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Archive for the ‘climate change’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hamburgers are on the menu for dinner tonight at our house. You can pretty much gauge my mood by what I’ve got planned for the evening meal. Right at the top of my comfort food list you would find in bold capital letters and underlined, “cheeseburgers”. Funny isn’t it, how comforting food can be? Perhaps that’s why so many people in the country are overweight? Being handed a bowl of hot chili in the winter, is like being offered a warm blanket on a frigid night. Food is the obvious solution for so many problems to my mind. Your boss is an idiot? A Kit-Kat will make it all better. Your husband ran off with the cleaning lady? Wolf down an entire bag of double dip Oreos and that will mend a few holes in that broken heart. If we’re not eating away our problems, we are numbing them into submission with alcohol or drugs. It’s the American way. Let’s face it, none of us want to feel the pain in our lives, particularly when it becomes oppressive. So much easier to drown our misery in a caramel frapucinno or bury it in a couple of oversized tubs of brownie batter ice cream. I know for me, simply saying the words “I’ll have four number three’s please, oversize it” into a microphone, makes a bad day feel better. Easy peasy. Please believe me, there’s no finger pointing going on here on my part, simply making some observations. Why do you think cheeseburgers and home made fries are on my menu tonight? My hands are definitely not clean, if you get what I’m sayin.

Believe me I am hardly one to talk. I am a good pusher of feelings. Push, push, push. It wasn’t until things were spinning out of control in my early thirties, I realized this method of handling my innermost turmoil, was not proving to be an effective way to manage my life. Now, I didn’t exactly come to this conclusion on my own during an epiphany over my cheese omelet. Noticing my life was taking on water, and the boat slowly sinking, I sent up a distress signal. This resulted in me soliciting the help of a wonderful therapist who guided me through some of the rougher currents. With her assistance, I began to figure out why, though I was paddling really hard, I wasn’t finding my way to the shore. I hope you didn’t get seasick with all those ocean analogies. Please understand, going through that soul discovering journey does not mean I found all the answers to my problems. Not even close. I work on plugging up the holes every day (Sorry, I can’t seem to help myself today.). It only means, I took the time to stop and take a look at what I was doing, rather than just doing, and began to explore which behaviors worked for me and those I needed to cut loose and allow to move away from me. As I’ve said many times, I am a creature of many flaws. The difference being, now I can examine my flaws daily and manage to love myself anyhow, and have learned to make friends with these dents in my armor. Along with my finer qualities, these less desirable traits are an integral part of the whole that makes me who I am.

Though I may still enjoy a good juicy cheeseburger with all the trimmings when my life is threatening to overwhelm me, I try also to deal with what is on my plate, aside from consuming the perfectly seasoned ground beef. This isn’t always easy for me. For example, in the last two months four boils have risen up one after another on the lower half of my face. Fortunately, we are wearing mask, so no young children have been traumatized by these events. Also, thanks to a good dose of antibiotics, my facial features have returned to their pre-eruption smooth landscape. Whew. I am not subject to boils as a norm. However, skin, being the largest organ, as well as one we can see, it is often the first to reflect signs of stress in our bodies. Though stress definitely effects all organs in our body, skin is the only one where the effects become immediately obvious. When I was going through a particularly angst filled time with an ex-husband, I ended up with psoriasis over 70% of my body. Never had it before, nor have I experienced it since. It took me a year of light treatments, nightly soakings, a myriad of creams and prescriptions, and releasing the ex-husband, to right that ship. Not boarding that cruise again, so deal with my feelings I must and will do. Dramamine anyone?

Yesterday began like a Monday, and continued to behave like one all the way through the day. At 8:00 I showed up at the DMV to complete my application for my California ID. There are extensions in place for getting this done in place due to Covid, but I like to move things off my to-do list as quickly as possible, that way I don’t have to think about them. On the DMV website it was suggested you make an appointment. Right. You click on “yes, make an appointment” and are redirected back to “yes, make an appointment”. Fine. So, I completed my application, gathered the necessary supporting paperwork, put a bottle of water in my purse and headed to the DMV with no appointment in place. The seats were fairly occupied but there were several in the back with no one seated directly next to them. Everyone was wearing a masks except one couple. There is always one in the crowd. Also there was one guy who had a mask on, but it was pulled underneath his chin. I haven’t read the CDC guidelines word for word, but I don’t believe this is the suggested way to wear one. Just sayin.

My number was G12. The PA voice was calling G01 when I sat down. Didn’t seem like too long of a wait, but that was before I discovered there were “B” people waiting as well as “G” people. K. All about letters and numbers at the DMV it would seem. About an hour later, my number was getting close to the starting gate. The “G” man before me totally lost it with a clerk about a registration snafu with regard to his mother’s car. I know this, because he was yelling loud enough to trigger a car alarm in the parking lot. After enjoying a meltdown any two year old could have been proud off, he tore his mask off, threw it on the ground, and stomped out of the building throwing all his paperwork up in the air on the way out the door. We all watched as the papers floated to the ground, nobody saying a word, as if this is what one does when exiting the building. Love human nature. Fascinating really. “Next.” Oh, that would be me. I had to produce my actual green card. My name is listed on my immigration card with my middle name, as that is what is required by their office. All good. However, my driver’s license has only the initial. Apparently the DMV system didn’t like this, so it kept spitting out the application. Forty-five minutes later, it finally decided M was a good enough equivalent for Maureen and we were off to the races. Sigh. Next, the clerk had me stand in front of a blue screen to have my picture taken. She told me to smile, so I did. It won’t matter, I will still look like a felon when my card arrives, but what the heck, I’ll play. Holding the smile for what seemed like fifteen minutes, my lips were beginning to get stiff. Relaxing for a moment, I asked if we were done. Exactly at that moment, the flash went off. Should be an interesting shot. Anyhow, done and done.

Before leaving the house to go to the DMV, I changed the sheets on both beds. Love clean sheet day. There’s nothing like climbing into clean sheets after a long hard day, particularly if they were hung on the line to dry. Nobody does that anymore, I don’t think. When I was growing up, my grandmother always hung her sheets out “to get some fresh air” during the summer months. Coming home this morning with my California ID mission completed, I went in my bedroom to change and get on with the business of the day. Dead center in the middle of my freshly clean blanket was a huge mass of ewwwwww. At first I thought it to be some sort of creature that had possibly crawled up there after meeting a nasty end, but on closer inspection, I realized it was, in fact, a hair ball. Ewwwww, again, and it had friends. Friends on the pillow, friends on the carpet. Sigh. Last week I had taken Boo to the vet to be checked out for a suspected UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). They gave her a shot of a long lasting antibiotic that works on 65% of animals. Leave it to Boo, she has to be an over achiever, she obviously ranks among the unworkable 35%. The next step would be a urinalysis, and a culture. Those babies amount to $325 and change. She’s my cat, and I love her, so, of course, I’m going to do pay the ransom, but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to complain while I’m writing the check. Sooooooo, I called the vet and made an appointment for Boo to get further evaluated, then stripped the bed and threw the sheets back in the washer. Monday, Monday…….can’t trust that day. Go, Cass. That woman knew something.

Finally settling in with a soothing cup of chamomile tea, I picked up the stack of mail I’d brought in earlier. Second envelope in the pile had printed clearly in the left hand corner in bold letters “Internal Revenue Service”. It was addressed to my mother at this address. I believe I mentioned some blogs ago I was doing a couple of rounds with them over some unfiled tax returns of my mother’s. I spent $600 to get everything straightened out months ago, refiling the missing years. Before I opened this letter, I considered just burning it and not bothering to look at the document inside. The better side of me voted to go ahead and take a peek. Remind me not to get my better side her pumpkin spice latte next time she asks for a treat as we pass a Starbuck’s. Damn. After all the trouble my tax accountant and I went to, it was yet another demand letter for thousands of dollars which my mother doesn’t owe printed on half a ream of paper. Wow. Don’t they have more to do than to hound an elderly woman with dementia on hospice who’s only income is Social Security? I could give them a few leads to follow that would guarantee a much more satisfying end result. Let’s see Trump, Bezos, come to mind. Gets my Irish up.

So, Monday was a bit of a wash. Tuesday seems to be shaping up to look much better, but it’s early yet. We are all praying for our beautiful Lake Tahoe. Please put your good energy in the pile for the people living there and the glorious lake and landscape surrounding it. That gorgeous piece of California/Nevada real estate is now under siege by the Caldor Fire. So much of this lovely state has been devastated by the incessant and relentless fires, and fire season is just getting warmed up.

Keeping your chin up lately seems to require two men and a ladder. Have a great Tuesday.

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Birthday months are coming up in my family. I keep a calendar to remember all of them, but in spite of the effort, often find myself sending belated birthday cards these days. Too much going on to keep up with, and it leaves me feeling totally disorganized. My cat is sitting at my feet as I write this, waiting impatiently for her morning allotment of fishy treats. Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, could care less if I miss a birthday or two here or there, or if dinner is on time, or I’m behind schedule. Her main concern is four times a day I show up with two treats in my hand for her to enjoy. My, my, we are a tad self involved, even for a feline. Being her one and only well loved human, I do my best to keep her needs met. Keeping everybody happy is a job no applicant is qualified to fill. I know, I’ve tried for lo these many years. Finally, I have learned you have to keep yourself afloat, and then when you’re buoyant enough, you can lend a hand to pull others in the raft with the energy you have left.

The weather lady is saying another epic heat wave is headed our way. Oh goody. It’s supposed to reach 107 and above by Saturday. This will test people’s nerves as well as our electrical grid. Hopefully, it will not ignite any brush fires or create rolling blackouts. We have a generator sitting by the shed all primed and ready to go, but you can’t hook your A/C up to it. It’s only the first part of July, and already we are logging our third dangerous heat wave. This doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season. Personally, you could eliminate summer entirely for me, the way things seem to be headed, and leave the three other seasons for us to enjoy year round. As a kid, I could not wait for summer to arrive. Ahhhhh, sweet, lazy, crazy days of summer. No school, of course, was the main attraction, and it brought with it glorious long, hot, days filled with chlorine laced pools, bike rides along tree covered paths and backyard barbecues on the weekends. I can still picture my stepdad on the patio in his “Kiss the Cook” apron. The man could smoke, drink, and talk concurrently. He’d be flipping burgers and turning hot dogs, a lit cigarette dangling from his lips, and his martini glass glistening in the cone shaped glass next to him with an olive floating in it. Back then, other than the holidays, it was my favorite time of year. Not any more.

Since summer has arrived, whether I welcomed it or not, I decided to take a trip to my son’s next week. Recently he has upgraded his backyard and the pool area and he’s invited me to come and check it out. Having little access to swimming areas over the past few years, I didn’t have much need for swim wear. After looking at what my closet had to offer, I decided it was time to go bathing suit shopping. Not my favorite way to wile away an afternoon. It’s not that my body would cause young children to cringe in horror was I to expose it, mind you. However, though my weight has remained fairly static over the years, things aren’t as toned and firm as they could be. “You could go to the gym”, you say. Yes, I could. It’s not that I get no exercise, I walk every day, but I realize this does not have the same impact as taking up jazzersize, or zumba or whatever is fashionable with the impeccably cut ab group these days. Truth is, I am not one of those humans who can’t wait to pull on some Spandex and go work up a good sweat on an elliptical cross trainer or get up close and personal with some free weights. Actually, I’d rather be shot in the foot. There is a great gym not to far from my house. Pre-Covid I went down and took a tour. I talked myself into signing up for a year’s membership and then the virus showed up and blew the wind right out of that sail. Don’t feel sorry for me, there were no tears shed over this. Now I’m thinking about signing up once again. I’m not doing anything about it, but at least it’s shown up in the options for getting in shape column.

I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about getting older or the changes occurring to the body. Mostly, I’m just excited when I open my eyes in the morning and find I’m still here. Aging is part of life. Nobody is going to avoid it. Even those with the wherewithal to hire skilled plastic surgeons to pull up this up and tuck that in will eventually have to concede to the passage of time and go through the process with the rest of us. I still want to take a swim, and will continue to do so even when my body does scare young children, because life is to be lived and I intend to do exactly that for all the years I’m gifted with while on this earth.

So many of my friends worry endlessly about other people’s opinion of them. I try not to do this. It’s not I don’t care what people think about me, I do. I don’t think anyone enjoys being disliked or ridiculed. It is more I have come to the understanding every person I meet may not like me. Not every human I come in contact with will share my point of view, find my personality engaging, see humor where I do, or wish to spend time with me. This, in my estimation, is a fact of life. It does not mean I am a bad person, not likable, or obnoxious, though some might argue the point, but rather we all have different tastes and enjoy different types of people. I think we’ve all had people in our lives who instantly on meeting them we feel a strong connection. I am blessed to have a lot of dear friends who fit under this category. Then there are those people who you might have known for a long time who you will never share that special type of bond or friendship with. Doesn’t mean they aren’t good people, just not a connection of commonality you wish to foster on a deeper level.

I have reached a point where, though I’m still learning new things each and every day, I have pretty much set my sail in a particular direction and most likely that is the lane I will hold my course in. I do keep doing my best to adjust my lens when new opinions cross my desk, and keep my mind open to other ways of looking at a given subject or new concept. Nothing should be totally static in our lives, for that can create a stagnant state. Things can change tomorrow, they often do. My life has changed so many times up until now, I have run out of digits to count them on. Change, like growing older, is an expected part of being alive.

,Sometimes I think I’m ready to move again. My best friend is leaving California, my children are well established and busy with their lives, but where? This is not an imminent thing for sure. I have my mom to take care of and Dale, my companion, has cancer, so these are situations floating about in limbo riddled with question marks and unknowns. I will ride out each of these storms until the dust has settled once again in my world and the compass point is again directing my way. Being a bit of a fairy dust spreader, I hope my mother and Dale are with me far off in the distant future. The end to their stories, and mine, is yet left to be written in the great book chronicling our lives. It will be as it is, and all I can do is hold on tightly to the side of the boat and hope we all remain together until the end of the ride. Hope is such a powerful emotion. I’m glad when we were in the conception phase of being, our creator thought to include it in the original package. It’s like a warm blanket to wrap around us in cold harsh times.

Moving, as I’ve said many times, is not unfamiliar to me. Thirty-nine times I have packed up my worldly possessions and moved to another location. That’s a lot of packing paper to my credit. When my ex-husband and I got assigned to a job in Nitro, West Virginia we were at the time winding up a year and a couple of months in Arkansas. Moving was part of the landscape for the type of work he did, so Nitro was simply the next pin on the map. The spouses of those employed for the construction company he worked for were accustomed to having their lives uprooted and replanted somewhere else around the country. We formed a wives group, after a while, composed of those of us moving in similar circles. At one meeting, since most of us liked to cook, we decided to compile a cookbook of our time together, to include all our favorite recipes along with a story to accompany each contribution. Being the only artist in the group, I was tasked with creating a suitable cover. I came up with a picture of a woman, bent over, carrying all her wordly possessions on her back. It was a great success. Often I take out that old binder, pages now dotted with the usual grease stains and spill marks associated with someone who likes to work in the kitchen, and reread the stories included with each recipe or put one on the menu for dinner. I haven’t seen these ladies since that chapter of my life closed, but think of them often and the laughs and tears we shared. It was a time of great adventure on the open road. There was a real freedom associated with not hanging your hat too long in one location, paired with a sort of heady anticipation of what was to come around the bend on your next assignment. The enticing uncertainty associated with living your life in an unpredictable sort of way. After I had hung up my hard hat, as I worked a job or two myself, and David and I too had said our goodbyes, it took me a while to plant roots again in one spot without the restlessness whispering in my ear it was long past time to move on.

Nitro was an interesting place to find ourselves. David, my ex, worked at the plant located in Nitro itself, but we found a home to rent across the Kanawha River in St. Albans. A lot of people discount West Virginia as a great place to live, but truly the “mountain state” has a lot to offer. Visually it is quite beautiful, with a lot of gorgeous spots for a person taken with being outdoors to explore. We were to spend three years there on two separate trips, and of all the places we made our home over our eight years on the road, West Virginia would come to be remembered as my favorite. I will write more about my adventures there in my next blog. For now, I wish you a great day filled with exciting adventures.

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I am feeling decidedly world weary today. My mind is creating all kinds of scenarios. There’s the one where I am sitting in an outdoor cafe on the French Riviera or another with me basking on a sunny stretch of beach in Portofino. There are time in our lives when everything seems to come down on us at once. During those times, one of which I am currently experiencing, I try to find my center and stay balanced. Perhaps there hasn’t been enough air for me in between the last period of chaos and this one, for me to properly rebuild my stamina. Whatever the case, I am stumbling a little more often then I usually do when the chute opens and the garbage begins to tumble down. Please notice the white flag I am waving in my right hand. I am not signalling for the horses to leave the gate. Help.

My mother used to say, “You could throw Susan out a ten story window and that girl will always land on her feet”. Susan, by the way, is an address I only permitted from my mother and my grandmother. Susan is far too formal a name for the person I am, and whenever I hear my full name, I always assume I am in trouble. “Susan, get in this house right now”, was a familiar line thrown out our back door growing up. Susie, which is the name most people refer to me by, was my great grandmother’s name. I was named after Susie Mack, and from all accounts Susie was a bit of a character. I like to believe I take after her in that way. It is true, I am a survivor. That, in and of itself, is a gift. I try to pile the gifts I have in my life, which are many, on the plate with the less desirable things to keep everything equitable. Again, balance in all things.

To add to my crazy personal life, the weather isn’t cooperating. Those of us here in California, well on the west coast in general, are in the middle of the worst drought on record. My cousin in British Columbia said she was frying her breakfast on the sidewalk, and a dear friend in Oregon texted me it was 115 in her neighborhood. She and her husband were trapped in their house with three dogs watching the thermometer rise. Each year, it gets drier and hotter, while on the other side of the country it gets wetter and hurricane activity increases. I watched a news story this morning about how scientists can read the rings of the massive sequoias to tell the story of historical drought situations over hundreds of years. According to the rings, this one’s a pip. Our reservoirs statewide are at 50% and the snow pack melted two months earlier than it should have. With the fire situation being critical as well, it is more than a tad unnerving. As I said in my previous blog, if cows would quit burping and pooping we’d be in better shape. Hard to believe gassy cattle are contributing to global warming, but it seems to be a fact. I should have known I’d pay for a lifetime burger addiction in one way or another.

It is hard to keep positive when the world keeps throwing negative tomatoes in your face. However, the other day while driving I experienced one of what I call my “near perfect moments” which was a real shot in the arm. The day was beautiful, a nearly perfect summer day in California. For those of you who have been here and enjoyed such a day, you will understand the distinction. Blue, blue skies with white billowy clouds floating about, a slight breeze moving the warm air through the leaves of the trees, and a generally lazy feel as if time had slightly slowed down to an easier pace if only for the moment. Surely the sun comes up in other areas of the world, it just seems to do it so beautifully sometimes here on the western coast of the United States. I have been all across the USA, made my home in six states thus far, and as yet haven’t located anywhere I’d rather live. Don’t misunderstand me, each state I lived in had something good to offer, it’s just California always called me home again. Driving along, as I was saying, I had a moment. Creedance was telling me to “run through the jungle” on the radio, the sun was pouring in through the partially open window warming my back, and the road stretched out before me as if beckoning me to come along for the ride. Suddenly my heart was filled with such a thankfulness for being alive. It really was the most exhilarating feeling, bringing tears to my eyes and creating goosebumps running along my legs and arms. If I could bottle that feeling, I could buy an island in the pacific and retire in style.

Music always moves me. Sometimes when I’m home I crank up one of my favorites and lose myself in the melody and lyrics. Creedance, like many of the 70’s bands, often takes my mind back to my misspent youth. Recently I had a discussion with a dear friend of mine about the same age as myself. That age would be in between almost old and old, in case you are wondering. We were talking about how much we have seen and what we have lived through since planting our feet on the planet. Quite an impressive resume we have amassed, I have to say. I was born not to let any grass grow under my feet. It interests me that the kids coming up today seem to drag their feet when it comes to growing up. I was poised at the starting gate at eighteen and sprang out of the gate the moment the gun went off. I don’t believe I ever thought about remaining in my parent’s house once I was out of school, at least not for very long. My mother would have liked it if I never moved out. When I got married at nineteen it was very difficult for her to cut the ties that bound us. At my wedding reception, she consumed half the champagne available and was reduced to a blubbering, sobbing mess before I left on my honeymoon. At the time I had no children naturally (or at least hopefully), and at that age I was imbued with very little sense, so I didn’t have any understanding of why she was behaving in such a way. Now, of course, having children of my own, I get her “only chick”, as she likes to call me, was going out the garden gate and leaving her behind with an empty nest. Most valid things we learn, I have come to believe, come to us after we have at least turned thirty. Before that, we’re just a mold without shape. What business I had being married at nineteen defies logic. I did not possess one shred of life knowledge, and had not so much as a capful of experience or talent to bring to the table. I was as raw as a carrot in a roadside vegetable stand. I like to say, and there is some truth to it, I didn’t become a real girl (like Pinnochio) until I was fifty. That’s when some of the lessons I’d been given finally began to stick to the wall.

I have a huge repertoire of mistakes and wrong turns tucked away in my bag. I don’t carry them around with me anymore. I have already made my amends as best I could and put them away in my pile of lessons learned and promises broken. Each day I am given the opportunity to be better than I was the day before. I strive for that goal. Understand me, I often fall short, but I give myself at A for effort if I fall, and try to do better on the next day.

They say, though I don’t know for sure, that learning to love ourselves is the number one challenge in our lives. I know for me it wasn’t always easy. At this age I have found a comfortable spot in my own skin I call home and this is a good thing. In the process, I have come to love as well that little chubby girl who once greeted me in the mirror in the morning, so she can be at peace inside me. One thing I have learned through all this is to have compassion for the people around me. We are all human beings struggling to understand our world, our environments, the person sleeping on the pillow next to us, those who brought us into the world, those we brought into the world and most of all ourselves. I think of this a lot today because of the horrible tragedy going on in Florida with the condominium collapse. It is a striking example of the fragility of our lives. Makes you want to really appreciate the day and fill it with special people and happy moments.

So, on this rather introspective day, I send you a hug if you need one, or wish you a special dinner with someone you love, or a day at the beach with your kids or your dog, whatever makes your heart smile.

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Growing up, my world had touches of elegance in it. My grandmother’s table was the gathering place for evening meals, and it was always set beautifully. There were forks for salad, forks for the main course, pickle forks, and dessert forks. We had knives for cutting, butter knives, serving spoons, tea spoons, and soup spoons. Depending on what was on the menu for a given day, these utensils were placed around the dinner plates in order of their use. When offered a half a grapefruit, a serrated spoon could be found sitting next to it on the plate for the purpose of helping whoever was eating it easily remove the sections. Though I did not set the table per se, largely because I could never remember what went where, I did have a hand it creating the mood. My job, was to retrieve the silver napkin rings from the top drawer of the china cabinet and secure them around the cloth napkins. Though not exactly rocket science, I was assured dinner would not be the same without this piece of the puzzle. Though she had more than enough in her world, my grandmother was not a wasteful being. Even after paper napkins became readily available in the grocery stores, my grandmother never used them until she was much older. Even then, she would keep one that wasn’t badly soiled, and reuse it, as she felt throwing them out to be wasteful.

Before having her family, my grandmother was an R.N. Well, for the sake of clarity, she was still an R.N. after having four children, just not a practicing one. When my grandfather, a urologist, first opened his practice, Gammy (as I called her) was his nurse. There were not the disposable products available now, so exam tables were draped with cloth coverings and pillows covered with fabric pillow cases, each which had to be changed between patients. My grandmother would wash the linens in the basement, and then press them crisply on the large ironing machine before returning them to be reused. Few things came in disposable cartons at the time. Milk, for example, was delivered by the milkman (there’s a piece of logic that needs no explaining) in glass bottles. When the bottles were empty, they were put back on the stoop and returned to the farm or factory to be sterilized, refilled, and reused. There were no paper towels either back then. If you needed a towel in the kitchen, you used a dish towel. For messy clean ups, a rag was retrieved from the rag bin, then washed and thrown back in the bin to be used for the next spill. Nowadays, it seems everything is disposable. The problem is where does it go, once we have disposed of it? Today I made a trip to the dump. It was unbelievable the piles of trash they were dealing with, and the plastic!

I was thinking the other day, as a kid I was never handed a bottle of water. If I was thirsty, I walked over to the sink, turned on the faucet, and filled my glass. When playing outside, I turned on the spigot and ducked my head under the tap or grabbed the hose to quench my thirst. There wasn’t the endless amount of trash and debris spilling into our landfills and oceans all these “conveniences” have created. The companies pushing bottled water will tell you their water is drawn from some pristine Himalayan spring kissed by angels, and tiptoed across by the glistening toes of spirited water nymphs. Truth is, it is water. Yup, and they are not trying to hide that fact. If you look on the bottle that is what they call it and that, as they say, is what it is. Like most things in our life if packaged prettily it has more curb appeal. I liken it to going by a property on the market advertising an open house. You arrive at the address, only to find the front yard littered with trash, raccoons scurrying about on the roof and blinds hanging in shreds in the windows. Would you stop to take the tour? My guess would be no. I know I wouldn’t. Manufacturers sell everything with beauty or slick packaging. Gorgeous women are pictured leaning seductively on expensive sports cars, good looking men are featured trimming hedges in commercials peddling power tools. If a bottled water company tried to sell you water and said it was, well, water, why would you pay for it when it freely flows in your kitchen sink? Advertising. Executives are paid high salaries to research a potential client’s customer base and come up with ad campaigns designed to hit their demographic market. We are tracked, examined, and dissected like flies pinned to an entomologist’s board. What programs we tune in to every week, what kind of cars people our age prefer, are red trucks more popular than blue? So many questions and so many firms lined up to provide the answers and the demographics for whatever product a manufacturer is currently pushing on an unsuspecting public.

Ads when I was a kid showed camels puffing on non-filtered cigarettes, and happy people downing cool beers at the beach. These promotions, no longer appropriate for obvious health reasons, have been banned. Instead, we’re bombarded with endless commercials touting the latest hemorrhoid cream or whatever prescription medication is currently hot on the market. What’s unnerving about these blurbs, is after they sing the praises of how this pill eases back pain, or that pill cures shingles, then they start with the side effects. Good Lord. Makes you wonder if the cure isn’t often worse than the disease. In Rick’s case, he took thirteen pills a day. Several were to treat heart related issues. The pills he took for his heart, eventually affected his kidneys and they too began to go downhill.

Wouldn’t it be great if they put all that energy into working to stop or at least slow down the progress of this climate change? There’s no denying it anymore, our oceans are warming and the earth become hotter. This year here in the U.S. they are expecting 17-20 hurricanes. These massive storms are coming earlier in the season, and there are more of them than there used to be. While other parts of the country are struggling with the impact of these mighty winds, enduring flooding, and property loss, those of us living in the western part of the country are dipping into the extreme drought territory and preparing for a much more aggressive fire season. For me it is very scary. I am glad every day I sold my house up in the tall trees and moved down to the valley. Not that it is safe anywhere with our vegetation so dry and our reservoirs so low, it’s just a matter of the degree of threat. Mother Nature is serving us with notice that if we don’t change our ways she will exact consequences.

I try to leave the lightest footprint possible, but certainly don’t always succeed. When I cook I try to use whatever is leftover, if anything, so it doesn’t just get thrown out. I either freeze it and reintroduce it, or simply recreate it as something else. I have found leftover meatloaf can be used in spaghetti sauce, and chicken can be recycled in a myriad of ways. Uneaten ribs can be tossed in a pot of beans or thrown into a hearty soup. When I leave a bottle of water in the car, I save it and pour it on my plants. I wash my clothes and dishes when the tubs are full, and keep my air conditioning at a comfortable level but not icy cold. Also, with the current drought in California I purchased more water resilient plants like succulents this year that wouldn’t require constant watering. If each of us added a few extra steps to our day or slightly adjusted our behavior, we might be able to dial back some of the damage our negligence has already created. We won’t be here to tend the earth fifty years from now, but most likely our children and theirs will. I hope there is something left to tend.

On that note, I will leave you for today to do good things. Have a great one!!

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