Finnegan. Please begin again.

So much began with Finnegan, the cat.  He unknowingly facilitated our relationship with the historic house on the May River and our happy years there.  I’d say he was the ”catalyst” for all that but it’s a bit too punny.  Even for me.

Finnegan was plucked from the old house because one member of his original family was seriously allergic to him.  Word went out that he needed a new home.  Our son and his family adopted him.  He thrives in their midst.  Some might say that he over-thrives.  Finnegan is, well, shall we say, fat.  Quite fat.  Adorably, deliciously so.

As the Mister and I move out of the old house, our son and his family are moving in.  Finny is going home.  We hope he’ll enjoy the cool river breezes and fishy marsh smells.  Just like he did.  Once upon a time.

But now this.  Finnegan is sick.  Too sick to recover.  He won’t make the trip back to his original haunt.  His family must let him go where he won’t be in pain.

So, Finnegan won’t begin again.  At least in the corporal sense.  But I’d put money on his ghost showing up.  That old house doesn’t forget anything or anybody.  Especially a cat who was, and now we can say it, the catalyst for so many happy times.

Finnegan.  Rest in peace.  You were loved.

Headlines from our Local Newspaper

 According to a recent article in the Island Packet, the staff of the town of Hilton Head has been asked to “define a garden shovel in legal terms.” Doesn’t that sound like a silly assignment?   Surely it’s a waste of time and taxpayer’s money.  Just imagine all those group outings to Lowe’s and Home Depot?  Measure here, weigh there?

It’s actually serious business and one we applaud and endorse.  You just have to dig underneath the headlines to understand its importance.

See, we’re all about our sea turtles.  Especially the newborns.  The hatchlings can easily get trapped in deep holes dug by big shovels as they take their inaugural journey from nest to sea.  Hilton Head has an outstanding program to help them on their way. One deep hole can undo a lot of good work.

But back to the headlines. I’m not at all sure why garden-sized shovels have a place at the beach to begin with.  Is this a macho thing?  My kid’s shovel is bigger than yours?  Our family’s hole is deeper than yours?  What happened to sweet little pails and sand scoopers?  No competition.   Just little hands playing in the sand.  The discussion of big shovels at our beaches should be fodder for discussion itself. 

So the not-so-silly task is worth all the time and effort it may take.  We’ll put our trust in the Town of Hilton Head to burrow deep down to the bottom of the matter.  One tiny scoop of sand at a time.

Me and My Blog Site

Yes, I have a site for this blog.  We wouldn’t be together right now if I didn’t.  But that doesn’t mean that I understand anything about its inner workings.

 To wit:  I scrolled down into unknown territories the other day and found the following:

“Yoast SEO has not fetched your site’s indexability status from RYTE.”

Well, now.  Should I be happy?  Worried?  Scared?  Curious?  Alarmed?  Offended?

 I decided to parse the sentence.  I quite like the word “fetch.”  It conjures up my West Virginia heritage.  As in: “I’ll fetch the paper.” Or: “We fetched that old dawg from the pound.”

I still don’t know why Yoast or SEO haven’t fetched my indexability.   More to the point, I don’t know what my indexability is and why it matters.  See, that’s what concerns me.  

 Somebody knows something that I don’t.  A lot of people know things that I don’t know.  That’s not new.  I just sort of wish I knew what it was that they know that I don’t.

I suppose it’s a bit like a party that everyone’s been invited to but me.  I don’t necessarily want to go to the party but I sure wish I’d been invited.  

Image of equally confused being – courtesy of moodlytics.com

Wait!!!!

Was that my mother??? 

Barreling down I-95 with her car on fire? ?

With sirens screaming and cars honking ????

And, according to the newspaper article, trying desperately to make it to Wendy’s before the inevitable explosion????

Yes.  Yes, I think it was.

It wasn’t the car that tipped me off.  It was the destination.

If you knew my mother you’d know that she’d have done almost anything or gone almost anywhere for a Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger and a Chocolate Frosty.  I could almost hear her:  “Damn the torpedoes and the flaming car.  I want my Wendy’s.”

Okay, so she’s changed her ghostly behaviors.  No more of those sweet, gentle, fruity aromas, stirring me from deep sleep and then drifting softly away.   No, she’s gone big-time. 

Can’t say I blame her.  Probably no Wendy’s where she is and she did love them so.  

It is reported that the driver escaped from the flaming car. (Of course, she did.)  And is still missing. (Of course, she is.)  The Highway Patrol is mystified. (Of course, they are.)

If only they’d asked me.  That big smoke screen created by the explosion?  I could have told them that it was also a great escape route for a skilled, dedicated and determined ghost.

Yep, that was my mother all right. 

May the peace….and the occasional Wendy’s…be with her.

Fetishes

      

Funny how they come and go.

So, I’ll back up before I begin.

The Mister ruled over our checking account for years.  The monthly balancing act was never pretty.  According to him, I had a laissez-faire approach to specific dollar amounts and detailed reporting.

In an attempt to save our marriage, I wrested the checkbook from him and soon developed my own fetish about bank statements.  Specifically, their bottom line versus mine.  They had to balance.  To the penny.  Hours could be spent making the disparate amounts jive.  The further apart they were, the more intense it got.  

But now?  Well, the fetish has seriously waned.  I lost interest (no pun intended) in the whole thing a few months ago.  Now, I can’t bear to look at a bank statement.  “Balance” is a word of the past. The checking account is the chaos that it appears to be.

My dear Aunt Mary, from whom many good memories flow, had a banking system that worked for her.  She had two accounts.  She paid bills from one until it was a true mess, switched over to the second while the first straightened itself out, went back to the first so the second one, now a mess, could fix itself.  And on it went.   She left this life without an adding machine, calculator, or any other means of balancing her bank statements.  And she was one of the happiest people I ever knew.

She was a great role model and I’ve made a decision to follow in her foot steps. I’m feeling so much happier already and The Mister can have the checkbook back anytime he wants it.  Sooner would probably be better than later. 

Image thanks to GOBankingRates.com

How Easy Is That?

We always say that when something new comes along to make life better.  Easy is the big sell.  And so it is with my jazzy new car. 

It came with bunches of bells and whistles, beeps and whimpers.  Most of which I neither want nor understand.  They scare me, truth be told.  But, and this is a big but, I am quite enamored of my new gas tank.

The latch to the tank on my old (sweet and beloved) car always stuck.  Then, the cap needed pliers to twist it off.  The Mister Rube-Goldberged a fancy tool for me, out of a beer can no less, which helped a bit.

But now! Voila! The new car’s gas latch opens with the touch of a finger and there is no gas cap.  It’s revolutionary.  And just that easy.

It reminded me of an old ditty which my father, a kind and gentle man of word and deed, told me years ago.  I quote it here because it has relevance to my gas tank.  (Warning:  it has a word or two than may offend.  So, stop right now if you’re afraid.)

The little poem praises and extols a similarly revolutionary product of almost 200 years ago: Borden’s first can of condensed milk. 

 It goes like this:

Here by the kitchen sink I stand.
A can of Borden’s in my hand.
No tits to pull,
No tails to twitch.
Just stick a hole in the sonofabitch.

Fast forward 200 years: different product, revised ditty, same joy.

Here by the gasoline pump I stand.    
A snaky nozzle in my hand.
No latch to pull,
No cap to twist.
Just stick a hose in the sonofabitch.

How easy is that?

BoyOhBoy

               

What’s a girl gotta do to get a little peace and quiet around here?   Wouldn’t you think that would be easy in a community designed for a somewhat “mature” population?  That those years of loud, crazy carousing and partying might be things of the past?

So, how come it’s just the opposite? At least in our little cottage, right here on a supposedly quiet street and lovely lagoon?

The noise level is right up there.  I’d give it a 9 or 10 on some sort of scale.  I sincerely regret to report that it’s our neighbors.  Right next door.  Just a few yards away, to be specific.

We’ve discovered…the hard way…..that nearly everyone knew about them.  Except, of course, us.  Maybe that’s why we got a really nice house that others had declined.  Maybe things will change but I doubt it.

Apparently, Blue Herons, in nesting season, are widely known for their raucous screeching, fussing, and squawking.  The ones next door are no exception.

A simple homecoming, “Hi, Honey, I’m home,” can trigger earsplitting chaos: You’re late. Where have you been?  Is that lipstick on your feathers?  You left me here to sit on these eggs all day without so much as a minute to myself.  And don’t think I didn’t see you do a fly-by in front of that pretty little egret.

Yes, they’re loud.  Very, very loud.  But enough said about that.  They are magnificent creatures and we are delighted to have them nesting on our neighbor’s roof. 

We’re looking forward to the babies’ arrival.  I think she is, too.  Him?  Well, we’ll have to see how that goes. 

Image thanks to blipfuzz.com

Graduation

              

We were lucky….or unlucky….enough to have had three graduations this past weekend.  One in Atlanta.  One in Colorado.  And one right here at home.  No travel.  No hotels.  Being the anti-travel-ists we are, we chose the latter.

It was a sweet ceremony.  Small school, great kids, nice families.  We sat in the front row and observed the graduating seniors, as visions of parties, nap time, and summer filled their heads.

As it turned out, Oprah….yes, that Oprah….was delivering the commencement speech at the Colorado graduation.  I’ve since learned her talk was fabulous.  How could Oprah be anything but? 

The young man who gave the commencement address here, on Hilton Head, is as un-known as Oprah is known.  If all goes well, that will change.

His name is Reid D’Amico.  He graduated from the same school as our granddaughter, in 2011.   And, to paraphrase Dr. Seuss; “Oh, the places he’s (already) been and the things he’s (already) done.” 

You can look up his “stuff” on Google, if you want. He’s impressive.

He addressed the seniors of the graduating class of 2019.  He also, unwittingly, addressed two other seniors in the audience.  The Mister and me.

He speaks from experience, difficulty, and intelligence.   He tells you right off that he has Cystic Fibrosis which, as he says, is a terminal disease.  That’s tough stuff.  He adds that he’s a gay man in a world and business that is not necessarily pro-gay.  Also tough.  He says all of this lightheartedly and you know that he will survive.  And thrive.

In his talk, he told the seniors to develop a passion.  To know themselves as individuals.  And when they fail…and they definitely will.…to fail loudly.

We’ve always been told to develop our passion and recognize the strengths of our individuality.  But the “fail loudly “thing?  Never heard that before! 

We like that a lot and shall, indeed, make loud noises not if , but when, we fail in the future. 

So, be prepared to cover your ears.  The sounds may be deafening but we got permission from a young man who deserves to be heard.  Loudly and clearly.

It Was Music To My Ears

At least, that’s what it sounded like when the Mister said he wanted to go shopping.   For some new clothes.  For himself.  And did I want to go with him?  You bet your bippy I did.  He rarely, very rarely, invests in new things for himself and I wanted to be there. To see the transformation for myself.

He’s very generous when it comes to me and asks me, quite often, if I want some new things.  Mostly, I don’t but it’s nice to be asked. 

In our new surroundings, the gentlemen are required to wear jackets to dinner most nights and there are some pretty snappy dressers around here. They set a high bar.  So when he suggested a shopping trip to kick up his wardrobe, visions of a spiffy silk jacket, a brightly striped shirt or two and maybe some off-white pleated linen pants danced through my head.  A little Ralph Loren here; a touch of Tommy Hilfiger there.  Both he and the closet were headed for a makeover.

But, were we really going to go all  “out with the old and in with the new?”  At this point in our lives?  Hope springs eternal.  Just not on a fast trajectory. 

After much looking, peering, assessing and fussing, we came home with a blue and white seersucker jacket and a pair of khakis.  His old stained seersucker jacket and one frayed pair of khakis had to bite the dust but those fresh colors I’d thought I’d see on his side of the closet?   They’re still on the rack in the store. We “replacement” shopped. I should have known.

So the closet didn’t get a makeover.  Neither did he. Actually, I’m glad all that’s over.  Wasn’t sure who that person was.  Certainly not the Real Mister.  White-pleated pants, indeed.  I’ll take his old khakis any day.

Music to my ears image thanks to Music-U.com

Come Sit…..

Had a bad hair day?  Your dream vacation didn’t quite meet expectations? That long awaited, painstakingly planned wedding went slightly awry?  The soufflé fell?

If any of those things have come your way recently, then please come my way.  Sit down, spit it out, spill the beans, let it rip.  You’ll feel better and so will I.

The best dinner parties I ever went to ended up with” Worst Vacation Ever” story- telling.  Without exception, they were camping trips.  We’d weep and hold our tummies tight.  From the laughter, of course.

So, if your super-planned, dot-every-I and cross-every-T event went according to schedule, tell me that it did and quickly move on to another topic.  I’ll be happy for you and we’ll just leave it at that.  But if there were blips, oopsies, or mini-disasters, well, that’s another story and one I hope you’ll share with me.

That may sound morbid but know I’m in good company.  Alice Longworth Roosevelt famously said: “If you haven’t got anything nice to say, come sit next to me.”

As far as I’m concerned, the good stuff happens in the less-than-perfect world,   Anyone can do perfect.  Surviving the imperfect makes for a much more rewarding and interesting life. 

So, bring it on.  Sit down and share. We’re sure to have fun

And may your Mother’s Day be perfectly imperfect. Or imperfectly perfect. Happy, in any event.

Candy as Metaphor


Sometimes you feel like a nut.

Sometimes you don’t.

I like Almond Joys.  Not Mounds.  In other words, I feel like a nut. 

That’s due somewhat to my taste in candy bars but more importantly to my relationship with word processors and printers.  Hence, the (very) broad-based candy reference.

Our first “word processor” was a manual typewriter (most likely an Underwood).  It had no backspace and I failed typing class.  As a result, there was always great angst, loud swearing and a considerable amount of wasted paper.

The next typewriter/word processor was electric (Corona, I think) but every time you hit the “x” it went on a rampage and wouldn’t stop until you pulled its plug.  Angst. Swearing.  Wasted paper. 

Number three was an early, very, very early, word processor.  A beta-product, if you will.  It was an Exxon Qyx.  Seriously! Anything but user friendly. More angst, swearing and wasted paper.

I never mastered the wretched, and ultimately ill-fated, Qyx and should have realized right then and there that the world was going to be clearly divided into two groups.  The technologically with-its and the not-so-with-its.

Now of course, there’s no paper to waste in our so-called paperless society.  But the level of angst and swearing have filled the gap so we’re right back where we started.

I still feel like a nut.

Brain Waves


We have a wonderful local resource for people with memory issues.  Called “Memory Matters,” it is blessing for those who need it.

They administer a free memory test to the public. I know many people who’ve taken it.  And actually remember that they did.  It’s called MocCa….short for Montreal Cognitive Assessment. 

There’s another brain assessment test out there.  MENSA.  That one’s for really, really, over-the-top smart people.  A local magazine runs a mini-MENSA test in each issue.

I got confused last month, thought the magazine said mini-MoCa, and decided to test myself.  Thus opening the door to trouble. And a great deal of self-doubt.

The first question was: “Add an R to a word that means a geographical feature and find a word that means something to put over an object.”  The answer was not immediately apparent.  It came to me the next day.  Way too late to qualify for success or intelligence.

The second question was much easier, or so I thought. “If a weird grocer charges 11 cents for a cucumber, and tomatoes and pumpkins each cost 9 cents, what will a squash cost?”

My answer:  squash and cucumbers are long and skinny and tomatoes and pumpkins are round and fat.  So a squash will cost 11 cents.  I felt really good about that one. 

Another possible answer:  A squash is a veggie, like the cucumber.  The others are fruits.  The answer is still 11 cents.  Except for the fact that a cucumber is a fruit.  Little known fact to some of us who were desperate to get a correct answer.

Both were wrong, of course.

It seems that particular grocer, according to the MENSA people, charges one penny per consonant and 2 pennies per vowel.  Ergo, the squash will cost 8 cents.

I mean, really.  How does a person think like that?  By being super-smart, I guess.

My takeaway?   Stay away from brain tests.  Mini or otherwise.  Ignorance is, indeed, bliss.

Test answer sheet image thanks to southside.edu

Roomies

                 

Once upon a time, when I went off to college, into that brave, scary new world, far away from home, I had absolutely no idea who’d be sharing my room, my bathroom, my desk and my closet.

What would I do if my roommate snored?  What if I snored?  What if she wants to stay up till two in the morning and I want lights out at nine pm?  What if she plays sports and I play the piano?  How would I cope? 

But I really didn’t give a whole lot of thought because that was just the way it was.   Once upon a time.

Not so in today’s world.  Social media has stepped in to help take the “scary” away.  Savvy, newly accepted freshman get cracking ASAP.  They contact other newbies they think they might like.  Through Facebook and other sources.  They compare notes, clothes, interests, colors.  When the stars align, they decide to room together. Then THEY inform the school.  Not the other way around.

Their parents cyber-meet. The new “roomies” continue to FB and instagram, cementing the relationship.  Friends from the get-go.

My freshman college roommate and I were assigned to each other.  She was, indeed, a true hockey-jock and I, truly, played the piano.  She was from a preppy little town in Massachusetts; I was from the hills of West Virginia.  Her parents drove her to school; mine sent me and my steamer trunk on a train.  She’d never uttered a four letter word; I swore like a sailor.

We most likely would never have said the first hello to each other if the school hadn’t put us in the same room.   Hockey fields and the music department were worlds apart. 

But we managed just fine.  Better than fine.   And to this very day.

If things had been different and chance hadn’t been allowed to play its role, we’d each be absent a good, and genuine, friend.  And that would have been a crying shame.

Picture of incoming frosh courtesy of virginia.edu.

Competition


Must it always be thus?  “Anything you can do I can do better“?

As one born with no athletic ability whatsoever….and no interest at all in altering that……I know what it’s like to be the last one standing when a team is picked.  To be left sitting on the bench.  Sent back to the locker room so as not to take up space.

Maybe it’s just the way of the world.  The pickers choose and the “pickees” wait. Sitting outside the circle.  Hanging on for dear life.

I know it’s fun to win, but I also know it’s even more fun to help others win.  “Enabling” may be a bad word but “enabling” someone else’s fun and confidence isn’t bad at all.  It’s quite lovely and frequently much more rewarding than victory. 

So, can we give up the pressure of one upsmanship?  Finally? At our age? 

Can we just have fun? Quit with the competition stuff?  Sit back and enjoy the sweet taste of win/win? 

Perhaps it’s just this simple:

Good: Be in the game.

Better: Do your best.

Best: Help others do their best.

Just musings from the bench.


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Brand Loyalty


I am brand-loyal.  For me, it’s always been Duke’s Mayonnaise, Grey Poupon Mustard, Campbell’s Tomato Soup, Velveeta Cheese.  I don’t even have to think about it.  The Mister, well….not so much.   He’ll go for the generic every time.  Says it saves some money.  That there’s no difference.  But I know there’s a difference.  And no one can tell me otherwise.

When you’re loyal to a brand, you expect your brand to be loyal to you.  To respect those years of togetherness.  To honor the joys of co-dependency and co-existence.

So when that trust goes awry, there’s deep disappointment.

Such was the case when I recently opened…..and I use that word loosely….my new roll of Glad Cling Wrap.

They changed the packaging and the new “how to open” directions were in a print too-small-to-read. The next bad came when I tried to start the roll.  Always a challenge but they messed with that, too. Fingernails and magnifying glasses helped. But the worst was yet to come.

The Glad people have apparently taken the term “Cling” to a whole new level.  The new-and-improved product has developed a monastic, sybaritic relationship with itself.  It only shakes its own hand.  Only serves its own master.  Which is to say it clings only unto itself.  With itself.  And all by itself. With nary a thought to its intended purpose.

I’m going to have to turn-tail and switch to another brand.  I regret that. But if it goes badly, there’s always waxed paper and rubber bands.  Our mothers, and theirs before them, got along with that just fine.  So can we.