I Did Not Win the Mega Millions Lottery Wednesday, Dec 18 2013 

You heard it here first. Or maybe second because they announced where the winners live and I do not live in San Jose California or Atlanta Georgia and you knew I’m in Texas. I tried to win. Really. Well, what I mean is I bought a ticket or two, so that the dream could live for a day or two. And I did dream, mostly while driving on my long work compute, what it would be like to have that much money, or ‘enough’ money. I know money doesn’t solve problems but it would solve my lack of money problems. Money also doesn’t buy happiness. We’ve all heard that one. I’d like to give it a whirl myself, before making any snap decisions on its ability to make me happy. I bought my tickets early Saturday, just after the Friday night drawing that yielded no winner. I did not wait until the last minute. I had four days of hope that I could beat the odds and win. It was not to be.

In the meantime, my life continued as of nothing was pending. My grandson turned 6 and I survived his birthday party with all the other 5/6 year olds. Some Christmas items I ordered arrived. My hubs crunched the fender and removed the side mirror of his car by close encounter with a construction barrel in a construction zone, therefore damaging his pride more than the car. (Everything around this town seems to be under construction.) I talked my mom (over the phone) through changing the battery in her smoke detector. I am still working on getting the Christmas tree decorated. I work in little bursts and have the living room in complete disarray. Winning the lottery would not have changed any of this real life activity. Would today have been different? Yes. I think so. But how different, I will never know. I am like everyone else (except two people) in America today. Deep sigh. Life goes on. And even without winning the lottery, life is good.

Goodbye Daisy Monday, Nov 18 2013 

Over the years my hubs and I have loved many animals.  Most were rescue animals, strays and such that came into our lives when we were not necessarily looking for another pet.  Regardless of how they came to be with us, once we saw them, it was all over and we were theirs.  At the peak of the animal invasion, which was several years ago, we had five dogs and seven cats. Chaos runs toward normal.

Recently we lost a member of our family, a blue healer named Daisy.  She was a sweet natured, slightly overweight beauty that could growl like the meanest dog on earth if you came into the back yard without permission.  She was 13 years old and had been with us, after being rescued from the pound, for 10 years.  She could shake and sit on command and most of the time would take the treat from your fingers without a nip.  She loved to dig and boss the other dogs around. She is survived by Jasper, a shepherd mix roadside find, dumped as a puppy, now 5 and Sadie, a blind blond cocker spaniel, with ears that drag the ground and her water bowl, who is 8.

Daisy joined our family to be a buddy for Trudy ‘the Trude’, a beagle with many, many issues, who passed last year at age 13 after being with us for 10 years. Trudy was a rescue dog from the pound that was scheduled to be put down because of her anger management issues. She was a biter. We took a big chance on her and worked hard through most of her many issues over the years.  A smarter dog I’ve never encountered.  She could push open latched gates, open drawers, ring bells on door handles to let you know she needed to go out, sit, beg, roll over, lie down and various other actions on command, (sometimes all in a row without asking if she wanted something, which was pretty comical) and had mastered the treat on the nose trick. She was big with attitude and her face was very expressive. She never learned to trust in some areas, being pretty sure no matter what that every meal was her last.  And she snored, badly.

Daisy, Trudy and Jasper were the ‘big’ dogs at the height of the five dog household. There were also two ‘small’ dogs.  Zelda was a thick bodied white Chihuahua mix that was part of our family for 18 years, and was 19 when she passed. We were answering a newspaper ad for free puppies for a Chihuahua /cocker spaniel mix, when it turned out the mother of the puppies had been abandoned and the rescuer was just trying to find good homes for all of them.  Mommy Zelda, then named Popcorn, took a shine to us, and she was ours from minute one.  She was a piece of work, feisty, noisy and lovable.  No one had ever told her she was a small dog, and it didn’t seem like a good idea to bring it up. She knew when she’d done something wrong and had perfected the ‘woe is me’ look.   Last but certainly not least was Abby, a Chihuahua/terrier mix obtained through a rescue group to be Zelda’s playmate.  She was a thin legged brown haired joy (hair didn’t grown on her legs due to fire ant bites and her tail had been broken into a permanent ‘J’), that skipped so often with her hind legs (either one) people would think she was three legged.  Even into her advanced years (she lived to be 18), she raced around so fast she was a light brown blur as she whizzed by you with a toy in her mouth.  Sometimes she would drag her legs behind her all over the house, pulling herself along with her front legs, then jump up and race away to run circles around Zelda.  On walks, they shared a leash.  Chihuahua bobsled style.

The misfits we’ve loved and lost are in our pet cemetery and now Daisy has joined them.  Jasper is searching for her with Sadie trailing behind.  I know in time they will be ok and stop looking for her.  But we will miss her, just as we miss the rest of our furry family.

Relax, Get to It! Thursday, Nov 29 2012 

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday I had time to ponder all the things in my life I have to be thankful for, I realized that I need to relax a bit and let myself enjoy all the good things in my life and not stress out about the big and little things that normally stress me out.  And that is so much easier said than done.  Perhaps writing it down will help.  Perhaps not.  Either way, I am writing it down.

I am a worrier.  Always have been, always will be.  I work hard to get what I want. I want things to be right and for everyone to do their part.  When everyone doesn’t do their part, or mayhap the part I think they should do, I tend to tighten up.  If things really go off course and ‘whatever’ is not completed or accomplished, then tighten up is not a strong enough term to describe me.  So it should be no surprise to anyone that knows me at all that stress and worry is a daily part of my life and its impact can spill over onto others around me.

That being said, I can also ‘let things go’ that I cannot control, after putting out a mammoth effort to control it. This is not the same as giving up. If I give it my best and cannot change the outcome, or if other humans are involved and I cannot control the outcome, I can let things go and stop inserting myself into whatever the situation may be.  It is not easy.  And sometimes my tummy will be upset over it.  But I can still relax out of it.  And watch from a distance.  Just in case.

I come by this over worry naturally.  My mother has a syndrome with a name too long to mention that is about being overcautious and worrying that is derived from being a child forced into responsibility too early.  And, while she did not mean to impart this issue to me, years of carefully worded concerns, cautions, warnings and rules, along with sudden air intake and other signs of worry left a deep imprint on me that for years I did not know was there.  My first child status also plays a part I’m sure, as well as being female, as both my younger brothers were not as imprinted as I.  My husband and sons were the ones to point out that my standard goodbye salutation to everyone is always ‘be careful’.  I’d been saying that for years without even knowing it.

But I am getting off point, if I ever had a point, which is relaxing a bit and being thankful.  Because I am thankful for many things in my life.  Some are small and may seem insignificant, but are not.  Some are large and seem significant, but aren’t.  Regardless of the size or the significance, I am lucky to have things for which I am thankful. I have a home, a comfortable life, an old husband (meaning we’ve been together a long time), and things I like to do, I mainly get to do.  I live in a country that allows me the freedoms many females do not get in other countries, and I am thankful for that.  I try not to take it for granted. I have people in my life I love.

As 2012 slides toward the end of existence, relaxation and thankfulness are my goals.  I’ll save the stress for the Fiscal Cliff.

Shadow Chase Sunday, Oct 28 2012 

Taking off from Denver one afternoon last week, the sky was blue and the sun was shinning.   The plane’s shadow mirrored our moves, skimming over the ground for miles as we climbed, keeping pace with us as we winged our way to Seattle.

I watched the shadow ripple over items on the ground.  It slid over grass, dirt, roads, parking lots, shopping malls, and trees; touching living and inanimate things. It climbed buildings, raced cars, mimicked other planes and covered people; contacting moving and stationary objects.  It passed over a man loading gear into the back of his car. It passed over two of a string of bike riders.  It passed over large tree canopies and was larger than small groupings of newly planted trees.  It raced up the side of a mountain and sped into the valley on the other side.  The shadow created a brief moment of shade where there had been none before and left brightness in its wake.

The higher we went, the harder the shadow tried to stay condensed into the shape of a plane.  Its efforts were not successful as its sharp, recognizable plane edges blurred into an elongated blob and its dark distinctive gray lightened, almost pixelated, as we traveled along.

The cityscape quickly gave way to countryside and the shadow paid no attention, remaining focused on its own agenda.  It skimmed along, touching what it pleased. It raked over the land, watched by me, but apparently invisible to others.  The shadow was not influenced and as it faded away, it left no trace of its existence.  Although it served as a connection between all the things it encompassed after it was created on that sunny Monday afternoon, its touch was benign, leaving no harm in its wake.

Doing Nothing & Lovin’ It Monday, Oct 8 2012 

When was the last time you spent a day doing nothing?  It has been a long time for me and that’s what I did today.  NothingNadaZeroZilch.  Thank you Federal Holiday, spouse out of town  traveling, and the rest of the gang out of the house day!  Even the cats and dogs kept a low profile.  LOL.  In this day and time when everything is connected and we seem to be on call for work, family and friends 24/7, I actually had a day that was out of touch, disconnected and lazy.

I slept late.  Not an all day thing, just late.  Was up about 9:15.  Might had slept longer but the lawn service didn’t have the day off.  Fed the pets.  I read a book.  Remember those?  Paper thingy with a binding, cover from and back….not electronic downloads or audio recordings.  Even got a little paper cut.  I think I was out of practice.   Reviewed some genealogy stuff.  The 1940 census is indexed ya know.  Watched Ben Affleck give an interview on TV.  He turned 40 this year.  Still looks hot!  Very relaxing to look at. 🙂

Is it really so important that we stay connected every minute?  Or clean the house on a holiday?  I think not.  But then I’m not having deep thoughts today.

Gas Station Etiquette-Get Some! Friday, Oct 5 2012 

One of my least favorite things to do these days is to gas up my car.  I compute about 50 miles one way to work each day, so I am forced to stop by a gas station more frequently than some others might.  And recently, I have encountered a trend that is unpleasant and actually downright rude.  It seems that the public is determined that there is no reason to be courteous of others or consideration of the time spent waiting at gas stations!

Let me describe just a few of the examples, all starting with: Pull into a busy gas station and find a pump that lines up with my gas tank:

1)      One car in front of me at the pump. Brief moment of good feeling. A female in the car.  Is she done?  Getting right to pump?  Can’t tell, so I wait.  It is obvious she is texting on her phone.  I glance at my car clock.  One minute passes. Other cars are moving in their lines. Driver of the car in front of me glances in her rearview mirror, so she knows someone is waiting behind her. Two minutes pass.    The driver of the car in front of me decides she has completed her text conversation and gets out of the car to start pumping her gas, in no rush.  She wanders over to the attendant to pay before pumping and slanders back.  From the time I pulled up until she started pumping her gas, 5 minutes have elapsed.

2)      One car in front of me at the pump.  Young man is pumping gas.  Glances at my car when I pull up.  Finishes his transaction and gets in his car.  Picks up his phone and starts texting.  I glance at my watch.  One minute passes.  He is alternating between texting and reading his phone.  Two minutes pass. He starts his car, clears button on his dashboard, and puts on his seatbelt.  Answers another text.  Puts his foot on the brake (brake lights light up), places his car into gear (back up lights flash). Three minutes pass. Reads another text.  Then pulls away from the pump.

3)      One car in front of me at the pump.  Nozzle already inserted and pumping.  Young man leaning on side of car texting.  Auto fill clicks off.  I hear it from inside my close car and look up. Young man continues to text.  I glance at my clock.  Young man makes no move toward nozzle and continues to text.  I put my car into gear and move forward a bit. Young man continues to text.  One minute passes.  Young man finally reaches for nozzle, removes it while still reading phone screen.  Tries to place it into its holder on pump, and completes an ‘air pass’ because he is still reading his screen.  Second try is successful.  Waits for receipt and texts.  Receipt prints, and flaps in breeze, while he texts.  Two minutes pass.  He reaches for his receipt still reading his phone and texting.  He gets in his car. Puts on his seat belt. Puts his foot on the brake (brake lights light up), places his car into gear (back up lights flash). Reads another text.  Then pulls away from the pump.

4)      Four pump station, two on one side, and two on the other.  Pull into station and a pick-up with a trailer is blocking both pumps on one side of the station.  The driver is standing on the passenger side of the truck handling another person cash from his wallet.  The other person runs into the store.  The driver glances at me and starts checking his tires and hitch.  One the other side, a pick-up is placing the nozzle into his tank to begin filling.  He sets it to auto fill on gets back into his truck.  The last pump has a SUV pumping gas.  I pull around and line up behind the SUV.  The driver of the SUV finishes her transaction and pulls away; I pull in and start my transaction.  Other cars pull in and line up between me and the truck with the trailer.    I fill my tank and complete my transaction.  The truck with the trailer is still blocking both pumps on the other side with the driver sitting in the driver seat.  His passenger walks out, comes around to the driver side window, hands him a cold drink and his change.  Then walks to the passenger side and gets in the truck.  They both open their drinks, put on their seat belts and take a drink before putting the truck into gear and starting to move.  The line behind them is now three cars long.  The pickup on my side has auto clicked off while I was filling up and the driver is sitting in his truck on his phone.  I get in my car and pull away.  The line behind me is two cars long.

This is not a full listing of all the instances I personally have encountered recently, but it is enough to paint the picture.  I do not mean to insist that a minute or two of time is even that big of a deal.  However, I do question if we, as a society have become so distracted by our phones or so discourteous, that we cannot function or consider that others are waiting as we perform our routine daily functions.

In each one of the instances I listed above the guilty knew someone was waiting.  And their behavior did not alter.  They made no effort to show any type of courtesy.

I use my phone.  I text.  I get emails, posts and tweets. I am not opposed to instant communication.  I just don’t delay others while doing it.

Now should we talk about people that talk on their phones in line at the store?

What’s the Deal with Age? Tuesday, Sep 25 2012 

I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about my age.  Not because I feel old or that I am worried about my age. In fact, it is quite the opposite.  I don’t feel old, and I am not worried about my age.  I have found out recently that others appear to be worried about my age.  And I find that amusing.

All those platitudes about you are only as old as you feel and act young to stay young are things old people say.  The young people still cling to the idea that youth and acting young is for the young and  many look down their noses at someone my age (I have passed the 50 mark, but have not hit the middle of that decade) enjoying the same activities I did while in my forties or thirties.  Why would I suddenly stop liking some of the same stuff, I wonder?  But it really seems to befuddle some of the ‘grown-ups’ in that age group.

I do not have the desire to do the same things I did back then as often as I did back then, but not because I cannot.  It’s actually because my life is too busy to fit it all in, not because my advanced age makes me too tired, as the ones worrying about my age seem to imply.  My job is hectic and I shoulder more responsibility than I did during my 30’s and 40’s. I am still upwardly mobile in my career.  I upgraded my living arrangements from the average city dwelling to the home of my dreams in the country and the compute takes a bit longer, which is good in some ways and bad in others.  I have a grandchild that I adore and I spend as much time with him as I can.  I’ve bought into the whole social media scene and I’m online more than I should be.   I found out I love genealogy, and have become an addict.  (Intervention might be in my future.)  I own a second home about 4 hours away for relaxation and down time.  I have aging parents that require attention.  All that takes time, so I’ve shifted, adjusted and squeezed as much as I can into the space allotted me.  So, yes, I still do many of the ‘old’ things I used to do, just not with the same frequency that I used to do them.  And some of them are much less important as my ‘age’ (I prefer ‘wisdom’) has allowed me to determine some of those just don’t rate as high on the enjoyment meter any longer.

So bottom line, worriers, don’t worry. Yes, I’m older than I used to be.  Who isn’t?  However, just because you continue to indulge in the same activities at the same pace, and I’ve slacked off those activities, doesn’t mean I’m tired, ill or out of pace with the world.  It means my life is full of other interesting things and activities I like and people I love.  It means I’m putting my experiences to good use.  It means I am vital and alive.  It means I’m not worried.

Now where are my keys?

Time in a Bottle Wednesday, Jul 11 2012 

I never thought I would live this long.  Pretty simple.  Until I turned forty, I never envisioned a life after forty.  I still find it difficult to picture a future of any kind for myself.  I worry about the future for those I care about, fret about the impact their mistakes have on their future.  But my future is rarely part of the vision.

When I was about fourteen I visited a fortune-teller at a local carnival with a group of friends.  I didn’t want to spend any money on something like that, not having expendable funds like my friends had, and only gave in after the peer pressure became more than I wanted to bear. I wanted to be liked afterall.  The rest of the group received glowing fortunes involving tall, dark, handsome men, with love and riches in their futures.  I went last, hoping that interest would be lost before my money was spent, and we could move on.  But, as luck would have it, I wasn’t going to be able to talk or wait my way out of this situation and my palm was read.  The gypsy/witch/whatever she was supposed to be passed her hand and fingertips over my palm and told me to enjoy life while I had the time, as time was short.  What?  I remember thinking. What? They all get tall, dark and handsome, and I get ‘live while you can’?  The group of friends I was with all laughed and the game was over.  I was miffed my money was gone for that but happy to be part of the experience, part of the group.  And we moved on to the next ride.  Did I believe my fortune that day, let it stink in a bit, and not see a future for myself?  No, I didn’t.  I knew it was small time carnival non sense and it had no impact at all.  No one at that age pictures themselves ‘old’.  We all know that at fourteen, twenty is old.

As the years passed and the topic of the future would ripple through conversations, I began to realize, I was never in any vision of the future.  I can easily see my husband, my children, and others, but not myself.  I became more and more interested in the past and the mark one leaves on those around them.  (This is still something that interests me.)

I sometimes wonder if I have lived my life differently than I would have if I could picture myself older, living into my very senior years.  I wonder if I would have embarked on my ‘double’ life if I thought I had a happy senior life awaiting me. Or has my inability impacted anything at all?

Goodbye Sunday, May 13 2012 

We knew it would happen, and we knew it would happen quickly, but it was still difficult to get the news that my husband’s brother had passed away.  And now he has been gone since the beginning of February.   And our lives have just kept on going.   It is strange to have someone that close to you, a sibling, be gone and your life just keep going, almost like nothing has changed.

We have a family reunion coming up next weekend, and when we are in small town East Texas, we always visit the resting place of my husband’s parents, one set of grandparents, and one sister (that passed before my husband was born) and now his oldest brother.  The stone is in place.  It will be hard and confirm in granite the reality of what we know to be so rudely true.

 

Visit Monday, Jan 30 2012 

We drove over to visit my brother in law yesterday.  About four hours one way.  He is not doing well, and basically we’ve been told it is just a matter of time.  His body is failing, and the main goal now is to manage the medications so he doesn’t feel any pain.  He is in a facility, what in the old days would have been called a nursing home.  He has a semi private room.   It was pretty depressing.  Not just his situation, which was awful enough, but the whole place.  The people there.  It’s not the fault of anyone, the place itself was clean and as cheery as one can make a place full of very sick or incapacitated people.  What was depressing was the craving for contact that so obviously radiated from so many of the people.  We had our 4 year old grandson with us, and most of the people at the home reacted to a child being present.  He spoke to everyone as he walked by ‘hi’ on the way to the room, ‘bye’ on the way out, he roamed the halls, he found the entertainment room, which had a pool table in it and rolled the balls into the pockets as patients watched and smiled.  A tiny bright spot in the day perhaps.

My brother in law is no longer able to move around and made no effort to do so while we were there. He drifted in and out of sleep, mainly due to the meds, and would join the conversation with a comment from time to time.  He seemed to be aware of his surroundings, and who everyone was.  But he hardly ate at all, and from what I’ve been told, that has become the norm. I won’t list all the things are are going wrong.

Diagnosis August.  That is not so long ago, and here we are.  Watching him die. Were all those years of smoking worth this? A body riddled with cancer and pain?  It is easy to say the words that smoking causes cancer.  It is not easy to see the reality.  It is not easy to see the consequences of the action.  And I am certain it is not easy to experience it first hand, as he has too.  Quit smoking.

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