Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hot Springs Heaven

Sunday we got one of those gorgeous January days that act as a reprieve from more wintry weather- sunny and in the 50's. Perfect day for a run to Hot Springs. We had some time before our reservation so we looked around the shops in town and then took a long walk through the wooded campground along the French Broad River.
The highlight, of course, is the soak in the hot tub. These tubs are filled for each reservation directly from the springs so don't require the water to be kept heated. This particular tub sits on the bit of land where Spring Creek joins the French Broad. I'd brought a chilled bottle of pinot grigio and some snacks. It's a truly blissful experience to shed your clothes and sit in the steamy water, sipping wine and looking out over the river.
The squirrels know to check in to see if there might be snacks for the cute rodent crowd. The one that ventured onto the deck was in luck.
The squirrel dug in as if he hadn't eaten in days. Weeks, maybe.
At the end of the hour, we reluctantly pulled ourselves out of the warm water and walked over to a little restaurant that sits by the creekside. Fish and chips and a couple of IPAs (mine was better). We decided this would be just the first of many trips together.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Carpe Diem, but within reason.

This is just a little riff triggered by comments in Nick's latest post about worries for the future. We only have this moment, the future is uncertain, live for today - you've heard it. I think it's a response often elicited by anyone talking about being concerned about having enough money to live on when they are old. After all, no one even knows that they'll get much in the way of retirement years. Maybe you'll be flattened by a bus tomorrow or keel over with an aneurysm next Christmas as you're opening the curiously strange gift from an eccentric great-aunt. (And don't even get me started on curiously strange gifts from my eccentric great-aunt.) But what if you don't? What if you are still tooling around at 95? The women in my family tend to be pretty long-lived, in fact. There has to be some sort of balance point between living exceedingly close to the bone so you can sock away every possible penny and spending frivolously on the misguided notion that tomorrow will magically take care of itself.

I guess that's why platitudes often annoy the bejeebers out of me. Like when I was awaiting my younger son's MRI results and people would pat my arm and say, "Don't worry - everything is going to be fine." Huh. Sure didn't feel that way as I sat by his bedside in the ICU after his brain surgery. Yes, he's alive and well and of course I'm grateful. But my little boy having his skull cut open doesn't fall under the category of "fine." What's so hard about acknowledging that life can be tough and that it makes some sense to at least try to prepare for a variety of outcomes?

It's not that I don't believe in being in the moment and enjoying whatever life is throwing at you if you can, it's just that I think it's unrealistic and even fool-hardy to ignore the future. Which is why it raises my hackles a little to be told to "live each day like it's your last." Seriously? Because if it were truly my last day, I'd be flying me and everyone I loved somewhere amazing. And that would be great unless I woke up the next morning, found out it was all a big mistake and I still had the rest of my life to live with an empty bank account and a maxed-out credit card that I would be expected to pay off. Maybe our wish that we could live life like there's no tomorrow is why the bankruptcy rate is so high. And anyway, if I were really living each day like it was my last day? I think going repeatedly through all those emotional goodbyes would just be exhausting.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'll just refer you to my blog motto.

To follow-up on the share v. don't share decision: I know I made the right one. Not having any place to put my private thoughts isn't a concern. I have my brain for that. I also have a handful of close women friends who I tell things that don't even make the blog. But more importantly, this relationship matters a hell of a lot more to me than maintaining a secret blog. Because here's the thing - starting when we went out a second time a few days after that first lunch date, we've spent at least part of 12 of the next 15 days together. And we've talked and talked and talked. It hasn't been the usual evening out once a weekend sort of thing. So, no, I absolutely didn't mind cuddling up in this temporary fireside bed and pulling up the blog on his iPad. And because it's right and I have nothing left to hide, the blog goes on as it has.
When I retired my old blog, I carried its banner ahead as my footer, with my ongoing motto: "Life is weird and unpredictable, but often in a good way." I still believe it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I hadn't anticipated how much I'd enjoy my kids as adults.

My younger son has been wearing a pair of ratty sneakers for awhile and I had asked him repeatedly to get onto Zappos and pick out a new pair that he liked so I could buy them. He finally did and then sent me this text:
He's a good kid.  And I look forward to the times he comes over to hang out and is in a chatty mood. We had a long talk the other day when he was waiting for a planned hiking trip. Mostly about dating conventions in his age group versus mine. When I referred to Tinder as a dating site, he corrected me, "Mom, it's more of a hook-up app." He told me he didn't understand college students using it since they can easily meet fellow students in class. My son said that he felt Tinder is pretty shallow and based purely on physical appearance rather than anything more substantive. Did I mention he's a good kid?
After a long walk on Saturday with that son, I called my older son and we also ended up talking about relationships. At one point he said he wasn't flexible about his standards for keeping a house clean. I said, "Honey, you have many wonderful qualities but flexibility isn't one of them." He responded with indignation, "I don't need to be flexible, I just need to surround myself with people who do things the way I want!" I laughed so hard that he started laughing with me in spite of himself. It delights me that he has met his match in his girlfriend, who he describes as an "alpha female." He loves AND respects her, which I think is ideal.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Winter is so variable here.

Some days it verges on being warm. Friday afternoon, for instance, I was out raking the back yard. I started with a fleece vest over a long-sleeved shirt over a camisole. But about thirty minutes in and I'd peeled off to the camisole layer, enjoying the only-slightly chilled air against my skin as I worked. See that piled of leaves I moved to the curb next to my Christmas tree? All that will be picked up by the city and composted. My method for dealing with the unbelievably heavy carpet of oak leaves in my back yard is to rake them onto a tarp and drag them to the street. As I was emptying one load onto the pile, a couple of men came by in a truck and handed me a flyer for yard work they do. I'd say that it had nothing to do with what I was wearing except that while one of them explained, at length, all the types of yard work they offer, the other grinned dopily at me.
Other days, it's freezing and I'm happy to stay inside and watch the critters that visit my deck. Except the other morning. It was like a scene from "The Birds." I was sitting on my sun porch enjoying my morning coffee, when a cardinal landed on the railing of my deck. A minute later, his mate joined him. They watched me. From the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of bright red as yet another cardinal landed on top of the bird feeder. I glanced out the window and noticed that it was empty. That cardinal then flew over to perch on the railing with his friends. They were soon joined by a wren. The birds would turn to look meaningfully at the empty feeder, and then return their gaze to me. I saw what was happening here. The songbirds believed they could intimidate me into putting down my mug and leaving the warmth of my cozy house to tend to the feeder. I made a show of turning the page of the book I was reading, to let them know that I was impervious to their tactics. The tension was palpable. They fluffed up their feathers to look bigger and kept their beady eyes fixed on me. I sat wrapped in a quilt, immovable as a mountain, and stared back through the rising steam of my coffee. It was an epic battle of wills.

 And that's why I was out in the cold early that morning filling the bird feeders.

Friday, January 16, 2015

When "nice" isn't faint praise.

In this case it's not the dismissive, "Well, he was nice" sort of nice. It's the flowers-and-chocolates, open-the-car-door, nightly-goodnight-calls, coffee-in-bed, let-me-cook-you-dinner nice.
But it's more than that. I've dated men who were thoughtful or attractive or bright or funny or liberal or good dads or willing to talk about things that matter. And it is all of that, but it's more than all of that.
I can only say that this feels different. Even this early in, it just feels right.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015