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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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This week has been hectic. I feel a bit like I’ve been running a marathon and finally crossed the finish line, tired but not beaten. Whew. My mother celebrated a milestone birthday. In deference to the fact she doesn’t like her age revealed, let’s just say she’s not a centurion as yet, but she’s marching steadily in that direction. I am seriously hoping we will be celebrating her 105th birthday one of these days. Since we are both fully vaccinated and past the two week grace period following the second shot, I got to hug her for the first time in a year. Cannot tell you how satisfying that was. Contact with other living creatures is so important to our well being, or at least I know it is for mine.

Even animals need companionship. Last night on the news they featured a story about a stray dog in North Carolina. The dog, a one year old male, had repeatedly sneaked into a Dollar Store when customers opened the door to visit a stuffed purple unicorn. Store employees, exhausting all efforts to deter the animal from entering the store, finally called in Animal Control to arrest the pup for breaking and entering. The officer, after assessing the situation, and the potential criminal, dropped $10 on the counter for the unicorn and took the dog and stuffed back to the animal shelter with her to look for a new home. Sisu, named by shelter employees after a character in Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, has now found his forever home with the condition he and the unicorn be adopted together. Awwwww. I don’t know why, I just love that story.

We all need someone to love. I know my step is a bit lighter these days having someone to do for and go places with again. I am fine by myself and quite able to build a live without a mate, but I have to say I find more satisfaction when I have another being in my life to share things with. Aside from having my family, and a new man in my life, truly I am blessed with such a great group of friends. I wouldn’t trade any one of these beings for anything in the world. Well, except perhaps a lifetime supply of In N Out burgers or one night with Nick Nolte as he looked in the Prince of Tides. Just kidding (well, almost). As you get further along in life, the people who populate your world become far more important and rich than what you possess or what you perceive you need.

Today my new bed is arriving. It is with mixed feelings I say goodbye to the old one. Rick had just bought it when we first met. We spent our first days on that bed and our last days together lying next to one on that mattress. Like all things, its time has come to an end. My back is shaking my hand heartily every day for making this decision, though the cat is far less enthusiastic about it. We had to dismantle the whole bed on Friday night. A young couple was coming Saturday to claim the headboard, foot board, and frame. The mattresses had to be wrapped in plastic so the delivery men would take them, and the whole frame needed a general sprucing up, including a good dusting and some paint touch up. What’s old to me, became new and fresh in these young people’s eyes. They were so happy to get the bed and appreciative it was in good condition. I have peace knowing though the mattress will be heading wherever old mattresses end their days, the frame will have a new life somewhere else creating new memories. Boo, the Queen of cats, made a total scene once was everything was disassembled. The cat’s days are spent either with her furry head bent over her bowl, her paws busy covering up whatever new deposit she has left for me in her litter box, or perched atop three pillows like the Princess and the Pea on the right side of my bed. Having her nest temporarily dismantled was cause for much feline alarm and anxiety. Lacking access to kitty Prozac, yesterday I actually had to reassemble the mattresses on the floor so she could wipe the sad, pitiful look off her cat face and settle in again until the new bed arrived. It is becoming patently obvious who’s running this show of late.

So the delivery men just left. What a difference paring down to a queen size bed has made in my room. Wow. I can actually get to both sides of the bed with room to spare to change the sheets without hanging with my knees over a trapeze to pull the sheet over the side by the wall. Yay. I bagged up all my king size sheets on Saturday and ran an ad on Facebook reading “Five Sets of Beautiful King Size Sheets – Free”. Before I pushed “publish” I had ten people in the queue. Goodness. One lady asked if I delivered. When I asked where she lived, it turned out to be a 45 minute drive from here each way. Now, let me answer that in the kindest way possible. I am giving you a bag full of really nice linens at no cost to you except whatever gas it requires to get here. The simplest answer would be, “No, I do not deliver.” I never mind doing something extra for someone but this lady simply told me she had a busy life and simply didn’t have time to run about collecting sheets. Okay. I too have a busy life and don’t have time to run around delivering sheets which is why I posted an ad which read “Whoever wants these must pick them up”. Instead a lovely young girl with little ones in tow showed up. She thanked me profusely and said she could really use them so I was glad she was the one to take them home.

Also over the weekend my new coffee table was delivered. I had two poufs in front of my couch for two and a half years. They were very nice and visually interesting but I was getting tired of restuffing and cleaning them constantly. Since I was already sinking into the debt pool with the bed, why not submerge completely and add a coffee table to the canoe? The poufs were in great condition and fairly large. I have found if you put free on almost anything and place it by the curb it grows legs and disappears fairly quickly. I had an old love seat when I married to my ex-husband. We kept it in the garage so he could sit down out there when he was working in the shop area. As you might imagine, it picked up a few stains around all that grease and the rusty tools. When we decided it was time for it to go I suggested we move it to the curb and put a sign on it reading “Take Me”. My husband said no one would want that old thing so we made a wager. $10 to me if it was gone by sundown and $10 to him if it was not. Shortly after moving it to the curb, we went to the market leaving the love seat there with it’s sign. By the time we returned there was no love seat just another sign reading “Thank You”. Nice. Within ten minutes of putting the poufs by the curb with a similar sign and a heart a Jeep went by, applied the brakes, backed up and snatched the two poufs and they disappeared down the road. Yay. Life, as they say, is good.

The coffee table looks great. Buying it sight unseen was a little iffy, but it turned out to be the perfect choice. Not having bought it from a large furniture store, it was up to us to assemble it. At one point we realized we had gotten to the fourth and last leg and done it wrong. This meant going back and undoing all the work we’d done on the first three. I rarely imbibe anymore, but I have to admit when that realization sunk in, my thoughts immediately went to a margarita in an icy glass. Darn, darn, darn. Good news, we really tightened the screws as we went so it was such a pain to undo. By the time we were done, I couldn’t look at that piece of furniture for a while without wanting to set a match to it. Now, however, I love it. All good.

So, my house is set. The delivery men had quite a time getting the bed in. This house was built in the 1930’s. Like many of that era, it has small rooms with hard angles. One of the guys stepped in the cat litter box, fortunately pristine, and dumped it all over the floor. The other one knocked down two pictures trying to get the box spring around the corner. That’s why they hire young strong men to deliver this stuff. Thank God they assembled it all before they left. Didn’t think I had another afternoon of that in me for this week.

Well, I’ll quit for now. Have a great day! Vaccinations, one step closer to freedom and getting our lives back. All my Covid symptoms that had been hanging on have dissipated since getting my second shot. So thankful.

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I haven’t written in awhile. Life has been unusually hectic the past few weeks, leaving little spare time to sit at my computer. Don’t ask me what I’ve been doing, I probably couldn’t tell you in great detail. All I can say is somehow, each day managed to fill up to the brim as it folded into the next.

When I hit OVERLOAD on my time management scale, things begin to go south for me. Today, for example, I got up early and went for a walk. As is my habit, I grabbed the key to the house off the hook by the door, tucking it in my sweatshirt pocket. Stepping outside, the temperature was far colder than I’d anticipated. Only having on a light hoodie, I went back in the house to retrieve a heavier jacket from the closet. Turning the lock on the door before closing it, I enjoyed a brisk tour of the neighborhood, circling back to the house about forty-five minutes later. Normally, this would be just a day in the life of. Possibly it could even be considered yawn worthy, if not for the fact I’d neglected to retrieve the key from the pocket of the hoodie I originally had on. Duh, and double duh. I walked up to the door and tried the knob What? I know I locked it. Human nature being what it is, even knowing it was locked, I had to test it. You know I did. Tight as a drum. Yup, good job, Susie. I had a duplicate key made for such occasions. Peering into the also locked living room window I could see it hooked on the ring with my car keys. Perhaps I need to refine the thinking on that program? Both keys hanging on the same hook probably shouldn’t be Plan A. Fortunately, I had my cell phone. Like every electronic device I have ever owned, it is currently suffering from technical issues. Basically, I can’t hear an incoming caller unless I put them on speaker. Putting someone on speaker is not an option I always enjoy. One never knows what one might be doing while speaking on the phone. Also, I don’t want the cat listening in, you know how nosy felines can be. Before taking it in to Apple to get a tech involved, I decided to search on line for solutions. What did we do pre-Internet, I wonder? The answers to every question posed since the dawn of man seems to be found there. I performed all the suggested “fixes” noted on the tech driven websites. End result, you ask? I can’t hear anyone unless they are on speaker. Drat. Not the time to worry about the speaker as it wasn’t getting any warmer, I assessed my situation, Clearly, there were two choices. Either I could pitch a tent in the yard and wait it out until my roommate arrived home in 24 hours, or I could call my landlady and ask her to let me in. Sigh. So high school. Sometimes I think I need a keeper. Swallowing my pride, as my feet were getting colder, I placed the call to my landlady explaining my dilemma. She said she was in a meeting but could be at the house within the hour. Super. Thankfully, I had put on a warmer jacket because by the time her car pulled up, my feet had stopped receiving signals from my circulatory system.

Once inside I thawed out. Warming my hands on a cup of hot coffee, I laid my day out in front of me. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow so I needed to pick up a few cards and some candy for my mother. I figured I could squeeze that errand in the mix somewhere between the bank and the grocery store. Curious as to how the proceedings were going, I switched on the impeachment trial. There’s a happy way to jump start one’s day. I have limited my news input to no more than an hour a day. Immersing myself in what’s going on in our government at the moment will have me dusting off my green card and heading north for the Canadian border. Eternally optimistic, I still keep my fairy dust spreader primed and ready to go in the event our elected officials miraculously locate their moral spines and do what is right for our country rather than what is right for themselves personally. Fingers and toes crossed. Oh update on this, you can uncross all digits, their moral spines are still missing and remain unaccounted for. Wow. That’s all, just WOW.

Even before getting locked out, this week proved a bit of a bust. Yesterday, for example, I went to my bi-monthly hair appointment. Some women find days at the salon relaxing. I am not one of them. Not by nature a “sit still” kind of gal, killing time in a salon chair with goo and tin foil slapped on my head is not my idea of a fun filled afternoon. Armed with a new book and a bottle of water, I conferred with my stylist before getting started with the dye job about the direction my hair color was heading. My first stylist at this salon, Emily, moved on down the road last summer. Without consulting me or a thought to how I’d look, she picked up her family and relocated to a beautiful big house on a lake to provide a better life for her kids. Some people are so self focused. Hah. Before leaving, she recommended a replacement. This was tough on me, as I had just gotten her broken in. Women reading will understand this, it takes a while to break in a new hair dresser. Emily had been the perfect fit for me. Sarah was doing a pretty good job getting up to speed, but my “do” is not exactly how I like it yet. In trying to explain what I wanted, I included visuals of models with my basic hair cut colored the way I would like to see mine. Not rocket science really. Blonde highlights with light brown undertones. Easy peasy. One would think. When Sarah applied the color, it looked dark. Inquiring about the depth of color, I was told not to worry my little blonde head about it, Sarah was at the wheel. Kay. Forty minutes later the color was rinsed off and I was seated in front of the mirror. Not only was my hair now a deep reddish brown (emphasis on the red), but it was highlighted with thin whitish strands giving it the look of a large plate of spaghetti with meat sauce. All I needed was a dash of Parmesan and I was good to go. Oh yay. The look on my face made it obvious, I’m sure, to Sarah this was not going to end well. In response to my expression she commented, “don’t freak out”. “Kay. Why not exactly? I would like to freak out, and then I would like to cry, in that order.” Good lord. Several other products were applied in an attempt to tone down the red. In spite of her valiant efforts, I remained looking like an ad for an Italian restaurant. Along with my hair having a decided maroon tinge, my scalp now matched the color perfectly and had begun to itch from all the chemicals. Check please.

In the end, I was sent home with apologetic assurances Sarah would fit me in post haste to fix the problem. Great, does that assurance come with a bag to wear over my head in the meantime? Texting her this morning I asked when the fix might be done, to which she replied four hours later, “how about next Friday”? To which I replied, “how about, not”. Now, I never fault people for making mistakes. We all are human and, therefore, each of us fallible. However, if you do make a mistake…..if possible, fix it. Sarah made several wrong turns in dealing with her customer (namely me) in my humble opinion. Number one, she allowed me to stew in my own juices for four hours, and number two, she suggested resolving a problem she created at her convenience rather than mine. Both of these mistakes are likely to make someone who started out a bit reasonably annoyed to move the dial quickly over to really pissed off. I’m just saying. I used to train the serving staff in our restaurant. My first instruction was always acknowledge the customer. No matter how busy you are, at least stop and explain you are aware they are waiting, ask if they can get them a beverage, and get to them as expediently as you can. So, after I did not budge on sooner than later, we compromised on Wednesday. Momma ain’t happy, but it is what it is. Glad we have to wear masks at the moment at least I won’t be recognized.

I guess I should consider myself lucky. You may have read about that poor woman who sprayed gorilla glue on her hair because she was out of hair spray. I will say nothing here about why she would make such an obviously poor choice, as this lady has suffered enough. To get the glue off her hair, required a two and a half hour medical procedure. Rick would have completely understood finding oneself in such a mess. Seriously, the man could not be left alone with Crazy Glue.There should have been a warning label on the side of the tube saying “This product not recommended for men answering to the name of Rick”. Sometimes it was like having a big kid. When I handed him the tube I specifically cautioned him not to get any glue on his skin. Two minutes later I heard the dreaded words “oh-oh”. Going back to where he was standing I found him staring at his right hand. He had adhered his thumb to his index and middle finger and they were securely fused. To inject some humor in the situation, I told him his hand was set up perfectly for making rooster finger puppets should the need arise in the future. He assured me he saw no humor or comfort in this. Saving the day, the infinite internet provided a solution and after an hour and a half we were able to undo what he had done. Adding insult to injury, he had dropped the glue container on his new pants. True to the hype it was “permanent” and it was now firmly and undeniably attached to the fabric. While trying to get it off, Rick tore a large hole in the pant leg and we ended up tossing them in the garbage. Lesson learned.

I also launched a full on assault on Covid-19 vaccination sites this past week. My doctor suggested I needed to get the shots as soon as possible as they were now available for my age group and I have asthma. What a process. I felt like a kid trying to score a seat at a wildly popular concert. I’d log on, get on a site, and before I could book a spot that time and day would disappear. Can’t tell you how many times I did that. I’m nothing if not tenacious. After two days it became a sort of quest. Persistence paid off, and I finally got an appointment for Monday, as well as the follow up shot three weeks after that. I feel like I won the lottery. So, I am not sorry to say sayonara to this week in my life, although I do hear my grandmother whispering in my ear, “don’t wish your life away”.

Make it a safe one. Happy Valentine’s Day to you all and to my Rick, this will be my third Valentine’s Day without him.

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Another dry year here in what seems to be, of late, a perpetually sunny California. Don’t misunderstand me, yesterday was a picture perfect day. The guy standing behind me in line at the market had on a tee shirt, cargo shorts, and flip flops. I ran the air in the car on the way home from the store. This would all lean towards bring an ideal weather report was it not January and the state beginning to lean towards drought conditions. If this becomes a pattern, you may find me out under the full moon doing a dance to the rain goddess. I checked, there are a number to choose from. I shall pick the one who calls my name, dust off my tap shoes and give it a go.

Last year was a record fire season. We were evacuated once and thankfully came home to our house still intact, many others weren’t so lucky. You start to wonder as this streak continues how long your luck will hold. If it wasn’t for the ties I have here, relocating would definitely be on the table. Where I would go I’m not sure.

Let’s face it no matter where you live weather can prove undesirable, or at the very least, unpredictable. My best friend and her husband are moving to Texas. Crumbs are tossed out on their end occasionally for me to follow. Not for me. No offense to those of you with a TX at the end of your address. Humidity is not a friend to asthmatics and truth is I just don’t thrive in it. They’ve never lived in a humid area before. Sometimes I worry they might get there, open the car door, and get right back in and turn back around. I lived in humid climates many times during my travels and much prefer dry.

Was I to look north, say Oregon or Washington, both gorgeous places to live, I’d need to add a snow shovel to my tool collection. Shoveling my way to the car or traversing icy roads are not two of my favorite winter pastimes. Then there’s the rain the further north you travel. I’d love to see a full rainy season here which is doable, but Washington gets more than its fair share of precipitation. Wet, wet, and more wet. When my kids were babies we lived in Bellevue, Washington for about six months. Located about ten miles east of Seattle, Bellevue enjoys the same rainy climate as Seattle along with what sometimes felt like an endless string of overcast skies. Days when the sun actually peaked out from behind the clouds, you had to watch to avoid being trampled by people escaping from their homes to engage in their favorite outdoor activities. The Puget Sound would be literally covered with flecks of white as sails were hoisted and boats launched to capture the day.

The east coast often calls my name. I lived in Nova Scotia until nine and then moved to Massachusetts for three years when my children were small. However, brutally cold winters have me putting on my ear muffs to drown out the whispers of the east coast siren song as I’ve already stated above heavy snow is not my dreamscape. Hmmmm. Picky, picky, girl. Perhaps Hawaii would work? I’m very fond of pineapple and adore the ocean. The thought to me of going round and round on the same square footage for the rest of my life doesn’t see to get the juices flowing either.

Oh dear. The south, no. Been there, and done that. Maybe Florida, but I’ve also been there, and in the summer. Enough said. Though I do adore their glorious shorelines hurricanes show up there more often than pimples on a teenagers face and they have cockroaches that fly. Well the midwest, that would be tornado alley. No check. Oh hell.

I could take a quick class in Italian on Babbel and move to Tuscany. The south of France might be a nice place to hang my hat, or beret if that be the case, except my French these days has shifted from rusty to oui, that’s it just oui.

Sigh.

As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum, I’ve moved thirty-nine times. This might indicate a certain wanderlust in my character, or it could be I have a lust for adventure, or it could be I married men who moved as part of their jobs. All three might have been true at one time or another. Another thought might be I have trouble being satisfied where I am. Years of looking at my intentions and motivations have now created, I like to think, a somewhat self aware person Self analysis can be both a blessing and a curse. Where are the glorious old days when I could screw up blissfully without having any idea why, or any need to do better the next time? But, I digress. Here I am, and I am armed with some knowledge about my own motivations, a dangerous place to find myself.

Moving can be precipitated by many things. Some people prefer to keep their feet firmly planted on familiar ground. A dear friend of mine has lived ten miles from her family home all her life and is happy to be there. Others I know have fled the area they grew up like a tidal wave was imminent as soon as they were old enough to do so. Some have moved for jobs, a desire to see another part of the world, family relocating. There are a myriad of reasons to grab the moving boxes and begin packing your life up to take it to another location. However, if you are moving as a need to get away from your life, remember not to pack whatever did not work where you were originally in your U-Haul boxes. Unless you do the work to you mend what is broken, it will remain broken on the other end when you unpack it. Susie’s pearls of wisdom on a Friday. It’s not that I have a degree in this stuff, believe me I do not. It is, however, I have done so many things the wrong way up until this juncture, I can speak with some clarity on what doesn’t work.

For example, I have a friend who has been a sober man, as he puts it, for forty-five years. Very active in AA, he speaks frequently to the fact a person cannot just stop drinking and expect their life to be fully repaired. I’m not saying that isn’t the first step in many toward that goal, but that it is not the only step. Picture a vase broken into ten pieces. If you glue together four of the pieces it will still hold some water but undoubtedly leak. With five pieces in place it will hold more water, but not be useful for what it was originally intended, to hold a lovely bouquet of flowers. As you add each piece, the integrity of the vase becomes stronger, until you place the last chard and it becomes whole and viable again. Perhaps not the best analogy, but you get the idea.

This morning I took a long look at why I think I need a change of venue. Well, as I said fire season is looking us in the face again and the rain hasn’t as forthcoming as it was years back. This, makes me nervous. I have taken some steps toward making myself safer. I believe this to be a beginning. Two and a half years ago I was living in a gorgeous forested community with trees all around me and only two roads down to the valley. Changing this scenario, has added to my sense of well being. A generator sits in my shed waiting to be put into use should an imminent power outage occur, which will be helpful in keeping my groceries safe during the summer months. I caught a glimpse of a piece on the news about PG&E coming up with some sort of device on their lines that will make the endless power outages necessary to help keep fires from erupting a thing of the past. The device provides some sort of signal to the individual lines to shut down not the whole system. Do not quote me on this because a glimpse does not provide you with but a gist of the book, but it went in that direction. Wow. That would be a huge plus. Also, I believe the new administration has it’s sights aimed towards climate control. Our penguins are floating on what used to be icebergs so any steps in that direction to my mind would be most welcome.

Perhaps it is the pandemic making me restless? I’m sure many out there find their fingers drumming on the table. Though I love being in my little house in the valley, and my kitty feels she has hit the jackpot having me ever present for endless pets on the head and treat retrieval, I am tiring of the indoors. Longing is beginning to well up inside me for long lunches with friends, a hug from my grandchildren, and a day at the beach which always suits my soul well.

The key here might be to find what satisfies me right where I sit. That being done, if I still want to move I need to remember those I love the most would be in my rear view mirror. Not that they would stop being family, simply they would be further away to access. Like a peach on a tree I get riper as each day passes. Life goes by in an instant and it seems more important as I age to hold tight to the moments that are cherished and special. Certainly I couldn’t leave my beloved mother behind, nor do I want to miss the birthdays yet to come for my children and their children, or those lunches with friends, or walks along California’s glorious sandy beaches. So, problem solved. I’ll stay put for now and make myself happy in the spot where I live. Yay. Problem solved for today. Bandaid applied and moving on……again, for now. Life is always in a state of flux. My grief counselor told me many times in the beginning after Rick died, “life will look very different a year from now”. Words to live by. Look how different it looked a year ago and imagine how different in January 2022.

The moment or moments are really what we have in the end. Enjoy today. Stay safe.

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