The End.

This will be my last post on WordPress. I’ve decided to let my account expire. I downloaded all my posts and filed them away.

After 300+ posts in as many days, I am all talked out.  At least for now.

If I  do have something new to post, I’ll post it on Facebook….If you read me here, only, send me a friend request , if you wish, and I’ll add you as a friend.

I know there is a new project, a new life-season for me, on the horizon, and I don’t want to get bogged down in my blog. When I turned 60, I decided that this would be my decade, and it will be. I’m a late bloomer!

Thank you so much for reading and for your encouraging words. They have meant a lot to me.

Peanut

My daughter has a small blue elephant named ‘Peanut.’

Peanut had a boo-boo, a split seam, so my daughter asked me to take her home and mend her.  Peanut had a tiny bandaid on to make sure her stuffing didn’t fall out.

As always, my daughter’s ideas start out simple and expand. “Can you make a dress for Peanut?” she asked. I agreed. “And a crown?”  “We’ll see,” I  replied.

I spent this afternoon making a lacy tutu for her tiny elephant. And a blouse in a coordinating print.  And a necklace, which could double as a headband, with a big silver heart.  Haven’t figured out how to make the crown yet.

She will be happy to see Peanut in her stylish new outfit. (Eat your heart out, Barbie!)

My daughter is 18. And in addition to  typical teenage concerns, she worries about clothes for her stuffed toys.  It’s hard to explain, but I consider her childlike concerns a blessing. She has always come to me to fix her toys, her clothes, her stuff.  I can’t fix her bigger problems, but I can fix Peanut.

Family weekend, again.

Family weekend has come around again. I do hope my daughter will get to spend the night with me. I look forward to having her with me for an extended time.

But I will take my tablet and newspaper with me, just in case it doesn’t work out. I want to have something to read at the hotel, if she can’t spend the night.

It is difficult always working on two plans for family weekend – one plan if my daughter can go out with me, another plan if she can’t. I work on both plans at the same time, never knowing until I get there which plan will be needed.

You pack for both  situations: games, reading material, snacks. You guess what will be needed and do your best to supply it.  (I always take extra socks; she forgets hers.) You always have a contingency plan. You always have to be ready.  My daughter cannot fly by the seat of her pants (now, there is an idiom that would confuse her!) she needs the security of my being well prepared.

I would prefer to just ‘wing it,’ but I can’t!

 

 

 

Giving a speech, part 2

continued from the previous post

That was a very hard summer, right after her release from the local residential facility. The police were called to our home often, several trips were made to the local hospital…I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.

The last night she was home, she destroyed her room. Everything in it was broken: toys, furniture, doors, books, even the walls …and she was determined to come after me. The police took her to the hospital again that night, after my son called them for help. ‘Daughter’  got the shot, and slept it off. But this time I refused to take her home. I asked the nurse to call Children’s Services, instead. I cannot adequately express the difficulty of this decision – the decision to relinquish  custody of my child to the county.

My decision to give Children’s Services custody of my daughter, enabled them to place her in a good residential facility in the southern part of our state…but, after almost two years there, I again heard that dreaded statement – there’s nothing more we can do for her here; she needs to go.

‘Daughter’s’ county worker and her team have worked hard to find another  place for her – and that place was XXXXXXXXX. She has been here two years, and I have not heard – there’s nothing we can do for her. Instead, I often hear – We want to try thisDo you think this will work? – or – We’ve rearranged her schedule to eliminate this problem. ‘Daughter’  is doing better; better than she has in a very long time.

No matter where ‘Daughter’ has been placed, I have visited frequently, taken family to visit, participated in family therapy, written letters, and kept in touch via telephone. But the Partners in Treatment program here at XXXXXXXXX has given us extended time together, even overnight together, if her behavior is  safe. This program has helped us stay close, preserving our family relationship, even though we are living three hours apart.

‘Daughter’s’ school performance has improved, too, and I am hopeful that she will graduate next spring, right before her 19th birthday.

Hopeful. That is not a word I would have used before her stay at XXXXXXXXX.

 

Giving a speech, part 1

I was asked to give a short talk at my daughter’s residential facility. I will post it here, with  names and  locations removed.

‘Daughter’  came into our family as a foster child at 7 months old. It was clear even then that her development was not typical. We never hesitated to adopt her; she fit into our family just fine. ‘Daughter’ is very loved by me, her brother, and her extended family. Her quirkiness is endearing to us all – we are all a little quirky, too.

Our  County Children’s Services was very helpful in lining up neurologists, orthopedtic specialists, an endocrinologist, an ent…all in an effort to identify what made her ‘different’…but they did not  diagnose anything. ‘Daughter’ had physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, to help her meet all her milestones…they were all late, but she met them.

Speech therapy was particularly helpful. Pronouns were  problem for her.  And idioms! Until she understood that it  was perfectly acceptable to ask, “Is that just an expression?” or “What does that mean?” we stopped using idioms, because ‘Daughter’ takes everything literally.

One milestone was not late – it was actually quite early – Puberty. When puberty came, ‘Daughter’ went from quirky and stubborn, to angry, defiant, and physically violent. We were desperate for help.

There are a couple things that made it difficult for us to get help: In our county, the police avoid arresting teens  and adults with developmental, mental or behavioral health issues. So, instead of arresting them,  they take them to the hospital.

However, our local children’s hospital does not admit them or refer them to other facilities…they give them shot, or two, of haldol and benadryl to knock them out.  Once they have slept it off, the hospital sends them home – stating this is not a health crisis, it’s a chronic behavioral problem.

Can you imagine being punched and bit, having visible injuries, and being asked to take your attacker back home with you?

And it was not only my safety at stake – ‘Daughter’ has no common sense fear. ‘Daughter’ believed that climbing out the second story bathroom window naked, in the winter, was a reasonable way to avoid taking a bath. We needed help – beyond alarms on the interior doors,  and my constant vigilance.

Eventually, ‘Daughter’ mouthed off directly to a policeman, and he did arrest her. This was a very good thing. The court ordered a stay at a local facility. There she was diagnosed, finally, as autistic. But after six months at this facility, the counselor took me aside and said, there’s nothing else we can do for her here; she needs to go.

 

More Adventures in Oldies.

Sometimes I wonder, how I spend
The lonely nights
Dreaming of a song
The melody
Haunts my reverie….by Hoagie Carmichael

No, I am not so old that I remember “Stardust” from my youth. Seriously, this was an oldie when I was born!

But I do remember humming the melody when my children were babies.

I remember listening to 78rpm records that I bought for a dime at garage sales….and Stardust was one of them. Yes, I said a dime. Nobody wanted those old records back then. Everyone wanted new 8-track technology!

There is a sound that old records have. A sound that is missing from modern cd’s. Something about that sound, even with the pops and crackles of surface scratches, that is very appealing to me.

Adventures in Oldies

I listen to the oldies station when I don’t have the cd player on in the car. (Of course, the cd’s are oldies, too.)  Sometimes the lyrics affect me now in a way they never did when I was younger.

I’ll hear a song I haven’t really paid attention to for years.  Suddenly, the lyrics remind me of someone I know….they remind me of  something in my life now.

“He wants to dream like a young man
With the wisdom of an old man
He wants his home and security
He wants to live like a sailor at sea”

This Bob Seger song brought me to tears today, thinking of a friend.  Funny how music does that.  Reminds me just how powerful music can be.

Of course, not every song touches the heart…sometimes they are just a good sing-a-long.  Silly lyrics, clever lyrics, just for fun.  I like those, too.  Those songs are the reason I most often listen to on the oldies station – I listen for  laughs, not tears.

 

Rest

Some people never learn how to rest. They can’t sit still, can’t take a nap, or read a book just for pleasure.  Some people have to be constantly in motion. They can’t stay home,  and can’t enjoy the peace and quiet of their homes when they are there – of course, maybe their homes are not quiet.

Due to circumstances, some have to be very busy – responsibilities have to be handled.  That I understand. It’s the choice some people make to be overly busy, to never be alone with their thoughts, that I don’t understand.

My home is quiet. There may be some good old tunes on the oldies station, or an old rerun on the tv providing some background noise (this keeps the pup from barking at outside noises), but the house is quiet.

There is no unnecessary activity, no drama. I do not need to be entertained. There is enough going on my head, in my thoughts, to keep me busy for years…fortunately, I can usually turn that racket off to rest. I realize not everyone can.

Rest is not waste time.  Rest is part of a healthy life.

 

 

Countdown update

As of today, retirement is 326 days away.  Yes, the countdown is real. I am at the point where I think, “this is the last August that I will” … or “This is the last Labor Day holiday that will be a day off of work.”

Although I like my job, I know it is time to go.

I cannot physically do many of the things I used to do – setting up chairs and tables, for instance.  I used to run to open doors for the older ladies coming in, greet them and carry their packages. Now, by the time I get to the door, they are already inside.  I am just not fast enough anymore.

I can still multi-task my office jobs/projects, but I find myself having less patience – especially when my hip hurts. I know it is time to go.

It will be strange attending church, only attending, without working there.  I’ve worked there eleven years.   But my friends are there on Sundays and I expect I will adjust…after all, I attended for 19 years before I worked there.

 

Semi annual

Twice a year, I sit in  a meeting at the county offices. A social worker, not associated with my daughter’s case, reviews the case to make sure progress is being made.  They want to make sure no child falls through the cracks.

I am happy to sit and hear others, professionals, talk about her progress.  It has been substantial – maybe not from an outside perspective.  But as a mom, who has cheered over every milestone, it is substantial.  I am very hopeful that she will continue to make progress.

The picture I have on my  wall in the back hallway has a picture of a turtle and these words: She knew where she wanted to go, and decided that steps, rather than speed, is how she wanted to get there. That picture always reminds me of my daughter…steps rather than speed.

 

To make an appointment, please press 1

I hate making phone calls. Part of the reason for this is the automated answering systems you encounter. Even when the numbered options do correspond to what you want,  success is not guaranteed.

Our local hospitals have been taken over by bigger (by bigger, I mean less patient -friendly) hospitals. To make an appointment with a specialist you call central scheduling. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

It isn’t.  After waiting on hold, listening to the same ‘music’ and commercials for ten minutes, a polite young person answers.  I tell them exactly who I need to see, what day I want to see them, and which office I prefer to visit for the appointment . More hold time – then I’m told “we can’t schedule that, I’ll transfer you.”

The phone rings through, and I reach an answering machine.  “Blah, blah, blah, if you want to make an appointment call xxx-xxx-xxxx (the number I originally called.)  I left a message, I am always polite on the phone, stating that I was transferred to this number by the appointment center, because they COULD NOT schedule the appointment I wanted.  Let me say, I do really like the doctor, otherwise I would just go somewhere else.

I was always taught that not promptly returning calls was poor business practice/customer service.  Apparently,  the giant Cleveland hospital doesn’t care about  good business practice/customer service. Maybe they don’t realize patients ARE customers.

After no call back in 48 hours, I went through the process again.  48 hours! This time my voice sounded tearful. (It is on occasions like this that I appreciate the fact that I cry when I am angry!)

Today, I did get a call back – three hours later.  I was scolded for contacting the doctor’s office directly. They suggested that I might want to schedule future appointments when I was in the office in person,  to avoid the central scheduling issue. I would suggest that they could let central scheduling actually schedule their appointments, or just answer their phone when it rings!

Ironically, the appointment is for a cortisone shot in my hip – yup, a literal pain in the butt.

 

Her royal highness

I have a drawing of a baby in my living room.  The lettering at the bottom of the drawing says, “Her royal highness.” It’s me!

My mom’s uncle drew it from a photo of me, sixty years ago.

There are only a couple of photos from his visits; he drove a green Austin Healy convertible.  There is a photo of me in that car.  There are photos of that car parked under billboards and signs on his cross-country trips; he lived in California.

Do I actually remember his visits? I don’t think so. I think what I remember is from the photos…or the gifts. I still have the little baby jacket that has my name on it.

He worked as a chef.  When he would come to visit grandma, his younger sister, he would want her to cook for him.  Yes, her cooking was that good! He liked her lamb chops and pork chops. I remember my grandma’s stories about cooking both of those for him.  I wish I had my own memories of meals with her brother.

There was a sad dynamic in that family – the siblings, especially the brothers, were not close. Distance was not the problem; it was a symptom.

Thinking about that generation makes me glad that my sisters and I are close, with plenty of first-hand memories.

 

Change is coming

There is just the slightest bit of color in the trees outside my window.  The leaves are just a little paler; change is coming, and I am looking forward to it.

The sky is  already so brightly blue, not the faded blue of hot summer, ,the strong, bright blue that comes with fall. Today, I am not seeing any clouds.

A couple weeks from now, the leaves on my maple trees will glow red and yellow…those colors will  come through the windows and make my rooms glow red and yellow, too.  Those colors make me happy;  they are vibrant and warm.

Colorful fall is my favorite time of year…once the peak color passes, fall seems sad and grey.

Fetch

Tex, the old boy-dog that lives here, knows how to play fetch. I throw the ball, squeaky toy or disgusting stuffed toy and he returns it. I ask him to ‘drop it’ and he does.  We do this over and over, until he gets tired. It might be six or seven throws from my recliner into the other room; it might be twenty.  His enthusiasm seems to be directly related to how tired I am.  If I am really tired, he could play all night.

Sweetie, my girl-dog,  does not fetch.  She barely tolerates this activity between Tex and me.  When Sweetie has had enough of watching him run back and forth, she takes the toy right out of his mouth. He never stops her…he just goes and finds another toy to play with.  Sweetie seems to be telling him, with her sharp barks, that he is making a fool of himself.

Sweetie would never bring me a toy and ask to play.  Her MO is just to sit on her chair/bed unless she decides she wants a scratch behind the ears, breakfast, or someone to open the door so she can go out.  I get the feeling she was raised by feral cats, or some other disagreeable animal.  She is not a vicious dog, just indifferent,  largely ignoring both Tex and me.

Right now, early evening, they are both stretched out on the floor, in front of the fan, sleeping peacefully.

Oops, they’ve seen me looking at them…he’s looking for his toy; time for fetch

 

Labor Day

Day off from the office, well spent. Slept until almost seven – that would be like most folks sleeping until noon.

Ran errands with my sister and parents, and had lunch with them at IHOP.  More errands, then home.

Personal paperwork this afternoon, ready for copying tomorrow.  Grocery list and menu planning done. Played fetch with the dogs (well, with the dog that understands how to play fetch…)

Laundry will get put away yet tonight, so I will start the short workweek with only a very short to-do list here at home.

I’ve already decided NOT to stress over the jobs that don’t get wrapped up this week at work.  No amount of organization or planning gives you more than 24 hours a day – you just have to accept that what you get done is what you get done. Stressing over what remains undone doesn’t finish the job, it just makes me cranky.  Nobody wants to deal with that.

 

Hope fulfilled

When I arrived at my daughter’s residence yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised by the news that she could go out.

We took a ten minute drive to a small town nearby; a town that sits on the bank of a river. My sister and I had visited the town before, on one of those occasions that we were talking, not paying attention, and got lost!

The town is very old, but tidy.  Victorian (and older) architecture in the “downtown,” abandoned train tracks on a rickety bridge across the river, and most importantly, a little park with an ice cream stand.

My sister, daughter and I ate our lunches in the little picnic shelter, (we had decided on Subway) and chatted. We moved down to the bank of the river…my sister and daughter got very close to explore, I watched from the safety of a park bench. The climb down to the edge of the water was quite steep.

The park was surprisingly empty, with just a couple fishermen standing in the river downstream. The birds, the water, the sky and 70 degree breeze, were all lovely.  As lovely as my daughter.

We enjoyed ice cream cones (you knew we would) before our drive back to my daughter’s residential facility.

It was a wonderful day – everything I  hoped for and more.

Miles to go before I sleep

I was thinking about the Robert Frost Poem that has this line: “miles to go before I sleep.”

Today, when this post appears, I will have spent 7 hours (3 1/2 each way) behind the wheel for a two-hour visit with my daughter.

My hip will be ouchy and stiff.  I will be very grateful that I decided against a manual transmission when I bought my last  car; the clutch would make it just that much more ouchy.

I would never consider NOT going to see my daughter because of the drive, but I will be very grateful when she finishes school and settles closer to home.

Less driving, more time to visit.

I wonder….

I wonder about all kinds of things…

This morning, the girl at McDonalds had long fabulous, perfect nails.    I wonder, how can you do anything with those nails? I know I have to keep mine trimmed short to type and use a ten-key pad.  I noticed that the used her knuckles to operate the touch-screen at her station…maybe that’s how she keeps them looking perfect.

When I stopped at the bank later today, I wondered about the little machine that reads the checks. How does it do that? Sometimes I can’t read my own writing, how does the machine do it? And the tube at the drive thru…the one that moves papers and money in a cylinder from the car to the teller…I know that is an old technology, I remember something similar downtown at O’Neils, but it still remarkable.

I  use an ez-pass for my turnpike travels.  When I go through the gate,  after it recognizes me and lifts the bar, I squeal with excitement(Yes, I actually squeal.)  It amazes me that a little plastic box, with who-knows-what inside, arranges to pay the tolls on my credit card.  But I also wonder, “How does it work?” and “Are they tracking me?”

I wonder about all kinds of things, but rarely will something grab my interest enough to cause me to read up on a subject and learn the answer. Most of the time, the curiosity subsides and I just go on with my day.

If I take the time to read up on something we talked about, something I wondered about, you should know it’s because I am interested in you, and your interests.  I don’t move beyond wondering  very often.

 

Taking lunch in

My sister and I will visit my daughter on Saturday.  We will stop and pick up lunch in the last shopping area before the miles of cornfields, out where the roads are identified only by letters and numbers. The  Kroger deli, Subway, Pizza Hut, local  Mexican or  Chinese? I’ll let my sister decide. I like them all. My daughter likes them all, too.

I had hoped to take my daughter out to a restaurant in a nearby town, but her behavior has been questionable.

If things change between now and then, and she gets the OK to go out,  we’ll take our carry-out to a park along the river, and have a picnic. Maybe stop for ice cream. I put my foldy chair in the trunk, just in case.

I always try to strike a balance between what really is, and how I ideally would like it to be.  It’s not wishful thinking; it’s being hopeful.

 

Changes at work

Recent changes at work have turned a good work place into a great work place. Does that mean I won’t retire in 336 days? Not a chance. But it does mean I am enjoying work so very much.
The folks that come through the office have always been wonderful. The office volunteers are cheerful and enthusiastic. The office itself is comfortable and well lit. (At my last job, I worked for several years in a basement office with NO windows – Ugh!) I have tremendous freedom regarding the schedule I work. I get to manage my time and projects without interference. (The joke around the office is that I am the boss – lol)

But it is coworker camaraderie that is the recent difference. I can’t fully understand the change, but I can relish it while it lasts.

Compassion

I recently wrote that my daughter’s world was very small, self-focused.

But I have to tell you that every once in a while she displays tremendous compassion for someone. And it just amazes me.

It may be someone crying, worried about a pet at the vet’s office. It may be someone walking at the side of the road, struggling to carry their groceries home. Most recently, it was a resident at her facility – her friend, who had returned home, but was back at the facility through no fault of her own.

My daughter was so worried about her friend, she asked me to adopt her. I told my daughter that I was too old for that, but since they are both from this county, they can remain friends and keep in touch after graduation. That satisfied her for now, but I am sure she will bring it up again.

It makes me happy to see her think about someone else.

It’s a small world after all.

I hope that awful Disney song doesn’t get stuck in my head.

What I was thinking about was my aunt and my daughter. Their worlds are very small.

I’m not saying my daughter is not imaginative. In her head, her world is wide open; the possibilities are endless. My aunt – well, I can’t say what goes on in her mind.

But I do know in real life their focus is very narrow. ” I want it now.” “I need you to do this now.” “It has to be now.” “I want…” Sometimes they say “I need…” but no one needs the things they ask for NOW.

They are not focused on ‘now’ as some kind of mindfulness exercise. The are focused on ‘now’ because there is no understanding that there are other considerations – planning ahead, appointments, responsibilities, work, money. They can only focus on what they want NOW. Completely self-focused – like a toddler. Their worlds are very small.

Routine

Just like my daughter, for whom routine is a necessity, I’ve discovered I thrive on routine.

Now, I do like the  occasional house-guest, whether two-legged or four, and I do invite friends to lunch or dinner here, but they generally conform to my schedule – it’s not the other way around.

I get up early, work hard, come home and crash. Bedtime is early, because I am an early riser. After years of adjusting to the schedule of my various employers, (ex)husband and children, I have finally picked the schedule that suits ME best.

Quiet mornings, a weather report and a little reading, an easy, un-rushed start to the day, makes me calm.  I lay out my clothing the night before, to speed things along in the morning.  It’s rare that I am not the first one in the office.

At work, once everyone has arrived, we stop for prayer, and pray for each other. This adds more calm to the day.  When I am ready to leave work, I head home, running errands on the way because it is the best use of time and fuel. I hate to waste time and energy.

At home, I read the paper in the afternoon – usually during an early dinner, pay bills, take care of personal paperwork and do any other chores that need done.

Since I live alone, the house is usually tidy – and by tidy I mean that my things are put away where they belong, not that they are totally  dust-free.  A confession:  I like to take a little afternoon nap in my recliner….to give my brain a break. If I have to choose between dusting and napping, napping will win every time.

Some days, I have evening hours at work – usually 2-3 nights a month, almost always on Mondays.  I have an alarm clock by the recliner, so I don’t worry about being late. I hate to be late – is it fatal? No, of course not. But it is rude, and unprofessional. If you are expecting me, and I am late, you should be worried about me. Late is NOT part of my routine.

 

 

Heartstrings

When people talk about witnessing or experiencing an emotional event, they say it “tugs on your heartstrings.”

I wonder what you call it when something affects your mind; makes you think; reconsider? Somehow, “tugging on your headstrings,” doesn’t  seem to work.

I “rein in”  my thoughts – that involves strings of a sort, but I can also “rein in” my heart.  This train of thought really isn’t helping.

These are the kinds of weird distractions that often keep my mind busy. These thoughts go on in the background of my mind, even when I am thinking about something else – like multitasking in my head.

Change of Address

The corporate address for my daughter’s residence has changed….that means letters  that I send her have to be sent to a new address. I had finally memorized the last one!

That made me think of my own address…the same for thirty years.

I don’t know how long I will live at my current address, but I hope it is forever. I dread the idea of moving; packing things up and giving away the stuff that won’t fit in a new place.

Years ago, when we looked at this house to buy it, it immediately felt like home to me. It has the same basic floor plan as my grandma’s house, just a few blocks away.  It is the only childhood home my children have had. It has been home to all of us for all these years.

This house is close to family (both sisters and parents within blocks) and friends know where to find me.  I’m settled. Comfortable. Very grateful to own a home – not all my friends are so fortunate.  And as long as I can get up and down the steps, I plan to stay here.

 

 

 

Spoiled Rotten

When my friends came to visit, my dogs became attention seekers.

When we (me and the two old dogs) are here alone, we don’t interact a lot. They nuzzle me if they need something.  They look up and wag when I get home but don’t usually run to greet me.

Generally speaking, they would rather sit on their comfy beds than sit by me for a pat on the head or scratch behind the ear.

However, when my friends came, suddenly, they could just not get enough attention. Constant head rubs, scratches.   They would rotate around the room, stopping at each chair for attention.  I thought the dogs would expect it to continue after the visitors left, but, no, they are back to their normal lazy selves.

Apparently, I am not as proficient in belly rubs and ear scratching as my visitors,  and the dogs know it.

A Talk

I have been asked to give a short talk at a dinner for the donors who give to the organization that runs the residential program that benefits my daughter.

I had no reservations about saying ‘yes’. I have talked to groups before: social workers, other parents. I can honestly say, I prefer talking to a crowd to making small talk at a party.

I am very  appreciative of the kindness and care my daughter receives daily, and I hope to be able to express it adequately.

When the talk is done, it will show up here in the blog as a series of posts. Early October.

The Ebb and Flow

This time last week, I experienced a wave of grief. It happens from time to time. If you’ve had a loss, (hasn’t everyone?) you know what I mean. The grief-wave sneaks up on you and knocks you down. When you stand up, it washes over you and tries to knock you down again.

The intense grief passes, eventually, and leaves you wanting to move to a quieter calmer place.

Sometimes, the grief comes at a time when someone else needs to see it – it helps them feel less alone. I’ve learned when it comes, to look around for others that are knocked by the wave, too. Grab a hand and head for the shore.

Sometimes, the grief comes at a time when the voice of friend, in a well-timed letter or call, will help you regain your footing.

Sometimes, you just have to hunker down and wait for it to pass.

Hope fulfilled

I was able to have my daughter stay with me overnight at family weekend!

While I am always hopeful, she often is unable to stay at the hotel with me due to behavior issues that occur right before the weekend. When I saw the full moon on my way to the weekend, I encouraged myself to not be disappointed if she couldn’t hold it together.

But she did! She held it together and was calm all weekend.   The quieter makeup of the family weekend clientele has helped create a calm atmosphere there….but her behavior was calm and appropriate even before the weekend began.

The weekend was a gift. A beautiful  gift and I am very grateful.

 

 

Decision

I have a friend who likes to say,  “That’s life,” when things go awry through no fault of her own.  As you are probably aware, life does not always turn out the way we plan.

My default decision guide is, “Do the right thing.”  I know if I make reasoned, careful  and prayerful decisions, things are less likely to go badly.    However, making good decisions, being a responsible adult,  does not guarantee that things will turn out the way you planned, the way you hope.  That’s life.

Other people’s bad decisions (whether crime or betrayal) affect us.  Natural disasters happen.  Aging and health concerns (our own and our family’s) reorder our priorities. Things beyond our control happen.  That’s life.

Am I advocating just doing what is convenient, ignoring responsibility and morality, in favor of  ease? Am I saying it doesn’t matter what decisions you make?

No!  While making good decisions is no guarantee that things will turn out as planned, making bad decisions almost certainly guarantees things will turn out badly…and I do not want to be the person whose bad choices adversely affect others.  I don’t want to make life harder for myself or anyone else.

Family Weekend Remix

Most months, I receive a message midweek that my daughter will be staying with me at the hotel for family weekend.

Most months, I receive a message late Friday telling me she will not be able to stay after all.

Midweek is when the team meets to review the stability of her behavior over the last week or so.  Thursday or Friday before family weekend is when she loses control.

Is it the excitement of the coming family weekend? Is it the full moon? Is it because someone “triggered” a violent reaction by annoying her in some real or  perceived way? Is it because she decided to refuse school? Is it because she feels “right,” and thinks everyone else is “wrong?”

Yes. Maybe. Who knows.  There is often no apparent rhyme or reason to her mood/behavior swings and violent tantrums.

One speaker at a recent family weekend told parents that  self-control is the most important thing to teach our children; the most important  skill for them to learn.  He was right…of course.

I can model it, I can talk about it – but I can’t make her learn or understand it. If I could, she would be here at home.

The Joy of Productivity

Today was a productive day…not just the kind of day spent “putting out fires.” With a little help from two eager and accurate volunteers, I finished much more than I expected to finish today.  The biggest part of a huge project is on my desk complete. This is the kind of day when I most enjoy my work.

I like that kind of day  at home, too. That’s why I like  to do “fix it” projects at home….the progress, the accomplishment,  is obvious.  That kind of day makes me feel energized – not tired.

It is always surprising to me how much my mental attitude, my feeling,  goes along with the successful completion of my work.

“My friend….”

My son had a friend back in grade school that he always referred to as, “My friend, Mary.” (That is not her real name, but Mary is a very good name for a friend, don’t you think?)

She was nice to my son in a Sunday School class that had some real stinkers – you know the kind of kids I mean.  Kids who tease; kids who aren’t very nice.  I imagine this is the reason he felt the need to identify her by the title “My friend.” She was nice. She behaved like, and was truly, his friend.

There is a big difference between friends and acquaintances.  I know my son recognizes the difference. I recognize the difference.

I hope someday my daughter learns to recognize that difference, too.

 

 

After the reunion

I never thought I would attend a high school reunion. High school was not the finest time of my life.  I had a small group of good friends – that was the good part of high school – the very best and only good part. Those friends are the reason I went to my 40th reunion a few years ago.  I  renewed some old acquaintances and made a  new friend there at the 40th, too. I connected to some of them on social media.

The most recent high school reunion I attended was very nice. I caught up with a few classmates I had not seen in years. I spent some quality time with old friends, dear friends, too.

For the record:  If I had to go alone to these events, without an accompanying friend, I  wouldn’t go.

I don’t function well in social/small talk required situations. I imagine at my age, that is not going to change.  But I have noticed that there are a lot of people like me there –   standing or sitting with no one to talk to – and it makes me very, very grateful for those friends that take me along.

 

 

The dark side.

I have been very aware the last few days that the morning light is coming a little later every day. I don’t know why I have been so very aware of that this summer – we are only a few weeks past the solstice, but the difference is substantial.

Am I up early writing this pre-dawn?  Thinking about the day ahead?

No, it is four in the afternoon and a storm is brewing…that is what made me think of dark mornings.

And dark afternoons.   It is quite dark now – a preview of winter afternoons to come.

I love the long-light days and this year, for the first time, I have a tremendous dread of the darker days to come.

This is a situation made for mindfulness – I need to think about the long-light I have today(or would have, if it wasn’t raining!), not the future long nights ahead, and be grateful.

 

Let me read that again.

Have you ever read a sign or headline and thought, “What?!? I better read that again.”

I read a sign this morning – “Jewelry, accessories, and chocolate.”  But that is not what the sign said. It said, “Jewelry, accessories, and collectibles.”  This kind of thing happens to me more than I would like – at least this one makes sense – chocolate is almost always on my mind.

Sometimes, when I have misread a word, I get the giggles. Yes,  it is as ridiculous as it sounds.   Often I share these little reading mishaps with my son – he has the same sense of humor that I do.

He is, in fact, a lot like me. Whether it is in his dna or environmental – I do not know, but he is a lot like me.   Maybe I should be worried about him.

 

 

 

I will be young. Part 3

Life is hard.  It is hard for everyone. (You probably already know that.)

At the reunion, I will encounter people who have suffered tremendous personal losses, horrible betrayals, and  life-changing illnesses/injuries.  There will not be anyone there who has not had at least one of these life events. Some will have had them all, sometimes more than once.

It is sobering, isn’t it?  When I was young and naive, I could not have imagined the paths my classmates lives would take.  When I was younger, I never gave much thought  to much beyond my small circle of friends.  My perspective was very narrow.

I will still feel young at the reunion, surrounded by so many familiar faces from the past, but I am no longer naive…my perspective has changed, widened, and everything is so much easier to see.

 

 

I will be young. Part 2

I have picked out my clothes for the reunion. Jeans(of course) and a couple of blouses – I will wear the clothes that feel most comfortable.  The jeans will have pockets and fit comfortably.  The blouse will be very loud – if I spill something down the front of it – no one will ever know.

There will be sneakers – maybe stylish, maybe not – but they will be comfortable.  I will wear my favorite jewelry and carry my favorite purse.

I have memories of parties in years past that included uncomfortable clothing – I wore what was expected.  I was just as uncomfortable as the clothes I was wearing.

I don’t do that anymore, so I will feel better, younger, than I ever did back in the day.   I am comfortable in what I choose to wear and comfortable with how I choose to choose to  wear it. “Choose” – that is the important word.

If I could go back in time to offer my younger self some advice, it would be this:  Choose to be comfortable.

 

I will be young. Part 1

There is a small reunion, high school reunion, this weekend.  I am writing this post on Thursday, while I wait for the washer and dryer to finish my guest room linens.  Today I am cleaning house in preparation.  You know, the usual  – dusting, sweeping, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the bathroom….dusting the tops of things that short people like me don’t usually see.

Why? I am having  guests tomorrow!  My oldest friend(the friendship is oldest, not the friend) is going to stay with me for a couple days.  The next oldest (same explanation) friend will join us for most of the day – and through the official event tomorrow evening and I feel like it is Christmas…actually squealing with excitement.  The event is from 7-10…it’s like being young, with an early curfew.

Two of us will have canes.  All three of of will have wrinkles – but we will be young for a couple days.  It’s some kind of crazy time travel that happens when old friends get together.

A newfangled device.

I recently lost the subsidy for my landline.  Apparently, after 45 years, AT&T doesn’t want my phone-only business anymore.  At twenty dollars a month,  I would keep my landline. At forty-six dollars a month, no way.   The home phone is the number I give everyone…it is a convenience worth twenty dollars a month. Only twenty.

I saw a device that allows you to plug your home phone into a cellular device – at twenty dollars a month, for unlimited calls…so I am giving it a try.  Technology is amazing!  Who thinks these things up?

I did not even have to ask a teen or young adult to help me set up my new cell/home phone!   My answering machine works with the new set up and I have gained caller ID. So far so good.

I resisted the urge to plug my corded princess phone into the cellular device. I went with the modern-looking cordless model that has four conveniently located extensions.

Too bad my candlestick phone was recycled into a lamp recently….now that would have been cool….a Mayberry-style cellular phone!

Dance like no one is watching.

I see these words on memes a lot: “Dance like no one is watching.”  I plan to dance this weekend, at a reunion, whether anyone watches or not.

I asked my dear friend to save me a dance, and he said he would.

Last reunion, he kindly danced with me – I managed not to step on his feet.  He sang along to the song. It was an extremely enjoyable experience and  I am looking forward to that again.

I’ve learned a lot from my dear friend over the last three years…how to dance like no one is watching is just one item on a very long list.

The Clock

I have a clock that belonged to my uncle. It no longer keeps time, but it is pretty, and I keep it in a place of  honor in memory of him.

I found myself looking at the clock often, as I have for years, to check the time. It was making me crazy.  I have other clocks to refer to, but that one always caught my eye….so I opened the glass door at the front and put a picture there, over the clock face.

I chose a picture that was the right size and shape.  It is a simple, muted abstract, not my usual style, with some words: “Love without remorse.”

I need the reminder to be “all in.”  That broken clock has a purpose again.

 

 

Travel

I have no desire to travel.

I remember my grandma giving me a suitcase for graduation. She told me to travel while I was young, because I wouldn’t want to travel later.  I did not believe her then. I do now.

I haven’t flown since right after 9/11. (I used that same suitcase!)  Not because of a fear of flying, but because I do not enjoy it. Too many people, too little space.  Too much hurry up and wait.  Too much money.  That sounds rather curmudgeonly, doesn’t it?

I like the ocean. I would like to drive to the east coast again. The Outer Banks.  Off season, less people, more space.  Just enjoyment of the sight and sound of the waves.  Good books.  Great seafood.  Maybe a hot tub.  No sight seeing…

This is  truly the only travel desire I have.

 

Waiting for a call.

My home phone is listed in the phone book and has been the same for 30 years.  People who know me and need to talk to me are always welcome to call me . That is why I have a home phone.  (If work calls, or worse, texts my  cell phone, I often ignore it  – work has my home phone number for emergencies.)

I use my cell phone for personal business: Calling AAA for a tow, news from my parents, kids, sisters or friends….and I don’t give the number out to everyone.  I keep my cell phone nearby on the weekends, in case my daughter calls.  It is my daughter’s calls I wait for. (I think the correct grammar is “for which I wait” – but that sounded rather gothic when I read it.)

I message my son from my computer often. I see him in person at church. If I need him, I can call him; or if he needs me, he can call anytime.

But my daughter can only call on the weekends – that’s why I wait for her calls. Sometimes she forgets – she is happily busy with some activity.  Sometimes she is mad and doesn’t want to call  –  that is ok, too.  But I always hope she calls. I wait for her calls.

While I am waiting, I write her letters, every week. I want her to feel connected to home, to me, whether she calls or not.

 

 

Family Fridays

Today was a typical Friday.  Early start at the office, and early end to the workday – in order to go to lunch with my parents.   My sisters and I do that almost every Friday. Once in a while, one of us is tied up and can’t go. Once in a while, one of my nieces is also available to join us.

Cracker Barrel is the usual place, but sometimes  Bob Evans or Steak and Shake, or some local joint, will be the place my parents choose.

We all see each other often.  All of us live in the same neighborhood, the neighborhood where my sisters and I grew up.  My parents grew up here, too.

It’s unusual for families to be close, to stay close,  like this – kids move away, siblings  don’t get along…..I am very grateful to have a close and loving family.

A different perspective

I start my day with weather reports on the ridiculously early news, and prayer.   The dogs get fed and go out.  I shower and put on the clothes I have set out for work.   I go through my day focused on work  (secretarial and bookkeeping, laundry and housecleaning), my family obligations  (children and parents, sometimes my sisters), and whether or not I need to use my cane  (I leave it in the car, just in case).  I may pick up a coffee at McDonalds.  Maybe, I check on a friend.

I go through the day focused on day to day activity and responsibility.  Except for brief gleeful moments when I look at the retirement count-down – I don’t spend much time thinking about the future.

Yesterday, I got news that an acquaintance and coworker was ill.  Seriously ill. The news hit me hard – not because we are close – but because it was so unexpected.

This person leads a busy life. Still working; just a few years older than me. Lovely spouse.

I don’t know why this news hit me so hard.  I interact with people in desperate circumstances every day….but this news has given me a new perspective, a fresh appreciation of  the importance of the time spent with the people in my life; a different view of what’s truly important; a needed reshuffling of my priorities.

 

 

Fool me once

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

That’s how the old sayings go.

I usually give people the benefit of the doubt. It is just the way I am wired.

Until you demonstrate you are purposefully lying or deceitful, I will you give you and your stories the benefit of the doubt.  But once I recognize that you have fooled me – or betrayed me – you will  never regain my trust.

I won’t let myself be fooled twice. I see things in black and white – you are a liar or you aren’t – it’s that simple.

“Fool me once, you’re a liar. Run, I’ll set your pants on fire.”

It doesn’t have the same flow – but I find it much more satisfying.

 

This day in 2020

My countdown is exactly one year from today until retirement! I cannot explain the tremendous excitement I feel.

Not much will change. I will still work as a bookkeeper 10-12 hours a month.

I will spend my non-working days working….working around the house.  I have a lot of projects laid out in my mind. I enjoy the project planning.  And the demolition.  The actual restoration/refinishing, well, I do it, but it isn’t the part of the project  I enjoy…just like quilting: the fabric selection and planning is my favorite part, not the sewing.

My daughter will be moving back to the area, Lord willing, about the same time as retirement – I will be busy with her and with my parents, who have started driving  themselves less often.

What I will not be doing is sitting in a rocker on the porch, wasting time.  I plan to make the most of every retired day.

 

 

 

Just do it.

I don’t wear Nikes.  I wear comfortable extra wide width sneakers with little or no advertising budget.  But I do like the tag line: Just do it.

I decided to adopt that tagline, just for today.

After whining about the laundry(and I do so hate whining, even when I am the one doing it),  I kicked myself in the butt (figuratively, of course) and lugged the basket of dirty laundry to the basement.   That started, I decided to cook meat sauce with mushrooms in the crock pot.  Now I have a pasta reward for wrapping up the laundry.

Later tonight, I’ll put the clean laundry away….just do it.

(p.s.  dinner was delicious – even more so because no laundry was in sight!)

 

 

 

Laundry

I am sitting in my recliner looking at two baskets of laundry. Why?

One basket is clean – I carried it from the dryer as far as the dining room and set it down on a chair.  Three days ago.  I just haven’t gotten around to carrying it up to the bedroom to put it away.

The other basket is full of dirty laundry, socks and nighties.   I carried it down yesterday,  and set it on the dining room floor, but I haven’t gotten around to taking it to the basement to load the washer.

I usually do my laundry on Sunday afternoons, one load right after another.   But the last couple of Sundays have been busy with commitments and the laundry has stretched out over days each week….days to make it’s way down to the basement, days to make it’s way back to my closet – like some kind of slow motion conveyor. Laundry has become my never-ending story.

Is it the heat, the humidity causing this mental anti-laundry funk? Summertime blues? Just an over-reaction to being off schedule?  I don’t know, but I need to snap out of it.

 

Showered

I am headed to a baby shower. A friend invited me – right after doing something really nice for me.

I just couldn’t say ‘no.’  Usually ‘no’ is not a problem for me – but this nice thing my friend did – two nice things, actually –  caused me to feel  that I  couldn’t say ‘no.’

I hate shower games. I hate making small talk with people I don’t know well.  The shower will be big enough to be uncomfortable, but not big enough for me to wander off and hide.

Even back in the day, when someone felt they had to have a  shower for me – I hated showers.   At least at this one, I won’t have to be the center of attention.

Yeah, that’s what I need to do – look on the bright side! It is fun to browse and buy baby clothes.   And the food – I know any food prepared by this friend will be fabulous. She told me to come hungry….

But be sure of this:  The next time this friend does something nice for me – I will be very wary, suspicious even.  I will not get caught with my guard down again; I will be prepared to say, ‘no.’

What if?

‘What if?’  This is a thought process in which I do not indulge.

I’m not talking about a simple daydream,  ‘what if I won the lottery?’ or ‘what if I decided to dye my hair?’ (I don’t play the lottery and I won’t dye my hair!)  These thoughts waste time, but they don’t hurt you.

I’m talking about regret, or remorse.  ‘What if?’ ‘If only I’d known…’  These sorts of thought trails are unproductive routes to major self-inflicted guilt.  Second-guessing decisions doesn’t change the result.

You can’t go back and change what is; you can only make the best decision possible based on the information you have now.  Future views, future information is not available today.

If your default is trying to do the right thing, making reasoned and sensible decisions, there is no reason to indulge in ‘what if?’

 

One thing leads to another.

I have a lot of things on my walls. Sometimes I have something new to add, and the perfect place for it is already taken.

That means rearranging.  Creative rearranging.  I do not want to put more nail holes, more hangers in or on my walls.

Yesterday, I moved seven items to accommodate one new one….trying out various locations, rearranging and moving, until it was just right…with nothing left over. It sounds obsessive, and excessive, I know.

I woke up this morning, looked at my rearrangement, and felt very satisfied.

Now, if I could just get that old Fixx song out of my head – “One thing leads to another…”

Hello, Kitty

My daughter has recently been part of a group going to an animal shelter to help with cats: Cleaning the litter boxes, playing with kittens, petting the older cats, and learning about their care.

She has been fascinated by the cats’ eyes…especially the green ones. (green eyes, not green cats, lol!) 

The cats that aren’t used to being around people are interesting to her, too.  She, like me, looks for those who are alone, on the outside,  to befriend.

She wonders what the cats are thinking. She asked me if she could tell what they were thinking, by the way their eyes looked – big pupils or little pupils. She wants to be able to determine if they are scared, mad or safe to pet. She wants to know how to most safely approach them.

She tells me she speaks quietly and calmly to them and waits for them to come to her. She is learning to wait.

She loves to hear them purr.  She is learning to listen.

She loves the the way they nuzzle and lean against her; she is learning to interpret their mood or need by their behavior….real-life skills.

Irony

The opposite of ‘irony’ is ‘wrinkly.’

A friend of mine is coming to town for a reunion. We always seem to be able to pick up our friendship where we left off. We will talk about serious things, certainly; we always do. But she also gets my jokes and puns without explanation ….and is quite the pun-master herself.

She is a very easy house guest to accommodate – like family, only not as picky.

Last time she came, I bought an ironing board and iron, in case she needed to touch up her clothing.  I was surprised (and pleased) to discover, that just like me, she avoids ironing.  We both  buy clothes that come out of the dryer ready to wear.  If necessary, a repeat trip to the dryer, or use of a steamer are acceptable alternatives to ironing.

I am looking forward to her visit, meals at local restaurants, catching up with her, and our mutual friends…

And the puns.  I need to prepare some new pun material!

 

 

 

Nap

Our family (parents and siblings) has a long tradition of Sunday afternoon naps…

After church and a really big lunch, with enormous dishes of ice cream for dessert, we would all retreat to our rooms to snooze. Or sit in a chair in the living room and snooze while the Browns or Indians lost a game(back then, it was usually a loss). Or lay out in the back yard hammock and snooze to the radio while soaking up some sun.

It wasn’t the location that mattered – it was the activity (or lack of activity) that mattered. Everyone in the house participated.

Now, I keep that same Sunday schedule (minus the enormous dish of ice cream) whenever I am not at my daughter’s.  It leads me into the week well-rested and ready to work.

Of course, with the children grown, gone and me living alone, there is nothing to keep me from napping during the week, too!

 

Another Saturday Night

Whether you prefer the version by Cat Stevens or Sam Cooke, ‘Another Saturday Night’ is a great song – the lyrics are more funny than sad – and when the singer compares his friend’s sister, a blind date, to Frankenstein – well, how can you NOT laugh.

I don’t really sit at home pining for a date to take me out on Saturday night.   On Saturday nights, I watch Columbo reruns and work on my blog.  I read.  I write letters to my daughter.  I run a load of laundry.  I enjoy a bubble bath.  Saturday night is for relaxing. And I am good at relaxing!

The truth is this: I would like to meet someone who enjoys  reruns,  old movies or good music as much as I do, so I can stay in and enjoy his company on Saturday nights!

Maybe this fellow will take me to lunch during the week; go to church with me on Sunday morning, or the antique mall in the middle of the week; on a  long drive to enjoy the fall scenery or Christmas lights; or meet me for coffee and conversation – at a coffee shop or here at my home, anytime. (You’ll notice these are all quiet activities.)

I have no doubt he is out there somewhere, probably at home tonight, watching Columbo.

Just what I needed.

I had lunch with my dear friend the other day.  It was after my juvenile court hearing, and just what I needed.

Sometimes, I just want to hear my friend’s voice.

I don’t need or want someone to fix my life for me. It is not broken.  I don’t need advice, suggestions, or even sympathy.

I just need, or want, someone to listen, to ask how I am doing and listen to my answer.  The questions my friend asks me as part of our conversation, make clear that he is paying attention, really listening.

Now, my friend would not usually be described as calm or quiet (that is usually how people describe me!),  yet my friend has a way of soothing me on those occasions when I get a little frazzled; my friend helps my soul be still.  My friend’s presence, or even just his voice on the phone, makes me feel incredibly peaceful.

Maybe it’s as simple as this –  my dear friend is truly good at being a friend!

Another Juvenile Court Hearing

Every six months I appear before a magistrate who reviews my daughter’s case. My daughter is in a planned permanent living arrangement (PPLA) through the county. These semi annual reviews are intended to make sure that children don’t get overlooked while in county custody.  They were initiated because children DID get overlooked.

I find it very sad that a child could get lost in a bureaucratic shuffle. I am grateful for the court reviews that prevent that from happening to my daughter.

Is juvenile court a pleasure? No.  The hearings always start late for no apparent reason.  The hearings are scheduled at the convenience of the court…there is a little input regarding the day of the week or morning vs.. afternoon, but the court schedule is the one that ultimately stands.

The waiting room is often crowded – besides custody issues, delinquency (juvenile felony and runaway) issues are also heard here. Parents, grandparents and caregivers from all walks of life, from all economic strata come through the court.

If the situations of those who are waiting weren’t so terribly heartbreaking, it would be a wonderful spot for people watching.

 

Watch out.

My watch died. Do I usually wear a watch? No. I used to, when my kids were in school and I needed to make sure I picked them up on time. Those days are gone.

I always plan to arrive everywhere early and wearing a watch makes me feel like a slave to time.

I do wear one to school. (because it is rude to be continually looking at the back of the classroom to see what time it is if the lecturer is boring!) Otherwise there is no need to wear it. My house and car have clocks. My cell phone has a clock…a watch is not a necessity.

This most recent watch was perfect. It cost a dollar on sale at JC Penney. Yup, I said a dollar.  It lasted 3 years. It was a funky analog model.

I don’t expect to find a bargain like that again, but I do hope to find one that is less expensive than than the  battery that my old dollar watch needs.

 

 

 

Forever in Blue Jeans

This evening, I’ve been humming  Eric Clapton, Bell Bottom Blues: “I don’t want to fade away…”   And I’ve been thinking of blue jeans.

The way I choose my blue jeans has changed over the years.

When I was younger, I had to have the latest styles. They had to have a high waist. Or hug the hips.

They had to fit tightly; I remember laying on the bed in order to zip them up.   Or they had to have wide legs, dragging over my platform shoes.

Fancy stitching, colorful accents, (Denim blue, faded up to the sky…) name brands.  The styles changed before I wore any of them out…but they had patches anyway, just for style’s sake.   (“The patches make the good-bye harder still….”   Cat Stevens.)

During most of my working years, I didn’t wear jeans at all….I wore dress slacks, skirts, suits. That changed a couple years back…when my current employer agreed to let me wear jeans in the office.

Now, I go for comfort. Style? No particular style…just not too baggy, not too tight.  Pockets, I definitely need pockets. The jeans are different shades of blue or black, appropriate for the casual-dress office.

No patches, no machine-made, distressed holes, no fake shading/fading, no embroidery, no bedazzling – I am too old for  all of that. But I think with the conservative styles I choose now, I can stay, like the Neil Diamond song, Forever in Blue Jeans.

Family Weekend, Summer Edition.

In July, Family weekend has a different flavor – it has the feel of a Fourth of July family reunion….complete with games and cookout foods.  It provides a family celebration experience that some of the children at my daughter’s residential facility would not otherwise have.

We had a nice time, my daughter and I, working on projects together, playing and chowing down on hotdogs, baked beans and fruit salad.

After lunch, there was a shift.  My daughter, as she does from time to time, laments not having a father who is active in her life.  (For reasons that need to remain private, that is just not possible.) She wants very badly to return to the days of a two parent family with a mom who is a homemaker.  No, she wants very badly to return to her idealized memory’s version of those times.  She was quite sad; tearful.

When we spoke to the therapist in our family session, there was another shift – her mood became upbeat, her run-on conversation, with words spoken very quickly,  was hard to follow.  I think of this state as mania. It may not be the correct description, but it is the closest description that I can offer.

By the end of the day, she had calmed down again. And on the next day, she was downright mellow.

I find her emotional roller coaster exhausting – and I just observe from the outside. I cannot imagine what it feels like from her perspective.

 

Three hundred and eighty-one days.

I have started a countdown to retirement on July 31, 2020.

Now, please don’t think that I dislike my job. I like it very much. My employer has been flexible with my schedule, even allowing my daughter to come to work with me when she was still here at home.  I have tremendous leeway regarding how and when I complete my assignments.

It is just time.  A hip replacement looms in my future. My parents will need more of my time. My daughter will be moving back to the area and need a substantial amount of  time from me, too.

I  have worked out the budget, and it is doable. I have made arrangements to work 10-12 hours a month as the bookkeeper only for my current employer…that is all I need to make the budget work.

Three hundred and eighty-one days – I can’t wait!

 

One final explosion.

My aunt did not learn how to cook until she was well into her 50’s….my grandma never let anyone cook in her kitchen. NEVER. Grandma never taught us how to make her specialty dishes or baked goods.  The kitchen was her domain. Hers alone.

This was a family tradition of sorts…my grandma did not learn to cook before she got married, because her mother never let anyone in the kitchen. The local grocer’s wife told her how to cook the foods she purchased.

My grandma’s sisters were adults on their own when they learned to cook, my mom and aunts were adults when they learned…I’m grateful my mom broke that tradition.

My aunt’s early efforts were questionable at best…but she kept at it and developed a nice repertoire of kid friendly dishes.  I enjoyed many delightful dinners at her apartment, and my kids enjoyed lunches with her here at my house, or at my sister’s,  where she lived.

The explosion in the title was the result of a lemon meringue pie that went rogue.  I do not understand how the pressure built up so greatly in the pie, or why the thing exploded in the oven.  I do know that the clean up took the better part of a Saturday and that my aunt never baked another one.

 

 

The Exploding Pies.

When I worked at summer camp as a teen, we did a lot of things just for fun. From dawn to dark we found a variety of ways to have fun in-between our long work shifts.  The list runs from typical pranks (like short sheeting and underwear up the flag pole) to skinny dipping. (Yes, I went skinny dipping)

One day, a few of the staff decided to hold a special dinner; a special treat for a few of the staff that had been recently been the victims of our pranks.  Some of  us baked little, individual cherry pies in the resident director’s personal kitchen.  They looked delicious as we slid them into the oven to bake. We set the timer and moved to the next item on the dinner prep list.

Suddenly, there was a loud ‘bang’ and a sad announcement from the director’s wife: There would be no pies for dinner.  In fact, there would be no dinner.  It wasn’t just the pies that exploded, it was her stove.

I always felt that Mrs. Director handled that very well; no one was bleeding or burned, and the explosion was an accident, so there was no reason to be upset.  She was calm, truly calm, as clean up commenced  – she set  an example for us: how to behave when things go really badly.    I still remember her calm manner clearly,  45 years later.

 

Burnt Offerings

I had a cooking incident the other day.

I sat down to read the paper while my eggs were boiling, and, well, I forgot they were on the stove.

They were in my line of sight – but I was engrossed in the  newspaper.  Suddenly, I heard a snap, crackle, pop – and smelled the odor.  I shut off the burner, took the pan (doggone it! I liked that pan!) full of over-cooked, smelly eggs and threw it all in the outside trash bin. The eggs were fused to the pan!

I know other people who cook like this frequently. (Right, dear friend?)

Even really good cooks do it occasionally.  My grandma was a great cook, but I remember hearing a story about her exploding hard-boiled eggs. My aunt said she had to scrape grandma’s exploded eggs off the high kitchen ceiling.  I always wondered if that was really true.  Now, I know.

After seeing the hard, really hard, hard-boiled eggs quivering in my pan, with all the water boiled away, I have no doubt that a few more minutes would have had me scraping eggs off the ceiling myself.  They were ready to blow!

That makes me think another exploding food story – involving pies. Yes, plural.

Ah, but that’s a story for another day.

Art appreciation

I have a variety of hand painted, colored or drawn pictures on my walls. Some were done by my friends or my children.  Looking at them makes me smile.

Others were found at thrift stores, painted by unknown, and apparently under appreciated artists.  I rescue those – just like I rescue needlework and doilies. I appreciate the time it takes to produce these items and I think they should be on display where someone appreciates them – and I do appreciate them.

There is one drawing that has a special place in my house…my mom’s uncle drew it. It is a drawing of me, taken from a baby photo, with the words underneath, “her royal highness.”

I don’t remember much about this uncle – I remember a couple of visits when I was a young child, his fabulous car (a green Austin Healey convertible) and the stories my grandma told about him.    But I do appreciate his drawing…he is the reason I rescue others’ artwork.   It’s my own form of art appreciation.

 

 

One summer afternoon…

There are certain events that stand out in the blur of summer memories past.

One particular 4th of July stands out in my memory –

There was a long baseball game being played in the street; a quiet side street.  What made this game stand out from all the others over many summers? My dad was out in the street pitching for both teams – because it was a day off.

All the neighborhood kids were out, including a couple kids whose grandparents lived across the street from where the game was being played.  These older neighbors did not like us playing ball in the street – even though we were very conscientious about staying out of their yard.  We rarely even entered their tree lawn because a telephone pole near the street  in front  of their yard served as third base. Trust me, no one slides into a telephone pole in order to steal a base! We never tore up their grass.

On this day, as they did on most days, these neighbors called the police to report our game.  Yes, they routinely called the police even when their own grandchildren were playing baseball. And the police always came – their son, father of our playmates, was a policeman!

That 4th of July, I remember both the policeman and my dad chuckling when the policeman drove up and warned my dad of the dangers of playing in the street.  All of us kids listened intently. The policeman and my dad shook hands and the patrol car drove away.  No arguing, no hard feelings, no raised voices, no fireworks.   Yes, my dad was playing with the neighborhood kids, but he behaved like a grown man.

Since the sky was dark with a storm approaching,  we called the game and all went home.

 

Memories of Summer

As a young girl I lived in a neighborhood with a lot of children.  There was always someone to play with, always some kind of game in progress.

Up and out the door in the morning, home for lunch, and back out until dinner. Once the dishes were done, out until the streetlights came on.   On rainy days, the action moved into my parents basement  with the same schedule. Day after day.  At the time it seemed like the summers were endless.

Now when I look back at those summers, I have a different perspective. Looking back at those summers, they seem short, the memories are just flashes of the games we played.

Is this change in perspective because I am older? Is it because I appreciate the value of time differently?  Is the change in perspective because I am looking at it from far away, from a different time and place?  I wish I knew.

 

Golf

I have never understood the appeal of golf as a spectator sport.  It is about as exciting as, well, watching Barney the big purple dinosaur.

There were a lot of very fine children’s shows when my kids were little, and I watched them all. But Barney – no, thank you.

That is exactly how I feel about golf.

Golf seems like a dull fantasy, with it’s broadcasts from Hawaii or the warm south, during the worst of winter.  It’s like Barney’s imaginary world, where everyone is nice and sings on key.

The golf announcers speak in hushed tones…. this does NOT increase the excitement for viewers.  I imagine them speaking in Barney’s goofy voice recounting how nice it is to share your toys…and how wonderful  and exciting nap-time can be.

Maybe if I golfed myself I would enjoy it more. Appreciate it more.

Maybe if they dressed up dinosaur suits…or sang…or danced.

 

 

The Soul of a Wolf

I often have the tv on for background noise.  I always have the volume turned down low.  Most of the time I am not paying much attention to the Modern Marvels, Yukon Gold, Bizarre Murders, Columbo or The Closer reruns. Or the commercials. The tv noise just distracts the dogs from barking at the kids who play outside.

Once in a while, though, a commercial will catch my attention.  Sometimes, they  make me laugh, and I am certain this is not the intent of the advertiser.

Dog food that recognizes dogs have “the soul of a wolf,” for instance.  The advertiser has obviously not met my dogs.  “Soul of a cat” and “soul of a bread thief” would more closely describe the two elderly canines at my house.

Medications or dietary supplements that advertise what they treat, followed by a fast-talking stream of side effects that make me cringe.  Treatments for all kinds of personal dysfunctions.  Treatments for acne, old-looking skin, flab, and every other flaw you may or may not have. Apparently no one is satisfied with their health, the way they they function, or  the way they look.

And I don’t care how you choose to present them, I do not believe incontinence products are remarkable or sexy.

Soon, as political commercials take over the airwaves, I’ll be leaving the tv off.  (My dogs will just have to bark at the neighbor kids.)

Political commercials, ugh!

Politicians, I dare you to tell me why I need your product, what amazing results I can expect from YOU.  Come on, sell me, convince me to vote for YOU.  I dare you to go on record; I dare you to make me want your product.  Or at least make me laugh….

Politicians, I don’t need or want your opinion of your competitors, you absolutely will NOT sell me by offering me that. Talking smack about your opposition just confirms that YOU don’t have anything to offer me.  It’s pathetic; cringe-worthy, unsatisfactory, unremarkable   …and not funny at all.

 

Gearing up for another family weekend.

In July, family weekend is a little different. It is more of a picnic, with competitive games, picnic food and family projects.

Last year my daughter and I won a race .(I know you are laughing at the the thought of me ‘running’) It was a race to empty a bucket of marbles, submerged in REALLY COLD water, with your toes.  I was not too good at it, but my daughter! She could pick up 3-4 marbles at a time!

She was so excited that we won. The prize was a card game. We spent our free time playing cards and laughing at the silly games that all of us had played that morning.

Most family weekends involve incredibly hard work by my daughter and me…work with the staff and with the counselor.  Having this family weekend just for fun is a wonderful break.

Will she get to stay with me at the hotel? I don’t know. I never know until the last minute.  I am always hopeful.

What day is it?

Having a day off  – vacation or holiday – disrupts the flow of daily life in my head.

Having celebrated Independence Day on Thursday, I woke up thinking that Friday was Sunday.  Thursday seemed like Saturday…so there was disappointment.  No tantrum, no whining, just disappointment.

Now, it really is Saturday and  I have no trouble adjusting to the down time – it’s the gearing up for work,  or the mistaken idea that I don’t have to work the next day,  that throws me off my game.  Just a little.

Having a day off – vacation day or holiday – does so much more than disrupt the flow of my daughter’s daily life. My daughter never knows what day it is. A calendar doesn’t help her keep track.

I can only imagine the ongoing  frustration of wondering what day is next, what happens next.  When she was home, we kept to a rigid schedule.  ‘Spontaneous’ was never a good word.   My daughter + spontaneous  = spontaneous combustion.

This is why her residence/school is so strictly regimented. The same routine day after day eliminates some of that stress. They do have planned fun activities, special celebrations, but , out of necessity, they generally fall within the rigid schedule of the day.

 

 

 

July

My family celebrates birthdays in batches.  My lovely nieces and I all have summer birthdays, so around July 4, we celebrate together. If my daughter was home, she would be included in this group birthday party, too.

Our birthday celebrations involve  a lot of picnic foods for lunch, an enormous cake and a variety of ice cream choices.  It is a relaxed day – lots of talking, laughing, enjoying each other’s company. Kids get presents for their birthdays, adults get cards…it isn’t about the gifts when you get older, it’s about being with family.

I consider myself very fortunate to have a close family – we live within blocks of each other and we get along. We are a small group,  loyal and kind to each other,  and a little bit crazy. (Just the right amount of crazy to make us fun!)

We celebrate at my parents, or at my sister’s because they have bathrooms on the first floor…funny how important that becomes when you get older.

Lemons

I saw  a meme recently that said, “When life gives you lemons, kill them, crush them, and drink their souls.”

It gives me a clear mental picture of the actions to be taken in order to rebound from trouble. It  claims victory.

It’s also much more aggressive than, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” to me, that just sounds too happy, too sweet, too nice.

I’m sure that my preference says something disturbing about my personality. I’m not sure I want to know what that might be.

 

Waiting

On weekends, when my daughter can call me, I keep my cell phone with me all the time.  Weekends are the only time I am a slave to my cell phone…I constantly advise people,”Call the house.”  It’s the best way to reach me; I have an answering machine and I don’t feel the need to be constantly telephone accessible. In fact, there is a good possibility that if you call or text my cell phone, I simply will not answer…

But my daughter… I wait for her calls.

Her calls give me clues about the successes and failures of her week.

Her calls help us share ideas and jokes, encouraging and happy thoughts.

Her calls help me gauge her mental well-being and stress levels based on the subjects she wants to discuss and the tone of her voice.

Her calls give me the chance to say ‘I love you.’

While I write letters to her, she does not write to me – calling – that is how she prefers to communicate.  It is important to me that we stay close, as close as possible, while she is away…that is the only reason I spend my weekends waiting for my cell phone to ring.

 

 

A Cane

When I was a girl, my grandma had a cane. She never used it to walk. She used it to hook things she dropped, or to whack her dog or one of us.  (She was not mean to the dog or to us, her whack was not hard, it was similar to tap with a rolled up newspaper to gain our attention.)  I don’t think I ever saw the cane in her hand unless she was sitting on her spot on the couch; the far right end of the couch, directly in front of the tv.

She would never have considered going out to the market, church or doctor with a cane.  It was strictly a pride issue.

I have decided to use a cane when I need it. I am too young to park in my spot (the recliner) and stay there. If taking a cane means I can go  places more comfortably, I intend to use it.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t whack someone with it to gain their attention…

Discontinued

I have a knack for liking things that are soon to be discontinued.   Favorite lipstick color – discontinued.  Favorite bra, that fit perfectly – discontinued.  Jeans. Shoes. Scents. Television shows – of course, we call those ‘cancelled.’

Even underwear – I recently found some that were perfect  and bought a dozen  – looking back, I should have known that ‘discontinued’ was coming and bought every available pair!

If I compliment you on something and indicate I have it and/or like it, consider it a warning  – that item is destined to be discontinued.

Spin

I wish I could say that I have chosen every spoken word carefully this week.

Of course, I haven’t. Sometimes my mouth works independently of my brain…running ten steps ahead of my mind. Other times, a word is on the tip of my tongue, but won’t come out – leaving me with hand gestures and crazy facial expressions.

I like to communicate precisely. I like to leave no doubt of my intentions or meaning.

And, frankly, I want to have the right spin on what I have to say. That may sound shifty or deceitful…even political.  But it is true – I want, as much as possible, to have my words perceived in the way I want them to be perceived. I want to be understood.

 

Re-do

I  am considering re-doing my son’s old room. The well-worn wallpaper is blue –  with a denim look and a baseball border.  I have to decide if I will remove the blue paper, or just replace the border.  I like the paper – but it has seen better days.  I’ve been planning this re-do for a very long time.

The items my son left in his room still need to be removed.  After that, carpet removal to expose the hardwood floor, and door removal.  Door removal? That room is destined to be my sewing room, the way it was before my son was born – not a guest room. I have a beaded curtain for the doorway.

I have a treadle sewing machine and an electric one. I have stored a little table in the garage that I think will hold the electric machine quite nicely.  The room is 8×10 and will be full enough with just the two sewing machines and my chair. At least for now.

I plan to use that room’s closet as a linen closet, storing towels, sheets and sewing supplies. And I plan to replace the closet door – bi-fold or a curtain, I haven’t yet decided.

I need to decide what I want on the windows. I imagine lace curtains like the rest of the house…since it was my son’s room, I hadn’t put up lace curtains – I  just installed blinds.

Planning the re-do is helping me leave behind that tired funk I was complaining about yesterday.

Tired

The week is half over and I am tired.  When I say that, I hear Warren Zevon’s voice in my head singing “You say you’re tired, how I hate to hear you say that word…”

This week, though, I am tired. And now I am complaining about it.

I have let the laundry pile up this week, knowing that I will have to pay for that this weekend.

I have gone to bed before 9:30 every night, rising at my usual early time.  I have relaxed in the bathtub, read, petted the dogs and written letters to my daughter and to a friend.  I’ve thought about happier days, made lists of things for which I am grateful and prayed. All of these are activities I usually find refreshing, recharging.

But not this week.  This week, I am just tired.

The unusual level of activity at work, constant stream of people in and out of my office… that has added to the tiredness, but not caused it.  I am in a funk. An annoying tired funk. And I need to snap out of it.

 

 

 

 

Hold the Music

I spent an hour on hold last week, listening to the same 45 second loop of bad music and an monotone robot voice that said, “You are next. Please remain on the line. Calls are answered in the order they are received and all of our operators are working with other callers.” One full hour.

It was an important call, so I waited it out. Music, voice, music, voice…I wondered how many operators were working? 1? 2? 15?

I pictured them chatting with each other, rather than answering the phone…or playing rock paper scissors to see who had to answer my call (the loser, of course).

In all fairness, I am sure that the operators were working very hard at a job that must be thankless.   When I finally got through, the woman who  answered the phone was professional, helpful, and had information at hand that was very valuable to me. She took her time and patiently answered all of my questions.

Who was I calling? Adult Protective Services.  I needed to find some help for an older relative.

Eighteen

Eighteen looks a lot different for my daughter than it did for my son.  My daughter is still a little girl.  Although she does enjoy clothes as gifts, as long as they are both fashionable AND comfortable, she still  longs for toys.  She thinks along the lines of a grade-schooler, not a high-schooler.

At eighteen, she never complains when we hold hands to walk to the car; she likes it.

You cannot compare siblings; I know that kids mature at different rates – but the difference between my son and my daughter at 18 is astounding to me.

I have a very vivid memory of asking my son, at 18,  about his phone bill and of him telling me, “Mom, I’m a grown man; I’ll take of that myself.”

He was a very responsible man long before age 18.  He had to be.

Birthday Lunch

To celebrate my daughter’s birthday, my son and I took her to a nice local restaurant.  This is the kind of restaurant where older adults might go on a first date, or inter-generational families might go to celebrate a family milestone, maybe a wedding rehearsal dinner.

The food was wonderful. The waitress did not hurry us, or hover. It was just right – quiet and calm. The atmosphere enabled a very good, very relaxed visit for the three of us….and it was special enough to make my daughter feel like a princess for the day.

I was so proud that she decided to try something new from the menu….and she really enjoyed it.

We topped off our meals (Actually we took half our dinner home so we could splurge on dessert.) with key lime pie – absolutely delicious.  I think we’ll go back there again, the three of us, when it’s time to celebrate my son’s birthday in three months.  All three of us will be looking forward to that.

 

 

 

Wrestling

Years ago, I attended weekly wrestling matches at the Akron Armory.

Those matches pale in comparison to the action in my tub when I am giving Sweetie a bath.

I always bathe Tex first – he hangs his head and obediently steps into the tub. He stands solemnly, with his tail between his legs, while I soap and rinse him.  He even refrains from shaking his long, thick hair dry, when I tell him, “NO!”

Sweetie – well, after I trick her into coming into the bathroom, I shut the door. I lift her front half, trying to herd her into the tub. She squirms and wiggles, trying to break free.  She stiffens her back half, so I have to wrestle that part of her in, too.

Once in the tub, she scootches forward, away from the running water. I swear she moves forward toe by toe.  Sweetie never growls at me. But if looks could kill….I would not be writing this today.

Once she is done, she  shakes dry – all over me.  She doesn’t have much hair to shake dry, poor thing, but she manages to get me twice as wet as Tex does – no matter how quickly I wrap her in a towel.  Sweetie is the undefeated tub-wresting champ.

Relief

I have arthritis in my hip. Until recently, the pain was better or worse depending on my activity level and the weather. Yes, the weather. I sound like an old granny, don’t I?

My doctor referred me to an orthopedic specialist in the hope a shot of cortisone would give me some relief.  Although the condition of my hip would qualify, I am NOT ready to consider a hip replacement – maybe some time after retirement.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the shot,  so  a friend kindly  drove me to that appointment.  The shot wasn’t bad…sort of like a hornet sting.  In all honesty, wearing the ugly disposable shorts was more painful than the shot…those baggy navy blue shorts gave me flashbacks to the gym suits I was forced to wear in junior high and high school. Frightening!

The relief has been building for a couple days, and should peak today or tomorrow.  Relief.  I am very grateful to be moving with just a little soreness – around the injection site and somewhere behind the spot where my hip used to hurt quite a lot.  Just soreness, not grinding pain. I am hopeful that this relief will last until insurance will pay for the next shot – in three months.

 

 

Dog Days

My old, lazy dogs have a nice life.  The same breakfast is served promptly every morning…after a long sleep on the floor beside my bed. They never complain about the food – they just wag and eat. Regularly laundered beach towels and blankets are their bedding.  They make their own little nests, and don’t expect me to make their bed.

After breakfast, and a few minutes in their fenced outside area, they watch me get ready for work. Their heads tilt from side to side as I brush my teeth, shower and get dressed. They never comment negatively on my wardrobe choices. They seem to understand that putting on clothes and shoes signals I am headed out. They never demand to know where I am going.

When I am ready to leave, I tell them I will be back. I know that they do NOT understand what I am saying. But I do suspect that the same words, spoken as part of my departure routine every day, are somehow reassuring.

These dogs are creatures of routine.  They snooze while I am gone. Or at least I think they do – there is no evidence that  they  do anything  other than sleep while I am gone. (I am SO thankful for that!) I do keep the bedroom doors shut so they don’t sneak up onto the beds to nap.

When I return the dogs are always happy to see me – whether I have been gone for minutes or hours, they greet me with the same wiggly enthusiasm.

If I could teach them how to run the sweeper, they would be the perfect roommates.

A long day

Sunday, I will take a long drive with my son to see my daughter at a scheduled two-hour visit.

My son and I will have coffee on the way, and take my daughter out for lunch.  At the restaurant, I’ll order something I know she likes for myself, and let her share my food if she prefers it over what she decides to order.  She will, of course, consider her brother’s advice on what to order before making up her mind – she thinks he knows everything. (On those occasions when we have to take lunch in, my son will  pick out two drinks – the drink he chooses for himself is the one my daughter ALWAYS wants to drink – and he  good-naturedly complies.  He would never think of buying two the same – this drink routine has become a family joke.)

We will definitely leave room for a celebratory dessert.

My daughter and son will laugh and talk and I will enjoy watching them interact.  I am very proud of the very kind man my son has  become. I love the way my daughter happily shares with him the things of which she is so fond … and the way he listens and acknowledges her opinions.

My daughter will open her birthday gifts, and my son and I will  share in her excitement.

3+ hours of drive time each way gives me plenty of time to talk with my son.  I truly enjoy his  company. We share a similar sense of humor (so, I guess that means he has an excellent sense of humor) and we will laugh a lot.

I look forward to these long days for the time spent with both of my children.

What is that?

The other day I was trying to identify a word to describe something…a positive thing.

I found myself doing that again – but this time it was NOT a positive thing I wanted to identify.  I had this nagging feeling the other day, an unpleasant feeling, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.   I hadn’t been able to identify it because it isn’t a feeling I have very often.

It was jealousy. I was shocked when I realized what it was. Truly shocked. I did not see it coming; it crept up on me like a green-eyed wolf and grabbed me by the throat. I was unprepared.

Now that I’ve identified that feeling, I have to figure out how to escape it. I will not let it keep a hold on me.

Drama

I heard a one minute motivational talk about drama this week.  I hate it when I hear something like that and  I recognize that it applies to me.  (Now, please, do not imagine that I am a drama queen!)

This talk was about not getting sucked into other peoples‘ drama; not reacting, and perpetuating the drama; not giving any life, time or acknowledgement to the drama.

I heard this talk on the very day that drama arrived in my office….trying to suck me in. It took a few minutes to recognize what was happening and run the other way.

A friend of mine likes to say, ‘not my circus, not my monkeys.’  Yup, that drama circus will have to find another ringmaster!

Photographic Memory

People take so many photos  – photos on their phones, posted on the internet.

I have a couple of photos of my grandma as a girl, as a young woman. Not dozens or hundreds. Just two.

There are a few more of my mother and father as kids. And more of my sisters and me, but nothing like the number of photos that I have of my children – and I am not even camera-crazy.

When I look at old family  photos, I can remember the times and places, the stories that go with the photos, often told to me by older family members. There are some wild ones!

I wonder, if  constantly posting, constantly phone-photo-taking folk will remember the who-what-and-where of all their photos years from now.

I wonder if those digital photos will even survive.

Ease

I was looking for the right word to describe a feeling today.   Soothe, calm, comfort, quiet?

These verbs were close, but not quite right.  Thinking about how I wanted to describe what I was trying to express, I decided on ‘ease.’

What was I trying to describe?  The effect my dear friend has on me.

I am a low-key person. I am not easily offended. I am calm most of the time…. but there can be an inner stress, an inner anxiousness or unsettled-ness  inside. It isn’t fear or panic; it doesn’t control my day to day function – it is more of a background noise in my brain.  My dear friend has a manner that eases that background noise.

Now, my friend is not always calm, and is rarely quiet.  Yet somehow my friend’s voice and presence  eases my stress.  Now that I’ve identified the word to describe it, I wish I could identify why that is so.

Friendship part 3

While I worry about my daughter’s concept of friendship, I am not always confident in my own.  I may not be as naive as my daughter, as unsuspecting, but I am certainly just as socially awkward.

I work very hard to be the sort of friend, to my own friends, that I would like her to have as a friend. I had to read that sentence twice myself – I know it is convoluted.

In doing that, in going out of my way to be a good friend, a steady friend, a giving friend, I make sure to set boundaries. I have a certain point beyond which I will not allow someone (these would be acquaintances, not close friends) to take advantage of my kindness.  My close friends, a small but very faithful group,  I trust absolutely.

There is no higher compliment I can pay to a friend than this: I trust you.

 

Friendship part 2

While my daughter may not have a good handle on what  friendship is, she is convinced that she does.   She is certain, without a doubt, that she knows who her friends are.

I wish everyone was nice, everyone was kind, everyone had her best interest at heart.  I wish she had better boundaries, better common sense, less blind trust. Wishing doesn’t make it so.

I pray for her… I pray for her to have a good friend and be a good friend.  I look for ways to model good relationships for her within my small circle of friends – close friends and acquaintances.  I protect her when I can.  I comfort her when she feels betrayed.

I wonder if I could help her more if I had a better handle on friendship myself.

Friendship

Friendship  from my daughter’s point of view:

If you like the same music, movies and video games, you are her friend. If you share your toys with her, you are her friend. If you like the same people, or dislike the same people, you are her friend. If you compliment her, you are her friend.   I can safely say, if you are nice to my daughter in any way, she believes you are her friend.

It would not occur to her that you might have an agenda, an evil motive for your niceness. It would not occur to her that some things cannot be taken at face value. She is not wary….she is a black and white thinker….if you are nice to her, you must be her friend.

I find this terrifying.

 

 

Well loved.

Sometimes I wonder if my daughter realizes how much she is loved. Other times, I am sure that she knows.

I was with her at family weekend. We called my parents to say ‘hello’ and to let them sing happy birthday to my daughter.  Her face lit up as she spoke with my parents, she was all smiles as she heard them sing.

At the end of the call, as she always does, my mom gives her 3 kisses. One for each dimple and one for my daughter’s cute little nose.  My daughter holds the phone up to one dimpled cheek, then the other, then up in front of her nose.  Just looking at her, watching her accept the kisses over the phone, I had no doubt.

Today, I’m sure she knows she is well loved.

The Maze

I hate going to doctor appointments in large medical buildings. And to hospitals.  I almost always get lost. Not on the way there; I navigate city streets just fine. I get lost INSIDE the buildings.

Who designs these spaces?

I understand when old buildings are expanded; long winding hallways, multiple elevator banks….

What I don’t understand is why the newer buildings are also built like mazes.

Today,  as I tried to find my doctor’s office, I was thinking it could be a great sci-fi movie: People who  don’t feel well, hopelessly lost, wandering around,  looking for the right door.  The voiceover, “Desperate for relief, they just had to keep searching.”

Maze Malaise, the movie.

Juggling

I would be a really bad juggler.  I can never keep too many things in the air at once.

I was asked this morning, “How are you doing?”

I gave an honest reply – I feel like there are dozens of balls are falling around me from every direction.  I am not juggling; I am trying to decide which  balls I need to catch and which ones I can deflect or even let smash into the ground.  There is no way I can catch them all – and I recognize that.  I need to be selective.

The balls I need to catch and take care of are the ones that involve my faith, my daughter, my parents, my closest friends, my health, my job.  These are the balls that  are most important.

The others? If I can catch the ones that involve friends/acquaintances, or other volunteer opportunities,  school,  I might take care of them, too, but only if my hands aren’t already too full.

The trick is, and I am still trying to figure this part out, how to identify the balls I need to catch while they are still a good distance away, while they are still   in the air where I can catch them.

Technology

I have a very basic internet connection. Basic = cheap and fairly slow. Good enough for my old laptop. (Let’s be clear – I have internet only, no cable. I still use rabbit ears.) 

My internet connection is fast enough for emailing, blogging and facebook.  I do not work from home, beyond emails and phone calls.

My phone is NOT smart. I use it for calls and a rare text message.

When I attend school, I access the internet there with my tiny tablet, but I prefer to read real, paper-paged books.

I use technology when it suits me, but  I do not wish to be  slave to it.   I do not wish to be connected to everyone and everything all the time.

Today the internet is out here at home – on account of the rain. The outage has helped me put technology in perspective. While I use the internet and a computer at work – I do remember what it was like to work without them.

I remember phone books, encyclopedias and writing reports long hand or on a typewriter. I recall carbon paper and mimeograph machines.

I remember bookkeeping in actual journals and ledgers – very neatly written in ink. I miss that process.  Bookkeeping programs and excel spreadsheets are a poor substitute.

I remember when people kept diaries or journaled, instead of blogged, and  while I appreciate the editing capability of word processing  programs…. there is just something  so wonderful about a handwritten letter or document.

 

Fresh Air Nights

I am fortunate to have three large windows in my bedroom. Two of those are sheltered by a large maple tree. When I open them at night, I feel like I am sleeping outdoors.

Add my remote control fan, and I am in fresh-air heaven. Warm sticky nights are easily tolerated with the fan.

Cooler nights, night so cool that the fan is unnecessary – those are the nights I love. 

Rain or clear, the cool , clean air rushes in, under its own breezy power, through the open windows. The cotton sheets reflect the cool, clean comfortableness, and it coaxes me to sleep. On those cool nights, I rarely awaken before morning. And when I do awaken, my body feels rested and ready for the day.

Air conditioning, while providing cool, doesn’t provide that same clean, fresh air satisfaction.  I love fresh air nights.

 

Little Debbie

I am taking a snack to family weekend in celebration of my daughter’s birthday. I was delighted to hear  that there are no allergy issues that require accommodation in our little group.

I was also delighted that Little Debbie snack cakes were an acceptable cupcake alternative.

Why was I delighted? My daughter loves  Debbies, but rarely gets to eat them.

I chose Debbies with sprinkles, pink and blue frosting and filling. They have that unicorn/mermaid, little girl appeal. (We will have real cupcakes or cake when we celebrate with just family – my son, daughter, and I.)  These snack cakes are individually wrapped, and not particularly messy.

In a perfect world, I would bake her a red velvet cake – I would bake it and decorate it to her sprinkly preference – but while there are not allergies to consider at family weekend,  there are germ-phobic kids, kids who would want to touch every cupcake before choosing one , kids who would count the sprinkles to make sure there were the same number on each cupcake,  and parents who want to know every ingredient.

Little Debbie made my life easy this weekend with uniformly frosted, sprinkled, and prepackaged snacks – with the ingredients listed on the box.

There is one thing that bothers me about Debbies: A friend’s voice (a friend with whom I dieted very successfully back in the day – could it be 40 years ago?) saying, “Little Debbies make big Debbies.”  That is true, but only if you eat too many!

 

Retirement

At the end of July, 2020, I intend to retire.  I cannot hear that sentence often enough.

Retirement doesn’t mean I will stop working and sit on my butt. No, I have work to do on my house, I have family to spend more time with – my parents and children.  I plan to continue auditing classes at the Univ. of Akron, spend a ridiculous amount of time at the local library, and I expect to work somewhere 10-12 hours a month, just to keep my budget in good working order.

There are other things I want to do – such as occasionally sleep in. Right now, sleeping in means 6:30am.  I want to sleep until 9:00 – I’m a wild woman, right?  And I want to linger over my second, or third, cup of coffee and read the paper in the morning, instead of after work in the evening.

Thinking that I will be the master of my own time is not realistic, I know. Life happens. Appointments need to be kept. But right now, that is the plan….to spend much of my time as I please, without wasting it.

Just fourteen months – retirement is coming up fast.

 

 

Hug

I am not a hugger.

I wish I was, but I am not.  I cringe when people, people I don’t know that well, decide they are going to hug me.

I gladly hug my kids, my parents, a couple of my closest friends. When I was married, I hugged my husband, and I liked that a lot – but. of course, that is a different kind of hug altogether.

A friend of mine hugs everyone, in a genuinely affectionate way (affectionate – you can read that as ‘not in any way creepy, questionable or inappropriate’). 

Hugging, as a simple expression of affection, is a skill I truly envy.

Well, maybe ‘skill’ is not the right word. ‘Talent?’ ‘Natural ability?’ I don’t know what to call it.  I just know I don’t have it.

Peanut butter blues.

I used to like peanut butter. A lot.

I liked it with jelly, honey, marshmallow fluff, bananas, raisins…even with dill pickles or tuna. I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches grilled in garlic butter – don’t knock it until you try it.

My love of peanut butter could have resulted in a really bad Dr. Seuss-type story: “I would eat it with a fox, in a box, wrapped in socks….” you know the story I mean.

When my son was in grade school, I had an assignment to make peanut butter/tortilla roll-ups as a snack for about 120 kids – this was back in the days before peanut butter allergies made peanut butter a no-no for kids’ snacks.

I worked hard on the snacks, spread the peanut butter, rolled them up neatly, and tied them with fruit leather to look like scrolls. All identical. All smelling of peanut butter.

Peanut butter – It is a smell I have not been able to stand since that long day of snack preparation. I would like to like it again – it’s an easy sandwich to make for lunch – but the smell makes me feel sick.

It’s funny how things you once loved can become detestable. “I would not eat it in the rain, on a bus or on a train. I hate it now, I can’t explain.”

Aging Gracefully

It’s  a lovely expression: Aging gracefully.

Those who know me will tell you this – I don’t do anything gracefully.

I am known for tenacity, reliability, practicality  – you get the idea.

I was a clumsy kid, an awkward teen….for a couple of years, as a young adult, I managed to  walk very nicely in high heels….but those days are gone.

I’m clumsy and awkward again.

Even in sneakers, I manage to trip, misstep and stumble.  (My first reaction is always to look around and check if anyone saw me. Why do I do that!?!)

When I hear people talk about ‘aging gracefully,’ I laugh. We don’t do that here!

The Remote Control Fan

I have a fan in my bedroom window; it blows both in and out, on several settings. This fan makes it possible for me to avoid turning on the air conditioner most of the time.

I inherited this fan from my aunt.  I like window fans, but I wondered, ‘Who needs a remote for a fan?”   It seemed frivolous, a frilly add-on.

Well, the answer is, “Me.” I need a remote control for a fan.

At night, when I wake up because it has cooled considerably, I push the button to turn it off – without getting out of bed.

What I once thought was silly, I now consider genius. Funny how that is.

Sometimes the smallest things have a wonderful impact on our lives.  I  won’t rush to judgment next time some quirky thing I didn’t expect comes my way.

 

Birthdays at Residential

I’ve written about Christmas at residential facilities.  Birthdays are different there, too. Subdued in comparison to the family birthdays celebrated at home. Staff approval is required for all gifts; my daughter’s name has to be on every item.

If my daughter is eligible to go out, my son and I will take her to lunch before she opens her gifts from our family.

If she isn’t eligible to go out, we’ll bring in lunch, including celebratory cupcakes, and watch her open her gifts. NO CANDLES!

What determines eligibility? It’s simple – yet so hard for her: no violent outbursts, safe behavior toward her peers, staff and self.

Unsaid

I saw my very dear friend  for lunch.   Our visit was short but pleasant.

The conversation ranged from good-old-days to a recent funeral. No awkward silences, constant  chatter.

After we went our separate ways, I had time to consider the things that I left unsaid…things I had wanted to say.

There always seems to be more to say than there is time to say it.

Or am I just too cowardly to speak up?

Are my thoughts better left unsaid?

I  don’t know.

I really don’t know.

I do know I have an unrelated song stuck in my head (it got stuck there a couple days before our lunch) – a song I now associate with my friend and my questions about the things I left unsaid.

The lyrics aren’t about that at all, but yet they somehow seem to fit my mood: “Limelight,” Alan Parsons Project:  “I can see the world in a different light Now it’s easy to say Where I went wrong What I did right I can hear the beat of a different drum…”

Loch Ness Monster

Today, while putting away my clean laundry, I had the tv on for background noise. (Quest channel 3-4 with my antenna.) I had no idea there were so many lakes ( in USA, Canada, Iceland, Scotland) with lake-monster legends. I don’t know if there are giant creatures in the lakes. I do know that none of the photos on these shows  clearly showed one.

My mind wandered while the shows (yes, I had that much laundry to fold and put away that I watched several shows) droned on in the background.

This is how my thoughts went:

If there are ‘Nessies,’ would they be good to eat and would they taste like chicken? Wasn’t there a movie about something like that?

Are they fish, amphibians, or reptiles? Mammals, maybe? Oh, I’m glad they are not giant bugs or lobsters! Worms?  Oh, please, not worms!

Are they all related? Cousins, identical cousins…you can lose your mind when cousins are two of a kind. (Yes, I was humming the theme from the Patty Duke Show!)  

Or are species specific to each location? Whoa – multiple sea monster species!

Do they make any sound? There were a lot of ‘sightings’ but no reports of sound.

Do they have rows of teeth like sharks? or fangs like snakes? What about tusks? Tusks would be spectacular.

Do they ever get hit by boats like manatees do? Manatees don’t seem very bright.

Could Nessie beat Godzilla? (I would watch that!) I need to watch “The Waterhorse” again.  And “The Freshman!” – that’s the name of the movie where everything tastes like chicken.

Do they have some remarkable kind of camouflage like squids or chameleons? That would really be cool. Color-changing sea monsters! Ooh!

I imagine they  laugh at us trying to find them…since they are all said to be very large, but few humans ever see them.  They must  be smarter than humans; definitely smarter than manatees.

I remember as a kid watching a kid’s show about Beany and Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent….maybe Cecil lives! I had a Cecil toy; he had disguises, to camouflage himself.…like a green felt, Mr. Potato Head, serpent puppet.  I wonder what happened to that Cecil puppet?

Try reading the list very fast like a long, breathless, run-on sentence – that is the way thoughts sound in my head. My thought processes are far scarier than any “sea monster!”

Posting

I work on my posts on weekend evenings and schedule them a few days, even two weeks, ahead of time. I have time on the weekends (Have you heard, “Another Saturday Night” on the oldies station?) so that’s when I sit down at the computer and type. On weekends when I visit my daughter, and she can’t come to the hotel with me, I have hours to fill by myself.

Sometimes, I will have a list of ideas from which to work. A tiny notebook in my purse, or scraps of paper in my pockets. Other times, there is just a lot going on in my life…frantic paced busy-ness, frustration, friendships and family. (While some think my life is not busy enough, I can assure you it has all the scheduled activity I can handle.) My mind never stops….thinking, reading, planning…only prayer-time is quiet in my head.

Writing has always allowed me to move ideas out of my head (I think sometimes I will run out of space in there!) onto paper. If I write it down, fully developed, I don’t have to remember it.

Whether or not anyone reads it, doesn’t matter (although I do enjoy the comments I receive) because I write for myself. It is a healthy outlet; a good way to process my thoughts about a lot of subjects. It allows me to indulge in extended metaphors and exercise my vocabulary. It is a pleasure taken just for myself.

Sweet Tribute

Sometimes my daughter just blows me away.

I often feel my daughter is so very self-focused, that her world is so terribly small. Then – POW – she hits me with the most thoughtful, most unexpected suggestion.

She asked me “When was Aunt J’s birthday?” “December 8, 1925” I replied.
“You know what we should do on December 8?” she continued. “We should go to Dairy Queen and eat ice cream.”

Aunt J. was the queen of all things sweet and sugary…she never met a candy or dessert she didn’t like.

My daughter went on to explain that her earliest memory of Aunt J. was a trip to Dairy Queen. She told me everything she remembered about that day…it was quite a lot. Like I said, sometimes my daughter just blows me away.

It pleases me so much that she has happy, meaningful memories packed away in her mind somewhere.

Come December 8, you’ll know where to find me – and my daughter, if she’s able to go out.

Eighteen

My daughter will be eighteen soon.  There won’t be any changes; she will remain at school and in the juvenile system until she graduates…hopefully around age nineteen.

Even so, I find it hard to believe that she is eighteen.  It seems that she was so recently a chubby, toothless baby; a sturdy toddler; an agitated grade-schooler….it doesn’t seem possible that eighteen years have gone by!

I remain hopeful for her future, but I no longer try to figure out what that future will look like. There are too many variables, too many factors over which I have no control.

What I do have control over is this: I will always be her mom, and as long as I live, I will do whatever I can to make her life better.

 

Sugar ants

“Sugar ants” – I don’t know if that is the real name of the very tiny black ants that are harassing me, but that is what I call them.

They used to harass my next door neighbor every year – the neighbor whose house was so clean you could have eaten off the floor. (That is a very strange expression, isn’t it?) Since my neighbor’s house was so clean and the ants came through her kitchen on a regular basis, I am not embarrassed by the appearance of these ants in my kitchen.

Last year I tried to poison them in a variety of ways, in the kitchen, outside and in the basement. (I am careful not to poison the dogs or myself.) I  also tried home remedies to repel them – cinnamon, mint, talc…all of these efforts seemed to work short term, but after a few days, a new crew of ants would come to explore again.

There are only a few at a time – criss-crossing the empty counter, looking for sweets.  Occasionally wandering over to the stove  to explore.  I decided last year that I would pay an exterminator if they started harassing me again this year.

I killed two scouts today and put talc out again. If any others venture into my territory, I will call in reinforcements.

Self Reliance

I like to do things myself whenever possible.  I am pretty good at fixing things around the house, but even so, there are jobs that are beyond my skill, strength and agility level. I know my limits; I recently had someone replace some of the black pipe and shut off valves in the basement. Even if I had the know-how, I don’t have the tools.

Simple tasks that require time and patience – those are my specialty: painting, papering, refinishing, small electrical or mechanical repairs, patching/caulking/ glazing,  or replacing the inner workings of my toilet.

I make things as square and level as possible in my old house when I repair them. I try to repair things with an eye to the future – I want the next person who repairs it not to curse my efforts.  (I find myself muttering the previous homeowner’s name every time I run across something that was done poorly, or with mind-blowing short-cuts.)

I know I can call my brother-in-law if I get in a bind, and I have – he is helpful, cheerful and has every tool I might ever need to borrow.  He also is not afraid to go up a ladder – which is something I have given up for safety’s sake.

What set me on this rant today?  I went out to install my new license plates. Not knowing if the screws might be slotted or phillips, I took both screw drivers with me.  The back ones were slotted. Easy peasy.  The front ones – I shook might head and went back in the house for a pair of pliers – I was hoping I could get the fasteners out without a socket set (I don’t have one). Two plates – two different kinds of fasteners.

Success!  It would have really galled me to call for help with such a simple thing.  Self reliance? It’s a pride thing.

About Laundry

Laundry never ends, does it? It is the never-ending story.  I live alone, but even so, work clothes, nighties and linens….it all adds up.

There is very little ironing here; I don’t buy things I know will need ironed. If I pick up something on sale that turns out to need ironing regularly, I give it to one of my sisters.  I wash, dry (only lingerie avoids the dryer) and put it away – rarely on the same day.

I wonder if I would be more on top of the laundry if the washer and dryer were not in the creepy, cob-webbed basement. (Probably not.)

I fantasize about meeting my soulmate, and finding out he is obsessed with doing laundry…a laundry junkie. (If you know a laundry junkie, that is my age or older, send him my way, will you?)

Whenever I have these random thoughts about doing the laundry, I remind myself that I should be grateful that I do not have to go to the laundromat.  Or wash my socks and undies in the sink. Or  wash my clothes against some rocks in a nearby river.

And I remind myself to be thankful that I have plenty of clothing to wear….even if I don’t do the laundry today.

Handyman

As soon as I typed the word ‘handyman,’ I heard James Taylor singing it in my head.

This post is not about the song – it is about having repairmen come into your home.

I live alone. I am never fearful when I make arrangements for someone to come deliver furniture or make repairs. Why am I not afraid? I use good sense.

I deal with reputable companies – companies I have contacted, companies recommended by friends and family, not a telemarketer who solicits my business; not a door to door salesman (Why do people go door to door? I never answer if I’m not expecting someone. Do you?)

When a serviceman   does a good job, he becomes my go-to guy.  My favorite service company emails me a photo of the serviceman, so I know who to expect at my front door.

My front door. If I use a new company, I always make a big deal about having to restrain my dogs….”please make sure the repairman comes to the front door, I have two large dogs that will need to be restrained.” In my head I am thinking, “so they don’t lick the guy to death,” but I never say that aloud.  I make the old doggos sound like Cujo.

 

 

 

The Game of Life

Thinking about games made me think of the Game of Life.

It was very simple…you move forward, you have a job, a place to live, you marry and have a family.  Very simple.

As I had foster kids coming through my home, I reinforced that simple “Game of Life” pattern: “First you finish school, then you get a job.  You get  your own place to live, you get a car.  Then you get married and then you have a baby.”   I repeated this like a lullaby in their little ears. Always in this order.

Why?  I’ve heard that children are more likely to grow up in poverty if their parents are not married.  I know they are likely to earn less, much less,  if they don’t finish school.

I hope my singy-songy lullaby-list stuck in some of their little minds.

Risk

Now, I am not unkind. I would let a little kid beat me at a game.

I will hold back when I play a game with my daughter – it is more important to me that she learn good sportsmanship and the rules of the games we play.

And, I would let a grandma cheat (mine always did) to win.

But if  you are reading this,  and you play euchre or a board game with me – look out.  When it comes to games, I am a wild woman. I play to win and I take ridiculous risks. When I play ‘Monopoly,’ I try hard to bankrupt the other  players and block their acquisitions. When I play ‘Risk,’ I aim to rule the world.

I play games in a way that is the very opposite of how I behave in real-life: In games I am not careful, cautious, or practical.  I take wild, daring (but not un-calculated) risks.  I play to win.  If I behaved like that in real life, I would be really miserable to be around.

 

 

 

Heartbrake.

Yes, I know how to spell ‘heartbreak.’  This post is about something else.  It’s about holding back.

I love my kids without reservation. I love them as fully as I can. I don’t consider whether or not they will break my heart (I’m quite sure they will), I just love them.

I realized last week (yes, just last week) that I was not loving someone else nearly as well.  I  had set a ‘heartbrake’ – a self-protective limit on our relationship.

I’m not saying it is a bad thing to protect myself or set boundaries; but I am  very surprised that I set the limit so automatically, so absent-mindedly.  I was truly unaware that I had set it.

I was pulling on the handbrake and pressing the accelerator at the same time.  That’s no way to move forward – it’s a wreck.  And that’s no way to treat someone for whom you care.

If I can’t move forward, I need to park and walk away.

 

Family Weekend, again (daughter time)

I am always grateful for time with my daughter at family weekend.  I enjoy her company as much as enjoy my son’s company. Or my sister’s, or niece’s.  I enjoy seeing my daughter in person, watching her talk, using her hands and face for additional  expression.  She is so very animated.

The difference with visits with my daughter, compared to those other relatives is this:  With my other relatives, I do not have to be on guard….on guard for sudden mood shifts, anger, or violent outbursts.

The vigilance required of me at these family weekends is exhausting, even when she doesn’t spend the night at the hotel with me.  I don’t know how I managed that constant , high level of vigilance when my daughter was at home. I did  it, but I honestly don’t know how.

I am very grateful to her day-to-day caregivers and the agency  staff at our family weekends.

 

Family Weekend, again (parent session)

This family weekend was a little different.  It was quieter – there were only five kids and five moms – and only one of the kids was a boy – a very quiet boy.

The trainer, an art therapist, that ran the parent session was a first-timer.   One of the moms was new, and didn’t know what to expect. One mom was there for just the second time – the other moms: we are veterans. (When I say ‘mom,’ I am including grandmas, foster moms…we are all ‘mom’ to the children we visit.)

The  subject for the parent session was serious. It was an art project that showed the difference between the face you present to the world and what goes on in your mind.  Five women, who don’t know each other very well, spent 2+ hours working on the project and shared the meaning of their projects with the group when finished.

Introspection is exhausting. Helpful, but exhausting.

 

 

 

Being Tired.

Since I have been enjoying the cd player in my car, I have dug out some Warren Zevon that I haven’t listened to in a while.   I love his lyrics.  The song that has been running around in my head this week is “Never too Late for Love”…

       “You say you’re tired, how I hate to hear you use that word”

I think it’s because I have been so very tired this week. Allergies? Aches? Busy at work? All of that and something else I can’t put my finger on.
I’ll figure it out,  but in the meantime, I’ll be singing along with Warren.

Appreciation

In May, June and July, the trip to my daughter’s will be made in the light – the predawn sky will  be pale, not black, when I leave the house early in the morning. I appreciate the dawn.

I enjoy those drives – where I am not straining to see, not dealing with snow. It is relaxing to make the drive this time of year and  I do some of my best thinking on the road, alone in the car…when I’m not singing, of course.  I appreciate the early morning quiet.

True confession here – I recently realized I am spoiled.  While I loved my little yellow car, the peepmobile, I missed having a fob that allowed me to pop the trunk or unlock the doors by pushing a button.  And cruise control.  I appreciate all the little doo-dads on my new used car that will make the trip more pleasant.

Looking back at my cars over the years – vinyl seats, metal dashboards, rust and rattles, no air conditioning – I realized just how blessed I am to have decent and very comfortable transportation. I appreciate being able to drive, having the means to make the trip.

I’m feeling very grateful today. Very blessed.

 

 

 

 

Vacation

I am very fortunate that my employer allows me to carry over vacation days: I am still using last year’s!

I scheduled some time off for a friend’s visit and class reunion. I plan to schedule a few more days for a trip to Virginia to see a friend that recently moved south. And after that, I will still have a few days from 2019 left over when my 2020 vacation days kick in.

I am looking forward to these scheduled vacation days – catching up with friends, relaxing and turning off my work brain and my phone.

While I work less than 30 hours a week, my hours often stretch over six or seven days a week and work sometimes follows me home. My trips to visit my daughter, while they do take me away from the office over weekends, are NOT relaxing. I come back to work on the Mondays after a visit feeling like I haven’t had a day off at all.

This will be the first time in years that I have used my vacation days for, well, vacation.

I usually end up spending vacation days on personal appointments, business related to my daughter, or snow days. That’s when I realized, when I was so ridiculously excited over last winter’s back to back snow days, that I needed some real vacation, some real time off.  I can’t wait!

The new car.

I have been enjoying driving my new, used car.   The radio sounds great and it has a cd player, which I consider a real treat.  I don’t have many cds, but the ones I have are terrific for car singing. ( I also sing in the house when I do house work – I really can’t certain if my singing or the noise from the sweeper is what scares the dogs.)

I have to say since I had my accident, I have been  very cautious of other drivers. Maybe a little overly cautious. It has toned down  my car choreography and sing-alongs considerably. (I was not singing when I had the accident, by the way.)  When I bought this car I realized the volume controls on the steering wheel would be great for my car singing…but  in these last two weeks I have only once or twice really belted out a tune.

My new boss mentioned he saw me driving the other day.  My first thought was: How wild was the choreography and singing?  He remarked that I was extremely focused and didn’t wave.

Whew! What a relief…I am not at my best form right now; and frankly, I don’t think my new boss is ready to see, or hear,  my car singing.

Sense of Style

There is a lovely volunteer at my office once a week.  She is  quite a lot younger than I am and extremely stylish.  She makes her clothes and they are wonderful.  Baggy overalls, oversized jumpers, paired with stylish jackets and sneakers….she looks like a page in a fashion magazine. Her smile is beautiful and contagious.

I enjoy having her in the office.  (Not just because the style factor goes way up when she is there.)  I enjoy having her in the office because I consider her my friend; I don’t make friends easily.  I am socially awkward.

We talk while we work. We talk about our children, families and pets. I like to hear  about her sewing and knitting projects – she knits much more complicated things than I would ever attempt.

We talk about strange English idioms (she is from Japan)….We were trimming some papers one day – her eyes got very wide when I told her to “eyeball it.”  We have a lot of conversations about those kinds of things.

As a volunteer, she is remarkable. If she can’t come, she often arranges for one of her friends to fill in for her.  She learns quickly and I am always amazed at how fast and accurately she completes the tasks I ask her to do.  Whether I ask her to help run copies, or assemble booklets, or ask her to help me water the plants, she does so cheerfully.  The office is a brighter place when she is there.

I find it amazing that someone can come from halfway around the world and navigate all the things that are different here – not the least of which is the language.

She asked me a couple weeks ago if she could read my blog. I hope she reads it today.

 

 

 

DIG

Growing up, we had a very focused dog. She had one thought, only one, DIG. When she was loose in the yard, she dug holes in the garden, the lawn. She even dug a hole in the cement floor of our garage.

From her pen, she tunneled (she must have watched Hogan’s Heroes) through every obstacle my dad installed around or inside the pen…bricks, fencing and assortment of sheet metal patches added to reinforce the fencing, sunk into the ground to keep her from burrowing through. She ignored all my dad’s attempts to stop her from digging, but she always got caught before she escaped her pen.

If she had been a smart dog, she would have realized that she could have easily jumped over the fence from her perch on top of the dog house….but her focus was only on digging – not on accomplishing a successful escape. She was obsessed, and could never consider any option other than DIG.

I thought about that dog today, when I was trying to figure out the best way to do something ….and found myself stuck on a solution that wasn’t really working for me. I am happy to report I realized my mistake – I gave up on the ‘digging’ and jumped over the fence.

Something in the air, part 2

That nagging  in my brain kept me busy all evening. It isn’t enough to keep me up at night, but it consumed my waking hours.

I realized it wasn’t one thing, but some related items that I needed to wrap up and put behind me.  Now that I have identified the problem(s), I can start working on a solution for each part.

The first part is the easiest:  an apology owed.  I can take care of that one easily. That will definitely help with the “itching” in my brain.

The next part – well, I think the reception of my apology will have to determine what comes next.  In the meantime, I will not overthink it.  Just like my family weekends, I will have to decide to fly by the seat of my pants on this – and have no expectations.

Something in the air, part 1

There is something in the air.  It is making my eyes itch and nose tickle and I do not like it.

I don’t often experience allergy symptoms.

It isn’t as if I feel miserable. It isn’t enough to make me wonder if I am coming down with a cold. It just isn’t quite right.

Annoying?  Nagging? Maybe that’s the word I want.

It reminds me of something else, an idea or feeling that has been floating around in my mind for a while now.

Nagging – yes, that’s what it is.  I can’t quite get a handle on it, but this idea is making my brain itch and tickle and I do not like it.

 

 

My next family weekend – no expectations

I never know, until I arrive at family weekend, if my daughter will be able to stay with me at the local hotel.   I always have plans loosely laid out in my head for both scenarios – staying with me, and not staying with me.

And I have learned to be flexible when it comes to the plans I make in my head. Even if she can stay with me, there is no guarantee that she will be up for my plans, which might include a haircut, or a swim, or a trip to Walmart.

I have worked really hard to avoid any expectations for these weekends – no expectations of breakthroughs in therapy, no expectations as to how my interactions with my daughter will go, no expectations as to how we will spend our time together – no expectations of any kind.

I am a very organized person. I would not start my workday without a to-do list. I would not go grocery shopping without a grocery list. I schedule. I plan ahead. This is how I am. But when it comes to my daughter and family weekends, I have learned to fly by the seat of my pants.  She lacks the ability to be flexible…so I have learned to be flexible enough for both of us.

I am not sorry.

I got a letter from Summit  County Children’s Services today, asking for information to renew my daughter’s adoption subsidy for another year.

I have regular visits with my daughter at her residential facility; I participate in her therapy; I have regular contact with her social workers/case managers, the juvenile court and  and her guardian ad litem.  My daughter has been in the custody of Summit county for over four years.   That is when her adoption subsidy ceased – over four years ago

Let me make this clear: She is still my daughter; it is only the subsidy that has ceased. (I have surrendered custody voluntarily to obtain for her the  services that she needs.) 

Every year I get the same form letter from Summit County Children Services, asking me to provide proof she is in school and still living in my home – and every year it makes me cry.  I wish she could be living here – but it is not possible. And since she is in the custody of the county, the county should be fully aware that she is not living here, shouldn’t they?

Every year I call the county to politely ask them to take me off this particular mailing list, since my daughter is in their custody, in a planned permanent living arrangement (PPLA). The county should be able to take me off of the mailing list, shouldn’t they?

Every year I get the same, lame excuses (computer issues, changes in staff , red tape) and vague assurances that I shouldn’t get the letter next year.  The county should, after four years, be able to figure out a way to correct this issue, shouldn’t they?

When I called  the county today, the fourth year in a row I have made this painful call, I was quite tearful.    The adoption department social worker feel could clearly hear that I was crying, and I could hear that my crying  was making her very uncomfortable.

I am not sorry for making her feel badly.  Not sorry at all.

 

 

Celebrating Mother’s (or Father’s) Day

My family’s Mother’s and Father’s Day celebrations look exactly the same.  We (my sisters and I, and any available grandchildren) take my parents out for breakfast on Saturday morning.   That leaves my sister and I free to celebrate with our own children on Sunday.

We started out taking my mom out on Mother’s Day weekend and my dad out on Father’s Day weekend – but after a year or two we just took both of them out for both holidays.  My parents  do everything together; they’ve been married almost 62 years, and it seems silly to leave anyone at home.

My sisters and I live within blocks of my parents and each other. We see each other very often, lunching, all of us together, at least once a week. We still look forward to getting together to celebrate our parents on their special days.  We  are keenly aware that our friends are not all as fortunate – many of their parents have passed away – and we are grateful to have our wonderful parents with us still.

 

A very long day.

I spent several hours Saturday with my aunt  in the local emergency room.  I did the same the  weekend before. It is exhausting. She calls 911 whenever she gets discomfort in her chest…and chest pain means you end up in the ER.

Is she ill? There is nothing wrong with her heart – although I doubt she is truly convinced.  The hospital believes she may have a reflux issue – that will require some additional follow up investigation.

Will she follow up with her primary care provider, like she was told to? I don’t know.  I will call her and remind her to make the appointment, but I can’t be sure she will really follow through. The last time she made a follow up appointment, she didn’t show – because she wasn’t feeling well – which is precisely why she should have gone to the appointment.

My aunt is  mentally ill.  She struggles, making illogical decisions and ignoring sound advice – even advice from the emergency room staff. They have been very kind and patient with her at the ER, even when she complains it is taking too long to get her test results or too long to be released.

I listened with her as they explained what she should do – and she could repeat it back. If she looked confused, I asked for further explanation.  I struggle, wondering whether or not she has the capability to  schedule and keep her follow up appointments, or even follow the ER staff’s directions.  I know she can make the phone call, but if she feels better Monday, she may just decide not to… you can’t make her schedule or keep an appointment because she is an adult.

I recently had a conversation with a social worker – he expressed that adults who suffer from mental illness or developmental issues have the right to make bad decisions, just like anyone else.  The difference is this:  If I make a bad decision, I have to deal with it myself.  If my aunt makes a bad decision,   our family , her social workers or the paramedics end up working to straighten things out on her behalf…again.

 

 

Nameless

There is a reason my blog posts don’t refer to people by name.  Whether it is my daughter, son, extended family or friends (even enemies, lol) – they all have a right to privacy.

The blog represents my perspective – regarding events, circumstances and people. My perspective. I would feel obligated to share their perspectives, too, if I used names.

Looking back at the word ‘enemies’ makes me chuckle. There are people I don’t trust, people that are not my friends – the word ‘enemies’ is a little harsh…I do not have wicked people out there actively seeking my demise. I find it much more enjoyable to write about loved family and friends, than those in that other category.  I am the sort of person who will tell you to your face if I have a problem with you.

Sometimes, my readers recognize themselves  or a mutual friend in a post. That’s okay – I’m glad they know I was thinking about them.

 

 

A lot to say

When I started my blog, almost half a year ago, I didn’t think I had much to say.  But, once I started letting my thoughts out on paper – well, there doesn’t seem to be any way to stop them. Apparently, I have quite a lot to say!  I am not reflecting on the quality here, just the quantity.

Writing has always been easier for me than talking; there is time to consider and choose my words. As a member of a family of fast-talkers, you have to jump in, ready or not, in order to be heard. When I’m writing, the pace is slower, more thoughtful.

The grammar in my posts is not always correct…but it does reflect the way I speak. When I am writing, I imagine a dear friend listening to me ramble.

If you are reading this, thank you. Thank you for listening. And if you’ve encouraged me to continue to write, THANK YOU; you’ve helped me find my voice.

i write

 

No Call

Whenever my daughter does not call on her regular call day, I wonder about her.

I am always hopeful that she didn’t call because she was happily occupied by activities at her residential facility. Often this is the case. She is, after all, a teenager and it is healthy for her to be with friends, enjoying a movie or a shopping trip. It makes me happy when I hear, eventually, her giggling reports of her recent adventures.

While I always assume the best, I am well aware that sometimes, the reality is not always as happy. She may miss a call because she was having a meltdown, or simply refused to walk over to the phone. Or, worse, was having a physical altercation with her peers. When I find out this has been the case, I am so very grateful that the altercation, meltdown, or uncooperative behavior is taking place there – and not at home where I would have to deal with it directly. Addressing the behavior after the fact  and on the phone is much safer.

 

Sleep

Since I am an early riser, I have developed a habit of taking an afternoon nap.   Well, to say “I’ve developed a habit,” is actually rather grandiose.  The truth is, when I sit down in my recliner to read the paper after my mid-afternoon meal, I fall asleep.  It has never been intentional, it just happens.

I always feel good when I wake up – I rarely dream at naptime – and it apparently does not interfere with my nighttime sleep.

I attribute this to inheriting the ‘good sleep’ gene from my dad.   He sleeps, always has, very well.  My mother, on the other hand, is an insomniac. I am so very grateful that I did not inherit that! Feeling blessed to get my rest.

Now, I’m not saying I never wake up in the middle of the night – I almost always do. But getting back to sleep is rarely an issue.

When I dream at night, the dreams are always very weird, but rarely frightening.  If a dream wakes  me at night, it will cause me to  wonder….”What the heck was that all about?”  “What did I eat last night?” or “There is definitely something wrong with me!”  I decide to think about it in the morning –  that’s all it takes for me to go back to sleep. Come morning, I have a good laugh about the dream and go on with my day.

Once or twice a year I will have a dream that sticks with me; it will be more vivid and feel important, maybe even repeat; it feels like there is a message my sleeping brain wants me to understand.  I may spend a good deal of waking time trying to figure it out…but I won’t lose sleep over it.

 

 

Not too old

I read a friend’s post on facebook this week: ‘You are not too old. It is not too late.’

I like it when I read something that gives me a needed kick in the backside – this week I was feeling very old and much too late.  I was having a mini pity-party in my head… and I HATE  WHEN I DO THAT!

Reading that quote snapped me out of it.  I am not too old – I move a little more slowly, more deliberately,   but I am definitely moving forward.   I refuse to sit and rot.

I really do believe it is never too late – never to late to make things right, to make progress, to be a better person, to love and be loved….but during my pathetic little pity party, I wasn’t living like it.

I declare the pity party over.

 

The Peepmobile’s Replacement

I haven’t decided what to name the small black sedan that replaced the peepmobile. I will take my time and pick a name that appeals to me. It will be something that makes me chuckle; a joke that no one needs to ‘get’ – except for me.

I’ve had cars with names of old movie stars(for instance, Spencer – a grey buick), sci-fi references(the Tardis – a boxy blue vw, and Mad Max – a pontiac that was an epic disaster, even when new), a car named after the time in my life that I owned it (the Mom-mobile – a station wagon named that by my dear friend), and one named after a song(Free Bird – a ’78 thunderbird). One car(a red geo with extremely limited power) was known simply as ‘the dog,’ which is very truly an insult to canines everywhere.

I’ve had some suggestions from friends (of course I have the kind of friends that name their cars, too!) ranging from the Crow(like the graphic novel) to Johnny Cash(who dressed in black).

I just haven’t decided…I have a couple of weeks to pick out a name and a vanity plate. In the meantime – I’m open to suggestions.

Over-thinking

It is a habit I have developed from talking with my daughter; a habit of replaying conversations in my head. Not every conversation…just the ones that are important to me. I feel the need to try to figure out motives, identify body language cues, and decipher any other clues to a meaning that I might have missed.

I have a friend whose visits routinely make me wonder – What does that mean? Why did you do that? Are you stupid?

Yeah, that last one is not very nice; but it is really something I wonder. Not whether my friend has a low IQ – no, I know my friend is smart. What I wonder is whether my friend is trying to engage me in an argument or is just clueless about the effect of the words being exchanged between us.

I always give my friend the benefit of the doubt after I replay the conversations – I choose to decide my friend is just dense rather than unkind or mean. This friendship is important; I won’t abandon it over words.

Phone calls from my daughter

It is difficult to understand my daughter’s conversations on the phone. When I am with her, I can read her body language pretty well. When we are on the phone, I don’t have that advantage – and her conversations are hard to follow.

In person, I can see her looking around distractedly, and see what has caught her attention elsewhere in the room. On the phone, when she loses her train of thought, I can’t tell if it is because she is tired, or if her worker walked into the room with a pizza.

In person, I can hold her hand and make eye contact. I can see where she is looking and work to keep her attention on the subject we are discussing. On the phone, I can only ask, “are you still there?”

I can imagine the hand motions she might make as she speaks, but on the phone, I can’t really see them.  The movement of her hands would  help me understand the mood of her words when I can’t hear the mood in her voice.

Camaraderie

For some reason I have run across the word “camaraderie” four times in the last week. It is not a word I see often, so I am looking for some significance in it’s sudden frequent appearance in my life. If there is something coming my way, I don’t want to miss it because I wasn’t paying attention.

Camaraderie   is defined as a “mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together.’
Synonyms are: friendship, comradeship, fellowship, good fellowship, companionship, brotherliness, brotherhood, sisterhood, closeness, affinity, togetherness, solidarity, mutual support.
I’ll let you know when I figure out the significance of this word at this particular time in my life.

 

Early mornings.

I came into work very early this morning to help out with an event. I like being here in the office early, before everyone else brings their noise and activity here. It is peaceful. Calm. Quiet.

I can never have too much quiet.  It is something I didn’t realize until these last few years – just how much I long for quiet.

I’m not opposed to music. I sing a lot. Loudly and badly.

I’m not opposed to tv and radio. I watch and listen more than I should.

I’m not opposed to conversation, and interactions with my co-workers. I like them.

But I covet the quiet. I want it more than music, more than entertainment, more than personal interaction.  When I can sit next to someone, comfortably, without having to talk – THAT, for me,  is the ultimate quiet experience.

 

Lambchop

I remember watching Shari Lewis and Lambchop when I was a girl.  I made my son watch her on public tv when he was a boy. The “song that never ends” was stuck in my head more days than I can count.

I heard an interview with Shari Lewis. She  said she would order lambchops at a restaurant just to see the horror on the waiter’s face. I like her.

Lambchop has a new ‘life’ of sorts at my house. Lambchop is by far the cheapest stuffed toy I can order for my dogs on Chewy.

They love her.  Texas bites at Lambchop’s feet and brings me the squeakers as gifts when he removes them.  Sweetie tears off Lambchop’s face one bit at a time (I worry about that dog). Every time she walks by the doll, she shakes Lambchop to make sure she is dead.  They both pull out stuffing (thankfully they don’t eat it), play tug of war with each other, and toss and chase the faceless, footless carcass around the living room.  Sometimes they sleep with Lambchop’s remains. Lambchop keeps them out of trouble.

It takes months for them to completely destroy a Lambchop. When the toys get too disgusting, I order two more – about six Lambchops are sacrificed here every year.

 

Heat wave.

I believe in spontaneous combustion.  I believe it is possible for a person to burst into flame and vanish. It almost happened here last night.

I am hot all the time. All the time.

I have friends who are always cold. I envy them. They wear really cute sweaters and dressy blouses, even in the summer. Me? I wear as little as possible without being indecent.  I think there were two days last winter that required a coat. My unlined, corduroy jacket is usually sufficient.  I run a fan in my office all year long.

I don’t often have  hot “flashes.” But, when they come, WOW! It almost always happens at night. Throw off the sheet (I never need a blanket), and tear off the nightie! Good thing I live alone!

 

 

 

 

 

Big and little.

My daughter  longs for the life we shared when she was little. Simpler, easier.  In her mind everything was just the way she wanted. She misses Easter dinner, candy, spoiling grandparents, aunts and uncles. (Who wouldn’t?)  But the day to day living here at home is foggy when she remembers it. Maybe selective is a better word.

She did not like bedtime. Or baths. Or any of the necessary activities, like her school or my work, that interrupted whatever she was doing to occupy herself.  I will say that when she was smaller the behavior problems were smaller.  Or, maybe, because she was smaller, I could physically manage her behavior more easily. I could pick her up and deposit her in her crib. Or her room

Now that she is nearly an adult, she wants the freedoms that come with adulthood, without any understanding of the responsibilities that it brings (this is typical teenager behavior, I know.)

The problem is, while she is big (grown up) on the outside , she is still little (maybe 5 or 6) on the inside. She does not have the capacity to manage either the freedoms or the responsibilities that come with adulthood. I’m very grateful for the crew of social workers, teachers,  and aides that help her manage her day to day chores and behavior.  It  makes me hopeful for her future.

While I enjoyed both of my children when they were little, I am so very grateful they are big.

 

Events change us.

Sometimes events (illnesses or tragic losses, for example) change us. They can add a perspective to life that was missing before the event occurred. Is this a good thing? If you decide it is, yes.

The restraints and pain that come from tragedy can force us to be different. Better. More humble. More kind.

Sometimes we don’t recognize, until much later, how an event has transformed us; how positively our lives have been impacted, even through pain.

Sometimes people change without any awareness that they’ve been transformed in a positive way. They don’t embrace hope. They don’t recognize any divine plan or care. They long for who they were before, without any appreciation of the remarkable person they have become through their struggle. Sadly, they don’t see themselves as capable, or worthy. They don’t seem to be able to focus clearly on the present or future; they can only look back at the loss; they cling to the past and miss out on the now.

Friendship, part 2

My friend of the frequent phone calls has tremendous friendship retention.*

But in my life, friendships change or end. Distance, time, changes in circumstance. Sounds like a math story problem, doesn’t it?

Some friendships just fade. They are still there, just not as vivid. These are the friends it is easy to reconnect with when they come to town or call out of the blue, or when you run into them at the grocery store. It’s like finding a comfortable pair of shoes in the back of the closet and discovering they still fit perfectly.

Other friendships end with a bang – an argument or betrayal; fortunately, I haven’t experienced many of those.

The saddest ones are the ones that vanish suddenly like a magician’s trick, into thin air: Makes you suspect the friendship was just a skillful illusion, makes you feel that you’ve been watching from the audience rather than being an active part of the show. When the curtain comes down you are still wondering what happened.

*Quite a tongue twister!

Friendship, part 1

I have a friend who frequently calls to check on me. I don’t see her often; she often is away, but she calls me regularly just to see how I am. If I needed something, she would help me. I would help her, too.

But the calling? I rarely call her – I return her calls if I miss them, of course, but I don’t initiate our contact. My friend is one of those people who has a real talent for staying in touch. Her parties include her neighbors from many years ago, former co-workers, high school friends…..I don’t think she has ever made a friend and lost track of them.

How did she become my friend? She had been a neighbor of my husband’s some years before he and I met. She invited us to card parties and cookouts. After the divorce, she and her husband remained friendly with me. I am grateful for her continued interest and care.

She has an outgoing manner and a knack for dealing with people, but I suspect most of her friendship success stems from the high priority she places on keeping in touch.

Ambulance chasers.

I do not swear. It is a personal conviction.  If I need to put someone in their place, I can do it very well with g-rated words and a glare. You know that expression – “if looks could kill.”

I have some words I use to express displeasure – for example, “bolognahead.”  It is a word my great aunt’s bird used to say – about her husband.  I use it  to describe people who behave stupidly.

Now, today, I have decided on a new non-curse word to exclaim when someone really ticks me off: “ambulance chaser.”  Why? because they are the lowest life-form on the planet,  and they are making my phone ring constantly, after the accident WHERE NO ONE WAS INJURED, (DO YOU HEAR THAT, MEDICAL  CLINICS?) AND AND NO ONE INVOLVED WANTS TO FILE A LAWSUIT (PAY ATTENTION,  LAWYERS!)! If I did need medical attention or legal advice, I would not get it from some fool who trolls police reports!!!

If we argue and I call you “ambulance chaser,” you better run. It means I am really mad, and I want you to go away!