A Necessary Transition

“DID YOU HEAR ME?    

I SAID PUT DOWN THOSE PHONES!!!!

AND I MEAN RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND.  YOUR COUSINS ARE HERE FROM VIRGINIA AND THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO CATCH UP WITH THEM. FACE TO FACE.”

How many times have those words been said at family gatherings?    And never more often or more forcefully than at Thanksgiving dinners.

But now, as this “Year Like No Other” continues in its very strange way, we give thanks for those phones.

Now we’re more likely to hear this at our Thanksgivings:  

“DID YOU HEAR ME?    

I SAID PICK UP YOUR PHONES!!!

AND I MEAN RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND.   YOUR COUSINS FROM VIRGINIA ARE ZOOMING AND THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO CATCH UP WITH THEM. FACE TO FACE.”  

Our old friend Norman Rockwell might not fully understand this but he would appreciate our concern for family members and friends.  Keeping them safe, healthy and happy was his goal.  And ours. This year’s the same. Just different.

It’s a Lovely Day in the ‘Hood Today.

No gnats or mosquitoes.  Blue skies.  Temps’ in the 70’s.  

To add to this lovely day, there’s a kid’s regatta out on the sound.  Lots of little ones with their teeny-tiny sail boats.  The competition will be fierce.

And, there’s more! Bags of food sit at the end of nearly every driveway.  No, it’s not a blight on the landscape.  It’s the recognition that we, here, are so terribly fortunate.  Fortunate to live here and fortunate to be able to help those in need. All those bags of food are being picked up later today and delivered to the food bank here on the Island. 

And if that weren’t enough, the truck picking up all that good food will be driven by our son, Chip.   He, and several members of his real estate firm, do this yearly.  They pile in the company truck, gather up all the bags, and help stock the food bank.  And they do all of this with smiles.  They, too, know how lucky they are and they take great pleasure in being able to help those less so.

It is, indeed, a lovely day in the neighborhood.

Stop The World. I Want To Get Off !

That’s always how I’d feel when we’d go to King’s Island, Ohio’s answer to Coney Island.    I went on those outings, not enthusiastically but agreeably.  After all, theme parks are fun.  Aren’t they?

How you answer that question depends on your tolerance for noise, crowds, and big scary rides.  I, personally, have none.  For any of those things. Nada. But we went anyway because that’s what families do.

Families also vote and I have wanted nothing more than to get off the scary vote-counting ride that was our life last week.  But there we were.  In our very own amusement park.  We’d paid our money, put in our two cents and we were going to stay until it was over.

If we’d actually been at King’s Island, we could have ridden the Beast, the world’s longest wooden roller coaster.  Heart pounding ups and downs. Everyone screams, of course. That’s what you do on roller coasters.***

Then, we might pop over to Sling Shot, which launches its riders backwards, 360 feet in the air at 100 mph.  Once you get to the top, it’s head-over-heels time. Over and over. And over. Nauseous.

Delirium, they tell you, will spin you in a 240 degree arc to 137 feet in the air.   Not sure how down happens.  They don’t say.  They also warn that this one is not for the faint of heart.  As if the others are.

Tidy up your day at Drop Tower which zooms 275 ft. in the air.  Then the bottom drops out (of course it does) and you free-fall for 126 stories. All at a rate of 70 mph.

I went back to King’s Island this week. Virtually, of course. I never left the house. I simply turned on the television and hopped on all those rides. One right after the other. I shut my eyes, tight. Sweat poured down my back. My stomach went up and down. My heart skipped beats. I screamed.

All I wanted was for it to be over. But, I must admit it, was one helluva ride.

***You can take a virtual Beast ride at this site.  The old wooden structure is really quite beautiful and fun as long as you’re watching from the safety of your home. The clackety-clack of the wheels on the inclines is quite wonderful. Even soothing. It’s just this click away.

Takin’ the ride drawing thanks to whatsyourgrief.com

Well, here we are.

We’re on the cusp of a momentous election.  On Tuesday night, it will all be over but the shouting.  And the the counting.  And, no doubt, the recounting. 

We voted of course.  Just as we always have.  But, by absentee ballot this year.  So, I hope we voted.  Hard to know for sure.   It’s the first time we’ve not stood in some sort of line, long or short.  Standing in that line, making sure you marked your ballot correctly and getting your “I voted” sticker was always part of the ritual.  You could pat yourself on the back.  Feel good about your role as a citizen.  Go home and await the results.

You knew, you always knew, that no matter the outcome, you’d be in good hands.  Those three branches of government would forever keep us true and firm.  Like a tri-pod, a three-legged stool, we would be balanced.  And strong.  Safe.

But right now, the ground doesn’t feel as solid as it should. It feels tilted. Off-center. This is, indeed, a year like no other. And it is, most definitely, an election like no other.

Ain’t it just the pits?

Nobody wants to be in “the pits” if they don’t have to.  You don’t go there on purpose.  

Unless you are a group of smart women, with a broad base of experience, thought and perspective.  Then being in “the pits” becomes something else entirely.

Not too long ago, a group of women decided to gather.  To talk about politics, issues, and the like.  All from different backgrounds, different political parties, they thought it would be fun to come up with a name for themselves.  One suggested Politically Independent Thinkers.  Another thought that was a great name but, made into an acronym, it became the “PITS.”

And no one wanted to go there.  

Then they, smart women that they are, started to think about pits.

Where would the peach be without a pit?  

Whatever would we do without pit-stops on the road?

Where would the orchestra sit, if not in the pit?

How could we mine stone, coal and minerals without going deep into the pits?

How can you have barbequed ribs without the barbeque pit?  

After some consideration, that group of women decided, wisely and to a one, that pits are an essential and important part of life.    The very core of many good things.

Indeed, they finally said, why not call ourselves the PITS?   They couldn’t come up with a good answer.

And so they did.

TARGETED

Once upon a time, I was targeted.  As in “target-market” targeted.   Stores carried clothes, shoes, cosmetics that were “targeted” to the likes of me. I was of an age when retailers, advertisers and marketers wanted my business.  Happily, I could afford a little more than the bare necessities.  Ergo, I was an economically attractive “target-market.”

Now, some many years later, I’m in a different target-market. All manner of aids are now thrown at me.  Hearing aids, walking-aids, health aids and more.  Not quite as much fun as the other, sexier, market.  But a viable one, none the less.

Now, just when I thought I’d run the gamut of being targeted, there’s Covid. Or more appropriately put, the hoped-for-absence of Covid. Collectively, we want it gone.  Good-bye and good riddance.  The sooner the better. So, we eagerly await a vaccine, targeted directly at that nasty bug.

But while we wait, other responses to eradicate Covid bubble up.  One of those is “herd immunity” which, in its simplest terms, is designed to kill off the weak and enable the strong.

And Boom!  With that, we have a brand new “target market.” And I’m right-smack-dab-in-the-middle of it.  Directly in the crosshairs.  .

The problem is that, with age, I may not be as healthy as I once was.  I could have immunity issues.  Just ask the Foot about my bones. As a result, I may be a reluctant target for that down side of herd immunity.  And that really pisses me off.

I refuse to go down that path easily.  I will not go lightly into that dark hole.  I’m pretty sure there’s another, happier, target-market out there waiting just for me. I don’t know what it is but I surely plan to be there.

Critter in cross hairs drawing by Dan Nelson

To Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749 – 1832)

Dear Mr. Goethe:

You may not know this but I have quoted you, many times, through the years.  It’s just one teeny-tiny little quote but it’s served me well.  Not being a logician, computer guru, scientist, or anything like that, I learn by osmosis. By absorbing. By feeling.  

And so it is that your famous little quote “If you don’t feel it, you don’t get it” has been a mantra for me for many years.  It’s never needed clarification.  It speaks for itself.

But in recent days, when I’ve thought of that little quote, I’ve played with it in my mind.  In one re-arrangement, it can change to “If you don’t get it, you don’t feel it.”  The same but different. 

Now, Mr. Goethe, not to add to your angst but if I twist it around it even further, it might become: “If you get it, you feel it.”   Turn the negatives into positives.

And, to take one more little step into today’s world, I hope that our leaders, specifically those among them who have “gotten it” would then “get it.”

The “it” in this particular case is Covid, of course.  And my hope was that they, through “getting” sick, would surely “get” the loss, the suffering, the economic hardship that this disease has had on our country.  That they’d understand.  That they’d feel it.  Deep in their souls. And that they would “get” the need to “feel” safe and well. And would want the same for others.

Well, Mr. Goethe, happily it does look like the great majority of those who “got” it have indeed “gotten” it.  We see it. And we appreciate it. Others similarly affected? Well, maybe not so much. 

 In the meantime, please hang in there with me, old friend.  I depend on you and your wise words.

Best, as always, Sallie

Political Yard Signs

Ah yes, I remember them well.

Once upon a time, we lived in a community that allowed them.  Even encouraged them. The signs were rampant.  Everybody’s political biases and preferences screamed from their yards. If it needed a vote, it had a sign. Red and Blue co-existed, not just in neighborhoods, but in single yards.

No one cared.  It simply didn’t matter.  Nobody got upset.  No one threw rotten tomatoes or defaced signs.  Really, no one paid much attention unless the signs stayed up until Christmas.  Then there was angst.  But that was more about aesthetics than anything else.  Santas and yard signs didn’t blend in a sightly fashion.

Then, once upon a time in that same community, there was a school/property tax issue.  Money was involved, so everyone cared.  Lines were drawn.  Everyone had skin in the game.   Yard signs were, predictably, everywhere.  Signifying preference and attitude.

It was a spectacularly divisive situation.  Unlike anything we’d ever seen.  Friends took sides against friends.  Many refused to state their position for fear of retribution.  Gatherings were tricky.  In a word, it was ugly.  All of this in a small community which prided itself on its excellent schools.  

The Mister studied the situation, did the math, and suggested a path other than the one that was proposed.   As a result he became the face of one side. He devoted serious time and energy to make the case for what he thought was a better plan.  

Reason and rational battled money and power.  In the end, sound thinking won the vote.  The community and the schools won and that’s what mattered. 

But, we, personally, lost some things in that process.  There were hard feelings. Fractured friendships.  Lasting resentments.

Ah yes, I remember it well. 

I just wish those memories weren’t bubbling up quite so strongly right now.

Where, Oh Where Has She Gone?

How often can you go to a friend’s house, settle in, then abruptly get up from your seat, walk to another room, sit down, relax and be gone as long as you want?

How awkward is that, for the most part?  Won’t people wonder where you’ve gone?  What you’re doing?  Why you left the party/bridge game/ book club?   Are you scoping out the closets? Making sure the windows are clean?  Admiring the jewels?  Trying on some shoes?

No, no, no and no.  

As long as your destination is the Powder Room, the Half Bath, the Loo, The Ladies’ or whatever you choose to call it, you’re welcome to stay put as long as you like.  No one’s going to come knocking on the door.

A good hostess might provide magazines to look at.  Surely there’ll be some nice smelling soaps.  Fresh towels.  A grandmother might have a little step stool for the kiddies to stand on.  

Sometimes the walls are papered with pithy sayings or funny jokes.  Or pictures of children, animals, hobbies.   Maybe some crazy-wild wallpaper.   Powder Rooms seem to be concentrated, condensed reflections of the people who live there.

I can remember nearly every Powder Room I’ve ever been in.  I know exactly where they’re located in my friends’ houses.  I know what’s on the walls.  I know the color scheme, the ambience.  

I also think I’ve been cooped up for too long. When I start mooning over Powder Rooms, something’s seriously wrong. It’s time to get a grip. That may take a while, but don’t worry about me. I’m happily sitting down, enjoying some peace and quiet. Gathering some energy. In that “little room.” Just down the hall. Please don’t knock. I’ll come out when I’m good and ready.

And not a minute before.

Notes From a Slightly Crazed Person

I sit.  In my bathtub.  Cocooned in bubbles.  It has the best view in the house.  And as long as there’s hot water, I’m happy.  Puckered skin and all.  

Bird life is plentiful from my window.  Up on the third floor, I’m in the treetops with them.  I can also see further out where they fish and fly with each other. In my crazed state, I wonder why they always insist on flocking together.  Poodles play with Dachshunds.  Siamese cats play with strays. 

Why, then, don’t Herons occasionally hang with Egrets?  Ibis with Pelicans?  Surely they have individual strengths, which put together, could make for a fuller whole?  Doesn’t diversity broaden horizons?  Make for better understanding, and in their case, improved nest building and food scavenging.   Is it just their feathers or is there something deeper that keeps them apart?

I, for one, have always had fun when I flew away from my flock.  Even for a short time.  I learned things, laughed hard, grew a bit.   I’ve always returned but for that little while, I went someplace different.  Outside my normal.  Sometimes even a bit further.

Maybe birds do that when we’re not watching.  I don’t stay up late enough to know but it’s a comforting thought.  A hopeful one.  In any case, it’s time for me to get out of the tub now.  The water’s gone to chill.

RGB RIP

Sounding the Alarm: A Short Story

It was a Christmas morning, somewhere around 1976 or so.  We had opened our presents.  The children were fighting about who got what and how much.  The Mister and I might have been drinking Bloody Mary’s.  Probably were.  There was a fire in the fireplace because that’s what you do on Christmas morning.  One of us suggested that we put the discarded wrapping paper and some dry pine needles in the fireplace.  Clean up a bit, so to speak.  So we did.

The phone rang very shortly after that.  It was our next-door-neighbor.  A kind gentleman.  Danish.  Quiet spoken.  Never ruffled feathers.  He informed us, in a very calm manner, that he thought that we had a chimney fire.  He wasn’t absolutely positive but he was pretty sure he saw flames coming out the flue.  Perhaps, he mused, we should take a quick look.

As we were on the phone with him, the side door flew open and his wife roared in the house.  Never one to make a quiet entry, and always one to get right to the point, she said: “You people have a f-ing chimney fire in your f-ing fireplace.  Get off the f-ing phone and call the fire department.  NOW!”

We told her that if her husband would hang up the phone, we would do just that.  

All ended well, I’m happy to report.  But without much time to spare. Without their help, without their warning, it would have been far worse.

They sounded the alarm. Knowing, on one hand, that it would save us. But also knowing, on the other, that there would be disturbances, chaos and even panic in the ‘hood. And on Christmas morning to boot. They made the right choice, the only choice, of course. They saved lives. Is there really any other choice?

I Cannot Tell A Lie

How silly.  Of course, I can tell a lie.  I just did.  I have told lies in the past and I will live to tell more. Even though I always remember my mother’s dire admonishments about lying. To anyone and especially to her!

Most, if not all, of my lies are slight exaggerations or are of “the dog ate my homework” variety.  Either way, they are intended to fall into the category of  “First, Do No Harm.”    

Surely, it’s better to say “Wow, you look great” rather than “That last botox treatment obviously went seriously wrong and I hope, for your sake, that those lips settle down some time soon.”   

Little white lies – “Wow, you look great” – are meant to ease the angst, to avoid conflict.  They are opposed to lies that aren’t so white or so little.  Often, it doesn’t take much to slip over to the dark side.

I, personally, feel besieged by lies these days.  There are few touchstones to ease my angst.  Conflict is everywhere – on all sides.  I weary of the need to fact check.  No wonder that I get headaches and my foot hurts.

I accept that differences exist.  That perspectives vary.  That everything gets spun.  But I long for more of those softer, little, white lies instead of the over-the-top, spare-no-punches, ultimately divisive lies that currently consume our attention.

My New Car(s)

It’s been a long process.  And not an easy one.  There have been mistakes.

I/we have been lured, compelled, beguiled, and ultimately sucked in to buying the wrong car(s) for me.  In essence, I’ve been looking in all the wrong places.  And for all the wrong reasons. 

The big schtick these days is the wonder of the car’s electronics.  Its gadgets, bells and whistles. Just look, they tell you, there’s a whole new world at your fingertips!  Oh, the things you can do.  The places you’ll go.  It’s yours to command. Just touch. You’ll see.

Except, of course, if you are an electronic klutz. 

New cars one and two have been returned.  

Yesterday, we decided to try again so we went back to the car dealer.  A different one this time.  Seemed like a good idea upon reflection.  A nice man, Adam, showed us the car I/we thought would be best.   So, I sat in it.  And, I said yes.  But no test drive for me, thank you. The foot can’t do that quite yet.  And please, don’t tell me about all the attributes of the car.  I’m not in the mood for any of that today.   I’m sure this car is more than sufficient for my needs.  

Adam asked me what I liked best about the car.  I said: “See that little button right there that actually spells out the word “Radio?  And the on/off/up/down knob right next to it.  That’s what I like. ” 

New car number three is in the garage.   It will still be there when I can drive it.  Soon, I hope. But for now, I just sit in it. I’m pretty sure the third time’s the charm. In the meantime, the Mister’s just hanging on for dear life.

PS. Cars aren’t the only one with electronic difficulties. We had some this morning ourselves, hence the late post. And it wasn’t even our fault.

I Could Use A Muse

But I would not choose a Greek muse.  That famous group of winsome ladies is a bit esoteric for me.   I’m looking for a muse of a different sort.  A muse not so much for inspiration but for affirmation.

I’d like my muse to sit on my shoulder and tell me that I’m still doing the best I can under these crazy circumstances.   

She’d assure me that it’s still wise to stay instead of play.  

She’d support me when I continue to say no instead of yes.  

She would agree that it’s best to isolate instead of congregate.  

She would provide a little solace, a bit of advice to stay the course. 

She’d be a good listener. 

And when I’m ready, she’ll be there to go back out and play with me.  Joyfully.  Happily.  Safely.

In the meantime, she’ll tap me on my shoulder to remind me how fortunate we, the Mister and I, are to be able to make those decisions for ourselves, without the fear of going without.  

A good friend, perhaps my muse-in-disguise, reminded me recently that there are many, many who are not so lucky.  Bored, she said, is a whole lot easier than unemployed and hungry.

BUSTED!

Yep, The Mister and I got busted.   Exposed.  Caught.  Guilty. There’s a new blight on our reputation and one we may never live down.

It all happened one evening last week when the phone rang.   At 7:30 PM.   It was a Face-time call.  Not only that, it was call from family members and family members know better than to call after cocktails so we felt compelled to answer.  Clearly, a crisis was afoot.

The good news was that it wasn’t a crisis at all.  It was a lovely call asking us to check the front door for an Amazon delivery.   A gift of our treasured Godiva chocolates.   And a gift that would, tragically, melt in our summer heat, if we didn’t retrieve it. Quickly.

The bad news was that we were upstairs when that phone rang at 7:30 PM, in our jammies, tucked into bed, watching a thunderstorm roar in from the west, two cats hovered under the covers.  All four happy as clams.

There was clear surprise on the part of our callers to find us “retired for the evening” at such an early hour.  We defended ourselves as best we could.  Some tired old story about the foot needing extra rest and so forth.

I don’t think they bought it for a second it but no matter.  We brought the chocolates inside and did the only reasonable and sensible thing we could at that point. We grabbed a bottle of Kahlua from the liquor closet, swooped up the chocolates and went right back upstairs to that comfy bed.   Yum.

Busted, indeed.