Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

Outside my window rain is pouring down, in June, in California. This is a big statement. Wow, this weather is really bizarre. It’s not a light sprinkling either, but actual real, heavy, precipitation. I am most impressed. Weirdest thing. A huge crow just catapulted down from my roof. Now he’s walking around my front yard shaking his head. Shocking weather for him too apparently.

Conversely, yesterday was a gorgeous mid eighties early summer day. A friend had offered to help me shape up my yard which of late isn’t wearing it’s happiest face. My landlord is supposedly on the hunt for new gardeners, as the old ones were awful. They were a crew of three. Every two weeks they would swoop down on my yard, and be in and out picking things clean like locust. Once I asked them to weed the bed towards the front and they simply used the weed eater and eliminated all the viable ground cover. One mows, one blows (to me they all blew), and the other one dumps the compostibles in the bin. The one who had the blower, seemed to just blow everything in a corner. When the first breeze kicked up, it was all right back where it had been in the first place. I was taught by my grandmother early on in my development, if you’re going to do a job, do it to the best of your abilities. Was she out in the yard with these guys holding her rolling pin, I have a feeling things might have gotten done right.

Accepting the offer of yard work help, my friend and I got an early start. The first stop we made was to the nursery, along with everyone else within twenty miles, to pick up potting soil and some additional plants. I didn’t want to get my usual hefty supply of annuals, because the water situation is such here in California, I was afraid wouldn’t be able to keep them alive. It’s amazing how quickly the tab adds up when you start piling gardening supplies in a cart. Whew. I mortgaged the farm, and had to sign Boo, the Queen of Cats, into indentured servitude working in the fields for a couple of months. Don’t pity her, trust me, the feline could use the exercise. I didn’t need to get much really in the way of plants, as I had a lot of full pots waiting for repotting already in the yard sent for my mother’s passing. People were kind enough to send some lovely plants which definitely needed some attention. I’m so proud the enormous orchid sent by my dad’s family is still alive and thriving. Usually, they are down to bare limbs by this time under my care. Every time I walk by it and see all the wonderful blooms, I say, “you’re welcome”.

The mercury retrograde was thankfully over Friday afternoon, and a miserable one it was. I could almost feel the energy lighten and lift as it was on it’s way out. Amazing how the alignment of the planets can effect we minuscule beings inhabiting this lovely piece of the universe. For those of you scratching your heads going retro what? A mercury retrograde is when the planet Mercury appears to be taking a backward tour in the sky. The general state of affairs thought to be present during a retrograde event is electronics breaking down, emotions running high or low, and general chaos prevailing. In order to come out unscathed, believers suggest you enter such a phase prepared. Back up your computers, make sure you have air in your car tires, etc., etc., and remember to breathe, and then breathe some more. There is also a plus side. A retrograde can be a time of reflection and introspective thinking. For me, I’d rather be sailing. I’ve done enough reflective thinking over the past four years and my coffers are full. Let’s get some air in those sails and get out on the Bay instead, I say.

So, with the retrograde at our backs, I felt it was a safe and positive time to get busy in my garden. Gloves and sun hats in place, we took out our bags of soil, gardening tools and hoses, and dug happily in the soil for three hours. There is something positively rejuvenating about planting that revitalizes my soul. Perhaps it serves to reconnect us with our beginnings. My friend, a person who enjoys conversations with every living creature from ground squirrel to robin when we walk together once a week, is truly a human who aligns herself beautifully with the earth. Like a puppy or small child, she plopped herself down soundly on her behind in the wet grass and had at it with plants scattered all around us. As to me, I managed to get an equal amount of dirt on myself as I did in the pots I was working with so a good time was had by all.

I was glad to get the garden behind me. The next few weeks look hectic in my world. As I said in my previous blog, my calendar has felt a bit tight lately. I seem to be bouncing along like an out of control ball rolling down a steep hill. Work will be on the agenda as well I suspect pretty soon so that should make things even more interesting when it comes to keeping up with my schedule. Last week I had something, or several somethings penciled in each and every day. Tuesday is always a busy day for me, and there were four notations under that day. Whew. I made it to three. Yesterday, while digging in the dirt I thought of a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in a while, and was reminded of a lunch date we had made over the phone several weeks ago. Oh-oh. Opening my calendar, sure enough her name popped up under Tuesday last with a notation “Lunch with…… at…….”. Hmmmmm. According to my notes, were supposed to meet at a favorite restaurant at 11:30. My bad. I called her number, already feeling the humble pie repeating itself I knew I was going to have to eat. She answered sweetly, “thanks for ditching me”. Somehow, though I heard a sugary tone, I didn’t feel the sweetness oozing through my end of the phone. I asked why she hadn’t called me when I didn’t show up. She politely explained, because she was upset. Oh. Apologizing, I explained how busy, busy I have been, which sounded lame even to me as I was saying it. Apparently, she had waited thirty minutes before ordering and eating alone. Sorry. Truth is, no matter how busy we are, we tend to make room for, and remember, what is important to us.

I try to do my best for my friends. Obviously, I don’t always rise to the bar. My friends are really the foundation of my life these days, and sweet Boo, the Queen of Cats. I am also exploring the newest addition to my world in the new man I am learning about. This is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. A new relationship is so full of highs and lows it makes West Virginia look like flatland. Sometimes I want to run, but mostly I am curious about the new being I am observing across the table from me fairly often over the past several months. It is fun to get to know new things about him, and share old things about me, which are new to him. Where this will lead I have no idea, but for today it is something I am interested in seeing through to it’s natural end, wherever that might be.

Well, I am off for lunch with a friend on this surprising rainy day. Happy Sunday to you. Finish that book, call a friend, or put your feet up, find a great movie and push “play”.

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The holiday weekend is upon us. I wonder so many people I know are going on road trips with the price of gas being what it is. Literally, my gas tank is siphoning my bank account dry. The good news is apparently prices are headed up, not down. Boo, the Queen of Cats, may have to seek employment if she wishes to continue indulging in her special salmon/chicken treats that cost me an arm and a leg every week at the pet store.

The past week, I have been sifting through open jobs online. I sent out three applications from one site before noticing the email associated with my profile was an old one I deactivated some time ago. Thinking this to be an easy fix, I went in to change it. After a half an hour of expletives and repeating the same task over and over again with no positive result, I had to throw up the white flag and admit I was stumped. Hate that. I decided to see if I could locate a customer service number on the site. Naturally, there wasn’t one to be found. They never include these numbers, I’ve noticed lately, so you have to muck about on your own until you either give up or drink the Kool-Aid. Jesh. Doing a Google search, I came up with an actual phone contact number. Yay. Dialing it, I was dropped into the usual endless loop of questions about why I had called in the first place. I have come to believe companies do this so they will wear you down and you will simply hang up and slink back under your rock. The first question in the next loop said, “If you are a job seeker, press 1”. Dutifully, I pushed 1 on my phone. The message once 1 had been pushed said, “Thank you for choosing our company for your job search. Please go to our website located at …….. for assistance. Good luck with finding a job you love”. Since there was no other option available but to hang up, I did, but then called right back. Turns out, when listening to the message again, there was also an option 2 available. Option 2, it appeared, was for companies looking for employees. Hmmmmm, says I, and pushed 2. Sure enough, a human voice appeared on the other end of the phone. I explained to the woman what the problem was, and she assured me she could rectify the situation on her end. SUCCESS!! She asked me all the questions used to identify the caller as the actual owner of the account. Then, she asked the name of my company. Ummmm? So, I did something I actually have perfected, I acted dumb. “Company”, says I? She went on to explain this line was for company inquiries. “Oh, huh, who knew”? At any rate, after putting me on hold, she came back on and fixed the problem for me. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I say.

Good news is I already have an interview set up for this coming week. The jobs I chose to apply for were definitely a lot below my skill level. I have had high impact, stressful jobs most of my life. This time around I want twenty hours a week, a small supplementary paycheck, and zero – spell that z-e-r-o stress. The past eight years have had enough stress packed into them to satisfy my stress quotient for the next twenty years, so I feel at this point I am good to go.

Today I am going out to lunch with the new man in my life. Cheeseburgers are what the restaurant we are going to are known for. This offers up a direct line to my heart, as a good cheeseburger is my favorite meal. With fries, naturally. We are just beginning the arduous process of getting to know one another. When you are in your twenties, you haven’t had enough life experience to really have a lot of wrinkles to iron out. Now that is not true of everyone, of course. People like Charles Manson covered a lot of ground by their mid twenties, but generally people of that age are at the beginning of their learning curve. By the time you’ve hit fifty, you’ve pretty much crested the hill, and have most likely added a lot of notches to your belt. At the mid point of our lives, there are usually marriages, or at least serious relationships behind us, children, grandchildren even, and a whole bag full of life to share with a new partner. Some of the contents of the bag, one would certainly hope, will prove productive. There will be learned lessons tucked away in the bag, along with uncovered talents, achieved goals, hopes and dreams, all mixed in with heartaches, losses, unfulfilled desires and failures. The trick is to not take the memories or unfortunate events associated with old relationships that did not work, or memories with hard edges and drag them into the empty bag waiting to be filled up by a new relationship. I speak from some experience, this is not always an easy task and one I struggle with.

Outside my window the tops of the trees are bent in the wind. We seem to have an awful lot of windy days this year. According to the weather station this can be attributed to climate change. Wind always makes me a bit edgy. My friend, up on such things, says it has something to do with ions which effect your mood. My mood has been a bit off for a couple of days. I need to move it up the happy scale a bit before I meet my new guy for our burger. As I’ve said I’m usually fairly sunny as a personality but for some reason, could be all the sad news this week about shootings and mayhem my smile is beginning to droop. I’ve noticed I’m not alone in this. The phone has been ringing even more than it’s usual craziness and often the person on the other end has wanted to discuss a problem or was simply feeling somehow down and without energy. I keep pumping up my tire, and someone keeps coming by to stick a nail in it. It is hard not to absorb the collective energy swirling all around us right now. For me, when effected in such a way, I have to chain myself to my chair to keep from heading out for a little retail therapy. I am trying to generate new income right now, not deplete what financial security I do have. I heard a startling statistic this morning, 25% of Americans have no savings whatsoever to lean back on. That really did surprise me. I wouldn’t have any either if it wasn’t I have recently sold a house. Just heard that since I sold my home three years ago the value of it has increased by $100,000. Whew. Up, up, up and away here in California with the price of either owning or renting a place to hang your hat accelerating at a fevered pace.

At any rate before I go completely down the rabbit hole here, that is what I know for today. I need to go in and readjust my smile and prepare for my date. Have a good and safe holiday weekend. Keep your smile in place and hope for the best outcome no matter what.

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Here I am seated at my keyboard at 3 a.m. again. Sigh and double sigh. Methinks I may never get another complete night’s sleep again. I do long for those days when I would hit the snooze alarm three times before dragging my tired self out of a warm bed to get ready for work. Sleepy eyed and wishing for one more hour of shut eye before facing my day, I would pad into the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. I ask you, where oh where has that eight hour a day sleepy girl gone?

Guess lack of sleep is part of the aging process. It’s not my favorite part. There are many things about getting older, however, I totally embrace. For instance, I do not miss knowing I have to go into work every single day of the week and remain there for eight hours or more. I do not miss this. I do have to say, of late, I have begun to wonder how on earth I fit eight hours of work in my day. I can’t even seem to find free time to have lunch with a friend on my calendar. Life has gotten very busy since the pandemic released it’s grasp on our lives.

Another thing I like about getting older, is I seem to have learned quite a bit along the way. Between simply trying things on and seeing how they work for me, doing incredibly stupid things and finding out they don’t work for me at all, and generally soaking up all the information from the lessons presented to me during my lifetime, I seem to have gathered some wisdom along the way. Amen to that. It used to be I jumped into a situation with both feet and then figured out how to back out of it somewhere later down the road. Now, I sort of circle the wagons and take a long, slow look at what I’m doing before simply diving into the pot. Like that. Like that a lot.

As I said a while back, I have begun to explore dating once again. I have never dated at this age before, largely because today I am as old as I have ever been. If you get my drift. Most people who have reached this point in their lives are pretty much settled into who they are going to be. I know this is true of me. Was I to describe myself, I might use the adjective my friends seem to like to choose for me, “hummingbird”. I am a flitterer for sure. My metabolism, thanks Mom, keeps me moving. Fast seems to be the only speed on my dial and this remains true even though my body doesn’t always cooperate the way it used to anymore when asked to keep up the pace. Artistic might be another adjective I would apply when speaking to who I am. Certainly I am neat, and for the most part I like to show up on time and prefer others to do the same. Most of all I would say, I love to laugh and have fun. Now, there are lots of checks on the negative side as well, of course. I’m not saying I’m by any stretch of the imagination I am a perfect being. I am totally stubborn at times. Rick used to say I was the most hard headed female he ever knew. Most likely that will be written on my tombstone. “Here lies one hard headed woman”. I like to communicate, and am a pretty good talker but also enjoy my quiet solitary times and can, when in that mood, prefer to be left totally alone with my thoughts. I am not high maintenance as far as material things, or I like to believe that to be true, but I do love to be adored and like lots of attention. I am, after all, an only child and a scorpio one at that. There you are, Susie, the pluses and minuses, in a nutshell. Not looking for perfection in the person I’m dating either, just mutual respect and some line items in common to bring us together.

The first man I attempted to get to know, we’ll call him Paul, was also a talker. At our first and only meeting, Paul shared with me right out of the gate, he was the father of ten children. I might have saved that piece of information at least until after the coffee was poured. Whew. It’s not that I mind he has such a brood, I love children, but his children have children. When he showed me a family picture it was taken in a panoramic format so as to include everyone in the frame. My mind immediately went to meeting all ten of his offspring. It has been my experience having one or two adult children check you out when dating their dad can be a grueling process. All those unstated questions hanging in the air. “Are you trying to replace my mother”, “are you after dad’s money”? Imagine twenty inquisitive eyes dissecting you like a frog in biology class! After I’d digested that big bite, he went on to tell me he had recently made a trip to Ecuador to explore the spiritual side of his nature. That he was exploring the spiritual part of him, I found exciting. I said that sounded like an interesting trip, and asked him to tell me more. Turned out trip was the optimum word here. While there, he continued, he had ingested some kind of magic mushrooms which took him to places in his mind where he had never been before. At that point my mind was taking me places as well, such as looking for the exit doors in the restaurant. Thanking him for a lovely cup of coffee and the scone, I exited stage left. When I got home he sent me a text stating he had a questionnaire he would like me answer. He went on to say, he would do the same on his side, to see if we should proceed from there. Next!

After Paul, I waited a bit to test the waters again. Next came Dan. Dan was a lovely man really. He was an engineer and had a beautiful home high in the foothills above where I live. Dan had been widowed for six years and was very attractive and well spoken. After we met through a mutual friend, Dan asked me to have lunch with him, and I accepted. Have to admit there were a few butterflies fluttering around in my stomach as the time approached for Dan to pick me up for our lunch date. When he arrived, and I invited him in to see my house, his first words were “wow, you are so neat and clean”. I took this as a compliment, but thinking back it came as sort of a nervous response. Hmmmm. We had chosen a fun place to eat locally for our first meal together. Over burgers and fries we scratched the surface of who we are as people. The usual questions came up about children, activities we enjoyed, types of food we like to eat, etcetera, etcetera. I swear I’m going to write a book and simply hand it out at the first date. If they get past chapter four and wish to proceed, we can go from there. Dan has two children, boys, living in the Bay Area. He likes to hike, which I do as well, was involved in remodeling his home, and was looking for someone to spend time with and perhaps have a relationship with if that worked out. Check and check. A beginning.

After lunch, which went well, we made plans to get together the following week for dinner. During the week we texted back and forth a few times discussing what was going on in our respective lives and just generally keeping up with one another. Once we made it to the day of our second meeting, and arrived at the restaurant where we were to have dinner, we were getting along great. The meal was delicious, the conversation flowed, all was moving along swimmingly. Well, almost. When dessert was served Dan brought up that he enjoyed being single and living alone. The reason he does, he went on, is that he likes the freedom to throw everything and anything everywhere and anywhere it landed. He told me though he was dressed nicely for our date, at home he was a complete slob and enjoyed living that way. Now, I’m all for personal freedom. You should live whatever way that works for you. Seriously, I’m all about that. If throwing corn cobs on the floor or never making your bed works for you then God bless you, really. However, that is not how I choose to exist. Mess and chaos make me messy and chaotic. I was processing this information when he told me there was another woman he had been dating for five months. She, according to him, was in love with him, but this feeling was not reciprocated on his part. Uh-huh. Check please. Sigh. Why, I wanted to ask, are we here eating Tirimasu if you, a) like being single and want to live alone and throw your clothes all about, and b) already have a relationship? Perhaps I should do a questionnaire myself?

So, it is back to the drawing board for me. I’m just not sure where I want to proceed from here, or even if. I do have sort of an eternal optimism about love. I believe there is one more true romance out there in my story, and I am willing to do the research to see if I can find him. Perhaps we are back to the old adage, “you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince”.

That’s it for today. Hot, hot, hot here in Northern California. Got the air cranking and the blinds half open. Have a great day!!

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I have been away from home for four days. Have to say after the pandemic, and then with Dale being ill keeping us tied closer to home, there was something truly delicious about hitting the open road again. I have not been far afield in four plus years, so it felt good to be packing up the car, firing up the GPS, and heading out of town for a bit.

This trip was by way of a reunion. A dear friend of mine and I were getting together for the first time in twenty-five years. I was driving up from the Sacramento area, and my friend Saleatha, Sam for short, was driving down from Oregon where she makes her home. Redding was chosen as a location more for the fact it was somewhat of a halfway point for both of us, rather than a place we had both been pining to see. Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoy Redding. The people there are friendly and very hospitable, but it might not be number one choice for me when planning a vacation. A plus for the trip, was we had tickets to see the Celtic Women perform while there, something I had always hoped to enjoy.

Sam arrived the day before I got there. Texting from the hotel room we were to share, she indicated the hotel, though not undoable, had seen better days. In my defense, as I am the one who made the reservations, I haven’t been to Redding in years. The last time I stayed at this particular hotel, albeit twenty plus years ago, it was sort of the hot spot to stay in town. Apparently, like so many things as they get older, it had lost some (perhaps all, according to Sam, lol) of it’s original appeal. Oh-oh.

My trip up was uneventful, with only one stop made at a rest stop along the way for the reasons one stops at a rest stop after consuming an enormous cup of iced tea. Pulling into the hotel parking lot, I found my dear old friend standing by the lobby door looking much like she had the last time I had seen her. I didn’t need to check in as she had already done that, so she hopped in the car and we drove to the back of one of the wings where our room was located. As usual, I hadn’t traveled light. For some reason I can’t seem to leave home without taking half my closet with me. Should we have been struck by a freak storm and forced to stay in our rooms til early fall, I would have had a new outfit and shoes for every occasion. Arriving at the room, I could see Sam had followed the same line of thinking when packing for the road. There were two suitcases already on stands, numerous bags filled with shoes, snacks, toiletries and the like. Had there been one more female present, we definitely would have had to rent another room. Men are such different creatures then we of the gentler sex. Was Rick with me, and had he packed for himself (which he never did to my memory), he would have included his toothbrush, clean underwear, one pair of jeans and shorts each, a pair of socks and a couple of shirts and been done with it. Go figure. I remember he used to buy really nice shirts. Often, these shirts sat on hangers for years with the tags still danging from their sleeves. Instead, he wore the same five shirts all the time. I asked him once why he did this. “I’m saving them”, was the answer I got. “For what”, wondered I? After he passed away I donated a bin of them to the local Goodwill, tags still attached.

The room, as was most of the hotel, was extremely dated. Two huge maple headboards hung above the beds attached to the wall. Both beds when you got in them were swayed in the middle like an old horse who had been rented out too often at the stable. You sort of rolled into a spot at night, and climbed back out in the morning. A massive wall unit to the left of the room had a flat screen TV on top of it. Inside the unit was housed a small refrigerator with a microwave on top. If you opened the microwave door without securing it, the microwave and whatever you were heating up in it, would end up in your lap. HOT. We found this out the hard way. Do not try this at home.

The bathroom was perhaps the most interesting of the amenities. There was one small sink with little counter space around it. For two ladies, not the ideal set up. Then there was a tub to the left, and a toilet next to the sink. The tub had a faucet on the far left side wall. A metal piece stuck out of the tile where one would normally expect the shower head to be attached. Instead, a snakelike metal cord protruded out of it, attached to a hand-held shower head. The next morning, when while attempting to take a “shower” and wash my hair in the tub using this attachment, while trying to get the soap out of my hair I didn’t realize the water was shooting out of the side of the shower curtain. By the time I turned off the water, towels and the bath mat were floating down river.

The shining moment for this establishment was their cook. OMG. I would go back and stay in that room again (only for one night) to eat the food this guy put out of his kitchen. The hamburger and fries he made for me were literally the best I have ever eaten. Seeing as I make a habit of trying this menu item out in every establishment I frequent, that is saying something special. This guy definitely gets a five YUM rating from this girl. Everything he made was absolutely delicious. I made sure he got word from us we thought his food was top notch. What he was doing working in their kitchen I have no clue, but we were so very glad he was there. Storing our leftovers in our little fridge with the rest of our perishables and drinks we sank into our beds our first night there together. The following morning, I went to take something out of the fridge to snack on, string cheese in particular, only to find it frozen solid. You could have successfully fended off a intruder with it. Everything, it appeared was frozen solid. Sam’s water, when she tried to open it, went off like Vesuvius spewing water all over the bed. We called maintenance. A lovely man named Jeremiah came out and adjusted the refrigerator. He explained the hotel had new owners, and they were renovating the hotel one room at a time. Obviously, our room was not located at the top of the list.

In the three days we occupied that room we had to call each day to ask for toilet paper, towels, our trash to emptied, and to get the refrigerator checked. It had two temperatures, FREEZE and DEFROST. Amazing. Every room service order required two to three visits from staff to bring missed silverware, menu items, or forgotten sides. Never saw anything run in such a seat of your pants manner. After a while, it just got funny. We weren’t there for the room anyhow, thank heavens. Let’s face it, had it been perfect, what would I be writing here? Nice room, end of story.

Another fun thing was Sam and I are both single. Now, neither of us was looking to meet anyone on this trip, but the fact that the entire lobby was filled with priests there for a papal meeting of some sort, pretty much solidified the fact that if we had been, we were not in any danger of doing so.

In spite of the accommodations, Sam and I fell in step as if it had only been a few days since we’d last been together. We enjoyed some retail therapy, ate outside at a beautiful restaurant on the river, and saw the Celtic Women, who were truly angelic, at the Redding Auditorium. All in all, we had a magical time.

One thing I will note. We took a drive up to Weaverville while in Redding. Weaverville is a small historic town nestled in the mountains about an hour north of where we were staying. The drive, usually lovely, was marred by the extensive fire damage evident all along the road. Charred hillsides and crisped remains of trees could be seen everywhere you looked. Unbelievable how much acreage was involved just in the area we were in. Made for sort of an eye opening and disturbing trip. Sam said coming into California from Oregon she was overwhelmed by the devastation on the once lovely and lush hillsides. Climate change really is making itself known these days.

As with all trips there is a beginning and an end. Yesterday, I returned home, and began the process of quietly slipping my everyday life back on once again. After hauling my load in from the car, everything worn while away was sorted and tossed in the hamper or hung in the closet, cosmetics were returned to their drawers, shoes stored, and books put back on the nightstand by my bed. Boo, the Queen of Cats had the company of a dear friend in my absence. No doubt the lazy sot spent her time happily soaking up all the lavish attention my friend always bestows on her. One can only hope she was pleased to see my face when I walked in the door. As I greeted her, she did look up from her perch where she was napping. With one open eye she seemed to acknowledge my presence, before returning to whatever old kitty cats dream about. She will be out later for my apology presentation for leaving her for a short time, complete with treats and heavy groveling on my part.

When we parted we made plans for the fall to get together once again. Adventures are on my bucket list and I look forward to each and every one coming up. As glad as I was to hit the road, I was equally glad to get home again. It was nice to actually be able to sleep on top of my bed rather than in the belly of it. Hope your week is going well. Have an adventure or two. Get out on the road and just drive somewhere. See something new, try a new dish, meet a new person. Life goes by in an instant.

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Woke up to a gorgeous day the middle of the week here in Northern California. Slight breeze to keep you cool, perfect air temperature, around 82, and a clear, brilliantly blue, sky overhead. Walking was definitely on the calendar I decided, and then lunch with a friend. We chose a regional park populated largely by Canada geese. This time of year their fuzzy little offspring are visible all over the park area area where it circles the man made lake dominating the center. Do love to see babies. Even a baby porcupine is sweet, however, we didn’t pass one on our trail. There were a lot of warning signs showing pictures of striking rattlesnakes so I kept my eye on my feet as often as I could without tripping over something on the path in front of me. I try to walk at least forty minutes every day. Makes me feel better emotionally and physically to stretch my legs on a regular basis, and I’m sure my joints will thank me one day when I’m older.

Life has been incredibly frenetic of late. I can’t seem to catch up even with my fancy new running shoes carefully tied in place. Twice this week I’ve overlooked scheduled appointments, and one day I made double plans for the day with two different people. Then, as it turned out, I couldn’t go with either person, because I already had a hair appointment on the books for the middle of the day. Sigh. Scattered is the adjective immediately coming to mind but numbnut isn’t far behind it.

Today is Mother’s Day. I will be celebrating with my daughter and her family. Mother, though not present physically, will definitely move among us as we talk of funny stories involving her, or shared family moments she was a part of. I’m not sad anymore, but rather a peace has settled over me. We had our time, and we made the best use of it. I don’t have regrets, which makes her passing somehow more palatable. So, we will laugh, probably shed a tear or two, eat, and enjoy each other. Truly each day is the day we have, so it is always best to fill it with happy moments and lots of love.

Since my mum passed, my soul has occupied a quiet space. Grieving her is a bit different then the two men I have lost. Mother was by my side from my beginning to her end. Beyond mother and daughter, we were friends. Certainly we all knew as the years added up, her time her with us was winding down, but still each Saturday I miss getting in the car and going to see her beautiful face. As I’ve said many times, life is but a series off hellos and goodbyes.

I have much to say about the situation of women’s rights currently going on in this country but for today I will simply say, Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who signed up to raise the generation coming up after them. It is a brave, brave, endeavor we take on when bringing a new life into the world. Few of us ever feel we carried this oh so important task out to the best of our abilities. If we don’t remind ourselves of our shortcomings, odds are our children surely will. Smile. I know I wouldn’t trade my son and daughter for anything else this world has to offer. They have brought me more joy than any other part of my life. I want to thank my mom for always being a part of raising them, and loving them as much as I did and do.

Enjoy your day and bask in the limelight for a brief moment before you find yourself once again standing over a pile of dirty dishes, or throwing a load of laundry in the washer. Women are a powerful force of nature, I believe, we just don’t quite know it yet.

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I have to say, this has been the most miraculous week, and it’s only Wednesday!! First, as I wrote in my previous blog, I had a glorious day with a friend where I saw a mother hummingbird sitting on her tiny nest. This was a first in my life. At my age, there are less and less firsts, and many, many, more thirds, fourths, and fifths. So, in my world, a first was much cause for celebration. The sight of the small little creature huddled atop her eggs had the most incredible uplifting effect my soul.

Then Monday, I went for a walk at a local park with a friend of mine, an avid nature lover. Going for a walk with Barbara, which I do every Monday, is always an experience. Barbara stops to talk to every squirrel, each tiny bursting bud on a limb, butterflies, and passing bees. Truth be known, she’s a bit of a squirrel herself, but a very lovable one of the kindest variety. I am not telling tales out of school here. She would describe herself in such a way was she seated at the keyboard banging on the keys instead of me. Sometimes I’ll catch a passerby eying her with curiosity while she bends over a daisy to greet it for the day. Never bothers me. I have enough life experience behind me now, not to give much weight to what other people think about my behavior, or the behavior of my friends. It is most important to be true to who you are, and as long as who you are isn’t hurting anyone or anything, what possible difference does it make? Personally, I like my friends to possess a few wrinkles and kinks. Certainly, I have plenty of my own to go around, so why would I want to stand out in a group of Persian cats as the only alley cat? Hanging out with people who have no issues, to me at least, would be like reading a book without a plot.

After our walk, we stopped to have a light brunch el fresco at a lovely little farm/restaurant in the country. Spring flowers were in bloom everywhere around us. Brunch was an omelet piled high with fresh ingredients, accompanied by a side of house made bread with apricot/raspberry jam. Yum, and double yum. There are times when I find myself filled to the brim with gratefulness for my life, and this week is definitely one of those times.

Driving home after eating, I remembered I wanted to stop by a shoe store located in the downtown area. Barbara and I had discussed this previously. She said she had been there and new exactly where the shop could be found. My podiatrist has been after me for some time to get some good walking shoes. Most days I walk about forty minutes. The shoes I have been wearing, though a well known brand, apparently don’t offer my feet enough support. I have kept these shoes for longer than I normally would for several reasons. The first, Rick bought them for me, and they hold sentimental value. Secondly, they are well broken in and don’t pinch or poke me anywhere. However comfortable and well loved, they are causing sores on the bottom of my feet which is affecting my alignment from my toes to the top of my neck. Amazing how one part of you being out of whack can impact so many other areas on your body. But, I digress. Locating the store, and a coveted downtown parking spot, we walked up the main drag. Our town is small and quaint. A lot of the buildings are the original structures with upgrades and refacing to bring them into this century. The shoe shop was in the middle of the block, the door open. Yay.

On the left hand wall as you walked in, shoes of all kinds were on display. The sales woman emerged from the back room and after introductions, we discussed the reason for my visit. Asking me to remove my shoes, she explained she would have to examine my feet and see how I walked before recommending an appropriate shoe. Oh-oh. I don’t air my feet too often. During the summer months, I have regular pedicures to pretty them up, but modeling agencies are never going to court me as a likely candidate for foot modeling gigs. Rick used to say, “Put some socks on those ughs. You are scaring small children.” He was kidding, of course, but somehow I sensed there might be some underlying truth to the statement. At any rate, socks in place, I walked back and forth across the store. After watching how my feet hit the ground, she proclaimed I had high arches and one foot bigger than the other. Good news. I had looked at the shoes on the wall without my glasses when I came in. To me it looked like they ranged from $50-$80, which seemed doable. I am on a budget of sorts lately, so working on keeping my expenses down.

The saleswoman went back to get several shoes in my size, and while she was gone a woman with a friend came in and sat down. While waiting, we all struck up a casual conversation. Looking at her I would have guessed her to be in her fifties, though she told us later she was sixty-one. As there was only one employee in the store, the woman waited her turn, while I tried on the shoes placed in front of me. I told the lady fitting my feet about Rick giving me my shoes, and that he had passed away and so they meant something to me. Deciding on a pair, when she quoted me a price, I realized what I had taken to be a dollar sign in front of the $50-$80 without my glasses, was actually a “1”. Ouch. $180 for a pair of walking shoes would be stretching my budget far and beyond what I’d planned. Not wanting to charge them, I asked her to hold them until the following day and I would get cash out of my savings account to cover them. Done and done. Before leaving the store I had already decided the shoes were too pricey for me this month, apologizing to my feet. My wounded piggies would simply have to deal. As we were leaving, the saleslady handed me the box with the shoes in it. Confused, I began to explain this would have to wait until the next day, or possibly never. The other customer, Elvera, I would come to find out, came up and hugged me and said “I bought them for you”. “What”? Seriously, “What”? Immediately I handed them back. Elvera handed them again to me, saying this was to be her gift as well as mine. Not knowing how else to respond and feeling totally overwhelmed, I started to cry. What else can you do when faced with such unexpected kindness? She asked that I not ruin the gift for either of us by not accepting them, but to pay it forward down the road. I promised I would. Wow and double wow. My angels are always out there. Learning how to receive is equally as important as learning how to give. It is not a pill I easily swallow. I tell you all this so that it gives you hope. The world is a bit of a hodge podge upside down mess right now, and we need light to penetrate the dark corners. It emphasizes to my mind that nice people with good intentions pass us every minute of the day and reinforces the belief when you are down or sad, a hand, a friend or a strangers, will reach out to touch you. This is not about the shoes. Rather, it is about an experience I will forever carry with me. Somewhere in my life, when the situation arises, I will pass on Elvera’s kindness to someone else who needs a lift. With these shoes on my feet gifted by a stranger with love, I will continue on my way in my journey wherever it leads me now. Lovely.

Life is defined by it’s surprises, both the good surprises and the bad. The grief group I have been attending will host a goodbye party in two weeks. Another chapter will close, with a new one beginning. The friends I’ve made there will remain, and the stories we shared will be held by the group attending. Grief is a process I have gone through and will most likely continue to work my way through, but it does not define me. My feet, with my new walking shoes, are ready to take me in new directions, and explore new unknowns.

Remember how much a small act of kindness can impact another human being. Offering someone with two items behind you when you have a full cart a bump up in line, opening a door, smiling as you pass a homeless person pushing a cart. Each act you do ripples across the universe. Happy Wednesday.

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Here I am! It’s been a most welcome rain laden week here in the bone dry foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. How glorious to see water cascading down my windows and to watch the plants and trees lift up their heads to respond to a good dowsing of spring precipitation.

On the subject of plants, flowers, plants and cards keep arriving on behalf of my mother’s passing. My spare bedroom is beginning to look a bit like a florist shop. Recently, I came home to find the largest orchid I’ve ever seen waiting for me on my front porch. The stem nearly eclipsed my front door. If orchids could have an expression, this one would have worn one when it saw me that said, “Oh, no!!!! It’s her.” Had it legs, it would have bolted down the street and disappeared around the corner. The word is out, I do not have good luck with orchids. The last one barely made it a month before I held a small ceremony for it over the trash can to wish it well on it’s last journey. I’ve tried ice cubes, less water, more water, gentle pleading, and still watch in sadness as the lovely petals float to the ground one at a time until there are none remaining. Dum, du, dum, dum, dummmm.

I also have four large outdoor plants sent by family and friends to plant in mother’s honor. I am trying to decide where to plant these. My roots don’t grow very deep these days. I’ve lived in my current home for nearly three years, but with the cost of living going up I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to sustain remaining here. As I’ve said, I need to generate some income, so that is on the agenda front and center as soon as I return from a short vacation already planned for May. Planting them here, would be mean leaving them here. The people who sent them each included a wish they be put in the soil either where I am, or family is, to remind us of our missing piece. Hmmmm. For now, I will leave them in their respective pots until I’ve figured out my plan for the future, and concentrate on not offing the absolutely gorgeous unsuspecting orchid sitting on my window sill.

Yesterday, I went on a local art tour with a friend of mine. The weather after the recent rain, was glorious, with temperatures ranging in the mid eighties. Overhead, the sky was the most brilliant blue, only to be interrupted when white billowy clouds floated by from time to time. The tour involved twelve artists, each inviting the public into their galleries and studios to view, and purchase, if desired, their artwork. Wow. When you see artisans so truly dedicated to their craft it is humbling. Made me immediately want to come home and take out my sketch books. Boy, I was definitely suffering from “studio envy”. These established artists had large well lit spaces to create their work. Decided I need to manifest that in my own life. As I say often, you can’t sit around waiting for life to happen to you, you have to get out there and make it happen for you. How, well that’s another story, yes?

Along with finding the studios impressive, and the artwork created there, the houses we visited were quite beautiful as well. The first, was a huge structure, with an massive back yard. The artist was from Japan, and the yard clearly reflected his cultural background. Gorgeous metal fountains, each different than the next, lent a zenlike feeling to the area. Impressive arrays of colorful flowers sprung up from the beds by the fence and a long vegetable garden dominated the right side of the property. In one corner, perhaps my favorite part of the day, the artist directed us to a huge bush. On one branch, towards the back, rested a diminutive nest. Tucked inside was the tiniest of hummingbirds. We were told she was sitting on several eggs waiting to be hatched. Nature, as always, of all things in life, has the power to move me beyond explanation. So tiny was this little mum, and though big human faces were looming in at her from outside her hiding place, she remained fast on her perch guarding her little ones. So sweet that was.

Around noon, we discovered a French restaurant neither of us had frequented. Passing it, we were drawn in by the exterior which was reminiscent of a structure you might find along a Paris street. Lunch on their patio was creamy eggs Benedict eaten under the abundant shade of the huge trees. Beyond the cement, were lavender bushes in full bloom, and music played in the background. All in all, it made for one of the better parts of a nearly perfect day.

At the last stop we made, we discovered a park adjacent to it where they had zip lining. The zippers, if you will, repelled across what used to be an operating rock quarry. I definitely have this penciled in for my future, the when and where still left to be determined. For me, careening across the treeline of the Amazon would be the ideal backdrop, but I don’t see that happening in either the near or the distant future in my world. I did take steps in my traveling hopes this past week, by actually filling out the paperwork to get my passport renewed. Where I’m going I don’t know yet, but wherever the wind blows me, I will have my paperwork in order to be able to get there. Check and check.

So, I am off to church with a friend this Sunday morning. A little chicken soup for the soul. My mind is open to all ways of looking at this world, unless harmful or malignant. I try to take a ladle from this pot, and then a ladle from that. Let’s face it, no one really knows the universe’s most well kept secrets up until this point, so who’s beliefs are right and who’s are wrong is still open for discussion. To my mind, if what you believe works in your life and doesn’t hurt others, then it is right for you. Thankfully, in this country, each of us is granted the option to follow our own logic and way of thinking. No one has the right to declare themselves the only one with all the answers as of this writing as far at least as I am aware.

Have a blessed day. Dance with the butterflies and smell the delicate fragrances spring has in her bag for you on this lovely Sunday. Kiss a frog, make a friend, be open to all that is wild and beautiful. When we are surrounded with so much unrest sometimes, we must find peace within ourselves.

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I am mucking about in my life at the moment. At times it feels like I am sloshing through a vat of deep, sticky goo. My feet are cumbersome and heavy as I try to drag them out of one tight spot, only to find I’ve stepped into another. This is a temporary state of mind. I am not, by nature, a being who stays down long, but for this moment this is where I seem to find myself. I have taken my costume with the large red “S” emblazoned on the front to the dry cleaners. I feel I may need it over the next few months and want to make sure it is cleaned and pressed.

Doors close throughout our lifetimes, allowing room for other doors to open. Like a snake lying in the warm sun, I slowly slither out of the old me, allowing the new me to emerge and flourish. What the transformation looks like, I have no single idea. It could be I will move, or it could be I will not. If I stay here, I will have to supplement my income as I planned for two years in this house in my budget to get situated, and I’ve already exceeded that by another six months. Ach, that will mean a part-time job. I was considering pet sitting. I am not very big as a human, so it would have to be small pets. When I first moved up to my house in the mountains, I volunteered at the local pet rescue to be a dog walker. When I arrived at the facility the first day, the owner said after seeing me, “this isn’t going to work”. Apparently they had a lot of large breed dogs, including pit bulls, and she felt they might view me as an afternoon snack. So, for two years I worked with the abandoned and lost kitties. Loved it. I could go back to office work, although I’d rather gnaw off my own foot. I know, I could try neurosurgery! Haven’t tried that as yet. The dust has not settled since my mother’s death, or even begun to fall gently to the ground. I guess the urge to do something is stronger than to simply sit here and feel the pain of her loss.

There could be a mate in my future, or perhaps I will walk alone? This, as with so many things, remains unseen behind filmy gauzy veils waiting to be revealed. Hopefully, I will find someone to walk next to me again. By nature, I’m a bit of a nester. I enjoy having someone to share my day with, or fuss over from time to time. There is another side of me which also enjoys my alone time, so should I find someone interested in me that I’m interested in, there’s that. There is movement in the wind sending vibrations to my soul that someone is coming. Will be interesting to see where I find myself a year from now. It is best to relax into the journey and not sweat the outcome, or so I believe.

The rain is coming down heavily outside. Easter is tomorrow. My children are gathering together with theirs and me to celebrate today. I am cooking. This is the source of great angst for me right now, because I have to admit I’m out of the habit of standing at the stove. I’m hoping it’s like falling off a horse. I will just hop back on it’s back and lope off down the trail without missing a beat. I decided to do old staples of mine like twice baked potatoes and garlic bread. Both are hard to mess up, although with my track record of late, I can probably make it happen. I cleaned my house yesterday from top to bottom. Rick used to think that such a ridiculous ritual. “You clean the house”, he would say, “so people can come over and completely mess it up”. “Yep, that’s the plan”. Good, bad, or indifferent that’s how I was raised and that is what I do.

I did make the twice baked potatoes yesterday in between dusting and vacuuming, because they are the most labor intensive. The rest of it, I left until this morning. Easy peasey. Nothing in this house ever goes wrong unless it’s a weekend or a holiday. I woke up early, which is also what I do. If I sleep past five I run an ad in the paper celebrating my recent success. After coffee and a bowl of cereal, I caught up on a bit of news and made my way into the kitchen. Placing the bags of Brussels sprouts on my counter I needed to trim and cook, I was thinking to myself I’d actually made it this far without a misstep, and was feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing. Deciding I would wash my hair first to get it out of the way, I opened the cupboards under the kitchen sink to retrieve my shampoo and conditioner. To save me time, the two containers and half of the rest of the contents of the lower cupboard floated out onto the floor on their own. Very handy, if there wasn’t now water everywhere all over my clean floor. “Ah, Murphy, you sly old puss, you let me get a false sense of security this time before doing your worst.” Picking up my phone, I texted my landlord. Thankfully, he is the nicest of humans and lives directly across the street. Telling me he’d arrive in fifteen minutes, I was instructed to get everything out from under the sink and put towels down. Done and done. Getting in my grateful mode, which sometimes takes a lot of energy, I said aloud I was thankful he was home on a holiday weekend and could get here to take a look at the pipes. Otherwise, it would have been In n Out cheeseburgers for all, which was beginning to sound better and better with each tick of the clock. If I had no water, then no dishwasher, or ice tea or dinner. Grateful, grateful, grateful, that’s me.

So, turns out two pipes had completely disconnected. It was a twenty minute fix, and I am up and running again. If this is the worst thing I have to deal with in my life, I will be A-OK. This will be our first holiday without our matriarch. That her death was not unexpected, doesn’t make it any less of a loss. She was so significant to our family, and will be sorely missed by each and every one of us. Today we will tell funny stories of her, as she provided us with scrapbooks full of material, and remember how without her none of us would be seated around my table celebrating Easter. It is a time of thankfulness and family, of loss, sacrifice, and rebirth. I hope it finds all of you seated around a table with loved ones, or hiding Easter eggs in your yards, or kissing your babies or theirs. Remember to say what you feel in your heart to your loved ones every opportunity you get. Life is serendipitous and you never know when you won’t have the chance to say it the next time. Also, remember to be kind to yourself. We humans are often our own worse critics.

Looking at my life now, I realize how very much I’ve changed over the past four years. Change is part of life and certainly I am not unfamiliar with it, but I mean I’ve changed in deep and profound ways my entire essence. Where I used to love to cook and putz around the house, these days I prefer being outside under the trees or walking along a mountain path next to a stream. I will begin the process of remolding myself once again as I step over this hurdle as well, and most likely not recognize myself by the time I reach the end of my journey.

Happy Easter to you and yours!!

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I sat quietly in my mother’s room, a bit player in a lonely vigil as her life began to wind down. I was there to bear witness to her releasing the last of her connections to this consciousness, and help send her on her way to her next destination. To me, it felt as though she was inside the basket of a huge hot air balloon hovering above the ground, with only one rope remaining attached. Once that rope was freed, she could soar unencumbered up, up, up into the sky until she finally disappeared into the clouds.

”What is she thinking”, I wondered, as a thought appeared to scroll across her lovely face? Is she afraid, or is she open to discovering the mysteries lying beyond what we mere mortals are given to understand?”

Her skin, though having shielded her body for nearly a century, remained smooth, still tinted with a natural rosy hue further accentuating her now very prominent cheekbones. I kept watch on the slow rise and fall of her chest, finding myself on high alert waiting for the next breath of air to be drawn into her lungs.

I whispered in her ear my thanks and gratitude for loving me unwaveringly, even when I was displaying the less lovable facets of my personality. I thanked her for being my biggest fan in whatever I attempted to accomplish, and for the happiness shining in her face every time she saw mine.

We had a good run she and I. Mother and daughter can often be such a convoluted relationship, fraught with potholes and often more challenging than traversing a minefield. It hasn’t always easy between us. We lived together as adults twice, The first time was for three months, and the second for six. At the end of the six month period, I left and found my own space because I knew if I did not, our relationship would be damaged and it meant more to me than having a less expensive place to hang my hat.

Though we looked much alike, we were, at the root of us, very different beings. My mother slow and methodical by nature, where I live in hyper drive, taking a more shotgun approach to my world. She was ever the fashion plate from the top of her well coiffed head to the tips to her well appointed shoes. For me, it has forever been jeans and tee shirt. So unalike were we, I used to tease her that when she was leaving the hospital with me, the nurses had handed her the wrong baby. In spite of our differences, we came together seamlessly, finding a way to mend our fences and stand on common ground. Loving to laugh was a trait we shared equally and did together often.

It has been a long slow process saying goodbye to my mother. Dementia stole her from us a piece at a time. Her essence remained, however, and will continue to remain long after her body is cremated and her ashes scattered across the waves. Her essence will remain in all the smiling photos held fast by magnets on family refrigerators, or in pages of endless albums filled with shots of her holding my children and theirs, but most of all, it will remain in the hearts of the people she touched. She was Mum, Grandma Mary, Grammy Mary, Great Grandma Mary, to the youngest of our clan, and Aunt Mary, but most of all she was a grand old broad, who lived her life on her terms, loved a bit of mischief, and was always there for those of us who loved her so.

My mother passed away at 6:30 yesterday morning. My world seems much more empty as I write those words. Some people believe we choose our parents before coming into this world. If that is true, I chose well.

Fly free my dear little mama. leave the much detested wheelchair and achy old bones behind, and feel the wind beneath your wings. I will be the vessel for your story, and see you again at the bend in the road, where we will again turn and walk hand and hand together. Please have a can of salt and vinegar Pringles waiting for me. I love you unabashedly, your one and only chick.

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Along with the entire world feeling a bit like a shoe that doesn’t fit these days, the weather here in Northern California has been totally unpredictable. A week ago I was running about in shorts and flip flops and today I have on a sweater, boots and a puffer coat. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind when swapping my winter clothes for lighter weight summer ones to hold out a few sweaters “just in case”. Day before yesterday we were treated to actual rain. I know! I was sure it would really rain because I washed my car the day before. Maybe if I washed my car more often, our rain buckets would look more abundant?

Sunday night I sat down after a very busy weekend to relax and watch the Oscars. “Not so fast”, Susie. I’m watching as Chris Rock takes the stage as a presenter. For those of you unfamiliar with what happened next (if you are I will have to assume you live in either a cave in Tibet or an underground bomb shelter), the comedian told a poorly chosen joke at the expense of Jada Pinkett Smith, poking fun at her hair loss. Smith suffers from alopecia and has shaved her head. Seeing the uncomfortable expression on his wife’s face, Will Smith suddenly launched out of his seat. Smith made his way with determination to the stage and proceeded to to knock the molars out of Rock’s mouth, figuratively not literally. Returning to his seat, Smith then treated the audience present and at home to a string of expletives while a stunned Rock was still trying to compose himself on stage. What was that all about one asks? I thought at first this was all staged, but noooooo. Aggressive males seeming to taking center stage all over the planet right now. Perhaps we need to begin to look at the possibility there is too much testosterone floating about in the atmosphere with all the other pollutants? I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m pretty sure jarring someone’s teeth loose is not the optimum solution. Just sayin. Please don’t misunderstand me, I think there’s plenty of blame to go around. I don’t find anything amusing about making fun of someone going through a health issue. However, comedians have been telling mean spirited jokes for years. I remember going to see Don Rickles in Reno once. He could slice through a steel bar with his tongue. My husband wanted to sit at the front by the stage, but I vetoed that whole program. Personally, I don’t find humor that demeans other people funny, but that’s personally.

When my kids were young, I used to tell them to be careful with their words. Words, to my mind, are the most powerful tools we humans have in our arsenals. Well chosen words can wound often far deeper than the sharpest of swords. Once they have been said, though an apology can be offered, they are never truly erased.

Moving on to other subjects, this week is absolutely flying past me. I can’t seem to catch up. Don’t know if it’s the recent time change, or my life has simply gotten busier of late, but everything feels a bit chaotic. Last night I was in the middle of a particularly unsettling dream when a friend called at the most climatic moment. Why is it when you are woken up from a dream a fog settles over you for the rest of the day? Well, perhaps it’s only when I’m woken up from a dream. In my weekly grief group this morning I was so groggy my head kept flopping from side to side like a recently caught catfish lying on the bottom of the boat. For a moment I was afraid I was going to fall asleep and face plant on the desk in the middle of the presentation.

Being in a group of like minded individuals, or in this case other human beings sharing a common thread, has for me been the bridge to allow me to cross over to the other side in my grief process. Having two men die in a row of the same disease within a four year period has been a large pill to swallow. One thing I will say is, going through the first experience, provided me with a lot of tools which I have used to traverse the second more easily, or at least understand the process better. I feel at last as if I’ve stepped out from beneath the shadow of a massive tree, and can feel the sun shining fully on my face. Now that I am standing in the clearing with nothing before me but space, I must determine what to fill that space with going forward.

Life is such a curious experience, I think, having added some notches to my belt at this stage of the game. It’s not a place where you can really sit down, put up your feet, lean your head back and ever totally relax. It always seems it is at the time I assume that posture, something seems to show up that has me back up and standing on my feet again.

I had lunch today with a gentleman interested in having lunch with me. When he asked to get together, I thought “why not”. I’m not sure what adventures the next few years will promise, but I am open to looking at new faces and learning more about them, or exploring the possibilities of what or who is out there. I found when driving into the restaurant parking lot, I had a flutter (the collective name for a group of them) of butterflies doing a samba in my digestive track. I haven’t “dated”, if you will, since I met Rick in 2000. Things have changed. I have changed. The walk to the front door was dominated by a conversation being engaged in between my head and my feet, with my head telling my feet to continue walking in the direction they were headed and not to turn and run the length of the parking back to my car. When I walked inside and saw him seated on a bench, my mind began screaming at me “run, save yourself”. In spite of the incessant nagging going on between my ears, I managed to say hello. The hostess greeted us, and led us to a booth towards the back of the room. Handing us each a menu and asking about drinks, we were then left to our own devices. After getting the initial “weather updates and how are you’s” out of the way, we began the age old ritual of getting to know one another. He talked about himself, I commented. I talked about myself, he commented. I looked at him over the rims of my glasses, and he, in turn, looked at me over his.

I ordered lunch, because that was, after all, why we were there. I had decided I wasn’t going to be anything but who I am, and who I am likes to eat. After a few moments of awkward conversation the food arrived. As we began to eat and talk, we also began to relax. The time passed easily between us and before long I found I was enjoying myself. When our time together had ended, we agreed it would be nice to get together again. Whether this happens or not remains hidden around the bend, but if it does, I believe I will look forward to looking at him over my glasses once again and learning more of his story.

Anyhow, new beginnings. This does not mean the people left behind aren’t carried with me, but only that I am making room for new experiences and saying yes to new possibilities.

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