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…. the library

… it was a rainy day, a cold day, a dreary day… and I have a cold… not just a cold, a miserable, most awful, comes with a deep consistent cough cold.

.. and DH left town, went south to the sun, for a weekend with his family… so I am alone in the cold and the rain, alone with my cold.

… miserable

Do you have the picture… the April drizzle, the dampness, no sun?  I dropped DH at the airport and went directly to Costco for a chicken… the only thing better than a hot freshly roasted Costco chicken would have been chicken soup, and I was too miserable to even consider defrosting soup.

Once home with my chicken, the days plan begin to take shape, eat chicken, go to the library and stock up, return home, eat more chicken, read and nap the day away… oh and take drugs..(drugs for a  most awful miserable cold, not REAL drugs!)

We have an amazing library, huge, newly renovated, always active with programs and activities to reach every member of our community…

Yesterday my plan was to slowly scan the new books area …. Are you a reader? Library reader?  If so, then you understand the exciting tension of finding a new book, but also the reality that as a voracious reader, sometimes you have read it all.  Well, of course, not really.. We could never read everything… but sometimes when we have covered the new releases, the shelves do not pull us in… nothing grabs our fancy… (Yet, another day that rejected book may be just exactly the book we want!)

Such was the day yesterday… my first choice was ‘before I go’, Collen Oakley’s first novel… Be prepared, she knows how to write, and the story will grab you, make you laugh, force you to put it down and take a break, compel you to return and read more, with your heart breaking along with the main characters… I’m not going to give you the plot, you can read the jacket cover yourself and be prepared… There was no choice, the book had to be finished yesterday… and touched me deeply.

Next up is ‘The love song of miss queenie hennessy’, the next novel by Rachel Joyce, the author of’ the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’.  I would never have read the first book, but for a couple of young readers I know.  They choose their reading carefully, caring much for character development.  On their recommendation I read and enjoyed Rachel’s first novel.  The next slides in beside the first, selecting a crucial, yet unexplored character from ‘the pilgrimage’.

My final choice was ‘A sudden light’, by Garth Stein, the author of ‘the art of racing in the rain’….. ah that was a special book, and the synopsis of ‘A sudden light’ promises another interesting read, with a bit of the spirit world included.

Perhaps as I read books two and three, the sun will come out, the cold air will dissipate, along with my miserable cold, and I will find myself on the back deck, snuggled under a soft throw, inhaling fresh spring warmth, while a light breeze ruffles my pages…

I’ll keep you posted!

….chubby cheetah moves forward…..

… ah it’s been a fine year!  The bubbles (Perseco) has been abundant, the chocolate varied and plentiful, and the exercise short and sweet…

.. and so I am forced to ask myself… How’s that workin out for ya?!!!!

SIGH.

There have been intervals of awareness, some ‘never more than this self-talk’, weeks spent taking back the excesses of the weekends.. but overall the debauchery has exceeded the self-control and the result is not to my liking…

HONESTLY.

AH, honest, honesty, honestly… sheeesh… being a grown up is so very difficult!

The process is quite straightforward, EAT LESS, MOVE MORE!

The devil is in the details….

Time for details… time to reconsider what I want and what I really want…. time to decide (again) what it will take to budge the scale downward…

AND, what am I going to do about it TODAY… not tomorrow, not the first of the month…. TODAY..?

JOURNAL… back to writing it down, adding it up, owning it… back to meeting the nutrition goals of the food groups.

There is more, there will be more, but it can’t all be done on the same day… so for this day, today.. I will write it down…

Not much more to say about this, update tomorrow at 6!

Wish me well.  How do you manage your weight?

…. goodbye grandpa…

… I knew him longer than my own father… Although I called him Grandpa, I always thought of him as Dad.. He taught by example, the example of his own life, lived with integrity, clarity and humor.  Grandpa on the dance floor was in his element… dancing until nearly the last days of his life… Last August, as his balance slipped, his dance step was still strong, he loved the music and he loved dancing with a partner… But as he said, ‘in life I am an easy going guy, but on the dance floor, I’m in charge!’  And in charge he always was, on the dance floor and off…

He was in charge of his own life and his own life decisions… making the decision to put himself on the wait list for Weinberg House, and then years later making the decision to go into assisted living… he opted for independence and freedom always, yet understood as he aged, that in order to continue to be independent, he had to forfeit pieces of his independence.  While stubborn is a fair word to describe Al Cohen, his ability to adapt, his kindness to all, and his thoughtful life leave us with only the best of memories.

When I recall my favorite memories of Grandpa, they revolve around family and synagogue.  There is not a doubt that we honor him best by being together, by making time for family and by continuing the practice of our tradition.  He was modest, unassuming, he didn’t ask to be the center of attention… but there was no doubt at his 100th birthday, the pleasure he took in being the center of his synagogue and his family.  His grin on the Bima that day spoke volumes about his love of his family and his Jewish traditions.

Grandpa was open to new traditions as well… during the week of his 100th birthday, he mentioned that he would like pancakes.  We went to a pancake place… eh… and then we went to the pancake house!  An immediate partnership was formed.  Grandpa acquired a pancake card, and a taste for pancakes with blueberry syrup.  Anyone who has been to Florida in the last 3 years has likely been treated to a meal at the pancake house…!

Last summer when his cell phone broke, the acquisition of a new phone was challenging.  We tried to work with the provider, pointing out that at age 102, the option of a 2 year renewal contract was possibly impractical.. Grandpa was seated on his walker seat, in the middle of the store, not really participating in the negotiations… observing.. ‘hmmm, he said… a 2 year contract… that might not be such a bad idea’…. Grandpa, I wish we had taken the contract and insured your presence in our lives for another 2 years!

We miss you so much and are so thankful for all of the time we were granted.  May we live the balance of our lives with the solid core of strength that you provided, honoring your memory by passing forward all of the love you shared with us.

Good bye Grandpa, I will love you always.

….. heading into uncharted life…

… was life every charted?  likely not!  I do appreciate that 65 is now considered middle age!  Back in the day… where I come from, 65 was OLD… Yes, capital letter OLD.  house dress, wind it down, end is near OLD…

Something about this age is different.. until now I have been very certain about my role, even as it sometimes played out in an uncharted willy nilly pattern!  Child, student, 20 something party person, 30 something wife and mother, 40 something new career goals, 50 something bring it all together… and now..

there is no definition, no chart, it is my life, my choice… and the vistas are wide open.. well they are wide open, but there is no getting away from the knowledge that I am closer to the end than the beginning.. not too close, but closer!  That knowledge is bringing introspection, curiousness, a new boldness, and a desire to control the time.

Ah, young readers, do not be depressed… or dismissive.. now is a very rich time of your lives, but do not doubt for a moment that you will also arrive at this place of middle age, and, in a heartbeat… Think of the millions of years of the world’s life, and understand that we each are but a speck, a dot, infinitesimal within the scope of the world.

Pema Chodron is one of my favorite authors… she is a Buddhist monk with a sense of humor and a deep understanding of our life patterns.  Pema is a prolific author, from her writing I take the sage advice to not take myself too seriously… to let go of the story line that is always playing in my head, to understand that everyone is on  a journey, filled with their own stories and story lines… to head the wisdom of Elizabeth Kubler Ross who wisely states that; ‘What other people think of you is none of your business!’.  Pema’s book titles open the door to the parts of our life that we may have kept tightly wrapped and hidden, The Places That Scare You, Living with Uncertainty.. She advocates a practice of loving-kindness, building on the quote by Shantideva, ‘In joy and sorrow, all are equal, Thus be the guardian of all, as of yourself.

Along this journey, I have met my meditation teacher, and her journal, Claiming Yourself, a 40 day journal.  Ramaa states that in her tradition a problem takes 40 days to work through, and a big problem may take more than one 40 day cycle!  I immediately understood that most possibly I would spend the rest of my days working through 40 day cycles!  I am currently halfway through round 4…  Each day the journal gives me a thought, a comment on the thought, and direction.  Today is #25:

‘Negative thoughts do to the mind what junk food does to the body.  They carry calories and make you feel heavier.  You will then need to work out the calories of karma to feel light again. Put yourself on an ‘energy diet’!  When a negative thought occurs to you, ask yourself, ‘Do I want to add these calories to my karmic plate?’  What positive affirmation can you use to replace negative thoughts as they come?’

sigh, I have work to do!  So off I go on today’s mission of discovery..  Will you join me?

…….heading into spring

…. coming out of the cold and into the warmth…  today I can believe it will really happen!  the bright sun is sparkling through the branches of the back yard trees.  the play of light and shadow creates a pattern on the big kitchen window.. I know when I look that I will discover the hostas have grown another inch overnight.. The had poked up just a bit from the earth, only to be covered over with fresh mulch… this week, they dominate the mulch and look as though they will unfurl their leaves shortly.

in the front, the day lilies, as usual, conquer all obstacles, always trying to expand beyond their allotted square into the yard itself.  Lavender is beginning to show green growth at the base, and the other perennials are working their way up through the mulch.

There are spots of non perfection in the lawn itself, the landscaper has been contacted… and I have been again instructed in patience.  May 15 is the day for lawn assessment!

This year I am edgy to start planting.  Some years it is memorial day and the pressure is on the other side, almost a resentment to get the yard done.. this year planting feels like a gift, an opportunity to spend time with innocent beauty, to feel the dirt, and begin the cycle of life.

we are not skilled gardeners, our ‘plan’ is sketchy… but our hearts are pure!… I say we, it is mostly me… with an assist in the acquisition department from DH.  We have talked, we will acquire more tall grasses, some bushes for the north side of the house that was cleared of scruff last summer.  We will walk the ‘estate’ and worry over last years plantings that seem to have been visited by bark eating bunnies… Will the chicken wire keep them out?  Did we get it up in time, before the damage was too severe?  We will discuss the garden….. and think about what to put in the back corner..

We will admit bird feeder defeat and purchase the ugly green, no squirrel will ever get in, bird feeder…. the final battle was lost when the squirrel was found sitting in the popcorn tin of ultra expensive, cayenne pepper, squirrel hating feed.  Apparently our squirrels like spicy food!  … and can pry tin lids off containers…

The new bench from last summer has been released from the mound of blue plastic covering the lawn furniture… It will again be placed in the very back of the yard, and I will again resume my early morning coffee and bench time..

The transition to spring, season of beginning and renewal, feels especially poignant this year….

….and going where? …..south?

Let’s start with the ‘from’ part….!  Today let’s chat about the ‘from’ of my fashion life… dangerous territory!  Back in small town Iowa most clothing came from the Montgomery Ward catalog… well, that is not totally true, most clothing came from hand me downs and rummage sales… but SOMETIMES, very special times, clothing was selected and ordered from the catalog… In my life, always Montgomery Wards.

the catalogs came several times a year and were read more thoroughly and frequently than that other famous book, The Bible.  Entire sections were memorized, fantasies created, selections made, unmade, remade… and finally the day of the order placement would arrive.  (Except for the holiday wish book which was somehow sent to Santa Claus for the final selection process!)

Typically the fall order was the main one, with school wardrobe selection and when required winter coat selection.. Clothing was always ordered in a larger than current size, allowing for space to grow into… (regular childhood growth, not butter, sugar, cookie growth!)  To this day I remember a wool box pleated plaid skirt…. with bulky knee high sox and a mohair sweater… skirt rolled at the waist as soon as the front door banged behind me!

My goal by high school was to have 10 outfits, allowing for a two week repeat cycle.. but as usual, I digress…

Over the years I continued my affinity for clothes, although not catalog shopping… huckapoo knit patterned shirts, wool bell bottoms, the pantsuit (yes Hillary, the pant suit has been around for quite a few decades), print polyester, and later all things Liz Claiborne..

so, where am I going… after the last 10 or 15 years of short skirts, leggings, and boots.. I find myself at age 65.. shhh!, noticing that perhaps a style change is in order, well maybe not a change but a modification (that does sound better!)…. Does anyone remember the patterned tunics for older ladies from Trissi?  Or half sizes?  NO NO, I won’t go…. NEVER, NEVER EVER will I let go of style, fashion and fun!  However… sigh…. some modifications are likely required… not due to my mind, but due to my body, which seems to have some shape goals of it’s own…. HRMMMPH… and there is a difference between cute fashion and ridiculous… You do know what I mean… well, if you are of a certain age, you know!

Balance, finding balance in fashion as in everything else is required… So, I now have Ponte pants, still slim legged, but not leggings… and I am working on summer… what will summer of 2015 look like?  Casual… featuring work out daywear, my knees are still going to show, even though there are so many wrinkles where my thighs seem to think they should move south at least to my knees… (no wonder people move south to Florida, they are following their body parts, knees, elbows, chins, necks)  Oh, this is too depressing!

I am going to wear color, lots of color, cute shoes, scarves and whimsical jewelry… I am going to have layers, for when I am too hot, too cold… or the Chicago weather changes unexpectedly.  I am still going to wear ‘flip flops’, well ‘adult’ ones with ‘arch support’, colored sneakers, fun sox.  I am a work in progress… so let the progress continue!

What is your fashion look?  Have you changed your style lately?

…..where have I been and where am I going?

Somehow this cannot be done in one post… or maybe not even a year of posts… I didn’t make a decision to stop blogging… my computer got old and crochety, while I found my patience for all things electronic at a supreme low.  Blogging on a tablet keyboard didn’t work for me, and blogging at work didn’t have the right atmosphere, so the blog stopped…. I did try a couple of post with voice, but that is not me… I need/want/like the touch of the keyboard, the immediate reread and word substitution, the slower thought process as I set my path for the day’s writing…

I come from Iowa… small town Iowa, country Iowa… in the 50’s, post war Iowa… little bitty house, one bathroom, gravel driveway, no garage… and big time freedom… Freedom to roam, explore, discover both indoors and out… Freedom from technology, no TV, one radio, one black dial telephone (with a party line)…our playground was the town, one mile square, navigated on foot, roller skates and finally a bicycle!  The rules were simple, stay out of trouble, be respectful and be home within 5 minutes of the street lights turning on!  We were outdoor kids, we were library kids, we were soda shop kids, we solved the problems of the world, such as, it is ok to use the word shit, sitting in the trees surrounding the tennis courts.

It was a simple life, bread was home baked, slathered in butter… butter and salt were on the table and added to everything.. eggs were cooked in butter… donuts were fried in coffee cans filled with lard… then rolled in sugar and cinnamon, Kool- Aid was 5 cents per  packet, add two cups of sugar and guzzle… my summer home was an old canvas tent set up each summer, lined with old quilts and available for sleepovers and kitchen raids nightly from June to September..

I appreciate it more now from a distance… at the time, we grew into the sixties… graduated high school and left… college called and was now the new normal.  For a small town girl the approved choices were still limited, teacher or nurse.  I arrived on campus in the middle of a revolution, students for democratic society, the Vietnam war, turmoil was the normal.. blue jeans, straggly hair, no bra… what were we thinking?  We were ‘free’, we had no rules, our boundaries expanded faster then we could find the edges.  College began with an 8pm curfew, dresses and stockings every day, and ended with co-ed dorms and not a stocking to be found!

We grow beyond our childhood, yet our childhood defines us on a deep personal level, we forget for months/years at a time, and then memories surface, bidden and unbidden.

I am reading ‘Living your unlived Life’, which posits that we will need to make peace with the life and life choices we live now and that long ago childhood life.  For everything we chose, or was chosen for us… we missed another choice, another direction.  According to the author, Robert Johnson, it is the 2nd half of our life, kids raised, career settled, when we will have the time and need to undertake the 2nd half of the journey… where are we going?

SHIT!  (ah I can say that word!)  what is that new, other, unlived life?  where will it take me… what have I chosen, what have I missed… can the two be reconciled?  Reconciled in time… in time… because the time is finite… thus we must undertake the journey right away, the journey of self discovery of growth…

and so I will be back, to blog again, to discover, to think, to learn, to live…. in time.

What choices would you change? regret? reconcile?

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