Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Well another week is in the bank, and I find myself back at work once again. They installed an entirely updated and fairly sophisticated phone system during my absence, but neglected to leave me any instructions on how to use it. Interesting. The first call I fielded, at best was a game of hunt and peck. I took a stab at hitting a few buttons to see what would happen, and suddenly the entire display went dark. Huh. Now, I’m not always the sharpest pencil in the box, but that didn’t look quite right to me. The caller I hung up on, called back to confirm my suspicion that it was, in fact, not right at all. Sigh. Finally, someone showed up for work who had a cheat sheet I could use before I brought this business to it’s knees. Much better. Way to kick start the week.

Night before last, I woke up around 2:30 a.m. to the dulcet tones of Boo depositing the remains of her dinner on the pillow next to me. Poor Boo. Well, and yes, poor me. It was, after all, the middle of the night. I got up and wiped my cat’s little face. Next I removed the pillow case, tossed it along with the soiled pillow in the washing machine, then cleaned up the bed and got a fresh pillow and case. By the time I’d used the bathroom and checked the time again, I was totally wide awake. Boo was looking a bit ragged, however, so I rubbed my dear old friend’s head for quite a while, until both of us finally drifted off to sleep. Five minutes after I’d closed my eyes I swear, the alarm I’d set on my cell phone went off alerting me it was time to get up. Goody. I was understandably feeling a little low on gas by the time I poured my first cup of coffee. I could have used a little kick start such as the excitement of unfamiliar phones ringing to get my morning moving yesterday rather than today.

Boo has kidney issues, so I knew she had to be seen by the vet if vomiting. I called to set up an appointment, and they got me in at 9:30. These are never fun trips. Boo resists any process involving her crate or the vet, so I wasn’t looking forward to getting her there. I did the usual dog and pony show to get my cat loaded in the car. I arrived at the vets at 9:30 on the money, only to find out the appointment was for 10:00. How I made that mistake I don’t know. They don’t even sound alike. 9:30, 10:00, not even close? What? I was sleep deprived. Soooooo, I sat in a chair in the waiting room while Boo serenaded me and everyone around us (she was in rare falsetto) for a half an hour until we were called into an examination room. I believe the entire waiting room breathed a sigh of relief as the door closed behind us. As each procedure was ordered and completed, I could literally hear an invisible cash register adding up the tally. “Ben Franklins for all”, it seemed to say!!! I cannot, or will not, ever see my animal suffer, so $600 or $6000, I will figure out a way to work it into my budget. That being said, because I can work it into the budget, doesn’t make the pain of doing so any less uncomfortable. You can’t put a price on all the love and companionship my silly old cat has provided me for seventeen years. We are in this together for better or worse until the end, whatever that is to be. I was informed before paying the bill Boo would need to come in twice a week to get hydrated from this point on. I thought the receptionist quoted me $50 per hydration treatment at which point I thought they might need to retrieve the smelling salts from the supply cabinet. Turns out it was $15. Better, but still no cigar. Whew. I hope that winning lottery ticket with my name on it is lurking just around the corner. Also, I was given anti-nausea pills to administer in case the vomiting ensues again. Oh lord. The only thing Boo dislikes more than being crated or a vet visit, would most likely be taking medication. Rick and I used to tag team it. I would wrap her in a towel, and while holding the irritated cat’s claws under wraps, Rick would pry open her clenched jaws and use the pill popper to shoot the pill down her throat. If lucky, he withdrew his hand with all digits remaining fully intact. Most times the pill came right back up before ever being absorbed in her system. Someone suggested hiding it in her food. Not an option. The persnickety cat would rather take a bullet than eat wet food, so that’s out of the question. Desperate during one round of medication, we tried pill pocket treats. She ate the treat all right, and when done deposited the pill on the floor. First time I ever saw a cat smirk. I asked the receptionist if there was any script in the bag with my name on it for anxiety? She did not seem to see the humor in this comment. Fine. Sometimes, I wonder if I should have gotten pet insurance. I have no idea the cost of such a thing, but should I ever own another pet I might look into it.

On the subject of insurance, last week I located a YMCA very close to where Richard lives. The “Y”, according to it’s website, offers all manner of exercise programs as well as boasting two pools, one inside and one out. The swimming part of the program is what I am particularly interested in. Richard and I stopped by while out to see what the facility was all about. The campus was nestled in a lovely wooded location, and I found it very clean and both pools oh so inviting. Set free on our own by the front desk staff to do a “self tour”, we poked around a bit and really liked what we saw. Asking the girl at the front desk for prices and class information, she told me my insurance should cover the yearly dues. As soon as I got home, I called to ask my insurance carrier if in fact this was accurate. I pay a lot for my health insurance, so was hoping this might be a perk that was included. It was not. Apparently, if I was covered under the cheaper plan, the exercise package would have been included. Interesting. I asked about the cheaper plan which also includes medications, and was told I can switch plans , but only when open enrollment opens up in November. The representative did go on to say, however, if I have any illnesses or am frequently hospitalized, I should stick with the more expensive plan I am currently signed up for. This made me laugh. In other words, the less expensive plan is health insurance designed for people who don’t get sick. Never mind. I will simply pay out of pocket for the dues and avail myself of those lovely pools to get some regular exercise. Yay. At first I thought the price was $75 a year. Whoa. Sign me up. Not so fast, Susie. Nothing comes that inexpensive in this economy. Cleaning my glasses, I looked again. The $75 was correct. However, that was the monthly outlay, not yearly. Ah, I can see clearly now, the rain is gone….. or however those lyrics go. So with Boo’s new expenses, Susie won’t be getting her washboard abs anytime soon. Sigh.

The energy in the world in general seems to me a bit off kilter at the moment. Everyone I talk to seems to be dealing with some situation involving a personal crisis. When the phone rings, I can feel my blood pressure rise up a notch or two before I answer it, not sure of what news might be coming in from the other end. Truth is, I think I’m ready for a vacation. September will be my first real vacation of any import in years. Yay. Richard and I have been fleshing out the details of our trip adding stops here, and deleting others there as we go along. Though we are not sticking to a particular schedule, we want to leave plenty of wiggle room should we decide we want to change course mid stream and go in a completely different direction. We only have thirty glorious days to pack all we want to in, so we need some sort of structure to make that happen. Some places, the more popular tourist attractions, will require advance reservations at the RV parks. Places more enticing then perhaps, say, Ely, Nevada. Having been there several times, I wonder that the people living in Ely actually want to be there. No offense. This extra wrinkle with Boo will add to my planning details. At the moment I have a friend moving into my house while I am gone to house sit and Boo sit. I cannot expect her to get my cat crated twice a week and to the vet. She is older, and I know this would stress her out. Something by way of a solution for this dilemma will drop into my mind, it just hasn’t shown up yet.

So, I am off tomorrow and looking forward to it. Surprising how working only two days a week can eat into your free time. Have a glorious weekend. Live each moment richly.

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A lady passed me in the store this morning, I’m guessing her to be in her sixties, sporting bright blue hair. Though it’s not a fashion trend I have any desire to embrace, I salute her for wanting to make a statement. I’ve noticed brightly dyed hair seems to have gained popularity with both men and women over the past few years. Last week, I purchased coffee from a kid who had a mohawk. The spiky do was purple on the top, with hot pink accents along sides. Interesting. To add to his striking appearance, he had multiple piercings including three studs of skulls above both eyebrows, and three others below his lower lip. A nose ring was threaded through the end of his nostrils, and, as he spoke, I was afforded an occasional glimpse of what looked to be a small barbell protruding through the top of his tongue. I found myself thinking he must create a total scene at the airport when going through the metal detectors. Like a walking piece of art, aside from colorful hair and strategically placed metal accents, 70% of his exposed skin was decorated with all manner of tattoos. One, particularly eye catching, depicted a peacock wrapped completely around his upper arm. I saw a picture posted on Facebook earlier in the week of three elderly women. The tag line was “what this generation will look like at the end of the century” or something close to that. They all were well inked, and the ink had sagged and wrinkled as their skin had. It was not pretty.

Ink is certainly not germane only to recent generations. I remember in high school tattoos were more likely to be seen on bikers or military personnel, but even then it was not exclusive to them. I thought about getting one a time or two myself. However, like the picture I described above posted on Facebook, I thought of what it would look like a half a century down the road, if I made it that long. No.

Fads, hair styles, clothing, change as one generation folds into the next. Going forward, we will most likely become more attached, if possible, to our devices. Surely there will be new, and more advanced, technology flooding the market created to hold fast our attention. Although I am just as guilty as the next person of referring often to my cell phone, our constant attention to these inanimate objects is creating an isolation in our society as an unexpected side effect. The Surgeon General spoke recently about loneliness becoming startlingly prevalent in our world today. Loneliness, I was surprised to hear, can be as debilitating health wise as smoking cigarettes. Darn, and I gave cigarettes up years ago. Speaking of the killer weed, I watched an interesting documentary on Phillip Morris the other night. According to the film maker, the cigarette manufacturer were aware of the inherent health dangers smoking posed to the customers using their products, but continued to push the fallacy their cigarettes were healthier than other brands. Makes you wonder how those people slept at night. On a very expensive mattress I’m thinking, because in the heyday of smoking, 70% of the addicted population could be seen puffing away. They needed to reel in more men at one point, so the founders began to evaluate which of their cigarette lines might be considered the most “masculine”. Marlboro, though at the time largely marketed to, and smoked by, women was surprisingly determined to be the brand most likely to appeal to men. In order to make the turnabout happen, they would need to come up with a catchy marketing campaign designed specifically to be attractive to a male audience. This was to be the birth of the Marlboro man, which would propel Marlboro into the most successful cigarette brand on the market. These days if you smoke, noses will definitely be looking down in your direction. Back then, everybody and their uncle smoked, so it was acceptable to light up wherever you happened to be standing whether it be in church or a casino.

Another trend not particularly in the limelight when I was growing up was vegetarianism. Plant based eating habits were left to those living in ashrams, or perhaps hippies in the 60’s. Vegetarian lifestyles didn’t really become popular until the 1980’s, when awareness of the damage we humans were doing to our planet moved more to the forefront. I have several members of my family who don’t eat meat. I’m afraid I’m not one of them. Susie’s got to have her cheeseburgers, if you know what I mean. To my mind, it would seem as we are by nature carnivores, so it is not beyond comprehension for us to to desire meat in our diets. That being said, I do have compassion for people not interested in eating meat because of the way it is processed. I don’t agree with many of the practices meat packers use to euthanize these animals, and I’m sure there are many additives in our food that wouldn’t make me happy was I aware of them. Someone was saying the other days that hormones fed to animals we consume is a contributing factor to the fact that shoe sizes, and height in general in our young people has increased significantly over the years. I looked that up and according to what I read that is total bilge water. These additives can possibly make you wider, but according to everything I read, no taller. There are foods that do contribute to bone growth. Dairy, beans, and organ meats (euuuuw), for example. Rick loved liver and heart. I would rather be nailed to a board, than find either on my plate at the dinner table. Once a month, we would celebrate Euuuwweees Night at our house. He would cook something he liked (usually something glandular or unpleasant), and I would cook something I enjoyed, such as scallops or catfish. When cooking for two, it is important to give each person a voice in what comes out of the kitchen. With Rick, I learned a great deal about Mediterranean cooking and seasonings. Flavors which remain among my favorites. I passed a Mediterranean restaurant the other day while with Richard, and said I was craving falafels. I could have said marsupials or whizjambangers for all that meant to him. Richard has never tasted, nor had ever, heard of actually, falafels or many of the items you would find on a menu in a Mediterranean restaurant. It is our differences, as always, that make us interesting. I thought again the other day, imagine how dull it would be if we were all perfectly proportioned, equally as intelligent, the same height, or shared the same tastes. If our skin was all the same color, blue eyes prevailed, or only brunettes populated the earth. The diversity is what keeps the wheel spinning, to my mind at least.

Back in sweaters again this week, the sky is dark and foreboding looking outside my window. By next weekend we’ll be back up in the 90’s, so I just don’t know which way to swing. As baking in the sun is another thing not good for you (the list seems to be growing), I am interested in researching some of these tanning creams available. I’m steering clear of spray tans in salons for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t want to pay upwards of $60 for procuring a mere10 days of glorious bronze skin, and I’m not sure I like the idea of having the tanning solution sprayed around my face and eyes. Too bad tanning naturally carries with it all the skin cancer dangers, as well as aging concerns. I really do like working in the garden or lying in the sand soaking up some sun. Ah well, I shall see what tanning creams are all about. Hopefully, I won’t look like The Great Pumpkin when I am done. The older versions of these products left you with a definite orangey glow.

I am at work and actually have something to do, so I shall sign off for the time being. TGIF. Enjoy the weekend, and all the promises it holds.


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I think when you reach a certain age you fall naturally into the process of inventorying and reviewing your life thus far. There are times I wish I could hit rewind, and have another chance to do it all again. I’d like to think I’d do everything so much better the second time around. This may or not be true, of course, depending on whether I got the opportunity to redo my life armed with the knowledge I possess now, or just went back to the beginning being as ill equipped to do it right as I was the first time around.

I try not to view the obvious missteps as regrets, but prefer to think of them as part of my learning curve. More often than not, as I have a hard head, the lessons I’ve learned have had to be repeated and repeated until I finally absorbed them into my mahogany-like skull. After all these years, I like to believe I am a little bit wiser, a lot tougher, infinitely more compassionate, and most certainly more resilient than the twenty year old version of myself. The lessons, along with the experiences, never seem to stop. Each day presents itself with the opportunity to learn something new.

Since Rick has been gone, I am on my own when it comes to my car. When here, he was always the one fussing about oil changes and tire pressure. This morning, I had to take my car in to get the transmission fluid changed and the filter replaced. Apparently, you are supposed to do this regularly. This information came to me via Richard, who’s a self-professed car geek. He looked at my car’s fluids and found them lacking it seems. You could fit what I know about the internal combustion engine in the head of a pin, and still have room for a set of luggage. Richard explained much of what goes on in various parts of the engine to me in great detail. Anything beyond, “you turn the key on and it runs”, was more information than I needed. The additional facts he gave me traveled quickly in one ear, and exited equally as quickly out the other side. When it comes to engines, I have adopted a sort of don’t know, don’t care, policy that thus far has served me well. It’s not that I am incapable of understanding the concept of a working engine, I just don’t want to.

As instructed, I got to the transmission service area early. What a “male” environment the repair shop turned out to be. Now I had not pictured gingham and chintz by any means, but the level of testosterone in this garage had me concerned I might leave the building sporting facial stubble. Grease and engine parts served to provide the inspiration for the general decorating theme. The only furniture in the waiting room were two well worn chairs, one occupied by a rusty piece of equipment sitting on top of a greasy shop rag. The room itself was freezing. You could have safely hung a side of beef in there. The only other nod to the fact that this was a waiting room for customers was a coffee machine perched precariously on top of a pile of paperwork on a filing cabinet to my right. Hoping for a little coffee for warmth, I asked if any coffee was forthcoming, there was not. As I knew there would be a wait, I had thought to bring my book. This was a plus, as the only reading material available was a stack of dog eared car magazines. The rest of the room was full of huge binders, undoubtedly listing parts and prices and cardboard boxes piled floor to ceiling containing what I presumed to be the parts themselves. I could almost hear Tim the Toolman Taylor grunting in the background.

I counted eight men running around, six of which were wearing shirts with the shop’s logo and their name imprinted over the front pocket. Two other older men, dressed in shorts and polo shirts, were in the shop talking to one of the mechanics. I assumed these two to be customers. It amazes me in California if the sun is out, even if the temperature hovers just above freezing, men are going to select cargo shorts from their closet. Brrrrr. The man behind the counter was both helpful and pleasant. This always counts for much to me. Poor customer service is one bone I love to pick. To my mind, it takes so little effort to be congenial, so why not do it? I asked for a printed estimate, and was both surprised and pleased to find the cost far lower than other places I had contacted. This particular shop had gotten all “A’s” on Yelp, and also came with a thumbs up from a friend at work. The wait, I was told, was to be approximately an hour and a half. After signing the necessary paperwork, I stepped out front to get some sun and thaw out my hands. The two gentlemen I’d seen earlier in the shop area, were now in the parking lot seated in lawn chairs. In between the chairs was a small folding table with an open backgammon board on top of it. Each man had a thermos cup of coffee at his feet, and in front of the table, was a box of donuts. As I walked by, one man said, “Help yourself to a donut. You’re welcome to join us.”. I had eaten breakfast before I came, so politely declined the donut. As to sitting down, I told him I had not gotten the memo on the protocol for getting one’s transmission fluid changed, so hadn’t brought the appropriate chair for the occasion. He offered his chair, which was kind, but I said I thought I might take a walk instead.

Afterwards, I was thinking it’s funny how we move in and out of people’s lives. I will most likely never see any of those people again, but for that moment in time they were key players in my story. Such things I ponder sometimes, when my mind takes a deep dive into the why’s and whatnots of life on this planet.

The car was done in an hour, which was great. I bid a fond farewell to that cast of characters and was on my way. I am most pleased to have checked that bit of maintenance off my list. Making sure checkups like this get done will hopefully keep my car running well for at least another couple of years. I have absorbed enough to understand maintenance holds the key to the longevity of a vehicle. Rick drilled this into me after I told him the following story from the “before I had retained any useful information” years. It is embarrassing to tell this story, as it definitely does not paint me as the sharpest pencil in the box, but I do so to emphasize how far I have come since then.

In my mid twenties, I had been at a friends house for an evening baby shower that had run quite late. This was back when 9:00 was around the time my evening began, not when I turned the lights out and went to bed. I had an old beater Toyota in those days that sported a catchy bumper sticker reading “my other car is a BMW”. Lol. The car wouldn’t have won any beauty contests, but up until then it had gotten me from point A to point B with reliable consistency. Making my way along a back road in the foothills, the car suddenly made an alarming groaning noise such as I might imagine an elephant to make if trying to pass a bank safe through it’s intestinal track. This massive groan was immediately followed by all the dash lights flashing concurrently, and then a total engine shutdown . Even to my ill experienced ears this did not sound good. Coasting to the side of the road, I tried the key again. Why do people always do that? Must be optimism springing eternal in our DNA. No way did that sound hold any hope the car would start again, yet there I was turning the key. I got out. As there was nothing around me but hillsides and trees, the only option appeared to be to walk back to a call box I’d seen about 1/2 mile down the road. Back then no one had a portable phone. Our phones were still umbilically attached to the wall. If you were out and needed to make a call, a public phone was the only option. I remember there was no moon, and the night sky was pitch black. Walking along, the stillness only disturbed by the sound of my own footsteps, my mind began conjuring up images of boogey men lurking behind every bush and rock. Shadows transformed into gruesome monsters and tree limbs jutted out in my direction like outreached arms.

Finally, reaching the call box, I was connected with an emergency operator who put me through to AAA. A tow truck driver was on his way. Hanging up, I schlepped another 1/2 mile back to my car. I had taken my uncomfortable shoes off for this trip, in case there really was a boogie man and I had to make a run for it.

A half an hour later, headlights came up over the hill. The cavalry had arrived. Yay. What a nice man. To be honest, while waiting, I had begun thinking about scenarios including abduction by tow truck driver which had set my nerves on edge. Being alone in the dark can really toy with your imagination. Fortunately, the driver was an older man who was all about the business of looking at my car and getting me back on the road. He told me he had two girls around my age, and would be horrified to think of them out on the road stuck in the same situation. My angels were on the job. Popping the hood as he instructed, my hero ducked his head underneath it. I stood behind him and watched as he began screwing and unscrewing caps. After several minutes, he stood up, removed his ball cap, and scratched his head. I know after years of dealing with the male animal, this gesture does not mean we are about to launch into an upbeat conversation. “Young lady”, he said, “you are completely out of oil”. “Thank heavens”, I’m thinking, “something easy”. If you know anything at all about cars you are currently rolling your eyes. Again, he restated I was completely out of oil. I’m thinking, “I’m not hard of hearing. Let’s put some in, yes, and get this show on the road”.Hmmmm. Not. The third time around he explained the situation loudly and slowly, apparently having come to the conclusion I was at the very least clearly mentally impaired. Bottom line, “Chickie, your engine is cooked. No more varoom, varoom, nada, finis”. Ohhhhh! The car, pronounced terminal, was hooked up to the trailer and dropped off at a closed gas station until it could be dealt with in the morning. I, in turn, was dropped off at home, vehicleless and exhausted. Oil is essential to the functioning of a working engine. Got it. Lesson given, and in this case, lesson learned. Sigh.

Another very male environment is a barber shop. My children’s father passed away when they were still in elementary school. Taking my son to get his hair cut had been sort of a male bonding day for them, with ice cream usually on the agenda immediately following the shearing. Now that his dad was gone, this, along with so many other responsibilities, was to fall to me. There weren’t any male figures close by who could sub for his father, so when it came time for a hair cut, my son and I crossed the line together. Stepping in through the door of the barber shop hand in hand, all eyes were upon us. I suppose it would be like a man going into a yarn shop. Not that men don’t crochet or knit (look at Rosie Greer), but in the years I’ve been frequenting yarn or fabric shops, the customers seem to be mainly ladies. At any rate, the barber closest to the door surveyed me suspiciously over the top of his glasses. I explained I was bringing my son in for a haircut. There were mostly adult males seated in the fully occupied chairs, so I assume the presence of a young woman in the room might limit the subjects they might be comfortable discussing. One man got up, and offered me his chair. The quiet was overwhelming. When it was my son’s turn in the chair, the barber asked what haircut I wanted him to have. “Um, the usual”? Another eye roll here I would suppose, probably from the barber. Turns out it’s a “little boy cut”. Well, that was easy. Now, I notice there are a myriad of cuts to choose from. You can get dye jobs and initials and designs. Glad I wasn’t dealing with all that. I felt the entire shop breathed a collective sigh of relief as we paid and went back out of the door. The ice cream shop was the next stop for hot butterscotch sundaes. Another hurdle scaled. Six weeks later, I was back again. After a while, they seemed to begrudgingly accept my presence there and even welcome us in.

So it’s work tomorrow again. I got notice yesterday we lost one of the oldest residents in my absence. He was 103. Interesting man. He survived the holocaust, spent time in the concentration camps, and wrote several well celebrated books on the subject. During the day, while seated at my desk, he often sat in the window in his wheelchair quietly taking in the sun. I shall miss him. The business of assisted living work will always leave much room for goodbyes, as that is the ebb and flow of life under these roofs. I just wanted to remember him here, because he touched me. Have a fabulous weekend!!!!

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Sunday the thermometer finally stretched itself up to 80 degrees. What a gorgeous day it was, seeming almost to shine brightly as if paying homage to it being Easter Sunday. Blue, blue, skies overhead, only broken up by an occasional white puffy cloud floating by. Glorious. Of course, this contentment with the weather will only be temporary. I say this because, we’re never really happy, no matter what the weather might serve up, for very long. When it’s hot, we’re wishing it was cold, and when it’s cold, yup, we’re asking, “where’s the dagnamit heat”? Since the onset of spring, I sit at work all day having one person after another remarking on how cold it is for spring. We’re like Goldilocks and the three bears. The only time Goldilocks was satisfied was with Baby Bear’s stuff. That satisfaction would have been fleeting as well, disappearing entirely most likely, once Baby Bear’s cereal had cooled off or his bed got old and lumpy. In a month, guaranteed, we’ll all be kvetching about the heat. There’s no maybes about that.

I indulged in a little retail therapy over the Easter weekend. Holidays haven’t been quite the same since my mom passed away. They seem to arrive with a bit of melancholy pinned to their shirttails. Sometimes, a little shopping cheers me right up. It certainly always did her, and Mama taught me well. Richard and I decided to go all shabby chic on Sunday’s trip to the store. Thrift store hopping is an activity I really enjoy, especially, when I come home with some really great treasures. I have mentioned before, I am blessed with a kind of a unique talent for thinking about something, then having it magically materialize in my life. Rick used to call it my super power. lol Last week, while emptying the dishwasher, I noticed several pieces of a set of small dishes I use a lot and really enjoy, had chips around the sides. Last I’d used the dishes, there was a chip in one, but now there were three plates each with a chip clearly visible. As they are dishes I use frequently, I decided to look on-line to see if I could find replacements. I bought these dishes years ago at Costco. My recall isn’t fine tuned enough of late to remember exactly when I’d purchased them. I do know Rick and I were still living in Oroville, so I bought them well over a decade ago. Still, I had faith the Internet, which hasn’t failed me yet when searching for something, would yield a result. The dishes came in a set and were meant to be used as “dipping bowls” for olive oil and garlic”, a fad going around culinary circles at the time. The set of brightly painted ceramic dishware included a tray to hold the bread you would use to dip with, as well as eight 6″ dishes. I probably paid less than $30 for the entire set. Sure enough, some results popped up. The sites with identical dishes wanted as much as $15-20 for each small dish. Say what? No way was I going to pay that. Wishing I had new ones, but not willing to fork out $60 for three of them, I closed the cupboard door and promptly forgot about them. Sunday, while in one of the last stores we were to visit, Richard waved me over to show me something he was looking at. Right there next to the item he wanted me to see, sat two complete sets of my little dishes, all intact, 16 for $15.99. Wow. They are in my trunk as we speak waiting to go home. Couldn’t believe it.

Word on the street is, thrift stores and discount stores are businesses benefiting nicely from the current state of our economy. With our dollars not reaping the harvest they used to, consumers are looking for more bang for their buck. I know, speaking for myself, I purchase items far more often in the discount stores such as Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, than I do in the higher end stores I used to frequent. Grocery shopping runs much along the same lines. I look at ads, then chase deals stores are offering, on any given week. I remember back during the coupon craze in the 90’s, people were clipping coupons out of every paper or throwaway. Though not an avid coupon clipper, I probably had at least ten to fifteen coupons in my wallet every time I went to buy groceries. Some people, though, really got into the swing of things. I recall one lady in front of me at one market who had a three ring binder positively bulging at the seams with coupons. Opening the book at the cashiers station, I could see the book was very well organized. There were tabs and plastic sleeves visible, as she flipped though the pages adroitly whipping out one coupon after another. When commenting on how impressive I found this, she told me they were alphabetically filed, as well as organized in categories such as paper products or produce. Looking at the size of the binder, it appeared to me to be a full time job. I already had one, and a life, but I had to admire her effort.

Boo and are are packing up and heading home again this morning. The cat is getting to be quite the traveler. Seated in her crate, paws tucked under her like the Sphinx, she goes back and forth each week. The crate is always the sticky issue. Not traveling in it, she’s great at that, it’s getting her inside it. She has not written a dissertation on it, but I feel she associates it with the vet. If the cat sees it, as I’ve mentioned, it’s game over. Once aware it’s in the room, I will be in for an hour of coaxing, which will lead eventually to pitiful pleading, and finally, I will be reduced to plying her with treats and ridiculous games of (excuse me) cat and mouse in order to capture her and get her crated. Once inside, she settles down as if nothing was up, and off we go. Cats, go figure.

I have a friend coming up Sunday for a brief visit. Spending my time split lately between Richards house and mine, doesn’t leave a lot of room for my usual attention to house cleaning. Not being at my house, at least I’m not creating any new messes, that’s a plus. However, dust continues to collect on the surfaces whether it has company or not, and I’m fairly sure no kind soul stopped by while I was gone to put fresh sheets on the bed for my guest to enjoy. Another to-do before she arrives is food shopping. A Buddhist on a fast couldn’t survive on what I have to forage for in my refrigerator. For that, as my time is limited, I think I’ll rely on Instacart. For the most part their “shoppers” do a great job. I do find you have to keep your phone handy while they are in the store, in case they have questions or substitutions. If not, you might end up with something you don’t really want. Also, it’s important to watch what items you select. Recently, my friend ended up with twenty-five pounds of carrots just by pushing the wrong button. Whew. They are going to have great eyesight when they are finished eating that lot. Interesting fact, …….or not. Too many carrots, can actually turn your skin orange. I just read an article on that. You are probably thinking I can file that information under “little known facts nobody cares about or ever really needed to know”. Seriously though, they included pictures of people looking like they’d gotten into a bad bottle of tanning cream in the article. Huh. Moderation in all things I guess. I mean I like carrots as much as the next person, but I’m not going to the mat for them.

It’s back to work again tomorrow. The days peel off the calendar in such rapid succession I can’t kept track. It’s the middle of April already, and marching in a steady pace towards May. At the end of the summer, after Labor Day, I am taking a full month off from the world and heading out on a road trip with Richard. Our on-call concierge will be absorbing my days until we return. Since I only work two days a week, in total my time off adds up to a vacation week plus one. My dear friend, Barbara, is moving in with Boo for the month. Barbara loves my house, and Miss Boo, so they should be compatible roomies. As for Richard and I, we will be utilizing his roomy fifth wheel while away, and taking in the western states along our route. Yellowstone is included on our itinerary. I’ve never been there, so am most excited about exploring the park and checking out a bison or two up close and personal. Yellowstone, as well as the Grand Canyon, which hopefully will be included, would cross off two locations from my bucket list. Recently I was watching a newscast about a couple of senior ladies, I believe eighty-one, who embarked on an around the world in 80 days tour together. From the looks of the video I watched, the two octogenarians were living the life while traveling around the globe. At the end of the video, they encouraged seniors, or people of any age, to get out and live their lives to the fullest. Couldn’t agree more. In the blink of an eye the sand has run out in the hourglass, and the choice to experience what this world has to offer is no longer yours. I talked myself out of this trip several times, because I had no idea how I could pull it off. One by one, I added another piece to the puzzle slowly making it a reality. Until, finally, I could see the complete picture laid out before me. Someone told me once, “if you want something badly enough, you will create it in your life”. Words to live by. So, I am revved up about this new adventure, so to speak. Another benefit, besides seeing what we see along the way, will be observing how Richard and I do when spending 24/7 in each other’s company for a full month’s time. This will fill in a lot of blanks about how the future looks for the two of us. They say, you never really know a person until you live with them. If things don’t go well, you may well be reading a blog of mine written while I’m seated on my duffle bag by the side of the road in New Mexico, my thumb sticking up. Secretly, I’m not worried. We both share the belief give and take is a good foundation on which to build a relationship. In the nearly eleven months we have been dating, I don’t believe we’ve shared a harsh word between us. We work very well as a team, with each of us pulling our share of the load. Closeness like this trip, however, can certainly highlight the blemishes, if they are there to be discovered. This too, will unfold as it is mean to unfold. I will allow it to happen at the time it does and not worry about it today.

Have a lovely weekend. Spring is always so full of new possibilities.

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Last Friday I arrived at work at the usual time. As I do on workdays, I stopped on the way in to pick up a newspaper for my pal, Warren. For the first time, the mini-mart where I get the paper, informed me they had not received their delivery, so I left empty handed, Once I’d clocked in, I filled the candy bowl with Easter eggs, greeted several residents headed down to breakfast, and settled in at my computer for the day. Warren, who spends a good part of his waking hours occupying a seat in the lobby by my desk complaining about people letting in the cold air when they open the door, would be disappointed to find no paper waiting for him when he made his way down the hall once the breakfast service was over. It is probably best not to play favorites, but Warren and I have established a sort of comfortable friendship over the past year. I have come to look forward to seeing his face in the morning. Lately he’d been more confused then when I’d first arrived, but glimpses of the old Warren still shone brightly through if you took the time to look close enough. A one time landscaper, always has something interesting to share about plants and trees, and keeps a joke ready to launch or something silly to say to the staff as they come in and out of the lobby area.

Before long, one of the staff members stopped by to tell me over the weekend Warren had passed. Though he was not my relative, nor did I know him outside of the two days a week I spend at the retirement home, the man had touched me. It was interesting to see how many people mentioned him during the day, and that no one had chosen to sit in the chair he usually occupied. I found this all the more profound, because many residents share the dementia diagnosis Warren had been dealing with. It was touching people struggling with short term memory issues registered the connection. Another interesting fact, at least to my mind, was the paper hadn’t been delivered. I found that most fascinating. When I told my supervisor, she asked me to share this with his family who would be coming in at some point to clean out his room, which I will.

The beginning of the week I spent in the Bay Area with my son and his family. With five kids spanning thirteen to twenty-three in residence, you can imagine this is a house that generates a great deal of energy. I was most amazed at the efficiency in which my son and daughter-in-law manage their household. Working as a team, meals are dispatched, lunches made, mountains of laundry washed, dried, and folded, and the house kept picked up and dishes done. Whew. I got tired just writing that. The amount of groceries consumed under their roof is positively mind boggling, especially when you include friends stopping by after school, boyfriends, girlfriends, family, et al. To top that off, they have two crazy cats, a bit reminiscent of the two misbehaving “we are Si-a-mese” in Lady and the Tramp, who simply add a bit of furry playfulness to the mayhem.

Aside from the company, the competitive fun of the games we played, cherished time with my grandchildren, were the wonderful array of tastes enjoyed by my taste buds while I was there. We ate out fairly often but the evening meals were usually provided by the hosts. Having lived alone for the past four years, I will readily admit I’ve gotten a bit lazy about cooking. I still love great food, just not enough to prepare it for myself apparently. They put me to work, and I enjoyed participating. I manned the peeling, chopping, and general prep station. I’d forgotten how cathartic I find that part of getting a meal on the table. For most of my adult life I’ve been the one responsible for making sure dinner was planned, purchased, and cooked, so I think perhaps I took a little sabbatical when the opportunity arose after Rick passed away. Richard likes to cook, which has definitely been noted on the plus side of the relationship chart. Not only does he like to do it, but he’s quite proficient at it. Often we are on the same page with our likes and dislikes, but our tastes in food tend to run a bit differently. Definitely, I am the one with more exotic food choices. This is partly due to being married to David for eleven years who, also an excellent cook, had a Cajun background. Then I went on to twenty years with Rick, who, hailing from Egypt, had tastes that leaned toward Mediterranean dishes. Richard, is mainly a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Raised on a farm, he told me he was the one coaxing the milk out of the udders to pour on his morning cereal, or boiling a recently slaughtered chicken before it was to be deep fried for Sunday dinner. This is way beyond my wheelhouse. Milk arrived at our house in a metal carryall in bottles, and meat was purchased at the butcher and wrapped in butcher wrap when I was growing up. Funny how each of us has our own unique experience while here on this planet.

While the time with my kids was light and joyful, the ride home was something else all together. According to the weather girl on the morning news “light rain” at intervals was on the menu for the day. Uh-huh. I want her job. You get to wear lovely clothes, smile attractively, garner a large salary, and be wrong more often than not and still keep your job. Love it. It was already raining beyond the light stage when I packed my car. The sky overhead had turned dark and angry looking, and I had a feeling had Bette Davis been riding shotgun, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night”, would be right in step with what was ahead. The rain was really ramping up when I merged on the freeway going north. Cranking my wipers up to high, I listened as my new wipers groaned and wiped, then wiped and groaned, reminding myself to do something about the annoying rubbing sound as soon as I got home. Dark, forbidding skies loomed ahead and quotes kept running through my mind like “into the mouth of hell rode the 600”. Though 599 short, it somehow felt appropriate at the time. Heading up over the Benicia bridge was the strangest ride I’ve been on in recent memory. Pitch back clouds hung low over the bay on either side of the bridge riding up and over the rails appearing to almost droop across onto the roadway. One lone spot of light radiated through the clouds shining brightly like a dragon’s eye peering down through the darkness. All this gave me the feeling those of us moving slowly along in the onslaught of rain were about to be swallowed up into the beast’s fiery depths. Huge semis barreled by on both sides splashing water on the windshield, making it difficult to see the lines on the road ahead. “Mommy”. Relentlessly, the rain continued until I saw the the Sacramento skyline was laid out before my windshield. Yay, I made it. Every muscle in my neck and back was stiff from hunching over the steering wheel but I got myself home, and there was something triumphant in that.

My house sitter/pet sitter was waiting for me at the house. Once everything was unloaded from the car, I went to check on Boo, only to find her looking a bit peaked. Funny, cats can’t tell you they are under the weather but I swear Boo actually wears a different expression when she’s sick. Oh-oh. The gods must be angry. Phew. Naturally, it was a Sunday afternoon. I decided to keep an eye on her after noticing she had vomited several times by the side of my bed. I was pretty sure a vet visit was in our future for the following day. Sure enough after not seeing much improvement, I called in the morning and got her in. The receptionist said they had no regular appointments available. She says this every time I’ve called. I’m beginning to doubt if they ever do. She said I could get her in on a drop off appointment. This involves dropping your animal off at the office for the day to be checked out in between those patients who have actual times on the books. Naturally, this is more expensive. The world for Boo, as I love my dear old cat beyond measure, but I could picture Benjamin Franklin’s face flashing past my eyes every time another test was ordered. It was three Benjamin’s for the blood tests, another Ben and a half for the drop in visit and an additional two Ben deposit for the urinalysis. Now I wasn’t feeling well. In the end for a senior puddy cat, it turns out she is doing pretty well. Nearly $600 and the professional diagnosis, “most probably she ate something”. The next morning the cat was doing wind sprints across the living room carpet. Reminded me of when my kids were little. When they were sick, they would carry on as if they weren’t going to last another hour. Panicked, I would load them in the car and rush to Kaisers Urgent Care center. The urgent care, is an alternate treatment option established for those needing immediate attention, but not ill enough to require emergency room services. Urgent is definitely a misnomer. You could write the definitive American novel while waiting for your name to be called in those waiting rooms, along with the other 300 other patients needing attention. Once inside, my pathetic sick child, ten minutes earlier close to needing the last rights, would perk up and be positively chirpy the minute the doctor entered the room. Where previously they could hardly summon the energy to suck in another breath, they were now dancing about the room as lithe as tiny dancers in Swan Lake. Insert eye roll here. The end result being my cat was okay, was enough to find my grateful button, but still.

I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. One ear seems to have gotten completely plugged up. I am already hearing impaired, but with this going on and the ringing accompanying it, I am ten huh’s away from my legal lifetime limit. Was my mother here she would say, “don’t say huh, dear”. “It’s, pardon me”. Darn, those words from your childhood will hang around in your head like bees hovering about a honeysuckle bush. Sorry, didn’t mean to go all southern on you. This morning I had a phone meeting with a new non-profit I am projected to do some graphics work for. The person had an unfortunately low timbered voice, and I nearly pardon me’d myself out of a job before hanging up. I finally explained what was going on with my hearing. I believe the woman was relieved to know my inability to grasp anything she was saying, wasn’t due to the fact I was completely addlepated. I should have said no to this job. The “no” got stuck in my throat, while the old familiar “yes” pushed itself upward to my lips. I have more than my capacity on my plate already, but it is for a good cause so I guess I can find a spot for it. I may have to lose one meal from my daily schedule. Whew.

Sunday is Easter. Good Friday will commemorate the holy day as well as one year since my mother passed away. I shall think of her, but then I do so without needing a reason every day. I know she has found peace, and so I am peaceful with having to let her go. Easter is supposed to be the warmest day of a rather cool year for the holiday, coming in at 76 degrees. Looking forward to not having to wear a jacket. Masks also have been eliminated from my wardrobe choices. Tomorrow will be the first day I have gone to work without a mask covering the lower half of my face since I started working there. Most likely people won’t recognize me, nor I them. One day not too long ago a woman I had worked with several times came in to collect her paycheck without her mask in place. Not recognizing her, I asked her name. When she said, “Susie, it’s me Jackie”, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t known it was her. I have friends who are nervous about putting the masks away, as they are afraid of getting sick. For me, I have had the shots, I have had COVID, and my poor lungs are tired of trying to suck air in behind my mask, so I’m more than ready to let them go. Each to their own, I say.

Anyhow, if we don’t talk before have a blessed Easter. Talk soon.

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My most productive time of day would definitely be early morning. For example, it is 7:30 am as I write this. Since climbing out of bed, I have changed the sheets, done a load of laundry, refreshed the cat box, showered and dressed, taken a half an hour walk, and cooked and then eaten breakfast. Rick used to say if we could bottle that energy, we’d be buying a private island in the Azores in a week. I know! Not being a morning person by any stretch of the imagination himself, my morning chirpiness could sometimes be a lot for him to process before he’d washed the sleep out of his eyes. I can still hear him saying, “Could you dial back that energy a bit, Sparky, I haven’t had my first cup of coffee.”. Whatever. Can I help it if I inherited the Energizer bunny gene from my mothers side of the tree? I passed it on down to my children as well. Both my son and my daughter are by nature “doers”. We all seem to move through our lives at warp speed, though I have to admit as my birthdays add up, I have to reel it in a bit sooner than I used to and slow down as the day blends into the evening hours.

Knowing coffee is an integral part of my morning routine, Richard, though not a coffee drinker himself (this definitely was noted on the minus side of the relationship chart), was thoughtful enough to install a Kurig coffee maker and provide me with a huge box of assorted pods to have at my disposal. Knowing I most likely would disintegrate into a simmering puddle of goo without my morning pick me up, I believe he saw the benefits such a gesture would bring both to me as well as to himself. Good going Richard.

Yesterday morning I woke up the first time at 1 am. Thinking it was time to get up, I padded into the kitchen to get the coffee going before heading to the bathroom to perform my morning routine. Fortunately, I glanced at the clock on the stove before pushing brew. Half the night was still in front of me. Sigh. Worse yet, had it not been for the time change, the clock would be reading midnight. Boo was seated patiently at my feet. The cat counts on me to be the one leading the parade, so when following me back down the hall to bed, she wore a look on her face that needed little explanation. What?

I managed to get up for the second time at an appropriate hour for a person not reporting for the graveyard shift. This time I did push brew, and made myself a tall, steaming cup of coffee. Ahhhh. My morning piece of heaven. Taking two long swigs out of my “If you need me I’ll be on my pedestal” cup Richard got me, I set the cup down on the table and sat down to check my phone messages. The coaster, not quite level on the mat under the lamp, dumped my cup over the moment cheek hit pillow. Fine. So, it’s going to be that kind of day? Getting up, I could see his phone sitting on the charger thankfully was not in the moving brown river, but whatever papers he had been working on the night before were, (oh-oh) along with some batteries and his reading glasses. Really? I tried to catch them all with my hands as the liquid began to flow over the side of the table onto the carpet. Note to self, cupped hands not an effective way to capture liquid.

Seeing a brown stain forming on the white carpet, my first thought was to panic. This flight or flight response directly stems from growing up with my mother. Sorry, mom, but you know it’s true. I adored my mother, but her strong suit was not in showing great patience with accidents. Looking back, I’m thinking this may have correlated with the OCD she dealt with most of her life. Having things out of order is the bane of people dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder. As a child I was, to be kind, a bit of a klutz. If it could be spilled, dropped, tripped over, torn, or fallen into, for sure I would do exactly that. Poor Mother, in her defense, the universe was exercising it’s wicked sense of humor delivering me into the hands of someone who did not deal well with uncoordinated humans. That being said, even at this age, I still have a high alert response when I’ve done something stupid such as spilling the coffee. The imprint, intentional or not, we leave with our children can be really far reaching. This is something I look at often when thinking about my two. Thankfully, in spite of my often less than stellar attempts at parenting, they grew up into two people I am endlessly proud of. Go figure.

The “accidents” have plagued me most of my life. In retrospect, I believe my mother was right when she used to tell me I moved too fast, and needed to slow down and pay attention to where I was going. Rick used to hold a pant loop or grab my elbow when we were in parking lots to keep me from walking into something or being run over. I remember once when I was first with Rick, I accidentally pulled one of his wooden window blinds off his spare room window. I was just trying to look out at the deer in the front yard and somehow the blind came off in my hands. My first thought was to hide the evidence, which I did, tucking it under the bed. Now you understand I was a mature adult at the time, or as mature as I get. Had I been ten, I would suppose this behavior might have been expected. Logic would have it Rick, not being a stupid man, was likely going to notice the gap in his blinds at some point in the near future, but in the moment it was all I had so I went with it. Unable to stand the suspense of waiting for the discovery of the missing section, I confessed my sins and tearfully told him what I had done. When I was done with my ardent confession, I found him staring at me in disbelief. Then, he laughed. Taking my hand, he walked into the bedroom, removed the offending blind from beneath the bed and with two f thinking “she needs one”) to think when something like this happens “what is the worst thing that could happen”? Oddly, that’s been quite helpful. It has not cured the anxiety raised when an accident occurs, just makes it a little less painful for all concerned.

Getting a hold of myself after replacing the coffee soaked mat at Richards, I cleaned the carpet and wiped down the glasses and batteries which appeared non the worse for wear. The papers, however, were a total loss, the ink having run into an indecipherable blur on all three pages. Mia culpa. “Put the cuffs on me officer, I’m ready to do my time.” When Richard came out of the bedroom, all but the papers were restored to their original places next to his chair. Explaining what happened in acres of unnecessary detail, where a simple “I spilled the coffee would have sufficed”, his response was, “no biggee”. Really? Is it just me? I think so, I really do.

Richard was having Mohs surgery later in the morning for a cancer spot on his back. These pesky little cancers and pre-cancerous spots are the bane of us fair skinned, light eyed people of Northern European descent. Just the way it is. Pre cancer, an interesting way to phrase it, is sort of a cancer wantabe. Not quite there yet, but pretty well on the way to getting where it wants to go. I’ve had many of them. Most, thankfully, are simply frozen off with a liquid nitrogen gun. Actual cancerous lesions, require a more intricate extraction, called Mohs surgery. In a Mohs procedure, the surgeon scrapes thin layers of skin from the affected area. With each scraping, the piece is examined under a a microscope. When a layer is viewed containing no presence of cancer cells, you are stitched up and sent on your way. A lot of these problems, of course, were caused by over exposure to the sun. Particularly for us baby boomers who had no idea the baby oil and iodine we were slathering all over our young skin was, along with turning us a lovely shade of golden brown, creating the perfect landscape for all kinds of skin problems years down the road. Aside from health issues, sun is hard on your skin as you age. Some people who were avid sun worshipers in those days now look like apples left too long on the porch rail.

The building where the surgery was to take place is located in downtown Sacramento. The plan was for me to wait in the car while he had the procedure done. The time it took would depend entirely on how deep the cancer reached underneath the skin. I have seen it take up much of a day, such was the case once with my mother, or as little as an hour or two . For that amount of time, I much prefer sitting in the car to sitting in a physician’s waiting room. Rations were stored in a bag with enough to cover me even in the worst case scenario. In my purse I had tucked my book, and my cell phone to keep my mind occupied. A parking space opened up right across from the Sutter’s Fort Museum, just a block from the building where his surgery was to be done. Sutter’s Fort is a popular downtown attraction. Established in 1939, Sutter’s Fort was the first European settlement in California’s central valley. The Gold Rush, and the unfortunate treatment of Native Americans was wound into it’s history as well. Busloads of tourists, and bright yellow school buses carrying excited bands of school children, came and went frequently while I waited there. The day being the first warm day we in the Sacramento area had been privileged to see in a while, foot traffic was considerable. Some people were moving at a fast pace as though headed somewhere with purpose, while others were meandering along stopping to look at the erupting flowers in the gardens they were passing, or simply enjoying their first taste of sunshine in awhile. Joggers ran by as well, most with Fitbits firmly affixed to their wrists letting them know how many miles they were adding to their daily routine. I noticed many of them commenting to one another about something on the ground next to the shrubs outside my window. Curiosity getting the best of me, I sat up higher to see what the excitement was about. A sleeping bag was on the ground with either a person or a body in it. Watching for a moment, I was relieved the fabric moved slightly so at least I felt it was probably choice A. The big conversation on the street seemed to be about the fact a pair of men’s pants, belt still in the loops, and what appeared to be a pile with underwear and socks were heaped on the ground next to where he slept. That being said, one wondered what he was wearing inside the bag? I did not need a visual confirmation. I kept hoping a horn didn’t honk or tires screech loudly spurring him into action. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a bag of Pringles and two tangerines later, he was still in the “sack” both figuratively and literally when Richard arrived. Bullet dodged there.

The homeless situation downtown, well everywhere really, is reaching the crisis stage. I have no idea what the solution is to this but as prices escalate and jobs dwindle I don’t see it improving any time soon. Apparently the government is planning on providing “small homes” for a number of disenfranchised folks who want to come in from the cold. Not all people on the street want to rescued. Many have mental health issues that keep them from making rational decisions. From what I understand the state is looking into expanding medical health facilities to manage this side of the coin.

Perhaps they need to introduce the subject to some of the AI systems currently on the market and see if they can come up with a solution. I think of this because I watched a program on AI (artificial intelligence) the other night that I found absolutely mind blowing. They have developed such advance technology in their newest offerings that it is bordering on being totally frightening. The man who developed this particular technology on the program I watched, said the scope of what it can do even scares him. Good to know. The program, or whatever it is referred to, can pass the bar on it’s own in the upper ten percentile, and I do not mean “Sam’s Do Drop In”. Good Lord. Are we going to become obsolete at this rate? I’m sure I won’t be around by then, but it does give me pause for what the younger generation has to look forward to. Wow.

So, today we are having a dinner party. The main course is corned beef and cabbage because I worked on St. Patty’s Day this year so wouldn’t have been able to join in. I’m always tasked with setting the scene. Table setting is a familiar routine for me. Growing up I often helped my grandmother set what she called “a fine table for company”. Truth was she set a fine table nearly every night. My job was to retrieve the silver napkin rings from the china cabinet drawer and secure them on the cloth napkins. I can’t remember my grandmother using paper products as a child. Can’t remember if they were not available or if she simply chose not to use them. I do remember (thankfully something came through) when she came to visit she would keep a paper napkin if only gently used to be used at the next meal so as not be wasteful. Something we could all take a lesson from. I’m glad she passed on the knack for laying a good table to me. You can create such a beautiful mood while you are dining. It has served me well over the years. Don’t know if they do that between generations anymore.

Well, Happy Hump Day to you. It’s overcast but no rain. I’ll take it. Yesterday I was on a Zoom meeting with five people living in the general area. All of us at the same time were experiencing different weather. Here the wind was moving Richard’s grill across the patio, one person reported it was hailing, another had rain, one both wind and rain, and one even had a hint of sun. Stop it. Weird weather I’m telling you. Until next time.

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Be careful what you wish for. Many of us living in the Northern California area have been praying for rain and snow to help reduce the persistent drought conditions hanging by over us the past three years. Apparently, someone was listening. Last year it looked bleak along the mountainsides as you drove along the highways in the Sierra Nevadas. Trees, starving for water, had either leaves turned dark brown and wilted, or simply stood drooping, as if in mourning, in the midday sun. Many, dead from lack of hydration, fell in the forests or in the backyards of those choosing to live among them. I have to say it was difficult to watch. Well, at last this winter we got rain, and boy did we get snow. Then we got more rain, and we got more snow. Guess what is on the agenda for next week? You got it, rain, and snow. It’s not that this amount of snow is unprecedented in the U.S., but rather that it is unprecedented for our area. People living here are not prepared for it, and that makes it more difficult to manage.

When I was living in Massachusetts this amount of snowfall was simply called “winter”. My car was regularly the largest snowdrift in the yard after a heavy dumping of snow, and temperatures often dipped down below zero before factoring in the wind chill, making it feel even colder. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now. We have had two clear days to prepare for the next onslaught which is due to arrive in this area this morning. Many of my friends in Nevada County haven’t had power in days and are still trying to dig out from the last series of storms. One friend, living in a higher elevation, had to leave his pickup on the main highway and hike waist deep a mile and a half in from the highway to get to his home. Brrrrrr. Never have I been more pleased I made the decision to sell my home in the high country and move down the hill after Rick died. I seriously would not like to be dealing with what is going on up there right now. Good news, on the glass half full side of things, no more drought in most of the state. In the Lake Tahoe area, the snow plows are running out of places to deposit all the excess snow. Pretty soon they will have to use available parking spaces. Stores in the more isolated areas around here are running out of food and supplies. Trucks are parked all along the freeway and in shopping center parking lots waiting for a good time to traverse the highways. This effects the supply chain because their loads are delayed. Hope this next couple of weeks doesn’t result in any more serious side effects from the weather. Really feel for those living on the streets at times like this. I saw a man walking down the sidewalk on the way to work today pushing a shopping cart with a little dog in the baby carrier. Awwww. Sometimes I wonder how the dogs survive, but somehow they seem to get along. The man was wearing a stack of blankets like a huge shawl. Must have been heavy, but I guess heavy is better than freezing.

The most interesting thing has been going in my yard since the precipitation started. Robins have migrated into my world. Many, many robins. Yesterday, there must have been forty of the chubby little red breasted birds hopping about excitedly in the grass. Following the feathery invasion, squirrels arrived en masse. There were four or five furry little buggers foraging and digging out there. Richard says they are after worms. Apparently, when the grass becomes saturated, the worms migrate toward the surface making them easy pickings for the local wildlife. I must have a bumper crop. The birds maybe, but squirrels eating worms? I looked it up because worms just didn’t seem like a squirrel entree. According to the article I read, worms, though perhaps not squirrels meal of choice, will do if nuts and berries are scarce. They will eat worms for the the nutrients they provide. As a lot of the lady squirrels are expecting this time of year, good eating habits, or so I would suppose, might become particularly important.. For me, this would be like having to resort to opening a can of sardines to sustain myself. Worse yet, a can of Vienna sausage, if there was nothing else to chose from in the cupboard. Ewwwww. For those of you who have read my blog for any length of time you might remember Vienna sausage is like my kryptonite. I once had only a case of the slimy little tubes of destruction to survive on for an entire week. That, as they say, was the last of that. If they ever wanted to pry world secrets out of my tightly sealed lips, holding a can of Vienna sausage under my nose would illicit immediate results. My digestive system has never fully recovered I don’t believe.

The first day of spring is not too far off on the calendar. March 20th, to be exact. This year is setting a rapid pace I have to say. I have several short trips written in on my schedule in the near future which I am looking forward to. The first to visit my son and his lively bunch in the Bay Area, and on the heels of that visit, a quick three day jaunt to Bodega Bay with Richard. For those of you old enough to remember, Alfred Hitchcok’s “The Birds” was filmed in Bodega Bay. There is not a lot to do there if you’re not interested in walking along the cliffs, doing a little whale watching, or don’t like to cast a line in the water, but it is a picturesque little fishing village with lovely coves and inlets to explore. There are several places to dine along the wharf known for their excellent chowder, which I’m sure Richard will avail himself of. Personally, I’m not a clam kind of gal. I don’t appreciate the texture. I’ll eat chowder, but you will find all the chewy little clam bits neatly placed on the dish next to my bowl when I am done. Whether filled with activity, or peaceful and still, the ocean is always a location I am happy to find myself, so I will look forward to getting away.

The walls and doors here at work are awash with leprechauns, balloon rainbows, and pots of gold at the moment in anticipation of St. Patty’s Day. One of the residents came up to me when I came in this morning and whispered in my ear, “word on the street around here is the leprechaun cut-out in the lobby is the new owner of the place and is going to be our new boss”. I explained I had heard nothing about such a hostile elfin takeover, but then I’d just arrived on the premises. I assured him should I get any information vis a vis the new ownership, I promised to update him immediately. Our young new trainee watched this exchange with open curiosity. The kid seems totally overwhelmed by some of the dementia induced story telling transpiring under this roof. I keep explaining to him, the object of dealing with the severely memory impaired person is to roll with the fantasies not to push against them. Picture it like a huge wave rippling on the sea and you are floating along with it, not an undertow you have to fight against. After four hours, he has begun to have that deer in the headlights look. I don’t want him to leave, because it is great to have a backup, and he’s very likable. However, this business is not for everyone. Perhaps because I am, by nature, a story teller of sorts, it comes more easily for me to join in. I do love to weave a tale. Should memory loss ever cloud my mind, and I fervently hope it does not, I like to think I shall still be able to come up with a good story now and again to keep people entertained. Another point in my favor, if that is the right way to put it, is my mother had dementia so I am up close and very familiar with how the disease manifests itself. Fortunately, my mother saw the effects of it very late in her life, and as it progressed she became sweet and more simplistic. Some people rail against it, becoming angry as the confusion begins to settle in over them. In either case it is sad, but since scientific minds haven’t figured out how to reverse the process, for the time being we are stuck with it.

To be honest, there are days when I get nervous about my own brain function. Last week, after being shut in for days, I suggested to Richard we take in a movie. There is a really nice theater about twenty minutes from his house with comfy seats. Like many new theater complexes, they even offer up adult beverages in a very nice bar should that be your poison. (Remember when it was just buttered popcorn, Junior Mints, and Dr. Pepper??. I do.) The website indicated they were showing the most recent Tom Hanks movie, “A Man Called Otto” which I’ve been wanting to see. My treat I suggested, as Richard is always taking me one place or another and I like to reciprocate whenever he will let me. Yay. I went online to my account, selected seats for the following day, and saved the code and receipt to my phone. Done and done. The following morning I got an email from the ticket site asking how I had enjoyed the movie. I chalked this off as a total website fail, until I actually looked at the ticket receipt on my phone and it became clear it was me who, in fact, was failing. Sigh. I paid for the tickets all right, but for two seats for the night prior. So, our comfy empty recliners sat there unclaimed as the movie aired while we wiled away the evening at home eating cheeseburgers and watching the evening news. Fine. The theater’s policy states tickets can be cancelled or exchanged for a different showing up to the showing of the movie time you purchased. After that, you are on your own. It was so incredibly dumb, I would have just bought new tickets for the right day and swept the whole mess under the rug, but for the fact the movie wasn’t playing anymore except for mid-morning when we couldn’t go. No choice was left to me but to fess up to being a total idiot, which I did. Richard just laughed. Surrrrre, wasn’t his $20. Duh.

My brain, if not forgetful today, is definitely tired. I could use a margarita, a warm sunny beach, and a little R&R. This too is in my future sometime this year. For now, I shall be very grateful I am warm and dry and not buried under a pile of snow and ice. Have a safe day.

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I woke up this morning to snow cascading down outside my window. It was of the fluffy white cloud variety. Boo, the Queen of Cats, was positively riveted at the sight of large chunks of white ice falling just beyond the pane. Several times, she swatted in their direction. I tried to explain to her there was glass in between her paw and her target, but you know how cats are. I read an article recently stating cats are capable of understanding, I believe the writer said 150, human commands, they simply choose not to do them. Why am I not surprised? Over the weekend, I took her on a field trip to Richard’s house. The drive, around forty-five minutes each way was thankfully uneventful. I secured her in her carrier for the trip. I bought her a new, lighter fabric carrier, last month thinking she might prefer it the hard carrier we have been using. As usual, the cat made up her own mind about the choice to be made. When I tried to ease her into the open end of the new crate, she proceeded to lose her little cat mind. After squirming and writhing nearly out of my grasp, and she is surprisingly strong, she spread out like a flying squirrel and dug her claws into the fabric and wouldn’t let go. She was not, and I repeat not, going to go into the hole without a fight. Fine. Ah well, another item for the donate pile going to the animal rescue. It will join the scratching board (she much prefers furniture), or and the ring with plastic mice running around in circles inside, (I believe she actually yawned when I showed her that gadget). Conversely, my old cat, Kitty, loved to to travel. When the carrier was produced, she happily hopped inside and waited for the adventure to unfold. Boo, not so much. She views the carrier as a device of extreme cruelty that usually signifies a trip to the vet. She would not shed a single tear if I threw it off a cliff somewhere in a remote location and never looked back. Rick and I once took Boo on a three hour drive to visit my mother’s in San Jose. An hour and a half of the drive, she crouched in the carrier and vocalized what a bad idea she thought this was. After 90 minutes of caterwauling, it was pull over and leave her at the side of the road (Rick’s option), or let her out to walk around in the car, (mine). The cat behaved far better when freed, so we opted to allow her to roam free again on the return trip. While standing on her hind paws to look out the rear window, she set a front paw on the window’s down button. When the window went down, she escaped into the street before I could grab her. Unbelievable. We spent the next hour trying to coax her out of the bushes in the meridian. Not doing that again. Once bitten, twice shy really applies to that piece of business.

She actually seemed to have a lovely time at Richard’s house. On blustery days like we’ve enjoyed lately, he keeps a roaring fire going in his fireplace. During our stay there, I found her often fully extended on the carpet before the hearth soaking up some of the lovely heat it brings to the room. There are four squirrels that stop by periodically during the day to mooch peanuts Richard puts out for them. He refers to the furry four as his “livestock”. Oh come on now, that is kind of cute. At any rate, my house has no floor to ceiling windows for her to look out, so seeing these four strange beings was something novel and new that really captured her attention. At one point one of the squirrels was nose to nose with Boo, each eyeing the other safely from the opposite side of the glass. Took the squirrels a few passes around the deck to understand the cat could not get out, before they would come close enough to grab the nuts on the mat. Was fun to watch the interaction with no bloodshed ruining the moment.

I drove to work this morning at a snails pace. This area gets snow rarely, and I am a tad rusty as to how to behave when it’s covering the ground. Several times, when either accelerating or coming to a stop, I found myself in a skid. I’m hoping by the time I go home, it will have melted off. When I was a kid snow was a treat. On school days, when heavy snow fell in Nova Scotia, my grandmother and I would have our ears pressed up to the small radio in her kitchen. If a snow day was called, I would be zipped into my snow gear and released to go play outside. Before long there would be a snowman in the yard wearing one of my mother’s old scarves and sporting a carrot from the vegetable bin for a nose. These days, though I still find it so pretty to look at, I prefer to admire it from a distance. I really have little interest in playing in it for long, and no interest at all in either shoveling it or driving in it. If it continues at this rate, pretty soon I won’t have any television to watch when I get home tonight. If enough snow accumulates on the dish on the roof, it will totally block reception. Ah well, I just went to the used book store over the weekend and stocked up on reading material so I won’t be without something to occupy myself with. All I ask is that the electrical grid holds. I start getting a little squirrely myself when the lights and heater shut off. My little house was built in the 1930’s. Insulation was not as sophisticated in those days as it is now. The heat, once the source is turned off, dissipates very quickly. The last time that happened, I ended up beneath a tent of blankets on my couch wearing earmuffs and snow boots watching my own breath freeze in midair. I would prefer not to have to repeat that behavior.

Richard offered to come get me should I be powerless, so to speak. He has four wheel drive in both his vehicles and being a retired truck driver, a little snow on the ground means little in his world. My hero. Truly, I really appreciate the offer. A warm fire trumps a freezing cold house every time in my book. Just sayin.

I’ve taken on some new non-profit work. Basically, they can’t find graphic artists in the area to do volunteer work, so word has gotten out I am willing to draw the short straw. I don’t mind, or I wouldn’t have signed up in the first place, but I’m not sure where I’m going to fit it into my schedule. Things are getting a bit tight in my life. Tomorrow I work, and then need to come home and whip up scalloped potatoes for a dinner party for ten on Sunday. Perhaps I will cheat and use a couple of package mixes. They are pretty good, and certainly beats thinly slicing all those potatoes. Promise you won’t tell. I had a dream in the middle of the night I was stooped over a huge pot of water. One hand was holding a potato, the other a potato peeler. Next to me, sat an open bag of potatoes, and covering my feet was a pile of discarded peels. I was crying and peeling, peeling and crying. Was it onions I was peeling this would have been understandable, but potatoes? This says a lot about how I’m feeling lately without having to delve much deeper into the subject. lol

Work, has proved a bit problematic of late as well. Hmmmmm, sounds like I’m complaining. Perhaps, because, I am. I work with five directors, each with their own set of priorities and way of doing things. One tells me one thing, the other something totally different. One wants me to gather a lot of information from the caller when a call comes in for them, the next one wants me to simply tell them they have a call and on what line it came in. Ach. When the calls are coming in rapid fire trying to remember who wants what becomes more of a chore than fielding all the lines that are ringing. Perhaps I am getting tired of working. Wish I could get tired of collecting a paycheck as well, but I’m not quite there yet.

Richard would like me to throw caution to the wind, pack up Boo, give my notice, and take off in the fifth wheel to do a tour of the United States. I have to say, this is a tempting offer. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve run away from home. I toured the country with my first husband and my then toddlers for nearly a year, and did it once again for about five years with my last. Sometimes I get to wondering if I am imbued with nomadic DNA. I seem to end up roaming either on my own, or pairing up with someone who also likes to flitter and land. Seems like a bit of a pattern looking back on my life that apparently doesn’t intend to right itself anytime soon. This opportunity to have this kind of adventure probably will not present itself again. I have to decide if I still have enough adventurous spirit tucked away inside me to tap into and do it one more time.

Well, we’ve gotten through Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and Mardi Gras. On to St. Patrick’s Day, which is coming up next month. I believe after that it’s smooth sailing holiday wise until the Easter bunny gets busy for another year. In between all the holidays littering the pages of my calendar, I have birthdays popping up all over the months. I have two children, who have seven children between them. Each of my children is married, so there are spouses. Now, I have Richard and his extended family. For these occasions cards are probably how I’ll commemorate them. Then you move onto friends with occasions like birthdays, hospital stays, grandchildren arriving on the scene, weddings. Whoa. My best friend called the other day and started our conversation by asking, “do you know what day this is”. A loaded question at best, I began flying through my memory bank only to come up with Tuesday, which I felt was not the correct response. When I said I had nothing beyond Tuesday, she said it was her wedding anniversary. Really? I can barely recall what I had for breakfast. I was her matron of honor, so I suppose perhaps I might have remembered at least the month they were married in, but it would have been a stretch even on a great memory day.

As we get older, we have a massive amount of information stored away in our brains. I like to think, that rather than becoming more forgetful, I just have more to sort through before coming up with the information I am searching for. Working with people each week who have memory issues, I am very aware of how important it is to exercise your mind as well as your body every day. I try to do puzzles when I wake up, read a lot, and challenge my mind to do more than write an occasional grocery list. I always have a crossword half completed somewhere I can pick up when gifted with a free moment. Keep those gears moving, I say, so they don’t freeze up. We can’t ensure that dementia will stay at bay, but there are steps we can take to keep it at bay.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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It has been awhile since I’ve found the time to sit down at my laptop and write something in my blog. Life, seems to have a hold of me by the scruff of the neck lately, and is shaking me hard. What did I do when I was working full time, I often wonder? How did I manage to be working forty plus hours a week, run a home, take care of my children, and the various animals populating it, and still have time to do anything else? Perhaps I didn’t, or perhaps, just perhaps, I was younger. What? No way.

I only work two days a week but somehow that slice out of the pie seems to have really cut down on my recreational time. I have to say watching that paycheck self deposit every two weeks is most helpful for my being able to finance my recreational time, if I can just find a way not to be too tired to enjoy it. Another recent occurrence is suddenly I’ve become a hot commodity in the non-profits in the community. Who knew? There aren’t a lot of graphics people out there who are offering up there services sans payment it would seem. Volunteering is just that. So, if you are actually a volunteer it will stand to reason you won’t be getting a paycheck for your services. Anyhow, I have been volunteering for the local food ministry for ten years with graphic support. The woman who used to run the events has moved on to another non-profit and now they too would appreciate any assistance I can offer. On top of that the local animal shelter would be interested in having me come in a few hours a week and help out. I believe this is the part in the book where the heroine runs away and joins the circus. Can’t do it all, that is a given. I will have to figure out what I can do and take it from there.

On an upbeat note, Richard and I survived our first Valentine’s Day. A wise man in many ways, a lovely bouquet of red roses arrived from him with my name on the card, and he treated me to a night out with dinner and dancing included. The original outfit I had chosen for the occasion wasn’t going to be suitable, as the temperature outside had quite suddenly turned cold. To add to the fun and games, I seemed to have downloaded a bug into my software and was frequenting the Kleenex box. Going out in something other than an anorak didn’t seem like a good idea. With Murphy ever present in the universe, guaranteed if I’m going to get sick it will be the day before I would like to look particularly special, and this was to be no exception. No matter what I put on, it seemed to be in direct contrast with my little red nose and watery eyes. Richard had prepaid for our tickets and I didn’t want to disappoint him, so in the spirit of “Lead on MacDuff”, I pulled on something semi warm and we were off to the races. I wore a mask so as not to be a serial spreader, but you can’t eat through a mask and trying to dance with one in place borders on the ridiculous. I suppose if my nose hadn’t been plugged, it might have proved less of a problem. We managed to pull out a few dances without having to alert the paramedics and all in all had a very nice time.

At dinner we were seated with some very nice people which helped to make the experience very pleasant. One couple joined us, along with three sets of ladies. The lady to Richard’s right was from Canada. The fact we shared a homeland, generated a lot of talk between she and I about our northern neighbor during dinner. She is French Canadian, hailing originally from Montreal. I thought of Rick’s mother, Labiba, who made her home for the last thirty five years of her life in Paris. Though born in Cairo, Labiba considered herself a fully vested parisienne. If, while visiting her in Paris, you made the mistake of mentioning French Canadians, she would cluck her tongue, and say, “Oooh, lah, lah. There is nothing French about French Canadians. They don’t speak French there. Oooh, lah, lah”. I remember being in London and having someone tell me we here in the U.S. don’t speak English, we speak American. A little hair splitting, but there’s probably some truth to that statement. Doesn’t matter where you live, everyone’s got an opinion, yes? Truth be said, in Canada there is a division between Quebec and the rest of the provinces. Just like everywhere across the world, each nation seems to have it’s own set of issues to deal with. Whatever the case, the two of us got along like a house on fire and I hope to run into her again. She invited us to a karaoke night she goes to on Friday’s. I explained to her when I was being assembled at the factory certain options were not included with the Susan Spratt model that year. I did not end up going along the line where the nice round behinds were attached, they did not screw in my sweet tooth, and most definitely they forgot to include the installation of my melodious singing voice. I believe Celene Dion got the Canadian lion’s share of that. Sooooo, that being said, if I am given the mike it is guaranteed the population in the room will drop by at least 50% after the first five notes I’ve hit. I’m just sayin.

Speaking of borders (Nice segway yes?), Richard will be leaving next week for several weeks heading down to Mexico to get some much needed dental work taken care of and get a new bridge. When he first told me this, I asked if this was a good idea. He told me he has all his dental needs taken care of south of the border, and has never had anything but excellent results. The fun part, according to Richard, is you get to include a road trip in your dental plans, which to him is a really huge bonus. I would love to go myself, but for me it would mean two weekends off work and I’m not able to make that happen, so, it’s “adios, Richard, hasta luego”. I was surprised to learn, when mentioning this to friends, a lot of people they know around our area do this. The cost is far, far less, than you would pay for work done here, and from what I’m hearing the quality just as good. Plus, you get a trip to Mexico in the bargain. Rather than staying in hotels, Richard will be towing his fifth wheel. His best friend and his wife will be pulling their trailer down with him, so they will set up camp at at Lake Havasu and get a little mini-vacation going while Richard schleps back and forth across the border for his appointments. Sounds like a plan to me.

With prices so high here in the U.S. people are looking for alternative options. A lot of people cross over our Northern border and buy their prescriptions in Canada. Whatever works. I know I bought a dozen eggs the other day and a loaf of bread and handed over an Alexander Hamilton and change. Whew. People with large families must really be feeling the pinch. Looking back, I remember what my teenagers ate. After school they would descend like a swarm of locusts going through my pantry leaving nothing but empty bags and a crumb or two for the mice in their wake. It was total devastation. My son used to serve himself cereal in a mixing bowl, often washed down with a half a quart of milk.

Well, we will keep hope alive that things will settle down soon. People are getting edgy I’ve noticed. Yesterday I went through a parking lot trying to find a spot to park to get my nails done. A woman was coming out of the Starbuck’s drive thru area. I was well on my side of the two lanes provided for traffic, but for whatever reason she didn’t like where I was. To my surprise, she put her thumbs in her ears and stuck her tongue out at me. Really? That’s all you’ve got? Hmmmmm. I behaved. I didn’t stick my tongue out at her. That would have been childish. Right? I won’t say I didn’t entertain the thought, but hope I hold myself to a least a slightly higher level of behavior than that. I think I’ll market white board paddles for such situations. You can write your feelings on them at such times so that you can get whatever peevishness you might be holding in out. Thankfully I didn’t have such an instrument as I drove by. Brother.

So, there are my rants and random thoughts for today. I hope Valentine’s Day treated you well. A three day weekend is on the calendar coming up. If you’re headed out be safe.

Talk soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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