Looking for answers to life's questions

Archive for July, 2012

In Search of My Home

Finding a place to live shouldn’t be so difficult, should it? It’s not like I’m asking for a mansion. I just want a small cottage with a front porch so I can meet my neighbors. They have to be nice and not let their dogs bark from 3:00 a.m. until 5:00 a.m. It has several fruit and nut trees in the yard as well as vegetable, flower and herb gardens. The cottage in my mind is a two story place. It has a workshop attached for all my sewing and crafts. That way no one can see my mess while I create. The most important room in the house by far is the library. I can use either the living room or the kitchen for that purpose. The only reason I have a kitchen is because it comes with the house anyway. I am not a good cook.

I can’t buy a place right now. I still own one with my ex-husband and it just will not sell. It’s overpriced and no one can convince him to lower the price to selling status. The realtor and I both tried. That means we’d all get less money but let’s be realistic here. In certain areas, the market is still not rebounding. Our little town is one of those areas. So the cottage of my dreams is still on hold.

My other option is to rent. Rental homes are more expensive than apartments. On my tiny budget that means I look at apartments. After making the list of what is imperative in an apartment, I found the complex I wanted to check out. It was across the street from the community college, had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and in-unit laundry. They had on premises garages to rent for all my extra stuff, an exercise room as well as covered parking. On top of that, it’s within walking distance to a quilt store, restaurant and grocery. It couldn’t get much better than that. My sister finally had time to check them out for me as I’m a thousand miles away. She gave it two thumbs up. So I called to find out the criteria for qualifying.

That was in April. I was a little short on the required income at the time. When I finally got the income up to their standards, I checked again. The rent had gone up. Yes, they can do that in Oregon. I’ve been to complexes when my sister was looking for an apartment that changed the rates day by day depending on demand. They have us by the shirt tails. We all need a place to live and my standards are way up there.

I finally figured out how to meet the income requirements and called again to reserve a unit at my arrival date. Now there are none available. I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall and it’s starting to hurt. There are plenty of other places to look at but this one seemed perfect for me. What’s an old woman to do?

I guess we wing it. I’ll trust that there is a plan I know nothing about in play here and go on faith that something pops loose. Maybe I’ll see that cottage and it will be for rent really cheap. No, I’m not awake yet. Let me dream a little longer, please.

All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

From my heart to yours,

In Search of Leo’s Market

Last week in writing class we were asked to write a childhood memory. Easy enough it would seem. I kept trying to think of a funny memory, but I was a very serious small person.

The first memory that popped into my head was when I was 5 years old. We lived over Leo’s Market. It was my first American home and where I first met the rest of my American family. It was there I learned to use the English I understood but never spoke and where my sister was born. My mother essentially brought home my first child. I doted on her. Changing, feeding and entertaining her were my favorite things to do when I wasn’t at kindergarten.

I wanted background for the story. Starting a search on the internet for where we lived at the time, I’d come up empty without an exact address. You have to understand I’ve moved well over 30 times and most of the moves were before I was 30. It’s hard for me to remember all those addresses.

I went to the only person I thought might still have that information, my dad’s youngest sister. She is older than me by a year and a half. Though our communication is sporadic, she is the one family member I kept in touch with regularly. So I sent an e-mail and prayed she would read it. She isn’t fond of technology. Computers are not her friend, but she does have a cell phone. I didn’t hear from her in time to write my story for class so I had to come up with some other adventure.

My interest was still piqued and when she called me one morning I was pleasantly surprised. She told me her daughter help send a return e-mail with the address I wanted. After a long catching up chat, I finished my planting and other chores before finally getting to my laptop.

That’s when the fun really began. With the address pasted onto Google, I was able to find where her home had once been. It’s now a vacant lot. How sad that was for me. I wanted to see where my American grandparents had once lived because my young memory had not stored it well. As the Google map turned the corner, there it was! Unmistakable even in its current condition stood the two-story brick building that had once been Leo’s Market in Kansas City, Missouri. We lived upstairs on the side with a porch that often held my sister in her carriage, getting fresh air.

As my son showed me how to navigate the toggles, I got a clear view of the apartment and saved the image. Leo’s is now a bakery with writing underneath the sign in a foreign language that I cannot read. The magic that was once Leo’s Market where I could go alone and pick up things for my mother, getting free penny candy just for my smile is no longer there. Leo and his wife were kind to us in spite of our language barrier. Now I have an actual photo of an indelible memory. What a treasure that is for my sister and me!

The memory and the photo are only part of the prize. The other part was for me, the success of the hunt. When I talked to my aunt, she lamented about her lack of computer skills and stated that she was too old to learn anything new. I have heard that so often from my generation. Baby boomers have seen more changes in the world than most generations before them. We are responsible for so many of the wonderful things that have made our lives so technologically helpful. How can we be too old to learn? I learned something new yesterday and today and plan to learn something new tomorrow.

I like to ask dumb questions. I learned to use the “Paint” program while editing the photo to send to my sister so she could see where she was born. Last night my son walked me through how to copy VHS to DVD on a machine I bought. Now I can do it on my own. I have a huge box full of old family movies to get copied when I finally get my own place. I love technology almost as much as I love words. Though I still keep a handwritten journal and the notebook that lives in my bed, I truly am grateful that I can sit in my living room, find my old homestead that is a thousand miles away and write a story about it on my laptop. Can it get any better than that?

My own baby sister has ADHD and sitting at the computer trying to understand the workings is so very hard for her. I’m sure part of the problem is she doesn’t have my wonderful, geeky kids to keep her on her toes. Our mother went through computers like most kids go through shoes. Bigger, better and faster was her motto.

There are other things to be good at and not everyone needs to be computer savvy but it sure makes things interesting. Dad was only interested in the mechanical end of things. I still don’t think anyone is too old to learn something new. What’s your take on that?

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

From my heart to yours,

Once upon a time this was Leo’s Market


In Search of an End to the Rabbit Hole

Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get out!! I had no idea there was a magical rabbit hole here in cyber space. I’m an old woman and I should have zero interest in all things computer, but my word, there is so much wonderful stuff here.

I sent my sister-in-law, (late first ex-husband’s sister) who I adore because she makes me laugh, a reprimand. How dare she post all this interesting stuff on Facebook from a site called Pinterest. It took me a couple weeks to figure out how it worked but as I said earlier this week, I’m tenacious if nothing else. Now I almost have the hang of it and there are five or six tabs open at once to see all the sites each person has set up. I am so hooked. It’s been like an explosion of fireworks in my laptop.

I’ve had way too much time on my hand this week and couldn’t do much writing because the antibiotics and pain meds made me stupid. Don’t say it, that’s not being nice! Who ever heard of a stone in a saliva gland and it’s on the Bells Palsy side. It’s adding insult to injury. Not only does that side of my face not move, it looks as though it has the mumps on that side. So that set me down for a while and the rabbit hole ride began.

Pinterest is like doing a vision board on your computer and instead of having to cut up hoards of magazines, you just borrow pictures from other Pinterest users. Not sure how they got the pictures there in the first place. That’s the next challenge. I’m not the only one out there that likes the Country Cottage look or tea cups and accessories. There are others with the same fascination for Crazy Quilting though I have yet to finish my first one. It’s in storage with all my sewing and crafting materials waiting on me to be well enough to get back to it.

I can look at all kinds of quotes and cards and crafting ideas as well as fashion, decorating, gardening and the list goes on. I can list my all-time favorite movies and books. I found out about some I had not heard of like a book on blogging techniques. I posted my favorite animal rescue website there so more people can see it, hopefully feeding more shelter animals. If you can imagine it, someone has a picture to pin. The categories are endless.

There are even more blog sites there for me to look up. Not that I haven’t run down the rabbit hole with that one already. A blogger comments on my blog so I go read theirs and am fascinated enough to follow their blog and they recommend others. Next thing I know I’ve been sitting at the computer for 3 or 4 hours reading all this stuff with 15 tabs open on my browser. I have learned more in the past few months than in the past 10 years. I have to admit, I’m never bored.

Truthfully though, I would like to meet all these interesting people in person and have a conversation about all the things we are mutually interested in. I have been grateful to have my computer while I recover (and I will, contrary to what the doctor I saw last week said) but I miss human interaction. Bells Palsy, divorce and 4 moves in the last 2 ½ years have made my world considerably smaller. Writing class was a great start at enlarging it and soon I’ll be well enough to take on more classes so I can have more conversations. I hope to meet you on Pinterest someday and we can share our vision boards. I’m curious. What sends you down a rabbit hole?

Happy virtual vision boarding.

From my heart to yours,

In Search of a Successful Relationship

In our writing class at the Santa Clarita Senior Center we were given a homework assignment for the week. I did wait till I was completely out of earshot before bursting into belly busting laughter. The assignment was to share any secrets we had for successful relationships. I have this one aced! Not.

I thought I knew a lot about relationships and how to make them work. My longest relationship so far is with my sister. She’s 5 years younger and we are still speaking to each other. Then there are my two adult children from my first marriage. We are still speaking to each other as well. That’s the extent of my success.

My first marriage existed for 18 years. The second for 24 years by the time the divorce was final. I’m tenacious if nothing else. I will beat that dead horse to the finish line even if it almost kills me. My kids and my sister let me know it was time to let that horse rest in peace. I’ve decided that I have no skills for marriage. My son said it was because I didn’t date much. You could count all my dates in my life on one hand without the thumb. My life partners lived across the street. I’m not kidding. I didn’t have time for dating. Getting married wasn’t on my list of things to do either but I’m a sucker for coercion. The last one got me with the health insurance for my daughter.

Both were good men and I learned a great deal by having them in my life. We were good together for a time. The hard lesson was we were each partly responsible for the dissolution of our relationship. Takes a great deal of growing up to realize it wasn’t entirely his fault. Life was so much easier when I could blame them. I wasn’t ready either time and knew it. I just didn’t hold my ground. Boundaries, what boundaries? Why do important things sometimes take so long to learn?

We didn’t learn the important lessons in our family of origin. You know that post war generation. Kids should not be seen or heard and when you are 18, pack your bags and stand on your own. So glad that’s changing … some.

So what do I know now about a successful relationship? I’m pretty sure it starts with self-respect which in turn leads to respect of others and having them treat you with respect. Respect hears fully and completely what the other person is saying. Self-respect expects to be heard. Respect is faithful and kind. Self-respect expects fidelity and kindness. It pretty much seems to start with how you are treated early on by your parents. Unfortunately, very often, they didn’t have that kind of self-respect either and you can’t give what you don’t have. Somehow, I found just enough to give my kids a slightly better chance. They buried that dead horse a lot sooner.

I’m not planning on marrying again but I am hoping to have good long term relationships with new friends once I finally have a home somewhere. It can’t be soon enough but life has its own schedule. This moving business is getting as old as I am.

I need all the help I can get on relationships. Maybe I’ll learn some new things in writing class from the others but would love to hear what you think makes a successful relationship.

A loving relationship is one in which the loved one is free to be himself — to laugh with me, but never at me; to cry with me, but never because of me; to love life, to love himself, to love being loved. Such a relationship is based upon freedom and can never grow in a jealous heart. ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

From my heart to yours,

In Search of Independence

Happy 4th of July everyone!! Some of you are celebrating more than others. I have a brother who celebrates the 4th like most do Christmas. This year it will be toned down a great deal as the heat and lack of rain have created less than ideal conditions for the usual extravaganza. I think he celebrates everything in a big way. I really hope that never changes for him. We should all celebrate life big.

For me, Independence Day has become another holiday with mixed feelings. I love the idea that the whole country celebrates this day no matter what religion, race or country of origin. We all want to see the fireworks and have that picnic.

Twenty five years ago on the 4th of July, I gave up the independence that I had struggled so hard to win by marrying again at 1:00 a.m. in Las Vegas. He had the day off and said he wouldn’t forget the anniversary. I had a weak moment. I knew better before the “I do’s” were done. Every year after on Independence Day I thought about what I had given up out of fear.

Women (by no means all) at least more so from my generation, seem to be more vulnerable to the fears that being independent can bring. So many of us were ill equipped to be single parents, much less self-supporting. I’m so glad to see that changing in the next generation but there are still so many out there that have such a long way to go.

There is a fine line, a very fine line between the interdependence necessary to live a full and complete life and dependence that virtually eliminates any possibility of independence. Staying on the best side of that line is a tricky feat indeed.

We as a nation are struggling with that same fine line. Many of us have been willing to give up our independence for the appearance of safety and security. Fear pervades the very essence of our being. We are afraid of not having enough. We are afraid to walk our streets and afraid to take them back. We are afraid of getting sick and not having health care. I think we have been deliberately been fed a diet of fear. It’s worked for now but I see the tide turning.

In my own case, I have faced my greatest fears. I am technically homeless. Living with family members for the last 18 months has not been my ideal nor theirs. I am adjusting my frame of reference as to what independence looks like. Depending on public transportation is what most of the world does and it’s working for me. I can drive some now though still preferring not to. I have no health insurance and probably will not have it again. The system feeds on illness. I want a system that supports wellness. So if I need a doctor, I will pay cash. If I can’t, well, I know the consequences. Most of the people I know who are my age are chained to several medications regularly. I take vitamins, nothing more and each day I’m seeing more wellness.

As a nation and a global community, we need each other but we should never have to be in fear of one another. I’d like to celebrate this vast melting pot of differences melded into the unity of one grand independent group.
I am independent because I am no longer ruled by fear, my greatest captor. I am interdependent because I need you in my life to make it joyful. With deep gratitude I thank all of who have gone before to set the example and gave the ultimate gift so I could have this experience.

Have a wonderful 4th

I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery.

~Author Unknown

From my heart to yours,