Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Growing Up.......

Growing up.....Not only do I feel like I have grown up, but I've reached the crest of the hill of life and am descending rapidly down the other side. What will this side of the hill look like??

The first side was full of promise...."I'll do that someday" moments. Now the reality is I probably won't do "that".  For a myriad of reasons, $$$, health, stamina, a companion to do it with....sigh.

Challenges in the first half were just that, a challenge, a problem to be solved, and moved past.  Loss of income? okay I have other options to pursue.  A marriage over? I'll build a different life .  Housing relocation? no problem I can adapt, build a new nest.  

On this side those same situations cause a different response. Funds are limited and will probably stay that way, no real belief I'll win the lottery..lol. Housing is the borrowing, a renting of someone else's space. It is a lucky happenstance that my dogs have an affordable, safe place to stay.  But there is no independent lifestyle. This is not my home, not the way my home of 30 years in the sweet town of Gladstone was. Not how I imagined I'd spend my senior years ~ no Sunday Dinners at Nana's, no family, grandchildren, great grandchildren to share time and break bread with.  They have their own lives, college, careers, travel, adventures of the young. Little place for the "old one" there.  As it should be, not disregarding, rather the rhythm of life as generations come and go.

Somehow life is smaller. I no longer have the depth of resilience, or stamina, no depth of resources, I have a smaller community of friends, my world is smaller in dreams. Maybe the real word is reality.  As an elder my "body vehicle" is becoming a "high mileage used car".  Who knew you could go to bed one night, only to wake up in the morning with an ailment of one sort or another??  Damn you felt great last night, today your hip aches like a bad tooth.  WTH???  Maybe you tweak your knee and in the day you would be good to go in 48 hours, not so now, it could be weeks before healing is complete. This doesn't even include all the ailments seniors are prone to...diabetes, cancer, arthritis, joint disease, all the result of the body wearing out.  We all know where this path is leading..R.I.P, nice wake, burial or cremation?...  Eventually the old vehicle won't start, it has reached the last mile...no spark...done.

Yep, this side of The Hill seems like desert and sagebrush as compared to to lush valleys and verdant landscapes of the first half.  Not that there isn't beauty, peace, grace...there is. But I also am learning aging isn't for wimps.  So maybe the next time you are tempted to take your life for granted...remember where your road is headed.  Remember to enjoy your "everyday" life, and know you are already living the best days of your life.....don't wait until it's over to realise what you had....just sayin'....old folks get to do that..:-)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mom, you were never Donna Reed

I don’t know about you, but being a baby boomer I think we lived through a golden age. Maybe to call ourselves children of the Rock and Roll era would be closer to the truth, the 50’s and the early 60’s. Up until JFK’s assassination and the Vietnam War it was a pretty idyllic time to grow up.

Our lives seemed to be molded by the stories we read and eventually what we watched on TV. Ideals like the Golden Rule, good triumphs over evil, if you do your best you’ll succeed, be courteous, and of course obey all the rules. We had heroes like The Lone Ranger, Hop-A-Long Cassidy, Roy Rodgers, even the beloved Mouseketeers always had a moral to the stories they told and songs they sang. Be good and a good life will follow.

Probably more influential to me were shows like “Father Knows Best”, the “Donna Reed Show”, “Leave It To Beaver”, and of course cute Ricky Nelson and his family. My family didn’t fit the template that I saw presented on those shows. My mother almost always wore pants; those mothers wore dresses and pearls as they prepared lunch boxes for their kids to take to school. Their fathers wore suits when they left for work, or around the house it was slacks and a nice golf shirt. They were doctors, lawyers, even insurance salesmen; my dad was a glass glazier, hard to say and even harder to explain.

It seemed like there was an agreed upon order to your life back then. You went to grade school, high school, and maybe some college. At least enough to get you a job, or a husband, or both. Then it was time to start a family.

Even though I was given the option to “be whatever you want to be”, eventually becoming a wife and mother was the expected path and goal. Actually that was a role I accepted and sought out. The end of my Senior year I did meet the man who would be my husband for over 30 years. Within 2 years after out marriage we had our first daughter and three years later the second that rounded out our little family.

I guess you’d have to say I was taught my parenting skills by watching TV. I knew I didn’t want to raise my kids the way I was raised so I watched TV and listened to the “expert-of-the-month”. Remember Dr Lendon Smith and Dr Spock?? All the while seeing those TV families in the back of my mind. Knowing my family was going to be picture perfect.

Oh my gosh, when it came to food I read Adelle Davis and totally bought into eat right and “Let’s Have Healthy Children.” I shopped the health food stores which were still a novelty and hard to find back then. Halloween, Easter, and Christmas my kids would find their baskets, and stockings filled with carob malt balls, Tiger protein bars, Applettes, and other “good-for-you” treats. “Go ahead, carob tastes just like chocolate.” “Yuh uh, no it doesn’t” I didn’t seem to notice my girls had no desire to jump on my health food band wagon.

Not to be deterred I pushed ahead on my All American Mother course. I baked home made bread from scratch. I sewed matching dresses for my daughters, shirts for my husband that were quite the fashion statement. I even knit him a ski sweater that must of weighed 10 lbs and would of kept him warm to a -40 degree temperature. You know I only remember him wearing that sweater once?!?

I went on school field trips, taught Sunday school, cleaned my house, cooked good meals, and worked in the yard. But some where along the line there was a part of me that wanted to step outside the box that had been created for me. I loved my life but every now and then a bit of the Earth Child would surface. I became fascinated with New Age music and ideas; I read about yoga and practiced it secretly at home. I loved the beautiful flowing clothes (I had missed the Hippie Era) There was a free spirit that just kept slipping out. But all in all I really thought I was living the stereotype of the All American Mom.

Imagine my surprise a few years back, when I was telling a friend about the early years of being a wife and mother. I was explaining how I had nailed my interpretation of the “Apple Pie” mom. My daughter Tracy happened to overhear the conversation and with a big smile, laugh and shake of her head said, “Mom you were NEVER Donna Reed”!! I wasn’t?? Wow, who was I then? And if I wasn’t who was? You know what I’m thinkin’? Nobody was, probably not Donna, not Mrs. Cleaver, not Harriet. We had been sold a false template of what society thought we should be, but in the end who we were was even better, the authentic self, the original spirit that we each are.

I’m glad I had the role models those women represented, a base to build on. But I’m also glad a part of me grew along with that artificial ideal. Yes Ladies, Mother’s of the 60’s and 70’s we did the best we could, made our mistakes, and enjoyed our successes. The result is the generation that is our children, freer than we were, smarter for sure. I am lucky enough to see my grandchildren who are now perched on the edge of adulthood. Environmentally aware, socially compassionate, multifaceted beings that will help change this world for the better.

So okay I wasn’t Donna Reed, I was something better, I did the best I could, and I became ME.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The day I slept with the Utah Jazz

Once long ago, I was a successful business woman. A mover and shaker as it were. Part of my job was to attend tradeshows and national RV rallies. I had an informational booth and was once told I could sell ice to the Eskimos. Whether that was true or not I can’t judge, but I know I loved traveling to a different city every month. Getting to investigate and enjoy cities like Louisville, Knoxville, Houston, Del Mar, LA, San Francisco, Chicago and many more.

One of my favorite memories began at the San Antonio airport. I and two of my employees had gotten to the airport early one Sunday. We had checked in and decided to have breakfast before our flight. This particular Sunday happened to be Easter Sunday and accordingly the airport was pretty quiet.

I noticed when we entered the restaurant the tables were filled with happy talking travelers. Hmmmm they were all men. Adding the two guys I was traveling with to this roomful of males I was happily outnumbered, a girl has to find her fun where ever it presents itself right??

We ordered our food and had just finished when the call came to proceed to boarding. Everyone began to stir at once, grabbing carry-ons and settling bills. What I found most interesting was as the other guests in the restaurant, all those other fellows began standing up to leave…they just kept standing up!! They were all well over 6ft, some even 7ft. What the heck?! Then I saw the team jackets, it was the Utah Jazz basketball team, trainers and coaches. These guys were so funny; one of their support staff stood at the door and handed out their boarding passes as the team members walked by single file. It cracked me up, like little kids on a field trip. Being only 5’ 2” I felt like a Bonsai tree in a forest of Sequoias.

As we made our way to the plane it was clear we would be riding with the team. We had a short layover in Salt Lake and they were headed home.

The plane like the airport was pretty empty. In fact the only people on the plane were us and them. I found my way to my assigned seat and watched as all these long legged fellows found a row of seats to themselves, blankets, and a pillow. It was clear they had done this before, found a way to stretch those long legs. Gosh what would they of done if the plane had been full??

As everyone settled in I found myself sitting across the isle from a nice looking, dark haired, athlete. He was very sweet and said how anxious he was to get home and spend Easter with his kids.

Being Easter my isle companion had chocolate, which he politely shared. After a bit of small talk the plane got quieter and quieter. Many of the passengers snuggled down for a chance at a nap as we winged our way to Salt Lake.

An uneventful flight brought us to the time of cabin chimes and the standard announcement, “fasten your seatbelts, tray tables to the upright position. We are making our descent to the airport.”

All the noise woke up the dozing passengers including the cute young man across the isle. He woke up with a start and then a stretch of those long basketball legs. He looked over at me and said with a smile, “Gee I sure hope I didn’t snore or drool.” I said with a wink and smile as big as his, “Oh no you were quite the gentleman. But honestly I can’t wait to tell my friends I slept with the Utah Jazz!!”

I didn’t realize until later but the nice young man across the isle was none other than John Stockton. For years I would see the “Stockton to Malone” show when the Blazers played Utah and remember that Easter morning. Just a bunch of folks headed home from a work assignment, to family and friends. And I’d think with a wink and giggle; I really did sleep with the Utah Jazz! Like I said a girl finds her fun where she can.

Life was good back in the day…

Monday, June 22, 2009

I am sitting in a parking lot in Troutdale. There are 5 trucks with horse trailers lined up ready to head out on an adventure. Couples with their horses, headed out to…?? On a wonderful summer weekend ~ who cares, just headed out.

I remember getting ready to go on a camping trip, the feeling something wonderful was about to happen. As a child we had a travel trailer, everyone else had tents. We on the other hand had a self contained trailer. Boy, were we high tech!

I remember you had to pump the water at the sink to build pressure and then you would have running water. Well until it ran down and then you’d have to pump it again.

The toilet had the indigo blue chemical, as a kid I always thought that was cool. Of course there were rules for the toilet, don’t use it unless you have to. For sure the restroom visits that required something we would now call solid waste, were taboo. “Go to the campground outhouse if you are going to do that!”

Being a city kid I loved getting out into nature. Since my father and his friends were fishing nuts, there was no shortage of opportunities for camping trips; notice I didn’t say fishing trips. You see us girls were left to our own devices back at camp. The men and boys headed out to the boat dock with tackle boxes, fishing vests, poles, nets and cooler. I saw what went into that lunchbox, yummy stuff. Saltine crackers, Tillamook cheese, summer sausage, and in my Dad’s case, a six pack of Oly. Off they’d go and we would see them later in the day all sunburned and smiling, and usually carrying a string of trout.
What did we “girls” do while the men were off being “hunter gatherers”? Well, let’s see we washed up the dishes from breakfast, straightened up the camp, hung damp dish towels out to dry and in our case, tided up the trailer. If it was cool we kept the fire pit going. I had the child care detail and spent most of the day watching my sisters and finding ways to keep them entertained. With hikes, and exploring nature that really wasn’t so hard. Of course there were naps for them in the afternoon, a time when the teenagers would head out in search of great adventure. Unbounded energy and enthusiasm, the gifts of youth.

Somehow the food always tasted better, the air was clear and sweet. Birds sang, chipmunks scolded and made us laugh at their antics. The hawks lazily circling overhead, their sharp whistling call echoing through the forest. Sometimes there were those cute little green tree frogs.

In the evening there would be the communal camp dinner. Sharing tables, potato salad, pan friend trout, cantaloupe, garlic bread, and yummy homemade cookies somebody’s mom made. And later after dinner and dishes, we would roast marshmallows over the campfire.

We always had a kid’s only tent for bedtime. I remember crawling in my sleeping bag and falling fast asleep. Between you and the hard earth was an air mattress that may or may not hold air all through the night. But sleep was deep and peaceful.

I am glad I had those times. The days spent together camping seemed to bring function to what I often considered a dysfunctional family. Good memories, happy times.

So with a wistful smile I watched the campers drive out of the parking lot. Five vehicles, people and their horses headed to fun and adventure. “Have a good time” I mentally waved. Thanks for reminding me of a special childhood memory.

Suddenly I have a craving for S’mores ;o)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'll never get old LIKE THAT!!!

I’ll never get old LIKE THAT!!!!

Today is the day I can officially go online and sign up for my Social Security Retirement Benefits. In three months I will be 62.

Good Lord how did this happen?? As I write this I am looking through little reading glasses and hold on ~ you aren’t going believe this ~ they are hung around my neck on one of those strings old ladies and bookkeepers wear!! No offense to bookkeepers but I never intended to be an old lady. I can so clearly remember when I was a teenager; looking at my parents who were what 45??? And thinking I’ll never get old like that! I won’t ever let myself go and have a wide waist, wrinkles, and for sure no turkey neck hangin’ down. I’ll always have a bounce to my step, stamina, strength, and grace.

What was I thinking? What did I think was going to happen? I should have been suspicious when my first invitation to join AARP came on my 50th birthday.. But I didn’t heed the warning. I was walking straight into old womanhood. It was so sly I never saw it coming. Oh sure the skin under my upper arms had started to wave, even when I wasn’t. The hair that had been intentionally blonde had been allowed to become it’s natural white. It was no longer “she’s the blonde over there” it had become “she’s the lady over there with the gray hair”.

Somehow physical yard work, that had once been easily mastered, was now a chore. A chore that at times, was more than I could sustain and complete.

Words began eluding me. I’d try and explain a thought and lose the precise language I wanted to use. “It sounds like, it’s like, oh you know.” What the heck? Part of my brain, along with many body parts was already headed towards the road to retirement.

I have noticed “old people” behavior slipping into my life. Things like “I don’t like to drive at night” and “is there a smaller portion of this meal?” Yep me and the little kiddies eat on the lighter side now. Oh this is a good one, I start questioning “do I really need to go to the restroom? Or is it because I’m old and I think I need to??” You Seniors get my drift.

I don’t hear quite as well , climb stairs as quickly, and I sure as heck don’t see as well. NO! NO! NO!
Talk about shock and awe. I still can’t believe I am the same age as my grandparents when I was growing up. Gosh they were old. I have used up way more time than I have left. And by the way what did I do with what I used up?? It’s like I was given a bag of golden days when I got here and now it’s ¾ gone. Not only that, I can’t tell you what I spent most of those golden days on, amazing… grace.
My friend Cheryl sent me an article today and in it was a quote, lyrics actually, by Willie Nelson. They seem to sum up my feelings right now so I’d like to share these words of wisdom by Zen Master Willie.
Nothin’ I Can Do About It Now.
I could cry for the time I’ve wasted
But that’s a waste of time and tears,
And I know just what I’d change
If I went back in time somehow
But there’s nothing I can do about it now.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Words written on paper

Rupert age 6 (he was with his family 5 1/2 yrs) One of six who have gone to the Bridge.
People often wonder why I am so adamant about my dogs safety, where I live, how I live. This story will explain all. Rural Clackamas County is a wonderful place to live if you are a responsible owner of canines like mine, Pierce County, WA is not. These are not my animals, they were the furkids of a dear friend.

Words written on paper…

Sorrow disbelief, and frustration fill my heart. A rule, words written on paper have caused the intentional death of 6 beings. Their only crime was carrying the bloodline of recent wolf heritage. They lived in secure containments, and were cared for by responsible owners.

The animals themselves were all rescues of one sort or another. Saved from unfortunate situations and brought to safely and a loving home in a rural setting. Each one had a story, each one special and unique.

In the 10 years there were wolfdogs on the property there had been not one neighbor complaint, no escapes, no bites, no threat to the community. Just a family of people and animals dedicated to loving and living, a reward for past abuse.

I really had to stop and think isn’t that why legislation is written? To make sure animals are contained, cared for, while posing no problem to surrounding property owners? The spirit of the law was kept, the letter wasn’t, couldn’t be. There is no way to legally register and license an illegal animal. Sadly had there been written proof these guys were 10.5 years old or older they would have been legal by description, and not classified as dangerous animals. All requirements could have been met. This because of a grandfather clause included when the law was adopted. As the fates would have it they were 10 and under, and having been rescued there is no proof of even that.

Words written on paper, a decision made in Pierce County WA in 1999 pre-determined these animals were dangerous. Interestingly in the same year the Oregon State Vet did an extensive investigation and determined that wolfdogs are no more dangerous than any large breed canine, and the same good citizenship should and would be required by both. That remains the standard of the state to this day. There is no way to justify the decision made by a political committee in WA but their words, their prejudice, and their power put on paper caused the death of 6 innocent beings. The Commissioners legacy is a sad and ignoble one.

One day last week a worker cutting brush for the BPA visually invaded private property that had been hidden from view. What he saw were 6 wolfy looking canines. They didn’t threaten him, or probably even see him. This “rule keeper”, felt compelled to do what no one who lives in the area had done in 10 years. He alerted Animal Control. I wasn’t his business, but his determination to be a whistle blower created a situation that ended in death and loss.

Friday Animal Control paid a visit, after they left with their intimidations, accusations, and threats the pack seemed to know what lay ahead. They were relaxed but subdued. Tails moved side to side, eyes watched their family, and they knew. At the same time there was an assurance they seemed to communicate, “its okay, we understand, we’ll be fine, don’t worry”. Decisions had to be made, AC would be returning on Tuesday to review documents, documents that didn’t exist. Rather than face darting, forced confiscation, incarceration, and the routine sentence of death for dangerous “hybrid” canines the family made a choice. It would be a peaceful leaving. Surrounded by those whose love they had shared for much of their lives. They were held, good byes were said, tears were shed, and they were released with respect to the bridge.

Where there once had been happy animals there is now a 10ft grave that will be planted with wildflowers. Six crosses painted white will bear a ceramic, wolf print plaque. Each name, Grimalkin, Falcon, Hunter, Jessie, Patience, and Rupert will be held in memory

This tragedy did nothing to make the community safer, it was never in danger. This madness of creating laws that are written to further organizational agendas has to stop. It is time to take a stand, create the vocal community that says NO MORE!! We will not have our families torn apart, by knee jerk politicians. I don’t know how, but I know when. And the time is NOW!!!!! It’s time to come together and create good to replace this terrible wrong.

Please when you give your support to HSUS and other animal rights groups your money is going directly to support breed specific legislation (bsl), the legislation that created this mindless law. Don't do it, give your support to your local Humane Society, they never see a dime from the national group. Animal Welfare is the goal not animals rights adgendas that seek to strip good owners of their animals just because they aren't beagles or boxers.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Who really is Queen of the bed???

Who really is the Queen of the bed??

I have often considered myself a Queen especially when it comes to my favorite spot, my yurt bedroom. It is a little jewel box, looking out the front door there is a view of the pond. In the warmer months at night we are serenaded by the frog kingdom, and always there is the murmuring of the ducks. There is a rich brocade comforter in chocolate brown and wine burgundy. Pillows and dust ruffle to match, a bouquet of roses permanently sits on the antique pie cabinet. A TV, faux fireplace, and red velvet armchair.

Often as I listen to TV and knit my beautiful dog Shawnee will join me and stretch out on the bed. Especially in colder weather I will have the mattress cover pre warming the bed ~ a favorite of hers. The boys Thunder and Storm are not allowed in the girls boudoir, at least not for long. They are quickly escorted out by Shawnee Marie; there is a definite “Girls Only” sign on the door when she is in control.

Normally all is well and benevolent as we two Queenie’s relax and unwind. Shawnee will stretch out her long wolfie legs and cover 75% of the bed, I will have my feet up sitting beside the bed in my red velvet chair; she is so beautiful as she sleeps. Her double coat a soft tri color perfect right down to the natural black eyeliner, a marker of her wolf heritage. And of course the big white teeth, what a beauty she is.

Eventually it is time to turn in for the night. I hang my knitting bag from the rafters as not to become a chew toy for the dogs during the night and turn off the TV. Then the war of the kingdom begins.

Tug, tug, on the blankets, “Shawnee scoot over.” I see a thinly disguised look of irritation and could it be…doggie contempt? She seems to say “Excuse me We are reclining here, take your demands and requests elsewhere.”

“OK Shawnee move it”, this time I have her attention and I see more of those pearly white teeth than necessary ~ let the growling begin.

Tug at the blanket again, more growling and doggie disgust. “Okay Girl that’s it I’m bigger than you”. I put my hand around her muzzle and hold it firmly, look in her beautiful amber eyes and say “MOVE IT!”

She says. “GRRROWL”, then slowly moves off the bed. Front feet on the ground first, a long stretch, back feet down and then sashes out of the room with a walk reminiscent of Rue McClanahan in the Golden Girls.

Ah, slip into bed, stretch out, fluff up pillows, breathe deep. Uh Oh guess who just came back through the door? Why Miss Shawnee. “Hi Mom!”, “Hi Girl.” Hops up on the bed, spins around, finds just the right spot, plop down she goes. We settle in, and so it is, every night the Queen Mom and her Four legged Queen Girl fall asleep dreaming of the adventures tomorrow will bring.

She is so pretty when she’s asleep, but oh my what a challenge as we once again establish who really wears the crown in this yurt ~ me of course…no me…no me…grrrr.