Category Archives: road trip

Little Life: When what you dread is exactly what you need

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Little Life: When what you dread is exactly what you need

Dinner last night was a success, although I didn’t eat much having worked myself into somewhat of a tizzy over a series of small annoyances: the kitchen was hot, the pizza dough unusually difficult to throw, and of course, these new meds.  Rick heard my huffing and puffing all the way in the living room and rushed in, his white-knight armor gleaming, offering, no, insisting on lending a hand.

The new recipe was A.O.K. for diabetics and the Classic French Salad Dressing was really good too.  I was in a mood so mostly I ate salad.

Today it’s a different kind of mood.  Rich is in the doctor’s office for his quarterly cardiac and diabetic labs, and as for me, well, I’m sitting in the car writing this blog.  Rich has already telephoned once with questions concerning signing the new HIPPA papers and which pharmacy we use.

Now he’s called twice.

old man on cell phone

This isn’t something I didn’t expect; paperwork is generally my territory; Rich hates doing it.  But this time, I begged off; I’ve spent so much time with doctors lately, I just couldn’t make myself go in.  I only came along for a free meal; we’re going to breakfast at a favorite Mom and Pop cafe when Rich finishes.  Once he clears the paperwork and medication review, I know he’ll do fine on his own without further teleconferencing.  Then I can rest.

It’s starting to rain and the wind is picking up now.  A murder of crow just descended into a groove of trees surrounding the car.  They sound like old men complaining.  Maybe I shouldn’t have said that out loud; the remark must have been offensive because two crows just pooped on the car.

pushy crow

With all this silence, my mind takes off.  If all goes well, I’ll get a couple of loads of laundry done today, and maybe pull a few weeds in the herb garden.  I’m hoping there’s fish at the market later this morning because  I have a tenative menu set in my head already, and I hate revisions!

A thousand little thoughts swirl through my brain; it’s nearly impossible to focus on any single thing anymore.  The older I get, the bigger everything seems.  It’s like climbing mountains or running against the wind, only it’s all inside my head in succcssive waves of angst and concern.  My once big life seems to have splintered into a million tiny pieces, losing itself in mediocracy, and too often I don’t know where or how to make sense of it all anymore.

But as daunting as it can be, CHANGE is in the air because we’re going home; we’re moving back to Texas.  We’ve lived in the small, sleepy town we’re headed back to, so this move will be somewhat of a repeat performance, except that this time, we are far more vulnerable than before.

Old age did not come gracefully.  It did not sweep gently around us easing us into the next phase.  For Rich and I, old age was a speeding train ramming us without explanation or apology.  It was an instant tsunami of subtraction that just kept taking assets away.  Recognizing what was happening, giving it a name, and mustering a little respect for it all, was a humbling experience that brought us to our knees.

There is no way to blithely accept this kind of sweeping change.  Fighting is useless, and  bargaining is a waste of precious time.  For all things there is a season whether you’re ready or not.

Eventually the process altered the ways Rich and I see and interact with the world.  We didn’t see that coming but as a result, we’ve down-shifted and actually began smelling the roses instead of always planting and tending more.  So far it’s working.

In the most unexpected way, I feel like someone turned off the blender and I crawled out of frappe’.  It’s time for the next party, the party attended by children and grandchildren and the timing coulndn’t coouldn’t be better for these two old folks.

Look out Texas, here we come!  Aunt Bea-Me is ditching the polyester jersey and moving toward a more casual look these days….

well not quite

well, maybe not so much

.

sweet innocence

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A New Chapter in an Old Book

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A New Chapter in an Old Book

Heelllooo!  Having circled the drain for months, I am back as strong and stubborn as a Borax and liquid Dawn resistant stained shower stall!

dirty shower stall

 

Let me start by saying I’ve absolutely NO intention of returning to health-worry purgatory ever again!  As miserable as it’s been, I must admit I have learned a great deal about myself, and others, while suspended in the goo of uncertainty amidst approximately a million gloom-and-doom predictions from a team of expert bearers of bad news. 

grim reaper

 

I won’t try to fib here; it wasn’t easy trying to find a way to turn this level of manure into something less offensive, but long story short, we did it, and almost as soon as we did, we discovered Rich DOES NOT have ALS, in spite of about a million and one contradictory diagnostic indicators, and a million and two test results supporting that miserably serious contention, and about a million and three earnest specialists working diligently to prepare us for the fact that he did.

 

And, oh by-the-way, that coronary artery of mine, the one the cardiologist punctured during a stent insertion three days before Rich’s tentative diagnosis, is healing nicely now, and every day I feel a little more like my old self, (except that now I’m living 100% in the world according to itty).

burst pipe

 

When the whole drama began I was living life through a lovely filter, and during the Four Month Wars I came to appreciate the benefits of having chosen to do so many years ago.  Throughout the ordeal, I successfully fine-tuned the comforting perimeters of my mental Mayberry existence by using the greater world’s insensitivities and arrogances that spin like tornados as motivation.

 

Surprisingly, I discovered real peace in the horrible truths that scalded Rich and I almost daily, realizing and embracing there was nothing, absolutely nothing that anyone could say that could change the time we spent together.  Whether time is spent playing or meeting the physical needs of one another, it remained time spent together.

 

There are consequences to every life lesson, and Rich and I have emerged with a short  list of Things to Do resulting from this slight twist in our path through life, (and beyond), together.

loving old couple

 

Morgan, our granddaughter who lives with us, is moving into an apartment on her university’s campus to finish her senior year, and Rich and I are down-sizing for an eminent move to Texas where our children are waiting with open arms.  Morgan will join us all later, doing her graduate work there.

 

I am so excited to get to share this new adventure with my readers!  I’m even more excited about life in general these days.  Back on the home front, Aunt-Bea-Me is comfortably sitting on half of the double recliner, rose-colored-lenses in place, the Food Network murmuring softly in the background, as she compiles a list of details necessary to pull off yet another glorious life-style change.

 

In the kitchen for tonight, a new diabetic friendly recipe for Orange Chicken!  And two loaves of wheat bread rising.

 

Lord-of-mercy, my friends, it’s good to be back.

 

happy face

 

Aunt-Bea-Me’s Pearl of the Day:  Sometimes it’s necessary to deafen your ears to the roar of the storm, and instead to appreciate the soft breeze slipping through imperfect window panes.

 

 

 

The Spooky Truth (about Getting Old)

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Rich and I recently took our first vacation since 2009; it turned out to be well worth the wait.  For a year I’ve pictured myself living in Eureka Springs, AR.  That’s about a 5 hour drive from our current home in Hot Springs.  I shared my vision with Rich, and he worked hard to make his own, but his feet are set on more solid ground than mine; I’m always in the air, floating like a balloon, drifting one way and then another, swirling in currents just for the fun of it.  I count on Rich to keep me from getting air sick.  He counts on me, to make sure he doesn’t forget how to fly.

I created our Eureka Springs fantasy life from an accumulation of stories I’d read and heard, and I loved the fact that it’s located in the beautiful Ozark mountains..  But mostly it was my own imagination that allowed me to weave an entire story line around the possibility of living in a city I knew virtually nothing about.

fairy tales 2

Eureka Springs hosts a rather large Hippie population and is literally bursting at the seams with artists and chefs, writers and philosophers, entrepreneurs and a vast representation of progressive thinkers aiming their brain power toward Green Energy.  In the story I was writing in my head, these were real pluses.  Thinking about it though, I don’t know what I was thinking; Hot Springs has its own share of the very same sort of people, but I haven’t met many of them.  Whenever we’re out, I see them milling around the historical district, visiting art galleries and antique shops and the new micro-pub that has only recently been installed in one of the old bath houses along Bath House Row.  Rich and I only live about 1/2 mile from the downtown historical district, but I don’t get out nearly as often as I sometimes think I want to.

I say it that way because whenever I have the chance to sit it out, or to dance,( hee hee), I usually choose to stay home and play by myself instead.

dirty dishes

If there was such a thing as a periodic extrovert, I may well be it.  Whenever the question of intro-verses-extrovert is asked, and it has been asked a couple of times, I find myself babbling on and on that I am an exuberant introvert.  (That’s when the crowd usually begins to disperse.)

Like everyone else in the world, I have needs….oh. do. not.get.me.started….but mostly they have to do with all this talk-talk thingy that’s bottled up inside me like a rocket waiting for liftoff.  My passions are my exhaust valves, Aunt-Bea-Me, IttyMac, poetry, and writing, to name a few.  But talk-talk has a deeper side with its need to express, to create, and to share; so I fill that endless pit bolting between projects and hobbies.

I am an extreme housewife; although not actually married to the house, I am it’s most dutiful servant and ardent admirer.  I am an extreme yard-wife as well, flitting from flower bed to flower bed in a flurry of seasonal drama.  I am the mother of a fine herbal garden family that I tend like a neurosurgeon, prodding, plumping, staking and tweaking until the mosquitoes chase me into the house.

This mania to wax and wane between either slipping into a pair of social butterfly wings and taking to the streets, or hunkering down in near apocalyptic isolation fixated on a 24/7 OCD work regiment is what happened to me after the nest emptied.  When both of my little chicks flew away to build nests of their own, a kind of madness took over, and I begin to dig dirt out of one hole to fill another, hardly noticing I had just dug a deeper hole I’d feel compelled to fill.

before the chicks left the nest

Before the chicks flew the coop

another kitchen failure

After I realized I was in an empty nest

But back to Eureka Springs…family stories have my paternal grandmother, MamaMac, back in her few days of great family wealth, visiting the Crescent Hotel and Spa with her good friend Mrs.Gooch, and Mrs. Gooch’s loyal and ever humorous chauffeur, McDuff.

fluffy old girls 1930

Off these two fluffy ladies would go, to indulge their every fantasy, even though through the years, the legend of the Crescent Hotel and Spa had had its ups and downs, eventually descending into a dark and quite horrifying state of affairs .  A snake-oil-salesman-type-fellow had purchased the establishment that had, in its prime, functioned as gathering grounds for wealthy plutocrats in need of vacations. More about the creepy guy later.

The hotel served the public in that capacity for a number of years until it fell victim to hard economical times.  At that point, the Crescent was converted into a college for women.  Eventually it, was purchased by a charlatan who invested in it with the sole intention of converting it once again.  But this conversion would have nothing to do with rest and relaxation or higher education.  Mr. Baker, the unsavory investor, turned the Crescent into a cancer-cure facility.  The man was not a doctor; he was Frankenstein.  Well, you can imagine where this story is going.  Mr. FranenBaker was a particularly cruel ghoul to many trusting, hopeful souls seeking cures for a terrible disease.  Under the watch of his most evil eyes, they suffered and died the most agonizing deaths one might imagine.

Once the nasty business of Dr.FrankenBaker had ceased, once again the Crescent fell into tragic disrepair.

Masters of the Paranormal have long studied this hotel, documenting, if one is of such a mind to believe, much supernatural activity throughout its long, carpeted halls and magnificent architecture.  Matter of fact, the Crescent is currently listed as one of the top ten most haunted hotels in the entire world.  Imagine that, wonder why.

Now why my grandmother and Mrs. Gooch would choose to spend their good money in a place like this is easily answered by the fact of the healing springs that had originally attracted those poor cancer patients to the same grounds years before.  The hotel, having been restored to its original beauty by a non-evil couple in the early 30’s, had regained its prominence in high society; thus, enter Miss Mac, Mrs.Gooch and jovial McDuff, who, of course, was relegated to the servant quarters.

When Rich and I arrived in Eureka Springs, we immediately got lost.  Then fate intervened, landing us squarely in the parking lot of my grandmother’s favorite hotel.  I took one look at the impending, rather menacing, structure with all its bad energy and cauldron of gloomy karma and summed it up, saying…

No. Way.”

crescent16blackandwhite

So off we drove to a place more suited to our less extravagant lifestyle, settling in a quirky pink motel comically named ‘The Land O’ Nod”.  I could hardly contain my laughter as we pulled into the tiny parking space directly in front of our small cabin-esque-sort-of-room, imagining my grandmother rolling over in her grave.

Wonderful things happened to us on our trip.  We loved our room, had the best service we have ever had before, ate amazing locally produced food prepared by chefs from as far away as Chicago, mingled with hippies our own age at the Farmers Market, discussed homeopathic medicine and naturopathic lifestyles with a former cardiologist turned naturopath following a heart attack, walked miles up and down hills visiting shops, (just ask my knees if you don’t believe me), took hundreds of photos, huddled with artists, debated and agreed with local politicians, had an absolutely amazing visit to the Tasting Room for Fresh Harvest where we sampled premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars until we needed to make a fairly  hasty retreat back to the Land O” Nod for emergency pit stops.

And last, but not least, we ventured into the dark night, paying 25 bucks each for the infamous Crescent Hotel and Spa Ghost Tour.

After all was said and done, in spite of all the fun we had together, in spite of the new friends we made, we looked at each other in car driving back through the Ozarks to the Ouachitas, and said unanimously,

“Naw.  That wasn’t it.”

So now we’re back where we started a year ago.. in the planning stages for retirement… but we’d better get a move on it pretty soon because in a couple of months we’ll be 65.  And though the trail ahead is getting shorter for both of us, neither is ready to exchange walking shoes for rocking chairs.