A Non Inflammatory Post

Wrapping it up.

The gift bags, boxes, and random wrapped gifts are stationed at the table in the big room. The wrapping paper has been put away. And the gifts I have to deliver, are on the counter.

The Ohio Express is getting ready to join millions of others on journeys near and far.

Yes, it is over to Asheville, turn right and head northwest. Passing through two sets of mountains, and then into Kentucky, we will have a rented minivan full of Christmas cheer.

Since my Subaru bit the bullet, we have been driving Nick’s old Prius. I haven’t wanted to think about replacing my vehicle. And we are seriously thinking about going down to one car. We might scour the Automall, if we get a chance. But shopping for cars is not my idea of a good time.

It is a creepy game. Time consuming. Expensive. It gives me the vapors.

And I love it when they place their attention on Nick … not realizing that I am really in the driver’s seat on this event.

Does anyone else look at the multitudes of expensive cars, trucks and SUVs on the road and wonder where people get that kind of money?

I do.

How did I go down that road?

There is something that has happened since I was involved in my wreck. I am at heightened alert for cars … where they are coming from, how fast, and the uncertainty of driving.

I used to love to drive, but not as much anymore. There are too many people driving, in a hurry, ignoring laws and acting like jack rabbets wearing asshats.

I still love driving in the country, meandering and moseying, but to go into the “zones” of craziness … aye-yi-yi-yi.

I sound so poo-poo, which is funny because I am starting to fee much better. I am down 20 pounds since my wreck and I have health plans and an agenda for the new year.

From what I have been reading, inflammation is a big health problems. Truthfully, I knew that, but last night, I watched a YouTube video by a cardiologist about things to do to get your heart better.

Since I have entered what shall I say, “Heartland”, I have been learning a lot. I have learned how sleep apnea effects the heart, how inflammation from what you eat can trigger other things to go haywire and that there are things that I can do to get my body back on track.

I did a good job of turning things around a couple of years ago, but I had this battle in my head of “Do I want to live this way … denying many of the eating pleasures.

Caution to the wind, I ate too many good things and then bad things.

After the wake-up call and self flagellation and week of anesthesia brain, I am ready to charge on for a better today and tomorrow.

I am still cogitating what I would like to accomplish and figure out where my purpose will lead me, next year. I really don’t know if it will include FB writing. There are times when I think that I should leave before you tell me to. And FB, with its recent BS going on, it brings my love/hate relationship as a writing venue to the surface.

I operate better with a purpose, but there are times when I wonder if I should find a new purpose, of simply just lied days unfold.

Nah, I stink at that.

See, I am working things through. Oh, there are days when I think I should go be a monk and wear a brown robe with a hood. I like hoods. I also can make fudge to sell at the monastery gift shop. But I would need to be in an order of monks that laughed … a lot. I might also get kicked out of chapel for playing tic-tax-toe on the visitor cards.

How do you ponder and figured out what you want to do with your life? Note: there are many of you in the throes of working and child-rearing, so, you are on your march to survive all that goes on with that.

But for those who have the time, how do you determine what you want your life to be? I am curious.

This post feels like driftwood.

Are any of you heading anywhere for Christmas?

I am glad I don’t have to go to Sandringham for Christmas with the queen, although it would be fun to watch Prince Charle and Camilla get it on.

If we had a queen, who do you think would be a good one? Miley Cyrus might be fun.

Well, I am rails off the rails, now.

Off to go to the backyard to graze on some grass. I don’t think it is an inflammatory.

Susan

PS. My lunch yesterday at Jim and NIck’s/ I drove myself there to pick up some biscuit mixes for gifts, and decided that I needed to sit at the bar and have lunch/dinner. That is the tastiest said … and I didn’t eat both dressings.

“Schlemiel! Schlemazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

“Schlemiel! Schlemazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

My granddaughter has a skating costume that has a large, “L” on it. Her synchronized skating team skates to the Laverne and Shirley theme song.

Imagine a group of some 30 or so young girls, in their circle skirts and “L” sweats skating around the rink, in 2018, to the theme song to a show from 1976.

To those of us who were around at that time, you probably sighed and got that oh, no, feeling, when you read that Penny Marshall, Laverne had passed away.

Something is wrong with this system. The system that gives us so much and then swoops in on angel’s wings, and takes life away. It is something I can accept but not get used to.

Penny Marshal fir her names, both Benny and Laverne.

I read that at one point in her career, she was hurt, bummed, because she didn’t get parts because of her look … not your standard Hollywood cutie pie.

She didn’t see how her smile and askewishly real humor, resonated with millions and millions of people.

But she found her fit. She was Laverne, a beer capper in Milwaukee. She was the yin to Shirley’s yang, and they made us laugh. And Squggy and Lenny.

I loved watching them get ready for dates and thinking about dates. I loved their relationship and their apartment. They were real, not some people with unattainable lives.

From what i read, Penny didn’t have a great plan to be a huge actress or director. She just did it. She grew from actress to successful movie director. And she also had her disappointments, things that didn’t turn out as well as she had hoped.

Years ago, I read that she and Carrie Fisher were best of friends and celebrated their birthdays together. I bet they were a hoot together. Both with wry senses of humor,

Carrie is now gone, too. That death also stung.

Isn’t it weird? I didn’t know either of them, but I mourned them. (Good grief, I accidentally typed ‘mounted them’ instead of ‘mourned them.’)

They would have appreciated that typo.

I don’t imagine that any of the young girls on my granddaughter’s synchronized team keen who Penny Marshall was. Maybe they don’t have any idea of what the letter “L” on their sweaters stands for. I don’t know.

As I sit here in my big room, looking out at the grayish silver trees behind my house, glancing at The Boy, sleeping on the couch with his head on a pillow, hearing the heat click on, and knowing I have much to do, today, I have to reset my head from far away mourner, to joyful gift wrapped and Santa helper.

I was glad that Penny lived to be 75, She had had health issues for years, getting lung cancer that had spread to her brain in 2009. The National Enquirer at the checkout counter gave grave warnings about her impending death.

But she showed them.

Ok. I am turning my thoughts around. I am making myself smile to have had the opportunity to laugh along with her and be proud of what she accomplished. She left a formidable legacy, including no a group of young girls who happily skate, wearing Laverne’s signature “L” on their sweaters.

If they only know.

So, for Laverne,let’s give her a rousing …

“Schlemiel! Schlemazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

And have a beer.

Susan

To Be or To Do? That Is The Question

The word for today is peristalsis. That came to mind about 4:30 this morning. I decided that I like the movement of the word, which is similar to its function.

Rejoice. Hallelujah!

Our internal glory, our place of joy, enlightenment and growth sometimes gets lost in the whiskers of life, changes and problems.

There are times when reassessment is in order … when things shift and what was … now, isn’t.

One of the interesting things about life, that I have found, is that not once in our lives, does time stop. Oh, yes, it seems to stand still, of we wish we could hold a moment in time, but we can’t. Time moves.

Our lives move, too. From birth until death.

Some humans work at planning their lives. One of our earliest forays into conversation is when someone asked us, as a child, “What do you want to BE when you grow up?

Another version of the question is “What do you want to DO when you grow up?

To a young mind, those questions seem the same. As children, I didn’t distinguish the two questions.

But now, I see them as very different. One is occupational and the other is our soul, beliefs, values and, well, who we are.

After having a lifetime of professions and titles for what I “do”, the stage I am in and on, is an extension of the question “What do you want to be?”

It has morphed into who I have become.

Many of the things I have done, occupation-wise, study-wise, experience-wise ,by choice or demand, has evolved into who I have become.

An interesting thought to me is that one of my occupations, took hold so much and gelled so deeply into me, that it actually has braided over to be part of who I have become.

Writer.

There have been times when I have struggled. Just being, and being who I am, I felt, wasn’t enough. Simply being myself, without “doing” wasn’t enough.

I should do this. I should do that. Perpetual motion of the mind, placing more value on the what I do, versus who I am. Maybe it is or was an earning my keep thing. Perhaps it is societal rumblings and expectations. I have often felt that I needed to earn my right to life.

I look at the walls of my house, the art, the things that are around me and I see many things I have done.

In a way, they are me. But in a way, I can separate myself from them and not really recall making them.

When I think back to my occupations, the days I was in the workplace, I was never any of those occupations. They were skills. I did them to the best of my abilities for you I was at the time, but none of the occupations was me. Marketing director, sculptor, real estate broker, software company CEO, workshop teacher, etc … I did them all, but they weren’t me. With each, there came a point when I said, no more.

But in each one, I learned and what I learned, I put through a sieve, and brought onboard the parts that I would build into who I have become.

Why do these thought matter to me, now?

Because once again, the last four months or so, my life has taken unexpected turns.

Years ago, when I was in real estate, a friend who had gotten into the business because I had, dais, in a very distressed and exasperated way, “Why are there always so many problems?”

I laughed, looked at her and said … “That is wat we are paid to do … solve problems.”

She said that from that moment on, she got it.

And then, she quit.

That knowledge, that nugget, that life is often about solving problems, and releasing those you can’t solve, to a higher power, is something that plays out over and over. And I have to remember that when my blueberry basket gets tipped over.

There are times, such as recently, when I have had to dive under water with my eyes open, and do the breast stroke. I might not see clearly, but I must do it.

As humans, we often have to swim through uncharted emotional, fearful, uncertain waters. But in doing so, our muscles get stronger. We become stronger than we knew we could become.

After initial shock and a bit of flailing, I find that I get in a rhythm. The opposing currents subside andI get in a flow of the new and strange. And for a while, I have a new normal.

The new normal rarely lasts. Even life doesn’t last. But the ride, this wonderful ride, with its twists and turns and earthquakes and whirlwinds, when there are days that we wonder how we will get through, and times we wish would last for ever, is a real trip.

And for that, I say, Rejoice! Hallelujah!

Susan

Stories Are My Life

Stories. My stories. Your stories. The stories we have lived, and the stories we have denied.
 
I am not sure how you see your life, whether it is one big ball of silly putty, or a string of events that don’t seem to have much rhyme or reason.
 
I can’t handle my life as one big ball of silly putty. I am more like a book. I have moments that are words, some are sentences. Some sentences stand alone and others morph into paragraphs. I have also lived in vignettes, almost stages settings that I have envisioned prior to them happening.
 
There are parts of my life that have revealed themselves in chapters. Short chapters, long chapters … that will, eventually, become the book of my life.
 
Writing and thinking in such a manner help give me some structure and order to my life so it doesn’t totally go out of orbit.
 
Yes, there are times when my thoughts and emotions get sling-shot to outer crazy land. But in putting what has happened into context, into a story, pulls me back into a place where I can live.
 
If you think about it, how do you see you life? Is it a story-board? Is it random things that seem as hough you have no control? Do you drag the past with you or carry it in you purse like a tube of lipstick? Or, do you see it in some other way?
 
I was so enthralled with the podcast I listened to, yesterday, that this morning, after cleaning up the remainder of the stuff in the kitchen, from our baked ziti dinners that we cooked for hurricane relief, I needed something to pull me back to center.
 
I scrolled down the list of podcasts on Invisibilia, and found won that sounded interesting. It was about a woman whose husband had died, leaving her bereft, who could not function well. She decided to jump out of an airplane. You will have to listen to the podcast to get the story, which is part of the reason that I am writing about life as story, today.
 
The other part of the episode was about a couple from Montana who raised bees. Someone stole all of their bees at the worst possible time, (not that there is a good time to steal bees).
 
Again, a story of loss.
 
We all lose things, don’t we? keys, purses, glasses, receipts, friendship, friends, spouses, children, parents?
 
We mourn and go over and over the past and the emotions and the stories of the past. Sometimes, we change the stories to make us feel more comfortable.
 
There are times in our lives, dare I say, that we don’t even know how we will move on, or if we want to try.
 
Think about the people who lost everything, including loved ones, in the recent hurricane. Many will have to start their lives over.
 
How?
 
As this podcast told so well, those who are able to move on, do so, in part, because they learn to create new stories for their life. They mourn the past, but instead of sticking in “I, I, I,” mode, they begin using pronouns such as “him, her, we, them.”
 
I know that is how i push myself forward. When it is too much, “I,I,I,” I know that there has to be a shift. My thinking needs to change. My attitude needs a vacuuming and there is a need for letting go.
 
Maybe, that is why I do some things that others think, “Why does she do that?”
 
I can tell you why, as it has become clear to me.
 
Because I want a new story to live, to experience, to share. There is something in me that drives me, and entices me to try this or that, so that it becomes a paragraph or chapter in my life, and that helps me engage with others.
 
There are times when I wonder if I could or would I want to go on if Nick dies before I do. When the woman in the podcast, the one who was grieving for her husband and her lost life, said that she didn’t get joy out of doing the things they used to do, together, I put myself there. I can bring myself to tears thinking about that, especially if I am driving in the car, alone, and hear a song that moves me.
 
Who knows if that will happen?
 
But in my mind, I pray that if that does happen, I will do as this woman does … jump out of a plane, metaphorically, and begin a new, different chapter. And if I look at it like that, I think I might be able to handle it.
 
Susan
 
https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510307/invisibilia

There’s Got To Be A Morning After

There’s Got To Be A Morning After

I really wanted Shirley Winters to drown in that movie, “The Poseidon Adventure.”

I am a pretty peaceful person, but there are some characters in movies and TV shows, that I just want to die.

There, I said it.

If I have to explain that I don’t really want that person dead, but the character dead, it is time to get off of the train.

I just like the title of that song. It is in effect at the moment. There’s got to be a morning after.

And there is.

Even as of yesterday, I thought, okay, garden time is over. I just looked at it with rather dead eyes and said, eh, where is the joy? Is it done for the season?

And then, when the bottom appeared to fall out of my life, I felt numb about the garden. Things were dying from heat and exhaustion.

And that is how I felt. I was in recovery mode for my back, and then, voila, the 48 hours portion of the program.

It rained last night. Only a quarter inch, but that brought things back to August life. I think plants like August about as much as I do.

Now, here is the deal.

I can either look at the 48 hours episode as another reason to dislike August. Look at it as poor us, look what we, (Nick) had to go through, or, I can say, aren’t we the lucky ones?

Nick still doesn’t feel “well”, but he is so much better. He jus drove The Boy, to school. He wanted to.

Oh, before I forget, thank you all for your wonderful prayers and stories in your comments. I read them all. I still don’t feel as thought I can answer each one, as it takes me back to a weird place that I am still trying to stabilize.

And oh,listen to this , two neighbors brought over dinner last night. I didn’t know that both were making dinner until it was probably too late to say no. But what fun it was to have two meals, and the thoughts that our friends wanted to help. Yummy.

But back to where I was trying to move forward.

The way I see it is, yes, we have lots of zigzags to deal with through this. Life doesn’t stop with other situations, but the key is, Nick is alive. He was carted home from the hospital, way better shape than he was bounced in. (He said the EMT ride was really bouncy)

As I sat in that hospital room, it didn’t escape me that people don’t always leave a hospital sitting up in a Subaru. Instead of coming to our house for barbecue, and thanksgiving, many families are sitting at tables or on sofas or in cars, making funeral arrangements.

So although August has its issues, this episode is not going to make it a land mark month.

Here is the question. What is the new next to normal? Doesn’t something most likely shift after something like this? Or do things go back to the way they were, and if that is the case, doesn’t that mean we didn’t learn form them.

I believe we must take something from every situation. It could be something positive, or it could be something that you have learned to deal with another situation in the future. The fact that we get through them, with our nerves a bundle and faith tested, must be seen as growth. It can be a growth of the spirit, faith, confidence, and learning how to do some mourning while we are alive.

We do mourn when we are alive, don’t we? Don’t many of us put ourselves in thoughts of how am I going to feel if a loved one dies? Haven’t you played that out?

I have. I think it is because I have this notion, that if I have it happen in my mind, it is practice, so I won’t be so stunned if and when it happens.

Really, doing so, for me, just causes moments of agony and grief. Is it that I am mourning the thought of loss?

You know, practicing?

It really is folly if you think about it. Nothing is going to prepare me, really prepare me for the death of a loved one.

We/I, have talked about being strong, rising to the occasion and acting brave. But I think loss of someone you love, will bring me to my knees, and there is nothing wrong with that.

As long as I learn how to get up.

I am back on my porch this morning. I didn’t come out here right away. I sort of made myself do it. I don’t want the summer season, my summer of gardening, to end on a kaboom. I wanted to face it.

I wanted to walk in the garden and look at the flowers and plants, bot living a dead and all stages in between, and know that we are all part of that plan.

Yesterday afternoon, I marveled at my two lemon plants that I am growing from seed. Each is about an inch and a half high. Fragile. They are learning how to live. I cut some other stems from plants and brought them into the house to see if I could make them grow. Seeing life start again, and again, and again, is important to me right now.

I suppose our time will come when our time comes. It most likely will come in a way that we might not have expected.

As I listen to a bird squawking loudly, I suspect he is saying, just go out and live you old buzzard. Flap you flabby wings and fly, Don’t get too close to the sun, but try to fly like you are on an eagle’s wings.

Susan

The Ides of August

A bit of death is in the air.

August does it to me. Most every year, the month of August brings a sullen, confused time into my life … into my state of mind.

This year, I lasted about a week into August before it really hit me. I am done with summer. Worn out from digging, bending, schlepping, lifting and tending the garden. Even the heat is different.

Yesterday, afternoon, I walked outside to try to get enthusiastic about something. I was hoping to feel the magic of the garden.

I looked around my yard. I walked to the wildflower garden, all spent from heat and exhaustion. Their bright colors had transpired to gray. Their heads, once bonnets of beauty, looked like me when I need to have my hair colored. Their posture was like mine, too. Bent.

The hydrangeas, which had been transplanted this year, and had been warding off the fungus, showed signs of weakness.

After. Few minutes, I walked into the house, noting that their was no air to breathe outside.

The garden had taken a toll on my body. I know, I know, I did it to myself. No one told me to haul bags of pea gravel, lift it and put it around. I didn’t have a gun at my head switch someone saying, dig deep into this clay to land this spires.

No, I was my own garden warden. The vision was strong. The body did most of what was asked. And now, it was revolting, telling me that it was time to rest.

There are times when I dance as fast as I can. I get a project, a vision in my mind and I go for it. I do what it takes for as long as I can.

Even if it involves trips to an orthopedic doctor and MRIs and. Probably, physical therapy.

Last week was also the week before my 6-month mammogram and visit with the surgeon. My first check-up since I was declared cancer free. And I had been cancer-free. Once the surgeon had said those words, after surgery and before radiation, I lived my life free of cancer. I simply went on.

The funny thing about many kinds of cancer is that you feel fine and dandy, even though a group of cells are gathering to form a convention of attackers, often you don’t know it. It is like walking in your yard, as you always do, but this time, you look at the grass and see a copperhead. Yikes. But you get rid of the copperhead and move on, perhaps with a slower speed because you realize that you need to slow down and feel life, or you speed up things because you hear tick-tock, tick-tock.

For me, it wasn’t so much the episode with cancer … it is age. No matter how much I want to believe that age is just a number … for me, it isn’t. It is trying to balance attitude, looks and body. I rarely have them all in sync.

And August is my month when I feel everything shift. It is my of uncertainty, a bit of a foggy head and a sense of loss … ad transition.

I see photos of my grandchildren heading back to school. A couple of days ago, I got a phi tire of my two oldest granddaughters standing by each other. One is a senior and one is a freshman. The senior was going to drive the freshman to high school. I couldn’t help but get misty.

It is so difficult for me to put my arms around the fact that one of my sons will have a daughter in college next year.

I guess that August is a melancholy month for me. The air even shifts. What was simply hot and humid, become stifling. The sounds of outside are different. The nights are loud with a cacophony of insects and their hallelujah chorus. And even now, as I sit on the screens porch, the sounds of insects drone, not allowing silence of any kind.

I tend to craw my way through August, waiting for it to end. If I acknowledge and embrace this weird sense that I feel, I can almost laugh at it. But mostly, I don’t think it is very funny.

The good news is that when September arrives, I have figured out my next chapter. I have let my mind and body regroup. At this moment, I am uncertain about what my next act on life’s stage will be. Will I continue to write and allow people to see some of the workings of my mind and heart, or will I hang that up? What will I do to move my life and thoughts forward? Or do I have to look at life that way?

There is something good that comes out of putting one’s shovel down for a while. Breathing deeply and taking stock. Maybe that is what August is about? Perhaps the discomfort and uncertainty of and uncomfortable feeling of this month is part of the growing process. It is a realization of the seasons. Seasons change. So must I.

But for now, I think I will rest.

Susan

PS. Winston feels this way, too.


Unexpected Losses

It isn’t that we were actual friends. More like pleasant acquaintances. I know of her but hadn’t talked to her until she began following my writing. At that point, we had a few email conversations about some of the subjects that I had written about.

One of those subjects was Ireland. It made her think about her trips to Norway, where she visited relatives.

I love Ireland. She loved Norway.

The last time I saw my friendly acquaintance, was just prior to our moving south. I saw her in a local carryout. I was buying scratch off lottery tickets pats and she had just purchased cigarettes.

We chatted for a few minutes. I told her we were moving. She mentioned that she and her husband had moved into a little schoolhouse type building. She mentioned that her son had bought their big house on the lake.

It was a peasant chat. Friendly acquaintances. A pleasant sort of relationship.

One of my sons knew her husband. I think that they were friendly acquaintances, too. One day, maybe a year or so ago, I received an email from my son, saying the husband of my friendly acquaintance, had died.

I didn’t know him, but I felt badly for his wife.

Remember when Robin Williams died? That hit me. I didn’t know him, but I grieved. The same with Anthony Bourdain. I recall, crying, when Nick told me what had happened. Nick asked why I was crying, and all I could say was that I was just very sad. I was going to miss him.

Maybe it is my age, or how the world is or just the way my mind works, but when I hear about certain deaths, though I might now have known the person, feel like a bit of a punch in the gut. My equilibrium takes a hit, and I grieve.

I have a friend that I have had for probably 35 or 36 years. Long time. Good friend.

The other day I called her. We chatted and caught up on what her kids were doing and how my kids are. We talked politics and laughed and about my old neighbors and that the people who bought our old house, which is next to hers, are taking good care of my cottage garden.

She asked me if I knew a certain person. This person was my friendly acquaintance. I said, yes, I know her.

“She died last week.,” she said.

My gut immediately hurt. She was only 67.

I can make 67 sound young or old. It depends on how I am looking at it. For death, it is young.

My friend told me the circumstances for the woamn’s death, which unsettled me even more. Fire, burns … suspected to be caused by smoking.

My mind flashed back to our chat at the carryout. She and her husband had a lake house and were planning on spending more time there. Her obituary mentioned that she and her husband began dating at 16.

Now, 3 years later, they both are gone. Their 3 adult children have lost their parents and their children have lost their grandparents.

And though I didn’t know either, well, they are in my craw.

Futures. Plans. Pasts. Unexpected Losses.

I think I will sit and watch some birds for a fe minutes.

Susan