Trolling for Bolivia, Argentina and Nicaragua

Gentle readers,

Jim, my darling husband, tells me if readers in Bolivia, Argentina, Nicaragua respond to this post he will take me out and pay for dinner.  If those countries don’t respond, I pay. Which stinks since I have zero income.  Please, kind readers, respond.  I am bored with daily cooking.  New meal ideas are elusive.  And if I find them they require work.  Work is not fun.  Work is work.

Those of you in Bolivia, Argentina, and Nicaragua, please comment.  Manifest a night out.   Dinner cooked by someone else.  Served by someone else. Dishes cleaned by someone else.  Other readers, if you have friends in Bolivia, Argentina or Nicaragua please have them respond.

Okay….Here we go. Manifesting going out to dinner!  Yay us.  You and me, readers, we are powerful.

UPDATE!!  Since posting this I’ve had three “views” from Nicaragua!  Yay!

 

Touching the Planet

WordPress offers the opportunity to look at your blog statistics. Those include how often people clicked on the blog and in which countries. So far my blog has had views from twenty-eight countries. According to Google, there are 196 countries on this planet. I just stamped the math out with my hoof. According to my calculations, I have 164 countries to go.

I’ve only been blogging for since April. It’s exciting to imagine what countries I’ll have touched by this time next year. My goal is one post each day, Monday through Friday.

Dear Readers, if you know anyone in the countries not listed, please send them a link!

Loving Sixty Five has traveled to:

The United States is the winner with 3694 views. Thanks, Americans.

India  Germany  Kenya  Canada  China

The United Kingdom  Pakistan  Ireland  Philippines

Belize  Australia  Hungary  Czech Republic

Singapore  Italy  South Africa  Belgium

Sweden  Brazil  Costa Rica  Spain  Thailand

Bahamas  Greece  Venezuela  Switzerland  France 

 

Isn’t the internet astonishing?  I’m delighted Al Gore invented it.

 

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Moving. You can’t always get what you want. But we got what we needed.

On my May 11 post, I spoke about Our Impulsive Move to Florida

This month we celebrate our fourth year as Floridians. When our tiny 1870’s home sold in a day, I looked at Jim and asked, “What the hell do we do now?”  Our buyer wanted to close in two short months. We had no clue where we would live.  Jim replied, “We start packing.”

What made our Grove Avenue experience so excellent were the wonderful neighbors.  They became dear close friends over our eight years there.  We, neighbor/friends, shared wine on front porches, dinner’s in our kitchens, afternoons chatting about everything and nothing.  And we helped one another.  If a living room ceiling needed painting, a group of us showed up rollers in hand.  Are you rearranging the furniture?  We’ll lift the sofa. Do you need a ride to the airport or someone to let the dog out?  Not a problem.

Those friends were puzzled by our impetuous decision, and possibly a little unhappy.  We had a great time on Grove Avenue.  It was sad to break up the team.  But as we prepared to move, the team showed up.  Our buddies spent hours up to their knees in newsprint paper, wrapping our belongings and piling our lives into brown cardboard boxes destined for Florida.

Over the five previous winters, while visiting Florida, Jim and I had explored different cities and towns.  We had fallen in love with Dunedin–pronounced Done Eden– a town that reminded us of our Village of Barrington.  Dunedin regularly has public activities in the center of town.  Art shows, Farmer’s Markets, Vintage furniture sales.  There lots of fun restaurants, antique stores, and interesting shops.  It is on the Gulf of Mexico and oozes old Florida charm.

The Pinellas Trail runs through the heart of town.  The Trail stretches thirty-eight miles from St. Petersburg north to Tarpon Springs, connecting several county parks, coastal areas, and communities and is a popular destination for bikers and walkers.

So we drew a circle around Dunedin and went to work finding a VRBO to stay in while we hunted for a house.  Our belongings were destined for a Uhaul storage unit.  The day we actually climbed into our cars to leave Grove Avenue was bittersweet.  I wept hugging Brookie and Earl, Judy and Chuck, Doug and Charki.

Jim drove my little green car, Maude the Mini-Cooper.  Bronson and I followed in Jim’s silver SUV.  Several days later we arrived at our temporary home on Rowena Drive, Dunedin.  It was raining.

Actually, it was a deluge.  Think Noah and the arc. That’s how it pours during Florida’s long hot, humid, wet summers.

We spent two miserable months in that rabbit warren of a funky old home. The Rowena house must have started out as a tiny one bedroom, one bath.  But over many years it had been added onto willy-nilly, with no thought for flow.  For the first week, I was constantly getting lost.  Where is the kitchen again?

Every day the skies turned black, thunder shook the glass in windows, lighting streaked through the heavens and rain pelted the house in never-ending sheets.  There was no covered outdoor seating area.  We were trapped in a dark, dank, confusing home.  Living without our belongings, not knowing a soul except Cyndee, our realtor.

Plus it quickly became clear we were not going to find a home within walking distance to downtown.  I wanted to be on Scotland or Aberdeen Streets.  But nothing with our desired specifications was available in our price range.  It would have meant buying another little old fixer upper.  Neither of us was up for that again.

As tropical storms splashed down on Rowena, I spent sleepless nights on the computer hunting for a house.  I cried a lot.  I worried incessantly.  I wanted my old life back.  I became more and more convinced moving had been a horrible mistake. I tried to buck up, telling myself, “Alice, if you cut your hair, you can’t wear braids. Move forward.”  But it broke my heart that my beloved braids were no longer an option.

Our search needed to be widened.  Giving up the dream of downtown Dunedin was a painful pill to swallow. Previously, I’d spent too many years tethered to a car.  I had loved the freedom of our village, walking to the library, Cook Street Coffee Shop, Wool Street Restaurant.  We were two blocks from the train to Chicago.  What now?  So many long rainy days were spent in regret.

Jim, my mellow fellow, met my moans and tears with patience, repeating his mantra, “Don’t churn, we’ll get there.”

Ultimately we found a home with everything on our wish list except walks to town.  After our closing, when the house was ours, we drove from the rabbit warren on Rowena to Palm Harbor.  We sat on the back patio, under wide covered roof,  rocking in white wicker chairs left by former owners.  We watched the never-ending rain.  We marveled, “This is our home.  This is where we’ll build our lives.”

I’ve realized God didn’t intend for me to be in downtown Dunedin, he intended for me to be in a suburban neighborhood in East Lake, Palm Harbor.

So here we are, and here we’ve been for four happy years.  We’ve made fabulous new friends.  Across the street, neighbors have invited us to be part of their loving family.  Another fun couple takes us out of our comfort zone by initiating interesting activities.  Jim has numerous golf buddies.  A new friend and I formed a book club. We meet monthly and have interesting conversation fueled by good novels, good food, good wine.  I am a regular member of a Bunko group.  I was honored to be invited since Bunko is a  game of true skill!

We still see Brookie and Earl when they winter here, plus we visit on our trips north.   Charki and Doug retired and bought a home forty-five minutes away in downtown St. Petersburg.  Judy and Chuck visit every winter and we make sure to see them in August when we are in Chicago.

Our impulsive move to Dunedin didn’t pan out as I assumed it would.  And that’s good because our lives are even richer than expected.

 

 

Meditation on my Horse

 

In March I began to meditate regularly.  I sit in one of two places.  The big red chair on the patio, or the tan swivel chair in the family room.  I glance at the clock before taking a long deep breath and closing my eyes. There are no hard and fast rules how long I will stay put.  But it’s interesting to note that as months have passed I’m able to empty my mind far more easily and remain sitting breathing for greater periods of time.

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Natalie Goldberg in her terrific book Writing Down the Bones refers to the crazy that wants to usurp serenity as “monkey mind.”  Mine is “small-brown-hamster-on-the-wheel” mind.  When I first began the practice of mediation that rodent on the wheel inside my skull stubbornly refused to stop running.  Now she is readily lulled to sleep as I gently inhale and exhale.

My breathing gives way to talking to God.  I have had different versions of God in my mind.  In March I described God as a “benevolent force.”  Now my God is a horse.  A tall shiny chestnut with a white star between her eyes.  I ride in an easy chair saddle with wide armrests and a soft back.  The fabric feels like velveteen.  Very sensual my saddle.  Sometimes there is a sunshade attached to the chair.

Occasionally God Horse pauses to graze or drink from streams.  That’s when I reach into the magic side saddle that comes up with daily cream cheese sandwiches on gluten free bread.  Plus single serving size bottles of Pinot Noir.  God Horse and I happily relax and fuel ourselves.

God Horse has no bridle or reins.  She rambles at will.  When she stops, looks over her shoulder and nickers a bit, I know I’m supposed to dismount.  There is something here God Horse intends me to do.

Curiously my easy chair saddle disappears when I get down.  Dismounts are done from a bareback God Horse.  I slide down her wide flanks, land lightly, lean into her neck and smell her fine horsey scent.  What I do in each place varies.  I do what she intends until she signals it’s time to move on.  She paws the ground with her right hoof and gives a little whinny.  Our work here is done, she’s telling me.  I mount again, my chair is back.  Off we go.  Today she wandered through a small clear mountain stream.

Once we ended up in a rushing river.  I had to hold tightly to her mane and trust she would get us both safely to dry land.  I talk to her.  She never speaks back, she simply keeps wandering.  It feels random to me.  I suspect she knows exactly where she is headed. I love giving the power over to God Horse.  It frees me up to look around, take in the details.  I notice squirrels bustling in oak trees, sun reflecting off rippling water, the scent of distant rain.

When at last I bend over and wrap my arms around her neck, I know it’s time to leave her, stop my meditation, open my eyes and start my day.  All this happens without ever leaving my red or tan chairs. Once I open my eyes it takes a moment for me to orient myself.  My limbs are heavy, my mind at peace.

Oddly enough, even after the meditation ends, God Horse seems present for the rest of the day.  Since beginning the wonderful meditation journey my former habit of worrying has ceased to exist.  I have absolute faith all will go as it is intended to go.  Lovely to drop the reins, ride along and enjoy the abundance that is my life.

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The Power of Positive Thinking — Awaken and Breathe

Today is Saturday.  On the weekends I let other bloggers do my talking so I can sit on my wide backside and read books.  I like what this blogger had to say about Positive Thinking.  Enough outta’ me.  Time to go back to my current read “Bird by Bird.”

Positive thoughts are empowering. They make you feel good. Sometimes, however, that’s easier said than done. Negative thoughts have a nasty habit of sinking their teeth into our brains and it can be challenging to fight them. Negative cycles It is easy to get trapped in a cycle of negative thinking. If you are unhappy […]

via The Power of Positive Thinking — Awaken and Breathe

Passion for Words

My positive thinking reading reveals that what we are most passionate about, is our true purpose.  When we are truly absorbed, unable to “put-it-down”, we are experiencing the life our higher power intended.

I’ve been absorbed by writing since childhood.  However, I wavered and therefore became an artist.  The reason I abandoned my dream can be found on this former blog post At sixty-five I’ve embraced the power of positive thinking.

Instead of writing, I created two-dimensional art.  I peddled my art for money.

My first art-for-money-peddling experience was when my son Matt was an infant.  I wished to buy my then husband a gift.  I wanted that gift not to be bought with “his” money.  My goal was to earn enough, on my own, to purchase something he might relish.

I drew black and white pencil and ink sketches of wildlife.  With my baby on my back, I headed out to hawk my drawings.  I found several places willing to buy my work.  Then I found one gallery owner willing to barter. I traded several drawings for a large print of two duck decoys.  My then husband loved duck paintings.

Later I was able to gift him a set of golf clubs by bartering with a Wilson representative. I traded a large watercolor painting of Lafayette’s Headquarters in Chadds Ford Pennsylvania for those irons, wedges, and woods.

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I painted on pretty much every possible surface simply to make money. I painted on glassware for my store Whimsical Rose.  I painted on walls, I painted a portrait (Ed O’Bradovich, Dan Hampton and a roll of Duct Tape).  But painting was never my passion.  Painting never sucked me in, inducing me to lose whole days enthralled by brushing color on canvas.

Long ago God lit a fire under me to write.  I’m unsure exactly what he wants me to say.  But I’ll just keep writing.  Posting my posts.  Dreaming my dreams and manifesting a life as a writer.

I just ordered Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones.  I read it years ago.  It was extremely inspiring.  Back then, however, I was a painter.  Not now.  Now I’m a writer.  And this writer intends to reread and be inspired once again.

Introducing Bronson, our dog trained in the Colorado Men’s Penitentiary

In 2007, after my naughty black Lab Riley died, Jim and I made the decision to adopt another dog. This would be the first pet we chose together. I came to the marriage with Riley and Puck, the adorable but messy Cockatiel.  Jim brought Missy, the gray and white cat into the mix.

My sister and brother-in-law, Marilyn and Rob, had recently adopted a little black poodle named Marcel. They got him through the Colorado Prison System canine program. Dogs are placed with inmates for obedience training. Marcel was schooled in the women’s penitentiary. Marilyn and Rob didn’t hear that animal bark for nearly a year. Barking is extinguished in the prison by squirting the offender with a mixture of vinegar and water.

The program is amazing.  The animals live in crates with their inmate trainers.  Prison cells are small.  Beds of inmates training large dogs are raised high enough to accommodate crates underneath.  The animals go to class all morning long, in the afternoon they play and socialize with other dogs.

After learning about the program I immediately went to the CCI Colorado Prison Dog  website and began the process of falling in love with every dog on the list. Except for Chihuahuas. My high school friend Nora had a wee teeny evil ankle biting Chihuahua named Cha Cha. Getting past Cha Cha without being nipped was darn near impossible.

I ear-marked all the prison dogs as potential pets.   Jim fell for only one.  A small, sad-looking, slumped over brown lab mix named Bronson. We were told Bronson was rescued from an abusive situation. He was being trained in the men’s penitentiary by inmate Terrance. We coordinated with the program to meet Bronson, and secure my very first well-trained dog.

Very early one cold March morning we flew to Colorado. Marilyn, Rob, and Marcel met us at the airport and drove us to the parking lot outside the nearby women’s penitentiary.  Animals trained in the men’s penitentiary were brought there because the men’s prison is far from the airport.

We arrived to find scads of dogs and oceans of prospective owners.  Again, I fell for each and every animal.  Jim still had eyes only for Bronson.  However, another family was circling Bronson as their prospective pet.  My marvelous cunning sister sidled up to the mother and stated, “Oh my goodness!  It looks like your little boy is afraid of that dog.”  The mother, “What?  Really?  I didn’t notice….”  Marilyn, “Well you know your child better than I do.  But I’m pretty sure he is frightened by that animal.”

The family moved on to another dog, Serena.  Serena had the legs of a corgi, snout of a shepherd, body of a dachshund.  She sprouted long white stiff whiskers all over her chin.   Jim said she looked like a science experiment gone wrong.

We happily adopted Bronson.  After an animal was chosen the new owners were directed into the penitentiary.  We were ushered past concertina-wired fences, relinquished our belongings, and were led to an enormous chamber.  Seated in folding chairs we watched the dogs perform perfect obedience skills.

Before we left Bronson was bathed.  We then took him to a local veterinarian to certify his health.  Finally, after a long day, we were back to the airport.  Bronson, in a crate formerly used by M and R’s Aussie, was housed under the plane

Late that night we arrived at O’Hare.  We stumbled around baggage claim unable to find our sad little prison puppy.  When we finally located him, far from the area we were told to look, he was trembling and frothing at the mouth.  Poor puppy.  Ever since that experience Bronson loathes being cooped up.  Anywhere. At all.  Up to and including hotel rooms.  More on that in a future post.

Bronson is the light of our lives.  He and I play football daily.  I am quarterback and commentator. Bronson is the wide receiver.  Jim is the fan.  I whisper the play into Bronson’s floppy ear and toss the ball into our kitchen.  Bronson snatches the ball, races to the dining room, around the dining table.  If he zooms past the small green living room bench it’s a TOUCHDOWN!  Another run past the leopard upholstered dining chair and he gets the two point conversion.

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Yes, that’s me in the huge mirror.  No, I haven’t combed my hair.  No, I don’t have make-up on. Yes, I’m letting myself go.  So just shut up.

 

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One spin past that leopard chair, following a run around the green bench, and the kid scores two extra points.  He really is Super Bowl awesome.

He’s an old boy now.  He goes to bed early and sleeps late.  His breakfast is a concoction of bran cereal, kibble and psyllium husk powder.  Plus a bowl of ice water.  At five thirty each evening Jim takes him around the block while I fix his dinner–a repeat of breakfast.

About five doors down the street Jim calls me to let me know Bronson is on the way.  He then sends wonder dog to sprint home.  I open the front door and wait for him to rush by me straight to his dinner bowl and ice water.

This is our last dog.  I know we would forever compare others to Bronson.  We tell him he’s only four years old in hopes he believes and lives for decades.

It’s 9:15 in the morning. Bronson woke up long enough to do his morning business.  Then he toddled back to the bedroom where he and Jim are still deep in the feathers.

They are both good at retirement.

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Breathe and Believe

Every positive thinking tome I read assures me the New Reality I want, already exists.  My New Reality is to be a published author, making enough money to donate to a cause that has recently become dear to my heart.  I am to state my New Reality as if it is here, now, in the present tense.

I just finished meditating.  My recent mantra is, “Breathe and Believe.”  Upon opening my eyes I realized how many things in my life existed long before I realized they did.  The house I now live in, built in 1980’s, has been sitting here on its little patch of coarse Floridian grass since my children were in kindergarten.  My sweet husband existed, walking around on the planet, hurtling toward my life long before I was aware of him.

My New Reality, published author earning lots of cold hard cash, is out there–floating in my future, real, concrete, as solid as the walls of this house.  I simply have to breathe it, believe it, and take the steps necessary to attract it.

My current read, Laura Dey’s The Circle, includes a workbook.  Today’s exercise was to become aware of patterns in my life that do not serve me in my New Reality.  Each day I am to pick one pattern and replace it with a thought or action I consciously choose that supports my New Reality,  Everything I do is conscious and empowering.

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A habit I need to change:  I waste too much time looking at internet grack.  Checking if Kate Middleton is pregnant doesn’t support my New Reality.  Further, I don’t need to see Stephen Colbert’s monologue every morning or make myself nuts looking at the daily political bombshells.

In writing, I pledged not to play around on the internet until after 5 p.m.  I am, of course, allowed to write blog posts.  Those support my New Reality. As I wrote these things in my Circle workbook, I found myself on the edge of a panic attack.  I was mentally taken back to the day I finally quit smoking.

I was twenty-two years old.  I had been smoking since I was sixteen.  I smoked like I was being paid to do it.  Chain smoking, over three packs a day.  If I ran out of cigarettes I plundered the full ashtrays, finding butts that could be coaxed back to life for a moment or two.

I smoked while I put on my make-up.  I smoked while driving.  I smoked during meals.  I simply could not imagine how to function in the world without a burning stick of tobacco between my lips.

That’s the feeling I have at the prospect of limiting my internet addiction.  But this dependency doesn’t support my New Reality.   I vow to replace the internet habit with a new ritual.  Each time I’m tempted to click on Facebook, I will imagine a fresh idea for my blog.  Or say a gratitude prayer.  Or focus on the editor who is actually alive somewhere in this real world today. She is a living breathing reality.  Sitting at a desk, doing whatever editors do all day.  She is my friend.  (yes, I’m to state these things as if they are here and now.)

(Eeeek!  I just considered checking out youtube.  No Alice.  That is no longer your ritual. You can do this, Alice.  Just breathe and believe.)

The Circle

 

Walking a Marathon. A painful, enlightening experience. If you can endure a marathon, you can endure anything.

In the early 90’s three friends and I signed up to walk the Chicago Marathon. The only walkers permitted were required to fundraise for juvenile leukemia research.  I have referenced bits of this experience in my blog post of April, 04. Click here if interested.

Preparing for the marathon meant grueling months of walking mile after painful mile.  Three of us, Gray, Mo and I, would rise before the sun to begin trudging through our neighborhood.  The fourth walker, Carol, usually trained alone.  I asked her how she kept boredom at bay.   She said she recited the prayers repeated when praying the rosary.  I’m not Catholic, so I just looked up what is repeated doing rosary beads.  It seems there are enough entreaties to fill several marathon walks.

When we were training for the Marathon, I was suffering from anemia caused by undiagnosed celiac sprue.  Chronically exhausted, I wasn’t fit to walk a marathon.  Gray, one of the most forthright women I’ve ever known, stated firmly, “Alice if you aren’t able to keep up, do not to expect the rest of us to slow down and assist you.”

The night prior to the Marathon we stayed in the city.  We rose before dawn to begin walking. We marched the first few miles in the dark. Finally, the sun rose over Lake Michigan, gloriously painting the sky crimson, pink and orange.

Shortly thereafter a herd of gazelle-like runners thundered past us.  They had long, lean, muscled legs, minuscule butts, and rippling abs.  I turned to Gray and asked, “If we run, instead of walking, will we look like them?”  She laughed and replied, “Those are the elite runners.  Those athletes run in marathons all over the world.”

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Next passed a group of good runners.  They weren’t as sleek as gazelles, but they were strong, toned, comfortable with their pace.

We were overtaken by many levels of racers that day.  The good were followed by the mediocre.  Eventually, we were confronted with hopefuls vomiting into the gutters.  Taking on a marathon isn’t for sissies.

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The most inspiring runners weren’t runners at all.  They were the wheelchair division.  Men and women with withered legs, propelling themselves ever forward by the strength of their good arms.

We saw them on slight inclines.  The temptation was to help.  But helping would be to diminish them.  They needed to succeed on their own terms, with their own hearts, pushing through the misery, accomplishing it alone.

I so clearly remember one particular wheelchair “runner.”  He had two useless legs, one dwindled arm.  Yet he soldiered on.  He was the picture of courage, determined to push himself over the finish line.

I too needed to cross that finish line without assistance.  Nearing the last mile I remembered Gray’s words,  “Alice if you are unable to keep up, do not to expect the rest of us to slow down for you.” And suddenly I grew astonishing resolve.  I gathered my soul together and willed myself to cross the finish line inches before Gray.

I, like all Marathon finishers crossing the finish line, was wrapped in a sheet of mylar.  A medal was hung around my neck.

In agony, I hobbled to the curb.  There, on the same Chicago corner, draped with mylar, was the man with no legs and only one arm.   He had reached the finish line before I did.  I can picture his slumped shoulders, heaving with sobs.  He accomplished the impossible. With merely one withered arm and a heart full of belief, he crossed the Chicago Marathon finish line.

That withered man didn’t, on the surface, have the skill set to prevail. Yet he did. He did because he believed he could.  Anything can be accomplished if we have faith.

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Another reason being sixty-five is great

Being old is terrific because I no longer care what anyone thinks. Sometimes I go entire days...(drum-roll please) WITHOUT WEARING MAKEUP!  

Red heads have no natural color. Well….I guess we do. White on white. No color in our eyebrows.  No color in our lashes.  Our only visible hues are freckles and the hair on our heads.  If we didn’t have freckles and hair we wouldn’t be visible in a snowstorm.

I started wearing make-up in 10th grade.  I carried my cosmetics in a small, square, white case. It had a handle on top and a mirror in the lid.  I would sit at the kitchen table, morning light streaming in the back windows, and apply my eyes.  When I finished Mother would often say, “Now you should sign your chin.”

My high school boyfriend once asked, “Why bother wearing makeup?  You don’t need it at all”  The following date I met him at the door, bare-faced and smiling.  He took one long look and stated, “I was wrong.  You need make-up.” (have I mentioned he was a terrible first boyfriend?)

My sweet husband tells me all the time I’m pretty without it.  He’s lying and I love him for it.  I am sixty-five.  Even on my best day, wearing professionally applied war-paint, I’m passable at best.  At sixty-five passable is just fine.

Now that I’m old I sometimes skip putting on a face! That saves 10 minutes of my life for other stuff….like sitting on my ass and reading. Or coloring. Coloring is a delicious pastime.

If I added up all the time spent smearing on a face I’d have decades. I’d likely also have no husband.
Guys tend to like women with visible faces. However, once they are nabbed one can let themselves go!  Yay for being old.

Hey you people, start reading my blog. I know you’re out there.

As a reward for “following” me, perhaps I’ll post a photo of me without makeup! (NOT!)

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This is my drawer full of war paint.
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The oceans of brushes I have for applying war paint.  I probably only use about three, but they are old friends.  I give them a shampoo bath about once a month and they repay the favor by manifesting a face on my head (almost) every day.