Life after 50/ I did it Terry

19,000 feet four years, three mountains , two hikes, one rescue, and one pandemic. I did it this past July. I completed the quest I did to honor my friends memory. It took longer than I had hoped but I am happy.

A little background …in 2017 I climbed up to the cross in Palm desert California . I was overwhelmed with a feeling of happiness that I had done it without injury .. I was Hooked !!!

I hatched a plan to think about a much bigger mountain … Kilimanjaro , yes it was nuts . Thankfully I reviewed a climbers vid who like me was a type two diabetic . He was not successful in his bid . It was also a ton of money and time to invest in something that only had a small chance of success…..but wait I was two hours away from lots of mountains . So my plan was born … I would climb as many mountains and hikes as it took, to make up 19000 feet of max elevation .

Simple plan what could go wrong ??? A lot ….but the first one was Tunnel mountain in 2018 I trained hard and looked at more peoples experiences. It was rated moderate so I figured ok …..

We left on a Saturday and the weather was not great much fog and drizzle temps of 5 C…our original plan was Sulphur mountain but it was shrouded in fog halfway up ( why climb when there will be no view at the end ) and we were concerned the trail may be wet and slippery. So fallback to plan b Tunnel Mountain .

Very quickly I learned a new appreciation for the word “steep” …it was a huff and puff slow slog which took twice the amount of time it should have, very demoralizing seeing people pass you on the way and then again on the way down (why didnt I do this in my twenties ?) At one point I figured I had to stop…but a quick scout ahead by one of our trio gave me hope …we were really close …..we made it !!! quick pic and a vid call to my daughter . Now the hard part going down …thank god for my hiking poles . Soon enough we were celebrating at a local pub in Canmore . I was feeling happy with my accomplishment but a bigger mountain was what I was hoping to do and this time I would call my ailing friend from the top.

I trained very hard for Sulphur , based on my performance on tunnel …treadmill, walking ,recumbent bike all employed to help me in my quest . Two weeks before we were to go up , I got the news my friend had passed away , it was a tough loss and it took the wind from my sails . I had wanted to take her with me by vid chat and share this with her , now I only had her memory to take . I was tired and sad ,but still feeling like it was even more important now somehow .

We arrived full of anticipation very confident in success…the day was lovely . The first part was very nice , forested and shady , it was taking us much longer to get up with frequent stops. At a certain point we had been on the trail 5 hours and we were still 400 ft and 7 switchbacks from the top. I went to go forward and was met with a lack of breath and dizziness…every time I tried to move it was the same , I moved away the the very steep edge and found a rock and laid down so I wouldn’t faint . After some time we quickly realized ..I was done .. I felt embarrassed and defeated , and, I had let my friend down. It was determined I needed to get to a lower altitude . So cue the helicopter….(dear GOD). This experience rattled my dear husband and our hiking companion suggested a much lower altitude limit for future hikes . A hiking app has recently rated this trail as “hard” …never would have attempted if I had known

Fast forward to fall of 2020 and cases of Covid were going up, my dear husband was in a new job and we did not have much free time by December we were in full lockdown , businesses closed, take out restaurants only and no indoor gatherings . We were in survival mode , bucket lists had to wait.

Fast forward to March and April this year ..we got our covid shots , restaurants and businesses opened up …slowly life was returning to a new version of normal. I started to plan for the final hike in this bucket list…Grassi Lakes

This hike had it all, choice of two routes, beautiful lakes and it was perfect for the elevation I needed . The only downside was its popularity. So to combat this we left our home at an ungodly hour to arrive in time to secure a parking spot . The day was beautiful the trail very manageable. At a point well along the trail a nice lady told us we are only five minutes away from the lakes ( bless her ) as I walked along a rise before we descended to the lakes , I checked my elevation app . I was actually over the elevation needed to make my goal . It was a great feeling ..I did it Terry!!! It was such a beautiful hike to end on , we took our time and had a snack and explored a bit , then it was down time .

So what now ??? I am in process of doing a distance challenge 97 km to be exact , and more hikes to come as long as my body will cooperate. But for now I will revel a little in my accomplishment for me it was really a happy conclusion , I hope Terry would be proud.

Palm Desert Cross Hike
Heart Creek Alberta

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life after 50/ Bucket list revisited

Hey there readers I am getting COVID fatigue just like the rest of you ….so I have revisited my Bucket List . I am a mere 4,820 ft from my goal of 19.000 ft . During this past summer I managed another hike which gave me nearly 1000 ft . My goal this fall is so tackle another hike which will net me 5,000 ft of elevation , my goal will be reached . I am going into this with a realistic view of my limitations and expectations .

I am looking forward to getting back onto a rigorous routine of walking. COVID has cancelled my beloved walking group. I am looking into a treadmill . When weather gets better throw in a few 5k walks , and sprinkle with a few step challenges …excited to get going again !!!

Of course this is a small way of keeping a promise to a dear friend ..its what keeps me going …I think about how I will feel at the end. She had no legs at the end of her life, so I will use mine to honor her memory . I can’t wait …my hope is that we will not be in lockdown , but we are going in the fall to avoid huge crowds , likely on a weekday…very early.

Its always good to have a goal and especially during this cold snap …nice to look forward . I will keep you posted on my journey towards this , thanks for reading

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life after 50 the world through my eyes

Hello again ….much to talk about 2020 has been a trying year for many …myself included.

My 60th birthday unhappily coincided with the beginning of a lockdown here ( has since opened up a bit ) So no weekend in the mountains and no Gondola …Boo…it also coincided with my hubby getting laid off from his work ..like many others have , it became permanent late this summer .

It was a lot to adjust to, but we did well, going for hikes as trails reopened , cooking and baking together . It was lovely to have my dear husband around .

I knew it was temporary , but it was also frustrating that although we had lots of time to do stuff we had restrictions on what we could do. The very person we longed to see was on lockdown in a medical setting . Thank god for technology and the ability to still see her talk to her ….its hard not to be able to hug her.

So things have opended up here a bit we still wear masks , but can go for a meal get a haircut .

So one thing not changed by any lockdown is my love of photography …I have taken so many photos , mostly nature and flowers. Never though much of it …just remark a friend made said she would like to see more of my photos not just on my phone. I filed that under …’.someday’ .

One day at work it was mentioned we were having a charity craft sale ……hmmm , I thought why not ??? When I showed up at work with a few of my pieces , co workers asked if they were mine , I said “yes” they said “And you work here???” Clearly they had never sold art or photography before .

This led to a few of my pieces selling , I was very happy indeed and again this idea went back in the ‘someday’ box.

Winter came …and a lady I knew asked for my participation in a craft sale at a seniors lodge . This was my first real show . I sold 3 at the show and 4 after …A few people were taking notice .

I had high hopes , then covid hit ….but my it didnt stop my photography ….and in the spring another work charity art show .

I really longed to do my own show so one sunny day I set up a pop-up sale on the front deck …..not one sale ….

Ok, log it under what not to do..so I arranged another one promoted it and really prepared for success…it rained and it had to be done online ….a few more sales but I wanted to do more .

Enter my husbands tennis contacts …one of whom has a grandson with a new business involving an office / share space , we were invited to the open house .

I met the owners …. lots of art on the walls …they asked me for photos to place in their boardroom, I was very excited…not only do I have a display space ,but, as it turns out also have use of the venue after hours for a showing of my own ….pinch me ….its all I ever wanted .

It has been tricky organizing especially in light of covid , masks, and sanitizer and limiting numbers are all efforts to make it a success . Sadly we gave up on offering food. The good ukrainian girl inside me had a hissy fit…we ALWAYS feed people!!!

A good friend and photographer is also co hosting with me , I am grateful for her experience.

I have also decided to dedicate this show to my friends memory , she had shown real excitement about my photos .. the one she picked will be showcased at my show . She received it a few weeks before she passed .

This passion is what feeds my soul, and reminds me of what is important in life . It keeps me grounded and brings me joy . I hope people feel a little of that when they see my work.

This show is the real test of whether or not people like my stuff …am I some no-talent hack or delusional . It is nerve wracking to put youself out there… it will be an interesting and fun night .

Post Party script : It was a fun night, nerve wracking as our covid count all around us was rising …whispers of a shutdown were swirling . In spite of it all we had good sales and good feedback . Just a small crowd . We were actually relieved. We all wore masks and took every precaution we could . We had a fun night and will plan an even more posh event , post covid. And we will have food.

post post script …so not a no talent hack…perhaps.

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life after 50/into the woods I go…

Hello again , I am  writing about my favorite thing …being outdoors .  walking in any forest gives me  a recharge in so many ways .

When I am in the presence of nature I feel calm and happy and  satisfied . It started as a very reasonable way to excercise  but it is so much more than that now .

I feel  a spiritual solitude  that I am in awe of …it heals me as I walk  . It is like a form ot worship almost , there is always something that makes me very glad to be alive .

The song of  a bird the sound of the gentle breeze rusting the leaves , the smell after a fresh spring rain, and the majestic beauty of a white pristine snowfall , all make me glad to be alive and  enjoying my nearly 60 years on the planet.

It is also mentally helpful ..on a solitary walk I sort things out in my head and  ‘move the furniture around’  in there, much can be sorted out on a walk…much cheaper than a shrink…I ponder my past the failiures and the sadnesses , the people I have lost …

On one walk after my friend died , I recall a butterfly , stopped right in front of me , then, rather than fly off, hopped bit by bit …hmmm I  pondered what it could mean … On another occasion  a deer was in a clearing and didnt run from  me … a little thing maybe ,but to me it was  quite lovely…

I have been walking the same pathway for years now , I know where the sage grows and where the wild roses bloom . All this time I have been photographing it . It is one of my favourite places so far . I have introduced  many people to it , by walking with then or  by the many photos I have taken. I love this place and my photos help others to appreciate it  too.

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Bucket list angst…..feeling my age

Hello again, I am recovering emotionally and mentally from  an attempt on my third peak.  To review peak 1 was 655 ft in the socal desert and two was the smallest montain in Banff. Peak 3 was a big one; I would need to hike 2100 ft and this starting at 5000 ft  above sea level ….I prepared and trained …walked and treadmilled.  Some background as to why I did this …….?

I decided a few years back it might be cool to climb a mountain …..I was thinking Kilimanjaro …..it is 19,000 ft.  After hiking tunnel mountain, a mere 5,000 ft, it was obvious to me it was not doable ….but  I thought, “what if I could climb a bunch of smaller peaks with the total elevations ending up the same ???” …the bucket list idea was born…but it was not the ony reason.

My friend, mentioned in the last two blogs had lost both legs to disease ….I had promised to ‘take her up’ the mountain with me, my hope being to do live updates or video from the summit … it was not to be, for two reasons.

The first reason was she had passed away two weeks before my trip….and secondly I failed to summit.

Remember I said I had trained …. yup  but you can’t train for how altitude affects you… or tiredness and dehydration.  It was just taking way too long … a three hour climb turned into five and still not there.  I was struggling to catch my breath and felt faint … aimed for the nearest rock and laid down to get blood to my head …..I was a mere seven switchbacks from the top.  Thankfully I was with an experienced climber/hiker  …he went up the last few swithcbacks to see what aid was available ….he returned with an employee of the gondola up top.  After a quick discussion he determined that Parks Canada would need to help.

Now I have gone over it in my mind many times … I keep wondering if I could have done the last seven, while I conveniently forget how lousy I was feeling and how dangerous one missed step could have been at that point (going down at 32ft/sec sq) so in talking with the Parks people on the phone the only viable option was a helicopter……  a HELICOPTER no other way, no other option  (sonofabitch)  I am sure my face went whiter than it already was …. (Jesus Christ)  A HELICOPTER!!!!  We were given instructions as to how to make ourselves visible to the chopper, they asked what I was wearing and I recalled joking about just such a thing months earlier…no joke now, so we stood arms raised  and they got our position…..then they picked up the SAR tech who then was dropped by a line from the helicopter, a few feet away from me ….he then explained how I would be rescued and was very patient as I cried . …It is an unwritten rule that you don’t go beyond your ability as a climber/hiker so as not to put others in danger, dammit how had I let this happen?  He reassured me I would get off the mountain.

Now at this point we were at 7000ft according to topo maps ….so it was way too far to go back down.  So on goes the helmet and vest sling through the crotch and attached to the SAR tec with a very STRONG carabiner then we both connected to the chopper.  I have no idea how I survived this without coming unglued….I suppose the knowledge that there was no other choice may have helped;  So up we went I was horizontal, made a small wimper as the chopper lifted me and wisely closed my eyes (save for a glimpse when I saw rotors and a line) I was very conscious of the feeling of fucking nothing under me and wind batting me around a bit….mercifully soon enough I hear him calling out meters 400, 200, etc until I gently was placed on the ground (a crowd of people on a nearby balcony  were gawking,  mercifully I was not on the news !!!! ) …I was told to stay low as the sling rope was removed  and SAR tec took my vest, then it was time to get on the chopper …I was a little shaky I remember him placing my hiking boots on the steps to help me on.  Well, never been in a helicopter before ….it was an experience with me batting the window with every dip and swerve, nervously verbalizing my terror …this was VERY  entertaining to the flight crew.

Finally, a lady on the chopper put up a finger and indicated one  minute ….thank God !!!!!  We landed at the Wardens Office and I waited for the rest of my party to summit and take the Gondola down.  Upon entering the office, one of the Flight Crew said “Your first time on a helicopter?”.  “Yes”, I replied ( like no shit) …he said “Just remember when you tell people… you not only rode on a chopper, you dangled underneath one!”  All joking aside it has to be said that the Parks People and also the young fella from the Gondola  were quite amazing, the latter reassuring me that I was not the first that season to be rescued …hats off and a big thumbs up for my Rescuers that day.

So, after a quick visit to the loo and some information was taken from me …I waited for my team (husband, friend and brother), to collect me I was feeling pretty bad about not keeping my promise to my friend but I giggled realizing how she would have gotten a real kick out of it and probably scolded  me …

After a period of time my party arrived …..my husband in tears greeting me and almost not letting go…..no one was scolding me but all felt I was brave …..I felt so bad.  Troubled a whole team… a few arial jokes later and we were savoring prime rib and laughing about it.

A few days later it hit me hard and I was really beating myself up about it.  A quick phone call to my daughter helped me to realize I hadn’t let my friend down  …hell I had climbed 2000 ft …. In total, now by bucket list altitude sits at roughly 13,206 ft ….culmulative altitudes of all hikes so far ….makes me wonder if I could walk 19,000 ft …..best not, I am sure helicopter pilots have much better things to do …lol.

So now I am left with 5794 ft of altitude and a number of choices present themselves  …stay tuned  and as a post script I will be carrying her pic when I finish . …I  wish she was still here to share it with me.

The angst part of this is the realization that time marches on and can leave some goals in the dust……if I could talk to my younger self I would tell her to go for it, get busy and do it all.  I also have a new respect for the mountain and the level of fitness needed to hike it. No small feat.sulphur

I wont give up hiking but, I will need to re-evaluate my abilities within constraints of age and my chronic illness.  I love the outdoors and a bad day in the forest or on the mountain beats any good day otherwise.  For me it is a spiritual experience…has a real impact on my peace and happiness.  I won’t give up, I will just do it smarter…and Her picture will come along on many more adventures.  I will keep my promise.  Rest in Peace TLL.

 

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she is gone

Hello   again …. much has happened and I have yet to make sense of it all …I figured putting my thoughts in writing may help..bear with me .

As the title suggests my friend spoken of in a  previous blog has passed away….

This was not totally unexpected and yet she, at that moment ,was doing pretty good .

She was concerned about yet another surgery and expressed anxiety about going into the hospital  again….to make a long story short her heart stopped .

I know she is no longer in pain , now, that should make me happy ..but I still miss her.

We say sometimes say  about our friends “I dont know what I would do without you” . I will try to convey  what life is like without her .

Just the other day when the morning was quiet I thought  about texting  her ….then in a moment I realized I couldn’t. No more phone calls or visits , no more  laughing over the Big Bang finale . No more reminiscing over past memories or planning future vacations, no more sharing photos ….

Even just saying she is gone still bothers me, my mind knows but my heart has yet to completely accept it .

It is hard to take photos knowing she will never see them ….to enjoy a sunset when she can’t see it….I know in time it will get better ….but some days are tougher than others.

I am trying to focus on the precious time she was my friend; the smiles and the good times we had .

I also know there are days coming when I will feel sad and overcome with grief .

For now I will try to see the beauty in nature and the joy in my life, and feel grateful she was a part of it , am sorry she can never hear how much she meant to me, I tried to make sure she knew  that ….

Rest in peace dear friend , I will always treasure your memory

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life after 50/ my friend

Hello again ….its been a busy  few months for sure . I have been in a step challenge and a in training to climb/hike  small mountain in Banff . When I go I will take in my heart  my friend of 50 years .

First a little background , my friend and I have known each other for 50 years , longer than some marriages last . During that time we have had our moments and issues …but never have been able to remember a time in my life when she was not there for me . She was the product of a divorced family , back then it was a bad thing , and also had some lack of pigmentation to her skin . All these things led to her being punted from most kids. This made her a very compassionate person and fiercely loyal to her friends .  We shared an interesting childhood together and remained friends after high school . I recall one beautiful memory of an outdoor midway in the summer a whole bunch of us going on a really giant Ferris Wheel  it was late at night  and right at the top as we were stopped the fireworks went off .. it was magical. Soon enough though we moved a way from the small town we were from and ventured into the Big City had no idea who we were and what to expect . My friend was in trade school and another friend was in college I was working so we logically became roommates. There were good times and bad … a few more memorable included the night she made yorkshire pudding and left the oil heating …..we were engrossed in a Disney cartoon , heard a knock on the door and were astounded to see smoke everywhere….our landlords had seen smoke coming through the vents upstairs and panicked !!! Another time on  I guess on a hot day we got rather testy and someone threw a glass of water  ….well glasses turned to bowls and bowls turned to buckets  with the outcome being me blow drying my sheets at 11:00 pm while they laughed in my doorway… eventually I moved away and got married .My friend also got married and followed her hubby to Europe  . She had a child there and  they moved back to Canada to east coast I got to see her on visits home and saw her on a brief trip to the east coast

Eventually she moved back to our province and there they had another child . I recall her visiting me with him I think we may have had our daughter by then too.

When my first marriage fell apart, she was there . When I started to date again ,she was there. When I got married she was a huge part of my day. I was not a me-first bride this time but shared my day by making her into a beautiful version of my dear friend , this makes me happy, even to this day , her hubby says its his favorite picture of her …me too. she told me later she was very touched to be included in my wedding and found the experience a lot of fun , so glad she did she was a really big help!

Back in 2003  a phone call ..her heart was not good and they were putting her on a transplant list . She declined and said I am going to fight, she did , and gained back some use of her heart …during this time she travelled a lot to places she needed to see, she seemed to know she was on borrowed time .

The first inkling of trouble came before my wedding  she had to have some  bit of her toe removed  …very upset because she could not wear the shoes she had bought especially for the day…I was just happy she was there. She had been on IV antibiotics for a bone infection. She was happy not to be dragging an IV pole down the aisle .

Her health seemed to plummet right after our wedding for infection more thing cut off until finally she had her leg amputated. She spent months in the hospital and had it moulded to fit a prosthetic ,only to have even more of it amputated  later . So …we should be good now right? …wrong! this spring she lost the other leg…did I mention she is also on dialysis ??? Now her port for it got infected badly …currently she is waiting to lose a digit  which has necrotised…

I am slowly coming to terms with the knowledge that my friend who was always there for  me may not be very soon . There are some pockets of my brain that are not liking this thought , but through my sadness and tears I realize she is getting tired of this crap life has handed her.

An update: she continues to  fight, we continue to hope , and since weather prevented from my chosen climb this fall …I am once again planning a climb . During a phone convo with her she said ” be my feet,  climb it for me ” . This is the one thing I can do for her how I can be there for her ..through my tears I vow to do just so for my dear friend .

 

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life after 50/ best holiday ever !!!!

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Wow Have I ever neglected this …..high time I talked about  a lovely vacation in Palm Desert …names will be withheld to protect the not so innocent …

About three years ago my lovely husband introduced me to this magical warm and lovely world that is southern California’s best kept secret…. it was so magical and warm , our trip was a much belated honeymoon …and it was so short , we vowed to go back . Fast forward three years and me losing weight becoming way more active and voila  we are again planning a trip with extra people …two tennis buddies are along for the experience as well.

Hats off to my hubby who booked and re-booked and rebooked  and rebooked to get us a deal…I remember joking to him that we had better not have six cars waiting for us at the airport!!! Every night he bird dogged the websites looking and hoping for good airfares ….he was  successful, and along with private accommodation from someone we know , made the trip doable .

We had planning meetings, and being my husband, he was über organized , giving everyone agendas and reminders . One thing you can’t plan is how well people are going to get along …I was not worried ,but  was not sure about it .

The day comes….tennis buddy #1 (we will call him) shows up ON TIME with coffee for us …damn I had money riding on him being late!!!…we drive to the airport ….new shiny terminal niiiiiccce….check in then, lovely breakie at the restaurant ..(Wolfgang Puck’s does a nice breakie )..  we board …so far so good  ….we notice the weather appears to be going to pot outside (snow) so we had a delay ….but before long we were in the air and on our way…

In a few short hours we arrive at PSP …and it appeared so did EVERYONE  else …was it the delay or a tennis tournament , in any event  queues were insane to get at the car rental but only after one and a half  hours ( sarcasm intended)  we were on our way …..(side note to certain car rental  companies a SIGN   indicating  where fast track people could queue  would have been  a good idea !!!)

We arrive at our accommodation  and the owner lets us in …we look around  and wisely wait till after he leaves to squeal with delight !!!! IT WAS GORGEOUS!!!

We had two patios ,and three bedrooms, full kitchen and two full baths..all very well furnished including two dining areas …wow !!!

We make a trek to a big box store to procure supplies  for the first week ….four people going in different directions ..just when we found tennis buddy #1 , tennis buddy #2 would take off for a forgotten item …if you have ever tried to herd cats , you will get this ..finally home to the condo and drinks on the patio at last !!!!! AHHHHH

We settle into  a routine ;in the morning we all have coffee ,rustle up our own versions of a breakfast, and the gentlemen head to the courts for three hours of tennis while I don sneakers and head for the walkways ..we regroup with a light lunch and plan the rest of the day …23755853_1636271349729565_1348010829_n

Every day we would be visited by delightful friend #1 who is fond of the drink and likes to smoke ( he pretends his wife doesn’t know, his wife pretends not to know). This would be preceded by us asking the question ” wonder when —– will show up ??” …and on cue , he there he was !!! it was hilarious !!! He provided us with many good things , an excuse to drink, no matter what time of day it was…and really fun expletive laced conversation…we love him!!! Even after we got home , a part of me was wishing he would show up on our deck…

Now delightful friend #1 has a lovely cultured petite lady for a wife she is well-educated and very lovely..which  makes us wonder what the hell she is doing with delightful friend #1… Now  said delightful friends wife also was a major player in a significant event . I mentioned that I wanted to do the “cross hike ” a really popular spot with the locals and visitors alike . This was no beginners hike unless you are über fit  ( I am not)  our delightful friends wife and daughter were doing this hike  and agreed to take me along .

I have found out since then that this hike was one some of the people we know  failed to summit on …indeed there is a cautionary sign  at the trailhead letting you know you will be liable  for costs  of an evacuation . I also found out after this hike that delightful friend #1  had bet his daughter $10 I would not make it to the cross . This trail can get very hot in the desert sun and there are places with scree and footholds are not always obvious.

So on a sunday morning I set out . Full of apprehension…..would I succeed , or  would I fail or worse injure myself and ruin everyone’s holiday . All of these thoughts swirled in my head as I approached the base of the trail . Perhaps this was why all my ID was In the car …brought  along in case of an ‘incident’ .

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Very quickly things got vertical and before long we were at the shade structure and the only water source for the whole hike . So far so good …I thought and my hiking companions assured me that I only had two more steep sections (yeah right ) try at least four more ….it was unnerving because as you gained altitude on the narrow width trail you had people passing you and don’t even get me started about the fools on their mountain bikes !!!! Yes I said  mountain bikes….. really!!! I would stop frequently and swig water or take some photos ….but on and on I trudged another switch back , and another… and when I thought they were over yet another …but then the top was in view  and I got small  dose  of summit fever ….. one more steep section and then I was There .Holy Crap I did it !!!!!!! I did it !!!!  643 ft!! It was not till I arrived back at the condo  ..I felt something so unusual pride ,no, satisfaction , yes, but with a side of elation and joy. I know it was only 643 ft but hey I am not young and had not hiked  since the mid 80s . It was at this point , while I was basking in gratitude for being in one piece , a hummingbird flew around  hovering around me …I was awestruck in that  moment . I wonder to this day what it could mean and I know this sounds too hippy  for most , but the thought did cross my mind it could have been the spirit of  my late father , letting me know he was proud of me .. I like to think this so please just let me …

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Well this was just the beginning of  so many wonderful experiences ….we got to experience wonderful meals  (Jamaican jerk chicken , succulent barbecqued steaks  and my special ribs …) all on the patio …on one occasion tennis buddy #1 opened some bubbly … and , a short time later  ‘drunk’ Laurie showed up …( bubbles do hit you its true) .lots of laughter and fun ..( and the job of grilling the steaks that night was wisely taken from me )..that night could not have been better .

One morning at breakfast  tennis buddy #2 said “we are only two hours away from the ocean ”  and after a 3 to 1 vote we were on our way to Newport Beach. God bless you tennis buddy  #2. I was so excited I could squeal…. a few days later and my toes found their way into the pacific… While journeying there we saw a corvette or similar  car with plates that said Lucas 1. Hmmm… we tried so hard to see who was driving but alas he took the LA exit before we could see …we like to think it may have been George …no matter.

While at Newport Beach we saw surfers of all sorts, fully garbed in wet suits. It was made patently obvious that we were Canadian by the fact the tennis buddy #1 and #2  were in the waves bare-chested , they had so much fun !!!! I for my part snapped photos and walked in the water along the beach …just loving the moment of crossing this off my bucket list. I must say having tennis buddy #1 and #2 along was so sweet it was like I had  two older brothers along , they were delightful !!!

 

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Mostly I loved being on vacation  every morning swimming ..every day walking , the flowers, the smell, how the sky got so pink at night .  It was really sad to leave on that last day , but we made the most of it . Tennis buddy #2 managed to give  Delightful friends wife and I a private tai chi lesson , palm trees and mountains in the background gorgeous  Even now thinking about it makes me smile …and sigh .I miss Cali but home is home . In the middle of this cold winter  I remember it and smile and look forward to the next time.

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Life after 50/Kitty

We all have a favourite pet one that is friendly loveable and cuddly ….then we have other pets  we really wonder why we keep  around  . Our Kitty was just such a pet, a long-haired  rag doll cat , she carried herself with an air the would have done royalty proud . She hissed more than she purred and avoided most human contact .

Even before I had made her acquaintance , Kitty was a  diva could not be with other cats , because they attacked her , no wonder she was standoffish!!!

I first made the acquaintance with Her Majesty in October 2009 , when I met all of the pets in my  new mans life….she was ambivalent  to say the least . Only very rarely and occasionally did she  make a move …one time even siting on my lap and purring for a few minutes ( thought I was a cat whisperer!!!) well mostly she squirmed, meowed and struggled , leaving me with empty and rather scratched arms

In February of 2011 we were engaged and my fiance informed HM I was to be her new ‘mother’ if  we are going by her looks , she would have said “the hell you will ” and showed classic sibling rivalry  symptoms . She was after all the key woman in his life , and did not want to be replaced. Week after week I would pick her up …week after week she meow and leap from my arms , leaving a visible memento of each occasion (ouch).

One day not long after we moved in together,  I remember hearing loud hissing coming form the basement one day. Was it the hot water??? the furnace ??? Ah no it was Kitty standing in front of a mirror hissing at herself !!! I could have died laughing !!!!She would also protect us from all menaces, such as the neighbors cat (very loud howling to alert us ) and in one memorable occasion as I was saying goodbye to guests,  she ACTUALLY HISSED  at them!!!!!!

I learned eventually to limit her time in my arms and read her better, after not even a year of our marriage, and a  move, our daughter moved in and we had a new kitten on the scene…..proved to be  a worthy adversary . She was not amused and would have none of it . Standoffs and hisses …pouncing …all harmless yet I wondered how hard it must have been for her . Looking back it probably kept her going ….it was always a mystery as to who started what ( if you have two toddlers  you will understand ) and we coped the best we could .

Sometime after new kitten showed up Kitty had medical issues and  was diagnosed with FLUTID a disorder of the urinary tract which can happen to older cats . She was given a monthly cartrophen shot . It seemed to work ….we blithely went along  not really noticing we were on borrowed time with her , we had no idea how much we had already borrowed…

She would come home from the vets and turn her heels on me and I swear  ‘yell’ at me !!! Until she was appeased with an offering of wet food …then all was well until the next shot.She would beg for food and it must be said got rather aggressive in her attempts to procure  even a morsel of our coveted food . She was quite “verbal” about it …really a nag with the meowing I still feel bad, looking back, about not giving in had I know how close she was to the end, what did it matter ??  We had noticed she was becoming much more cuddly tolerating extended periods of stroking while in our arms ….it was lovely and I still miss it.

She also went through an episode  of vomiting …and of course the target was a set of much-loved cushions  that  were beautiful and embroidered….and thankfully, as it turns out, washable !!!! Poor Kitty I must confess not being impressed …but I did feel sorry for her, poor kitty !!!!

After one vet visit  and a new medication  Kitty seemed “off” . She started to not eat as much and was  not her normal happy self ….she was staggering and vomiting …by that friday a call was made to the vet and it was obvious she was in kidney failure ….through tears we scheduled her euthanasia for the following Monday….we had the weekend with her .We  took pictures and held her ..loved her and cherished those moments.

We hoped she would be ok till Monday …but Sunday she was having trouble walking and barely eating …it was clear she needed help , a call was made and it was done . Never easy, we miss her still, talk about her personality , how she would play with her favourite red mouse, and the minute we looked at her , she would stop….

She was so little and yet left such a hole in our life ….house was so quiet now no meowing , no purring …

Even now the scratches on my arms are gone ….I  still have to stop myself from asking how her day was ..or looking to the sofa for her to still be there , or turning down music that might be too loud for her  There is no one by our side when eating, to beg for food. She was a very real part of our courtship and marriage, she witnessed the Christmases , the Halloween parties the triumphs and sorrows. She was there when my daughter moved out  …it almost feels like an era has ended with her passing. She was a silent observer of our life story, passing no judgement, except for the odd meow.   We loved her and we will always miss her little soft purring life .Sleep sweet Kitty rest in pace.

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life after 50/ no one told me

11088398_910070529016321_2561299079906728829_nHello gentle readers, well it has finally happened. The nest is now officially empty .

I know this is normal, expected , dare I say, in some cases, hoped for.  I really wish someone could explain that to my heart .My daughter moved in with us a few short years ago to, as we said , reset her compass…was only supposed to be for a year, and it turned into three.

My relationship with my child, my daughter , runs deep as I was a single mom for eight years, you could say our bond was deep , in the same sense as the ocean is somewhat deep.

We did so much together , and we laughed so much . We shopped, walked,  had coffee, did yoga, planned major events and holidays.

We shared sad times and happy times and quiet times . We laughed mocked and scorned together , laughed at the cat together.

We worked together to plant a garden and flowers , a memory so treasured now .

We cooked together and ate together with my dear husband , we were a family together.we celebrated holidays together and decorated ( mostly her ) for them with gusto.

Then there was talk of a move not an hour or two away , but across the country…I held my breath and my tongue , not sure if this time it would actually happen , (it had been discussed and shelved before). Talk turned to real plans this time …and I knew it would be alright, that she had to do this and was ready for it .

We both prepared for her departure in different ways , she readied her cat and saved money for the move and contingency fund ….I embarked on  what could be described as a fourth grader mom’s attempt at documenting her  life with us . I did a photo book,  a collage,  and fingerprint pictures ( do not judge me ..it looks nice ). We went to all her favorite restaurants and haunts. I was kept busy helping her with all this  and her prep for moving , her cellphone was full of lists. It was good, meant fewer teary days in front of her  On some level she knew my heart was breaking but, I also knew she HAD  to do this , had to start her life, her own life on her own terms , not dictated by her  mom and stepdad.

Now I know we are  family still and she has not died  , right ? (I get it) …but my heart is empty now too , it misses this incredible young lady  and all she brought to my life.

If it was up to me those bubbly and cheery books for raising a child would contain a chapter on what happens when they leave…..basically warn you that your heart is about to be broken in a way you could not have ever imagined.

They should tell you that every time you think of them you will cry a bit , and then carry on, that people will be somewhat sympathetic , for a while at least, and others won’t see what the BIG DEAL is ( those people are childless)… and , how similar to a miscarriage , (yes I know she is still alive , but bear with me ) you are expected to just shut up about it and deal, no biggie.. right ??? Except it is a big deal to me , I want to scream,  I miss her like a flower misses water . How do I convince my heart ??? What do I say ???  …. And what do I fill my life with ??? I am a Mom ….it’s all I know to be ….I miss that

I miss coming up the drive and knowing she will be there , with her cat ,…. the house is quiet emptier now . I miss doing yoga with her, every time I unfurl my mat ….and I miss gardening with her .with every flower I plant…I miss her way of keeping me politically correct when I venture into the realm of being an asshole. I admire that she has opened my heart to new things and has made me a better person for it. I miss the friends she brought to our house and the joy of large breakfasts with all of us there. I just miss her.

I realize this is a new opportunity to redefine who I am , to seize and opportunity and live for myself a bit more , but for now I need to mourn it and come to terms with it , make peace with it somehow..who knows …..maybe I could suggest an edit for all the baby books???

 

 

 

 

 

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