Autumn Leaves and Letting Go….

I love leaves….until they wind up in the house.

It’s a beautiful morning in the neighborhood. I love hearing the crunch of autumn leaves beneath my feet as I walk The Poodle. He is lagging behind until he sees his best four-legged buddy, Miss Nica.  They cavort for a few minutes before I head home to a list of things to do.  I look at the mountain of laundry and decide that IS NOT on the list for the day!  Let’s try tackling one of my love-hate things instead.

So yeah….I’ve got several love-hate relationships going on.

I suspect I am not alone in this.

Today’s ire is about one in particular.  Trees.  Well…specifically, their leaves.

I suppose you know where I am going with this.

Yes, it’s that time of year…raking season.

It wouldn’t be so bad if my front doorstep wasn’t a constant vortex of leaves. I’ve never had to deal with so many leaves piling up on my front porch!  It is supremely annoying as a good many of them wind up INSIDE the house thanks to my four-legged love. The Poodle may as well be 33 pounds of Velcro; leaves attach to ears, legs, tail and torso, as well as to the top of his handsome little head.  I find leaves in the most unlikely places in my house.  Sigh.

I actually don’t mind raking leaves. The “love” part of this relationship is physical activity. I love being outdoors.  Yesterday I spent several hours out with the rake, making it my workout of the day. Alternating between using a leaf-blower and the rake I bagged six large paper leaf bags to the gills and hauled out of the yard more than a dozen heavy branches that had fallen from the trees during a particularly blustery night. As I raked under a beautiful blue sky and a happy mid-morning sun, I listened to a Spotify playlist of piano and cello pieces. Usually for this kind of workout I’d be jamming to something decidedly more contemporary and upbeat but I was in a contemplative mood. The soulful music made the task before me almost meditative.

I was lost in the leaves when a rendition of Schubert’s Ave Maria began playing.

I stopped raking.

My mother so loved this piece.

I let my gaze drift up towards the beautiful blue sky. White puffs of clouds drifted in languid fashion as a flock of birds in their neat V-formation headed southward.

Before I knew it I was crying, right there in the middle of the front yard. Nothing dramatic mind you.

Images of mom as she lay dying in the hospital bed were stunningly vivid…again.

And, as she took her last breath sis and I were holding her and saying The Ave Maria….

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

 

 

Wow, that came out of nowhere!

A torrent of emotions once again…

The good, bad and the ugly.

Sigh.

For a split second darkness filled the space around me. Ah, it’s nothing but a cloud passing overhead, blocking the sun. It’s over in a flash. A sudden breeze kicks up the leaves that I had raked into a large pile before me.

The leaves are calling my name:  Cristina, we have let go…you can too.

Life is the moment we are living right now (Paulo Coelho). I close my eyes and take in a deep breath.  Exhaling long and slow, I open my eyes.  So…. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

I pick up the rake and begin anew but not before turning off the music and calling a good friend to catch up.  It’s good to hear her voice as I continue bagging leaves.  It makes the time fly.

Later I recounted the episode with my sis.

“They say time heals all wounds,” she began. “But I don’t feel that is ever going to happen for us.”

Sis, you may be right but let’s fight tooth and nail to keep our hearts happy and souls reasonably at peace. Let us find something to laugh about every single day.

So, the “hate” part of this tree relationship?

I’ve got to do this blowing and raking thing all over again for weeks to come.
Excuse me while I go in search of Tylenol…..

Wake Me When It’s Over

Tonight is the first presidential debate. Yes….. I’m gonna watch it and then afterwards, I’d like to take a pill.

To be clear, I am not one to take pills of any kind.  Still, the choice of candidates–the devil we know and the devil we don’t know— makes me want to sleep for….um…let’s say…four years.  I’ve already told Rocket-man that I will not watch television on election night. That would be a first for me in more than four decades!  I went so far as to say I’d rather watch a Steerlers game.  What’s that saying?!  I’ve succumbed to that. Horrors!

This year at the voting booth, I feel like I’m being asked to pick my poison.  It won’t matter which one I pick.  Either choice will make me violently ill, for a long time.    But yes, I’ll cast a vote early in the morning come election day with the hope of course that the polling station in a non-denominational church just down the hill from my house is handing out Krispy Kreme donuts as they did four years ago.  I’d rather have a doughnut than an “I Voted” sticker.  The rest of the day I’ll do whatever I can to escape the insanity that is sure to come.

The sting of voting this year may be easier with a Krispy Kreme....

The sting of voting this year may be easier with a Krispy Kreme….

NO!  I will not listen to CNN nor Fox News nor NPR nor BBC radio whilst driving around in my car.   I’ll have Hearts of Space music and Spotify playlists blasting through my ears.  I won’t sit at the computer either.  I’ve got a boatload of stuff to binge-watch on Netflix.  Thank goodness my Boy Scout purchase of Trails End popcorn arrived just the other day!

Hmm….note to self:  Turn off notifications on all my devicesSigh.  Becoming a head-in-the-sand ostrich is a bit more tricky in this tech and social media driven age.  I suppose if I could rid myself of all of my devices and arrange for travel to, say Nepal…or the North Pole….or a spot smack dab in the middle of the Australian outback, I’d find just the right level of insulation from all the insanity going on around the world (though I’d probably meet my end by a venomous snake as I stuffed myself silly with chocolate glaze and sprinkles….).

Rocket-man cannot tune out completely.  He must stay connected.  What goes on in the world drives his work…his purpose.  And yet, when his head hits the pillow at night he’s out in 10 seconds flat.  I’m often flabbergasted that he can tune out the madness of the world so easily.  I still cannot shake the image of the Aleppo boy….nor just recently Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson sticking out his tongue during an interview with an MSNBC reporter.  Seriously? Seriously.  Check out YouTube.   In case you missed it you can watch a clip here…then, go eat a doughnut:

 

Is it any wonder that I want to go face down into a box of Krispy Kremes while sitting in the middle of the outback?

Wake me when it’s over Rocket-man.

Oh Christmas Tree!

I’m sure this is not a news flash: This is always a bittersweet time of year.  From Thanksgiving through the first day of the new year….

IMHO, I believe it’s nearly impossible to be immune to the full  spectrum of emotions….whether alone, or in a room full of people… during the holiday season.  It can be a good, bad, or ugly time of year. And yes, the right side of the brain says “It’s YOUR choice” which adjective to embrace.  Most of the time I’d like to say I’m focusing on the good…the Ho-Ho-Ho jolly…and not the bah-BLAH-humbug.  Alas…I’m only human.  I’ve got a long, long way to go on this journey of finding peace and acceptance.  Some days I am better at it than others.

On this day it’s more of a struggle than I’d like to admit.  Yes folks…I’m sure you can hear those violins playing in the background!  Maybe the funk on this day is due to the bleak gray skies and miserable freezing rain.  I’m certain I’d feel infinitely more cheerful if it were snowing right about now instead of watching rain and sleet shower down on the brown barren trees.  And there’s the fog too, enveloping…almost suffocating…. our home on Little Mountain…not a ray of sunshine peaking anywhere to brighten the mood.  I think I have a case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  It’s real folks…look it up.

So, one moment I’m up and the next I’m down.  I’m quite sure I’m not the only one. There is some comfort in that.

Another reason for the violins?  Decorating the Christmas tree always gets to me.  It never fails. And for some reason, this year it was more difficult.  Rocket-man had little part in the process this year except to pull the tree out of storage and set it up.  It’s not that he didn’t want to partake mind you.  Work and travel commitments left him little time to do anything else.  IMG_3458

So it was up to me to pull the ornament boxes out and throughout this past week I’ve been decorating the tree on my own.  What I used to be able to pull off in one night now takes a week.  What’s up with that?   

I love this Hallmark Nativity ornament!

I love this Hallmark Nativity ornament!

My red cardinal glass ornament always makes me happy!

My red cardinal glass ornament always makes me happy!

 

Anyhow, I’ve done this tree decorating business alone before folks!  I have no idea why the violins are playing particularly loud today!   You’re probably thinking that this shouldn’t be a cause for violins and you may be correct;  I’m certainly not the only woman who has decorated a tree alone, nor will this be the last time for heaven’s sake (and I am certainly not immune to the fact that there are many military wives doing just that, or widows…or divorcees, etc)..

Still, I can attest that Tuesday went just fine.  Really!  I pulled up Spotify on the iPad, found some lovely Christmas songs, and danced little jigs (to the poodle’s dismay, I’m sure) as I began combing through the ornament boxes.

Yep…fifteen White House ornaments now.  Wow.   Oh… and here is the ornament I got in Hawaii!  And here is my son’s first ornament… and my daughter’s first Christmas bear ornament too (I held that one back from her box of ornaments I sent her a couple of years ago).  

My Hawaiian girl!

My Hawaiian girl!

My daughter's first Christmas ornament

My daughter’s first Christmas ornament

So…here it comes…the faint sound of a violin (let’s make it a Stradivarius).  I squashed it best I could by cranking up the volume on “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”  The poodle went into another room.

But Wednesday came along and with it a phone call that pushed the wrong button causing the floodgates of memories (and not the best kind) to flow, completely spoiling the decorating mood.  The violins haven’t stopped playing.

So here we are at Friday.

It’s just that with each ornament that comes out of the box, there is a memory of Christmases long ago.  Christmases with children around, either eyes all a-glow, or even fighting with one another, or begging to hang an ornament often in absolutely the “wrong” place on the tree!  How I wish I had been less obsessive like T.V.’s “Monk” and just let it happen….and sometimes I did, moving the ornament later when little ones were fast asleep.  I had to have the tree look just right….sigh.  Then came divorce….years of struggle….then re-marriage (a very good thing!) and now… the children are gone, doing their own things.  Well…one is doing her own thing and the other…unfortunately he refuses to be part of us (another reason for the Stradivarius!).   So, now it’s just me to fuss over holiday decorating and it hardly seems worth it without children around (even surly ones) to be a part of it all.

Excuse me for a moment.  I need to step away….

It’s time to…. smack myself OUT of my myself!

Whew. Now that’s over.

As I was saying…

This is not to diminish what decorating the tree means to my Rocket-man.  I’m sure he’d rather be irritating the hell out of me by placing his Steelers ornaments on the tree (in the wrong place too) rather than taking conference calls on his day off.  He has nothing to fear; the violins haven’t worn me down into the dark hole!  I’ve smacked myself silly and had a chat with my sis too.    So, I’ve left the gold tree beads off the tree, waiting for a time when he’ll be free and we can do this together.  I can already visualize that time (which I believe will be in precisely three hours from now) and I can tell you it will include a glass of spirits (Bailey’s Irish Cream or whiskey for Rocket-man…I never know which) and Cognac for moi.

See there.  My mood is already lifting…..

Ornament from London, England

Ornament from London, England

IMG_3460

German glass ornament

 

 

What the …Bleep!

Music....to infinity and Beyond!

Music….to infinity and Beyond!

So I’m on the spin bike at the gym doing my solo workout.  What’s different this time is that I’m not listening to music on my iPod.  Instead, I am listening to music on Spotify.  I’d only recently taken the plunge and signed up as a premium member, thanks in part to friend Lou who told me about it many months ago when I still lived at the beach.  Yes, maybe hubby wasn’t too thrilled with another monthly charge on the credit card ($9.99 a month to be exact) but still, this music service is terrific and offers more features than Pandora (which I wasn’t paying for).  With Spotify premium, I can create playlists galore from such an incredibly wide range of musical genres and even select and add songs to my iTunes library without purchasing them.  My music library will no doubt swell considerably!   Not only will Spotify music be streaming throughout my house (via iPad App), but with the Spotify iPhone App, I can listen to gazillions of songs during my long walks and gym workouts, significantly broadening my music experience.  I was beginning to get bored listening to the same iPod playlists (nearly eight years now) over and over (and, truth be told, I screwed up my iPod’s playlists when I got my new MAC desktop and I haven’t quite managed to fix the problem…or even understand what went wrong, not to mention the learning curve of figuring out iTunes on my new MAC).

But I digress!  Simply, Spotify has come to the rescue!  I’ve already created a playlist of calming sleep/meditation music a couple of days ago and can attest that Tibetan Bells helped to ease me into sleep.  Now that is bliss!

So, on this particular morning I selected the radio feature on Spotify and decided, of course, on popular music (the “hits of today”) for my spin workout.  Spinning to Mozart can be done (I have done it) but I really needed high-voltage music to get the heart pumping and blood flowing for an hour’s worth of spinning.

This is what I simply don’t understand about music today.  Many of the hit songs on the particular pop radio station that I selected (for example, songs by Daniel Powter, Beyoncé Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, etc.) have two versions; clean and explicit.  Why on earth is this necessary?  Why does Katy Perry have two versions of Firework, one clean and one explicit?  In fact, so many of today’s artists have clean and explicit versions of their hits…It makes absolutely no sense to me.

I’ll be the first to say that every once in a while the F-bomb flies out of my mouth.  In my defense, I never uttered the word until I was 40 years-old and going through a bitter divorce with my first husband.    We’re all  human and its understandable to let fly an explicit word now and then in the heat of anger, and well…to get a point across (if you know what I mean!)  In the years since my divorce I feel I can say that I do a pretty decent job of containing myself, most of the time. Still, I’ll admit that once one starts using that F-word, it becomes easier to use it more often.   So, I find it troubling that one cannot listen to music without the F-word as part of the refrain…especially when it doesn’t add any meaningful value to the music and, in fact, detracts from it.

I asked PhD. hubby about this growing trend, since he has listened to popular and country music for years and years while I had mostly listened to classical music growing up.  I thought he could shed some intellectual light on the subject.  It is his opinion that explicit versions exist because they are “edgier.”  That’s it.  Ahhh…so we must appeal to the “bad boy/dark side” of people in order to sell songs.  It comes down to that?

I’m scratching my head.  I don’t get it.