"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

And to all...


Forgive me, Mr. Claws. I'm afraid I've made a terrible mess of your holiday.

I’ve leapt into the 90s with this quote. I do love me some Nightmare Before Christmas.

2023 has been busy and surreal. On the plus side, we were all kept running to vacations, to weddings, to engagements and activities galore. On the minus side, there was a minus side.

I think it’s all going to even out with enough miles behind us.

We do have a new member of our family this year. We are fostering a delightful 10-year-old Cairn terrier named Nessa. Think Toto from the Wizard of Oz. She is still quite spry for her age and has told our 2-year-old Corgi Piper that she wears the crown in this group. Nessa’s owner is sadly quite ill, so we are treating this foster like an adoption unless a miracle happens, and the owner is capable of taking care of her again.

Trips, so many trips this year. We were in Big Bear for a wedding, Chicago for a library conference, and Temecula for another wedding. We also took our week in the mountains, which was delightful, came home to repack and fly off to Hawai’i. We were on the big island in Kona with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephew, plus all of my sister-in-law’s siblings and their families. We didn’t really do any touristy stuff, but I enjoyed the feeling of being in this big chaotic jumble of a family, not to mention all the food.

Dale got to go to Angels’ spring training camp, where he did a lot of ushering. There were a couple of nights when I had dinner at Craftsman Pizza and tried to find him on TV during the game. Alas, I never did. He also volunteered at the U.S. Open Golf Tournament, although he missed this year’s Boston trip to play golf with his friends. His mom is requiring a lot more help these days and he’s been on-call to take care of her, our developmentally disabled cousin who lives with her, and the house they live in. He still manages to golf and to coach a team in the local parks and recreation basketball league.

And I see him every now and again.

My year started off strong. I had an author booth at a lot of festivals, I was guest speaker at the National Federation of Women’s Clubs Convention, which was thrilling, and Dhani and I finished in the Top Ten at the AQHA Level 1 West Championships. And then my semi-routine mammogram discovered breast cancer. It was Stage 0, contained, and all I had to have was surgery. No radiation, no chemo, just five years of monitoring and hormone-blocking meds. The next time you see me, I may have grown a beard.

Marcus is still working the day job at Cal State Long Beach while he plants himself in the world of barbershop. It seems that the Newfangled Four are constantly traveling around the country singing, competing, and making goofy videos. They came in 6th at this year’s International Barbershop Competition, and vow that next year, they’re aiming for the top. He’s also still in two choral groups, but I’m afraid his days as part of Westbeat have come to a close. I will miss seeing him perform in Downtown Disney, but a guy’s gotta pace himself. In the meantime, he’s having fun as an amateur bartender, whipping up unusual and tasty concoctions. I may have to hire him for my next soiree. 

In the Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter tells Alice she’s lost her muchness. “You used to be much more…muchier.” I’m thinking these days about the muchness of life and how many times I didn’t do something because I was overwhelmed by how much energy it took. Then COVID came along and I realized how many things I missed out on because I thought I’d get to them later. And this year, going through breast cancer, I wondered if I’d have a “later.”

So, don’t wait. We know life is fragile but it’s hard to believe when we’re sitting here, hale and hearty. Take the vacation. Go to the concert. Stop by the little shop you admire. Invite a friend to join you. Use up every scrap of every minute of every day. To quote Auntie Mame: “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”


Fill your plate!

The Carlines

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