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Archive for the ‘starting over’ Category

By day six on the farm I had fallen into the rythm, sort of the heartbeat, of life there. It isn’t like working in the city, where you are hired for a specific skill and for the most part and you get up every morning and go apply that skill on your job.  On the farm there are jobs to be done by each participant in addition to providing help wherever else you are needed on any given day. If you have nothing to do, someone will find you something to fill your time. Nobody is standing around waiting for the world to hand them an agenda. All hands are needed to keep the process moving forward. It was nice to be a part of that, if only for a short time. I can see where being born into a farm family you take this strenuous schedule in stride accepting it as routine. You work until the work is done. The only exception was Sunday. Sunday, thankfully, was for the most part a day of rest and I was looking forward to getting in on some of that on my sixth day there which happened to fall on a Sunday.

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I attended church services with them in the morning. The little girls reminded me of myself at their age. Both were fidgeting in their seats dressed in their glossy Mary Jane’s with their little bodies confined by frilly dresses they would happily exchange for bare feet, shorts, and an old tee shirt. Other than our two little princesses, the dress was generally casual. Church really isn’t a place to show off your new duds anymore. As a child I remember going into church with my grandmother. Never did I see her without a hat, gloves, nylons, heels, and a suit or a dress at Sunday services.  In the cooler months I can remember the addition of her much prized fox stole, flung over one shoulder the poor fox still attached. These days people show up in whatever they grab out of the closet. Jeans are acceptable attire as are shorts in the summer and ski jackets in the colder months. The last time I went to church in California the kid in front of me was wearing his pajama bottoms. For me it’s all fine. I’m pretty sure, though I’ve never actually gotten the final directive from up above, the Lord doesn’t put much stake in what our clothes look like. I believe he focuses more in the direction of what we are thinking or what we are doing, rather than what shoes we are wearing.

The church structure was so charming with white siding and a tall steeple. A bell showed through a tower window. Though the siding was clean and well cared for the building appeared to be quite old. I was told later it had been around many years and held some historic significance in the area, marked by a gold plaque hanging in the vestibule. The sermon was invigorating enough to keep me from lowering my chin to my chest which is always a blessing in itself. A group of young singers took the stage after the minister had spoken and soon had everyone clapping and stomping their feet. Following the service the “flock” met in the great room for a mouth watering smorgasbord of homemade cakes, pies and other goodies washed down with freshly brewed coffee and lemonade. I found the people for the most part extremely friendly and welcoming. Several times I was drawn into conversations with local ladies about how I came to find myself in their midst. They seemed fascinated anyone would sign up for such a trip without knowing who they were going to see or what might befall them once they reached their destination. I couldn’t argue with their logic. Ninety percent of my family and friends were on the same train going down the same track. Sometimes I’m fascinated by it myself when I reflect on my time there. At the time it seemed to have worked out well so I was simply enjoying doing exactly what I was doing.

At the end of the food line there was a small craft sale of sorts comprised of what looked to be mostly homemade items set up on a folding table . I admired a tea cozy someone had crocheted mentioning I could knit but had never mastered crocheting. The two women standing next to me seemed perplexed I could even knit. Apparently their image of women from California was of ladies oozing glamour and money looking ready to step out of the pages of Elle or Cosmopolitan. Pampered females with maids to maintain their fabulous homes and “people” who cleaned their pools and manicured their impressive yards. I hadn’t applied so much as a hint of blush since my arrival. At the time I traveled there I was renting a room in a condominium, doing my laundry at the nearby laundromat, and my “yard” consisted of a small patio with a table top fountain and a well faded patio umbrella. I probably dashed their illusions to pieces by not showing up in a haute couture gown wearing a tiara perched on my head with my lashes heavily laden with mascara. Had I know I was representing I would have at least used a curling iron on my hair. Interesting about preconceived notions. They often hit so far off the mark.

After church, it was decided we would go into town and enjoy breakfast at the diner. I had not seen the town as yet so was excited for a chance to explore. One parcel of acreage seemed to blend into the next as we drove along. Horses grazed in white fenced pastures here and there and tractors chugged along barely visible in clouds of dust in open fields. Chris sat in the front seat with a sleeping Dawn on her lap. Bob P. had elected to stay at the church to play cards with a group of friends. That left Ray at the wheel and Bob J., Eva, and I to take up the back seat. Eva was chattering at warp speed as we drove along switching subjects so quickly it was impossible for me to keep up.  Bob J., being his usual introspective self, gazed out the window so frequently you’d have thought the answers to the major unanswered questions plaguing mankind hung there on a suspended flash card for him to review. One thing I had learned about the man is he didn’t speak often, but when he did at least he had something interesting to say. I liked that. There is an old saying about many an important thing can be said in silence. Can’t remember the exact quote but you get where I’m going here. At times in my life I’d dated men who had said a lot, but not much of it had substance. This was a refreshing change of pace.

Alerting me we were approaching the town, Ray made a joke about it being so small the town council could have saved money by having the “Welcome to” and “You Are Now Leaving” notifications printed on the front and the back of the same sign. We pulled into the bustling parking lot of The Country Cottage Diner and found a spot far in the back. Chairs had been lined up under the eaves and people were seated chatting among themselves. A sign on a podium outside the front door said sign in and be seated. Adding his name to the waiting list Bob J. suggested he and I take a brief tour of the downtown area while waiting for a table to open up. The General Store was directly across the street, yup the sign really read General Store. Bob J. said the large brick building also housed the post office and a small branch of the Ministry of Transportation which I understand is the DMV’s Canadian cousin.  Further down the block was a gas station, and across from that was a hardware store and bait shop, a video rental place, and several specialty shops. The commercial area of the town was followed by a bank of beautiful old homes with inviting porches lining both sides of the main drag (I had a feeling it might be the only drag). All and all the tour took about five minutes. Walking back we saw Ray signalling our table was ready.

Inside the diner to the left was a long line of stools and a counter. The stools were mostly occupied by older gentlemen either reading an open paper or feeding their faces. Behind the counter the cooks could be seen through a hole in the wall busily filling orders. My stomach was happy to know breakfast was in the offing. To the right of the counter was a mishmash of tables followed by a long series of booths next to the windows. We sat at the larger circular booth in the corner with one child in between each parent for management. I ordered Eggs Benedict, my favorite. It was absolutely delicious served with crispy homestyle potatoes, spicy sausage links, and a heaping bowl of fresh fruit. Each table started out with a basket of assorted muffins which were served with local honey. People stopped by our booth often to say hello to the family exchanging bits of local gossip or information pertaining to farm business.  I was, I’m sure, a bit of a curiosity. Chris told me they usually didn’t entertain that much traffic when eating there by themselves.

Back at the ranch, so to speak. Chris and Ray went off with the girls to tend to the animals who after all didn’t know the difference between Sunday or Monday when it came to their stomachs. Bob J. and I sat on the fence and watched the horses in the coral. Hopping down he asked if I’d be interested in a ride. I accepted the invitation with the assurance he would put me on the horse with the mildest disposition. It had been years since I’d ridden and didn’t want to end up on the ground or worse making (pardon) a horse’s ass of myself. Hoisted up on the saddle I was pleased I remembered how to hold the reins and that I hadn’t fallen off before we reached the path that led out of the compound. We rode about an hour and a half sometimes just walking along slowly and other times loping along next to each other. It was starting to cool off for the day and the bugs had begun searching for new meat so reluctantly we turned our horses heads back in the direction we had come. We rode in complete silence for a while, neither of us feeling the need to fill the void with words. It was lovely.

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Writing this reminds me again how I do love horses and have great respect for them. Majestic animals who allow us to slap leather contraptions on them and hop on their backs with mostly quiet acceptance.  The most wonderful experience I ever had on the back of a horse was while vacationing in Rosarita Beach, Mexico. Rosarita Beach is a lovely little tourist mecca on the Baja Peninsula. In my early twenties my first husband and I often camped on the beach there with the children. On this trip we had come with a rather large group of his family members. Our tents were lined up in a row along the tree line right on the beach.  A group of locals approached us one afternoon with five or six horses in tow asking us if we wanted to ride. There were no saddles, only colorful blankets thrown across their backs. It was necessary to stand on a rock to get on board. Without a saddle there were no stirrups available to help you on hop up. The beach stretched out before us and my horse seemed eager to run. Holding tight to the reins I clinched the sides of the horse with my knees. My legs felt every contraction of the animal’s muscles as he galloped along through the glistening surf. Truly that was such a lovely sensation I have difficulty finding the words to describe it. Freedom I suppose is would cover it nicely. A complete communion with another species might also say it well.

So I close the page on Day Six of my farm adventure. The end is now closer than the beginning and I remember feeling melancholy at the thought of leaving my adopted family and their lovely farm behind.

 

 

 

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I actually have an appointment this morning. I know! My appointment book has been as chaste as a novitiate for weeks. Today I am to have allergy testing. I’d be lying if I didn’t insert here that going outside in the big bad world feels a little off putting. My instructions were to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. K. Yesterday I cranked up my car and drove it for a bit both to remind myself driving was part of my routine and to give my car a chance to recharge it’s battery. When I came back I dragged the industrial size bag of potting soil I purchased several months ago around to the front yard and worked in the dirt for a couple of hours. People walked by and stopped to say hello or waved while I was out there and it felt less isolating and more like being part of a community.

While outside beneath the massive trees lining my property (well, mine as long as I deposit a rent check) I was serenaded by the sad song of a mourning dove. Movement on one of the branches overhead drew my eye to where I could see a dove perched on a large nest in the crook of a limb. Mom, or so I called her, I’m not clearly versed on how one goes about telling the difference in doves and wasn’t formally introduced, remained on the nest while her partner flew back and forth to the ground or to other trees gathering whatever he was bringing to the table. Soon I could see three dear little feathery heads pointed towards the sky beaks open so I’m assuming dad had been tasked with providing lunch. A friend called so I stopped for a moment and went in the house to take a break. Telling her of my sweet birds (yes, yes I realize they are of the earth and not actually mine but they are on my property so for now I shall lay claim to them), she said doves were a sign of peace and restoration. Boy, could we use that right now. She went on to suggest I purchase food and a feeder for the birds and then they would remain in my yard and make it their home. What a lovely thought. I do love birds and all creatures. However, after spending $8.99 for eggs yesterday and $12.99 for instant decaf coffee I am hesitant to take on the feeding responsibilities for other living things beyond Boo and myself.  Nonetheless I ordered both food and a feeder before I had time to talk myself out of it. C’est la vie.

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Going back outside to finish my potting I was pleasantly surprised how peaceful it made me to know the little family was settled in above me. Our world is populated with such incredibly beautiful and interesting wildlife. I never stop marveling at the vast selection of creatures provided for us to share space with and enjoy. When I was little my grandfather enrolled me in a course through the Audubon Society. Birds were a particular love for both him and my grandmother and this they shared with me. He and I would sit in his cozy den and study the different species of birds and their habitats. It was always special for me to spend time with the first important man in my life. Sadly we would only have seven years together before he passed away. My grandmother too was a bird fancier. Many of her knick knacks, which were plentiful, were decorated with birds.  When fall arrived I can remember walking behind my grandmother while she carried the red vinyl step stool to one of the huge trees shading our back yard. My job was to carry the net bag of suet which was going to be hung off a limb to feed the birds prolific in the trees where we lived.  Suet, for those of unfamiliar with the term is a mixture of fats and grains. From what I have read, it actually serves to keep the birds warm. In Nova Scotia this would be a plus in any form. Once the bag was suspended we would watch the birds from the dining room window as they circled down to pick pieces of the mixture out from between the holes in the netting. Funny, how some memories just stick like glue to your insides and remain there always.

Birds are interesting little beings with definite personalities, at least the domesticated variety. My friend Carol had a bird named Wilbur. Wilbur was a lovebird by description who shared a cage with his “wife”. I do not remember the female’s name but lovebirds, appropriately named, mate for life. The two were inseparable. Wilbur wiled away his days attending to his lady love while singing happily in his cage. The wife died unexpectedly one day leaving poor Wilbur devastated by her loss. They purchased another mate for him but he never warmed up to his new “wife” with anything near the fervor he had loved the first. The heart wants what the heart wants I guess spans all species.

I too have always considered myself a nester. My ex father-in-law told me once if he gave me a cardboard box and a ball of twine somehow I’d come up with a home. Home has always been a bit of an elusive commodity for me. Truth is I’ve never let a lot of grass grow under my feet. Having counted thirty-nine moves in my life hasn’t left much time for establishing deep roots.  That being said, it has been necessary to create “home” at whatever location I currently found myself in.

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While living in Longview, Washington with my ex husband home at the time was a motel room. Working a construction job at the lumber mill we knew on arrival our stay in the glorious northwest would most likely last under a year. To lease a place to hang our hat would most likely have required a one year commitment, not doable in our case. Also, with our household goods taking up space in a storage unit in the Bay Area we had nothing to furnish it with. So, we opted to stay with other construction types at a local motel catering to nomads such as ourselves. There were two rooms plus a bathroom in each generous sized “suite”. Ours was on the second floor overlooking the pool. Each unit had a sliding glass door leading out to the balcony which gave it more of an apartment vibe. There was a small refrigerator in the room off the bedroom/sitting room which comfortably held a sandwich and a quart of milk before feeling crowded. Since we would be there months rather than days I began to look for options for cooking in place and storing food as going out to dinner or picking something up every night was both expensive and is definitely not the healthiest option.

Having no utensils or cooking implements posed a problem. Someone suggested thrift shops. Up until then I had never stepped foot in one. What wonderful places to forage in. For a five dollar bill you could get a whole bag of mismatched silverware. Who knew such riches existed at the Salvation Army? I asked my husband to construct a makeshift three shelf unit with bricks and planks on an empty wall in our room. I filled the shelves with the mish mash of well loved pots and pans purchased with my bag of silver leaving the remaining shelves for food storage. After speaking to the motel owners about wanting to cook in the room they provided me with two two-burner hot plates to cook on.  This still left me with little room to store fresh items so once again I found myself standing in the motel office asking about refrigerator options. As miracles do, one showed up to help. The owner had an apartment size refrigerator in storage. The next day it was hooked up in our “spare” room. Yay. Before long I was cooking all all burners if you will. We made some great meals in that little room that year. My ex was an excellent cook. Hailing from southern Texas he made some delicious pots of gumbo or etoufee which we shared with neighbors who regularly followed the enticing smell to our door.

All in all it was an interesting experience that I will file in my memory book under “innovation”.

 

 

 

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Having trouble sleeping lately. Can’t imagine why. It’s not like anything weird or unsettling is going on around me that would contribute to my being being awake. Last night I was up on the hour. The cat, who sleeps on her pillow at the end of the bed, ate a whole bowl of food at 3 a.m. while I consumed my bowl of oatmeal. I’m going to have to get two sticks from the yard for us to roll each other around the house if I don’t stop getting my exercise by opening and closing the refrigerator door.

A dream finally got my feet planted on the carpet. Not a happy dream. I was wandering in the desert with no phone or idea where I was. When I woke up my bangs were stuck to my forehead. Must have been the high heat of the day where I was hiking. Always I have had vivid dreams, many of which I can recall in lurid detail. The more memorable will stick with me for a day or two as if for me to analyze and process them before letting them go. There are several recurring themes in my dreams of late. Bears once again have made a return to my rem world along with being lost and unable to find my way home. Hopefully neither is premonitory in nature. Bears continue to be a constant in my life. When I moved into my little house last May my landlady, who lives directly across the street, mentioned I should leave my trash cans behind the fence in the back yard. It seems bears have been known to forage in the area searching for something to snack on. Fortunately I have never had the pleasure of seeing one up close and personal. Her husband went on to add I should consider leaving the cat inside while living here. He said he had recently watched a coyote heading down the street with one of the neighbor’s cats dangling from its mouth. Thanks for sharing. We’re not in the wildnerness mind you, rather the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. However, we have invaded these animals territory not visa versa so I guess we need to learn to live and let live. Boo would not choose to go outside on the best of days so no worries there. A house cat she is and a house cat she will be, spoiled rotten til the end.

The neighborhood seems to have more animals than I realized before being isolated. Dogs pass by the window every few minutes probably getting more walks now that their owners are in forced residence. I have to say I have seen my neighbors in general much more during this pandemic. Not only are they riding by on bikes, or out walking but I actually see them in their back yards with their families playing games or doing yard work. It’s kind of nice for a change. Usually we are all so wrapped up in scurrying about we don’t stop to smell the roses both figuratively and literally.

It’s nice to have the sound of children laughing outside or people sharing a conversation. Since Rick has passed I find I need some noise in the house. The TV can drive you nuts after a while and certainly more so now with the news focusing solely on the virus and the devastation caused by it. I prefer something a little more uplifting like music. How you think definitely effects a person not only emotionally but physically so I prefer to keep my thinking a little loftier if just as a matter of health and well being.

I talked to my mom on Facetime yesterday. It is difficult not to be able to see her. I am so thankful she is not in an assisted living facility any more but rather a small board and care.  The opportunity there to pick up a hitchhiking germ is much smaller. With the dementia, having a conversation without a visual is far more difficult. She celebrated a birthday since the isolating started, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, along with several other family members so we are waiting until we are allowed out again to put together an appropriate rite of passage for these occasions.

One thing I have to say is not being able to access a store, even with Amazon and the big chains at my fingertips, my spending has gone down significantly.  My gas budget, one of my larger outlays during normal times, is nearly non existent which is really making a difference. I feel for the small business owners who are standing in empty stores or restaurants every day with no employees evident and no money coming in. Perhaps the worst of it is not knowing when they can open their doors again. Must be very disheartening.

I am also spending more time browsing the Internet. While wandering around on Facebook this morning I came across the picture below of the most gorgeous attic room. Immediately I was transported back to the house I grew up in in Nova Scotia. Houses built in colder climates often have basements as well as attics. Ours was no exception. Our basement as well as being a general catch all for winter sports equipment, was home to the the washer and dryer, an old ironing press, and an assortment of gardening necessities. The back wall of the basement served as a small shop devoted to my grandfather’s love of tinkering. On one side was a rustic wooden tool bench with a large peg board above it that displayed his tools dangling neatly from hooks alongside other ubiquitous wood shop items such as tightly rolled extension cords and a variety of paint brushes. As a child I never liked to go down the back stairs to the basement by myself. My mind, always entertaining an overactive imagination, could envision spiders repelling from the ceiling to slither down my back, rodents skittering across the cement floors, or even menacing bats swooping down out of dark corners. For several years I insisted alligators populated the space beneath my bed and should I have woken in the middle of the night with a hand draped over the side of my bed I always counted my fingers to make sure none of them had gone missing while I slept.

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The attic in the house was far more inviting. A key dangled out of the old keyhole though the door was never locked to my recollection. A huge angled window allowed light to flow in making the room both warm and friendly and made it easy to get around in. A large full length mirror in the corner was perfect for modeling the hats and clothing stored in the old chests in the corner. Long abandoned toys from my mother’s childhood and her siblings were stored in crates which I had permission to explore. I spent many an hour entertaining myself in that room making up stories to go with the mink stole I had draped around my neck or the hat with the netting pulled down over my face. Sometimes my grandmother would come up and bring me milk and cookies to enjoy with my dolls or sit with me for a while and tell me a story of her childhood growing up on a farm in Ontario. Those memories of the rooms in that house formed the strong foundation which I built my life on.

Funny how certain rooms appear to ask you in, while others encourage you to remain outside. Maybe it is the energy remaining there from years of visitors or residents passing through its portals leaving a bit of themselves behind. Even in this small dwelling I lean towards sitting in the living room or my cozy bedroom 80% of the time. Some entire houses wear an air of uncomfortability. Perhaps they might feel dark, or stifling, or possibly just have an aura of sadness about them.

I remember such a house when I was small. When I was about six my grandparents enlisted a family friend to teach me the piano. To say I am not gifted musically would be being kind at best. If I opened my mouth to sing I could empty an auditorium in less than five minutes, possibly less. Shirley Hoyt, the piano teacher they employed, was what my grandmother referred to as a “maiden lady”. She lived with an aunt who bore the same title which indicated in both cases the ladies had never married. Shirley was a generously cut woman who wore her spectacles perched at the tip of a nose which rose prominently above an upper lip adorned by a hint of a moustache. Her salt and pepper hair was always held in check in a tight bun at the nape of her neck with bobby pins trying to escape here and there. The most distinctive thing about Miss Hoyt, as a I remember at least, was the ever prevalent aroma of moth balls floating around her which always made me feel the need to pinch my nose. The house always smelled as though the windows had never been opened causing the air to assume a musty and stale kind of odor. Tapestries covered the furniture in the parlor where the piano was as well as the bench we sat on when I took my lessons. Sometimes when I sat down a cloud of dust would rise in the air as though the room hadn’t been attended to in years. After six months of patient instruction I retained one song, “We Three Kings of Orient Are” which I can still play to this day. Though I don’t remember much else about the lessons other than my teacher, I do remember the bungalow. Even as a child I thought of it as a place that felt lacking in luster and life perhaps reflecting it’s occupants. Shirley was a lovely lady I am sure. I always wondered what her story was, why she had never found her prince or at least a mate. Perhaps we aren’t all destined to pair off, though it seems by all appearances we animals tend to break off in two’s naturally. Too late by many years to know the true story of her life, I guess I will be left to my active imagination to fill in the blank spaces.

So today I shall enjoy my space as I hope you enjoy yours. A brisk breeze is blowing beyond my window and the flowers in my garden are leaning to one side and then the other as it comes and goes. Hopefully soon we can reenter our lives but I guess for now we should enjoy a little break in the routine allowing us to recapture our serenity.

 

 

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Last night my brain went into hyper drive. Hate when it does that. Up until now I’ve been a little nervous and had that “unsettled” feeling in the pit of my stomach about what’s going on but the seriousness of the situation sort of settled over me. If we actually had to huddle in place for eighteen months what would that look like? Small insignificant inconveniences began to occur to me. Not being able to get my hair cut or colored or have my teeth cleaned, for example. Both seem insignificant now but what will my pixie cut look like if this drags on as long as predicted? Am I going to be a long haired senior with outrageous roots and no teeth? What about vet visits for Miss Boo or the alarming lack of toilet paper or anything else for that matter in the stores?  Will whoever is hoarding the paper goods or is sitting on a pallet of hand sanitizer be in danger as the need for these items becomes more critical? Apparently gun sales are also up. Something to ponder when you’re staring at the ceiling at the middle of the night. So many questions floating around in the air with no answers in sight, or so it seems.

People who have their savings tied up in stocks are looking at a bleak market, as well as small businesses forced to either go to delivery or lay off their employees and shut their doors completely. Usually I am a consummate optimist but even my fairy dust spreader seems to be on the fritz the past few days.

On a slightly positive note, lest we all fall prey to despair here, we seem to be coming together as  a nation. Suddenly the division we’ve been experiencing over the last three years seems far less important than the situation we currently find ourselves immersed in. Countries normally at odds are being forced to work together to fight a common enemy and democrats and republicans have to lay down their swords and work toward a united goal. One thing I learned out of the pain of losing Rick a year and a half ago, there is always a gift hidden in suffering. Even though you often can’t see it while going through it, it will reveal itself.

Yesterday a dear friend came over. We meditated, which was extremely relaxing, and watched something funny on TV taking our minds off the world for a bit. I ordered books on line to fill the empty spots and took out a sewing project I have put off in lieu of other more pressing things I had penciled in on my schedule.  As the weather improves I’m going to begin to take a daily walk again. The only downside to owning a feline rather than a canine is they are resistant to joining you in an activity requiring actual exersion. Boo’s idea of a rigorous workout is walking from her bed to the feeding dish and back.

In the middle of all this uncertainty I try to find things to be grateful for. Thankfully, it isn’t summer yet. Not that I have anything against summer. As a kid I looked forward to the dog days more than any time of the year other than the holidays. That last day of school when you are released for three months to swim, stay up late and generally drive your parents to the liquor counter. It was a glorious freeing right of passage before having to face the pitfalls and responsibilities that come with achieving adulthood. However, these days summer in California signals fire season is on the move and PG&E hosted blackouts have become the standard of the day. This year I have a generator. I am most thankful for that. A friend is coming to help me understand how to use it. Times like this I do so miss having Rick to lean on but again I am thankful I am blessed wonderful friends who allow me to lean in their direction from time to time. For now there is food in my cupboard but the plan is to begin planting the large bed towards the back of the property so fresh vegetables are handy should there be a need. A plus of doing a project like this is that along with helping yourself keep fresh food on hand it occupies a busy mind for a while giving you a break from the stress swirling all around us.

Rain is returning to the area over the weekend. The dry soil is lapping it up like a thirsty dog after a long hike. Though not filling our cup it certainly has added to it so I am most thankful for this. With the weather seesawing from warm enough for short sleeves and shorts to chilly enough for sweaters and scarves it is hard to know what to take out of the closet. Today I will be thankful I have a closet with clothes hanging in it to choose from.

Each day I try to check in on my friends, in particular the ones who live by themselves and are more isolated than I am. If it weren’t for my asthma I would answer some of the calls for volunteers to deliver food to shut ins or help with distributing food at the food pantries. I have signed up for working away from direct contact so have been busy on my computer doing what I can when I can.

The doctors and nurses working on the front lines of this crisis are amazing. How difficult it must be for their families who are left to fend for themselves and worry about their loved ones. So, I include them in my prayers before closing my eyes at night.

This will pass as all bad things do but for now we are left to tune in the news in hopes of hearing a viable cure for this virus has been developed or stay inside and protect ourselves from a suddenly dangerous world. Keep the faith, or if that is not your bag at least try to keep positive. Anxiety is also a dangerous road so try to do things that relieve your mind for a bit to keep you from traveling down it 24 hours of the day.

Stay safe, be vigilant. Talk soon.

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Was looking at my car today and wondering how long I can keep it going before it will need to be replaced. A 2009 model with low mileage should be able to squeak by for awhile. Got me thinking about my first car, a 1960 Plymouth Valiant. My mother paid my roommate $100 for it and I feel she got taken to the cleaners…..my mother that is. What an eyesore. I’m surprised the neighbors didn’t get up a petition to prevent me from parking it on the street. Always looked to me like two cars stuck together with some Gorilla glue to create one whole vehicle.  There were buttons denoting the gears located on the side of the steering wheel. When I turned the right hand turn signal on the horn honked. It drew enough attention on it’s own without having this added draw built in. Still, it beat walking. When it was dark and I couldn’t see it parked out front I was secretly thankful at least to have wheels. My high school was two plus miles from home. On hot Southern California days it could seem more like ten when you were carrying books and on foot.

I do not form strong attachments to my vehicles. Rick, for example, affectionately called his red Corvette convertible, Lucille. Lucille was treated with the utmost respect during her tenure at our house. No greasy food entered her hallowed interior and one did not place dirty shoes or feet on anything without wiping them prior to getting in. Once I actually brought iced tea in a to-go cup in with me and was subjected to the “Lucille – Rule 14 – No Unauthorized Liquids – speech before pouring it out. Generally I refer to my car as well, my car. As long as it gets me from Point A to Point B, uses minimal gas, and comes equipped with a radio, heater, and air conditioner I’m a happy camper.

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One car, however, did capture my heart. In 1985 I got a Datsun 300ZX for my birthday. The exterior was a shimmering bronze color complimented by a luxuriously soft buttery leather interior. A five speed, my favorite, with a T-Top, she was a sleek and wonderful machine. The car was built for speed and pleasure, no work horse there. I lived in the Bay Area at the time and often took trips down to the LA area to visit friends. Driving down Highway 101 with the ocean following me to my right, the T-top open, and the wind playing in my hair was one of my life’s truly pleasurable experiences.

When I was a sophomore in high school my mother decided to purchase a new car. It was a black Ford Falcon convertible. Anyone under the age of dirt reading this is scratching their head going, Falcon?? What?

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In truth it was a huge step up from the turquoise and white Metropolitan parked in our garage up until then.  The Metropolitan, though cute, was so small it looked as though should be manned by a band of Munchkins. A two seater, it also boasted a rear seat which you had to be a contortionist to squeeze into. I attribute my great elasticity to this day to having to ride back there often when my mother had a friend up front. While in the Ford dealership mother told the salesman she had always wanted a convertible. Uh-huh. Now, to fully understand my confusion at this statement one would have to understand how important my mother’s hair was and continues to be to her. A huge pool resided in our backyard which she went in regularly. Well, she went on actually. Not a hair on her head was ever befouled by chlorine. A huge raft, which my step-brother referred to as the Queen’s Barge, was put into service when mother went swimming. Swimming was a really loose term for dangling her legs through the leg holes and kicking when she wanted to move around. The raft looked like a throne and had two cup holders in either arm to house her Manhattan should her mood be leaning in that direction. While she was in the pool other swimmers were not permitted to splash, kick or generally get her wet because after all why you want to get wet if you were floating in the water? The hair situation moves easily over to the question, then why a convertible? Obviously if you have the top down perfectly coifed hair isn’t going to remain that way.  The first time we tried it top down we hadn’t gone a block before we had to pull over and put it back up. Seeming to really want to participate in the convertible experience Mother took a drive to the local mall. While there she picked up two net “bonnets”. Both were black, tied under the neck, and equally unattractive. One had gold discs dangling from it that reflected the sun so intensely the light could probably be picked up by passing satellites. As you drove down the street a kaleidoscope of colors bounced off building walls. Russia probably had eyes on us as some kind of U.S. super weapon. Now, I was sixteen. Being seen with my parents when they weren’t embarrassing me was embarrassing enough but being seen driving about town with the top down with my mother wearing her reflective head gear was social suicide. We laugh about this now, but at the time I could only see any future beyond those days as looking lonely and bleak.

The only real knowledge I have of cars and their workings I learned in Drivers Ed when I was in high school. Amazingly some of the lectures stuck because I remember about pistons, and carburetors, and how engines are cooled. Everything is computerized these days. You don’t see boys bent over under open hoods anymore. When I was growing up that was what they did on Saturdays after mowing the lawn. Most of the kids I dated in high school showed up for a dance with a little grease under their fingernails.

Since Rick has passed I have had to learn to remind myself to get the oil changed, the car not mine, and check the tires. The last time I drove back from a trip the low tire pressure alert popped up on the dash. Not wanting to change a tire or have a flat I pulled off the freeway and found a station with an air bank in one corner. Only problem is not only did I not know how much pressure to put in but I had no idea how to do it. I know, you have my permission to feel sorry for me. Thankfully there was a man filing up his tires who was kind enough to do the same for me. I have added this to my ever growing list of things I need to learn before I forget what I’ve already learned. Sigh.

Life continues to find interesting nooks and crannies to explore. I am tackling my asthma situation head on even submitting to take medication as directed to get this cleared up. Air in the house gets checked on Monday. Not sure if I hope they find something or I hope they don’t. The former would narrow the field as to what’s making me act up.

Have a great and safe day!!

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I’ve felt a little discouraged this past week because my asthma, a problem that had supposedly resolved itself some seven years ago, has decided to act up again. For those of you who have suffered with asthma or know someone who does you will know anything effecting your breathing can literally take the wind out of your sails. Walking, something I try to fit in every day, has had to be shelved until I get my breathing in check. Don’t want to scare the neighborhood children on their was to school by walking by with my mouth hanging open gasping for air like a recently hauled in wide mouthed bass.

If you knew me at all you might be aware that asking for help is not my strongest suit. However, yesterday I was struggling with the wheezing to the point I made an appointment with urgent care and showed up at the allotted time. The doctor was both attentive and conversational, discussing my problem with me in detail and offering a number of suggestions for treatment. I know! One of his suggestions was to have the air quality checked in my house for contaminants. Secretly I had been thinking about this myself. This is a rental. I sold my home nearly a year ago to move down out of the mountains to be closer to more accessible shopping and farther away from fire danger. The first month I was in here a tree branch punctured the sewer line causing an sewer overflow in the master bathroom and master closet that required the county and a hazmat team to become involved to remedy the situation. Somewhere in the back of my mind, though I was told it was completely abated, I have been wondering if perhaps they missed something. Sigh. The expression “jumping from the frying pan into the fire” comes to mind here. I will have to speak to the owners. Not my favorite job. My landlords live in huge restored Victorian right across the street. It is my understanding they have seven additional rentals scattered about the area so though I have never seen their financials I am pretty sure they are not stressing where their next meal is coming from. That being said they are not easy with a dollar. The husband does all the repairs while the wife manages the properties, and though he is always very helpful she tends to get an expression like she’s just sucked a lemon every time I mention something that needs looking after.

There are days when it feels like I take two steps forward and one step back. Each morning I begin my day either with affirmations or by reading something positive from the variety of motivating reading material I keep next to my bed. Rather than dwell on what isn’t, I try very hard to focus on the positive of what is. However, sometimes I just want to throw my hands up in the air and indulge in a full on out of control temper tantrum complete with obscene language and foot stomping, exactly what I gave into yesterday while the cat huddled under the bed. My therapist once told me I was not good at releasing anger.  Last night she would have been very proud of the progress I’ve made.

So, today I will research how one goes about having the air checked in your home. I know there are monitors available for doing it yourself or there are professionals who will do it for you. Being on my own has taught me a lot about being proactive. When you have a partner there is always someone there to shoulder part of the load. When they are gone it is up to you to do what needs to be done as things show up on your plate. Have to admit it is a little unnerving not to be able to catch your breath when you are alone.  Trusting that things will turn out as they are meant to be is a lesson I am working on. All I can do is do my best and have faith life will unfold as will. Another test I intend to pass as I learn to travel this new road I am carving out in my life.

On a high note my replacement green card finally arrived in the mail last week. It took just a little over a year for it to come. Wow. A turtle traveling from the Florida Keys could have gotten it here faster. Next I am going to explore getting dual citizenship. At the moment I only hold Canadian. I have lived here since I was in pigtails so I believe it is long past time. Even my dear mother who believed Abraham Lincoln to be the first president of the United States passed the test so I believe with a little cramming I could make this happen too. The biggest problem for me is the expense but I have included it first on my to do list for my 2021 budget under PRIORITY.

Nova Scotia was my point of origin so I hold tight to it. Being a rolling stone most of my life “home” has been an elusive element for me so my Canadian heritage has filled the gap. Still in my dreams I’ll find myself walking down the street towards my Grandmother’s house where I spent my childhood. I can picture it now as well as I could when I was small. Nine when I left, certainly I have wandered far and wide since then but still when asked about my roots Nova Scotia is always incorporated in the answer. Truly it is a lovely province with so much to offer if you’re planning a trip. Always I am surprised the picturesque fishing villages remain much the same from visit to visit, and the sea surrounding the peninsula on three sides still calls my name.  Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like had I remained there but that was not the plan for me. Had I not come to California my children wouldn’t be who they are and I wouldn’t trade them for anything so I’m glad my life laid down the way it did. Still, the craggy rocks and abandoned lighthouses seem as familiar as if I’d visited yesterday. Guess I’d better add another trip to my bucket list now that I have the documents to allow me to travel.

 

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This past weekend was a busy one. Fitting everything in felt like trying to shove a size 10 foot into a size 8 shoe. Funny how some weekends can prove so uneventful I keep checking the phone to see if it’s charged and the highlight of my Saturday might be rearranging my sock drawer. Then, the following weekend I might offered up five options on how to spend my days with the cat complaining she’s not getting enough “mom time”. Last night I was sooooo tired my head hit the pillow at 10 and remained in the exact same position for the next eight hours. This is a good thing. Sleep has become as elusive for me as the truth flowing from a candidates mouth of late. So, when I actually do log eight hours of uninterrupted sleep it is cause for extreme celebration at my house. The cat, particularly excited when I remain in bed, usually carries the balloons because she sleeps at the end of the bed and gets up every time I do because she’s afraid she might miss something.

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When I don’t get enough sleep I have noticed I begin to do stupid things. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you would already know this is not out of character for me, but I mean particularly stupid things. This morning, for example, I spilled coffee on my new jeans. Normally I would use cold water to release a coffee stain, but this works only if you don’t use cream and sugar which I do. So, I grabbed the stain remover out of the closet above the washer and dryer and gave my pants a liberal dosing. Once the area was saturated I noticed the can I was holding read “Spray Starch”. My pants may still have the stain on them after I wash them, but they will have the capability to stand up in the closet without wasting a hanger.

Yesterday I was brushing my hair when the brush mysteriously flew out of my hand landing in the toilet.  Needing to sanitize it somehow my solution was putting it in the dishwasher. Note to self, “brushes with plastic points do not do well in extremely hot water”. When I retrieved it it was one solid unit with tiny plastic projectiles poking out here and there. Whatever. Next I opened a brand new lipstick. Somehow while applying it the base containing the lipstick also ended up in the toilet bowl. What is happening! Is there an unnamed entity living in the toilet willing all beauty products into it’s den? There was no recovery for the lipstick so, I deposited a brand new $16 lipstick in the trash bin alongside the molten remains of my brush and vowed to get some sleep. I also closed the lid on the toilet lest I accidentally deposit my purse in there by the the end of the day.

Maybe I’m just getting older. I try to eliminate labels, and attempt to keep the “O” word out of my conversations. How you view yourself is often the image you create. I do not feel old, even though certainly according to my birth certificate I am no longer young.  When I go to the movie theater these days my ticket says “senior” and this does not indicate I am graduating next year. To add to the mix I keep hearing from physician’s when asked about an ailment, “as you get older, blah, blah, blah”. As I said, I am aware I am not twenty any more. My house does have mirrors in both bathrooms, but is this fact the answer to every question? The original plan, or so it has been explained to me by medical professionals, was that we humans were not designed to use these bodies as long as we are doing now. Thus, our parts are wearing out before our minds do. I get that, really I do, but really?

When I took my mother in to get her hair done yesterday the stylist was commenting she has three ladies at 100+ who come in weekly to get their do’s done and a much larger number of ninety something ladies. Now I’m not saying that’s my mom’s age because she had me sign a non-disclosure agreement as soon as I was able to write my my name, but let’s just say we’re in the ball park and leave it at that. The fact is people are definitely living longer. As I’m on the downside of the middle of my life I vote for that as long as I am viable and contributing in some way I’d like to stick around to finish the game, so to speak.

When I do lame things such as those mentioned above I begin to wonder if my brain is starting to have a short or two preferring to think some sleep might solve the problem in this case. It’s not that I can’t fall asleep. Generally when my head hits the pillow lights are out upstairs nearly immediately but I can’t maintain that deep sleep level. Solutions must be sought or God only knows what I might do down the road. At any rate I shall put sleep to bed for a while if you don’t mind and go on to other things. Sorry for the pun.

As mentioned the coffers are getting low and it is time for Susie to begin looking for a part-time job. Every time I open a job search website and begin a search I end up either making  a sandwich or playing a game on my cell phone after about ten minutes. This is indicative, I believe, of my lack of interest in the available jobs that are posted. Caregiver comes up often on the search pages. After some years of first hand experience at this I would probably be qualified but for now I need a little respite from this type of work so I have crossed this off the possible list. My talents lie in graphics but there aren’t a lot of part-time jobs in this field at least in the area I live. Perhaps there is something to pursue as far as working from home in this venue but as yet I haven’t come across it. Thankfully I’ve kept my skills up by volunteering which at least makes me qualified even if my resume doesn’t reflect any recent work experience. My mind keeps chanting, “find a niche and fill it”. But what? The Internet gives everyone the opportunity to reach such a vast audience but you have to have a compelling message and a business plan and it seems at the moment I have neither A nor B. Sigh. Truth is I don’t really want to do what I have done but rather step outside of the lines drawn around my comfort zone and try something new. A therapist told me years ago when discussing a fear I had about trying something or other, “Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen?”. I like this thought and use it often. If I pursue something and don’t get it, am I any worse off then when I started out? The answer would be no. This I accept intellectually but sometimes my ego steps in and beats the heck out of intellect so the internal strife tends to get in the way of me putting this thought into action. I shall persist.

There are so many things beyond working I wish to accomplish with my life. Coming up with an excellent way to create revenue would open up the opportunity to pursue these as well. I have yet to see the Grand Canyon. I want to visit the Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale and would love to zip line in the Amazon. For Rick, who hails from Cairo, I would love to visit Egypt and while flitting about the area Italy and Greece are on my list of wonders to see as well. Truly if I had the wherewithal I would be writing these excerpts from exotic points all over the world.

For now, however, bereft of an amazing idea I am a work in progress. Hopeful and moving forward but still living in my little house in Northern California with my spoiled old puddy cat. This too will change and morph as all things do, but for today I shall be grateful for what I have not bemoan what I do not.

Have a great one.

 

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