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…. and then there was Cooper

cooper… what can you say?  Cooper the Cat runs the household of DD and DSIL… He has attitude enough to spare.. and love that never ends..

Cooper is independent and needy… loving and spiteful…. snuggly and evasive… he is a CAT!

He can get himself into major predicaments, annoy everyone… and then look just so adorable that he is immediately forgiven!  He counts on that!

Most cats can be left for a few days with plenty of kibble and water… not Cooper.  He eats all the kibble the first day, and totally trusts that someone will come and feed him.  He may or may not be kind to the human who shows up to do the feeding, but he eats the kibble anyway!… Well of course with his wet food as well…

And expects treats to be dispensed!  Sometimes the treats are hidden to give him work to do, other times he enjoys grabbing them out of the air.

Cooper is a suburban cat who moved to the city (Chicago)… He lives a life of luxury with big windows showcasing the world of activity below.  He may choose to observe, or turn his back on the excitement and nap.

He is an excellent napper…  his first choice is DSIL’s lap… however DSIL works… (to support Cooper of course!) so Cooper will nap on the big chair, the sofa, or the bed.. or apparently in the yoga basket (see photo above!).

DH and I are part of the Cooper support team..  We may stop by to feed and play… or stop by to sit so Cooper has a lap… or even stay over so Cooper can ignore us, but not be alone.

Neither of us ever had cat contact.. so this is new territory… DH is very good at providing a comfortable nap lap, Cooper may turn up his nose or even hiss at DH when we arrive, however as soon as DH is settled in the big chair, Cooper approaches, pounces and settles.. ignoring DH, but settled!

I am better at food and games.  Unfortunately Roscoe the dog came to visit and broke Cooper’s favorite toy and broke his toy box.  I am not sure Roscoe (50# of energy) will be invited back very soon!

There is always the treat game..

… and mealtime.  Cooper knows a lot about mealtime, where the food is kept, when it should be served and he is not shy about alerting you to his needs.  He starts with a gentle conversation, ups the urgency as time passes.. even sits in front of his food cabinet so there can be no mistake as the what is required.

Life is not dull with Cooper the cat… !  We look forward to our visits.. and cat care opportunities… who knew cats could be so much fun?!


….. the end of…..


…. ah, the end of ?

the end of the glass….

the end of the bottle…

the end of the day…

the end of the week….

(singing( and on and on and on and on….!

sweet endings….

add in nearly the end of my working life,  and coming to the end of over 3 decades in this house…

change is always happening, a bit of it seismic, mostly mundane, and often unnoticed.

Since our children’s weddings two and three summers ago, we have kept a large glass container holding wine corks.  After three years, the container is over 1/2 full.  most of the bottles were uncorked, enjoyed and recycled without thought..

for some reason yesterday as I sat on the deck, chatting with DH and sipping a glass of wine, the empty glass caught my attention.  Usually one glass of wine is just the right amount, yesterday was so pleasant that the thought of a second came to mind.

That would mean opening another bottle, however we are going out of town today for the rest of the week, so to open another bottle for one glass would be to waste the rest of the bottle..

… sigh

and thus the sweet reflections… the opportunity to sit back and re enjoy the afternoon comfortably settled in my deck chair, light breeze, soft sunshine under the shade of our big trees, conversation with DH…. taking moments to appreciate the beauty of our life as seen in the reflection of the empty glass.

the empty wine glass became a thoughtful marker of life’s joys, a prism of the sweet life we live…

not the end of…. but the beginning of……







years ago I read that people are project or process oriented… think of it in terms of knitting.. one knitter will pull stitches out over and over again, check gauge to be certain it is correct, all to be certain the item is sized perfectly… all of this without thought of time, process oriented.  Another will happily knit away, more interested in finishing the project and moving on to the next…

… I am a project person.  sigh.  a project person who would like to be more process oriented, who at times will think about and move toward a more process oriented view.

but, overall…. project…

… the yard is a project.. oh, yes, project in all terms of the word… it easily could be a 100% full time project.. without ever injecting process into the mix..

Just weeding, edging, trimming and managing the yard takes much time.. add in planting and then managing the planting…  yikes!  retirement required!

I am running late this year, usually Mother’s day to memorial day is prime planting time.  Knowing we would be gone the month of June, planting happened this weekend.

We try to add a few perennials each year.. grasses have been a top favorite.. as well as colorful flowering plants along the front borders.  Mostly planting is annuals… filling in around existing beds, and replanting containers.

… it is HARD work!  there is the bending, carrying, digging, squatting and reaching for hours on end.  thankfully there is time on the deck at the end of the day relishing the result… and hoping that the result grows, flowers and lives!

This year took two days, two trips to acquire plants, twice the above mentioned physical activity.. but also twice the pleasure from the deck… pictures of deck to come!

There is another benefit… planting in the front yard, allows interaction with neighbors!  We actually have neighbors, living neighbors!  … ok we were pretty sure there was other life on our street, not that we ever actually observe much of it!  Sitting on the ground, surrounded by plants, covered in dirt, (I don’t garden neatly), neighbors appeared!  Near neighbors, one of them new since last planting season… a bit further neighbors walking by with the cutest of dogs, neighbors we used to see often when kids were running rampant, all sorts of neighbors… what fun!

….but of course I digress… back to the yard, my planting system is random, although progress in the randomization has been made.  I now choose a color palette and STICK WITH IT!  This year is pink and purple with a bit of white.  … and here is where project/process interjects.  I do have an idea… a concept.. I have been planting this yard for over 30 years, although there was a major upgrade to the backyard a few years back.

Still, plant acquisition is not precise.. that is likely one of the reasons that it takes two trips!  And, even today after two trips there is one container forgotten… Will I go and acquire more plants for this container?  I may, as I also thought I would end up with flowering containers along the deck and I ran out of containers..

I am making progress on the process though.  for the first time, I gathered all of the containers and put them in one places, gave some thought as to their planted location.. and even tried to keep that in mind during the plant purchasing!

Honestly, the result is very pleasing to my eye.  I will not be inviting any ‘true’ gardeners over to evaluate.  I will be sitting on my deck, resting and smiling… recovering!


…. mornings matter…

… I love morning… waking early, making the coffee, perhaps indulging in a cranberry pistachio biscotti (thank you dear SIL!), finding my chair.. just where I left it.. (such a surprise!)

.. there is a routine, a very locked down routine, but not always the routine in the same order.. certainly the coffee and the finding of the chair are first!

My chair is a side chair in the living room.. it is not a permanent location, in that I have used the other end of the sofa, the other side chair, and even the floor as ‘the location’.  Whatever the current ‘location’ is, it lasts for awhile, often months, maybe years, and changes on a whim..

I inhale the first cup of coffee, sip the second, and there is always coffee left in the mug, this continues to frustrate DH, even after nearly 40 years, but I digress.

Anticipating the routine ahead, I settle in… always in sleep wear, with my phone, tablet, computer, books and meditation cushion near.  Based on age and status of knees, I rarely actually sit on the meditation cushion, it provides a lovely resting place for my self-help inspirational books of the moment.

Currently I am working my way through two books, The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna, this is my third time working my way through this book… I read it in one sitting the first time, over a couple of days the second time and now on the third, I am taking it a page at a time. (If I could ‘link’, I would link you to this book and to recent blog posts discussing MUST).  My other book is ‘Start Where you Are’ by Meera Lee Patel.  Meera uses well known quotes and her own ideas to create a space for her readers to thoughtfully dig inside.. and write.  Today, the page is Albert Camus and the quote is: ‘In the midst of winter, I found that within me was an invincible summer.’  Yesterday, Shel Silverstein’s quote was: ‘but of all the magic I have known I have had to make myself’.  Wonderful to ponder…

The routine has boundaries, but the daily activities are totally up to me and the time per activity is self controlled, well, actually controlled by me within the limits of the requirements of the outside world!  Today, the boundary was to include being at Home Depot when it opened… 6am… ah here it is 8:30 and I am nowhere near Home Depot yet! (I need a few more flowers!)  I’ll wait and take DH, together we will be able to navigate the crowds.

So on any given day, I might play a game on my tablet, check emails and texts, read fiction, ask google odd questions (today I wanted to know what has happened to author Sarah Addison Allen, the answer was somewhat unsatisfactory, but that led me to reread a bit of one of her books… )

I may confer with my online google calendar, write emails, make lists and think about the day.  A change in the last year has been my obsession with checking in on the state of the world.  I have a new Twitter account, I follow 8 account holders, with RoguePotus being my favorite… one of the newer RoguePotus tweets states that POTUS yelled foul words at the television and then heaved a book at it.  According to the tweet, the television may no longer be working.  My other favorite was the day POTUS tried three time to overturn his desk in the middle of a temper tantrum.. he failed.  It is possible that there is no RoguePotus, secret Twitter account holder, giving us insight into the goings on at 1600 Pensylvania Ave… and I am just being entertained by a wacky night doorman at a Trump property.

I have learned to Tweet myself, sending out my important thoughts to the highest politicians, news commentators, and print authors of the land.  To date, no one has responded!

All of this creates balance… maybe more time on the cushion and less on Twitter would create a healthier balance… or maybe it is like chocolate, the need for chocolate is balanced by the walk, the walk alone just would not be satisfactory!

…on my way to retirement

Finally… or just in time… or wonderfully early… all depends on the experience of the day!

Today I am wondering if clean break would have been a better choice.. I am ‘winding down’, taking a year to get it done.. Retiring on the extended payment plan.

Seemed like a great idea at the time.. allowing me to blend in my new non working life with my 25 year working routine. … and allowing me to take my income down a notch at a time..

…. and because I based this year of part time work on the schedule of the business and my known travel/vacation plan, my work days are hours per month, ranging from 25 to 100 hours  each month.  According to the agreement, I am able to pick the days/hours each month, and train my replacement as the year goes by.

two months in…. month one was smooth sailing… I ‘worried’ that there might not be enough hours of work for me, there were,  I ‘struggled’ with giving up parts of my work schedule that I enjoyed, I didn’t give anything up… my pay structure, outside contractor instead of employee, worked well, I had plenty of time off, working about 25 hours a week… sweet..

month two was scheduled for only 25 hours… 3 weeks of vacation, one of work… with a commitment to log on remotely a few times during the 3 weeks…  reasonable, doable.. it did include a full 7 days of cruising with no access to anything but sun and fun..

….however…back in the office, the proverbial shit hit the fan… clogged the fan, jammed the fan, sunk the fan.. and in a small firm, where I have operated as the voice of reason for 25 years… I was and am enveloped in shit…. sigh…. oh sigh.

… all will end well… mostly well, well over time, and in the meantime, I may not have to adjust my hours per month significantly to deal with the shit, but believe me when I tell you, I have adjusted my stress levels dramatically.  Actually they were adjusted for me and on me, by outside forces… and will remain at elevated levels (like summer pollen) for months ahead.

we could take some time to discuss the handling of elevated stress levels… donuts come to mind (see prior blog post)… as do positive mature methods for decreasing stress.

for today, we will leave the imprint of elevated stress levels on the page, and move the discussion of retirement forward…

I could be gone… not here, not involved, removed.  But I am not gone and thus not removed and seriously involved in the clean-up.  that is the problem with shit… it seems to come out in one piece and then settle on everything.. resisting removal, with bits tucked into odd spots… shit, I hope the odd spots of shit, don’t start to smell..

I don’t need it, I don’t want it… I chose the meandering path to full retirement and thus the results… Of course I could bolt, but I won’t bolt.. One does not step away during a shitstorm, one leans in…

plans for the weekend have been updated, office time is included, tough days lie ahead…

… at a later date, we will discuss the origin of the shit, for now… it is enough for me to vent… explode… 2nd guess… and then move forward… drawing on my personal integrity to be present, and JDI… just do it… work it through, take the experience for what it is..

one last ‘sigh’.


…chubby cheetah and the donut

actually, there was no donut… but there was the expectation and accompanying excitement of a donut.. so the interesting conversation is about the feelings a donut inspires.

DD lives in the city.. so does DS,  today’s story is about the local farmer’s market near DD…

on background (that’s what reporters say when they want to tell you more than what the story requires, or so I think!)… I love the city… particularly the neighborhoods on the north side.. Lakeview, Ravenswood, Logan, Lincoln Square.. they bubble with excitement and engagement, alive with activity, personality and busyness.

so, yesterday I headed to Chicago.. leaving early to be ahead of traffic, (as usual it didn’t work), stopping for dinner provisions and blasting an old Dixie Chicks CD …  arriving, I found parking 2 blocks away.. a gift as I was loaded with yoga mat, overnight bag and three serious size bags of groceries..

But of course I digress… chubby cheetah wants to discuss the donut… or lack of donut, but first I (chubby cheetah!) needed a manicure/pedicure.. and to wait for DD to arrive home.

The donut was not on my mind, I enjoyed walking to and from the nail salon, chatting with a young man about his Roscoe ish dog, detouring just because I could, to scout out location of the market and returning to DD’s home to read my book.

When DD and DSIL made it home, the discussion began… there would be dinner, late, after yoga… DSIL wanted ice cream. lots of ice cream. now. and suggested a walk to the corner CVS.. DD wanted a fresh tamale, making her case for the market…  Ice cream sounded awesome… although unnecessary, tamale’s were an unknown, but markets could be fun… so decision made we head to the market..

a small market.. church run, food trucks, venders, activities for kids, music… just the amazing normalness of city life on a WEDNESDAY!

as we approached a listing of the venders caught my eye… donut truck.. DONUT TRUCK.. an entire truck of donuts… forget tamales, lead me to the donuts…

as we entered the market, I tried to be discreet… scope out the location of the donut truck and plan my approach… but I couldn’t find it… sigh…  now this was not a big market, maybe 6-8 trucks, a few venders… where could the donut truck be?

since donuts are not really a required food group, and a case could be made that the impact of prior donuts was readily visible on my being.. I stuck with cagey…

the kids wandered about, passing the tamale truck in favor of an empanada… as we wandered.. aimlessly on their part, with distinct donut stress on mine…. I could feel the impact of donut less ness growing…

finally the bread vender, under skillful prompting, revealed that the donut truck had not shown…

…. so for truth in blogging, this is the key detail… I hadn’t thought of a donut until I saw the sign, then I was obsessed with finding a donut, and finally punch in the gut, crushed with the news that there would be no donut… remember, I didn’t even want a donut initially!

…. and herein lies the reason chubby cheetah continues to be chubby… with no donut possible, but the intent of donut deeply lodged in my being… I NEEDED a substitute… fortunately  Hillary’s Cookies had an amazing tart, cookie on the bottom, apple strawberry pie in the middle and broken cookie topping… OH MY!

worth every bite, possibly even better than a donut…. I did share a few (small) bites, although by this time the kids had gone back for their tamale… tamale vs tart?  I pick tart EVERY time!

Perhaps I can make a case that I walked, really used every muscle in yoga, ate healthy the rest of the day, so my tart was perfectly acceptable.  And it was, the ‘issue’ is working the chubby cheetah mindset to actively and independently choose food.  Not let food choose me… sigh…

What is your relationship with your struggle foods?  How do you manage?

…. alas, my fitbit is broken


how is one to go on?  seriously, fibbit, as DH and I fondly call our trackers, is my lifeline.

so what happened?  sigh.  fibbit and I went into the hot tub three times on vaca… each time the initial dunk reminded me of fibbit on my wrist… and I dashed to the towel!

With comments of ‘it’s over, ruined, never work again’, following me… I dried and patted.. and fibbit survived… day after ridiculous dunking day fibbit survived.. He survives yet.. except for his band, which has become totally unglued.. and thus unable to hold his beating electronic heart.. and rendering him unable to accept the lifeblood of the charging cord.

a week without fibbit cannot be a week without commit to steps, stairs and stats… I am living in an alternative universe.. believing that I am keeping up with my goals, and yet no fibbit to reward me, no sync to my phone to encourage me, no data fed to my online account where my friends are racking up steps, flights, and minutes of activity while fibbit remains silent.

Replacement is non-negotiable.. a new fibbit must be obtained quickly.. the kids will have to order it on their amazon prime accounts  for immediate delivery.  Chase pay will likely need to be activated… how did we ever survive without advanced technology..

forget fibbit for a moment, without prime, I would have to wait perhaps an entire WEEK… without Chase pay, the techie kids would have to go unreimbursed until the snail mail check could arrive and they could locate a bank to put it in…  what a world.

ok, back to ME and MY problems… which fibbit should I order?  the super techie, might even do the laundry model?  Probably not, I could never manage my garmin heart rate monitor, too many buttons and I am comatose.

the simplest, stick it in your pocket and walk model?  Never… how could I go back to no flights of stairs, calories burned or minutes of activity per day..

the same one?  sounds so boring… but I know it … it would be comfortable, like a 38 year old marriage.. and there have been improvements… changeable bands.

I mean it was odd to wear a purple fibbit to a wedding, but the wedding dance is where the steps are.. fibbit required.. additional conservative black band needs to be added for festive occasions.

fibbit is not cheap, things of value rarely are… so along with the new fibbit needs to come a continued/renewed commitment to move…. move it, move it, move it… every single day.. hmm, yup every day.

Perhaps this is the time to rachet up the food side of this equation as well… new fibbit, new commitment to food choices… oh just sigh… fibbit where are you?  we had such a good run… we walked the great china wall, climbed to the clouds….

No looking back, the future awaits… fibbit, we have a date with destiny.  I will order the updated version today… what color?