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My life is so upside down at the moment, all I need is to slap some sliced pineapple dotted with a few maraschino cherries on it and call it good. The phone rings incessantly. Dale is a well loved man. It is a tribute to him that so many people care about his well being and wish him well. He is playing a good defensive game, with all of us at the sidelines as his cheerleaders, but eventually, not withstanding a miracle, the cancer will most likely be the victorious opponent. Meanwhile, we support him in any way we can, and try to make each day as memorable as possible to carry us when we no longer have him to create new memories. All in all, a very melancholy, sometime joyous, and totally exhausting rite of passage.

I wonder often, as I have been in this same position twice in three years, why some humans have to suffer before moving on. Why when our time is done here on earth, we couldn’t simply drift out in a poof of glistening, fragrant, smoke evaporating seamlessly into the hereafter. “What is the purpose of the pain?”, I ask before going to bed each night, but as yet I have received no answer.

Today was the first day of fall actually feeling like the season had arrived. The sky is slightly overcast, with gray clouds block the sun at regular intervals suggesting the storm predicted to be on it’s way. According to the weatherman, the expected rainfall is not by way of a blockbuster, providing torrential downpours, but rather a trickle as opposed to a a steady flow. As dry as we are here on the west coast any precipitation at all is a cause for celebration at this point, so we’ll take it. Bring it on I say.

As I’ve said ad nauseam at this point, I live in a very small house. It is a sweet, and seductively cozy house, but was I to describe it, certainly spacious would never be an adjective I’d employ. Built in the 1930’s, there is no garage. I downsized considerably when moving here after selling my house. That being said, even with sluffing off a lot of household possessions, I still had more than I had room for. To avoid paying additional monies out every month for storage, my son-in-law built me a storage shed in the back yard to store my overflow in. Needless to say, I have filled that area up quite nicely. There are two things I really miss in this house when comparing it to my previous. First, as I said, a garage, and I also miss my large capacity side by side refrigerator. Yesterday at Costco I spied one the size of Rhode Island. This monster was equipped with enough room top and bottom to store a whole human should the need arise. Let’s face it, it is getting towards Halloween, and one never knows when such a situation might come up. For a mere $3,100, I could have had that puppy delivered. For a moment, just a blissful moment, I teetered on the brink of contemplating ownership of that bad boy, before gathering my senses and better judgement together and deciding to leave the store without regret. Driving the route towards my house, I kept imagining the glorious abandon of having ample room to store leftovers without having to generate a flow chart and make unfortunate decisions about what container was to be saved, and which ones fate was to be written at the bottom of my kitchen trash bin. When I came home, I rearranged my small freezer for the fourteenth time in two days and reminded myself to find my grateful space and remain in it until I got over it. Still there.

Aside from turning the thermostat from cool to heat, it is also time to switch out my closet from summer clothes to warmer wear. This, I have to say, is a project I detest. “Susie, old girl”, I told myself as I schlepped one plastic bin after another back and forth from the shed to the house, “you have wayyyyyyy too may clothes”. I do love clothes. Can’t lie. I blame my mother for this. If she was standing here and I said that, she wouldn’t even defend the statement. Always, my mother was a fashion plate. Never did I see her disheveled or unkempt. He outfits were coordinated from the tips of her earlobes all the way down to the glistening shine on the nails on her toes. Her hair was styled weekly, and remained in that style until the following week when it was washed and styled again, and cut and colored as needed. My mother’s hair has always been a bit of a “thing” in our family. Literally, it was something to be admired and revered. As if an entity unto itself, we weren’t allowed to touch it or get it wet. Once, at a summer party, my mother accidentally backed into the deep end of my daughter’s pool disappearing under water. When she arose from the dark abyss like Phoenix from the ashes, her “do” was dripping limply in her face. We were all so shocked to see her like that, and yes a bit terrified, nobody moved to help her for a minute until she suggested someone needed to do so. That, shall we say, literally doused that evening’s plans and an emergency appointment had to be secured at the local salon the following day to repair the damage. I see you shaking your heads. Every family has it’s thing that places that seed of dread when mentioned, ours just happens to be my mother’s coiffure. What can I say?

nClothes came in a close second to hair. Mother had work clothes, play clothes, evening clothes, spring clothes, summer clothes, fall clothes, winter clothes, and shoes, oh, the shoes. Once, I counted sixty-five pairs in her closet. That was her all time record as far as I know. They were excellent quality, the lady had taste, and my stepfather I’m sure probably had no idea what the price tag of this stiletto collection actually amounted to. When hats were fashionable, the top of her closet was lined with colorful hat boxes. Inside could be found all manner of head wear, some of the small pillbox variety that perched on top of your head, others larger and covering more cranial space, some had veils, others without, and each was purchased with an outfit hanging somewhere in her closet. When she was gone at work, I would sometimes open the closet door and model some of the lovely creations inside in front of her full length mirror. Later when grown, she told me she knew I was doing this because I never put them back the way she might have, but she thought it was sweet so allowed me to continue. Whew, dodged a bullet there.

Since work is no longer a place I go to every day my work clothes have been donated or handed down to friends, and my closet mainly consists these days of play clothes. I have stacks of jeans, shorts, sweaters, blouses, tee shirts and sweatshirts. It’s rare these days I get dressed up. Where am I going? The Queen hasn’t stopped by for tea in years. People at the market, at least up here in our area, sometimes show up to shop in there pajamas, so a dress code is really not in play around here. It’s not like my social life has been abuzz with activity over the past five years. When Rick and I had the restaurant, I had a whole closet of dresses. We were in the restaurant most nights, so had to look like we were somewhat professional. Those too have disappeared in a bin somewhere with only a few stragglers left in reserve for weddings, funerals, or the occasional big night out.

I remember when I was little I had to get “dressed up” for church. My feet were held in check in the dreaded Mary Janes. Bunnies or ducks adored my ankles on the fold of my crisp white socks, and a hat was sometimes tied under my chin for good measure. Being more of a tomboy than a girlie girl, for me this was tantamount to being tied to a chair and given Chinese water torture. My grandmother never attended church in anything but a dress or a suit. Always there was a hat, usually with a veil pulled over her forehead, to accompany her outfit. A pair of gloves was either in her purse or covering her hands, and over her shoulder, in the winter months at least, was draped her fox stole. I never warmed up to that particular garment, largely because the foxes used to create it were still attached to it. To me it always looked frightening and smelled a little gamey, but to ladies of the time it was quite the deal. Each generation has their nuances, I’m glad that one didn’t slop over on ours down the road.

At any rate, I have managed to switch the closet. Sooooo glad that job is behind me. I took all the extra junk from the shed I didn’t need, and piled it into my car and went to the dump to dispose of it. What a fragrant and messy place that must be to work. All that aroma in one place sort of gets my stomach to turning. I’m not good with strong smells. Even those stores in the mall dedicated to fragrant soaps, perfumes, scented candles, and the like, make me feel like revisiting my lunch. I’ve always known I wouldn’t be the ideal candidate for nursing school or a nursery attendant. I remember when changing my own children’s diapers I had to use one hand, reserving the other one for plugging my nostrils. Ah well, each of us has different things in our makeup to contend with, that is mine.

At least I’m feeling so much lighter for now until, of course, I get new junk to replace that which I threw away. For today, however, I feel light as a feather, at least when it comes to possessions. At this crossroad in my world, I will take the highs when and where I can get therm.

Have a lovely fall day!! Talk soon.

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It’s been a week this week, I have to say. Yesterday morning my IPhone froze up. For over an hour I followed instructions to unfreeze the damnable device producing no change whatsoever in the screen. I can’t be without a phone at the moment, and this one is relatively new. Finally, totally frustrated, I got in the car and drove the twenty or so minutes to the nearest dealer to have them take a look at it. I walked in the door, explained the situation to the clerk at the front desk, handed my device to a kid who looked to be in middle school, and with the flick of one thumb and two fingers “voila” the phone released the screen. Really? The gods are angry.

At least it is at last September. The days are marching forward in a steady rythm towards fall. I cannot tell you how ready I am for autumn, and all that season promises this year. I already have a few fall touches sprinkled about the house by way of a welcome mat for my favorite season. There is a bit of melancholy attached to fall creeping up so quickly. Before long all the beautiful colors decorating the landscape, the pumpkin lattes, and artistically carved jack-o-lanterns grinning on people’s stoops will have come and gone. I am feeling this way as I approach the end of this difficult year, I believe, because I have become weary of saying goodbye.

This has been a stressful couple of years, I have to say. Dale and I have spent a lot of time together the last year and a half, partly due to Covid and partly to the fact he has lung cancer. Though he doesn’t let his prognosis overrun him, with oxygen equipment all around and medicine containers, you can’t help but notice the elephant in the room every day when you wake up. When you think about sharing company with someone dealing with a terminal illness, several adjectives probably immediately come to mind….. depressing, sad, exhausting. Surprisingly there are many other adjectives of a positive nature that apply as well…..tender, compassionate, warm. Don’t misunderstand me, for I don’t want to misrepresent the experience, it can be all the darker adjectives and a bag of chips on some days. However, there is another, perhaps lighter side to it, people don’t often talk about. Along with all the deep emotions involved in losing a loved one, there is also the gift the person dying gives to the people they ask to share their last journey. The sweet gift of allowing someone you love to accompany you on your final days on this plateau. At the beginning of your travels with someone facing such a challenge, you will walk side by side. As the disease progresses, however, you will reach a crossroad. When at the fork in the road, you will continue on to wherever your destiny is to lead you, and the person transitioning will stay on their path to complete the final lap of their trip alone. Dying is an integral part of life. If we looked at death more directly instead of being afraid to say the word out loud or speak of it, perhaps we would be able to approach it with more easily with grace and dignity. Let’s face it, thus far none of us have gotten a hall pass to avoid it, so perhaps it would be better to accept, even embrace it.

Though the situation Dale is currently dealing with tends to pervade our lives, it’s amazing how resilient the human spirit can be. We still find plenty of time to catch a favorite movie, sit outside under the umbrella in the yard and watch the grass grow, and now that we can, spend time with our vaccinated friends and family. I say that not as an arrow directed at the hearts of those who still choose not to get the vaccine, but because Dale is definitely compromised when it comes to health issues. Being around someone who possibly could transmit the virus to him would be unwise. The beginning of the week we had a friend stop by to spend a couple of hours. She texted me not long after she’d left to tell me driving home from her shopping trip, she could see a huge plume of smoke billowing up behind the hills near where we live. As we were speaking, I began to hear planes flying overhead and sirens in the distance. Oh-oh. Sure enough, a fire was brewing and neighborhoods in our general area were being evacuated situated closer to the origin of the blaze. Sometimes it feels like it never rains but it pours. I’d like a rainbow or two thrown in for good measure. I’m just saying. While I was packing up the trunk of the car as a precaution, I thought once again, “the gods really must be angry”.

Maybe there’s some truth to that? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if our creator or creators, however you believe, aren’t particularly pleased with how we’ve been handling ourselves recently. We’re not exactly behaving like kind, compassionate beings. Turn on the news for an hour or so, to remind yourself how true that statement is.

On the good news side of the page, since I wrote the paragraph about a fire brewing, the blaze, thanks to the continuing efforts of firefighters keeping us safe all over the state, has since been contained. Another “whew” moment for us living here in the north state. No structures or lives lost is always a good days work. Continuing with that positive note, I woke up in the middle of the night night before last to the sweet song of rain drumming on the roof. Wow. It has been so long since I’ve heard that, I almost didn’t recognize the sound. Got up the following morning and took a long walk just to grab a lungful of the sweet fresh air outside my window. There really is nothing to compare with the smell of the earth after it has been soaked with a good dose of rain.

This morning, I actually have the windows open in the house. A lovely cross breeze is flowing in through the screens. Between the smoke and my allergies, I haven’t been able to open them in a while. PG&E will undoubtedly be sending us a thank you letter for keeping them afloat with our energy consumption this summer. Yesterday marked the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. Seems as though it was so much more recent than that. For most of us, I’m sure what we were doing the exact moment we got the news of the events unfolding on that day has become permanently etched in our memory banks. I know for me it has. I was at work, standing in the conference room with a large group of co-workers standing in front of the TV. We watched in disbelief as one unreal image after another appeared on the screen. No one spoke really, other than an occasional “oh my, God” or “oh no”. When the realization of what had just happened on U.S. soil sank in, most of us filtered out the doors and went home for the day. There was no point in trying to work with those images fresh in our minds. Driving down the freeway I remember tears sliding down my cheeks. So many lives were instantly changed in those moments. My daughter-in-law, who’s birthday falls on September 11th, said that her birthday was changed forever for her with all the memories attached to it after the Twin Towers fell. I’m sad to say we lost her as well recently due to an unfortunate accident. So, I remembered her as well, and am thankful for the two beautiful grandchildren she left behind for me to share time with.

It is not an easy planet right now. Not that the earth has ever really rested completely comfortably because, in the end, it is a globe populated with human beings replete with all their foibles and missteps. Perhaps 9/11 is a day to remember how much we have to be thankful for, and be reminded in the end we’re all trying to survive as best we can and not as different from one another as it might sometimes appear.

Have a great day. Remember those who bravely went in to help and never came out, those who were in the buildings that fell, and those amazing passengers who brought down the second plane before it could reach the intended target. Bless them all and bless us as we move forward. We are left behind as caretakers of this glorious planet and I believe we need to step up and do a far better job.

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A rapidly moving fire broke out in my old neighborhood several days ago. Many people I know either had to be evacuated, or were at the very least, in danger of having to leave their homes. Though everyone is doing okay, people in the next town over from them are surveying the damage, many returning home to find nothing remaining but ashes. I am feeling very grateful this morning to be down in the valley. A picture popped up on Facebook when the evacuations were in progress, taken by someone located about three miles from Dale’s trailer. Huge plumes of smoke were visible billowing up on the hillside. His trailer is still parked up on the lot he occupied before coming to stay my house. As of this writing, it is still standing, but it was a close call. His direct neighbor, though their house is still in place, can’t return home with their seven animals because all the power lines are down and there is no electricity. Though I’ve never experienced having to live in a war torn country, sometimes these fire ruled summers feel a bit like I might imagine it, though obviously to a far lesser degree.

Though the local fire appears to be under control, we woke up this morning to find the the air full of smoke in our neighborhood. This smoke has blown in from another blaze much farther north of us that is still very active. It used to be I loved the breeze, finding it peaceful to watch the movement of grass on the lawn, or to hear the leaves rustling in the trees. Now, it is a signal of danger, as the brush in California is bone dry, there is no water in our reservoirs, and there are not enough fire personnel to fight these mammoth blazes once they erupt. Again, PG&E’s dirty hands are involved in the fire bringing us the smoke. A tree fell against one of their lines. Everybody is busy poking fingers at everyone else. Each summer it gets a little worse, but what to do?

We are stuck inside so are making the best of it. A technician came this morning to fix our internet connection to our cable. Recently we had to replace a box and it threw everything else out of alignment. Literally, I spent hours climbing around in the snakes nest of cords behind our large flat screen trying to address the problem. One phone tech after another rebooted on their end, walked me through progressive steps on my end, and to no avail. I connected, disconnected, located yellow wires, and red. I should get paid the big bucks and do this for a living. I’m getting pretty good at it. This time, I just couldn’t figure it out. Finally, I threw in the towel and asked them to send somebody out. What a nice guy. I pay a fee every month for maintenance on their equipment. If I didn’t have that connected to my account, I would have had to pay $100 for the privilege of having a repairman on the premises. He performed his magic in about a half an hour and now the TV and internet are working perfectly. I took the time to text a great review when prompted on my phone. When somebody goes above and beyond I think it’s important to acknowledge them.

I’m not the greatest person to watch TV with. Since the day I was born, I seem to have an over abundance of energy. Have to say Covid took care of that situation for about a month leaving me listless and without juice, but my energy level has returned to optimum speed of late. When I sit and stare at a flat screen, I have to be doing something else with my hands. If I don’t occupy myself, it won’t be long before my head is thrown back against the pillow and I’m sucking in air. Just the way it is. My theory is that I burn at such high octane most of the day, when I actually slow down and relax, like my laptop, my body goes into sleep mode. Fortunately, I am able to “power nap” as I call it. When I was working full time I used to sneak in a quick nap during lunch time on occasion. Behind my desk, I kept a small camping mattress. After I’d eaten, I’d close the door to my office, and take a 15 minute siesta. Somehow, I am able to set my internal clock to the time I need, and my mind sends out a wake up call when the elapsed time has passed. Weird, but then a lot of things about me are a little off bubble.

Thinking about plopping down on the floor on an air mattress doesn’t sound that inviting anymore. I prefer my nice soft mattress, and some fluffy pillows. Camping, I believe, though never say never, is intertwined in my past stories, not my future. However, one never knows what new stories you are going to find when you turn the next page. I’m open to new adventures every day. My son and his brood just posted pictures of them parachuting. He asked if I’d be interested in jumping out of a plane next time they go. That would be a negatory. They would have to pry my white knuckled hands off the door handle and knock me out with a baseball bat first. I am planning on zip lining. It is quite near the top of my bucket list. Not as adventurous to some, I would imagine, but it works just nicely for me. Someone asked if I would be interested in zip lining over the Grand Canyon. Um, again, that would be negatory. I don’t have a death wish, but wouldn’t mind injecting a little excitement in my life. Also, I would like to go white water rafting again. My first time was amazing, and I would sign up enthusiastically to experience that rush again.

In my twenties, I went camping regularly. Young bones don’t mind sleeping on the ground as much as older bones do I’ve found. We would pitch a tent, throw a sleeping bag on the ground, and sleep peacefully 8-10 hours. Please. Now, I have the most comfortable mattress in the world, and if I’m lucky enough to log seven hours of sleep on it, I throw a party. One of my favorite places to camp, specifically boat camp, was Cottonwood Cove on the Colorado River. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect setting to be outdoors. Pictures of the area are imprinted in my mind as if I’d stepped on shore there only yesterday. In the morning we would cook over a Coleman stove. There really is nothing to quite equal the aroma of bacon cooking outdoors. The water, that time of day, unless the weather was less than perfect, was pristine. Skiing across it was effortless, with no push back on your feet like you experience in choppy water. It was like skiing over a sheet of glass. That was my favorite time of the day to go.

Usually we set up camp several miles down river from the marina. There wasn’t much out there but gorgeous scenery, scrub brush, and sparkling river water. Being resourceful, and with no facilities where we were, we constructed a makeshift toilet. The toilet was dubbed “Lou” appropriately. Lou was a lawn chair with the webbing on the seat removed. One of the men had cut out an oval in the center of a piece of wood and placed a toilet seat and lid in the hole. Both were attached to the seat of the chair. A small shovel hung from a chain next to one arm. You get the idea. They had even thought of adding a side pocket where a newspaper and puzzle were available for those who like to linger a while after a big meal. Each person dug a hole, did what they needed to do, covered same and moved Lou to a new location. Very efficient.

There were so many sights to see on the Colorado. While visiting I saw owls, mountain goats, wild donkeys, eagles soaring overhead, all manner of lizards and even a snake or two. Midday the heat moved in with intensity. We would either sit in the shade on the bank, or take our lawn chairs into the water and submerge ourselves up to our necks to cool off. Fish would come and nip at the air bubbles on our bathing suits through the webbing on our chairs, which at first was a rather odd sensation. The women never took any makeup. The only cosmetic needed was sunscreen. You definitely needed to lather up. Back then we didn’t have as much knowledge as we do now about the dangers of tanning. I have paid for my years gathering rays with having many pre-cancers removed as time has passed. Hindsight, as they say, is 20-20. Also, if you tended to burn rather than tan you needed to find a place in the shade, because even sunscreen couldn’t fully protect you from a bad sunburn when exposed out there.

One weekend we sank a boat while on the river. The beautiful ski boat, picked up brand new on a Friday night, was gathering moss at the bottom of the river two days later. Thankfully, those of us on board were all safe. There were three boats with us that ill fated weekend. The first day there, the weather was perfect. Waking up the second morning, however, the sky had turned grey. The wind picked up enough so that we had trouble keeping the tent stakes anchored. Deciding to wait it out until the following morning, when we woke up the sky looked positively menacing. Determining the best course of action was to break camp and head back to the marina. The first two boats headed up river before us, while we tore down the remaining campsite and loaded what gear was left behind. The wind had picked up to an alarming pitch and it was becoming difficult to hear one another in between gusts. My daughter, eight at the time, myself, my fiance, two friends and their young daughter, piled into the boat and pushed off. Once out on the water it felt more like being on a rough ocean, than a peaceful stretch of river. The boat rode up and over waves and pitched down the slope on the other side. Still moving forward, we appeared to be making some progress, when the engine swamped. This left us freely floating in the waves. Before long water began to enter the boat over the sides. Seeing things were headed for a bad end, I straddled the bow of the boat with one leg on either side to balance myself, and began waving a white towel I had found under the seat in the air. Amazingly, I wasn’t tossed into the churning water. By this time the people in back seat were submerged up to their underarms. It became obvious without assistance, we were all going to be in the water shortly. The prow of a boat, a cabin cruiser riding so much higher out of the water than our low profile ski boat, suddenly came into view in the distance. By the time they reached us, the people in back seat were fully in the water and the bow of the boat was halfway pointing to vertical. The boat pulled up next to us. I handed off my daughter and the other little girl and was suddenly pitched into the waves. I can remember bobbing up and down like an ear of corn in a boiling pot of water out there. With each resurface, I’d take in more water, and my limbs were starting to get tired. A guitar floated by, belonging to my friend’s husband also in the water. He had had to knock his wife out, as she couldn’t swim, because she panicked and was drowning them both. At one point it seemed I was moving away not toward the rescue boat. Coming up one more time, an oar was being held out in front of me. I grabbed onto it, and at last helpful arms sucked me up out of the water. In the end we were all saved but the boat, which went down like a bag of rocks. All I had with me was the bathing suit and shorts I had on. My purse, my ID, my credit cards, my mother’s engagement ring all went down with the ship, so to speak. When I think of that experience I can’t help but remember those angels on that boat. They were the only ones out there in our area in that storm, and they told me they wouldn’t have known we were there, except they had seen the white towel. Guess it wasn’t our time to go.

Don’t think I’m going to be seeing that kind of excitement today. An eerie red sheen is pouring across my table and the sun looks more like a blood moon. So, I will entertain myself doing things I like to do and close out the outside for now. Have a safe day.

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Growing up in Canada, Fourth of July was significant in our house only in that it was my grandmother’s birthday. July 4th was Independence Day, after all, for the United States of America, not the Canadian provinces. We do, however, celebrate Canada Day on July 1st in much the similar way. It’s a time for Canadians to celebrate their history, achievements, and culture. Since it began in 1867, nearly a hundred years after the U.S. claimed independence, I have a feeling perhaps we looked across the border and saw all the Americans having a helluva party and decided to join in. I’m just sayin. There is no doubt we Canadians enjoy a good party.

In Halifax on Canada Day, just like here, we packed a picnic, grabbed a blanket, and headed for a fireworks display. Often our venue of choice was the Waegwoltic Club, or “The Wag” as we referred to it back then. The name, so I’m told, is derived from a Mi’ kmaw word loosely translated to mean “end of water”. The Mi’kmaw were the dominant tribe in the Maritime provinces. The Wag was, and still is, located on the Northwest Arm of the Halifax harbor a fork which defines the western side of the Halifax Peninsula. My grandparents always held a membership at the club, and as their progeny I reaped the benefits of this membership during my childhood. In the summer months my grandmother would walk me to the bus stop around the corner with a friend or two in tow. When the bus arrived, we would excitedly pile on,locate a seat, and ride the bus to our final stop just outside the gates of The Wag. Many times she would have packed me a picnic lunch which I would eat at one of the many picnic tables provided, but sometimes I was given money to eat at the snack bar in the main clubhouse or to get an ice cream. Thinking of this now, it strikes me how kids don’t have these kind of adventures anymore. Nobody seemed to worry back then about us being abducted, least of all us. It’s not, I’m sure, that there weren’t plenty of bad people to go around in those days, I just think it was there wasn’t as efficient a transport of information such as the Internet to tell us about it, or perhaps times were simply different. In either case, I loved those days of freedom right down to pulling the cord and waiting for the bus doors to release us for a day of swimming and boating on the Arm.

“The Wag”

The Wag was my families usual spot to spend Canada Day. Sitting high on a hill on a blanket laid out on the grass, I would watch in fascination as the fireworks exploded in vivid splashes across the dark sky over our heads. The most impressive display of fireworks I ever witnessed was not above the Atlantic, however, but rather right here in Northern California. When they were youngsters my second husband and I took our three children (two mine, one his) to an Oakland A’s baseball game to celebrate the Fourth. Being California, there was no weather other than good weather to deal with, so the day was perfectly constructed for spending the afternoon outside. The stadium, near the San Francisco Bay, got a welcome ocean breeze to keep the temperature down, so even though we sat high in the more exposed nosebleed seats, we were not uncomfortable. The game was really secondary to everything else going on around us. Though it had been a long day, the children, having had their fill of typical baseball fare, were still wired for sound and raring to go. Between the hot dogs, peanuts and nachos their little stomachs must have been lined with cast iron to still be asking for ice cream when the vendor went by our aisle just before the fireworks began. As night fell, with the game decided, the festivities centered around the holiday began to ramp up. When the show began, we were so far off the ground as the fireworks exploded over our heads it felt almost as if we were part of the blast. For the youngest member of our group, my stepdaughter only “free” as she liked to pronounce with three chubby fingers extended, this was a bit too much. Was it not for the loud bursts overhead, the scream that emanated from that child’s mouth after the first rocket went up, most likely could have been picked up by spy cams in the Kremlin. OMG. In the end we watched the show fading out of view out of the back window of the car exiting the stadium parking lot with two sulking older children and and one sniffling little one. The price of parenthood. Sigh.

This year, though we’re now fully vaccinated and able to mingle with others, we decided to stay home. We binge watched “The Virgin River” series on Neflix most of the day in between filling our faces with leftovers from a dinner party we hosted on Friday night for several friends. There is something absolutely freeing about doing nothing. I didn’t bother to get dressed any further than the boxer shorts and tee shirt I was wearing when I rolled out of bed. My hair, though having had a good brushing along with my teeth (but not with the same utensil) when I first got up, was then left to fend for itself the rest of the day. Generally, I was a lazy no good layabout for the next twelve hours after rising. Loved it. Thankfully, we don’t live in a neighborhood, like many in the area, where people were up at three in the morning setting off fireworks. It’s not just how annoying that is to the people around them, but animals are traumatized by fireworks. My girlfriend’s schnauzer used to live in the cupboard under the sink when the Fourth of July rolled around. They had to medicate him. I love fireworks myself, but when we’re sitting on a tinder box like we are at the moment on the west coast, activities involving fire don’t make me comfortable. Fire crews responded to 1500 calls over the weekend. Wow. They had a busy couple of days.

Seems we are all “busy” all the time. When my kids call, they generally begin the conversation with “Mom, I’m really busy so I have about fifteen minutes before”….. a) a meeting, b) I arrive at whatever destination I am headed to, or c) I am tired of talking and just want to drive along in silence for a few minutes before the fun begins again once I arrive where I am going. Trying to book a weekend with my children is like trying to get reservations at Yosemite for Memorial Day weekend. Calendars are researched, children’s schedules are consulted, it is a major undertaking of epic proportions.

I’m guilty of “doing” constantly myself. Truly, I can’t remember the last time I spent a day pursuing not one thing above and beyond sloth. Doing so Sunday left me with the most peaceful feeling in my head. It felt as if everything I’d been worried about over the past few weeks had either faded considerably or even disappeared all together. I must remember to add to my calendar “Day off” from time to time and honor the writing. I think women suffer more than men from this. Now, now, if you’re male don’t get all upset by this. Statistics indicate women have much to be responsible for. I told a friend the other day it still amazes me I have been married four times and cannot ever remember seeing one of my husbands holding a toilet brush. More is expected of us, and for the most part we are up to the task. As I’ve mentioned before, though in many houses both parents need to work to keep things going, often women are still doing two more hours of housework a day than men. This is changing certainly, but not at warp speed for sure. A woman put up a post on Facebook a while back that said simply, “Can we all now agree that housework is not gender specific?” I’m in.

At the dinner party Friday night we were discussing how expensive things are getting. It’s hard to imagine my mother’s house when I was in high school, a nice, three bedroom, two bath, tract home in a lovely middle class neighborhood, was purchased for $28,000 and change. To add to the mix, it had a huge Olympic sized pool in the back yard. Today in California at least, you couldn’t purchase shares in a garage for that amount of money. I just filled up half of my tank on Saturday, and with the new gas tax just implemented, the receipt totaled $49.74. Now I have a mid-sized sedan I’m driving around in, so I can only imagine what people with SUV’s or trucks are dishing out. Where is all this tax money going one wonders? They say it is for infrastructure, roads, and bridges, etc. They have been saying that for some time. I went down a road the other day in a local park. The ranger at the gate told us it had a few potholes. A more accurate description would have been it had a few flat spots. Good Lord. My kidneys were up under my left ear lobe by the time we got to the bottom.

Last week when I went to Costco I could not believe how pricey meat has gotten. A package of short ribs was selling for nearly $50. Whoa. I half expected to see a guy in a trenchcoat waiting by the curb as we exited the building selling a little black market beef on the side. Thought of doing it myself. No wonder people aren’t getting enough to eat. I was distressed to hear a news commentator talking about food insecurity in this country. So many little ones going to bed with grumbling stomachs. I have volunteered at the local food bank since I moved to this area. You think your neighborhood is immune to this because there are nice houses and well manicured lawns, but food insecurity is a serious and real problem in the U.S. At any rate, I hope we all do what we can to help when we can. I had to use a food distribution place once while living in Washington. I remember the humiliating feeling of standing in line for a handout, and I also remember how kind the lady handing me the free box of food was, and how relieved I was to have it. I asked what I could do to pay them back, and she said simply “pay it forward”. Words to live by.

Hope you had a safe and sane Fourth and got to hug a few family and friends this year. Something to be doubly thankful for.

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This is such an odd time for me. I’m finding it difficult to concentrate in the little things because of the heavier issues dominating my life at the moment. This morning I put a spoonful of coconut sugar in the bottom of my coffee mug as I always do, then reached in the refrigerator for the creamer and filled my cup to the brim. Taking that first sip of the day, my tastebuds quickly sent out an alert “911 no caffeine detected”. Duh.

Had to make a Costco run early on. I try to get there before the rest of the crush of humanity with the same idea in mind shows up. I believe one would have to arrive when the store is closed in order to find the parking lot uncrowded. People were already waiting outside at ten minutes before the store was due to open. I found myself squeezed in the middle of a small crowd, poised expectantly, with my hands curled over the bar of my shopping cart. I resisted the urge to shuffle my feet and whinny. When they opened the doors everyone surged forward. Suddenly, it felt like I was running with the bulls at Pamplona. I flashed my membership card as I was propelled by the employee checking them at the door. What a zoo. It’s usually bad, but usually not that bad. I assume it was because this weekend is a holiday. I love shopping at Costco. It’s sort of like a massive toy store for adults. They don’t really have toy stores anymore, or I haven’t seen one since Toys R Us bit the dust. As a kid, toy stores were a big deal for me. Rows of dolls, skates, bikes, and games. Loved it. My mom would give me my allowance every week. What I didn’t spend on candy and junk, went into my piggy bank. When I’d amassed enough cold hard cash to put toward something I coveted, my mom would pitch in the rest and we would head to the toy store to pick out a treat. For me, it was dolls all the way. I played with dolls until the summer between seventh and eighth grade. I probably would have continued to this day, except my best friend and I were playing with Barbies on the back porch when two neighbor boys heard us interacting and called us babies in front of a group of kids. Secretly, I still took the old girl out of her case from time to time until I got into high school when Ken was replaced by an actual live replica.

Today wasn’t a big shopping day. I don’t buy a lot at Costco anymore, because you have to buy in such huge amounts. With just two of us eating here on a normal day, twelve pounds of cheddar cheese really isn’t a practical purchase. I’ve been using the same olive oil I bought at Costco since 2001, and I’m finally down to the last bottle. I was delighted to find the familiar free food stands were back in business inside. I used to make lunch out of it while cruising up and down the aisles. Food has really gone up since the pandemic. There was a package of short ribs I picked up that had a label reading $47.52. Wow. Maybe beef will end up being a true luxury down the road. Cows seem to be trouble in a lot of venues lately. I understand their burping and manure are largely contributing to the global warming situation by creating an over abundance of methane gas. Hard to believe our planet could be poised in a downhill spiral due to cattle flatulence. I didn’t see that one coming, and don’t remember finding any reference to it in Revelations.

Surveying the rest of the meat counter, hamburger prices looked more like roast prices used to. I came across a package of impossible burgers. Reminded me of my oldest granddaughter, a fervent vegan. Nothing that has a parent crosses her lips. She has been trying to get me to embrace these impossible burgers . The few times I’ve tried these burger wantabes, I can’t say they’ve satisfied my need for beef. However, over the weekend Dale and I and several friends drove up to Truckee for lunch. Truckee is a touristy town outside of Lake Tahoe. While there, we had lunch at an old restaurant up on the hill offering up a gorgeous view of the town and the valley below from their deck. Their menu, though including meat items, really leans toward vegetarian. I had eggs Benedict, for instance, and the Hollandaise was made with truffles and served over arugula on an English muffin. It was delicious, but not the standard presentation for that menu item in my experience. Dale ordered the impossible burger. When it arrived, it looked a bit like it had been baked in a crematorium. Totally charred on the outside, we all kind of watched as he took his first bite, assuming it would send it back. Surprise, surprise he loved it. Apparently, they had added black beans and garlic to amp up the taste. Before long only a few ashy remains were left on his plate.

Already I do a lot of meatless meals, such as pasta, salads, and eggs. Eggs are another red flag for me when it comes to a vegan lifestyle, eggs are not included. Can’t do it. I have yet to meet an egg I didn’t like. Again, I don’t buy my eggs at Costco because a) you have to chance hypothermia in the refrigeration room to get eggs, and b) you have to buy a flat. If I brought all those eggs home, they would be the only thing other than the condiments in the door that would fit in there.

By the time I got back to the car and opened my trunk there were five cars lined up waiting to grab my spot. I got Dale situated, then began to load the groceries. One lady kept putting her hands up in the air. What? They didn’t put things in bags and they were out of boxes, so I had to load them in groups of as many as I could carry. I wanted to say, “Lady, If you want to use those hands in a more constructive way, step out of your vehicle and help me”. I’m just sayin. Dale isn’t able to do as much these days, so a lot of the loading/unloading falls to me. I’m not complaining at all, it’s certainly not his fault. I’m just stating a fact.

Dale is on oxygen 24/7. This is not a new experience for me, Rick was also on oxygen, but it is for him. He doesn’t like it. I don’t like it either. Didn’t like it back then, and it hasn’t grown on me any more since that time. They brought the tanks in after our ER visit on Memorial Day. The tech showed up with all this equipment after we arrived home. It was after seven in the evening, we hadn’t eaten, and were both brain dead. Dale, because he’s been prodded and probed, all day, and me because I just spent nine hours trying to find a comfortable spot in the chairs they provide for visitors in hospitals. The tech, who completely understands the workings of the tanks and compressor, gave us a quick run through on how we’re going to operate all this intricate equipment after he leaves. Hello? The following morning, of course, neither of could remember one word he said. Dumb and Dumber, the Sequel. Soooooo, I had to call them and have them resend a tech to give us a refresher course. They said this is totally common, particularly if their clients have just left a hospital environment. K. Even after a month we still screw up. Yesterday, we took two tanks with us as backups only to find out neither were filled. Sigh. You’d think I’d remember all this from before, but I think I’d effectively erased that part of my memory bank.

Huh?

At any rate, we returned home unbeaten and unscathed. Yay. Each day is a gift. You have to find joy where you can and refer to happy times often to refill your tanks.

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I went out to dinner with friends last night for the first time since the pandemic arrived on the scene. It felt both weird and wonderful to be sitting at a booth inside a restaurant without anything covering my face.

Our waitress, Gayelle, though friendly and sweet, was definitely in the wrong line of work. Always I give servers the benefit of the doubt. Having owned a restaurant I understand fully how a day can go downhill quickly with food issues, demanding customers, or even something brought in going on at home. To be fair, two of the four of us at the table were previously involved in the restaurant business, so perhaps we viewed her performance with more critical eyes. Let me begin by saying this is a brewery and restaurant. They offer good food, a fun atmosphere, and it is very popular with the locals. The atmosphere is casual, not a place you would expect to be handed leather bound menus. That being said, when we were given four double sided pieces of paper it was fine, except for the fact two of them had huge red stains across them and one had a big chunk of food stuck to the stain. Not fine. Ewwww.

After reviewing their fairly limited menu, we made our choices. The menu selections were basically a burger, a couple of steak options, salads, a variety of street tacos, which they are known for, fish and chips, and the catch of the day. Three of us wanted the tacos and one, the lone male in the pride, was going for a rib eye. Easy peasey. Back with our drinks, Gayelle took out her order pad. Pen poised, she asked what we would like. My friend seated across from me wanted to know what the fish of the day was. It was cod. “Cod sounds perfect”, said my friend to which Gayelle replied, “sorry we are out of fish”. Out of fish? How could they be out of fish? It was barely after 5:00 and fish was easily the main ingredient in 50% of their menu choices. Do you think perhaps this information should have been the first information we were given when being handed our menus? With three of us already on board the fishing boat headed out of the harbor, we needed a moment to regroup. I suggested she defer to our red meat friend while we figured out something else to order. After the rib eye guy placed his order, she told him they were also out of steak. Really? I suggested we’d better narrow the field down to what they actually did have in the kitchen, or we could well be there all night. Four burgers it was.

After we ate our burgers, which were delicious, we relaxed for a bit. When we were ready to call it a day, we realized we had not seen our waitress since Reagan was in office. After about ten minutes and no Gayelle in sight, we flagged down another server and asked if she could send Gayelle to our table please. Shortly, she appeared at the table with the check already tabulated, never asking us if we’d like either dessert or coffee. Hmmmmm. Serving 101 training definitely needed here. Servers are generally taught to upsell appetizers, desserts, or specialty drinks. It’s part of being a good “salesperson” for your establishment. When we asked what the dessert selections were, she said we could find them on their website. Check please.

Now, I am not a difficult customer. I do have friends who, though not so much difficult, can be perhaps a tad annoying. If a server is busy, dealing with this type of customer can be absolutely mind rattling. We all l have that one friend who can never make up her mind what to have when out to eat. After reviewing the menu for a half an hour this person will then take a poll at the table to find out what everyone else is ordering. When the actual ordering has begun she will begin interrogating the server as to how each menu item is prepared. “Is it fresh? Is it cooked in oil or butter?” Ecetera, ecetera. Next, when she finally lands on a selection, she orders what she’s chosen, changes her mind, then changes her mind again, and in the end goes back to her original choice. Please.

I have another friend who I call the substitution queen. In line at McDonald’s she will order a 1/4 pounder with no cheese, no onions, hold the meat, no sesame seeds on the bun, sauce on the side, lettuce on the side, sweet pickles not dill. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat cooling my heels in one of their parking lots with a cone on my car because of her. Usually, they make us wait quite a while for our food. I believe, though I cannot prove it, this is a form of extracting punishment for high crimes against their employees.

Another thing that is annoying on the other side, is when you get in line at a fast food place and tell the speaker what you want. Clearly you say, ‘I would like an iced tea, unsweetened, no lemon.” This is repeated back to you for clarity and appears on the screen in front of you. You get up to the window and you are handed a sweetened iced tea with a lemon wedge floating in it. Happens to me all the time. My daughter will not leave a fast food restaurant without examining the bag fully before pulling away from the window. She has bad fast food karma. Invariably it will be her order that is not in the bag once we get home. Whatever she did in a former life she is doing penance for must have involved a food vendor.

In truth, I’m not much of a fast food foodie. I value my arteries and prefer fresher fare. However, every once and a while I simply have to have an In ‘n Out burger and fries. I’ve been going there since I was in high school. One of my first steady boyfriends worked at the local In ‘n Out. At that time it was just a small family run affair. The building itself was a rectangular shack-like structure with windows on both sides and one in the front. You could either order on speaker through the drive-thru or walk up to the window at the front of the building. Once you got your food, there were picnic tables to sit it at or you could eat in your car. Nothing fancy and certainly not the long lines you see there now. Of all the burger joints in all of the world, I believe it is still my favorite.

I have had lots of interesting things happen to me while eating out. In the 80’s I went to lunch with a group co-workers. There were ten or twelve of us in the party celebrating somebody’s birthday. We were seated at a group of square tables pushed together to make one long rectangular one. I was in the queen’s seat at the head of the table. Back then, everybody automatically was served water without having to ask for it. Our waitress, as luck would have it, was enduring her first week on the job. Learning to carry heavy trays is a bit of an art. Some waitresses can carry in their arms or on a tray nearly a full table of dishes laden with food. Not every one, of course. That day the test for this girl was if she could carry all our full water glasses with ice to the table on a tray and distribute them without spilling. The answer here is b) she could not. She stood next to me with a full tray and removed the one on her end apparently the one glass keeping the other ten or so balanced. Like penguins sliding into a pool, each glass marched down the tray and one by one unloaded into my lap. The maitre d rushed over to me apologizing. They offered to pay for dry cleaning, but it was water so there really wasn’t any harm done to my clothes. The only damage was the walk of shame on my part when leaving the restaurant. My shoes had absorbed so much liquid, when I took a step, bubbles foamed up out of the leather. To add to the humiliation, the back my dress looked as if I’d relieved myself during the meal without benefit of visiting the bathroom. They did pay for my lunch, and I let them.

Another time, my children’s dad and I were in an IHOP when my kids were little. They used to serve coffee in those thermos bottles back then to keep it hot, hot. My son was around six. Sitting still definitely wasn’t his strongest suit. Wriggling and fussing while waiting for his breakfast to arrive, he managed to knock over the carafe which bounced off the table and landed upside down and open in my husband’s lap. The liquid was so hot, my husband’s leg jerked up in reaction and his shoe went flying into the air landing in the gentleman’s pancakes across the aisle from us. Sorry. My husband ended up in the ER with second degree burns in his nether regions. Ouch. In that case we bought that man his pancakes.

Life is an interesting place to inhabit. Always something new to see and do. Fun to feel a little normal again, or as normal as I get.

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Last night I found my eyes open around 2:30. Willing them shut, I laid on one side, then I laid on the other. Pause, and repeat. Deciding to try my back as a last resort, this precipitated a tug of war with the cat over my pillow. Finally, I ran the white flag up the flagpole about 3:00 and with no sleep in sight, turned on the light. There really isn’t a long list of things needed doing at this time of night, so I picked up the remote and switched the TV on. How is it, one wonders, I can have 500+ available channels at my disposal, and I can’t find one I want to watch? If the regular television fare doesn’t catch my eye, I can always switch to my fire stick and open up a whole new batch of viewing possibilities with the push of a button. Yet, I couldn’t find one thing making me want to stop at the title and look any further. Sigh. Finally, I hit on the latest version of Jane Eyre. I do love the classics, in particular period pieces. The story of the governess and the lord of the manor, of love lost and love found, always haunts me in the telling of it. Plumping up the pillows, I settled in with Boo to once again lose myself in Bronte’s bewitching tale. Imagine writing a piece so timeless. First published in 1847, it has been made and remade over the years and still holds me captive to this day in it’s spell.

Aside from dark gothic tales, I also enjoy a good comedy. Where have all the really funny comedies disappeared to I wonder? If they are out there I can’t find them. I find I have to go back decades to dig one up that really makes me LOL. Maybe it is that the great comediennes capable of producing audible belly laughs in their audiences are gone? John Carrey, Robin Williams, Gilda Radner, Madeline Kahn, to name but a few. I have watched a couple of Madeline Kahn favorites during the pandemic dark days. Those days when there wasn’t much to do but stay home and watch my roots grow out. Always I enjoy Young Frankenstein, but one of my favorites wis “What’s Up Doc” also notably starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. When I catch some of the older titles from Goldie Hawn’s hayday, “Seems Like Old Times” or “Foul Play” I tape them to watch on days where my chin is dragging more so than usual. Tom Hanks did some great flicks too. The first time I saw “Money Pit” my ribs hurt from laughing all the way through it.

I’m feeling a bit like a duck out of water of late. Even though I have both vaccinations circulating through my body I haven’t totally picked up the pace I had before the pandemic swept in and changed our lives. Is it possible I’m looking for a little escape with my remote, when instead I should be beginning to rebuild the bricks of my life and resume actually living it again? Likely so. I still haven’t gone out to lunch with friends, which is on my calendar for next week, but I am taking a trip to visit my son in May. This will be my first real push on the accelerator in over a year. Yay. It is always an adventure visiting their house. They have a combined family, including five children between the ages of eleven and twenty. As one might imagine, there are not a lot of quiet moments under that roof. This is probably just the accelerant I need to get my motor fired up again.

My mind keeps telling me “baby steps, girl”. I have to remind myself when I lose patience with me, I do not need to run out and climb Mt. Shasta before the weekend in order to getting myself back on track again. “Ease into it slowly”, my innermost guide encourages, but never been a baby step person, this is a learning curve for me. I’ve always climbed in the pot, then turned the temperature up to boil, and waited to see what happened. In truth, I would love to find myself prone on a beach towel on a lovely white sand beach somewhere gloriously tropical with a drink with an umbrella sitting next to me smelling like coconut sun tan lotion. That, would be the space that would soothe my soul. Since that is not happening, either today or in the near future, I need to find something else to lift my spirits up.

One thing not perking my spirits up is that extremely annoying woman telling me my car warranty has run out, who calls endlessly on my phone. I block one number and she calls on a new one. One more of those and my phone is going to end up at the bottom of the commode with bubbles floating out of it. Will they not stop!! Why are these robo callers not regulated better? Yesterday, I got two warranty calls which were then trumped by a third call saying my Social Security account had been hacked. This morning, an email came through informing me my Amazon account had been compromised and closed. Neither, of course, which is true. Sigh. A reporter on the local news was talking this morning about scams involving unemployment as well as the recent stimulus payments, in particular targeting older citizens. People with no conscience apparently are willing to prey on vulnerable or defenseless people under any circumstance, no matter how dire. Sad. No wonder I’m looking for a good comedy.

I would retire from the human race and run with a band of orangutans (I don’t know why, I just love them) was it not for the stories on the opposite side of the pole relating acts of kindness and extreme generosity performed by people in our society not just looking out for their own interests. These types of stories serve to remind me for as many low-life bottom feeders as there are wandering the globe, the scales are still balanced by genuinely kind and good hearted beings on the opposite side. Hope, as they say, springs eternal. I saw a story yesterday about a dog who was abandoned by his owner. The animal was left on his front porch with no food or water to fend for himself. Disgusting. Then, he was found, taken in, and adopted by a family who were so excited to have him since their family dog had recently died and the children devastated. In an instant, the bad story flipped like a pancake on the griddle, into a good story making me abandon my orangutan escape plan for another time. I am, however, holding on it to it in case I need to pull that card further down the road.

Today I am planting vegetables in my garden. Thankfully, the wind has died down for a day or two allowing me a window of opportunity to get out and dig in the soil. The sun will give me a little endorphin rush as well as, hopefully, amping up my Vitamin D supply which, along with many others trapped inside for so long, seems to be sadly diminished. There is something about working with plants and dirt that boosts my spirits and makes me whole again. Perhaps it is that we come from dirt and to dirt we return, to get a bit Biblical or that it’s just a visceral experience. Whatever the case may be, I am doing it, albeit a bit late this year. One thing good about this yard, as opposed to the yard in my previous residence, is that it is fenced. Most critters, other than an occasional squirrel or a wandering cat, don’t bother my plants.

When I was living in West Virginia around 1990-93, I had a huge garden. We rented a lovely house while there with a large yard and a planting area already cultivated when we moved in. Sticks with seed packets lined up in the neat rows that first spring after we planted, and a bumper crop of okra (for my husband), cucumbers, all manner of peppers, zucchini and tall rows of the sweetest corn could be seen before summer stole the show. West Virginia, in spite of what some might think, is a beautiful state to live in. “The Mountain State” boasts verdant pasture lands, and as it’s name would imply there is not a shortage of mountainous terrain across the state. The Appalachian Mountains are the dominant range in the territory, with three or four lesser mountains joining them for company. West Virginia holds the distinction of having more mountainous areas than any other state in the union. My ex-husband and I spent many weekends exploring the state, actually getting married the first year we moved there. Part of the Bible Belt, West Virginians take their religion seriously. When we applied for our marriage license and tried to find a place for the ceremony, it became quickly clear finding a church to marry us we were not affiliated with was going to be a sticky situation. Not wanting something more impersonal like a justice of the peace, we finally located a church run by recovering addicts and alcoholics willing to have a service for us. They were the loveliest group of people. I can imagine there were some serious demons being fought under that roof, but all in all, they welcomed us into the fold. We had to attend three services in a row in order to be able to get married, so we showed up that first Sunday and the two following. The man sitting next to me was wearing a bandana on his head and wore a Grateful Dead tee-shirt. That being said, he was very friendly and sang loudly during the hymns, returning all the responses to the minister as she gave the prompts. Interestingly enough, the church musical accompaniment was a rock band who performed at local bars and events. The six members included a keyboardist, a long haired rocker on electric guitar, and a drummer who looked disturbingly like Meat Loaf, the singer not the Sunday dinner variety. It was an experience I had never had during church services before that day, nor have I replicated since. The couple who would be standing up for us were Southern Baptist. I believe this was more than a stretch for their religious upbringing, but they did it with good hearts and tried not to wince when the band began to play Stairway to Heaven immediately following the vows. All in all, it was a lovely service with many of the church members joining us afterwards at the reception.

Often I think about my times in St. Albans. I saw my first firefly there. While washing dishes, I looked out my window into my back yard to see the entire fence along the periphery of my yard resplendent with blinking insects doing their mating dance. I do wish sometimes we had them here, but at least I shared their experience for a time.

Life is one block piled atop the next. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see beyond the state line. Each state I’ve made my home in has left something of it’s culture and people with me.

TGIF!!! Stay safe.

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Do you ever wish Mother Nature would add a couple of new vegetables and maybe some new protein options to the old menu? Sometimes I sit during the day going over the ingredients at hand for dinner, and long for a new taste or flavor to add to the pot. Perhaps it is just me. At times, as much as I like to cook, and God knows I love to eat, I do get tired of my own cooking.


On Easter, we decided to have rack if lamb. I know a lot of people choose ham for Easter, but neither of us are really ham people. Growing up there was always a ham on the side table at Easter. A glistening hunk of cured pork studded with cloves and adorned with golden rings of pineapple. It always looked so pretty, but I never really cared for the taste. Later in life, my mother always got a honey baked ham over the holidays, but for me turkey was always the star of the show in November and December.

So, having made the decision that lamb it was, and lamb it shall be, we went to Costco and perused the meat shelves looking for the perfect rack. Odd statement, but I shall leave it untouched. At any rate, the first thing I noticed was how much meat prices have soared. Amazing. Chuck roast, the red headed stepchild of ribeye, sirloin, and prime rib cuts, now costs as much or more than the higher priced cuts used to sell for. At the end of one shelf we located huge racks of lamb with price tags running anywhere from $17.00-$24.00. What? Sign me up for that. The last time I purchased a rack of lamb it was more in the $42.00-$47.00 range. Selecting a lovely large rack, and thinking to myself “my Grandma, what big ribs you have”, I tossed it in the cart. Feeling as high as if we’d just successfully knocked off an armored car and gotten away with a large bag of cash, we checked out our purchases and headed for home. SCORE!!! Once home, while putting our refrigerated items away I noticed the tag on the rack read “Rack of Pork”. “Ruh-roh”, to quote Scooby Doo. What the heck is a rack of pork? I’ve walked a few miles on this planet, and I have never heard of this cut before. I mean, it makes sense, piggies have a rib cage, I’ve just never seen it in the meat section anywhere. Setting the package on the counter, we circled it for a bit, like surveying an alien life form emerging from a pod on your front lawn. I don’t have personal knowledge of how this would look, but I can imagine what I’d be doing if one touched down. What do I do with this? As is my answer to every question plaguing me of late, I sat down at my laptop, keyed in “rack of pork recipes” and waited for the magic to begin. I’ve cooked enough to know a poorly constructed recipe from one that sounds promising, so after looking at four or five, I selected one I thought would work, and hit “print”. Yay. What the end result might be, I had not one single clue, but I was up to the challenge.

On Easter Sunday, I made a rub loosely constructed from the recipe I’d selected. I rubbed the rack liberally with Dijon mustard and applied the rub I’d prepared all over all. Whether it would taste good, was still up for debate, but it was looking mighty pretty as I popped it in the oven. Peering at it through the window at the size of the rack, made me think of the littlest member of our clan, Zeppelin, presently wandering through the maze of his two’s. Dinosaurs have caught his attention, and was he standing next to me in my kitchen, I would have told him this was a Brontosaurus roast we were preparing for our Easter feast.

When my kids were little we didn’t see a lot of whole meat cross our table. We made up for this lack in our diet, by regularly attending what we called “whole meat Sunday’s” at my mothers. At the time I was a single mother with two children to provide for, my budget often didn’t allow for expensive cuts of meat. I did my best to get creative with ground meat, chops, and chicken, and pasta was often served, but mum most weeks had whole meat as the main dish for Sunday dinner, and we weren’t shy about taking our place at her table.

When the rack of pork was done, I served it with roasted potatoes, garlicky cooked spinach, and baked apples. It was sooooo good, I cannot tell you. Each rib or chop was huge. I couldn’t eat a whole one by myself, but Dale polished his off leaving only the bone to be disposed of. Yay. Since then I have reheated one third of the frozen leftovers and we have two more meals to do away with. If you ever see this cut and are interested in trying it, I highly recommend it.

So my thoughts for this Monday as a new week unfolds. No matter where you are in life something new always turns up to show you there is much more to explore and many things for your eyes to behold. What an adventure this world is. You never know what’s going to pop up when you least expect it. Have a great day and keep your options open for a new door to peek in through.

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What a picture perfect day it is here in Northern California. I would be celebrating the glorious spring weather was it not for the wind rustling through the freshly sprouted tree leaves, distributing a fine layer of dusty golden pollen now covering my freshly washed car. I am an allergy sufferer, so each spring I pay the price for enjoying all the lovely early blooms popping up in my garden, and reveling in the happy dance of the bees hovering over my azalea bush. Last year I went in for a series of skin tests to narrow down what, in fact, was triggering the endless bouts of sneezing and perpetual drip, drip, drip of my nasal passages when April and May roll around on the calendar. When the results were in, it would appear I have checked all the boxes. Cats, check, dogs, check, mold, check, trees, hay, check. Check, check, check and on and on.

The doctor’s first suggestion, one which I have already implemented, was to use air purifiers. I put one in the living room, and the other one is happily humming away in my bedroom. Unfortunately, a full-nature model covering the planet at large isn’t available on the market as yet, so this only alters the indoor environment. Also, he told me to be sure my heater/AC vents are properly dusted, and to replace the filters often. Vacuuming and dusting regularly will help as well, something I already do, and keeping the cat outdoors if possible. Done, done and, um, not done. These suggestions have been a big help, up to to the outdoor cat situation, which simply which isn’t doable. Noticing I ignored the outdoor cat invitation, my doctor took a different tack, this time pointing a finger directly at my cat. He felt it would be better if Boo slept somewhere other than my bed and if I wished to keep a pet, I should keep her out of the bedroom entirely. Right, Dr. M., you tell Boo. She’s pretty sure that’s where she is going to be. As for me, I’m not comfortable sleeping with both doors shut to my room, nor am I inclined to get up twenty times in the wee hours to remove a reluctant feline from the bed. I’m already up three times for other reasons, if you get my drift. I mentioned casually to Boo she might consider using the lovely fleece lined cat bed I purchased for her last winter. I can’t be certain but I’m pretty sure the extended paw I got in response had only one middle claw pointed upward for emphasis. Let’s say I was getting a lot of cattitude. In her defense, this is a standard of behavior we have established over some thirteen years, and neither of us is looking to change it any time soon. The third choice he gave me, which I liked the best of the three, was for me to begin a series of allergy shots. Apparently, these shots can prove very effective in lowering a persons allergic response to irritants. That is, of course, unless I prove allergic to shots, which isn’t entirely off the table. Where do I sign up? I start in two weeks. Have to wait until the Covid shot effects are completely out of my body. So, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, will continue to sleep on the pillow next to me in my new bed, and I will continue to regale her with her much needed belly rubs and brush her eternally molting coat. Life is good.

Aside from the allergies, I have asthma. Essentially I signed up for the whole litter of the breathing spectrum kiddies. I went to pick up my inhaler the other day, my first refill of 2021. $285 lighter, I received my teeny tiny small bag from the pharmacy clerk for my donation and went out in my car to weep in private. My deductible allows for one whopping price tag at the beginning of the year, and this was the one for 2021. Don’t get me started on drug prices. I pay a small fortune for health insurance to fill in the gaps that Medicare doesn’t pay. On top of that, I pay a prescription drug plan costing another third of a Hamilton to cover my medication, and yet still lay out $285 for an inhaler. It is not like this is a face cream where I have a choice on which one I select, or the option to not to select one at all. I need my inhaler to breathe. What do people do who do not have $285 to lay down on the counter? Gets my Irish up.

As I said one can choose or not choose how much to pay for beauty products. My mother, for example, always did her shopping at the Lancome counter at Nordstrom’s. If we were shopping of a day we’d often drop by to pick up her latest batch of high priced beauty products as well as the little gift bag usually handed to her by the copiously fragrant and perfectly put together sales girl at the end of her hefty purchase. You can tell you are in the high rent section of a store when you get a gift bag for buying something at the counter. In my case, I generally get my beauty products at the local drugs store where they charge you $ .10 if you wish to have a bag for your items, and it is plastic not pink or lilac, and doesn’t come with a little fabric tie. What I’m saying here is I could live nicely without any beauty products, though undoubtedly I would live alone, but an inhaler isn’t an opt in or opt out kind of decision I can make. The drug companies have us backed in a corner and they know it. It’s like the oil companies. Unless everyone is going to run out and purchase a Tesla, we are going to continue to have to pay whatever the price is at the pump that the traffic will bear. It would make me nervous I think to have an all electric car. What if you’re driving in the middle of the desert and you can’t find a place to recharge? A bad memory I have is going over the grapevine once in the dead of winter across snow packed highways. I had borrowed a friend’s diesel Mercedes to make the trip as my car was in the shop. At the time diesel wasn’t sold as readily as it is now and I found myself on a steep grade late at night with the gas gauge needle pointed directly at E. Thankfully, a huge amount of commercial trucks travel that particular route so I located a station with a diesel pump before I had to pull over to the side of the road and wait for my extremities to begin to go numb.

Well there’s my hump day hump. I’m done now. Thank you for allowing me to vent. I hope your week is without frustration and running as quietly as a Tesla on a deserted country road (hopefully with a recharge station). Talk soon. Stay safe.

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I slept in my new bed for the first time last night. Funny how change effects you more as you age, or that is the case for me. There I was comfortably tucked away on my brand spanking new mattress, and I was wide awake every half hour counting the pock holes in the ceiling. My old mattress, like a pair of well-loved old jeans, had conformed exactly to my shape. This one is still factory fresh, and a bit stiff. When I got my couch a few years back, I went through a similar transition. Rick and I had a double recliner couch which was extremely comfortable. When I moved into this house, a much smaller space, I realized trying to fit that large piece of furniture into my new living room was not doable. It would have been like trying to shove a hot dog into a drinking straw. Stuff was going to ooze out one end or the other. So, I sold the recliners and bought a lovely hide a bed couch and scheduled a delivery one week after I moved in. Once the van arrived and the sofa was in place, I knew I’d made a good choice. When the delivery men left, I poured cup of coffee and went into the living room to take a test drive on my new purchase. The couch pillows were packed so tightly, when I sat down the spring back nearly catapulted across the room. I called the store I’d bought it from. Explaining the problem to the salesperson, she said I needed to give it a month or two to settle in. Also, I was told a hide a bed will feel a bit tighter because of the extra interior space taken up by the bed and mattress. The woman went on to ask if I was a small person. When I told her I was, she actually suggested I invite some heavy set people over to sit on it to help loosen it up. Really? Are you kidding me? How do I word that invitation exactly, or do I simply run an ad? Anyhow, sure enough, it did indeed loosen up, and now is very comfortable to sit on. The cat too is going through an adjustment period with the bed. In the middle of the night I caught her walking across the blanket so gingerly you’d have thought she was traversing a field of cut glass rather than a cotton comforter.

I was far more resilient when was younger. Back then, I could throw a sleeping bag on the hard ground, hop in it, and zip, zip, zip enjoy 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep. For three months when living in our house in the Santa Cruz mountains, my ex-husband and I slept on an old blow up mattress on our living room floor. The outside of the mattress was really more a patchwork quilt of duct tape and patches then it was plastic. As holes popped up, we applied another bandaid, until the original dark blue color was nearly obliterated. Each night we pump, pump, pumped it up, and each night by around 3:30 all the air would have escaped through one slow leak or another leaving us sprawled on the hardwood floor. When we finally did bite the bullet and purchase a bedroom set, it took me three weeks to once again acclimate myself to sleeping on a soft surface.

Now, let me say I don’t mind sleeping on an inflatable mattress for short periods of time. For those of you having slept on them, though not uncomfortable, they can sometimes be a bit tricky to navigate. Rick and I slept on one at a friends house some years back. I got up to make my usual pilgrimage to the loo in the wee hours (no pun intended). Slipping back into bed, my weight apparently created a sort of air tsunami raising Rick up on the crest of a plastic wave then propelling him into a rather unnatural looking back flip over the top of the bed. Once I determined he was unhurt, I giggled myself back to sleep. He, I have to say, was less than amused.

Another bed requiring a learning curve was the waterbed. I had one for nearly a decade. Amazingly, they still have these floating around (if you will). I would imagine they are far improved from the large water balloons we originally slept on. One thing I can tell you for sure, water beds and cats are not a working combination. When I had my bed, there were three cats in residence at my house. Actually there were two dogs, three cats, two hamsters, and a maniacal rabbit. My husband at the time traveled about two thirds of our married life. His rules were simple, no animals on the bed ever. When he was away I often bent that rule a bit. Kitty, the matriarch of our cat family, enjoyed a little human companionship from time to time and I didn’t mind sharing space with her as long as she stayed on her side of the bed and didn’t snore. This particular night was humid and hot. I was wearing a diaphanous nightgown suitable for the hot weather. In the middle of the night I had a vivid dream. In the dream I was floating weightlessly in the warm waters of a hot spring. It was such a glorious feeling, so light and warm, until my subconscious was interrupted by a harsh “meow”. Reluctantly opening my eyes, I realized quickly the cat and I were submerged like two shipwrecked sailors in a huge puddle created undoubtedly by the cat kneading on my bed. Good lord. What a mess that was. I was up before the roosters siphoning water into the backyard and blow drying my soaked feline. That was to be my last water bed. I do have to admit, looking back, they were lovely to sleep on.

What I do find interesting is here I am now able to luxuriate in bed of a morning. Finally I can sleep as long as I choose with no annoying alarm to pull me out of my sleep, and what do I do? I find myself wide awake at 2:00 a.m. thinking about making a meatloaf or knitting socks for the soldiers. For years, I ritualistically set the alarm for 4:30 a.m. in order to get to work on time. I always left ten minutes of wiggle room to hit the snooze button before dragging my tired behind out from under the warm covers. Sometimes there is no justice. I’m just sayin.

So, on that note I will head outside to do some planting. I ordered some live plants through the mail. Interesting that. I got a box that looked like it would house a large microwave. Opening it, there were two diminutive boxes toward the bottom each holding one tiny plant. K. Anyhow, I shall plant them and hope they do better than the last one I purchased by mail guaranteed to cascade over the top of my deck planter. Not. It never bloomed, never grew, there was never a single cascade or additional leaf produced, ever. I called the company after a month to complain, and they’d gone out of business. No mystery there.

Have a great day!!

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