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Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

Sometimes I think our devices are more trouble then they’re worth. My new phone, though I love it, can be really annoying at times. For example, I had the phone sitting in front of me recently and was engaged in a discussion with someone in the room about the weather. Suddenly, my phone lit up and displayed a link to to an APP for making weather tracking easier. Siri, it appears, was listening. Siri is always listening. If she had a cup pressed up against our walls, she couldn’t be gathering more information about our lives. I just hope she isn’t watching. I’m just saying.

The other day while seated in the movie theater, the flashlight on my phone turned itself on without any encouragement from me. For some reason, no matter what I tried, including putting in a request to the ever present Siri, it refused to turn off. I wrestled with it so long, an usher finally came to the aisle and asked if something was wrong. Explaining the situation to him, he suggested turning the phone off. Oh. Embarrassing. Have to give it to that kid, he resisted what I suspect was his first impulse, rolling his eyes. The fun part of that sentence is, I was in a movie theater. It’s been some time since I’ve ventured into one, and have to say I really enjoyed it. The theater we chose is one of those with the incredibly comfortable chairs where you can pre-select your seats. The seating chart on the website allows you to see what seats have already been purchased, so we chose three seats in a section away from the majority of the people, and it worked out perfectly. You might ask, why would we do that when Dale, dealing with cancer, is obviously someone not needing to be exposed to a precarious health situation where the virus might be lurking. After weighing the pros and cons involved with taking a chance and going, and following all the necessary measures to ensure he was well protected, the best answer would have to be, “because he really wanted to go”. We have all been vaccinated and he and I have survived the virus, we wore masks and we kept far away from the other movie goers. He has a lot on his bucket list to accomplish and we want to make sure he crosses some of those items off as the disease progresses. In the end, no matter what the circumstance, I believe it is better to live your life as fully as you can, while you can, and never sit around passing time waiting for life to happen to you. Life is very whimsical. Truth is, feeling secure about tomorrow in many ways is only an illusion. So many things can come along in a twenty-four hour period capable of totally changing the direction you are currently heading. While tucked away in your bed a tree could fall on your roof, a runaway car could come flying through your bedroom wall, or a poisonous spider could plant a mouthful of fatal venom in your behind. There are no guarantees on what tomorrow will look like, so best to do what you can when you can. Not to be depressing, but the reality is we, as living beings, are marching steadily towards dying, from the day we draw our first breath. So, without being irresponsible or stupid about what you are doing, I think it is important to live with the most verve that you can each day you are here. Expect the unexpected. That is my mantra, and I’m giving it my best shot. I may have a tee shirt made.

Speaking of making tee shirts, I believe that will be my next project. Several months ago, I had some demo shirts printed of my various designs. I wore several of them around town to see if that elicited any comments or reactions from people I interacted with. Happily they did. So far, the feedback has been positive, which gives me incentive to move forward with my plans. Definitely within the next year, I need to come us with something to generate some extra income. I don’t want to go back to a regular job, but would rather pursue something that captures my imagination. It’s a weird time for me, as I’m sure it is for many of us, and I need to find my joy and center myself once again.

Another unexpected occurrence, though not really a surprise with the drought and lack of rain of late, was there was yet another fire in my old neighborhood this week. The unexpected part of that statement, is not that there was a fire, but that is was the second to pop up in that many weeks, and closer to the town itself. Friends of mine were evacuated, making me thankful yet one more time, I made the decision to sell my house in the mountains and move down to the valley. Also, made me most grateful those who were evacuated were able to return to their homes today thanks to the wonderful firefighters getting the fire quickly under control. These firefighters are amazing. Our unsung heroes. They get out on the fire lines weighed down by layers of heavy protective gear, work in unbearable heat, and battle these dangerous blazes until the last ember is extinguished. Because I have some understanding from the footage I see on TV of what they must be enduring, I try not to complain too much about the smoke in the air. Hard to work up a good whine, when I am safely inside with the A/C running and my air purifier cranking away in the corner.

Life is in such disarray these days, I keep my mind off things by enjoying pleasant daydreams of moving to a lovely cottage by the shore. In my minds eye, I can picture the interior of the building with French doors opening up onto a bright and sunny deck. I see sheer curtains blowing in the gentle sea breeze at one of the many windows, each providing a view of the glistening sea beyond the deck. Each morning waking up to the calling of the gulls and the peaceful heartbeat of the ocean as it moves in and back across the sand. Ahhhhhh. In this cottage in one corner where the light is perfect, I would set up an easel, with all my drawing tools arranged on trays around it. The kitchen would have an oval pan rack hanging over a generous center workspace, and in the bedroom, there would be a wood stove and a comfy overstuffed bed with lots of brightly colored pillows and throws tossed across it for settling in with an excellent book. They say if you imagine it long enough ……

What’s interesting, to me at least, about these daydreams, is I have never verbalized them to anyone. Well, at least, until the paragraph above, which I wrote yesterday. Up until I hit publish on this blog, they have remained only sweet, wistful wishes floating about in my brain as I’ve been going through my day. Oddly enough, however, after writing the paragraph, essentially giving the thoughts life, I have begun to be inundated with pictures of beautiful homes by the sea on my social media pages. Siri really is good. Not only can she see you and hear you, but apparently she can also feel you. Someone posted an array of pictures featuring a gorgeous home on Prince Edward Island. How I would love to visit there one of these days. The home was Victorian in style with modern flourishes. The aerial view of the property showed the ocean not far from where the house was located. The inside was immaculate and impeccably decorated. The huge well-appointed kitchen literally made me salivate on my new “If you can’t find the sunshine, be the sunshine” tee shirt. I’m spreading the word. There were numerous bedrooms and bathrooms, a great room, a formal living and dining room, a large laundry room and a myriad of other enticing amenities. All that house on a large chunk of ocean front land and they were asking $386,000 and change. Wow. This house I’m currently occupying is under 1,200 square feet. If you turn around in one room you might find yourself entering another. In California the market value for this home runs close to $500,000. There is no garage, mind you, and the grounds, though not postage stamp size, are most certainly not what you’d advertise as acreage. If you wish to get an ocean view from here, it will necessitate getting in your car and driving four hours west.

My “wishcraft” as Rick was always calling it, seems to be on the money of late. I think about something I would like to happen, and before long it seems to materialize. I believe my receptors somehow either got a good cleaning with all the high wind passing through our area, or that knock on the head I got last week when someone left the cupboard door open (no names shall be mentioned), shook something loose over the hair line. Rick often hinted I should use some of my pseudo magic powers to work the numbers on the lottery or the Keno cards in Vegas. I don’t think it’s that kind of magic. If it was, I would throw a spell in Dale’s direction to reverse the cancer and rewrite the end of that story. Unfortunately, we are where we are. Watching him begin to fail, brings up a lot of memories for me of when Rick was at a similar stage. Though they both were diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, it has manifested itself differently in both men. Thankfully, at least so far, there has been discomfort, but little pain. I hope that will remain the case. In this way, the cancer experience for both men has similarities. For those dealing with lung cancer, from my experience, it is all about the breathing. Being an asthmatic, I totally empathize with that feeling of being unable to gather a breath. It is very scary, triggering the bodies fear mechanisms and creating much anxiety. There are so many synchronizations between these two men in my life. Same diagnosis, same doctor. It’s weird, but then my life tends to run along a weird and peculiar vein. People ask how we’re dealing. Hard to answer that question. We’re dealing. One step in front of the other. Deep breaths, I say, and then we soldier on. All you can do really. We throw in lots of hugs, and many laughs and pour in a large helping of hope and make the best of a bad situation.

On the subject of soldiering, I want to stop here to acknowledge the fallen men and women in Afghanistan. Like our firefighters, these brave people are responsible for depending our citizens and those in foreign lands, and sacrifice so much to keep us safe. I will never understand war. The cost will always be too much, in my estimation, to ever justify the gains expected to be achieved by engaging in it. Watching what is going on overseas, does solidify my feeling of gratefulness at being fortunate enough to live in a country that welcomes freedom. I guess I don’t think anymore, as I have logged a few years on this planet, that anything is really totally free. As with the balance in all things, for what you receive, something is generally given up in kind to keep the scales in check. However, I am viewing my blessings today, and trying not to dwell on those things that make my heart heavy.

The winds are up outside this morning. The air is supposed to get better as the day progresses so my plants and flowers in my unhappily neglected garden will be thankful to get some much needed oxygen and water. Have a safe and grateful day.

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A rapidly moving fire broke out in my old neighborhood several days ago. Many people I know either had to be evacuated, or were at the very least, in danger of having to leave their homes. Though everyone is doing okay, people in the next town over from them are surveying the damage, many returning home to find nothing remaining but ashes. I am feeling very grateful this morning to be down in the valley. A picture popped up on Facebook when the evacuations were in progress, taken by someone located about three miles from Dale’s trailer. Huge plumes of smoke were visible billowing up on the hillside. His trailer is still parked up on the lot he occupied before coming to stay my house. As of this writing, it is still standing, but it was a close call. His direct neighbor, though their house is still in place, can’t return home with their seven animals because all the power lines are down and there is no electricity. Though I’ve never experienced having to live in a war torn country, sometimes these fire ruled summers feel a bit like I might imagine it, though obviously to a far lesser degree.

Though the local fire appears to be under control, we woke up this morning to find the the air full of smoke in our neighborhood. This smoke has blown in from another blaze much farther north of us that is still very active. It used to be I loved the breeze, finding it peaceful to watch the movement of grass on the lawn, or to hear the leaves rustling in the trees. Now, it is a signal of danger, as the brush in California is bone dry, there is no water in our reservoirs, and there are not enough fire personnel to fight these mammoth blazes once they erupt. Again, PG&E’s dirty hands are involved in the fire bringing us the smoke. A tree fell against one of their lines. Everybody is busy poking fingers at everyone else. Each summer it gets a little worse, but what to do?

We are stuck inside so are making the best of it. A technician came this morning to fix our internet connection to our cable. Recently we had to replace a box and it threw everything else out of alignment. Literally, I spent hours climbing around in the snakes nest of cords behind our large flat screen trying to address the problem. One phone tech after another rebooted on their end, walked me through progressive steps on my end, and to no avail. I connected, disconnected, located yellow wires, and red. I should get paid the big bucks and do this for a living. I’m getting pretty good at it. This time, I just couldn’t figure it out. Finally, I threw in the towel and asked them to send somebody out. What a nice guy. I pay a fee every month for maintenance on their equipment. If I didn’t have that connected to my account, I would have had to pay $100 for the privilege of having a repairman on the premises. He performed his magic in about a half an hour and now the TV and internet are working perfectly. I took the time to text a great review when prompted on my phone. When somebody goes above and beyond I think it’s important to acknowledge them.

I’m not the greatest person to watch TV with. Since the day I was born, I seem to have an over abundance of energy. Have to say Covid took care of that situation for about a month leaving me listless and without juice, but my energy level has returned to optimum speed of late. When I sit and stare at a flat screen, I have to be doing something else with my hands. If I don’t occupy myself, it won’t be long before my head is thrown back against the pillow and I’m sucking in air. Just the way it is. My theory is that I burn at such high octane most of the day, when I actually slow down and relax, like my laptop, my body goes into sleep mode. Fortunately, I am able to “power nap” as I call it. When I was working full time I used to sneak in a quick nap during lunch time on occasion. Behind my desk, I kept a small camping mattress. After I’d eaten, I’d close the door to my office, and take a 15 minute siesta. Somehow, I am able to set my internal clock to the time I need, and my mind sends out a wake up call when the elapsed time has passed. Weird, but then a lot of things about me are a little off bubble.

Thinking about plopping down on the floor on an air mattress doesn’t sound that inviting anymore. I prefer my nice soft mattress, and some fluffy pillows. Camping, I believe, though never say never, is intertwined in my past stories, not my future. However, one never knows what new stories you are going to find when you turn the next page. I’m open to new adventures every day. My son and his brood just posted pictures of them parachuting. He asked if I’d be interested in jumping out of a plane next time they go. That would be a negatory. They would have to pry my white knuckled hands off the door handle and knock me out with a baseball bat first. I am planning on zip lining. It is quite near the top of my bucket list. Not as adventurous to some, I would imagine, but it works just nicely for me. Someone asked if I would be interested in zip lining over the Grand Canyon. Um, again, that would be negatory. I don’t have a death wish, but wouldn’t mind injecting a little excitement in my life. Also, I would like to go white water rafting again. My first time was amazing, and I would sign up enthusiastically to experience that rush again.

In my twenties, I went camping regularly. Young bones don’t mind sleeping on the ground as much as older bones do I’ve found. We would pitch a tent, throw a sleeping bag on the ground, and sleep peacefully 8-10 hours. Please. Now, I have the most comfortable mattress in the world, and if I’m lucky enough to log seven hours of sleep on it, I throw a party. One of my favorite places to camp, specifically boat camp, was Cottonwood Cove on the Colorado River. You couldn’t ask for a more perfect setting to be outdoors. Pictures of the area are imprinted in my mind as if I’d stepped on shore there only yesterday. In the morning we would cook over a Coleman stove. There really is nothing to quite equal the aroma of bacon cooking outdoors. The water, that time of day, unless the weather was less than perfect, was pristine. Skiing across it was effortless, with no push back on your feet like you experience in choppy water. It was like skiing over a sheet of glass. That was my favorite time of the day to go.

Usually we set up camp several miles down river from the marina. There wasn’t much out there but gorgeous scenery, scrub brush, and sparkling river water. Being resourceful, and with no facilities where we were, we constructed a makeshift toilet. The toilet was dubbed “Lou” appropriately. Lou was a lawn chair with the webbing on the seat removed. One of the men had cut out an oval in the center of a piece of wood and placed a toilet seat and lid in the hole. Both were attached to the seat of the chair. A small shovel hung from a chain next to one arm. You get the idea. They had even thought of adding a side pocket where a newspaper and puzzle were available for those who like to linger a while after a big meal. Each person dug a hole, did what they needed to do, covered same and moved Lou to a new location. Very efficient.

There were so many sights to see on the Colorado. While visiting I saw owls, mountain goats, wild donkeys, eagles soaring overhead, all manner of lizards and even a snake or two. Midday the heat moved in with intensity. We would either sit in the shade on the bank, or take our lawn chairs into the water and submerge ourselves up to our necks to cool off. Fish would come and nip at the air bubbles on our bathing suits through the webbing on our chairs, which at first was a rather odd sensation. The women never took any makeup. The only cosmetic needed was sunscreen. You definitely needed to lather up. Back then we didn’t have as much knowledge as we do now about the dangers of tanning. I have paid for my years gathering rays with having many pre-cancers removed as time has passed. Hindsight, as they say, is 20-20. Also, if you tended to burn rather than tan you needed to find a place in the shade, because even sunscreen couldn’t fully protect you from a bad sunburn when exposed out there.

One weekend we sank a boat while on the river. The beautiful ski boat, picked up brand new on a Friday night, was gathering moss at the bottom of the river two days later. Thankfully, those of us on board were all safe. There were three boats with us that ill fated weekend. The first day there, the weather was perfect. Waking up the second morning, however, the sky had turned grey. The wind picked up enough so that we had trouble keeping the tent stakes anchored. Deciding to wait it out until the following morning, when we woke up the sky looked positively menacing. Determining the best course of action was to break camp and head back to the marina. The first two boats headed up river before us, while we tore down the remaining campsite and loaded what gear was left behind. The wind had picked up to an alarming pitch and it was becoming difficult to hear one another in between gusts. My daughter, eight at the time, myself, my fiance, two friends and their young daughter, piled into the boat and pushed off. Once out on the water it felt more like being on a rough ocean, than a peaceful stretch of river. The boat rode up and over waves and pitched down the slope on the other side. Still moving forward, we appeared to be making some progress, when the engine swamped. This left us freely floating in the waves. Before long water began to enter the boat over the sides. Seeing things were headed for a bad end, I straddled the bow of the boat with one leg on either side to balance myself, and began waving a white towel I had found under the seat in the air. Amazingly, I wasn’t tossed into the churning water. By this time the people in back seat were submerged up to their underarms. It became obvious without assistance, we were all going to be in the water shortly. The prow of a boat, a cabin cruiser riding so much higher out of the water than our low profile ski boat, suddenly came into view in the distance. By the time they reached us, the people in back seat were fully in the water and the bow of the boat was halfway pointing to vertical. The boat pulled up next to us. I handed off my daughter and the other little girl and was suddenly pitched into the waves. I can remember bobbing up and down like an ear of corn in a boiling pot of water out there. With each resurface, I’d take in more water, and my limbs were starting to get tired. A guitar floated by, belonging to my friend’s husband also in the water. He had had to knock his wife out, as she couldn’t swim, because she panicked and was drowning them both. At one point it seemed I was moving away not toward the rescue boat. Coming up one more time, an oar was being held out in front of me. I grabbed onto it, and at last helpful arms sucked me up out of the water. In the end we were all saved but the boat, which went down like a bag of rocks. All I had with me was the bathing suit and shorts I had on. My purse, my ID, my credit cards, my mother’s engagement ring all went down with the ship, so to speak. When I think of that experience I can’t help but remember those angels on that boat. They were the only ones out there in our area in that storm, and they told me they wouldn’t have known we were there, except they had seen the white towel. Guess it wasn’t our time to go.

Don’t think I’m going to be seeing that kind of excitement today. An eerie red sheen is pouring across my table and the sun looks more like a blood moon. So, I will entertain myself doing things I like to do and close out the outside for now. Have a safe day.

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Birthday months are coming up in my family. I keep a calendar to remember all of them, but in spite of the effort, often find myself sending belated birthday cards these days. Too much going on to keep up with, and it leaves me feeling totally disorganized. My cat is sitting at my feet as I write this, waiting impatiently for her morning allotment of fishy treats. Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, could care less if I miss a birthday or two here or there, or if dinner is on time, or I’m behind schedule. Her main concern is four times a day I show up with two treats in my hand for her to enjoy. My, my, we are a tad self involved, even for a feline. Being her one and only well loved human, I do my best to keep her needs met. Keeping everybody happy is a job no applicant is qualified to fill. I know, I’ve tried for lo these many years. Finally, I have learned you have to keep yourself afloat, and then when you’re buoyant enough, you can lend a hand to pull others in the raft with the energy you have left.

The weather lady is saying another epic heat wave is headed our way. Oh goody. It’s supposed to reach 107 and above by Saturday. This will test people’s nerves as well as our electrical grid. Hopefully, it will not ignite any brush fires or create rolling blackouts. We have a generator sitting by the shed all primed and ready to go, but you can’t hook your A/C up to it. It’s only the first part of July, and already we are logging our third dangerous heat wave. This doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season. Personally, you could eliminate summer entirely for me, the way things seem to be headed, and leave the three other seasons for us to enjoy year round. As a kid, I could not wait for summer to arrive. Ahhhhh, sweet, lazy, crazy days of summer. No school, of course, was the main attraction, and it brought with it glorious long, hot, days filled with chlorine laced pools, bike rides along tree covered paths and backyard barbecues on the weekends. I can still picture my stepdad on the patio in his “Kiss the Cook” apron. The man could smoke, drink, and talk concurrently. He’d be flipping burgers and turning hot dogs, a lit cigarette dangling from his lips, and his martini glass glistening in the cone shaped glass next to him with an olive floating in it. Back then, other than the holidays, it was my favorite time of year. Not any more.

Since summer has arrived, whether I welcomed it or not, I decided to take a trip to my son’s next week. Recently he has upgraded his backyard and the pool area and he’s invited me to come and check it out. Having little access to swimming areas over the past few years, I didn’t have much need for swim wear. After looking at what my closet had to offer, I decided it was time to go bathing suit shopping. Not my favorite way to wile away an afternoon. It’s not that my body would cause young children to cringe in horror was I to expose it, mind you. However, though my weight has remained fairly static over the years, things aren’t as toned and firm as they could be. “You could go to the gym”, you say. Yes, I could. It’s not that I get no exercise, I walk every day, but I realize this does not have the same impact as taking up jazzersize, or zumba or whatever is fashionable with the impeccably cut ab group these days. Truth is, I am not one of those humans who can’t wait to pull on some Spandex and go work up a good sweat on an elliptical cross trainer or get up close and personal with some free weights. Actually, I’d rather be shot in the foot. There is a great gym not to far from my house. Pre-Covid I went down and took a tour. I talked myself into signing up for a year’s membership and then the virus showed up and blew the wind right out of that sail. Don’t feel sorry for me, there were no tears shed over this. Now I’m thinking about signing up once again. I’m not doing anything about it, but at least it’s shown up in the options for getting in shape column.

I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about getting older or the changes occurring to the body. Mostly, I’m just excited when I open my eyes in the morning and find I’m still here. Aging is part of life. Nobody is going to avoid it. Even those with the wherewithal to hire skilled plastic surgeons to pull up this up and tuck that in will eventually have to concede to the passage of time and go through the process with the rest of us. I still want to take a swim, and will continue to do so even when my body does scare young children, because life is to be lived and I intend to do exactly that for all the years I’m gifted with while on this earth.

So many of my friends worry endlessly about other people’s opinion of them. I try not to do this. It’s not I don’t care what people think about me, I do. I don’t think anyone enjoys being disliked or ridiculed. It is more I have come to the understanding every person I meet may not like me. Not every human I come in contact with will share my point of view, find my personality engaging, see humor where I do, or wish to spend time with me. This, in my estimation, is a fact of life. It does not mean I am a bad person, not likable, or obnoxious, though some might argue the point, but rather we all have different tastes and enjoy different types of people. I think we’ve all had people in our lives who instantly on meeting them we feel a strong connection. I am blessed to have a lot of dear friends who fit under this category. Then there are those people who you might have known for a long time who you will never share that special type of bond or friendship with. Doesn’t mean they aren’t good people, just not a connection of commonality you wish to foster on a deeper level.

I have reached a point where, though I’m still learning new things each and every day, I have pretty much set my sail in a particular direction and most likely that is the lane I will hold my course in. I do keep doing my best to adjust my lens when new opinions cross my desk, and keep my mind open to other ways of looking at a given subject or new concept. Nothing should be totally static in our lives, for that can create a stagnant state. Things can change tomorrow, they often do. My life has changed so many times up until now, I have run out of digits to count them on. Change, like growing older, is an expected part of being alive.

,Sometimes I think I’m ready to move again. My best friend is leaving California, my children are well established and busy with their lives, but where? This is not an imminent thing for sure. I have my mom to take care of and Dale, my companion, has cancer, so these are situations floating about in limbo riddled with question marks and unknowns. I will ride out each of these storms until the dust has settled once again in my world and the compass point is again directing my way. Being a bit of a fairy dust spreader, I hope my mother and Dale are with me far off in the distant future. The end to their stories, and mine, is yet left to be written in the great book chronicling our lives. It will be as it is, and all I can do is hold on tightly to the side of the boat and hope we all remain together until the end of the ride. Hope is such a powerful emotion. I’m glad when we were in the conception phase of being, our creator thought to include it in the original package. It’s like a warm blanket to wrap around us in cold harsh times.

Moving, as I’ve said many times, is not unfamiliar to me. Thirty-nine times I have packed up my worldly possessions and moved to another location. That’s a lot of packing paper to my credit. When my ex-husband and I got assigned to a job in Nitro, West Virginia we were at the time winding up a year and a couple of months in Arkansas. Moving was part of the landscape for the type of work he did, so Nitro was simply the next pin on the map. The spouses of those employed for the construction company he worked for were accustomed to having their lives uprooted and replanted somewhere else around the country. We formed a wives group, after a while, composed of those of us moving in similar circles. At one meeting, since most of us liked to cook, we decided to compile a cookbook of our time together, to include all our favorite recipes along with a story to accompany each contribution. Being the only artist in the group, I was tasked with creating a suitable cover. I came up with a picture of a woman, bent over, carrying all her wordly possessions on her back. It was a great success. Often I take out that old binder, pages now dotted with the usual grease stains and spill marks associated with someone who likes to work in the kitchen, and reread the stories included with each recipe or put one on the menu for dinner. I haven’t seen these ladies since that chapter of my life closed, but think of them often and the laughs and tears we shared. It was a time of great adventure on the open road. There was a real freedom associated with not hanging your hat too long in one location, paired with a sort of heady anticipation of what was to come around the bend on your next assignment. The enticing uncertainty associated with living your life in an unpredictable sort of way. After I had hung up my hard hat, as I worked a job or two myself, and David and I too had said our goodbyes, it took me a while to plant roots again in one spot without the restlessness whispering in my ear it was long past time to move on.

Nitro was an interesting place to find ourselves. David, my ex, worked at the plant located in Nitro itself, but we found a home to rent across the Kanawha River in St. Albans. A lot of people discount West Virginia as a great place to live, but truly the “mountain state” has a lot to offer. Visually it is quite beautiful, with a lot of gorgeous spots for a person taken with being outdoors to explore. We were to spend three years there on two separate trips, and of all the places we made our home over our eight years on the road, West Virginia would come to be remembered as my favorite. I will write more about my adventures there in my next blog. For now, I wish you a great day filled with exciting adventures.

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Growing up, my world had touches of elegance in it. My grandmother’s table was the gathering place for evening meals, and it was always set beautifully. There were forks for salad, forks for the main course, pickle forks, and dessert forks. We had knives for cutting, butter knives, serving spoons, tea spoons, and soup spoons. Depending on what was on the menu for a given day, these utensils were placed around the dinner plates in order of their use. When offered a half a grapefruit, a serrated spoon could be found sitting next to it on the plate for the purpose of helping whoever was eating it easily remove the sections. Though I did not set the table per se, largely because I could never remember what went where, I did have a hand it creating the mood. My job, was to retrieve the silver napkin rings from the top drawer of the china cabinet and secure them around the cloth napkins. Though not exactly rocket science, I was assured dinner would not be the same without this piece of the puzzle. Though she had more than enough in her world, my grandmother was not a wasteful being. Even after paper napkins became readily available in the grocery stores, my grandmother never used them until she was much older. Even then, she would keep one that wasn’t badly soiled, and reuse it, as she felt throwing them out to be wasteful.

Before having her family, my grandmother was an R.N. Well, for the sake of clarity, she was still an R.N. after having four children, just not a practicing one. When my grandfather, a urologist, first opened his practice, Gammy (as I called her) was his nurse. There were not the disposable products available now, so exam tables were draped with cloth coverings and pillows covered with fabric pillow cases, each which had to be changed between patients. My grandmother would wash the linens in the basement, and then press them crisply on the large ironing machine before returning them to be reused. Few things came in disposable cartons at the time. Milk, for example, was delivered by the milkman (there’s a piece of logic that needs no explaining) in glass bottles. When the bottles were empty, they were put back on the stoop and returned to the farm or factory to be sterilized, refilled, and reused. There were no paper towels either back then. If you needed a towel in the kitchen, you used a dish towel. For messy clean ups, a rag was retrieved from the rag bin, then washed and thrown back in the bin to be used for the next spill. Nowadays, it seems everything is disposable. The problem is where does it go, once we have disposed of it? Today I made a trip to the dump. It was unbelievable the piles of trash they were dealing with, and the plastic!

I was thinking the other day, as a kid I was never handed a bottle of water. If I was thirsty, I walked over to the sink, turned on the faucet, and filled my glass. When playing outside, I turned on the spigot and ducked my head under the tap or grabbed the hose to quench my thirst. There wasn’t the endless amount of trash and debris spilling into our landfills and oceans all these “conveniences” have created. The companies pushing bottled water will tell you their water is drawn from some pristine Himalayan spring kissed by angels, and tiptoed across by the glistening toes of spirited water nymphs. Truth is, it is water. Yup, and they are not trying to hide that fact. If you look on the bottle that is what they call it and that, as they say, is what it is. Like most things in our life if packaged prettily it has more curb appeal. I liken it to going by a property on the market advertising an open house. You arrive at the address, only to find the front yard littered with trash, raccoons scurrying about on the roof and blinds hanging in shreds in the windows. Would you stop to take the tour? My guess would be no. I know I wouldn’t. Manufacturers sell everything with beauty or slick packaging. Gorgeous women are pictured leaning seductively on expensive sports cars, good looking men are featured trimming hedges in commercials peddling power tools. If a bottled water company tried to sell you water and said it was, well, water, why would you pay for it when it freely flows in your kitchen sink? Advertising. Executives are paid high salaries to research a potential client’s customer base and come up with ad campaigns designed to hit their demographic market. We are tracked, examined, and dissected like flies pinned to an entomologist’s board. What programs we tune in to every week, what kind of cars people our age prefer, are red trucks more popular than blue? So many questions and so many firms lined up to provide the answers and the demographics for whatever product a manufacturer is currently pushing on an unsuspecting public.

Ads when I was a kid showed camels puffing on non-filtered cigarettes, and happy people downing cool beers at the beach. These promotions, no longer appropriate for obvious health reasons, have been banned. Instead, we’re bombarded with endless commercials touting the latest hemorrhoid cream or whatever prescription medication is currently hot on the market. What’s unnerving about these blurbs, is after they sing the praises of how this pill eases back pain, or that pill cures shingles, then they start with the side effects. Good Lord. Makes you wonder if the cure isn’t often worse than the disease. In Rick’s case, he took thirteen pills a day. Several were to treat heart related issues. The pills he took for his heart, eventually affected his kidneys and they too began to go downhill.

Wouldn’t it be great if they put all that energy into working to stop or at least slow down the progress of this climate change? There’s no denying it anymore, our oceans are warming and the earth become hotter. This year here in the U.S. they are expecting 17-20 hurricanes. These massive storms are coming earlier in the season, and there are more of them than there used to be. While other parts of the country are struggling with the impact of these mighty winds, enduring flooding, and property loss, those of us living in the western part of the country are dipping into the extreme drought territory and preparing for a much more aggressive fire season. For me it is very scary. I am glad every day I sold my house up in the tall trees and moved down to the valley. Not that it is safe anywhere with our vegetation so dry and our reservoirs so low, it’s just a matter of the degree of threat. Mother Nature is serving us with notice that if we don’t change our ways she will exact consequences.

I try to leave the lightest footprint possible, but certainly don’t always succeed. When I cook I try to use whatever is leftover, if anything, so it doesn’t just get thrown out. I either freeze it and reintroduce it, or simply recreate it as something else. I have found leftover meatloaf can be used in spaghetti sauce, and chicken can be recycled in a myriad of ways. Uneaten ribs can be tossed in a pot of beans or thrown into a hearty soup. When I leave a bottle of water in the car, I save it and pour it on my plants. I wash my clothes and dishes when the tubs are full, and keep my air conditioning at a comfortable level but not icy cold. Also, with the current drought in California I purchased more water resilient plants like succulents this year that wouldn’t require constant watering. If each of us added a few extra steps to our day or slightly adjusted our behavior, we might be able to dial back some of the damage our negligence has already created. We won’t be here to tend the earth fifty years from now, but most likely our children and theirs will. I hope there is something left to tend.

On that note, I will leave you for today to do good things. Have a great one!!

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The thermometer is going to push 90 degrees here, in what feels like perpetually sunny California of late. Another drought plagued season in this beautiful state will not bode well for what our firefighters will face as the inevitable summer heat presses down on us. Sigh. Already we had the first power outage of the season in our area Sunday. Predictably, the power went off right around dinner time. Not late enough in the day to have dinner prepared and on the table, but rather right in the middle of cooking time for my pork loin in the oven, and pot of corn on the cob happily boiling on the stove top. Fortunately, it came back on before we either had to order in, or label our dinner an early breakfast. Typical. If not in the middle of the meal, the power is guaranteed to go off immediately after I’ve purchased a large amount of groceries and meat at Costco. It’s like a signal goes off from the cash register directly to the power grid reading “Susie will be storing $300 worth of perishables in her refrigerator. Initiate two day shutdown protocol”. I have a generator my son gave me to use when when an outage occurs. They seem to be coming more and more often which each passing year. Summer before last, I threw out an entire refrigerator full of food three times. At least that is not a worry I will have going into this summer, hopefully. I have never used a generator before. From what I understand, you have to be careful how you use them, because if they are too close to the house or are used in an poorly ventilated area, they can prove lethal. This, I have to say, makes me a bit less enthusiastic about a trial run with the damnable thing. Being one of those people who can get her finger stuck in a manual can opener, anything with the word lethal in the precautionary hazards, is a bit worrisome to me. I am working hard on holding my grateful place so rather than complain, I will look for a positive spin to this. Let’s see, I am thankful I am blessed to have a new generator with which to off myself with. I’ll leave it at that. Good old PG&E.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks at my house for some unknown reason. Though not in a bad mood, I also haven’t been my usual sunny self. Could be spring fever, or cabin fever, or simply part of emerging like a pupa from a cocoon after a long period of hibernation, I don’t know. Seems a lot of friends and close acquaintances I’ve talked to lately are going through some transitional pains while beginning merge back into public gatherings again as well. I went out to lunch with a friend of mine on Friday. Both of us noted, sitting inside at a table felt both familiar and strange at the same time. Certainly it looked different. Notably, while we waited for our order to arrive, there was nothing on top of our table but our elbows. No napkins, utensils or condiments, as I would have expected to see pre-pandemic. When my friend asked for salt and pepper, a pile of small packets on a plate were delivered to the table. I’m so glad we didn’t own our restaurant during something like this. Restaurant ownership on the best of days is a stressful existence, but trying to work with these kind of restrictions must be like trying to do up the laces on your running shoes with your hands tied behind your back.

People ask me often if I would want to own a restaurant again. That, I have to say, is an answer requiring little deliberation on my part. NO!!!! Sorry. Was that too loud? Now, my response would be much different was I asked, “are you glad you owned a restaurant”? That answer would be a resounding, “yes”. It was an experience like no other in my life. I am both thankful to have been a part of it, and even more thankful to have come out the other end. Rick was the one carrying all the restaurant experience both going in, and going out. What knowledge I had about restaurants was limited to where to go to get the best Cobb salad, or where not to go for bad Chinese. However, by osmosis, I soaked up information along the way and managed to learn some of the ins and outs of the business for the two years we were open. Who knew? Not I certainly. I didn’t even have the usual street creds young people have on their resumes like “Waitress” or “Server”. Other than a brief, and might I add highly unsuccessful, Memorial Day weekend cocktail waitress debacle on Martha’s Vineyard in my early twenties, I was totally a restaurant virgin.

You know, rethinking my answer about ever owning a restaurant again, I have to say I have day dreamed about a little place that just served breakfast and lunch somewhere by the sea. Even perhaps a lunch truck of some description. I’ve also thought I’d like to work or run a bed and breakfast by the coast one day, but these thoughts are definitely can be found under the “dream on” column of my to do list unless I either hit the jackpot or marry well in the future.

Lately, the ocean has really dominated my thoughts. How I miss it. Sometimes it is an actually longing, like missing someone you love. For me, growing up smack up against water on all sides, it became a part of me, and, I, in turn, became a part of it. The Atlantic, where I grew up, is a far different beast than the peaceful Pacific here on the west coast. That is why people flock here, I would suppose, to enjoy the endless coastline decorated with long stretches of white sandy beaches, warm waters, and gorgeous sun soaked vistas. If one can afford it, of course. In my case, one can’t. Both oceans, to my eyes, have their own style of beauty and mystery.

The Atlantic always felt to me a far more angry stretch of water than the Pacific, harboring (no pun intended) darker moods and deeper hues. The sea, depending on you location, shows itself in many ways. The waters surrounding Hawaii, for example, have a light and yes, tropical, feel to them. Almost as though they know they are playing in paradise and wish to reflect the mood. The ocean there is a clear azure blue. When walking into the surf on Waikiki Beach the water was so translucent my feet were clearly visible on the sand below me.

I also enjoyed the beaches in Ft. Lauderdale, during my one and only visit there. Florida offered up some prime coastal experiences. If it wasn’t for the extreme humidity, frequent hurricanes, outrageously large insects, and flourishing alligator population, Florida undoubtedly would be a great place to live. If I was disposed to move to that part of the U.S., which I am not, I would prefer to live on the Keys. Key West is the only one I’ve visited but that would suit me just fine. Each night I would find my way down to the beach and sit with the locals enjoying the glorious sunsets and possibly indulging in a little cracked crab washed down by an icy margarita. My mouth is watering simply imagining it. Massachusetts had some nice coastal stops as well. Cape Cod waters are far more brooding and dark, the beaches there wearing a more windswept and scruffy look. Cape Cod, I believe would be a lovely place to write a novel or find oneself after being lost.

If I cannot be there right now, I can at least remember times that I have been. Memories are such lovely parts of our makeup. I’m glad whoever shaped our existence thought to include them in the factory rollout package. At times they can be both a curse and a blessing depending on the content, but being able to bring up the pleasant times in our lives like slides on a screen and to recall the smells, feelings, and colors of our experiences is a wondrous gift I have to say. Like pictures in an album, our memories lose their clarity and richness as the years pass. Still, they can be called up to be revisited from time to time and bring us joy. Often, I feel sad for my mum to have lost so many memories over the last few years, but dementia knows no master. Truly, I am blessed I am one face she never seems to forget.

So with thoughts of the sea on my mind, I am definitely adding a trip to the coast over the summer months. It’s about a four hour drive, which isn’t too much of a stretch. Rick and I often went to Little River, one of my favorite spots. Situated atop the craggy bluffs south of Mendocino, Little River is more a dot on the map than a thriving metropolis, only boasting a bustling population of 117. I have not gone there since he passed and am not sure how I will feel when I do. I do know I will go again when I’m ready, because it is such a beautiful place to visit. When we are left behind, it is up to us to find joy in the time we have, and I know he would always want me to do that.

Anyhow, I’ll leave you with thoughts of sea breezes, calling gulls, salty smells, and foghorns until next time.

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Before I go to bed, I make a habit of making sure my sink is empty and my house is picked up. Since I live alone, this ritual may seem unnecessary. Let’s face it Boo, the Queen of Cats, certainly doesn’t give a rats behind (a little cat humor) whether I’ve left a nasty old avocado dish to ferment on the counter or discarded a pair of pants on the floor by my bed. My daughter asked me why I’m so diligent about this ritual. “Who’s going to see it”, she asks? I explained, should I face a health challenge in the middle of the night and find myself in need of rescue, I don’t want one of those ridiculously attractive fireman looking around my house as he’s checking my blood pressure and labeling me a total slob. Have you seen the paramedics they send to your house if you dial 911? Perfect specimens of men standing over you when you look absolutely your worst. Hair hanging in your face, teeth in the jar, and vomit on your shirt. Even Christie Brinkley couldn’t carry that look off. The last time I had need of EMT’s, they sent six. Must have been a slow night. As they walked in the door, each one was (if possible) better looking than last. I wonder if there’s a section on the application for the fire department that says, Check here if you’re hot. If this box is not checked please return application to front desk. We’ll be in touch. Not.

Another reason to keep things tidy is in the event I might not make it, I wouldn’t want people rummaging through my belongings exchanging comments like “Wow, how ever did she live like this?”, or “my pygmy hog has better hygiene.” Nope, clean sinks and underwear all the way for me, just like my grandma told me.

I come to this line of thinking because the weather lately has turned almost springlike. Glorious balmy days have prompted me to get outside and walk every morning. Each day, I vary my route. One, because I get bored easily, and two to provide myself with a different level of cardio depending on the uphill climbs along the way. Yesterday, I opted for a route I had not taken before. Because my shin splints are acting up, I decided to take a less strenuous stroll along the ravine. The sidewalk wound me past a house situated on a cliff about a half a mile from where I live. As the years have passed, I’ve noticed this house sink into a state of shabby disrepair. It’s a shame really, because the lot itself is perched high on an overlook, most likely providing the occupants a panoramic view of the valley floor below stretching all the way to the Sierra Nevadas. The house, though not going to make the next cover of House Beautiful, is not too bad. What curb appeal it does possess, however, is completely eclipsed by the massive accumulation of “junk” in the side yard, creating an eyesore. Beyond the dilapidated fence, which looks as if someone may have backed over it, the filthy roofs of several well-used trailers are clearly visible alongside piles of plywood and debris. I’m surprised somebody hasn’t complained, as the neighborhood around it is composed of well manicured homes bordering on all sides. Something must have happened recently, because as I approached, I could see a crew of workers dressed in what looked like haz-mat gear moving in and out of the front door carrying household items. A rusted toilet and a beat up aluminum sink sat by the mailbox next to a sign reading “FREE”. Trust me, from the looks of them they were still overcharging. Walking towards the house I could see one of the crew members leaning on a broom obviously taking a break. Nodding in my direction, he said,”good morning”. I returned his, “good morning” and raised him a “looks like you’ve got your hands full”. He seemed to view this statement as opening the door for further conversation. I stopped for a moment, and “Ben”, as he’d introduced himself launched into a tirade about the project at hand. Before I knew it, he was sharing an outpouring of information about the residents. The people inside he told me had been elderly. The husband passed away, and the family had fast forwarded the matriarch of the family to an assisted living facility. Apparently, there hadn’t been much contact between family members over the past few years. Describing in great detail the mess they were dealing with, he said the inside of the house was in deplorable condition. Eager to not leave out a detail, and perhaps not looking forward to returning to his job, he went on to say there had been multiple animals inside who had left deposits all over the floor and carpeting. The smell, as one might imagine, was unbelievably rank. The kitchen, he said, was the worst, literally buried under mountains of dishes covered with rotting food and flies which probably meant maggots. Ewwww. As he plowed on he told me all the toilets were clogged. The look on his face indicated he found the whole situation totally disgusting. Already gleaning more WAY more information than I needed. Keeping up my end of the conversation by nodding my head at the appropriate pauses, and saying “huh” and “hmmmm” when called for, I hesitated before inquiring as to where the residents had been going to the bathroom in the absence of usable toilets. Some things are better left to the imagination. Another crew member emerged from the house telling Ben they had uncovered roaches in every cupboard, and every box of food in the cupboard as well as several carcusses of dead mice. Thanking them for all the information I really hadn’t needed, I said my goodbyes and continued on down the road. Suddenly, I felt sad for those two people, though I didn’t know them at all. Ben had somehow had opened a window into their lives and I felt like I had peeked in uninvited. Walking gives you time to cogitate and clear your head. Unfortunately, my brain was now preoccupied with roaches and clogged toilets. Got me to thinking though. What would people be saying about me after I’m gone? “That Susie, she surely had a clean sink and her banana bread,well, it was absolutely out of this world.” Not sure I want to be a fly on the wall for that program, and I surely don’t want old Ben leaning on broom in front of my house.


Lately, I’ve been taking a little inventory of my life. Perhaps it’s that I have more time alone, or could simply be I’ve reached a place in my life where I’ve climbed to the top of the mountain and am now looking at what is to be found on the downhill side of the slope. Whatever it is that motivates me to do an assessment, it’s allowed me to take a long look at where I’ve been, and give some serious thought as to where I’m going. I don’t linger long in the past. It is part of the whole of me and has contributed to who I am as a person today, but as my therapist likes to say, “Don’t look in the rear view mirror. That is not the direction you are going.”After Rick passed, hard to believe it’s going on three years, I had only enough energy to look at the day I was in with little reserve left for the tomorrows around the bend. Grief cores you out in a way, and allows you to rebuild from the foundation up. Life is so much different now then it was. Not worse, nor is it better, it is just different. Change always precipitates thoughtfulness, at least it does in me. Now that there is a new relationship in my life, something I didn’t expect nor was I looking for, this is something to be factored into my future plans as well. Possibilities remain once our masks are retired for new and exciting adventures. Always there will be new challenges, but also there will be new adventures, and new things to learn and new people to learn them from, no matter what stage you are entering in your life. Today, I will simply be thankful for the day I have, the flowers blooming beyond my window, the wind in the trees, the crazy Boo cat curled up at my feet, and my loved ones. Those are my riches.

When I look at just the last year and what has transpired, I can’t help but think you never really know what is coming around the next corner. You might win the lottery, fall in a sink hole, discover a cure for cancer, find yourself surviving (hopefully) a pandemic of epic proportions, be in the middle of a massive winter storm in Texas, welcome a new life into the world, or send one on its way. Perhaps the most intriguing part of living is the unknowing. I realize that is probably not the correct word, but I think it is the appropriate one. We don’t know, yet we have hope, and prayer, and wishful thinking, and believing in whatever we believe in. The indomitable human spirit shines bright even on the darkest of nights. I’ve seen it refuse to be extinguished so many times, when I had trouble still believing it existed.

We lost another member of our tribe this week. I attended my first virtual service, A Celebration of Life. Though not there in the person, it was lovely. At the end they released doves into the air, so spiritually moving. You are here then you are gone, and the cycle of life continues. Pieces and parts of you remain, though, in each and every person you touched. Perhaps words will be my legacy. God knows, if anyone is waiting to inherit my fortune, they will be sorely disappointed, and need not to quit their day job anytime soon. So goodbye, dear Janice. See you on the other side. Thank you for the beautiful grandchildren you have left behind. I promise I will cherish them.

Heavy thoughts for a Friday. Have a wonderful weekend. Remember each day is a precious gift, don’t waste it making bad karma or doing hurtful things. Trust me it takes years to erase the board once it is written on.

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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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