been a resounding no. So El came at the situation like she did most situations she had during her life in the legal field, and just cut through the red tape. The eyes as it turned out were attached to a peach colored persian kitten, who aptly came to be called “Peaches”. Peaches was gorgeous even by persian standards. In the dark, her golden eyes shone brightly like the orbs of a underworld goddess replete with locks of flowing curly golden hair. Her regal bearing belied an underlying love of martinis, which came to the fore after a night of partying on the part of my parents and a group of their friends. I woke up to find the living room littered with the remnants of the previous night’s festivities including half filled martini glasses and bowls of crusted over guacamole. In the middle of the disaster sat Peaches happily lapping up what had to be her second or third gin martini.Oh-oh. On seeing me, the fuzzy sot weaved across the carpet in my direction getting about halfway to where I stood before dropping on her side like a possum caught in the headlights of a car. Thankfully, the amount of alcohol she consumed did not do her in, but the next day she had the same look on her lovely face I’d seen on my parents the day before. Peaches would be my steadfast friend and companion for the next two years, before being hit by a car on our street and having to be put to sleep. My young heart, as they say, was broken.

It was to be, that once again I was to mend my broken heart from the loss of one furry friend by finding another one to step up to make me smile. Don’t misunderstand me, you can not simply exchange one pet for another and make everything all right, any more than you can with human beings. Each animal, like each person in your life, if special, occupies a certain space in your heart and mind that is unique and belongs only to them. Their imprint, can never be written over with a new one, but will rather stand side by side with the others. Such was the case with the little Pomeranian puppy given to me on my sixteenth birthday by my mother. Mandy, like another guardian angel, arrived on the scene when life was a bit bumpy at our house and a loving companion was just what was needed.

When Mandy came into my life I was sweet sixteen, with more emphasis on the age than the description. My home life was complicated, and in reaction to that chaos I was a bit rebellious. Toss all those ingredients in a bag and no matter how much sugar you added the cake it still didn’t taste that delicious. My mother and I were trying to find a way to communicate, and teenagers aren’t notably gifted in this area, and my stepfather, well that’s for another blog. Mandy helped to iron out some, not all of the wrinkles at home, making life a little easier for all concerned. Small in size, with a pointed snout and a bush of reddish gold hair, she resembled a little fox. Before long we were inseparable. She understood me, didn’t ask a lot of questions, and was an excellent snuggler, and for a small being, a fierce protector. What more could I ask for? My stepbrother, Mike, also had a dog, Chip. Mike’s parental visits included every other weekend at our house during the school year, every other holiday, and a month during the summer break. Chip accompanied him on the summer break the first year Mandy came to live with us. My mother and I had discussed getting Mandy fixed as soon as her first heat and come and gone. Apparently Chip, an ardent suitor, hadn’t read that far in the book. Sure enough, before the surgery could be done, Mandy was pregnant. The vet said the pregnancy was too far along so we would need to complete the journey. One night I noticed Mandy was very restless. She stood up, then laid down, yawned, and then whimpered. This went on for some time. Alerting my mother something was wrong, she called the vet and they said we should bring her in. After an xray revealed two puppies, one too large to come through the birth canal, (Chip was a mutt, but a mix of larger breeds) Mandy was prepped for a C-Section. This would end up costing my mother nearly $400, pricey even in those days. Mother was not wearing her happy face on the drive home two puppies richer. Mandy produced her only offspring, Chip and Dale. The boys were healthy but an odd pair, with Chip being at least double the size of his brother. When they were old enough,we put them up for adoption and they were scooped up before the ink was dry on the ad. Mandy remained with me until I got married three years later. She stayed with my mother until I could find an apartment where I could bring her. I think she died of a broken heart, though they said it was liver failure. As I’ve said often, life is a series of hellos and goodbyes.

There have been many other memorable fur babies between Whiskers and Boo. If I mentioned them all you’d have to put on a fresh pot of coffee. Dale’s memorial is tomorrow. Nursing a big case of sad this morning but Boo is here at my feet keeping a watchful eye on me. Happy Saturday!!

Read Full Post »

I woke up to a light rain falling outside my window. Boo, the Queen of Cats, was curled up in a tight knot on the pillow next to me and all felt right in the world just for that quiet moment lying in my warm comfortable bed listening to the glorious sound of water falling from the sky. California has been so dry the past few years. It fascinates me there are people out there still trying to argue climate change is a figment of people’s imaginations. The polar ice cap is melting, sea levels are rising, mega storms in the Atlantic are becoming the norm, drought is on tap nearly every year out here on the west coast and fire season now lasts all year long, and still there are doubters shaking their heads in disbelief. What, one has to wonder, will it take for these non believers to see what is clearly unfolding in front of their eyes? I really do try to leave room for opinions other than my own under this mop of blonde hair, but this I have trouble even following the logic of the opposing argument. How do you argue with what is obviously happening as a result of we human beings being less than diligent caretakers of this beautiful planet? Perhaps it’s just easier to deny. Doing nothing is always easier in some way, then taking a stand.

I get denial, believe you me. My daughter used to call me “The Queen of Denial”. I have to confess to being a bit of a fairy duster. I would prefer to think the best of people initially and perhaps later be proven wrong, then to assume the worst from the onset and find out I was mistaken down the road. Always I will assume a friend or loved one to be telling me the truth unless given reason to believe otherwise. I do have to say though, once I have confirmed a person has lied to me about something important, that original assumption goes out with the bath water. Now I’m not speaking to little white lies. I believe most of us will admit to telling those little fabrications now and then. Aunt Millie calls when you’re in the middle of a good book, and you tell her you’d love to talk but you’re on the way to the dentist. I’m sure these little “fibs” get noted on our record somewhere, but I think in the end they are fairly harmless diversions meant to keep the other person from feeling hurt or offended. Anyhow, whether this premise is true or not, it works for me, and until proven otherwise, I am sticking to that plan of action.

I am a terrible liar. My face gives me up every time. So, in my case, there is no point in even launching into a big whopper. For one thing, I over embellish, providing details as finite as commenting on what color footwear the person was wearing in the concocted fairy tale, or what they were eating at the time the incident occurred. People telling the truth don’t need to add copious details or write things down to recall the intricacies of what happened when relating a story. They do not need to take notes because what they are saying actually did happen and they have imprinted the sequence of events to their memory bank. Hello? Dale, as far as I know, has only attempted to tell me one “fib”. Have to say, he wasn’t very adept at it. It was at the beginning of both our relationship and the pandemic. Like everyone else on the planet, I was nervous about contracting the dreaded virus. I told Dale because of my asthma, it would be helpful for him to avoid public places if possible with large gatherings of unmasked people. There was no vaccination to turn to at that time, so masks and social distancing were about the only weapons available against the disease. A friend of Dales has a brother who races cars. This particular Saturday the brother was bringing his current “ride” to a local track and Dale had been asked to come and watch the car put through it’s paces. The temptation proved to much. He went, knowing this probably wouldn’t sit well with me. To keep me from knowing where he was, he called me from a copse of trees about a half a mile away so I wouldn’t hear the engines roaring in the background. The thing about lying, is one lie generally breeds another. In order to support the first fabrication, other fabrications need to fall into line after it to keep the illusion going. If you have a healthy conscience, once you have let the lie out out of the gate, then the guilt sets in. Sitting in the stands after our phone call, Dale began to not only feel the guilt, but guilt had invited a new friend to the party, worry. He began to worry I might find out he had not told me the truth. Remembering I knew the friend’s wife, he texted her to ask she not mention where the two men had gotten off to. Problem in this move being, he sent the text to me instead of her by accident. Oh-oh. The text I received read, “Please don’t mention to Susie I went to the track with Mike. This might upset her. Thanks so much.” I replied, “Too late, Bubba. The jig is up, the cat is out of the bag, the beans, as they say, have been spilled.” There was no reply for a moment, and then the phone rang. Somebody was in trouble. I told him then and there lying was one of my least favorite behaviors in a mate. If you can’t trust your partner, and believe me I have been there, then there isn’t much point in going forward.

Lying to avoid consequences is something we learn at a young age. I remember finding one of my grandchildren, around four years old at the time, standing at my outside refrigerator with the door open. I had put a lot of food out on the table in the kitchen for whatever party was going on, including a huge bowl of fruit for everyone to enjoy. The one statement I had made to the children specifically was “You may have everything I put out, but the strawberries in the back refrigerator are for a luncheon I’m going to tomorrow so please don’t touch them”. Standing there in his bare feet he looked up at me with that innocent baby face nearly totally obscured by red strawberry juice. In his hands, and on the floor below him, were an assortment of leaves and partially eaten berries. I said to him, “did you eat Nana’s strawberries?” To which he answered vehemently while shaking his head, “no”. Uh-huh. Nana’s got your number little man.

As a mother I was a big consequence girl. I felt “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime”. Never was I a hitter, but there was punishment to be exacted if they did something they knew was not in their best interest or mine. Usually my punishments involved extra chores, or lost privileges. To me, an integral part of being a parent is teaching them about life. When you grow up and do something you should not, there are consequences for your actions. I remember one time asking my son to take out the trash I had sitting in a 33 gallon trash bag by the door heading out to the garage. I asked twice, as the dogs, a large golden retriever named Barnaby, and a Shih Zsu answering to Sushi, would have access to the house through the dog door due to the rain outside. Barnaby, already had his name on the books as a known trasher.”Sure, Mom”, was the standard answer. I placed the bag against the door as I left for work so that my son would literally have to repel over it to get out to the garage to go to school. No problemo. Later that day, I arrived home from work before my children had gotten in from school. Pushing on the door to go into the kitchen, it did not move easily. As I pushed harder against the door, I heard tin cans rattle and paper rustle. From beneath the door, an ooze of tomato juice seeped through onto the stairs. Sigh. Inside, the kitchen floor was littered with trash and debris. Barnaby, so it would seem, had made the best of his time on his rainy day break in the house, indulging himself of the feast left at his disposal. Calling the dog’s name, I got no response other than the familiar thump, thump, thump, of the dog’s tail whacking against the hardwood floor in the next room. Sushi, wisely had distanced herself from the scenario, having her back to me sleeping in her dog bed. She did not look up, lest she be caught in the crossfire. Conveniently, Barn had already put himself in the corner in the family room, totally aware trash bags were not a place I wanted him to bury his head. The culprit, it would appear, had been apprehended. This was not his first infraction. Giving me a side eyed glance while I told him I was unhappy about the situation, I could see flecks of cheese clinging like stalagmites to the end of his snout. What a mess. Shortly thereafter, my son arrived. Surveying the damage, I could see my boy’s mind working to find some plausible explanation to offer me as an excuse for the oversight that would get him out of cleaning up the ungodly mess. Nope, nothing there. There really was no explanation needed, so I handed him the broom and the mop and left him to his job. Truthfully, it was not the dog’s fault temptation was left in his way. The next time I asked for the trash to be taken out, I noticed it had disappeared when I got home. Lesson learned.

As I say often, life is but a series of lessons. We either learn them, at least in my case this is true, or they show up again somewhere down the road offering us another chance for redemption. I have found the lessons I have most stubbornly resisted learning, are the one’s in the end to have hit me the hardest. The current process we are going through with Dale as the cancer tightens it’s grip, makes me wonder what the lessons I am to be understanding in this. For him, I would guess it is a lesson in surrendering, a lesson in faith, and in the beginning, a lesson in unrelenting hope for a miracle. How difficult I was thinking this morning, it must be to know that your time here on earth is coming to an end. That the sip of delicious sweet coffee you are taking might be your last sip, or the kiss your daughter plants on your forehead might be the one that fills the cup. I struggle with understanding all that is going on in my world, but try to still find much joy in the lovely fall colors sneaking into my neighborhood as each day unfolds, or watching the silly antics of my crazy cat as she chases a furry mouse (toy of course) around the kitchen floor. Each day really is a gift, perhaps that is the simple lesson here. Ta ta for now.

Read Full Post »

A friend of mine recently started dating for the first time since going through a messy divorce about five years ago. Her children are grown, so that is one issue she won’t have to deal with. Still, dipping your toe in the dating pool again is a slippery slope when you first put yourself back out there. On this specific subject, I can speak with some authority having been married four times. Now, having been married four times certainly does not qualify me as an expert. Let’s be real, betting on four horses who never crossed the finish line is not exactly to be considered a stellar track record. However, those unions and others have left me with a sizable bank of experience on the topic of relationships at this stage of the game. For the most part, I have already fallen in most of the potholes encountered while looking love, and climbed back out of them more times than I care to mention. Hopefully, I have gathered a little knowledge to take with me each time I made it back to the surface.

I was thinking about Rick and our first date. He took me to a hockey game in San Jose. The Sharks were playing the Canucks. At the time, we were still at the stage where we were gathering information about one another. The fact I am Canadian by birth hadn’t been a topic we’d discussed at any length. Seated in his excellently positioned season ticket seats, we had a great view of the ice. Naturally, being in the Shark’s home stadium, the stands were packed with ardent Sharks fans wearing all manner of team shirts and waving Sharks paraphernalia. A man two seats over from me had his head completely obscured by a full size shark head with a hole in front where he could watch the game between the teeth. When the Canucks took the ice something deep in my roots pushed my nationalism button and I began whooo-hooing vigorously for the Canadian players. Rick turned to stare at me with his mouth fully agape. Aside from the fact he was a die hard Sharks fan, this was not recommended behavior when seated smack in the middle of a huge pool of fans rooting for the other side.The man who’s face appeared in the middle of the sharks teeth turned and actually stuck his tongue out at me. Really? In spite of a bit of a rocky start to the evening, people forgot my indiscretion in the heat of the game, and we had so much fun. Talking came easily between us. After the game was over, and my Canucks had plummeted down like a maple leaf swirling in a stiff breeze, we decided to go to a local hot spot where there were video games lining the aisles of every type and description. Sitting side by side on motorcycles connected to a screen in front of us, we leaned left and then right. Manipulating the controls on the handlebars, an animated screen simulated our movements as if we were actually careening along the highway faced with obstacles along our way. That, I have to say, was the highlight of the night for me. By the time we said our goodbyes, we’d sewn the first seeds in what was to be a nearly twenty year relationship.

I have had some really memorable dates over the years, both good and bad. Just because you remember an evening, doesn’t always mean you recall the details for the right reasons. Getting married the first time at the ripe old age of nineteen, I never dated as a legal adult until I was single again at twenty-seven. Though unattached, as far as relationship status on my Income Tax papers, I did not consider myself unattached. There were two children in the picture. This puts dating on a very different level. Being a single mother is very rewarding but it isn’t a walk in the park. All the parenting falls to you, and the decisions you make whether the right ones or the wrong ones, lead back to your door as well. Essentially, though there were stepfathers in the picture, my biological father died when I was one year old, so I consider myself raised by a single mother as well. After my father passed away, my mother didn’t start dating again until I was around four. I was her point man. As she likes to tell it, if a date came to pick her up at the front door, I would look up at the man she was going out with and say, “are you going to be my daddy”? There it was, I was a buzz kill at four. As you can imagine that cooled off a lot of engines before the first rush of gas even made it to the carburetor. Looking back, I think I was interviewing for the job. My mom was a beautiful young woman, so there were a lot of eligible men interested in getting her attention, who I perceived as potential fathers. About two years into the program, I had made my choice from the selection I’d been given of the gentlemen in her social circle. Admiral Fox, was his name, Foxy to his friends. The first time I saw the admiral, he arrived to pick up my mother to take her to a dinner dance. As my grandmother was to describe him, the admiral was a “tall drink of water”. When he entered the house from the foyer and stepped into the downstairs hall, he had to remove his hat to keep from knocking it off as he walked through the door. An impressive man by any standards, to me he looked like a prince standing before us. Bending down to shake my hand, I thought him resplendent in his naval uniform adorned with all manner of medals detailing the history of his military achievements. Interested in winning over my mother, and understanding the chain of command standing between him and that goal being my grandmother and then myself, he wisely brought my grandmother flowers and for me a sailor’s hat plus an armload of comic books. He had my vote tucked in his well decorated pocket before he left on my mother’s arm for the evening. Unfortunately, though he was my choice for hero, he was not to be my mother’s. The heart wants, what the heart, wants, and in the end Foxy was not what my mother’s heart wanted. That being said, after a lovely lunch on the aircraft carrier Admiral Fox commanded and several dinners and outings following, I bid a regretful “ships ahoy” to the admiral and the search for a dad continued. Note to reader here, I am still on that mission.

I was allowed to begin dating, other then in coed groups, when I was fifteen. The one place I was forbidden to go whether as a couple or with other couples, was the drive-in. My parents viewed drive-ins as hot beds of raging hormones populated by steamed up windows and overheated teenagers. Which, of course, is exactly what they were. Mother was a bit of a helicopter parent, before the phrase had ever been coined. I can remember when I was in high school she would send my dog in the den with us if I had invited a boy over. To preface, my dog, a tiny Pomeranian named Mandy, didn’t like men. This, largely due to the fact my stepfather didn’t like dogs. It was a Mexican standoff between the two of them and there were to be no winners. He would make his distaste evident by leaving her in the back yard when she wanted to come in or yelling loudly when she barked. She, would exact revenge by urinating in his slippers or lying in wait for him as he was headed to the kitchen for coffee, and nipping at the back of his ankles. Even more than the dog’s dislike for men, she resented anyone sharing my affections. If she detected someone else was getting more attention than she was, she would give it her best effort to level the playing field. Positioning herself between my date and I on the couch. If I put her down, she’d jump back up. If I removed her from the room entirely, she would sit outside the door and howl until let back in again. If put outside she would scratch at the screen until my mother let her in. What she lacked in menacing stature, the dog made up for in dogged (pardon the pun) tenacity. I believe she was in fact a well trained agent in my mother’s network of spies. If the boy as much as lifted his arm to scratch his nose, Mandy would curl back one lip and growl menacingly. Should he try to place that arm around my neck, my diminutive guardian might attempt a coup and snap her teeth together in his direction. In her defense, though she could appear menacing, she never bit anybody. That being said, she could be a fierce little defender when the spirit moved her.

The trouble, beyond the obvious, with ending a relationship with one person, is eventually you most probably will have to begin a new one with someone else. This means starting at Ground 0 once again, answering all the familiar questions and establishing new bonds with yet another potential mate. The song “Getting To Know You” is now freely streaming in my head. Sometimes I think I’d rather get a puppy or a bird and just leave it at that. Other things to think about might be if the new man or woman in your life has children. If they do, it will mean meeting them. Just because you are enamored with one of their parents, does not offer any guarantee you will feel the same way about his or her offspring, nor them about you. Friends too can be a problem, especially best friends, if there isn’t a connection to be found there. The more I write about this the more attractive adopting a little Corgi puppy is beginning to sound.

Thankfully, Dale and I haven’t had any problems over the last couple of years. He is a likeable being who attracts likeable beings to him making the whole process so much easier. He, in turn, likes my friends, an eclectic bunch, but very lovable. I like them just that way, and wouldn’t change a hair on their pointy little heads. Always I have chosen to associate myself with interesting, somewhat complicated, fun human beings. People who can see more than one side of the coin, and have something interesting to contribute when sitting across the table from you. I also like people who are willing to get a bit silly at times, dance in the moonlight, or sing karaoke even if totally off tune like myself. People, I guess you might say, not afraid to color outside the lines on occasion, wear white after Labor Day, or live their lives without having to always do the “right thing” at the “right time”.

Many times I have gone on dates where I knew in the first ten minutes of the evening would last for only that one encounter. Chemistry, I believe, is not something that can be created. It is either there, or it is not. For whatever reason like little fireflies blinking in the dark, some people’s lights shine brighter for us than others, and that is a fact of life. I have met people I instantly felt a connection with, both friends and love interests. People who I could talk to right out of the gate, and share a commonality with that would endure over the years. Other people, and I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences, I could be locked in a vault with for thirty days and a single spark would never ignite between us.

There are certain traits I have identified over years of dating, I choose to avoid. I don’t enjoy people who still have the first dollar they ever earned. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not a high maintenance female, but also I don’t like someone who when you share a tab tells you your share is $15.92 exactly. It is important to establish from the beginning who you are and what you enjoy doing before you fully commit to getting to know someone. For example, your idea of fun is staying in binge watching “The Crown” and ordering take-out on weekends, and he is a guy who climbs Half Dome for fun on Saturdays or has a kayak rack on top of his SUV you have to wonder how that is going to work out on down the road when the fairy dust has dispersed. Picking the right partner in the sea of humanity we have to choose from is no task for the feint of heart I’m telling you. I always admire people who do so successfully in the beginning and remain in one union for sixty or so years.

So my thoughts for a Monday. Rick’s birthday was yesterday. Seems like he was sitting next to me in the car last week and it has been nearly three years since he passed away. Happy Birthday dear Ducky. Thinking of you.

Read Full Post »

It’s been a week this week, I have to say. Yesterday morning my IPhone froze up. For over an hour I followed instructions to unfreeze the damnable device producing no change whatsoever in the screen. I can’t be without a phone at the moment, and this one is relatively new. Finally, totally frustrated, I got in the car and drove the twenty or so minutes to the nearest dealer to have them take a look at it. I walked in the door, explained the situation to the clerk at the front desk, handed my device to a kid who looked to be in middle school, and with the flick of one thumb and two fingers “voila” the phone released the screen. Really? The gods are angry.

At least it is at last September. The days are marching forward in a steady rythm towards fall. I cannot tell you how ready I am for autumn, and all that season promises this year. I already have a few fall touches sprinkled about the house by way of a welcome mat for my favorite season. There is a bit of melancholy attached to fall creeping up so quickly. Before long all the beautiful colors decorating the landscape, the pumpkin lattes, and artistically carved jack-o-lanterns grinning on people’s stoops will have come and gone. I am feeling this way as I approach the end of this difficult year, I believe, because I have become weary of saying goodbye.

This has been a stressful couple of years, I have to say. Dale and I have spent a lot of time together the last year and a half, partly due to Covid and partly to the fact he has lung cancer. Though he doesn’t let his prognosis overrun him, with oxygen equipment all around and medicine containers, you can’t help but notice the elephant in the room every day when you wake up. When you think about sharing company with someone dealing with a terminal illness, several adjectives probably immediately come to mind….. depressing, sad, exhausting. Surprisingly there are many other adjectives of a positive nature that apply as well…..tender, compassionate, warm. Don’t misunderstand me, for I don’t want to misrepresent the experience, it can be all the darker adjectives and a bag of chips on some days. However, there is another, perhaps lighter side to it, people don’t often talk about. Along with all the deep emotions involved in losing a loved one, there is also the gift the person dying gives to the people they ask to share their last journey. The sweet gift of allowing someone you love to accompany you on your final days on this plateau. At the beginning of your travels with someone facing such a challenge, you will walk side by side. As the disease progresses, however, you will reach a crossroad. When at the fork in the road, you will continue on to wherever your destiny is to lead you, and the person transitioning will stay on their path to complete the final lap of their trip alone. Dying is an integral part of life. If we looked at death more directly instead of being afraid to say the word out loud or speak of it, perhaps we would be able to approach it with more easily with grace and dignity. Let’s face it, thus far none of us have gotten a hall pass to avoid it, so perhaps it would be better to accept, even embrace it.

Though the situation Dale is currently dealing with tends to pervade our lives, it’s amazing how resilient the human spirit can be. We still find plenty of time to catch a favorite movie, sit outside under the umbrella in the yard and watch the grass grow, and now that we can, spend time with our vaccinated friends and family. I say that not as an arrow directed at the hearts of those who still choose not to get the vaccine, but because Dale is definitely compromised when it comes to health issues. Being around someone who possibly could transmit the virus to him would be unwise. The beginning of the week we had a friend stop by to spend a couple of hours. She texted me not long after she’d left to tell me driving home from her shopping trip, she could see a huge plume of smoke billowing up behind the hills near where we live. As we were speaking, I began to hear planes flying overhead and sirens in the distance. Oh-oh. Sure enough, a fire was brewing and neighborhoods in our general area were being evacuated situated closer to the origin of the blaze. Sometimes it feels like it never rains but it pours. I’d like a rainbow or two thrown in for good measure. I’m just saying. While I was packing up the trunk of the car as a precaution, I thought once again, “the gods really must be angry”.

Maybe there’s some truth to that? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if our creator or creators, however you believe, aren’t particularly pleased with how we’ve been handling ourselves recently. We’re not exactly behaving like kind, compassionate beings. Turn on the news for an hour or so, to remind yourself how true that statement is.

On the good news side of the page, since I wrote the paragraph about a fire brewing, the blaze, thanks to the continuing efforts of firefighters keeping us safe all over the state, has since been contained. Another “whew” moment for us living here in the north state. No structures or lives lost is always a good days work. Continuing with that positive note, I woke up in the middle of the night night before last to the sweet song of rain drumming on the roof. Wow. It has been so long since I’ve heard that, I almost didn’t recognize the sound. Got up the following morning and took a long walk just to grab a lungful of the sweet fresh air outside my window. There really is nothing to compare with the smell of the earth after it has been soaked with a good dose of rain.

This morning, I actually have the windows open in the house. A lovely cross breeze is flowing in through the screens. Between the smoke and my allergies, I haven’t been able to open them in a while. PG&E will undoubtedly be sending us a thank you letter for keeping them afloat with our energy consumption this summer. Yesterday marked the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. Seems as though it was so much more recent than that. For most of us, I’m sure what we were doing the exact moment we got the news of the events unfolding on that day has become permanently etched in our memory banks. I know for me it has. I was at work, standing in the conference room with a large group of co-workers standing in front of the TV. We watched in disbelief as one unreal image after another appeared on the screen. No one spoke really, other than an occasional “oh my, God” or “oh no”. When the realization of what had just happened on U.S. soil sank in, most of us filtered out the doors and went home for the day. There was no point in trying to work with those images fresh in our minds. Driving down the freeway I remember tears sliding down my cheeks. So many lives were instantly changed in those moments. My daughter-in-law, who’s birthday falls on September 11th, said that her birthday was changed forever for her with all the memories attached to it after the Twin Towers fell. I’m sad to say we lost her as well recently due to an unfortunate accident. So, I remembered her as well, and am thankful for the two beautiful grandchildren she left behind for me to share time with.

It is not an easy planet right now. Not that the earth has ever really rested completely comfortably because, in the end, it is a globe populated with human beings replete with all their foibles and missteps. Perhaps 9/11 is a day to remember how much we have to be thankful for, and be reminded in the end we’re all trying to survive as best we can and not as different from one another as it might sometimes appear.

Have a great day. Remember those who bravely went in to help and never came out, those who were in the buildings that fell, and those amazing passengers who brought down the second plane before it could reach the intended target. Bless them all and bless us as we move forward. We are left behind as caretakers of this glorious planet and I believe we need to step up and do a far better job.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: