That damp carpet

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Answers were slow in coming today. Actually, they haven’t yet arrived.

I suppose I should have left my shoes on, then I wouldn’t have known.

Last night while getting ready for bed, I slipped off my shoes and as I headed past the bathroom sink I immediately noticed my socks had suddenly become cold or wet.

They were wet, though I think not-quite-damp is a better word. They were giving me a warning that the carpet wasn’t dry. And, honestly, it should be. Always.

Since I try to turn my thoughts off before bed, I was wondering how that was going to happen if I had a new worry. Gary would have known what to do, but my go-to place is Facebook.

I was told it could be a seal around the toilet. Or it could be a leak in a pipe. I can fix neither of those problems even if I knew which one it was. (Please don’t let it be both.)

Gary was the one who wanted a partially-carpeted bathroom. He did it for warmth on the floor, and to help me not to fall on slick tile. I wish now we had gone with slip-resistant throw rugs.

I didn’t realize I would have to be put on a list at the plumber’s (no call-back today, and I called them at 7 a.m. when they opened), and no reply (yet) from someone I am sure could at least let me know what I’m dealing with.

Last night I tried to make sure that every time my mind turned to the carpet, I would pray. That’s all I can do, and it’s the best thing I can do.

Sure, I might have to go upstairs earlier than normal tonight – there’s a bathroom upstairs – but that’s not so bad. At least I have an alternative.

I’ve learned that counting my blessings really does push negative thoughts to the side, then behind me. Tomorrow’s another day, and maybe there will be good news to report.

Just about anything’s possible, right? You bet it is.

Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019

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Reading through 2002

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Gary, Clint and me

I learned a lot by reading through 2002.

I’ve started many a journal throughout the years and I didn’t realize there was one that was complete. Oh, maybe a day or two went by with no entry but 99% of the year was written down.

Lots of emotions came over me when reading what happened 16 years ago. That was the last year we saw our son, Clint.

I was flabbergasted to learn that Clint called several times that year. I totally forgot that. And lest I forget this: please, please get yourself a small planner or journal or whatever and jot stuff down! You WILL forget some things, some important things, but if you write them down when they happen, you won’t lose the memories.

Clint called during the morning of July 5. He and his then-wife Robin called on Sept. 25. Clint called on his birthday, Oct. 19 and again on the 25th. Robin called on Dec. 14 and the 18th. Clint called on the 20th and asked us to meet them in Peoria the next day.

We all met on the 21st. We gave Clint a Christmas card with cash in it, and that was the last time we saw him. He called on Dec. 31st to say he was “ok”. I’d have to find my journal for 2003 to see if I wrote that he called in March, but my memory says he did.

That’s what I would have forgotten – well, most of it – if I hadn’t written things down. There were some other things, like our sweet pooch Cujo passing away (and all of her problems before that happened), plus a double murder four blocks from us. I wouldn’t have minded forgetting that.

I’m not making the extra effort to find other journals because I’m in the process of creating other things. If I run across one, I’ll check it out but for now I’m happy to record what’s going on now.

Think about it, just don’t take too long. Memory is fleeting, and time flies.

Monday, Jan. 14, 2019

Snow what?

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A snow storm on a different day

We used to joke in the newsroom about certain photos. These were most often the Fourth of July ones, maybe Hog Days now and then. The saying went, “If no one gets out to take pics, we can throw some in from last year and no one will know the difference.”

I’m using an old photo for this blog post because we’re getting about the same amount of snow and it could very well have been taken today. Except I no longer have that table, and the deck railing doesn’t look like that now.

It probably started snowing around 2 a.m. or so, and now it’s past 4 p.m. and still it’s coming down. I’ve swept off a teeny-tiny path on the ramp outside my front door but that’s as far as I got. I truly don’t see the upside in getting all dressed up just to stay inside all day. Jammies Day it is then.

Don’t get me wrong. I accomplished a few things. I did some writing, did the dishes, read some more chapters in a good book, watched some stuff I’d recorded. Oh, and took a short nap.

I’m also listening to the police scanner. I don’t know how they do it. Yes, I know it’s their job and all, but on a day and night like this you couldn’t pay me enough to slog through this weather to answer fights, arguments, fender-benders and whatever else is out there. Thank God there are people out there willing to do what they do.

While we’re inside our warm homes there are others out there doing their jobs – newspaper delivery people, mail carriers, medical staffs, ambulance drivers, and those who care for animals – willing to get their car stuck to see to it that a dog can get outside. And not only get outside, but get some much-needed cuddling, food and water.

The world is full of these kinds of people. The snow can fall all it wants but it’s not going to stop those who are determined to do what they believe they need to.

Thanks – to every one of you.

Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019

Zzzzz…there’s an app for that

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I can hardly believe it. I’m actually (almost) sleeping through the night.

There are the usual early-morning treks to the bathroom, and it used to be almost impossible to get back to sleep but that’s changed too. I like that.

My messed up sleep pattern began a few years ago. Toss in age, pain, Gary’s health and mine, plus work and it’s not surprising neither of us could sleep like normal people.

Though I have to say, how can any of us say what is normal? We’re told to get eight hours of sleep every night but I never needed that much. Give me a good five or six – in a row – and I’m good for the whole day.

One of the first things I did was pray for protection while I slept, and for protection in my dreams. This is the first time I’ve ever lived alone, not even a cat or dog in the house, and I’m not going to lie – it can be scary. So, prayers first, then an app that helps me sleep.

I use the app Calm and it’s terrific. My favorite sounds are thunderstorms, especially with lots of wind. I also use Alexa thunderstorms which are good too.

For years I went to sleep with the TV on, the volume on low. That’s just too much light for me. I have a police scanner going all the time but it’s not a constant barrage of noise. I have to say, though, that if I am up in the wee hours, scanner traffic can get interesting.

Getting a good night’s sleep is doing wonders for me during the day. I hope it stays this way, because for the first time in ages I feel normal. You know, whatever that is.

Friday, Jan. 11, 2019

That soft, kind voice

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Saw this beauty just off our deck one day

Is it just me, or are the employees at drive-thru restaurants getting friendlier?

I thought I wanted a burger basket the other day but changed my mind at the last minute. The chicken strip meal was on special and it sounded good. The woman was friendly and didn’t try to talk me into anything else. I like that.

I pulled up to the window, got out the money and paid. The drink came first and I knew it would be a couple of minutes so I went into my standard stare-into-space mode and let the thoughts wander.

It wasn’t long at all before I heard a soft voice. “Hello?” I blinked and turned to see a smiling face. “I didn’t want to scare you,” she said. She couldn’t have known how easily I scare – it’s kind of embarrassing, but there’s no way to fix it.

She went on to say that when her mom has a seizure, she stares into space and I reminded her of her mother. I can only imagine what she went through in those few seconds, wondering if her customer was in trouble.

We talked while she handed me my food, then I went on my way.

See, it doesn’t take much effort to simply be kind but it made my day. She probably doesn’t realize how her behavior affected me, but if I see her again I’ll let her know. I wish I would have at the time.

It can be easy to believe that the world is full of angry, cruel people. It’s not. I believe there are far more beautiful souls out there and they bring hope and joy to those they meet.

I want to be one of them.

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019

What is that weird feeling?

Apparently, it’s been ages since I’ve been angry. It feels weird, and I don’t like it.

I know some folks thrive on anger. I used to be one of them. It took decades to get my head on straight, so I cut people a lot of slack in that area. To me it’s like dieting and exercising – you can tell us it’s the right thing to do, and you can go on telling us that until you’re blue in the face, but we’re not going to jump on the Health Wagon until we want to. Period.

One day I was too busy thinking about my former life in the working world. It didn’t take long for the thoughts to meander around to some of the unlovely parts of the job. It didn’t matter if 100 people said my writing was good; if one person said it was horrible, that’s what stuck.

I happened to see the remark in one of the comments about a piece I’d written. The person who wrote it is someone I thought of as at least a friendly acquaintance. We’d been in groups together, writer groups mostly, and I hadn’t seen anything from her in years – until the comment of how “horribly written” the piece was.

I kept going back to that. I re-read my writing but couldn’t figure out what she meant. That time I didn’t get angry, but I did feel hurt.

Anger came as the memories floated toward the times I was asked to keep someone’s name out of the paper. Talk about colliding emotions. Gary was always willing to listen to my work stories, and he was 100 percent – every single time – for telling the favor-asker NO.

First, he said, it was my job to report the news – no matter what. He said I wasn’t to pick and choose and no one should ever ask me to. He also pointed out – and this is where the anger came in that day – that I was obligated to report whatever case it was, including our friends and family.

And oh, let me tell you, that hit home.

Two days after Gary’s obituary was published I was looking at my grandson’s picture on the front page of the paper (as they say: in color and above the fold). That is the memory that brought the anger and it felt awful.

Well, those days are over. When I see familiar names now, I feel concern for them but I won’t have to face “writing them up”. Even better, no one can ask me for that one favor. They never should have.

Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019

I grew up without a dad, too

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Clint’s dog, Max. She passed away on Mother’s Day, 2005

Being raised by a single parent can be rough on the mom or dad and the kids. In fact, it probably was – on everyone – but Mom refused to bring any other men into her life for fear they would hurt her girls.

Yes, Sis and I were raised by a single mom. Both of our dads had their reasons for not being in our lives. After we were grown, we each went on our quest to check things out for ourselves.

It’s hard to see history repeat itself. By that I mean that our oldest son simply up and vanished one day over 15 years ago. He didn’t tell us where he was going or that he wasn’t coming back, he just was gone.

That means he left behind two young boys who no doubt wonder why. They’re not alone. Gary died not knowing where Clint is or was, and I still don’t know.

I “learned” all kinds of stuff about my dad, and not any of it was complimentary. On the contrary, I was led to believe he was an awful man. A story that haunts me to this day is that mom gave Dad the choice of choosing between three-month-old me and his dog. She said he chose the dog.

I was one of those kids who didn’t believe everything she was told. I was determined to prove the naysayers wrong. I set out on my quest, and, well, I now have the court transcripts of what our mother said under oath as to what happened to her marriage. Okay, so my dad was definitely not Father of the Year.

Seems to me that once kids get to be a certain age they need to stop swallowing one side of a story and check things out on their own. Find others who knew your dad and get some new perspective. I wish I could say I was surprised when I recently learned that a person close to our grandchildren STILL believe Gary and I knew where Clint was all this time and we weren’t telling anyone. That itself is a special kind of hellish hurt.

I can only imagine the anger Clint’s sons feel over that. I wish they would realize they only know a fraction of who their father is/was. I wish they knew I could tell them so much more.

A child’s mind is a terrible thing to mess with. We should raise them with care, love, honesty and so much more. We should strive not to turn their hearts against another human being because in the end, that same heart could turn against you.

Think about it.

Monday, Jan. 7, 2019