The day the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded

Here’s a little known fact.  The day the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, I turned 21.  I was attending Bible College in Missouri and had limited access to television and radio, so I had little awareness of the horror of the tragedy and loss of life.  Instead, some random college boy took me to dinner at Red Lobster.

Only in the subsequent years have I become aware of the disaster that happened the same day I turned 21, mainly because on my birthday every year, they play footage of that ill-fated flight.

So, January 28 (today if you’re me, typing this but yesterday if you’re the one reading this) was my birthday.  This year, it also happened to be the Chinese New Year, which I found out when I had a pedicure in a virtually empty nail salon where all the Asian ladies were wearing dressier than usual clothing and speaking excitedly in their native language.  They slid my Birkenstocks back on my feet, rushed me out the door then taped a “CLOSED” sign on the door.

Earlier in the day, I spent an hour going to a pharmacy and picking up a prescription for one of my kids.  As soon as I got home, my husband and I went to lunch at a restaurant that sits on the shore of the Pacific.  From my seat I could watch surfers bobbing on the waves and a couple of wind surfers in the distance.  After a rainy month, not a cloud was in the sky.  And best of all, due to a combination of a half-used gift card, a rewards card and a $10 bonus card, our entire bill for the fancy lunch was $2.70.  Getting a deal is one of the chief delights in my life, so I felt pleased by this turn of events.  (We tipped generously and had to pay for valet parking, just in case you wondered.  We are not barbarians.)

After lunch, I relaxed for a minute, than went to Costco by way of the nail salon.  Costco was busy as it always was, but I found a parking spot by the door because it’s my birthday!  I don’t want to walk a half a mile across the parking lot!  I packed the back of my Fiat 500 with groceries and picked up my son at work.  Upon our return home, I promptly took a nap for an hour.

When I woke, it was time to pick up my daughter.  On the way home, my brother called and we talked about a bunch of people we knew of from way back when.  By the time I got home, I had less than an hour before work at 9 PM.

And now I’m ready for sleep.

By the way, I’d like to note that twice in the last month my husband has said to me, “Maybe you facing ageism,” and I’ve said doubtfully, “Really?” because even though I might seem like a dowdy housewife to you, I am not old!  True, I do like a good nap and I couldn’t care less about wearing uncomfortable shoes even if they are cute and I don’t get the thing about eyebrows, but I like to think I’m au courant.

Though I imagine the fact that the phrase au courant popped into my aging brain means I’m an old fogey after all.

Whatever.

(One of my favorite things to do is to figure out how old I’ll be when my kids are a particular age.  So, when my daughter is my age, I’ll be 93.  Now, there’s a fun fact.)

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The day the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded

Becoming Adam Kenworthy

The sight of my face in the  mirror or my hands on the keyboard remind me that I am a fifty-one year old woman.  I forget sometimes, you know?

I feel like myself on the inside and the Myself that I know is the girl who composed songs at the keyboard and marveled at a round October moon that one night at college.  I knew with clarity that I would always remember that specific moment. My truest self is twenty-four on the inside, flexible and spry, curious and smart and young.

But on the outside.  Well, the outside of me is graying and a little achy.  I have eyelids that make me rethink my judgmental stance on the vanity of plastic surgery.

On one (age-spotted) hand, I’m cool with getting older.  Naps?  Bring them on.  Reading all afternoon?  Yes, please.  Stepping aside while the young ‘uns take over the world with their newfangled technology and excessive facial piercings?  Whatever.  Bring me some tea.

However, on the other (veiny) hand, just like I once wanted to be Jo (in Little Women), sometimes I wish I could be Adam Kenworthy.

I first saw Adam on The Real Housewives of New York.  (Don’t judge me.)  He was Luann’s chef but then Carole Radziwill (author of What Remains, a beautiful memoir) met him and started to date him (even though he’s quite a bit younger than she) and now I follow him on Instagram.  His Insta-stories especially make me wish I were him.

(It’s quite ludicrous, actually.)

He’s riding a bicycle with a wire basket through New York streets, swerving around taxis, buying organic vegetables from vendors.  He’s running along the Hudson River, giving a personal report on the weather.  He’s creating artistically arranged meals composed entirely of vegetables, highlighting micro-greens that my family wouldn’t eat if you paid them cash.

Basically, Adam Kenworthy is winning at life.  He’s free.  He’s confident.  He’s living in New York City and riding a bicycle with a basket through its taxi-filled streets.  (This is my imaginary version of Adam Kenworthy, of course.  I don’t know him.)

Now, perhaps his interior life is dull.  Maybe he doesn’t read or think or make any sacrifices that benefit other people.  How would I know?

I know I can’t become Adam Kenworthy.

Maybe I can become a surfer or a long-distance bicyclist or a person who mails out her Christmas cards before Valentine’s Day.

A girl can dream.

Becoming Adam Kenworthy

In sickness and in more sickness

My 14-year old daughter has a really terrible cold.  She’s been sick for at least a week now but the past three or four days have been bad, so bad that she wanders downstairs to sit in the recliner in my office, wrapped in a blanket so she can watch television with me (while I work) and complain about how much her back and jaw and pinkie-finger hurt.  She tries to breathe while complaining that her feet are so cold, her face is so hot and she can’t sleep, will never sleep again and actually wants to go to school tomorrow but probably can’t since she can’t breathe.

She left a literal trail of used tissues from here to there plus clumpy piles of used tissues surrounding the recliner.  I haven’t picked them up because I am scared that I might transfer these nasty germs from the tissues to my innards where they will multiply and ruin the rest of January for me.

So instead, my office is littered with used tissues.  Awesome.  Tomorrow I will pick them up.

Since she was a baby, she has refused to take medication, so tonight she refused all my offers and just wallowed in her misery.  Poor thing.

She even WANTS to go to school tomorrow because she hasn’t gone anywhere or done anything or even left the house in three days.  I hope she’ll feel better but I am fully prepared to call the school office and report her absence.

*

In other news, tonight Malibu the Cat stole my fork.

 

 

In sickness and in more sickness

Is it too late to bake Christmas cookies?

Listen.  My Christmas newsletter and cards are sitting on my desk, awaiting envelopes and postage.  My Christmas tree is fully decorated.  I have refrigerated sugar cookie dough in my refrigerator.  All the Christmas decorations (except for the tree ornaments) crowd my kitchen table.

In short, I am lagging behind.

But tonight I cooked dinner and paid the bills and cleaned the kitchen and folded some clean bath towels.  I made my sick 14-year old a cup of tea and she sat in my office with me while I worked and watched a whole television show with me.  (That kind of made me wish she’d be sick more often because I miss having her want to hang out with me.)

So, there’s hope.  Tomorrow my hair stylist is coming over to spruce up my hair before I start work at 2 PM.  I have encouraged my sick daughter to go to school even though she’s sick because she’s missed so much school when she was only mildly sick . . . and the semester is ending and I know if she’s not there it will be so much harder to finish strong.  She’s on Day Six or Seven of a really bad cold and she’s congested and starting to cough. The realist in me assumes she will stay home tomorrow but the irrational optimist thinks maybe she’ll just wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and go to school.  Ha.

Won’t it be nice to be back on a schedule instead of everyone staying up half the night and asking me at the most random times what they can eat as if they have no eyeballs and can’t see into the refrigerator and pantry?

We’ve had rain here, off and on.  We’d been through at least two rainstorms before I remembered to turn off the automatic sprinkler system.  I just can’t remember everything.

(My daughter just came downstairs to use the bathroom and since it’s 1:40 AM, it’s safe to say that she will not be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning.  She said she can’t sleep and I said, “Well, don’t try to sleep.  Just turn off all the lights and listen to some quiet music.”  This is mom-trickery.  I hope it works since she refuses NyQuil or any other medications.)

*

I have a new work schedule:
Sundays:  5 PM to 12 AM Monday through Friday:  2 PM to 5 PM and then 9 PM to midnight
Saturday:  9 PM to midnight

It’ll be an adjustment to get used to these hours.  When you work odd hours, sometimes it’s easy to fritter away extra time.

I have no time for frittering . . . not while there are still Christmas cards to send!  Pray for me.  If you need me, I’ll be eating Christmas cookies and undecorating the tree.  (I hope.)

Is it too late to bake Christmas cookies?

Perspective 

I am going to start blogging more. 

Meanwhile, here’s a photo I took of Oceanside Pier tonight. I wore a light sweater and Birkenstocks and felt amused at the tourists who were easily identifiable by their bikinis and beach chairs. 

Only a tourist would think 68 degrees is warm enough to frolic in frigid winter surf. Meanwhile, locals seize the opportunity to wear knee high leather boots and jackets. 

Of course, in my former hometown, when it hit 68 we ran to the beach as fast as we could to soak up the sun because summer had finally arrived. 

It’s all about perspective. 

Perspective 

Breaking the silence


It’s awkward to try to catch up on all the news when it’s been so long since we’ve talked. (We = Me & Me & You, I guess.) I’m talking to myself and I suppose I’m talking to you, but only if I know you. And some of you I don’t know. You’ve stumbled here and you’re probably clicking away quickly to find a pretty lifestyle blogger who posts photos of her magical holiday decorations and adorable blond children. (So, to you, I say hello and goodbye.)

So since I can’t really remember everything I meant to tell you/me, let’s just randomize and see what happens.

Not only have I purchased most of the Christmas gifts, I have also wrapped them in identical wrapping paper from Costco.  Did you know Costco wrapping paper is superior to all other wrapping paper?  It’s thick and each roll holds so much more wrapping paper than the stuff you buy in a four pack at Target or Walmart or wherever.  I hate running out of wrapping paper.

I also did all the Christmas decorating myself.  My sidekick, my 14-year old daughter, has abandoned me for her friends, of which there are many.  I left the tree without its ornaments for a whole week, but finally hung them myself.  I haven’t actually put ornaments on a tree in years and years.  I felt a little sad about that but my friends tell me that the kids will come back around one day when they have their own kids and I say that’s far too far into the future to comfort me much at all.  So, bah-humbug.

In other news, I spent the last two months reading all nine books in the “Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I realized as I read them that I had only read the second book in the series when I was a girl (my dad gave it to me in 1977 as a gift) and I had to remedy that oversight in preparation to read The Wilder Life by McClure.  And now, finally, that’s what I’m reading. As I hear the Christmas song, “Jingle Bells,” I think of Almanzo Wilder courting Laura Ingalls by taking her sleigh-riding up and down the streets of that prairie town in South Dakota.  So, yes, perhaps I’ve been a little overly immersed in the pioneer days. I am longing for the simpler days of yore, which is hilarious, really, considering how much I love the comforts of modern life.

Oh!  The craziest thing happened a week or so ago.  Out of the blue, an Internet friend sent me a text message of the city sign near me and said, “Guess where I am?!”  She lives in Oregon and I live in California, so I was surprised to say the least.  She and her husband were in town to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and she invited me to meet her at Starbucks a few days later.

And so I did.  Meeting someone in person that you’ve known online (and through text messages) for years is always an iffy proposition.  What if you each think the other is a weirdo?  What if conversation is awkward?  I’m happy to report that we hit it off and talked like old friends.  Finally, I had to hurry off to an obligation, but it was super fun to meet her and talk in person.

In other other news,  the kids are all wrapping up their schooling before Christmas break.  One more day and then we’re home free.  My 18-year old finished his first semester at community college while his brother completed his who-knows-which-semester at the same community college.  My daughter is halfway through eighth grade.  She is looking forward to high school, though her ideas about where she should attend change every other week.  Keeping up with a modern-day middle-schooler is fairly exhausting.

Also, just so you know, I bought a car.  It’s used, but I bought it from a dealership with less than 15,000 miles on it.  It’s a black Fiat 500, a two-door car with two tiny back seats which fold down to create almost enough cargo space to stash a Costco haul.  I’m very happy to have a tiny car that is so easy to park and that has good gas mileage.  My husband scoffs at my tiny car and has all-but-refused to ever drive it which is completely fine with me.  After sharing a mini-van (and whatever other random second car we’ve had) for ten years, I’m delighted to have my very own car.

The funniest thing was that I bought it on Election Night.  I hadn’t exactly meant to watch Election Night results with the guys at the car dealership (I thought I was just picking up paperwork and that I’d have to take it to my credit union the next say), but as it turned out, they did everything on the spot (I was pre-approved) and so I sat around while waiting for the salesguy to do the mysterious car-buying stuff in another area and watched the computer screens with the other salesmen who had no customers. It was just me and the guys and one woman salesperson who refused to believe that Trump really was winning.

When Trump won Ohio, I declared with great authority that he would win the whole election and the guys said, “You think?” and I said, “Absolutely.  Just wait.”  I knew this because my husband watches news channels constantly and so I absorb this political knowledge by osmosis while I’m in the same room, reading.

So I will always remember Election Night 2016.

Well, it won’t be so long until the next time I post here.  I’ve just about convinced myself that blogging more regularly (dare I say, every day?) would be a gift to myself that I would really treasure in the years to come.  So, don’t hold your breath or anything, but meet me back here sooner rather than later.

Breaking the silence

Margaret and Eleanor

I am trying to post regularly this month.  I made a good start of it but then suddenly, I totally forgot that I was blogging at all because I got completely sucked into the mystery of where my paternal grandfather was stationed during World War II.

I have had an account at Ancestry.com for years.  I must have sprung for a paid account at some point, then canceled it, of course, because I’m cheap, but I paid $19.95 the other night and fell deeply into the black hole of my ancestors and the mystery of the past.

I still have not figured out where my grandfather was stationed but I have traced my family back to colonial days and even beyond that to England and France.  I also realized to my utter shock that “Rebecca” the was not native American at all (“Indian,” according to family lore), but part of the line that originated in France.

Of course, while the names and dates are interesting, the really interesting facts of these long-ago people are missing almost entirely. Then I began to wonder if my descendants will some day find this blog and know a little bit more about me than I know about Margaret or Eleanor who were born in England in the early 1600s. They were my 10th great-grandmothers on my father’s side.  Too bad they didn’t have blogs.

 

Margaret and Eleanor