adventure, childhood, coping, courage, finding my way, life, life goes on, loneliness, memories, photography, unintended consequences

Rolling back the clock…

I suppose there are endless ‘what if’ scenarios I could play out in my head, especially at 69 years old. Lots of water under the bridge, over the dam, forks in the road, and many more cliche phrases apply. But there is something about being alone at this stage of life that has me thinking, wondering, about the person I was ‘supposed’ to be. How did I spend so many years ‘under the influence’ so to speak? I was a spunky little kid. My cousin and I once decided to go for a walk, and set off, a 5 and a 4 year old, having an adventure. We were spotted by a woman who I think chatted with us as we passed her chain-link fenced yard. The next thing I knew there was a policeman on the scene, asking us who we were and where we were going. My cousin must have been much more polite than I was because she told the policeman everything he wanted to know. Not me though. I was mad. I wasn’t lost, and I certainly wasn’t finished having my adventure, so I wouldn’t tell him a thing. But since I lived upstairs from my cousin that was a bit of a moot point. I don’t remember the upshot, what my parents had to say about it, I only remember the woman, the fence, and how mad I was.

I just love that little kid that I was. But I have to wonder, when did I lose her? How did I let her go and never notice that I had done just that? That memory, and there are more from when I lived in that house and was that spunky kid, all date back to before I went to school. Is that when I started worrying about what other people thought, and doubting myself? By the time I hit high school I was quite sure that I didn’t measure up in any way, and spent most of my mental energy on trying to make sure that no one else knew just how out of it I was. I never expressed an opinion, practiced a go-with-the-flow attitude, got married young to hide from the bra-burning women’s libbers who seemed to be saying that I shouldn’t want a marriage and family, which is exactly what I told myself that I wanted, mostly because I thought of it as ‘safe’. Don’t misunderstand, I really was happy, found myself living all over the country and thought that was quite the thing. Enjoyed the heck out of raising my kids, and appreciated the accomplishment of raising them to be the people I’d hoped they’d be. And at work with Charley I had a position of authority that I enjoyed, but I also was aware that I hadn’t earned it as much as I had married into it. It wasn’t a bad life at all, so why am I so unsettled now?

I am an old lady who, now that I am alone for the first time since I was very young, finds myself relating more to the little kid that I was than to all the years in between. No one hijacked my life, I willingly participated. But now what? If you thought that I was going to wind this up with some sort of brilliant conclusion you’d be wrong. All I do know is that I have a vague notion of heading ‘home’ this summer, back to the people and places that I find myself thinking of so fondly. Back to where I was a spunky little kid with my whole life ahead of me…spunky.jpg

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.

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

birds, Florida wildlife, memories, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, photography, Uncategorized

Philippe Park…

I am a New England gal who may not have lived there in almost 50 years, but if you ask me where I’m from that’s still my answer.  And this gal is still a sucker for stone walls.  But when I say that I picture meandering little stone walls that look as if they somehow grew in place.  As natural as the trees and fields they define. They were everywhere back home in Massachusetts, and I knew I loved them, but what I didn’t realize was that they aren’t found everywhere.  I wish they were.

While I was photographing the owls I was also noticing the park itself.  The winding  path at Philippe Park, the path that curved up the hill along side the stone wall really appealed to me.  It certainly doesn’t look random, or like it grew there by itself, but it still did my heart good to see it.  This park will be a place to return to, and I think I’d feel that way even without the owls.2-9philippe62-8Philipe Park2-9philippe5

On my way home from seeing the owls at Philippe Park I stopped to check out the ‘action’ that I heard was going on a lot closer to home in New Port Richey.  I didn’t know what I’d find but what I saw was shrubbery, which was obscuring a chain link fence.  But there was a break in the greenery, and a locked gate with a bit of a gap, and this is what was going on beyond the fence.  I had to shoot photos through the gap in the gate, and that’s when I remembered the suggestion to stick a step ladder in the car.  My friend meant that seriously since the chain link fence is tall.2-9BOMfeature

The birds were rather subdued when I was there, but the day before I heard that there was a lot of mating happening.  And nesting in that very unimpressive shubbery in the water.  It’s hard to imagine what made this such an attractive spot both to Great Egrets and Woodstorks.  I looked up Woodstorks because I wondered why they have such odd, naked heads, and that wasn’t addressed, but I did read that they nest ‘communally’.  So I suppose I now know what that means.  Perhaps there will be new generations of birds here in the not too distant future.  Something to look forward to.2-8woodstork2-8showysnowy

coping, death, dogs, finding my way, grief, healing, life goes on, loneliness, marriage, memories, photography

U R Making me Comfortable…

That Charley wasn’t always a dog lover would come as a surprise to most people who knew him when I knew him, but not to the people who knew him before he met me.  They knew he was a cat lover.  That I had a cockapoo was something to be tolerated, but I can’t say that he was enthused about having a dog in the house.  But Barney grew on him enough that when it was time that Barney had to be put down he initially refused to go with me, saying that he didn’t want to go down forever in family history as the guy who took the kids’s dog to be put to sleep. He must have felt sorry for me though, because he did go with me, and he stopped and bought Barney an ice cream cone on the way.

But while Barney was still with us Charley instigated that we acquire Nugget, saying, “My mother never let me have a puppy”.  He had bought me a necklace shortly before that, gold nuggets on a chain which I still wear every day.  He would say to me, very dramatically and with his eyebrows going up and down like Groucho Marx, “Hey Neem, how’s your Nuggets?”, which the kids found hilarious.  The innuendo wasn’t lost on them.  Neem was a pet hame, if I stop to explain this post will be a mile long.  So we were at the Mall and in the pet shop window was a litter of mixed breed puppies, and upon seen a golden one Heather declared, “Hey Neemie, it’s another Nugget!”  We had her 18 years, I could measure the length of my marriage in the ages of the dogs which populated it.

Last week or so I talked about Charley, memories which had come to me because of this ropeysaliva

picture.  I took this when I first got my iPhone 7+, practicing using portrait mode and capturing Ozzie’s drool.  But happening upon that picture reminded me of when I first met Charley when he joined the dental office where I was working as a hygienist.  He was a brand new dentist on his first job, but even though we were the same age my schooling was so much less that I had 10 years experience in dentistry and he would sometimes ask me my opinion on things.  That anyone would ask me my opinion on anything was quite flattering, but especially a dentist asking me my opinion concerning dentistry made me feel important.  He asked if I had a pet peeve in dentistry, and I did actually.  I told him that what drove me the most nuts was… ropey saliva!  It would wrap itself around the prophy cup when you were polishing teeth and go flying!  That cracked him right up.  He loved that answer.  I wonder if he married me because of ropey saliva.

So, the feature photo.  Charley had been in the hospital a week, and he had become so dependent on the oxygen mask that he was reluctant to take it off to talk, so he was writing messages on the clip board I brought for him.  He had been moved to the ICU the day before, and I had been told that visitors had to wait until 8 AM and that’s when I got there. The nurse told me that he was upset that I wasn’t there at my usual 6 AM or so, but when I did get there he wrote “U R Making me Comfortable”.  He really liked the Arnold Palmer iced tea/lemonade that I had been buying him at Duncan Donuts.  But when he wanted some he wrote Jack Palmer, I assume he was thinking of Jack Nicklas, when he wrote that and I was looking forward to teasing him about that when he felt better.  I never got the chance to do that.

So dogs and ropey saliva, Ozzie has it in spades.  Gleason could drool, but I think Ozzie has him beat.  I may not be cleaning teeth anymore, but I’m still dealing with ropey saliva.

bulldogfaceCruisin' DudesCharleyandOznuggetandnorts

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…

blessings, childhood, connections, coping, death, family, finding my way, grief, healing, life, life goes on, marriage, memories

Lost and found…

I’ve been up since 2 AM, thinking. About a lot of things, but mostly about Charley. Thinking back to when I met him. I was talking with my aunt and uncle the other day and I told them that when I met Charley I had the most overwhelming sense of re-connecting to someone I already knew, someone I treasured and had lost track of. I had found someone who had been missing. And what popped out of my mouth next was something that hadn’t occurred to me in the entire 34 years we were married. That person was… me!

It was the Italian thing. Funny since Charley wasn’t Italian, but he may as well have been. His mother had been raised in an Italian neighborhood in Baltimore, and his step-father was Italian. The first place that we went together was an Italian deli in Baltimore, Trinacria’s, and when he opened the door and I walked in I was stopped in my tracks by the smell of the place. I had just walked into my grandmother’s kitchen, or so you’d think by the smell. That he ripped off the end of the loaf of Italian bread and handed it to me was such a familiar gesture. Something lost was found. I was whole again.

Thank you Charley…