connections, coping, courage, faith, finding my way, friends, gardens, go with the flow, growing old, life goes on, loneliness, perseverance, photography

I went to a garden party…

“I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends,
A chance to share old memories and play our songs again.
When I got to the garden party they all knew my name,
No one recognized me I didn’t look the same.”

“But it’s all right now,
I learned my lesson well.
You see you can’t please everyone,
So you got to please yourself.”

Maybe Ricky Nelson knew what he wanted out of life, how to please himself, but I’m not as lucky.  I have no idea what I want the rest of my life to look like so I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and hope it comes to me one of these days.

I took these pictures at the little local botanical garden this morning.  I was in search of butterflies but the sprinklers were on in the butterfly garden and I guess that kept them away.  But these structures caught my eye, and ‘garden party’ started playing in my head, and then I started thinking, about life and it’s twists and turns.  Maybe ‘blowing in the wind’ would have been a more appropriate song for my current state of mind…5-10HDRshed25-10HDRshed-35-17castle5-17iris5-17tilebench5-17tilerug5-17whiteflowers5-17budda5-17peekabooWhat’s the phrase these days, ‘fake it ’til you make it’…

dogs, grief, growing old, losing battles, memories, photography, responsibility

Decisions…

The vet tech had an explanation for it.  “It” being the fact that the dog I had brought in, the one that had required me to hoist her back end up off the floor every time she wanted to get up for the last 48 hours, was repeatedly getting herself up off the tile floor at the vet’s office yesterday.  It was because even though there were no other dogs there to witness her struggles, she still could smell them, and no dog wants to let herself be seen as the weakest one in the pack, so the adrenaline rush she was having was serving as a pain reliever.  Or so they said.  I had told myself that the thing I didn’t want to do was to take her in and spend a whole lot of money, knowing what the outcome was really going to be in the not so distant future, and knowing that my Zoe was going to suffer while I fought to justify my decision of what to do.  But in the vet’s office she looked like a different dog from the one I’d had at home.  Needing help getting up was relatively new, and while she had needed me to help her for a day or two recently, she had seemed to recover and I told myself that she had strained something and it was all better.  And the confusion in her face when she couldn’t get herself up was heartbreaking.  But she seemed to be in not so dire of a condition while we were there, so it was pain meds, joint supplements, and see her in two weeks.

Except once I got her home she was trying to not use her right back leg at all.  That she was in distress was obvious.  I brought the water bowl to her and she drank, but she wouldn’t eat.  She cried and wanted to get up, so I’d hoist her up, and then she’d stand there not knowing what she wanted to do next.  I thought about how I’d learned to help my mother, and then my husband, when they couldn’t get out of a chair.  I’d lean in and hug them to me, and use leverage to just lift them up.  It worked perfectly.  Not possible with Zoe, and I was already feeling the strain in my back from lifting her.  

I’m writing this at 4 AM while I listen to Zoe’s breathing.  She is finally asleep.  We have been up for hours, she was crying, it actually sounded like a low growl, and nothing I could do for her except sit with her and pet her seemed to help.  Sweet, easy-going Ozzie was determined to put himself between Zoe and me, so I had to put him in the bedroom before he hurt her, or me.  It was the pleading in her eyes that got to me.  Just like when it’s been raining for hours and the dogs want to go out, and they look at me  wondering why I’m letting it rain when they know that I’m in charge of the world and I could stop it if I wanted to.  Zoe’s eyes tell me that she is pleading with me to make it stop, not the rain, but the pain…4-26onelasttime

connections, coping, finding my way, growing old, home, life, life goes on, loneliness, memories, moments, photography, sunrise

Just listen…

“Just listen,” I said for the umpteenth time.  It was so frustrating that my mother was so dismissive of the music I was loving at the time.  Roughly age 15 or so.  It was Simon and Garfunkel for heaven’s sake, beautiful music, and elegant words.  How could she not listen and be moved?  It made me so mad.

And of course I didn’t think it was the same thing at all when I was in the car with my son when he was about that same age, and on the radio came the latest trend in ‘music’, a rap song.  There was nothing elegant in those lyrics, or if there was I couldn’t get past the un-elegant parts to hear it.  I would snap my fingers, pretending to be snapping to the beat, which there wasn’t any that I could hear.  I was sure rap would be a flash in the pan. 

Will that rap music be something he looks back on eventually and feel that it was written just for him, as I am doing now with Simon and Garfunkel?   I found something in their music that spoke to me back then, and, if anything, it speaks to me more now, decades later.  “How terribly strange to be seventy”, they said.  Yes, it is, and I’m not quite there yet so I’m having my moment over it in advance.  It’s a cliche isn’t it, old people’s minds going back, living in the past?  Hanging onto their memories?  Is that what’s happening to me?  Am I Slip-Sliding Away?

https://youtu.be/CeqPTb0DwGw

Bayport, dogs, finding my way, growing old, life goes on, loneliness, moments, photography, sunrise

A new day…

Out on the lanai at 4 AM, enjoying the dark and quiet. Well, not so quiet. The pond creatures were chirping away, punctuated by the low, throaty strums of the bullfrogs. The coffee was ready, set to automatically go off at 3:45 AM even on a day off, because even if she hadn’t set the alarm her four-footed roomies would make sure that she was up in time to get to work. But it was not a work day, and the coffee was good, and hot. To be enjoyed the coffee must be scalding hot. The pond serenade was in full swing, sometimes increasing or decreasing in volume as if a hand was on a knob out there turning it up and down. How they all decide to step it up or down in unison remained a mystery to her, but she enjoyed the mental image of the hand and the knob. The star she thought she saw twinkling out there turned out to be the lights of a far off airplane, but then she saw that there were stars shining dimly, and she knew that she would head out for the sunrise. But that was still several hours away. One of her dogs had been out already, sniffing the air and finding all to be well. They had been enjoying the serenade together, but then the second dog wanted to go out, and immediately headed around front, requiring her to follow, in her pajamas, coffee in hand. There were new neighbors across the street and she wondered what they would think if they were up and saw the old lady across the street out wandering in her pajamas in the wee small hours of the morning. That maybe she was losing it? Was she losing it? She didn’t think so, but how would you know really? And then the wandering dog returned, and the coffee had cooled, it was time to start the day…2-232-23sunrise12-23sunrise22-23sunrise3

finding my way, friends, growing old, home, life goes on, memories, natural wonders, photography, simple things, travel

New England girl…

I hadn’t even gotten the title written onto the page when Charley commented in my ear that I was a girl when Hollywood was a prairie.  That may be true, but what the heck.  My trips ‘up north’ usually result in running back and forth, trying to visit everyone, and not spending enough time with anyone.  Especially my life-long friend Kathy in New Hampshire.  But we had a BIG high school reunion a while back, the one where when your parents had it you realized how old they were getting.  And now it was our turn, and I went to New Hampshire and stayed put, and even then it wasn’t enough time together, we hadn’t run out of things to talk about.  Or places to photograph.  I was seeking stone walls, but found much more than that.  Old chimneys that once had families huddled in front of it, or a pot of stew simmering in it.  “Flower beds’ that would make you smile.  Old red barns, and rocky rivers, not unlike the rocky New England beaches, like Duxbury, that had Charley shaking his head.  Covered bridges, and hints of fall colors to come, but not while I was visiting.  Lake Sunapee, on a perfect day.  And the inevitable stone walls, some of them just outside Kathy’s door.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And no, Ozzie wasn’t with me in New Hampshire.  I was playing with the Superimpose app and, like magic, there he was…

connections, grief, growing old, life, life goes on, live and learn, loneliness, marriage, memories, old dogs new tricks, on closer examination, photography, the big picture

It’s just a number…

Nothing fits anymore. Not my clothes, although I’m not really complaining about that. I’ve taken tons of clothes to donate, and now I need to find out where I can donate all this extra skin. But that’s really not what I’m talking about either. ‘I’ don’t fit. All my life I seemed to know where I stood in relationship to the rest of the people around me. But now that I’m really, seriously, old, I can’t see it. Older yes, wiser no. Is it because Charley is gone? When I was going through life with him and I saw him getting older, is that what made me recognize my own age? Because he isn’t here anymore to provide that link, and I seem to be stumbling around a bit.

It started with a chance encounter with a man when I was photographing the sunset one night. He said that I ought to be dating, that there are a lot of lonely men out there. I responded, “I’m not”, lonely I meant. I told him that I have nice conversations with people every day, and then I go home, and that I like my privacy. And I meant that 100%. What I didn’t expect was that after few more conversations with him over the next several days that wasn’t altogether true anymore. He left to go back home and took my 100% conviction that I was 100% happy with him, and I haven’t been able to resurrect it. So now my chance encounters with people have a different sort of edge to them. The last time I was a single adult I was 20 years old, and I see now that I wasn’t as much of an adult as I thought I was at the time. In a lot of ways I have reverted back to that person, in my own mind anyhow. Maybe this explains something that Charley said about working at Publix at age 63, after having worked at the A&P right after high school and all through college. He said that he felt like he was 18 again, which might have been a good thing, but the problem was that he acted it too. He kept getting sent to the office, in trouble for a remark made to another employee, never to a customer. Not reported by the person he was talking to, but reported by a busy-body employee who overheard him. I told Charley that he wasn’t hired for the comic effect, but he couldn’t seem to resist making a wise-aleck remark when the opportunity presented itself. But you know what? I think I get it now, I get that he would momentarily actually be that 18 year old again.

So you happen to have a nice conversation with the guy who sits next to you in a photography class. Nice class, nice company, feels good. In the moment you are just yourself, a generic ‘self’, just enjoying the conversation. Later on you figure out that he is 13 years younger than you are, and get taken aback. Why couldn’t I ‘see’ that when I looked at him? That he was closer to my kids’s ages than he is to mine I mean. ‘Act your age’, they say. How exactly do I do that? Will I wake up one day and not be able to resist sticking a tissue up my sleeve? Or maybe I’ll buy support hose and start rolling them into little donuts around my ankles. Probably not the best look with capri pants and flip flops. I don’t recognize myself anymore. I’ve lost my place. Age is just a number, or so I’ve been told. Step on the scale why don’t you, then tell me that ‘just a number’ doesn’t matter. I’m going to have to try not to embarrass myself while I figure this all out…

PS… I wrote this a while ago as an ’emergency’ post in case I’m stuck.  And since I was hanging onto the post it gave me a chance to retake the photo if I saw a lower number on the scale.  This is at least the 4th incarnation of the photo.  So there I was at the pool the other day and an 80-something year old guy told me, “Just making it back and forth across the pool is a good thing for people our age.”  Evidently I’m the only one having trouble realizing how old I am…