Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Retirement dry run

This was the best 3 day holiday I have ever had.  I thought of it as a dry run to retirement.  So I thought about sleeping in, and on Monday I did not get out of bed until 7am.  Yep, 7:00.  Do I know how to have a good time or what?!  Ok, so I was up at 6:30, the point is that I rolled over and took it easy and felt no obligation to get up and get going as early as I normally would.  Monday I spent the entire day thinking, this is what a normal day of retirement could be.  I ate breakfast on the back porch reading my book.  I worked in the yard the entire day.  I know everyone thought it was so hot, but I worked in the front yard where there is shade.  I climbed the 12 foot ladder about 40 million times trimming branches and opening up the yard.  My pink perfection camellia did not bloom as much as it has in other years.  I think that is mostly because it was so shaded out by a maple tree that I didn't want.  So I was going to cut it down, but without a chain saw it was going to take more then the one day I had to cut it down with a hand saw, so instead I cut all the branches within reach off.  It opened up my front yard and now the pink perfection is getting all the sun it needs.  I opened the drive way, I removed the trash trees around a dogwood.  I took the oak branches off around the bird bell which brought in more light to the flower gardens in that area.  It is one of those jobs that you put off, but when you finally do it, it is amazing how much better the yard look and the gardens do.  And yet, it is not that you can point at a new garden and say,"Wow! Look at that."  No, this is something that you can't point to, but everything looks better.

That is more then I can say about my legs.  Between the thorny vines and the millions of yellow flies I look like a child from a TV commercial.  My legs are scratched and cut with huge red bites.  It is not attractive.  But it was so worth it.  My yard is finally starting to look like my yard again.  After a year of not being well enough to work in my yard, I am back!!!  And my yard is responding.  That is one of the best things about gardening.  You can ignore something for so long, but when you give it a little water, a little attention, and a gift card from the best plant nursery in town, you can work wonders. 

Sunday night a few of us met at the Moon's and had a little cookout.  It was just a few of us, none of us were into a big get together, but it was a holiday.  And holidays require getting together with friends and eat potato salad, bake beans and watermelon.  We did all of that and more.  It was laid back and just a nice time to catch up with a few friends, around the fire, eating summer food and laughing and talking.  

Then the perfect Monday.  sigh, I think I will like retirement.

Today I went back to work.  I wrote goodbye emails and sent them to the various field staff I used to work with.  And then sent a good bye to the other Supervisors I used to work with in the field.  I answered phones, data entered, scanned, worked and worked.  At 1:00 it was time to leave, and there was still so much to do.  I thought I could just stay here another couple of hours and get so much more done.  But, really, there is always going to be something to do.  There is always going to be more work then any of us are going to be able to do.  So I got up and left.  I have 4 days left to work.  Four days.  I am anxious.  But not about retiring, about going when there is so much to do, and so few of people to do it.  And the hiring freeze has not been lifted so they will not be able to fill a position.  But I will have to let go, and I will.  I am looking forward to the next  part of the journey.   I hope that their will be employment of some kind involved.  I like to work.  I like to do my best to help people.  And for 25+ years I have been able to do that with the Department, and where I will go next, I am not sure.  I hope to increase my volunteer work, but I need to make sure to take this step by step.  I don't need to set myself up to just making the same mistakes again.  Just working myself into a frenzy again.  I don't need to manage and take on the world, just take it one day at a time.

So after work, I went to the cigar store.  I had gone on Friday, but they were closed for the holiday.  But today they were open and the man in the store was very nice to me.  He must have gotten a kick out of my ignorance, but desire to learn.  I bought the last of a particular cigar and he gave me the box.  This is no cardboard box, or even a a balsa wood box.  This is a  wooden box with a details and gold decorations, I mean this is glorious box.  And then he helped me to get a couple of cigars ready to mail, and a discount on top of it all.  Hey, that is a good shopping experience.  I will be back.

Tomorrow I go for my blood work and a CT scan.  We will get with the doctor next week and hear the good news.  I am taking the whole day off.  I think I am starting to take those first baby steps into retirement.  And it isn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be.  

A glorious weekend, filled with friends and food and laughs.  A weekend filled with gardening.  And I have to tell you these Atlas gloves are amazing.  I can keep the same pair on all day.  I used to carry 5 or 6 pairs of gloves with me.  I would look down and see that I was missing a glove, pull one out of my apron and put it on.  And repeat this all day.  At the end of the day as i was putting everything away I would pick up the gloves I had dropped around the yard.  Not these gloves.  They are comfortable for gloves.  They breathe so they don't get as hot as you would think gloves would be.  And I can do anything with them on.  
Gardening gloves that work.  
Gardens that are responding to my attention.  
A retirement dress rehearsal.  
A cookout with friends.
Yep, I have an amazing life.  

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I have not been able to get into my blog since I last posted.  Isn't it funny how much it bothers us when we can not use our technology.  When we can not figure out why we can not use our technology.   That is the worse.  And on top of not being able to get into my blog, my contract with Sprint was up, and I don't even want to admit how much I was paying for cell phone and Internet.  Before I had a cell phone and an air card, now, a Smarter then I am phone.  And it will be less per month.  Well, once I have paid for the new phone, and all the charges that appear when you first make changes to your service.

First, I don't have the benefit of a teenager in the house, so that is the first disadvantage when you get a new piece of technology.  And I like my technology, I say I don't, but not being able to get anything to work for almost a week, I admit that I do not get attached to the individual toys, but I love the ability to blog, email, talk on the phone when I am not at the house.  These are all wonderful things that are still amazing to me, but to my younger nieces and nephews, this is just normal life.  

So stepping out of my comfort zone in the desire to be money smarter, I am now the proud owner of a smart phone.  I have no idea what kind I have.  It doesn't matter to me.  It is the accessibility and communication that matters to me, not what I have.

The first day I got it, I actually got a call.  I had no idea how to answer the phone.  First I had to push a button so I could see the screen, then I had to push the screen so the phone would answer.  Now in my defense, I was already asleep, but I wanted to take this call.  It took me awhile to figure out it was my phone, in that I do not have the same choices for music that I had before, so I am not used to this ring music.  So, I figure out that it is my phone.  Then I have to find my phone.  This is the best and worst part of the phone.  It is big, so easier to find.  Big so it is a little uncomfortable in my hand.  But I will get used to it.

I stumble into the kitchen rummage through my purse, pull out the phone.  Try and find the button to push to get to the screen.  This phone does not have much in the way of buttons, no dials at all.  So I feel and push, feel and push, where was that button earlier today when the nice young man at the store made it all look so easy?!?!??  I found the button and pushed it.  There was a blinding light.  I had not turned any lights on, so my pupils were wide open and now, just a matter of inches from my face I managed to take a picture.  Not push the button I wanted.  Fortunately the camera was not facing directly at my face.  As it was it seemed forever, although a matter of seconds I was dropped to my knees blinded by the light.  Blinded by the pain of the surprise of a million candle light going off in my unprotected pupils.  I flip the phone over, somehow managed to see who called and called them back on the house phone.  I did not admit to the caller how completely stupid I felt trying to answer the phone.  I also did not want to admit that I had already been asleep for about half an hour, and had already taken my night meds, so honestly, why did I not just call them back the next day.

Well, this person is someone on the road who I don't get to talk to very often.  That is true, but honestly, I was obviously not thinking clearly, and blind to boot.  And feeling like when you fall off the horse, get back on right away.  I refused to be beaten by this phone.  I think he thought I was an idiot.  I could tell that I was not holding up my end of the conversation.  And all I had to say, was can you call me tomorrow, I was asleep.  No, that is not who I am.  Ask any of my friends, I am not one that would say that to just about any of my friends.  Now, I have not answered the phone because I knew I was not capable of talking at that time.  But that is only in my worst times.  I did not not answer the phone.  And I did not tell him that I could not talk.  Instead I laughed and tried to focus on the conversation.  Just the way he talks.  He is like a Western writer, honest, direct, full of details that are not boring, but instead make pictures in your mind.  I have said before that he is an amazing person.  Kind, as a brother, adventurous as a Western writer, heart of an artist.  He is too good to be true.  And he probably is.  I mean, how can someone that good looking, that kind, sweet, funny and talented not have a dozen or more woman interested in him.  Woman who live closer to him.  Woman who don't have cancer, where there would be a chance to have a real relationship.  Reality can be a hard pill to swallow.  But honestly I have nothing to loose by being his friend.  And you can't make a relationship happen.  You have to work at it.  And if both don't feel the same, then it will not happen.  

While we were talking he had a call he had been waiting on come through.  So he said he would call me back later.  So now I am a little more alert and awake, so I figure while I am waiting for him to call back I will learn how to answer the phone.  I think I called him like 3 times.  I am not sure how many times actually went through.  I was not trying to call him.  I was trying to figure out how to answer the phone.  When he did call back, I was able to answer the phone.  One very very small accomplishment.  But big for me.  I don't think I sounded any more intelligent.  But it was late and we were both tired, so the call didn't last that long.  I don't think it did.  How do I know how long it took.  I was still seeing flashing lights and have no idea what time he called.

So this cell phone is supposed to act like my WiFi thingamajig.  I don't know how to get WiFi on my computer.  And when will it start taking effect?  I have no idea.  So for most of the last 2 days I have not been able to get into my email on my computer.  I can see my email on my smart phone.  But I tried to respond to one email and ended up writing an illegible message all in the subject.  I think they could tell the point of what I was saying, but not by what I wrote.  I mean I know what I was trying to say, but that is now what I said.  or didn't say.  

Today has gone a little better, I was able this evening to get to my email, and here I am posting.  I have no idea if when I push publish what will happen.  But it just feels good to write.  To release.

I spent the morning working in the yard, weeding, planting, watering. trimming, cutting, weeding, more weeding.  It was not as hot as it has been.  Not that crazy hot, just normal summer hot.  I worked through the morning and into the afternoon until I had used up all the shade in the back and side gardens.  Then I fixed some fruit and yogurt and sat on the back porch and read for a couple of hours.  It was a lovely day.  The perfect beginning of a three day weekend.  My last 3 day weekend as a state employee.  And I am as excited about it, as if I had years to work instead of 6 days.  Yep, six part time days and I am done, through, finished, retired.  

I have looked forward to retirement for years, but now that it is here, it is just weird.  And there is so much to do before I leave.  Work that the staff will have to continue doing long after I am gone.  One more person gone.  One less pair of hands and eyes to data enter, answer the phone, deal with the work.  I have not slowed down.  I am still working as hard each day as I have worked through most of my career with the state.  I am amazed at people who are short timers and act like it.  And I am also amazed that I have been able to make it 13+ months part time.  And even more amazing that I will have the maximum number of hours of annual leave to sale.  And even a few hours of sick leave.  I have planned this down almost to the hour, the day.  And now it is time to start a new adventure, a new journey, a new life.  

And there is time to see what evolves as my life's journey takes another turn.  So many turns and twists.  And who would want life any other way.  

Technology Nation did an interview with a doctor who is working with brewers yeast for immune deficiency diseases like Hepatitis C and cancer.  Wow, it was so interesting.  It helped me understand a little better why my body was waiting for the perfect storm so that I would be a prime candidate for cancer.  The connections between these seemingly unrelated diseases made so much sense as he talked.  They are getting ready to go into the phase 3 of the testing.  They will start trying to test their meds made from the Brewers yeast to see if they can help people who are not good candidates for the hepatitis C chemo, so that they respond.  Only about 40% of those who go through the year long chemo for the Hepatitis C have successful long term results.  Most importantly right now, what they have already learned from this therapy that will help them to genetically know so much more about who will respond to the therapies.  Medicine and genetics are so cool.  They can do so much more and determine who will respond to what, and give better treatments in some of the hardest diseases.  

I talked to my friend with lung cancer, he has been responding so well to the chemo.  He has not gotten nauseous or sick.  His symptoms have been fairly easy.  He has been having some trouble with his arms after the treatments, but other then that, really not so bad.  Well, this week was the first time he got his chemo with his port.  They pushed the chemo through really fast.  And now he is experiencing side effects much worse.  Is it finally building up to the point to bother him?  Did they push it too fast?  Or as he thinks, a lot of the chemo was bleeding into his arms and not going through his veins.  It is probably all of the above.  Thank goodness he has the long holiday to feel better.  He has such a great attitude.

The next 2 weeks are packed full; blood work, a CT scan, a doctor visit, a retirement party, finish packing my office, oh, and start getting ready to take a 2 week trip to Europe.  A full life, full of friends, and moments to celebrate.  Holidays like this weekend.  Time to get with friends and celebrate the first official first weekend of summer.  A time to celebrate heroes and the American life, getting together with friends and eat potato salad, baked beans and watermelon.  A time to be thankful that we are free to do and believe as we choose.  And a month later, the next big day of summer, July 4th.  And aren't the holidays in summer so wonderful.  Cinco de Mayo with margaritas and nachos.  A time to gather at bars and celebrate Mexican freedom.  Then Memorial Day.  A day that I have spent more often at the beach or in the woods, eating potato salad, baked beans and watermelon.  July 4th where once again we head out to the beach, for picnics and cookouts and eat that glorious summer food again.  Ice cold water melon, hot dogs, hamburgers, fried chicken, potato salad, baked beans and lemonade.  Food that goes with summer.  Food that takes us back to our childhood and reminds us of summers past.  Of happy moments, in bathing suits, filled with sand, waiting 30 minutes to run into the warm gulf waters, not really cool or refreshing, but wet and when you come out, you feel the cool as the water dries leaving a layer of salt on your skin.  And then they cut open the ice cold watermelon and you bite into it with the juices running down your chin and lay back on your towel on the sand and look up at the fireworks.  Glorious flashes of color and whistles and whirs and patterns that cause us even as adults to "ooh" and "aah".  

Then as summer slides into fall with the promise of cooler temperatures, we have the last weekend of summer, Labor Day.  The last opportunity to eat the potato salad, baked beans and watermelon, or maybe hand cranked ice cream.  Beginnings, middles and ends.  To a child summer is a special time.  No school, slower life, bikes, beaches, sneakers and flip flops.  A time that adults still feel that magic.  Time for vacations.  We can take vacations anytime of the year.  But summer vacations and summer reading are the best.  A time to read anything.  Classics, romance, westerns.  Yep, summer reading is for pure enjoyment, to sit back with a big glass of lemonade and become a part of the story.

Oh and summer movies.  Plenty of time to sit back with a bucket of popcorn and watch an action adventure, or maybe a romantic comedy.  Sigh, summer is my favorite time of year.

Technology may have me stumped, and heaven knows relationships certainly have been way more difficult then they should be.  OK, I did have a relationship for 25 years with one man.  And we did have plenty of amazing summer vacations.  But that is another part of my memories, my past life.  And as all things in life, there was good and bad.  Now that is the past.  And I have no idea how to move forward.  Move on to a new relationship?  Maybe.  I have no idea how to do that.  I have no idea how you know what to do.  How do you meet people?  How do you take those steps, start trusting and living.  I hesitate, unsure, not just about relationships, but with technology.  And why is it as long as you have a teenager you can connect and answer a phone?  But with relationships, something we have formed since that first time our family takes us in their arms and name us and smell in that baby smell and count fingers and toes.  How come that is so hard, and that you have to do it on your own.  Or actually together on your own.  

All I know is that I bent over and pulled weeds with my hands, in my new high tech gloves.  And I planted plants and watered them, and stretched and felt the sunshine on my face and my back and my arms.  And I felt like this is where I need to be now.  This summer is a time to heal.  A time to dig in the dirt, to grow, to heal, to nurture my world around me, and my soul.  And a time to push myself, to use technology to stay in touch and to grow and learn.  


potato salad and baked beans
food of my youth
sweet memories of youth
times of freedom, 
simpler times
But it is now.  And technology can be a part of this life.  This simple summer of healing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A weekend of being together

Friday I packed the toy, put the top down and drove down to Weeki Wachi where I picked up Colleen and on to Gulfport to Billy and Linda's.  It was a gorgeous day for a drive.  We got to Gulfport and my oh my has it grown.  Not that it is a big place, but it is a happening kind of place.  There are restaurants and bars, a real nightlife, with a beach and atmosphere of Key West.  I had always thought of this as a sleepy little quiet place hidden among all the party beaches and big towns/cities.  It is still a quiet little town, but with life.  

It is always wonderful to get to be with Linda and Colleen.  Best friends, and so similar in some ways and exact opposites in others.  That always makes for a memorable weekend.  Linda and Billy took care of most of the arrangements for the Memorial Service.  Partly because they are here where Larry was born and spent most of his life growing up, and partly because they are get it done kind of people.  They live in a beautiful house on the water with the perfect back yard, with cool Florida shade.  That subtropical shade filled with familiar scents and memories of my own youth.  Growing up less then an hour south.  Billy has laid a brick area that is cool even at midday with temperatures reaching for the 90s.  And it looks like a place where an evening with friends would be delightful.  And it was.  We went to Osgood Point to see Linda's choices of where to have the service and the tossing of the ashes.  Plenty of parking and on top of a raised area, that Bonnie, Larry's cousin said was the old salvage dump.  There was a covered pavilion over looking the park with an Osprey pole/nest and two busy parents feeding their two nestlings.  It was perfect.  

Larry and I had raised two ospreys when we lived on Pine Island, Jasper and Jesper.  Jesper we raised from before he had quills.  He sort of turned into the neighborhood mascot with everyone in the neighborhood sharing their catch with him as he grew and then with his mate and the nestlings she raised.  He was always sort of human/bird.  Never completely an osprey, always an "ugly duckling" sort of thing.  He grew into a beautiful, proud, large osprey, but his DNA was not correctly stimulated, and his parents did not have wings or understand the world in the same way as a fishing hawk.  But a 600 square foot house really is too small to raise a beautiful, proud, large osprey.  And I had just had surgery and was supposed to be resting for 6 weeks.  Instead, I spent the time washing osprey poop off of walls until he was big enough, and we had built a place big enough for him on the deck.

The pavilion was perfect.  We had a couple choices to do the ash tossing.  I chose the lower easier to get to boardwalk that went over a break in the mangroves to give us a run of water.  There were mullets, bigger then fingerlings, but still small.  Hermit crabs and the smell of home.  Brackish water that grows brown when it rains.  Easy for my father to get to.  The pavilion was out of the question of him.  But the boardwalk was easy and level and we were able to put him in a camp chair with an umbrella.  My nephew, Nathaniel stayed with him.  It was hot, but there was a nice breeze, and typical May temperatures.  

We placed the photos on the canvas boards that Linda and Colleen had bought.  Each of them had an easel to put the collages on.  So we were set for Saturday.  We had dinner in a Greek restaurant and typical of a small town, we weren't there 15 minutes before someone they knew came up to say hello.  Then Colleen and I headed across the pass to the beaches to stay with her dad for the night.

What a lovely man he is.  Six daughters, and the oldest and wildest, Ms Colleen.  She is a treasure, and I am sure from the stories he told of her growing up, a challenge.  He is retired military and then retired again from the Federal government.  He was, actually still is, a pilot.  Well he maintains his pilot license, but he does not have the medical requirement to be ale to fly.    But his words fly in and out of stories from all over the world, all told with fondness in tone of one who has lived his life.  Stories of his daughters, of flying of work and love and being retired and dealing with challenges of illness.  Such a pleasure to have spent the little time I got to spend with him.  He absolutely adores each and every one of his six daughters and his grandchildren.

Saturday we were at the park by noon, had everything set up in no time, and rearranged again as we learned about the breeze and the last details to get all ready.  People started arriving just after us.  The first were Jerry and Jeannie.  Dear beloved friends from Ft. Myers.  They brought love and hugs from so many friends in Ft. Myers unable to come.  I have not seen them in too long, and it was so good to wrap my arms around that girl and just hug her.  I referred to her as "Larry's private stripper."  She was confused because she had never stripped for him.  That is true, but both Larry and I loved the fact that she was just so comfortable with herself, and even though we knew her at the end of that career, she was the only person who did that for a living that both of us were friends with.  And that girl to this day just has that something about her.  And even though Jeannie and I were closer friends and Larry was closer to her sister Christine, Larry adored Jeannie.  Everything about her.  

It did not take long until people were gathering and remembering old time, talking about Larry and the park and growing up here.  How is so and so?  What are you up to?  You look great!  Words said with smiles on an occasion of letting go and saying goodbye.  Words said as arms were wrapped around necks and waists, hugged deep and strong.  Cathy, Larry's first "wife" was there.  They were never actually married, but were together over 10 years old, and even years after Larry and I were married, there was still a spark between them.  I always loved that spark.  Living with Larry was always the wonderful, but challenging.  And she was the only person in the world that understood it in a similar way as I.  And even though they had gone their separate ways.  Each finding a love that lasted, they still always cared for each other.  That is a special gift to be with someone that can still care for another.  They did not regret or wish for a different outcome.  They both found a deep love that was the right person, and it was never uncomfortable to be around each other.  Cathy and her husband, Ollie, lived on the other side of the canal from us, about 4 houses up from us.  So we passed each other daily.  She looked wonderful. 

Bonnie, Larry's cousin was there and she and I threw out the ashes together on the boardwalk.  It was wonderful to have her by my side then.  She was one of the five people who said something there on the pavilion.  Billy was our master of ceremony, in a matter of speaking.  He and Linda had brought a CD player and some CDs.  When Billy put on the Over the Rainbow sung by the Hawaiian man, that was the single for everyone to get into their place for the ceremony.  Then Billy welcomed everyone, and Colleen read a poem.  Then Billy read a poem.  By that point, everyone had tears in their eyes.  Bonnie read a letter from Calvin, her brother, and even though they were Larry's cousins, he was always closer to Bonnie and Calvin then his own brothers.  Carl and Sandy were much older then the other three and they really grew up in different worlds and generations.  Jerry, Jeannie's husband told stories from Ft. Myers apologizing that he had only known Larry for 25 years, which made us all laugh.  So many people had known him their entire lives.  Playing little league together, getting in trouble in school together, spending time at the marina there.  Jerry told stories about throwing chicken wings at Larry's head.  You had to be there, but we all understood.  The last person to speak told of having a crush on Larry since before she was in kindergarten, and that she still had that crush to this day.  

The breeze died back, and the tide flowed under the boardwalk, perfect for sending Larry on his way.  We each poured our bags of ashes into the water and everyone else tossed roses in with us.  The ashes swirled and played with the tide then settled down into the deep rich nourishing muck or flowed along with the water.  Roses strange but beautifully out of place floated near us then slipped away.  

We all turned to our vehicles and headed to Ted Peter's Smoked Fish Restaurant.  They had put the air-conditioned room aside for us, and we filled it.  We filled it with laughter and stories, catching up with long lost friends over icy mugs of root beer and smoked fish spread and saltine crackers.  Ted Peter's brag about the size of their burgers, and with good reason.  It was the perfect ending of hellos and goodbyes.  Of sending off a friend that brought us all together from so many different places.  Together to say good-bye.  To say we love you, now go in peace.  Time for us to shut that door.  To hold him in our memories and as Calvin said, to remember the good times, because they were what Larry was really all about.  Love, life and happiness.  Jeannie led a toast to Larry.  

She also gave me a bag of presents and things that make me smile.  A bottle of merlot, a throw with bright 1960 style flowers on it, a slinky, a ladybug bag holder, a color it in velvet coloring sheet, and a hat.  It made me laugh.  It was like a hug from her all over when I got home.

And as we got in our cars and drove in our separate ways.  Friends of both of ours.  Dearest beloveds that like Sioux, I had just seen a week ago, and others that I had not seen for maybe 10 years or more.  And we drove off, with smiles and memories, just made and just remembered off from the familiar scent of Ted Peters.  The smoke house smoking the mullet and salmon and other fatty fish.  But more then the smell of wood and fish and burgers, it is the smell of childhood for so many of the people there.  And even for those of us who did not grow up with Ted Peters, we had own our version of the same type of place where we grew up.  It was the perfect way to end this day.  A reminder of how similar we all are, and how comforting it is to come together and remember that.

Dad, Christopher and I drove home over the skyway.  I drove over the skyway in a convertible with the top down.  I was terrified of the old bridge.  An irrational fear of tall bridges.  It is irrational, but it is very real.  I have worked hard to suppress it so that it does not hold me back from going where I want to go.  I still prefer to find another way, even if it just means someone else driving, to avoid driving over these type of bridges, but this time, I drove over with 2 of my favorite people.  

I dropped Christopher off at home and made arrangements for everyone to come to dinner at dad's at 6.  Just prepared food from Publix, but the opportunity to get together as a family and talk and laugh.  A supportive family that supported me this weekend, like they always support me.  They were there for Larry and for me.  Sharing their love and strength with me to do this final act for Larry.

We were all tired, and the family left early.  That gave time for Dad and me just to sit, talk, and watch TV.  Well, the TV was on, but I don't know what shows they were.  Dad told stories about his and mother's summers at Culver Military Academy in North Carolina.  Some of my dad's happiest years were spent there, and even though he has told me so many stories of this place, there are always new unheard special little nuggets that catch me a little off guard.  

My father loves me dearly, and my cancer is so hard on him.  But it has helped him to express his feelings for me.  As loved as my brothers and I were, our parents were not big huggers and kissers.  They were a little more reserved with us.  Not to say that we were not hugged and kissed.  But we were say more what you would expect out of an English family versus say an Italian family.  

As the only daughter, I grew up adored as the only girl child, and I always recognized that love.  I still feel that deep connection with my family.  That relationship not based on similarities and friendship, but of blood.  That sense of belonging, regardless of how different in temperament.  That indescribable connection in our DNA that says to survive, you must cling together, recognize your clan, your family, your cave.  

After dad and I had breakfast, I stopped by briefly to see Christopher before heading out.  Then with the top down, I pointed the toy north on I-75 and drove.  Home, heading for home.  Heading away from home.  I was in that in-between place.  In between my family and home, where roots are strongly planted in a house that my parents moved to nearly 60 years ago.  Where I still have a bedroom.  In-between where I have chosen to live.  To where my boys, Harry and Bob are.  Where my chickens scratch and cluck and my bunnies eat my garden.  Where the cats wait, the flowers bloom.  My bells hang and where I sing and dance and plant seeds and live my life.  Where my "family" of dear beloved friends live.  

A weekend to remember how much we love and share with each other.  A weekend to remember our roots, and unconditional love of a parent and child.  A deep long lasting love of a wife and husband.  The love and support of family and friends as close as family.  Of friends made through the love of another.  Of cherished people and love, held through challenges and laughter, that continues on through generations.  That even if not so often done, relationships celebrated and remembered for beginnings and endings.   Marriages, births, deaths, grandchildren and places that change and some that remain the same.  Memories filled with smoked fish spread and root beer, hunting through salvage dumps filled with magical treasures, of little league and first grade teachers.  Of being adults and our parents children.  
Beginnings and endings.
Laughter and tears
Life is wonderful
And I am so grateful for this weekend, for the time with loved ones, and the time alone to just drive.  To put the top down and drive.  Familiar roads leading in-between lives and worlds.
Beginnings and endings.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Egg Hunt

I was awaken at 3:00 am this morning with stomach issues.  They continued until mid morning so I stayed home.  I had plenty to do today and work I had brought home.  And I thought it could not hurt to take it easier today then to fight against this stomach thing and then tomorrow I hit the road for the weekend south.  The memorial service and then time with dad will take a lot to get through, so for once I was smart and did not push it.  
sometimes I learn.  

I did feel better late morning and stopped by Isabelle's for a quick visit and then drove into Tallahassee to pick up a couple of birthday presents.  So errands run.  I still need to wash and vacuum the car, but I think I will do that before I leave town tomorrow.  This afternoon I got some chores done around the house.  I got to see Ms Judy and Ms Denise.  They were on a short vacation down to Disney earlier in the week and they brought me back a pin that is the Micky head and ears, with the head a peace sign.  I love it!!!

Then I went out to the old airstream.  I have two airstreams.  One that went through Hurricane Charlie.  It looks pretty bad, but airstreams are pretty darn amazing.  It had trees piled up on it so that you could not see it, but it did not leak.  Then I packed it with belongings and had it put up on a low boy and brought up here.  Unfortunately when they were driving it off the low boy, the wooden ramps gave way, jack knifing the truck to the trailer and damaged the trailer pretty good then.  But it is still fine for storage and has a lot of things that I have not gone through since I moved here.  That is one of the things on my to do list after I retire.   I still plan on using it for storage, but I would like to go through it and through out or donate a lot of the stuff in it, and then repack it in a better order.  That way I can clear out boxes in the barn so that eventually the barn can be used as a shop.  I quickly went through boxes and pulled bags and sleeves of photographs.  I brought them into the house and went through them coming up with about 2 dozen photos to take down to the Memorial Service.  More then enough, and Colleen and Linda and I will go through them and pick out the best.  It was fun looking through all the pictures we took on all 3 trips to Alaska.  And there were photos from our trip out west to Seattle and we ended up in Canada and went to Buchardt Gardens.  Even the photos are amazing with how many flowers there were.  I swear they have more flowers in that garden then anywhere else in the world.  There were pictures in the redwood forest, the petrified forest, Nova Scotia, New Foundland and Prince Edward Island.  Photos from Route 66, Honduras, Key West, the Bahamas.  Larry and I drove in and through 49 states, somehow missing Vermont and Hawaii.  And there are photos of mountains and valleys, waterfalls, rivers and lakes, flowers, trees, ferns, signs naming famous places and camping in quiet secluded forests.  We did travel.   And now I have some of the best pictures of Larry from that life to take to the Memorial Service.  Linda thought it would be nice to have some photos on art boards so people could look and remember  that Larry.  

I have roses to give people who come tomorrow.  I also have rose petals from my yard to throw out with the ashes.  Larry loved sitting in the yard and I think it is fitting for some of the flowers that surrounded him here will go with him.  I have my camera and plan to take pictures of the event and all our loved ones that will be able to come.  

As I was looking through the photos I heard one of my chickens doing the egg song.  Chickens sing this song when they lay an egg.  It always makes me think of them saying, "look at me, look at me!"  "see my beautiful egg?"  "Attention, Attention"  So I slipped out and followed the song and there in my brush pile deeply hidden in the branches with pine needles pushed here and there to make a perfect nest were about a dozen and a half eggs.  I took the ones on top and left about half of them.  The ones I left had obviously been there for some time in that they had brown pine needle stains.  I hope that as long as they are allowed out that they continue to use the nest.  But now that I have taken some of their eggs, I am not sure that they will use the nest again.  I am going to start locking them up because they are making a mess in the barn, and digging up plants and when I am gone to Europe I do not want them loose.  It will be easier for Denise and Judy to watch them if they are in their coop.  And then I can open up the door in between the 2 coops and let the pecking order begin while I am still here and can intervene if it gets too rough.  I am thrilled though to finally find the eggs.  I placed the gathered eggs in a bowl of water, one almost sort of floated, not really, but it was not quite as heavy as the others, so the dogs got it.  It was fine, and the dogs enjoyed it thoroughly.  I have missed my fresh eggs.  Later this summer I will have eggs coming out of my ears when the baby girls are old enough to start laying, but right now I have actually had to buy eggs.  They are just not the same.  I love my hens even when they are too old to lay any longer, but while they are, it is disappointing when I can't find them.  And then I worry about predators finding the eggs and then going after my chickens.  

But this was a very clever place to lay their eggs.  I have been looking and looking and never saw it before this.  And it was hard for me to get my hand in there, I have no idea how my big fat beautiful hens get in there.  I love big fat chickens.  I love big dogs, and fat cats.  Harry is big, Bob is big for a dog, but not for a Lab.  And none of my cats are fat. Really, even my Manx, Henry who could hold a little girth, is not fat.

Well, now to make a birthday present.  This coming weekend is also a sweet lovely young woman who I love so dearly, and I can't say who she is or what I am making, but I need to get back to it.  I hope she likes it.  

And it is getting hot.  Oh, yes, it is getting hot.  And it is summer, so it is supposed to be hot.  I need to water more, and I need to move some of my plants into the shade house so that they will get watered everyday even if I am not here until I can get them moved permanently into their new homes.

It was a good day.  A day of accomplishments and rest.  I got things done I needed to do, and that has taken a little stress off of me.  And I look forward to retiring and taking up more of these things that feel like they have made their home on my to do list.   It is spring, even though it feels like summer, and for many of us it stirs our DNA and says, "Spring cleaning"  I see that Ms Moon over at Bless Our Hearts that she too feels the pull to clean out and make room.  Does this go back to our roots as humans when we would move each summer season with the food.  Packing up our belongings and following the herds, moving through the areas where fruits, berries and edible roots and veggies were gathered, eaten and preserved for the winter months.  I don't know, but it is spring and I too feel that pull to let go of things.

Of course I have additional reasons to go through things now.  I don't want to leave too much for my brothers to have to deal with.  I am not foolish enough to think that I will not be leaving them with some things to deal with, but I would like to keep that to a minimum.  And we have a wonderful thrift store for the humane society here and I will donate the best of that which I want to get rid of there.  Mostly I want to go through my books.  I have two addictions, books and plants.  And some of my books I can give to the library for their book sale, but there are others, old friends that I miss. I want to visit again.  When we lived on Pine Island I had book shelves everywhere.  Running completely around the entire house about a foot and a half below the ceiling were book shelves.  The bottom of the shelves resting on top of the windows and door frames.  I can't do that here, and I don't have enough shelves to house all of my books, but I do have room for those old friends that I can not part with.  The others, hopefully will raise a little money for the library and give people an opportunity to own a book they love.  

So back to work, it has been a good day.  My hair, seemed to fit a little better.  The shock of the cut fading.  My stomach is still fussing at me, but that is nothing knew.  And honestly not that big of a deal as long as I am considerate of my body.  Slowly I am changing.  Slowly I am starting to understand that walking it off may not be the best idea all of the time.  I am learning that I do not have to go out at dawn and work until sunset.  Taking a two hour lunch sitting on my porch and reading a book is a good thing.  Little lessons, just little thoughtful actions, sometimes makes such a difference in a happy day.  
A happy day.
A good day.
A day of little lessons.
Yes, a good day.
And I found the eggs!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Forty three

It was 43 degrees this morning in Tallahassee.  43!  May 18th, Florida.  That is just not right.  Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of people in town who are loving this.  

I am not one of them.  

As a rule, I do not complain about the heat.  I like it hot.  I like it humid.  I am an Entomologist and many insects like the weather just like I do, so that works in my favor.  And having lived in Florida my entire life, enjoying the heat and humidity has always been a plus.  43 is below 50.  I feel the right to whine when it gets below 50.  

I actually considered one time, quite seriously of moving to Wyoming.  What was I thinking?!???!!!!  Fortunately that did not work out, and instead I ended up moving to Key West for a couple of years because it was the warmest place on the map the day I had to choose my first teaching job.  I even thought about living one full year in Alaska to experience the whole light/dark thing and the temperatures and how do people live for half the year when it is colder then I can imagine.  But then I realized what a dumb idea that was.  Most of my friends from Alaska do not live there in the winter.  They head to Hawaii or down in the lower 49s.  I mean really who was I kidding?  This is as far north as I have ever lived, and I have to tell you that there are days when I simply do not leave the house.  And we are talking Florida here folks.  

So 43 was cold for me.  Very cold.

But it has warmed up and actually turned into a perfectly beautiful day.  And it is supposed to be gorgeous for the next week.  In other words it is going to get hot again.  

And yes, I do start to look toward that first cool down in the fall after a long hot summer, but with mixed emotions.  The coolness changes the light and the green of the plants and the gardens come alive again after the heat and stress of summer, but it also signals that winter is on its way.  Cold is on its way.  

I like to take a vacation in the fall up north.  It sort of reminds me of what is coming and helps me prepare for the cold.  It is also a way to extend the summer.  By putting off my "summer" vacation it is like it extends the summer a little longer.  And then to head to St. George Island, to the beach after the summer crowd leaves is one of the loveliest simple pleasures of living in the "north". 

It has been a long week.  It feels like it is flying by, and yet it is only Wednesday.  Ms Moon and I were talking only yesterday about how fast time was moving and then laughed at ourselves when we realized it felt like Friday, but was only Tuesday.  It is just a weird week.  Weird temperatures, weird time, just weird.

Last night I was invited to a full moon meditation at my friends Janak and Geeta's house.  This is the second one I have been able to attend.  Last month was lovely, although schedules meant that we were not able to meet on the full moon.  And there were just four of us last month.  It was a nice time, being quiet with friends and then sharing a meal, eating and laughing together.  

This month there were 10 of us.  That includes Janak mother, whom everyone calls Bah.  I love Bah.  We don't speak the same language, but she is just so special to me.  Bah is found of me also.  I think that is because she knows how fond I am of her, and her cooking.  She can make a dish I call stuffed vegetables like nobodies business.  It is my favorite and Bah has made it for my birthday on several occasions.  

I had not met half of the people attending until last evening, and they were just lovely.  Interesting, accomplished people.  People who came to this country by choice as adults.  People who have a piece of their heart still in India.  Family there, memories of childhood for many of them.  We all sat around the living room and did a little chanting.  I love chanting and gongs.  It just reaches inside of me and I feel it.  Like vibrations moving through me.  Then we meditated for 20 minutes.  Geeta played a tape that every once in a while a calm soothing woman's voice would say a few words of encouragement and about breathing.  After the meditation we stretched and talked and got to know each other a little bit while some busied around the kitchen trying to find a way to put all of the food on the table.  Oh my, what wonderful food.  And we ate and ate and talked and laughed and then it was time to head home to bed and to sleep.  Next month the full moon will be while Dad and I are in Europe.  I will try and find a little time to myself that evening wherever we are to sit quietly by myself and breathe and meditate and think about my little group of friends back here sitting around together and doing the same.

So my hair has been growing out.  And I had never thought about it before, but hair does not grow the same all over your head.  One side of my hair was much longer then the other.  The top was longer then the sides, the back curlier and completely different color and length then any of my other hair.  The top is wavy and whiter, or was.  I had no idea what I wanted.  I just knew that it looked like someone who had lost their hair and it was growing back.  But unfortunately I do not speak hair dresser and I make it so hard on anyone wanting to cut my hair because I don't know what to say or how to ask for it to be cut.  They say, "bring a picture" .  Well, I don't know what my hair is doing to know what picture to take.  The top right along my hair line had lovely waves, almost curls.  The top grows left then right and in every direction but the same.  So I went to the person who has consistently cut my hair the best.  She did her best this time, but honestly, a lot had to come off just to take off the dryness from the meds and to get it all close to the same length.  But it is short.  Well, the front is short.  She left a lot more length on the back.  And with all haircuts it will take me about a week to get used to it.  That is probably why most of my life I just let my hair grow.  For most of my life my hair was to my waist or longer.  Now it is about an inch long in the front, maybe almost twice that in the back.  And it is cute.  But all of the wave and almost curl on the top and side is gone.  It is a good cut and I know it will grow in well.  I had hoped to just shape it up a bit and keep the waves and curls, but they will grow back.  I just wanted my hair to look nice for this weekend when I see my dad.  This will be the first time he will have seen me since my hair grew back.  It is almost as short as he might have seen it before.  But it will grow out.  And she gave my hair a good cut and maybe we both have a better idea of what I want.  I really don't know what I want.  I want it to be what I consider short, which is not as short as a hair dresser thinks is short.  I want it easy, and who doesn't?  And I want it to be flattering and have as much wave/curl as possible.  She suggested that I might want to let it grow out a bit and get a perm on the top.  No, I know I do not want to deal with a perm.  I have tried perms before, and it just does not work for me.  But we will figure it out.  She is slow and careful and tries so hard to listen and then give you a beautiful cut.  And she is funny and sweet and we laugh and talk as she snips and trims.  She is a dear friend.  And worth driving all the way across Tallahassee to as far west in Leon County as I think you can go.

Then I came home and took pictures of the hydrangeas.  This garden is a triangle shaped garden with hydrangeas, crinium lilies, hostas and native gladiolas.  I have maybe 8 hydrangeas in the garden.  One is white.  Beautiful clean, bright blanco.  Then there is an oakleaf hydrangea that the flowers open white and fade to beige and then pink.  Big spikes of flowers.  There is one lace cap that is blueish.  And one "red" one.  The rest are those that change color depending on the PH.  I swear there is every shade of blue, pink and purple.  Well, here are some photos so you can see.

Standing in front of the garden and seeing all the different colors.
It is breathtaking.  I need to cut the plants back severely this year.  I hope to 
do some air layering and maybe try some cuttings.  If I am going to cut it
back, I might as well propagate them.

Tomorrow I have so many things to do.  I need to get birthday presents, finish going through
photos, pack and get the house ready for a few days gone.  

It is finally here.  Larry's memorial service.  So many of my friends are so worried about me.  I think, "I have cancer."  I have handled that pretty darn well, and I am stronger then they realize.  I hope they give me the space to be strong.  I appreciate having hands and loving arms waiting to catch me, but give me the chance to see if I can stand or if I will fall.  I know it will be hard.  It will be hard for all of us.  OK, he was my husband and yes, we had a connection that no one else had.  But most people there will have known Larry for 20 or 30  or 60 years.  This will be hard for all of us.  To let this person who was so full of life go.  To free his ashes to the wind and water.  To give him back to the environment he was so a part of.  To send his ashes off from the land his grandfather pulled off the bottom of the bayou and made into a marina, now a park.  A life, a future, a way of living off the land and the water.  I hope Larry has found the peace that evaded him the last part of his life.  I hope that it gives us left behind the peace we need to let him go, and to move past the turmoil and upheaval he brought into our lives these last few years.  He gave us laughter and joy during his life, and hopefully we can get that back.  
gratefulness for our lives and choices
gratefulness for closure
hope for that peace

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Last Show

Let me be the first to give Colin's line:  "That is all?  Why don't we take it on the road?"  Colin would say that every show.  And we did one time.  We took Later Life to Milton, Florida.  Yee-haw!  To the biggest stage and theater you could imagine.  And this at the local high school.  Milton is much larger then Jefferson county.  There are about twice as many people that live in Milton as in all of Jefferson County.  I like Jefferson County just fine the way it is, thank you very much.

But back to Colin, "We've put in all this work and did all these rehearsals, six shows is just not enough."  He is right it is a lot of work for 6 performances.  But our fun is done.  We earned good money for the Opera House and today we will break the set.  I miss Colin.  

Last night's show was the best of shows and the worst of shows.  Best of shows because the entire cast worked together to make everything work and be fun and give every bit the audiences monies worth.  The first challenge came early on in the first act.  I had just done my part of the lights and had needed to pee, but the last 20 minutes or so before the show opens is quite hectic.  We are working the door checking reservations, taking people to the tables, making sure everyone is OK.  Coordinating with the serving volunteers and the kitchen staff.  Making sure the actors have everything they need.  Getting their food and drink set.  Are all the props working and in in place?  Costumes set, makeup on, lights working, sound effects check, piano player taken care of.  Audience ramped up. All done, and then the lights go down and the stage lights go up.

So here I am free for the next 10 minutes and all I needed was just a couple to myself.  I was barely inside the ladies room when I heard a noise I had never heard before.  I stood still and thought to myself, "That did not sound right".  As I washed my hands to get back out there, I heard applause.  I had never heard applause at this point before.  That did not sound right.  I stepped out of the bathroom and saw Judy running behind the Opera House.  I thought I have never seen her do that before, that did not look right.

I found out , that  George, our Thuggee had spun off the stage as he swung his saber over his head.  He made it look very athletic as he tumbled and rolled off the stage onto the floor.  He has been having a fit with his hip anyway, this did not help.  But he walked off the stage in character and continued the play.  And today he was there in the thick of things breaking the set.  I love our Thugbert, mathematician, author, zen leader, haver of anything you can not find anywhere, sweet, funny person.  My "sister" Sioux came up to see the show and she started talking to Thugbert and math comes up as it so often does in conversations and so now I am mailing her one of his books because we all think it might help get her mind in the right place to soar through her last 3 classes to complete her AA.  Three math classes.  Sioux is an artist and an extremely talented woman, but she sometimes feel a little threatened by math.  And who of us hasn't?   Remember 3rd & 4th grade learning the multiplication tables?  Rote memory is how they taught us.  And that left a bad taste in the mouth.  But Thugbert's book will help her to see math in a new light.  A common sense, why it is done the way that it is.  I mean really talking about math.  It is very cool.  And I know it will help her.  Thanks Thugbert!!!  He is self published and the price of the book is so reasonable for the perception change it gives you about math.  If anyone is interested in talking to this Author about his book, I will try and hook you up.  If you have someone in your life struggling with math, this is a wonderful present to give yourself or your loved one.  And that is an unpaid commercial.  Let me know and I will find out from George if I can post his email address, or how he would like to get in touch with people.  But once again, I digress.......

Back to the play........between acts 1 and 2 Mystic got sick.  And in between each act sicker and sicker.  It looked and sounded like food poisoning.   And she was as sick as anyone I have ever seen with food poisoning, The cast got together and went over the dialogue and reworded it so the Mystic did not have to say anything at all.  If she could just sit there then they could get work out the dialogue.  They also left her the opportunity if she felt well enough to give her dialogue.  I can't tell you how proud I am of them.  They are an amazing team.  I have worked with a lot of casts and we have been close.  But I never used the term "team" before this cast.  But that is how they worked. And it was genius.  The Mystic insisted with "On with the show"  and made every entrance on time.  She looked sicker and sicker on stage.  She lost one of her contacts that turn her deep brown eyes into blind eyes.  That made her look even more "mystic" and crazy.  She could not focus.  She could barely hold her head up and when she was not on stage she was being sick.

I wanted to say, "give me your wig and your robe.  I can go in your place and the cast will do the lines."  But I saw the look on her face.  She felt like she was letting the cast down.  And there was no way I could possibly convince her otherwise, especially if I tried to wrestle her part away from her for her own good.  The idea of doing her part was frightening, but a necessary back up plan.  I kept it to myself.  I stood by and watched her again and again wipe the sweat from her face and shakily walk back to the stage, her dialogue weaving back and forth between her and the rest of the cast.  Each supporting the other.  Each watching the mystic with such respect at her will to do her part.  She did not let anyone down.  She gave the cast the most amazing gift.  To deal with a challenge together, and to share the burden of the challenge together and to make the Directors proud.  To give the audience the show they paid to see.  Because they never thought twice that there was another option then pulling together like ants in a flood, holding on tight to each other and each person doing what they do best to make everyone shine.  I can't tell you how much I have grown to love each of the people in the cast, as individuals as well as a team.  

Each play experience is so different.  Each directing experience adjusted and challenged by your own knowledge, skills and abilities and that of each member of the cast and crew.  But then when you put it all together, you have a totally unique entity unto itself.  That changes each rehearsal and performance on such a vast number of variables.  Sometimes, most of the time, it is an exhilarating experience.  But sometimes you have a cast that is just so big it fractures, or there is one person who does not fit in, or maybe the chemistry is such that the cast/crew just never meld.  But when everything comes together each night for 6 shows and a preshow and you see how much fun they have together, and how they watch out for each other, and together they are working for that applause, not just one member or each for their own vanity.  No when you have a group that grew together until last night when they had the ultimate challenge for a small theater group.  A member of the cast is sick and can not perform, with no one waiting in the wings to take their place, it changes the entire play.  You can not stand up and just go one like they are not there.  There is dialogue and blocking.  One of Jack and Jan's jokes as Directors have always been, "if you die, you are responsible for your replacement."  Is so true when everyone is a volunteer and have really given there all for this night, the final performance.  And they met every challenge and were absolutely amazing.  

After the show they brought out beautiful arrangements of flowers for the 3 directors, Judy and I, and Denise who is our costume and prop director and really every much a director/stage manager during the performance as Judy and I are.  But then they brought out this box of a wind chime with a rocking chair.  Everyone had signed the box.  And the most wonderful wind chime hanging from a rocking chair.  They said it was for my sittin on a porch, which is my email address, and my soap company name, as well as this blogs.  I was pleased and embarrassed by the presents.  And not just any presents, but the most fitting and perfect ones.  As you saw from my header photo.  Yes, that is the wind chime.  I can hear it now just outside the back door with the breeze blowing through my back porch.  And the pink mandavilla looking vine was the last present they brought out for me for my porch.  I love all of my presents, the flowers, the chimes, the plant.  You all shouldn't have, but I love that you did.  And I think the most touching part is that all of the presents were just perfect.  They know me.  And they still let me direct and then give me the most perfect presents.  I am so grateful for this play.  I am so grateful for this cancer.  It is part of who I am, and affects my thinking and emotions and actions and because of this, maybe they got to know me a little better.  They saw my worst side and stayed.  They laughed with me when I could laugh, they made me laugh when I could not.  And they were never judgemental of me, and gave me now some of my most happiest moments to remember right now.

Then at the after party Jack and Jan presented Judy and I each with one of the plants from Colin's Memorial Service.  We had picked this play partly because we wanted Colin in it.  But that was not to be.  But it meant so much to Judy and I to each get our own little piece of Colin.  So special.  Colin I miss you.

Everyone loved the show.  The Caterer made sure that the entire cast had dinner after the show, and Sioux was there and got to be with my friends and see what I do.  She made friends of her own, and I think this was her first murder mystery and she loved it and had a wonderful time.

Sioux and I stayed up way too late, and then had to get up way too early this morning.  Sioux had to get on the road for the 6 hour drive.  She has home work that must be done tonight.  I had a day planned of rest and activity.  I sat at the Camilla Garden Circle table from 12 - 2 with Georgie.  We sold atlas garden gloves to raise money to send kids to the 4H club.  We sold one pair, but we bought some ourselves.  They will make wonderful Christmas gifts, if I can hold on to them that long.  A double gift, a child goes to camp and my friends get wonderful garden gloves. The world is such a magical place.

The Mayhaw festival at Golden Acres Farm was where the booth was.  There were other vendors and everyone was so nice and happy and the weather was perfect rain scrubbed and cooled, the light clear and sharper without all the dust and smoke in the air.  Families with children raced by with the little ones crowing and pointing at the chickens.  Goats waundered through the crowd.  Hay rides drove wagons full of people out and around all the different varieties of goat and sheep.  Bob Cooper and I discussed Lulu and Bunny.  Two baby girl goats they have for sale.  I think Nigerean dwarf goats might be part of who they are.  I told him I could not consider getting any pets until after I return from Europe with Dad.  He said he would hold them.  I said, "No, look for a home for them, and when I get back we will see if they are available or if they have gone to their new homes.  I would like them for goat milk soap.  Bob and Melanie have this 7 page contract you sign when you buy their goats.  No eating.  No eating of their offspring of any generation.  They are to be kept in certain secure situations, other pets must be reviewed, etc.  I like that.  I like that they love their goats so much they want to make sure that they will be taken care of appropriately.  I am not sure if I want to take on goats.  I have had them before.  They are no more trouble then a dog.  But that would be like getting 2 new dogs.  hmmmmm.  I will think about it.  I would love goats in my pasture.  And I love goat manure for my gardens.  

After the Mayhaw festival the toy flew me to the Opera House where we broke the set.  There was a nice turn out of volunteers from the cast and crew to break things down, and it went quickly.  About 2 hours and most everything had been moved back into its place, and now we just need the 2 guys who move the stage for us come carry the stage outside and Virginia Jones and the Curse of Nergal will be another happy memory.  

And I am home and will make a few phone calls to catch up and then hopefully get to bed early  to read and then to sleep and to dream.  I was walking with Bob around the yard this afternoon and looked at my hydranga garden and all the colors of the mass of flowers.  I wanted to get a picture to show you.  Maybe tomorrow, Marina is sitting on my lap and I can't get up.  She is a long story, but I am just going to be grateful that she wants to be close right now, and enjoy it and hope that she does not hurt me.   But I realized as Bob and I walked about my yard that I was happy.  Truly deep in my soul euphorically happy with the weather, my house, my yard, my kids, my life, the play I shared with so many, spending time with Georgie at the Mayhaw Festival.  Selling a pair of gloves to try and send a child to camp.  To see chickens scratching and bunnies slipping through the bushes this way and that.  Bob next to me with the stuffed pheasant in his mouth.  The baby chickens wanting treats as I walk by.  The grapes and figs and pears fruiting in my orchard.  My bells and chimes ringing in the wind and by my hand.  Flowers floating on green stems and leaves overflowing my yard and porch.  And my porch.  The symbol of so many happy parts of my life.  I think I will take my book and phone outside and listen to the chimes and bells and talk to my dad and Vicki.  Oh, yes, and early to bed.  I am happy today, deep down happy,  happy that brings a smile to my face as I realize all the things around me that make me happy.  Happy, grateful.  two words that are so similiar in meaning to me.  Two words that best describe this day, this life.

And I am grateful for the play with its amazing cast and crew.  And for the audience, so many familiar faces coming to all the plays and events at our Opera House.  And for this glorious cool, over cast spring day.  The light almost shaded blue like looking through pale sunglasses. Happy to have seen Sioux, grateful that Ms Moon is home.  Grateful that Marcy and Fred will soon be home.