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Posts Tagged ‘weather’

Outside my window rain is pouring down, in June, in California. This is a big statement. Wow, this weather is really bizarre. It’s not a light sprinkling either, but actual real, heavy, precipitation. I am most impressed. Weirdest thing. A huge crow just catapulted down from my roof. Now he’s walking around my front yard shaking his head. Shocking weather for him too apparently.

Conversely, yesterday was a gorgeous mid eighties early summer day. A friend had offered to help me shape up my yard which of late isn’t wearing it’s happiest face. My landlord is supposedly on the hunt for new gardeners, as the old ones were awful. They were a crew of three. Every two weeks they would swoop down on my yard, and be in and out picking things clean like locust. Once I asked them to weed the bed towards the front and they simply used the weed eater and eliminated all the viable ground cover. One mows, one blows (to me they all blew), and the other one dumps the compostibles in the bin. The one who had the blower, seemed to just blow everything in a corner. When the first breeze kicked up, it was all right back where it had been in the first place. I was taught by my grandmother early on in my development, if you’re going to do a job, do it to the best of your abilities. Was she out in the yard with these guys holding her rolling pin, I have a feeling things might have gotten done right.

Accepting the offer of yard work help, my friend and I got an early start. The first stop we made was to the nursery, along with everyone else within twenty miles, to pick up potting soil and some additional plants. I didn’t want to get my usual hefty supply of annuals, because the water situation is such here in California, I was afraid wouldn’t be able to keep them alive. It’s amazing how quickly the tab adds up when you start piling gardening supplies in a cart. Whew. I mortgaged the farm, and had to sign Boo, the Queen of Cats, into indentured servitude working in the fields for a couple of months. Don’t pity her, trust me, the feline could use the exercise. I didn’t need to get much really in the way of plants, as I had a lot of full pots waiting for repotting already in the yard sent for my mother’s passing. People were kind enough to send some lovely plants which definitely needed some attention. I’m so proud the enormous orchid sent by my dad’s family is still alive and thriving. Usually, they are down to bare limbs by this time under my care. Every time I walk by it and see all the wonderful blooms, I say, “you’re welcome”.

The mercury retrograde was thankfully over Friday afternoon, and a miserable one it was. I could almost feel the energy lighten and lift as it was on it’s way out. Amazing how the alignment of the planets can effect we minuscule beings inhabiting this lovely piece of the universe. For those of you scratching your heads going retro what? A mercury retrograde is when the planet Mercury appears to be taking a backward tour in the sky. The general state of affairs thought to be present during a retrograde event is electronics breaking down, emotions running high or low, and general chaos prevailing. In order to come out unscathed, believers suggest you enter such a phase prepared. Back up your computers, make sure you have air in your car tires, etc., etc., and remember to breathe, and then breathe some more. There is also a plus side. A retrograde can be a time of reflection and introspective thinking. For me, I’d rather be sailing. I’ve done enough reflective thinking over the past four years and my coffers are full. Let’s get some air in those sails and get out on the Bay instead, I say.

So, with the retrograde at our backs, I felt it was a safe and positive time to get busy in my garden. Gloves and sun hats in place, we took out our bags of soil, gardening tools and hoses, and dug happily in the soil for three hours. There is something positively rejuvenating about planting that revitalizes my soul. Perhaps it serves to reconnect us with our beginnings. My friend, a person who enjoys conversations with every living creature from ground squirrel to robin when we walk together once a week, is truly a human who aligns herself beautifully with the earth. Like a puppy or small child, she plopped herself down soundly on her behind in the wet grass and had at it with plants scattered all around us. As to me, I managed to get an equal amount of dirt on myself as I did in the pots I was working with so a good time was had by all.

I was glad to get the garden behind me. The next few weeks look hectic in my world. As I said in my previous blog, my calendar has felt a bit tight lately. I seem to be bouncing along like an out of control ball rolling down a steep hill. Work will be on the agenda as well I suspect pretty soon so that should make things even more interesting when it comes to keeping up with my schedule. Last week I had something, or several somethings penciled in each and every day. Tuesday is always a busy day for me, and there were four notations under that day. Whew. I made it to three. Yesterday, while digging in the dirt I thought of a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in a while, and was reminded of a lunch date we had made over the phone several weeks ago. Oh-oh. Opening my calendar, sure enough her name popped up under Tuesday last with a notation “Lunch with…… at…….”. Hmmmmm. According to my notes, were supposed to meet at a favorite restaurant at 11:30. My bad. I called her number, already feeling the humble pie repeating itself I knew I was going to have to eat. She answered sweetly, “thanks for ditching me”. Somehow, though I heard a sugary tone, I didn’t feel the sweetness oozing through my end of the phone. I asked why she hadn’t called me when I didn’t show up. She politely explained, because she was upset. Oh. Apologizing, I explained how busy, busy I have been, which sounded lame even to me as I was saying it. Apparently, she had waited thirty minutes before ordering and eating alone. Sorry. Truth is, no matter how busy we are, we tend to make room for, and remember, what is important to us.

I try to do my best for my friends. Obviously, I don’t always rise to the bar. My friends are really the foundation of my life these days, and sweet Boo, the Queen of Cats. I am also exploring the newest addition to my world in the new man I am learning about. This is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. A new relationship is so full of highs and lows it makes West Virginia look like flatland. Sometimes I want to run, but mostly I am curious about the new being I am observing across the table from me fairly often over the past several months. It is fun to get to know new things about him, and share old things about me, which are new to him. Where this will lead I have no idea, but for today it is something I am interested in seeing through to it’s natural end, wherever that might be.

Well, I am off for lunch with a friend on this surprising rainy day. Happy Sunday to you. Finish that book, call a friend, or put your feet up, find a great movie and push “play”.

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The flood gates have opened, and rain is pouring down in buckets full outside my window. This is a cold rain, and it’s brought along a playmate, a capricious wind. My yard is strewn with leaves and debris. My snowmen once decorating the patio in the back yard, are now standing on their heads pushed up against the fence. You could leave the wind at home, but I do love the rain. Even though this is quite an intense storm, we surely need it out here on the west coast and I’m glad to see it streaming down the pane.

When Rick was alive, dreary stormy weather such as today severely affected his mood. Speaking for myself, I find rainy days exhilarating. Particularly when I’m tucked inside cozy and warm working on projects such as I am today. Rick viewed overcast skies as dark and foreboding giving him a closed off feeling. Often, he said he felt claustrophobic on stormy days. When it became more than just an annoyance, we consulted his primary care physician who diagnosed Rick with seasonal depression disorder. It was suggested we order a special light to increase Rick’s levels of melatonin. So, on rainy days while I would be dancing and singing in the kitchen, Rick would be sitting in his recliner with a huge bulb focused on his head wishing it would all go away. We are so different and individual we humans. Each of us cut out of the same cloth, but woven with different colored threads making varied patterns and designs. I wonder sometimes we can all be considered brothers and sisters of the same species. Weather of all sorts could have been more tolerable for me coming from Nova Scotia, where inclement weather is not unfamiliar. Rick was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. There weather didn’t vary vastly as I understand it, ranging from hot to somewhat less hot, according to the time of year you were in. Cairo typically measures less than an inch of rain annually, compared to Halifax which comes in at 50 plus inches. A bit of a climatic variance to say the least. I often think could two less like people have possibly have come together? It’s a question that remains unanswered.

I have spoken before about my “wishcraft” as Rick used to call it. Simply put, I imagine something I need or wish would occur, and voila, like magic, it materializes. He was always asking why I couldn’t use what he referred to as my super power to purchase a winning lottery ticket. Last week I was wishing I had a new refrigerator. The one provided by my landlords has a relatively small freezer, of which I use every inch of available space. Also, there is no ice maker so in order to make ice, cumbersome ice trays take up a quarter of the space. I secretly suspect it was probably put here when the house was built in the early 1930’s. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not complaining. Well maybe I am, just a little. At the time I was wishing for a new appliance, I was really only wishing only for enough room for my freezing hands to stuff my Costco order in the existing one. Night before last, I woke up to what sounded like a buzz saw running in the kitchen. “What now” said my tired mind? Rolling slowly out of bed, I moved my shuffling feet in the direction of the annoying sound. Turning on the light, on inspection, it appeared to be coming from the refrigerator. Great. Just bought $200 worth of groceries and it’s a Saturday night. Purrrrrrfect. Once again, Murphy was having his way with me. Sigh. Opening the freezer door, the fan was obviously running on high. Beads of water had begun to hang down from the roof of the compartment. “Oh no! The dreaded unscheduled DEFROST.” Wow. For two hours this went on, and then as quickly as it started, quiet once again returned to the kingdom. The freezer began to hum softly, and nothing appeared to have thawed. Crisis averted. My scallops would live to be baked another day. Thank you Amana gods for your help.

Yesterday, I called my landlord and told him what had happened. After examining the patient, he said though not gone yet, the old girl was definitely on her way out. Later, he called to let me know a replacement had been ordered, but due to supply chain issues it would take a couple of weeks. Yay. After I hung up, I remembered my wishful thinking and thanked the universe for once again coming through.

Again, the witchcraft came into play this morning. Yesterday, I was reviewing the damage I have done to my bank balance this Christmas. I don’t usually spend like this on gifts, but this year it felt so good to me to buy for those I love, I just jumped in with both feet. Damn the torpedoes, and all that rot. I knew it would put a wrinkle in my savings but my “what the heck”, attitude kicked into gear as I pulled my credit card out with joyous abandon and stuck it in the slots around town. So, this morning I noticed my mail was already in the box, which is unusual. Perhaps this was because it is such a blustery day. Maybe the mailman wanted to get it done early so he could go home, put his feet up, and enjoy a hot beverage. He’s going to need one. I saw him walking by a while ago, the strong wind pushing back the flaps of his jacket, and shorts covering only half his legs. People in California would wear shorts in a blizzard, I swear. Especially men, no offense to those of the gruffer set reading. Really? It’s in the mid forties outside. Whew. Where is your mother? At any rate, I gathered my mail and in one envelope I discovered a stimulus check that will take a lot of the wind out of my Christmas debt, while also allowing me to breathe a lovely sigh of relief. All is right with the world this morning. Breathe in, breathe out. Ahhhhhh.

I am sewing a blanket for Zeppelin, the youngest of our clan. I will post a picture of it when I’ done if I think of it. I think it’s pretty special, and I hope he does. I have tried to make blankets for most of my kids over the years but haven’t always made it. Will have to make it up to those I missed when they are old enough to have kids of their own if I’m still planting roses and not serving as their fertilizer by the time this occurs.

There are still two packages that have to be mailed. Not only is everything in the store going up in the price, it now costs nearly as much, sometimes more, to mail the items. I paid $27.00 last week to mail an envelope 2-day delivery to Texas. Would have been cheaper to book a flight and take it there myself, and I could have picked up some great Mexican food in San Antonio while there. Over the weekend, I hit some of the stores at the mall. For the first time, it really resonated how much prices have gone up. Amazing. I’m not employed anymore, at least not full time. Feel sorry for those trying to get by. The minimum wage goes up, and then prices rise and completely nullify the benefits. Makes it hard to get ahead.

On that bit of whine, I’ll sign off for today. Downton Abbey awaits me. I’m still on season one and am binging like a professional. Have a wonderful day and stay dry, safe, and at least socially acceptably sane such as I do. Later.

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Baby it’s cold outside this morning. Brrrrr. I forgot to take the trash to the curb last night, so had to rush out early to get it out there before the truck came by. The gardeners, such as they are, filled the compostable bin to the brim with leaves, then it rained. Sigh. The bin felt like it weighed about two hundred pounds. I’m not a very big being, as I’ve mentioned previously, so it took a serious amount of huffing, puffing, and general physical prowess to wrestle the darn thing down the driveway. Such things you begin to notice, when you lose the man in your life. Some chores you just need a man to help you with. Hard for me to admit here because I like to think I am the mistress of my own domain, but true is true. I do miss my man.

Last week I had to break down boxes, which was a job Dale always took care of for me. He had some sort of handy dandy tool (a box cutter I would suppose), that broke down the cardboard nicely. I had an old steak knife, not nearly as handy dandy. I remember the first time I was single, many moons ago, the only tool I had in my toolbox was a kitchen knife. I swear I could have built a Mars landing craft with that dull old blade. Seriously. That knife was used to take screws off the bottom of the vacuum, assemble furniture, ward off marauders, you name it. I must admit I had to add a Phillips head screwdriver and a hammer to the mix to get the job done effectively after a while, but until I got married again, those three tools served me well.

I took a swing at the gardeners in my first paragraph, because using the term to describe the three men who show up in my yard ever other week really is overreach. They swoop down like buzzards on a fresh carcass, blow the leaves off the yard into a pile by the fence which returns as soon as the wind picks up to form it’s original blanket on my lawn. They cut an uneven swath over the front and back areas of green and are in and out in less than fifteen minutes. Once I asked them to trim the weeds in the front and when I went out to see what they had done there wasn’t a plant standing in my garden. Pitiful. They are my landlords choice. Since I have little control other than constructive input, I deal with them, but never again asked them to trim the weeds.

The yard is a really nice yard, have to say. The back yard is large, with a small cement patio and deck. There are lovely trees placed here and there about the property providing much needed shade during the summer. Unfortunately, the two large shade trees in the back yard were cut down by PG&E because they were interfering with the power lines. I miss the lovely umbrella they provided during the hot summer months, but certainly don’t want anything resembling kindling that close to my little house.

Yesterday I went with a friend to visit a psychic. I see you shaking your head. I went after Rick passed away as well. This lady appears to have an actual gift for seeing beyond our normal borders. I told her nothing and provided no useful information for her to build on. Letting her lean on her own resources, she once again provided a really interesting reading for my yankee dollars. For those of you who view this as total nonsense or a sort of shell game, I say “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”. Not all professing to have such a gift actually do, of course. As with everything, there are those who are just in it to relieve you of your money. This lady always delivers, not only on being spot on on so many things she has to say but on the entertainment value. Both she and the lady who writes a horoscope I read at the beginning of each month are saying the coming year is going to be a stellar one. “Yay”, says I. I am really ready to get in line for something uplifting and soul changing. Sign me up, please and don’t hold the mayo.

I am dragging a bit this morning. Had a restless night. Sometimes my dreams are soooooo real and decidedly unsettling. Perhaps this is the side effect of an overly active mind. Last night I was in a big city. I somehow perceived it as San Francisco, though it looked nothing like my favorite California city. First, I was lost in an office building. I couldn’t seem to get out of the elevator, at one point zooming up to the penthouse where the occupants weren’t particularly pleased to find me there. When I finally did get off in the lobby, I had no idea what street I was on, and couldn’t remember where on earth I’d parked my car. Apparently, I finally located it because next I was speeding down dark and unfamiliar streets with no idea where I was going or how to get home. Next, I was in a massive shopping mall. While struggling to find an exit, I apparently won a new house filled with furniture. I stood in front of a crowd in the center of the mall with a family I did not recognize to receive my bounty. I remember willing myself to wake up. When I did, I was in a bog for an hour before I again felt familiar with my surroundings. What a strange mind I have. Sometimes it worries me. Perhaps someone will take the time to study it when I’m no longer using it and let me know what’s up with that. Was I to analyze it, employing no dream analyzing skills whatsoever, I could see easily I’m feeling a bit lost and not sure where to go from here. Who the strange family was standing in the mall with me, is your best guess.

I am trying to get my outside errands done today, and visit with my mom tomorrow, before we finally are to be entertaining some winter weather here in Northern California. For those of you born with ski poles in your hands this will be welcome news. For me, I will be tucked inside with my tree lights glowing in the background, watching my Christmas movies, downing an eggnog latte and wrapping presents.

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Since I got up, rain has been steadily falling. I do love rainy days. Growing up in Nova Scotia, scruffy overcast skies were not an unfamiliar sight to me. On blustery days such as today, waves crashed angrily against the craggy shores of the province and gray skies were reflected in the dark churning waters below. There was an element of excitement to watching the clouds move in, I always found exciting. The raw power of nature, in particular the ocean, has drawn me to it as far back as I can remember. When the forces of nature come to bear, we are made small. Outbursts manifest themselves in many forms. Vengeful, wind driven tornadoes, that rip and tear at the landscape. Swirling tubes of destruction tossing buildings to and fro as if they were leaves whisked up an afternoon breeze. Tsunamis formed by tremors beneath the sea creating huge surges of water pushing towards the shore. Waves encroaching on our land masses, hungrily sucking up everything in their way. Violent earthquakes rending gaping crevices in the earth’s face, capable of reducing tall skyscrapers to their knees. Never should you underestimate the sheer strength of Mother Nature when she is dead set on unleashing her havoc.

Having lived all over the U.S. at one time or another I’ve experienced a lot of different climates each different from the rest. While living in Arkansas, for example, tornado warnings popped up regularly on the television screen. Migrating there from California I was surprised to find rain fell during the summer months, a phenomenon rarely experienced living on the west coast. Sunny days in California rarely yielded to even as much as the lightest dusting of rain, unless it was overflow from a gyrating lawn sprinkler. The day I arrived in Arkansas for the first time, it was mid July. My husband at the time, David, and I were moving to Ashdown for a job at a lumber mill expected to last about a year and a half. David was a pipe fitter by trade. We were considered construction bums, if you will. Craftsmen who traveled from job to job, filling a need as it arose. It was hot that day. Hot, hot, hot. The temperature, at least according to the weather girl on the morning news, would be stretching upwards towards 108. Factor in humidity, around 95%, and trust me it felt far hotter.

My first impression of the state was of the prolific and vibrantly green vegetation. Everywhere you looked there was lush foliage. Much of what I was seeing, I was told, was Kudzu. Kudzu had overrun that part of the world at the time, crawling like the slinking vine it was over anything and everything standing in its way. About an hour after crossing the border from Oklahoma into Arkansas, we decided to stop for lunch. Signs posted along the road advertised a diner serving “Down Home Food” coming up in the next town. Following the signs we pulled into the parking lot of a small establishment with a much larger sign announcing “Diner This Way” blinking above an arrow pointing towards the front door. I might have figured out how to get inside without such explicit instructions, but I appreciated the effort taken. If we were hoping for a little cool air once inside, we were to be disappointed. Warm stale air combined with the smell of cooking oil swept over us as we walked through the door. A sweating swamp cooler hummed behind the reception area and three ceiling fans rotated in the center of the room, all seeming to have little effect. To the right as you entered, was a long line of red vinyl stools, customers occupying about half of them. To the left of the counter were booths of varying sizes arranged next to the bank of windows facing the street. A glass tower stood by the reception desk with tiers of partially cut pies resting inside. A fly lazily buzzed around the lemon meringue giving me an excellent reason to pass on dessert. A tall, thin waitress with a folded hanky pinned on the front of her uniform that read “Betty Lynn” showed us to the one remaining unoccupied booth. Handing us two well loved plastic covered menus, I asked for an glass of iced tea, heavy on the ice. Before she went off to greet the next customer she brought us up to speed on the specials of the day recommending the cheeseburgers. Once two cheeseburgers with fries had been ordered, David excused himself to find the men’s room. Looking around, I felt as if we had stepped back twenty years. Felix the cats protruding eyes and tail moved back and forth ticking off the minutes on the back wall. Album covers covered the rest of the wall featuring artists like Hank Williams, Minnie Pearl and Buck Owens. A large window broke up the wall between the albums and the busing station behind which the cooks could be seen moving back and forth across the grill. At each booth, and equally spaced along the counter there were miniature jukeboxes, one tuned to Elvis singing “Love Me Tender”.

Betty Lynn returned to the table to place a tall sweating glass of tea with a wedge of lemon drooped over it’s lip in front of me. Sipping thirstily on the straw, when the liquid hit my taste buds they dispatched an immediate message to my brain SWEET. The tea was so sugary, the texture more resembled syrup. I signaled Betty Lynn and asked if I could have unsweetened tea. She eyed me suspiciously, saying “you’re not from around here are you”? Why no, does it show? Apparently the only iced tea they had was sweet tea, so I opted for ice water and we moved on. B.L. was a little less friendly after that.

David having returned from the restroom seemed to find all this amusing. I had a feeling this was to be only the tip of the iceberg of the experiences I was to have south of the Mason-Dixon line. While we were putting away what turned out to be to Betty Lynn’s credit, “one delicious burger”, the sky outside shifted from bright blue to menacingly black. Several strong claps of thunder shook the building before the sky opened up and released a downpour so intense the plummeting drops actually hit the pavement then ricocheted back on themselves. People in the parking lot covered their heads and ran for cover. Within minutes, the entire parking lot surface was inundated with water so brown it appeared to be milk chocolate. Then, as suddenly as it began, the rain stopped, the sun came out from behind the clouds, and steam began to rise from the puddles. Steam rose from the cars, the roofs of the buildings, I’m telling you, it was a gen-u-ine steam fest. Can you say sauna boys and girls? No one seemed to notice the dramatic shift in climate but me. David said for the locals, this was simply another day in the neighborhood. Oh. “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto”.

Walking back out into the blast furnace outside after paying for our meal, the pungent smell of wet and rotting vegetation lay heavy in the air. Already feeling overheated, I hopped in the car planting my bare legs directly on the sizzling grill that once had served as my car seat. I swear, I smelled bacon cooking. Oink. Assured by David once again I would acclimate to the heat and humidity once I lived there for awhile, I gently peeled my legs off the leather seats and wondered if there would end up being any truth in that statement. This too shall come to be revealed.

I shall continue my weather report in my next post. For now I want to take a harsh swing right and look at the mess our country is in at the moment. What a week! For someone like me who rarely plants in front of the television for hours, I believe I actually have eye strain from switching back and forth between CNN and the other news channels. There are so many applicable adjectives here. Ummmm, unbelievable, unreal, unamerican, unacceptable, but you can’t really include unexpected. People surprise me when they are shocked. The situation has been escalating one bad act at a time. Smoke signals have been rising up from the mother ship for the last four years. I hope everyone involved in this, what was truly an attempted coup of our democracy, gets prosecuted. I won’t say more. And by the way, where were the police? I’m surprised they didn’t escort them in and offer them coffee. We’re all entitled to believe what we choose, which is the foundation on which this democracy was built on to begin with. However, I will finish with saying, “enough is enough”. I don’t care which side you lean towards, this isn’t acceptable ever. This goes way beyond annoying self-serving narcissistic behavior. Let’s do the right thing for the right reasons. The rats are deserting the sinking ship as we watch all this unfold. Allegiances are switching faster than playing cards in a magicians hand. Too late people, we’ve already seen who you are. The following quote couldn’t be more apt for the situation in the United States at the moment.

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Stay safe. Back to Arkansas in my next post. Again, thanks for stopping by.

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GRR 2013 Pic 14 - GB

Every third Friday, give or take, my cousin in British Columbia and I spend about an hour on phone catching up on what’s happening in our lives. Though we have never actually met in person, it is uncanny the similarities we find in each other which must have come with our DNA. Her dad was my father’s older brother. I never knew my dad. He knew me, but only for the first year of my life. At twenty-five he died from asphyxiation leaving my mother a young widow with me to raise. This is something my mother never really got over, I believe, as he (according to her) was the love of his life.


I know little really about my father’s family. The players are fairly clear to me, at least the cast that was in place when I arrived on the scene. There were four brothers and one sister. Originally, there had been five boys, but the youngest died of a ruptured appendix at the age of four. I remember my paternal grandmother well, but never knew my grandfather who died of a brain tumor at forty. Each of the children had offspring who, in turn, had children of their own. I would need a playbill to keep track of all the names involved now and would recognize few of the faces. The history of that side of my family comes to me in dribs and drabs. What I have gleaned has been interesting so I hope to continue to fill in the gaps as I get to know them better.

On my mother’s side my cousin, mother’s oldest sister’s eldest, Mary Louise, married Howard. Howard, has a keen interest in genealogy. Some years ago he devoted a sizable amount of time delving into my mother’s people, tracing them back as far as the paper trail would allow. Fascinating to follow the chain of events leading up to the time I decided to pop in and say hello. According to the records our clan even shared some blood with Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church. None of us are Mormon in this generation, as far as I know, but interesting nonetheless. Years back I read “The Twenty-Seventh Wife”, the story of Brigham Young’s twenty-seventh wife, Ann Eliza Webb. Ann Eliza was to be one of fifty-five wives Young took as his own, and later in her life became a strong critic of polygamy and a staunch supporter of women’s rights. I would have been right there marching next to her when it came to polygamy. One mate is enough of a challenge, but multiple, no way.

In some ways we’re all related. “The Brotherhood of Man”, is perhaps a good way to put it, though women seem excluded from that phrase. This is not new news to those of us of the gentler sex. Wouldn’t be the first time we didn’t get top billing to our male counterparts and won’t be the last I’m sure. A single seed populated the world or however you view it. Truth is no matter what your beliefs we had to start somewhere. We didn’t just all appear in unison and begin reproducing. Ah well, heavy thoughts for a Thursday. When I start getting deep into philosophy my mind takes off on so many side roads I can’t keep up with it.

Fires certainly are the talk everywhere in California, and the extreme weather across the country for that matter. Really it is the entire west coast that is burning not only us. Day before yesterday the sky got so incredibly dark early afternoon we had to turn lights on. People in the Bay Area woke up to dark orange skies yesterday and what a friend described as apocalyptical landscapes such as have never been seen before. I texted a friend and said, “should an alien spacecraft land in the middle of my street, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least”. She replied, “me too”. We’re like an over loved martini, both shaken and stirred. Many friends in my old neighborhood in Oroville, California are biding their time with families or at local motels waiting for the firestorm to pass and to get the signal from the fire department they can return to whatever might be waiting for them at home. Wow. If I could so you could see it, I would bring my hands next to my head and signal “mind blown”.

To explain how it feels to wake up with this uncertainty every day, I would liken it to what I imagine people living in war torn countries must experience. Sitting in their homes each day waiting for another bomb to fall and desecrate their neighborhoods or steal a loved one from them. I know for me I’m edgy and not sleeping well. I have several friends in Grass Valley where I moved from two years ago, who just got their power restored after two days without energy. One lady is in her eighties, lives alone, and just lost a son to cancer. I offered to come get her or for her to come here but she chose to stay in her home. She called yesterday to say she wished she’d accepted my offer. Sitting there in the dark, alone, wondering if her street would be next to fall turned out to be a lot to manage. The strain, even if you’re tough like she is, takes it toll when applied liberally day after day.

People in states like Colorado are going up and down the thermometer like a thrill ride at the local amusement park. One day it is sizzling and the next snowing. Bizarre, and more bizarre. Check please.

Yesterday I had an appointment at the ENT’s office for a sinus exam. I arrived at the appointed time and after providing the usual information to the receptionist was asked to wait in the deserted waiting room. K. About an hour later still sitting by myself the nurse came and got me. Well, full disclosure, there was a fish tank and by the time my name was called the angel fish and I were on a first name basis. Apologizing for the long wait, the nurse showed me to an exam room. It seemed the power had been out causing confusion in the office. They were trying to get back on the horse but the horse wasn’t cooperating. After providing more detailed information about my sinus situation, she left me to wait for the doctor. Twenty minutes later he arrived wearing both a mask and a face shield. Again he apologized for keeping me waiting. I said, “no problem”. Truth was it was becoming a bit of a problem because it was getting close to feeding time at my house. The natives in my digestive system were beginning to get restless and I had begun to create unique recipes using cotton balls and antibacterial jelly.

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After doing an exam with the tools on the tray next to him, he announced he was going to scope me. Oh-oh. Didn’t like the sound of that. I’ve never been scoped anywhere on my body that left me wanting to sign up to have it done again. Leaving the room, he reappeared shortly with the instrument of torture. Mama. It looked like something you’d blow up an inner tube with. Pulling on headpiece with a light attached he sat on the stool. Just as he was about to look into my nether regions, the lights went out in the room. “Thank you”, I whispered quietly. Apologizing once more, he said we would have to pass on the scoping for the day. I tried to look disappointed, but even I don’t have the acting chops to make that believable. He then said, “God, I hate this year. This has been the worst year ever, hasn’t it?” I think he realized at that point perhaps this wasn’t the most professional conversation to be having with a new patient so he quickly put his doctor face back on. “I hear ya, Doc”, I wanted to say. “Sucks to be us right now and I’m sure it sucks to be a physician”. I had to fight the urge to give the man a hug. Can’t hug these days either for several reasons. One, you could either get the virus or transmit it and two, you could get sued for sexual harassment. Ah well, I sent him a spiritual hug. Think that’s still okay. If not please don’t let me in on it.

So, with several prescriptions to add to my repertoire we parted. I walked down the long dark hall of the second floor of the building and found myself remembering when life was normal. Sigh. I began to hum as I walked out into the smoky courtyard. You have to remember to sing in the lifeboat, or so they say.

Almost Friday. Next week a clean piece of paper. Stay safe.


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Well Labor Day weekend, historically summer’s last harrah before handing the baton to fall, has been laid to rest. Boy, am I enthusiastic about seeing autumn roll in this year. My weary mind longs for the glorious fall plumage to begin to decorate the trees, to cross a yard piled high with crunchy leaves, and to breathe in the crisp mornings perfectly suited for an early walk. Ahhhhhh.

Summer is starting to show up accompanied by a feeling of dread for little old me. Friday, the local fire department left yet another warning message on my phone extreme fire danger was moving into the northern California area over the holiday weekend along with it the potential for things to get ugly. I kind of thought with the fires still burning from the intense heat and lightning storm of several weeks ago, they were already ugly. The smoke had only began to clear from that situation but two days before Friday’s message and now new smoke was moving in from the fire down by Yosemite. Sigh.

In truth I would relocate at this juncture in my life, if not for the fact my loved ones are firmly entrenched in the California lifestyle. Though I’ve thrown out several lures on the subject of moving to another state, they’re not showing any signs of nibbling at the bait thus far. Theoretically, if I moved, I could fly back and forth from wherever I relocated whenever I chose. My mom is here though. That being said, moving her is out of the question. Where she is, you will find me, and I hope that I will have her with me for many more years. Also, flying does get expensive, and the thought of tucking in with a bunch of strangers in close quarters breathing recirculated air really doesn’t do anything for me at the moment. Add to the pot, moving to this house was my 39th move in a lifetime. The thought of packing it all up again and finding yet another place to hang my hat is daunting, particularly with the world so upside down.

My refrigerator and freezer are packed. This usually is a signal to the universe to leave me without power in 108 degree heat. Last year I tossed the entire contents of my refrigerator twice. PG&E has turned off the lights in certain high risk communities in twenty counties. Thankfully, we are not on the list this time. I am also feeling thankful I don’t own a restaurant anymore. The stress of owning that type of business is high on any given day, but with Covid concerns and all the weather issues plaguing California in 2020, their stress levels must be off the charts. I noticed people eating at a patio dining area yesterday in 108 degree heat. Whew. You could save money and cook the bacon at the table. Even though we have electricity, we are still under a high fire danger warning because of the strong winds accompanying the low moving in. Lately it feels like we have three days of chaos followed by three days of calm. It’s like a steady pattern. All I can do is allow the days to unfold, knowing someone or something far grander than myself is watching out for me and I am safe. This, at least, is how I handle it in order to remain sane (or as sane as I get). Thankfully, a dear friend came to spend the weekend so at least I had company to keep my mind occupied.

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Relocating is not anything new for me. I relocated the first time from Canada when in fourth grade. Though having lived in the U.S. since the age of nine, I have continued to maintain my Canadian citizenship. There is a sense of home that washes over me when I think of Nova Scotia, so I keep my green card current in case I’m called on to use it. Not that I don’t love living in the United States, I absolutely do. However, I have decided when I do apply for my citizenship, which will be post-Covid hopefully within the next year or so, I will get dual so I can straddle the border. Then I can honor my Canadian heritage while being able to vote and live and fully contribute in the U.S. My mother got her U.S. citizenship many moons ago. This leaves me the last man standing (or woman if you will) who can still be sent home in the back of a pickup truck should I do something horrendous to upset the powers that be.

I was surprised to find the fees for getting U.S. citizenship run around $725.00. I don’t know why I was surprised to be honest, the government usually exacts its pound of flesh. I guess I felt that amount might be considered a hefty sum for someone migrating here who perhaps doesn’t have access to a lot of funds. Aside from the fees, applicants must pass a test on U.S. history. I’m not too concerned about passing this. I have heard it is fairly basic. Mother never went to a U.S. school, being an adult when she arrived here, yet she passed with flying colors (red, white and blue to be exact). When she was studying for the test, I asked her the name of the first president of the United States. She answered proudly, “Everyone knows that, it was Abraham Lincoln”. Hmmmm. I don’t believe Lincoln even knew that, Mama, and I’m sure Washington might have been a little put off by the notion as well, but there you go.

Tests don’t bother me. Truth be told, I rather enjoy the challenge of taking an exam that causes my brain to work up a sweat. As a kid I loved to open a book. Up until my junior year, I was an excellent student. A lot of things happened in my personal life that summer between tenth and eleventh grade. Being a teenager was confusing enough without other unsettling outside influences circling around to distract my attention. My freshman and sophomore years went smoothly enough for me. A lot of the faces I’d gone to middle school with now sat behind the desks in my high school classrooms. Aside from an active social life, I involved myself in the Art Club and was on the drill team. Go Colts. My mother remarried the summer between tenth and eleventh grade. This was not a particularly joyous occasion for me. My first stepfather had been a major putz, and I didn’t hold out much hope this second one was going to get much higher marks. Mom and “dad” bought a house soon after the nuptials in an adjacent city, necessitating a move out of my school district. Unable to get an intradistrict transfer to allow me to remain at my old school, at the end of the summer, mother enrolled me in a new high school. The new school was totally unfamiliar territory. Being sixteen is an awkward age, or it was for me. On the first day of school, fraught with insecurities I scanned the mass of students not recognizing one familiar face. I felt like a sea lion set adrift in an ocean of sharks. With no siblings or friends to lean on, that year began and ended on a decidedly sour note. By the time I reached the semester break, it became obvious by my report card and my attitude, the transition was not going well. Mother would drop me off at school on her way to work. I would wave goodbye and walk across campus exiting through a gate on the other side. Rarely did I show up for class. Always before nearly a straight A student, my grades dropped so dramatically I was called into the Dean’s Office for a general grilling by the Dean of Girls. Most of the “Please Excuse the Absence” hand written notes in the chunky file folder open in front of her had been written in my hand. Once that was established a call was made to my parents. Fine.

Like most teens, I assumed I’d already gleaned most of the knowledge available on the planet so opening another book seemed to be a rather futile endeavor. I’m not proud to say, I dropped out of school that year. Being sixteen at the time, I was old enough to make this decision with my parent’s permission. I didn’t say I was wise enough, I was not wise in the least. I simply had earned enough candles on my cake to legally allow me to do some really stupid stuff. I took advantage of that fact quite often during those times. The only reason my mother allowed this at all was she didn’t know what else to do with me other than attend class with me and duct tape me to the chair. To be fair to myself, there were a lot of mitigating circumstances leading up to this great act of defiance, but the decision was mine and I own it to this day. As usual, I didn’t think the book through to it’s natural conclusion. In my immature logic I would go to the beach, loll about in the pool in our back yard, and hang out with my old friends. Problem being, my old friends were in school and the weather was cooling so the pool was far less inviting. After three months of slothing about the house eating everything I had baked out of desperation for any activity, it donned on me life was moving forward without me. Not only was I falling behind, but that behind was growing larger by leaps and bounds each passing day. I had packed twenty pounds on it with the help of junk food and inactivity. Sigh.

I look back at that realization with some pride actually. Being able to analyze what I was doing realistically, comprehend it was taking me nowhere, and reverse course was an accomplishment. Always I have been a person quick to make decisions and this one was also made without much deliberation. After speaking to my parents, it was decided I would go to summer school and pick up some credits. My mother got me into yet another high school where they would allow me to attend out of district. I began my senior year taking half the junior classes I needed to make up with the other half filled in by senior classes. Part of the lesson learned, was at the end of the year while the rest of the class donned their caps and gowns and received their diplomas, I sat in the visitors seats and watched but was not allowed to participate. When everyone piled into limos for a fun “senior night” or went on “senior ditch day” I was home studying. Following “graduation”, or my Readers Digest version of it, I took correspondence courses to make up the rest of the units I was missing. When I completed the final classes, I drove into Los Angeles by myself to take the G.E.D. exam which I tidily aced. Thank you, thank you very much.

I think of this episode in my life now as so many kids are having to learn remotely, missing out on what the school experience has to offer. Like me, it must seem like part of a year carved out of their lives that can never be retrieved only for them it is not a choice. Life is always in a state of flux. One thing I do know is nothing lasts forever, and change is as integral a part of living as breathing, birth and death.

The following fall I enrolled in junior college with Computer Science as my major. However, there was a lot for life to teach me with all those experiences. Sometimes, particularly with me, I have to bash my head against the wall ten times before the message finally sinks into my brain.

So, today I shall start with a moment of gratefulness. I have lights, a roof over my head, unspoiled food in my refrigerator, and I am safe. I think often of the street people stuck outside with no option but to endure whatever Mother Nature throws in their direction. Have a safe day and remember to look around you and be thankful for the haves and not the have nots.

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Finally an end to a three day siege in the dark here in Northern California. Sigh. PG&E in it’s infinite wisdom decided the need has arisen to once again to shut down our electrical supply in deference to predicted winds and the parched undergrowth prevalent in our area this time of year. Perhaps if they had actually maintained their lines in a proper manner over the years, or possibly modeled our electrical system after those overseas with the wiring underground, we wouldn’t be forced to do this every time there is such a weather event.

My power went off around 3 am Tuesday morning which is why I woke up at precisely 3:05 with a rather plump white cat draped across my face. Boo is not a fan of anything not written precisely in the script, and weather of any kind other than sunny and warm, seems to set her tail on fire.

Murphy’s law in full force, I decided last weekend to do what I call “big shopping” at the grocery store. Since Rick passed away I tend to shop in smaller increments but felt it was time to stock up. As usual, my timing is right on the money. Money being the optimum word here as I was unable to save 80% of what was in my refrigerator due to the fact every available source for ice was sold out in the area.

All appliances unavailable for use at the house, I ventured out early Tuesday in search of a much needed cup of coffee. After waiting in lines at intersections with lights not working, and hitting all local coffee providers, I found no place open to buy a cup of Joe. A girl has gotta have her caffeine, so I actually merged on the freeway and traveled twenty miles south locating a McDonald’s with lights on and a line circling the building. Pulling in line behind the last car I caught a glimpse of my hair in the rear view mirror. With no hair dryer available it looked a bit like a cotton candy blowout. I pulled on my ball cap in deference to other drivers around me who might have gotten the impression I was getting a head start on Halloween.

To add to this mixed bag of goodies, I am in the process of moving my mother to a board and care. This is the fourth move I’ve done on her behalf in the last eight years. If you add the two I’ve done for myself that brings me to six moves in nearly as many years. Personally I am up to what I believe might be a near record for non military personnel of thirty-nine moves. My mother I’m sure is working on nearly half that. Often I have thought perhaps I am missing the signs the universe seems to be sending my way. Perhaps I should consider opening a packing business. Certainly I have enough experience at this point in the game. Give me a couple of rolls of tape, a month’s accumulation of newspapers, and some boxes and I can pack a twelve room house plus garage in about two hours. Kidding naturally, so please no requests, but I am both fast and nearly breakage free when it comes to getting the job done.

This power situation couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. My daughter and I have been planning a garage sale for this weekend in an effort to get rid of all the excess household items left over from my move, my mother’s move, and their last move presently taking up space on one side of their garage. With people running around trying to find places to charge their phones, get gas, or simply figure out what to do with themselves while sitting in the dark for twelve hours every night, perhaps going to a garage sale isn’t sitting at the top of their to-do list. Fortunately the power was restored to most of the area this morning so perhaps we can still pull this off.

I have been staying at my mother’s assisted living apartment while the lights have been off. As such facilities cater to a large population of elderly people, some requiring oxygen or other medical devices, they have to have an alternative electrical source available should the power go down. Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, was left at home to man the gate. This had me running back and forth between the two living spaces making sure she has fresh water, a good dose of loving, and some kitty treats in her bowl.

Sometimes I wonder when life is ever going to settle down. I’m not asking for a boring flat line existence, but a slow rippling roll would be most welcome. Some days it seems like it’s been spiking and dipping like a roller coaster for years on end. I find my mind drifting to white sandy beaches and clear azure waters as I fall off to sleep these nights.

Sleep is another thing that seems to be evading me. I go to sleep no problem, but can’t seem to maintain a deep sleep once I have dozed off. Often I find myself looking at the ceiling two or three times during the night sometimes giving up completely and getting up and pushing brew on the coffee machine in the wee hours of the morning. My diagnosis of this phenomenon is that my subconscious is ticking off everything going on in my life and telling me there aren’t enough hours in the day to spend any lying down so I’d better get up and get something done.

Someone told me the other day I need to slow down. Really? How do I do that exactly? I do try to find me time to put my feet up and have a relaxing cup of tea, but usually in the middle of that the phone is ringing or something comes up that needs my attention. Perhaps I should put in a panic room and lock myself in it for an hour each day? Panic being the optimum word here

Yesterday I ran back and forth for my kitty, met with the home health nurse and went to the store for my mom, stopped to pick up more moving boxes, met a friend for her birthday lunch, stopped at the store on the way home for something to throw in the microwave, and retrieved my credit card from the pharmacy where I left it earlier in the day. Pulling into the assisted living facilities parking lot around dinner time I found the lot full of hay bales and bustling with activity. A sign attached to a scarecrow read, “Halloween Party in Progress – Parking Lot Full – Please Park Across the Street and Take The Free Shuttle”. Good news my hair was all ready for the parade. Yay. So I parked across the street and asked the very nice shuttle driver if he would mind if I loaded up the back of the van with moving boxes Not only did he oblige, but loaded them both on and off for me. Most probably he got a good look at my hair and felt I needed all the help I could get. I told him I would bear his children. Dropping me off in the parking lot with my load he suggested I go over later and collect my vehicle lest it get towed. Okay. My angels continuing to show up when needed he was kind enough to pick me up at the street corner two hours later trying to figure out how to get across the busy intersection.

Today I am out getting signs for our sale and change for the customers. I have sorted through most of my mom’s things and put them in three boxes, KEEP, DONATE, and GARAGE SALE. Again, I state from my previous blog about caretaking for an older parent, making decisions on their behalf such as this is not an easy undertaking. She has kept every card and letter given her over the years but there is no place to store these nor does she remember she has them anymore really. So, those memories will have to be kept tightly in her heart and find another home as we sift through her life. Sorry Mama.

I am off to get started. Wishing you a day filled with illumination.

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Summer has arrived with a vengeance here in Northern California, giving barely a nod to spring. One weekend we had snow, the next the asphalt was melting. With all the strange weather going on all over the world it is hard to deny global warming is progressing, though some persist in insisting this is so. Our glaciers are melting, our oceans temperatures are rising. I cannot for the life of me understand how sticking our heads in the sand and pretending it is not happening will make it go away. My rant for the day.

As a kid summer was at time of year highly anticipated. School doors shut for the season, warm sunny days, a glistening pool in the back yard. Life was good. Most of my life I’ve been a sun bunny. Spending my middle school and high school years in Southern California, the majority of my summer vacation was spent at one of the many beaches within driving distance from my house. Those were glorious days looking back. Blissfully innocent about the effects of the sun on our skin, we slathered ourselves with a lethal concoction of baby oil and iodine and spent hours coaxing the sun to turn our bodies a lovely shade of golden brown.

Though I’m sure not much has changed, the beaches somehow seemed safer back then. Other than an occasional incident of a swimmer caught in a riptide or someone getting a serious sunburn, I don’t remember hearing about many incidents of shark sightings or attacks, though I’m sure there were many such events. With no social media to propel stories along the information highway was much slower relying on word of mouth, nightly news, or newspapers to provide information. Southern California beaches lured sunbathers with warm water, miles of sun-kissed sand and, particularly in the Laguna Beach area, plentiful caves and tide pools to explore.

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My first child began her descent into the world in Laguna Beach. The first labor pain made itself known half way up a sheer staircase at a beach aptly named “1,000 Steps”. One pain following another I willed my overripe body to continue the uphill climb. By the time I reached street level I found myself praying for a helicopter to whisk me off to the nearest hospital. An hour and a half after I arrived at the hospital by our house my daughter arrived, leaving me to wonder if that last great effort up the endless steps hadn’t helped to hasten the delivery.

No matter whether on the east coast or the west the ocean is where I find peace. The only real regret I have about not finding wealth and fame (not that I looked very hard) is not having the wherewithal to buy a house with a panoramic view of the sea. How glorious it would be to open the door each morning to a salty sea breeze. To sit on the deck with your fingers wrapped around a hot cup of morning coffee and take in the sounds of waves crashing against the shore. Ahhhhhh.

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As a child the ocean was my backdrop. At the first sign of spring I would head down the hill towards the thin strand of rocky beach stretching behind our house. Sitting on a rock I would unlace my shoes and dip my toes into the icy water.

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I have had the opportunity to live on the water since, but never again on the ocean. When my children were in high school, my daughter entering her senior year and my son his junior, I rented a beautiful home in a man-made water community in Northern California on the Sacramento Delta called Discovery Bay. The house was second in on the first water cul-de-sac in a series of the same winding about the community. Our boat had been sold several years before so we used the dock mainly for fishing or launching the variety of floats and water toys stored in a massive bin on the middle deck. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mornings I would seat myself in my lawn chair to watch the horizon for the first hint of the sun making an entrance for the day. Usually Barnaby the golden retriever padded down to join me keeping a watchful eye out for a duck in the vicinity or a stray cat sleeping under a deck.

There’s something so calming and soul soothing about being close to water. If responsibilities and family didn’t hold me where I am, I would find a houseboat along a waterway somewhere and drop a line over the rail.On a day such as today where the thermometer is projected to reach record highs, the idea floats around in my brain like a bingo ball bouncing in a cage.

Should reincarnation be an option, I am definitely going to rethink being rich and famous just to allow me to live somewhere with salt in the air.

This cole slaw is positively decadent. I served it with tuna croquettes and a nicoise salad and it disappeared quickly.

Blue Cheese Cole Slaw

6 cups finely chopped shredded cabbage
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. Sriracha sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. celery salt

Mix together the cabbage, blue cheese, and onion in large mixing bowl.

Whisk together remaining ingredients to make dressing. Pour over cabbage 1 hour prior to serving and refrigerate.

Serves 6

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