The Transformation

May 27, 2018 10:27 AM (for May 26, 2018)

Yesterday, I made a spur of the moment change. It wasn’t well-thought out. I made my decision on Friday night and executed on Saturday morning.

While the change isn’t important in the big scheme of life. I can tell already that it is a life-altering change for me.

I had my hair cut and dyed yesterday. I chose a drastic new style and a drastic new color. Here’s the before and after pictures.

beforeafter2

I’m not one to shirk trying new hairstyles. I’ve gone short before. But it’s been a long time since I’ve been this short before. I think it was back in the mid 90’s where a dye mishap left me with jet black hair. I decided to rock a pixie cut until it faded out. But I was younger than. Twenty years younger, at least.

Once I hit my forties, I’ve been consciously choosing styles that I think are age appropriate. My personal taste tends to be unconvential. I like bright colors and patterns. I love animal prints — especially leopard. In an attempt to not be that little old lady someday with the wild hair and clothes, I’ve been reigning in my choices, gradually. Easing my way into a more mature look.

As far as hair color goes, I’ve never ventured beyond the rainbow of hair colors that can occur naturally in nature. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had every color of hair possible — blonde, brown, red, all highlighted with various hues. But I’ve never ventured outside that spectrum to what they now call “fashion” colors.

I like fashion colors! I’ve always liked them. I had a girlfriend in college (mid-80’s) who dyed her hair a lovely shade of eggplant purple and shaved it on one side. I liked it but I was never brave enough to do it myself.

Nowadays, the hair dye aisle in Walmart looks like a box of crayons. There are non-permanent dyes to change hair to blues and greens and pinks. I love them! The past few years I’ve admired them as I bought my dark brown spray tint to hide-the-grays. I’ve wished they were available when I was younger. I totally would have played around with color when I was younger if it wasn’t permanent. Totally. (Can you tell I’m a child of the 80’s?)

Then a couple of months ago, I picked up a can of pink spray color on a whim. I added a hot pink streak to my hair now and then. Which was fun, but since my hair is dark it wasn’t that noticeable. I had I use a lot of the spray to see the color which left a chunk of my hair feeling crispy and shellacked. I couldn’t get a comb through it.

I get that playing with pink dye that washes out is a big difference than permanent dye and good head shearing. So what happened to force me out of my comfort zone yesterday?

It was, surprisingly, a writing seminar that I attended last weekend. This was an informal seminar not affiliated with a college. There were writers of all kinds but the majority of them were women. Many of them were as old or older than me.

And many of them were rocking fun personal styles. Personal styles that I wouldn’t necessarily deem age-appropriate. There was one white-haired lady with bright red glasses. The instructor had short, red-spiked hair. One of the published authors on the panel had this awesome hair cut where part of the top was long and part was shaved. The long part was held back with clips to expose the partly shaved part. Granted, she was probably at least ten years younger than me, but she wasn’t in her early twenties either.

I got a lot out of that seminar. More than I expected. I learned a lot about getting published and I learned that age appropriate is whatever you like at your age. Were these women dressed out the norm in what you’d see at Pick N Save on a Saturday? You bet. Did they care? I doubt it. Did anyone at Pick N Save care that the woman had a partially shaved head or an elderly woman wore bright red glasses? I doubt that, too.

One of the gifts of growing older is the freedom to do and be who you want to be. Some people learn this much earlier in life, like my friend in college with the eggplant hair. Some of us, like me, learn it later; but at least I learned it.

So went I went into the salon yesterday, I told my stylist to go to the “fashion” colors of her dye chart. She was shocked. I handed her a couple of photos of hair cuts that were part Katy Perry, part Pink. The result: a super short haircut that is shaved at the back and a hair color that’s somewhere in between the color of an eggplant and a red pepper. Still colors found in nature, just not colors found on humans.

I love the change. I love the ease. This morning I got up, ran my hand through my hair and it was done. (Those of you who color know you can’t wash it for the first 24 hours). I saved at least 20 minutes from my morning hair routine. That’s two plus hours a week!

Now I think I need new fun glasses to match the hair.  I saw a pair of leopard print frames I liked but didn’t buy the last time I looked. I do love my leopard print.

Will I end up being a little old lady wearing bright pink lipstick, too much leopard print (as if there is such a thing!) with bright, garish hair? Quite possibly.  Maybe those little old ladies had it right all along. Age-appropriateness is all in your mind.

I just had to hit the appropriate age to recognize that.

 

11:14 AM

Another Kind of Fairy Tale

Sunday, May 20th 7:07 AM (written about Saturday, May 19th)

While much of the world was watching the fairy tale wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry yesterday morning, I was sharing the day with a group of like-minded folks chasing another kind of dream. Getting their writing published. (By someone other than themselves, that is.)

I attended a seminar taught by Kathie Giorgio on how to market and publish my writing. It was hosted by  All Writer’s Workplace and Workshop  based out of Waukesha, Wisconsin, (although they work with students all over the world).

I’ve taken a lot of writing technique classes in my day. In fact, one of the very first creative writing classes I took that wasn’t a college requirement was taught by Kathie Giorgio, All Writers founder. That was back in spring of 2001. I remember that because a flight attendant sat near me in class and I got to know her a bit. I was worried about her when 9/11 happened a few months later.

Yesterday’s class was different. It was about how to publish with a real life publisher, not a self publisher or Amazon self publishing. We talked about how to submit, where to submit, and what to expect (and not expect — as in a boat load of money) should a piece get accepted.

But I already knew there wasn’t much money in writing. With the rare exception of writers that get large advances from publishing houses (think Stephen King caliber writers) or writers that happen to get movie contracts (Wisconsin author Jacquelyn Mitchard comes to mind) there isn’t a lot of money to be made in writing.

There was another reason 40+ people chose to spend six hours of their day learning about how to get their poetry, short stories or novel into the hands of a magazine or book publisher other than money.

They’re all chasing the dream, the thrill of seeing the words they birthed go out into the  world and speak to others in a way no other writer can. It takes time and sometimes money to learn the craft, but I think it’s a worthy dream.

When I got home and went online I saw the news sites and social media were flooded with another kind of dream. A real present-day fairy tale. The Royal Wedding.  Pictures of Meghan’s dress. What crazy hat was Princess Beatrice going to wear this time? Would Kate have shed the baby weight?

There were some stories about people in the US gathering to watch the wedding together. One site showed some pictures of mothers gathered around the tv sharing the experience of a real life fairy tale unfold with their little girls.

Everyone has dreams, and one isn’t loftier or more deserving of our attention than another. But I’m glad I spent my day with my dream and not the one across the pond.

It’s not that I begrudge the Royals their grandiose wedding or people back here in the US enjoying it. I get that it’s big news for America because the bride is American. Personally, though, the Royals just aren’t my cup of tea.

I wasn’t always such a curmudgeon. In 1981, when Charles wed Diana, I was 14 years old. Almost 15. This was before the internet and social media. I spent hours pouring over newspapers and magazines reading about the couple. I bathed in the romance of it all. A young woman, only five years older than myself, swept off her feet and from her normal life to become a princess and eventual queen.  I even kept a scrapbook of the news clippings which I still have, although I don’t know why I keep it.

It’s sad now to look at the picture of Diana knowing how her fairy tale ended. How she must have been thinking she was marrying her prince when in reality she was just cast in a role she didn’t even know she auditioned for; the ingenue that would save the prince from himself. Classic fairy tale plot line.

I even remember a tv broadcast the morning of wedding that discussed how a doctor had examined Diana to ensure she was a virgin prior to marrying Charles. Fourteen-year-old me had no issues with this even though I knew the stories about Charles romancing women all through the 1970’s.  It was fine for a woman to held to a more rigid standard than a man. The monarchy couldn’t let some slut bear the heir to the throne, could they?

Some fairy tales can be dangerous to young minds. And to young women.

Diana’s fairy tale didn’t end well as we all know. Some believe it cost her her life. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I think it’s fair to say it cost her her happiness. She never had a chance of saving Charles from himself. He never wanted to be saved in the first place. I do think she shook things up a bit for the monarchy.

Now times have changed, right? After all, yesterday the Royal Family accepted a bi-racial, divorced American actress into their ranks. Except that we have to note that she’s divorced and Bi-racial and the monarchy is still accepting her into the fold. Now if she could just be Meghan Markle marrying Prince Harry without her back story, I’d be more inclined to believe the change is real.

Is that the monarcie’s fault or the news media’s fault for calling attention to it? I’m not sure. I can’t help but wonder, though, if Meghan would have been given the same welcome by the Royals had she been marrying Prince William who will become king and bears the heirs to the throne, instead of marrying Prince Harry who is very unlikely to ever take the throne.

There’s the curmudgeon coming out in me again.

I do hope Meghan ends up happy in her new role. Considering she’ll be living under public scrutiny, palace rules and abandoning her acting career I’m not sure how that will work out of her. Maybe there’s other aspects of the fairly tale I don’t know about that will compensate?

That’s the things about dreams and fairy tales. One never knows if they will actually come true. And if they do, will we want them to? One think I do know is that I’m still going to keep working on mine

8:16 am (darn! Eight minutes over today.)

Veg Day

Tuesday May 15, 2018 2:17 pm (To be posted on Wednesday, May 16)

It occurred to me that when I post these blogs about snap shots of memories I will likely be writing them about something that happened the day before. Or writing them the day of, but posting them the day after because I already posted once for the day. Did that make sense? Anyway, I will now list the actual day and time that the piece was written along with the day it will be published.

Today’s snapshot is an easy one. And rather than being a specific moment, it’s the entire day. An unexpected, unplanned day of freedom and creativity.

Although I don’t presently have a job, I do keep a schedule to my days. I’m that kind of a person where I like to have a daily goal that I work toward before I have “free” time. Sometimes the goal is just to finish a load a laundry, other times it’s a whole list of chores and errands I feel need to be done. Today was supposed to be one of those days. The laundry-list type of day, complete with laundry and errands and my most hated task of all – dog food prep.

My mom’s dog, Charlie, has special dietary needs. Many special dietary needs. He’s allergic to chicken and turkey, has mixed reactions to beef and can’t tolerate much wheat at all. This means no store-bought dog food works. My mom devised a recipe that he tolerated well, made of ground lamb, mashed canned green beans and carrots and smashed baked sweet potato. She cooked two pounds of meat for him for about two weeks worth of meals. She didn’t like doing it either.

charlie by addy

Charlie. He’s a pretty happy guy these days. 

Since coming to live with us, Charlie has more than doubled his food intake. I think it’s all the exercise he gets playing with Sammy and the walks. He used to pick at his food and he now steadily eats (I don’t think he’ll ever be a gobbler, like Sammy). In any case, that amounts to a minimum of four pounds of ground lamb (or ground pork – we’ve branched out), four cans of vegetables and two sweet potatoes a week just to cover his day to day needs without having any extra saved up in the freezer.

It took a lot of time to cook enough food for him every week so as the months went by, I devised easier ways of quickly prepping his food. One of those way is to prepare a large volume of what I call Veg – the mashed canned veggies and sweet potatoes. I make ten packages at once (that’s 20 cans of vegetables and 5 super huge baked sweet potatoes) and freeze them in individual packages. It’s much easier to only haul out the food processor to grind the canned veggies once a month than several times a week. Then throughout the month, I can pull out two pounds of frozen meat, fry it and add the add the defrosted veg. Takes all of 20 minutes. Much less painful than prior dog food cooking sessions.

However, this means that once a month Veg must be prepared all at once and I hate – make that HATE – prepping Veg. It’s messy. There are bits of carrot and green bean on every towel and in the crannies of my counter top, no matter how much I clean up. It’s also time consuming. Twenty cans of carrots and green beans have to opened, drained, rinsed with water, drained again and then pulverized in batches of two cans each in my food processor. Even with microwaving the sweet potatoes, Veg still takes me at least 2.5 hours to prep and clean up. There is no way to fill a freezer bag with Veg and seal it without Veg creeping out and getting all over my hands and the counter. Every dish rag and towel I use during this chore has to be washed after Veg is prepped. Did I mention it’s messy?

frozen veg

Veg in it’s frozen state

Veg with meat

Veg being cooked with meat.

Today was supposed to be a Veg prep day. And a laundry day. And an errand day to run to the store to get more ground lamb so I could make another batch of dog food tomorrow. Not a day I was looking forward to.

However, when my alarm went off this morning at 7:15, Frankie, one of our cats, was snuggled next to me purring. This is a rare event not to taken likely. Our cats are playful, but there’s not much cuddling allowed so I felt I had to take advantage of the opportunity and stay in bed and soak up all the cat love I could until Frankie left on his own. Of course, I fell back asleep and didn’t get up until 9. Already behind schedule.

Frankie

Who could say no to this guy? Not me!

Then I opened the blinds and discovered it was a marvelous, sunny, warm with a nice cool breeze sort of morning. The Orioles were singing on the deck and the spring peepers were chirping in the swamp. This kind of a day cannot be taken for granted in Wisconsin where it feels like it’s winter for 8 months year. I felt the same way about the gorgeous morning as I did about the affectionate cat. It was a rare gift not to be wasted.

Oriole

This is a picture from last year taken on our deck. The Orioles love the grape jelly.

So no Veg prep happened today. Most of the chores have been deferred until later in the week (although I did manage to do a couple loads of laundry today). I am enjoying sitting outside writing which is exactly what I want to be doing now. It’s a true gift and a blessing to able to do exactly what you want, when you want, and I’m extremely grateful to have it.

This kind of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of day reminds me of when I did work. Whenever there was one of the first really nice spring days like this one, I would use a vacation day and drive to Devil’s Lake State Park by myself to soak in the wonderful weather, the gorgeous scenery (which is especially pretty at Devil’s Lake during spring when the dark green of the pines contrasts with the pale spring green of the new shoots), and to just hang out and veg with myself. My way of re-calibrating my brain cells after shaking off the doldrums of winter. I’d always bring a notebook and pencil and get some writing done, too.

So that’s what today turned out to be. My re-calibration day. It’s still a Veg day, but a different kind of veg than I expected. I like this kind much better.

devil's lake

Devil’s Lake last fall. It’s even prettier in the spring.

side yard pic

This is the view I enjoyed for most of the day. I opted to stay inside the fence instead of going on the deck so the dogs could hang with me.

May 15, 2018 2:44 pm

A Snap Shot of Life

May 15, 2018 10:41 am
Last week, I received my notification from Word Press that my blog, One and Done, would renew for another year in June. I was surprised to receive it. It doesn’t seem like a year has gone by already. A lot has happened since then. A lot hasn’t happened since then. A lot of writing that is.

I started One and Done committing to write an hour a day as way to get back into the flow of writing with the intent to finish the rough draft of a book I’ve been working on forever. It was my way to get the creative juices flowing again if you’ll pardon the cliché’. And that did happen for awhile. A few weeks of steady writing. Then a few months of sporadic writing. And lots of months of silence.

And now this. The email reminder. The line in the sand moment, so to speak. Do I renew for another year and invest $38.95 in a promise which didn’t turn out to be as much of a promise as a wish the last time I made it? Or do I cancel it and use the $38.95 to take my husband out to dinner? Admit defeat that writing one hour a day is too daunting of a task?

Admittedly, a life-changing event happened early on in my endeavor that I hadn’t anticipated when I started One and Done and it derailed me. The event caused my world to shift in a way that will never be righted. For a long time, sorting out the event and what my new life looked like seemed to be all I wanted to write about (I’ve got many, many composed entries that I never committed to paper swirling around in my brain from the past year). But I didn’t want this blog to sad and dedicated to loss. I didn’t have a specific theme when I started it (which is a problem), but I knew and I still believe, it’s not meant to be about living in the past. It’s about now. Being present and creative for one hour a day. Can I do that? Do I still want to?

Do I or don’t I hit the renew button? As of last week Tuesday, I decided I don’t. I hit the cancel button and admitted defeat. Not a big deal, right? I’m sure there are more people who give up on blogs than ones who actually stick to them. Not doing a blog doesn’t mean I still can’t write.

Even though I cancelled the blog, I didn’t stop thinking about it. Which I was doing last weekend when I was finally able to bring myself to go through the boxes of old photo’s from my mother’s house. They’ve been sitting in my sewing room in the rec room of the basement in a storage cabinet that I purchased for the purpose of hanging on to the items from my parent’s house that I wanted to keep. They were the last bit of her personal items that I haven’t gone through yet. Probably not the best time timing to do this task – right before my first Mother’s Day without my mother, but I felt like it was the right time.

It wasn’t as hard to do as I anticipated, and I actually enjoyed the memories some of the old snapshots brought back. Some of the people in the pictures I didn’t know, but I wish I did. I wish my mom had jotted just a name on the back of them so I could tie their faces back to an old story or even the family tree I’ve been working on in Ancestory.com

Which gave me an idea. An idea for a theme for my blog. What if I write about one moment that is worth remembering each day? Some moments may be funny, happy, or sad. But they will be my written snapshot of life. As the days race by and meld into years, it would be nice to have a way to go back and remember the ordinary happenstances that make up a life. One day and one hour at a time.

After ruminating on the idea for a few days, this morning I logged into Word Press and clicked the Renew button. I committed the $38.95 for another year. And I’m committing to do better with my posting, too, with a few changes.

While I would like to commit an hour a day to One and Done, realistically, that’s not going to happen for a variety of reasons. Some days, especially weekends, are busy because it’s the time Dennis and I get to spend together the most. Other days are still hard for me with my mom being gone, and I won’t have it in me to write. Excuses? Maybe. But allowing that they’re likely to happen will make it more likely for me to meet my goal.

So I’m changing up the rules a bit. This year, my goal is to post three to four times a week. Maybe more, if I’m on a roll, but not less. I will still keep the one hour format. Once my hour is up, I’m done. I try to stop writing five minutes before the hour so I can spell check, but if I write too long, I hope you’ll forgive the occasional error.

I’m going to change up the name slightly, too. When I started the blog, I named it One and Done with the tagline “Learning to let go one hour at a time”. My intent when I wrote it was referring to letting go of constant revision thus the rule of writing and publishing a post in one hour. However, the tagline proved to be very ironic when my mom died several weeks after I started the blog. Now when I read it, it no longer has the original meaning to me anymore, so the tagline has to go.

The new name of my blog is One and Done 2.0 – A Snapshot of Life. The tagline is now, “Capturing life, one hour at a time”. I’ll hope you’ll join me in my journey as I create the 2018 memory album of our life.
May 15, 2018 11:35 am
5 16 18
My little buddies hanging out with me while I write.

Summer Solstice Revisited

11/2/17  8:53 am

I’m dreading Saturday night/Sunday morning. That’s the night we turn our clocks back which, in my mind, officially marks the start of my most hated time of the year. Darkness. AKA Winter. I will bide my time through the next six weeks or so until December 21st, the Winter Solstice. I love the Winter Solstice because I know that the worst is over and every single day after December 21st, we’ll get back a few minutes of light. Having it get dark at 4:23 pm instead of 4:21 isn’t much difference, I know, but it’s improvement nonetheless. It’s hope.

As you may remember from my June posting, I’m all about the solstice’s. I love them. This last year, I actually set some goals for myself to accomplish by the winter solstice. Here’s a link to my Summer Solstice Post.  Summer Solstice – The New Year’s Resolution for Commitment-phobes.

I went back and read that post again this morning for the first time since I wrote it. The person who wrote those words is an entirely different person than the person that is writing these words now.  That person didn’t know that her mother would be hospitalized four days later, never to return home. The voice of my writing, the whole tone of the piece, is far different than what I write now.

I find it both scary and exhilarating that life can change in an instant and we never know when it will happen. When I wrote the Summer Solstice piece I knew that my mom had health problems, and I knew that someday she would die, but I had no idea how close at hand that time was.

There have been other times that the life-changing moment has been good. I remember being introduced to Dennis on my first day of work at a new company. I don’t remember meeting a lot of people, I but remember vividly meeting him. It took us years to start dating, but I knew from the start that he was going to be important to my life in some way.

The winter solstice is exactly 7 weeks from today. Back in June, I set three goals for myself to accomplish by December 21st:  1. Write in this blog every day. FAIL 2: Finish the rough draft of a book I’ve been writing for 15+ years. FAIL – ish.  3: Donate a quilt I made to charity. PASS. Twice.

1. Write in this blog every day.  It just didn’t happen. When my mom got sick, I continued to write some, which in fact helped me a lot with the whole ordeal. But not every day. And after she died,  I just couldn’t keep writing about grief.  I honestly didn’t want to and I didn’t think anyone wanted to read it. But I did keep writing here and there and I will continue to try to post more frequently as the grief subsides. That’a my new goal for the winter solstice. There are still good days and bad days and even good weeks and bad weeks so I won’t set an unrealistic expectation to post daily. But I definitely will post more often.

2. Finish the rough draft of the novel I’ve been writing. Even with seven weeks left, I doubt that I will finish it by December 21st. I have been working on it these past few weeks, though. There are many versions, with many different voices that I’ve written and rewritten over the years. My first hurdle is deciding what version — what voice this book will be. I still love the premise and I’m still determined I will finish it.

While I was looking for all the old versions of the book (it’s working title is Killing Time) I found another book that I worked on many lifetimes ago. I started it back in college, on a typewriter. It’s morphed many times since and has been re-typed in many different technology versions throughout the years. Word Perfect on a 5” floppy disk. Microsoft word on a  3 1/2 hard disk. Burned to a rewriteable CD. And finally, copied over from hard drive to hard drive as computers upgraded. Now it’s in the Amazon Cloud drive in both Pages (Apple) and Word (Microsoft format). I read through a bit of it, and like my Summer Solstice post, it’s very different in content and tone from what I write now. it would have to be. The last time I worked on it was probably seventeen years ago or so, and I’ve had a lot of training and done a lot of living between now and then. Reading it is a bit like opening a time capsule and catching a glimpse of what younger me felt and thought. I still like it and I think the story might still have something to say.  This book has a song attached to it. Sometimes when I’m writing a story, a song pops into my head that underscores the theme of the story. I like to play it over and over while I write it. This book’s song is I Came for You by Manfred Mann, so it’s working title is …I Came for You.

Killing Time doesn’t have a song. At least not yet.

So the new goal for the Winter Solstice with regard to writing is to keep plugging away and see how far I get. On one or the other books. Probably Killing Time, but maybe I Came for You if the mood strikes. How’s that for being non-commital?

3. Donate a quilt I made to a worthy cause. I did this one. Twice. When Hurricane Harvey slammed Texas, I donated a lap quilt that I’d finished a month or so earlier to an organization called Quilts of Compassion. Quilts of Compassion go into areas ravaged by natural disasters and they  allow the people to select a handmade quilt to keep and help start their new life. They’re obviously not the first team in after a disaster because a pretty quilt falls way below the needs to sustain life — food, water, shelter. But once the dust settles a bit, they do go in and spread comfort and happiness with their quilts. One of my quilts is part of that effort.

CEE0F519-3BAE-4728-9388-0D70AF27B72A9AB45245-6064-45AA-A88E-84BB269918E0

The second quilt that I donated I made special for the recipient. When my mom was at hospice she was visited twice by a service dog named Gracie. Gracie is an extraordinary dog. She’s well-mannered like all service dogs.  But unlike other service dogs I’ve met who were well-mannered and docile but didn’t show much of their true dog personalities, Gracie exuded joy in the form of tail wags, nuzzles and the occasional lick even though she wasn’t supposed to do that. She also wasn’t supposed to get on the couch in Mom’s room and lay on an extra quilt I kept there, but she did. Every chance she got. And being dog-people ourselves, we didn’t mind at all and we let her.

Gracie is a Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier, and she looks almost exactly like Charlie, my mom’s dog, only larger. This is Gracie. Gracie’s mom insisted on laying a towel over the quilt.

737FDB47-CD79-4BEB-A717-DBD71B49D5A7

 

This is Charlie, my mom’s dog. Notice a resemblance?

charlie

We all loved Gracie. She was the only bit of joy we encountered at the hospice. A month or so ago I made Gracie her very own quilt an sent it to her mom. It’s a simple 9-patch pattern that I did with Scottie Terrier fabric I found. Not exactly the same as a Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier, but close enough. It used super fluffy batting so it should be extra soft and comfortable. I hope Gracie is enjoying it.

9672A2AF-BE20-412E-AAF1-1B196CAB153F8AB8C349-79F1-42C3-BA47-E14DC760DB15

So, seven weeks out from the winter solstice and only one goal completed out of three? Not so good. But better than zero out of three. We’ll see what the next seven weeks bring. No more bad surprises, I hope!

11/2/17 10:05 am (I went a little over because I had to find and upload the pictures.)

Kissing Donald Trump

8/23/17 10:53 am

Dreams are funny things. The sub-conscious mind pulls in events and memories of the day and crams them into a convoluted, often nonsensical, mish-mash of images and conversation.

Most often, I believe dreams don’t mean anything. At least I hope the one I had last night didn’t. I dreamed I was in a flooded New Jersey shopping mall with Donald Trump and he tried to kiss me! The prospect of that was horrifying enough that my conscious mind stepped in and said “hell no!” and woke me up. If that’s not a mish-mash of nonsense, I don’t know what is.

Donald-Trump-kiss-kiss-sized

I do believe there are some dreams that help to shed real meaning on our day to day lives.

The night before my father died, I dreamed that he and my mother were going to Florida to stay with my deceased Aunt who is buried there, so she wouldn’t be all alone. I clearly remember a voice in my dream saying, “No, only Dad is going.”  I woke up that morning with a sense of foreboding but I sloughed it off as just being an after-effect of a creepy dream.

At 11:00 am that morning he had a stroke from which he died five days later.

Was the dream prophetic or is it just coincidence? Maybe it was. Maybe not. To believe it was prophetic opens up all kinds of questions as to who or what is giving the prophecy and why. Although, I have had other prophecy-type experiences, but not while asleep. My mother called it “gypsy intuition” since a large part of my family were from Hungry, where many gypsies lived. Prophetic or not, it’s a dream that’s stayed with me for six years, and I expect it’s one I’ll never forget.

Since my mom died, I’ve been dreaming about a lot of dead people. Not just her, which I think is expected, but random people who I’ve know that died. I dreamed of a childhood friend I last saw when I was eleven, who died twenty years ago. His face was blurry throughout the dream. I guess my brain couldn’t figure out what he’d look like as an adult.

I think I’m finally starting to ease out of the dreaming about dead people phase. Which is a good thing, even considering the content of last night’s dream.

Several nights ago, I had another dream that stayed with me. I dreamed I was back at the school where I took graduate classes a few years ago. I had been working toward my Masters Degree in writing when I stopped half-way through for a variety of reasons. Dennis was starting his Masters, and since his degree is much more likely to have a financial ROI than mine, it made sense to channel funds toward his. Also, I was itching to return to work and the prospect of homework after a long work day wasn’t appealing. Even if the homework was writing.

However, in my dream I was so happy to be back, and to get to finish what I started. It was one of those crystal clear dreams that seemed real. And it’s stayed with me for days now.

I think that’s the kind of dream that has some merit. It deserves some consideration.  Is my subconscious trying to tell me something?

There has been some amount of thought and discussion in our house as to what’s next. All my life, staying near my parents has always been one of the considerations in which I made decisions. As an only child, there would be no one else to help them but me when they got old. That part, that’s been with me my whole adult life, is now done.

I am now free to pursue whatever goals I want in life. Dennis’ and my future can be whatever we want it to be and wherever we want it to be. We could move to another state. We could move to another city within Wisconsin. We could build a new house.

They’re all options, but that’s all they are right now. Options. The dream brought forth another option that’s been in the back of my mind all along. Returning to school. Returning to writing. Finishing what I started. Today, I made the decision to reach out and see what it would take to go back. It feels good.

Way better than kissing Donald Trump.

8/23/17 12:00 (went over a bit today)

 

The Stuff Life is Made of

7:16 8/7/17

I haven’t posted in close to two weeks. Less than a month into my promise to post daily and I already blew it. I’ve been writing a lot in my head, though, if that makes sense. You writers out there understand, right? Sometimes the words need to marinate up there before they can be put down for the world to see.

There’s been a lot going on in the past two weeks so there’s been a lot to marinate on. Since this is a blog about letting go of perfectionism, I’ll consider my lapse in writing a nod toward embracing my imperfect self. At least it sounds like a good excuse.

The hard, cold fact is that after someone you love dies, life goes on. It has to, whether you want it to or not. Things have to get done. Stuff needs to be dealt with. Decisions need to be made. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks while I was marinating my words. I’ve been dealing with stuff.

I decided to list my mom’s house on the market which was not an easy decision. Here’s the handy dandy MLS listing if anyone is interested in buying a house in Sussex, Wisconsin. This is where I lived from the time I graduated high school until the time I got married in 1989 (minus a brief stint in the dorms at UW-Whitewater).

http://www.flexmls.com/share/10pLl/N71W27054MeadowWoodLNLisbonWI53089-2336

I decided to have an estate sale company come in and sell the entire contents of the house. That sale in happening this Thursday and Friday.

Not only are things moving along, they’re moving along fast. Which is good. I’m not anxious to dilly dally through this particular time in my life. I’d prefer to get it over with as fast as possible. However, that also means I need to move fast, during a time when I’d rather not move at all.

I scheduled the estate sale two weeks ago, which meant that I had two weeks to take whatever I wanted to save out of my mom’s house. I picked away here and there and procrastinated really digging into it for the first week. (In my defense, I’ve also been sick with this horrible virus that just won’t go away). But still, I admit there was a fair amount of avoidance going on.

Lollygagging, procrastination and denial only get you so far, though, and time keeps on marching along, so finally my only option was to jump in and get through it. Which I did toward the end of last week and this weekend.

It was hard deciding what I should save, not only for me, but for my son, Tony, who might want some memorabilia someday, but making sure I wasn’t taking too much. I already have a house full of stuff and being overrun with every closet stuffed to capacity with my parent’s stuff isn’t going to make me happy nor is it going to bring them back.

So I culled. My dad was an artist. He painted duck decoys, carved wooden figurines and made country art wall hangings.  This is a picture of a few of his wood carvings. I remember them from when I was a kid. Some of them have names. Ferdinand the Bull is third from left of the top. I like him, but he didn’t make the cut.

Bambi is third from the left on the bottom. When I was ten I broke off Bambi’s ear and I was devastated but my dad wasn’t mad. He just glued it back on said he’d carved it too thin. At some point from 1976 to 2017 Bambi’s ear fell off again, and this time the piece was lost. One-eared Bambi came home with me.

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And so it went. Some stayed, some came home with me. For the ones I’m selling, I thought my dad would be happy to know someone wanted them enough to buy them and enjoy them. Although, truth be told, if the wood carvings don’t sell at the auction, they’ll all come home with me. There’s too much of my dad in them for me to let them go to Goodwill.

Same with the duck decoys. The country art wall hangings, not so much. They’re his designs but they don’t have time and detail as the others. Plus I painted a lot of those myself as a side job in college and I’ve seen enough of them to last me a lifetime.

My mom’s stuff was a bit easier since she’s been funneling the few keepsakes she had to me for years. I did pull down a cross stitch hanging she did, I kept a serving spoon she always used when she cooked us dinner,  and took all the boxes of pictures. I probably don’t know who many of the people are in them, though, without her here to tell me. But I’ll know some of them for sure. That’ll be a hard box to go through. I sense a bout of procrastination coming on for that task.

I struggled with my grandma’s afghan that she crocheted for my mom and the many, many crocheted hangers my grandma made toward the end of her life twenty years ago. I ended up taking them all, although I now have enough hangers to replace every hanger in my entire house and still I’ll still have extras. Unfortunately, I had to re-hang all my mom’s clothes on old hangers to get the crocheted ones out. Some of the clothes still smelled like her — it’s face powder, I think. That job sucked. That job sucked a lot. Don’t want to do that one again ever.

Yesterday afternoon, Dennis and I went back to do a once more check to make sure I didn’t want anything else. I grabbed an old art book I remember by dad using when he tried to teach me to draw as a kid and I noticed a newish looking file cabinet I hadn’t checked yet.

It was locked, so Dennis pried it open. More stuff. Lots of paperwork, messy and unsorted. Not my mom’s style of organization at all. MY style of organization. It was all MY stuff. I moved to a condo briefly in 2004 and I stored stuff in my parent’s rec room. I thought I moved it all back when I bought my house, but apparently I forgot about this cabinet.

So we hauled all this paperwork back to our house and I spent yesterday afternoon going through it all. It was, hands down, the worst part of this culling job yet. It was all stuff I had saved from 1990, when I was married to my first husband, up to about December 2003, when I was getting ready to move into the condo. A hell of a lot happened in those years, and it was laid out on my kitchen table for me to peruse.

I unearthed my college diploma — a good thing, old school pictures of Tony, a picture of his dad and me when Tony was about 5 (I was so thin!), divorce papers, a receipt for an alarm system that I had installed when I dated a seriously unstable guy after I was divorced, old writing and poems I wrote when I was getting divorced (a couple weren’t bad), an old vet bill from a cherished cat that died in 2012 that I still can’t look at pictures of her without tearing up, results of standardized tests for Tony where I saw his propensity for math started at a very early age, valentines from Tony when he could barely write his name, a booklet Tony completed in second grade where he listed Dennis as a “safe” person he could trust (that one made me cry — Dennis and I were friends at that point but not anywhere close to getting married), old job offers, cards from co-workers wishing me well when I left for a new job, email address from old friends I never used, old reviews from bosses I loved, bosses hated, and one boss that is now dead. Whew.

It was a lifetime of accomplishments, failures and memories all crammed into two boxes. It was the tangible, hold-it-in-your-hand evidence of the passage of time.  They were the hardest two boxes I’ve had to look through so far.

I was going to tackle the boxes of pictures I brought home from my parents this week, but I think I’ll procrastinate a little longer on those.  I’m still recovering from my last trip down memory lane.

8:08 am 8/7/17

Another Journey Home

11:33 am 7/14/17

I love to read. Growing up, my mom instilled a love of books in me that I’ve never lost. She said that whenever you have a good book, you have a friend.  I believe that, and I have characters in books that still feel like friends to me today.

Scarlett O’Hara; Holden Caufield; Hermie from “Summer of ’42” are all adolescent friends. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Encyclopedia Brown, the Pigman, and, of course, Laura Ingalls Wilder are childhood friends. (I see that I’ve broken the magic rule of “3” in writing with this last list, but I can’t bear to leave any of them out.)

I always have at least two books going. One that I read on my Kindle and one audio book that I listen to while I sew. I prefer to read fast-moving novels with engaging characters in all genres (except maybe science fiction fantasy or pure romance) on my Kindle.

I prefer longer, slower-paced novels for my audio books. There’s just something about being read to, while my hands are engaged, that transports me into the world of the novel completely. It’s so relaxing, it’s almost akin to meditating. I’ve learned the hard way to not attempt to do any type of math while listening to my audio book. My math skills are sketchy at best when I’m paying attention. When I’m not, forget it. I’ve contributed many expensive fabrics to my scrap bin because I did math while my book was on.

If I can’t sleep at night, I often put on head phones and listen to my book. No matter how good the book is, I’ll drop off within minutes. Not so with the reading a book to myself. If I’m into the book, I’ll read until it’s finished. Chapters are like eating Cheetos for me. Just one more and then I’m done. I say this until the book, or bag — sometimes both, simultaneously, is done.

I’ve made it through audio books I never would have stuck with had I read them instead of listened to them. I listened to and enjoyed “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett which is all about a cathedral builder in 12 Century England. There’s a lot of detail about architecture and the functions of the different parts of the cathedrals. Personally, a bit too much detail for my taste. It felt like Follett did all this research on cathedral building and, by God, he was going to include it in his book. I never would have finished this kind of book if it had not been “read to me.”

I listened to all three “Century Trilogy” books by Ken Follett, too. The books start before WWI and continue through the 1980’s. All three were awesome books, and I made two full quilts while listening to them. One of them was the quilt I gave my mom for Mother’s Day two years ago. The second one is done in the same pattern as the one I gave my mom and it’s sitting on the back of my couch now.

I also listened to all three of Jane Smiley’s “Last Hundred Years Trilogy” books where every year is a chapter in the life of one family. The book follows the lives of one family for one hundred years, one year at a time. They are amazing books. Some characters are in every book and I cried when each met their demise. They felt like family to me. I still think of some of them, and I listened to those books over a year ago.  My mom used the quilt I made while I listened to these books while she was in the hospice.

With audio books, not only do the characters become friends, but the reader of the books, does too. I think that’s why I’m so fond of trilogy’s. The same actor reads all the books in the trilogy. Sometimes the same actor reads all the books by the same author. I love it when that happens. I think I’m seriously in love with Scott Brick who narrates all the Nelson DeMille novels. When I heard him read the DeMille’s “Gold Coast” which is more of a literary novel, and not at all like DeMille’s usual thriller/espionage genre novels, I knew I was hooked on this guy, and I’d have to give the rest of DeMille’s works a try.

I’m in a middle of listening to a Scott Brick/Nelson DeMille novel now. And I’m reading two books on my Kindle. One that I don’t like much, but feel compelled to finish because it’s gotten such good reviews, and another historical fiction piece that I do like.

The problem is, I can’t enjoy any of them. Not right now. This happened to me, too, when my dad died. I simply couldn’t focus enough to get involved in a book. I sit and read and my mind wanders. I can’t see the scene the author is giving me. Even listening to the book doesn’t help.

So what to do?

When my dad died, I had just enrolled in a class to study writing for young adults at Mt. Mary University. I ended up dropping the class that semester but I had already purchased the books. One book, a Young Adult time-travel book, really interested me. (I can’t remember the name right now, but it’s still sitting on my bookshelf in my bedroom. I haven’t been able to part with it.) When I couldn’t read anything else, I picked up that, and it engaged me. For the short time it took me finish it, it took me outside of my world and into it’s world. It was such a relief to escape for awhile. I still think of it as the first book I was able to read when my dad died. My first step to healing and normalcy.

I don’t have a lot of Young Adult books lying around and I’m not in the mood to search for new ones that good.

So what to do? Visit old friends.

I read a short article in the newspaper yesterday evening about Old World Wisconsin having a Laura Ingalls Wilder week later this month to honor her Little House on the Prairie books. I remembered my Little House books and the yellow cover of the paper backs. I liked how they were all the same color and the same style, except for “Farmer Boy”, which looked a bit different and didn’t have the yellow cover. But that was okay because it was about Almanzo’s life and not Laura’s.

I knew what I had to do.

I went to Amazon and purchased “Little House in the Big Woods”, the first book in the Little House series for my Kindle. I’m not sure if I read it to myself the first time around or if my mom read it to me.  But I read it to myself last night. And for the first time since my mom died, I was transported out of my world into Laura’s world within the dense woods of Wisconsin with Ma and Pa, sister Mary and Jack the dog.  The words were familiar, and I knew the characters immediately. It was like going home, back to a place and time that is as remote to me now as envisioning myself at the age of 50 would have been when I was first reading that book. Time travel at it finest.

I’m looking forward to returning Laura’s world today. I may even download the audio version this afternoon. Cherry Jones is the actress that reads it and I love her acting so I know I’ll love her performance on the audio book. Plus, “Little House in the Big Woods” is only one book of nine in the series. Hopefully, I won’t need to get through all nine to get back to my book friends in the here and now. But if I do, that’s okay. I know I’ll be among friends either way.

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12:30 pm 11/14/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon Defined

8:32 am 7/11/17

Yesterday I wrote, “…I don’t know when soon is. The nurses have been saying for days that my mom will die soon. But this soon concept seems to be a bit elusive. Is soon days? Is it weeks? It can’t be months, can it?”

This morning “soon” is defined. My mom passed away yesterday, 6 hours after I wrote those sentiments. It was a bit of surprise as I thought we were looking at days, and I feared we were looking at weeks, but it wasn’t meant to be. Soon came at approximately 6:00 pm, while Dennis and I were driving to see her on the same roads I wrote about yesterday, which is the perfect ending to a very long story. As a writer I couldn’t have scripted it better.

Yesterday morning when I went to see Mom, she was adamant that I not return in the evening. She truly wanted me to go about with my day-to-day life and not “run back and forth” to see her as she put it.

I told her I would be back, because I wanted to check in and make sure that she was okay and didn’t need anything. She regained enough consciousness and energy to tell me that I was so stubborn, and I always had been. I never would listen to she her.

I told her not to scold me as I was just trying to look out for her. She said she’d scold me if she wanted because she was still my mother. She even laughed. So did I. For a few moments we felt normal again.

It was a good-natured scolding, but it also had a strong vein of truth running through it. I am stubborn and so was she. We are cut from the same cloth, as the cliche’ says, and ours has been a challenging relationship throughout my life. I didn’t appreciate her trying to control my life from time I was about 16, and she didn’t appreciate me trying control hers after my father died and she needed help. We loved eachother, but we challenged each other, too, in ways no other human being on this earth could do.

I laughed at her comments, and I agreed with her that I was stubborn. I told her that I would still see her again that night.

But I didn’t.

This morning it occurred to me that she found one last way to get her way. The irony of her passing while I was literally driving to see her isn’t lost on me.

If she’s in a place where she’s aware of what is going on down here on earth, I know she’s chuckling at getting her own way one last time.

I am sad at her passing, of course. And it will take me awhile to process this new world without parents that I’m now living in.

Most of all, though, there is an immense sense of relief and of peace. Our final journey, hers and mine, the one that started almost a month ago when she became sick, the most difficult journey, I think, of either of our lives, is over.

Mom is no longer suffering, physically or emotionally. My responsibility and the dread of not knowing if I was doing the right things for her, is done. For the first time since I was 25 and I had my son, I’m not responsible for another human being. That’s going to take some getting used to.

I went out Chinese food for lunch yesterday. This was the fortune that I received in my fortune cookie. I thought it was very appropriate given the past few weeks.

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And so, as my next journey begins in this new phase of life, I think I will start it by doing just that. Taking a good long rest. It’s been a long summer.

9:33 am 7/11/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Land of the Free

10:44 am 7/4/17

I’m less than two weeks into my summer solstice resolution to post everyday for six months, I’ve already missed two days. My bad.

I’d intended this blog to be light, with daily goings-on in our little personal zoo of dogs and cats. Maybe post a few pictures of my latest quilt project or a good recipe or two.

Then my mom got sick, and declined rapidly. And although I’ve tried, I just don’t seem to be inclined to write about those things anymore. At least not right now. And I don’t want to constantly post about the long, drawn-out, painful (both emotionally and physically, at least for my mom) process of dying. Or about my views about a country that is supposed to allow it’s citizens the opportunity to live free, but restricts their ability to have an easy,  painless death on their own terms.

See? Not at all the light topics I’d intended.

Not topics suited for a 4th of July holiday with perfect weather such as this one.

So I will keep this one short, although not sweet, I’m afraid.

I hope everyone enjoys the day off, whatever you choose to do with it. I think I’ll take the dogs and hang outside for awhile while Dennis finishes planting the flowers. I think that’s the best we’re going to do this year.

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11:01 am 7/4/17