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Archive for the ‘starting over’ Category

I went out to dinner with friends last night for the first time since the pandemic arrived on the scene. It felt both weird and wonderful to be sitting at a booth inside a restaurant without anything covering my face.

Our waitress, Gayelle, though friendly and sweet, was definitely in the wrong line of work. Always I give servers the benefit of the doubt. Having owned a restaurant I understand fully how a day can go downhill quickly with food issues, demanding customers, or even something brought in going on at home. To be fair, two of the four of us at the table were previously involved in the restaurant business, so perhaps we viewed her performance with more critical eyes. Let me begin by saying this is a brewery and restaurant. They offer good food, a fun atmosphere, and it is very popular with the locals. The atmosphere is casual, not a place you would expect to be handed leather bound menus. That being said, when we were given four double sided pieces of paper it was fine, except for the fact two of them had huge red stains across them and one had a big chunk of food stuck to the stain. Not fine. Ewwww.

After reviewing their fairly limited menu, we made our choices. The menu selections were basically a burger, a couple of steak options, salads, a variety of street tacos, which they are known for, fish and chips, and the catch of the day. Three of us wanted the tacos and one, the lone male in the pride, was going for a rib eye. Easy peasey. Back with our drinks, Gayelle took out her order pad. Pen poised, she asked what we would like. My friend seated across from me wanted to know what the fish of the day was. It was cod. “Cod sounds perfect”, said my friend to which Gayelle replied, “sorry we are out of fish”. Out of fish? How could they be out of fish? It was barely after 5:00 and fish was easily the main ingredient in 50% of their menu choices. Do you think perhaps this information should have been the first information we were given when being handed our menus? With three of us already on board the fishing boat headed out of the harbor, we needed a moment to regroup. I suggested she defer to our red meat friend while we figured out something else to order. After the rib eye guy placed his order, she told him they were also out of steak. Really? I suggested we’d better narrow the field down to what they actually did have in the kitchen, or we could well be there all night. Four burgers it was.

After we ate our burgers, which were delicious, we relaxed for a bit. When we were ready to call it a day, we realized we had not seen our waitress since Reagan was in office. After about ten minutes and no Gayelle in sight, we flagged down another server and asked if she could send Gayelle to our table please. Shortly, she appeared at the table with the check already tabulated, never asking us if we’d like either dessert or coffee. Hmmmmm. Serving 101 training definitely needed here. Servers are generally taught to upsell appetizers, desserts, or specialty drinks. It’s part of being a good “salesperson” for your establishment. When we asked what the dessert selections were, she said we could find them on their website. Check please.

Now, I am not a difficult customer. I do have friends who, though not so much difficult, can be perhaps a tad annoying. If a server is busy, dealing with this type of customer can be absolutely mind rattling. We all l have that one friend who can never make up her mind what to have when out to eat. After reviewing the menu for a half an hour this person will then take a poll at the table to find out what everyone else is ordering. When the actual ordering has begun she will begin interrogating the server as to how each menu item is prepared. “Is it fresh? Is it cooked in oil or butter?” Ecetera, ecetera. Next, when she finally lands on a selection, she orders what she’s chosen, changes her mind, then changes her mind again, and in the end goes back to her original choice. Please.

I have another friend who I call the substitution queen. In line at McDonald’s she will order a 1/4 pounder with no cheese, no onions, hold the meat, no sesame seeds on the bun, sauce on the side, lettuce on the side, sweet pickles not dill. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat cooling my heels in one of their parking lots with a cone on my car because of her. Usually, they make us wait quite a while for our food. I believe, though I cannot prove it, this is a form of extracting punishment for high crimes against their employees.

Another thing that is annoying on the other side, is when you get in line at a fast food place and tell the speaker what you want. Clearly you say, ‘I would like an iced tea, unsweetened, no lemon.” This is repeated back to you for clarity and appears on the screen in front of you. You get up to the window and you are handed a sweetened iced tea with a lemon wedge floating in it. Happens to me all the time. My daughter will not leave a fast food restaurant without examining the bag fully before pulling away from the window. She has bad fast food karma. Invariably it will be her order that is not in the bag once we get home. Whatever she did in a former life she is doing penance for must have involved a food vendor.

In truth, I’m not much of a fast food foodie. I value my arteries and prefer fresher fare. However, every once and a while I simply have to have an In ‘n Out burger and fries. I’ve been going there since I was in high school. One of my first steady boyfriends worked at the local In ‘n Out. At that time it was just a small family run affair. The building itself was a rectangular shack-like structure with windows on both sides and one in the front. You could either order on speaker through the drive-thru or walk up to the window at the front of the building. Once you got your food, there were picnic tables to sit it at or you could eat in your car. Nothing fancy and certainly not the long lines you see there now. Of all the burger joints in all of the world, I believe it is still my favorite.

I have had lots of interesting things happen to me while eating out. In the 80’s I went to lunch with a group co-workers. There were ten or twelve of us in the party celebrating somebody’s birthday. We were seated at a group of square tables pushed together to make one long rectangular one. I was in the queen’s seat at the head of the table. Back then, everybody automatically was served water without having to ask for it. Our waitress, as luck would have it, was enduring her first week on the job. Learning to carry heavy trays is a bit of an art. Some waitresses can carry in their arms or on a tray nearly a full table of dishes laden with food. Not every one, of course. That day the test for this girl was if she could carry all our full water glasses with ice to the table on a tray and distribute them without spilling. The answer here is b) she could not. She stood next to me with a full tray and removed the one on her end apparently the one glass keeping the other ten or so balanced. Like penguins sliding into a pool, each glass marched down the tray and one by one unloaded into my lap. The maitre d rushed over to me apologizing. They offered to pay for dry cleaning, but it was water so there really wasn’t any harm done to my clothes. The only damage was the walk of shame on my part when leaving the restaurant. My shoes had absorbed so much liquid, when I took a step, bubbles foamed up out of the leather. To add to the humiliation, the back my dress looked as if I’d relieved myself during the meal without benefit of visiting the bathroom. They did pay for my lunch, and I let them.

Another time, my children’s dad and I were in an IHOP when my kids were little. They used to serve coffee in those thermos bottles back then to keep it hot, hot. My son was around six. Sitting still definitely wasn’t his strongest suit. Wriggling and fussing while waiting for his breakfast to arrive, he managed to knock over the carafe which bounced off the table and landed upside down and open in my husband’s lap. The liquid was so hot, my husband’s leg jerked up in reaction and his shoe went flying into the air landing in the gentleman’s pancakes across the aisle from us. Sorry. My husband ended up in the ER with second degree burns in his nether regions. Ouch. In that case we bought that man his pancakes.

Life is an interesting place to inhabit. Always something new to see and do. Fun to feel a little normal again, or as normal as I get.

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I really think we women are the queens of multi-tasking. Sometimes I stop and look at all the pies I have my fingers in and am amazed when I hit the pillow at night I don’t slip into a coma, rather than spending most of my time trying to convince my mind to go back to sleep. Part of night restlessness, of course, includes the eternal march back and forth to the bathroom that has become part of my repertoire in the last couple of years. John Phillip Sousa should have devoted some time to penning a piece about that. I have followed all the suggestions, “don’t drink anything after six”. Check. “Use the bathroom right before going to bed.” Check. I don’t drink alcohol, nor do I use any artificial sweeteners or consume processed sugar unless in small amounts. Then we get to reducing caffeine. Now, there I draw the line. Susie has got to have her coffee. Logically, it would seem if I drank coffee at 8:00 in the morning, it shouldn’t be processing through my system at 3 a.m., but apparently it can have an effect even after all that time has passed. Disappointing. Coffee is my only vice these days, and they will have to pry my favorite owl cup out of my cold dead hands before I’m giving it up. To be interesting, I believe you need to have at least one vice. This should be limited to something obviously that doesn’t cause you bodily harm, like collecting bottlecaps or being secretly addicted to Pringles. Whoops, it appears I have two vices going at the moment.

Yesterday was a grueling day at my house. The phone was relentless, as there is a lot going on in my world at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I am more than thankful I have such a wonderful and caring group of friends who keep up with me, but still sometimes my lips get worn out with making words and I have run the white flag up the pole. My list of errands was starting to get past the manageable stage, so I decided to cross some of those trips off before I had to run an add for an assistant. Also, I am having my first small dinner party since the Pandemic on Saturday night which requires I actually purchase some food to put on people’s plates. When Rick and I owned our restaurant, we entertained a lot. Looking back I wonder I had time to pull together a large dinner party with the restaurant consuming most of our time, but somehow it all got done and I enjoyed doing it. The house we lived in at the time was set up for entertaining. This little house, as sweet as it is, is more an intimate dinner party than a large gathering. More than six people under this roof would feel like a crowd. As I’ve said before I refer to my kitchen as a “two butt kitchen” because if you get more than two people in the room at once you cannot avoid some intimate contact. I tend to deflect any offers of help cleaning up, because if someone else is in there with me we spend the whole time saying, “I’m sorry”, “excuse me” and it becomes annoying rather than helpful.

Surveying my to-do list I decided to go into Home Goods first. Home Goods is my happy place. You could just lock me up in there for days, and I would never call for assistance. Specifically, I was looking for a kibble container for Boo, the Queen of Cats. I’ve had the same jar for years, with kitty paws decorating the outside, and the lid finally gave up the ghost. Rummaging about in the pet aisle, a lady joined me on the other end with a small wiener dog in tow. The dog, I’m sure much to it’s humiliation, was wearing a pink tutu and had a matching pink and white bow attached to one floppy ear. Dachshunds really are such funny little creatures, with their long tubular bodies, and short little legs. This little one immediately went to the dog toy section. Without hesitation it began politely sorting through the shelf, sniffing this toy and sniffing that one, until finding one that apparently suited its needs. Retrieving the oversized stuffed toy with it’s mouth, the animal sat politely while the owner continued looking at something on the shelf in front of her. Made me smile. The toy was nearly the size of the dog who chose it and was, appropriately, in the shape of a hot dog in a bun. Sometimes life achieves perfect harmony. When the dog’s owner saw me smiling at “Sadie”, she told me Sadie comes into the store quite often and always selects her own treat. Animals really are amazing. When I look at what’s going on in our world these days, makes me wonder if they aren’t the ones who really have things figured out not we humans.

Sometimes, in a weak moment, I think about having another dog. Boo, of course, is not ever going to raise a paw in support of this idea. My sweet old cat believes my world revolves around her furry puss, and in some ways she’s not far off. What I would have done without her over the last few years, I really don’t have an answer for. Was I to get another dog, it would have to be an adult dog, a rescue probably, and already trained. I don’t have the bandwidth at the moment to train a puppy. I have a friend who recently got a Yorkshire puppy, and this little guy has become a full time job. As much as I love animals, I simply don’t have room in my day for long walks in the park, and cleaning up deposits on my rug. Nor do I want my currently disorganized world further disorganized with pee pads, and leash training. The dog, I’m afraid, will have to come later on down the road.

In an effort to reduce my load a bit, the other day I handed the new man in my life a grocery list and sent him off to the store. Yay. Oh, not so fast. The first phone call came in about twenty minutes later. By the time he was done there were six calls in total with questions about this item or that. I could have been in and out and made a pie and had it cooling in the window by the time the trip was complete. My granddaughter went shopping with me a few years ago. Loading the bags in my trunk she said, “Nana, you are the fastest shopper I ever saw”. There’s some truth to that. I am an in and out girl, no side trips. My mother, on the other hand, when she shops, is soooooo slow. Each zucchini has to be examined. Only those passing the Mary Mack comprehensive vetting program will eventually be placed in the bag. Back when she was still living independently, I often visited her in the bay area. While there, a visit to the grocery store was often part of a day out. Mother liked to shop at several higher end stores. The kind of stores where pears are sold with little hammocks swaddling each piece of fruit. One store in particular, had a very attractive produce manager. Mother took me right up to him and while introducing the two of us went on and on about how good looking he was and that he was single. It happened I was as well at the time, so the innuendo was not lost on either of us. This hunky vegetable man kindly selected only the very best produce for my mother to take home with her. Really? Once we’d cleared the vegetable department with no matches made, we moved on to the meat department where every butcher seemed to know her name. After collecting the white packages of meat, we went on to the bakery where small pink boxes wrapped with twine marked “hold for Mary M.” would be waiting for her to pick up. It was like having a concierge grocery store at her disposal.

Grocery store, was fourth on my list yesterday. My plan was to run in and run out with only three items I needed. You know how that goes? You go in for a jar of pickle relish and come out with enough food in your cart to feed an army. While waiting in line, a lady walked through the doors not wearing a face covering. The store had an employee seated by the entrance to provide cart wipes and ostensibly welcome shoppers to the store. Secretly, I suspect they also are tasked with making sure masks are in place before people proceed any further. This lady was not happy when asked to put on a mask. For me, I’m so used to it that I don’t quite get the problem. Just put it on, do what you need to, and get over it. I could see this wasn’t going to go well. The CDC says fully vaccinated people can ditch the masks but unvaccinated people need to continue wearing him. How do you enforce that I wonder? It’s not like we get a stamp on our hands or something once our regimen of shots have been completed. People who weren’t inclined to wear masks in the first place are also likely to fall under the people who don’t want to get the vaccination in the first place umbrella. Why would you think they’d suddenly volunteer to wear one if it wasn’t mandated? Is is just me?

At any rate, this irate lady got her irritation out LOUDLY, and then stormed out of the store. K. Susie just needed her chicken, and now apparently twenty or thirty other items. Shopping seems to have become my favorite pastime lately. I like to attribute this to not being able to get out of the house for the last year and a half, but truthfully I think it’s hereditary. My mother is a consummate shopper. I have known her to arrive at a mall when it opened and remain there until nearly supper time. As a teen, I can remember helping to unload bags and packages from her trunk. These were stored in my closet out of the way of my stepfather’s watchful eyes. One by one the clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry were introduced into the household. My stepdad would say, “Is that new”? My mother would reply, “This old thing”?

So today I am off to finish my list. Think I’ll get some fresh flowers for my table. Feels festive to have guests again. Have a great weekend.

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There are pluses and minuses to living alone. At times it can be a solitary existence, but if you spin that correctly it can also mean time spent doing things you enjoy, when you want to enjoy them. Simple pleasures such as picking up a good book at three in the afternoon in your most lived in sweats, and wiling away a couple of hours, or having a bowl of Cheerios and bananas for dinner. It also gives you the latitude to decorate your nest as you please without having to ask “do you like this chair” or “what do you think of this color for the living room wall”? Rick and I shared a lot of things, our taste in decorating wasn’t one of them. Where Rick leaned toward sleek clean lines and modern decor, I bent much more in the direction of cozy country chic designs, making picking out artwork, furniture, and even dishes a matter of initiating compromise on both sides. In our first house, the decor was much more Rick’s style than mine. As it was his house, that should not be surprising. However, when we moved in our first house together his style sort of blended with mine creating an interesting, but not unappealing (at least to us) eclectic mix.

In a recent blog, I mentioned my current pining for ocean breezes and salty air. I also mentioned I had finally purchased a new bed. Both came together as I began to rethink the room once the new furniture was in place. As the ideas flowed and the design ideas progressed, I brought the sea to the room and love, love, love the end result. Was I left to my own devices and didn’t have a life to live, I would climb up on that oh so comfy mattress, sink into my bank of pillows, and simply “be” for the next five years. Unfortunately, I would be doing my “be-ing” on the street before long so feel I need to do more with my time than wallow about swathed in cotton all day.

A friend of mine called this morning. She was telling me her granddaughter, a recent high school graduate, is headed to UC Santa Barbara this fall along with her childhood best buddy. The girls drove up from the LA area last weekend with their parents to sign a lease on an off campus apartment where they will make their home during their first year at school. How exciting. I have to admit as she was filling me in on the details of the girls college plans, I felt a pang or two of envy. The whole college experience is something I missed out on. Not because it wasn’t available to me, but rather because I chose another option. Though I believe you should be grateful for what you have, and not spend time lamenting what you do not, I have always wondered what going off to college might have looked like. I managed to jam nearly a full year of college credits in between raising two toddlers and a full time job, but that is not the same as heading off to school with no outside encumbrances. For me there were no late night parties, sorority sisters, or football games. I was all about diapers, bills and a husband.

Part of having children early in life is it will likely leave you an empty nester at a relatively young age. Now, this may be far less true nowadays, particularly here in California. The cost of housing has become so prohibitive and housing availability so tight, a lot of adult children are still living under their parent’s roof just to make ends meet. Both my children were out on their own by the time I celebrated my fortieth birthday, with my first grandchild arriving on the scene the year I turned forty-two. That was a red letter year for me. I got married that year, yes again, and was living in West Virginia when my sweet little granddaughter was born. At around the time she turned six weeks old, I could no longer wait for our first introduction. I purchased a ticket, and hopped on a plane at Yeager Airport in Charleston and flew non-stop to San Jose. For me this was a big event in several ways. Since moving from Alabama to West Virginia I had inexplicably been suffering from anxiety attacks. I had never dealt with them before, and once they abated, thankfully, never have since. At the time, however, they were a driving power in my life. When I would shop at a large box store such as Sam’s Club, for example, being inside that cavernous warehouse brought about an immediate claustrophobic reaction in me. As I went further into the belly of the beast, my heart would begin to pound, my ears take to ringing, and my forehead would develop lines of sweat. Suddenly, I would get the overwhelming urge to run out of the building, and would have to find an exit in order to gather my breath. These annoying responses went on for about two years before I finally got a grip on them and was able to pack them away in my memory chest. Once, when visiting my kids in California I joined them on a trip to Disneyland. Disneyland, as you can imagine, is not the ideal place to find yourself when dealing with claustrophobia. Being inside in the dark on rides is sort of their claim to fame. For those of you who have been there and gone on Space Mountain you will understand exactly what I am saying here. Somehow I muddled through. At the time they were featuring the 3-D movie Captain EO, starring Michael Jackson, in their Magic Eye Theater in Tomorrowland. The theater itself was massive on the inside. We were handed 3-D glasses on entering the building, and were seated in the middle of the center row with people stretched out on either side. When the doors shut and the dark was absolute. Mommy. The movie started, and I could feel my heart rate moving up the scale with the music. Using all the tools my doctor had given me, I worked on taking my mind off what my body was doing and concentrating on what was going on on the screen. The 3-D glasses allow the viewer to capture all the amazing effects giving the impression images are right in front of your face. For me, this was the last straw. Dark closed in, and glasses off, gasping like a wide mouth bass in the bottom of the boat, I stood up and told my son-in-law I had to leave. “Leave, now?”, he said, but I was already saying “excuse, me. pardon, me”, all the way across the aisle. An employee grabbed me y the arm asking what in a whisper exactly what I thought I was doing. Unable to explain myself, but after seeing my face, she just guided me to an exit. A bit embarrassing to say the least. Outside people were staring at me as red faced I sucked at the air hoping to grab a little oxygen. For any of you who have ever had an anxiety attack, you will understand the feelings I am describing. It is a fight or flight reaction your body goes into when faced with danger. Though Captain EO posed no danger at all to my psyche, the closing doors triggered my body into action. After a while, I learned to manage the anxiety. First, you have to acknowledge to yourself that you are having a panic attack, then remind yourself there is actually no imminent danger. Next, you have to breathe in and out slowly to calm yourself down. It really is amazing the power of the mind. Probably says a lot as to why it is said a positive attitude can effect a cancer outcome, or how negative thoughts can create illness.

At any rate, after that long detour into my psyche, when my granddaughter was born this is what I was managing. Getting on a plane, basically a long tube where you are closed in and hermetically sealed, was a problem for me. When the doors were closed and the cheerful flight attendant was robotically reciting the safety rules, the pounding in my chest once again resumed, sounding like a kettle drum inside my ears. Oh-oh. All I could think about is imagining myself standing at the door to the cockpit, beating loudly, and screaming, “OUT, I NEED TO GET OUT”! Thankfully, they serve liquor on planes so I managed to survive the flight without total public humiliation, well at least with the panic attacks. By the time I arrived in San Jose my tongue and lips had agreed they could no longer form words and I could no longer feel my feet. When I got up to get my carry on bag out of the overhead bin, I had to be accosted by the flight attendant two seats down the aisle to be informed the bag I had retrieved belonged to the lady in the seat across from me and mine was still up in the compartment Whoops. Could have been worse, I could have borrowed her husband or somebody’s child. Probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference. Ach.

It was grand to be there once I sobered up. Seeing your grandchildren for the first time is nearly the event greeting your own is, though with less participation and less responsibility on your part. I have to say being part of the audience rather than one of the key players, can prove far less stressful. On my arrival at my daughter’s house, a sweet little pink bundle was placed in my arms. A tiny girl with a serious head of dark hair stared up at me as if to say, “Hi, Nana” and I was hooked. Always I have loved children. Their innate ability to accept the most ludicrous of scenarios as full of possibilities and adventures, their unchecked honestly (no matter how painful), and their wide eyed fascination with anything and everything populating their world. Like my cat, who always seems to find her way into my blogs, you can give a child a cardboard box and they will see a fort, a suit of armor, or perhaps even a sled gliding down an icy hill. As we get older and decorum and proper adult behavior become expected of us, we lose that childish innocence and overt joy. Too bad we couldn’t pack it away like a cloud of fireflies in a Mason jar to be pulled out of reserve for darker days.

We do survive things, we humans. Crises come and crises go. People float into our lives, some sticking like jelly to the wall, and others slipping away after a while and disappearing from sight. There are so many mysteries yet to unfold. I wonder at times what life will look like forty years in the future, or even a century away. I will not be here to write about it, but would love to be a fly on the wall to see what state the world is in as time marches along. I hope we open our eyes to climate change and start seriously taking responsibility for our part in keeping this world safe for our children, and grandchildren and theirs. Each of us has a hand in how we impact our environment and hopefully we can reverse some of the damage already done or at the very least prevent further damage in the future.

Have a safe and productive day. TGIF!!

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Do you ever wish Mother Nature would add a couple of new vegetables and maybe some new protein options to the old menu? Sometimes I sit during the day going over the ingredients at hand for dinner, and long for a new taste or flavor to add to the pot. Perhaps it is just me. At times, as much as I like to cook, and God knows I love to eat, I do get tired of my own cooking.


On Easter, we decided to have rack if lamb. I know a lot of people choose ham for Easter, but neither of us are really ham people. Growing up there was always a ham on the side table at Easter. A glistening hunk of cured pork studded with cloves and adorned with golden rings of pineapple. It always looked so pretty, but I never really cared for the taste. Later in life, my mother always got a honey baked ham over the holidays, but for me turkey was always the star of the show in November and December.

So, having made the decision that lamb it was, and lamb it shall be, we went to Costco and perused the meat shelves looking for the perfect rack. Odd statement, but I shall leave it untouched. At any rate, the first thing I noticed was how much meat prices have soared. Amazing. Chuck roast, the red headed stepchild of ribeye, sirloin, and prime rib cuts, now costs as much or more than the higher priced cuts used to sell for. At the end of one shelf we located huge racks of lamb with price tags running anywhere from $17.00-$24.00. What? Sign me up for that. The last time I purchased a rack of lamb it was more in the $42.00-$47.00 range. Selecting a lovely large rack, and thinking to myself “my Grandma, what big ribs you have”, I tossed it in the cart. Feeling as high as if we’d just successfully knocked off an armored car and gotten away with a large bag of cash, we checked out our purchases and headed for home. SCORE!!! Once home, while putting our refrigerated items away I noticed the tag on the rack read “Rack of Pork”. “Ruh-roh”, to quote Scooby Doo. What the heck is a rack of pork? I’ve walked a few miles on this planet, and I have never heard of this cut before. I mean, it makes sense, piggies have a rib cage, I’ve just never seen it in the meat section anywhere. Setting the package on the counter, we circled it for a bit, like surveying an alien life form emerging from a pod on your front lawn. I don’t have personal knowledge of how this would look, but I can imagine what I’d be doing if one touched down. What do I do with this? As is my answer to every question plaguing me of late, I sat down at my laptop, keyed in “rack of pork recipes” and waited for the magic to begin. I’ve cooked enough to know a poorly constructed recipe from one that sounds promising, so after looking at four or five, I selected one I thought would work, and hit “print”. Yay. What the end result might be, I had not one single clue, but I was up to the challenge.

On Easter Sunday, I made a rub loosely constructed from the recipe I’d selected. I rubbed the rack liberally with Dijon mustard and applied the rub I’d prepared all over all. Whether it would taste good, was still up for debate, but it was looking mighty pretty as I popped it in the oven. Peering at it through the window at the size of the rack, made me think of the littlest member of our clan, Zeppelin, presently wandering through the maze of his two’s. Dinosaurs have caught his attention, and was he standing next to me in my kitchen, I would have told him this was a Brontosaurus roast we were preparing for our Easter feast.

When my kids were little we didn’t see a lot of whole meat cross our table. We made up for this lack in our diet, by regularly attending what we called “whole meat Sunday’s” at my mothers. At the time I was a single mother with two children to provide for, my budget often didn’t allow for expensive cuts of meat. I did my best to get creative with ground meat, chops, and chicken, and pasta was often served, but mum most weeks had whole meat as the main dish for Sunday dinner, and we weren’t shy about taking our place at her table.

When the rack of pork was done, I served it with roasted potatoes, garlicky cooked spinach, and baked apples. It was sooooo good, I cannot tell you. Each rib or chop was huge. I couldn’t eat a whole one by myself, but Dale polished his off leaving only the bone to be disposed of. Yay. Since then I have reheated one third of the frozen leftovers and we have two more meals to do away with. If you ever see this cut and are interested in trying it, I highly recommend it.

So my thoughts for this Monday as a new week unfolds. No matter where you are in life something new always turns up to show you there is much more to explore and many things for your eyes to behold. What an adventure this world is. You never know what’s going to pop up when you least expect it. Have a great day and keep your options open for a new door to peek in through.

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Sleep is not a happy place for me these days for whatever reason. I suppose I could blame this on the pandemic. Why not? Everything these days seems to be blamed on the virus. If I do sleep, my dreams, if I’m lucky enough to achieve that level of deep sleep, are plagued with crazy scenarios and angst filled situations. Last night I was at a doctor’s appointment. There were two men in white coats attending to me, and neither of them were happy with my person. The individual I identified with as being the head cheese, if you will, was an insipid little man who kept rolling his eyes at me when I made a statement as if I was a ridiculous person who had never said a word worthy of paying any attention to. Hmmmm. What, one might ask, is this dream trying to tell me? I put my purse down on the chair next to me and a team of cleaning people rushed into the examining room, whisked up the offending purse, plopped it in my lap, and proceeded to de-lice the entire area around where I was sitting. Thank you? The doctor kept reading aloud out of my chart in almost a whisper. Since I am not a lip reader, I kept saying I couldn’t hear him, triggering another round of eye rolling in both men. Fine. Finally, I determined he was saying I was very ill. According to his version of the story he’d told me this last visit and I hadn’t paid attention. Huh. As I found this a little off putting at 3 a.m., I woke myself up. Lying under the sheets now feeling totally unsettled, I padded into the kitchen and pushed “brew” on the coffee pot. Coffee makes everything better, or at least it does for me. There is something so satisfying in taking that first sip off of your morning cup of freshly brewed beans. It’s like that first bite of an In ‘n Out cheeseburger. That first sip, or that first bite, always seems the most satisfying of the lot.

Love is sort of that way as well, don’t you think? In the beginning so new, so fresh, so full of promise. That golden glow when a couple is first discovering each other. The honeymoon period before there are shared experiences of piles of dirty laundry, overdue bills, hours spent walking the floor with a crying baby, nights hung over a toilet after eating bad Chinese. Just two people totally wrapped up in one another. If we started at the other end of the spectrum when we first met and worked our way back to the beginning most likely there wouldn’t be as many babies to walk the floor with in the middle of the night.

I come to this avenue of thought because Prince Phillip passed away. He and Queen Elizabeth were married for 73 years. I always wonder what the secret is to the extreme longevity of some relationships. I’m sure part of it, probably a large chunk, is compromise, patience, and a certain amount of me time. Now in their case, I would also suppose their union did not suffer breaches from the usual make or break moments we commoners do. The only breeches in their lives covered their behinds while galloping along well manicured polo fields. One of the top reasons couples fight is money, and in their case I feel I can say safely they weren’t sweating their next mortgage payment on Buckingham Palace. Still, whether your coffers are well padded or not, some natural leaks occur in the dam in all marriages, I should think after years and years of waking up to the same person on the pillow next to you. The lives of royals would be totally unique, of course. Queen Elizabeth would not be wiling away her days trying out a new dish soap for grease control, or sewing curtains for the spare room. One could only imagine what life might look like beyond the palace walls when the cameras weren’t rolling or the servants not present in one of the many common rooms. The Queen said he was her rock. As the women in my family were wont to say, “lovely”. Sometimes I got more of a slippery slope of pebbles and loose gravel feel from the men in my life, but that’s for another blog another day.

After all those years losing a spouse would be like using a part of yourself I would imagine. So many shared experiences and memories would have been created together they must feel like they’d lost half of their whole. My kids dad died at thirty-three. I remember at the time thinking, no matter where I went in the world I would never see his face again. Death is such a final note, you have to lean in on your faith in whatever you believe once that door is shut to make have the end of the song make sense. Faith, for each of us is a very personal thing. I try never to ask anyone to walk my walk nor do I opt to walk theirs when it comes to the hereafter so I shall leave it at that.

After Rick died, a friend gifted me with an “Angel Reading”. Basically, an angel reading is a visit with a psychic who tunes into the guides and angels surrounding you. I am very open to all ways of thinking when it comes to this, largely because no one up to this point has come up with the definitive answer to what actually occurs. That being said, I am willing to look at all options lying on the table. I do know for sure after he passed away there were signs everywhere he was still in the neighborhood. Several months after he was gone, a realtor friend of mine took me to look at this wonderful little house for sale in a neighboring town. At the time I was toying with the idea of buying rather than renting, before deciding renting offered me less restrictions. In one room of the house, the owner had decorated the bed and shelves with pillows and pictures with handwritten messages scrawled across them. My friend noticed even before I did, every one was either something Rick regularly said to me and several contained a nickname he used for me “little one”. Both of us just stood there in that room for the longest time amazed. It was as if he had written me a love note. I’ll never forget it. Truly I almost put an offer in on the house because of it. Another odd occurrence during that meeting was the “angel reader” was she mentioned Rick came and sat on the end of our bed. This gave me goosebumps. They began at my toenails and worked their way up to the top of my skull. As I have said ad nauseum, I am very neat. When I make a bed, that bed gets made. A military sergeant could stop by and I bet I’d pass inspection. I was a motel maid for a year in my misspent youth, and I after making twenty beds a day got pretty efficient at it. But, I digress. Anyhow, each day I would make the bed, no wrinkles, no bumps. My grandmother made her bed every morning before relieving herself. She told me it was in case she died while on the toilet, and whoever picked her up for in the meat wagon noticed her covers askew. Again, I’m off to the left here. Each day after I made the bed, an hour or so later, or whenever I went in the room next, I would notice at his end of the bed there would be what I would call a perfect “bum print” on the blanket. I can’t explain it, but I assure you for the first month or so it was there like clockwork, and then one day it wasn’t. It never was there again after that day. Go figure. Perhaps he stayed to make sure I was all right before going on to where he had to go. That being the case or not, it makes me to happy to think it was him checking in one last time.

Quite often partners sharing so many years together pass away close to one another. One departs, and the other literally dies of a broken heart. According to the news stories, the Queen has been preparing for the loss of her husband for some time. I thought I was prepared as well. I knew that I would lose Rick months before the actual day he died. But, you are never really prepared for such a catastrophic occurrence in your life, I don’t think. Perhaps knowing it is coming gives you time to plan, but I’m not sure it eases the pain of losing someone you love when it actually occurs. Death is as much a part of life as breathing and a heartbeat, yet we know so little about it. It is not a subject we here in America are comfortable with, so I shall move on to lighter fare.

To veer off the highway on another subject entirely, I have had my vaccinations and am ready to do a little exploring. The new man in my life at the hails originally from Montana. Born with the wind in my sails, I have been fortunate enough to cross the U.S. and Canada numerous times, but Montana is one state I have never stepped foot in and would love to add to my list of those visited. The big sky country, as it is referred to because it is told the sky seems more blue and more vast when in Montana. Sounds lovely (in the summer), and I am looking forward to seeing it. It would not be for me in the winter. Winters there are brutal and I am done with digging myself out of anything other than a huge plate of curly fries. A road trip is my favorite way to travel. Truth be told I’m a poor cruiser. I don’t like being stuck on a huge ship with nowhere to go but above deck or below, with a group of people I’ve never met, and nothing to do but eat. I prefer to have the freedom road travel provides. It’s wonderfully unburdening to be able to stop whenever the mood strikes you or go wherever the wind moves you. Though I do enjoy flying, when in an airplane all you see is the city below as you ascend and another city when you descend. Otherwise, most of the time the view out the window is clouds, clouds, oh, and did I mention clouds? If I’m in the mood to get somewhere fast, flying is the obvious choice, but at the moment there is nothing pressing getting me to get from point A to point B, so I prefer driving along at whatever speed I choose to drive and getting there whenever I do.

Another mode of transportation I enjoy is going by train. When I was four, my mother and I boarded the Trans-Canada train in Montreal and went west all the way to Vancouver before stepping back off. What a wonderful trip that was. Though very young, I can picture myself kneeling on the plush cushions in the Pullman car, face pressed against the window, watching the glorious vistas of the snow capped Rocky Mountains whizzing by.

At any rate, as you might have noticed I’m all over the map today. Wish that were more literal than figurative, but for now, I shall plan my trip and look forward to finally seeing something beyond whatever lies within a twenty-five mile radius of this house even if only in my unsettled dreams.

The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone. – George Eliot

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What a picture perfect day it is here in Northern California. I would be celebrating the glorious spring weather was it not for the wind rustling through the freshly sprouted tree leaves, distributing a fine layer of dusty golden pollen now covering my freshly washed car. I am an allergy sufferer, so each spring I pay the price for enjoying all the lovely early blooms popping up in my garden, and reveling in the happy dance of the bees hovering over my azalea bush. Last year I went in for a series of skin tests to narrow down what, in fact, was triggering the endless bouts of sneezing and perpetual drip, drip, drip of my nasal passages when April and May roll around on the calendar. When the results were in, it would appear I have checked all the boxes. Cats, check, dogs, check, mold, check, trees, hay, check. Check, check, check and on and on.

The doctor’s first suggestion, one which I have already implemented, was to use air purifiers. I put one in the living room, and the other one is happily humming away in my bedroom. Unfortunately, a full-nature model covering the planet at large isn’t available on the market as yet, so this only alters the indoor environment. Also, he told me to be sure my heater/AC vents are properly dusted, and to replace the filters often. Vacuuming and dusting regularly will help as well, something I already do, and keeping the cat outdoors if possible. Done, done and, um, not done. These suggestions have been a big help, up to to the outdoor cat situation, which simply which isn’t doable. Noticing I ignored the outdoor cat invitation, my doctor took a different tack, this time pointing a finger directly at my cat. He felt it would be better if Boo slept somewhere other than my bed and if I wished to keep a pet, I should keep her out of the bedroom entirely. Right, Dr. M., you tell Boo. She’s pretty sure that’s where she is going to be. As for me, I’m not comfortable sleeping with both doors shut to my room, nor am I inclined to get up twenty times in the wee hours to remove a reluctant feline from the bed. I’m already up three times for other reasons, if you get my drift. I mentioned casually to Boo she might consider using the lovely fleece lined cat bed I purchased for her last winter. I can’t be certain but I’m pretty sure the extended paw I got in response had only one middle claw pointed upward for emphasis. Let’s say I was getting a lot of cattitude. In her defense, this is a standard of behavior we have established over some thirteen years, and neither of us is looking to change it any time soon. The third choice he gave me, which I liked the best of the three, was for me to begin a series of allergy shots. Apparently, these shots can prove very effective in lowering a persons allergic response to irritants. That is, of course, unless I prove allergic to shots, which isn’t entirely off the table. Where do I sign up? I start in two weeks. Have to wait until the Covid shot effects are completely out of my body. So, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, will continue to sleep on the pillow next to me in my new bed, and I will continue to regale her with her much needed belly rubs and brush her eternally molting coat. Life is good.

Aside from the allergies, I have asthma. Essentially I signed up for the whole litter of the breathing spectrum kiddies. I went to pick up my inhaler the other day, my first refill of 2021. $285 lighter, I received my teeny tiny small bag from the pharmacy clerk for my donation and went out in my car to weep in private. My deductible allows for one whopping price tag at the beginning of the year, and this was the one for 2021. Don’t get me started on drug prices. I pay a small fortune for health insurance to fill in the gaps that Medicare doesn’t pay. On top of that, I pay a prescription drug plan costing another third of a Hamilton to cover my medication, and yet still lay out $285 for an inhaler. It is not like this is a face cream where I have a choice on which one I select, or the option to not to select one at all. I need my inhaler to breathe. What do people do who do not have $285 to lay down on the counter? Gets my Irish up.

As I said one can choose or not choose how much to pay for beauty products. My mother, for example, always did her shopping at the Lancome counter at Nordstrom’s. If we were shopping of a day we’d often drop by to pick up her latest batch of high priced beauty products as well as the little gift bag usually handed to her by the copiously fragrant and perfectly put together sales girl at the end of her hefty purchase. You can tell you are in the high rent section of a store when you get a gift bag for buying something at the counter. In my case, I generally get my beauty products at the local drugs store where they charge you $ .10 if you wish to have a bag for your items, and it is plastic not pink or lilac, and doesn’t come with a little fabric tie. What I’m saying here is I could live nicely without any beauty products, though undoubtedly I would live alone, but an inhaler isn’t an opt in or opt out kind of decision I can make. The drug companies have us backed in a corner and they know it. It’s like the oil companies. Unless everyone is going to run out and purchase a Tesla, we are going to continue to have to pay whatever the price is at the pump that the traffic will bear. It would make me nervous I think to have an all electric car. What if you’re driving in the middle of the desert and you can’t find a place to recharge? A bad memory I have is going over the grapevine once in the dead of winter across snow packed highways. I had borrowed a friend’s diesel Mercedes to make the trip as my car was in the shop. At the time diesel wasn’t sold as readily as it is now and I found myself on a steep grade late at night with the gas gauge needle pointed directly at E. Thankfully, a huge amount of commercial trucks travel that particular route so I located a station with a diesel pump before I had to pull over to the side of the road and wait for my extremities to begin to go numb.

Well there’s my hump day hump. I’m done now. Thank you for allowing me to vent. I hope your week is without frustration and running as quietly as a Tesla on a deserted country road (hopefully with a recharge station). Talk soon. Stay safe.

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This week has been hectic. I feel a bit like I’ve been running a marathon and finally crossed the finish line, tired but not beaten. Whew. My mother celebrated a milestone birthday. In deference to the fact she doesn’t like her age revealed, let’s just say she’s not a centurion as yet, but she’s marching steadily in that direction. I am seriously hoping we will be celebrating her 105th birthday one of these days. Since we are both fully vaccinated and past the two week grace period following the second shot, I got to hug her for the first time in a year. Cannot tell you how satisfying that was. Contact with other living creatures is so important to our well being, or at least I know it is for mine.

Even animals need companionship. Last night on the news they featured a story about a stray dog in North Carolina. The dog, a one year old male, had repeatedly sneaked into a Dollar Store when customers opened the door to visit a stuffed purple unicorn. Store employees, exhausting all efforts to deter the animal from entering the store, finally called in Animal Control to arrest the pup for breaking and entering. The officer, after assessing the situation, and the potential criminal, dropped $10 on the counter for the unicorn and took the dog and stuffed back to the animal shelter with her to look for a new home. Sisu, named by shelter employees after a character in Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, has now found his forever home with the condition he and the unicorn be adopted together. Awwwww. I don’t know why, I just love that story.

We all need someone to love. I know my step is a bit lighter these days having someone to do for and go places with again. I am fine by myself and quite able to build a live without a mate, but I have to say I find more satisfaction when I have another being in my life to share things with. Aside from having my family, and a new man in my life, truly I am blessed with such a great group of friends. I wouldn’t trade any one of these beings for anything in the world. Well, except perhaps a lifetime supply of In N Out burgers or one night with Nick Nolte as he looked in the Prince of Tides. Just kidding (well, almost). As you get further along in life, the people who populate your world become far more important and rich than what you possess or what you perceive you need.

Today my new bed is arriving. It is with mixed feelings I say goodbye to the old one. Rick had just bought it when we first met. We spent our first days on that bed and our last days together lying next to one on that mattress. Like all things, its time has come to an end. My back is shaking my hand heartily every day for making this decision, though the cat is far less enthusiastic about it. We had to dismantle the whole bed on Friday night. A young couple was coming Saturday to claim the headboard, foot board, and frame. The mattresses had to be wrapped in plastic so the delivery men would take them, and the whole frame needed a general sprucing up, including a good dusting and some paint touch up. What’s old to me, became new and fresh in these young people’s eyes. They were so happy to get the bed and appreciative it was in good condition. I have peace knowing though the mattress will be heading wherever old mattresses end their days, the frame will have a new life somewhere else creating new memories. Boo, the Queen of cats, made a total scene once was everything was disassembled. The cat’s days are spent either with her furry head bent over her bowl, her paws busy covering up whatever new deposit she has left for me in her litter box, or perched atop three pillows like the Princess and the Pea on the right side of my bed. Having her nest temporarily dismantled was cause for much feline alarm and anxiety. Lacking access to kitty Prozac, yesterday I actually had to reassemble the mattresses on the floor so she could wipe the sad, pitiful look off her cat face and settle in again until the new bed arrived. It is becoming patently obvious who’s running this show of late.

So the delivery men just left. What a difference paring down to a queen size bed has made in my room. Wow. I can actually get to both sides of the bed with room to spare to change the sheets without hanging with my knees over a trapeze to pull the sheet over the side by the wall. Yay. I bagged up all my king size sheets on Saturday and ran an ad on Facebook reading “Five Sets of Beautiful King Size Sheets – Free”. Before I pushed “publish” I had ten people in the queue. Goodness. One lady asked if I delivered. When I asked where she lived, it turned out to be a 45 minute drive from here each way. Now, let me answer that in the kindest way possible. I am giving you a bag full of really nice linens at no cost to you except whatever gas it requires to get here. The simplest answer would be, “No, I do not deliver.” I never mind doing something extra for someone but this lady simply told me she had a busy life and simply didn’t have time to run about collecting sheets. Okay. I too have a busy life and don’t have time to run around delivering sheets which is why I posted an ad which read “Whoever wants these must pick them up”. Instead a lovely young girl with little ones in tow showed up. She thanked me profusely and said she could really use them so I was glad she was the one to take them home.

Also over the weekend my new coffee table was delivered. I had two poufs in front of my couch for two and a half years. They were very nice and visually interesting but I was getting tired of restuffing and cleaning them constantly. Since I was already sinking into the debt pool with the bed, why not submerge completely and add a coffee table to the canoe? The poufs were in great condition and fairly large. I have found if you put free on almost anything and place it by the curb it grows legs and disappears fairly quickly. I had an old love seat when I married to my ex-husband. We kept it in the garage so he could sit down out there when he was working in the shop area. As you might imagine, it picked up a few stains around all that grease and the rusty tools. When we decided it was time for it to go I suggested we move it to the curb and put a sign on it reading “Take Me”. My husband said no one would want that old thing so we made a wager. $10 to me if it was gone by sundown and $10 to him if it was not. Shortly after moving it to the curb, we went to the market leaving the love seat there with it’s sign. By the time we returned there was no love seat just another sign reading “Thank You”. Nice. Within ten minutes of putting the poufs by the curb with a similar sign and a heart a Jeep went by, applied the brakes, backed up and snatched the two poufs and they disappeared down the road. Yay. Life, as they say, is good.

The coffee table looks great. Buying it sight unseen was a little iffy, but it turned out to be the perfect choice. Not having bought it from a large furniture store, it was up to us to assemble it. At one point we realized we had gotten to the fourth and last leg and done it wrong. This meant going back and undoing all the work we’d done on the first three. I rarely imbibe anymore, but I have to admit when that realization sunk in, my thoughts immediately went to a margarita in an icy glass. Darn, darn, darn. Good news, we really tightened the screws as we went so it was such a pain to undo. By the time we were done, I couldn’t look at that piece of furniture for a while without wanting to set a match to it. Now, however, I love it. All good.

So, my house is set. The delivery men had quite a time getting the bed in. This house was built in the 1930’s. Like many of that era, it has small rooms with hard angles. One of the guys stepped in the cat litter box, fortunately pristine, and dumped it all over the floor. The other one knocked down two pictures trying to get the box spring around the corner. That’s why they hire young strong men to deliver this stuff. Thank God they assembled it all before they left. Didn’t think I had another afternoon of that in me for this week.

Well, I’ll quit for now. Have a great day! Vaccinations, one step closer to freedom and getting our lives back. All my Covid symptoms that had been hanging on have dissipated since getting my second shot. So thankful.

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Ladies, have you looked at the clothes showing up on the racks in the stores for spring? Good Lord. There were a lot of blowsy cuts, I noticed. Most probably this is due to the added girth most if us have welcomed aboard since the pandemic started, and the designers wanted to leave room for the spreadage (I know that isn’t a word, but I like it). They are showing a lot of cottony ruffled bordered numbers with small prints. I call them “The Laura Ingalls Wilder Collection”. On a small framed person like myself with long thin legs these sort of dresses look like a tea cozy draped over a pair of chopsticks. Ach. Not that I need any clothes, mind you. The pandemic has given me ample opportunity for doing a little shopping on line. Next week, I have promised myself I’m going to begin the process of sorting and eliminating items either never wear or simply don’t like, and selling them or tossing them in the donate bin.

One year when living in my old house, I purged my closets and drawers making enough off what I sold to cover redoing my deck. It’s surprising how much fat is tucked away in drawers, storage units, sheds and closets. When I pared down my mother’s things after moving her into assisted living, I could not believe what I found. In one zippered hanging bag I found a mink stole with two minks still clinging to it. Their expressions were as horrified as mine was. Ach. Glad you don’t see much of that anymore. Amazingly, that coat sold for over a hundred dollars to someone who wanted it for a Halloween costume. I have a friend who has supported two storage units for ten years. The units are full of stuff she never uses or even looks at. At over $200 a month that adds up. When I was selling my last house, I packed up one half of what was in it in anticipation of moving. During the six months it took to get the house ready for sale, and sell it, I never missed one thing packed away in those boxes. That spoke volumes to me. When I moved in here to a much smaller space, I immediately had a huge yard sale relieving myself of half of what I’d stored. What didn’t sell, I donated. The sale provided me with a little mad money for my new digs, while lightening my load. Sadly, since then, the inevitable migration of new belongings has begun once again and is starting to encroach on my territory. Where I had tons of storage space after unloading my excess household goods, somehow I have managed to refill the gaps with new stuff I didn’t need. Sigh.

It has been my week in the universe it seems for buying things. First, my land line started making a sound like I was squishing tin foil while speaking on it. Normally, I would defer to my cell phone, but it’s not working either. I finally located the “phone guy” at the “phone store” and he reconfirmed my cell phone was terminal and it was time to put it out of it’s misery. Swell. Sooooo, I upgraded two models. Even at that, the model I chose was probably obsolete by the time I signed the credit card receipt. I was told it was $50 down plus monthly payments. Okie. When I got the credit card receipt it read $100. When I asked about the discrepancy, I was told the extra $50 was for taxes, processing, shipping, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The et ceteras will get you every time. Why don’t they say $100 down? They don’t, because you probably wouldn’t buy the phone. Precisely the same reason they post signs for $19.99 rather than $20.00. Sounds so much less but that penny isn’t going to buy you much. I said fine. What is one to do? At any rate, it’s on it’s way. Meanwhile, I am sending up smoke signals in the front yard if I need to get a message to someone. Next, I called my phone provider to inquire about my land line. The representative at the phone company said it was probably a line problem. If it is a line problem, they pay for it. If not, the customer does. (That would be me.) I could sign up for a maintenance agreement for a mere blah blah blah monthly. Could I? Ahhhhh, I miss the good old days when you went to the phone company and picked out a phone, took it home, plugged it in, and if anything went wrong they either sent a repairman or gave you a new phone. Life was good. The more complicated the technology, the more expensive either the repair or replacement becomes. The rep also said to check the line they would have to shut down my phones which most likely would result in the need to reset all my TV’s, computers etc. connected to the phone line. I’m pretty sure that is a nightmare waiting to happen. Guess I can tolerate a little tinfoil for a bit.

Putting the phone situation to bed, I sat down at my laptop. I was told recently it’s lifetime is also getting shorter, and I would have to invest in a new one within the next year or so. Okie. The sound system has suddenly developed a hiccough where it comes and goes at random. Each week I have a Zoom meeting and this week I missed easily half of it. The other participants were tiring of me saying “could you repeat that please”. Sorry. Do you suppose the angels are sending me a message? That’s what someone suggested to me. Who am I to say? It is odd every one of my electronic devices is having sound problems. Maybe I’m supposed to be hearing something I’m missing? If so, I’M LISTENING. Oh, too loud? I’m listening.

I also spent some sleepless nights (no pun intended) agonizing over whether to dish out some cold cash for a new bed, finally caving (because I was literally) I dug out my credit card and wiped off the mold. Ouch. Rick and I bought this bed when we were first together. The mattress has never been replaced and Boo and I are having trouble finding our happy place at night to drift off to sleep. It’s a California King, which is a lot of bed for one small human and a chubby feline. Also, my bedroom is too small for a bed of this size so I had to push it against one wall to make it work. I am worn out doing my aerobics routine every week in order to change the sheets. There is an odd sadness in me at the thought of seeing the bed go out the front door. Another piece of the puzzle of my old life being replaced by something new, but it feels right. Some nights I feel as if I am sinking into the great abyss when I turn over on my side, and my back is starting to complain when I have to climb out of it in the morning. Time for a change. I asked if the delivery guys would take the old mattress. I was told they would if it had no stains and was in a bag. A bag? What, I have to wrap it? Is one of them having a birthday? Someone should have told me. I don’t think I have any tissue that size. Determining there were no stains, I went to Amazon. God bless good old Amazon. I believe if I searched for flea powder specific to Koala bears, I would find it on Prime. Finding what I needed, I ordered the appropriate bags. I suppose I could have opted to take it to the dump myself but I don’t think it would have squeezed into the back seat of my Fusion. The problem with buying a smaller bed, I bought a queen, is now I have gorgeous sheets and linens that don’t fit the new bed. Again, dusting off my credit card, I purchased all the accoutrements necessary for a queen size bed and signed my life away. Ah well. It’s going to be great. That’s me, telling me, I’m okay.

Update, my new phone just showed up on my front porch. The phone rep spent some time relating explicit instructions in so far that they would not deliver the phone due to it’s value (I have paid less for cars), if I wasn’t here to sign for it. Yet, miracle of miracles, there it was sitting on my front porch ripe for picking. Glad I was home. I would have been seriously irritated to find a notice of delivery in my email with no phone in sight. Also, I paid extra to have it delivered quickly, so there’s that.

Sometimes life keeps sending messages your way and you have to clean the wax out of your ears to catch them. What the messages are in this case, I have no single clue, but I am listening intently. I don’t mean to be impolite, but I wish they would speak up. I had my hearing checked recently and the results weren’t pretty. Years of earphones jammed in my ears transcribing letters, apparently did not serve me well. It’s not like I’m deaf, but certain tones are definitely fading. I have one dear friend who is in the habit of beginning what she is saying in a loud and clear voice, then dropping down to what I call her “conspiratorial tone” at the end of her sentences. I always find myself looking around in case the FBI is in the vicinity and we’re under surveillance. We have had discussions about this, because I find myself saying “pardon me” on a fairly regular basis with her, but it’s pretty much embedded in her behavior patterns at this point. She’s a generous word sharer like myself, so like Rick used to say when I was chatting away in the car, “if I miss a word or two, the earth is not going to stop rotating”. Thank you Sweetie.

Tomorrow, I get my second Covid vaccination. I hope it is kinder to me than the first, which created two rough days of symptoms before easing up. In two weeks I can hug my grandchildren, so I will show up for the appointment and deal with whatever comes with it. Yay.

People are having mask burning parties. I’m a little more cautious. It still surprises me we continue to make mask wearing a political issue rather than a medical issue. You’d think they were asking us to pull on a suit if armor before leaving the house rather a small piece of fabric. I just roll with the waves these days. This will pass and life will return to normal, or whatever normal is.

Have a great Sunday. Beautiful here so definitely a walk in my future. Thank you again for signing up and for those of you who tune in regularly.

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As I mentioned several posts back I’ve embarked on a new relationship. I was neither looking for one, nor really prepared for one, when one knocked on my door. Life really does consist of the times events are actually happening, and the gaps in between when you are waiting for events to happen.

I have a single friend who said to me the other day. “You are lucky to have found someone. I have been looking for ten years without any decent nibbles. Most men our age want younger women.” She then quoted an old saying, so not true, about women over forty being less likely to get married than than being killed by terrorists. What an awful, and totally sexist, statement. It surprised me it was coming from female lips. The problem is, I think, a lot of women have swallowed that hook. It implies, in short, women have less value after a certain age. I could not disagree more, and this not because I rank among their numbers. Most of the wisdom I have gained over the years has been handed down to me from women far senior to myself. Women who have already immersed themselves in their lives, dived in and tested the waters along the way, and in many cases made the current smoother for the ladies coming up behind them. When I was twenty there is no denying my skin was pristine, my eyes shinier, my body tighter and my bones more agile but I didn’t know a donut from a hot rock when it came to living my life. I also don’t feel “lucky” to have found someone. I feel am a lady with something to offer who is deserving of sharing time with someone who treats me well. Conversely, in defense of the gentlemen, I don’t like when I hear ladies say, “all the good men are already taken” when speaking of older men in the dating pool. Like everything from picking the best apples in the barrel to deciding what house to live in or where to invest your money, you have to sort through some unsuitable choices before deciding on ones which fits your needs best.

My new partner and I share a lot of similar beliefs, including a like spiritual path and similar political leanings. Both of us also lean toward silly, which I really enjoy. Someone too serious about life would never fit in well with my personality or lifestyle. I believe the younger version of myself concentrated more on surface attraction rather than delving into common interests or goals. One thing paramount to me at this time in my life, is peaceful coexistence. I have participated in my share of contentious relationships. Looking back on these pairings, I consider them a learning curve. From each union, I took with me newly gained knowledge about what I was willing to allow in a relationship and what I was not, what fit and what didn’t. These were not lessons I always learned on the first go round, I’m nothing if not hard headed, but eventually even my hard head was able to absorb what was and what was not productive to helping me flourish.

Trust is not a strong suit of mine. People are disappointing, and the people in my life sometimes couldn’t or wouldn’t keep my trust as promised. Lessons can be both negative and positive. I have found that each negative stone I have loaded into my personal baggage was best dealt with then left by the wayside. If I continued to harbor them, the burden became too weighty to carry on with lightness in my step. By the time we have achieved a certain age, most of us have pasts to contend with. Some people, of course, are more fortunate. Couples, for example, who meet their perfect match in high school, bear and raise lovely children with them, and usher in the unknowns of old age hand in hand rank among the luckiest in my book. For many of us, this is not the story we will tell. Being open to new love means leaving old wounds behind and embracing what is happening now.

One thing I know for sure, marriage is definitely not in my future. I have already run that flag up the flagpole and now am focused more on a companion or partner without benefit of shared paperwork. I used to think I had one ceremony, one partner in my future. I was young and the world seemed wide open in front of me with all the possibilities it has to offer. When I said “I do” the first time I thought that would be the last but certainly that was not to be. Each person creates their own story line. My grandmother had one love. When my grandfather died before his time, she chose to remain alone for the next thirty-five years. Conversely, my mother remarried for the fourth time in her eighties and was blissfully happy for ten years. Our perspectives and dreams have to morph and reshape as life transpires. Three years ago I did not imagine my world without Rick, yet here it is, and here I am.

So, I embark on a new adventure. I am open to exploring how this new piece of my quilt blends in with those already sewn in place . For me it is important to avoid comparisons, for that can be both self-defeating and frustrating. This is a new chapter not a continuation of the previous one and should be given its own consideration. I look forward to seeing what lies around the next bend in the road.

Have a lovely weekend. I have my corned beef in the fridge waiting to hop in the pot with the carrots and red potatoes. I am celebrating St. Patty’s Day a bit early this year as I get my second Covid shot on Monday and don’t know what to expect as a result.

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Before I go to bed, I make a habit of making sure my sink is empty and my house is picked up. Since I live alone, this ritual may seem unnecessary. Let’s face it Boo, the Queen of Cats, certainly doesn’t give a rats behind (a little cat humor) whether I’ve left a nasty old avocado dish to ferment on the counter or discarded a pair of pants on the floor by my bed. My daughter asked me why I’m so diligent about this ritual. “Who’s going to see it”, she asks? I explained, should I face a health challenge in the middle of the night and find myself in need of rescue, I don’t want one of those ridiculously attractive fireman looking around my house as he’s checking my blood pressure and labeling me a total slob. Have you seen the paramedics they send to your house if you dial 911? Perfect specimens of men standing over you when you look absolutely your worst. Hair hanging in your face, teeth in the jar, and vomit on your shirt. Even Christie Brinkley couldn’t carry that look off. The last time I had need of EMT’s, they sent six. Must have been a slow night. As they walked in the door, each one was (if possible) better looking than last. I wonder if there’s a section on the application for the fire department that says, Check here if you’re hot. If this box is not checked please return application to front desk. We’ll be in touch. Not.

Another reason to keep things tidy is in the event I might not make it, I wouldn’t want people rummaging through my belongings exchanging comments like “Wow, how ever did she live like this?”, or “my pygmy hog has better hygiene.” Nope, clean sinks and underwear all the way for me, just like my grandma told me.

I come to this line of thinking because the weather lately has turned almost springlike. Glorious balmy days have prompted me to get outside and walk every morning. Each day, I vary my route. One, because I get bored easily, and two to provide myself with a different level of cardio depending on the uphill climbs along the way. Yesterday, I opted for a route I had not taken before. Because my shin splints are acting up, I decided to take a less strenuous stroll along the ravine. The sidewalk wound me past a house situated on a cliff about a half a mile from where I live. As the years have passed, I’ve noticed this house sink into a state of shabby disrepair. It’s a shame really, because the lot itself is perched high on an overlook, most likely providing the occupants a panoramic view of the valley floor below stretching all the way to the Sierra Nevadas. The house, though not going to make the next cover of House Beautiful, is not too bad. What curb appeal it does possess, however, is completely eclipsed by the massive accumulation of “junk” in the side yard, creating an eyesore. Beyond the dilapidated fence, which looks as if someone may have backed over it, the filthy roofs of several well-used trailers are clearly visible alongside piles of plywood and debris. I’m surprised somebody hasn’t complained, as the neighborhood around it is composed of well manicured homes bordering on all sides. Something must have happened recently, because as I approached, I could see a crew of workers dressed in what looked like haz-mat gear moving in and out of the front door carrying household items. A rusted toilet and a beat up aluminum sink sat by the mailbox next to a sign reading “FREE”. Trust me, from the looks of them they were still overcharging. Walking towards the house I could see one of the crew members leaning on a broom obviously taking a break. Nodding in my direction, he said,”good morning”. I returned his, “good morning” and raised him a “looks like you’ve got your hands full”. He seemed to view this statement as opening the door for further conversation. I stopped for a moment, and “Ben”, as he’d introduced himself launched into a tirade about the project at hand. Before I knew it, he was sharing an outpouring of information about the residents. The people inside he told me had been elderly. The husband passed away, and the family had fast forwarded the matriarch of the family to an assisted living facility. Apparently, there hadn’t been much contact between family members over the past few years. Describing in great detail the mess they were dealing with, he said the inside of the house was in deplorable condition. Eager to not leave out a detail, and perhaps not looking forward to returning to his job, he went on to say there had been multiple animals inside who had left deposits all over the floor and carpeting. The smell, as one might imagine, was unbelievably rank. The kitchen, he said, was the worst, literally buried under mountains of dishes covered with rotting food and flies which probably meant maggots. Ewwww. As he plowed on he told me all the toilets were clogged. The look on his face indicated he found the whole situation totally disgusting. Already gleaning more WAY more information than I needed. Keeping up my end of the conversation by nodding my head at the appropriate pauses, and saying “huh” and “hmmmm” when called for, I hesitated before inquiring as to where the residents had been going to the bathroom in the absence of usable toilets. Some things are better left to the imagination. Another crew member emerged from the house telling Ben they had uncovered roaches in every cupboard, and every box of food in the cupboard as well as several carcusses of dead mice. Thanking them for all the information I really hadn’t needed, I said my goodbyes and continued on down the road. Suddenly, I felt sad for those two people, though I didn’t know them at all. Ben had somehow had opened a window into their lives and I felt like I had peeked in uninvited. Walking gives you time to cogitate and clear your head. Unfortunately, my brain was now preoccupied with roaches and clogged toilets. Got me to thinking though. What would people be saying about me after I’m gone? “That Susie, she surely had a clean sink and her banana bread,well, it was absolutely out of this world.” Not sure I want to be a fly on the wall for that program, and I surely don’t want old Ben leaning on broom in front of my house.


Lately, I’ve been taking a little inventory of my life. Perhaps it’s that I have more time alone, or could simply be I’ve reached a place in my life where I’ve climbed to the top of the mountain and am now looking at what is to be found on the downhill side of the slope. Whatever it is that motivates me to do an assessment, it’s allowed me to take a long look at where I’ve been, and give some serious thought as to where I’m going. I don’t linger long in the past. It is part of the whole of me and has contributed to who I am as a person today, but as my therapist likes to say, “Don’t look in the rear view mirror. That is not the direction you are going.”After Rick passed, hard to believe it’s going on three years, I had only enough energy to look at the day I was in with little reserve left for the tomorrows around the bend. Grief cores you out in a way, and allows you to rebuild from the foundation up. Life is so much different now then it was. Not worse, nor is it better, it is just different. Change always precipitates thoughtfulness, at least it does in me. Now that there is a new relationship in my life, something I didn’t expect nor was I looking for, this is something to be factored into my future plans as well. Possibilities remain once our masks are retired for new and exciting adventures. Always there will be new challenges, but also there will be new adventures, and new things to learn and new people to learn them from, no matter what stage you are entering in your life. Today, I will simply be thankful for the day I have, the flowers blooming beyond my window, the wind in the trees, the crazy Boo cat curled up at my feet, and my loved ones. Those are my riches.

When I look at just the last year and what has transpired, I can’t help but think you never really know what is coming around the next corner. You might win the lottery, fall in a sink hole, discover a cure for cancer, find yourself surviving (hopefully) a pandemic of epic proportions, be in the middle of a massive winter storm in Texas, welcome a new life into the world, or send one on its way. Perhaps the most intriguing part of living is the unknowing. I realize that is probably not the correct word, but I think it is the appropriate one. We don’t know, yet we have hope, and prayer, and wishful thinking, and believing in whatever we believe in. The indomitable human spirit shines bright even on the darkest of nights. I’ve seen it refuse to be extinguished so many times, when I had trouble still believing it existed.

We lost another member of our tribe this week. I attended my first virtual service, A Celebration of Life. Though not there in the person, it was lovely. At the end they released doves into the air, so spiritually moving. You are here then you are gone, and the cycle of life continues. Pieces and parts of you remain, though, in each and every person you touched. Perhaps words will be my legacy. God knows, if anyone is waiting to inherit my fortune, they will be sorely disappointed, and need not to quit their day job anytime soon. So goodbye, dear Janice. See you on the other side. Thank you for the beautiful grandchildren you have left behind. I promise I will cherish them.

Heavy thoughts for a Friday. Have a wonderful weekend. Remember each day is a precious gift, don’t waste it making bad karma or doing hurtful things. Trust me it takes years to erase the board once it is written on.

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