Friday, October 31, 2003


Ah,  Earlier in my journal I was talking about how much I DIDN'T want to go back to work.  And yet I did.  Why?  There's so much history to this, it'll hardly fit into one of these little journal entries.

I started working full-time in the restaurant business thirty years ago, when I was eighteen.  I always felt bad about what I did for a living, thought it was somehow beneath me.  I SHOULD have gone to college, should have had A Career.  But, when I was seventeen, graduating high school with NO idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, my family didn't have the money to send me off to college to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  And I didn't WANT anything badly enough to put myself through college.

So I got a job at a local pizza parlor,  and the rest is history.  It seems like menial work, but the ride was rarely easy.  I was an intelligent female in a world dominated by men.  Probably, I took my lumps like any working woman of my generation.  I had some successes.  But, all in all, I was miserable working for other people who had less vision, less intelligence, but more money than I had.  And I had the added misfortune of  working for several small business owners or managers who were really certifiable.  I dreamed of having my own business some day.

Thanks to my father-in-law's estate, I HAVE my own business now.  But it's harder than I thought it would be to transition from working woman to business owner.  My concession trailer is a seasonal thing...I basically have the winter off.  That's a good thing, right?  Well, I was just about going crazy after the first month of being a woman of leisure.  It's HARD not to work after you've worked for thirty years.  It seems I need the structure of a job to make the rest of my life fall into place.  So, much as I wanted NOT to, I went back to the old part-time job at the Assisted Living Community.  I cook meals for old people twice a week.  It keeps me sane.

Global Warming?

So, tonight we're going to experience the first freeze of the season.  Wait a minute...wasn't it just last weekend that temperatures were in the seventies,and we were all saying how weird this weather was for the end of October in Oregon?  Now, they're talking about record lows in the next two days.  This is definitely NOT usual for this time of year...or for Oregon at all, for that matter.  We don't DO extreme temperature swings like this.  I begin to wonder if global climate change isn't a much more dangerous and immediate problem than we have all been wanting to admit.

I packed all the container plants I cared about into my little $200 portable greenhouse this evening when I got home from work.  (Work?  Oh, yeah, that's a story for another entry.)  I hope they're all safely bedded down for the winter, and that I'll have some success bringing them out of hibernation next spring. 

But there are the other plants--the annuals in the beds in front of the house, that I know are doomed.  I will go out tomorrow morning and they will be piles of green mush...massacred by the frost.  I thought of pulling them out of the beds today, before they died, but I couldn't.  I felt that they deserved to die in dignity with their "roots" on.  Outside with the dog this evening, I had the oddest feeling.  I could almost HEAR them dying.  I felt such sadness.  Not for the end of the summer or the coming of the cold weather, but for the plants themselves.  They have such a brief life, that is so much dictated by things beyond their control.  Yes... it's nature. It is The Order of Things.  But it's still sad. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

More fun with Pictures

Every Web Journal I've read has this same picture frenzy in it when the writer finally finds out how to put pictures in it.  This is my attempt to put a smaller picture in....since my last two were rather HUGE (beautfiul, but huge.)

This is one of member of "the Zoo" -- our cat family (of six.)  This is "Bebe" (pronounced bee-bee, like the gun.)  It's a known fact, at least in our house, that an animal never retains its original name.  The story of Bebe is this:  I wanted to name her "Tup-tim," (after a character in The King & I).  Husband decided on "Ming", which I never really liked, but it stuck...for awhile.  Until I got into the habit of coming home from work and calling out, "Where's my bebe?"  (baby talk"baby.")  And she started answering to it.  So she has no idea her name is "Ming," and we haven't called her that for years.  Makes it interesting when you take her to the vet..."What's the cat's name?"   Haven't been brave enough to tell any vet we call her "Bebe"...too hard to explain, and, well, you sort of had to be there...  The veterinary world will always know her as "Ming." 

Oh. boy, I can do big pictures

I had such picture envy for other people's journals.  Everybody seemed to know the secret of putting big, borderless pictures in their journals...except me.  Well, thanks to Mary (Alphawoman1) I now know the secret.  Look out, y'all!

The picture above is of my dog, Lucy, going off on her "it's-all-about-the-dog-at-the-beach" trip.  And that other character in the picture is...well, just some guy I met at the beach (heh-heh.)

When it comes to my dog, she is ALL about the beach.  Specifically, playing with the dog on the beach.  As soon as we hit the sand, she starts popping up and down, performing these spectacular head-high "sproings" from a standing start.  Don't know how she does it.  This is our signal to find a stick for the dog to chase on the beach.  Woe be to you if you do NOT find a stick.  Then, you needs must throw said stick, for the dog to chase and bring back to you, to throw infinitum.  I really don't know how long she would chase if you were willing to keep throwing.  Probably forever...haven't tested that theory yet.

And then there is the drama of the walk TO and FROM the beach.  The beach approach has dog with head up, tail wagging, straining forward on the leash.  LEAVING the beach, however, finds dog with head down, tail dragging, and being dragged herself behind the humans who are cruel enough to take her away form the beach.  Back in camp, she literally sulks for hours.  My dog, the drama queen.

Monday, October 27, 2003


Well, we just got back from a week at the Oregon Coast.  Couldn't have had better weather if we had ordered it in advance.   Every day warm, sunny, not too windy...and this is NOT usual for the Oregon coast in October.  In ANY month, really.  Someone was smiling on us...

We didn't do much.  Relaxed, shopped, walked on the beach with the dog, built campfires in the evenings, enjoyed the wildlife.  We went down to Bandon; haven't been there in almost six years.  Still a lot the same...things don't change too quickly anywhere in Oregon, as a general rule.  Some new shops in Old Town, but those come and go practically yearly, anyway.  Didn't buy too much CRAP.  I've been trying to cut down on my rampant consumerism disease.

We did have several good, deep conversations about our relationship and where it has been the last five years, where it should be heading.  Not easy to have these discussions  There's a certain amount of dredging up of old stuff--stuff we'd rather not talk about--that has to be done in order to clean it up and make a base for a new, spiffed up relationship.  We had to come to realize we're NOT where we'd like to be with each other...figure out how we got there, and how to get back where we want to be.  I wondered aloud how my family would react if they knew we spent difficult hours dealing with our marital problems.  One sister's husband is in jail for the next ten years. One has been married for 13 years to an obsessive compulsive verbal abuser.  And one sister is the caretaker in a twenty-year marriage to a middle aged beer-a-holic recently diagnosed with heart disease.   So... my sisters have never been a good sounding board for my relationship problems with my husband!  They think I have it easy...and, compared to them, I do. 

But we've been on a rocky road over the last five years, and we're just now starting to climb out of that pit to the promise of something better.  This past week at the coast put us well along a new, smoother road.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Little Women

With the husband out of town, I took the opportunity to engage in a little emotional indulgence.  I poured myself a glass of wine, cranked up the VCR, and sat down to watch "Little Women."  The 1995 version with Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon.

I CANNOT watch this movie without bawling.  In fact, I roll it out when I feel in need of a good, cleansing cry.  How warped is THAT?  Besides the fact that the actual story is sad, it tugs my heart in a very personal way.  I invariably connect it to my memories of Joyce, my  sister who died 8 years ago. 

Joyce was the oldest, I the youngest, of us five girls.  She was eight years older than I...a vast canyon when you're little.  She was more like my mother than my sister, used to read to us all the time.  Books like...Little Women. 

But as we grew up, those 8 years seemed to shrink. By the time I left her behind in Illinois to move to Oregon, Joyce and I had a close, yet strained relationship.  Trying to go from the big sister/little sister thing, to being real adult friends.  The distance proved to enhance our relationship.  I was determined to keep her close, and not let her think that we had all moved away and forgotten about her, as the rest of the sisters actually HAD.  She clung to me like a lifeline.  And then she got sick and died.

It looks strange to sum it up so succinctly.  So much to impossible to put into words.  She got deathly ill..I went home to Illinois to try to love her back to health.  She died, and her family fell apart.  I tried to scrape them all back together, but I failed.  For reasons unknown, they buried her out here, in the same cemetery in Eugene where my father was buried four years later.  So what I have  left of her is her sad, lonely grave, down the hill from Dad's.  I don't feel her there. Don't talk to her there.  But somehow, I know she'd want someone to go there once in awhile.  So I go.

And now and then, I sit down and watch "Little Women." 

Mom and Dad

For some reason, I maintain this fantasy that, growing up in the sixties, my family WAS "The Donna Reed" show.  And then somehow, as we grew up, all that fell apart and we became "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."  When I really LOOK back at it, I realize we were never perfect; much like other families of the time, that had young post-war couples raising large broods of baby-boom children.  They were EXPECTED to marry, EXPECTED to raise families.  Never mind that many of them weren't particularly suited to being parents. 

In your twenties, you spend a lot of emotional energy separating yourself from your family...trying your wings, as it were.  In your thirties, you start to realize how your parents' parenting formed large portions of your personality.  You start to blame them for your neuroses.  Understand how their failures became your own.  And resent them for it.

When you hit forty, and the old man and old lady are shrinking before your eyes, and you realize they won't be around forever, you start to forgive.  You come to the great epiphany that Mom and Dad didn't wake up every morning trying to think up ways to ruin your life.  Most often, they did the best they could with what they had.  And they made mistakes.  They are human, after all. 

I suppose if I had children, these realizations would have come to me sooner, and through experience rather than contemplation.  I have this sort of third party, standing back and observing point of view, as I see my contemporaries go through with their children what we went through with our parents, only from the other side of the generational fence.  And, really, I don't think I have what it would have taken to be a good parent.  If my children had rejected me, as they DO...I would have been hurt beyond endurance.  For this reason, I'm glad I HAD the choice not to become a parent.  Even though, when you reach this age childless, you start to wonder what you will be leaving behind when you go.   

Wednesday, October 15, 2003


Had a huge fight with the husband the other day.  Won't go into the gorey details, but the main theme of it all was what we do with the other person's venting.  I had a really hard time after my Dad died, and my sisters and I were at each others' throats...and husband was the only person I had to lay it all on.  Long before I had talked it out enough to work through it, he made it clear that he didn't want to hear about it anymore.  Basically, he said that he was tired of hearing the same things over and over when there was no movement toward a resolution.

I was catastrophically hurt at the time.  And held on to that hurt for a long time, even to this day.  I'll never feel comfortable again telling him in depth how I feel about anything.  But I got to thinking, when we are venting our frustrations or hurts to someone else, how exactly DO we want the vented-upon party to react?  Do we want advice or counsel?  I don't think so.  Do we want someone to pat us on the back and say, "oh poor baby...?'  I don't think THAT is what I was looking for either.  I tried to really think about what reaction he could have had that would have made me happy.  And I couldn't come up with one.  So, is it really fair to hold a grudge about the whole episode?

No, it ISN'T fair to be mad at him because he was the instrument through which I learned one of life's tough lessons.  Which is:  You can't pile your emotional burdens on someone else.  In the end, we all have to deal with our stuff alone, and it creates more problems than it solves to try to get someone else involved, even if that person is your closest friend.  Maybe, when all is said and done, I have never really understood the concept of friendship.  Maybe that's why I have few friends.  Time after time, life proves to me that we come into this world alone, and we go out alone, and we are alone much of the time in between.  It's just the way it's nobody's fault.  Or maybe it's mine.

Thursday, October 9, 2003


Oh, and I guess I have to retract my fears about the California election.  Ahnold DID get what amounted to 49% of the vote, I guess.  But when you think about it, how screwed up is THAT?


Did I mention that I drag myself to the pool three times a week to do water aerobics?  I'm thinner, sleeker, and I have more energy than I used to...and I STILL have to do the major spin job for myself on the subject of vigorous exercise every MWF am.  Once I get myself out of the house and in the pool, I'm fine.  I just do the workout and everything's cool.  But it's so HARD for me to get there, and it doesn't get any easier.

And then, you have to deal with the other swimmers.  The pool is a culture unto itself.  Most of the exercise classes are filled with women (and men) who are more intent on socializing than on actually working out.  Which is why I didn't join a class...I just take my own equipment and do my own thing during lap swim time. And I'm sure the other pool-goers think I'm anti-social  (I keep coming back to that, somehow) because I figure I'm there to exercise my body, not my mouth.  By now, most of the other children have learned that "hi" or "good morning" are about all they're going to get out of me, so they let me be. 

There ARE a couple of really spooky old men who hang out at the pool.  One guy in particular totally grosses me out...  He swims laps, down the pool freestyle, backstroke back up the pool.  The whole time he's swimming on his back, he's...what would you call it....hucking and spitting?  Hocking lugies?  Stroke, stroke, hchckkk, THOO!  Absolutely makes me want to hurl my Slimfast!  He'd better pray he never hits me with one, lest the full fury of an arthritic, hot-flashing pre-menopausal maniac rain down upon him.    

Aches and Pains

After spending half the day yesterday worrying that I was having atypical angina, I figured out what I did to screw my back up.  I (reluctantly) went to the pool, thinking I would just skip any exercises that made me hurt.  My workout actually served to loosen up my back, so obviously that wasn't the problem.  Then I took the dog for a walk and we went to the field to throw her ball...BINGO.  Dog-ball-throwing made exactly the same muscles hurt in exactly the same way.

So why do I write about such a stupid, trivial episode?  It all has to do with the title of this journal--coming to terms with middle age.  I realize that I'm not as active as I was twenty years ago, but I'm not exactly a total couch potato, either.  Why is it that the most innocent little bit of physical exertion, if it's something that is not normally in my pattern of exercise for a day, can reduce me to a cripple?  Throwing the ball for the dog, for God's sake?  This is one thing I really HATE about getting basically hurts to move, but if you DON'T move, it hurts more.  I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but after awhile, it just wears you down.  Pile it on top of the lovely symptoms of menopause, and it's really no wonder so many women my age are so bitchy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Lousy Morning

God, I feel like crap this morning.  Woke up with a crick in my back just below my shoulder blade.  Makes it really pleasant to even move, much less think about going to the pool.  But go to the pool I will.

My life has become a showcase for how the differences between men and women can make a wife miserable.  Now, we've been married nearly 27 years, and I couldn't imagine my life without him...but sometimes I get fed up with this "men and women are just different" thing.  I've heard all the blather about how cultural, hormonal, and basic physiological differences make men and women see the world in vastly different ways.  And I even believe it.  But in pratice, you would think that two people who have spent 27 years in the same house could have made it to some common ground in between.

It's my misfortune that I have never had women friends, and I expect my husband to fill my need for human connection.  There was a time in our lives that I thought this was actually happening...unfortunately, lately he's given up even trying on that score. I'm wondering why, even while I'm reading articles on how we women just need to GET the differences between our husbands and ourselves.  Okay...then why can't he GET the differences between our views on sex?  It's pretty classic...I want the romance, the emotional connection, and he looks on sex as some kind of purgative calisthenics called for as soon as we hit the sheets at night.  No matter if we've been sitting in front of the tv for 3 hours and he's hardly said five words to me since he got home from work.  He doesn't understand why I can't turn desire on and off like a light-bulb.

The result of all this is, well, he's not getting everything he wants, and I'm not getting everything I want.  And maybe it's the hallmark of a good marriage--that we hang in there and keep trying.  We each know we'll get lucky once in awhile...

Sunday, October 5, 2003


I've been watching, horrified, the California gubernatorial fiasco. The rest of the country looks at California as the hub of all extremes of American life, a caricature. This episode is proving that opinion valid.  Perhaps the rest of the country can learn from this...some of the things that can go WRONG with the Democratic process in the hands of extremists with money.  Frightening that such a small minority of the electorate can wield enough clout to drag a sitting  governor of the opposing political party out of office, and set up the possibility of replacing him with a candidate of their own who will certainly not receive the nod of a majority of  voters.  If this can happen in California, how far is it from becoming a reality on a national scale? 

Oh, almost DID happen to Bill Clinton, didn't it? 

Thursday, October 2, 2003


I think I'm getting the hang of this not-working thing.  It occurred to me today that I should try being HAPPY that I don't have to work.  A hard thing to ask of someone who worked for a living for 25 years.  And hated all but about 5 or 6 of them...  I realized long ago, way back in my twenties, that I wasn't going to be happy working for anyone else.  When we first moved to Oregon, I wrote in my journal about my dreams of having my own business.  That was 19 years ago.  And it has finally happened (though not in the flambouyant and instantly successful way that I had always envisioned.)  Why can't I accept this and be happy?

My typical day lately is spent at least partly feeling worthless or guilty because I'm not working.  I know this is because I DID work for so many years, and much of my self-image was tied into my jobs...(considering my success rate at the jobs I've had, this explains why my self-image has been so dirt-poor most of the time.)  I look at this and I KNOW it's life is so much more than just what I do to earn money.  Why am I so invested in the work thing?  I'd say it's that good old pioneer Protestant work ethic, but I'm not Protestant.    But I'm older now, and I'd like to think wiser.  I should be able to make myself understand that I have worth outside the workaday arena. 

For years, I said to myself, "What would I do if I wasn't working?  I'd be bored to death being at home all the time!"  I look around the house now, and there are literally a million things I could be doing.  Between the house and the yard and my business, I'm really not hurting for things to keep me busy.  But as I told Donna the other day, after working for so many years, you get to where you don't know HOW to be at home.  Keeping a home can be--IS--a full-time job.  What I need to do is find out how to get the sense of accomplishment I crave, from creating a beautiful environment in which to live, rather than punching a clock for forty or more hours a week.  THAT is how I need to look at it--creating a healthy, nurturing environment for myself, my husband, and our little responsibilities--the animals.  I think I can do that... 



Okay, what gives?

Okay, so NOW what's going on?  Look at what happened to my last journal entry!  What's with all the plus signs?  It's obviously been coughed up in some gross state of underdevelopment.  It looks ghastly, like an aborted cyber-fetus or something.  Must've REALLY pissed off the technology gods!

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Do I need a job?

Well, I dutifully scanned the "Help Wanted" section of the local paper today.  Nothing in there that I would be interested in.  Can't think of anything I WOULD be interested in if it appeared.  I don't WANT a job.  That's why I started my own business.  It's my misfortune that the business I chose has a definite off-season.  It's not so much that we need the money, though it's always nice to have more.  But I KNOW I'm going to go stir crazy, and rather sooner than later.  Season has been over for a week and a half, and I'm already climbing the walls with boredom.  And isolation.

Gave some thought to going back to the old job, but I have to admit it doesn't have what I need.  What I need in a job right now is some social interaction...someone to talk to besides myself.  Working all alone for four hours every afternoon in a nursing home kitchen was NOT providing that for me.  In fact, the last several jobs I've had, over the last four years, have done nothing but add to my sense of isolation.  Makes me wonder if in fact I don't crave isolation more than companionship.  The places where I have had the most success have always been the ones where I spend most of my time alone.  In today's resume lingo, they call this being "self-directed."  I'm starting to think it should read "anti-social." 

But there has to be some middle ground, doesn't there?  So what if I'm not exactly a social butterfly?  Aren't there any places to work where I could really connect with maybe one or two other people?  If there are, I haven't found them.