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Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It is three a.m., which seems to have become my Covid norm time for waking up. Eyes wide open, I’m ready to commence with my day (which doesn’t officially start for three hours). The saddest part of this story, I finished my second cup of coffee before I sat down to begin this writing.

There has been a new male presence in my world over the last year or so. I’m having difficulty defining this relationship. What do you call a partner when you’re getting a bit gray about the temples? Boyfriend, sounds ridiculous at this age. We are not going steady, the prom is not in our future, and the likelihood of me wrapping dental floss around his class ring to make it slide on my finger is slim to none. To be honest, I don’t know what is in our future. We are exploring the possibilities, concentrating mainly on what is happening today.

Intrinsically, I am a nester. Having someone to “do” for is somewhat of a happy place for me. Cooking is an activity I greatly enjoy, and though I do cook nice meals when here by myself, it is not the same as having someone seated across from me at the table to appreciate them with me. In this pandemic enforced solitary confinement, I believe my landscape would have looked far more bleak without his silly sense of humor to cut through the fog on the darker days, and his companionship to help ease the encroaching loneliness forced isolation can breed.

Different questions have to be answered when you’re entering a relationship as an older adult then when you are a kid. Actually, I prefer “older person”. It’s a split hair, but one I enjoy splitting. Not sure I’m ready to be graduated to full adulthood yet. My inner child is currently a work in progress. In my minds eye, she is a young girl with an easy smile who loves to walk barefoot in the sand and sing along to her favorite song using a spatula for a mike. I think I’m keeping her around for a while. There’s plenty of time later to be grown up.

Obviously, as an older couple you don’t discuss if you want children in your future. That ship has sailed, docked, and been hauled off to the mothball fleet. At this time in your life, you either have children or you do not. If the answer is the affirmative, then that is another brick in the wall (to quote a little Pink Floyd). I’ve experienced a variety of scenarios when it comes to bringing children into a new relationship. Young children on my side, young children on my side and his side, adult children on my side and adult children on both sides. All of the above, tend to add a little zest to the stew. Now, I cannot speak to everyone’s experience, only mine. Some couples may have been able to combine their “tribes” with ease, traversing this minefield seamlessly. God bless them. I use the word tribes, because warriors in full battle dress carrying spears is an image created in my mind while discussing this particular subject. For me, it was no walk in the park. Perhaps the ones who made it work without issue should have published a manual for the rest of us idiots stumbling along in the dark to follow? There are pratfalls in all of the scenarios. Young, young children are perhaps more open to accepting a new person being introduced in their lives. This, of course, is if the new person is loving and generous of spirit. But, even if they are up there at the benevolent heights attained by Mother Teresa, they cannot, nor will they ever be able to be, the child’s birth parent. This, creates a natural fault line that can and probably will widen and diminish as situations come up. Older children, are more likely to step back and scrutinize the newcomer. Their keen searching eyes looking for financial stability, any obvious major health problems, and how the interloper treats their mother or father. In some cases they will embrace them, in others tolerate them, and in still others voice their displeasure with the new addition and banish them forever from the kingdom. In most cases, adult children want their parents to be happy. Another motivation to welcoming an aging parents new love interests into the fold, is not having to see their parent’s clothes hanging in their spare room closet or to have them taking up extended space in their mother-in-law quarters.

What a person is looking for in a companion as they age often changes considerably from when they first arrived on the dating scene. In my case, I have pretty much established through trial and error what I want and what I don’t want in a partner. My relationships looked much like my mothers and grandmothers when I was younger. Like the women before me, I cooked, cleaned, managed the laundry and bit off a healthy portion of tending to the kids needs, and as in my mother’s case, I also worked outside of the home.

These days work is something I do to make extra money as opposed to something I deal with on a daily basis. This does not mean I am financially free as a bird. I pinch a penny, and then squeeze the copper out of it. Since, according to my doctor, I’ve inherited my mom’s excellent genes, should I be lucky enough to live to be her ripe old age, I’d better have a tin cup and a cardboard sign at the ready to meet the occasion. That being said, anyone I take up with will have to be able to be able to stay afloat themselves when it comes to money matters, because my financial lifeboat is only equipped with seating for one. I’m an avid sharer, but can’t take on additional monetary responsibilities. As I start writing all this stuff down, I might in the end just consider getting another cat. Just kidding. She never appreciates anything I put in front of her.

Another thought is how I like to keep my house. By this, I mean I like it tidy. Some people simply don’t care if you can write your thesis in the dust on the coffee table. Let me say this, I am not one of them. Whatever anyone wants to do in their own space is first, last, and always up to them. Well, unless it’s a health issue or a danger to others. Let me rephrase, I accept everyone’s right to live as they please in their own surroundings. If a person wishes to eat fried chicken and throw the bones in a pile in the middle of the living room floor for the dog to yak up, I’m all about their right to do so. If eating soup out of the bathroom trash can when there are no clean dishes available suits your mood, I’m on board. I may not choose to do that, but accept fully it might be something that works for you and certainly your right to live and thrive in any way you want. There, that sounds more like me.

For years I have picked up, swept up, worked around, and generally managed other people’s clutter. Note here, I do not want to do this anymore. I am my children’s mother. That is all I signed up for. Anyone else is on their own if mothering is what they are in the market for. If I drop my clothes on the floor, they remain there until I pick them up. No one, at least in my experience, has ever gone by my clothes and on seeing them there either; a) hung them up neatly in my closet, or b) thrown them in the laundry and washed, dried, and pressed them for me. This, is because they are my clothes. However, during my marriages somewhere the lines got blurred where all the clothes in the house seemed to end up with my name on them. The dishes also, though I only ate off the ones placed at my seat, seemed all to be mine when it came time to load the dishes in the dishwasher. One of my husbands did the dishes during the week, while I took over on the weekends. This could have proved a great system, except he only did what I would call the “easy to clean” dishes (one swipe with a sponge, rinse, voila). That left me the following morning with a sink full of the stuck on pots and pans or heavy cleaning items like casserole dishes or deep fryers. These, apparently, were my pots. To give my husbands credit where it is due, for the most part, each of them took out the trash, mowed the lawn, and did whatever quick and simple repair jobs were deemed necessary around the house. Rick, bless him, always believed that having repairmen on the premises was doing a service for the community. Raised in an upper middle class neighborhood in Cairo, Egypt his family had servants. He told me as a teen he would take his clothes off before taking a shower and leave them where they fell. His wet towel joined the pile when he was done showering and when he went into his bedroom his clothes were laid out on his bed for him. I told him my union rep said I needed double time plus bonus pay for extras such as these and that, as they say, was that.

Another important piece of the puzzle for me would be how a potential love interest felt about animals. Boo, the queen of cats, is an intrinsic part of the fabric of my life. This silly old cat is a part of the family. Also, I have an innate distrust of humans who don’t bond with animals. You may be a cat person, or you may be a dog person, but if animals in general make your skin crawl, you will never be found in the cards for me. How people react to our furry friends, I believe, is indicative of how they will treat the people in their lives. Most likely I will always share space with an animal so that box needs to be checked for me before moving forward.

Before I move on, I have to put in a brief paragraph about the exes. Exes can be really touchy territory. Many couples I know, include their ex spouses at holidays and on special occasions. This is as it should be with children involved. I have sat at many wedding tables next to ex-wives. As long as too much champagne isn’t consumed loosening lips and allowing the horror stories of their relationships with your current squeeze don’t start, life can remain copasetic. I suggest an escape plan for such events be in place, in case you find yourself trapped in a corner and their lips begin moving. It can get ugly.

Love is a welcome gift at any age. I will not overthink the prospect for now, but rather allow things to open and unfold as they will and see what lovely surprises are to be discovered inside. Have a great day. Fill your cup with love, because you cannot have too much of it in reserve for times like now when it sometimes feels like a dangerous and cynical world. Stay safe.

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Well here we are at last. We just stepped in it, 2021 I mean. It will be kind of strange not to be referring to 2020 anymore, strange good not strange bad, mind you. This month should prove to be an interesting start to the new year. Once we get to the end of January, hopefully the dust will have finally settled over the election, many more vaccines will have been administered, some of the essential workers can put their feet up and enjoy some time with their families, and life can at least take the first steps toward returning to a sense of normality. Currently Northern California, where I make my home, is the only part of California not at full capacity in their IC rooms. We are in general, less populace than the midsection and southern end of the state, which could be contributing to our numbers being lower. Getting control of the virus will hopefully be the first and main concern of the new administration moving into the White House.

New Year’s Eve passed uneventfully at my house. As usual I didn’t make it to midnight with my eyes open. Well, if you go by EST, I made it. New Year’s Eve has never been a special holiday for me. Over the years there have been many parties and gala events I’ve attended but for some reason I barely made one serviceable memory of New Year’s Eve out of the lot. There was one back in the late 1990’s that was really a bomb. Not literally, mind you, but there was truly nothing redeemable about the evening from beginning to end. My main squeeze at the time loved, loved, loved New Year’s Eve. For him, it was the highlight of his entire year. As the holidays drew close the first year we dated, he suggested booking a New Year’s package at a seaside resort.

The New Year’s package in question included a two night stay at a four star resort in one of their premier rooms with a fireplace, sitting room, private hot tub and panoramic view of the Pacific. On the big night, we would enjoy a lavish seven course meal, complimentary champagne, and dancing following dinner in their grand ballroom. Sounded pretty grand to me. Aware he had spent a great deal of money on the weekend, I didn’t want to disappoint. About a month before the event, I went shopping and indulged myself in a particularly dreamy and well fitting sea blue formal with a touch of bling sprinkled across the front for a hint of magic. The shoes I bought to compliment the gown were also reached beyond my budget, but since the gentleman was paying for the entire weekend above and beyond my attire, I felt them worth the splurge.

At that time, I held down a very demanding job in a high tech company. The hours were intense. Many nights I would be driving home after a long day only to get paged (Yes, paged. This was before everyone and their labradoodle had a cell phone.) to return to work. Some days I had to prop myself up by sticking brooms under both arms to keep myself in a vertical position. Every night dinner was catered in the company’s incredibly well equipped kitchen because most people working their nearly called the place home. The job was demanding in so many ways besides the hours. I was a graphic designer for the firm as well as the only employee there with significant experience creating Power Point presentations including animations, and videos etc. This made me the go-to gal for such projects, and the need for my services came up frequently. The title Power Point Specialist was tagged on to my original title giving me more responsibility for the same paycheck. Sigh.

At any rate, the thought of a few days R&R was mighty appealing that particular New Year’s as I remember. Even though I was relatively young, the long days and little sleep were starting to do their work on my immune system. A few days after Christmas, I got a head cold. It wasn’t one of those colds where your entire face looks like you’ve been bobbing for French fries, but it was definitely slowing me down. After blowing my nose steadily for a day or so, the symptoms migrated to my lungs. Oh-oh. As is typical of my MO, I kept on pushing through the week, and by the time I reached the day before we were to leave I was beginning to feel really miserable. I had the chills and was hot concurrently, and my chest was beginning to feel as it it was being held hostage by a boa constrictor. I asked my boyfriend what the situation would look like for him if I couldn’t go. From the expression on his face I knew the answer wasn’t going to be “not a problem”. Apparently, he would lose his money, as it was too late to cancel, and his New Year’s would be a total disaster. Is that all? Sucking it up, I insisted I was confident I could rally. These words were coming out of my mouth, but my internal systems were all screaming in unison, “Noooooooooo. Run, save yourself”. I should have listened.

He picked me up at my apartment mid-afternoon. I had the day off so took advantage of the time to take turns sleeping, coughing, then sleeping and sneezing for a change of pace. Looking at my face in the bathroom mirror, I knew even that gorgeous sea blue dress wasn’t going to save me. Droopy red eyes, weepy nose, pale cheeks. What’s not to love? Hack. Trying hard to be cheery and good company as we drove up the coast, secretly I was hoping the nausea rising in my throat would remain at that level and not reveal itself on the carpet of his beloved BMW.

The hotel lobby was beautiful, still fully dressed for the holidays. It seemed to me they had switched the thermostat to sauna as riverlets of sweat made their way down my body. The urge to strip down and climb in the fountain which was the focal point of the massive entryway was overwhelming.

After checking in, our bags were loaded on a cart and we were escorted to our room. True to the brochure, the spacious suite had all the promised amenities, the most impressive of them being the glorious ocean view visible beyond the sliding glass doors. All I saw was the large bed calling my name. After a rather alarming coughing fit, my date suggested perhaps I needed to grab a nap so I’d be fresh for the night’s festivities. Ya think?

Waking up some time later, I pulled myself together enough to take a shower and apply some make up to my ashy cheeks. Dressed and ready for a celebration my body wanted more than anything to lie down somewhere until the room stopped spinning. Once downstairs, we followed the signs to a reception area where we signed in, we’re handed festive hats and noisemakers, and pointed towards the bar. I ordered a cocktail. Not. My head began a drum roll Gene Krupa would have been proud of. Ignoring the beautiful cocktail trays circulating among the partygoers, I struggled to convince my legs their function at this affair was to hold up my body.

When the cocktail hour was complete we made our way into the huge dining area. Each table was numbered so we wove through the maze and located the number corresponding with our tickets and sat at the seats with our names in front of them. Check please. Again, with all the people in the room the temperature had risen, along with, it appeared, mine. Whew. The first course was a simple plate of fruit, artisan greens, toasted pecans, and blue cheese drizzled with a delicate balsamic dressing. My stomach was doing the lambata just looking at it. I picked at it to appear interested and smiled when asked a question by my date or others at the table and nodded in agreement or disagreement at the appropriate moments. Ach. Six courses to go. No way. The second course was lobster bisque. Normally, I would have stood up at my seat and danced in place, as I do love a good lobster bisque, but as the rich smell made it’s way from the bowl to my nostrils my body finally took over the reins. Feeling unbelievably nauseous I sprinted across the room barely making it to the ladies room before the first course beat me to it. The groans coming from my stall prompted a guest outside to ask if possibly I was dying or worse.

My date was waiting for me outside the door. Taking one look at me, he guided me to the room where he deposited me in bed. I assured him I would be fine and to save himself and go on without me. Back down he went to enjoy the I’m sure delicious prime rib cooked to perfection followed by the promised Baked Alaska.

Realizing I needed something more than a less than helpful date, I phoned the front desk and asked if the hotel had a doctor on call. Explaining I was quite ill, a concierge doctor showed up within the hour. Pneumonia was his diagnosis. I was given heavy duty antibiotics and strict instructions to remain in bed (a choice I had already made) which I did for the remaining of my five star weekend. What a quiet drive it was back down the gorgeous California coast, a view I mostly missed because I was prone in my seat waiting for the grim reaper to arrive. Thankfully, after several days and the miracle of modern medicine, I began to come up from the fog. A lot is revealed about a partner during a crisis. In this instance, I learned the event and the outlay, for this person, outweighed my well being. Not only did he stay downstairs and get his money’s worth New Year’s Eve, but the following day while I was coughing up a lung, he booked a boat tour. I remember a therapist offering a bit of advice during a session years ago I’ve carried with me ever since. Pay attention not to what people say, because they can say anything. It is what they do that is important. Wow, has that been true. Someone can tell you anything. They could say they are in Mensa or that they beat out Ken Jennings on Jeopardy, but if they don’t know who Abraham Lincoln was, neither is likely true. People always show themselves if you know them long enough, and this was certainly true in this case. New Year’s Eve was pretty much the death knoll for our relationship, and nearly one for me as well.

So, that, among so many other New Year’s Eve sums up my love of the celebration. For me, feet up on the footstool, cat on the couch, popcorn in the bowl, perhaps a little bubbly in the glass and I’m good to go. Hope you enjoyed a safe and healthy New Year’s weekend. 2021 YAY!!!!

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This has been a busy week. My asthma had me visiting the ER the beginning of the week. They put me in the COVID section as my symptoms were shortness of breath and lung irritation which would mirror symptoms virus sufferers might present. That made me considered suspect. Wouldn’t be the first time. I wasn’t allowed to keep the door open to the room and personnel entering were fully gowned. All a bit unnerving when I already didn’t feel like myself. Thankfully after a healthy dose of steroids and several breathing treatments air found my tired lungs again. Thank God for these front line workers who keep us going. I would have been in serious trouble without them. While waiting for the meds to take effect, I got to wondering what people did back before all this modern medicine was available when faced with such a situation. My guess is that they died young, which is evidenced by medical records from back in the day, grave stones and history books.

Trying to move forward with conviction, the weather people were predicting a record heat event here in California. Those of us hailing from Nova Scotia are not bred for heat. This always brings to mind Harper Lee’s beautiful lines from “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

“Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.”

I suffer when the temps start moving up over 100 degrees. Definitely a soft tea cake by evening. This week, lucky us, it will hold there and quite a bit above for the whole week. Yesterday I spent most of the day cleaning and trying to keep my mind off the fact I was stuck inside and couldn’t even enjoy sitting in my garden as there was no breeze and no shade and it was beyond HOT. Even Boo, the Queen of Cats, was sprawled out on the kitchen floor looking for some relief. When I moved in here I looked forward to sitting in the back yard on summer afternoons. The beginning of spring PG&E came to the door and announced they were cutting down the two massive shade trees by my fence as they were interfering with the power lines. Had to be done, but the lone tree surviving towards the back fence line doesn’t provide much cooling when the heat moves in. Soooo, I cleaned. I can say with some surety most of friends also have the cleanest houses they’ve ever had, and I know I certainly I do. With all this time inside you have to keep moving or you might begin to scream and simply never stop. Oh, sorry, lost my mind for a moment. Back again.

My new dining room table arrived several weeks ago and as yet I haven’t served a meal on it. Yesterday I decided to have a friend over who I knew had safety isolated. Both of us had COVID tests this week with negative results so we thought sitting far enough apart we could enjoy a social evening together and each provide the other with a little conversation and companionship. All good. I decided to break out the pretty dishes, pick some flowers from the garden, set the table beautifully and create a dining experience rather than just serving a meal. Yay.

Knowing it was going to be cranking up outside, I did the bulk of the cooking early in the day. Everything but the blackened tilapia which would be my main attraction, would only need to be reheated in the microwave. About an hour before my guest was to arrive I began to notice I was perspiring. I’m not a sweater by nature, but I do know the steroids can cause flushing and sweating. Okay. Pretty soon the cat was actually panting and I realized the temperature seemed warm. Checking the thermostat the gauge read 83. Oh-oh. As it began to move up with no response when I tried to adjust it, I texted my landlady who lives directly across the street. I like my landlady well enough, don’t misunderstand me, but whenever I mention anything is out of line with the house she says, “funny no one else ever complained about that”. Then when her husband comes over (he’s the handyman for their rentals) he always tells me about other tenants with either the same problem or other problems with the house. I just shake it off but I could live without this response from her. When it began to encroach on 90 in here I send up a white flag. Help. Hot. The walls were closing in. The butter had melted on the counter in the kitchen and I had begun looking up pet friendly hotels in the area with vacancies. Personally I didn’t want to to argue the point no one had ever complained about this before, I was complaining about it right at that very moment, and loudly. Her husband arrived at the door in short order and looked at the thermostat. He said he needed a part which had been replaced before and couldn’t get it until Monday. Always, in my life at least, when something like this is going to happen it seems to pick the absolute worst time to reveal itself. When I first moved in here a tree pierced the sewer line and I was awash with backed up sewage in the toilets and the bathtubs. This resulted in two months without the master bedroom bathroom and half the carpet torn up in there as well as the walls. That also happened on a Saturday and one when I had my mom with dementia sleeping in the spare room. I ended up taking the poor woman to CVS at 7:30 in the morning to use the public restroom. This time it was not only a Saturday, I was having company, AND it was the hottest day so far this year with excessive heat warnings in effect. Halelujah. Sooooo, we got it running somewhat so it will hopefully limp along until the cavalry arrives. We ate dinner with ice packs on our necks and drank enough water to keep an armada afloat but managed to pull the evening out of the bog. This morning is a bit better cool wise in the house but today is going to be hotter so I’m crossing my fingers it holds and keeping the list of pet-friendly hotels at my fingertips.

To add to the mix I woke up this morning and my laptop wouldn’t start. I stood at the window in my bedroom and asked if someone up there was generally pissed off at me or the world had suddenly gotten tipped on it’s axis. The response was shortly the laptop fired back to life and I relaxed a bit. Thank you.

2020 sucks. There, I said it and I’m not sorry. Hope your day is going better. Stay cool and hydrated.

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Here we are perched on the lip of another election year waiting to be swallowed whole. The usual onslaught of mean spirited ads already populating prime time slots only promise to increase in ugliness as voting time draws near. Male against female, democrat versus republican, conservative swatting at liberal, and none of them playing well with others. Throw all this in the pot with the impeachment trial looming on the horizon and you have a really unappetizing stew.

It is idealistic at best to think we’re all going to get along. History tells us we do not get along with each other as a general rule. This began in prehistoric times with one tribe member bashing another over the head over a hunk of raw meat, and has expanded to entire nations going to the mat over land, resources, or religious division. Each faction believes theirs is the best way to do things, their needs the most critical, their skin color the most desirable, their method of operation the most efficient, etc. etc. Wars do not erupt because people are seeing eye to eye. It would be nice, however, to occasionally strike a harmonious note. Just for a change of pace.

Interestingly people seem to come together at their highest level when the situation is dire. In an emergency the issues of race, religion, political bent, or social status seems to disappear in the mist and in many cases people work together toward a united goal. Too bad we have to wait for disaster to find this common ground.

Last weekend I watched the movie Thirteen Weeks for the first time. The central plot revolves around the Cuban missile crisis. Too young at the time to realize how close we came to going to war with Russia, I do recall teachers putting us through bomb drills.  We would practice crouching under our desks with our hands over our heads. This apparently was to be our defense in the event a nuclear weapon was hurling towards us through space programed for our exact coordinates. Really? This would do what exactly? We wouldn’t see it coming? Several families in my town had bomb shelters built as an added precaution. These cement structures were fully stocked and ready to roll should an invasion become imminent. From what I understand fallout remains in the air at a toxic level for about two weeks so that seemed like a viable way to go or at least it did back in the day. Perhaps not having wars or setting off bombs might be a better solution, but those are just my thoughts on the subject. Sounds simplistic but in actual fact that would be the cure for the disease.

During a conversation with one of my Canadian cousins last week she mentioned she had been terrified the first time she ventured into the states. To their minds we are gun toting outlaws something like those who existed in the Wild West. According to her she thought everyone is the U.S. was “packing heat”, so to speak, with concealed weapons more common then sneezes in a flu ward. It is true, if indeed my facts are correct, U.S. citizens are the most armed of any nation in the world. Whether or not you are more likely to be “packing” might depend on any number of factors. Where you live perhaps, what you do, or even how comfortable your family unit is having weaponry on the premises.

For example, David, my ex-husband is from Texas. People hailing from those parts are not a group known for voting against the NRA. For many of them weapons are a way of life. Early on David was taught by the older members of his household to respect the guns in the house and how to safely use them. The man was Texan from the top of his Stetson hat down to the heels of his scuffed cowboy boots. That being said, his choice of transportation was naturally an old Ford pick-up. The failing work horse was his baby. They shared many a weekend with David lying on his back on the driveway or bending over under the hood trying to keep the car on the road. Forgive me, truck, not car. I was called to task frequently for referring to his vehicle as such. Apparently in Texas this could be a shooting offense. Physically it had also seen better days. The paint job had long faded from a bright factory yellow to a faded buttermilk with spots of rust peeking through here and there.  The window on the driver’s side door was missing replaced during rainy months with a 33 gallon trash bag to keep the driver dry. A gun rack hung in the back window next to a picture of the American flag and his rear bumper sported a sticker reading “Honk again I’m reloading”. Believe that says it all.

When he went on the night shift leaving me to fend for myself after dark, he suggested getting a pistol for my protection. I voted no. I did not grow up around weapons. Nova Scotia is well known for its hunting areas. Often during hunting season I would hear the distant sound of gunshots. Certainly I wasn’t harboring the assumption hunters chased down their prey then asked the animal politely to sacrifice themselves so they’d have something to hang over the mantel. However, no one in my circle had a gun or hunted so I had never seen a gun of any kind. Truth be known guns scare the bikini underwear off me and I never had any interest on being on either end of one of them.

My lack of enthusiasm having been registered and vetoed, he purchased a gun anyhow. Don’t ask me what type it was but semi-automatic handgun would be a safe description. You had to pull the “thing” back to “chamber” a bullet. Don’t ask me to name the thing, I didn’t want too much information in case an interrogation lurked in my future. The gun was too stiff for me to chamber the bullet so he concentrated on teaching me to aim and shoot it. After nearly taking out the wall in the garage and an unsuspecting neighbor’s cat the decision came about that he would load the gun, leave the safety on and show me how to remove same should an intruder be in the house. Great. I left it under the night table fully aware if I ever had use it most likely by the time I remembered how to remove the safety and aim it I would either be overrun by the intruder or most probably have shot myself in the foot.

One night about a month into my gun ownership I woke to hear a loud banging in the back yard. My dog was barking and madly scratching at the sliding glass door in the kitchen. Slowly I crept out of bed retrieving my weapon from under the night stand and made my way to the kitchen. Heart pounding at an amazing rate I took off the safety and flung the drapes back on the window. Flicking the light on I yelled, “I have a gun and I’m not afraid to use it”. The light flooded the patio illuminating the culprit now clearly visible standing by the barbecue. A large possum had it’s head caught in the drip can (a tin can used for catching grease) and was frantically trying to smack it off by beating against the foot of the grill. Poor little guy. They’re already nearly blind as it is and having a No. 10 can of creamed corn covering his head surely wasn’t improving the situation. Gently placing the gun back in it’s hiding place I went out to see if I could help. Possums are not known for their sunny dispositions when it comes to interacting with humans. Before coming outside I pulled on David’s heavy industrial gloves which covered my arms to my elbows.  A lot of writhing and growling ensued before I was able to free him or her with the help of a long handled fork (my weapon of choice). After that I insisted the gun find another home and never saw it again. Not any worse off for it I assure you and the possum too. That possum was lucky that the inside of that corn can wasn’t the last thing he saw before I blew him and the precious barbecue into the atmospheric continuum undoubtedly shooting myself in the foot in the process.

I’m sure gun laws will be bounced around in this election year. I’m on the fence about this. I believe this can be a dangerous world and if someone with malignant intentions was threatening me or mine I like to think I could react in kind. However, I see absolutely no reason for hunters to be armed with automatic weapons to shoot a poor deer. The need for these high powered guns escapes me. Probably if I had to shoot anything I’d become a vegan. Easy to hide behind a plastic wrapper in Raley’s meat department. While living in Arkansas I saw David field dress a deer. No he was not picking out a nice billowy cotton sheath for the poor animal to wear, he was removing its entrails to keep the meat from spoiling. Warning this is not a procedure I suggest you observe if you are planning on eating meat or anything else really for the next couple of weeks. One of the younger men lost his lunch on his blue tick hound while watching and I thought seriously about joining him. As David would say, “Texas is hard on women and dogs”. He had great respect for the animal and though I am not fond of venison he made a lasagna using the meat that was actually delicious.

Perhaps my thought for today is to think before you react. We’re all in this together. It doesn’t make it any easier when we can’t work as a team. Reminds me of being in a row boat with eight people each trying to row in a different direction, highly frustrating and doesn’t get you closer to shore. Have a great one!

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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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We are smack dab in the middle of what astrologists refer to as a mercury retrograde. This began officially on Halloween, but the effects were already being felt two weeks prior. Such occurrences in the universe are usually marked by communication and technology breakdowns, nervous anxiety, travel delays, and lost items. Goody.

I mentioned a blog or two back I have been experiencing a lot of such breakdowns. Even after the electricity was finally restored following a five day power outage my land line remains dead as a doornail. A repairman is headed my way after numerous attempts by my provider’s technical staff to try to figure out what is wrong. Immediately after getting that situation on the road to a solution a friend advised me my car was leaking unknown fluid onto the driveway. This means locating an auto shop at my new location to take a look at what’s going on under there. As an aside, have you ever noticed all these types of mini disasters seem to occur on weekends or holidays? It’s so common in my world I can’t help but wonder if perhaps it’s part of the master plan. As to lost items, I spent an hour looking for my keys this morning until just short of panic mode I discovered them dangling out of the lock in the door on my way out to take the trash. Thank God I’m careful to lock the door lest someone try to break in. Sigh. This retrograde will continue until November 20th which tells me November may prove to be another red letter month at Susie’s house. Jeez.

Halloween itself was a pleasant surprise. Having lived in rural mountainous areas for the last twenty years we were lucky if we got one little pirate or a scant princess knocking at our door so this year was actually fun. I bought a huge bag of candy thinking if nobody came I could sacrifice myself and not let it go to waste. As darkness began to fall I sat down to watch the news and eat my dinner when the doorbell began to ring and didn’t stop until I turned off the lights around 8:30. Sometimes there were as many as ten children standing there when I opened the door. They were all really inspired costumes for the most part ranging from a pirate with a parrot on his shoulder and a lit lantern to a diminutive ninja turtle looking just like the ones on the big screen only tinier. It was good to see parents allowing children to go door to door again, though I noticed many of them lining up along the sidewalks with flashlights talking among themselves as their offspring gathered their loot. Reminded me of the old days when my kids were school age when we totally decorated the house and created scary haunted houses in the garage. Very nostalgic for me an old Halloween lover from way back missing being born on the very day by a mere five hours. Such a fan of all Hallows Eve am I, my mother swears I came down the chute wearing a rubber nose, moustache and glasses smoking a cigar.

The day after Halloween I celebrated my birthday. Thankfully, this went off without a hitch. My daughter and her family, including our youngest member, Zeppelin one year and one month, took me to the zoo. Going to the zoo is always a bittersweet experience for me. Don’t misunderstand me, never, even at this ripe age, do I tire of seeing the amazing animals housed in America’s zoos. That being said, I do always feel a tug of guilt these glorious creatures are confined in such a way for our amusement. Seeing the animals through Zeppelin’s fresh eyes was the best part of the day. Each cage was a new adventure for our little guy who’s eyes were wide as dinner plates as we moved from one display to the next.

My mother joined us towards the end of the day. Since she broke her hip it is more difficult to include her in family outings because her stamina has diminished since her injury. Also, as the dementia continues to intrude on her thinking keeping her overnight as was my habit before she fell has now become more difficult. My house is an old cozy dwelling with lots of hard angles and unusual rooms. A wheelchair simply can’t navigate this space comfortably. Sadly once again I watch the progress of aging taking away more and more freedom from my dear mother. I also see spurts of anger not present before. Can’t fault her for that. I’m pretty sure as active as she was, being confined with no real goal or purpose to her days must be terribly frustrating.

There are several new tenants in her board and care. One lady is older than my mom which pleases her to no end. She mentions often she’s tired of being the oldest chick in the hen house. In her fifties during her mid-life crisis, as she called menopause, she refused to devulge her age. She began to shave years off so fast at one point we calculated I was actually older than she was. For me I don’t mind telling my age. Not saying the number out loud doesn’t make me any younger. My view of aging is if the universe allows we’ll all be ten, twenty, thirty, etc. Each stage has it’s pluses and it’s minuses. Not sure I’d go back if I could. Would I want to be back in high school again? There isn’t enough money. Sometimes I think I’d like to revisit my forties but I don’t believe that’s in the contract. Soooooo, I yam, what I yam and that is it. I still feel like a kid so will have to be satisfied with that. Thankfully I’m still healthy and agile which is such a bonus. It pleases me I am still able to be surprised, amazed, disappointed and enlightened so there’s still much work to be done, places to go, things to be accomplished. I’m signed up for a clay class this month. Always wanted to try sculpting. We shall see what comes of that.

Have a great and productive day.

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A lot going on in the news of late. Very unsettling way to spend an hour first thing in the morning before consuming your allotted amount of caffeine. Sometimes I just tune it out, opting for something easier on my brain before it gets revved up to its full momentum for the day. I’ve been thinking seriously about exploring meditation or yoga as forms of relaxation. So far these remain in the thinking stage, but at least they are floating around up there with the rest of the things I’m thinking about doing probably tomorrow, maybe the next day, or perhaps this coming weekend.

Usually I am not a procrastinator. Many of the things I was taught as a child were thrown against the wall and ended up sliding back down, but some suggestions actually stuck. One, from my grandmother, was do the thing you least enjoy doing first rather than placing it at the end of the list. That way you get it over with and it doesn’t hang over your head while you’re doing whatever else came before it. I adhere to this in most things. Take bathrooms, for example. I find nothing stimulating in any way about scrubbing the toilet bowl, pulling hair out of the shower drain, or removing soap scum. Do I enjoy a clean bathroom? Certainly. That being said someone has to clean it and low these many years I’ve never noticed any hands going up when I suggested it might be someone other than myself.

At the moment I feel like I’m trying to manipulate an eight man scull with one oar in the water. To begin with, my mother is in a skilled nursing facility recovering from a broken hip. Being an only child, and with my two kids and their families scattered about and busy, this requires a heavy commitment of time on my part. I have groups and appointments that have been moved around and juggled to the point my day planner looks like a five year old scribbled the entries with a kindergarten pencil.

My house, though not large, continues to distribute dust and crumbs at an alarming pace, and though I am taking a stab at keeping up with this progression, sometimes it feels as though I’m losing the race. The thought has occurred to me to hire someone to clean the house, but this thought is generally overridden once I consult my bank account for available funds to make this happen. Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, though a dainty eater insists on removing each kibble from her bowl and chewing it to shreds over the floor creating a pile of large and small debris suitable for keeping a cat shelter going for several months. Yesterday I stepped on a particularly large chunk and spilled coffee all over my pants trying to right myself before I ended up in a bed next to my mother.

Something I have observed when your schedule starts to blink “overload, overload”, is you begin to do really stupid things. Now, I am the first to admit I often do dumb things as a rule of thumb, but I mean really mind numbing idiocy. Yesterday I had to run to the grocery store after being unable to think of one meal I could pull together with yellow mustard and sour cream. Racing though the aisles I piled on whatever looked good, was two for one, and I remembered I was out of and went through the checkstand. It had begun to rain at a fairly heavy pace when I pushed the cart out the front door. Locating my car I pushed the “open trunk” button on my remote and attempted to do just that. Nothing. Fine, now the remote was broken. Again I pushed a button, this time for the car itself. Nothing. Stupid remote, stupid manufacturer, why is it pouring? Finally I looked inside the car to see an In n Out cup sitting in the cup holder. Hmmmm. The last time I’d had an In n Out burger was a year ago. A light blinked in an otherwise dark chamber in my mind allowing a cognizant thought to emerge. “This is not my car.” Got it.

This vein of stupidity has run through my entire week. It’s like a wicked fairy tapped me on the head casting a spell where 40 IQ points were immediately erased from my intelligence quotient, leaving me with the brain capacity of a domestic turkey. This yet another reason you shouldn’t leave me out in the rain. Duh, and more duh. I put my trash out on Thursday which would have been excellent was it not for the fact that was the trash pick up day at my old house. The new house has trash pick up scheduled for Wednesday mornings. I’m sure the gardener will be pleased to note the clippings from last weeks trimmings are still poking nearly to the top of the compost bin. Sorry. Don’t hate me because I’ve been struck stupid. Hopefully, this will pass.

To add to my prefrontal cortex malfunctions, I have a head cold. This means I either need to abstain from visiting my mother or wear a face mask. If you have ever tried to breathe with one of these masks over your nose when your nasal passages are tighter than Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s abs, you would understand why this option is not at the top of my list. That being said, I have opted to rest in place for the day, binge on old movies, and face the mask tomorrow after two or three dosings of Airborne and some rest. Check please.

On another note, I have to say it was wonderful to see the rain. Thankfully summer in the Sierra Nevadas didn’t dole out it’s usual bounty of sweltering days this year. Summer passed on a somewhat milder note keeping devastating fires off the front page as often and making for more tolerable days outside.

With the rain accompanied by the first dusting of snow in the mountains fall is dropping hints it’s just around the corner. There’s something about autumn that stirs my soul more than any other season of the year. The glorious colors bursting forth on the trees, the rich earthy smell after a good downpour, and my three favorite holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas lining up on the horizon.

Cooking begins to cross my mind this time of year as well, Delicious meaty stews, comforting soups, and the king of the birds (at least to eat) the turkey. Yum and more yum.

As the calendar rolls over to October I will begin digging in the storage shed for the Halloween decorations tucked away in their orange bin. Since I have enough bins to start a department store I have found color coding preferable to spending an afternoon opening one lid after another trying to determine what lies beneath it. Red and green for Christmas, orange for Halloween, well you get the idea.

Monday has arrived on the scene again. The week before me is jam packed so I am gearing up to prepare for it armed with the industrial pack of Airborne for my cold and a mega sized cup of coffee to get my blood moving. Have a great week. Take a chance or two, hug your kids often, say hello to a stranger, and discover something new about yourself.

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Well here I am standing at the year mark since Rick passed away. Seems impossible at times to realize 365 days have passed, yet on particularly difficult days it can feel like so many more. Much has happened, so many changes have taken place. Sometimes when I see my reflection in the mirror it’s as if the outlines of my face have altered and shifted, as though I am still asleep and dreaming.

Was I to encapsulate the first year I would say grief has a way of defining you in those early days. Caught up in a whirlwind of emotions you soar up into the clouds then catapult down over mountains of memories assaulting your mind and clawing at your heart. Then slowly, ever so slowly, the storm subsides. Like the morning after a heavy rain, there is a gentle stillness as the earth absorbs the nourishing water, and animals hesitantly peek out from their dens to see what the day is to bring. Your tears begin to diminish, feelings return to a more tolerable level. Life, once again, begins to stir beneath the surface.

People say odd things to you after someone dies, sometimes insensitive. “Time heals all things”, “he’s in a better place now”, “it was his time”. In retrospect I do not believe they do this out of a lack of empathy, but rather they really do not know what to say. Even though as human beings we are beginning to die with the second breath we take, we still haven’t come to terms with dealing with it. To begin with death remains a mystery. No one, at least as far as I know other than Christ, if this is your belief, has returned to tell us about it since time began. That alone might make it the biggest mystery on earth even than discovering what lies beyond the universe, and don’t even get me started on that.

Even as we avoid death we are drawn to the subject. Stories meant to scare and excite us are often centered around the afterlife. Dracula, zombies, Frankenstein, poltergeist, and on and on and on. Edgar Allen Poe wrote about death as a rule, not an exception. The House of Usher, about a woman entombed while still alive, kept me up for weeks  in high school after I chose it out of the assigned reading list in English. Dark tales of people rising up from the grave or the undead feeding on the hapless townspeople captivate television and movie audiences. The ancient Egyptians erected the great pyramids as an homage to their deceased rulers, going so far as to entomb live servants and pets with their dead masters to accompany them on their journey.

Where do our souls travel when our bodies wear out? Will we join our loved ones when our time here is through? As with many unknowns in our world, these questions linger unanswered as one century folds into the next.

For me, I am struggling to recreate myself as a single woman of a certain age once again. Not that I haven’t been single before, one cannot be married four times and not find themselves single at one time or another. This is the first time, however, I have been totally on my own without the responsibility of children living at home or a roommate to fill a bed in another room. Just me and Miss Boo, the Queen of cats, who though fond of me would never let on she actually needs me around.

When a year or so has passed following the death of a loved one people want you to get over feeling the loss and move on. Death makes us uncomfortable I believe because it shines a light on our own fragility or that of our loved ones. So many times lately I’ve been asked if I’m ready to start dating. You cannot replace a loved one like you would a goldfish that had met a soggy end in your fish tank.

The thought of beginning again building a relationship with someone new is daunting at best. To start at the ground floor learning whether he likes blue cheese or ranch, has anchovies on his pizza, prefers jazz to classic rock, or goes to bed early and gets up late or is a night owl nearly makes me break out in a sweat. It takes years to build the foundation of a strong and lasting partnership, some people never achieve it. I wonder at times if I’ve had my time in the sun. Do I have the energy to bring someone new once again into my world? This remains to be seen I would guess. I do not have the ability to peek into the final chapters of my life. Hopefully someone will come along who I can enjoy a meal with, watch a movie next to or do a little traveling alongside.

I have reached a point where the extreme sadness has eased and I treasure the time I shared with Rick. The memories are the gift he leaves behind and the love he gave me unconditionally always believing I could do whatever I set my mind out to accomplish. If he were standing here I would thank him for the twenty years he shared with me. No one can replicate or take that time away.

I will keep my mind open as I move on alone. Should I find myself loving someone again it does not mean I lose Rick but rather gain someone new and totally unique from him. Can you ever welcome too much love in your life? Looking forward I hope to discover more about myself as each day unfolds. Standing on my own isn’t always easy but I am taking one step, one day at a time.

So I begin a new year full of new hopes and dreams praying this year brings some relief from the strain of the three behind it allowing me to find a little peace. There are unconquered hills to climb, new valleys to explore and paths yet untraveled for me to look forward to. Life will never be a flat line. Always you must deal with disappointment, heartache and unrest but they are balanced out by moments of pure joy, genuine happiness and peaceful contentment. In the end it how you react to what is placed in your way that makes the difference in the quality of your life I believe.

You will be missed, dear Rick, while I light a candle on our one year anniversary apart. I love you. Thank you for all the magic moments, silly laughter, intimate shares late at night, and accepting me for who I am without question. May you too have found peace wherever good souls go.

Ending on a light note, I would like to share the wisdom of a 103 year old helping her 107 year old sister celebrate her birthday on a TV news show. When asked what the secret to a long life she wisely answered, “just don’t die”. There you go. Words to live by. Reply

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When someone you love passes away the fragility of life gets pushed to the forefront. Suddenly you become more aware of how quickly time passes and how fleeting your most precious moments. When Rick, my significant other of twenty years, died of cancer last year this was true for me. When diagnosed, his prognosis was six weeks. Forty-two days, forty-two days for him to get a lifetime in order, say his goodbyes, memorize the rich colors of blue decorating the sky, see the stars come out at night and watch the sun rise in the morning. Chemotherapy and radiation allowed us an extra three months, a gift I will always treasure. There are never enough hours to spare, but each extra day gave us another chance to wipe the slate clean before he left on his journey.

Rick’s passing has heightened my awareness, if you will. Before I may have taken life a little for granted as many of us do. One day folds into the next, we plug in our coffee maker, put on our makeup and muscle through our existence. Often our lives are incredibly busy. With each hour fully accounted for, there is little time left over to pause and admire the new rose blooming on the bush by the front door or to catch the hint of sadness in your teenager’s eyes. Even stopping to breathe deeply and be present in the moment can seem an impossible task while a pile of laundry beckons or a client waits to close an important deal. Yet in the end whether the socks get sorted or the product gets shipped is rendered unimportant when you are faced with writing the final chapter of your book.

Immediately following the death of a family member along with dealing with the overwhelming grief, end of life arrangements, and friends and family coming and going, survivors are expected to take care of all the details involved in day to day living. All this is complicated by coping with what is termed “grief brain” making concentration difficult to achieve and scattered behavior more common than not. I actually came out of the store after doing some grocery shopping and after storing my bags in the trunk I seated myself in the back seat of the car. As I was there alone, this probably would appear odd behavior to the casual observer. Not wanting to confirm myself a complete idiot I looked around as if waiting for someone and waited for the area to clear before hopping into the driver’s seat.

To help me cope with everything swirling around me, I began compiling to-do lists. Some lists were compiled by priority of things that had to be done, while others held ideas for things I hoped to do in the future. Many items on my “have to be done” list I have already accomplished. With Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, at my side I have sold my house and moved to a new rental home. Check. Slowly, I have established new routines revolving around living alone rather than sharing space with someone. Check. This week I joined a gym, something not on my list of favorites but a healthy decision, and begin water aerobics tomorrow. Check, check and check. With each step I have moved a little further away from the life I knew and grown closer to the new life I am creating for myself. I have to say it is game changing.

As this year has unfolded I have found myself searching for the path I want to follow. Standing at a crossroads in my life with so many options possible which way do I go? Certainly I must go forward, but do I veer to the right or to the left?

This period of new growth and exploration I refer to as the “unfolding”. For the person going through it may feel as if they have shed their skin leaving their nerves exposed and raw. Life, as it once was completely changes the moment a loved one ceases to be in it. To expound here, the person passing away ceases to be in it in a physical sense. In my case, I feel Rick will be walking along next to me in spirit always.

For a while, and each person experiences this time frame individually, it seems as though there would never be a day when you will feel “normal” again. As time passes, like all wounds, the rough edges begin to smooth and the sun once again will begin to feel warm and welcoming on your face. Hope returns for a future on some level and unless deeply depressed you begin to explore this new life you are left with.

During this period I began to think about my own life. Though I am definitely looking at the downhill slope there are still, God willing and I don’t get run over by the garbage truck, many years to fill. The choice here would be to sit and feel sorry for myself or find a way to live the most rewarding and happy life I can. I chose the latter. I began to think about what I would like to do with myself. If I have been the one to remain behind it stands to reason this in a way is a gift and I did not want to consider it frivolously.

Again I went to my lists. On my list of exciting adventures I hope yet to do visiting the Grand Canyon, for example, is right up there towards the top. Always I have wanted to see this natural wonder. In spite of numerous trips by car across the U.S. the chance to do so has continued to escape me. Definitely I want to try zip lining, and after a recent trip to Lake Tahoe I have added river rafting down the Truckee River as a must do when next summer rolls around. My son recently went parachuting while on vacation in Santa Cruz. Although this sounds intriguing to me on the surface, I have a feeling if faced with an open door and 15,000 feet of open air space below me I might rethink my enthusiasm, most likely shortly after I wet my pants. We shall see. Though included, jumping out of a plane is definitely hovering (if you will) towards the bottom of the line.

Finding myself heading into my golden years with less gold on hand than loose change, traveling extensively is not in the stars for the moment. If my bank account was representative of my desire to see the world I would be floating lazily across the Mediterranean in a private yacht or dining on trays of succulent meats and cheeses at the Rodostamo Hotel in glorious Corfu. Unfortunately, my budget leans more towards a Motel 6 in Barstow and Taco Bell, but one never knows what the next bend in the road will uncover. Perhaps that pesky winning lottery ticket I never purchase will miraculously come floating through the window? One thing I have learned about my years spent on this earth, is you can never discount anything because life, as most of us are aware, is a capricious host serving up surprises with each passing day.

From each experience good or bad we take with us lessons. It is our choice whether or not to draw from these lessons. No matter what the experience there is something slightly life altering we add to our bag after having lived through both the difficult and the soul elevating times. From this experience I have learned to value today for that is what we have. I have learned to remember to say “I love you” every time I leave someone I care about, to make that phone call to a friend even if you’re busy, and to give when and where you can without hesitation. Make it a great and meaningful day.

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