Rainy Days

It’s raining.puddle

It’s been raining for two days. Large drops of water, not a light sprinkle, but real honest to goodness rain.

This is major news for Californians who have not seen rain in a number of years.

I seem to be spending a lot of time at one window or another, watching the rain fall as though I’ve never seen it before. I’m very tempted to run outside and jump in the middle of a puddle, but I’m still wrapped cozy in my robe and sipping at a large mug of steaming, rich morning coffee so puddle-jumping may be better left to children walking to school.

The cat, who typically sits impatiently at the door each morning waiting to make his escape, took one long look at the grey, the cold and the wet before turning tail and finding the nearest warm quilt on which to curl up and return to sleep.

In this new home, the cat and I can hear the rain on the roof and throughout the night, the rain serenaded our sleep. Nature’s lullaby. I’ve missed it terribly. 

It’s funny that as everything stops, the daily to-do put aside in order to listen to the rain fall, memories come flooding back. Last night brought an unexpected and bittersweet memory of a fierce midnight rain and wind storm from a few years past, of slipping into sleep while being held close, familiar arms wrapped strong around me, familiar breathing shallow on my neck — all so ordinary but that night, also feeling so safe and protected as the storm ranted and raged around us. There are times that I miss this even more than the sound of the rain.

I remembered the last drought from years and years ago.  When it broke with a deluge of rain, I was in class teaching sophomore English II students.  I looked at the kids, looked out the open door at the rain because there were no windows in the classroom, put down the textbook and walked outside into the torrential downpour.  The kids followed and there we were, thirty of us joyfully and uninhibitedly dancing to the music of the rain.

At the end of the school year, one of the students, a studious young African American woman, came by to thank me.  Your class terrified me because I never knew what was going to happen from one minute to the next. I’ve learned more from this class…

On that note, there is a puddle or two waiting just for me…

The Cat Lady

I’ve received a number of requests to write more about dating, more specifically dating in our more mature years…mature, of course, referring to chronological age, not maturity.  Women seem to find these posts especially amusing.

Sigh.

When I left the classroom to design, build and coordinate a school program linking mental, social and physical health services into a school campus, it was a steep learning curve because I knew little or nothing about mental and social health issues and only a bit more about physical health — typically, what the kids or I had experienced. 

English majors are pretty much equipped to do little more than write, edit, teach or open an English Shoppe.  On the other hand, most of us who teach can bluff pretty well, being only a day or two ahead of our students, so when I raised my hand to take on a new adventure, I sure looked like I was qualified.

uh huh.

First week on the job and I heard the therapists talking about Mr. Man of the Moment or The Sperm Donor — the fathers of the unborn children of the young pregnant teens who had come into the center.  Their dark humor was not much different than what had been found in my old English Office.

It seems that not a whole lot has changed with reaching the senior years, except that if one is dating within one’s age group, the woman is not going to get pregnant.  At least, that was my assumption, evidently an ill-conceived one, as it appears that the only women seriously dating are in their twenties.  I learned that from a number of articles and blogs written for the dating population.

The first bit of advice I found was a list of cautionary notes for dating older men: 

  • The Mr. Set in His Ways, AKA I have my life already scheduled and have time for you two nights a week from 8 to 10 PM.  Do not think for a moment he’ll change: Run;
  • The Mr. Commitmentphobe, from whom you run run as fast as you can unless he’s George Clooney (given he’s off the market,  just run);
  • The Bitter Angry Dude, which says it all;
  • The Flake as in I’ll call you in the morning but neglects to mention which month;
  • The Kid Guy, who uses his kids for an excuse even when the kids are in their twenties.

I’ve dated a few of these men over the years and, fair enough, these are excellent insights, except the article was written for women in their twenties dating older men.  Good grief.  Go date men in your own age bracket. Men wouldn’t consider dating anyone twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years older than themselves and neither should you.

The next article I found was written by a man who warned women that time is a fleeting commodity, at least for females, and it was followed by input from many, many men, all of whom were probably just out of middle school.  The consensus:  women in their early twenties are in their prime and a thirty year old woman who is “hot” could possibly compete, but only for a short while.

After that, it’s spinsterhood.  Women in their forties were pretty much discounted.

That pretty much puts me in the petrified forest category.

Evidently the only women who actually marry are those who might snare the male through conveniently forgetting the pill and getting pregnant.  Or, we circle back to Mr. Man of the Moment, AKA The Sperm Donor, and the conniving woman is with child and on her own.

His conclusion:  If a woman holds out for Mr. Wonderful, she’s going to be disappointed as men are no doubt having fun with (the writer only used one word, not three, although it also started with an “f” and ended with an “ing”)  a younger hot number.  The hold-out woman runs the risk of becoming “yet another 40 year old cat lady.”

Well, that certainly explains everything. 

And, on that note, Where’s BlackJack?

Beginners Golf

I had a friend. She IMG_2453was a golfer. She is a golfer. It is her life.

We were retiring at the same time.  Her plan was to play golf for the next 100 or so years and, as far as I know, she’s kept to her plan.

At the time, just before retirement, she was fairly certain that if our friendship was going to continue in any meaningful manner, I needed to play golf.

I was game to learn even though I had never held a golf club in my life.  Actually, that’s not true.  I did take golf in high school and the coach told me to pick up the ball and throw it; it’d go farther. Those words no doubt colored any thought of my ever taking up the sport.

I did need a hobby …. or at least, I thought I did as I also knew nothing at all about retirement.  As it turns out, I am far busier in retirement than I ever was when I was working.  I’m not quite sure how I had so much free time when I had a full time job.

One spring afternoon, my friend and I met at the local golf course, where she introduced me to her pro, a very nice woman who was very encouraging and helpful, especially in signing me up for a whole bunch of lessons.  I showed up for each and every lesson and soon realized that this whole golf hobby was far beyond what I had originally bargained for.

The thing about golf is that you need clubs — a whole lot of clubs, as it turns out, most of which I have no idea when to use.  The clubs also need a bag in which to reside.  Actually, the clubs need two bags, a small one to walk a couple of very special clubs to the green — that’s where the ball eventually finds the hole — and a large bag to carry all of them along the rest of course.

There are also balls, tees, a cloth to keep everything clean, place markers, a divot tool, gloves, caddy, a visor and a whole assortment of colorful thingamajigs that go inside the pockets of the large golf bag and then promptly get lost somewhere at the bottom. But, because they’re critical to the game, you need to keep replacing them.

It’s rather like kids’ socks and the washers that eat them.  You have no idea where they go, just that you have to keep replacing the socks or, in golf’s case, the thingamajigs, in order to keep everything balanced and in its proper order.

Once properly outfitted, the bag is far too heavy to carry, especially with all those missing items at the bottom, so that means investing in a push cart for short courses and a golf cart for longer ones.

In order to actually get onto the course, you need both the proper clothes and shoes, neither of which can be used for anything other than golf and are season specific.  Women’s clothes and shoes, while a tad pricey, are very cute to wear and are easy to color-coordinate with the bag, clubs, balls, markers, tees and shoes.  My personal color preference is deep purple which goes with my silvery-white hair but unfortunately clashes with the light green golf bag that was purchased when I was a blondy-auburn.

I think golf is actually about as expensive and time intensive as owning a horse which is another activity that drains the bank account.

After taking the lessons, practicing at the range, buying the irons, woods, balls, tees and thingamajigs, I went out to lunch with my former friend.

When are we going to play?

It’ll be a while. I’m moving to La Quinta.  Maybe when you visit…

For a brief moment, I thought about wrapping my driver around her neck, except it was in the bag on the push cart in the garage and, besides, I wasn’t exactly sure which club it was.

Regardless, I was pretty sure the club was too darn expensive to even consider bending it. 

Profiles in Code

I was considering writing a book on Internet Dating Codes except it’s already been done numerous times without a lot of success. Most of us realize that the online profile narratives are written in Code and, like most things in life, men and women use very different Codes. Therein lies a great deal of the challenge of internet dating.

Online profile writing coaches — yes, there is such a job and, yes, there are many such services — tell women to keep it light.  Delete the White Picket Fences and Happily Ever Afters and use words like fun, laughter, outdoors and adventure.

Fair enough.

Then I stumbled upon a website that interprets women’s profile Codes for men.

According to that website, if a woman writes that she likes to have fun, she really wants to have sex.

If a woman writes that she enjoys laughter, she really wants to have sex.

And, if a woman writes that she likes the outdoors and adventure, she wants to hike and set up camp in the back country where she really wants to have sex.

oh.

Numerous websites note that women have their unique set of Codes:

If a woman writes that she wants to start with a friendship and see where it goes, she really wants a long term committed relationship complete with the Happily Ever After and optional White Picket Fence.

If a woman writes that you must love animals, she probably has a minimum of ten cats that will be included in the long term committed relationship.

And, if a woman writes that you must love family, she probably has her kids, grandkids and/or parents living with her and will be included in the long term relationship.  Men don’t need a Code Translator to know exactly what that means in terms of a sex life.

Other websites list the Codes used by men:

If a man writes that he is very spiritual, he is probably without a job or retirement income and is looking for room, board and a warm bed in which to have sex.

If a man writes that he is laid back, he is probably a couch potato and his only exercise is getting up for another beer or having sex.

And, if a man writes that he is seeking a woman with a specific hair and/or eye color, he is really shopping for a car.

I once got an email from a man on an internet dating site who had written in his profile that he had a lot of interests, including Sports that began with the letter S.  I thought about that and concluded that he might have meant soccer, shuffleboard, swimming, scuba diving, sailing, snorkeling, skiing, squash, surfing, skateboarding…

ok, I’m not that naive. We were both in our mid-sixties, so he probably did not mean skateboarding.

I also figured that he enjoyed sex and was being a bit creative in stating it. 

After a number of emails back and forth, we met for the obligatory coffee. 

He was a very nice, retired professional man and, in short order, disclosed his favorite S sport.

There is evidently one additional sport that begins with the letter S: Swinging.  Not Swing as in dance.  Swing as in Swingers.

Who knew?  It had simply never crossed my mind. S is for Swinging.

Holy Mackerel.

And, if you are even thinking for a split second of asking me anything, the answer was no.

 

A Man and his Dog

I don’t pretend to know how or why it happens, but dogs (the four legged variety) want to be with me, especially the large working dogs. They love me. They look at me with adoring eyes. They follow me anywhere. I used to think that if I could attract men like I can attract dogs…but that is another story for another day.

I had a date with a man who had a Rottweiler that he was trying to train as a guard dog.  That was scary.  He had been the volunteer “bad guy” in the training of German Shepherds for a local police department, which meant he knew about as much as I did about K9s.

Maybe I knew a bit more.

When our two older German Shepherds went on to their just rewards in doggie heaven, I decided we were way past the puppy stage of life and called a friend who was a police chief.

How can I get a retired K9?

Call Randy. 

So I did, and Fero, a retired K9, came into our lives.  He was a Schutzhund III (the masters level of training: obedience, tracking, protection) German Shepherd from Germany.  He also had a teddy bear and a K9 Vocabulary List in German and English.

Date was impressed with my background, having had both a retired K9 and the Vocabulary List, and wanted me to meet his Dog, although he warned me that Rotts can be quite strong, dangerous and males are one-man animals. Date evidently missed the part of the training about K9s needing to also be family dogs.

Date warned Keep your distance and do not approach Dog. I didn’t have to as Dog had already bounded across the room, body wagging tail and looking at me with adoring eyes and a silly smile.

The three of us sat down, with me in the middle.

Date warned, Be careful; he’s a guard dog. Dog tried to sit on my lap before finally settling on leaning into me and begging for attention.

Date warned, Dog could turn on you at any moment. Dog started groaning, drooling and wiggling his entire body in ecstasy from the back and shoulder massage I was giving him.
rott

Date wondered, Have I lost control of my dog? Dog promptly flopped down, rolled over on his back and began whining for a tummy rub.

Date advised, Be careful, he could bite your face and right on cue, Dog jumped up, turned, put his huge front paws on my lap, leaned his enormous head into mine, licked my face and looked at me with a big goofy grin.

At which point, I could see Date, not Dog, was in distress and growing more agitated, so I got up to leave.

I could hear Dog crying and howling as I left. Date, not so much, but then again, Dog and I had a much stronger connection.

Serendipity

I marvel at Serendipity.

I love the sound of Serendipity rolling off the tongue and, in that instant, there is a whole world of possibilities.

If Serendipity could be held in my hand, I imagine it would be an old-fashion kaleidoscope. Spin the cylinder and, as if by magic, all the tiny unimportant, unconnected pieces of glass, beads and pebbles come together to create an image that holds all the possibilities of a moment that may never be seen again. 

The challenge may be in noticing and embracing those serendipitous moments in our lives, especially when a particular pattern appears, quietly slips away and then unexpectedly reappears later down the road.

My moment of Serendipity has been in the making over many years.  It began when I was still working. A colleague, also a friend, and I met monthly over the course of a few years to keep each other up to date on campus safety issues.

At the end of almost every conversation, he’d pause and reflect,

You know, when I retire, my wife and I are moving to a small lake community in the Sierra Foothills. It is so beautiful and peaceful. We absolutely love it.

With that, Serendipity planted its seed and waited to be nurtured.

One long decade later,  just a little over a year ago, in one of those moments you just know is surrounded by Serendipity, I met a man from a small town in the Sierra Foothills.

I told him about my colleague who had moved up to a lake community in the area. He told me it was beautiful.

I’ve lived at that lake for over twenty years!  He’s right. It is incredibly beautiful. Who’s your friend?

Turns out they’ve been golf partners for years.

Serendipity.

It led to a Road Trip. 

And a second Road Trip. 

And, yes, the lake and the community are as beautiful as I had imagined. So is the entire area. It’s no wonder I was mesmerized.

A few months later, with the help of two friends — one old, one new — the perfect home found me and, within a matter of weeks, I was packed and moved.

I now look in any direction and am surrounded by vistas that are, at the same moment, both breathtaking and serene.  They’ve become a sanctuary, holding and nourishing my soul while re-igniting a passion for writing.

It is in this moment of pure Serendipity that my spirit sings again.

cropped-img_3447-11.jpg

Four Women and a Cute Red Convertible

It was in the midst of summer break and an August heat wave. Everyone was baking. I had planned on staying right in front of a fan and window air conditioner, reading a light novel, when the service department at my car dealership called.

We’ve had a cancellation and can take your car.  Can you bring it in late this afternoon?

Sure, but I’ll need a loaner.  I grimaced at the thought of going out in the heat but my car was overdue for its service.

When I got to the dealership, there only one loaner available, a cute red convertible. 

oh, what a shame.

I drove home and into the driveway as Sabra pulled up behind me.

A convertible? In this heat? Beach!!

We threw a couple of sweatshirts in the trunk — this is California weather, after all — jumped in and took off.

Let’s get Jane!

Jane had an out of state girlfriend visiting so we kidnapped both and they hopped in the backseat of the cute red convertible.

Do you want to grab a sweater?

Nah, it’s hot. 

Uh huh.

By the time we hit the freeway, top down, something had happened.  Our hair was blowing wild in the wind, we were laughing and we were singing loudly, if a bit off key, to the songs on the radio from the 60’s. 

It was magical. Suddenly, we were young, we were single, we were free of responsibilities, we were driving in our cute red convertible during an August heat wave and we were headed to the beach.

Jane started flirting with men in any car without a woman.  We joined in the fun. The men were younger than our sons, but it didn’t matter. Most just smiled or ignored us, but a few waved, whistled and flirted back.  We laughed and sang just a bit louder.

Let’s go to the Boardwalk!

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk has been there forever.  The rides are legend and, here we were, four single women in a cute red convertible on a Hot August Night, getting younger by the minute and ready for fun.

Almost immediately we found a parking place with no meter.  Things were definitely going our way.

We jumped out of our cute red convertible, locked it up and headed in.boardwalk 2

Let’s go on the Giant Dipper…

Let’s get cotton candy…

Let’s…

We were right in the thick of things, the crowds, the excitement, the carnie barkers when, one by one, we realized something was amiss.

I was the only one with a wallet.  It held my driver’s license and 32 cents.

Not one of us had brought our purses. Not one of us had a debit or credit card. We were four single women with a cute red convertible on a Hot August Night at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with, after digging deep into our pockets, a grand total of $1.87.

It wasn’t enough for an ice cream cone, much less a ride on the Giant Dipper or cotton candy, so we pooled our funds and each got our fortune told by an ancient mechanical Grandma.

She wasn’t very good. Then we got hungry.

So we left, getting back in the cute red convertible with the top still down. We were midway over the hill when the heatwave suddenly broke. Fog and cold air poured over the mountain road, as is apt to happen in California. With nowhere to stop to put up the top on our cute red convertible, we froze. Even in our sweatshirts, we froze.  The kidnapped pair in the backseat, without sweatshirts, huddled together, their teeth were chattering. The drive home seemed to take forever.

Sometimes reality can just be so cruel.