Monday, September 29, 2014

ANOTHER WIDOW MILESTONE

Sunday was my 30 year wedding anniversary.  I was going to write "would have been" but honestly, it WAS my anniversary.

Fortunately, a high school classmate (whom I have not seen or spoken to since 1970!) was in town for his daughter's wedding.  Facebook was our starting point!  I said if he had time in between festivities, we should meet for coffee or lunch.  The fun was already planned out for everyone but we finally met around noon on Sunday when he checked out.

And his plane wasn't leaving until midnight.  Ahhh!  I'm not sure I can make small talk for that long.  What do GUYS want to see or know about Portland?  With that kind of time we could drive to the Coast or up to the Mountain ....

We finally settled on a tour of my cute little city and a visit to the condo.  He is still running a small company in Atlanta and lives with Wife #2 in a big home.  Turns out that was a wise decision not to downsize as an adult daughter and her 9 year old moved in this them.  Then we drove east on the Scenic Columbia Gorge Highway to Multnomah Falls.  He actually wanted to get to the airport early to try for an earlier flight home.

All in all, it was very pleasant and we were never at a loss for words.  A few way-back-when moments but mostly in the here and now.  When I got home, I started reminiscing about Ralph and romance and how we made a celebration out of anything ... and everything.  He was very big into flowers and I'm the practical Taurus who knows they will only last a week (or less).  But I bought a gorgeous Autumn bouquet.  I opened a nice bottle of red wine.  And cried.  


To top it all off, my Un-son-in-law called (after Kate reminded him it was our anniversary).  I barely remember his kind words since I was trying not to cry in his ear.  But he ended by saying  Ralph was the most influential man in his life.  He learned a lot from him and hopes he can raise his boys to be men like him.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

IN THE ARMY NOW

Oh how I love Mr. Braeden!

For some reason, he fixated on the army guys in Toy Story.  He would carry army guys every where he went, despite his Mom saying he shouldn't because he might lose one.  In fact, he did drop one behind a gum display ... where they were climbing up to reconnoiter.  Mom said too bad, I tried to warn you.  Let's go.  He looked her in the eye and said "no man left behind" and the clerk came around, moved the display and returned the little green man.

Now his bedroom at Gramma's house is totally Army and camouflage.  Every time I see anything camo, and it's affordable (think Walmart), I buy the shirts or shorts or sweatpants or shoes.  A helmet from the Dollar Tree was a great success.

He loves to feed his little brother.

Often when he spends the night, he dresses camo, grabs his cork and string rifle and a flashlight and we tour the condo complex.  Most everyone thinks he is adorable except for one who doesn't think it's age appropriate and he will turn into a warmonger.  And especially I shouldn't let him play with guns.  Well.  That boy can turn a piece of toast into a gun and pretend shoot me!  He used to look for sticks that would work.  Mom and Unson-in-law finally caved when an older neighbor boy gave B his old nerf guns.

He loves his new bedroom.  Usually he asks for a "ticket" to enter.  He has to sleep in the center of the bed, right under the army man figure on the bedspread.  There is much talk about a camo birthday cake with helicopters and army guys.  He's excited there is an army guy ride at Disneyland.


He's got an army man costume for Halloween.  Mom painted her nails camo.  We are all playing along.  I think he will grow up to be a fine young man.  Enlisted or not!





PRETTY PINK PARTY

Last night a condo friend hosted a pink party.  It started out to be a celebration of when she got her neck brace off (hiking accident and fractured her neck).  As usual, life got in the way (and other parties) so then we thought it would be an October event and we would raise some $$ for breast cancer.  Life again got in the way.  So it was Friday evening.

Annie always brings a plastic wine glass with a pink flamingo base ... which is why I thought it fun to do a pink party.  And we decided on ladies only.  For some reason, yesterday, a lot of people just wanted to stay home.  Including me.  But I have the insurance rider indemnifying the HOA against alcohol related damage, so I did need to go.

It was great fun!  Almost everyone wore pink and our favorite party girl really outdid herself.  We have a fun loving group!




I think there were ten of us, off and on.  Great snacks (home made wild mushroom pirogues, salmon spread, delectable little warm sandwiches, ravioli with lobster sauce and lots of the usual items) and lots of PINK drinks (mine was champagne).

We all agreed that despite our hesitance, we were glad we joined in.  Our young Board member popped in after she got her babies to bed.  She talked us into having a costume party for Halloween!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

WET DREAMS

A very catchy title, eh?

But I'm really talking about how I'm planning to live my new more active life during the rainy season in Portland.  It's not starting out so good.  Yesterday, I didn't make myself go for an intentional walk.  Although several times when it wasn't raining, I did walk a little errand or take a walk with the Handykid's daughter and later Mr. Braeden.

Son-in-law Jesse (without the marriage license) called to ask if I would take him to get his car battery replaced.  I invited Braeden to ride around with us (he looked so adorable in jeans and a white golf shirt).  Goodyear did not have the same battery in stock so asked if he could return in an hour as they would have one delivered.

That worked out perfect for me!  Lunch with the boys!  Jesse then emptied my car from the previous day's Costco trip and Ikea trip.  I sure do love having younger muscles around!  He trimmed a few plants, hosed off the patio (sawdust left behind when I rushed Handykid out) and greatly admired my storage closet with new wooden shelves that utilize every cubic inch of space.  

This morning I have a teeth cleaning appointment then fun with the whole little family, including lunch at The Original Hotcake House.  Mr. B gets to spend the night!  In his beloved Soldier Guy Room.

He will walk with me rain or shine.  Little does he know I have a Spiderman umbrella for him!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

IT HURTS UNTIL IT DOESN'T

My neighbor has been a widow for over thirty years.  Yes, she still misses him and her heart aches.  I hope I never forget my guy.



This second year of widowhood is not as intense as that first year.  I was almost one of those wailing in the streets kinda widow.  Everything was bigger than imaginable.  I'm pleased to learn that this year the ups are still high and the lows are more bearable.  This I can manage.  Hopefully.

Right now I'm sad and missing him like crazy.  It's our first rainy day ... the day we would start getting excited to head to Maui.  One year we left for our island in early November but I wanted to come back for Christmas.  My gosh it poured rain the entire 2-3 weeks we were in Portland and EVERY time we went outside he'd remark "why are we here" again.  Then he'd pull out a photo of Braeden, or a cute video, and then he would sigh... "that's why."

I'm moving towards the stage of grief where most of the annoying things are floating to the background of my memory.  Some of the once annoying things now are kinda cute.  

It's hard to believe that our anniversary this month would mark 30 years!  Thirty years!  Who would have thunk it!

Monday, September 22, 2014

AUTUMN PERSPECTIVE

Today is the official first day of Autumn!

I don't know why I enjoy celebrating the start of each season.  Although it's probably just another aging kind of thing.  My Mom was the same way.  She just delighted in so many things.  Kinda glad I got that from her!

But it also begins the rainy season here in Oregon.  In fact, predictions are for rain to start tomorrow and be off and on all week.  I know that will affect my getting up and out of this little place.  No more flip flops when walking about the complex.  Sox and water resistant shoes.  Sweater or jacket.  Umbrella or raincoat.

I think I will up my Vitamin D intake.  The constant grey really does get to me after a while.  The condo is a downstairs unit and we are surrounded by mature trees.  So it seems darker also.  That too, is part of my aging journey.  Mr. Ralph would get pretty grumpy about mid-January.  I always thought it was work related (trade show season) or his birthday arriving at the end of January.  But it was SAD.  He even bought the special light bulbs to help but in the end, it was only Maui that helped!

While I am looking forward to see how I handle the grey and wet for a few months, knowing that the sunshine and warmth of Maui are in the near future surely helps.  The house there is my retirement program.  Hope I don't need to sell it for at least 50 years!!!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW ....

Yesterday I finally found my computer glasses.

The past few months have been awkward (I love fitting that adjective in) while working on the computer as I have to take OFF my glasses and increase the font on all pages.  The distance to monitor is too close for my trifocals yet a little too far for naked eyes.  The red computer glasses are just right!

My handy dandy optometrist said I need cataract removal on the left eye in a few months.  Which poses the question of having a permanent contact lens inserted.  She also suggested that I have distance lens in one eye and reading lens in the other eye.  This just sounds pretty awkward to me!  Do any of you do this?  Is it possible that your eyes will work together in this way?

In the meantime, IF I have the permanent lens in one eye, the right eye has another year or more before it is bad enough for insurance to pay.  SO ... does this mean I have glasses with just one lens?  Or do I try (for the umpteenth time) to wear a contact in the other eye?

Mr. Ralph had one eye done with the permanent contact lens.  He had worn contacts for 40 years, so wearing just one wasn't a problem for him.  Except when it came to reading in bed.  He needed reading glasses for just one eye!

My snorkel mask is optically adjusted.  I will need to get a plain one after the surgery .... or maybe a computer-distance prescription?  Goodness ... it's always something!



Friday, September 19, 2014

WALK WITH EASE

Three weeks ago I started a walking program at my local Adult Community Center.  Organized by the Arthritis Foundation, who trains each leader.  It's the half way point so we checked our progress.  Yep!  Improvement!

I was skeptical.  Honestly, I wanted to prove to people that "working through the pain" doesn't really work for arthritis.  Probably it was good for the rest of me, physically and psychologically, but certainly not my knees.  Now I have to eat my words.
After our first session, we got a free pedometer from the ACC (not necessarily part of the Walk with Ease program).  My goal was to reach 5,000 steps aka 2.5 miles.  I did take Advil twice a day and I did walk every day.  My knees were noticeable but didn't HURT.

While I was under the weather, I didn't walk for five days.  My knees hurt when I did walk.  But not as much as they used to.  And I think they will continue to feel not so bad.  Because I am building muscles!  Another participant has had two knee replacements.  BEFORE her surgeries, her doctor sent her to physical therapy to strengthen all her leg and knee muscles.  Which made her recovery faster and easier.  She is going to share the exercises with us.

I love that I continue to learn new things.  Even when I'm skeptical.  And guess what our slogan is?  Sitting is the new smoking!




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SEXLESS YEAST INFECTION

Today I woke up with a yeast infection (down there)!  It's been probably 20 years since I've had one.  But I guess I'm rather lucky.

It sounds like UTI's and yeast infections increase in old age.  That's not fair!  I really want to have a conversation with the idiot who coined "the golden years" phrase.

These days the first line of defense (after home remedies which I'm not patient enough to do) is over the counter antifungal capsules or cream.  Over the counter!  No trip to the doctor.  I'm guessing my immune system is down because of last week's ill health.  Let's hope this three day regime works.

Reading online was a bit discouraging about contracting urinary tract infections and/or yeast infection more frequently as we age.  And not just "down there."  Mouths. Toenails. Feet.  Under the sagging breasts (ouch).

The first issue is thinning of the skin which used to fight off a lot of these menacing things.  Another reason is that this generation travels more and is exposed to strains of yeast they've never met before.  And we are more active and often reward ourselves with a juice smoothie or coffee for a while after sweating.

Last but not least, some very elderly are unable to clean themselves as well as in the past.  Or they forget what our mothers told us ... front to back, never the other way!


I'm thinking a bidet should be Medicare approved to help ward these infections off.  It's very common in Europe and especially in Japan and Asia.  Would save us American's a lot of paper (and maybe even put Costco out of business).  Most of us don't have room to add a bidet.  Now there are toilets that combine bidets or bidet devices you can add to the toilet you already have.


Decisions, decisions!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

HIP HIP HOORAY!


Today I am happy BECAUSE I am healthy.  Amazing how they go hand in hand.

Praise the heavens!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

WEEPING WIDOW


Yep.  This is so true.

We had so much we wanted to see and do.  One of our favorite sports was taking a drive.  Even just in Oregon there are so many places that neither of us has visited.  Once he retired, we voted him the travel planner.  He'd look online and talk to others then say "wanna go look at Oregon ghost towns?"  And so we did.

The mid-Eastern section of Oregon is not very populated.  I think we drove 8 hours without passing another car!  Huge farms and cattle ranches.  The ghost towns were disappointing as it was usually just two buildings that were abandoned and ghostly looking.  (Yes, he bought a couple of books on the topic ... the photos were shot from the only angle possible to entice you to come visit).

Even in Maui, during the hot part of the day, we would plan a little driving adventure.  He loved taking photos ... so often we'd pick a theme.  Old churches.  Beaches.  Cemeteries.  Sunset.  Waves.  Flora and fauna.  Secluded villages.  Treacherous one lane roads.  Yes.  I have over 10,000 of his photos!

Being sad and missing him, and our fun together, always ends on a happy note.  Some days it takes longer to get to the happy part.  I have to be honest and say we really did have a fun relationship.  Despite our many disagreements!!!  Even though one of us thought seriously about divorce at least once every few years.  Over the silliest of things!

So glad I stuck around for the finale.  I sure do miss this guy.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

SELF INDULGENT WIDOW

Boo hoo.  I've caught a cold.  Achy.  Listless.  Runny nose.  Slight cough.  Sleepy.  And a big baby!

But there's good news!  I can be indulgent.  There isn't anything on this widow's calendar that can't be cancelled or postponed.  On Thursday and Friday I took a three hour nap each day.  Last night I slept 12 hours in a row.  I'm drinking lots of water and tea.  Taking ibuprofen and antihistamine (when needed).  Box of tissues beside every place I could ever be in the condo.

My worst symptom is loss of personality.  I'm grumpy (to paraphrase my almost 4 year old).  I'm lazy.  There are things I could do WHILE being sick.  But I don't want to do them.  I'm sick!



And I'm the only one around to pamper myself.  Time for another cup of tea.  And a nap.

Friday, September 12, 2014

SEXY PASSWORDS


Wasn't I just talking about passwords the other day?  Now I'm doubly glad I have 1Password.  It was easy to open up the program and change my password.  And since now I have different passwords for every website I use, I didn't have to change more than that one.  A bit of peace of mind.

Also, I did figure out how to use 1Password on my iPhone.  Which is a big help since I play with my iPhone when eating out alone.  Kinda like bringing a book or the newspaper.  Because I do always have a book going on Kindle and a magazine on Zinio.

If these evil doers would put their intellect and ambition towards doing something productive, they would all be millionaires.  Why are some people so stinking mean?  One of my condo neighbors had her Yahoo email account hacked which then sent emails to many of her friends asking for money to get her and her husband out of Istanbul where they were doing missionary work.  Believe it or not, these two ARE very religious and most of us could picture them doing missionary work.

Another neighbor sent $$$ (a lot) via Western Union to help them get home.  Without checking to see that they were safe and sound at their own condo.  Then he came by their place a week or two after to ask for his money to be repaid.

Awkward.  Another reminder to do some homework BEFORE falling for a scheme.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

SEPTEMBER 11, 2014

What vivid memories I still have of this day.  I keep myself far removed from wars and how other countries treat their people because I don't know how to help.  But when they bring their evil to my country and my people, it hurts.

Mr. Ralph was trying to make some stock trades and was cursing the computer when they wouldn't go through.  I was watching the Good Morning America show.  I just started crying.  Hard to explain to our teenaged daughter.  

It is hard to believe it has already been 13 years.  In some ways it seems like last year.  In others, it seems ancient.  Several friends had happy memories of that date ... until this tragedy occurred.  Birthdays and wedding anniversaries.  First dates and engagements.  All now seem overshadowed.


I am so proud to be an American.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

10,425 PAINFUL STEPS

Last week I got a pedometer.  And started an Arthritis Foundation approved "Walk with Ease" class.


Yesterday I walked 10,425 steps according to my little buddy.  All this time I thought I was sedentary.  I was aiming for 5,000 steps a day and figuring I'd have to take a 3 mile walk every day to reach that goal.  It's definitely a new habit to remember to put that thing on.  But yesterday I did it first thing in the morning until I went to bed.  A lot of the steps are right here in the condo!  Which isn't that big!!

I'm pretty sure this freebie is not as accurate as a FitBit or other expensive high tech toy.  It probably overstates but it IS something to remind me to move around more.  Since I'm competing with myself, it works well enough for me.

My favorite brother-in-law is a doctor who told me that it won't make the arthritis worse or progress faster if I walk.  He also said that whatever movements bother me the most are probably the thing I should do more of.  Stairs!  So every day I climb a few flights.



What I was hoping for is less pain.  That maybe walking a lot every day would building muscles around my knees and hips so that walking wouldn't hurt so much.  I take ibuprofen daily now (otherwise I would scream as I walked ...) and lately I take it twice a day.  But yesterday was bad.  Regardless of the week of intentional walking.  At bedtime I took another dose of ibuprofen AND two Alleve.  This morning feels better.

Last night my buddy invited me to walk up for ice cream.  I wanted to spend time with her (and for some reason, ice cream sounded really good!) but I explained it was a kneesle day and I just couldn't walk.  So we drove and each had an old fashioned hot fudge sundae.

I've decided to find an arthritis specialist or a knee doctor.  How do I know when it is time to give up daily over the counter stuff?  What is the next line of defense?  Prescription arthritis relief?  Cortisone injections?  Replacement?

Both of my tiny homes were chosen for WALKABILITY.  Never in my life have I lived some place where I could walk to my destinations.  Now that I have this dream ... I can barely walk?  Nope.  Not gonna take that for an answer!!

Stay tuned!

Monday, September 8, 2014

I DIDN'T COME HERE TO MAKE FRIENDS

All of these blogs are just me, venting.  Some happy, some sad, some angry, some funny.  None of them are sponsored by anyone and are able to be read by everyone.


Unfortunately, feelings have been hurt.  Friends and family are not always happy with me.  I do not protect anyone's identity although some blogs don't mention any names.  And although I started just blurting out my feelings and my thoughts, I had no idea that I would make friends!

YES!  There are people who read this blog besides the mandatory family members and close friends.  Mainly they are fellow widows who inspire me, encourage me and continue to tell me I am not crazy on this ridiculous grieving journey ... and that whatever is happening, it is OKAY.  No matter my dilemma or concern they always tell me it's normal ... part of the process.  Good friends.  Great widows!

I have been fortunate to meet one blogger in person.  Time Goes By author lives right in my condo complex.  She is busy and active and intellectual and has gotten me involved in the development stage of 3 Rivers Village. We are not friends, but friendly.  (I don't think she takes time for friends).  

I'm also paying it forward.  After being encouraged by The Misadventures of Widowhood when I first found her blog, I am making myself available to friends and neighbors who are interested in blogging.  A few weeks ago three of us met in our Clubhouse for a two hour session.


This blogging hobby is just perfect for me!






Sunday, September 7, 2014

STRIVING FOR HAPPINESS

Today is one of those days where I had to pull myself up by the bootstraps.  I just woke up with a feeling of sadness.  And I gave into it for an hour or two.  But it's a sunny crisp day with a high reaching almost 90 degrees.  I decided to put my sadness in my pocket and get along with the day.

I can't believe I'm going to say this ... but taking a walk helped a lot.  Not a brisk walk even (kneesles today as well) but a gentle 20 minutes of wandering around.  Fortunately, a few neighbors were out and about so I made myself approach them and chat.  That wasn't in my comfort zone yet I survived and feel more human because of it.


Now I give more thought to how I treat people and howI react in different situations.  I can take the time to give compliments, listen carefully, and smile more.  The more I practice, the less work it becomes.

Small accomplishments continued.  Made the bed, cleaned off the patio of army men and a tub of water and boats and little boy goggles, and emptied the outdoor storage shed so my handykid can build some shelves to actually FIT my storage.  Emptied the dishwasher and started the last load of laundry.

I have a Maui friend arriving tomorrow afternoon so I straightened the bed and ran the swiffer.  Of course, they have to scoot around the baby Play n Pack and containers of toys, but all in all it's worth the daily rate!  Unfortunately, they have to depart Tuesday morning in the EARLY morning so I can't skip my Walk with Ease class.


I'm beginning to see happiness as a "choice" most days.  Not something to be chased or bought.  But something to invest a little effort in.  It will never replace my grieving but it allows me to carry on.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

WHAT a WIDOW DAY!

Wow.  Now that was a day!

I had a morning meeting (financial people again) in downtown Portland.  With all the summer construction, school back in session and a new bridge being built ... I gave myself plenty of time.  Also had to look for parking.  Right off the bat my day was joyous as there was a parking place right in front of the building!

Although the cost is still astronomical, I sure was more impressed with their presentation and explanation.  Next phase is to meet someone I will actually be working with since this guy was the salesman.  Very convincing!  And my Schwab guy mentioned that he was bringing his mother to this company!!  SOLD.

To celebrate the great morning, I went to a Starbucks drive thru ... where the person in front of me paid for my coffee!  I've done that a few times but have never been the recipient.  Another great big smile.

Onward to Bed, Bath and Beyond for hand towels and wash cloths for the guest bathroom as my Maui buddy and her hubby are heading my way.  The lady in front of me gave me some of her 20% off coupons!  Gee could this day get any better?

Most everything I wanted at Whole Foods was on sale (that NEVER happens).  Sushi lunch was delightful and inexpensive.  And the evening was capped off with Happy Hour dinner on the outside patio of a great place, with three condo dwellers.




Life really is good.

P.S.  Why didn't I buy a lottery ticket?????

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

SIXTEEN MONTHS OF WIDOWHOOD

September 2, 2014.  Yesterday marked 16 months since my guy got his wings.  I still miss him like crazy.  I'm always amazed how I feel on each monthly missing.  I try to take a few moments to remember and love ... and know I'm able to survive without him physically here.  




I'm a little jealous of my widow friends who have dreams about their missing man.  I've only had one.  And I wish I would have more.  Every time I see Braeden's face, at a certain angle, he looks exactly like his Poppa.  He usually has a few comments about Poppa every time I see him.  I wish Poppa didn't die.  Do you think Poppa remembers me?  Do you cry for Poppa?  Out of the mouths of babes.

Kate encourages me to let him see me cry and to tell him why.  Emotions are normal parts of being human.  And somehow I always manage to end on a fun, positive note about his infamous Poppa.  How can he remember so much when Poppa left before he was three?




It's just another miracle, in my mind.  That man will never be forgotten!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

APP OF THE MONTH

I sure like apps if the program is something I can really use.  I've almost named all of the ones I use frequently.  But let's see ....

1Password.  At first I didn't really consider this an app as it is on my laptop.  It is a program that saves your passwords AND will even create crazy long passwords for you.  Then every time you go to a website where you created an account, you click on the "key" on your tool bar, it calls up that user name and password, plugs them in and voila!  You are in!

All you need to remember is the ONE master password.  Then the rest of the passwords are safely stored.  I don't understand how they keep the info safe, but my highly technical nephew recommended this program when I was at my wits end trying to change passwords when Amazon and someone else BIG were compromised.  

Of course, being the skeptic that I am, I still write the important ones down in a safe place (and put them in my safe) (which my executor knows).  If memory serves me correctly, this program did cost $50 but gosh is it worth it!



Now.  To figure out how to use it on my iPhone!