Archive for the ‘starting over’ Category

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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Friday I said goodbye to my partner and love, Dale, after he lost his long and courageous battle with lung cancer. As much as he wanted to stay in this realm and continue the lovely life we had begun building together, his body couldn’t keep that commitment and needed to rest. His cheerful spirit remains in all of us who knew him, and his loving soul has gone on to where good souls go when they leave the earthly plane. I am left behind to wonder what might have been, and memorialize his passing. To say I shall miss him, covers so little ground in describing the sadness I feel he will not be walking next to me as I come to the crossroads of the next turn in the path in what seems like a most convoluted journey. My mind keeps asking why I am the one to accompany people exiting this world, but remain here myself. There aren’t really any answers expected, but the question floats about in my subconscious asking why, and then why again.

I remind myself when the sorrow drops like a heavy blanket around my shoulders, I am lucky to have been well loved by these two men in my life. Rick, who passed away three years ago after twenty years together, and now Dale with two. In my earlier years I tried on many partnerships, but I didn’t always choose my partners wisely. Thankfully, some of the earlier relationships taught me enough about what I didn’t want in a relationship to provide guidance when stepping into new partnerships as I got older. Were these two men perfect? Was I? Hardly. Life is not perfect, despite advertisers attempts to convince us otherwise. People are not perfect, and thus relationships cannot possibly be perfect. If someone tells me they exist in a perfect pairing, I give them a wide berth. They be crazy.

Though not perfect, they were healthy. There was give and take on both sides, lots of love, much laughter, generosity, some tears, occasional misunderstandings, and for a pinch of spice, some hearty disagreements. All thrown in the pot, this still produced good relationships. Someone said the other day, “you’ll move on and find someone else”? People need to THINK, as I have said so often, before allowing their lips to form words. You do not replace a person in the manner you would a worn out couch, by simply replacing it. You have to slog through the difficult process of grieving their exit from your world (in the physical sense only) and capture your memories to carry in your heart as you proceed on your way alone. There is no guideline for grief, no timeline you must follow. Grieving is a very personal and individual endeavor carried on in private (usually) by those left behind.

My birthday is Monday. This is really not a time I wish to celebrate but a friend of mine suggested we go to lunch and help support some of the local businesses by dropping a little money in their tills. Why not? Dale’s daughter will be going home over the weekend and Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, and I will once again be the only two beings on the premises. This could make for the perfect storm for a day of abject self pity, so I decided since I had a choice in the matter I would prefer to go shopping instead. When relating this story to my cousin, she stopped me at the part about not wanting to dip into self pity. She said she wondered why we aren’t permitted the indulgence of allowing ourselves to really dive deep into our feelings, rather than being expected to immediately dust ourselves off after a huge loss, and get right back in the game. I have to agree with her. Americans really do not like to speak of death. I’ve discussed this before. Grief groups are not readily available for many people struggling through the rough waters alone, and people are uncomfortable to enter into a discussion with someone recently experiencing the loss of a loved one. Truth is, from my experience, people want to talk about them. It helps in the healing process. I know for me if I didn’t have the steady stream of support my dear friends and loved ones provide, a stranger might be talking me of the ledge about now.

Life must go on, and normal things sometimes bring solace. Taking inventory of my cupboards I got dressed and headed to the store. I bought a large bag of Halloween candy. Intuition tells me this year might produce a good turnout. When I got to the checkstand I took out an equity loan to pay the bill. Everything is soooooo pricey these days. I understand chicken is going way up as well. Fowl was my go to meat. Drat the luck. I’m clipping coupons and trying to conserve where I can. My usual cat litter, Boo is picky, was not on any of the shelves I visited. Supply chain strikes again. I guess I should have stocked up, but who knew cat litter wasn’t made here in the U.S. Is anything these days, one wonders?

Flowers and cards have been arriving. I can’t put them on any accessible surface (cat accessible that would be) because Boo has a flower fetish. If she sees one, she eats it. As many blooms and plants can make felines sick or worse, I have to place them in awkward places when an arrangement arrives or I’ll come out the following morning to a collection of stems. She doesn’t differentiate between artificial or real either. The other day I found small fronds of a recently purchased fake plant in the litter box. That sort of says it all.

Today is a tricky day. I feel sad and then okay, then okay, followed up by profoundly sad. Mostly I am just tired, which is a sort of side effect. My limbs feel like they weigh about five hundred pounds apiece and lifting my feet up to propel me from one room to the next is a decided effort. This too, like all things, will pass. There is sunshine awaiting me in the future, but sometimes the moment seems overshadowed by clouds and dank.

I miss you my dear Dale. For you the pain is over. For those of us left here to grieve you, it is just beginning. Now you know what lies beyond the human experience as we know it. Send me a cryptic note if you get a chance. Sending you a bag of smiles and endless giggles in case you need them.

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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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