Category Archives: musings

July is here already!

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It’s the Fourth of July! Celebrations are going on in the U.S. but
where I live (in a tropical paradise), nothing seems to be going
on in quite the same scale as the celebrations of years past.

I feel a bit odd that one entire month (June) went by and I didn’t
post a single entry. It is not that I don’t write every single day,
because I do, it just hasn’t been the kind of writing that I feel
comfortable sharing. Not sure what that’s about.

My husband was away for almost the entire month of June. He
returned quite exhausted and seems to have caught a bug, maybe
on the airplane? I feel bad for him but in a way, perhaps it is best
to let him rest while I catch up on some of the writing that I have
put on the side so I could devote myself to doing the chores that
keep our household running and that he is usually responsible for.
A few more days won’t make any difference, the poor guy has a lot
of things on his mind.

So July! I have continued to have slow progress with my Weight
Watchers plan and I am confident that by the end of this year, I
will have lost most of the weight I have set myself a goal for. It
would be wonderful to begin 2019 (which feels like it is just around
the corner!) in some new clothes…

I have done some serious decluttering in June. I actually got rid of
a good amount of clothing and knickknacks that were not bringing
me any joy. It is amazing how light one feels after disposing of items
that no longer fit one’s life. I finally accepted that I was keeping things
for the wrong reasons. For example, a friend of mine gave my daughter
and me earrings that were crafted by her then-boyfriend, a man I know
and whose behavior has impressed me, but not in a good way. I never
wore the earrings because they were too long for my short neck and my
daughter never wore hers because they were not in a style she liked. But
I felt I needed to keep them because my friend might be hurt if I found
another home for them.

A few months after the earrings were given to us, my friend’s relationship
ended. The artist boyfriend began a new relationship and a year later, that
one also ended. Every morning, I saw the earrings. I moved them from one
side of the dresser to another.  I began to question why I still had them.
One serendipitous night as I was watching Youtube, I ended up catching a
video on Marie Kondo, the decluttering consultant…she has a very unique
way of approaching decluttering. You have to gather all the items you own
wherever you are working. You hold each item in your hand until they either
spark “joy” or not. If they still give you joy, that is your permission to keep
them; otherwise, it is best to find a new home for them.

I held each pair in my hands. Waited for the “joy” that never came. I made
two beautiful packages for these lovely items and then placed them with
other “treasures” I was giving away to the local Animal Shelter for their
fundraising campaign. It felt so good to send the earrings to a place that
I know will find someone they can bring joy to.

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Suicide Awareness…

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                       Communication is king

Avicii’s apparent suicide has left me profoundly sad. I remember that the first time I
heard the song “Wake Me Up”, I had a bit of trouble reconciling the upbeat music with
the sad and haunting lyrics.

I am more than twice his age. My thoughts about suicide have always been very clear.
Just don’t do it. But I have never been in a place so low that it would be a solution that
would occur to me. I have always been grateful for the faith in that “something out there”
that provides the strength I have had in the face of many obstacles and disappointments
that just being alive will bring.

May he rest in peace, finally in a place where nothing is painful. I cannot even begin to
imagine what it must be like for his family to know that this exceptional human being is
no longer available to chat with, to laugh with, to just hug and let him know that they
would help him find peace.

It is sad to know that so many of our talented people are simply not prepared for the fame
and fortune we foist on them with our superficial love. When I was a young girl, I longed
to be like the Supremes, singing my heart out to entertain people but also to feel that I
was somehow appreciated and that I “counted”. My parents never encouraged that side of
me, suggesting that I study for a career that would provide basic funds and then maybe a
little extra for affordable luxuries but certainly not the “Hollywood” glamour that I thought
I craved. My life has unfolded in such a way that I do enjoy a bit of popularity and fame in
my small town and I can attest to the fact that sometimes it is not pleasant to be out with my
husband or family for a nice quite family dinner and have several people interrupt our meal
because they would like to have a word. It’s exhausting. And I am not (1) that famous,
(2) that young or (3) that sensitive.

 

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Cauliflower pizza, anyone?

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A lovely head!

I did a terrible thing today: in anticipation of tomorrow being garbage
day, I decided to clean out my refrigerator! No, that’s not the terrible
thing I did! The terrible thing I did was to throw out almost an entire
week’s worth of vegetables that my husband and I purchased at the
farmers market just last week.

I don’t know what comes over the two of us when we visit the place. It’s
like all those colorful vegetables are shouting to us that they want to come
home…and that they will be cooked…only to end up in the compost bucket
time after time.

In the last few months, since I’ve been watching what I eat, I have become
a bit more interested in trying out new recipes. Don’t get me wrong, I used
to love cooking, especially when my children were young and I was a full-
time (and happy) stay-at-home, home-school Mom. But then the kids grew
up and moved away and now it’s hubby and me and we spend a lot of time at
home (semi-retired) and I have embraced this “new life”.

My husband enjoys cooking and so for the last few years, he’s been more or
less responsible for the meals we have for dinner. Of course, he also enjoys
eating and snacking and has a penchant for things like pepperoni, potato chips,
chocolate…thus, we have both gained a fair amount of weight in those same few
years.  I know no one was forcing me to have the extra calories; I am human too
and although I don’t indulge in pepperoni or chips (no sacrifice really, it’s not my
thing!), almonds, chocolate and cake are definitely on my list of favorites.

Since I joined Weight Watchers in December, though, I have definitely been off
most of those goodies. Not that WW “forbids” anything, I just feel that if I am
dieting, it should feel a like a diet. I am one of those people who feels a need to
have “rules” that I will feel disappointed about breaking. I know, I know, but
there you have it.

Last week when we were at the farmers market, there was an enormous cauli-
flower for sale. It was sold by unit and my husband found a much smaller one
that he preferred but he deferred to me since I had visions of making a pizza
with a cauliflower crust. I don’t know what possessed me to think I was going
to actually tackle that project; to begin with, it involved getting out and dusting
the food processor and making cauliflower rice! It never happened and today
when I found myself tossing the entire head, I was overcome with pangs of guilt.
If we had purchased the smaller head, it would have been a nice side dish for one
of our few dinners at home this week. I told my husband that from now on he
must not humor me when I lose my head momentarily like that!

 

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Change the mattress…

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My daughter has had trouble sleeping for a long time. I used to think it
was because of college and all the stress that goes with it. Recently, she
requested a new bed frame, at a total cost of $49. I thought the request was
very reasonable and then I began to think about the condition of the bed that
she was sleeping in, remembering that the mattress and its box spring are the
same ones I slept in more than 30 years ago.

Why don’t you buy a new mattress? I asked. Do you know how expensive they are,
she balked! I replied that I was planning on paying for it, I know it is a
major expense that a recent college graduate like herself could not afford right
now and I felt terribly guilty that the idea had not occurred to me sooner.
Well, I won’t bore readers with the steps that took place between my approval and
her actually getting the new mattress and box spring all set up, suffice it to say
that it took a lot of back and forth since we are living in different countries and
time zones.

She set everything up over the weekend. This morning I asked her if she had slept
well and she replied with a resounding and energetic YES! The best ever, momma,
thanks!

I am happy this situation had a happy ending but can’t forgive myself just yet for
my lack of awareness. Poor kid!

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Puzzling musings

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Whenever I have some “down” time I feel guilty, like I have to fill the minutes with
some important chore. Even as a child, I felt compelled to always be doing something
productive. I remember once (I was a pre-teen) my parents had a party and they had
about 40 guests. When the party was over, it was late. My mother took one look at
the kitchen, with its dozens of dirty plates and glasses, sighed and said she would
clean up in the morning. I don’t know if I imagined it or if it was true, but when the
morning arrived, Mom was pretty upset by being confronted by the mess! We did
not have a dishwasher yet and although she never said it, I suppose part of the reason
she was cranky was that she might have been suffering from a hangover!

My parents enjoyed entertaining so that parties and social gatherings at our house
were common. Mom’s reaction after guests left was always the same: she would take
care of the mess in the morning. I don’t remember when I actually began to clean up
the kitchen so that when she woke up the next morning, all was in order. I do remember,
however, that my life was always that much more pleasant as I didn’t have to deal with
her “whine” which was worse than any yelling she did. I’m not sure where my Dad was
in all this, though I do recall that before the parties, he would be the one vacuuming the
rugs!

In those early teenage years, I established a personal habit that requires my kitchen
sink to be clear of dishes and the kitchen itself to be clean. Since my parents both worked
outside the home, we had our “chores” to make sure the home was functional. I don’t know
when it became my self-appointed responsibility but as long as I lived at home, no one had
to deal with dirty dishes or greasy counters or tables full of crumbs. I remember my older
sister referring to me as “Cinderella” more than once in her inimitable sarcastic manner.
My parents purchased our first dishwasher during the days that I found myself recovering
in the hospital after an operation. I have never believed in coincidences!

As I write these musings down, I am filled with frustration and confusion. When and why
did I decide to take over management of the house? Was the fact that I was such an affable
take-charge individual the reason for my elder sibling’s jealousy? I learned early on that my
sister was not on my side, so I did everything I could to keep her from physically harming
me. I would do my chores and hers. I would give up my “leisure” time in order to get her
out of the many scrapes she got into. I would save my allowance to have it taken away from
me by her because she spent hers quickly. I would not refuse my mother’s requests that my
older sister go with me places because my mom convinced me that I was the lucky one who
made friends easily and had to be the “good” sister. It took getting to age 60 before I accepted
that my sister and I have no real bond. It was a sad realization, one that I still have trouble
coming to terms with, after all, aren’t sisters supposed to be friends and have each other’s
best interest at heart?

Going off into these stream of consciousness reveries have become very cathartic. I feel I
can only heal by writing and more importantly by writing publicly. My sister and I have been
estranged on and off several times over the years. The estrangements have always been a
source of great peace and tranquility for me and have lasted as long as she has had no need of
something only I can provide. I feel in my heart that there won’t be a next time, that she can
now enlist the help of one of our two younger siblings and I don’t know why I didn’t think of
that years ago. It feels good to get it out and down on paper…and out into the ether to see
where it lands. I am sure I am not the only one in the universe who has a less-than-stellar
relationship with an older sister, but I can bet it didn’t take others as long as it did me to
finally give up and move on!

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St. Patrick’s Day

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My middle name is Patricia and my mom always celebrated
the day by calling me or sending me a card. When her Alzheimer’s
took over, that was the end of that but now that she is up in heaven
I feel she is probably looking down on me and wishing me a good day.

I just spoke with my Dad and remembered with him. I am nostalgic for Mom today and I can only imagine what it must be like for him to have been married to her for so many years (65) and now being alone. Of course, he has his health and lots of great memories but still

What I have learned in this life is that time really does fly; that family can be or might not be everything to one but that those we hold dear should know we love them. We never know when the day will come that we will not have the chance to do it for one reason or another.

Live, love, laugh and let those you care for do likewise.

 

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Unabashed places of gossip…

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I went to the hairdresser yesterday. My visits there are every 6 weeks to get rid of the gray
and sometimes also include a minuscule trim on my very thick and curly hair. The salon
is modest in size and decoration and not located on any trendy street in our small town.
It is wildly popular nonetheless. My time there is heightened by the socializing that is not
restricted to topics like the weather and activities in town.  The owner/hairdresser gets to
glean gossip from her many clients but to her credit, vicious character assassination is not
one of her objectives and the conversation is always pleasant.

Yesterday the talk turned to politics since we are heading to a second round of voting due
to the fact that neither of our presidential candidates received the required 40% that would
have made him our leader for the next four years. There are so many people undecided and
admittedly neither candidate has won over the entire population but if we are to continue to
enjoy our reputation as a democratic (3rd world) nation, it is imperative we turn out in high
numbers and make the best decision possible for our country.

I made my decision months ago. It wasn’t easy because my original choice was involved in a
scandal, my second choice did not impress me when the debates began, and my third choice
(and current choice) did not win. Matters were not helped by the fact that we had 13 (yes, 13!)
aspiring candidates. Just too many. Our systems needs to be revamped but that is not likely
to happen any time soon.

It has been interesting to read comments on FB from people (relatives and friends) who I
respect, admire and love. I say interesting although I might actually mean “shocking”…some
of the comments have brought to light how people really think despite what their words or
education or traditions have been. To say I am disappointed is to touch on things just lightly.
I have been mortified by the extent to which stupidity runs in my own family. I suppose it
happens to everyone: someone you used to admire says or does something so unwarranted
as to lose your respect going forward. It has happened to me many times over the years and
yet I continue to be so naive. At my age, it is no longer excusable.

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Behind the spyglass…

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Understanding the motivation behind a person’s behavior is something that has always
been of interest to me. Rather than just accepting that so and so did this and that and
is now facing the consequences of the action, I spend some time reflecting on what made
them do it. I used to ponder these things out loud but realized that many people in my
circle were impatient and really not interested so I have become a “closet” thinker. I
believe that in order for me to invent a character (protagonist) that is multidimensional,
I need to invest energy in finding out just exactly what makes him/her tick. It has not
been easy or perhaps I should just say I have not had the discipline or courage to let my
mind simply focus on a subject long enough to grasp their very essence and then turn it
into narratives that will work in a novel.

I live in a really small town. It is in a developing country where recent years have found
it attracting all sorts of people who come here to do tourism and go back home, or those
who find it so laid back and beautiful that they actually commit to living here despite all
the obstacles. Some people are wonderful, bringing with them the enthusiasm they feel
for nature and living in peace. They contribute their time, their ideas, their resources so
that the community can benefit. Other people come with the intention of establishing
communities that they would not be able to have in their country of origin.

In the recent past, I have encountered people whose communities can only be described
as “cultish”, and this is scary. The leaders look pretty “normal”; their message is anything
but. It boggles my mind to see how many reasonably intelligent people are taken in by
these reckless individuals whose motivation can only be financial gain or fame. In the past
I would have exposed them at once but that was not beneficial to me so after turning 60 a
couple of years ago, I turned to the pen as my collaborator in unmasking these creatures.

They make interesting subjects for my narratives and provide much entertainment to me,
and I am hoping to capture their essence to develop my villains. Life is often so much more
satisfactory from the point of view of the observer, sitting a distance away in a comfortable
recliner.

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A long day

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I am writing tonight just to keep the momentum going for writing in this blog every day.
My day was wonderful, filled with activities but I am now so exhausted that rather than
the glass of wine I was planning to have, I am going to make myself some tea, get ready
for bed and then get into bed and see how long I can read before I fall asleep. Tomorrow
will be a day of leisure mostly as I have nothing planned for the day. Sunday, I get to
attend and work at a fundraiser!

Goodnight!

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Stream of consciousness writing

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Wow, I just re-read yesterday’s post. I sound angry. It was an honest post though and although
I will be the first to agree that some sentences could have been better constructed, I’ve decided
to just leave it alone.

I am working with a lot of things right now. The first priority in my life is to make sure that my
Dad (two months a widower today) is okay and that all documentation allowing him to secure the
benefits he is entitled to after my Mom’s passing are taken care of. In this country of very slow
bureaucracy, there is not much to do after requesting a document than to sit and wait for it to
be ready. We are good at waiting; we know our part is done.

These last few weeks have found me in good health and in good spirits but every so often I do
feel that my days are lived in a bit of a haze. I feel like I know where I’m going and what I have
to do to get there but I am sometimes frozen in a thought…or worse, beginning a thought and
losing its thread in the middle and not being able to remember what the original thought was.
There is tremendous temptation in me sometimes to believe myself headed toward the forget-
fulness of the Alzheimer’s that diminished our lives when it gripped my mother. It was not all
negative though. The last 6 or 7 years have allowed me to get to know my father in a completely
new manner. I don’t really think I will or want to be another Alzheimer’s statistic. It was sad to
watch my brave and tenacious mom succumb to the illness. She is now resting in peace; I am
fortunate to have been able to spend so many years of good time with her.

My Weight Watchers journey continues positively. With my husband being away for a week or
so, I am able to eat some foods that he does not care for (tofu, brown rice, some exotic fruits,
some lovely Indian fare, etc.) and can keep a better handle on the “treats”. I will never blame
him (or anyone) for the extra 40 lbs. (it was 50 when I started!!) that I carry. No one forced me
to consume the extra food. The program works, any program works really, your mind has to be
in the game, however, for the success to be lasting. I think I shared that this time, I am pretending
to be getting ready for my television debut! It is a lovely fantasy. Last weekend, I spent a couple
of hours with my father going over some clothing of mine in a closet. I was shocked to see the tiny
clothing I fit into 20 years ago! I know I fit into the clothes because I have pictures of me in them!
I will never go back to a size 6…but I am still having trouble getting rid of clothing that I know is
not going to be loved as I once loved it.

All this decluttering has also sent me into the boxes and boxes of pictures and letters that have
accumulated in my drawers and shelves. I ran across a picture of me taken in 1967 just before
I turned 12. In the picture were my three siblings and our paternal grandmother. I examined
our faces closely. My oldest sister’s expression held a slight sneer as she turned to face the
photographer, who I suppose was our mother. My own expression is one of worry although it
could also have been caused by sun in my eyes. My younger siblings have neutral expressions.
The only one who looks like she was talking or about to smile was grandma. I think I will always
remember that about her: talking or smiling!

By the time the picture was taken, I had already decided that upon return to New York after that
summer’s vacation, I would devote all my energies to relearning Spanish. I find it hard to believe
(after all, I was only 11) that I had the discipline or pride to make that decision. A better one could
not have been made and I am glad I did it. Being fully bilingual has served me well.

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