Lucky Day? Compared to What?

My lucky four-leaf clover

Is it okay to use luck and pandemic in the same sentence? How can this be my lucky day when I am still in lockdown? Those are the questions I asked myself yesterday.

As I took my afternoon walk, I found a four-leaf clover. I must admit, I peruse the clover patches I pass every day, hoping for a sign that things will turn around. It’s silly, I know, but finding this gem in patch of unremarkable three-leafers, made me smile—gave me hope.

After a rocky 40+ days in lockdown, I was full of an anxiety I thought I left behind years ago. Staring my fears in the face the last couple of weeks as I watched people rally with semi-automatic weapons for their favorite restaurants and tattoo parlors to open, I had nearly lost hope. When dying for a haircut could literally lead to death, I decided I didn’t care how nice my hair might look in the casket. C’mon people, one more month of hunkering down will not ruin our lives—it will save them. If these gun-toting protestors are that concerned about their income, I’m sure there are plenty of grocery stores who would hire them. If they truly do not fear the virus, they could do some good during this time, rather than gathering in large groups to spread the infection.

But I digress. I found a four-leaf clover so everything will be alright. Won’t it? This is my sign that all is well—my luck is changing. Right! I’m so very lucky(she said with a hint of sarcasm)—compared to what, though?

Some days as I sit on my deck inhaling the scent of my newly mowed lawn (that only I will see), I feel the familiar anticipation of summer. Will barbecues soon be sending their smoky perfume my way? And, will I be able to crash the neighbor’s party for the ribs and burgers or at least a glass of wine? Or will we still be isolated, watching each other from the other side of the street? Soon we will see just how lucky this four-leaf clover really is.

Sadly, I don’t think that piece of clover will change the trajectory of our journey back to the health of our planet. We will get through this in the same amount of time with or without it but, for me, it is a symbol of hope. I do feel lucky. All of my friends and family are isolated and although I can’t hug them, I know they are okay. We will all be together again soon—I’m just not sure what “soon” looks like. Nor, am I sure what the world will look like but somehow I think it will be a better place when the virus leaves and we are left with the kindness and love we found in isolation.

So, today I’m sending the luck of my four-leaf clover to everyone out there along with the love we all need to get through this.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea

Mom always told me there were plenty of fish in the sea. What she didn’t tell me is that I might have to go to an online dating site to find my own special fish. But, do I? Is this the only way to meet people these days?

Plenty of Fish in the Sea

Over the past ten years, I’ve joined a few dating sites. It’s hard to meet people sitting in your living room. It’s only slightly more likely to meet someone at a sporting event, golf course, book club or bar, so I figured the online thing was worth a try. To be honest, it hasn’t been all bad. I’ve made a few life-long friends, connected with old friends I spotted on these sites and enjoyed pleasant (and sometimes not so pleasant) conversations with men I knew I would never see again. And, I won’t forget the ones who held my heart in their hands for moment, just long enough to let me know love just might be possible. So, this experience hasn’t been a waste of time, but right now there are far more important things on my mind, so I’m done with online dating. I QUIT!

Meeting someone from a dating site right now is like competing for a Darwin Award*. You know, the award they give to people who die as a result of their own actions for doing something stupid! Sure, it cleans up the gene pool but only if we get these dumbasses to die before reproducing. Dating a complete stranger at the height of a pandemic is one of those less-than-intelligent actions, especially if you’re over sixty.

Only a week ago I received a message from someone who wanted to meet me in person. When I said that wasn’t a good idea right now, he said, “Why?” Obviously, he doesn’t live in the same universe as the rest of us. He’s still looking for love (or something like that) in the midst of a pandemic and, sadly, some equally oblivious woman will probably accommodate him. With people like them we will never see the end of this virus-induced nightmare. Perhaps they will eliminate themselves from the gene pool with their dating practices, but probably not before they cough on one or more of us.

So, I’m staying home, writing about my pathetic life and, honestly, enjoying the solitude—most days. Then there are days when I desperately miss my son, my friends and family, my golf outings, my writing group, my casino trips, eating at restaurants and oh so much more.

But, one thing I don’t miss is dating stupid, Darwin Award-seeking men. I’ll keep in touch with my intelligent male friends, ones I met before the world changed. I hope to golf and drink and laugh with these guys, all of whom understand the word quarantine, once this is over. And, I will rejoice in outings with my female friends, too. We, truly, are all in this together.

If I’ve learned anything from this (and, I think I have), I’ve gained an understanding of the power of friendship. I’m sticking to the friends I know and love. You know who you are…

See you on the other side of the curve.

*www.darwinawards.com

My Girl

So tired

Sitting on my couch, isolated from friends and family, I am thankful for the little girl curled up on my lap as I write these words. I know we’re all in the same boat as we navigate these uncharted waters but having a lifeline in this new world of social distancing makes the voyage a little smoother.

My dog, Hanni, is my lifeline. Not that I don’t talk to or text friends and family every day—I do—but having a warm cuddly pup sharing my space helps me through these crazy days. I could go on about the state of the world and the virus that has consumed us, but I’ll save that for another day (and hope by the time I get around to writing about it, it will be a thing of the past). Today is Hanni’s day.

New Face of Diabetes

My girl is almost fourteen years old and is, as my son posted recently, the new face of diabetes. Insulin morning and night doesn’t seem to faze her as she takes her injections like a trouper but, what does seem to faze her is a life no longer as she once knew it. Or, maybe it’s me. She may be adjusting to her dwindling eyesight, lack of energy and her inability to chase the ball down the hallway just fine. It seems I’m the one having trouble adapting to our new reality.

When the sun comes out, I see a glimmer of the younger, healthier Hanni and can’t wait to get her out for a walk. There was a day when she would howl the moment she saw the leash, hoping for a long walk through the grass—so fragrantly marked by the dogs that walked before her. Those days are gone. Halfway down the driveway, she is already begging for a return to her cozy spot on the couch next to me. Is it because she can no longer see the critters in our path? Or, is she just tired?

My girl is wearing down—maybe she’s ready to move on—but for now she’s hanging in there. I think she knows I need her in this time of isolation. We have a pretty good thing going. I’ll keep taking care of her with cuddles, love and insulin…and she’ll keep taking care of me by laying her sweet head on my lap.

Bark at the Park 2019

Pay It Forward

On New Year’s Day, I treated myself to dinner at Rory’s, my favorite bar in Edmonds. I’ve been there hundreds of times in the last ten years, but that night I experienced something new. As I sat sipping a glass of wine after my meal, waiting to pay my bill, I got a big surprise—someone had already paid it. (Maybe I should have had a second glass of wine 😊) I asked who gave me this gift, but my server didn’t have a clue. The person paid the bill and left without word. I guess I’ll never know, but what I do know is that there is kindness in the world after all.

The truth is, I was feeling a bit low after another New Year’s Eve with only my dog to share the festivities. We both have a lot to be thankful for and, honestly, I am fine with a quiet evening of reflection but, with a few exceptions, 2019 was not a year I would care to repeat. My dog would probably agree as she is an old lady now and has taken a sharp turn downward with failing vision and other maladies of old age.

So, I was feeling kind of melancholy as I sat by the window in Rory’s, watching the lights reflecting off the water as the Ferry crossed the Sound. I always feel at home there—it is my “Cheers”—where everybody knows my name. What better place to start a new year, I thought, even as I wondered if 2020 would be any better than 2019.

Who knows what this year will bring, but starting the year with that wonderful act of kindness gave me hope. I was beginning to feel the world was full of greed and hate and bullies (and I still believe there are plenty of those out there), but there ARE good people in the world—probably more than the evening news would have us believe.

I wish I could have met the person who paid my bill and thanked them for restoring my faith in humankind, but it is enough that a complete stranger found it in his or her heart to Pay It Forward.

Now it is my turn and I promise I will repay their act of kindness with one of my own. I’ll be on the lookout for the next person who looks like they’re having a hard day and I will Pay It Forward.

Epilogue–three weeks later: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I want to repay that kindness and I do believe there is good in the world, but as I was sadly reminded two days ago, the greedy, hateful people still exist. I dropped my phone in Las Vegas and when I realized it was gone, I retraced my steps. No sign of it and no one turned it in. I checked “Find My Phone” and saw it was a few miles down the road in the hands of one of the not-so-kind assholes that keep trying to prove that kindness is not the norm. Is it, or isn’t it? After January 1st, my luck seems to have changed, reminding me that no matter how hard we try to Pay It Forward, there will always be those who keep pushing us backward. I still want to believe, so someone, please tell me why I should…

Post Cruise Blues

 Dawes Glacier Dawes Glacier

Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. What did I love most about my cruise? Was it the ice blue Dawes Glacier of Endicott Arms?

Maybe it was the ocean full of whales teasing our senses as they danced around our boat.

Juneau Whale Watching

 

Ketchikan

Was it watching salmon struggle to swim upstream in the icy rivers of Ketchikan to lay their eggs for the next generation? Or, was just admiring a waterfall enough?

It was all of the above and more…

As beautiful as our excursions were, the experience on the cruise ship did not disappoint. Each morning, Captain Alex would greet us over the intercom, wishing us a glorious day and encouraging us to live our best lives—I felt the love as he told jokes and put a positive spin on each new experience, always ending with his signature “Ha ha”. I will even thank him for waking up half the ship to let us know we were in the midst of a northern lights explosion. From my veranda, the show was more muted, but still stunning seeing the streaks and brush strokes of white and green under a sky full of stars.

Days at sea often gave us only ocean waves with no land in sight and surprisingly, the gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) rocking of the ship along the path brought its own brand of joy.

Always get the drink package

Cruising

Sitting on the pool deck with a free drink    (I highly recommend the drink package—I wasn’t driving 😊) sharing the adventures of the previous day with my sister and brother-in-law provided a chance to sit back and appreciate our journey.

I know many people cruise for the food. Although not my main objective, I leave high praise here for the meals and the fine wine. I’m having withdrawal from my nightly shrimp cocktail before my delicious main course—and don’t forget the Cherries Jubilee for dessert.

For me, it’s always a letdown to return to my real life after a fantastic vacation. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for this amazing experience—I know many who would gladly have taken my place—I’m just sad to return to my solitude after sharing space with so many wonderful travelers and crew members. As Captain Alex said on the last day: “You’re going to miss me.” And, I do…

But, there’s more…

My adventure didn’t end when I left the ship.  With only one day to wallow in my post cruise blues, I was off to another big event: my 50-year high school reunion! No time for melancholy  when there were people to see and memories to share. My classmates are all in their late sixties now, but that night I saw the young faces of our high school (and grade school) years. Most of the class weathered the years with grace—maybe it was my filter, but no one looked that old to me.

It was easy catching up with the girls—I had a lot of female friends in high school. Believe it or not, I was a little shy with the boys so there were fewer connections to explore. My most memorable? I shared some nostalgic moments with the boy who offered me a ring from the gumball machine at age four; I hugged the kid who took dance lessons with me (did he know he was my first crush in 7th grade?); then, I looked across the room and there he was: The one that got away….

Now I have the Post Reunion Blues, too…

I Finally Get It: I Don’t Get it

I thought I understood my son’s love for Washington State University, after all, I have always done my best to imagine myself in another person’s shoes. I had empathy, an understanding of another’s plight. But even the most empathetic person on the planet cannot walk in the shoes of a true Coug.

Through Mom’s weekends, WSU graduation and a recent trip to Pullman, I have watched my son’s immersion in the Coug culture. From embracing the crimson and gray (everyone wears the gear over there 24/7), hanging out at The Coug or Valhalla, or just saying “Go Cougs” to anyone with the WSU logo displayed anywhere on their person, there is a camaraderie among this group like nothing I’ve ever seen. I think it hit meIMG_8509 hardest when we went to the WSU home football opener in September as we watched a music video on the big screen displaying all the joy of living (if only for a few college years) in the Pullman family. The key line of the song brought a tear to my eye—more than one in Brett’s expressive hazel eyes—“It don’t matter where we go, we always find our way back home”.  I almost thought I understood, but I don’t think I ever will.

I went to the University of Washington and although I only spent two years there, I have many wonderful (and not so wonderful) memories of my time on the UW campus. The contrast between my beginnings there in a sorority and my final days participating in campus protests against the Vietnam war, is a clear indication of my evolution in my two and a half years at UW. I learned a lot about life there, but I never felt the bond to the school that I see in my son’s devotion to WSU. So, I ask myself today, do I have to be a Husky just because I spent some time there over 40 years ago? This is a question I have been pondering for the last couple years.

And now as we count the hours to this year’s Apple Cup, I must decide where to place my loyalty. I can never truly be a Coug because I didn’t attend classes in beautiful Palouse country. But, sadly, I don’t feel much passion for a school I attended so long ago—Sonny Sixkiller is no longer there, right? I feel a hell of a lot more love for the loyal, passionate Cougars.

So, although I will take a lot of heat from my UW friends, I am here to announce: I am defecting. Although I can never know or understand what a Coug feels, I want to feel as much of that passion as an outsider can reasonably hope for. Sadly, I will never know the depths of WSU loyalty in my son’s heart, but at least I know that I don’t know.

In other words, I finally get it: I don’t get it.

Go Cougs!

Flight Risk

My European adventure ended almost a month ago now—so glad I made it back. Was I worried? Yes! I thought I might be spending my golden years rotting in an Icelandic jail—at least until they deported me to the USA at the request of TSA.IMG_8782

After seven days in Europe with body scans and beepers and luggage sent through x-ray machines—not once but five times—I thought it was clear that I was not transporting illegal explosives in my three ounce shampoo bottles or cocaine in baby powder containers. But, Noooo. The Transportation Security Administration in the United States called their goons in Iceland and instructed them to check me one more time and this time, much more thoroughly. I was, apparently, a flight risk!

I almost missed their call. The incident happened on the final leg of our journey as we were changing planes in Iceland after our flight from London—with less than an hour layover. I was buying a candy bar and a chips to carry me through the seven hour flight home to Seattle (don’t judge me) and was on my way to line up for boarding, which was to start in ten minutes. Then my son gave me the news. “Hey, mom, they just called your name over the PA system.”

Were they going to give me an upgrade to first class? I was feeling pretty giddy as I walked up to the desk, only to find out I had been ‘randomly’ selected for further screening. My eyes were as wide as saucers and I’m sure they assumed I was guilty of something as I protested the search. “My flight is boarding in ten minutes!” I said a bit too nervously. They most certainly thought I had something to hide, but honestly, I was just afraid my son would be going home to Seattle and I would miss the flight. That’s not entirely true; I was also afraid I would be subjected to a full body cavity search and despite my lack of human touch in recent months, this was not how I wanted to re-open that door.

As you might have guessed, I survived the incident. I am not writing this from an Icelandic jail, but from the comfort of my living room. The TSA folks did not make me strip, but they also did not smile as they unzipped and searched my bags, instructed me to remove my shoes and dusted me for drugs. Although I admit I am easily flustered, this was especially unnerving as the TSA employees seem to revel in their authoritarian role. Despite my fears, they allowed me—again without a smile—to proceed to my gate without subjecting me to further humiliation. I guess being an old white woman has some advantages. Those with darker skin and more unusual names likely had a more difficult experience.

So, I survived the scrutiny in the final hours of my trip. I’m happy to say this was the only negative experience of my week in Europe. I will try not to dwell on the stern faces of the TSA employees and remember the joy and beauty of the first one hundred and eighty hours of my journey. Although a few of those hours were spent sleeping, we had plenty of time to enjoy three wonderful countries.

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Table for One – Take Two

I’m back in Whistler this week (my annual timeshare trek) and once again asking for a Table for One.

For many years I’ve enjoyed my alone time up here—time to look within—but for god’s sake, there’s just not that much more ‘within’ that I want (or need) to see. After eight years alone, I know myself pretty well and I have to say I’m a little tired of silent introspection, but I guess that is better than talking to myself—I swear I’m not there yet!

 

Since 2010, Whistler has been my quiet place, a place to watch the sun dance on Fitzsimmons  Creek as it rushes between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains; a place to sit on a bench in the middle of the crowded village and observe human nature; a place to wander the trail to Lost Lake wondering if I might encounter a bear; and, of course for me, a place to travel the green path of the golf course in search of a ‘birdie’.

After all these years, I still enjoy all of those quiet pursuits, but this year the silence has been deafening. I’m ready to rock and roll, damn it! I want someone to share my table, skip down the village path with me, travel up the mountain in search of bears and as night falls, dance under the stars.

I’ve got to say, I have a pretty nice life—lots of friends to share my various interests from golf, to writing, to casino runs, to baseball games. And, I often have family or friends at my table—rarely a table for one when I’m home. But, I’m not home. I’m two hundred miles away, wishing my someone (that special guy who has yet to sweep me off my feet) would knock on my condo door and ask me if the glass slipper fits.IMG_0786

I know, I know. I’m not supposed to show my vulnerability on social media—I’m supposed to post stories to make everyone envy my life and make you wonder why yours isn’t as perfect. Social media is a snapshot of our lives where we try to show our best side, our accomplishments, our humor and our superior intelligence. But, there are times when it might be helpful to speak our truth, to open our hearts and spill our guts. To those of you with perfect ‘Facebook’ lives, I’m happy for you (and a little envious). For the rest of us, let’s enjoy those rare moments of greatness before the inevitable shit hits the fan.

My wish for everyone reading this is that you find your soulmate or, if you’ve already made that connection, appreciate the one you have—or had.

And, if you are my soulmate or you know where I might find him, give me a call. I don’t want to spend another year in Whistler at a Table for One.

 

P.S.  This is a sequel to a blog I wrote in 2015:  Table for One  https://jmaydaze.com/2015/09/07/table-for-one/

Starry, Starry Night

Imagine eight people, six of us senior citizens, lying flat on our backs on a hard-planked dock staring at the night sky. McCall, Idaho was the scene of this line-up and, oh, how I wish I had a picture of our troop as we all turned our heads to the right to glance the crescent moon, then centered our gaze on the sky above us. The bright glow of the moon tempered the vividness of the stars, and still they were more glorious than anything we see in the city.StarryNight

I don’t know all the constellations, but the Big Dipper was clear and from there I saw a sea of brilliant stars poking out from the haze of the Milky Way. As satellites crossed the sky, a shooting star brought a collective gasp from the family of eight. Yes, we are a family although we are not all related—we are connected by distant relatives who somehow brought us all together on this night. When we compared our stories, it seemed impossible that we’d be together one day. Yet, here we were, sharing the same beautiful star splattered universe.

As I traveled into the corners of my mind, the collision of these eight souls in such a vast universe filled me with wonder. I wondered why we had all met, then I realized it didn’t matter why—my mysterious grandmother seemed to be the glue between us—we were together and it was a beautiful night, one I won’t soon forget.   cresent moon

The last thing I wondered on that night, was how we were all going to get our aging butts up from that hard surface without hurting ourselves. Despite our arthritis, artificial knees and hips, I’m happy to say we all arose and spent the next two days enjoying the company of this new-found family.

Thank you, TJ and Kathy for bringing us all together.

Hit by a Bus

Anyone who’s had a near death experience will tell you to live each day as if it were your last. You never know what’s around the next corner. You might step off the curb and get hit by a bus.

AbbeyRoadBus1

Abbey Road (watch out for that bus, guys!)

Life has no guarantees and although the odds of being hit by a bus are rather slim, I met that one-in-a-million person. A bus took his life—not a near death experience, a real heart-stopping death—but, a voice deep within encouraged him to come back. There was more he needed to do.

I can only imagine how that encounter changed his life. I’m sure he looks at his two children with wonder, knowing they exist only because that bus didn’t finish the job when it struck him down so many years ago. And, although the road to recovery was excruciating, I believe the ordeal handed him an appreciation of life most of us will never fully understand.

Before I heard my friend’s story, I thought I was living a full life—but, was I? For years I put off following my passions, assuming I could ‘think about that tomorrow’. But, what if I were hit by a bus today—what would I have missed?

As time passes (so quickly these days), the remaining years become more precious. I don’t have to get hit by a bus to realize the urgency of following my dreams. If I die tomorrow, I don’t want to be glued to my rocking chair. I want to be on a private jet heading to Bali, in New York signing copies of my best-selling novel or playing golf at St. Andrews in Scotland…again.

St. Andrews

Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews Yep, that’s me!

And, if I should happen to meet my demise by bus, I hope it’s while crossing Abbey Road.

The time has come for taking a few more chances—not anything life threatening; I’ll leave the bungee jumping to the youngsters—but I’m ready to dive into the deep end of life’s pool. So, the next time I ponder whether to eat the cake, drink the wine or kiss the boy, I’ll indulge myself. The cake will be loaded with delicious calories, the wine will be held in my best wine glass (the red plastic cups will be saved for the Seahawks tailgate) and the boy I kiss will know my passion the moment our lips touch.

The bus may be just around the corner, but before it hits, I’m all in.