The World Doesn’t Turn to Suit My Convenience

In the grand and glorious scheme of things, your old Aunt Donna is hardly a key player.

Rather than make myself and everybody around me miserable while the world continues on its merry way totally oblivious to my preferences, I’ve learned to appreciate small victories and cherish little joys when they come my way.

Two small victories:

Changing a light bulb in the dryer all by my little self.

It wasn’t until I went to retrieve a dryer load one day and was met with a gaping maw of darkness that I realized clothes dryers do indeed have light bulbs, which do indeed burn out. This one turned out to be tiny, in a tight, godawful location. For once my itty-bitty hands were an asset. Small victory? For a career klutz like me, you betcha!

Learning to love canes/walking sticks

(Click on images to enlarge.)

Madame Butterfly

Madame Butterfly. A long time ago I found a neat cane in a thrift shop. While I didn’t need a cane at the time, I couldn’t resist the flowers/leaves/butterflies pattern covering its shaft. So it joined my ever-growing collection of eccentricities. Fast-forward to 2020: a knee injury quickly followed by my first bout with sciatica left me in dire and immediate need of a cane. There was Madame Butterfly, bright, sassy and ready to be of service.

Snake Goddess

The Snake Goddess. I came across this one while killing time at the drugstore waiting for a prescription. The shaft was covered with a slightly raised pattern of black-and-silver scales. My deeply-hidden inner Goth was instantly captivated, and The Snake Goddess came home with me to share duties with Madame Butterfly.


Rustica. This outdoor walking stick was hand-crafted for me from a fallen tree branch by my husband Judd, which immediately renders it sacred as well as eminently sensible. (Hey, the man’s a Capricorn!) It’s perfect for my height, grip carefully sanded smooth, and I feel loved every time I grab it to work in the yard. (Side benefit: I also pretend I’m the village wise woman out in search of healing plants for tonics and elixirs, but that’s just between us…)

Two Little Joys

Feeding the birds (and other assorted wildlife).

This is my favorite trek with Rustica. Once again I’m the village wise woman, this time dispensing food while talking to the feathered and furry life forms who consider our back yard their favorite diner. Sunflower seeds go in a hanging feeder as well as on a big plastic plate for the ground feeders. Mixed seed goes in another hanging feeder, with leftovers scattered on a nearby tree stump and the surrounding ground. Suet is hung in a cage dangling from a shepherd’s hook close to the oregano patch. I can feel all these little eyes peering at me as I go about my routine. (They’re probably thinking, “Good grief, could this old biddy move any slower? Shift it, sister!”)

In addition to all kinds of birds, we also have quite a few squirrels (some gray, some black). One particularly ornery little dude I call Slug has mastered the art of draping himself head-down across the sunflower seed feeder in order to gobble from the tray. He looks just like a furry slug–hence the name. I tried to get a picture of him for this post but he wouldn’t cooperate.

One of my favorite visitors is Trundle, the woodchuck (so named because of the way he walks). He likes the sunflower seed plate, happily munching away along with the doves and cardinals. I wish I could get a picture of him for you, but he’s really timid and would have trundled away before I got close enough because I am very scary.

Having fun at the grocery store.

One busy Saturday morning all the open checkout lines at our local grocery store were backed up halfway to the dairy section. Shoppers were far from pleased, with many of them not bothering to hide their frustration. I felt sorry for the poor cashiers who were sure to catch the brunt of it.

Then “Karma Chameleon” by Boy George came over the PA system.

By the first chorus, people were singing along. Others caught the rhythm and swayed with it. A few began to dance in place, quickly followed by others. People were smiling, laughing, and actually talking to each other. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person whose day was brightened by this unexpected festival.

So be on the lookout for your own small victories and little joys. There are lots of ’em, and they help keep us sane.

Take care, all!

PS–Dance like everybody is watching, because you are that good!

Not necessarily normal…

After a series of repeat occurrences I decided my grocery store puts Cheetos on the tippy-top shelf just to torment me. This Saturday was no exception.

My husband had wandered off to another part of the store so I was left in all my 4′ 11″ glory gazing up at the unattainable treats. As I asked myself just how badly did I really want those overpriced bags of cheese-flavored air I overheard two people further down the aisle talking about this winter’s latest slam-dunk on our area.

“Yeah, it sure was a doozy,” said one. “It’s been a real old-fashioned Ohio winter!”

“Look on the bright side,” the other replied. “Maybe that means the weather is finally getting back to normal.”

(My personal opinion: normal weather hopped on the autobahn a few years back and hasn’t been seen or heard from since, but far be it from me to spray primer gray all over somebody’s glimmer of hope.)

120 MPH Speed Limit at the Autobahn A 5 near Frankfurt. Michael Probst / AP

“Maybe people will get back to normal, too,” the first person continued.

“We can only hope!” the other responded.

For a moment I toyed with the idea of asking them exactly how they considered normal people to be. Before I could act on this (probably unwise) notion a familiar long arm reached over my head to snag two bags of Cheetos and drop them into the cart. “Here ya go, little lady.”

I looked way up at my considerably taller husband and sighed. “Thanks. Like I always say, if I was any shorter, I’d be foraging under mushrooms instead of pushing a shopping cart.”

Aw, shucks, honey!

“That’s what you’ve got me for.” He leaned way down to plant a comforting kiss on my forehead. “And remember, you’ll always tower below me.”

So what exactly is this thing called “normal”?

Normal is frequently defined as usual, regular, common, typical, accepted, average.

No discussion of abnormal is complete without Igor (Marty Feldman) from “Young Frankenstein.”

Abnormal, on the other hand, is described as not usual, regular, common, typical, accepted or average.

(Easy, right? Not to mention vague…)

In a nutshell: there’s no “exactly” when we’re talking about normal, especially when it’s applied to people. The term is disconcertingly malleable and depends on who’s setting the standards–often entities who are not affected by the standards themselves and/or stand to profit from inflicting those standards on people who choose to follow them.

The operative word here is “choose…”

Take care, all!

Reports of my demise were greatly exaggerated

Sorry I’ve been MIA for awhile. Life got…well…lively. In a good way, let me hasten to add.

On October 1, 2021, I officially swapped my status of little old white-haired lady for that of little old white-haired RETIRED lady!

I drove myself crazier than I already am preparing for this blessed event. Threading my way through the intricacies of Medicare looked particularly daunting, but with a lot of information from the Boomer Benefits website I was able to get everything set up and put in place well before the deadline.

People kept asking me what plans I had for retirement. Would I be travelling? Did I plan to work part-time? Even someone as socially inept as I am knew that my honest response–“pulling up the drawbridge and never, ever seeing people again unless I want to”– might be taken amiss. After some thought I decided a sweet smile, followed by “Catching up with myself” would do the trick, and it did.

I actually did have plans, of course. Nothing that involved buying an RV or a closetful of “work drag” for a dazzling second career. Humble little plans for a humble little homebody. (Two are listed below.) No problem there, right?

Plan #1: Sleep in! After years of enslavement to the alarm clock, I would wake up whenever I got around to it. Maybe do some leisurely in-bed stretching (for the body) followed by a short meditation (for the spirit). Maybe I’d even read a bit (for the mind) before officially starting my day. Très holistic!

Reality: My bladder is a harsh taskmistress. What she says, goes–literally and frequently. An equally harsh taskmistress is Peanut the Three-Legged Wonder Cat. As I shared in an earlier post, Peanut is a notoriously early riser. She has no concept of “retired” and wouldn’t bend a whisker about it even if she did. She still meows relentlessly until the Hole in the Bowl has been filled, the dead mouse on the landing has been admired or she has been turned loose to prowl the back yard in search of her obsession du jour.

Plan #2: Finally get caught up on all the household chores that fell by the wayside during my lengthy stint as an office minion. I would compile a color-coded chore list (green for light cleaning, blue for decluttering, red for public health hazard). I would devote all my waking hours to completing the items on that list and in one month…okay, two at the most….house beautiful!

Reality: Sometimes even I don’t understand me. What in the world made me think that:

  • after years of constantly doing–and feeling guilty when I wasn’t–I even had that kind of energy?
  • I could effectively wipe out in one or two months things that took years to accumulate?
  • I didn’t deserve a nice big chunk of down-time, not to mention having some actual fun during my early days of retirement? (I blame my Virgo ascendant along with a work ethic stuck in overdrive.)

Rather than tend a bumper crop of frustration while bemoaning my lot in life, I decided the wisest course of action was simply to adapt.

  • As far as the bladder is concerned, just go with the flow. 🙂
  • Peanut’s ridiculously early wakeup calls: respond to the summons. Now that I’m retired, I have the option of going back to bed or catching a nap. (Duh!)
  • Regarding House Beautiful, the only person putting a time limit on things was me. Time limit has since been removed. I have also revised my housework goals: progress, not perfection.
  • I don’t have to “earn” fun. I just do it as the spirit moves me. And the spirit’s been moving me a lot lately. Hope it has for you as well!

Take care, all!

Just like Tom Petty said….

“The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part…”

–Tom Petty, “Waiting Is the Hardest Part”

After months of self-doubt, apprehension, extensive (some might call it compulsive) research and driving myself and everybody around me crazy, I recently put the wheels in motion for Something Big. It was the first step in a complicated process, and nothing else can move forward until this step is approved.

I was a nervous wreck as I filled out the online form, second-guessing myself at every field and double-triple-quadruple checking everything. My hand hovered over the “Submit” button for ten minutes before I finally clicked on it. When receipt of the form was quickly acknowledged, I felt the weight of the world fall off my shoulders. I was so happy Something Big was finally in motion that I celebrated with a wild and crazy victory dance.

Now all I had to do was–wait.

I would like to say that waiting doesn’t bother me, that I’m good at letting whatever I’m waiting for simmer on the back burner while I go merrily on with my life. Truth is, I suck at waiting, especially with something like this because (cue theme song from The X-Files)



Yes, the Something Big people acknowledged receiving my form. Their email also said they would contact me if additional information was needed, and what to expect when my form was approved. Conspicuously absent from their email was any indication of a timeline, plus there’s no place to check the approval process on their website. This was guaranteed to set my OCD firing on all cylinders because, c’mon now, this is Something Big, and I have no idea what’s going on!

So for a few days I did my usual totally ineffective routine of repeatedly checking my email, reviewing my copy of the submitted form to be sure I hadn’t screwed anything up and prowling various message boards to see how long other people had to wait for their approvals. I fell into the old trap of thinking I had to put everything else in my life on hold until I got my answer, which brings new meaning to the word “counterproductive” because

  • all that compulsive checking brought me no closer to my perceived goal
  • things that I actually needed to do piled up
  • things I like to do were shoved aside
  • all worrying did was make things worse. (It usually does.)

I don’t know why insisted on making myself as miserable as is humanly possible before reaching for my trusty life skills toolbox, which has all kinds of neat suggestions for situations like this. To name just a few:

  • stepping AWAY from the computer. (That’s a biggie right there.)
  • making a list and actually doing some of those piled-up chores.
  • yoga.
  • watching a new-to-me TV series on Hulu. In this case, it’s “Harlots.” (Don’t judge.)
  • taking a nap.
  • touching base with people I love and talking about what’s going on with them.

Waiting is hard, no doubt about it. But worrying’s not the only option (even though it sure seems like it when I’m stuck in the Obsessional). Whatever the outcome of the crisis du jour, I won’t regret the positive things I chose to do while marking time.

Take care, everybody!

As the crow flies….

“You are in my power…”

Peanut-the-Three-Legged-Wonder-Cat recently decided 4:00 a.m. is the ideal wake-up time. For everybody in the house.

That would be NO.

It’s not like she’s starving. There are always two–count ’em, two–bowls of dry chow available, one on each level of the house for her convenience. (A visible hole in the center of either bowl results in melodrama like you wouldn’t believe). We also give her canned food at breakfast and supper time. If it was just a matter of Judd or me stumbling bleary-eyed down the stairs to dump a can of food into her dish before stumbling back to bed, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. However, once she deems herself sufficiently well-fortified it’s time for Her Ladyship to patrol the parameters of our fenced-in back yard. (Judd refers to this as The Promenade.) Any attempt to skip The Promenade results in non-stop meowing and ostentatious attempts at leading a human to the back door. (“THIS way! THIS way! C’mon, you idiots, it ain’t rocket science!”)

The Promenade requires the company of at least one of us because

  • even with her three-legged status and advanced age, Peanut is a consummate escape artist. Before we let her out for the first time after she recovered from losing a front leg six years ago, Judd meticulously searched the back yard and blocked any conceivable means of escape. Peanut (who could already move surprisingly well) took a quick look around and promptly sprang from the ground to the top of our 6-foot fence and took off down the driveway. On three legs.
  • despite the aforementioned six-foot privacy fence, we sometimes get feline invaders, often of the quarrelsome male variety. Peanut’s a tiny little old lady now (not unlike myself). This makes for an uneven contest, so Judd and I take turns playing bodyguard.
  • Peanut is a good hunter. She not infrequently catches “toys” such as field mice which she would dearly love to bring into the house, and which we would just as dearly love to have reach a ripe old age outside the house.

The Promenade makes the 4:00 wake-up call problematical because (a) the humans are still temporarily comatose at that hour and would like to remain that way for at least another hour or so and (b) it’s still dark outside. The yard’s pretty big, with lots of places for night-critters to skulk about (which I just realized might be part of the attraction.)

This morning I managed to stall The Promenade until a little after 5:00. It was still kind of dark out, so I took a flashlight to check out the far reaches of the yard. Peanut sniffed around the trash and recycle bins to see if any other felines had passed through. (We call it “checking her pee-mail.”)

I was startled by a rustling sound from a nearby tree. When I trained the flashlight towards it a huge flock of crows flew out, flapping their wings and cawing their beaks off. (My neighbors must have been ready to kill me.) Peanut shot to the back door like a bat out of hell (“Let me in! For the love of God, let me IN!”) while I limped along to open the door as fast as my stiff morning knees would allow.

It’s now 10:00. Judd’s mowing the lawn and taking care of various and sundry yard stuff. I’ve been doing household stuff (does it ever end?) and putting the finishing touches on this post. And where, you might ask, is the Alarm Cat while us busy bees are doing our things?

Do I even need to tell you she’s sleeping in MY chair?

Take care, all!

Who’s been sitting in MY chair???

I love yoga.

I used to do it regularly back in the day, morning and evening. Nothing fancy or “pretzel”-y, but lots of stretches and things like downward-facing dog (often accompanied by an upward-facing cat), child’s pose and Proud Warrior. Lots of poses (including my beloved savasana) required getting down on the floor and up again, which was no big deal back in the day. I didn’t have to think twice about it–I just did it.

Then life happened.

Jobs that took so much out of me I could barely manage the absolute essentials of home life before collapsing into bed. (Aside: why do we so seldom include the things we love to do on the “absolute essentials” list?)

To add to the fun and games, a badly messed-up knee followed by a sciatic nerve periodically raising its ugly head made getting down on the yoga mat a very dicey proposition. The list goes on, but I’m sure you’ve got enough of your own things to deal with so I’ll spare you.

For some occult and self-destructive reason I decided if I couldn’t get down on the mat, I could no longer do yoga. So I rolled up my mat, blanket and strap and sadly stowed them away–but not too far away.

Like it’s been for so many of us, the last few years were insanely stressful. (And this year has definitely had its share of challenges.) In desperation I found myself reaching for an old spiritual practice that had fallen by the wayside–meditation. Trying to control my mind has always been like attempting to impose a vow of silence on Monkey Island, and the current barrage of disinformation and propaganda from the media hadn’t helped matters any. So this time instead of trying to clear my mind, when errant thoughts popped up I allowed them to drift through, then returned my attention to my breathing. And it worked! (Humbling admission: it was also the way I should’ve been doing it all along, but better late than never.)

Mickey Wiz and his peeps, keeping my seat warm.

I still missed yoga, though. There’s something about the combination of body/mind/spirit yoga offers that simply couldn’t be duplicated–at least for me. I still wasn’t in any shape for getting down on the mat, but one day I decided to unroll it and do a few standing poses. Progress! Then I came across some videos showing chair yoga which would allow me to do more poses without aggravating my problem areas. We got me set up with a sturdy folding chair and I started my own chair yoga practice, which I absolutely loved.

The bad news: One day last week I was pouring a potful of boiling pasta water into a colander and my hand slipped. Ended up with 2nd degree burns across the inside of my left wrist. (Don’t worry, no pictures!) Because even chair yoga involves hand and arm movements, along with the fact that I was really hurting, I didn’t practice yoga for several days. And I really, really missed it.

The good news: I’m starting back up this afternoon!

I’ve often said it’s the little victories that keep us sane, but after re-reading this post I’m beginning to see that maybe this victory really isn’t such a little one after all….


You can tell your old Aunt Donna’s in her natural habitat.

Just look at that smile. With dimples, no less!  Check out the relaxed posture. And even though they’re a bit swollen with seasonal allergies, the eyes are bright, alert and happy.

There are far worse fates than being an introverted, empathic homebody all nice and snug in her sanctuary—especially the way the World Out There (WOT) has been these days.

But I don’t have to let the bad stuff take up all-pervading residence in my mind. I can shoo it away with a list of things I’m grateful for: a wonderful husband who knows all about me but loves me anyhow, two grown kids with seriously warped senses of humor, Peanut-the-Three-Legged Wonder-Cat….I could go on and on, but you get the idea. And the good stuff is ‘way more fun to think about than the manufactured mayhem du jour.

If something icky from the WOT does manage to sneak in, I can simply choose to release it, switch the mental channel, or….hell, even clean the toilet! Just do something–anything–different.

I can also make changes in my life. Mostly small ones, of course, but there’s one giant leap of faith that’s long overdue. (Misery may love company, but it ain’t getting any more of mine!)

Gotta admit I’m still very much a work in progress, and some days are better than others. But the important thing is–I am working at it, because I’m worth the effort.

Take care, everybody!

Fabulously Feral

In keeping with Covid-19 safety precautions I’ve been working remotely since March 2020 and holding my forays into the World Out There to the barest minimum. I realize being an introverted empath who would rather stay home and read makes this easier for me than it is for some folks, but I’ve actually discovered some definite pluses in the situation.

Escape from Boob Jail
Wooo-hooo! At long last, a welcome end to the ongoing struggle with
–weapons-grade shoulder straps
–“tourniquet” under bands
–homicidal underwires
–closure hooks that feel like a back rub from Edward Scissorhands

(“The Girls” and I can definitely make this a way of life…)


Welcome to my nightmare…..

Naked Eyes
Like many redheads, my eyebrows and eyelashes were white long before my hair was. I hated this with a passion, so over the years I’ve used enough mascara and eyebrow pencil to sink a small yacht. Now I’ve realized the only entities who see me are my husband (who already knew the awful truth) and the cat (who couldn’t care less), so why bother? Before working remotely I would never, ever have emerged in public without my protective coloration. Now?  On rare occasions when the spirit moves me I might paint up to go to the grocery store.  Later I’ll forget I have the stuff on, rub my eyes and–voila! Instant Alice Cooper! So again, why bother?

Cheetos are a food group.  So are cheesecake and mesquite barbecue potato chips.  Also, a spoonful of real maple syrup is good for the soul.

Fashion understatements. I have my “going downstairs where it’s chilly” sweats, my “staying upstairs where it’s warm” sweats, and my watch-another-episode-of-Versailles-on-Netflix-while-eating-the-aforementioned-cheesecake pajamas. Ah, the simplicity! 

Whole libraries at my fingertips.  Thanks to my Kindle tablet I have been able to ransack multiple libraries without leaving my chair (which would disturb the cat). 

As I got to know myself better during this “away time” I realized some of the rules and restrictions I’ve chafed against over the years were actually self-imposed. (For example, nobody ever forced me to wear eye makeup.)  And a lot of things I’ve jokingly called “feral” are just—me being me. Definitely something to think about…

Take care, all, and stay safe! 

The Donna-Go-Braless image was created by me using Pixton.
The Alice Cooper Eyes image was adapted from: “File:Alice Cooper – 2019254212312 2019-09-11 Alice Cooper – 0458 – B70I0459.jpg” by Sven Mandel, which is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

2020 Vision

“Looking through crystal spectacles/
I can see you’ve had your fun.”
–Donovan, Epistle to Dippy (from Sunshine Superman album, 1966)

Back in the day we called them “trip glasses.”

Their multi-faceted lenses gave the wearer a kaleidoscopic view of the world which, we were told, was “just like an LSD trip.”  Never having indulged in LSD, I can’t speak to the truth of that claim; the only trips I had while wearing them were over my own two feet.

Some advantages of trip glasses over LSD:

  • Trip glasses weren’t illegal.
  • No flashbacks cropping up at inopportune times.
  • No danger of ingesting the questionable products of amateur pharmacists.
  • A “trip” could be stopped at will simply by taking off the glasses and restoring normal vision.

Speaking of vision, 20/20 means perfect eyesight.

2020, however, refers to a year that will live in infamy for a whole lot of folks.

Wouldn’t it be great if  we could stop 2020’s crazy train/roller coaster ride just by  removing a pair of glasses?

Take care, everybody.  We’re all in this together!