Category Archives: Memoir

Ode to a Tiger

His sweetest photos are taken when he’s sleeping, all curled up and cute. Awake, his eyes show a chilling intelligence and will respond to your questions in cat-speak. Otherwise you get just simple regal disdain.

Kasper was adopted from the county pound at 7 weeks old and came complete with fleas and an eye infection. Our days were filled with my scorched earth approach to carpet and furniture cleaning, along with continuous daily meds – for the cat, not me. I’m sure our uneasy peace was imprinted at that time. After those hurdles, he grew to be a giant fat cat with an attitude. Trips to the Vet resulted in fresh stripes down my arm, war wounds serving as reminder that he would never surrender. My failed attempts to get him into a cat harness showed me just how long he holds a grudge.

He is Garfield to my dog’s Odie. One day I was sitting in the bedroom with my Bailey pup planted nearby, waiting on my every whim, when I caught sight of a disembodied paw reaching out from behind the corner. “Hey,” I said, and the paw pulled back with just as much controlled intention. He would bide his time.

Whenever we go away for a few days and book the pet visitor, we need to pay for our indiscretion upon our return. Somehow I am the usual the target. Just one swat, nails out, while walking past him, when I’m hopping into bed, or any time I am not looking over my shoulder. Punishment administered, we are good again…until the next violation.

Kasper is a healthy 15 yr old and I write this because we will be moving cross-country with this creature. I know when we finally drop him into our new home, there will be absolute hell to pay.

2 Comments

Filed under Memoir

To Desk or Not to Desk

I remarked to an acquaintance that as soon as I arrive at my new retiree landing pad, I want to troll the second hand and antique shops of New England for a great desk. She said “can’t you write anywhere?” Well, yes, I do actually, mostly on my iPad. When I accidentally discovered the split keyboard option, my happiness overflowed.

But her question made me stop and think. Has technology’s leaps and bounds also made my vision of hammering away at an old desk go the way of the dinosaur? I do need a place to hold my paper clips, laptop, little photo frames, and other sundry, especially now that I am no longer reporting to a job. But ever since I moved to laptops and iPads, I haven’t actually required a desk. However, there is a difference between requiring a desk and really needing one, at least in my mind.

The IKEA lifestyle has left me weary. As I move back to the east coast, I hope to leave slap together furniture behind. Don’t get me wrong – the affordable, flat box marvels definitely helped me keep up with E’s ever changing dreams and passions. And NO ONE can beat the Swedes when it comes to intricate builds with really cool screw locks. But I am looking for more substance and something with a style other than the smooth, minimal Scandinavian lines that come complete with directions and hardware.

There is just something about a nice desk that gives one an anchor, a center from which to view the world, both through the internet and a vivid imagination. And of course, I expect the search to be the best part.

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Memoir, Personal Life

It’s About Time

My daughter regularly accuses me of cursing her with it. I think it’s one of the few really good things I passed on to her. What is this trait that I’ve forced on her psyche? It’s the need to be absolutely and always on time.

I don’t know why I have this deeply ingrained habit because Lord knows, our family was never on time for anything. Maybe that was because there were three boys in the mix and let’s face it, they were hopeless. And I can say that because I grew up with them. I don’t have exact memory clips of these times and have this stylized version of me sitting on the sofa in my pretty dress and Mary Janes, still and calm, while everyone races around in Quicksilver time grabbing jackets, ties, and looking for the errant shoe. But in all honesty, what snippets I did retain involve a lot of racing up and down stairs before throwing myself out the door.

So where and how did I cultivate this unique habit? I remember my mom standing at the door with a stern face, purse in hand, and can almost hear a foot tap, although I think that’s an embellishment. Maybe I inherited it but that doesn’t explain the elevated heartbeat or the flop sweat I experience while I tick down the minutes in my head.

I have always chalked it up to my Capricorn quirkiness because it fit so well into the narrative of my life, which included things like detail oriented, list keeping, and other good habits. My star sign has served me well.

Then I found the blog Personal Growth by Margie Peterson which has a wealth of information and handy tips. I zeroed in on the post titled 5 Secrets of People Who Are Always on Time like a battle drone. It was a revelation that gave deeper answers to the why, things like valuing my time and the time of others, and being on time helps with stress and confidence. All of these resonated and, while I appreciated the confirmation, I always had the feeling that I wasn’t just obsessed with time but actually planned the events of my life to be better for me and for those with whom I came in contact. I just couldn’t put it into words.

Now that the words exist, I’ve sent the post to my daughter, along with the note “See? It’s a good thing!” You never stop being a mom.

Credit: https://personal-growth.lifeideasinsider.com/5-secrets-of-people-who-are-always-on-time/

2 Comments

Filed under Memoir

Purging….Then Epiphany

To prepare for the “big move,” I was given a tip by a friend who recently left town: Get rid of everything.

I laughed at the time but it all made sense last night, standing in front of my picked over bookshelves.

We do love our books. As I referred to in my previous post Books are Life, it is a trait given to me by my mother and I’ve passed it down to E. But now I have to actually move a life and I’m beginning to sweat – and this is just the books! After a second pass over the shelves, I realized I needed to sit and rethink. In my job, if a system stops working, I step back. I take time to objectively figure out a new approach. I figured the process would just as easily apply to my big move so I stopped everything and just sat.

First, I asked what I wanted out of this move. Turns out there was only one real question that needed answering before packing another box: Am I transplanting or am I moving forward?

I had lived and worked different lives to get here. I was into typical trends as a young girl, graduated college, enjoyed my twenties, traveled cross-country several times, worked at sea, been married, gave birth, divorced, raised a child, and worked for a wonderful agency until retirement. And that’s the abbreviated version. Like velcro, my life rolled throughout, picking up stuff and sundry along the way. What I have in this house is the collection of a lifetime and I needed to decide how much from those past lives should come with me.

The answer was….well, I wasn’t sure. But rather than asking if something sparked joy, I needed to ask if it belonged in my new life. I then started to approach this not as stressful packing but more as an opportunity, and that made all the difference in the world. The light bulb went off, I heard the bell ring. It was my A-HA moment. The stress receded (for that part anyway) and I was energized to start again.

Some things I would shed, donating to groups, selling online, and giving to friends. Special family items would be shipped to nieces and nephews to carry forward. The process would have its own type of stress, but I had found a way to be more focused and almost eager to keep it moving forward.

2 Comments

Filed under Memoir, Personal Life

Retirement Highway

How many times has this happened? I suddenly have a good idea for a blog post. I’m going into a meeting but that’s ok, I can remember that. Then an hour later, I find a blank space in my mind. It’s just gone like a cartoon moment where words are walking the plank. I have it….oops, it’s gone. I don’t think it’s senioritis – it is more about taking a few minutes, jotting down some notes or making a voice memo to capture the tone for writing later.

Soon I will have more mental disc space for such moments. This blog has been about sharing those interesting family moments, with some personal reflections thrown in. It has evolved as we both have grown. But now this momalot life is winding towards retirement. Time will eventually be more abundant and, I hope, filled with less multitasking and more mindful actions. But that’s the end game of this chapter or the beginning of a new one.

Retirement from my job will coincide with home upgrades geared towards resale. Add the challenging coordination of purging, packing, and moving me, E, and two pets across the country, and I expect a good nine months of blog worthy tales.

Get ready for quite the ride.

2 Comments

Filed under Memoir, Personal Life

Time For a Reset

I was standing in my living room, looking at my wall of knick knacks and pictures from the perspective of Christmas and what needed to be packed away to make room for decorations, when my gaze fell on a photo of me with my mother. It was the year I unexpectedly became pregnant with little E. I had booked a cruise with my mom and, despite her doom and gloom protestations, I was still hell bent on going at two months along. That cruise provided sweet memories of morning sickness, no alcohol, and early bed times. But I firmly believe that ten days of people handing me well cooked meals along with buffets of unlimited fresh fruit gave me a great head start on a blissful pregnancy. It also gave me a small slice of time with my mom, who unexpectedly passed three years later.

My daughter walked into the room while I stood there so I asked her to look at the photo, and told her my mom was the same age I am now. Her jaw just dropped. She couldn’t believe it. Now, my mother had major health issues and she passed away from them as they escalated. And people are just more health aware now, trying to neutralize the diet of our youth when fatty beef was our friend and the fridge held things like head cheese….which I ate alongside my dad, who also died too soon.

This post was motivated by the fact that this year has crapped all over my strength, my self control, and just my overall personal mental and physical balance. And as I gazed up at that photo, I realized how much more feeble I feel. Feeble is a bit strong so I checked with my friend the Thesaurus and came up with a pile of better words: fragile, frail, inadequate, strengthless, and my favorite – out of gas. Whatever the word, it needs to perfectly define my state of being since, when screwing in a bathroom doorstop the other day, I couldn’t get back up off the floor. I mean I needed both the tub and toilet to heave myself to standing. And that is just not acceptable.

I can’t wait for a vaccine or for the world to reset to get it together. Otherwise, I will be climbing out of a much bigger hole. I’ve gained 6lbs throughout this time of craziness so I am better off than some but it’s the flexibility, strength, and the mental sturdiness where I’ve taken my punches. Annually as the weather grows cooler, I have always started my push for healthier eating habits, which has never failed to draw blank stares from my co-workers, their minds already on stuffing, mashed potatoes, and Christmas cookies. I am so glad that at least one of my deep rooted habits still remains.

It’s almost Thanksgiving. A time to be grateful – for my family, my friends, for the life and good health God gave me. And it’s time to throw a razzie over my shoulder and pull myself back up, literally and figuratively, and find my way through. Wishing you all your own curative path.

2 Comments

Filed under Memoir, Personal Life, Uncategorized

The Big Clear Part Deux

I knew it would come and, with my dear E no longer little, it came with a vengeance. She has moved onto another chapter and the Vietnam Veterans, along with others, will benefit yet again. Without prodding, box after box came in from the garage and went out empty. She culled with such determination, I was both proud and panicky. Some items added to the pile tugged on my heartstrings but I stopped myself from pulling things off. The temptation to say “Awww” was overwhelming sometimes but this was strictly her deal and, if she could say thank you and goodbye, I needed to stay strong. Well, mostly. A couple of things have found their way to the cedar chest. But only a few special things she may see in photos years from now and wish she had kept. A belated surprise just from me to her.

This drive to clear puts me into gear to mine my contacts for new dads and grandmas. I feel I have a direct line to a few because over the last 6 months, I have collected money at work for several new babies. It makes me feel like Santa. With the nod from my good friend, E’s Disney fairy godmother through the years, I sold the two 3-foot Mickey and Minnie dolls to a friend who was on her way to her grandson’s birthday party. He was turning 1 year old and loved Mickey. She would be the winner that day. Many of these things can fetch money but it’s not worth the hassle. It’s much more fun giving things away. However, selling those two meant money in E’s bank account as she moves forward.

I gave away Pooh and friends to a 3-year-old who just became a sibling, three little boys got Buzz Lightyear and more (I am still hunting for Woody. I found his hat but so far, he hasn’t answered my calls), and Dumbo went to a little one who was still on the way. It’s all so much fun. I am still looking for that little girl who loves playing with baby dolls.

Throughout all this transition, my garage shrinks. I have a donation corner that is growing like weeds in a neglected garden, empty boxes to the ceiling, and, for a time, cartons of flooring took up a slice of valuable real estate. The floor was done last weekend so that has simply moved from one side to the other onto my empty box pile. As my previous postings have clearly shown, nothing in this house happens consecutively – everything happens at once.

The flurry is now a trickle so there is undoubtedly a part three and beyond in my future. Now it’s about breaking boxes and organizing the donation, adding extra kitchenware since the Veterans come in a little over two and a half weeks. I had already relocated Christmas decorations down from the loft to its own area so that won’t be an issue this year, thank goodness.

I look forward to one day soon opening my car door without it bouncing back on me. It’s the small wins that make me smile.

Leave a comment

Filed under Memoir, Personal Life, Uncategorized

Death of Debate

Isolation isn’t just about COVID. Isolation can be about being separated from people by more than a glass window.

I am a reader. I take more of a scholarly approach. I read everything. I read all media stories showing different interpretations on the same argument. I seek out differing opinions on a subject to see what everyone thinks. I try to look at all sides. And then I want to talk about it. That is until this last election.

I have found this way won’t work this time. Either I am for or against. Either I vote for love or I vote for hate. There is no discussion. My different perspectives are suspect, I am part of the problem because I see both sides. I always considered myself straddling the line between left and right. Now I am expected to pick a side or I am just the enemy and part of the problem.

My friends. My family. My co-workers. I respect their views but can’t relay my own. I have to stay silent because raising a differing read on an incident or person or subject is not allowed.

There is no longer discussion or debate. Either you are on one side or the other. And I don’t know how to function. My process is no longer welcome or tolerated. And it is incredibly isolating. I feel alone and the effect is polarizing. I found myself gravitating to media that gives me comfort and it’s something I have to fight in order to keep deep thought alive.

But it’s hard, it’s sad, it’s painful. And it is isolating.

Something to keep in mind.

3 Comments

Filed under Memoir, Personal Life

Books Equals Life

I am a bibliomaniac and I have passed the gene onto my daughter.

Nicholas A. Basbanes titled his tome about the passion A Gentle Madness. A fine name for an exquisite affliction.

We both have those books that are tired and worn, read many times over, and sitting in a special section of the bookshelf reserved for well loved books.

One prized gem is the first edition Man O’ War by Walter Farley, a gift from my parents at 10 years old when I knew I could talk them into keeping a horse out in the back. Living in town was not a deterrent, I being convinced it was all so possible. The hardcover sits with the Breyer horse from my dad in consolation that Christmas.

And the paperback of Nine Tomorrows by Issac Asimov in my possession since high school, its brittle pages restricting any further outings in my purse. A meeting with (and a sweet kiss from) the author just adds more color to our history together.

My girl has her own touchstones, books as much a part of her life as her threadbare Sammy. These are the boxes we carry from place to place. They are the first into the van, and the reason everyone must have a bookshelf in their first apartment. After that, they have become a piece of your soul.

I say someone needs to develop and perfect a new techie book vault. Filled with the precious cargo, I would aim a hand-held unit at it to shrink it to a small key in my hand, transporting it to be refreshed at a new location.

I am aware that we already have the ability to carry libraries on tablets and cell phones. Thank you, Kindle. I use the program all the time. But that’s just convenience so I don’t have to carry each of Ken Follett’s three pound Century Trilogy books around (and I can read on the sly.) I need the paper, the physical relic that can share reflected memories of my heart by just a touch, a look, a musty scent.

Hermione Granger placed an Undetectable Extension Charm on her purse during the Second Wizarding War. When I saw her pulling books out of that thing, I knew it needed to exist.

That’s what I want. Apple, let’s get on it. That and Star Trek’s Transporter. I’m so over flying.

Credit: https://harrypotter.fandom.com/wiki/Hermione_Granger%27s_beaded_handbag

2 Comments

Filed under Memoir, Personal Life, Technology

The Big Clear

There has been a flurry of activity around our home lately. My E decided she was ready to shed some of the different lives she has led thus far, like Potterhead, Whovian, Runner (that’s Mazerunner for those without intimate knowledge on super fandoms,) and other kingdoms. In true Marie Kondo style, she parted with those things that did not spark joy and thanked them for their service. I have been waiting for this day for years and jumped in with gusto. Attempts to sell collectibles online were frustrating – a flashback to bags of beanie babies comes to mind. So the Vietnam Veterans of America were the recipients of our largesse. And what a mound it was.

This is not just fan stuff like little Flash figurines and spell books. Pounds of clothing, including shirts that say things like Expelliarmus, Geronimo, Girl Power, along with perfectly good pieces, outgrown in both body and spirit, were washed and bagged. Some plush, some pillows, that wavy mirror from IKEA, and lots of other fad and fashions that have outlived their usefulness here wound up on the pile. Whoever buys these will want them, and it will benefit a good cause at the same time.

While she was building her mountain, I rooted around in my garage for stuff to add. I did a lot of recycling, boxed books, adding camp and beach chairs not opened in years. The lot took up about a quarter of our generous driveway when pickup day arrived.

I was feeling refreshed until I opened the garage that night. I realized we had barely made a dent. Boxes still lined the walls, many of my drawers are still full, and a lot of books remained in E’s childhood bookcase that I passed down to her. And she had hit her limit on her clear-out state of mind. The window was closed until the next go-round which won’t be for a while. So I realized if we wanted to keep the momentum, it was my turn.

While E figured it was her past fandoms weighing down her future, my focus was first on paper. I have always been one to obsessively separate shred from recycle, removing addresses or names from each bit of junk mail to ensure nothing personal lands in the green bin. Unfortunately, this habit forces me to throw junk mail in a box until later or pile old files in my closet to wait for a rainy day – and those are pretty sparse in Southern California. Since I couldn’t walk into my closet to get to my filing drawer, this is what I did all weekend. Flash forward two days – the recycling bin is full, my shred bin runneth over, and my heart is full.

The next battle on the horizon is the kitchen. Too many of everything, fulfilling nothing except to take up cabinet space. Two sizes of water glasses fill a shelf where only the few in the front are used. The lower shelves bulge with pots, pans, and I don’t even remember what’s in the back. A tall pantry with deep shelves is both a blessing and a curse. Viewed now with clearer eyes, it all brings my past post about Living Life in Layers into real time and smacks me in the face.

I think a stay-cation is in order.

4 Comments

Filed under Memoir, Personal Life