Family · Memory · Pets

Why a Fold? Beginning

During the pandemic I moved myself and my parrot Erin in with my mom. I teleworked from her location, 80 miles from my actual work. We joined her and her two Yorkies, Bear and Suzy.

We adjusted to circumscribed living and enjoyed their company, but Suzy had a heart condition and a tumor. She passed. We all missed her, but I began to think of getting a cat.

I’ve had three kittens in my life. My other cats were rescues or adoptions. Since Bear is older, I thought he’d find it easier to adjust to a kitten and might even bond with a baby. At first, I searched for adoptable kittens. I wanted kittens within 12-16 weeks and found none.

While I looked, I pulled out my books about cats and reread THE CAT WHO WENT TO PARIS series. I loved Norton the Scottish Fold then and now. I decided to look for breeders. The sticker shock was gigantic, but I found one who had kittens. Mom and I originally wanted two, but finally decided on one to be my focus while Bear remained hers.

Bernie, the mildly disgruntled (after Bernie Sanders), was a hard sell. He was the next thing to indifferent to what I wanted, but he was also very mellow. He was unconcerned to be loaded into his soft carrier for an hour drive. He got a little noisy about half way and we stopped for a few minutes of reassurance.

I brought him home to his tent where had a small litter box, food, water, toys, a shag bed, toys and some blankets waiting. Bear was very interested and Bernie was simply mellow. Much of this behavior is typical of a Scottish Fold.

He is independent, curious determined, companionable but only sometimes cuddly. He chases and explores but doesn’t really climb much. He’s fastidious. He chose his litter robot over his litter box because it was cleaner. We have pee pads down for Bear and, if Bernie finds a used one, he carefully ruffles or folds it to cover and hide the spot. He finds it rude.

When he couldn’t convince Bear to be his friend, he settled for grumpy uncle and made friends with parrot Erin instead. Sleeping on top of her cage remains one of his favorite spots, but he quickly learned respect after she stripped the fur and some skin on half of one side of his kitten tail.

While I know this is cliche:. Bernie is the most dog like cat I’ve ever known. Moreover, he actually thinks about and orders his time. If the first try fails, he tries it another way. If he really wants something he will get it or do it eventually.

Ethics · Nature · Personal

Words To Live By

Aspirations are the only words worth living by because you are living up to then, but not living for them. You are still making choices yourself.

I try to act in line with who I want to be. I take that action and let go of the results. I do that because I can’t control the choices other people make and that always influences the outcome. Sometimes this is tiring. The temptation is to do what is easy and sometimes I do that because I’m certainly not perfect.

I try not to be pessimistic. My family indoctrination counts change as always dangerous rather than an opportunity. If someone helps, they always want something from you. If something could go wrong, it will. None of this promotes feelings of happiness or trust. I decided instead to give everyone and every situation a baseline of trust and let actions and events move that level up or down.

I choose to be independent, relying first on myself and only then on trusted people or social or government supports. “Better to plan for the worst and hope for the best.” My sense of belonging to groups is minimal and measured.

I care about justice, equity and fairness. I don’t believe in scarcity. For example, raising service workers to a living wage isn’t a referendum on my wages, my profession or my life choices. I’m a “progressive.”

Finally, I care about life. Sometimes fishermen need to take a hit to save the salmon. Life, living things and the planet all have intrinsic value beyond their usefulness to humanity. When we forget that, the ecosystem will correct for our hubris.

Family · History & Mission · Memory · Personal

Memory – A Story Interlude #1

How does a midlife crisis and a spiritual crisis tie together? In my case, they were sequential.

Huddled in my waterbed alone in a Fairbanks winter, I realized that I hated my job and had wound up where I’d vowed never to be. I’d done none of the things I’d planned to do and most of the ones that I’d sworn not to. I was married before 30. I was putting my husband’s needs and accomplishments first. I’d stopped writing. I hadn’t finished my college degree.

We were supposed to be living in Anchorage. We came to Fairbanks as a last minute change to my husband’s Army assignment. I brought my Pomeranian puppy, Corry, and a short work history with me. I felt uneasy spending money I didn’t earn and unable to put my own needs first, so I needed to work. We shared a single car, so we did a lot of coordinating and solo spontenaity was negligible. I was, essentially, dependent.

Being dependent was one of the biggest reasons that I’d sworn off marriage. To this day, I stand by this. If the Army hadn’t made it nearly impossible to be together unless married, we’d have stayed partners not spouses. My mom was 13 years old when she met my dad and his parents became her surrogates because hers were alcoholics. They married when she graduated from high school. She was 20 when I was born and 22 when my sister was born. She never got her driver’s license or worked after marriage.

Technically, that isn’t completely true. She got her license with me when I took driver’s training. She went to work at Montgomery Wards once my sister and I were both in our teens, but someone drove her to and from the Triangle Mall. Did I forget to mention? We lived next to my grandparents, Dad’s parents, and they joined us in our home after dinner just about every evening.

I loved it as a child. I had four adults available at all times. Mom got up each morning to see Dad off to work and then I went back o bed with her. We normally got up after we heard the school bus leave. The stop was right outside our house on the corner. If you discount my health issues, I had a picture perfect childhood. We were a little rural, so I played outside. My grandpa planted a garden. My grandma taught me how to crochet and knit. My dad taught me embroidery. I became the shared household baker. My mom taught me how to sew and was always trying new things with me. We always had pets, especially cats. My grandpa had chickens when I was young. He even caught and released a mama o’possum and her babies because I couldn’t let them be killed. He taught me to drive because Dad and I made one another too nervous.

As I got older, I saw how uneven these relationships were for my mom. Three other adults were always vetting her actions. Without money of her own, every purchase had to be approved. Dad paid all the bills, signing them after she wrote the checks. We all went grocery shopping together. Whenever she started acting too independent, she was brought up short. She was questioned about every moment she spend outside the house. She was discouraged from having friends beyond other couples, including spending too much time with any independent wives. More than once, I saw Dad reduce her to tears in social settings by belittling her, sometimes subtly and sometimes not.

As the oldest child and a girl, I fought for my freedoms and independence. As an adult, I intend to keep them.

History & Mission · Memory · Personal

Memory – The Facts

What is memory really? Is it a recording and recounting of events? I don’t think so. Personal history is rewritten every day.  It is the story we tell ourselves to make sense of our lives.  Memory, like our personal history is fluid.

I had my midlife crisis at 25, bought my first house at 30, got my first tattoo at 35, divorced and got a nose piercing at 40. I spent the next three years adjusting, socializing and dating. I had a heart attack, which was diagnosed as acute pericarditis, at 45. I had a hole in my heart patched at 50 and broke my arm at 55.  My life is defined by crisis and remembered by location.  I grew up in Kelso, Washington, graduating from Kelso Senior High School in 1980 and attending Washington State University as a freshman. I moved into a condo with my mother when my parents separated and then divorced.

I married at 21 and had that midlife crisis while living in Fairbanks, Alaska.  At 30, I lived in Sierra Vista, Arizona. At 35, in Augusta, Georgia.  At 40, in Spanaway, Washington. I spent the next 21 years working as an IT Specialist at Stone Education Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. When the COVID-19 lockdown hit, I moved in with my mom in Longview, Washington. I teleworked and later spent the occassional work day back onsite. Rather than returning fulltime to JBLM, I retired.

Those are the facts. They are not the story.

Books & Reviews · Writing

My Style Memoir

I think I’ve found my memoir style. Essentially, writing topical essays and then arranging them in topical and chronilogical order.

I’ve read and listened to many memoirs over the last 5-10 years. The change started slowly with reading biographies and autobiographies. Then I started listening to memoirs as audiobooks. I actually read STEVE JOBS by Walter Isaacson and loved it. I also loved the story behind it: Jobs knew he was dying. His wife convinced him to allow full access and give up control of the narrative because this might be the only way for his young children to truly know him.

These are some of my recent favorites: Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry / I Miss You When I Blink: Essays by Mary Laura Philpott / Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives by Mary Laura Philpott / This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman by Ilhan Omar / In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Mate, MD / When the Body Says No by Gabor Mate, MD / The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Ron Howard, Clint Howard, Bryce Dallas Howard (Foreword) / Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg / Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean by Jackson Galaxy, Joel Derfner

I’ve continued to journal, but I’ve been trying to expand that by writing down what I remember of my dreams, ideas, snippets of a sentence or story, and various observations of the world around me. And, as noted above in my MISSION STATEMENT, I am blogging again.

Drugs · Family · Health · Pain Management

Get Over It (the Opioid Crisis) Already

My mom will turn 81 years old this July. She has been struggling without effective pain medication for over a year. Her OTC options are very limited because she is in Stage 4 kidney failure. She’s managed to stave off actual dialysis for nearly five years. She’s had one shoulder and one hip replaced and should probably have the remaining two replaced. But really at 81 years old?! She also has osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, sciatica and spinal disk issues.

And she isn’t able to truly manage her pain … because the backlash from addiction to opiods has meant that the people who really need them often can’t get them. We resorted to buying edible cannibas (high CBD/low THC). She sleeps more to escape the pain and her energy is depleted from the stress of dealing with continuous chronic pain. She loved taking her Yorkie for a daily walk. She enjoyed going out to shop and eat, visiting the ocean etc. COVID limited that for such a long time that we were really looking forward to doing them again. And she just can’t cope without effective pain relief.

We figured something had happened to change policies at her PeaceHealth medical provider and recently had confirmed via an article in a local newspaper that one of the senior doctors (who just happened to be her doctor) was both over prescribing and prescribing for himself.

In the interim, her doctor recommended a drug that interfered with her muscle control and led to falls, shots directly into her joints and back, physical therapy and, of course, more surgery. Again, she is 80 years old. Quality of life is clearly more inportant than quantity at this point. She’d been taking Hydrocodone without overuse or addiction off and on for years. Getting addicted seems highly unlikely and, even if she did, why would it really matter?

She had a wellness exam with her doctor and I went into it armed for grizzly bears. We were not leaving without a plan that included a medication to manage her pain. Viola! The prescription had to be reviewed by a “team,” but we will be picking it up from the pharmacy tomorrow.

In conclusion, punishing people with a real need for pain management via opioids is WRONG. If some of those people no longer need the drug and/or get addictd, they need real treatment that is a viable alternative (maybe methodone), not to simply be cut off. Individuals become heroin addicts because heroin is cheaper then pills on the black market. And the need to get any of those things illegally, leads to crime annd broken lives. Treating the social issues that lead to addiction might also be a “good” idea.

Hobbies · Knitting

Knitting Zen

I spent a good deal of time over the weekend organizing my recent yarn purchases and upcoming projects.  I even pulled out my swift and electric ball winder.  As I settled in with my most recent project (Inara Wrap by Ambah O’Brien), I thought again about how easy it is to get into a rhythm while knitting and listening to audiobooks.

My love of reading and handicrafts has often been in conflict.  Since both require not only my attention but my vision, I could usually perform only one at a time.  I began listening to audiobooks when they first became readily available (early 90s), but both their quality and the technology available left much to be desired.  First available as cassettes, then as CDs and downloads; the biggest jump was having them available from public libraries.  The final innovation was Amazon’s purchase of  I have over 1,000 books in my Audible library (purchased since the early 90s), but most purchases have been in the last five years.  I especially love the ability to switch between reading the ebook and listening to the audiobook and getting discounts on their joint purchase!

Now, my mind can translate the audio into a movie while my eyes focus on my knitting.  I can get lost for hours, my hands establishing a rhythm while my mind plays the story.  I’ve sometimes reached the zone doing other things (besides reading) such as stringing jewelry or coloring posters and mandalas.  I truly love the Zen of knitting to audiobooks though and highly recommend it!

History & Mission · Writing

Honoring My Gifts

I’m a writer. I am going to start honoring that and see where I wind up. Language and ideas are my catnip. I’ve even been known to argue the side I disagree with if that makes the conversation more fun. I’ve been journaling and writing fiction and nonfiction since first grade. I was already creating arts and crafts.

As a Gemini with Sagittarius rising and my moon in Capricorn, my love of logic led me to a 30+ year career in information technology as an Army civilian. My spiritual and creative side supports my interests in mythology, comparative religion, spiritual practices, and handicrafts ranging from coloring posters and mandalas to all forms of fiber art.

Since retirement, my focus has been on settling into a new life spent with my mother in the town I grew up in. Much remains the same: reading, writing, jewelry, knitting, pets (including Bernie, my Scottish Fold who is now 2 years old), and family/friends.