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Archive for the ‘about me’ Category

I don’t think I am prudish but some might see me as such. I don’t know, maybe it’s old age. But then again, I’m “one of those” that has never used certain four letter words in my entire life and don’t see myself ever using them. My parents always said that using “foul” language was a lack of education. They said only those who could not otherwise express themselves would use such language. And I’ve always been “the good girl”, the “obedient daughter”. It doesn’t necessarily bother me when I hear a “well placed” expletive because sometimes that’s the only way the strength of an emotion can be conveyed. For me though, it doesn’t feel right and so I choose not to use such language.

I also find these days that I am bothered by explicit sex scenes in books as I read. Not all sex scenes but there are those that just appear in a book for the sake of it, not because they belong. There are such scenes that go way too far in describing what is going on in a book that is otherwise not at all gratuitous. The scenes just don’t fit in with the storyline or the characters. Those bother me. And then there is also the fact that in books, as in movies, sometimes less is more. Sometimes an inference is much better than explicit details. I’m actually thinking there should be some kind of rating on books to let the reader know what they are getting themselves into. I’m not saying that such books should not be written, published, or read. I’m just saying that I would like to know if such scenes are in the book before I decide to spend money and time reading them. Maybe I would just rather use my own imagination in those scenes instead of having someone else tell me who did what to whom and how many times.

So maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s old age. Maybe it’s a sign that I don’t fit in with “modern” times. And yeah, maybe I’m just a prude!

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The D Word

I usually feel it coming on in time to do something to lessen it. In fact, I haven’t had it in a long, long time. A couple of years, at least. This time, I didn’t feel it coming so it caught me by surprise. An unpleasant surprise.

It’s the D word. The one so many hide from. The one so many misunderstand or better yet, don’t understand at all. The D word that takes over and renders us helpless.

When I first got it, I didn’t know anything about it. It took me months to realize what was happening and then another month or two to see a doctor about it and then, miraculously the tiny pills worked their magic almost overnight and I was so much better. That was years ago. A lifetime ago.

Then when I moved to dark, dreary, damp Oregon in 2008, it was so much worse during the wet, winter months. It was paralyzing. I remember that first year I was here. I had begun my new life positively. I would take myself to breakfast at the Denny’s down the road several times a week. It’s a cheap place to eat and with my AARP card, even cheaper. It got to the point where when I walked in the door, one of the waitresses would start singing the old song, Corina, Corina. (Yeah, that’s when you know you might be going there too often!) After breakfast, I would travel a circuit to visit several Goodwill stores before coming home. I didn’t have to buy anything and most of the time I didn’t, but it got me out of the house and actively doing something. I still got lost getting from one place to another but it was okay because I had all the time in the world and in getting lost, I often discovered interesting places and things.

When December rolled around, so did the snow. And I mean snow, snow, snow, and temperatures so cold that the snow didn’t melt. From Dec. 15 to Dec. 24 it snowed constantly. That was the beginning of the D word’s visit that year. After Christmas, it continued. It got to the point where I would get dressed to go out to eat and I would get to the front door, keys in hand, and not be able to turn the knob. I would stand there with my hand on the knob trying to turn it so I could leave but I couldn’t do it. Finally, feeling defeated, I would give up and turn away from the door. I would try again the next day with the same results. I couldn’t even lift the phone to call someone to distract myself. It went on for months and finally, at the end of March, on a day when my daughter came and picked me up and we drove to the casino on the coast, it looked like things were going to be better. On the way home from the casino came the call. The last of my three brothers had committed suicide. After the initial shock and the burst of energy to travel a thousand miles and the week I spent there with family, I came home and it hit again.

That’s why the D word scares me. Two of my brothers have committed suicide. After the second one died, I was given a box with his medications and his blood sugar monitor and test strips so I could use them. One of the medications was unknown to me and when I got back to Oregon, I looked it up online. The bottle was for anti depressants. The date on it was from the previous summer but the tablet count showed that he had not taken a single pill. Months without taking that medication. Would it have made a difference? Would he be here today?

I know I’ve had those thoughts before…the S word. I don’t think I would ever do it because I have seen what it does to the ones that are left behind. But I will have to admit that I have thought about it and come up with different ways to do it. Not recently. It has been years since the last time so in that way I am better.

This year the D word has taken over. I did finally do something to help myself. I ordered one of those full spectrum lights to battle SAD. It arrives tomorrow. I’m hoping it will help. I cannot be like this. I have to snap out of it. I don’t have anymore of my little magic pills, or as my daughter calls them, “happy pills”. I don’t have medical insurance and I don’t have a doctor or history with any doctore in this state. So no happy pills for me. I’ll have to rely on the “happy light” and some natural remedies and chocolate.

But I know that this too shall pass and I guess if I can remember that much, I’m not in as bad shape as I have been in previous years.

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Prompt: Take a line from a song you love or connect with. Turn that line into the title of your post.

As some of you know and others may have guess from the name of this blog, I love the song Wasted Nights And Wasted Days by the late Freddie Fender. I’ve always loved that song since I heard it in the summer of 1975. I was in college then and just fell in love with the song, the music, and the lyrics, as I had fallen in love with Before the Next Teardrop Falls earlier in the same year.

Later, when I could truly relate to the lyrics (…For you don’t belong to me, Your heart belongs to someone else, Why should I keep on loving you, When I know that you’re not true…) the song meant so much more. Then even later, when I had gotten over that heartbreak and had spent so many days and nights alone, crying, mourning the loss of my marriage, I finally realized that it had all been a waste of time. I needed to move on and put the past behind me. So I worked on leaving it all behind me and going on. I moved 500 miles away and started a new life. And although I’m still alone, and I’ve not forgotten the past, it’s all just that…the past. It’s behind me. No more wasting time. Not days, not nights.

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights
I have left for you behind
For you don’t belong to me
Your heart belongs to someone else

Why should I keep on loving you
When I know that you’re not true
And Why should I call your name
When you’re to blame for making me blue?

Don’t you remember the day
When you went away and left me
I was so lonely prayed for you only, my love

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Old But Good

Revisting an old poem I wrote some time ago and published here in 2009.

That’s Where I’m From
I was born from passion and lust
into a world of hunger and thirst

I am from the feelings kept
inside of me, always voiceless
that’s where I’m from

From pain and broken promises
from betrayal and from anguish
that’s where I’m from

From lies and drunken nights
from addiction and from mistrust
that’s where I’m from

I am from the laughter in my heart
from hope seen in my dreams
that’s where I’m from

From darkness deep inside of me
from vanished dreams and tears
that’s where I’m from

I am from the strength inside of me
strength that emerges when needed
that’s where I’m from

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My Mountain

I live in Oregon, just outside of Portland. One of my favorite things to see in Oregon is Mt. Hood. From the first time I saw it on my first trip to Oregon in 1979, I loved it. It rises out of what appears to be flat lands on Interstate 5. It’s off to the east of I-5. You will be driving down the road in the middle of open fields and off to the east you’ll spy this magnificent mountain peak. It is snow-capped most of the year (elevation 11,240+ feet). It has been a sort of “touch stone” for me. When I’m out of town and I’m coming home, I get my first glimpse of my mountain and I know I’ll be home soon.

When I moved to Oregon in 2008, I happened to end up living off of the road that leads up to Mt. Hood! So now, every time I am coming home, I see my mountain. Once I see it, I can breathe freely, knowing all is okay and I’m almost home. When my grandson was born and began riding with me in my car, I began talking to him constantly while driving, even though he couldn’t understand me. He first rode alone with me in the car when he was about six weeks old! I would drive along and point out things to him; things he couldn’t see from his rear-facing car seat, but it didn’t matter, I still pointed them out. That’s when I started calling it “my mountain” and “Nana’s mountain”. So now, when we see Mt. Hood from the road, he says it’s Nana’s mountain or he’ll ask if it is because sometimes he will think it’s Mt. Hood only to be told it is actually Mt. St. Helens that he’s looking at or one of the other peaks visible from the Portland area.

The other day, my daughter picked him up at school, instead of me and when they got to the first sight of Mt. Hood, my daughter says she heard him from the back seat as he said, “I see someone’s mountain. I think that’s Nana’s mountain!”
Below: Not the best picture but this is the view I see every day on my way home.

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I am an avid reader.  I also have failing eyesight.  I am legally blind without corrective lenses.  This keeps me from reading.  I would struggle to read (with my contacts on and two pair of reader glasses one over the other) for twenty or so minutes just to have to stop and rest my eyes for another half hour or so before trying to read again.  My son works for amazon.  When the Kindle ereader came out years ago, he suggested that I might want to get one.  They were near $300 at the time and I did not like the fact that I had to pay around $10 for most books I would want to read.  I was used to buying my books at used bookstores for only a dollar or two.  That’s how I could afford to read as much as I did.  The only time I spent full price on print books was when a new Grisham novel was released or the Harry Potter series.  Other books I would wait til I could find at a used bookstore.

For Christmas of 2009, there was nothing on my Christmas list.  The only thing I wanted was to spend one more year with all three of my children before everyone scattered even more.  That year, my older daughter and I were living in Oregon.  My son was in California and my youngest daughter was in Baltimore at college.  My older daughter was also pregnant.  My fear was that we wouldn’t get to be together for that Christmas and then the precedent would be set and we would not ever have a Christmas together again.  So that’s what was important to me…getting us all together.  I posted an ad on craigslist in the California city where I wanted to spend the holidays, asking if anyone had a house or small apartment that we could use for a family Christmas and I explained what our situation was and who would be staying there.  One woman replied almost immediately.  She said she had never done anything like that but that my ad caught  her attention and she and her husband would be out of their townhouse for the holidays.  We settled on a price and they sent a contract for me to sign and my son went to see the place before I signed the contract.  It all worked out and we had a place to spend the holiday together.  My wish had come true and I was happy.

On Christmas morning, I was given my gift.  Christmas is also my birthday so the gift was for both Christmas and birthday and it was from all three of the kids.  I opened it and it was a Kindle (It was actually Kindle 2 for those in the know).  I wasn’t sure I would keep it but I pretended to like it when my son showed me how to set it up and use it.  They had also included a gift card for $20 so I could buy my first couple of books.  He said I had 30  days to try it out and it could be retuned if I didn’t like it.  I went along with it and downloaded my first book (True Compass: A Memoir by Edward M. Kennedy).  When I got a chance to use it that night, I liked it.  I just wasn’t sure about having to spend so much on books.  The next day I got out my laptop and looked online and found many sources for free books for the Kindle.  So I started to download free books.

I fell in love with that Kindle!  Since then I have upgraded to the Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3) and hope to buy myself the new Voyager in the next couple of months.  I read more now than I ever have and spend a lot less.  I have also joined several websites where I earn points that can be cashed in for amazon gift cards.  I use those gift cards exclusively for my Kindle books.  Some months I get only $5 in gift cards but I have also gotten as much as $35 in free amazon gift cards in one month.  That buys me a l ot of Kindle books for, basically “free”.  It just cost me some time and a little bit of effort filling out surveys and writing reviews.

Since then, my vision has worsened so much that I can no longer read print books at all so if it were not for Kindle, I would be a very unhappy and very frustrated reader.

That was probably the most surprising gift I have ever received!

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Tonight we went out to dinner for my birthday.  It isn’t my birthday for two more weeks, however that will be Christmas day and not only are many restaurants closed on Christmas, but Christmas isn’t really a day to go out to dinner, at least not in my book.  Years ago, my daughter signed us both up for all sorts of free deals for our birthdays (her’s is two weeks after Christmas).  So for her birthday we run around during her birth month and she gets free meals, or a free appetizer or a dessert or some other item.  For my birthday, we rarely do it because it’s such a busy month, besides a lot of places exclude the use of the birthday coupon on holidays so even if they are open for Christmas, I would not be able to use my freebie coupon.

So tonight it was a free meal at Benihana.  Great deal because they are not only pricey but a fun place to go to enjoy not only dinner but a show!  The boys love it there and tonight they were both mesmerized by the cooking and what was going on at the grill.  The chef was particularly good and showed the kids some neat tricks.  When we were leaving, the waitresses commented on how big the boys are getting.  We go every January for my daughter’s birthday then again in March for Anderson’s birthday and in October for their dad’s birthday and in December for mine.  So they know the kids there!  That’s important when you’re going out to dinner with the kids.  The staff comes around and takes good care of us and provide distractions for the boys, if needed.

So for the next couple of weeks we’ll try to use up my free meal coupons but I probably won’t get to use most of them because of work schedules.  I don’t like to go eat alone and with the rest of the grownups working different schedules, it makes it harder.  But tonight’s dinner was excellent in all ways.  And they sang to me and treated me extra nice!  Bonus!  I’m not used to that.

Okay, off to plot when I can go collect my free bowl of noodles at Noodles & Company!

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A field of brown eyed Susans, photo by C. Carrasco

When I was a little girl, I loved flowers and my favorite one was the one above.  You see, my favorite color is yellow and the brightness of this flower, combined with the contrast of the brown center really caught my eye.  I remember that I wanted my name to be like a flower.  I asked my mother what the name of this flower was and she said they were called Brown Eyed Susan.  I liked that name.  I had brown eyes, just like this flower!  Then I found out that Susie was the name for Susan.  That’s when I started calling myself Susie.  I think I was about three years old.  When people asked me my name, I answered “Susie”.  It caught on and before I knew it, everyone in my family was calling me Susie.  Even now, 55 years later, when I’m home and family is there, it is not uncommon for them to call me Susie and for me to answer to it!

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Waiting

I’m sitting here listening to the sound of my windchimes singing to me and to the neighborhood on this very, very windy day, and I’m thinking of what I should write for today’s blog post.  Nothing.  Well, I can’t do that so I’ll just fake it.  Here goes:

I’m glad I can hear the sound of the chimes and the leaves.  I’m very deaf.  Last year I got myself a pair of hearing aids.  I didn’t get the fancy ones that cost thousands of dollars but I got some you can get online.  They are amazingly good.  Now I can hear my grandson cry when he wakes and I can hear the windchimes and the leaves outside.  It’s amazing the difference that it makes.  I no longer have to ask people to repeat themselves or ask them to speak louder.  I can just turn the volume up if I need to.  Of course, if I don’t want to hear something, I can turn the volume down or shut them off altogether!  A bonus!

I’m waiting.  The National Weather Service is saying that we are getting “winter precipitation” by daylight tomorrow.  It’s very early for such weather in Oregon but we’ll see.  They have been issuing warnings since the weekend and today’s warning says all of the valley area (Portland) will most likely get freezing rain and those of us east of I-205 will get snow.  That’s a more certain forecast than on previous days when they were saying there was just a possibility but confidence in it was low.  So now I wait.  I’ve gotten groceries so I don’t have to go out and drive in whatever mess we end up with.  I’ve stocked up on batteries and have my flashlights ready.  And blankets.  If we lose power, it will be awfully cold so I’ll need the blankets.  In fact, it has already been quite cold. Last night we dipped to 32 and with the wind chill factored in, we were at 24.  Very cold.

So now I wait.  I’m trying to keep the cell phone charged and the laptop charged and the tablet charged so that if power goes, I will still be able to function, somewhat.

And I wait.

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What I really mean is fiction or non-fiction reading. Which do you prefer? When I was in grade school and first learned the terms fiction and non-fiction, the way I remembered which was which was by substituting “fake” for “fiction” because I didn’t readily remember what fiction meant but I knew what fake meant! I think I was in third grade!

I’m definitely a fiction kind of person but I find that when I read fiction, I am looking for the non-fiction in it, that is to say that I look things up that interest me in the fiction to learn more about those things as well as to make sure the author didn’t screw up on their facts! Recently, I’ve read about four of Daniel Silva’s series with Gabriel Allon. These books are filled with facts and fiction based on fact and they send me straight to search for the facts or to learn more about the subjects. I’ve read about the Holocaust (there’s always so much more to learn about it than what we know or think we know), about conflict in the Middle East, about the works of Caravaggio, just to name a few topics. It’s not just his books that do that to me. It’s almost every book. If an author mentions a type of plane used in WWII, I go look it up. If the name of a museum is mentioned, I’m off to find out more about it. As far as checking “facts” presented in fiction, I’m talking about dates and chronology. For example, if an author writes a scene in which a character stays at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles and presents the date as 1992, I know they are wrong. I know that the hotel closed to guests in the 1980’s and I will go online and look for the dates to make sure I’m right. I am. Closure date was 1989. I then chalk it up to sloppy research and the rest of the book is tainted by it.

I read a lot about WWII and those books inevitably send me to find facts. Novels which make reference to art or music will do the same. Novels that reference specific locations with which I am unfamiliar will send me off to discover more.

I do enjoy reading some non-fiction but it has to be about a subject I am already interested in, or the memoirs or biography of someone I have previously hearing about in the past. One example is the Kennedy family. I am interested in all things Kennedy and have read extensively about them and books by them. In fact, my very first e-book when I got my Kindle in 2009, was True Compass by Ted Kennedy.

I just finished book #68 of an 80 book goal for 2014. I must say that the books next up on my list are all fiction but there are a few memoirs that have made the list so I might just load one of those on my Kindle. In fact, I had better run off and do that now so it will be ready to start up first thing in the morning!

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