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Archive for the ‘covid-19’ Category

Were I a knee, I would describe myself as out of joint. I feel uncomfortable, like my life doesn’t quite fit me properly anymore. I suspect this is because I am in the process of shedding my old life as I knew it, and stepping into a totally different and unfamiliar new one. I don’t like it. I don’t like this unsettled muddled feeling at all. Sometimes, I wish I still enjoyed a dry martini now and then. It’s not I don’t drink at all these days, I do here and there, but I can’t remember the last time I downed a martini. I find my life works just fine without alcohol on most days, with the desire for a cocktail usually only popping up in social situations, which have been less frequent over the past couple of years with the virus running amok. Perhaps this uneasy feeling is partly due to the pandemic? It has been two years now, and I think the impact of being constantly vigilant has finally caught up with me. People are getting cranky, stores are low on supplies, and prices are heading up every week. I spent $109 at the store the other day and came home with eggs, cheese and kitty litter. I could not believe the little cheeses I used to pick up for what I considered an extravagant $4.99 are now selling for $11.99. Apparently along with supply chain issues the rising prices are also linked to the rising minimum wage. Don’t misunderstand me, I think workers in any field should be paid a living wage. However, it doesn’t stop there. Rick used to say the problem with raising the minimum wage is that prices go up commensurably leaving us in the same situation we were before the minimum wage went up. It’s a dilemma for sure how to deal with the inflation running rampant at the moment, plus the virus which has one again mutated to take another huge toll on our population. Glad I’m not running this country. You should be glad as well because I find balancing my checkbook an all day affair.

My first husband, the children’s dad, was a genius with numbers. Truly, he was just a genius at so many things. Math was never my strong suit. I endured high school algebra and geometry, but cruised through both classes by the skin of my pearly white teeth. One of my first, and the shortest, job I ever had was working as a bank clerk. I showed up for work at eight, spent the entire morning adding and then adding again huge columns of numbers never getting the same total one single time. You’d think with random luck I might have accidentally hit it more than once, but not that day. I went home at lunch and never came back. Instead I called my new boss and said she would thank me down the road for submitting my resignation, and wished her well on finding a more suitable replacement. Thankfully, there has been much forward progress since then.

Fortunately I haven’t had to add much of late. I have found myself a bit flat this January, as if a lot of air had leaked out of my tires. Dale used to say when he got like that he needed “spiritual food”. Thinking that advice could never be bad for my overall mental health, I got together with his daughter and sister-in-law, both very spiritual beings, to help me reinflate my tires. Yesterday we met “virtually” in person and spent a couple of hours outlining our intentions for the upcoming year. The idea was to create a vision board with pictures indicating our goals, dreams, and aspirations for 2022 to help us focus on where we want to go and what we want to achieve. For me at least, it definitely reinflated my spirit and rebooted my energy. I may not accomplish everything I listed, but at least I have created a loose game plan for myself to follow. If you don’t have some plan of action it’s like sending a football team out on the field with no playbook. They may all be excellent players but once the whistle blows everyone will be running around willy nilly with no united goal in sight.

Trips are definitely in the offing over the next months. I do not want to sit here in my sweet little house watching the grass grow. One of my first trips will be in May. I am meeting a friend who I haven’t seen in over twenty years in Redding for a four day getaway. We chose Redding because, a) there are lots of things to see and do in that area, and, b) it is roughly the halfway point between where I live in the Sacramento area and she lives around Salem, Oregon. While there, I am going to satisfy two of my bucket list items which are seeing the Celtic Women perform live and going zip lining. This is exciting stuff. Well, it’s exciting for me at least. I can’t speak for how riveting it is for you on your end.

I watched “Places in the Heart” around 3 a.m. last night. Saying that, gives you a glimpse into how well my new sleep aid is working. There is a scene in the movie where the newly widowed character Sally Field is playing goes into the bank to get instruction on how to write a check. Before he was killed, her husband had handled all the finances. Now, without him, everything, including raising the children and keeping a roof over their heads fell totally to her. I identified with that scene, having been there myself many years ago. It brought into perspective for me how far my journey has taken me since then. Over the years, through trial and error, I have discovered what works in my life and what does not. I like to think like powdered sugar on a freshly baked donut, the best and most useful of what I’ve picked up has stuck to my sides, while the rest of it that either didn’t work for me or was not needed, has sluffed off and been left behind.

One of the items I pinned on my vision board, was learning new things. My goal is to learn several new skills, or at least try them on for size, every month. To this end, I bought a mason jar. Inside the jar I placed folded pieces of paper with the skills I would like to aim for this month. At the end of the month I will look at those I have actually completed, acknowledge I did them, and toss them. Those left in the jar I will roll over into February and see it perhaps I can accomplish them during that time, and so on. Yesterday, I tried out the first one, hanging it on the line to see how it looked. I signed up for a beginning watercolor class on line. Now, I have been dabbling in art since I was in elementary school, many times earning my living with my creative skills. Watercolor, however, has always been an art form I have been interested in but never pursued. At the assigned time, I signed into Zoom with the other students and picked up my brush. There was a pre-assigned list of supplies to gather, which I’d laid out before me. Also, we had been instructed to download a sketch and duplicate it on watercolor paper before tuning into the class. Done and done.

The instructor, a woman and apparently a teacher on the college level, was chatty and helpful. The student’s video buttons were engaged, but we couldn’t unmute so the only voice heard was the instructor Oh, and her dog, Nelson. Nelson actually wandered in and out of camera range occasionally offering a bit of input on what he was observing. For me being unable to ask questions or share ideas was like having one hand tied behind my back and trying change a tire. I am more comfortable in a classroom where there is an exchange of ideas. This was my first virtual art room. I have to say I prefer meeting in person but like everything right now we are safer apart than huddled together so virtual meetings are safer and more convenient. The sketch we had been given to reproduce was of water lilies. Our first task from the instructor, was to paint our leaves in a wash of green. I was almost done with the first leaf, there were three, when I looked up to see the teacher (all three leaves washed) moving on to the lilies themselves. Ach. Hello, unmute, unmute, expletive. Oh. Anyhow, I abandoned my leaves for the first lily and as I was busy washing pink across my flowers, I heard the teacher telling us to move on the the pistil. Her flowers, of course, were done. I believe the pistil is the center circular part of the flower often yellow in color. However, I can’t be sure of this because I was in mute mode and couldn’t inquire. The instructor was painting that part of her flower, so I abandoned my pink petals and squeezed a blob of yellow on my pallet and began to paint the first of my pestils. Before you could say Leonardo de Vinci the instructor was holding up her completed picture and asking us to do the same. At that point, I hit my no video button as well and waved my goodbyes. Once I signed off, I sat and finished the picture at my leisure which, surprisingly, I really like. There’s one little folded piece of paper in my Mason jar reading “take an art class” headed for the trash bin come February 1st. Yay. There’s an old saying I heard a lot while living in the south I think applies here, “Do something, even if it’s wrong”. I believe the lesson here is that it is better to try and fail then to not try at all. There ya go.

Funny how doing one thing often begets another. Once done with my lilies, I felt the urge for the first time in over a year to pull out my sketch book and drawing tools. For the rest of the day I sat happily at the table creating the first drawing I’ve done since my life became more stressful. What a lovely sense of relief it was to find myself bent over my pencil again. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever feel a movement in that direction again.

So, create something different in your life today. Take a different route to work, eat something you’ve never tried before. Be brave, make a difference.

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Someone said to me the other day, “you are a warrior”. I don’t view myself that way at all. Am I am fighter? Absolutely. I will continue to try to reach the surface no matter how many times the waves push me back down below the water line. That is a truth I know about myself. My mother used to say I was like one of those inflatable clowns with sand in the bottom. You knock me down, and I spring back up. It’s often hard to identify our own strengths. Certainly it is difficult, at least for me, to have a spotlight shined on them. Two things I am skilled in, I have to say are, I am good at defraying compliments and excellent at not asking for help. If someone tells me I look pretty, until recently I would answer, “Really? I couldn’t do anything with my hair”, or I would alert them to a cold sore threatening to rise up below my lip, in case they wanted to rethink their assessment. I don’t think I’m alone in this. If you say something negative about someone they often nod there heads vigorously in acknowledgement and say, “I know. I’m working on it.” In turn, you might compliment a recent weight loss in a friend, and get in return “I still have twenty pounds to lose”. Thank you, is all that is needed by way of reply. Two simple words we should have little difficulty forming with our mouths. Why can’t we just say them when told something pleasant about ourselves? So easy to see our dark sides, and so uncomfortable for us to embrace our positive traits. Unless, of course, you’re a narcissist. You know who you are. If that description fits you to a tee, you point out your own good traits and accomplishments, and expect others to do the same. Aside from working on being able to handle someone saying something nice or complimentary to me, receiving help from other people would be another area I have begun to do some strong work on.

Before Dale got deep into his cancer journey, I ordered a work station on the Internet. I hesitate to do that usually, because furniture of any type always requires assembly. It’s not that I can’t do it, I’d just rather not. Even when Dale was in the house, I would be the one sitting on the floor with parts strewn all around me. To me, it’s like a puzzle, and I do love a good puzzle. Usually I can manage to figure it out in spite of the spotty instructions often included with the item, but this work station would prove to be a project I just could not take over the finish line. For two days I grappled with the *x!!!## thing. To begin with, the directions were abysmal, and I’m being polite here. Supplied with the hardware was a one page sketch. Whatever genius drew it, he made it an overlap of diagrams supposedly constructive in guiding you through the assembly process. Not. To add to the mix, the pieces are heavy and cumbersome, and are hard for one person to hold onto to screw in parts, etc. At one point such bad language was crossing my lips, even the cat went under the bed and put her paws over her ears. Some projects like this I have been able to actually “eye” and put together. This one I couldn’t manage with both eyes, the sketchy sketch, and a team of builders. Good Lord. Finally, with my blistered hands, I hoisted the white flag up the pole and said “ENOUGH”. Before placing the parts back in the box, putting the box in the middle of the street, and annihilating the whole thing with my vehicle, I picked up my phone. Yes, I really did. Dale has a dear friend who extended a hand to me recently should I need help with anything around the house. Looking at his kind text on my phone, I stood frozen for ten minutes before actually banging out a message in the sand reading “H.E.L.P.”. Quickly he responded and reinforcements showed up after lunch today. Easy peasey but not for me. Oh no, not for me. I absolutely loathe admitting I can’t do it myself. This is definitely a personality defect I need to improve on. Somewhere in my minds file cabinet I have sorted and compiled information which tells me asking for help is a) inconvenient for the person I am asking, b) a sign of incompetence on my part that I cannot complete the task without assistance, and c) they might turn me down (ouch), and that would be embarrassing. In reading up on the subject I was surprised and interested to find that one has to be more evolved as a human to reach out and ask for assistance. Oh-oh. Asking for help allows you to a) move forward from the point where you have become stuck, b) possibly work with someone to get the job done whose company you enjoy, and c) learn something from the experience. Who knew?

After acknowledging as I said,the directions were virtually useless, my rescuer began the business of putting the work station together without them. To be fair, he has been in the construction for many years giving him a decided edge on me (if you’ll pardon the construction pun). In forty minutes, he had the unit up and fully assembled. Sometimes, you just need a guy. I thanked him profusely for taking time out of his day to help me. I bagged up all my leftover Halloween candy for him to take home for his trouble. Not much of a paycheck, but it was all he would take. He told me it made him feel good to help out. There’s another reason to ask for help once and a while, the person helping gets to feel good when they lend a hand. Many lessons written on the board today.

Before he arrived, I got my Moderna booster shot at a local pharmacy. Looking up the documents required, I noticed they wanted the COVID card from my previous shots. I have the website in my contacts on my phone where I can pull up the official records which I have used everywhere I’ve been asked for proof of vaccination. I figured this would be sufficient. Never out think yourself. You are asking for trouble. I arrived ten minutes prior to my appointment as instructed. Atta girl. Waiting in line, I took my turn at the counter telling the girl why I was there. Immediately, she asked for the COVID card. When I explained I had the official site on my phone, after conferring with the pharmacist, she said that would be fine. I pulled it up, inserted my password and bupkus. Why? Really why? Perhaps I should have checked the password before leaving the house? Fine. So, I got in my car and hot footed it back to the house and retrieved the actual card from my files. Back in the car, I made the third trip down the same route back to the pharmacy where I got in line. Sigh and double sigh. Finally, I stuck my arm out and got dosed. Whew. Hopefully, the half dose won’t produce the same two days of misery the two prior full doses did. I have a lot to do this week and don’t want to do it lying flat on my back.

Dale’s Celebration of Life is on Sunday. Apparently nearly three hundred and fifty people will be attending both virtually and in person. I’d have to raffle off a new Mercedes to have that many people at my funeral. Such a friendly and giving human being. You really do get back what you give out. He will be sitting in a corner at the event somewhere like a little leprechaun taking it all in. I have to put together a program some time over the next day or two so counting on the universe to shine her light somewhere else for a bit so I can make some forward movement.

A funny thing happened yesterday morning. Whether you believe people who have passed on send signs or not, this made me happy. After Rick died, there were so many signs that he was still in the neighborhood, but with Dale they have been fewer, though not non-existent. I was in my bedroom around eight o’clock. I had looked out into my back yard and was deciding whether or not to add raking the leaves to my list of chores for the day. Coming out into the living room, I switched on the news. Hearing the weather report, it seems a storm with wind was heading our way. I decided raking the leaves would be a rather fruitless endeavor as the storm would undoubtedly distribute a new layer. This news, let me say, did not break my heart. Feeling a bit melancholy, I once again went to my room to retrieve something. Passing my window, I again stopped to look out. Just at that moment, three balloons floated down from the sky landing on my patch of grass in the far yard. The wind turned the middle balloon around to reveal a huge smiley face on the front of the balloon. Whether you believe or not, and I happen to, that made me smile.

So, as it turned out I spent a miserable night tossing and turning dealing with burning skin, muscle aches, and a headache. This reaction is not as severe as the original two injections, but I’m missing a lovely lunch with a friend because of it, and that chaps my hide. I’m glad it’s done now. Hopefully life will find the needle pointed more in the normal section of the dial. Have a great day!!!

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Halloween items are lining the shelves of late. Yay. I do love this time of year. Being a November 1st baby is probably why I so strongly identify with this particular holiday. I missed being titled a creepy little kid by a mere five hours, some would say there was a bit of overlap. My mother, when talking about my birth, always says I was the biggest kid in the nursery. I’m sure this is an exaggeration on her part, but I have to admit, according to my birth certificate I did weigh in at 9 lbs. 9 oz., a pretty fair size for a newborn. Mother, who likes a good story, says when looking in the nursery at all the “normal” size infants, she could always pick me out of the crowd because my feet were draped over the end of the bassinete, and I was holding up a sign reading “When’s lunch”? Funny woman, my mother. In my defense, my mom gained nearly sixty pounds when pregnant. Before finding out she had an egg in the nest with me, she had a miscarriage. When she found herself expecting again, terrified of losing a second baby as well, she just stayed in and baked, eating what she produced, til I was born. There is so much in that sentence that explains my life thus far, but I’ll save that for my next therapist visit.

I often think I would like to have a baby again. If I did come up in the family way at this age, the talk show circuit would be mine to command. I had my children so very young, both arriving before my twenty-second birthday. I don’t think I fully appreciated the amazing experience I was having at the time I was living through it. Maybe I did, and don’t remember it. That would be in line with about everything else I don’t remember these days like where I put my reading glasses, and what happened to the coffee cup I was drinking out of two hours ago?

Babies are on my mind this gorgeous almost fall morning because the youngest member of our clan, Zeppelin, is about to turn three. Lately, his two favorite words are “no, not”, used in tandem, as an indicator he is an active member of the “almost three” age group. I do love little people. Engaging them allows you to stir up your childhood memories and actually act a bit childlike yourself in the process. Dinosaurs are the name of the game for Mr. Z. He wears them proudly on nearly every item of clothing he owns, small replicas fill his toy bins, and when I visit he tells me about the pterodactyls populating the trees in his back yard. National Geographic has not gotten hold of the news of this resurrection yet, so please keep it under your hat.

I haven’t written in a while because I caught a bug last week that took me down. Because Dale is compromised due to lung cancer, I had to sequester myself in the bedroom until the symptoms abated. After dealing with this bug for three days I dragged myself out of bed and went to urgent care. I wanted to eliminate a second round of Covid. Thankfully, that test came back negative. I did, however, manage to attract another virus going around locally. This one was no walk in the park either. Aside from the upper respiratory irritations it brought to the party, such as a wracking cough and perpetually running nose, every part of my body from my ear lobes to my toenails hurt. These no-see-ums can be really annoying when they take up residence in your body. Exhibiting Covidlike symptoms, I was instructed to wait outside in my car and call the desk to let them know when I had arrived, and not to enter the building. Alerting them I was there, a young woman dressed as if prepared to meet someone recently exposed to chemical warfare arrived shortly and opened the door to escort me in. The nurse had on a face mask, a face shield, a hat attached to hose, foot coverings and gloves, along with numerous other protective gear. I felt a bit like a leper being whisked off to Molokai. After determining Covid was not the villain in the piece, I was sent home to rest and drink plenty of liquids and ride out the storm til it passed. Turns out they didn’t welcome my germy self at home either, so I climbed in my bed with a cup of hot tea and instructions to remain in bed until I was symptom free, and there I have stayed. Thankfully, the cat is less discerning. She truly has been at my side since I got sick. Last night I woke up to find her sleeping around my head with one paw across my face. God bless animals they really are far the superior beings. Sigh.

Getting behind like this means a week to catch up on everything sitting around gathering dust while I was lolling about under the covers. There are bills to be paid, toilets to be cleaned, and so much general doings to be pulled together and gotten done. I feel sometimes lately like a little hamster running about on her wheel pedaling furiously and getting off after a good workout only to find myself much in the same place I was when I got started. Perhaps that is why I was so attractive to the pesky little germs in the first place, I’ve allowed myself to get run down. Self care is really important, especially if you are a caregiver for another person. Usually I am fairly good at making sure I get a few moments off to myself for a pedicure or to do some unnecessary shopping, but lately things have been moving at a fairly fast pace and I haven’t been as good about it. Perhaps this is the universe’s way of saying, “Slow down, Susie girl, and stop to smell the coffee”.

For three weeks now I’ve been waiting for a side table I ordered to arrive. The table it is replacing has been sold and the contents stored in it are now lining my floor in the dining room waiting for their new home. Every time I checked the tracking number it read “Pending – no delivery date scheduled”. Originally, it had moved nicely across the U.S. from the east coast, arriving a week and a half ago in Sparks, Nevada, about an hour and a half from where I live. I called when it was late by several days and was told to wait a couple of more days and call back. I called back in three days when it still didn’t arrive. The status remained Sparks, Nevada, “Pending – no delivery date scheduled”. After waiting on the phone in the loop of the store I ordered it from for about a half an hour, the customer service rep came on the line and, guess what, suggested I wait a couple of days and call back. Sure, I don’t have anything better to do with my life. Soooo, I called back for the third time yesterday and told them I was not going to call back again, and would like a refund. Got notice this morning my shipment was on it’s way. Hopefully, it will actually arrive today. The squeaky wheel. Smile.

I’ve had my windows open all day today with a lovely fall breeze wafting through the house. The last time I was out I was happy to notice the leaves had begun to change color on some of the trees around town and hints of fall are clearly noticeable on the hillsides. Yay. It will be time to watch “To Kill a Mockingbird” for the three thousandth time pretty soon. It is an autumn ritual for me to revisit Scout, and Atticus and Jeb. Truly Harper Lee’s novel and the movie adaptation are among my favorite haunts this time of year.

Hope this finds you well and up and out on this glorious day.

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Dale’s phone went under this week. We had a lovely ceremony by the recycle bin. Sorry I didn’t get the invites out. That being said, the morning following we were fourth in line at his provider’s store when they opened, to purchase him a new one. For Dale, his phone is an extension of his hand. This, unlike me, who can never find my phone and when I do wish I had left it alone and let it remain lost. One salesperson was manning the oars. He explained there would be a wait. True to his word, it took about a half an hour until we were finally seated across from him at his desk. All good, it’s not like the Queen was coming for lunch. The salesman, David, turned out to also be the owner of the establishment, and a really nice, and extremely helpful human being. He apologized again for the wait. I suggested he needed more faces behind the three empty service desks. He explained he had ads running in the hopes of hiring people, but unlike several years ago when twenty people submitted their resumes a half an hour after he placed an ad, nowadays resumes dribbled in at an alarmingly slow rate, and he couldn’t fill his open positions. At one point, he asked me if I wanted to sign up. Well, I would, but I have a lot of irons on the fire, and am probably not the most reliable candidate for any position at the moment.

After poking about the unresponsive phone for any signs of life, he was thankfully able to revive it long enough to retrieve the information before it went dark for the last time. We thanked it for its service and looked at the options available for a replacement. My Iphone11 was sitting on the desk. Noticing it, David commented I too would be needing an upgrade pretty soon. Please, this was the upgrade. I just purchased for a car payment and change eight months ago. I will have to limp along without the next and best technology for a little while I’m afraid.

Another upgrade I probably need and won’t get anytime soon is my GPS. I know everybody uses their cell phones to navigate but I started with my GPS, and I’m nothing if not loyal. Rick and I ordered our first unit to eliminate what I referred to as his “road rage”, well before it was a fashionable term. The rage was not directed towards inconsiderate drivers on the road, but rather at me sitting in the passengers seat trying to decipher a map. Why is it men hand their spouses a map and expect us to be the tour guide when we have never been where we are going either? Just because I have a printed map in front of my face does not guarantee I have any idea where I am. Maps can be confusing and difficult to follow. The GPS immediately lifted the burden of guiding us places off of me, and transferred it to the lady who lives in the device, who we came to call Eleanor. I don’t know why. Eleanor was such a blessing. Even when she occasionally went off grid, she had all the animus coming her way when we found ourselves going in circles, while I basked in a glow of blissful indifference.

Last Friday I packed up my essentials, got in the car, and programmed Eleanor to guide me to my son’s house in the Bay Area. It’s not that I don’t know where to locate my children without benefit of electronic equipment, but my son has recently moved, and I’ve only been to the new house once since the pandemic reshaped our lives. There’s something so freeing about driving along listening to music. My particular favorites are found on the 70’s classic rock stations. Rolling along with Creedance or Lynyrd Skynyrd makes my soul smile. Thankfully, the freeways though packed with the usual burden of cars, didn’t create any log jams on the way down. My son and his girlfriend share a large home on an equally large lot which they need to accommodate the five children they share together. They are great kids, but whether great or not, five kids between the ages of eleven and twenty means there aren’t a lot of unfilled moments. The house and grounds are set up to keep them occupied, it worked well for me too. I played ping pong, water volley ball, and all variety of board games. We walked, talked, ate, and generally had a great time. By the time I got in the car and pointed it towards home I just put it on auto-pilot and let whoever that guy is in there commiserate with Eleanor to get me to my destination. Whew. When you’ve had a year and a half of boring inactivity, getting all the fun thrown at you in one weekend without a diffuser can be exhausting.

I went into several stores while visiting, and was surprised to find everyone wearing masks again. We’re doing the two steps forward, one step back routine in would seem. The national health group was saying on the news we have a glut of vaccine that is going to go to waste because nobody is signing up to relinquish their arms. Wow. That is sad news to me. That’s like like saying I have a burn, I have salve available to make the pain go away, but I’m not going to use it because I don’t want to be told what to do. I will never understand this mentality, but there you go. One of the things I am working on, because my psyche is always a work in progress, is learning to accept that, yes, others can entertain a different point of view than myself. I know! It just seems wrong doesn’t it? In this case, however, these decisions effect us all. I do not want to go back to Point A again, when we have a way to go forward not backward, but what can you do? Since I am now fully vaccinated, and have lived through the virus, I am trying to live my life in a somewhat normal way and hopeful that at some point this will all be behind us.

It was interesting to watch the two billionaires soar toward the stars recently. They weren’t long flights, but seemed very successful in doing what they were intended to do. Many people were polled and asked if they would be interested in exploring the galaxy, and I was surprised a high percentage of the group interviewed had no interest at all in what is out there. If we don’t start taking better care of this planet, we might not have a choice but to begin looking for another to inhabit. I’m just saying. I did hear this morning that they have learned that cows have an enzyme in their stomachs that will absorb or process plastic. That’s interesting. Plastic is becoming a big problem in our world. As a kid I drank my water out of the tap in the kitchen or stuck my head under the hose nozzle outside. I’m not fully convinced that because it comes in a plastic bottle these days it’s somehow better for you, but, again, I’m open to discussion on that.

I am glad to be back home. The much needed break was so appreciated but it’s always nice to return to my comfy old bed with its valleys and hills contoured to my body, and to see Dale and Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, who though she wouldn’t admit it, misses me when I’m gone.

Anyhow, have a good hump day.

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This week has been hectic. I feel a bit like I’ve been running a marathon and finally crossed the finish line, tired but not beaten. Whew. My mother celebrated a milestone birthday. In deference to the fact she doesn’t like her age revealed, let’s just say she’s not a centurion as yet, but she’s marching steadily in that direction. I am seriously hoping we will be celebrating her 105th birthday one of these days. Since we are both fully vaccinated and past the two week grace period following the second shot, I got to hug her for the first time in a year. Cannot tell you how satisfying that was. Contact with other living creatures is so important to our well being, or at least I know it is for mine.

Even animals need companionship. Last night on the news they featured a story about a stray dog in North Carolina. The dog, a one year old male, had repeatedly sneaked into a Dollar Store when customers opened the door to visit a stuffed purple unicorn. Store employees, exhausting all efforts to deter the animal from entering the store, finally called in Animal Control to arrest the pup for breaking and entering. The officer, after assessing the situation, and the potential criminal, dropped $10 on the counter for the unicorn and took the dog and stuffed back to the animal shelter with her to look for a new home. Sisu, named by shelter employees after a character in Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, has now found his forever home with the condition he and the unicorn be adopted together. Awwwww. I don’t know why, I just love that story.

We all need someone to love. I know my step is a bit lighter these days having someone to do for and go places with again. I am fine by myself and quite able to build a live without a mate, but I have to say I find more satisfaction when I have another being in my life to share things with. Aside from having my family, and a new man in my life, truly I am blessed with such a great group of friends. I wouldn’t trade any one of these beings for anything in the world. Well, except perhaps a lifetime supply of In N Out burgers or one night with Nick Nolte as he looked in the Prince of Tides. Just kidding (well, almost). As you get further along in life, the people who populate your world become far more important and rich than what you possess or what you perceive you need.

Today my new bed is arriving. It is with mixed feelings I say goodbye to the old one. Rick had just bought it when we first met. We spent our first days on that bed and our last days together lying next to one on that mattress. Like all things, its time has come to an end. My back is shaking my hand heartily every day for making this decision, though the cat is far less enthusiastic about it. We had to dismantle the whole bed on Friday night. A young couple was coming Saturday to claim the headboard, foot board, and frame. The mattresses had to be wrapped in plastic so the delivery men would take them, and the whole frame needed a general sprucing up, including a good dusting and some paint touch up. What’s old to me, became new and fresh in these young people’s eyes. They were so happy to get the bed and appreciative it was in good condition. I have peace knowing though the mattress will be heading wherever old mattresses end their days, the frame will have a new life somewhere else creating new memories. Boo, the Queen of cats, made a total scene once was everything was disassembled. The cat’s days are spent either with her furry head bent over her bowl, her paws busy covering up whatever new deposit she has left for me in her litter box, or perched atop three pillows like the Princess and the Pea on the right side of my bed. Having her nest temporarily dismantled was cause for much feline alarm and anxiety. Lacking access to kitty Prozac, yesterday I actually had to reassemble the mattresses on the floor so she could wipe the sad, pitiful look off her cat face and settle in again until the new bed arrived. It is becoming patently obvious who’s running this show of late.

So the delivery men just left. What a difference paring down to a queen size bed has made in my room. Wow. I can actually get to both sides of the bed with room to spare to change the sheets without hanging with my knees over a trapeze to pull the sheet over the side by the wall. Yay. I bagged up all my king size sheets on Saturday and ran an ad on Facebook reading “Five Sets of Beautiful King Size Sheets – Free”. Before I pushed “publish” I had ten people in the queue. Goodness. One lady asked if I delivered. When I asked where she lived, it turned out to be a 45 minute drive from here each way. Now, let me answer that in the kindest way possible. I am giving you a bag full of really nice linens at no cost to you except whatever gas it requires to get here. The simplest answer would be, “No, I do not deliver.” I never mind doing something extra for someone but this lady simply told me she had a busy life and simply didn’t have time to run about collecting sheets. Okay. I too have a busy life and don’t have time to run around delivering sheets which is why I posted an ad which read “Whoever wants these must pick them up”. Instead a lovely young girl with little ones in tow showed up. She thanked me profusely and said she could really use them so I was glad she was the one to take them home.

Also over the weekend my new coffee table was delivered. I had two poufs in front of my couch for two and a half years. They were very nice and visually interesting but I was getting tired of restuffing and cleaning them constantly. Since I was already sinking into the debt pool with the bed, why not submerge completely and add a coffee table to the canoe? The poufs were in great condition and fairly large. I have found if you put free on almost anything and place it by the curb it grows legs and disappears fairly quickly. I had an old love seat when I married to my ex-husband. We kept it in the garage so he could sit down out there when he was working in the shop area. As you might imagine, it picked up a few stains around all that grease and the rusty tools. When we decided it was time for it to go I suggested we move it to the curb and put a sign on it reading “Take Me”. My husband said no one would want that old thing so we made a wager. $10 to me if it was gone by sundown and $10 to him if it was not. Shortly after moving it to the curb, we went to the market leaving the love seat there with it’s sign. By the time we returned there was no love seat just another sign reading “Thank You”. Nice. Within ten minutes of putting the poufs by the curb with a similar sign and a heart a Jeep went by, applied the brakes, backed up and snatched the two poufs and they disappeared down the road. Yay. Life, as they say, is good.

The coffee table looks great. Buying it sight unseen was a little iffy, but it turned out to be the perfect choice. Not having bought it from a large furniture store, it was up to us to assemble it. At one point we realized we had gotten to the fourth and last leg and done it wrong. This meant going back and undoing all the work we’d done on the first three. I rarely imbibe anymore, but I have to admit when that realization sunk in, my thoughts immediately went to a margarita in an icy glass. Darn, darn, darn. Good news, we really tightened the screws as we went so it was such a pain to undo. By the time we were done, I couldn’t look at that piece of furniture for a while without wanting to set a match to it. Now, however, I love it. All good.

So, my house is set. The delivery men had quite a time getting the bed in. This house was built in the 1930’s. Like many of that era, it has small rooms with hard angles. One of the guys stepped in the cat litter box, fortunately pristine, and dumped it all over the floor. The other one knocked down two pictures trying to get the box spring around the corner. That’s why they hire young strong men to deliver this stuff. Thank God they assembled it all before they left. Didn’t think I had another afternoon of that in me for this week.

Well, I’ll quit for now. Have a great day! Vaccinations, one step closer to freedom and getting our lives back. All my Covid symptoms that had been hanging on have dissipated since getting my second shot. So thankful.

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Ladies, have you looked at the clothes showing up on the racks in the stores for spring? Good Lord. There were a lot of blowsy cuts, I noticed. Most probably this is due to the added girth most if us have welcomed aboard since the pandemic started, and the designers wanted to leave room for the spreadage (I know that isn’t a word, but I like it). They are showing a lot of cottony ruffled bordered numbers with small prints. I call them “The Laura Ingalls Wilder Collection”. On a small framed person like myself with long thin legs these sort of dresses look like a tea cozy draped over a pair of chopsticks. Ach. Not that I need any clothes, mind you. The pandemic has given me ample opportunity for doing a little shopping on line. Next week, I have promised myself I’m going to begin the process of sorting and eliminating items either never wear or simply don’t like, and selling them or tossing them in the donate bin.

One year when living in my old house, I purged my closets and drawers making enough off what I sold to cover redoing my deck. It’s surprising how much fat is tucked away in drawers, storage units, sheds and closets. When I pared down my mother’s things after moving her into assisted living, I could not believe what I found. In one zippered hanging bag I found a mink stole with two minks still clinging to it. Their expressions were as horrified as mine was. Ach. Glad you don’t see much of that anymore. Amazingly, that coat sold for over a hundred dollars to someone who wanted it for a Halloween costume. I have a friend who has supported two storage units for ten years. The units are full of stuff she never uses or even looks at. At over $200 a month that adds up. When I was selling my last house, I packed up one half of what was in it in anticipation of moving. During the six months it took to get the house ready for sale, and sell it, I never missed one thing packed away in those boxes. That spoke volumes to me. When I moved in here to a much smaller space, I immediately had a huge yard sale relieving myself of half of what I’d stored. What didn’t sell, I donated. The sale provided me with a little mad money for my new digs, while lightening my load. Sadly, since then, the inevitable migration of new belongings has begun once again and is starting to encroach on my territory. Where I had tons of storage space after unloading my excess household goods, somehow I have managed to refill the gaps with new stuff I didn’t need. Sigh.

It has been my week in the universe it seems for buying things. First, my land line started making a sound like I was squishing tin foil while speaking on it. Normally, I would defer to my cell phone, but it’s not working either. I finally located the “phone guy” at the “phone store” and he reconfirmed my cell phone was terminal and it was time to put it out of it’s misery. Swell. Sooooo, I upgraded two models. Even at that, the model I chose was probably obsolete by the time I signed the credit card receipt. I was told it was $50 down plus monthly payments. Okie. When I got the credit card receipt it read $100. When I asked about the discrepancy, I was told the extra $50 was for taxes, processing, shipping, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The et ceteras will get you every time. Why don’t they say $100 down? They don’t, because you probably wouldn’t buy the phone. Precisely the same reason they post signs for $19.99 rather than $20.00. Sounds so much less but that penny isn’t going to buy you much. I said fine. What is one to do? At any rate, it’s on it’s way. Meanwhile, I am sending up smoke signals in the front yard if I need to get a message to someone. Next, I called my phone provider to inquire about my land line. The representative at the phone company said it was probably a line problem. If it is a line problem, they pay for it. If not, the customer does. (That would be me.) I could sign up for a maintenance agreement for a mere blah blah blah monthly. Could I? Ahhhhh, I miss the good old days when you went to the phone company and picked out a phone, took it home, plugged it in, and if anything went wrong they either sent a repairman or gave you a new phone. Life was good. The more complicated the technology, the more expensive either the repair or replacement becomes. The rep also said to check the line they would have to shut down my phones which most likely would result in the need to reset all my TV’s, computers etc. connected to the phone line. I’m pretty sure that is a nightmare waiting to happen. Guess I can tolerate a little tinfoil for a bit.

Putting the phone situation to bed, I sat down at my laptop. I was told recently it’s lifetime is also getting shorter, and I would have to invest in a new one within the next year or so. Okie. The sound system has suddenly developed a hiccough where it comes and goes at random. Each week I have a Zoom meeting and this week I missed easily half of it. The other participants were tiring of me saying “could you repeat that please”. Sorry. Do you suppose the angels are sending me a message? That’s what someone suggested to me. Who am I to say? It is odd every one of my electronic devices is having sound problems. Maybe I’m supposed to be hearing something I’m missing? If so, I’M LISTENING. Oh, too loud? I’m listening.

I also spent some sleepless nights (no pun intended) agonizing over whether to dish out some cold cash for a new bed, finally caving (because I was literally) I dug out my credit card and wiped off the mold. Ouch. Rick and I bought this bed when we were first together. The mattress has never been replaced and Boo and I are having trouble finding our happy place at night to drift off to sleep. It’s a California King, which is a lot of bed for one small human and a chubby feline. Also, my bedroom is too small for a bed of this size so I had to push it against one wall to make it work. I am worn out doing my aerobics routine every week in order to change the sheets. There is an odd sadness in me at the thought of seeing the bed go out the front door. Another piece of the puzzle of my old life being replaced by something new, but it feels right. Some nights I feel as if I am sinking into the great abyss when I turn over on my side, and my back is starting to complain when I have to climb out of it in the morning. Time for a change. I asked if the delivery guys would take the old mattress. I was told they would if it had no stains and was in a bag. A bag? What, I have to wrap it? Is one of them having a birthday? Someone should have told me. I don’t think I have any tissue that size. Determining there were no stains, I went to Amazon. God bless good old Amazon. I believe if I searched for flea powder specific to Koala bears, I would find it on Prime. Finding what I needed, I ordered the appropriate bags. I suppose I could have opted to take it to the dump myself but I don’t think it would have squeezed into the back seat of my Fusion. The problem with buying a smaller bed, I bought a queen, is now I have gorgeous sheets and linens that don’t fit the new bed. Again, dusting off my credit card, I purchased all the accoutrements necessary for a queen size bed and signed my life away. Ah well. It’s going to be great. That’s me, telling me, I’m okay.

Update, my new phone just showed up on my front porch. The phone rep spent some time relating explicit instructions in so far that they would not deliver the phone due to it’s value (I have paid less for cars), if I wasn’t here to sign for it. Yet, miracle of miracles, there it was sitting on my front porch ripe for picking. Glad I was home. I would have been seriously irritated to find a notice of delivery in my email with no phone in sight. Also, I paid extra to have it delivered quickly, so there’s that.

Sometimes life keeps sending messages your way and you have to clean the wax out of your ears to catch them. What the messages are in this case, I have no single clue, but I am listening intently. I don’t mean to be impolite, but I wish they would speak up. I had my hearing checked recently and the results weren’t pretty. Years of earphones jammed in my ears transcribing letters, apparently did not serve me well. It’s not like I’m deaf, but certain tones are definitely fading. I have one dear friend who is in the habit of beginning what she is saying in a loud and clear voice, then dropping down to what I call her “conspiratorial tone” at the end of her sentences. I always find myself looking around in case the FBI is in the vicinity and we’re under surveillance. We have had discussions about this, because I find myself saying “pardon me” on a fairly regular basis with her, but it’s pretty much embedded in her behavior patterns at this point. She’s a generous word sharer like myself, so like Rick used to say when I was chatting away in the car, “if I miss a word or two, the earth is not going to stop rotating”. Thank you Sweetie.

Tomorrow, I get my second Covid vaccination. I hope it is kinder to me than the first, which created two rough days of symptoms before easing up. In two weeks I can hug my grandchildren, so I will show up for the appointment and deal with whatever comes with it. Yay.

People are having mask burning parties. I’m a little more cautious. It still surprises me we continue to make mask wearing a political issue rather than a medical issue. You’d think they were asking us to pull on a suit if armor before leaving the house rather a small piece of fabric. I just roll with the waves these days. This will pass and life will return to normal, or whatever normal is.

Have a great Sunday. Beautiful here so definitely a walk in my future. Thank you again for signing up and for those of you who tune in regularly.

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Last night I tuned in the Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Meagan Markle. I’m not normally a “royal watcher” but have admit I was curious as to the particulars of why the glamorous couple dropped out of the royal circle. The royal family was an integral piece of my fabric, at least for the first nine years I existed on the planet. Growing up in Canada, the Queen was part of my everyday life. At school we pledged our allegiance to the Queen and at hockey games we all joined our voices to sing “God save our gracious queen”.

British roots run deep all over the world. I remember Rick speaking about his grandmother, a British expatriate married to his maternal grandfather, an Egyptian. Though she had taken up residence in Egypt and assumed Egyptian citizenship, by all rights she was still British to the core. Tea was served every day precisely at four, and all news of the royal family was consumed by her like a piece of ripe cheddar discovered by a hungry mouse. Rick told me when he was in high school his grandmother wanted him to sport a quiff just like Prince Charles. For those of you not up on your quiffs, a quiff is described in the dictionary as a piece of hair, especially on a man, brushed upward and backward from the forehead of British origin. There you go, a new piece of information you really didn’t need to have. Rick, more influenced by what was going on in the U.S. at the time, told me the Prince Charles quiff never materialized because he leaned more towards James Dean. Looking at the pictures of both the prince and the actor, I don’t see much deviation, speaking to the hair only. Just saying.

It is difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff in the prolific amount of royal gossip floating about. God knows there are more than enough wild accusations to go around. When Prince Harry speaks of what the press did to his mother’s life, it takes me back to my trip to England. While there we visited Harrod’s. Harrod’s is the outrageously expensive department store, even by London standards, at the time owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed, the father of Dodi Al-Fayed. Dodi was both in the car and in a romantic relationship with the princess at the time of the car accident in which they both perished. On the ground floor of the store is a statue and a candle-lit shrine to honor the couple. The food court there was one of the highlights of the trip for this foodie with the most gorgeous displays of edible products I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. If you ever get there be sure to add this to your to-do list.

When we were done shopping (we bought a bar of soap for 15 pounds), we boarded one of the ubiquitous two tiered red buses seen all over the city and headed for the palace to watch the changing of the guards. Ever since listening to my grandmother read Buckingham Palace from A.A. Milne’s book of poems, When We Very Young, this was a spectacle I had wanted to see in person.

The palace itself did not disappoint. An enormous sprawling structure covering several blocks, wrapped tightly by a line of wrought iron fencing. The palace guards, like in Milne’s poem, stood a vigilant watch in the courtyard. Tourists could be seen easing close to them trying to tease a change of expression from their stoic faces. Never once did I see any of them so much as twitch a lip. The ceremony was full of pomp and circumstance, replete with golden horse drawn carriages and parades of synchronized palace guards. Though we looked in through the iron gating, we never got a glimpse of the Queen peeking back at us through the endless banks of windows. I’m sure tourists were not a new event in her life prompting much curiosity on her part.

Imagine being born into the purple, as they say, with a silver spoon proudly sticking out from your cupid bow lips. What a weight that must be. People view growing up in a royal family as some sort of Cinderella tale, but I have a feeling there are many dark sides to the titles and riches hidden behind those heavy brocade velvet curtains. Some people say we choose where we are to be born and to whom. That being true, I know I would never have chosen such a path for myself. My shackles go up if someone pokes through my mail, can only imagine how I’d respond to having paparazzi lurking about taking pictures of every move I made. Certainly it did not end well for Princess Diana. The poor princess was literally hounded to death.

Leaving the palace behind, we hailed a Bersey to take us to the Tower of London. They’re not called Bersey’s any more, Berseys were the original London cabs. All electric vehicles,”Berseys” got their name from Walter C. Bersey, the original designer. They were also nicknamed “hummingbirds” because of the sound the engines made when running being similar to a hummingbird’s wings. The cabs are black and all have sort of a vintage look to them. The cabbies, or so we found, were mostly chatty and full of information about what was passing beyond the windows and whatever destination was on our agenda. They had little guessing to do to discern we were not Londoners, as neither of us spoke like a native. Most probably all the attention to the tour guide portion of the program was directly related to the hope of receiving a good tip once we’d arrived.

In truth, though the palace was interesting to see, the Tower of London was my favorite of the historical attractions I visited while in London. Cold, dank, and creepy, like I imagined it would be, but far smaller than I had thought. Standing in it’s halls it was easy to picture a group of rowdy rough cut men seated at the rustic table in the main hall. Picture them laughing and talking while stuffing their faces with greasy hands holding huge turkey legs, that were washed down with generous cups of stout. I stood on the spot where Ann Boleyn was executed for treason next to a fence with a raven perched on it eyeing me like I was a fat little field mouse.The ravens, so it is prophesied, if ever deserting their posts at the Tower would signal the end of the Tower as well as Britain itself. A half dozen or so of the birds, wings clipped, are kept on the property at all times. I would assume “just in case”.

This growing rift in the British monarchy could prove a disastrous blow to the firm as they call it. The monarchy is a business and a very profitable business at that. Queen Elizabeth rates among the richest women in the world. How the British media shines a light on them is key to how successfully that business thrives. Every family has dirty laundry, it is left to them whether to keep it in the hamper or hang it on the line for the neighbors to see. These days I have many more pressing (a little laundry humor) things to worry about then whether the Prince of Wales is having a bad day, though I don’t wish the man ill.

None of us really know our neighbors. I wonder often if we ever really know even our closest allies. Unless you have actually lived in their bodies you can’t know what they feel, separate truth from fiction, or make a fair assessment of their character so better to leave judgement to someone more qualified. Life is hard, even for the privileged. Things get muddied and the karmic slate gets written on.

Have a safe day. Rain here and perhaps thunder. Love a good electrical storm.

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Before I go to bed, I make a habit of making sure my sink is empty and my house is picked up. Since I live alone, this ritual may seem unnecessary. Let’s face it Boo, the Queen of Cats, certainly doesn’t give a rats behind (a little cat humor) whether I’ve left a nasty old avocado dish to ferment on the counter or discarded a pair of pants on the floor by my bed. My daughter asked me why I’m so diligent about this ritual. “Who’s going to see it”, she asks? I explained, should I face a health challenge in the middle of the night and find myself in need of rescue, I don’t want one of those ridiculously attractive fireman looking around my house as he’s checking my blood pressure and labeling me a total slob. Have you seen the paramedics they send to your house if you dial 911? Perfect specimens of men standing over you when you look absolutely your worst. Hair hanging in your face, teeth in the jar, and vomit on your shirt. Even Christie Brinkley couldn’t carry that look off. The last time I had need of EMT’s, they sent six. Must have been a slow night. As they walked in the door, each one was (if possible) better looking than last. I wonder if there’s a section on the application for the fire department that says, Check here if you’re hot. If this box is not checked please return application to front desk. We’ll be in touch. Not.

Another reason to keep things tidy is in the event I might not make it, I wouldn’t want people rummaging through my belongings exchanging comments like “Wow, how ever did she live like this?”, or “my pygmy hog has better hygiene.” Nope, clean sinks and underwear all the way for me, just like my grandma told me.

I come to this line of thinking because the weather lately has turned almost springlike. Glorious balmy days have prompted me to get outside and walk every morning. Each day, I vary my route. One, because I get bored easily, and two to provide myself with a different level of cardio depending on the uphill climbs along the way. Yesterday, I opted for a route I had not taken before. Because my shin splints are acting up, I decided to take a less strenuous stroll along the ravine. The sidewalk wound me past a house situated on a cliff about a half a mile from where I live. As the years have passed, I’ve noticed this house sink into a state of shabby disrepair. It’s a shame really, because the lot itself is perched high on an overlook, most likely providing the occupants a panoramic view of the valley floor below stretching all the way to the Sierra Nevadas. The house, though not going to make the next cover of House Beautiful, is not too bad. What curb appeal it does possess, however, is completely eclipsed by the massive accumulation of “junk” in the side yard, creating an eyesore. Beyond the dilapidated fence, which looks as if someone may have backed over it, the filthy roofs of several well-used trailers are clearly visible alongside piles of plywood and debris. I’m surprised somebody hasn’t complained, as the neighborhood around it is composed of well manicured homes bordering on all sides. Something must have happened recently, because as I approached, I could see a crew of workers dressed in what looked like haz-mat gear moving in and out of the front door carrying household items. A rusted toilet and a beat up aluminum sink sat by the mailbox next to a sign reading “FREE”. Trust me, from the looks of them they were still overcharging. Walking towards the house I could see one of the crew members leaning on a broom obviously taking a break. Nodding in my direction, he said,”good morning”. I returned his, “good morning” and raised him a “looks like you’ve got your hands full”. He seemed to view this statement as opening the door for further conversation. I stopped for a moment, and “Ben”, as he’d introduced himself launched into a tirade about the project at hand. Before I knew it, he was sharing an outpouring of information about the residents. The people inside he told me had been elderly. The husband passed away, and the family had fast forwarded the matriarch of the family to an assisted living facility. Apparently, there hadn’t been much contact between family members over the past few years. Describing in great detail the mess they were dealing with, he said the inside of the house was in deplorable condition. Eager to not leave out a detail, and perhaps not looking forward to returning to his job, he went on to say there had been multiple animals inside who had left deposits all over the floor and carpeting. The smell, as one might imagine, was unbelievably rank. The kitchen, he said, was the worst, literally buried under mountains of dishes covered with rotting food and flies which probably meant maggots. Ewwww. As he plowed on he told me all the toilets were clogged. The look on his face indicated he found the whole situation totally disgusting. Already gleaning more WAY more information than I needed. Keeping up my end of the conversation by nodding my head at the appropriate pauses, and saying “huh” and “hmmmm” when called for, I hesitated before inquiring as to where the residents had been going to the bathroom in the absence of usable toilets. Some things are better left to the imagination. Another crew member emerged from the house telling Ben they had uncovered roaches in every cupboard, and every box of food in the cupboard as well as several carcusses of dead mice. Thanking them for all the information I really hadn’t needed, I said my goodbyes and continued on down the road. Suddenly, I felt sad for those two people, though I didn’t know them at all. Ben had somehow had opened a window into their lives and I felt like I had peeked in uninvited. Walking gives you time to cogitate and clear your head. Unfortunately, my brain was now preoccupied with roaches and clogged toilets. Got me to thinking though. What would people be saying about me after I’m gone? “That Susie, she surely had a clean sink and her banana bread,well, it was absolutely out of this world.” Not sure I want to be a fly on the wall for that program, and I surely don’t want old Ben leaning on broom in front of my house.


Lately, I’ve been taking a little inventory of my life. Perhaps it’s that I have more time alone, or could simply be I’ve reached a place in my life where I’ve climbed to the top of the mountain and am now looking at what is to be found on the downhill side of the slope. Whatever it is that motivates me to do an assessment, it’s allowed me to take a long look at where I’ve been, and give some serious thought as to where I’m going. I don’t linger long in the past. It is part of the whole of me and has contributed to who I am as a person today, but as my therapist likes to say, “Don’t look in the rear view mirror. That is not the direction you are going.”After Rick passed, hard to believe it’s going on three years, I had only enough energy to look at the day I was in with little reserve left for the tomorrows around the bend. Grief cores you out in a way, and allows you to rebuild from the foundation up. Life is so much different now then it was. Not worse, nor is it better, it is just different. Change always precipitates thoughtfulness, at least it does in me. Now that there is a new relationship in my life, something I didn’t expect nor was I looking for, this is something to be factored into my future plans as well. Possibilities remain once our masks are retired for new and exciting adventures. Always there will be new challenges, but also there will be new adventures, and new things to learn and new people to learn them from, no matter what stage you are entering in your life. Today, I will simply be thankful for the day I have, the flowers blooming beyond my window, the wind in the trees, the crazy Boo cat curled up at my feet, and my loved ones. Those are my riches.

When I look at just the last year and what has transpired, I can’t help but think you never really know what is coming around the next corner. You might win the lottery, fall in a sink hole, discover a cure for cancer, find yourself surviving (hopefully) a pandemic of epic proportions, be in the middle of a massive winter storm in Texas, welcome a new life into the world, or send one on its way. Perhaps the most intriguing part of living is the unknowing. I realize that is probably not the correct word, but I think it is the appropriate one. We don’t know, yet we have hope, and prayer, and wishful thinking, and believing in whatever we believe in. The indomitable human spirit shines bright even on the darkest of nights. I’ve seen it refuse to be extinguished so many times, when I had trouble still believing it existed.

We lost another member of our tribe this week. I attended my first virtual service, A Celebration of Life. Though not there in the person, it was lovely. At the end they released doves into the air, so spiritually moving. You are here then you are gone, and the cycle of life continues. Pieces and parts of you remain, though, in each and every person you touched. Perhaps words will be my legacy. God knows, if anyone is waiting to inherit my fortune, they will be sorely disappointed, and need not to quit their day job anytime soon. So goodbye, dear Janice. See you on the other side. Thank you for the beautiful grandchildren you have left behind. I promise I will cherish them.

Heavy thoughts for a Friday. Have a wonderful weekend. Remember each day is a precious gift, don’t waste it making bad karma or doing hurtful things. Trust me it takes years to erase the board once it is written on.

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People, I have noticed, seem comfortable to offer their opinions freely whether their input has been solicited or not. Sometimes, I think there should be a automatic five minute delay feature in our brains, allowing us to contemplate what’s about to exit our mouths prior to actually releasing the words from our lips. When I was pregnant with my daughter, my first pregnancy, I naturally had some apprehension about what the actual birth process would be like. Already nervous, other women already through their pregnancies stepped up to fill me in on what to expect. Women, at least I found, were very forthcoming when it came to sharing their birthing experiences, not leaving out even the most graphic of details. Ladies, there truly is such a thing as too much information. Less, as they say, definitely can be more. One lady, as I remember, shared a story about a young pregnant woman who believed she was pregnant but in the end gave birth to a large growth with hair on it and a full set of teeth. This, as you might imagine, was the story choosing to bounce around in my head right after my body registered the first labor pain.

When speaking to my daughter about this topic she said she calls this the “Four Second Rule”. Never heard of it. Looking it up, I discovered this four second rule applies to many situations. Broken down it’s basically, “think for four seconds before saying something you might regret”. Don’t feel you need to open your mouth and spill out whatever exactly is on your mind every minute of the day without filters. Sort of goes back to the old adage, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. Mark Twain, said it so eloquently, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” No kidding, I’m right there with you Mark.

Everybody has an opinion. I assume that is why the brain was included in the total package.Without the command center under our skull we wouldn’t be of much use to ourselves. In the absence of any innate logic to guide us,we would be running into walls, or getting up in the morning and not comprehending we needed to swing our feet over the side of the bed and sit up before we stood. We are supposed to think over and ponder on life’s options and quandaries, and then form opinions on them. All I’m saying is it isn’t always mandatory to express every single opinion you have developed. Believe it or not, everyone doesn’t want to hear each and every thought that might originate in your gray matter. Being given the incredible tool of the Internet, has allowed us to say what we feel 24/7 without any buffering. I’m not dissing the Internet. Actually, I love the Internet. It has opened up so many portals for me to learn new things and offers so many available sources of seemingly unlimited information. Also, I like social media, well, to an extent. I’m not tweeting every five minutes nor do I constantly record every minute of my day on Instagram, and I rarely have posted or taken a selfie. That being said, I often spend twenty minutes or so puttering around with friends and acquaintances on Facebook and, for the most part, enjoy my time there. There is little political action or derisive content among my groups. Mainly the groups I follow, post a lot of silly inane pictures of cats behaving badly, beautiful sunsets, pandas doing somersaults and delicious looking creations from cooks all around the globe. I like it that way. There is enough bad news to go around, I prefer to stir a little happy in the pot from time to time to even things out.

This train of thought comes up because I am going this morning to get my first Covid shot. As mentioned in my previous blog, it took me a couple of days to secure an appointment, so I was relieved to get my name on the books. Saturday, I celebrated my Valentine’s Day with my Mom. Suffering from dementia, her mind still functions for sure, but there are a lot of disconnects in her wiring. Always, though, when I walk through the door, she gets a big smile on her face and knows exactly who this face belongs to. I am so thankful for that. Her caregiver, Veronica, does a great job with the five charges she has under her wing. Taking care of one person with memory impairment issues is no walk in the park on the best of days, but taking care of five elderly people with comprehension problems I’m sure can be really taxing. Let me preface by saying she is a lovely woman, but not a woman short of opinions. Whether you have asked for her input, advice, guidance or whatever, she seems compelled to help you find your way down the road. As an aside, it did occur to me that when dealing with people who cannot really hold up their end of a stimulating conversation, it may lead to feeling the need to interject yourself in whatever conversation you find yourself privy to. When discussing my mother getting her vaccination with her, I mentioned I would be getting mine. This opened the floodgates, allowing her to bring me up to speed on the side effects everyone in her sphere of relationships was enjoying ranging in severity from being in bed to two to three days with flu-like symptoms to foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog (not really, but I believe there were locusts mentioned in there somewhere). Thanks, I’m sure I’ll be reliving that conversation as I’m getting jabbed in the arm. My bad, not hers, shouldn’t have mentioned it. Brings to mind what my ex-husband was fond of saying, “information is power”. His premise was, with each piece of personal information you offer up you open up a door to allow people to root around in your life. Now, he is a man. Men, I have to say, are not, at least in my experience, particularly strong in the information gathering area.

This lack of information gathering chops has been pretty consistent in the men I have had relationships with throughout the years. Women, when discussing a particular situation, will squeeze every bit of juice out of a conversation. When done, we will know every nuance and finite detail of what happened right down to the color of the drawers worn on the parties involved in the story. As an example of this lack of detail, Dale, my partner in crime, was telling me the other day about a very good friend of his who was giving up red meat. Hearing him out, and being an attentive listener, I asked why. “Why”, he replied?” “Yes, why did he stop eating red meat?” No clue. Really? I would have known why, when, what his new diet choices were, as well as having already looked up chicken and fish recipes to suggest to him if these were to be his new food choices. Sigh. A little while later he got off the phone once again and told me another close friend had been in a motorcycle accident. Both the man and his girlfriend were hurt. OMG, says I, what hospital are they in, are they seriously injured, what happened? Nothing. I’m surprised, frankly, he knew they were on a motorcycle when the crash ensued. Never mind. This to me is like publishing a book, a love story shall we say. When you open to the first page, it reads, “there was a man, who met a woman”. That’s it, brief and to the point. No fat in that story line. Also, no reason to explore beyond the first page.

Update from yesterday. So, I got in line and got shot in the arm yesterday with the Moderna Covid vaccine. Pictures of locusts swarming out both ears cruised through my mind (remind me send a thank you note to Veronica) when they asked me to pull up my sleeve. Because I have had a moderate reaction to flu shots in previous years, I had to cool my heels for thirty minutes to make sure I was okay. CVS was very organized. After checking in, I stood in a socially distanced line for about twenty minutes before my name was called. All in all, I am doing pretty well with the side effects. The main one is exhaustion. Unbelievably tired, but I’m told this passes in 3-4 days. Also my arm has swelled up. Other than that, I am one step closer to however much immunity this provides. Yay. I was given to understand the second shot is a bit harder on the body. I won’t mention either shot to Veronica as I don’t want any gory details before my follow up appointment.

So, I hope this information encourages others to step up and stick their arms out. Perhaps one day if we all do, we will be able to receive and give hugs again and go back to enjoying family and friends at gatherings. Have my fingers crossed. Stay safe, keep those masks on, I believe we will get there.

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I haven’t written in awhile. Life has been unusually hectic the past few weeks, leaving little spare time to sit at my computer. Don’t ask me what I’ve been doing, I probably couldn’t tell you in great detail. All I can say is somehow, each day managed to fill up to the brim as it folded into the next.

When I hit OVERLOAD on my time management scale, things begin to go south for me. Today, for example, I got up early and went for a walk. As is my habit, I grabbed the key to the house off the hook by the door, tucking it in my sweatshirt pocket. Stepping outside, the temperature was far colder than I’d anticipated. Only having on a light hoodie, I went back in the house to retrieve a heavier jacket from the closet. Turning the lock on the door before closing it, I enjoyed a brisk tour of the neighborhood, circling back to the house about forty-five minutes later. Normally, this would be just a day in the life of. Possibly it could even be considered yawn worthy, if not for the fact I’d neglected to retrieve the key from the pocket of the hoodie I originally had on. Duh, and double duh. I walked up to the door and tried the knob What? I know I locked it. Human nature being what it is, even knowing it was locked, I had to test it. You know I did. Tight as a drum. Yup, good job, Susie. I had a duplicate key made for such occasions. Peering into the also locked living room window I could see it hooked on the ring with my car keys. Perhaps I need to refine the thinking on that program? Both keys hanging on the same hook probably shouldn’t be Plan A. Fortunately, I had my cell phone. Like every electronic device I have ever owned, it is currently suffering from technical issues. Basically, I can’t hear an incoming caller unless I put them on speaker. Putting someone on speaker is not an option I always enjoy. One never knows what one might be doing while speaking on the phone. Also, I don’t want the cat listening in, you know how nosy felines can be. Before taking it in to Apple to get a tech involved, I decided to search on line for solutions. What did we do pre-Internet, I wonder? The answers to every question posed since the dawn of man seems to be found there. I performed all the suggested “fixes” noted on the tech driven websites. End result, you ask? I can’t hear anyone unless they are on speaker. Drat. Not the time to worry about the speaker as it wasn’t getting any warmer, I assessed my situation, Clearly, there were two choices. Either I could pitch a tent in the yard and wait it out until my roommate arrived home in 24 hours, or I could call my landlady and ask her to let me in. Sigh. So high school. Sometimes I think I need a keeper. Swallowing my pride, as my feet were getting colder, I placed the call to my landlady explaining my dilemma. She said she was in a meeting but could be at the house within the hour. Super. Thankfully, I had put on a warmer jacket because by the time her car pulled up, my feet had stopped receiving signals from my circulatory system.

Once inside I thawed out. Warming my hands on a cup of hot coffee, I laid my day out in front of me. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow so I needed to pick up a few cards and some candy for my mother. I figured I could squeeze that errand in the mix somewhere between the bank and the grocery store. Curious as to how the proceedings were going, I switched on the impeachment trial. There’s a happy way to jump start one’s day. I have limited my news input to no more than an hour a day. Immersing myself in what’s going on in our government at the moment will have me dusting off my green card and heading north for the Canadian border. Eternally optimistic, I still keep my fairy dust spreader primed and ready to go in the event our elected officials miraculously locate their moral spines and do what is right for our country rather than what is right for themselves personally. Fingers and toes crossed. Oh update on this, you can uncross all digits, their moral spines are still missing and remain unaccounted for. Wow. That’s all, just WOW.

Even before getting locked out, this week proved a bit of a bust. Yesterday, for example, I went to my bi-monthly hair appointment. Some women find days at the salon relaxing. I am not one of them. Not by nature a “sit still” kind of gal, killing time in a salon chair with goo and tin foil slapped on my head is not my idea of a fun filled afternoon. Armed with a new book and a bottle of water, I conferred with my stylist before getting started with the dye job about the direction my hair color was heading. My first stylist at this salon, Emily, moved on down the road last summer. Without consulting me or a thought to how I’d look, she picked up her family and relocated to a beautiful big house on a lake to provide a better life for her kids. Some people are so self focused. Hah. Before leaving, she recommended a replacement. This was tough on me, as I had just gotten her broken in. Women reading will understand this, it takes a while to break in a new hair dresser. Emily had been the perfect fit for me. Sarah was doing a pretty good job getting up to speed, but my “do” is not exactly how I like it yet. In trying to explain what I wanted, I included visuals of models with my basic hair cut colored the way I would like to see mine. Not rocket science really. Blonde highlights with light brown undertones. Easy peasy. One would think. When Sarah applied the color, it looked dark. Inquiring about the depth of color, I was told not to worry my little blonde head about it, Sarah was at the wheel. Kay. Forty minutes later the color was rinsed off and I was seated in front of the mirror. Not only was my hair now a deep reddish brown (emphasis on the red), but it was highlighted with thin whitish strands giving it the look of a large plate of spaghetti with meat sauce. All I needed was a dash of Parmesan and I was good to go. Oh yay. The look on my face made it obvious, I’m sure, to Sarah this was not going to end well. In response to my expression she commented, “don’t freak out”. “Kay. Why not exactly? I would like to freak out, and then I would like to cry, in that order.” Good lord. Several other products were applied in an attempt to tone down the red. In spite of her valiant efforts, I remained looking like an ad for an Italian restaurant. Along with my hair having a decided maroon tinge, my scalp now matched the color perfectly and had begun to itch from all the chemicals. Check please.

In the end, I was sent home with apologetic assurances Sarah would fit me in post haste to fix the problem. Great, does that assurance come with a bag to wear over my head in the meantime? Texting her this morning I asked when the fix might be done, to which she replied four hours later, “how about next Friday”? To which I replied, “how about, not”. Now, I never fault people for making mistakes. We all are human and, therefore, each of us fallible. However, if you do make a mistake…..if possible, fix it. Sarah made several wrong turns in dealing with her customer (namely me) in my humble opinion. Number one, she allowed me to stew in my own juices for four hours, and number two, she suggested resolving a problem she created at her convenience rather than mine. Both of these mistakes are likely to make someone who started out a bit reasonably annoyed to move the dial quickly over to really pissed off. I’m just saying. I used to train the serving staff in our restaurant. My first instruction was always acknowledge the customer. No matter how busy you are, at least stop and explain you are aware they are waiting, ask if they can get them a beverage, and get to them as expediently as you can. So, after I did not budge on sooner than later, we compromised on Wednesday. Momma ain’t happy, but it is what it is. Glad we have to wear masks at the moment at least I won’t be recognized.

I guess I should consider myself lucky. You may have read about that poor woman who sprayed gorilla glue on her hair because she was out of hair spray. I will say nothing here about why she would make such an obviously poor choice, as this lady has suffered enough. To get the glue off her hair, required a two and a half hour medical procedure. Rick would have completely understood finding oneself in such a mess. Seriously, the man could not be left alone with Crazy Glue.There should have been a warning label on the side of the tube saying “This product not recommended for men answering to the name of Rick”. Sometimes it was like having a big kid. When I handed him the tube I specifically cautioned him not to get any glue on his skin. Two minutes later I heard the dreaded words “oh-oh”. Going back to where he was standing I found him staring at his right hand. He had adhered his thumb to his index and middle finger and they were securely fused. To inject some humor in the situation, I told him his hand was set up perfectly for making rooster finger puppets should the need arise in the future. He assured me he saw no humor or comfort in this. Saving the day, the infinite internet provided a solution and after an hour and a half we were able to undo what he had done. Adding insult to injury, he had dropped the glue container on his new pants. True to the hype it was “permanent” and it was now firmly and undeniably attached to the fabric. While trying to get it off, Rick tore a large hole in the pant leg and we ended up tossing them in the garbage. Lesson learned.

I also launched a full on assault on Covid-19 vaccination sites this past week. My doctor suggested I needed to get the shots as soon as possible as they were now available for my age group and I have asthma. What a process. I felt like a kid trying to score a seat at a wildly popular concert. I’d log on, get on a site, and before I could book a spot that time and day would disappear. Can’t tell you how many times I did that. I’m nothing if not tenacious. After two days it became a sort of quest. Persistence paid off, and I finally got an appointment for Monday, as well as the follow up shot three weeks after that. I feel like I won the lottery. So, I am not sorry to say sayonara to this week in my life, although I do hear my grandmother whispering in my ear, “don’t wish your life away”.

Make it a safe one. Happy Valentine’s Day to you all and to my Rick, this will be my third Valentine’s Day without him.

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