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Archive for the ‘aging parents’ Category

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Yesterday I spent my afternoon culling out the clothes from my wardrobe I haven’t given so much as a glance to in over a year.  This was prompted by a discussion I had with a friend visiting for a couple of days. She has been maintaining a storage unit for several years after downsizing from a house to an apartment. Along with yard tools the 10 x 8 space is used for housing surplus household goods she no longer has room for. It seems the storage unit is a bone of contention with her son who views it as a hefty monthly outlay for storing items she hasn’t looked at since the Ice Age. Additionally, she admitted when she needs something she has tucked away somewhere, rather than search through every box to locate it she has been repurchasing the item. So, now she has not only one but two of everything to find a place for. I suggested since she hasn’t missed or has replaced most of her possessions in storage why not donate them or toss them. What? Get rid of my precious belongings. Never!! Hello?

Rick and I had a long discussion about the importance of things prior to his passing away. None of it mattered at all to him at that point. He took nothing with him on his journey but all the love he had shared and his memories. Everything else was left behind on the physical plane. Sometimes I wonder why we feel the need to amass so much around us.  Comfort, certainly, but it’s more than that. You could be comfortable in a little two bedroom house with a cozy living room and a rather plump cat. I am as a matter of fact. Someone asked me the other day what I’d do if I found myself suddenly wealthy. Wake up, most likely, but in truth I have a pretty good idea of what I’d do. There is no part of me that needs or desires a huge palatial estate with twelve bathrooms and a bowling alley. Perhaps that is why I am sitting here at my modest table writing this blog. This is not coming from any feelings of jealously with regard to those who live that high priced existence but rather that I have little interest in doing so myself. If miraculously my bank account grew an extra six or seven zeroes on the end of it’s balance, I believe I would buy houses for my children, then purchase a small cottage for myself with lots of windows perched on a dune overlooking the sea. A large sunny kitchen and a fireplace would be fabulous and at least two bathrooms in case I have guests. Then I would travel every inch of the world I could fit into my schedule in between time spent with my children and their families. That would be the ideal way to spend the remaining years allotted to me if riches were in my future. Anyone with a crystal ball pointing in that direction please jump in here and let me know if I should begin to pack.

Serendipity being what it is while we were entertaining the storage unit discussion “Hoarders” showed up on the TV following whatever show we’d tuned in to. Mesmerized we watched out of control “collectors” have to face their reality once the houses they lived in became totally unmanageable or downright dangerous. One woman had a plethora of cats who had liberty to pee and poop wherever they found an open spot. Sadly two of them were discovered in mummified states as the clutter was unearthed and carted away.  If you have to create a pathway to navigate your house you might be hoarder. Had a friend in West Virginia who kept everything from the first spoon her little boy used to every report card, each picture he drew, various stages of clothing, and every single card he ever gave her. You can’t keep everything. Those memories can be stored in your heart always but perhaps not in your basement or crawl space. After watching the destruction on hoarders my friend vowed to go home and go through her storage unit and eliminate most of it.

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I heard someone say once America is a country of extremes. That we swing widely from one side to the other. That being said on the opposite side of the coin from the collectors would be the minimalists. Some even qualify as compulsive declutterers. I have a friend married to a lady who gets rid of things the instant they arrive. Unable to abide any clutter at all even the mail has to be collected by him so anything of importance doesn’t end up in the trash can before it can be attended to. Their living room is so sparsely decorated it always gives the appearance they have either just moved in or are preparing to move out. It’s the middle ground for me. Not a clutterer by any means, I need a throw pillow or two, a little color here and there, a magazine or two in evidence and bare walls flat out depress me. My decorating schemes are earthy tones, with contrasting fabrics and designs. I like to sink into my environment and find comfort after a long day in the trenches.

Honestly I have let go of so much over the past ten years. Sometimes I see more of my things when I visit friends and family then I do when I’m in my own home. Many of my pictures, linens, dishes and decorative items were given away or sold during my transition from the house in the high country to the wee house I inhabit today. I don’t mind at all. When I visit I say a silent hello and am glad to see them but I have no place to put them now and like to think someone I love is enjoying them. A friend of mine has a motto I like, “keep the best and leave the rest”. She lives her life that way.  Her closet is composed of interchangeable outfits enhanced by clothes she rents on a monthly basis. Let me preface, I’m not there yet and haven’t even entered the neighborhood. My closet is full and these are just the winter clothes. My summer wardrobe is stored in plastic bins in my shed. I’m still a work in progress. I do believe the beginning of changing a behavior is first acknowledging you are doing it, and second be willing to either improve how much you do it or stop doing it all together. I am on step one. My mother’s love of clothes slopped right over onto me and stuck like tar on a hot day. Sigh.

We all have things we are working on.  I have friends who’s love of shoes leans toward needing a twelve step program. What was it I believe Aristotle said avoid extremes of all sorts and seek moderation in all things. I’m working on it, I’m working on it.

Have a great uncluttered day!

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

Funny tired person pictures

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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I am approaching the midway point of the second year since Rick, my significant other of twenty years, passed away from lung cancer. Since the second week I have been regularly attending a grief group. Such lovely people they are, each special in their own way.  Though the cast varies as new people are added, and old ones fade into the distance, the message resonates, “you can do this”. Our facilitator, a lovely woman in her early eighties, lays out a roadmap of what to expect as the months unfurl. Those participants involved the longest prop up the newest ones, providing wisdom they acquired on their journeys and hope for a brighter future. The familiar faces have become more family then friends. Together they provide a bridge to help you make your way to your new life. I highly recommend finding a group such as this should you be faced with a loss. It may take a few tries to find one that suits your particular needs but if you take the time it is well worth the trouble.

The first year, for me at least, passed in a blur. The first weeks even months I dealt with the details one has to tie up when a person passes away.  A sort of protective numbness slips over you during this time deflecting or at least blunting some of the deep soul wrenching pain involved with such a loss. The second year, where I find myself now, our facilitator says can sometimes be the “lonely” year.  The numbness now worn off, the spotlight shines brightly on how life is going to look now that your loved one is not in it. Acceptance often arrives during this phase. Accepting that the person you love is gone in the physical sense and you are left to plot out your future on your own. The third year is when you begin to build on the foundation you’ve begun in the first two years. You cannot circumvent the feelings and bypass the grieving process or whatever you have tucked down deep inside will simply resurface at another time and place. Of all information I have been given during this process this is the most valuable. You must work through the pain to get past it.

Today illuminated this for me quite clearly. My doctor ordered a fasting blood test. Hate these. I tend to roam about in the middle of the night with the owls and spirits. Fasting means waking up to no coffee in my cup and no breakfast forthcoming until the lab is open for business. Needless to say I am not always a good sport about this. Uncharacteristically, as I said I tend to move the things I least like to do to the first of the line, I put this off until the last possible day. Looking up the labs available on the Internet I found one in my network open a 7 a.m. That’s for me. Outside the temps hovered just above freezing. My breath proceeded me down the walkway toward my cold car. Cranking the heater up to broil I wrapped my fingers around the icy steering wheel and headed towards town. The sun was up but had not made it’s full presence known yet, so misty shadows hung about mingling with the remnants of yesterdays winter storm. Several clouds parted allowing a few glimpses of daylight to shine through as I drove along the backroads without many other vehicles for company. “Coffee” my mind chanted along with the ZZTop song playing on the radio. “Yes, yes. I’m working on it.” What a nag my mind can be when it doesn’t get it’s creature comforts.

Reaching my destination I pulled my puffer coat tightly around me and scurried into the warm building. Three other brave souls were ahead of me so I picked up a magazine. As usual the date on the front indicated it had been printed when Eisenhower occupied the oval office. No other reading material in sight other than Field and Stream, I opened to the first page to catch up on what Mamie was up to. Shortly a young woman in a lab coat called my name. Pumping a dollop of disinfectant in my palm, I followed her through the door. That magazine looked like it had seen a lot of love since it came to reside in the waiting room, wanted to be sure I didn’t offer any of it’s germy inhabitants a ride. Coming from a doctor’s family this seems to be permanently ingrained in my brain. Perhaps it’s a good thing.

Poked and bandaged I was in and out in ten minutes. Hopping into my car I noticed a chain restaurant across the street Rick and I used to frequent.  Seemed like another lifetime ago, and I guess in truth it was. We owned the restaurant back then, and lived an hour and a half away from where I am now. Breakfast out before the roosters crowed was always a fun if both of us were up early. For a moment I considered going in and getting a table, then thought better of it. My mind was now screaming at me, “Get me some coffee, and I’m not kidding here. I will punish you”. Still, I slowed down at the driveway and then continued on my way. Not today. Not quite ready yet. Gave myself some prompts for going and getting my blood work done and getting as far as I have with my grief work. When I got home I pushed “brew” on my coffee maker and poured some cereal in a bowl. There’s a learning curve to all this and some days are harder than others. The fact that the hardest ones are now behind me helps me to get through the ones that still show up periodically to tell me I’m not through the mine field yet.

To add to the pot I worry about losing my mother. Time with her has dwindled as the dementia continues to deepen making it less safe to take her out of her environment for long periods of time. I grieve this as well and try to wring as many memories as I can out of each visit to hold me when the visits cease to be. You cannot dwell on death, however. As they say, “life is for the living”. Neither can you avoid it or pretend it isn’t there. As we get older time begins to take on more importance because there is less of it left. The need to do or say what we have not feels more urgent then in younger days.

In a state of gratitude is where I try to find myself. I am blessed in so many ways. Gratitude is something I practice every morning before beginning my day.  You don’t have to look hard to find something to be thankful for. If you can see the computer sitting before you, you can begin there, for some people cannot.

Some things we have no control over such as death, but others we do. Beginning our days on an optimistic note or choosing to look for the dark cloud on the horizon has everything to do with how the day unfolds. I read earlier if you expect only good things, only good things will come your way. Being a bit of a realist I will have to work on this one. I did find it a lovely thought though and a great way to jump start my day. So, I expected the 49ers to win and guess what they did!! As usual they offered up a bit of a nail biter at the end of the fourth quarter, but our boys showed up and that’s all that counts. Rick did not want to leave before the 49ers went to the Super Bowl but he had to go so those of us who loved him shall represent in 2020 when they go against Kansas City, How exciting.

I wanted to share this ridiculously simple dip that my dear friend shared with me. I have taken it twice to football parties over the past month only to have it disappear nearly before I set the bowl on the table. It’s easy as to be embarrassing when asked to share the recipe. With minimum effort and maximum crowd appeal I guarantee you will be a star if you serve it. I tripled the recipe for the last party and was looking at the bottom of the bowl before I got the second bag of tortilla chips open.

Avocado Salsa

2 ripe avocados large diced
1 container Rojos Restaurant Style or Homestyle Salsa (Hot to Mild depending on preference-I use mild)Tortilla chips

About one hour prior to serving, dice avocados in bite sized pieces. Gently fold in salsa. Serve with chips.

Serves 4

 

 

 

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Recently I spent the weekend with a dear friend of mine in the San Jose area. Packing the car it seemed there were an excessive amount of bags for a three day trip. Starting to think I’d have to rent a trailer, I called her jokingly suggesting she add a wing to her house before my arrival to accommodate the load. In my defense we share different tastes, so extra items had been added to my list of usual personal carryalongs. My preference in bread is wheat, she prefers sourdough. Thus, a loaf of wheat bread was tucked in a bag along with various snacks like my Salt and Vinegar Pringles, an absolute necessity for any decent road trip. A couple of honey crisp apples were included for an afternoon pick me up as my pal is not a fan of fruit and I can’t leave home without it. Since she drinks only tea, it became clear a coffee maker would be necessary if I was to provide adequate company. Naturally, if I included the coffee maker I’d need coffee, filters, and creamer. My landlords were peeking through their drapes as I went back and forth from the house to the car most likely wondering if I was moving out. Surely I could have gone three days without my early morning cup of Joe, but as we age the patterns we’ve established during our lives become more firmly etched in our personalities and in my case the word coffee is emblazoned across my forehead.

We all have certain indefinable traits stuck to us like a bug to flypaper. If you asked my family to describe me they might choose any number of adjectives (some I can’t use here), but they might also include neat. Piles of papers stacked around, or layers of unaddressed dust make me twitchy. Most likely this trait was passed down from my mother, and will be one I’ll carry though to the end. Mum is neat to the point of obsessive. When in the hospital for her fractured hip, dementia or no dementia, she still sat in the bed and folded everything she could get her hands on from bed pads to extra paper towels and placed them neatly in her drawers. That need for tidiness surpassed all the misfiring pistons in her memory center because it is part of the core of her being.

Over the past year with only Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, and I in residence I have probably begun to establish a sort of loose schedule of my own. At around 5:30 you could lay some safe money on finding me seated on my couch with the cat stretched out beside me, cup of decaf in hand, watching David Muir detail what is happening in the world. I usually put a plate in front of me around 6:00 and begin getting ready for bed around 9:00. Not really set in my ways yet but setting the stage for what could be described as that at some juncture further on down the road.

Several of my single friends, both single for many years, tell me they are so set in their ways they cannot imagine anymore having someone else under their roof. I can not only imagine it, but hope the universe chooses to direct my life towards another relationship when the time is ready.  I enjoy sharing my life with someone and waking up in the morning to a loving face over coffee. I just do, but that is me. Each of us plots our own course (to whatever control we have). It has only been a year and a half since Rick passed. For now, I am definitely not ready to share space with anyone new on anything other than a casual basis.

Companions come in many forms. Some people get roommates, others like myself enjoy a furry friend to hang with, and perhaps some people find contentment looking at a tank filled with fish. I do wish our pets had a longer time on earth, but the plan didn’t include that and I don’t know where to find the suggestion box. Earlier a friend called to tell me his old dog had passed away. Feeling his pain, as I have some experience saying goodbye to beloved animals, I did my best to provide something by way of comfort. Love comes with a price no matter who the love is bestowed upon. Another friend told me recently she didn’t want any more animals because losing them is too painful. I feel differently about this. For me they give us so much of themselves and provide such comfort I think as hard as it is to let them go I will always choose to have them near for whatever time I am allotted. My animals have often been with me well into their senior years. I feel blessed for that. Kitty, the oldest of my many felines, was twenty-one when I had to have her put down. Over the years she traveled all across country with my ex-husband and I. Settling herself in the back window of the car she took turns sleeping or sitting watching as the states passed by beyond the glass. When she needed out she let us know with a distinct meow and we would pull over to allow her to do what she needed to do. I always say a little bit of Kitty has been left behind in nearly every state in the U.S. Truly she was a seasoned and excellent traveler and I will always treasure those crazy road trips with her and my Shih Zsu, Sushi, who said goodbye at seventeen. Lifelong companions, my heart likes to think of the two of them walking along together wherever wonderful animals go and I’m always thankful for them gracing my life for the time they were here.Even though in the physical sense people or animals no longer populate our lives, their “beings” and lingering presence always remain close by. This, at least for me, provides much peace.

While down in the Bay Area I grabbed the opportunity to visit an old friend diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. This was a very personal visit for me because it was Rick’s diagnosis as well, and Ruth, my friend, is a dear and lovely human being. Last I saw her she was a robust healthy lady who avidly pursued a tennis ball every weekend with her tennis club and sang in the community choir. Always Ruth struggled with her weight but I’d been forewarned the disease had reduced her to a much smaller version of herself. In my grief group they stress putting on your game face when visiting someone who is terminally ill. The person you know rests inside the shell but sometimes the disease can redraw your image of them. Certainly in Ruth’s case the bone thin woman who answered the door looked little like the friend I remembered. Sitting with her for several hours I forgot completely about the physical change rather being amazed at her upbeat attitude and the light that shone on her skin and in her beautiful blue eyes. We shared memories and pictures before it was time to go. Hugging her as I was going out the door my body was instantly covered with goosebumps head to toe. Pulling back she felt it too. “Someone is here”, she said softly. The heightened energy sort of hung in the air between us. Perhaps one of our friends already gone ahead had returned to take her hand to guide her to next adventure? Who knows? Certainly not I, but I would like to think it so.

With life coming in and going out I try to be in the present. Embracing this concept is sometimes a struggle for me. Naturally, I believe our minds drift to past mistakes, or wander into the misty unknowns of what is in store for us tomorrow or next week. Since the past will remain unchanged and the future is yet to be written, it would seem the only logical course would be to make the most of the moment you are presently inhabiting.

My thoughts on this gray day in Northern California. Make it a good one.

 

 

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broken-glasses

Read an article this morning warning prescription drug prices are going up again. Really? You mean they haven’t already hit the ceiling? I have basic coverage, gap coverage, and drug coverage which I pay dearly for. With all that you’d think I’d be covered for anything short of a nuclear holocaust. Yet, when I arrive at the prescription counter I get charged if the medication I have been prescribed is not on a tier my plan pays for. When I filled a prescription last year for an asthma inhaler I have been using for some time it had gone up from $47 from my previous refill to $97. When I asked why, the pharmacy assistant shrugged. ?? Que es shrug? What if I didn’t have $97, should I just breathe less? Possibly I could breathe more slowly to conserve oxygen? What do people do who simply cannot pay these prices? Die? This is so wrong to me in a nation of plenty I seriously could break down a cardboard box, write something scathing across it to our lawmakers, crazy glue it to a stick and march in front of the capital building. Why are we as consumers so apathetic? I’m as guilty as the next person. The last topical medication prescribed by my dermatologist came in at a whopping $298.00. Did I say, “no, I will not pay that ridiculous amount”? I did not, because I needed the medication to manage the problem with my skin and there was no generic option available. What the answer to this is I have no clue, but if it is true only 1% of the Americans are holding onto the money in this illustrious country of ours I can’t help but feel many Americans are going to feel the pinch of this increase.

Ahhhh, thank you for letting off steam. Wouldn’t want you to see my face emblazoned across the screen on the five o’clock news. Crazed blonde attacks pharmacist with cardboad sign. Film at eleven. 

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Over the weekend I took a little time off from everything and turned my car towards the Bay Area. It was only for a few days R&R at a friend’s house but I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to change the scenery for a bit. Her home perches on the precipice of a lower foothill peak offering up a view of the entire San Jose area. During the day you oversee the valley below packed tightly with office buildings and homes then as night falls it transforms into what appears to be an endless blanket of glistening stars. The property is replete with fruit trees heavily populated with morning doves as well as the most prolific population of hummingbirds I have yet to see. A glorious place to unwind and dust off the cobwebs. She shares her digs with two of the cutest little furry creatures, Mali and Phoebe, both Yorkshire terriers who took to me like honey to a muffin. If it wasn’t for the fact that dogs require so much more attention than cats, I would have to own one of my own. For a small breed they were not the least yippy as I might have suspected. Never heard anything out of them beyond a polite “ruff” when it was time for a treat. Phoebe, the elder and larger of the duo, is seven and a rescue. Mali, a breeder pup, weighs in at a little under three pounds, is three years old and holds to the opinion the house belongs to her as well as all the attention. The two of them kept me really entertained while I was visiting.

As usual my trip was not without mishap. I broke down and got new glasses over the holidays.  I have had to have them replaced twice due to defects in the makeup of the delicate frames. According to the optometrist rimless frames such as these are a nightmare for their profession. Sometimes beautiful fragile things are lovely to look at but difficult to possess. Perhaps someone should have mentioned that before I paid for them rather than after, yes? At any rate, I picked up the third pair last week. While adjusting them the optometrist said “three’s a charm”. Not so fast. Sigh. Before I pull the covers over my head I usually read a few chapters out of whatever book I am in the middle of. My room while visiting was her sewing room furnished with a couch hiding an amazingly comfortable bed already folded out and ready for me to hop into.  Apparently I dozed off glasses in place. Somewhere in the night either I took them off placing them on the carpet or they fell off the bed while I was doing what Rick referred to as my breaching while asleep. I woke up before the sun. The room was pitch dark so I fumbled for the light switch which I couldn’t locate. Swinging my legs over the side and planting my feet firmly on the ground I heard an unpleasant crunch. Damn. Having honed stupid accidents to a fine point I managed to annihilate not one but both lenses while wrenching off one arm. The patient, shall we say, was terminal. Thankfully it was on the day I was leaving so at least I had them while I was there. However, there was the problem of driving home without them. Before my cataract surgery that would have been tantamount to handing Mr. Magoo the keys but thanks to the wonders of laser surgery I can see well, not perfectly, but well without my glasses. Sooooooooo back I went yesterday to order the fourth pair. Note to self, “Never Order Rimless Frames Again”. Done and done.

In spite of the vision issues the drive home was glorious. The route I took snaked around the Sacramento Delta taking me across two drawbridges before I merged back on to Interstate 5. Sometimes I find it so soul soothing driving along on a bright sunny day with no agenda in mind other than getting home whenever the car pulls into the driveway.  Seems like I’m often going full to the floor so I took advantage of the quiet time not pressing down too hard on the accelerator.

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The year has begun in a flurry of activity and this month promises to carry that baton to the finish line. Three trips out of town are written on the calendar. My pet sitter will be able to take a trip of her own once I’m done paying her to watch Miss Boo. I always feel guilty leaving my feline best buddy. When Rick was alive I often went on these side trips solo so he was there to man the fort and provide company for her nibs while I was absent. These days Boo and I are batching it and since she is an abysmal traveling companion, pet sitting it must be for the time being.

In keeping with my vision issues I went to the doctor this morning to get my eyes examined. Been having some night vision problems. Coming from a doctor’s family you’d think I’d be better about personal maintenance, but when it comes to me I seem to have a habit of putting things off. It’s not that this type of appointment generally involves any pain of note but I just hate getting my eyes dilated. I am particularly susceptible to the drops they use and end up having eyes with a yellow tinge to the whites and pupils huge and totally black, an effect which can last for hours. Today was no exception. On the way out they hand you a pair of plastic dark lenses to slip behind your glasses because as well as looking like a cat from the underworld your eye or eyes become highly sensitive to light. Stepping out into the morning sun I groped around for my keys in my purse and once seated in my car gauged if I felt I was safe to pilot it.  This assessment was really kind of a moot point because unless I’d brought a lunch and a couple of bottles of water I was going do just that or sit in the car for twelve hours waiting for my pupils to return to normal.

The moment I stepped in the door the phone rang. It was my mother’s caregiver telling me my mom had a respiratory bug and I needed to take her to the doctor. I just drove half blind from close to where she lives so this was not the best news. So 2020 begins with a bang. I shall get my pedaling shoes out and hop on. Let’s see where the path takes me, well, once I can again see where the path takes me.

 

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Well now we’ve stepped in it, 2020 I mean. Here we are in a brand spanking new decade with the days laid out in front of us pristine and untouched. Such a heady feeling. Can’t hide my curiosity about what 2020 will bring. Diligently I try to keep my thoughts focused on the journey rather than concentrating on the outcome. Sometimes I have to admit I fight an overwhelming urge to skim to the back of the book and see how the story has unfolded. This is not for us to know, of course, only to speculate. Would I open an envelope if I knew the outcome was concealed inside? Probably not, but I can’t help but wonder how the heroine makes out towards the end of the story.

A new year with new discoveries. What new technological breakthroughs will we enjoy this decade? Someone with a bright and curious mind is sitting somewhere as I write this hatching an idea destined to change the way we do things in the future. There will always be that group of forward thinkers able to conceptualize what isn’t and bring it into what is. Thank God for these creative motivated people or we’d all still be sitting in the dark whacking each other over the head with wooden clubs or, God forbid, be functioning in our offices without Post-it Notes.

Interesting to imagine further down the road what our world will look like at the end of this decade. 2030. Seems inconceivable. Will hovercrafts be floating around overhead, perhaps a manned mars expedition, an alien sighting, androids in the workplace or at home, or phones implanted in our ears at birth? The latter is almost here I feel, as most people I know maintain a deeper and more meaningful relationship with their phones then they share with their spouses or life partners. I have a friend who misplaced his IPhone the other day and nearly broke down in tears when he finally located behind the tissue box in the bathroom. You’d have thought his child had gone missing. This attachment I have to say baffles me, but I am also working on not judging this year so I will table that conversation for another day. It is so much easier to see other people’s flaws I find then to identify my own.

I plan to stray off the path a little this year. Life is too short to maintain the same course for the entire trip. Definitely I have a list of places I want to see. I do wish the powers that be would move my travel paperwork along but they seem to be following that government snail path that any form they issue has to adhere to so I may have to be carried by litter by the time my replacement card arrives.

Our littlest member, Zeppelin, now a year and three months, has discovered that his legs as well as bending in the middle will also support him when erect. This has led to much exploration on his part and added a new wrinkle to his parents and grandparents life. Up until the time they walk little ones are limited by the space they occupy unless transported by another human being. Once they figure out how to make this happen for themselves their world expands to everything they can reach, throw, insert in their mouths, or disassemble. Constantly I am amazed, however, at his sweet disposition and endless curiosity about the world around him. Each day is full of new information for him to process and new things to see. Childhood truly is, or can be, a wondrous experience which little beings are kind enough to share with the adults in their arena so we can revisit it once again ourselves. I shall find it fascinating to watch his progression as the decade moves forward.

Seems hard to believe a year and a half has gone by since Rick passed. Funny how slowly the time seems to move when you are young and yet as you age it seems to disappear in an instant. My mind is still going through the grief brain period when it gets muddled at times and a bit overwhelmed. Add this to the sheer fact that this brain has been processing information for some years now, and I find myself doing some really dumb things of late. Day before yesterday I had to take Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, to the vet. For several days she had been sneezing, a behavior I had never seen from her before.  A vet visit requires precision planning as if the cat sees the carrier before I get her in it she will find a spot under the bed to plant herself and I will spend the next hour or two on my knees trying to coax her out of there.  That morning I retrieved the carrier and left it on the top step outside the back door. I checked to see where the cat was and found her in her usual napping spot on the pillow at the end of the bed. Stealthily I picked up the carrier and entered the door quietly. The only flaw in this plan was that I’d forgotten I’d left a brand new bag of cat litter on the floor by the cat box. Whoops. Tripping over the bag and unable to get my footing I face planted in the middle of the kitchen floor throwing the carrier into the bedroom with a huge crash where Boo made her exit stage right. Game over. Thankfully as God takes care of drunks and fools (I rarely drink but considered it at that moment), I was uninjured.

That same day I was making a meatloaf for guests coming over for dinner. It was one of those days where the clock got away from me and I found myself throwing ingredients in a bowl at the last minute. Naturally, I was short a half a pound of meat so I washed my hands and left the bowl with the dry ingredients on the counter and headed for the store. While at the check out counter I noticed my bracelet with “Fearless” printed across the band was not on my wrist. Not an expensive piece of jewelry certainly but I wear it every day. For me it is significant in my healing process by way of an affirmation reminding me I can handle whatever comes along. I retraced my steps in the store to no avail so stopped to ask the customer service clerk if she could contact me if she found it on my way out. Feeling sad I came home and tossed the remaining meat on top of the other ingredients. Moving my sleeves up my arm I began to knead and squeeze to get everything well blended. Placing the loaf in my loaf pan I noticed something protruding from the top. On closer inspection I saw a silver object with the letters “arle” visible on it. Mystery solved. Could have been worse I could have served the bracelet to my guests cooked in the meatloaf. That would have been a conversation starter. Maybe I could have passed it off like the baby in the cake in New Orleans. How I do these things I have no explanation. If Rick was here he would say, “you need to sloooooooow down”. Probably had a point.

So as we begin this new year my plan is to sloooooooow down, stop and smell the roses, look before I leap, and generally take some long deep breaths and enjoy the moment I am in. Happy New Year to all.

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frozen-colorful-leaves-picture-quote-do-your-best-598pxThis morning I laid in bed and got to thinking about motives. Not the kind of motive such as why Sally stabbed Stan with a butcher knife when she found him with the au pair, but rather the underlying motives guiding our behavior in any given situation. I wonder if these motives are subconsciously driven or if we actually are aware of what we are doing and move forward anyhow.

This line of thought actually developed from a conversation between my hair dresser and myself yesterday. As I mentioned in a previous blog, many a world problem is solved while seated in a salon chair getting your roots retouched.  My hairdresser, Emily, is a lovely young woman in her mid thirties with three children. The oldest, and only girl, is ten. Ten is a tween age, not really a teen as yet but not a little girl. A difficult time when your body is changing and vulnerability is high. Children truly can be the cruelest beings. Many memories haunt me about being teased for being chubby as a child. One such incident, involving an insipid little sixth grader standing behind me in line to sharpen pencils, stands out in particular. While in line I took a step back nearly stepping on his foot. Reacting as if I had, he yelled loudly “Look out, fatso! If you stepped on me you’d squash me flat as a pancake!” Being a true scorpio at heart, I wanted badly to step on him, and step on him real hard. Then, after I had succeeded in squashing him flat as a pancake I would have enjoyed inserting his already pointy little head in the pencil sharpener. That, most likely, is a conversation best left for my therapist. Sharp tongues can wound as deeply as sharp objects, perhaps more deeply.

Emily went on to explain she and her husband are of Italian descent. It is not telling tales out of school I don’t believe to say some Italian’s can lean towards having more hair on their bodies. Why this is I have no clue but I have had Italian friends over the years who have dealt with waxing their upper lips and some, like this young lady, were blessed with dark hair on their legs. After numerous incidents involving teasing about hairy legs leaving her little girl in tears Emily purchased an electric shaver and the girl began to regularly shave her legs. This, thankfully gave the teasers no ammunition with which to arm their tongues causing the teasing to fizzle out. Amazingly though the taunting stopped, Emily was rebuked by other mothers in her circle saying the girl was too young for such a process. Really? Perhaps the issue isn’t whether she’s too young to shave her legs but rather that we as parents aren’t instilling the importance of kindness and respect for others in our offspring? I’m just saying.

Meanness is not reserved for the under twenty set. I have a dear friend who is painfully blunt, bordering on mean at times. One does not always have to say everything entering ones mind, even if it happens to be the truth. For example if asked if a pair of jeans are flattering when they are not might it not be better to reply, “I really like the black ones better, or they are not my favorite” rather than something like “they make your legs look like pier pilings”. There is a difference between being honest and being unkind. The phrase “brutally honest” comes to mind. I prefer being tactful when confronted with such a question.

The other day I took my mother out for lunch and shopping. Dementia, for those not dealing with it, slowly robs the sufferer of their short term memory essentially erasing the memory bank a piece at a time. In my mother’s case she won’t retain something I’ve told her five minutes ago but might remember with incredible clarity something that happened sixty years ago. Boundaries in the brain become blurred and behaviors you would expect to see in a child often begin to surface. In a way, it allows you to grieve slowly. Whether this is less or more painful I’m not sure. However, I am blessed every day to still be able to spend such an afternoon with my mother and grateful for each bit of time I am allotted. After lunch I wheeled her about the parking lot in her wheelchair now a permanent part of our world since her hip fracture. We stopped to look at all the trees some still brightly decked out with fall foliage. She seems to find nature fascinating of late as if seeing everything with fresh eyes. Interesting. I left her smiling and happy at her board and care after a fun day. Arriving home I got a text from her caregiver reading, “sad face emoji, Your mother was sitting at dinner with the other ladies. When asked how her day with her daughter went she replied, ‘I didn’t see my daughter today.’ Isn’t that sad?” I sat there for a moment before responding wondering what on earth was the point of such a message?What I wanted to respond was “Why would you tell me that?”, because I couldn’t imagine the point. Instead of getting angry or allowing it to ruin my precious day I responded, “I am well aware that mother doesn’t hold a memory these days. However, she is there with me in the moment, and I am there with her. Whether she knows I was there or not, I know I was there. I take the memory with me and store it on her behalf. Life is as it is and like a lemon you must squeeze it hard to extract all the juice from it.”

It is important to think about what you are saying or texting. Texting in particular has no “voice” if you will. Sometimes I will reread something I have written quickly and realize it might have “sounded” terse or come across in a way I didn’t mean. Words cannot be taken back whether spoken or written.  Apologies can be offered and accepted but mean spirited intentions tend to hang in the air casting a shadow over future interactions whether forgiven or not.

Yesterday I finished up the last of my holiday shopping. The parking lot at the mall was a flurry of activity when I arrived. Cars lined up along the aisles waiting for parking spots to open up. After circling the wagons for a half an hour I finally snagged a spot about a mile from the store I was going to and was happy to have found it. A lady in a pick up truck with a wreath tied on the fender passed me as I was walking. Another driver going the opposite direction came fairly close to her and the pick up lady shouted a decidedly non-holiday like greeting out her window while offering her a one finger salute.  Horns honked here and there and irritated faces wandered about either looking for their cars in the sea of vehicles or headed into the mall. “Merry Christmas to all”, I was tempted to say but thought somebody might leave tire marks on me so just kept walking.

Inside the store people were milling about. One lady was spread out on the floor opening boxes of glasses and inspecting every one. Her husband, a tired looking man, stood next to her holding her packages and handbag probably with visions of a cold beer and a football game dancing in his head.

Finally getting through the line a lovely lady dressed head to toe like an elf checked me out. Friendly and conversational she wished me the merriest of Christmases complementing me on everything from my hair to the color nail polish I was wearing. Some people just find their niche and tuck themselves in it. Maybe she really was an elf? All things are possible in this marvelous universe.

Soooooo, hope your holidays are going well. Keep of good cheer. It takes more energy to be unpleasant than to create a smile. I don’t know that to be true but would like to think so.

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Holidays, when you’ve lost a loved one, can prove very difficult. I am so grateful this Thanksgiving I was surrounded by my family and their families on Thanksgiving Day. I’m sure for those grieving a loss alone, the added pain of everybody celebrating around them can be almost unbearable. I have made great strides since Rick has passed. Fourteen months have come and gone and each day I find more strength and purpose returning to my life. This does not mean I still don’t stumble, I do.  Yesterday for example, Black Friday, was a difficult one. The turkey now eaten and leftovers tucked away in the fridge, left me drifting about the house with Boo, the Queen of Cats, wondering what to busy myself with. I try not to always clutter up my days with “doing”. Sometimes it is important to sit with your feelings while they are stewing and work your way through them. However, yesterday I needed air and people around me so I headed for the stores looking for a way to keep my mind occupied.

Expecting the usual crush of holiday shoppers littering the aisles I was pleasantly surprised to find only an average amount of shoppers milling about making it painless to select the first Christmas presents I’ve purchased this season.  In one store, the bank of extra cashiers ready to ring up holiday customer’s orders were lined up along the check out aisle beckoning customers to their stalls like barkers at a sideshow. Interesting.  Guess everybody was busy filling their carts on line. Makes me wonder if someday there will be no stores to shop in, with everything being done with the click of a mouse. I hope not. I am an old dog, I guess. I like to hold my book and read it, turning the pages as I go. I want to feel the fabric and explore the fit of a bathrobe before purchasing it, and I enjoy the lively conversations and colorful Christmas goodies displayed in the stores. Woof.

Although change is always a process, change life will, and continue to do so. Either you hop on board and change with it or the train will pull out of the station and you’ll still be standing on the platform. A lot of my friends are still circling their computers trying to figure out what makes them tick. They approach their laptops like a haz-mat team might creep up on a ticking box. Because I have quite a bit of experience in my pocket I have become sort of the It-Girl for my friends still working on the difference between portrait and landscape. Thankfully I have kept up with my skills for the most part so as things changed I moved forward with them keeping me somewhat “fresh” with the new technology. Um, with one exception I’m afraid, phones. Even my best friend who still had a flip phone until the beginning of this year now has an IPhone she devotes a great deal of her time to. I have one response when asked why I am so stubborn about this, “I don’t wanta”.

I suppose at some point I will cave pitifully and get myself a smart phone. There is something intimidating about having a hand held device that is so much more intelligent than you are. Next I will be on a first name basis with Siri not listening to anyone around me anymore except her soothing voice. I watch in fascination as my friends speak to her in their phones asking advice about everything from directions to where the best deals on toilet paper can be found. Some, I have observed, seem to have an uncomfortably personal attachment to these digital beings which at times can make my skin feel a little squirrely.

Over Thanksgiving dinner we older adults were discussing with the younger members of our clan what life was like when phones were still attached to the wall. When your ability to walk around with it attached to your ear was directly controlled by the length of the cord you purchased for it when you picked it out at the phone store. Mouth agape they stared at us as if we had just landed and walked down the ramp with ET. When I went on to explain we didn’t have APPS, voicemail, personal computers, video games, and only limited channels on the TV I swear one of them crossed himself.

To further shock these young beings, in particular the girls, I explained that if you wanted to do your hair you didn’t just plug in your blow dryer and curling iron. Oh no. You washed it, rolled it in curlers and either endeavored to sleep on the miserable things generally finding them all over your bed in the morning or plugged in a portable hair dryer and sat underneath it until your hair was dry.

Looking back so much has changed over the years. When my children were born there were no seat belts. Kids floated about in the car roaming from front to back, sticking their heads out of the windows, or sitting on your lap and helping you drive. Amazing we ever made it this far.

So, we look toward another year. This one should be interesting. With everything going on in the political arena certainly this may prove to be a fascinating time to be a fly on the wall for an election. I don’t usually get political in my blogs leaving it to others to sling mud where they may, however I would hope we breathe some dignity back into our government. My relatives in Canada tell me we have become the source of many jokes up there and I’m sure that rings in true all over the world. Time to clean this up and restore some civility to our world.

For my part I’m still trying to figure out who I am as this new person evolves from the ashes of my old life. The new year is both exciting and a little intimidating. I know I have to go back to work which makes me want to go in the closet with a bag of fiery Cheetos and pull a blanket over my head, but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

Hope your holiday was special. Most of you are heading home today or out in the stores frantically trying to scratch names off that holiday list. Take a breath, enjoy the spirit of the season. There is much to be thankful for.

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Struggling to find my joy again after losing Rick, my significant other and soulmate, has definitely been an uphill battle. It’s not I don’t laugh or enjoy myself while doing an activity or sharing time with friends and family, I do. Rather it’s an abiding emptiness, which persists deep inside me bubbling up unexpectedly from time to time leaving me feeling vulnerable and alone.

There are sometimes multiple endings following the death of a spouse. In this day and age where blended families are more the norm than the exception, often step families drift off after a death absorbed back into their own tribes. Even if you felt the bonds were strong people have a tendency to go with their own leaving behind frayed ends and unfinished beginnings. As this situation has occurred for me on more than one occasion in my life I speak with some experience on the subject. So your life shifts and morphs before your eyes like the lens of a kaleidoscope making it difficult to recognize or find a familiar comfortable place to be. This leaving you to mourn not only the person who has passed on but the peripheral beings now missing in your world as well.

I am always spouting “if you don’t like your life, change it”. I am not a proponent of whining, even though I do give in to it from time to time. My philosophy is if something hits you hard go down for a day or two, then stand up, dust yourself off, stick your chin out and keep on going. Sometimes this is easier said than done. My mother used to say I’m like one of those inflatable clowns with the sand weighting the bottom. You can smack me down but I will always pop up again. I’m counting on that particular trait to see me through this as well.

The holidays are coming up. For people suffering a loss, not having their loved ones with them on special occasions can prove doubly taxing. Memories of holidays past begin to surface and the realization their old life is gone forever becomes more clear. I speak of this because I just celebrated my second birthday without Rick. This one was filled with friends and family and good vibes reminding me of how far I have come since his passing. There’s something about another year going by that always shakes things loose things in my mind. I begin to examine what I have done with these 365 days now used and discarded and what I plan to do with the 365 clean and freshly pressed days lying before me. Oh my.

I have been auditing a class on Love at the Unity Church. Interesting concepts being taught there. They are especially focused on the inner dialogues we tend to conduct in our minds and offer different ways to approach your life to bring about added peace and serenity. I never realized before how much internal chattering goes on beneath this blonde mane. Yak, yak, yak. Always I have known I was a woman who has much to say. (Rick used to comment if I asked if he was listening, “Sweetie, if I listened to every word you said, I would never get anything else done.” Funny man my Rick.)

Like an old dog long ingrained habits are not easily given up. When you are used to doing things a certain way, particularly as you age, changing course is not an easy task. There’s no day to implement change like today, so I begin.

First on my list as mentioned in my previous blog is looking for a part-time job. There are a lot of us baby boomers still in the work force and so I am hoping I can find a niche just my size to fit into to. Where to begin? First, I updated my resume. My son’s business in corporate headhunting so he was helpful in guiding me through the process. Do not write endless descriptive paragraphs dating back to when you exited the womb, was his first instruction. “But that’s my speciality. Awwww, all right.” Apparently busy people looking to hire someone don’t have time to read through the definitive life history of twenty people in order to whittle it down to the right candidate. Got it. Brief, attention grabbing tidbits about what you’ve done over the past ten years with the emphasis on what you can bring to the position that is unique and pertinent to the job description provided. Done and done. Apparently brain surgeon is off the table. I looked it up and it seems you have to have a degree. Darn.

Learning to live alone is another hurdle I am mounting. You’re not alone, you might say, you have Boo, the Queen of Cats. Oddly enough you’d be on the money with that statement. I can not stress enough how much it means to open the door to an empty house and find a furry face waiting for you on the other side. If you have suffered a loss having an animal (if you love them as I do) can be such a comfort while at the same time giving you something to fuss over besides yourself. As the days pass I actually find myself looking for quiet hours to hang out with me. Being an only child entertaining myself perhaps comes more easily than for those people coming from large families used to lots of noise and activity 24/7. Growing up in Nova Scotia during long cold winters I learned to be inside seated on the floor of my bedroom using my imagination to fill my days with wild adventures and limitless wonders.

Winter has not made itself known here in Northern California as yet. As I turned the calendar over to November I went to my shed and retrieved my winter clothes, replacing the summer clothes hanging in my closet. Yesterday it was 78 degrees. As usual, I’m right on target. Sooooo, tiring of wearing fleece in a heat wave today I will go back to the shed and forage for some lighter clothes thus guaranteeing a blizzard by Friday. One cannot deny living in California, in spite of the fire situation dogging us over the past decade, offers glorious weather. This does not come without a price, however, and I look more and more often at how I will sustain myself here long term. If it wasn’t for the fact that all my loved ones reside in this state I wouldn’t be adverse to exploring other options. Rent in particular has hit the roof making it difficult for grown children to move out on their own, people in low income jobs to limp from paycheck to paycheck, and the old and infirmed to manage to survive. My best friend’s daughter just moved to the Houston area. She bought a gorgeous home in a lovely area for about one-third of what you pay for a similar house here.

So many things to ponder. I am trying to put all I have learned about mindfulness into play as I go through my days. Focus on today, even this moment of today, and let tomorrow unfold when and as it should. I believe I’ll buy a lottery ticket this morning. No reason not to hedge my bets.

Today is Veteran’s Day. Always I think of my father. He was twenty-five, and I one, when he died. I have pictures of him in RCAF uniform to remind me of the man who launched me into this world then had to take his leave. When I was sixteen I visited Ottawa. While there I visited his grave at the military cemetery. I will never forget the sea of white crosses marching up and down the hillsides in every direction. So much loss. To all the veterans who have given and continue to give of themselves for our country, thank you for your service.

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We are smack dab in the middle of what astrologists refer to as a mercury retrograde. This began officially on Halloween, but the effects were already being felt two weeks prior. Such occurrences in the universe are usually marked by communication and technology breakdowns, nervous anxiety, travel delays, and lost items. Goody.

I mentioned a blog or two back I have been experiencing a lot of such breakdowns. Even after the electricity was finally restored following a five day power outage my land line remains dead as a doornail. A repairman is headed my way after numerous attempts by my provider’s technical staff to try to figure out what is wrong. Immediately after getting that situation on the road to a solution a friend advised me my car was leaking unknown fluid onto the driveway. This means locating an auto shop at my new location to take a look at what’s going on under there. As an aside, have you ever noticed all these types of mini disasters seem to occur on weekends or holidays? It’s so common in my world I can’t help but wonder if perhaps it’s part of the master plan. As to lost items, I spent an hour looking for my keys this morning until just short of panic mode I discovered them dangling out of the lock in the door on my way out to take the trash. Thank God I’m careful to lock the door lest someone try to break in. Sigh. This retrograde will continue until November 20th which tells me November may prove to be another red letter month at Susie’s house. Jeez.

Halloween itself was a pleasant surprise. Having lived in rural mountainous areas for the last twenty years we were lucky if we got one little pirate or a scant princess knocking at our door so this year was actually fun. I bought a huge bag of candy thinking if nobody came I could sacrifice myself and not let it go to waste. As darkness began to fall I sat down to watch the news and eat my dinner when the doorbell began to ring and didn’t stop until I turned off the lights around 8:30. Sometimes there were as many as ten children standing there when I opened the door. They were all really inspired costumes for the most part ranging from a pirate with a parrot on his shoulder and a lit lantern to a diminutive ninja turtle looking just like the ones on the big screen only tinier. It was good to see parents allowing children to go door to door again, though I noticed many of them lining up along the sidewalks with flashlights talking among themselves as their offspring gathered their loot. Reminded me of the old days when my kids were school age when we totally decorated the house and created scary haunted houses in the garage. Very nostalgic for me an old Halloween lover from way back missing being born on the very day by a mere five hours. Such a fan of all Hallows Eve am I, my mother swears I came down the chute wearing a rubber nose, moustache and glasses smoking a cigar.

The day after Halloween I celebrated my birthday. Thankfully, this went off without a hitch. My daughter and her family, including our youngest member, Zeppelin one year and one month, took me to the zoo. Going to the zoo is always a bittersweet experience for me. Don’t misunderstand me, never, even at this ripe age, do I tire of seeing the amazing animals housed in America’s zoos. That being said, I do always feel a tug of guilt these glorious creatures are confined in such a way for our amusement. Seeing the animals through Zeppelin’s fresh eyes was the best part of the day. Each cage was a new adventure for our little guy who’s eyes were wide as dinner plates as we moved from one display to the next.

My mother joined us towards the end of the day. Since she broke her hip it is more difficult to include her in family outings because her stamina has diminished since her injury. Also, as the dementia continues to intrude on her thinking keeping her overnight as was my habit before she fell has now become more difficult. My house is an old cozy dwelling with lots of hard angles and unusual rooms. A wheelchair simply can’t navigate this space comfortably. Sadly once again I watch the progress of aging taking away more and more freedom from my dear mother. I also see spurts of anger not present before. Can’t fault her for that. I’m pretty sure as active as she was, being confined with no real goal or purpose to her days must be terribly frustrating.

There are several new tenants in her board and care. One lady is older than my mom which pleases her to no end. She mentions often she’s tired of being the oldest chick in the hen house. In her fifties during her mid-life crisis, as she called menopause, she refused to devulge her age. She began to shave years off so fast at one point we calculated I was actually older than she was. For me I don’t mind telling my age. Not saying the number out loud doesn’t make me any younger. My view of aging is if the universe allows we’ll all be ten, twenty, thirty, etc. Each stage has it’s pluses and it’s minuses. Not sure I’d go back if I could. Would I want to be back in high school again? There isn’t enough money. Sometimes I think I’d like to revisit my forties but I don’t believe that’s in the contract. Soooooo, I yam, what I yam and that is it. I still feel like a kid so will have to be satisfied with that. Thankfully I’m still healthy and agile which is such a bonus. It pleases me I am still able to be surprised, amazed, disappointed and enlightened so there’s still much work to be done, places to go, things to be accomplished. I’m signed up for a clay class this month. Always wanted to try sculpting. We shall see what comes of that.

Have a great and productive day.

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