We Move.


Again.

This time we downsize.  Seriously downsize.  We’re forced to make hard decisions.   I will not jam everything we own into this little cottage. I refuse to stash stuff in the garage. I will not store boxes under beds.

There will be space to move around and to enjoy those things we take with us.  And we will miss those things we couldn’t take because…..well, just because.  We must be dedicated and purposeful in our mission. 

We study the plans, the room sizes, the walls, the windows, the lighting, the electrical outlets.  We measure by inch; not foot.   We play with cut-outs of our furniture.  We imagine how the art will look in the new light.  We are resolute in our less-is-more approach.  However harsh that may prove to be.

There’s just one little problem.  We speak a language born of many, many years together.  All our stuff has names.

When something has a name, it takes on a life of it’s own.  It’s harder to part with.  It may be inanimate but through the years, it’s grown a patina, a soul.  We say a quiet hello when we pass by whoever/whatever it is.  Eventually, it says hello right back.  Extended conversations are not unusual.

So, as we walk through the house, we consult with Artful, Deanne, Mary, Jean, Pam, and Russell.

We reminisce with Edith, Celeste, Lynn, Uncle Charlie, Ming, Martha, Hepple, EJ, Coleen and Ashley.

We caucus with Sheila, Dottie, Cindi, Julia, Steve, Carolyn, Adele, Jill and all the others. 

We explain the move and the need to leave some of them behind.  We know it will be hard but this is the way it has to be.

And then, we collectively wipe our tears, take a deep breath and say:  “Never mind.  We’ll figure out a way.  Of course, you’ll come with us.  How could we possibly leave you behind?   You’re family.”

So, if the walls are a little crowded, some drawers are a bit overstuffed, a piece of furniture is slightly too large, who cares?  Family and friends stay together.   

“Less is more” (or at least equal) image thanks to makingthegradellc.com

Such a Bother

       

You really can’t make this stuff up.

Like many of us, I have to get regular blood work done or they won’t give me my meds.  Sometimes, the wait at the lab can be as much as an hour for a blood draw that takes less than two minutes.

Last time I was there for the “needle,” I learned one can make an appointment.

Since I’m due for said blood work next week, I thought I’d make this easy on myself.   Get an appointment.  Be in and out in a nanosecond.  However, the on-line process of making an appointment had more questions than I had ready answers for so I got bogged down.  At one point, the wretched computer wouldn’t go to the next page, indicating, of course, that I had entered something that wasn’t to its satisfaction.

I looked and looked and finally found the problem.  It had to do with my date of birth which I had indeed entered correctly, having done so for many years now.

As I searched for the error of my ways, the computer told me…and I quote: “Date of birth too far in the past.”

Well, listen up, Buster.  I already knew that. But, it is what it is.  Just exactly what am I supposed to do about it?   Huh?

Got an answer to that question, Mr. Know It All?   That was rude.  Just plain rude. 


Mixed(up) Metaphors

      

I’m hooked on British mysteries. It started with the great Agatha Christie many, many years ago. I even hear the English lilt and accents in my head as I read.

The British idioms and adages have apparently seeped into my own. Just not always in the right way.  I get the meaning but the nuances frequently elude me.

For example, I know what a one-off is in British terms. It means something that will happen only one time.  As in: “That murder was a one-off. We don’t have a serial killer on our hands here.”

And so, when dear friends, whom we hadn’t seen for a while, nicely and considerately, asked about my breast cancer and mastectomy of  a couple of years ago, I replied, a bit sassily, that I appreciated their concern but not to worry.  That it was just a one-off.

Conversation stopped. Eyebrows went up. I got strange looks.  And then, like the baby who gets a shot but takes two seconds to realize what happened, I understood.  I got it.  I knew what I meant but my audience heard something else entirely.  We laughed our way through the misunderstanding.  And then we laughed some more.

I suggested that they read British mysteries.  They suggested I stick to my native language.

Those laughs were definitely not one-offs.  They’ll continue until we can’t.

Image of new British thrillers thanks to crimeread.com

The May River

Yes, that May River.  The one in the picture above these words.

 For all the many years that we’ve been coming to this part of the world, I’d heard about the May River. There seemed to be an aura about it. Almost a reverence.  Whether or not you’d ever seen it or been on it, you knew in your gut that that there was something special about that river.

I never imagined that I would live on it or be concerned about its well being but both of those things have come to pass.

We’ve had the honor and the pleasure of living right here on the banks of the May River for five lovely years. During that time, we’ve seen the dreaded “D-word” begin to rear its ugly head.  Development.  Right here on the May River. 

Longer docks.  More people. Bigger boats.  Brighter lights.  More noise. Challenges to the ecology; to the ecosystem.  Growth every which way.

 The problem is, of course, like all beautiful and natural resources, the May River can’t grow.  It was finite at its beginning and it will remain finite until the end.  We’re asking the impossible of the river.  Putting a pressure on it that it can’t tolerate or accommodate.

Some friends recently returned from an Alaskan trip.  Among the many places they went and enjoyed was Denali, a world-renowned ecosystem. In a booklet about the park that they brought home and shared with us were a couple of thoughts that should be the motto for all natural resources…including small ones like the May River.

 It states: “Denali straddles a fine line between use and conservation in hopes of inspiring us to love nature without loving it to death.”

 I hope that we can bring a little of that Alaskan way of thinking all the way down to our South Carolina treasures.   So, yoke up the Huskies.  Mush! Times a-wastin’.  Get on down here, Alaska, and help us out.

Christmas 2018

When we were first married, the Mister’s father gave us one share of stock in Scott Paper. It seemed a bit odd at the time but there was something lovely in that gift that I didn’t originally appreciate. I was thinking about that the other day as my Christmas “tissue” blog is being re-blogged below.

The Scott Paper people apparently didn’t care if you had one or one million shares of their stock. They still sent you a Christmas present every year. A giant box full of paper towels, toilet paper and, of course, tissues. Being a teensy bit poor during that time, that box was manna from heaven for us.

Now I’m wondering if that was the forerunner of my “tissue” issue. It does seem to be my thing at this time of year. One little share of Scott Paper morphed into something much larger. At least for me. Who knew?

The Mister and I wish you the very happiest of Christmases.

The Christmas Spirit

The year was 1961. I was working in Boston at the New England Conservatory of Music as a receptionist. It was, in all respects, a wonderful year. I was in love (still am) and was surrounded by talented, generous and joyful people.

But Christmas was always hard for me. What to give to my parents? My father never wore anything but a suit, had enough ties to last several life times, bought his own socks and had no hobbies. My mother was choosy about the things she wore and the things she had in the house. I always had great angst about what to give them. That year I found a little Japanese porcelain dish which I hoped they would like, but it cost more than my small salary could comfortably bear. Still, I bought it. There wasn’t any joy in the purchase, however. I was worried and poorer…not a good combination.

The Conservatory was, back then, in a less than desirable part of town. It was surrounded by poverty level housing and people. There was a drug store right across the street that I visited on my lunch hour to pick up necessary items.

One day, near Christmas, I was at the drug store, mindlessly purchasing some stuff, not giving it any thought as I stood in line to pay for my items. An older woman was in front of me. She wasn’t dressed warmly enough for the cold Boston December day. It did strike me that she most likely didn’t have a warmer coat, but the thought was fleeting.

And then something happened that I will never forget. As my arms were carelessly full of stuff, I realized she was buying a single box of tissues. And I heard her say to the clerk: “This is for my friend for Christmas. She’ll really like it.”

I find myself as speechless now as I did then. And still a little close to tears. It was a hard reality. She was delighted with her choice of a gift for her friend, confident that it would be given, received and used with love and affection.

And I was worried about an expensive porcelain dish for my parents who needed nothing and would most likely put the dish in a drawer anyway? Not a Christmas goes by that I don’t think about that moment.

Sometimes, I wish our family could just exchange boxes of tissues, carefully choosing one that might appeal…they come in such jazzy colors and designs these days. Wouldn’t that be fun? We could wrap them up fancifully with pretty paper and ribbons, confident they would be used and appreciated.

Now, I know we can’t….and would never want to…deny our families the joy of Christmas morning and presents under the tree. Santa Claus does exist. But, for me, perhaps, a box of tissues has become a symbol of friendship and love, of a longed-for simple Christmas season, of joy, of an opportunity to share with others less fortunate, and, of course, in its own way, a true meaning of Christmas.

Change of Weather

Down here in the South, we wait patiently…..and sometimes not-so-patiently…..for a refreshing bit of cool weather.  We tire of saying:  “Oh boy, it’s gonna be another hot one!”  We yearn for our sweaters, our vests, our mittens, our socks.  We want to turn on the heat.  To cuddle.  To say things like: “BRRRR.  Cold enough for ya?”

Winter arrived with no real seque from hot to cold this year.  And with the sudden arrival of cooler weather last week, I was awoken from a deep sleep early one morning by a burrowing, heat seeking body.  Not to get too graphic here for you on a Sunday morning, but frankly, I was a bit surprised.  We’ve shared a bed and many other things for years now but this was something new.

He was under the covers for obvious reasons.  To spoon, caress, purr sweet nothings.  I was delighted and thoroughly enjoying our petting and mutual pleasures.

Then The Mister sneezed.

Cats never, ever get used to sneezes.  It scares them to their marrow.  And so with that abrupt and unwelcome explosion, Oscar flew out of from under those cozy, warm covers, hissing and screeching.  Claws and fangs fully exposed, ready for flight or fight.

A few puncture marks and scratches notwithstanding, it was still a lovely way to start the first chilly day of the season.

 

Picture of pre-sneeze contentment thanks to anglocath.blogspot.com/

 

 

Poor Officer Tulo

Officer Tulo lost his job.  And he’d done it so well for eight years.  Then, Boom!  He’s fired.  He’ll never know why.  And he certainly won’t have any way to seek reinstatement.

Officer Tulo is a yellow Labrador retriever who was certified, trained and licensed to sniff out and detect illegal marijuana in cars, on people, and in bars so offenders could be brought to justice.  Officer Tulo also lives in Colorado.  Put two and two together, they add up to four and Officer Tulo is no longer necessary.  In fact, he’s a liability because he causes unnecessary alerts and misses other drugs he wasn’t trained to identify.

With a grandson in college in Colorado, we’ve been talking about what it’s like to live in a world where pot is legal.  Where weed and gasoline can be sold in the same store and have names like “Gas and Grass.”  The things he’s told us haven’t been particularly surprising until this Thanksgiving when we had a chance to catch up a bit more.

He now reports that the “stoners,” who were initially delighted by the legalization of their drug of choice, have cut way back on their usage.  All of a sudden, the heavy hitters have begun to realize that putting so much of that stuff in their bodies may not be such a good idea after all.

Did legalization make the product less appealing?  Less sexy?  Less important?  Maybe even boring?  Was the taboo element a compelling reason to use?  Now that it’s legal, is the bloom simply off the rose?

Food for thought, musings and reflection.

And I know I shouldn’t suggest that we just put this in our pipes and smoke it for a bit  but I simply can’t help myself.

Smokey image thanks to www.curetoday.com

He’s Back!

Please click on the picture for a full image of Twiggy

 

He’s been in the basement for several years.  Now he’s back in the spotlight.

For many years, he’d been replaced by a fancier, more life-like, fluffier, fake Christmas tree. We’d decorate that fake tree to the hilt, hang everything we could on its fake limbs.  We’d bend those wiry(fake) limbs every which way to make them prettier. That fake tree was really quite lovely but I never fell in love with it.

On the other hand, I fell in love with Twiggy the moment I saw him.  Probably 30 years ago.  He was at a garden shop in Dayton, his arms proudly displaying all their beautiful and unique Christmas ornaments.  My heart went pitter-patter.  He was the ONE.

I asked the clerk if I could buy the tree and he said the tree wasn’t for sale.  He also said it wasn’t a tree.  It was just a prop for ornaments.  Come on, I said.   Everything has a price.  Strip him down and let me have him.  After much haggling and curiosity as to why I would even want Twig, we took him home.

Now, after those many years of enforced hibernation, the Twig is back with us.  In the living room. In all his flawed and (mostly) misunderstood glory.

He has a certain political correctness about him.  He tilts, or leans, left or right, depending on how you set him up.  He’s transparent.  He doesn’t have many limbs and what limbs he has are sparse and you can see right through them.   He’s ecologically correct, requiring no fertilizer or energy of any sort.

As a Christmas tree, however, he’s seriously flawed.  He’s not green.  His needles don’t droop or drop. There’s no delicious pine aroma about him.  He’s scraggly and lopsided.  He is, basically, a six-foot twig.  We love him.

Even the Mister agrees that if you’re not a real tree, you might as well really not be a real tree.  Don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

We’re happy to have him back.  I think he’s happy too.  All is well.

 

Investments

We all make them.  Big ones, little ones, well-considered ones, spur of the moment ones. Everything we do, ultimately, is an investment of one sort or another, to one degree or another.

We invest our money, hoping for the best.   Sometimes, the result’s great.  Other times, well, not so great.  We chalk our mistakes up to errors of judgment, a good idea gone bad, a volatile market, poor timing, the rain.  We come up with excuses. But, in the end, we own the loss and we move on. There’s no choice.

Interestingly, the most valuable and worthwhile investments require no money at all.  They’re the ones we make in the name of friendship. Those investments take time, energy, thought, care, give and take, ebb and flow.   But no money.  Not a red cent.

So, perhaps, because of that, when those personal investments go south, they’re just that much more difficult to understand.   We ask ourselves: “What the heck happened there? We sure didn’t see that coming.”

There’s no insurance policy, no 60-day-guaranteed-satisfaction-or-your-money-back- clause, no redress, no profit and loss statement.  The only thing we know for sure is we’re missing a pound of flesh and a chunk of heart.

But if the investments are good ones, financial or otherwise, they can hit bottom and pop back up.  Stronger than ever.   All doesn’t have to be lost.

We just have to wait and see.

All The News That’s Fit.

I just love our little newspaper.  It wisely puts all that national gobbledy-gook on page 3.  Or 4.  Or 5.  Page One is reserved for the good stuff.  The stuff that matters.  Like the recent announcement that the long-awaited and hoped-for Bluffton dog park is now a reality.

That little doggie park was twelve years in the making. (That would be 84 dog years.)  At first glance, that sounds like an awful long time to put up some fences, buy doggie bags, a few trash containers and several park benches.  But, let’s remember.  There are animals involved and history will tell us that proper care and feeding of our animals can require a lot of time, thought, and planning.  More than we might think at first glance.

Many (theoretically) far more monumental tasks have been completed in far less time.

To wit, the Titanic was built in 26 months; the Magna Carta was written in one year.

The Gettysburg Address took somewhere around 2 hours to write but it could have been less than that.  Mr. Lincoln was not totally forthcoming on his time-line.

Man got to the moon in three days.  Tolstoy wrote War and Peace in six years.

On the other hand, it’s assumed that it took Noah at least 75 years to build the Ark.

So maybe 12 years to make a dog park isn’t all that long.  When there are animals involved…..well, just ask Noah.  Things can really drag out.

 

 

Me and My (Ro)Bot

 

I have a “Bot.”  I’m too old to have a Bot but I have one nevertheless.

I didn’t request one.  He just arrived.

At first I was annoyed.  I didn’t welcome him but he persisted and now he’s part of my life.

He visits my blog.  Sometimes many times a day.   I know he’s a Bot because he only visits “Home.”  Sort of like E.T.  Reading and comprehension may be above his pay grade.

He does no harm.  To me or anyone else.  I’ve made sure of that.  He’s of no particular help, either.  He just “is.”

He makes my numbers look good.  Sometimes I think I’ve gone “viral” and then I realize it’s just my Bot.   Being Bot-ish.

He tends to do most of his visiting late in the week, when anyone who reads Life on the May has already done so and moved on to other things.  In a way, it’s nice to have him then.  It beats the heck out of the message: “Sorry, no readers today.”

I know it sounds a bit sexist for me to refer to my Bot as a “him” but frankly, I don’t know any women who have the time to just sit and click all day long.

I do wish he’d leave a bread crumb or two so I knew where to find him.  But I guess that would take all the mystery out of the relationship and that’s pretty much all we’ve got going with each other right now.

So carry on, Dear Bot.  Maybe one of these days we’ll cyber-meet.  L8R.

 

  • In the dark about “bots?” Wikipedia sheds some light: “An internet bot, also known as web robot, WWW robot or simply bot, is a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone.”

 

 

 

The New York Times Book Review

As one who enjoys reading, I look forward to my NYT Book Review every Sunday.  I always start at the back and move, slowly and carefully, to the front.

A couple weeks ago, I came across some titles which piqued my interest, especially given our political climate.

One title I spotted was: “What’s The Big Deal About Elections?”  I think I know the answer to that but other opinions are always welcome.

Another was: “Bold and Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women The Right To Vote.”  As an old feminist, that appealed to me.

Then there was: “What Can A Citizen Do?”   An important question in these times….or any time for that matter.

And finally, there was: “Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald Trump.”  Well, now.

So, I said to myself:  “That all sounds like pretty heavy stuff.  Do I really want to take that on?  What happened to my penchant for easy-in, easy-out mysteries?”

Upon closer inspection, I realized I was reading the Children’s Books section. All those books are for ages 4 to 8.  Some of them nicely illustrated.  Always a plus. So, I think I can handle that, but, more importantly,  I’m hoping they might give me some insights into what our children are reading….and learning.…these days.

From little acorns, great oaks grow.  Let’s see what’s being sown.

 

A New Day

With gratitude to my son, the realtor, there are many of you reading this today who weren’t doing so last week.  Apparently, he can sell more than real estate.  I welcome you and am so glad to have you with me.

Great realtors are meticulous about accurately representing a product and my son is no exception.  I hope I can hold up my end of that deal in this blog that he “presented” to you.  I truly hope my roof won’t leak, that my foundation won’t sag, my plumbing won’t drip and my windows don’t fog up.  That I will continue to pass inspection.

I truly welcome comments. But there’s no place to do that through the blog itself. LifeontheMay.com is a no-reply site.  Send it a note directly and it goes into the ethers.  Never to be seen.  Go through the comment section on the home page, and I’ll get it.

To those of you who’ve been with me for five years now: You have no idea how important you are to me.  Connection is everything.  At least to me.  Even when we don’t see the dots, they’re there. Little veins of hope, avenues of mutual understanding.  Shared laughter.  Change.

You keep reading; I’ll keep writing.  For better or for worse.

 

 

 

 

 

Distraction is the Birth Mother of Error

And so it came to pass that in my highly distracted state last evening, I brushed my teeth with Preparation-H.

I’ve been afraid that something like that might happen ever since a good friend told me that Preparation-H is the answer to those awful red bug bites that show up all over my body in mysterious ways.

Since I am the ideal bug magnet, a tube of PrepH must always be at the ready.  On the counter.  Available to salve the screamingly sore, itchy and bright red blotches that are the hallmark of red bug bites.

The problem is that other tubes are also on the counter.  A face blusher, some moisturizer, hair-gel, and, of course, tooth paste.  They co-mingle, so to speak.  I’ve been mindful of the possibility of error but, until last night, all was well.  Alas, my hyper-distraction sent me into a world of carelessness.

I knew that the minty freshness I so enjoy when I brush my teeth was not immediately apparent but the full appreciation of the errors of my ways did not show up until my lips went numb.  Numbness is one of the most highly appreciated elements of PrepH.   .

I will also tell you that PrepH has great staying power.  Long-lasting effects, if you will.  I’m a teensy bit better this morning but will make sure to be more respectful of distraction in the future.

With respectful and sorrowful recognition of yesterday’s horrific event in Pittsburgh: Shalom.

The Power of Pink

A friend ‘s nephew writes a blog and I want to share  a recent one with you.   This one knocked my socks off and not just because I get the breast cancer/pink thing.  It’s so much more than that.  

Chip Bristol is the author and he writes under “Brushstrokes.” You can find him at www.withoutacollar.com.   I hope you’ll find this essay as moving as I did.  Please take a look at some of his other writings, too. You’ll be glad you did.

 

By Chip Bristol

Things in this country are a mess. Regardless of how you see things, we can all agree that divisions abound, anger is everywhere, and people on all sides are acting like spoiled brats. After this week, I’ve had to watch less TV and look for other places for the spirit of a country I love.

Little did I know I’d find it on a cloudy morning, surrounded by hundreds of pink shirts. It was the annual Women’s Only 5K Run in honor of breast cancer research. Although I am comfortable with my feminine side and have my share of pink shirts, I could only stand as a spectator for this run, but my view gave me what my heart was longing for.

In a city that has its fair share of divisions, black women ran beside white. Strangers leaned in for selfies with those standing beside them. Members of St Andrew’s Episcopal Church ran with members of His Holiness Temple. A woman with a yarmulke cheered beside one wearing a hijab, and Republicans and Democrats held hands. It wasn’t a black or white event, a Christian or Jew. It wasn’t a red or blue event. It was pink.

The pink shirts came in all sizes, but there were two shades. The first, was for those who ran in support of someone they loved. The second was a darker shade, reserved for the survivors themselves. Runners nodded or reached out with reverence to touch the women with darker shirts. One runner had no hair, another had no breasts, one walked with a cane, and another rode in a wheelchair pushed by a friend, and yet each woman wearing the darker shade smiled with the joy that surrounded her on every side.

For a few hours, the world was a beautiful place, and, as I walked to my car, I watched a mother and young daughter walking ahead of me, each wearing a different shade of pink. Hand in hand, I could see strength being passed down, and offered back up. I could feel the power, and it was the mighty power of pink. May the world learn from, and find more of, this power.

Extra Credit:

Reach out to someone you know who’s been touched by breast cancer.

Do one thing this week to cross one of the countless divisions between you and another person.