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My life has been a melange of up ups, peppered with some serious down downs. Having survived the down downs, and finding myself still on my feet, I try to live my life by the mantra “don’t sweat the small stuff”. By small stuff, I mean those significant little irritations in life we humans blow up into unreasonable proportions, then chew on like a bad cut of meat tainting our days with worry and anxiety. These time wasters, zap our energy and lower our ability to find the real joy most of us are searching for.

Yesterday, was a good example of this in my world. I went to Costco with a dear friend. I have let my membership lapse at Costco for several reasons, 1) I don’t need a six pound block of Parmesan, and 2) even though their gas is the cheapest in the area, by the time I drive the forty five minutes and take up place number 25 in line at the pumps, it’s really not worth the effort. There you go. That being said, most of my friends DO have memberships and are kind enough to let me tag along when they visit the store. Yay.

At any rate, I had far more on my shopping list then my friend did, so her list was satisfied by the time we reached the produce section. After that, I filled the cart and she browsed through the shelves. Even though food prices have gone through the roof recently, the amount of people in the store didn’t seem to reflect the uptick. Wading through the humanity in the aisles, at one point I said over my shoulder I was going to go pick up some paper goods. I had the cart, so made my way to the back of the store and piled on what I needed. As of this writing, I’m happy to note I have enough toilet paper to see me through 2030 no sweat. Once I’d satisfied that part of my list, I made my way back to the aisle I had left my friend in, only to find her missing. I went up and down the surrounding aisles without seeing a familiar face. Thankfully, we are all connected at the hip these days, so I retrieved my cell phone from my handbag and texted “where are you?” to which she responded “in the front”. ????? The front of the store, the front of the aisle?? Determining she was up by the registers, I pushed my way through the throng of shoppers and found her waiting for me. Yay. Uh-oh, she looked upset. She explained she had not heard me say I was making a side trip. Oh. I apologized, not sure why, but that is a behavior we women are trained to do from birth. This is something I am seriously working on. A therapist once told me on a visit I made back in my thirties, if there was a third world war I would figure out a way to take responsibility for starting it. Not anymore.

So, I noticed there was still a bit of a chill in the air as we checked our items through the checkout line. This created a visceral reaction in me, because my mother, God love her, had a way of doing this same behavior if upset. She wouldn’t come out and say, “you didn’t put the dishes away like I asked you to”, if she was mad about it. Instead, she would exude an air of icy indifference that would cause you to have to de-ice your nostrils before breathing in the air around her. The irritation traveled with us to the car and to some level remained lightly hovering in the air the rest of the day. I wanted to say, “was this worth it? I got lost in the store and you couldn’t find me for fifteen minutes. Now you are highly irritated which has oozed over onto my playing field and managed to permeate every moment of what should have been a fun and productive outing between two good friends.” I should have, but I did not. “Don’t muddy the waters”, is another lesson I learned well, I am currently trying to unravel. My stepfather used to have a rather tasteless expression he used when someone accidentally broke wind. “Better an empty house than a rotten tenant.” Oddly enough, I believe this applies to our emotional well being as well. What we hold in tends to build up inside of us and begin seeping out our pores or showing up in unhealthy ways in our behaviors. I have decided I will talk to my friend, because I love her, over our next lunch and clear the air. If it does not clear the air, at least the rotten tenant will have to find a new place to reside.

Communication seems to be something we have difficulty with as human beings. In my mid-thirties I was working for a company very pro-active in team building and promoting good communication among it’s employees. To this end, each of us was asked to participate in a communication seminar. The seminar was held in a local hotel, and was three full day sessions. The group I was in, included about thirty of my co-workers. It was a mixed group, men and women, of all ages and types. Of all the classes I have taken of this genre, this was definitely the most illuminating. There were two instructors, one man and one woman. They took us through a lot of different communication scenarios and taught us skills to better handle communicating with the people we work with as well as those populating our personal lives. Often, I have pulled these tools out of my tool box over the years and put them to good use. First, they put us on camera. We were asked to speak for three minutes on the subject of our choice. Easy peasey one might think. Not so fast. When the lens points in your face and you are asked to speak all your little body tics, and betrayals of uncomfortability rise to the surface like a poached egg floating in boiling water. Fear of public speaking is right up there the top of the list of things people most fear. Not bad enough they made us record ourselves, they then played the tapes back on a full screen and we were critiqued by our group on our social behaviors. Ouch. I’m a mover, apparently. This does not surprise me on any level. As I’ve said my friends call me “hummingbird” or “tinkerbell” because I’m a flitter. Flit, flit, flit. Guess this would be considered “Type A” behavior. I’m not Italian, but every appendage I have at my disposal seems to go into action when I am trying to communicate my feelings. Interessante!!!!

Next they discussed body language and intonation of speech. Have you ever asked someone, “would you like to go to a movie”? They answer, “sure”, but the sure is said with such lack of enthusiasm and disinterest you wonder they bothered saying it at all. They said the right response, in the wrong way. Instead of just saying, “I’m not really in the mood”, they told you in another way a movie was not high on their to-do list for that day. Physical “tells” are often a way of expressing yourself. Arm folding, for example. I know I do this when someone is saying something to me I either feel is an attack on me, or I don’t like the tone of the person saying it. Eye rolling is another particularly annoying response when you are talking to someone, or when someone laughs at you when you are feeling particularly passionate about the subject you are speaking to.

In this day and age when everything feels so black and white with so little gray injected in the picture, we perhaps need to learn to communicate better with each other. Listening to what the other person is saying is paramount, rather than waiting for them to finish so you can interject your opinion or point out to them how wrong they are about theirs. Even if we don’t agree, perhaps finding a middle ground where we are comfortable to concede a few points of shared agreement, or at least acknowledge the other parties right to entertain an opinion not on your play list.

There is so much in the air at the moment with regards to women’s rights. I could write the definitive book on how passionately I feel about this subject right here and now and still have so many words left over to express. This is a heated “hot button” topic where people seem to be firmly entrenched in one side or the other with little room for discussion on either side. I am female, which would seem to make it clear where I stand, you would think. However, that is not true in the least. Women stand firmly on both sides of the fence. I believe intrinsically we are all entitled to the right to decide what we do with our own bodies. There is so little privacy left any more in the world. Our personal lives are blasted across social media pages for everyone to see, admire, or pick apart. What we eat, who we associate with, pictures of family vacations, and milestones go up faster than high rise condos in Miami. If you want to know something about or locate somebody, there are sites at the touch of a fingertip ready and willing to offer up for a small fee every piece of available information on that person at their disposal. Our bodies, last I heard, still belonged to us as individuals. There are so many ways to go with this particular topic, so for now I will leave it at that and hold fast to what I believe in. One thing I do know, if men were the ones carrying these babies to term, we would be entertaining a far different line of dialogue, if any dialogue at all. I’m just saying.

So for now, I will simply say we need to begin using our ears as well as our mouths to keep the lines of communication flowing freely. I like to think most of us are doing the best we can to get by and suck some joy out of our lives. People are edgy, prices are high, and there are a lot of angst raising topics floating about in the air out there. Remember to love and forgive. Ask yourself how important something is to you before you go to the mat for it. Last I heard hugs and kisses are still free. Spend them copiously on those you love.

Happy Sunday.

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I am currently pet sitting for a friend of mine. She has two senior felines who truly are the sweetest of beings. The furry mother and daughter are usually waiting for me at the door when I arrive and don’t leave my side until I again make my exit and go home. I believe I am going to sign up to be a kitty sitter once I get the part-time job situation tied up and have some idea what days I will be actually working. I have a second interview at one place today, and a first interview at another on Tuesday. The results seem to be positive from the people I’m interviewing with. I’m not sure whether this can be attributed to my undeniable charisma or the fact that there seem to be more jobs than applicants applying for them in the job market currently. I prefer to think it’s the former because my ego seems to be a bit in the tank over the past few weeks, and I need to add some air to my tires.

I mentioned quite a few blogs back, I had begun dating someone about three months ago. You can cross him off my list. Dating at this age is not an easy process. I believe I’d rather sign up for a daily root canal. Perhaps I should have gotten a puppy and called it good. Men of a certain age are pretty settled on their foundation. I’m sure if I polled the guys in that category, they might express the same opinion about the women they are encountering. The gentleman in question, I thought perhaps might have serious potential. The one big road block to us moving forward was we share different political ideologies. Now, twenty years ago I don’t think I would have looked at this as closely, if at all. Rick and I shared different points of view politically when we met in 2000, and it never interfered in our relationship. Now, however, there are so many “hot button” issues floating around people have dug in firmly joining one camp or the other and there isn’t much going on middle ground. When we realized we were polar opposites politically, we originally agreed to disagree, and decided not to discuss the subject when together. This might have been a solid plan, but our families and our friends all tend to lean into the same values and views as we espouse so, pretty soon that isn’t going to be a fit either. Sigh. Life, at times, feels to me like I’m trying to drag an elephant up a steep slope. The good news will be, and I’m holding on to this tightly, once I get the pachyderm to the top of the hill, I can hop on it’s back and ride easily down the other side.

I’ve talked often about discussing what you want in a relationship with a potential life partner earlier rather than later. Once the hormones have begun to work their magic on your brain, and wherever else they might be doing their magic, it is much harder to take a clear and objective look at the situation. I have asked myself why I want I am even considering bringing another relationship into my life. On that, if little else of late, I do feel clear. I like to have a partner. By nature, I enjoy sharing my life with another person. It’s not that I cannot live a fulfilling and satisfying life without someone else by my side, I certainly can. It is rather, I prefer to share the stage with someone. That being said, I feel as a codicil to that statement, I would rather have a puppy hands down and never share my life with another mate, then be involved in a relationship that was draining or demeaning in any way. I am also crystal clear about that.

So I reset my sail and rethink my destination, and begin my journey on my own once again. At times there is something incredibly freeing about only being in my own company. I find myself more contemplative and likely to to pick up my pens and begin a new piece of artwork when only dealing with me. Also, I begin to think of the things I haven’t done in a while because there was someone else in my life to consider. Thinking along these lines, I realized, one again, how very much I am missing the water. Being by the water, in any form, helps me to free my mind of any heavy or disturbing thoughts, and find joy in simply being. Having mentioned this desire to several friends, I am excited to report my dear friend Nancy, who has two kayaks leaning against her lovely little house in the tall trees, has suggested a day on the lake. The thought of kayaking has always made me a little squirmy. My first question to her after seeing the kayaks was, “how stable are they”? My fear has always been turning over in the water and becoming trapped inside. Nancy assured me her kayaks were not turning upside down any time soon. Though I know this to be probably true I still checked them out with a cautious eye. Fear and I go way back. People seem to think I am not afraid, because I try a lot of different things some people might find a bit edgy. It’s not I’m not afraid, admittedly I seriously am. It is more I feel I am in a tug of war with fear, and am not willing to let my hand hit the table and let it get the best of me. I will report back once the deed is done who won for this round.

Boating is definitely on my mind. It has been a hot, hot week here in northern California, and when the heat is on, I want to get in the water. Boating is one of my favorite activities. I’ve owned two speed boats, one during my second marriage, and one when Rick and I lived in the big house on the lake. Often, after a long and grueling week in the restaurant, he and I would go down to the marina, untie the boat, and motor out to a quiet cove for a swim and dinner. Floating along in the water on a warm summer night you could almost see the tensions of the day lifting up from your body and dissolving into the air above you. Unfortunately, at that time of day these tensions will most likely carried off by a marauding band of mosquitos, but it is peaceful nonetheless. I miss that, I really do, and Rick.

I like most types of boats, but sailing is a particularly lovely way to be on the water. To my mind, anyhow. Unless you are becalmed, when under full sail, the only sound you hear is the wind rushing past your ears and the hull of the boat groaning as it cuts through the waves. Growing up in Nova Scotia, on clear summer days I would sit with my arms around my knees on the high hill below my house and watch the sailboats cutting through the choppy water. From such a distance, they looked like tiny ants each carrying a bit of sugar cube back to the nest. Boating was a fact of life living surrounded by the Atlantic as we were. It was what you did in the maritime provinces, when you weren’t skiing, hunting, or fishing. My Uncle Gordon, my mother’s brother, served as Commodore of the Yacht Club in Halifax, and was a consummate sailor most of his life.

Gordon’s estate, Jollimore, sat on the northwest arm of the Halifax harbor. During the warmer months his yacht was moored there. I always enjoyed a visit to Jollimore when I made it to the east coast. Truly that was one gorgeous piece of property. I will never in my lifetime come to understand that high level of living, but from an observers point of view, I have to think it can’t be a bad way to spend your days. There were three houses on the property, as I remember it. The main house, further down the hill a guest house and lanai, both situated around the salt water pool, and finally the groundskeepers home, which I would happily have taken up residence in if invited. My uncle was a bachelor most of his life, and a urologist all of it. Jollimore was purchased as a joint occupancy situation with his best friend, Allen, and his wife, Kay. Gordon had his living quarters on one side, Kay and Allen on the other, then there were shared common rooms in the center of the house. The three roomies, friends since grade school, found it to be an equitable living situation for all three participants. Kay, the only female in the trio, was both a gifted cook and hostess providing that feminine influence for both men. When Allen passed away, after a respectable time had gone by, my uncle, unmarried until he was seventy, married his best friend’s widow. They remained happily together until Kay and then Gordon each went on as well. To my mind, that was a story that ended as it was supposed to be written.

When I visited Nova Scotia as an adult, my family usually was invited to a formal dinner at Jollimore with all the relatives still living in the province in attendance. Let me preface this story by saying, I am probably the only Canadian citizen who will go on record saying they loathe salmon. Sad to say in my case, it is true. Fish is one of my favorite meals, and I like most varieties I find on restaurant menus, …… except salmon. Euuuw. Perhaps this is because I was weaned on it. My grandmother could find a way to slip the orange fish into everything. She made salmon loaf, salmon cakes, poached salmon, stuffed whole salmon, salmon salad, salmon aspic. You name it, she could make a case for including salmon in the ingredients. Had there been such a thing as a salmon pancake, I’m sure that would have been incorporated into the meal plan somewhere as well. Every time it showed up on my plate as a kid, I longed for a dog, so I could hand it off to a waiting mouth under the table. Because it was considered such a “treat”, often it was the star of the formal dinner at my uncle’s home. A covered silver tray would be placed on the center of the table, and when the lid was removed everyone oooohed and aaaahhhhed over the fish as though greeting the royal family. Usually this was the whole fish, poached and topped with a delicate cream sauce, served with fiddleheads. Fiddleheads. For those of you going fiddle what, are the coiled tips of the ostrich fern, considered delicacy in some circles. My circle happens not to be one of them. Now, there isn’t much I won’t eat. I am definitely not what you might call a finicky feeder. However, the two food items topping my list of vomit inducing foods would be salmon and fiddleheads. Served together, they create a gastronomical nightmare for my internal digestive system. Ugh. As an aside, I also find nothing appealing about a meal such as a whole fish capable of making eye contact with me as I prepare to eat it, just saying.

So, I think of my roots this morning, orange fish, another relationship slipping to the side of the road, gliding across the cool clear water, and the confusing state of our country and feel a bit like I am standing in front of a road crossing with signs pointing in twenty different directions. This will smooth out and the right path will become clear, but for now I want to be sailing along without a thought in the world but the sun on my face and the salty spray in my hair.

Happy Saturday to you.

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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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So, I’m adding Dog Wrangler to my list of qualifications on my resume. The new man in my life has a lovely Labrador retriever, blonde in color. Some time back, the dog enjoyed a tryst with a wolf red retriever that produced eight little puppies, two blondes, and six reds. So cute. When first born, they were just so sweet to watch. Innocent little beings with closed eyes, who ate, slept, and pooped their way through their days. However, like all beings, puppies do not remain little forever. Now, entering their sixth week, their eyes are wide open and they are busy, busy, busy, little bees. They are only sleeping when they have thoroughly worn themselves, and us, completely out. Reminds me of how excited I was to see my daughter take her first steps. The occasion, when it happened, was marked with a video and much ooooohing and aaaaaahing of encouragement from her loved ones. The excitement ebbed considerably, when we realized the child was now fully mobile and able to get into everything and anything within her reach. Oh-oh. Like human babies, everything that catches the pup’s interest (which is virtually everything from an old Q-tip found on the floor to the foliage on your house plants) goes in their mouths. Hounds by breed, they run along nose to the ground searching for something to get into. I had to sit cross legged on the couch keeping my feet off the carpet to prevent them from untying my shoelaces or nipping at the back of my ankles. The mama dog sat in the chair next to me watching the chaos of her spawns of the devil unfold. Every once and while she’d cast a worried glance in my direction like “what have I done, Susie, what have I done”? Another concern is there hasn’t been a big response to the ads to place these puppies in new homes, which is starting to be cause for concern. They are entertaining now and cute, but seven big dogs running around in a small space has less of a tickle your funny bone feel to it. I told him we could stand out front of Safeway with a box and a sign reading, “Free Puppy With Any $50 Purchase”. Some people have no sense of humor.

I can remember days like that when my kids were little. They were born a year and two weeks apart. For the first six months or so, they were both in diapers. I would imagine I had much the the same experience parents would have with twins in the house. Once both babies were walking, it was a full day every day. Their dad and I had purchased our first house when I found out I was pregnant with our second child. He was going to college nearby and working a night shift, and I had a secretarial job during the day. Looking back and thinking I was only twenty seems unimaginable to me. Sometimes I don’t know how we did it all. Looking at twenty year olds now and picturing them with a baby on both hips seems unreal. I’m sure there are a lot of young mothers out there, but I don’t see them all around me the way one did when I was producing offspring. According to my granddaughters, marriage is not in the forefront of the minds of young women coming up in the world anymore. An exact quote would be, “Marriage and commitment are not the priorities, or possibly even on our radar”. Interesting. Girls often go to proms in groups of friends, rather than attending with a date. Dating seems, at least to my well seasoned eyes, a far more casual affair in 2022, more about the moment at hand rather than the ultimate outcome. But who am I to say? Each generation thinks the ones coming after them are totally going about things the wrong way. Basically, if they are not doing things the way we did them, they must be doing them wrong.

Girls when I was growing up were supposed to target a marriage partner once the ink dried on their high school diploma. I was married (the first time) at nineteen. Of the four marriages I have to my credit, this was to be the only “formal” wedding I was to enjoy. I remember thinking as I walked down that long aisle towards the man of my dreams, we would be together forever. Forever, as it turned out, was to last only eight years. However, though the marriage didn’t stick to the wall, during our time together we did manage to produce two beautiful humans who have brought me so much joy since the moment they arrived making it such a blessing. Life has a way of going in the direction it chooses to do, and more often or not we are just flotsam swept up in the current. That sounded rather cynical, and I don’t consider myself a cynical person. It’s only over the years I’ve come to see that sometimes what we perceive as the direction we should be moving in, isn’t always the best choice for us to be making. It has been my experience the harder a push the universe at such times, the more resistance I experience in return.

I have a friend who fathered ten children. Amazing. I used to think I wanted six, but managing two as a single mother could be an uphill struggle. How you spread yourselves effectively among ten kids I cannot imagine, and manage to save a moment for yourself. All ten, so he tells it, are uniquely different with totally individual likes and dislikes, and personalities. Isn’t it funny how you can have children who all grow up in the same house, sharing the same parents, with the same values taught to them, enjoying similar activities and conversations, and still they often grow up to be polar opposites as adults. That would be an interesting study to read about. I’m sure there is a paper out there somewhere on the subject already having been written.

At times I wish I could go back to the early days armed with the arsenal of knowledge I have gleaned and begin at my beginning again. Maybe we should start out really on top of things, bursting at the seams with wisdom, and let it leak out like air in a balloon with a small hole in it until we peter out as we get older? Remind me to mention that to the powers that be, once I get wherever it is I go once I peter out.

On a totally unrelated subject, I actually went to the gym today. I know! Not only did I go to it, for I’ve done that before, but this time I got out of the car, opened their business door, and went inside. So proud, really. I need to do some free weight work. If I take this job I mentioned previously working for the Air B&B cleaning company, I need to strengthen my core. The work is physical and requires agility and free motion. The young woman in the facility was kind enough to say I looked to be in excellent health and seemed in good shape. True enough, my physical self, when clothed, is not a lot different then when I was younger. Admittedly, some southern movement has occurred, one can’t escape gravity after all, but all in all it’s still in fairly good fiddle. The problem lies in, like a well-worn wool suit, the material covering it has gotten a bit stretched and out of shape and doesn’t fit as well as it did when it was new. A little tightening up is definitely in order. This girl started laughing when I said that, and continued to do so every time we made eye contact. I do enjoy a good audience. I signed up for their summer “tightening up special”. Twelve weeks of miserable workouts, three times a week (should you be an abuse magnet) to get you in tip-top summer shape. They also have a pool which offers water aerobics which I will avail myself of. I have friends in my age group who won’t wear a bathing suit in the pool anymore. To me this is incredibly vain. One woman I know, wears pants and a long sleeved shirt to swim in if swimming in a public pool. When she steps in the deep end, she sinks to the bottom like a rock. I refuse to not wear shorts when it’s hot, or a bathing suit when I swim simply because my legs aren’t twenty anymore. As far as I know I haven’t gotten to the point where I traumatize small children, or put dogs teeth on edge, so I’m doing it.

That is what I know for a Thursday. The heat is moving our way. Going to be 107 tomorrow. Ugh. The shorts are definitely coming out.

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The holiday weekend is upon us. I wonder so many people I know are going on road trips with the price of gas being what it is. Literally, my gas tank is siphoning my bank account dry. The good news is apparently prices are headed up, not down. Boo, the Queen of Cats, may have to seek employment if she wishes to continue indulging in her special salmon/chicken treats that cost me an arm and a leg every week at the pet store.

The past week, I have been sifting through open jobs online. I sent out three applications from one site before noticing the email associated with my profile was an old one I deactivated some time ago. Thinking this to be an easy fix, I went in to change it. After a half an hour of expletives and repeating the same task over and over again with no positive result, I had to throw up the white flag and admit I was stumped. Hate that. I decided to see if I could locate a customer service number on the site. Naturally, there wasn’t one to be found. They never include these numbers, I’ve noticed lately, so you have to muck about on your own until you either give up or drink the Kool-Aid. Jesh. Doing a Google search, I came up with an actual phone contact number. Yay. Dialing it, I was dropped into the usual endless loop of questions about why I had called in the first place. I have come to believe companies do this so they will wear you down and you will simply hang up and slink back under your rock. The first question in the next loop said, “If you are a job seeker, press 1”. Dutifully, I pushed 1 on my phone. The message once 1 had been pushed said, “Thank you for choosing our company for your job search. Please go to our website located at …….. for assistance. Good luck with finding a job you love”. Since there was no other option available but to hang up, I did, but then called right back. Turns out, when listening to the message again, there was also an option 2 available. Option 2, it appeared, was for companies looking for employees. Hmmmmm, says I, and pushed 2. Sure enough, a human voice appeared on the other end of the phone. I explained to the woman what the problem was, and she assured me she could rectify the situation on her end. SUCCESS!! She asked me all the questions used to identify the caller as the actual owner of the account. Then, she asked the name of my company. Ummmm? So, I did something I actually have perfected, I acted dumb. “Company”, says I? She went on to explain this line was for company inquiries. “Oh, huh, who knew”? At any rate, after putting me on hold, she came back on and fixed the problem for me. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I say.

Good news is I already have an interview set up for this coming week. The jobs I chose to apply for were definitely a lot below my skill level. I have had high impact, stressful jobs most of my life. This time around I want twenty hours a week, a small supplementary paycheck, and zero – spell that z-e-r-o stress. The past eight years have had enough stress packed into them to satisfy my stress quotient for the next twenty years, so I feel at this point I am good to go.

Today I am going out to lunch with the new man in my life. Cheeseburgers are what the restaurant we are going to are known for. This offers up a direct line to my heart, as a good cheeseburger is my favorite meal. With fries, naturally. We are just beginning the arduous process of getting to know one another. When you are in your twenties, you haven’t had enough life experience to really have a lot of wrinkles to iron out. Now that is not true of everyone, of course. People like Charles Manson covered a lot of ground by their mid twenties, but generally people of that age are at the beginning of their learning curve. By the time you’ve hit fifty, you’ve pretty much crested the hill, and have most likely added a lot of notches to your belt. At the mid point of our lives, there are usually marriages, or at least serious relationships behind us, children, grandchildren even, and a whole bag full of life to share with a new partner. Some of the contents of the bag, one would certainly hope, will prove productive. There will be learned lessons tucked away in the bag, along with uncovered talents, achieved goals, hopes and dreams, all mixed in with heartaches, losses, unfulfilled desires and failures. The trick is to not take the memories or unfortunate events associated with old relationships that did not work, or memories with hard edges and drag them into the empty bag waiting to be filled up by a new relationship. I speak from some experience, this is not always an easy task and one I struggle with.

Outside my window the tops of the trees are bent in the wind. We seem to have an awful lot of windy days this year. According to the weather station this can be attributed to climate change. Wind always makes me a bit edgy. My friend, up on such things, says it has something to do with ions which effect your mood. My mood has been a bit off for a couple of days. I need to move it up the happy scale a bit before I meet my new guy for our burger. As I’ve said I’m usually fairly sunny as a personality but for some reason, could be all the sad news this week about shootings and mayhem my smile is beginning to droop. I’ve noticed I’m not alone in this. The phone has been ringing even more than it’s usual craziness and often the person on the other end has wanted to discuss a problem or was simply feeling somehow down and without energy. I keep pumping up my tire, and someone keeps coming by to stick a nail in it. It is hard not to absorb the collective energy swirling all around us right now. For me, when effected in such a way, I have to chain myself to my chair to keep from heading out for a little retail therapy. I am trying to generate new income right now, not deplete what financial security I do have. I heard a startling statistic this morning, 25% of Americans have no savings whatsoever to lean back on. That really did surprise me. I wouldn’t have any either if it wasn’t I have recently sold a house. Just heard that since I sold my home three years ago the value of it has increased by $100,000. Whew. Up, up, up and away here in California with the price of either owning or renting a place to hang your hat accelerating at a fevered pace.

At any rate before I go completely down the rabbit hole here, that is what I know for today. I need to go in and readjust my smile and prepare for my date. Have a good and safe holiday weekend. Keep your smile in place and hope for the best outcome no matter what.

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Here I am seated at my keyboard at 3 a.m. again. Sigh and double sigh. Methinks I may never get another complete night’s sleep again. I do long for those days when I would hit the snooze alarm three times before dragging my tired self out of a warm bed to get ready for work. Sleepy eyed and wishing for one more hour of shut eye before facing my day, I would pad into the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. I ask you, where oh where has that eight hour a day sleepy girl gone?

Guess lack of sleep is part of the aging process. It’s not my favorite part. There are many things about getting older, however, I totally embrace. For instance, I do not miss knowing I have to go into work every single day of the week and remain there for eight hours or more. I do not miss this. I do have to say, of late, I have begun to wonder how on earth I fit eight hours of work in my day. I can’t even seem to find free time to have lunch with a friend on my calendar. Life has gotten very busy since the pandemic released it’s grasp on our lives.

Another thing I like about getting older, is I seem to have learned quite a bit along the way. Between simply trying things on and seeing how they work for me, doing incredibly stupid things and finding out they don’t work for me at all, and generally soaking up all the information from the lessons presented to me during my lifetime, I seem to have gathered some wisdom along the way. Amen to that. It used to be I jumped into a situation with both feet and then figured out how to back out of it somewhere later down the road. Now, I sort of circle the wagons and take a long, slow look at what I’m doing before simply diving into the pot. Like that. Like that a lot.

As I said a while back, I have begun to explore dating once again. I have never dated at this age before, largely because today I am as old as I have ever been. If you get my drift. Most people who have reached this point in their lives are pretty much settled into who they are going to be. I know this is true of me. Was I to describe myself, I might use the adjective my friends seem to like to choose for me, “hummingbird”. I am a flitterer for sure. My metabolism, thanks Mom, keeps me moving. Fast seems to be the only speed on my dial and this remains true even though my body doesn’t always cooperate the way it used to anymore when asked to keep up the pace. Artistic might be another adjective I would apply when speaking to who I am. Certainly I am neat, and for the most part I like to show up on time and prefer others to do the same. Most of all I would say, I love to laugh and have fun. Now, there are lots of checks on the negative side as well, of course. I’m not saying I’m by any stretch of the imagination I am a perfect being. I am totally stubborn at times. Rick used to say I was the most hard headed female he ever knew. Most likely that will be written on my tombstone. “Here lies one hard headed woman”. I like to communicate, and am a pretty good talker but also enjoy my quiet solitary times and can, when in that mood, prefer to be left totally alone with my thoughts. I am not high maintenance as far as material things, or I like to believe that to be true, but I do love to be adored and like lots of attention. I am, after all, an only child and a scorpio one at that. There you are, Susie, the pluses and minuses, in a nutshell. Not looking for perfection in the person I’m dating either, just mutual respect and some line items in common to bring us together.

The first man I attempted to get to know, we’ll call him Paul, was also a talker. At our first and only meeting, Paul shared with me right out of the gate, he was the father of ten children. I might have saved that piece of information at least until after the coffee was poured. Whew. It’s not that I mind he has such a brood, I love children, but his children have children. When he showed me a family picture it was taken in a panoramic format so as to include everyone in the frame. My mind immediately went to meeting all ten of his offspring. It has been my experience having one or two adult children check you out when dating their dad can be a grueling process. All those unstated questions hanging in the air. “Are you trying to replace my mother”, “are you after dad’s money”? Imagine twenty inquisitive eyes dissecting you like a frog in biology class! After I’d digested that big bite, he went on to tell me he had recently made a trip to Ecuador to explore the spiritual side of his nature. That he was exploring the spiritual part of him, I found exciting. I said that sounded like an interesting trip, and asked him to tell me more. Turned out trip was the optimum word here. While there, he continued, he had ingested some kind of magic mushrooms which took him to places in his mind where he had never been before. At that point my mind was taking me places as well, such as looking for the exit doors in the restaurant. Thanking him for a lovely cup of coffee and the scone, I exited stage left. When I got home he sent me a text stating he had a questionnaire he would like me answer. He went on to say, he would do the same on his side, to see if we should proceed from there. Next!

After Paul, I waited a bit to test the waters again. Next came Dan. Dan was a lovely man really. He was an engineer and had a beautiful home high in the foothills above where I live. Dan had been widowed for six years and was very attractive and well spoken. After we met through a mutual friend, Dan asked me to have lunch with him, and I accepted. Have to admit there were a few butterflies fluttering around in my stomach as the time approached for Dan to pick me up for our lunch date. When he arrived, and I invited him in to see my house, his first words were “wow, you are so neat and clean”. I took this as a compliment, but thinking back it came as sort of a nervous response. Hmmmm. We had chosen a fun place to eat locally for our first meal together. Over burgers and fries we scratched the surface of who we are as people. The usual questions came up about children, activities we enjoyed, types of food we like to eat, etcetera, etcetera. I swear I’m going to write a book and simply hand it out at the first date. If they get past chapter four and wish to proceed, we can go from there. Dan has two children, boys, living in the Bay Area. He likes to hike, which I do as well, was involved in remodeling his home, and was looking for someone to spend time with and perhaps have a relationship with if that worked out. Check and check. A beginning.

After lunch, which went well, we made plans to get together the following week for dinner. During the week we texted back and forth a few times discussing what was going on in our respective lives and just generally keeping up with one another. Once we made it to the day of our second meeting, and arrived at the restaurant where we were to have dinner, we were getting along great. The meal was delicious, the conversation flowed, all was moving along swimmingly. Well, almost. When dessert was served Dan brought up that he enjoyed being single and living alone. The reason he does, he went on, is that he likes the freedom to throw everything and anything everywhere and anywhere it landed. He told me though he was dressed nicely for our date, at home he was a complete slob and enjoyed living that way. Now, I’m all for personal freedom. You should live whatever way that works for you. Seriously, I’m all about that. If throwing corn cobs on the floor or never making your bed works for you then God bless you, really. However, that is not how I choose to exist. Mess and chaos make me messy and chaotic. I was processing this information when he told me there was another woman he had been dating for five months. She, according to him, was in love with him, but this feeling was not reciprocated on his part. Uh-huh. Check please. Sigh. Why, I wanted to ask, are we here eating Tirimasu if you, a) like being single and want to live alone and throw your clothes all about, and b) already have a relationship? Perhaps I should do a questionnaire myself?

So, it is back to the drawing board for me. I’m just not sure where I want to proceed from here, or even if. I do have sort of an eternal optimism about love. I believe there is one more true romance out there in my story, and I am willing to do the research to see if I can find him. Perhaps we are back to the old adage, “you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince”.

That’s it for today. Hot, hot, hot here in Northern California. Got the air cranking and the blinds half open. Have a great day!!

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I have been away from home for four days. Have to say after the pandemic, and then with Dale being ill keeping us tied closer to home, there was something truly delicious about hitting the open road again. I have not been far afield in four plus years, so it felt good to be packing up the car, firing up the GPS, and heading out of town for a bit.

This trip was by way of a reunion. A dear friend of mine and I were getting together for the first time in twenty-five years. I was driving up from the Sacramento area, and my friend Saleatha, Sam for short, was driving down from Oregon where she makes her home. Redding was chosen as a location more for the fact it was somewhat of a halfway point for both of us, rather than a place we had both been pining to see. Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoy Redding. The people there are friendly and very hospitable, but it might not be number one choice for me when planning a vacation. A plus for the trip, was we had tickets to see the Celtic Women perform while there, something I had always hoped to enjoy.

Sam arrived the day before I got there. Texting from the hotel room we were to share, she indicated the hotel, though not undoable, had seen better days. In my defense, as I am the one who made the reservations, I haven’t been to Redding in years. The last time I stayed at this particular hotel, albeit twenty plus years ago, it was sort of the hot spot to stay in town. Apparently, like so many things as they get older, it had lost some (perhaps all, according to Sam, lol) of it’s original appeal. Oh-oh.

My trip up was uneventful, with only one stop made at a rest stop along the way for the reasons one stops at a rest stop after consuming an enormous cup of iced tea. Pulling into the hotel parking lot, I found my dear old friend standing by the lobby door looking much like she had the last time I had seen her. I didn’t need to check in as she had already done that, so she hopped in the car and we drove to the back of one of the wings where our room was located. As usual, I hadn’t traveled light. For some reason I can’t seem to leave home without taking half my closet with me. Should we have been struck by a freak storm and forced to stay in our rooms til early fall, I would have had a new outfit and shoes for every occasion. Arriving at the room, I could see Sam had followed the same line of thinking when packing for the road. There were two suitcases already on stands, numerous bags filled with shoes, snacks, toiletries and the like. Had there been one more female present, we definitely would have had to rent another room. Men are such different creatures then we of the gentler sex. Was Rick with me, and had he packed for himself (which he never did to my memory), he would have included his toothbrush, clean underwear, one pair of jeans and shorts each, a pair of socks and a couple of shirts and been done with it. Go figure. I remember he used to buy really nice shirts. Often, these shirts sat on hangers for years with the tags still danging from their sleeves. Instead, he wore the same five shirts all the time. I asked him once why he did this. “I’m saving them”, was the answer I got. “For what”, wondered I? After he passed away I donated a bin of them to the local Goodwill, tags still attached.

The room, as was most of the hotel, was extremely dated. Two huge maple headboards hung above the beds attached to the wall. Both beds when you got in them were swayed in the middle like an old horse who had been rented out too often at the stable. You sort of rolled into a spot at night, and climbed back out in the morning. A massive wall unit to the left of the room had a flat screen TV on top of it. Inside the unit was housed a small refrigerator with a microwave on top. If you opened the microwave door without securing it, the microwave and whatever you were heating up in it, would end up in your lap. HOT. We found this out the hard way. Do not try this at home.

The bathroom was perhaps the most interesting of the amenities. There was one small sink with little counter space around it. For two ladies, not the ideal set up. Then there was a tub to the left, and a toilet next to the sink. The tub had a faucet on the far left side wall. A metal piece stuck out of the tile where one would normally expect the shower head to be attached. Instead, a snakelike metal cord protruded out of it, attached to a hand-held shower head. The next morning, when while attempting to take a “shower” and wash my hair in the tub using this attachment, while trying to get the soap out of my hair I didn’t realize the water was shooting out of the side of the shower curtain. By the time I turned off the water, towels and the bath mat were floating down river.

The shining moment for this establishment was their cook. OMG. I would go back and stay in that room again (only for one night) to eat the food this guy put out of his kitchen. The hamburger and fries he made for me were literally the best I have ever eaten. Seeing as I make a habit of trying this menu item out in every establishment I frequent, that is saying something special. This guy definitely gets a five YUM rating from this girl. Everything he made was absolutely delicious. I made sure he got word from us we thought his food was top notch. What he was doing working in their kitchen I have no clue, but we were so very glad he was there. Storing our leftovers in our little fridge with the rest of our perishables and drinks we sank into our beds our first night there together. The following morning, I went to take something out of the fridge to snack on, string cheese in particular, only to find it frozen solid. You could have successfully fended off a intruder with it. Everything, it appeared was frozen solid. Sam’s water, when she tried to open it, went off like Vesuvius spewing water all over the bed. We called maintenance. A lovely man named Jeremiah came out and adjusted the refrigerator. He explained the hotel had new owners, and they were renovating the hotel one room at a time. Obviously, our room was not located at the top of the list.

In the three days we occupied that room we had to call each day to ask for toilet paper, towels, our trash to emptied, and to get the refrigerator checked. It had two temperatures, FREEZE and DEFROST. Amazing. Every room service order required two to three visits from staff to bring missed silverware, menu items, or forgotten sides. Never saw anything run in such a seat of your pants manner. After a while, it just got funny. We weren’t there for the room anyhow, thank heavens. Let’s face it, had it been perfect, what would I be writing here? Nice room, end of story.

Another fun thing was Sam and I are both single. Now, neither of us was looking to meet anyone on this trip, but the fact that the entire lobby was filled with priests there for a papal meeting of some sort, pretty much solidified the fact that if we had been, we were not in any danger of doing so.

In spite of the accommodations, Sam and I fell in step as if it had only been a few days since we’d last been together. We enjoyed some retail therapy, ate outside at a beautiful restaurant on the river, and saw the Celtic Women, who were truly angelic, at the Redding Auditorium. All in all, we had a magical time.

One thing I will note. We took a drive up to Weaverville while in Redding. Weaverville is a small historic town nestled in the mountains about an hour north of where we were staying. The drive, usually lovely, was marred by the extensive fire damage evident all along the road. Charred hillsides and crisped remains of trees could be seen everywhere you looked. Unbelievable how much acreage was involved just in the area we were in. Made for sort of an eye opening and disturbing trip. Sam said coming into California from Oregon she was overwhelmed by the devastation on the once lovely and lush hillsides. Climate change really is making itself known these days.

As with all trips there is a beginning and an end. Yesterday, I returned home, and began the process of quietly slipping my everyday life back on once again. After hauling my load in from the car, everything worn while away was sorted and tossed in the hamper or hung in the closet, cosmetics were returned to their drawers, shoes stored, and books put back on the nightstand by my bed. Boo, the Queen of Cats had the company of a dear friend in my absence. No doubt the lazy sot spent her time happily soaking up all the lavish attention my friend always bestows on her. One can only hope she was pleased to see my face when I walked in the door. As I greeted her, she did look up from her perch where she was napping. With one open eye she seemed to acknowledge my presence, before returning to whatever old kitty cats dream about. She will be out later for my apology presentation for leaving her for a short time, complete with treats and heavy groveling on my part.

When we parted we made plans for the fall to get together once again. Adventures are on my bucket list and I look forward to each and every one coming up. As glad as I was to hit the road, I was equally glad to get home again. It was nice to actually be able to sleep on top of my bed rather than in the belly of it. Hope your week is going well. Have an adventure or two. Get out on the road and just drive somewhere. See something new, try a new dish, meet a new person. Life goes by in an instant.


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Woke up to a gorgeous day the middle of the week here in Northern California. Slight breeze to keep you cool, perfect air temperature, around 82, and a clear, brilliantly blue, sky overhead. Walking was definitely on the calendar I decided, and then lunch with a friend. We chose a regional park populated largely by Canada geese. This time of year their fuzzy little offspring are visible all over the park area area where it circles the man made lake dominating the center. Do love to see babies. Even a baby porcupine is sweet, however, we didn’t pass one on our trail. There were a lot of warning signs showing pictures of striking rattlesnakes so I kept my eye on my feet as often as I could without tripping over something on the path in front of me. I try to walk at least forty minutes every day. Makes me feel better emotionally and physically to stretch my legs on a regular basis, and I’m sure my joints will thank me one day when I’m older.

Life has been incredibly frenetic of late. I can’t seem to catch up even with my fancy new running shoes carefully tied in place. Twice this week I’ve overlooked scheduled appointments, and one day I made double plans for the day with two different people. Then, as it turned out, I couldn’t go with either person, because I already had a hair appointment on the books for the middle of the day. Sigh. Scattered is the adjective immediately coming to mind but numbnut isn’t far behind it.

Today is Mother’s Day. I will be celebrating with my daughter and her family. Mother, though not present physically, will definitely move among us as we talk of funny stories involving her, or shared family moments she was a part of. I’m not sad anymore, but rather a peace has settled over me. We had our time, and we made the best use of it. I don’t have regrets, which makes her passing somehow more palatable. So, we will laugh, probably shed a tear or two, eat, and enjoy each other. Truly each day is the day we have, so it is always best to fill it with happy moments and lots of love.

Since my mum passed, my soul has occupied a quiet space. Grieving her is a bit different then the two men I have lost. Mother was by my side from my beginning to her end. Beyond mother and daughter, we were friends. Certainly we all knew as the years added up, her time her with us was winding down, but still each Saturday I miss getting in the car and going to see her beautiful face. As I’ve said many times, life is but a series off hellos and goodbyes.

I have much to say about the situation of women’s rights currently going on in this country but for today I will simply say, Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who signed up to raise the generation coming up after them. It is a brave, brave, endeavor we take on when bringing a new life into the world. Few of us ever feel we carried this oh so important task out to the best of our abilities. If we don’t remind ourselves of our shortcomings, odds are our children surely will. Smile. I know I wouldn’t trade my son and daughter for anything else this world has to offer. They have brought me more joy than any other part of my life. I want to thank my mom for always being a part of raising them, and loving them as much as I did and do.

Enjoy your day and bask in the limelight for a brief moment before you find yourself once again standing over a pile of dirty dishes, or throwing a load of laundry in the washer. Women are a powerful force of nature, I believe, we just don’t quite know it yet.

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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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