Terror on Halloween

Cinnamon and I were hiding out in the TV room, with the house dark, hoping to evade the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. I didn’t know if there were any or if there were hundreds of costumed munchkins and I didn’t particularly want extra candy hanging around because we all know that it would disappear and how it would disappear. While we waited out the onslaught, I decided to roast some eggplant for a dish that I will make tomorrow.

The back of this house backs up to a big berm of trees between the yard and the Monon Hiking/Biking Trail. Clearly the connection from the trail to the house has been disguised and discouraged, so no fears there. This neighborhood is a very normal, middle-class, large-tree-filled neighborhood—identical to the one I lived in. I am a trusting person in general and often leave doors unlocked when I am home. I mostly leave doors unlocked when I am home.

12191738_10153183618541200_1678265871964965910_nSo, long after the threat of the last trick-or-treater was gone, Cinnamon and I heard a huge CRASH that sounded to me like a metal door had just been forcibly smashed to the floor. Doggie went roaring out, barking like crazy and I just instinctively followed her. I didn’t plan anything, but in mind, I thought, well, this is it….something really bad is about to happen. I fully expected to confront a person in the house. I was beyond scared…to the point of calmly accepting whatever was going to happen next. It was a wildly eerie feeling.

I knew by the intensity of the sound that whoever/whatever made it, that I would be no match for whatever they/he/it had in mind. So I went to meet my fate with my protector dog barking ahead of me. [As I write this, it sounds rather stupid, but it’s what happened.] Now, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have fought or screamed or tried to prevent being hurt, but I knew I just had to go out and deal with it. I suppose hiding would have been an option, but that didn’t occur to me at that moment. My fate awaited. I went to meet it.

Locked front door was intact. Unlocked back door was intact. I locked it. We both walked around the whole house and tried to figure out what had happened. Nothing. Then BAM! I figured it out. The very thick metal cookie sheet upon which I was roasting the eggplant had bent/snapped like they sometimes do when they get very hot in the oven. Oh.My.God. It had been SO LOUD. That had to be it, though. No other explanation.

So, the ghosts and goblins (and Elsa’s and Anna’s) are hopefully all home, and I’m going to go cook some dinner. Will I leave the door unlocked again? Yup. I’ve never let scary things take away my desire to live a free life. And besides, I have Cinnamon (pseudonym used to protect her identity) to protect me.  We’ve both moved on already.

Work and Not Work

Tonight, as I was driving ‘home’ from work, I came to a quick realization: Home is wherever I am that isn’t at work. I realized that my life is divided into two categories on the physical plane: Work and Not Work. Work is finite: one school building. Not Work used to be finite for the last 26 years as I drove home to the same house. Not Work now happens to be different houses but that doesn’t seem to affect me at all. I always have a place to go, make dinner, sleep. All my basic needs are taken care of.

Pan Am MECome to think of it, for 14 years early on in my adult life Work was not a finite location when I was a flight attendant. I flew in different planes, stayed in different hotels, worked with different co-workers, ate different food, saw different surroundings. So, for now, I’ve just switched those life roles around. HA. I’ve not thought of that until this very minute. I just cracked myself up again. [I just added this picture, because, why not?]

I think one’s philosophies must be tested to see if they are truly ours or we are just spouting what we’ve heard elsewhere. I’ve never been comfortable calling the trees and plants at my house MY trees and MY flowers. In fact, the phrase MY house always seemed a bit weird to me. In the Hindi language, possession of something is a much more elusive concept. A phrase that describes an object being NEAR you is used as ownership because, really, what does owning something really mean? Things are today near us and then later they are not. I’ve come to accept that philosophy.

So. I often wondered how I would feel when I left MY house and MY gardens and trees…the place I raised my girls, the gardens I designed myself. Would my heart break? How would I really feel when I left it all?

I drove away and never looked back. The sense of possession really wasn’t there because none of it ever ‘belonged’ to me in the first place. It was a space that we inhabited for a while and I worked on making it a comfortable place for my family of three and now we’re not there. And now I am here. And next week, I’ll be over there. And the next week, I’ll be someplace else. And life is good. And I am happy. And I am VERY happy that I have a place to come ‘home’ to from Work. Because sometimes Work is very, very hard.

cocoa1P.S. And having this fellow, Cinnamon, to come home to every day is a real plus right now.

Officially Homeless

Person on the phone: May I please speak to Jyoti Rae?
Me: Speaking.
Person: This is the Social Security Department. Did you recently file for Medicare?
Me: Yes.
Person: We see that you put down a post office box number for your mailing address, but nothing for your residential address. We need your residential address.
Me: I don’t have one.
Person: Well, that address means where you are living. Where are you living?
Me: Different places. I have no permanent address at this time.
Person: Well….then….should we put you down as homeless?
Me: Yes, that would be technically accurate.
Person: Thank you very much. That’s all we need. Good luck to you!

ChanceP.S. The ball of fluff in this picture is a very relaxed senior doggie that I have cared for this past week!

Unexpected Benefit of Having No Home

bonfireThe embers are still smoking from last night’s Fire in the Sky bonfire at the top of the hill on Brother Tom’s 40-acre farm. Last night’s party for his Kiwanis’s club was a raging success. Each guest brought a container of chili and all was thrown into a huge cauldron hanging over a fire for a shared Chili Extraordinaire. The massive bonfire capped off the evening and I had it all to myself late into the night with the full moon shining down on me.

chili2This morning as I sit in last night’s chair by the fire, sea planes and pontoon planes are a constant companion as they show off their planes at a Fly-In on Lake James. Adding to the cacophony of country sounds is the squawking of sand hill cranes. I’ve never heard them fly overhead even though my Indianapolis friends say they hear them all the time. I’ve seen several groups glide by this morning, their sound much like Canada geese but much more melodious.

Brother Tom and his wife press their own cider using their own apples. His wife hangs all the laundry to dry on the outdoor clothes lines. Visitors can drive 4-wheelers and/or snow mobiles up and down the labyrinth of trails. [Which I did on Saturday!] They can and freeze their own vegetables and fruits, make their own jams and jellies. Visiting their farm is always a treat and loads of fun.

September has been a fabulous month for this nomad. I had pet sitting gigs through the end of August and I only had one weekend gig in the whole month of September. At first I didn’t see the benefit of such a dry spell. Then it occurred to me—I could travel on the weekends! I’ve made the most of that unplanned discovery, while staying with friends during the week.

JulieI spent Labor Day weekend with my Sister Julie. Miraculously her family had no plans, so Julie, her husband, her high-schooler son and I canoed 8 miles on the Mad River in Ohio. On Sunday we hiked in Hocking Hills State Park and Monday Julie and I had time to do some weeding in her gardens and swimming in her pool. All such activities were usually not possible due to her two sons’ sports schedules, so spending a whole leisurely weekend with them was a real gift.

barn doorLast weekend, I visited with Brother Mike and his wife on his tree farm in Logansport—always a fascinating event. On this trip, I got to watch them and one of their four sons raise and attach a new barn door THAT HE MADE HIMSELF!! Despite having grown up on farms or at least in the country until I went to college, I had no idea that people could make their own barn doors. I watched him cut out the people-entrance door IN the barn door. Next he will make the second barn door (for the newly re-sided barn) and have it in place before winter.

tireThen he showed me the wagon THAT HE MADE!! When I rode on it for a family reunion hayride in June, I had no idea one can buy used tires and a used base and build the trailer bed on the top. Who knew?  I guess viable used tires are not always available because this was one of the tires on the wagon in June. Seriously. I always knew I came from a kooky family, but OMG.

brother mikeOn Sunday we took a wonderful car ride looking for bald eagles (no luck) and visited the Wabash and Erie Canal Museum in Delphi Indiana. At my request, we visited the confluence of two sets of different-directioned train tracks. Small and tiny Indiana towns always provide interesting stories for those with such an interest and Mike knows them all. Brother Mike collects antique tractors (GOBS of them), grows walnut trees, and lives in a completely renovated old farmhouse on a small hill up a tree-lined lane.  He is the story teller of the family and tells “whoppers” as did our grandfather August.

In the month of September I spent time with 3 siblings, 3 in-laws, 5 nephews/nieces, 4 great nephew/nieces. With each visit, I didn’t have to race home to complete household tasks which felt like such freedom. And “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” I feel like I have nothing left to lose. Only things to gain.