Archive for the ‘weddings’ Category

I haven’t written in a while. Truth be known, life just wouldn’t allow room for it. I miss it when I can’t fill a page or two on my blog. It’s been part of my life for nearly a decade now, and I’ve become accustomed to leaving a few words on the page for people kind enough to stop by and read them.

Two weeks ago, my son got married. Not only did I gain a new, and extraordinarily lovely new daughter-in-law, but she brought into our expanding band of ne’er do wells, three children to add to my list at Christmas time. Most exciting. The wedding was beautiful. It was held outside in their lovely, and very spacious back yard, witnessed by a hundred or so of their close friends and family. Vows were exchanged under the three hundred year old oak tree dominating the side yard, and was presided over by the bride’s father who holds down a side gig as a minister. Done and done. Another chapter opens up in our family history. Interesting how life at times seems to write itself.

I drove down and back to the Bay Area solo. This was not in the least a hardship for me. There is something so exhilarating about careening down the highway on a beautiful day, music playing, and the window slightly ajar to allow the breeze in to catch up your hair. As I’ve said many times, I think I was born to be a wanderer. Perhaps in a former life I was part of a nomadic band of souls who moved from place to place making their home wherever they found themselves on any given day. Even now, with my beautiful little house to keep me safe and warm, the thought of moving on slips into my thoughts now and again.

My feet hit the ground running once the wedding was complete. Back in my own territory, before I could draw a single deep relaxing breath, I was reminded I had signed up to attend my first play in twenty years with my friend, Richard the day after I arrived home. The play, based on the planes forced to land unexpectedly in Newfoundland when 9/11 was taking place, was very entertaining and quite funny considering the subject matter. It was performed in front of a packed house. Our seats were located pretty much in the center seats in the middle rows of the lower tier. Richard and I didn’t get dressed as if we were attending the coronation, but we did make an effort to look as though we hadn’t rolled out of bed five minutes before we’d arrived at the performing arts center. This was not true of fifty percent of the people occupying the remaining seats. There was a time when women dragged out their glitter and bling for a night at the theater, but honestly I don’t think people find an occasion to get dressed up much anymore. Do they even have a market for nylons these days? I really don’t know. Back in my grandmother’s day getting dressed for an evening out was a production. Nylons weren’t free flowing back in her day. They were attached by clips to girdles. Horrible inventions those. It was like wrapping a rubber band around a round of soft cheese, everything loose and gooey relocated either above or below the band itself like a muffin top on steroids. I guess the current answer to girdles might be Spandex without the clips. Then after you’d gotten yourself fully assembled, you had to pull on gloves and a hat before leaving the house. I fear my grandmother would be confused at how casual we have become these days. The other day I saw a young girl walking into a high school campus. She was wearing Daisy Duke shorts, fishnet hose, and a shirt so tight I felt perhaps she might be going to shed it the summer rather than throw it in the laundry bin when she got home. The most impressive part of “the look” however was the makeup. I hope she gets it at a bulk rate. The eyelashes covering her upper lids, if fanned, could have cooled a dozen people simulanteously on a hot day. Had I gone to school dressed like that when I was her age they wouldn’t even have let me on campus. Things change, we have to change with them. I remember my mother being appalled when I showed up in bell bottom pants and a fringed jacket. Each generation brings their own style to the table, generally to the chagrin of the one preceding it. I wonder if Amazon has fishnets in my size?

There really aren’t many dress up venues left. I can hardly remember the last time I saw a man in a suit, other than at my son’s wedding, and then only on the participants. Most of the attendees were semi-casual, with some in jeans and a shirt.

Vegas used to be a place where men took in a show suit and tie in place, but that too is long past. The last time I went to a show on the strip was in the 90’s. Sigfried and Roy were appearing. It was a sold out show, and we were packed into the showroom tighter than olives in a jar. The man sitting next to me was sporting well-loved flip flops on his feet. On his person, he wore cargo shorts accessorized by a tee shirt that read, “Honorary Member of the Las Vegas Drinking Team”.  I remember him specifically because he was sucking up beer as though there might be a shortage of the lager about to occur at any moment. After each generous gulp, he would then belch loudly and go “AHHHHHH” as if a signal to his stomach to make room for the next installment.

At any rate, dressed or not, the audience seemed to appreciate the theater production along with us, so it was a nice evening in spite of how tired I had felt when it began. Thankfully, the earlier scenario I had in my mind picturing me, head thrown back snoring like a drunken sailor, drool oozing down the side of my chin, never materialized, so for now my image remains untarnished.

The play behind me, the next thing written on my calendar was “VACATION”. Yay! Richard arrived after work last Saturday, towing his fifth wheel and his boat, to take me on an adventure in Plumas County on Lake Davis. Fun and more fun. I have camped many times in my life. I am beyond the “Let’s put up a tent, toss a blanket on the ground, and throw me on top of it” stage for sure. Been there, done that. Anyone who tells you they enjoy sleeping on a rocky expanse of real estate is either a liar or intoxicated. There is no other option. Even when I was a kid, I ended up walking like a ninety year old arthritic man after a night of roughing it in the woods. No way now, and no how. Over the years I’ve come to accept I like my creature comforts. As it is I don’t sleep well in my lovely comfortable bed, lying on a floor of rocks surely isn’t going to improve the situation.

So, for today I am off to work. I will fill you in on my Lake Plumas adventures in the next installment. Happy weekend to you!!

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Outside my window, the gardeners are bending and standing scooping huge rakes of fall leaves into my compostable bin. A cool breeze is keeping the supply of leaves needing sweeping swirling to the ground, and the days have turned cooler. Hard to believe, just last week we were laboring through the worst heat wave since weather has been reported here in Northern California. I am getting myself and my car packed for my trip down to the Bay Area to watch my son get married. Miss Boo is sitting in the corner tossing ugly looks in my direction from time to time, while I pull things from my closet to fill my suitcase with. Please, save your pity for an abused kitty somewhere. Boo has a house/pet sitter coming for the days I’ll be absent, so by no means is the cat being disregarded. For the price of a car payment, I am providing her company, plentiful treats, food in her dish, water in her bowl, and a companion to snuggle with in the middle of the night. Sometimes I think the cat lives better than I do.

Though this week is slated to be a busy one, life in general seems to have at last slowed down to a manageable pace. For one, my dating life has certainly quieted down. Again, save your pity. I quieted it down. Life was getting confusing. I don’t want or need confusion right at this juncture in my world. I cleared the playing field of all but a single competitor, and went back to square one to regroup and take a break. Perhaps, and that is a perhaps, I am not ready to step into something new quite yet. That being said, I am taking a long hard look at what it is I would like to do. I’ll send up a flare when I have any answers to that dilemma. Actually, I don’t HAVE to do anything exactly at the moment except head down to watch my son share his name with the love of his life. That, I have to say, is more than enough for now. Having my children, though they are far removed from that description these days, settled and happy allows me peace of mind and makes my heart smile every day. In August, my dear little mama moved on as well. All this leaving me standing at the crook in the road of late trying to decide whether to go left or right, or simply sit on a rock under a tree in the warm sun and take in the scenery.

It is smoky outside today. The biggest fire currently in progress in California, is in our back yard. Not literally, thank God, but twenty miles as the crow flies east of here, and that’s not nearly far enough away for me. We’ve been sucking up smoke for several weeks, and it’s only 25% contained. The location is difficult for firefighters to access, prone to steep slopes and valleys, and we are so dry here it can quickly spread with no lack of fuel. The fire fighters have a good battle on their hands. Watching the enormous plume spiraling up into the air leaves me with an admiration for the incredible power of nature.

I think a lot about the power nature wields in our universe. Last week I watched a documentary on the Dust Bowl. There wasn’t enough misery with the heat and the smoke, I thought I’d add a little extra to the pot. I had no idea those people endured that for ten years. Wow. They had dust in their teeth, their food, their homes, and most likely every other accessible orifice. Horrible.

Leaving thoughts of fire and dust bowls behind, while loading my car up with what I felt I needed for my trip, it became obvious to me I know not the first thing about “traveling light”. In my defense, I have learned over the years no matter whether leaving town for one night or a week, you basically have to pack about the same amount of belongings. Also, I was trained by the best. My mother, a self proclaimed “clothes horse”, would devote an entire suitcase to shoes, and another to handbags, when she went on a trip. Another problem lies in as we age, there simply is more equipment to take with because the maintenance of our bodies becomes more labor intensive. Before leaving the house in the morning I have at least forty-five minutes of upkeep required on my person before I can go out the front door. This is not including showering, hair and makeup. Truth is, I could use a team these days to help me get presentable before being allowed to run free in the general public.

My esthetician has me using a three part beauty treatment twice a day which she insists MUST be applied in the correct order. 1, 2, 3. Really it isn’t rocket science. Yet, she has thoughtfully numbered the bottles for me, apparently sensing I, 1) either don’t care about this order in the least, or 2) likely would forget what the order was by the time the words exited her lips. Both answers would have been correct. According to her, you must apply the products in this order lest your skin slide down your face and drift into a puddle at your feet. Let’s see, 1, 2, 3. By George I think I’ve got it. Really?

There has also been a sinus rinse added to my regimen by my allergist, which when the liquid is shot up your nostrils is tantamount to sliding your brain under a rushing waterfall for three minutes. This requires distilled water, a special dispenser, which has to be sanitized, and a saline packet. Sigh.

Next, I have a mask for my dry eyes which is popped in the microwave each morning while listening to the news, then applied for the pre-determined effective time of fifteen minutes. Siri has been kind enough to count this off for me every day until the caffeine has taken effect.

I am wishing my mother was here to witness the joining of these two dear people. Knowing how much she appreciated a good party and how much she loved her grandson, I’m sure she’ll be perched like the Cheshire Cat on one of the massive limbs of the oak tree they are to be married under, not missing a single magical moment.

As I say often in my blogs, life is like a movie with a series of frames. You must capture the most from each frame in order to absorb the story to its fullest.

There have been a lot of goodbyes over the past few years. As with everything when one door shuts, another opens. It will be lovely to be part of a new beginning once again.

Happy Friday! We are being gifted with a lovely preview to fall sort of day as we embark on a day of pre wedding festivities. Enjoy every moment.

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Last night I found my eyes open around 2:30. Willing them shut, I laid on one side, then I laid on the other. Pause, and repeat. Deciding to try my back as a last resort, this precipitated a tug of war with the cat over my pillow. Finally, I ran the white flag up the flagpole about 3:00 and with no sleep in sight, turned on the light. There really isn’t a long list of things needed doing at this time of night, so I picked up the remote and switched the TV on. How is it, one wonders, I can have 500+ available channels at my disposal, and I can’t find one I want to watch? If the regular television fare doesn’t catch my eye, I can always switch to my fire stick and open up a whole new batch of viewing possibilities with the push of a button. Yet, I couldn’t find one thing making me want to stop at the title and look any further. Sigh. Finally, I hit on the latest version of Jane Eyre. I do love the classics, in particular period pieces. The story of the governess and the lord of the manor, of love lost and love found, always haunts me in the telling of it. Plumping up the pillows, I settled in with Boo to once again lose myself in Bronte’s bewitching tale. Imagine writing a piece so timeless. First published in 1847, it has been made and remade over the years and still holds me captive to this day in it’s spell.

Aside from dark gothic tales, I also enjoy a good comedy. Where have all the really funny comedies disappeared to I wonder? If they are out there I can’t find them. I find I have to go back decades to dig one up that really makes me LOL. Maybe it is that the great comediennes capable of producing audible belly laughs in their audiences are gone? John Carrey, Robin Williams, Gilda Radner, Madeline Kahn, to name but a few. I have watched a couple of Madeline Kahn favorites during the pandemic dark days. Those days when there wasn’t much to do but stay home and watch my roots grow out. Always I enjoy Young Frankenstein, but one of my favorites wis “What’s Up Doc” also notably starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. When I catch some of the older titles from Goldie Hawn’s hayday, “Seems Like Old Times” or “Foul Play” I tape them to watch on days where my chin is dragging more so than usual. Tom Hanks did some great flicks too. The first time I saw “Money Pit” my ribs hurt from laughing all the way through it.

I’m feeling a bit like a duck out of water of late. Even though I have both vaccinations circulating through my body I haven’t totally picked up the pace I had before the pandemic swept in and changed our lives. Is it possible I’m looking for a little escape with my remote, when instead I should be beginning to rebuild the bricks of my life and resume actually living it again? Likely so. I still haven’t gone out to lunch with friends, which is on my calendar for next week, but I am taking a trip to visit my son in May. This will be my first real push on the accelerator in over a year. Yay. It is always an adventure visiting their house. They have a combined family, including five children between the ages of eleven and twenty. As one might imagine, there are not a lot of quiet moments under that roof. This is probably just the accelerant I need to get my motor fired up again.

My mind keeps telling me “baby steps, girl”. I have to remind myself when I lose patience with me, I do not need to run out and climb Mt. Shasta before the weekend in order to getting myself back on track again. “Ease into it slowly”, my innermost guide encourages, but never been a baby step person, this is a learning curve for me. I’ve always climbed in the pot, then turned the temperature up to boil, and waited to see what happened. In truth, I would love to find myself prone on a beach towel on a lovely white sand beach somewhere gloriously tropical with a drink with an umbrella sitting next to me smelling like coconut sun tan lotion. That, would be the space that would soothe my soul. Since that is not happening, either today or in the near future, I need to find something else to lift my spirits up.

One thing not perking my spirits up is that extremely annoying woman telling me my car warranty has run out, who calls endlessly on my phone. I block one number and she calls on a new one. One more of those and my phone is going to end up at the bottom of the commode with bubbles floating out of it. Will they not stop!! Why are these robo callers not regulated better? Yesterday, I got two warranty calls which were then trumped by a third call saying my Social Security account had been hacked. This morning, an email came through informing me my Amazon account had been compromised and closed. Neither, of course, which is true. Sigh. A reporter on the local news was talking this morning about scams involving unemployment as well as the recent stimulus payments, in particular targeting older citizens. People with no conscience apparently are willing to prey on vulnerable or defenseless people under any circumstance, no matter how dire. Sad. No wonder I’m looking for a good comedy.

I would retire from the human race and run with a band of orangutans (I don’t know why, I just love them) was it not for the stories on the opposite side of the pole relating acts of kindness and extreme generosity performed by people in our society not just looking out for their own interests. These types of stories serve to remind me for as many low-life bottom feeders as there are wandering the globe, the scales are still balanced by genuinely kind and good hearted beings on the opposite side. Hope, as they say, springs eternal. I saw a story yesterday about a dog who was abandoned by his owner. The animal was left on his front porch with no food or water to fend for himself. Disgusting. Then, he was found, taken in, and adopted by a family who were so excited to have him since their family dog had recently died and the children devastated. In an instant, the bad story flipped like a pancake on the griddle, into a good story making me abandon my orangutan escape plan for another time. I am, however, holding on it to it in case I need to pull that card further down the road.

Today I am planting vegetables in my garden. Thankfully, the wind has died down for a day or two allowing me a window of opportunity to get out and dig in the soil. The sun will give me a little endorphin rush as well as, hopefully, amping up my Vitamin D supply which, along with many others trapped inside for so long, seems to be sadly diminished. There is something about working with plants and dirt that boosts my spirits and makes me whole again. Perhaps it is that we come from dirt and to dirt we return, to get a bit Biblical or that it’s just a visceral experience. Whatever the case may be, I am doing it, albeit a bit late this year. One thing good about this yard, as opposed to the yard in my previous residence, is that it is fenced. Most critters, other than an occasional squirrel or a wandering cat, don’t bother my plants.

When I was living in West Virginia around 1990-93, I had a huge garden. We rented a lovely house while there with a large yard and a planting area already cultivated when we moved in. Sticks with seed packets lined up in the neat rows that first spring after we planted, and a bumper crop of okra (for my husband), cucumbers, all manner of peppers, zucchini and tall rows of the sweetest corn could be seen before summer stole the show. West Virginia, in spite of what some might think, is a beautiful state to live in. “The Mountain State” boasts verdant pasture lands, and as it’s name would imply there is not a shortage of mountainous terrain across the state. The Appalachian Mountains are the dominant range in the territory, with three or four lesser mountains joining them for company. West Virginia holds the distinction of having more mountainous areas than any other state in the union. My ex-husband and I spent many weekends exploring the state, actually getting married the first year we moved there. Part of the Bible Belt, West Virginians take their religion seriously. When we applied for our marriage license and tried to find a place for the ceremony, it became quickly clear finding a church to marry us we were not affiliated with was going to be a sticky situation. Not wanting something more impersonal like a justice of the peace, we finally located a church run by recovering addicts and alcoholics willing to have a service for us. They were the loveliest group of people. I can imagine there were some serious demons being fought under that roof, but all in all, they welcomed us into the fold. We had to attend three services in a row in order to be able to get married, so we showed up that first Sunday and the two following. The man sitting next to me was wearing a bandana on his head and wore a Grateful Dead tee-shirt. That being said, he was very friendly and sang loudly during the hymns, returning all the responses to the minister as she gave the prompts. Interestingly enough, the church musical accompaniment was a rock band who performed at local bars and events. The six members included a keyboardist, a long haired rocker on electric guitar, and a drummer who looked disturbingly like Meat Loaf, the singer not the Sunday dinner variety. It was an experience I had never had during church services before that day, nor have I replicated since. The couple who would be standing up for us were Southern Baptist. I believe this was more than a stretch for their religious upbringing, but they did it with good hearts and tried not to wince when the band began to play Stairway to Heaven immediately following the vows. All in all, it was a lovely service with many of the church members joining us afterwards at the reception.

Often I think about my times in St. Albans. I saw my first firefly there. While washing dishes, I looked out my window into my back yard to see the entire fence along the periphery of my yard resplendent with blinking insects doing their mating dance. I do wish sometimes we had them here, but at least I shared their experience for a time.

Life is one block piled atop the next. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see beyond the state line. Each state I’ve made my home in has left something of it’s culture and people with me.

TGIF!!! Stay safe.

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As I mentioned several posts back I’ve embarked on a new relationship. I was neither looking for one, nor really prepared for one, when one knocked on my door. Life really does consist of the times events are actually happening, and the gaps in between when you are waiting for events to happen.

I have a single friend who said to me the other day. “You are lucky to have found someone. I have been looking for ten years without any decent nibbles. Most men our age want younger women.” She then quoted an old saying, so not true, about women over forty being less likely to get married than than being killed by terrorists. What an awful, and totally sexist, statement. It surprised me it was coming from female lips. The problem is, I think, a lot of women have swallowed that hook. It implies, in short, women have less value after a certain age. I could not disagree more, and this not because I rank among their numbers. Most of the wisdom I have gained over the years has been handed down to me from women far senior to myself. Women who have already immersed themselves in their lives, dived in and tested the waters along the way, and in many cases made the current smoother for the ladies coming up behind them. When I was twenty there is no denying my skin was pristine, my eyes shinier, my body tighter and my bones more agile but I didn’t know a donut from a hot rock when it came to living my life. I also don’t feel “lucky” to have found someone. I feel am a lady with something to offer who is deserving of sharing time with someone who treats me well. Conversely, in defense of the gentlemen, I don’t like when I hear ladies say, “all the good men are already taken” when speaking of older men in the dating pool. Like everything from picking the best apples in the barrel to deciding what house to live in or where to invest your money, you have to sort through some unsuitable choices before deciding on ones which fits your needs best.

My new partner and I share a lot of similar beliefs, including a like spiritual path and similar political leanings. Both of us also lean toward silly, which I really enjoy. Someone too serious about life would never fit in well with my personality or lifestyle. I believe the younger version of myself concentrated more on surface attraction rather than delving into common interests or goals. One thing paramount to me at this time in my life, is peaceful coexistence. I have participated in my share of contentious relationships. Looking back on these pairings, I consider them a learning curve. From each union, I took with me newly gained knowledge about what I was willing to allow in a relationship and what I was not, what fit and what didn’t. These were not lessons I always learned on the first go round, I’m nothing if not hard headed, but eventually even my hard head was able to absorb what was and what was not productive to helping me flourish.

Trust is not a strong suit of mine. People are disappointing, and the people in my life sometimes couldn’t or wouldn’t keep my trust as promised. Lessons can be both negative and positive. I have found that each negative stone I have loaded into my personal baggage was best dealt with then left by the wayside. If I continued to harbor them, the burden became too weighty to carry on with lightness in my step. By the time we have achieved a certain age, most of us have pasts to contend with. Some people, of course, are more fortunate. Couples, for example, who meet their perfect match in high school, bear and raise lovely children with them, and usher in the unknowns of old age hand in hand rank among the luckiest in my book. For many of us, this is not the story we will tell. Being open to new love means leaving old wounds behind and embracing what is happening now.

One thing I know for sure, marriage is definitely not in my future. I have already run that flag up the flagpole and now am focused more on a companion or partner without benefit of shared paperwork. I used to think I had one ceremony, one partner in my future. I was young and the world seemed wide open in front of me with all the possibilities it has to offer. When I said “I do” the first time I thought that would be the last but certainly that was not to be. Each person creates their own story line. My grandmother had one love. When my grandfather died before his time, she chose to remain alone for the next thirty-five years. Conversely, my mother remarried for the fourth time in her eighties and was blissfully happy for ten years. Our perspectives and dreams have to morph and reshape as life transpires. Three years ago I did not imagine my world without Rick, yet here it is, and here I am.

So, I embark on a new adventure. I am open to exploring how this new piece of my quilt blends in with those already sewn in place . For me it is important to avoid comparisons, for that can be both self-defeating and frustrating. This is a new chapter not a continuation of the previous one and should be given its own consideration. I look forward to seeing what lies around the next bend in the road.

Have a lovely weekend. I have my corned beef in the fridge waiting to hop in the pot with the carrots and red potatoes. I am celebrating St. Patty’s Day a bit early this year as I get my second Covid shot on Monday and don’t know what to expect as a result.

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I am an only. My mother always enjoyed telling people she originally hoped to have six children, but once I arrived on the scene, she decided one was more than enough. Whatever, Mom. She calls me her “only chick”. Seems appropriate, as most of my life she’s leaned toward being a bit of a mother hen. Whatever the situation, however, she has steadfastly remained my number one fan. I strained this position often. There was the time I blew up the kitchen making mini tacos, or another when I forgot to remove the speaker attached to the window of her new car at the drive-in before exiting the parking lot. Undaunted, she still picked up her pom poms and cheered me on. Being an only chick does not come without the onus of responsibility. As an “only” you carry the torch for those kids who didn’t come before you or those not arriving after you. At one time or another you will be the oldest, the youngest, the best, the worst, the smartest, the dumbest, the happiest, the saddest, the tallest, the shortest, the fattest and the thinnest child your parents will ever have. Faithfully, I lived up to each of these adjectives during my tenure as my mother’s only daughter. Some days, depending on how the wind was blowing, I might have qualified for the whole set on either the plus or the minus side.

My childhood, well up until middle school, would have satisfied the “fattest” portion of the program. Mother referred to my extra padding as “baby fat”, although I had moved beyond the baby fat when my diapers and crocheted hat had been retired. My grandmother, in whose house I had been raised, liked to bake. I was her perfect foil, I liked to eat. A match made in heaven. Living in Nova Scotia, where I made my home until the age of nine, I don’t think I was even aware I was “chubby”. My world was buffered by loving family members and childhood friends. If they felt I was a little round about the edges, they were kind enough to keep that information to themselves. Immediately after celebrating my ninth birthday, my mother remarried. Hoping for a fresh start, and armed with a new last name and a promise of a job at a Southern California newspaper for my new “dad”, the idea of relocating permanently to California was born. To soothe the blow of being uprooted from my childhood home for me, the carrot dangled before my nose was Disneyland. Television was not uncommon in everyone’s homes by then. Children with access to a set, tuned in to the Wonderful World of Disney each week to be part of the magic kingdom Walt Disney had created. Disneyland was for us on the far east coast a dream land. A place built for the young and the young at heart with all manner of rides and excitement available to anyone who could afford the price of a pack of tickets at the gate. Back then it was nothing like it is today. The Matterhorn was still being constructed (I know – old as dirt here) the first time I visited. At the gate you bought books of tickets.They went from A-E. “A” tickets got you on the less popular rides and as you moved on thru B-D you moved up in fun an popularity until you got to “E” tickets which gained you entrance to the more exciting rides such as the Matterhorn once it was open. That first time at the park my mom spent $50, including meals and souvenirs. These days you’d have nearly that much out of your wallet just to pay the parking attendant. I haven’t been recently but I’ve heard there are very long lines and much expense involved in a trip. The endless lines don’t call my name anymore and if I’m going to drop a load of bills it probably won’t be to see Mickey and Minnie dancing down Main Street. I’m just saying. However, the memories of past visits are nice to paste in my memory book.

Even with the promised visit to Disneyland it didn’t take long for me to identify little plump Canadian girls were out of step with the golden girls of California. Blond goddesses, with slender bodies and golden skin. Lane Bryant would never have been an acceptable place to shop for anyone basking in the glow of their inner circles. Around middle school I began to realize I wanted to lose weight. My mother, aware of my struggle with food, stepped in to help. The baby fat had remained steadfastly in place. Knowing I was unhappy with my extra pounds, she offered me a challenge over the summer between eighth and ninth grade. First, she had a dietician at the hospital where she worked draw up a healthy diet plan for me to follow. The second part of the program was a contract between my mother and I agreeing she would pay me one dollar for each pound I lost, plus throw in a whole new wardrobe once my goal weight was achieved. Hey, a dollar a pound was pretty good back then, when a McDonald’s cheeseburger still went for fifteen cents. Aside from the forty dollars I pocketed, and the closet full of lovely new clothes, that shift in my eating habits was to be the beginning for me of a lifetime of healthy eating. Up until that time, I considered cookies, Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies a separate food group.

Conquering my perceived weight issues to some extent, I next slipped quietly into another phase of my young life. I went from being a nearly straight “A” student considered fairly “bright” in some circles, to barely advancing from ninth to tenth grade. This, satisfying the smartest and dumbest part of the adjective string noted above. The reason was not so much I actually became more stupid as the years passed, but rather I discovered boys in my world. Certainly I knew they were around prior to puberty, but viewed them as those annoying little dweebs in class making gassy noises with their hands under their armpits or pulling my hair at recess. Suddenly I saw them in a whole new light. Instead of making me irritated, they made me shy, made my heart beat a little faster, and generally swept me off my saddle shoed feet. Friends, dances, music, dates, proms, and all the other things high school brought to the forefront all stood first in line in front of learning, which had had somehow been demoted to the caboose.

in spite of the diversions and defying all odds I received my diploma. This was not without a few detours and blips on the screen which I will discuss at a later time. After graduation, I enrolled in computer science classes at the junior college, while also managing to obtain my first job. A local moving company had taken me on as a clerk typist in their dispatch office. My salary was to be $300 a month gross. These days that wouldn’t cover groceries.

Balancing a job during the day, and classes at night, didn’t leave much room for socializing. That being said, I still managed to announce my engagement to my first husband before lighting the candles on my nineteenth birthday. He and I had a shared history of eleven days of courtship when I made the announcement to my parents. Was my mother writing this chapter, she would pull the “worst” out of the adjective chain to cover this happy news. Cajoling ensued, bribes were offered, and begging was not off the table. Love, in the end, conquered all, and a date was set and plans were made for a wedding eight months down the road. Pulling the best out if the string to keep things even, we would fast forward to two and a half years later when my husband and I had welcomed a daughter and a son into our lives. We were only destined to share eight years of marriage, but the gift from him has always been these two special beings who have made my life so special.

I have spent most of my time living up to people’s expectations, sometimes even exceeding them, or being an abysmal disappointment. Balance, as I often say, in everything. Today I can say I am the oldest child, and I’m good with that. A little gray around the temples (okay a lot) and some scuff on my shoes may show some mileage, but also I hope they are an indication I have some acquired wisdom and character. I’ve earned what wrinkles are evident by smiling often, accepting some devastating losses, and surviving the trip.

Have a great day. A new president enters the White House and again we turn the page to a new chapter,

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Well, we are rounding the curve and the finish line is in sight. Thankfully, by the end of next week we should have some idea how the citizens of the United States have plotted our course for the next four years. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a decision on who’s going to run the assylum one way or another. Bickering makes me tired.

Aside from the loss of freedom imposed by the Covid pandemic, there have been a lot of losses in my world this year. My son just reported his beloved Labrador retriever, Sadie, passed away. Sadie was a senior citizen in the dog kingdom, but that does not make her passing any less sad. My granddaughter lost her golden lab, Pita, last month and those are just the members of our inner circle who sit beneath the table counted missing. Blessedly, my loved ones are healthy and thriving. I am grateful for this every day, and each night before I go to bed I picture each of them surrounded in a golden light that keeps them protected and safe. In this environment where you find yourself constantly looking over your shoulder or waiting for the other shoe to drop, it is important to lean heavily on whatever faith you might have and steadily kindle your joy and sense of humor. My sense of humor has literally lighted my way through the darkest times in my life. I have been married four times, buried two of my husbands and divorced the other two, and said goodbye to Rick over two years ago, my partner of twenty years. One cannot walk through that minefield without losing a few body parts along the way. Always, in spite of whatever was transpiring in my world, I seemed to be able to retrieve a good laugh I hadn’t used yet. I can’t tell you how that has helped to make difficult situations more tolerable.

I did not know my dad, but from what I understand he was a funny guy. Now, from what I hear from my relatives on his side, he was more of the life of the party guy. When dad walked in, the party began, I believe was how it was put. That is not me. Born November 1st, I am a Scorpio baby. Scorpios, though they enjoy lifelong friendships (we’re very loyal) and deep, passionate relationships, they do not enjoy huge gatherings of strangers and a lot of gibbering small talk. I can do it, mind you, I’d just prefer not to. Intimate gatherings of dear friends or new acquaintances are far more my cup of tea.

Huge groups of unfamiliar faces make me want to open the closet door and step inside. Many times over the years I have been forced to face this fear, and each time I’ve approached the plate and gotten myself through the experience. Public speaking is high on people’s lists of fear inspiring events. I would never be happy with the spotlight pointed directly at me, which perhaps is why I was placed in a family where millions of people have absolutely no interest in what we are doing from one moment to the next. I am good with that. The good news is I’m good at a number of things, but excel in none. Fame has not eluded me, I have successfully managed to elude fame. Yay for me.

The first time I was called on to speak in front of a large gathering was at my best friend’s wedding when I was twenty-two. Prior to that, the only experience I’d had with speaking to a group was giving an oral book report in my high school English class. Not that getting up in front of my class wasn’t intimidating, but it was a walk in the park compared to the enormous turnout for this wedding ceremony.

Mike, short for Michaelin, had been planning her wedding since she exited the womb. On the way down the birth canal she was caught jotting notes on paper selection for the invitations and which flowers to choose for decorating the aisles of the church. At five, she had a subscription to Brides. The bulletin board in her room was completely obscured by wedding suggestions and ideal venues for the big event. When she finally met her prince, I was invited to be her maid of honor. This was not the first time I’d stood at the altar with a friend. In point of fact, it was the third. In each case, the attendants are always assured the dresses they’ve selected for you to wear can be worn to other functions after the ceremony. Right. Each of mine ended up on the Halloween clearance rack at the local Salvation Army. It was bad enough I had to seen in public once wearing them, why on earth would I subject myself to that humiliation another time?

One particular nightmare, as I recall, was bright lemon yellow. You needed sunglasses to safely look straight at it. There should have been a warning label attached to it. The citrusy monstrosity was accessorized with a matching hat that would also have served nicely as a landing pad for a B52. Huge and floppy, it was made even more gaudy, if possible, by the addition of long yellow ribbons that draped down the back. It would have done Scarlett O’Hara proud. I spent most of my march down the aisle trying to see past the brim to keep my bearings so I could find the rest of the wedding party when I got to the front of the church. The dress itself had a satin sash and was embellished with what appeared to be shower poofs attached to the upper sleeves. Yup, guaranteed I’m wearing that out again, most probably on my next trip to Raley’s to pick up a gallon of milk. The dresses for Mike’s wedding were to be red. The wedding was in late November so the color ideally suited the holidays which were in full swing. Actually, they were less awful than the previous contenders, but still I never put mine on my body again after the vows were said and done.

Once I had accepted the invitation to participate in Mike’s wedding, the fun had just begun. The ceremony would be a full Catholic mass with the church filled to capacity. Following the nuptials, the reception was to be held at a large upscale venue replete with all the trimmings including a sit down dinner for the three hundred guests expected to attend. God knows what all this was costing her poor father, but I’m sure with three girls to marry off he probably went into debt by the time the third one said “I do”. To make matters worse, Mike and her prince divorced ten years later so it was a great send off but lacked a flashy finish. At the time, I lived in the Bay Area with the bride still residing in Southern California where we had gone to school together. The real estate in between us presented some logical problems with me managing a full-time job and two little ones. I flew down for several showers, and a weekend of cake tasting and floral shop hopping. After that, my presence was not required again until the night of the rehearsal dinner. All the plane tickets for the three out-of-area attendants were also picked up by Mike’s poor dad, who never complained, God bless him. He was a lovely man who died in his early fifties, probably from stress or impending bankruptcy.

After some discussion, it was decided I would attend the wedding without my husband. Not a big fan of weddings, he preferred to opt out and stay home to play Mr. Mom to our two rug rats. Trying to manage the two of them for several hours in a church probably wasn’t an assignment he was interested in signing up for anyway, and it was, after all, football season.

On the day of the wedding rehearsal I arrived at the San Francisco airport early in the day to give me ample time to catch my mid-afternoon flight. It was a rainy, blustery day, and I wanted to be sure I didn’t run into trouble on the road and miss my plane. As it turned out, once inside the terminal I discovered the plane had been delayed due to poor visibility. Sigh. In those days there were no cell phones (I know!) so I schlepped over to a pay phone, deposited the requested amount of change, and let Mike know I would be late. As it turned out my mid-afternoon flight turned into more of an early evening flight. By the time I arrived at the Ontario Airport I had already missed the rehearsal dinner, and dinner in general. Exhausted from trying to find one comfortable spot on the terminal seating (news flash, this spot is an illusion), I rented a car, checked into my hotel, and folded myself neatly on top of the bed. Mike called after the rehearsal dinner to make sure I was live and in person and advise me someone would be picking up at the hotel early in the morning so I could spend some time with the wedding planner discussing my part in the ceremony before the show went on the road. K.

Arranging a wake-up call for 6:30, I showered, put on my make up, fixed my hair and stopped for a bite to eat before meeting Mike’s sister, Marie outside the hotel at 8:00. On the way to the church, Marie filled me in on what I had missed. It seemed in a high mass the maid of honor has some work to do. Goody. The wedding planner was going to walk me through where I was to be and what my duties were during the ceremony and before I gave my speech. Speech? Que es speech? Nobody said anything about a speech. Both the best man and myself were going to be expected to step up to the podium and deliver a three minute speech about marriage. Swell. I was twenty-two what did I know about marriage? I had barely scraped the surface about life. Good Lord. My knees were already knocking as we pulled up to the enormous Catholic church where the goings on were in full swing.

Mike, normally rock solid, was a puddle of nerves by the time I got to the back of the church where everyone was getting dressed. One of the bridesmaids, a friend from school now living out of state, had neglected to mention she was pregnant and unmarried, before saying she would be happy to be part of Mike’s big day. Though not in full bloom, there was definitely no doubt about her condition, and in the red dress it made quite statement. It was decided to add flowers to our bouquets last minute to hide what we could of her “bulge”.

The wedding planner grabbed me once I was dressed and took me out into the church to walk me through my paces. I hoped there wasn’t a test on this later, because I was quite sure I would fail. At one point I was to hand my flowers to the attendant next to me, lift up my skirt so as not to trip while ascending the four stairs to the podium, and deliver a pre-written speech. Thank God it was pre-written. Had I had to sum up marriage at that age, it would have been a very short speech.

Somehow we made it down the aisle. The ceremony seemed to last for days. Finally, my cue came to step up to the podium. Handing my flowers to the girl next to me I held my skirt up slightly as instructed and made my way successfully up to the third step. On the fourth my heel caught and I performed an ungraceful half gainer across the floor nearly falling on my face. The small ringed hat and veil perched atop my head moved forward nearly obscuring my view. Gathering myself up, and reseating my hat and my dignity I proceeded to the podium. Looking out over the sea of faces, I suddenly needed to use the restroom. Calming myself, I somehow opened my mouth and said what needed to be said and made it back to my appointed spot at the altar without leaving a trail of urine on the way. My mom, in the audience, said she would never have known I was nervous. That, I say, was definitely a miracle.

I had one large wedding out of four. Never sorry I did that. That day remains very special to me. We didn’t pull out all the stops. The reception was held in my parent’s back yard with around 100 people attending. I bought my own dress and paid for the invitations. The honeymoon was a gift from the groom and my parents paid for the rest. Nothing over the top but a special day nonetheless with few scary moments beyond making such a huge commitment at such a tender age.

A therapist once told me when facing a scary situation ask yourself “what is the worst thing that could happen”? This bit of advice has been very handy in a life filled with strange and unusual happenings. In the case of the wedding the worst thing was that I tripped and was embarrassed. My mum used to say I could walk into an empty room and find something to fall over. We each have our crosses to bear, mine is I tend to move before I think. By the time we reached the reception nobody but myself remembered what had occurred. Once there, I too forgot about it and enjoyed the people and the delicious food. Life passes by in an instant. Sweat the big stuff and laugh at yourself over the small.

Nowadays we do not want to concentrate on what is the worst thing that could happen because it seems to be happening all around us. Guess the best we can do is be positive and creative and try to stay vigilant.

Happy Halloween. One of my favorite holidays. Stay safe, have fun, eat lots of candy and remember to say “I love you” to those special people.

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