Archive for the ‘moving forward’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Outside my window rain is pouring down, in June, in California. This is a big statement. Wow, this weather is really bizarre. It’s not a light sprinkling either, but actual real, heavy, precipitation. I am most impressed. Weirdest thing. A huge crow just catapulted down from my roof. Now he’s walking around my front yard shaking his head. Shocking weather for him too apparently.

Conversely, yesterday was a gorgeous mid eighties early summer day. A friend had offered to help me shape up my yard which of late isn’t wearing it’s happiest face. My landlord is supposedly on the hunt for new gardeners, as the old ones were awful. They were a crew of three. Every two weeks they would swoop down on my yard, and be in and out picking things clean like locust. Once I asked them to weed the bed towards the front and they simply used the weed eater and eliminated all the viable ground cover. One mows, one blows (to me they all blew), and the other one dumps the compostibles in the bin. The one who had the blower, seemed to just blow everything in a corner. When the first breeze kicked up, it was all right back where it had been in the first place. I was taught by my grandmother early on in my development, if you’re going to do a job, do it to the best of your abilities. Was she out in the yard with these guys holding her rolling pin, I have a feeling things might have gotten done right.

Accepting the offer of yard work help, my friend and I got an early start. The first stop we made was to the nursery, along with everyone else within twenty miles, to pick up potting soil and some additional plants. I didn’t want to get my usual hefty supply of annuals, because the water situation is such here in California, I was afraid wouldn’t be able to keep them alive. It’s amazing how quickly the tab adds up when you start piling gardening supplies in a cart. Whew. I mortgaged the farm, and had to sign Boo, the Queen of Cats, into indentured servitude working in the fields for a couple of months. Don’t pity her, trust me, the feline could use the exercise. I didn’t need to get much really in the way of plants, as I had a lot of full pots waiting for repotting already in the yard sent for my mother’s passing. People were kind enough to send some lovely plants which definitely needed some attention. I’m so proud the enormous orchid sent by my dad’s family is still alive and thriving. Usually, they are down to bare limbs by this time under my care. Every time I walk by it and see all the wonderful blooms, I say, “you’re welcome”.

The mercury retrograde was thankfully over Friday afternoon, and a miserable one it was. I could almost feel the energy lighten and lift as it was on it’s way out. Amazing how the alignment of the planets can effect we minuscule beings inhabiting this lovely piece of the universe. For those of you scratching your heads going retro what? A mercury retrograde is when the planet Mercury appears to be taking a backward tour in the sky. The general state of affairs thought to be present during a retrograde event is electronics breaking down, emotions running high or low, and general chaos prevailing. In order to come out unscathed, believers suggest you enter such a phase prepared. Back up your computers, make sure you have air in your car tires, etc., etc., and remember to breathe, and then breathe some more. There is also a plus side. A retrograde can be a time of reflection and introspective thinking. For me, I’d rather be sailing. I’ve done enough reflective thinking over the past four years and my coffers are full. Let’s get some air in those sails and get out on the Bay instead, I say.

So, with the retrograde at our backs, I felt it was a safe and positive time to get busy in my garden. Gloves and sun hats in place, we took out our bags of soil, gardening tools and hoses, and dug happily in the soil for three hours. There is something positively rejuvenating about planting that revitalizes my soul. Perhaps it serves to reconnect us with our beginnings. My friend, a person who enjoys conversations with every living creature from ground squirrel to robin when we walk together once a week, is truly a human who aligns herself beautifully with the earth. Like a puppy or small child, she plopped herself down soundly on her behind in the wet grass and had at it with plants scattered all around us. As to me, I managed to get an equal amount of dirt on myself as I did in the pots I was working with so a good time was had by all.

I was glad to get the garden behind me. The next few weeks look hectic in my world. As I said in my previous blog, my calendar has felt a bit tight lately. I seem to be bouncing along like an out of control ball rolling down a steep hill. Work will be on the agenda as well I suspect pretty soon so that should make things even more interesting when it comes to keeping up with my schedule. Last week I had something, or several somethings penciled in each and every day. Tuesday is always a busy day for me, and there were four notations under that day. Whew. I made it to three. Yesterday, while digging in the dirt I thought of a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in a while, and was reminded of a lunch date we had made over the phone several weeks ago. Oh-oh. Opening my calendar, sure enough her name popped up under Tuesday last with a notation “Lunch with…… at…….”. Hmmmmm. According to my notes, were supposed to meet at a favorite restaurant at 11:30. My bad. I called her number, already feeling the humble pie repeating itself I knew I was going to have to eat. She answered sweetly, “thanks for ditching me”. Somehow, though I heard a sugary tone, I didn’t feel the sweetness oozing through my end of the phone. I asked why she hadn’t called me when I didn’t show up. She politely explained, because she was upset. Oh. Apologizing, I explained how busy, busy I have been, which sounded lame even to me as I was saying it. Apparently, she had waited thirty minutes before ordering and eating alone. Sorry. Truth is, no matter how busy we are, we tend to make room for, and remember, what is important to us.

I try to do my best for my friends. Obviously, I don’t always rise to the bar. My friends are really the foundation of my life these days, and sweet Boo, the Queen of Cats. I am also exploring the newest addition to my world in the new man I am learning about. This is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. A new relationship is so full of highs and lows it makes West Virginia look like flatland. Sometimes I want to run, but mostly I am curious about the new being I am observing across the table from me fairly often over the past several months. It is fun to get to know new things about him, and share old things about me, which are new to him. Where this will lead I have no idea, but for today it is something I am interested in seeing through to it’s natural end, wherever that might be.

Well, I am off for lunch with a friend on this surprising rainy day. Happy Sunday to you. Finish that book, call a friend, or put your feet up, find a great movie and push “play”.

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I have to say, this has been the most miraculous week, and it’s only Wednesday!! First, as I wrote in my previous blog, I had a glorious day with a friend where I saw a mother hummingbird sitting on her tiny nest. This was a first in my life. At my age, there are less and less firsts, and many, many, more thirds, fourths, and fifths. So, in my world, a first was much cause for celebration. The sight of the small little creature huddled atop her eggs had the most incredible uplifting effect my soul.

Then Monday, I went for a walk at a local park with a friend of mine, an avid nature lover. Going for a walk with Barbara, which I do every Monday, is always an experience. Barbara stops to talk to every squirrel, each tiny bursting bud on a limb, butterflies, and passing bees. Truth be known, she’s a bit of a squirrel herself, but a very lovable one of the kindest variety. I am not telling tales out of school here. She would describe herself in such a way was she seated at the keyboard banging on the keys instead of me. Sometimes I’ll catch a passerby eying her with curiosity while she bends over a daisy to greet it for the day. Never bothers me. I have enough life experience behind me now, not to give much weight to what other people think about my behavior, or the behavior of my friends. It is most important to be true to who you are, and as long as who you are isn’t hurting anyone or anything, what possible difference does it make? Personally, I like my friends to possess a few wrinkles and kinks. Certainly, I have plenty of my own to go around, so why would I want to stand out in a group of Persian cats as the only alley cat? Hanging out with people who have no issues, to me at least, would be like reading a book without a plot.

After our walk, we stopped to have a light brunch el fresco at a lovely little farm/restaurant in the country. Spring flowers were in bloom everywhere around us. Brunch was an omelet piled high with fresh ingredients, accompanied by a side of house made bread with apricot/raspberry jam. Yum, and double yum. There are times when I find myself filled to the brim with gratefulness for my life, and this week is definitely one of those times.

Driving home after eating, I remembered I wanted to stop by a shoe store located in the downtown area. Barbara and I had discussed this previously. She said she had been there and new exactly where the shop could be found. My podiatrist has been after me for some time to get some good walking shoes. Most days I walk about forty minutes. The shoes I have been wearing, though a well known brand, apparently don’t offer my feet enough support. I have kept these shoes for longer than I normally would for several reasons. The first, Rick bought them for me, and they hold sentimental value. Secondly, they are well broken in and don’t pinch or poke me anywhere. However comfortable and well loved, they are causing sores on the bottom of my feet which is affecting my alignment from my toes to the top of my neck. Amazing how one part of you being out of whack can impact so many other areas on your body. But, I digress. Locating the store, and a coveted downtown parking spot, we walked up the main drag. Our town is small and quaint. A lot of the buildings are the original structures with upgrades and refacing to bring them into this century. The shoe shop was in the middle of the block, the door open. Yay.

On the left hand wall as you walked in, shoes of all kinds were on display. The sales woman emerged from the back room and after introductions, we discussed the reason for my visit. Asking me to remove my shoes, she explained she would have to examine my feet and see how I walked before recommending an appropriate shoe. Oh-oh. I don’t air my feet too often. During the summer months, I have regular pedicures to pretty them up, but modeling agencies are never going to court me as a likely candidate for foot modeling gigs. Rick used to say, “Put some socks on those ughs. You are scaring small children.” He was kidding, of course, but somehow I sensed there might be some underlying truth to the statement. At any rate, socks in place, I walked back and forth across the store. After watching how my feet hit the ground, she proclaimed I had high arches and one foot bigger than the other. Good news. I had looked at the shoes on the wall without my glasses when I came in. To me it looked like they ranged from $50-$80, which seemed doable. I am on a budget of sorts lately, so working on keeping my expenses down.

The saleswoman went back to get several shoes in my size, and while she was gone a woman with a friend came in and sat down. While waiting, we all struck up a casual conversation. Looking at her I would have guessed her to be in her fifties, though she told us later she was sixty-one. As there was only one employee in the store, the woman waited her turn, while I tried on the shoes placed in front of me. I told the lady fitting my feet about Rick giving me my shoes, and that he had passed away and so they meant something to me. Deciding on a pair, when she quoted me a price, I realized what I had taken to be a dollar sign in front of the $50-$80 without my glasses, was actually a “1”. Ouch. $180 for a pair of walking shoes would be stretching my budget far and beyond what I’d planned. Not wanting to charge them, I asked her to hold them until the following day and I would get cash out of my savings account to cover them. Done and done. Before leaving the store I had already decided the shoes were too pricey for me this month, apologizing to my feet. My wounded piggies would simply have to deal. As we were leaving, the saleslady handed me the box with the shoes in it. Confused, I began to explain this would have to wait until the next day, or possibly never. The other customer, Elvera, I would come to find out, came up and hugged me and said “I bought them for you”. “What”? Seriously, “What”? Immediately I handed them back. Elvera handed them again to me, saying this was to be her gift as well as mine. Not knowing how else to respond and feeling totally overwhelmed, I started to cry. What else can you do when faced with such unexpected kindness? She asked that I not ruin the gift for either of us by not accepting them, but to pay it forward down the road. I promised I would. Wow and double wow. My angels are always out there. Learning how to receive is equally as important as learning how to give. It is not a pill I easily swallow. I tell you all this so that it gives you hope. The world is a bit of a hodge podge upside down mess right now, and we need light to penetrate the dark corners. It emphasizes to my mind that nice people with good intentions pass us every minute of the day and reinforces the belief when you are down or sad, a hand, a friend or a strangers, will reach out to touch you. This is not about the shoes. Rather, it is about an experience I will forever carry with me. Somewhere in my life, when the situation arises, I will pass on Elvera’s kindness to someone else who needs a lift. With these shoes on my feet gifted by a stranger with love, I will continue on my way in my journey wherever it leads me now. Lovely.

Life is defined by it’s surprises, both the good surprises and the bad. The grief group I have been attending will host a goodbye party in two weeks. Another chapter will close, with a new one beginning. The friends I’ve made there will remain, and the stories we shared will be held by the group attending. Grief is a process I have gone through and will most likely continue to work my way through, but it does not define me. My feet, with my new walking shoes, are ready to take me in new directions, and explore new unknowns.

Remember how much a small act of kindness can impact another human being. Offering someone with two items behind you when you have a full cart a bump up in line, opening a door, smiling as you pass a homeless person pushing a cart. Each act you do ripples across the universe. Happy Wednesday.

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Here I am! It’s been a most welcome rain laden week here in the bone dry foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. How glorious to see water cascading down my windows and to watch the plants and trees lift up their heads to respond to a good dowsing of spring precipitation.

On the subject of plants, flowers, plants and cards keep arriving on behalf of my mother’s passing. My spare bedroom is beginning to look a bit like a florist shop. Recently, I came home to find the largest orchid I’ve ever seen waiting for me on my front porch. The stem nearly eclipsed my front door. If orchids could have an expression, this one would have worn one when it saw me that said, “Oh, no!!!! It’s her.” Had it legs, it would have bolted down the street and disappeared around the corner. The word is out, I do not have good luck with orchids. The last one barely made it a month before I held a small ceremony for it over the trash can to wish it well on it’s last journey. I’ve tried ice cubes, less water, more water, gentle pleading, and still watch in sadness as the lovely petals float to the ground one at a time until there are none remaining. Dum, du, dum, dum, dummmm.

I also have four large outdoor plants sent by family and friends to plant in mother’s honor. I am trying to decide where to plant these. My roots don’t grow very deep these days. I’ve lived in my current home for nearly three years, but with the cost of living going up I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to sustain remaining here. As I’ve said, I need to generate some income, so that is on the agenda front and center as soon as I return from a short vacation already planned for May. Planting them here, would be mean leaving them here. The people who sent them each included a wish they be put in the soil either where I am, or family is, to remind us of our missing piece. Hmmmm. For now, I will leave them in their respective pots until I’ve figured out my plan for the future, and concentrate on not offing the absolutely gorgeous unsuspecting orchid sitting on my window sill.

Yesterday, I went on a local art tour with a friend of mine. The weather after the recent rain, was glorious, with temperatures ranging in the mid eighties. Overhead, the sky was the most brilliant blue, only to be interrupted when white billowy clouds floated by from time to time. The tour involved twelve artists, each inviting the public into their galleries and studios to view, and purchase, if desired, their artwork. Wow. When you see artisans so truly dedicated to their craft it is humbling. Made me immediately want to come home and take out my sketch books. Boy, I was definitely suffering from “studio envy”. These established artists had large well lit spaces to create their work. Decided I need to manifest that in my own life. As I say often, you can’t sit around waiting for life to happen to you, you have to get out there and make it happen for you. How, well that’s another story, yes?

Along with finding the studios impressive, and the artwork created there, the houses we visited were quite beautiful as well. The first, was a huge structure, with an massive back yard. The artist was from Japan, and the yard clearly reflected his cultural background. Gorgeous metal fountains, each different than the next, lent a zenlike feeling to the area. Impressive arrays of colorful flowers sprung up from the beds by the fence and a long vegetable garden dominated the right side of the property. In one corner, perhaps my favorite part of the day, the artist directed us to a huge bush. On one branch, towards the back, rested a diminutive nest. Tucked inside was the tiniest of hummingbirds. We were told she was sitting on several eggs waiting to be hatched. Nature, as always, of all things in life, has the power to move me beyond explanation. So tiny was this little mum, and though big human faces were looming in at her from outside her hiding place, she remained fast on her perch guarding her little ones. So sweet that was.

Around noon, we discovered a French restaurant neither of us had frequented. Passing it, we were drawn in by the exterior which was reminiscent of a structure you might find along a Paris street. Lunch on their patio was creamy eggs Benedict eaten under the abundant shade of the huge trees. Beyond the cement, were lavender bushes in full bloom, and music played in the background. All in all, it made for one of the better parts of a nearly perfect day.

At the last stop we made, we discovered a park adjacent to it where they had zip lining. The zippers, if you will, repelled across what used to be an operating rock quarry. I definitely have this penciled in for my future, the when and where still left to be determined. For me, careening across the treeline of the Amazon would be the ideal backdrop, but I don’t see that happening in either the near or the distant future in my world. I did take steps in my traveling hopes this past week, by actually filling out the paperwork to get my passport renewed. Where I’m going I don’t know yet, but wherever the wind blows me, I will have my paperwork in order to be able to get there. Check and check.

So, I am off to church with a friend this Sunday morning. A little chicken soup for the soul. My mind is open to all ways of looking at this world, unless harmful or malignant. I try to take a ladle from this pot, and then a ladle from that. Let’s face it, no one really knows the universe’s most well kept secrets up until this point, so who’s beliefs are right and who’s are wrong is still open for discussion. To my mind, if what you believe works in your life and doesn’t hurt others, then it is right for you. Thankfully, in this country, each of us is granted the option to follow our own logic and way of thinking. No one has the right to declare themselves the only one with all the answers as of this writing as far at least as I am aware.

Have a blessed day. Dance with the butterflies and smell the delicate fragrances spring has in her bag for you on this lovely Sunday. Kiss a frog, make a friend, be open to all that is wild and beautiful. When we are surrounded with so much unrest sometimes, we must find peace within ourselves.

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Along with the entire world feeling a bit like a shoe that doesn’t fit these days, the weather here in Northern California has been totally unpredictable. A week ago I was running about in shorts and flip flops and today I have on a sweater, boots and a puffer coat. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind when swapping my winter clothes for lighter weight summer ones to hold out a few sweaters “just in case”. Day before yesterday we were treated to actual rain. I know! I was sure it would really rain because I washed my car the day before. Maybe if I washed my car more often, our rain buckets would look more abundant?

Sunday night I sat down after a very busy weekend to relax and watch the Oscars. “Not so fast”, Susie. I’m watching as Chris Rock takes the stage as a presenter. For those of you unfamiliar with what happened next (if you are I will have to assume you live in either a cave in Tibet or an underground bomb shelter), the comedian told a poorly chosen joke at the expense of Jada Pinkett Smith, poking fun at her hair loss. Smith suffers from alopecia and has shaved her head. Seeing the uncomfortable expression on his wife’s face, Will Smith suddenly launched out of his seat. Smith made his way with determination to the stage and proceeded to to knock the molars out of Rock’s mouth, figuratively not literally. Returning to his seat, Smith then treated the audience present and at home to a string of expletives while a stunned Rock was still trying to compose himself on stage. What was that all about one asks? I thought at first this was all staged, but noooooo. Aggressive males seeming to taking center stage all over the planet right now. Perhaps we need to begin to look at the possibility there is too much testosterone floating about in the atmosphere with all the other pollutants? I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m pretty sure jarring someone’s teeth loose is not the optimum solution. Just sayin. Please don’t misunderstand me, I think there’s plenty of blame to go around. I don’t find anything amusing about making fun of someone going through a health issue. However, comedians have been telling mean spirited jokes for years. I remember going to see Don Rickles in Reno once. He could slice through a steel bar with his tongue. My husband wanted to sit at the front by the stage, but I vetoed that whole program. Personally, I don’t find humor that demeans other people funny, but that’s personally.

When my kids were young, I used to tell them to be careful with their words. Words, to my mind, are the most powerful tools we humans have in our arsenals. Well chosen words can wound often far deeper than the sharpest of swords. Once they have been said, though an apology can be offered, they are never truly erased.

Moving on to other subjects, this week is absolutely flying past me. I can’t seem to catch up. Don’t know if it’s the recent time change, or my life has simply gotten busier of late, but everything feels a bit chaotic. Last night I was in the middle of a particularly unsettling dream when a friend called at the most climatic moment. Why is it when you are woken up from a dream a fog settles over you for the rest of the day? Well, perhaps it’s only when I’m woken up from a dream. In my weekly grief group this morning I was so groggy my head kept flopping from side to side like a recently caught catfish lying on the bottom of the boat. For a moment I was afraid I was going to fall asleep and face plant on the desk in the middle of the presentation.

Being in a group of like minded individuals, or in this case other human beings sharing a common thread, has for me been the bridge to allow me to cross over to the other side in my grief process. Having two men die in a row of the same disease within a four year period has been a large pill to swallow. One thing I will say is, going through the first experience, provided me with a lot of tools which I have used to traverse the second more easily, or at least understand the process better. I feel at last as if I’ve stepped out from beneath the shadow of a massive tree, and can feel the sun shining fully on my face. Now that I am standing in the clearing with nothing before me but space, I must determine what to fill that space with going forward.

Life is such a curious experience, I think, having added some notches to my belt at this stage of the game. It’s not a place where you can really sit down, put up your feet, lean your head back and ever totally relax. It always seems it is at the time I assume that posture, something seems to show up that has me back up and standing on my feet again.

I had lunch today with a gentleman interested in having lunch with me. When he asked to get together, I thought “why not”. I’m not sure what adventures the next few years will promise, but I am open to looking at new faces and learning more about them, or exploring the possibilities of what or who is out there. I found when driving into the restaurant parking lot, I had a flutter (the collective name for a group of them) of butterflies doing a samba in my digestive track. I haven’t “dated”, if you will, since I met Rick in 2000. Things have changed. I have changed. The walk to the front door was dominated by a conversation being engaged in between my head and my feet, with my head telling my feet to continue walking in the direction they were headed and not to turn and run the length of the parking back to my car. When I walked inside and saw him seated on a bench, my mind began screaming at me “run, save yourself”. In spite of the incessant nagging going on between my ears, I managed to say hello. The hostess greeted us, and led us to a booth towards the back of the room. Handing us each a menu and asking about drinks, we were then left to our own devices. After getting the initial “weather updates and how are you’s” out of the way, we began the age old ritual of getting to know one another. He talked about himself, I commented. I talked about myself, he commented. I looked at him over the rims of my glasses, and he, in turn, looked at me over his.

I ordered lunch, because that was, after all, why we were there. I had decided I wasn’t going to be anything but who I am, and who I am likes to eat. After a few moments of awkward conversation the food arrived. As we began to eat and talk, we also began to relax. The time passed easily between us and before long I found I was enjoying myself. When our time together had ended, we agreed it would be nice to get together again. Whether this happens or not remains hidden around the bend, but if it does, I believe I will look forward to looking at him over my glasses once again and learning more of his story.

Anyhow, new beginnings. This does not mean the people left behind aren’t carried with me, but only that I am making room for new experiences and saying yes to new possibilities.

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Installers showed up at 7:30 a.m. this morning to put in my new dishwasher. Murphy was already busy in my kitchen, as he often is, and at first they couldn’t get the old dishwasher out in order to replace it with the new one. After numerous calls to the “office”, the old dishwasher was at last coaxed out of it’s nesting place, and loaded on the truck. I breathed a small sigh of relief. “It’s happening”, said my brain. “Not so fast chickie”, says Murphy, “I’m not done with you quite yet”. The new dishwasher was brought in, and relieved of it’s wrapping. The two men installing it could be heard in the kitchen talking and grunting, then grunting and talking. Oh-oh. Pretty soon, the one gentleman who seemed to be in charge, showed up in the living room where I was sitting. From the look on his face, this was not going to be the “Thanks for shopping at Lowe’s. Let us know if there are any problems in the future.” speech he usually gave on his way out the door. Turns out, the new dishwasher was 2″ too large and would not fit in the hole. A call was put into my landlord, who lives directly across the street. Three men now stood in the kitchen pulling off their hats and scratching their heads, replacing their hats and huddling in a circle, looking in the hole, then inspecting the appliance, and repeat. International peace talks have been less involved.

The two men from the store were absolutely wonderful, I have to say. I pick on bad service quite often in my blog, because it is a pet peeve of mine. Conversely, I try to say something positive when the opposite is true. The “in charge” gentleman looked as if he was going to get teary at not being able to make this work for me. Before leaving, he gave me several hints on how to redeem some money (or my landlord’s money) which was very nice of him. My landlord had to now spend the morning in the kitchen drills whirring and hammers banging restructuring my shelves. Ah well, at least he is capable of doing the revisions that need to be made.

It’s not like I have to have a dishwasher. Homes all over the world have survived without them for years. However, I have gotten spoiled, and like the idea of having one for convenience sake, water conservation, and sanitary reasons. When Rick and I were living in our house on the lake, we installed three dishwashers in the eleven years that we lived there. Murphy really had his way with us in that house. It was such a gorgeous place to live, but it could really play with your mind and your pocketbook from time to time. One weekend, I filled the dishwasher as usual, plopped a cube of soap in the dispenser and pushed start. I was on a spring cleaning tear so the racks were stacked with containers and glass candle holders that hadn’t been spit and polished over the winter season. Among the items I’d included were the soap dispensers from each bathroom, of which there were three bathrooms two dispensers each. I had rinsed them well, but apparently not well enough. The kitchen cleaned, Rick and I sat at the counter enjoying our second cup of coffee. He was facing me with the dishwasher chugging away behind me when suddenly he stood up and said, “what is that”? Well, he said more than that, but this is a family blog so I can’t include the remainder of the dialog. “What”, I said, turning around in the direction he was pointing? Oh-oh. Soap bubbles were oozing out of the top, bottom and sides of the dishwasher. Really it was kind of pretty had the bubbly cloud not been growing at such an alarming rate. Apparently, the residue soap remaining in the dispensers was having quite a party in there. Who knew? Rick pushed pause, and opened the door. Ummmm, perhaps not the best idea he’d had that day. Like The Blob, the mass of soapy goo stretched out of it’s tight enclosure and wrapped around Rick like snake curling around a tree branch. Even his glasses had bubbles. Wish I’d thought to take a picture. Would have definitely won on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Unfortunately he was not 1/4 as amused as I was. What a mess that was. It took me weeks to get the dishwasher back to normal. Don’t try this at home.

We had a number of water related disasters while living in that home. One, particularly costly, was started by a leak in the copper tubing connecting our ice maker to the water source. It was a small leak, which drip, drip, dripped it’s way undetected for God knows how long. When it finally couldn’t remain behind the scenes anymore, it made an impressive leap right onto the front page. The first indication something was amiss were two panels of wood flooring buckling slightly in front of the refrigerator. I mentioned this to Rick several times. We owned our restaurant at the time and with everything else going on, the observations went on our “we’ll worry about this later” list and didn’t get addressed. On this particular day, I went down to the spare bedroom on the second floor located directly under our kitchen. Walking into the room my eyes were drawn immediately to this huge bubble looming down from the ceiling overhead. Seriously, it looked like an elephant had fallen through into a sling. You could say it was “the elephant in the room”. Drops of water had formed on the lower surface of the bulge, with a drizzle steadily falling on the carpet and furniture below. Turning to run up to tell Rick, I heard before I saw the tear begin to rip open in the bubble. I don’t know how long that small leak had been accumulating, but it felt like half the ocean was cascading down on me. When it had completely emptied, there was a massive gaping hole overhead with exposed framework and rotted drywall. For months, we had to have huge drying fans going down there to prevent mold from growing, and next hire a crew for mold abatement to get rid of any existing mold. It was somewhat of a nightmare. Well over a year later, or more, we finally closed the hole again and had a new ceiling. I used to lie in bed sometimes late at night until the repairs were done, wondering what critters now had access through that entrance to our universe. I had nightmares of opening my eyes and finding two beady little red ones staring back at me. Insert shiver here.

Water is on my mind because there were actually rain drops in our weather forecast for tomorrow. Been awhile. The last rain predicted a week or so ago, distributed about five drops on my windshield when I headed out for the morning. Not exactly a downpour. The west coast is painfully dry as we head into the summer months. It’s getting so summer brings dread to my mind rather than thoughts of sandy beaches, backyard barbecues and the smell of suntan lotion. I do love spring, however, and am trying to stay in the moment as the flowers begin to stick their lovely heads out to catch some rays and my yard once again becomes the backdrop for colorful blooms and buzzing insects. My bunnies and spring arrangements have replaced my winter decor. Last week when the weather was in the eighties I actually allowed my white legs out to get a light sprinkling of healthy color so as not to blind passersby when I venture out in shorts again. Life, at the moment, is holding and feeling rather glorious. Yay

Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. We have added another candle to her cake, and celebrated as a family we were all together. Hope your weekend brought a fresh breath of spring to your life. Have a great Sunday!!

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I have been getting a lot of SOS signals from friends lately who have been experiencing sadness, poor attention spans, or some even feeling a bit weepy. From what I’m hearing on the news channel, this range of emotions is not limited to my circle of companions. There’s a sort of general malaise running through our society after two plus years of COVID. In my case, I have noticed in the last few months I am certainly more distracted. Friday, for example, I had an appointment at the opthamologist. The office is located in the cluster of buildings in town where most of my physicians have their practices. Arriving the allotted fifteen minutes early, I was number five in line. When it was my turn at the counter, I answered the usual barrage of COVID related questions and moved on to provide my name and DOB. Keying in my information, after a moment of staring intently at the computer screen, the desk clerk said, “You don’t seem to have an appointment today”. “That’s odd”, I said, pulling the card out the side pocket of my purse with confidence and handing it to her. After looking at the card she said, “Well you are correct, you do have an appointment today, and as you said, it is at 9:00.” “Ah Hah”, says my mind. “However, this is the dermatologist office”. Ohhhhhhh. I considered walking sideways to the door like a crab scurrying across the sand so as not to make eye contact with any of the people in the waiting room who I was sure had heard the exchange. Instead, I said, “thank you”, and took a brisk walk of shame to the front door. Thank God for masks. Wow.

At the correct office shortly thereafter, the eye doctor suggested I use a face mask morning and night on my eyes for my allergies. He went on to say I could order an appropriate mask at Amazon. Of course. You can order everything at Amazon. Need a kidney? Surely someone at Amazon has one for sale. Good news was I had been through this routine before, so had one at home I could start using right away. The mask is made of canvas material stuffed with little beads. You heat it for 25 seconds in the microwave and then apply the mask to your eyes for 5 mins. Not rocket science. I got up this morning and after significant rummaging, located the mask in a drawer. It seemed a good idea to get this procedure over with before washing my face and beginning my day. I went in the kitchen, poured a cup of much needed coffee, and placed the mask on a paper plate pushing 25 seconds on the key pad. Hearing my phone ring in the bedroom, I went off to answer it and became involved in a conversation. A foul smell suddenly filled the bedroom. Huh? Ending my call, I went into the kitchen to find the microwave counting down most likely from 25 minutes instead of 25 seconds. The material had split open like a dropped watermelon, spewing the contents out in a putrid smoking pile on the plate. Whoops. That’s not good. Once I got the smoldering mess in the sink, the smell was so pungent I began to wonder if I’d created noxious fumes, so I opened all the windows (even if it was thirty degrees outside) and turned on the fan. It took nearly an hour for the house to smell normal again. Sitting in front of my laptop I typed “Amazon” and ordered a replacement. I really do need a keeper these days.

My days have become super busy this month. I am not complaining, because I like to be busy, but they are just a tad overly busy the next few weeks even to my liking. Today my appointments were lined up like ducks in a row. The earliest one was an annual x-ray at 8:30. I arrived, checked in and sat down to wait to be called. The man next to me was probably in his late eighties. Little old men like this gentleman are cute. I know that sounds terribly sexist, most likely because it is, but sexist or not this guy was cute with a captial C. There he sat without displaying one hint of discomfort, wearing his Christmas pajama bottoms and slippers, accessorized by his jeans jacket, a fishing hat and what looked to be one of his lady’s scarves. Very nice. This is not making fun of him (well maybe just a twinkle) but more I admired him for being comfortable enough in his own body to show up without apology dressed exactly as he was. Sitting there, we shared a word or two on the usual waiting room subject, the weather. According to the weatherman on the morning news, it is to be unseasonably warm outside the rest of the week. The man sitting across from me in cargo shorts and a short sleeved tee apparently had already gotten the memo.

The temperatures are predicted to be hovering in the mid to high seventies this week. This would be truly nearly perfect weather, for June. February, not so much. California weather is for the most part ideal year round. However, with the current drought situation continuing to plague the state creating dangerous fire scenarios, seeing this kind of heat this early in the year doesn’t bode well for what’s coming our way during the summer months ahead. Another side effect is the trees, shrubs, and plants are blooming in the faux spring atmosphere and my allergies are responding. Next Monday I begin allergy shots in an attempt to pre-empt allergy season this year which usually begins in May for me. Last year I had a series of allergy test which revealed I am allergic to just about everything outside as well as inside, including Boo, the Queen of Cats. Boo is staying, so hopefully this will make spring a little easier on my nasal passages. Also, I have been on maintenance steroids for about five years and would love to wean myself off. This could make that possible. I have my fingers crossed.

When my appointment schedule had been satisfied, I came home and took out my cleaning products. I guess the spring feel in the air triggered my need to clean out closets, and move furniture and clean behind things. I spent the good part of the afternoon returning the luster to my tabletops and rediscovering my floors. Yay. Since Dale passed away I’ve sort of taken a busman’s holiday from it all. Slowly but surely, I’m taking steps towards coming back into my world again and that makes my heart happy.

Happy Thursday to you. Almost Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is a difficult day for those of us who are partnerless. The holiday is all about love, romance, and couples staring wistfully into one another’s eyes. Rather than sitting around feeling sad about the whole affair, or lack of one, I am taking an art course. It does remind me, however, of years back sitting in my office one Valentine’s Day. I was going through a very painful divorce. Love, at least for me at the time, had hit a bit of a sour note. At lunch I had to spell the receptionist so she could eat. While I sat there I was bombarded with a parade of roses, chrysanthemums, and carnations being delivered for the ladies in the office behind me. Oooohs and Ahhhhhs were the words of the day. What a miserable day that was. On the way home I stopped at the store and bought myself a lovely bouquet, a bottle of wine, and a large chocolate cake, which would end up being my dinner (the wine and the cake, not the flowers). Sometimes a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

Have a great weekend!!!

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I had minor surgery on my back yesterday to remove a cancerous area. This is not my first rodeo when it comes to this type of surgery, and it won’t be my last. As I said in my previous blog, it is the curse of being a fair skinned, light eyed person of English descent. I shall drop a note to the Queen one of these days and tell her I don’t at all appreciate the extra burden my British ancestry has imposed on my life.

The appointment was set for the ungodly hour of 8 am. It’s not like I’m not up with the chickens, but don’t necessarily wish to be on the road that early now that I’m not punching a clock anymore. Several friends called to wish me well, putting me a little behind. I gathered up the accoutrement it appears necessary to get me up and running and locked the door behind me. In the car, I cranked her up, and noted the “check engine light” that keeps turning on and off, was once again front and center on my dashboard. I contacted Ford the other day to get an appointment to get this looked at and the overly burdened lady in their service department told me she could fit me in just before the holidays roll around again this year. Sadly, with everything being so far behind, I told her to add me to the roster. Sigh. What’s a girl to do?

Pulling out into the street I glanced down at my feet only to have instant realization of how distracted I have been of late. Secured on both feet were my big green fuzzy slippers. Thankfully, I noticed before I plodded into the doctor’s office to check in for my appointment looking like an oversized version of Oscar the Grouch. If there are any keepers out there needing work, please leave your applications with my people and I’ll get back to you. Good Lord. So, back in I went, now late, and shoes were put on both feet as it should be. All was well with the world.

The procedure took about an hour. Once they anesthetize you, the worst of it is over. Until, of course, the numbness wears off. I was a dental assistant in a former life. One of the things I liked least about the job, and there were many, was being the one who prepped the syringes. Always, I felt like the executioner getting the noose secured to the scaffold. The practice I worked for specialized in orthodontia. That being said, most of the victims, uh patients, were children. That was difficult for me. Why on earth I ever decided to go into that field to begin with still boggles the mind. I can’t stand the dental office. The smells, the noise, the pain, the blood. I would rather be shot in the foot. What was I thinking? I actually wanted to be a medical assistant, but couldn’t handle the thought of giving people injections. Perhaps neither job was in a field I should have been sniffing around in. As a teen, I wanted to be a nurse for a while, like my paternal grandmother. Somehow I knew my total inability to deal with visceral issues such as throwing up or worse meant I wasn’t ideally suited for training for that profession.

After the surgery, they had me straddle the chair and drink apple juice from a juice cup. A nurse came in and handed me a package of crackers, instructing me to eat them before leaving. With the little shirt on they gave me to wear during the procedure, I felt like a fourth grader. To complete the picture, the doctor kept referring to me as a “peanut” because I am a rather slight human. Truth is, I didn’t mind it. I’ve been called worse. So, I can check that off my list. It felt strange when they asked me to confirm my information at the front desk. One of the questions the lady in reception asked was whether Dale was still my emergency contact. “Sadly, no”, I replied. Watching her delete him from my records felt deep to me. The significance of that action was not lost on my heartstrings. I have to go back every two days and have the bandage changed for twelve days, because where the wound is located I am unable to reach myself. The universe was giving me a clear message, “You’re on your own, kid. Better learn to deal with it.” Heard and received, thank you very much. Driving towards home, my mind told me I needed a treat so before merging onto the freeway I pulled in behind the other cars at the Starbuck’s drive-thru. A caramel frappuccino has cured many a rough day for me.

After I came home, I gave myself a rare pass for the day and binge watched Netflix shows and did not one productive thing to support my goal of being a useful human being. It was rather glorious. Wouldn’t want to do it every day, but I think my body was telling me it was tired and needed to rest, and I felt I needed to honor the request.

Today I am stiff, but doing much better. I seem to have picked up some juice after wiling away a 24 hour period on my back eating Doritos and enjoying some chill time watching Grace and Frankie. Definitely, a walk is in my future today before those corn chips decide to take up permanent residence on my posterior side. I had to cancel a session I signed up for several months ago with a local grief group meeting today which saddened me. This was a new group, and I was looking forward to meeting others in the area dealing with the loss of a spouse or life partner. With things as they are right now with the bug, going into an unknown group of people who have a choice of whether to mask up or not is not an option for me. Between my mother, who is most vulnerable, and our littlest member, who is three, I can’t take the chance of bringing a hitchhiking germ home with me.

One thing I remind myself frequently, as these are challenging times, is that a year from now things will look different. As with everything, the tide will go out again and we will return to normal (whatever normal might be). So, I forge on undaunted and plan to clean out closets and drawers today in case the Queen stops by for tea.

Take a breath, drink in the glorious pink colors cascading across the sky as the sun comes up, and hold tight to the good thoughts of better days to come.

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Dale’s celebration of life was Sunday. Once the ashes have been distributed, this will be the last of the rites associated with his dying to complete, at least for us. What a wonderful tribute it was to a man who believed life was all about love and service. All the time and care he dolled out liberally to those around him was really evident in the standing room only crowd, as well as the multitude of faces popping up on the Zoom screen. We, his family, spoke first, then people lined up on both sides of the room to say a word or two to honor Dale. It was at the Elk’s Lodge, so two huge elk busts presided over the front of the room. I kept picturing Dale straddling one of their sets of massive antlers taking it all in.

Going through this process again reminded me how important it is to be present in the day, even the moment you are in. As I’ve said often, life can change in an instant. A right turn instead of a left, a connection you missed at the airport, a spot you didn’t notice on your leg. Life, as they say, is capricious. Those of us who have been in the trenches more often, develop stronger armor I believe. When you are faced with adversity and struggle, through it you will most likely add a little more support to your arsenal and know better how to get through the maze the next time you are faced with it.

Looking in front of me, I see a lot of blank pages yet to be written on. Behind me, the pages are filled with pictures, words, smudges where tears have fallen, lipstick stains from kisses, and hearts and smiles. What to write on the pages not yet written on remains to be seen. I have been pro-active with building a foundation for my new life over the past week. Yesterday I went to the gym, my mind yelling and screaming the whole time “Turn back before it’s too late. Run save yourself”. In spite of the dire warnings being issued by my internal monitors, I pushed open the door and went in to the reception area. The Manager of Sales, a lovely young woman by the name of Seasons, guided me around the facility. As I’ve said, for me the smell of sweat and machine grease is not an incentive to pick up a free weight and jump into the fray. Walking or swimming are my exercises of choice, but actual rigorous workouts in a gym make me want to get on my pony and ride. Seasons took me through a labyrinth of fitness rooms with coed groups grunting and groaning to music or on convoluted looking machines of torture. We ended our tour at the pool area which was perfectly suited to what I had in mind. Yay. On the way out, she took me into the dressing room and locker room area. A lady wearing nothing but her smile was bent in half by the showers, her generously cut behind facing our direction tying her shoes. Hello? OMG. Some things you simply can’t unsee. Now, the logic of tying one’s shoes when naked and wearing no pants defies logic, but really OMG. In spite of the trauma of that moment, I signed up for a year. I’m going to enlist the help of a personal trainer for the first month, so I don’t repeat the pattern of my last two gym experiences and show up on three occasions then spend the rest of my year in physical therapy. Step number one of my rebuilding of Susie project, done and done. Dale would be proud of me. He knew how much I hated the thought of doing this, but encouraged me to do it to keep me vital as I lope into old age. Note here, I never saw him taking a tour. Just sayin’.

Next, I located a grief group in my area which begins the first of January and added my name to the registration list. I have a lovely group I’ve been going to since Rick passed away but they are virtual, and I prefer to attend in person. I will still go to them but not as often, but they are now my friends and I like to keep up with them. Second layer of bricks down, with step number two checked off my list.

Once the tree is tucked away again until 2022, I’ll begin looking for a part-time job. I’m giving myself a little breathing space over the holidays to get situated in my new life. It feels like I’m wearing somebody else’s shoes right now. I can’t get comfortable.

Someone asked me the other day how I feel. Interesting question that oddly comes up often. People don’t ask how I’m doing, but rather seem to want to know how I feel. Perhaps it’s because seeing someone close to them lose someone dear to them, has them looking around at the chickens in their yard. I’m not sure. After searching for an answer to actually describe how I am feeling, I came up with this. Imagine the person you love dearly and share your life with walking out the door and never coming back in again. You will never touch them again, see their face, exchange another word, eat another meal, watch another movie, or create another memory. That, perfectly describes how I feel. This eases, of course, as the days pass. I know this because the process is not unfamiliar to me. However, in the beginning that feeling of unease and unfamiliarity hangs over you like a heavy cloak. I was watching Dancing With the Stars the other night. Amanda Koots is one of the contestants. You may remember her husband, Broadway star Nick Cordero, died of COVID in 2020. Dedicating a dance to him, she said afterwards “When you’re grieving, you feel so alone”. Really true. You could have three hundred people in a room and be unable to locate the one face you are looking for. So, a lesson on the grieving process you perhaps didn’t need today.

On a lighter note, I am moving forward. It is okay to laugh, and feel peace, and have a moment of pure joy. Grieving does not mean you are on your knees in gut wrenching misery 24 hours a day. It is more of waves of sadness and loss that sweep over you and then recede.

So, I feel progress slowly but surely. Dale’s nephew gifted me a weighted blanket that “gives you a hug” when you place it over you. How sweet is that? He left me many angels to take care of me so I am most grateful for that.

Thanksgiving is coming up. Looking forward to digging into some yard bird with my family and friends. Life continues to ebb and flow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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