Poopy Matters

I honestly do not keep track of what I write in this space; I’m much too lazy for that. But I am fairly certain that somewhere in the bowels of this space I have shared a pet peeve or two. Just in case however, since I’ve nothing better to do as I continue life in limbo in my new state, I’ll share again one of my pet peeves:

People too lazy to scoop the poop.

Yes indeed kind reader, I know. There are gazillions of issues more pressing in the world to get one’s knickers in a twist over but still, It’s particularly maddening (IMHO) to see piles of poop on sidewalks, in yards, and in common areas particularly when there are Pet Waste stations readily available; in fact, practically on every street corner in my area.

Here we are in our temporary apartment situation and I’m simply aghast by the amount of dog poop everywhere especially given that Pet Waste stations, such as the one pictured which is around the corner from our apartment, are EVERYWHERE in this large apartment and condo complex. Add to that is the astounding fact that these Pet Poop stations are also conveniently placed INSIDE the various dog parks in this complex. These dog parks are actually quite nice as they are covered with artificial turf, have pet playground equipment, access to water and, in some cases, a shaded area for pet owners to sit while their pups romp. And yet, Every. Single. Dog Park that the Poodle and I have visited since our arrival are littered with piles of poop despite easy access to these well-stocked Pet Waste stations. And no, the rationale that it is perhaps the job of the grounds crew does not fly! There is signage everywhere stating the obvious: CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR PET!

Chalk it up, I suppose, to a universal truth: There are downright rude people in this world.

While we are on the subject of poop, I have learned to differentiate between mouse poop and lizard poop.

Clearly I have a lot of time on my hands at the moment.

So, here we are getting the scoop, as it were, on the home inspection for our new digs. Most everything came out clean as a whistle with the exception of a few minor issues with the roof. The home inspector had photographed one such issue where there was evidence of a rodent in the attic Naturally, I wanted this investigated and remediated and the sellers were absolutely on board to address the issues. Turns out the poop droppings in the attic were not due to mice or, God forbid, rats.

Report conclusion:The droppings are consistent with lizards and frogs; most likely lizards. Because lizard droppings are normal in Florida attics and not preventable, no remediation is suggested.”

Lizards…Frogs? In the attic? Oh my! Though it was over five years ago (In Alabama) my too-close encounter with a frog seems like only yesterday. I mean really, how does one get “lucky’ enough to have a frog fall on top of one’s head when opening a door to step out into the yard?

Of course, this got me to thinking: what does lizard poop look like?

As much as I loathe relying on Google, I just had to know. So, into the Google world I went and yes, I now know the difference between mouse poop and lizard poop. Inquiring minds, you need search no further: Lizards poop and pee out of the same orifice so their poop is characterized by a white tip which is crystalized uric acid.

Lizard Poop: Photo by Gary Nafis

Now I have lizards on the brain (as well as snake poop….Thanks Google!).

So, I happen to know that there is a lizard-in-resident at my new home-to-be. I spotted him perched on the current owners lounge chair while I was walking the small patio area. He did not seem skittish at all; in fact, he seemed rather curious, as if to communicate: Wait…what?! New humans will be invading my space?

So, I’m going to give him a name; I think Sir Geoffrey fits. This is a wink and a nod to my nephew who has a silly history with the name. I am sure to be one nervous ninny with Sir Geoffrey around as I learned too, that lizard poop is dangerous; it can contain salmonella.

Salmonella…no bliss in that to be sure. Ah, but the adventure continues and that means, if nothing else, on some level…more neuroplasticity is taking place for moi.

So Far, He’s Not Impressed…

A certain someone has yet to be impressed. My last post, which seems like eons ago, should provide a clue as to who that would be.

Ah yes, The Poodle. He’s having a little trouble adjusting (as this writer is) which of course, makes me feel like a bad mamma.

So, I imagine my old boy is having a conversation in his head and it goes something like this:

Okay… let me get this straight humans. We had this perfectly nice house with a screened-in porch that you guys loved to sit in and drink your libation on cool evenings while doing the crossword puzzle. You had this perfectly big house that you even took the expense and headache to renovate creating among other things a totally awesome kitchen where access to my food bowl was in a perfect location and my bed was positioned to see all the comings and goings in the house. And, said home was located in a perfectly lovely neighborhood with plenty of yard and an abundance of squirrels to bark at. And let us not forget miles of paths to explore through verdant woods, around a lake where lots of people walked their four-legged loves, and… most important of all…a home where my very best friend on the planet, and her family, lived seventy steps away from me.

AND YOU DECIDE TO LEAVE THAT? Crazy humans!

Wowza kind readers, lets just say that just over three weeks ago was a wild weekend in Northern Virginia. We literally blinked and our house was sold. We had heard the news of the craziness of the housing market across the country but didn’t fully appreciate it until we were experiencing it. I’ve made many moves in my lifetime; the swiftness of this one was dizzying to say the least. It wasn’t a lack of preparedness on my part that made things so crazy; I had, after all, spent a good number of weeks prior gathering items for donation, shredding boxes of obsolete and outdated paperwork and in general, shedding stuff. The lightening speed at which things occurred was almost surreal; I simply wasn’t ready to leave my sis and family so damned fast.

So here we are in sunny Florida. We’re in a temporary corporate apartment situation for another three weeks until we move into our new home. Our situation is not ideal in that we are battling with maintenance to fix the air conditioning. As I type it’s 83 degrees in this second floor apartment. Two service calls have been made over the course of five days which ended with the line: “All fixed now ma’am.” Um…no; not fixed! Over the weekend, we were back to square one with a non-functioning system. Another service call was made early this morning but I’ve yet to see or hear from maintenance. I’m steaming…literally, but trying mightily not to be a pain in the tush. As I drip with sweat I think of those who aren’t fortunate to have air conditioning, let alone a roof over their head.

We’ll be down more than 1700 square feet when we finally move into our new digs which means, when all is said and done, I will be pitching even more stuff! As I remain in this limbo state I’ll admit that a touch of the blues have got a hold of me (and no, not because of needing to shed more stuff). Simply put, I miss the daily hugs of my nephew and the routine of my Virginia life. The rhythm of life has once again been upended. Of course, that is not necessarily a bad thing. It was a choice to do so after all. It simply reinforces, of course, the impermanence of things–a point that I sometimes forget (consciously or otherwise) in the routine of daily life.

And, apparently my old man Poodle has a case of the blues too. He’s quite confused in this tiny space we all find ourselves in. Though he’s smelling new things (which one would think would make him jazzed) and peeing on quite different and interesting vegetation, not to mention an unusual number of rabbits in the area, his routine has been upended too. So, in an effort to lift his spirits we took him to the dog beach just yesterday. As much as I loved seeing the ocean, the dog beach didn’t thrill us one bit…not like the excellent adventures we had with him during Outer Banks vacations where he could run free for miles on the beach. The approved dog beach area is about the size of my Virginia yard and dogs have to stay leashed. That was disappointing.

I’m sure The Poodle was thinking: Where is the fun in this?

While we did see some folks allowing their pups off leash we were given the newcomer’s briefing by several law abiding dog owners: Fines for unleashed dogs, not to mention fines for unregistered dogs. Since we are new to the area and have not yet registered our pooch, we certainly weren’t keen on risking a $110 fine. Still, we walked the short stretch of beach allowed–back and forth for a good ten minutes–getting paws and toes wet– and we tracked a boatload of sand back into the car.

“Get used to it my love; We will always have sand in the car,” says hubby.

It’s going to take some time, but eventually, we’re sure to find bliss in our new state. Air conditioning would be cool start, if you get my drift. I’m hopeful.

In the meantime, have I got a lot to learn about the flora around me!

Something Weird This Way Comes?

Change is in the Air. I can feel it!

I’ll think it again…and again…and again:

These humans can certainly be a strange bunch. I just don’t get them sometimes.

Take for example a recent event. My pack leaves me for nearly ten days!  I know..egregious…right!  So, this was bad, nearly hellacious I’d venture.  Okay, I might… perhaps… be playing the drama card a bit much. After all, I was on a “vacay” of sorts too…at a home that had other dogs, cats, and even a mini-horse. Things there were ever so interesting and new, which kept the wheels in my nearly thirteen year-old noggin spinning right along. Truthfully, I only missed my pack at night. Still, after my humans returned home you’d have thought they’d be all relaxed like a bowl filled with jiggly-wiggly jello. Instead, there is a certain tenseness about, particularly with my one true love…my “mom.”

As a matter of fact, all this electricity in the air began a week ago. I’d find my mom standing still as a statue for interminably long moments looking out over the back yard or sitting out on the screened-in porch deep in thought…or downright sad. Once I caught her crying in her favorite chair. She wasn’t even watching television so I thought perhaps a book she was reading was making her sad. And then there were the sometimes clipped exchanges between mom and dad. I’m not an expert on the human language by any means. Cheese, treat, sit, stay, roll-over, kiss, paw, hungry, shake, go poop, go car, go bed, get squeaky ball, where’s dad, and let’s go see Nica, are currently the extent of my vocabulary. I can learn more—old dogs can in spite of what you’ve heard otherwise—but I’m pacing myself. Let me be clear; mom and dad weren’t shouting at each other and mom wasn’t throwing anything (although, the former does happen on occasion and certainly did for some months between mom and that other human she had incredible emotion for who was living in the basement.  Yep…gotta admit…those occasions  made me retreat to my bed fraught with worry! 

So now, Mom and dad have also been sitting at the computer—together. That is very concerning!! That happens rarely. I can feel something weird this way comes. In fact, just the other day they were spending so much time doing goodness knows what on that computer that I kept nosing mom’s hand to get her attention…as in, PICK ME UP mom because I NEED YOU!    You see, Mom has her computer upstairs and dad has his downstairs. So it is only logical to be confused as to WHY are they sitting together in dad’s office.

But the real kicker that has my anxiety level ramped up once again is all this cleaning and filling-up large black bags, taking boxes out into the garage, and the paper shredder which has been on hyper drive for days now.  And, the worst of it all is that all too familiar sound of tape coming off a dispenser.

The light bulb goes off. 

Uh oh.  I know what’s happening. I know exactly what is happening.

Oh no. NO, NO, NO! Not again!

Yep.

We’re moving.

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

A Sore Butt Equals a Happy Heart

My Oh my what a month March was!

Made it to 8,100 ft. elevation without walking. Full disclosure: The bike guide had to help me hoist the bike up for the photo as I was toast!

So, we’re just back from our second—yes, second— get-outta-Dodge excursion. Like animals escaping from a zoo, we bolted outside of the perimeter of our county when Covid vaccinations —including ours—were becoming more widespread. We braved flights in air not once, but twice; first to “Land of the Free” Florida and then to the Saguaro-dotted hills of Tuscon, Arizona. Masks were plentiful, some social distancing too, but for the most part it was business as usual for both states. Everything was open and common-sense practices in effect. It made me think once again how grateful I was NOT to be living under the draconian rules of places like California or New York.

How lovely it was to walk on the beach for a few days with freshly painted Pompeii Purple toe nails happy to splash in still chilly seawater. A drive up the coast to check out the quaint historic town of St. Augustine was also on our weekend agenda. Though it was windy and cold (I had not dressed appropriately for chilly weather) we managed to enjoy a leisurely lunch there and a tour of the Lightner museum as well as a quick stop at the historic St. Augustine lighthouse. Honestly, I could kick myself for dressing in shorts and not bringing a jacket; if I’d prepared properly we would have spent much more time strolling around and learning more about the oldest continuously-inhabited European-established settlement in the contiguous United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish admiral, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés–who would also become Florida’s first governor, this charming city was a mention by my daughter to consider for the next phase of our lives. At first blush upon arrival, we thought indeed it could be! However, after talking with an overly chatty local over a lunch of delicious fish sandwiches and a crisp Chardonnay, we thought better of it as 81 hurricanes have been recorded in St. Augustine since 1930!

A few weeks after our long weekend get-away to Florida we traveled to Arizona. March 2020 was supposed to be our fifth excellent bicycle vacation with Bicycle Adventures but of course that got summarily squashed due to a global pandemic. Hubby pushed the trip to October 2020 and that too was ceremoniously squashed because of issues with my son. Hubby insisted a third time would be the charm even as I kicked and “screamed” NO! to keeping the booking for March 2021. He needed the mental break in the worst way not to mention being loathe to losing the cycling deposit. As for moi? I had not trained for six continuous days of cycling (truth be told, I had not trained at all!) nor was my mildly depressed mindset interested in…well…frankly anything following all the drama of the past year. I was resigned to my pity-party state, which was, of course, exactly why Hubby, with a stern final voice, insisted “WE ARE GOING!”

So, here I am…just returned from six days in the bike saddle, touring miles upon many miles around the uniquely harsh but magnificent landscape of the Sonoran desert. My butt is mighty sore but my heart is happy and my spirits hopeful in spite of the many unknowns that lie ahead for us. Hours of bright, warm sunshine plus long challenging rides —to include a continual 4.25 hours of an uphill climb to 8,100 ft., up Tuscon’s beautiful Mt. Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest, will do that to body and soul.

This was, one of the rare times, that I said to Hubby: “Yes…you were right.”

There is (particularly for him) bliss in that.

p.s. I’ll share more photos of the week once I figure out why, all of the sudden, my iPhone images with HEIC extension are not allowed on WordPress. Harrumph.

Bicycle Adventures 2021

Soup Soothes…

Between rain, freezing rain and then snow it’s been a gloomy couple of weeks. Today though, the sun seems happy to make a glorious comeback, shining through leafless tress and onto lawns, sidewalks and streets covered with snow and sheets of ice. The wind is howling though, which made for a very short morning walk with The Poodle. He tried my patience mightily as he was in absolutely no hurry to get his business done despite the frigid temperature and roaring wind. I yanked and yanked on The Poodle’s lead as I navigated cautiously around patches of ice and piles of snow turned to impressively large blocks of ice thanks to the recent activity of snow plows.

“The next house, if that ever happens, is going to include a fenced-in yard,” I say to my boy through chattering teeth.

The route that usually takes barely twenty minutes with The Poodle takes more than forty, not just because of his lollygagging of course, but because of all the ice. I, for one, was terrified of falling and breaking something, but even The Poodle was slipping at times which had to have been uncomfortable for him due to his arthritis. By the time we returned to the house I was convinced that I was in stage one hypothermia. Even through my favorite impossible-to-do-anything thick mittens my fingers were so numb I could not get The Poodle’s lead off, nor his handsome winter jacket. I left both on for a good ten minutes while I made myself another cup of coffee to warm up. Naturally he was a tad confused, standing in the foyer waiting patiently for his human to act appropriately.

A steaming hot shower and another cup of coffee still did not warm me up sufficiently. Hubby would advise that I turn up the thermostat. Admittedly, I am stubborn on a few things (stress on few). The thermostat setting is one of them. While I like to be warm, I can’t stand feeling smothered in heat when indoors, not to mention the added expense on the heating bill. A setting of 67℉, max is perfectly fine with me plus I get a smiley face report (literally) from the utilities company stating that my winter energy consumption is far better than my neighbors. There is bliss in that!

As the day progresses I know that some sort comfort food will be necessary for dinner. I’m still recovering, as it were, from the heartache and stress from a few days before of getting my son out of my house, again. There is absolutely no joy in this…no cause to celebrate this third (final) ousting. All the reasons literally make my heart, soul, and every bone in my body ache. I still feel as if I am pulling myself up through quicksand.

Thankfully, our “Dry January” is well over and wine is on the menu again. And no…I did not give up a thing for Lent as I have done for some forty or so years. This year it is what it is. I’m giving instead, more smiles and compliments to whomever crosses my path. Even one to the lady in our neighborhood who walks her German Shepherd (she’s a thoroughly odd individual and I often almost run in the opposite direction when I see her coming). I know. Perhaps it’s too small of a “give” but after so many months of constant stress, it’s what I can muster. And, although the lazy bug has got me good lately, I still managed to pull off a spur-of-the-moment delicious bowl of cabbage and potato soup. Oh my, I’m feeling rather tickled with myself! How lovely it was to end the day with a healthy and hearty soup, drizzled with olive oil, topped with cracked pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, good crusty bread and a fine wine. I’m sufficiently warm now, blissfully enveloped in a post-dinner satiety with The Poodle in my lap and a happy husband at my side. Honestly, I want for nothing (well…almost nothing). So yes dear reader, though it wasn’t chicken soup, I’d certify that indeed, soup soothes the soul.

There is bliss in that.

A Maple Glaze Saves the Day

Photo by Amelia Hallsworth on Pexels.com

The other day I was sitting in the car outside of a medical facility waiting for my rocket-man.

Oh, wait a minute: Can I even call him that anymore now that he is out of work?

The air was crisp at 32 degrees but the sun was finally shining after a week of winter gray…and forty-eight hours of intermittent snow showers. I’d brought my Kindle to read as I waited in the car. I’m still working on Sharyl Atkisson’s book, Slanted and Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning, All The Light We Cannot See. Hubby’s procedure from start to finish was expected to take a little more than an hour but due to the ongoing pandemic (read, Chinese/Wuhan/Corona Virus), I was relegated to wait outside of the facility. I’m barely peeved about it, really. It’s a tad inconvenient but honestly I would rather wait in the quiet of my car, in the cold, without a mask, than the alternative. I’m reminded too of my dear friend who’s husband was not allowed in the hospital during her thirteen hour-long surgery and six days in the ICU; now that had to have been agonizingly difficult for the entire family! Thankfully, she is on the mend and forging ahead with unwavering positivity because that is always how she rolls.

Snow blankets the large grassy area in front of me and it sparkles in the morning sun as if dusted with a thin layer of diamonds. I have yet to touch my Kindle as my mind is cluttered with worry. Worry that my husband doesn’t get a clean-as-a-whistle report from the doctor; worry about what lies ahead…and, perhaps too, what doesn’t. And what’s with my own head? I’ve lost track of space and time. For starters, I am still making referencing mistakes on the new year. I seem to be stuck in a 2020 worm hole, still referring to 2021 as 2020. Wrote February 2020 on a check yesterday and even entered a calendar appointment for eight weeks from now in the wrong year…2020.

Why on earth is my headspace stuck in such a catastrophic year as 2020? Surely I am not sliding into early mental decline. I can only chalk it up to the fact that the year 2020 with all of it’s ugliness, strife and insanity…not to mention a million 2020 themed memes, is so seared into my psyche that I can’t seem to shake it, even well into the new year. And why not? After all, has there been some magical turn of events now that 2020 is behind us? Is the world happier, healthier and saner since you know who left office and you know who took office?

From my perspective at least that would be a resounding “no.” So now we’re supposed to wear not one but TWO masks? It’s hard enough to breathe with one! And how about our nation’s capitol? Truly, for me, the daily Trump drama of four years had well passed it’s saturation point; the fatigue so overwhelming that I forsook all mainstream media and fell deep into a Netflix addiction. Trying to clean myself of that habit should be easy now, right? Trump is out so I should be relieved. Ah, but it’s been replaced by even greater division, even more insane political theater, and the rapidly accelerating avalanche of a pernicious brain virus of woke culture, not to mention a sock-puppet for president. There you have it. Just my humble opinion mind you. Cancel me if you will.

A large black crow swooped down onto the snow. It breaks my train of thoughts which obviously were going nowhere positive fast. I watch as he pecks at the ground, his beak piercing the snow, as he looks for food. I look at my watch and note that only five minutes have passed since my husband entered the building. As I reach around behind my seat for my bag to retrieve my Kindle my eyes spy a place of pure delight. Why did I not notice that upon entering the parking area? Lord have mercy this day has taken a deliciously lovely turn for the better.

All is well and right with the world!!

Instead of the Kindle I reach for my wallet, exit the car and of course, don the damn mask. Less than five minutes later I have happiness in my hands.

A cup of hot coffee and a Texas Doughnut. Caffeine and maple-glaze sweetness has saved me from falling into a dark hole of sad thoughts. I care not, in this deliciously sweet moment, about what’s happening a stone’s throw from where I live. Hubby will be just fine. The vaccine is here and mask burning is on the horizon.

There is bliss in that.

Less than Twelve Hours Left…

As the “worst” year draws to a close I struggle to find something profound or remotely poetic to say in this here space. Alas kind four readers, I’ve got nothing. I am weary to the bone from the events of the last ten months. And, as if Covid, insanity politics, riots destroying cities, cancel culture, friends who have unexpectedly passed and loved ones who have lost so much, the life-quake still residing in the basement, and a host of other little p.i.t.a. issues…as if those weren’t enough...

….my “rock” gets pink-slipped. How on earth does that happen with years of rave performance reviews?

Indeed, this year has been one Stink, Stank, Stunk after another.

Full disclosure; it’s not as if my husband didn’t see this coming months ago when a reorganization literally dumped him into the wrong division. He’s been clamoring to get out of said division and back into his areas of expertise since, even as desks and business units played musical chairs with people’s livelihoods. But now, at the wise young age of sixty-three he’s considered a “pale stale male.” I probably need not elaborate. Still, he never envisioned getting a pink slip. And, although inching ever closer towards contemplating the next chapter, we weren’t quite ready to make big changes.

Now, along with trying to navigate the life-quake and other family issues, we are trying to figure out what IS next. We’ll sail through it and land on the other side says my rock. He is ever the optimist and I am thankful for those reassuring words even If I struggle to believe. Covid of course continues to make it quite difficult to investigate options. Plans to travel this year and check out potential places to hang ones’ hat for a spell have been dashed of course.

Last year this time we were spending the day with sis and family. In her cozy basement family room we ate ourselves silly and raised bottles of champagne to the new year as we danced jigs and blew on our party horns like little kids. This year we’re laying low in our own abodes. I tell sis I’m probably not going to watch the ball drop with Ryan Seacrest. I get that he aims to bring “fun” into our homes but honestly, I’m not up to listening to President-Elect Biden incoherently blather on about healing and unity.

So, today as I scrolled through Facebook over early morning coffee I see this meme by self-help guru and blogger Mark Manson. I’ve not read his books but occasionally I stop and read his insights on FB in an effort to find something (anything) useful to impart on the man-child residing–OH SO TEMPORARILY– in the basement. Like I don’t know this already…but yes, It speaks to me in my present state and of course, gives me pause.

So here we come 2021. I’ve got a few more hours to wallow in my little pity party and then, as the ball drops– as God is my witness– I endeavor, with every fiber of my being, to move the F**K on, even if I have to fake it.

Seriously folks, I am praying for an infinitely better year ahead. From my heart to yours, may 2021 bring you peace, love and joy and keep you in the best health possible.

It’s Gonna Be a Martini Night

It’s a sunny day in my neck of the woods. The winter sky is a stunning blue with wisps of white clouds here and there. I’m thinking of a multitude of things as I walk at a fast clip in a effort to stay warm. Still, the cold penetrates my mittens and I find myself constantly trying to stave off numbness and tingling in my fingers. Oh how I dislike the cold but honestly, with Raynauds, I could be living in 105-degree desert heat and walk into an air-conditioned building and the cold effects on fingers and toes would feel just like a walk in the woods on a crisp-cold winters’ day.

Principally, more than usual, thoughts turn to my mother on this day which would have been her 84th birthday. She left us four years ago and yes, though ours was a messy complicated relationship, I miss her. She was an unusual flower–belonging really, in a totally different universe…on a different planet perhaps. She added distinct bursts of color to a somewhat drab world. She certainly did not fit into the world she found herself in when she married my father. I’d venture to say my mamma (nor my father, for that matter) should never have had children…or, at the very least, she should have waited until her thirties. I’ve definitely got some baggage from both parents. But as God is my witness, though it took over forty years, I’m ever so grateful for my scars. It’s made me who I am and given me a resilience to which the snowflakes of this generation (and those past) could not even begin to hold a candle.

Mamma was a force of nature and mighty opinionated. I’ve lost count of how many times she’d say something inappropriate or cringe-worthy, and often in public, and yet sometimes I secretly admired her unabashed directness. She didn’t care a wit about political correctness or what the “Jones’s” might think. I’ve thought a great deal about my mamma during this past year, one that has been fraught with violence, cancel culture, pernicious woke-ness, deep political divide and all topped by a global pandemic. I’ve held many conversations in my mind with mamma as to what she’d have to say about Trump or his often ridiculous tweets or all the destruction and mayhem in cities across the U.S. I think we’d surely disagree with each other on some topics as she would be all-in for Trump, as opposed to my more measured (dare I say, balanced) opinion. I imagine too that some conversations would surely get a little heated and would end, as often would, with a dismissive wave of the hand, an eye roll, and a “whatever.” And, oh boy….I just cannot envision mamma wearing a mask even if her life depended upon it. She’d likely would have spit bullets and forgo doctor appointments and the like rather than don a mask to go out. I almost feel it’s a Godsend that she left us well before the world turned upside down with such venomous discord and tribalism, as well as the devastating effects of a pandemic. She would have listened to the news non-stop and it would have only served to heighten her agitation, and those around her. I could be wrong in all of this; she could be looking down on us from above in horror as to how the world seems to be teetering on its axis or she could be blissfully unaware sipping a martini on the rocks before playing something lovely on her white baby grand piano.

I struggle to erase the last vision I have of mamma. Unfortunately it was in a hospital and she was on a ventilator. Her face was terribly bruised from the fall she had suffered the day before in her apartment. She never regained consciousness from that fall. I often refer to one of my favorite recent photos of her but still…the image of her connected to tubes in a hospital bed superimposes on anything that I look at. I keep hoping that this will pass as the years go on.

Mamma gave me a love of classical music so on my walk this morning I listened to a few of her favorites–Chopin, Albinoni and Beethoven, just to name a few, as I walked down the path leading to the small neighborhood lake. I looked for beavers and was disappointed again. The family seems to have found new digs this year; we haven’t seen them in ages. But a heron has come back to grace the banks of the lake and it is there that I paused this morning, with eyes teary and a body weary from all that has happened this year. I love you mamma I say aloud as I looked out over the water and took in the quiet majesty of the heron.

I think of words by a young poet:

“Some broken vases can still hold beautiful flowers”.

Munia Khan

Even with a relationship marked by voids, I hold that unique flower that was my mother in my heart and soul and yes, I miss her dearly. So I say: Happy Birthday Mamma. Tonight we’ll raise a glass to you.

Martinis, with three olives, were her favorite. I’d like to think she is enjoying endless martinis in heaven as well as colorful conversations with her favorite personalities.

Break, Bend, Accept…kind of

Lord have mercy! More draconian shutdowns just in time for the holiday season. Whilst those governing from their power towers order us to stay home, they are dining out at $750-a-plate dinners or hopping on private jets to vacay in Cabo or some such place. Personally, I absolutely do not begrudge fun times for anyone, the well-heeled included, but imposing what is not okay for me but fine for thee…well, it’s such hypocrisy. Hey, that kinda rhymed!

Still, could 2020 get any worse? Ah yes it can!

I say this as not one but both cars are in the shop today, one needing major repairs.

2020 keeps on giving.

So yes, I’ll admit that these days I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find five degrees of bliss, let alone ten. I know I am not alone in this. All over the world, no one has made it through 2020 unscathed, unless of course they were living in an ice-cave, in say the Antarctic. Many folks have experienced profound loss in one form or another this year. One friend, for example, will spend her first holiday without her husband by her side. Another friend of some thirty five years is undergoing, literally as I write, an extremely complicated thirteen-hour surgery (yes, mind-boggling, you read that correctly) for a rare form of cancer.

I am waiting to exhale on good news.

Yes, I should feel a bit peppier, after all, as I have said a hundred times, I’ve a nice roof over my head and plenty of food in the pantry. But, I am—as I have also said a hundred times—only human. I acknowledge it’s all through a lens of perspective (others have suffered, sadly, far more than I) but while I am trying not to view 2020 as the worst year ever, it certainly has been the most challenging in a while. The past eight or so months have been, and continue to be, a roller-coaster ride and not the thrilling kind. From shingles to an unplanned dental implant to the stress of not being able to visit a loved one languishing in a memory care facility. Add to that a multitude of unplanned expenses that certainly didn’t produce one iota of bliss as well as an angry flare-up in both knees.

Ah yes…I’m back to scouring the internet for total knee replacement details (as if I didn’t know enough already) in the form of blogs and YouTube videos, which only (shockingly) serves to depress me further. I had managed to sail through spring, all of summer and even some of autumn with barely a twinge in these deteriorating joints. In fact, a bicycle vacation was on the books for early autumn though of course we know COVID squashed that. Fortunately, walking outdoors in the fresh air everyday between five and seven miles through these COVID months has been my salvation from all the madness going on in the world, and at home. Rain or shine, I’ve so enjoyed time on the trails with my “old man” Poodle-love (who turned twelve last month) and then, once leading him back to the comforts of his bed, continuing on, back down into the woods around the lake or around other trails that wind through peaceful, lovely neighborhoods.

Since we were in an election year I made use of time spent walking trying to make sense of political events and the insanity going on in various parts of the country, though I’m not certain I’m any smarter–or healthier–for it! Nearly every day I took to listening to various political podcasts, eschewing main stream media (I’m sure I need not explain). I venture to say this constant streaming of politics and attempting to digest alternative facts and viewpoints–sifting fact from fiction– daily for months on end hasn’t been altogether healthy for my headspace, nor has the stress of an ongoing family crisis–our 2020 life-quake– (which I acerbically refer to as our 2020 shit-storm). And, the plot just thickened with potential life changes in the year ahead. Holy-Molly! Suffice it to say, I’m been mighty upside-down these past few months.

Fear not. In time, I’ll bounce back…to a new normal. We all will…right? Tree decorating helps…along with wine, chocolate and Hallmark Christmas movies. Just saying.

I think of a passage I read recently from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo:

We are all made delicate. The hard things break. The soft things bend. The stubborn ones batter themselves against all that is immovable. The flexible adapt to what is before them. Of course, we are all hard and soft, stubborn and flexible…and so we all break until we learn to bend and are battered until we accept what is before us.

Mark Nepo

So, I am back to listening to music now and thankfully lots of Christmas tunes are keeping my spirit light and hopeful. I danced jigs around the Christmas tree while decorating, managing to send The Poodle nearly running in the opposite direction. I still muster up enough energy to sit on my meditation pillow for about fifteen minutes a day although it must not be nearly enough as I can turn into a head-exploding purple minion on a dime when trying to get my adult son to wake up from his twenty-year stupor and face the music. And trust me kind readers…I’m pleading inside, like you must be too, for a far better year ahead (dare I dream, a mask-less and COVID-free one) and I’m praying for the peace, happiness and health of friends and loved ones, near and far.

God does not give us more than we can handle….so the saying goes. Break, bend, accept what is before us… (to which I add kind-of because I’m stubborn that way.)

It is my hope that my own spirits continue to lift despite our continuing life-quake and even as I believe our country is headed in the wrong direction. The fact that some 75 million folks feel somewhat like-minded is oddly reassuring, although frankly, I’m not sure there is much bliss in all of that either. But more than anything, it is my sincere hope that spirits lift for all who are experiencing a certain bending and breaking; may we all make it through to the other–brighter–side of things with grace, humility and hearts full of kindness, love and hope.

And yes, Virginia… there is heart-warming bliss in those bear hugs I still receive from my nephew (even though he’s shy of being a teenager), in the pretty pink poinsettias adorning my hearth, in the warmth of rocket-man’s embrace, from my poodle-love curled up by my side, and yes… in the glow of tree lights on a cold December evening.

As Leaves Pile Up….

Photo by Devin Lyster on Unsplash

Autumn typically is…almost…one of my favorite times of the year.

Typically? You ask. Well, it is 2020 after all.

Almost? you ask.

My kind “four” readers know the answer to that. What follows autumn is winter and this ole’ gal is not a fan of being chilled to the bone. It’s not that I’ve always felt this way. I truly loved my seventeen-plus years in Colorado and obviously there is, most winters anyway, a lot of snow on those majestic Rocky Mountains and certainly enough in the mile-high city of Denver to make one who is averse to winter to permanently seek Caribbean climes. For me though, the difference between winter in Colorado and winter in northern Virginia is humidity. Colorado winters are, in my humble opinion, infinitely more tolerable due to its arid climate. Simply put, the lack of humidity makes cold temperatures feel less so.

I suppose I should simply live in this moment which is a beautiful autumn day full of sunshine and swirling colorful leaves just beginning to pile up in yards and on street corners. I should enjoy the chrysanthemums blooming, their rich bursts of color competing with pumpkins and Halloween decorations in lawns all around the neighborhood. I should be thinking about pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce…cozy nights on the sofa wrapped in my favorite Pendleton blanket…and new Hallmark Christmas movies sure to come despite Covid up-ending the world.

I should. But I don’t have the energy today….

Alas, the life-quake that has shaken our neck of the woods continues to keep me in both a state of perpetual sadness and unbelievable stress. As I try to remain positive during this new crisis, involving…you guessed it…my son, it’s all I can do to “just be” one moment at a time. It seems impossible to think of the upcoming holidays and the joys that they are supposed to bring while dealing with yet another crisis. We’re navigating through this new storm–which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy–as best we can; whacking my Dammit Doll repeatedly against my desk helps but man would I give anything to have an MMA heavyweight punching bag hanging in the garage right about now.

So yes…I am decidedly not in a positive headspace at the moment and regrettably I cannot pretend, as I often do, to be otherwise. I struggle to find an ounce of fun and frivolity…anything to snap myself out of this shit-storm (no better word at the moment!). As I watch the leaves fall and pile at my feet I feel the weight of our up-ended world heavy on my shoulders. Though I know it is not a panacea, even my simple meditation practice has not eased the pressure as much as I had hoped. I know this too shall pass…I know that change is the only constant…but still…

Uncharacteristically, I have a list a mile long of what I dread as winter approaches (and don’t get me started on politics!). I dread, already, the teeth-chattering cold and fierce winds that will make it impossible to walk around the block without getting frostbite. I dread less sunlight, shorter days, and ice-storms. I dread, silly as it seems, the probability of not being able to spend long lazy weekend mornings over coffee and a good book at the local Starbucks due to ongoing Covid restrictions. But most of all, I dread that this madness will never end.

Argh! I know…aren’t I just a ray of sunshine?!

But hey, tomorrow is another day kind reader and with it promises of less bleakness from me. So….there is bliss in that!

(see, I came around….sort-of.)