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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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Well, we asked for rain, and boy are we getting it. Buckets full of never ending precipitation keep falling from the sky. My, oh my. Intellectually, I know this is exactly what our parched trees and dry fields need. However, trying to get things done in all this water when you add strong winds to the equation, can make for a hot mess getting around. I’m sure people in colder climates looking out their windows right now onto huge banks of snow are simply rolling their eyes and going, “ya right”.

The problem lies in that the storms are arriving in succession. Like soldiers stacked up in the queque at mess call, one falls in line right behind the other. With no time to regroup in between, our fire ravaged hillsides begin to give way, rivers overflow, and roads flood. Next, the soggy ground allows tree limbs to slip loose causing downed power lines or damaging homes, and often electricity becomes spotty. Since it is Saturday and I am working, I am tucked away most of the day with no need to go anywhere. Yay.

I woke up around 2:00 night before last to the sounds of Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, emptying the contents of her puddy cat tummy onto the pillow next to me. I assure that sound is not particularly welcome any time of the day, but in the wee hours of the morning it’s even less palatable. Poor Boo. So, I got up and washed her little cat face, then stripped the bed. New sheets in place, and the crisis seemingly over, both of us crawled back in under the covers and went back to sleep. Yesterday before I headed to work, I dropped her off at the vets for a quick once over to make sure everything was in working order. Her senior status, requires looking a little more closely when something seems off. I worry we will have to say goodbye some day, and part of my heart will simply be broken. The vet called me report that other than being a bit portly (rather rude, if true), and having a bit of tartar around her teeth, the cat seems in great shape for the most part. That being said, her kidneys are beginning a slow downhill slide. Apparently, this is quite common in older cats such as Miss Boo, and takes several years often to progress to the end stages of the disease. When I picked Boo up after work the bill came to nearly $500.00. After that news, I too needed medical attention. I knew it would be high. Well, I knew it would be high, largely because it is never low when you take an animal to the vet. Before proceeding, the receptionist had called to confirm I was comfortable with the price for the procedures needed, a urinalysis and blood panel, which she said added up to around $350.00. Well, I’ve got to be honest, I wouldn’t say comfortable would have been the word I’d have chosen. $50 is more my comfortable range. What are you going to do? Ah well, for Boo, the sky, apparently, is the limit. I got to wondering after I hung up, how they perform a urinalysis on a feline. Certainly they don’t hand her a little plastic cup and point her in the direction of the ladies room. I decided some information naturally falls under the TMI category. So, I am feeling a bit melancholy this morning on this gloomy day. Thinking back seventeen years, I consider myself blessed that little white paw reached out and stopped me that day in the animal shelter. Looking in the cage at those two scared beautiful blue eyes staring back at me, I said without hesitation, “I’ll take this one”, and never regretted the decision for one minute. I know how lucky I am to have shared space with Boo all these years, but the very thought of letting her go makes my heart shed a tear. The only way I know how to proceed with dignity for both of us, is to enjoy her as much as I can for the time that we have left and that is all I know how to do.

In a way it was literally raining cats and dogs over the holidays. A friend of mine got a furry gift for Christmas on a cold blustery day in December. She opened her back door to let her white German shepherd out to enjoy his usual morning pottie break. The dog got immediately agitated when the door opened and began to circle excitedly. Looking down to see what had caught his attention she saw a small orange and white tabby kitten curled up on her doormat wet and shivering in the cold. In a way, this small bundle fell right in with something the family had decided to move forward on prior to the holidays. They have a dog and cat in residence, but the cat was getting quite long in the tooth and they felt they wanted to add a kitten to their brood. Perhaps Santa had actually tuned in to their conversation, and here was the answer to their request. Gathering the little animal up in her arms, my friend brought him inside and dried him off. Once he was more comfortable, he enthusiastically lapped up a saucer of milk and then curled up by the fireplace as if he owned the place. Doing her due diligence, my friend placed ads on all her social media sites with a picture of their new boarder asking if his owner was looking for him. No responses forthcoming, “Dasher” has now become the smallest member of their pet family. I guess they’ll have to add another cat to the little caricatures they have decorating the tailgate window on their SUV. One image for every member of the family. Everybody seems to do that now. Yesterday I saw a window with about ten little figures draped across the back including what looked to be a grandma and grandpa on one end. Must have mother-in-law quarters at their house. Interesting, they don’t often call them in-law quarters, almost always deferring to mother-in-law. Women aren’t the only people to lose spouses, though they do seem statistically to survive longer than their male counterparts.

When looking at Boo’s head hung over the other night, my heart immediately transported itself back to losses in the recent years. For a moment I was held in the firm grip of the pain losing someone or something you love brings to the table. It also reminded me how many steps forward I have taken on my quest to find myself again. You never emerge on the other side of grief quite the same person as you were when you began your journey. Each phase you complete along the way, eases you into the one to follow. I liken it to a final in school. You have to complete each chapter in the book in order to know all the answers on the quiz. The pain must be felt, the loss duly noted, before you can go on to the next part of your life. You cannot love without understanding there is loss associated with the doing of it. People and pets are only on loan to us for the time we are allotted to spend with them. The joy they bring us, and the heartache when they are gone, are all part of the process of genuinely caring for someone or something beyond ourselves. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. For me, it is well worth the price of admission.

I recently met a lady in a new inner circle of people I have been associating with, who is a published writer. With seven books out on the market, she had a lot of valuable information to share with me. Sitting in her tidy office with bookshelves on either side of me lined mainly with titles she had created, I found myself a bit star struck. Always in the back of my mind, a book has lingered. Friends have encouraged me along the way to actually do something of a more substantial writing endeavor beyond the vignettes I pump out here and there on my blog. I have several half completed manuscripts gathering dust in my closet, but somehow taking them over the finish line seems such a daunting endeavor. The woman asked me, “what have you got to lose”? I really Couldn’t think of a good comeback for that statement. What do I have to lose? My grandmother used to to say to me, “the only thing worse than failing, is never trying in the first place”. There’s a great deal of merit to that statement.

At any rate, we have a new year stretching before us. For whatever reason, I feel this year brings with it much magic and promise. That theme, at least, keeps resonating in my mind. Perhaps it is time to take a few chances and step off the ledge. Who knows what is ahead, but how exciting to imagine what might be.

Happy Saturday to you. If you’re in California keep that umbrella handy and stay dry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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