Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Were I a knee, I would describe myself as out of joint. I feel uncomfortable, like my life doesn’t quite fit me properly anymore. I suspect this is because I am in the process of shedding my old life as I knew it, and stepping into a totally different and unfamiliar new one. I don’t like it. I don’t like this unsettled muddled feeling at all. Sometimes, I wish I still enjoyed a dry martini now and then. It’s not I don’t drink at all these days, I do here and there, but I can’t remember the last time I downed a martini. I find my life works just fine without alcohol on most days, with the desire for a cocktail usually only popping up in social situations, which have been less frequent over the past couple of years with the virus running amok. Perhaps this uneasy feeling is partly due to the pandemic? It has been two years now, and I think the impact of being constantly vigilant has finally caught up with me. People are getting cranky, stores are low on supplies, and prices are heading up every week. I spent $109 at the store the other day and came home with eggs, cheese and kitty litter. I could not believe the little cheeses I used to pick up for what I considered an extravagant $4.99 are now selling for $11.99. Apparently along with supply chain issues the rising prices are also linked to the rising minimum wage. Don’t misunderstand me, I think workers in any field should be paid a living wage. However, it doesn’t stop there. Rick used to say the problem with raising the minimum wage is that prices go up commensurably leaving us in the same situation we were before the minimum wage went up. It’s a dilemma for sure how to deal with the inflation running rampant at the moment, plus the virus which has one again mutated to take another huge toll on our population. Glad I’m not running this country. You should be glad as well because I find balancing my checkbook an all day affair.

My first husband, the children’s dad, was a genius with numbers. Truly, he was just a genius at so many things. Math was never my strong suit. I endured high school algebra and geometry, but cruised through both classes by the skin of my pearly white teeth. One of my first, and the shortest, job I ever had was working as a bank clerk. I showed up for work at eight, spent the entire morning adding and then adding again huge columns of numbers never getting the same total one single time. You’d think with random luck I might have accidentally hit it more than once, but not that day. I went home at lunch and never came back. Instead I called my new boss and said she would thank me down the road for submitting my resignation, and wished her well on finding a more suitable replacement. Thankfully, there has been much forward progress since then.

Fortunately I haven’t had to add much of late. I have found myself a bit flat this January, as if a lot of air had leaked out of my tires. Dale used to say when he got like that he needed “spiritual food”. Thinking that advice could never be bad for my overall mental health, I got together with his daughter and sister-in-law, both very spiritual beings, to help me reinflate my tires. Yesterday we met “virtually” in person and spent a couple of hours outlining our intentions for the upcoming year. The idea was to create a vision board with pictures indicating our goals, dreams, and aspirations for 2022 to help us focus on where we want to go and what we want to achieve. For me at least, it definitely reinflated my spirit and rebooted my energy. I may not accomplish everything I listed, but at least I have created a loose game plan for myself to follow. If you don’t have some plan of action it’s like sending a football team out on the field with no playbook. They may all be excellent players but once the whistle blows everyone will be running around willy nilly with no united goal in sight.

Trips are definitely in the offing over the next months. I do not want to sit here in my sweet little house watching the grass grow. One of my first trips will be in May. I am meeting a friend who I haven’t seen in over twenty years in Redding for a four day getaway. We chose Redding because, a) there are lots of things to see and do in that area, and, b) it is roughly the halfway point between where I live in the Sacramento area and she lives around Salem, Oregon. While there, I am going to satisfy two of my bucket list items which are seeing the Celtic Women perform live and going zip lining. This is exciting stuff. Well, it’s exciting for me at least. I can’t speak for how riveting it is for you on your end.

I watched “Places in the Heart” around 3 a.m. last night. Saying that, gives you a glimpse into how well my new sleep aid is working. There is a scene in the movie where the newly widowed character Sally Field is playing goes into the bank to get instruction on how to write a check. Before he was killed, her husband had handled all the finances. Now, without him, everything, including raising the children and keeping a roof over their heads fell totally to her. I identified with that scene, having been there myself many years ago. It brought into perspective for me how far my journey has taken me since then. Over the years, through trial and error, I have discovered what works in my life and what does not. I like to think like powdered sugar on a freshly baked donut, the best and most useful of what I’ve picked up has stuck to my sides, while the rest of it that either didn’t work for me or was not needed, has sluffed off and been left behind.

One of the items I pinned on my vision board, was learning new things. My goal is to learn several new skills, or at least try them on for size, every month. To this end, I bought a mason jar. Inside the jar I placed folded pieces of paper with the skills I would like to aim for this month. At the end of the month I will look at those I have actually completed, acknowledge I did them, and toss them. Those left in the jar I will roll over into February and see it perhaps I can accomplish them during that time, and so on. Yesterday, I tried out the first one, hanging it on the line to see how it looked. I signed up for a beginning watercolor class on line. Now, I have been dabbling in art since I was in elementary school, many times earning my living with my creative skills. Watercolor, however, has always been an art form I have been interested in but never pursued. At the assigned time, I signed into Zoom with the other students and picked up my brush. There was a pre-assigned list of supplies to gather, which I’d laid out before me. Also, we had been instructed to download a sketch and duplicate it on watercolor paper before tuning into the class. Done and done.

The instructor, a woman and apparently a teacher on the college level, was chatty and helpful. The student’s video buttons were engaged, but we couldn’t unmute so the only voice heard was the instructor Oh, and her dog, Nelson. Nelson actually wandered in and out of camera range occasionally offering a bit of input on what he was observing. For me being unable to ask questions or share ideas was like having one hand tied behind my back and trying change a tire. I am more comfortable in a classroom where there is an exchange of ideas. This was my first virtual art room. I have to say I prefer meeting in person but like everything right now we are safer apart than huddled together so virtual meetings are safer and more convenient. The sketch we had been given to reproduce was of water lilies. Our first task from the instructor, was to paint our leaves in a wash of green. I was almost done with the first leaf, there were three, when I looked up to see the teacher (all three leaves washed) moving on to the lilies themselves. Ach. Hello, unmute, unmute, expletive. Oh. Anyhow, I abandoned my leaves for the first lily and as I was busy washing pink across my flowers, I heard the teacher telling us to move on the the pistil. Her flowers, of course, were done. I believe the pistil is the center circular part of the flower often yellow in color. However, I can’t be sure of this because I was in mute mode and couldn’t inquire. The instructor was painting that part of her flower, so I abandoned my pink petals and squeezed a blob of yellow on my pallet and began to paint the first of my pestils. Before you could say Leonardo de Vinci the instructor was holding up her completed picture and asking us to do the same. At that point, I hit my no video button as well and waved my goodbyes. Once I signed off, I sat and finished the picture at my leisure which, surprisingly, I really like. There’s one little folded piece of paper in my Mason jar reading “take an art class” headed for the trash bin come February 1st. Yay. There’s an old saying I heard a lot while living in the south I think applies here, “Do something, even if it’s wrong”. I believe the lesson here is that it is better to try and fail then to not try at all. There ya go.

Funny how doing one thing often begets another. Once done with my lilies, I felt the urge for the first time in over a year to pull out my sketch book and drawing tools. For the rest of the day I sat happily at the table creating the first drawing I’ve done since my life became more stressful. What a lovely sense of relief it was to find myself bent over my pencil again. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever feel a movement in that direction again.

So, create something different in your life today. Take a different route to work, eat something you’ve never tried before. Be brave, make a difference.

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I had minor surgery on my back yesterday to remove a cancerous area. This is not my first rodeo when it comes to this type of surgery, and it won’t be my last. As I said in my previous blog, it is the curse of being a fair skinned, light eyed person of English descent. I shall drop a note to the Queen one of these days and tell her I don’t at all appreciate the extra burden my British ancestry has imposed on my life.

The appointment was set for the ungodly hour of 8 am. It’s not like I’m not up with the chickens, but don’t necessarily wish to be on the road that early now that I’m not punching a clock anymore. Several friends called to wish me well, putting me a little behind. I gathered up the accoutrement it appears necessary to get me up and running and locked the door behind me. In the car, I cranked her up, and noted the “check engine light” that keeps turning on and off, was once again front and center on my dashboard. I contacted Ford the other day to get an appointment to get this looked at and the overly burdened lady in their service department told me she could fit me in just before the holidays roll around again this year. Sadly, with everything being so far behind, I told her to add me to the roster. Sigh. What’s a girl to do?

Pulling out into the street I glanced down at my feet only to have instant realization of how distracted I have been of late. Secured on both feet were my big green fuzzy slippers. Thankfully, I noticed before I plodded into the doctor’s office to check in for my appointment looking like an oversized version of Oscar the Grouch. If there are any keepers out there needing work, please leave your applications with my people and I’ll get back to you. Good Lord. So, back in I went, now late, and shoes were put on both feet as it should be. All was well with the world.

The procedure took about an hour. Once they anesthetize you, the worst of it is over. Until, of course, the numbness wears off. I was a dental assistant in a former life. One of the things I liked least about the job, and there were many, was being the one who prepped the syringes. Always, I felt like the executioner getting the noose secured to the scaffold. The practice I worked for specialized in orthodontia. That being said, most of the victims, uh patients, were children. That was difficult for me. Why on earth I ever decided to go into that field to begin with still boggles the mind. I can’t stand the dental office. The smells, the noise, the pain, the blood. I would rather be shot in the foot. What was I thinking? I actually wanted to be a medical assistant, but couldn’t handle the thought of giving people injections. Perhaps neither job was in a field I should have been sniffing around in. As a teen, I wanted to be a nurse for a while, like my paternal grandmother. Somehow I knew my total inability to deal with visceral issues such as throwing up or worse meant I wasn’t ideally suited for training for that profession.

After the surgery, they had me straddle the chair and drink apple juice from a juice cup. A nurse came in and handed me a package of crackers, instructing me to eat them before leaving. With the little shirt on they gave me to wear during the procedure, I felt like a fourth grader. To complete the picture, the doctor kept referring to me as a “peanut” because I am a rather slight human. Truth is, I didn’t mind it. I’ve been called worse. So, I can check that off my list. It felt strange when they asked me to confirm my information at the front desk. One of the questions the lady in reception asked was whether Dale was still my emergency contact. “Sadly, no”, I replied. Watching her delete him from my records felt deep to me. The significance of that action was not lost on my heartstrings. I have to go back every two days and have the bandage changed for twelve days, because where the wound is located I am unable to reach myself. The universe was giving me a clear message, “You’re on your own, kid. Better learn to deal with it.” Heard and received, thank you very much. Driving towards home, my mind told me I needed a treat so before merging onto the freeway I pulled in behind the other cars at the Starbuck’s drive-thru. A caramel frappuccino has cured many a rough day for me.

After I came home, I gave myself a rare pass for the day and binge watched Netflix shows and did not one productive thing to support my goal of being a useful human being. It was rather glorious. Wouldn’t want to do it every day, but I think my body was telling me it was tired and needed to rest, and I felt I needed to honor the request.

Today I am stiff, but doing much better. I seem to have picked up some juice after wiling away a 24 hour period on my back eating Doritos and enjoying some chill time watching Grace and Frankie. Definitely, a walk is in my future today before those corn chips decide to take up permanent residence on my posterior side. I had to cancel a session I signed up for several months ago with a local grief group meeting today which saddened me. This was a new group, and I was looking forward to meeting others in the area dealing with the loss of a spouse or life partner. With things as they are right now with the bug, going into an unknown group of people who have a choice of whether to mask up or not is not an option for me. Between my mother, who is most vulnerable, and our littlest member, who is three, I can’t take the chance of bringing a hitchhiking germ home with me.

One thing I remind myself frequently, as these are challenging times, is that a year from now things will look different. As with everything, the tide will go out again and we will return to normal (whatever normal might be). So, I forge on undaunted and plan to clean out closets and drawers today in case the Queen stops by for tea.

Take a breath, drink in the glorious pink colors cascading across the sky as the sun comes up, and hold tight to the good thoughts of better days to come.

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As I said in my previous blog, I plan to branch out and pencil in some adventures on my calendar for 2022. First and foremost, I need to see the ocean. I don’t say I want to see it, because really for me it can be a pull of such strength I would actually have to describe it as an emotional longing or need. Having grown up in Nova Scotia, a peninsula, water is as much a part of me as my breath and I miss seeing it every single day I am away.

Last year I located an old friend, Sam, on Facebook I had lost contact with twenty-five years ago. She and I parted ways after a disagreement. For the life of me I can’t remember now what it was about, but we let our friendship slip through our fingers over it. Funny, what seemed so important at the time doesn’t even resonate with my memory bank today. Goes to show you, petty arguments should be able to be easily resolved if the relationship is solid. Truth is, my life was kind of a horror show the year we drifted apart, so if I had been my BFF back then I might have taken the only lifeboat and rowed to shore without me as well. At any rate, since reconnecting, we talk once a week by phone and have planned a reunion trip for the week after Mother’s Day. Yay. The last time we saw each other, both of us were living in Redondo Beach on the Palos Verde peninsula in Southern California. These days, I make my home in the foothills around Sacramento and she relocated to Oregon several years. So, the plan is to meet in the middle for a few days and get to know each other again. Consulting a map, dead set in the middle between the two points is Yreka, California, a lovely little historical mining town with a population of 7,800 and change. As picturesque as the area is, there isn’t a whole lot to do there. That being said, I have been bouncing around the Internet looking at opportunities within driving distance where we can get in some trouble. Mission accomplished.

The first thing I came across was a Dude Ranch. When I posed this suggestion to Sam, she immediately asked if the price per person included the dudes. I told her I believe dudes are only included if you purchase the deluxe package, but we could look into it. It sounds like a silly suggestion to some perhaps, but to me I think it might be fun. I haven’t been on a horse since my early thirties, but I’m willing to give it a go if the horse is up to the task. Also, I found a national park within driving distance offering zip lining, which is high on my bucket list. The bucket being there in case I lose my lunch immediately following.

Mt. Shasta is an easy drive from Yreka as well. Years ago, I visited that area with my third husband. The beautiful snow capped peak holds many mysteries for native americans. Many believe it to be the center of the universe and even of creation. Truly, if you’ve been there, it does hold a mystical kind of feel around it.

We took a couple of days while there to explore the natural beauty of the area. Before leaving for home, my ex suggested we also take the tour of the Lake Shasta Caverns. Finding enclosed areas such as caves a slightly offputting, I was a bit hesitant, but finally agreed to tag along. The odyssey began with a spine jarring bus ride up the hill to where the entrance of the caverns located. There are tee shirts being sold in the gift shop reading “I survived the bus ride at the Lake Shasta Caverns”. There is a reason these are sold there. It is like putting a warning label on a poisonous substance. Someone is saying to you, run, save yourself. Seriously, that whole day was a bit of a minefield for me, but I have to say the bus ride really was putting the worst of it, first. The person hired to drive the bus up the winding road apparently harbored a huge grudge towards humanity in general, and had been given a weapon with which to wreak his vengeance. OMG. At one point, three wheels were on the road with the fourth wheel hanging suspended in mid air over the valley below before it once again engaged with the dirt and caught traction whipping us around the next u shaped curve. Mommy. When we were finally deposited at the top of the hill, shaken but not stirred, I swear I heard shrieking demonic laughter as the bus driver once again engaged the clutch and headed back down the hill to gather up his next group of unsuspecting victims.

A chirpy guide greeted us at the entrance. Before we entered the caves themselves, she asked if we had any health problems, specifically heart. Personally, I think they should have asked that before allowing us on the bus, but the fact they were asking it at all was somewhat concerning to me. Also, she asked if any of us were claustrophobic. Three hands went up, one of them attached to my arm. Oh-oh. She went on to say there were some tight spaces and long staircases if any of those health problems applied. I thought of going back down, but I’m not one to run away from something that scares me. Besides, I would have had to get back on the bus, and I wasn’t ready for that yet. So, onward and upward. It really was beautiful inside. Amazing natural sculptures raised up from the floor of the cave reaching up towards others equally as spectacular spiraling down from the ceiling. As we moved further into the belly of the beast, my claustrophobia began to make itself known. First, my heart began to pound like a conga drum and then beads of sweat began to form under the hair on the back of my neck. If that wasn’t enough to deal with, we came to a staircase that reached from where we were standing up, up, and up, looking like it ended somewhere near where the universe began. Someone made a joke about it, asking where the elevator was located. I was hoping there was a definitive answer for that. What seemed like hours later, we finally made it to the last of those massive set of steps. Secretly, I hoped there were paramedics waiting for me at the top. Good Lord. It reminded me of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The stairs going to the top there spiral around for days. By the time Rick and I got close to the end of that ordeal, he was crawling on to the next step on his hands and knees. Though the view was magnificent once we made it, I’m not sure I’d sign up for it again.

That will be one of at least three trips I plan to make this year, Covid willing and the creeks don’t rise. It is exciting to think of seeing new places and experiencing new things. I’m not a person who likes to have one day closely resemble the day before. While on this train of thought earlier in the day, I found myself wondering if Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, ever gets bored. She’s always lived inside a house, perched on her mountain of pillows. Each day at two hour intervals she shows up on her mat for two treats, and then it’s back to bed until the next round comes along. Sometimes, she varies the routine by doing wind sprints round the house in the middle of the night or throwing her stuffed mice around the living room, but there’s not much about one day that isn’t as familiar as the one preceding it. She’s never written me a memo to attest to the fact, but secretly I think she likes it that way. This, I fear will remain locked in her kitty mind and left for me to ponder on.

I am taking a software class this afternoon so I shall end on that note. Have a great weekend if I’m not back til Monday. Did want to end by saying how sorry I was to hear Sidney Poitier passed. What a wonderful gift he was to the movie world. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched In the Heat of the Night or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. I will miss him.

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Over the past few days the night sky has been dominated by a large full moon. In between storms here on the west coast of the United States, this gorgeous orb has been clearly visible as the stars begin to come out and dark overtakes the day. As much as I appreciate the glorious views, a full moon brings with it tidal changes, mood disruptions, and a myriad of other gravitational anomalies that are a bit offputting. People are known to sleep walk more during a full moon, exhibit more aggressive behavior, suffer from depressive episodes, and many other behavior changes. I know I always feel a bit overwhelmed when the moon is in full glory, and this weekend was certainly no exception.

To add to the mix, yesterday was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Often this effects your ability to sleep, and has people contemplating the year behind them and pondering what lies in store for them in the new year. Then, if the stew wasn’t already bubbling over, it is a retrograde. This means the planets are lined up in such a way as to cause you to slow down and reflect on your life. Good grief, Charlie Brown. That’s a lot to chew on for one bite of the apple. I’m just sayin.

With this kind of massive energy directed our way, appliances often stop working, computers or electronic devices get hiccups, things with working parts malfunction, as do people caught in the middle of it all. Basically, it’s a hot mess. My refrigerator went last week, and the new one happily is in and running as we speak. Yesterday, I got up and was reminded by my calendar to get moving in order to make an early hair appointment. This was to be my first time with this hairdresser, and I was hopeful she would turn out to be a successful change from the one I am currently seeing. I like the woman who is doing my hair at the moment, but she is an hours drive from me, in an area where it snows. With gas over $5/gallon, and no four wheel drive anymore, I would much prefer to go closer to home. I don’t know how it is for men, but for ladies, finding a good hairdresser is like discovering an original Monet hidden under your recent garage sale purchase of a framed picture of a bowl of fruit.

It has been really cold (for California) this week, so I bundled up and ran out to get my car warmed up. Inserting the key in the slot, the dashboard lit up like I’d just hit the penny slot machine in Reno. Oh-oh. After considerable coaxing, the engine turned over and started. However, an icon of an engine remained on the display. Drat the luck. At least I was going close to home.

Arriving at the salon, after introducing myself, I explained the situation with my car saying I might have to call a tow truck should I not be able to start it again. She said I could wait in the lobby as long as I needed. Yay. Luck being on my side (not always the case if you’ve read my blogs for any length of time) she did a great job, and…….she was considerably less expensive. Stop it, I know! I approached my car with caution, depressing the open button on my remote. Thankfully, the lights went on indicating there was some juice left. I hopped in and drove quickly back to the house. Going out later to try it again, it wouldn’t start. Everyone I know in the immediate area is out of town for the holiday week. My kids were at work, and the only neighbor I’m familiar enough to ask for a lift was visiting her kids. Ach. These are the times when I realize I am on my own and pretty much responsible for my own behind. My knight in shining armor is no longer here to rescue me from the castle tower, and I’d better figure out what to do about the situation. Had Dale been here, he would have looked under the hood or known who to call. I contacted my son-in-law at work. He said to go to the auto parts store and have them check the battery. Good idea in theory, but if the car won’t start, definitely this plan has some execution issues. Sooooo, I called my insurance company emergency road service and requested a tow. I have only used this feature one other time since having this insurance, but I am paying for it so decided it was the best option. Rocking some girl power at that point, I called the auto repair shop Dale used and told them my car was stopping by for a check up.

The automated system at the ERS began sending a series of texts, the first saying the tow driver would be arriving within the hour. This was followed by repeated texts saying he was on track over the next 60 minutes. After the hour came and went, I called the number provided to contact the tow company directly to ask when someone might arrive. According to the owner, the driver was eating his lunch. Really? Now, I don’t begrudge the poor man his lunch, and I was toasty and warm inside my house, but I guarantee had I been left sitting on a curb in forty degree weather somewhere, I might definitely have been a little out of sorts. Finally, two hours and counting, the massive truck pulled up out front. It looked more like it should be carrying a tank than my little mid size sedan. The man knocking on the door was oversized to match his vehicle. He looked a bit like the Incredible Hulk. Seriously, one of his arms was the size of my torso. Wow. At any rate, he asked for the keys to maneuver the car and get it loaded. Okie. I watched as my car was pulled onto the aircraft carrier sized ramp and secured. My heart felt sad. All my pre-Christmas plans for the day would have to be put on hold. Murphy strikes again. Had to be on a holiday week didn’t it Murphy? Couldn’t wait until the new year? He pulled out onto the street, made a u-turn and left. Hello? I hadn’t given him any form of payment and hoped he knew where the car was to be dropped off. In a bit I called the auto shop and sure enough my car had arrived. A bonus. For all I knew it could have been headed down 101 towards Mexico. I need to get better at this. About twenty minutes later the tow truck driver called. He apologized for just leaving, he thought I’d already paid. A well oiled machine that group. Should have told him I was enjoying a BLT and I’d get back to him. Sigh. After paying out a substantial load for the service, I came in and signed up with Triple A. Been meaning to anyhow, and need to get more efficient at managing myself. Good and good. Next I signed up with Uber so I could pick up the car once it was fixed. Looking sharp over here.

So, hopefully I will be going to my daughter’s on Friday as planned in my own car. I have my fingers and toes crossed and have issued mental orders to keep Murphy off the property should he attempt to come in the front door.

On another subject entirely, night before last I fell in the middle of the night. Embarrassing that. I got up to make my usual nocturnal visit to the loo. Apparently, I wasn’t fully awake yet and lost my balance making the poor choice to grab for the half open closet door for support. The door slid open all the way depositing me on my behind in the back of the closet amongst my collection of winter boots. I managed to escape serious injury, ending up with only a bump on my elbow and a rather colorful bruise. The sad thing about it was before going to bed, I had pulled on a shirt my daughter gave me years ago. It is furry and has what looks like an indomitable snowman on the front, also furry. Seriously a fashion nightmare, but what it lacks in glamour, it makes up for in cuddly warmth. As it is just the cat and I, I really wasn’t concerned about whether I made the best dressed list before retiring. Once I assessed the damage and seemed okay, I found myself thankful for that and I hadn’t suffered something more dire and been found dressed like that. That would have been my legacy. Perhaps I will have to rethink my sleeping attire in the future.

Have a safe and festive Wednesday. Keep your wits about you, there is enough unsettled energy floating around for all of us.

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Looking out my window this morning, the patio chair closest to the house is barely visible. A heavy bank of fog has moved in making the landscape murky, and trees and bushes but shadowy figures moving in and out of view in the background. Growing up in Nova Scotia on the arm of the Halifax harbor, fog was an integral part of my world. At night, tucked in my little bed in the my room on the second floor of my grandmother’s large comfortable home, the fog horn was often the last sound I was to hear before drifting off to sleep. As I’ve said, repeatedly most likely, I do enjoy a little weather. I would not be content in a place where one season looks like the next, and a bit of inclement weather less likely than developing a case of smallpox. Change, in all things, is what, to me, makes life interesting.

Even if you must go to the same job every day year after year, I believe it is important not to follow the same route every morning in order to get there, or to bring the same lunch to put in the fridge in the break room you’d eaten the day before. Once I dated a man who had his clothes lined up in his closet according to the days of the week. There were his Monday pants, hanging next to his Monday shirt. On the floor beneath them sat his Monday shoes and socks waiting to be put on once his Monday clothes were in place. I dated him for two years and never saw him in other than his Monday shirt on a Monday in the time we were together. If he removed a catsup bottle from what he referred to as his “staples shelf” a bottle of catsup was immediately added to the list hanging on a clipboard on the wall to be purchased at the next trip to the store. Each moment of his life was neatly organized. I like my surroundings to be neat, but I don’t want my life too tidily in place as to not have room for movement.

Now, let me preface this writing by saying I am by nature a very organized person. I do run a tidy ship in my home and don’t find comfort sitting around in a bunch of clutter or disorder. That is just me. If you wish to sit in your house with old McDonald’s bags tossed in the corner, piles of unfolded laundry on the couch and your last dish sitting in the sink dripping maple syrup, it is not my business, nor would I judge you for doing so. This is simply not how I choose to live. Each of us has our own way of plowing through life, and I believe whatever works for you, is precisely what you should be doing.

I had a friend who went through a twelve step program for an addiction he was fighting. As his friend, I went to a meeting with him on several occasions by way of support. The speaker on the first visit was talking about how important how you keep your personal area is to your overall well being. I believe there is truth to this. Most likely if your living space would be suitable for Porky and his pals to take up residence in, your life might well be a reflection of this. But who am I to say? My house is clean, but my life has been untidy often and had many chaotic spaces in it. I’m just throwing the information out there. You may chew on it any way you might like.

Speaking of chewing, there is good news on the cow flatulence front. Cows pass gas or burp, it would appear, at an alarming rate which is negatively effecting our ozone layer. A farmer by the name of Joe Dorgan living in Prince Edward Island (PEI to us Canadians) discovered by feeding his cows organic seaweed it made the animals far less gassy. Go team Canada! They are still investigating how to make this seaweed accessible as a food source for all the gassy cows presently strewn across the globe, as well as determining whether this is a short term fix or a long term one. Either way it is quite an amazing discovery. Right on Joe.

I think of this, because yesterday I went to visit my mother. No, she does not suffer from gas. However, she is presently living in a board and care in a rural section of a Sacramento suburb. It is a lovely area, populated with large ranches situated on huge chunks of property. While driving along the back roads, I passed a flock of wild turkeys deciding whether or not to cross the road, a bee farm (I guess you’d call it that) and a huge flock of cows grazing in a pasture. There you go, the much needed connection to the previous paragraph. Having just read the article about the farmer in PEI, my mind naturally went to the the bovine gas producers as I drove on by.

There are currently three residents and not a single cow in the board and care where my mother stays. There were four, but one lady passed away several weeks ago. My mother and the other female resident both have varying stages of dementia. The third resident, the other woman’s husband, lives with her but is in fairly good health. He moved in to be close to his wife. I find that terribly sweet as I write it. He is always by her side. It is my understanding they have been married for years and when she needed more significant care he opted to join her without hesitation.

Last week, I went to the dollar store and purchased Christmas stockings and all kind of goodies to stuff them with. Then I went to another store and found warm socks for the ladies, and a wool cap for the gentleman in the group. I had noticed on my visits there were perhaps four hairs remaining on the top of his head. Rick, when I met him, was totally bald and always favored wool hats in the winter months to cover this exposed skin in the cold weather. The gentleman was so excited to get the hat, it immediately went on his head and was still in place when I was saying goodbye several hours later. He also told me he had never had a stocking in his life and was most pleased to be able to hang one up. I don’t know his story, perhaps it’s a religious preference, or just a personal one, but all in all it was really fun and a big hit on the other end. Funny how a little something like that can bring a smile to someone’s face. Small acts of kindness, really do have big impact.

The hat made me think of Rick, not that I don’t often have him on my mind. We were together nearly twenty years. That is not a vacancy you fill easily. As I said, he was bald when I met him, having begun to lose his hair in his thirties. With all the stress I’ve had in my life over the past three or four years my hair has taken a hit. Fortunately, I had quite a bit to begin with, but it certainly is less lush then it used to be. Once the hair went, Rick cultivated the middle aged manscape on his face, basically a moustache which was attached to a neatly trimmed goatee. The hair shows up on the face, I believe, as it begins to disappear on the top of the head. I thought he looked wonderful without his hair, and as I never knew him with it in place, never noticed the loss of it. He told me it was devastating for him, however, when his hairline first began to recede. I can feel that. I had a very dear friend who was much older. His hair had completely disappeared on the top of his head but he still had a healthy growth around the sides. His solution to this problem, was to grow it really long on one side and draw that up over the vacant space on the top. Once in place he sprayed it into submission. A comb over. Let me be the first to say, this is not a good look. If the wind comes up, for example, or you go swimming? The hair on the side either stands up or droops to one side and the empty field is revealed. Seriously, I would much rather see a cleanly shaved bald head any day then that. I’m just saying. In the end it is the person existing below the hairline is who is important not what’s growing on their head.

As we age, the things that seemed so important when we were young seem to fade into the background. People gain a few miles on them and aren’t as shiny and factory fresh as they were in their twenties or thirties. The good news unless we invent a magic elixir, all of us are going to age. As yet, I have heard of no effective cure for it. Oh, there is plastic surgery (sometimes scary), and there are a myriad of products out there touting youthful results if you use them, but in the end aging must be faced and accepted as part of the journey.

So, I am inside and cozy on this foggy, foggy day. Have many projects on my table in various stages of production so lots to keep me busy. Christmas is on the horizon and a new year with hopefully more exciting prospects and great bounty for all of us.

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The flood gates have opened, and rain is pouring down in buckets full outside my window. This is a cold rain, and it’s brought along a playmate, a capricious wind. My yard is strewn with leaves and debris. My snowmen once decorating the patio in the back yard, are now standing on their heads pushed up against the fence. You could leave the wind at home, but I do love the rain. Even though this is quite an intense storm, we surely need it out here on the west coast and I’m glad to see it streaming down the pane.

When Rick was alive, dreary stormy weather such as today severely affected his mood. Speaking for myself, I find rainy days exhilarating. Particularly when I’m tucked inside cozy and warm working on projects such as I am today. Rick viewed overcast skies as dark and foreboding giving him a closed off feeling. Often, he said he felt claustrophobic on stormy days. When it became more than just an annoyance, we consulted his primary care physician who diagnosed Rick with seasonal depression disorder. It was suggested we order a special light to increase Rick’s levels of melatonin. So, on rainy days while I would be dancing and singing in the kitchen, Rick would be sitting in his recliner with a huge bulb focused on his head wishing it would all go away. We are so different and individual we humans. Each of us cut out of the same cloth, but woven with different colored threads making varied patterns and designs. I wonder sometimes we can all be considered brothers and sisters of the same species. Weather of all sorts could have been more tolerable for me coming from Nova Scotia, where inclement weather is not unfamiliar. Rick was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. There weather didn’t vary vastly as I understand it, ranging from hot to somewhat less hot, according to the time of year you were in. Cairo typically measures less than an inch of rain annually, compared to Halifax which comes in at 50 plus inches. A bit of a climatic variance to say the least. I often think could two less like people have possibly have come together? It’s a question that remains unanswered.

I have spoken before about my “wishcraft” as Rick used to call it. Simply put, I imagine something I need or wish would occur, and voila, like magic, it materializes. He was always asking why I couldn’t use what he referred to as my super power to purchase a winning lottery ticket. Last week I was wishing I had a new refrigerator. The one provided by my landlords has a relatively small freezer, of which I use every inch of available space. Also, there is no ice maker so in order to make ice, cumbersome ice trays take up a quarter of the space. I secretly suspect it was probably put here when the house was built in the early 1930’s. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not complaining. Well maybe I am, just a little. At the time I was wishing for a new appliance, I was really only wishing only for enough room for my freezing hands to stuff my Costco order in the existing one. Night before last, I woke up to what sounded like a buzz saw running in the kitchen. “What now” said my tired mind? Rolling slowly out of bed, I moved my shuffling feet in the direction of the annoying sound. Turning on the light, on inspection, it appeared to be coming from the refrigerator. Great. Just bought $200 worth of groceries and it’s a Saturday night. Purrrrrrfect. Once again, Murphy was having his way with me. Sigh. Opening the freezer door, the fan was obviously running on high. Beads of water had begun to hang down from the roof of the compartment. “Oh no! The dreaded unscheduled DEFROST.” Wow. For two hours this went on, and then as quickly as it started, quiet once again returned to the kingdom. The freezer began to hum softly, and nothing appeared to have thawed. Crisis averted. My scallops would live to be baked another day. Thank you Amana gods for your help.

Yesterday, I called my landlord and told him what had happened. After examining the patient, he said though not gone yet, the old girl was definitely on her way out. Later, he called to let me know a replacement had been ordered, but due to supply chain issues it would take a couple of weeks. Yay. After I hung up, I remembered my wishful thinking and thanked the universe for once again coming through.

Again, the witchcraft came into play this morning. Yesterday, I was reviewing the damage I have done to my bank balance this Christmas. I don’t usually spend like this on gifts, but this year it felt so good to me to buy for those I love, I just jumped in with both feet. Damn the torpedoes, and all that rot. I knew it would put a wrinkle in my savings but my “what the heck”, attitude kicked into gear as I pulled my credit card out with joyous abandon and stuck it in the slots around town. So, this morning I noticed my mail was already in the box, which is unusual. Perhaps this was because it is such a blustery day. Maybe the mailman wanted to get it done early so he could go home, put his feet up, and enjoy a hot beverage. He’s going to need one. I saw him walking by a while ago, the strong wind pushing back the flaps of his jacket, and shorts covering only half his legs. People in California would wear shorts in a blizzard, I swear. Especially men, no offense to those of the gruffer set reading. Really? It’s in the mid forties outside. Whew. Where is your mother? At any rate, I gathered my mail and in one envelope I discovered a stimulus check that will take a lot of the wind out of my Christmas debt, while also allowing me to breathe a lovely sigh of relief. All is right with the world this morning. Breathe in, breathe out. Ahhhhhh.

I am sewing a blanket for Zeppelin, the youngest of our clan. I will post a picture of it when I’ done if I think of it. I think it’s pretty special, and I hope he does. I have tried to make blankets for most of my kids over the years but haven’t always made it. Will have to make it up to those I missed when they are old enough to have kids of their own if I’m still planting roses and not serving as their fertilizer by the time this occurs.

There are still two packages that have to be mailed. Not only is everything in the store going up in the price, it now costs nearly as much, sometimes more, to mail the items. I paid $27.00 last week to mail an envelope 2-day delivery to Texas. Would have been cheaper to book a flight and take it there myself, and I could have picked up some great Mexican food in San Antonio while there. Over the weekend, I hit some of the stores at the mall. For the first time, it really resonated how much prices have gone up. Amazing. I’m not employed anymore, at least not full time. Feel sorry for those trying to get by. The minimum wage goes up, and then prices rise and completely nullify the benefits. Makes it hard to get ahead.

On that bit of whine, I’ll sign off for today. Downton Abbey awaits me. I’m still on season one and am binging like a professional. Have a wonderful day and stay dry, safe, and at least socially acceptably sane such as I do. Later.

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I am sitting here with a fresh cup of coffee next to my laptop, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, curled up next to me, the tree lights twinkling happily, and the heater humming. Life, in this moment, is good. That’s all we have really, the moment we are occupying. Boiling some eggs for breakfast, I noticed the windows were fogging up. Another chilly morning in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Always on extreme weather days, whether the thermometer registers high or low, I think of the disenfranchised people. The forgotten people, as I often think of them. Alone, shivering in the cold on a street corner or back alley. Outside, with no place to go and hope most likely not filling their cup. So many of them seem to have animals at their side. I have to assume these furry companions also have no homes to go to or warm beds to sleep in. Makes me think of the movie “Down and Out in Beverly Hills”. Nick Nolte played a homeless man who’s dog, in the opening scenes, abandons him for a lady walking down the street with more promising circumstances.

A long time back I wrote about being without a home or finances for a two week period in my life. I had family I could have called, but pride kept me from dialing their numbers. For two weeks my ex-husband and I lived in our car in Washington state. He had a job, so our future wasn’t bleak, but the present was definitely something we had to deal with. Many people who have lost their homes or for whatever reason found themselves without means, don’t have that option waiting for them. It is difficult to get a job if you have no address, no access to a computer or device, and nowhere to clean up and prepare for an interview. That time in my life made a permanent imprint on me. Never have I felt so vulnerable or unprotected. We had a case of Vienna sausage a work buddy had given my husband, a jug of cheap white wine (one must have some concessions), several large bottles of water, and an assortment of packaged cheese and hot salami packets. Not exactly a banquet. Though there was some money in our pockets, the job we’d driven up to Washington to work on had been postponed. This meant we had to conserve what resources we had for gas, and a hotel room here and there to clean up in before my husband was to report to work. Thankfully, the trees were just beginning to change color in the northwest, so though the mornings were brisk, the days were still comfortable and being outside not yet a dangerous place to be.

Each night we would find a nook or cranny off road to park the car. Using each other for warmth, we would huddle under our blankets and get as much sleep as the uncomfortable car seats would allow. One night, we found a cutaway on a rural road and pulled in under the trees for the night. With no moon out that night, the darkness swallowed us up. Though we could see lights on the hillside coming from a farmhouse, not much else was visible. My husband, a veteran of many long night shifts, could go to sleep standing up in the corner. For me, sleep often eluded me until the wee hours. This particular night, the black sky was alive with an unbelievable array of stars. The view, to understate, was spectacular. Looking out beyond the fence line beyond the front of the car, I kept getting the eerie sensation something was looking back. I remember feeling the hairs crawl up the back of my neck. Looking back, I think the more prudent thing to do in that situation would have been to lock the doors and waken my husband. Being me, and rarely a fan of the prudent choice, I grabbed the large flashlight on the floor of the back seat, and opened the car door. Approaching the barbed wire fence, it seemed as if it stretched all along the property on both sides. Engaging the flashlight, caught in the wide beam, were ten to twelve bovine faces looking back at me. Seemingly only mildly interested in the intruder, some chewed on blades of grass, while others just stared into the light with idle curiosity. Several of them let out low moos, so I responded with “Hello”.

Smiling, I went back to the car and settled back into my spot. In about a half an hour, I found myself in the same position I’d put the cows in, a flashlight beam interrupting my sleep. Both of us sat up in a panic. It was hard to see who was holding the beam with the light in our eyes. Rolling down the window, we were surprised to find a state trooper standing on the other side. It seemed the cattle rancher had recently had some problems with poachers, and seeing my beam flood the pasture, reported a prowler to the police. Whoops.

I can still picture the man standing there. For a moment he reminded me of Paul Bunyon. I wouldn’t have been in the least surprised to see the blue ox grazing not far away. Taller than average by a half, he wore a Smokey the Bear hat on his massive head, a neatly pressed blue uniform, and had a bow tie securing his shirt collar under his chin. Though kind, and not citing us for anything, he asked us politely to move on. I’m sure for most homeless people this is a familiar request.

In two weeks, our ordeal was over. Life for us went back to fairly normal. The local food bank gave us a most appreciated box of real food to see us through until our first paycheck. I remember asking the lady handing me the box how I could repay her. She said simply, “pay it forward”. That is why I have volunteered for the food ministry for the last eight years. My way of paying back a kindness.

If you see a street person, take the time to smile or say “good morning”. You never know their story, or what could happen to put you in their situation.

Have a nice weekend. Stay warm.

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Baby it’s cold outside this morning. Brrrrr. I forgot to take the trash to the curb last night, so had to rush out early to get it out there before the truck came by. The gardeners, such as they are, filled the compostable bin to the brim with leaves, then it rained. Sigh. The bin felt like it weighed about two hundred pounds. I’m not a very big being, as I’ve mentioned previously, so it took a serious amount of huffing, puffing, and general physical prowess to wrestle the darn thing down the driveway. Such things you begin to notice, when you lose the man in your life. Some chores you just need a man to help you with. Hard for me to admit here because I like to think I am the mistress of my own domain, but true is true. I do miss my man.

Last week I had to break down boxes, which was a job Dale always took care of for me. He had some sort of handy dandy tool (a box cutter I would suppose), that broke down the cardboard nicely. I had an old steak knife, not nearly as handy dandy. I remember the first time I was single, many moons ago, the only tool I had in my toolbox was a kitchen knife. I swear I could have built a Mars landing craft with that dull old blade. Seriously. That knife was used to take screws off the bottom of the vacuum, assemble furniture, ward off marauders, you name it. I must admit I had to add a Phillips head screwdriver and a hammer to the mix to get the job done effectively after a while, but until I got married again, those three tools served me well.

I took a swing at the gardeners in my first paragraph, because using the term to describe the three men who show up in my yard ever other week really is overreach. They swoop down like buzzards on a fresh carcass, blow the leaves off the yard into a pile by the fence which returns as soon as the wind picks up to form it’s original blanket on my lawn. They cut an uneven swath over the front and back areas of green and are in and out in less than fifteen minutes. Once I asked them to trim the weeds in the front and when I went out to see what they had done there wasn’t a plant standing in my garden. Pitiful. They are my landlords choice. Since I have little control other than constructive input, I deal with them, but never again asked them to trim the weeds.

The yard is a really nice yard, have to say. The back yard is large, with a small cement patio and deck. There are lovely trees placed here and there about the property providing much needed shade during the summer. Unfortunately, the two large shade trees in the back yard were cut down by PG&E because they were interfering with the power lines. I miss the lovely umbrella they provided during the hot summer months, but certainly don’t want anything resembling kindling that close to my little house.

Yesterday I went with a friend to visit a psychic. I see you shaking your head. I went after Rick passed away as well. This lady appears to have an actual gift for seeing beyond our normal borders. I told her nothing and provided no useful information for her to build on. Letting her lean on her own resources, she once again provided a really interesting reading for my yankee dollars. For those of you who view this as total nonsense or a sort of shell game, I say “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”. Not all professing to have such a gift actually do, of course. As with everything, there are those who are just in it to relieve you of your money. This lady always delivers, not only on being spot on on so many things she has to say but on the entertainment value. Both she and the lady who writes a horoscope I read at the beginning of each month are saying the coming year is going to be a stellar one. “Yay”, says I. I am really ready to get in line for something uplifting and soul changing. Sign me up, please and don’t hold the mayo.

I am dragging a bit this morning. Had a restless night. Sometimes my dreams are soooooo real and decidedly unsettling. Perhaps this is the side effect of an overly active mind. Last night I was in a big city. I somehow perceived it as San Francisco, though it looked nothing like my favorite California city. First, I was lost in an office building. I couldn’t seem to get out of the elevator, at one point zooming up to the penthouse where the occupants weren’t particularly pleased to find me there. When I finally did get off in the lobby, I had no idea what street I was on, and couldn’t remember where on earth I’d parked my car. Apparently, I finally located it because next I was speeding down dark and unfamiliar streets with no idea where I was going or how to get home. Next, I was in a massive shopping mall. While struggling to find an exit, I apparently won a new house filled with furniture. I stood in front of a crowd in the center of the mall with a family I did not recognize to receive my bounty. I remember willing myself to wake up. When I did, I was in a bog for an hour before I again felt familiar with my surroundings. What a strange mind I have. Sometimes it worries me. Perhaps someone will take the time to study it when I’m no longer using it and let me know what’s up with that. Was I to analyze it, employing no dream analyzing skills whatsoever, I could see easily I’m feeling a bit lost and not sure where to go from here. Who the strange family was standing in the mall with me, is your best guess.

I am trying to get my outside errands done today, and visit with my mom tomorrow, before we finally are to be entertaining some winter weather here in Northern California. For those of you born with ski poles in your hands this will be welcome news. For me, I will be tucked inside with my tree lights glowing in the background, watching my Christmas movies, downing an eggnog latte and wrapping presents.

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We are coming to the end of another odd year. I thought last year with all the COVID concerns was to be the odd one, but have to admit this year went ahead and really outdid itself. As I’ve said, I had COVID, and obviously survived. As of last month, I can also say I have had both vaccinations plus the indicated additional booster. Now, they are saying there’s a new variant more resistant then it’s predecessors. Whew. It’s like climbing the side of a steep precipice. You can see the top of the mountain from your vantage point, but no matter how high you climb, getting there always seems just out of reach. At some point, you have to say to yourself, “I have done what I can to keep myself and those around me safe. Now I have to let go, and let God (or whoever you believe is in charge).” At times it feels like no one is in charge, though I don’t really believe that. However, lately some days it does seem as if the ship is sailing through rough waters with nobody manning the oars.

The holidays were looming in front of me ominously after Dale passed away October 22nd. It’s odd, though it’s been only a little over a month, it feels like a lifetime has gone by since he last sat in my living room. I’m managing to get through each holiday as it shows up on the calendar, and find myself enjoying my time with friends and family. Perhaps because this is my second immersion in the grief process in three years, I have learned to traverse the minefield without leaving any limbs in my wake. Sometimes the pendulum reflecting my mood leans far to the right. During those darker periods, lifting my heavy feet to walk seems an impossible task. Then, as quickly as it leaned right, it will move dramatically to the left side. When resting there, my toes are happily tap, tap, tapping to a song I’m listening to, or I find myself humming contentedly while fixing vegetables in my sunny kitchen. Grief is such an individual undertaking (sorry that pun was unintended), and each person must in the end make their own way through it however works best for them.

I have begun my shopping for this holiday season. Once I have watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Santa and Mrs. Claus have driven their sleigh down 34th Street and flown home to help the elves prepare for the big day, I generally get into the swing of things as far as gifts are concerned. I am nothing, if not a creature of habit.

Now that we’re all emptying our bank accounts for the sake of maintaining Santa’s reputation, I’d like to offer a piece of sage advice. Be careful when you order anything off the ads that pop up on social media, particularly when you have never heard of the company. At the very least, check them out on some of the verifier sites before ordering anything. Twice now I’ve been suckered in by a really cute picture only to end up with something not resembling that item in the least. This time I ordered two. Please, I know. Don’t judge me. I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty face. “Let the buyer beware” is really a mantra I should have been saying, quite possibly out loud. If it was physically possible, and believe me it is not any more, I would be kicking my own behind. Duh.

When I contacted the seller he responded, or she, I needed to peel the protective plastic sheet off the item to improve the look. Hmmmmm. It would take more than that I’m afraid. Number one, the original item looked to have dimension and the one I got look like a photograph of that item glued on to a plastic backing. It looks like that because I’m quite sure that’s exactly what it is. They made one, took a picture, threw out the fishing line and waited to sink the hook in some suckers lower lip. I was kind enough to stop by and offer them mine. Number two, the plastic protective sheet was glued or stuck on the plastic and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I reported them on a site I go to report such things. Should have read some of the comments about this company I found there before ordering anything myself. Each comment echoed how I felt. Cheap, poorly made, not representative of the item they had shown a picture of. Check, check, and check. Ah well, another lesson written on the board. I wonder if I’ll graduate one of these days, or if I’m just one of those students who is perpetually sitting outside of the principal’s office?

Thanksgiving turned out to be a lovely celebration at my daughter’s house with her family and a few of her husband’s relatives. My mother joined us, and after a bit of a health scare earlier in the week, we were feeling especially thankful to see her face a the table. Dinner was a fusion of vegan and carnivore, and delicious on all counts. Not being a sweet eater usually, I really enjoyed the pumpkin cheesecake which was totally a vegan recipe. Yummer. I was spending the night, so I thought to pack a pair of “after dinner pants” with a flexible waist. I highly recommend this. Hah. Gave all that dinner a little room to settle into the loose spots. When staying over night at my daughters, I sleep on the couch. Quite often I have one or the other of the two cats in residence join me during the night. Heather, my daughter, is a very creative being. Like her mother, she loves the holidays and her well decorated house reflects her passion. All across her ceiling in the family and living rooms she hangs snowflakes from fishing line. Each snowflake is strategically placed and hangs at a different length on it’s invisible tether than the one hanging next to it. Lying there in the dark before closing my eyes, I watched as the air currents moved the snowflakes in circles like a lovely choreographed winter ballet. Life really is magical, whatever age you are.

Yesterday, my son and his girlfriend drove up from the Bay Area for a quick lunch with my daughter and myself. It was so nice to have both my chicks together. We ate a local restaurant and again I was faced with dishes full of amazing calorie laden food. OMG. Where were my “after dinner pants” when I needed them? For an appetizer (I KNOW, WHAT?) we had baked brie. After tasting it spread on the garlic toast points they provided on the side, I considered for a moment face planting in the center of the serving dish. Soooooo good. It was bubbly brie, topped with caramelized onions, and then finished off with a perfectly cooked fried egg on top. When the yolk was broken, it oozed over the whole caramelly oooey gooey cheesy deliciousness. “Stop”, my stomach cried out to deaf ears. “You’re killing me.” Did I listen? Nooooooooo. I forged on, following up the amazing brie with a plate of eggs Benedict served on crab cakes next to a mountain of home fries. I can feel the acid building in my nether regions as I’m writing this. To begin with, years ago I lost my gall bladder. I didn’t misplace it, though lately that wouldn’t surprise me, but I had it surgically removed. I lost an organ with each marriage, a testimony to the sacrament, and this one was sacrificed during my third. I barely show up on an x-ray any more. Seriously, I can’t afford another marriage with any hopes of remaining erect. I had no after affects worth mentioning after my gall bladder was gone, except for a high sensitivity to garlic. The pungent little bugger will repeat on me for hours once I’ve consumed it. Not a pretty thought I know.

So, today I am taking a cleanse of sorts to right my ship again. When I get off course, I try to correct it and get back in the shipping lane again as soon as possible. The only exception would be spending a week on a cruise ship There is no way to get away from the incessant parade of delicious food there unless you actually jump ship or stay behind in one of the scheduled ports, but I digress. How on earth I got on cruise ships I have no idea. Anyhow, this morning it was oatmeal and fresh fruit followed by a brisk walk, and a salad with micro greens for lunch. No matter how I write that it will never sound anywhere near as enticing as my description of that baked brie. I’m just sayin.

I would guess a lot of you were out and about over the weekend shopping or picking up a tree to bring home and decorate. Have a lovely Monday. Talk soon.

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What a stressful week. Whew. Night before last I got in bed after dinner, pulled the covers over my head, and hibernated. I switched the phone to silent, turned the TV off, and went to sleep. Yesterday was just a whirlwind, but today, I feel I am finally rising up above the haze. Most of the day yesterday was spent prepping vegetables for our big turkey dinner this afternoon. For me, though we are having turkey, the big bird is not really the main event, nor the vegetables, rolls or decadent desserts. On my plate, hands down, the stuffing is the star. From what I’ve observed, most of us prefer the stuffing (or dressing if that is how you say it) we grew up with. Some cooks toss in the gizzards (I simply toss them), others add cornbread, some include sausage, and the list goes on. My grandmother used to buy loaves of bread ahead of the big day and allow them to get slightly stale. I can still see her cutting the loaves into cubes in her kitchen in Nova Scotia. The kitchen would be in full production mode before the chickens opened their eyes. Uncooked pie crusts would be resting over glistening glass pie dishes waiting to be filled, and the cavity of the big bird would be cleaned and seasoned and waiting to receive the perfectly seasoned stuffing before going into the oven. Yum and double yum.

Back then, the stuffing was most likely cooked inside the bird. I haven’t done it that way in many years because they (whoever they are) determined this method to be more likely to make you sick. I don’t remember as a child ever being sick after eating a holiday meal, unless it was from eating that last piece of pumpkin pie when my stomach was already filled to capacity. Also turkeys, chickens, pork chops, or whatever, were taken out of the freezer and left in a dish in the sink to thaw. Now, of course, you wouldn’t do that. How did we survive before we had all this information? I can’t imagine.

Though I am not the head chef this year, nor is dinner being produced in my kitchen, I am a contributing partner. My portion of the meal is salad and vegetable side dishes. On paper, this sounds fairly foolproof, but with my strange behavior over the past few weeks, I hesitate to declare a solid win. Yesterday, for example, I had to go to several stores to pick up some last minute items. At the first store, I had a chat with the clerk while she was ringing up my items. This is a Dale residual effect. Dale talked to everyone, as I’ve said, and knew their name and they knew his by the time he left a store. Having lingered longer than I expected, I was rushing so I could get home and get on with the long to-do list waiting for me on the dining room table. Hopping in my car, I headed to the second store I needed to visit. Picking up what I wanted, I took my place in the already long line and finally got up to the cashier. Reaching in my purse, I realized my wallet wasn’t inside. Have you ever had your stomach drop so fast it actually hit the ground and rebounded back up? Happened to me, right there, and right then. I had a fair amount of money for Christmas shopping in my wallet, all my credit cards, and I just got my license with my new California ID. Panicked, I asked the clerk to hold my items and ran back to the car and backed out. Retracing my steps, I flew with gossamer wings back into the first store I visited. As soon as I entered the door, I could see the friendly clerk waving her arms at me. In one hand, I could see she held my wallet. Thank you God. This, I believe, was a Susie wake up call from the universe. The message was clear as a bell ringing in my frazzled brain. “Slow down, take a breath once and a while, pace yourself, and remember you are dealing with a fair amount right now. Last we looked YOU ARE NOT SUPERWOMAN! If something does not get done the earth will not stop turning, you will not be in trouble, and life will continue to go on. Remember, be kind to yourself”. Message received and noted. Whew. I felt like I’d just run the Preakness. Back to the store where they were holding my packages, I again got in line behind a number of other shoppers. The clerk, catching my eye, waved me to the front of the line. The lady in the very front looked like she was going to whack me over the head with her stuffed reindeer as I passed her up. I would have stopped and explained, but to be honest, I didn’t like her attitude. Had I been less irritated, I would have told her one of her reindeer’s feet was missing a hoof. Ah well. I’ll do better next time. I’m still stirring my pot of holiday good cheer, and it’s not quite done yet.

So, I came home and began methodically going down my list of things I had to get done. Veggies, as I said, were a big part of my day yesterday. Cooking them is never particularly complicated, it’s the peeling and chopping that takes the time. I decided with so much to do I’d have my groceries delivered. It’s a little more expensive, but less crazy in the store time, and frankly I didn’t know when I’d have had time to do it. If you’ve every done this, your “personal shopper” texts you back and forth as they are shopping with your list to ask questions or suggest replacements, etc. With so many things not being available this year, predictably my phone began to blow up once my shopper began pushing her cart through the aisles. Because half my clan are vegan, the other half carnivores, cooking becomes a bit more of a minefield. I tried to stay true to the vegan portion of the program by asking for organic products. She texted me the four bags of chopped rommaine were not to be found in organic packaging. “Okay”, I told her, “let’s do two bags of organic rommaine hearts”. Good to go. I can chop. I have the technology. Sooooo, when the bags arrived I waved at my lovely elf through the window, and gathered the spoils of her activities. Yay. Done and done. While unloading my food, I realized I had four bags of chopped rommaine plus six bundles of rommaine hearts. Wowser. Apparently I’m expecting ten extra people. I may have to set up a salad bar out by the curb.

So, I am salad rich over here, and feeling thankful. Thankful that I have too much salad, unlike some who don’t have enough. Thankful for my dear friends who have been there to prop me up as I’ve made my way through the crazy past three years. Thankful for my family who I love so fiercely, and that my dear little mama will be present at our table for yet another remarkable dinner. Thankful for the roof over my head and that I’m blessed with good health and a beloved kitty, who is obviously enjoying her Thanksgiving treats by the crunching I hear in the background. Oh and thanks to all of you who stop by and read my meanderings week after week.

Have a blessed day. Enjoy each minute with those you love. They are the most precious moments we have in our lives.

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