Sunday, May 28, 2017

Visiting with Friends

I had a rare opportunity to meet up with my friend Ingrid recently and we shared a meal that took about three hours, which is pretty much par for the course with us.

Both times we have met up in Arizona we managed to arrive at precisely the same time and about a half hour ahead of the scheduled's kind of eerie.  What do they say about great minds thinking alike?

I never think to get a photo of the two of us when we are together, so I will share some of my favorite photos she has taken instead.

I was not familiar with Red Robin and she guided me in my choice and taught me that you can get broccoli instead of the potatoes.  Then she told me about the special dipping sauce, which is a blend of mayo and BBQ sauce.  It was hard to believe broccoli would taste good in this, but it was deelish.

A special note to Ingrid, I found a BBQ sauce called G Hughes Smokehouse sugar free BBQ sauce.  It is hickory flavored and gluten free with only 2 carbs per serving.  I can't wait to mix up my own special sauce and try it with my cauliflower tonight.

We chatted about every subject known to mankind, mostly about our lives and what's happened since we last met and she shared some fun stories about her camping trip with her daughter.

This woman is one of the best photographer's I know and if you'd like to visit her website at you will not be disappointed.

I find it amazing that just when I need it the most, these special people find their way into my life.  I thank G-d for the people he has put in my path on this journey through life.

Long Live the Queen

Gracie does it again

Everyone has been amazed that the cats haven't jumped over the gate to exit the deck and run around.  I guess it was bound to happen eventually.

I was working in the back, assembling the new storage shed and Gracie was just beside herself watching me walk around the side of the house where she couldn't see what was happening.

When I came back I saw her standing in the driveway by the car.  She managed to get out...damn it.  When I returned her to the deck she went right to the gate again and eyeballed it for her next leap.  This confirmed where the problem had been.

So, I had to build a taller  Thankfully we had a lot of left over pvc pipe to work with, so I added an extension to the existing one.

Time will tell if this works and I don't dare leave them out there without watching closely.

Well, by the time I got this written she has escaped once again, so I've added more netting across the top of the railing. 

We're gonna need a higher fence.
Long Live the Queen

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Gardening In Arizona

It started out with just a tomato plant, that sounded easy enough. Then I spotted the self watering patio planter and picked up some bean and cucumber seeds.  Why not?  I've got unlimited sunshine, right?

Thankfully the neighbors informed me bluntly that these will fry in the Arizona sun during this time of year.  Ooops.  I guess those temperatures over 100 might be a bit much.

This is where I learned about sunshade, so it was back to the store to figure out a method to create some sunshade that would look attractive.  The Lowe's in Mesa has a pair of nesting great horned owls and I was able to get a photo of the father and baby.  These were taken with the phone and not great...sorry.

Daddy Owl

After a lot of false starts I ended up using metal trellis for support to create a little vegetable garden cabana.

View from the front
I used some lightweight chain I had on hand to create a support for the sunshade in the front and cable ties to attach the shade to the trellis.

Side view of the veggie cabana and also the new storage shed

Paul also pointed out to me that the rabbits would decimate anything planted in the little planter.  So, the casters were removed and I used four concrete blocks I had on hand to raise it up above bunny height.  There...problem solved.
from the back

The seeds were added and watered in and we'll see what happens.

Long Live the Gardening Queen

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Advice From Friends

I've received a lot of encouragement from friends and family in this new journey of self exploration, and good advice as well.  This has been very helpful and I thank each of you that has shared your thoughts with me.

One common theme I'm hearing is a request to get busy creating again since that was such a large part of who I am.

I'm doing this in a myriad of ways.  The singing is certainly one of the newer ones, but there are some hands on methods as well.

I recently dragged out all my quilting stuff and after doing some cutting of fabric and planning got totally overwhelmed and packed it all back up.  I think I need to just pull out a project or two since it was just too much to take in.

Now that I have the massage table I would like to have a new quilt to put over it.  I have a couple of projects that have already been started that might work nicely for this and reduce my pile of "stuff" to be finished.

I also have designed a new case for my pool stick since I don't like the one that was given to me.  I love the design process the most.

Bit by bit it will all come together.  This rebuilding of ones self takes time and a great deal of patience.

Long Live the Queen

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Meet Henrietta

I've found the best way to make hard boiled eggs is in an electric cooker.  Easy, simple clean up and perfect eggs.

I already had one, but when I met Henrietta I couldn't pass it up.

The major selling point was that when she was done she signals by clucking.  This was too good to pass up!

I also added some removable wallpaper to the surface so it went with the paper on the china hutch.

Long Live the Queen

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

More furniture ...but not the usual kind

I had a massage recently and it inspired me to do something crazy.  I ordered a massage table to work on some friends here in the park.  Yeah, it surprised me too.

It's just a cheap table, but should suit the purpose.  Now I need bodies to practice on to get my skills back up to par.  I'm pretty sure I can get my neighbor to volunteer and think this may help with her back issues.

My first satisfied customer
 Of course, the cats think it's just another cat bed for them.

I picked up some twin sheets, a couple of CDs and ordered my favorite lotion.

It's a bit crowded in the Arizona room, but should work out
I was surprised when going into Best Buys at the lack of music they carry any more.  It seems to be all phones, tables and TV's now.  Another way of life gone....guess I need to get with the times.

Long Live the Queen

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Taking care of business

The day started as it always does with sitting on the deck having breakfast while the cats play and enjoy the fresh air...this usually takes place about 5:30.

I ran some errands and then took the cats to the vet for their rabies shots and nail clipping.  George's teeth probably need cleaning again and when I do this I'll sign up for their monthly fee health plan since that includes a dental visit and would save me money.  Gracie will just be on a pay as we go basis since she generally doesn't need anything done.

When we returned we all took a little cat nap to recover.

Monday night we have movies in the ballroom and the movie showing was Sully.  I've seen it before, but wanted to explore the movie night in Carriage Manor, so went anyway.

We had the tables set up and everyone brought over the better chairs from the card room.  The popcorn machine was going and for $1 you had all the popcorn you wanted, with bowls provided.  The movie is free, so it's a pretty cheap evening.

At the end of the movie I turned to my friend, Bill and announced he should not worry about anything during his flight in a day and a half...after all, his seat IS a flotation device.

Then I noticed Paul and Sandy were sitting out enjoying the evening air so I joined them on their deck for a while.

It was a nice relaxed day and much enjoyed.

Long Live the Queen

Monday, May 15, 2017

My Living Alone Experiment

It's been two weeks since starting our separation and so far things have gone well for both of us as we learn more about ourselves, both as individuals and as members of a couple.

I was amazed at the outpouring of love and support in this decision to step back and take time to assess my life and myself.  It feels terribly selfish to me yet, but very necessary.  Maybe it was the turning of 65 and wondering if I've really done everything I've hoped to accomplish in this lifetime.  It seems too old for a "mid life" crisis, but then I've always been a late bloomer, so I guess I'm right on schedule.

At first I kept myself busy setting up things, as did he.  Now things are slowing down and I've had more time to start doing more introspection into what it is I really want and praying for guidance.

It seems such an easy question..."What do I want out of life?"  But it is not.  I'd been so busy most of my life taking care of my children, my parents, my job, etc that somewhere I got lost in the shuffle.  It's hard to start a conversation without using the "we" form.  When you turn the M in me upside down you get WE.  That's how I've been feeling, like I was turned upside down and ME was stuck on its back like a turtle struggling to right itself.

In my desire to keep harmony in the home I found myself turning away from my own desires and just going along with what my husband wanted.  It seemed easier at the time, but the price tag was high.  This is the same pattern I had with my previous marriages as well.  Maybe I'm just a wimp that hates confrontation.  But one thing it is not is living an authentic life.

It's a bit like being on a merry go round and feeling dizzy but being afraid to jump off.  I finally got to a part in my life where I had the courage to let go and take my changes of crashing to earth.  The initial landing might be rough, but then the spinning stops and your mind begins to clear.

The first thing I found in living alone is how important music is to my soul.  When I got into the karaoke club I rediscovered my love of music and singing.  When I would chant the morning blessings at the synagogue I had a regular outlet for singing that has been sorely missed.

Being in the billiards club gave me a feeling of being included, valued and needed.  I find that concentrating on perfecting my skills hones my concentration and calms me.

Pickleball has always been a constant in my life and continues to provide a physical outlet and form of exercise as well as fellowship with others.

I am still very much an introvert, but find that I need much more outside contact with others than I every imagined.  Perhaps I'm a very outgoing introvert?  Can one become an extrovert over time?

At times I find myself adrift and feeling alone and getting teary eyed, then other times I feel like I'm a much needed vacation with only myself to consider.

Each day I feel less afraid and look forward to what revelation the next day will bring and searching inward for what it is that fulfills me.  We'll see what the next two weeks bring.

Long Live the Queen  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Dilemma

This is one of those Hallmark inspired holidays that I dread.  If you possess a vagina everyone wishes you a happy Mother's Day without knowing anything about you.

There are many men in the world who have embraced the role of being the primary caregiver (formerly accepted as the mother's role) who get no credit for their hard work.

I always cringe at the hurt feelings of those who were not able to be a mother.  I also feel for those who have either lost children through death or other reasons causing estrangement.  Does wishing them a happy Mother's Day make them feel good or add to their pain?

I have been blessed with the unconditional love of two wonderful children, even though there are times I feel I don't deserve such a gift.  I gave birth to my son very young and we grew up together, although I think he matured better than I did.  

My daughter came into my life in her early teens and I couldn't have asked for a better daughter.  I wish she could have been my mother.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my other daugher, Christy.  Sometimes you get your children as fully grown and beautiful adults.  

I celebrated by doing a little shopping and having a chili dog at the Wienerschnitzel...not as good as Coney Island, but it would have to do.  Coney Island hot dogs always evoke a memory of my grandmother, who was responsible for my upbringing and there's not a day I don't miss this incredible woman.

Long Live the Queen Mother

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New Furniture for the House

I've been wanting a small table for the kitchen/dining area by the patio door for some time now.  So today I headed out to Hobby Lobby to do some shopping.

I fell in love with this rustic looking table with the metal top and bottom shelf.  The color was perfect and the size as well.

I especially love that it looks like an old potting bench, reminding me of my gardening days.  I still garden with my cactus, but have no need of a full potting area any more.

There are two little drawers to hold stuff, which always seems to be around.

Since I seem to have a chicken theme going here, I will store my hard boiled egg machine on it.  More about Henrietta later.

Long Live the Queen

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

How to Block the Only Spot the Cats Can Escape From on the Deck

The bird netting on the deck works perfectly to keep the cats safe, even though I wouldn't trust them out here without close monitoring, especially with the coyotes in the area.

But there is this one gap that is large enough for Gracie to dash through and run wild through the neighborhood.

My plan had been to add a corner shelf, but the openings were still too large, or the metal was so ornate I couldn't stand it.

Then I spotted this metal feather wall decoration.  Hmmm, this might be just the right size...and half price at Hobby Lobby.

But I would need to anchor it in something.  Maybe I could get a pot and some styrofoam and plastic plants...oh wait...the containers are also half price and this one is fairly heavy.

Insert feather into planter and attractive blocking of the exit that the kitties can still see through to enjoy watching the birds.  Now I just have to inform George that the grass is not real.

Ok, there was no convincing George to stop eating the plastic grass, so I had to add a planter with some real grass for them.  Now things are good, but he still wants to try eating the plastic grass as well.  Sigh...poor George...he just doesn't get it.

Long Live the Creative Queen

Sunday, May 7, 2017

We'll Leave the Light on for Ya

My friend Beth created this for me on my 60th birthday and it's been securely wrapped and protected during our full time life in the motorhome and moving around the country.

I've never put it up because I was afraid it would be broken and I would be devastated by its loss.  So it was a happy day when it came out of packing and placed on the china hutch where I can enjoy its welcoming beacon.

I love the fact that it is a little house and now I have a symbol of my "home" right here in my little house.

Thank you comforts me when ever I turn it on to enjoy its welcoming glow.

Long Live the Queen of Home

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Time to Take Care of Some Business

I've been too busy goofing off and now I need to get busy and make some appointments.

The cats need their annual check up and rabies shots, then I can store their carry crates under the deck.

I need my annual check up so I can get my meds refilled.  I'll do some scouting to see who takes my insurance and get that taken care of.  I want to get a family doctor established just in case of any future problems.

Most importantly, I need to get a massage scheduled.  It's been far too long and I just shaved my legs and hate to let that go to waste.  This is, of course, the most crucial appointment if I am truly to learn to take care of myself better.

Long Live the Queen of Appointments

Friday, May 5, 2017

Summer Fun in Arizona

I find myself doing a little something around the house each day, but distracted by all the other things calling my name.  I still haven't even hooked the TV up yet, just haven't had any need for it.

I've gotten to know my neighbor Sandy much better since my return and it seems we really are kindred spirits and have so much in common.  She's of the same belief as I am that we are guided by G-d on our journey and if we are only open to seeing it there are miracles every day.  The people you need to be with and share your story are all around you.

Her husband, Paul, celebrates his birthday one day after mine and apparently several of their family members are also Leos, so I'm thinking there will be some partying happening in July.

The birds are definitely happy to have me back as their food and water is replenished daily, and I am rewarded with watching them through my windows.

I had expected a bit of a ghost town back in Carriage Manor, but it's anything but.  There are still several people here and many who live here full time.  

I've already been out on the weekly "girlfriends' night out" to one supper at the Red, White and Brew where I had some awesome jambalaya. In fact there was so much of it that I will be enjoying it for another couple of meals. We had 18 of us attending this supper.  They do this every Thursday night and I'm finding some of the favorite spots of the locals by joining them.

While practicing my billiards skills the other day I met a man who had a pool cue to sell me for $10, so now I have my own stick to play with.  He even gave me the leather case for it.  Now I feel like a real hustler when I go into the billiards hall to least until anyone sees my skill level...or lack there of.

Every Monday night we have movie night in the ballroom for $1.  The movies shown are pretty recent and I understand they have the new big screen installed already.  I got the skinny from the card players that we drag the card room chairs which are much more comfortable over to ballroom to watch.  Not sure if they make popcorn or not, so I'll have to get that detail in case I need to bring my own.

I learned how to play euchre, which is okay but not as interesting as the Spanish Canasta, so I've signed up for that on Tuesday and Friday.  They might be playing on Wednesday nights as well, not sure yet.  I'll be learning pinochle on Sunday nights to see if I like it better.

Saturday has us playing Mexican train.

Every other Wednesday the Breakfast Club goes out to eat - this coming one is at What the Hell bar and grill.  This is the place that also has karaoke on Wednesday nights and I'll have to give that a whirl.

We will have karaoke again here during the summer, but one of our main members is gone on an Alaska cruise, so this will happen later in the month.

Don't think I've forgotten about pickleball - there is a small group that goes down to play about 8:00 in the morning and at another park that has more full timers.  It's supposed to be cooler next week and I'll get back out on the courts for it soon.

Everybody seems to get up about 5:00 or so to do their walks and sitting out on the deck and that works just fine with me.  The cats enjoy going out in their fenced area to enjoy the fresh outdoors while they can.  Later in the day they are just fine with napping on the couch during the hot part of the day.

I have a ton of sewing projects to work on during the really hot part of the season, so that will wait a month or two, which is fine because I'm too busy right now for it anyway.  Not sure when that jigsaw puzzle might get done.

Long Live the Fun Loving Queen

Finding my Way...Back to Arizona

Some of you are already aware of the life changes Left Brain and I have made recently, but most probably have not, so here it goes.

We returned to Minnesota and spent the better part of a week setting up the trailer and getting it ready to live in.  This was after a long three day drive and while living in a motel...with two cats.

The weather was cold but okay ...for a while.  Then came the night Left Brain was to stay over at Steph's house to assist Emily in getting to her volleyball competitions.

I relished the thought of a quiet night to myself in the new digs to breath and take it all in.  It ended up being a much deeper contemplation than I originally planned.

I woke very early Sunday morning to 39 degree temperatures and no furnace.  I learned later that we had already ran out of propane and I could have switched the tanks and had heat, but that's part of my be explained later.

While I sat and shivered by the electric fireplace and waiting for pickleball to start so I could go somewhere warm I started taking in the concept of once again living in a 400 square foot environment where you have to deal with propane tanks, slides, dumping septic in an RV again.  I wasn't liking the feeling, even though it is a brand new and beautiful trailer.

Last year my goal was to purchase this lot and trailer to have a summer place to return to.  Left Brain has been expressing a strong interest in doing fishing on the Mississippi River, so this would take care of everything.  

I knew that we'd be buying a place in Arizona and selling the motorhome while down there last winter as I was totally done with living in the motorhome and desperate for a house that didn't move and being part of a community again.

While in Carriage Manor I fell in love with the lifestyle and quickly made many friends while I enjoyed a host of fun filled activities.  I love Mesa and the surrounding area, the shopping is close by and easy, lots of medical facilities and the scenery of being surrounded by mountains is incredible.  

Living here was like coming out of a deep sleep...I became alive again and felt more vibrant and healthier than I had in a long time.  My desire to lose the weight and care more for myself became crucial to my being.  I even started to fix my hair and wear make up on occasion...I know, how shocking.

So it was this comparison I kept making as I sat in the trailer in Minnesota watching the wind and rain and shivering from the cold.  Left Brain came home Saturday night and by that time I had already curled up in my sweats under all the covers and was fast asleep.  I'd been up early that morning from the cold and was too exhausted to stay up much past 6:00 that night.  He remedied the problem with the propane and so I had comfort again in the morning.

As I sat on the couch Sunday morning I started doing some very introspective thinking on my situation and came to the conclusion that I just wasn't ready for this.  I didn't relish the cold weather, making yet another host of new friends, learning a new area, navigating my way around a tiny house and mostly not willing to go back to the confines of living together in such a small space.

So I sat and googled "starting life over in your sixties" and was surprised to learn that I had a lot of company out there.  There is a phenomena going on currently called the "Silver Separation" and scores of women in the sixties are wanting to separate from their spouses and just dedicating their time and effort into caring for themselves.

Women traditionally have been the peacekeepers of the family and have assisted in caring for other family members from early on.  Then we become the primary caregivers for our children and often the elderly parents (both ours and the spouses) in their end of life.  It gets tiring and somewhere along the way a woman loses sight of who she is and what she wants.

So, Sunday morning I requested a conversation with Left Brain about this situation and as difficult as it was for both of us to deal with, the outcome was that I would return to Arizona with the cats for the summer to have five months to live alone and see how it feels.  We both knew there would come a summer I'd stay here to experience it, but it happened sooner than anticipated.

Please let me explain here that he is a great guy and we remain best friends, it's just time to live apart for a while.  He helped me pack the car and I pulled away later that morning leaving him in a trailer with no transportation until he could get out to buy himself another vehicle.

My first day of driving I only made it to Des Moines due to my emotional state as well as the wind and rain.  The second night I got to the Oklahoma panhandle after a 10 hour drive.  I had planned to make the rest of the trip in two easier shifts, but ended up going for 12 hours to get all the way back home. 

I learned some valuable life lessons along the way:

1)  If you have two cats in a motel room with two beds, they will both go into hiding under separate beds when preparing to leave.  I had to physically lift the beds to extricate the furtive felines.  Note to self:  don't look too closely at anything you might spot under the bed.

2)  If you don't have any dishes for the cat's canned food, the tray for the ice bucket works nicely.  A spoon would have been nicer than having to use one's fingers, but the cats must be fed, so you do what you have to do.

3)  Coke that has frozen in the fridge WILL explode in the car as soon as you open it, creating a huge mess. 

4)  When you walk into a McDonalds in Missouri try not to laugh out loud when you spot large groups of men wearing big overalls, camouflage jackets and just makes you look deranged.

5)  Stay at better motels - the really cheap ones like the gem I found in Oklahoma for $48 often have interesting stains and fluids that resemble possible crime scenes.

6)  Grab food and bathrooms where you can...they can be far apart.

7)  Calming collars on the cats is the only way to go.  They basically are stoned from all the pheromones and have a glassy eyed look, but are oh so quiet and nice on the long drives.  Once when checking on them for what I thought might have been a pooping accident I think George actually said "Grooovy" to me.

8)  If you've stopped more than twice to check on that poop smell problem and find nothing to clean up, make note of where you are.  When going through the cattle lots of Texas there is a lot of manure.

9)  Paying for a deep cleaning of the car after such a trip is worth every penny.

I'm sure there's more nuggets of knowledge I picked up, but it's been a few days now and I've forgotten already. 

So, this is where we are at right now and you won't be confused when you get posts from me in sunny, warm (105 currently) Arizona.

Long Live the Queen of Self Imposed Exile