Posts Tagged ‘People’

Halloween items are lining the shelves of late. Yay. I do love this time of year. Being a November 1st baby is probably why I so strongly identify with this particular holiday. I missed being titled a creepy little kid by a mere five hours, some would say there was a bit of overlap. My mother, when talking about my birth, always says I was the biggest kid in the nursery. I’m sure this is an exaggeration on her part, but I have to admit, according to my birth certificate I did weigh in at 9 lbs. 9 oz., a pretty fair size for a newborn. Mother, who likes a good story, says when looking in the nursery at all the “normal” size infants, she could always pick me out of the crowd because my feet were draped over the end of the bassinete, and I was holding up a sign reading “When’s lunch”? Funny woman, my mother. In my defense, my mom gained nearly sixty pounds when pregnant. Before finding out she had an egg in the nest with me, she had a miscarriage. When she found herself expecting again, terrified of losing a second baby as well, she just stayed in and baked, eating what she produced, til I was born. There is so much in that sentence that explains my life thus far, but I’ll save that for my next therapist visit.

I often think I would like to have a baby again. If I did come up in the family way at this age, the talk show circuit would be mine to command. I had my children so very young, both arriving before my twenty-second birthday. I don’t think I fully appreciated the amazing experience I was having at the time I was living through it. Maybe I did, and don’t remember it. That would be in line with about everything else I don’t remember these days like where I put my reading glasses, and what happened to the coffee cup I was drinking out of two hours ago?

Babies are on my mind this gorgeous almost fall morning because the youngest member of our clan, Zeppelin, is about to turn three. Lately, his two favorite words are “no, not”, used in tandem, as an indicator he is an active member of the “almost three” age group. I do love little people. Engaging them allows you to stir up your childhood memories and actually act a bit childlike yourself in the process. Dinosaurs are the name of the game for Mr. Z. He wears them proudly on nearly every item of clothing he owns, small replicas fill his toy bins, and when I visit he tells me about the pterodactyls populating the trees in his back yard. National Geographic has not gotten hold of the news of this resurrection yet, so please keep it under your hat.

I haven’t written in a while because I caught a bug last week that took me down. Because Dale is compromised due to lung cancer, I had to sequester myself in the bedroom until the symptoms abated. After dealing with this bug for three days I dragged myself out of bed and went to urgent care. I wanted to eliminate a second round of Covid. Thankfully, that test came back negative. I did, however, manage to attract another virus going around locally. This one was no walk in the park either. Aside from the upper respiratory irritations it brought to the party, such as a wracking cough and perpetually running nose, every part of my body from my ear lobes to my toenails hurt. These no-see-ums can be really annoying when they take up residence in your body. Exhibiting Covidlike symptoms, I was instructed to wait outside in my car and call the desk to let them know when I had arrived, and not to enter the building. Alerting them I was there, a young woman dressed as if prepared to meet someone recently exposed to chemical warfare arrived shortly and opened the door to escort me in. The nurse had on a face mask, a face shield, a hat attached to hose, foot coverings and gloves, along with numerous other protective gear. I felt a bit like a leper being whisked off to Molokai. After determining Covid was not the villain in the piece, I was sent home to rest and drink plenty of liquids and ride out the storm til it passed. Turns out they didn’t welcome my germy self at home either, so I climbed in my bed with a cup of hot tea and instructions to remain in bed until I was symptom free, and there I have stayed. Thankfully, the cat is less discerning. She truly has been at my side since I got sick. Last night I woke up to find her sleeping around my head with one paw across my face. God bless animals they really are far the superior beings. Sigh.

Getting behind like this means a week to catch up on everything sitting around gathering dust while I was lolling about under the covers. There are bills to be paid, toilets to be cleaned, and so much general doings to be pulled together and gotten done. I feel sometimes lately like a little hamster running about on her wheel pedaling furiously and getting off after a good workout only to find myself much in the same place I was when I got started. Perhaps that is why I was so attractive to the pesky little germs in the first place, I’ve allowed myself to get run down. Self care is really important, especially if you are a caregiver for another person. Usually I am fairly good at making sure I get a few moments off to myself for a pedicure or to do some unnecessary shopping, but lately things have been moving at a fairly fast pace and I haven’t been as good about it. Perhaps this is the universe’s way of saying, “Slow down, Susie girl, and stop to smell the coffee”.

For three weeks now I’ve been waiting for a side table I ordered to arrive. The table it is replacing has been sold and the contents stored in it are now lining my floor in the dining room waiting for their new home. Every time I checked the tracking number it read “Pending – no delivery date scheduled”. Originally, it had moved nicely across the U.S. from the east coast, arriving a week and a half ago in Sparks, Nevada, about an hour and a half from where I live. I called when it was late by several days and was told to wait a couple of more days and call back. I called back in three days when it still didn’t arrive. The status remained Sparks, Nevada, “Pending – no delivery date scheduled”. After waiting on the phone in the loop of the store I ordered it from for about a half an hour, the customer service rep came on the line and, guess what, suggested I wait a couple of days and call back. Sure, I don’t have anything better to do with my life. Soooo, I called back for the third time yesterday and told them I was not going to call back again, and would like a refund. Got notice this morning my shipment was on it’s way. Hopefully, it will actually arrive today. The squeaky wheel. Smile.

I’ve had my windows open all day today with a lovely fall breeze wafting through the house. The last time I was out I was happy to notice the leaves had begun to change color on some of the trees around town and hints of fall are clearly noticeable on the hillsides. Yay. It will be time to watch “To Kill a Mockingbird” for the three thousandth time pretty soon. It is an autumn ritual for me to revisit Scout, and Atticus and Jeb. Truly Harper Lee’s novel and the movie adaptation are among my favorite haunts this time of year.

Hope this finds you well and up and out on this glorious day.

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Three times during phone calls this past week, I ended up in discussions with friends about their dealings with insensitive people. You know who they are, those people who seem perfectly at ease saying the most insensitive or inappropriate things directly to your face. I know I have experienced such exchanges, one happened just the other day. I was having a conversation with a health care worker regarding the odd synchronicity of the fact Dale is suffering from lung cancer and three years ago my significant other of twenty years, Rick, passed away from the exact same disease. To add to the common threads, Dale has the same oncologist as Rick had, and this was the nurse on staff when he was sick. Instead of offering some sort of supportive or uplifting comment one might expect from a health care provider, the woman said to me, “Boy, I wouldn’t stand in line to date you.” Really? Well guaranteed you wouldn’t be on the top of my list of candidates either. Wow.

Another friend of mine was telling me about a woman she recently attended a luncheon with. The woman was attempting to scoop salsa out of a container sitting on the table between the two of them. Since it was much closer to my friend, by way of a helpful gesture, she turned the dish around and moved it in the other woman’s direction so it would be easier for her to reach. Instead of simply saying, “thank you”, the woman said, “You know, I’m perfectly capable of managing this by myself.” Uhhhhh, you’re welcome. Perhaps there is some truth to the old saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

I had a relative relate an experience she had last week when she went into tony skincare store to take advantage of an advertised facial special. This is the kind of place where you can pick up a jar of callus cream for just under $200, you could buy at CVS in less sophisticated packaging for $14.95. Have you noticed the sales women working in these types of businesses are always impeccably pulled together? Each hair on their heads is expertly coifed, lips perfectly shaded and lined, with not one eyelash out of place. I try to avoid going into such establishments at all costs. Largely because my allergies don’t do well with the mishmash of overwhelming fragrances assaulting my nostrils once inside, but also because my K-Mart flip flops and Maybelline eye shadow might not be welcomed there. Depressing. At any rate, my friend explained to the flawless woman behind the counter the reason for her visit was the advertised facial. A well manicured finger pointed my friend towards a chair in front of a mirror where she was instructed to remain while the lady retrieved what she referred to as her “tool kit” from the other room. Shortly, the woman returned with a store apron in place, carrying a tray of armory and began an overall inspection of my friends face. As her fingers moved along her skin, she threw in a lot of “hmmmm’s” and “oh dears” for good measure. When done, she said, “Wow, your skin is so dry it’s like boot leather. I think you’d better upgrade to our complete skin care treatment rather than settling for the less aggressive treatment listed in the ad.” Was this the approach suggested in the “welcome to the company brochure”? My friend picked up her handbag, and like Elvis left the building.

Everyone seems mad at everyone else of late. Thoughtfulness, kindness, and generosity, in spite of all the anger being tossed around, should not be allowed to go out of style. Dale is really my guide in this territory. When out in public, the man has never met a person he didn’t call friend. By the time we leave a store people are calling him by name and he has engaged in conversations with half the strangers in the aisles. Always on meeting a new person he asks their name and then introduces himself to them. At first I was a little put off by this, but I have to say I have watched unfriendly, outwardly unapproachable, people warm up once he performs his magic on them. It’s a gift he has for interaction and communication that should be taught in school.

God knows, I have been known to trip over my own loose lips a time or two. There were several lessons, when it came to engaging in conversations with strangers, I learned early on. The first, never presume any female you do not know to be pregnant, ever. I recall going into a boutique store to do some shopping many years ago. A pleasant sales lady came up to greet me and welcome me to the store. After I had selected several items to try on, the woman suggested starting a fitting room for me. After carrying on a friendly exchange for several minutes, I noticed her well rounded stomach and assumed she must be pregnant. You know the old saying about assume, “makes an ass out of you and me”. I asked when the baby was due. Wrinkling her forehead in confusion she said “what baby”? I didn’t even bother to stay to try on the clothes I had picked out. Sigh.

Lesson two, if you do not know a person you are dealing with stick with the standard conversation carriers like weather or general commentary. Never assume who the players are until you have been handed a game roster. In the 1980’s I applied for, and got, a job working for the general manager of a large aluminum can manufacturer. Although I didn’t know it at the time working, Alan, my new boss, a man in his late forties, was busy entertaining a full blown mid-life crisis. I should have realized this by the flashy red sports car parked in the GM spot in the employee parking lot, the poorly crafted toupee perched precariously over the bald spot on the top of his head, the personal gym in the room behind his office, or just his general demeanor of trying to exude youth and vigor. The second week after I was hired, I was informed it was to be my job to organize the company picnic. This included locating a suitable venue, hiring a caterer, and organizing activities for the employees and their families to engage in while at the event. For some reason, all my working career I ended up being tasked with these functions. Though usually not in my job description, I never minded at all. Event planning was a lot less dry than typing memos or transcribing dictation. I’m glad it kept falling under my ubrella, because as it turned out, this background came in extremely handy when Rick and I bought the restaurant and one of the titles under my name was Catering and Event Planner. Sometimes, life guides you in the right direction, even if you don’t understand where you’re going at the time you are going there. But, I digress. As the days passed the event plans began to form up nicely. I found an available Saturday open at a local park with areas set up for large events such as ours, surrounding a huge man-made lake. After tasting samples from five or six vendors, “B.J. The Barbecue Guy” was chosen to provide ribs, chicken, and “the fixin’s”, as he referred to them, for the three hundred employees and their wives and families who had answered yes to the invitation email. Yay.

Alan, informed me he would be bringing his wife and two daughters as well as his mother-in-law, who apparently lived with them to kept an eye on things when Alan and his wife were at work. Sounded good to me. I was more concerned with B.J. providing enough potato salad for the swelling guest list or that the activities I planned were well received. When the big day arrived, I got there to early to make sure everything was going as discussed. People began arriving in droves. While I was greeting and organizing people, Alan showed up next to me with his wife and one of his girls. I introduced myself to his wife and daughter by turning to the older of the two women and extending my hand saying, “Hi, I’m Susie, you must be Alan’s wife, and then turning to the younger girl and saying, “and you must be Sarah (Alan’s oldest daughter)”. It got quiet. What? Doing I quick inspection of myself I didn’t notice anything out of order. Did I have potato salad on my sleeve? Suddenly two little girls ran up to the group, the oldest of which was coincidentally also named Sarah. Hmmmmm. Yup. The teenager in the shorts with the perfect abs was actually the Mrs. and the older lady (and by older I mean early forties) was Alan’s mother-in-law. Oh-oh. Sorry. That marriage would have been illegal in some states. I’m just saying. Having stepped up to the altar four times myself, who am I to make a judgement call when it comes to marriage choices?

One friend told me she wished when confronted with someone with no filters on their thoughts or mouth, she had said, “Do you have any idea how offensive I am finding what you just said to me?” Wouldn’t that be great? I’m guessing in practice if we all said what we were really thinking, rather than what is the PC response to say, our list of friends and acquaintances might dwindle down to the mailman and the lady behind the prescription counter, and even those two relationships might be tenuous.

I guess what I’m saying is, it is better to think before opening your mouth and saying something potentially hurtful to the recipient. Though telling the truth is a good way to live your life in most cases, perhaps in some instances it is better to keep your opinion to yourself and spare someone the benefit of your keen insight. A little kindness is never inappropriate or offensive. I wonder sometimes why people feel the need to say something unpleasant. Is it that they don’t think about the words passing over their lips, that they don’t care, or worse yet it is intentional? Wouldn’t it be better, even if you have a snarky or mean thought, to think it, acknowledge it (to yourself not the world), and then dismiss it as not helpful or necessary?

Peaceful thoughts……

Mindfulness is a concept that is running around the flagpole a lot recently. Basically, it’s being in the present moment or “in the now” as it is sometimes stated. Being aware of your feelings, thoughts and emotions but dealing with them in a calm, almost distant way, rather than being overly reactive. I like this quote about the practice of mindfulness from the Greater Good Magazine, Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. Makes me feel peaceful, and that is the point of the exercise. Very zen.

My plan, though not always possible, is to surround myself with upbeat, supportive people. They don’t have to share my views, but do need to acknowledge my right to have them, and I will extend the same courtesy to them. People who see the best in me, and are not intent on highlighting the worst. Friendship should run like a commuter train, sometimes going one way, and other times the other.

With many storms brewing around me these days, I try hard to concentrate on not worrying about tomorrow or wishing yesterday to be different, and simply being where I am right now this exact minute and milking this time for all it’s worth. I wish you a great moment, an excellent day, a second to stop and ponder what you are about to say and evaluate if it is valuable or worth expressing. One happy day on toast for me is all I need right now, that’s all I’m saying

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My seventh day in Northern Manitoba with my farm family was to be spent with Chris and the children. What a lovely day it was. On this particular day I was pulled into service in the kitchen, a job not unfamiliar to me. That evening there was to be a party in my honor which was such a lovely gesture on their part. Chris, as usual, would be doing the catering.  In her typical efficient way, she had printed menus for her guests. One was handed to me before we began dicing and chopping to provide a glimpse of what we were to be preparing. Breakfast that morning was self serve. Cold and hot cereal with a large bowl of fresh fruit and a plate with a variety of Chris’s homemade breads were set up on the dining room table for anyone to help themselves. Three golden crusted pies were lined up on the sideboard by the open dining room window to cool with strict instructions from the cook not to be touched.

Reading the menu I could see it would be a busy day. The cocktail hour was to begin at 5:00 out by the patio. Icy margaritas, wine and beer would be served for the adults enjoying a cocktail, and lemonade and sweet tea for those too young to imbibe or not inclined towards adult beverages. The appetizers, mostly comprised of ingredients from Chris’s impressive garden, were to include pastry wrapped asparagus with mustard sauce, sausage stuffed mushrooms, and deviled eggs as well as whatever contributions the guests provided. For someone who had spent little time in the city Chris had a very sophisticated palette. I noticed her reading material included magazines such such as Bon Appetit and Food and Wine, magazines I also enjoyed.

Eva and I were dispatched to Chris’s garden to gather some of the necessary ingredients. What an amazing touch the woman had with growing things.  Some of the vegetables in the massive garden area I had never actually seen on the vine before. I was fascinated to peer inside one enormous leaf only to find a cauliflower tucked under the wing of one fold. Up until then I had only seen cauliflowers in the vegetable section at the market. Carrying the baskets provided by our hostess for our harvest, Eva and I filled each to the brim with huge beefsteak tomatoes, green onions, sweet peppers, bouquets of basil, springs of mint, summer squash, cucumbers, and whatever else was on our list.

The main course was to be lamb. I was pleased no lambs were included in the cast of barnyard characters on the farm so it was not to be a family member served to the guests. Chris explained they got their lamb locally which didn’t surprise me. During my stay I had seen several large flocks grazing in the area. Though I had not mentioned it, coincidentally lamb happens to be one of my favorite meats. Growing up it was often the main course at my grandmother’s table alongside a bowl of mint jelly or creamy mint sauce. I assumed, since mint had been included on our shopping list, one or the other might be showing up that night as well. This was not to be lamb as I had ever prepared it before, however. Several whole lambs were going to cooked outdoors on a spit. Sounded wonderful. When I was living in Alabama I attended a huge backyard party where a whole cow was cooked on a spit. Watching that spit revolve all afternoon was too much for my delicate nature bringing out in me the urge to rescue the poor thing and run away with it. Brings to mind a quote from Dr. Seuss’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,”He took the Who’s feast, he took the Who pudding, he took the roast beast.” I vowed to avoid the spit area later in this day and simply enjoy my dinner.

Back in the kitchen the aromas were beginning to titillate my nostrils. The lamb was to be served alongside a cheesy, creamy zucchini gratin, crispy Greek lemon potatoes, several salad selections including a fully loaded garden salad and Chris’s simply amazing yeast rolls. Oh yummy for my tummy. I was put in charge of the Caprese Salad, creating several eye catching plates of ripe ruby red tomatoes alternated with slices of mozzarella cheese. This was finished off with fresh basil, and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If an organ could do a happy dance my stomach would have been in the middle of the macarena.

After a quick lunch, the girls were relieved of their aprons and left to play outside allowing Chris and I to to concentrate of the tasks at hand. There is something immensely satisfying to me in the preparation of food. Perhaps it’s the colors, or the aromas, or just the immense gratification you get when someone puts a bite of a dish you’ve prepared in their mouths and says “yum”.  A meal, to my mind, should be party for our senses. We eat with our eyes, our noses, our mouths and even our ears. There’s nothing as tantalizing as the sound of a good piece of meat when it hits a hot grill. Good food arranged artfully on a pretty plate is just appealing. No matter how mouth watering your food may be, if you just throw it on the plate and hand it to someone to eat, the full enjoyment of eating the meal is somehow diminished. As good as the meat and potatoes on the left might taste, a person might not feel as enthusiastic about taking a bite of it as they might what is displayed on the plate to the right.

The Caprese salad plated and wrapped, I asked where to store it. The kitchen had one large side by side refrigerator and every inch of storage space was already accounted for. Chris directed me to the sunroom. The sunroom was at the back of the house. It was a large shotgun style room with a bank of windows running along both ends and the yard side. During the warmer months Bob P. said the screens kept the air flowing in and the bugs out making it a lovely place to sit and let your bones dry out after a long day of work. On the inside wall there was a side by side refrigerator and though I had not seen it Ray had mentioned a large walk-in freezer in the barn where they stored butchered meats.

Setting the Caprese dishes on a shelf in the refrigerator I remembered Chris asking me to grab several jars of pickled green beans which she said I would find in the cupboard next to the fridge. Having been told the Mason jars were in alphabetical order (of course) I easily located the appropriate jars under the sign marked “G”. Like many farmer’s wives, Chris said she canned and preserved several times a year for off season months. Looking at the amount of jars, it seemed an excessive amount of food for five people but at harvest time it was my understanding there were plenty of mouths to feed, and if not I believe most preserved items enjoy a fairly long shelf life.

Mid afternoon with everything done and tucked away we separated to catch a shower and clean up for the evening ahead. I had not thought to pack a dress for a week on a farm, so Chris, about the same size as myself, offered me a choice of several light summer dresses from her closet.

Always I have gotten butterflies when having to integrate with a large group of strangers. It’s not that I’m an introvert, I actually love interacting with other human beings, but too many of them at once I find a little overpowering. Once dressed I wandered out in the garden to find Bob J. already dressed and seated in the shade in a lawn chair. After surveying me with his gaze as if checking for weapons he commented that I cleaned up very well. In the world of Bob J. I believe this was a compliment, so I took it as such. In turn I thought he “cleaned up well”. Face free of stubble, hair combed, a freshly pressed shirt tucked into a well fitting pair of clean jeans, most attractive. We sat next to each other for a while enjoying the lull before the storm. He shared he was glad I’d come and that his family had been pleased with how I’d rolled up my sleeves and got dirty along with the rest of them. I thanked him knowing it was high praise from someone who did not relieve himself of praise easily. The moment hanging between us was broken by a truck driving through the gate allowing the energy to dissipate. Excusing myself, I went inside to let Chris know our first guest had arrived and to see what I could do to help.


About forty people ended up filling the chairs out back, some filtering inside after the sun set and the bugs made their nightly appearance. The margaritas were as promised icy cold and tart and if possible each course served was better than the one preceding it. The lamb, well I don’t have words. Ray had cooked it to perfection. It was tender and juicy and, yes, served with mint jelly and sprigs of fresh mint. The tables were set up eight to a table with a smaller table for the children of which there were exactly ten. Twinkling lanterns were strung from tree to tree to provide illumination. Each table was beautifully decorated with long trails of wildflowers. A young man I recognized from church the day before sat on a bale of hay entertaining us with country music and playing his guitar. Desserts were served with a lovely after dinner wine. Chris’s triple berry pie, a recipe I use to this day, was the star sitting alongside a glass bowl of trifle, an assortment of cakes and plate after plate of cookies and bars. About nine, people starting peeling off and heading towards their vehicles as the next day was a work day.

What a wonderful night that was. Everyone pitched in. Once the last guest’s taillights had disappeared down the road we all carried something into the kitchen. Eva and Dawn, running on a sugar high, had to be carried sniffling into bed. Chris and I stayed up late and washed dishes putting leftovers in containers to be stored in the fridge. When finally I walked down the hall towards my room I realized I would really miss this new family of mine. It was a night I shall always keep with me, and of course the blueberry pie recipe.

Chris’s Triple Berry Pie

Double Crust Pie Shell

2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 Tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
4-5 Tbsp. milk

Combine flour and salt in small bowl. Cut in shortening until mixture looks like course crumbs. Sprinkle with vinegar. Gradually add milk tossing with a fork until a ball forms. Cover and refrigerate for 30 mins.

Divide pastry in half leaving one ball slightly larger than the other. Roll out the larger of the two to fit 9″-10″ pie plate. Transfer pastry to pie plate. Trim to rim. Brush bottom of shell with 1 Tbsp. water whisked with 1 egg white. Reserve the rest.

Roll out second shell to fit over top of the first. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


2 1/2 cups blueberries, sorted and any stems removed
3/4 cup raspberries
3/4 cups blackberries
3/4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg white
2 tbsp. water

Place berries in large mixing bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over berries. Using your hands gently turn until well coated. Pour into prepared shell.

Lay top pastry over berry mix. Press and seal edges with bottom shell. Trim as needed. Cut four slits in center to vent. Brush top with remaining egg white/water mixture.

Bake for 50 mins. or until browned and bubbly.

Cook on wire rack.



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Having trouble sleeping lately. Can’t imagine why. It’s not like anything weird or unsettling is going on around me that would contribute to my being being awake. Last night I was up on the hour. The cat, who sleeps on her pillow at the end of the bed, ate a whole bowl of food at 3 a.m. while I consumed my bowl of oatmeal. I’m going to have to get two sticks from the yard for us to roll each other around the house if I don’t stop getting my exercise by opening and closing the refrigerator door.

A dream finally got my feet planted on the carpet. Not a happy dream. I was wandering in the desert with no phone or idea where I was. When I woke up my bangs were stuck to my forehead. Must have been the high heat of the day where I was hiking. Always I have had vivid dreams, many of which I can recall in lurid detail. The more memorable will stick with me for a day or two as if for me to analyze and process them before letting them go. There are several recurring themes in my dreams of late. Bears once again have made a return to my rem world along with being lost and unable to find my way home. Hopefully neither is premonitory in nature. Bears continue to be a constant in my life. When I moved into my little house last May my landlady, who lives directly across the street, mentioned I should leave my trash cans behind the fence in the back yard. It seems bears have been known to forage in the area searching for something to snack on. Fortunately I have never had the pleasure of seeing one up close and personal. Her husband went on to add I should consider leaving the cat inside while living here. He said he had recently watched a coyote heading down the street with one of the neighbor’s cats dangling from its mouth. Thanks for sharing. We’re not in the wildnerness mind you, rather the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. However, we have invaded these animals territory not visa versa so I guess we need to learn to live and let live. Boo would not choose to go outside on the best of days so no worries there. A house cat she is and a house cat she will be, spoiled rotten til the end.

The neighborhood seems to have more animals than I realized before being isolated. Dogs pass by the window every few minutes probably getting more walks now that their owners are in forced residence. I have to say I have seen my neighbors in general much more during this pandemic. Not only are they riding by on bikes, or out walking but I actually see them in their back yards with their families playing games or doing yard work. It’s kind of nice for a change. Usually we are all so wrapped up in scurrying about we don’t stop to smell the roses both figuratively and literally.

It’s nice to have the sound of children laughing outside or people sharing a conversation. Since Rick has passed I find I need some noise in the house. The TV can drive you nuts after a while and certainly more so now with the news focusing solely on the virus and the devastation caused by it. I prefer something a little more uplifting like music. How you think definitely effects a person not only emotionally but physically so I prefer to keep my thinking a little loftier if just as a matter of health and well being.

I talked to my mom on Facetime yesterday. It is difficult not to be able to see her. I am so thankful she is not in an assisted living facility any more but rather a small board and care.  The opportunity there to pick up a hitchhiking germ is much smaller. With the dementia, having a conversation without a visual is far more difficult. She celebrated a birthday since the isolating started, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, along with several other family members so we are waiting until we are allowed out again to put together an appropriate rite of passage for these occasions.

One thing I have to say is not being able to access a store, even with Amazon and the big chains at my fingertips, my spending has gone down significantly.  My gas budget, one of my larger outlays during normal times, is nearly non existent which is really making a difference. I feel for the small business owners who are standing in empty stores or restaurants every day with no employees evident and no money coming in. Perhaps the worst of it is not knowing when they can open their doors again. Must be very disheartening.

I am also spending more time browsing the Internet. While wandering around on Facebook this morning I came across the picture below of the most gorgeous attic room. Immediately I was transported back to the house I grew up in in Nova Scotia. Houses built in colder climates often have basements as well as attics. Ours was no exception. Our basement as well as being a general catch all for winter sports equipment, was home to the the washer and dryer, an old ironing press, and an assortment of gardening necessities. The back wall of the basement served as a small shop devoted to my grandfather’s love of tinkering. On one side was a rustic wooden tool bench with a large peg board above it that displayed his tools dangling neatly from hooks alongside other ubiquitous wood shop items such as tightly rolled extension cords and a variety of paint brushes. As a child I never liked to go down the back stairs to the basement by myself. My mind, always entertaining an overactive imagination, could envision spiders repelling from the ceiling to slither down my back, rodents skittering across the cement floors, or even menacing bats swooping down out of dark corners. For several years I insisted alligators populated the space beneath my bed and should I have woken in the middle of the night with a hand draped over the side of my bed I always counted my fingers to make sure none of them had gone missing while I slept.


The attic in the house was far more inviting. A key dangled out of the old keyhole though the door was never locked to my recollection. A huge angled window allowed light to flow in making the room both warm and friendly and made it easy to get around in. A large full length mirror in the corner was perfect for modeling the hats and clothing stored in the old chests in the corner. Long abandoned toys from my mother’s childhood and her siblings were stored in crates which I had permission to explore. I spent many an hour entertaining myself in that room making up stories to go with the mink stole I had draped around my neck or the hat with the netting pulled down over my face. Sometimes my grandmother would come up and bring me milk and cookies to enjoy with my dolls or sit with me for a while and tell me a story of her childhood growing up on a farm in Ontario. Those memories of the rooms in that house formed the strong foundation which I built my life on.

Funny how certain rooms appear to ask you in, while others encourage you to remain outside. Maybe it is the energy remaining there from years of visitors or residents passing through its portals leaving a bit of themselves behind. Even in this small dwelling I lean towards sitting in the living room or my cozy bedroom 80% of the time. Some entire houses wear an air of uncomfortability. Perhaps they might feel dark, or stifling, or possibly just have an aura of sadness about them.

I remember such a house when I was small. When I was about six my grandparents enlisted a family friend to teach me the piano. To say I am not gifted musically would be being kind at best. If I opened my mouth to sing I could empty an auditorium in less than five minutes, possibly less. Shirley Hoyt, the piano teacher they employed, was what my grandmother referred to as a “maiden lady”. She lived with an aunt who bore the same title which indicated in both cases the ladies had never married. Shirley was a generously cut woman who wore her spectacles perched at the tip of a nose which rose prominently above an upper lip adorned by a hint of a moustache. Her salt and pepper hair was always held in check in a tight bun at the nape of her neck with bobby pins trying to escape here and there. The most distinctive thing about Miss Hoyt, as a I remember at least, was the ever prevalent aroma of moth balls floating around her which always made me feel the need to pinch my nose. The house always smelled as though the windows had never been opened causing the air to assume a musty and stale kind of odor. Tapestries covered the furniture in the parlor where the piano was as well as the bench we sat on when I took my lessons. Sometimes when I sat down a cloud of dust would rise in the air as though the room hadn’t been attended to in years. After six months of patient instruction I retained one song, “We Three Kings of Orient Are” which I can still play to this day. Though I don’t remember much else about the lessons other than my teacher, I do remember the bungalow. Even as a child I thought of it as a place that felt lacking in luster and life perhaps reflecting it’s occupants. Shirley was a lovely lady I am sure. I always wondered what her story was, why she had never found her prince or at least a mate. Perhaps we aren’t all destined to pair off, though it seems by all appearances we animals tend to break off in two’s naturally. Too late by many years to know the true story of her life, I guess I will be left to my active imagination to fill in the blank spaces.

So today I shall enjoy my space as I hope you enjoy yours. A brisk breeze is blowing beyond my window and the flowers in my garden are leaning to one side and then the other as it comes and goes. Hopefully soon we can reenter our lives but I guess for now we should enjoy a little break in the routine allowing us to recapture our serenity.



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The time has come to begin searching for a part-time job. God knows I’ve avoided it successfully as long as I can. Money needs to start coming in as well as going out or this boat is going to spring a few leaks down the road. Not that I’m allergic to work, I’ve worked most of my life, I just don’t hate not having to. Ah well, we do what we need to do to sustain ourselves, yes?

An email showed up in my in box yesterday from a social media website I’m a member of. They were alerting me to the fact there is an opening for a social media director for one of the NFL teams I might be a good candidate for. Really, in what universe would that be? If I’m qualified for that job why not try something new like, say, brain surgeon or perhaps I could apply to NASA for a neuroscientist position? I do enjoy watching those rockets plummeting into space. How hard can it be a little rocket fuel and a match? Let’s see, with all the candidates running for president at the moment would anyone even notice another hat tossed in the ring? Why not go for the gold? As far as I can tell I’m probably as qualified as most of the people in Washington at the moment so why not?

Updating my resume it occurred to me my graphic arts background isn’t really going to hold a lot of weight if I’m stocking shelves at the Dollar Store or wrapping up purchases at Penny’s. Probably their HR departments won’t be overly impressed by the fact that not only can I bag the items for the customer, but I can draw them a rendition of the bag if needed.

Utilizing my graphics or writing skills while earning a paycheck would be the ideal situation. Unfortunately, these types of jobs are often full time positions with plenty of overtime, which I’m not looking for, or the hiring bodies are targeting younger candidates who can remain in place longer than a baby boomer such as myself.

Over the years I have assumed many identities in the working world. I began as a secretary, clerk really, for a moving company. An eighteen year old girl green as a gourd working with a bunch of rough around the edges movers in a large combination warehouse and office. I earned my stripes there. The men were respectful for the most part, as I remember. However, the dispatcher working directly across the aisle from me had a mouth like a sailor. When things weren’t going his way the air was alive with words my grandmother would have washed my mouth out for repeating. I remember once the warehouse manager came to me to tell me the ladies, of which there were four of us, needed to be alerted there were crabs in the women’s washroom. Until the situation was resolved, we were instructed to use the men’s room. Fascinated there were live crabs on the premises, I asked if perhaps I could see them. Stepping a bit further into the humiliation pit I went on to explain though I enjoyed crabs, I actually preferred lobster having grown up in Nova Scotia. Yup, fully immersed in the pit of humiliation at that point. After staring at me in disbelief for a minute he broke out in hysterical laughter. For the next two years I had to hear the crabs story repeated more times than I care to remember. Back then if asked about an STD I might have answered “isn’t that motor oil”? Yes, yes I know it’s STP.

My second job was for a huge engineering company working as a secretary to one of the junior VP’s. My desk was one of a bank of desks and executive offices referred to by the staff as “mahogany row”. Things were much different in those days. Women wore dresses, heels, and nylons to work. Pants were not allowed on the ladies. Men were encouraged to wear them thankfully, there are laws against that. Pants suits made an appearance not long afterwards, though I wouldn’t have missed them if they hadn’t. Polyester nightmares with matching jacket and pants usually suffering from static cling or just basic bad taste. There were no casual Friday’s. Women were to be dressed accordingly five days a week even if their toes were sacrificed to tight pointy toed shoes or their bodies circulation diminished by suffocating pantyhose. Mini skirts were also on the scene at the time. Accessing a filing cabinet wearing that minimal piece of fabric required real finesse necessitating squatting down rather than bending over the file drawers lest you provide a distraction for the engineers on the floor. The campus I worked on consisted of five multi-story buildings, mainly staffed by male engineers, draftsmen, and support staff. Women engineers were tossed in among the mix but certainly were a small minority. Often the ladies with the engineering degrees were difficult to sort out from the gentlemen. They tended to dress in a very understated way bordering on dowdy to maintain a businesslike persona. I was told by one female engineer they dressed down in order to be accepted by their male colleagues. I could write volumes about how I feel about that, but I digress.

Part of my job description was generating travel paperwork for engineers and staff reporting to our overseas operations as well as the Alaskan pipeline and South America. Shots were required when entering certain foreign countries as well as the typical government documents such as visas and passports. If needed quickly, I would hop a plane from LA to San Francisco to visit the embassy’s involved to get paperwork moved through as expediently as possible. For me, this was the whipped cream topping of my job. Entering the exotic offices staffed by people from lands I had never visited was fascinating to me. There were times when I wished they were placing official stamps on my documents so I could board the plane as well.

Certainly my dream as a child was not to be typing engineering reports or transfer papers. Sometimes life doesn’t look the way you thought it would. As a kid my mind was filled with Egypt, oddly leading me to end up with Rick an Egyptian by birth. Daydreams of dusty digs in steamy desert settings uncovering long buried tombs with ancient artifacts filled my days. As I approached puberty, my career goals shifted to include nurse, like my grandmother, and circus clown and in high school I decided I wanted to fly the friendly skies as a flight attendant. In the end, I got married at eighteen, had two children by twenty-one and found myself seated in front of an electric typewriter pounding keys for a living. I don’t regret this for an instant because was I to create a paradox in my world and change things my two beautiful children wouldn’t share my life nor their offspring so I wouldn’t change a thing.

I view each experience as a building block to the next. Had I not taken typing in high school simply to fill an elective spot, I might have been pushing biggie fries at McDonald’s. Not that that’s a bad job. I think anyone who works hard in whatever position they hold should be commended. However hindsight being 20-20 I do wish at times I had enjoyed the full college experience when I had the opportunity to but as I always quote, “don’t look in the rear view mirror, that is not the direction you are going”.

So I look at working once again and still find myself pondering what I want to be when I grow up. Working with food might be interesting. Standing behind the deli counter at the market slicing meats and cheeses seems like it would be right up my alley. My girlfriend always tells me I would have make a good waitress. I like the idea of serving people meals, as being in the kitchen or around food is my happy place. That being said, having owned a restaurant with Rick I do know first hand how difficult waiting tables is. Long hours, poor tippers, complaining patrons, and sore feet. Hmmmm. Maybe a mermaid? I’ve never been one but always felt I had the predisposition for it, and how I do love the water.

For now I will scan the on-line sites advertising local jobs and see what catches my eye. Fortunately I’ve kept my computer skills up so I have something to offer in that area.

Another new chapter to explore in my crazy interesting life. I do look forward to finding out what the next year will bring with it.

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