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Archive for the ‘starting over’ Category

Thursday was hair day for me. I drove up to Grass Valley, my old stomping grounds, where my hairdresser is located. As a barber shop provides sanctuary for men, a beauty salon offers the same respite for women. Much is discussed under a salon roof during the couple of hours we ladies spend there. After my color was applied, I was seated in a room with four other customers, all in various stages of “cooking” their roots. The woman directly across from me, had enough tin foil in her hair to provide rib coverage for a hometown Texas barbecue. As women will, whether acquainted or not, we began to speak amongst ourselves. The young woman to my left, I’d say in her late twenties, told us she was on a dating site. The week before she had gone on her 46th “first date”. The 46th man standing, had asked her to a movie. Personally, if trying to find out if I like someone, a movie would be my last choice if venue. Unless you are one of those annoying people who talks during the entire show, how are you going to learn anything about the person seated next to you? At any rate, plans were made for them to meet at a shopping center then drive together to a local theater. Five minutes before the date was to begin, she got a text from him asking if she would mind if several of his family members joined them. Already in the parking lot where they were to meet, she replied, “I guess that’s fine”. As it turned out, half his immediate family and some of his extended family were included in the invitation. His mother, several cousins, a young nephew, a younger sister, and a brother and his date were all waiting in front of the theater for them when they got there. In the middle of the movie, a text arrived on her date’s phone ostensibly from his maternal grandfather. The text, so it seemed, was to advise him his grandmother was having palpitations and had been rushed to a local ER. Whispering all this in her ear, he added his grandpa was ninety and couldn’t manage this by himself, so he had to go to the hospital to help. Before leaving, he asked his brother to get her back to her car. Really? Several questions come to mind here. One, why is his mother still eating her popcorn while her mother is in dire straits at the ER, and secondly, how amazing is it his 90 year old grandfather knew how to text? Just saying. To my mind, Mom might have been the one to leave, since her son was on a DATE. Seemed a bit dicey to me, but then I’m older and have more battle scars to my credit. Feeling totally like the fifth wheel, this poor girl had to wait til the movie was over, and then be driven back to her car by strangers. Wow. I would have called Uber. According to her, this wasn’t even her worst date. That being true, I might just get a puppy and leave it at that. She went on to say, she also had a stalker in the mix, someone she called “the groper”, several scammers and three different guys who had simply portrayed themselves as other than what they were. Check please.

This got me to thinking about the men I’ve met so far. The first man is a lovely man I like to call, “the thinker”. Very deep well this human being. I find him intellectually stimulating and have learned a great deal communicating with him mainly via text. I’ve met him only once for a cup of coffee, but we have formed a friendship through texts which I find I’ve come to look forward to every day. He is coming to dinner soon, so we will see what lies hidden behind that door. Whether or not I form a lasting bond with him remains in the air, but as I say often, you take something away from every encounter you have. Each person, like seasoning in a savory stew, adds a little flavor to the pot. Sometimes it’s too much salt, and other times it enhances the taste. Even a woman at the check out counter at the market who shares a recipe with you while paying for her groceries, or gives you the name of an odor free cat litter, leaves you with new information to take along with you on your journey.

After the thinker, came “the tinker”. A lovely man, definitely old school. He spends much time refurbishing and reselling items he picks up at yard sales and local auctions. I find him kind, thoughtful, entertaining, and very resourceful. Not a person to sit at home waiting for life to happen to him. I’m not sure he’s a love match, if you will, but he is an extremely nice person to spend the day with. Sometimes that is enough, for that day at least.

Then “the head shrinker” appeared on the horizon. A psychologist, by trade, he possibly needed one to talk to one as well. This man didn’t seem to know from one minute to next what his right foot or his left foot were doing. We met twice. The first time was over a cup of coffee when he mentioned he liked the freedom to throw his clothes all over the floor and live with wild abandon now he was living alone. After that revelation, he went to say living alone provided him the space to be himself. Another potential partner who made me question why, if they are so happy living unencumbered, they take the time to sign up to on a dating site to meet someone to burden themselves with? So curious. On our second date, which was dinner, over dessert he said he had been dating someone for nearly a year who professed to be in love with him. Assuring me the feelings were not reciprocal, he went on to say didn’t want to hurt her so didn’t want to break up with her. First, I don’t want to be the one who caused another woman pain. Second, what? Again, check please. Oh my.

The gentleman in who’s company I spent the most time, would be “the stinker”. The stinker and I actually shared a definite connection. Unfortunately, however, our political and ideological leanings were polar opposites of each other. As much as I hoped we could simply agree to disagree, after a while it leaned far heavier towards disagreeing. Fighting my way through my remaining years would not be something I would look forward to. Too bad, because like myself, he liked to spend time in the kitchen, and we both shared a slightly offbeat and quirky way of looking at life. Those definite core differences, however, would not be overlooked. Eventually, it became clear we would have significant trouble blending our worlds. Our families, and many of our friends, share our way of thinking. In the end, it was better to finish before we started. I’m not viewing this as a regret in any way, because I have taken from that relationship the happy knowledge romance is still possible for me. Also, lesson learned here, find out which side a potential man’s allegiances lie and how deeply they influence him before accepting his invitation to dinner. In today’s volatile political arena, it can make a difference.

Then there was “the winker”. This guy never met a lady he didn’t appreciate. Kept calling me “baby” or “sugar babe”. Uh-uh. Only my mother was entitled to use baby as an endearment, and not even the Queen is entitled to call me sugar babe. I have been sweetie, honey, babe and honey bun over the years. You have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. Also, I was married to a winker back in the 80’s. The only person happy in that relationship, is the winker himself. Next.

Lastly, I met “the drinker” for a cocktail this past week. I should have taken note he owned three bars when he was in the Bay Area. Though a very nice man in many ways, and easy to talk to, I could see by the third cocktail arriving at our table in an hour and a half, drinking was something very much a part of his fabric. This, and smoking, are deal breakers for me. I have watched alcohol destroy people I loved and two men die of lung cancer. Just not on my acceptable habits list. Social drinking is fine. I enjoy an adult beverage here and there myself, but not habitual drinking.

So, all I need now is a tattoo artist who I could call “the inker”, or a well digger who I could call “the sinker” and I’d be almost through the ink words.

While in the beauty parlor, and on the subject of dating sites, the pictures the men were posting became a lively topic of conversation. Seriously, gentlemen, in the kindest way, you need to step it up just a tad. Some of the profile photos look like recent D.U.I. shots fresh off the police blotter. In others you see a guy wearing the old plaid shirt with the mustard stain his wife told him to put in the donate bin, or half his face might be missing. Others are are so pixelated, you can’t see the image at all, making you wonder if that is the point. If you want the fish to bite, you have to put out more tantalizing bait. I’m just saying.

So that’s my dating log for today. My belief if is “if you don’t try, you don’t get”. I would prefer to put myself out in the world to see if my prince awaits and have a misstep or two, than to have never made the effort. These men are to a man very nice people in their own right. I like to think I am a nice person in mine. Because we are nice people, does not make us a romantic fit for one another. Finding a soul or love connection that is real and lasting is a big endeavor. Some people never find it. My pheromones are in the wind. The quest continues. Wish me luck.

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Thursday was my fourth day on my new job. I haven’t actually done anything thus far but sit and watch an endless stream of videos on memory care issues, state guidelines, fire safety, and general elder care concerns. Though interesting material, eight hours straight sitting in an uncomfortable chair staring at a computer screen is positively mind numbing. On entering the fifth hour on Thursday, I was beginning to question if a person could actually become legally insane while doing something of this nature? Were there studies? Should I explore this when I go home and decide whether or not it is safe to return to work? OMG.

The grounds of the assisted living facility I am working in, I have to say, are lovely. Great care and attention seems to have been given to providing the residents nice surroundings in which to spend their twilight years. I found a shady spot with chairs and a table where I could eat my lunch, then took a quick walk before heading back in for the second half of my video torture for the day. The room where my computer was set up I shared with a gentleman named Brian. Brian carried on mundane snippets of conversation with me as he popped in and out of the office He reminded me of a jack in the box exploding up and down in it’s container. Inactivity makes me tired, as does a big meal. When home, I often close my eyes (I call it resting them) for a few minutes after lunch just to rejuvenate the working parts. Sitting mesmerized in front of the computer screen, old habits must have kicked in. Before I knew it, Brian was nudging me gently whispering, “Susie, you’re asleep”. “What, me”? Glad he found me before I’d face planted into the keyboard and created a scene. If my friends were here they would tell you I can sleep anywhere if tired enough. It’s my super power. I’m sure this is not reassuring to those drivers sharing the road with me, but honestly if I get that tired while driving, I will pull over and grab a few winks. Never want to prove a danger to myself or others. I recall when Star Wars first came to the theaters (I know, ancient history). I went to a showing with my then boyfriend. We had been water skiing the whole weekend and I was both sunburned and exhausted. Now, Star Wars was loud even by indoor theater standards. In spite of the noise factor, I managed to sleep quietly through about two-thirds of it. Had to see it a second time to see what all the hoopla was about.

After my day was done at work, I came home, answered a few phone calls, and took a long walk. Sitting for long periods of time is not easy for a “hummingbird” personality like myself. Sitting has always been hard for me. Rick used to get annoyed with me bouncing up and down out of my chair when we were watching a movie or taking in a 49er’s game. Sorry, I came into this world with this impossible metabolism and the girl was just born to run. One of the phone calls was from a friend of mine who was coming to dinner on Saturday. On hearing his voice, I was pretty sure I didn’t need to take the hamburger out of the freezer. Turns out, he tested positive for COVID. That pesky little bug simply isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He’s been shot and boosted, and HAD the virus, and yet here he was again down for the count. Discouraging.

Friday I spent relaxing, actually I devoted the whole day to it. I finished a book I’ve been reading since the beginning of the year, cooked something yummy for dinner, and settled in with Boo, the Queen of Cats, for a movie and some long awaited cuddling. All in all, it was a very non-productive and pleasant way to spend the day. The movie I chose, was one I’ve seen before. It’s a thriller with Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman called “Kiss the Girls”. Why on earth I chose that for an evening in the house alone escapes me. I ended up watching parts of it through the gaps in my fingers. There must be part of me that enjoys being scared. The book I finished was penned by Dean Koontz, also known for his weird and unsettling stories, so I had a lot to think about before turning off the light. Amazingly, I still managed to sleep most of the night without a weapon under my pillow, nor entertaining any boogey men in my dreams.

So today I am meeting someone new for coffee. This really has been an adventure into the over sixty dating scene over the past few months. I’m not in any kind of hurry to brew something in the pot, simply interested in exploring the different varieties on the shelves, and seeing what this is all about. Someone asked me if I got nervous meeting someone new. Not really. Maybe a small butterfly or two, but I am a fairly outgoing person, so conversation comes easily to me. No one who has moved 39 times and held as many temp jobs as I have, can be too hesitant about finding themselves in an unfamiliar situation. After a while, you get used to it and it becomes the norm rather than the exception. The biggest thing I am looking for is a “connection”. I have met several men who I enjoy as friends, and the one gentleman I shared time with the beginning of the year with different political ideologies, but I mean a real soul connection. If I can’t find that, then it is Boo and I and my lovely circle of friends going forward.

This morning will either be an enjoyable cup of coffee or an uncomfortable hour of stilted conversation. I’m going for the former. The jury remains out on this one as yet. I will bring updates when next I sit down at the computer to write. I have a friend who believes our lives are all about the experience. Makes sense to me. I think often about the numerologist who read my numbers back when I was thirty-five. He told me I had a really complicated and interesting life. My numbers, calculated by him according to when I was born, where, or whatever, told him I would basically recreate myself every decade. Looking back, much of which he spoke to me about has transpired. Here I am once again laying the bricks on the foundation of a different life for myself. What a journey it has been up until now, and if my intuition serves me, there is still much to tell waiting in a shroud of fog around the bend in the road.

Update. I made it through two hours of very pleasant conversation with my new friend. He was nice and interesting, but we had as many things in common as those we did not. For example, he’s a diving instructor, not flying but of the scuba variety. Now I love, love, love the water. Along with that love of water, I harbor a claustrophobic nature and a terror of being locked inside any area I can’t easily escape. We all have our little nicks in our armor. The thought to me of being hundreds of feet under the surface of the ocean with a mask covering my face is mind warping. Hmmmmm. Next, and he’s not the first male to say this to me, he spent some time letting me know he is VERY independent, doesn’t need anyone to take care of him, likes his space (a lot of space apparently), and is looking more for a traveling companion because he doesn’t like taking road trips alone. That being the case, I wanted tot suggest going to the local animal rescue and picking up an amiable golden lab. Why, one wonders, sign up on a site who’s sole goal is matching people to one another, if you prefer being alone? The logic here baffles me. That being said, he was a lovely person, if not one I choose to get to know any better. Again, about the experience and not the destination for the time being.

So, the quest continues. I am not in a hurry, as I said earlier, I shall simply hand the man my ticket and enjoy the ride.

Take the day off today. It is glorious sometimes to just abandon the to-do lists, leave the vacuum in the closet, stay in your pj’s and fuzzy socks and just be for a while. Rejuventating.

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So, I’m adding Dog Wrangler to my list of qualifications on my resume. The new man in my life has a lovely Labrador retriever, blonde in color. Some time back, the dog enjoyed a tryst with a wolf red retriever that produced eight little puppies, two blondes, and six reds. So cute. When first born, they were just so sweet to watch. Innocent little beings with closed eyes, who ate, slept, and pooped their way through their days. However, like all beings, puppies do not remain little forever. Now, entering their sixth week, their eyes are wide open and they are busy, busy, busy, little bees. They are only sleeping when they have thoroughly worn themselves, and us, completely out. Reminds me of how excited I was to see my daughter take her first steps. The occasion, when it happened, was marked with a video and much ooooohing and aaaaaahing of encouragement from her loved ones. The excitement ebbed considerably, when we realized the child was now fully mobile and able to get into everything and anything within her reach. Oh-oh. Like human babies, everything that catches the pup’s interest (which is virtually everything from an old Q-tip found on the floor to the foliage on your house plants) goes in their mouths. Hounds by breed, they run along nose to the ground searching for something to get into. I had to sit cross legged on the couch keeping my feet off the carpet to prevent them from untying my shoelaces or nipping at the back of my ankles. The mama dog sat in the chair next to me watching the chaos of her spawns of the devil unfold. Every once and while she’d cast a worried glance in my direction like “what have I done, Susie, what have I done”? Another concern is there hasn’t been a big response to the ads to place these puppies in new homes, which is starting to be cause for concern. They are entertaining now and cute, but seven big dogs running around in a small space has less of a tickle your funny bone feel to it. I told him we could stand out front of Safeway with a box and a sign reading, “Free Puppy With Any $50 Purchase”. Some people have no sense of humor.

I can remember days like that when my kids were little. They were born a year and two weeks apart. For the first six months or so, they were both in diapers. I would imagine I had much the the same experience parents would have with twins in the house. Once both babies were walking, it was a full day every day. Their dad and I had purchased our first house when I found out I was pregnant with our second child. He was going to college nearby and working a night shift, and I had a secretarial job during the day. Looking back and thinking I was only twenty seems unimaginable to me. Sometimes I don’t know how we did it all. Looking at twenty year olds now and picturing them with a baby on both hips seems unreal. I’m sure there are a lot of young mothers out there, but I don’t see them all around me the way one did when I was producing offspring. According to my granddaughters, marriage is not in the forefront of the minds of young women coming up in the world anymore. An exact quote would be, “Marriage and commitment are not the priorities, or possibly even on our radar”. Interesting. Girls often go to proms in groups of friends, rather than attending with a date. Dating seems, at least to my well seasoned eyes, a far more casual affair in 2022, more about the moment at hand rather than the ultimate outcome. But who am I to say? Each generation thinks the ones coming after them are totally going about things the wrong way. Basically, if they are not doing things the way we did them, they must be doing them wrong.

Girls when I was growing up were supposed to target a marriage partner once the ink dried on their high school diploma. I was married (the first time) at nineteen. Of the four marriages I have to my credit, this was to be the only “formal” wedding I was to enjoy. I remember thinking as I walked down that long aisle towards the man of my dreams, we would be together forever. Forever, as it turned out, was to last only eight years. However, though the marriage didn’t stick to the wall, during our time together we did manage to produce two beautiful humans who have brought me so much joy since the moment they arrived making it such a blessing. Life has a way of going in the direction it chooses to do, and more often or not we are just flotsam swept up in the current. That sounded rather cynical, and I don’t consider myself a cynical person. It’s only over the years I’ve come to see that sometimes what we perceive as the direction we should be moving in, isn’t always the best choice for us to be making. It has been my experience the harder a push the universe at such times, the more resistance I experience in return.

I have a friend who fathered ten children. Amazing. I used to think I wanted six, but managing two as a single mother could be an uphill struggle. How you spread yourselves effectively among ten kids I cannot imagine, and manage to save a moment for yourself. All ten, so he tells it, are uniquely different with totally individual likes and dislikes, and personalities. Isn’t it funny how you can have children who all grow up in the same house, sharing the same parents, with the same values taught to them, enjoying similar activities and conversations, and still they often grow up to be polar opposites as adults. That would be an interesting study to read about. I’m sure there is a paper out there somewhere on the subject already having been written.

At times I wish I could go back to the early days armed with the arsenal of knowledge I have gleaned and begin at my beginning again. Maybe we should start out really on top of things, bursting at the seams with wisdom, and let it leak out like air in a balloon with a small hole in it until we peter out as we get older? Remind me to mention that to the powers that be, once I get wherever it is I go once I peter out.

On a totally unrelated subject, I actually went to the gym today. I know! Not only did I go to it, for I’ve done that before, but this time I got out of the car, opened their business door, and went inside. So proud, really. I need to do some free weight work. If I take this job I mentioned previously working for the Air B&B cleaning company, I need to strengthen my core. The work is physical and requires agility and free motion. The young woman in the facility was kind enough to say I looked to be in excellent health and seemed in good shape. True enough, my physical self, when clothed, is not a lot different then when I was younger. Admittedly, some southern movement has occurred, one can’t escape gravity after all, but all in all it’s still in fairly good fiddle. The problem lies in, like a well-worn wool suit, the material covering it has gotten a bit stretched and out of shape and doesn’t fit as well as it did when it was new. A little tightening up is definitely in order. This girl started laughing when I said that, and continued to do so every time we made eye contact. I do enjoy a good audience. I signed up for their summer “tightening up special”. Twelve weeks of miserable workouts, three times a week (should you be an abuse magnet) to get you in tip-top summer shape. They also have a pool which offers water aerobics which I will avail myself of. I have friends in my age group who won’t wear a bathing suit in the pool anymore. To me this is incredibly vain. One woman I know, wears pants and a long sleeved shirt to swim in if swimming in a public pool. When she steps in the deep end, she sinks to the bottom like a rock. I refuse to not wear shorts when it’s hot, or a bathing suit when I swim simply because my legs aren’t twenty anymore. As far as I know I haven’t gotten to the point where I traumatize small children, or put dogs teeth on edge, so I’m doing it.

That is what I know for a Thursday. The heat is moving our way. Going to be 107 tomorrow. Ugh. The shorts are definitely coming out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My dear first cousin and her husband visited us here in Northern California over the past weekend on their way to Australia. I suggested to them if I laid off my Pringles for a week, I would probably be small enough to tuck in any extra bag, but they neglected to take me up on the offer. Someday, I will get there perhaps. It’s on my bucket list with a number of distant and exotic places to visit. I was sad to hear koalas were on the endangered species list due to the fires on their continent. The climate is changing and the animal kingdom feeling the shift.

No matter how long the span between visits, as they live in Ontario, Canada, my cousin and I seem to reconnect as if it had only been a day or two since we saw each other. I don’t have family in the states so it is quite a treat to have relatives at my door. On both my father and my mother’s side, my mother and I have always been the “satellite family”. Until I was nine, I had grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and the usual cast of extended family members most people enjoy in the vicinity of where I lived. At nine, when she remarried, we left Halifax, Nova Scotia in the rear view mirror of our new Buick and headed across the U.S. to Southern California. Since then, I have probably returned to my homeland a hand plus a few fingers of times, but it’s not like living close by. Definitely Nova Scotia is high on my bucket list as well, hopefully, over the next five years. Note to Susie “get your new passport and quit procrastinating”. Heard and received.

I’ve always missed that family connection. Probably that is why I have created a family of sorts in the lovely group of women I call friends, but in truth consider my sisters. My friends are really the glue that keeps this ship afloat and I am thankful for them every day. The supportive phone call when I’m feeling a bit weepy, or the laughs over lunches, or simply knowing that they are out there and sincerely care if I set my feet on the ground every morning, means the world to me.

Since many of the COVID restrictions have been lifted, the pace of my life has picked up considerably. The fact that my car continues to have the check engine light front and center on my dashboard, adds a little extra anxiety to keeping up with the program. The part in question, a pricey one, is due in tomorrow. They told me not to hold on to the thought it would actually arrive tomorrow too tightly, as most likely with the supply chain issues this is a guesstimate of when it will actually show up. Kay. This makes keeping my schedule in place a little more difficult, as the commitments on my calendar aren’t going to be kept if I don’t have any transportation to get me there.

Currently, I am undergoing allergy shot treatments. Each week I go to my allergist and sacrifice my arm for my injections in the hope that my asthma will eventually (takes a year or two) become something that fades into the background. I never had asthma until I moved up to Northern California. Well, mild symptoms of seasonal allergies, but certainly never was prescribed an inhaler before living up here. If this is the worst thing I have to deal with in my life, I’ll get by, but it does make life a little more challenging when spring shows up with all it’s gorgeous blooms and copious pollen. They won’t give you a shot if you are symptomatic. You have to keep the cycle in between injections within two weeks in order to keep moving up the maintenance ladder increasing your tolerance. Today is the second time I have not been able to go for my appointment. Like my car, I seem to be having some maintenance problems. I guess this is all part of the equipment getting older and not working as well as it did when it was bright and shiny right out of the manufacturer’s showroom.

Along with everyone else in the country I would surmise, I am tightening my belt. Tightening it figuratively, I mean, not that I’ve shed the extra five pounds COVID added to my frame. Frills and extras are being whittled down to fit in my budget. Door Dash, sadly, has been left by the wayside, and just when I was getting on a first name basis with the drivers. Life’s little tragedies. Cutting down on going out to eat as well, and not so much retail therapy in my near future. I guess with what people are going through overseas, this isn’t too much to ask.

California is currently sporting the highest gas prices in the country. Such over achievers out here. I was filling my tank yesterday and believe the man in the next aisle was actually weeping as he got back into his car. You’d think after two years of battling the bug, life would have settled down to a dull roar, but the irony of the situation is now we are free to go where we’d like when we’d like, and we can’t afford to get there. The gods are toying with us.

On a completely unrelated topic, a friend was talking to me about APP dating the other day. Interesting process that. I met Rick on line twenty-five years ago so I’m not new to the idea. Still, I lean towards the old fashioned idea of seeing someone and being attracted to them and going from there. Continuing with my theme, I am open in my “why not” year to looking at all things available for me to try this year that are not dangerous or fattening. The APP experience would be totally new to me. People cruise in and out on the APP apparently, liking you or moving on down the road to someone else they do. You, of course, also have the choice of liking them, or not. If you decide you “like” one another than you text, talk, progress to coffee at a Starbuck’s and go from there. Will I try it? Probably. I have to admit the thought of having to tell all my stories again from the beginning I find a little daunting. When you are asked if you’ve been married before and hold up four fingers in response, it’s always good for an uncomfortable pregnant pause. One man said to me back in the day, “Boy, you really took one for the team.” Yes, I did. I guess when it comes to love, I would suppose I am the eternal optimist.

Well I’m off for now. Happy Monday. Have a great week full of smiles and adventures. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I am debating if I want to cook a whole corned beef and cabbage dinner for the cat and myself, but I may just do it!!

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The check engine light has been on in my car for over a month. Finally, last week, I got it into the local Ford dealership to get it looked at. Turns out, a secondary air injection pump, or some such piece of machinery, somehow got water in it. This caused the pump to fail as well as the connection to it. Apparently, this is very rare. Leave it to me. Though it’s still running, if left to it’s own devices it will eventually have me by the side of the road calling AAA. It’s a 2009, so not just driven off the showroom floor. Though it has good mileage, it’s still an older model (sort of like me), but very reliable thus far (again, like me). All in all over the years, it hasn’t caused us or now me much grief. I guess, if leaning on the grateful side of things, I’ll have to be happy with that. On the “aw crap” side of things, it is going to cost $1,000 and change to make it well again. Sigh. I do not want to have to buy a new vehicle at this juncture with the prices soaring, so better this outlay now, than a monthly payment in my near future.

I’m thinking seriously about getting a printing press and printing out some twenties in my basement to carry me through the lean times. Just kidding, I don’t have a basement. I had to take out a loan to gas up my car over the weekend. I put up my bocce ball set as collateral. I’m beginning to think it’s time for Boo, the Queen of cats, to be considering employment. She’s been cruising along on her good looks far too long in this relationship.

Employment will most definitely be next on my check list for this “why not” year. Truthfully, it’s less of a “why not” and more of a “you better”. Money is flying out of my account lately, with little returning to the nest (egg). I try to live in the moment and not worry about it too much, but sometimes even the moment catches up with me. The other day, I went for a ride with a friend of mine around the area. We drove up an old rural road to take a look at a historical house located at the top. On the way down, we passed by three small white houses on the property. One, looked to be not much bigger than my shed out back. Signs of someone living there were evident. There were curtains in the windows, the smallest one had a bike leaning against the railing, and the last one, before we reached the highway (the most interesting to my mind,) had a huge bush out front. The bush, was brightly decorated with someone’s colored cotton underwear. There were at least a dozen pairs of lady’s drawers scattered about the shrub drying in the sunshine. It was obvious by the size of the dwelling there wasn’t a washer and dryer tucked inside, so this, apparently was what the owner of the lingerie had come up with to take care of the situation. There, but for the grace of God, go I. Had to give her some credit, would never have thought of it myself.

I have mentioned many times I have had more than enough money in my life at times, and at other times not enough. After years of yo-yo experimentation, I have to say I prefer the former. I don’t need an obscene amount of money in my bank account, and thus far that check has never arrived in the mail for me to consider it, but enough of a cushion to sleep well at night. In this “why not” year I am open to abundance in my world. When younger, I used to think having a little cash in the bank was neither one way or the other in terms of contentment. I certainly never married for money, which is reflected is my current monetary status. But, I have to admit, these days, as I creep up the ladder, I have begun to think about it a little more seriously. Not marrying for money! I would never do that. However, giving serious thought to generating more income to cover my expenses down the road.

Last week, I had breakfast out with a friend at a small restaurant downtown, popular with the local people. Good food, excellent coffee, and home town ambiance. The owner, a lovely woman I would guess around sixty, was waiting on tables. While ordering my Eggs Benedict, we struck up a conversation. Like many restaurant owners, staffing has become a serious problem for her since the Pandemic darkened our doors. I mentioned I used to own a restaurant, and by the end of the meal she was sitting next to me telling me about her experience. The table next to me was being cleared by a man appearing to be easily in his late eighties. Seeing my eyes looking in his direction, she explained he had been on the street when he first came to her seeking employment. Reminders of how close we all can be (in the lower 99%) to finding ourselves in an unfortunate situation.

For me, I am being careful not to be so cavalier with my spending. There is a difference between “need” and “want”. Truly, there is little other than the basics like food, clothing and shelter I need. The want list is far longer and mostly includes traveling, but nothing I can’t live without. Before moving here, I had half my possessions packed in boxes for months prior to selling my house. I was surprised to note, I didn’t miss most of what was packed at all during that time. Shows you how much surplus we drag along with us on our journeys.

I have downsized twice since 2013 and don’t feel mistreated. If anything, there is less to clean and to worry about. Check the “fine with me” box on this.

Someone told me once during a retreat, “always remember there is someone in the world who would look at your life and consider it abundant”. That being said, I work hard and looking at what wonderful gifts I have, and not what is missing from my plate. I don’t always succeed, but that is the direction I am headed.

Have a rich and abundant day.

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This past weekend had some sad notes in it, along with some really melodious ones. Watching my mother’s decline is a difficult vigil. This month she will add another candle to her cake, and those of us who treasure her, are happy to be celebrating the momentous event with her. Each day, each visit, becomes more precious as the hours tick by on the clock. I try to imprint sounds, touches, and memories into my mental scrap book to pull up somewhere when I no longer have her with me. Enjoying a nice visit with her on Saturday, I came home feeling a bit melancholy. Dale has been gone since late October, and I’m still settling into the rythms of my new life without him. Some days are more difficult than others. I stopped on the way home to browse through Home Goods, my happy place. I didn’t need anything in particular. Sometimes, I just like looking at all the beautiful things on their shelves. Usually, I manage to find a little something something I didn’t really need.

While at my mother’s I placed an order for some supplies needed for her care to be delivered from Costco to her residence. Costco is about five miles from where she lives and about thirty from where I do. Instacart will deliver from the store without a membership card. I let mine lapse this year. I love shopping at the big box store but I end up tossing half of what I buy because everything is packaged in such large quantities. Continuing my unbroken string of stupid is as stupid does activities, I arrived home about three hours later to find my mother’s Costco order waiting for me on my doorstep. Seems someone forgot to change the delivery address when placing the order. This means another trip back to my mother’s to deliver the goodies. Sigh.

Opening the door at my house and gathering my mother’s order, I found Boo, the Queen of Cats, lurking behind the door wearing her “where have you been” face. The cat has a strict internal clock, and when I miss the treat deadline for the afternoon the retribution is swift and mighty. First, she gives me the stink eye oozing with disdain, and then she sits with her back facing me until the treats are dispensed. Cats, as they say, be crazy, or do they make us think we are? Words to think about.

As much as I enjoy a good day in the stores, retail therapy isn’t the best choice for filling the void after someone passes away. However, shopping is something I enjoy, and sometimes Susie’s just gotta do it. Truth is, I was trained by the best. My mother, when able, was a consummate shopper. Can’t tell you how many times growing up, my closet floor was lined with bags from well known retail merchants waiting to be integrated into the household. The integration process was always done with the utmost stealth, so as not to alert my stepfather any new additions had been taken on board. When he spotted her wearing an outfit he didn’t recognize, I can still hear him saying, “Mary, is that dress new”? Mother, naturally pretending to be highly affronted by the inference, would reply “I can’t believe you’re asking me that. I wore it to Patty’s party on Saturday night”! Was I in the room, I would get the wink telling me to keep my usually loose lips sealed, and the game was afoot. My stepfather, not wishing to be accused of not being properly attentive to his wife, would then nod as if having a sudden clear recollection of the event in question and mother in the dress. He would then say, “oh yes, very nice”. Uh-huh. I believe these days this practice is referred to as “gaslighting”. Basically, it is when you make another person think they are crazy for imagining things actually going on. Mother really got in on the ground floor on that one.

Also, on the way home, I stopped at several stores in search of a pair of black pants or possibly a dress. My wardrobe has dwindled down to jeans and shorts. Sunday, I had plans to go to the symphony with a friend, and neither were going to be appropriate for the occasion. I had gone to listen to the same symphony a month ago and noticed people were a little more conservatively dressed than is the norm for this area. That being said, I felt I’d better step up to the occasion. When first asked if I’d be interested in going to see classical symphony, I have to admit, my instincts were to decline. Then I thought of my “why not” theme for this year. Not considering myself a fan of classical music, I was curious to see what this was all about. So glad I did. I loved, loved, loved the whole experience. After the first symphony, I found myself excited to be doing so once again. Had I not stepped outside of my own perceptions, I would have missed out on two wonderful afternoons filled with the most beautifully performed music, and hopefully more to come down the road. Yay.

Have to say, I don’t know who is designing women’s clothes of late but can’t imagine where they are drawing their ideas from. Browsing through the dresses, they seemed to break down into two categories. One would include cotton peasant style fabrics with flouncy sleeves and bibbed fronts. I call these the “Laura Ingalls Wilder Collection”. For those of you who watched Little House on the Prairie you will get the reference here. The second set, in more flowing nylon fabrics with cabbage roses dancing across the bodice or vibrant prints, I refer to as “Nana’s Parlor Collection”. One of the patterns I’m pretty sure I recognized from my piano teachers loveseat. Awful. When you are small framed such as I am, pulling one of these on makes you look like a six year old trying to pull off your mother’s clothes. I don’t think they could possibly be flattering no matter what your build.

The pants on the racks I found interesting as well. To begin with, they all seem short for some reason. I am 5′ 5″ tall, not exactly ready to be recruited by the Knicks, but every time I pull on a pair of pants lately I feel like I’m fully prepared for high water. Should the flood gates open, if wearing those pants I can continue on my way without taking on a drop of water. If they are not short, they look as if they’ve been attacked by a crazed tailor brandishing a pair of sharp scissors. My granddaughter has a pair so shredded she’d be more covered if wearing a pair of shorts. You pay more apparently for holey pants than those fully intact, and you don’t get hems on the bottom either. I came home with nothing more than I left the house with, except for a slight headache. The good news is, if they keep putting out clothes like this I’ll be in better financial shape.

This has been a hectic and most chaotic couple of weeks. The heart monitor they attached to me last week at my cardiologist’s office, as I mentioned in my previous blog fell off when I got home and had to be reattached. After being part of my body for six days and needing to be retaped, it turned out I was allergic to the super tape used to keep it in place so is now resting in a UPS return envelope waiting to be returned to the mother ship. Can’t say I’m sad to see it go. The device brought more stress with it honestly, then I need in my life right now.

So, back on track for the moment, I forge on. Hump day is upon us and we have already stepped into March. Whew. Trying hard to concentrate on the moment in time I am living. If I get too far beyond today it sometimes feels as if I’m stepping out on the ledge with nothing but empty space below me. Had to turn off the news this morning. Climate change, the Ukranian crisis, all too much to take in in one gulp.

Find your grateful space, your happy place, even if it’s browsing the shelves at Home Goods. Sometimes you simply have to feed your spirit in whatever way suits you for the moment you are in.

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Well here we are on the precipice of New Year’s Day 2022. Another year tied up, almost, and ready to be left to the history books for posterity. On reflection, it wasn’t an easy year by any stretch of the imagination. Going into 2021, my life was definitely headed in a direction that has since dramatically altered its course. This leaves me with a lot of uncertainty as this year turns off its lights, and yes, a great deal of anticipation as I set foot in the new year. This year Dale and I entered January together, hopeful for new adventures and sharing our days together. As I exit on the other end, I have had to let him go on ahead of me and am left to find a new life on my own. Once again, I restart my life. I will begin to rebuild the foundation, and as the days go by add brick by brick to make the structure sound. Makes me wonder what on earth the universe had in store for me when they sent me down the chute. So many times, I get comfortable in a direction I am headed, only to find myself completely redirected into an entirely different life. Always, though, I believe there is a reason. We do not often know what that is, but I believe we are guided to where it is we are to go. I am glad to put this holiday season to bed and pleased I made it through and found much joy with my family and my little house and Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats.

Well, Christmas gifts have been opened, appreciated, and tucked away for another year. The second of January I will dismantle the tree and put it back in its zippered bag. it has done its job for this season, brightening both my home and my spirits. My mother was with us all day on Christmas at my daughter’s for presents and dinner. With the dementia, she often misunderstands what is going on in new surroundings, so she thought we’d made a party in her honor. It was such a lovely misconception, we let her believe it to be true. Really, the day was all about three year old Zeppelin when it came to what was under the tree. So many presents had his name on the tag, and he is old enough now to thoroughly immerse himself in the spirit of the day. My daughter, Heather, has a way of making magic happen around the holidays. While Zeppelin was still happily dreaming about the day to come, Heather was stamping muddy hoof prints stretching from the door to the fireplace on her tile floor. Next, she made a line of snowy boot prints leading from the fireplace to the tree. A pile of half eaten cookies sat in the dish on a mantle near a half filled glass of milk, and filled stockings were then lined up on the hearth. The scene was set, and none of the ambience was wasted on our littlest member. Truly seeing the holidays through children’s eyes can make you young again, even if just for the moment.

My mother definitely had her holiday spirit turned up to full volume as well. Five generations were represented at our table, with the oldest and the youngest member of our small but hearty band seated at opposite ends enjoying their Christmas dinner. Something very special about a moment like that, that really fits nicely in the confines of your heart.

I am driving down to the Bay Area for the New Years holiday. Seem to be getting around quite a bit these days. I love to drive actually. Getting out on the road with the music turned to 70’s classic rock, no time schedule but the one I choose for myself, and my son and his family waiting for me on the other end sounds very inviting. Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, will have her usual pet sitter to keep an eye on her in my absence so the home front will be covered until I come back.

Though jeans and leggings topped with sweaters will be appropriate attire for most of my stay, my son and his fiance are hosting an engagement/New Year’s Eve party on the thirty first. This, will require a little effort on my part. When Rick and I owned the restaurant half my closet my filled with dresses and skirts. These days, I definitely lean towards more comfortable clothes. It’s not like the Queen is stopping by for tea any time soon. There isn’t a pair of heels visible among my vast assortment of shoes, and I don’t own any dresses at all except some of the casual summer variety. Hmmmm. Well, this is a good week to hit the stores. All the after Christmas sales will be in full bloom. I don’t really like what the designers are pushing our way this year, unfortunately. Most of the dresses look like they could also serve as appropriate shelter from a storm should you get caught in inclement weather while wearing them outside. A few tent poles and a Coleman lantern and you’re good to go. Perhaps this is because a lot of people have added a few pounds during the pandemic, I don’t know, but they surely aren’t very figure flattering. Big, blousey numbers in really busy bold prints. They remind me of the upholstery on the couch in my piano teachers parlor when I was a kid. Ugh.

I used to dress up all the time, but then I was working full time. In the restaurant, part of my job was to look professional and pulled together. Rick and I were there most days, so I needed a wardrobe to support being in the public eye. We chose Italian fine dining, making it relatively upscale as far as decor and menu. As the owners, Rick and I were expected to look the part. Owning a restaurant is not for the feint of heart. To say it’s a lot of work, barely begins to cover the amount of work it actually is. Sunday was the only day Vino Vino was closed, but that did not mean it was necessarily a day of rest. I still went into the restaurant early in the morning to pick up the server’s envelopes from the night before. Their receipts and monies would be in the safe and I would separate their gratuities from the bank deposit which would be made Monday morning, and every morning of the week.

It always was a bit of an eerie experience stepping inside that door when the building was empty. A very old structure, it was originally a saloon in it’s early days, or so the stories go. Built in the late 1800’s I’m sure it held many interesting stories and lurid tales inside it’s walls. The cooks, all men by the way, were not comfortable cooking in the kitchen alone, claiming they never felt they really were, alone, that is. Often, when I came in the front of the building sounds like banging or tapping could be heard in the bar area toward the back of the building. If I went back there by myself, I always left the front door standing ajar in case I needed an easy escape route. At night before we closed up, whether by design or chance, it always seemed we left in twos. One cannot be too cautious when dealing with ethereal things we don’t quite understand.

People ask me often if I would do it again. The answer would be, no. However, I am glad I did it then. It was a fascinating experience and I’m happy I was part of it. Sometimes I toy with the idea of opening a breakfast and lunch place somewhere in a lovely beach community, but really it is like a cat batting around a stuffed mouse. It’s fun to play with but the relationship is not going anywhere beyond that point.

Snow and rain have moved into our area. We sorely need it so I’m glad it’s here but it is making a mess for travelers trying to get home after the holidays. A lot of my friends in the high country are snowed in and without power. Whew, there is a price to pay for everything, I would guess.

Stay safe and snug over the holidays. Remember to count your blessings. You can’t do this too many times to my mind. Happy Monday.

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Someone said to me the other day, “you are a warrior”. I don’t view myself that way at all. Am I am fighter? Absolutely. I will continue to try to reach the surface no matter how many times the waves push me back down below the water line. That is a truth I know about myself. My mother used to say I was like one of those inflatable clowns with sand in the bottom. You knock me down, and I spring back up. It’s often hard to identify our own strengths. Certainly it is difficult, at least for me, to have a spotlight shined on them. Two things I am skilled in, I have to say are, I am good at defraying compliments and excellent at not asking for help. If someone tells me I look pretty, until recently I would answer, “Really? I couldn’t do anything with my hair”, or I would alert them to a cold sore threatening to rise up below my lip, in case they wanted to rethink their assessment. I don’t think I’m alone in this. If you say something negative about someone they often nod there heads vigorously in acknowledgement and say, “I know. I’m working on it.” In turn, you might compliment a recent weight loss in a friend, and get in return “I still have twenty pounds to lose”. Thank you, is all that is needed by way of reply. Two simple words we should have little difficulty forming with our mouths. Why can’t we just say them when told something pleasant about ourselves? So easy to see our dark sides, and so uncomfortable for us to embrace our positive traits. Unless, of course, you’re a narcissist. You know who you are. If that description fits you to a tee, you point out your own good traits and accomplishments, and expect others to do the same. Aside from working on being able to handle someone saying something nice or complimentary to me, receiving help from other people would be another area I have begun to do some strong work on.

Before Dale got deep into his cancer journey, I ordered a work station on the Internet. I hesitate to do that usually, because furniture of any type always requires assembly. It’s not that I can’t do it, I’d just rather not. Even when Dale was in the house, I would be the one sitting on the floor with parts strewn all around me. To me, it’s like a puzzle, and I do love a good puzzle. Usually I can manage to figure it out in spite of the spotty instructions often included with the item, but this work station would prove to be a project I just could not take over the finish line. For two days I grappled with the *x!!!## thing. To begin with, the directions were abysmal, and I’m being polite here. Supplied with the hardware was a one page sketch. Whatever genius drew it, he made it an overlap of diagrams supposedly constructive in guiding you through the assembly process. Not. To add to the mix, the pieces are heavy and cumbersome, and are hard for one person to hold onto to screw in parts, etc. At one point such bad language was crossing my lips, even the cat went under the bed and put her paws over her ears. Some projects like this I have been able to actually “eye” and put together. This one I couldn’t manage with both eyes, the sketchy sketch, and a team of builders. Good Lord. Finally, with my blistered hands, I hoisted the white flag up the pole and said “ENOUGH”. Before placing the parts back in the box, putting the box in the middle of the street, and annihilating the whole thing with my vehicle, I picked up my phone. Yes, I really did. Dale has a dear friend who extended a hand to me recently should I need help with anything around the house. Looking at his kind text on my phone, I stood frozen for ten minutes before actually banging out a message in the sand reading “H.E.L.P.”. Quickly he responded and reinforcements showed up after lunch today. Easy peasey but not for me. Oh no, not for me. I absolutely loathe admitting I can’t do it myself. This is definitely a personality defect I need to improve on. Somewhere in my minds file cabinet I have sorted and compiled information which tells me asking for help is a) inconvenient for the person I am asking, b) a sign of incompetence on my part that I cannot complete the task without assistance, and c) they might turn me down (ouch), and that would be embarrassing. In reading up on the subject I was surprised and interested to find that one has to be more evolved as a human to reach out and ask for assistance. Oh-oh. Asking for help allows you to a) move forward from the point where you have become stuck, b) possibly work with someone to get the job done whose company you enjoy, and c) learn something from the experience. Who knew?

After acknowledging as I said,the directions were virtually useless, my rescuer began the business of putting the work station together without them. To be fair, he has been in the construction for many years giving him a decided edge on me (if you’ll pardon the construction pun). In forty minutes, he had the unit up and fully assembled. Sometimes, you just need a guy. I thanked him profusely for taking time out of his day to help me. I bagged up all my leftover Halloween candy for him to take home for his trouble. Not much of a paycheck, but it was all he would take. He told me it made him feel good to help out. There’s another reason to ask for help once and a while, the person helping gets to feel good when they lend a hand. Many lessons written on the board today.

Before he arrived, I got my Moderna booster shot at a local pharmacy. Looking up the documents required, I noticed they wanted the COVID card from my previous shots. I have the website in my contacts on my phone where I can pull up the official records which I have used everywhere I’ve been asked for proof of vaccination. I figured this would be sufficient. Never out think yourself. You are asking for trouble. I arrived ten minutes prior to my appointment as instructed. Atta girl. Waiting in line, I took my turn at the counter telling the girl why I was there. Immediately, she asked for the COVID card. When I explained I had the official site on my phone, after conferring with the pharmacist, she said that would be fine. I pulled it up, inserted my password and bupkus. Why? Really why? Perhaps I should have checked the password before leaving the house? Fine. So, I got in my car and hot footed it back to the house and retrieved the actual card from my files. Back in the car, I made the third trip down the same route back to the pharmacy where I got in line. Sigh and double sigh. Finally, I stuck my arm out and got dosed. Whew. Hopefully, the half dose won’t produce the same two days of misery the two prior full doses did. I have a lot to do this week and don’t want to do it lying flat on my back.

Dale’s Celebration of Life is on Sunday. Apparently nearly three hundred and fifty people will be attending both virtually and in person. I’d have to raffle off a new Mercedes to have that many people at my funeral. Such a friendly and giving human being. You really do get back what you give out. He will be sitting in a corner at the event somewhere like a little leprechaun taking it all in. I have to put together a program some time over the next day or two so counting on the universe to shine her light somewhere else for a bit so I can make some forward movement.

A funny thing happened yesterday morning. Whether you believe people who have passed on send signs or not, this made me happy. After Rick died, there were so many signs that he was still in the neighborhood, but with Dale they have been fewer, though not non-existent. I was in my bedroom around eight o’clock. I had looked out into my back yard and was deciding whether or not to add raking the leaves to my list of chores for the day. Coming out into the living room, I switched on the news. Hearing the weather report, it seems a storm with wind was heading our way. I decided raking the leaves would be a rather fruitless endeavor as the storm would undoubtedly distribute a new layer. This news, let me say, did not break my heart. Feeling a bit melancholy, I once again went to my room to retrieve something. Passing my window, I again stopped to look out. Just at that moment, three balloons floated down from the sky landing on my patch of grass in the far yard. The wind turned the middle balloon around to reveal a huge smiley face on the front of the balloon. Whether you believe or not, and I happen to, that made me smile.

So, as it turned out I spent a miserable night tossing and turning dealing with burning skin, muscle aches, and a headache. This reaction is not as severe as the original two injections, but I’m missing a lovely lunch with a friend because of it, and that chaps my hide. I’m glad it’s done now. Hopefully life will find the needle pointed more in the normal section of the dial. Have a great day!!!

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Once again Halloween has rolled around on the calendar. Friday night I went to town with Dale’s daughter to have a goodbye for now dinner, as she was returning the following morning to her home in Los Angeles. For the past month she and I have worked as a team to take care of Dale’s end of days, providing us with a sort of forever bond of comradeship which I will treasure. Yesterday we said our goodbyes and I went to spend the night with my daughter and her family sort of a pre-birthday celebration. At some point after a loved one dies, you have to face your empty house.This morning I did just that. Opening the door, the rooms seemed full of shadows and quiet spots. Light will once again fill the corners and the days will seem less heavy and long, but for today I am feeling quiet and like my well has run low and it is hard to draw from it. Perfect Halloween mood, yes? Dank and dark. Sorry about that.

Halloween, being the eve of the day I whooshed into the world, has always held a special spot in my heart. Being somewhat of a large kid, dressing up is something I have enjoyed since I came to understand that was what the celebration is all about. Over the years, I have arrived on the scene as so many different characters. One year I was a fried egg, with my date accompanying me as bacon. Another year I was eve, with a serpent wrapped around my arm. At one time, I actually had a chest which held all my different costumes, wigs, and accessories. These days, I don’t attend many costume parties, but imagine I might step up to the plate again should an invitation show up in the mail next October. My first husband and I kept an actual wooden coffin in our storage shed. Sounds macabre now, but at the time we thought it a great Halloween prop. He lined it with visqueen each year and it was filled with ice to keep soft drinks and beer chilled when it was party time. Always I had several skeletal hands reaching up through the ice with a little fake blood to add to the ambience of the experience. One year, I actually purchased a brain from the local butcher. We suspended the organ in a glass bowl in lightly tinted water and put a back light on it. Even I was creeped out by that one.

Looking back, there were many fun parties, many dress ups for work days, and loads of memories with my children and theirs to make Halloween still feel special to me. Tonight, I imagine the turnout will be substantial. Kids and parents have been locked up due to the virus for several years, and my guess is they will be out en masse. Looking forward to seeing all the decorated faces at my front door. Friday night when we went to dinner downtown it seemed as if the entire population of our small community had shown up for the occasion. Street vendors lined both sides of the street, huge metal trash cans were ablaze to keep hands warm when the sun went down, country music could be heard in the distance, and kids and adults alike passed by disguised as cinderella or the incredible hulk. After we’d eaten, we strolled through the crowds. One vendor was completely lit up with well, things that light up. I bought a pair of pink kitty ears that blinked in three colors and at different speeds. I left them for our littlest member when visiting my daughter’s yesterday for a pre-birthday celebration. In spite of Dale’s recent passing, I had fun and found myself smiling and moving to the music when we stopped to listen to the band. Sometimes when someone passes away, the survivors feel guilty when they laugh or experience a joyous moment. I know in my heart Dale would never want me to be so miserable I could not smile or laugh. One of the things he said he liked best about me was my happy nature. I’m sure he would not be pleased to find me hovering in the corner dissolved in tears all day. Not that there haven’t been tears, nor that there won’t be more. Grief is something you move through not work around. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, other times manageable, and at other times the sadness lingers in the background playing softly rather than up front with the band.

I will survive, because that is what I do. As the days pass the pain will ease and I will step back into the life going on around me and create something new and as yet unknown for me to experience. Happy Halloween. See you tomorrow another year older.

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