Friday, January 5, 2018

Poor Retirement Planning

If I’ve learned anything from having adult children, it’s this; relationships are hard. They’re worth it but it takes work to make it work. I think I’m ready to retire.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Lucky Numbers

We’re on our way to visit 4 day old grandbaby #11 in Oklahoma. Grand babies #3, #4 &; #8 also live in Oklahoma so we’ll be able to spend some much needed time with them as well. Happily, 15 month old grandbaby #10 lives on the way. We stopped to have dinner with him and his wonderful parents and decided to spend the night before heading out early tomorrow. #10 will have a brother or sister this summer when grandbaby #12 arrives and we couldn’t be happier. We’ve decided to stop for a quick visit with grand babies #1 &; #2 on our way back to Florida. We haven’t seen them in several years and they are sorely missed. Grand babies #5, #6, #7 &; #9 live next door to us in Florida. How blessed are we!

My days are numbered and I couldn’t be happier.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Alexa To The Rescue

I'm looking around the house at all the new electronic gadgetry we were gifted for Christmas. These are things we would have never purchased for ourselves but now that we have them, its quite fun. One of the items we received is an Amazon Echo Show. Her name is actually Alexa and you can ask her just about anything and she'll help you. I have only asked her to play Neil Young songs so far and she has happily obliged. Bob, on the other hand, asks her all kinds of questions and never forgets to thank her as well. 


I fear we have officially become old people. Anyway, if you're interested in checking this handy dandy device out, you can see her right here:



Amazon Echo Show


It's actually a pretty cool gadget. And while you're over at Amazon, check out the Amazon Smile Foundation. Customers choose their favorite charity and Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of eligible items to your charitable organization. It costs nothing to participate. How neat is that! I signed up for one of my favorite charities, 

Haven of Hope Dog Rescue

Every little bit helps, right?


Jennie June & Max, two of our rescues


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

La Vita Bella

I am a fast walker. I have no idea how this happened since I  have tree stumps for legs. Anyway, as I'm watching a travel documentary on Italy last night, I noticed something. Italians do not walk fast. Ever. They stroll. I mean everywhere. This might seem like no big deal and its probably not to you other slow walkers out there. But to a fast walker like me, it was significant. I'm going to Italy this summer. Seeing how Italians literally stroll through life, I realized I would end up plowing people down if I didn't slow down when I get there. This caused me great anxiety today. No, seriously.

 I kept thinking, "How am I going to remember to slow down when I get there? I look like I'm running compared to Italians. This is going to be embarrassing." 

That's when it hit me. I don't need to slow down when I get to Italy. I need to slow down now. Life goes by way too fast and I've missed so much because I'm always going full speed ahead. It's time to practice my stroll. 




A stroll around Catania's Food Market, Sicily #food #travel

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! 
Or will it be? 
Only time will tell but I'm counting on it. 
If nothing else, it should bring some interesting stories to tell.
And so, it begins......



Image result for happy new year 2018 images


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'm Willing To Get There


I am a dumb woman. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not stupid, just dumb. Dumb in the sense that I think I know everything, I think I am in control of everything, I think I am everything. Let me give you a for instance. Six months ago my little sister died. Six months ago I stood in a hospital parking lot in the middle of the night and screamed at God at the top of my lungs,

“YOU TOOK MY BABY SISTER!! YOU TOOK HER FROM ME!! I AM BREAKING UP WITH YOU!!”
As if that would change anything. Like God would look down at me shaking my fat little fists at him and respond with a,
"Oh no! Not that! Here, you can have her back."

For six months, I have avoided church, avoided the bible for the most part, avoided Christians and their Christiany ways. I have avoided me. Six months ago someone who doesn’t even know me but for some strange reason cares about me, sent me a song to listen to. It wasn’t a Christian song, just a secular song about love. They heard it on the radio after reading my self-absorbed, depressing posts about my dead sister and thought of me. I could never listen to it. Until today.

This is the part where I get all Christiany so for those offended by such thoughts, well, too damn bad. I warned you, so stop reading.

The song is by some kid named Gavin DeGraw. It’s obviously about some girl he loves. When I listened to it today however, I heard my heart. My true heart. Towards God. I miss my stupid dead sister desperately. I miss my freakin dead parents. I miss my aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who have died. I am still angry they are dead. I am angry there are more in my family who are dying. More who are fighting to live even now. I am angry.

So, I listened to Mr. DeGraw's song.

And I cried my eyes out. I cried because I do miss those I love. I cried because I do want to be where they are. I cried because I know where they are and I have turned my back on getting there. I’ve turned my back in anger towards God; the only one who I know can truly help me. I turned. There are few things in life I am sure of anymore but I am sure of one thing.

I. Need. God.

I didn’t say you need God, so relax. Whether you need Him or not is completely up to you and the truth is, it’s not my problem. I can barely live my own life. How am I going to live everyone else’s? I love you with or without Christ. I hope you will do the same for me, that’s all. But even if you don’t, it’s all good. I need God more than I need you. More than I need my pain, my happiness, my suffering or joy. I need Him. That’s right, I am a needy person looking for a crutch. I’m good with it.

So, I’m choosing again. I’m choosing my relationship with God over my pain. I’m choosing to not break-up because that’s just stupid. And like I said, I might be dumb but I am not stupid.
 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Meta

Meta and Loren Thorndyke lived on a ranch of approximately 140 acres in the hills of Cayucos, California. Those beautiful rolling hills were always covered with three things: the delicious smell of sage and anise, bellowing brown Swiss steers and people. Ours was a large family and Aunt Meta and Uncle Loren’s ranch was where everyone from every side of the family wanted to be. It’s where we brought our friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives, and eventually the next generation of children. It was the center of the family. If our grandparents had lived to ripe old ages, I imagine their ranch would have been where the family would have converged. Since John and Corina Walter had died fairly young leaving such a large brood, Aunt Meta had become the unofficial mother and grandmother for us all. She wasn’t the oldest daughter but that didn’t matter. Meta was everyone’s mother, no matter who they were. Once you walked in that back door, you were family.
 
Meta Thorndyke was the richest woman I have ever met. She had no money so to speak. What she had was worth far more than dollars and cents. What Meta had was priceless. My Aunt Meta was one of my mother’s older sisters. There were fourteen children in all meaning older was usually measured in months versus years. My grandmother, Corina Gada Walter died at only forty-two years of age. My understanding is her death was caused from twisted bowels from all those births so close together. Of course, in my family, the stories themselves get more twisted each time they are told, so who knows what actually killed her. Still, it makes for good conversation when we’re all together trying to outdo one another with our inside knowledge of all the family’s history.

Meta married in her twenties. His name was Jimmie McCauley and he would remain the love of her life until the day she died. They were married a short time by the standards of that era, however, long enough to bring two daughters into this world. My cousins, Maureen and Mickey were only two and three when their father died. He was a veteran of World War II and had suffered physical trauma which eventually took his life. It was the late forties. Being a single mother of two small girls back then cannot compare to the young women on the same path today. Regardless of the circumstances of how Meta ended up a single mother at such a young age, she lived in a small town with limited opportunities. Her life could not have been easy nor people always kind. She soon married a local rancher, Loren Thorndyke and moved her children into his parent’s farmhouse in Cayucos, California. Cayucos, the city she was born and raised in, the city she would die in, buried near her parents and siblings in the local cemetery.

I asked my aunt one afternoon, while drinking coffee in that same farmhouse kitchen, why she had married Uncle Loren. Had she known him her whole life? Was she in love with him? Was she happy? I can’t recall all of her answers but one, I will always remember. She talked about loving Jimmie McCauley and missing him even then, as an old woman. She spoke of loving my Uncle Loren but more like a brother and yes, she was happy. I thought about that conversation for many years because it seemed sad to me, to lose the love of your life and marry someone you loved like a brother. Then, when I was older, I realized the aunt that I loved, adored really, had planted a very important seed in my heart. It would stay there for many years, seemingly dead. Until, at the very moment I needed it most, watered by my own bitter tears, it would grow and produce the most beautiful answers to some of the most painful questions. My aunt had taken the bitterness of life and used it to grow something wonderful for herself and her daughters. Bitterness, much like compost, can have a lot of death and rottenness about it. My aunt taught me the value of not discarding life or its lessons, no matter how difficult it gets. She taught me to keep turning the ugliness over, watering it with tears when necessary and eventually, miraculously really, it turns into something wonderful and unexpected. It’s rich and beautiful and organic with a smell of the earth that goes deep into your very soul if you let it. My aunt taught me that while drinking coffee at a kitchen table in an old farmhouse. I’m pretty sure she had no idea what an incredible gift she had given me that day.   

Life as I have known it for most of my adult, married life has drastically changed over the last two years and all I can think about lately is Meta Thorndyke. I have spent my life trying to do right. I have worried about money and bills, my husband and children, being a good daughter, sister, wife, friend and citizen. I have worried. A lot. Like almost every day, all day, a lot. For the most part, all that worry has produced  little to nothing of value. It has robbed me of sleep, peace, joy and freedom. I can see that now. So, where do my memories of Aunt Meta fit into all of this? That puzzle called my life is being pieced together even now.

My life as a child and as an adult was and continues to be tethered to Aunt Meta and her ranch. They are both gone now and yet they both are more alive to me now than ever. There are framed photos scattered throughout my home of my days on the ranch. Days filled with calves sucking our fingers, lambs chasing us on the back patio, picking wild blackberries behind the old creamery and swinging off a rope in the barn only to drop into the sweet smelling hay below us. Nights filled with old mason jars full of tadpoles we had scooped out of the old cement water troughs in the dark, hoping to see them morph into big fat toads in the morning. Then there were the puppies and kittens. The barn cats provided us with kittens on a regular basis and my Uncle Loren’s sidekick, Pepina, would produce a few puppies now and then. After the house was dark with every adult soundly sleeping, we kids would sneak out into the quiet of the countryside night, skies filled with a million stars and head to the old shed where all our soon to be contraband slept. It was thought they would be safe from coyotes there, they were definitely not safe from marauding children. We would each grab a favorite and scamper back into our beds where we snuggled down into those wonderfully worn, handmade wool blankets and slept with our furry treasures. Life was good.

Lest I forget, my aunt also had a monkey named Willa Mae. She had been purchased by my cousin Mickey while at college. Mickey soon realized a monkey and college were not a perfect fit so Willa Mae was sent to the ranch. My Aunt Meta loved that monkey as did most of the rest of us. Willa Mae wore diapers and little preemie sized baby dresses. She looked and smelled like a monkey because she was a monkey but she was also the perfect size to play baby with. It was never hard to find her. She was always in someone’s arms, usually my Aunt Meta’s. But the times we kids could convince her to leave the safety of Meta’s arms, convince meaning pleading with a piece of fruit, she was ours if even for a short time, to dress up and push in a baby carriage. We loved her and cried giant, hot tears when she was buried under the old fig tree years later. I still miss that monkey.

My aunts love of nature, her amazing ability to grow humongous gardens behind the old barn, her lack of care for fashion or finer things, her gnarled hands from years of hard work, her love of family meaning anyone who walked in her door, her love and care of animals, her outspokenness on all subjects, her complete lack of political correctness coupled with her love of all people helped make me who I am today.

I remember looking at my mother’s hands many times and comparing them to my Aunt Meta’s. My mother was the baby of the family and one of the best women I have ever met in my entire life. She shared many of the same qualities that made her sister Meta so great. One difference however was my mother was much more of a city girl than my aunt. My mother had her nails and hair done weekly, she did hard work but of a different nature than Meta. She was also outspoken and an animal and people lover. They were two versions of the same person really. The city mouse and the country mouse.  Often, as a child and as an adult, I would hold my mother’s hand, stroking it with love, burning the image of her manicured fingers and diamond rings into my memory. Even then, I knew I would need to remember someday, her hands, when she was gone. It would aggravate her though because I would always say, “Someday, I want hands that look just like Aunt Meta’s.”

“Why in the world do you say that? My poor sister’s hands are a mess from all that mans work she does. Why would you want hands like that?”

“Because mom, Aunt Meta’s hands are beautiful. You can see her life in them and I can see my life in them.”

It’s true. My life has been in my Aunt Meta’s hands all these years. I have done what I thought I should do, what I needed to do, what was right to do. But through it all, I have seen her hands reaching out to me, drawing me in, offering me more, beckoning me to do what I was meant to do. So now, finally, the journey begins. Again. I get no credit for the coming changes. I have actually fought against what is coming. Thankfully, God, life and probably my Aunt Meta have now forced the fork in the road upon me in such a way that I can no longer ignore it. I get to choose which way to go, to the left or to the right but choose I must and so I am choosing. I am choosing to leave behind thirty-five years of fear, worry and doubt. I don’t need them anymore. I am choosing to live the life I was meant to live.

My Aunt Meta was truly the richest person I have ever met. She didn’t have money or famous friends but her house was always full of food she raised and grew herself, fed to people from every walk of life who loved her. She didn’t have new clothes or fancy fragrances. She wore pants and blouses worn out from hard work and her perfume was an honest day’s sweat. There were no new cars just my dear Uncle Loren’s old pickup truck, battered and bruised from ranch life. She didn’t drive because she was blind from the age of twenty-eight due to glaucoma. Life had often given her manure, scraps and what looked to be worthlessness on more than one occasion and she took every bit of it and turned it faithfully, often watered with tears, into a deeply hued compost and grew the richest, most beautiful life ever.