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!!


“In My Dreams”

I’m cold.  So cold I’m shivering and shaking.  I hear something running.  A furnace?  A faucet?  A waterfall?  Slowly consciousness starts to make an appearance.  I realize it’s raining — hard.  And I really am cold.  Of course I have to go pee after listening to all that water.

So I got up.  Went to the bathroom.  Looked at the clock.  5:00 a.m.  Too early to stay up.  I put on a long-sleeved shirt and curled up again in my too-big king-sized bed and let the sound of the rain lull me back to dreamland.

I’m at my former in-laws’ home.  It isn’t a place I’ve seen before.  It’s a different house.  My father-in-law is there.  He sits back and observes more than he participates, his crooked little smile on his face.  My mother-in-law plays the part of the queen bee, as always.  She’s an attentive hostess as she sees to her guests and keeps the party flowing.  She’s always done that so very well.  They seem happy, my in-laws, and contented.  Mother-in-Law brings out some photos she’s found while cleaning.  She wants to share them with me because my children are in them.  We enjoy sharing times past.  Happy times.

I stirred.  Then sat up.  I looked at the clock.  It was almost 8:00.  Late.  My first instinct, first thought, was to call my ex.  No, I realized, that wouldn’t do.  Maybe an e-mail.  No, maybe not.

I wanted to let him know that his dad is okay.  You see, his dad died not long after we separated.  I wanted so much to comfort him back then, but was not allowed to do so.  He wouldn’t allow it.  I’m still not allowed.

Isn’t it interesting/strange how our dreams try to help us finish what our real lives can’t accommodate?  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it serves only to recall and exacerbate the pain.

“In My Dreams” by Emmylou Harris.

My Obama dream.

Last night I dreamed about President Obama.  With nothing but politics on television and in the newspapers, it isn’t strange that I would be dreaming about a candidate.  I’m glad it was Obama and not his opponent Mitt Romney.  I woke up feeling relaxed and hopeful.  Had I dreamed of Romney, I’m pretty sure I would have felt agitated and tired.

The dream.  Obama is mingling with the crowd and probably driving the Secret Service crazy.  It’s a fund-raising event.  These are people who can afford to donate twenty dollars to the cause, not twenty million.  I notice the President is looking from side to side as if he’s searching for something or someone.  His eyes come to rest on me.  (Isn’t this a cool dream?)  Then he says to me, “You!  Aren’t you the one who gave me that piece of fabric?”  I nod.  He continues, “I wasn’t impressed when you gave it to me, but look at it now!  Isn’t it magnificent?”

He points to a nearby wall.  On the wall hangs a tapestry.  It’s the most beautiful, colorful tapestry I have ever seen or even imagined.  There are numerous pieces of fabric, artfully joined together in glorious profusion as if they were born that way.  Every piece, every color is perfectly placed.  A wonder to behold!

President O puts a hand on my shoulder (I told you this is an awesome dream.), and somewhat wistfully states, “What great things we could accomplish if we would all come together like the pieces of this tapestry.”

Credit:  “Tapestry” donated by my granddaughter Maddy.

Birthday fun on April twenty-one.

April 21st is a special day in our family.  My eldest daughter whose birthday is that day gave birth to her son some 27 years later on the same day.  Double the reasons for a family party and this year was no exception.  We started with “Ronnie’s Chocolate Sheet Cake” which is our family’s favorite special occasion cake.  (One day I’ll tell you about Ronnie.)

As the younger generation grows up  these parties start to have more significance than ever before.  Two of our family had to drive some distance to be here for the festivities.  We very much appreciate their effort.

It’s fun to watch the gift-opening and to read the funny cards.  Often in our family we say “I love you” by finding the funniest card in the store and trying to make the celebrant laugh.  Does your family do that?

My birthday grandson gave these lovely cut flowers to his birthday mom because he knew they would make her smile.  They fit right in with the quirky colors on the cake and we didn’t even compare notes.  ( You probably noticed in the top photo that I’m not a decorator of cakes, just a baker.  To make it look festive I find candles and ribbons to fake it for me.)

Here you see the honored birthday folk with smiles on their faces right after blowing out the candles.  (They are deliberately in shadow because I failed to get permission to publish them.)  May all their wishes come true.

Meanwhile I’ll pack up the 9 x 13 cake pan and look forward to June when we will have another cake that will look eerily similar to the one pictured here.  But more important than the sameness of the cake will be the sameness of the faces and the laughter and the silliness and the dogs and the children–our family!  How lucky we are.

Lazy? Procrastinator? Lazy procrastinator?

I’m lazy.  But it’s the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle because they didn’t like walking or carrying things. ~ Lech Walesa

This bike is a Schwinn Cruiser.  It’s available at Target.  When I recover from my trip to Peru, I think I would like one just like it.

I find it a bit puzzling that the quote above came from Lech Walesa.  He’s a Polish activist.  Since when was he ever lazy?  I wish his “lazy quote” made me feel better about myself but it doesn’t.  He may have had lazy moments but I would never think of applying the adjective to Mr. Walesa based on what I know about him.  His lifetime achievements are many.  I remember that he was constantly in world news in the 70s and 80s.  He was an electrician who became the first President of Poland.  Doesn’t sound very lazy, does he? (Learn more about him here.)

So…am I lazy?  I am, without a doubt, lazy about certain things.  Housekeeping is the bugaboo that constantly reminds me I’m a bit on the indolent side.  I get out the vacuum cleaner as seldom as possible.  I’m allergic to dust (really!) so I don’t like to stir it up.  My blinds haven’t been cleaned since the insurance company sent in a cleaning service after my floors had to be refinished.  That was about three years ago.

I would like to state here that I’m not a total slob.  I clean my kitchen sink and counter tops every morning.  I never told you I was unsanitary.  I also clean and sanitize the toilets and bathroom sinks on a regular basis.  I have some standards.  I even change my sheets from time to time.  Sheet changing makes me chuckle because it reminds me of a friend who, like me, is divorced and living alone.  She said one time that she sleeps on one side of her bed one week and the other side the next week.  That way she gets two weeks between linen changes.  Another friend and I snickered about that because we tend to get two weeks out of ours without switching sides.  Besides, I’m too much of a creature of habit to sleep on that other side.  I wouldn’t be able to read my Nook with the lamp on the wrong side.

At my age I don’t focus on my faults in order to denigrate myself.  Quite the opposite.  I simply like to be realistic about who I am.  And if I had enough money I would be totally comfortable with my inability to make myself do certain housecleaning chores.  I would hire a housekeeper once or twice a month to do the things I hate doing and get on with it.  But alas I cannot.  I have made a list of small goals to accomplish before I head out for my grand adventure and yes, the list includes the dusting and vacuuming.  I intend to come home to a clean house.

I acknowledge that the procrastinator in me is going to keep moving the undesirable jobs to the bottom of the list and I can rationalize why I should do that.  If I dust and vacuum too soon, everything will need more cleaning before I leave.  I can’t have that!  I have things to do, places to go, and people to see.  Important things, places, and people–to me anyway.  Last week, for example, I required most of the week to sew a beautiful, shiny, silky pink dress for my youngest granddaughter.  Then I had to go to her house and see how she liked her new frock.  She loved it.  She even found that she could get it on over her pajamas.  You see I have lots of important do, go, see items on my agenda.

And so back to my original question:  Am I lazy?  (Definition: disinclined to work)  Am I a procrastinator?  (Definition:  one who defers action)  Am I a lazy procrastinator?

What do you think?

All the wrong reasons.


All the Wrong Reasons                                                                                                       ~ Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne

Trouble blew in on a cold dark wind
It came without no warning
And that big ol’ house went up for sale
They were on the road by morning
Oh, the days went slow, into the changing season
Oh, out in the cold, for all the wrong reasons

Well she grew up hard and she grew up fast
In the age of television
And she made a vow to have it all
It became her new religion
Oh, down in her soul, it was an act of treason
Oh, down they go for all the wrong reasons

Where the sky begins the horizon ends
Despite the best intentions
And a big ol’ man goes up for sale
He becomes his own invention
Oh, the days go slow into the changing season
Oh, bought and sold, for all the wrong reasons
Oh, down they go for all the wrong reasons

This song has taken up residence in my brain.  Not just the tune, but the words as well.  Some singer/songwriter poems stand alone.  Bob Dylan’s and Leonard Cohen’s work, for example.  Those guys are true poets in my opinion.  This one by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne needs to be sung.  With the music, the Oh becomes Oh, oh, oh, oh.  But even when I quadruple the word, reading it doesn’t strike the same chord (no pun intended) as when TP sings it.  I want to share it with you to find out if others feel the same way.  Click here to listen.

I’ve tried for days to figure out what I’m supposed to learn here, if anything.  It has caused me to reflect in a way that I wouldn’t have, had my daughter not given me the CD for Christmas.  I wonder how much of what we do when we’re young do we do with intention and logic and an eye to the greater good.  It’s not that I think I had sinister motives ever; it’s just that I wasn’t mature/experienced enough to understand the far-reaching consequences of my decisions.  I think the same is true of most people; and in particular, I give that bit of grace to D, my ex-husband.

Some things I’ve learned…

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s  not.  ~ Dr. Seuss

I like to have a project in the works.  Now that I’m working on this banner for the Spanish community church service, I awaken in the morning eager (after I’ve had my coffee) to assess the previous day’s work and to determine what part of it I’ll do today.  It’s a joy to watch it unfold.  It gives me a goal, albeit short-term, and it engages my artistic bent which is a more dominant force now than it was in the past.  Well, I guess the bent was always there but I have more time to devote to it than when I was working and taking care of my children.

I’ve been thinking lately about the wisdom of Dr. Seuss.  I believe that he taught us so much more than reading.  The Seuss quote above comes from his book The Lorax, 1971.  It’s a powerful environmental message.  If we had learned it back in ’71 when he wrote it our planet would be in better shape than it is today.  I don’t know whether it’s on any academic required-reading lists, but it’s certainly on mine.  When I was married to D, I had my very own Lorax (environmental conscience).  I’m happy to say he’s better looking than the one you see pictured here on the book cover.  🙂  D was a recycler long before it was the thing to do.  He cared “a whole awful lot” and tried to make it better.  I thank him for that.  He raised my consciousness several levels by being that way.  I don’t think he saved any of these beautiful “Truffala Trees” but I’m pretty sure he saved some other kinds.

Two days ago another blogger, lifeandothermisadventures, commented on my post about forgiveness.  She mentioned a book that she said was helpful to her.  The book was When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron.  The same day I went down to my local book shop and found that book and several others by Ms Chodron.  I sat down to examine them and determined that I needed the one called Taking the Leap:  Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears.  My thinking was that 1) things fell apart quite a long while ago and 2) I still have habits and fears that I don’t want to foster any longer.  In the book that I chose there is a chapter entitled “Getting Unstuck.”   This title jumped off the page, I think, because my daughter and I had recently been discussing the fact that sometimes we get stuck in our “recovery” and we can’t seem to continue the progress we have achieved up to that point.  Old habits feel too comfortable and we are afraid to take that next step.  I’m always amazed when the stars seem to align and send me a powerful message.  The last star in this alignment was a statement in my morning uplifting message which I read in Spanish.  (I read in Spanish to try to keep my language skills up to snuff.)   I read that “too often we sit back and wait for others to change instead of taking stock and figuring out how we need to change.”  Of course I knew this already but how easily I slide back into my old habits and let my old fears consume me.

In summary, the things I’ve learned are:  I am much happier when I have a project.  I care a whole awful lot about the environment and about how I treat other people.  I can’t change others; I can only change myself and how I react to them.  I could probably use more structure in my daily routine.  And last, I’m going to Peru in May, 2012!  Woo hoo!

Happy birthday, Tom Petty and little S.

Most things I worry about never happen anyway. ~ Tom Petty

I stumbled upon the fact that today is Tom Petty’s birthday.  It also happens to be little S’s birthday.  She’s five.  I think Tom’s about sixty-one.  It seems a little strange, even to me, to put the two of them together in the  same post.  I started to wonder whether there’s anything on earth they could have in common other than their birthday.

They’re both blond.  I think they both have a certain disregard for other people’s opinions.  I base that on this photo of little S and on the lyrics of some of Tom’s songs.  They both seem pretty obstinate once they’ve made up their minds about something. “I Won’t Back Down”  The most important thing, though, is the way they both entertain me.  Some days I listen all day to Tom Petty CDs and never grow tired of his music.  Other days I spend all day with S and her dollies and her wonderful five-year-old wit and I never ever get tired of her.  Two totally different types of entertainment, both of them wonderful.  But if I had to choose–I don’t even need to say it; grandchildren always win, hands down.

So…even though today is her real birthday, we will celebrate the occasion on Sunday with a party of family and friends.  She will come to my house on Saturday so we can bake and decorate her birthday cake.  It will probably be the best and prettiest cake ever.  🙂  And the family parties are getting easier.  Well, for me they are.  I think I’m finally reaching that stage where I’m pretty indifferent neutral toward the OW.   I’m striving for harmony these days, in all situations, so why would this one be different from any other?  I have no hate or anger for anyone.  Takes too much energy.  Energy that’s better used for other things like loving on grandchildren.  And art projects.  And friends.  And daughters.

Things have started to pop in “medical-land.”  I have an appointment on Tuesday.  I’ll be glad to get that one under my belt, so to speak.  Life is good.

Here’s another Tom Petty song if you care to listen.  “Learning to Fly”   This is really beautiful.  I dedicate this to you, Caroline!

Advice to my younger self.

To love and win is the best thing.  To love and lose, the next best. ~ William M. Thackeray

Dear Pat,

So you’re planning to get married.  This is a big decision and I know you’ve given it much thought.  Your children and how this second marriage will affect them is uppermost in your mind.  You have a new teaching job, and you and the girls could eke out a living without D in your lives.  You hope they will all get along but you don’t know that for sure.  D is very easy-going and seems to want to get along with them.  But how are the older daughters going to feel about a step-father who is significantly younger than their mom?  Not so great, probably.  You’ve recently learned that D isn’t exactly the person you thought he was.   But it’s nothing big, a small deception that doesn’t change how you feel about him.

What is my advice to you?  Since hindsight is supposedly twenty-twenty, I also know your heart.  The love and caring and passion that you feel for D is like nothing you’ve ever felt before.  I know that he got on his knee and put a diamond on your finger and asked you to marry him because he loved you, too, and he was willing to take on the challenge of a ready-made family.  I also know that this marriage will not last forever as you hope it will.  But listen up, young Pat, life doesn’t come with guarantees and the deep love that you feel for D may come along only once in a lifetime.  For some, it never comes.  My advice to you–go for it!  You’ll have many opportunities to play it safe in the years to come, this is not one of those times.

I feel sad about the pain you and D and the girls (and yes, the grandchildren) will endure when the marriage falls apart.  I know now, though, that you will all get through it and be stronger on the other side.  As the years pass the sad times will start to fade and you will be able to cherish the memories of some fabulous vacations, camping across the US, wonderful parties, a beautiful wedding on the lake, D and S stealing crispy garlic fries from each other (that one always makes me laugh), D’s “How y’all doin’ ” when you went to Maine–so many good times that you will always have.  Remember, no one can take those away.

Oh, and one more thing–I hope the photo above doesn’t offend you.  I couldn’t resist it because it is a perfect depiction of how you felt about your groom at the time of the wedding and for a long time thereafter.

Don’t forget:  Life is good.

Love, Pat

The beautiful Blue Ridge.

No one saves us but ourselves.  No one can and no one may.  We ourselves must walk the path. ~ Buddha

I grew up walking the paths of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Little did I know how special that opportunity was.  Imagine growing up in this setting and not really recognizing that it’s gloriously beautiful.  I remember the hordes of tourists who invaded the mountains in the summer and fall.  I understood that it was cooler in the mountains so the summertime visitors made sense to me.  What I didn’t get for the longest time was that they came in October to look at the LEAVES.  Seriously?  Didn’t they have leaves where they lived?

In the NC mountains we have four very distinct seasons and each one is stunning in its own way.  I never really appreciated that fact until I left their comfortable rounded shoulders and moved away.  Do we ever?

When D and I met, we had the mountains in common.  I grew up in Boone, named for Daniel Boone.  D had spent most of his growing-up summers not far from Asheville.  His family camped there and then he started to work his summer vacations in the campground.  He loved the mountains almost as much as I did.  Early in our marriage, or maybe even before we married, I used to ask him if we could one day move to the mountains.  He promised we would and we did.  We spent a number of years riding up to those ancient hills on weekends looking at acreage sometimes and other times at houses.  We both knew immediately when we found what we thought was the right place, the perfect house.  And for a time we flourished there.  Well, I thought we did.  Now I’m not so sure.

It was a dream house for company and parties and grandchildren.  If life is like a box of chocolates, this house was the big fat truffle in the center of the top layer.  The county we were in had about nineteen peaks above 6,000 feet and we could see most of them from our deck.  Remember Cold Mountain, the book and movie?  We could see Cold Mountain from our house.  (Hope I’m not starting to sound like Sarah Palin. LOL)  Alas, things change, people change, grandchildren don’t get to visit as often as we had hoped they would.  D is spending more and more time away.  The house is large.  It seems we’re driving constantly to soccer and basketball and dance recitals and gymnastics meets and birthday parties and you get the picture.  So even before I was aware of the impending divorce, we had decided to sell the house and leave my beloved mountains.  Notice I said we.

You know the rest of the story.  Here I am and there he is and life goes on and mostly it’s good.