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Hindsight being 20/20, I am fervently wishing I had taken better care of my first Barbie this morning. Apparently, some of the original versions of the doll are selling in the half million dollar range. Drat the luck. Mine, I would hazard a guess (or bio-hazard as the case may be), is resting at the bottom of a garbage dump somewhere in Southern California most probably enjoying a very bad hair day.

Even now, I can remember the excitement when my mother took me to the toy store to purchase my first Barbie doll. They had just burst on the market. Every little girl worth her starch wanted to own one of her own. Mother let me pick her out. She had blond hair, impossible proportions, and was wearing a one piece bathing suit. Several outfits were added to the purchase, so she had a choice of attire beyond swim wear. Toy stores were magical places for kids in those days. Shelf after shelf, stocked to the edges with colorful boxes directly off Santa’s wish lists. There were baby dolls with bonnets peeking at you with pursed lips out of plastic windows, followed by Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs in cardboard cylinders. For boys, dump trucks and racing cars, and for the little ladies, Easy Bake Ovens accessorized with miniature kitchens. Aisles lined with bikes and trikes, next to those filled with skates, sleds and metal toboggans for the snow. With Toys R Us closing their doors in 2018, toy stores such as I knew them when I was a child, became virtually obsolete. Makes me sad. Kids today kind of miss out on the joyful outlets we had available to my generation when we were small.

The marketplace at the time was populated with a lot of small, specialized businesses rather than behemoth enterprises like you see today such as Costco,Walmart, or Amazon. If I wanted to buy a paint by numbers, I went to the hobby shop. For new phones, I shopped at the phone mart. And, if I had a craving for ice cream? Yup, I went straight to the ice cream store. A much more personal approach then is in place these days, or at least I found it to be so. There was even a general store around the corner where I could take my allowance and buy penny candy out of jars. When I walked in the door they called me by name and as I left asked to be remembered to my mother when I got home.

Signs in front of buildings advertised personalized services such as alterations, typewriter repair, jewelry repair, and all manner of small individualized shops where men and women worked who had been plying their craft for years, often as they parents had before them. The other day I needed a pair of boots resoled. I literally could not find a shoe repair within a reasonable driving distance, or even within an unreasonable one. This reminded me of the last time I had taken a pair of Rick’s shoes in to have a heel put on. The owner of the shop mentioned in passing he was retiring. While writing down my contact information, he went on to explain many “artisans” like himself, were being phased out. Writing this, I can still imagine the smells and sights inside that little store. There were shoe frames, tools and vices lined up along his unbelievably cluttered work counter. Behind the counter, along the back wall, stood a bank of wooden cubbyholes, each available space filled with pairs of shoes either already repaired or still waiting to be done. I rather enjoyed the ripe smells of shoe polish mingled with the aroma of machine oil. I guess, as he said, true old school kind of artisans like that himself have become passe with the advent of the technology age.

In middle school, if my bicycle was in need of a new chain, or I wanted to pick up a shiny new lock, I headed into town to visit the bike shop. The owner of the shop, Mr. Michaels, was also the youth group leader at our church on Sundays. Always, he was there greeting customers with a broad smile on his face. I wondered at times if the man slept in the back room. Next door, was the appliance shop where I went with my mother when she needed a new toaster or to find a replacement for an old coffee perculator. These small businesses disappeared so breathlessly, I guess it took me a while to notice they were gone.

Often on a weekend, my mom and I would gather her filled S&H Green Stamp books and take them to the stamp redemption store. S&H Green Stamps were given out in sheets to customers by local merchants. The number of stamps you were given were directly in proportion to the amount of your purchase. The stamps were pasted into books, usually my job. When enough books were filled, they could be redeemed for items chosen from the S&H catalog.

The main drag in Covina, California, my stomping grounds from the beginning of middle school until I graduated from high school, was lined with small mom and pop establishments such as described above. My friends and I would ride our bikes downtown on lazy summer afternoons. On Saturdays, the first stop would usually be the old movie theater. After filling our pockets with Junior Mints and Jujube’s we’d find seats in the balcony. Two movies and cartoons were yours for the price of admission. Afterwards, we would head across the street to the malt shop for a vanilla shake or a cherry coke, or head down the street to Orange Julius for something citrusy to whet our whistles.

There were also two garages or filling stations in the downtown area. My stepfather, a teacher, worked at one of them while on hiatus during the summer months. He and my mother always existed slightly above their means. Mum was born with the shopping gene which she passed on to me. Teachers had the option to take all their pay (such as it was) during the school year, or spread it out equally throughout the twelve months. Always a little short, he took the full amount while school was in session. This left him scrambling to find employment to keep things moving along seamlessly when school was on summer break. Though he and only I tolerated one another on the best of days, I have to say he was a neat man, always taking pride in his appearance. It must have taken it’s toll when he was working at the garage to perpetually have grease under his well manicured fingernails. After work, I would find him at the kitchen sink scrubbing furiously with a nail brush to try to get the black off. While at work, he was required to wear a crisply pressed brown uniform with “Dennis” written across the pocket, and a ball cap with the name of the oil company covered his bald pate. When a car pulled up to the pumps, Dennis came out with a spray bottle and washed their windows. While the tank was being filled, he also checked the oil, water, and tires. Seems funny to think of that now. Most times, unless you need a cup of coffee or a snack, or your card doesn’t work at the self-serve kiosk, you never see employees in a gas station at all.

Bakeries are another small business you see less and less of. In high school I took an after school job at one of the local bakeries. The bustling shop was run by an Italian couple, and staffed by their four children (three boys and a girl), myself, and two other part-time employees, also female. The patriarch, a reedy man in his late fifties never seen without a Camel cigarette dangling from his lower lip was, aside from being a gifted baker, a bit of a letch. The Mrs., a generously cut woman, enjoyed eating her baked goods as much as she did baking them. She ran the business and her wandering eye husband with an iron fist. Hair tightly secured with an unflattering hair net, she could be seen mixing the delicate cream for the eclairs with one hand while slipping a finished one into her mouth with the other. Her outstanding features were three long hairs, which though she plucked on occasion, always seem to reappear in the creases of her fleshy chin. To add insult to injury, her parents had named her Mabel, not leaving her much to live up to.

The children were both totally undisciplined and rude, not the most charming combination. When their parents were absent from the shop, they would run totally amok. Several times I saw one of them swat flies found in the display cases with a dirty fly swatter, killing them directly on the pastries where they had landed. Removing the carcasses, they would leave the items where the carnage occurred in the case to be sold to unwitting future customers. If I ever caught them doing this, I disposed of the tainted pastries, and made it a rule never eat out of the cases even though we were allowed to as a perk of the job. I lasted nearly six months on that job before a pinch on my behind became one pinch too many and I left my first paying job to work at the bowling alley scoring games for the weekend leagues.

Seems like a simpler easier time as I write about it. Maybe my memory has fogged the glass, I don’t know. These days it feels like a lot of stress and rush, rush, rush has seeped through the cracks. I hope today finds you relaxed, done with your holiday shopping, your feet up on the coffee table enjoying a warm cup of Christmas cheer.

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Its a welcome sight, watching the rain slither down the window. Huge leaves litter my yard, the air is crisp, and I am tucked away warm and snug inside. Life is good. My kitchen is set up for cookie baking today. The mixer is resting on the counter surrounded by bags of flour and sugar waiting for me to work my magic. Though I’m not a sweet eater myself, a basic flaw in my DNA, I do enjoy baking for friends and family. As with everything in 2020, distribution of my baked goodies will have to look different this year. I may have to send them reindeer mail.

It has been over a month since my positive Covid test. Other than the Covid Brain symptoms still fogging up my thinking processes, I am virtually symptom free. According to the medical professionals I have spoken with, I am no longer a danger to myself or others. Well, at least, with regard to spreading the virus. Have to admit, I do still feel a bit like Typhoid Mary. If I tell someone I had the bug but have recovered, they seem to study me closely with one eyebrow lifted as if I was either openly oozing bacteria or lying about being on the mend. If I sense hesitation, I don’t take it personally, but rather chock up it up to the person erring on the side of caution. I get that, I really do.

With the vaccine beginning to circulate, there is now a shard of light at the end of the tunnel. It will be a glorious day indeed when we finally step out from beneath this heavy blanket of fear and suffering into the light again. Perhaps we will value our freedom and our loved ones on a far deeper level because of this? I know I will be grateful for small things like sitting at a table in a coffee shop with a friend, planting a kiss on one of my grandchildren’s cheeks, or simply stepping outside with my face fully exposed to the sun. I have promised myself never to take these small blessings for granted again once this pandemic is put to bed.

While we are waging war on Covid-19, Russia has been busy digging around in our lingerie drawers looking for whatever secrets they can root out, our legislators are searching for ways to undermine our democracy, and unemployment and hunger continue to be alarmingly on the rise. Just another day at the office. Tiring of it all yesterday, rather than turning on the news and immersing myself in the insanity, I turned on holiday music and allowed my assaulted psyche a day of R&R. It was lovely. In my years on this planet I don’t remember a more turbulent political climate than the one the United States is currently experiencing.

I kind of look at all this this way, just because your folks are loon toons does not mean you have to be. We are all given personal choice to regulate how we behave. That being said, I choose rational and logical as the paths for my thought processes. It is both amazing and unsettling to see how quickly irrational thinking can grab the reins and steer the team down the wrong path in the woods. One person with power and influence can spread discord quickly, allowing it to permeate others like an out of check cancer.

I’m trying, but not always succeeding, to elevate my thinking, choosing to look at the miracles around me and not just concentrate on the derision. Yesterday, I went to get my blood drawn. It was a fasting test, so I sat in the waiting room stomach growling, craving my overdue dose of morning caffeine. Immediately after surrendering my arm for the expected bloodletting, I drove across the street to the Starbuck’s drive thru and got in line. Pulling up to the window to pay for my order, a cheery employee told me the car in front of me had paid $5.00 towards my order Really? I just loved that and immediately felt my heart smile. I thanked her, and asked to pass it on to the car behind me. Now I don’t know, but I’d like to think, this carried on down the line. What a nice gesture. Whether this act of kindness stopped with me or kept on going, it made me happy and started my day in a positive note which remained with me the rest of the day. Yay. We are the guardians of our moods, and it is within us to guide them in the direction we would like them to go.

Today is a different day all together. So far today I am on a roll in the stupid is as stupid does department. First, I dropped my house phone on the floor and lost the piece connecting it to the power supply. Now neither the phone nor I have left the house since the unfortunate accident, but do you think I can find that little plastic piece? Nooooooo. I have looked everywhere. Perhaps this is a sign from the dinosaur phone gods saying, “Susie, get rid of your stupid land line. Nobody in this century has land lines anymore.” I do, and a piece has now gone missing. Sigh. I keep the land line because in case of an emergency 9-1-1 can track your land line but not your cell phone. Ah well, I’m not going to fight the elements. It will show up in a potted plant, or stuck to the bottom of a chair one of these days, undoubtedly two days after I’ve tossed the phone and bought a new one. Murphy’s Law at work in plain sight.

Immediately following the strange plastic thingy disappearing I was going into my bedroom, a not unfamiliar landscape for me, and slammed my knee hard into the side of my nightstand. Now, this nightstand had not recently been moved by a mysterious intruder here to simply rearrange my furniture. It was in the same spot it has resided for two and a half years and yet I didn’t see it. I don’t suppose I can attribute this to Covid brain as well? The list of blame on the virus is getting long. So, I now have a huge bulbous knot on my knee which not only hurts but looks rather unattractive. Thank God for extra strength Tylenol, manna of the gods.

I shall say goodbye for now. I am off to create deliciousness in my kitchen. Hopefully, I will emerge with tins of yummy cookies and all my digits accounted for.

Happy Thursday to you. Stay safe and pass on a little kindness.

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Contracting this damnable virus has put my life on hold for the past two weeks. Accomplishing even normal tasks such as doing a few dishes in the sink or picking up clutter feel like monumental tasks. I am so grateful I’m not in a hospital somewhere hooked up to a machine to guarantee my next breath, but have to admit it’s difficult for a neatnik such as myself to deal with watching my house getting totally out of control. My dust bunnies have their own little garden to play in under my kitchen table and Miss Boo has gone completely rogue and has distributed her rather large family of stuffed mice all over the living room carpet. Let’s don’t even discuss the lovely layer of accumulated dust now decorating every surface. Seriously, let’s don’t discuss it.

I bought a turkey in spite of being ill. According to the directions it wouldn’t be cooking itself. Too bad, this year I would have paid extra for that. I ordered a very small bird – 10-12 pounds, but because people are leaning towards smaller gatherings this year there aren’t many small birds to go around. Consequently, I got a very large bird who’s drumsticks provided enough meat for myself and my roomie alone not taking into account the rest of the meat on the bird. I can see turkey soup, turkey casserole, and turkey sandwiches looming in my future. Truth is my appetite is not what it could be right now. Thankfully, my sense of taste and smell is beginning to slowly return to normal. For an old foodie like me, this is a happy situation.

People are traveling this holiday in spite of dire predictions of what is to come if they do. The urge to be with our families I guess supercedes good sense. Perhaps, if I hadn’t just gone through this siege with COVID, I might have been more inclined myself. For me, having experienced it first hand, giving this to someone I love would be inexcusable. That being said, I will content myself knowing they are out there and they love me. For this year, this will have to be enough.

I have so many years of turkey day memories to lean on should I get lonely. Our family get togethers are always peppered with the usual holiday horror stories like when our cocker spaniel, Ginger, stole the bird right off the bread board while twenty-five of us were seated at the table eating our Thanksgiving dinner. Also, like many of you who have related similar tales of woe, there was the year I cooked the bag of giblets in the turkey. When it was discovered while carving I got very upset insisting I had never put anything in the bird before cooking it. Who knew? In my defense it was my first turkey, and my first large dinner party. My mother, a wonderful cook, was a working mother and there wasn’t much time in her schedule for cooking lessons. When I got married at nineteen I knew how to cook scrambled eggs, toast and cold cereal. Amazingly, we didn’t die of malnutrition that first year. I credit In ‘n Out and Arby’s with providing what food did show up on our plates in those early days. Finally, stepping into our second year together armed with The Joy of Cooking, a Christmas gift from my then father-in-law, I embarked on the quest to learn about recipes and seasoning.

I’m still trying to get the hang of virtual grocery shopping. I ordered a pound of bananas and when the order arrived I found one large banana in the bag. Next time to ensure I got enough of what I needed I ordered three pounds of Brussels sprouts which arrived in what looked like a 33 gallon trash bag. We will be enjoying the petit chou for every meal for the next two weeks. Sigh. There are “personal shoppers” selecting your items. Some are very good I find. They are supposed to always check with you before making a substitution. Sorry gentlemen, but my experience has been the ladies out shop the men every time particularly when it comes to substitutions. One man, when I had requested a pound of ground beef sent me a package of frozen White Castle burgers, where another one substituted frozen broccoli and cauliflower for the meat I had ordered. No matter how hard I try I cannot make a burger out of frozen vegetables. Now I either check “no substitutions” when I place the order or make sure I’m vigilant while the shopper is in the store so I don’t end up with a box of SOS when I asked for graham crackers.

I’m glad Thanksgiving is done now. I did it, we ate, the turkey got cooked, and I am currently over it. Thank you, thank you very much. As usual I did not get through the day without a disaster of sorts. This one really chaps my hide. I didn’t realize I had given my daughter all of my roasting pans. I guess when I moved in here Rick had just passed away and somehow in my grief stricken mind I decided I wouldn’t be celebrating the holidays. Now here I sat with a huge bird and nothing to cook it in. I would happily have gone to the store and picked up a roaster but I am currently quarantined. When I looked into having one delivered I discovered I could have a $3.99 tossable roasting pan delivered for a mere $42.00. Not. I’d make one myself before doing that. So I came up with a genius idea. Yup, I’m full of them. I used my largest glass casserole. The bird actually fit in the pan but the legs stuck over the end. Another light bulb went off in my brain. I would create a tin foil structure under the glass pan to catch any drippings. Also, just in case of excess dripping I laid a piece of tin foil on the bottom of the oven. Now, some of you who know what a novice move this was are shaking your head right about now. You’ve either done this or know better than to do it. At some point the drippings made it to the lower lining of tin foil and when I went to take it off the bottom of the oven and toss it, it wouldn’t come off. Oh-oh. Finally I got the majority of it off leaving about eight small squares still adhering to the metal. Darn. Leaning into the oven I noticed writing towards the front of the bottom. It read, “Do Not Place Aluminum Foil on Bottom of Oven”. Swell. So, I decided to clean the oven in the hopes it would come off. It did not. I went on the Internet, because it has all the answers. I found several sites where other stupid people who had done the same thing had posted suggestions on how to remedy the situation. First thing they all said is do not use the self-clean. Insert expletive here. I am so careful with this house. My grandma always taught me you take better care of other people’s things than you do your own. My landlords bought this new oven the beginning of summer to replace the original one which went south. Sigh. I’m going to chock this disaster up to not feeling well. Sometimes you just have to accept what is and get over yourself. Hasta la vista cleaning deposit. Ach.

My sweet daughter drove my Christmas tree over yesterday and left it in my backyard. I’m sure she took a bath in Lysol after she left here and I wouldn’t blame her. Hosting this bug makes you feel a bit like a leper. I peered at her out the window and waved but sure do miss giving my girl a hug and a kiss but life is what it is at the moment and I have to keep reminding myself nothing lasts forever.

So, today I shall decorate my tree and watch holiday movies. That always puts a smile on my face. Hope your holiday was a good one including lots of good food on your table, and if not in person, virtual get togethers with friends and family.

I’m going to begin and finish my holiday shopping this weekend. Have no good idea what to buy for everyone but I shall persevere.

Talk soon. Stay safe.

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“I got the Covid-19 blues, na na na na na, hurt from my head to my shoes, na na na na na”. I am here on the front lines, and by that I mean I am currently hosting a virus party in my own personal body, and am here to report this is a bug not be taken frivolously. For those of you, like some friends in my circle, who are still toying with the idea this virus is some sort of politically motivated hoax or a product of media hype I assure you it is quite real. My bug came to me courtesy of a friend who had it but thought he had a head cold. He was sick three days, and I am on day eleven. I have asthma, and my age and that weakness in my lungs puts me at greater risk. Thank God the symptoms seem to be retreating.

So many people have asked me what my symptoms were. From what I understand the severity and range of symptoms varies considerably but I thought it might help to share my experience. The first day I just felt blah. Not much energy, slightly off my feed, and generally just unwell with no specific complaints. Not having much of an appetite that first night I made a bowl of soup, got down half a sandwich and went to bed early. Around midnight I awoke to the most amazing muscle pains. It felt like someone had been pummeling me in my sleep, even my skin and my teeth hurt. Then the headache showed up. Let me preface by saying I rarely suffer from headaches of any kind. I think the last bad headache I had was probably fifteen years ago after an unfortunate incident involving me and a bottle of Gray Goose at a holiday party.

Within a twelve hour period I went from feeling mildly ill to feeling like a freight train had run over me. Next the cough arrived and sort of a general heaviness in my upper respiratory system. I contacted my doctor and was redirected to a respiratory clinic for suspected Covid-19 patients. At the clinic I was tested for both flu and the virus, both tests administered by long nasal swabs. The flu test, a fifteen minute wait, concluded it was not he flu. Okay. The Covid test I was told would take up to 2 days. I went home and found a soft spot to curl up in. My appetite seemed to have taken a vacation but I ate something and went to back to bed. The following night the phone rang quite late. The test results had come back positive for the virus. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Funny, we always think it will happen to someone else. I am the first person in my circle who has tested positive. This set off a ripple effect among my family and friends making the virus situation we are in suddenly much more real.

I’m cautiously optimistic though each day presents itself differently than the day before. Today I feel sick and begin to perspire if I do too much too quickly. I’m a dreadful patient, and lying around is definitely not my normal M.O. but when your body decides to go rogue you have to give in to it and do the best you can. The treatment has been fluids, in my case Prednisone, breathing treatments, Vitamin C, D, Zinc and Musinex flu. It’s a lot but the combination seems to be having the desired effect. Rest is a big part of the recovery process as well. I get fatigued easily. I get up and do things around the house and then have to take a nap. Another annoying side effect is that my sense of taste and smell seem to be diminished. This, hopefully, will right itself down the road.

I am thankful today that I am at home, warm and safe and that each day I add a little strength back into my routine. Hopefully we will march into 2021 with much less on our plates and perhaps much needed relief from the stress and constant disruptions 2020 has presented itself with.

For me, I am going to go to my grateful space. My turkey is being delivered by the local grocery store today. Many things may be happening in my world but by God that turkey is showing up on my plate on Thursday surrounded by all it’s best friends. If can tap into a little jet power I will make my favorite pie, cheddar and apple, to enjoy after my turkey dinner. I am including the recipe below for those of you who might like to try it. It was one of Rick’s favorites and I will think of him this year and can’t help to wonder what he would make of all of this. As sick as he was his last few years it certainly wouldn’t have made things easier.

I am yearning to open all the boxes in my shed marked “Xmas” but this will have to wait. My son has three trees up already at his house this year. I have one friend who put her tree up the day after Halloween. I think people are needing to infuse some joy in this year by any means available to them.

I hope this finds you well. Do be careful. I say once more for emphasis this is not a joke this bug. It is relentless and exhausting but I see light at the end of the tunnel and am holding up my lantern to guide my way there.

Give this pie a try if you get a chance. So delicious.

Apple and Ripe Cheddar Pie

2 pie crusts
9 Granny Smith apples, sliced thin
14 thin strips of ripe cheddar cheese
1/2 cup butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Slice apples in piles of three apples each.

Place one pie crust in bottom of deep dish pie dish. Forming a circle rotate around piling apples one on top of the other. Take 1/2 of the cheese slices and form a ring in the middle of the apples.

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Repeat with apple layer, then cheese layer, then apple layer.

Place the other crust on flat surface. Cut into 3/4″ strips. Layer half the strips across one way and then the remaining strips back across them the opposite way leaving space in between like in a lattice. Crimp the edges together.

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Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, water, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and continue cooking for 5 mins. Remove from heat.

Pour over top of pie being careful not to drool over sides.

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Well, another Halloween, and for me another birthday, have been put to bed. Now the big boys of the holiday clan lie ahead, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Trying to get into my grateful mode, which involves being thankful for what I have, not what I am lacking, I am trying to resist sticking out my boo-boo lip at not spending these beloved holidays with my family. Covid has certainly changed the landscape of our world since it’s arrival on the scene, but in the old “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” line of thinking, if it is just myself, a dear friend, and Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, seated at the table we will proceed in a festive mood.

Watching the trick or treaters come up to the porch Halloween night to grab some candy out of the bowl I left for them on the chair, really served to accent how much has changed this year. To be honest, I was surprised to see any children at all. It felt a bit lonely peeking out at them through my curtain, but it made me happy to hear them giggle as they grabbed their treats and went on down the road to the next house with a welcoming light on.

November 1st was my birthday. Yup, I have gone and added yet another ring around my trunk. I know I’m beginning to be long in the tooth, but truth is, I still feel, and often act, like a kid. I intend to keep that inner child alive and active until I’ve made it to the end of my last mile here. Aging is one thing, but getting old, well, it’s simply not my style. My grandmother told me once when she was in her ninety-second year, “I am a eighteen year old girl, trapped in a ninety-year old body”. For some reason that always stayed with me. She was to remain with us until she was ninety-six. Her vision, hearing and sense of taste and smell were gone at that point and I believe she’d grown tired of her ever diminishing world and was ready to fall in step with my grandfather who’d left us some thirty years before. Sometimes I look at my mother and wonder how she feels about the whole program. Because she’s lost the ability to communicate her feelings succinctly due to the dementia, I suppose I will be left to wonder. I do my best to keep her safe and happy. Modern medicine has extended our time on earth, but not necessarily increased the quality of the extra time we have here.

I had the most unsettling dream several nights ago. In my dream, company was coming for Christmas. My living room was a sea of half opened boxes with ornaments, wreaths, and all manner of holiday decorations scattered around me on the carpet. There were other people in the room and the plan, as I understood it in my dream, was we were going to put up the tree and decorate the house. As I began to unpack the box next to me containing the tree segments, I realized I could not remember how they went together. As the dream continued, I became more and more confused and unable to comprehend how to do even the simplest of tasks such as using a tape dispenser. Though I’m not an expert on interpreting dreams, my best guess here would be this dream allowed me a window through with which to view my mother’s world since dementia took the wheel. Having a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s is like losing them one small piece at a time. Gradually, the person you once knew fades into the background. In my case, my mother is happy and content and can still engage with me in conversation (not how to split the atom, but simple conversation) and knows who I am and recognizes my children every time I visit. For this I am most blessed.

Sometimes I think this generation doesn’t understand the value of the older members of our population. Having lived for a long time, they generally have so much to share about what they have seen and much to contribute by way of wisdom as to what is going on in our world today. They are like old oak trees. When they are sprouts, trees have spindly, unsteady limbs and sparse foliage. As they grow and flourish, they fill out, providing lush shade for those beneath them and shelter for the birds and animals making their homes there.

My grandmother taught me much about the world. I like to think perhaps my grandchildren have learned a little something from me. As our grandchildren get older and become more independent they seem to need us less, but I don’t believe that to be true. What is true, is that when they are young we are super stars in their life but when they reach young adults we are replaced with devices and peers. That is the natural way of things. However, the bond we develop with them when they are youngsters should endure as they mature and grow into adulthood. I know I was still my Gammy’s “dear Little Susan” until the day she passed away.

I think of family a lot lately. It’s like when you’re on a diet and all you can imagine having is a greasy cheeseburger and a big stack of onion rings. Being without them is a life lesson. When having them back within hugging distance, I have promised myself never to take that privilege for granted again.

Another election is also complete, or at least the votes have been counted and a winner declared. Having so many voters show up to the polls with Covid on the move to cast their ballots, is a indication of how strongly citizens of the United States felt about the outcome of this race. Whichever side your allegiances fell, and whether you are pleased or disappointed with the winning ticket, at least it is over and perhaps we can all find some middle ground with which to begin a civil conversation again. I, for one, would like to see us all begin to work for common goals so we can get out of the current pot of stew we are in. Perhaps that is simply too idealistic of a goal, but at least to be able to open our minds to thinking other than our own might be a step in the right direction?

I had the overwhelming urge today to take my shoes off and run across the grass in my bare feet, so I did. Last night I danced with the cat. One must find their joy where they can.

Thanksgiving will not be traditional this year. Rather than whine about it, I will get a turkey and create all the side dishes. A friend of mine will come and we will have a socially distanced dinner with all the trimmings with a dish on the floor for Miss Boo and Maya, my friend’s dog. I will Zoom with my kids and he will with his. Hopefully, we can catch a game or two but there will be no Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade this year to enjoy over coffee. That being said, I’m going to find the original Miracle on 34th Street and get my fix of parade footage there.

So, change is in the air. Someone told me the other day that they found change very disconcerting. For me, change is simply the natural flow of life. Nothing, and I repeat, nothing, remains the same forever. With each wave that rolls into shore, thousands of bits of shells are rearranged into an entirely different pattern. Leaves fall, people move, children are born, and people die. Each day is a state of flux and we are left to drift along in the current and take each turn in the bend as it presents itself to us.

I leave you with my introspective musings and promise to come back with a lighter story on my next writing. Stay safe. Let’s clear the slate and write something new and upbeat on it to carry us forth.

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As Halloween approaches, or 2020’s version of it, my thoughts turn to ghosts and goblins. Trick or treating is being discouraged for obvious reasons this year. Humans beings , however, are innovative creatures. Several creative ideas have been floating around the Net on how to safely get candy to the door ringers even in this Covid driven environment. I have seen chutes, tubes, and one person even had some sort of air gun that propels the candy into the air hopefully to be caught up in Dracula’s cape or captured midair by a tiny superhero. It’s so sad to me to watch Halloween seem to fade off the calendar as the years go by. Before Covid people had already become leery of the holiday, afraid to allow their little ones out on the street lest they get abducted or arrive home with candy laced with drugs or stuffed with razor blades. Out of this fear, evolved something called Trunk or Treat. Really? The Readers Digest version of this event, is a bunch of cars lined up in a parking lot with their trunks open with candy inside. Costumed children then go from one car to the next yelling “trick or treat”. The trick here is convincing these kids they are having fun. As a kid I would have signed up for my mom to confiscate all my candy and substitute homemade cupcakes or candy apples from her kitchen to be let out Halloween night. I would even have done dishes for a week (at 10 that was huge), to convince her to allow me to participate in the goose bump generating experience of racing up to a shadowed doorway shrouded in cobwebs to ask for treats. Anything would seem preferable to standing at somebody’s BMW trunk and being handed a Milky Way. Brings to mind B.B. King’s famous song, “The Thrill is Gone”, a personal favorite.

Truth be said sometimes I feel the thrill is gone out of a lot of activities, and not only because this damnable virus is on the rampage. A lot of things I used to really enjoy have lost their luster due to all the massive information coming our way 24 hours a day via our devices and TV sets. As I have said many times, though I appreciate the benefits of having all this data at my fingertips, there is a high price to be paid for it. We used to seep blissfully in our tea of ignorance. Statistically we’re living longer, but are we having more fun? I wonder.

Such a contentious time in our history. If you watched the recent vote in the confirmation of our latest supreme court judge, it is hard to deny we are a severely divided nation. Last weekend pick up trucks barreled past me on the highway, huge American flags wafting in their truck beds and “Make America Great Again” stickers plastered on their bumpers. I believe we are all Americans (oh except me, I’m Canadian but proudly live in America) and the flag should carry equal weight whichever political affiliation you happen to identify with. This is still the United States, yes, not THEM and US? The American flag does not stand as a symbol for any one group to my mind other than Americans, unless they’ve recently passed a law to cover that as well. The same as what is revealed by a huge rip in the butt of a pair of old jeans, our back side is showing, and it is not a good look for us. Life used to feel more solid and secure then it does of late, and I for one don’t like the shift in the wind.

Halloween is yet another casualty of a year marked by illness, fear, anger, righteousness and indignation. In spite of the danger of infection, it is encouraging the number of people showing up at the polling centers to cast their ballots in the upcoming election. If nothing else, it shows people are passionate about who wins. I believe this lack of apathy is critically important to the health of this country as well as our personal health as we turn the page onto 2021.

My birthday, as I mentioned in my previous blog, is also coming up on November 1st. I have made a wish list of sorts. What I would like for my birthday this year is for the dust to settle for a while. I would love to see a good dosing of heavy rain fall over the coming winter months to fill our reservoirs and soak the dry and scorched land here in California where climate changes have revved the dial up to HOT turning our forests into raging firestorms. For a three week span, I want PG&E to not shut off the power, and lastly I would love to go out to dinner with all my dear friends and enjoy a meal at a nice restaurant and give each of them around the table a huge hug. I can’t have my wishes this year, but I am holding out for next year with undaunted optimism.

On a lighter note, I am going to visit my mom at her board and care as I do every Saturday. This year as it happens, Halloween also falls on Saturday. Yay. My daughter and I are going to paint our faces and pull on a crazy wig and sit in the garden and enjoy a piece of carrot cake with her sitting on the other side of her window with the other inmates. Sort of a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for the geriatric set. Truly, the best birthday present I could ask for, is having her still here to share my day with me.

My cobwebs are strung, my pumpkins carved, and I am ready to greet all hallows eve. The origins of the holiday date back to a Celtic holiday called Samhain. Samhain, marked summers transition into winter. This was a time, so they believed, the dead circulated among the living. Participants lit bonfires to help the dead transcend to the world beyond.

The undead and haunting are such compelling topics. Zombies capture the attention of movie goers and television viewers alike. There are so many unanswered questions in our world. Even after populating the earth for so many centuries, what lies in the abyss between death and the afterlife continues to captivate every culture and generation. Are there spirits who cannot move on? Many people believe there are. As always, I am open to all lines of thought. No one actually knows, unless I’ve missed something, so all options are still open for debate.

Back in the 70’s, I dated a man named Dave. After about six months of seeing each other, Dave bought a house in Whittier, California. If this house was not haunted, then one would have to describe it at the very least as just plain peculiar. The house itself was an unimposing single story home. According to paperwork, it had been built in the mid 1930’s. There were three bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, kitchen, and a bonus room that seemed to be an afterthought, attached by one wall to the living room. In addition to the usual list of rooms, there was a wine cellar located beneath the kitchen, accessible by drop down wooden stairs bolted to a trap door in the floor.

The day I was helping him move in, three former tenants stopped by to retrieve the last of their patio furniture. All three men were students at Whittier College. Before saying their goodbyes, they told us to watch out for the ghost in the house sharing stories of lights turning on, a cold feeling in the bonus room, and footsteps at night. Additionally, they said the original owner had died in house. According to them, the elderly woman was found at the base of the stairs in the wine cellar, her neck broken. Both of us laughed saying, “college kids, right”, and dismissed the conversation from our minds.

As a housewarming gift, I bought Dave a golden retriever puppy who would come to be called Max. Max and Dave became fast friends. After the two settled in, I was invited over for a weekend. Before I accepted, Dave said he had something to talk to me about. Okay. As he told it, odd things had been happening in the house once the sun went down. Ach. On several nights the lights turned off before he went to bed, were on again when he woke up in the morning. Also, one night he swore he heard someone walking across the hardwood floor in the living room. On investigating, though the room appeared empty, a sort of flowery fragrance floated in the air. Exit stage right.

Even with the creepy stories, I decided to accept his invitation. The first night passed uneventfully. Dave, Max and I slept uninterrupted and woke up to share a lovely day at the park and a barbecue in the beautifully landscaped backyard. The second night proved far more hair raising. About 2 a.m. I awoke to find Max at the foot of the bed, en pointe, growling at the open door. The light in the living room, off when we had gone to bed, was now shining a beam of light across the threshold to the bedroom. Watching in fascination, a shadow moved subtlely across the beam. “Mama.” Dave, sleeping still, jerked awake as Max began to bark loudly jumping off the bed and tearing out the door. Getting up, Dave and I walked in unison into the living room to find the light on, nobody evident, and all the items on the coffee table rearranged in a circle. Insert goosebumps here. Go ahead, insert them.

I continued dating Dave for another six months, but invited him to stay at my house if an overnight get together was in the offing. Though I appreciate a good ghost story, I don’t want to play one of the lead roles. How he stayed there I don’t know. The bonus room, in spite of a vent pumping in warm air, never heated up in the winter months. You could have hung a side of beef in there without ever having it turn bad. Lights went on and off, things were moved, and footsteps could be heard pacing at night. No, Baby. Not for this girl. Thank you very much.

Sooooooo, I wish you a spooky All Hallows Eve. Since you can’t go out, make a game out of it for the kids at home. My two and I used to make a tent out of a card table and blankets and tell spooky stories with flashlights under our chins.

Vote, vote, vote. This next week should be an interesting one. Have a good and safe day.

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Last night I packed a bag and went to the sleep center for a sleep study. According to my doctor, the results of the original in-home test I had taken a while back revealed my oxygen level dropping below normal levels for an extended period of time while I slept. This, it seems, is not a good thing.

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The staff at the center where I checked in for the evening were very accommodating. We “sleepers” were asked all the usual COVID related questions, then taken in one at a time from the parking lot to our rooms to await being hooked up to our monitoring equipment. Once fully connected, it was back to our rooms to enjoy a little cable TV or read until lights out where the actual observation begins. Amazingly, with electrodes attached to everything including my fingertips, I managed to log about seven hours sleep which is better than I often accomplish at home. Have to admit the beds were comfortable, and the rooms welcoming, so I didn’t let a little wiring and gear get in the way of some much needed beauty sleep. Opening my eyes around 5 a.m. I was immediately greeted by a voice on the monitor asking if I wanted to be unplugged “Yes, please.” I took a picture for posterity with all the equipment attached, but in the end, it seems even I have my pride, so I’m posting the above gentleman’s instead. On the catch and release program, I was set free at 5:30. My head looked like a Jackson Pollock of goo and hair giving me the look of an extra from Ghostbusters. Driving the half an hour drive home, I was so glad it was pitch dark and I made it home without getting pulled over. It if was illegal to get a ticket for being a hot mess in public, I definitely would have been given a citation.

The results are not in yet, but I have an inkling there is probably a CPAP lurking somewhere in my future. If that’s the worst thing I have to deal with, I will be doing all right. Thankfully, for the most part I am am blessed with good health. My mother, I believe, was kind enough to pass on some of her excellent genes. I’m counting on this as I begin to take a deep dive into my golden years. Even though my engine seems to still be in tip-top shape, and the chassis, though sitting a bit lower than it used to, isn’t too bad for it’s age, a problem or two has been popping up from time to time with the parts. Guess this is to be expected as the vehicle begins to show some significant mileage on it.

The idea of having someone observing me while I slept felt a bit “peep showish” to me. I’m quite sure they don’t staff their facility with lascivious voyeurs, nonetheless, we humans are at our most vulnerable when at rest so it makes you feel a bit exposed. Also, since I’ve never watched myself sleep, I wasn’t sure what new and exciting experiences I might bring to the table while under the spell of Morpheus. I do know when I sleep I am very active. Rick told me I often “breached” in the middle of the night, apparently the reference being a nod to whales. Thank you. This breaching, according to his account of it, involved me levitating my entire body in the air then rotating as one might do if flipping a pancake in a frying pan. Interesting. I’m sure that must have been a treat when he was trying to get some sleep. Also, I am a known cover stealer, rolling myself up in the blankets like a hot dog tucked in a croissant then resisting mightily if asked to give half back. Sorry.

On the flip side of the coin, Rick snored. This is a polite description of the noises he made while sleeping, restraint given only out of love for the man. There were times when I believed he would surely suck the draperies into his lungs, and even was concerned the cat might be in danger of being dragged into the gaping maw should she happen to wander by his open mouth during the night. For those of you who sleep with a loud snorer, you know exactly from whence I speak. What saved us, was I go to bed early and wake up early, where he was a creature of the night and went to bed a couple of hours before I was pouring my first cup of coffee for the day. So each of us only had to put up with the other’s idiosyncrasies for brief periods of time.

In 2002 we traveled to Europe for three weeks. Rick’s mother, Labiba, made her home in Paris for thirty years. While visiting, we stayed with her and ET, her Cairn terrier, in her lovely apartment. Even though she was born in Cairo, Paris held her heart. It was easy to see how she carried on a love affair with the city. While there, we packed in as many of the sights as we could, availing ourselves most days of the excellent public transportation system available in Paris. Driving, I have to say, was a bit stickier. Parisiennes, drive like Bostonians. This is not by way of a compliment. Drivers in both cities propel their vehicles along weaving in and out of lanes with their middle fingers up and their mouths set on rapid fire. In Boston, crossing the street always reminded me of those arcade games where the ducks moved along a conveyor belt while a customer tried to knock them down. Drivers in Boston follow much the same policy. The moment a pedestrian places a foot in the crosswalk, a green dot appears on their forehead and they’re fair game. Behind the wheel there isn’t much better. Once I got stuck in the inside lane of a rotary (they are fond of them) during rush hour when first in the state. I believe I celebrated a birthday before a driver finally left me enough room to move into an outside lane so I could exit on the other side.

After two weeks in Paris and one in London, we reluctantly boarded our plane at Orly Airport for the long trip home. Exhausted and with eight hours air travel before landing in New York, Rick decided to take a nap. The flight attendant suggested he might be more comfortable lying across the very back row of the coach section, as no one had purchased tickets to those seats. I remained in our assigned seats several rows up over the wing in the middle of the plane. Rick settled himself in. Before long the dulcet tones of his snoring rose above the typical sounds one would expect in an airline cabin to such an extent people began craning their necks or kneeling on their seats to see who had allowed a flock of Canada geese to board the plane. After sleeping for about an hour, he awoke refreshed to hear the entire group of coach passengers clapping in unison that his eyes were at last open and his mouth shut. Cringe. On arriving home, he set up an appointment with his doctor and after a sleep test a CPap was ordered. Peace once again descended over our humble home.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if we unveiled all our little secrets and personality quirks during our first dates? Most probably this would result in the world population diminishing by half. If we achieved the same comfortability with our bodily noises and functions that we have after being together for a long time during our initial meetings, there might never be a second meeting for any perspective couple. Better, I say, to ease into these little nuances of personality over a period of time rather than pour the whole can of wriggly worms out on the table and scare a possible bite away from the bait.

My mind turns to dating and personality quirks because I have been casually seeing a man I met in my grief group. It’s been over two years since Rick passed away. The last thing I was interested in was developing a new relationship, yet here I am doing exactly that. I’m not wading into deep water any time soon, but rather doing more of a gentle toe tapping on the surface to see what the temperature feels like. You can’t just go out and find another person and neatly slip him or her into the slot left empty by a loved one dying. However, you can create a new and different slot with unique edges and dimensions for a new person to insert themselves in.

As always, I am open to whatever life brings along, even though I may not necessarily continue in that direction once I’ve taken a long look at it. However, hopefully, I will always be curious enough and adventurous enough to explore the options presented to me, or better yet, create my own new options to explore.

As the days pass and we get to know each other, we sort of peel back the layers of the onion and look at what the next layer brings. When you have lived alone for awhile and are moving along the age chart, I think you become more “set” in your ways. For me, having someone who was messy wouldn’t sit well with me, nor a person who shares little common interests with me. With the political world becoming so contentious, I would prefer to get to know a man with like political affiliations or at least one willing to look at both sides of the coin and engage in an open discussion about the differences. Most people older than thirty are likely carrying some baggage along with them. My life, for example, is populated with children and grandchildren, friends, and activities. Whoever decides to walk along side of me, should anyone do so, would have to embrace these loved ones or at the very least be pleasant to them and that would hold the same for me.

For some people their exes would still be lingering on the periphery as well. This true particularly if they had children together, though in my case this it is not as my first husband has been gone a long time. As long as I don’t have to have the exes over for dinner every Sunday, or they don’t feel the need to remind me incessantly who had possession of the gentlemen in question first, I am totally fine to accept whoever comes along with the package.

As always life is interesting. This year it is beyond interesting being more along the lines of perplexing, difficult, unruly and a host of other adjectives that would still leave the description wanting. Just hard to get around everything going on in our world. I work at keeping my chin up, as well as my spirits. Every day I connect with friends, take a walk, look up something new and try to learn from it, keep pumping up my joy wherever I can.

Have a great Thursday. Stay safe.

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When Rick was alive he took care of all what I call the “guy things” in our relationship. Such things as car maintenance, insurance, even negotiating which cable channel was offering the best deal. He taught me to watch for offers on my credit cards so I could move any balances carrying interest rates over to my accounts offering 0 interest deals. Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve been on my own before, but no one had ever taken the time to actually teach me the little nuances of money management before Rick arrived on the scene.

Mother was always a hard worker and very responsible when it came to holding down a job. However, her penchant for shopping made it so sometimes more money went out the door than rolled back in. I would say going to the mall was Mother’s Achille’s heel. Many times I can remember her arriving home after a day of shopping and storing her ill gotten gains in my closet until my stepfather was safely out of the house. The new clothes, if noticed, would be sloughed off as “this old thing” or “don’t you remember I wore that to Patty’s barbecue last week”? My stepfather was a pretty good drinker, so for him to even notice a new blouse or an unfamiliar pair of pants it would have been through a pretty hazy lens.

The experts say traits can be passed down from one generation to the next, so it’s no surprise I also enjoy a good day in the stores. A successful day of shopping is something I sorely miss at the moment. With long lines, customer limits inside stores, and Covid bouncing about, it’s sort of taken the thrill of the chase out of it. The big difference between mother and I, is she enjoyed shopping at high end stores where I prefer a good bargain. Home Goods, for those of you familiar with the chain, is a home decor discount store with high end goods at discount prices. I could pitch a tent in their kitchen department and live out my days happily there.

Mother had personal shoppers at tony stores such as Nordstrom’s. These shoppers spent their days selecting clothing for their well-to-do clientele then alerting them of the goodies awaiting their review. Whew. I prefer the concept of getting four pairs of jeans for $125 rather than one pair of designer yoga pants for the same cash layout. Just the way I am.

Once I was in a dressing room at one of the more expensive stores. I asked, Sherri (with an “i”), the salesperson who had shown me to a dressing room, where the drinking fountain was. She peered over her glasses at me as if I’d asked if she minded if I relieved myself on the dressing room floor. In the snap of a pair of well manicured fingers, a glass of ice water with a lovely slice of lemon floating on top arrived on a tray at my dressing room. Thank you. There was another customer shopping in an adjacent dressing room. The woman was of large proportions, and having difficultly finding a flattering dress for an upcoming wedding. Not that I knew her in the least, we had met briefly at the large full-length mirror at the end of the bank of rooms, but she had shared her dilemma. Sherri with an I, however, was on the move. Several armloads of prospective outfits had come and gone as the woman continued her search. At one point, I emerged in something I was trying on to find both ladies standing in front of the mirror. The customer was wearing a large floral print dress so tight it looked like a sausage casing. The pink cabbage rose print was draped over a light pink lining and the whole thing was a visual disaster which did absolutely nothing for the woman beneath it. Sherri was flitting around this lady like a butterfly around milkweed. “Oh, this is soooooo you”!! Couldn’t believe it. She was actually encouraging this poor woman to be seen in public in this thing. The pattern reminded of something I’d seen on a couch in my piano teachers parlor. After Sherri left to gather accessories, the lady looked at me and raised one eyebrow. I shook my head quietly from left to right. Giving me a thumbs up she headed back to her fitting room and exited with nothing her hands the same time I did. Sorry, Sherri, I just couldn’t do it.

Used to be when you walked into Nordstroms, after adjusting your nasal passages to welcome the onslaught of designer fragrances and top drawer makeup, a pianist was seated at the baby grand for your listening pleasure. I read somewhere they put men’s clothes and shoes at the doors, because men are generally not the avid shoppers we women are so they want to catch them before they lose patience and walk out of the doors. Often I have seen the poor husbands seated on the padded benches outside of the dressing rooms holding their wives handbags in their laps. Waiting obediently for the next unveiling of whatever their other halves were trying on. Always felt a bit sorry for these men. From their shared expression of misery I would guess they had just about any other activity they’d rather have been engaged in than that.

When living in Boston a friend invited me to go shopping at a sale at Filene’s Basement. It was the lesser priced sister store of Filene’s, sort of an early relative of Nordtrom’s Loft. Having no idea what I had signed up for, I met her on a chilly morning outside the store’s doors at what seemed like the middle of the night. Apparently one had to get there early to get the bargains. OK. By the time the sun had fully assumed it’s position in the sky women, and some men were piling up behind us. When the store clerk finally opened the doors at the allotted time, it was a free for all. At first, I thought the headlines would simply read, “Small Blonde Woman Crushed to Death at Filene’s Holiday Sale”. Somehow, instead I was moved forward like a Tsunami pushing debris to the middle of the room, where the real mayhem ensued. People were grabbing clothes piled on tables, one lady literally tearing out an item I was holding in my hand. No dressing rooms were open for the event. With no place to change, shoppers were actually undressing the aisles to try on clothing, some perhap having less esprit libre, simply pulled a garment over the clothes they were wearing to check for sizing. It was insane. While attempting to find something I couldn’t live without to make the trip worthwhile, I noticed one woman eyeing the blouse I had on. “Forget about it lady. I just bought it and I’ll go to the mat for it”. Have to say it was an experience I have never forgotten.

My mom loved all clothing, but she carried on a particularly passionate love affair with her footware. Sorry, Mama, I’m letting this one out of the closet. Nothing of poor quality ever covered those lovely toes. Once I counted sixty-five boxes of shoes lined up across her closet shelf. When I accompanied her to her favorite shoe establishments she was always greeted by name, and the sales staff seemed to magically know what would be her pleasure in the selection they had available. Good going Mom.

When I was little, I believed my mother to be a fairy princess. I cannot remember her ever looking poorly pulled together or unkempt. Even when she had surgery she managed to look like she was receiving the Queen when I visited her in the recovery room.

Mother was a widow at twenty-seven. After about three years without companionship, she slowly slipped back into the dating pool. Being a lovely young woman from a prominent family, her dance card was nearly always full. When dressing for a date or a function her room would be a hub of activity. Discarded dresses would be strewn across the bed, and mother would be flitting about smelling seductively of dusting powder and Narcisse N’oir, her scent of choice. A small stool was made available to me at such times. Mother would be seated at her vanity getting ready to go out, or “putting her face on”, as she liked to say. Fascinated, I would sit and watch as she pulled the sterling silver brush through her long brown hair catching it up with a clip or letting it cascade down her back. I would mimic the way she pursed her lips in just her way to apply color to her lips. Often, when I could get away with it, after she went out I would sneak in her closet and stand on the footstool leaning against the side wall. Slipping a pair of heels out of one of the boxes, I would waddle awkwardly around her bedroom stopping at her dresser to dab a little perfume behind one ear as I’d so often seen my mother do. A shawl thrown across one shoulder, I would pretend to be off to the ball at the castle to dance the night away with the prince.

Funny how I can remember those times as clearly now as if I was pulling my chubby legs up to perch on top of my little stool right this moment. I’ve never thought of it before, but though she didn’t always provide guidance when it came to the practical side of life (truth was women weren’t supposed to bother their pretty heads with all that back in her day), in a way she was teaching me to be a woman. I have to say that’s something she’s always excelled at.

Black Friday and other major holiday shopping days are on the calendar for the on-line shopper to pounce on some great mark down items to fill their holiday lists. I’m looking forward to that myself although I make it a habit not to go into debt for Christmas anymore. Instead I do what I can afford and try to make memories with my family and enjoy a delicious meal. Don’t know how this year is going to look when it comes to family gatherings. Like everything else in 2020 I’m sure it will be one for the record books.

We women are powerful beings, often discounted because of our size or physical prowess. Every day I am thankful to have had pink blankets on my layette and wouldn’t trade my gender for an instant. In this upcoming election I believe women will be the ones carrying the baton over the finish line. Makes me proud to be counted among them. Thankful too, if I might pause for a moment, that my mama is still here with me every day that I have her. Even with the dementia creeping across her thoughts she still notices if I have a spot on my pants or a button missing on my blouse, or God forbid I’m wearing bad shoes. Some things never change. I hope she lives to be 115 and never misses a step with those lovely feet.

Vote ladies, vote everyone. I believe this election will be pivotal in our history and it is important we are all a part of it.

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I was so saddened to hear of the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg yesterday. What an amazing woman, and what a heavy footprint she will leave behind for such a diminutive being. As her life story unfolds on nearly every news channel, it strikes me how much difference one person can make in the world when they apply determination and sense of purpose to their lives. Makes me reflect on my life and what I will leave behind when it is my turn to go.

Boo, the Queen of Cats, I believe, will remember me fondly for showing up at treat time every day with the familiar blue bag of chicken “nummies”, and once again for the evening scratching behind the ears sessions before turning in for the night. My mother, who even with dementia says “there’s my darling daughter”, every time she sees my face in the window (Covid restrictions these days) will remember I showed up every week and never forgot how she showed up for me when she was able. There will be others in my inner circle who will miss my presence I would hope, but the ripple will not spread far beyond them. Ginsberg, however, will have made a difference in the lives of so many women and other previously overlooked groups in general during her tenure. Truly, she will leave a legacy of service and impacting legal decisions to be remembered for decades to come.

When I read she graduated top of her class in Harvard Law School but could not get hired to practice in any law firm in New York on graduation because she was a woman, I think how far we have come. Certainly we still have a long way to go still in breaking the glass ceiling, but at least there is evidence of shards of glass now visible on the ground.

I’m not sure you could place me under the umbrella of “women’s libber”. Truth is, I was never really a bra burner (mine wouldn’t have produced much of a fire to be honest). However, I could definitely be found on the front lines when it comes to women’s equality. The logic men seemed to adopt when women began to assert themselves in the areas of their civil rights, was we wanted to be the same as men. I just didn’t understand why we had to give up being female in order to achieve equal billing. I enjoy being a woman, and don’t feel it necessary to have to be less feminine in order to be paid the same as a male counterpart for doing exactly the same job with the same qualifications.

Another RGB cause I support would be the right of women to choose what to do with their own bodies. Men with a political agenda need not be talking to me about what I am to be doing with my body when it comes to pregnancy unless they have immediate plans for picking up that load themselves (literally). Being able to bear children is such a privilege and each individual’s views on the subject very personal. I guarantee if they were bearing the children, the laws on childbirth would assume a totally different look.

Back when women were beginning to stand up for themselves, I can remember one man informing me he was no longer opening the door for me on a date, and he didn’t want to pay for my meal when he took me to a restaurnt. He went on to say, “you want equality, there you go”. In turn, I informed him he wouldn’t have to worry about my door in the future or paying for anything on my behalf because I’d no longer be going out with him. My feeling on this subject (not that you asked) is if someone asks me out on a date, unless it is discussed prior to going out, I will assume he will be paying for my meal. I always went out of my way not to order the most expensive item on the menu or select anything listed as “market price”. Younger men in particular often couldn’t afford to pay for two expensive meals every time they asked a girl out. I totally get that, and never minded paying once we had established a relationship or opting for hot dogs and a beer instead of a high end meal. On the flip side, when I invited a man to come for dinner at my house, I didn’t greet him at the door with the grocery bill asking for half up front before putting dinner on the table.

When I spoke to a man my age recently on this very subject, he said he said he didn’t recall any disparity between men and women when we were in the work force. Uh-huh. That’s kind of the old “if it ain’t happening to you, it ain’t happening”. It definitely happened to me. Women early in my career were supposed to be teachers, flight attendants, secretaries and nurses. If a woman had a strong opinion and wasn’t afraid to voice it, she was considered bitchy. Men, with the same personality trait were considered forceful or alpha males.

I remember reading a book in my twenties detailing how to keep your man happy. Apparently when he arrived home from work the wife was supposed to greet him at the door in a negligee, have the music on low, dinner in the oven, appetizers on the coffee table, and his drink being chilled. Huh. I had two toddlers and a full time job plus was carrying a small load at the local junior college. Dinner came when I could get it on the table and hopefully no one had thrown up on my shoulder before I sat down to eat. Where was the book on how to keep your woman happy I’d like to know?

I believe Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a thorough researcher and possessed a gifted legal mind. Bravely stating her views she didn’t back down but neither was she combative. She said her mother taught her to be a teacher and not to react in anger when someone you are dealing with is difficult or disagreed with your opinion. According to all reports, I heard her colleagues held her in great respect so this approach must have served her well. Sometimes your point can be firmly gotten across without having to hammer it down your opponents throat. My grandmother always said, “you can catch more bees with honey, than you can with vinegar”.

So once again we shall send another great mind on their way. Thankfully, these amazing beings share their intellect and gifts with us before they go allowing us to to progress and learn.

Blue skies and white puffy clouds for the first time in weeks outside my window. So excited to seem them. Last night I left the neighbors cat a few treats on my patio chair pillow where he spends the night each night. This morning I found a dead mouse on my doormat by way of a thank you. Ugh. Have a great weekend!!

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Today is Rick’s birthday. The 29th of this month will also mark the day he passed away two years ago. For those of you who have lost a spouse you will understand these special days come with a price. Grief is a process most of us will have to face one time or another in our lives. To me it is similar to sustaining an open wound. In the beginning, you are flayed and raw. Then, as the healing process begins, the pain recedes as each day passes until you are left with a barely perceptible scar. Though others may not be aware it is there, you will still touch and feel it from time to time remembering where you got it.

Life has changed significantly since then for me. In the beginning I was like a newborn fawn. I struggled to my feet on wobbly legs, unsure if I could walk. The human spirit is enduring, and eventually I found my footing and resumed my path in the forest still not sure where I was going, but knowing I would continue my journey. These days I have created a new me of sorts, you don’t remain the same. Grief restructures you, adding dimension in some parts, while removing it in others. As you change, you find new parts of you yet unexplored, strong and resilient parts, while sloughing off those no longer serving you.

There are days when I feel the emptiness, but those are less and less. This does not mean I don’t still feel his loss, for I do. I am simply no longer immobilized by it. If anything, I have learned to embrace it along with the memories and love and pain accompanying it. The loss has assimilated into the whole of me, allowing me to smile when a pleasant memory comes up or laugh when remembering a silly moment we shared.

In a way I am glad he is not here to go through what is going on outside the door of late. To be gravely ill and deal with the pandemic and the fires might have been too much for one plate. I feel for people going through that now, some alone with no one to reach out to. Makes me wish I had a bank full of money. Not that money makes everything better, it does not. If it did, there wouldn’t be so many unhappy people who’s pockets are lined with it, but it does provide an avenue for making things happen.

So today I shall remember Rick as I knew him. He was my Egyptian prince, my friend, my love, who though far from perfect as he would often say, was somehow perfect for me. Rick suffered with a lot of demons, but I saw past them to the person behind them and understood why they were there. With me he was genuine and caring. He was intelligent to a fault, and well studied. Always he brought interesting subjects to the table and taught me much about the structure of the world I missed while sleeping through geography class. We enjoyed nearly twenty years together. It is easy when you lose someone to canonize them. I will not do that. He wouldn’t like it, and neither would I. When I pass, I hope people will remember me as I am, not how they wish I would have been.

Looking back as I have said often, goodbyes have been frequent in my life. Being left behind is often an uphill struggle, but if you keep walking uphill eventually you will rise above the clouds to find blue sky and sunshine. Each day offers something interesting to explore, someone interesting to meet, or somewhere interesting to go. When one door closes, I am here to say eventually another door opens. For me I am too curious a being not to want to find out what lurks behind the next door. Keeping positive with all the negative swirling around our heads of late is definitely a challenge. Some days I feel the anxiety closing in on me. When it does, I lean heavily on my reserve of positive thoughts and uplifting reading material to help buoy my spirits. Even if I don’t always win the battle, at least I can say I put up the good fight.

So here I stand after nearly two years firmly planted on both feet again. I don’t want to waste a minute of my time left on this earth filled with guilt, sadness, anger or regret. Instead, I will try to make the best of my allotted minutes, doing something productive that matters if to no one other than myself. The Grand Canyon still calls my name and the Butterflies in Arizona. I am definitely getting there when the getting is again good. I still have Greece penciled in on my bucket list though the writing gets a little paler with each passing year. Zip lining is in my plans as well for next year. Have a lot to do when this gunky sky lifts and the bug is conquered or at least suppressed so no time to waste. As the indomitable White Rabbit might say:

Before going to bed I always told Rick, “Hasta Manana”, so I’m saying it once again to you Rick on your birthday. The Forty-Niners are playing on Sunday, Ducky, be sure to check in. Have a good one. I love you.

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