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.

 

It’s a New Year

When last we left our heroine….

I had assured Faron was in a good home. I tried to move on…still trying.

I had that pesky knee operated on…took me off the trails for a long time. At the same time, other issues seemed to pop up. To me. it seems like it never ends. One thing after another…but I’m still fighting.

I’ve sailed numerous times. The boat and the ocean are my escape from all the drama that seems to envelope my life. If I could, I’d sail all summer long. It does not matter that I’ve been to the same harbors or coves many times. Every time is different and special. I’ve gotten into sailing in June when the days are long and the nights are cool. Late August brings warm winds and warm waters…and the end of September sailing brings cool crisp days and nights and winds that were meant to sail in.

 

Stormy times continued with my sister. But we did our best to try to repair damages. She got engaged…and married. It’s not a bad thing, just different. And I wore a dress! Life with her is still a work in progress. I have come to many conclusions about this rift and I am at peace with many (not all) of the changes.

Work is work….never a dull moment. We have a new Chief and a new attitude. I continue to advocate for our Dispatchers and push them to do and want better for themselves. I became a nationally certified Communications Center Manager. No clue what I will do with that but it looks great on a resume!

I’m working toward a new walking goal. I want to walk the 5 miles of the Battle Road Trail again…and thinking of doing the entire 10 mile round trip! My goal is to do this by April 1. It’s a lofty goal, attainable if the snow holds off and the winter is not brutally cold. Although I could train inside, my brain needs to be outside. I know some people will get this.

 

My sMyles is 2! And he moved away…to the North Woods of New Hampshire. I’m sad that he is that far away now but at least it’s just a drive away and not a flight away. His Mom and Dad got married…YAY. I was unable to attend the wedding. It was very short notice and I was on the boat in the bay. I get lots of text pictures and we Face Time once in a while. He was back here for his big 2nd birthday in October. Auntie loves him. 🙂

So we are on to a new year and new adventures…

Like the story on how Mr.Mouse went missing…

 

 

I can’t let go.

Faron moved on to his new home and people. I had done the very best for him and I had done my best to make sure he would be well loved and cared for. His new people were very happy to have him. They were very kind to me, understanding just how crushing a decision this was for me. There was only one real problem.

Faron’s new people just happen to live less than a 5 minute walk from my home. Up the street and around the corner…and there he is. His new people made the most generous offer to me stating that I was welcomed to come visit him at any time. As often as I wanted. They would welcome me. I was beyond grateful for that offer. It still stands today, even a year and a half later.

I am unable and unwilling to make that walk and enter that home. I avoid it at all cost. I simply could not bear to visit with him and then walk away again. It would tear me apart. And it would be so unfair to Faron and to his new people. So in place of visiting, I send an occasional email asking how he is doing and also asking they give him my love. They continue their kindness to me and respond to every email I send and include a few pictures of Faron along with them. I am mindful of not wanting to overextend their kindness. In the first few months, I emailed maybe 2 times. I then settled into sending an email on his birthday in April and at Christmas. This past April I got back the most beautiful email telling me Faron is feisty and fun and they absolutely adore him. At the end of the email, she wrote that she would “whisper your wishes in his ear.” So kind.

Every day I miss him. I miss coming home to find him waiting for me, waiting for treats. I miss him curling up on the pillow on the couch, tucked in under my arm. I miss the feline 500 race through the house. I miss him crawling under the covers in my bed and settling down for night next to my legs.

To be honest, I don’t miss litter boxes. I don’t miss paying to run the air conditioning in the Summer when I go sailing away just to make sure he does not get too hot. I don’t miss having to plan cat sitters for when I go away. I don’t miss cat hair…on everything.

But, I would take all of that back and more just for the joy of having him back.

I miss being needed.

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Farewell and Fare Well

Faron was born on April 26,2012.

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He had the cutest little pink nose and a white face and tummy. I had the pick of the litter and I chose him. I brought him home when he was 8 weeks old,

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He had the biggest ears and an attitude to go with them. I adored him. I gave him everything and loved him completely. IMG_1782.JPG

He would grow up to be a feisty and fun cat that loved to play with his toys, especially Mr.Mouse. He was very busy all the time, no time to waste as he raced around the house, up and down the stairs. He loved to play inside paper grocery bags. Whenever I took out my luggage to go away, he would hop in and look at me as if to say “take me with you Mom”. He chatted out the window to his friend Squeaky who lived in the yard next door. Squeaks is a feral cat who had defied the odds and is at least 15 years old. My friends L&C are his people and they care for him as much as he will allow.10519460_10202779626686522_6577183955833993777_o.jpg

Faron and Squeaky  were buddies, if only from afar.

As Faron grew older, his feistiness could pose a problem for prospective adopters. He would bite and lash out at times, seemingly for no good reason. I had dealt with it just fine but worried that it would be an issue. This was part of my reasoning for not putting him in shelter. He would simply not do well and his aggression would put people off. But he could also be the most loving ball of fur ever.

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But in early November, the folks at the Cat Connection called. There was a family that was interested in adopting Faron. I was happy but not. I’m sure you understand. The Mom of the family came to the house to meet Faron. He was very skittish and was clearly not happy. But she was not put off by this behavior. She thought he was beautiful. And she wanted him. A week or so later, she came back again and brought her husband with her. Faron was still the same…scared, and hissing at anyone who tried to get near him. But they wanted him. They felt that once he was settled in their home, he would be fine. I was so surprised. And grateful. Grateful to the Cat Connection for their help and grateful to the new people who saw beyond the fear and knew there was a great cat behind all that bluster. 10538410_10201915446162549_383727587_n.jpgIMG_1904.jpg

So on Saturday November 15, I went one last time to L&C’s house to visit with my boy. I had asked L to deliver Faron to his new people for me. There was simply no way I would ever be able to hand him over. I sat with him and fed him his favorite treats. I told him over and over again how special he was and how no matter where he might be, I would always love him.

His favorite toy was Mr.Mouse.

 

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IMG_1996.JPGI made sure he had an extra Mr.Mouse to take with him.

I kept the original Mr.Mouse because it will always be my link to Faron.

No one would ever be good enough for him. No one would ever love him more than I did. Ever.

So farewell Faron, my best little Bubba, and fare well.

Moving Day

Moving day came and I was ready thanks to all the help my family and friends provided. The smartest thing I ever did was hire a moving company to do this for me. It was the single best thing I did. They did all the work and I just sat and watched. It took about 5 hours to move me out and move me in. My bff K spent the day with me so I would not be alone. My new neighbors were very curious about the new girl moving into the neighborhood. They were very friendly. It’s a great neighborhood…quiet, tree lined street, no real traffic to speak of, close to everything. It was now home…sort of.

Once everything was moved in, I still had a few more things to do at the old apartment. I had two more weeks there so I had time to get it done. I finished up there and left the keys on the counter and walked away. Strangely, I did not feel sad. Actually, I did not feel anything. I knew then I had made the right decision.

Two weeks after moving into my new home, I had to attend a 3 day conference in the White Mountains. I was staying at the incredible Mt.Washington Hotel and several work friends were there. We had a great time doing some sightseeing in the area. And we spent some time at the conference getting educated! The knee was still in the brace…still no time to have that surgery that I needed! And I had more things to do. I had lots of unpacking to do and organizing to make my new place exactly how I wanted it. But I did set a date for the surgery. It would be mid-November.

So with all this happening, I still needed to find a home for Faron. Some very nice people at a place called the Cat Connection agreed to help me out. I had made some decisions about what I would and would not do regarding a new home for him. I simply would not allow Faron to go into a shelter and live in a cage. He would have been so scared and I could not do that. Ever. I had made the ultimate decision that if I could not find a good home for him, I would put him down. To me, death was preferable to a life in a shelter. The folks at the CC don’t usually deal with situations like mine. They don’t take in cats from people, they only deal with strays. They use foster homes and do not shelter. When they heard my problem and my feelings on shelters, they agreed to feature him on their website in hopes that someone would want him. They did not want me to euthanize him since he was so young. My friends L&C were still letting Faron live with them so for now, he was safe and well cared for.

People may question my decision on this but I don’t care. I knew what I was doing and how it would affect Faron and me. It was an incredibly hard decision and one I hoped I would not have to make.

When you’re smiling, the whole world sMyles with you.

My family and friends rallied to help me pack and get ready for the big move. Faron was moved to my friends’ L&C’s house where he would stay until he could be permanently placed. I could and did see him every day as he was just next door. It was particularly hard standing in my kitchen and looking out the window and seeing him sitting in the windows of the house next door. So close but so far away…

Five days before the big move, our family stopped to welcome a new life into the world. My beautiful niece gave birth to an exceptionally spectacular baby boy. This child can not possibly know how he changed my life. To know me is to know that I dislike babies and children. I have always disliked babies and small kids. They are loud, messy and annoying and are far too often heard when they should only be seen! I never wanted any kids and have done a good job of keeping away from them. Until now…

Although I am not his Mom, it is true that the birth of a child changes you. It changed me. One week after he was born, I was able to drive to the Cape to meet him for the first time. My niece came into the room carrying him and handed him to me. I burst into tears. I had never seen anything more beautiful or felt more love in my entire life.

 

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Now don’t get crazy and think I’m going to babysit any time soon! But there is NOTHING I will not do for this little boy. If he needs something and I can provide it, consider it done. I am not a shopper but buying clothes for this little guy is so much fun. Everything is cute! You need long sleeved pajamas? Onesies? Toys? Bank Account? Done!

He is growing up so fast and changing every day. His Mom and Dad are doing everything right. They are following their own path and raising him in a way that feels right for all of them. He has an incredible safety net of extended family (and dogs) and friends and is loved by more people than he will ever know.

He is happy and sMyles all the time….

 

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Well okay, most of the time!

Challenges

How did this happen? I suppose age had something to do with the wear and tear on my knee. And I believe that my personal walking challenge was what probably pushed it over the edge.

There is a walking trail that goes through Minuteman National Park. It’s about 5 miles from one end to the other. On the eastern end is Fiske Hill in Lexington and at the western end is Meriam’s Corner in Concord. Both of these locations were pivotal during the revolutionary war. I had discovered this trail a few years ago and really enjoyed walking sections of it. It was peaceful and pretty and you could almost hear the sounds of farmers, muskets and regiments of med in red if you listened hard enough. In mid summer, I made the decision that I wanted to walk the entire 5 plus miles of this trail. So I trained…hard. Not only was distance on my radar but so was speed. I wanted to do this walk as fast as I could. So I trained…hard. I was walking about 2-3 miles a day and 3-4 miles a day on the weekends getting ready for this. I know it probably seems like no big deal. After all, 5 miles is not that much really. But for me, it was my own personal marathon.

I came back from my sailing trip, decided to accept the offer for a new apartment, started the process of finding a new home for Faron and focused on my “marathon” challenge. So on Saturday September 20, my bff K met me at the Fiske Hill lot and drove me the 5 miles to the Meriam’s Corner lot. He handed me a Kashi bar and a bottle of water and wished me well. And I was off. Walking from the western end of the trail to the eastern end had some significant uphill stretches. I chose to go in this direction because the hills would be an extra challenge. One hour and seventeen minutes later, I arrived at the Fiske Hill lot. I had SLAYED this challenge. I was like Rocky on the top of the steps in Philly. I had won my own personal marathon in a time that was far faster than I imagined it would be and I felt great. Victory was mine!

Five days later my knee was trashed and my walking days were over…for awhile. At the emergency room, I had a very handsome and nice Doctor who could not do too much for me because my knee was so swollen and painful, any kind of exam was excruciating. He put me in a straight leg brace that went from my ankle to mid-thigh, put me on crutches and sent me home with orders to see an orthopedic doctor and have an MRI. This was my right knee so driving was out of the question. I was devastated. I could not do anything. I could not get very far. Most importantly, I could not pack up my apartment. And I was scheduled to move in 20 days. What the hell was I going to do?

That weekend was brutal. It was a gorgeous late September weekend and all things being equal, I would have taken one last beach day. But I was trapped in my house, unable to do anything. My friends L&C said they would help pack for me. My sister said she would come down and help me pack. My brother would come and help too. It’s hard for me to a) admit I need help and b) accept it when offered. But this was no time to struggle with myself. I had to seek out and accept whatever help I could get. About a week after I hurt my knee, I had the MRI and it was determined that I had a torn meniscus, cartilage damage and a partial ACL tear. The good news…the only thing that needed to be repaired was the meniscus and the cartilage. But the best thing that happened is the Doc put me into a smaller, hinged knee brace that allowed me to move around more and most importantly, drive! He wanted to operate right away but I had to wait…I was moving, in 14 days! People face challenges every day, some bigger than others. The entire scenario (moving after 26 years, Faron, knee) was more challenging than almost anything I had ever faced before. But I would get through it…

A river in Egypt called “Denial”

Twenty six plus years living in one place meant that packing would not be easy. There was so much to weed through. Fortunately, I did not have much storage space so the “stuff” I accumulated could have been worse. I was determined that if I had not touched something, used or worn something or had not seen something in the last year, I did not need it. I stuck with this and yet I still had lots of “stuff”.

So I started the packing process and the impossible task of finding Faron a new home. I reached out to the Cat Connection for help. I insisted that Faron would never go into a shelter or a cage of any kind. He would only go to a home. The Cat Connection does not usually assist in re-locating but they made an exception for my exceptional cat. In the meantime, my friends (and next door neighbors) said that they would foster Faron until a perfect home could be found for him. I was grateful to the Cat Connection and to my friends.

It’s not like packing 26 years of my life while trying to find a new home for Faron wasn’t enough. And then it happened. And I have no idea how. I was standing in my guest room, just looking at the space I had to use as a staging area for the moving boxes. I had nothing in my hands…and nothing up my sleeve. I was just standing there. And then I bent over at the waist. I don’t remember why. But an awful thing happened. My right knee made a grinding, popping and crunching sound and the entire knee moved to the left. And then it moved back to the right. And it hurt. But it was nothing. It wasn’t swelling too much. It was fine. It had to be. But it wasn’t. Not even a little fine.

I continued what I was doing, moving stuff around, packing stuff up. The knee kept swelling but it was tolerable. I was ignoring it. I had to. I went to bed and when I woke up in the morning, it was still swollen and it did not feel good. But I got up and went to work. I had a busy day on tap and I did not have time for this. While walking through a room at work, my knee suddenly gave out and I almost fell. I was able to grab onto a piece of furniture to stay up. Ouch! That hurt. But I kept on, I was busy. Three more times during the day, my knee gave out. And each time I ignored it and went about my day. But as the work day was coming to an end, the knee was swelling like mad and the pain was getting unbearable. I was okay if I was walking but if I sat for any period of time and then got up….yeah, not so much! I finished the day at work and went home. I barely made it up the stairs into my apartment. I changed my clothes and then I called my neighbor and asked her to drive me to the emergency room. I could not be in denial any longer.