Friday, January 31, 2014

MISSING MY MAN

Happy birthday, Mr. Ralph.  Today you would be 80 years young.  You deserved to live to 101!!  Stinking cancer.

For some reason this "holiday" is really rough.  On me AND our daughter.  Today she posted on her FB about how much she misses you.  We talked about how to celebrate.  She is taking Braeden to Honey Baked Ham for lunch.  For dinner she is making your favorite ... Eggs Benedict.  With key lime pie.  You would really have loved that!

We are going to Facetime tomorrow and she informed me it is OK to cry in front of Braeden.  She is teaching him about emotions.  How to identify them, name them and find a way to empathize.  If he is angry, how to acknowledge it and then move past.  We have raised a pretty great kid (although sometimes we sure didn't think so!!).

Although SHE is very good with me being emotional, I'm thinking I may not celebrate at a restaurant.  I'm just not sure how other patrons would take to seeing me cry ... for no apparent reason.  Actually today was pretty emotional for me.  I have so many happy happy memories of celebrating your birthday.  Our favorite restaurants.  Making your Mom's beef stew recipe.  Going to the Oregon coast.  Or Sunriver.  And recently Maui.  I especially remember last year's celebration with Jim and Carrie and Gary and Leilani.  

I also remember your plans with your grade school buddy Pat ... two old Geezers were going to take a vacation together to celebrate being 80.  Then he died two months before you.  It was so awesome that he called you the night before he died to say goodbye.  And apologize for screwing up the birthday plans!  You Indiana boys are something special.



But I promise to eat a donut for you!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

MENTAL CONFLICT

Last night I attended a Bohemian themed birthday party for a friend I met this past November.  Charlein is ageless but probably mid-70's?  Since that first meeting (on a beach, watching a sunset), I have been invited to swim aerobics, bridge and more.

At the party, with maybe 25 people, there were tarot card readers, angel card readers and even a Viking card reader.  I'm skeptical at best, a cynic or non believer more likely.  But it was a party!

The first was a group reading.  We each choose a card (with proper feeling and consideration!) and went around the table to show our card, provide insight if possible, and everyone at the table gave their input.  The "leader" then read the potential meaning from a book that came with the cards.



Mine said mental conflict.  Really?  All the rest of the ladies had fun and inspiring fortune telling cards.  I hate to say it but when I first looked at the card, I thought I saw the word DENTAL which was even funnier.  When the (thoroughly) serious leader asked me my thoughts ... I said I thought I'd like to pick a new card!

It got even worse.  She said this was a relatively new deck for her (apparently these people do this often?  wear out their cards?  use up the good juju?) and this card had never turned up before.  She struggled but couldn't really come up with anything positive (or even funny) for this card.

But now that I think about it, I do have a recurring conflict.  When I can no longer afford to be a snowbird (keep both Maui and Portland available to me) .... how am I going to choose???

Now THAT is a conflict!  At least we had cake!!





Tuesday, January 28, 2014

HIGH TECH GRIEF

I was trying to wait until February to tell you about another favorite iPhone app. 


But today I am sitting here with my best friend (laptop) learning about this and that, browsing for a new headboard for the Portland condo (have NEVER had a headboard ... until Maui) and ideas for giving the condo a bit of new personality.  I know I can't complain about the weather in Maui ... but it is cool, grey, rainy and WINDY again today, so I'm spending more time with my best friend.

There really IS an app for everything.  Just for fun I searched for grief apps.  YEP.  There are a few!  Some seem rather hokey to me ...  4beloved1 is a free virtual candle.  It's free but I decided not to download.

Heal Grief is another free app.  You can write notes or letters to your loved one when you have the urge.  When something like a sight or scent brings you a happy memory.  I usually talk to Mr. Ralph out loud (don't worry, only when I'm alone!) to tell him how and why this reminds me of him.

Memory is Life again is a free one.  Maybe they don't want me to post memories on Facebook or my blog ... maybe this is a place where people can come see what I've posted about grief ONLY if they register at the site.  Nope.  This one is not for me.

The last one I found was Daytime Affirmations for $4.99.  Apparently they will send me a daily uplifting little quote to help ease my journey, whether a death or any other sad event.

My Awkward Widow blog is doing it for me.  It is nice to know we have resources everywhere.  My Maui Hospice posted a reminder that they have a lending library (which I shared with my Facebook friends).  And I have to say reading other widow blogs has been my best resource.

Thanks for helping me cope with my grief ... in a high tech way.

P.S.  Tricked you!  I didn't spill the beans on one of my favorite apps!  Waiting for February .....

Sunday, January 26, 2014

CONTROL ISSUES

Right after Mr. Ralph died, I scheduled Maui Closet Co. to revamp our two tiny reach in master closets.  We got the design and quote over a year ago and I just had to numbly proceed.  This made it easier for me to donate his clothing since I had to empty both closets (and paint) in preparation.  No reliving memories or a pity party while softly stroking those well worn t-shirts ... just rushed right through it!

This past week I had the guest closet done.  Mainly for storage for some of my less used kitchen appliances ... while still offering space for visitors.




Everything is looking more organized around here.  In fact, I can't wait to get to the Portland condo and give it more of my personality.  My favorite widowhood blogger,The Misadventures of Widowhood, at: 


is also into getting her closets (and her home) orderly and more efficient.  She has the advantage of some cold and snowy weather keeping her indoors, but I'm wondering now if this nesting is really about something else.

Are we trying to feel like we have control over some small part of our new lives?  Because we have no control over our grief?  In my case, I do think this is the case.  Starting a project, no matter how small, and then finishing it gives me some real satisfaction these days.  Most things are not that big of a deal but I feel a bit happier once they are done.

Yep.  I think I have control issues.








Saturday, January 25, 2014

FORLORN

for·lorn
fərˈlôrn,fôr-/
adjective
  1. 1.
    pitifully sad and abandoned or lonely.
    "forlorn figures at bus stops"

Well, this just sort of sums up my weekend.  Honestly, I don't understand how these feelings just overwhelm me for no reason.  I'm keeping busy, eating better, sleeping well.  Enjoying the sunshine.  Taking classes. Calling friends and having great conversations.

Everything is going so well ... and then God throws me such a curve ball.  What's the point of days like this?  This process is a yo yo journey.  I'm beginning to hate it.  

I want my hard work help alleviate some of these days.  Maybe I should just go with the flow?  It's almost 7pm here ... time to order a pizza, toss a salad and open a bottle of red.

Here's hoping tomorrow is a bit more bearable.  











Friday, January 24, 2014

ANTICIPATION

To me, anticipation means looking forward to something with excitement or enthusiasm.  

I think this was what was missing from my first 8 months of my widowhood.  It seems I was focusing on things that were never going to "be" again.  Our little traditions were gone by the wayside of death.  And partly knowing I probably won't be making any new traditions with anyone.  Except maybe my daughter and her little family ... perhaps.  They are busy making their own rituals.

Part of my reason for returning to Portland for at least a few months of the year is so I could plan mini vacations or road trips.  I need to have something to plan and look forward to.  Looking ahead.  This is another goal in my journey.

In Oregon I have a lot more friends and acquaintances at my same economic level.  It's embarrassing to try to keep up with people who think nothing about flying over to Oahu to watch the Lion King, spend the night and go shopping the next day.  I feel blessed to be able to keep two little households going.  A few of my Oregon friends have recently retired and are wanting to have some fun ... but on more of a budget.  One couple and I try to find restaurants were we can enjoy a sit down dinner for no more than $10/person.  Friends in my condo complex are great about having potluck meals and hopefully now we can include bridge or board games.

My draw to Maui is the sunshine.  My draw to Oregon is my family.  I think this will all work out great IF I can get my daughter and her brood over every February for a week or two. That way we will only be apart for three months max.

Anticipation!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

CREATIVE COOKING CLASS

Wow!
Last night I attended my first cooking class.  Healthy, delicious, vegan cooking!  Tara (teacher and health coach) watched the movie "Forks Over Knives" about two years ago and decided right on the spot to become vegan.  She is married and at the time, had a 4 year old and an 8 year old.  What a brave journey!

Maui is filled with people who eat vegetarian, vegan, raw and live.  I'm even friends with a few.  My best and most healthy Maui friend is married to a meat and white carb man ... so she doesn't really cook.  My sister is on a specific carbohydrate diet for her husband's health.  VERY few carbs.  She kick started my healthier eating on her recent visit.  

We started with Tara's secret protein bars (think smoothy moist tasty almost fudge bars!).  Followed by a flavorful taco salad with lentil "meat", fresh salsa, queso blanco (think creamy gooey cheese sauce)(made from cashews) ... and a non-cheese cake with blueberry topping.

There were so many ingredients I had never even tasted before.  Tara explained the health benefits of the different seeds and fruits and nutrients as well.  What a lot of knowledge she shared.  She brought along the packages and explained where to shop (for best prices).

Tomorrow I'm making my first trip to the original "health" food store on Maui.




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

HOME SWEET HOME

We don't really own our homes.  They own us.

Even if the mortgage ever gets paid off (we did that!!), the she-devil demands a lot of attention and a lot of money.  For no reason, the faucets in each bathtub started to leak.  Drip, drip, drip.  When it got to constant dripping (and my water bill went up), I called the plumber.  Two and a half hours later (don't even ask the cost), he proclaimed all was well.


For two days.  Today he came back with the caveat that he would probably have to cut through the living room wall to change the valve.  WHAT?  I called my handyman neighbor who said yep, most cost effective way to change it all out ... or I could remodel the whole bathroom (which is what they have done).  Anyway, he got them both to stop leaking (again) by changing the cartridge.  Stay tuned.

This year I put up outdoor Christmas lights.  With the bits of rain we have had, the GFI tripped.  Guess where the GFI is located?  In the garage behind a 72" cabinet filled with gardening supplies.   With a container of camping gear stacked on top.  While I had a house guest, we emptied it and scooched it out enough to reach behind and reset.  But when it happened again, Bob came and put a hole in the back of the cabinet so now I can get on my knees to lean in and try to push it.  Inconvenient but possible!

Really!  This is a pretty new home (2001) and set up to be the most maintenance free and carefree ever.  Each plant, in the ground or in a pot, has it's own individual drip on the watering system.  My outdoor landscape lights turn on at dusk and turn off in six hours.  Soon I'll have solar panels and will need to learn something else!

It's a sweet little home that is just right for me.  But she still owns me.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

COUNTING CARBS

My older brother turns 65 tomorrow.  And started on metformin for prediabetes.

Our Mom had Type 2 diabetes.  She did not really change her lifestyle so she started on oral meds and continued on to insulin.

At my physical in May, my blood sugar level was just past the high end of normal.  I do NOT want to take medication so I'm ramping up my healthy habits.  The number one thing is increasing the exercise.  I am now walking for 15 minutes twice a day.  Last week Janet and I did laps when no one showed up for water aerobics.  It was great exercise.  

Naturally I went to the internet to see how many carbs per day are normal.  My previous diet was pretty heavy on carbs.  I found a great iPhone app called FatSecret (free ... how do they do that?) where I just type in my food and portion, and it keeps track of carbs, protein, calories, etc.  Very little effort on my part.  I've been successful at having breakfast every day (since the first of the year).  Now I have to plan on a couple of healthy snacks each day.  No more grabbing the bag of potato chips.  Half an apple with a tiny bit aged goat cheese kept me satisfied until the next meal.  I'm portioning roasted almonds for on the go snacks.

I'll keep you posted.  Gotta go on my walk!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

FRIENDS and ACQUAINTANCES


There is a big difference between friends and acquaintances.  I may have been confusing the two.  

I am learning something from that.  My goal is to have a circle of support.  My mistake is thinking everyone had to be my close friend ... when actually having friendly acquaintances is what I am needing.  Someone to go to eat with.  Or to a movie.  Or sunset.  I'm learning that I don't have to like everything about everybody.  We each have something in common and I need to overlook the things that aren't my cup of tea.  

Up to a point.  Hopefully I can learn to extend my "point" or circle to include more people.  Maybe we have fewer things in common ... walking or swim aerobics or bridge ... and simple chit chat.  That's okay!  I'm not going to hit it off with everyone but I can enjoy what seems to work.  Not every person will become a friend, in my definition.

My close friendships need care and attention on a regular basis.  We share more details of our life, ups and downs.  I need to give as much as receive.  Yet I think I can be friendly with more people just not as intense.  

So I'm trying to look at the people in my life being on the highway in a major city.  Some are in the beltway.  Some are in the outer belts.  In fact, Beijing has SEVEN rings of traffic.

I'm up to this!




Friday, January 17, 2014

WARRIOR not WORRIER

Today was sad because my sister left to return to her own home.  We have had so much fun together it's pretty unbelievable.  I admire her.  Because she is a WARRIOR, with a little less worry than I seem to have.

For example:  she never learned to swim when she was a kid and didn't feel confident in the water.  But she took swim lessons and now she is a SCUBA diver with over 60 dives.  Until her visit here, she always had her buddy (husband extraordinaire) at her side under the water.  But she scheduled TWO dives while in Maui.

On her second trip, at the second dive area, they spotted a tiger shark attacking a huge turtle.  Word spread and other boats came to the area to view the nature show.  After watching the brutality, she didn't hesitate to dive again (a distance away, but still ....).  Me?  I'm freaked out to participate in ocean water aerobics as Maui has had more than the usual shark attacks, including two deaths.  I'm definitely a chlorine girl.

My baby sister is a warrior.  I am making some changes to be less of a worrier and more of a warrior.  Confidence is a good thing.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

WIDOW EXTREME SELF CARE

I think I am growing accustomed to treating myself to indulgences.  Pedicures top my list and now I'm thinking this needs to be reclassified as a necessity.  Face it ... I can't see that well and it's getting harder and harder to reach down that far.

My sister is here and we have been giving in to luxury items.  Facial.  WOW!  What a difference that made in my skin!  So I scheduled two more before I depart my island.  Hey!  That's about the only part of my body that anyone else sees.   Which brings me to hair.  Since Mr. Ralph died in early May, I have been having my hair cut every 3-4 weeks.  I used to postpone until I was nearly crazy trying to get it to cooperate (6-8 weeks).  Definitely a luxury.  In December, my friend from Portland (who works at a VERY upscale salon) gave me a more updated cut which gives me a lot more bounce and curl.  Wash and wear.

And tomorrow is a massage!  Totally decadent but gosh do I feel great after.  Maui has a massage school where you can go be a guinea pig for $25.  I think I will indulge in a monthly treat.  It is good for my soul.

Now ... how to get rid of the age spots on my hands.....





Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MAGAZINES FOR FREE

Did you know the first library is over 5,000 years old and was discovered in Mesopotamia?   But Ben Franklin is the guy I remember who really got it up and running for the US.  I have been in love with the library since I learned to read.

In the late 1950's, the bookmobile was a big hit for me.  We were a family of six kids and my Dad drove the only car to work.  During the summer months, the bookmobile would park at the public school a couple of blocks away and we could get up to ten books.  Then I'd climb up the tree and read.  Perfect summer memories.


I've loved watching the library change and grow with the times.  First came magazines to read, as well as books.  Music to take home.  Art you could use.  Movies to borrow.  Books on tape (or CD).   Books for rent (when I just couldn't stand to be a the waiting list!)   Kindle books!

And now magazines!  I was feeling like maybe I made a mistake canceling my magazine subscriptions.  But now I've discovered the library lends e-magazines!  With no time limit (on books ... they used to vanish after a month or so).  Whoo hoo!  But of course, I stayed up way to late last night checking out both Portland and Maui listings.  Hooray also because they are different.

The app that makes this all possible is Zinio and it is FREE!  Hope it works in your local library!

Monday, January 13, 2014

iPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS

Well, YES!  I did it!!  This was the best four hour investment of brain expansion that I can remember.

My sister decided to take the class also so I will have someone with whom to continue the learning.  We started at Mieko's house at 9:00 am where she gave us a handout of what she would be presenting and also a little slide show.  Then we drove to a local bird sanctuary to practice.  There were four "students" so it was really hands on.  The other two were a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law team ... totally a family affair.

After about 90 minutes there, shooting the other four members in four kinds of lighting as well as landscape and macro shots, we headed to the beach and practiced fitting the "S" curve into our composition.  She is an amazing teacher ... she has all of the information and teaches with pleasant hands-on experiences ... and TONS of patience.  I had AHA moments every five minutes.

Then we went to lunch to take photos of our food (one of my favorite things to do) as well as learn how to use an app she showed us.  FABULOUS!!  With the people shots we learned how to take their faces out from the shadowing when the sun was behind me.  Amazing

Check out the before and after of a reflection photo.



Gosh I'm not going to be getting any housework done for a few days!!

P.S.  The daughter-in-law turns out to be a healthy eating coach and cooking instructor so next week I'm taking her class!  Vegan!!



Saturday, January 11, 2014

GRANDPA GEORGE

My friend George is 94 1/2 and lives in Portland.  I met him 10-11 years ago when I wanted to pay it forward.  Mr. Ralph's mom was able to live in her own apartment until the very end because folks in her little town (Vincennes, Indiana) pitched in to help her out most days because her only child lived out of state.

I figured there must be a grandperson in Portland whose kids lived out of state and I could become her helper.  My first volunteer job was at my local adult community center.  I let everyone know I'd like to "adopt" a grandparent to form a friendship with ... who just needed an extra helping hand sometimes.  Through our hair stylist, I met Grandma Pat.

They lived in a condo complex a mile from our home ... and they had a swimming pool so Kate was always interested in visiting also.  Pat would always invite her over for a special Halloween treat just so she could see her costume.

Over time, Mr. Ralph and George were pulled into our friendship, sharing day trips and dinners and holidays.  Pat had Parkinson's Disease and wasn't able to get out on her own.  George was a very devoted husband but hey ... he doesn't like browsing or tea houses or trips to the daffodil farm.  So we would have a field trip every week.  We had SOOOO much fun (she bought a pair of shoes ... her fetish ... and had me hide them at my house and deliver them when he was away ... because she had about 200 pair!!!)




George broke his ankle (skiing) early in our friendship and was unable to manage the household duties. I stepped in for daily visits.  What a hoot!  They used one set of dishes(china)  AND silverware (yes, real silver) for breakfast and lunch and a totally different set for dinner. They had "elevenses" and cocktail hour every day.  Pat could not carry the crystal pitcher, or anything really, so we devised a modification to their routine.  We got her a walker with a basket (getting a walker took a lot of convincing) and a seat so she could bring things to the dining table.  I bought juice in individual cans that she could carry then open at the table.  When I came after lunch to load the dishwasher (boy did she hate waiting with breakfast dishes in the sink), I would set up the cocktail station with their nibbles.  I kept George out of the way by bringing him the WSJ every day ... and after than six weeks, he got a subscription!

Eventually she had to move to in-home 24 hour care but I came every week with a coffee or hot chocolate and some good gossip .... or recipe ... or a People magazine.  George went every single day.  When she died, one of the first things he said was "will you still come visit me every week?"  And so I did.

He has since moved to a retirement community and was pretty sad when I started spending more time in Maui than in Portland.  He learned how to Skype and we email and phone each other.

Gosh is he happy to hear that I will be doing majority of time in Portland!!!  Me too.

Friday, January 10, 2014

BRIDGE NIGHT

Yep.  We found a place to go play bridge last night.


During the afternoon, Janet showed me a few rounds along with her strategy.  I have never played bridge nor have I ever watched people play bridge.  While it is complicated and commands a very good memory, I think I like it! 

I put a request on Facebook and several friends steered us to a senior residential community where they open up for "party" bridge every Thursday night at 6:30.  Three friends joined us and one agreed to let me shadow her.  She has been playing for over 40 years and is a wonderful teacher.  She will be on Maui for a month and we hope to get together a couple times each week.


Twenty percent of the people there last night were VERY serious and harsh and sorta mean.  Everyone else just had fun and didn't feel the need to criticize everyone's every move.  I was sitting and shadowing the same player (friend of a friend), trying to wheel a chair along when we had to move tables.   The most beautiful 70-ish woman was meaner than a junk yard dog to me.  To the point of saying having me sitting there was ruining her game!!!!  Complaining that there were too many players now that the snowbirds have arrived (she is also a snowbird from Seattle!).  Grumpy girl.  And wouldn't you know she was at our table 90% of the night!

Despite cranky britches, I had a great time.  The location is close to home and they stop at 9pm.  Today I'm going to look for a card table and four chairs.  My square dining room table is too big, I think, for comfortable reaching.

Bridge just might be the connector to more friendships!


Thursday, January 9, 2014

MEMORY

My baby sister is here for ten days.  We are the best of friends and communicate almost every day.  Some days it's just a text.  Sometimes we need to vent to someone who would NEVER repeat it.  Best kind of friend to have!

Unfortunately for me, she is totally healthy and fit and thin.  She is also brave and adventuresome.  And so much more and I truly admire her.  She is courageous and determined.  She overcame a dislike of water and learned to swim.  Now she SCUBA dives.

She came to help me with Mr. Ralph and then brought her whole little family of four over to say goodbye while he was still Uncle Grumpus.  He was able to eat a bit and chat a lot so it was wonderful.  And here she is with me to help me get through this awkward widow phase.

I know she wants me to come live with her for three months so she can kick my butt into shape.  Instead, she is here sharing fabulous healthy meals and even went to water aerobics with me (despite the COLD water and wind and cool temperatures ... she has zero body fat so it was extreme for her).



Last night she got me to participate in some memory games.  She is fresh from a weekend seminar of learning how to be more creative (as if she needs this).  I learned that I need to exercise my memory and brain as much as I need to exercise my body!!  It was a bit humiliating but I can see a lot of help available online to build it back up.  AARP and Luminosity are two that look most intriguing.

I might even learn to play bridge!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

FAVORITE APP FOR JANUARY

In the midst of all the frugal cost cutting, I decided to open a new credit card to reap Alaska Air miles.

They are now the only airline that flies nonstop Portland to Maui.  My other credit card is Hawaiian Air but they discontinued their nonstop.  They offer a way more comfortable flight but it's annoying to fly 30 minutes to Honolulu then wait for an hour or two to get on another airplane.  Call me lazy in my old age.  It's not that I don't have more time these days but since I don't knit, it doesn't seem like productive time to me.  (And they don't have free wifi.)

I also have American Express as my Costco card which gives money back every year.  Somehow the idea of a free flight is more appealing to me than the cash.  Mostly likely I will keep all three cards open but mainly use Alaska.

You know how much I love my technology.  I always ask people their favorite apps.  I thought I'd share one each month that you might be interested in.  For January ... it's Mint.com.  An online, all inclusive financial information program.  Maybe it's a little risky giving this company your banking information AND your password, but gosh does it save a lot of time by immediately posting every credit card charge or portfolio activity and offers a bottom line net worth on a daily basis.


Mint.com makes my life even easier.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS

Next Monday is my first photography class!

It's amazing that I'm actually following through with starting a hobby.  But I realize how much of our lives are now captured for posterity since the invention of digital photography.  Even more so now that our phones are our cameras!  This class is specifically an iPhone photo class.  I'm so excited.


The instructor is a professional photographer here on Maui.  We've never met.  A Facebook friend of mine often posts her photos of Maui which I also loved.  So I "friended" her about a year ago just so I could gawk at her work.  Which is also her hobby.

She is also a food photographer!  Mr. Ralph and I would always take photos of our food to add to our collection.  And apparently lots of people do the same thing.  This 3 hour class (with two or three other students) will focus on the basics of composition and lighting, using apps to edit and sign our work, a field trip to try out our skills followed by lunch at a cafe (I might mention Mieko is a VERY healthful eater which will also keep me on track with my new life style).

The only negative is that my sister is visiting so she will be on her own that morning ... or she can join us!!



Monday, January 6, 2014

BLOGGING BUDDIES

I want to take a blog to say thank you to all the other bloggers that I read ... and those that I will soon discover.


My first following, The Misadventures of Widowhood (hi Jean!), was a perfect match for me.  Her husband died about a year ahead of Mr. Ralph so I glom on to any tidbit she discusses.  My favorite thing is her sense of humor!  Honestly, I don't think any of us would survive if we weren't allowed to be a little irreverent about the whole journey.  I would much rather laugh than cry.

In fact, she is the one who encouraged me to write my blog.  I was pretty happy to find someone who thinks and laughs the same way I do, so I didn't really need to reinvent the wheel.  But she suggested I do one anyway.  Am I glad I did!  Who knew I would have diarrhea of the mouth!!  I can't stop writing.  Often this blog is not about death and grieving and starting anew.  It's all about me.  My reasoning is that people do not HAVE to read my meandering thoughts but I HAVE to get them out of my head.  I am often surprised when I discover someone who is reading this.  

She and I often borrow a thought from the other's blog ... she thought maybe it was copycat-ing (you know how I dislike any word that has CAT in it ....)  I prefer to think it is buddies sharing and taking the thought even further.  Each of us has our own perspective on life's events.  I've learned so many valuable tips from her and others.  Sometimes it's just the idea that was swirling in the back of my mind but I hadn't been able to find the words.  It's safe to say it's Jean's fault that I ramble on and on.  Ha ha ha!!

Based on how reading widow blogs are helping me with my loss, I'm now finding blogs on other topics of interest to me.  There's a blog for every season, that's for sure.

Blog on my friends!  Even though I am not as good at adding a comment to each post, I'm reading!!!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

SCARY

Or, as Braeden says "scaywee."

My best-est Maui friends and neighbors popped over last night.  Although we see each other several times a week and talk or text every day, for some reason we were all pretty chatty.  

I'm not sure how we got on to the topic of travel.  Maybe because they are planning a trip to Seattle to spend a week with their son and his wife.  Traveling from Maui is a BIG expense at the best of times and we went online to check prices.  How cool is it that you can see ticket prices by the day!  One day it is $184 to go to Seattle.  Another day it's $747!  For the same flight on the same day!  And the prices change just about every day.  I think I am going to buy one way tickets from now on and then travel when the fares are down.

We started talking about the out of the country travel I got to do the last five years of Mr. Ralph's career.  I'm so glad for the experiences but I would NEVER travel to a foreign country on my own, especially big cities.  I am definitely a country mouse.  Landscape and natural beauty is the best.  While we were talking I suddenly remembered many SCARY things that happened on some of these trips.


Mr. Ralph had meetings or conferences during the day so I was on my own.  On my trips to China I had Haijing (wife of a sales manager) to lead me hither and yon.  Thank God for her.  Especially since I have a shellfish allergy which SHE could communicate to each restaurant or host.  

When crossing from Hong Kong into China to head to a resort (think Disneyland for adults) which featured lots of Biamp products, there was a checkpoint filled with uniformed people.  With rifles.  And they all looked very angry.  They collected all of our passports (there was a van of 7-8 of us) and had us each get out of the van so they could stare at our faces while looking at the passport.  After they waved us through, one guard pointed a weapon inside the van ... which turned out to be a high tech thermometer to see if any of us had a temperature!  I thought I was going to die.


Argentina was very scary.  I wanted to take a cab downtown to shop, then walk back to the hotel.  The doorman asked my name and room number, and before I could get in a cab ... he got in and wrote down the cab number and the cabbies name ... in case I didn't return safely!  He admonished me to go into a restroom if I wanted to look at my walking map.

We always got to stay in the nice, safest parts of each city but Chile was another fright.  A helicopter landed on my hotel!!  How scary is that?  The whole building shook.  I thought it might be a movie star or celebrity.  I rushed to the elevator and when it stopped ... two BIG burly guys dressed in black with walkie talkie ear buds, blocked the entrance while saying "please wait for the next car."  By the time I got down, the handsome looking man they were protecting was ushered across the street.  Apparently some big time business man!

Don't even get me started on the Caribbean islands.  We stayed at one mostly inclusive resort and if we wanted to leave the grounds, a hotel employee had to accompany us.  Boy did he have fun while some of the wives went trinket shopping!

There are lots of places for me to visit right here in the good old USA.  I'm not going to say I'll NEVER travel to a foreign land .... I'd like to take some of Mr. Ralph's ashes to Scotland ... but it will take a lot of convincing.  And maybe my own bodyguard!

Me and Braeden do not like scaywee.







Saturday, January 4, 2014

RETURNS and REFUNDS

I need to rearrange the cabinets in the garage.  

A tall cabinet is in front of the outlet that has a GFI.  It rained on my outdoor Christmas lights which triggered it to turn off and after a bit of hunting around, M'Linda helped me empty the cabinet and scoot it away from the wall so I could press "reset" and we put the cabinet back.  And it rained again.  I can't do anything without another set of muscles (hee hee, my sister is arriving on Monday!)


While I was starting my organizing, I came across a few items from our local hardware store that had not been opened.  I decided I would probably not ever use any of them, so I took them back.  Since I didn't have the receipt, I got store credit but gosh I go there pretty often (when I'm too lazy to go to Home Depot which is 10 miles away and so HUGE!)

Next I found a few things from Walmart WITH the receipts attached and off I went to get more money refunded onto my credit card.  I ended my day taking the recycling and I donated my refundable amount to charity.

All in all, almost $100 was back in my pocket.  I'm getting on a roll here!!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

CUTTING COSTS

Now that I'm putting some effort into this frugal stuff, I've found many tiny things I can change without feeling like I'm giving up too much.  I'm committing to taking baby steps.


Today I cancelled three magazine subscriptions.  My library in both locations carries them, so I can go spend some time in the quiet.  I also cancelled my online edition of the newspaper because really .... lately I've only read the headlines.

Maybe it's lucky that I've enjoyed a pretty spoiled life for the past twenty years.  Because it has sure been easy to see where to trim the fat!  I'm going to save my coffee shop drinks for social events instead of an almost daily treat.  The trick to living well on less is to be conscious of where your money goes.  My plan is to keep track of every penny for the next two weeks (longer if I need to) and then look for more cuts.

I considered cutting the house cleaner down to once a month instead of every two weeks ... but I think I'd rather turn off the cable TV first!!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

FEELING FRUGAL ~ FINALLY!

Since Mr. Ralph retired, we continued to live as if he were still employed.  Honestly I am grateful I threw caution to the wind not knowing he had such a short time to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Several friends advised me to be kind to myself and make this first year all about pampering ME.  Extreme self care.  I've always put my husband and my daughter (and now my grandson) first.  This putting myself first took a little getting used to but now I've got it mastered!




The bad news is it's time to get on a plan so that the money lasts as long as I do.  I'm too young to collect Social Security but hopefully in May (age 62) I can begin to collect (although get a lower amount) based on my own earnings.  That will help.  At 66 I can collect his Social Security which is more than triple my early withdrawal amount.  

I've also been helping to support my daughter and her son which will need to taper down to nothing by the end of February. (It will be much harder for me to stick to this plan, I'm sure.)  She then has an inheritance from her paternal grandparents that will last her til the end of 2014 when baby #2 is old enough for her to go back to work.

Today I spent a few hours reviewing expenses and where I can trim.  Yep!  I found several things I can live without.  I reduced my cell plan.  It's time to curb the widow spending.  I'm thinking this is doable!