Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Continuing the discussion of our recent trip to Carmel I began in my last blog, would bring us to day two of our three day trip. The first day, as reported previously, the weather was mostly about rain, clouds, and overcast skies. Though we held out hope for good weather, we presumed if the forecasts of late here in Northern California prevailed, cloudy days would likely remain the case for the remainder of our time on the road. To our complete delight and surprise, we awoke the next morning to see sun streaming in through the slats in the windows, and bright blue skies overhead when we went to the car to head out for breakfast. Yay.

Like you might notice in many European towns, visitors to Carmel also often choose to get where they want to go on foot. This, I would presume, not only because it is a lovely setting for a stroll outside, but also it is a very popular tourist destination. Parking during peak season, can be at a premium. Many times I’ve circled the town ad nauseum waiting for a spot to open up, with people jockeying for position like competitors in a game of musical chairs. This day, however, we were going to take the scenic route around 17 Mile Drive to do some sight seeing, and then on from there into Monterey to visit the aquarium. I have been along 17 Mile Drive many times over the years. The first time I ever saw this unique and gorgeous span of coastline, was the day after I married my first husband. Three days of our honeymoon were to be spent at the Del Monte Lodge, located about at the center point along the route of the drive itself. The lodge today, is known more familiarly as The Lodge at Pebble Beach, and is touted as a five star luxury golf resort. Back when we got married, the room rate was $68/night. I was nineteen and my new husband but twenty-two, so for us $204.00 was a big splurge. I still have the cancelled check tucked away in my yellowing memories album to remember it by. Today, $68 is less by half than the rate you would be charged by the hotel for the privilege of having your cocker spaniel spend a night with you in the same establishment. Woof. Well it is not the same establishment as it was when we were there. Though the view is unchanged, still spectacular, and the basic look, outwardly at least, remains much the same, the price tag for a night’s stay has gone up considerably. A room overlooking the garden were you to book it today, begins in the $1,000+ range, with rooms offering a view of the golf course or an ocean view increasing exponentially from there. You will not find my name written in their guest book any time soon.

I have actually stayed at the hotel twice, the second time was with my second husband and my two children. I don’t remember what the bill was for the second stay, but I know we had secured two rooms for a three night stay. I guarantee, if it had been $1,000 plus a night for each room, I would have remembered the details most vividly. There were several things that stood out about the hotel at Pebble Beach, aside from the magnificent cliffside view of the Pacific. First, though not necessarily remarkable, a porter loaded our luggage in a golf cart once we’d checked in. When all baggage was on board, he conveyed us, along with our bags, to our room (Hotel 6 does not offer this perk). When we arrived everything was then offloaded and carried up the stairs. Well not us, of course. I believe we managed the stairs without any help, thank you very much. Our hanging clothes were neatly tucked away in the closet, and each bag was opened and placed on a luggage carrier. After that, the porter explained the amenities to us, such as ice machine locations and pool hours, and provided us with restaurant information should dinner in their lovely dining room be in our plans. There was a nice tip involved for all his helpfulness, naturally. The rooms, I must say, were bright and spacious and beautifully appointed. Each room had a sitting room with a settee, two end tables, lamps and an easy chair facing a fireplace. A fire was laid in the grill waiting to be lit by a hotel employee each night if the room guests desired them to do so. The big thing for me, was along with the expected room phone sitting on the writing desk, there was an additional phone located on the wall in the bathroom alongside the commode. Interesting. Perhaps more business is conducted from that particular vantage point than I’d previously realized.

I guess “you get what you pay for” may well apply to the above paragraph. For $1,000 plus a night and an additional $140 for my dog, I want to get a lot. As I said, our little inn had a lot of quaint wonderful things about it, but none of them included carrying any of our bags up the two flights of stairs to our room, nor was there an elevator available if it happened you couldn’t mount the two flights yourself. What you would do in that case, I have no idea. I would assume either book a room on the lower level, or commandeer a hotel employee to help you move in and out. However, my feeling is that I don’t go on vacation to live in my room. If I did, perhaps $1000/night would seem less prohibitive. I suppose if money is no object, and that concept doesn’t live in my world, than whether the room was $150/night or $3000 a night would really be a moot point. I do have to say, like flying first class, all the delightful little spoiling touches are most welcome. A whole bar of soap, for example, and, yes, a phone by the commode for those calls that simply can’t wait. I do not require such a high level of spoiling as a human being regularly, though I do not reject the pleasure of indulging in them from time to time.

Approaching the entrance to the Aquarium, a young woman stopped us asking if we were members. To be honest I didn’t know they had members, but we both shook our heads no. If not a member, she told us, tickets must be purchased on-line as there is no longer a ticket booth on the premises. Really? I looked up the site on my phone, clicking on tickets. Entrance to the Aquarium now costs $60 per adult. If either Richard or I had never been before, I would have just booked it. Since both of us have been numerous times, $120 seemed a lot of money. Talking it over, we decided we could probably put that money to better use during our trip, so we decided to pass. Leaving the Aquarium to another trip, we wandered over to the Cannery Row area. Steinbeck coined the phrase “Cannery Row” in his book of the same name, and it is today officially the name given to it. There are no operating sardine canneries along the wharf anymore, of course, just rows of touristy shops and restaurants, anchored by the Aquarium at one end of the street. One shop pretty much looking like the next, most selling tee shirts, sweat shirts and touristy items with “I Visited Monterey” or “Monterey is calling, and I must go” emblazoned across the front. We took a walk along the beach, and made our way along the boardwalk, ending up at the pier. Walking along the pier had sort of a carnival feel to it. Gulls hopped about on the well worn wooden planks, grabbing up a piece of discarded caramel corn here and there, or scavenging for a handout from someone walking by. In the distance, the steady barking song of the seals on the rocks across the marina provided background noise. Vendors were busy stocking their display cases with cooked crab, shimmering oysters, and other seafood offerings. Had it not been for the fact I had reached my capacity at the restaurant earlier, I might have signed up for some crab on the half shell accompanied by a chunky slice of sourdough bread. Docked on one side of the pier were two boats each bearing signs on their sides advertising whale watching tours. People were lined up in front of the designated boarding areas waiting to be let on. Have to admit, I was curious about the tours. I might have gotten in line but for the fact though the sun was shining, it was chilly out, so decided to reserve that adventure as well for another trip when warmer weather prevailed.

Having our fill of store hopping, we collected the car and headed south towards Carmel again turning right at the roundabout and following the arrow towards the entrance to the 17 Mile Drive. Paying the $11 requested by the guard at the gate, we began the drive following the arrows as we drove along. So many trees were down from the recent storm. There were huge root bases evident on both sides of the street everywhere we went. Tree and stump removal trucks could be seen all along the route with massive cut pieces of trunk lying around them. A local told us the crews were concentrating on clearing the streets of debris first and moving on to the side areas for clearing and cleanup as time permitted.

As always, when in that area, I was struck by the incredible opulence of the homes nestled among the trees. Some of them appeared to me like palaces fit only to be dreamed of by kings or titans of business with vast coffers from which to draw. Many were built right on the lip of the ocean, perched high on the edge of the rocks so close to the sea they looked as if they could easily slide off only to disappear into the frothy surf. Those homes with uninterrupted views of the ocean, cost more than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. Though I have never been invited in for tea, I imagine these palatial estates to be vast showplaces for beautiful art such as is displayed in the many art galleries available for viewing in downtown Carmel. It would be fun to be able to peek in a window here and there and see what surprises lay inside the walls. I’m quite sure there are laws covering such behavior, so we stayed beyond the fences in our own world, satisfying ourselves with simply observing the beauty of our surroundings as we wound around from one curve to the next.

There are many opportunities to pull over along 17 Mile Drive and take pictures, some which we availed ourselves of. Most of the pullouts had signs posted offering up a brief history or some background information about the view you were looking at. I will include some photos with this writing, though they could never convey the breathtaking beauty we were experiencing. At Bird Rock, we stopped so I could grab a few shots of, well, the birds. The birds in question, according to the sign posted in the parking area, were cormorants. Large numbers of these mid size grey/black birds could be seen perched on the rocks not far beyond the wave line. According to the sign writer, cormorants are coastal birds, as would be obvious by where we were standing viewing them, known for their impressive diving capabilities. A young man was standing not far from us holding controls guiding a drone as it swooped down low above the rocks. Manipulating the controls, he brought the drone back to where he was standing. Curious about what he was doing, I struck up a conversation. Michael was his name, he told me, and he was Canadian. “Good day, eh”, had already given him away as one of mine, from Toronto. The drone was being used, he told us, in the filming a documentary he was producing about the western shoreline and it’s inhabitants which he had hopes to promoting to a studio or television station in Southern California. After a moment, he asked if I’d be interested in previewing some of the footage he had just taken. Peering into the lens it was amazing some of the images he had captured. Chatting for a bit longer, we parted ways, wishing him success on his venture.

When the afternoon began to wane, we turned the car back towards Carmel. Not wanting a big meal such as we had enjoyed the evening before, we went into Carmel proper in search of a good old greasy cheeseburger. Mulligan’s Pub was where we ended up. Mulligan’s was definitely a local watering hole. A lovely crackling fire was blazing in the corner of the bar and we sat at a table close by to soak up some of the warmth. Two cheeseburgers with fries were ordered and we sank back in our chairs to take in some of the local color. People came and went mostly calling each other my first names. Though we were not part of that band of travelers, they were fun to observe. The cheeseburgers arrived, and were absolutely delicious. Leftovers boxed and put in a bag, we walked the half a mile or so back to our lodgings and called it a day. More in my next blog about our last day in town. That’s all for now. Have a lovely rest of your weekend.

Read Full Post »

Richard and I drove down to Carmel last week for a three day mini-vacation. With all the unpredictable weather that has been circulating around Northern California the past few weeks, some of our friends didn’t think it the best time to travel. Our reservations had been in place for several months. Listening to the pros and cons, particularly with so much water on the ground, in the end, the lure of the coast won over over the arguments not to go. After that, it was damn the torpedoes full speed ahead. Certainly it wouldn’t be the first time either of us made a decision other people in our lives didn’t support. Most probably, it will not be the last. As I always do, I asked my “angels”, who seem ever present in my life, to hang close and keep an eye on us just for a little extra insurance.

Monday, our first day on the road, proved to be the most challenging of the trip. Gray skies persisted overhead most of the morning. Far off in the distance the, massive accumulation of darker, angrier looking clouds, left little doubt there was more rain on the horizon. Many of the side roads along the route we’d chosen leading to Highway 5 were either closed or had significant water in the roadways. Once in the belly of the beast, it was either forge on, or turn back. In either case, it was obvious there would be water to be dealt with. Having grown up outside of Auburn, Richard is a fount of information about just about everything going on in the Sacramento area. According to him, the farmers in the lowlands take care of their own water issues, be it too much water, or not enough. Whether this is true or not, I have no way to verify except to ask Richard, who I believe we have already established has an opinion on the subject. Interesting though. (As an update. I learned from another viable local source this in fact is correct. The land, and the waterways are privately owned.) From the looks of things, whoever is in charge, had way too much water to take care of this year. The weatherman I watch in the mornings said today the snow and rainfall counts this season mark the third in the highest in recorded history.

Driving along, there were trees down on many properties, some with wires wrapped around them secured with yellow caution tape. When we got stopped in one direction, we’d try another. At one point, we came upon a huge pool of water. We pulled up behind two similar looking mid sized delivery trucks parked in tandem at the lip. The pool spanned the width of the road oozing into the pastures on both sides, then spread out about a half a city block from the middle. The truck drivers stood talking animatedly with their heads together next to their cabs. Though we couldn’t hear their conversation, we surmised they were discussing whether to go through the massive puddle, or turn back. While the men came to a decision, a short line of cars had begun to fall in together on the opposite side of the pool. All of the vehicles present seemed to be waiting to see what the truck drivers were going to do, before making a move themselves. Shortly, both drivers returned to their vehicles, and started up their engines. Our small band of silent witnesses watched as the two trucks, one following the other, tentatively entered the water. I figured the point man had the most to lose. If anything was going to go down (literally), he would be the first to tell the story. Richard’s take on the situation was if either truck didn’t sink beneath the surface, then we should be safe to cross. Swell. At that point, I was leaning more toward the logic side of the argument of our friends suggesting not to have come at all, but it was a little late in the game to switch teams. We watched, holding our breaths, as one truck then the next slowly forded the overflow area, each making it to the other side without incident. Next in line, like pioneers crossing a raging river in their wagon, we moved up to the edge and slowly drove forward into the water. Out the window it looked like waves lapping at the side of the car. I had a mental picture of all my doubting Thomas friends glued to the 5 o’clock news as Richard and I were helicoptered out of our sinking vehicle all with “I told you so’s” forming on their lips. Mommy.

When we reached the other side, the small caravan waiting there, taking our cue, began to cross as well. After that, it was a short distance to the main highway which we traveled sans puddles. Once on Highway 5, other than the wind which was strong enough to nudge us into the next lane if not paying attention, the weather cooperated with only a light rain falling the rest of the way to Carmel. My first glimpse of the ocean came after cresting a hill outside of Monterey. It has been a long time since I’ve seen my beloved sea. Bouncing up and down in my seat like a kid who’d consumed too much chocolate, I nearly burst out of the door when Richard pulled over next to a sand dune, and raced down the hill towards the water. Rain or no rain the ocean, to me, is the best place to find yourself on earth.

Once I’d gotten enough sea air to hold me for the moment, we drove on down the coast and checked into our room at a charming Carmel inn. The rooms, as usual, are photographed with a wide angle lens for the benefit of promoting guests to book them on the website. What had appeared on-line to be a large spacious room, was in fact in person a small, not so spacious one. As usual, I’d packed enough clothes to cover any event from an alien landing to a volcano eruption. The closet held about five hangers comfortably but we made it all work. The bathroom was very small, definitely a one person affair, with only a shower and no tub. Along with half the clothes I’d brought with me, the new bubbles I’d tucked in my overnight case were definitely not going to be put into use. Note to self “Bring a bar of soap”. Don’t know who’s body the small versions of soap in the guest packs were for, but they wouldn’t have covered the average infant. By the time I’d had one shower my little bar was down to a nub, and I don’t have a lot of area to cover. I’d purchased four traveling bottles so as not to have to carry larger bottles with me. Each bottle came with a different colored lid. I was sure memory would serve me as to what product was stored in which color, so didn’t feel the need to mark them. I must remember to remember I can’t remember —-. I’m not sure whether I washed my face with conditioner or shampooed my hair with cleansing cream. If so, they are apparently interchangeable. Good to know.

The first day of the trip was pretty much devoted to getting to our destination and getting settled. In the evening, we went to the Mission Ranch Inn for dinner. What a lovely setting for a restaurant. During the summer months, you can sit outside in lawn chairs and enjoy your adult beverage of choice while overlooking the ocean. Flocks of sheep roam on the pasture beyond the patio area and can sometimes be seen being herded by the owner’s (I assume) Australian shepherd. What clever dogs that breed. Amazing how instinctively they know to manage a herd of animals so much larger than themselves. I’ve always had a secret yen to own one. May do it yet.

It has been years since I’ve eaten there but remembered the food and the ambiance. There is a fireplace and a piano bar, for those who are so inclined. We sat in the back room which was a little more intimate, and quieter. Dinner was not a disappointment. Three tender ribs of rack of lamb resting atop mint chutney, served with pan basted baby yellow potatoes and Swiss chard. Yum and double yum. I left only the pattern on the plate. There was a tense moment, however. I asked the waiter for mint jelly. I KNOW!!! From the look on his face, shooting was probably too good for me. Why can’t they just give it to you and keep their thoughts to themselves? For the price of the meal, it should have come with a vehicle. Mint jelly doesn’t seem too much to ask. Our chef, when we owned the restaurant, used to get sooooo upset if I asked for either tartar sauce or mint jelly. It’s simply not done in the high end culinary world, and it galled him to no end I insisted on doing it. Their opinion is the flavors should carry themselves without enhancing them with anything else. Personally, I don’t care if you want your lobster dipped in marmalade or pour A-1 on your Brussels sprouts, as long as you enjoy your meal. Even if I’d cooked it, I would feel the same way.

After a delicious meal and a long day, we sank into bed. Sank, being the optimum word here. The bed, well loved from the feel of it, was like an old stable horse. It was high on both ends but dipped deeply in the middle. I looped one leg over the side to keep me from rolling into the abyss. Also, for a room with a fireplace on one wall, it was chilly. The fireplace, gas not wood, looked lovely, but when lit and on high didn’t seem to provide much heat. There was a small wall heater which we cranked up to the max and by the time our stay was over the room had come up to a comfortable temperature. These, I always say, are the fun things about staying in quaint old inns. This is precisely what gives them character. You can go to a new hotel with all the amenities, but then what would you have to write about?

I read recently an article about tips passed on from workers in well known businesses. Secrets you need to know, or perhaps would prefer not to, about how these businesses are run. One such tip was from someone who had worked in a well known and rather pricey hotel chain. His suggestion, “never walk on the carpet in your bare feet”. According to this whistle blower, hotels only shampoo their carpets about twice a year. Whatever is spilled, projectile vomited, or tracked in on your boot, is covered up in between washings with room spray and quick fixes. I worked in a motel as a maid for nearly a year when traveling with my ex-husband. I remember being amazed at how infrequently they washed the bedspreads. The sheets were washed in between guests of course, so that is where you want to rest, but the bedspread can be full of whatever it’s full of. My tip would be, don’t sleep with your face pressed against a hotel bedspread with your mouth open. I’m just saying.

Carmel was as wonderful as I remembered it to be. The line of Northern California coastline along the 17 Mile Drive really can’t be matched in shear beauty and accessibility. This trip was made all the better by it being early in the season so less people on the ground and parking everywhere we went was easily accessible. I will finish my story at my next writing. There is frost on the pumpkin this morning but the sun is up and shining brightly in the sky. Yay. Happy humpday to you.

Read Full Post »

The rain continues to fall here in Northern California, each day setting a record that tops the one proceeding it. I drove home from Richard’s yesterday through what looked to be a war zone. Huge trees were lying like fallen soldiers, draped across manicured lawns, some leaning precariously against a rooftop or pushing against a fence line. In some areas, I was detoured by blinking police cars to avoid a tree obscuring the lanes of traffic or to safely avoid downed power lines posing a threat. The reservoirs are filling up at a happy pace and our drought situation is definitely taking on a happier face than it was wearing last year. As always, I wonder why we don’t put more effort into capturing all this glorious precipitation falling to the ground. A state with the vast resources of this one, it seems to this small blonde at least, should be dropping some serious pennies in the jar to pay for new reservoirs or underground containment centers. Makes no sense to me, but then I’m not running the government thankfully. I wonder at times if anyone responsible is, but that’s a topic for a whole other blog.

I am headed down to Carmel for three days R&R next week. It seems an odd time to go with the weather behaving in such an erratic manner, but Richard and I have reservations at a lovely B&B, and have no plans to cancel at this writing. My heart is excited with the anticipation of seeing the ocean in whatever face it might be wearing. The last time I was there, can be counted in years not months. When the gap in between visits is this long, my soul begins to actually crave the smells and sights associated with being by the sea. Most likely it will be overcast and foggy. I grew up with fog horns in the background in Nova Scotia, so inclement weather is no stranger to me. A little rain never bothers me much. I’m not a high maintenance girl who worries about her hair or getting her shoes wet. They dry, and then there you are again. I actually love to get out and walk on a rainy day. I’m not talking about blinding rain, but I don’t mind taking a good walk in a gentle rain. There is something about a rainy day, in truth, that fires up my engines. I find myself singing in the kitchen, or industriously cleaning out closets. This has been a little more rain than usual for certain, but still it is nice to turn off the lights and drift off to sleep hearing it playing a tune on my roof.

I was called into work an extra day this week so here I am sitting at my work computer writing this. Several of the residents reported to me this morning no one won the enormous lottery up for grabs Tuesday night, though apparently 15 people will have an extra million to spend in 2023. Drat the luck, and I had my Porsche all picked out. I told them if I win the next drawing, don’t expect to see my face behind this desk come Friday. Looking dismayed at that statement, I assured them I would return often to take everyone out to dinner at one of the pricey steakhouses around the Sacramento area before retiring. I checked my numbers against those drawn to see if I might be one of the 15. Got one number out of two tickets. From all appearances I needn’t wait for the million dollar check to hit my bank account any time soon. Ah well. I realize the odds of winning are astronomical, but someone’s got to win. I’m just as unlikely to as the next person. lol

Someone was commenting to me the other day about how “off” their time perception has been since the beginning of the year. From all I’ve gleaned from the metaphysical reading I do, the energy collectively circling about in our world at present is very jumbled and disruptive, so this is to be expected. I totally feel it in my world. I’ve been off all week. Yes, yes, even more than my usual off. Tuesday all day I thought it was Wednesday. Then when it was Wednesday I kept thinking it was Thursday. I have missed two appointments already this year and we’re not even through January yet. It’s just an unsettled feeling of being slightly out of sync with the universe.

Because the weather significantly reduces outside activities, my son and daughter-in-law finally talked me into watching Yellowstone. I fell in the pot with the minority of TV viewers who had not seen a single episode of the well touted series. Two nights ago, I watched the first episode and have tuned in for several more since then. The story line definitely holds your attention. Though I have to say, if you’re offended by graphic scenes, I don’t suggest you grab your bowl of popcorn any time soon and tune it in. Whoa.

I have always wanted to go to Montana. Dale, my ex was from there, and before he got ill we had planned to drive up for a visit. I have teased the borders a time or two, having been in Wyoming once and Idaho many times, but Montana and Yellowstone have eluded me. Also close by and on my bucket list, I would like to get a glimpse of the Dakotas. The other night instead of counting sheep when I couldn’t sleep, I got to thinking about how many states I had visited, or lived in. To me, it was an impressive amount, but I have missed some of the ones I especially wanted to see. I will have to find a way to add those to my checked off list somewhere down the road. My mother visited one such city in Georgia, Savannah. She was enchanted by it, as I’m sure I would be. I have been to Atlanta on business, but that is sort of an encapsulated situation. I never really saw much of my surroundings other than the hotel where the trade show I was participating was located. After reading “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” Savannah was added to my list of must sees. Places steeped in rich history hold a fascination for me. Would love to see that area. I’ve never been to the Carolinas, nor have I traveled up the road a piece from there have I visited Rhode Island or Connecticut. I have lived in Washington, West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, and Massachusetts outside of California. People have asked me on occasion which one I preferred. To me, they all have their own pluses and minuses depending on where you are in a particular state. Even with all the tiresome infighting endlessly reported on the news, somewhere else I really have a yen to see is Washington D.C. We shall see. The year is young and my freshly printed updated passport is burning a hole in my pocket. Somewhere either this year or next, a trip to Canada is a must do for me. Many of my father’s family who I’ve been in contact with live in western Canada. Most of us have never met face to face. My dad died at 25 and my mother and I went to live with my maternal grandparents. Other than my paternal grandmother, my contact with my father’s people over the years since then has been sketchy at best. I would love to be able to restore that connection by meeting them in person. Growing up, it was just my mom and I out here in California. There were never any of those big family gatherings in my world unless we made it to a family reunion or a visit to Nova Scotia now and again. My son and his family sent me a kit for 23andMe I’m excited to explore. Be interesting to see what my DNA stirs up out there in my family tree I am as yet unaware has bloomed there.

Well work calls. Happy Thursday. Enjoy the one day without a raindrop associated with it if you’re in Northern California like myself. Look up from time to time and be aware of your surroundings. The ground is mushy and the trees unpredictable.

Read Full Post »

I’m tired. I don’t often admit I’m tired. I’ve always had a bit of an Energizer Bunny personality. I tend to go, go, go until I can go no more. However, I seriously have been going non-stop since the beginning of November and my batteries are beginning to run low. About a week before Christmas, my body was sending up urgent messages it was time to slow down and recharge.

After Santa’s job was done, and the sleigh housed in the shed for 2022, I decided to listen to my nagging inner voice and take a few days off to hit the refresh button. During the 48 hour period following Christmas, I had no company coming and encouraged none, stave for my sidekick and BFF (best furry friend), Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats. Before allowing myself to settle, I had some catching up to do with my to-do’s. The day after Christmas, I dismantled the tree. This is tradition at my house. The tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving, and comes down the day after Christmas. When the tree was in it’s zippered bag, I boxed up all the ornaments and decorations, stored them in my recently acquired storage unit, and proceeded to clean my house spit-spot from top to bottom. Whew. Boo slept in the corner most of the day as I worked, only opening one eye from time to time to watch in mild curiosity as I passed by carrying the much hated vacuum cleaner or an armload of laundry. Lazy to the bone, all this work, work, work energy floating about the house must have been upsetting the normal sleep, eat, and poop routine she generally adheres to.

Once all the busy work had been done, I reserved one more day in which to do absolutely nothing. I silenced my phone, put on not one drop of makeup, left my pajamas with the penguins on them in place in lieu of getting dressed, and vegetated the entire 24 hour period. It was glorious, I tell you. Door Dash was good enough to deliver lunch, an enormous burger paired with a mound of fries, half of which I ate around noon, saving the rest for my evening meal. Perfecto mente dice. Loved every decadent “aren’t you wasting your life” minute of it. Yay. As part of my day of rest, I binge watched a series called “1883”. Every time the query “watch next episode?” came up on the screen I enthusiastically pushed “yes, yes, yes” and continued to watch. What a great show. I was hooked from the first episode. Apparently I am the only living human in the U.S. who hasn’t seen a single episode of Yellowstone. 1883, and I believe 1923 are part of the whole Yellowstone franchise. I’m not sure if I started at the beginning or whether I opened the book in the middle. However, I do know now I will have to watch all the other moving parts. I don’t take the time, or have the time really, to be a dedicated TV viewer. When I do get involved in really good television though, I will find the time. When Downton Abbey concluded, I was so devastated it was like losing members of my family. I felt like I should host a Celebration of Life for the cast.

On the subject of family, I had a lovely Christmas with my daughter and her brood. I hope you did as well. Well, not with my daughter and her brood. They wouldn’t have room at their table for all of you, but I hope you had a good Christmas wherever the day found you. This year we didn’t prepare the usual huge formal holiday dinner. My daughter and her family have been dealing with some health problems the past month, and all members of the family went through a bout of COVID in November, so nobody was up to making a fuss. Instead of turkey with all the trimmings, we had white chicken chili, garlic bread and salad and fresh guacamole and chips earlier in the day to keep us going until dinner time. This was fine and double dog dandy for me. I had a party Christmas Eve I went to where I consumed enough food to hold me over until spring. Still full from the last piece of pie I’d put away, I was happy to find a comfortable spot to park myself and watch as everyone opened presents. Our youngest member, Zeppelin, now four, must have been very good this year, for there was a bumper crop of gifts under the tree from Santa with his name written on the tags. From the looks of the front room, the reindeer and the jolly old elf had left quite a mess the night before. Muddy hoofprints stretched out across the floorboards. Alongside the hoofprints, snowy images of boots marched along leading from the fireplace up to the base of the tree. In the corner next to the tree on a small table was a festive holiday plate holding two gnawed raw carrots and the remnants of three holiday cookies, several bites missing from each. Looking around, it was obvious if Santa hadn’t had time to clean up after himself, at least he and the herd had stopped for a little snack before proceeding on their appointed rounds. Eyes wide as Frisbees, Zeppelin took it all in obviously enchanted. At four, with little question all things are possible. The elves had done their work well in setting the scene beautifully, to make it magical for him to enjoy. In the end, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Tonight is New Year’s Eve. At the moment I am at work. I am writing a blog because there is no work for me today. All the directors are out for the holiday and the phone has needed my attention probably three times since I walked in the door. If I had anything less to do, I would be in a coma. On days such as this, they allow me to do whatever I need to to pass the time. This is what I need to.

Where or where does the time go? I can’t believe another year is coming to a close. I feel like the character in The Time Machine watching the world flying by just beyond my reach and finding myself at another crossroad every time I step off the bus. Outside, the rain has been steadily falling since yesterday. Driving in, I hydroplaned several times while going through deep troughs of water on the roadways. Weather in one form or another is slated to continue in the area for at least another week. You won’t hear me complaining about precipitation here in drought plagued California. There are so many dying trees starving for hydration, I consider every drop a blessing that falls to the ground. I find myself wondering why it is someone isn’t out there madly constructing more reservoirs. If we’re short on water, wouldn’t it make sense to make extra receptacles to capture the water we do have falling from the sky or to store up some of the snow runoff? The last large dam project in the state was in 1979, and yet we continue to be plagued with droughts and lack of water and do nothing to hold on to what we have. Makes no sense to my mind, but then I guess I can just add that to the list of things I wonder about.

I am going to a New Year’s Eve party tonight. I may have mentioned, New Year’s Eve does not rank among my favorite holidays. Number one, I am definitely a morning person. The likelihood of my seeing the ball drop wouldn’t be something I’d place a large bet on, was I a betting person. Secondly, most previous New Year’s Eve celebrations I’ve attended haven’t been what I’d call memorable. Well, let’s say they may have been memorable, but not for the right reasons. More memorable like, “oh yeah, don’t want to do that again”. Some have actually bordered on disastrous. For me, a good book, or a great movie, a hot toddy, and some excellent company would make my evening a success. Richard, however, my squeeze du jour, likes to go out. You can’t be in a relationship where the pendulum doesn’t swing both ways, so I’m slipping on my dancing shoes and making a go of it for him. I will slap on my very best “party face” and try to summon up the appropriate enthusiasm to make him feel his evening was worth the price of admission.

I pulled my “little black dress” out of mothballs and stopped by Macy’s to see if I could pick up some black hose to go with. I didn’t want to display my winter legs without covering them. The ethereal “uncooked chicken” color emanating from them could well detract from the band entertaining on the stage. Unable to locate the hosiery section in the store, I stopped and asked a salesperson where I might find it. To my surprise, I was told they don’t sell hose anymore. It seems people either spray tan, go to a tanning booth, or go commando in 2022. Really? The lady said there was simply no demand for hose anymore. She went on to tell me she was asked at least once a day where to find the nylons. Hmmmmm. Well, then there is a demand to my mind. She is one sales clerk getting asked once a day. Likely other sales clerks are getting asked as well. Is it just me? I guess I can add this to the why don’t they build new dams pile. However, it became obvious whether it made sense or not, there were no hose to be found under Macy’s roof. Soooooo as the helpful clerk suggested, I went to Target. Target and Walmart have cornered the market on lady’s leg coverings I was told. I bought two pairs in my size in case they discontinue to stock them completely somewhere down the road and an unsuspecting public is forced to be subjected to my wan looking appendages out the open raw and uncut. To be honest, I’m a little leery of spray tans or tanning creams. I’m sure they have come a long way since I was a kid, but still. Back then the offerings were slim to none to achieve the perfect golden color we all attained to. If you chose not to lie in the sun and bake till you were cooked to a nice golden brown, your only other option was to slather yourself with Coppertone Tanning Lotion. Supposedly whatever ingredients were in the tube created a natural looking tan without benefit of the sun. Their slogan was “don’t be a paleface”. Definitely the product lived up to the hype. You were not pale after repeated applications, more it turned your skin a lovely shade of burnt sienna. They suggested on the label you wash your hands immediately after applying. We were teenagers. We rarely did anything suggested or otherwise instructed and most likely never read a label. For a week after I used the product, my hands looked like I’d recently attended an Indian wedding.

I am not particularly sorry to bid farewell to 2022. It was a year with a lot of hard corners imbued with a frenetic kind of feel to the days. I have a feeling 2023 is going to serve up some interesting and fun surprises. I have no idea why I feel this so strongly, but my intuition is fairly accurate, and in this case all my happy alarms are going off. I do hope so. I am ready to embrace fun adventures, new faces. happy days, and treasured family moments. I want to do something I’ve always wanted to do, see something I haven’t seen before, put something new and different on my plate, and introduce new faces into the the lineup I am currently familiar with. Sign me up for all of the above.

Someone paid me a lovely compliment the other day. She said she enjoyed talking to me because I always held on to the belief in the end things would turn out all right. Interesting. I had to think about that after she said it. Was it true? Well, in an odd way I think it might be. Perhaps more accurately, I believe things will turn out as they are meant to do. I am truly a fatalist at heart. If it is your time to go, I think it is likely you will do exactly that. For me we are given a certain amount of time to thrive, experience, and exist. Sort of a “so it is written, so it shall be” way of looking at things.

It’s like people who are late for a plane and miss their flight only to learn the plane they had tickets for went down after takeoff leaving no survivors. Or, the woman who gets in the car in the morning then realizing she’d left her phone on the kitchen counter. Running back in to retrieve it, she narrowly misses a deadly pile up on the freeway that she would definitely have been involved with had her phone been in their purse. Things like that lead me to believe where it might have been the other people’s time to go, it was not the person missing the plane or forgetting her wallet’s time. You may have a totally different take on the world than that which I respect. That is only how I feel about the whole thing. This brings to mind, the plane that went down with Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and “The Big Bopper” in 1959 killing everyone on board. Tommy Allsup, a guitarist, was also supposed to fly with them. Not room for everyone, he flipped a coin with Ritchie Valens for a seat, and lost. Also Waylon Jennings, not yet the huge star he was to become, didn’t go on that doomed flight instead giving up his seat “The Big Bopper”. Life can be, as they say, a bit of a crap shoot. I look at the many times I’ve hung on the precipice of disaster, yet here I am stepping into 2023. Who knows what the future holds. That’s the delicious mystery of it all.

Happy New Year to you and yours. Catchya next year. Stay Safe.

Read Full Post »

Well here we are perched on the precipice of another year. I do like a nice brand spanking new year to look forward to. Three hundred and sixty-five days, clean and unadorned, as yet untouched by any regrets or missteps. A year unspoiled by words spoken but not meant, dead batteries on frigid winter mornings, burned garlic bread when the boss is coming for dinner, and crying babies on a plane trip to France. Yay. I tend to be a “glass half full” kind of girl. For me, the days spread out before me fraught with possibilities. Who knows what lingers beyond the farthest fence post? Perhaps the prospects of a new job are just out of view, maybe I will be afforded the possibility to cross a much desired item off my bucket list, or visit an exotic location I’ve always wanted to purchase a ticket to. A face, not yet familiar to me, may begin to appear across the table from me. Always, in my world at least, there are magical experiences to be had. This is not to say I don’t anticipate a few rocks to be strewn in the road along the way. Though I am considered an old “fairy dust spreader” from way back, certainly I am enough of a realist to expect life to provide you not only with happy, uneventful times without sprinkling some angst and tears into the mix for good measure.

I have had a slow end to this week. Thursday I reluctantly submitted my arm for a COVID booster. This was my second booster, so for the time being I believe I’m caught up. I’m listed under the heading of “vulnerable population”, being long past voting age at this juncture in my life, with asthma. It’s not that I was resistant to the shot per se. If there is a vaccine available, it makes sense to me to take advantage of it. Rather, it was the side effects generally accompanying the vaccine, I was hoping to avoid. The first day when I receive the shot, I’m always lulled into a false sense of security because I am generally symptom free. As the day progresses my mind begins to think I’ve dodged the bullet. However, some time during the second day, the side effects move in and take full possession of my body. Yesterday was to be no exception. I found myself again shivering under the covers with the cat, unable to summon up the energy to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom. The fatigue arrived on the first train into the station, followed quickly by chills in the club car, and then came a caboose carrying with it a sort of general ennui. Blah and double blah. By way of a bonus, this time there was an additional wave that moved in in the middle of the night last night. I had not experienced this part of the program with the previous three injections. I woke up around two. The moment I opened my eyes, I began to feel decidedly unwell. Aside from the room spinning slightly, perspiration began to flow down the back of my neck and sprang up under my hair, and in minutes I found myself literally soaking wet. Whew. This phenomenon, though off putting, seemed to be my body’s way of ridding itself of whatever was plaguing it. Once I was devoid of any excess perspiration, I felt so much better. I took a quick shower and went back to sleep, remaining there until my alarm woke me up around five. Today I feel fine.

Continuing on the medical vein, I know how exciting that subject can be (yawn), I finally got my heart monitor off. Two weeks was about thirteen days too long in my estimation. What an annoying little contraption that can be. They are small now, with no wires attached, as opposed to older models. That, at least, is a blessing. The device adheres to your chest with what feels like Gorilla Glue when you go to peel it off. I believe half of the skin on my upper chest went out with the FEDEX return package I mailed off yesterday. On the plus side, the smaller version doesn’t really show under your clothes unless you are wearing something with a v-neck. There is a cell phone, included with your device. The phone has to be kept within a certain distance in order to monitor your heartbeats while you have the unit on. It you go beyond that parameter, the phone alerts you of your transgression, then stops monitoring. After doing that repeatedly, I began to have compassion for people with an ankle monitor attached. To remember to keep them in close proximity, I got in the habit of sticking the phone in the back pocket of my jeans. Twice, I almost deposited it in the toilet, and I sat on it so many times I’m amazed it continued to function. I was asked to wear the monitor as my cardiologist wanted to prescribe a blood thinner for me, since my family history includes strokes. Before doing so, she had to get a feel for what my heart was doing with regards to my irregular heartbeat. I’ve had this condition most of my life. Its not the alarming version of atrial fibrillation that can be life threatening, but rather a type of the condition that is more of an annoyance most days, but could be concerning if the irregularity ever got out of hand. As we get older, like dated vehicles, our parts begin to show signs of wear. I am mostly functioning with my original factory equipment. Some of it, thankfully the less important parts, have gone missing by this turn in the road, but no titanium has entered my body and I’m in good shape for the shape I’m in, or so I like to believe.

Aging is not a process I spend a lot of time thinking about. Whatcha going to do? We’re all going to do it if we stick around long enough. I have to admit though I worry at times of late about Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats. She is seventeen now, this no longer qualifying her as a “spring chicken”. I can’t say much about the spring chicken label when it comes to myself either. While she’s aged, I’ve gotten riper right along side her. I like to console myself the cat has been duly spoiled, and certainly is entitled enough that there hasn’t been much wear and tear on either her feline psyche or her little puddy cat body beyond stretching and the occasional wide mouthed yawn. The thought to me of life without my beloved kitty is just too much to think about, so I choose not to. Instead, I prefer to concentrate on enjoying every silly moment I share with my crazy cat, imprinting each day on my memory bank for times when I will need to call up a memory to find her. Richard, the man in my life, believes I’m a little overly concerned with Boo’s welfare. Cats, to hear Richard tell it, are independent creatures not needing much human interaction for their well being unless it involves putting food in their dish, refreshing the litter box, or stroking their furry little heads. I disagree. Unless he has actually been a cat in a former life, I’m not sure I put much validity in any thoughts he has on the subject, as he’s speaking to a point he really can’t have much personal knowledge about. Also, he has a bit of a vested interest in convincing me Boo will be fine on her own because I have been away from home more often since I met Richard. Aside from time spent with him, I have a job these days which keeps me away from the house two days a week. Though, on those days, once off work, I am home for the night. When I leave, I turn on the TV so the cat will have some noise in the house and always say goodbye and offer up a pat or two on her noggin before closing the door and locking up. I will just hope that my kitty sets the all time record for feline longevity and sticks with me for many years to come. Someone said to me a while back after losing her beloved dog, she couldn’t bear to get another animal because the pain is too great when they pass away. For me, animals bring so much joy when they are here. That joy somehow balances out the pain when they have to leave. As always, that’s just my take on the subject. I’m sure there are people out there rolling their eyes going “what channel does Boo watch while you are gone”? Whatever. FYI she’s very fond of FHV’s.

We, or at least most of us who read or show an interest in our world, have opinions on most everything going on around us. In so many ways we are alike, and in so, so many others we are so very different. I have one friend, for example, who only wears blue shirts. This, while another man I know prefers only white tee shirts with his jeans. Yet another friend loves mushrooms, but can’t stand them raw on salads, while the guy standing next to her wouldn’t eat a mushroom raw or cooked if it was the only food selection remaining on the planet. Each of us are so uniquely “us” it is totally fascinating to me. Particularly when you consider there are about 8 billion versions of the same model of human being out there roaming the planet as I write this. Isn’t it amazing in that vast number of beings, no one fingerprint is just like the next, no DNA an exact replica of another, and each face, though perhaps similar in features to another face out there, in the end end remains a singular work of art with only one wearer. Along with our unique facades, we each have our own take on the world, the people in it, the people in charge, our neighbors, friends, family, coworkers. This is such an interesting place to find oneself. If I begin to ponder the infinite possibilities of how we got here, where we go once we leave here, and what we are doing here in the first place, my eyes will begin to glaze over. In my opinion, we don’t have all the answers perhaps because we couldn’t handle what the answers might reveal. It is my thought we are meant to know what we do, learn at a certain pace to help ourselves while here, and discover what goes on when we move on when, well, we move on. So far no one has seen fit to come back and bring us up to speed.

As we approach another holiday season I am reflecting on the empty chairs at the table. Rick, gone four four years, Dale, one year and a few months, and my mother since April. They know some of the answers I ponder while sitting her today, but thus far I haven’t received any additional clarification from any of them since our goodbyes were made final. I did have an experience the other day that was interesting. I was sitting in a recliner at Richard’s early on in the morning. Richard was still cutting up a cord of wood in the back room. I felt someone tickle the top of my head. “Richard”, I said, “you up”? No answer. Again, I distinctly felt the tip of a finger mess with the back of my head. “Richard”, I said again? Again, no response. Standing up no one was in the room but me. I felt goosebumps rise up on the bottom of my legs and march spit spot up the full length of my body ending at the very top of me where the finger had touched my skull. Hmmmmm. My mother loved to tickle my hair or my neck. Somehow, whether one believes in ghosts or not, I know it was her saying hello. If it wasn’t, well it pleases me to think it was.

So, that is Susie’s take on the world for a Saturday. Make it a good one. Hug your grandbaby, take your dog for a walk, smile at a stranger. Make life better for someone else, if just for a passing moment.

Read Full Post »

As mentioned in my last writing, I spent the good part of a week in Oregon recently. As much as I love a good road trip, because I had limited time, I decided to fly rather than drive. It has been many years since I’ve boarded a plane. 2010, being the last time. With all the TSA rules and regulations in place, plus all the digital tools available now in the airports for self-checking, I found myself a little nervous. Thankfully, in spite of my misgivings, getting to the Portland airport turned out to be a fairly stress free process. That being said, the return trip came around with little trepidation attached to it. Looking at my life up to this point, I should have known better. Some sort of internal alarm should have been going off loudly in my ear warning “It’s a trap. Run, save yourself.”

The day I was to return home, I had Siri sound the alarm to rouse me out of bed well before the rooster crowed. My flight was scheduled to depart at 9:00 a.m. If we were to get to the airport at the suggested two hours prior to boarding time, we needed to leave her house no later than 5:30. Ach. I had chosen the early flight solely because it was the only non-stop available between Portland and Sacramento on the day I wanted to come home. Since the actual air time between the two airports amounts to only an hour plus some change, taking a non-stop flight, which required two to three stops somewhere in the middle, hadn’t sounded that appealing. As instructed, I went on line at exactly 24 hours prior to my flight to check in and print out my boarding pass. Even with checking in at the precise moment, 55 people managed to get checked in before I did. Someone told me later, you could pay extra to pre-check in when purchasing your ticket. These days you pay extra for most things flying related. Being No. 56 was fine and dandy for my part. I was satisfied just to be included in the first group on the plane. This is a really important step to complete if you’re traveling “steerage class” such as I was. It’s not like in First Class where the flight attendants carry you onto the plane on a litter fanning you with palm fronds, and deposit you in a comfortable recliner in front of a big screen TV and hand feed you grapes for the remainder of your time on board. Oh no. In steerage you are crammed together with your knees tucked under your chin praying nobody next to you has a contagious disease. Should you recline your seat during the flight in steerage, you will find yourself seated in the lap of the person seated directly behind you. If you are not in the first couple of groups boarding a flight, it can be difficult to find an overhead bin to store your carry ons in and sometimes it will leave you scrounging about looking for a seat if the flight is full.

The night before, I had read an article talking about the mars retrograde we are currently experiencing. Whether I’m fully on board with how much influence retrogrades have in my life or not, it has become clear to me, at least in my life, they seem to have some effect. This particular period of disruption is scheduled to last through the end of 2022, seeping over ever so slightly into 2023. According to the writer of the article, mars has a history of being a pesky little planet. When in control, it enjoys stirring the pot, then sitting back once it’s really begun to boil, to watch and see what floats to the surface. Chaos, she went on to say, is the planet’s super fuel. Under the umbrella of such a retrograde, life can often become a little more difficult to maneuver, and relationships seem a little trickier to keep on the straight and narrow. I tried not to project any snarls into my upcoming travel. It had been such a relatively snarl free trip thus far. I wanted to simply lean back and bask in the glory of it all.

While my friend was getting ready to drive me to the airport, I poured myself a second cup of coffee. Shortly thereafter, she emerged from her room fully dressed, but looking a bit green around the gills. Before I could ask what was up, she ran past me to the sink and relieved herself of the cheeseburger and fries we’d eaten the previous night. Oh-oh. From where I stood, looked like everything was up. Huh. I straddled the fence at that point between worrying about my friend, and wondering how on earth I was going to maneuver myself to the airport. Because it cut costs considerably, I had purchased a non-refundable ticket. Mainly this meant I either showed up at the assigned gate at the designated time, or I purchased a new ticket at a much higher price. Hindsight being 20/20, this ticket was perhaps not the best option in the event of an unplanned emergency. Now, I could have gone to Plan B, which had me standing on the state highway with my carry on bag while holding one thumb up in the air. As the temps were hovering in the low thirties this plan wasn’t doing much for me right at that moment. Plan C was Uber. Because we were still in pre-rooster time, and my friend lives in a small town in a rural area, Uber wasn’t up for the challenge of putting wind beneath my wings either. Sigh. Oh my. After a few minutes, my friend managed to keep a piece of toast down, and in a few more, she felt she was up to driving me to Portland in spite of the upset tummy. I felt guilty having to drag her out into the cold, but unless I sprouted wings, in four hours the bird was going to take flight without me. At that point, I wanted to pin a Courage Under Fire badge on her sash for being such a good scout. The gods were with us and she not only got me to the airport in record time, but was feeling much better by the time we arrived. We said our goodbyes and as she drove off, I disappeared into the belly of the beast, more commonly known as the Portland Airport.

Getting my bearings once inside, I looked for an arrival and departure kiosk to help me locate my gate, but didn’t see one. A woman wearing an airline uniform and holding a sign reading “ask me” stood by the corridor leading up the ramp to security. So, I “asked her” in passing which gate the flight to Sacramento departed from, to which she provided me with the gate number plus directions. Security was the usual maze of lanes leading up to the agents. I got in line behind the last person and waited my turn. At the counter, I was informed I was in the wrong line, and was redirected to the line right next to me with about five times as many people standing in it. It seemed you had to pay to stand in the shorter line. Of course. Fine. Dutifully, I went around to the no-pay line and waited my turn. Once my papers had been reviewed and okayed, I was ushered over to the security conveyor belt. There you are handed large plastic trays in which you must deposit everything from your shoes to your false teeth so they can be scanned before you are allowed to pass on to the departure gates. The lady in front of me was tiny like a little bird and appeared to be about ninety. How she managed to deal with all this by herself was beyond me. I couldn’t help her, I could barely help myself. I was in a life and death struggle with my new boots which were acting as though I’d Crazy Glued them to my feet before leaving the house. Damn vanity just wouldn’t let me go up that extra half a size to make room for my winter socks. Once my possessions were on their way down the moving belt, I headed to the archway, where I was to be x-rayed. Stepping into the arch all the bells and whistles went off. Yup, everything works. Oh it’s not a routine test, it’s me. Sigh. Does this face look like a uni-bomber? Ah well, it is for all our protection. A female agent stepped forward, and I was put through the paces. Hands up, hands down, lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight. Finger up your nose, touch your toes. I felt afterwards either she and I should be picking out china patterns or I ought to filing an incident report somewhere. Whew. At last I was released to gather my belongings and be on my way. The country was safe for another day.

Looking at the gate arrows, I followed the one directing me to E10 as the “ask me” lady had suggested. Yay, almost there. My feet were doing the happy dance. Unlike Sacramento, there are no trams in Portland. At the Sacramento airport trams are available to shuttle passengers to their gates. There are no seats inside, but poles are provided for riders to hang on to. Being an old subway commuter from my days working in downtown Boston, I knew the poles weren’t there simply for decoration, but for good reason. When I got in, I set my suitcase down and wrapped my fingers around the closest free pole. The young woman next to me was busy texting on her phone, both hands engaged. Hmmmm. The automated voice came over the speaker announcing the tram was preparing to pull out of the docking station. This, I would assume, by way of warning you to hold on. I caught the girls eye, and asked if she’d like to share the pole I was using. “Nope, all good”, came the response. Kay. The tram lurched out of the station, rocking several times jerkily from side to side. The forward thrust propelled the girl halfway through the tram until a good samaritan reached out and caught her arm before she’d made it the full length of the car. Seeing her wrap her fingers around the nearest pole once she shook herself off and stood up, I resisted installing the “I told you so” program onto my lips. Believe me, I’ve chosen the “really stupid idea” option more times than not during my travels across this planet. Who am I to fault anyone else for doing so?

But I digress, no trams in Portland and no poles. In the Portland Airport you either walk or take the intermittent moving sidewalks. Don’t misunderstand me, I love to walk. However, it had been a tiring day, and it wasn’t yet 7 a.m. yet and I needed more caffeine. Also, I had my carry on bag, pull type happily, my coat, and a handbag across one shoulder that weighed about fifty pounds containing everything I’d bought on my trip I couldn’t cram in my carry on. All good. So, I walked. After that, I walked some more, and then when that was done, I walked some more. I wasn’t confident I was still inside the Oregon state line by the time I saw E10 posted over a flight desk. Yay. Noting the flight listed under E10 was not my flight, I asked the gate attendant if my flight was on time. “Yes”, he told me in his best airline voice, “it is on time”. Good news. “However, it is not on time at this gate.” Really? Insert unhappy smiley face here. My flight, so he told me, departed from Gate D10. OMG. So, I schlepped the mile and a half back to the original hallway, made a sharp left, and began the next leg of my trip down another long expanse of open road. All I needed were the tin man, the scarecrow and the cowardly lion, to make this work. Just then, the handle on my carry on snapped like a twig. At that point, I began to laugh. I laughed as I walked and walked carrying my carry on. Sometimes that’s all you can do is laugh. The allure of caffeine was beginning to fade being replaced with thoughts of a vodka tonic with a slice of lime as I passed one of the myriad of bars evident along the different arteries of the terminal. No, at 3 p.m. I might feel good about saying “it’s five o’clock somewhere”, but at 7:45 in the morning I’m just not ready to belly up to the bar and knock one down for the Gipper. I did notice what looked like a man in a pilot’s uniform drinking a bloody Mary which I found a wee tad concerning.

At last I made it to Gate D10. Thankfully, my flight was listed beneath the gate designation. I took my place in line when boarding began and occupied a middle seat on the plane, squeezed in the middle of two large men, like the cream filling in an oreo. I had made it. Drink orders were taken by a crew member, and we were handed a wee bag of nummies which contained four pretzels, some melba toast, and I believe I found several peanuts. I didn’t care, I ate them all and then licked my finger and dabbed at the salt. It had been a long morning.

So, I feel better now that I’ve tried it and made it through the labyrinth. I understand the process, so next time there won’t be any worries, other than the usual pitfalls like broken luggage and misinformation when I go again. Next time I am hoping I will traveling to Canada to visit my relatives there. Then, of course, I can add customs to the equation which is a whole other kettle of fish. Last time I traveled to my homeland was with my mother. They took her at customs and I wasn’t sure they were going to give her back. Whew.

Anyhow, no worries for today. We have a COVID outbreak where I work so I am headed into the fray armed with my N95 mask and a big bottle of hand sanitizer. Happy Saturday.

Read Full Post »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

There is actually rain on the ground this morning. Granted, not much more than a sprinkling, but I’m counting it. According to the weather lady on my favorite news show, much more is predicted to fall over the next week. This is a good thing. Our poor trees here on the water deprived west coast are looking sad, my friends, and that makes me sad. There is little doubt anymore the world climatically changing. I, for one, am happy I was born when I was, when there wasn’t much really to concern ourselves with on the weather front. Now, there were other things to occupy our thoughts certainly. We weren’t stress free back in the day by any means. For example, when I was in elementary school we had “duck and cover” drills. This was during the Cold War Era, when the red menace lingered on everybody’s minds. Duck and cover drills required students to crouch beneath tables and desks and put their hands over their heads. This posturing, it seemed, was to keep us safe in the event some idiot somewhere on the planet pushed the button marked “nuclear annihilation”. Even though I was but a peanut at that time of my life, the idea my desk was in any way going to save me from extinction should an atom bomb be detonated in my vicinity, seemed a ridiculous concept even to my yet unformed mind. Haven’t moved on that assessment as of this writing, by the way. To me, that solution was tantamount to holding a tennis racquet in front of your face to protect yourself from an acid assault. Really? Did anyone believe this? Please hold up your hand.

We didn’t have as many things to worry about as we have on the radar now. There was less information available on, well, just about everything. Smoking, for instance. Nobody worried about it. The information available on tobacco use was far sketchier in the 50’s and 60’s than what is at our fingertips these days. Smoking back in the day was a social phenomenon. Everybody across the social strata from milkman to movie star was doing it. Cigarette companies were not likely to publish anything alerting us to the dangers of their popular product, lest it put a damper on their ballooning bottom line. Everyone old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes, it seemed, had a cigarette pack on their person. Commercials pushed the product to the unsuspecting public. Billboards touted the killer weed with inviting captions like “more doctors prefer smoking Camel cigarettes than other cigarette”. Today, if you light up, you are practically a pariah, but back in the 60’s, people had gold cigarette trays on their coffee tables to offer to their guests. Nowadays, most rental units don’t allow smoking. All government, hospital, or public buildings certainly prohibit anyone lighting up either inside or on the grounds of their facilities. People, before we were educated about lung cancer, emphysema, and all the other top of the line tobacco related diseases, smoked everywhere. Theaters always had a cloud of smoke hovering around the screen. Bars, airports, offices, banks, markets, all had available ashtrays for people to toss their butts in once they’d sucked the nicotine out of their favorite smoke. You haven’t lived until you’ve flown five hours cooped inside an airline with everyone inhaling and exhaling. I smoked back in those days, and even I wanted to strap a parachute on and bail out an exit door. Once rumors of the side effects began surfacing, there began to be non-smoking sections for those wishing to abstain. The smoking and non-smoking sections were located directly next to one another. I always thought this such a waste of energy. The tables on the borderline of the non-smoking area weren’t getting much benefit from the delineation, or any of the non-smoking tables, if the truth be known. Smoke doesn’t have the discipline to remain only in a cordoned off section of the room, it tends to migrate.

You could get hooked for considerably cheaper in the early days as well. A carton of cigarettes ran you about $3.50. Today, purchasing. a carton won’t leave you with enough change out of a hundred dollar bill to come up with bus fare. Vaping, seems to be slightly more acceptable, particularly with the younger generation. Yesterday I saw a van driving along with what I believe were two riders inside. Looked to be the driver and one passenger. It was hard to tell who was behind the windshield, because they were vaping and there was so much smoke inside the cab at first I thought the vehicle might have been on fire. I don’t know if vaping is purported to be better for you than cigarettes, but sitting inside that bubble of fumes can’t possibly be good for you.

I am working today, though actually less working, than looking busy, which is a pastime I find more exhausting than plowing a forty acre field. Not that I’ve ever plowed a forty acre field, mind you, or any field for that matter. However, it seemed like a good frame of reference. The powers that be have told me should I find myself bereft of something to do, I am welcome to do what I would like. As it happens today, what I would like to do is write a blog.

Half the population of the retirement facility I work for, seems to be seated in the lobby with me. It’s cold and rainy, so no outside excursions, and the activity person, usually a presence on the weekends, has left the company for greener pastures. Finding a person to replace her, has proved to be a longer process than anticipated. I arranged with the kitchen to have a hot chocolate and snack cart delivered so everyone is on a chocolate and marshmallow high at the moment and having a good time. There is a fairly high turnaround in this business. People burn out like old candles after a while. The employees working in the memory units of such establishments really need a huge pat on the back. It is not an easy job, and to be good at it requires much empathy and an extra special dose of patience. Like so many businesses, we are short staffed this year. The pandemic really threw a wrench in the works when it comes to employment. The recruiting sites appear to have an abundance of jobs and I have admit I am curious as to where the workers who used to fill these positions have disappeared to. Applying for a job I’ve noticed has become a real process. I pulled an “application packet” for a prospective employee yesterday that should have been delivered on a hand truck. When I accepted the position here, before I could finalize my paperwork, I had to be fingerprinted, pass a background check, and get a complete physical. Then, I had to go through a grueling two weeks of watching mind numbing videos before I could actually begin to learn the job I was hired for. Amazing. If I was going to be pivotal in planning the next moonshot for NASA, it would make sense, but for a two day a week concierge position at a 56 bed nursing home it smacks a bit of overkill. Just my opinion, naturally, and as far as I know nobody asked me to toss it in the ring. For my part, I’m just happy to have found a little niche that I can fit myself comfortably in. I work two consecutive eight hour days and can call the rest of the week my own. I make enough in both paychecks to nicely pad my income every month thus allowing me to do some of the frills and extras I like to enjoy. This without attracting much interest from the IRS and having to give a lot of it back. All good on all counts.

One of the perks a little extra jing in my bank account will afford me, is I will be getting on a plane on Monday morning for a visit to Oregon. A friend of mine sharing a very close birthday date with me has invited me up to see her new apartment and do a little celebrating. Yay. I find myself unusually nervous about flying this time. Not because it simply isn’t fun anymore (to me it’s like boarding a bus in the sky), but because it’s all so different since twelve years ago when I last boarded a plane. I have to measure my cosmetics apparently and can only take 3 oz. of each. K. I am taking a carry on bag a friend gave me. Now, let me preface this by saying I am not well known for my light packing skills. Usually I take enough with me that should we say be snowed in for the entire winter, I will be adequately suited up without having to do a load of laundry. Looking at the suitcase open on my bed last night, it looked as if I put in two pairs of underwear and a pair of socks, I would have reached full capacity. Hmmmmm. So, I’ll carry a big handbag I figure. Perhaps I could wear multiple layers and then peel myself like an onion when I get there. If it’s cold here, it’s colder there, so I have to put something in my bag besides underwear and socks to survive.

I have not been in Oregon since 1990. My ex-husband and I made our home in Longview, Washington that year and often traveled down to Oregon to shop (no sales tax) or enjoy a day on the beautiful Oregon coast. If it wasn’t for the fact it insists on snowing there every winter, I really found the northwest a gorgeous place to collect my mail. From time to time when I get to examining the high cost of living here in Northern California, which is every time I get gas, go to the grocery store, or write out my rent check, I think about relocating north. Probably that is as far as I’ll ever get from actually doing it, but I do like to think about it on occasion.

So, I have put away the first four hours of my shift and will head off to lunch. When it’s slow like this getting away from my desk and getting a new perspective even for a half an hour can be helpful. If all else fails, I can drown my sorrows by digging into all the leftover Halloween candy left in the break room.

Have a great weekend. Stay dry, or dance in the rain, whichever is your preference.

Read Full Post »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your day. Enjoy every day. Talk soon.

Read Full Post »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will write more next time and include some pictures.

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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: