Saturday, January 31, 2015


My special man is 81 today.  He really should be here with me.  In Maui, his favorite place in the world.

We always celebrated his birthday several times.  He loved going to the Oregon Coast and invariably it was sunny!!  Then we held a Super Bowl party as it happens right after. I don't have TV service so I'm still trying to wrangle an invitation somewhere ... or I'll just watch on the computer.  (I did buy some artichoke and spinach dip to celebrate). 

Once Kate left the nest and we started being in Maui for his birthday, his tradition was to go into the ocean first thing when he awoke.  (Sorry Buddy, too cool for me today!)  

Today is double hard for me and my kiddo.  She and her little family are at Grandpa George's celebration of life.  We were both pretty lucky to have found local grandparents to adopt.  They attended grandparent's day at her school.  Invited her over at least once a week to swim in their pool.  Dressed up on Halloween and she was their only trick-or-treater.  We had great times as family.  I'm sad I'm not there to share my wonderful memories.

Tonight I plan to view the sunset from Sugar Beach in Kihei.  It's where we fell in love with Maui twenty years ago.  We stayed at the condos there every time we visited and it just feels like home.

Maybe I'll enjoy a Scotch for him as well.

Friday, January 30, 2015


Some days, I just don't have words.

Tonight at 
Maipoina Oe Iau Beach Park

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Several of my blog friends are using the winter months to work on their history.  When I first got to be a stay home Mom, I ventured into this as well.  Too bad it is in Portland on my old computer.

When a couple of cousins and my sister urged me to organize a family reunion, I didn't think about getting all interested again.  But here I am.  Maybe I should have been a detective in my former life ...

I don't even remember what software I used!  There are probably better sources that are easier to use.  Any suggestions?  I will contact my cousin's daughter who seems to really be getting into genealogy ... including DNA testing.

It is a time consuming hobby.  Mr. Ralph's Mom was orphaned at age 12 when her mother died and her father went to an "institution" although we don't know if it was physical or mental.  My paternal grandmother died in childbirth and baby was adopted.  I finally got to meet him ten years ago.  He's the spitting image of my grandfather!

My grandmother's grandparents came from Germany ... complete with last minute surname changes or written illegibly.  With 11 children and a husband who was an alcoholic (yes, death certificate said cirrhosis of the liver).

So while I have no historic heroes (not even old favorites who've been knocked off their pedestals), and so far no rapscallions or ax murderers, it's still very interesting to me.  Now that I'm old and most of the older relatives are gone.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


So far, I have enjoyed a great month of Maui vacation.  Even on the coolest days all I have to do is think about Boston right now.  Brrrr.  The sun has been out every day but three.  All is good.

Now to have some visitors!  I'm getting excited!

Next weekend a Portland friend is coming over via Honolulu where she has some business.  Arriving Friday evening and leaving Monday afternoon.  She has never been here before and we only get together once or twice a year (usually with grandkids), so I'm quite flattered!

February 15 brings some Seattle friends who are staying two weeks.  We will overlap a few days then I head to Portland on the 19th.

My niece arrives on her Spring Break from Mt. Holyoke ... and I hope she brings a friend!  It will be awesome to have some bonding time.  I can't believe she is 21 already!  She is the BABY of our family.

Right after she departs, my sister and hubby are coming for a week.  Considering they have to fly all day long, I wish they could stay longer.  Alas, he still has employment to think about!  She might stay longer although their NYC coop is ending it's remodel so she will be anxious to see that through.

Last but not least ... my friends from East Coast arrive May 15 so we overlap five days when I return to Portland for the remainder of the year!  They will stay longer.

I just love it when a plan comes together!

Monday, January 26, 2015


My lasting love is technology.  One divorce.  One death.  Internet has never left me.  Until today!

Who knows why but it was down in the whole neighborhood all morning.  Even though yesterday's blog was about doing nothing, actually I do a LOT on this computer.  I was getting a little anxious after the first hour!

I'm head of two committees at the condo, as well as editor (and main contributor) of a monthly newsletter.  Which is due two days before the end of the month.  It's not much but this month we gave the newsletter a name (To The Pointe) (as the complex is called Oswego Pointe Village) ... and I tried a new cool format.  Can you say learning curve?  Oy!

Late last year I got the brainstorm to put together a family reunion in Columbus this summer.  I've been contacting cousins (two aunts are left but do not do computers) and getting their kids' names, birthdates, etc.  Via email I'm bugging them to find a PLACE to have it ... then we will move on with logistics!

In Spring of 2014 my high school chums decided we should have a 45th reunion ... and of course (since I love my computer and I did this five years ago), I volunteered to handle the master spreadsheet.  This reunion is also in Ohio the day before the family reunion.  (Smart planning on my part, non?)

Last but not least is my volunteer work for Three Rivers Village.  I set up and manage a Facebook Page (check it out and LIKE it!).  We are getting forms and formats put together.  Notices to be posted.  Sign in sheets.  Getting to know you sheets.  And now ... yep ... I'm crazy ... I'm going to maintain a website.

And my beloved blog!

These are all great ways to volunteer no matter where I am.  And I really do love technology.  Poor Mr. Ralph always wanted to give me jewelry ... and I would say "oh, that would be lovely" but I don't really wear jewelry and there is a laminator on sale at Costco.  Or a new iPhone.  Or laptop.  Or classes.  And then we have the printers and scanners and external hard drives.  Oh my.

I can't wait for Valentine's Day again this year.  Hmmmm

Sunday, January 25, 2015


I am so content.  Content is such a happy word, don't you think?

It's partly from the perfect weather here in Maui, perhaps a bit more enjoyable when the really bad weather hits the mainland.  It's mostly from the sunshine every single day.  Love getting my Vitamin D this way.

Today I'm doing nothing.  I met some friends for breakfast, after they finished church.  (I worship at St. Mattress of the Springs).  Nancy is a friend from the next neighborhood and her two cousins spend the winter with her.  

Now I'm home.  Working on computer things for the condo community and my local Village.  Having my second cup of coffee at 2:00 pm and I just turned on Netflix for some company (at least in words).

The best part of all?  I do not feel guilty.  It's taken a few years to get that midwest work ethic way into the back of my mind.  We all spend our early years rushing around in the morning trying to get husbands to work, kids to school and then ourselves to the office.  Then we gather everyone up, get them to lessons or business dinners.  Dinner, homework, extra curricular activities, baths and a glass of wine and to bed.  Repeat.

And now I don't.  So I don't!  I felt a little better after reading this ....


Friday, January 23, 2015


Words are powerful.  

I'm very choosy when it comes to words.  I love the dictionary and the thesaurus.  Especially now that is at my fingertips on the computer!  Words can have so many different meanings.  Some very close to getting my point across but just not quite right.  

Recently I was called an old mean girl.  A bully.

Which made me think this person thought I was aggressive?  Look at the choices of synonyms.  In my mind, aggressive has mostly negative connotations.  Hostile, belligerent, antagonistic, truculent, pushy.

Assertive, in my mind, is a quality.  A trait for success ... in business and in personal relationships.  Confident, assured, decisive.  I admire assertive people.

My philosophy is to have a conversation.  NOT a confrontation.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


I am not a mean girl.  Everyone who knows me would agree.  If I ever have hurt someone's feelings, it has never been on purpose.  EVER.

Nor am I a bully.  I grew up at the bottom of the school cliques.  Nerdish in fact.  I was bullied but nothing very major.  Enough to know I would never do that to anyone.  EVER.

This past month a neighbor/friend in Oregon has been at the brunt of a bullying episode with her 14 year old daughter.  In a chi chi zip code.  And I think THAT is what makes it worse.  Highly educated, wealthy.  I feel so bad for her and her parents yet PROUD that they are standing up to this.  I am doing everything I can do to help.  

Young lady was SOOO excited to land a spot on the high school dance team.  A team bonding party would help all the new members get to know each other.  Coach said pizza, movies, conversation and fun!  Instead it was humiliation ... boys (not on the dance team) threw water balloons at the newbies at full force.  Later they were forced to slather maple syrup on themselves and wrestle in feathers.  Made to walk in the Willamette River, barefoot, in the dark of night.  Tossed into cars and trucks with no seat belts.  There is more but you get the picture.

When this little lady confided in her parents, of course they called the coach.  Who scoffed at this little "initiation."  They went to the school.  No one did a thing EXCEPT taunt the whistle blower.  Even the coach ... via text message.  These brave parents went to the police and finally, to the press.

Only then did people pay attention.  At a recent school meeting the other parents screamed at the family saying nothing happened, just let these girls dance.  The family had to file restraining orders for their daughter ... against some of the teams' parents!

My daughter went to this high school.  It was bad back then.  IF you had money or influence, your child could smoke pot in the hallway at school (ZERO TOLERANCE FOR DRUGS), and get a week's detention after school.  A neighbor being raised by grandparents was suspended for two weeks for smoking pot NEAR the school.  Ridiculous.

Bullying seems to be running rampant in our country.  It is appalling.  Yesterday I was accused of being an "old mean girl" on another blog.  NOT.  I'm this close to republishing my blog.  It is all true and I only wrote after this person QUIT a key volunteer position and hyped it up on their own ... blaming it on everyone else and then emailed it to the entire "confidential" mailing list.  

I just don't feel that vindictive.  Or mean.  Or bullying. But if I change my mind, this time I will put in actual names.  Just sayin.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Bank of America, are you kidding me?

Remember almost two years ago when BofA shut down my Hawaiian Air credit card?  Without notice, locked me out of my online abilities.  I couldn't get Hawaiian Air to refund dead Mr. Ralph's airline ticket because they could ONLY return the money on the same card that paid.  Grrr.
Fortunately, I filled out an Alaska Air VISA application and now have enough miles to make a round trip First Class trip from Portland to Maui.  I'm pretty sure now I am going to cut up that credit card.

I just got an email saying they were sending me a NEW card (to Portland) as their system has been compromised.  This is the FOURTH time this has happened.  My online payment programs use this card for everything ... hence all the miles.  Car insurance.  Amazon.  Internet.  Home insurance.  Health insurance. And so many more that I don't even remember until the next time I try to use it.

Maybe my credit union will let me have a small limit VISA for places that do not accept American Express.  Or maybe I'm just going cash.

Are you kidding me?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Yesterday I enjoyed a simple day OFF from the world.  Didn't talk to anyone.  Didn't even text my kidlet.  Just a day for me and him and all the memories we have together.

Mr. Ralph enjoyed the outdoors.  Building conveniences for our life style (decks, stairs to hammock, flagstone pathway, outdoor lighting) and planting for the future.  Maui was certainly the right choice for a tiny house rather than a condo.

(at dusk last year)

The south side of this place is an amazing lush tropical garden.  My caretaker neighbors (Bob and Paula) have even improved on it!  Things grow too fast here, so they halved most of the plants and replanted and added a few slower growing things.  Hacked the tops of plants that became too tall and planted the pieces at the bottom of the same pot.  Some ferns and spider plants escaped their pots and planted themselves in the ground.  Looks fabulous!

(At noon-ish today)

Today I finally got motivated to plant some herbs.  While I was puttering, Bob and Paula popped over.  She helped me plant then went home and got some starts from her yard.  Bob is adding a hose bib to the front of the house and got that finished!  Now the Lazy Widow doesn't have to go to the side of the house, unroll the heavy hose, drag it over the fence and THEN try to spray off the whiteflies on my gardenias.  I'm going to try hosing them off every day for a week before I resort to Neem Oil.

My condo community is starting a Memory Garden for our neighbor friends who have died.  Not one plant for each person, but just a nice grouping of shrubs and perennials with a small plaque.  More of a small spot to meditate and remember.

And I have my Memory Garden here.  You can never have too many memories ....

Monday, January 19, 2015


It's perfectly sunny and 82 degrees.  But when I pulled up to Home Depot, I just burst into tears.  

Now I'm running all the wonderful times through my brain.  As my friend The Misadventures of Widowhood says ... it's time to have my pity party.

Home Depot was his favorite place.  If I ever wanted to get on his good side, I'd suggest we go there and browse around.  Honestly, it worked every single time.  Then I remembered his last trip to Home Depot.  We had just gone inside and he had to sit in his walker, almost in tears.  He didn't have the energy to walk the warehouse.

An angel in an orange apron came over to see if we needed any help, and those two struck up such a conversation, that I went over to the plants and let them have man time.  The employee went far and wide, bringing the parts and pieces he thought would work for that project.  

As we were leaving, I turned toward Krispy Kreme (another of his favorites!) and he said no thanks.  He confided he thought that was the last trip to Home Depot for him ... he wanted to get home and take a nap.

I am sorrowful and just missing him.  He is my delight!

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Yeh, sometimes the title just draws you in!!!

This blog will not contain real names.  To protect the innocent ... in case any of my nosy Maui neighbors read this blog.  I'm pretty sure after reading about themselves in the very first months, they probably shy away!!

I have some really good friends who are going to come to Maui and stay for six months!!  Now I can procrastinate on whether or not to sell the place.  They are both VERY handy and can fix most anything, just like my neighbors who are moving away.  In return, they get a nice long visit in Maui.  They both have been longing to see what it would be like to LIVE on a tropical island.

I feel a bit bad as they are staying summer through Thanksgiving ... the hottest months of the year.  But even at its worst, it's pretty darned amazing.  We have great inexpensive air conditioning in the hot part of the day ... and to sleep.  I leave it set at 75 all the time!  Never open the windows or doors for the tropical breeze ... as it comes with volcanic red grit AND black ash from cane burning.  I go outside when I want to be IN the weather.  Lanais on both front and back that are amazingly serene and comfortable.

We seem to be related by cat, in so many different ways.  In fact, if I had one dead mouse, I would give it to them.

Maybe if this sharing thing works out well for them ... we could rotate summer and winter stays.  I am just so grateful that God works in such mysterious ways.  Exhale.


Saturday, January 17, 2015


Yippee!  I just got a $16/month raise!!  My first SS income of 2015 truly is an extra $16/month. 

Remember a few months ago when I started making a concentrated effort to be more frugal?  I've made several (small) changes over the past months to slow down the cash outflow.  Eating out is no longer a daily event.  I bring the other half of my meal home for another sitting. No more Starbucks every day, now just two times a week ... and I combine it with a social visit.  But I still buy Starbucks coffee beans to enjoy at home.  Hey!  Baby steps.  

My latest savings is to let my hair go grey(white).  Last time I tried it I had a handsome hubby to consider.  He claimed he liked it but I looked 20 years older.  Now I guess I don't really care.  My "men" prefer to call me Grandma!!

Friends and family know I enjoy my red wine.  Now I buy it at Costco 90% of the time.  If it's a special dinner or I receive an invitation, I go to my friendly neighbor who is a wine steward.  With a budget in mind.  And gosh Jody is great a choosing the best for my buck.

Home entertaining is being done more economically as well.  It is ALWAYS potluck.  I'm researching and making less expensive main dishes (Sunday Soup Supper!??).  Leslie and I are taking turns hosting girls night in and healthy cooking every Saturday.

Last week I bought a quart of half and half, for my morning coffee.  I felt so proud because I filled two ice cube trays with little puddles of half and half, froze them and then put into storage bags.  Yeh, it's only $4 but it all adds up, right??

My biggest savings has been to make myself stop supporting my daughter and her little family.  Mr. Ralph and I have been contributing to her lifestyle for ten years.  Like huge training wheels.  As most parents do, we thought we were helping her.  While she was in rehab, we had family counseling via telephone.  We were NOT helping her.  We were enabling. 

  • Helping is doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing themselves. Enabling is doing for someone things that they could, and should be doing themselves.

Mr. Ralph suggested we give her a year's notice before we turn off the Parental ATM.  Her paternal grandmother left her a nice inheritance when she was seven.  Thankfully, we never told her.  So after rehab, and after her Dad was gone, I told her about it and said this was the last financial help that we could provide.  She (wisely) chose to have it deposited monthly for a whole year.  This wonderful gift ended December 31, 2014.

Friday, January 16, 2015


My Mom was from a family with 13 children.  We have just two of her siblings left.  In a moment of insanity, I decided to try to get a family reunion together for June 2015.

For some reason, we are not a very close family (compared to some of my Italian friends).  When my Mom and her siblings were around, we'd get together about once a year for a potluck pre-Christmas gathering.  The Whipple sisters were a fun loving, creative group who loved to have a good time.   I remember those get togethers lasting from noon til night.  Lots of girl cousins so we could talk music and boys and whatever.

None of the siblings went for having 13 children but we have families with 7 children, 6 children, 4 children and so on.  So I do have a few cousins.  Sadly, I am only in touch with three and that is mostly Facebook, online Words with Friends and the occasional email.  I yearn for more.  Sitting here for 62 years hasn't made me any closer so I'm making an effort to at least get some of us together.

Casual picnic potluck, I think.  In Columbus, Ohio since most of them are near there.  Thankfully two of my Columbus area cousins are willing to help me pull this off.  Can't wait to see how it goes!

Now I need to learn ... second cousins, cousins once removed, grand nieces and nephews, ....

Thursday, January 15, 2015


As we widows know, it is hard to be a third wheel when it used to be a foursome.  Most of us don't have employment so we can't develop friends from the workplace.  I, for one, enjoy friendly neighbors but I don't want to be too close to the people who live beside me or over me ... in case I need to remind them of our rules and bylaws.

Luckily for me, I have two couples who still include me, myself and I ... on a regular basis.  Thanks Bob and Paula ... and Eli and Rae.  Love you!  I also have a couple of great married lady friends who are great about leaving their hubby behind for some girl talk.

Believe it or not, it takes some effort to find new people you might want to befriend.  The first step, just like AA, is to admit you want more (some)(one) friends.  It's not a character flaw! It's just so ... human.

Remember you will need to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a congenial person.  It's hard to NOT take it personally if you invite someone for coffee and they say no.  I've learned to not say "want to get together for coffee?"  Now I say would you have time for coffee next Weds?  If I make the effort three or four times with no success, I step back from that person.  Believe it or not ... sometimes they will eventually call back!  And sometimes they don't.

After a get together, one on one or small group, determine if you are compatible.  Does this person listen as much as talk?  Are they too upbeat or too whiny?  What topics do they bring up ... bad health, potty habits, family trouble ... or something new happening in your area or an activity they think you should try or politics on a non argumentative level.  Another important aspect for me ... similar physical ability.  I can't join them in a half marathon but maybe I could do a 5K walk!!

Another thing that is important to me is having the same standard of living.  I can't afford to (or choose not to afford) go to $200 dinners at new restaurants or take a cruise or whatever.  When I do meet up with wealthier people, I just admit that I can't join that particular activity due to financial constraints but would like to go to see the movie XXXXX if they'd like to go.

Initiate a more intimate event.  Yep.  Invite them to your house.  Dust off your recipe box.  Or make it a potluck.  Or it could be mugs and muffins one morning.  Or a dessert bar.  Or wine and cheese.

Really, making the first move is probably the most important.  It's a palm sweating experience.  Every time.  Kinda like being in an elevator.  Do you start a conversation?  Or sitting next to someone on a crowded bus or plane.  I chat for a few minutes, then casually say how much I enjoy the peace and quiet of a 5 hour plane ride so I can crawl inside my book (or magazine).  Because I really do enjoy being unavailable for a bit!

Last and most important.  Just say yes.  Many times I think I'd rather NOT do that but accept the invitation and climb out of my comfort zone.  Just now.  Leslie invited me to an Island Art Party.  AAAAAHHHHH!  I'm embarrassed by my lack of talent and already I'm sweating.  Since I'm in the middle of writing this .... it was an omen to say yes.


Oh. My. Goodness.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I have been lucky enough to make time to volunteer since Kate was little.  At preschool I got to read to little people.  Or help with art projects.  It was such a delight.  (Kids really do say the darnedest things!)

In elementary school, I worked more in the background (Kate was a bit embarrassed although she also enjoyed having my presence there).  I helped kids who didn't have parents to help/encourage them with homework.  Monitoring the computer lab was a very interesting task ... with 20 third graders!

While she was in grade school, I volunteered at my local Adult Community Center which eventually led to a spot on the Board.  Then a full time job as Volunteer Coordinator.  And best of all, we found some "adopted" grandparents to bring into our lives.

Yes ... I was present during junior high and high school.  Where things got a lot more interesting ... with the OTHER volunteers!

Throughout all of these volunteer positions, it was evident that there are a few kinds of volunteers.  Way too many "volunteers" simply want their name to show up.  When called upon, they are "too busy" yet still want to remain chair of that committee.  Several times when I arrived to do my job, I was commanded to go gather things from another mother's car and bring them in ... because she didn't want to mess up her clothes.  Or could I drag out the tables and set them up as that Mom had just had a manicure.  

Luckily I could always find socially appropriate words to politely, yet firmly, say no thanks ... I've got my own work to get done.  Is there a class on how to motivate volunteers?  It still annoys me!!  It's understandable that some volunteers have more time than others but EACH volunteer can commit to something.

Just do it!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Since full time retirement in 2010, I have enjoyed my slower paced life.  I no longer feel compelled to rush around in the morning and be out of the house by 7:30.  Now I get up at 7:30 or 8:00 and mosey along with coffee and computer.

But what if I wanted to do all the things others suggest I should be doing?  Could I even fit everything into 24 hours?  Studies show we should get at least 8 or 9 hours of sleep every night.  Some suggest an hour of meditation in the morning.  Add an hour of exercise.  Don't forget an hour or two of journaling or blogging.  At my age, I need to give back to my community so add several hours to one day each week.

Enjoy sex (alone or with others).  Another hour?  Read and keep up with current events.  Maintain family relationships.  Laugh a lot ... which means I watch a TV show or movie or YouTube or Facebook an hour each day.  Or head out with friends.  Get groceries.  Clean house.  Do laundry.  

Stretch with yoga.  Soak in the tub.  Lotion your whole body.  Moisturize your hair ... your face ... Brush and floss.  Make lists to remember to do every thing.  

Pray and read the Bible.  Enjoy nature.  Drink 8 glasses of water.  Get a pet and care for the pet.  Be creative.  Exercise your brain.  Listen to a TEDtalk or Podcast to think outside the box.

Plan your life, prepare for the future.  Manage your money.  Practice gratitude.  Pay it forward.  Help others.

See, there really is not enough time in a day to get it all in.  Pick your top ten.  Or ten one day and a different ten the next.  No need to rush ... enjoy the journey.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Maui life is going really well.  Everyone here has reached out with an invitation and I have followed up with reciprocation.

Friday night Lisa invited me to the NEW Maui Brewing Company that just opened a few weeks ago and is only about two miles away.  We shared a sampler tray of six beers (they have 17 on tap!).  I'm not much of a beer drinker but these were good!  Then we walked over to a new restaurant and shared three side dishes and a fancy girl drink!  She is an event planner and has lived here for at least ten years so it's nice to get the back story on things.

Saturday night I invited Leslie over for a chick flick and healthy girl snacks (of course her dog Mercedes was also included).  After so much gabbing, I'm surprised we actually watched a movie!  We started with Love Story (remember way back when??) but I decided it was a bit too sad so we switched to a Meryl Streep movie called Prime.  Funny, romantic comedy (with a sad ending).  I had veggies with ranch dip (made with Greek yogurt), cucumber slices to use as crackers for turkey salad, warm zucchini fritters fresh from the toaster oven, grapes and cheese.  Leslie is my dessert person ... she brought apple slices and salty caramel dip.  TO DIE FOR!  Her hubby works til 11pm so we might just do this pretty often.  With or without a movie!!

Sunday morning the South Maui Merry Widows (minus one) met for Breakfast.  Everyone looked better than when I left nine months ago, despite one member having some severe dizzy spells that have not yet been diagnosed ... she is not able to drive.  Perfect time to bring up my Village concept involvement.  
Last night I topped it off at 50% discount night at our local Japanese restaurant with Bob and Paula ... neither of whom eat sushi!  She and I shared three side dishes as well as a bowl of miso soup.  Just a perfect light dinner.

And you've noticed the common thread?  FOOD!!!

It's Monday morning here ... swim aerobics in an hour.  Walking the neighborhood twice a day.  My goals for this week.

Friday, January 9, 2015


Due to chilly weather, laziness, lack of discipline and worry about my swimsuit not fitting ... led me to text my buddy and talk her into SKIPPING our exercise (deep water aerobics).  After she agreed, I told her she could never let me do that again.  No canceling unless blood or tsunami is involved.  So we start Monday.

I had a lot of busy computer work today, including spending 30 minutes with customer service at my credit union.  They are truly wonderful, helpful people.  My Maui HOA … not at all.  My monthly fees are set up to be paid automatically by the CU to arrive on the first.  Several months ago the HOA’s property management company was purchased by a larger property management company.  All of a sudden, in October I was told my dues were delinquent by three months.  

Since the checks are directly produced through the CU, I do not have online access to get front and back or even check number.  By the time I did get a verbal check number and clearing date, the HOA clerk called and said “oh never mind, accounting department has straightened out your account.”   The next month, my account shows a $10 late fee and $39 in arrears.  WHAT?

Unfortunately, the clerk seems to not have all the color crayons in her box.  I decided that it would be better for me to have everything IN WRITING from now on because her memory doesn’t seem to be that good either.  In two weeks she doesn't remember saying my account was fine??

I sent her the listing of 2014 payments, twelve of them.  She sent me her ledger that showed manual billings for three months and I could not make hide nor hare of their other postings.  She kept calling me.  I would send a return email asking that we handle everything via email.  She just didn’t get it.  When I returned to Maui, I contacted my neighbor who is now President and asked what he thought about the new company … he immediately said “uh oh, you are having problems too?”

He made an unannounced visit to the property management office to spot check a few accounts, and then asked if I could send a copy of the November payment.  My dedicated customer service rep tried many ways to email it to me but it had to be encrypted (bank policy) which we never did get to work.  So I took the check number and the date it cleared and she will mail me the front/back … to my Portland home so my daughter can mail it to me in Maui.

I sent an email (always with a copy to Doug, the Prez) with the check number and the date cleared.  She promptly wrote back … can you send me the check number???

(taken on my little walk)

Luckily, the sun is shining so I took myself on a brisk walk.  There are a few things I should do or call about but I’m not sure my patience is at a level to do ANYTHING in a nice, calm way.

I’m gonna go watch whales for a bit!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Girls who wear glasses never get passes!

Four eyes.  Blind girl.  Binocular face.  Oh those insults from the past.

Oh, I've tried contacts many times.  There have been so many advances in technology, so I always feel like giving them another try.  But my eyes are so sensitive it feels like a big chunk of rock in my eye.

So now I'm going to get a little wild with my specs.  I decided (again) to let my hair go grey so my face will need something so that I don't just fade away.  Make up is one good solution although I don't have a lot of patience so I need a ten minute regime.

I currently have three pairs .. dark grey frames, red frames and wire rimmed.  Yesterday I was at Costco ... 

I'm sure they might look a little better with a smile ... rather than a mug shot ...

Your vote???

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


I guess I'm still on my happy kick.  This morning Kate called to say she had a vivid dream about her Dad which makes her really miss him.  Oddly enough, I also had a (good) dream about him and have been missing him more than usual all day. 

Part of it, I know, is because I'm in his Dream life.  Maui.  He worked an extra ten years to be able to make this happen.  And I am so grateful.  It's so much more than I deserve.  At our income level (and savings level, I guess) it is probably not what any financial people would approve.  I actually inhale love when I am here.  What's the price of that?  

Maybe I need some emotional vitamins.  There ARE vitamins that supposedly help with emotional stability ... Vitamin D is the big one.  As are Vitamin B's.  I take a wonderful multivitamin and an extra D so physically, I think I'm pretty well covered.

But when you no longer have someone on the other side of your bed or across the table from you to give you a hug or a compliment, you need to figure out a way to get an emotional boost on your own.  According to University of Carolina professor Barbara Fredrickson, PhD :
  • “Positive emotions are unique and adaptive because, in the moment, they broaden people’s thought–action repertoires,” she writes, “and, over time and through such broadening, they build people’s enduring physical, social, intellectual, and psychological resources”.

She feels if we make a habit of focusing on joy, even over something insignificant, joy will come more easily with practice.  Including joyful relationships.  Being around happy people, or positive people, or funny people help may keep us focused on things we truly enjoy … whether that is people, pets, Picasso, the Packers or the piano.

Who knew?

Monday, January 5, 2015


Maui would be SOOOO much more fun with Mr. Ralph.  It's a little sad remembering the fun we had here ... the future projects.  Sitting on the back lanai every morning with coffee and papaya.  I am having to make a real effort to be happy.

One of the first widow things I did 20 months ago was to buy a new perfume.  Coincidentally, it is called Happy (by Clinique).  I don't normally wear perfume but since I've been here, I put a little dab on every day.  A conscious effort to remember to be happy.  

Now I am trying to get in the habit of listening to music.  Upbeat happy music.  Even the song Happy!  Even old people lip syncing Happy.  Happy is as happy does.  

It's progress, though, isn't it?  Now I don't wallow in my sadness for more than 15 minutes at a time.  It's healthy to cry and release those hormones.  Read the article The Miracle of Tears (Jerry Bergman) for these top reasons that crying helps heal us physiologically, psychologically, and spiritually.

1)  Tears help us see better
2)  Tears kill bacteria
3)  Tears remove toxins
4)  Crying can elevate mood (I always feel better after!)
5)  Crying lowers stress
6)  Tears build community
7)  Tears release feelings

See!  I'm feeling happier already!

Sunday, January 4, 2015


For Hanukkah, my sister gave me a journal of sorts ... My Quotable Grandkid.  It's a cute idea but so far, I don't think mine have said much worth writing down.  Then she started reminding me of a few!

Recently, as I had Braeden on my lap one morning reading him a book, he gently pushed my face away from him.  Gramma, can you keep reading with your face over there?  Well, yes .. but why?  I took another sip of coffee ... then sputtered when he said "you have spider breath".

That must be the most horrible, awful thing he could think of ... spiders!!!  Now I keep gum in a little dish so if he notices spider breath, he can bring me a piece!!

When I sit back and think of things he says, I do a lot of smiling.  I offered to stop at Starbucks (mainly for me) and asked if he would like a hot chocolate.  In all seriousness, he said no thank you.  My Dad makes the real deal.  Ah ha ha ha!  (He got a vanilla milk with whipped cream).  Even Starbucks can't compete with the real deal!!

And I have to remember to write down when we left the plane as we were starting our Disneyland trip.  He was instructed to follow right behind me, then when we got into the hallway, we could hold hands.  I turned around and he was nowhere to be found!  The lady behind me said he was in with the Captain ... thanking him for flying us to Disneyland!

Kids do say the darndest things!

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Today my six week "vacation" begins.  At the local Java Cafe, sitting outside with my laptop and my coffee.  Mr. Ralph and I would do this at least twice a week.

I surely enjoy my back lanai yet sometimes I need to be where the people are.  Watching and listening.  People here are smiling (hey!  they are on vacation and it IS sunny and warm) and almost always say good morning.

The past couple of days has been emptying the fridge and freezer and cabinets of things I cannot use (man, a huge back of frozen prawns ... unopened ... and I am allergic to shellfish).  Spent yesterday getting groceries and incidentals.  Adjusting to the time.  Checking in with great neighbors.  Finding where my friends have stashed the cork screw.

And today it is real!  Gosh, this decision to live in one place is tough.  Family and friends vs. good health and making new friends?  Winter in Maui is like your best summer day ... for 3-4 months.

So I've decided to postpone deciding.  Maybe tomorrow!

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Despite feeling under the weather, I managed both flights and arrived on Maui about 5pm.  Believe it of not, I actually had to wear a light jacket!

A young couple who were borrowing my house picked me up at the airport in my very clean car (they cleaned it!) and then wanted to take me to dinner.  We drove about 20 minutes to a really cute place in Haiku ... and it was CLOSED.  And the next three restaurants we tried were closed!!  Erin called our next choice who said they were supposed to close at 6pm but if we got there by 6:15 they would serve.  We made it.  Da Kitchen in Kahulua rocks!

After I dropped them off at the airport to return to Portland, the drive to my Maui Mansion was tear filled.  This would be so much more fun WITH Mr. Ralph.  It just seems like everything (and anything?) would be so much better WITH him.  The fun would be twice as fun ... and the bad just half as bad.

My fun neighbors with their three great kids were having a little fireworks party outside in their driveway.  I went over for a few minutes, got lots of hugs then took my bedraggled body inside to have some Prosecco.  Believe it or not I made it til midnight ... Maui time.

Let's see how this vacation continues ...