Gratitude week 48

  1. I finished writing the census series. I did forget a couple of stories. I was required to wear a mask, but one day I forgot. I had to cross a busy street in a downpour to go to an apartment complex that was always locked. But that one time the door was open. I went upstairs and knocked on the door. It sounded like someone was home. I was mortified because after I knocked I realized I had forgotten my mask in the car. That was a time I was thankful no one answered. I’m grateful to be able to share my stories with you.
  2. I’m grateful that I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving this week with my best friend and her family. Apparently she called her parents to wish them a happy Thanksgiving and found out that her siblings were invited over for the holiday but she was not. She works at the hospital and her parents consider her high risk for COVID so she is not welcome for the holidays this year but her siblings are. They didn’t even tell her. I’m grateful that we could get together to celebrate. I feel hurt by my mom as well. She considers us high risk but she still gets together with other people. We could really use her support right now. I wonder how many other families are dealing with this.
  3. I am glad that I have 2 days left on my detox diet. I am saving the pumpkin pie my friend made for the morning I am done. I told my daughter Angel to please not make deviled eggs otherwise I would crack. We’ll save the devil for Christmas.
  4. Yesterday my husband and I found the perfect Christmas tree. Every year I try to pick a theme. It has been difficult this year because we aren’t in any shows. Sorry, but quarantine is a sucky theme. In a couple weeks, it will be the 20th anniversary of my grandpa’s passing. This year I decided to dedicate our tree in tribute to him. If it wasn’t for my grandparents there is a good chance I wouldn’t be telling you my story today. I put 20 candy canes on the tree and decorated it with the pine cones my grandfather made many years ago. I feel like I was directed to the perfect tree in remembrance of him. I’m grateful I have some good memories to pass on to my kids.
  5. My daughter Arabella is in the hospital again. This is the third time in the last four months. She has been diagnosed with Major Depression with Borderline traits. The suicide rate for Borderline is 10%. I can’t imagine what it is combined with depression. I’m grateful that for now she is safe. This year has been hell for a lot more than COVID. I am going to start a new series tomorrow that will explore this past year.
  6. As I was decorating my tree yesterday I was very dismayed by the selection of Christmas music, so I made my own Christmas playlist. It includes both sacred and secular songs. I have over 8 hours of playtime and have hit every single genre from opera, traditional, rap, reggae, polka, pop, rock, metal, instrumental, funny….
  7. We have entered the season of light. This has been such a horrific year that I decided to decorate my house with every single strand of Christmas lights I own. I am going to be grateful for Christmas this year even if I can’t leave the house.
  8. I am grateful I was able to see my craniosacral massage therapist this week.
  9. I’m grateful for the classic Christmas movies. Last night we watched It’s a Wonderful Life. It makes me wonder how I have impacted other peoples lives. What would the life of others be like if we were never born? Wow, that is deep. I really should watch a comedy or something.
  10. Yesterday I cleaned out Arabella’s frog cage. I’m not sure how it even happened but her frogs escaped in her room. I asked Angel to help me catch them but she is afraid of frogs. She just ran around the room screaming. I’m grateful I caught them. The cage is clean and everything turned out alright.
  11. My son and I ran into his old piano teacher at the grocery store. She was a very instrumental person in his life throughout his difficult teen years. It was wonderful to see her again and find her well.

Gratitude week 31

  1. I’m back after a short break! I’m grateful I didn’t fall off the side of the planet too. But isn’t the Earth round? Who knows anymore…
  2. Summer! I can’t get enough of it. Seriously, why do I still live in the frozen tundra??!?
  3. I’m grateful to have a wonderful spouse to enjoy 23 years of marriage with.
  4. I just started the census job yesterday. It feels good to be out working again. I’m trying to put in 40 hours a week. I’m hoping I can still find some extra time in the day to blog.
  5. I am grateful most of the people I’ve talked to have been nice for the census job. I have a new appreciation of people who go door to door unannounced, even more so now during the pandemic.
  6. I’m grateful that my husband and I were able to get away for a couple days of sailing for our anniversary.
  7. I’m grateful that my loved one ended up being released from the psych ward the end of last week. This person has some previously undiagnosed medical issues that may have been contributing to the depression they were experiencing. Not to mention this whole time period in general has been stressful. I am hopeful they are starting on their healing journey.
  8. It’s my moms birthday this week. I’m hoping I can talk her into a visit and maybe sailing.
  9. My daughter is visiting this weekend so I am looking forward to seeing her and can’t wait until she moves back home.
  10. It’s been over a year and a half since I worked so I am grateful to be contributing to the family income. Plus I have been feeling nervous/anxious/excited about working again even temporarily. A little excitement at my age never hurt anyone.

The ultimatum, part 10

After taking a couple weeks off of drinking in January, Paul had a new plan.

He was going to drink a bottle of wine every other night. His doctor said he shouldn’t have more than 14 drinks per week. With this plan, he was pretty close.

He didn’t have a problem not drinking when he didn’t drink. But he found the nights when he had a bottle of wine more challenging. Frequently when he was on his fourth glass, he no longer had the discipline to not drink a couple more. What if it was an extra large bottle of wine? Did that still count as one? He had a hard time leaving extra wine behind because that would throw off his count. What if he had a couple of mixed drinks and then started a bottle of wine?

I found myself angry and triggered on the drinking nights. If he went over I knew. At times I threatened to dump all the alcohol in the house out. He said I was wasting my money because he could just go to the store and buy more.

I tried to ignore him on the nights he was drinking. That also did not work well. It seemed to bother him that I avoided him and usually lead to an argument. Sometimes I would confront him if he started his fifth drink. That also didn’t work. The one that says please help me when he is sober also says leave me alone and stop controlling my life when he is drunk.

After several months he discovered that his plan did not work. He devised a new plan. He could have 2 drinks every day of the week. If there was a special occasion, he could have 4 drinks a day if he had two drinks at two separate times of day. For example, he could have two drinks at lunch and then two drinks at suppertime never having more than two drinks in his system at a time. If he had 4 drinks per day he would have to give up drinking another day of the week. This would keep him within the 14 drinks a week limit.

He had it down to a science. I told him if he followed this plan I wouldn’t give him a hard time about drinking ever again. Things were going well, really well in fact. But then he slipped this past week. I confronted him on it. He was upset at first, but he knew I was right. I am only trying to hold him accountable because I care about him.

I don’t like to be in the position of being the person that has to help him control his drinking. I don’t want to have to be the bad guy. He’s told me countless times that without me he would probably drink himself to death. I want to think that he would be fine without me. I think it will be something he will always struggle with.

He had made a lot of progress in this last year. For that I am thankful. I am happy to be an influencing factor in that change. He was willing to address his issues and grew a lot in the process. I have to give him a lot of credit for being willing to look at some negative things about himself. It hasn’t always been easy.

It’s our anniversary next week, 23 years. We are planning on getting away a few days on our sailboat. This year I am confident things will go well because we are taking a different path.

Gratitude week 22

  1. It felt good to go in for a haircut this past week. Funny story, when I got to my appointment I had a fever from sitting outside in my hot car. I was a little afraid she would turn me away. By the end of the appointment, I looked great and my temp was below normal.
  2. We finished painting the shed. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen at first because it seemed like a wild animal was living inside. Every time I got close it started clawing at the walls. But a few days later it was gone. Estelle, Arabella, and I started painting together. Then Estelle and Arabella started fighting. Estelle will be leaving soon. I will miss her a lot because she became like a daughter to me, but I will not miss the fighting. The shed will be a visual reminder that everything happens in its season.
  3. The month of May is over. I’m saddened by the state of this country and have to hope things will get better. Maybe this month…
  4. We were able to go back to church for the first time since the pandemic this past Sunday.
  5. The books I ordered came in the mail. I paged through Colitis for Dummies and learned more than what my doctor told me already. Apparently I am the 10-15% of the colitis population that has an undetermined cause. It could be ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s, but they really don’t know. I wish my doctor would’ve explained that to me.
  6. This past week I celebrated my 5th blogging anniversary. I’m still here!
  7. Today is the 2nd anniversary of moving into our house. I am thankful to be living in a house that I don’t mind being quarantined in.
  8. I am grateful to have a husband that loves to cook and is good at it.
  9. I’m grateful that my mouse issue was solved with replacing the batteries.
  10. I am grateful to be able to do a little planning and finally put some new things on my calendar after everything else has been crossed out. The funny thing as I was looking ahead at my wall calendar I put the wording on December’s photo as best year ever. Note to self: never put the words best year ever on a wall calendar in December…maybe in January.

I’m leaving

In about 24 hours I will be packing my bags and leaving this cold climate behind. I’ll be visiting a climate that is 100 degrees hotter than mine.

I will finish cleaning the house and doing loads of laundry. Soon I will create a packing list. I’m afraid of leaving something behind, something obvious like a camera or my passport. Don’t laugh, I’ve done things like that before. I packed a suitcase for my husband once and forgot underwear. The good news, my husband never asked me to pack his suitcase again. Last year my husband went on a sailing trip and forgot to pack any shirts.

We will be on an airplane for a total of almost 21 hours. 21 hours!!! The longest I’ve been on a plane is 6 hours and that freaked me out. We are heading to Thailand tomorrow and checking our first continent (outside of our own) off our bucket list.

What is it about traveling that makes everyone tell you about their horror story flights? Or bring up terrorists? Or plane crashes? The TV show Lost??

I’m not sure how I will handle the flight. I always have this irrational fear that I am going to start screaming on a plane. Kind of like the time I went on a roller coaster that was too much for me. I am afraid of being out of control.  I certainly won’t have any control over the plane. It makes me feel trapped.

Thankfully I have medication for that. I am going to start a stop watch on my phone after I take my medicine. A stop watch seems kind of creepy though. I don’t know any other way to keep track of time after skipping so many time zones. The last thing I want to do is OD on a plane. Yes, I suffer from chronic worry.

Since we are leaving Chicago right after midnight maybe I will sleep. But I sleep on planes like I sleep in the hospital. How can I sleep sitting straight up? Plus there is always noise…dinging from announcements, other people, hospital emergencies with a little turbulence thrown in..I always wondered why they hand out peanuts on planes. Don’t a lot of people have serious allergies to peanuts??

There is a 12 hour time change for us in Thailand. I am excited to finally see the world, it’s just the getting there that sucks! Sitting still and relaxing are not my things. Now if they had a treadmill on the plane…The more nervous I am, the more I want to move. I try not to let fear stop me. There is nothing like flying 21 hours one way to confront my fear of flying.

Paul and I are going to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We will be visiting with our old neighbors, and going on a tour. I promise to take lots of pictures and keep a journal. This will probably be the last time you hear from me for awhile. But I promise to tell you about it when we get back.

This will be the first time we are away from family and work for this long. We have family staying with the kids every night. The last time we went away things didn’t go very well. The dog tore up the linoleum in the bathroom. Alex got a rash and thought he had bedbugs (thankfully we didn’t). I expect the house to be trashed and a pile of work waiting for me when I get back.

But I think that having a break will be worth whatever we come back home to. I will try my hardest not to worry and to relax. It might be so nice that we won’t want to come back home..

Storms of Christmas past

This year my youngest daughter had her first high school choir concert on the day that my grandma died.

Let’s take a trip back in time to 1967. I wasn’t born yet. My mom was 19. My dad went off to Vietnam.

It was Christmastime. My grandparents were in the process of moving to a new town for my grandpa’s new job. My grandma was 43 and pregnant. Her oldest child, my aunt, was out of the house, married, and expecting her first child. My mom was in college. There were five children left at home and a new baby on the way.

My grandma wasn’t feeling well with her eighth pregnancy. She was on bed rest at the hospital but wrote letters to her family at the new house where no one knew them.

There was a snowstorm the night that she gave birth to a healthy baby girl. After the little baby girl took her first breath, my grandma took her last breath.

This month the baby girl turned 50. She had a big weight to carry the day she was born. She took the last breath of a mother of 8 when she took her first. I think she always felt guilty about it although no one could logically blame her for something not of her choosing. Then she took the life that her mother sacrificed to give her and made a big mess of it.

This month Uncle Rick threw my aunt a 50th birthday party before the choir concert. It was both a joyous and solemn occasion. Before the party, the siblings tearfully read the last letter that their mother wrote the night before she died. It wasn’t carefree and happy like the rest. It was as if she knew it would be her last.

At the choir concert that night, I sat with my mom on the 50th anniversary of her mother’s death. She told me that her mother was my age when she died and she was the same age as my oldest daughter. I felt sorrow for my mother. She really needed to have a mother in her life as the path she beat down was always rocky.

That night, I watched others perform my daughter’s songs from when she was in high school. My oldest daughter was not able to be there. It was hard to hear someone else sing ‘her’ songs. It hurt. Time was slipping by way too fast. It was also difficult to sit next to my mother on the anniversary of her mother’s death. I could feel the loss, the sadness, the nostalgia, the longing for something that was no longer there envelop me.

Day 5: Our 20th anniversary/Death’s Door

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Just like that, the weather changed and we had to leave the beauty of Washington Island behind. We had to leave early or risk being stuck on the island in bad weather for several days.

I got up early. I couldn’t sleep. I admit, I am a little nervous about the day to come. We are looking at strong winds and waves as we sail around Death’s Door (the tumultuous waters where the bay and Lake Michigan collide).

We fully suited up for foul weather in our rain coats over our pants and life jackets. The warm weather was gone. I felt like I was weighed down with a bullet proof vest.

It was rough heading out against the waves. There were 2 men on kayaks in the channel. One dressed for the weather with a life jacket and the other in just a swimsuit. It was nerve wracking trying to maneuver our sailboats around them. We were surrounded by shallow water.

Once again it was fun riding the waves at first. But then came the moment of panic. It was a get me out of here because I feel sick like turbulence on a plane.

We put the main sail up as we were sailing around Death’s Door. I was anxious keeping the boat in irons while Paul put up the sail. The waves were knocking the boat around making it hard to keep it in a straight path. We heeled the boat to the side to keep it in irons and it was a scary feeling. Paul tethered himself to the boat in case he fell off. It didn’t rain but we were wet from the waves crashing against the bow.

After we put up the main sail, we saw a trimaran sailboat struggle through the strong winds. They were moving very fast and we weren’t sure if they were in peril. Paul had me grab the binoculars and turn on the emergency radio while he steered closer to them. They gave us a thumbs up. Just a bunch a thrill seekers sailing the high winds through Death’s Door.

It would’ve been a very bad day for our vow renewal ceremony. I’m not sure where we were at the exact time we got married 20 years ago. I think it was close to the time that we were sailing underneath the parasailor. Paul wanted me to put the camera down and focus on getting to shore. I didn’t have time to count down the minutes to our exact anniversary. As we got closer to shore, the wind got stronger and the waves grew higher. We had difficulty earlier getting the sail down.

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There were several marinas near the area we were going to. We didn’t know which was the right marina or even how to get into it. We couldn’t see the opening. We were near Captain Tom who knew the way. We turned the boat around to follow him and got hit by the waves. We were soaking wet. It was hard to get to shore with the wind and waves as strong as they were. Things got a little messed up as someone was in Captain Tom’s slip. Finally our feet were on shore!

After relaxing for a minute, we were excited to finally have a hot shower after a couple days without. Everything was going great until I went to put on my makeup to go out for supper. The cover came off of my liquid foundation and it poured everywhere making a big mess. I had to throw out some makeup and my bag as wiping it up smeared it all over the place.

We went out to eat at the Wild Tomato. They had the best pizza, but they also had over an hour wait for a table. So we sat at the outside bar and listened to live music on a Wednesday night. Our group laughed and talked like we’ve known each other forever instead of just meeting. There was absolutely no conflict the whole trip. Everyone got along great.

That evening it cooled off. I could hear the wailing wind and crashing waves from my bed in the berth. It looks like the weather is going to be bad the next couple of days. We might get holed up here for a few more days.

 

 

Day 4: Vow Renewal Ceremony

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Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.  Ruth 1:16-17

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Captain Tom officiated our vow renewal ceremony on the beach. I read my original vows from the book of Ruth. Paul found a few words to speak online as he no longer had the original words. I sang Morning Has Broken and read a few words that I wrote.

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It seems like yesterday that I said these words to you.

I chose my vows from the book of Ruth. I remember getting criticism for stating the words ‘may the Lord deal with me be it ever so severely if anything but death separates you and me’. Could I keep that commitment not knowing the path before us? To think that Ruth said these words to her mother-in-law!!!

It has been a wonderful 20 years. I would like to think that we already encountered our hardest days in life before we met. Those struggles strengthened our determination to fight for us.

I recently heard it said that nothing changes much in a day but when we look back everything changed. What is 20 years? It is 7,300 days to be exact. Days that go by in tortoise speed but looking back it went by as quick as a hare.

I’ve heard that slow and steady wins the race, but not in any race I’ve ever competed in. But this is one race I want to face hand in hand slow and steady with you. I am not ready to finish this race fast and can’t wait to see what the next 20 years will bring.

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The day before our 20th anniversary (the vow renewal ceremony)

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Our wedding day.

 

Day 2: Fish Creek

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It was another rough start to the day’s cruise.

Captain Tom, the leader of the cruise, got his tank filled with gas. Problem was that he has a diesel engine. He was telling the story of the time someone almost filled his tank with gas to the young gas station attendant. Wait..what??!? You didn’t want gas? He already put in 3 gallons of gasoline.

We were waiting for Captain Tom to fuel up before heading out when his son-in-law came rushing over asking if we had a siphon. It took awhile to find something to siphon the gas with. I heard the harbor master speak hurriedly to his wife on the phone asking her to find something that could be used. Captain Tom was patient, didn’t swear at the young man, and kept his cool. This fiasco delayed us by a couple of hours, but we weren’t on a schedule.

In the meantime, we shared our horror stories about running and sailing. Quite a few of the sailors are athletes as well.

This morning the winds were ideal with 2 to 3 foot waves. Our destination today is Fish Creek, a tourist town.

I’m not feeling as anxious today, although I am wanting to write something for our vow renewing ceremony. I didn’t get very far. Paul and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary in a few days. As a ‘writer’, I want to create something meaningfully deep and profound. No pressure! I want to celebrate on the exact day and time we were married 20 years ago, but the weather looks iffy. Paul and I are planning on jumping off the back of Captain Tom’s boat afterwards.

We won’t be celebrating the day with family and close friends, but with complete strangers. To be honest, I wouldn’t invite half of the people that I did to my wedding if I got married again. Granted, some of our guests passed away.. I wouldn’t have the same people in my wedding party. I don’t know if they would even be invited, sadly. Friendships change, people change..The people I consider my best friends now I didn’t even know 20 years ago.

It is hot on the boat today. I was tempted to jump into the water that is over 100 feet deep. The sun beat down on us. Paul tried to make a shelter from the sun out of tarp. I simply took off my shirt (the other boats were far away). I leaned over the side and tried unsuccessfully to dip my toes in the bigger waves. 

The sky grew dark and it looked like we might be hit with storms on the open water. We started the motor, but once again it wasn’t working right. The motor died before making it into the harbor and we almost hit Captain Tom’s boat. I pushed our boat off of his carefully with my foot.

We were so sweltering hot when we got to the marina that we walked to the public beach nearby. The marina was packed with big boats. It seemed very crowded and hard to get to the beach even though it was close by. We could hear thunder in the distance but we didn’t care. The water was cool and refreshing. The storms parted around us.

Later in the evening we walked to a nearby pizza place for supper, but it was over an hour wait so we went somewhere else. Afterwards everyone went to bed early, but I was too upset to sleep.

Alex texted me during supper that he wanted to quit his job. He ended up staying out with his friends until 11 PM and had to get up for work in the morning at 4:30 AM. It had me stressed out.

I talked about it to a few people in the group. Captain Tom said that if you haven’t raised teenagers, then you can’t explain it. But if you have, no explanation is necessary. Captain Tom said when his son was 17 he left home for several weeks and wanted to drop out of school. As an adult, he is a successful business owner. Strangely it made me feel better.

Regardless, I slept poorly that night. Despite my worry, Alex made it to work on time.

 

 

This girl on the train

  

Sometimes people like a story of great tragedy, drama, and suspense. But not today, people, I’m on vacation. If you could call taking a few days off to run 18 miles a vacation, that is.

Last night, my husband and I stayed overnight in Milwaukee at The Brewhouse Inn and Suites. Only in WI can you stay at a hotel that was once a brewery. Across the street is a microbrewery that was once a church. We spent most of the evening at the bar and grill next door. We happened to be there eating during trivia night. The trivia turned to 80’s bands. I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, I had that tape back in the 80’s”. A young guy at the next table said that his mom did too. His mom?? As we looked around the room, we were the oldest ones there. Seems like we are either the oldest or youngest in the crowd lately. Ah, midlife…but still no pending crisis. 

It was a warm evening when we pulled in, probably the warmest of the year around 70 degrees. But today it is snowing at home. 

Before we left, my husband and I renewed our passports. For the first time, I listed my adult daughter as an emergency contact instead of my mom. It was a sobering experience. Paul’s mom passed away this year and she was younger than my mom. By the time it is time to renew my passport again, my mom will almost be 80. Yikes! 

Paul and I are planning on taking a trip for our 20th anniversary next winter. Twenty years doesn’t seem that long. Where did the time go? Then I look around at my closest friends, only one couple has been married longer. My two best friends have been married half as long on their second marriages.

At first I wanted to plan a trip to Bora Bora. But apparently February is their rainy season. The last thing I want to do is spend tons of money and be stuck indoors. Seriously, we are not newlyweds. 

This summer over our anniversary we are planning on going sailing for a week. I would like to sail to Washington Island on the tip of Door County. Believe it or not, I have never been there. I told my husband that wherever we are exactly at the time that we got married, we would do a little vow renewal. I am going to present him with a new wedding band since he lost his second at the theater. The first he broke fishing. Hobbies! 

I can see us pulling up to some beach somewhere decked out and asking a random stranger to participate. My husband exclaimed how spontaneous that was of me. Seriously, I am planning it all out right now!

Right now this girl is on the train. We left Milwaukee this morning and are heading to Michigan so I can do 18 miles of trail running with my cousin. It is supposed to be cold and rainy for the race. At least it won’t be snowing I guess. 

This is my first time on an Amtrak train. I did ride the subway in Chicago and a few old trains at museums. Please Europeans, stop laughing. 

I did see some Amish people waiting for the train at a table nearby. Their eyes were glued to the big screen TV behind me. I chuckled inwardly as they watched a pharmaceutical ad with their jaws dropped. Everyone else in the room did everything not to watch the commercials. I love people watching.

Here’s to the start of the racing season. Here’s to 18 miles of grueling trail running in the muddy rain. Here’s to our first long trip on a train. 

I’m going to try to not worry about the kids or work. It’s time for adventure..