Sunday, December 24, 2017

That very wonderful Christmas !

Happy Christmas and thank you for a year of friendships and the gift of your wonderful posts.

I am reposting my story from last year, as that Christmas of 1949 was a special year for me. You might not have read it then so I hope that you will enjoy it now. And for those of you who did read it last year, I thought you might enjoy reading it again.

My very best Christmas

This was my very best Christmas. In a big house on Main street in Tillamook, Oregon everything was beautiful and happy. My grandparent's house was warm and fragrant from the just cut tree and crowded with people who were glad to be there.  I'm sure my mother helped put the "rain" on the tree, she was meticulous and would have wanted to please her new mother in law. The lights were low in the kitchen except for the one over the Tom and Jerry bowl, a special one - children were not allowed but there was another one just for them with tiny cups to fit little hands, and lots of home made cookies and probably a ham. All my aunts and uncles were there. Christmas music would have been playing on the new mahogany cabinet that held the record player which had just replaced the wind up with the brass horn.  My parents were still happily married.

The carpeting in the house had muted roses on a grey background and the wall paper was a soft dove grey with a pattern of white feathers. The brocade drapes would have been drawn over the pale golden shades, the ivory pull dangling from a long string.  Soon my grandfather would have disappeared and my grandmother would say to the children, "What's that noise? I hear something on the roof.", we were sure we heard it too, then the doorbell would ring.  A wide eyed child would rush to open it, letting a burst of cold air in and stepping back in wonder because Santa was there. Little necks would strain looking up in awe and then down to the big, red bag. There were presents under the tree but the best ones were the ones given to waiting hands.

As Santa disappeared, my grandfather came back and began turning all the lights out, except the tree with the big bright bulbs that got too hot for little ones who always wanted to touch. In the too warm and cozy room 4 children would be oohing and ahhing and passing back and forth presents that were so different then.  The wrapping paper, thin and soft, would be strewn in excitement, a cloud enveloping children and baby dolls and wind up train engines. Parents, huddled together, would laugh with each other and watch carefully to see that nothing got left unwrapped, and children were sharing, as children did then. In the glow from the tree, newlyweds, they all were then, exchanged presents and tender smiles. The war had just ended and all my uncles were safely back home, a present for my grandparents.

There was love in that warm and softly lit room and there would be for several years to come.
It was 1949.  My pretty mother in her favorite dress, green with pink bows, my aunt, a late surprise to my grandparents - all my uncles grown and married - and my sister with her baby doll. My mother is carrying me, four months in, I would be born in May. There were more Christmases just like this, a few as sweet and loving and gentle and filled with tenderness. But this is the one I remember best, this was the one I loved.

Merry Christmas everyone.
Love, Liv

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Honey and Salt

It's freezing in here. The furnace heats both this level and the downstairs tenant. I have control over the thermostat, but he has a pellet stove so he is warm. He doesn't need or want the heat on because he has to share half the bill no matter what. So I have resorted to those rolling radiator heaters - it's a big house. I have two and one that is kind of broken (bit of a fire hazard, but don't tell anyone). I actually need about 5 to keep the place warm. Everything is turned off at night, because I can't afford a huge bill either.      Salt

Chutima, roommate, is coming the first of January. Great New Year's day treat. She is very nice, happy,  but not too happy. Quiet, but not too quiet. I'm looking forward to learning some Thai from her and she is hoping to improve her English with me, although she is very good at it now. It will be nice for me to have someone in the house. Someone coming home and say hello. She is looking forward to the same as in Thailand her family is very close. The all live in their own apartments in a building that her uncle owns. So she is used to always having someone to watch out for her, someone to check on whether or not she got home safely and ask her how she is. She doesn't understand why American families are not more like this. It's just normal in Thailand, she says. She has been living alone in a studio apartment so I know she is glad to have someone to do that for her a little bit.                                                                                       Honey

Me? I'm having a bit of a hard time. I'm looking forward to having her here, but I'm also a little nervous that I am going to have to try so hard to not appear stressed or depressed or idle. These are things she's not used to and I can tell already that they would be disconcerting to her. Her life is not perfect, but she is a very level person - no ups and downs.  She is also very used to the heat and humidity of her home and keeps asking me what winter is going to be like. I try to gently let her know but I can tell she doesn't get it, so the heat is going to be a problem. I told her she has to get a little heater for her room too - we'll see how that works.    Salt

The past few days have been crazy bad. It's not so much Christmas it's self - Liz and I have a great time together - lovely dinner, presents, laughs. It's the knowing, more than usual, that it's just the two of us. It's not that either one of us misses the family, they can't stand each other anyway and rarely see each other except for the artificially, strained cheer that they all must endure for one day. It's just the difference-ness of it all. We don't want to be different. When I look at the recent blog posts and Facebook posts, I get a feeling of emptiness. I feel flat. I don't necessarily want to cry, but it's like that kid looking into the shop window and wishing. There's a present at home and it's good to have a present, but it never turns out to be what's in the shop window.    Salt

I've also been having a very hard time with the fact that my sister just bought a house not very far from here. It's nice, she paid cash, she brought me pictures, she is very happy. She wants me to come over and help her decorate. But she doesn't grasp how very, very difficult that would be for me - nor understand that I won't be coming.  There is a Chinese saying that if you want life to go easy on you, you must accept defeat. I think there is some wisdom in that. They are never going to help me find a way to have a home that I don't have to feel can be taken from me at any moment or to not worry about the "future". We're getting old and we know there will be "taking care" and that it could be, will be, more expensive than any of us thought, especially with the crazy direction we are headed in. But somehow saying that I have been defeated makes me feel lighter. So what if you didn't win the battle, you fought a good fight, it's something to be proud of. You no longer need to be a warrior. Fighting is not necessary. You can rest now.  There is still life left to be lived.         Honey and Salt

I'll be glad to see this year end. It has been a tough one. Well, more than one. I got sick last July, not this one, the one before - there was an ambulance involved. Then it got so bad that by March I had to have an operation on my sinuses and my nose. Then the diagnosis of breast cancer and another operation and then another, there is a secondary op. to check lymph nodes, then treatment. (the money, the bills...omg) And just as I got the diagnosis, that blog thing of loosing a friend because she thought that I had done something I had not - no chance of healing there.  So PTSD was raging at that point on so many levels. It took leaving here for 5 months just to get my feet back under me. I don't really know how I did it. I'm still not sure where I am and I am sure as hell not steady on them yet.  But I am pretty glad that I am back here. It feels good to be heard, to be a part of something.                                                                                         Salt and a little Honey

This next year is going to be better. I don't think I can survive another like this one. I have felt some pretty darn good love from a couple of people recently. And I don't have any fear that it won't continue. I'm doing more art, as you know, and I have a good feeling that some of it will get sold this coming year. I think I'm about cried out, so that frees up a lot of time. I think there might be a cat in my future, I need to take care of something besides my self. And it's nice for me to have someone to come home to, although they are fairly indifferent when you do. Still....

But right now it's hard. It's damn hard. I feel flat even as I'm writing. Tired.    Bitter Salt

The tree is up. It was my grandma's. Purchased in 1963, she wrote it on the box. There is one of those colored wheels to go with it, The adorable tree is funky enough. She actually got a full sized pink one a few years after this one. I remember everyone coming in and laughing at it. I can just imagine how she must have felt. I adored it. It really spoke to the princess in me. I remember she put her arm around my shoulder.                                          
I put up the little village that my mom always made (hers was way better than mine). How cute is that?  Here's to you mom.  Notice that Mary is a whole lot bigger than Joseph.....  The green is from my daughter's fish tank. I think it really dresses up the whole thing. Makes it look real. It is real.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Put your hat on and hold on to it!

I think I found a roommate !!!!  I'm about 92 % sure, just one more step for her to go through.

Her name is Chutima, she is Thai and lovely. We have so much in common, all of the good stuff, and she is pretty light hearted, but still aware of what it takes to be a human. She has traveled to 31 countries..omg. And is learning Spanish so that she and a friend can go to South America next year. So that means a good 6 months.

I'll write more later. I have to go cook a side dish to go with a Korean meal my friend is cooking tonight and I have no idea what that will be. And whatever it is, I will have to make a trip to the store for sushi rice, at least.

Oh yeah, she is hooked on Korean movies just like me - that was a great laugh, we knew right then it was going to work!

God bless the Koreans, north and south and keep these beautiful people safe.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Just for you

               Mornin'. I find that I cut my hair shorter and shorter each year. Can you see how short there by my ear?  I secretly want to shave my head but I have so many lumps and bumps that it would not look chic at all like some people do, probably just scary.

                   Goin' out to lunch with MJ, makeup is a miracle. Tied it back in the tiniest ponytail ever. I'm a grown woman and I still call it a "ponytail", silly. But what else could you call it?

I don't know why my selfie's always come out a bit out of focus. I have to take my glasses off so it actually looks like this to me on the camera...out of focus. But I do exactly the same thing with the camera when I take a picture of one of the shell things close up and then they are in focus. ??? **    I have a big red dot on my forehead my bags seem to have disappeared....again, makeup! Thank you camera gods. I think part of my arm is in focus. I have the blinds closed to stop that blast of sun. I moved the computer because before it was right next to that window and I was freeeezing watching a movie at night. It's a bit better on the far end of the room. This room doesn't have heat, only because the heat vent is in the little alcove below that window and it hangs out in mid air with nothing underneath it so all the heat is lost in minutes. A real architectural bloop. I have a little heater by my feet that works really well and so far I have paid enough attention to it to keep myself from catching on fire.

I want you to know that I do survive all this shit with, most of the time, a smile on my face. Because really, what can you do? Cancer, money, no roommate - it's life. There is a part of my brain that thinks hardships are pretty much a way to get inside. To the place in the center where I really have to unclench. That's were my breath goes. It's the place where fear grabs so hard, like a fist, that I can't get the breath in. People always say - breathe, breathe, you will feel better. Even though it's true, it's exhausting to hear it sometimes. - sometimes it's just fuck, fuck, fuck - My grip isn't easy to break, but if I don't let go I know it will squeeze the life right out of me . I'm often outside of that center and it can take me awhile to even remember that it's even there. So I'm giving it to the other and putting my energy into believing that someone else will come into this house who knows that idea. Kind of balance the seesaw. For me and probably for them, babes on a seesaw, we all are.  PS here; I always hold my neck and shoulder muscles so tight when I am stressed that my head shakes and my neck aches, aches! Now that! is really hard to unclench.

I'm listening to Charlie Brown Christmas music in the sunshine and looking for a cookie recipe. Baking is a go to for joy and calm for me and Charlie, well, who can not feel good with Charlie Brown?  It is very cold here - I love a winter kitchen with the oven on - and the water in the bird bath froze last night, but the sun melted it pretty fast. The chickadees are going hard at the bird feed.

Politics and worldwide insanity are out in the cold today where they can stay for awhile. Boy, those things can really put a grip on that center!  I'm not going to think of calling out men, or women in stupid just-as-good-as naked outfits or tights that are inappropriate and not just for comfort. Give me a break...I have a whole lot to say about that one! I'm thinking about sugar and flour and butter! And walnuts and maybe morello cherries or toffee.....ahhhhh!

** Ah ha!  It's because I'm trying to take the pic. with one I can't hold the camera still. I hope it's a good day for you, no clenching.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Another day, another glass of wine

Only the wine bottle is appropriate - I am so far from ever being sexy any more - not that I ever was.

Still looking for a roommate. Several very inappropriate ones have responded to the ad. It's on Craigslist - well, it was. I've had to delete and go with three other places as CL seems to only bring in people who really can't afford to live here nor read the ad. They ask all the questions that have been previously noted in the ad and asking for exception after exception even though I've explained that the landlord is firm, I have no power to make exceptions. I've also gotten two lovely scams from Nigeria. Doesn't anyone there do anything else but sit in front of a computer saying "Let's see how really ridiculous we can make this one, because you know we're going to catch a fish or two anyway." ? Well, not me buddy. I'm going to figure it out right after I reply and the bell goes off in my empty and over anxious brain.

I did however get some $ help from a relative. So a bit of a surprise there. It helped pay for one month of this ridiculous rent increase, the electric bill and some groceries. (You probably don't know this, as I didn't, but Oregon has no cap on the amount of rent that can be raised by a landlord. And this is supposed to be such a socially advanced state.)  Grateful I am. Very grateful!

Some good news: My downstairs neighbor has turned out to be an absolute doll. He is very kind and positive and always makes me feel that I am being watched out for. A big plus when it comes from someone you don't even know.

My daughter has found a roommate who is great. She is funny too, just like L. And can even keep up a bit with her wit, but laughs hysterically when L is on a roll. Which is most of the time. L came for dinner last and it was nonstop laughing between each bite. She thinks I am funny too, although I'm not even close to her, but then she laughs at her own jokes. She really is a wonder. We kiss and hug goodbye and linger for a moment in each other's arms, both feeling we share in something much more precious than leftovers.

For a while I was scurrying between the frantic search for someone to share these bills with here and thinking that maybe I could get into a house now and leave all of this behind. With more intense research than before I have solidly come to the knowledge that a manufactured home (ugggh) is completely off the list. I simply don't qualify for that kind of a loan. It's a crazy thing the way these are done and 9% interest. It's way too complicated to explain here but that's off the list once and for all.  So are condos as my SS income is too low to secure a loan with the overhead of an HOA that can increase at a moments notice.  The mind blowing thing is that I do however qualify for a home mortgage. Albeit, as I've said before, that would be a crack house. But still, something to create a bit of equity for my old age - I always think I am about 40 years younger than I am, but... - and something to leave to L should I be run over by a bus. But looking for that one (secure abode) has been so exhausting with the roommate search as the other option, that I've got to choose the one with the lesser stress level....hahaha, see, there's my sense of humor. It's all so laughable.

I've missed out on reading and commenting on so many of your blogs. But I went back and read all of them today. Everyone seems to be doing ok, as much as can be expected with complicated lives and I am happy to read that.

We are experiencing a lot sunny, but not warm days. Sun makes almost everything better as opposed to the other so I am grateful for yet one more grace. My relationship with the powers that be have increased a bit. Although I still don't understand and I feel a bit bad for usually only turning there in times of need - benevolence is something to actually hold in my hands.... besides the glass of wine.

I miss each and everyone of you and will do better at staying in touch. I feel very lucky to have dear friends here. Let's keep our fingers crossed, roomy is out there somewhere!!