Tuesday, December 31, 2013

END OF 2013

My girlies left a couple of hours ago, after a really short and sweet visit from Portland.  They both got pretty good tans so they have a souvenir .... for a few days anyway.

Now I'm allowing myself to be sad.  It's so helpful to be around friends (including family!) because even though I miss Mr. Ralph, it's more in the background.  But this afternoon he's right in front of me.  With all of our good memories.

In the beginning, for New Year's Eve, we'd go out with crowds.  I especially remember one with Russ and Janna Brown at Black Butte.  Wall to wall people yet we had a blast!  He was always in the mood to dance.  ONLY on New Year's Eve!  After Kate, we were mostly celebrating at home.  We'd change our clocks so she would think it was midnight!!  We watched Forrest Gump, whether we were at home or on a mini Oregon vacation.  When she got a little older, we enjoyed being with other families and playing games.  A few years were spent on vacation on Maui and the party was by the pool.  For a couple of years, we were the drivers so Kate could party!  

To ring in 2010, before cancer, a friend gave us his reservations at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood.  This was one of my favorites.  Just the two of us!  Not a care in the world.  He was retiring at the end of the month and we were headed for a three month sabbatical on Maui. We were totally snowed in for the few days we were there and got a break the day we had to drive back home.

This year I'm undecided.  I might just enjoy myself by myself.  I bought a bottle of Prosecco.  Some tasty (and rather healthy) snacks ... baba ghanoush (eggplant and garlic spread), tofu egg salad (my fav) and some ahi poke (marinated raw tuna). 

Don't worry.  While I will be missing him and probably crying a little, it won't be a pity party!  Just good old fashioned grieving.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


The best thing about having visitors?  Getting to cook!  Sharon and M'Linda are both single so the joy of cooking isn't always there.  Same for me.

As a threesome, it is so much more fun.  We are having a nice healthy breakfast at home, every day except today.  Lunch is usually at the beach.  Dinner?  At the Weber.  

One night we had seared ahi on a bed of super greens with  wasabi vinaigrette.  M'Linda brought THREE amazing bottles of Pinot Noir which have all paired up better than I would have imagined.

Last night was Indonesian chicken on the grill.  Which sounds exotic and gourmet, right?  The recipe is from Ina Gartner and has very very few ingredients ... just needs to marinate for four hours or longer (longer would have been better ... as she had used swordfish.)  Easy peasy.

This time asparagus with a dash a fresh lemon juice.  I tried a friend's idea of cooking rice in coconut milk and BAM!  In love with that.

Tonight we are splurging and heading out to a popular place (Hali'imaile General Store) for a special treat.  Then a farewell gathering before they depart Tuesday afternoon.  Thai chicken (thighs) in the crockpot!  So we won't have to miss a moment of beach time.  We've invited two other friends ... one bringing and appetizer and one bringing dessert so we are covered.

The BEST part of all this cooking?  Sharon and M'Linda do the dishes and clean up!

Friday, December 27, 2013


This phrase, Maui no ka 'oi means "Maui is the best."  I have to agree!

Sharon and M'Linda arrived late Monday afternoon.  Here it is Friday and I haven't written a blog all week!  Because we are having fun.  We go to a different beach every day.  Even though I am not a sun worshiping lady, every other day I pick a beach that has a shady area for me.  

Christmas Eve was a little party for ladies ... snacks and wine and stories and laughter.  Christmas day I grilled Chilean sea bass as well as asparagus, red onion slices, potatoes and cherry tomatoes.  It was beautiful, Christmas colors and quite tasty.  M'Linda brought THREE bottles of wine in her suitcase so we enjoyed a Boedecker Pinot Noir that was fabulous.

Last night we made festive pomegranate martinis.  This morning we went on a two hour whale watch.  We did get to see quite a few whales but none were very close.  February is the best month for lots of close up action.  I've been on many whale watching trips in Maui and I learn something new every time!  Today's biologist informed us that the whales arrive in a staggered progression .... young males followed by older males, ladies with yearlings then pregnant whales.  This is both a birthing place and a breeding place.

Tonight we are going to the Kihei monthly festivities featuring craft vendors and food vendors.

Maui no ka 'oi!

Sunday, December 22, 2013


It's been interesting to remember all of the eating trends throughout my adult life.  I think the first one I remember (mainly for the scandal afterwards) was The Scarsdale Diet.  A very rigid regime allowing only certain foods at certain meals.  
Then I started thinking about so many more that were a fad for a while but seem to vanish after a year or two.  Cabbage soup diet.  Atkins.  South Beach.  The Zone.  Mediterranean Diet.  Eating for Your Blood Type.  And then the Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, etc kind where you have to buy their food.  Yuck.  I actually tried Nutrisystem ... for two weeks.  Double yuck.

But now the trend seems to be "gluten free."  Unfortunately, many people who have jumped on this are NOT doing it for health reasons.  People who HAVE celiac suffer dire consequences even with just a teaspoon of wheat or other offending food in a big recipe.  The trendy people who make all sorts of noise and commotion about "remember, I am gluten free" often enjoy a slice of bread while dining with me.  Um ... that's not gluten free, you are just following a FAD.  "Just one piece of pie" means you are not GF.  Just sayin.

The only "diet" I think has stood the test of time?  Weight Watchers.  And I need to get back on it.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


In the past, I haven't been very good about spur of the moment activities.  I like to be at my best, physically and mentally, to be social.  Fresh from a shower.  Clothes that make me feel good.  A good hair day.  And time to wrap my blond head around the event.

Widowhood is changing my thinking.  This week I had two opportunities to meet up with a friend on the spur of the moment.  

Just as I was finishing my first cup of coffee, Nancy called and with just a bit of panic in her voice, asked if she could come over and take me out for coffee.  She is in the middle of a huge home renovation and I think things were finally getting to her.  I warned her that I hadn't showered, had bed head hair and was dressed like a wash woman.  And I went.  Turned out to be a great day, thanks to the start of my day.  She is the closest thing I have to a big sister.

Today, Leslie called first thing in the morning with some big heavy happenings to discuss.  My advice is always free and I feel like she is my little sister ... going through things that happened to me many moons ago.  Later in the day, after her hubby left for work, she called to see if I wanted to run errands with her.  She is always so interesting to talk with (not always the superficial chit chat) so I cast aside my plans to make spaghetti and meatballs and said YES!  We ran her errands then decided to bring home Chinese for dinner.  And continued our conversation about husbands (she's a newlywed), girlfriends, cooking, Maui, kids, holidays, new apps, good books to read and other important world problems.

Yep.  I'm learning to be spur of the moment!

Friday, December 20, 2013


My daughter is growing up.  

Through her journey of motherhood (Braeden is now 3 ... baby boy #2 due March 11) she is being much much nicer to me.  Best of all, she indulges my grandmotherliness.  She texts me photos and cute little videos.  She calls about once a week to do Facetime.  Braeden now "gets it" that he can take the phone and show me things.  Wanna see my dog?  It is so much fun to have little conversations with him.

I've been mailing him a letter (with a balloon or some stickers or some tattoos) about once a month.  I guess I need to bump it up a little since has asked for some mail!!  I made a little 4x6 photo album with a few photos of him with Poppa, me and Poppa and of course, some gecko photos.  Now I can send him a photo inside his letter.

Even though I'm not spending Christmas with them, for the first (and last) time, I still get to enjoy the little moments.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


In the early days of this blog, I've mentioned a few of the weird neighbors I have on Maui.  A few are more than weird ... kinda scary and vengeful.  Today I'd like to share about a few wonderful neighbors.

Right next door are Chelsea and Brent and their three youngsters, 10, 8 and 6.  I have so much fun with them.  They allowed me to have a couple of months to myself and now that they know I'm doing okay, they invite me to join them.  Chelsea started a Tuesday night sunset group at our closest beach.  Mostly young couples with young children but I enjoy it all the same.  Interesting conversation and lots of wine!

Last night Chelsea invited me to dinner at a fancy restaurant where I have never been.  She invited another friend.  We shared an appetizer and two meals (buy one get one FREE).  Despite our age difference, we chatted for hours!  And the food was yummy.

Bob and Paula have been our friends since we bought our house here in 2010.  They were both invaluable during Mr. Ralph's health journey.  And so they have been steadfast in getting me through my grief.  We invite each other out for lunch every other week or so.  I have them over and they have me over.  Best of all, they can do ANYTHING, so they are my handy couple.  I keep a list going so if/when they ask if I need anything done, I can text it right to them.  

Today Bob fixed my guest room closet door, the stopper in the guest bathroom, installed another outdoor camera, and changed the timer on my outdoor lights (so they stay on until 11pm). In less than 30 minutes.  Tomorrow they are doing my yard work!  I avoided it the past 8 months and now it's overwhelming.  Plus he thinks I have a water leak somewhere so tomorrow he is meeting with the water dept (my meter is locked so he couldn't test things).

Tonight I took them out to dinner for their Christmas gift!  I'm so grateful to have some great neighbors!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


This is the new word for solar power.  And I'm going to harness some here in Maui.

Mr. Ralph and I had batted around the notion for a while, but then he was too sick to be interested.  

Researching and hiring someone to do this has been a major task.  Not something I would recommend during the first year of widowhood but the electric company here is coming up with ways to prevent many more consumers from tapping into this big savings on monthly bills.  I asked everyone I knew who had solar, who they used and why.  Many companies have already gone out of business in two years!

Having solar power will be a BIG selling point should I ever need to sell this Maui Mansion.  So I bit the bullet.  Thankfully I have my neighbor Bob to give me his input.  The company he used has been doing this for ten years in Hawaii ... longer on the mainland.  The manufacturer they use is state of the art.

MECO (Maui Electric) is putting a cap on how many homes or businesses can have PV (photovoltaic) because their system is not set up to RECEIVE power, when I make more during the daytime than I use.  In the very near future (this is already happening in some neighborhoods) new installations will have to bear the cost of upgrading MECO's system ... thousands of dollars per household!

While there is a substantial upfront investment, my electric bill will go from $300 per month to $20 per month, so it will pay for itself in four years.  

Then I won't be afraid to use my oven!

Monday, December 16, 2013


My mother and father both had severe arthritis.  Mom had two hip replacements then it moved to her back.  Along with intense osteoporosis.  My Dad had a knee replacement and needed to have the other knee done but felt Mom needed him to help care for her so he never got it done.  They had a handicap parking permit but got a LOT of "but you don't look handicapped."  She always said thank you.

I have a dear friend who has late stage Parkinson's Disease. At a local restaurant here, you go in and order and THEN you take a table.  My friend cannot stand very long, so while her hubby was in ordering, she sat at a table.  The waitress came by and said no saving tables.  She NEVER tells people about her chronic condition until (and if) they become close friends.  She explained that she needed to sit and that her husband was in line ordering.  Too bad.  You can't sit until he comes out.  That made her mad, so she slowly walked up to the line (which by then was out the door with hungry tourists) to tell her husband she'd rather go elsewhere.  While saying excuse me and trying carefully to get by ... she was pushed (almost knocking her over!) and told "no cutting in line."

She is drop dead gorgeous and looking at her, you would never think she is traveling the journey of painful chronic disease.  She never complains.  She is amazingly cheerful and how she can remain optimistic and thankful is beyond my comprehension.

So BEFORE you speak and prejudge someone's behavior ... physical or mental .... imagine that you don't have half the story.  Maybe the person really is handicapped.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


The Christmas season is finally reaching my heart.  

This Maui house is pretty small with no room for a real tree.  I have an 18 inch artificial one sitting in the middle of the kitchen island, which is visible from every corner of the living area.  My coffee table has a festive rectangular plate with three large red automatic candles.  I smile every night when they turn on about 6:30!!  The tiny dining table has a nutcracker surrounded by ivory automatic candles of all sizes.  My neighbor gave me a candle with a fir aroma, so I am set!

Oh!  And even my wine bottle is festive ...

In the past, I always made a small gingerbread house.  When Kate was younger, she loved decorating.  When she outgrew it, I still made one.  Something about the smell of gingerbread.  I don't have my gingerbread house mold over here, but I found another edible project that might fill the void.

This afternoon my three neighbor grandchildren are coming over to make ice cream cone Christmas trees.  Believe it or not, I found several kinds of small candy to decorate them.  I can't wait to see how much frosting and candy make it ON to the cones!

The verdict:

It's beginning to look (and smell) a lot like Christmas!

Saturday, December 14, 2013


Nefarious is a very powerful word.  I don't think I have ever used it in describing a person ... until now.

I've mentioned in previous blogs about some strange (cat lady with 40 cats) and vindictive (her best friend who has vandalized my yard many times) neighbors.  Add in the HOA president who clearly follows the "rules" only with people he doesn't like yet lets said cat lady and bitchy buddy do whatever "in his interpretation" of our bylaws.

I still enjoy sitting on my front lanai and chatting with other neighbors walking with their kids or their dogs.  Some have brought their adult beverage and lingered.  My opinion is that there are quite a few people on Maui who over indulge.  Alcohol or marijuana.  Which is okay with me as long as it doesn't affect me.

Last night I was standing in my driveway talking with Bob and Paula.  They care for my home when I am away.  They are my closest friends here and live just two blocks over.  Bob and Mr. Ralph had a special relationship.  He gave Mr. Ralph a walker which was graciously accepted.  Had I been the one to get that for him, his pride would have forbade it!  They also called or checked in on me every day for the first several months.  And continue to frequently ... and actually get concerned if I don't contact them.

We were talking about holidays, birthdays, dog sitting and what on earth the cat lady is having built on the side of her house.  Hoping that it is not a cat house and just an outdoor living space.   My neighbor across the street has usually been okay with us but for some reason, he abhors Bob.  Last year while Bob was doing yard work in my yard, Kenny came over and verbally assaulted him!. Unwarranted.  Bob told him to get off of my property and Kenny pushed him (while using vulgar language).  So Bob called the police.   My opinion is Kenny over indulges in everything AND has an anger issue.

Last night, he came out of his house and started swearing at Bob.  We ladies tried to keep Bob from responding but he got a few choice words in.  We continued our conversation all the while Kenny is screaming "get the F*@# out of my neighborhood" (um Kenny, we ALL live in this neighborhood).  Bob went down the street to get a neighbor's dog for a walk (while they have taken their 3 girls to Disneyworld) and Paula and I kept talking.  Kenny went inside.  When Bob returned, Kenny came back outside and continued his rampage.  Also screaming "don't call the police this time."

I felt like calling the police.  Very scary, unwarranted and unreasonable.  Nefarious.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Most days I feel like I'm managing.  After seven months, I can say his name or talk about him without crying uncontrollably.  I usually tear up but not so embarrassing that I have to leave the room.  

But coping is a lot of work.  I try to make sure I have something to do every day.  Physically and socially.  Educationally and emotionally.  Every thing is a conscious effort.  Every single thing takes effort!  

I no longer stay home most of the time.  Every day I get outside for some reason.  Water aerobics three times a week.  If someone invites me, I go.  I say yes more than no.  I connect with perfect strangers.

All of this is good.  Great, even.  I have to admit I take a nap almost every day.  And I sleep 8 or 9 hours.  That's how I cope.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


I love to cook.  I live to eat, not eat to live.  But not for just myself.

This seems to be a common malady for widows .... probably worse for widowers.  My widow blogger friend "The Misadventures of Widowhood" feels the same way ... she even took some cooking classes!   A friend loaned me some "cooking for one" cookbooks.  I was just getting used to cooking for two.  Some nights I simply enjoy fruits and vegetables .... popcorn and red wine.  

When I have the energy, I love to grill some protein and veggies so I have enough for two meals.  What usually happens is that I get invited to eat out or I invite myself to eat out.  And then the food is wasted.  I'm really bad about wasting food which makes me feel guilty.  Sometimes you just can't win!  

Today I bought a few Rubbermaid containers.  I'm going to make some chicken and rice soup so the leftovers can be frozen for another cozy meal or two.  Same thing for any kind of soup.  Or meatballs and sauce.  

Or should I just buy Weight Watchers frozen dinners?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

1986 ... Kate was six weeks old.

The above photo was taken in Sunriver, Oregon.  Our second favorite place in the world.  Probably 2000-ish.

On the water front in Lahaina, Maui during one of our vacations.  2003 maybe?

At his 50 year college reunion.  He got his electrical engineering degree from an all men's school (now called Rose Hulman ... ranked best college for the past 13 years for engineers!)  2006

My first trip to England, for a Biamp Manager's wedding.  We stayed in an historic hotel where the doorways were too short for even me.  I had fish and chips served in newspaper.  So fun!  And it was the start of a many country trip, via car, where we were treated like royalty.  2006.  A proud moment for me as I packed for TWO weeks, casual and dressy, in one suitcase!

Maybe 2007 ... on the Great Wall of China.  Where it SNOWED! So the fabulous view of miles of hand built wall and beautiful vistas into two countries were NOT available.

February 2013.  Despite the pain and indignity of radiology side effects, he ALWAYS had a smile!

Loving memories.  Now I need to scan in more photos from 1986 til we got the digital camera!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Per Wikipedia:

MEDITATION is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or an end in itself.

I am not a free spirited personality.  This I have to admit.  I don't believe in psychics or tarot cards or magic crystals.  Maui has more than its fair share of free spirits (or aging hippies if you prefer).  We have lots of vegans and raw food only diets and more vegetarians than carnivores.  It's probably also the intergalactic headquarters for marijuana growers.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a sunset birthday party for two ladies in their 70's.  Everyone brought a pupu (appetizer) and a beverage.  Nancy and I were about the only two who did NOT smoke pot.  The other ladies wore soft, flowing angel dresses.  They burst into song every 15 minutes.  They danced together.  And then they smoked more pot.  They had names like Feather, Heartstring, Amethyst.  Sometimes I wish I had a tiny bit of free spirit ... to just let myself be silly.  My name would be Chardonnay.

I do believe in the idea of meditation, though.  Although I have a different name for it.

gerund or present participle: napping
  1. 1.
    sleep lightly or briefly, esp. during the day.

Being horizontal for 45 minutes or so, forcing all thoughts out of my mind, breathing slow and deep ... refreshes me.  I call it meditation!

Monday, December 9, 2013


WARNING:  This blog is really a personal diary.  Events and names are real.  Enter at your own risk.  I am not being paid by anyone for any of my words.

Whew!  I felt like an attorney for a moment!  

This morning as I was getting ready for water aerobics I just had to smile at some of the compromises I've made since becoming a widow.  Like getting sunscreen on my back.  My dear friend Eli had a sunburn while he was visiting us one year.  He is a single guy and very independent.  Didn't want to ask one of us to put aloe on his back.  He went to the hardware store and got a small paint roller and a big jar of aloe and rolled himself.

I, of course, am a cheapskate (although not one of those EXTREME CHEAPSKATES that are now on reality TV).  I figured the nap on the paint roller would use up too much sunscreen.  So off to the internet I went.

Yes, Virginia, there IS a really cool tool that has a grooved rubberized applicator and a handle that folds in half so you could take it to the pool (or shark infested waters) with you!!  And it works!!!

We oldsters have to stick together!  Can you share your nifty compromises??

Sunday, December 8, 2013


(By the way, Tipping Point is a very good book by Malcolm Gladwell).

Today I had a tipping point moment.  I'm not sure why or how, but today I realized getting older is a privilege.  Each year (or day) is a gift.  Many people don't get to live this long.  Or this well.  Despite the sad things, the traumatic things and the dramatic things that I've encountered, the good times outweigh them all.  I need to remember this.  And to be grateful.

Yesterday I wrote about choosing your change.  It's a very good philosophy.  Change IS inevitable, no matter how small or how large.  I'm sorta in the mood for way smaller changes these days.  Just for a while.

It's time for me to make a few of my own little changes.  I remember Mr. Ralph saying it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit.  Some changes may take several months.  But each change begins with that first step.  

Thankfully, being alive provides me the privilege to do just that.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Being in my sixties does have one bright spot.  We have the best name for our age group.  SEXagenarian.  I think it sounds way better than octogenarian or nonagenarian or centenarian.  Which are fast approaching.  Gosh, I can hardly wait.

Fortunately, most of us sexagenarians have a good sense of humor.  It's just about the only thing that keeps us plodding along.  When my daughter was young, a friend would reassure me she was just going through a phase.  With the caveat that the next phase was worse.  I have a funny feeling the same thinking applies here.

But my thinking is not all doom and gloom.  I use the bad and ugly as a source for my weird humor.  Today I happened upon a Huffington Post article written by an 87 year old woman (Nancy Alcock Hood ... who married for the first time at age 82).  Here are a few of her optimistic tips!

You're not as young as you look.  You're as young as you feel.  This is so true.  We can still learn new things!  We can try things we never even thought about before.  Of course, we have the wisdom to think through any physical compensations.

Change happens.  So choose your change.  Remember when we were little and we would say we were 5 and 3/4?  Adding those extra months show we are optimistic about getting to that next year.  We all want to control our lives (and maybe a few others').  But status quo ... we do not have to stay in our current living condition, griping about the new neighbors.  Get a head start on planning the future.  The future YOU want.

You can get into shape no matter how old you are.  At least we can be in better shape than we are currently.  I have never been athletic or an exercise person.  But I sure can start now!  It will only do me good.

Time is a friend.  Sometimes I really don't believe this.  When I do get realistic, I've got a good 20 years ahead of me.  That's a whole career!  A generation!!  Whoo hoo!

Friday, December 6, 2013


Growing older is not for sissies.  Mr. Ralph was 18 years older than me.  Physically that is.  Emotionally?  We were on par.  The age difference was actually a good learning experience .... when my body changed, I could feel a little bit more relaxed about it since something similar had happened to him.

I, for one, do not think these are "golden years."  Far from it.  It is getting embarrassing to just live.  Hair has suddenly sprouted from places no woman wants.  Coarse and curly.  Yuck.  Mustache.  Beard.  Nose.  Legs.

Even more weird physical changes started when I hit about 55.  Flatulence.  Talk about embarrassing!  Oh my gosh.  Unflattering at the very least.  Usually not aromatic.  This is my excuse for not doing yoga!

Today's email brought the most appropriate information from AARP.  Nine embarrassing health conditions:

     Bad breath
     Rectal itch
     Smelly feet
     Body odor
     Vaginal odor
     Fecal incontinence
     Urinary incontinence

See what we have to look forward to?!!

Fortunately, there are a lot of aging baby boomers so we are getting a bit of help compensating with all these unpleasant health issues.

 Yes.  I am using this bergamot, lemongrass and grapefruit spray.  And it really, really works.  Check out some of their commercials on YouTube!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


What a good week I've had.  My friend Gina came over from Portland to have a short but sweet visit.   It's the first time I've had an overnight guest since Mr. Ralph died.  It was perfect!

Gina worked with my hubby as the VP of Marketing so I first knew her as a business acquaintance.  I'm not quite sure how we ended up buddies but over time, we have.  She is 20 years younger, way more active, with a Masters from Cornell.  So on paper, we don't really have anything in common.  Except maybe cooking.  And an addiction to reading.  

She went through some life changes a couple of years ago and we let her use our Maui house for a month while we were in Portland.  And of course, she would make friends, AT THE BEACH, one of whom is our realtor and another is our neighbor across the street!  She has stayed in touch with this whole big group.  We joined them for Sunday Fun Day at the beach, chatting and sharing some wine and snacks.  Now I have a few more friends to add to my Maui list.

Having her here was not like having a guest on their first visit to Maui.  I did not have to be hostess at all.  She had ladies to call and accompany her as shark bait for a kayaking adventure.  We had another join us for water aerobics.  It was the most laid back I have ever seen her, so it must have been good for her as well.

She also is currently single, so we both enjoyed our hugs every now and again.  I was especially missing those!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


OK friends and family.  I'm going to try a hobby.  Mr. Ralph was the main memory maker via photos (and videos). 

Braeden was about two in this.  He was playing an interactive zoo game on my iPhone ... where a camel spits on a visitor.  Which he thought was extremely funny.  Because he's not allowed to spit.  (I thought it was a llama so that's what we are saying).  It makes me laugh every time I watch it!

Last night I was looking through some of his 10,000 (yes, no typo) pictures and got a little sad that he isn't here to keep doing this.  It was just natural for him.

For now, it will just be my iPhone.  No sense investing anything until I discover if this might be a passion.  BUT ... I have signed up for an iPhone photography class held by a local Maui professional photographer.  In January!

In addition, I am also thinking of printing some of Mr. Ralph's photos on canvas to grace the Kihei Cottage walls.  It will make me smile and I'm pretty sure he would like it also.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Wow.  It is hard to comprehend Mr. Ralph has been dead for seven months.  Somehow I am struggling through the phases of grief although sometimes not very well.  Most of the stages keep recurring.  Often I just feel a bit insane.  Which apparently is NORMAL.  I've come up with a simple response when people ask me how I'm doing (I'm pretty sure most of them don't really want to KNOW).  Now I say "I'm doing okay."

What I'm doing is taking each day as it arrives.  I am doing better keeping busy and exercising.  I've discovered that I am shy ... more so than I thought.  I'm learning to initiate conversations with unknown people.  Not every chat has to lead to a fast and furious friendship.  Maui is a transient island with lots of people who live here just part of the year (I hope I get to be one of those!) and people who live here for a short time.  We have lots of tourists as well.  Of course there are long term residents as well.  

I'm very blessed these last few months to have friends who are sharing their friends with me.  Even my Portland friend who is visiting for this holiday has introduced me to some local ladies who she met on the beach when she borrowed our house two years ago!  Socializing is really important for this human. 

I'm feeling more hopeful. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013


The grief journey is predictable although not an exact science.  I feel like I have emotional ADD with crazy swings of feelings.  It will be seven months tomorrow.

In yesterday's mail our local hospice sent me a very personal note and a worksheet for me to complete on "what to do if I start feeling blue".  So I can tape it inside the pantry in case of emergency it will be there in black and white.

Some of the info for me to complete:  Top three people I like to talk to (with space for their phone number).  What kind of physical thing would be quick and easy and fun to do on a moment's notice (swim).  What's your happy song?  Where can you go to bring some joy back in?  A great idea, all in all!  

I'm going to do my homework .... just in case!

Friday, November 29, 2013


Yesterday was one of the best Thanksgivings ever, despite it being my first as a widow.  It was busy and fun and delicious.  And for that I am thankful.

There were just five of us but the conversation never stopped.  Nor did the food!  None of us have family within 3,000 miles so we had that in common.  My gal pal is at the tail end of a relationship (that is not ending well).  My guy pal is just starting a dating relationship but the new woman did not invite him to join her plans.  We could have been a very morose crew, but we were not.  

Some of my brothers emailed and my sister texted and emailed.  She's so thoughtful.  She asked what my favorite Thanksgiving memory of him was!  It is/was that he ALWAYS invited those who did not have family nearby.  Since there were just the three of us, it was great to have a houseful to share our feast.  We usually talked about favorite family traditions or foods that MUST be included.  It was always fun.  

We often had to rent dishes (I hate paper plates).  The GREAT part about renting?  You don't have to wash them!!!  Just rinse and stack in their handy containers and return them the next day.

Leslie made FOUR kinds of pie!  We had island purple sweet potatoes with garlic and coconut milk.  Roasted brussels sprouts.  Green beans with crispy shallots.  The BEST stuffing EVER (and I am a stuffing connoisseur).  Even the turkey was spectacularly delicious.  

Yes.  I made the veggie tray above (I later added eyes!) and that is our turkey line up.

I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


My friend posted these four "Irish" I's on her Facebook page.  They grabbed me because they really apply to grieving.  My life at this point in time.  

INSTINCT:  My natural instinct is to curl up into a ball and let the world go by.  Maybe with time I can rejoin.  I am making a concerted effort to get out with other humans.  If someone invites me, I go.  I've even arranged a few things.  So far, it's not that much fun but I'm doing it anyway.

INSIGHT:  I honestly had no insight into grief until my husband died seven months ago.  Both of my parents are gone and I was sad and I miss them, but the loss was just not as great.  We were very close, talking several times a week and emailing almost every day.  Being a spouse is apparently closer ... emotionally as well as physically.

INTUITION:  So far, no helpful intuition has kicked in.  I instinctively knew grief would be sad and lonely.  I just had no idea it would be so devastating.  Eternally damaging to my heart.  And I had no clue that anxiety might enter into the mix.  Very weird.

INITIATIVE:  Most importantly, only I can take the initiative to survive this.  So that's exactly what I will do.

It's really a lot like a roller coaster.  I just can't see the end.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Besides getting a little exercise, I'm also getting a little busier.  Checking out recipes, making lists, going shopping.  My good friend (and gourmet gluten free, dairy free, egg free and cane sugar free cook) lands at 11pm on Wednesday night so I'm getting all her ingredients as well.

I love finding new twists on familiar recipes as well as new recipes.  And I usually do not practice them first!  Besides the fresh food, I spend a lot of time and thought in setting the mood in the house, especially a beautiful table.

I have to say I'm very very thankful to be hosting turkey day.  I'm probably spending too much time on each task but golly, I sure needed this distraction.  It's energizing me.

Taking my mind of my sadness.  That's a GOOD thing!

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Grieving and bereavement is a rather rough road for me.  It seemed to me to be getting worse instead of better.  I feel so numb and paralyzed, unable to make even the smallest of decisions.  So I asked for professional help.  This was a big step for me, strong and blonde.

Yesterday I saw a psychologist/counselor.  How do they know what kind of questions to ask?  We hit it off and and I'm going back in two weeks.  In the meantime, I have a little homework assignment.  Move my body for thirty minutes at least three times a week.  Honestly, I learned things (from the internet) that help ease sadness ... exercise, eating healthy, music, hobby, finding a new purpose, plan something for each day.  But I have not been able to get myself to do a single one. 

Today I walked!  How can a perfect stranger inspire this action?

I suppose going to school to get a PhD in counseling really helps him know what and how to ask.  And why I am not a good self counselor.  It just is what it is! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013


From a Facebook challenge ....

February 7, 2009 at 7:18pm
This was written almost five years ago ... updates are in blue!

I'm from a family of six children and my only sister is one of my best friends! She gets me.

Unfortunately, I am an addict. Addicted to computers, internet, e-mail and facebook. I spend WAAAAYYYY too much time with friends this way. It's kinda like being a voyeur. I can see what you're doing without bothering you!  
(Geez, this is even more true today!)  So far I'm not into instagram or Twitter or Linked In or others.

I love to cook. I have too many cookbooks. I read too many recipes. I pack cookbooks on trips. I subscribe to too many food websites. My sister and I have been known to read recipes to each other. I trade recipes. I participate in email recipe exchanges. And I love watching the Food Network. I had to downsize over 100 cookbooks.  I wish I hadn't.  So far I can usually find my recipe on the internet!

I can take shorthand. Do they even teach that any more??  My favorite phrase to write?  I have not been able

I'm not very adventuresome when it comes to travel. I'm not a City Mouse and anyplace with over 50,000 people scares me. The past few years have challenged me to overcome this.  I'm even more adverse to travel now.  Who knew???  Although with the right person, I'd love to visit every National Park.  

For my 40th birthday I went to Disneyland. It really was a very happy place!!  A few years ago, Ralph and I went to Disneyworld ... but I prefer Disneyland based on my visits.  I hope to take Braeden (and family) in 2014 or 2015 for his birthday!

My favorite color is pink. Always has been, always will be. Any shade.

Secretly, I’d like to be a private detective. I love to do research. Who would ever suspect an almost 60-something frumpy plump old lady?  

Shopping at office supply stores is my idea of fun! I get such great organizing ideas … that I never use.

My favorite gifts have been technology rather than diamonds. I swoon over iPhone and new font packages and web apps and scanners and …. Oh!  And I love my laminator and my label maker and ...

OK. I admit it. I only watch James Bond movies because my husband likes them.  They are just unrealistic.  But maybe that's the allure ...

I’ve finally learned to enjoy sleeping in. We could sleep 10 hours or more very night. I guess we will not be the typical seniors who are up at 4:30 am and ready for the 4:30 pm early bird special.  I do still enjoy sleeping.  It's not as easy lately but this too shall pass!  Last night I got EIGHT restful hours and gosh do I feel great today.

I love eggs. I don’t care that they are high in cholesterol and fat and we should throw the yolk away. Hooray Nigella!  Probably explains why we have breakfast for dinner once a week.  I still enjoy breakfast for lunch or dinner.  Even love an egg with a large side of salad for dinner.

Complaining. I hate it. You can tell me once about a pet peeve or something (or someone) that really bothers you and I will patiently listen, most likely agree. But after that, please tell someone who can do something about it. Otherwise, it is complaining. I hate complaining.  Still true today

95% of all my shoes and purses are black.

25 years of marriage and I love him more today than ever. We are opposites in so many ways but being with him makes the bad things half as bad and the good things twice as good. (his words!)  Still true!

Maui is my favorite vacation place. As a corn fed girl from Ohio who was over 40 before I ever stepped foot on an island (well, except for Put In Bay in Lake Erie …), the warm tropical setting soothes my soul.  Ha!  Who knew I would get to LIVE on Maui!!!  A dream that I couldn't even dream came true.

I’m usually too happy. Almost Pollyanna-ish.  I can't wait to get my groove back.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will."—Abraham Lincoln 

So I stand my ground.

There is no remarkable story to why my first name is JB. The “J” is from my first name, the “B” from my previous last name. But please help me with more of the smart aleck responses like – Jingle Bells, Just Because, Jelly Beans, Just Beautiful, etc.

As a child, until after high school really, I was shy.  I feel like an introvert lately.  Can't wait for this phase to finish.

Heidi was the first person to want to be friends with me first. And despite our vast differences and life experiences, (and age!) we still are. I’m her best fan!  Love you Heidi Belle

I don’t exercise. It’s starting to show. I need a pal who is overweight and out of shape who wants to start. Suzanne? Remember that year we walked???  And there is no "gee the weather is too bad to ..." excuse here in Maui.

Weight Watchers. What’s up with that? I don’t want to watch my weight, I want to get rid of some. But it really does work. It just feels like what I imagine chemotherapy feels like.  I did reach "goal" in 2006.  Time to get back at it.

I love when something makes me laugh out loud.  This doesn't happen too often, but it sure feels good every single time.  Braeden is really good at this!

I wish I would have finished college. And yes, I know it’s not too late.  Maybe writing!

Friday, November 22, 2013


Now I know I have too much time on my hands.  And I worry too much.  Not like I needed any reminders of either.

The Maui house has a king size bed.  Now that there is only one sleeper (or tosser and turner), I was thinking maybe just one side of the bed would show wear and tear.  So now I do even days on "my" side of the bed and odd days on "his" side of the bed.  Do you think I should rotate and sleep right in the middle?  Maybe that could be for naps!?

Once this world problem was solved, I had to institute the same wear and tear system on the sofa.  This is a bit more work than the bedroom as I have to move the remote controls from one end table to the other.  And my laptop cord.  As well as the box of tissues (I don't want to the house to look like an "old lady" house with boxes of tissues on every level surface).

Whew.  No rest for the wicked.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Memories are made when you least expect them.  Like a sunset.  No matter how many we shared, each one was different and spectacular.  Mr. Ralph loved taking photos so I have a million to jog my memory.  Even though I don't really need a photo to remind me.

He loved red geraniums.  And then any red flower.  Actually I asked our family and friends to plant a red geranium this past summer in his memory.  Now his memory lives on in their gardens or decks.  I have red New Guinea impatiens going right now.  

My favorite memory is something that I can hold and touch and wear.  He had a silver ID bracelet that he ALWAYS wore.  His name in Chinese on the outside, his name in English on the inside.  He had it made on his first trip to China back in the day when Americans were not welcome...he wanted to be sure his body would be identified.

As he got sicker and sicker he lost a lot of weight.  Our friend Bob noticed his bracelet was practically sliding off his wrist.  He is an artist and a silversmith and volunteered to remove a few links for him so he could wear it in a manly manner.

A few days later, he and Paula brought over a tiny jewelry box.

He fashioned a pendant and a pair of earrings from the links he removed.  And inserted my favorite gemstone, rhodonite.  It was mined in Oregon featuring my favorite colors.

According to my research (when I first fell in love with the stone):

Rhodonite soothes the nervous system. This gemstone vibrates with love. Just holding this gemstone promotes relaxation and brings a sense of well-being. This is a balance gemstone and is used to clear the psychic centers.  The healing properties of Rhodonite raises self worth and helps ward off negativity. It has been known as a "rescue stone".

Now I am linked for life.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Hospice is an amazing network of help and hugs.  Each month I get a newsletter which usually has an article of particular interest to me.  

This month the lead article is "Mourn the Small Community You Built."  It was filled with odd bits of information/insight.  I have been having trouble lately feeling sadder than what I expected.  (Not that anything can prepare you for losing 30 years of love).  I sure do miss him.

I miss him doing his part of our day to day living.  He loved puttering around in the yard.  Designing.  Building.  Planting.  Fertilizing.  Watering.  Pruning.  Puttering.

He was wise enough to put an individual drip watering system to each plant.  (I'm not that reliable!)  And I don't enjoy keeping up with the plants nearly as much as he did.  He designed and built the "fence art" as the morning sun reflecting off that white plastic fence would blind us as we enjoyed our morning coffee. 

He put up shelves and added door stops.  He kept the bikes humming along.  The TV and stereo sound system is a mystery to me.  How do I reprogram the garage door keypad.

The car was his domain.  Even though our car is 7 years old, Acura is very reliable.  But he was the one who remembered to have the tires rotated, the oil changed, the tune ups.  So of course, since his death I've had several incidents with the car.  All minor.  But when indicator lights come on I assume trouble and expense.  And once my key would not turn on the engine.

I've lost so much more than a friend and a lover.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Joy is something I've been missing these past months.  I think part of me feels guilty for enjoying pleasure or happiness.  It's also more fun to share these fun feelings.  Mr. Ralph used to say "love makes the bad things half as bad, and the good things twice as good."  But I think for now I better simply enjoy good things .... even on my own.  Especially on my own since that's what it is.

Children bring me joy.  Imagine my surprise when my 10 year old neighbor came over for a visit!  Abbey is the oldest of three and is on the cusp of being a teenager (gee that happens so much earlier these days).  We settled in for a chat when Lily (8 year old sister) rang the bell.  After some snacks and chit chat, the girls had energy to burn.  I have two huge exercise balls that they love.  So we figured out how to add some air and they had a blast!  Me too!  For almost three hours.  Mom came out to chat a bit as well as to invite me to "sunset night" tomorrow, where they head down to our closest beach to enjoy some free unadulterated joy.  

Mr. Ralph loved the kids as well.  He was a very good sport wearing pink and purple (I think he lost a bet).  Very confident in his manhood!  After he was dressed, he had to do a "glamour model walk" up and down the sidewalk.  What a hoot!

Apparently the kids love coming over here as much as I enjoy having them.  When little brother Alex (6) came home from a play date ... he was mad that he didn't get to come play!  So we'll have a guy date soon.