Between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m.

What occurs late at night except thoughts? Piano music plays in the background, very softly, an empty wine glass on the table beside me, my dog sleeping beside me, my husband talking in his sleep in our bedroom, and in this half-hour my mind wanders to my life as it has thus far been lived.

Tonight I am peeling from first degree sunburn caused from behavior reminiscent of my youth. Jumping in the ocean, diving thru forceful waves, being tossed and tumbled by water overcoming my strength to stand, and the delightful feeling of having total enjoyment as I leap through the Atlantic waters forgetting that I am a sunburned prone 78 year old woman whose youth has left her. No matter, I am not old, I am not weak, I am capable of having a damn good time playing in the ocean. What an awesome moment realizing my life is anything but over; that I am still strong enough to enjoy the pleasures handed me by nature. Perhaps my mind should have told me I was burning my body by staying in the water too long, letting the rays of the sun pierce the water toward my skin. I believe I knew, but how could I leave the exhilaration of the water covering my body, sharing delightful high tide waves with my sons, who also seemed to thrive in the water. We all forgot the real world and disappeared in the pure joy of living.

And then it was time to leave, to return home, and pay the consequences of hours in the ocean having fun: peeling skin, fatigue, swollen lips crusted with blood and scabs, and fantastic memories. Would I do it again? You’re damn right I would.

Winter night, thoughts, wine

Months pass, time melds into a blur of living, loss occurs, and we continue on, hoping for a peaceful evening with no worries about what is occurring around us. Sometimes reality is too harsh to face, and yet we must. If not for us, but for those who love us. We sustain grief over losing a loved pet; we worry about the health of a loved husband; within us we feel the painful sickness taking the life of a loved friend; we miss the human touch of those far away, both living and passed on; and yet we continue day-to-day living. How do we do that? How is it possible to have lived these many years and lost so much, and still arise each morning happy to be here and able to live another day? The human spirit thrives in just simply being a part of this earth, a part of the goodness that still manages to rise within the turmoil of daily life.

I find it hard to comprehend all that mentally confronts me daily. I don’t mean to trivialize; after all, I have everything anyone could possibly need to be content. I have a warm home, a family that loves me, food, health….what else is there? A peaceful mind is all that is missing. To be able to discard the hatred I harbor for those who are cowardly and destructive; who grasp for power rather than truth; who wish to destroy what is good around them. If only I could rid those people from my daily thoughts, then, perhaps, I could find a restful place within myself.

Of course, the daily glass of Pinot works for a short time.

TIME PASSING and a sip of wine

It’s late, and, as usual, I can’t sleep.  So, my thoughts jump in and realizations appear.  Odd thing, aging.  It plays with your mind and things you never thought about before begin to enter.  Tonight my thoughts are the sad realization that if I live as long as my mother, I have about ten years left on this earth.  That means that if I see my oldest son and only daughter once a year for the rest of my life, I will see each of them ten more times before I die.  Isn’t that the strangest thing to dwell on? Both of those well-loved children live far from my husband and me, so real life visits are few. Phone conversations do take place, but, of course, that is not quite the same as close personal touching. Probably these thoughts come to me because of the COVID thing; you know, the isolation, the inability to travel, time hurrying by.

I am fortunate that I have one son living nearby, and I am always filled with loving, happy feelings when I am near him and can share life with him. He and I often enjoy tasting new wines while digging into our take on the turmoils occurring in our world right now. We have much in common, like bird watching, planting flowers, walking, and more. He is fun to be with, and a joy and comfort to both my husband and me.

That does not mean that I don’t feel the love of, and for, my other children. I have much in common with them, too. My daughter and I love our horses, and the outdoors, and sharing opinions, but she is not here. My eldest son and I share philosophical ideas, and dreams, and a love of nature, but he is not here, either. There is this heavy feeling of loss because of their absence in my life. Now that I’m no longer a young person in body or energy, I find I am still mentally and emotionally capable of living a satisfying life. I am, however, aroused by memories of my past life, and because of that I think of odd things like how many times will I see my children before I die.

I truly do not feel old, and I truly do enjoy my life, but occasionally reality throws itself at me and acknowledges that time is short and I better get myself going if I intend to continue living a full life. That means it’s time to walk the dogs, ride the horse, enjoy time with my son and his family, and keep my arms tightly around the man I have loved and shared most of my life with. And yes, enjoy a glass of Pinot.

Jazz, Wine, Thoughts

Is there anything better than an evening listening to smooth jazz? I find listening to KennyG, Nat King Cole, Sade, Paul Taylor and others brings a comforting mellowness to my mood. I am relaxed and able to block the turmoil of my country out for awhile. Sipping Pinot Noir also helps erase the tension I usually feel.

And why do I feel tension? Because I watch the morning and evening news. And why, in fact, do I watch news that cause me to feel hopeless and helpless? Because I want to know what good and bad happenings are occurring. I believe I have an obligation to follow events taking place throughout my country and world. I want to be informed and be knowledgeable about politics, science, history, humanity, and worldwide events. How else can I make a positive difference and hopefully teach others to think about how their actions affect others? How else can I participate in knowledgeable discussion and make valid decisions on how to live my life?

As I listen to these jazz musicians I notice they are mostly Black artists, and I wonder how they can create such beautiful music when they have felt deprivations of freedoms that I have always enjoyed? The music is peaceful and comfortable. There is no hatred in this music. I hear romance, love, serenity and friendliness. Can you imagine what it felt like to be Nat King Cole or Ray Charles or the hundreds of black musicians who, after entertaining their white audiences, were not allowed to dine where whites ate or enter the same hotels as those who applauded them? I believe those terrible days are in the past, and yet there are those who still show disrespect and hate toward black skinned human beings. I find that unimaginable. I do understand the enmity many black citizens feel toward we white skinned people. We have allowed hate-filled whites to terrorize our black neighbors and cause them to be fearful of walking through our mostly white neighborhoods and our cities. I see the Black Lives Matter movement, which includes participants of all colors of skin, to be a hopeful step toward a better, kinder nation and world. I would like to see this happen during my lifetime, and since I am well into my 70’s, the world better hurry.

And as usual, I wander from my initial thoughts, and so now I return to my mellow, or is it melancholy, mood. I finished my wine, I’ve listened to hours of awesome music, and I am tired.

My Daughter’s Birthday

Fifty years ago I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, and today I celebrate those 50 years. While she and I live thousands of miles apart , we have managed to remain close. I often wonder about the mothers whose children embarked on lifelong journeys during times of no communication devices. How sad and distraught they must have been to know their child was gone, and probably never to be seen again. I am thankful I live in a time when we can “zoom” and visit over the airwaves. While it’s not the same as sharing day-to-day life, it is a pleasure to see her and hear her voice in the present time.

So, I wish my daughter a wonderful future in her faraway place, and share my love through the digital world.

Wine,Turmoil, Racism

I’m on my patio this evening well past the time when most folks are in bed. I’ve been thinking about my peaceful life, while listening to the vehicles on the nearby highway droning like a million bees interfering in my solitary thoughts. While the droning is ongoing, my mind causes the insistent sound to be a reminder of life going on around me. I don’t mind the sound of travelers moving on, but I’d rather listen to silence, total silence.

I’m enjoying my glass of Pinot Noir while I know the rest of my country is in turmoil. Because I am in the twilight of my years, I did not participate in the marches taking place in Cincinnati, but I should have, to let the people know I understand their plight, even while I do not suffer from it. I am a 77 year old grandmother who happens to have white skin. I am one-half Italian and one-half Irish, and I have a bad temper that I have learned to keep under control. I know if I had suffered the pains of the black community my temper would probably have exploded long ago. I doubt I would have been so patient with my country that had failed to recognize or understand what it’s like to be knocked down every time you take a step forward. But, I did not march with the protestors, and if I am honest, I think I was afraid of being injured or jailed. So I am a typical white person who espouses understanding but who does nothing to counter the injustice. And that is why we are here right now. There are millions like me who don’t, or won’t, step up and speak the truth, who standby and hope for the best.

I did show my solidarity to a cause I believed in when I joined the million women march in D.C. a few years back. I traveled from Kentucky to D.C. on a bus with women I didn’t know and marched in solidarity for the rights I perceived I should have. And yet, where was I today when the black community needed me to march with them? I am only three years older now, but used my age to deter me from a cause even more important.

I am enjoying my wine this evening, even as my country burns. It seems there is something wrong with that.

War, Fear, Anger

This evening I watched the annual Memorial Day Concert on TV. It was not the usual format I have watched over the years because Covid has changed the way we live now-a-days. There were excerpts from past years, and new well wishes and thank yous to those who are the new “heroes” of today. Our Covid War is not with a foreign invader, nor is it with a human dictator trying to be the most powerful man in the world. No, rather our War is with an invisible enemy that most citizens of this nation do not even recognize as an enemy. It is interesting to see the difference between a physical “real” war with metal weapons, soldiers and violent killing to the present war where the weapons are hospital beds and medical personnel are trying to save lives rather than kill. For some reason, our nation’s people cannot fathom they are truly at war, and that 100,000 real people have died already during this war, and are not mourned except by those who lost them.

I’m remembering when my son fought in a “real” war. The fear I felt everyday was overpowering. I never slept a full night; I experienced tremors of unshakeable fear; I found it difficult to get up in the morning and go on to my office job; I often silently cried until the fear abated. I tied a yellow flag on my car and put on a very brave face around my co-workers and friends. I even got pulled over by the police for running a red light because my mind was not on driving, but rather on imagining what my son was going through as he drove that damn Bradley tank through the desert. The officer forgave me the offense, but told me to be careful. Yes, of course, I would be more attentive to my actions.

I could not listen to chorus singers from the local high school visiting our office without walking away to avoid others seeing my eyes water and hands tremble from memories of my son’s days in his school chorus. On the day I received a collect call from Kuwait, from my son, telling me he was coming home, I broke down and sobbed aloud at my office desk. My friends crowded around, worried, but my sobbing was for joy: “He is coming home, he’s coming home!” So, I did not lose my son to that war.

And now, years later, I am once again tense with worry about this Covid War, but now I stress over not one son, but over two sons, a daughter, daughters-in-law, partners, grandchildren, and my husband, because many in my country do not care about my family or my fear, and refuse to help fight the war. Because a silent enemy takes lives daily, and I can only wait and hope my family is spared while reckless people ignore the enemy and flaunt their disregard for its power. I find myself angry, insulted, and filled with disbelief that so many find it inconvenient to wear a mask in order to save my family’s life, and, in fact, their own families’ lives. I find myself appalled that people actually believe their god would want them to ignore safety, ignore caring for others, and attend a crowded building to pray to Him and spread disease. What is a church other than a structure built by man, when their creator is everywhere in nature and can be seen and felt surrounding them all the time.

So, I must again live in fear of loss rather than enjoy my senior years in carefree comfort. My respite now is to disappear from my frightened thoughts and tend to the horse. I escape from worldly tension as I brush his coat to a mud free, glossy black and enjoy watching him nudge at my husband’s hand looking for that bag of carrots. It’s something, at least, and allows me to believe that someday all will be well. And I await the call when I am told a vaccine is ready and my family is safe once again.

And, of course, the red wine I’m sipping this night brings me a little escape, too.

Birds, Behavior, and Wine

What a gorgeous day to simply do nothing. I mused over how dramatic the sky looked today, as dark clouds moved quickly overhead, and then disappeared just as quickly. I cannot sit in the sun because I have had skin cancer bouts a few times and I need to avoid sun rays. However, my patio allows me to sit in the shade and enjoy the intense greenery surrounding my neighborhood. The cherry tree that stands just a few feet from my patio has already grown this Spring, about a foot in width. I love that tree for its ragged limbs and emerald leaves. The birds love it too, which is why we placed our bird feeder close to it. A Redwing Blackbird squawks and screeches his high-pitched call as he eats the finch seed ring. Fortunately for the Goldfinches, I have a niger seed feeder that the Redwing can’t get to. The Bluejays have found our feeder now. Their sky blue feathers streak across our yard as they sky dive to the feeder, grab a seed, and then disappear into the cherry tree. My favorite bird is the Mockingbird, though, because his songs are beautiful and because I get a kick out of how his copy of the Bluejay raucous voices confuses them.

I wonder about the noisy Bluejays, all their bluster and bravado appear to be a false front for their true nature. They are afraid of the Mockingbird, and the Woodpecker, and also move away from the Robins. They kind of remind me of the men toting their rifles at the courthouse: so brave with their war gear, noisy screaming, and stuck out chests. I seriously wonder who those men are that they hide behind their masks and their false strengths. If approached by people with better principles and inner-strength I suspect those cowardly rifle toting men would back down, just like the Bluejays. They are all up-front noise because in actuality they are afraid of everything and everyone different than them. They are afraid of black people, Hispanic people, Asian people, women of all colors, and loss of their “liberty.” They have no regard for what their behavior causes to befall others. They simply don’t care, until they are confronted with the reality of death as it affects themselves and those close to them. So, they are harmless Bluejays to me, and I chuckle at their noisy, harmless bravado.

I am rightly annoyed now, as I had written a lovely paragraph about the evening, the noises intruding on my thoughts from the nearby road caused by a shift in the wind, and my resentment that civilization has interfered with my comfortable enjoyment of a perfect Spring day. I don’t know where that paragraph disappeared to, but I hate that I lost such great writing!

So, it’s a Bota Pinot Noir night again. I think I’ll go for a Kendall Jackson Chardonnay tomorrow night.

Weather, Horses, Wine

I wonder how many people are complaining about the weather? May is presenting us with weather that we should have enjoyed in December. It’s cold, windy, gloomy, and not suitable for outdoor activities. Which made it very uncomfortable at the barn this morning.

Chuck and I met the horse chiropractor early today. (At least it was early for us! We are retired, you know.) Trees bending, leaves blowing, a wind tunnel blasting thru the old wooden barn, just plain miserable. Reo had been brought in, and was neighing as he heard our voices; however, it’s not like he whinnied for us, personally. He was really calling to us because of the carrots, snacks, and grain we always bring. Reo got the royal treatment today. The chiropractor adjusted his spine, realigned his right shoulder, stretched his neck, and manipulated his stifle, among other things. Reo loved it! Give him a carrot, a massage, lots of praise, and end with alfalfa cubes and he doesn’t care what the weather’s like. But I did. I was shivering in my double shirts, down vest, hooded sweatshirt, and wool socks. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

After returning Reo to his pasture, we drove home to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and nourishing oatmeal. While my horse’s life was certainly pleasant, and I was happy I could get that treatment for him, I was quickly brought back to the reality of human hardship when I turned on the TV and viewed the staggering toll this Covid virus is taking upon our nation. The human loss is beyond comprehension. My mind pictures a stadium of 80,000 people cheering for a football game and realize the enormity of those 80,000 plus lives removed from this earth. It is beyond the comprehension of most people, and that is perhaps why so many don’t understand the folly of ignoring the pleas of our scientists to remain diligent. No one believes that they could be part of that stadium of death.

I mull over this tragic scenario, and wonder when it will end and if I will become one of the stadium dead. I do not intend to tempt fate so I will continue to follow the six foot distancing recommendation, wear a face mask in public if I must go inside an establishment, and spend lots of time outdoors, even if it is unpleasantly chilly.

And, I will enjoy each evening with a glass of Pinot Noir, as I am doing right now.

My Thoughts, and Evening Wine.

I’ve read a number of thoughts from folks who agree with my own opinions, that it’s kind of early to return to normal behavior since Covid is still attacking us, and thus, we are still at war. I have also read thoughts from those who totally disagree with me and think we’d better get back to business now, right now! Personally, I wish we would never return to normal human behavior and thereby give the earth, and the other living creatures that share this planet with us, some more time to recuperate from our disastrous caretaking of planet earth. But that is ridiculous, I know, and not very kind, either. We are mostly not evil people, just a bit careless and thoughtless about how everything we do, individually, affects everything surrounding us.

I am reminded of the Vietnam era, when young people protested the government’s action in a war we should not have been involved in. Those young people turned out to be right, we should not have spent 56,000 young lives fighting a war that meant nothing to us in the end. Lots of protesting about a disastrous situation and four students killed by the National Guard for standing up for their beliefs. (Back then no guns were carried by protesters.) Now our young people are protesting because “they can’t go to the beach, or get their toenails done, or drink at the local bar.” But yet, I admit, life has changed and these things mean as much to the present generation as the war protests did to those of us in the 1950’s and 6o’s.

Who am I to say that what I consider shallow is actually important to those standing on the corner protesting today? If today’s protesters do not believe that 75,000 plus dead people are important, and instead believe that the money they are not earning and the livelihoods they have lost are worth more than those deaths, then so be it. I have lived thru past national and world struggles, and now today’s generations must learn how to face new disasters occurring throughout our nation and world. That is how it’s always been. I hope they are up for the challenges.

Meanwhile, I will feel saddened by my own husband’s sorrow at what he believes is lost; by the fear that he and I will be one of those sacrificed by my country; that the political leaders of this nation have lost their way and care naught about the strength and fortitude great nations must create in order to be majestic in the end. Yes, I am saddened, but I will not relinquish my own hope in a future that humankind will do the right thing and learn to live with less and care more about life than about abundance.

Now, for that evening glass of wine, which tastes especially good on this very cool night.