Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Kids and Sand Dunes

This explains a lot of my summer. 

JB and I have had each grandkid, separately, for several days and overnights. We've said 'yes' dozens of times more often than a meager 'no' here and there.  We've gone bowling, eaten dessert first, had water balloon fights, seen a drag show and a couple of children' theatre plays, searched for shells, swam every day, had meals together, watched movies, stayed up late, walked along zany Commercial Street, and counted our blessings out loud together 3 times a day.

Ryan, age 12, was the last to leave today. JB and I are exhausted. But exhaustion isn't what I feel the most. I KNOW we've created lasting memories. I KNOW they know it too. No doubt being one of four kids in a family requires daily compromise, so coming to Provincetown, alone, means getting total attention with a minimum of rules. I'm so happy to be able to give these beloved children that. And I love knowing that my Jessica appreciates it all. 

And now, JB and I plan to chill. I have a manuscript to edit and a garden to tend to, but both are so easy peasy I'm ready. We'll wring out the last few days of summer and the nearby pool and look ahead to a gorgeous autumn on Cape Cod.  

It's been a good summer. In a messed up world where a horrible man continues his racist rants and policies, and too many of my fellow-Americans either ignore or approve, I'm grateful to have a corner of life where only love lives. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

This and That This Week :^)

First there's Mattie. Now 2 years old, here at 8 weeks old from the streets of Aruba, as sweet as can be even while she holds tight her DNA warnings about jittery sounds and strangers who approach our house. The highlight of her day is the 2 pm arrival of Steve the Mail Person, who without fail brings her a cookie no bigger than the size of my smallest finger. But don't tell Mattie that: she squeals with pure joy when she senses Steve's approaching. And at 9 am every morning either JB or I takes her to the local dog park, where she growls and nudges and runs with both her friends and enemies. I am convinced the human species would be better off with tails and honest growls. We'd know what to expect from each other.

Yes this is a boring photo--a bland door. But to me it's the separation of our master bedroom and my 'office,' complete finally, with privacy for the futon that sometimes someone might be sleeping on. It's taken me a year to get this little wall built and JB isn't happy about it--she loved the expanse across the room. The compromise happens when the door stays open because we can still see the water peek of the bay a block away. 

Today two heavy boxes arrived, brought by a slight man who struggled mightily to get those boxes on our porch. I felt bad for him, "They should have sent a stronger man than me," he told me, this nice man who looked like he'd just run a marathon, lugging those boxes.   

Inside is an armoire for me, which our friend Raul will assemble on Friday. The armoire will go to the left of the door and I will be a happy lucky duck about it all.

I had to buy paper towels. I went to the grocery store and picked up a six pack, a regular, plain white, simple package of paper towels. There are chuckles in the household because somehow I brought home THESE paper towels!

And finally, last night, after several days of fun summer company, JB and I collapsed on the couch. I don't think much more needs to be said about this photo.

It's still summer and the sun's been out all week and I'm still walking better and that's that in a nutshell.  

Wishing you much love,

Thursday, July 04, 2019

No Tease Am I :^)

My friend 8, you've motivated me to blog today. Honest, I'll be blogging more often. I'd like to know that my photos will upload and my comments will publish but I'm taking my chances that the technology and blogger gods have decided to go easy on me.

This first photo is my newly designed side yard. It was a gift by two very talented people who know how to do "hardscape"--laying down paths and decks and installing arbors and trellises and leveling the ground including topsoil. JB and I fed these two fine people (Jeannie and her brother Craig)  for the 3 plus days it took for them to start and finish, and we are so grateful. I had an awesome time justifying spending a few hundred dollars buying shrubs and plants, and I'm shocked and sad to say, even though I consider myself a gardener, most have not been successful! The alliums are flacidly limp and the honey suckle stopped flowering. I'm bummed. But I'm also determined. Bring it on, next year!

So my back problem has limited me from just about everything. For a year JB had to drive me to the front door of a restaurant and let me lean on her so I could hobble inside. But no more! I have a way to go, but I'm on the mend. I can walk without pain, and my rehabilitative reputation in the neighborhood has included painting this wall. This photo shows about 2/3 of it. For the last week, I've been out by 7 am painting. First coat finished, second coat almost finished. This is like winning an award to me. PROGRESS! (This picture is before I started, FYI)

We expect to have a fine summer here on Cape Cod. Friends are coming and each of our grandkids is coming separately, ages 12, 10, 8, and 6. They'll each stay for 3 nights and 4 days and we'll do pretty much whatever they want! This includes dessert first. It also includes this pool. JB and I have this saline pool available to us all summer, and it's one block from our house. I gotta tell you: it's heaven. A couple of hours of cooling down and then letting the sun dry us from a lounge chair is as good as it gets. This is also great exercise for me: I still don't know if I actually can swim but I've gotten better at doing whatever it is that I do.

And finally, that little speck of a person on the top left quadrant is my Jessica, zip lining in Sundance, Utah, in the midst of a work conference. I had no idea she's be brave enough to do this (I'm not, JB is) but I'm always so darn glad when I know she's happy, and she is. Did I already post about my Mother's Day present from her? I got an email from a place called "Storyworth." It told me every Monday Jess would send me a question via email, I would answer it each week by email however I wanted--long, short, photos, no limits--and they would send my answer to Jess. For the next 52 weeks. That was cool enough. But at the end of a year, they will give Jess an bound book of all her questions and all my answers. I'm over the moon about it because it's memorializing my life for when I'm no longer here. Questions so far: what was your grandfather like?, where did your family vacation?, what's your strongest memory from childhood? etc.  

Today is July 4th and I hope it rains tonight so President Trump['s takeover of the country's celebration is minimized. I'm as ever appalled, hoping he'll be replaced in 2020, shocked that I even have to hope.

I'll back, 8. I think I'm back. xoxo

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Hello xo

There was a time when I blogged 2-3 times a week. Facebook didn't exist then and the most special part of blogging was the comaraderie of 30 or so regular bloggers, I among them, who shared and supported and enjoyed each other's posts and opinions and talents and gallivants. I miss those days. Unlike Facebook, we didn't know one another in person--we were from different backgrounds and different countries--but over time we did KNOW each other. A number of my real time friends were born from my blogging friendships. 

I've begun this post explaining this because I'm utterly failing to blog regularly these days. My photos weren't uploading. But today: they are! So here I am, starting with a glimpse of where and how I live. It's a spit of land in the shape of a boot at the very tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, winter residents 3000, summer residents 20,000. It doesn't get more beautiful than here. 

The first photo is of Mattie watching over her neighbors and neighborhood. She turned 2 this month,  rescued at 10 weeks from the streets of Aruba, and she's a nice dog. Every dog owner knows there are great joys and plusses in sharing life with a dog, but there is also inconvenience and sometimes guilt in leaving them behind. 

The second photo is our new deck off the kitchen. I like this picture because I think it shows my lifestyle these days. Summer is a slow-down season. For the second year, we again have access to a salt water pool one block away, and bobbing in that pool and lying in that sun is close to heaven for me. 

The third photo is a quick shot out the window of a local restaurant. It's actually a commonplace picture because almost everywhere you look you can see light bouncing off the sea.

A word about myself: I've had serious back pain for months now (actually 2-plus years) and there have been times when I couldn't bear weight, period. I can't believe I'm better now, but I am. I underwent this private pay, non-surgical, non-traditional program, 3 days a week for 5 months, run by a chiropractor, laser and other cell repair treatments, and I'm as surprised as anyone to say it's worked. I'm not ready to dance the night away but I'm walking and moving and ready to enjoy my summer.

My other big news is I've (finally) finished my second novel--a 330 page manuscript that seems promising. I've had 2 independent editors and a few friends read it and the feedback is good. This summer I'm working with one of those editors, chapter by chapter, to get the book ready to shop around. It is my fondest wish to be picked up by a publisher and in my own way enjoy even modest success. In any case, I love the process and don't mind the work. I'm rooting for myself!

I am trying extra hard to be fair and kind these days. I figure we seriously need as much of that kind of energy as each of us can muster, to offset the damage from He-who-I-refuse-to-name and other white supremacists.

I got an email from Snowbrush today, wondering if I'm okay. Thanks, Snow. For the 10th time I'm going to try to blog more regularly. I'm also on Facebook and if any one here wants us to follow one another there, I'm interested. 

Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by and thanks for everything. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Almost Spring

I've lost my touch on my blog. It's a challenge to upload photos and sometimes I can't leave comments. But finally I'm here, the charm of Spring almost here too. 

We're redesigning our outdoor space. We have a small deck off the kitchen, a large deck off the back hall, a front yard barely able to fit the raised garden bed we put in last Spring, and a side yard that will be getting a new facelift in a few weeks. Shopping for ambiance is so much fun. We found this birdhouse a few hours away from home, during one of our gallivants. We pick it up next week. To paint or not to paint? (Soft green, soft blue, a little victorian dwelling?)

The buoys are all too easy to find here in Provincetown, where water is everywhere. 

Meanwhile, our pup Mattie is suddenly skittish and still sweet and she snuggles in between us or on top of us except when she manages to spread out like this. It's good to have a dog again. My back problem has meant that JB has had to escort Mattie to the dog park and on walks but that's about to change: I'm doing much better. No more horrible pain. I'm not yet limber but I can stand and I can walk. I'm feeling pretty thankful. 

And finally, I've finished my manuscript and have sent it on to an editor for feedback. Then I start shopping it to agents and publishers. I feel really good about the story. Meanwhile JB is happily occupied in her studio. This piece is called "Orange is Scary" and on close inspection there's the unfortunate discovery of 5 photos of America's current president. 

There is little else that lifts my heart as quickly as the promise of Spring. My family's healthy, I'm on the mend, the yard awaits. When I focus locally and put aside concerns about the state of our world, I have no complaints today. I hope this is true for you too.

Monday, February 04, 2019

'Good Bones'

I can't figure out how to download my photos. So this post, written 30 minutes ago, is the best I can do. Thanks for coming by even though I'm not reliable. love, kj

I’ve been thinking about this for the last year. Sooner or later I end up writing something about how I see life. I lean on the optimistic side of things. 

Maybe not so much this time. In the last year some major events took place for me. For one, my back gave out. I saw a half dozen doctors and psyched myself for surgery. My brother died, the end of my childhood family. And I turned 71 in August. Seventy-one. That is not an age easily fudged, inside or out. 

The result of these events is that I dropped out of my cushy active confident life and stayed quietly on the couch, uncertain how I”d end up. ( I still don’t entirely know.)

Now, just a year later, to my surprise, the treatment I did to avoid surgery seems to have worked! I walked a full block this week and today I made it to the bay beach with Janet and Mattie, where before I couldn’t tolerate ten steps. I’m not a fan of exercise and I actually like time on the couch. But it’s now within my control to decide how much I help myself through movement and weight and diet and good energy.

The other major event—age 71—is something else. It’s weird to be this age. It sounds old. And based on the number of medical discussions I seem to now hear and have, ‘old’ includes more physical problems and more lost objects. (It’s okay to smile at that last point.)

I’ve worked in a number of different careers and jobs but mostly I’m a Counselor and a Writer so over the years I’ve had a lot to say about life and stress and happiness. I’ve seen people change and grow in giant ways and I’ve always felt the world is more beautiful than savage. But now, at 71, I’m less sure. 

The poet Maggie Smith wrote a poem I wish was mine. She called it “Good Bones:”

“The world is at least fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative estimate, 
Though I keep this from my children.”

It’s a great poem: worthy of googling and reading.

I’ve wondered A LOT if I agree with this. Fifty percent terrible. That’s A LOT. 

There’s also a third major and troubling awareness that’s grown quite large for me—not just my back and not just my age, but how should I name it? Trump. Incivility. Racism. Wars. Refugees. Harmed Children. And damn Cancer. 

Maybe it’s my age now, but I’m not as likely these days to jump into the big picture to change what I can. My family, my friends, my neighborhood—that’s different. In those cases I still do what I’ve always done: offer my skills, help how I can. But I’m not choosing to ‘make a mark’ anymore, at least not in the same way. That’s not to say I don’t hope to have a publisher pick up my novel-manuscript this year. But I’m increasingly comfortable enjoying the company of wonderful children and interesting adults, cooking up new recipes, reading and writing, watching Wheel of Fortune and the Great British Baking Show. I’ve begun to travel again, because I can walk again!—and I’m glad of that. But I don’t mind sticking close to home either.

So I ask myself a BIG question. DO I think the world is fifty percent terrible? 

I answer with great sadness. Yes. Yes I do. BUT:

The end of Maggie Smith’s poem is also true:

“Life is short and the world 
is at least half terrible, and for every kind stranger
there is one who would break you,’
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones. This place could be beautiful, 
right? You could make this place beautiful.”

Yes, says me. Yes We could.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Mish Mash

This image explains the weekend workshops that JB and I plan to offer here in Provincetown, once my back pain is behind me (no pun intended!) We'll combine personal growth and community and awesome food with sand and sea and dashes of creativity. When? Hopefully by next Spring.

In mid August I began a private pay non-surgical treatment plan for the two slipped bones in my back. I did this as a last ditch effort to avoid a lengthy surgery and and recovery. The treatment is laser, decompression therapy much like traction, foot vibrations, nutritional supplements, heat and ice, home machines to wake up and rebuild cells and fluid. The first nine weeks: nothing. But two weeks ago the agonizing pain I've had whenever I bore weight and tried to walk lessened considerably. Since then I definitely am improved and am increasingly hopeful. It's good news for me. I have a long way to go with weight loss and reconditioning but finally I'm looking ahead again.

What else? I'm praying for an anti-Trump election next Tuesday, if only to control his base and disgusting policies and hate filled white supremacy.  I find myself thinking that destiny's at work here; I think this because it's difficult and painful to imagine that almost 40% of Americans are either ill informed or mean spirited and most likely both. I find it all heartbreaking and shocking.

JB and I are preparing for colder weather and winter in our cozy house that we've finally finished. We now have a propane gas fireplace stove that gives such a glow. This should be the season I truly finish the edits to my manuscript and truly shop for an agent or publisher. I've been blessed with 3 readers who have helped me so much with their feedback and corrections. 

Finally, I'm still living day to day with my "Wait to Worry" mantra. If I have a problem that has to be faced on Monday but it's only Friday, I wait to worry. This really works! Sometimes, more often than you'd think, waiting changes the problem to the point it's not really a problem. Wait to Worry: I highly recommend it.

One more finally: if I had one extra wish, it would be that Blogging became fashionable and active again. My time here has changed my life over the last 12 years, and I miss so many old friends from our blogging days. Time for me to start posting poems again also.

with love