Another letter to my ex-husband.

Sometimes an idea for a post pops into my head. If the notion pays the rent and takes up residence, I feel compelled to write it out.photo-43

I have noticed for months that there is one post I wrote early in my blogging days which continues to get attention. It’s called “A letter to my ex-husband.” and it consistently receives 50-60 clicks a week. I think this is telling me that there are new “victims” every day who seek comfort and company on the internet. Hopefully, they are seeking to lose that feeling of being the victim. What I know is that most are in a great deal of emotional distress.

Then I start to wonder, “Should I revisit that post? Should I write an update?” I seldom return to old posts. It’s rather like a sixteen-year-old backtracking to read what she wrote in her diary as a twelve-year-old — naïve and poorly written.

Dear D,

I have just read and re-read the open letter I wrote to you back in November, 2010. I stand by what I wrote. If I were composing the same letter today I might not use the Pearl Harbor metaphor but I’m not sorry I used it then. That’s how I felt at the time. I hope my writing is somewhat improved since those days.

I’m happy to say that I no longer dwell on the difficulties of that period in our history. My life moves along with more happy times than not as I try to focus on those most important in my life — my family. I must admit, though, that I still miss your family. At the time, I felt as if I had suffered multiple amputations but those wounds have mostly healed.

I have come to realize the we have a history — you, your family and I. And I know now that it’s mine to keep. No one, no divorce, no would-be interloper can ever take that away from me. I’m free to remember the happy times, and sad, as I choose. I even have a couple of pictures of you on display in my house. There’s one of you and two cute little granddaughters, all of you wearing identical Harley Davidson t-shirts. There’s the one of you and me and H when she was baptized  in your grandmother’s christening gown. When someone who doesn’t know you sees the latter and asks me if that’s my ex, I always say, “Yes, it is. Wasn’t he a handsome fellow.”

As I was reading the old letter and starting to write this post, I remembered the disconcerting dizziness of feeling as if I were on a merry-go-round back when I first heard the infamous divorce announcement. My mind would get in a loop and I had a hard time escaping the negative and unhelpful self-conversations. I even dreamed about carousels and their eerie, hypnotic music. I would feel it slowing and think it was slow enough to step off. But, alas, I would stumble and fall in a teary puddle every time.

My son-in-law recently told me about going to a colleague’s office to discuss a work-related matter. Instead of addressing the issue at hand, she looked at him and stated, “My husband is having an affair.” He asked me why she had said that to him. They weren’t buddies or anything so why would she do that? My immediate response was, “That’s all she could think about.” In other words, she was on the merry-go-round. It takes a while to get off. I had to ask the same “What did I do wrong?” question over and over before I finally let it go as unanswerable.

You’d think one carnival ride would be metaphor enough for one in the throes of despair. Not for me. I went straight from the carousel to a giant roller coaster. And sometimes the two merged into a monstrous nightmare.photo-73 This new ride came along when I stopped asking hypothetical questions and started to figure out what I must do to take care of me. I allowed my anger at you and at my situation to spring into action.

Anger can be a wonderful resource and motivator. It enabled me to start taking care of important divorce-related issues. Things like feeding myself properly, getting enough sleep and starting to raise my consciousness about financial matters and finding the right attorney to help me with my decision-making.

During this period the roller coaster started going up fairly often and I would feel pretty good. Fear would strike and I would crash back down. In between there were loop-de-loops when I was upside down and inside out and didn’t know what I was doing. One wise person named John told me, “Some things just take time.” He was right. As I found my sense of humor again and enabled my positive attitude, I came through and am better for it. I truly hope you are too.

Life is good as I remember our happy times together.

Fondly, Pat

 

 

I (heart) San Francisco.

I have nine grandchildren. Anyone who reads my blog or has ever met me knows this fact about me.photo-61 Being a grandmother is my best job yet. As each grandchild graduates from high school, I try to take him/her on a trip. Last year I took grandchild #3 to San Francisco. (I wrote about it here.) This year grandchild #4 requested the same trip. I think, initially, the attraction of the City by the Bay is its frequent presence in television programs and movies. I’m happy to report, though, that there is a great deal more depth than that in today’s youth and once they find themselves in the city, they are as captivated as I am by the history, the art, the people, et al.

photo-50
Flowers, flowers
everywhere, we should have worn some in our hair.

 

Chinatown is a must. We went there twice. The colors, the smells, the lanterns, the people. photo-44 photo-45Wonderful.

 

 

 

 

Some people told us not to miss Pier 39, others told us it was nothing but an amusement park. I disagree with the latter. It’s much more than that.photo-52 One of my granddaughter’s favorite things there was observing the sea lions from above.photo-62 There was one grumpy old fellow (or gal) who defended his territory with a vengeance. Fascinating to watch.

The only thing Iphoto-43 saw that gave the pier an amusement park feel was the carousel. We didn’t ride it but it has some imaginative and interesting animals for those who are so inclined.

photo-46I don’t know why I’m fascinated by the piano-playing stairway, but I am.photo-60 On the left is a photo of granddaughter #3 playing us a lively tune. On the right is this year’s traveler doing the same.

There’s a wonderful produce kiosk on the pier. Fresh fruits and vegetables galore.photo-59  photo-58Ranier cherries and freshly picked strawberries. Does life get any better? Yum!

Almost everyone who goes to San Francisco wants to visit the crookedest road in the country, or so they say. It’s very difficult to get a good shot of the curviness of the road with a phone camera. photo-42I was intrigued by this fairytale-like entry to one of the houses on Lombard Street so I’m showing you that instead.

We had lunch in Sausalito–best crab cake I’ve ever eaten.photo-63



Last year we didn’t make it to Haight Ashbury. I’m happy to say we went there this trip. I, being an old hippie, enjoyed that part of the trip more than my daughter and granddaughter did. photo-47It was (and still is) much romanticized. Truthfully, the only thing I find romantic about it is some of the architecture. photo-49I like the painted ladies. Many of them are being well cared for now and are simply lovely to look at. I think my travel buddies enjoyed the “ladies” too. And H (age 18) loved the huge music/poster store on Haight Street.

I went “heart” seeking again this year. I wrote about the hearts last year so I won’t repeat myself. I will leave you with a photo one of my favorite this-year hearts along with two of my favorite people in the whole wide world.photo-54

 


A bulletproof blanket?!?

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for two or three weeks. I’m trying to think it through and see all sides of the guns-in-America problem.photo-35 But the only thing I can see is the need for change, for our children to be safe, for no more parents to suffer the loss of their babies. This issue came to a head for me via Facebook.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I have truly enjoyed getting in touch with people I haven’t seen in years–family and friends. It’s been fun to learn which cousins/relatives think very much as I do, and which are my polar opposites philosophically and politically. I love all of them. They’re family.

I squealed with delight when I started to understand how much alike my cousin S and I are. I was perhaps more subdued when I noticed that one of my cousins is a gun-rights person. But I thought about it and nodded as if to say to myself, “Yep. That’s my boy.” He’s my way of coming to realize that not all gun people are crazy, though some seem to be. But I know my cousin’s heart and I know he’s not a knee-jerk crazy. He’s family and I love him.

Befriended “friends” (sorry for the redundancy) are not always like family. We don’t get to choose family. We can, whether we realize it or not, choose friends, whatever the venue.

. I seldom “friend” anyone on Facebook. Why is that? On the one hand, there’s a niggling feeling inside me that fears they won’t respond. Would I feel rejected if someone didn’t take me on? I’d like to think I’m mature enough not to care that much. Heck, I might not even remember that I asked. On the other hand, there’s a more than niggling feeling that some may be right-wing nut cases. (I didn’t intend to name call, but there you have it. That’s the real me.) I’m also well aware that they may have similar concerns about me.

The real me often feels conflicted when an acquaintance (old or new) sends me a friend request. I’m happy to hear from all of them and to learn how they are and what they’re doing. At the same time I wonder how I’m supposed to deal with those I find disagreeable. Generally I can ignore the posts I consider crazy or mean-spirited or hateful or unkind. I think that’s probably the best approach. Occasionally, though, I have a gut-wrenching need to respond in some way.

About three weeks ago a “friend” from my childhood posted about the now infamous bulletproof blankets designed for school children.screen shot 2014-06-10 at 7.30.47 am
When I first saw the photo shown here I wanted to sit down and cry. Then I wanted to go find the person who promoted this product on his/her FB page and scream, “Have you lost your freaking mind?!?” And that’s why I didn’t write anything right away.

Even now, as I write, I feel a roiling in my stomach and an increase in blood pressure. I feel sad. I have an anguished mental vision of parents and teachers trying to explain to children why they need these $1000 “blankets.” I don’t feel anger so much toward my “friend” anymore but I still have livid, blood-boiling anger for the companies who are trying to make money off parents’ and children’s fears. They’re putting a very expensive band-aid on a bleeding, gaping wound instead of putting aside politics in order to find a permanent solution to this horrible scourge.

This is not, should not, be a political issue. This is a uniquely American problem that MUST be fixed. When will we ever learn?

There you have it. I’m spent. Exhausted. Please tell me what you think whether you agree with me or not.

 

 

A bump in the road.

Finding myself in the middle of a 20-degrees-cooler-than-average day in Charlotte in June is like coming upon an oasis in the desert and realizing it’s not a mirage.photo-32 I’m enjoying a slow, steady rain and plenty of time to read or play or eat frozen yogurt or almost anything I  choose on a pleasant day like this.

This is the kind of day when I would enjoy a walk in the rain. Notice I said  that I can do almost anything I want. Unfortunately, my outdoor activity is somewhat restricted by my fairly new ortho boot. I wouldn’t want to get it wet. (Imagine a wry smile here.)

Early last week–in the middle of the night–I fell and re-injured my already compromised and seriously bum ankle. Have you ever walked to the foot of the stairs, thought you had reached the bottom, and then realized, “Uh-oh, I wasn’t at the bottom yet.” I don’t recommend it. I’m sorry to admit that I’ve done it more than once. This time was the worst. though.

As it turns out, I sprained my ankle and apparently gave a bit of a twist to the knee. I also fractured a navicular bone in my upper foot.photo-33 It’s a small bone and not too serious. My knee came through it with no damage. The boot is for the ankle and it holds aforementioned bone in the proper place while it heals.

I’ve learned that I can do most indoor chores and activities if I wear the boot. I’m allowed to sleep without it.

So here I sit–healing–in mind, body, and spirit. And that’s why I’m so happy about the weather, even more glad than usual. I can sit on my front porch and read while I listen to the rain. I can elevate my foot on the railing and think positive, feel-good thoughts for myself and for “all God’s creatures.” Hope the snakes stay away.

As my doctor said, “This is just a bump in the road.”

 

Zentangles and taxes.

I love shopping for books.photo-30  All kinds of books, but particularly those that promise to teach me something new in x number of simple steps. Those books jump off the shelves and into my hands as if they can see sucker written on my forehead.

The latest such book in my collection is all about zentangles. What’s a zentangle? I’m not sure I can explain it. All I can say for sure is that the word zen always appeals to me when I hear it or see it in print. I think I spend a lot of time lethargically seeking zen. The truth is that tangles better describes the way I live my life. So what can possibly go wrong if I put the two together? Hmmm.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a tangle as a messy mass of things. That’s the definition I had in mind when I bought this latest how-to book. I’ve learned, however, that when speaking of zentangles, a tangle is a mass of things, but they’re actually quite neat; not messy at all. Hopefully, mine will be less messy after I’ve practiced more. The zentangle above is the second one I drew. The first was not worthy of publication. I’m not sure this one is either but it’s ever so much better than my first. I call it “The Accidental Booby.” I imagine you can see how it got that name. And yes, it really was an accident.

You may be wondering how zentangles and taxes managed to appear together in the title of this post. What could they possibly have in common? The answer is: probably nothing, except in my little corner of the world.

If you live in the US your tax day is April 15. Every year, hopefully a few weeks before the deadline, I start to fill out the questionnaire my CPA sends me and to be sure I have receipts, etc., to back up my answers.  I file all such papers in my tax folder throughout the year so I have everything in hand when the dreaded tax issue starts to loom like some Biblical scourge.

Let me tell you some things you may not know about me so you will better understand my dread. I intensely dislike dealing with numbers and/or money. I am much more comfortable with words and music and rainbows of color. Numbers make my eyes glaze over and my brain goes for a hike in the Andes if I have to deal with anything remotely mathematical for more than five minutes.

Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s late March. Time to get serious about filing my state and federal taxes. I’ve only recently started learning how to make a zentangle a day. (Actually, I haven’t yet finished one in a day.) I spread out all my tax information on the table and work on it as long as I can stick with it (about 30 minutes). I stand up, stretch, and go looking for zen. And you get the picture.

I’m happy to report that I had a very successful day. I finished the zentangle I had started. I organized receipts, did the necessary math for the tax preparer, and delivered my neat little package to his office so he could fill in all the blanks and get back to me in a few days with the bad news–how much I owe. Every year I puzzle over why I have to pay him when I’m the one who does most of the work. The answer, of course, is that I know his finished product will have all its i’s dotted and t’s crossed and I won’t have to worry about getting in trouble with Uncle Sam.

Someone should write a book about this. The title could be “Zen(tangles) and the Art of Tax Preparation.” The book pictured below is the source of my fledgling zentangle pursuits.photo-31

 

 

 

 

 

Updates, discoveries and funnies.

I used the weather as an excuse to skip my walk this morning.  It rained all night–hard.photo-18 I know this because I woke up several times. That’s another excuse for not walking. Too little sleep.

I dreamed between spurts of wakefulness. I can recall this morning what I think was a brief encounter with my ex. Simpler times.  We were together, doing mundane tasks, together. Talking. Smiling. There was no anger, no angst. I would like to think my level of acceptance has risen to higher ground. I’m at peace.

I must say, though, that I am not quite so peaceful about my eye. Excited but not quite settled. I still wear a guard over my eye at night. That’s probably one reason for the wakefulness.  I’m still putting drops in my eye three times a day.  That’s down from four times.  And it’s one medication instead of the three this time last week.

The most important aspect of this scenario–my vision–is a work in progress.  The cataract surgery has achieved the desired goal. Increased clarity of color became evident after a few days.  It’s a miracle!

The cornea transplant benefits are more gradual. I have a very skilled doctor, and the surgery went well. He tells me that I will notice maximum visual benefits at about two months, or possibly three. I smile as I write this because I’m imagining how I would have been climbing the walls if I’d had this surgery in my middle age. I have much more patience now. I see differences almost daily and am confident I will reach the desired peak in a timely fashion. And in the end the result should be a major improvement.

I’m happy that I’ve been able to take care of myself the entire time except for needing a driver the first few days. I have discovered anew how generous and kind family and friends are. They have brought me food and sent cards.  Some have texted or emailed.  Some have called. Four different people took me for  birthday lunches, to all my favorite places. I am a lucky woman.

Moving along to the funnies part of this post. I love jamiedouglasillustration.com.  Many months ago I was searching the net for a bluebird of happiness. I came upon the illustration below.  It’s aptly named The Disillusioned Bluebird of Happiness. At the time, I contacted Jamie and asked if I could include it in one of my posts. He said I could as long as I gave him credit. In the meantime I lost my train of thought as to the bluebird and went on to other posts. But I saved this picture and I look at it from time to time because  it always makes me giggle. Thank you, Jamie, for entertaining me. Your illustrations remind me to hone my sense of humor and not to take life too seriously.  Other readers, check out Jamie’s blog.  You’ll be glad you did.Disillusioned-Bluebird-of-Happiness-38

One last thing to my favorite bloggers.  For some reason many of your email blog reminders have been sent to my Spam folder.  I don’t know why but am correcting those errors. Apparently it’s been going on for a while–maybe since I got my new computer. Aaaaargh!!

The eyes have it.

I love the eyes of babies and small children.blue_eyes_cute_baby-wide  They’re bright and clear and focused.  Their blues are bluer and their browns are browner than an older person’s.

I’m having surgery on one of my fading blue eyes this Friday.  I considered putting a photo of my eye(s) in this post but I kept remembering some of the adjectives writers use to describe eyes of the ancients and decided it wasn’t a good idea.  Bleary, filmy, cloudy, searching, cobwebby, murky are a few that come to mind.  I regret to report that any one of those words, or all of them, could be used to describe my eyes these days.

I was 53 when the ophthalmologist diagnosed my Fuchs corneal dystrophy.  He told me at the time that I would eventually need surgery to restore/improve vision.  Recently, my eye care specialist and I decided it was time.

For about a century the gold standard treatment for this condition has been corneal transplant.  In recent years doctors have learned to do a modified version of the transplant (DSEK).  A complete corneal transplant requires about a year for full recovery.  DSEK requires only 6 to 8 weeks.  My timing is good.  A two month recovery sounds way better than twelve.

I am fortunate to have family and friends to help out the first few days of my adventure.  My sweet daughter will take me to the surgical hospital and stay with me the first day.  (This is an outpatient procedure.)  She’s going to hang out with me while I lie flat on my back for the first 24 hours.  I have a friend/neighbor who insists she’s bringing food. There are other friends who have sworn to spring me and take me to lunch when I feel up to it but still can’t drive.  I might learn to like being pampered.  It’s been a long time.

Bring on the eye shield.  I’ll pretend to be a pirate.  Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.