Thursday, October 31, 2013

HALLOWEEN (Happy or Not)

For years I lived in a neighborhood where trick or treating was just too much work.  Up and down steep, curvy hills and the houses were far apart from each other.  In Oregon, it was also usually rather bad weather.  So we never got kids begging for candy (well, sometimes the neighbors ... 2 or 3 maximum).

Halloween in Maui is a BIG deal.  Our little neighborhood is the mecca for trick or treating.  It is flat.  We have sidewalks.  And the houses are very very close together.  It never rains (or snows). Last year was the first time we were on Maui for this holiday.  

Lots of people decorate their homes.  Several spend the whole month putting up stuff.  One city (Lahaina) has a giant outdoor party (often referred to as the Mardi Gras of the Pacific) where you can take a bus to and from ... if you enjoy the crazy madness of 30,000 out of control costumed alcohol controlled people.

We were advised by neighbors to have enough candy for 350+ children.  And we used every little speck of sugar on hand!  The young ones were so cute with many accompanied by parents who were also in costume!  The teenagers without costumes were annoying.  I resent giving them anything.  

Mr. Ralph had such fun sitting in the driveway with me.  He must have taken a photo of each and every person who came up to get candy.  Even asking their costumed parents to come closer so his iPhone would work.  We laughed and chatted and reminisced about our Halloweens past.  The neighborhood shuts down the candy at promptly 8:00 pm so then we joined our fun neighbors for a glass of wine.  And to watch their three beautiful kids reach a sugar high!

This year I'm going to join one of the parties or maybe hand out candy with a neighbor.  It's just not going to be the same.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Second Guesses, Second Firsts

Every time I make a decision, not matter how large or how small, I end up making myself sick with anxiety second guessing.  Honestly!  Where have I gone?  I was the blond, confident oldest daughter of six kids.  The first to move out of state.  The only one to get a divorce.  I started a ladies investment club (after reading about the Beardstown Ladies) knowing NOTHING about stocks or investing.  Sheesh!  Where am I?

Maybe this is awkwardly normal for widows?  It is for me.  Luckily I am giving myself permission to change my mind.  Family and friends are seriously shaking their heads these days.  But this too shall pass.

And now to have second firsts.  My first venture in buying a car on my own (for the Portland condo).  Actually, probably a minivan because they are so easy to get in and out of.  And with grandson(s), easier for car seats and booster seats and me getting inside out of the rain to get them buckled into said car seats.  My first time ever buying a bed (I gave away our old king bed that has been in storage in Portland)(it had two permanent burrows). My first new holiday celebrations.  Obviously they are not going to be traditions as I will probably be doing holidays in Portland from now on.

Things to do, places to see.  Second guesses and second firsts.

Monday, October 28, 2013

ALMOST OVERWHELMING

Widowhood is a wild roller coaster ride of emotions.  Just when i think I have myself together, I go on a crying jag.

Today is grandson Braeden's third birthday.  Kate and Jesse are having a small family get together at Chuck E. Cheese, with Jesse's Mom, his brother and wife and their three kids.  Part of me is glad they chose a noisy happy place.  Maybe it will drown out my sadness.

Because today I am remembering the past two birthdays with Poppa's little man.  With Poppa.  His big booming voice, his big booming presence.  His utter infatuation with Braeden.  They were two peas in a pod.  He would choose a birthday gift that I didn't really think was appropriate for the age.  And it was always the thing that Braeden loved best.  A DVD movie of Cars when he was one.  Yet his Mom would play it every night at bedtime for him to fall asleep to.

Age two was huge, noisy battery powered heavy equipment replicas.  Yep.  He figured out how to turn them on and get all three of them going up and down our hallway.  This year I bought him a big boy bed from Ikea.



I think Poppa would have approved (even if it doesn't make noise!)

Here's the sad part.  I am overwhelmed by thoughts of what Mr. Ralph is missing.  The holidays will never be the same and I wonder if I should even bother decorating.  Maybe I can simply pretend Christmas is merely a Wednesday this year.  It will be easier in Maui since the weather will be warm and there doesn't seem to be as much decorating the outside of homes (unlike Halloween ... which is really big on the island).

I just miss him and his presence so much.  Not sure what MY traditions will be from now on.  Wicked awkward widowhood.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

THE FIRST HOLIDAYS

My first solo Thanksgiving in 40 years is on the horizon.  My Maui "foodie" friend approached me a few weeks ago about joining forces.  My sister is trying with all her might to get me to visit Louisville ... and kindly keep me for 3+ weeks.  My daughter and little family think I should return to Portland.  

Last year Ralph and I and our friend, Thor, went to Mama's Fish House on Maui.  THE best and most scenic restaurant I've ever been to.  We then hosted a traditional meal a day later with about five friends.  I love cooking and I love entertaining.  It was a win/win in 2012.

But after canceling with Leslie, I contacted her today and now we are back on.  Whew!!  She loves to cook as much as I do and so far, I have been relegated to crudites and a vegetable dish.  She is a gluten free baker AND wants to roast the turkey, make the stuffing and homemade bread!  I hope it's at my house so I can smell it all day.

Oh.  And I'm also in charge of the wine!




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

AWKWARD and NEW

Yep, I'm still in Portland and tonight I got together with some fabulous ladies ... most of whom I met playing Bunco (which I hate).  We did NOT play Bunco but shared some wine, some conversation and a few tidbits.  We sat sort of in a circle around a coffee table in my condo clubhouse room, so I asked each friend to catch me up on her life.

WOW!  Loss, love and laughter.  New grandchildren.  Downsizing.  Still employed.  Retirement.  A small stroke.  Travel.  New love (she's been a widow for four years!).  I am simply in awe of having these friendships.  Several for over thirty years.

Two others are also widows.  I loved hearing how they muddled their own ways.  What journeys we have.  But now I feel more confident that I will survive.  Somehow. It's just a lot of perseverance.  

It is still so awkward for me.  It is still so new.  So raw.  So sad.  So lonely.  So empty.  I feel like I am just taking baby steps but at least they are steps.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

UNWITTING WIDOWS

Oh my gosh.

My widow friend (five years since her hubby passed) finally found true love in August 2012.  She found him on Match.com.  Ralph and I both met him, and I have been to dinner with the two of them since.  A financial planner with charm, wit and intelligence.  

Until about a month ago when Therese let me know she was concerned.  He was spending less time with her and when he did, he was too tired to be much fun.  Coincidentally, she confided she had lent him money.  RED FLAG.


Rather than pry and ask her a lot of questions, I simply let her unfold the story at her own pace.  I'm so sad.  She started "lending" him money very early in the relationship.  Modest amounts with such logical reasons ... his car needed tires.  Dental work.  An apartment move so he could be closer to her.  Then the back taxes.  Which were a way bigger chunk of change.  It was simply a matter of cash flow, he said.  She never asked to see any receipts.  She put the cash in his account instead of paying the vendor directly.  OOOPS.  In less than a year the total was over $100,000.00.  No promissory note(s).  No change to his will to cover that amount.  A lot of empty promises, though!

The sad part is that she is not employed.  He still is!  She should have been "borrowing" from him!  But she drained her 401(k) ... which I am sure would cause him to lose his financial planning status/license knowing that she did that.

Then she snooped through his text messages and email.  Yep.  You guessed.  He had started seeing another widow.  And asking her for a bit of cash flow.  He was using Therese's money to set up his next victim.

Yet she is still "in love" with him.  Maybe they can work through this.

Yeh.  Right.  



Monday, October 21, 2013

A MILESTONE

This week I have been able to say Ralph's name, talk about him, as well as discuss all my indecision about life ... without crying!  I didn't think I'd live to see the day.  Almost always I tear up (and even choke a little) when people ask me anything about him or life without him.  This is such a GOOD thing.  I want to talk about him and hear others memories.  And laugh about him!

The sunshine has been out in full force in Oregon since I arrived.  It's just a tease as the horrible cold wet six months is on its way.  Having lived here for 30 years, I still remember to embrace every sun break because they are so fleeting.  July, August, September are Oregon's best weather.  Ralph and I would leave our island paradise to enjoy the best of the best in Portland.

I'm seriously thinking of investing in waterproof comfortable walking shoes, a mid calf rain coat with hood (instead of umbrella) and some gloves.

And moving back to the mainland for a while.

Friday, October 18, 2013

LIFE INTERRUPTED

It's been almost six months since my husband died.  What a crazy six months it has been.  I think I've been on autopilot as I barely remember things.  I'm kinda embarrassed.

This week I've been back in Oregon, my home of 30+ years.  Since I had just spent over a month with my grandson and two weeks with my daughter, I'm more focused on meeting up with my friends.  I cannot believe how happy I have been.  Just having a little face time with buddies has cheered me immensely.  THIS is what I'm missing in Maui.  

I'm also remembering how much MORE there is here.  More educational opportunities.  More socializing.  More community events. More movie theatres, museums, exhibits, conferences, retail.  I can plan a little getaway every month or two ... the desert, the mountain, the coast, Seattle, wine country.  I can afford to fly to the midwest to visit family.  Or elsewhere to visit friends!  Target, Trader Joe's and Apple stores.

But the weather.  Nine months of cold and wet.  Three months of heaven.  

What to do?  I know if I had my sidekick, we could have built a little retirement life.  Anywhere.  But now I know I don't like to be alone.  I want the choice of making plans from a pool of 100 rather than a pool of 5.  I don't think I have the patience to build up my own village.  Not by myself.



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

THE LIBRARY

Benjamin Franklin sure had a great idea when he started lending books.  It’s understandable that some books need to be purchased as they are used over and over again (I love cookbooks!)  Some books can be just for fun and one time only.  I grew up when the library in Columbus, Ohio had bookmobiles in the summer months.  We were a one car family with my Dad going to work, so it was perfect for our family as we were nowhere close to a bus stop.  Reading has always been a passion.

Our local library was not very close but our schools had great libraries.  In high school, the gang would meet to study (remember when Google wasn’t around and we had to look up things in encyclopedias?) and do homework together.  With a bit of boy watching tossed in.

The library in Oregon is super.  One whole floor is for kids with lots of scheduled activities.  We borrowed baby music and children’s books on tape when our kidlet was little.  Then movies.  We would borrow books on CD for road trips.  They even had art work you could borrow!  The other two floors kept me busy for 30 years.  I loved when the new best sellers came to the library as our location had several copies you could rent if you didn’t want to be on the long sign up sheet.  Twenty-five cents a day was worth it!

I did cave in and get a Kindle when I started traveling.  There was not enough luggage space for more than a couple of paperback books.  In some countries it wasn’t convenient to find books in English.  So I got to splurge and buy a few electronic books for the road.  My daughter just started reading again and since I inherited Mr. Ralph’s iPad, I gave her my Kindle ... with access to my books.  She actually loves Jodi Piccoult books also!

Unfortunately, my Maui library isn’t something I am proud of.  It is always understaffed.  They are open minimal hours and rarely in the evening.  It is underfunded so they are closed one day a week and it changes so you need some good luck.  The building and furniture is very worn (and dirty).  They do have a few computers to share but no free wifi.  It is very, very small (although they can get books from other libraries in the State).  So it seems I am doing more reading on my device than with nice papery pages in hand.


I kinda miss that. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

STAR GAZING

You know, I don’t gaze at our stars enough.  Maui is such a great place to look up.  3,000 miles from anywhere with a lot of lights, it is super amazing to just look up. 

It might actually be a good hobby to start.  We went on a full moon star gazing trip last year on a boat out of Lahaina (about 25 miles from home).  The trip featured a renowned astonomist who pointed out so many interesting things in the sky.  Planets, constellations (complete with stories), satellites.  I went begrudgingly but became an enthusiast.

Somehow it’s reassuring to know how small I am in the scheme of things.  I like believing I’m part of something bigger .. kinda like believing in Santa.  Since it is so clear here, I may just invest in a small telescope.

I have so much to learn.  Time to un-rust that brain! 


SCOTCH

Mr. Ralph has always loved a good single malt Scotch.  Straight up.  Neat.  No ice, no water, no soda. Mix mine with soda and a lemon twist ... although I prefer red wine.  Later in life, he further developed his taste.  Oban was his favorite.

While leading Biamp Systems to great success, he made a point of making sales calls with each of his Regional Managers.  Ian, his European manager, planned a great trip through several countries.  His FIRST ever trip to Scotland!  Complete with a tour of a distillery and a Scotch tasting.  His heritage is Scottish so he was excited.

Unfortunately, he left the USA with the remnants of a sinus infection and his third course of treatment.  Each day of the trip he became sicker and sicker.  So sick he stopped emailing me every day.  So sick that Ian finally took him to a Dr in England.  Who took him off the sulfa drug and told him to do nothing for the next 4-5 days.  He missed his sales calls and he missed the Scotch experience.  He thought he was going to die.

It turns out that he was allergic to sulfa!  That was the first and only time he was sick while on the road.  Thank goodness.

On a happy note, last year while we were in Oregon we decided to host a blind Scotch tasting party.  He chose one single malt scotch from each of the regions of Scotland (he loved doing research).  We found a Celtic store in Portland and bought a few authentic food items (I do not recommend cooking or eating haggis)(but we did).  Some music, a flag, etc.  We bought two bottles of each Scotch thinking one would be for the small tastes and the other for those who would then want a small glass.

Needless to say, we had one whole case of Scotch that never got opened.  So we held another blind tasting party for another group of 20!  


P.S.  He always chose Oban as his favorite!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

WIDOWHOOD HYPOCHONDRIA

Since the death of my invincible husband, I think I am becoming a hypochondriac - "a person who is abnormally anxious about their health."

After returning from my month on the mainland helping my daughter with her apt (and my cutie patootie grandson) I returned for some rest and relaxation.  I had scheduled my mammogram prior to leaving Maui.  In my little stack of mail awaiting my return was a request to send a fecal sample through the mail.  (Those poor postal workers).  I quickly disposed of that task, having never done one before.  One concern was the HEAT ... would that affect the sample?  And I had also scheduled an appointment with my GP as my knees have on and off arthritis (runs in my family ... my Mom had both hips replaced and my Dad his knees)

On the SAME day, I got two calls from Kaiser.  I had failed both the mammogram and the stool test!  Oh geez, my worry juices started flowing.  First I called about the mammogram ... had it been compared to my last one done in Oregon?  It had NOT, so I contacted the Portland lab and got a week long reprieve.  Then another call saying it was a new “suspicious” area.  What a process the second mammogram was!  It was over an hour of taking pictures ... using smaller and smaller paddles to compress smaller and smaller areas.  I actually had bruises after.  And had to WAIT for a letter in the mail (if it was good news ... a phone call if it wasn’t)

Next, blood had been found in my stool sample.  I had been taking a LOT of aspirin and Alleve during the past five weeks as my knees were killing me.  Kate’s apt has one bathroom and it is upstairs with the bedrooms.  I slept downstairs.  OUCH.  My explanation to the nurse, who wanted to schedule me with a SURGEON to discuss my options, was not accepted.  

I met with the surgeon with good results.  He listened to my aspirin story and agreed.  Especially since I had a perfect colonoscopy six years ago.  And he said to never take the mail in test again.  As long as the colonoscopy is clear every ten years, no worries.

That afternoon I got a cryptic phone call from a nurse at Kaiser asking me to call to make an appointment as soon as possible.  When I returned the phone call, it said that was a nonworking number.  I called my doctor’s office to ask them to check into it.  PLEASE don’t let it be the mammogram call ...

Before I got a return call, I got the great news in the mail!  Turns out the mystery call was from the Kaiser dermatology department to set up my initial body check up.

WHEW!  I’m a worrier I guess but not a hypochondriac. 

Now I’m concerned about Obamacare changing the guidelines on mammograms.

Here are the USPSTF's (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force .. formed by Dept of Health) recommendations (based on the new Obamacare):
  • Routine screening of average-risk women should begin at age 50, instead of age 40.
  • Routine screening should end at age 74.
  • Women should get screening mammograms every two years instead of every year.
  • Breast self-exams have little value, based on findings from several large studies.


IF a cancer should start the day after your mammogram, it would have two whole years to grow before insurance would pay for a mammogram?  This doesn’t sound good to me.

P.S.  It's just a tiny touch of arthritis in my knees ... the bigger issue is patellafemoral stress syndrome.  Worsened by wearing flip flops without arch support.  I bought some Orthaheel flip flops and once my body adjusted to the new posture, the knees are doing great!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

THANK YOU

Dear Mr. Ralph ~ 

Thank you for teaching me about death and dying.  You accepted your fate way better than I would have expected, and way better than I could have.  I think we were better off not knowing your expiration date so that we could just enjoy each day as we were blessed with it.  Towards the end, though, when the first words you uttered were “shit, I’m still here”, I kinda felt maybe you weren’t happy to see me!  Thank you for changing ... and saying “good morning, sunshine” and then “shit, I’m still here.”

For me, it was such a blessing that you didn’t put yourself through any more radiation than you did ... and no chemotherapy.  Maybe you could have have had a few more months or a couple of years but from what I’ve seen of others who have made those choices ... your quality of life would just suck.  You are such a smart man!  Mr. Independent.

The best part, though, is just how much having a sense of humor helped.  It made our last few months so darned normal.  We could laugh and not feel guilty.  Like when you asked me to (get up and) get you a Coke and I suggested that your legs were not painted on you quickly retorted “but I have bone cancer!”.  We could have a disagreement (every once in a while you WERE wrong) and I was confident that I hadn’t shortened your life (by much).

In hindsight, the greatest gift is that I am now able to call and chat with my friends who are dying.  If you hadn’t shared your experience with me, that just being normal is OK when someone is dying, I don’t think I would have the nerve to call and chat with Alice and Jan.  Now I try to have a conversation every other week or so while they lead the conversation.  If they want to vent, I’m all ears.  If they want some gossip ... I give them the scoop.  Sometimes they even want my opinion based on your journey.  I give it freely.  Usually we simply catch up on hubbies, children and especially grandchildren.  Dying IS normal.  Just seems like it’s coming too soon for so many.


Love you!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

PROCRASTINATION

Oh.  My.  God.  

I have perfected the art of procrastination.  Here I sit, writing my blog, when I have just 7 days to finish my 2012 tax returns.  Sure ... this year I have an excuse.  But honestly, almost every year I put off doing this unconscionable chore.  Maybe once every 7 years they get turned in on April 15.  Even when we hired someone to do our taxes, I still could not make myself gather up all the information in time.

But I do have some information on my side that putting things off isn’t always such a bad thing!  Wikipedia says:  Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones.

According to Freud, the pleasure principle may be responsible for procrastination; humans prefer to avoid negative emotions and to delay stressful tasks.  The belief that humans work best under pressure provides an additional incentive to postpone.


After 50+ years in Ohio and Oregon, when the sun comes out, inside works gets tossed to the side.  Here I am where it is sunny almost every day ... and my brain still says “go out and play, do the work later, don’t waste a sunny day!”

P.S.  When I went to Mint.com to get totals for medical, property taxes, etc ... they were down for maintenance.  It's an omen to wait until tomorrow.

Monday, October 7, 2013

DISNEY MOVIES

It’s official.  I’m now an old person.  I enjoy Disney movies!  It wasn't that long ago that I sorta chuckled at my parents watching Disney movies.  They started out when their grandchildren were visiting.  When I came for my visits, when TV offered nothing interesting (and they refused cable so that was a lot of the time), Mom would suggest we rent a Disney movie.  Every time I think of how intent they were when they were watching, I smile.

Of course, they were right.  Disney movies usually don't have profanity, nudity, extreme car wrecks, infidelity, graphic dismemberment and other yucky new millennium stuff.  Which doesn't add much to any story line, in my mind.

Every evening with Braeden, we watch a movie before bedtime.  He is enthralled with each one and usually prefers to watch the same one over and over (Toy Story 3).

While they are supposedly made for children, using wonderful colors, great voices and a good moral to the story, in between all this goodness are one liners just for adults.  They are priceless.  Now I sometimes chortle!  And both of us laugh out loud (although I hope he doesn't understand all of them yet)



Fortunately (for me) I talked him into The Little Mermaid this weekend.  Since he is loving swimming and he likes the ocean (the sand more than the water) AND he loves the Nemo movie, I was hoping it would be a hit.  It is!  The only complaint I have is that I have to adjust the volume down when a “scary” part comes on.  There is always a villain, even in Disney movies.  Often the mother dies (Bambi).  Throw in a wicked stepmother (Cinderella).  All of life gets covered somewhere.  


The music is pretty good also!

P.S.  I'm trying Bugs Life tonight.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

KAMA’AINA

Kama'aina (pronounced ka-ma-EYE-na) is the Hawaiian language word for long-term resident of the Hawaiian Islands. It derives from the words 'kama', meaning 'child', and 'aina', meaning 'land.'

In reality, it means DISCOUNT!  My short Google of how and when this idea of a discount on goods and services for residents didn’t say when it started.  But I’m glad it did.  I think it helps ease the high cost of island living for people who work and live here.

I finally got my Hawaiian ID so that I can take advantage of the savings.  Although we tried previously, the agency who regulated the IDs was 10 miles from home and did not take appointments.  People were in line at 8am ... and brought their lunches with them!!  Neither of us was willing to invest that amount of time!

Beginning this year, the Department of Motor Vehicles was assigned the duty which spread the burden to many locations.  I had to return to Oregon to get my ORIGINAL Social Security card in addition to all the other proof required.  I did the ID rather than a Drivers License because I’m not quite ready to forfeit my Oregon license.  I’m planning ahead here!  I don’t want to have to take the written test here in Hawaii (yes, the rules are different in each state!) and then try to take an Oregon test when I’m 90 if I return for some reason.  Color me lazy.  Again.

The discount at stores and restaurants varies.  Some establishments do not offer a discount.  Some offer between 10% and 25%.  During September and October, many fine dining restaurants offer buy one dinner get one free!


I just love saving!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

THE CONS OF LIVING ON MAUI

Hawaii IS paradise; with Maui being my favorite island of them all.  So why wouldn’t I want to live here?

  •     First of all, I can never complain about the weather.  Especially I can’t complain to Oregonians.  Oregon probably gets 75 days of sunshine a year.  So mainly I don’t mention our weather unless someone asks.  And I have to be careful not to be toooooo disparaging.
  •     I “have” to drive slow.  Mostly the speed limit is 20.  The highway is 45 in a few areas.  We still have a few impatient drivers but I love the relaxed pace when getting between here and there.  We maybe have a traffic snarl twice a year.
  •     There is not much distinction between weekdays and weekends.  Especially for those of us who are lucky enough to not be employed.  Tourism is the largest industry here and every day simply feels like a vacation.  I’ve lived here, off and on, for almost four years.  Each sunset is spectacular and different.  Most of us still rush out a few times each week to watch.
  •     One big expense that we can’t be annoyed about is suncreen.  Hats.  Sunglasses.   SPF clothing even.  No one on the mainland will feel much sympathy.  And I have to use it every day.  Sometimes twice.  
  •     I never get to wear a sweater or a scarf.  No Uggs.  In fact, I can’t even bear to wear closed toe shoes!  No snuggling up in an afghan and watching old movies.  No umbrella.  No heating bill.  Although our electric rate is FIVE TIMES the rate of Oregon’s and I avoid the stove almost as much as the oven.  We had room by room a/c units installed so I can cool just the room I’m using.  I am still afraid of my electric bill.  Now in the process of getting solar panels!
  •     Then there’s the caveat “island bound”.  True, Maui is pretty small.  We have just 81 named beaches (and lots that don’t have names but locals enjoy them more than the publicized ones).  We have desert areas and rain forests.  Bustling city centers and remote hike in areas.  Our Mt. Haleakala is 10,000 ft high.  It snows once a year!  While I do miss having a good old fashioned road trip, at this stage of my life I mostly stay within my zipcode anyway!  


So ... you can see all the negatives about living here.  It’s a sad life.  NOT!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Book of Ralph

After 26 years with the company, Biamp Systems, Mr. Ralph retired in 2010 on his 76th birthday.  Yep.  He LOVED what he did so he “never had to work a day in his life” ... one of his many (many) infamous sayings.  Not only did his family and friends hear these Ralph-isms a million times, all the employees at Biamp did also!  In fact, for his retirement gift, the Marketing Department spearheaded a collection of his most repeated philosophies into a coffee table book entitled “The Book of Ralph.”  

Mr. Ralph hailed from the heart of the Midwest, Indiana.  He was an only child, as he was born in the depths of the depression when having a child warranted condolences rather than congratulations.  His mother’s obstetrician suggested he be born at home as the hospital in their small town was prone to drafts along with airborne germs.  It was a very humble beginning.  He excelled in school and in sports.  His Dad owned a brake and alignment center that also sold gasoline.  So Mr. Ralph had a job from the age of 10.  He learned that good old midwestern work ethic from a young age.

I have a copy of The Book of Ralph.  In the storage unit in Oregon.  Fortunately, Biamp had two extra copies which they presented to me when I visited Portland shortly after his death.  I was unable to meet with his friends in person while I was there, but I did manage to meet with my buddy Dayna, the Human Resources VP, and her two wonderful teen daughters for lunch ... on condition we didn’t talk too much about him.  She mailed me the books.  Now I have one here in Maui that I can peruse at my leisure and share with friends who may never have met him.  And Kate now has one at her house.

I cherish this book.  And I kinda miss him telling me he was “busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest” ....


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

SEVERE ALLERGIES

I think I’m allergic to exercise.  Sweating goes against my nature.  Somehow reaching 61 and dealing with the stress of grieving, my body needs something.  I also have 50 pounds to lose but we’ll get to that later.  I’m still craving my comfort carbs.

Finally, I discovered water aerobics!  In Maui, this is something I can do every day. Outside.  Chlorine OR salt water.  A few weeks ago, I timidly went to the community pool, just half a mile away (yeh, I know...no excuses really) and watched a class.  Mostly older ladies, a token few older menfolk, and unfortunately, several younger, firmer ladies.  Three days a week the class is held in deep water, three days a week in waist high water.  I like the deep water the best ... it keeps my legs busy constantly trying to keep my head above water.  Kinda like real life these days.

The best part?  I met another widow friend who has always wanted to start exercising, and starting in the water is the best thing for these old joints.  Now I have an exercise buddy to keep me committed.  Denise prefers the shallow water class ... now I have to do both!


This could be the start of something good!  Beginning in November ... still got the almost 3 year old here.