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Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

Since I got up, rain has been steadily falling. I do love rainy days. Growing up in Nova Scotia, scruffy overcast skies were not an unfamiliar sight to me. On blustery days such as today, waves crashed angrily against the craggy shores of the province and gray skies were reflected in the dark churning waters below. There was an element of excitement to watching the clouds move in, I always found exciting. The raw power of nature, in particular the ocean, has drawn me to it as far back as I can remember. When the forces of nature come to bear, we are made small. Outbursts manifest themselves in many forms. Vengeful, wind driven tornadoes, that rip and tear at the landscape. Swirling tubes of destruction tossing buildings to and fro as if they were leaves whisked up an afternoon breeze. Tsunamis formed by tremors beneath the sea creating huge surges of water pushing towards the shore. Waves encroaching on our land masses, hungrily sucking up everything in their way. Violent earthquakes rending gaping crevices in the earth’s face, capable of reducing tall skyscrapers to their knees. Never should you underestimate the sheer strength of Mother Nature when she is dead set on unleashing her havoc.

Having lived all over the U.S. at one time or another I’ve experienced a lot of different climates each different from the rest. While living in Arkansas, for example, tornado warnings popped up regularly on the television screen. Migrating there from California I was surprised to find rain fell during the summer months, a phenomenon rarely experienced living on the west coast. Sunny days in California rarely yielded to even as much as the lightest dusting of rain, unless it was overflow from a gyrating lawn sprinkler. The day I arrived in Arkansas for the first time, it was mid July. My husband at the time, David, and I were moving to Ashdown for a job at a lumber mill expected to last about a year and a half. David was a pipe fitter by trade. We were considered construction bums, if you will. Craftsmen who traveled from job to job, filling a need as it arose. It was hot that day. Hot, hot, hot. The temperature, at least according to the weather girl on the morning news, would be stretching upwards towards 108. Factor in humidity, around 95%, and trust me it felt far hotter.

My first impression of the state was of the prolific and vibrantly green vegetation. Everywhere you looked there was lush foliage. Much of what I was seeing, I was told, was Kudzu. Kudzu had overrun that part of the world at the time, crawling like the slinking vine it was over anything and everything standing in its way. About an hour after crossing the border from Oklahoma into Arkansas, we decided to stop for lunch. Signs posted along the road advertised a diner serving “Down Home Food” coming up in the next town. Following the signs we pulled into the parking lot of a small establishment with a much larger sign announcing “Diner This Way” blinking above an arrow pointing towards the front door. I might have figured out how to get inside without such explicit instructions, but I appreciated the effort taken. If we were hoping for a little cool air once inside, we were to be disappointed. Warm stale air combined with the smell of cooking oil swept over us as we walked through the door. A sweating swamp cooler hummed behind the reception area and three ceiling fans rotated in the center of the room, all seeming to have little effect. To the right as you entered, was a long line of red vinyl stools, customers occupying about half of them. To the left of the counter were booths of varying sizes arranged next to the bank of windows facing the street. A glass tower stood by the reception desk with tiers of partially cut pies resting inside. A fly lazily buzzed around the lemon meringue giving me an excellent reason to pass on dessert. A tall, thin waitress with a folded hanky pinned on the front of her uniform that read “Betty Lynn” showed us to the one remaining unoccupied booth. Handing us two well loved plastic covered menus, I asked for an glass of iced tea, heavy on the ice. Before she went off to greet the next customer she brought us up to speed on the specials of the day recommending the cheeseburgers. Once two cheeseburgers with fries had been ordered, David excused himself to find the men’s room. Looking around, I felt as if we had stepped back twenty years. Felix the cats protruding eyes and tail moved back and forth ticking off the minutes on the back wall. Album covers covered the rest of the wall featuring artists like Hank Williams, Minnie Pearl and Buck Owens. A large window broke up the wall between the albums and the busing station behind which the cooks could be seen moving back and forth across the grill. At each booth, and equally spaced along the counter there were miniature jukeboxes, one tuned to Elvis singing “Love Me Tender”.

Betty Lynn returned to the table to place a tall sweating glass of tea with a wedge of lemon drooped over it’s lip in front of me. Sipping thirstily on the straw, when the liquid hit my taste buds they dispatched an immediate message to my brain SWEET. The tea was so sugary, the texture more resembled syrup. I signaled Betty Lynn and asked if I could have unsweetened tea. She eyed me suspiciously, saying “you’re not from around here are you”? Why no, does it show? Apparently the only iced tea they had was sweet tea, so I opted for ice water and we moved on. B.L. was a little less friendly after that.

David having returned from the restroom seemed to find all this amusing. I had a feeling this was to be only the tip of the iceberg of the experiences I was to have south of the Mason-Dixon line. While we were putting away what turned out to be to Betty Lynn’s credit, “one delicious burger”, the sky outside shifted from bright blue to menacingly black. Several strong claps of thunder shook the building before the sky opened up and released a downpour so intense the plummeting drops actually hit the pavement then ricocheted back on themselves. People in the parking lot covered their heads and ran for cover. Within minutes, the entire parking lot surface was inundated with water so brown it appeared to be milk chocolate. Then, as suddenly as it began, the rain stopped, the sun came out from behind the clouds, and steam began to rise from the puddles. Steam rose from the cars, the roofs of the buildings, I’m telling you, it was a gen-u-ine steam fest. Can you say sauna boys and girls? No one seemed to notice the dramatic shift in climate but me. David said for the locals, this was simply another day in the neighborhood. Oh. “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto”.

Walking back out into the blast furnace outside after paying for our meal, the pungent smell of wet and rotting vegetation lay heavy in the air. Already feeling overheated, I hopped in the car planting my bare legs directly on the sizzling grill that once had served as my car seat. I swear, I smelled bacon cooking. Oink. Assured by David once again I would acclimate to the heat and humidity once I lived there for awhile, I gently peeled my legs off the leather seats and wondered if there would end up being any truth in that statement. This too shall come to be revealed.

I shall continue my weather report in my next post. For now I want to take a harsh swing right and look at the mess our country is in at the moment. What a week! For someone like me who rarely plants in front of the television for hours, I believe I actually have eye strain from switching back and forth between CNN and the other news channels. There are so many applicable adjectives here. Ummmm, unbelievable, unreal, unamerican, unacceptable, but you can’t really include unexpected. People surprise me when they are shocked. The situation has been escalating one bad act at a time. Smoke signals have been rising up from the mother ship for the last four years. I hope everyone involved in this, what was truly an attempted coup of our democracy, gets prosecuted. I won’t say more. And by the way, where were the police? I’m surprised they didn’t escort them in and offer them coffee. We’re all entitled to believe what we choose, which is the foundation on which this democracy was built on to begin with. However, I will finish with saying, “enough is enough”. I don’t care which side you lean towards, this isn’t acceptable ever. This goes way beyond annoying self-serving narcissistic behavior. Let’s do the right thing for the right reasons. The rats are deserting the sinking ship as we watch all this unfold. Allegiances are switching faster than playing cards in a magicians hand. Too late people, we’ve already seen who you are. The following quote couldn’t be more apt for the situation in the United States at the moment.

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Stay safe. Back to Arkansas in my next post. Again, thanks for stopping by.

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Let me start by saying I’m not a big fan of Daylight Savings Time. Voters in California voted 60% in favor of not changing the time moving forward, but our legislators neglected to act on it. To be consistent in my goal to do nothing the way others of my kind do, I do all right when we “spring forward”, but my internal clock goes totally haywire when we “fall back”, the exact opposite of what most humans experience. According to an article I read on the subject, a week’s camping trip can do the trick in resetting your circadian rythms and your sleep patterns. Artificial light is the enemy of sleep it seems, and getting away from the TV, computer, phone, etc. allows your body to resume it’s natural rythms once again. This for me would be like water boarding. Couldn’t I just push my reset button and get on with it?

To begin with, since I hit menopause I have had trouble sleeping. As a thought here, shouldn’t that be womanopause? I’m just saying. Often you will find my lights on in the wee hours of the night. Recently, my doctor ordered a sleep study to rule out his suspicions I might be suffering from sleep apnea. I was to be observed overnight to see if I had times when I stopped breathing while asleep. Good news, I did not. Yay. However, I did entertain the technicians with the choreographed dance I performed due my restless leg syndrome. According to their notes, I sometimes moved my legs upwards of thirty times an hour. Whew. Who knew? At that rate I should be able to polish off a pepperoni pizza at seven and have it completely burned off by 10 o’clock. Sigh. Wish it did work that way. Apparently you have to be vertical and actually propelling yourself forward to eliminate those kind of calories. Darn. As much as I dislike organized exercise, this would have been the perfect solution. Lack of sleep can be a problem down the road. It can make you distracted, cause you to gain weight, or even give you a heart attack. Not to mention all that good news we are in the middle of a pandemic that is out of control so lots to keep those eyes wide open in the middle of the night. Whoopee.

There are a lot of side issues to this pandemic besides lack of sleep and anxiety. As I’m sure many people are finding, this pandemic has turned out to be not only devastating for our country and those directly affected by it, but it has also seems to have an additional side effect, the pandemic is fattening. I have noticed my electric bill has has increased substantially since staying home has become more the norm for me than the exception. Secretly, I believe this increase can be attributed directly to the number of times I’ve opened my refrigerator door since the beginning of 2020. Even though I tend to weigh in on the lean side, I have added a pants size since the beginning of the year. My doctor tells me this is a plus. He went on to say people of a certain age should carry a little extra padding in the event of an unexpected illness. Tell that to my drawer full of size 2 jeans no longer pulling up past my knees. Normally I don’t go to food when I am feeling slightly depressed. Under stress, my weight often drops alarmingly. This year, as with many things out of whack, this has not been the case. So, as I have adjusted to waddling around the house in yoga pants, I sit here at my computer watching as my behind spreads out on the chair beneath me. Sigh.

On the plus side, at last fall has arrived. Yesterday, while driving to an appointment, I was awed by the vibrant colors spreading along the hillsides. This time of year sends my energy level soaring.

My favorite fall displays though are still definitely to be found in the eastern part of our nation. When my children were toddlers we lived in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Wakefield was by all accounts a typical New England town replete with numerous church steeples peeking above the tree tops and gorgeous autumn vistas when the thermometer began to lean towards cold. I discovered quickly living on the east coast, the clothing I’d brought with me from the west coast wasn’t going to be adequate to see us through the winter. One thing about living in snow country when you have little ones, dressing them for the weather requires more clothing and much more time. Unlike sending them out in California with a light jacket, wool hat, and mittens, sending them out in the middle of winter in Massachusetts requires a lot more protection. Snow suits were purchased that first cold spell along with heavy jackets for myself and their dad. As we both worked in Boston, this added at least an hour to our morning routine to get everyone “suited up” and organizing the travel from the house to the car before heading out for our day.

The house we lived in was a large two story home, typical for the area. The house faced the lake, which was sort of the hub of the town itself. Though there was a basement and an attic, the builders had not included a garage and no one had thought to add one since. The house was built in the late 1800’s. At the time it was built, there were no cars on the road so a garage wouldn’t have been seen as a necessity unless you were planning to store your wagon in it. Though it may not have been a necessity back in the day, it certainly would have come in handy at the time we were living there. When the first heavy winter storm hit the state, we peered out the window to see the entire yard piled high with huge drifts of freshly fallen snow. Several trees appeared as shrouded figures beneath the mounds, and in the center of our yard our yellow Ford station wagon rose up like a hulking beast with not a spot of yellow paint to be seen beneath the frosty layer covering it. Sigh. The thermometer in the kitchen read frrrrrreezing. When you factored in the wind chill, it felt much colder. Though it would have been nice to crawl back under the warm comforter and curl up we had a commute to tackle and employers counting on us. If everyone in Massachusetts took a snow day off every time the weather turned disagreeable, the state would have quickly sunk into ruin and no one would have had food on the table. Employers expected you to show up snow or no snow, and the car being buried in the stuff offered up no exception.

After several abysmal attempts at getting to the car and into work on time, we came up with a plan. Kirby, my husband, would go out in the front yard with the snow shovel and dig his way to the front door of the station wagon and let himself in. Before turning on the car, we had been told you had to make sure the tailpipe was in the open so that dangerous fumes didn’t build inside the vehicle. Check and double check. Then he would turn the car on and leave it running to warm up. I was tasked with corralling the rug rats, getting them in their snow gear, getting myself ready to travel and getting them secured in their car seats. By the time we reached the babysitter’s house, that is if the snow plow had come down our street so we could, I was ready for a long winter’s nap.

Once the children were secured for the day, we drove together to the train station and boarded our first train of the morning. At the first stop, we changed trains, saying goodbye as each of us headed off in a different direction. I hopped on the Green Line into downtown with Kirby taking the Red towards the pier area where his office building was located. Once at the destination station, I stepped off with the rest of the herd and mooooed my way up the long flight of stairs to street level. On warm days, going up and down was a piece of cake, but on blustery days you held on to the handrail tightly lest you slipped on the icy steps.

My office building was an old brick structure situated on Newbury Street. During the summer the interior was hot, and in the winter cold. Often I wore two or three layers of clothing going to work, leaving a layer or two on even while sitting at my desk. The old radiators made lots of noise about heating the rooms, but didn’t provide much energy to get the job done.

Officially my job title was Assistant Area Director for the American Cancer Society. Durng my three years there, particularly during their fund drives, I would end up taking work home with me when what I had to do ran over the time I had to do it in. This winter day happened to be one such day. There were no computers around, so everything was done on paper. Stop it, I know! All my documents were put into manila folders and filed in banks of file cabinets. So, when I say “I took work home with me”, it was meant that in the most literal sense. Getting off work at 5:00 meant the sun was already tucked in bed. A light snow was falling beyond the window at the front of the building where I pulled on my sweater, my winter coat, my scarf and my wool hat. Next heavy boots were pulled on over woolen socks, my mittens secured and I was ready to step out the front door. I had forgotten my valise that day, so it was necessary to pile the file folders I was taking with me in a stack and carry them along with my lunch bag and my purse to the entrance to the subway. Several times along the slick sidewalk I nearly lost my footing. Standing at the top of the long flight of stairs I reached out with a mittened hand to grab the hand rail and piled in behind the crowd of commuters headed down into the great abyss. At about the second step I lost my footing. People shoving and pushing behind me propelled me forward. With my hands full, I was unable to right myself and as I careened forward the folders flew up in the air and paperwork rained like confetti at a parade over the people on the bottom of the stairs. Flailing at the air, I reached out on my descent and my grasping fingers wrapped around this gentleman’s tie. In a sort of awkward dance he and I lurched forward knocking people down like bowling pins before landing one on top of the other at the bottom of the stairs. His face, at that point, had turned a startling shade of purple from the tightening of his neckware cutting off his air supply. Sorry. Papers were everywhere. Most I found, the others either walked away on the bottom of someone’s boot or floated into a corner to be swept up by custodians.

Gathering up what I could along with my remaining dignity, I thanked the gentleman I had nearly strangled for being nice enough to still take the time to help me after I tried to do him in.

Often after that I saw him going down or coming up. Always he stayed a safe distance from me just in case I was going to try out my aerial act and include him once again.

One thing I do love about living in California is that you can live where there is snow, or you can live where there is not. I choose not. For many years I dealt with snow tires, frozen windshields, slippery sidewalks and frigid temperatures. Getting too old to do that again. So I will enjoy the glorious fall colors available to me in my area and be happy to do so. Rain is in the forecast and I’m looking most forward to seeing drops on the window.

Interesting, not sure that’s the correct word, all that is going on in our country right now. Trying to rise above the noise and find some peace and contentment in this atmosphere stirring around us isn’t always easy. Hmmmm maybe that camping trip is a good idea. Not.

Enjoy your day. Quiet the noise and breathe deeply the crisp fall air.

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Do you ever feel lately like the clowns are running the circus? Sometimes I get up, pour my coffee, turn on the news and push the off button after the first few words of the latest news report have run off the anchor’s teleprompter. Totally exhausting. Never that I can remember have I been so in need of a relaxing vacation. I’m leaning towards tropical but at this point a day trip to Death Valley is holding some appeal.

The majority of the smoke from the latest inferno has finally left the valley and a glorious backdrop of bright blue skies and white puffy clouds is visible from my kitchen window. There is a hint of fall in the air, my Halloween decorations are up (in spite of the fact I keep hearing it has been cancelled), and life is beginning to feel just the slightest bit, shall I dare to say it, NORMAL. Well, not pre-pandemic normal, but at least leaning towards weather normal. I’ll take it.

My birthday is on the horizon. It shows up about this time every year, and I am thankful to be sitting here writing about another full turn on my annual clock. There is always a touch of melancholy that passes over me a few weeks before my big day. Perhaps it’s the gentle mourning of the passage of another year or possibly indulging in a little reflection on what I’ve done with the 365 days since last I celebrated.

The littlest member of our clan, Zeppelin also recently celebrated a birthday, his second. The little guy has no idea how much world he still has laid out in front of him. For Zeppelin it was all about his new desk with interactive buttons, exploring the delightful sound of all the words he has recently discovered coming out of his mouth, and the dozens of balloons his family blew up to help make his day really special. My daughter said after I left he kept pointing at the door and saying “Nana”, that would be me. Loved that. I haven’t been able to get up close and personal with him since the pandemic made itself known so it is nice to know he still understands who I am.

Funny how we humans adapt to our surroundings. There would have been a time not to long ago if someone passed me in the driver’s seat of their car wearing a mask with a skull and crossbones on it, I would have assumed they were either attending a terrorism rally, off to an early Halloween party or had just knocked off a bank. Now it’s just another person dressed to go out for the day. I have probably ten masks in all different colors. People are always stopping me and commenting on them because most of the fabrics are colorful or have critters on them, so I guess they are somewhat more interesting than the plain black or paper models. Had I realized they were going to become such a hot fashion accessory I would have gone into production a few months ago. Truthfully, I could never charge for masks. Somehow that would feel uncomfortable to me. All manner of masks have shown up in the stores, however, so someone is making a profit off of them. There is always someone willing to jump on the band wagon when disaster strikes. No matter what the situation, a tee shirt seems to be generated to mark the occasion. Amazing.

Where there is money to made opportunists will show up for a piece of it. Scams are on the rise. Yesterday I heard there was a new scam involving Amazon. A victim was on the news describing how real the call seemed even down to the fine points like having a number appearing to be genuinely belonging to Amazon. In her case $1,000 was taken from her bank account. I use Amazon all the time, much more so since the bug arrived on the scene. Part of me is annoyed by the site, particularly since the company, so I’m told, doesn’t pay taxes. It aggravates the life out of me when people take, take, take and don’t pay their fair share to the pot. In this tax bracket companies can afford high end accountants well versed in finding the holes in the tax laws custom made to keep them from having to contribute. Conversely, you have a blue collar person working at a minimum wage job scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to pull together enough money to pay what the IRS says is their due. Don’t misunderstand me I’m all about capitalism and the right to do as well as you are capable of doing, but out and out greed is unacceptable to me. Just because you can get away with something does not necessarily make it the right thing to do. At any rate, I continue to go on to Amazon in order to not frequent stores on a regular basis and keep myself as safe as possible. Hypocritical? Most likely. As I say often, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Lately Amazon hasn’t been as reliable as it was in the past. I assume, like everything else, the downswing is due to the pandemic. It is hit or miss when I order a product when or if it will arrive at the front door. Several times of late I have had to generate a refund request for goods never received. When Rick was alive he always said I was his go to girl for any customer service issues. I am all about fairness. Never will I argue a point just to win, but if I feel I am right when it comes to good customer service I am like a dog with a bone. When we owned our restaurant I used to explain often to our wait staff how essential good customer service is to growing a business. Literally, it is the back bone of the restaurant business, or any business really. One dissatisfied customer walking out of the door doesn’t seem like a large loss, but when that customer tells a friend, a co-worker, a relative about their bad experience and they in turn pass it on to their circle that one person can cause a huge ripple effect.

A month and a half ago we invested in a rather expensive pillow for my mom’s wheelchair. From the description, it sounded perfect to keep her backside from getting sores or being uncomfortable after sitting for long periods of time. Because of a series of incidents the pillow didn’t get taken out of the original box until over thirty days after it was received. After being used for several weeks it became apparent it was actually causing sores and irritation rather than reducing the problem and wasn’t equally inflated making it uncomfortable to sit on. After locating a customer service number not listed on the site itself, I got hold of a representative. I explained the situation and, though pleasant, he said I was two weeks past the return window. That being the case, they could not return the money. Hmmmmm. Nicely, I said that would be fine. I went on politely to explain I had invested thousands of dollars with their business and in most cases been satisfied until lately. Since he was unable to return my investment (nearly $500) I would have to console myself by going on their site and posting an honest and detailed review of this product in the hopes of deterring anybody else from being caught in the same situation. The money, in total, was graciously refunded. I suggested they discontinue selling this product as it doesn’t live up to what is described.

We need to learn to have a voice. This does not mean going about bulldozing people down every time we are dissatisfied, but it does mean standing up for what is right. My “voice” is something that has come to me after years of not speaking up, or times I’ve let someone take advantage of me. Now, thankfully, I am able to stand up and fight for what is right. Rick used to say, “she’s little but she’s fierce”. Hah.

Blissfully I am about to slip on my tennis shoes and step outside for an early morning walk. Have a great weekend. Stay safe.

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I believe I might be described as an “A” personality. My friends are always telling me I move like the wind when trying to get something accomplished. I always feel a sense of urgency for some reason, as though I am racing against the clock. Not exactly sure why this is, but I do know it is a feeling I experience often when planning out my day. So much to do, so little time to do it in.

Lately it seems a lot of people are busy. Interesting phenomenon, considering we’re supposed to be sticking around the house watching the grass grow due to the corona virus as well as the putrid air that has prevailed of late here in Northern California due to the fires. What are we doing that creates all this busyness? I know what I’m doing, just curious what the rest of the population is up to. Thankfully, I am rarely bored. I can always find something to do with myself if left with surplus time on my hands. Aside from a myriad of hobbies I enjoy, I get a certain rush from cleaning house (I know, and no I cannot drive to your house and clean yours.), love to cook (most days), and am an avid reader. If all else fails, I can plop myself down on the couch and watch something on Netflix that catches my eye. Sometimes I find it fascinating out of the hundreds of movies I have available to me at my fingertips, I can search for an hour and not seem to find one that makes me want to push watch. Hmmmm.

This week for the first time in weeks today the air is actually less toxic than incapable of sustaining life. Send up the balloons, alert the media!! I believe I can step out my front door and inhale as well as exhale, maybe even take a walk. Stop it. I know. From what I understand, Portland was actually entertaining the worst air quality on the planet a while back. Hard to imagine it that way. Such a beautiful area. I lived for a year in Longview, Washington, a stone’s throw from the Oregon border and about an hours drive to Portland. Often my ex-husband and I shopped in the Portland area. Oregon doesn’t have sales tax, so we always saved a bit at the register while enjoying the gorgeous surroundings in the process.

Though we loved Oregon, Washington state also has much to offer, particularly for the avid outdoors man such as my ex-husband. Verdant forests, prolific waterways perfect for hooking a bass, trout, or crappie, and excellent hunting for those who lean in that direction. I do not. Hunting will never be my bag (if you’ll pardon the pun). An animal lover from my lilac toenails to my unnaturally blonde hair, killing an animal even to cull the herd would be difficult for me to do unless it was mortally injured and in pain. As I’ve said in previous blogs, if I kill ants on my kitchen counter, I send a letter of condolence to the family.

While living in Longview David and I spent most of our days off exploring the gorgeous Southern Washington area. He was a Texan, born and raised. Well, raised at least. Though actually born in Arkansas, his family migrated to Odessa, Texas where he and grew up hunting, fishing, and riding. I’ve always loved communing with nature, but before moving to Washington I’d had little experience baiting a hook. My parents were inside people, though my stepfather loved to garden. For a man who had little use for most of humanity, when working in his garden his touch was gentle, his knowledge vast, and the result of his cultivation skills often breathtaking. Mother simply was not bred for the outdoors. As I’ve mentioned before most of my mother’s people are of English descent with delicate pale peach skin prone to bursting into flames if exposed to extended sunlight. I must have picked up some olive tones from my dad’s side of the pond because though still light in complexion, I’ve always been able to add a nice coating of bronze over the summer months. These days I stay out of the sun as far as “lying out” to promote a tan. Ignorance was bliss when I was growing up so we slathered on the baby lotion and cooked to a golden brown like a Christmas turkey on the beach. My dermatologist is reaping the rewards of all that sun worshiping today.

While living in Washington, Silver Lake was our favorite place to cast a line. According to my ex, early morning hours were the prime time to catch fish. With that in mind, we were often on the lake before the sun rose above the horizon. I never argued the point, having not one single insight into fish and their personal preferences as to when to be hooked. Often when sitting in the boat on these early mornings we would share tidbits about our lives. These conversations were held on the down low so as not to disturb the fish circling the hooks below. This, also a tip from the David. Odessa, I was to learn, was considered one of the most dangerous towns in the nation. The city held the dubious title of one of ten “murder capitals of Texas”. Whether or not Arkansas was written on his birth certificate David was a Texan from the top of his Stetson hat to the bottom of his Lucchese cowboy boots. Men who hailed from those parts were familiar with taking care of themselves, he told me. As I recall David’s mother once said if they couldn’t find him when a youngster they looked for a ring of boys surrounding a mound of dust and David would be somewhere in the middle either beating the tar out of someone or having the tar beaten out of him. These rough beginnings left a lot of jagged edges to be whittled off when carried into adulthood. Some got whittled down, while others, well, that’s another story.

Silver Lake was within driving distance of Mt. St. Helens. Even though the catastrophic erruption had occurred a decade or more before we arrived in the state the evidence was still clearly visible. Everywhere you looked there were trees strewn across the ground or just jagged stumps. Eerie to see and unimaginable to be involved in. Nature surely can pack a powerful punch as is evidenced in everything we see of late. Certainly for people in California and the Gulf Coast the absolute power it can exert over us has been very evident this year.

While in the area we visited the Vistors Center (hence the name). I got a pair of sculpted bears made out of the ash to take home with me. We hiked all around the area and were left in awe of the magnitude of the damage.

Often while in the state we went out into the woods to explore for a day. David was well versed on living on the land. I remember while living in Arkansas he would bring home huge catfish and skin and filet them as if it was a walk in the park. After watching him on multiple occasions, I asked if I could try it. After about two hours I had whittled a six pound fish down to enough edible meat for Kitty (our resident feline at the time) to make a meal out of.

For me, being a city person, it was fascinating to be around someone so well versed in the ways of the woods and the country. I always felt in an emergency if I was with him I wouldn’t have to worry about surviving.

Lately, when we’re told every week to be prepared to leave our houses at a moment’s notice, I leave a bag packed with important papers and essentials, and keep the cat crate close by to carry Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, should we need to make our exit in a hurry.

You can’t live your life in fear. It will be as it is destined to be, or so I believe. However, you can be prepared and that is what I intend to be. Other than that it is a particularly gorgeous Monday morning, my coffee is hot and sweet, and I am prepared to greet my day. Have a great one!

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GRR 2013 Pic 14 - GB

Every third Friday, give or take, my cousin in British Columbia and I spend about an hour on phone catching up on what’s happening in our lives. Though we have never actually met in person, it is uncanny the similarities we find in each other which must have come with our DNA. Her dad was my father’s older brother. I never knew my dad. He knew me, but only for the first year of my life. At twenty-five he died from asphyxiation leaving my mother a young widow with me to raise. This is something my mother never really got over, I believe, as he (according to her) was the love of his life.


I know little really about my father’s family. The players are fairly clear to me, at least the cast that was in place when I arrived on the scene. There were four brothers and one sister. Originally, there had been five boys, but the youngest died of a ruptured appendix at the age of four. I remember my paternal grandmother well, but never knew my grandfather who died of a brain tumor at forty. Each of the children had offspring who, in turn, had children of their own. I would need a playbill to keep track of all the names involved now and would recognize few of the faces. The history of that side of my family comes to me in dribs and drabs. What I have gleaned has been interesting so I hope to continue to fill in the gaps as I get to know them better.

On my mother’s side my cousin, mother’s oldest sister’s eldest, Mary Louise, married Howard. Howard, has a keen interest in genealogy. Some years ago he devoted a sizable amount of time delving into my mother’s people, tracing them back as far as the paper trail would allow. Fascinating to follow the chain of events leading up to the time I decided to pop in and say hello. According to the records our clan even shared some blood with Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church. None of us are Mormon in this generation, as far as I know, but interesting nonetheless. Years back I read “The Twenty-Seventh Wife”, the story of Brigham Young’s twenty-seventh wife, Ann Eliza Webb. Ann Eliza was to be one of fifty-five wives Young took as his own, and later in her life became a strong critic of polygamy and a staunch supporter of women’s rights. I would have been right there marching next to her when it came to polygamy. One mate is enough of a challenge, but multiple, no way.

In some ways we’re all related. “The Brotherhood of Man”, is perhaps a good way to put it, though women seem excluded from that phrase. This is not new news to those of us of the gentler sex. Wouldn’t be the first time we didn’t get top billing to our male counterparts and won’t be the last I’m sure. A single seed populated the world or however you view it. Truth is no matter what your beliefs we had to start somewhere. We didn’t just all appear in unison and begin reproducing. Ah well, heavy thoughts for a Thursday. When I start getting deep into philosophy my mind takes off on so many side roads I can’t keep up with it.

Fires certainly are the talk everywhere in California, and the extreme weather across the country for that matter. Really it is the entire west coast that is burning not only us. Day before yesterday the sky got so incredibly dark early afternoon we had to turn lights on. People in the Bay Area woke up to dark orange skies yesterday and what a friend described as apocalyptical landscapes such as have never been seen before. I texted a friend and said, “should an alien spacecraft land in the middle of my street, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least”. She replied, “me too”. We’re like an over loved martini, both shaken and stirred. Many friends in my old neighborhood in Oroville, California are biding their time with families or at local motels waiting for the firestorm to pass and to get the signal from the fire department they can return to whatever might be waiting for them at home. Wow. If I could so you could see it, I would bring my hands next to my head and signal “mind blown”.

To explain how it feels to wake up with this uncertainty every day, I would liken it to what I imagine people living in war torn countries must experience. Sitting in their homes each day waiting for another bomb to fall and desecrate their neighborhoods or steal a loved one from them. I know for me I’m edgy and not sleeping well. I have several friends in Grass Valley where I moved from two years ago, who just got their power restored after two days without energy. One lady is in her eighties, lives alone, and just lost a son to cancer. I offered to come get her or for her to come here but she chose to stay in her home. She called yesterday to say she wished she’d accepted my offer. Sitting there in the dark, alone, wondering if her street would be next to fall turned out to be a lot to manage. The strain, even if you’re tough like she is, takes it toll when applied liberally day after day.

People in states like Colorado are going up and down the thermometer like a thrill ride at the local amusement park. One day it is sizzling and the next snowing. Bizarre, and more bizarre. Check please.

Yesterday I had an appointment at the ENT’s office for a sinus exam. I arrived at the appointed time and after providing the usual information to the receptionist was asked to wait in the deserted waiting room. K. About an hour later still sitting by myself the nurse came and got me. Well, full disclosure, there was a fish tank and by the time my name was called the angel fish and I were on a first name basis. Apologizing for the long wait, the nurse showed me to an exam room. It seemed the power had been out causing confusion in the office. They were trying to get back on the horse but the horse wasn’t cooperating. After providing more detailed information about my sinus situation, she left me to wait for the doctor. Twenty minutes later he arrived wearing both a mask and a face shield. Again he apologized for keeping me waiting. I said, “no problem”. Truth was it was becoming a bit of a problem because it was getting close to feeding time at my house. The natives in my digestive system were beginning to get restless and I had begun to create unique recipes using cotton balls and antibacterial jelly.

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After doing an exam with the tools on the tray next to him, he announced he was going to scope me. Oh-oh. Didn’t like the sound of that. I’ve never been scoped anywhere on my body that left me wanting to sign up to have it done again. Leaving the room, he reappeared shortly with the instrument of torture. Mama. It looked like something you’d blow up an inner tube with. Pulling on headpiece with a light attached he sat on the stool. Just as he was about to look into my nether regions, the lights went out in the room. “Thank you”, I whispered quietly. Apologizing once more, he said we would have to pass on the scoping for the day. I tried to look disappointed, but even I don’t have the acting chops to make that believable. He then said, “God, I hate this year. This has been the worst year ever, hasn’t it?” I think he realized at that point perhaps this wasn’t the most professional conversation to be having with a new patient so he quickly put his doctor face back on. “I hear ya, Doc”, I wanted to say. “Sucks to be us right now and I’m sure it sucks to be a physician”. I had to fight the urge to give the man a hug. Can’t hug these days either for several reasons. One, you could either get the virus or transmit it and two, you could get sued for sexual harassment. Ah well, I sent him a spiritual hug. Think that’s still okay. If not please don’t let me in on it.

So, with several prescriptions to add to my repertoire we parted. I walked down the long dark hall of the second floor of the building and found myself remembering when life was normal. Sigh. I began to hum as I walked out into the smoky courtyard. You have to remember to sing in the lifeboat, or so they say.

Almost Friday. Next week a clean piece of paper. Stay safe.


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Well Labor Day weekend, historically summer’s last harrah before handing the baton to fall, has been laid to rest. Boy, am I enthusiastic about seeing autumn roll in this year. My weary mind longs for the glorious fall plumage to begin to decorate the trees, to cross a yard piled high with crunchy leaves, and to breathe in the crisp mornings perfectly suited for an early walk. Ahhhhhh.

Summer is starting to show up accompanied by a feeling of dread for little old me. Friday, the local fire department left yet another warning message on my phone extreme fire danger was moving into the northern California area over the holiday weekend along with it the potential for things to get ugly. I kind of thought with the fires still burning from the intense heat and lightning storm of several weeks ago, they were already ugly. The smoke had only began to clear from that situation but two days before Friday’s message and now new smoke was moving in from the fire down by Yosemite. Sigh.

In truth I would relocate at this juncture in my life, if not for the fact my loved ones are firmly entrenched in the California lifestyle. Though I’ve thrown out several lures on the subject of moving to another state, they’re not showing any signs of nibbling at the bait thus far. Theoretically, if I moved, I could fly back and forth from wherever I relocated whenever I chose. My mom is here though. That being said, moving her is out of the question. Where she is, you will find me, and I hope that I will have her with me for many more years. Also, flying does get expensive, and the thought of tucking in with a bunch of strangers in close quarters breathing recirculated air really doesn’t do anything for me at the moment. Add to the pot, moving to this house was my 39th move in a lifetime. The thought of packing it all up again and finding yet another place to hang my hat is daunting, particularly with the world so upside down.

My refrigerator and freezer are packed. This usually is a signal to the universe to leave me without power in 108 degree heat. Last year I tossed the entire contents of my refrigerator twice. PG&E has turned off the lights in certain high risk communities in twenty counties. Thankfully, we are not on the list this time. I am also feeling thankful I don’t own a restaurant anymore. The stress of owning that type of business is high on any given day, but with Covid concerns and all the weather issues plaguing California in 2020, their stress levels must be off the charts. I noticed people eating at a patio dining area yesterday in 108 degree heat. Whew. You could save money and cook the bacon at the table. Even though we have electricity, we are still under a high fire danger warning because of the strong winds accompanying the low moving in. Lately it feels like we have three days of chaos followed by three days of calm. It’s like a steady pattern. All I can do is allow the days to unfold, knowing someone or something far grander than myself is watching out for me and I am safe. This, at least, is how I handle it in order to remain sane (or as sane as I get). Thankfully, a dear friend came to spend the weekend so at least I had company to keep my mind occupied.

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Relocating is not anything new for me. I relocated the first time from Canada when in fourth grade. Though having lived in the U.S. since the age of nine, I have continued to maintain my Canadian citizenship. There is a sense of home that washes over me when I think of Nova Scotia, so I keep my green card current in case I’m called on to use it. Not that I don’t love living in the United States, I absolutely do. However, I have decided when I do apply for my citizenship, which will be post-Covid hopefully within the next year or so, I will get dual so I can straddle the border. Then I can honor my Canadian heritage while being able to vote and live and fully contribute in the U.S. My mother got her U.S. citizenship many moons ago. This leaves me the last man standing (or woman if you will) who can still be sent home in the back of a pickup truck should I do something horrendous to upset the powers that be.

I was surprised to find the fees for getting U.S. citizenship run around $725.00. I don’t know why I was surprised to be honest, the government usually exacts its pound of flesh. I guess I felt that amount might be considered a hefty sum for someone migrating here who perhaps doesn’t have access to a lot of funds. Aside from the fees, applicants must pass a test on U.S. history. I’m not too concerned about passing this. I have heard it is fairly basic. Mother never went to a U.S. school, being an adult when she arrived here, yet she passed with flying colors (red, white and blue to be exact). When she was studying for the test, I asked her the name of the first president of the United States. She answered proudly, “Everyone knows that, it was Abraham Lincoln”. Hmmmm. I don’t believe Lincoln even knew that, Mama, and I’m sure Washington might have been a little put off by the notion as well, but there you go.

Tests don’t bother me. Truth be told, I rather enjoy the challenge of taking an exam that causes my brain to work up a sweat. As a kid I loved to open a book. Up until my junior year, I was an excellent student. A lot of things happened in my personal life that summer between tenth and eleventh grade. Being a teenager was confusing enough without other unsettling outside influences circling around to distract my attention. My freshman and sophomore years went smoothly enough for me. A lot of the faces I’d gone to middle school with now sat behind the desks in my high school classrooms. Aside from an active social life, I involved myself in the Art Club and was on the drill team. Go Colts. My mother remarried the summer between tenth and eleventh grade. This was not a particularly joyous occasion for me. My first stepfather had been a major putz, and I didn’t hold out much hope this second one was going to get much higher marks. Mom and “dad” bought a house soon after the nuptials in an adjacent city, necessitating a move out of my school district. Unable to get an intradistrict transfer to allow me to remain at my old school, at the end of the summer, mother enrolled me in a new high school. The new school was totally unfamiliar territory. Being sixteen is an awkward age, or it was for me. On the first day of school, fraught with insecurities I scanned the mass of students not recognizing one familiar face. I felt like a sea lion set adrift in an ocean of sharks. With no siblings or friends to lean on, that year began and ended on a decidedly sour note. By the time I reached the semester break, it became obvious by my report card and my attitude, the transition was not going well. Mother would drop me off at school on her way to work. I would wave goodbye and walk across campus exiting through a gate on the other side. Rarely did I show up for class. Always before nearly a straight A student, my grades dropped so dramatically I was called into the Dean’s Office for a general grilling by the Dean of Girls. Most of the “Please Excuse the Absence” hand written notes in the chunky file folder open in front of her had been written in my hand. Once that was established a call was made to my parents. Fine.

Like most teens, I assumed I’d already gleaned most of the knowledge available on the planet so opening another book seemed to be a rather futile endeavor. I’m not proud to say, I dropped out of school that year. Being sixteen at the time, I was old enough to make this decision with my parent’s permission. I didn’t say I was wise enough, I was not wise in the least. I simply had earned enough candles on my cake to legally allow me to do some really stupid stuff. I took advantage of that fact quite often during those times. The only reason my mother allowed this at all was she didn’t know what else to do with me other than attend class with me and duct tape me to the chair. To be fair to myself, there were a lot of mitigating circumstances leading up to this great act of defiance, but the decision was mine and I own it to this day. As usual, I didn’t think the book through to it’s natural conclusion. In my immature logic I would go to the beach, loll about in the pool in our back yard, and hang out with my old friends. Problem being, my old friends were in school and the weather was cooling so the pool was far less inviting. After three months of slothing about the house eating everything I had baked out of desperation for any activity, it donned on me life was moving forward without me. Not only was I falling behind, but that behind was growing larger by leaps and bounds each passing day. I had packed twenty pounds on it with the help of junk food and inactivity. Sigh.

I look back at that realization with some pride actually. Being able to analyze what I was doing realistically, comprehend it was taking me nowhere, and reverse course was an accomplishment. Always I have been a person quick to make decisions and this one was also made without much deliberation. After speaking to my parents, it was decided I would go to summer school and pick up some credits. My mother got me into yet another high school where they would allow me to attend out of district. I began my senior year taking half the junior classes I needed to make up with the other half filled in by senior classes. Part of the lesson learned, was at the end of the year while the rest of the class donned their caps and gowns and received their diplomas, I sat in the visitors seats and watched but was not allowed to participate. When everyone piled into limos for a fun “senior night” or went on “senior ditch day” I was home studying. Following “graduation”, or my Readers Digest version of it, I took correspondence courses to make up the rest of the units I was missing. When I completed the final classes, I drove into Los Angeles by myself to take the G.E.D. exam which I tidily aced. Thank you, thank you very much.

I think of this episode in my life now as so many kids are having to learn remotely, missing out on what the school experience has to offer. Like me, it must seem like part of a year carved out of their lives that can never be retrieved only for them it is not a choice. Life is always in a state of flux. One thing I do know is nothing lasts forever, and change is as integral a part of living as breathing, birth and death.

The following fall I enrolled in junior college with Computer Science as my major. However, there was a lot for life to teach me with all those experiences. Sometimes, particularly with me, I have to bash my head against the wall ten times before the message finally sinks into my brain.

So, today I shall start with a moment of gratefulness. I have lights, a roof over my head, unspoiled food in my refrigerator, and I am safe. I think often of the street people stuck outside with no option but to endure whatever Mother Nature throws in their direction. Have a safe day and remember to look around you and be thankful for the haves and not the have nots.

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What a strange and unpredictable year. I’m betting most of you might be on board with that statement. It sure seems like you don’t have long to wait for the other shoe to drop from one unsettling occurrence to the next. Lately when the phone rings I get PTSD.

As I mentioned back a piece, the air conditioning unit at my house is not working properly. The temps at the time it originally went out were ranging from scorching to super scorching even for old sunny California. Let’s face it, the air conditioning rarely fails in the dead of winter. That’s when the heater shuts down. Usually, and this was no exception, the A/C decides to go south right smack dab in the middle of a heat wave. With the A/C limping along, the thermostat in my little piece of heaven was approaching more more like what I imagine hell might feel rather than it’s biblical opposite. Finally, when the butter in the dish in the kitchen completely melted into a golden puddle on my counter and my indoor plants had begun to wilt, I sent up a white flag to my landlord. Even poor Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, lay prone on the cold tile looking for a little relief. The good news is, three weeks have gone by and I have been told the new part is finally arriving some time this week. Fingers and toes crossed, the unit should be repaired in time for the next heat wave which is predicted to be arriving this coming Sunday. Whew. Supposed to be 110 on Labor Day. Life is really conspiring to keep us holed up inside of late. Never can I recall being so glad to say goodbye to summer. Certainly we’re not done with the heat yet, but this morning I raked leaves in my yard so at least I can sense the tiniest hint of fall somewhere off in the distance.

I am trying to decide how to handle the current situation with my landlords. I just got my bill from PG&E, or as I affectionately refer to the utility, “Piggy”. The invoice was for $400 and change. Ouch. PG&E was kind enough to include an energy saving brochure in the envelope. At the moment I have a portable A/C unit running in the house and was told by the A/C technician to keep the semi-functional forced air running as well to maintain a comfortable temperature and keep the air circulating. I can’t open the windows because the air outside is unhealthy due to all the smoke so there is no Option B. Ummmmm, I didn’t find a paragraph in the brochure to address these situations. Personally, I feel my landlord should shoulder some of this outlay. Part of the reason I decided to rent rather than buy was specifically so these sort of expenses could come out of someone else’s pocketbook rather than mine. We have maintained a solid tenant/landlord relationship over the past year and a half and I’m trying to decide if I wish to rock the boat. Since I’ve moved in the stove, microwave, A/C have all broken and had to be replaced. Then there was in the infamous sewage debacle of 2019 which resulted in Haz-Mat teams in the house and no flooring, walls or second bathroom for 60 days. Also, the gorgeous trees providing shade in the back yard had to be chopped down as they were infringing on the power lines. This, is just nature’s way, but the massive pieces of trunk decorated my yard for several months before being hauled off and now I have a naked yard. I think, unless you feel I’m off base, I’ve been fairly patient through all this. Never have I asked for anything other than that what was broken be fixed, but this time it’s hitting me a little harder in my bank account. My expenses seem to be on the rise in general since the pandemic. Food prices have shot through the roof. The other day I went to the market to buy a chuck roast. Remember the times when you could actually get a three pound chuck roast for under $5? I do. This one cost me $22. I asked if a vehicle came with it, and the checker didn’t even lift one side of her lip. Oh, well to her credit, she may have. She was wearing a black mask with puckered pink lips printed on it so perhaps underneath it her actual lips were smiling?

It could be I’m getting a bit cranky. Aside from the continuous onslaught of contentious news coming across the air waves every time I turn on the TV or open the Internet, nothing feels “normal” anymore. I’m starting to think I need a nice long vacation somewhere deliciously tropical with warm white sands and sparkling azure water. Ahhhhhhh.

I’ve heard mental health issues are becoming more common, along with divorce, abuse, and addiction. Usually I am the one digging through the pile of horse manure looking for the horse, but I have to say even I have trouble lately keeping my attitude and outlook upbeat and positive. Also one doesn’t want to appear too perky. I’m afraid if I go bouncing about sprinkling fairy dust as I go someone might step up and clock me over the head with a blunt object.

Yesterday I went to my primary care doctor who in turn is passing me on to a specialist. I have a deviated septum. This is not new news. I have lived with the condition a good portion of my life. When I was sixteen I was playing baseball in the street with a group of friends. Often on a summer afternoon we gathered in front of our apartment complex to hit a ball or two. I was catcher on that particular day, and hunched down to catch the next pitch. A beautiful red Corvette convertible picked that moment to drive by with a very attractive guy behind the wheel. Instead of concentrating on the incoming fast ball, I stood up as the batter took a swing and ate the bat right in the proboscus. Knocked me cold as a wedge, fortunately it missed my teeth and my jaw. My mother whisked me off to the emergency room where they packed both nostrils with what seemed like a hundred yards of gauze and sent me home to recover. The next morning both eyes were totally blacked and my nose has never been totally straight since that day. The bend has created breathing issues on one side where it is now blocking the flow of air. That being said, they are thinking I should have surgery. Probably the last place I’m thinking I’d like to find myself right now is in a hospital with all the germs floating about but we shall see what the specialist has to say and go from there.

Got to say this year just keeps making me smile. I definitely am thinking “big lottery win” to get me to that gorgeous desert island for a few weeks of R&R.

Have a safe and fun holiday weekend.

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Since 2020 is turning out to be such a, shall we say, interesting year, I got to wondering what Nostradamus had to say about it. Apparently he was in the universe’s ear long before events began to unfold noting 2020 as the end the beginning of a lot of major happenings in the world. According to those who have interpreted his writings, a third world war is a possibility during this 365 days. Whew. Really? That’s about the only thing we’ve left out. Climate change was mentioned, including the oceans rising. Some will say climate change falls under the same category as Big Foot, but the truth is the ice caps are in fact melting and we here in California are now enjoying twice as many fire danger days as we have in previous years. The surface temperature of the ocean continues to rise, tropical storms are on the march, snow cover is reduced, and snow is melting earlier than before. Glacier Park has only 25 glaciers remaining from what was originally 150. One can only stick one’s head in the ground for so long without coming up for air, and with the rate we humans are shrinking the rain forests air may not be an option by the time we decide to pull our heads out and take a look around.

My oldest granddaughter, Breanna, is a vegan. Bre eats nothing, as she puts it, “that has parents”. Though I am a meat eater of long standing I highly respect her decision to leave as light a footprint on our world as possible. Unfortunately, her grandmother’s closet addiction to cheeseburgers keeps me from standing shoulder to shoulder with her in this cause.

With the sky outside tinged an unsettling shade of pink it is difficult to find normal ground. This is not my first pink summer here in sunny California. When I lived in Oroville some years back we endured months of smoky skies and pink tinged sunsets.

This morning the weather anchor announced there were two hurricanes moving into the Gulf Coast. This, so she said, was a phenomena she had never experienced in her career before. Wish some of that rain would move to the west and douse our burning behinds, but guess Mother Nature has her own agenda.

Makes me yearn for a road trip. In my early twenties my first husband and I took a trip across the U.S. and Canada lasting just under a year. My two children were two and three at the time, and though unaware of the adventure they were having, they loved being along for the ride. The trip began in Sunnyvale, California and culminated in Lynn, Massachusetts. During that trip we visited a good portion of the states sandwiched in between the west and east coast as well as detouring up through several of the Canadian provinces when the opportunity to do so arose. Our goal? I don’t think we had a goal. Most probably we would have kept on going when we arrived in Lynn but for the fact we had depleted our funds to a rather alarming point, and the weather was beginning to lean towards fall and it was time to come in from the cold and lay down some deeper roots for our children.

Our first home, if you will, in Massachusetts was a walk-up apartment on the third floor of an old and someone dilapidated apartment building known simply by locals as The Yale. Before we has set out we sold or gave away our household goods and belongings. Anything extra went into a small storage unit which we never returned to. We had brought no furniture to speak of other than a card table and a couple of folding chairs. To say we were traveling light would have been an understatement. Four sleeping bags provided us with some cushion from the linoleum floor in the apartment, but not much. Even as young as we were, stiff bones were often the status quo each morning when first we opened our eyes.

There was a second hand store down the block where we decided to do our first shopping. Faded jeans, shorts and tennies were our choice of dress on the road but the prospect of getting jobs loomed on the horizon and we had to move up a couple of notches from there the style book in order to begin interviewing. Back then women were expected to wear dresses, hose and heels to work. Casual Friday hadn’t been implemented in businesses as yet, and “pants suits” were just beginning to show up on design books for the upcoming season. Hated pantsuits. Polyester nightmares. A blazer with matching pants that once worn for more than fifteen minutes sagged in the rear and at the knees, and generally were geared to be as unflattering to your figure as possible. Men actually wore them too. I remember my mother bringing home a “salmon” colored pantsuit for my step-father. This was paired with a pair of white patent leather shoes and matching belt topped by a multi-colored silk shirt with three buttons flared open to reveal chest hair and a medallion. The man was a middle school principal but this outfit virtually screamed “pimp”.

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At any rate we carefully chose some “work clothes” from the gently used section to wear as we began our job search. There wasn’t much money to carry us until one or the other brought home a paycheck, so we lived quite frugally that month. As the days passed, the floor seemed to be actually getting harder as we lay down to sleep each night. One weekend after my husband had gotten an invitation to begin work for a firm in Boston in a week, we decided to take a day trip to New Hampshire and take in some of the glorious fall scenery only New England has to offer. Our car was an old yellow Ford station wagon. Younger readers are shaking their heads, “station wagon”, Que es? The back seat flattened out (much like an SUV) so there was room to store something large or simply stretch out. Driving along rural highways the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. Never have I seen such vibrant colors in the leaves. Feeling a slight crick in my lower back I commented to my husband I surely wish we could afford a mattress. He promised once we got settled somewhere, new beds for all would be at the top of our list. Not ten minutes later, a large flat bed truck pulled onto the highway in front of us. The bed of the truck was stacked high with mattresses each covered with heavy plastic. The top layer wobbled precariously just above the last slat of wood holding them in place. Noting what a funny coincidence it was to have a mattress truck in front of us when I’d just wished for one, the very top mattress got a good gust of wind under it and lifted up and over the top slat landing in the ditch at the side of the road. Hello? We honked the horn but the driver kept on driving down the road and off into the distance. I suggested perhaps we could catch up to them but instead we pulled over to the side and sat quietly. Now I knew what the thought process was going on under that gorgeous head of curly hair my husband had been gifted with. Had I not after all wished for this mattress? Was it right to turn down such a gift? HOLD ON. This was not a gift it was a mattress that belonged to someone else sitting in a ditch at the side of the road. Hmmmm. Moral dilemma. So, we decided to go have lunch on down the road and if on the way back should the mattress still lay in the ditch abandoned we would offer it a home. It would be more like a rescue mission. Done and done. Three hours later and much moral argument come and gone, we once again pulled over to the side of the road. The mattress, little the worse for wear, still lay in the spot it had landed with one tear in the side and a flapping piece of plastic to mark the spot. Convinced this was a godsend (by ourselves naturally) we hopped out of the car and began to load the ill gotten gains in through the tailgate. Out of nowhere another car rose up over the hill and pulled up directly behind us. Ach. My mind is yelling, “I told you. The jig is up. You’re going to the big house.” A man stepped out of the drivers side and walked up to where we are standing. I am literally doing everything but giving myself up for the gum I stole in third grade from the corner store. The man introduced himself and offered to help my husband with the mattress. Appeared he too was from California and had noticed our plates. My bladder was willing itself to hold on. I knew on that day I would never be Bonnie to anyone’s Clyde. The mattress, however, did turn out to be a blessing. My little ones were up off the floor and in the next few months we moved into a house on the lake and new beds were bought for all. We kept that mattress for years after that. It was sort of our good luck charm.

Life often steps up to the plate when you’ve just delivered strike two. I always liked that story even if it did involve a little light fingered larceny.

With everything going on outside it made me smile to remember that crisp fall day and the mattress from the gods. My husband used to call this talent for thinking about something and having it materialize “wishcraft”. That being said, I am wishing for clear blue skies and fresh air. Sending it out.

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To put emphasis on the amount of stress induced energy I’ve expended over the past several weeks, I woke up this morning and ran a brush through my hair to look down and find a clump of blonde hair with long gray roots visible in the palm of my hand. Stress can take you down. Certainly in my life there’s been a fair share of it. I always wondered if perhaps I got my share and somebody else’s accidentally slopped over onto it as well. I’m sure there are many people who have had far more to deal with than I have, but when it all piles up in a big floppy mess it begins to feel a tad overwhelming.

Where do I begin? Two days ago a friend of mine and I were about to enjoy breakfast together at my house. I had no sooner served up the plates than a call came in on my house phone. An evacuation order had been issued for residents on my street due to an active fire somewhere in the area. I often say it, but it is so, so true, life has the propensity to change in an instant. There are no forevers, or for sures in life. The only for sure I can think of is the statement I just made.

As we were grabbing things to throw in the car a knock at the door by a member of the police department signaled we needed to get moving. The cat, sensitive to the upswing in activity in the house, had ensconced herself in the far corner beneath the bed. Let me preface this paragraph by saying I am usually the “level head” in an emergency. There have been a lot of fires in my life (literally not figuratively) and I have learned if you approach an emergency in a logical and methodical way, it serves you better than running around in circles screaming call 9-1-1 until you pass out in a puddle of your own making. Yesterday, however, I tore the page describing logic and methodical thinking right out of my play book, and completely had a melt down. My kitty has been my right hand girl since Rick died. Miss Boo and I have shared many a sleepless night, and memory laden day together weaving our way through the grief process. No way, would I ever leave her furry butt behind, and she just wasn’t coming on the journey by handing me her paw and hopping in her crate. Finally, thank God, the universe, and whoever you thank for such miracles, the cat popped out from under the bed and was unceremoniously tucked in her carry all. Breathe, Susie.

Grabbing what we could, we threw things in the trunk of my car. Formulating a quick plan we determined it safer to leave his truck behind and leave together. Piling his dog, Miss Boo, medications, laptops and cell phones one on top of the other in the back seat, I went up and locked the door to the house and got in the car. I stopped for one long look at my little house before turning away. Just last week ago I had put the finishing touches on my decorating by adding a new dining room table to the mix. I haven’t even served my first meal on it yet. You realize quickly when something like this happens to you, what is really important. The people, animals and things I needed to be in the car for me to drive away were all accounted for.

I have to thank my neighbors, and when this is over I will do so formally, for stopping by to check on me and make sure I knew what was going on or see if I needed any help. Taking care of others during everything happening in our world at the moment is right up there with taking care of you and yours. Personally I think doing this will heal what’s ailing our world far more than anything developed in a lab.

About an hour after we were safe and gone, my landlord texted me to say the fire department had gotten the fire under control. Apparently it was started by a car going over an embankment into some dry brush. Thank God, truly. Back we went with Miss Boo singing a victory song all the way down the hill. The cat does not do well with any creature discomfort.

Once home, my friend decided to stay with me the rest of the week. With the record heat wave blazing California in all ways it was a comforting to know someone would be around. The house was hot on our return. The predicted high temperature was to be 110, and the thermometer in the hall was reading 88. Whew. I contacted my landlord to say the A/C wasn’t working at all. They were aware it was limping along, and had ordered a part a few days prior that hadn’t arrived yet. She told me to hang in there. K. By 5:00 p.m. with the heat of the day beating down on the roof the thermometer had climbed two more degrees. The cat and dog were both beginning to pant, and I can’t say for sure but I believe I saw my friend’s tongue out a time or two as well. I tried to secure a hotel room in the area but refugees from the fire up on the hill about an hour from us were dribbling downhill and there were no rooms available. Swell. Finally at 10:30 the landlord brought us a portable A/C unit which I am happily sitting in front of a the moment enjoying the delicious cool air it is producing.

Smoke has filled our atmosphere outside with the sky an eerie pinkish color and the air biting and acrid. Ash has rained across the yard, and I will say once again if the Four Horseman rode on by I probably wouldn’t even notice their passing.

My friend brought me an air purifier which is helping my asthma hold on. Sometimes you just have to let go and let the universe take the COM. For now, I am enjoying a much needed moment of cool, calm, quiet.

Please pray for all those people in active fire zones or send them energy or whatever your belief might be. Trust me it is a scary and earth changing experience to be yanked from your home and not know if it will be there when you return.

So today my mind is filled with images of cool sand and tropical beaches and lots of grateful thankful thoughts. Stay safe.

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Rain is sheeting down my windows, my Christmas trees are twinkling, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, is curled by my feet, steam is rising from my coffee and all is right with the world. I’m enjoying one of my “near perfect moments”. They happen here and there when the stars align with the moon and the planets and everything, in spite of the strife and hard angles involved in existing on this earth, falls into perfect alignment. For just that moment in time life is totally, undeniably, beautiful.  If I could bottle this precious commodity therapists would be taking down their shingles and looking for another line of work and Boo and I would be languishing on a gloriously warm white sandy beach somewhere drinking Mai Tai’s and watching buffed, tanned young men arrange the lawn furniture.

I know I experience these soul touching snippets of time but wonder if others do.  Perhaps when a parent watches their deaf child react to hearing their voice for the first time, or a tired driver turns a corner on a rural road to find fields of lavender spread out before them, or standing at a window watching the first light snowflakes of the season drift slowly down to earth. Whatever your idea of perfection, I would be interested to know.

More and more of these special moments have been revealing themselves as I begin to come up out of the fog of the last year or two and look towards the future. As I’ve mentioned there is a coring out associated with losing someone dear to you that clears the road for a new and different version of yourself to emerge. Possibilities for what could come to be as time unfolds began to take form.

People ask me so often if I have met anyone, or if I am interested in exploring a new relationship. My best answer to the former “too soon”, and to the latter, “I don’t know”. Right now I am trying to discover who I am. If I don’t know who I am how can someone else hope to get to know me? This got to me wondering what type of person I would want to meet. Over the years I may not have zoned in on exactly what I needed in a partner, but I certainly have crossed off a lot of what I did not need.

Partnering is not for sissies. It is difficult enough just to be you but to be “us” with someone else takes patience, compromise, and perseverance. How do you know what type of person is the best fit for you? Do you choose a person with like interests and tastes? Possibly. However, for all that we humans seem alike, we are all so vastly different.  Watching a ballet troupe perform Swan Lake might move one person to tears while at the same time leave the person next to them longing for a No-Doz. Where our physical construction remains basically the same our emotional makeup is so much more complicated and unique. Often I question whether relationships with two like people work better than those where the pair are polar opposites. In my case someone just like me might either cause sparks to fly or snoring to ensue. I might be less than stimulated to have a partner who agreed with every premise I supported rather than offering me opposing views to mull over and consider.

So, will I have another serious relationship in my life? This remains to reveal itself. Certainly I have had my share of relationships. Being somewhat of a nester, I seem to naturally gravitate to setting two places at the table. I hear opposing views on the subject. Though I have many happily attached friends, I also have single friends who would rather cut off their own foot than immerse themselves in another serious relationship. These friends prefer their own company cherishing the freedom to do what they want when they want to do it.  I have to admit there is a sort of heady feeling to being able to move about unencumbered. However, I do so miss having Rick at home waiting for me with a smile when I arrived at the door or worrying about me if I was running late. I like sharing my day with someone interested in hearing about it, and settling in for a cuddle and a little TV before getting ready for bed.

There are a lot of activities I find more fun with a companion. This does not mean I can’t have fun alone, I most certainly can. However, there is also something special about sharing the experience with someone who I enjoy spending time with. Travel, for example. I prefer to travel with someone, though traveling alone is not alien or frightening to me. Part of my job description in my last job in the Bay Area was being flown about the U.S. orchestrating trade show details for the product our company manufactured.  Usually first on the scene, my job was to secure a hospitality suite where I would set up shop as home base for our executives to do business with and entertain prospective clients and investors. This would include ordering lavish spreads, preparing giveaway bags, and selecting high end wines. Often these rooms were pricey units on secured floors with all the amenities afforded those who can foot the bill. Though there was lots of work involved in promoting these shows, certainly it was not a difficult perk to swallow that I went back after a long day to an exquisite suite and was provided a carte blanche room service agreement. Where some would have been dining on the deck enjoying pate or lobster bisque washed down with a fine pinot noir, I could often be found bouncing on the bed, ordering a cheeseburger and fries with a beer, and stuffing all the little toiletries in my suitcase to add to my collection at home.

Traveling is high on my list of things I would love to do more of with or without someone to hit the road with. Greece and Italy beckon me all the time, and though I have seen Paris and London there is so much more of Europe I would like to leave a footprint on. A return trip to Nova Scotia is definitely on my “Things I Must Do Before I Can’t” list. No matter how many years spread out between my last visit there, I still yearn to see it again. Home, after all, will always be home no matter where you hang your hat. Also, I am looking forward to meeting my dad’s tribe, many of which I have never met, sometime next year. Deep down below these brown roots I will always be Canadian with a healthy mix of American now thrown in for good measure.

With the new year about to arrive I have begun thinking seriously about how to use 2020. Where do I want to go and what do I want to do? I believe, again referring to my heritage, after living so many years in the U.S. it is time to apply for dual citizenship. With the present atmosphere around citizenship in this country I don’t want to be waving at my family from the back of a truck headed north of the dividing line. I do wish it wasn’t so expensive to get this done. I just paid nearly $1000 to get my Canadian paperwork up-to-date. I’m told this could take upwards of fifteen months due to the high volume of applicants. Whew.

Also my thoughts have turned to reeducating myself perhaps in a different field. You are never too long in the tooth to learn something new. I know I have some snow on the roof but I’m still capable of putting words together in a sentence and having a cogent thought from time to time. Surely I can still be retrained? I think older adults should be given life credit for lasting this long. Hopefully, unless you cruised through your life with your eyes and eyes on mute you have picked up some knowledge along the way. I like to think I have, though there are probably some out there who might argue this point. I have fallen on my face on many occasions but managed to pick myself up and take a lesson from why I tripped in the first place. Having been married four times one might say I was a slow learner, but I prefer to think of myself as optimistic about love. Makes it easier to sleep at night.

So as I ponder my world and what is to come, I am happy to report almost all my holiday shopping is done. I have made an early resolution that next year I will not do this amount of shopping. Instead I will try to pick out something small but meaningful or make something for each of my loved ones. Most of my friends have opted to tuck a check in their Christmas cards to those relatives they give to, but I needed one more year of shopping and wrapping under my belt before I handed over the baton. It was most fun and my tree skirt is happily covered with brightly wrapped gifts. Boo, who believes everything in this house is actually hers only being on loan to me as long as I feed her, works on undermining this effort every day.

Have a great one. Learn a new word, try a new food, say hi to someone who looks like they might not say hi back. Make it count.

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