Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Day Of The Year

My furnace did not come on this morning. I have it set to come on at 6:00 am if it is below 72° in the house. I hoping it's just the thermostat gone bad. We had a new furnace installed last December (2010) so I wouldn't think the furnace would have gone out already. I called the company that installed the furnace because their ad says they work weekends and holidays. The guy who owns the company works out of his home. His wife told me that they had decided to take this weekend off for New Years so they cannot come out to check it for me until Monday sometime. Thank goodness it has not be quite as cold as it was a week or so ago. Not a good way to start out the new year. Before Christmas, I decided I wanted to start doing jigsaw puzzles again. I went and bought some right after Christmas and just opened one of those today to start on. I have not worked jigsaw puzzles in about 20 years and I must say, they do not make the puzzle pieces as strong as they used too. A lot of them are also not completely cut all the way through. Well already the New Year is not working out good and it hasn't even started yet. Not only is my furnace not working, I got a letter in the mail today from Time Warner telling me that as of January 30th they are no longer going to provide Internet service to my gated community. I've had Internet with them for years and the letter does not even explain why they are dropping the Internet. They are also dropping their phone service here, but I don't have my phone through them. The only thing they are leaving is the cable TV, but since I'm going to have to go with someone else, I'm going to cancel their TV service. I called AT&T and I've signed up for their U-Verse Bundle Package. It will give me high speed Internet, their phone service which will include long distance, caller ID, etc. which I do not have now and I'll also get their HD television service which will include over 300 channels plus a DVR, which I do not have now, and it will be hooked up to all 3 of my TVs. Right now only my big TV has digital service and my other two TVs just have basic cable. They cannot get a technician here until January 11 and they tell me it may take him up to 4 hours to install everything. So after they set me up, I'll be sending everyone my new email address. I cannot believe that Time Warner dropped this on us the last day of the year and ONLY gave us 30 days to get new service with someone else. It appears that Hiker is the ONLY good thing that happened to me this year and I am so thankful for her. I don't know what I would do without her. I probably won't stay up for the New Year tonight, but I wish you all a Happy One.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Alone Again With Hiker

Had breakfast before we took Hiker out for a walk this morning. This was Keith's last day here for this visit. Before he left, we went over to Sam's Club to pick up a few things. I needed him to help me with the big bag of dog food for Hiker since my back is still giving me trouble. We came back home and I made us spaghetti and chili for lunch and Keith left around 12:30 pm. It's quiet here now with just me and Hiker. I did some laundry and ran the dish washer. Also needed to pay some bills that came while Keith was here. Time to get back into my “normal” routine. Took Hiker out for a 1 mile walk this afternoon. It was in the low 80's. I think Hiker is missing Keith because she seemed kind of “sad” this afternoon.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another Day Of Running Around

Was warmer when we got up this morning. Keith was supposed to be leaving to head for home today, but then he changed his mind and said he wanted to stay another day. We took Hiker for a walk around the man-made lake at Bridgeport and then brought her home and the two of us headed over to Big Lots. I wanted to see if they had any bar stools for my kitchen island, but the didn't, so we went over to Wal-Mart. I bought some nice ones there, but I got 29” tall ones when I really should have gotten 24” tall ones as the 29” makes me bump my knees some under the counter, but I told Keith I'm not going to take them all apart again, return them, get the 24” and put them together, so I'll just settle and try not to bump my knees too much. I never use my dining room table much anymore since Ben died and when I'm alone, I just eat on a TV tray in front of the TV, but I figured when Keith visits, he and I could sit at the kitchen counter. We went to lunch over at Rattler's. We've been eating out so much since he's been here that I'm sure I've gained some weight. I'll have to cut back again after he leaves. My back has been bothering me quite a bit again today. I thought it was getting better as yesterday it did not bother me the entire time we were wandering around Vasquez Rocks nor did it bother me when we went to the thrift stores.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Out All Day

Keith felt OK when he got up today. My back was still a little sore. We drove over to Wal-Mart and I got a couple of Salonpas Patches to put on my lower back, then we got Hiker and headed up to Vasquez Rocks to wander around. It wasn't really a hike, but more of a “photo op”, plus Hiker loves being out in nature. After we brought Hiker back home, Keith and I went to Dink's New York Deli at the Westfield Mall Patios and had lunch. Came back by home to check on Hiker and then headed out again to wander through some thrift stores. Need to figure out what to make for dinner in a little while.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

First Keith Didn't Feel Good, Then My Back Went Out

28° this morning when we got up. Keith told me that he did not feel good. He was having a stomach ache and feeling very bloated. We had planned to go to my grief group together today but Keith told me to go by myself as he knew that my friend DeDee was going to be there, and that he would just stay home with Hiker. I knew Hiker would be glad of that. It meant that she would not have to stay in the garage for three hours. Plus there was not much I could do for Keith. I know that when you feel bad, a lot of times you prefer to just be left alone. Don't know what caused his stomach ache. We both ate the same foods on Monday and I felt fine, but he does have these kinds of problems now and then. Met with DeDee at the group and we had a very good session. The room was totally full. Had some good discussion today. After group, I headed home. Keith was feeling better so he and I went over to Subway and picked up a couple of sandwiches to bring back home for lunch. Keith told me that while I was gone, about 95% of the time, Hiker was looking for me or watching the front door waiting for me to come home, so now I know what she does when I leave her at home alone. My lower back went out on me while I was at the Senior Center. I have had that happen so many times before. There is no rhyme or reason for it, it just goes out on its own and stays out for several days. Hope it doesn't last too long. Keith and I were hoping to get in a hike tomorrow. We moved Ben's easy chair out onto the patio this afternoon, so that was another big step for me. We bought that chair about 12 years ago at the Sears outlet that used to be over in Canoga Park. The wood in one of the chairs arms was broken from when Ben pulled me down to sit on the arm years ago and the seat cushions were shot. I kept telling him I wanted to buy him a new chair but he kept telling me that he had this one all broken in and that he did not want a new one. So needless to say, there is no way I could totally toss it, so out on the patio it went. Now I can lounge in it with my laptop out there on nice days. Someday I plan to buy some new living room furniture only I'm afraid Hiker will destroy it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Finally Have Another Human To Talk To

Very cold this morning when we got up. I ran over to Stater Brothers to pick up some ice cream. They always have the cheapest and the best variety. Keith and I both love ice cream so I buy the “churned” kind as it does not have as much cholesterol as regular ice cream. Took Hiker for a 1.5 mile walk and then ran over to Wal-Mart to be a “ShedZilla” hair trimmer for Hiker. I brush her, but she still sheds so much. I had heard about a tool called the Furminator at PetSmart but they cost about $50. Did some online research and found the ShedZilla at Wal-Mart for $20 and it does the exact same thing as the Furminator. Keith texted me just after 10:00 am that he was on his way. I've mentioned before that I was not looking forward to 2012 coming. It's hard to explain to someone who has not lost a spouse, but my friend DeDee who has been widowed 3 years now tells me she understands exactly what I'm saying. It makes me feel that when the new year comes and the year that Ben passed away is gone, the passing time pulls him away from me even more. Right now I can still hear his voice, I can still feel his touch, but I fear that as years pass, I won't be able to “feel and hear” these things anymore. As I typed this, the tears began to flow. Keith got her a little after 11:30 am and we went to lunch at Der Weinerschnitzel. I needed a new mini-blind in my computer room (where Keith sleeps) as the old one would not close good anymore, so he and I went over to Home Depot and got a new one and he assisted me in installing it. Very warm her today for winter. We went for a 2 mile walk with Hiker this afternoon.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day

Was 35° this morning. I must have gotten up too fast when I got out of bed to feed Hiker and let her go out to potty because I got a little dizzy. Decided to just go back to bed for awhile, even though Hiker kept bothering me to go for a walk. Finally got up around 8:00 and had a bowl of cereal then put Hiker in the car and went to get my lotto tickets and then went to the post office. I had written some donation checks that I wanted to get out before the end of the year. I had the car radio on and they were playing Christmas songs and I started thinking about Ben and I started crying and I cried all of the way to the post office and all the way back home. When we got home, I took Hiker out for a 1 mile walk. Also played ball with her in the yard for about 15 minutes. Put my sheets and towels into the washer and the settled down to check my computer and watch some TV. Looking forward to my brother Keith coming tomorrow to visit with me until Thursday. Decided to vacuum my carpet and could not believe all of the Hiker hair in the vacuum. It was so beautiful outside this afternoon, decided to take a 2 mile walk with Hiker. Have not done 2 miles for awhile. Saw some kids out in the dry river bed with a new metal detector (probably a Christmas gift). It reminded me of my mom and dad because my dad was one of the founders of The Metal Detector's Club at Lockheed back in the 1970's. He and my mom used to go out with their detectors every weekend. I still have my mom's detector. Would you believe that it got up to 77° here today? Just put my little ham and my cheesy potato casserole into the oven. Dinner should be ready in about an hour.

Hiker Exercising On Christmas Day

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

It was 27° when Hiker and I woke up this morning. Stayed under the covers until the house warmed up some then got up and made breakfast. Went for a 1.5 mile walk and it was still cold the low 30's. Hiker wore her quilt coat and actually did pretty good with it on. Think she is getting more used to it. Got all of my blood work results back. Most of the numbers are pretty good. My cholesterol and triglycerides are still higher than they should be but much lower than they were this time last year. Remember, I cannot take the statins to lower my cholesterol and triglycerides because they give me fatigue and muscle pain, but all in all, I am very happy with my numbers. I am tired a lot of the time, and I am going to mention that to my doctor when I see him. I'm thinking my numbers are pretty good due to the fact that I lost the 20 lbs during the time Ben was in the hospital and after he died, and I have not gained it back. I'm exercising again, thanks to Hiker, plus I am not eating as much red meat as I did when Ben was alive. He was a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy. Tried to keep busy so I wouldn't think about it being Christmas Eve, so I mopped my floors and cleaned the master bathroom. I could not believe all of Hiker's hair in that bathroom. You would think it was hot summer the way she is shedding. Got up to 76° here today. How can it be 27° in the morning and 76° in the afternoon. Only in SoCal.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I Remember This Day In 1973

32° when Hiker and I got up this morning. I slept in a little because I was fasting to go do my blood work and didn't have to make breakfast. The Kaiser doctors offices open at 8:30 am but the lab does not open until 9:00, then the tech doesn't get there to set up until right at 9:00 and she didn't start drawing blood until almost 9:15. There were 3 people ahead of me. I left Hiker in the house alone for a little over an hour. She is getting good at staying in the house and behaving herself. After I got home, I took Hiker out for a 1.5 mile walk. Cold and breezy out there. On this day in 1973, I met Ben for the first time at the home of some mutual friends. I was there to go to dinner with our friends and Ben just happened to stop by to show them the new car he had just bought that day. We did not have our first date until May 11, 1974. Little did I know on that December day 38 years ago that I had just met my soul mate.

After being so cold this morning, it actually got up into the low 70's this afternoon. Took Hiker out for a second walk (1 mile), so I'm getting some of my strength back from when I was sick. Started getting my blood work results back from Kaiser in my email. My blood sugar was lower than I thought it would be since I've been eating so much pasta. I love pastas and they are such a comfort food.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Windy Again

Really cold and windy this morning when we got up and it stayed that way all day. I left Hiker alone in the house and headed over to Wal-Mart. I got there before 8:00 AM so there was not very many people there yet. Got the groceries that I was running out of and also bought Hiker a new toy. It is a “stuffing free” skunk. We've named him “Stinky”. So far Hiker loves him. As soon as I took him out of the bag, she wanted him. I gave him to her and she ran around the house with him in her mouth. Took Hiker out for a short walk around the block. Too cold and windy to go any farther. Then I put her in the car and went to Sam's Club. Could not believe all of the traffic on the roads. People must have taken the day off to go Christmas shopping. Sam's Club was not very crowded though. I had a headache that just would not go away today. Stayed inside again most of the afternoon.

Hiker & Stinky

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Feeling Much Better

Went to bed last night around 8:30 PM and went to sleep around 9:00. Woke up still feeling very weak. Stayed in bed until almost 8:00 AM and then got up and went to soak in the tub again. Poor Hiker, she just cannot figure out why we are not going for the walks like we used too. I feel so sorry for her. After breakfast, I decided to get dressed and at least take Hiker for a walk around the block here inside the community. It actually made me feel better getting out in the fresh cool air and I know it made Hiker happy. Maybe the warm stale air inside the house is not helping me. I actually felt so much better today that I was able to keep my lunch date with my friends Karren & Wally. We went to Marie Calendars. It was really a nice change from being in the house all day and not knowing what to fix for lunch. I had a chicken pot pie with a salad and slice of lemon meringue pie. Had a really nice time with them. When Ben was alive, the four of us used to get together for lunch a lot and we even took a vacation to Ferndale together a couple of times. I also gave Wally some of Ben's work sweat shirts and T-shirts, plus gave him Ben's winter coat. Ben would be happy to know that Wally will enjoy them. Hiker loved playing with Wally while they were here. After they left to head home, I actually got out with Hiker for a one mile walk. Maybe tomorrow morning I'll feel well enough to get over to Wal-Mart very early in the morning before the crowds get there so I can do my grocery shopping, and maybe Friday morning I can get over to Kaiser's Lab and do my blood work. If not, I'll try to go over Monday morning before my brother Keith gets here for his visit. For the first day of winter, we had beautiful weather here in SoCal. Got up to about 70° and was clear and sunny. They are saying Christmas weekend will be the same weather, which is pretty normal for us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Still Not Feeling Well

Was hoping I'd feel much better today, but I didn't. I was really feeling pretty good by the time I went to bed last night at 11:00 pm. I actually started feeling better late yesterday afternoon. I watched “The Closer” and “Rizzoli & Isles” and then hit the sheets, but I was wide awake and did not fall asleep until around 1:45 am. When I woke up around 6:00 am, I felt very weak so stayed in bed until around 8:00 and then got up and moved to the living room sofa. Was supposed to go to my grief group today, but knew I would not be able to drive, so didn't go. Poor Hiker. She wanted to go out for a walk so badly, she didn't know what to do with herself. Hopefully I'll be better soon. I'm supposed to go out to lunch with some friends tomorrow, plus I need to get to the market to get some groceries. I have chicken and ground beef in the freezer, along with some fish and some ham, but I'm getting to where I just don't know what to fix for meals. I never was much into cooking. I know I need to eat to get stronger. Hiker tried to occupy herself by playing with “Blue Toy”. I just feel so sorry for her because she does not understand. Up until now, I would take her for walks every day and go out in the yard and play ball with her. For the past 2 days, she just sits and watches me. She doesn't even want to go outside by herself to play. She barks at the door and I open it for her, then she just looks up at me like she's asking “why won't you come outside and play with me”? Most of the day she sat in Ben's chair and just stared at me.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Under The Weather

I had planned on going over to the Kaiser lab this morning to have my blood work done for when I go to see my doctor in January and then I was going to go by Wal-Mart and pick up a few groceries that I'm running out of, but I woke up in the middle of the night with heart burn again. Got up and drank some vinegar and water which made me feel better, so I was able to go back to sleep. But when I woke up around 5:30 am, I felt really tired, so decided to stay in bed most of the day, or at least stay in my jammies all day and lay around on the sofa. I think everything is just catching up with me. Ever since I got Hiker, I've tried to keep active with her and I think maybe I've overdone it. I remember when Ben first went into the hospital back in February, I felt exactly this same way. I think some of it is also stress. Even though I'm not celebrating Christmas, I think the holiday is stressing me out because I do not have Ben with me. I got up and made myself an egg on a muffin and after I ate it, I started feeling better. I decided to get up, make the bed, throw on some sweats and just veg out on the sofa all day instead of staying in bed. But I still did not feel well enough to go out driving. Besides, it was all cloudy and gray outside and they said it might rain. I could tell Hiker was disappointed that she did not get out for walks, but she got over it and did OK playing with her toys in the house. She would go out into the backyard but never left the porch. She would lie next to the sliding door and watch me. Probably to make sure I was OK. When she came inside, she would get up on the sofa next to me and bark at me. Been eating comfort foods all day. Had a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. By then I was feeling about 75% better than I was when I woke up this morning. I walked up to the mail box and took Hiker with me since she wasn't going to get out on a normal walk today. When we got back to the house, I opened the door for her and she was refusing to go inside. She wanted to stay out and walk some more.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunny Sunday

Last evening Hiker did something so cute. I put her dinner in her bowl in the laundry room and she was eating. I went into the bathroom toward the front of the house and she stopped eating and came to see where I was as she never really lets me out of her sight. After she saw me in the bathroom, she went back to the laundry room to eat some more. In the meantime, I went to get something out of the entry closet. Well Hiker thought I was still in the bathroom and she went right past me and into the bathroom to look for me and saw that I was not there, so she turned and ran to the other end of the house to see if I was in my bedroom. When she saw I wasn't, she ran back to the front of the house to see if I was in the computer room, and when she saw I was not there, she ran back to the bedroom again. She ran back and forth about 3 times before she finally noticed me in the entry and she came running to me like she had not seen me in years. I guess she thought she had “lost” me or something. Silly doggie. Woke up around 6:00 am and turned on the TV to watch the morning news. Found cartoons on instead and then realized it was Sunday. Stayed in bed until 8:00 and then got up a made breakfast. Took Hiker on a short 1 mile walk. I put her jacket on her and she just does not seem to like having it on. She acts like she has done something bad and droops her ears. When she walks with it on, she does not have that “happy step” like she does when she does not have it on. I make sure it's not too tight on her so it's not that. I usually end up taking it off of her and then she is happy again. It was a beautiful day here today. Almost hit 70°. Took Hiker down to the park in the afternoon to let her sniff around and explore. She just loves checking out everything she sees. I've decided that I'm going over to the Kaiser office where my doctor is here in Canyon Country in the morning to have my blood work done. That way he will have the results for when I go in to see him in January. I'll bet my cholesterol is higher because I cannot take the statins to lower it plus I have not been watching what I eat every since Ben died. I eat whatever I want, mostly comfort foods. I'm not diabetic, but I'll bet my blood sugar levels will be up too because I have been eating a lot of pastas (more comfort food) because they are so easy to make and I love pasta. But I've decided I am not going to deprive myself of anything I want. Life is too short.

Below is a photo of Ben and me one Christmas in our favorite place - Ferndale, CA

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gloomy Day Outside

Did not have a good evening yesterday. I felt very lost and alone. Kept thinking so much about Ben and still not believing that I am going to have to live the rest of my life without him. This was not supposed to happen. We were supposed to grow old together. We were going to be that cute little old couple who had been married for 50 years and were still in love and still holding hands. I sobbed and Hiker kept barking at me to stop. I don't know why, but I am not looking forward to going from 2011 to 2012. For some reason, it makes me feel like I'm losing Ben even more because it will be a different year from when he passed away, as if time is pushing him even further away from me. Plus it makes me realize more that I am really going to have to live the rest of my life without him. When Hiker and I woke up this morning, it was dark, cloudy and windy. We stayed in bed until 8:00 and then got up, had breakfast and went for a 1.5 mile walk. By then it had cleared up a little, but was still partly cloudy. Came home and started having problems with my WIFI router. All this time I thought I was having a bad connection with my provider (Time Warner). My Internet was down for about an hour and I finally plugged the Ethernet cable directly into my laptop and it worked just fine. Plugged it back into my router and no Internet again. Kept resetting, unplugging, plugging in, etc. and finally the router started to work again but don't know why. I may have to get a new one. I got this one just about a year ago so if it is going bad, it sure didn't last very long. Told my brother Keith that I may need to get a new one when he comes out for his visit the end of this month. It got really cloudy again around 11:00 am just before the gardener came. At least he got the yard mowed in case it starts to rain later. Since the weather was not so great outside, Hiker and I stayed in most of the day watching TV.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Windy All Day

My wind chimes blowing in the wind woke me up this morning. Hiker actually has been letting me sleep later in the mornings now. It was 45° when we woke up, but I didn't feel very well this morning, so we stayed in bed until almost 8:00 am. Got up and went for a short 1 mile walk because the wind was blowing very cold. Hiker still doesn't know what to think about her coat. When I put it on her, her ears droop and she doesn't act like herself. The wind blew really hard most of the day. I basically stayed inside most of the day. Hiker kept going in and out, from the house to the back yard. She would go out and lay in the sun for awhile and then want back in. I know she would have liked me to come out and play ball with her, but I just did not feel like it. A large twig broke from the tree and fell to the ground and she went out to inspect that. I cut out more squares from Ben's shirts for the pillow. I wanted to have them all done so when Linda gets back and we start putting it all together. During lunch, I had one of those “sneak attacks” of tears hit me. A vision of Ben lying in his hospital bed went through my mind and wham, I started to cry. Hiker came over to me and started licking me and she was making whimpering sounds. Because of the high winds, did not take Hiker out for an afternoon walk. Instead I watched a movie called “Bag Of Bones” on A&E. It's from a Stephen King book.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Milestone In My Widowhood

I've been crying a lot more again lately. Don't know if it's because Christmas is coming or if it's because today it's been 6 months since Ben passed away. 6 months is a major milestone. I cannot believe how fast time goes by when you live your life in a constant daze. Most of the time I don't know what day it is or what time it is. Thank goodness for calendars and clocks. The wound of losing Ben seems to be more open and more raw at this time than it was 6 months ago. I'm still struggling so hard with my faith, or I should say, my lack of faith. I lost my faith 6 months ago on the day Ben died. I'm sure this has a lot to do with why I do not want to even acknowledge Christmas this year. As a kid, I believed in God, Heaven and life-after-death. Now I question their existence. I tend to believe now that the only “life-after-death” that exists is the memory of Ben's life I keep alive in my heart. If there was no one on earth to remember a person who passes away and keep their memory alive, there would be no so-called “life-after-death”. It was 30° this morning when Hiker woke me up to go potty. Decided not to take her for her morning walk until it got warmer because yesterday when we went out, even though I had on a coat and gloves, it was freezing. This SoCal “girl” is NOT used to it being so cold. After lunch, I took Hiker over to PetSmart and bought her a Martha Stewart Doggie Quilt Coat for when she and I go out on our cold walks. Every year I make calendars for my friend Judy with her grandchildren on them. She gave me a check for them when I saw her awhile back so I finally got around to cashing that check and decided to spend some of it on Hiker, so that's what I paid for her coat with. I took her out in it this afternoon just to see how she'd react to it. She was a little upset about it at first, but I think she got more used to it as we walked. She did keep trying to shake it off her body though, like when dogs shake water off. While we were out for our short afternoon walk, it was drizzling some which is strange because they did not mention any rain, just more wind. It is getting dark and cloudy, so I don't know what's going on.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saw Ben's Buddy

Was 29° when Hiker woke me up around 6:15 to go potty this morning. She actually slept in about a hour longer than she usually does. I think she was warm and cozy under the comforter and she didn't want to go out into the cold. When we left for our short morning walk there was frost all over everything. Linda came by around 10:30 am and she and I drove up to Sunland to meet Ben's buddy Ed at the Sizzler Steak House where Ed treated Linda and I to lunch. Had a nice time. When Linda and I got back to my house, I took a “major” step. We pulled out Ben's favorite polo shirts and started to cut pieces out of them for the Memory Pillow Linda is going to help me make from them. Originally I had considered giving Ben's polo shirts to Goodwill or Salvation Army, but thought if we made something with them, I would have the memory of Ben wearing those shirts with me all of the time. Several of them have specific memories for me, which I shared with Linda. I will give his slacks and shoes to Goodwill or Salvation Army, plus some jackets and sweat shirts. Cutting the shirts into pieces didn't bother me, because I know they are going to be recycled into something I can keep. I think if I had given them to charity, it would have been harder on me. The pillow will not be completed for a few weeks as Linda will be leaving tomorrow for Arizona to be with her family for Christmas. Hiker was playing with me today and she gave me a “love bite” on my arm. She usually just takes my hand or arm into her mouth and does not really bite down, but today she did and it broke the skin a little. Her teeth are so sharp.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Group Day

I feel guilty about not going to the two cemeteries this year for Christmas. Ben and I didn't have a lot of traditions for Christmas, but one we did have was to take either a little Christmas tree or a poinsettia to the graves of my parents at Glenhaven Memorial Park and then also to the graves of his parents at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. I just cannot make myself go to the cemeteries alone this year. I have Ben's ashes here at home with me, so I don't have to go anywhere to visit with him. Woke up to a cold, partly cloudy morning. Took Hiker on a short 1 mile walk. She always seems to know when I am going to go away for part of the day and leaving her in the garage. She just sits and stares at me and doesn't want anything to do with the garage. I put her into the garage and headed out to meet my friend DeDee at the Senior Center for our Grief Group. It was a good group today. More “interactive” than normal. We went to lunch after group then I headed home to get Hiker out of the garage. As usual, she was really happy to see me. I took her for another short walk. She was so excited when she saw me pick up her leash to take her.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stuck In The House Rainy Momday

It was drizzling a little when we woke up this morning. Not a lot, but things were wet. I don't like taking Hiker out for a walk in the rain because besides her back getting wet, her feet, legs and belly get muddy from walking through the wet stuff. I tried to take her out as it was not really raining. Luckily I took an umbrella because we got about 3 blocks out and it started to rain so we turned around and came right back home. Hiker loves to get dried off with the towel. It's funny how she hates to take a bath (or shower) but she doesn't mind being out in the rain. Had breakfast and then vacuumed the hair out of the carpet. Hiker sure sheds a lot for a short haired dog. I emptied enough hair out of the vacuum cylinder to cover a hairless Chihuahua (LOL). My vacuum seems to pick the hair up pretty good, but I still need a vacuum that is lighter and not so hard to maneuver. Contacted my insurance agent. He handles both my car insurance and my house/earthquake insurance. I told him that I do not drive my vehicles as much now since Ben is no longer here. That I only drive around the Santa Clarita Valley to go shopping, out to lunch, etc. They changed my annual miles per year on the 4Runner and saved me $144 per year. Kind of a “wasted” day. All I did was sit on the sofa watching TV except for the 30 minutes that I vacuumed the carpet. Hiker has been going crazy all day because she could not go outside for a walk.

Stuck Inside On A Rainy Day

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Somewhat Sad Sunday

Was 30° when I woke up this morning around 6:00 am. Hike must have thought it was cold because she went out to potty and came running back in as soon as she was finished. For some reason I felt very tired when I first woke up, so stayed in bed awhile. Finally got up and took Hiker for her walk, came back home and had breakfast. My friend DeDee who came over yesterday had brought me some blueberry muffins that she had made. I had a couple of them and they were delicious. Thanks DeDee! Put my sheets and towels into the washing machine and waited for the load to finish so I could put them into the dryer and head out to buy my Lotto tickets. I hear the Mega Millions is over $115 million. It sure takes a lot longer to make a California King sized bed when you are doing it alone. Ben always used to help me make it up after I'd wash the sheets. He'd also help me to fold the towels and put them away. While making the bed, I started to remember how at Christmas time Ben loved to go over to our Lumber City Hardware store (which went out of business last year). He liked going there because they always had the biggest display of Christmas decorations on sale. They always had things that we never saw in other stores. I would see his eyes light up when he'd look at all of the lights and animated decorations. After I was done putting the bed back together, I sat down and watched “A Summer Place” on Turner Classic Movies. Would you believe I had never seen that movie before? The Percy Faith version of theme song of that movie has always been one of my very favorite songs. Ben loved that song too. This was the first Sunday in a long time that I was really feeling lonely. I just felt so sad all day. Finally had to get out of the house, so Hiker and I headed down to the dry riverbed and just wandered around. Getting out into the fresh air helped some.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saturday With My Friend

Enjoyed the movie “The Help” last night. Watched it on Time Warner's On Demand channel. Was 35° when I woke up around 6:00 am to let Hiker out to potty. Turned on the morning news and they said we were having a total eclipse of the moon here in SoCal this morning, but I could not see it from my sliding glass door and I was not going to go out into the cold just to have a peek. The morning news also said that there is a big, cold, rain storm heading our way that will hit us Sunday evening and last through Tuesday morning. The snow level is supposed to be really low so who knows? Santa Clarita might get some snow. My friend DeDee showed up a little after 9:00 am and she met Hiker then we checked out her laptop. She was having problems on Facebook and it turned out to just be a change in setting on Facebook that was messing her up. But while she was here, I also ran scans and virus checks on the computer and everything seemed to be working OK when she left. She and I put Hiker into the garage and we headed over to Route 66 Bar & Grill for lunch. The place was deserted. Everyone must be out Christmas shopping. After she left, I noticed that my brother Ron had called and left a message, so I called him back and we talked for a few minutes, then I took Hiker out for a short walk. How can we be so chilly in the morning but the afternoon gets up to 80°? Really strange. While out walking this afternoon, I had another Ben/Christmas memory. I remember years ago when Ben's nephew Richard was really little. Ben called his sister (Donna) and had her put Richard on the phone and Ben pretended to be Santa Clause. Donna said that Richard was so thrilled that “Santa” had called him. Ben asked Richard if he'd been a good boy and then asked what he wanted for Christmas. Don't know if Donna remembers Ben doing that.

Below is a photo of Ben in his favorite place at Christmas…Ferndale, CA

To My Family & Friends


Friday, December 9, 2011

Cold In The Morning...Warm In The Afternoon

Got out into the 30° weather for a walk with Hiker this morning. It was cold but I needed to get out early and get back to do some laundry, go online to try to get a January checkup appointment with my doctor and then head over to Sam's Club to pick up a few things. Went to Sam's Club and left Hiker inside the house by herself for about 45 minutes to an hour. I've left her for 15 minutes before, so I keep building up the time. I didn't want to leave her in the garage because it was cold out there this morning. When I got home, everything looked OK, so I guess she didn't do anything she should not have done. I went online and made my regular annual appointment with my doctor. I go on January 16th, the day before my birthday. I emailed him after I got the appointment in case he wants me to get some blood work done before I see him. He told me he ordered them and for me to go in anytime for the blood work. I'll have to fast. I'm going to watch “The Help” on the On Demand Channel tonight. I never did get to see it in the theater. Well, I tried to feed baby carrots to Hiker and she does not like them. She just does not seem to like veggies, but she sure likes fruits, especially bananas. It started getting windy here after lunch which made the temperatures go up because they are Santa Ana Winds. The temperature got up to about 75° by 2:00 pm. Took Hiker out for a 1 mile walk through the dry riverbed. It was beautiful out there and as usual, Hiker enjoyed every second of her walk. Why does it keep feeling like one of these days, Ben is going to come home from work and I'll wake up from this nightmare?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Took A Short Hike

Finally heard from Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital that my $2000 bill I was disputing for Ben's stay in their ICU was paid for by Kaiser. When I talked to them last week, they had not received the payment yet, so I'm glad that this is now taken care of. Very cold when we woke up this morning. Only 28° I fed Hiker and she then went outside to potty. She didn't stay out as long as she normally does. I think she thought it was too cold. She and I got back in bed for awhile to get warm. Got up and had a bowl of cereal then headed up to the liquor store to buy Lotto tickets. When I get there, the owner is standing outside and he tells me that some vandals came by last night and put glue or something in his door locks and he cannot open the store. Told him I'd come back later. Linda came by at 10:00 am and we headed over to Towsley Canyon to take Hiker on a short hike. On the way I stopped at Ben's old work place and gave the people there some fudge that I had made Sunday and also took Hiker in to meet them. We did a 1.5 mile hike up a somewhat steep trail. I can tell I'm not as young as I used to be. I start getting “winded” on trails that are not level. As usual, Hiker enjoyed her hike. I keep getting phone calls from the lady at the mortuary who took care of Ben's remains. She had come out to my house about a month and a half ago tried to get me to agree to purchasing a contract with them so they could handle my remains after I die. I've heard that sometimes doing the arrangements ahead of time is good, but sometimes it's not.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fun Day With Some Friends

When I've been walking Hiker, I've noticed all of the Christmas lights people have put up. Of course we are walking in the day time so they are not lit. I used to love to go out walking around the neighborhood in the dark close to Christmas so I could see all of the decorations, but this year, I do not feel like doing that. I hate hearing Christmas music at the stores. I remember Ben would sit in his chair at night and sing Christmas carols. He'd start out singing one carol and by the time he finished he was singing a totally different one. He'd also make up different words for the carols. He was always so much fun. He could tell a story and make it up as he told it. He never hesitated while telling it. He just rambled on and on and I'd sit and laugh until I'd be in tears. I miss his sense of humor. I had to go grocery shopping this morning so left early to head over to Wal-Mart before the Christmas shoppers get there. Seems like every time I go to my Wal-Mart, they are filming Wal-Mart commercials there. Makes it hard to get into certain isles. Came home and took Hiker for her walk. She was raring to go since I had not taken her earlier. While out walking I realized that I had forgotten to take my blood pressure pills this morning. I was in such a hurry to get my groceries, I just plain forgot. I took them when I got back from my walk. I met with several of my retired girlfriends today for lunch. We always have so much fun when we get together. Most of us have known each other for over 35 years. Hiker was excited again when I got home. My friend Judy had given me two toys for Hiker that her sister Ginny had made. One is a rope toy and the other is cloth, so she can play with them in the house. I gave them to her when I got home and she immediately started playing with both of them. Got up to 72° here today. Funny, we are so cold in the morning.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Memories Flow Back

Well last night I finally saw the commercial that I heard that night when I thought Ben had called me from the other room by saying “Hey You”. The commercial was for La Cordon Bleu cooking school. The guy's voice did sound like Ben's voice. Now I know I'm not crazy. Cold again this morning. Stayed in bed about 30 minutes longer than normal then got up and took Hiker on a 1 mile walk. I've noticed that she is getting fatter. I exercise her, so it's got to be the snacks I give to her in the middle of the day. The shelter had told me to feed her 1 cup of dry food I the morning and 1 cup in the evening, but I have been giving her bites of my lunch and other treats in the middle of the day so I guess I need to stop doing that every day. Now and then is OK but I don't want her to get too fat. I looked at some photos of her when I first got her and noticed that her middle section was a lot thinner 2 months ago. Went to my grief group today at the senior center. Not very many people showed up. Assume most of them were out Christmas shopping. Four of the regular guys showed up and a couple of the regular ladies plus me. Sometimes I think it goes better when less of us are there. Came home and Hiker was so thrilled to see me and for me to let her out of the garage. She kissed me for about 5 minutes before stopping. Took her for a 1.5 mile walk in the late afternoon. She was happy to be out walking. Hiker does not have a tail to wag, so I have to watch her ears to see what kind of mood she is in. Droopy ears means she sad, up and pointy means she's happy or curious. But today, I noticed the muscle where her tail would be wiggling a little bit. I've never noticed that before. Usually dogs without tails wag their entire butt but she doesn't. A memory of Ben came to me today. I've mentioned how he always worried about me. When I was meeting friends for lunch while he was at work, he wanted me to call him when I left home, when I reached my destination, when I left to go home and when I returned home. He worried about me when I was out hiking alone. Well I remember a time back in the late 1980's or early 1990's. SoCal was having very heavy rain storms. Streets were flooding and electricity was out in many places. Lockheed was still in Burbank, so I only worked about 8 or 9 miles from where we were living. I don't remember where Ben was working, but he usually got home after me. There were no cell phones back then. Well, one day it rained so much that some of us left work early. We had heard that streets were flooded, cars were underwater and traffic lights were out. I called home and left a message for Ben telling him that I was leaving work early and that I'd see him when we both got home. It usually only took me about 20 to 30 minutes to get home. I headed out and found that my normal route was closed due to flooding through the underpass, so I headed down a different route. Naturally the traffic was horrific because of the rain and no traffic lights. Ben somehow got home before me and got my message, I was still out on the road. I decided to take a turn and head up to the road I normally traveled. It was the street that our mobile home park was on, but I was still about 5 or 6 miles away from home. By now, Ben was starting to worry about me so he called my boss and she told him I had left about 30 or 40 minutes earlier. I finally got to the street I normally went to and from work on and I turned left and headed down the road at a snail's pace. Bumper to bumper traffic. I knew I still would not get home for another 30 to 45 minutes and that Ben would be worried, but I had no way to call him. I'd gone about 2 blocks when I looked at the on-coming traffic and see Ben's truck coming down the road toward me. I flashed my lights at him and thank goodness he saw me. He made a U-turn and jumped in front of me in the traffic and we headed for home. When we got there, I scolded him for going out into the weather and traffic. He told me that he was so worried about me that he was going to find me no matter what it took. I was just lucky that I had gotten back onto the road that I traveled on a daily basis before he passed the road I had just turned off from. Otherwise he would have missed me totally. I was so lucky to have a person who loved me so much that he put my safety ahead of his. I loved him for it, but at the same time, I was mad at him for risking it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mellow Monday

I have found out that Hiker loves to snack on fruit. So far she likes oranges, bananas and apples and today she tried pineapple. I always look on the Internet to see if it OK for her to eat something before I give it to her. I read where some dogs also like veggies, but so far, she does not seem to like any veggies. For those of you who keep asking how Hiker is doing with her potty training....she is doing great. She now pretty much lets me know when she has to go outside. She did have an accident the other day. It seems that when she thinks I'm mad at her, she lets loose with the pee, so that goes along with my thinking that someone abused her when she was a puppy. It was too cold for an early morning walk again, so we waited until it got a little warmer and I drove Hiker over to our Central Park for a walk and there was a filming crew there. Don't know if they were filming for a movie or for TV but they were doing something about baseball which is strange as there were leaves falling all around them and it was obvious it was fall and not summer. Just as we were getting ready to leave for our walk this morning, I turned on my sprinklers and noticed that one of them was pretending to be a geyser. Had to fix it before we could leave. I think maybe the gardener ran over it with the mower and chopped of the top because I had to dig and replace the entire pop-up stem. Luckily I had some spares in the garage. Also a good thing that I was the one who always took care of the sprinklers instead of Ben or I would not have know how to fix it. While on my walk I got a little teary eyed. I got to thinking about how scared and lonely Ben must have been in that hospital all of the hours that I could not be there with him. Even though I went to be with him every day and spent almost all of the day with him, I'm sure he wished I could have been there 24/7. I know I would have wanted him with me 24/7 if I had been the one with all of the tubes stuck in my body. He cried at least 2 or 3 times that I remember when I was there. Took Hiker over to PetSmart after lunch to get her some new indoor toys. She loves to play ball more than anything. Tennis balls are too hard for indoor play but if I give her fabric balls, she rips them to shreds and if I give her rubber balls, she chews them into little pieces and I'm afraid she will swallow them. I found some “rope” twined balls that are not real hard, but I'm sure that eventually she will end up tearing them all apart too. She is just really hard on toys. She destroys all of them eventually. Took Hiker down to the dry riverbed to walk around in the afternoon. She doesn't really care how far we go or how long we are gone, just as long as she is able to get outside and roam around awhile. Once I get her home, she is totally satisfied and usually takes a nap.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cold Morning, Cookies & Fudge

When I let Hiker out to go potty after her breakfast this morning, I saw that it was only 30° outside. I told Hiker that I was NOT going to take her out for a walk until it got warmer. She and I went back to bed to get warm. She got off the bed and down onto the floor and she threw up her breakfast. She has never done that before so I hope she is OK. She thought she was in trouble, but I hugged her and told her it was OK because she cannot control throwing up. She got back up on the bed and went to sleep. It was 18 years ago today that Ben and I moved into this house. I remember we were so excited that day. We had a new house for Christmas. This year I could care less. Stayed in bed until almost 8:00 and then got up and had breakfast and put my sheets and towels into the washer. They said on the morning news that the winds are coming back again. They are predicting 70 mph winds for Santa Clarita tonight, so I put all of the stuff back into the garage again just in case. My friend DeDee warned me yesterday that they said the winds would return. Had to go get my lotto tickets and I promised Hiker that when we got back from doing that, I'd take her for a walk, which I did. It was still a bit chilly out there. In the mid-40's. Today I made two kinds of fudge...chocolate with walnuts and peanut butter and also made some peanut butter cookies. I am going to take some of the fudge over to the people where Ben used to work but I cannot get it over there until sometime Thursday. I don't know where the big winds are supposed to come from tonight because it's as calm as can be outside right now. I had to go over to Home Depot this afternoon and when I was coming out of the store, I noticed a little dog tied to a pickup truck and somehow, the dog slipped out of his collar. Me and 2 other people were trying to get to the dog when the owner showed up thank goodness. Don't know why he didn't just keep the dog in the cab of the truck. What a moron!

Me and Ben - Christmas 1997
our 4th Christmas in our house

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Walking and Cleaning

This morning I confused Hiker. Instead of getting out of bed right after I fed her and let her out to potty, I got my laptop, turned on the TV and got back into bed. I just felt like lounging for once. After 37+ years of getting up early to go to work, I still don't sleep in too much. I'm usually up around 7:00 am and out the door with Hiker by 7:15 or so. Hiker could not figure out what was going on. At first she kept bumping me with her nose and then hitting me with her paw, trying to get me up to go for a walk, but finally she settled down and stretched out next to me and went to sleep for a little while. We got up around 8:00 and went for a 1.5 mile walk. I have not cried for several days but this morning, I cried while out on our walk. I was thinking about Ben's voice, his smile, his wit. Guess I needed a good cry. When we got home, I got to work finishing up on the shampooing of the carpet. All I had left was my bedroom and master bathroom. Took me about 1 1/2 hours to do and my carpet shampooer decided to crap out on me just as I was finishing. So when it's time to shampoo the carpet again I have 3 a new shampooer, rent one, or have a professional do the work. I'll have to see how my finances are at that time I guess. Also, does anyone out there have a Dyson Ball Vacuum Cleaner? I have wanted one for a long time. My vacuum is hard for me to push sometimes and I hear that with the big ball on the Dyson that they are easy to push around. I wanted one when Ben was alive, but he said they were too expensive, but if it will help me get the house cleaning done easier, it would be worth it. So if anyone has one, let me know if you like it and if it is easy to push and does it have a lot of suction. I have a lot of dog hair to vacuum up now. It was a little windy here all day. In fact, when Hiker and I were out for our morning walk, the wind was pretty cold. It was cold enough that when my gardener came by to mow, he had on a big heavy jacket. Went for a second 1.5 mile walk in the afternoon and it was still windy. We are actually having more wind right now than we had when they told us that big wind storm as coming. I was looking in the bathroom mirror earlier and say this really “old” woman looking back at me. I think that I have aged a lot since Ben died. I wonder what he'd think if he saw me looking so haggard.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bargain Day

Took Hiker for a short walk this morning, then came home and had breakfast. Then headed up to Kohl's to use my free $10 gift card. This time I bought 2 Sonora T-Shirts with screened designs on the front. They were on sale for $7.99 each and with my card, I got both of them for $6.50. Also went by Target and got myself a new feather/down pillow. The one I have is about 10 years old and it was getting really flat. I was waking up with a sore neck and shoulders. When I got back home, I took the patio stuff out of the garage and put it back out on the patio. They told us that the wind warnings have been canceled. It started getting cloudy just after noon but then the sun came out again by 2:00. I took Hiker for a 2 mile walk and by the time we got home, the sun was gone again. It cannot seem to make up its mind. We now have high, thin clouds. I found a soft fabric ball for Hiker. It was out in the garage in a storage bin. She love playing with it in the house and I like it because I can throw it for her without worrying about breaking anything and she can run around inside and play with it. Once I threw it and it bounced and went into the trash can. She found it though and got it out of the trash can by herself. I'll have to see if I can find some more of these kind of balls at PetSmart or Wal-Mart. Think I'll make mac & cheese for dinner. Nice comfort food.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wind Or No Wind?

Don't know what happened to the wind last night, but we didn't have very much here in Canyon Country. It sure did hit other areas hard though. I knocked down a bunch of big trees in Pasadena and knocked the power out in other places, but we didn't have hardly any wind here. I won't put anything back on the patio yet because they are saying we still may get some wind tonight. Took Hiker on a short walk this morning because I needed to get over to Wal-Mart and pick up some groceries and also stop by Sam's Club. Always like to get over to Wal-Mart early in the morning before the crowds get there, especially this time of year. We got a little bit of wind in the afternoon, but it wasn't very bad, just a few gusts. Got another bill from Henry Mayo Hospital for the $2000. I'm guessing they didn't receive the payment Kaiser sent them yet. I called and left a voice mail message telling them that Kaiser had paid them. This time the bill said they were going to send it to collections if I didn't pay. I just took Hiker for a second short walk and the wind is starting to blow pretty hard. It's blowing a lot more now than it did last night. I hope that we don't get the high speed gusts that others got last night. I've had a slight headache all day. I think it's because of the problem not getting the woman at the Canyon View office to understand about my lease and then getting another bill statement from Henry Mayo Hospital. My brother Keith always tells me I worry too much. I can't help it...I've always been that way.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting For The Wind

Went for a morning walk with Hiker and then I went out and put everything that I could from the patio into the garage and what could not go into the garage, I put in the far back corner of the patio. They say the wind storm is supposed to start hitting us around 9:00 tonight and last through Friday sometime. I'm hoping it's not going to be as bad as they are predicting because I worry about wind damage to the house, like losing the roof. I sure am glad I have my lawyer. I took her the paperwork the community sent to me when I asked to have Ben's name taken off of my land lease and a copy of my current lease. She said that the paperwork they sent is NOT the paperwork that would do what we asked them to do, in fact she said that if I filled that paperwork out and signed it and sent it to them, it would cancel my land lease and since they did not send me a new one to sign, she told me to just ignore the paperwork and leave Ben's name on the lease. She said since my name is already on the lease, it should not matter if his name is on it or not. She said if the community's main office calls me again about it, to tell them that she advised me to just leave the lease as is and if they have a problem with that, for me to tell them to have their "legal department" call her. She said they probably don't even have a legal department. Took Hiker on a second short walk this afternoon. It's still not windy, just a little breezy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Grief Group and Lunch With A Friend

Stayed up a little later last night than I have been lately. Wanted to watch “The Closer” and “Rizzoli & Isles”. Because of it, I was sleepy all day. Hiker didn't wake me up until almost 7:00 am so I don't know if she was sleepy too or if she decided to let me sleep in a little (LOL). I took her for a short 1 mile walk this morning because I had to get back, make my breakfast and get ready to go to my grief group over at the senior center. My friend DeDee was meeting me there today and then we went to lunch after our group session. Hiker was not happy about going out to the garage to stay while I was gone. She seems to “know” when I'm trying to put her out there because I'm going away for a few hours and I have to trick her into going out by giving her some doggie treats. Most of the time she will just follow me out, but when she “senses” that I'm going somewhere and leaving her, she just sits back and stares at me. I was gone for 4 1/2 hours and she as so excited to see me when I got home. She jumped all over me and kissed me. Had a full house at group today but as I said, I was very sleepy and was having trouble holding my eyes open. Once DeDee and I got to the pizza parlor, I was OK though. It was nice to see DeDee. She had surgery a few weeks ago and I had not seen her for quite awhile. It was mostly cloudy here all day. Maybe that made me sleepy too. I got a couple of documents from Kaiser in the mail today stating “This Is Not A Bill” and I saw an amount of $2000 that they paid to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, so I'm hoping that everything is not taken care of with Ben's hospital bills. I was snacking on an orange and Hiker was eyeing the orange. I went online to see if I could give her oranges and it said most fruits (except grapes and raisins) are OK for dogs, so I gave her a couple of wedges and she loved it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Another Day, Another Post

Why is it that Sunday evenings feel so lonely for me? Didn't cry last evening, but felt so sad. I took another “baby step” before I went to bed. The plastic bag with Ben's clothes from the hospital was still on the floor where I left it the night he went into the hospital back in February. I finally picked it up and took his clothes out of it. Some days I wake up in the morning and think "I can do this. I can face this world alone". But other days I wake up and think I can't. And then there are the days I wake up and think "OK, I'm done with the grieving. It's time for it to stop and go away" as if I'm in control (LOL). I just wish everything could go back to the way it used to be, but we all know that will never happen because Ben is gone forever. Hiker and I went for our morning walk. Today the weather in the morning was not as pretty as yesterday. Today was a bit cloudy. Didn't have any plans for today, so decided to go out this morning and trim my rose bushes. Took Hiker out with me and tied her up so she could not run free, but gave her enough rope that she could roam around the yard. I don't trust her loose out in the front yard but I do let her run loose in the back yard. I keep thinking I should start going through things and toss whatever I can. I could start in one room and finish it all up and then go to the next room, but I just cannot get into the mood to do it. There are all kinds of papers and junk that I could get rid of, but I hate to get rid of anything that was Ben's or his and mine together. I would feel like I was tossing him away. I wish I could get myself to start cleaning up around here. Maybe when the new year gets here, I'll feel more like doing it. Got another free $10 gift card from Kohl's in the mail today. That's about my 10th one this year. Took Hiker out for another shorter walk this afternoon. I got a phone call from my brother Ron and while I was talking to him, Hiker was jumping all over me, chewing on my foot and barking at herself in the mirror. She really needed to burn off some energy. Sometimes she won't calm down until I take her for a walk.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Snapshot Sunday

Well the “prescription” my friend “Dr.” Linda gave me to help stop my heartburn seemed to work better than anything else I had tired yesterday. She told me to mix vinegar and water and drink it, so I did and it seemed to help. Once again, she has come to my rescue. My Internet went down around 4:30 pm yesterday and I was feeling so isolated for some reason. It was down for over 30 minutes. Had a 20 minute crying attack while I could not get on my computer. Think it was because I had not felt very good all day and I missed Ben not being here to take care of me. Sometimes I feel like I just don't care about anything anymore and that makes me sad. But then I look at Hiker and know that I need to be strong for her because she needs me to take care of her. When I was crying, she was licking me and barking at me. I slept better last night, but this morning when I woke up, I felt very weak and had a few body aches from the episode. I guess the body aches could be from shampooing the carpet though. I took Hiker down to the park for a few minutes this morning and wished that I felt better today because it was a beautiful morning and would have been a great morning to take her for a hike in the mountains. I could tell that Hiker knew I didn't feel well because she stayed by my side and kept kissing my hand. I started feeling better, and I could not stand to be inside when it was so nice outside, so I put Hiker in the 4Runner and headed up to Vasquez Rocks County Park. I had never taken her there and she loved it. She lives for being out in nature and exploring everything. She was born for it. I normally do a load of laundry on sheets and towels, but I didn't feel like doing it this morning, but after Hiker and I got home from Vasquez Rocks I decided to at least wash my towels. Since it's just me in the bed now, I guess there is really no need to wash the sheets every week.
Here is the link to my photos if I didn't already send it to you:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Little Sick On Saturday

Didn't sleep well last night. I have a severe case of heartburn which I have not had in a long time. Had to sit up in bed most of the night and try to sleep that way. Don't know what I ate that caused it. I used to get heartburn a lot years ago. Took Hiker for a short 1 mile walk this morning because I wanted to get home and pay some bills and then shampoo the living room portion of my carpet. I almost didn't do it because the heartburn was making me feel kind of sick but I went and bought some Mylanta and came back home and did the carpet. Found out that I felt better working than I did just sitting around doing nothing. Had lunch and watched some movies on Hallmark Channel. Took Hiker for another 1 mile walk this afternoon, so I got some exercise in today. I've had several suggestions about how to “cure” my heartburn. I just tried Linda's suggestion of drinking a mixture of vinegar and water. Hope it helps. I think Hiker knew that I did not feel very well all day as she never let me out of her sight and she sat with me every time I sat down. I could not believe all of the hair she has left in the carpet. I vacuumed before I shampooed but there was still tons of hair. I thought with her short hair that she would not shed that much. I keep telling her she should be bald by now (LOL). Maybe I need a heavy duty vacuum. Noticed when Hiker and I went for our second walk that one of the new neighbor's 3 doors down was putting up outside Christmas lights. This is the weekend Ben and I would have been doing that.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Day With Some Of Ben's Family

Hiker loved her Thanksgiving turkey last night. She inhaled it all in about 10 seconds and then was begging for more, but I did not give her more because if I fed her the way she wants to be fed, she'd be the world fattest dog. I don't think I'll ever do another turkey for just me and Hiker. It's just too much trouble. Has to cook all day and then I have to clean everything up. I didn't mind doing it when Ben was here because he would help me with everything. He was so sweet about things like that. I had taken a sedative to help me get through the day yesterday and it made me so sleepy last night (along with the tryptophan from the turkey) that Hiker and I went to bed before 8:00 pm. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Took Hiker on her usual 1.5 mile walk this morning then had breakfast and put a load of laundry into the washer. Was planning on going to Sam's Club to pick up a few things I need, but then my gardener showed up at my door. Last week I had asked him about trimming the shade tree in my back yard when he had time. I worry every time we have a big wind storm that a big branch will break or that the entire tree might blow over into the house. He was wondering if he could trim it today. Only took him about an hour and 15 minutes trim the tree. I was getting ready to head over to Sam's Club when my phone rang. It was Ben's sister Donna. She and her husband and daughter were here in Santa Clarita from Las Vegas visiting their son and his family for Thanksgiving. She said they wanted to come over to see me and I was so happy to have them come. Had not seen them since Ben's memorial in July. I had some things of Ben's that I wanted to give to Donna that I knew would mean a lot more for her to have than for me to keep them. Things from their childhood. While we were at lunch, Donna and Beth (her daughter) told me something very interesting. Most of you probably remember the other day I posted about a strange thing that happened to me where I thought I heard Ben's voice call out “Hey You” to me while I was in my computer room and that I almost answered his call. Well Donna and Beth told me that they had a really strange experience about Ben. When growing up, Ben, his brother Lanny and sister Donna used to refer to each other with numbers in the order they were born. Lanny was “1”, Ben was “2” and Donna was “3”. When they all married, we, the in-laws became “ 1 1/2”, “2 1/2” and “3 1/2”. Only they and us in-laws knew about the numbers. Beth has an app on her phone that is supposed to detect “ghosts” if they are in the room. Kind of like the things you see on the TV shows about ghost hunters. Donna had never seen how it worked, so Beth was showing her. It has a meter that supposedly searches the room for any ghost activity. There is no way you can type text or record into the app. If there is an spirit in the room, text will show up on the screen and the app will say the word at the same time. The meter started searching and suddenly, the word “BEN” came up on the screen and the phone spoke the word “BEN” at the same time indicating that there was a spirit in the room named Ben. Donna and Beth were both shocked and didn't know how to react. Donna said “Ben, are you here?” and then the number “3” showed up on the screen and the phone said “3”. Donna felt that it was Ben and that he made the phone say “3” so that she knew for sure that it was really him. Not even Beth knew about Ben calling Donna “3” as a nickname. Donna told her husband Rich about it and he was even amazed. He said that if it had just spelled and said “BEN”, he would wonder about it, but then when it spelled and said “3”, that convinced him that there was something to it. Donna was hesitant about telling me this at first, but I told her I was so glad she did because I actually lost my faith after Ben died. I gave up on God and I gave up on Heaven and a life after death. After the experience I had and now what Donna and Beth told me, I may be able to get my faith back again. Maybe we are crazy, but I feel that it really was Ben trying to tell us that he is OK.

Me, Donna, Beth & Rich

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Made It Through Thanksgiving

Well it's my first Thanksgiving without Ben. Got up just before 7:00 am and put my turkey breast in my crock pot then got dressed and took Hiker for a 1.5 mile walk. I cried for the entire walk thinking about Ben not being here. I told myself to try to think if I had anything to be thankful for this year. I thought of a few things. First I'm so thankful for Hiker. I do not know what I would do without her. I am thankful for my brothers, my nieces and nephews, and for my friend Linda. Plus my girlfriends from work and my online friends. And I am really thankful that Ben never had to watch me die and go through the pain and anguish of losing me. He never had to feel the grief and the loneliness. Those are the things I am thankful for today. I put Hiker in the car around 8:30 and went to get my Lotto Tickets and then over to the post office to mail my car insurance out. Found out that besides the “Twilight Zone” Marathon that there was also a “Bones” Marathon, so I was going back and forth between the two all day. Decided to run over to the grocery store and pick up a few pieces of fresh fruit and some ice cream. Went to Ralphs. It actually was not very crowded for being Thanksgiving. I took Hiker with me. She is getting to really be a good girl riding in the car now. One of my online friends suggested the other day that I bundle up in Ben's zippered sweat shirt, you know the one that I said I finally hung up in the closet that had been on the back of the chair since the last time he placed it there? Well it is chilly in the house today, so I am wearing that sweat shirt right now. It's kind of having Ben's arms wrapped around me. Hiker wants to eat even though I keep telling her she has another hour or so to wait until the turkey is done. So far, I have made it through this day with only one crying session I'd say that's pretty good. I will admit that I have felt the loneliness and the emptiness of not having Ben here, but actually, he's always here in this house watching over me

Hiker & Me - Thanksgiving 2011 - taken with my laptop webcam

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beautiful Fall Day In SoCal

Finally some good news (I think). I still had not heard from anyone at Kaiser about my dispute about the $2000 bill I kept getting from the other hospital for when Ben was in their ICU the first 2 weeks. I called Kaiser again just before 5:00 pm yesterday afternoon and the woman I have been dealing with still was not at work so I asked to speak to someone else. A really nice woman came on the line and said she could help me. She found a letter that was supposedly mailed to me on November 17th (which I never got), telling me that Kaiser had decided, after reviewing my complaint, that I was not liable for the $2000 bill from the other hospital and that they will pay it. She ended up emailing me a PDF of the letter for my records and for my attorney. That is such a load of my mind. Keith is going to have to fight with Hiker for the ottoman bed. While I was watching TV last night before I went to bed, I noticed she was not in the living room. Went looking for her and she was asleep on the ottoman. Got up this morning, made breakfast and then headed over to Wal-Mart to grab some things I had run out of. Wanted to get there early before the last-minute Thanksgiving shoppers invaded the store. Came home and put that stuff away and I called the Kaiser Pharmacy to see what their hours were as I had ordered my blood pressure meds online the other day. Got a recording saying they were closed for the holiday. I thought “that cannot be right”, so I put Hiker in the car and headed over to the Kaiser building. The Pharmacy was open and there was only a couple of other people there. They are usually crowded. Got my meds then on the way home, stopped at the Southfork Trail to take Hiker for a 2 mile walk. She had been lying in the back seat looking so sad because she had not gone for her morning walk, so when I got her out of the car and said the word “walk”, she got all excited. She was so happy and she just “strutted” along the trail. Well it's a good thing I called Kaiser again yesterday and asked for someone else to help be because the woman I was originally dealing with STILL never called me back and I STILL did not get the letter in the snail mail that they emailed to me yesterday. We have cluster mail boxes here and our mail carrier is very bad about putting mail in the wrong boxes. I always try to make sure if I get a neighbor's mail that I take it to them, but I'm thinking someone on the street got my letter and just tossed it in the trash. They mailed it to me on November 17 and it should not take 6 days to get to me. At most it might have taken 2 to 3 days. Just took Hiker for another short 1 mile walk. When we got home I took her out in the back yard and played ball with her for awhile and she finally got tired and laid down on the lawn.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Ottoman Bed

Hiker is having a fit because I have not taken her out for her morning walk. I am waiting to hear from the furniture store about when they will be delivering the ottoman bed I bought yesterday. I probably won't be able to go to my grief group this morning either. Hiker is so eager that she is running all over the house with her “blue toy” in her mouth, shaking her head and barking. I keep telling Hiker that as soon as I know when they are coming or right after they get here, that I will take her for a walk. Then she takes off running around again. Yesterday Linda and I were talking about what I might do with Ben's stripped polo shirts. Originally I was going to give them to charity, but then I had so many friends suggest making a quilt with them. I have no idea how to make a quilt , but Linda does, but instead, she suggested that we make a throw pillow for the sofa with his shirts instead of a quilt. She said that way I can hug it anytime I feel like it, which sounded like a great idea to me. She is going to be with her family for the holidays, but she said after she gets back, she will help me to make the “memory pillow”. It was cold when we got up this morning...around 30° and there was ice all over everyone's roofs. Got my master bathroom cleaned while I was waiting to hear from the furniture store. I still had not heard from the furniture store by 10:30 so I called them and they told me that my delivery was scheduled between 11:30 and 1:30, so I took Hiker out for a very short walk. But she was totally satisfied because she was able to get out and roam around a little. I promised her that I'd take her for a longer walk later today. The guys delivered the ottoman bed around 12:45. I had to find a throw to put on it right away as Hiker immediately got up on it to look out the window and I do not want her to tear the faux leather with her sharp claws. Linda came by because she wanted to see the ottoman bed now that it is in my office. She took a video of me displaying how it opens and closes. Since Linda is leaving for Arizona tomorrow to be with her family for Thanksgiving, she stayed and visited for awhile and we took Hiker for a 2 mile walk this afternoon.

Here is a video on how the bed works

Monday, November 21, 2011

So Much To Do...Will It Ever Be All Done?

Every since I had that strange experience when I thought I heard Ben call “Hey You” from the other room the other night, I have not seen or heard the commercial or whatever the “Hey You” was from. I'm beginning to wonder if I imagined the entire thing because the more I think about it, what kind of commercial would someone say “Hey You”? Turned on “California's Gold” on public TV last night and wouldn't you know that Huell Howser went to “The Trees Of Mystery” which was one of the places that Ben and I always visited when we'd go up to our favorite part of California. I had to change the station because seeing one of our favorite places on TV was making me feel so sad. I took Hiker out for her morning walk a little after 7:00 am. We did 1 1/2 miles then came home and I made breakfast. Linda came by at 9:30, we put Hiker in the garage with her crate and we went looking for a bed chair. We first went to Easy Life Furniture but they only had full and queen size sleepers, so we headed down to Consumer Furniture. The did not have the chair beds but they had this really cool ottoman bed. Linda nor I either one had ever heard of this type of folding bed, but it was really cool. The original price on it was $589 but it was on holiday sale for $389. The woman who was showing it to us told me that she would let me have it for $350 and that they normally charge $100 for delivery but that she would only charge me $50 for delivery and that she would not charge me any sales tax. I told her I had a few more places to look so Linda and I head over to the mall and checked out the chair beds at JC Penney. They were $899 and Linda and I got to talking about how the chair would block my entire bay window whereas the ottoman would not block anything, plus no one ever really goes into my “office” to sit in a big chair and chill. The ottoman suited my needs more than a chair bed. We headed back to Consumer's and I bought the ottoman bed and they will delivery it sometime tomorrow, which means I won't be able to go to my grief group, but that's OK. Linda and I went to a new Mexican cafe here in town for lunch. The food was OK but I've had better. There were a lot of people there having lunch though. I still had not heard anything back from Kaiser about their review of November 9th on the bill I keep receiving from Henry Mayo Hospital for when Ben was in their ICU. I had called the woman who is handling my case with Kaiser a couple of times but had not heard back from her, so I called her number again and once again, I got her voice mail, so I left her another message and this time, I also called their main complaint office and left a voice message there. While Linda and I were out, I got a message on my answering machine from another woman at Kaiser. She wanted me to know that they got my voice message and she said the woman handling my case was off from work today, but that she will make certain that the woman will call me tomorrow. I also finally got some paperwork from the main office of the community where I live about taking Ben off of my land lease and transferring it over to my name only, but I'm going to have to get with my attorney to work on it because it all looks very confusing to me. I emailed my attorney's office to get an appointment with them asap which won't be until next week. Took Hiker for a second 1 1/2 mile walk this afternoon. That dog just loves to walk. She is now all curled up on the sofa next to me sleeping.

Here are a couple of photos of the ottoman bed

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hiker's Big Day

Hiker has been waking me up around 4:30 am every morning and I keep thinking that she needs to go potty. So we do the routine of me getting up, going to the sliding door, unlocking everything and opening the door, only to have her sit there and stare at me like “what”? Then she turns around, heads back for the bedroom, jumps up on the bed and goes to sleep. What the heck is that all about? Because of this, I've been going to bed a lot earlier and going to sleep very quickly. Took her for a 1 mile walk this morning. I had heard on the morning news that it was raining hard over in Oxnard and Ventura and that it was headed this way, so I figured we'd better get a quick walk in before it got here. It started raining around 11:15. I took a baby step today. The afternoon before Ben went into the hospital for his emergency surgery, he was wearing his zip up Adidas sweat shirt. He wore it all the time. He had taken it off and laid it across the back of his easy chair and when we headed for the hospital, he did not pick it up to put it on so there it stayed. I had not moved that sweat shirt since that day (Feb. 28, 2011). Several times I would put my hand on it or I'd bend down to smell it, but it stayed there all that time. This morning I decided it was time to hang it back in the entry closet. Don't know how long it will stay there until I decide to give it to charity or whatever, but I felt it was time. Today was Hiker's "graduation" from her training classes, at which in my opinion, she failed. Actually they don't really give you much for the money, just tell you the basics and then we are supposed to come home and work with the dog. But when the dog is as stubborn and independent as Hiker, you don't get very far with the lessons. Hiker is not stupid. She knows how to do things and she knows when she has done something bad, but she just does not want to do what I tell her to most of the time. Probably my fault that I'm not more forceful with her, but then she gets scared and cowers like I'm going to hit her and when she get scared, she also pees. Anyway, each dog at the graduation had to do a certain “final exam”. We were given the task by the trainer. We didn't know what it was going to be. Hiker had to “sit and stay” for 30 seconds. I thought “oh no....she doesn't do this one all that well”, but she passed with flying colors! Sure surprised me. The trainer was trying to “pressure” all of us into signing up for the Intermediate Training Class which starts December 10th. She kept telling us that we got $10 off the total price, but all of us told her we'd have to let her know. I don't intend on signing her up for another class because I don't feel it's worth the money. If I ever really wanted to get her totally trained, I think I'd hire a professional trainer to do it for me.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Carpets & Crying

For some reason I was extremely sleepy last night. Hiker and I went to bed around 8:30 pm. She woke me up around 4:30 am to go outside and pee. Got up around 7:00 and it was very cloudy and gray outside. Looked like it could rain at any moment, so I put her leash on her and headed out for a short walk and hurried back in case the rain started. She doesn't care if her walks are short or long, just as long as she gets out for awhile. I was “attacked” by a crying jag while out walking this morning. Good thing I was not on the main trail where other people could see me because this was a “sobbing” one. Came back home and made breakfast and then got to work. Since I am going to try to get the chair bed soon, I wanted to shampoo the carpet in the computer room where the chair will be. Also shampooed the carpet in the hallway and the dining area. I used to shampoo the carpet in the entire house years ago but decided this time, I'll do it a few rooms and areas at a time. No need to hurry anymore. Hiker didn't know what to think of the shampooer. She already does not like the vacuum. Well, I guess I was wrong about saying that I didn't think I was crying as much anymore for Ben because I had a huge “melt down” today. Poor Hiker didn't know what to think, she was all over me trying to get me to play with her. I do know though that these major crying jags do not come as often as they once did. I had to yell at Hiker for digging again. I don't hit her. She has pretty much finally gotten the idea about going potty outside, but I'm still having trouble with her digging. I have tried burying some of her poop in the holes she digs and that detours her from those old holes, but then she starts new holes. I've looked online of things to do to try to get her to stop digging, but none of them seem to be working. She does not dig to bury things, she digs to look for worms to eat. Took Hiker out for a second walk this afternoon and we did 1.5 miles. She and I went out in the yard when we got back and I chased her around for awhile. I like to try to get her worn out so she will sleep through the night. Ben thinking about trying to make a lemon/butter sauce for some baked tilapia tonight for dinner. I've been looking at some recipes online for the sauce.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It Was A Cloudy A Cold Afternoon.....

Got up around the normal time this morning, fed Hiker put her out for potty and then put a load of laundry into the washer. Hiker wanted to go for a walk right away, but I made her wait until after I put the laundry into the dryer. I drove us over to Central Park in Saugus, CA and we did a 1.8 mile walk around the park. There is a dog park there, so there are always a lot of dogs. I won't let her play in the dog park because I'm afraid to let her off leash except in her own backyard. I had one guy ask me if she had some Doberman in her because he said her head and face looked like a Doberman. Came back home and made a quick trip to the bank to cash a check and get a little cash. Almost had some tears while I was out walking, but was actually able to restrain them. I've noticed that sometimes I now just get a little moisture in my eyes instead of actually crying. I still do get hit now and then with one of those sobbing attacks, but they are fewer and farther between now. I put together a meatloaf to cook for dinner tonight. Ben used to love my meatloaf and I have not made one since he went into the hospital last February. I have just not been able to bring myself to make one until now, plus it's been so long since I've been hungry enough or “sane” enough to actually plan any “real” meals. I'm hoping that one of these days I'll be able to plan weekly meals every Sunday like Ben and I used to do so that I will always know what I'm going to have for dinner. It started getting cloudy and breezy around noon. They are saying that we might get some more rain this weekend and they are saying we may get rain on Thanksgiving Day. My gardener came a day early to mow the lawn. He said he was off from his regular job so he thought he'd get some of the yards done today before the rain comes. I spoke with him about thinning out my shade tree in the backyard. It's getting really thick and I'm afraid a big wind might blow it over. Then I talked with Linda on the phone. She was over at Wal-Mart looking for a new computer router and was asking my advice on which one to get.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Weather Was Beautiful Today

A strange thing happened last night. When Ben was alive and if I was in one room and he was in another and he wanted to tell me something, he would say "Hey You". Well I was in my computer room around 6:45 last night. The TV in the living room was on and a commercial came on and on the commercial a man's voice said "Hey You". It sounded just like Ben's voice and I almost said "What" in reply. Caught myself just before I spoke out. Gave me a very strange feeling. I had never seen or heard that commercial before. Hiker and I were both exhausted from our vigorous hike yesterday so we went to bed around 9:00 pm. She woke me up at 4:30 am to go potty. Hate getting up that early to let her out, but at least she is no letting me know she has to go outside. We went back to sleep after she came back in. Got up around 6:45 and fed Hiker and then made my breakfast. I needed to head over to Wal-Mart for some groceries. Took Hiker with me in her crate in the back of the 4Runner. While at Wal-Mart, I had to do everything I could to hold my tears back because of the Christmas music they were playing in the store. Plus seeing all of the holiday displays and foods. I was able to keep any tears from flowing, but I rushed through the store so I could get out of there asap. I used to love to go to Wal-Mart and other stores at Christmas time to see all of the decorations. Now I hate it. I did decide to buy a boneless turkey breast to cook in the crock pot for me and Hiker for Thanksgiving. I had not planned on doing anything for Thanksgiving dinner, but saw the turkeys and thought it would give me and Hiker several meals. I took Hiker for a 1.7 mile walk after we got home and then after our walk she wanted me to come out into the yard and play ball with her. Trouble is, when she “plays” ball, it means she wants me to chase her around the yard and try to the get ball away from her. I do not know where she gets all of her energy. Took her for another 1 mile walk in the dry riverbed this afternoon. She was in a very cuddly mood all day. Kept wanting me to play with her. Finally settled down on the sofa next to me and went to sleep.