Saturday, December 26, 2015

Done Scrooging

Maybe I am not a Christmas Person.   It always ends up being a sad, or at least pensive season for me.    I am generally pretty good about letting things roll off my back, I do not usually take offense easily and I am quick to excuse people when I feel hurt.   I spend more time worrying about the feelings of others than about my own.   

But this time of year, especially the time leading up to Christmas, my feelings are easily wounded, even over things I know are silly or at least unintended.   I feel unimportant to the people in my life and, more than other times of years, it matters to me.     It's as if, instead of fairy dust, I have been sprinkled with hormones.  And trust me when I say that, at this stage of life, being sprinkled with unexpected hormones is not a good thing!   This is the time of year that, when a friend calls and invites me to 'a family thing,' I am inclined to decline, because I am not part of their family.    I feel more lonely, less worthy, less loved, than usual.      

I know it is childish.  I see it happening, but it always takes me a little time and a lot of effort to shake it off.   And this is the time of year when being a lone wolf makes me especially raw.   It is an awkward time to be the third wheel, to feel as if my forehead is stamped with red block letters saying 'reject.'   And I am finding that being old and unattached is even worse than being young and single was.    And of course, being old and single and retired just gives me more time to dwell on it it all.    

Eventually, of course, even I have to laugh at myself for being so pathetic, and my good humor does return in spite of the hurt, just because of the ridiculousness of it all.   That won't always stop the tears, but it does remind me that this will pass.   I know that I am blessed beyond reason, even if it doesn't always feel like it.

So I do the things one does when silliness overtakes us.   I try to put others first, I push myself to accept invitations and hope I won't be a wet blanket when I get there.

I baked cookies to take to my search and rescue group, to the 911 operators and to the police officers who are on duty.    (Cheat admission:   I promised myself I wouldn't eat any, but I dropped a whole tray of them on the floor when I was taking them from the oven.   I was was able to catch two of them but they broke in my hands.  Everyone knows that broken cookies don't count, so . . . . )    Even so, and despite the lack of exercise this past week, I am happy to report that my post-Christmas weight is 2 pounds less than my pre-Christmas weight was.  
And I started sewing last-minute projects with scraps and orphaned socks, hoping they would work out well enough to give as gifts but knowing that they might well end up in scrap heaven or as dog toys.   Some of them worked, some of them didn't.

And, in fact, Christmas ended up being lovely, despite my self pity.   I saw the new Star Wars with the Littles after thinking I would never see it at all, I spent Christmas Eve with precious friends, and was surrounded by people I love, and a few who love me, on Christmas.  

I hope you all had a more joyous and grown-up Christmas preparation than I did, and hope that Christmas itself exceeded your expectations!   Mine definitely did.

And by the way, the Goole-plus warnings given recently by Cat Patches are spot on -- please don't lose me in the transition, and don't let me lose you, either!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Ties That No Longer Bind

 I am retired!  Again.   It was an ordinary (gloomy) day, I saw very few people and there was no drama, but when I exited the building for the last time, there was a huge rainbow over my car.   Since money has never been my primary motivator, maybe retirement is my pot of gold.  :)  I hope so!

Now that I am a lady of leisure, I have no more excuse to not do some of the things on my endless To-Do list.   Today I cleaned out my work bag -- an item that has been on the list for nearly 5 years (don't judge me) - and tossed the bag into the pile of dirty laundry.   Laundry is clearly not on today's list.     I also answered a letter -- something that never slips far on the list since I enjoy that task -- and got an overdue blood test drawn.   I need to take out the trash before bedtime, and really, that seems like quite enough for one day.   There's no rush for the rest of it.   After all, I've only been schedule-less for half a day.  :)

Friday, December 11, 2015

No Place Like New Orleans

I've been to New Orleans lots (and lots) of times, because I have had family there, both before and after the Storm.  There are things about these trips that are difficult for me, but no question it is a place unique in my experience, and so I decided on this trip to focus on the quirks and qualities that have made memories over the years.   Here are just a few of the things I have found fun or charming or just plain New Orleans-y.

The mechanical toilet seat covers in the airport.  
     These make me smile every time I land in NOLA.  Toilet seats are covered with a sheath of clear plastic, which rotates from a fresh roll and into a trash receptacle (or so I hope) with every use.   All you need to do is wave your hand in front of the button on the wall before you sit down.   I've never seen these anywhere else, so they clearly say New Orleans to me!
     This is where I first tasted them, at the famous Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter, open (I'm told) 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.   Since my grandson was born in NOLA, I make them every year for our Christmas brunch, but I try to stop by the Cafe du Monde and order them once every trip, purely for research to be sure I'm doing it right.
 The "horse" (mule) drawn carriages.   
     These wagons line up all along Decatur in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, waiting for customers.  You need to be careful because the price you are quoted is rarely the price you will actually be charged.
     I have never ridden on the famous "Desire" streetcar, which is of course named after Desire Street, although I am told it is up and running again after a long 'down' time.   But I ride the St. Charles streetcar at least once every trip.  It is inexpensive ($1.25) and very noisy, the cars run about every 10 minutes but sometimes they get backed up and you can wait for half an hour or more, and you sit along with tourists and locals.   A definite must.
     Look closely.  Along parade routes, the trees are filled with beads from previous Mardi Gras parades.    The beads, like strings of berries, are there all year.   Once in awhile a strand will fall down on the sidewalk in front of you like ripe fruit.
Red Beans and Rice.
     This is another dish I make myself as a reminder of where my grandson was born, but I still try to order it every time I visit New Orleans.   Just because.   I've got plenty of photos of it but it isn't all that photogenic, so I'll spare you  :)
The best bread pudding in the world.
      I try to have bread pudding one time on every trip.   It is so decadent, and not at all like the bread pudding we get in the north.   Filled with butter and brown sugar and whiskey, even once a year seems like a sinful indulgence.    I know I could make it at home but I'm afraid to, because there would be no one to limit my intake.   I meant to take a photo, but the hot, sticky goodness got my spoon moving so quickly that I forgot.
Street musicians.
      Some are just okay, some are good, and some are great.   On a good trip, there are fiddles, clarinets and lots of brass.   On this trip there was all that AND a (bag)piper.  
Street sign tiles.
     I just love these.   Old ceramic tiles mark the names of many streets.  You find them at corners.
Bourbon Street.
     filled with Too Much Information about people's private lives and activities, and freely flowing booze.   The French Quarter area is the one place I know where you can buy your alcoholic beverage at a sidewalk stand and then carry your drink into every store, even "mall" type shopping areas.    I generally try to have one old traditional drink on each trip.   Last year it was bourbon and milk, this year it was a sazerac.    My sister tends to the sweeter options, like the hurricane and yellow bird.  
       So, for those of you who've never been, or those of you who have, those are the usual highlights of my NOLA adventures.   It is far from my favorite place to be, for a whole stack of reasons.   I understand its charm, but frankly, I'm glad to be home.  :)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Mother of Reinvention

 Well, November is over and December is well on its way, and I am almost ready to get out of my blue funk.   (Which reminds me, I had a teacher by that name once, Funk,  and I remember thinking that the rowdy boys at the elementary school were terrible spellers because of the way they always mis-spelled her name in graffiti on the back of the school building.     Really, so little has changed, except that I would recognize that particular 4-letter word if I saw it on a wall today . . .  but I digress.)
I'm not as young as I used to be.  November is my birthday month, and always a broody time for me.  It was even when I was young, and it certainly hasn't improved with age.    I 'celebrated' the day by giving notice at my job, a position I suspect they are as ready for me to leave as I am to leave it. 
I have such a different view of hospice than what I see happening there, and it just got harder and harder to pretend to bosses and staff that it was all just ducky.  And since I am not very good at pretending, my annoyance with it all was annoying to them.  So I am really glad to have quit, and will be happier still I expect on the 14th, which is my last day of work.   But now I face the Void of my future until I can put a new puzzle together.   Sure, I am a little worried.   I am already so lazy and reclusive by nature that it would be easy to just never get out of bed again.  But have no fear, I will reinvent my life and myself and am even looking forward to it a little.   So far all I can report is that I have reluctantly almost totally crossed "run away to alaska" off the list of possibilities.

Do you remember, by any chance, the Mothers of Invention (with Frank Zappa), an american rock group from my long ago past?   That's how you know you have joined the Truly Old, when those Truly Old things pop into your head for no apparent reason.  Anyway, if you wondered, that's where this post heading came from, that 'pop.'
Meanwhile, in between working and not working, I am going to visit my daughter for a few days next week.   I will no doubt post the usual NOLA photos while I am there, the same ones you've seen each year if you come here often, so if you want something different you should send in your requests now.

But for today,  a friend took me out to a belated birthday dinner, and I so enjoyed that, both the food and the company.     I'd been on a no-carb diet for the past few weeks, and the mexican restaurant, chips and cheese and all, was a super treat of 'forbidden' food.    I expect I will pay for it tomorrow, but I sure did enjoy it today!  :)   

I hope your week has been filled with enjoyable things, too.   It's cuddle weather here, so I am always trying to find someone to hold onto.   Thank goodness my Grands haven't learned yet how to resist me.  :)