Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Family’

I had minor surgery on my back yesterday to remove a cancerous area. This is not my first rodeo when it comes to this type of surgery, and it won’t be my last. As I said in my previous blog, it is the curse of being a fair skinned, light eyed person of English descent. I shall drop a note to the Queen one of these days and tell her I don’t at all appreciate the extra burden my British ancestry has imposed on my life.

The appointment was set for the ungodly hour of 8 am. It’s not like I’m not up with the chickens, but don’t necessarily wish to be on the road that early now that I’m not punching a clock anymore. Several friends called to wish me well, putting me a little behind. I gathered up the accoutrement it appears necessary to get me up and running and locked the door behind me. In the car, I cranked her up, and noted the “check engine light” that keeps turning on and off, was once again front and center on my dashboard. I contacted Ford the other day to get an appointment to get this looked at and the overly burdened lady in their service department told me she could fit me in just before the holidays roll around again this year. Sadly, with everything being so far behind, I told her to add me to the roster. Sigh. What’s a girl to do?

Pulling out into the street I glanced down at my feet only to have instant realization of how distracted I have been of late. Secured on both feet were my big green fuzzy slippers. Thankfully, I noticed before I plodded into the doctor’s office to check in for my appointment looking like an oversized version of Oscar the Grouch. If there are any keepers out there needing work, please leave your applications with my people and I’ll get back to you. Good Lord. So, back in I went, now late, and shoes were put on both feet as it should be. All was well with the world.

The procedure took about an hour. Once they anesthetize you, the worst of it is over. Until, of course, the numbness wears off. I was a dental assistant in a former life. One of the things I liked least about the job, and there were many, was being the one who prepped the syringes. Always, I felt like the executioner getting the noose secured to the scaffold. The practice I worked for specialized in orthodontia. That being said, most of the victims, uh patients, were children. That was difficult for me. Why on earth I ever decided to go into that field to begin with still boggles the mind. I can’t stand the dental office. The smells, the noise, the pain, the blood. I would rather be shot in the foot. What was I thinking? I actually wanted to be a medical assistant, but couldn’t handle the thought of giving people injections. Perhaps neither job was in a field I should have been sniffing around in. As a teen, I wanted to be a nurse for a while, like my paternal grandmother. Somehow I knew my total inability to deal with visceral issues such as throwing up or worse meant I wasn’t ideally suited for training for that profession.

After the surgery, they had me straddle the chair and drink apple juice from a juice cup. A nurse came in and handed me a package of crackers, instructing me to eat them before leaving. With the little shirt on they gave me to wear during the procedure, I felt like a fourth grader. To complete the picture, the doctor kept referring to me as a “peanut” because I am a rather slight human. Truth is, I didn’t mind it. I’ve been called worse. So, I can check that off my list. It felt strange when they asked me to confirm my information at the front desk. One of the questions the lady in reception asked was whether Dale was still my emergency contact. “Sadly, no”, I replied. Watching her delete him from my records felt deep to me. The significance of that action was not lost on my heartstrings. I have to go back every two days and have the bandage changed for twelve days, because where the wound is located I am unable to reach myself. The universe was giving me a clear message, “You’re on your own, kid. Better learn to deal with it.” Heard and received, thank you very much. Driving towards home, my mind told me I needed a treat so before merging onto the freeway I pulled in behind the other cars at the Starbuck’s drive-thru. A caramel frappuccino has cured many a rough day for me.

After I came home, I gave myself a rare pass for the day and binge watched Netflix shows and did not one productive thing to support my goal of being a useful human being. It was rather glorious. Wouldn’t want to do it every day, but I think my body was telling me it was tired and needed to rest, and I felt I needed to honor the request.

Today I am stiff, but doing much better. I seem to have picked up some juice after wiling away a 24 hour period on my back eating Doritos and enjoying some chill time watching Grace and Frankie. Definitely, a walk is in my future today before those corn chips decide to take up permanent residence on my posterior side. I had to cancel a session I signed up for several months ago with a local grief group meeting today which saddened me. This was a new group, and I was looking forward to meeting others in the area dealing with the loss of a spouse or life partner. With things as they are right now with the bug, going into an unknown group of people who have a choice of whether to mask up or not is not an option for me. Between my mother, who is most vulnerable, and our littlest member, who is three, I can’t take the chance of bringing a hitchhiking germ home with me.

One thing I remind myself frequently, as these are challenging times, is that a year from now things will look different. As with everything, the tide will go out again and we will return to normal (whatever normal might be). So, I forge on undaunted and plan to clean out closets and drawers today in case the Queen stops by for tea.

Take a breath, drink in the glorious pink colors cascading across the sky as the sun comes up, and hold tight to the good thoughts of better days to come.

Read Full Post »

Well here we are on the precipice of New Year’s Day 2022. Another year tied up, almost, and ready to be left to the history books for posterity. On reflection, it wasn’t an easy year by any stretch of the imagination. Going into 2021, my life was definitely headed in a direction that has since dramatically altered its course. This leaves me with a lot of uncertainty as this year turns off its lights, and yes, a great deal of anticipation as I set foot in the new year. This year Dale and I entered January together, hopeful for new adventures and sharing our days together. As I exit on the other end, I have had to let him go on ahead of me and am left to find a new life on my own. Once again, I restart my life. I will begin to rebuild the foundation, and as the days go by add brick by brick to make the structure sound. Makes me wonder what on earth the universe had in store for me when they sent me down the chute. So many times, I get comfortable in a direction I am headed, only to find myself completely redirected into an entirely different life. Always, though, I believe there is a reason. We do not often know what that is, but I believe we are guided to where it is we are to go. I am glad to put this holiday season to bed and pleased I made it through and found much joy with my family and my little house and Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats.

Well, Christmas gifts have been opened, appreciated, and tucked away for another year. The second of January I will dismantle the tree and put it back in its zippered bag. it has done its job for this season, brightening both my home and my spirits. My mother was with us all day on Christmas at my daughter’s for presents and dinner. With the dementia, she often misunderstands what is going on in new surroundings, so she thought we’d made a party in her honor. It was such a lovely misconception, we let her believe it to be true. Really, the day was all about three year old Zeppelin when it came to what was under the tree. So many presents had his name on the tag, and he is old enough now to thoroughly immerse himself in the spirit of the day. My daughter, Heather, has a way of making magic happen around the holidays. While Zeppelin was still happily dreaming about the day to come, Heather was stamping muddy hoof prints stretching from the door to the fireplace on her tile floor. Next, she made a line of snowy boot prints leading from the fireplace to the tree. A pile of half eaten cookies sat in the dish on a mantle near a half filled glass of milk, and filled stockings were then lined up on the hearth. The scene was set, and none of the ambience was wasted on our littlest member. Truly seeing the holidays through children’s eyes can make you young again, even if just for the moment.

My mother definitely had her holiday spirit turned up to full volume as well. Five generations were represented at our table, with the oldest and the youngest member of our small but hearty band seated at opposite ends enjoying their Christmas dinner. Something very special about a moment like that, that really fits nicely in the confines of your heart.

I am driving down to the Bay Area for the New Years holiday. Seem to be getting around quite a bit these days. I love to drive actually. Getting out on the road with the music turned to 70’s classic rock, no time schedule but the one I choose for myself, and my son and his family waiting for me on the other end sounds very inviting. Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, will have her usual pet sitter to keep an eye on her in my absence so the home front will be covered until I come back.

Though jeans and leggings topped with sweaters will be appropriate attire for most of my stay, my son and his fiance are hosting an engagement/New Year’s Eve party on the thirty first. This, will require a little effort on my part. When Rick and I owned the restaurant half my closet my filled with dresses and skirts. These days, I definitely lean towards more comfortable clothes. It’s not like the Queen is stopping by for tea any time soon. There isn’t a pair of heels visible among my vast assortment of shoes, and I don’t own any dresses at all except some of the casual summer variety. Hmmmm. Well, this is a good week to hit the stores. All the after Christmas sales will be in full bloom. I don’t really like what the designers are pushing our way this year, unfortunately. Most of the dresses look like they could also serve as appropriate shelter from a storm should you get caught in inclement weather while wearing them outside. A few tent poles and a Coleman lantern and you’re good to go. Perhaps this is because a lot of people have added a few pounds during the pandemic, I don’t know, but they surely aren’t very figure flattering. Big, blousey numbers in really busy bold prints. They remind me of the upholstery on the couch in my piano teachers parlor when I was a kid. Ugh.

I used to dress up all the time, but then I was working full time. In the restaurant, part of my job was to look professional and pulled together. Rick and I were there most days, so I needed a wardrobe to support being in the public eye. We chose Italian fine dining, making it relatively upscale as far as decor and menu. As the owners, Rick and I were expected to look the part. Owning a restaurant is not for the feint of heart. To say it’s a lot of work, barely begins to cover the amount of work it actually is. Sunday was the only day Vino Vino was closed, but that did not mean it was necessarily a day of rest. I still went into the restaurant early in the morning to pick up the server’s envelopes from the night before. Their receipts and monies would be in the safe and I would separate their gratuities from the bank deposit which would be made Monday morning, and every morning of the week.

It always was a bit of an eerie experience stepping inside that door when the building was empty. A very old structure, it was originally a saloon in it’s early days, or so the stories go. Built in the late 1800’s I’m sure it held many interesting stories and lurid tales inside it’s walls. The cooks, all men by the way, were not comfortable cooking in the kitchen alone, claiming they never felt they really were, alone, that is. Often, when I came in the front of the building sounds like banging or tapping could be heard in the bar area toward the back of the building. If I went back there by myself, I always left the front door standing ajar in case I needed an easy escape route. At night before we closed up, whether by design or chance, it always seemed we left in twos. One cannot be too cautious when dealing with ethereal things we don’t quite understand.

People ask me often if I would do it again. The answer would be, no. However, I am glad I did it then. It was a fascinating experience and I’m happy I was part of it. Sometimes I toy with the idea of opening a breakfast and lunch place somewhere in a lovely beach community, but really it is like a cat batting around a stuffed mouse. It’s fun to play with but the relationship is not going anywhere beyond that point.

Snow and rain have moved into our area. We sorely need it so I’m glad it’s here but it is making a mess for travelers trying to get home after the holidays. A lot of my friends in the high country are snowed in and without power. Whew, there is a price to pay for everything, I would guess.

Stay safe and snug over the holidays. Remember to count your blessings. You can’t do this too many times to my mind. Happy Monday.

Read Full Post »

We are coming to the end of another odd year. I thought last year with all the COVID concerns was to be the odd one, but have to admit this year went ahead and really outdid itself. As I’ve said, I had COVID, and obviously survived. As of last month, I can also say I have had both vaccinations plus the indicated additional booster. Now, they are saying there’s a new variant more resistant then it’s predecessors. Whew. It’s like climbing the side of a steep precipice. You can see the top of the mountain from your vantage point, but no matter how high you climb, getting there always seems just out of reach. At some point, you have to say to yourself, “I have done what I can to keep myself and those around me safe. Now I have to let go, and let God (or whoever you believe is in charge).” At times it feels like no one is in charge, though I don’t really believe that. However, lately some days it does seem as if the ship is sailing through rough waters with nobody manning the oars.

The holidays were looming in front of me ominously after Dale passed away October 22nd. It’s odd, though it’s been only a little over a month, it feels like a lifetime has gone by since he last sat in my living room. I’m managing to get through each holiday as it shows up on the calendar, and find myself enjoying my time with friends and family. Perhaps because this is my second immersion in the grief process in three years, I have learned to traverse the minefield without leaving any limbs in my wake. Sometimes the pendulum reflecting my mood leans far to the right. During those darker periods, lifting my heavy feet to walk seems an impossible task. Then, as quickly as it leaned right, it will move dramatically to the left side. When resting there, my toes are happily tap, tap, tapping to a song I’m listening to, or I find myself humming contentedly while fixing vegetables in my sunny kitchen. Grief is such an individual undertaking (sorry that pun was unintended), and each person must in the end make their own way through it however works best for them.

I have begun my shopping for this holiday season. Once I have watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Santa and Mrs. Claus have driven their sleigh down 34th Street and flown home to help the elves prepare for the big day, I generally get into the swing of things as far as gifts are concerned. I am nothing, if not a creature of habit.

Now that we’re all emptying our bank accounts for the sake of maintaining Santa’s reputation, I’d like to offer a piece of sage advice. Be careful when you order anything off the ads that pop up on social media, particularly when you have never heard of the company. At the very least, check them out on some of the verifier sites before ordering anything. Twice now I’ve been suckered in by a really cute picture only to end up with something not resembling that item in the least. This time I ordered two. Please, I know. Don’t judge me. I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty face. “Let the buyer beware” is really a mantra I should have been saying, quite possibly out loud. If it was physically possible, and believe me it is not any more, I would be kicking my own behind. Duh.

When I contacted the seller he responded, or she, I needed to peel the protective plastic sheet off the item to improve the look. Hmmmmm. It would take more than that I’m afraid. Number one, the original item looked to have dimension and the one I got look like a photograph of that item glued on to a plastic backing. It looks like that because I’m quite sure that’s exactly what it is. They made one, took a picture, threw out the fishing line and waited to sink the hook in some suckers lower lip. I was kind enough to stop by and offer them mine. Number two, the plastic protective sheet was glued or stuck on the plastic and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I reported them on a site I go to report such things. Should have read some of the comments about this company I found there before ordering anything myself. Each comment echoed how I felt. Cheap, poorly made, not representative of the item they had shown a picture of. Check, check, and check. Ah well, another lesson written on the board. I wonder if I’ll graduate one of these days, or if I’m just one of those students who is perpetually sitting outside of the principal’s office?

Thanksgiving turned out to be a lovely celebration at my daughter’s house with her family and a few of her husband’s relatives. My mother joined us, and after a bit of a health scare earlier in the week, we were feeling especially thankful to see her face a the table. Dinner was a fusion of vegan and carnivore, and delicious on all counts. Not being a sweet eater usually, I really enjoyed the pumpkin cheesecake which was totally a vegan recipe. Yummer. I was spending the night, so I thought to pack a pair of “after dinner pants” with a flexible waist. I highly recommend this. Hah. Gave all that dinner a little room to settle into the loose spots. When staying over night at my daughters, I sleep on the couch. Quite often I have one or the other of the two cats in residence join me during the night. Heather, my daughter, is a very creative being. Like her mother, she loves the holidays and her well decorated house reflects her passion. All across her ceiling in the family and living rooms she hangs snowflakes from fishing line. Each snowflake is strategically placed and hangs at a different length on it’s invisible tether than the one hanging next to it. Lying there in the dark before closing my eyes, I watched as the air currents moved the snowflakes in circles like a lovely choreographed winter ballet. Life really is magical, whatever age you are.

Yesterday, my son and his girlfriend drove up from the Bay Area for a quick lunch with my daughter and myself. It was so nice to have both my chicks together. We ate a local restaurant and again I was faced with dishes full of amazing calorie laden food. OMG. Where were my “after dinner pants” when I needed them? For an appetizer (I KNOW, WHAT?) we had baked brie. After tasting it spread on the garlic toast points they provided on the side, I considered for a moment face planting in the center of the serving dish. Soooooo good. It was bubbly brie, topped with caramelized onions, and then finished off with a perfectly cooked fried egg on top. When the yolk was broken, it oozed over the whole caramelly oooey gooey cheesy deliciousness. “Stop”, my stomach cried out to deaf ears. “You’re killing me.” Did I listen? Nooooooooo. I forged on, following up the amazing brie with a plate of eggs Benedict served on crab cakes next to a mountain of home fries. I can feel the acid building in my nether regions as I’m writing this. To begin with, years ago I lost my gall bladder. I didn’t misplace it, though lately that wouldn’t surprise me, but I had it surgically removed. I lost an organ with each marriage, a testimony to the sacrament, and this one was sacrificed during my third. I barely show up on an x-ray any more. Seriously, I can’t afford another marriage with any hopes of remaining erect. I had no after affects worth mentioning after my gall bladder was gone, except for a high sensitivity to garlic. The pungent little bugger will repeat on me for hours once I’ve consumed it. Not a pretty thought I know.

So, today I am taking a cleanse of sorts to right my ship again. When I get off course, I try to correct it and get back in the shipping lane again as soon as possible. The only exception would be spending a week on a cruise ship There is no way to get away from the incessant parade of delicious food there unless you actually jump ship or stay behind in one of the scheduled ports, but I digress. How on earth I got on cruise ships I have no idea. Anyhow, this morning it was oatmeal and fresh fruit followed by a brisk walk, and a salad with micro greens for lunch. No matter how I write that it will never sound anywhere near as enticing as my description of that baked brie. I’m just sayin.

I would guess a lot of you were out and about over the weekend shopping or picking up a tree to bring home and decorate. Have a lovely Monday. Talk soon.

Read Full Post »

Recently I spent the night at a dear friend’s house on the way home from visiting my son in the Bay Area. Her house, a gorgeously appointed home, reminds me of an aerie. It sits perched high on a hill offering up a view of the San Jose valley stretching all the way to the Santa Cruz mountains. Typical of such a nest, birds seem to be visible anywhere you look. This, most likely due to the multiple bird feeders dangling from the branches of the prolific fruit trees lining the property. While sitting on her patio, it would not be unexpected to have a hummingbird stop by to check out who is hiding behind the sunglasses you are wearing, It’s a favorite hangout of mine. When I visit, we begin our days seated across the counter from one another in her bright, welcoming kitchen. There we discuss shared interests such as cooking and art, solve the world’s problems, and generally catch up on family news. While seated at that counter she has tried and failed miserably on numerous occasions to teach me to crochet. Crocheting is something she is exceptionally gifted at, and I, as my track record will attest, am not. This we always do over a cup of hot tea, served properly in a delicate china cup and saucer. Like me, she was born in Canada. You’d never catch a traditional Canadian serving tea in a mug. She was born on the west coast, namely British Columbia, while I arrived in the world all the way to the east in Nova Scotia. Though we’ve both kept a lot of the basic substance that makes us Canadian, she migrated to the U.S. as an adult, instead of coming here as a child as I did. Perhaps because of this, she has retained more of the Canadian colloquialisms in her speech. Eh, comes up often in her conversations, where in my case, you would rarely here me say it.

Cleaning up after dinner, I noticed her washing out a resealable bag. I asked why she would not just toss it in the trash. I didn’t think it would be a hardship for her to purchase a new box of bags should she run out. She explained, though financially comfortable at this time in her life, she grew up, as she put it, “church poor”. The clothes she wore were either hand me downs from her older sister, often missing a button or sporting a jelly stain on the collar, or something picked up at the church rummage sales formally worn by someone else’s child in the congregation. Once, she said, her mother got her a pair of shoes that were several sizes too big. In spite of the fact they didn’t fit her feet properly, she was thrilled because they clop, clop, clopped as she walked along, making her feel very grown up. That being said, she learned not to waste what she was given, lest a replacement wasn’t forthcoming anytime soon. Made me think about how much our childhood experiences are tightly woven into the fabric of our adulthood. Good or bad, our formative years, though they do not define us, do help to shape us into who we are as adults.

It’s funny how all the things we are taught as children seem to stick with us like flies to flypaper throughout our lives. I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast, but I make my bed every morning before coming out for the day just as I was taught to do in my first tiny bedroom. Traditions honored in our homes growing up, are often carried along with us when we have established homes of our own. Traveling across the U.S. in my earlier years I was privy to a lot of different traditions and ways of doing things. Some which I packed in my bag and brought along with me, others I sampled and left behind. While living in the south and in West Virginia, it wasn’t always possible to travel to the west coast to visit my family when the holidays rolled around. If in town, my husband and I often shared holiday meals with friends and their families living nearby. Traditions clearly illuminate themselves during such occasions. At each household where we enjoyed either a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, their families customs would be evident first and foremost in the kitchen. If a turkey was to be the main course, the stuffing (or dressing, depending on your preference), was usually a recipe handed down from the previous generation, who it turn had gotten it from the one before. Each house had it’s own approach to the same recipes. Do you add the giblets or leave them out? Is yours a mixture of cornbread and white, or do you stick with one or the other? Where some cooks stuff the bird before popping it in the oven, others cook the dressing separately. This followed on down to how they cooked the turkey, or if they had turkey at all. For some families it was ham or prime rib that was to be the star of the meal. However it went, it all seemed to align with what their parents had done at their tables and how they had prepared it. I know I often say if complimented on my potato salad, “thanks, it’s my mom’s recipe”. I know she learned it from her mother, because I heard her often say it when complimented herself.

Certainly there are recipes my children will ask for when I’m under their roofs. For my son, it would be twice baked potatoes, and my daughter often wants me to cook poached eggs. Funny, I end up doing poached eggs for friends as well. Interesting, it’s really not rocket science, but for whatever reason I seem to have developed a knack for cooking them well. A latent talent there really isn’t much call for in the current market.

Grandparents are tasked with passing on some of what they have picked up along the way to their grandchildren. When I was down visiting my son and his brood, I spent some time with his oldest, my granddaughter, Ailish. Ailish had gotten a sewing machine, but had never used one. I have sewn for years. At one time I had an entire booth set up I used for local fairs and art and wine shows to sell both my hand sewn items as well as my artwork. These days I still find myself seated at my machine around the holidays whipping out aprons for my friends or family members, or on occasion doing some quick alterations for people in my life who can’t sew. Other than that, I don’t have the time, nor the energy with everything going on at present to thread a needle. Being able to show my granddaughter, however, was such a treat. To hand down a few pointers to get her started for me was so very special. This was a gift that cost nothing, but gave something both to her and to myself. Loved it.

With our busy lives these days, a lot of traditions have been forgotten, or simply been thrown out the window. We eat on the run, rather than stopping for a moment to come together over a meal. Instead of being seated at the table with friends or family, we often grab something on the run or even eat at different schedules. Perhaps the kids eat at a TV tray in front of the TV or in their rooms with their video games or cell phones, while you find yourself standing at the counter picking at the remains of last night’s take-out order. There is something elegant, even decadent, about sitting down to a nice meal, to me at least. The act of removing a cloth napkin from a decorative ring, lighting a candle in the center of the table, and eating off a lovely plate at a nice place setting makes for a dining experience and not just something to put in your mouth. Several younger women in my circle make breakfast in a blender or bullet. Everything but the cat is dropped in there in there in the morning, and with the push of a button reduced to mulch. Once the caldron has been primed, the liquid is poured into another container, and either sipped or gulped down on the way to work, the gym, or wherever else they might be headed. In my experience no matter what goes in them, these drinks end up a rather uninviting green color. Though I have no issue with green, it is after all the color of nature. However, when offered up in a drink, I find it less palatable. There isn’t a green vegetable I’m not happy to see on my plate, oh, except kale and okra. God knows I’ve tried to like both, but there’s something about them that leaves me wanting less, or preferably none at all. I’ve recently discovered arugula, and find I really like it. Rick used to tell me his grandfather, a scientist, ate arugula every day to keep his mind and body healthy. This was a tradition Rick allowed to fade into the background and disappear. I wouldn’t need to have it every day, but it’s certainly better than kale.

My grandmother gave me so many traditions I still practice in my life. In my drawer the other day I came across a packet of letters written in my grandmother’s hand. Her handwriting was very distinguishable, almost artistic. I would recognize it anywhere. Up until the several years before she died, she wrote me letters. Always I enjoyed seeing one of her envelopes in my mailbox. With her flair for telling a story, she would bring me up-to-date on my cousins in Canada or what other relatives she was in touch with had been up to. It made me feel part of my distant clan rather than having the many miles we had between us. Nobody writes letters anymore. It is another lost tradition, as are thank-you notes. I think the only time I’ve gotten a thank you note in recent years was following a wedding where the bride was acknowledging a wedding present I’d given to them. I guess if they’re not even teaching cursive in the classroom anymore, I won’t look for these to make a resurgence in the future.

Aside from family traditions, we absorb traditions familiar to our area, our religion, our race, and even our neighborhoods. My traditions have at times varied drastically from the people I was associated with. Rick, as I’ve mentioned many times, was born in Cairo, Egypt. Cairo was home, until he came to the U.S. to attend college. Egypt has always held a sort of fascination for me. Growing up, I wrote nearly every essay in geography or history about Egypt. I wanted to be either an archaeologist or Egyptologist when I grew up. As I am not writing this in a tent at a dig in an exotic location, you might guess I really didn’t hit close to the mark. In the nearly twenty years Rick and I spent together, he answered many questions for me about life in Cairo and Egyptian traditions. The fact he had seen the great pyramids, even ridden there on a camel, was enough to make him a hero in my book. He had boxes of pictures for me to look at, and so many details to fill in, I would never had known had not he shared them with me. It was in such contrast to my upbringing in Nova Scotia. Had we planned it, we probably couldn’t have created two more opposite upbringings.

When we spoke of Cairo, our conversations often turned to food, and for Rick, coffee. Being foodies both were subjects we had a personal investment in. Coffee houses were big gathering spots in Cairo. At the time he was there, they were only frequented only by men. They would gather there to drink tea and smoke flavored tobacco through a hookah. Strong, turkish coffee was also served in these cafes as well as espresso. When he first arrived in Michigan, where he was to go to school, he was surprised to discover he couldn’t get espresso anywhere. Coffee wasn’t the trendy drink it has morphed into these days. Remember when you just ordered a cup of coffee, and the only additional information required by the server was whether you wanted it black or took it with cream and sugar? The original Starbucks opened in Seattle in 1971, so if you weren’t around before then, the answer to that question would no. Now when ordering a cup of coffee, you have to stipulate what blend, temperature, size, and even strength. You need a coffee map to order. When living in Boston, the first time I ordered a cup they asked if I wanted my coffee regular. I had no idea how to answer that question. Was there an irregular? Turned out regular was with cream and sugar, light just cream, and then black, if that was your preference.

Today is definitely not a hot beverage kind of day. The thermometer on the porch reads nearly 100. In spite of this fact, I noticed in the stores the other day Halloween decorations are beginning to replace displays featuring coolers or beach umbrellas. Fall, for me, can’t arrive too soon. With the delta variant of this incredibly persistent virus beginning to set the rules for the nation, it makes me wonder what the holidays are to look like this year. I was hoping with both Covid and the vaccinations behind us, there might be a lighter feel to the festivities this year. This remains to be seen, of course, and I will welcome the holidays with whatever they bring.

A friend asked me the other day if I thought our world would ever look the same. Tough question. Since I’m trying to give up clairvoyance, I didn’t have a good answer for her. Truth is does it ever look the same? It may feel like life goes on without change day after day at times when you’re bored or unmoved by what’s going on around it, but it is endlessly changing and we shift and change with it. Summer melts into fall, fall into winter. We tuck away our shorts in a box, and bring out our sweaters and boots. I thought by now I would have sacrificed my masks and begun a renewal of sorts when it comes to all the Covid reports, but it is what it is. I only have one friend who remains unvaccinated and we had a discussion about it yesterday. Being a friend, is staying on the sidelines often and keeping clean boundaries. Part of that is not butting in when we haven’t been asked our opinions on a particular subject and respecting the other person’s point of view. In this case, I stepped over the line for a moment, and suggested she put her arm out and get a shot. Her family has had theirs, and apparently now vaccinated people can transmit it to those who are unprotected. I explained I love her, and was getting extremely tired of saying goodbye to beloved people in my life. I believe my arrow hit its mark, as we signed off with her going to look for a local place to get the injection.

So, on that note I will look wistfully towards the end of summer and welcoming in the cooler months. Fall being the season of my birth, I have a special affinity for this time of year. There’s something so cozy about walking along a street, bundled up against a cool wind, and hearing the crunching of the fallen leaves under your shoes. When the days begin to draw in, and darkness falls earlier, I like to be tucked in and warm inside with a candle burning and something hot and delicious bubbling in a pot on the stove.

My grandmother used to always tell me “Don’t wish your life away”, if I wished for time to pass more quickly. This year holds so many mysteries yet to unfold, I will settle for being in this day and try to make it eventful and interesting. I wish you the same and a happy weekend.

Read Full Post »

My heart goes out to those overworked healthcare care workers practically begging us not to travel to friends and family over the holidays. Good news, all but 84 million of us paid attention to the warnings. Sigh. We really can’t deny ourselves. Even with the vaccine on it’s way to relieve some of the stress the virus has placed on our country, people will do what people want to do.

Aside from all the Covid saturating the news, the less than peaceful transition of power looms heavy in the headlines. For those of you who have ever ridden a jet ski and fallen off, that’s what the end of this year with our government feels like to me. No rider at the controls and everybody going around in circles. “Jet ski”, you say? A jet ski, is essentially a water motorcycle. Not all, but some, manufacturers have a built in function wherein if the driver falls off while the jet ski is in the water the vehicle will turn to the right and circle so the rider can swim to retrieve it. Just so you know.

Speaking for myself, I’m starting to believe we should do a clean sweep in Washington and start from scratch when it comes to our legislators. Some of these old dogs need to be moved out to allow room for some new blood and fresh ideas to take their place. The government, like my house after my taking a month off to recover from the virus, is in need a serious deep cleaning.

I am steadily regaining my pre-Covid stamina and my brain fog seems to be lifting. Always I have been a being of high energy and having lost that for a while was disconcerting. I seem to find myself in the kitchen a lot these days. After Rick passed, hard to believe it was two and a half years ago, I lost interest in cooking. However, my enthusiasm has been rekindled since finding myself restricted the house for so long during 2020. My size 2 pants gathering dust in my closet, will testify to the fact I haven’t been missing any meals of late.

Too many people out there are struggling this holiday season. I feel immensely grateful to be here celebrating the passing of another year and to have leftovers in my refrigerator from my Christmas dinner, and a roof above my head to keep the rain off.

Over my lifetime like most people, I have experienced times of peaks and times of valleys. At the time they felt more like insurmountable peaks and bottomless crevices than blips in the road. Always though, when it was darkest, the clouds parted allowing shards of sunlight to shine through. This year has definitely been a deep dip on the chart, but I hold on to the knowledge at some point somewhere down the road life will be bright again. Spring with all its glorious rebirth and rejuvenation has always followed a brutally cold winter.

Someone asked me the other day why there has to be so much human suffering. Why anyone might suppose I hold the key to this door I can’t imagine. The answer, or one I’ve heard proposed often, is without suffering how would we recognize bliss? Yin and yang. Balance in all things in nature. I try not to stay too long on that train of thought, because once I hop on board, I find it difficult to see a destination in sight. There are so many unanswered questions in this world. I would hazard a guess after populating this planet for hundreds of years the things we don’t know still vastly outweigh what we do. If you wade too deeply into this pool, you will end up under water. There is no Alex Trabeck standing by the board to reveal the answer once you have posed the question. Sadly, there is no Alex Trabeck in the picture at all, at least in his physical being. I shall miss him.

There are many questions I would ask at the end of this eventful year. For example, why are our highest elected officials (and I emphasize the word elected here- serving at the will if the people) out on the golf course whining about their lot in life while so many citizens across the country are going to bed hungry? I liken it to while watching your house burn to the ground while you draw your 9 iron out of your bag and hit it to the green. Lack of understanding as to why you put in a place of high authority in the first place. Basically, to PROTECT and SERVE, and this does not mean yourself. Nero had nothing on these folks with his fiddling while Rome incinerated. At least he was crazy, although that piece of the puzzle may fit in some instances in this puzzle as well. It does seem a bit like the world has gone mad. I’m just saying.

We managed to pull Christmas out of the hat at our house in spite of the many roadblocks. One after one, all the splinter groups in our family checked in virtually. We shared present opening and some much needed laughs. Though unspoken, I think all of us were missing being able to reach out to one another for a hug or two, but at least we were as to together as the situation safely allowed. I pared down my usual prime rib to filet mignon served with sautéed mushrooms, twice baked potatoes, hercot verts and cheddar and apple pie for dessert. It was delish, if I do say so myself, and apparently I just did. So many families were facing an empty chair at their holiday tables, so I will be thankful again and again all my faces were accounted for.


One thing of note about these trying times I have noticed, has been the kindness and generosity people have extended to one another. Even on a personal level, I have seen this over and over and heard similar stories from friends and loved ones of simple acts of kindness. It is heartwarming. Truly, or sadly depending on your point of view, we humans are at our best when at our worst.

I hope your Christmas was a success. One more week and we can put 2020 officially to bed, yay. That, is definitely a reason to break out the fireworks!!


Read Full Post »

My groceries were delivered Friday. This is an event I’m beginning to dread. From now on I’m not checking the substitutions box. Got four packages of frozen broccoli, four different boxes of ice cream, and a carton of White Castle burgers in lieu of the meat I ordered. Are White Castles even a member of any of the four food groups? My guess is no.  Hmmmm. Trying to understand the logic of this but it still escapes me. By the time I washed everything, threw away all the bags and gloves, put the rest in the shed, and decontaminated and sanitized the house, I found I had lost interest in food entirely but liquor was beginning to sound pretty good. Sigh.

I did make masks last week, and the good times just keep on coming. They turned out really cute actually. The only fabric I had that was flannel had frogs on it so I’ll be somewhat of a trend setter. Ribbet. Can’t believe I’m now seeing ads for designer masks. Really? People will hop on board for anything in the midst of disaster I swear. According to an article I read yesterday Americans have been ripped off in the millions on virus scams. That particular aspect of humanity always makes my heart sad. The “hit em while they’re down” mentality. Wonder what makes people able to live with themselves after taking advantage of someone already suffering. Never get that.

Have to say I am getting so much done. I didn’t want to do most of it which is why it hadn’t been done up until now, but since my calendar is looking a bit bleak at moment doing something certainly trumps doing nothing at all, at least for me. I’m not a good sitter. Even while watching a movie, unless it is totally riveting, I usually have something else on my lap I’m working on like knitting or I succumb to the annoying habit of hopping up and down to fetch something from the kitchen, or if all else fails I simply doze off in place.

Easter Sunday has come and gone. I put out a few of my favorite bunnies around the house to make me feel a bit festive. Yesterday was spent talking to friends. The aroma of the pot roast and root vegetables we had for dinner still lingers in the air and in spite of all that seems wrong in the world something feels kind of right if only for the moment.

Missed seeing our littlest clan member gathering eggs and enjoying his chocolates but life is what it is. Acceptance has been a big part of my world for the past few years particularly with Rick passing. This pandemic is no exception. Along with accepting the reality of the virus, I can also accept I am cozy and safe for the moment. I can accept that the sun is shining brightly outside my window, and I’m about to go for a long walk in my beautiful neighborhood. I will be thankful for that. I got on Zoom yesterday for a family hello. Not my favorite way to communicate. Why is it everyone looks so odd on the screen, or maybe it’s just that I do?  At one point my cheeks looked like I was storing nuts for winter and a little while later I noticed my chin had begun to look like it extended beyond my navel. Maybe I’m doing it wrong? I need one of those APPS that has twenty-seven filters and adds bunny ears and a fake nose for effect.

These days when I drift off of late into daydreamland I keep picturing myself on a white sandy beach somewhere decidedly tropical. Closing my eyes I can luxuriate in the glorious feel of warm sand sifting through my toes mixed with the intoxicating smell of salt sea air. Calgon? Oh, I’m back. Being confined has reminded  me of how much I truly do miss the ocean. Definitely when freedom is again possible I am pointing my car west and finding a beach. Growing up on the eastern seaboard my soul calls to the the sea when I’m away from it too long like a lost child seeking it’s mother.  My grandmother’s house in Halifax, Nova Scotia where I spent my formative years, sat atop a hill overlooking the entrance to Halifax harbor. As a child I would sit on the ridge watching for hours as massive ships entered and left.  Cargo ships riding low in the water heavy with loads were my favorites. They would make their way slowly to the docks expertly guided by the tugs hugging their sides.  Living close to the sea you find it wears many faces. Some days the water dances with joy as nympths of light hop from wave to wave across the surface. Then on foggy nights when visibility was limited the sad song of the fog horns would lull me to sleep tucked snugly away in my bed on the second floor towards the back of the house. Looking back I can’t remember feeling anything but safe living in that house on the hill. Perhaps the security of those early years helped to make me strong for a life to be filled with twists and turns such I had yet to imagine?

harbour-3-l

When around five years old my mother, a widow four years prior, began dating a rear admiral stationed aboard an aircraft carrier. One Sunday we were invited to tea on board ship. As usual I was imprisoned in shiny Mary Jane’s, a freshly pressed smocked dress, topped off with a little straw hat. Sigh. A tomboy from the tip of my grass stained toes to the top of my unruly curls, this, as you can imagine, was a fate worse than death. However, stepping on the deck of this massive conveyance is a memory well etched in mind. The surface seemed to extend to forever and infinity from my diminutive point of view. The rear admiral, “a tall drink of water” as my grandmother referred to him, guided us below deck to his quarters. What an experience. Tea was served by an officer assigned to see to such things and included the tea amenities as well as an assortment of finger sandwiches and a lovely variety of sweet tea cakes guaranteed to make a little girl’s heart smile. After that visit he had my vote to be my new daddy. Unfortunately I didn’t carry the majority in the house so mother moved on and I ended up with my first stepfather some three years later. We shan’t go there for now. Those stories are why I pay a therapist to listen to me.

hal-2968_orig

When left to my own thoughts my mind often goes off on journeys of it’s own. In search of a project I organized my drawers and shelves over the past week. Putting pictures in order and storing them to put in albums at another time brought up so many memories. Looking at my children’s fresh young faces standing before buildings now part of our history was a reminder, along with so many reminders lately, of how quickly life can change and how flexible we humans must be to keep up with the pace.

For some of us this pandemic has been a heavier hit than others. Certainly it has been an inconvenience for all of us and a financial burden for so many there is no denying that. I’m just saying some of us have carried more of the weight I believe. Doctors and nurses, for example, unable to return home to see their offspring for fear there might be a deadly hitchhiker riding on their skin or hidden in their clothing. People who have had to remain at a distance as their loved ones slipped away in a hospital they weren’t allowed to visit, then forced to mourn their passing alone or with a few family members at their sides. I’m finding myself feeling very thankful. It is not over yet.  Our planet has flexed it’s muscles and we who share it have felt the power of nature.  A wake up call? I am sure it is. I do hope we hear the message far beyond the time the immediate danger of becoming sick has passed. The L.A. basin is enjoying glorious blue skies for a change with the freeways not clogged with vehicles spewing toxins into the atmosphere. Though we humans may be suffering Mother Nature may, for the moment, be breathing a sweet sigh of relief for this brief reprieve.

I hope this finds you looking at the screen at familiar faces, or enjoying the smells emanating from your kitchens as well. Sending a virtual hug to all of you who are kind enough to stop by and read what I have written from time to time. Have a great day!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Fall-Printable-Banner-on-Wood.jpg

I got my hair done today in preparation for the holiday. You learn so much while sitting the salon chair. The girl next to me was getting the works done, hair, makeup and nails for her bachelorette party on Friday. The lady behind me had just lost forty pounds and was having her hair dyed in celebration of the weight loss. It’s not that I purposely eavesdrop, but the chairs are huddled together in a circle so conversations sort of hover in the air. Emily, my hair dresser, was telling me she has to attend three Thanksgivings every year. Seems her in-laws parted ways a decade ago in what was a contentious divorce. Each party has since remarried. So, Emily, her husband and three little ones go to dinner at her mother-in-law and her new husband’s home the weekend before Thanksgiving, then have dinner with her father-in-law and his new wife on the big day, followed up by a big celebration with Em’s family at home the weekend after. On Christmas this is repeated only with her family receiving top billing. After listening to her I was exhausted. I hope she has “fat pants” for the occasion. That’s a lot of turkey.

When Rick was with me we had turkey on Thanksgiving going with an alternate choice for Christmas such as prime rib or lamb. One year we even had lobster, a nod to my Canadian roots, which was totally decadent and delicious. For Rick, like many  people from what I understand, turkey was not at the top of his favorites list. I’m kind of with my mom in that I like turkey but view it more as a vessel for the stuffing to reside in and not the star of the meal. My day after turkey sandwich however, is a show stopper. Mayo, cranberry sauce, stuffing and turkey with a little salt and pepper. Yum and yum.

The tree will come out of the shed this week along with the sea of red and green bins in which all my decorations are housed. Last year being my first Christmas on my own was somewhat less than jolly, but I have regained some of my holiday spirit this year and am looking forward to putting up all my familiar holiday goodies on the day after turkey day. This is tradition for me, and in keeping with my traditions the day after Christmas they will once again be taken down. I know many people keep theirs up until New Years Day but by the time Christmas is in the bag, if you will, I am done with twinkling lights and wrapping paper. By then I am ready to put my feet up, have some hot chocolate, and take a rest before having to look at the upcoming year.  Some people still have their house lights on well into spring.  Others leave them up year round. Can’t decide whether they are just too lazy to take them down or they really, really, really like the holidays. I have one friend who left her tree up until it was nearly time to turn on the air conditioning.

Used to be a time I wouldn’t have entertained the thought of having an artificial tree. Always I insisted on having a fresh tree to have all the piney aromas in my living room. Flocked trees were my favorite, the type with the real clumped snow look to them that leave a trail of white all over your house both coming and going. I used to keep a lint brush by the front door for visitors who dared to venture to close. On several Christmases we took the children to the mountains to the tree farm. There’s something visceral about using an axe to cut the tree down then driving home singing Christmas carols with the tree tied to the roof of your car. Perhaps it’s left over from when our ancestors dragged home a kill to the hungry villagers.

Finally the weather is catching up with the season here in Northern California. People have been running around in shorts and tee shirts up until several days ago. The first snow is due in the mountain areas over the weekend. I am thankful to be down the hill from snow country this year. As beautiful as the world looks when the snowflakes begin to pile up on the tree boughs, driving in the aftermath is a pain and getting out of the steep driveway in my old house was downright dangerous to my well being. I’ve heard where I am in the lower foothills is occasionally dusted. An occasional snowfall is most welcome. The terrain is flat from here to my car where I live now, so I am far less likely to end up on my face. Twice while up in Grass Valley I went out to the car in the morning only to end up on my behind on the front porch. Now I am not against a good dance once and a while, but not before my coffee, in frigid weather, and definitely not when airborne.

Retailers are beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Unbelievably in the stores I found the Halloween 50% sale items on the shelf with Santa and his entourage. Maybe they should just combine the holidays having Santa riding in a pumpkin, eating a turkey leg?  They certainly don’t waste much time. Some of the Black Friday items were already on sale weeks ago. Pretty soon we’ll be celebrating it after Labor Day. I have so far bought one present and December 25th is one month away.  Though I love to be able to give to my loved ones it can be so stressful trying to figure out what to give and traversing the packed stores and endless lines. Most probably most of my shopping will be done on line. This year will be our little guys second Christmas. Viewing all this wonderment through his eyes will be exciting. That experience I am looking forward to the most. Also, we are blessed my mother is still with us. So many things to be thankful for besides what is wrapped under the tree.s

On a side note, I took my first clay modeling class yesterday. I have been trying to get into such a class since 1988. One thing or another always seemed to block my way. The class was three hours. That seemed like a long time when I signed up but have to say it went by so quickly when I was told it was time to hang up my apron for the day I was disappointed. How fun it was to learn something new and get my hands all gooey in the process. I made a snowman and a bowl which I shall show you once they’re glazed and fired.

Have a great day. Take a chance to learn something new or teach someone else something they haven’t experienced.

Read Full Post »

Having lost Rick, my partner for twenty years to cancer last September, I am adjusting to being “single” once again. One of the first things I noticed when finding myself on my own was the sensation of “uncoupling”. Essentially, being single in a world originally designed for couples, (even the ark only offered accommodations for two). Being on one’s own offers up it’s unique set of challenges. Uncomfortable moments specifically reserved for the unattached. For example, walking into a nice restaurant to have a meal. Before your eyes have adjusted you are greeted by the hostess inquiring, “How many in your party”? Looking around you lean in towards her ear and whisper, “I am the party”. When it has been established no one is with you, nor anyone expected, you are guided to an available table almost always in the center of the room. Once seated, the bus staff swoops in to remove any extra place settings so guests at adjacent tables are fully aware you are bereft of partner and only to be pitied. Since it might be considered rude in nice surroundings to retrieve the book in your purse, you instead sit there memorizing the pattern on the tablecloth or examining your silverware for spots until something arrives on a plate you can devote your full attention to. I have friends, some single for many years, who do eat out regularly without feeling awkward. As you might have sensed, I am not there yet.

Another difficult situation for me is a party populated solely by couples. When you arrive to discover yourself the only “one”, the hosts toss you about like a hot potato at a barbecue. People just don’t know what to do with you. Tables are often set up for pairs so you end up being part of a threesome who would really prefer to be a twosome, or an extra chair is added at the head of the table so it is patently obvious no one has accompanied you. Worse, if you strike up a conversation with someone’s husband you could be considered poaching on their territory. The last barbecue I went to where I was the only one among twos I ended up having a stimulating  conversation about the state of our union with the schnauzer lying by the fireplace who also appeared to have shown up for the evening stag. Sigh.

Couples suddenly seem to emerge from every nook and cranny. You see them cuddling in the theater, taking turns tossing things in the grocery cart at the market, and walking along chatting and laughing everywhere you go. Friends and family begin to ask what you are doing to encourage a new relationship in your life. Please, let me grieve the old one first.  I am sure at some point I may welcome someone new into my life, but I am not ready for romance at this stage of the game. I have, however, picked up some tips along the way for ladies who are actively searching for a mate. Go to the grocery store around dinner time. Secure a place in the line forming around the hot food kiosks. Single men seem to gravitate in this area like ants around a sugar cube. I have to admit I have found myself there on more than one occasion, not casting my line but rather filling one of the boxes with something to take home for dinner. While standing there you might toss about a couple of compelling opening lines like, “my fried chicken certainly puts this to shame”, or “thank God my parents sent me to culinary school”.

Another testosterone filled event, at least in our town, is held the local K-Mart parking lot on Saturday mornings. From 8 to 11 the shopping center is bustling with men washing down bear claws with steaming cups of coffee while showing off souped up muscle cars from their salad days. They huddle together avidly discussing the pros and cons of this engine or that piston brand, kicking tires and admiring one another’s sparkling engines. So if you’re single and looking ladies, it wouldn’t hurt to bone up on manifolds and cam belts and take a walk over and wander around looking fascinated should such an event be happening near you.

Cooking for one has far less allure than preparing a meal for two or more. Again, packaging is done with couples or families in mind. Costco becomes a less attractive shopping venue. What am I going to do with a five pound chub of Jarlsberg? By the time I’ve celebrated the half way mark and consumed cheese on everything from corn flakes to banana pudding the other half looks like a science experiment. Also, having downsized my living quarters, I don’t have enough freezer space to store large packages of food.

Eating alone at home also takes a bit of getting used to. When you dine with someone you exchange your day with them, or talk about what’s going on in the world (at the moment a topic more likely to give you indigestion) but when you are left to your own devices it is often the TV anchorman for company or sorting through that pile of unopened mail you’ve been systematically avoiding.

On the plus side, being on my own allows me to eat what I want to when I want to. Should I choose to have Lucky Charms with bananas with a side of cookies and cream topped with chocolate syrup at three in the afternoon and call it dinner, so be it. When Rick and I shared meals, dinner was an event. Exceptions were Sunday’s during football season where KFC catered our meals, or on super busy days when a burger or tacos from a local fast food restaurant might suffice, but most nights something healthy and appealing appeared on our plates.

So, there are things to learn and take from every life situation, at least this has been true in my lifetime. The path you are on does not always continue in the direction it originally was headed. Change is part of being and you either adapt or end up frustrated and unhappy, neither a state of being I find I enjoy.

Read Full Post »

This will be my second month in my new house. Getting used to the new house and the new area at the same time has proved interesting.  I left behind 1,600 plus square feet and a block full of friends and great neighbors. I don’t miss the house so much, but the people were really a support system for me. Not that we’re far apart, twenty five minutes by car, but just far enough to make visiting more of a plan than a spur of the moment idea.

Rick died in September and the house went on the market early spring. You don’t realize how much you’ve amassed over twenty years until you start going through cupboards, retrieving boxes from the rafters in the garage, and sorting through closets. Half of my house was packed for four months without me even noticing it was gone.

The new house is 1,200 square feet and has no garage. Getting everything to fit was like trying to squeeze an elephant into a dollhouse.  Even the movers who do this for a living were scratching their heads when they saw the space I expected all my things to reside in. Sigh.

Two weekends ago I finally unpacked my last box. Many things I’ve either shuttled to my daughter’s house to prepare for a huge garage sale we have on the calendar for September, donated, or given away.  At that, the house still has every available nook and cranny packed tightly and a storage shed is going to have to be built on the patio to house Christmas containers, tools, and whatever else couldn’t find a home.

With the diminished square footage I also lost a bedroom. I decided to purchase a hide-a-bed for the living room to use when company came and convert the second bedroom into a sewing room and office. After several weeks of arranging and rearranging it was finally coming together making me feel more settled. Feeling comfortable (I should know better considering my life up to this point) I decided it would be safe to have my mother over for the weekend.

As I have mentioned my mother is well into her golden years. The ladies on my family tree have a history of enjoying long lives.  Mother is no exception. Blessedly the genes also carry with them good health so other than the dementia now plaguing her memory she is in miraculous shape considering the number of candles on her birthday cake.

The first night was uneventful. Being an early riser I was up first. The bed, a California king, is oversized for the bedroom. That being said, the only way to get it in the oddly shaped master bedroom (this is an old house) was to push one side against the wall. For me this presented no problem because I sleep on the opposite side. However, sharing space with my mother lest she get up and get confused I took the inside position.  This necessitated climbing up over the footboard and crawling along the hope chest to get to the bathroom. I know.

Not quite fully in the moment yet, I padded into the bathroom and did what people usually do there first thing in the morning. Flushing the toilet I realized quickly water was swirling under my nether region. Oh-oh. Pushing the dimmer switch to fully on I realized not only was I standing in water but the bathtub was half full and it didn’t look to be water from the tap. OMG.

Glancing at the clock it read 6:30. Naturally, it was Saturday. Nothing disastrous ever happens on a weekday. Where’s the fun in that? To add to the excitement the weatherman had predicted it was shaping up to be the hottest day of the summer. Why not? I waited until 7:00 to put in a call to my landlady.  The week prior she had put in a new stove after the old one tried to gas me.  Neither of us voiced it but I know I was starting to wonder if the house was trying to kill me off. First gas now a flood. What’s next locusts?

Calling me back she said to expect a plumber in an hour. Thank God. Meanwhile back at the ranch mother is awake and guess what? You win the stuffed elephant. Both toilets being unusable I got her dressed quickly as she was saying the situation demanded it. Mother, vanity one of her downfalls, was trying to fuss with her hair. Please. As quickly as one can with an elderly lady with a cane I propelled her to the car. The only place close I could think of was a CVS around the corner open twenty-four hours.  Guiding my mom through the front door I followed the sign at the back of the store with an arrow saying Restrooms. Yay. Mother, hair askew looking more like a big ball of cotton candy sitting on top of her head than a hair do, hustled along beside me. Pushing through the doors I realized it was half way across the warehouse to the bathroom area. Finally getting to the doors I found another elderly woman standing by one door doing what I would call if my five year old grandson was doing it, the potty dance. She asked if I had the key. Key? This is where the belief I have a very mischeivious guardian angel comes into play. Come on. So leaving the two ladies to fend for themselves I sprinted across the warehouse, through the doors, up to the cashier and breathlessly asked for the key to the loo where I was informed it was in the camera department. My eyes glazed over. Finally, key in hand I retraced my steps and got both women in and busy while I tried to slow my heartbeat down to some kind of acceptable rythym. Really?

By the time we got home the plumber’s truck was in the driveway. Two hours later he had determined a tree root had caused the problem. Both toilets working the landlady assured me she’d have someone out on Monday to clean the carpet and sanitize the bathroom. Sounded good to me….. oh, not so fast.

Turns out this is some sort of Hazmat situation. Reminded me of that scene from ET. Floors were ripped out, carpets pulled, and walls removed. One team sanitized and another was called to take samples to make sure no bacteria remained. The bathroom vanity is residing in my recently organized spare room along with most of my clothes, shoes, and the remainder of what was in the bathroom. Today they are sheet rocking and tomorrow they are coming to move all the furniture out of the master bedroom and replace the carpet. Where they are putting the furniture should prove to be an act of pure magic. Life, as they say, is rarely dull. At least, mine isn’t.

And the beat goes on…………………

Read Full Post »

quotes-of-grief

Sitting here I find it hard to believe nearly a year has passed since Rick passed away. Time seems to be whizzing by my face like a moving sidewalk cranked up to mega warp speed. Over the past months I have sold my house, packed up my household goods, found a new place to live in a new area, and moved. Whew. This on top of grieving the loss of my spouse of twenty years and trying to figure out who this strange new person is facing me in the mirror each morning. Sometimes it feels as though my feet are made of cement and can’t or won’t move forward. Miraculously, each day they do somehow pick themselves up propelling me further down this unexplored path.

I stopped writing in my blog when this saga began, or when it ended, depending on your point of view. Writing about grief then following up with a recipe for tangy barbecued ribs seemed to me a poor pairing at best. To be honest writing, though probably therapeutic, seemed a daunting task when dealing with so many other more pressing issues.

So, here I am not whole, but rather slowly piecing myself back together, inviting you to come in once again and get reacquainted.

As usual even in the middle of chaos the universe has introduced a little extra spice to the pot to make my days interesting. Often I wonder if I have a guardian angel blessed with a rather twisted sense of humor who, though eventually cleaning up the messes she creates, enjoys watching as I fall into one catastrophe after another somehow climbing back up out of the fray.

Let’s catch up. As I said I sold my house in the tall trees. This was done quickly for a myriad of reasons. the first and foremost financial. Money concerns were closely followed by the ever present fire danger, too much square footage for one small woman and a fat cat, and a pinch of needing to make a new start in a place without a memory floating by in every dust mote. Moving is not suggested in the first year following such a loss as moving as well as losing a love one both rank a 10 on the stress level scale. However sometimes, such as in my case, life doesn’t offer you a Plan B.

Everyone approaches grieving the loss of a loved one in their own individual way.  A doer by nature, I allowed the sadness to have its way with me until I got up one day and found I needed to get out and feel the sun on my face. Tentatively I have reentered the world around me. In the beginning, I found a grief group that fit me to a tee. Not just a place with sad gut wrenching stories, though there were those to be told, but more a safe haven offering unconditional support with some smiles and laughter thrown in to balance the scales.  Being in a room with other people on a similar journey somehow allowed me to feel less alone. Certainly those dealing with such a loss themselves made me feel more understood, and less like I was floating along in the rapids out of control and floundering. Therapy was another tool I used to buoy myself.  For those of you going through this, having gone through it, or find yourself going through it in the future these groups and a good therapist are so beneficial in helping you find your way through the pain associated with having your life rearranged in such an upending and unrelenting fashion.

So many things I’ve learned as one month faded into the next. You have to face the hurt and sadness full on and move through it. Avoiding it will only allow it to show up perhaps more intensely later on along the way. Friends and family are essential, or were for me. If you don’t have any, find a group and make some. Reaching out when the fear, anger and sadness showed up saved me on days when I felt as though I couldn’t take it anymore.

Eating and hydrating even when the thought of doing either makes you want to hang your head over the toilet is another essential piece of the puzzle. If, like in my case, you were a caregiver the same body which gave you license to push it far beyond normal parameters to take care of someone very ill, will now call in the loan if you don’t return the favor for yourself.

I share this post because someone at one point made the comment “every marriage ends one of two ways, death or divorce”. This means many of us who have chosen to take a chance on love will deal with loss. Many times I have questioned whether it is worse to go first or be the one left behind.

Grief comes in many forms and can manifest itself in many ways beyond human loss. Loss of a job, a beloved home, or loss of financial security, for example, all create a recipe for experiencing the symptoms of grief. As my counselor will say, “grief carves you out” leaving room for you to fill the hole remaining with new experiences. Sometimes I actually feel as if I have shed my skin becoming an entirely different being since that day last September. Who this being is is still blurry in my minds eye but every day I do the work to help her show up and make herself known.

So I begin to find myself again among the ashes of my previous life. A blank book on which chapters are to be written and pages filled with new words and images. At first there won’t be recipes because I’m not cooking a lot but I’m sure the stove will beckon me one of these days soon when my footing feels a little stronger.

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: