Posts Tagged ‘live well’

Walking in shadow

Another  November 11.

It is a day we honor our veterans.

I revere this day. My flag is out early. Beautiful. As I am having coffee, I begin my calls. It does not take long. Many of my veteran relatives have passed. We are losing such an important generation.

My granddaddy served in WWI. He was always so proud of his service. He was a very soft-spoken man. I have his casket flag in a case, on my wall; with a commemorative, ‘plate’ that was evidently popular at the time.

My step-dad, James Wells, passed last year. He served in the Philippines. I had always called him to thank him for his service. He was always embarrassed that I would even mention it. His brother, my uncle also served. Horace Wells was a diver, tasked with finding explosives around our boats, ships, and subs. He passed away 2 months ago.

My father, Frank Conway served in Germany, in the occupation and in Korea when the war was hot. He was an aerial gunner for a time. They had a very short life expectancy. The Army sent him to OCS (officer’s candidate school) and his entire platoon shipped to Korea without him. Enemy forces killed the entire platoon the day they landed. He has never come to terms with that.

He is proud of his military service. His very large family also had veterans. They were all Navy. Dad went Army. His father missed the civil war by less than 10 years.

When I look at this history, I feel awe and pride.

My brother, Larry Conway served 2 terms in Viet Nam. He came home wounded. He is proud of his service, but he will never be the young man we said good-by to in Jacksonville when he was 19. Larry holds himself responsible for a young man who did not come home from an air mission. The 2 crew -members were shot down, KIA and Larry felt responsible. My opinion was that a wonderful angel pushed my brother out of the way. I am grateful. He is ashamed.

Our wounded are coming home in record numbers. Now they include more women than our system is accustomed to accommodating. With that in mind, I now take ‘women magazines’ to the VA centers. I take them books that I have enjoyed, gardening and fashion magazines, anything I think they might have been missing during the last year or two. It is no longer a man’s world. It is our world. Everyone’s’ world.

We owe honor to so many.

getting older, having fun

My birthday is coming.

I have always loved to celebrate a birthday. When I lived in Colorado and had my business, I would write a poem about the upcoming event, fax it to a bunch of my friends, and wait. The poem told them that we had one month to get together, their treat, for a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or cocktails. It was such fun. For an entire month, I would see people, re-new good friendships and catch up on life around me.

In our family, we sing to each other on our birthday. Each year, usually early, the phone will ring. It will be my brother or my stepmom and dad or my best friend. Years ago, it would also be my mom and step dad, my husband and his kids. This year my aunt will call, singing. My best pal across the street and my best friend who lives in Boulder will follow. My brother will call, singing. It is a family custom, and anyone pulled into our fray knows to participate. As a result, I will have a day filled with birthday song and good wishes. I love my birthday.

The more I relocate, the smaller my birthday pond becomes. In Colorado, I had about 30 interactions, getting together with friends because of my poem. I lived in Salem, Oregon just under 2 years and never had the opportunity to be so bold. When we moved to Spokane, I was no longer running a business and my friends all became my husband’s employee group or a very few neighbors. The boss’s wife cannot tell his employees to do anything so my poem had to stop. I miss that poem and the camaraderie it created.

Tomorrow my Facebook wall will fill with birthday wishes. I will never meet most of these people. We are online friends. We grieve together when something untoward happens to anyone in our ‘group’. We celebrate victories, however small, and send well wishes and homegrown knowledge to anyone who might require a bit of help. We recognize the newly formed units of family and friends. These are important relationships to us. They broaden our lives.

My best friend across the street will take me to lunch soon. This is our tradition. Another woman who lives nearby will do the same. I have begun getting fun cards in the mail. My step kids will probably call, which I cherish and I know my ‘almost-ex husband’ will think of me with a bit of regret.

Tomorrow I will not do anything that does not appeal to me.

Instead of sending my birthday poem, people will send me best wishes online because of computerized reminders.

Naturally, I will think of my mother, losing her, missing her, thanking her for life. I will think of friends and relatives who have a significant memory tied to my special day. It is my birthday. I would not consider ignoring this date. I earned this. “And Many More”

head games

Wishes were granted yesterday. I had my head examined. I was overdue.

Testing was intense. 5 hours of sitting in a small office, doing all types of things to show how my brain works, if at all. This is necessary because of several brain injuries and Alzheimer’s is being rampant in my family. As I prepare to move, I need to plan based on my hope to live independently.

My good fortune is finding humor everywhere in life.

The man (psychologist) was just as you would expect. He ‘tried’ to be fun, but is, after all, something of a scientist, anal, orderly, and controlled. My polar opposite.

While I took tests, he observed and surreptitiously scribbled secret notes. I asked if I might please have some water. He grabbed a coffee cup and obviously saw the horror on my face as he started to fill the dark brown-stained cup for me. He stopped. I had not meant to show my concern. I must have been fatigued. He said, “This bothers women,” pointing to the stains inside the cup. I agreed (wholeheartedly). He said, “It doesn’t bother men, why does it bother women?” I told him that most of us would fear the cup was not clean. I went on to say my brother had a heavily stained coffee cup. He carries it with him everywhere. Once, without realizing my transgression, I cleaned it. Thoroughly. I did the old ‘Polident’ tablet in the cup, twice. Then, I took a scouring pad to the offensive stains. The next morning, after putting it through the dishwasher, I proudly handed him his pristine cup. He asked what I had done. I told him I had just cleaned it, as if it were no big deal.

My brother left. When he returned, he had a new cup. He did not openly complain. After a year or so, his new cup looked just as bad as the one I had spent hours cleaning. He was happy again. I had clearly ruined his cup. I learned the lesson.

This man across from me asked if I needed a different cup. I said no (I lied). After another section of testing, he asked me how to remove the stains. Amazingly, men know that women fight stains. We get no extra salary for this. We get no recognition but men know we fight stains. We are wonder women without the snazzy costume and lasso. I told him to put a Polident tablet in it.

The look on his face was so odd. He almost looked embarrassed. Then he explained that he does not wear dentures. I smiled slightly and leaned over the table. I said, “You know, it’s interesting. You are allowed to buy them anyway. ‘They’ don’t even check.” He just stared at me. I could see I was not getting through to him. So, l leaned in a bit further and said, “In Texas, men are even allowed to buy sanitary napkins.” That did it. He broke. He laughed. He saw the humor.

We went back to the testing.

Two hours passed, immersed in the paperwork and the various tasks I was given. He finally saw that I needed a break. He told me I could take 10 minutes. I almost felt as if a lock was taken from the chain that held me in place at that small table. I bolted.

When I returned, I carried a large cup of coffee, extra shots. He was noticeably concerned. I apologized for bringing something into the exam room, assuming that was some sort of ‘rule’. It confused me, though, because we had been sitting there, drinking water from cups. He explained that the testing materials were very expensive and spilling coffee on them would be a problem. I was mortified that I could not be trusted with my cup of coffee, even though I am not known for being sloppy with beverages. Each time I took a sip, he watched carefully. It was an agonizing drink. During the time I consumed it, he explained twice more the expense of the materials. I knew I was on thin ice.

He turned a page in my booklet in front of me. There was crayon all over the page ahead of it. I asked how crayon got on this expensive booklet and how he could possibly expect me to use it, thus ruined. He was serious: “children are not easily controlled.” He went on to explain he had tried to get the crayon out of the page, to no avail. He asked if I might know of a way to remove the crayon. He asked if I needed a new booklet. He simply cannot help himself. He is a serious type.

During one part of switching materials, I asked him how long he had been married although I felt certain he was divorced. He did not want to share that information, which was fine. He DID mention that the crushing blow to the union was the desire of his wife to have a pet. He explained that a pet means there would eventually be a pet hair somewhere that it “doesn’t belong.” I had enough of a mental picture and needed no other explanation.

As we were reaching the end of the testing, he was rushing me. We were behind schedule. I realized what a huge transgression that was so I was doing my best to accelerate. He announced that we would not be able to finish but he thought he had enough to complete his analysis.

As he rushed me to the door, he explained that I would need to return for his results. We made another appointment.

I am edgy about the results. I am hopeful but recognize it is just going to be my life and I cannot control the outcome too much. I want to take a piece of cat hair. I just can’t help myself.

what did that cost?

I am selling everything. Ok. Almost everything.

I consider myself to be ‘divesting’. It is all very odd and different since I spent much of my life ‘collecting and holding’.

I wrote once about letting things go that you hold due to love and memories. I still adhere to that lesson. I recognize that ‘things’ are not people and ‘memories’ are not ‘things’. Therefore, I get the fact that by letting things go, I have not let go of people and memories that are important to me.

I am in new territory. Things I have owned and used for years and still see huge asset in owning. Point here is someone else should own them. I have had my time.

I have a shelf unit. My husband hated it from the get-go. During a time of particular stress in our family, I moved in with a relative to help him save his house. This shelf unit was almost our “un-doing.” The fight about this dumb thing was huge and scarring. My dad came to me one night, explaining that he could ‘cut the bottom of the unit’ to make it go to the basement and fit. That was heartbreaking to me. Nevertheless, I was the intruder. Saving the house did not mean I was welcome. We cut the poor shelf unit. Nobody would ever know it had been changed. I lamented. It was my custom-built shelf unit.

When my husband realized I was bringing it along to our marriage, he balked. I was surprised to recognize his dismay over my shelf unit. It has a drop down desk in the center, beautiful oak, cubbyholes, and all of the shelves fit onto dowels so you can mix, match, and create any design you desire, with your changing needs. What’s not to love? I just did not understand his upset. It ended up in our daughter’s bedroom. She could use the desk. She had lots of books and stuffed animals. It worked. We moved again and it was too tall for the ‘basement’, which we refer to as the ‘lower level’. I allowed it to be cut, again. Again, I am the only person aware of the cut. This thing has been impervious to pain.

In one place I lived, no wall was long enough for this unit. Therefore, I disassembled it. I put the desk into my bedroom and used the two rectangular shelf units in the living room, on each side of my picture window. Worked just fine. Perfect. I do not see the problem with this unit. Every time I move, and I have moved 6 times since I got the unit, I just work the puzzle of the thing to manage my new space. However, in the meantime, since it goes together immediately, sitting on dowels, I can get about 16 boxes off the floor, to create space. When you move, that is a huge deal. I love this unit.

Now, I am divesting. The shelf unit no longer suits my life. I know I will miss having the ability to get so many boxes off the floor in my next apartment or house. That was always a lifesaver, making a pathway through so many boxes. But. I have grown. I do not use 70’s shelf units anymore. The fact that this is relegated to the ‘basement’ of several houses says everything. I am letting the shelf unit go.

Someone looked at it and suggested $80. I almost threw up. A contractor came over, looked at it, and said there was probably $200.00 of good wood. Well, now we were talking! The problem, he explained, was how the wood was tied up with this shelf unit. Oh.

It took me another 6 weeks to digest this. I am now asking $80 for the shelf unit. Someone will get a great unit, or a bunch of good usable wood.

Am I crushed? No. I finally saw the light: I have had use of this shelf unit for 34 years. If I get ANY money for the wood or the unit, I am way ahead of the game. It is like selling a house. When you are leaving, you need to disengage yourself from what the next people might think or do. It is not longer important because you are ‘selling’, “divesting,” moving on.

I am moving. It is time. I am ready. Moreover, whatever anyone wants to buy, I will be willing to part with so that I can move forward. Looking into my past has not served me. Looking forward, to what I might create next is the only logical step I can take.

I love a bargain.

Let’s Pretend

Someone very important in my life is pretending. It disturbs me. That makes me question why:  not why she is pretending, but why do I let it disturb me?

She lost her husband, the love of her life. Now, she has taken up a sort of ‘cause’ to collaborate with another man, because he reminds her of her husband. The new guy is driving the family nuts. They cannot stand him. She cannot explain the attraction. I suspected. I asked. She said that sometimes she even calls him by her husband’s name, and then realizes what she has done. Fortunately, the man is so hard of hearing, he does not even know. She is paying many of his bills.

Another family member is keeping her doggy long past time. It is painful to see. The dog is not allowed outside. Ever. Will never again be allowed outside. The dog does all of its ‘business’ in the house, which is causing issues you can imagine. The dog can never be around any other dog due to an autoimmune disorder. The dog has such a small life. My family thinks it is better than putting the dog to sleep. They are continuing to search for ways to lessen the pain, to ease the suffering. My heart is breaking for the dog. My heart hurts for my family member. Prolonging the agony. I see no winner here.

Someone who used to be in my life is a chronic liar. It seems impossible to stop. Oddly, this person has high moral standards where others are concerned. He has shed people who lied. He has refused relationships with people doing exactly as he does. He pretends to be the man he wants to be. He pretends he is honorable. He pretends to be truthful. At the mere mention of a lie, he reacts negatively. He pretends.

Another person, very close to me is pretending his mom is doing well. She is not. She cannot hear, but neither he nor she will acknowledge that. She cannot remember but makes up reasons and blames others. She has begun hoarding things and creating reasons to do that. She is not well. He pretends she is.

I pretend all is well. I am out of money. I am frantic to pay my bills and find a place I can afford to live. I pretend to others that I know I will be fine. I will leave a life of luxury to live in a mobile home. My best friend reminds me that it will be the cutest mobile home anyone has ever seen. I pretend that is true. I pretend the place I park my new little trailer will be great. I pretend.

A neighbor of mine is battling for her child who is on drugs. My neighbor is a recovering alcoholic. Her husband pretends the daughter is fine. My neighbor sees the truth and cannot pretend. The daughter pretends she is clean every time she comes home to get some rest and money. Then, she leaves, buys more drugs, and pretends until she needs help again.

My parents pretend they are going to downsize. They live in an over-crowded home that they cannot maintain, in spite of the elevator they installed. They live in 3 rooms of a large home. They cannot manage much of anything but pretend they do. They pretend they will move to a smaller home and give in to age. They have pretended this for almost 15 years, when they began to look for homes in their area, slightly smaller. Now, in their 80’s, they pretend they will actually move to a 2 or 3 bedroom place, get rid of at least one car, since neither should drive anymore, and they will be fine. Neither of them is fine. They are elderly and have a list of ailments that would frighten anyone in their 40’s. Nevertheless, they pretend.

I used to pretend that love would solve anything. I pretended that one day someone would ‘complete me’. I used to pretend that my life would be different. I pretended that true love would make everything else work. I pretended that having someone to share my life with was important. That being alone was somehow sad.

When my friend lies, I pretend to believe. When my parents contemplate their move, I pretend to listen to new plans. When my neighbor says his daughter has finally learned, I pretend to congratulate. When my relative pretends her husband is still beside her, I pretend to understand. When someone tells me of love, I pretend to bask in his or her glow.

I remember how I would pretend as a child. I would pretend I was a doctor, or a nurse, or a pilot or a mother. I would pretend my future, always rosy, never difficult. I would pretend I would be popular, famous, smart, or beautiful.

When things go awry, don’t most of us pretend they will improve? I think improvement is really acceptance. At first, we cannot envision accepting the difficulty we face. Then, we grow accustomed to what life will be. Then, we recognize it did not kill us. It did not end so many things. We just learned to get along.

I guess I never stopped. I just pretend.


I’ve been thinking about my friends. Learning who your friends are is important. Your friends are people you can reach for when you need to lean. I recognize how fortunate I am to count so many.

I have many friends from my airline days. These men and women have been physically absent from my life for decades. If I need any one of them, they will  immediately respond. That is friendship. I just got a phone message from one. She lives in Atlanta. We haven’t seen each other in 25 years but stay in constant contact. Her husband had an affair. Then her next husband did the same. She is living on social security, close to the bone, after marrying with houses and investments. She is now bereft emotionally and financially. She is a wonderful friend to me. We have the same pain. However, we had such fun and wonderful memories. We laugh. Everyone needs to laugh. It reminds us to live and enjoy life. We are fortunate. Sometimes we just need to remember.

I have friends from so many neighborhoods where I had homes. Manhattan, Orlando, Miami, Boulder, Colorado Springs, St. Croix, Gainesville, Salem, Spokane, Nuremburg, Munich, Frankfort, Oberammergau, Ft Knox, Redstone Arsenal, and others that I can only remember vaguely. Incredibly, I still am in touch with friends from almost all of those locations.

Now I have many friends I have never met. They are all on Facebook. According to my profile, I have 176 of them. Amazing. These men and women know of my impending divorce, know I have a cat and recently lost one, know I live in Washington and know I love to write. They know I flew, they know I care. They are my friends.

If these friends were around me on a daily basis, I wonder how much they would still want to be my friend. Am I whiny, controlling, difficult, dumb, or boring? Who knows? The beauty of this group of friends is the instant connection we all know. If I need help, look to Facebook. My friends there will immediately rally. I have seen them come together as a force whenever needed.

I have a wonderful friend nearby. We never see each other. We plan, we swear, we promise, we mean well. It simply does not happen. Like me, she is recovering from an ‘indiscretion’ from her husband, the love of her life. As he has moved on with his mistress, she has had to pick up the pieces of their lives, sell their home, and find a new place to re-start, saying goodbye to so many memories and so much pain. We ‘get’ each other completely. She is about 1 year farther down my road. It helps me to see that. I remember when I learned of her pain. Now I recognize I was not supportive enough. We all just go through the motions of help and support. We do not necessarily tie that to our hearts when we should, as friends. My lesson came later. Gratefully, she has continued to be my friend in spite of my lapse.

This is friendship. We ebb and flow. We understand and forgive. On a daily basis, it might not work so well.

As we each move through our lives, some friends come and some simply stay forever. I am blessed with both. You need some of them for a bit of time. That time finally passes and the friend needs to pass with it. They did their job. You did yours. Time to move. Time to change.

A friend just called. Incredible. We have not spoken in so long. She just asked me to come for the weekend. I am going. What could be better than a weekend with one of your dearest friends?

We have so many and they are so willing to help.

can you change the ending?

A friend of mine is not in great health; his time is short.

I have lost so many people in my life and my family. You begin something of a routine. It becomes necessary to continue in your daily life while you monitor the person who is leaving theirs. Routines help us cope. Knowing the ending is difficult but you still must keep moving forward, toward that difficulty.

It’s almost like a movie you love, but cry when you watch. You enjoy the good parts yet you know the worst is to come and regardless of many repeats, you will still cry. You love that movie.

Family and friends gather in a hospital. It is a kindness for them to come to a grim place like this. They want to pay their respects to the family and the friend. It is true respect. That respect carries through a funeral service. You do not attend a funeral for the person who is gone. You attend for the family to see how valued their beloved member was in life. It is respect.

When my mom passed away, I was determined to have a gathering of the fun and joy she created. Several people were kind enough to relate their stories of time spent with her, laughing or being amazed. Everyone in the chapel laughed, even though many of us had to give into our tears. My mom was always laughing. We said good-by in style and I know she enjoyed watching.

Because of my mom’s service, I do my best to attend those for my friends. I go because the family deserves to feel their loved one touched many lives. Respect.

I was talking to a friend today about respect. Specifically we were sharing the importance of being certain our next generation of women learns respect. So many lives change due to a lack of respect. Naturally, you cannot respect others until you respect yourself. Young women are especially in need. Our society still operates on ages-old routines. Many continue to make young girls obsolete in favor of young boys. Women will always be necessary because we give birth. However, young girls have consistently been pushed to the back. If these young girls do not learn their importance while they are children, they will have a more difficult time standing firmly for themselves as adults.

Our school systems believed that young women could not really grasp math and science. Astonishing. My father did not think a girl needed college. He pushed my 3 brothers to attend, even though none of them did well in high school. For me, it was not an option. He decided I would just find a husband. This idea is still alive and well in many families even though women are now more than half of the workforce.

Once a young woman values herself, she begins to expect equality in her life. Men do it so easily but women have to be taught by parents, teachers, and relatives. We need to change this. Once done, I believe many teen pregnancies will be avoided. When a young girl realizes she has more in life than to ‘catch a boy’, her options open fully. Once open, they rarely close. This has nothing to do with being pushy. It has everything to do with pushing yourself. Respect.

Being strong and respecting yourself means there is no sign of weakness to tears. Crying when your soul aches is a sign of love felt. You can only be as happy as you have allowed yourself to be sad. The valleys and peaks must balance. That is respect you owe yourself in life.

I wish for women. I hope for humanity. I pray for leaders who will make rules. I do not know how this will end. Movies and books cannot tell me. I have to play it out to the end. Nothing can foretell this.

How much do I wish I really knew? I wish I knew. Sometimes knowing the end isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Can I help?

The winter Olympics made me sick. I remember vividly that they made me sick last time. I can watch the summer Olympics but the winter Olympics just make me sick. Maybe I make myself sick.

I lean, move, and try to jump. I am helping. I am doing my very best to help them bobsled, short-track, race, do moguls. I cannot help myself. I have tried not to lean and move to no avail. Then, I get sick.

I recognize it is a mind/brain issue. I know my eyes have something to do with it too but I get so sick trying to lean into the necessities. Boy it makes me sick. I talked to my brother about it. Turns out he is doing the same thing. Made me wonder how many people in the world are leaning, trying to help, leaning without meaning to help. We just cannot stop leaning, helping. However, for me: it makes me sick. I get nauseous. This time was bad. I’m wondering if it’s my brain injury. It really doesn’t matter. I just know that I get sick to my stomach now. Consequently, I had to stop the program repeatedly, giving myself time to recover. I really did get sick.

My dad’s brain is not working too well all of a sudden. He has no injury. Yet, many people are older and they function fine. He does not. He has good days and he has horrible days. His brain is not working well.

My brother is somewhat ill. Cancer keeps stabbing at his body. He continues to fight it off. He is not as he was, but who of us is? I want to help. I need to help.

One of my dearest friends will not eat. She has been too thin for years and refuses to recognize it. Many of us are not doing as well as we had imagined we would at our respective ages. Illnesses and such were for the old.

We watch these incredible athletes every four years. We remember when we used to ski, to skate, to dare. It’s wonderful. Nevertheless, it really makes me sick. I just cannot continue helping them. I try not to lean. It does not work.

Where I live, my birds have begun to return. I have a wildlife habitat in my back yard and the birdhouses are already filling. It seems early but I am not in charge of the schedule. I had a large hawk here yesterday, hunting. Anytime I walk up on that huge bird, we are both startled. It flies, I watch in awe. Such grace and such deadly ability to take out little animals I am helping hatch.

One of the birds makes a sloppy mess of the birdhouse. I believe this is a Hammond’s Fly Catcher. The nest sticks and straw protrude from the opening in the birdhouse. The first year they were with me, I noticed the ‘mess’ and pulled those strands out, making the opening more tidy. It was only for me. I did not give a thought to the bird. I did not want it to look unkempt. The next morning, the sticks and straw were again sticking out of the opening. I got the point. A friend of mine mentioned the very same thing in one of her houses. We both realized that this is a trait and we need to stay out of the nesting ritual. I know the birds are back because suddenly I have sticks and straw making obvious notice in the birdhouse. I walk past, refusing to touch anything. I barely glance.

They don’t need my help. Neither do those golden athletes. Sometimes I have to sit on myself to leave things alone. This is not my job, is not my business, and is not my niche.

A friend of mine cannot let her garden be natural. Anyone who knows me, realizes I am a fan of cottage gardening. My flowers and grasses are sprouting hither and yon. I love the carefree idea. She cannot live with that. She could not let foliage die. She had to cut it so it would look better. Cutting tulip leaves and daffodil leaves will cause less growth for the next season. Soon she had no flowers. Remember that ad: “don’t fool with mother nature”? It’s true. We need to learn to leave things alone. Sometimes that is too much for many of us.

So, as my dad’s brain continues to misfire and my brother has his battles, the birds and the deer and everything wild will do pretty well. They don’t concern themselves with much of anything except survival. They will eat as needed to fuel themselves. In their world, you are not too fat. You just ARE.

In the world of flowers and grasses, they will overgrow and the weaker will not. In my world of the Olympics, the summer is good; the winter is difficult. I still try to help.

It makes me sick.

curtain up: it’s all in how you act, isn’t it?

we are all so busy. it’s that time of year. holidays bring more and we all react. Re-act. good word. We aren’t quite ourselves if we ‘re-act’ are we? so many expected examples, traditions, and issues.

I have bats living above my bedroom, in a crack in the roofline. I like what bats do. I dislike what people still believe about bats. I was raised to believe that bats would swoop down into my hair if I were walking in a field at dusk. odd. yet, people believed that. I do realize that bats are some of the most voracious insect eaters on the planet. our chemicals are destroying them. they are becoming endangered. like butterflies, which we love, they and bumblebees, which we require, are being destroyed by the chemicals we use in our landscape.

the nights I can’t sleep, I turn toward my bedroom window and hope to watch bats, zipping around, and catching insects. I know that mosquitoes will not be biting the next day. I enjoy watching them swoop, stop on a dime and swoop in a different direction, catching their prey. I find it interesting.

I’m waiting for the moose to amble into my yard. they always come in the winter. I am awed by their size. opposite of  bats, the moose seem to just destroy my landscape because they are enormous and will eat anything they reach. they reach very well. but, because they are moose, they are forgiven being so incredible in size and not so often seen. and, moose are rarely said to dive at your head at dusk.

then I have that damned skunk. she (yes, I know) comes regularly now. when I was still an idiot, I tried to run her off one afternoon. you don’t do that twice. she comes in the evening. she eats fallen birdseed, next to my hedge. she began digging a hole. I put a stop to that. I do not want a den of skunks. they are hard to shed. and, in most states, it’s against the law to kill them. I am not the type to kill animals. I am more interested in trying to shoo them away. I’ve tried most things with this skunk. she scoffs at my efforts. cute, but not welcome. nor is the raccoon.

that’s the point, isn’t it? things we love and things we don’t. some are welcome, some are not.

traditions are welcome. the strife that comes along, not so much. family, always welcome. typical fights, no. trying to make things ‘just so’ because people are visiting: don’t. it’s just too much stress and reaction.

I remember one evening at my folks’ house. we had almost the entire family visiting. 3 brothers, 2 sisters, spouses, 2 nephews, one niece. I walked into the kitchen to put dishes away from the deck. we had just finished an incredible dinner. when I came in, my mom was madly scooping cookie dough onto sheets, ready to slam into the oven. the look on her face as I walked in was almost terror. I’ve never forgotten it. she was scooping about 15 per minute, it seemed. I offered to help. She tersely said “no, and don’t’ you DARE tell anyone I’m making cookies”. I went back outside. I knew the tension. she wanted this to be fun and easy and obviously it was nothing similar. she was frantic.

when she presented the cookies, on adorable trays, napkins ready, she was beaming and would not look at me. it was too much knowledge. she wanted it to ‘happen to be perfect’. I’ve never lost that lesson. it’s ok to just be ‘ok’. it’s fine to just relax and let people gather, laugh and pitch in. you don’t have to do it all.

so I am starting to decorate for Christmas. I learned yesterday that Christmas is a week from now. ooops. I’ve had no clue. my mind is clouded with so many things. I just knew it was ‘sometime’ and thought I might actually decorate. I was planning to put lights out this weekend. well, I’m not doing THAT now. good grief. by the time I get them up, it’s time to take them down. I have lost track. I don’t have time to react. I had also realized this is my last year in this wonderful home and setting. that makes me sad. that made me decide to really do one last Christmas so I wouldn’t regret it later. ohwell. traditions change. I will make Christmas in my next house and be just fine.

so, while I watch the bats, shoo the skunk and wait for the moose, I realize that everything is really ok. I am not going to change the axis of our planet by what I do or don’t. the big wheel keeps on turning.

I have sworn off the stricken look I saw that night in my mother’s eyes. I have sworn off the rush and need of a calendar. I do things because I enjoy them, not because it’s expected. expected by me or expected by others. they are the same. I need to keep specific appointments, medical appointments, and lunch with friends. not much else is really that important. when I begin to work again I’ll keep those appointments as well. otherwise, I am now on ‘alexa time’ and the living is really not so bad.

I have more time to act.

it isn’t the cost of the item; it’s usually the memory you buy

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about things we treasure and things we need to keep and want to buy.

My husband spied a small milk jug one day in a bargain store. It was just a quart milk pitcher, worn and scuffed from years of use, glass, with a handle. It was just a small pitcher. He had to have it. He said it would be to keep our milk in, in the fridge. Women all over the world know why that open pitcher to keep milk in is not a great idea. Additionally, the only time he used milk was if he had cereal in the mornings. I was the one who drank milk.

We got the pitcher. Once I had washed it, he dutifully poured our milk out of the milk carton and into the old glass pitcher. There! The trace of a smile went across his mouth. All was well in his world. Mine was less well.

I once picked up a ‘hostess set’ that was 8 glasses in a heavy chrome basket. The glasses all matched. The chrome basket was ageless to me. I had to own it and the price was great. I use it for water glasses and iced tea glasses when my guests come for dinner.

A good friend of mine has a ‘sprinkler bottle’ to sprinkle her clothes before she irons them. Most of us remember those. Our mom’s and our grandmother’s all used them. once in a while you’ll find that little bottle top, cork intact, with holes all over the opening. We know immediately what it is for but our kids don’t understand.

The odd thing to me is that we are picking up nostalgia. Not JUST nostalgia, but nostalgia from our childhood, and usually from our mothers.

His memory of the milk pitcher was the one always in the fridge when he came home from school. My memory was of my mother hosting her bridge parties, white gloves, nice card table, coffee service nearby and the glasses with ice, for lemonade or iced tea, in their carrier.

My friend remembers her mother ironing and teaching her to iron her fathers’ hankies. Her parents both passed away too young and I can understand her holding onto things like this.

Interestingly, after the first use of the milk pitcher, it was relegated to the shelf, by my husband. I use the hostess glasses and carrier sometimes but not as often. My girlfriend never irons. Not anything.

No one wants to let go of those silly items. It would almost be letting go of our parents or our childhood again. My mom has passed. I want anything to remind me of her presence. My husbands’ mother is still with us but he doesn’t want the pitcher discarded, he just doesn’t want to use it after all. When he began packing, I offered it to him. It still sits on the shelf. My girlfriend has the stopper to the water bottle in her china cabinet, with her other treasures. close but not in use.

Until very recently I had a pair of my mothers and my step dad’s tennis shoes. They used to come visit me at least once a year and we all three loved to garden. Instead of carrying the shoes back and forth, dirty with soil and mud, they each left a pair. I was unable to let my mother’s sneakers go, after she passed. I needed that reminder. I needed to see them and realize she might be attached to them in some way, therefore to me.

Watching a show on TV one day I heard someone remind me of what we all know: they are not in ‘the things’. They are all in our hearts. They live within us. We don’t need the sneakers, the pitchers, the sprinkler tops. we just need our open loving hearts. I think we all have that, don’t you? That doesn’t mean that anyone should rush another to discard something precious in their own minds. We’ll manage that in our own way eventually. But my mothers’ tennis shoes and her husbands both went to a soup kitchen not long ago. They both volunteered all of their lives and so have I. When I walked in with them, a man and woman immediately asked if they were for someone special. Of course they were. A man and a woman who needed better shoes. Worn, but still able to serve as footwear.

I know my parents smiled. I smiled. The man and woman smiled. We all felt just a little better. And, just as I had expected, it didn’t make me lose my mom or dad all over again. It made them go even further in my lifetime.

I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep my hostess set. I do recognize that I’m keeping it because it makes me smile. the shoes somehow made me sad. Now absent, they make me feel good.

I found myself looking at some old cookie cutters recently at a thrift store.  my mom had them all. We baked cookies together. My stepdaughter and I did likewise a few times. Now, I make cookies occasionally but oh those cookie cutters were calling me. As I stood there, handling the few that I have somehow lost, knowing I could again have all of the ones my mom used to have I glanced out the store window. There was a family standing across the alley at a restaurant back door, near the dumpster. A man, woman and 2 children. The man and the little girl wore shoes I could easily recognize. I smiled again, tears popped into my eyes as I put the cookie cutters down. Walking to my car I swelled with the love of my family and again felt that smile.

The next day I made cookies. I made every shape possible. I spent hours baking. Then, I took 5 dozen cookies to the soup kitchen, with 4 more pairs of sneakers I had stopped wearing years earlier and ‘saved’. Everything made sense. The cookie cutters didn’t know they were missing some of their counterparts. I didn’t notice that I was missing old sneakers. I just noticed the warm feeling I had inside, all the way down to my toes when I sat down, drinking milk out of my hostess glass and eating leftover cookies.

Sometimes all you really need is love.