Monday, January 30, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes

Time on my hands
Funny Retirement Jokes
Relaxing and doing OK

It has been 13 months since I said hasta la vista to the working world.  The days have not always been easy, and I have gone through many ups and downs.  It was hard leaving my job as I loved the company and the people I worked with, but my health was becoming compromised by the stress that I put mysef though. I also knew it was time to hand over the mantle to someone younger who could add new perspectives and skills to the workplace.  Yes, it was time. Funny Retirement Jokes

I began week one with a great attitude and many plans.   I "started" projects that had been on my "to do" list for years.  I found all the tops of my plastic containers, moved around stuff in the basement, and found the matches for many of hubby's socks.  The excitement was overwhelming.  When I told my son about my accomplishments in an e-mail, he suggested that I start a blog about this "fantastic life" I was now living.  I was a little hesitent because I knew nothing about this Blog World, but I thought I would give it a try.  It would be a new adventure and  an exercise for my mind. And, Lordy, Lordy, my mind really needed to exercise.  Who besides my family and some friends would read it anyway and they already knew about my little quirks.   

Cartoon of a Female Jogger clipart
During the next few months, I began jogging, doing up to 8 miles in a day. However, it was my old obsessive self coming back.  Each day I wanted to go further than I had gone the day before and also, in the process, beat my time.  I was causing myself  to stress by doing something that was supposed to relieve stress.  Falling a few times also put a little crimp in my stride.

The winter was long and snowy and I had too much time to stew about things.  I  realized that having shiny clean floors was not going to do it for me. Then spring came around and it was gardening time.   I was sure things would be looking up but when you have all the time to do something you love, it is not as special as when you had to fit it in.   I was wondering if this was the way life was going to be from now on.

Retirement is a major event in life and some take to it much easier than others.  Mine was not an easy journey and I spent far too much time feeling down in the dumps and being whinny.  However, I think I needed to do that.  It was a death to the life I knew and I needed to grieve.  When I was done, I picked myself up and began what I hope will be a new beginning.  This new volunteer job I have is very fulfilling and gives me purpose.  My attitude has taken a 360 degree turn.    I have met new people and I really enjoy getting dressed up and going to a place where I can be of service.  I think I just needed to be needed.

As far as this blog is is concerned, little did I envision a year ago how many people from around the world would read my ramblings about nothing.  I have met (in the virtural world)  and corresponded with so many of you and my life has been enriched.  It truly has been a great adventure.  Thank you all.
Funny Retirement Jokes

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What To Serve; It Is All So Difficult Today

Wine and Cheese clipart
Planning a party, and doing OK

Every year I have a few large parties. My summer extravaganza is for the July 4th holiday, the other, during the doldrums of winter, is held under the guise of being a Superbowl party. Truth be told, I don't give a darned about football, but I do love having a good time with my family and friends.

What to serve is always my main concern. I ask people to bring an appetizer, so that part of the planning is taken is out of my hands.  However, in today's culture of "I am allergic", "I have a condition", "I am lactose intolerant", " the smell of peanuts can send me to the ER", "I am on a special diet", "I'm a vegetarian but eat fish", or "I am a vegan and won't eat anything that was cooked in a pan that meat was once sauteed", can make  a hostess' head spin.  The vegetarian thing, I have down as two of my children have lived that way for many years. I have quite a few recipes where I can substitute soy and nobody is the wiser.  After all these years, no guest has ever left my house and driven to the hospital or called the next day to tell me they are having gastronomical problems.  I put myself in the winning column for that.  I have had some "accidents" with dishes I have served, but they have been very few and it usually have to do with a forgotten (sometimes important) ingredient. However, we serve plenty of beer and wine and nobody has seemed to notice my faux pas.

Every year I have a "Superbowl party pool" where guests throw $5.00 in a basket and answer 25 questions about what they are going to watch that day.  One of the questions is "Will Arleen burn something?" and I can tell you that some guests bet against me.  It's a 5 pointer (where most dealing with the football game are 2 or 3 points), and can determine if you win the $100+ prize.  This is where I find out who my true friends are and who will be left out of the will.  There is a lot of pressure on me to hear that buzzer go off on the oven and this year I know I will be up for the task.  I am also going to set a timer on my cell phone, my new iPad and the egg timer.  I will show them I can have a party that does not set off the smoke alarm.  Bet on me people, bet on me.
Happy Woman Listening to Music in Headphones clipart

As far as my fake plastic fingernails are concerned, my dear friends, I will double-glue them.  No explanation needed.

Cartoon of a Noise Maker with Decorations Clipart Picture
Yes, it is the party of the year.

 Colorful Balloons And Streamers Clipart ImageA Cartoon Tiger Drinking Champagne and Celebrating New Years. clipartWoman Getting Intoxicated at an Office Party clipart

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Seeing Red All Over

Enjoying the winter scenery, and I am doing OK.

Last week I mentioned to my husband that I haven't noticed any Cardinals around the bird feeders. This is the time of year when so many birds visit us and our seed bill usually doubles. Then it snowed.

I took the picture on my header from inside my home with a zoom lens. When I saw all the bird activity outside, I quickly grabbed my camera and started clicking. I was not sure what I was taking as there was so much movement going on in the trees and around the feeders.  After transferring them to my computer, I was surprised and delighted to see all the beautiful Cardinals (counted 14 on the above picture).   Here are some other birds-eye views of my backyard on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song
Chinese Proverb

"I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes"
Charles Lindbergh

The lady

Then there was this big guy sitting in the tree overlooking the feeding frenzy. Not as colorful as the regal Cardinal, but definitely worth a picture.

I leave you with my favorite Chinese proverbs about birds.

"You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair."

It is always a good day when you can wake up surrounded by the splendors of nature.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Van Gogh, Part 2, Living a Feral Life

Got some news, and am doing OK

As it turns out, Van Gogh had to be renamed Vanna Gogh.  Yes, we finally peeked.  However, the other day, Hubby spoke to the  owner of the farm up the street and discovered that our stray feline belongs to them and her real name is Pop-Pop's cat.  She is about 20 years old and has lived as a barn cat.  She means quite a bit to them as Pop-Pop passed away three years ago at Christmas time.  They said she had been missing for days and they thought the worst. Little did they know that she has been traveling back and forth between their house and ours for the past six months.  However, I could go out any time of the day and she would come running over to me, so I guess she just kind of settled down where the food was more gourmet.  She had only eaten dry food before and here we were giving her Friskies and treats.  We also sat and played with her which might have gone missing since the demise of her owner. 

Hubby also asked about the other cats that have been coming around in the last month or so.  Yes, they all belong to the farmer and must have smelled the tuna fish on Vanna's breath.   They were all once feral cats that wondered onto their farm.  About 8 years ago, animal control came by and and spayed and neutered them all.  By that time they had over 20 of these felines that kept producing more and more kittens.  These types of cats do not live long as they succumb to many elements, but were mostly done in by the  cars speeding along the winding, narrow roads of our area.  Vanna though, I mean Pop-Pop's Cat, beat all odds and is a fat happy old girl, way past her prime.  She looks pretty good for being around 97 (according to the cat-years calculator). 

I think how I was almost ready to try to catch her, put her in a carrier and take her to a vet to be checked over and given shots.  That nonagenarian would have been traumatized and the outcome may not have been very good.  Not knowing her past and thinking that she was an abandoned stray,  I was concerned about what was the right thing to do.  I agonized over it and thought about how she would  survive the winter out there in the woods.  Her coat is very thick as Mother Nature knows how to protect her creatures, but I wanted to make sure she was safe.  I am so glad we found out about her owners before we did something foolish.

So today I looked out my window into my yard and saw my friend sitting on the field stone in front of the woods, taking in the sun and looking contented.  If I went out, I knew she would come to me and I did not want that. Her constant traveling between the houses could do her in and I should not encourage her to come visiting anymore.  However, it is hard as I have become attached to her, but she does not belong to me and she has lived a life of freedom and doing what she wants.  She has survived on her own wits for a very long time and she should be left to be. 

May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields.

 Oh, I know, I am just an old softy who is a little sappy around the edges.  All animals, though, tug at my heartstrings especially those that seems so vulnerable. 

Now, about the farmer's cows that come a-callin' every now and then, well, that is another story for another day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Quite cold here, but doing OK

Skype -  Lights, Camera , ACTION!
Log into the computer

I had to get ready tonight for my second Skype appearance.  Hair was newly dyed and coiffed, makeup was put on, the set (kitchen) straightened up, a rehearsal was done and now  "Ready when you are CB."

I made my first screen appearance on December 26th, the day after my children gave me my wonderful new iPad with the app Skype downloaded.  At about 8:30 am, my dear son, Andy, called me on my iBaby (yes, lovin' my new i).  I was still in bed, as the day before had been very eventful and I was sleeping in (OK, maybe it was 9:30).   The ring startled me and I picked it up from where it lay next to me. As I opened it it up and clicked "accept" (or something like that), there was Andy with a big smile, and in the corner of the screen was me, not exactly looking my best. If I had thought about it, I would have put the pillow case over my face.   It was very nice of him to call, as he is my son and as such, does not phone that often.  However, I was not prepared for this and was a little rattled by this invasion of my personal space. He loves me though, no matter my squinty, swollen eyes and baggy chin(s).

 For my second time on Skype though, I would be ready. The scene would be set, the lighting low, and I would suck in any and everything possible.  Hubby and I had tried it out the week before so as not to embarrass ourselves and appear like those old people whose You Tube video went viral a few months ago.  No, that was not going to be us.  We are savvy computer people.  So after about 15 tries with the darn thing hanging up on us over and over, we finally had success.  Eventually we had clicked on the right icons and wowee, I could talk and see hubby on his phone as he sat in the next room from me.  Are we cool or what?

So tonight I called my daughter who lives on the other side of the country and told her that I was planning on Skyping her. She asked me to wait a few minutes so she could fix up her computer room.  I told her that was silly, there was no reason to have to do that.  I did not tell her of all the preparations that I had made for "our scene."   We connected easily and I got to see her and my beautiful and talented grandchildren.  They read stories to me, showed me their new outfits, and told me about what was going on in their lives.  It was wonderful!    

I do have to practice a little more though.  At one point, I apparently got too close to the screen and all they could see were the fillings in my teeth. Gosh, I should have gotten  that implant.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pushing the Lazy Button

Yawning quite a bit, but I am doing OK.

Tree down, decorations put away, Goodwill bags assembled, powder room painted and refrigerator cleaned out (a dark and dirty job).  Stick a fork in me, I am done.  Now it is "me" time.  However, my energy is spent and my body and mind want to go into hibernation mode.  "Me time" will  not be exciting as there is no energy that I want to expand, no thoughts I want to think, no deeds I want to do.  Nada, nothing, blank stares are all I have to offer.

Hibernate:  to pass the winter in a dormant or torpid state. "Hibernate" I understand and can enjoy,  but not quite sure what "torpid" means. It is not a word that I use in my everyday conversation.

So hubby comes home and says: "How are you Arleen?"  Answer: "Fine, but feeling a little torpid today."

Torpid: having lost motion or the power of exertion or feeling.  Benumbed.

Yep, that's me.

 Do you think they might have a little pill for being torpid? Maybe if there was an anachronism for it, big pharms could market it.  How about OOS (out of steam).

How ya doin'

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Van Gogh

I'm back and getting myself together, and I am doing OK.

Van Gogh, looking fat and happy.
Note the carrier behind him.
Catting around

I have become Cat Woman, sans the outfit. We have had felines in our lives for the past 19 or so years, but the first two pets were left here by our children. They weren't necessarily of our choosing (the cats, not the kids) but what were we to do? It did not take long for them to find a place in our hearts though.  When we lost sweet Casey to cancer six years ago, we got two sister kittens to be companions for our beloved Martian. This year we lost Martian, also to cancer, so our household became just myself, hubby,  Thelma and Louise. T and L are not a ball of energy,  as a matter of fact, one of them seldom gets off the bed.  However, I guess they fit into our lifestyle, as we aren't exactly the movers and shakers we once were either.  About six months ago, I noticed a very pretty grey cat at the edge of the woods that border our property.  I thought he belonged to someone down the street or perhaps the farmhouse across the way.  As time progressed, I saw that he lived in the large grasses that we have on the end of our yard.  He had picked a ideal spot, because right next to the grasses is a very large bird feeder.  We did not want him eating our feathered friends but we felt sad about his situation and started to leave some food out for him. If we provided food, he would not necessarily need to hunt.  Hubby noticed that half of one of his ears was missing, but it had healed over.  I would imagine that he lost (or maybe won) a fight with one of the other inhabitants of our woods.  We named him Van Gogh.  Naming a cat that does not belong to you is really not a good idea, as now they slowly sneak into your heart. We dared not try to catch him and bring him into the house as we did not want to put our other cats in danger of any disease he might have contracted.  We fretted about what we should do.  During the snow storm of October, we laid a tarp over the grasses to keep him dry and then started to think what will happen to him when the freezing temperatures of winter come along   How can we protect him?  Then hubby went out and bought a medium-sized dog carrier and a paw pad for him to lay upon hoping that he would find shelter in there.  So far,  I don't think he has tried it out except for going inside to eat.  However, his personality has changed and now when we go down to feed him he comes right over to us and before he starts to eat, he will rub around our legs and meows and purrs Last week my husband (whose name has now been changed from "Birdman of the Northeast" to "Cat Whisperer") stood in the middle of the yard and called to him.  Van Gogh came right over and  allowed himself to be picked up and cuddled.  He showed  no resistance and put his head against the crook of hubby's arm and purred over and over.  When he was put down, he stayed. This is not a feral cat, but a cat that was once loved. Perhaps he got lost or, in all probability, was left abandoned by the broken-down farmhouse up the street.   We are in a quandary as what to do about our new friend.

The one thing that I have left out in this above story is that in the past month we have not only been feeding Van Gogh, but a few more strange cats that have appeared out of nowhere.  Every week, there seems to be one more.  Do you think Van Gogh has been spreading the news of free food?  Instead of leaving one dish of food, we now leave four.  We are not naming these newbies though, although they all seem very sweet and also meow and purr.  I think Van Gogh must have told him about the act they must put on in order to get their dinner. No more voles or moles for them, the humans here give out prime gourmet food.

So now I am worried about becoming one of those women you read about in the papers, you know, the unkempt older ladies that collect cats.  Lordy, lordy, what have I gotten myself into. 

I might call the cat rescue place sooner than later.  However, I will miss Van Gogh and hope that someone will give him a good home.  He is a love.