Monday, August 31, 2009

Good-bye and good riddance August 2009!

This has been an incredibly sucktastic (as James would say) month and I am not the least bit sorry to see it go, other than the nice weather, it being light out until bedtime, and not having to dodge school children on my way to work in the morning.

I hit the 18 month mark of James' passing on the 6th and I have done a lot of grieving since then. This is the first month since he died I have not been constantly on the go and I do believe that because I have been keeping myself so busy for the last year and a half, I have shoved down some of my grieving instead of dealing with it head on and now I am doing just that. While it is difficult, I know it is something I need to work through now so it doesn't come back to bite me in the rear later.

On top of that, I had the incident with the doctor's visits and the late Friday afternoon call I had to wait all weekend to return. That turned out well, but it was still nerve-wracking to wait it out. I am having a hard time knowing that I have something inside of me (fibroid) that is most likely growing and could lead to problems down the road.

My friend discovered a lump in her neck about this time and the doctor found masses in two lymph nodes. Fortunately, the biopsy turned out to be benign and I felt like I lost 20 pounds when she told me. Another good friend had a biopsy done and was diagnosed as being in the very, very early stages of skin cancer. Luckily, she went in when she did as it was caught so early it is not even rated as stage 1.

In between all this, I had two incidents with Charlie. The first was when he threw up 3 times one night between 11:00 and 1:15 am. He seemed fine when I got up so I went to work, only to come home and find he had thrown up 9 times while I was at work. Since we already had an appointment for his and Sammy's ear infections, I discussed this with the vet as well. Blood tests came back normal, but he could not keep anything down for almost 2 days and had to go on a special diet for 2 weeks, and take antibiotics and anti-nausea medication. He got over that and we found ourselves back at the vet's office last Tuesday at 10:00 pm because his heart was racing and he seemed to be having a hard time breathing. He was diagnosed with having an abnormal arrhythmia, meaning there is no rhyme or reason to it and nothing that can be done for him other than monitoring it. But I had to face a very hard reality that I have been trying so hard to deny: my little guys are not puppies anymore.

Then there was dealing with the whole dying/dead possum in the front yard. That was more of an inconvenience than anything.

Today, I sat here crying because I want to return my friend's tent in the same condition I borrowed it in, which meant setting it up in the yard so I could clean it up. I couldn't do it-it's too big for me to do alone and I finally had to go ask the neighbor to come help me. I hate feeling that helpless, especially over something so stupid.

Other than the tent, I have dealt with all of these things alone. There is no one here to comfort me, to give me a hug, or to reassure me everything will be okay. There is no one here to discuss the "what ifs"-there is no one here to help me formulate a game plan. My family does not live here; nor do my in-laws. It is just me. My friends are wonderful, but they have their own lives and issues and I feel I can't burden them with my every little issue-that is what my partner was for and now that he is gone, I feel I should deal with everything alone. Because that is what I am now-alone and that is what I need to get used to. I need to get used to dealing with everything on my own and doing it in a way that it doesn't overwhelm me because the bottom line is this month has me feeling so overwhelmed, I can barely see straight.

So, I am not sorry to see this month go and I vow that next month will be better.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Girl vs. Wilderness

This weekend, I did something I have not done since I was a teenager: I went camping. Back in June, our best friends reserved several spots at Lake Sylvia, a state park about 2 1/2 hours northwest of here. When it first came up, I declined the invitation. For the most part, I don't have my own camping equipment and I didn't want to be the only single person there. But last month when a couple backed out and a spot became available, I agreed to take it. I keep saying I want to try more outdoorsy stuff, and I didn't want my friends to have to eat what they had paid for the spot.

So last Sunday afternoon I went over to my friend's house to pick up his tent. He also sent me home with two solar powered flash lights, two air mattresses, a camp table, a cooler, two OJ container ice blocks and a 6-pack of beer. He tried to send me home with a head lamp, walking sticks, a hatchet, his hat and his portable GPS unit, but I was a little overwhelmed and decided I didn't need those things. In hindsight, the head lamp actually would have made it easier to unzip the tent at night. And, I begrudgingly admit the GPS unit would have come in handy this morning, but luckily, I seem to have this innate ability to get exactly where I need to be despite having no clue where in the heck I am. It really is a gift.

Friday afternoon, I met my friend and 4 others at her house to follow them up there. I had been having reservations about going and almost bailed at the last minute. Camping is something I never got to enjoy with James. We agreed that we would start getting "stuff" after the wedding, which of course, never happened. This is an annual camping trip and this is the first year we would have gone. This ended up being something I did as part of my new life and I have not yet gotten to the point where I can do these new Heather things without sadness and a lot of tears.

A couple of odd things happened on the way out. As I was leaving my house, I was already frustrated because I was running late. When I backed out of the garage, the commercials were just ending and the song "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" came on the radio. This was James' favorite karaoke song and one I have not heard in quite some time. Then, we were caravanning to the freeway and I got stopped at a light. I do not know how to get to the freeway from my friends' house. I just wanted to cry and turn around and go home when I spotted a car crossing the intersection. It was the same kind of car James had when we met and the man driving it looked so much like him, I almost followed him. The final odd thing was when we got off I-5 and turned on to US-12, a car got between my friend and I. I had been thinking about how overwhelmed I have been feeling lately and I noticed the bumper sticker on the car in front of me said "Got hope?" (No, not really, but thanks for asking). These things made me feel I was on the right track. As we got closer to the campground, I heard James' words in my head: "if you don't have any fun, you have no one to blame but yourself."

It started to rain right as we got there. Another couple of our friends were already there, and by the time everyone got there, we had a group of 13 people spread over 5 campsites. It poured all Friday evening and night, finally stopping around 8:00 Saturday morning. I wonder if my friend knows his tent is NOT meant for that type of rain? At least only the foot end of my bedding was wet-others were not so lucky!

After the rain stopped, a couple of us decided to walk the 4.5 mile trail around the lake. That was a good workout! Saturday afternoon, us girls watched "Twilight" on a portable DVD player while the guys fished and cooked the meat for our potluck. We had so much to eat that we pretty much went into food comas after that and just chilled by the fire until bed, which was thankfully a lot drier. About 4:00 am, I stumbled out of my tent to go to the bathroom, and I discovered a huge branch had fallen from the tree behind my and the neighbors' tents. If it had fallen the other way, it would have landed on us. How I slept through that falling is beyond me! Another sign that I do have angels watching over me!

This morning we got up, packed up and came home and I cried a good part of the drive. I realized a couple of things: I don't really know how to be happy on my own because I never have been truly happy on my own (of course, this stems from my childhood, blah, blah, blah). And, I realized that as much as I love our friends, it is hard for me to do things like this with them because while they miss James, they are no longer actively grieving him-they have moved on, and I have not. Being with them reminds me so much of him because he is the reason I know them in the first place and I want the assurances they miss him too, even though I know they do. I do feel blessed though that they have embraced me tighter instead of shutting me out now that I am no longer part of a couple like the friends of so many young widows do. And it turned out I was not the only single person there. There were two others which worked out well for us as we snagged the biggest campsite.

I am glad I went. Overall, I did have a good time. It was so peaceful to be out in the woods and it felt good to get away for a couple of days. Although, I do wonder how many showers it is going to take before my hair no longer smells like smoke. I also wonder if I went into a male dominated place smelling like campfire how many guys would hit on me. This is the NW after all, and 98% of men whose online profiles I have read say they like to camp. Even my friend who lent me everything was so excited about me going camping he eventually stopped listening to what I said I did and didn't need. This became apparent when he asked if I needed a hatchet and I said dryly that I might need it to hack everyone up while they were sleeping and his response was "Great! Let's find you the hatchet." The only thing I hacked up with a hatchet-not his-was my finger. After that, my friends' neighbor realized I am not actually allowed to play with sharp objects, even if I am using them as a hammer and took the hatchet away. Knowing myself as well as I do, I did have the sense to pack Band-Aids. I just thought it would take longer than 1/2 hour before I needed one.

Now I need to start collecting my own gear for next year, when hopefully, I am not a single camper.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ten Years Ago

For most of our relationship, money was tight. We were living paycheck to paycheck with little extra and were up to our eyeballs in debt. We were eventually able to get to a position where we were comfortable although we still had to be careful. I told James the last thing I wanted was to end up back in a position where we were living paycheck to paycheck. He said we would be fine. We were older, wiser, had better paying jobs; that those days were a thing of the past. Not long after that conversation, he died.

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about a lot of different things all relating to various aspects of life: where it was, where it is and most importantly, where I would like it to go. Earlier today, I was thinking about where my life was 10 years ago.

I was living in a decent sized 1 bedroom apartment in Portland that had a thermostat that read 80 no matter how hot or cold it really was. I was living a couple of miles from work, working from 7:00-4:00. I could leave home at 6:45 and skate in just as the time clock hit 7:00. I was living paycheck to paycheck and the credit card debt was starting to mount as I had pay periods where I couldn't even afford groceries.

I had a couple of great friends I hung out with regularly, but didn't have any single girl friends to pal around with. I was just starting to get into volunteering as a way to get out of the house and meet people. I tried online dating, but was getting nowhere. I was very lonely and miserable and was convinced I would never meet anyone-that I was destined to be alone.

A few months later, I met James and everything changed. I had the good life for just over 8 years. And then, in a split-second, it was ripped away from me. From us both.

And now I sit here almost 19 months after that horrible night and I am living paycheck to paycheck and the credit card debt is starting to mount because I have pay periods where I can't quite make it stretch far enough. I live 4.5 miles from work and work from 7:00-4:00. I leave my house at 6:45 and I skate in right as the time clock hits 7:00. I have a couple of great friends I hang out with when their family lives allow it, but don't have any single girl friends to pal around with. I volunteer regularly as a way to get out of the house and meet people. I have also joined several meetup groups, which wasn't an option the first time around. I have been trying online dating; I am getting nowhere with it. I am lonely and miserable and reliving a life I hated just a decade ago, the only differences being that I have a mortgage instead of rent, two dogs who are the center of my universe and a lot more stuff. And now that I know how good life can be, I hate this one even more. I want the good life back.

I am starting to think that I am not going to get a second chance at happiness-that my life with James was a cosmic "whoops!" and this is the life I was supposed to have all along; that I am destined to be alone, or that this will prove to be a cycle that will continue to repeat itself.

I am not cut out for this life. I want-I need more. But I don't know how to make that happen. I really feel like I am trying. I don't know what else to do. And I sure as hell don't know how to learn to accept and be happy with a life I despise.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Heather the handy(wo)man

Last night I had one of those moments that made me feel perhaps someone is looking out for me after all.

My bedroom has a pitched ceiling. There is a smoke alarm on the pitch and I have been dreading the day the battery in it dies as I know that I am going to have to drag the 300 lb ladder up the stairs by myself, figure out how to set it up, and then actually climb up it to reach the stupid thing. The ladder is one of those that can bend in about 50 directions and as I found out when I went to put up the Christmas lights, it is not very cooperative. And I don't like being up on ladders. So, last night around 8:30, when I heard the obnoxious beep coming from the bedroom, I thought the time had come.

I happened to glance at the keypad for the alarm system and saw it had extra words on it. Turns out the beeping was a low battery warning and I needed to call the security company. I feel someone was watching over me because if the alarm panel had started beeping in the middle of the night, it would have scared the crap out of me and even after figuring out the problem, I would not have been able to go back to sleep.

As I dialed the 1-800 number I had a moment of panic-what if this isn't a 24-hour line and I have to listen to that damn thing beep every 10 seconds all night? Luckily, it was a 24-hour line and he told me how to make the beeping stop. He said that for $50 they could come change the battery or he could e-mail me the instructions and I could do it myself for about $25. Hmm, there's a no-brainer.

So today after work, I headed to Radio Shack with my 4 pages of instructions on how to change the battery. I made the poor kid feel bad. I told him what I needed and he showed me where they were and helped me find the right one. I went to grab one and he said he would carry it for me because it was kind of heavy. I am guessing this was his polite way of saying customers are not allowed to touch unpaid merchandise. I said I was going to be the one changing it so I was going to have to get used to it anyway. He innocently said "Oh, your husband isn't going to change it for you?"

"My husband's dead. He doesn't do much of anything these days," I announced loudly enough for the entire store to hear. The poor kid felt bad. He apologized for my loss and for insulting me. That's a new one. I told him not to sweat it-he had no way of knowing. He apologized again and asked if he could ask what happened if it wasnt' too personal. I find it interesting that men want to know what happened and women want to change the subject. I told him it was a heart attack due to an undiagnosed heart condition. I had been digging my wallet out of my purse and happened to glance up and see his name was James. I was fine up until this point. When I saw his name, I had to fight back the tears and the lump in my throat.

I got home and went through the step-by-step directions for changing the battery. Why they had to make that 4 pages is beyond me. The battery is changed; the system has been tested and all is well. It took me all of 5 minutes to change the battery. I can't believe the security company wanted to charge me $50 for that. It took me longer to find the little book to test the system than it did to change the battery. Normally, I test the system by accidentally setting it to "instant" and opening the door.

I have to admit it is somewhat empowering to do these things for myself, although in this case, a trained monkey could have handled the task. And I am grateful to my Security Alarm Angel for making it so it started beeping while I was still awake.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hi, my name's Heather and I'm addicted to the Internet

I thought it was bad a week ago Friday when I came home to a message from the doctor's office and had to wait all weekend to call them back.

Then I came home from work this past Friday to discover I could not open any websites. I did the ipconfig /release and renew thing and saw I had an IP address. I tried to get online again and still could not. So, I reset the modem. Still nothing. I called Comcast. Twenty-six minutes later, Comcast Guy told me without a shadow of a doubt there was nothing wrong with my connection. That was a bit of a bummer for three reasons: first, he couldn't fix it. Second, I couldn't pitch a fit and demand a credit for not having service. And finally, James was my computer fixer.

My next call was to James' cousin. Her husband built the computer so I figured he might know a thing or two about fixing them. We went through some tests and determined, again, I did not have a hardware problem. So, I called the Geek Squad and impressed them with my knowledge of what wasn't wrong with the computer. After going over all my options, I decided it would be best for me to just take it in. After all, I couldnt' sit around and wait for them to come out and fix it some time this week since I couldn't log in to work from home. After my volunteer shift on Saturday, I dropped it off and sure enough, it had a nasty virus, which luckily, they could fix. They said it could take until Tuesday. Tuesday?! I was supposed to be cut off from the world for 4 whole days?! Oh the horror.

This got me thinking about how reliant we have become on computers. I had not yet Mapquested (is that even a word?) the directions to my volunteer project for Saturday. I planned to do that Friday night. Luckily, I had looked up the farmer's market where it was taking place so I had a rough idea of where it was and how to get there-from home. Problem was, I needed to get there from my chiropractor's office, which is on the other side of town and right off the freeway I don't usually take. Luckily again, I was volunteering with my good friend who was able to redirect me when I went too far north. (And this is why my friend tells me I need a GPS pretty much every time he sees me).

I had to use my cell phone to RSVP for bunco as I needed to do that by Sunday so the hostess could look for substitute players if needed. The hostess is a new permanent player to our group and I don't know her phone number and it is not listed.

I could not reply to Hands on Portland that I can't be a volunteer leader on 9/11 because I have to work and I learned from trying to RSVP for bunco that trying to e-mail from my phone is a real pain in the ass.

I could not check on the message groups I belong to when I was bored. Nor could I read the blogs I follow.

I could not look at and play with the pictures I took of the strawberries and flowers I bought at the farmer's market.

I could not start researching where my meetup group should have dinner next month.

I could not download the list of songs I e-mailed myself from iTunes. (And now my computer can't remember where most of my iTunes and Windows Media Player songs are stored).

I realized that I spend too much time on the computer and I really do need to get out more. I decided I would look into even more meetup groups than the 10 or so I am already in. And then I remembered: you need a computer for that.

It scares me how much we have come to rely on technology and how lost we are without it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The kick in the pants I needed

I have been thinking lately that I need to start exercising and eating better. I haven't been taking good care of myself because I just haven't cared to. James is gone and while I don't have a death wish, I don't really have much of a will to live either if it means spending the rest of my life alone and with the pain of missing him. As a result of this, my serotonin levels are almost non-existent. I have no energy and my emotional state has been very low and continues to drop.

I know I need to make this change. My therapist and I discussed it on Monday. She suggested I join the YMCA. I think that is a good idea if I can afford it. I drive by it every day on my way to and from work so I would have no excuse not to go. It would help my mood and my overall health considerably. The pains in my side would subside. I know I need to do something but still am having a hard time with that last push of motivation. (The extreme heat is not helping matters!)

I got that today in the mail. I had two things from the doctor's office. I figured it was my little post card from my ultrasound and pap and the pamphlet they said they would send about fibroid tumors.

It was the pamphlet and the results of my glucose and cholesterol tests. I was expecting my cholesterol to be high and my glucose to be fine. I figured my high cholesterol would motivate me to take better care of myself. Last year, my cholesterol was 218. This year, it is 197. Woo-hoo!! Bacon cheeseburger, here I come!!

My glucose is fine too. The upper end of the normal range is 99 mg. Mine is 99. You would think that would be a relief and it is and it isn't. Yes, it is normal-barely. One more mg and I would be considered pre-diabetic.

I am 35. When my dad was 35, he was as healthy as a horse. He did not develop diabetes until he was in his 40's. He died when he was 53.

I don't want that to be me. And it very easily could be if I don't start making some changes now. Even though the results are normal, this scares me. This scares me so much more than the thought they could be wrong about the tumor being a fibroid when it is really cancerous. And that fear is just the kick I needed to get my butt in gear.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

If I ruled the world

Every now and then a situation comes up in which I think about how different things would be if I ruled the world. Usually, this happens when my friend and I have volunteered together and are not happy with how the project was run. As we leave, we discuss all the ways we would have made it better and give the organization a strike. Two strikes and they are out. Yes, we are volunteer snobs. And we are okay that.

Then there are the times when I fly solo when it comes to ruling the world. This is one of those times. If I ruled the world, chocolate would be a major food group. Izzy would have been killed off of Grey's Anatomy, not George. And if I ruled the world, doctor's offices would NOT be allowed to leave messages on a Friday afternoon.

Last Tuesday, I went in for my routine yearly exam. Only this time it wasn't quite routine as Dr. M. decided that I needed to have an ultrasound and it needed to be done in the next two weeks. This was due to some nasty pains I have been experiencing during "that time"-basically, feeling like I am being stabbed in the right ovary with a very hot, very sharp knife, which makes me want to rip them both out and sell them on eBay (it's not like I'm using them for anything), which apparently you can't actually do. Well, no one currently is anyway-I checked. In addition to that, she couldn't get a good exam on the little sucker.

Luckily for me, I was able to get an appointment the next day. Goody. I was not looking forward to drinking 50 bazillion gallons of water and then having someone press on my bladder. I even tried to find a loophole to get out of the water drinking, but was shot down (boo!). So, I drank my 2 bottles of water, declared myself the water chugging champion, and then threw up a good portion of it. (I'm pretty sure that means I have to relinquish my title). Naturally, I did this at work. Fortunately, there were no witnesses (the pie eating contest scene from "Stand by Me" is coming to mind).

I got to the clinic and was asked if I drank all my water. "Yes I did." It's not my fault she didn't ask if I kept it all down. Naturally, they were running 20 minutes late for my appointment, which I guess was my punishment for not being forthcoming about the water. Anyway, the image taker did her thing, verified with the radiologist that she took enough pictures and sent me on my merry way, telling me my doctor would have the results the next day.

Before I left my initial appointment, Dr. M. said not to panic if I get a call from her. Sometimes, they just have to explain something, she said. If all is well, I would get a little postcard. We have caller ID at work, and knowing she was getting the results on Thursday, my heart skipped and I quickly glanced at the number whenever the phone rang. At the end of the day, no one from the clinic called and life was good (except for the whole dead possum in my yard situation).

Friday, on my way to work, I stopped at the lab to have my blood drawn for diabetes and cholesterol tests, which are standard tests for me. Once again, I spent the day with my heart skipping a beat every time the phone rang at work. And at the end of the day, I was in the clear. No news is good news-my post card is in the mail! Woo-hoo!

And then I got home. And I heard the answering machine beeping. And I checked the Caller ID. And it was the clinic, asking me to call them before 5:00. And it was 5:11. If I hadn't gone into work late because of going to the lab, I wouldn't have stayed late and I would have been home in time to call them back. But no, I had to wait until Monday. Two whole days to speculate as to what they found. Dr. M. said they would just send a post card if everything was normal, after all.

"The voice was cheery," I thought. "Cheery voices don't deliver bad news."

"You're fine." Inner Voice told me. "It could be any number of things. If it was urgent, they would have called you at work, like they did the other day when they wanted you to recheck your blood pressure."

I tried not to think about it. I tried to think of other things, but it kept creeping back. "Do I have ovarian cancer? No one has died or gotten sick yet this year. Everyone will be relieved it's not their turn yet."

"You're not dying," Inner Voice said.

"Why did the image taker ask how long I have been experiencing the pains when she was listening to the blood flow to my ovaries? Why was the right so much louder than the left? Who is going to take care of my dogs? If I die, I will get to be with James again and won't have to live with the pain of missing him anymore, but what will happen to our boys?"

"Nothing is going to happen to the boys because you are fine."

I caught my brother on Facebook. He told me I was fine-that I was always fine-and never to say ovaries again. Then he stopped speaking to me. My brother is pretty sure I am a hypochondriac. I am not a hypochondriac. I am a pessimistic worry-wort.

Saturday, I did a volunteer project that kept me occupied for several hours. Then I went to the 1860's re-enactment baseball game and that kept me occupied for awhile. Sunday, I did a 5-mile hike, most of which I walked alone, with evil thoughts creeping back into my head.

Sunday afternoon, I had too much time on my hands and all I could think about was what the doctor's office was calling about. I looked at my dogs and started to cry. "Oh, for the love of God. You are NOT dying." Apparently, Inner Voice has a bitchy side. She obviously is not getting enough chocolate.

I planned to call the doctor the minute the office opened at 8:00 on Monday morning. However, I was decorating my boss's office for his 50th birthday at that time while he was at the post office because someone decided to come in early to check all the mouse traps that another someone insisted be set because she is tired of finding "presents" on her desk every freakin' morning. (Note to Universe: I am so done with rodents). So I called at 8:15.

I should really listen to Inner Voice, even when she is being mean and yelling at me. My ultrasound and pap were normal, but they did find a 2 mm fibroid tumor, which I was assured is a non-cancerous fibroid and not a "bad" tumor. I have done a lot of research on fibroids because my co-ruler of the volunteer universe had them several years ago and we were scared as to what that meant. I reassured her they were nothing to worry about; now I am going to need her to do the same for me. However, I was so relieved, I started to cry. Then I went into my co-worker's office and did a happy dance.

And now I am wondering if Inner Voice was right about this, what else is she right about? Because there is one other thing she's been saying I would definitely be very happy to have her be right about.


Please note: while I have written this with a light-hearted tone, I do not take the subject matter lightly. Humor is one of the only ways I know how to deal with things. I have two dear friends who are undergoing cancer tests-one for skin cancer and one for Leukemia and I am terrified for them and pray they are okay. Last year, my best friend had an ovarian cancer scare, which I blogged about at the time. My partner-in-crime when I first met James is a breast cancer survivor as is another very special friend of mine. A new friend of mine lost his beautiful wife to brain cancer way too young. Another friend lost her mother way before she should have to pancreatic cancer. Cancer steals way too many innocent lives and I sincerely hope to see a cure in my lifetime. Ladies, PLEASE take your health seriously. Do your exams and if something doesn't seem right, make your doctor listen to you. It could literally save your life.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Boy meets Girl

Once upon a time, Boy met Girl. Boy liked Girl so he asked her on a date. Girl thought Boy was cute so she said yes. A year later, Boy proposed to Girl. A year after that, Boy married Girl and they lived happily ever after until Boy died of old age, and heartbroken, Girl died a few months later.

Ah, the good ol' days of dating. It was so straightforward and simple. I like straightforward and simple. I am not sure when the good ol' days ceased to exist or even when they started fading away but I think it was about the time I jumped out of the dating pool and into what was supposed to be my happily ever after.

In the Spring of 1998, I met a boy one night at a bar. By the time the bar closed, I was very much the smitten kitten and I gave him my home phone number. When he called the next day, I gave him directions to my apartment so we could go on a date. I didn't tell anyone I had a date-I just went out and had fun (8 hours worth!). We dated for a little over 2 months and then he decided that he wanted to try to win his ex-wife back so he could raise her kids. I don't think I even got around to telling all my friends I was even seeing someone.

About this time, online chatrooms were becoming very popular (because what else were you supposed to do with 50 bazillion free hours from AOL?). Well, this is when I discovered them anyway. I chatted with a few people regularly-mostly people who lived far away-but a few locally as well. I even met a few, and I met them all in public places but didn't tell anyone I had dates. Probably stupid on my part, but online dating had such a negative stigma attached to it and I of course was scarred by my dad's disappointment in my inability to land a man. I didn't want my friends to think I was a loser too. Nothing ever came of this attempt at dating and I gave up trying to meet people locally and went back to national chatrooms just to have someone to "talk" to. But even then, you really had no idea who you were really "talking" to.

In December of 1999, when I met James, the tide was turning. When James asked me out, I said yes. (Boy meet girl, boy likes girl....). Not really knowing anything about him, I put my resources to good use. Let's just say having a friend in the human resource department is a good thing. And, yes, I did confess this to James-eventually. I gave him my phone number. I got directions to his apartment so I could meet him there for our first date (New Year's Eve party). Only my co-conspirator in H.R. and my best friend knew I was on a date with him, but at least someone did. If I didn't turn up for work the next work day, at least someone knew where to start looking. But there was still an element of trust; the good ol' days weren't completely gone yet.

Now, apparently, all the rules have changed. Boy meets Girl on a message board or through a dating site. Boy and Girl exchange private messages hiding behind screen names on a website. Then they move on to exchanging e-mail addresses. Girl gives Boy an address that in no way reveals her true identity so Boy can't find out where she lives since Boy could be a lunatic stalker or mass murderer. In between chats and sending messages back and forth, Girl uses what she knows about Boy to Google him or order a complete background check to make sure Boy really is on the up and up. (Or she decides to end all contact because he seems like he could totally be the man of her dreams and all her online buddies tell her "if he is too good to be true, he probably is").

Then Boy and Girl decide to meet for a coffee date/interview. Girl updates her Facebook and Myspace statuses that she has a date and text messages her entire contact list to let them know where she will be. She then e-mails her entire address list the picture Boy sent her that was really taken about 10-20 years ago so if she turns up missing, they can take it to the cops. If they get through the date/interview without her Spidey sense going off, they exchange phone numbers. Girl, of course, gives Boy her cell number because it is harder to trace back to her home address. When Girl gets home, she updates Facebook and Myspace, and text messages and e-mails all of her contacts that she is home safely.

Eventually, Boy does find out Girl's last name (probably when they become Facebook friends) and where she lives. Eventually, Boy and Girl shack up and get married and live happily ever after until Boy dies of old age, and heartbroken, Girl dies a few months later.

At least that is my understanding of how it all goes down now. I am still waiting for the boy to meet this girl.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The possum

Apparently I have done such a good job of disposing of dead mice I have "graduated" to bigger rodents. Yea me!

Tuesday, I had every women's favorite doctor appointment. I won't go into details, but the result of that appointment was my doctor decided I should have an ultrasound within the next two weeks. Lucky me, they could fit me in the next day at 5:00.

Since I was going to be late getting home on Wednesday, I came home at lunch to "release the hounds" as I like to say, just like I always do when I am going to be late. As I pulled into the driveway, I saw a cat in my yard and wondered why that cat seems to think it lives here and why it looked "off." I was looking at it from the side. As I came to a stop, it looked at me and I realized it looked different because it was a possum not a cat. This was the first time I have seen one that was still alive. They are usually roadkill when I see them. Actually, the first time I saw one, I had no idea what it was and we had to look it up online because James wasn't sure either. I've lived in the NW most of my life and having never seen one before, I didn't realize they lived here too, right smack dab in the middle of Suburbia.

I looked at the possum and thought "crap. There is a possum in my yard." The only thing I know about possums is they are wild animals and they are mean. And they get hit by cars a lot. So, being the intelligent woman that I am, I decided I should see if I could get close enough to it to take a picture. (Yes, the first part of that sentence was highly sarcastic). So, I got my phone ready and crept closer and closer thinking the entire time that was definitely not the smartest idea I have ever had.

It was by taking the picture, which I apparently took at a weird angle since I can't get it right no matter how I rotate it, that I discovered the poor thing was injured. Earlier in the day, I had received a call from the doctor's office that my blood pressure was unusually high and they wanted me to have it checked again. Finding an injured wild animal in my yard did not help my blood pressure. So, I called my boss, who was not at his desk. I tried another co-worker who wasn't at her desk either. So, I decided to ignore it in the hopes that it would crawl next door and die (yes, I realize this is not neighborly). I took care of the dogs, sent a text message to my friend and started to head off to have my blood pressure read (which was fine), grab lunch, and head back to work.

I couldn't leave without doing something, so I called animal control. I was told they couldn't come get it if it was alive and to call back when it was dead. So, feeling very bad for this animal who looked so sad, I left. Sitting at a stoplight, I happened to glance over to see the animal control van also waiting at the stoplight. I found this to be incredibly ironic.

Then my friend called to tell me she was at my house and the possum looked so sad. She was trying to figure out a way to capture it to take it to the vet. So I called the vet to see if they would take it. They said if it was injured there probably wasn't much they could do for it. I called my friend back and repeated what the vet's office said and told her I didn't want her to risk getting attacked by a wild animal so she left it there.

When I got home from my appointment, I saw it was still there but didn't check on it. Denial is my happy place and I didn't want to see it suffer. About an hour later, my friend texted me to see how it was so I got out the pole that gets attached to the handle of the paint roller and went out and poked at the possum. It had died.

I could have just put it in the garbage can, but garbage day was Wednesday and it died after the garbage was picked up. It is supposed to be in the 80's this weekend and I really don't want my garage to smell like decomposing rodent, especially since it smells good right now thanks to leaving Vanilla-Something coffee beans in the garbage can for several days when it was in the 90's. So yesterday morning, I called animal control and said that I had reported an injured possum the day before and it was now dead. She passed me on to dispatch who informed me that they cannot come on to personal property to remove a dead animal (someone should tell the receptionist that). So I asked "if I fling it into the street will you come get it then?" She laughed and took down my address and phone number and said someone would come get it today (meaning Friday).

I didn't want the poor thing to get run over, so I waited until first thing this morning to move it. I found what I thought was a nice, safe spot in the gutter and put it there (via shovel of course). So here I am at 5:45 in the morning, with my hair pulled back, wearing sweats and a sweatshirt, yellow rubber gloves and a face mask hauling a dead possum around on a shovel trying to find a spot to leave it where it wouldn't get run over. And I did this all very calmly.

The possum was gone when I got home. I think it is safe to say that I have sufficiently proven that I am quite capable of "manning up" and taking care of deceased rodents.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Heather the Hermit

Last weekend, I did something I have not done in a very long time. After spending most of Saturday with a friend, I came home and decided to curl up with a book. Normally, I only read before bed. After looking through my stack of books to be read, I chose "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold.

I was hesitant to read this book. It is about a 14-year-old girl who is raped and murdered on her way home from school one day. She then narrates from Heaven how her death affects the lives of her family and friends. I thought it would be really sad and that I would just bawl my eyes out. I actually found this to be a book I could not put down and found seeing how the family was able to heal inspiring, even it was a fictional account. I did tear up when the dog died, even though I knew that was inevitable. (Shocking, I know). So, I read from late Saturday afternoon well into the night and then picked the book back up Sunday afternoon around 1:00 and read for several more hours.

Now, all I want to do is curl up on the couch and read. I want to hide out from the world with my nose in a book. I have moved on to "Lean, Mean Thirteen" by Janet Evanovich. The books in this series are always lighthearted. I just want to escape from reality and shut the world away.

I am not entirely sure what has brought this on. I love to read-I always have. So maybe it is in part because there are so many books and so little time. Maybe it is because books are reliable-unless they are really bad, they don't disappoint. Or maybe it's because the weather has been kind of blah and what better way to spend a rainy afternoon than with a good book to keep you company. Maybe it is because I have been so on the go lately that this is my mind's way of making me slow down for a bit. Maybe my mind just needs something other than my life to focus on.

So, that's where I am right now. Sitting here writing about books while wondering what kind of mischief Stephanie Plum is about to get into this time. I think I'll go find out.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Played the widow card

Because James died without a will, his estate had to go through probate. As part of this process, a notice to creditors was published in the local paper, giving creditors until X-date to file a claim for any amounts due to them. If they didn't file a claim, they could no longer attempt to collect the money. As we were not yet married and Washington is not a common law state, they can't come after me for the balance either. I was only liable for anything with both our names on it.

James and I both had cards from the same credit card company. When he died, he had a balance on his of about $420.00. This was not a card my name was attached to, so I didn't pay it. They didn't file a claim meaning they have to write off the balance.

Friday the phone rang and I saw it was the credit card company. I didn't answer it. My first thought was that they had decided now that some time has passed, they were going to try to collect James' old balance again. I ignored them again on Saturday but answered it yesterday realizing they were not going to give up. I decided if they were calling about his card, I would just give them the lawyer's name and number and let him deal with it.

They were calling about my card. I have had my card for years. Many, many years. I have never been late, which the Credit Card Man thanked me for as part of his opening statement. And I always pay more than the minimum balance, which it turns out is why they were calling-sort of. I always pay the credit card last and last month misplaced the water bill, which I needed to pay first so I could calculate out how many days until payday and how much I could pay the credit card and still leave myself enough of a cushion (Starbucks ain't cheap!). It was getting close to the due date for the credit card bill, so I looked to see what the minimum balance due was. It was $48.96. So, I sent them $50 so I would at least get something to them on time with the intention that I would send them more this week when I sit down to pay bills again.

Credit Card Man thanked me for having been a good paying customer in the past and t0ld me they were concerned because I always pay more than the minimum and this month, I had not done that. They wanted to make sure nothing had happened to make it so I could no longer pay my bill.

"Nope," I said, wanting to get back to my book. He then asked if I needed to be passed over to a credit counselor.

"Nope. I'm good."

He kept persisting. Obviously, there had to be some reason why I had just barely paid the minimum payment. I just kept saying there wasn't, and then I glanced at the mantle. With James smiling back at me, the next time he asked if I was sure nothing had happened to make it so I couldn't pay my card, I shrugged and said my husband died. I left out the part that it was 18 months ago. I don't play the widow card very often; there is seldom a need for it.

That sure changed the tune of the conversation! He was very sympathetic and prompt in offering condolences on behalf of the company. Of course, he then wanted to know if I was going to be able to at least pay the amount I have due on 9/1 and how much I was going to pay. I told him I was waiting to get my paycheck but assured him I would send in a payment at the end of this week and it would be at least the amount due on 9/1. After offering condolences again, he finally let me get back to my book.

Seriously. Don't these people have anything better to do than harass people who actually pay their bill in a timely fashion? Like say, harass the people who don't?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

August 8

For some odd reason, the time stamp is off on my Yahoo account. Since it's not my main account, I am not really concerned about it. Last night, I got a message around 9:30 that was dated 08/08/09. I knew that today was the 8th-I have known today was the 8th for a while now and I didn't think anything of it until I saw the date actually written out: 08/08/09. And I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks.

Shortly after we started dating, James told me he never intended on getting married. Basically, he hooked me in and then dropped that bombshell. Over time, I accepted it but secretly hoped he would one day change his mind. Still, no one was more surprised than I was when he proposed after 7 years and 1 week of dating.

I was not one of those girls who had her entire wedding planned out and was just waiting for the groom to enter the picture. Since I wasn't planning on getting married, I had never really given it a lot of thought. So, when James proposed, I had no idea where to begin but I knew that we needed a date and place. And I knew that I wanted it to be outside, which did kind of limit our options.

We both really liked the idea of getting married on 12/31/09-what better way to celebrate our 10th dating anniversary than with our wedding? We also liked the idea of having it in Vegas-with the stipulation that Elvis was NOT invited. However, our guests all would have had to fly to Vegas and on a holiday, that just was not feasible. Plus, we got engaged in January 2007 and I didn't want to wait almost 3 years to get married so we were back to square one.

A couple of months later, James called me at work. He was having lunch with our best friends at a Chinese restaurant and called to confirm I was born in 1974. When I verified that yes, I was indeed born in 1974, he told me that according to the Chinese horoscope on his menu we were compatible. I told him I was glad we had the blessing of the Chinese to get married because I had been worried about that. We laughed and hung up.

Then, I found out that the number 8 is considered very lucky to the Chinese and I wanted to get married on 08-08-08. Eight has been my favorite number since I was 8. August 8th would be the 8th day of the 8th month in our 8th year together. That was a lot of good luck on our side. (I should probably point out that neither of us is remotely Chinese, but one of my dearest friends is so I decided that was close enough). But, 08-08-08 was a Friday and that was just too inconvenient for too many people and I was trying way too hard to plan everyone else's version of my wedding. So, we decided on 08-08-09. Today. Ironically, right now, "Still the One" by Orleans is playing. It is the song that was going to play after our first dance when everyone joined in.

The wedding was going to be at the Heceta Head lighthouse over on the coast, overlooking the water. But the more we looked into it, the more we realized how expensive it was going to be for our guests to travel to the coast during the height of tourist season and I couldn't do that to our loved ones. Plus, the lighthouse had a minimum guest requirement and with the travel costs, I was not sure we could meet it. So, after many conversations about it, we decided to move the wedding to the Sacramento area, which ironically, was the first place I vetoed. But, his whole family lives in that area and my family and most of our friends had to travel no matter where the wedding was. It made more sense for us to go to his family than for all of them to come to us. Plus, they were not nit-picking my every decision and making me miserable like a lot of other people were doing. But, it is really hot in Sacramento in August-too hot for an outdoor wedding, which was the only thing I never waivered on. That and purple and white as the colors.

We had also found out that his brother was being deployed to Iraq and we weren't sure if he would be back in time for an August wedding. We felt September was still cutting it close and I didn't like the dates of any of the Saturdays in 2008-we had also decided on 2008 by this point. So, by process of elimination, we ultimately chose 10/11/08 as our wedding date, with the wedding to be held at the Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom, which of course never happened. August wouldn't have either, but for some reason it is still hitting me hard that if things had turned out differently, in a number of ways, I could be at the coast right now getting ready for my wedding.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Life is a Highway" - Tom Cochrane

Life's like a road that you travel on
When there's one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind
There's a world outside every darkened door
Where blues won't haunt you anymore
Where the brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore

We won't hesitate break down the garden gate
There's not much left today
Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you're going my way
I want to drive it all night long

Through all the cities and all these towns
It's in my blood and it's all around
I love you now like I loved you then
This is the road and these are the lands
From Mozambique to those Memphis nights
The Khyber pass to Vancouver's lights
Knock me down get back up again
You're in my blood I'm not a lonely man

There's no load I can't hold
Road so rough this I know
I'll be there when the light comes in
Tell 'em we're survivors

Chorus x2

There was a distance between you and I
A misunderstanding once but now
We look it in the eye

There's no load I can't hold
Road so rough this I know
I'll be there when the light comes in
Tell 'em we're survivors

Chorus x 3

18 Months

547 days.
78 weeks.
18 months.
1 1/2 years.

That is how long it has been since I last saw James alive. It was a Wednesday morning that started like any other and with absolutely no indication of how it was going to end. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact it has now been 18 months. Part of me still expects him to come waltzing in any time now. Part of me accepts that is never going to happen. I think that part of me is getting bigger as my life with James is starting to feel like it was a really long time ago. Some days, I even wonder if it happened at all. Looking around me, or down at my right hand where I now wear my engagement ring is a reminder that it did.

The raw pain is gone, but still creeps back from time to time. In its place is a deep sadness and a longing to have my life back. The loneliness is the hardest part-not so much the coming home to an empty house, although that does suck, but the loneliness that comes from not being able to share the funny little things that happen during the day-the things that don't really matter until there is no longer anyone to share them with. And the loneliness that comes from not having anyone to discuss the things that do matter with. It makes me wonder what the point of living is when you don't feel alive.

I long to feel alive. My head has come to accept that I will not be spending the rest of my life with James. My heart knows this too but doesn't completely understand how I can sit here and think of betraying James by loving someone else. It may not have been in front of God and all our friends and family, but in my head and in my heart, I vowed to love him and only him for the rest of MY life. I did not put a disclaimer in there that says "null and void should he die at the age of 41." Who the hell thinks that is going to happen at our age? I did not get to say good-bye; though I know he would want me to find love again, I wish he had a chance to tell me that is what he wanted for me. Maybe I wouldn't feel so guilty about wanting to move forward if he had given me his blessing, though I doubt it. I know myself better than that. I wish we would have had the chance to say good-bye; that we were both alive for our last kiss.

I have seen signs of forward movement-painting the hallway and bathroom, donating most of his clothes, mentally starting to earmark what to do with his other belongings. I gave away my desk and took over his. His things are in a drawer in the bathroom instead of on the counter. I donated his glasses to the Lion's Club. Some things I have not been able to change. His half empty water bottle is still on his night stand. The bag with the clothes he was wearing that day is still in the downstairs closet. His car is still in the garage. His Steeler's memorabilia still takes up the top two shelves of the display case with my Braves stuff on the bottom two because I don't know what to do with a half empty display case. I still have 6 cases of Pepsi we bought the weekend before he died because it was on sale so we stocked up. I stopped drinking pop in 1998.

It feels like today should be a milestone, though I don't know why. 18 months. One and a half years. Said that way, "year" is no longer singular. Maybe that is the milestone. I want to move forward. Several months ago, I met someone who confuses the crap out of me. I don't know where that is heading, or if it even is heading anywhere at all, but our friendship has shown me that I am still capable of feeling and for that I am grateful. Maybe that is the purpose of it. Last night, I took a leap and responded to a Craigslist ad a friend sent me for "Cute Guy with Pug." Part of me hopes he e-mails me back-who doesn't want to feel attractive? (Plus it took me three frickin' attempts to get the damn e-mail to go through and I really don't want all that effort to go to waste). Part of me hopes he doesn't-then I won't have to betray my love for James by getting to know someone new where the intent is romance from the get go. Ugh, getting to know someone new. How did I get to a place where that is even a possibility? I guess that's a sign of moving forward.

I'm not confused. I know I want a happy, fulfilled life. I know I can't have that with James, but I still want it with him. I'm sure part of me is always going to want that and will always wonder what would have happened if he hadn't died (our wedding would have been a kick-ass party, that's for dang sure!). My eyes are being opened to new things, through meetup groups, new volunteer opportunities (which I would have done anyway) and now behind the lens of a camera as I take up photography to honor him. I am learning things about myself-it turns out I actually enjoy (light) hiking. And in a couple of weeks, I am going camping for the first time since I was 12. I am getting out there. I am trying.

I am sitting here listening to Tom Cochrane's version of "Life is a Highway"-one of the two songs on James' memorial DVD ("Only Time" by Enya is the other). "I love you now like I loved you then" is one of the lines and it is true. I love him now like I always have. I'm afraid of losing that; that as time goes on more of him is going to slip away. So I hold on tightly to the past to prevent that from happening. But that prevents me from truly moving forward as well.

Highways come with instructions in the form of road maps and signs. They tell you if you are going the right way. Life does not come with an instruction manual. It's a dance you learn as you go (yes, I am channeling my inner John Michael Montgomery). There is no right or wrong way to do this; it is an individual journey and I am traveling the path the best way I know how, and that is so hard to do without my co-pilot and a map. I am lost, but ever so slowly, I am finding my way.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Diamond Rio's "One More Day"

I heard this song the other day. It is one I have heard many times before, but it had been awhile, and it really fits my mood as of late.

"One More Day" by Diamond Rio

Last night I had a crazy dream
A wish was granted just for me,
It could be for anything
I didn't ask for money
Or a mansion in Malibu
I simply wished, for one more day with you


One more day
One more time
One more sunset, maybe I'd be satisfied
But then again
I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still, for one more day with you

First thing I'd do, is pray for time to crawl
Then I'd unplug the telephone
And keep the TV off
I'd hold you every second
Say a million I love you's
That's what I'd do. With one more day with you


Leave me wishing still for one more day
Leave me wishing still for one more day

I wonder when the "it gets easier" part starts?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Still in awe

The first time James met my dad, I left them alone in the garage for awhile so Dad could talk to James about whatever it is fathers talk to the 34-year-old man their 26-year-old daughter is shacking up with when they meet for the first time. Given that we were already living together, there wasn't really anything Dad could say or do, but James was the first guy I dated in which the relationship got the "meet the parents" stage. Dad had waited a long time for this moment and I wasn't going to spoil it for him. I never asked what they talked about, but afterward, Dad said to me "I like him. Damn it." He also told me that if anything ever went wrong in our relationship, it would be my fault. (Upon meeting James, my mother said the same thing about any future discord being my fault-almost word for word. And people wonder why I have little confidence when it comes to dating).

When I went out to the garage to make sure James was still in one piece and not about to hightail it back home without me, Dad said to me "So, you're getting a dog, huh?" I don't remember my exact response but it was something along the lines of "um, no." I was a cat person. James thought cats were and I quote "a complete and total waste of fur." Kittens were okay, except they grew up to be cats. James wanted a dog. I did not. In my opinion, that was the end of the discussion. And it was-for about a year.

I am not sure how it came up again, but eventually, I relented and agreed we could get a dog, as long as it was small. We researched dog breeds for 6 months before settling on a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They are very cute, very expensive and the one breeder in this area kept having "false alarms" when it came to her dog being pregnant.

After the second false alarm and no time table on when there would actually be a litter of puppies, we decided she was unreliable and started our search again. Three weeks later, I decided I wanted a Lhaso Apso and had picked out a breeder for us to go visit. This was when James told me he really wanted a spaniel of some sort. Grr. I was more than slightly annoyed by this-as he could have saved me a lot of time by telling me that when the Cavalier fell through. So, we decided to look for a cocker spaniel and found a breeder not far from our house who had a litter of puppies. I made James call to see if they had any available. The litter was 10 days old, and only 1 of the 5 was still available. So, we made an appointment to see him. On the way there, we decided on an amount we were willing to spend, but I was still pissy about not getting a Lhaso Apso, and was determined that I was not going to like the puppy.

We got to the breeders and "Huey" was handed to me. His eyes weren't even open yet. He stretched out a bit on my arm to get comfortable and then went back to sleep. And I didn't care how much he cost. He was mine. Six weeks later, in December 2002, James brought home the renamed Sammy. I was in Salem to take the State exam for my tax license so I missed his homecoming, but I took the next week off for "puppy leave."

That first week was miserable! He cried so much! I was interviewing for jobs and my neighbor said he could hear Sammy howling the whole time I was gone. James was out of town for work and by the time he got home at the end of the week, neither Sammy nor I would stop crying-I was so tired. We went to both area humane societies to get another dog. We didn't care what it was, as long as it was small. Unfortunately, the small dogs that were there were there because they didn't get along with other dogs. So, we pulled up The Oregonian online and started calling everyone who had cocker spaniels.

We found one lady who had two left. Someone was coming to look at one, but the pick of the litter was still available. By the time we got there, the other family had decided they really wanted a girl so both puppies were available-the pick of the litter and the runt. The prize puppy was tri-colored. Sammy is tri-colored and this one was not cute like Sammy. The runt was so much cuter. I picked him up and he immediately snuggled against my neck. She kept trying to push the pick of the litter on us and when she left the room, I told James "I don't want that one. I want this one," pointing to "Gremlin" who was still nestled against my neck. She came back and a few minutes later, we left with a pointy-headed runt named Gremlin. On the way home, Charlie kept coming to my mind, and it has proven to be a very fitting name for him.

Now I look at them 6 1/2 years later and I am still in awe that these are actual living creatures that not one, but two people trusted James and I to care for. They are so playful and loving that I sometimes forget how old they are. They are happy and healthy. They have very distinct personalities-Sammy is so laid back and Charlie is such a little ham. Charlie loves his ball; Sammy would be picked last in puppy P.E. class. Sammy has always been pretty equal opportunity but always turned to James for approval. Charlie has always been my dog. They could not be more opposite of each other or love each other more. They are the center of my world. I don't know how I would survive this part of my life without their unconditional love and kisses. They know when I need extra hugs. They are amazing little creatures and I am so blessed that they are mine.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The things I let my friends talk me into

Last night at bunco, my friend and I decided that if my tentative plans for today fell through, we would pack up our blankets and our books and head to the river.

My plans fell through. So, after taking my friend's 15-year-old to lunch and dropping him off at home, we headed to the river and spent more time talking than reading, mostly about a certain someone who continues to make my head spin in circles and keeping my options open so I don't let a good thing slip away while waiting for my head to stop spinning. I told her that it would be a lot easier to keep my options open if I actually had options, which I thought was a very valid point.

After she decided she didn't want to battle bugs anymore, (they didn't like me-I must smell bad or something), we headed back to her house to finish our books and work on her puzzle. Yeah, we're wild like that. The puzzle is proving to be a real bitch though. It's a 3,000 piece puzzle of the castle James was going to take me to in 5-10 years when we went to Germany so he could custom build a BMW. My friend did not know this when she got and asked me to help with the puzzle. I've been working on the sky. A good friend is one who comes over and does the crappy part of your puzzle so you can focus on the fun part.

As the afternoon wore on, the mild sinus pressure I had when I left the house this morning continued to build up and grow into a headache (guess I still need the allergy meds). Her son was playing in an out of town soccer tournament and we were getting regular updates on the game as not wanting to leave a 15-year-old home for an entire weekend unattended and a sick puppy prevented her from going, which was absolutely driving her nuts. After finding out that we won the game against the #1 team in the region due to her boy (my godson!) scoring the only goal of the game (yea!! I am SO proud of him!!), I decided to come home to see if taking out my contacts would help with the sinus pressure (it made it worse).

As I was leaving, she told me that she was going to post personal ads for me on Craigslist. Yes, I know people get killed responding to ads on Craigslist. But it's free, we are easily entertained and that is how her sister met her boyfriend and how the best friends' of another friend met. She did one that was pretty straightforward but funny and one that was more generic. The generic ad states I am widowed; the other does not. This was the extent of my input-and it was done this way to see if one gets more of a response than the other. I do have to say I find it a little amusing that in the straightforward ad she stated no liars, but got my age wrong (although she did make me a year younger so that's good).

Then she proceeded to send me a bunch of ads she has received in response since they are going to her e-mail. I don't know if I will actually respond to any of them and I am surprised at how many people are browsing Craigslist personals this evening. This means that unless they are on laptops, they are probably not watching the Braves game, which is nationally televised tonight on ESPN (Joe Morgan drives me nuts). That could be a big red flag for all of them. Three guys have actually responded to both ads-one sent an identical response to both. That's a little lazy in my opinion. And I am pretty sure another one of the responses was written by a woman.

Good Lord. What kind of monster have I allowed to be created this time?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Trip to the dog park

This morning, I posted on Facebook I liked that the service man came at the beginning of the two hour window instead of the end as it meant I could do something today besides sit around and wait. A friend responded that now I could take the puppies to the park.

I thought "why not? It's too nice of a day to be cooped up inside feeling sorry for myself because I don't have anyone to spend this gorgeous day with." (Now that it's over 80, I have changed my tune)! So, after the bug man left and I ran a couple of errands, in an act of defiance, I loaded up the dogs and the camera and headed for the dog park located about 3 miles from here.

The dogs are 6 1/2 years old and this was their first trip to a dog park. Shortly after we got them, someone started leaving bits of poisoned meat in a dog park in Portland. When James saw the story on the news, he decided that our boys would never go to a dog park because it wasn't safe enough. I thought this was a bit excessive-it was only one park, and we wouldn't have taken them to a park in Portland anyway. The funny thing about this was that I am the one who has always been overly paranoid and obsessive when it comes to Sammy and Charlie. But, it wasn't something that was worth arguing over, so we never took them to a dog park. Doing it today was really a "screw you for dying" moment on my part, the result of almost breaking down at the store after addressing the cashier by her name. It is an unusual name, and I only know how to pronounce it because James once asked her about it.

When we got to the park, the boys were less than impressed. It's really just a big, fenced field sectioned off for big dogs and little dogs. At first we were the only ones there, but then a man came with his big dogs and a couple came with a little dog. We didn't stay long. It was a little warm out, and Charlie and Sammy kept going back to the gate. Maybe we will try again on a cooler day. Or maybe they knew this is a place they weren't supposed to go.

Sammy in motion

Big dog trapped in a cocker spaniel body

Checking out the big black tube

Making a new friend

"I know this is the way out!"