Crises in ice cream

“She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.”

~ Elizabeth Edwards

Who said retirement was fabulous? Who said it would be easy? I want names and numbers (so I can wring their slimy little necks and give them a piece of my mind….).

Yeah, you read that correctly. I’ve had a bit of a struggle. For nearly 35 years, I’ve been part of a group, a dental group, and now, suddenly, I am not. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve said goodbye to saliva, bid my farewells to calculus (which often landed in my hair). I’ve also said adios to my achy back (and backstabbing as well). Yes, there are certain aspects of working in dentistry that I gladly left behind. But, then comes the “What’s next?” question and the identity crisis. Can I really find MEANING in dusting? Is there reward in a sparkly toilet bowl?

I’ve been reflecting lately, thinking about life, what mine means, how I now fit. While I don’t know yet where I’ll land, or whether I need to land anywhere, I’m reminded of a strategy I often used in the past when in the midst of turmoil.

When in doubt, do nothing.

Sometimes making decisions hastily leads to more turmoil. I’ve learned that taking my time, letting the answers come on their own–allowing due process to thoughts and feelings, quiet time, and all factors involved–brings peace.

Breathe. Be in the moment. Smell the roses. Stop fretting. Do nothing.

Yeah, I like that. Those. This thinking. Why must I be in a hurry to decide where or what is next? Why can’t I just be? Can’t I be good to me by allowing myself some latitude here? I have earned quiet time, I deserve to ponder in the quiet of my home, surrounded by things I love.

Certain things like simple beauty propel me forward:

new flowers_may 2017 (13)
Last year’s Foxglove…


new flowers_may 2017 (8)
…which is taller than all of us.

Simple gardening, enjoying the flowers that I planted last year that have resurfaced, along with the new.

wild flowers and veggies_may 2017
Top to bottom: wild flowers, thyme, basil, spinach, lettuce, wildflowers

And, who can resist these:

OK, stop laughing! Yes, that’s my voice and my daughter’s over our astonishment that there are not four, not five, but SIX kittens in this bunch. (I said stop!)

We can only get so close to the “nest” while mamma is away. We are worried she’ll come back while we’re trying to take a look. (Mamma Cat is not ours; she’s feral but has adopted us. We do not feed her, or any cats, outside. Still, she likes our home and has decided to stay. By the time we realized she was pregnant, it was too late to catch her–the plan once she’s finished nursing–so she can be fixed and released.)  In the meantime, I’m Mamma Cat’s self-appointed Mother-in-Charge of her and her babies.

I caught her in the act yesterday while she was moving her clan to a safer place. She hissed and growled at me. I’m dealing with it. I’ll be fine. Really. Sniff, sniff…

I also realized after I officially retired (on Feb. 23, 2016) that I had not been very good to me. Yep, that is correct. I had fallen away from good self care: enough sleep, enough water every day, the best food, enough exercise…..and so forth. As we moms often do, we rarely put ourselves first–and looking back, I’d put myself last again, for my family–but I hadn’t fully realized until I retired that I hadn’t helped myself one iota by the lifestyle I had adopted over the years.

I decided to start with some basics: food and simple nutrition. I cannot run this engine properly without the best fuel. I am Somersizing for those who are unfamiliar with this way of eating. After cutting out sugar and all processed food, it’s lots of fresh foods eaten in proper combinations to promote the best digestion. I’ve never eaten so well. I began April 1, and I’m down 6 1/2 pounds and several inches (I did not think to measure when I started). I feel so much better.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Other basics: I’m trying to push the water, make myself MOVE every day, and get enough sleep. It’s amazing how the body responds positively when it’s treated right.

Not to forget emotional health, I came across this book recently.

quaker book of wisdom (2)I have never been overly religious and prefer to keep my beliefs to myself, but I will say that I agree with many aspects of this type of thinking. I found the following in the back:

1. Seize the present
2. Love yourself, whatever faults you have, and love the world, however bad it is.
3. Stop talking and listen to what you really know.
4. Play soccer! (Or whatever team sport you love)
5. Accept the fact that our lives are only partly in our own hands.
6. Believe in the perfectibility of yourself and society.
7. Make your love visible in the world through your work.
8. Seek justice in the world, but not in your own life.
9. Look for the light of God in every person.
10. Let your life speak.

If nothing, it gives me food for thought, let’s me pause when I need time to reflect. I may not have a “job” right now, not one in the traditional sense, but I am part of something (letting go of dental hygiene is harder than I thought–until I recall plaque). I’ve peacefully rediscovered my sense of belonging. I am part of this family, this household, this blogging world, my genealogy friends, and with #7 in mind, those flowers and kittens out there.

Retirement is not an event. It’s a process. No one told me that; rather, it had been painted as glee and glory. It can certainly be glee and glory, but for some, it brings to a close something that was pretty darned good for many years. To me that was a devastating loss.

My daughter whispered today to my husband to buy ice cream. Hmmm. If the only crisis I now face is which delectable dessert to buy or make, I say, Bring it!

elizabeth edwards quote_she stood in the storm and when the wind

Rockin’ Bobbin

Since I hung up my scalers last year, I’ve been trying to fill the empty spaces. I began with yodeling*. At first I was simply glad to not be at work any longer–in that capacity, anyway–and I spent the first few months trying to heal a very worn, very stretched, and very tired back (dentistry is quite hard on the body). But as the months wore on and visits from the police about odd noises* from the house increased, I knew I had to get busy. The creative genius in me was becoming restless. Did I say genius? I meant to say goddess.

So, I set her free. Actually, I let her fly. I set up my room, dusted off my machine, and let ‘er rip. Before I knew it, my bobbin was rockin’.

mug rugs and pillows are a great way to use up log cabin blocks
batik tote bag that went to my mother for Christmas
the black stocking went to my daughter-in-law for Christmas, the others were made many years ago
I received so many compliments on the first bag–and orders for more–that I decided to make one for me using one batik fabric

Some of you may have seen this, and I apologize for the repeat, but this was big. I’ve had my eye on this one for years. It’s a Thimbleberries pattern for a table runner and place mats.

Until this is finished, this is what I made for the meantime:

I’ve always wanted to make a rag quilt. This was my first attempt using the many plaids I’ve accumulated. Two more place mats to finish. He hasn’t noticed, but I cut up one of hubby’s shirts….

Some of you may have seen the purple mittens I made from my old wool sweater. They went to my daughter for Christmas. I didn’t stop there. I’d had the idea in my head to make mittens using old sweaters and I couldn’t let it go. Kind of like the last piece of pizza (but that’s another story). With wool on my brain and where to find some, I recalled something special. Here’s what I came up with:


The tan blanket is navy issue from 1951. Rod Geier was my father. In college I used two of his tan blankets that I’d sewn together. They are 100 percent wool and quite heavy. I found the pattern on-line. The blue blanket is partial wool that no one was using. I lined the mittens with fleece. They are very warm. I could not share them until now because the second pair went to my sister and I didn’t want her to see them before Christmas.

By this time, my bobbin was smokin’.

We’ve had unusually cold, snowy, and icy conditions in the Portland area the past few weeks. Today, they are predicting more snow. So…….I guess I should clean the bathroom fluff the pillows finish the rag place mats, or do more on the Thimbleberries table runner.


It’s time for another project:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m starting a new category called Rockin’ Bobbin on the blog today, this being the first installment. Sewing has been a part of me since I was in fourth grade when my mother began a 4-H group out of our home. She taught me the basics, but I stitched my way through high school, college, and early married life with coats, clothing for me and the children, quilts, and many other projects. If the next few months/years are a hint of the goddess within, Gandalf says I’d best devote time and space.

Gandalf can hardly wait to get started
Otis is extremely focused

Otis made me promise to stop yodeling. The only thing left to do is get that bobbin rockin’. 

Back Roads Therapy

I caught myself reminiscing in a very big way on Saturday evening. First we attended a retirement party (which is salt in an already big wound. While Saturday’s party was for someone who worked with my husband, today I saw my former work peeps and it hurts my heart that I am no longer part of them; I am, but it isn’t the same), then we took the long way home for three reasons.

  1. We wanted to see our magical mountain.

mt hood from sandy lookout_june 2016 (19)This is another view of magnificent Mt. Hood, and it took my breath away. When we stopped, I felt the tug on my heart because for the first eight years of our marriage, we lived just down the street from this lookout point. Just down the street.

We had no idea, of course, that these gorgeous flowers would be there to greet us. It was 8:30 p.m.; as the sun said goodnight, a peaceful orange hue emerged.

mt hood from sandy lookout_june 2016 (27)I was bowled over with the beauty of the place, kept hoping the other visitors wouldn’t call 911 when they saw a sniveling lady suffering an apparent breakdown from simply looking at the view. I heard no sirens so either I hid it well or we left before they arrived.

mt hood from sandy lookout_june 2016 (13)Meet our beautiful Sandy River. I used to drive this road every week into nearby Sandy to grocery shop; I drove right by this same viewpoint. Did I ever stop with my camera? Not once. Why? I have no clue (although having three small children in those years may have affected my behavior).

I could not get enough of these flowers (we keep forgetting to look them up to see what they are, so if anyone knows, please chime in).

2. We wanted to see “home.” This is where my husband lived when we became engaged. It’s where we lived when each of the children joined the family. I can see the front patio where the children had their first swimming pool, the plastic type. I see chubby little legs running all over this front yard. I recall the area by the garden where I parked my second born son in his baby chair while I weeded out front.

The husband built this house, planted this garden space, and all the trees along the driveway. This is the driveway that brought each of our children home for the very first time. It’s the driveway where our oldest son learned to ride his bike. The room to the right is the living room, where we put our first Christmas tree. I can see the front yard BBQ parties, gatherings with friends on summer nights, and I hear the laughter.

Much is the same and there are changes. How could it ever not be home?

the old house_june 2016 (3)

3. There are some darned good milkshakes along this back road.

While life changes can be difficult, and while we know they are passages we must navigate our way through, the thorns can be blunted with beauty, remembering the good times, and a darned good milkshake. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking the back road home.

mt hood from sandy lookout_june 2016 (25)

You Just Wait

Through the years I’ve heard people lament that they’ve become their mother, or their father. I’ve seen blogs with clever titles reflecting the humor or chagrin of their realization. They sometimes seem disappointed.

That is far from my thinking because I had and have great parents. Becoming my dad or mom would be a very good thing.

I see my mother once or twice a week, sometimes more. She’s now 87 and “going strong.” Yesterday at the beginning of our visit, mom and I caught up, reviewed the week’s events. She shows me her latest knitting or card making project, tells me the scoop. Mom calls Independent Living home now, and where she lives, there is hardly a dull moment. She tells me about the book she’s reading–there is always a book–and we often trade, talk about our favorites.

Then it was my turn. I’d been feeling low. One of my children left for the summer and it is always difficult, no matter their age. I looked at mom and said, “It’s just hard,” and that’s when it happened. She looked at me, and with a small smile and tears in her eyes, said simply, “I know.” Then she paused and we locked eyes.

And, right then, I realized something. My mother and I were the same, one in the same, and we shared a very specific bond. We both knew and felt the very same, unspoken thing in that one moment. She knows because I’d done it to her. My sister had done it to her. Now it’s being done to me, again, and it hurts. I’d left her, my children left me, but if she survived, so will I. It was love, and hurt, and enduring, and life, and survival in one single moment.

Then, mom abruptly stood up and said, “Oh, I have something for you” and headed for her bathroom. When she came back, she said, “Here, this is for you. I don’t really like the color.”

nail polish_june 2016 (3)What happened next is still something I don’t fully understand, because those who know me know that not only do I dislike pink, I don’t paint my nails. (I’m all over having a frequent pedicure, partly because with age and a bad back, I can scarcely reach my toes and I’m not that old. Yet). Through the years I found that maintaining painted, sculpted fingernails while working in dental hygiene was difficult. Not only that, I’m a gardener, berry picker, and I work in the dirt. These are outdoor hands.

But, what did I do?

I opened that bottle of pink polish and applied a coat to my left thumbnail. And, I love it. I looked at mom, and she me, and we both smiled. She got up again and went to her bathroom, and the next thing I knew, I was leaving with all of the items below. “No, you take this. I’ve got another full bottle of remover, and a full package of the rounds,” mom said. And, “Here, I have more No Chip, you take these.” “Take them, you have fun!” she said.

That’s when I realized this is something mom really enjoys, that having nice nails and making her hands pretty makes her feel good. It’s such a simple thing. Her words have fun stayed with me last night, long after I came home.

nail polish_june 2016 (2)I did just that. I began with the file. I shaped, trimmed, and prepared. I caught myself smiling because after just that much, my outdoor nails looked so much better.

Today, I painted. I found myself enjoying the entire process. I applied two coats of the pink, and one coat of the No Chip. I giggled the entire time trying to hold still and get the polish on my nails instead of my fingers. Patience was never one of my strong points.

They don’t look perfect but I did it, my very own and first manicure in many years. And, I had fun, just like mom. I love the color, the shine, and having newly shaped nails. I smiled over a job well done.

As I set down the bottle I wondered about the name they chose for this color.

nail polish_june 2016 (1)

You Just Wait.

I don’t think I have to. I’ve become mom.

Something New

I have been collecting Pyrex for years but hadn’t really noticed. It sort of evolved (like the size of my hips). Recently, my sister has gone hog-wild crazy over the stuff, and with good reason.

It is rather delightful, it keeps well (if cared for), and because of the many sizes and patterns, it is ever useful. And, it’s pretty. A definite plus.

I don’t know the pattern names or their actual age; I don’t really care. What matters is that I like the stuff and hope to use it more and more. And, OK, there IS a health reason: Plastics don’t appear to be overly healthy. That, and when I’ve stored spaghetti sauce in a plastic container, it can be difficult to remove the grease, even after a scrubbing in the dishwasher. (“Scrubbing” my backside! But, that’s another story. I have issues with scummy dishwashers).

So, for now, I am on the hunt–as is my sister–for something new in our favored patterns. Or not. Nearly any pattern will do. She’s become my eyes, and I hers. We text with photo if we see something, ask if the other wants it purchased; if so, we buy and exchange later.

april-2016_vintage-pyrex_image 1
Recently used as kitty water dish
April 2016_image 2
I’ve had the loaf pan for years, recently added the rest. Butter dishes on right. Note the vin…um, is it 5 o’clock, yet? But of course!
April 2016_image 3
Started collecting this one three years ago, big sis found the small one. My favorite pattern, so far. Key words “so far.” If you see any, TEXT!
april-2016_vintage-pyrex_image 4
This one is growing on me.
April 2016_image 5
J’adore le Francais.
April 2016_image 6
Mais, oui.

I’ve been on the hunt for years for bowls for oven-baked French Onion soup. Never thought to look at Pyrex (what is wrong with me?!). These bowls have handles and come in various sizes. Parfait!

April 2016_image 7
Le Persil, La Sauge, La Marjolaine. Tres bien.
April 2016_image 8
Accidental acquisitions

I probably see this blue pattern more than any other. It’s OK. I won’t buy more unless it’s an accident. There may be an emergency. I am retired now, and if I happen to be out wandering aimlessly  stocking my chocolate supply  looking for upgrades for the house and I happen to see something (at the Goodwill that I almost never–ahem!–go into) it might accidentally end up in my cart…for the house...

My french onion soup in the old bowls…

While I’ve been on the hunt for two more of these, I am anxious to try this soup in my “new”  bowls.

On second thought, if you see any more of these, please TEXT!

Retirement–Day 9–Lessons From My Cat

It’s Retirement–Day 9–and while my body understands what happened, I’ve noticed a cerebral hitch in my get-along. I can’t relax. I’m wound up tighter than a __________. You may fill in the blank. Be kind.

I’ve mentally cut people off this past week. I’m not sorry. I want them to stop talking. I’m nearly choking with something I need to do or say, of paramount importance. Something needs to get done. I check my Fitbit for the time. Don’t I have to be somewhere? I know I’m late.

I’ve chopped up my week into sections, allotted pockets of time for this, and a bit for that, but scarcely more, and I’m not giving anyone or anything my full attention. I’m frazzled and annoyed. There is a sense of impending something

I was in a real hurry today at mom’s apartment, in Independent Living! No wonder I retrieved odd stares (more than my 30 or 40 on any given day usual), because NO ONE HURRIES over there.

But, me? I blasted down the hall like there were free maple bars in the dining hall  after the last time I pulled the fire alarm  someone from high school recognized me. I raced to her door and left even quicker. I’m sure it’s on tape, now on file at the police station.

I’d seen Grace-Allys reach for her cell as I flew by. Bitch. It had to be her. What kind of a name is that, anyway? What’s with all the hyphenating crap? Why can’t she go by Grace? Or Allys? Or better-spelled, Alice, like normal people? She wants attention. Bitch.

I gave mom a hug and sat on her couch. The edge of her couch. I couldn’t scoot my hiney all the way back because it’s harder to bolt. I didn’t want to pull a muscle. After I checked my Fitbit, I looked up and there it was. I saw the look. I noticed how sweet mom was while sending it my direction. It’s the silent, ever-patient what-the-hell-are-you-doing-but-I-love-you-anyway-because-you-are-my-child look. Oops.

I felt like running. I thought I might have ants in my pants. Or a rash. From the ants? Or the running? I just don’t know. I can’t think straight. Maybe I should apply salve.

I flew in my door after driving home like a bat out of hell, raced into her highness’s quarters the family room. And, there she was, our Blossom, on the couch on her cat bed, swathed in lying on her homemade princess quilt cat blanket, snorting breathing peacefully next to the mostly-eaten piece of oven-roasted Parmesan chicken on her little silver platter cat food dish, blissfully lost somewhere in feline Heaven, whiskers a twitching. Kitty-kitty.

It was then I recalled that morbidly uncomfortable hotter-than-hell August day…

March 2016_Blossom_summer-2012

I’m sure it was hell well into the 90s. I’d been out back sweating like a trucker, daintily perspiring, trying not to slip out of my lawn chair again to keep cool when I saw the moment. I needed to get this on film. Or sensor. WhatEVER. How the hell does digital photography work anyway?

Here was our Blossom, flat on her back, her under parts fully exposed. And I’m thinking, “Wow, SHE knows how to do this.” She’s got it. Just look at her!

Then it hit me, how lovely it would be if people did this–without others getting their panties in a knot* or calling 911–to lie flat on our backs in the grocery store, at the airport, or the DMV, wherEVER–when we need a moment.

And moments we have, all of us, when life changes occur. It’s a time to take note, breathe, plan, meditate; it’s time for pampering. It’s time for several well-deserved LADIES NIGHTS OUT!!! It’s time for wine, maple bars, and time to take it easy. It’s time for books, chats, and very long walks. It’s time for whatever I want it to be.

Because I’ve put in my time, it’s time to believe it’s my time.

*But, people do get their panties in a knot, and they do call 911 (Grace-Allys, I’m watching you).