Time to call it a day

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I’m going to hang up the blog for a while.

It’s obvious to me that I’m still too broken to hold to any kind of schedule, let alone a daily one – unless it involves meds, that is.

It’s my kind of day – overcast, cool(er), and Law & Order reruns all day and into the night.

Still.

I think I’m still crying too much. I thought I was excited about my birthday tomorrow but it turns out I couldn’t care less.

November brings Thanksgiving.

December brings his birthday, the last time we saw Clint (in 2002), Christmas, and our anniversary.

Halloween sounds promising, but that could be because of candy sales.

Anyway, today is it. For how long, I have no idea.

Thanks for reading – all of you.

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Play me a song so I can remember

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Listening to country tunes on a hazy Saturday afternoon.

Gary and I loved listening to music or watching it on TV. I think I’m the one who discovered Celtic Woman. Every chance we got, we’d watch it. I would often record it so we could watch it again and zip through commercials.

We both had the same favorite in that group: the fiddle player. Oh, could she play! She was often barefoot, gliding across the stage while playing. It was so incredible, I cried.

On road trips we compromised. Sometimes it was his favorite – 50’s and 60’s, especially Neil Diamond, Everly Brothers, Beach Boys. For me it was country – all the way.

In addition to my country playlist, I have a list that he would love. At least a year before he passed away, I got him a Google device. He could (and did) ask it to play his favorite tunes. I’d find him in his “man cave” reading Facebook and listening to music. We were so compatible.

As I listen to The Dance, I think of him. When Forever and Forever, Amen comes on, I think of the Evangelical Covenant Church and how many services and dinners and prayer meetings we attended there.

When Footloose plays, I remember how we watched the movie together and thoroughly enjoyed the music and the dancing.

Hallelujah reminds me of Pentatonix and how we loved watching them perform this song. Every Little Thing – well – the title says it all. There are so many little things he left behind that bring him to mind and heart every day.

One day on a drive to Galesburg, Buy Me a Boat came on and he laughed out loud with me. Stand By Me takes me back to the night we watched the movie of the same name. The kids were with us, and that brings even more memories.

He never got to hear God’s Country by Blake Shelton. I know he would have loved it. Besides, it always reminds me of where he is now – with God.

Some day I hope to be able to listen to 50’s and 60’s music. It won’t be anytime soon, though. I believe we know when we’re just a little too fragile to take on anything else. I’m going to save that experience until I’m sure I can handle it.

In the meantime, I’m waiting for God’s Country to play on my new, old-fashioned jukebox. I’m ready for that.

Eyes that see, hearts that reach out and help

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Beautiful place to relax, think, and just enjoy life. I love living here.

Okay, Monday was a strenuous day. After a painful day at work, I ended up deciding to retire for good.

On Tuesday, in the wee hours, I got very sick. On the surface I didn’t feel like retiring caused this sudden illness but you know what they say about our subconscious. I figured that on some level my body was freaking out over possible financial problems ahead – forever.

I still don’t feel nervous on the surface. There are some things you can do something about, and others you simply can’t.

This illness lasted all the way through Wednesday. Thursday was much better, and today is good too.

On Thursday, I got a few phone calls. Kind of unusual for me, and I’m okay with that. These calls, though, brought lots of good news.

I applied for help with errand-running, light housekeeping, grocery shopping and such. And now I have it. Then, I was approved for daily meal delivery. Could it get any better? Glad you asked. I’m also getting a medical alert system. I know, I live across the street from the best professional help in town but I’m still thrilled and thankful for the extra protection.

I wasn’t sure any of this was going to happen, let alone happen so soon after I asked. It did, though, and although none of this will minimize the physical pain, it sure does a lot for the apparently emotional upheaval my retirement brought to my subconscious.

I would say a little help goes a long way, except to me this is a LOT of help and I wish I could express how glad I am. Though this world can seem off-kilter at times, I can see a world full of kind, compassionate people. I hope you can too.

Well, at least I finished it. Meh.

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The look on my face after I finished the book. Actually, I took this photo of owls at the Harry Potter event in Princeton. It was years ago, and still one of my favorite memories.

Well. That wasn’t much fun.

I picked a book to read, and even though the plot description and reviews made me wrinkle my nose a little, I thought I should give it a try. I should mention that I would not make a good critic of books, movies and such because I tend to find something good most of the time. Paid critics seem to actually be objective.

This book was a lightweight compared to my other choices. I took it to work Monday because it was super easy to tuck into my purse. I wasn’t totally thrilled, though, because I wasn’t liking it much.

As I pointed out to my friend at work, the main guy character “growled” all the time. The first five or six times I read a variation of that word, I thought, “Oh, c’mon. You have to realize you’re over-using this word. It’s annoying.” But, sadly, no. The growling continued.

The girl was a big baby. Except when she was telling herself to stop being a big baby, and to go back to being the tough woman she used to be. Also, she was barefoot through the whole ordeal of being “hunted” by a psycho through a forest and there were very, very few mentions of what that must have done to her feet.

I don’t know. The plot was exciting, but most of the whole book was ruined by the use of a popular four-letter word – in most of its forms. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Even at the end when there was a toddler in the picture, the couple used that word – in front of her.

Yes, it’s fiction. And I like to think there’s some redeeming value in every book but that’s not reality. The reviews were glowing, and I now know that doesn’t always mean much.

Now I’m reading a David Baldacci novel and it’s terrific. I haven’t read his work before, and since this one is so good I know I’ll be looking for more.

You know, I don’t feel like I wasted my time reading the “meh” book. I learned a few things – things I should never, ever do in my own writing. See? I found something good after all.

 

Monday? What’s that?

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No more going to work on days like this. Brrrrr.

I know the admonitions about pride. I wanted that out there because that’s not the kind of pride I’m talking about.

When I finally had to call it quits from my favorite job of all time, I’m kind of sad to say that I felt nothing. I didn’t cry, I wasn’t depressed. There was nothing.

I’m older now, and I’ve been working since my early teens, thanks to a mother who made sure I could get a work permit to start working so young. My first job? Washing dishes in a downtown restaurant.

I managed to get and hold down over 20 jobs over the years. I wasn’t fired from any of them. And, I retired from my last one – twice.

I’ve been a dishwasher, a secretary, a bank teller, a librarian, a clerk, a waitress, and lots more. You can probably figure out that librarian comes in a close second to a reporter, features writer, and columnist.

What I feel a little pride about is this: I worked until I couldn’t work anymore. I hope others don’t have to go that far. It would be wonderful beyond words to be able to retire and be able to get around and do fun things.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have fun. I love to read and write. I find it a privilege to pray for others. I enjoy listening to music and talking with friends. I adore my son and my sister and am blessed to have all family and friends in my life.

So, yeah, I feel pretty good about putting in decades of work that was interesting, varied, and that brought life-long friends into my life. Proud, and more than thankful.

This time I mean it. Really.

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There will be more time for this, I guess. Maybe that’s a good thing. We’ll see, won’t we?

Well, I tried.

I retired in late November last year. I couldn’t handle the physical or emotional pain, though I made a huge effort. Suddenly cast into this new life, there were few things I knew and one of those was I had to keep working. Right?

Most folks told me that even if I was working because I needed the money, I also needed to get out and see people. I never did really get that. Still, when I am with others it makes the day go by faster and gives me something to think about besides, “What’s for lunch/supper?”

Yesterday was supposed to be my “easy” day on the job. Turned out to not be the case because the pain was horrendous. As hard as it was to admit it, I knew the time had come.

I retired this morning. Again, and for good.

I won’t look past today if I can help it. I think I would have ended up having to do my job from a wheelchair. I was that close.

During the months I was first retired, I noticed a slight improvement in the pain. I’ll take that any day. I do know I can’t continue to aggravate the situation.

So, I’m right in there with all of you who don’t have to dread Mondays. Although from what I remember from the first retirement, we can tend to forget what day it is anyway. Fine by me – there are worse things.

We’re heading into fall, my favorite time of year. I’m retired, having a birthday, and looking forward to finishing one novel and starting another in November. Life, as they say, is good.

Sad? Yup. Happy? Yup. At the same time? Yup.

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Sometimes, you just need somebody – or something – to snuggle. A gift from my sweetheart.

I had the weirdest question to ask a sweet, widowed friend the other day. I thought, if she calls, I’ll ask her.

I didn’t get to ask her, but the answer came to my unasked question. It came through my morning devotional.

I wondered, “Can you be deeply saddened and joyful at the same time?” I didn’t know about anyone else, I only knew it was happening to me and it felt weird.

I’ll try to explain. I can be busy doing something (okay, sometimes it’s reading or playing video games or watching television or listening to music), when all of a sudden one thought will lead to another and before I know it I’m back to the night my sweetheart passed away. The trip back to that time took a huge number of turns inside my head, and the result was a torrential tear episode. Just like that.

At the same time, seriously, I felt such joy inside that he is safe now. He is well now. He is deliriously happy now. Even if I’m not any of those things, he is, and that gives me so much joy. So very much.

I loved him so much that I wouldn’t want him to suffer one more second. Sure, there are lots of times when I wish I had one more day, one more hour, one more anything. I would never agree to it, though, if he had to suffer.

So, yeah, I didn’t need to ask anyone if it’s possible to cry your eyes out while having joy and thankfulness inside. I know it is. Thank God for that.

A special supper, maybe a candy bar with a candle in it

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I don’t remember which birthday this was for, but wow. Chocolate and cherries! Yes, please.

Okay, I’m not ancient but I am getting older. Next week I’ll be celebrating a birthday.

Well, not really celebrating. Acknowledging, maybe. Probably with chocolate of some sort.

I have to work that day, and the courthouse has a vending machine. I’m not going to sneak in a candle and light it in a Milky Way candy bar. I’d rather report the news than be the news.

I’ve had lots of fun birthdays. On one, I got an orange kitty I named Lintball. That’s probably the weirdest name I’ve ever given a pet.

Most of those times we went out to a meal, maybe more than one. In the beginning I’d start celebrating a week before, then I began reminding him a month ahead of time. He’d just smile, and shake his head.

On his birthday, he didn’t want any special attention. He preferred to stay home, so I thought it would be neat to make his favorite meal for supper. He liked that, a lot.

I do remember the one time we had a party for him at the house. He knew about it, but he didn’t have a clue what we were up to. He’d complained a few days earlier about his socks – not enough of them, and what he had were pretty much worn out.

I spread the word, and it was wonderful. Everyone who showed (and there were quite a few) brought gifts. And every gift, except one, was socks. At first he was just puzzled, then a little embarrassed, but when all was said and done he was happy to have all the socks he’d need for a while.

Whether we have those we love around us on our birthday, or we’re alone, I think we should do something special. None of us know how many birthdays we’ll get, or how many we’ll remember.

Maybe I’ll bring the candy bar home and stick a candle in it here. If I do, I’ll show you all a picture.

Oooh, but I was tempted

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The look on my face when I read criticism of something I’ve written.

It seems like I’ve been editing or writing for newspapers almost my whole life. It’s not true, it just feels that way sometimes.

The picture above was taken years ago when I edited a small freebie published in Toulon. I attended the pet thingy sponsored by our local radio station. It was held during Hog Days, and I was thrilled to do it. Give me something to cover that involves animals or writers and I’m there. (Provided there are no stairs to climb.)

I made this photo black-and-white. I can’t find the original for some dumb reason. The horns are actually a deep red and it was so cool. But I digress.

As you know, I cover felony cases at the county courthouse. I attend, listen, observe, then write the piece up and send it in. Most times it will get edited (as it should), and sometimes the edit will include something I did not put in the original piece. If that info isn’t correct, guess who gets criticized for “getting it wrong?” Yup.

So I got “that look” on my face as I read the posts, and my fingers got itchy to respond. The only problem at the beginning seemed to be that I got an age wrong. Well, no, *I* didn’t. But then I got to thinking – so what if they think it’s my fault? Is that really a battle I want to fight? Nope.

Then, though, someone wrote that what I reported isn’t what happened in court. Look, I love to read fiction. I really do. So trust me when I tell you that I don’t write “fiction” for the paper. I write ONLY what I see and hear. I don’t make things up. I don’t copy the work of others. If I have a question, I will do my best to get an answer from the source or I won’t include a “guess”.

It didn’t take too long for my face to return to its normal self. It wasn’t worth responding and starting a whole new conversation and possible insults.

So, why am I writing about it now? I guess it’s because I’m hoping that if some small thing is upsetting you and making your fingers itchy to respond, or your mouth ready to fire back – maybe, just maybe, you’ll think twice or even three times.

Pick your battles. And try to listen to that still, small voice that you know is right.

Let. It. Go.

See that? Oh, and this, and that, too

So many reminders. Thank God I have them here. All I have to do is look around me.

I see one over there. And just above it is another. Next to that, another.

They’re everywhere.

The dark spot in the brown photo is a ding in the kitchen counter. That is one tough counter, but I managed to mess it up.

It was a bright, sunny day when Gary decided it was time to put in a new kitchen window. We’d decided that with a huge house full of old, old windows, we’d buy one at a time and he would install them. He could do so many things.

The original window was the kind that had a handle on each side. You would turn it clockwise to open the window, and counter-clockwise to close them. Sometimes something would go wrong and the window would get stuck open.

Gary and almost everyone else we knew were aware of how terrified I am of flying, stinging things. So when he ripped out the old window, and went back down the ladder to bring up the new one, I stood at the too-large opening holding bug spray and a fly-swatter. Terrified.

For some reason I don’t remember, Gary handed me the really heavy window through the opening and told me to hold it for a minute. It slipped in my hand and a corner dinged the counter. As far as I know, it’s the biggest flaw we have in it, and it goes on for a long way in my kitchen.

Every now and then throughout the years I’ve been tempted to color the hole in. I have oodles of colored markers, pencils and such but I never did it. I won’t now. No, I want to keep it like it is because it’s a reminder of my sweetheart and the day we spent together “improving” our home.

The photo of the curtain-covered window reminds me of three things: the sink and faucets he bought at an auction, and the cupboards he labored over for weeks. He was so proud of all three. The sink has stains, the faucet probably should be replaced, and the cupboards could use some cleaning and a touch-up or two.

Still. I can look at these things, just like I look at his favorite place on the couch, or where he used to sit at the kitchen table, or, well, just about anywhere here.

In my home. In our home.