Casting a Double-Dare Spell into the Universe~

The mere idea of dipping my feet into the dating scene, no matter how lonely I am at any given point, invokes in me a huge HELL NO! The quantity of nightmare stories I’ve heard from the widowed community about the quality of people in that scene, both male and female and what they’re looking for…no, please. There is, I hear, that 1% chance of meeting someone, that wonderful someone who brings beauty to a lonely life, but that’s not enough to entice me into the quagmire. I’m still in love with Chuck, for one thing, even as my heart is open. That might sound like a contradiction to you…widowhood is filled with contradictions…but I believe that the heart expands to Love, and I can fall in love again, with the perfect man. Having said that, the perfect man would have to materialize in front of me, with immediate recognition in both of our hearts that…THIS.    It saddens me that there are many in the widowed community who feel that their widow experience has left them broken, and finding a person to accept their broken-ness seems impossible.  Honestly, I don’t see myself as broken or damaged at all. On the contrary, my experience shows that I’m good at Love, good at healthy relationships. Yes, I feel life intensely, I’m brought to tears by all that is real in life…reunions, watching people fall in love, commercials, the certain blue of sky out my moon roof, stars lighting up the Universe at night…tears are never far away. I live on a higher adrenalin level than I did prior to Chuck’s death, coming from the realization that life really can, and does, change on a fucking dime. But that doesn’t make me broken; that makes me conscious. Which I was before he died, so only more so, now.
No, I won’t join a dating site. But All Hollows Eve is coming upon us, at the end of this month and the following words are what I will write out on paper for that evening, that I’ll put in a lovely bowl, add bright yellow and orange marigold and chrysanthemum petals, an essential oil…maybe “future”, burn the mix and let the ash ascend into the night skies, chanting a spell all the while. I’m creating a witch hat for the occasion, black but with pink tulle and flowers strewn over it.
This is what I’ll write to the Universe that night…
…I’m a widow of 5 years and 6 months. I live full-time on the road, towing a trailer, and I’ve done this since my husband’s death. The car is pink. My trailer trim is in the same shade of pink. The shade was customized for me, in my husband’s memory, giving me courage to return to the road solo, following his death. I wear a lot of pink. Not a wussy, Barbie pink, but a Fucking Warrior Goddess pink.
I’m a recovered alcoholic of 30+ years and I’m comfortable around alcohol but have no tolerance for drunken behavior. I believe in being present and conscious about life and you can’t do that if you’re drunk and stupid. If you have a prison record, if you’re doing drugs of any kind, don’t bother contacting me. Bless your heart and all that and no judgement but I will not deal with that shit and the emotional fallout that comes with it.
I believe in romance and Love stories, because I had both in my marriage. Which makes me a romantic but not a fool.
I’m 60 years old and my hair is naturally bland dark blonde but I color it regularly in whatever shade strikes my fancy. Also, 60 is a lot younger than it seemed to me when I was in my 30’s.
God, I need to lose a few pounds so if you’re someone who exercises, maybe you’ll inspire me to get back to it. I’m a sporadic exerciser at best. But no gym rats, please. A healthy outlook on fitness is good.
What gives me sex appeal is not because I wear skimpy dresses and heels high enough to turn my ankle and a fully made up face but my strength and determination. My blue eyes show my heart. I know how to love.
I know that Love is an action word. Words are easy. I love the words, but Love must be shown, too. I do both and I expect the same of any man in my life. Tenderness and passion. If you’re the right man, you’ll get it.
My financial stability comes from temporary jobs. I’ve already done the 9-5 thing and temp jobs allow me to stay on the road. So, I’m not rich by any means. I can pay my bills but can’t afford to eat out very often. I’m uncertain how finances play out in the dating scene, or even in a relationship at this later part of my life, but I’m sure it could be figured out.
I’m unique because I’m a kick ass woman. Not aggressive, not a bitch, but assertive as needed. I’m kick ass because I make the decision every day to suit up and show up and show Love, when I’d just as soon stay under the covers.
Here’s how strongly I can love, and what a determined woman I am: I went with my husband as he was cremated, and I’m the one who pressed the switch to open the crematorium doors to admit his body. I did this as a final act of love and service to him.
My taste in music runs to bagpipes, tribal drumming, country western, 50’s rock and roll, chanting, whatever suits my mood. No rap, no heavy metal~
My beloved husband was a passionate man, an educated man, an AF veteran, well-traveled, and he loved me with everything he had. I loved him the same way. I’ll accept nothing less from any other man.
I want a man who is masculine but not macho. I hope you know the difference. I want a man who is romantic but not a weenie. I want a man who shows emotions but doesn’t weep all over the place. I know; it’s confusing. But there you go. Think McGarrett on the new Hawaii 5-0. Or Chin Ho. Yes, they’re fictional characters but the same could almost be said of my husband, because of how he was the perfect mix of all that I adore. Yes, I have very high standards. Bless your heart if that intimidates you.
In the movie “Practical Magic”, Sally creates a wish for a man who doesn’t exist, and sends that wish into the Universe. I’d love to believe that a real man, who is strong and confident in himself, actually exists, but I kind of also believe that my beloved was the last of his kind. You may or may not be man enough to prove that premise wrong.
I’m not at all interested in showmanship, though I do love performance theater.  I’ve got a good b.s. meter. I’ve heard from many of my women friends who date who tell me  that the minute they exchange phone numbers with a guy, they almost immediately begin receiving dick pics via text. Believe me, such pictures DON’T impress me in the least. Show me something real, instead. Show me who YOU are. Use some imagination, for god’s sake. I mean, seriously…who the hell came up with that idea and said yeah, I think I’ll impress this woman I don’t know, with pictures of my dick.  Jesus.
Because I’m a determined and strong woman, which I’ve always been, and more so since my husband’s death, I will accept no less than an equal partner, and be an equal partner in return.
If you’re a widower, please be assured that I am not threatened by your dead wife, any more than I expect you to be threatened by my dead husband. A heart that has known real Love only expands with more Love. I will always talk about my beloved husband, even as I love you deeply, and I fully anticipate that you will speak of your dead wife. If you have her cremains in an urn and you carry them with you, cool. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine. We’ll create a beautiful altar for them both, wherever we are, and each All Hallows Eve, we’ll invoke their names as the veil between their world and ours, thins. Maybe we’ll dance naked around a huge bonfire, with drums beating in the darkness.
If you haven’t been widowed, you need to be strong and confident enough in yourself to know that I’m the woman I am because I was shaped by many beautiful years with my husband. He will always be a part of me and my life and who I am. And because I loved him so passionately, was in Love with him, still am, honestly, that means I can love you just as strongly. Yes, it’s possible to be in love with two men at once. At least, it is when one of them is dead.
*Wimps and fakes need not apply*
I send this out to the Universe from a heart that has been broken and shredded from grief but a heart that believes in the power of Love, but also, with no belief that such a man exists in this realm. So, it’s, you know, a safe cast.
Here you go, Universe, I dare you.
In fact, I double dare you~

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So. Traveling and being healthy. Can it be done?

Exotic, isn’t it, what we do?  Exploring new places.  Meeting new people.  Searching out our American history off the beaten path.  No jobs.  No housework.   Living the dream of so many!

And, yet, as we all must know, life happens no matter where you are or what you’re doing.  Its been a little shy of four years since Handsome Husband and I took to the road.  Retired.  Him from civil service, me from Tapestries of Hope.  Check.  Furniture, household items, books, clothes, outside stuff, donated or sold.  Check.  House sold (right as the housing industry went bust).  Check.  Friends left behind.  Check.  Life changed in every way.  Check.

We’ve seen all of the lower 48s-and been back again to explore more thoroughly.  The Pacific coast.  Check.  Gulf Coast.  Check.  Wintered in Florida.  Check.  Northern and southern routes, back roads, highways, logging roads, pathways.  Handsome Husband has needed to get a new suitcase twice, mine has held up very well.  We’ve streamlined what we carry with us, and built it back up again.  I’m finding that I need comforts around me, at least in a small way, so I’ve added some color and softness to my repertoire.

Life has happened in a huge way that was a nightmare as Handsome Husband dealt with the FC (that’s fucking cancer, but I don’t want to spell it out and offend anyone).  One surgery after another and finding out that we didn’t leave our friends behind at all.  They came out of the woodwork.  And now we’re AC.  After cancer.  I lived for this day while going through it with him.

Menopause while traveling-can that be an entirely separate blog?  Hot flashes that are really more accurately termed Heat Surges.  Rapid fire day and night, making me sleep deprived.  Causing such heat throughout that panic can set in, and hitch the breathing, which can lead to panic attacks unless breathing becomes a meditation.   Hormones racing so obviously through my blood that I swear I can feel them.  At such times I’m just better left alone-give me my two feet of space all around me.  Not because I get bitchy, but because the heat I give off is so strong that anyone within those two feet can get scorched.  (Yes, I exaggerate slightly here, but not much).

Systemic fungal infection, resulting from massive doses of radiation to kill the FC.  Yes, radiation was necessary.  We’d do it again, to save his arm.  But it killed his immune system.   Fighting this is a daily event, a minute by minute battle at times.   It’s a battle Handsome Husband is fighting on his own.  Doctors know, or don’t want to know, about fungal infections, and, if forced to do so, will treat symptoms, not the cause.   This has been tougher on him than the FC was, Handsome Husband says.  It just won’t go away. Its gotten better, with all that he does to treat it.  He should write a book about it, I tell him.  Weave your story in with all the massive research you’ve done, and put it in laymen’s terms, for the average reader.  Medical insurance doesn’t cover any of this, of course.  Call me cynical, but you’re never going to convince me that there isn’t some give-and-take between the medical profession, pharmaceuticals, and the insurance industry.   There would be no money if this was easily taken care of (like so many other things).  So we pay out-of-pocket for what works from one month to the next.  Because fungal infections can change, and what works at one point, doesn’t work at the next as it builds a resistance.  Dealing with this would be tough if we were stationary in a home, I have no doubt.  Out on the road its doubly difficult.   Nutrition on the road is something we never got figured out in a healthy way anyways, and this upped the ante considerably.

All of which to say, between me and my menopause and Handsome Husband and the systemic illness he deals with, we strive to exercise regularly every day, so that we can stay as healthy as possible.  Who wants to end up looking like a long distance hauler?  (no offense and bless their hearts, but you know the weight gains happen with that lifestyle-how can it not)?   We want to continue our Happily Homeless status for as long as possible, and it would put a real crimp in our plans if we each started looking like the Sta-Puff Marshmellow Man.  Not going to allow that!

So, yes.  You can travel even while dealing with health issues, or massive hormonal changes.  It can be tough, and yes, every situation is different.  Yes, it can add stress.  And you can keep from killing each other while going through it. It can be done.  We’re proof.   Our stay in Arizona continues through the end of January.  Next stop is California, for a few months.   Because I want to stay healthy, and need  to challenge myself, I’m beginning an intensive (well, intensive for me), exercise program.  I’m going to do push myself, my boundaries, my ohIhatetoexercise mindset.  I’m going to become the best me that I can be. (Doesn’t that sound triumphant)?   Gonna do it, gonna do it!   Today is day one.   Hiking, hooping, yoga-ing.  Running.  Walking.  Weights.  Making it happen right here!  Want to join me?

Why I must car bomb our Escape!

He said it calmly enough.  “Hand me some napkins, please.”

Let me set the scenario.  We’re driving with the windows and sunroof open.  The skies are blue, blue, blue.  The tunes are on.  I’m feeling good.  We’re on our way to Colorado, and outside the window, the ready to be harvested fields and prairies of Nebraska are spread out all around us.  There is no specter of the impending invasion.  Calm, calm, calm.

And then he says that.  I’ve learned, in the years that we’ve been married, to respond to those requests and ask questions afterwards.  Because it means something.  And this meant something, which I discovered as soon as I’d handed him a couple of napkins.  I had time to snap a picture-don’t ask me why I snapped a picture.  Evidence maybe, for when I went into hysterics.  This is what had shown up IN OUR CAR, where it had no right to be!  Where I never expected it, or anything remotely related to it, to appear.  And yet, there it was, creeping its’ way along the very edge of the driver’s side windshield.   One furry leg at a time, heading god knows where.  Handsome Husband valiantly attempted to squash it, while also attempting to drive with one hand.  (I imagine this is how many accidents happen around the world-horrible creatures suddenly appearing in cars, either causing hysteria in the driver, or in the passenger who is screaming at said driver to immediately if not sooner to nuke the crawly thing).  Not that I screamed.  I maintained my composure to a frightening degree as Handsome did what he could.    Only to find out, alas, that the hairy-legged unwelcome visitor, had disappeared.  Where?  Where on god’s green earth in a car, in that little area, could a huge spider like that disappear?  Handsome informed me that it could have easily crawled underneath the plastic thingy there (my word, not his).  You know, the frame part between the windshield and the door frame.  Ummmm….but where does it go from there?  (I wonder with pounding heart).  Will it meander its way to the bottom of the car, through the engine, and, I don’t know, swing like Spiderman to the ground?  That could happen.  But we all know that it won’t.

I spent the rest of our travel day keeping a wary eye on that corner of the window….waiting.  And that is clearly going to be how my days progress ad infinitum.  How else can they go?  That creature is in our car!  As I write this, it is very likely, climbing freely, willy nilly, through our belongings.  Maybe setting up a nest.  Finding another spider from I don’t know where, mating, and having millions of baby spiders, who will also run rampant through our stuff.  If it were possible, I’d empty the car out, turn it on end, and shake it madly, until this hairy thing falls out.  I’d be okay with it staying alive were I able to do this.  But there are no cranes around to assist me in this.  So, it looks like I must car bomb our car, and then we’ll not only be Happily Homeless, we’ll be sadly car-less.  This may strike some of you, dear readers, as going overboard with reaction.  We’re all entitled to our particular reactions.  This is mine.  Daddy Long Legs (and I don’t mean Fred Astaire) are barely acceptable.  Hairy legged dudes like this.  Completely unacceptable!   My true reaction to spiders?  Right here, folks~

Now, on to the next adventure.   We’re going exercise walking.  Which sounds simple enough.  We’ve been told that there is a great walkway along the lake, here in Alma, Nebraska.  Make sure to check it out, we’ve been told.  And, not to alarm us or anything, because there is no cause for alarm, as they aren’t poisonous, but there are bull snakes around, some up to 6 feet in length (which already exceeds my 1 inch basic worm allowance on length of snakes I might see).  No worries there though.  Once again, I say.  Ummm…..

Don’t worry. It isn’t poisonous~

those moments that make you go…huh…

Receiving top ranking on our list of “you really need to go here” is Crater Lake.  Each time we’ve been there, we’ve seen something new, and who can tire of gazing at that not to be believed topaz color of the lake?  Our first trip there a few years back, we drove around the Rim, and its worth your time to do it that way. Our second time, which was this visit, we hiked the Garfield Peak trail that took us to the top of the Rim-a whole other perspective.  Along the way we met our new friend, Leana, a young woman from Croatia, who answered all my questions about “couchsurfing” (which will be yet another post!) And last week, we, along with our daughter Rachael-Grace and her husband Sean, hiked down to the bottom, along the only trail that leads right to the lake.  What a perfect day of weather, exercise, extravagant views, and a chance to watch Sean jump 18 ft from a rock to the lake below!  

I was quite a bit less adventurous, and settled for dipping my toes in-but that ranked as one of those “I never thought I’d do this” moments.  A good hike, some lunch, pleasingly tired, and a simple statement from Handsome Husband that he’d like to take a different route home.  A check of the map, and yes, the roads were there, but, well, they were small enough roads that they were nameless.  No worries, though!  I had confidence in Handsome Husband finding our way through the mountains-his nickname in the Air Force was, after all, “the Pathfinder”.  How could we go wrong?  And, really, we didn’t go wrong at all, other than a brief right when we needed to go left, and over that little bridge.  Which we corrected pretty quickly.  So what you need to know about these roads we were traveling upon is that they were logging roads, which means that they were unpaved (read: gravel), narrow (maybe, at the most, in some spots, 1 1/2 car widths), unmarked, unlit, and, as we found out, not busy.  As in, we didn’t see another car for 3 hours.  But that’s good, right?  No gaper delays, no traffic jams, no bad drivers…

On our map was marked a town called “Tiller”-it was the only town for some distance, and we agreed that we would stop there and get a bite to eat.  It was a good plan, though I guess we didn’t take into account that we were working with an East Coast state of mind, which means not taking time into account. (more on that later).  We drove, and we drove, and we drove…goodness, the scenery was breathtaking, as had been promised to us, and we duly admired it.  Tall Douglas firs-reaching to the skies, lots of thick undergrowth, and, hidden in there, this sign…
No big deal.  We were seeing a part of Oregon not previously seen, and isn’t that what “Happily Homeless” is all about? (yes).  It was getting late, though, and we were, to be honest, getting tired, and our butts were getting numb from sitting, but there wasn’t anywhere to stop-nothing but trees and narrow roads, no shoulders, no rest areas, needless to say!  But look!  There’s a sign for “Tiller”!  Almost somewhere, so that’s good.  We’ll get out and stretch, find some food-life is good!  In the distance, as we approached nearer to the town limits, we spied a man walking alongside the road; the first human we’d seen for some hours.  Civilization!  As we approached him in our dusty and dirt encrusted, car, daughter Rachael saw that this man rambling alongside the road was carrying something in his hand, and jokingly said “look, he’s carrying an axe!”  Which, given all the abounding trees, didn’t seem that odd.  Well, there is the fact that he was shirtless.  Not that strange-it was summer after all.  And we got closer, and there seemed to be something white over the lower half of his face.  He was friendly, giving a wave of his hand as as we passed by.  BUT, as we passed him by, we saw that the white covering on his face was kleenex stuck up his nose, which was seemingly to catch the dripping blood, because it was stained red-and the “axe” he was carrying wasn’t an axe at all, but a….yes, that’s a rifle, folks!  Is that a scope on the rifle?  Could someone please tell me exactly how far we are from town?  Because I’m suddenly not terribly comfortable out here, in the middle of goodgodforsaking nowhere, keeping company with a rifle toting, shirtless, bleeding from the nose, dude-sorry and all that and he might be the nicest person to ever be born, but I didn’t want to end up as a movie of the week!  Ahh, look!  There’s a turn-let’s take the right and go into town, maybe calm ourselves after that.  Which we did, for all of the (seriously) 2 minutes it took to drive into town, see the church, the cafe (closed, and, as SIL Sean said, well, it is after 7pm), a couple of ramshacklin’…shacks. Turn around, retrace our steps, and drive out of town.  Tiller may have been the nicest town we’d ever want to visit,  and maybe another day we’ll return and explore and find out who our highway friend was, but, folks, on this day, we were out of there!  Adding to the general sense of weirdness was this: as we winded our way towards home, I looked at my much loved husband and said “you know who that guy alongside the road reminded me of?” and, without hesitating, Handsome said “your ex.”  So it wasn’t just me imagining strange, strange, things!  That is exactly what I was going to tell him!  Not the gun part, but his build and his gait, maybe the bloody nose…None of it meant anything, I realize-but what an ending to a strange experience in the mountains of Oregon…

Long story short: we did indeed find our way back to civilization, found a lovely Mexican restaurant where, in the twilight, we dined while enjoying a river view and an uplifting breeze.  And I have no moral of this story for you-just a further understanding that, as we have discovered, the real adventures of the road, large and small, happen when we get off the beaten track.  In the midst of them, there maybe some unsettling moments, some downright “huh” moments such as this was, but its all part of the packaging…isn’t it?