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Night before last was the weirdest night I’ve had in a while. Of all things, I walked in my sleep. Well, perhaps you wouldn’t call it sleeping, as I remember parts of what is transpiring. I guess it’s more of a twilight in-between place I find myself where logic does not prevail. This is only the third time I can remember ever experiencing such a phenomena. Each time, once the episode is over, it leaves me with the strangest feeling like there is an unfamiliar dialogue streaming in my head. Sort of the way I feel after waking up from a bad dream. Takes me a while to shake it. In the first two episodes I endured, the sleep walking was triggered by medication. Not recreational, no, no, no, but prescribed. The first time, I believe, was attributed to a pain medication my doctor had prescribed post surgery. In this most recent instance, I can only point to the melatonin I decided to take before going to bed to help me sleep as being the likely culprit. I took the natural sleep aid once before and experienced perhaps a lingering laziness the following morning as the only side effect. This time, so desperate to get a good night’s sleep I also drank Sleepytime Tea, rubbed my arms with lavender laced cream, and may, I say may, have taken two instead of one melatonin capsules by accident. My bad. Totally, my bad.

The first time I went wandering about while still asleep I was in my twenties. My then husband, discovered me piling into my car at 2:30 a.m. fully dressed, lunch packed, and preparing to head off to the work. I had packed the back seat with a pup tent and some camping gear. Not only was it a Sunday morning, so there was no work, but 3:00 might have been a little early to arrive at the office had it been an actual workday. Why I packed camping gear I have no explanation. I suppose I could have pitched the tent and made some s’mores until everybody arrived for work on Monday. My husband said I made no sense when he asked what exactly I thought I was doing. Realizing I wasn’t sharing his dimension, he guided me back to the bedroom, put my pajamas back on, and tucked me back in bed. That time, I didn’t remember getting up at all. This time, was much different.

The second time it happened, I got up in the early hours of the morning and made a meatloaf and ate a full dinner leaving the remains of my mess on the counter and going back to bed. That night I’d taken medicine for the pain associated with an abcessed tooth. Have some memory of that incident, but only whipping light and fluffy mashed potatoes. I woke up the following morning with catsup on my shirt, only to find the dog standing on the counter licking up the residue of what was left on my kitchen counter. Thankfully, I didn’t either try to drive that night or go down the deck and take a swim (we lived on the Sacramento Delta at the time). My angels do keep me safe in spite of myself, I always feel.

This time after consuming all the sleep aids, I picked up my book. Under normal circumstances, if tired, I barely get two pages under my belt before my eyes droop. I’m not sure to be honest I even opened the book to begin reading before I dozed off. It was early, before seven probably. I don’t usually drop off that early in the day, but as I said, I haven’t been sleeping. Also, I am adjusting to working eight hours a day again after all these years. I woke up with a start. Groggy, I looked the clock by my bed. Almost eight o’clock. OMG. I had slept, and overslept. I flew out of bed and began to run around the house, stopping first to push the on button on my coffee maker. Being late on my third week on the job is simply not good form. Somewhere among the cobwebs and sinewy stuff cluttering my gray matter, an idea hatched in my addled brain. Suddenly I remembered I needed to call the Automobile Club and have them jump my battery in my car before I could leave the house. Now, this would not be a surprising thought to entertain, if my battery in fact needed jumping. It did not. First, I called work to tell them I would be late. A man answered who told me my boss was not in the office and wouldn’t be in until the morning but he could take a message. Morning? What are these people stupid? What morning? Then, he offered to give me my boss’s supervisor’s number. Really? Yup, called old John (who I don’t know from Adam) and told him I was going to be late because I had called AAA and they were on they way. Thankfully, the phone calls ended there. I did, however, continue on without restraint to send an email to my boss explaining the whole situation in detail. Next, I made a piece of toast (one does have to eat) and suddenly at that point became confused. Looking out the window, rather than getting lighter outside as it would during the daytime, dark was closing in. Now, my mind had no idea how to process that. It had no idea how to process that, because I had only been asleep one hour when I woke up and had begun this whole charade. Good Lord, it was now only 9:00 p.m.

When my eyes opened the following morning I was sleeping sideways on my bed, glasses on, cell phone in hand, with Boo on my chest staring in my face. On my phone I could see I had sent several texts about my battery to friends as well who had responded and gotten no further communication from me. Four concerned voicemails were waiting in the queue. “What”, I wondered, “had I done”? Oh man.

How embarrassing is that? I had to go to work and explain I created all this mayhem while asleep, or quasi asleep. I half expected to be handed a check and have her tell me they already have enough mental situations on campus without adding me to the pot. Amazingly, they were all laughing about it. The email was pretty funny stuff, I have to say. I’m sure there was some serious ribbing going on about me when I wasn’t in the room. My boss told me I definitely brought the entertainment factor to the table. I do my best.

So, it was just another day in the life of at my house. Really my life never seems quite bubble in the center. In the atmosphere in the world around us, we have to learn to lighten up and laugh at ourselves. Oh, and last night I nearly beat myself to death when I opened my blinds to find something looking back at me. It was the tree outside my window. It hadn’t moved there during the night. It has by the looks of it been there for many years, three years definitely since I’ve been here. I don’t know. Maybe I’m suffering from PTSD. Happy Tuesday!!!

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Thursday was my fourth day on my new job. I haven’t actually done anything thus far but sit and watch an endless stream of videos on memory care issues, state guidelines, fire safety, and general elder care concerns. Though interesting material, eight hours straight sitting in an uncomfortable chair staring at a computer screen is positively mind numbing. On entering the fifth hour on Thursday, I was beginning to question if a person could actually become legally insane while doing something of this nature? Were there studies? Should I explore this when I go home and decide whether or not it is safe to return to work? OMG.

The grounds of the assisted living facility I am working in, I have to say, are lovely. Great care and attention seems to have been given to providing the residents nice surroundings in which to spend their twilight years. I found a shady spot with chairs and a table where I could eat my lunch, then took a quick walk before heading back in for the second half of my video torture for the day. The room where my computer was set up I shared with a gentleman named Brian. Brian carried on mundane snippets of conversation with me as he popped in and out of the office He reminded me of a jack in the box exploding up and down in it’s container. Inactivity makes me tired, as does a big meal. When home, I often close my eyes (I call it resting them) for a few minutes after lunch just to rejuvenate the working parts. Sitting mesmerized in front of the computer screen, old habits must have kicked in. Before I knew it, Brian was nudging me gently whispering, “Susie, you’re asleep”. “What, me”? Glad he found me before I’d face planted into the keyboard and created a scene. If my friends were here they would tell you I can sleep anywhere if tired enough. It’s my super power. I’m sure this is not reassuring to those drivers sharing the road with me, but honestly if I get that tired while driving, I will pull over and grab a few winks. Never want to prove a danger to myself or others. I recall when Star Wars first came to the theaters (I know, ancient history). I went to a showing with my then boyfriend. We had been water skiing the whole weekend and I was both sunburned and exhausted. Now, Star Wars was loud even by indoor theater standards. In spite of the noise factor, I managed to sleep quietly through about two-thirds of it. Had to see it a second time to see what all the hoopla was about.

After my day was done at work, I came home, answered a few phone calls, and took a long walk. Sitting for long periods of time is not easy for a “hummingbird” personality like myself. Sitting has always been hard for me. Rick used to get annoyed with me bouncing up and down out of my chair when we were watching a movie or taking in a 49er’s game. Sorry, I came into this world with this impossible metabolism and the girl was just born to run. One of the phone calls was from a friend of mine who was coming to dinner on Saturday. On hearing his voice, I was pretty sure I didn’t need to take the hamburger out of the freezer. Turns out, he tested positive for COVID. That pesky little bug simply isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He’s been shot and boosted, and HAD the virus, and yet here he was again down for the count. Discouraging.

Friday I spent relaxing, actually I devoted the whole day to it. I finished a book I’ve been reading since the beginning of the year, cooked something yummy for dinner, and settled in with Boo, the Queen of Cats, for a movie and some long awaited cuddling. All in all, it was a very non-productive and pleasant way to spend the day. The movie I chose, was one I’ve seen before. It’s a thriller with Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman called “Kiss the Girls”. Why on earth I chose that for an evening in the house alone escapes me. I ended up watching parts of it through the gaps in my fingers. There must be part of me that enjoys being scared. The book I finished was penned by Dean Koontz, also known for his weird and unsettling stories, so I had a lot to think about before turning off the light. Amazingly, I still managed to sleep most of the night without a weapon under my pillow, nor entertaining any boogey men in my dreams.

So today I am meeting someone new for coffee. This really has been an adventure into the over sixty dating scene over the past few months. I’m not in any kind of hurry to brew something in the pot, simply interested in exploring the different varieties on the shelves, and seeing what this is all about. Someone asked me if I got nervous meeting someone new. Not really. Maybe a small butterfly or two, but I am a fairly outgoing person, so conversation comes easily to me. No one who has moved 39 times and held as many temp jobs as I have, can be too hesitant about finding themselves in an unfamiliar situation. After a while, you get used to it and it becomes the norm rather than the exception. The biggest thing I am looking for is a “connection”. I have met several men who I enjoy as friends, and the one gentleman I shared time with the beginning of the year with different political ideologies, but I mean a real soul connection. If I can’t find that, then it is Boo and I and my lovely circle of friends going forward.

This morning will either be an enjoyable cup of coffee or an uncomfortable hour of stilted conversation. I’m going for the former. The jury remains out on this one as yet. I will bring updates when next I sit down at the computer to write. I have a friend who believes our lives are all about the experience. Makes sense to me. I think often about the numerologist who read my numbers back when I was thirty-five. He told me I had a really complicated and interesting life. My numbers, calculated by him according to when I was born, where, or whatever, told him I would basically recreate myself every decade. Looking back, much of which he spoke to me about has transpired. Here I am once again laying the bricks on the foundation of a different life for myself. What a journey it has been up until now, and if my intuition serves me, there is still much to tell waiting in a shroud of fog around the bend in the road.

Update. I made it through two hours of very pleasant conversation with my new friend. He was nice and interesting, but we had as many things in common as those we did not. For example, he’s a diving instructor, not flying but of the scuba variety. Now I love, love, love the water. Along with that love of water, I harbor a claustrophobic nature and a terror of being locked inside any area I can’t easily escape. We all have our little nicks in our armor. The thought to me of being hundreds of feet under the surface of the ocean with a mask covering my face is mind warping. Hmmmmm. Next, and he’s not the first male to say this to me, he spent some time letting me know he is VERY independent, doesn’t need anyone to take care of him, likes his space (a lot of space apparently), and is looking more for a traveling companion because he doesn’t like taking road trips alone. That being the case, I wanted tot suggest going to the local animal rescue and picking up an amiable golden lab. Why, one wonders, sign up on a site who’s sole goal is matching people to one another, if you prefer being alone? The logic here baffles me. That being said, he was a lovely person, if not one I choose to get to know any better. Again, about the experience and not the destination for the time being.

So, the quest continues. I am not in a hurry, as I said earlier, I shall simply hand the man my ticket and enjoy the ride.

Take the day off today. It is glorious sometimes to just abandon the to-do lists, leave the vacuum in the closet, stay in your pj’s and fuzzy socks and just be for a while. Rejuventating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Saturday to you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My mother will be celebrating another birthday milestone birthday in a few weeks. She has been on hospice for about a year now. That word always feels so ominous to me, but they have been wonderful in overseeing her care and I am glad to know they have eyes on her when I do not. There is no doubt she is slowing down. For me, this means getting as much out of each visit as I can to deposit in the memory pot.

While talking to my cousin in Canada last night we got into a conversation about flying. She related a story of hers where she boarded a plane with her ticket in hand. Locating her assigned seat, she found it already occupied by a gentleman. Explaining to him he was sitting in her seat and showing him her ticket to emphasize her point, he explained to her she, in fact, was on the wrong plane. Whoops. This brought to mind a story about my mother. Any of you who have read my blogs in the past, would know I do seem to get myself in messes. Telling this story last night made me think “the acorn does not fall far from the tree” in our family.

I will preface this story by starting with another. My mother was born with no internal sense of direction. For her, getting from the kitchen to the bathroom involved a map and a St. Bernard with a keg of Heineken strapped to its neck. As a child, I can remember riding shotgun with her and being given a map and expected to guide us to wherever our destination was supposed to be. No wonder I sucked my thumb. That’s a lot of responsibility heaped on an eight year old.

The first year we came to California my mother and new stepfather purchased a house in Fullerton, which is in Southern California. I was enrolled in fourth grade in the neighborhood school, and one of the first things I wanted to do was to visit Disneyland. Growing up in Nova Scotia, our perception of California was sun washed beaches, movie stars roaming the streets, orange groves, palm trees, and Disneyland. I didn’t see my first movie star until I was in my early twenties, but the rest of it was pretty much right on the money. After being in the area for several months, only Disneyland was left to fill out the list.

Anaheim, where Disneyland is located, was at best a fifteen minute drive from our house. I was so excited about going my mouth was moving a mile a minute. Back in those days you bought books of tickets at the gate ranging from A-E. The A tickets were for the less exciting rides, moving up from there to the premium rides which took an E ticket for admission. My mother spent $50 that day on the whole visit and went on about how expensive it was for days. Now that would barely cover parking.

After a fun filled day of rides, park food, and souvenir shopping our feet were tired and we were ready to head home. Again, home was a fifteen minute drive with traffic. As usual, I was handed the map. Mother had never driven the freeways before that day. When she merged into traffic she became totally unglued as cars and massive semis careened by us on either side. Orders were being hurled in my direction faster than a chef calling out meal requests on a bustling food line. Somehow we missed our exit. For whatever reason she never got off the freeway again until we’d merged onto several others and were totally lost. When we finally pulled off an off ramp, it was dark, and we were in Burbank an hour’s drive from our house. Thankfully, a police cruiser had pulled over to the side of the road. My mother pulled in behind him and explained our situation. I remember sitting in the car getting my thumb prepared for insertion lest she get arrested. We made it home well into the evening. It was a long time after that before mother ventured onto the freeways again, but I retained my job as navigator well into adulthood.

There are many funny stories in my mother’s repertoire. The one triggered by my cousin’s wrong flight story was one for the books. Mother was living in the Bay Area when this silliness transpired. Plans had been made for her to take the one hour flight to L.A. to visit a friend of hers who lived in the L.A. area. Not wanting to leave her car at the airport, she asked if I would drop her off on my way home from work. It was a Friday night, and the airport was packed. I asked her several times if she needed me to park and see her to her gate. Each time she said no, she would be fine. As I remember, it had been a long week, and I still had to fight the commuter traffic home, so with some reservations, I retrieved her bag from the trunk, gave her a hug, and told her to call me when she arrived on the other end.

Several hours later a distress call came in from my mother’s friend. It seemed she had waited at the gate where my mother was to arrive, but mother never got off the plane. Asking at the gate an airport employee said she had never boarded. What?

Before I could alert the media, the phone rang again. This time it was my missing mother on the other end. She was laughing so hard, I could barely get the gist of what she was saying. Seems she had gotten on board the plane after I’d left her. After taxiing down the runway and in the air, the pilot came on the P.A. to provide the passengers with a weather report for Seattle. Finding this odd, my mother asked the lady in the seat next to her why on earth he was telling them about the weather in Seattle. The lady replied, “because that is where we are going”. Amazing. So, the airlines, realizing they had a passenger on the wrong plane and they didn’t catch the mistake, put her up in the Holiday Inn and booked her a return flight to L.A. the following morning. Dinner was also provided. Good going, Mom.

Someone pointed out the other day when you have lost both parents the feeling comes over you you are now an orphan. Never thought of that before. I don’t know how I will feel when at last she leaves us, but I’m sure I will miss her more than I can say.

Thanks for the memories, Mom. It wasn’t perfect, but it most certainly has been an interesting run. I hope we have a dozen more years of memories to make together.

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My dear first cousin and her husband visited us here in Northern California over the past weekend on their way to Australia. I suggested to them if I laid off my Pringles for a week, I would probably be small enough to tuck in any extra bag, but they neglected to take me up on the offer. Someday, I will get there perhaps. It’s on my bucket list with a number of distant and exotic places to visit. I was sad to hear koalas were on the endangered species list due to the fires on their continent. The climate is changing and the animal kingdom feeling the shift.

No matter how long the span between visits, as they live in Ontario, Canada, my cousin and I seem to reconnect as if it had only been a day or two since we saw each other. I don’t have family in the states so it is quite a treat to have relatives at my door. On both my father and my mother’s side, my mother and I have always been the “satellite family”. Until I was nine, I had grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and the usual cast of extended family members most people enjoy in the vicinity of where I lived. At nine, when she remarried, we left Halifax, Nova Scotia in the rear view mirror of our new Buick and headed across the U.S. to Southern California. Since then, I have probably returned to my homeland a hand plus a few fingers of times, but it’s not like living close by. Definitely Nova Scotia is high on my bucket list as well, hopefully, over the next five years. Note to Susie “get your new passport and quit procrastinating”. Heard and received.

I’ve always missed that family connection. Probably that is why I have created a family of sorts in the lovely group of women I call friends, but in truth consider my sisters. My friends are really the glue that keeps this ship afloat and I am thankful for them every day. The supportive phone call when I’m feeling a bit weepy, or the laughs over lunches, or simply knowing that they are out there and sincerely care if I set my feet on the ground every morning, means the world to me.

Since many of the COVID restrictions have been lifted, the pace of my life has picked up considerably. The fact that my car continues to have the check engine light front and center on my dashboard, adds a little extra anxiety to keeping up with the program. The part in question, a pricey one, is due in tomorrow. They told me not to hold on to the thought it would actually arrive tomorrow too tightly, as most likely with the supply chain issues this is a guesstimate of when it will actually show up. Kay. This makes keeping my schedule in place a little more difficult, as the commitments on my calendar aren’t going to be kept if I don’t have any transportation to get me there.

Currently, I am undergoing allergy shot treatments. Each week I go to my allergist and sacrifice my arm for my injections in the hope that my asthma will eventually (takes a year or two) become something that fades into the background. I never had asthma until I moved up to Northern California. Well, mild symptoms of seasonal allergies, but certainly never was prescribed an inhaler before living up here. If this is the worst thing I have to deal with in my life, I’ll get by, but it does make life a little more challenging when spring shows up with all it’s gorgeous blooms and copious pollen. They won’t give you a shot if you are symptomatic. You have to keep the cycle in between injections within two weeks in order to keep moving up the maintenance ladder increasing your tolerance. Today is the second time I have not been able to go for my appointment. Like my car, I seem to be having some maintenance problems. I guess this is all part of the equipment getting older and not working as well as it did when it was bright and shiny right out of the manufacturer’s showroom.

Along with everyone else in the country I would surmise, I am tightening my belt. Tightening it figuratively, I mean, not that I’ve shed the extra five pounds COVID added to my frame. Frills and extras are being whittled down to fit in my budget. Door Dash, sadly, has been left by the wayside, and just when I was getting on a first name basis with the drivers. Life’s little tragedies. Cutting down on going out to eat as well, and not so much retail therapy in my near future. I guess with what people are going through overseas, this isn’t too much to ask.

California is currently sporting the highest gas prices in the country. Such over achievers out here. I was filling my tank yesterday and believe the man in the next aisle was actually weeping as he got back into his car. You’d think after two years of battling the bug, life would have settled down to a dull roar, but the irony of the situation is now we are free to go where we’d like when we’d like, and we can’t afford to get there. The gods are toying with us.

On a completely unrelated topic, a friend was talking to me about APP dating the other day. Interesting process that. I met Rick on line twenty-five years ago so I’m not new to the idea. Still, I lean towards the old fashioned idea of seeing someone and being attracted to them and going from there. Continuing with my theme, I am open in my “why not” year to looking at all things available for me to try this year that are not dangerous or fattening. The APP experience would be totally new to me. People cruise in and out on the APP apparently, liking you or moving on down the road to someone else they do. You, of course, also have the choice of liking them, or not. If you decide you “like” one another than you text, talk, progress to coffee at a Starbuck’s and go from there. Will I try it? Probably. I have to admit the thought of having to tell all my stories again from the beginning I find a little daunting. When you are asked if you’ve been married before and hold up four fingers in response, it’s always good for an uncomfortable pregnant pause. One man said to me back in the day, “Boy, you really took one for the team.” Yes, I did. I guess when it comes to love, I would suppose I am the eternal optimist.

Well I’m off for now. Happy Monday. Have a great week full of smiles and adventures. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I am debating if I want to cook a whole corned beef and cabbage dinner for the cat and myself, but I may just do it!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I am sitting here with a fresh cup of coffee next to my laptop, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, curled up next to me, the tree lights twinkling happily, and the heater humming. Life, in this moment, is good. That’s all we have really, the moment we are occupying. Boiling some eggs for breakfast, I noticed the windows were fogging up. Another chilly morning in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Always on extreme weather days, whether the thermometer registers high or low, I think of the disenfranchised people. The forgotten people, as I often think of them. Alone, shivering in the cold on a street corner or back alley. Outside, with no place to go and hope most likely not filling their cup. So many of them seem to have animals at their side. I have to assume these furry companions also have no homes to go to or warm beds to sleep in. Makes me think of the movie “Down and Out in Beverly Hills”. Nick Nolte played a homeless man who’s dog, in the opening scenes, abandons him for a lady walking down the street with more promising circumstances.

A long time back I wrote about being without a home or finances for a two week period in my life. I had family I could have called, but pride kept me from dialing their numbers. For two weeks my ex-husband and I lived in our car in Washington state. He had a job, so our future wasn’t bleak, but the present was definitely something we had to deal with. Many people who have lost their homes or for whatever reason found themselves without means, don’t have that option waiting for them. It is difficult to get a job if you have no address, no access to a computer or device, and nowhere to clean up and prepare for an interview. That time in my life made a permanent imprint on me. Never have I felt so vulnerable or unprotected. We had a case of Vienna sausage a work buddy had given my husband, a jug of cheap white wine (one must have some concessions), several large bottles of water, and an assortment of packaged cheese and hot salami packets. Not exactly a banquet. Though there was some money in our pockets, the job we’d driven up to Washington to work on had been postponed. This meant we had to conserve what resources we had for gas, and a hotel room here and there to clean up in before my husband was to report to work. Thankfully, the trees were just beginning to change color in the northwest, so though the mornings were brisk, the days were still comfortable and being outside not yet a dangerous place to be.

Each night we would find a nook or cranny off road to park the car. Using each other for warmth, we would huddle under our blankets and get as much sleep as the uncomfortable car seats would allow. One night, we found a cutaway on a rural road and pulled in under the trees for the night. With no moon out that night, the darkness swallowed us up. Though we could see lights on the hillside coming from a farmhouse, not much else was visible. My husband, a veteran of many long night shifts, could go to sleep standing up in the corner. For me, sleep often eluded me until the wee hours. This particular night, the black sky was alive with an unbelievable array of stars. The view, to understate, was spectacular. Looking out beyond the fence line beyond the front of the car, I kept getting the eerie sensation something was looking back. I remember feeling the hairs crawl up the back of my neck. Looking back, I think the more prudent thing to do in that situation would have been to lock the doors and waken my husband. Being me, and rarely a fan of the prudent choice, I grabbed the large flashlight on the floor of the back seat, and opened the car door. Approaching the barbed wire fence, it seemed as if it stretched all along the property on both sides. Engaging the flashlight, caught in the wide beam, were ten to twelve bovine faces looking back at me. Seemingly only mildly interested in the intruder, some chewed on blades of grass, while others just stared into the light with idle curiosity. Several of them let out low moos, so I responded with “Hello”.

Smiling, I went back to the car and settled back into my spot. In about a half an hour, I found myself in the same position I’d put the cows in, a flashlight beam interrupting my sleep. Both of us sat up in a panic. It was hard to see who was holding the beam with the light in our eyes. Rolling down the window, we were surprised to find a state trooper standing on the other side. It seemed the cattle rancher had recently had some problems with poachers, and seeing my beam flood the pasture, reported a prowler to the police. Whoops.

I can still picture the man standing there. For a moment he reminded me of Paul Bunyon. I wouldn’t have been in the least surprised to see the blue ox grazing not far away. Taller than average by a half, he wore a Smokey the Bear hat on his massive head, a neatly pressed blue uniform, and had a bow tie securing his shirt collar under his chin. Though kind, and not citing us for anything, he asked us politely to move on. I’m sure for most homeless people this is a familiar request.

In two weeks, our ordeal was over. Life for us went back to fairly normal. The local food bank gave us a most appreciated box of real food to see us through until our first paycheck. I remember asking the lady handing me the box how I could repay her. She said simply, “pay it forward”. That is why I have volunteered for the food ministry for the last eight years. My way of paying back a kindness.

If you see a street person, take the time to smile or say “good morning”. You never know their story, or what could happen to put you in their situation.

Have a nice weekend. Stay warm.

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Have spent the last five days visiting a friend in the San Jose area. She has a lovely home perched high on a hilltop overlooking the entire Santa Clara valley. A view that stretches nearly to Santa Cruz on a clear day.

What a good time we’ve had, doing nothing really. One day we spent doing “girl things”. On my first day here we had our nails done, then we went to lunch and did some Christmas shopping. On another we ran errands and she cooked a delicious dinner which we ate like royalty on china atop chargers in her gorgeously appointed dining room. Her taste runs far more formal than mine. I guess you might say she’s a city mouse, and I lean towards being a country mouse.

Though I love living in a less populated area, it is nice to feel the hustle and bustle of the city for a few days. Having lived in this area off and on over the years I can still find my way around without a problem, and know where to go to scare up a good meal or enjoy a day in the stores. Yesterday we went to Santana Row. Santana Row is a very upscale shopping area in West San Jose catering to people with large bank accounts and expensive tastes. I have the latter. Whether you can afford to buy the luxury items for sale in their lovely shops or not, it is a glorious place to go and browse and enjoy Sunday brunch. The streets are lined with eateries and most have set up outdoor dining areas for customers to eat el fresco. As opposed to where I live where they’ve gotten very unmasked, everyone is wearing a mask here. All stores or restaurants have posted mask mandates on their entrance doors. I guess this varies according to county. Sometimes I wish lawmakers would get on the same page and make a decision which applies to everyone. I don’t know about you but I would like to see news about this virus disappearing in my rear view mirror.

I think I’m still suffering from “grief brain”. It is a real thing. I went through it after Rick passed away as well. People talk to you, and though you process the information, most likely it will be gone like it was written in disappearing ink in the blink of an eye. Also, doing stupid things becomes more the norm then the exception. Yesterday I looked at my calendar for this week. Three appointments were noted on tomorrow’s date, all around the same time. Hmmmmmm. I hope my cloning appointment is first in line. One of them is an hour and a half massage my son and his girlfriend gave me for my birthday. No, they didn’t actually give me a massage, they gave me a gift certificate to get one a a local spa. Remembering they had an on-line appointment function on their website, I went on and moved the appointment up a week to a more convenient day. This is the second time I’ve changed this appointment. I believe I am avoiding it subliminally, or maybe just blatantly. I have never had a professional massage. Makes me a bit squirrely at the thought of it. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, people do all the time, but there’s something about it that makes me pause. Perhaps it’s the idea of a stranger touching my unadorned self. Could be that.

Content that I had my week back in line, I went back in the kitchen to pour a second cup of coffee. Taking a sip, my mind suddenly clicked into gear. I believe I actually heard it engage. Perhaps it was the caffeine finally hitting my bloodstream. In that moment of clarity, I realized I had changed my appointment to that morning two hours forward rather than next week. Man. Sooooo, when they opened I had to get them on the line and explain I was apparently having a mental breakdown. Thankfully, they were good about it and rearranged the appointment to the time I had meant to change it to. Whew. Seriously, I need a keeper these days.

Tomorrow I turn my car towards home again. Boo has had a house sitter for company, so will be glad to see me I’m sure but not totally unsettled as she would be if left to her own devices. Well, in truth I can’t speak for the cat, for all I know she hasn’t even noticed I was gone. I still have to finish my Christmas shopping this week and wrap what I’ve bought. Next year I’m going to look at this program. My extended family has grown with the addition of Dale’s lovely family so I have to curtail the gift giving and look at another way of sending my love. Either that or marry well before next December shows up on the calendar.

Happy hump day. Cya when I get home.

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