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Rain is sheeting down my windows, my Christmas trees are twinkling, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, is curled by my feet, steam is rising from my coffee and all is right with the world. I’m enjoying one of my “near perfect moments”. They happen here and there when the stars align with the moon and the planets and everything, in spite of the strife and hard angles involved in existing on this earth, falls into perfect alignment. For just that moment in time life is totally, undeniably, beautiful.  If I could bottle this precious commodity therapists would be taking down their shingles and looking for another line of work and Boo and I would be languishing on a gloriously warm white sandy beach somewhere drinking Mai Tai’s and watching buffed, tanned young men arrange the lawn furniture.

I know I experience these soul touching snippets of time but wonder if others do.  Perhaps when a parent watches their deaf child react to hearing their voice for the first time, or a tired driver turns a corner on a rural road to find fields of lavender spread out before them, or standing at a window watching the first light snowflakes of the season drift slowly down to earth. Whatever your idea of perfection, I would be interested to know.

More and more of these special moments have been revealing themselves as I begin to come up out of the fog of the last year or two and look towards the future. As I’ve mentioned there is a coring out associated with losing someone dear to you that clears the road for a new and different version of yourself to emerge. Possibilities for what could come to be as time unfolds began to take form.

People ask me so often if I have met anyone, or if I am interested in exploring a new relationship. My best answer to the former “too soon”, and to the latter, “I don’t know”. Right now I am trying to discover who I am. If I don’t know who I am how can someone else hope to get to know me? This got to me wondering what type of person I would want to meet. Over the years I may not have zoned in on exactly what I needed in a partner, but I certainly have crossed off a lot of what I did not need.

Partnering is not for sissies. It is difficult enough just to be you but to be “us” with someone else takes patience, compromise, and perseverance. How do you know what type of person is the best fit for you? Do you choose a person with like interests and tastes? Possibly. However, for all that we humans seem alike, we are all so vastly different.  Watching a ballet troupe perform Swan Lake might move one person to tears while at the same time leave the person next to them longing for a No-Doz. Where our physical construction remains basically the same our emotional makeup is so much more complicated and unique. Often I question whether relationships with two like people work better than those where the pair are polar opposites. In my case someone just like me might either cause sparks to fly or snoring to ensue. I might be less than stimulated to have a partner who agreed with every premise I supported rather than offering me opposing views to mull over and consider.

So, will I have another serious relationship in my life? This remains to reveal itself. Certainly I have had my share of relationships. Being somewhat of a nester, I seem to naturally gravitate to setting two places at the table. I hear opposing views on the subject. Though I have many happily attached friends, I also have single friends who would rather cut off their own foot than immerse themselves in another serious relationship. These friends prefer their own company cherishing the freedom to do what they want when they want to do it.  I have to admit there is a sort of heady feeling to being able to move about unencumbered. However, I do so miss having Rick at home waiting for me with a smile when I arrived at the door or worrying about me if I was running late. I like sharing my day with someone interested in hearing about it, and settling in for a cuddle and a little TV before getting ready for bed.

There are a lot of activities I find more fun with a companion. This does not mean I can’t have fun alone, I most certainly can. However, there is also something special about sharing the experience with someone who I enjoy spending time with. Travel, for example. I prefer to travel with someone, though traveling alone is not alien or frightening to me. Part of my job description in my last job in the Bay Area was being flown about the U.S. orchestrating trade show details for the product our company manufactured.  Usually first on the scene, my job was to secure a hospitality suite where I would set up shop as home base for our executives to do business with and entertain prospective clients and investors. This would include ordering lavish spreads, preparing giveaway bags, and selecting high end wines. Often these rooms were pricey units on secured floors with all the amenities afforded those who can foot the bill. Though there was lots of work involved in promoting these shows, certainly it was not a difficult perk to swallow that I went back after a long day to an exquisite suite and was provided a carte blanche room service agreement. Where some would have been dining on the deck enjoying pate or lobster bisque washed down with a fine pinot noir, I could often be found bouncing on the bed, ordering a cheeseburger and fries with a beer, and stuffing all the little toiletries in my suitcase to add to my collection at home.

Traveling is high on my list of things I would love to do more of with or without someone to hit the road with. Greece and Italy beckon me all the time, and though I have seen Paris and London there is so much more of Europe I would like to leave a footprint on. A return trip to Nova Scotia is definitely on my “Things I Must Do Before I Can’t” list. No matter how many years spread out between my last visit there, I still yearn to see it again. Home, after all, will always be home no matter where you hang your hat. Also, I am looking forward to meeting my dad’s tribe, many of which I have never met, sometime next year. Deep down below these brown roots I will always be Canadian with a healthy mix of American now thrown in for good measure.

With the new year about to arrive I have begun thinking seriously about how to use 2020. Where do I want to go and what do I want to do? I believe, again referring to my heritage, after living so many years in the U.S. it is time to apply for dual citizenship. With the present atmosphere around citizenship in this country I don’t want to be waving at my family from the back of a truck headed north of the dividing line. I do wish it wasn’t so expensive to get this done. I just paid nearly $1000 to get my Canadian paperwork up-to-date. I’m told this could take upwards of fifteen months due to the high volume of applicants. Whew.

Also my thoughts have turned to reeducating myself perhaps in a different field. You are never too long in the tooth to learn something new. I know I have some snow on the roof but I’m still capable of putting words together in a sentence and having a cogent thought from time to time. Surely I can still be retrained? I think older adults should be given life credit for lasting this long. Hopefully, unless you cruised through your life with your eyes and eyes on mute you have picked up some knowledge along the way. I like to think I have, though there are probably some out there who might argue this point. I have fallen on my face on many occasions but managed to pick myself up and take a lesson from why I tripped in the first place. Having been married four times one might say I was a slow learner, but I prefer to think of myself as optimistic about love. Makes it easier to sleep at night.

So as I ponder my world and what is to come, I am happy to report almost all my holiday shopping is done. I have made an early resolution that next year I will not do this amount of shopping. Instead I will try to pick out something small but meaningful or make something for each of my loved ones. Most of my friends have opted to tuck a check in their Christmas cards to those relatives they give to, but I needed one more year of shopping and wrapping under my belt before I handed over the baton. It was most fun and my tree skirt is happily covered with brightly wrapped gifts. Boo, who believes everything in this house is actually hers only being on loan to me as long as I feed her, works on undermining this effort every day.

Have a great one. Learn a new word, try a new food, say hi to someone who looks like they might not say hi back. Make it count.

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Holidays, when you’ve lost a loved one, can prove very difficult. I am so grateful this Thanksgiving I was surrounded by my family and their families on Thanksgiving Day. I’m sure for those grieving a loss alone, the added pain of everybody celebrating around them can be almost unbearable. I have made great strides since Rick has passed. Fourteen months have come and gone and each day I find more strength and purpose returning to my life. This does not mean I still don’t stumble, I do.  Yesterday for example, Black Friday, was a difficult one. The turkey now eaten and leftovers tucked away in the fridge, left me drifting about the house with Boo, the Queen of Cats, wondering what to busy myself with. I try not to always clutter up my days with “doing”. Sometimes it is important to sit with your feelings while they are stewing and work your way through them. However, yesterday I needed air and people around me so I headed for the stores looking for a way to keep my mind occupied.

Expecting the usual crush of holiday shoppers littering the aisles I was pleasantly surprised to find only an average amount of shoppers milling about making it painless to select the first Christmas presents I’ve purchased this season.  In one store, the bank of extra cashiers ready to ring up holiday customer’s orders were lined up along the check out aisle beckoning customers to their stalls like barkers at a sideshow. Interesting.  Guess everybody was busy filling their carts on line. Makes me wonder if someday there will be no stores to shop in, with everything being done with the click of a mouse. I hope not. I am an old dog, I guess. I like to hold my book and read it, turning the pages as I go. I want to feel the fabric and explore the fit of a bathrobe before purchasing it, and I enjoy the lively conversations and colorful Christmas goodies displayed in the stores. Woof.

Although change is always a process, change life will, and continue to do so. Either you hop on board and change with it or the train will pull out of the station and you’ll still be standing on the platform. A lot of my friends are still circling their computers trying to figure out what makes them tick. They approach their laptops like a haz-mat team might creep up on a ticking box. Because I have quite a bit of experience in my pocket I have become sort of the It-Girl for my friends still working on the difference between portrait and landscape. Thankfully I have kept up with my skills for the most part so as things changed I moved forward with them keeping me somewhat “fresh” with the new technology. Um, with one exception I’m afraid, phones. Even my best friend who still had a flip phone until the beginning of this year now has an IPhone she devotes a great deal of her time to. I have one response when asked why I am so stubborn about this, “I don’t wanta”.

I suppose at some point I will cave pitifully and get myself a smart phone. There is something intimidating about having a hand held device that is so much more intelligent than you are. Next I will be on a first name basis with Siri not listening to anyone around me anymore except her soothing voice. I watch in fascination as my friends speak to her in their phones asking advice about everything from directions to where the best deals on toilet paper can be found. Some, I have observed, seem to have an uncomfortably personal attachment to these digital beings which at times can make my skin feel a little squirrely.

Over Thanksgiving dinner we older adults were discussing with the younger members of our clan what life was like when phones were still attached to the wall. When your ability to walk around with it attached to your ear was directly controlled by the length of the cord you purchased for it when you picked it out at the phone store. Mouth agape they stared at us as if we had just landed and walked down the ramp with ET. When I went on to explain we didn’t have APPS, voicemail, personal computers, video games, and only limited channels on the TV I swear one of them crossed himself.

To further shock these young beings, in particular the girls, I explained that if you wanted to do your hair you didn’t just plug in your blow dryer and curling iron. Oh no. You washed it, rolled it in curlers and either endeavored to sleep on the miserable things generally finding them all over your bed in the morning or plugged in a portable hair dryer and sat underneath it until your hair was dry.

Looking back so much has changed over the years. When my children were born there were no seat belts. Kids floated about in the car roaming from front to back, sticking their heads out of the windows, or sitting on your lap and helping you drive. Amazing we ever made it this far.

So, we look toward another year. This one should be interesting. With everything going on in the political arena certainly this may prove to be a fascinating time to be a fly on the wall for an election. I don’t usually get political in my blogs leaving it to others to sling mud where they may, however I would hope we breathe some dignity back into our government. My relatives in Canada tell me we have become the source of many jokes up there and I’m sure that rings in true all over the world. Time to clean this up and restore some civility to our world.

For my part I’m still trying to figure out who I am as this new person evolves from the ashes of my old life. The new year is both exciting and a little intimidating. I know I have to go back to work which makes me want to go in the closet with a bag of fiery Cheetos and pull a blanket over my head, but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

Hope your holiday was special. Most of you are heading home today or out in the stores frantically trying to scratch names off that holiday list. Take a breath, enjoy the spirit of the season. There is much to be thankful for.

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I got my hair done today in preparation for the holiday. You learn so much while sitting the salon chair. The girl next to me was getting the works done, hair, makeup and nails for her bachelorette party on Friday. The lady behind me had just lost forty pounds and was having her hair dyed in celebration of the weight loss. It’s not that I purposely eavesdrop, but the chairs are huddled together in a circle so conversations sort of hover in the air. Emily, my hair dresser, was telling me she has to attend three Thanksgivings every year. Seems her in-laws parted ways a decade ago in what was a contentious divorce. Each party has since remarried. So, Emily, her husband and three little ones go to dinner at her mother-in-law and her new husband’s home the weekend before Thanksgiving, then have dinner with her father-in-law and his new wife on the big day, followed up by a big celebration with Em’s family at home the weekend after. On Christmas this is repeated only with her family receiving top billing. After listening to her I was exhausted. I hope she has “fat pants” for the occasion. That’s a lot of turkey.

When Rick was with me we had turkey on Thanksgiving going with an alternate choice for Christmas such as prime rib or lamb. One year we even had lobster, a nod to my Canadian roots, which was totally decadent and delicious. For Rick, like many  people from what I understand, turkey was not at the top of his favorites list. I’m kind of with my mom in that I like turkey but view it more as a vessel for the stuffing to reside in and not the star of the meal. My day after turkey sandwich however, is a show stopper. Mayo, cranberry sauce, stuffing and turkey with a little salt and pepper. Yum and yum.

The tree will come out of the shed this week along with the sea of red and green bins in which all my decorations are housed. Last year being my first Christmas on my own was somewhat less than jolly, but I have regained some of my holiday spirit this year and am looking forward to putting up all my familiar holiday goodies on the day after turkey day. This is tradition for me, and in keeping with my traditions the day after Christmas they will once again be taken down. I know many people keep theirs up until New Years Day but by the time Christmas is in the bag, if you will, I am done with twinkling lights and wrapping paper. By then I am ready to put my feet up, have some hot chocolate, and take a rest before having to look at the upcoming year.  Some people still have their house lights on well into spring.  Others leave them up year round. Can’t decide whether they are just too lazy to take them down or they really, really, really like the holidays. I have one friend who left her tree up until it was nearly time to turn on the air conditioning.

Used to be a time I wouldn’t have entertained the thought of having an artificial tree. Always I insisted on having a fresh tree to have all the piney aromas in my living room. Flocked trees were my favorite, the type with the real clumped snow look to them that leave a trail of white all over your house both coming and going. I used to keep a lint brush by the front door for visitors who dared to venture to close. On several Christmases we took the children to the mountains to the tree farm. There’s something visceral about using an axe to cut the tree down then driving home singing Christmas carols with the tree tied to the roof of your car. Perhaps it’s left over from when our ancestors dragged home a kill to the hungry villagers.

Finally the weather is catching up with the season here in Northern California. People have been running around in shorts and tee shirts up until several days ago. The first snow is due in the mountain areas over the weekend. I am thankful to be down the hill from snow country this year. As beautiful as the world looks when the snowflakes begin to pile up on the tree boughs, driving in the aftermath is a pain and getting out of the steep driveway in my old house was downright dangerous to my well being. I’ve heard where I am in the lower foothills is occasionally dusted. An occasional snowfall is most welcome. The terrain is flat from here to my car where I live now, so I am far less likely to end up on my face. Twice while up in Grass Valley I went out to the car in the morning only to end up on my behind on the front porch. Now I am not against a good dance once and a while, but not before my coffee, in frigid weather, and definitely not when airborne.

Retailers are beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Unbelievably in the stores I found the Halloween 50% sale items on the shelf with Santa and his entourage. Maybe they should just combine the holidays having Santa riding in a pumpkin, eating a turkey leg?  They certainly don’t waste much time. Some of the Black Friday items were already on sale weeks ago. Pretty soon we’ll be celebrating it after Labor Day. I have so far bought one present and December 25th is one month away.  Though I love to be able to give to my loved ones it can be so stressful trying to figure out what to give and traversing the packed stores and endless lines. Most probably most of my shopping will be done on line. This year will be our little guys second Christmas. Viewing all this wonderment through his eyes will be exciting. That experience I am looking forward to the most. Also, we are blessed my mother is still with us. So many things to be thankful for besides what is wrapped under the tree.s

On a side note, I took my first clay modeling class yesterday. I have been trying to get into such a class since 1988. One thing or another always seemed to block my way. The class was three hours. That seemed like a long time when I signed up but have to say it went by so quickly when I was told it was time to hang up my apron for the day I was disappointed. How fun it was to learn something new and get my hands all gooey in the process. I made a snowman and a bowl which I shall show you once they’re glazed and fired.

Have a great day. Take a chance to learn something new or teach someone else something they haven’t experienced.

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The time has come to begin searching for a part-time job. God knows I’ve avoided it successfully as long as I can. Money needs to start coming in as well as going out or this boat is going to spring a few leaks down the road. Not that I’m allergic to work, I’ve worked most of my life, I just don’t hate not having to. Ah well, we do what we need to do to sustain ourselves, yes?

An email showed up in my in box yesterday from a social media website I’m a member of. They were alerting me to the fact there is an opening for a social media director for one of the NFL teams I might be a good candidate for. Really, in what universe would that be? If I’m qualified for that job why not try something new like, say, brain surgeon or perhaps I could apply to NASA for a neuroscientist position? I do enjoy watching those rockets plummeting into space. How hard can it be a little rocket fuel and a match? Let’s see, with all the candidates running for president at the moment would anyone even notice another hat tossed in the ring? Why not go for the gold? As far as I can tell I’m probably as qualified as most of the people in Washington at the moment so why not?

Updating my resume it occurred to me my graphic arts background isn’t really going to hold a lot of weight if I’m stocking shelves at the Dollar Store or wrapping up purchases at Penny’s. Probably their HR departments won’t be overly impressed by the fact that not only can I bag the items for the customer, but I can draw them a rendition of the bag if needed.

Utilizing my graphics or writing skills while earning a paycheck would be the ideal situation. Unfortunately, these types of jobs are often full time positions with plenty of overtime, which I’m not looking for, or the hiring bodies are targeting younger candidates who can remain in place longer than a baby boomer such as myself.

Over the years I have assumed many identities in the working world. I began as a secretary, clerk really, for a moving company. An eighteen year old girl green as a gourd working with a bunch of rough around the edges movers in a large combination warehouse and office. I earned my stripes there. The men were respectful for the most part, as I remember. However, the dispatcher working directly across the aisle from me had a mouth like a sailor. When things weren’t going his way the air was alive with words my grandmother would have washed my mouth out for repeating. I remember once the warehouse manager came to me to tell me the ladies, of which there were four of us, needed to be alerted there were crabs in the women’s washroom. Until the situation was resolved, we were instructed to use the men’s room. Fascinated there were live crabs on the premises, I asked if perhaps I could see them. Stepping a bit further into the humiliation pit I went on to explain though I enjoyed crabs, I actually preferred lobster having grown up in Nova Scotia. Yup, fully immersed in the pit of humiliation at that point. After staring at me in disbelief for a minute he broke out in hysterical laughter. For the next two years I had to hear the crabs story repeated more times than I care to remember. Back then if asked about an STD I might have answered “isn’t that motor oil”? Yes, yes I know it’s STP.

My second job was for a huge engineering company working as a secretary to one of the junior VP’s. My desk was one of a bank of desks and executive offices referred to by the staff as “mahogany row”. Things were much different in those days. Women wore dresses, heels, and nylons to work. Pants were not allowed on the ladies. Men were encouraged to wear them thankfully, there are laws against that. Pants suits made an appearance not long afterwards, though I wouldn’t have missed them if they hadn’t. Polyester nightmares with matching jacket and pants usually suffering from static cling or just basic bad taste. There were no casual Friday’s. Women were to be dressed accordingly five days a week even if their toes were sacrificed to tight pointy toed shoes or their bodies circulation diminished by suffocating pantyhose. Mini skirts were also on the scene at the time. Accessing a filing cabinet wearing that minimal piece of fabric required real finesse necessitating squatting down rather than bending over the file drawers lest you provide a distraction for the engineers on the floor. The campus I worked on consisted of five multi-story buildings, mainly staffed by male engineers, draftsmen, and support staff. Women engineers were tossed in among the mix but certainly were a small minority. Often the ladies with the engineering degrees were difficult to sort out from the gentlemen. They tended to dress in a very understated way bordering on dowdy to maintain a businesslike persona. I was told by one female engineer they dressed down in order to be accepted by their male colleagues. I could write volumes about how I feel about that, but I digress.

Part of my job description was generating travel paperwork for engineers and staff reporting to our overseas operations as well as the Alaskan pipeline and South America. Shots were required when entering certain foreign countries as well as the typical government documents such as visas and passports. If needed quickly, I would hop a plane from LA to San Francisco to visit the embassy’s involved to get paperwork moved through as expediently as possible. For me, this was the whipped cream topping of my job. Entering the exotic offices staffed by people from lands I had never visited was fascinating to me. There were times when I wished they were placing official stamps on my documents so I could board the plane as well.

Certainly my dream as a child was not to be typing engineering reports or transfer papers. Sometimes life doesn’t look the way you thought it would. As a kid my mind was filled with Egypt, oddly leading me to end up with Rick an Egyptian by birth. Daydreams of dusty digs in steamy desert settings uncovering long buried tombs with ancient artifacts filled my days. As I approached puberty, my career goals shifted to include nurse, like my grandmother, and circus clown and in high school I decided I wanted to fly the friendly skies as a flight attendant. In the end, I got married at eighteen, had two children by twenty-one and found myself seated in front of an electric typewriter pounding keys for a living. I don’t regret this for an instant because was I to create a paradox in my world and change things my two beautiful children wouldn’t share my life nor their offspring so I wouldn’t change a thing.

I view each experience as a building block to the next. Had I not taken typing in high school simply to fill an elective spot, I might have been pushing biggie fries at McDonald’s. Not that that’s a bad job. I think anyone who works hard in whatever position they hold should be commended. However hindsight being 20-20 I do wish at times I had enjoyed the full college experience when I had the opportunity to but as I always quote, “don’t look in the rear view mirror, that is not the direction you are going”.

So I look at working once again and still find myself pondering what I want to be when I grow up. Working with food might be interesting. Standing behind the deli counter at the market slicing meats and cheeses seems like it would be right up my alley. My girlfriend always tells me I would have make a good waitress. I like the idea of serving people meals, as being in the kitchen or around food is my happy place. That being said, having owned a restaurant with Rick I do know first hand how difficult waiting tables is. Long hours, poor tippers, complaining patrons, and sore feet. Hmmmm. Maybe a mermaid? I’ve never been one but always felt I had the predisposition for it, and how I do love the water.

For now I will scan the on-line sites advertising local jobs and see what catches my eye. Fortunately I’ve kept my computer skills up so I have something to offer in that area.

Another new chapter to explore in my crazy interesting life. I do look forward to finding out what the next year will bring with it.

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We are smack dab in the middle of what astrologists refer to as a mercury retrograde. This began officially on Halloween, but the effects were already being felt two weeks prior. Such occurrences in the universe are usually marked by communication and technology breakdowns, nervous anxiety, travel delays, and lost items. Goody.

I mentioned a blog or two back I have been experiencing a lot of such breakdowns. Even after the electricity was finally restored following a five day power outage my land line remains dead as a doornail. A repairman is headed my way after numerous attempts by my provider’s technical staff to try to figure out what is wrong. Immediately after getting that situation on the road to a solution a friend advised me my car was leaking unknown fluid onto the driveway. This means locating an auto shop at my new location to take a look at what’s going on under there. As an aside, have you ever noticed all these types of mini disasters seem to occur on weekends or holidays? It’s so common in my world I can’t help but wonder if perhaps it’s part of the master plan. As to lost items, I spent an hour looking for my keys this morning until just short of panic mode I discovered them dangling out of the lock in the door on my way out to take the trash. Thank God I’m careful to lock the door lest someone try to break in. Sigh. This retrograde will continue until November 20th which tells me November may prove to be another red letter month at Susie’s house. Jeez.

Halloween itself was a pleasant surprise. Having lived in rural mountainous areas for the last twenty years we were lucky if we got one little pirate or a scant princess knocking at our door so this year was actually fun. I bought a huge bag of candy thinking if nobody came I could sacrifice myself and not let it go to waste. As darkness began to fall I sat down to watch the news and eat my dinner when the doorbell began to ring and didn’t stop until I turned off the lights around 8:30. Sometimes there were as many as ten children standing there when I opened the door. They were all really inspired costumes for the most part ranging from a pirate with a parrot on his shoulder and a lit lantern to a diminutive ninja turtle looking just like the ones on the big screen only tinier. It was good to see parents allowing children to go door to door again, though I noticed many of them lining up along the sidewalks with flashlights talking among themselves as their offspring gathered their loot. Reminded me of the old days when my kids were school age when we totally decorated the house and created scary haunted houses in the garage. Very nostalgic for me an old Halloween lover from way back missing being born on the very day by a mere five hours. Such a fan of all Hallows Eve am I, my mother swears I came down the chute wearing a rubber nose, moustache and glasses smoking a cigar.

The day after Halloween I celebrated my birthday. Thankfully, this went off without a hitch. My daughter and her family, including our youngest member, Zeppelin one year and one month, took me to the zoo. Going to the zoo is always a bittersweet experience for me. Don’t misunderstand me, never, even at this ripe age, do I tire of seeing the amazing animals housed in America’s zoos. That being said, I do always feel a tug of guilt these glorious creatures are confined in such a way for our amusement. Seeing the animals through Zeppelin’s fresh eyes was the best part of the day. Each cage was a new adventure for our little guy who’s eyes were wide as dinner plates as we moved from one display to the next.

My mother joined us towards the end of the day. Since she broke her hip it is more difficult to include her in family outings because her stamina has diminished since her injury. Also, as the dementia continues to intrude on her thinking keeping her overnight as was my habit before she fell has now become more difficult. My house is an old cozy dwelling with lots of hard angles and unusual rooms. A wheelchair simply can’t navigate this space comfortably. Sadly once again I watch the progress of aging taking away more and more freedom from my dear mother. I also see spurts of anger not present before. Can’t fault her for that. I’m pretty sure as active as she was, being confined with no real goal or purpose to her days must be terribly frustrating.

There are several new tenants in her board and care. One lady is older than my mom which pleases her to no end. She mentions often she’s tired of being the oldest chick in the hen house. In her fifties during her mid-life crisis, as she called menopause, she refused to devulge her age. She began to shave years off so fast at one point we calculated I was actually older than she was. For me I don’t mind telling my age. Not saying the number out loud doesn’t make me any younger. My view of aging is if the universe allows we’ll all be ten, twenty, thirty, etc. Each stage has it’s pluses and it’s minuses. Not sure I’d go back if I could. Would I want to be back in high school again? There isn’t enough money. Sometimes I think I’d like to revisit my forties but I don’t believe that’s in the contract. Soooooo, I yam, what I yam and that is it. I still feel like a kid so will have to be satisfied with that. Thankfully I’m still healthy and agile which is such a bonus. It pleases me I am still able to be surprised, amazed, disappointed and enlightened so there’s still much work to be done, places to go, things to be accomplished. I’m signed up for a clay class this month. Always wanted to try sculpting. We shall see what comes of that.

Have a great and productive day.

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At last writing I was getting ready for a garage sale. I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve orchestrated over the years. Neighborhood sales are the perfect way to get rid of all that stuff you haven’t laid eyes on since Reagan was president and a nice way to get to know your neighbors and make new acquaintances.

My daughter and I woke up at 4 a.m. Saturday to get things set up. Thankfully they had electricity over the week, where I did not due to the PG&E outage, so she was already ahead of the game. Traffic around her area was totally impacted on my way to her house the previous night. I believe the mass of vehicles was because they live in Roseville, a northern California city about twenty minutes north of Sacramento, which is a major shopping hub for the Sierra Nevada foothills residents. Many people living in the mountains and lower foothill communities were without power for multiple days. Though living in the tall trees is a lovely place to be, if you’re looking for malls and the larger chain stores you will not find them up there. Presumably the endless lines leading into the big box stores as I made my way down one of the main drags was a direct result of people needing to replace spoiled food lost during the outage. I know in my refrigerator unless you can come up with a recipe using catsup and ice, you need to look elsewhere for your dinner plans.

Garage sales to me are reminiscent of the outdoor markets popular in medieval times where people congregated to buy, sell, or trade their items. Not to say I have first hand knowledge of such places. I am getting a bit long in the tooth but not quite that long. However, from what I’ve read about feudal communities back then, these markets were a place for people to gather and exchange goods and services, pass on news from one village to the next, and sell their produce or livestock or perhaps barter in exchange for something they themselves needed.

At most garage sales you price items low but a little above what you would secretly hope to get for them. People like to dicker. Makes them feel, or it does me, like I’ve gotten a bargain. However, I have to say I never cease to be amazed at the need for some people to haggle on an item originally purchased for $90 now on sale for $3 still unwrapped and in the box. Do we really have to have an offer and counter offer on such an item? One lady wanted to buy a brand new blender marked at five dollars for $1.50. It works perfectly and I offered to plug it in and pulverize an apple if it would ease her mind as to the condition of the appliance. Now bear in mind she drove up in a very expensive Mercedes sporting Ferragamo sunglasses and carrying a Michael Kors handbag. Somehow I didn’t get the impression she was sweating where her next meal was coming from. She went on to explain she only had $2.00 and wanted another item marked $3.00 for $.50 to complete her purchase. Wow spending the whole wad at my sale. Really? I was terribly tempted to give her a brochure from the local food bank I volunteer for in case she could avail herself of their services, but held my tongue and watched as she packed my blender in her trunk along with what appeared to be dozens of other purchases. Uh-huh. Truth is it’s not that I’m an easy mark, but I went there to come home lighter and with that intention in mind I accepted her generous offer with a smile and tucked the $2.00 in the till. Later I found the rubber o-ring for blender on the floor behind the display. Karma, as they say, is a well, you know. I would have happily forwarded the part to her if I knew which street corner she was carrying her sign on.

Between the three of us in the garage we all did our share to unload the bounty. My daughter was born to work with people. She has a warm and welcoming personality and would take off her shoes and give them to you if she felt you didn’t have any to wear. The expression “she never met a stranger” definitely applies to my oldest child. A cancer by birth, she throws herself into her interactions with fellow humans with passion and verve and has an innate sense about people paired with keen intuition. I, on the other hand, am a scorpio. Though hardly a shrinking violet, I am a little more cautious when meeting people, being more likely to size them up first before approaching. Once comfortable though I am very good at working a crowd. My son-in-law for his part just wanted to reclaim the half of his garage that has been storing all my excess household goods as well as my mother’s and their own so would happily have packed up the whole kit and kaboodle in the back of any taker willing to drive off with them. Between the three of us we managed to talk to lots of interesting people while unloading about 3/4 of the items by the end of the day. Yay.

I am glad the garage sale is behind me. The past two weeks have been an exhausting blur of activity and I am pleased to see another to-do item completed. Slowly the left side of my list with numerous items to be accomplished by the close of the year is whittling down to a more manageable size. Perhaps there will be a day coming up where I can put my feet up, pour a cup of pumpkin spice tea, and catch up on my book marked at the same page since my mother broke her hip.

Sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m really not. I’m grateful for every day I have with my mother. She has been there for me and I will always be there for her. Someone told me the other day I had good manners. Automatically I attributed that to being brought up in a household where manners were considered an integral part of everyday life. Thank you Mama. Thank you for so many things you have taught me over the years. Certainly to be strong is at the top of the list. The women who shaped my life were all strong in their own way. My two lovely aunts, my grandmothers, and my mother each brought different things to the table for me to draw from.

The bit of self indulgent whining is only tired feet and a tired mind. Taking care of yourself is a big enough job in this unsettled and complicated world but adding another person to the mix makes the job two fold. Sometimes even when performing a service with love, you need to give yourself a pass if you occasionally get cranky or wish you could just crawl in the closet with a bag of Double Stuf Oreos and close the door. Nobody can be everything to everybody every day. Can’t be done. All you can do is show up and do the best you can, remembering to throw in a little self love here and there for good measure. Take a breath, pick up that book, and if even if just for a moment draw in some deep cleansing breaths. The glorious thing about life is that whatever you are going through right now will not always be the template for the way your life looks. This, like so many situations, is only a temporary state of being.

I have learned so many things about myself over the past year since Rick passed away. I can stand alone, perhaps sometimes on wobbly legs, but I am standing. I wake up every day and do my best to make it count even if it’s only in small measures like cleaning my house or pruning my flowers. As the months pass I have recovered my joy again and a renewed interest in living a full and fulfilling life while I am here.

So here’s to clearing out the clutter both figuratively and literally. To starting fresh and traveling lighter.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.”
………Dr. Seuss

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A lot going on in the news of late. Very unsettling way to spend an hour first thing in the morning before consuming your allotted amount of caffeine. Sometimes I just tune it out, opting for something easier on my brain before it gets revved up to its full momentum for the day. I’ve been thinking seriously about exploring meditation or yoga as forms of relaxation. So far these remain in the thinking stage, but at least they are floating around up there with the rest of the things I’m thinking about doing probably tomorrow, maybe the next day, or perhaps this coming weekend.

Usually I am not a procrastinator. Many of the things I was taught as a child were thrown against the wall and ended up sliding back down, but some suggestions actually stuck. One, from my grandmother, was do the thing you least enjoy doing first rather than placing it at the end of the list. That way you get it over with and it doesn’t hang over your head while you’re doing whatever else came before it. I adhere to this in most things. Take bathrooms, for example. I find nothing stimulating in any way about scrubbing the toilet bowl, pulling hair out of the shower drain, or removing soap scum. Do I enjoy a clean bathroom? Certainly. That being said someone has to clean it and low these many years I’ve never noticed any hands going up when I suggested it might be someone other than myself.

At the moment I feel like I’m trying to manipulate an eight man scull with one oar in the water. To begin with, my mother is in a skilled nursing facility recovering from a broken hip. Being an only child, and with my two kids and their families scattered about and busy, this requires a heavy commitment of time on my part. I have groups and appointments that have been moved around and juggled to the point my day planner looks like a five year old scribbled the entries with a kindergarten pencil.

My house, though not large, continues to distribute dust and crumbs at an alarming pace, and though I am taking a stab at keeping up with this progression, sometimes it feels as though I’m losing the race. The thought has occurred to me to hire someone to clean the house, but this thought is generally overridden once I consult my bank account for available funds to make this happen. Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, though a dainty eater insists on removing each kibble from her bowl and chewing it to shreds over the floor creating a pile of large and small debris suitable for keeping a cat shelter going for several months. Yesterday I stepped on a particularly large chunk and spilled coffee all over my pants trying to right myself before I ended up in a bed next to my mother.

Something I have observed when your schedule starts to blink “overload, overload”, is you begin to do really stupid things. Now, I am the first to admit I often do dumb things as a rule of thumb, but I mean really mind numbing idiocy. Yesterday I had to run to the grocery store after being unable to think of one meal I could pull together with yellow mustard and sour cream. Racing though the aisles I piled on whatever looked good, was two for one, and I remembered I was out of and went through the checkstand. It had begun to rain at a fairly heavy pace when I pushed the cart out the front door. Locating my car I pushed the “open trunk” button on my remote and attempted to do just that. Nothing. Fine, now the remote was broken. Again I pushed a button, this time for the car itself. Nothing. Stupid remote, stupid manufacturer, why is it pouring? Finally I looked inside the car to see an In n Out cup sitting in the cup holder. Hmmmm. The last time I’d had an In n Out burger was a year ago. A light blinked in an otherwise dark chamber in my mind allowing a cognizant thought to emerge. “This is not my car.” Got it.

This vein of stupidity has run through my entire week. It’s like a wicked fairy tapped me on the head casting a spell where 40 IQ points were immediately erased from my intelligence quotient, leaving me with the brain capacity of a domestic turkey. This yet another reason you shouldn’t leave me out in the rain. Duh, and more duh. I put my trash out on Thursday which would have been excellent was it not for the fact that was the trash pick up day at my old house. The new house has trash pick up scheduled for Wednesday mornings. I’m sure the gardener will be pleased to note the clippings from last weeks trimmings are still poking nearly to the top of the compost bin. Sorry. Don’t hate me because I’ve been struck stupid. Hopefully, this will pass.

To add to my prefrontal cortex malfunctions, I have a head cold. This means I either need to abstain from visiting my mother or wear a face mask. If you have ever tried to breathe with one of these masks over your nose when your nasal passages are tighter than Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s abs, you would understand why this option is not at the top of my list. That being said, I have opted to rest in place for the day, binge on old movies, and face the mask tomorrow after two or three dosings of Airborne and some rest. Check please.

On another note, I have to say it was wonderful to see the rain. Thankfully summer in the Sierra Nevadas didn’t dole out it’s usual bounty of sweltering days this year. Summer passed on a somewhat milder note keeping devastating fires off the front page as often and making for more tolerable days outside.

With the rain accompanied by the first dusting of snow in the mountains fall is dropping hints it’s just around the corner. There’s something about autumn that stirs my soul more than any other season of the year. The glorious colors bursting forth on the trees, the rich earthy smell after a good downpour, and my three favorite holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas lining up on the horizon.

Cooking begins to cross my mind this time of year as well, Delicious meaty stews, comforting soups, and the king of the birds (at least to eat) the turkey. Yum and more yum.

As the calendar rolls over to October I will begin digging in the storage shed for the Halloween decorations tucked away in their orange bin. Since I have enough bins to start a department store I have found color coding preferable to spending an afternoon opening one lid after another trying to determine what lies beneath it. Red and green for Christmas, orange for Halloween, well you get the idea.

Monday has arrived on the scene again. The week before me is jam packed so I am gearing up to prepare for it armed with the industrial pack of Airborne for my cold and a mega sized cup of coffee to get my blood moving. Have a great week. Take a chance or two, hug your kids often, say hello to a stranger, and discover something new about yourself.

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