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As mentioned in my last writing, I spent the good part of a week in Oregon recently. As much as I love a good road trip, because I had limited time, I decided to fly rather than drive. It has been many years since I’ve boarded a plane. 2010, being the last time. With all the TSA rules and regulations in place, plus all the digital tools available now in the airports for self-checking, I found myself a little nervous. Thankfully, in spite of my misgivings, getting to the Portland airport turned out to be a fairly stress free process. That being said, the return trip came around with little trepidation attached to it. Looking at my life up to this point, I should have known better. Some sort of internal alarm should have been going off loudly in my ear warning “It’s a trap. Run, save yourself.”

The day I was to return home, I had Siri sound the alarm to rouse me out of bed well before the rooster crowed. My flight was scheduled to depart at 9:00 a.m. If we were to get to the airport at the suggested two hours prior to boarding time, we needed to leave her house no later than 5:30. Ach. I had chosen the early flight solely because it was the only non-stop available between Portland and Sacramento on the day I wanted to come home. Since the actual air time between the two airports amounts to only an hour plus some change, taking a non-stop flight, which required two to three stops somewhere in the middle, hadn’t sounded that appealing. As instructed, I went on line at exactly 24 hours prior to my flight to check in and print out my boarding pass. Even with checking in at the precise moment, 55 people managed to get checked in before I did. Someone told me later, you could pay extra to pre-check in when purchasing your ticket. These days you pay extra for most things flying related. Being No. 56 was fine and dandy for my part. I was satisfied just to be included in the first group on the plane. This is a really important step to complete if you’re traveling “steerage class” such as I was. It’s not like in First Class where the flight attendants carry you onto the plane on a litter fanning you with palm fronds, and deposit you in a comfortable recliner in front of a big screen TV and hand feed you grapes for the remainder of your time on board. Oh no. In steerage you are crammed together with your knees tucked under your chin praying nobody next to you has a contagious disease. Should you recline your seat during the flight in steerage, you will find yourself seated in the lap of the person seated directly behind you. If you are not in the first couple of groups boarding a flight, it can be difficult to find an overhead bin to store your carry ons in and sometimes it will leave you scrounging about looking for a seat if the flight is full.

The night before, I had read an article talking about the mars retrograde we are currently experiencing. Whether I’m fully on board with how much influence retrogrades have in my life or not, it has become clear to me, at least in my life, they seem to have some effect. This particular period of disruption is scheduled to last through the end of 2022, seeping over ever so slightly into 2023. According to the writer of the article, mars has a history of being a pesky little planet. When in control, it enjoys stirring the pot, then sitting back once it’s really begun to boil, to watch and see what floats to the surface. Chaos, she went on to say, is the planet’s super fuel. Under the umbrella of such a retrograde, life can often become a little more difficult to maneuver, and relationships seem a little trickier to keep on the straight and narrow. I tried not to project any snarls into my upcoming travel. It had been such a relatively snarl free trip thus far. I wanted to simply lean back and bask in the glory of it all.

While my friend was getting ready to drive me to the airport, I poured myself a second cup of coffee. Shortly thereafter, she emerged from her room fully dressed, but looking a bit green around the gills. Before I could ask what was up, she ran past me to the sink and relieved herself of the cheeseburger and fries we’d eaten the previous night. Oh-oh. From where I stood, looked like everything was up. Huh. I straddled the fence at that point between worrying about my friend, and wondering how on earth I was going to maneuver myself to the airport. Because it cut costs considerably, I had purchased a non-refundable ticket. Mainly this meant I either showed up at the assigned gate at the designated time, or I purchased a new ticket at a much higher price. Hindsight being 20/20, this ticket was perhaps not the best option in the event of an unplanned emergency. Now, I could have gone to Plan B, which had me standing on the state highway with my carry on bag while holding one thumb up in the air. As the temps were hovering in the low thirties this plan wasn’t doing much for me right at that moment. Plan C was Uber. Because we were still in pre-rooster time, and my friend lives in a small town in a rural area, Uber wasn’t up for the challenge of putting wind beneath my wings either. Sigh. Oh my. After a few minutes, my friend managed to keep a piece of toast down, and in a few more, she felt she was up to driving me to Portland in spite of the upset tummy. I felt guilty having to drag her out into the cold, but unless I sprouted wings, in four hours the bird was going to take flight without me. At that point, I wanted to pin a Courage Under Fire badge on her sash for being such a good scout. The gods were with us and she not only got me to the airport in record time, but was feeling much better by the time we arrived. We said our goodbyes and as she drove off, I disappeared into the belly of the beast, more commonly known as the Portland Airport.

Getting my bearings once inside, I looked for an arrival and departure kiosk to help me locate my gate, but didn’t see one. A woman wearing an airline uniform and holding a sign reading “ask me” stood by the corridor leading up the ramp to security. So, I “asked her” in passing which gate the flight to Sacramento departed from, to which she provided me with the gate number plus directions. Security was the usual maze of lanes leading up to the agents. I got in line behind the last person and waited my turn. At the counter, I was informed I was in the wrong line, and was redirected to the line right next to me with about five times as many people standing in it. It seemed you had to pay to stand in the shorter line. Of course. Fine. Dutifully, I went around to the no-pay line and waited my turn. Once my papers had been reviewed and okayed, I was ushered over to the security conveyor belt. There you are handed large plastic trays in which you must deposit everything from your shoes to your false teeth so they can be scanned before you are allowed to pass on to the departure gates. The lady in front of me was tiny like a little bird and appeared to be about ninety. How she managed to deal with all this by herself was beyond me. I couldn’t help her, I could barely help myself. I was in a life and death struggle with my new boots which were acting as though I’d Crazy Glued them to my feet before leaving the house. Damn vanity just wouldn’t let me go up that extra half a size to make room for my winter socks. Once my possessions were on their way down the moving belt, I headed to the archway, where I was to be x-rayed. Stepping into the arch all the bells and whistles went off. Yup, everything works. Oh it’s not a routine test, it’s me. Sigh. Does this face look like a uni-bomber? Ah well, it is for all our protection. A female agent stepped forward, and I was put through the paces. Hands up, hands down, lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight. Finger up your nose, touch your toes. I felt afterwards either she and I should be picking out china patterns or I ought to filing an incident report somewhere. Whew. At last I was released to gather my belongings and be on my way. The country was safe for another day.

Looking at the gate arrows, I followed the one directing me to E10 as the “ask me” lady had suggested. Yay, almost there. My feet were doing the happy dance. Unlike Sacramento, there are no trams in Portland. At the Sacramento airport trams are available to shuttle passengers to their gates. There are no seats inside, but poles are provided for riders to hang on to. Being an old subway commuter from my days working in downtown Boston, I knew the poles weren’t there simply for decoration, but for good reason. When I got in, I set my suitcase down and wrapped my fingers around the closest free pole. The young woman next to me was busy texting on her phone, both hands engaged. Hmmmm. The automated voice came over the speaker announcing the tram was preparing to pull out of the docking station. This, I would assume, by way of warning you to hold on. I caught the girls eye, and asked if she’d like to share the pole I was using. “Nope, all good”, came the response. Kay. The tram lurched out of the station, rocking several times jerkily from side to side. The forward thrust propelled the girl halfway through the tram until a good samaritan reached out and caught her arm before she’d made it the full length of the car. Seeing her wrap her fingers around the nearest pole once she shook herself off and stood up, I resisted installing the “I told you so” program onto my lips. Believe me, I’ve chosen the “really stupid idea” option more times than not during my travels across this planet. Who am I to fault anyone else for doing so?

But I digress, no trams in Portland and no poles. In the Portland Airport you either walk or take the intermittent moving sidewalks. Don’t misunderstand me, I love to walk. However, it had been a tiring day, and it wasn’t yet 7 a.m. yet and I needed more caffeine. Also, I had my carry on bag, pull type happily, my coat, and a handbag across one shoulder that weighed about fifty pounds containing everything I’d bought on my trip I couldn’t cram in my carry on. All good. So, I walked. After that, I walked some more, and then when that was done, I walked some more. I wasn’t confident I was still inside the Oregon state line by the time I saw E10 posted over a flight desk. Yay. Noting the flight listed under E10 was not my flight, I asked the gate attendant if my flight was on time. “Yes”, he told me in his best airline voice, “it is on time”. Good news. “However, it is not on time at this gate.” Really? Insert unhappy smiley face here. My flight, so he told me, departed from Gate D10. OMG. So, I schlepped the mile and a half back to the original hallway, made a sharp left, and began the next leg of my trip down another long expanse of open road. All I needed were the tin man, the scarecrow and the cowardly lion, to make this work. Just then, the handle on my carry on snapped like a twig. At that point, I began to laugh. I laughed as I walked and walked carrying my carry on. Sometimes that’s all you can do is laugh. The allure of caffeine was beginning to fade being replaced with thoughts of a vodka tonic with a slice of lime as I passed one of the myriad of bars evident along the different arteries of the terminal. No, at 3 p.m. I might feel good about saying “it’s five o’clock somewhere”, but at 7:45 in the morning I’m just not ready to belly up to the bar and knock one down for the Gipper. I did notice what looked like a man in a pilot’s uniform drinking a bloody Mary which I found a wee tad concerning.

At last I made it to Gate D10. Thankfully, my flight was listed beneath the gate designation. I took my place in line when boarding began and occupied a middle seat on the plane, squeezed in the middle of two large men, like the cream filling in an oreo. I had made it. Drink orders were taken by a crew member, and we were handed a wee bag of nummies which contained four pretzels, some melba toast, and I believe I found several peanuts. I didn’t care, I ate them all and then licked my finger and dabbed at the salt. It had been a long morning.

So, I feel better now that I’ve tried it and made it through the labyrinth. I understand the process, so next time there won’t be any worries, other than the usual pitfalls like broken luggage and misinformation when I go again. Next time I am hoping I will traveling to Canada to visit my relatives there. Then, of course, I can add customs to the equation which is a whole other kettle of fish. Last time I traveled to my homeland was with my mother. They took her at customs and I wasn’t sure they were going to give her back. Whew.

Anyhow, no worries for today. We have a COVID outbreak where I work so I am headed into the fray armed with my N95 mask and a big bottle of hand sanitizer. Happy Saturday.

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This past week I visited my old friend, Sam (short for Saelitha), living in beautiful Independence, Oregon. I arrived Monday morning by air to bitter cold, rainy weather. Once she gathered my shivering body from in front of the baggage claim, it was an hour and a half drive from the Portland Airport to Independence. There wasn’t much to see along the way, except the steady onslaught of rain sliding down outside the car windows. However, by Tuesday, the clouds had cleared, providing me with a lovely, if chilly, glimpse of the countryside around me. I had forgotten, not having been in this area for twenty-five plus years, how much the northwest has to offer.

My friend has a lovely cozy little two bedroom apartment butting up against the Willamette River. Like my little house, hers is the perfect nest for one. Add an additional body, things begin to feel a bit tighter. I think of it sort of like wearing heavy wool socks under your boots in the winter. Without the socks, your boots fit just right. But once the addition of the socks are in place, the boots start to feel a little more cramped. Also, like my house, her second bedroom serves as a craft and pseudo office area. The original plan for my stay, was for me to sleep on the queen sized blow up mattress she had laid out on the floor in the second bedroom. Perfect. Being an old camper, and a bit of a nomad, I have slept on, and rolled off, many such beds in my life, so am familiar with the process.

Before it was time to turn in, we used the automatic pump to inflate the mattress, then made up the bed. About an hour after I dozed off, I woke up to find my backside resting on the hard floor. Now granted, this mattress was easily reinflated, but if the air didn’t remain inside the mattress, having the automatic inflation feature really wouldn’t prove much of an advantage. This reminded me of a time with my ex-husband. We had moved from West Virginia to Southern California. Our furniture was stored six plus states away. According to the moving and storage, they were backed up with summer moves and it was going to take six weeks for our household goods to catch up with us. In the interim, we borrowed a blow up mattress from a friend to see us through. The loaner wasn’t of the convenient variety that inflates itself, but rather one you had to manually pump. As we were displaced, so were our animals. Used to sleeping at the end of the bed, once the mattress was on the floor, the cat took this as her invitation to hop on board and make herself at home. Kitty (sadly her actual name) was a kneader. I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you that large plastic balloons filled with air and sharp cats claws do not a happy match make. By about 2:30 each night, our bodies would reach floor level. A half an hour’s pumping later we were back in business til the following morning when the second batch of air would have completely escaped. At one point, I suggested we just sleep on the floor and call it good, but he wasn’t hearing of it. Oh no. I have never been so happy to see a moving truck as I was that one when that one finally pulled in our driveway with our king sized bed housed inside. OMG.

Back at my friends in Oregon, we tried twice to fill the mattress. Both times, my backside was flat on the floor within the hour. Obviously, there was a leak somewhere. I inspected the mattress, as well as the box it came in. As I suspected, a hole had been chewed in both. Whenever you store anything in the attic, you run the the risk a resident rodent might find it interesting during its time there. My son had his entire herd of lighted lawn reindeer totally destroyed by rodents. There was nothing but hooves and snouts left by the time the rats got through with them. Realizing that the original sleeping arrangement wasn’t going to work, we tried Plan B settling me in on the love seat in the living room. The long legs my mother passed on to me, though perfectly suited for taking lovely long strides while out for a brisk walk, were not much good when left to dangle limply over the end of the small loveseat until all the feeling had drained out of them. Nope, Plan B scrapped, it was on to Plan C. Plan C was to be two peas in a pod in her bed, with a plus one. The plus one, a Lhasa Apso answering to the name of Pepper. All good. Boo sleeps with me at home so I am not unaware of what pet cohabitation looks like. Sleeping with a pet can have it’s downside at times. Boo, for whatever reason, seems to get pleasure out of licking the back of my head while I sleep. I know. I looked it up and apparently that is the cat’s way of showing their human they are accepted as part of their tribe. Nice. In this case, neither of the two legged occupants snored, cuddled, or fought for control of the covers, so we cohabited well. The dog, however, I have to report, was a bit of a bed hog. At one point he slept in between us with his back pressed against mine and his paws stretched out against her.

Sleeping arrangements settled, we turned our attention to making plans for the limited time I would be staying with her. The next day, with a full agenda of places we wanted to visit, we decided we had better gas up first before getting on the road. Pulling up next to a bank of pumps, a man quickly approached the drivers side window. After a brief exchange with my friend, he left. Curious, I asked what he wanted. Turns out he was asking about filling her tank. I had forgotten in Oregon it is still illegal to pump your own gas. Wow, haven’t seen that in like, forever. Remember the really old days when a man in a neatly pressed uniform and ball cap bounded out to your car at a full serve station and, well, served you? I KNOW! He would check your water, oil, fluids, tires, wash your windows, AND fill your tank. Good Lord, what were they thinking actually providing service at what is called, yes, say it, a Service Station. Perhaps that is why they mainly refer to them as gas stations rather than service stations these days, because gas is really all they provide. What a great law to have on the books though, making it illegal to pump your own gas. California could use some fun legislation like that. Laws like, say, making it illegal to work on Friday or every month with an “A” in it must include at least one week of paid vacation time. Let’s put the fun back in politics. I don’t know about you, but it’s certainly lost it’s appeal for me lately the way things stand now in the political arena. The gas pump attendant told us Oregonians would most likely only enjoy a couple more years of this privilege before it disappears. Apparently only three states still have such a law on the books. We humans really know how to put the buzz in buzz kill.

Once we got out into the countryside I was immediately impressed with how verdant everything is in Oregon. I’d almost forgotten what a long expanse of green grass looks like. Fall was really showing it’s colors in the area. At times, the hues on the trees were so vibrant they nearly took my breath away. Along with the glorious fall plumage there were so many farms. Farming is a big part of the areas culture. One beautifully maintained farmhouse after another caught my eye as we drove along the backroads. I have always wondered what life would have been like had I chosen to be a farmers wife. Living in the suburbs of Southern California where I spent my teenage years, surfers were plentiful, and golden haired six pack bearing jocks, but there weren’t many farmers navigating the dating pool I was swimming in. The closest I got to experiencing farm life as an adult, was during the two weeks I spent on the cattle ranch in Manitoba. As glorious a time as I had while there, driving tractors along rutted fields and herding cows, I don’t know if I’d want to sign on full time. I straddle the fence, I think, between being a city girl and a country girl. I lean more towards less populated areas, avoiding metropolitan cities or bustling suburbs. However, I do like to see my neighbors outside my window and like to have community, so guess I’m a smidgen of one and a dash of the other.

I’m glad to be home again. As always, it is fun to go away, and good to come back full circle again. I’ll tell you about my return visit in my next writing. That was a day for going in the closet with the tequila and the fiery Cheetos I’m telling you. Happy Friday!!

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There is actually rain on the ground this morning. Granted, not much more than a sprinkling, but I’m counting it. According to the weather lady on my favorite news show, much more is predicted to fall over the next week. This is a good thing. Our poor trees here on the water deprived west coast are looking sad, my friends, and that makes me sad. There is little doubt anymore the world climatically changing. I, for one, am happy I was born when I was, when there wasn’t much really to concern ourselves with on the weather front. Now, there were other things to occupy our thoughts certainly. We weren’t stress free back in the day by any means. For example, when I was in elementary school we had “duck and cover” drills. This was during the Cold War Era, when the red menace lingered on everybody’s minds. Duck and cover drills required students to crouch beneath tables and desks and put their hands over their heads. This posturing, it seemed, was to keep us safe in the event some idiot somewhere on the planet pushed the button marked “nuclear annihilation”. Even though I was but a peanut at that time of my life, the idea my desk was in any way going to save me from extinction should an atom bomb be detonated in my vicinity, seemed a ridiculous concept even to my yet unformed mind. Haven’t moved on that assessment as of this writing, by the way. To me, that solution was tantamount to holding a tennis racquet in front of your face to protect yourself from an acid assault. Really? Did anyone believe this? Please hold up your hand.

We didn’t have as many things to worry about as we have on the radar now. There was less information available on, well, just about everything. Smoking, for instance. Nobody worried about it. The information available on tobacco use was far sketchier in the 50’s and 60’s than what is at our fingertips these days. Smoking back in the day was a social phenomenon. Everybody across the social strata from milkman to movie star was doing it. Cigarette companies were not likely to publish anything alerting us to the dangers of their popular product, lest it put a damper on their ballooning bottom line. Everyone old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes, it seemed, had a cigarette pack on their person. Commercials pushed the product to the unsuspecting public. Billboards touted the killer weed with inviting captions like “more doctors prefer smoking Camel cigarettes than other cigarette”. Today, if you light up, you are practically a pariah, but back in the 60’s, people had gold cigarette trays on their coffee tables to offer to their guests. Nowadays, most rental units don’t allow smoking. All government, hospital, or public buildings certainly prohibit anyone lighting up either inside or on the grounds of their facilities. People, before we were educated about lung cancer, emphysema, and all the other top of the line tobacco related diseases, smoked everywhere. Theaters always had a cloud of smoke hovering around the screen. Bars, airports, offices, banks, markets, all had available ashtrays for people to toss their butts in once they’d sucked the nicotine out of their favorite smoke. You haven’t lived until you’ve flown five hours cooped inside an airline with everyone inhaling and exhaling. I smoked back in those days, and even I wanted to strap a parachute on and bail out an exit door. Once rumors of the side effects began surfacing, there began to be non-smoking sections for those wishing to abstain. The smoking and non-smoking sections were located directly next to one another. I always thought this such a waste of energy. The tables on the borderline of the non-smoking area weren’t getting much benefit from the delineation, or any of the non-smoking tables, if the truth be known. Smoke doesn’t have the discipline to remain only in a cordoned off section of the room, it tends to migrate.

You could get hooked for considerably cheaper in the early days as well. A carton of cigarettes ran you about $3.50. Today, purchasing. a carton won’t leave you with enough change out of a hundred dollar bill to come up with bus fare. Vaping, seems to be slightly more acceptable, particularly with the younger generation. Yesterday I saw a van driving along with what I believe were two riders inside. Looked to be the driver and one passenger. It was hard to tell who was behind the windshield, because they were vaping and there was so much smoke inside the cab at first I thought the vehicle might have been on fire. I don’t know if vaping is purported to be better for you than cigarettes, but sitting inside that bubble of fumes can’t possibly be good for you.

I am working today, though actually less working, than looking busy, which is a pastime I find more exhausting than plowing a forty acre field. Not that I’ve ever plowed a forty acre field, mind you, or any field for that matter. However, it seemed like a good frame of reference. The powers that be have told me should I find myself bereft of something to do, I am welcome to do what I would like. As it happens today, what I would like to do is write a blog.

Half the population of the retirement facility I work for, seems to be seated in the lobby with me. It’s cold and rainy, so no outside excursions, and the activity person, usually a presence on the weekends, has left the company for greener pastures. Finding a person to replace her, has proved to be a longer process than anticipated. I arranged with the kitchen to have a hot chocolate and snack cart delivered so everyone is on a chocolate and marshmallow high at the moment and having a good time. There is a fairly high turnaround in this business. People burn out like old candles after a while. The employees working in the memory units of such establishments really need a huge pat on the back. It is not an easy job, and to be good at it requires much empathy and an extra special dose of patience. Like so many businesses, we are short staffed this year. The pandemic really threw a wrench in the works when it comes to employment. The recruiting sites appear to have an abundance of jobs and I have admit I am curious as to where the workers who used to fill these positions have disappeared to. Applying for a job I’ve noticed has become a real process. I pulled an “application packet” for a prospective employee yesterday that should have been delivered on a hand truck. When I accepted the position here, before I could finalize my paperwork, I had to be fingerprinted, pass a background check, and get a complete physical. Then, I had to go through a grueling two weeks of watching mind numbing videos before I could actually begin to learn the job I was hired for. Amazing. If I was going to be pivotal in planning the next moonshot for NASA, it would make sense, but for a two day a week concierge position at a 56 bed nursing home it smacks a bit of overkill. Just my opinion, naturally, and as far as I know nobody asked me to toss it in the ring. For my part, I’m just happy to have found a little niche that I can fit myself comfortably in. I work two consecutive eight hour days and can call the rest of the week my own. I make enough in both paychecks to nicely pad my income every month thus allowing me to do some of the frills and extras I like to enjoy. This without attracting much interest from the IRS and having to give a lot of it back. All good on all counts.

One of the perks a little extra jing in my bank account will afford me, is I will be getting on a plane on Monday morning for a visit to Oregon. A friend of mine sharing a very close birthday date with me has invited me up to see her new apartment and do a little celebrating. Yay. I find myself unusually nervous about flying this time. Not because it simply isn’t fun anymore (to me it’s like boarding a bus in the sky), but because it’s all so different since twelve years ago when I last boarded a plane. I have to measure my cosmetics apparently and can only take 3 oz. of each. K. I am taking a carry on bag a friend gave me. Now, let me preface this by saying I am not well known for my light packing skills. Usually I take enough with me that should we say be snowed in for the entire winter, I will be adequately suited up without having to do a load of laundry. Looking at the suitcase open on my bed last night, it looked as if I put in two pairs of underwear and a pair of socks, I would have reached full capacity. Hmmmmm. So, I’ll carry a big handbag I figure. Perhaps I could wear multiple layers and then peel myself like an onion when I get there. If it’s cold here, it’s colder there, so I have to put something in my bag besides underwear and socks to survive.

I have not been in Oregon since 1990. My ex-husband and I made our home in Longview, Washington that year and often traveled down to Oregon to shop (no sales tax) or enjoy a day on the beautiful Oregon coast. If it wasn’t for the fact it insists on snowing there every winter, I really found the northwest a gorgeous place to collect my mail. From time to time when I get to examining the high cost of living here in Northern California, which is every time I get gas, go to the grocery store, or write out my rent check, I think about relocating north. Probably that is as far as I’ll ever get from actually doing it, but I do like to think about it on occasion.

So, I have put away the first four hours of my shift and will head off to lunch. When it’s slow like this getting away from my desk and getting a new perspective even for a half an hour can be helpful. If all else fails, I can drown my sorrows by digging into all the leftover Halloween candy left in the break room.

Have a great weekend. Stay dry, or dance in the rain, whichever is your preference.

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Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written. A lot of anniversaries have come and gone since I last published a post. Rick passed away four years ago the end of September, Dale a year ago in October. Another rite of passage is my birthday coming up in three days. Needless to say, I’m feeling a bit introspective. Feels like a lot has gone on over the past year and a lot is about to go on in the year ahead. My relationship with Richard continues along at a reasonable pace, for me at least. This, I’m sure, will bring some interesting moments to the screen as time goes on. Also, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticed, life is getting damned expensive. Whew. I’m hoping this next year will provide some relief in that area. Lately I go to the store with $100 and come back with a bag of apples. I bought cat litter last week. Used to be a large bag was $8.99. Now, a smaller bag costs me $13.00. I surely don’t have to explain to anyone what the cat does in this litter. It’s not designer litter for heavens sake. The kitty isn’t relieving herself over a bed of crushed emeralds. She’s spoiled, but we haven’t taken the spoilage to those lengths as yet. Although we go into contract negotiations again for her perks at the first of the year. It’s CAT LITTER. OMG. All this price escalating, I believe, is going to make for a very interesting, most likely life changing, November election. People begin to get really antsy when their bottom line is effected. No matter who has the reins once the dust settles, I think we may well be in trouble in this country. I used to watch the news while I had my coffee in the morning, and tune it in once again at night to see what transpired during the day. I don’t always like what is going on in this world, but I do like to be informed about what it is that is going on. These days I find myself switching the news on, and once I know whether it’s going to hot or cold, switching it right back off. The weather report usually takes all of five minutes. Let’s face it, here in Northern California the temperature ranges from hot, to sort of hot, to a little less hot, and then a bit cool, and cool. When we dip into cold, it’s not cold like the temperatures people in the mid section of the U.S. deal with, or those in the Northwest or Northeast. When I see a rain drop on my TV screen I get close to it first to make sure I simply didn’t splatter water or coffee on it, before I begin to celebrate. Two weeks in a row they have predicted rain on different given days. Thus far I haven’t seen one actual raindrop squeezed out of it.

Today has been an exceptionally LONG day here at work. Some days are like that, while others seem to disappear before I can even hang my jacket up. A country western trio came to play for the residents at “happy hour”. Made me think I might actually go home, if the clock ever winds around to 4:30, and have a cocktail hour of my own. I had about 3 hours of solid work packed into an eight hour day. I asked around in other areas if they had extra work, did some busy work on the computer that was far from urgent, and then tried to look busy the rest of the day. Looking busy is absolutely deadly for me. At one point, I just threw in the towel and played Mah Jong for an hour. I was raised by my mother and grandmother, both worker bees. Sitting idle for long periods of time is not programmed in my DNA. I’m an old honey maker from way back. I’m not sure I’ve ever watched an entire movie from start to finish without getting up at least ten times or, if I do manage to remain seated, falling asleep somewhere along the way. Simply not a good sitter. Funny, I have hooked up with a poor sitter in Richard as well. He and I are quite alike in many ways. Don’t know yet if this will be a plus going forward, or something that could potentially become extremely annoying. The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding. We won’t know til we’ve actually lived with one another most likely, should that ever come to pass. That last statement sends shivers down my spine. I have become accustomed to coming and going as I please, wearing mismatched pajamas to bed, eating cereal and a banana for dinner if the mood moves me, and not putting on makeup or washing my hair on occasion and letting it all hang out. Richard seems to think we should change our status, I disagree. This too, may become a sticking point. Why was it again I said I wanted to get into another relationship? Any input would be appreciated. Sigh.

I grapple at times of late on where I want to go from here. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t been writing as much the past month or so. There’s a lot of thinking going on under this blonde facade, but nothing seems to be exiting the premises. I’m pondering many things. For instance, I am most pleased and thankful I have a job to go to, but can’t help but wonder how long I will be able to sustain these endless long weekend days at work. By the time I get home after an unproductive day, I’m ready for a session with my shrink. Certainly I have had boring days at work over the years before and dealt with it. Perhaps, it’s that I’m getting older. I’m less willing to throw my time up it in the air and waste it, as there is less of it left to waste. If looking at the full cup, rather than the empty one, I could count my blessings and leave it at that. I think when young, we tend to think we have all the time in the world to do the things we wish to accomplish. As there is more time behind us, then there is left ahead of us, this perspective tends to change. Someone told me the other day they admired the fact I was a person who went out and did things. This is not an avenue only available to me, most anyone can avail themselves of it. As I have mentioned, this is my “why not” year and I have said why not to most everything offered to me by way of adventures that wasn’t habit forming or harmful to myself or others. Loved it. Instead of thinking when an idea for an outing is proposed to me, “I’m tired, there is a pile of laundry with my name on it, or the furniture needs dusting”, unless I have an appointment or a previous commitment I try to hop on board and give it a go. Why not? The laundry police aren’t going to arrive at my door and issue me a citation if my sheets don’t get washed until the end of the week. Last I heard they haven’t passed a law against allowing a little dust to accrue on my sideboard, although the way things are going I’d better check on that again after the November elections. There could be one on the books by then. If so, I’ll definitely be in line for a ticket.

The next week or two will not find me gathering much dust either, both literally and figuratively. Halloween is on the calendar Monday, my birthday is on Tuesday (yup officially another year on the books), and then the week follows filled with appointments and activities until it’s back to work again Friday and Saturday. The week after, I’m getting on a plane and going to Oregon to spend a few days with a friend of mine living up around Salem. I’m so excited to be traveling again, even a short hop. Finally, I have all my travel documents in order. It took months to get my passport request filled and my new passport back from the Canadian Embassy. I had given up all hope, assuming there was an embassy employee cavorting on a beach in Cabo with my $400 U.S. dollars out there somewhere, when it finally showed up in my mailbox. When I booked these reservations, I realized I had not stepped foot on a plane since my family reunion in Canada in 2008. Whew. Things have changed a bit. Everything, like everything, is in digital form now. I have to check in on line 24 hours prior to my flight to get my seat assignment and boarding pass. Also luggage is different. It’s not like in the old days where you could pack whatever you wanted to in your bag either. Now, there are regulations mandating how much skin cream you can carry with you, and I was told not to bring hair spray as apparently it is not inconceivable a person could build a bomb in the bottom of the can. They are on to me. That’s what I’m up to on sleepless nights putzing around in my little kitchen. Unless you can pull together something deadly with a pound of broccoli and some lemons, I’m pretty sure I’ll stay off of the 10 Most Wanted List.

Flying really is like taking a bus in the sky anymore. Used to be I loved to fly. It was a sort of spoiled feeling experience. You got movies (free), meals (several choices) – I KNOW, and snacks – STOP IT. Spoiler alert, there actually are packages of pretzels with more than four pretzels inside. Beverages, other than cocktails, were on the house, and really you didn’t pay for anything but the privilege of sitting in your seat once your ticket was purchased. Also, there were travel agents available on every corner of town to help you make your arrangements. I know you are shaking your head and thinking, “YOU ARE TOTALLY PLAYING WITH ME NOW”. These agent’s dedicated jobs were to book your tickets, print your paperwork, book hotels, rental cars or take care of whatever else you needed to make your trip wrinkle free. I often think with the advent of all this amazing technology at our fingertips life got both simpler and more complicated concurrently, if such a thing is possible.

One of the ladies here (the inmates as I affectionately call them), just stopped me to say how glad she was to see me and how much she looked forward to our little conversations at the front desk each weekend. When I wonder what on earth I’m doing here, I find an answer from the universe seems to arrive pretty quickly once the question has been posed.

Well, happy early Halloween. I have bought my $25.00 bag of candy and I am ready for my trick or treaters. I do hope I get some wee bees, or lovely little princesses at my door. They are so cute with their huge eyes and little pumpkin buckets held out expectantly waiting to be filled.

Enjoy your day. Enjoy every day. Talk soon.

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Last week I enjoyed the first vacation I’ve taken in quite a while. Richard was my guide on this road trip. Sunday night he was waiting at my house when I got home from work, and once my copious “gear” was loaded in the trailer, we were on our way. Rolling along I80 our “rig”, as he called it (old truck driver), took up a big chunk of highway. The massive fifth wheel fell in line obediently behind Richard’s truck, and behind that, the boat and trailer bobbed and weaved into view from time to time. Our choice of venues was the mountains, specifically Plumas County in the vicinity of Lake Davis. Richard and I have been dating now for about five months, and are still exploring what it is we like, and what doesn’t fit so well, about one another. This was to be our first trip together, and the most time we have spent in each other’s company. Not sure what that was going to look like, I noticed a few butterflies had taken up residence in my stomach. A reflection, no doubt of that feeling of stepping into the unknown.

I had not been to Plumas County before, or at least as I remembered. The first leg of our adventure took us up I80 towards Tahoe. Then, we cut across the flat expanses of the Sierra Valley, before heading uphill once again at the end of the journey back into the tall trees where Lake Davis was tucked away. As we made our way up, up, up the mountain pass, I was taken in by the beauty of the area. Though burn scars marred the hills in quite a few spots, the forest still remained awe inspiring. All the scenery was lovely to drink in, but it was the sky in particular that continuously held my attention. During the day, the color was the most brilliant shade of blue, with only an occasional white cloud drifting by from time to time to provide a little contrast. Then, when nighttime took over, the sky became an inky backdrop for a million twinkling stars for onlookers to enjoy.

Reaching the top of the hill and passing through the small town of Portola, the lake finally came into view. Other than a few bobbing gulls, there was no one visible on the water. Driving parallel to the lake for a few more minutes, after several more turns in the road it disappeared from view, and before long we arrived at our destination. The campground was named for the mighty grizzly bear, even though the massive animals are not native to that region. Though I needed not to be worried about grizzlies poking their furry noses into my affairs, their brothers and sisters, the brown bears, were definitely to be found lurking about. Signs were posted everywhere warning visitors bears roamed freely and to be prepared by carrying bear spray, and keep them at bay at campsites by disposing of trash in the appropriate bins situated around the parks. The bins were equipped with heavily weighted bars across the top to keep the critters from rooting about for a late night snack in the contents. Though I’m sure we may have had a visitor or two in the night while we slept, I never saw anything more menacing than a chipmunk up close and personal, and was glad to be able to report that. I was told if confronted by a bear, to stand tall, and try to look large and ferocious. Is that all? I’m sure some massive 1,000 lb. bear is going to intimidated by 110 pound me. Somehow, I am not convinced even standing on my tippy, tippy toes and baring (pardon the pun) my teeth, would have any effect on having the beast’s gaping mouth being the last thing I saw before oblivion took the controls. Well, after the bear stopped laughing, of course.

Never having traveled with a fifth wheel before, it was quite an experience watching Richard getting us settled in our spot in the campground. Light was still holding onto the day, but was quickly losing the battle. He worked with an efficiency coming with years of experience, and in no time had the trailer disconnected and leveled. The boat had already been offloaded in the section in the campground designated to store water craft. The trailer situated, there were only the hoses to the water and electrical sources provided with the rental of the campsite that needed to be secured before the trailer was ready to live in. I was more of an impediment then a help, I’m guessing, but Richard was very patient and showed me how things were done and just before the sun pulled up the covers for the day we were set up and ready to go inside. Yay. None too soon for me. I had begun to look about in the creeping shadows to see if I noticed any beady little eyes staring back at me. Since Rick passed away, I’ve been plagued by bear dreams. This brought a bit more reality to those illusions than was in my comfort zone.

Inside the trailer, “slide outs” were moved out to their extended positions. With the flick of a switch, the inside of the trailer moves into position and voila you have a small home on wheels. Love it. In the upstairs area there is a master bedroom with full sized closets, a loo, shower, and sink. In the main salon on the ground floor, there is a dining room table with a leaf, a couch (which makes out into a bed), a recliner (of course), a TV and the kitchen. The kitchen had two sinks, a stove and oven, microwave, and refrigerator freezer. Wow. All the comforts of home. I believe my son would call this “glamping”. Full glamping to my mind wouldn’t involve dishes or cooking, I’m just sayin. Fortunately, because I was exhausted, we had grabbed a sandwich for the road, so none of the equipment needed to be put into use at least for our first night at the campsite. I kept thinking of that old, old movie with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, The Long, Long Trailer”. Really funny movie about traveling with a trailer if you every find it on some ancient TV programming.

Waking up to another gorgeous pre-fall day the following morning, Richard cooked bacon and eggs on the outdoor table top grill while I acquainted myself with the workings of the bathroom inside. The water line on the toilet seemed unusually high, so when he came in I alerted him about it. After looking the patient over, he determined it to have a slow leak. A familiar diagnosis in the over sixty group. It became evident that unless we were to spend our time in the tall trees staring at the toilet bowl to see if it was going to overflow, the water would have to be turned off unless we needed it for a specific task, like washing dishes, showering, or using the toilet itself. No matter how perfect a time you are having, I believe the universe has serious issues with perfection as a concept, so always throws in a little something to keep you on your toes. When speaking to the owner of the campgrounds, as well as the store located at the entrance, about our toilet situation, he told us there were two public bathrooms on the premises should the need arise. Always nice to have a backup.

Looking around, it was obvious a lot of people were there enjoying the area along with us. Nearly every spot had a trailer and equipment set up on it. Oddly though, there weren’t any people evident except Richard and I, and the owner and his wife. Asking where everyone was, we were told that most of the trailers belonged to weekend people who came and went as the mood struck them, and there weren’t any visitors other than ourselves booked until the next weekend. The warmer summer months, and snowy months for ski enthusiasts were the busy seasons, he went on. With fall approaching, and colder days on the horizon, the visitors, he said, would begin to dwindle in numbers. I got the impression there weren’t many people for him to talk to up there other than his wife, because it took about an hour of non-stop conversation, before we could finally back out of the door and escape to go to the lake.

Lake Davis was lovely, though hardly a beehive of activity. Few boats in the water, there were spotty signs of life around the shoreline, and children could be seen playing near the water on the bank across from us. Getting ready to launch the boat, I got out and held the tow line, while Richard backed the boat and trailer down the steep ramp. Up the hill from the launch site two men sat in a truck towing a fishing boat, waiting for us to launch so they could get their day going. Right in the middle of the ramp, our boat slid neatly off the trailer landing with a loud metal bang on the cement. Hmmmmm. Now I’m not an avid fisherman, but I’ve been on a boat many times in my life, owning two. Though admittedly, it’s been awhile since I’ve launched a boat, I don’t believe that is how it is supposed to work. The door on the driver’s seat slowly opened, and Richard stepped out, uttered several unmentionable words, removed his ball cap and scratched his head. The two men in the truck behind us got out as well. All three men stood in a circle shaking their heads and looking at the beached boat. Whoops. Suddenly a woman walked up. The lady was, I’d say, in her seventies, and very buff for her age, or any age. Insinuating herself in the middle of the men, mixing a little estrogen with the testosterone, and surveyed the damage. The men tried several approaches to get the boat back onto the trailer without success. Watching them for a moment, she said she had an idea. She told, or more insisted, Richard get back in the truck and slowly back up. Without hesitation, he did as he was told. I was surprised, actually, but the woman was formidable I’m telling you. As he slowly backed up the lady pulled on the tow line. As he backed up further and further, the boat’s prow rose and rose until it belly flopped forward and was once again situated on the trailer and secured. Go girl power. The woman shook my hand afterwards, and nearly removed my shoulder from the socket. I don’t know what she did to buff up like that but I’d be curious to find out.

Thanking everyone for their help, the band dispersed. The boat got launched at last and we were afloat. Heading out into the center of the lake away from the shore, Richard located “a good fishing spot”(they all looked pretty much the same to me) and slowed to an idle. The fishing gear was retrieved from the back of the boat and Richard loaded up the hooks with the sacrificial worms and some balls of pink “stinky bait” he called it. Slathering ourselves with suntan lotion, we tossed the lines into the water allowing them to troll along beside us. Within ten minutes, I had the first catch of the day on the end of my line and in the cooler, and shortly thereafter Richard added a second fish to the pot. I was enchanted by the site of four pelicans floating along in the water not far from where we were fishing. Every now and again one of them would turn upside down to retrieve something floating about under the surface. Canada geese passed overhead, honking loudly to let us know they were headed north for the winter, and several pairs of loons moved up and down closer to shore. The two fish we caught early on were to be the only takers for the next four hours. When the wind began to blow quite fiercely, we closed up shop and went back to the campsite.

I will write more next time and include some pictures.

Enjoy every moment……they are our most precious commodities.

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I haven’t written in a while. Truth be known, life just wouldn’t allow room for it. I miss it when I can’t fill a page or two on my blog. It’s been part of my life for nearly a decade now, and I’ve become accustomed to leaving a few words on the page for people kind enough to stop by and read them.

Two weeks ago, my son got married. Not only did I gain a new, and extraordinarily lovely new daughter-in-law, but she brought into our expanding band of ne’er do wells, three children to add to my list at Christmas time. Most exciting. The wedding was beautiful. It was held outside in their lovely, and very spacious back yard, witnessed by a hundred or so of their close friends and family. Vows were exchanged under the three hundred year old oak tree dominating the side yard, and was presided over by the bride’s father who holds down a side gig as a minister. Done and done. Another chapter opens up in our family history. Interesting how life at times seems to write itself.

I drove down and back to the Bay Area solo. This was not in the least a hardship for me. There is something so exhilarating about careening down the highway on a beautiful day, music playing, and the window slightly ajar to allow the breeze in to catch up your hair. As I’ve said many times, I think I was born to be a wanderer. Perhaps in a former life I was part of a nomadic band of souls who moved from place to place making their home wherever they found themselves on any given day. Even now, with my beautiful little house to keep me safe and warm, the thought of moving on slips into my thoughts now and again.

My feet hit the ground running once the wedding was complete. Back in my own territory, before I could draw a single deep relaxing breath, I was reminded I had signed up to attend my first play in twenty years with my friend, Richard the day after I arrived home. The play, based on the planes forced to land unexpectedly in Newfoundland when 9/11 was taking place, was very entertaining and quite funny considering the subject matter. It was performed in front of a packed house. Our seats were located pretty much in the center seats in the middle rows of the lower tier. Richard and I didn’t get dressed as if we were attending the coronation, but we did make an effort to look as though we hadn’t rolled out of bed five minutes before we’d arrived at the performing arts center. This was not true of fifty percent of the people occupying the remaining seats. There was a time when women dragged out their glitter and bling for a night at the theater, but honestly I don’t think people find an occasion to get dressed up much anymore. Do they even have a market for nylons these days? I really don’t know. Back in my grandmother’s day getting dressed for an evening out was a production. Nylons weren’t free flowing back in her day. They were attached by clips to girdles. Horrible inventions those. It was like wrapping a rubber band around a round of soft cheese, everything loose and gooey relocated either above or below the band itself like a muffin top on steroids. I guess the current answer to girdles might be Spandex without the clips. Then after you’d gotten yourself fully assembled, you had to pull on gloves and a hat before leaving the house. I fear my grandmother would be confused at how casual we have become these days. The other day I saw a young girl walking into a high school campus. She was wearing Daisy Duke shorts, fishnet hose, and a shirt so tight I felt perhaps she might be going to shed it the summer rather than throw it in the laundry bin when she got home. The most impressive part of “the look” however was the makeup. I hope she gets it at a bulk rate. The eyelashes covering her upper lids, if fanned, could have cooled a dozen people simulanteously on a hot day. Had I gone to school dressed like that when I was her age they wouldn’t even have let me on campus. Things change, we have to change with them. I remember my mother being appalled when I showed up in bell bottom pants and a fringed jacket. Each generation brings their own style to the table, generally to the chagrin of the one preceding it. I wonder if Amazon has fishnets in my size?

There really aren’t many dress up venues left. I can hardly remember the last time I saw a man in a suit, other than at my son’s wedding, and then only on the participants. Most of the attendees were semi-casual, with some in jeans and a shirt.

Vegas used to be a place where men took in a show suit and tie in place, but that too is long past. The last time I went to a show on the strip was in the 90’s. Sigfried and Roy were appearing. It was a sold out show, and we were packed into the showroom tighter than olives in a jar. The man sitting next to me was sporting well-loved flip flops on his feet. On his person, he wore cargo shorts accessorized by a tee shirt that read, “Honorary Member of the Las Vegas Drinking Team”.  I remember him specifically because he was sucking up beer as though there might be a shortage of the lager about to occur at any moment. After each generous gulp, he would then belch loudly and go “AHHHHHH” as if a signal to his stomach to make room for the next installment.

At any rate, dressed or not, the audience seemed to appreciate the theater production along with us, so it was a nice evening in spite of how tired I had felt when it began. Thankfully, the earlier scenario I had in my mind picturing me, head thrown back snoring like a drunken sailor, drool oozing down the side of my chin, never materialized, so for now my image remains untarnished.

The play behind me, the next thing written on my calendar was “VACATION”. Yay! Richard arrived after work last Saturday, towing his fifth wheel and his boat, to take me on an adventure in Plumas County on Lake Davis. Fun and more fun. I have camped many times in my life. I am beyond the “Let’s put up a tent, toss a blanket on the ground, and throw me on top of it” stage for sure. Been there, done that. Anyone who tells you they enjoy sleeping on a rocky expanse of real estate is either a liar or intoxicated. There is no other option. Even when I was a kid, I ended up walking like a ninety year old arthritic man after a night of roughing it in the woods. No way now, and no how. Over the years I’ve come to accept I like my creature comforts. As it is I don’t sleep well in my lovely comfortable bed, lying on a floor of rocks surely isn’t going to improve the situation.

So, for today I am off to work. I will fill you in on my Lake Plumas adventures in the next installment. Happy weekend to you!!

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Outside my window, the gardeners are bending and standing scooping huge rakes of fall leaves into my compostable bin. A cool breeze is keeping the supply of leaves needing sweeping swirling to the ground, and the days have turned cooler. Hard to believe, just last week we were laboring through the worst heat wave since weather has been reported here in Northern California. I am getting myself and my car packed for my trip down to the Bay Area to watch my son get married. Miss Boo is sitting in the corner tossing ugly looks in my direction from time to time, while I pull things from my closet to fill my suitcase with. Please, save your pity for an abused kitty somewhere. Boo has a house/pet sitter coming for the days I’ll be absent, so by no means is the cat being disregarded. For the price of a car payment, I am providing her company, plentiful treats, food in her dish, water in her bowl, and a companion to snuggle with in the middle of the night. Sometimes I think the cat lives better than I do.

Though this week is slated to be a busy one, life in general seems to have at last slowed down to a manageable pace. For one, my dating life has certainly quieted down. Again, save your pity. I quieted it down. Life was getting confusing. I don’t want or need confusion right at this juncture in my world. I cleared the playing field of all but a single competitor, and went back to square one to regroup and take a break. Perhaps, and that is a perhaps, I am not ready to step into something new quite yet. That being said, I am taking a long hard look at what it is I would like to do. I’ll send up a flare when I have any answers to that dilemma. Actually, I don’t HAVE to do anything exactly at the moment except head down to watch my son share his name with the love of his life. That, I have to say, is more than enough for now. Having my children, though they are far removed from that description these days, settled and happy allows me peace of mind and makes my heart smile every day. In August, my dear little mama moved on as well. All this leaving me standing at the crook in the road of late trying to decide whether to go left or right, or simply sit on a rock under a tree in the warm sun and take in the scenery.

It is smoky outside today. The biggest fire currently in progress in California, is in our back yard. Not literally, thank God, but twenty miles as the crow flies east of here, and that’s not nearly far enough away for me. We’ve been sucking up smoke for several weeks, and it’s only 25% contained. The location is difficult for firefighters to access, prone to steep slopes and valleys, and we are so dry here it can quickly spread with no lack of fuel. The fire fighters have a good battle on their hands. Watching the enormous plume spiraling up into the air leaves me with an admiration for the incredible power of nature.

I think a lot about the power nature wields in our universe. Last week I watched a documentary on the Dust Bowl. There wasn’t enough misery with the heat and the smoke, I thought I’d add a little extra to the pot. I had no idea those people endured that for ten years. Wow. They had dust in their teeth, their food, their homes, and most likely every other accessible orifice. Horrible.

Leaving thoughts of fire and dust bowls behind, while loading my car up with what I felt I needed for my trip, it became obvious to me I know not the first thing about “traveling light”. In my defense, I have learned over the years no matter whether leaving town for one night or a week, you basically have to pack about the same amount of belongings. Also, I was trained by the best. My mother, a self proclaimed “clothes horse”, would devote an entire suitcase to shoes, and another to handbags, when she went on a trip. Another problem lies in as we age, there simply is more equipment to take with because the maintenance of our bodies becomes more labor intensive. Before leaving the house in the morning I have at least forty-five minutes of upkeep required on my person before I can go out the front door. This is not including showering, hair and makeup. Truth is, I could use a team these days to help me get presentable before being allowed to run free in the general public.

My esthetician has me using a three part beauty treatment twice a day which she insists MUST be applied in the correct order. 1, 2, 3. Really it isn’t rocket science. Yet, she has thoughtfully numbered the bottles for me, apparently sensing I, 1) either don’t care about this order in the least, or 2) likely would forget what the order was by the time the words exited her lips. Both answers would have been correct. According to her, you must apply the products in this order lest your skin slide down your face and drift into a puddle at your feet. Let’s see, 1, 2, 3. By George I think I’ve got it. Really?

There has also been a sinus rinse added to my regimen by my allergist, which when the liquid is shot up your nostrils is tantamount to sliding your brain under a rushing waterfall for three minutes. This requires distilled water, a special dispenser, which has to be sanitized, and a saline packet. Sigh.

Next, I have a mask for my dry eyes which is popped in the microwave each morning while listening to the news, then applied for the pre-determined effective time of fifteen minutes. Siri has been kind enough to count this off for me every day until the caffeine has taken effect.

I am wishing my mother was here to witness the joining of these two dear people. Knowing how much she appreciated a good party and how much she loved her grandson, I’m sure she’ll be perched like the Cheshire Cat on one of the massive limbs of the oak tree they are to be married under, not missing a single magical moment.

As I say often in my blogs, life is like a movie with a series of frames. You must capture the most from each frame in order to absorb the story to its fullest.

There have been a lot of goodbyes over the past few years. As with everything when one door shuts, another opens. It will be lovely to be part of a new beginning once again.

Happy Friday! We are being gifted with a lovely preview to fall sort of day as we embark on a day of pre wedding festivities. Enjoy every moment.

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Looking around of late, I’ve come to the realization we are all broken in a way. Each of us, if we’ve reached any kind of age of wisdom, have come through something during our time here that has carved us out and helped us to grow. Life certainly is not always easy to maneuver.

Yesterday when I was exiting my bank’s parking lot, I noticed an old car parked by the curb. The owner, or so I would presume, had covered the car with what looked to be several layers of wet blankets. Since the weather was predicted to be the hottest since weather began being recorded, my best guess is this strange behavior was an effort to keep the car cool. What looked to be piles of his or her belongings were sitting along the side of the car in the shade of a large oak tree. I noticed a panting dog tied up to a post next to them, a bowl of water sitting next to it. Two things happened to me while observing that sad scene. First, I was struck with an overwhelming gratefulness for my life and the creature comforts I have been provided. I felt thankful for the fact that I was driving along in a relatively new car, with air conditioned air blowing in my face. The fact I was still comfortably full from the breakfast I had consumed before leaving my well appointed little house. For that moment, at the very least, I felt safe. I cannot imagine being exposed to the elements in that way, with little hope of relief. I know there are many arguments on both sides of the homeless situation in this country, but I cannot look at displaced people without feeling a tug at my heart whatever the argument. The second feeling washing over me was the urge to help somehow. But how? Like many of you, I’m sure, I stop and hand a five out the window to someone holding a sign on the corner. I “round up” at the grocery store for whatever charity is showing on the credit card machine, I volunteer, but is there more to do? I’m sure there is so much more. Perhaps these little acts of kindness when done in masse serve in some small way to help those who need it? I don’t have answers for this, and I’m not sure anyone does have their finger on the pulse of it. To me every solution proposed feels a bit like applying a bandaid to a gaping wound.

If you sit around concentrating on all that is wrong in the world, you won’t make much forward progress. Sometimes acceptance is the key. Understanding, as lovely as life can be on earth, we live on a planet with both upsides and downsides. We must learn to breathe in deeply the hope and joy contained in the upsides when immersed in them, so they will sustain us when we drop off into the darkness on the other side. Today is a day when I’m breathing deeply, though not too, too deeply, as it is incredibly smokey outside my window. It wasn’t enough apparently our temperatures have been nudging the record books all week. Yesterday temps actually registering 115 at the Sacramento airport. Today I woke up to find smoke from a fire about twenty miles northeast of us, had covered the area with thick putrid air. What’s next, locusts? I looked on my front door to see if there was a red “x” marked on it. Good news, nothing there but a daddy long legs. Ach. A friend of mine, ever the doomsayer, told me the Farmer’s Almanac has predicted yet another low rainfall winter here on the west coast with higher than average temperatures. Sigh. Another sigh.

I am looking to the brighter side for comfort. My passport is tucked away all shiny and new, ready to be stamped and put into service. Where I’m going to use it, I’m not sure, but there is something comforting in knowing I could use it, should the opportunity arise. Yay. I have several local trips in the works. My friend Richard is taking me on an fishing trip he has planned the end of September. Not the fisherman Richard is, for my part it will be a chance to finish the four or five half read books I have lying around the house, take some glorious walks in the wilderness, refresh my spirit again, and enjoy a little time away from the hustle and bustle that is currently what my life feels like. Sounds delightful. Richard has a fifth wheel he takes along on these outings so we will have hot and cold running water, a shower, a kitchen, and electricity. Sort of like what my son refers to as “glamping”. Camping with a little extra something, something, on the side.

No matter what winter looks like this year, I am planning a trip to the coast. It has been far too long and my soul is craving the ocean more and more with the passing of every day. That will be next on my agenda. In November I am going to Oregon to visit a friend to celebrate our mutual birthdays, so there’s another notch in my belt. There’s no stamp on my passport involved with any of this intrastate milling about, but I like to think of it as simply priming my motor.

On the downhill side, I believe I mentioned I recently sat on my glasses. Taking them to the optometrist to get them straightened, I was informed the patient wasn’t going to make it, and it was time to order new frames. I hadn’t even noticed the old frames had begun to yellow on the bottom after many years of service keeping me out of the gutter along the highway. So, a new pair was chosen and ordered. Getting notice they were in and to pick them up on Monday, I did just that. They looked very nice, which pleased me. Glasses are such a personal accessory, and one which you must make peace with every day if you see like I do and can’t leave the house without them. I placed them on my nose and left the doctor’s office to run errands. Merging onto the freeway it became immediately clear, or unclear as the case may be, I couldn’t read any of the street signs as I cruised along. Oh-oh. Breathe, breathe deeply, Susie. Back in my old glasses, I placed a call to the optometrists office when I got home. The receptionist told me to bring the new pair back in. Okie. After comparing my new and old prescription the woman told me, “We’ll see if there is something we can do for you”. “Whoa, stop the boat, here”, says I. I just paid over $400 for these new glasses. You wrote the prescription, and you filled it. There is no “we’ll see if we can do something” involved in the equation at all, rather we will”. I am not just dropping them in my junk drawer and slinking quietly off into the sunset. Not happening. The blonde on top of this noggin is totally artificially generated but even though my hairdresser uses harsh chemicals, my thinking processes haven’t been damaged in the least. Once we’d established I was going to be annoying about the whole not seeing thing, an appointment was made for another eye exam with the opthamologist. Not a solution, but a beginning. I’ll take that.

On a sad note, Queen Elizabeth II has passed away today at 96. She was three years younger than my mum. What a life of service the woman has to her credit. Like the monarchy or not, she has to be given kudos for putting love of country before self, a trait so many of our politicians seem to have left by the wayside, and having done the job she was born to do all her life with dignity and grace. I’m sure the British will give her an admirable send off with all the pomp and circumstance accorded to those of royal birth. It will seem funny not to see her out and about at this function or that wearing those dreadful hats perched on her head, and carrying her sensible handbag. Fairwell, Elizabeth. I’m sure Charles is waiting for you. Thank you for your service.

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Life is beginning to look a bit complicated. There are definitely pluses and minuses associated with on-line dating at this age. One thing I have to say, it keeps me busy. Tomorrow I am headed out on the lake to fish for trout with my friend Richard. I was tasked with packing a lunch. His idea of lunch consisted of crackers topped with sardines and hard boiled eggs. That being said, I’m okay with taking over the wheel for this portion of the program, no problem. Scanning my shelves, I realized I was out of some of the ingredients I needed to pack a decent cooler. A trip to the market needed to be added to my to-do list. Once inside my usual market, everything seemed quiet, and well, different. A lot of the shelves were either empty or half empty. As to the customers, it was literally me and twenty confused looking senior men pushing carts up and down the aisles.

The man in front of me at the check stand made me smile. He had on a 49er’s ball cap, olive green shorts, black socks, and a bright orange polo shirt. You could have located him easily in a New England blizzard. In his cart he had a case of beer, a quart of vodka, a huge bag of M&M’s, two bags of chips, some designer popcorn, two tubs of Dreyer’s cookies and cream, and a can of assorted nuts. Definitely single. You ladies out there looking for a love match, you need to hit the market about 9:30 in the morning wearing an apron and carrying a pan of freshly baked brownies. You’ll get a proposal before you make it to the bread aisle.

Before going to the store, I’d already put in a busy day. I woke up, to find a bear or some kind of critter, had gotten into my trash can overnight. Inside the bin there had been two bags of trash and one bag containing a rotisserie chicken carcass I had wrapped in a freezer bag and then rewrapped. Apparently the bear, or whatever it was, wasn’t deterred by my attempts to stave off inquisitive wildlife. The bin was turned over and what remained of the chicken was sitting upright in the middle of my front yard as if it was conducting an unseen orchestra. This wouldn’t have been a big deal, but for the fact the wasps had woken up before I got outside, and the chicken was alive with stinging insects. Drat the luck. Now for me, who is a bit afraid of bees and the like, this is like taping my eyelids open and making me watch Pet Cemetery twenty times. I circled the remains a few times, not wanting to leave a chicken perched on my lawn all day. There was no getting close to it without irritating the buzzing beasties crawling all over it. These are the times I wonder, once again, “Where, oh where, is my prince?” Realizing it was me who was going to have to take care of the situation, I kept checking on the bony bird all morning. The persistent bugs continued to hang around. At one point, for whatever reason, there seemed to be only a few. I took my longest tongs out of the drawer, pulled on my industrial gloves, and preparing for battle went out the front door. Standing on my porch, I ran out to the yard, picked up a piece of chicken, and then screamed all the way to the trash can. Once that piece was gone, I’d run back inside. In about fifteen minutes. all remnants were gone. I’m sure by that time, my neighbors had already placed a call to the local mental health hotline.

At least my wasp crisis didn’t cost me any money. It’s been a month where dollars have flown out of my checking account at an alarming pace. While down in the Bay Area staying with friends last week, my brakes went south. I stepped on the pedal one day, and it sounded like I was grinding pumice. No rocket scientist when it comes to the workings of the internal combustion engine (do they still call it that), even I knew that sound didn’t bode anything good. I made an appointment at the local repair shop, and $500 later, my brakes were good as new. yay. Two weeks before, I added two new tires to my credit card, so that charge was already in the queque waiting to be paid.

To add to the fun, over the weekend, I sat on my glasses. They didn’t break exactly, but they definitely were the worse for wear. Drat the luck. Though I tried to straighten them, I noticed people had begun to look at my face then slightly cock their heads. Fine. I went down to the optometrist and asked to have them adjusted. The lady behind the counter said they were old, and if she bent them too far they most likely would break. For a minute there, I thought she was talking about me. Rick bought me these glasses probably 8-10 years ago. They were very expensive, and I really like how they frame my face. Insert pouty lip here.

Sooooo, I tried on sixty pairs of lenses, finally deciding on a pair I didn’t hate. Asking the woman helping me the price of the glasses, she said $286. Doable, not optimum, but doable. Okay. Then we got down to the REAL price. The $286 is only if you want the frames. If you want to actually be able to see out of the frames when you get them home, then you really get down to business. Bi-focals $150, check, transitional lenses $150, check, scratch proof lenses $90, check, check, and check. By the time I was done I could have put down a deposit on a condo in Boca Raton. Ah well, it’s only money yes? C’est la vie, and all that rot. Perhaps I should simply take my paycheck when I receive it and turn it over to the bank whose name is embossed on my credit card and leave it at that?

I am talking to a new man on the phone tonight I’ve been communicating with via email. Oddest coincidence, he lives in the town where Rick and I lived for eleven years when we owned the restaurant. That fact is only a bit odd, but the fact he lives on exactly the same street we lived on, seven houses down on the same side of the street. That fact is a lot odd. Wow. For a moment I paused when he told me the street he lived on, and pondered what I would do if he told me he lived in my old house. That simply would be just too weird for words. I would have had to stop communicating with him immediately, and go in the closet with the bottle of vodka and the fiery Cheetos again. Seriously. Sometimes the synchronicity present in my life is almost incomprehensible to me.

I have to say here, for those of you who are trepidatious about trying on-line dating as an avenue to meet a partner, for me it has been a very positive experience. I have made some good friends, and had a lot of fun. Like anything in life, you have to use your head. Someone said to me “isn’t it dangerous”? Probably. Back in the day people used to meet in bars. What did you know about those people? If you met somebody at work or at church, that didn’t guarantee something dark wasn’t lurking somewhere beneath the surface. I’m sure Jeffrey Dahmer held down a job from time to time. All things in life need to be approached with your eyes open and your mind aware. That being said, enjoy whatever you do. That is all we have. Happy Friday.

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I was so restless yesterday. I sat, then I stood, then I walked the house. I had twenty things I should have been doing, and didn’t want to do any of them. Sometimes it’s like that in my world. Perhaps it’s the unsettled energy in the news, or in the people around me, or my own unsettled life that stirs my blood up like that once and a while. For one thing, my eyes opened up at exactly the stroke of midnight and stubbornly refused to close again until around four. I tried all my usual sleep provoking techniques and yet here I sat at the computer typing this rather than snoozing away in my cozy little bedroom down the hall. As I said, restless. I started to wonder as I studied the small water spot on my bedroom ceiling for the second hour, if perhaps this wanderlust coincided with the arrival of my updated passport in the mail last week. I applied for it back at the beginning of the year. Because I was applying through the mail to the Canadian Passport Bureau in Canada, while residing in the U.S. as a permanent resident, did not make the red tape any shorter by any means. Once I took into account the monetary exchange rate, and had to arrange for mailing it a certain type of way, it ended up reducing my bank account by nearly $500. For a while there I was wondering if someone in my native land had simply used the money to finance a nice vacation at the shore, and whether I was ever going to see my updated passport any time in the near or distant future. Thankfully, it finally showed up. As usual, my passport picture looks as if I’d just come down off a two week bender, or was recovering from the bird flu when the photographer snapped the shot, but at least I am almost recognizable on a stamped official document allowing me to travel outside of the United States. Yay.

I don’t know where I might venture as yet, but eventually I will put the shiny new passport to good use. Next year, there are tentative plans in the works for a visit to Italy with a dear friend. As that country is on the top of my bucket list, I have my fingers crossed that trip will actually happen in real time. Also, I want to get to Canada again. It’s been a long time since I’ve set foot on Canadian soil and I have relatives there I’d like to see face to face again.

Concerning a trip of a shorter nature, I am going fishing for trout with my friend Richard on Thursday. I haven’t been fishing since married to my ex husband back in the early 1990’s. My first fishing trip with him was also my first experience casting a line, for fish at least. I found it a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Somewhere in my piles and bags of family photos, there is a picture of me holding up my first “catch”. When reeling it in, I would have sworn the beast would weigh in at the very least at around fifty pounds. Pulling it out of the water, all 5″ of the writhing small mouthed bass hung there at the end of the line looking at me with one bulging fish eye as if to say, “thanks, thanks a lot”. Sorry. It was so small, I felt I should throw it back, but my husband, knowing volumes more about fishing than I, said it would be delicious breaded and fried. There was something about discussing breading and frying in front of the still wriggling fish that made me feel a little bit queezy. Perhaps I don’t have a taste for the kill a good fisherman should have. Have to say my husband was right, however, our catch of the day made for part of a delicious fish feast that evening.

First thing this morning, I went down to the local sporting goods store as Richard directed, to purchase a fishing license. The woman at the front counter took my ID and my $54 and spit spot I was officially licensed in the State of California to “reel em in”. She asked if I wanted the regular license, or any extras. Extras? Wasn’t $54 ridiculous enough. Pa from Little House on the Prairie would be horrified to note we now pay half a hundred and change for fishing for what for what his generation would have been considered fair game. What extras? Apparently the $54 only covers your standard fish. You pay extra, for the special swimmers such as crab. Also, if you cast additional line in the water there is an extra fee for that. For just under $600 you can get a lifetime fishing license. No thank you. Costco has some pretty good deals on trout and they are already fileted and shrink wrapped. Wow.

In order to be able to sit in the boat for an extended period of time, I had to buy a shirt that protects me from UV rays. I’ve been taking a long term antibiotic for a couple of months and my doctor tells me I need to limit my exposure to the sun while on it. Apparently, I could self ignite if left too long without something covering me. Don’t want Richard to have to deal with putting me out, as well as watching his line. I have told him he will have to eviscerate the worm, as that is another thing I’m not crazy about, and I’m sure the worm isn’t on board with the whole program either. Also, he will have to take the hook out of the fish’s mouth, should I by some miracle actually catch something. Basically, looking at how little I’m willing to participate, he could have saved himself some money on the fishing license if he’d just taken me out for fish and chips.

Now Richard is pretty handy in the outdoors. However, my ex husband, David, was a serious outdoorsman, having been brought up in rough and tumble city of Odessa, Texas. If I was to get lost in the woods, David would be my number one choice of companions. Of course, I would want to give him back once we were out of the woods. He would be the guy you see on survival videos scooping grubs out of hollowed out trees to stay alive. I would be the girl standing behind him holding my nose and gagging as he handed me the fat little bug sausages. Several times during our roller coaster marriage, his expertise at angling provided dinner on our table. I appreciate that skill, as it’s not one you see much here in sophisticated California suburbs as a general rule. David was also an expert hunter, able to shoot a deer, field dress it, carve it up appropriately, and prepare the venison once carved as well as any field chef of note. Now, I am not a fan of venison personally. It is a bit “gamey” for my taste. I believe it to be an acquired taste, and one I never acquired. Conversely, I prefer lamb over beef as I was raised on it, while many people find lamb gamey, so it’s a matter of choice. Like most things, food comes down to personal preference. I never criticize what a person chooses for their lifestyle. I like that we are all varied in our likes and dislikes in all things. How boring if we all only ate chicken, or only cared for blondes, or everyone only planted roses, excluding every other flower. What a lack of diversity and interest our world would have.

This swings my mind around to a conversation I had recently with a friend. He was talking to me on the subject of “designer” children. That is children (babies actually) designed in the womb with say, brown hair, blue eyes, male or female depending on desire, and intelligence level. I’m assuming you could also pick out a perfect set of features, or what height or body type. Just can’t stomach the thought of that. How boring that would be. How would that look? Upon getting pregnant would you be handed a menu of choices from which to pick? Let’s see, I’ll have the No. 3 with long red hair and an upturned nose, with a side of freckles? Yuck.

Our world is getting a little too automated for me I think. I probably don’t have another thirty years in the can to ponder it, but it does seem it is getting so when I reflect on it.

I hope you are enjoying your Monday. I am in a cleaning mood so have emptied out cupboards and straightened drawers all day. Along with that project A dear friend of mine who housesat and Boo-sat for me while I was in the Bay Area, planted a myriad of new flowers in all my empty pots. She is a “plant loving lady” who simply can’t stand to see any growing thing suffering from a brownish leaf or drooping branch. My yard, I’m sure, must have proved a challenge to her entire being. Usually, I am very good about my garden, but this year has been too much of too much. I don’t always have time to take care of it like I should, and if I do have time, I don’t seem to want to use it pruning bushes. Also, I am taking allergy shots so often am not supposed to spend too much time outside. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. As much as I appreciate how absolutely lovely my yard looks at the moment, this means I have to take care of these flowers which adds another half hour in the morning to things I have to do before leaving the house. I guess I need to shift into my grateful mode and simply be glad I have flowers to water, eyes to see them with, and a body that allows me to stand on my patio and take care of them. Or, I could be a little annoyed. Looking out my window, I’ve decided grateful is the far happier choice.

End of story for now. Make it a good one. Today is what we’ve got. Fill it full of special and magic.

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