Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year 2020

I have to admit...2019 was actually pretty good to me.

I brought my Mom and sister home to Edmonton, got a new job, great little paid-for SUV, and we paid off our house.

I even got to spend Christmas with both my Mom and sister for the first time in eleven years.

The only thing that didn't work out was writing.

That is something I intend to fix in 2020. Not just because I have work to publish, but because I want that part of my life back. 2019 was kinda crazy, but certain stressors have been erased now, because of everything this past year. There should be more time to embrace and take joy in writing once again.

You know what else I resolve to do in 2020? I'm going to read those books Dad left me on basic home maintenance. Now that the house is paid off, wouldn't it be cool to be able to fix my own plumbing? Install my own floor maybe? At the very least, it should help me know what needs to be done around here, and maybe we can either DIY or get it done without getting ripped off. Maybe we can figure out the problem and repair it before costs get unmanageable.

I resolve to be gentler with myself. Now that I make my own hours, I don't have to push myself as hard. I don't have to get all the jobs done in one day. A little at a time will do. I have a new plan of action. A little bit of work/exercise a day will leave a little energy for other things too. No more work till I drop with major crash afterwards.

I am also going to eat more vegetables. I mean it this time. There has to be a way of making them satisfying and filling. Damn it, I just made myself hungry and all I want is more garlic sausage.

What about you? What are your resolutions? Do you make any? How was 2019 to you?

Friday, December 27, 2019

Strange Days.

What a chaotic year it's been! I'm full of gratitude for it though. Sometimes I've been sad and depressed, but looking back, I've been fortunate.

I got a new job in March. It's got the usual stresses, but there's so many cool things about it. I'm never running late, because I make my own hours. I decide how many hours I work in a day. Some jobs are easier than others, but the more I work at it, the better I understand it, and the better I get at it. (Shout out to Colleen, Marie and Tracy. Heartfelt thanks for your help.) I'm making a decent wage. It beats kitchen work all to Hell, and not just because I can take a break when I need to. I can stop and think, and I can just take a day off when I need one.

Like when my Uncle Duane and I talked my mother into finally moving to Edmonton. We finally got her to agree, and I was tasked with finding her and my sister an apartment. I grabbed a free periodical and found the perfect place in three days. They love it! I'm still patting myself on the back about it.

May came on like a race. Myself, Duane and other family mobilized to move Mom and Jody, and while we did so, Mom signed the paperwork to sell her house. It happened that fast!  I didn't need to beg for days off, because I make my own hours!!

Summer came and went with the warped speed of Canadian weather. That's no typo, the weather here is warped. It rained too much to get a good garden, which is something else I struggled to keep up with, as I got the west end territory for my job. BLISS! I only have to drive five minutes on a good day to get to work, twelve maximum. It's more intense, and more hours, but that means more money.

In September, Mom decided I needed a new used vehicle, because having just our rickety old Dakota for my job wasn't going to cut it. I CAVED. I let her give me the money to buy my SUV. My friend and neighbor named it 'Sophie'. She has personality glitches I've learned to deal with. When I have more time, I'll deal with those, but in the meantime, I love her. We own her free and clear. Shout out to my husband Dan, who talked me into said SUV. After all, if Mom is paying for the vehicle, shouldn't it work for her too? Dad would have been proud.

Then winter came, and with it, a notice from the bank. Would we like to pay our mortgage off? What?! We can just DO that? I had been tracking our mortgage through my phone, and I expected to be finished in the spring, but we can do it now? No penalty?

We went in, wrote a check, and it was done in twenty minutes. Shout out to Scotiabank for making this easy from beginning to end. Shout out to Tracey Morgan who approved us fifteen years ago, and approved us for fifty thousand more than we asked for because she said that people without debts like us would not be happy with a home in the price range we asked for. (We had no idea how much houses cost.)

We are going into 2020 without any debts at all, and in a time and recession like this, I can't tell you how happy I am that we will not have any mortgage payments. I know just how lucky we are, and that we made all the right decisions. Not everyone has that privilege, and I feel strangely arrogant right now, but...

Cherry on top? A friend of mine has a kidney, just in time. It means someone else lost someone before Christmas, but I am eternally grateful for their organ donation. My friend really needed it. She has a huge family and many friends who got another Christmas with 'M', and more time. Yes, I am an organ donor. If something happened to me tomorrow, I'd like to give someone else such a gift.

Where Is my writing is all of this? Hopefully more so in the new year. I'm in a calmer place now that the house is paid off. I no longer feel like I'm in such a rush. Our shelter belongs to us, and everything else, I can work with. Maybe that's all I needed. I'm optimistic, about everything.

I wish, for you and yours, the same kind of confidence I feel now. Please, have a Happy New Year.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Dear Santa,

I had a bad day. So I'm writing, and cuddling cats. I took some vitamin D because it's winter, and a lack of sunshine always seems to make things worse.

Writing gives me a nice escape that also makes me feel better just because I feel productive. I always feel better when I'm productive. I love writing. I cherish it. It makes me feel good to create.

But I can't write like I used to. I miss it terribly. There are two holes in my heart--one for Dad and one for writing.

When my father died, my writing became a source of pain. I'm not even sure why. Apparently, he thought Thoeba was really good. All I know is when I opened a page, and began to type words, I would cry. I couldn't stop. Maybe it was because of the words he'd never see. Maybe...I can say that tears are threatening to surface now.

My Christmas wish is to write again, free of sadness and lingering doubts. No, not the usual doubts--every writer has those, just the 'I miss my father' kind of doubts. The doubts I don't understand.

Used to be, when a bad day happened, I could immerse myself in my writing. It was joyful work, for the most part, and I miss it.

I used to write every spare moment I had. Now I stare at Facebook and cuddle my cats between work, sleep, and eating crap I order in because now I don't cook much either.  Not that cat cuddles are a bad thing.

I'm spending Christmas with my Mom and my sister this year. They're easy to buy for. Dad became easier after I met my husband. I learned what a man wants for gifts.

Favored memory: One year, I bought my father a Navigator Saw. I saw it on TV, and the selling point, was that it was such a small, but powerful thing, it could cut through pipe. I'll never forget the look on his face when he opened it. The first thing he said was, "Did you know these things can cut through pipe?"

Years later: I open a large box. It's a couple of Tide boxes cobbled together by my mom, and it holds a strange black carrying case. I open it to find a Navigator Saw. I look at Dad, who is beaming smuggly. "I liked it so much I thought you should have one of your own. Since you're a homeowner now..."
I've digressed, but it feels right.

So Dear Santa/God/ The Universe...can I have the freedom to write again? Can I have the ability to type without sadness? It's my Christmas wish... since I can't have my father back.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Practicing Gratitude

I often use this blog to vent my hurts, but I'm actually a lucky person. I have a good husband, good friends, a cool sister, cool family, two awesome cats, a pretty cool job I love more and more the better I get at it, and a really generous mom. I'm pretty grateful.

Speaking of which, here's my new baby.
It's a 2009 Dodge Journey
Mom paid for it. Why? Because she doesn't think we should wait for our inheritance when it was clear I needed a vehicle of my own to do my job effectively. Thank you, Mom. You were right, and the universe agrees, because I'm getting really busy.

Have you ever had your instincts kick in so hard, you couldn't ignore them? It happened on a Thursday. That was when I realized I could no longer resist my mother's tempting offer, winter is on it's way. Time to let her buy me the damned vehicle.

I managed to find a car dealership website that didn't ask me personal financial questions before they let me see their stock. Sweetheart Motors.

It was on the south end. I hate driving the south end, but my gut told me to check it out. I wanted another little Dodge Dakota, but my husband talked me out of it. Since my mother was buying, shouldn't we get something that works for her? Good idea, and there was a Dodge Journey that was in our price range that looked good.

I went and was DELIGHTED to find out that Sweetheart Motors was owned and operated by women. Whew! If you're a woman who has ever bought a car from a dealership, you know why I was relieved.

Long story short- I ended up buying the exact Journey I was eyeballing on the website, and I am SO HAPPY. It was an easy experience. My SUV is named Sophie and she's better than I imagined. Definitely practicing gratitude here. I thought about my father all the way home--how he would have been proud of me, following my instincts and getting something kinda perfect. The whole process took about three hours.

Then a week later, something happened. I did a job, and came out to the parking lot to find that my key fob didn't work.  'Don't Panic.'  Good advice Mr. Adams. (Author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.)

My jacket and purse were in the vehicle. All I had on me was the dead key fob and my cell phone. I called my husband. He was home from work, but he never has his ringer on. He just happened to be next to his phone, and HADN'T begun to mow the lawn yet. (An hour long affair at our house.) So it was lucky he got my call. Also lucky? He was less than five minutes away. Here is where I mention how grateful I was that I no longer work the east end opposite from where I live.

I get in the truck and say, "We need to go to Battery World." Where is it? Right across the street from where your buddy owned his computer store. And Thank God, they were already open and easy to find. Traffic was minimal.

Guess what? My key fob has a key in it. Who knew? Certainly not me. Sophie is the newest thing I've ever owned.  (Thanks Mom) Anyway, we went back, and discovered that, yes, that was the only problem. I went back to work at the next job, and Dan went home to mow the lawn. Something that could have been a huge problem, turned out to be a minor setback. I am grateful, especially since I can see how it could have gone sideways.

The moral of the story: Being positive all the time isn't always possible. But I believe that practicing gratitude leads to more positive outcomes. If you CAN practice gratitude, do it. It works for me, maybe it can work for you.

Also practice kindness. You might be the only reason someone has to think of something positive. It's hard to practice gratitude if you can't be positive. It's not a switch you can just turn on and off.

Having said all this....I hope this is a refreshing change from me venting on the blog ;) 

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Gift of a Lawnmower

It's my late father's birthday, so he's been on my mind. But especially last week when my lawnmower died. I had a bite sized patch left on my front lawn when it began to putter and hesitate. I held still, thinking it just needed a few beats. The grass was thick and maybe damp, because we've had so much rain this year. Instead of rallying, like it normally does, my mower quit. Long story short. It couldn't be revived.

Hot Rod on the left. Muscle on the right.
I went inside and called my uncle. "Hey Arnie. You know that mower you've been trying to give me for months? Looks like we're going to take it after all."

Then I sat at my computer and cried. Part of me feels silly about that. A larger part of me shoves that notion aside and cries harder for the cherished memory of choosing that mower with my father. He gave it to us as a housewarming gift and there is where I learned how to shop for the correct lawnmower for my needs.

But I didn't give up. Facebook friends offered some phone numbers, business names and endless support. (Thank you!) I just happen to live in shouting distance from mechanics.

Brandon replaced the spark plug and adjusted the float. It seems my mower wasn't getting any gas. I told everyone there that this lawnmower was important to me. Brandon and Chris nodded. Of COURSE it was! It was a beauty. Four and a half horsepower? Hell yeah! Check out the gold sticker, etc, etc.
See the special edition sticker?

I remember the day we bought my mower. I chose the cheapest model, because my parents were paying for it. It was electric, and my father explained exactly why I didn't want one of those. So I chose the least expensive gas powered one. "I know what you're doing," Dad said, "But just because we're paying for it, doesn't mean you should cheap out. You're on a corner lot, and you want something that will last and stand up to a big yard."

It happened to be the second most expensive model, a Yardworks, and I've loved it from day one. It's been reliable and hardworking, and until last Thursday it hadn't ever let me down. But in fifteen years I don't think I really understood that Dad bought me a lawncare muscle car. It makes me a little sad. My father knew that I didn't realize just how 'cool' my mower really was.

I think it's kind of funny. I've learned so much about the qualities of lawnmowers, but it looks like I'll never need to buy one. The men on the paternal side of my family seem to express love by giving lawn equipment.

And I still love my Yardworks. I still miss my dad. I'm also grateful to my Uncle Arnie for another pretty great Lawnboy with Turbo action. Every time I mow my lawn I think of my father. If you're listening Dad? I always always check the oil. I will never forget.
Extra horse for all that speed.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Spartacus Jones is Seven

Seven years old. We think.
It's my sweet boy's birthday, and I am determined to make it a good one. He's an angel, and he's had a hard month. He made a new friend named Luna, and one day she left in a cat carrier and never returned. Sometimes he still leaves a bit of his wet food, and looks for her. It breaks my heart. Maybe we SHOULD get another cat....

But like I said, this birthday will be special. It starts with tuna for breakfast, and new toys. We bought him a new laser pointer and a 'Kicker.' A Kicker is a long stuffed toy filled with cat nip. The cat generally wraps their paws around it, biting and kicking the crap out of it. Thank you Paws Cat Cafe in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for that. It's filled with Meowauna, a blend of Valerian, cat nip, honeysuckle and cat mint--all the good stuff.

Speaking of good stuff, there will be other treats, all day long. There are the Squeezables....That's essentially chicken or tuna flavored baby food in tubes like squeezable yogurt--but for cats. Available at various department stores, grocery stores and pet places.

I still have some cat nip wine I've been saving. The last time they had it was Freya's birthday in December, and I have embarrassing pictures to prove it.
Freya had a bit too much nip wine last year.
I've been growing catnip from seed, and I intend to give them each a bowlful.

When I get home from work, I will engage in The Basement Cuddle. Spartacus prefers the quiet coolness of the basement, and frequently asks me to join him. It is a great bonding experience where we lie down on the downstairs futon and I cradle him until his purrs turn to snores. I will ignore how cold it is down there, and the fact that the house creaks and groans and there are spiders.
Bowl of homegrown nip.

Finally, just when we are all settling in for the night, I will present him with his favorite thing in the whole world.....A roll of paper towel. I will place it on the floor and call him. (I did get video, but wasn't able to download it here.If you want to see it, check my Instagram donnamilward6)

I'd like to say thank you to Paw's Pet Cafe. They do great work getting cats adopted and they also sell the very best cat merchandise. Does anyone know a good recipe for a cat birthday cake...?

Friday, July 12, 2019

Earth to Thoeba: Meowing at the Moon.

Earth to Thoeba: Meowing at the Moon.: That's not Toothless. That's Luna. When I write a heartfelt blog, I always wonder--is this a useful or meaningful blog? Or am I ...

Meowing at the Moon.

That's not Toothless. That's Luna.
When I write a heartfelt blog, I always wonder--is this a useful or meaningful blog? Or am I just crying into the wind and feeling sorry for myself?

This time, I think the answer is both. I've definitely been crying, and I'm definitely feeling sorry for myself, but maybe this can be useful to others as well. This could be more than just purging thought. This could be a story about doing the right thing, even if it hurts. Or it could be a story about the importance of microchipping your cat. Up to you.

Last week, my friend Rita texted me for some urgent help, and she sent pictures. A pretty little black cat had taken residence on her deck. What should she do? Here's where I mention that Rita is severely allergic to cats.

When I get there with food and a cat carrier, the little monstrosity is lounging on her deck furniture, and her kids are loving on her. Food, groom and sleep between the children. Lots of purrs and cuddles.

The story is that the kitty has been hanging out across the street. The neighbor shares his house with his mother, who won't let him keep the cat. He's been feeding her leftover ribs and steak, but can't let her in the house. It's his mother's house, and she won't let him. He put up a crappy sign, wrapped in Saran Wrap saying "FOUND small black cat...." and I couldn't make out the rest. He'd done it in ball point pen. Well, at least he tried.

So kitty wanders to Rita's house and bonds with her children. Rita loves the cat, loves how her children are with the cat. They decide on the name Luna. Rita really can't breathe, or even see through her watery, bloodshot eyes, even though she never touches the cat. So awful, because Rita would LOVE to keep Luna, but her allergies won't allow it.

We make Luna as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, but something must be done. She can't go into the house, neighbor can't keep her either. The weather was garbage and there are local cats coming into the yard because they smell Luna's food.

I wasn't really planning on taking Luna. I wasn't sure if our house was big enough for three cats, no matter how much I want another one. I wasn't sure I could trust my furkids to be nice to Luna. What if it didn't work out? Then what? We'd figure it out. There were options. And when I picked Luna up to tell her she was coming home, she kissed my nose.

I PROMISED Rita's kids that no matter what, I would do what was right for Luna. I rarely make promises--you have to be rock solid with your ability and intentions-- but this was one I knew I could absolutely keep. No doubts whatsoever.

Luna slept for three days. She ate lots, groomed even more, explored, sniffed Spartacus Jones in the face, and slept. She slept and slept and slept. She ate everything on her plate, ate Spartacus Jones' leftovers, (he's a big eater, I think he left them for her deliberately) backed off from Freya's hissing, explored, groomed excessively and slept even more. Shouldn't a kitten sized girl like her be getting underfoot and constantly require supervision? No. She slept.

Today, she woke up and charged around the house. Yay! She's healthy!

I planned on getting her a collar, tags, and a harness. I wrote a grocery list for snacks and booze so I could invite my neighbors to meet her. Just one little vet visit--get her checked out for illness, if she's spayed, and get her checked for a microchip and--

She had a microchip. She'd been out and about for a week, but someone cared enough about her to get her a microchip. All my plans changed.

Here's what happens when the veterinarian technician finds a microchip here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The technician calls the company that monitors the microchips for lost pets, and they get started looking for the owner.

You, the rescuer, have two options

 a) You can leave the cat, and they will take care of everything from there...but you'll never see that animal again. OR

b) You take that pet to Animal Care and Control right beside the Humane Society. It's the same process, but you can ask for a Buddy Number. That means that even though you surrender the animal, you can request to adopt the animal in the event that her owner can't be found. They will contact you FIRST. The process will take two weeks.

It should be noted that surrendering an animal in this city costs $25, so really not much for the life of a cat. Do it. If you intend to adopt that animal, that fee will be rolled into your adoption price.

I opted for the second option. If Luna's owners can't be found, we want her back. Here's what it means to me: Luna will win either way. She either goes home to someone who loved her enough to microchip her. If not, WE will love her and she will still have a family who loves her.

I'm telling you, reader, do the right thing, even if it hurts. Why? Because....IT'S THE RIGHT THING. There doesn't need to be a reward. But you will sleep better at night, knowing you did it RIGHT.

If, in a couple of weeks, Luna comes home to us, I'll write you a happier blog. I PROMISE.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Facebook Friends and All

Two months since my last post? Time seems to speed up as we get older doesn't it? The reason I haven't written isn't just because time is in short supply. It's because I have nothing interesting to blog about.

But this post isn't about me. It's about you. I actually think about you a lot.

I'm thinking about the two divorces. You didn't come right out and say, but I noticed the changes, and the absence left behind by former spouses. You stopped talking about them.

I noticed two long term relationships ended. And when someone healed your hearts and made you happy again, those relationships failed and left you hurt and angry once more. More photos to delete.

I saw the financial struggle, and the difficult fix.

I see the grief for lost parents. Is it three or four fathers this year? A wonderful mother has gone as well.

I see the tired moms, and the PISSED OFF voters, the frustrated feminists.

Two of you are sick and yes, I've noticed your silence. You have me worried.

Someone is planning a wedding, but I don't know why you're upset. I'm still waiting for that PM.

I want to reach out and ask you all, but I tell myself that if it was my business, you would tell me.

Don't think I don't care, I do. But I don't know where to start. There's so many of you. You know how to find me, right? I'm always on Facebook, six days a week. I'm a click away, and you can have my number if you don't already.

If you see yourself here, please reach out. I'm thinking of you

Friday, April 5, 2019

Dear Daddy,

You've been gone for two years now, as of Tuesday. We still dream about you, see signs of you everywhere. The loss still hurts, but your random messages help us through. I see all of your 'elevens', the angel numbers.

Your mother is overcoming pneumonia, at 96 she's still part part sugar, part solid rock. She scares me when she sees you in dreams. I know how much  she misses you.

Your brother Arnold is fine. I watch him especially carefully, and now I can see the ache in his bones when he walks.

Mom and my sister are fine. Today I found them the perfect apartment--only twenty minutes away from me, in a community built for convenience with a bus stop outside and a shopping center next door. There's a grocery store, a clinic, an optometrist, a bakery and much more. The apartment is on the ground floor, so Mom never has to worry about stairs or if the elevator breaks down. Oh, and it's huge!

I have a new job. It's part time and intimidating. I like it. It allows me unusual freedoms--like allowing me to make my own schedule, so I can help mom and Jody move and I can help take care of things. The troll is working too, so we're okay.

Your loss was so painful, so profound. I remember who reached out, and why. Now I use my experience to reach back whenever I can. It's odd how something so terrible can bring so many interesting and wonderful changes. We're recovering. We're growing again.

I'm still trying to write, but these days it's mostly editing. I know now it will be okay. I know soon things will be as normal as they can be in light of the circumstances. I know someday soon, I'm going to breathe again and I'll find the peace I need to create once more.

You may be gone, but you'll always be a part of us. We're already recovering our strength.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Earth to Thoeba: The Goth Returns

Earth to Thoeba: The Goth Returns: The red with the black tips. I'm catching up with Melaida and Rita. Twenty years have passed since high school, but it's so good...

The Goth Returns

The red with the black tips.
I'm catching up with Melaida and Rita. Twenty years have passed since high school, but it's so good to have them close, just so we can lunch together and bounce ideas around. New jobs, new renovations, but for me? I need new inspiration.

"I'm in a rut." I tell them. I haven't written, edited or even opened one of my files in a few weeks. Why?

Is it because I'm tired? Been off for three weeks. Is it because I'm still grieving? No. My heart has settled, and I'm dealing. Is it because it's January, and everything is cold, dark and dreary? Maybe. Everyone around me feels that too.

My birthday is around the corner, and there's a new meme circulating on Facebook. It wants to know how we AGED.

Oh dear God, if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In or Instagram you may have noticed that there aren't many pictures of me. I don't like how I look. I have an oval shaped head. I have acne in my wrinkles and Rosacea on my acne scars. My dislike of sitting in a hairdressers chair means I frequently need a haircut. And I'm bored with blonde, I only keep it now because it's easy--

"You're bored with blonde?" Rita asks. "Do you have a different color in mind? What did you feel confident in?" We talked about the red. We talked about the red,black and blonde and how hard it was to maintain. We talked about the red with the black tips.

Remember the eighties? All those wild hair colors? I remember wishing I could wear them, but I was too young then and I wasn't really allowed. And I wished I could do that now.

"Why not?" Rita asks. BECAUSE, I tell her. I'm almost 47 years old. It's going to look stupid. When I was seventeen, I saw a thirty-something soccer mom in a Metallica T-Shirt, and it insulted my eyes. I knew her too....No way that women owned a Metallica album.
     "People like you can still pull that off." Melaida says. "Some people still have that spirit with them, and it doesn't look silly."

I thought of an old friend of my husband's, who envied my metal shirts. "Why don't you wear them?" He asked. I felt like I was too old for them, I explained. I was afraid of looking like I didn't belong in them. "But you do." He said, "Those are your bands. That's part of who you are."

The more thought I give to all this, the more I became convinced that I am denying my true self. I'm in a rut, because the real me has to bust out. So here's what I did...

Holy shit...I feel pretty!

You know what? It's exactly what I needed. I needed the bright hair and the shouty black lipstick. I realize now, I'm not comfortable with looking normal. It makes me feel frumpy. I don't see me applying for jobs or hanging in pubs looking like this, but it feels good. Yeah, I've grown older, but who says I have to feel or look old?

I can honestly tell you that this is the very first time since I had my photo taken professionally that I've liked a picture of myself. Oh, it feels AWESOME! I feel like I can conquer those worlds I love to blurt through my fingers. I'm excited to be myself again.

If you'll excuse me, my blue hair and I have some snarling, sassy bitches to create.