People Need Community

I never quite understood, until recently, what many of our friends and family members meant when they told us, “We may not have seen you a lot, but we always knew you were there.”

 

Over the years, the Princess and I developed a loving group of dedicated friends who shared many an adventure with us. We played bocce ball, held Christmas parties, played board games together, organized camping and hiking expeditions, took long beach walks and went on many a snow shoeing outing over the winters.

 

And in between time, we became family to a number of individuals and created quite a few traditions that people came to look forward to and are currently missing.

 

We, too, are missing those special connections and traditions from of our past. Some of our CA friends have told me that they are cruising by our former home and reminiscing of times gone by, and it saddens me to know that somehow our moving has left a hole in their heart; and that somehow they’re feeling less connected and less whole.

 

The fast pace of an ever growing Silicon Valley and the affluence and entitlement that was coming with it forced us to look at our life in what we once thought was Paradise and head out to new digs and fresh adventures and start some alternative traditions with a different group of people.

 

We have a special bond with our CA friends that was nourished with shared lasagna, garlic bread, numerous glasses of wine and a lot of laughter over the years.

 

People need community and a sense of belonging.

 

And eating good food and drinking fine wine while you’re doing this, was a definite bonus.

I get that.

 

In light of all the heartache going on in the world today, I think we need it now more than ever before.

 

In our own silly, innocent way, every time the Princess and I got people together, we were letting these individuals know that they were important. They mattered. We loved them and we cared.

 

So, let me state this very clearly: “ Relationships (both near and far, new and old) are damn important to the Princess and me. We value the laughter, the love and the steadfast support as we go forward in this new chapter of our life. And encourage each of you to write, call, and make plans to visit us and share in some lasagna, French bread and fine wine.”

 

And being the “Queen of Pot Lucks” and skinflint that I am, you’d best be bringing your own wine and bread. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be making the lasagna!

 

In the meantime, enjoy the remaining days of summer and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

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It’s All Good

20170620_142748I’m home.

Finally, after months of searching and agonizing and driving for miles, I am finally home.

The search for our perfect house was arduous. The negotiating was tedious. The packing and unpacking was endless and the unpacking is still going on.  I’m thinking we’ll be completely unpacked in another 5 years. But “it’s all good”, as our steadfast, loving Washington realtor reminded us on a regular basis.

It’s all good.

The cats are currently trying to figure out what kind of long-legged felines the deer roaming our backyard resemble. The Princess is trying to understand the complexities and logic of roundabouts while cruising around town.

And I’m still looking for my long underwear that’s somewhere buried in one of these mystery boxes.

It’s all good, though.

We’re currently experiencing balmy weather in this part of the country, but woo-hoo when it’s cold out here, it’s bone chilling cold.

Yes-siree, Bob, I’m sure glad the Princess and I like the cooler temps, because we’d sure as heck be SOL, if we didn’t.

The sun comes up early in the morning in the summer months and doesn’t set until well into the evening hours, and we just got internet services for the first time in two weeks. The world has gone on without Lucie and the Princess’s daily participation and knowledge of it.

And as far as I’m concerned, it’s all good. Mind you, the Princess doesn’t currently share that opinion, but the Princess has been through our local roundabout one too many times, lately.

Our journey here was challenging, but rewarding.

When we crossed the southern edge of the Washington border, rain, cold and clouds greeted us as we quietly drove-on into what seemed like an endless gray mass of cold and yuck. Each of us quiet with our thoughts and emotions, as the two cats slept-on snuggled safely in their special traveling carrier that we meticulously stuffed with soft, woolen blankets and items that smelled vaguely familiar and reminded them of home.

As the rain pounded our windshield, the car’s wipers appeared to quietly repeat my silent prayer with each passing stroke: “Please, Lord, keep us safe and let this be the right decision for my family and me.”

“Please Lord,” I solemnly mouthed while looking out at the cold, rainy scene of what was soon to be my home state.

When we finally pulled into the driveway of our house that Friday evening, tired and emotionally wrought, we gathered up our belongings and set about blowing up what would be our bed for the first two nights.

Todd, our Allied van driver, wouldn’t arrive until two days later. I remembered watching him carefully pilot his 18-wheeled behemoth, containing our furniture and comfy beds, crawling slowly down our roadway through a ghost-grey fog and hair-curling mist, and wondering, “Did the Princess and I really do this? Did we just move miles away from family and loved ones to a state where virtually no one knows us and leave behind most everything and everyone that’s dear to us?”

And then my older brother, Anthony and his wife, Lucy, showed up driving their RV from a visit with my niece in Seattle to come help us with our move in.

This gray-haired lug who I fought with as a child over everything from mowing the lawn to shoveling the driveway was suddenly Lancelot with his adoring Guinevere standing next to him, smiling and graciously offering us a chair that she had taken out of the RV.

“Here, Lucie,” she said while setting up one of their folding chairs in the middle of our empty living room floor. “Sit down for a minute. You look like you could use a little break.”

And then my brother came over to me before I collapsed into one of the chairs, embraced me in a bear hug and whispered into my ear, “You did good, Lucie. You both did good, and I’m proud of you.”

Yes we did. And we continue to do good with the support of loving, kind family members, friends and strangers who want nothing for us but good things.

We still don’t have television, haven’t read a newspaper in days, and are still waiting for the Maytag people to pick-up the broken microwave and repair the new washer and dryer, but life is good at our end, People, and I pray that life is good with you, too.

Be well and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

 

 

Just a Quick Post

Just a quick post to let my dedicated friends and followers know that me and my shoes haven’t run off. The selling of our home in Northern CA and buying in WA has had me in a slight tizzy.

Please forgive me if I seem absent from your lives and appear not to care. I assure you: I care very much and hold you each close to my heart.

I send congratulations to those of you experiencing recent joys, prayers to those of you feeling sadness and loss, and courage and strength to those of you who need it on a day to day basis “just to get by”….

Hopefully, within the next month or two my distractions will be fewer and my attention to my dedicated followers and friends more in line with what I feel in my heart.

Until then, I hold all of you close in thought and prayer and wish for each of you only the very best.

Catch ya next adventure, when my shoes find their way outta the muck!

Tell Me My Worth

I don’t know what’s more difficult: moving or selling your home.

Frankly, I think both of them are a pain in the butt! And lately, I’m thinking that maybe adding some medicinal marijuana to my chocolate chip cookies may be good for what ails me.

For the past 6 months,
the Princess and I have been prepping for the big move to the state of WA, and as much as I’m excited and looking forward to this new chapter in my life, I’m also sad about saying goodbye to loved ones here in CA and a tad frightened of the unknown of what lies ahead.

Recently, our CA home was professionally staged, by a young woman who spent all of 45 minutes schlepping our furniture around and strategically placing a couple of lamps and pictures in our rooms. This Herculean endeavor cost our realtor $1600, and our house looks like a million bucks.

But $1600 for moving furniture around? Seriously?

Damn!

I think I spent too much time in college getting all those degrees for a field of study that in my earlier years, paid $1600 for the whole month.

What was I thinking?

When I was a kid, the school’s career counselor asked me, “So, what do you want to study after you graduate from high school, Lucie? Nursing? Secretarial science? Education?”

“I think you’d make a good teacher,” he continued, and off to an all-woman’s college I headed with my future career firmly etched in stone.

Never, and I mean NEVER, did I ever hear him or any one of my counselors broach the topic of me pursuing a career as an astrophysicist, or an electrician, or a veterinarian, or any one of a bazillion other fields of study that I, as a woman, could have pursued. Mind you, my science grades weren’t anything to write home about, and I couldn’t tell you which end of the chord to plug in on the vacuum cleaner; so becoming an electrician might have been stretching it a bit, but gee whiz, he could have directed me toward becoming a house stager or maybe even a professional belly dancer.

Then, again, there wasn’t too much demand for house stagers in upstate New York in those days, and my belly wasn’t very Buddha-like in my youth to pursue the art of belly dancing. So, maybe teaching wasn’t such a bad field to encourage me to pursue. I always liked kids, and I played school for hours-on-end on our rickety, uneven back porch that needed to be condemned long before we ever moved into the place.

And, here I sit today in a million dollar, staged home thinking about this 30-something-year-old stager who did her job in a quick 45 minutes and got paid this obscene amount of money for moving furniture around, and I’m asking myself: “What kind of society and time period am I living in when the value of a house stager, and basketball player, and movie star are all paid so much more than those of us entrusted with shaping our country’s future?”

I am truly happy that this young woman is earning her creative worth,
and I hope that other young women start demanding their fair share of the pie. I just hope that in my lifetime that what I did for a living becomes as important to others as the house stager and the basketball player and the movie star.

Until then, I need to keep packing and hiding my underwear and cat bowls in the closet, and wait for the house appraiser to do his job this week and tell me my worth.

Have a great week, People,
and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

Routine is Important: Just ask my Mother

As we age, we’re told to mix up our routine. Keep our brain challenged and break out of our day-to-day pattern. It’s healthy for us, or so we’re told.

And to some degree, I think there’s some merit to the medical studies that espouse such recommendations, but I think there’s also something to be said for sticking to a routine.

Routine is important. Just ask my mother. Disturb her before she has her first cup of coffee and visits the loo in the morning and she’s not a happy camper. God forbid, if you should bother her before her favorite television show, “The Price is Right”, is over. Not a pleasant experience to have with her.

Every morning, my cat and I dance. She whines. I feed her. She jumps up on my desk, starts chewing on my paper work and walking across my computer key board. Then she wants to go outside. Of course, she can’t simply walk out when I open my patio door. She has to walk around the perimeter of the living room first, then around the overstuffed lazy boy rocker and finally she’s ready to exit. I have to patiently wait while she does this little two-step of hers, and then I can close the door and go back to whatever I was doing.

There are days that I’d like to choke the little twit as she slowly prances by me and looks up as if to say, “Humans are so clueless.”

Maybe Boo’s trying to teach me patience, or maybe this little tango is something that keeps her safe and she depends on it. I don’t know. I’m no cat whisperer, and I certainly haven’t a clue as to what makes a cat tick.

I do know, though, there are days in my life when everything is crazy and life is one crisis after another. Having a routine and sticking to it keeps me secure: Taking daily walks. Going to exercise class on Wednesdays. Seeing my yoga buddies on Fridays. Reading a good book and falling asleep on a rainy afternoon with our other cat, Molly, spread-eagle on my belly. All routines I relish and enjoy.

And when the sump pump breaks, the IRS notifies me that I owe them $5,500, the inspector says my house has termites and my doctor tells me that I have pneumonia; I remember to get up, wash my face, put on a little lipstick and face the day, ‘cuz that’s what Mom taught me to do.

I’m not so much into the lipstick, like my Mom, but I definitely understand and appreciate the need for a consistent schedule to keep me going. There are days when I need the safety and comfort of knowing that I have certain things planned. So, when life comes along and messes with those plans, I still have the comfort of knowing that my daily regimen is still intact and it can be restarted with the dawning of a new day.

I keenly remembered how my special needs kids depended on a routine. They vociferously complained about it on a regular basis, but change it on them once in a blue moon, and they let you know they weren’t pleased. For many of them, their day to day home life was chaotic and their only source of reliability and sanity was my classroom and the safety of its expectations and schedule.

As I slowly age, I realize that I need to keep my mind challenged and continue to learn new skills and stretch my imagination, but I also realize that there are days that I need to feel stable and safe and having some structure and routine in my life is ok and actually beneficial to me in a number of ways, both physically and emotionally. So, I give myself permission to throw caution to the wind, and on those days I need to have a miniature snicker’s bar after I eat lunch, I go for it and sometimes even have two!

In the meantime, I need to feed Boo Boo, again, and wait at the patio door while she sashays around the border of our living room furniture. Have a great week, People, and I’ll catch ya the next time, looking at life from my shoes!

How Sad for Us, too

In February of this year, those of us in rain-drenched Northern CA. got a reprieve from the rain gods, and the Princess and I decided to take a drive over to the coast. It was one of those beautiful, CA sunny days with temperatures in the 60’s and cloudless, brilliant blue skies ripe for beach walking, biking and anything else you could imagine doing with a gorgeous, sun-filled day.

We headed to Half Moon Bay to stroll on one of our favorite walks that looks out at the ocean from a path above the cliffs, and were doing just that, when we spotted a stranded baby sea lion cornered against the side of one of the bluffs below us.

Crossing paths with the ranger that was trying to help it, we asked if he knew how the little bugger got there, and he told us that a couple of unleashed dogs had sent him scurrying for his young life. By the time the ranger had tried to intervene, the pup had gotten himself stuck between the proverbial “rock and a hard place” and couldn’t get himself back out to sea. Realizing the pup needed to be rescued, but unable to help him without assistance, the ranger had put in a call to the people from the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. We happened to be there when they arrived, so we watched as they carefully netted and prepped it for the ride to their facility in Northern Marin.

The little guy was clearly distraught and made quite a fuss before he was caught.

The Princess, concerned with its well-being, and wanting to know exactly what they’d be doing, asked one of the volunteers what the protocol was for this pup, and if they thought it would eventually calm down and be ok.

He acknowledged her concern, but really couldn’t predict any outcome. All he could say was that they’d do their best to help it. We’ve been to the Center a number of times and are aware of their meticulous care and involvement with the animals, but were concerned with its young age, and if it would thrive without its mother and ocean community. Sea lions are highly social creatures and currently an endangered species, with humans as their primary predators; so we were extremely concerned about the fate of this little one.

As we stood atop the ridge watching the volunteers and ranger as they cautiously corralled the animal into their nets and eventually the holding cage, we heard the pitiful muffled barks and grunts from the anxious pup, and I suddenly got a lump in my throat and started to tear-up.

Standing there in the bright sunlight, attentive to the waves breaking against the side of the cliffs and listening to the muffled cries from this sweet, frightened little baby, I couldn’t help but get a little upset with the dog owners who created this heart-breaking scene.

I totally understand a dog’s need to frolic and run and can appreciate dog owners who like to have their dogs enjoy the beach unleashed, but the beach was well-signed, and the owners informed: Dogs are to be leashed while walking the beach.

They chose not to obey and let them run free. And I’m sure they weren’t bad people, and their dogs were just being dogs. But now this infant pup is without a mother and was carted off to a home totally unnatural and unfamiliar to him. We don’t know if he’ll make it and have no idea if he’ll thrive, and I can’t help but think: how sad for this little guy and how sad for us, too.

As we go forward with our week, let’s try to be respectful of one another and mindful of the world around us, and I’ll catch ya the next time; looking at life from my shoes.

Dream On

As someone who definitely knows my way around gabbing with people, individuals are often pleasantly surprised to discover the quiet side to my gregarious self. So, my recent silence (both in writing and in speech) has been disconcerting to some folks.

Or so I’ve been told.

Recently, I have been faced with a plethora of life challenges and my body simply stopped working the way I wanted it to work, and I ended up with pneumonia.

The sad thing for me, though, is that my connection with God and my spiritual side has been as stuffy and muddled as my nose and lungs have gotten.

My heart is heavy with indecisions and confusion, and I’m having a hard time feeling hopeful these days. I feel anxious and stressed and often times scared, and I’m thinking that maybe now isn’t the time to be silent.

I am a gay, American woman of immigrant peoples and have serious concerns that my country is on a path of destruction and discrimination. I have significant worries that this administration’s policies are not policies that will “make us great’, but in fact, do quite the opposite.

On the morning of the “Woman’s March” that was held in Washington and nationwide, the Princess and I went to see the motion picture, “Hidden Figures”. The movie is based on the brilliant, black NASA physicist and mathematician, named Katherine Jackson, who was instrumental in the early years of the US space program. We both wanted to participate in our loc0al march, but prudently decided that my claustrophobic issues and our rainy weather would be reason enough to stay away. So, instead we went to an early showing of this film and were pleasantly treated to a quality story and an excellent reminder of past times.

As I sat in the theater, immobile with emotion, I couldn’t help but see the juxtaposition of the day. We were watching first-hand the outward discrimination of Ms. Jackson and her co-workers as they heroically pushed on, day after day, insult after injury. At one point in the movie, Ms. Jackson’s boss questions why she’s taking such “long breaks” during the day. He discovers, to his great embarrassment, that it was because there were no “colored restrooms” nearby. NASA’s only bathroom “of color” was over a half a mile on the other side of their campus, so she had to run back and forth every day; rain or shine.

It’s when her boss, played by Kevin Costner, takes mallet in hand and smashes the sign hanging over the woman’s restroom that says, “For Coloreds Only”, and declares to his employees, “As long as we pee all the same color at NASA, we all use the same bathrooms,” that the tears started to uncontrollably roll down my cheeks and my body felt sick with shame.

There I sat in a luxurious, remote-controlled, padded lounge chair – the epitome of American ingenuity and affluence, watching a movie depicting discrimination of a minority from the 1960’s; acutely aware of the various marches taking place outside of our local theater, and it sadly dawned on me, “Are we repeating history once again? Has America elected a man so intent on 0making this country “great” that he’s going to do it at the cost of those that actually DID make it great?”

We’re a country based on differences; a country based on acceptance. We’re all human and all valuable and all “pee the same color”. So, let’s not take that for granted, and let’s remember who we are – a country of dreamers and inventors and a country of freedoms and of hopes.

I care not that you voted for “him” or voted for “her”. I care that you stand up for what is right and what is wrong. It is important that we go forward, with the understanding that no man is better than the other; and no woman less than, either.

We must not go back to a time when “colored bathrooms” is a concept we agree to – whether in practice or in silence.

We’re all human and all valuable.

And all “pee the same color.”

I pray we all remember that and pray we all dream on.

Until the next time, be kind to each other, and I’ll catch you the next time, looking at life from my shoes.