Saturday, January 28, 2017

Almost 70 Meets Almost 20

The other day at the gym, a pretty twenty-something asked why I worked out after I completed a hundred squats. The look of incongruity covered my face. Huh? The answer required a few seconds of thought because people speak Spanish too fast for me to understand at first. Exercise is the best thing in the world for me and I love it.
This little girl at the age where her body hasn’t even rounded out, looking like a skinny teenager said in Spanish, “Por salud? For health?”  In her eyes I could see her sincerity; she wasn’t being a smartass. None the less I could read in her face the wonder why a fat old lady worked so hard. After all, you’re still old, why not just rest on the porch until your time comes? How sweet, her big brown eyes pitied me.  
After processing the magical mystery tour of a young girl’s thoughts all I could do was nod and say, “Yeah, for health.”
Her face scrunched up like she wanted to cry. Oh, shit, she thinks I’m going to die. Lord in heaven, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be young and that stupid, but now it comes back to me like the memory of skin so soft.
“I exercise so I can continue to be strong enough to do things around the house.”
Her look said, “Like what?”
“I buy dog food in fifty-pound bags. If I didn’t exercise moving it would hurt my back.” Perhaps this practical answer would justify my presence at the gym.
Her face said loudly, “You poor thing!”
Who, me, came the internal reply. Believe how glad I felt that she didn’t verbalize this!

What could I do, but return to my workout? Her big kind eyes made contact with mine and we smiled as we moved to a new machine. She lowered the machine settings by about half each time she got on one I’d just finished. About the third time, I smiled and winked at her as she adjusted the weight. “Yeah, you’ve got a long road ahead of you; enjoy!”

Friday, January 27, 2017

Slowly Better

Going on four years and still no life I want in sight. How lucky I’ve been, I had no idea. Each day presents so many problems; it’s easy to get caught up in what’s wrong with everything.
At the end of my road, I live in a beautiful green valley with a lake where I’m never really cold. I’m blessed. My husband’s ashes sprinkled on the lawn surround me; that’s the best we can do these days. The warm memory of our happy days here helps me deal with his loss.
All through my life, I’ve been on one quest or another. Striving for a goal always added zest, but I’ve run out of gas and need to switch to solar like the dinosaur generation consuming fossil fuels. So this is what it feels like to be old.
I may as well own it like so many changes I didn’t want. To look at young couples with fresh skin so in love and feel in my soul the memory, and then, to walk alone without a hand to hold when I’ve always held his hand forces me to be strong if I want to move along.
I could stay home and garden; I’ve done it before, but I’ve always seen myself traveling as a senior, so I believe I need to go with that. I could devote the years I have left to travel and not see the world. It’s all lonely without him.
As I recover from my grief I find my two greatest motivators to be boredom and since Kirt died I dropped my causes, except to bitch on Facebook, which is nothing.
Over the last few years, I’ve drifted from pain to a neutral, which I preferred to that hard ass hurt; that’s a murky abyss I need to be paddling away from post haste, like right now because before I wasn’t well enough to do anymore.
America is going to hell in a hand basket and I’m focusing on inner harmony; that’s sick, but you have to have to give it.   

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Memories on Wednesday

Wednesday morning, the air is still, and the clouds gray; that means the water isn’t working today. Trouble is I worked out at the gym on Monday and Tuesday, so I need to let my body rest. As much as I enjoy the endorphin release working out five days a week makes me feel weak; strange, right?
Kirt’s birthday comes next month; the stars were in perfect alignment to give me someone to love. The least likely man on earth won my love.
Before I met Kirt’s best friend a handsome young engineer asked me to marry him. After I said yes, he became critical of how I did things; at first I’d just accommodate his wishes, but then he started telling me that I bowled wrong and how I should be throwing the ball. That didn’t set right because I beat him at bowling regularly. “I’m beating you and you’re telling me how to do it!”
How can someone tell you how to do something you do better than they do? He sounded so adamant that when I listened to how it should be done, I heard a warning from God.
A friend introduced me to a hillbilly guy with hair like Elvis who oozed sex appeal. He sold black beauties; we became good friends and flirted with the idea of more. Frequently, we hung out with his buddy who recently returned from the Army.
The privilege of a good education by the nuns gave me a strong sense of morality and could only flirt with the darkness of a real low life. As I pulled away from a classic sixties bad boy his buddy the Army guy talked with me non-stop; earthy countryman listened to me and asked questions. I wondered what growing up in the hills felt like as opposed to where I grew up in the city. He told me about picking beans when he was eight and working on a tobacco farm at ten. I respected him for being strong enough to work at that age when I had a hard enough time doing well in school and staying out of trouble.
Girls learn about marrying well as if it’s in our DNA. I curled my lip at the thought of being attracted to Kirt. I had dated Mendel men and college graduates; my prospects were loftier than the son of a garage mechanic. I enjoyed dates at fine restaurants, the Playboy Club, and shows. This man from Tennessee could offer nothing more than a paycheck and his heart.
My grandmother, my nana, asked how my date was when I came home from my first date with Kirt. “This is the man I’m going to marry,” I announced. She laughed. That was almost a half a century ago.   

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Just Singing the Blues

In that stage grief between mourning and hope, I toss sometimes mourning and other times pleased to be alive. Let go of the past; that’s what people say. How do I let go of the best of my life?
For all the fun things he was there, loving me. I miss being loved more than anything. I never thought about loving myself. Most days I didn’t think about liking myself preferring always to focus on my shortcomings.
How do I let go of the person who loved me the most? I can’t, so I have to hold him in my heart and continue because I still have purpose in this life. Frequently, I wish my life came with a how-to manual. I struggle with damn near everything; probably that’s just me. Being with Kirt made even challenges fun, we loved life together.
I’m not sure how to go on, but three and a half years later it would seem that I’m doing so, however poorly. So this is what it means to be on the downhill slide of life with losses everywhere and days numbered. Ok, that sucks; now what?
I’m thinking New Orleans, jazz, road trip down the gulf coast of Florida, and a whole mess of oysters. What do you say?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Going to be a Fine Year

Over the New Year Holidays and since I’ve been feeling off. Sleep, my new best friend comes often and stays long. Post nasal drip plagues me; if you have it, you know what I’m talking about. This is physical stuff, not me with my usual whiney attitude over losing my husband.
Whenever I hear conversations about allergies, I hear something about winds from Africa and sand. A day at the shore breathing salt air helps tremendously, but my allergies haven’t been this bad since I lived near a coal yard in Chicago.
Of course, it may be the wheat; I eat way too much bread. I read that food allergies trigger other allergies and the foods we crave like bread cause it all basically. Just swell.
My allergy addictions get the best of me in high-stress times like when a bunch of my stuff breaks all at once and my car is one of those broken things. Just before everything broke, I booked a four day trip to St. Thomas when I caught the nice holiday sales. Live music on Water Island by world class performers, do I have to tell you how excited I was?
Light switches in the kitchen and both bathrooms refused to turn off; I took action, turning off the appropriate breakers. Repair could wait. Both toilets started leaking, so I turned off the water to both toilets; all of this happened before Christmas company.
My attitude remained positive; after the holiday I could hire a new handyman. I could get by, but my friend came to have fun and so we drove my car to Fajardo and Ponce, all over the island. The island beauty will grab the air right out of your chest.
Explaining my house problems to my guest humiliated me, but what the hell. If pouring water from a bucket to flush the toilet is too rustic for you, sorry; that wasn’t nearly enough. On the patio, I noticed a steady stream of water from the roof near the water tank that should have dried up with the rain. Goody.
All I wanted to do was to go to sleep, my joints ached and my face felt swollen. My company left early; I found a handyman, slept a couple of days, and then went to the gym. After a few days, I felt well enough to think about driving to Isabela or maybe just go home; I didn’t know.
I felt and heard a pop and my car stopped; I managed to get it off the road. The funny thing about hitting the end of my rope is nobody cared. I wanted to scream or cry or hit something, maybe. Time to inhale deeply, a few more times, since this had to happen after close of business before Three Kings’ Day and I was flying to St. Thomas on Friday, the thirteenth.
One nice thing about being a senior citizen is you’ve had plenty of time to learn how to get over yourself and get on with it. I handled my car problems, went on my trip, where I had a good time until a waitress upwind of me sprayed a cleaning solution in the air that I happen to be allergic to and instantly became wheezing ill. For two days of the trip, I slept like a bear in hibernation.
The night I made it to the concert on Water Island, classical vibrations by talented musicians danced with the dendrites of my neurons. The magic of performance ignited my spirit when I needed it most. 
Carlos Jimenex, my car’s fine mechanic had her ready and running on time. I and my stuff are on the mend.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Never Give Up

Crafting the best out of a bad situation has been one of my talents. When tossed into a this sucks situation I made my little lists of how to get away from, change or completely turn it around. After the pros and cons of each, the winner waves. It sounds so easy. 
Sometimes staying focused on the solution took more strength than I knew I had. The day my husband crawled into the house on all fours began an odyssey of daily pain for him and oh, my God, what do I do stress for me that lasted twenty-five years.
How he endured the weight-bearing pain in his lumbar spine, I’ll never know. When my arthritis acts up I can go straight to crabby bitch. Pictures of him smiling and laughing show his joy. Condemned to a sedentary life in pain; that’s no easy sentence, but he would be the one to see the woodland flowers blooming under the snow or the first robin of spring.
When a man can no longer work and provide it can sap his spirit; my husband struggled for his. In the Workman’s Compensation case insurance company lawyers referred to him as lazy and looking for a free ride. The tone they took with him made me want to smash their faces. He was down; the system was created to support him, but they whipped him mercilessly for years before he got anything. God help young workers today.

Kirt had always wanted me to stay home; he was old school that way. I liked working and money was a real hit; but ten acres, horses, chickens, cows, and dogs persuaded me to stay home happily.
A few years later, I no longer had a career and he had an accident. I couldn’t leave him at home alone for more than brief periods.
My idyllic life of playing with horses and dogs came to a screeching halt along with Kirt’s paycheck. Holy shit, I didn’t see that one coming. We were so happy; we loved our place next to the woods. My life was so rattled, but I had to be strong; my problems paled in comparison to my husband’s pain.
We sold our treasures, tomatoes, and eggs; the people who trained dogs with me on Monday night offered to pay. My fledgling dog business began. I worked ten years straight without a single day off. My business that began under some harsh circumstances grew to one day employ as many as twenty people, so I can honestly say we made the best our of a bad situation.

As we stood in the gateway of our home for the last time Kirt asked, “Any wishes or regrets?”  I burst into tears,” To do it all over again except your accident!”   

Monday, January 9, 2017

My Heart, A Poem

My heart is a lovely place to be with wisps of light and love
Surrounded by souls of every dog I’ve ever known
Beauty becomes us, but I couldn’t seem to find mine
Pretty exterior attracts cads like a hand to a glove
Most young men only want to make you moan
One great guy loved me for a really long time

It’s easier to see your beauty if someone else finds it first
A beaten body can harbor a sunken soul
As on drowning victim can die of thirst
Life’s travails take their toll
A healing heart hides not from pain

It flicks searching for fellow wisps of light on this earthly plane

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Retired at last; twenty-somethings tell me how lucky I am to be retired. After all, living on a tropical island, having lunch on the beach is the good life. Aches and pains picked up along the way, for all my mistakes enough things went right to allow me to be retired.
During my working or productive years, I couldn’t imagine not working. Every job or career I ever had became a springboard for something I thought I wanted to do more.
In my first job out of high school, I worked as a reconciler for an insurance company.  Within a couple of months sitting at that desk all day, I lost my mind and went to look for it in a park. Any young woman can fall back on a job as a waitress; right? One shift of lunch hour madness showed me otherwise.
Talk about inauspicious beginnings, my next job as a kennel maid cleaning up after, scrubbing kennels, and feeding dogs tired my muscles and taught me a ton about dogs and people; something that would come in handy in about a quarter of a century. I’ve done many things because I thought I might like it; some worked, and then others not so much, but give the young me a challenge so I could chew it to death.
The real estate market tanked with interest rates at 18.5%; a help wanted ad caught my eye. TRUCK SALESMAN WANTED: base salary and vehicle. My husband was a truck driver; occasionally I went on the road with him. No Sundays for me made him smile; he hated competing with clients for me on weekends. I’d only be selling Scouts from the lot until one on Saturday.
My resume impressive, my background diversified, and I could sell. The sales manager hated me; he sneered. The female office staff had never before enjoyed looking down their noses and made that clear; huh, boss. I followed him around the office and shop, telling him about why he should hire me until he slammed a door in my face.
Smug, nasty looks from the women followed me to the door; “The nerve” was all I heard. Three evenings later the phone rang. “Hi, this is Glenn from Herschberger.” Having a door slammed in my face humiliated me in front of three women who would soon be so jealous.
“You were by far the most aggressive candidate for the job. There is a woman in upstate New York selling trucks.” He wanted me, so I negotiated to work every other Saturday. I could sell.
The second woman in the United States of America to sell trucks, that’s what I believe I am. My best career came from doing what I loved for free.
In 1983 we bought Carrvilla, our home, A Better Dog School, and the end of a rainbow in Yorkville, Illinois. I knew no one; why I think myself shy, I’ll never know. I placed an ad in the local paper: WANT TO PRACTICE OBEDIENCE OR CONFORMATION WITH YOUR DOG it began. Before long word got out that if your dog had a problem behavior, see Pat Carr.
“Dog behavior interests me; I do this for fun. Let’s play with it and see what shakes out.” You wouldn’t believe the shit people brought me. They weren’t going to spend another dime on it, but as long as it was free, here they came. By the time I needed to be income producing again in 1988 I had a wealth of experience.
Doing what you love for a living is priceless; owning your own business is heaven and hell. For almost thirty years dogs were the core of our lives, and then we showed dogs on the weekends for fun. I wouldn’t trade my life for a million bucks right now.

Thank you, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for Social Security. Retirement means not working beyond your capacity to do so. It’s up to us how we spend it.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Legacy of Love

Hi, if you’ve lost someone you truly love I don’t need to tell you how difficult it is to get back to making the best out of your life.
Three and a half years after losing my love, he’s on my mind and I’m missing him. Going here and there or doing this and that doesn’t stop the hurt.  When I manage to focus on now, when I’m in the moment I feel better, so I’m really trying.
When I was young I didn’t understand how someone could hurt you if they loved you. I felt so unloved that I believed I should have been an abortion; it would have been better for all involved.
During my married life, I grew up knowing what it felt like to be loved. That gave me the strength for every good thing I’ve done in my life. I’m a much better person because of my husband’s love.
Without him, it’s difficult to be strong, but that’s what I must do if my remaining years are going to be worth a damn. Wallowing in weakness isn’t my style; bitch about it, fix it and move on is. I mean you’ve got to bitch a little.
Vulnerability increases with age; I find that unsettling. Now, when someone pushes me beyond my comfort level or what I think to be right, I have no one to look to for support; it’s all on me. The gym is a metaphor for my life. Nobody’s going to lift this weight for me.
After singing the blues I want to thank God for putting Kirt in my life; he taught me to gaze at a flower, a sunset, a shooting star and to feel the beauty.   At three and a half years a widow walking in the shadow of death I may be approaching the ridge of acceptance.
I know love; that will stay with me. I haven’t lost it to bitterness.

To anyone reading this who has lost your soul mate, there is a world wide web of caring, love, and empathy saying,”Sorry for your loss. Be gentle with yourself.” 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Healthy Routine or Good Times

Been a goodish girl for days and this arthritis still beating my butt; how long does it take for inflammation to exit the body?
During exercise I felt the endorphin rush; I’m such a fool to discontinue what allows me to hurt less. DUH!!
How quickly I let my healthy routine slide surprises me. For those few days I wanted to indulge in dark chocolate and fun, to be a bad girl. I can picture my mother saying, “See what happens.”
I remember my husband tossing his healthy routine for more good food than he should have been eating. He lost a toe over it.
Exercising through arthritis pain hurts, so I seldom get carried away exercising like a mad woman. The last three days are an exception because it felt so good to be back.
Spoke with my mom who is going to be ninety-four on Friday, the thirteenth. I wished her happy birthday and thanked her for the genes. That I’d be pleased to take after her amused both of us which made an ironic moment we appreciated, damn few of those in a lifetime.
It’s time to go get a replacement part for my rooftop water tank or go to the gym. Perhaps, I shouldn’t exercise four days in a row after being off two weeks, but I need an endorphin rush and dark chocolate cake is out of the question. Mmmm, I shouldn’t think about that too long.

Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sugar Rush

Sugar, so sweet and delectable steered my holiday awry. Sugar, so tasty on the tip of the tongue carried mouths through foul odiferous words laying waste to friendship’s fleeting greeting.
Holiday ranking Happy Halloween at the top with sweet rewards based on the number of doors knocked would spawn a lifetime overachiever; who knew?
Change coasting on sedentary years informs senior bodies of the future. Take heed; don’t be stupid, but alas it’s inevitable.
My sugar tooth fairy flew in on Delta. Where’s the desert menu? Got to run; let’s go! Where’s the bakery? I haven’t seen any bakeries. Oh, would you look at that! It’s time for coffee and.
Let’s go; let’s go.
Here I am dark and rich; you know you want me. Dribbles on my lips gave me away; what could I say?
Dark chocolate led me down the path to pain and suffering.
Dark chocolate cake, please! I’d like a brownie.
And on the third day like a lump I laid unable to move complements of pain in ankles, knees, hips, and back. A new, never before discovered pain in my right shoulder stabbed the center of the joint as I heard the words Merry Christmas. WTF, what have I done to myself? My middle finger knuckle hurts.

New Year’s resolution: self-control. Is sixty-eight too late?

Monday, January 2, 2017


Company came; company went. Company wore me out. Out the door by eight to be there at nine every morning felt a bit much when coupled with getting back late each night.
Regular exercise gives me stamina, so I informed my companion of my need. “You can workout anytime you want before eight.” She told me as a matter of fact. She had our days planned. I tried to comply, but couldn’t drag myself to the gym before eight with breakfast, shower, and dress, so off I went another day without my exercise, but the next day.
“We need to leave soon. It’s going to be another day wasted because you won’t leave on time.”
Grit my teeth; stifle the scream wanting to leap out, every aching bone in my body instantly got pissed. “I’m not going,” I said. “You go, have a good time. I’ll catch up with you later if I feel better.”
“I’m your guest,” she thundered. “I expected to go with you. How do you expect me to get there? I came to see…”
Alas, my nice isn’t as deep as I’d like it to be; I interrupted her.
“You’re a grown woman; take a cab. Can’t you understand I hurt?”
There must be a list of telltale signs of an only child. Perhaps, I should have consulted it.

Walking at breakneck speed so we can see everything or standing on the corner unable to keep up wasn’t the fun adventure I’d hoped for, but pressed on gamely.
Note to self: establish ground rules before company comes.
I WILL be taking the time to exercise. I WILL rest as necessary.
If I don’t want to do something you want, go without me. I will try my best to please my guest, but my limitations need to be respected. We will share what we can and come prepared to follow your agenda without me if I can’t. I mean no offense.
Despite problems, minor skirmishes, and occasional bad language we parted on a positive note. Rough edges come with deep souls. Absent bad intent, all is forgiven by both. Friends are too few.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Hello New Year

Sharing with another human being who also cares creates a beautiful bond. Family, friends, lovers it doesn’t matter; its rich treasure only increases in value with age. In 2016 I learned who I am without my other half.  
At this age many people congratulate themselves on who they have become; the unshakable confidence amazes me. It must feel wonderful to be that proud of yourself.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m far from ashamed of myself, but within a few years money gone in the recession, followed by life partner, best friend and lover passing has me re-evaluating how I want to spend these last years.
I’m a good person, so I’m proud of that, but my quirks and foibles cause me to wonder how much bad or negative I invite into my life. It’s eternal question number twenty. What could I have done differently that would have made a difference?
Weak, strong, smart, stupid, shy, bold, friendly, cold; I’m all of these in an old lady’s body on the short path to the finish line. I’m also the girl who still wants to enjoy the journey.
Welcome, 2017