Posts Tagged ‘grief’

Well, we asked for rain, and boy are we getting it. Buckets full of never ending precipitation keep falling from the sky. My, oh my. Intellectually, I know this is exactly what our parched trees and dry fields need. However, trying to get things done in all this water when you add strong winds to the equation, can make for a hot mess getting around. I’m sure people in colder climates looking out their windows right now onto huge banks of snow are simply rolling their eyes and going, “ya right”.

The problem lies in that the storms are arriving in succession. Like soldiers stacked up in the queque at mess call, one falls in line right behind the other. With no time to regroup in between, our fire ravaged hillsides begin to give way, rivers overflow, and roads flood. Next, the soggy ground allows tree limbs to slip loose causing downed power lines or damaging homes, and often electricity becomes spotty. Since it is Saturday and I am working, I am tucked away most of the day with no need to go anywhere. Yay.

I woke up around 2:00 night before last to the sounds of Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, emptying the contents of her puddy cat tummy onto the pillow next to me. I assure that sound is not particularly welcome any time of the day, but in the wee hours of the morning it’s even less palatable. Poor Boo. So, I got up and washed her little cat face, then stripped the bed. New sheets in place, and the crisis seemingly over, both of us crawled back in under the covers and went back to sleep. Yesterday before I headed to work, I dropped her off at the vets for a quick once over to make sure everything was in working order. Her senior status, requires looking a little more closely when something seems off. I worry we will have to say goodbye some day, and part of my heart will simply be broken. The vet called me report that other than being a bit portly (rather rude, if true), and having a bit of tartar around her teeth, the cat seems in great shape for the most part. That being said, her kidneys are beginning a slow downhill slide. Apparently, this is quite common in older cats such as Miss Boo, and takes several years often to progress to the end stages of the disease. When I picked Boo up after work the bill came to nearly $500.00. After that news, I too needed medical attention. I knew it would be high. Well, I knew it would be high, largely because it is never low when you take an animal to the vet. Before proceeding, the receptionist had called to confirm I was comfortable with the price for the procedures needed, a urinalysis and blood panel, which she said added up to around $350.00. Well, I’ve got to be honest, I wouldn’t say comfortable would have been the word I’d have chosen. $50 is more my comfortable range. What are you going to do? Ah well, for Boo, the sky, apparently, is the limit. I got to wondering after I hung up, how they perform a urinalysis on a feline. Certainly they don’t hand her a little plastic cup and point her in the direction of the ladies room. I decided some information naturally falls under the TMI category. So, I am feeling a bit melancholy this morning on this gloomy day. Thinking back seventeen years, I consider myself blessed that little white paw reached out and stopped me that day in the animal shelter. Looking in the cage at those two scared beautiful blue eyes staring back at me, I said without hesitation, “I’ll take this one”, and never regretted the decision for one minute. I know how lucky I am to have shared space with Boo all these years, but the very thought of letting her go makes my heart shed a tear. The only way I know how to proceed with dignity for both of us, is to enjoy her as much as I can for the time that we have left and that is all I know how to do.

In a way it was literally raining cats and dogs over the holidays. A friend of mine got a furry gift for Christmas on a cold blustery day in December. She opened her back door to let her white German shepherd out to enjoy his usual morning pottie break. The dog got immediately agitated when the door opened and began to circle excitedly. Looking down to see what had caught his attention she saw a small orange and white tabby kitten curled up on her doormat wet and shivering in the cold. In a way, this small bundle fell right in with something the family had decided to move forward on prior to the holidays. They have a dog and cat in residence, but the cat was getting quite long in the tooth and they felt they wanted to add a kitten to their brood. Perhaps Santa had actually tuned in to their conversation, and here was the answer to their request. Gathering the little animal up in her arms, my friend brought him inside and dried him off. Once he was more comfortable, he enthusiastically lapped up a saucer of milk and then curled up by the fireplace as if he owned the place. Doing her due diligence, my friend placed ads on all her social media sites with a picture of their new boarder asking if his owner was looking for him. No responses forthcoming, “Dasher” has now become the smallest member of their pet family. I guess they’ll have to add another cat to the little caricatures they have decorating the tailgate window on their SUV. One image for every member of the family. Everybody seems to do that now. Yesterday I saw a window with about ten little figures draped across the back including what looked to be a grandma and grandpa on one end. Must have mother-in-law quarters at their house. Interesting, they don’t often call them in-law quarters, almost always deferring to mother-in-law. Women aren’t the only people to lose spouses, though they do seem statistically to survive longer than their male counterparts.

When looking at Boo’s head hung over the other night, my heart immediately transported itself back to losses in the recent years. For a moment I was held in the firm grip of the pain losing someone or something you love brings to the table. It also reminded me how many steps forward I have taken on my quest to find myself again. You never emerge on the other side of grief quite the same person as you were when you began your journey. Each phase you complete along the way, eases you into the one to follow. I liken it to a final in school. You have to complete each chapter in the book in order to know all the answers on the quiz. The pain must be felt, the loss duly noted, before you can go on to the next part of your life. You cannot love without understanding there is loss associated with the doing of it. People and pets are only on loan to us for the time we are allotted to spend with them. The joy they bring us, and the heartache when they are gone, are all part of the process of genuinely caring for someone or something beyond ourselves. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. For me, it is well worth the price of admission.

I recently met a lady in a new inner circle of people I have been associating with, who is a published writer. With seven books out on the market, she had a lot of valuable information to share with me. Sitting in her tidy office with bookshelves on either side of me lined mainly with titles she had created, I found myself a bit star struck. Always in the back of my mind, a book has lingered. Friends have encouraged me along the way to actually do something of a more substantial writing endeavor beyond the vignettes I pump out here and there on my blog. I have several half completed manuscripts gathering dust in my closet, but somehow taking them over the finish line seems such a daunting endeavor. The woman asked me, “what have you got to lose”? I really Couldn’t think of a good comeback for that statement. What do I have to lose? My grandmother used to to say to me, “the only thing worse than failing, is never trying in the first place”. There’s a great deal of merit to that statement.

At any rate, we have a new year stretching before us. For whatever reason, I feel this year brings with it much magic and promise. That theme, at least, keeps resonating in my mind. Perhaps it is time to take a few chances and step off the ledge. Who knows what is ahead, but how exciting to imagine what might be.

Happy Saturday to you. If you’re in California keep that umbrella handy and stay dry.

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I have to say, this has been the most miraculous week, and it’s only Wednesday!! First, as I wrote in my previous blog, I had a glorious day with a friend where I saw a mother hummingbird sitting on her tiny nest. This was a first in my life. At my age, there are less and less firsts, and many, many, more thirds, fourths, and fifths. So, in my world, a first was much cause for celebration. The sight of the small little creature huddled atop her eggs had the most incredible uplifting effect my soul.

Then Monday, I went for a walk at a local park with a friend of mine, an avid nature lover. Going for a walk with Barbara, which I do every Monday, is always an experience. Barbara stops to talk to every squirrel, each tiny bursting bud on a limb, butterflies, and passing bees. Truth be known, she’s a bit of a squirrel herself, but a very lovable one of the kindest variety. I am not telling tales out of school here. She would describe herself in such a way was she seated at the keyboard banging on the keys instead of me. Sometimes I’ll catch a passerby eying her with curiosity while she bends over a daisy to greet it for the day. Never bothers me. I have enough life experience behind me now, not to give much weight to what other people think about my behavior, or the behavior of my friends. It is most important to be true to who you are, and as long as who you are isn’t hurting anyone or anything, what possible difference does it make? Personally, I like my friends to possess a few wrinkles and kinks. Certainly, I have plenty of my own to go around, so why would I want to stand out in a group of Persian cats as the only alley cat? Hanging out with people who have no issues, to me at least, would be like reading a book without a plot.

After our walk, we stopped to have a light brunch el fresco at a lovely little farm/restaurant in the country. Spring flowers were in bloom everywhere around us. Brunch was an omelet piled high with fresh ingredients, accompanied by a side of house made bread with apricot/raspberry jam. Yum, and double yum. There are times when I find myself filled to the brim with gratefulness for my life, and this week is definitely one of those times.

Driving home after eating, I remembered I wanted to stop by a shoe store located in the downtown area. Barbara and I had discussed this previously. She said she had been there and new exactly where the shop could be found. My podiatrist has been after me for some time to get some good walking shoes. Most days I walk about forty minutes. The shoes I have been wearing, though a well known brand, apparently don’t offer my feet enough support. I have kept these shoes for longer than I normally would for several reasons. The first, Rick bought them for me, and they hold sentimental value. Secondly, they are well broken in and don’t pinch or poke me anywhere. However comfortable and well loved, they are causing sores on the bottom of my feet which is affecting my alignment from my toes to the top of my neck. Amazing how one part of you being out of whack can impact so many other areas on your body. But, I digress. Locating the store, and a coveted downtown parking spot, we walked up the main drag. Our town is small and quaint. A lot of the buildings are the original structures with upgrades and refacing to bring them into this century. The shoe shop was in the middle of the block, the door open. Yay.

On the left hand wall as you walked in, shoes of all kinds were on display. The sales woman emerged from the back room and after introductions, we discussed the reason for my visit. Asking me to remove my shoes, she explained she would have to examine my feet and see how I walked before recommending an appropriate shoe. Oh-oh. I don’t air my feet too often. During the summer months, I have regular pedicures to pretty them up, but modeling agencies are never going to court me as a likely candidate for foot modeling gigs. Rick used to say, “Put some socks on those ughs. You are scaring small children.” He was kidding, of course, but somehow I sensed there might be some underlying truth to the statement. At any rate, socks in place, I walked back and forth across the store. After watching how my feet hit the ground, she proclaimed I had high arches and one foot bigger than the other. Good news. I had looked at the shoes on the wall without my glasses when I came in. To me it looked like they ranged from $50-$80, which seemed doable. I am on a budget of sorts lately, so working on keeping my expenses down.

The saleswoman went back to get several shoes in my size, and while she was gone a woman with a friend came in and sat down. While waiting, we all struck up a casual conversation. Looking at her I would have guessed her to be in her fifties, though she told us later she was sixty-one. As there was only one employee in the store, the woman waited her turn, while I tried on the shoes placed in front of me. I told the lady fitting my feet about Rick giving me my shoes, and that he had passed away and so they meant something to me. Deciding on a pair, when she quoted me a price, I realized what I had taken to be a dollar sign in front of the $50-$80 without my glasses, was actually a “1”. Ouch. $180 for a pair of walking shoes would be stretching my budget far and beyond what I’d planned. Not wanting to charge them, I asked her to hold them until the following day and I would get cash out of my savings account to cover them. Done and done. Before leaving the store I had already decided the shoes were too pricey for me this month, apologizing to my feet. My wounded piggies would simply have to deal. As we were leaving, the saleslady handed me the box with the shoes in it. Confused, I began to explain this would have to wait until the next day, or possibly never. The other customer, Elvera, I would come to find out, came up and hugged me and said “I bought them for you”. “What”? Seriously, “What”? Immediately I handed them back. Elvera handed them again to me, saying this was to be her gift as well as mine. Not knowing how else to respond and feeling totally overwhelmed, I started to cry. What else can you do when faced with such unexpected kindness? She asked that I not ruin the gift for either of us by not accepting them, but to pay it forward down the road. I promised I would. Wow and double wow. My angels are always out there. Learning how to receive is equally as important as learning how to give. It is not a pill I easily swallow. I tell you all this so that it gives you hope. The world is a bit of a hodge podge upside down mess right now, and we need light to penetrate the dark corners. It emphasizes to my mind that nice people with good intentions pass us every minute of the day and reinforces the belief when you are down or sad, a hand, a friend or a strangers, will reach out to touch you. This is not about the shoes. Rather, it is about an experience I will forever carry with me. Somewhere in my life, when the situation arises, I will pass on Elvera’s kindness to someone else who needs a lift. With these shoes on my feet gifted by a stranger with love, I will continue on my way in my journey wherever it leads me now. Lovely.

Life is defined by it’s surprises, both the good surprises and the bad. The grief group I have been attending will host a goodbye party in two weeks. Another chapter will close, with a new one beginning. The friends I’ve made there will remain, and the stories we shared will be held by the group attending. Grief is a process I have gone through and will most likely continue to work my way through, but it does not define me. My feet, with my new walking shoes, are ready to take me in new directions, and explore new unknowns.

Remember how much a small act of kindness can impact another human being. Offering someone with two items behind you when you have a full cart a bump up in line, opening a door, smiling as you pass a homeless person pushing a cart. Each act you do ripples across the universe. Happy Wednesday.

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Here I am! It’s been a most welcome rain laden week here in the bone dry foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. How glorious to see water cascading down my windows and to watch the plants and trees lift up their heads to respond to a good dowsing of spring precipitation.

On the subject of plants, flowers, plants and cards keep arriving on behalf of my mother’s passing. My spare bedroom is beginning to look a bit like a florist shop. Recently, I came home to find the largest orchid I’ve ever seen waiting for me on my front porch. The stem nearly eclipsed my front door. If orchids could have an expression, this one would have worn one when it saw me that said, “Oh, no!!!! It’s her.” Had it legs, it would have bolted down the street and disappeared around the corner. The word is out, I do not have good luck with orchids. The last one barely made it a month before I held a small ceremony for it over the trash can to wish it well on it’s last journey. I’ve tried ice cubes, less water, more water, gentle pleading, and still watch in sadness as the lovely petals float to the ground one at a time until there are none remaining. Dum, du, dum, dum, dummmm.

I also have four large outdoor plants sent by family and friends to plant in mother’s honor. I am trying to decide where to plant these. My roots don’t grow very deep these days. I’ve lived in my current home for nearly three years, but with the cost of living going up I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to sustain remaining here. As I’ve said, I need to generate some income, so that is on the agenda front and center as soon as I return from a short vacation already planned for May. Planting them here, would be mean leaving them here. The people who sent them each included a wish they be put in the soil either where I am, or family is, to remind us of our missing piece. Hmmmm. For now, I will leave them in their respective pots until I’ve figured out my plan for the future, and concentrate on not offing the absolutely gorgeous unsuspecting orchid sitting on my window sill.

Yesterday, I went on a local art tour with a friend of mine. The weather after the recent rain, was glorious, with temperatures ranging in the mid eighties. Overhead, the sky was the most brilliant blue, only to be interrupted when white billowy clouds floated by from time to time. The tour involved twelve artists, each inviting the public into their galleries and studios to view, and purchase, if desired, their artwork. Wow. When you see artisans so truly dedicated to their craft it is humbling. Made me immediately want to come home and take out my sketch books. Boy, I was definitely suffering from “studio envy”. These established artists had large well lit spaces to create their work. Decided I need to manifest that in my own life. As I say often, you can’t sit around waiting for life to happen to you, you have to get out there and make it happen for you. How, well that’s another story, yes?

Along with finding the studios impressive, and the artwork created there, the houses we visited were quite beautiful as well. The first, was a huge structure, with an massive back yard. The artist was from Japan, and the yard clearly reflected his cultural background. Gorgeous metal fountains, each different than the next, lent a zenlike feeling to the area. Impressive arrays of colorful flowers sprung up from the beds by the fence and a long vegetable garden dominated the right side of the property. In one corner, perhaps my favorite part of the day, the artist directed us to a huge bush. On one branch, towards the back, rested a diminutive nest. Tucked inside was the tiniest of hummingbirds. We were told she was sitting on several eggs waiting to be hatched. Nature, as always, of all things in life, has the power to move me beyond explanation. So tiny was this little mum, and though big human faces were looming in at her from outside her hiding place, she remained fast on her perch guarding her little ones. So sweet that was.

Around noon, we discovered a French restaurant neither of us had frequented. Passing it, we were drawn in by the exterior which was reminiscent of a structure you might find along a Paris street. Lunch on their patio was creamy eggs Benedict eaten under the abundant shade of the huge trees. Beyond the cement, were lavender bushes in full bloom, and music played in the background. All in all, it made for one of the better parts of a nearly perfect day.

At the last stop we made, we discovered a park adjacent to it where they had zip lining. The zippers, if you will, repelled across what used to be an operating rock quarry. I definitely have this penciled in for my future, the when and where still left to be determined. For me, careening across the treeline of the Amazon would be the ideal backdrop, but I don’t see that happening in either the near or the distant future in my world. I did take steps in my traveling hopes this past week, by actually filling out the paperwork to get my passport renewed. Where I’m going I don’t know yet, but wherever the wind blows me, I will have my paperwork in order to be able to get there. Check and check.

So, I am off to church with a friend this Sunday morning. A little chicken soup for the soul. My mind is open to all ways of looking at this world, unless harmful or malignant. I try to take a ladle from this pot, and then a ladle from that. Let’s face it, no one really knows the universe’s most well kept secrets up until this point, so who’s beliefs are right and who’s are wrong is still open for discussion. To my mind, if what you believe works in your life and doesn’t hurt others, then it is right for you. Thankfully, in this country, each of us is granted the option to follow our own logic and way of thinking. No one has the right to declare themselves the only one with all the answers as of this writing as far at least as I am aware.

Have a blessed day. Dance with the butterflies and smell the delicate fragrances spring has in her bag for you on this lovely Sunday. Kiss a frog, make a friend, be open to all that is wild and beautiful. When we are surrounded with so much unrest sometimes, we must find peace within ourselves.

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I am mucking about in my life at the moment. At times it feels like I am sloshing through a vat of deep, sticky goo. My feet are cumbersome and heavy as I try to drag them out of one tight spot, only to find I’ve stepped into another. This is a temporary state of mind. I am not, by nature, a being who stays down long, but for this moment this is where I seem to find myself. I have taken my costume with the large red “S” emblazoned on the front to the dry cleaners. I feel I may need it over the next few months and want to make sure it is cleaned and pressed.

Doors close throughout our lifetimes, allowing room for other doors to open. Like a snake lying in the warm sun, I slowly slither out of the old me, allowing the new me to emerge and flourish. What the transformation looks like, I have no single idea. It could be I will move, or it could be I will not. If I stay here, I will have to supplement my income as I planned for two years in this house in my budget to get situated, and I’ve already exceeded that by another six months. Ach, that will mean a part-time job. I was considering pet sitting. I am not very big as a human, so it would have to be small pets. When I first moved up to my house in the mountains, I volunteered at the local pet rescue to be a dog walker. When I arrived at the facility the first day, the owner said after seeing me, “this isn’t going to work”. Apparently they had a lot of large breed dogs, including pit bulls, and she felt they might view me as an afternoon snack. So, for two years I worked with the abandoned and lost kitties. Loved it. I could go back to office work, although I’d rather gnaw off my own foot. I know, I could try neurosurgery! Haven’t tried that as yet. The dust has not settled since my mother’s death, or even begun to fall gently to the ground. I guess the urge to do something is stronger than to simply sit here and feel the pain of her loss.

There could be a mate in my future, or perhaps I will walk alone? This, as with so many things, remains unseen behind filmy gauzy veils waiting to be revealed. Hopefully, I will find someone to walk next to me again. By nature, I’m a bit of a nester. I enjoy having someone to share my day with, or fuss over from time to time. There is another side of me which also enjoys my alone time, so should I find someone interested in me that I’m interested in, there’s that. There is movement in the wind sending vibrations to my soul that someone is coming. Will be interesting to see where I find myself a year from now. It is best to relax into the journey and not sweat the outcome, or so I believe.

The rain is coming down heavily outside. Easter is tomorrow. My children are gathering together with theirs and me to celebrate today. I am cooking. This is the source of great angst for me right now, because I have to admit I’m out of the habit of standing at the stove. I’m hoping it’s like falling off a horse. I will just hop back on it’s back and lope off down the trail without missing a beat. I decided to do old staples of mine like twice baked potatoes and garlic bread. Both are hard to mess up, although with my track record of late, I can probably make it happen. I cleaned my house yesterday from top to bottom. Rick used to think that such a ridiculous ritual. “You clean the house”, he would say, “so people can come over and completely mess it up”. “Yep, that’s the plan”. Good, bad, or indifferent that’s how I was raised and that is what I do.

I did make the twice baked potatoes yesterday in between dusting and vacuuming, because they are the most labor intensive. The rest of it, I left until this morning. Easy peasey. Nothing in this house ever goes wrong unless it’s a weekend or a holiday. I woke up early, which is also what I do. If I sleep past five I run an ad in the paper celebrating my recent success. After coffee and a bowl of cereal, I caught up on a bit of news and made my way into the kitchen. Placing the bags of Brussels sprouts on my counter I needed to trim and cook, I was thinking to myself I’d actually made it this far without a misstep, and was feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing. Deciding I would wash my hair first to get it out of the way, I opened the cupboards under the kitchen sink to retrieve my shampoo and conditioner. To save me time, the two containers and half of the rest of the contents of the lower cupboard floated out onto the floor on their own. Very handy, if there wasn’t now water everywhere all over my clean floor. “Ah, Murphy, you sly old puss, you let me get a false sense of security this time before doing your worst.” Picking up my phone, I texted my landlord. Thankfully, he is the nicest of humans and lives directly across the street. Telling me he’d arrive in fifteen minutes, I was instructed to get everything out from under the sink and put towels down. Done and done. Getting in my grateful mode, which sometimes takes a lot of energy, I said aloud I was thankful he was home on a holiday weekend and could get here to take a look at the pipes. Otherwise, it would have been In n Out cheeseburgers for all, which was beginning to sound better and better with each tick of the clock. If I had no water, then no dishwasher, or ice tea or dinner. Grateful, grateful, grateful, that’s me.

So, turns out two pipes had completely disconnected. It was a twenty minute fix, and I am up and running again. If this is the worst thing I have to deal with in my life, I will be A-OK. This will be our first holiday without our matriarch. That her death was not unexpected, doesn’t make it any less of a loss. She was so significant to our family, and will be sorely missed by each and every one of us. Today we will tell funny stories of her, as she provided us with scrapbooks full of material, and remember how without her none of us would be seated around my table celebrating Easter. It is a time of thankfulness and family, of loss, sacrifice, and rebirth. I hope it finds all of you seated around a table with loved ones, or hiding Easter eggs in your yards, or kissing your babies or theirs. Remember to say what you feel in your heart to your loved ones every opportunity you get. Life is serendipitous and you never know when you won’t have the chance to say it the next time. Also, remember to be kind to yourself. We humans are often our own worse critics.

Looking at my life now, I realize how very much I’ve changed over the past four years. Change is part of life and certainly I am not unfamiliar with it, but I mean I’ve changed in deep and profound ways my entire essence. Where I used to love to cook and putz around the house, these days I prefer being outside under the trees or walking along a mountain path next to a stream. I will begin the process of remolding myself once again as I step over this hurdle as well, and most likely not recognize myself by the time I reach the end of my journey.

Happy Easter to you and yours!!

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I sat quietly in my mother’s room, a bit player in a lonely vigil as her life began to wind down. I was there to bear witness to her releasing the last of her connections to this consciousness, and help send her on her way to her next destination. To me, it felt as though she was inside the basket of a huge hot air balloon hovering above the ground, with only one rope remaining attached. Once that rope was freed, she could soar unencumbered up, up, up into the sky until she finally disappeared into the clouds.

”What is she thinking”, I wondered, as a thought appeared to scroll across her lovely face? Is she afraid, or is she open to discovering the mysteries lying beyond what we mere mortals are given to understand?”

Her skin, though having shielded her body for nearly a century, remained smooth, still tinted with a natural rosy hue further accentuating her now very prominent cheekbones. I kept watch on the slow rise and fall of her chest, finding myself on high alert waiting for the next breath of air to be drawn into her lungs.

I whispered in her ear my thanks and gratitude for loving me unwaveringly, even when I was displaying the less lovable facets of my personality. I thanked her for being my biggest fan in whatever I attempted to accomplish, and for the happiness shining in her face every time she saw mine.

We had a good run she and I. Mother and daughter can often be such a convoluted relationship, fraught with potholes and often more challenging than traversing a minefield. It hasn’t always easy between us. We lived together as adults twice, The first time was for three months, and the second for six. At the end of the six month period, I left and found my own space because I knew if I did not, our relationship would be damaged and it meant more to me than having a less expensive place to hang my hat.

Though we looked much alike, we were, at the root of us, very different beings. My mother slow and methodical by nature, where I live in hyper drive, taking a more shotgun approach to my world. She was ever the fashion plate from the top of her well coiffed head to the tips to her well appointed shoes. For me, it has forever been jeans and tee shirt. So unalike were we, I used to tease her that when she was leaving the hospital with me, the nurses had handed her the wrong baby. In spite of our differences, we came together seamlessly, finding a way to mend our fences and stand on common ground. Loving to laugh was a trait we shared equally and did together often.

It has been a long slow process saying goodbye to my mother. Dementia stole her from us a piece at a time. Her essence remained, however, and will continue to remain long after her body is cremated and her ashes scattered across the waves. Her essence will remain in all the smiling photos held fast by magnets on family refrigerators, or in pages of endless albums filled with shots of her holding my children and theirs, but most of all, it will remain in the hearts of the people she touched. She was Mum, Grandma Mary, Grammy Mary, Great Grandma Mary, to the youngest of our clan, and Aunt Mary, but most of all she was a grand old broad, who lived her life on her terms, loved a bit of mischief, and was always there for those of us who loved her so.

My mother passed away at 6:30 yesterday morning. My world seems much more empty as I write those words. Some people believe we choose our parents before coming into this world. If that is true, I chose well.

Fly free my dear little mama. leave the much detested wheelchair and achy old bones behind, and feel the wind beneath your wings. I will be the vessel for your story, and see you again at the bend in the road, where we will again turn and walk hand and hand together. Please have a can of salt and vinegar Pringles waiting for me. I love you unabashedly, your one and only chick.

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Along with the entire world feeling a bit like a shoe that doesn’t fit these days, the weather here in Northern California has been totally unpredictable. A week ago I was running about in shorts and flip flops and today I have on a sweater, boots and a puffer coat. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind when swapping my winter clothes for lighter weight summer ones to hold out a few sweaters “just in case”. Day before yesterday we were treated to actual rain. I know! I was sure it would really rain because I washed my car the day before. Maybe if I washed my car more often, our rain buckets would look more abundant?

Sunday night I sat down after a very busy weekend to relax and watch the Oscars. “Not so fast”, Susie. I’m watching as Chris Rock takes the stage as a presenter. For those of you unfamiliar with what happened next (if you are I will have to assume you live in either a cave in Tibet or an underground bomb shelter), the comedian told a poorly chosen joke at the expense of Jada Pinkett Smith, poking fun at her hair loss. Smith suffers from alopecia and has shaved her head. Seeing the uncomfortable expression on his wife’s face, Will Smith suddenly launched out of his seat. Smith made his way with determination to the stage and proceeded to to knock the molars out of Rock’s mouth, figuratively not literally. Returning to his seat, Smith then treated the audience present and at home to a string of expletives while a stunned Rock was still trying to compose himself on stage. What was that all about one asks? I thought at first this was all staged, but noooooo. Aggressive males seeming to taking center stage all over the planet right now. Perhaps we need to begin to look at the possibility there is too much testosterone floating about in the atmosphere with all the other pollutants? I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m pretty sure jarring someone’s teeth loose is not the optimum solution. Just sayin. Please don’t misunderstand me, I think there’s plenty of blame to go around. I don’t find anything amusing about making fun of someone going through a health issue. However, comedians have been telling mean spirited jokes for years. I remember going to see Don Rickles in Reno once. He could slice through a steel bar with his tongue. My husband wanted to sit at the front by the stage, but I vetoed that whole program. Personally, I don’t find humor that demeans other people funny, but that’s personally.

When my kids were young, I used to tell them to be careful with their words. Words, to my mind, are the most powerful tools we humans have in our arsenals. Well chosen words can wound often far deeper than the sharpest of swords. Once they have been said, though an apology can be offered, they are never truly erased.

Moving on to other subjects, this week is absolutely flying past me. I can’t seem to catch up. Don’t know if it’s the recent time change, or my life has simply gotten busier of late, but everything feels a bit chaotic. Last night I was in the middle of a particularly unsettling dream when a friend called at the most climatic moment. Why is it when you are woken up from a dream a fog settles over you for the rest of the day? Well, perhaps it’s only when I’m woken up from a dream. In my weekly grief group this morning I was so groggy my head kept flopping from side to side like a recently caught catfish lying on the bottom of the boat. For a moment I was afraid I was going to fall asleep and face plant on the desk in the middle of the presentation.

Being in a group of like minded individuals, or in this case other human beings sharing a common thread, has for me been the bridge to allow me to cross over to the other side in my grief process. Having two men die in a row of the same disease within a four year period has been a large pill to swallow. One thing I will say is, going through the first experience, provided me with a lot of tools which I have used to traverse the second more easily, or at least understand the process better. I feel at last as if I’ve stepped out from beneath the shadow of a massive tree, and can feel the sun shining fully on my face. Now that I am standing in the clearing with nothing before me but space, I must determine what to fill that space with going forward.

Life is such a curious experience, I think, having added some notches to my belt at this stage of the game. It’s not a place where you can really sit down, put up your feet, lean your head back and ever totally relax. It always seems it is at the time I assume that posture, something seems to show up that has me back up and standing on my feet again.

I had lunch today with a gentleman interested in having lunch with me. When he asked to get together, I thought “why not”. I’m not sure what adventures the next few years will promise, but I am open to looking at new faces and learning more about them, or exploring the possibilities of what or who is out there. I found when driving into the restaurant parking lot, I had a flutter (the collective name for a group of them) of butterflies doing a samba in my digestive track. I haven’t “dated”, if you will, since I met Rick in 2000. Things have changed. I have changed. The walk to the front door was dominated by a conversation being engaged in between my head and my feet, with my head telling my feet to continue walking in the direction they were headed and not to turn and run the length of the parking back to my car. When I walked inside and saw him seated on a bench, my mind began screaming at me “run, save yourself”. In spite of the incessant nagging going on between my ears, I managed to say hello. The hostess greeted us, and led us to a booth towards the back of the room. Handing us each a menu and asking about drinks, we were then left to our own devices. After getting the initial “weather updates and how are you’s” out of the way, we began the age old ritual of getting to know one another. He talked about himself, I commented. I talked about myself, he commented. I looked at him over the rims of my glasses, and he, in turn, looked at me over his.

I ordered lunch, because that was, after all, why we were there. I had decided I wasn’t going to be anything but who I am, and who I am likes to eat. After a few moments of awkward conversation the food arrived. As we began to eat and talk, we also began to relax. The time passed easily between us and before long I found I was enjoying myself. When our time together had ended, we agreed it would be nice to get together again. Whether this happens or not remains hidden around the bend, but if it does, I believe I will look forward to looking at him over my glasses once again and learning more of his story.

Anyhow, new beginnings. This does not mean the people left behind aren’t carried with me, but only that I am making room for new experiences and saying yes to new possibilities.

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This past weekend had some sad notes in it, along with some really melodious ones. Watching my mother’s decline is a difficult vigil. This month she will add another candle to her cake, and those of us who treasure her, are happy to be celebrating the momentous event with her. Each day, each visit, becomes more precious as the hours tick by on the clock. I try to imprint sounds, touches, and memories into my mental scrap book to pull up somewhere when I no longer have her with me. Enjoying a nice visit with her on Saturday, I came home feeling a bit melancholy. Dale has been gone since late October, and I’m still settling into the rythms of my new life without him. Some days are more difficult than others. I stopped on the way home to browse through Home Goods, my happy place. I didn’t need anything in particular. Sometimes, I just like looking at all the beautiful things on their shelves. Usually, I manage to find a little something something I didn’t really need.

While at my mother’s I placed an order for some supplies needed for her care to be delivered from Costco to her residence. Costco is about five miles from where she lives and about thirty from where I do. Instacart will deliver from the store without a membership card. I let mine lapse this year. I love shopping at the big box store but I end up tossing half of what I buy because everything is packaged in such large quantities. Continuing my unbroken string of stupid is as stupid does activities, I arrived home about three hours later to find my mother’s Costco order waiting for me on my doorstep. Seems someone forgot to change the delivery address when placing the order. This means another trip back to my mother’s to deliver the goodies. Sigh.

Opening the door at my house and gathering my mother’s order, I found Boo, the Queen of Cats, lurking behind the door wearing her “where have you been” face. The cat has a strict internal clock, and when I miss the treat deadline for the afternoon the retribution is swift and mighty. First, she gives me the stink eye oozing with disdain, and then she sits with her back facing me until the treats are dispensed. Cats, as they say, be crazy, or do they make us think we are? Words to think about.

As much as I enjoy a good day in the stores, retail therapy isn’t the best choice for filling the void after someone passes away. However, shopping is something I enjoy, and sometimes Susie’s just gotta do it. Truth is, I was trained by the best. My mother, when able, was a consummate shopper. Can’t tell you how many times growing up, my closet floor was lined with bags from well known retail merchants waiting to be integrated into the household. The integration process was always done with the utmost stealth, so as not to alert my stepfather any new additions had been taken on board. When he spotted her wearing an outfit he didn’t recognize, I can still hear him saying, “Mary, is that dress new”? Mother, naturally pretending to be highly affronted by the inference, would reply “I can’t believe you’re asking me that. I wore it to Patty’s party on Saturday night”! Was I in the room, I would get the wink telling me to keep my usually loose lips sealed, and the game was afoot. My stepfather, not wishing to be accused of not being properly attentive to his wife, would then nod as if having a sudden clear recollection of the event in question and mother in the dress. He would then say, “oh yes, very nice”. Uh-huh. I believe these days this practice is referred to as “gaslighting”. Basically, it is when you make another person think they are crazy for imagining things actually going on. Mother really got in on the ground floor on that one.

Also, on the way home, I stopped at several stores in search of a pair of black pants or possibly a dress. My wardrobe has dwindled down to jeans and shorts. Sunday, I had plans to go to the symphony with a friend, and neither were going to be appropriate for the occasion. I had gone to listen to the same symphony a month ago and noticed people were a little more conservatively dressed than is the norm for this area. That being said, I felt I’d better step up to the occasion. When first asked if I’d be interested in going to see classical symphony, I have to admit, my instincts were to decline. Then I thought of my “why not” theme for this year. Not considering myself a fan of classical music, I was curious to see what this was all about. So glad I did. I loved, loved, loved the whole experience. After the first symphony, I found myself excited to be doing so once again. Had I not stepped outside of my own perceptions, I would have missed out on two wonderful afternoons filled with the most beautifully performed music, and hopefully more to come down the road. Yay.

Have to say, I don’t know who is designing women’s clothes of late but can’t imagine where they are drawing their ideas from. Browsing through the dresses, they seemed to break down into two categories. One would include cotton peasant style fabrics with flouncy sleeves and bibbed fronts. I call these the “Laura Ingalls Wilder Collection”. For those of you who watched Little House on the Prairie you will get the reference here. The second set, in more flowing nylon fabrics with cabbage roses dancing across the bodice or vibrant prints, I refer to as “Nana’s Parlor Collection”. One of the patterns I’m pretty sure I recognized from my piano teachers loveseat. Awful. When you are small framed such as I am, pulling one of these on makes you look like a six year old trying to pull off your mother’s clothes. I don’t think they could possibly be flattering no matter what your build.

The pants on the racks I found interesting as well. To begin with, they all seem short for some reason. I am 5′ 5″ tall, not exactly ready to be recruited by the Knicks, but every time I pull on a pair of pants lately I feel like I’m fully prepared for high water. Should the flood gates open, if wearing those pants I can continue on my way without taking on a drop of water. If they are not short, they look as if they’ve been attacked by a crazed tailor brandishing a pair of sharp scissors. My granddaughter has a pair so shredded she’d be more covered if wearing a pair of shorts. You pay more apparently for holey pants than those fully intact, and you don’t get hems on the bottom either. I came home with nothing more than I left the house with, except for a slight headache. The good news is, if they keep putting out clothes like this I’ll be in better financial shape.

This has been a hectic and most chaotic couple of weeks. The heart monitor they attached to me last week at my cardiologist’s office, as I mentioned in my previous blog fell off when I got home and had to be reattached. After being part of my body for six days and needing to be retaped, it turned out I was allergic to the super tape used to keep it in place so is now resting in a UPS return envelope waiting to be returned to the mother ship. Can’t say I’m sad to see it go. The device brought more stress with it honestly, then I need in my life right now.

So, back on track for the moment, I forge on. Hump day is upon us and we have already stepped into March. Whew. Trying hard to concentrate on the moment in time I am living. If I get too far beyond today it sometimes feels as if I’m stepping out on the ledge with nothing but empty space below me. Had to turn off the news this morning. Climate change, the Ukranian crisis, all too much to take in in one gulp.

Find your grateful space, your happy place, even if it’s browsing the shelves at Home Goods. Sometimes you simply have to feed your spirit in whatever way suits you for the moment you are in.

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Remember the good old days when you actually had a software library? You paid a one time purchase price, got a CD and Instruction Book, and had the CD until the software was either outdated or no longer useful. Remember those days? I do. Being a graphic artist, I use Adobe Illustrator nearly every day. These days, I pay a monthly fee for the usage privilege but never actually own the software. Sort of like leasing a car you never intend to buy. This could be quirky old me, and others possibly think it far more convenient. For my part, I am a fan of receiving tangible objects for my money. Take books, for example. I prefer to read actual books you can hold and turn the pages. Just me.

My first experience with Illustrator was in 2000. I was working for a start-up company in the Bay Area. The company had lured me out of my previous job with promises of much higher wages and valuable stock options once the company, supposedly on a rocket trajectory to success, went public. My shares were stored in my safety deposit box along with my dreams of trips to exotic locales, a villa in the south of France, and a glorious donation to my children’s bank accounts to remember me fondly by upon my demise. Not to be, my friends. After nearly two years of nearly making that office my home, the technology the company was developing turned out to cost more to make than they could market it for. Duh and double duh, the CEO and CFO might have figured that out prior to getting the investors on board, I’m just saying. With no IPO forthcoming, the company laid off it’s nearly 100 employees, and closed it’s doors. My ten thousand or so shares went up in smoke along with my lofty dreams of world travel, in a ceremonial fire on a local beach after downing a couple of nice bottles of chardonnay with friends. Ah well.

At any rate, nowadays, I pay a monthly premium for the “use” of Illustrator every month. Several months ago, I decided I wanted to also learn to use Indesign, another Adobe program popular with designers. I went online and added it to my list of “rental software” which also added another monthly premium. Sigh. Learning virtually isn’t always the best option for me. I found the on-line instruction confusing, and wasn’t making much forward progress in wrapping my arms around Indesign. I decided to cancel. Not so fast, Bubba, says Murphy. My first roadblock, Adobe is very difficult to reach. They do not make it easy to get to a customer service rep. When I went on line, the system informed me if I cancelled, I would be held responsible for $140 in early cancellation fees. Whoa. Sooooo, I ended up on a “chat” with a representative most likely in Mozambique or points south. Turns out, after learning I wished to cancel, he now was offering me three months free if I stayed til the end of the subscription. I said I would take that offer, on the condition he would ensure me it wouldn’t be automatically renewed. That idea didn’t even get off the ground. Apparently, it is up to me to catch the reminder email awash in the copious sea of emails I receive every day. If not, it will, in fact, renew automatically. Fine. I have noted the exact day on my calendar, and I will catch it, but the experience reminded me once again to research thoroughly what I am signing up for before I go all it. In turn, I am reminding you. That being said, I am by God going learn that program since I am dishing out the money for it. Maybe this is the universe’s way of saying, “get off your lazy behind and just do it”!

This has been a hugely busy couple of weeks. A friend came up from the Bay Area over the weekend and I took a much needed sabbatical to spend time with her. We mostly ate, shopped, went to the movies, and ate again. Oh, did I mention we ate? My next scheduled meal should be breakfast, June 8, 2023. I believe I have enough calories stored to carry me through until then. It was great. I am totally blessed with the ladies who populate my life. Many of my friends I’ve known for years, and I value them all. Each one brings something special to my table making me a very lucky girl in so many ways.

Well rather than describing myself as lucky, more accurately I would say I am blessed, for I do not consider myself a lucky person. By that, I mean I am not lucky in games, drawings, or anything really involving chance. It must be written somewhere in my chart, “Susie will work for what she wants and needs. Luck will have no part in her story”. I would like to write an addendum to that notation, to apply to my remaining time on earth. If the universe is listening, I’m totally on board with this concept. Have your people contact my people. Truthfully, if I was you and had a chance to bet on a competition I was participating in, I would definitely put my money on my opponent. I can sit at the same slot machine for three hours and never hit a jackpot. Should I get up and move to the one directly next to it, in short order someone will sit down at the same machine, pull the handle once, and every light in the place will go off. Intellectually I know it is not me, but there is a nagging thought echoing deep inside my mind yelling, “Nope, it definitely is you”. Can’t help it, sometimes I actually think that damn voice has a point.

My therapist and I are working on the timbre of my inner voice. Your “inner voice” is the little voice inside your brain proclaiming loudly when you trip over the hose in the front yard, “well, that was stupid”, or reminding you when you are trying to open someone else’s car door with your key in the grocery store parking lot, “this is not your car, genius”. You know the one. My little voice has a wicked, wicked mouth at times, and I’m trying to teach it how to speak more kindly to myself and with love. Nameste.

Therapy is a journey of discovery. Uncovering what makes you tick, can be both very rewarding, and at times endlessly tiresome. Wouldn’t it be great if you simply bought those decadent shoes you didn’t need, brought them home, and wore them and enjoyed them? If you put them on your feet without ever questioning if you bought them because you were depressed, your boyfriend left you for the barista at Starbuck’s, or the shoes simply looked more than fabulous on your feet. But, nooooooo. Instead you have to nag yourself about them, reminding yourself of the recent budget you crafted sitting in your excel folder that did not include extra funding for the lovely black heels with red soles. Then, when you wear them and a blister forms on the back of your heel, somehow that voice is snickering and gloating, telling you this is your karma for being a bad, bad girl. Not. I will not listen. Bad shoes are what keeps Johnson & Johnson bandaid division in high clover. If women didn’t insist on wearing uncomfortable poorly fitting footwear they might have to lay off thousands of employees. If you look at it that way, we’re actually performing a public service. Your welcome.

I am hoping that cooking will begin to peak my interest again soon. It makes me sad I seem to have temporarily put a “closed due to lack of interest” sign on my kitchen door, abandoning my utensils and cookware to a life of boredom and decay. I know it is just part of the grieving process, but still it is odd for me not to be chopping and humming by the kitchen sink. This too will pass I’m sure, and my pots and pans will once again come out of retirement. For now though, I have enough leftovers for a week, so “good on you” I say.

Happy Monday! Hope the week treats you well and high clover is but a field away.

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I went for my first allergy shot on Monday. Wasn’t sure what to expect. The nurse gave me three small injections, each one containing a low dose of something I’m allergic to, in this case trees, mold, and shrubs. Once the injections were done, she asked me to sit in the reception area for thirty minutes while my body looked at what they’d put inside it and decided whether or not to react to it. Goody. I sat there playing Mahjong on my IPhone feeling like a hostage with a bomb strapped to her chest waiting to see whether or not it would ignite. I am happy to report, it did not.

People in my immediate circle always have something to contribute when I tell them I’m going through some sort of medical procedure. Often these contributions are based on the worst possible, most horrific, outcome one might expect to occur. One friend told me her neck swelled up alarmingly after an allergy shot and they had to stab her leg with an Epi-pen in order to keep her from suffocating to death. Hmmmm. When I asked the nurse about this possible side effect, she shook her head saying, “very rare”. Oh God. I was hoping more for, “never happens”. I have habit of over achieving with this sort of thing so the nurse’s answer didn’t leave me completely comforted.

Another reason I wish people would keep their horror stories to themselves, is I am the most visual of people. When I was pregnant with my first child a woman, also pregnant, shared a story about a lady in England who carried around a giant growth with hair on it inside her for nine months thinking it was a baby. For the next four months until my daughter was born, I kept imagining what that scenario would look like.

I have a habit of over achieving when it comes to bodily reactions, so as I said, the nurse’s answer didn’t leave me feeling completely comforted. Thankfully, other than being a bit tired for a day or two, I survived. However, I did call in as instructed if any symptoms showed up to advise the nurse I felt wheezy and tired. She asked if I’d been gardening, to which I answered no. Then she asked if I’d taken a walk. I had asked before leaving their office if this was okay, and was told yes as long as not two hours before or two hours after the treatment. When I responded, “Yes, I did go for a walk, but three hours after the shots” she said, “you know, you could have gone into anaphylaxis”. “What”? Perhaps that should be noted in big, bold letters on the instruction sheet before submitting to the procedure? Good Lord. Sometimes the cure really can be worse than the disease.

Thankfully, aside from the horror stories from my less optimistic friends, I balanced things out with friends who are oozing positivity. One friend in particular, encourages me to always look for MBO’s, as she refers to them, an acronym for Most Benevolent Outcomes. She chooses to believe life will produce the most delicious experiences if you believe this to be so, rather than assuming the worst and battening down every day waiting for the next storm to arrive. I like that. I like it a lot. There will always be a storm, because without the dark unsettled clouds how could we appreciate the beauty of a glorious sunrise if there was nothing to compare it with? However, we needn’t always be looking for a storm on the horizon, especially if there isn’t a cloud in the sky.

Last weekend my upbeat friend and I went to Lake Tahoe for lunch. What a beautiful location Lake Tahoe is to find yourself. No matter the season, the lake always seem to say (as my mother might) “I’ve put my face on and I’m ready to receive company”. We ate at a lovely spot overlooking the beach. The company was delightful, the weather nearly perfect, and the view spectacular. Feeling the need for good old red meat, something I haven’t indulged myself in often of late, I ordered a prime rib dip which was seriously out of this world. As I’ve said before many times in my blog, the universe occasionally comes together to create near perfect moments for us to enjoy. This experience was one of them. I came home to find a beautiful Valentine’s bouquet waiting for me on my front step from my son and his family, which was to be the icing on the cake of my day.

This afternoon I am going to a gym I’m interested in joining to speak to a personal trainer. I do not want a repeat of previous gym experiences where I go in, a gym employee looking like a relative of Arnold Schwarzeneggerr instructs me for five minutes on how to use their equipment, and two weeks later I’m back in physical therapy getting rebuilt. Watching my own behavior (I hate working out), I came up with at least twenty reasons early this morning why I needed to cancel this appointment. Even though I know it will be of great benefit to me physically and emotionally, a part of me resists this mightily. There is a little voice in my brain who’s job it is to talk me out of things I don’t want to do, and today he was certainly earning his paycheck. This gym is one of those large gyms, broken up into multiple rooms each set up for various forms of human torture. What interests me in particular, are the three pools located the rear of the building. This is where the water aerobics classes take place. If I must exercise, it makes it bearable if there is water involved. On my first visit last year (notice I still haven’t done one exercise), I noticed everyone was ready for business in their work out gear. All the members were dressed in layered pieces of spandex, matching of course, with coordinated socks and work out shoes with plenty of support. I don’t suppose my leggings will the baby sloths on them and my flip flops would be well received in a high scale gym such as this. I guess a trip to the store will be in the offing if I actually sign the contract.

I’m in such an unsettled phase of my life at the moment, that all the things I normally do to keep me grounded seem to be hovering slightly beyond the tips of my fingers. Writing, drawing, cooking all seem to be just out of reach. One thing I know for certain, this is simply how I am feeling now. As with all things in this life of ours, this will shift and change for the better. As the days unfold, the unsettled will become settled, the choppy seas will give way to calm waters, and winter will relinquish the stage to the players of spring. That is the way of things. So I will settle into my unsettlement (my word not Webster’s) and allow myself to feel whatever this is I am feeling for the time being until it passes. Grief is such an individual and unpredictable phase to push through, often described by those deep in it as a roller coaster. You go up, up, up and then sometimes down, down, down. In the end, you must go through it in order to reach the other side.

I hope this finds you well and happy. I have said aloud the five things I am grateful for today so I began my day on the bright side of things. Happy Thursday!!

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I have been getting a lot of SOS signals from friends lately who have been experiencing sadness, poor attention spans, or some even feeling a bit weepy. From what I’m hearing on the news channel, this range of emotions is not limited to my circle of companions. There’s a sort of general malaise running through our society after two plus years of COVID. In my case, I have noticed in the last few months I am certainly more distracted. Friday, for example, I had an appointment at the opthamologist. The office is located in the cluster of buildings in town where most of my physicians have their practices. Arriving the allotted fifteen minutes early, I was number five in line. When it was my turn at the counter, I answered the usual barrage of COVID related questions and moved on to provide my name and DOB. Keying in my information, after a moment of staring intently at the computer screen, the desk clerk said, “You don’t seem to have an appointment today”. “That’s odd”, I said, pulling the card out the side pocket of my purse with confidence and handing it to her. After looking at the card she said, “Well you are correct, you do have an appointment today, and as you said, it is at 9:00.” “Ah Hah”, says my mind. “However, this is the dermatologist office”. Ohhhhhhh. I considered walking sideways to the door like a crab scurrying across the sand so as not to make eye contact with any of the people in the waiting room who I was sure had heard the exchange. Instead, I said, “thank you”, and took a brisk walk of shame to the front door. Thank God for masks. Wow.

At the correct office shortly thereafter, the eye doctor suggested I use a face mask morning and night on my eyes for my allergies. He went on to say I could order an appropriate mask at Amazon. Of course. You can order everything at Amazon. Need a kidney? Surely someone at Amazon has one for sale. Good news was I had been through this routine before, so had one at home I could start using right away. The mask is made of canvas material stuffed with little beads. You heat it for 25 seconds in the microwave and then apply the mask to your eyes for 5 mins. Not rocket science. I got up this morning and after significant rummaging, located the mask in a drawer. It seemed a good idea to get this procedure over with before washing my face and beginning my day. I went in the kitchen, poured a cup of much needed coffee, and placed the mask on a paper plate pushing 25 seconds on the key pad. Hearing my phone ring in the bedroom, I went off to answer it and became involved in a conversation. A foul smell suddenly filled the bedroom. Huh? Ending my call, I went into the kitchen to find the microwave counting down most likely from 25 minutes instead of 25 seconds. The material had split open like a dropped watermelon, spewing the contents out in a putrid smoking pile on the plate. Whoops. That’s not good. Once I got the smoldering mess in the sink, the smell was so pungent I began to wonder if I’d created noxious fumes, so I opened all the windows (even if it was thirty degrees outside) and turned on the fan. It took nearly an hour for the house to smell normal again. Sitting in front of my laptop I typed “Amazon” and ordered a replacement. I really do need a keeper these days.

My days have become super busy this month. I am not complaining, because I like to be busy, but they are just a tad overly busy the next few weeks even to my liking. Today my appointments were lined up like ducks in a row. The earliest one was an annual x-ray at 8:30. I arrived, checked in and sat down to wait to be called. The man next to me was probably in his late eighties. Little old men like this gentleman are cute. I know that sounds terribly sexist, most likely because it is, but sexist or not this guy was cute with a captial C. There he sat without displaying one hint of discomfort, wearing his Christmas pajama bottoms and slippers, accessorized by his jeans jacket, a fishing hat and what looked to be one of his lady’s scarves. Very nice. This is not making fun of him (well maybe just a twinkle) but more I admired him for being comfortable enough in his own body to show up without apology dressed exactly as he was. Sitting there, we shared a word or two on the usual waiting room subject, the weather. According to the weatherman on the morning news, it is to be unseasonably warm outside the rest of the week. The man sitting across from me in cargo shorts and a short sleeved tee apparently had already gotten the memo.

The temperatures are predicted to be hovering in the mid to high seventies this week. This would be truly nearly perfect weather, for June. February, not so much. California weather is for the most part ideal year round. However, with the current drought situation continuing to plague the state creating dangerous fire scenarios, seeing this kind of heat this early in the year doesn’t bode well for what’s coming our way during the summer months ahead. Another side effect is the trees, shrubs, and plants are blooming in the faux spring atmosphere and my allergies are responding. Next Monday I begin allergy shots in an attempt to pre-empt allergy season this year which usually begins in May for me. Last year I had a series of allergy test which revealed I am allergic to just about everything outside as well as inside, including Boo, the Queen of Cats. Boo is staying, so hopefully this will make spring a little easier on my nasal passages. Also, I have been on maintenance steroids for about five years and would love to wean myself off. This could make that possible. I have my fingers crossed.

When my appointment schedule had been satisfied, I came home and took out my cleaning products. I guess the spring feel in the air triggered my need to clean out closets, and move furniture and clean behind things. I spent the good part of the afternoon returning the luster to my tabletops and rediscovering my floors. Yay. Since Dale passed away I’ve sort of taken a busman’s holiday from it all. Slowly but surely, I’m taking steps towards coming back into my world again and that makes my heart happy.

Happy Thursday to you. Almost Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is a difficult day for those of us who are partnerless. The holiday is all about love, romance, and couples staring wistfully into one another’s eyes. Rather than sitting around feeling sad about the whole affair, or lack of one, I am taking an art course. It does remind me, however, of years back sitting in my office one Valentine’s Day. I was going through a very painful divorce. Love, at least for me at the time, had hit a bit of a sour note. At lunch I had to spell the receptionist so she could eat. While I sat there I was bombarded with a parade of roses, chrysanthemums, and carnations being delivered for the ladies in the office behind me. Oooohs and Ahhhhhs were the words of the day. What a miserable day that was. On the way home I stopped at the store and bought myself a lovely bouquet, a bottle of wine, and a large chocolate cake, which would end up being my dinner (the wine and the cake, not the flowers). Sometimes a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

Have a great weekend!!!

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