Adulting

Not to be confused with adultery….

A few weeks ago, I heard from a friend that a mutual friend had passed away “suddenly” at her home in California. She had not been seen in a few days and the Police responded, gained entry into the home and found her dead. She lived alone and had become somewhat of a hoarder and a recluse. Very sad.

My friend MC called me, hoping I could use some magic to try and find some information on next of kin. LC (the deceased) was not particularly close to her family and nobody in her small circle of friends had any clue on how to locate contact information. LC’s phone was locked and nobody knew the passcode to get into it. It was only through a few calls to some other friends that out friend RV was able to figure out the code….he’s a numbers kind of guy and knew LC well. So notifications to family were made and now the struggle to determine what to do next began. Was there a will? Was there an executor? At some point it was thought that MC was the executor but nobody knew for sure. One of the friends was able to get into the home but the hoarding issue makes finding important paperwork very difficult. So a larger group of friends will be flying west in another week with the purpose of finding the necessary documents, cleaning up the house, arranging for any repairs to be made and then placing the home up for sale. Quite a daunting task lies ahead for this group…which may or may not include an actual family member.

So all of this left me thinking about my mortality. I know that just a few short weeks ago I commented on turning 60…and having no desire to be dead at this point in my life. But what has happened to LC has been a huge wake up call. Would anyone know the passcode to my phone? Would they know who to call? Would they find any paperwork in my house that would indicate how I wanted my “affairs” to be handled? The answer is likely no to most of these questions. So what did I need to do to make sure I don’t leave this mess behind should I die “suddenly”?

On top of not having a plan in place, I also had been less than efficient on dealing with my financial matters. No, I am not in debt (other than the normal kind) and I don’t have an “estate” to leave behind. But I do want to retire (soon!) and need to make sure that my lack of attention to this has not been so bad that I’m doomed to the poor house. On the advice of a trusted co-worker, I went to see a financial advisor. The bad news? I have made some mistakes. The good news? It’s not as bad as I had imagined and in fact, can be corrected to the point that I will not end up in the poor house. Phew!

I don’t have a will but I will when the will man writes the will for me. God willing! So what to do with the things I have and the small amount of money I will leave behind some day? Without getting into specifics, I am making sure that my wishes are clearly defined and are easily located. I do not want to waste any money on buying a cemetery plot, a casket, a wake and funeral. Please, just cook me to oblivion, gather the ashes, drive to Maine, rent a boat and go out in Penobscot Bay, preferably near Pumpkin Island and drop my ashes into the sea. It’s where I belong.

And lastly….when I write my obituary to be published upon my death…it will simply say:

“Remember me is all I ask, but if remembrance be a task…forget”

That’s what adulting is all about.

 

 

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whis·per·er

“a person skilled in taming or training a specified kind of animal, typically using body language and gentle vocal encouragement rather than physical contact.”

“They” call me the Deer Whisperer…ok, maybe I just call myself that but whatever…

I have developed an interesting fascination with deer. They are really quite beautiful. I think they are very elusive also. I imagine that’s due to being shy…or being hunted. I don’t hunt them with weapons, I hunt them with my eyes and my camera. I have no issue with hunting animals for sport as long as the kill is used for food and not for trophies. I eat deer, and I like it. I’m not sure that I could pull the trigger and kill one but since I’ve never tried, I guess I don’t know what I’d do. I know that I don’t need to kill one so I won’t.

Deer are plentiful in these parts. In past years, I have seen them on occasion as I drive through some of the areas of Lincoln and Concord that I frequent. Sightings have increased over the years as the herds have grown and civilization has encroached on their habitat. They are less afraid of us as we have become part of their space.

This past December, I was in Concord and saw two different herds of deer in fields just off the road near some farm land. It was late afternoon and the 5-6 deer in each group were in the fields eating the grasses they find there. It was so cool. I had not seen that many deer at one time before. So I went back to the same area a few days later to see if they were there….and they were not. Why? Where were they?

So I did some research and found that they weren’t there the second time because it was the wrong time of day. Deer are likely to come out into the fields just after dawn and just before sunset. So, basically breakfast and dinner. Deer tend to be more active at night and will sleep during the day, taking short naps in the sun to keep warm. When it snows, deer tend to seek cover under pine trees. They move into the wind to try and stay warm and avoid predators. They don’t have “dens”, they just sleep in areas with good cover and sleep in short naps, always aware of their surroundings. Deer can sleep with their eyes open or closed. It is unlikely you will ever walk up upon a sleeping deer…they know you are there and will dart off in the blink of your eye!

So I started going back to the fields where I first saw these herds at the times I thought they might be there….and I was right! On several occasions, I found the deer in the fields, keeping a watchful eye all around as they nibbled on the grasses. I noticed that the herd was never far away from the tree line and that if spooked, they could bolt into the woods in a matter of a few seconds. An excellent survival skill. One day I just stood by my car, camera in hand and watched them as they ate. They often lifted their heads, looked around and went back to munching. I was about 100 yards or so away from them…a safe distance for them and me. Clearly I did not threaten them as they often looked up in my direction but stayed in the field. They knew I was not there to hurt them. On this one day, I watched them for about half an hour. I was just off to the side of the road and afternoon traffic whizzed by, not bothering the deer. I wondered if the people in the cars even saw the deer. You had to look closely sometimes because the deer blended in very well with the brush at the edge of the woodlands behind them. Mother Nature was pretty smart when she designed these dainty little creatures. I say “dainty” as I have yet to see a full grown buck…but I know I will and I can’t wait!

I have more research to do but for now, I just want to enjoy watching these animals. I have found several different locations in the area where deer seem to be plentiful. So I go to these areas and they come out of the woods to feed. I keep a distance away and they seem to tolerate me. We have an understanding…

 

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Sixty

Sixty….the number of seconds in a minute.

Sixty….the number of minutes in an hour.

Sixty….the number of years ago I was born.

Sixty is a monument birthday, one to either be celebrated or feared, or maybe both! I choose to celebrate these monument birthdays. Every year I live gives me experiences beyond my imagination. Some of them are simple and others are far more complex.

Turning 10 was kinda cool. A double-digit first. Life was far more simple and carefree. Turning 20 was fraught with some angst. Too young to legally drink, too old for the shenanigans of my teen years. Turning 30 defined for me the life path I would take. I had chosen a career of public service by the time I turned 30. The 30’s were the years I thought I’d meet the man of my dreams and get married, have a kid or two, have a nice home…all the things “normal” people do. I’m not normal. Turning 40 happened and the idea of the family life was slipping away. Some things are just not meant to be. And then came 50. That’s a big one! Half way to 100….if you really want to live that long. But 50 was more a time of reflection. Had I done okay with my life? Was I a productive member of society? Where did I go from here? But 50 was also a number that haunted me….

My father died when he was 50. I could not fathom my life being over at 50. I thought (and still do think) of ALL the things he missed by dying at 50. He missed his first grandchild….and the ones that came after. He missed the Red Sox actually winning the World Series. He missed the election of the first African-American President of the United States. He missed the birth of his first great-grandchild. Dying at 50 meant he missed so much. I did not want to die at 50.

So I went on and here I am at 60. Some days I feel every one of those 60 years. Other days I still feel the carefree spirit of the 10-year-old. I’ve seen the Red Sox win the World Series not just once but 4 times! And The Patriots….now 6 time Super Bowl Champions! I still have no kids but I have a niece that is like a daughter and her son, my great-nephew, is as close to a grandchild as I will ever have. I continue down the path of public service and still find thrills in the job even after all these years. I have found a profound love of nature and creatures. And the sea calls to me in ways I never thought possible. I find great pleasure in simple things, a good book, a beautiful spring day, watching my garden grow, and any time I can be in or on the water. I don’t know what this decade will bring for me, but I am happy to be here to find out.

Sixty. It’s just a number.

 

Hot Chocolate

It’s a lovely but cold January day and I just got back from taking a 2 mile walk along the Codman fields in Lincoln. There is something special about these fields. In the summer, hay grows and the farm cuts it and stores it for the winter. Freshly mowed hay has the most amazing fragrance….sweet and sunny. Yes, sunny does have a fragrance, at least to me. In the spring, one section of the fields is home to the egg laying chickens. Gladys and the girls are very busy all day, running from under one coop to the next and back again. There is a flow to what the girls do….I just have yet to figure out why they do it! Among the egg layers are the chickens that are destined to a terrible fate….if you are a chicken you’d agree with me on this one. I try not to think of that and just know that the life they have had in the fields has been good. Gladys and her friends spend the summer and into the fall in the field, moving from one section to the next, eating the clover and making delicious eggs. They are good girls and field dog Andy keep them safe by keeping the foxes and coyotes out of the pastures.

Across the road, in a far corner of the field are the turkeys. Not the wild ones, the farm raised for only one purpose turkeys. They are tucked away in an area where they are less likely to be observed. This is probably good because we know what fate awaits them in the fall. I would not want to get to chummy with them because any friendship we might make will be short lived. Toby the field dog keeps an eye on them.

Andy and Toby are Anatolian Shepherds that are meant for this kind of work. They are big but seem to be quite docile, laying in the grass, chewing on big old frozen dog bones and enjoying the goings on in the coops. But I imagine that if you are a fox, Toby and Andy are all business. Good boys.

In one field, there is a small but fun herd of Red Devon cattle. This is where I first met my little friend Curly. This small herd whiles away the day, eating grass, fertilizing grass, and spending every second of every minute trying to swat flies away from their bodies. It creeps me out since I dislike flying bugs immensely. But the cattle appear used to it. On more than once occasion, Curly managed to get out of the enclosure and wandered freely along the edge of the field. But he always went back because he was smart enough to know where Mom was. In the fall, the cattle are moved back to the main farm where they spend the winter with the rest of the herd in the high pasture.

And then there are the Llamas. They have their very own big fenced in field with a Llama barn and all the things Llamas need, whatever that is. I don’t spend much time with them, they are not so friendly. Maybe if I did spend more time, they’d warm up to me. Maybe this year….

So today I walked along these fields and aside from the Llamas, the fields are empty. Gladys and Curly are back on the main farm and the turkeys…..well, we all know what happened to them. But as I walked along, the sun was shining brightly and the smell of the freshly cut hay still lingers in the air. It is why I walk along these fields so I can bring back the feeling of warmer days where life on the farm seems so carefree.

So what about hot chocolate? It really has nothing to do with anything other than I made myself a cup when I got home to help warm me from my travels.

 

And the winner is……

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“Yo galley….seals on a rock!”

This photo was taken somewhere in Penobscot Bay while I was aboard the Schooner Heritage this past sailing season. Whenever we are sailing by something of interest, the Captain yells out “Yo galley….” to get the attention of the crew so they can see whatever it is the Captain finds interesting. I often joke with the Captain because EVERYTHING is interesting to me….so I say “Yo galley….water in the Bay!”

Anyway, back to the seals…..every year the Maine Windjammer Association has a photo contest. Of course they are interested in photos of the windjammers but they also look for good scenic shots as well. This year, “Yo galley, seals on a rock” was chosen as the winner in the best wildlife category! So very exciting for me to have a photo of mine chosen. I don’t win much, just a 2019 MWA calendar but it’s not the prize I was interested in, I was thrilled just to have one of my shots chosen.

It feels like I’ve been winning a lot lately. Nothing major, just small personal victories. I’ve been out trail walking as much as I can. It may not sound like much but I’ve logged almost 26 miles in December. Some have been short walks while others have been much longer and more difficult. Every step is a challenge as breathing continues to be an issue (it’s that pesky asthma) and my feet and legs hurt all the time. But I keep pushing along hoping that it will get better each time. It may not be making much of a dent physically but it is amazingly good for my brain.

Christmas came and went with little drama. I actually enjoyed the small amount of gift buying I did this year. Online shopping makes it so easy! I spent the day with my bff’s M and K and Aunt Annie. They make it so simple and relaxing. It was a lovely day.

The start of a new year is upon us in the next few days. I never make resolutions. I find them to be impossible to keep and then you feel like a failure. So my plan is to keep doing what I’m doing every day. Walk the trails as much as I can. Take my camera along now and then to see what I see. Oh, and it’s a milestone year for me….

 

Where the hell have you been…?

Wow…almost a year and a half since I last sat down and wrote an entry.

So where the hell have I been and what have I been doing? A lot.

Sailing on the Great Windship Schooner Heritage continues to be a thing for me every summer. I have now managed to sail at least 3 times in a season. June sailing is the best because the Bay is not busy and the days are so long. Dawn starts to break around 4am and the skies are still light at almost 10pm! Makes for incredible sailing days. Late August is the best because the winds are warm, the water is warm (ok, tolerable) and schooners are aplenty on the Bay. Late September is the best because Fall is upon us, the colors are beautiful, the air is crisp and cool (ok, cold) and the wind is absolutely the best. Year after year, many of the same sailors return and it’s always fun to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Captain’s Doug and Linda continue to welcome me almost like family as they do with all their guests. Shary humors me and knows what I want before I do. And the crew….Ben, strong and silent and extremely capable of caring for all the needs of Heritage. Sean, still cooking up great meals every day and entertaining us at night with music and song. Jamie, growing up before our eyes and maturing into a future leader of America! He belongs on Broadway…and allows me to play “Hamilton” with him. Theo, one of the nicest young men I have ever met. Totally growing up. Watched him go from doughy boy to lean and adorable young man…Theodorable. And then there is Elli. What an amazing young woman she is. So strong and determined to chart her own course, not that of others before her. I thoroughly enjoy being with all of them.

The Grind to Glory struggle continues. But I keep fighting the good fight and have yet to throw in the towel It’s been hard and I’ve wanted to many times but I’m not a quitter so there you go! Recently, I had wanted to join a program that appeared to be quite successful. I was “all in” and ready to go. And then they pulled the rug out on me. Apparently, there is absolutely NO room for compromise or adjusting to the lives and jobs of clients. The particular demands of my job are such that there may have been a time that I could not arrive for my weekly appointment. They would not allow me to come a different day or reschedule an appointment. So they denied me the opportunity to enter the program at this time and suggested I return in the Spring when weather issues were less likely to impact my weekly appointment. I was angry at this and very disappointed. But in the end, it was probably for the best. Some things are not meant to be. But….the anger I felt has turned into a sort of “fuck you” attitude. I’m back on the grind like I was years ago and it feels great. I will show them I do not need them!

After 5 years of almost weekly therapy, I have found a place of peace with myself and the choices I make. Almost all of this has to do with the relationship I have with my sister. I have found my voice and have learned how to say “no”. It is very empowering. But mostly, it has allowed me to do what I want, not always what others want me to do. It was hard at first as I got some serious pushback. But I stuck to my convictions and now the word “no” is easy to say and easier to stand behind. I still check in once a month with my therapist, mostly just to keep myself on course. The five years we devoted to each other were hard work and some incredible moments of clarity. I was never told what to do or how to feel…I was always given the tools to find my own way to the answers. Making the incredibly hard decision to seek out help was the BEST thing I ever did and I highly recommend it. You may think you are okay but having the place and space to lay it out on the table really does make a difference. She has set me back on an even keel.

Mr.Mouse is well. He has some new friends. Malach and Norval are the gnomes that live in his neighborhood. And then there is Abigail…..

 

Panic!

Where the heck is Mr.Mouse?

It was sometime late last Fall….I got into my car to drive to work and about half way there, I noticed Mr.Mouse was missing. He lives on the dash of my car, keeping watch over me and all who dare to enter. And he wasn’t there.

It must have been something simple like he slid off the dash and was on the floor. I pulled over and got out and started looking for him. He wasn’t on the floor. He wasn’t under the front seat. He wasn’t under the drivers seat. He wasn’t anywhere in the back seat area. Where was he? I was panicking. And it seemed totally ridiculous.

I got to work and could not even concentrate on anything. I suddenly realized that I had cleaned the car over the weekend and there were paper towels, cleaning wipes and glass wipes that had been gathered up and thrown away. Mr.Mouse must have been caught up in that pile of “trash”. So I grabbed a set of rubber gloves and drove home intending to tear every trash bag in my giant barrel apart. I would stop at nothing to find him. It was totally irrational..I was crying my eyes out as I drove home. I was heartbroken.

Mr.Mouse is my only link to Faron. Mr.Mouse was the one thing that kept me connected to Faron. I HAD to find him. I made up my mind that if I could not find him, I would reach out to Faron’s people and ask for a replacement. Crazy. I know.

I got home and emptied the big barrel and started to tear open the trash bags looking for my little gray friend. He wasn’t there. And he wasn’t in the big recycle bin either. What happened to him? Was he stolen? I was convinced this was what happened. But who would want to steal a little gray catnip mouse? I could barely see through my tears.

I went back to the car to look one last time under the seats. And as I opened the passenger side door, I glanced down into the map pocket on the door and there he was! How had I not seen him the dozen times I had looked on that side of the car? Was he hiding? Playing games with me? I was thrilled and now I was crying tears of joy and relief. Totally crazy, I know. But it is what it is.

I have since purchased a new ride for Mr.Mouse. His accommodations are much more spacious and a lot safer! He can sit on the dash just as he had done before, keeping an eye on everything. Or he can move down to his lower level suite and tuck comfortably and safely in his “room” and not slide around.

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We call this the “Disco Dance Floor” suite!

Mr.Mouse loves his new home and I am happy that he is once again safely with me.