Monday, June 27, 2022

NOW What??!!

The overturning of Roe immediately turned me into a roiling cauldron of anger.  Well, not immediately, because I was camping at the time and wasn’t constantly monitoring media.  I did, however, make the mistake of checking my Twitter feed at some point that morning and unraveled. 

BUT… I have learned, over the last few years, that anger is a fantastic catalyst and has very little ongoing, additional value.  It clouds my vision and keeps me from making logical, proactive decisions and plans.  The key, for me, is to have the anger jolt me into action, but then to be able to calm down enough to create a plan for action.  Thus, I found myself on Friday afternoon sitting with Ron among tall trees and a gentle breeze, brainstorming about what I could do about this travesty of justice.

Here are some initial thoughts; some of these might trigger some action on your own part.  I do know that just thinking and talking about these options with Ron and then with my amazing friend, Mary Kay (the non-prof queen), made me feel more focused and calm.  It also gave me a sense of purpose and the confidence that there would be something I could do, however small, to make a difference in our future.

 

1.      We need to expand the pool of diligent voters.  The only way for our voices to be heard at the polls is to VOTE.  In addition to encouraging registered voters to exercise their voting rights, I vow to find at least one (hopefully, more) unregistered voters and convince them to register and then to vote.  I live in California, so the easiest way to register here is online at this link: Online Voter Registration | California Secretary of State You can easily find information for your own state online.  Best place to begin to find people to register: Young people who have recently turned 18.  Do you know any?  GET THEM REGISTERED!!

2.      I am vowing to no longer do any direct business (in my case, travel is the best example) in states that have anti-abortion laws.  For example, I was on the fence as to whether to attend a wedding in Tennessee in September, and I have now declined to attend.  I am making one type of exception only to my no-travel zone (to be discussed in the next paragraph).  You can find a list of states who have already enacted or are about to enact anti-choice laws here: State Laws and Policies | Guttmacher Institute  This is pretty detailed information, for those of us who are data geeks.  For a simple color-coded map, you can click here: How major abortion laws compare, state by state | The Fuller Project

3.      The one exception to my “travel ban” is states where dearest family and friends live (currently, that would be Idaho, Montana, and Texas).  But I am going to try VERY HARD to give my business (hotel, restaurant, shops) to organizations who are “pro-Roe” and especially those who offer abortion benefits in their health coverage, and hopefully even provide for travel expenses for employees who have to travel to other states to avail themselves of services.  Here's an article about this subject, if you care to check out this issue: The growing list of US companies expanding abortion benefits — Quartz at Work (qz.com) Conversely, some companies have donated loads of money to Trump’s campaigns (and he set up this whole avalanche of crap, by appointing three SCOTUS justices, all of whom voted to overturn Roe).  It’s ALWAYS WORTH checking into things for yourself; information is augmented daily, and looking at current articles is always a good idea. Here is one list of companies to AVOID patronizing: Boycott Trump List - Updated for 2022 | DoneGood

4.      I am going to make myself available to transport women to clinics, if necessary.  Yes, it might mean driving pretty far to pick them up and take them home, but so be it.  I, of course, have no personal knowledge of who would need my assistance, but I tapped into a group who are doing that research and have told them that I’m “way in” to help with transportation when necessary.  This brings up a good point: you don’t have to do it all yourself!  Link up with larger groups who are already being activists and volunteer to help them out with time, talent, or treasure.

5.      My amazeballs husband gave me some amazing advice: Use my skills and passion to do something within my wheelhouse, with hopes of channeling anger into action.  So, we brainstormed and decided that my skills and passion are data collection and dissemination (yes, I do know that makes me a freak of nature, but we data engineers make your lives better in more ways than you know!).  I called my amazing friend, Mary Kay, because she is very like-minded (she gave me a couple of the links included in this post). In the coming weeks and months, MK and I will be gathering data and information, and disseminating it in some form (to be determined), but at the least I’ll make a few more (hopefully, shorter!) blog posts about this.

Stay strong and sane, my friends.  These are crazy times, but we CAN make a difference in so many small or large ways.

Peace,

Janine

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Of Moving, Masks, and Medicine

I've been mostly silent on social media lately, but decided that I should give a quick description of how my last six months has been.

In March, Ron suggested that it was time for us to sell our home in Washington and move back to California, and I immediately agreed.  I have moved a LOT in the past 16 years (I think 11 times, if I am counting correctly), and I was actually feeling a little restless having been in the same house for five years.  In addition, our little town was growing more and more polarized due to a Q-Anon-promoting mayor and his henchpeople. Our next-door neighbors were getting closer to moving into their house full-time, and had made it very clear that they weren't happy with our "liberal a$$hole" presence, and we missed our friends and family in California.  Lastly (but not the least important, by far), Ron had a couple medical issues that turned out to be okay but made us realize that we were MUCH too far from specialized medical care in our small town.

So, we made a trip to Roseville, got on a wait list for a new house, got a house offered to us, went into contract, put our house on the market, sold it, packed up, and closed escrow.  All in the space of about three months.  It was cray-cray.

Our new house wasn't actually going to be completed until early September, so we were going to be nomadic for about three months.  This seemed like a fun, adventurous idea!  We have dear, amazing friends who offered us places to stay, we had an extended stay hotel in our back pocket, we had a couple trips planned, and it was all going to be (as my friend Mary Kay would say) both hunky and dory.

And then reality struck, in the form of a mystery medical issue...not for Ron this time, but for me.  Let me give a tiny bit of backstory here that would come to be very, very important: while living in Washington, there was only one medical insurance plan that the State of California (Ron's employer) would offer us: a Blue Cross PPO.  As of February, I was also on that plan because Ron had the good (?) sense to marry me on January 1, 2021.  We planned, once we were back in California, to reassess that situation and probably change plans during open enrollment in October so that we had an HMO (likely Kaiser or a similar Sutter-type plan) that would give us lower deductibles and lower out-of-pocket maximums per year.  That will come into play here in a bit.

Beginning in late May, just before we left, I began experiencing abdominal pain that was sometimes very slight and sometimes really, really ugly.  Over the course of the last six months, I have seen numerous doctors, had one surgery that ended up not fixing the issue, and ended up getting a referral to the Chief of Surgical Specialties at Mercy.  The ONLY reason I was able to use that referral (which was a godsend, believe me) is that we missed the open enrollment closing date and were "stuck" with keeping our PPO.  Since I have had numerous imagings, doctor visits, and that one surgery already (which would add up to about twenty thousand dollars, so far), and since those procedures have been in the Sutter, Hill, and Dignity systems, our less-desirable PPO has become a glowing light of happiness.  All of this has made us both realize just how lucky we are to have really decent insurance.  JUST SO DAMN LUCKY. If I were on the same insurance I was on last year, who knows how this would have gone.  And for people who have no insurance?  Holy smokes.  If we still lived in Sequim, I would likely have had to travel one to three hours for some of these specialized visits and tests, which would have sucked because one of the things that makes me really uncomfortable is any lengthy car ride.

Now, I have the utmost faith that Dr. House (not his name, but it's what I call my current specialist, because he is a medical sleuth extraordinaire) is going to get to the bottom of this pretty soon and I suspect I will have another surgery in January (hopefully) that will fix this.  But I cannot possibly be more grateful to my family, friends, doctors, medical assistants, schedulers, et al who have made this journey as easy as possible.  I have learned a lot about the medical field, and about myself. I so appreciate the hilarious things that have kept me smiling (like my friend, Kati, who asks me during phone calls, "Is it a day for platitudes or no platitudes?"). My sister texts or calls me multiple times a week, and makes me realize that her own chronic pain renders her probably the most able to help me deal with mine. I will endeavor to do a better job, as I and my peers get older, to help them in the same way. Paula, you will never know how much I appreciate you.

And Ron?  Holy cow, he has been a saint.  He picks up whatever slack I leave, he expects nothing from me other than what I say I can do day to day, he understands that I can go from "mostly okay" to "I need to go spend the next 30 hours in bed," and he has watched countless hours of Beat Bobby Flay and even the Great British Baking Show with me. (He does still watch a lot of Sci-Fi, but usually when I'm in bed or lying down).  I couldn't even have begun to imagine what an amazing COVID lock-down companion he would be.  And I couldn't have asked for better.

And now, I am still mostly at home.  I still struggle with being on lockdown (because I am a total extrovert), but every test means being COVID screened, and if I fail, it would mean rescheduling the test, which could delay things by weeks.  I had to be COVID-tested prior to my surgery in October; if I had tested positive, it would have been January before I could have rescheduled that surgery.  So, I am just so careful.  I know now that the "COVID comfort level" scale goes from "complete hermit" to "Aaron Rodgers," and I am somewhere at the lower part of that scale.  Be kind to each other, my friends.  You never know what someone else is going through, and what his/her reasons may be for being uber-careful or being a little less careful.  (And sorry, Aaron, but there's no excuse for your level of idiocy).

So, mask up, get vaccinated and boosted, be immensely grateful for modern medicine, and....don't move unless you have to (Ron says he is NEVER doing it again!)

Happy Holidays, my friends!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Of Marbles, Music, and Manicures

Today, I briefly lost my marbles.  All of them – the cat eyes, the boulders, the peewees, the steelies, the clearies.  Every.  Last.  Marble. 

Ron came home from dropping off our ballots and found me sitting in the backyard, just weeping.  He asked me what had happened, and what was wrong.  I said that nothing had happened, and everything was wrong; that I had crossed the line from dissatisfaction, pessimism, and anger to pure hatred and fury.  I told him that I didn’t know how anyone could still support our existing president, and that I had finally come to a place where I never again wanted to have anything to do with a person who would vote for him again in November.  I told Ron, during the brief periods when I could actually get a sentence out, that I hated myself for hating people; that I didn’t want to feel this way; that I wished something would happen to make sure that our current president could never be elected again.  Then, I ceased being able to speak at all.

In reality, something DID happen.  I watched the Axios interview with Trump this morning, in its entirety.  After a 37-minute-long demonstration of pure egotism, gaslighting, and complete insanity, I boiled it all down to one conversation snippet (because I am a 1-or-0 person; that’s how my data-driven mind rolls).  Trump said that we only have way more cases than most countries because we test more (we are apparently the BEST at testing! We have tested 50 to 60 million people! [note: we have administered about 57 million tests, but lots of people get tested multiple times – some daily – so that doesn’t necessarily equate to 57 million people]).  Then, he said we are the BEST because we have the lowest number of deaths PER CASE.  Hmmmm….he already said the case numbers are huge, so that means the denominator in the “deaths per case” is much higher than in other countries; therefore, we would definitely have a lower number of deaths per case.  The reporter, Jonathan Swan, reminded Trump that we are very high (in fact, we are the seventh-highest in the world) if you look at deaths per capita.  Trump said, “You can’t do that,” and continued to hold out pieces of paper with simplistic bar charts on them to prove that we are the BEST while Swan kept saying, “but it’s DEATHS…”.  Everyone really should watch the entire interview, because it holds great insight into the absolute mental illness of the man who can push a button and release nuclear missiles, but this one anti-arithmetical bit of conversation made me lose my marbles (even the aggies and red devils).

I decided, while sitting in the backyard waiting for the birds and the breeze to calm me down, that there are a lot of people who voted for Trump in 2016 who likely won’t vote or him again; some of those people are dear friends of mine.  But if people vote for him again?  I have literally not one inch of space in my life for them.  I want them out of my life (I’d love for them to be off the planet, but I can’t control that).  Then, the guilt set in and the weeping began (cue Ron’s homecoming).

After a long conversation (during which, I’ll admit, I was asked very gently if I needed medication and I thought yeah, if it’s cyanide and I get to administer it to whomever I desire), Ron finally got down to the simplest question: Do I want to have a contentious, hate-filled relationship with my next-door neighbors?  (They were the closest, most glaring example of people who will again vote for Trump).  I had to think about that; I do, honestly, believe that another four years under Trump will mean that my children will not die from natural causes.  Do I want to continue hating people who will empower him to start the spiral into global destruction?  No, I do not want to hate anyone.  It takes too much energy, and it makes me miserable.  Well, he said, then ignore them.  If they speak to you, just don’t respond.  When you post something about our responsibility to wear masks on Next Door and they add insane conspiracy theory propaganda as comments, shut the post down to future comments and state why (I have done this, in the past).  Stop hating and start ignoring.  In fact, ignore everything for a few hours, to get a feel for it.

I thought my beloved was being overly simplistic, and just didn’t get it.

But hey, my current way of being sure as hell isn’t working for me, so I gave it an afternoon.

Every day, my sweet friend Alba sends me a link to a song on Spotify, as well as a text with what she’s grateful for and what her “manifest” is for the day.  So, I clicked on the song link.  It was a song from the latest Taylor Swift album.  I love Taylor Swift.

While I was listening, I added to my Spotify playlist about a dozen albums from bands I had never heard of, based on an email my dear brother had sent me a couple days ago to get me listening to music again, instead of mind-exploding news.  Then, once Taylor had finished her song, I started in on one of those albums (the eponymous first album by a group called The Meadows).

To top it off, I listened to this while sitting in the sunshine and giving myself a really good manicure (the ultimate act of self-pampering).

An hour later, my nails are less splintered, my eyes are less red, and I have hope again.

Of course, this is all made easier by the fact that my neighbors are currently not in residence next door; but, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  And, my attitude towards Trump supporters will be like that of Trump himself toward Ghislaine Maxwell; I’ll know that they’re contributing to corruption, pain, and criminal behavior, but I’ll wish them well and then say I don’t know them.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Paper Chase


A little while ago, my sister, Paula, posted a lament on Facebook related to the skyrocketing cost of her daily paper.  She has been reading the San Francisco Chronicle, cover to cover, every day for as long as I can remember.  Like me, she doesn’t particularly like e-readers, and prefers the real thing in periodicals, newspapers, and books.  Plus, that paper has contributed to some of her best tales (like running out to get it in her coat over a slip, one day, before work, and then forgetting that was all she had on, and almost going to work like that). I may have gotten that story a little bit twisted, but I think I’m close. Anyway, she decided to fork over the funds and continue receiving her paper each day, despite the exorbitant price.

In a similar vein, I was at a home show a month or so ago, and the Seattle Times had a booth there.  I decided to sign up for the daily paper, since our local rags don’t publish daily (not do they have lots of national news).  I have grown weary of watching news on TV; it’s just the same 30 seconds over and over and over again (except for PBS Newshour, which I do love). 

I love everything about the newspaper: the feel of the pages, the rustling noise they make when I turn them, the more-in-depth information I can get from them…and the non-news bits.

 When I was a child, my dad tried to come home from work every day around 4:00 pm.  He and I would go downstairs to the family room, have a little drink together (I mentioned this in a previous blog post, and will again say that having a little bit of bourbon in the late afternoon with my father from the time I was about nine years old never seemed to hurt anyone), and watch chat shows while he read the paper.  I would wait (not so) patiently while he went through the “boring parts” (news) until he got to the section with comics and puzzles.  At that point, we would read the comics together, me perched on the arm of his big easy chair, and then we’d do the Jumble.  I think the comics page and those puzzles probably played a decent role in my early reading skills (that, plus my sister forcing me to read “Stage Coach Days,” which I bet Paula still has in her vast library).  I would even ask him to do the Bridge puzzle with me, but I didn’t have a clue what all of the information meant, and I’m not sure my dad even knew how to play bridge.  We typically skipped that one.

So, once my Seattle Times started showing up on my doorstep each morning, I dove right in and was reunited with all of my old friends, including the comics and the puzzles.  Now, when I turn the pages in the news sections, I think of my sister, and wonder if she’s having her morning cup of hot water and reading her beloved Chronicle at the same time that I am having my coffee and reading my Times.  I think of my brother’s house in Idaho, when we visit each summer, and how much I love coming downstairs, hearing the rustling even before I hit the landing,  and seeing the kitchen table with the paper on it, and Marc or Janet (my brother and sister-in-law) there reading through glasses, neither of them having yet put in their contacts.  But mostly, I think of my dad and doing the Jumble and reading comics with him every day for years.

Last summer, when we were visiting with Marc and Janet, my brother and I did the Jumble together.  Again, I was transported back in time.  It was heavenly.

So, I hope that Paula is reading this, and Janet, too.  Keep getting the real paper.  It’s not just about the news; it’s about a way of life that is valuable and so easily remembered.  It’s about comfort and happiness and warmth.  Not a bad investment, if you ask me.

Image result for newspaper reading father daughter

Monday, January 22, 2018

Mission: Aborted

Sometimes, our differences are brought to light only during shared experiences.  And, those experiences can help to teach us that differences don’t indicate that one person is wrong and the other right; we can simply be different.  The good news is that these little life experiments can really shed some light into the minds and experiences of others.

Recently, my spousal equivalent and I decided to spend a couple months in California.  We could visit my kids, I could work in some much-needed meetings with my non-prof clients-to-be, and we could actually see some sunshine and feel some warmer temperatures.  We’d do all of this from the comfort (a relative term) of the AirStream Ambassador that Ron has owned for a number of years, but which we have not used since we met each other five years ago.  The silver twinkie has been in storage for quite a while, and Ron had the floor and counters replaced last winter in anticipation of spending some quality time in RV parks and campgrounds.

We really should have had a test run, even if in our own driveway.

Based on Ron’s assurances that we’d have plenty of space and all the comforts necessary for happy living, I flew down to Sacramento (as I had a commitment there that we necessitated a quick travel time), and Ron met me down there on a Sunday night with Lucy, the trailer.

And, it was there in a trailer park in Loomis, California, that we were made glaringly aware of a number of things that caused the experiment to fail.  We do have high hopes of making some adjustments (some to the trailer, some to each of our attitudes and expectations) that will allow us to use Lucy again in the future, but this journey was definitely not great, and so we came back home to our cold, cloudy, spacious home.  (Spacious is a key word here).
Here are some differences in our general needs and lifestyles that we became aware of:

       One of us is modest, and the other is, well, not.  I don’t like to even imagine having to walk through a public space (trailer park) in a robe in order to get a hot shower.  Since it happened forty years ago, I will freely admit that I somehow made it through four years of high school without ONCE taking a shower in P.E.  I also can’t be anything close to comfortable, to this day, taking showers in communal areas.  Not even the local YMCA, where most of the women there are twenty years older than I am, and gravity has caused all of their sexually-oriented body parts to be centrally located.  Can’t do it.  Ron, on the other hand, is rumored to have come upon a snowmelt stream once while hiking and, having hurt his knee and needing some of the icy water’s healing properties, simply stripped naked on the trail in front of a lot of people and waded into the waters.  I have also witnessed his “dropping trou” outside a backpacking tent at a crowded campground in order to crawl in and not have to undress in the tiny space inside.  I see this as total insanity, while he thinks it’s just normal.  Since the trailer, on that first night, had NO window covering up in the tiny bath area, I couldn’t pee comfortably, even in the dark.  Egads.

    One of us camped extensively from a young age, and the other did not.  Ron started going out on horseback for weeks at a time with his grandfather before he even started kindergarten, to bounty hunt stock-killing critters (cougars, coyotes, etc) in eastern Nevada.  I didn’t even sleep in a tent until I was in my late twenties, and then it was in tents in which I could easily stand up, get dressed, etc.

    One of us is a human heater, and the other has Reynaud’s Syndrome.  Ron routinely was throwing off the comforter at night, and my hands and feet just never seemed to get warm at all.

    One of us is seriously organized, and is thrilled by order.  The other is more disorganized, and lacks the ability to ever throw anything away.  Case in point: rather than add our aluminum cans to our municipal recycling, we save them in huge plastic bags and then bring them down to California like so many Santa’s bags full of clanging metal, because the localities up here do not have “paying” recycling plants.  The result of keeping a jillion aluminum cans in bags littering the garage for a year: $48.  I have now announced that I will hand Ron 50 bucks in cash each January 1, and put the f^%$* cans in the recycling each week.

    One of us is clumsier than the other.  Having to walk sideways like a fiddler crab to get past a bed to the bathroom area or a closet (which, incidentally, will NOT open if the bed is made up; don’t get me started) resulted in my having multiple bruises on my legs from running into corners of things, and finally a blue, painful lump an inch HIGH next to my elbow from ramming my arm into a wall corner.

    One of us is much more annoyed by water being on the floor from an unnamed leak in the roof, while the other just flops an area rug over it and calls it good.
You get the drift….

So, we decided to come home.  We also discussed the fact that compromise is lovely when each person is giving something up, but if my compromising means being more uncomfortable and his compromising means being LESS uncomfortable, it’s not really a compromise.  And, lastly, we got to laughingly talk about how we love our house SO MUCH that neither of us is really all that disappointed to be home.

So, we’ll fix the leak, make sure all the windows are covered, change the bed formation just enough that I can get the closets open when it’s out, and I will put childproof cushioning on all those nasty wall corners that keep wanting to reach out and hurt me.  Then, we’ll try again.  But, next time, we’ll try it out for two or three days instead of two months, so that we can discover issues and return home and fix things without having to travel 1500 miles to do it.  We have also both agreed that my maximum survival time in Lucy is probably a week or less.


Live and learn…now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go take some Advil and put ice on my elbow.  😊

Friday, July 28, 2017

Missing Persons

It happened again this week; it has only happened once before, but both times left me a little bit breathless and a large bit melancholy.  I was wandering the streets of my hometown at a summer festival, and I looked ahead a few yards and spied a man who looked exactly like Roy.  Exactly.  Like.  Him.

Now, I am not totally brain-dead, and I do know that my husband died over thirteen years ago, but for one tiny instant, I wanted to just run up and ask, “Where the hell have you been?  Why did you go away?  How ARE you?!”

(Incidentally, the first time it happened, I was walking back to my office in San Francisco in 2010, and I actually started to walk up to the poor guy, then realized that he was a stranger and there was truly NOTHING I could say to him that wouldn’t make me seem like a lunatic, so I let it go.)

But it makes a person realize how imprinted on our hearts our loved ones are, even when they have been gone for quite some time.  The influence, for me, is great enough that I can close my eyes and remember Roy’s tuneless humming, the scrape-scrape-scrape sound of my dad shaving, the fluffy softness of my mom’s robe on my cheek when I snuggled up to her on the couch in the evening.

Certainly, though, the recent memories are often the strongest, and when someone dies suddenly and before his/her time, it’s a huge blow, and the memories are all-consuming.  If there is a lot of “what-if”-ing (or, as one of my friends once termed it, “the curse of the shoulds”), it can be almost impossible to endure.

This past week, only a couple days after I had the jolt of seeing the Roy lookalike, one of Roy’s nephews surrendered to whatever demons were driving him, and took his own life.  The sadness of it is incredible, even to me, and I hadn’t seen him in, well, thirteen years.  I cannot imagine what his parents, and brothers, and children, are going through.  All I can do is hope and pray that they somehow, someday, find peace and can simply recall his huge laugh, his random (and hilarious) utterings, and his oh-so-kind heart.

There have been a couple times in my life (luckily, not recently) when I was weighed down by depression, and I often think that I just barely escape its cloud much of the time.  It’s a heavy, barren feeling, and it’s almost impossible to shake.  I have fought it with and without medication, and have learned some coping mechanisms that [mostly] help me tremendously.  I do, though, recall that in my darkest period I just plain wished I could go to sleep and never awake.  One of my friends told me once that suicide is a “long-term solution to a short-term problem.”  It makes sense to a sane person, but what if your problem is NOT short-term?  Or, what if your problem SEEMS short-term to everyone but yourself?  The solution begins to appear as a liberation, a perfect escape.  It’s really hard to shake that off, and I understand how it could become a constant companion that finally convinces you to end your pain permanently.


For those of you who have never felt this turmoil, I am truly happy.  Freedom from that kind of darkness is a huge gift, not to be taken lightly.  For those of us who have ever been plagued by darkness, I say this: Tell someone.  Tell everyone who will listen.  There *is* safety in numbers, and there is some freedom in the telling itself.  Seek help far and wide.  And for those who know someone who is struggling with this demon, please be supportive, and open, and loving.  Shower the people you love with love - unconditionally.  Don’t minimize their pain.  Hold them close.  And, if you think there is real danger, make a call.  Peace be with you all.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Waiting for a Pony

For years, I have wanted a pony.  I believe that my dad's cousin, Attilio, told me when I was three years old that he would buy me a white pony.  This brought up the hackles on my mom, who believed you should never make a promise to a child that you couldn't keep.  (If my friend, Ken Firl, is reading this, he will now know where this philosophy of mine originated.)  ANY-hoo-how, I spent years wishing in vain for an equine pet.  I wore cowboy boots.  I went on trail rides.  I kept a binder of pictures and articles on horses.  I subscribed, as a child, to Western Horseman magazine.  I dreamed that one day, like the boy in Lincoln Steffens' great Christmas story, a man would come down my street leading a pony, and I would joyfully realize that it was mean for me.  (If you have never read this tale, you should - you can find it here: A Miserable Merry Christmas  I cry every time I read it, or even talk about it.)

Alas, my pony never materialized.  But, still I persevered.  Any time ANYone asked me if I wanted anything ("Janine, i am going to the store - do you want anything?" "Janine, we're heading out for coffee - can we bring you anything?"  "Janine - it is Groundhog Day - is there something you'd like?") I always have replied with, "A Pony!"  In fact, one day while at work years ago, I was sitting next to a colleague who had brought in a set of walkie-talkies that he had scored on Woot!.  He had one on his desk, turned on, and somehow it picked up the NexTel devices of the construction workers out in the parking lot.  The walkie-talkie next to me suddenly squawked, "I'm taking a break - anyone need anything?"  Without hesitation, I picked up the device, pushed the "TALK" button, and said, "I want a pony!"  Pause...silence...then the same voice, an octave deeper, said, "I've got your pony right here, baby."  Funny, but NOT what I was hoping for.

A few weeks ago, sometime before my recent 56th birthday, 53 years after I first asked for a pony, my lovely Ron asked me what I'd like for my birthday.  "A pony," I said, and we both laughed.  He reminded me (for the 4,677th time, as he does every time I ask for a pony) that our subdivision has CC&Rs that restrict the ownership of anything other than "normal household animals."  Usually, I then say, "an alpaca? a llama?  an emu?" But, ever the practical lawyer-type, he has to tell me that I cannot have any of those, nor a springbok, a dik dik, or a nilgai.  Believe me, it's a looooong conversation some days when he asks if I want anything from the corner market.  He ended up getting me a really cool scrapbooking tool, and I thought that was that.  My birthday came and went, and nothing earth-shattering happened.

Then, the next day, he handed me a card and said he had reserved it for the day after my birthday because he thought my birthday had been a challenging day for me (long story), but that the 23rd had been a banner day (true, but a separate long story).  The front of the card's envelope alone was awesome, because, well, it looked like this:



It's just so cute.

The card was lovely, the sentiment perfect, and then, at the bottom inside, after his signature, was a promise to take me to two riding sessions.  I could keep both for myself, or he would accompany me for one joint session.

So, in addition to building me a house, taking really good care of me, agreeing to support me (and my scrapbooking habit) so that I could semi-retire this year, and being a steady source of joy in my life, the man gave me (in a small way) a pony.

Happy Christmas, everyone.  I hope you receive that super special thing that is your own pony this year.

Peace to all of you!