Mental Images

Everyone has a mental image of themselves. I think we see who we really are in our twenties and that image gets burned into our brains. Twenty years down the road, we look in the mirror and see this older version of our mental image and wonder who it is.

My mother and I were talking on FaceTime the other day and she made a comment that she didn’t like the way she looked in her little box. She said that she looked so wrinkly and old. Then went on to tell me that she went down to the local  drug store the next day to look for some wrinkle cream. I tried to tell her that she was beautiful for an 83 year old woman, but then realized that I too have looked at myself in the mirror and wondered where that middle aged woman came from? I remember myself as a young, smooth-skinned with a slim and taut body so who is this person looking back at me now? I mean, realistically I probably look pretty good for 51, but my mental image is one of when I was much, much younger.

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My mom and I.

Thinking of my own experience in the mirror, I guess I’m not surprised that my mother felt that way. If our mental image of ourselves gets burned into our brains when we are in our twenties, then imagine how it must feel to look back at an eighty something year old in the mirror. She’s a beautiful woman. Not beautiful in the  conventional  sense that society adheres to, but beautiful for a woman of her age. Everyone who meets her are amazed that she is in her eighties. Doctors who check her out tell her that they hope to be like she is when they get up there. But despite all this, she still feels that she looks awful when she actually sees herself on camera.

It doesn’t help that our society is so youth oriented. Older people get pushed aside by the younger generation who think they just have it all and it really does make us feel worthless and old when we really should be celebrating the wisdom that we’ve gained over the years, the experiences that have shaped us into who we are today….

I choose to feel good about myself. I was young once and remember the feeling of invincibility. Of being young and strong with the whole future staring me in the face. Now that I’m here facing the latter half of my lifetime, I realize that youth is fleeting. Being young and on top of the world only lasts so long before the next generation comes along and shoves you out.

And that’s fine… I know what they’re feeling, I know how fleeting that feeling is so they deserve to feel good and strong for however long they can. The true test of how one handles it comes later when the realization sets in that they’re no longer on top of the world but perhaps sliding down the other side of the mountain. I’m okay with it. I enjoy the experiences and wisdom that I’ve gained over the years. I’m not so overly concerned with how I look, how I appear to others, and whether or not I’m sexy enough, smart enough or even fun enough. I’m really okay with who I am. I just want to experience things before this last half of my life goes by. I want to travel, have fun and learn new things. How I look….eh… I want to look good, who doesn’t? But, I want to look good for myself. That’s the biggest difference. Looking good and feeling good for myself rather than for others.

It’s the image that I have in my head that needs to be replaced so that when I look in the mirror there isn’t a little voice saying ” What? Who’s this? The person I know, doesn’t have lines, droopy eyelids, or gray hair.” Well, I do and little by little, I’m learning to accept and love that person that I see in the mirror today.

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Food, food and more food!

I have never had so much food in my kitchen for an extended period of time as I have these past couple of weeks. I’m no cook and I’m not ashamed to say so. In my opinion the microwave was one of the greatest inventions of all time. I can’t imagine life without that one minute wonder. I’m divorced, I work, and I’ve been raising a kid who for a long time was involved with dance. Life was running from one thing to another. So, food was anything I can stick in a microwave with minimal clean up afterward.

So, what happened??? My teenage daughter discovered cooking! She’s been watching the Food Network channel over the summer and started discovering recipes on the website. A little over a week ago, I came home to find a white board that we have hung up in the kitchen for reminders, appointments, etc…, filled with ingredients for various recipes. She informs me that we have to go grocery shopping because she’s going to start cooking. There was a long list of ingredients that she needed. I had to remind her that groceries cost money and for her to be a little budget conscious when selecting some of these recipes but otherwise, I was happy to indulge in her latest interest.  I’d rather see her interested in cooking than running around getting in trouble like so many of the other teens I see these days.

This is the girl that I could not convince to go into the kitchen for something as simple as boiling pasta. She always shied away from cooking and I figured that it was probably something that I was passing on to her with my own aversion to getting in the kitchen. I knew she needed to at least have the basics down, but wasn’t having any luck getting her to learn. Suddenly, she just up and went from being totally anti-cooking to preparing elaborate recipes. It required a bit of adjusting on my part. I went from having minimal basics in the kitchen to a whole spice rack along with a gazillion different cooking ingredients. Not to mention kitchen tools. Today she tells me that she needs one of those things to hammer out meat, a decent cheese grater, and some better kitchen knives. I have to keep pulling her back and say, hey… these things cost money. One thing at a time. Right now, my grocery bill is doubling.

I’ll have to say I”m enjoying her cooking. She’s been very successful in preparing the dishes she’s selected.

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Spaghetti and meatballs made from scratch. None of the frozen meatballs thrown into sauce like I would do.

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Leftover meatballs sliced and made into a sandwich with slivers of peppers on it. Delicious!

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Chicken Parm. This one was ambitious, but she pulled it off. The taste was amazing.

One of the things that always kept me from really getting into cooking was the time. Time it took to prepare and cook the food plus the time it would take to clean up afterward. Believe me, there’s been more dishes these past couple of weeks than I’ve probably done in months. Counter and stove clean up is happening on a daily basis whereas before I could give everything a quick wipe down and be done with it. But that’s okay. I can see where the cooking is giving her a lot of confidence and pleasure. She’s seeing results and finding that they’re quite delicious. I’m getting some amazing food. We’re working together in the kitchen (I do the clean up, can’t stand a dirty kitchen so I go behind her and put things away and clean).

This whole cooking experience has brought us closer together. I would highly recommend getting into the kitchen with your teen if you can. We’ve had a lot of laughter, experimentation, researching, etc…  She’s even getting involved with the cleaning afterward now while before she started cooking, she’d whine, fuss and moan anytime I asked her to please help with the dishes, or fixing anything. She seems to understand now why it’s so much easier to have a clean kitchen.

Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy the good food and the new maturity in my teen. It’s been so nice not to spend all my time nagging and fussing with her.

 

 

My Tiger…

Tiger is the cat that has graciously allowed me to be his mistress. I share my home with three of them actually,  Tiger was the first one  after my divorce. Him and I coming together was sort of an accident, but one that I believe was destined to be. He’s unique, special and just one hell of a cat.

I’ve always loved animals, my ex – not so much. So after my divorce I decided that it was time to bring a cat back into my life and also to give my daughter an opportunity to interact with a pet. I fell in love with a little kitten that was in a box with a bunch of others on a street corner. He was the quietest of the bunch and sat apart by himself. Unfortunately, he may have been sick and that would explain why he was so quiet. I only had him a couple of days before he died on me. I didn’t even have a chance to get him to a vet for a check up. Well, when I came home and found him like that, I took it to the vet. Why? I don’t know, there was nothing a vet could do for him, but I really didn’t want my daughter to find out that her first pet of 2 days died. Don’t ask me what I was expecting by going to the vet with a dead cat, but I kind of think it was destiny because that’s where Tiger and I met.

At the vet’s office, I brought the poor little kitten in and explained what had happened. Knowing in the back of my mind that they’re probably wondering what the heck was it I wanted them to do?? Bring it back to life? Sure would have been nice if that were possible but…   Anyway, back to the story – Weeping, I explained to them that this was my daughter’s first pet. I’m pretty sure they knew that I may have been the one hurting the most over this. I get far too attached to everything. One of the girls working there, came around the corner holding another kitten. She asked if I wanted to take this one home. She placed him in my arms and stood back. I looked at him and he looked at me. He immediately started wriggling and meowing in protest. He wasn’t particularly pretty. He was yellowish and wild looking. They explained to me that he had been found a few weeks prior with 2 other siblings – abandoned.  Hurricane Charley had just come through our area a couple of months earlier and wreaked havoc. We had downed trees everywhere, flooding, etc… the place was just a mess. Apparently, he and his siblings had either been born as wild cats or they had been left behind somehow and they were found amid the rubble. They told me that the other two had already been adopted out and he was the only one left. Dubiously I looked at him as he stalked around the room. Each time I tried to pick him up, he’d complain loudly. Definitely not a cuddly kind of cat. I wasn’t going to leave him behind though, not after hearing his story of being a hurricane survivor.

Tiger and I went home and the next few days was definitely a learning experience between all three of us. I’ve had lots of cats in my lifetime, but Tiger taught me that he was his own cat. He didn’t conform to anyone’s expectations of what cats should be. It didn’t take long before we bonded though. He turned out to be a really fun cat. He fetched. Yes, ‘fetched’ like a dog would. I bought him a little stuffed kitten to play with and quickly found that he absolutely loved for us to throw it for him to chase after. Not only did he chase after it but he actually brought it back to us for it to be thrown again. He talked. No, he didn’t say words, but he mewed his response to everything. If he liked something, he’d give us a little “rrrr” in the back of his throat. If he wasn’t happy, he’d produce a loud, gutteral “maiwww”. That’s the only way I can describe it. He didn’t “meow”, he made noises from deep within his throat and they would come out loud. Sometimes, I could hear him walking around just maiwwwing away. It just felt as if he were communicating with us all the time.

As the months went by, his yellow colors deepened into a gorgeous auburn shade.

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He still hated being held. Hated it with a passion. If anyone picked him up, he might tolerate it for a few seconds before he’d start squirming and meowing in protest. However, despite that particular aversion, he was a very loving cat. Just on his own terms. He’d follow us all over the house and always stayed in the same room as we did. He showed his love and affection by rubbing our legs or nuzzling us with his face. Curled up beside us on the sofa to sleep, purring the loudest purr I’d ever heard coming from a cat. Everything had to be on his own terms. He just didn’t like us picking him up.

There was one side effect from his being in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley’s mess and that was he developed some respiratory problems. At least that’s what everyone has agreed on. Those first few months, I noticed that he sneezed a lot. The vet would treat him for his sinuses, which would let up temporarily then return. After many trips to several vets and finally one specialist, they determined that he may have contracted some kind of bacterial infection in the mess left behind from the hurricane. We never found out for sure because they started quoting me figures in the thousand dollar range just to find out what might have been wrong. I don’t have much money and certainly not to spend a thousand just to “find out what the problem is”… not to mention fix it. He’s not in pain. He’s a very contented and happy cat. He can’t smell and goes into violent sneezing fits, but other than that he’s fine. So I wasn’t going to mess with it any more.

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I mentioned earlier in this post that I had 3 cats. Well, the second cat came into the house as a result of Tiger. My daughter had a lot of stuffed animals (a lot).  I worked and she went to school and whenever we came home at the end of the day, we would always see some of her stuffed cats in various parts of the house. Tiger seemed to know how to pick out the cats from the other animals. He’d bring them out to keep him company while we were gone. So I decided that I needed to get him a companion.

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Bandit.  He’ll get his own post later. For right now, this one is your introduction to Tiger, one of the most unique, fascinating cats I’ve ever met.

It was a dark and stormy night…

I love storms. The sight of dark clouds building and racing toward you. Lightening streaking across the skies and thunder sending vibrations across the ground. There’s just nothing else that’s as awe-inspiring as the weather. When it gets like that, I love curling up on my huge armchair and watching the rain pelt against the window.

It’s Friday night and I’m free, on my way home from work. I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things, just one more errand that just has to be done before I can crash and enjoy the weekend looking at me in the face. When I went inside, the day was ok, overcast as it had been most of the day…rather blah, nothing dramatic. I was in the store just long enough to pick up some munchies, wine, along with some necessities like toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc… It took maybe 20 minutes to a half hour at the most. When I exited the store, all I saw was black, rolling clouds. Streaks of lightening and wind whipping across the parking lot.

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I stood there just outside the door for a few moments just looking at the beauty of it. Then I realized that a lot of that blackness I was looking at was actually a sheet of rain, really hard, drenching rain from the looks of it. Then my eyes scoped out where my car was and my brain kicked into gear trying to determine if I had a chance of reaching the car before the rain did. This storm was obviously moving fast judging from the fact that it was nowhere in sight when I entered and the length of time I had been in the store.

I knew I didn’t want to spend my first few hours of freedom standing under the protective canopy of the grocery store waiting on the rain to stop, so I immediately hightailed it toward my car. The storm marched toward me. My hair started whipping around my face and I could feel a few huge wet drops hitting me. When I got to the car, I practically threw everything in the trunk, taking special care with my wine bottles. Don’t want to mess around with those on a Friday night. I made it though. I even took the time to run over to the special cart places where you leave your shopping carts. I’ve seen shopping carts rolling willy-nilly in parking lots when storms move in. They can do some damage to cars and I don’t want to be responsible for scratching someone’s prized car. Anyway as soon as I jumped into my car, the rain started pelting the windshield.

I still needed to get home and into the house. Seeing as I live in the opposite direction of where the storm was coming from, I figured if I drive quickly (very quickly) I might have a chance to beat the storm. So I took off. I actually did get ahead of the storm and the mad race began again. This time taking all the bags out of the trunk and throwing them just inside the house, again taking special care with the wine bottles. I no sooner got everything inside and closed the trunk of the car before the raindrops started pelting me. Fate was working in my favor tonight.

The brunt of the storm has moved through, but it’s still raining. Cool sweetness of the earth soaking up the water from the heavens. Perfect time for this…

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Happy Friday everyone, hope your evening is as relaxing and sweet as mine is right now.

Countdowns

Life is one big countdown.

No matter which way you look at it, we are all counting down toward something. A fellow blogger commented on one of my vacation posts and mentioned her upcoming trip and how the planning for it was just as exciting as the actual traveling itself. I started thinking about how much I love the months and weeks prior to a vacation. The anticipation of going someplace fun, planning for it, preparing…  Knowing that the trip is still ahead of me and dreaming of what could be, may be, will be. It just fills me with excitement. Much like when I was a kid looking forward to Christmas morning.

Christmas – another countdown. The list making, planning and dreaming of what may be coming on that morning. What child hasn’t eagerly marked off the days on a calendar leading up to the day Santa arrives? As parents, we still countdown to that day only in a slightly different way. We plan out the shopping for certain individuals on our lists, coordinate with relatives on the cooking, determine what needs to be done and when so that everything is in place for that day. Then there are the other holidays, birthdays, various events that we all have to look forward to throughout the year.

Not only do we countdown to vacations, events, and other exciting things, but we also have the negative countdown. For me a prime example of that would be actually getting to the vacation and mentally thinking okay, we have a week, 3 days, 2, 1 more before we have to return home. I know that I try hard not to dwell on the fact that a vacation is always so fleeting and that there’s only so much time to experience what the location has to offer, but it’s always in the back of my mind.

As my brain was delving along all these different forms of countdowns, I thought of the biggest one of all, which would be our lifetime. The countdown of our lives to when we move on to our next big adventure.

Right now, I need to get to sleep and I’m looking at the clock thinking okay if I go to bed now, I’ll have at least six and a half hours of sleep before I have to get up. Tomorrow is Friday which means after my eight hours of work, I can finally be free for the next couple of days. Ugh – No wonder we get so stressed and frazzled all the time! We’re constantly checking and counting the years, months, days and hours to something.

Talk to you guys in another 24 hours….

The Coveted Cover Photo

Getting one’s face on the cover of a magazine is typically considered an accomplishment. It says, “Look at me, I’m known, I’m famous, I’m somebody!” Especially on fashion and entertainment magazines. So why on earth would a magazine like Rolling Stone put a picture of the man responsible for destroying hundreds of lives at the Boston Marathon on its cover? It’s beyond comprehension to me.

They say that it’s an in depth look at a troubled man. It’s a hard hitting story that they include as well as their entertainment stories. Fine, have the article but instead of putting his face on the cover, why not put the faces of the brave victims who are struggling to get their lives back together? Have his story in the back after the survivors.

Seems to me that our newspeople, magazines and books tend to sensationalize people who have done especially horrendous deeds. As we all know, with the number of reality shows out there, there are a lot of people willing to go to any lengths just to get their faces known. I find it very hard to believe that the couples featured on the “Bridezillas” show are really that rude and obnoxious and still get married after all that drama. “Wife Swap” is another one, why would any self respecting person allow themselves to be put through that type of humiliation that I see so much on there. This leads me to believe that there are a tremendous amount of individuals who are desperate for recognition and fame, however short it may be.

With that being said, how many sick individuals do you guess there are out there who will look at the fact that a bomber who killed and maimed hundreds of people, actually got his face on a cover of a magazine, a huge magazine at that too, and think that might be a way to get famous?

I’ve often wondered if the media did more stoic, straight up reporting on these killers instead of glorifying and sensationalizing details of these people, if the violence rate would go down? Maybe I’m being too idealistic, but anytime there’s a huge story out there about murder, violence or any other sort of awful thing it seems that they just want to play and replay the horrific details over and over again. They take the person who was responsible for the act and just spend so much time talking about them, their lives. Speculating on why, how and what their thought processes may have been before, during and after… blah, blah, blah. I say just report the story as we all have the right to know what is going on around us, but stop there. The media stories will do SO much talking and dissecting of the person committing these acts that I can’t help but wonder if these individuals enjoy it in their own sick way.

It’s like raising kids, when a child misbehaves you don’t give them attention. You impose consequences for the bad behavior by putting them in a corner, taking something away from them, restricting activities, but you don’t go on and on to glorify what they’ve done. It only teaches them that it’s a way to get attention. To ensure that everyone is talking about them. Regardless of whether it’s negative talking or not. They’re just enjoying the attention. Why can’t the media industry realize that they could be doing the same thing for those aggressors that do awful things. They do not deserve attention. They do not deserve to bask in the limelight, however negative it may be. The story should be reported and then tucked away into the background for the courts to deal with.

Keep the public informed, but stop making them the center of attention. And for goodness sakes, why put their faces on a cover of a magazine?

Dream Life

A lot of people have dream homes for when they retire. I have a dream life. I don’t want to be tied down nice and neat to a little apartment or house. I want the freedom to roam, most specifically across Europe. To visit places that have so much history and beauty. Hell, I want to go all over the world, but let’s be realistic here. It takes money and time to do that and I most definitely won’t have much of that, especially the former. So, for right now, I’ll start my dream off with a tour through Europe. When I’m done with that then I can move on to other continents.

I would sell off most of my crap. It’s all it is…crap that weighs people down. Probably keep a couple of properties as rentals so I’ll have some income to finance my travels. Fly out and start off in Spain, maybe along the Andalusian coast. Get a car and travel along the coast. Then move into the interior and visit some of the cities and small towns. Soak up the history of Spain and visit some of the beautiful cathedrals.

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I could see myself staying in a place like this while exploring.

Then I’d move on to France, perhaps. See the Eiffel Tower. So cliche really, but one simply cannot go to France and not at least see the Eiffel Tower. So I just have to see it, travel down along the Seine River and see all the sights. Then take off into the countryside. I would minimize my time spent in really touristy spots and try to soak up as much of the real France as I can. Spend time sipping wine at the sidewalk cafes while writing my book.

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Italy – I refuse to go to Europe without stopping in Italy. It’s always been one of my bucket list of places to visit. If I can’t make it to any other place in the world. I, at least, want to go to Italy. Not that it’s necessarily better than any of the other places, but that it’s simply been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to visit. The Amalfi Coastline is one that I don’t want to miss. The countryside and of course Venice. A trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without a gondola ride through Venice.

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Now, Lake Como looks like a place that I could easily fall in love with and never leave.

Then I’d have to jump over to Greece. One of my favorite movies is “Mamma Mia” which was filmed in Greece. I have absolutely loved that movie with its scenic backdrop of the gorgeous blue waters. Since seeing it, I had to add it to my long list of places to visit.

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Could I stay here indefinitely, oh yes.

I found these pictures from the internet – Perhaps one day I will be blogging about my travels and adding my own photos.

For those of you who are already out there living that dream type of a life, you guys have it made. Enjoy every second of your life. I raise my glass of Moscato to you.