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Friday Thankful: Thursday Circus

Yesterday was an even crazier day than last Thursday, which I thought was quite crazy enough, thank you.

I had been trying to get my shaggy Covid hair cut all week, and when I tried online sign-in the wait was too long (because of an appointment with the roof guy), so I put it off again. The pool guy came early, so I was glad I missed the haircut, because the roofers (stay with me here) had damaged the vacuum connection when they dropped the tarp onto the pool. The pool guy ordered the part and I ran down to the pool store–so grateful it’s only a couple of minutes away even with the continuing road work blocking some of my route (are you still with me?). So when the roof guy came at 10 I was able to give him the $34 bill for the pool part, which he said they would, of course, cover. We did a walkaround for the remaining repairs.

Then granddaughter came to me with a very sick hairless rat (have I mentioned the pet rats? I don’t think so.) She was so bereft I called around to find a vet who treated rats, fortunately nearby. Made an appointment for 2:45, forgetting we had a 3 o’clock video appointment with husband’s neurologist. Then I realized we could do video anywhere, so he would just trundle along to the vet so we could catch the call in the parking lot if necessary.

Took granddaughter to her midday in-person elective. Came home for lunch and fed the dog. Picked her up and did a quick Walmart stop for a prescription and a few items. When we got home Eros (the rat) was much worse and he soon died in her hands. Called and canceled the vet appointment (saving $50; the rat had cost $25). Between then and the doc video call guess what we did? Dug a hole in the backyard and had a little rat funeral, Eros joining Milo and whatever the other guinea pig’s name was.

After the seemingly endless video call (Parkinsons makes everything move in slow motion), granddaughter and I went across town to the pet store, where she picked out two more rats to join the living Winnie (not hairless this time; I think the genetically modified hairless rats have poor immune systems. Eros was only about three months old). Phaeton and Silas* are now happily (and, I hope, healthily) in their little rat home in her room. Oh, and we got 100 superworms for the dragon (words I never in my life imagined writing).

Let’s play find the rat! I can find two of the three….

Picked up comfort food for her, came home, had a glass of wine and fixed tuna casserole (comfort food for us). Walked the dog. Watched the debate until I couldn’t watch any more. Read a little, “In Praise of Difficult Women” (I think I am a difficult woman).

Slept like an innocent child.

That, my friends, is where the gratitude comes in. After that insane day, even with trying to juggle two nearly simultaneous appointments, I never stressed out.

Must be the CBD oil. Whatever it is, I’m grateful. I got a haircut this morning.** And it’s raining. The rain barrels are nearly empty.

What are you grateful for today?

* I have no idea where she gets these names.

** No pics. A new haircut needs to settle in.

 

Bored? Me?

Since the pandemic set in, several publications have addressed the issue of boredom. I can understand that maybe if you’re stuck in a tiny New York City apartment with few options, yes, it could get boring.

I have not been bored for one minute since the lock-downs began. For one thing, we’re not really trapped inside: we have a big backyard with a nice pool, several nearby parks and trails, and opportunities for road trips to other outdoor activities. Errands such as grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions, masked, as early in the day as possible, also get me out of the house. We have Zoom church, video doctor appointments, so there is no lack of contact with the outside world.

The only times I have ever been bored in my adult life were if I ever got stuck in a situation without anything to read or to do. I keep a bag by the back door with reading and knitting in case I have to make an ER trip, having been stuck previously with a dead phone and nothing to do for four hours.

So, what’s keeping me occupied during the pandemic?

Let’s see, a household with a husband with Parkinsons, a 13-year-old granddaughter and a dog. The man and child are fairly self-sufficient, but there are doctor appointments, meds to manage and unpredictable interruptions*. The dog needs to be fed, walked, belly-rubbed and have tennis balls tossed. I do all the grocery shopping, most of the errands, most of the routine cleanup (we do have weekly pool service and a cleaning lady every two weeks), and most of the cooking. Lately the meals have been pretty simple–burgers, tacos, chicken, pasta, which is why I think the granddaughter has started cooking a tasty dinner one or two days a week. I take her to school for her theater elective at midday, come home for lunch and pick her up again; the rest of her schooling is on-line for now. I do monitor her schooling and intend to add some enrichment learning this week.

When the tasks and chores are done, this is how I use my “free” time:

  • Exercise. This time of year it’s swimming. In the cooler weather it’s walking and going to the gym (where I can swim in the winter), and I walk the dog unless it’s just too hot (with highs near 100F lately).
  • Puzzles and games: On the dining table is a seemingly impossible jigsaw puzzle that may outlast the pandemic. (We have completed three others.) Our local newspaper publishes a weekly puzzle book with mazes, jumbles and crossword puzzles.
  • Art: some painting, but mostly my favorite, postcards. I’ve been working on some computer-generated designs, using my own photography, as well as original art in collage, water color and other media. I’m almost ready for a fall postcard mail swap.

My latest postcard, “Fall is in the Air,” with Junior pasted into the autumnal image. (Collage, with stamp by Nat Uhing.)

  • Knitting and other needlework. I completed so much knitting over the summer I decided to try to finish a needlework project started about 10 years ago. It may take another 10 years but I’m making progress!

Lilacs bloomed around my birthday in Ohio. I miss them in Texas. This was originally going to cover a purse. See how dog-eared the instruction sheet is!

  • Most of all, my favorite default mode: reading. Daily periodicals (the local paper and the online New York Times); weekly (The New Yorker); and a delicious pile of books. I’ve even read some fiction, which is rare for me: a chick-lit piece about older women in Tuscany (almost like going to Italy); a novel about South Africa during apartheid and the Soweto rebellions; “Longitude,” about the search for how to determine longitude, thus saving ships and sailors; the Mary Trump book about her uncle (he’s even worse than I thought); and I continue to re-read “Waterlog,” which is maybe my favorite all-time book. I just started “The Soul of an Octopus,” which is a delight. I think science and nature and memoir are my favorite genres of reading. Prompted by last Sunday’s sermon, I printed out Eliot’s “Four Quartets,” about which whole dissertations could be (and probably have been) written. I’m also going to listen to Alec Guinness reading them (on YouTube).
  • Writing: I have a novel, or novella, or something, in my head that I need to get down. So far all I’ve written is the premise, but I have the opening chapter in my head and need to lay out an outline, then start a draft. I have never tackled a novel, but I’ve written several novels’ worth of words in my career so I’ll give it a try.
  • If all else fails, there’s always TV. We have full cable, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. It takes so long to scroll through the menus to decide what to watch that I often give up and read. Husband has been watching “Outlander” (which I would call “Outlandish”). We dip in and out of “The Good Place,” and enjoyed Ricky Gervais‘ “Extras” and “After Life.” (Gervais is an acquired taste, but love his humor.) Lots of movies. Most recent, “The Current War,” about Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nicola Tesla. Poor Tesla got lost in history.

Hope y’all are staying healthy and busy. This difficult and historic time will end. I tell my granddaughter that she is living history. When she’s old she can tell her grandchildren (if she’s lucky enough to have any) about the pandemic of ’20, as well as the other history that’s being made this year.

* At least three while writing this post.

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I love January. After the clutter and hubbub of the holidays, it feels clean-swept, a fresh start. I bought some yellow flowers for the kitchen windowsill because I was tired of red.

A little sunshine to brighten a dreary view.

 

Last year was full of challenges and trials, although we have come through it pretty well. After the Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2018, my husband had a period of orthostatic hypotension, with low blood pressure causing a series of falls during the summer, and at least one trip to the ER. (We have made so many trips to the ER in the past year I’ve lost count. More than in the whole rest of my life combined.) He changed neurologists, and we love the new doctor. She prescribed a medication that stabilized his BP and he has been fall-free for quite a while. In fact, the Parkinson’s symptoms are well-managed all around. Our October trip to New York for his nephew’s wedding was successful and he was so happy to spend that time with his family.

On the grandchild front, after the unsuccessful home-schooling experiment the previous fall, we had the incredible challenge of getting her back into public school, which, in our little town, meant an all sixth-grade school. She went back in January and finally got into a groove of regular attendance and full cooperation around Spring break, in March.

Despite the difficulties of the summer Oregon trip, she was thrilled to meet her online friend, and they are making plans to try to get together again next summer. She started seventh grade in the local middle school and is doing well. She likes her teachers and has made friends. Except for math–and we have a tutor–she’s making decent grades. At this moment her hair is half pink and half lime-green, but she’ll dye it back to a color found in nature before school starts again next week.

And how am I? The year was a struggle, but I’m in pretty good health in my 75th year. I take care of the family, including the dog, do a little volunteer work in the church and arts community. I enjoy my art projects and knit whenever my hands are free.

Recent hats for charity plus current WIPs (works in progress). Can you guess my color preferences?

Sure, there are things I wish were better–no Parkinson’s, for starters–but mostly life is pretty good. We have a nice home, good friends, and enough, while there are many people for whom that’s not the case.

This morning, while walking the dog, I realized that lately, when I get up and walk him, nothing hurts. No sinus headaches (which used to plague me), no joint or muscle pain. I just feel good! This is remarkable for a woman nearly 75 with an arthritic hip. I started taking CBD oil a year or so ago, and I credit that with this wonderful state of being. During the holidays, when my anxiety cranked up, I increased the CBD dose a little, and since then I’m pain-free for the first time I can remember.

I’ve made only two New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Continue to take good care of myself: a healthful diet; enough sleep; exercise; good medical care; daily meditation.
  2. Be kind to everyone, especially my loved ones, and especially more patient with my husband.

I leave you with a series of poems I wrote last year. You can see them with artwork on my other blog, jillybeanswiggins.wordpress.com.

Meditation 1
Be a hummingbird
zipping about
sipping sweetness

Meditation 2
Be a cloud
floating free
enjoying the view

Meditation 3
Be a dog
grass-rolling
scratching all the itches

Meditation 4
Be the breeze
singing wind chimes
dancing prayer flags

Meditation 5
Be a tree
deep-rooted
arms spread, another world
of life above

Meditation 6
Be a star
steadfast, silent light
from afar

Meditation 7
Be the Buddha
still, jolly
holding everything in his lap
for just this moment.

I wish  you all a wonderful 2020. I’m sorry my postings have been skimpy in the last year. There have been some very tough days!

 

Soul Feeding

My new therapist asked me, after we had covered the preliminaries: “What feeds your soul?”

After a moment’s thought, I came up with a few things. Since then, I realized I have a lot longer list than what I thought of on the spot with the therapist:

  • Walking the dog. When we put the leash on and step out the door, he sneezes and I feel my breathing slow and my tight muscles loosen. Junior is truly my therapy dog.

Junior eager to walk on the river trail.

Guadalupe River trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildflowers on our river walk.

  • Being in water. In cold weather, I do water aerobics with the “old” ladies at the gym. As soon as our pool got over 70°F I braced myself and now plunge in almost every day. The hot tub helps afterwards.

I’m not scowling, I’m squinting!

  • Meditation, the yard, listening to the birds.

Meditation garden views

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My meditation tree, a pecan tree that’s beautiful all year round.

Some of the meditation garden baubles.

 

 

  • Making art. See my art blog for the recent international postcard swap, which occupied most of my spare moments in May.

 

  • Knitting and other handwork (embroidery and other forms of stitching). Something else that slows my breathing and relieves stress.

Current WIPs (works in progress), a shawl for me and a baby blanket for charity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Music, especially singing. I sang this past season with the Hill Country Chorale. After the season was over I joined other singers for the Memorial Day service at an Episcopal church, singing the Fauré Requiem. Now that’s over, I sing to myself when I walk the dog, often just making up random nonsense songs or sung prayers.

 

  • Friends: church, art, music, politics, knitting, neighbors, old friends from past lives. I joke that I have a three-person minimum at the grocery store–I rarely go without running into someone I know from various aspects of my life. One day running errands I encountered five people I knew! The knitting group provides conversation with busy hands two hours a week, plus monthly lunch.

 

  • Our home. I love our house, yard, neighborhood, our community. I am so glad we moved here two years ago.

    Patio and hot tub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish I could say that taking care of my family feeds my soul. But with a husband with Parkinson’s, the days, hours and moments can be draining. The 12-year-old granddaughter is maturing and doing much better, to the point that we laugh together more than we argue. That is soul-feeding, especially after the transition from home-schooling into public school. She’s ready for seventh grade and middle school!

Thai lunch on the river for our 23rd anniversary, May 31.

And someday I’ll look back at this time and realize that I have been doing deep soul work all along.

Another river view

What I see out the kitchen window. After two years of looking at that bare fence I finally brightened it up!

The best soul work is gratitude. I try to be grateful every day.

 

 

Safety Net

Lying awake a few nights ago, bracing for the next day’s stress with the grandchild, I fretted over my very long, color-coded to-do list. Why did I have so much going on, so much I felt I needed to do?

In my last post I briefly shared the challenges of raising a 12-year-old. If you think raising a grandchild is difficult, multiply that by 10 and you might be close. Every morning is a battle just to get her to school. I am incredibly grateful to the counselor, nurse and other staff at her school, who tell me to “Just GO,” they’ll take care of things.

Musing about the to-do list, I realized I NEED it. It’s my safety net. No matter what else is going on, no matter how worn down I feel after the drop-off, there are a dozen things I can turn to that will feed my soul, or at least get an onerous chore done.

The color-coding works, too. Orange is for top priority, deadline items; yellow is second; green, third; blue is creative stuff; pink is self-care. Sometimes they’re combined and orange overlays yellow; pink and blue (i.e. purple) are special–creative self-care!

Is the list too long when you have to tape another piece to the bottom?

Just a sample of my recent/current list: minutes of the church board meeting (I’m board secretary); drain, clean and refill the hot tub; find a therapist for myself; several sewing, knitting and art projects; practice my music for the Hill Country Chorale… etc. I even have sub-lists on separate sheets (gardening and household projects, specific art ideas, sewing and knitting projects).

 

Fun art prompts.

I’ve never been much of a shopper, but since I’ve been retired I’ve found I enjoy browsing thrift shops with nothing particular in mind. Yesterday, between knitting group and picking up granddaughter at school, I popped into Finds and picked up a stack of books and this gorgeous silk jewelry travel case, which was a whopping 50 cents! I don’t really have much use for it but it’s so gorgeous I may just hang it on the wall. What’s funny is that the piping was white. When I washed it the water looked like Big Red, and the piping turned pink, which now matches the lining!

Jewel case folded for travel.

Open with various size zipper pockets. Isn’t it gorgeous, for 50 cents?

I also stopped in Home Town Crafts for canvases (yes, I have an urge to paint) and picked up some yarn to make chemo caps.

Soft yarn and colors for chemo caps, which I donate.

A few weeks ago I went with a friend to The Tinsmith’s Wife, a yarn shop in Comfort, and got some gorgeous yarn for a shawl, which I’m excited about starting soon.

I’m excited about the challenge of knitting a shawl.

Years ago I was talking to a poet friend. We had just moved and I was overwhelmed with having too much to do. She said, “Be glad you have too much to do. You will never be bored.” She was right, and that lady has since passed away. I still think of her when I wonder if I have too much to do.*

I needed to bring a little sunshine into the house today.

*In memory of Peggy Zuleika Lynch

The Part Where It Gets Harder

If aging is a tunnel and there is a light at the end of it, we’ve clearly been hit by the freight train. Bette Davis was right about old age not being for sissies.

The other day someone used the word “elderly” in reference to a situation with me.

Adding to my anxiety is the suspicion that the worst is yet to come. Despite my relatively good health and a great support system, good medical care and sufficient resources to face what may come, I still have nights lying awake worrying about what’s ahead.

Home-schooling the 12-year-old turned out to be a huge mistake. I won’t go into detail to respect her privacy; I’ll just say it’s not working. She will attend a small private alternative school next year, possibly this year if an opening comes up.

But what has really piled on the concern is that my husband has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He actually diagnosed himself after reading an article by Alan Alda and putting his symptoms together. Some of them he’s had for a year or more–twitchy finger, shuffling, soft voice, some confusion. I thought of Alzheimer’s, looking for zebras while a herd of horses thundered by.

An advantage of living in a town with a large older population means there is plenty of good medical care. Gary has seen two neurologists; he has had physical therapy, voice therapy, a regular therapist, and he attends a support group. He can also get gym membership for tai chi or yoga.

He’s doing everything he can to be healthy. He walks, does his vocal exercises, takes all his meds religiously. He continues to perform his one-man 90-minute monologue of Clarence Darrow, which is an impressive undertaking for any actor. His neurologist assures him he has many good years ahead.

But. Everyone I talk to knows someone with Parkinson’s and has scary or sad tales of former athletes in wheelchairs, loved ones having to go to assisted living and every other sad scenario that accompanies aging and illness.

I try to keep a positive attitude and do all I can to keep myself strong and healthy. I meditate, get plenty of exercise and stay involved with my art, our church community, my knitting group, and friends and neighbors. I keep several inspirational books by the bedside. I remind myself that self-pity is unproductive.

My meditation tree.

The hardest thing is being patient with him and dealing with the challenges of the 12-year-old. Some days I am so worn down I go to bed at 8:30. The dog usually gets me up at dawn. I gripe and groan, but then I go out to a brilliantly clear, cold morning. Last week I saw a meteor from the Geminid shower. Sunrises over our nearby park are breathtaking.

Junior is my comfort creature, and for him, for life, for all that is beautiful, I am grateful.

Beautiful AND sweet, forgiven for the early wake-up.

I wish everyone good health, peace, joy and gratitude this holiday season and in 2019!

 

Success

Because of my very complicated family life, I’m prioritizing my obligations and shedding some less-critical activities, including social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs and the like). I hope to return before very long, but in the meantime, I’ll share what I consider to be the secrets to success.

I recently listened to a TED talk about “grit,” or perseverance, being the best predictor of success in a young person–more than economics, race, or even intelligence. It got me to thinking about what I consider to be the most important factors to success. (I’ve often joked that the reason I’ve never written a book about losing weight and keeping it off is that it would be the shortest book ever–four words: “MOVE MORE. EAT LESS.”)

Since there are also only four words in my success secrets, I guess there’s no book there, either. Here they are:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Imagination
  3. Enthusiasm
  4. Perseverance*

There you have it.

Be good, live well, and put one foot in front of the other as long as you can. I hope to return soon with more stories about radical retirement and homeschooling a sixth-grader.

 

* I can’t resist the famous quote by Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge” about persistence.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

 

 

Only Five Rules

Being someone who apparently likes a challenge, I’m taking on what may be the biggest one of my life, the second biggest in retirement since the decision to invite my granddaughter to live with us: we are going to homeschool her. Reasons are many but I choose not to share them*, except: whoever thought it was a good idea to merge four elementary school’s worth of sixth graders into one pit of mean, hormonal, bullying 11-13 year-olds?

Friends and family members are saying I’m very brave (or thinking I’m very stupid?), but it seems to me this is what I’m meant to do, my true life’s work. And, in addition to doing what’s right for the child, there are considerable advantages for us as well:

  • Flexible schedule. No morning bustle of breakfast, gathering up backpack and jacket and rushing for the bus. Doctor, orthodontist and dentist appointments don’t have to be after 3:30.
  • Enough sleep for everybody. My favorite retirement perk is getting up when I want to. The dog wakes me when morning light seeps in the windows–now about 7, but that will get later as the year progresses. Within reason, the granddaughter also sleeps when she needs to.
  • We can travel with her, visiting state and national parks, caves, cities with great museums–wherever and whenever we like.

Texas’ requirements for homeschooling are lax, to put it mildly. You basically decide to do it and notify the school. The law requires the following:

  • The instruction must be bona fide (i.e., not a sham).
  • The curriculum must be in visual form (e.g., books, workbooks, video monitor).
  • The curriculum must include the five basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship

Not even science, history, geography, PE, health, or the arts are required!

I have developed a curriculum that includes English (writing, reading, spelling and grammar); math; science; social studies (history, geography and civics); art; and health (PE, hygiene and community service). I hope to add music, possibly film or theater arts, eventually. I also plan to inter-connect subjects–writing will be part of everything, and I might combine art history and world history.

The curriculum is mostly just an outline with goals right now, but…

Resources are abundant, both online and in reality. The public library, the nature center, art centers, the Upper Guadalupe River Authority, the river itself–we live in an area rich in opportunities for learning.

Online resources seem infinite. There are homeschool groups, tips, curriculum resources and on and on. I am confident I can teach pretty much everything except science and math, and we are already set up with the Khan Academy, which is free and even has add-ons for adults to learn along with the kids. There are several homeschool groups in our area, but one is very religious (which won’t work for us), and the other is a sort-of co-op, with parents sharing the teaching. Hey, if I’m going to have a stranger doing the teaching I’d rather have a certified public school teacher, thanks all the same.

The binder with my notes and plans.

 

Helpful resource with lots of ideas for creative teaching and learning.

The door is not slammed on public school; it’s a fallback if it becomes necessary and desirable. There is also an alternative micro-school in the area that I will investigate for next year (it was already filled up when I learned of it this summer).

Just for fun I suggested we have a name for our little school, thinking something like “Granny’s Country Day Academy.” So she decided on “The Krusty Krab.” Now we have to decide if the mascot will be Spongebob, Patrick, Squidward or, my favorite, Gary. When I gave her a math worksheet with a place for her name, she wrote “Sargent [sic] honey mufflebuns.”

the “un-school”

This really might be fun. Yes, I realize there will be days when I will wonder “WHAT WAS I THINKING?”

But there are only five rules:

  1. Sleep (enough, mostly at night)
  2. Eat (sensibly)
  3. Exercise (any at all)
  4. Learn (enthusiastically)
  5. Be grateful and kind (and put your dishes in the dishwasher)

* Family members, caregivers and others who care about her future and well-being are supportive of this choice.

Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First

I first thought we might ask our granddaughter to live with us when she was about seven, but it seemed impossible. Where would we house her in our condo? How would we travel? Would I keep up my volunteer activities? How would our marriage fare?

After she and her mom moved, not just to a small town, but 10 miles outside a small town, with its long drives and even longer bus ride to school (and sometimes she missed the bus and mom didn’t have a working vehicle); no close neighbors with kids; and a very white-bread conservative community ill-fitted to the funky creative family.

Living in a vibrant city with an excellent elementary school nearby, we decided to invited her to live with us–on a temporary, experimental basis.

Two-and-a-half years later it doesn’t seem temporary and we no longer live in the big city. But our new hometown, though small, has everything we need: good schools, beautiful geography, lots of culture, a church community we all like, and plenty of activities.

Not only has it not been impossible, it is our normal and I wouldn’t have it otherwise. As challenging as a (now) 11-year-old is, she is bright, talented and funny. And if we didn’t have her we would never have acquired our beautiful dog, Junior, who is my comfort buddy.

Beautiful Junior.

However….

I had a few days of solitude over the holidays, unplanned, unexpected and totally delightful. No husband, child or dog. Just me and the guinea pigs. I can’t even relate what I did most of those days, except for lounging in bed after waking, drinking coffee in my silk robe, eating when and what I felt like, and taking long walks. Other than a grocery run, I didn’t go anywhere or talk to anyone for three days. I did a lot of reading. It was just what I needed.

One thing I did was arrange my messy scarf drawer so I can see what I have and actually wear them.

 

One of my walks.

On New Year’s Eve, everyone returned, and it was back to the noisy TV, insistent dog, meal prep and laundry. I was determined to maintain some of the self-care that had been so therapeutic, but often I can’t think a thought or type a sentence or read a story without an interruption. I try to be patient, try to meet their needs too, but it’s a difficult balance–self-care without being selfish!

Yes, I should delegate more, and I handed laundry off to my husband. Unfortunately it can take three days for a load of laundry to get done, which tries my patience and I end up nagging reminding him repeatedly, “the washer’s done,” “your dryer is buzzing….”

Granddaughter is becoming much more self-reliant, fixing most of her own food and spending hours in her room drawing with her new tablet that shows the image on her laptop screen. We also collaborated on the decoration for a Little Free Library to be installed in front of our church, but I’m not terribly thrilled with how it came out, or how much of my effort it took.

One of her first attempts with the new drawing tablet.

One side of the Little Free Library, a collaboration between the two of us that took way more effort than I expected.

When she was at her mom’s over the holidays Chloe texted me a picture of a puppy she wanted. I put my foot down and said absolutely not. But the other day I was cuddling Junior and thinking about how calming and therapeutic a dog can be (there is a lot of anxiety in this family), so I’ve laid out conditions that must be met before I will even consider a dog for her birthday in November:

  • It will be her dog, meaning she walks it twice a day, feeds it when she’s at home, and manages all its care inasmuch as the school day allows. She also needs to help with Junior’s care.
  • She must show more responsibility than she does now for cleaning, and keeping clean, her bathroom and bedroom. Consistently, over the long haul, not just a blitz cleaning now and then.
  • She must keep up her school work and her attendance.
  • She must maintain a generally helpful and cooperative attitude around the house.
  • IF, and it’s a big if, we get another dog, it has to be a rescue dog, an adult under 30 pounds, and she wants a female so it’ll have to be spayed.

There are still the issues of vet bills, travel care, and what happens when she grows up and leaves home?

I’m still struggling with the balance and self-care, so is this nuts? For the record, I’m staying caught up on reading, having finished three books I started last year. I’m getting needed medical services for myself, now that the rest of the family’s medical needs are being met. I sing in two choirs, attend a weekly knitting group session, go to church every week and feel well-connected with our new community.

 

 

 

 

Silk Robe Days

Since my recent post about never being able to wear a silk robe, I continue to acquire more, the number  being up to four. They’re sort of a metaphor for my life.

This week I have a few days off, so despite the fact that silk is not very warm and we’re having a chilly Christmas week here in the Texas Hill Country, I’m indulging myself.

How and why do I have so many? I bought the first one more than 25 years ago, on sale at Victoria’s Secret, simply because it’s beautiful, I loved it and it was cheap ($16 as I recall). You can see from the wrinkles how long it’s been on a hanger.

Victoria’s Secret short silk robe with seashell floral pattern.

Next acquisition was in the previous post. It’s the most comfortable and the one I actually wear on rare days I don’t have to be outside as soon as I get up.

Nobody around to take my picture and I hate selfies.

This one is ridiculously beautiful and even comes with a matching silk nightgown. They were given to me by friends who make theater costumes. I insisted they were too big, too fancy and that I’d never wear them, but they insisted I (we) take them. (My husband is also in theater.)

Elegant long red robe and gown.

Finally, on our recent trip around the Hill Country with friends, this beauty just called to me. I don’t even plan to wear it; I hung it on the bathroom wall. It was a peacock day–I also got a beautiful peacock jewelry tree at the same antique store in Bandera. They both make me smile every single day.

Peacocks

Detail

These few “free” days are such a treat I almost feel guilty. Lying in bed this morning, getting up late and making coffee (in my silk robe), it occurred to me that this is normal life for most middle-class, reasonably affluent retired people. For me it’s a spectacular treat, and soon I’ll be back to early rising, walking the dog and getting an 11-year-old off to school.

This is my normal, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But for the moment the peace and silence is priceless.

Peacock jewelry tree reflected in mirror.

 

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