Last Dip, Large Tip

I don’t like to swim in cold water at the best of times, but will do it if I know I’m going to be snorkeling and seeing amazing tropical fish.  To suddenly be in Osoyoos Lake on the Labour Day weekend was an unexpected last dip for the season.  And if I may be totally honest with you, the only dip of the season as swimming in the lake holds zero appeal.

Luke bought himself a really adorable older motor boat, and he’s very proud of it and wanted to show it off.  Our friends Jim and Fede were in Osoyoos visiting mom over the weekend, so when I showed up Luke talked the three of us into taking a boat ride with him.  I fought it long and hard saying it wasn’t a hot day, the lake wasn’t calm enough, but in the end he forced his hand.

We hauled the boat to a launch area down near the Inkaneep Lodge Motel, and Fede and I got into the boat on the shore, and Luke pushed it out and hopped in.  Jim then drove the truck and trailer back to mom’s property and walked down to the lake where Luke said we’d pick him up.

Luke could only get within several metres of shore so Jim had to wade out and he’s one of these hilarious people whose feet are obviously made of paper as the rocks were killing him every step of the way.  Finally he was about waist deep and able to clamber into the boat and we took off across the lake at a high rate of speed.

Because of the waves the boat did that womp womp womp thing but nonetheless it wasn’t cold so we enjoyed looking around at the scenery.  We arrived at a sandy beach across the lake which was pretty busy with tourists and their very fancy expensive boats and a lot of gals with long blonde hair, tans, and thong bathing suits.

Once tired of it all we returned to mom’s lakeshore lot and Luke said okay mom you have to hop out.  I said hop out?  Into the lake?  I was wearing a bra, underpants, capri shorts, a blouse and sandals.  This was the place where Jim had waded out to, so I knew it would be around waist deep for me.

I said oh crap, and took off my blouse and shorts, and then handed my sandals to Jim who was already in the lake.  I said “sorry about this underwear I would’ve worn a really good pair had I known” and hopped into the lake, and sure enough it was waist deep.  I waded to shore and ran to mom’s with my waded up clothing in my hands, shoes in the other.

Way more fun ensued as we all went to the French restaurant Convivia in Osoyoos.  It was one of those crazy nights whereby everyone was in high spirits, so a lot of drinks were ordered.  Cosmopolitans, White Russians, Caesars, Margaritas, a bottle of wine, more rounds of the same cocktails.

It was super busy so we ordered two platters of calamari and then Jim said let’s get escargot too, so we said hell why not.  Then came our food, and mine was steak frites, the fries cooked in duck fat.  Everyone reported their food as good.

Naturally Spanish Coffees were needed all around afterward and then mom handed me her purse and credit card and I looked at the bill but kept a neutral look on my face: $450.  Tip at 20% and you’ve got yourself one helluva nice restaurant bill.

Knee Hell Teaches me a Lesson

You’ll recall I ended my last blog with a lament about a painful knee.  This has now gone on since and it’s really making me mad, though just like the pandemic, in some ways I have to admit it’s been wonderful.  Sometimes it takes a major event to slap you across the face and wake you up.

Because of the stabbing pain in my inner knee I’ve had to withdraw from life given everything, especially driving, has been too painful.  As a result I had to find something to do, other than haunt the local thrift stores looking for treasures.  Thanks to prior thrift shopping I have a library at home, so I thought, hey, I’ll read.

Well.  Once I started it was hard to stop and now I’ve read several excellent memoirs and learned something valuable at the same time.  I don’t need to be doing something all of the time, and it’s actually okay and morally correct to spend days and even weeks doing very little. Or is that the lazy person’s guide to excusing your laziness?

I like watching survival documentaries on You Tube and saw one about a guy who was stranded on a log in a marsh, unable to get to his anchored boat.  He had no shelter so cursed the terrible winds and rain that would torture him day and night.  Because of the rain he had water as the marsh was salty.

But due to the wind the boat was torn loose and disappeared, and so of course he was in deep despair the morning he realized it.  However, because of that his boat was found by the Coast Guard who soon started a search and rescued him.  He said the wind and rain, which were his enemies, turned out to be his salvation.  Not that knee pain makes anyone say hallelujah, but the slowing-down does feel nice at times.

You know how we wait all winter for a lovely summer?  I used to love summers but now I long for the other three seasons as the forest fire smoke and heat, plus the incessant garden watering are getting tiresome.  I’ll take Kelowna over Kabul any day, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve made such a mess of the environment that summers are basically ruined.

And speaking of watering, I guess people in this neighbourhood have been getting some whopping bills now that the area’s been put on water meters.  My electricity bill scared me a bit as it’s now up a hundred a month for the pump that runs the well, so no matter what you do, you pay and pay and pay.

Another thing that I dislike about summer is the shape of the male cat’s coat due to his hunting.  His throat was one big scab which is now healing, and he has smaller scabs on his back, I guess all from his nest-raiding.  Because Frieda’s such a dirty little dog she loves to nibble at George’s scabs and the cat loves it, purring away.

My friend Patricia was over for lunch last month and of course Iris the female cat decided it’d be so amusing to jump onto the table.  I had to do that ‘oh my God, the cat never, ever does that’ routine, though she didn’t fall for it.  Living with animals is a dirty business, for sure.

Modular Home coming to Osoyoos

It’s that time of year when I have bouquets of my gigantic dahlia blooms about, and that’s good as I need something calming upon which to focus.  God knows I faithfully do my yoga every morning, and this always involves mindful breathing, but sometimes one has to go beyond yoga and flowers for inner peace.

Why?  Because mom, Luke and Jan are currently cohabiting and it’s going to end in some kind of a Waco Texas event if we’re not careful.  There could be mayhem and then the police will have to be called in to break it all up. Remember when we all went hey, that’s so great Luke’s going to live with his 96-year-old gramma?

A brilliant solution came which involved putting a nice little modular home on mom’s property, then Luke and Jan could live there, caretaking from a few meters away rather than right in the house.  I began the process of attaining a building permit in February.

I got the building permit checklist and felt my blood run cold as I’ve never done this before and checklists that involve words like “Effective thermal resistance compliance method” with boxes for me to check.  Huh?  I knew I needed help, and was fortunate to get it all along the way.

Finally everything in the checklist was done, and it was somewhat more onerous given mom lives in the Regional District, not the town, yet I had to also go to the Town of Osoyoos for permits for water and sewer hook-up as they provide that along mom’s road. Then as the lot is still in the Agriculture Land Reserve, it had to be less than 1000 square feet and had to be a specific kind of modular home.

On June 21st I drove to Penticton with my completed application and just as I was about to go in a man walked ahead of me, so was next at the desk, and I had to wait.  He was on a rant about how no one had told him he needed some specific thing, and now four or six weeks later he found out so was this far behind in his building project.  They calmly explained to him all he had to do was call or look at their site, so he left in a huff.

I was scared as I walked up to them as I thought dear God, I must’ve forgotten something too, but no.  Each department came out and gave it a once-over and said yes indeed, it’s all good to go into the queue, and we’ll let you know in six to eight weeks’ time if you got a permit or not.

Last week I got an e mail saying yes indeed, I got it, so now we wait as Lakeridge Homes said due to supply delays thanks to Covid it won’t come until December 22nd! Hence the double Caesars followed by the double Margaritas as we wait, hopefully without incident.

The ligaments around my knees have been acting up and I have no idea what I’m doing to cause that, but for the last three days the pain has been extreme which is so annoying.  Saturday night I was in Osoyoos and I think I might’ve finally fallen asleep at 4:00 due to the knee pain, then imagine my annoyance to have Frieda’s wet cold nose pressed onto my closed eye at 6:00 AM.

Another excellent reason for self-medication with tequila, though I had to resort to Tylenols 3’s last night as the pain is akin to a screwdriver being stabbed into the inner part of my left knee.  Oh well, into every life a little rain must fall.

An Awful Lot of Restaurants

It was my birthday July 13th, and even though a very unimportant number, I seem to have had an awful lot of celebrations.  It began with Margaret taking me out to the Orchard Room which is a Mexican restaurant though one wouldn’t guess that from the name.

They make an interesting browned butter banana infused rum daiquiri that Margaret and I both loved.  One thing I like are two-ounce drinks, as otherwise how do you know for sure you’re drinking any alcohol?  These were, and I can vouch for both the strength and deliciousness.

This was followed by a Happy Hour invitation from Kathy to the Cactus Club, then a dinner with The Crones at the Eldorado, courtesy of Donna which was insane as the Eldorado doesn’t mind charging $43 a plate for an entrée.

I hadn’t seen my friend Lorraine in ages, so she and I met at Earls for their Happy Hour and it was also lovely with Margaritas and chicken tacos.  Sadly, they opt for the 1.5- ounce cocktail but one has to compromise at times.  I still think Earls is one of the nicest venues in Kelowna as you overlook the lake.

Last weekend Margaret and I went to the Famoso Pizzeria and Bar and had their fettuccine Alfredo which was nice.  The next day Marie took me to Milestones for lunch where we both horked down burgers and fries, and as it was supposedly my birthday (long gone, but it was my celebratory lunch with Marie) I got a complimentary piece of chocolate ganache torte which we shared but were still too full.

You’d think well, that should satisfy the woman for a while, but no, as I believe tomorrow Kathy and I plan to go to Smack Dab.  How this will all end weight-wise is anyone’s guess. 

I had an interesting learning experience today, as my built-in vacuum stopped working and I had to call the repairman.  He pointed out the amount of white powdery diatomaceous earth spread out in the basement to prevent ants could be the cause of the pooched motor. 

Not sure if I mentioned this but Nicky’s partner has a phobia about ants, so the basement had to be sealed with tape, silicone, and then surrounded by mounds of this white powder.  I guess when it enters a motor it will seize.

The repairman had to turn off the power to the house as he didn’t know which breaker went to the vacuum, and as I was in the midst of washing dishes, I turned on the tap but no water.  Then I went oh of course, with the well, it requires a pump and that requires electricity.  This naturally made my blood run cold as I thought what if there’s a fire and the power is turned off; I won’t have any water.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  Now I can water at will, but if there’s no power then I can’t water at all.  It’s funny the kinds of things you never think of until you’re right in the midst of it.

Pretty Much Ga Ga With Anticipation

I’m so proud of Nick as he bought a house in Grand Forks and will be moving in about ten days!  I’m just amazed at the amount of changes I’ve endured in 2021.  First Luke and Jan moved in with mom in Osoyoos, then Denis sold his house and moved to Midway, and now Nick and family off to Grand Forks.

Dare I think it?  I might be done with parenting just a hair short of 32 years.  All family will now reside a couple of hours away in Osoyoos and Boundary country, also known as the Kettle Valley.  All three towns lie on the same latitude so will be very hot in the summer, especially for Nick with no air conditioning in their 70-year-old house.

I on the other hand will be wondering what the heck life is all about as I’m on my own for the first time in several decades.  As I type I’ve put whitening strips on my teeth so perhaps will decide to immerse myself in useless nonsense for the foreseeable future.

Carl the handyman is outside replacing the cement and bricks that got torn out for the electrical lines from the well to the pump installed in the basement.  It was quite amusing for the first few days as when I stood near the electrical panel I could hear frying sounds coming from it.

I phoned the electrician who said frying sounds weren’t good, and he had to come and upgrade my electrical panel.  I wasn’t surprised, given absolutely anything and everything that could break has gone ahead and done so.

My friend Beverly and her pug Charlie came for a visit during the heat dome and it nearly killed the dog.  That breed is designed to have no breathing apparatus whatsoever, and they appear unable to open their mouths very wide, so he was gasping for every bit of air he could get into his system.  It’s a curious thing the American Kennel Club and their penchant for what’s “standard” in a particular breed.

I invited Margaret and the basement dwellers for dinner while Bev was here and made butter chicken which everyone ate with great joy.  The next night for something completely different I made traditional Wiener Schnitzel for the two of us.

Thanks to having the well I can water whenever I see the need for it, and I notice my neighbourhood has now gone to brown lawns.  People used to water, but now with meters I think it’s just not worth it.   I on the other hand can’t stand a brown lawn, so mine is doing pretty well although in the Okanagan keeping anything green is a challenge.

I don’t espouse wasting water on something like a lawn, however I’m adverse to having the whole place burn down so prefer having some moisture about, especially as the place is ringed with tall Ponderosa pines.  The ground underneath them is thick with pine needles so you can use your imagination.

I got out a couple of Tupperware containers and thought I’d better pack just essentials in case of sudden fire evacuation, then went berserk trying to decide what I’d actually want to save.  I know I need my laptop, passport and accordion file of paperwork, but other than that, what do I “need”?  As a result I just gave up entirely and decided to leave it to the fates.

A lot of Projects on Hall Road

As I type the asphalt’s being repaired on the driveway.  There was a wide strip removed for the electrical to the well’s pump and that was a mess to drive over.  Last week the nice people of Redline Bobcat came to re-do my upper driveway in crush, and then level the lower garden area and remove the gigantic rocks.

Then I casually went and took a water sample in and imagine my surprise to have areas of their report in red such as the coliform count!  I of course have been drinking great gobs of the neighbours’ urine and feces thinking my, this water tastes to so good.  Now I know why. 

I was contacted by a super nice neighbour who told me to shock the well, then have the water re-tested.  This just means pouring bleach into the well and pumping a hose in and letting the water run for three hours.  Then back to the lab for more testing, and if it’s still not clean, get a reverse osmosis device or UV filter.  It’ll work, it just takes research, time and money.

Last week was particularly hilarious as I decided to browse Value Village for a bit of R and R.  I came home to Nicky carrying wet towels out onto the deck railing, saying “the hot water tank finally packed it in.  Oh yeah, and the Internet’s not working, too.”

Apparently a Shaw technician had come along and turned off our Internet, then drove off.  I spent the rest of that day on hold, then arguing with various people as to why I can’t wait one week for my Internet to be turned back on.  As soon as the first person suggested that I demanded a supervisor.

The supervisor did the “I’m really sorry about that” thing, and I replied “I don’t see how that’s will help, so let’s just brainstorm the ways I might get the Internet back immediately.”  For some reason, this being a communication company, they couldn’t comprehend that by turning off my Internet, they turned off my landline, and I don’t have a cell phone.

I used Nicky or Ayumi’s cell phones for my calls to Shaw, but they’re about to move, so what do I do then, walk to a neighbour to call 911?  No matter what, Shaw just couldn’t fully understand when I said I was a senior living on my own, with no ability to call 911.  They were all like, wow, sorry about that.

Finally by noon the next day someone at Shaw Cable seemed to comprehend I needed a phone, so they returned and restored my Internet.  They had turned it off due do people complaining of “noise in the line.”  I said but why not tell the homeowner you’re doing that?  What a strange company.

Then this is the hilarious part, but I’d asked for a supervisor to call me back about not having a phone.  Once the Internet was restored I checked messages and saw someone from Shaw had left one on the phone which wasn’t working!  Can you picture that? 

There’s likely a small animal trapped under the steps outside as the dachshunds have been barking there for the past three hours, so that’s been a good distraction from the asphalt truck.  Not so great for the neighbours though.

House built on Sand

I had no idea this entire hill on which my house is built, is sand.  The company came on Thursday morning to begin the process of hooking the well to pipes which would then connect to the house.  When I saw the size of the excavator I grabbed both dogs and got into my car and drove to Osoyoos for the night.

This was Frieda’s first trip to Osoyoos as I couldn’t trust her prior to now, however it was an emergency because I couldn’t leave the dogs to Nicky given the mayhem going on in the yard.  She sat on my lap, trembling and panting the entire way, and Louie slept in his dog bed on the passenger seat, a seasoned veteran.

When we arrived Louie leapt out with joy as he hasn’t been since I got Frieda last year in April, and he was even more overjoyed to find both Luke and Jan living there.  Frieda did some of her usual stunts such as pretending she had no idea how to come up the steps from the yard but by Friday she was using the stairs like a pro.

On Friday I gave myself a good pep talk when we got onto Hall Road as I said to myself you know you wanted this, it will be bad but don’t freak out, maybe it won’t even be that bad, maybe I shouldn’t go home.  Oh dear God was basically what I said out loud as I rounded the top of the driveway and hit the thick sand.

You’d think you were on a beach in Hawaii.  I parked the car and looked open-mouthed at what remains of my driveway.  The red bricks outside the basement kitchen window were removed.  One irrigation pipe got torn in half and there’s a hole the size of a Volkswagen beetle in my lower yard.  Giant boulders are strewn throughout the sandy hill and all Oregon grape’s been scraped off.

But ya know, just like the first time you see someone with a burned face it’s scary, then the second time, not so bad, and pretty soon you look at that person and forget all about the scars.  And I have to say I’m watering away, ignoring the driveway, dragging the hose around acting like all’s normal, and it kind of is.

It’s not the first time I’ve ordered a project and then wondered what in the name of God in Heaven I’ve done.  But I have a vision for Hall Road and it involves having my own water and as Luke said when you want to make an omelette you have to break a few eggs.  Indeed it seems I did that.

Other hilarity, though much smaller, has ensued.  About a month ago I got a new stove delivered from Home Depot, and the other day I decided to bake some cookies.  I opened the drawer of my new stove, and it was empty, and then I went oh right, your cookie sheets were all in the drawer of the old stove.  They were excellent quality heavy-duty sheets, so I was totally bummed out at myself.

To cheer myself up Elsa and I went out on a shopping spree but I said to her you know we have so many treasures from thrift, perhaps we can browse the Greenery for some plants.  I said I’d like to get a hosta.

They were nearly sold out of everything but had tons of succulents, and as Elsa explained, I needed them.  So I still didn’t get out of shopping and buying despite the new destination.

Rodents Galore

This morning I was awakened to the sound of Frieda vomiting onto the bed, so I got up and was pleased to see it was easy to pick it up as it was shaped exactly like a dog turd.  Nothing wet so that was lucky.

Then I went downstairs to feed the cats and saw the most enormous internal organ from a rat lying among a smear of blood.  It was quite sad as there were rat footprints in the blood as the poor animal fought for its life.  Fortunately, it’s a tile floor so I could pick up the organ with a paper towel and then throw a wet rag on the blood and use my foot to wipe, then throw everything into the garbage.

And so the day began.  I went to Home Hardware for a rake and hose, and stopped at Rick’s Garden World where I found some beautiful container-sized dahlias.  I came home and felt the urge to garden so headed out with the dogs.  I decided to start with the barberry bush that Kathy bought me as it needed something behind it, and that’s when I saw the large dead rat decaying in the garden bed.

I guess at times the cats eat the rats, but other times maybe they just beat them up, kill them, and leave them as some type of sign for the other rats.  I had to get a shovel and plastic bag and heave the carcass into that and then into the rodent-filled garbage can. I wonder where all of those damned rats live.

As you know Luke and Jan now live with mom in Osoyoos, so for Mother’s Day Jan made a delicious Thai soup and I made the main course of buffalo chicken wing lasagne and salad.  I made a four-layer chocolate cake for dessert.  All of it was eaten with a great deal of glee.

They seem to be settling in because it’s understandable it takes time for everyone to get used to each other’s peccadilloes.  I would be a poor candidate for any of that as witnessed by the cute little signs I bought for mom and myself, and which say My Way or The Highway with arrows pointing in opposite directions.

I wonder how long this will continue but I still don’t have the well hooked to my house. I suppose one day you’ll be reading hey guess what, I have well water.  But for now, stay tuned on the well project.

Awhile ago I was browsing the Hall Road Facebook page and noticed someone needed a job done, and another resident answered, you need to contact Carl Whitler.  I went hey, I need to contact him as I have a long list of things I need done around here.  I sent him a message and he came over and I said to him, so what can you do, and he replied, “everything.”

Imagine the joy!  We started with re-roofing my little shed, went to the installation of a range hood, and then onto the installation of blinds in my bedroom.  He’s currently working on replacing my rotten deck with some type of vinyl decking which I told him can only be done in small increments given the enormous cost of that product.

And so the joys and horrors of pet and home ownership continue on Hall Road, pretty much unchanged.

Well, well, well

As you’ll recall I had a well dug last November, and have been waiting for pipes to be connected to the house and irrigation ever since.  Finally I found a very nice company called Okanagan Well and Pump and a man came to look at the project last week.  As usual on my property, he did one of those tradesperson’s slow air exhalations through pursed lips.

He walked here and there.  I pointed at things.  He scratched his head.  Thought a bit.  Finally declared it wasn’t possible to hook up to the house, only the irrigation, and I said fine, I’ll take it.  But then we walked around a bit, and a bolt of inspiration hit him when he realized how he could hook the pipes to both the irrigation and the house.  I replied, “you’re a genius!”

I’ve given him the go-ahead and so soon there should be heavy equipment tearing up my property.  And I’m the person who tries to save every sprig of grass so you can imagine how trying this’ll be for my Buddhist self. 

And speaking of that, I have nice Gilles the landscaper tearing out the junipers from the front of my house.  I said to him, oh, um, the raccoons live there, and he replied they’d find another place to live, and added “I’ve taken your fire hazard rating from Extreme to Moderate.”  So what could I do?  Buh bye raccoons.

Then there’s Nicky and his incessant ant poisoning.  He runs around the property with a large can of Terro Diatomaceous Earth spreading a thick layer around the base of Ponderosa Pines.  It seems to be some kind of obsession, and so I just have to look the other way as it’s easy to go nuts around here.

While on the subject of mental illness, Luke and Jan have moved into mom’s house and I get calls and e mails from all of them now.  Mom wants the place tidy, and they have dumpsters full of possessions so she’s having a fit over that.  Luke wants to tear out the built-in cupboards in the basement bedroom to make more room for his computers and mom doesn’t want the house denuded.

Oh well.  I’m here in Kelowna a hundred miles away so I guess the three of them will settle into some type of a nice routine that doesn’t involve guns, ropes, knives or poison.  It’s just been three days so there’s going to be an adjustment period.

But for myself I have to say it’s wonderful to know mom’ll have someone there to help her as her vision really is the pits.  She said Luke likes to have dinner together every night so that’s a good thing for them to do as mom’s been quite sad with the lack of visitors due to the covid situation.

It’s been incredibly dry this spring and I’ve hooked up hoses and have been watering here and there, however today the irrigation company comes to turn on the water and troubleshoot any pipes that got clogged last season or burst over the winter.  Then imagine the joy this summer as I have well water for myself and the plants.  No more chlorine on them or inside us.

Which is so funny considering the pollution I cause to the bod from the booze.

Fifteen Years of Blogging

I’ve had the great pleasure of reconnecting with my old pal Bobbi who I haven’t talked to in around 40 years.  We’ve e mailed back and forth and it’s been wonderful catching up, however she said she’s been reading my blog and could see there was an awful lot to read.  I said yes, as it’s been going on for fifteen years this April. 

I wonder why I keep going and think maybe it’s my grasp at immortality.  You know as I plan to be cremated, my skull can never be fossilized and discovered thousands of years from now, and I certainly haven’t created anything that’ll hang around, however maybe in cyber space my little existence on Earth will go on and on somewhere in the great Cosmos.

Not that I plan on heading out that way any time soon, though the other day I did contemplate killing the fridge delivery people as once again a giant bough was torn from one of my Ponderosa pines on the driveway.  Once they’d parked I pointed out the Christmas tree sized branch on their cab and said perhaps on the way out they could minimize the damage.

I was quite surprised at the large amount of stuff inside a fridge as I unloaded the old one in preparation.  I’ve never had a freezer on the bottom and I quite like it and feel glad I got it.  Just a plain old Whirlpool but who knows, maybe this one will actually last for a long time. 

Seedlings are popping out in little trays on my windowsill and soon I can put them into the greenhouse.  The nights have been a tad cold so I have to wait as I don’t want to kill them.  Gilles the nice landscaper/ yard work person came by last week and built a fabulous arbour for my kiwi.  I bought it about ten years ago and it’s lain in snarl of twigs for all of that time, but now it’s finally got a place to go.

I was at mom’s the other day and emptied her linen closet and we went through every item.  Mom’s so adorable as I’d hold up a tablecloth and she’d say oh that’s a good one, keep that one, to the point I finally said well mom you’ve got fifteen of them saved so far.  But she was willing to let a lot go so I filled two black garbage bags with stuff for thrift.

She wants to get rid of useless stuff because Jan and Luke are moving in in two weeks and the rooms they’re staying in are already piled with boxes as they’ve been bringing their belongings down from Kelowna to Osoyoos.  I’ll be so happy to know they’ll be with mom because she’s going to feel so much more secure having them there with her.

The adorable part of the arrangement is that Luke’s gramma’s favourite grandchild so the two of them will enjoy their time together.  She keeps saying I hope he’ll get a job, and I keep saying he won’t. He wants to contract to companies doing Java script programming, so we’ll see.

A lot’s happened since April 2006 when I began this blog.  My fruitcake business ended, I retired, three dogs, two cats, Liz, mom’s partner Gerry, and Freddie died.  I have a grandchild, I’ve taken a bunch of nice trips, I got divorced, I discovered Reiki and yoga.  I’ve managed to hang onto old friends and make new ones, and for that and everything else I’m very grateful.