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Yesterday was cloudy with on and off showers, today more of the same. I love grey, overcast, rainy days!! Yesterday I played tennis for the first time in probably 30 years and it was fun!!! Of course, today my body is complaining, but it really felt good so I think I'll continue. Sort of fell off the exercise wagon for a few years, so I'm thinking any exercise is a good thing. Next time I will wear sneakers though, instead of work boots.

In one way, it was a first time experience, as I had never played doubles in the past. After turning 60 last month, it was encouraging to find I could somewhat hold my own, playing against my two sons, and partnering with the younger son's girlfriend. We were technically there to oversee my 2 eldest grandsons, who were at a local street fair to be picked up later, so with no grandchildren and their cadre of cousins and friends within earshot, I was able to say at one point to my sons, "You have all the balls." I know, bad tennis pun but also the truth and it was my turn to serve. I had watched the girlfriend, who said she only played tennis up until college but had metal racquets with her name on them, in carrying cases, plus a slow, deliberate killer serve. When I was young, I played basketball, volleyball, and softball as a pitcher. So, with all that in mind, I nervously tried to serve when a refrain from a Bob Dylan song came wafting through my brain and out of my mouth, ..."Now it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you're gonna have to serve somebody..."

In other news, I had an invitation to submit artwork for a three month show. I decided to use one of my write-ups and a photo I took during daylight of my rust garden. There was no size limitation, so I went for 27x40 inches, and with the help of my son and the local print center, I pulled it off. Looks like a page from a large book. The opening was this past Friday night and I was accompanied by my mother, my husband, my sons and the girlfriend. The classical guitarist Giovanni DeChiaro, who performed, turned out to be incredibly good in addition to giving a story or some history prior to playing each piece. He had a talent for that as well, with a quirky sense of humor. His story regarding how he got to play for Pope John Paul II was hilarious. To give you an idea of his versatility, these are the musical selections he transcribed and played:

Cancion de Lladre by John Duarte

Ave Maria by Franz Schubert

Leyenda de Asturias by Isaac Albeniz

Minuet (Le Tombeau de Couperin) by Maurice Ravel

Crush Collision March by Scott Joplin

Non-Pareil by Scott Joplin

Rhosymedre by Ralph Vaughn-Williams

Gran Jota de Aragoneza by Francisco Tarrega

Ending on the garden front, despite the wacky weather, I managed to get the vegetable garden that stood last year waist-high with weeds, rototilled by my son. I planted whatever seed packets I bought last year and didn't have time to plant, then hoped for the best. I now have yellow beans, yellow squash, leaf lettuce, radishes and parsley growing. I also have window boxes and various containers with flowers, but I bought those in flats, started in a greenhouse somewhere in Canada. Next week, my mother and I will go on our yearly Veterans Hospital greenhouse shopping trip for tomato and perennials and lunch in the Foxhole Cafe.

If this seems like all is well, for now I'm self-censoring and trying to be careful, grateful, even mildly at peace, despite the down times and drama. You know, the times when living it is so draining that even the thought of writing and/or ranting about it, tires you out. Thanks to those of you who listened in the past few months and encouraged me; I hope you know who you are.

I feel better when I write about the things going through my head. Yesterday I made plans to get up at five. This morning I laid on the couch for a while before heading into the kitchen. I didn't have big plans for the morning, but I went on a steaming spree so now I have cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, parsnips, and peas ready to go. I made chicken, stuffed peppers, I roasted a batch of cauliflower, and I made sweet potato fries that didn't really turn out the way I expected them to, but were still very good.

Last week a girlfriend of mine had sent me an email. We set up today as a time we could chat, and I had a wonderful conversation with her that spanned some new topics for both of us to follow up on. This woman is a former veternarian. She's from Mexico, and she's being taken advantage of by the company she currently works for so I'm glad she applied for an opthamology fellowship. She said there were about thirty applicants for the spot, she was a bit intimidated by some of the younger women who seemed more poised, and prettier. We talked about going to the gym, how we both used to do it, we talked about vegetarianism, her family still eats a plant based diet, and how we both tend to make excuses for ourselves rather than taking action.

Although I had sunscreen on during soccer, sitting through two games was a bad idea. My left arm is the color of rare steak. I have other red parts as well, overall it was enjoyable to watch my children play. My youngest is much better on offense than she is on defense, and I'm glad she got some playing time in that position. She really wants to be the MVP, it's been frustrating for her because there were probably games that she could have gotten it, she's timid, and I think that hampers her ability to play better. My oldest had a pretty good game too. Both girls have told us that they don't really want to play soccer, they'd rather do other things, but we told them that they can do other things when we see them putting forth a good effort and having a good attitude about soccer.

There's a YouTube video that reminds me of the girls. In in, a character is given outrageous things to do, and whenever he complains, he gets more ridiculous commands. Eventually he accepts the things he has to do, and then no more orders are given. Life is full of things I don't really want to do. I read something about flexibility and the ability to change being a characteristic that people want in an employee. When kids complain in After School Care, I tell them I'm not really interested in whining, and try to redirect the conversation because life is fleeting, and the small things we complain about could be replaced by scenarios that are much worse. We have the capacity to change our attitudes, and I'm trying to become more aware of how my attitude has been negative in the past with an eye to improvement.

I had a lot of really neat Twitter conversations last night. Today a pharmacist wrote an article that I particularly liked, it seems I stumble across people who write incredibly well, and I'm humbled that I have some of the friendships I do because I'm not really sure why some people are bothering to interact with me. I talked to my mom this morning about the situation with my step-brother and my daughter. She was a bit chilly, but I thought that the conversation went better than I had expected it to. This morning I made a bag of mixed vegetables. I also steamed a bag of green beans, and I served those for breakfast this morning along with salt, pepper, and butter. I'm really tired of the junk my kids are exposed to. I can't do anything about the food when they leave home, so I'm making nutritious food available to them when I can.

The girls didn't do their dishes last night so they ended up having to ride their bikes to school. It's supposed to rain later on, I'll have my bike too, but we're all washable, and we dry well too. My youngest left her soccer uniform top in my car along with her cleats, shinguards, and socks. I'm leaving it there for her to worry about because she's not learning anything when I pick up after her. Yesterday we were ten minutes late for church because we were waiting for her to get ready. She has a tendency to procrastinate, and from now on, that's her problem, not mine.

I feel really good about this summer. The girls aren't signed up for any programs, so we have the summer to ourselves, and I'm hoping that we can do a lot of swimming, reading, biking, hiking, and getting together with friends. In my opinion, things I've done in the past are starting to transform our lives at home. Most of this change has been for the better. I thought the girls had taken some money from me, then I realized that they could have, but there was no way to prove that they had, so I'm going to have to return the money I took out of their accounts earlier. That was a good experience for me. I feel a bit foolish now, but I learned from my mistakes, so hopefully I won't repeat it again.

This morning my daughter went to sit on the couch. She does that sometimes, as if she needs a few minutes to sit there before she can start her day. She put her hair in braids last night so this morning it was full of kinky curls. She looks so different with her hair pulled back, she has a very small face. It's delicate, and feminine. Both of my girls have very long lashes, their eyes are a neat color, and they've picked up some color from being outside this weekend. After soccer we played a family softball game. I hit an out of the park home run which was unexpected. My youngest was pitching, she's actually quite good, better than my oldest who plays softball. My youngest is still afraid of the ball, but her courage has grown. I was nervous about her getting hit with a ball. She stood in front of a tree to pitch, and fortunately the only injury was to my oldest daughter's ego after her little sister's team won.

Since my oldest had been cooperative, and gotten her chores done, we took her out for mini golf Saturday night. She beat her father, she was proud of herself, and I was proud of her. My father-in-law golfs, and I'd like for my oldest to be able to spend time with her grandparents doing something they both enjoy. A while back a friend of mine asked about a bobble head day at Miller Park. I said he could have mine if he bought me a ticket to the game. Today I saw the envelope with my tickets, my oldest daughter is going with me, and I'm super excited for her to see our seats. My friend spent extra so we could get nice seats, and I think she's going to love being there even if she has to give up her bobble head figure.

I have a long ways to go, but it's nice to see that I'm trending in the direction I want to be moving in these days. I'm calmer, less sad, less angry, less easily upset, there's a lot of things that I just can't really care about right now. I have to scale back, take good care of myself, and that means making better decisions. Yesterday I was very hungry at soccer even though I had packed a substantial lunch. I borrowed money from my youngest, and I was tempted to grab candy, but I bought an apple instead. I was still hungry, but that took the edge off, and now I can feel good about modeling the kind of judgement I want her to have in front of her. I have to work today, I'm really looking forward to seeing the kids after a long weekend. Last week was horrible, this week is already starting off on a better note, and I'm going to keep setting my alarm for five until I don't need the reminder anymore. More on my mind, but it's lunch time here.

Take care,

jess

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