Friday, November 11, 2022

Breathe

I'm sure I am not the only one that is happy that the midterm elections are over.  Of course I'm gratified there was not a red wave, but I'm really relieved that my mail box and email are not flooded with political advertising and requests for donations.  I just toss them in the trash and delete them, wholesale, from my email inbox.  What a bother.

I voted early in Colorado.  It's such a great system: I study the issues at home and while sitting at the kitchen table, mark my ballot.  So sensible.  I'm past the point in my life where I want to stand in line.  I enjoy voting in the comfort of my home.  Especially while the chicken roasts in the oven, infusing the house with the scent of Herbs de Provence.  Lucy enjoys the organ meats, sautéed in a bit of Irish butter.  I tried a bit of the liver.  Yuck.  I've made pate with chicken livers, but of course there's a ton of butter and a bit of cognac in there as well.

My antique sideboard arrived from Illinois today. I took a bit of a risk buying on line, but the seller has many excellent reviews.  I like the way it looks with my parents' grandfather clock.  It sits below the rug I acquired in Morocco.  My decor is a bit eclectic, mixing modern with antique, art made by friends and new additions from my parents' collection.  I just mix and match as I come into possession of something,  There's never a grand plan.  (Kind of like my wardrobe.)
That large light colored donut thing is Lucy's bed, which she adores.  Most pampered chihuahua on the planet, she is.

The temperature has dropped considerably.  It was 39 F when I went to pick up groceries at 3 p.m. I hadn't dressed appropriately and completely forgot gloves, so I was one chilly popsicle.  When I returned home, I unloaded and then turned on the gas fireplace.  I huddled next to it. Lesson learned. The weather is completely bizarro across the globe, and while I would normally be prepared in November in Colorado, so many friends have been reporting high temps that I completely forgot.  Someday I think I will find warm places to go between January and March.  I did the opposite of snowbirding when I moved to snow country three years ago.  It's the power and the pull of grand children, don't you know?

I hope that you, too, are relieved that the elections are (mostly) over.  We may breath again.  For awhile.


Monday, October 24, 2022

The Circle Game

I continue to sort through boxes from my parents' house.  Slowly, I am making headway.  A large box, full of binders, has travel mementos from their trips abroad, including Australia, Hungry, France and the South Seas.  They had a very good traveling life that lasted for a couple of decades.  Very few personal photos in these binders, but I look through all of them so I don't miss any gems.  Then they go in the trash.  I doubt that even my parents looked at these binders over the last 30 years.  The receipts for hotel rooms or cups of tea mean nothing to me.  Occasionally there will be a photo of them together, and I save those.

I found this photo of me when I was sixteen.  My dad took it at our house in Carmel.  The sea shell necklace was made by a boyfriend, who dropped me at the end of a summer romance because I wouldn't 'sleep' with me.  I didn't feel ready and I stuck to my guns.  He didn't want to wait.  Oh, hormones.

This photo is my mother in 1960, when she was twenty-five.  They already had three children by then.  We were living on Rio Road, just down the street from the Carmel Mission. 

I forget how beautiful she was.  The last twenty years of life were hard on her.  Parkinson's is a terribly cruel disease.  She had beautiful handwriting which deteriorated significantly. She loved to read books, making regular trips to the library all throughout my childhood.  Her eyesight failed her for her last decade and that delightful past time was lost to her.  It helps me to remember that she once was young and strong and led an interesting life.  She had smarts, and talent, and being a young mother in the 1960s was restrictive.  She took the traditional role of wife and mother, and wasn't always very happy about it.  They played bridge with friends, took us kids on a lot of field trips, and did a fine job overall even though they were excessively young.  

Going through all these old photos makes my mind reel a bit. Have all those years really flown by so quickly?  Still many boxes to go, and who knows what other gems I will find.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Somebody Feed ME

Yesterday it was raining leaves all over my street.  Bright yellow leaves catching the sun as they dropped to the ground.  A neighbor and I sat on her patio and watched the show.  I tried, but did not get, a good video.  Today I watched as another neighbor's grandkids raked a huge pile of the things.  I waited for the gleeful shouts of kids as the dove into that pile, but no, the pile still remains.  What's wrong with those kids?! Turns out, nothing.  I watched them later, along with their grandparents as they dove into the pile and then raked again.

Today, a big wind blew most of the leaves off most of the trees.  Leaves are piled high on my front patio, and I wonder when the landscape company will come to clear them up.  I cleared a path for Lucy, who dislikes leaves almost as much as she dislikes snow.

We've had a few days in the high seventies, but rumor has it we're in for a cold night and lower temps for the next few days.  I'm watching the national weather, and some people are getting snowed on while others bake.  I watched a news story about how low the mighty Mississippi is now.  It's disrupting cargo ships from getting through at certain points.  This is happening to rivers all over the world.  So much for a river cruise.

I continue to feel better and better; getting out into the world and enjoying it immensely.  I went to a taco joint that my son in law recommended, and had lovely carnitas and pork belly tacos with a delicious margarita.  Very nice staff, all very young, and I sat at the counter and enjoyed their company.  Those tacos were perfectly succulent and satisfying.  I will be going back.  The Netflix show, "Somebody Feed Phil" has got me excited about Mexican, Tex-Mex and BBQ foods again.  My appetite is back!  I bought his book and it arrived today.  I doubt I will cook from it because I'm not cooking much anymore, but maybe someday I'll get my mojo back.  How great of a job does Phil have?  Traveling and eating great food!  It's a true 'feel good' program, and if you like food and feeling good, this is the show for you.

Off to Boulder tomorrow to meet up with friends and have a lunch at their country club.  The club has a great view, and perhaps some lingering fall color.  Cross yer fingers.



Sunday, September 25, 2022

Turning the Corner

Whoeee, boys and girls, I do believe I've turned a corner.  About 10 days ago I had a really really good day full of energy and a zest for living.  I thought, "I'm feeling like the old me again!"  Then it happened the next day, and the next.  I had a few days in there where energy disappeared again, but it came back.  

The week was busy with getting my new flooring installed in the living room.  Wednesday the movers came to move the furniture into the garage.  Thursday the carpet was removed and new flooring put in.  Friday the movers came back and did the job in reverse.  Saturday another mover showed up to deliver things from my parents' house, including a grandfather clock.  I didn't plan it that way, I just knew I wanted to get the flooring in before the clock arrived.  The universe provided the impeccable timing.  I'm extremely happy with the flooring, as that poor rug just kept greeting me with new stains from gawd knows where.  Some were created by Lucy, but others were a complete mystery.  My only complaint about the job was the tile dust that spread throughout the house when the tile was being cut into and removed.  No sheeting was put up between the living room and the kitchen/eating area and so everything was covered with fine, almost volcanic, dust.

Friday night I went to see a favorite comedian of mine, Marc Maron.  I love his east coast, sometimes dark, very honest, Jewishness and the lens he sees the world with.  He brought his A game and I laughed so much I almost lost my breath.  I had a dynamite seat, stage left, about 5 rows back.  I would love to meet him and become friends.  I don't imagine that will ever happen, but I'd love it if it did.

The next day I packed up the car and my little Lucy, and headed down to Boulder to have dinner and an overnight with friends.  It was a great evening, and B pulled out all the stops on his dinner menu.  Much wine was consumed for a change, and then we watched the new Elvis biopic on HBOmax.  Well done movie and the acting was superb.  Never a fan of Elvis, but this movie was compelling and made me care.

I went to brunch with my friends this morning at a little inn in the mountains.  I drive by it when I come to Boulder, and have always wondered what it was like.  Now I know.  Built in the late 1800s when the area had a gold rush, it has been many things, and now finally, a restaurant and event center.

I arrived home around 3:00 this afternoon, and after unloading the car, took a nap and slept deeply.  I was so tired I didn't want to get up to have some dinner.  But, as many diabetics know, it's important to eat on schedule to maintain blood sugars, so I forced myself up and had mushroom risotto with some green beans.  Yum.

I'm hitting the sack at 9:00 pm and hope to wake up tomorrow with some energy.  I have a lot of boxes to unpack.  I'll have to figure out where I have room for things (or not).  It's a little odd to see my parents clock in my living room.  They got it in 1975, and it's been a feature in their living room ever since.  I'm glad to have it as it brings back good memories.

So, this return of energy?  I know it was a process, but when it really kicked into high gear, if felt as if a switch had been flipped.  I looked at the world anew.  I still am looking at everything with fresh eyes.  It's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Self Acceptance

A certain amount of life-review is going on with me. Suppose it is the culmination of the events of the past three years and my recent near death debacle. When I think about when I was most happy over the last decade, it was when Steve and I bought our house and, days later, married. I felt settled, content and satisfied that my life had come to this. My parents liked my husband -- a new experience for me! Husband number one - nope. Wife number one - definitely nope.

Finally, here I was with a spouse that I could take to my parents' home; we socialized together, drank martinis and became silly together.  And Steve adored my mother.  I loved my new home and the lovely park like lot it sat on.  I had a hammock out front -- my "Happy Place," I called it.

When Steve's Parkinson's became worse, it was clear that we needed to move to a place where he could be cared for as his disease progressed.  We sold our much loved house only a few years after we moved in.  It was the move from hell.  Steve was no help at all, and that was only partially due to PD.  I carried the load on this one.  And it pissed me off.  Then I felt guilty for my anger towards him.  After all, he was ill.  

The next couple of years were a blur for many reasons, both his and mine.  I think about what I could have done differently and feel bad about the times I did not rise to the occasion.

I carry 'guilt' not only for those times, but previous relationships as well.  I am hard on myself.  I am working on this.  This quote came across my Facebook feed today and really spoke to me.

From Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. "A quality of mature spirituality is self-acceptance, rather than guilt, blame, or shame for the ignorant acts we've committed or the fears that still remain within us. It understands that inner opening requires the warm sun of loving-kindness. In deep self-acceptance grows a compassionate understanding. We are asked to touch with mercy the parts of ourself that we have denied, cut off, or isolated. Mature spirituality is a reflection of our deep gratitude and capacity for forgiveness.

Excerpt: "Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are"

My stumblings were born out of my ignorance, or out of my human shortcomings. I endeavor to pluck the memories of good deeds and good things that have also (abundantly) populated my life. It is a never ending exercise.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Moving Along

Well, hallelujah, it's only 71 degrees outside this morning.  We have been enduring hellish heat this summer, breaking records.  The air feels marvelous.

In two weeks I'm hosting a concert in our clubhouse, and the air conditioning is not working.  Given that we live in an HOA and have to run decisions by many people, and get bids from three contractors, it is not likely it will be fixed by the concert date.  Either the day will be mild and we'll meet inside, or it won't, in which case we'll find a shady spot under the trees.  I'm counseling myself to live gracefully with the uncertainty. Our musical guests are a folk duo who tour frequently and perform at house concerts.  Since my condo is not big enough, I'm using the community clubhouse (or not).  Bob and Judi live in California, and I used to perform with Bob back in the day.

We met at an open mic, and along with another fellow, formed a trio. It was the first time I made a serious effort at practicing my singing and songwriting.  I was a marginally good guitar player, but Bob and Chris made up for it with their instrumental skills.  Back then I thought I would make a career out of music, but I lost my mojo and I truly don't remember why or exactly when the three of us went our separate ways.  It's hard work, being a musician/singer, and if you don't have that fire in the belly it's just not going to happen.  I admire people like Bob and Judi who take their talent into the world and have an actual career.

Bob recently urged me to read Joan Baez's autobiography, "And a Voice to Sing With," primarily for the chapter on her relationship with Bob Dylan.  I had just watched the documentary on Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue that toured the country in 1975 (the year I graduated high school).  Joan joined the tour, as did many others (including Joni Mitchell) and it was a chaotic free for all most of the time.  Though I admire Dylan's talent, he was a real cad.  Not honorable in his relations and seemed to enjoy screwing with people's minds.  In Joan's book she confirms this.  

Like any artistic community, there are some real difficult characters in the music business.  Sometimes I think I dodged a bullet when I didn't pursue that line of work.    On the other hand, musicians have a large community of like-minded friends who come together to produce that magic that is music.  There's a lot of pleasure in the music camps, the songwriting workshops (I did one with Ronnie Gilbert) and the performances.  I haven't seen Bob in roughly thirty years and I'm looking forward to both the concert and the conversation I'll have with him and Judi about their years on the road and their lives as working musicians.

You can listen to their music here.  

Sunday, August 7, 2022

What Lies Beyond

"Grief Sucks.  Life moves on."  I recently read this.  And, yes, indeed, grief does suck, and life does move on.  Eventually, even those dear to you grow weary of hearing about your grief.

Certainly, I have experienced a lot of grief in the last few years.  As has my daughter, and friends; my sisters.  At some point, however, it's time to turn my attention to other things and to reengage life.  My recent experience with my own possible demise was a stark reminder of how quickly everything I take for granted can be taken away.  Either my health condition, a car accident, a random act of violence, or some other catastrophe (just ask them in California or Kentucky).

My doctor says it is likely that I won't feel quite myself again until November or December.  The body takes a long time to heal.  In the meantime, I try to keep up with the laundry, the house cleaning, the meal making.  I've scheduled a carpet replacement for my small living room.  I prefer hard flooring, so I've engaged a company who will rip up the wall to wall and lay down some vinyl.  I'll hire another group to move everything out of the living room and into the garage for a couple of days, then move it all back.  I won't lift a finger except to write the check.

A few days after that is complete, I am hosting two friends who will entertain us with their songs.  They are making their way across the western states performing house concerts.  Jaeger and Reid, they are, and if you're interested you can Google them.  I had set this up with them well before my stomach surgery.  I am somewhat tempted to cancel because of the perceived amount of work involved, but really, my part is small and doable (order cookies and drinks for intermission), and I would love to sit and listen to their music with my friends and neighbors.  It's something positive.  I want positive.

On the one side is a friend losing her brother, another friend needing to place a spouse into memory care, and another losing a home to a forest fire.  We need to survive.  We need to imagine our lives long after the tragedy has passed.  The alternative is to let the tragedy dominate our existence and to turn our world into a small, dark place.  I'm not down for that.  Don't misunderstand: it's important to honor whatever has happened and to take our time absorbing the magnitude.    When you are able, lift your eyes to what lies beyond.  Let it stir your imagination, and maybe your desire to step outside the dark circle.

What does life still have waiting for you?  What is the next adventure?



Saturday, July 30, 2022

The Big Wide World

I made it out this morning.  First breakfast and then a local "Urban Homestead" tour.  I was joined by a good friend and my son-in-law.  It's an annual fundraiser for youth programs, and they sell about 400 tickets each year.


I thank the homeowners for opening up their yards to the hordes.  I made it to two homes before I hit a wall and knew I had to go home.  I really wanted to go to the farm that had animals, including a miniature donkey, but I just couldn't.  Luckily I had my 4 wheel walker with me, which I needed at the second stop in order to remain upright.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the farms and marveled at all the work that people put into them.  Once upon a time I was an avid gardener and boasted lush beds of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, beans and peas.  We had so many tomatoes that we made sauce and canned it.  My father in law thought that was hilarious, something they did when they were poor.  Now they could just buy jarred sauce.  He didn't understand the pride we took in growing this food and preserving it.

One of the farms today had a greenhouse with pot growing in it.  A pretty thin, weedy (no pun intended) crop that looked anemic.  When I think back on the illegal grows we used to have, oh my.  Our plants were 8 feet tall and had trunks like trees.  Deep green and thick bushes.  Being a guest at their farm, I kept my big mouth shut.

It was great getting out but I needed a two hour nap when I got home.  I had a visit with my surgeon yesterday and he said I could count on another 4 or 5 months before I began to feel normal again.  A little shocking to hear.  I want to be better NOW.  My brain thinks I can do more than I actually can.  My body says, "Oh, hold on there, sister!"  I have a friend who had cancer last year and it was a long hard slog for her.  She says it took her a full year after her surgery to feel better.  This being sick stuff demands our patience and perseverance. 

Tomorrow is my grandson's birthday. party.  He'll be 11 next week.  I'm planning on making a short appearance, and have no other plans for the day.  He's my priority.  I was there when he was born (also for my grand daughter) and it seems like just a few years ago.  Ha - joke's on me!  Next thing I know, truly, he will be graduating from high school.  Ready to launch into this big, wide world.  The oldest question is "where did the time go?!"  Heck if I know.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Survivor

I know blog posts are more compelling when photos are included, but I can seem to manage that right now.  I've been home from rehab for just over a week, and it is good to be home.  I had my physical therapy this morning -- a nice woman comes to the house.  Working on my ab muscles, which were cut into during my surgery.  Tiny little exercises that isolate the muscles and can be done on the bed.  Then a walk down the street before it got too hot.  I'm still in a state of amazement over all I have been through.  I am a survivor for sure! 

Last year at this time I was hospitalized for diabetic ketoacidosis.  A precarious and life-threatening condition.  Came out of that okay.  And the year before that, at the end of June I had a small stroke which landed me in the ICU.  Holy shitski, I think to myself.  Can I just get through next summer with no mishaps?  Please?  

If there's anything to learn from this, other than appreciate each day because it may be your last, I don't know what it is.  I feel like an old lady now that I'm 65 and have come out of this catastrophe.  Feeling a bit shaken (not stirred) and looking to find the way forward.  I've been watching the Netflix series "How to Change Your Mind," featuring Michael Pollan, on the clinical use of psychedelics to treat depression, anxiety, etc.  It's fascinating and I think I would benefit.  I did, in fact, take mushrooms, LSD and mescaline when I was a young adult.  Not as a drug to get wild with, or in any kind of a party situation.  Always as a spiritual practice.  With trusted friends.  It was quite beneficial to me and I'd like to try it again.  Perhaps a reset; a course correction for my senior years.

Meanwhile, as the new strains of Covid are on the rise, I watch as friends and family travel and recreate.  Enjoying their lives.  I'm keeping to myself, unwilling to take chances.  Sure, I'm jealous, but I cannot imagine what Covid might do to me.  Wrap me in bubble wrap!  I'm fragile like bone china!  Someday, the fates willing, I can move about freely again and not concern myself with the invisible enemy.  

For now, I watch nature programs on the telly, travel shows and movies.  I move about the house doing small bits of laundry, or the dishes, calling friends and loving on my dog.  I'm mostly eating frozen meals (the good ones) and ordering out.  I'm not up for cooking.  I'm going to be talking with a home chef about possibly doing meal prep for me in my own kitchen once a week.  I tell her (it's a her) what kinds of foods I'll eat, we come up with a menu, she does the shopping, prep and cooking for the week.  This sounds like heaven.  I can afford it, and it will keep me on the right track.  Stay tuned.

Have a good week, and stay safe!


Sunday, June 26, 2022

Happy Birthday to Me

 Things went from bad to worse, my friends.  Not related to the bariatric surgery (we think) I experienced an ulcer that ruptured and I almost died on my bathroom floor.  Sounds dramatic, but that 's what actually happened.  My neighbor/friend found me there and called 911.  Always pays to have a neighbor who has access to your home.  I was taken into surgery and the repair was made, and the bariatric surgery reversed. I didn't know you could do that, but apparently you can, and the surgeon who first did it was the one who reversed it.  He said he was more concerned with saving my life, and I concur.

I was a week in the hospital, and now I've been in rehab for over a week, and probably another 10 days.  I have to build stamina and strength, which I lost not only after this latest surgery, but after my bariatric surgery.  If I only knew what awaited....it has been a very very difficult time and I am slowly coming out of it.  I can't quite believe it all happened.  It seemed that goodness and luck were all around me.  Until.  I am determined to get well, and then make the most of what my life still has to offer.

Here's where I make my request for you to donate blood, if you can.  Transfusions saved my life here.  I've donated over the years, but never needed a donation.  Here was the payoff.  

Here in rehab, my cloudy sleep filled days have begun to evolve, with physical and occupational therapy.  They get me out of bed and I'm very crank at having to do anything.  But then I do it, and it's done, and I feel some accomplishment.  Each day is different.  My abdominal incision doesn't really hurt, but the drain tube sticking out from my stomach does.  I get it out in two weeks.  Yesterday was spent feeling terribly nauseous, and in the night I was sick and had to call the aid to remove all the wet sheets and bedclothes.  Sorry if too much information.  Today I got myself up early, dressed, and had a good breakfast (they are not all good).  I've been in my recliner watching the new season of Peaky Blinders, as nasty and violent as ever.  Some things never change.

I tire easily, of course, and will have some additional help at home when I get there.  Funny thing, all this happened as I was turning 65 and getting my Medicare.  Medicare is covering all my costs, and will cover some home health costs as well. What brilliant timing.  Happy Birthday to me!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Going along

 It's been weeks of agony here, folks.  I can not keep food down and I'm nauseous all. the. time.  Yesterday I finally went to the hospital, where they hydrated me with a bag full of vitamins and minerals.  Finding a vein was the hard part, as anyone whose every been dehydrated can tell you.  But they called in "The Man" as I called him, and he took awhile finding one but he triumphed and I was over the moon.

My daughter and son-in-law took turns being with me.  The nurse found a med for nausea that actually worked and allow me to rest for awhile.  Those ER beds are NOT comfortable, and my back was screaming at me.  My SIL dutifully (and lovingly) found ways of stuff a pillow behind me to provide relief.

I'm home now, and hydrated, and a feeling better than I have in days. But I still have a way to go.  I'm down 40 pounds since March 28 and it's been a terrible way to drop weight.  I am confident I will pass through this phase and when I'm on the other side we'll all have a good laugh about it, right?

I just heard on the news about the elementary school shooting in Texas.  Read it in the NY Times.  Not even going to turn on the t.v.  We all know the story too well by now, don't we?  We are a sick country.  Maybe should amend that to say sick politicians, who lack a moral backbone and won't do a damned thing about gun control, even though most of the country wants them to.

I've been tuning out the news and most television, since while being sick, I find I get motion sickness watching the screen.  I'm okay with that.

Looking forward to better days.

Breathe

I'm sure I am not the only one that is happy that the midterm elections are over.  Of course I'm gratified there was not a red wave,...