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I call my neighbor frequently. We’ve become great friends over the last couple of years and talk almost every day – either on the phone or visiting each others’ houses.

She has two daughters and they frequently answer the phone when I call. The younger one has a unique and very literal perspective. More than once, I’ve called and – when she answered – asked “What is your mother doing?” She will tell me and then wait. Sometimes I follow it with “Well, can I talk to her?” If I say nothing, she’ll ask “Do you want to talk to her?”

Yesterday, I was feeling a little ornery. I called my neighbor, and when her daughter answered I asked, as always “What is your mother doing?” The eleven year old answered “Watching American Idol.” I responded “Oh. Ok.” and then I hung up.

She didn’t even question it. She went and sat back down. Her mother asked her who called and she told her. She asked what I wanted and she told her. Laughing, she called me back.

We spent the next 20 minutes on the phone giggling over it. It felt good to laugh like that with all the bad things going on in the world. When Mike came home, I was still laughing. I think about it now and smile. Sometimes, it’s the little things . . . . .

“News – Breaking news
Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010
Wife allegedly changes wires on saw to shock hubby
The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Court papers allege that an Olympia woman, angry that her husband left her, tampered with his power tools so that he received a powerful electric shock. Carolyn Paulsen-Riat was booked Friday into the Thurston County Jail for investigation of third-degree assault, domestic violence, and second-degree malicious mischief. A judge released the 33-year-old woman on her own recognizance.

The Olympian newspaper reported that court documents said that on Jan. 1, the man was using a 220-volt table saw when he received the shock, knocking him to the ground. Thurston County sheriff’s deputies said the man did not need to go to a hospital.

In the documents, deputies said the woman told them she had reversed the wires on his power tools because she was angry he was leaving.”

And I contemplated all the terrible things I wanted to do to my ex-husband when it was all new and fresh. And I’m mostly glad I didn’t. Although that one might have been worth it.

Who am I really?

It was June of 2006. My children were growing up and I found myself with some time on my hands. I wandered around the house, restless, missing the days of my youth. Then I decided to get the dog groomed. His underfur makes the summers very hot.

The lady at the grooming place agreed to work around my schedule to drop him off and pick him up. Her name is Sue. She was having a slow day and so was I. I noted the pictures in her waiting area – all sorts of horses and dogs – and I asked her about them.

We started talking about animals and she explained to me that she rescues horses and dogs that might otherwise be put down. As she told me about one she was working with at the time, my eyes started to sparkle. “Sounds like fun” I commented.

She asked if I knew about horses. I confessed that I had spent most of my first 20 years on horseback. She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. There was a horse that she had that was just too much for her to handle. She had turned her ankle recently and the horse was too tall for her to get on easily. Would I be interested in exercising him for her?

Indeed I would. A couple of days later, I was at her place. I helped her saddle the horses and we started out on our ride down the country road. It felt good to be in the saddle and the horse was just feisty enough to make the ride an enjoyable challenge. I had to stand on a bucket to reach the stirrups, he was so big.

We rode along the edge of the street, getting the horse I was on used to cars going by. Then a car drove by that I recognized. It was my son’s girlfriend and one of her friends. I laughed and told Sue “Well, that should cause some confusion.”

Moments later the car came back and pulled up next to us as we rode. My son’s girlfriend hung out the window and exclaimed “HEY! YOU’RE ON A HORSE!” She looked confused and concerned. I laughed, looked down and said “Oh my GOD, you’re right! How did that happen?” and then “Really, it’s ok. I do know what I’m doing.”

We rode until dark, through the neighborhood and around the area. We stopped at my house and I got my big flashlight to use as a headlight when night fell.

That day, just for a while, I was 16 again. The horse did buck. And I did not fall off. And I had fun.

Change is good.

There are times when I spin my wheels, never quite moving forward. Usually it’s when my body isn’t up to par, sometimes it’s just a vague feeling of blah. And then other times, I get a burst of energy and just go like gangbusters. I’d love to have balance and be that effective all the time.

My world is in transition this week. Mike has taken a new job that keeps him away overnight twice a week. The quiet is a change. I’m adjusting fairly quickly. I have a list of projects that have been put off that I can finish. I can deep clean and dust without worrying about whether it would kick up Mike’s severe allergies and asthma.

I find myself falling into “kids’ weekend” mode. When my children were young, they went to their father’s house every other weekend. It was an adjustment at first, then I learned to enjoy it. The first thing I would do is clean the whole house and put everything in order. Because I knew it would stay that way until they returned.

I called it my ’48 hours of freedom’. My friends asked me “what will you do?” And the answer was then and the answer is now “Everything or nothing.”

Tonight I cooked a pot of chili, sharing it with my son and his room mate. With enough left over so that when Mike returns I have dinner ready to put on the table. I have to double check myself on all those little things he took care of for me. Pets are fed and watered. The litter box looks like it can wait until tomorrow. Dishes are done. Table is cleared.

And now, I’m going to go curl up with a good book and read until I fall asleep. I’ll adjust. Really. Change is good.

Sunday afternoons are usually spent entertaining the children.  This weekend that included sledding and playing online games (I’m now puppy sitting a virtual chihuahua during the week for the princess).  Usually towards mid afternoon, we start gearing up to take Mike’s children back to their mother’s house.

This weekend was no different.  As the afternoon wore on, we found ourselves sitting all sitting in the living room just enjoying each others’ company.  I happened to glance out the front door and then looked harder.  There was a squirrel on my front porch rail.  That’s not unusual in itself, because I have several squirrels that live in my trees.  What was unusual was what he had in his mouth.

I pointed it out to the children “Hey, what does that squirrel have in his mouth?  Is that a pancake?”  It was huge, compared to the squirrel.  I reached for my camera.  By the time I got to the front door, he had scurried up the tree, out of my sight.

I sat back down at my desk and we went back to deciding how to spend the rest of our time together.  Suddenly Derrick called out “There he is again.”  This time, the squirrel had half of a donut.

We watched as he scurried up the tree with the donut that was almost as big as he was.  I guess he was stocking up for the cold as well.
Ambitious Squirrel

We should all be so resourceful!

The Ultimate Compliment

It was the early 90’s and I was in the midst of divorcing the man with whom I’d planned on spending the rest of my life.  It wasn’t a pretty time.  We fought with the same passion we’d had in loving each other.  The lawyers became our only method of communication.

At some point, things began to settle down and life as we knew it fell into a pattern.  I worked, attended classes, raised the boys to the best of my ability.  He took the boys every other weekend.  At some point, my ex-husband and I became civil to one another.  He got into a relationship with someone else and so did I.

One afternoon my phone rang and it was him.  It was odd for him to call me and I assumed it was something to do with the children.  Instead, he asked a question that rather caught me by surprise.  “Could I get your recipes for some of my favorite meals to give to my girlfriend?”

I chuckled to myself and made copies for him.  And, in spite of encouragement from my friends to not include everything, I copied them as exactly as I could.

I thought of him today, when Mike’s son returned from a visit with his aunt and grandparents.  We were sitting down to dinner when they arrived.  It was one of my quick meals – tuna casserole, green beans and garlic bread.

When they came in, I asked if they had eaten and they said they had.  I fed the others and wandered back and forth between the kitchen and living room, alternating between supervising the meal and visiting with the family.

When the children were done eating I went into the kitchen to clear off the table and put away any leftovers.  And there I found Mike’s younger son, with a plate of tuna casserole in front of him.

I grinned.  “I thought you just ate before you came home.”  He grinned back.  “I did, but you know I love your cheesy tuna casserole.”

After dinner, I peeled and chopped potatoes and an onion for tomorrow’s potato soup.  I put them on to cook and continued with my other little projects.  Before I knew it, there were three children at the table.  “Whatcha’ cooking?”  “Potato soup for tomorrow’s lunch.”  “Oh.  It sure smells good.”  In that moment, I felt like I’d received the ultimate compliment again.

I had just returned from a trip for work and was sharing the pictures I had taken with a friend.  I had visited Las Vegas, NV and wandered out to Red Rock canyon and then Mount Charleston in my spare time.

She looked through the pictures and made sounds of appreciation for the beauty I had captured with my camera.  After a while, she sighed and said “Oh you go to such beautiful places!”  I contemplated her assumption for a moment, but before I could respond she commented again.

“Or is it that you find beauty wherever you go?”

What do you see when you look at the world?  Do you find beauty wherever you go?  If you don’t , you should try it sometime.  It has brought me many joyful moments in my life.