Monday, December 29, 2008

One week left...

A week from today, I return to work. Ugh. Not that I don't like work, actually, it's one of the best jobs I've had in a long time, but it's that I've used up half my time off and have done NONE of the things on my project list. My family/friend dinner on the 26th was delicious, although my bro and nephew didn't come in from Palm Desert because Bob was sick. Big disappointment! (I really, really like my case you didn't know.) Good news: He's driving in today for leftovers. Bad news: it's another excuse to still not get started on my projects!

Yesterday, I helped my daughter by volunteering at the Community Faces booth for the South Bay Children's Museum. They were, in turn, helping another group, the Chula Vista Nature Center, which is being threatened with closure by the Chula Vista City Council because of--you guessed it--lack of funding. So, the Nature Center had a day of fund-raising at Bayside Park. It looked like they had a fairly good turnout. The media was certainly there! But, despite being in lovely San Diego, the SBCM's booth was in the shade, right in the path of a fierce wind from the bay and it was FREEZING! Well, at least it seemed that way to us San Diego wimps. We were all taking turns standing in the sunny spots and doing all we could to get warm. I think the cold kept a lot of the children from visiting the booth where they could draw a self-portrait or use the special paints for face-painting themselves and each other. I stayed about 2.5 hours and had to leave. I don't know how Connie and her friend Erica (the ExecDir for the museum) managed it for the full 4 hours!

When I left, I spent the rest of the day with my long-time friend, Connie Vickers (who happens to be my daughter's namesake). We visited at her house for a little while, then went to La Bella Pizza Garden for a DE-LEE-CIOUS late lunch/early dinner. La Bella has been around since the mid-50s, and it was a spot my family used to go to when I was a little girl! I grew up in Bonita and Sunnyside (little towns east of Chula Vista--so we had to go to Chula Vista to get to restaurants and stores back in those days), but when I came back to San Diego, I decided to buy a home in a completely different area of town, so I don't get to the old haunts often. Those old memories are nice when I want them, but I wouldn't want to have to live with them all the time!

Yesterday, I felt up to a little nostalgia and it was just fact, being with Connie and eating there was pretty special. (Side note: I went to La Bella with my new husband right after we got married by the judge in National City back in March 1967--Connie was there then, too! [The first Connie, that is! LOL!!] See? La Bella has a lot of memories that are usually best left in the past.)

It was a great day of both reminiscing and setting up thoughts for the future. Connie and I threw around some ideas for our Bucket List! Connie will be 60 this May, so she'll catch up with me then. We both need to add South America to our list of continents we discussed how that might happen some day... Hey! you've gotta start somewhere...

And, with 2009 almost here, what better way to spend an afternoon with an old friend?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Contented Christmas

It's about 7 pm on Christmas Day. I've had a peaceful, blessed day of connecting with friends, reading, and preparing a photojournal gift for Cheryl. By choice, I spent today alone. It's kinda weird, but it's been wonderful. My life is in a great place and my family and friends are, in most cases, better than ever. It's been a day of reflection and thought, and I've decided that I'm pretty happy to be me.

Don't worry, though...I'm definitely having Christmas events! Cheryl had a gathering of about a dozen family and friends at her home last night. She served us stew and a few loaves of killer garlic bread. Christmas Eve with her son, her granddaughters, my daughter, and various others who are all "family," is always a tour de force! Somehow, the love shows through and although we're all exhausted when they go home, we wouldn't have it any other way.

To meet my nephew's social calendar, tomorrow is my day to cook and act as host to the few remaining Garlands--Christine, Robert, and Parker (bet some of you didn't know that was my maiden name, did ya?). Of course, since Cher and I are family, she and her beau, Rick, and their good friend and boarder, Jim, will also be here. I decided to go all out for the dinner and bought a big prime rib. I plan to stuff it full of garlic (just like my mom used to do), season it, and roast it slowly until it's medium rare and juicy. I'm serving fresh green beans and a scalloped potato casserole to go with it. I wimped out on the dessert, though, and bought a frozen cheesecake from Sam's and a Dutch apple pie from Coco's. I can't seem to pull off the full Martha routine, although I do plan to have us all sit down together and use my grandmother's china. So, maybe being alone today was my way of making sure I had plenty of energy in reserve for tomorrow!

Some of that reflecting brought these things to mind (most are good things; a few are things that I pray will turn to good):

  • Rick is still working toward getting back to normal 7 months after his stroke. He's doing well, but he has a long way to do.
  • A good friend, Martin, is in the hospital with viral pneumonia. He's bad enough that they've put him into an induced coma so his lungs don't have to work so hard while they heal.
  • My friend Suzanna's daughter has had a tough year with several complications from kidney failure and other related problems.
  • My friend Janis, who has had breast cancer, has had it metastacize into her spine. At the moment, it's under control and the chemo is keeping it at bay, so we're all hopeful that prayers will continue to work for her.
  • Bruce, the husband of my dear friend Carmen, has had wonderful success with bone-marrow transplant and is doing well after months of very scary times. They just took him off the drugs that help the body not reject the donor materials. Good news!
  • My sister has been clean and sober (as far as I can tell anyway) for a few months. She's getting more together every day and although she may always have problems, they are fewer and less horrendous than they've been in a long, long time.
  • My daughter is well and seemingly happy. She's in a secure job and has made some recent changes there that seem to be for the better. I see her a lot these days and that's good.
  • My brother is happy, is a good man, and has been the kind of father my siblings and I all wish we had had.
  • Jim and Connie R, cancer survivors, have had clear, clean, cancer-free checkups.
  • Jeanne moved into her new home in Virginia and is playing nanny to her niece. Go figure!
  • I lost a friend this year, by choice. This loss was caused by confusion, anger, and miscommunication. I don't know if I can mend it; worse, I don't know if I want to. I do know that I think of her often and care about her well-being. Maybe that's as it should be. I wish her well in her new life.
  • I am blessed with a network of friends that support me and that I love dearly. My friends are my treasures. They fill my heart and give me strength beyond measure. My cup truly runneth over.

Here's a picture of me and Cher at the beach a while ago. It was rainy today, so not a good beach day!

Glory to you all; may your spirits buoy you through whatever rough seas you may encounter. Merry, happy seasonal blessings to you all! Whatever you celebrate, I hope you celebrate yourselves and this wonderful life...

Love always,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Could be Lousy, but Isn't

Tough Times

Dang. I've fallen way behind on blogging. I keep thinking about doing it and then don't. Thinking ain't gettin it done! Had a small STC Holiday gathering at my home last night. It was delightful. Really got me into the mood even though I've promised myself and everyone else that I'm buying few presents this year, and those I do buy will be sensible and inexpensive. Money for me as well as for everyone I know and probably most everyone in the country is tight. The economy needs us all to buy, buy, buy; yet most of us are holding on and waiting. Three of the 23 folks who came to my home yesterday had recently been laid off. One of my best friends in Houston was laid off last Monday. Adobe closed down its San Diego office and everyone who was there is now looking for work.

I vaguely remember a recession almost this bad in the 80s. At the time, I was working for Uncle Sam, so I don't remember being worried about losing my job (and I was 25 years younger, so the outlook was a bit different). I certainly didn't have the network of friends and collegues who had lost their jobs as I do now. I don't know what's going to happen, but I don't think it's hit bottom yet. I am grateful for what I have and I trust that if it were to happen to me I'd get through it. The older we get, the less confident we are that anyone would want to hire us. Yet, so many of us are getting older, that if employers say no to us all, they'd have no one with any wisdom working. So, I'll stay confident that someone out there will have the smarts to know that I'm valuable to them. I'm hoping that HP will hold on to me. But if they don't, I'll throw my hat in the ring and pray. And, see if anything's left in my mutual funds to fall back on if necessary.

Joy to the World

So, now that I've purged myself of the negative stuff in the first part of this blog, I do want to share that I'm elated to be in this Holiday Season. I've decorated my little house more than ever and it's tasteful and fun. I've shared food and fun with a great group of folks and hope to do it again before the season is over.

I am actually pleased that HP is having a mandatory shut-down from Dec 20 through Jan 4 (even though we have to use 6 days of vacation or take unpaid leave to do it), because I can't remember when I've had 2 weeks home when I've been well. (I was home for 3 weeks in February when I had my knee replacement, but that really wasn't the same!) I'm phasing out my STC duties and slowing down parts of my life. I've begun seeing a therapist who has some new ideas that I've been mulling over and she's given me a lot to think about.

In fact, with her help, I've made the decision that for the next year, I'm not taking on any special volunteer roles or working a second job. Instead, I've decided to work on ME. Let's see if I can do it. I think I'm ready. It's only taken me my whole life to get here. I think I can be better. And, I think this is the year to make it happen. It certainly feels right right now.

So, perhaps I'll share a little of what I'm learning. I have a great friend whose blog I follow who has learned to write everything in her blog. She doesn't seem to hold back at all. I'm not sure if I'm there yet, but I'll see if I can do it. But not tonight. Tonight, I just want to share this picture of my house with you and tell you all that I hope your pre-holiday season is wonderful, and that you do something for yourself that gives you bliss!

Linda O

Linda O
Glamorous Me