Lists.

Lists tell us a lot about ourselves.

A grocery list tells us what we’ll be eating for the next few days.  A to-do list tells us where to go and what to do when we get there.   An invitation list tells us who our friends are.  A Christmas list tells us to get going before things get too crazy.

Last week, I peered into the cubbyholes of an old, unused desk and discovered a most curious list of things.

It included:

A collar and ID tag from a long dead cat.

A copy of The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford.

My grandfather’s pocket watch.

Two engraving plates with my name on them:  one for stationery, the other for calling cards.

A deliciously twisted tale by by John Updike with equally twisted drawings by Edward Gorey.

A box of “Dennison Gummed Labels,”  now a collectible item from the 1940’s which holds pictures of my parents.

I’m not getting a clear sense of direction from that odd little list.  I only know that, ultimately, it tells me something about myself.  Because that’s what lists do.

It also underscores the value of little-bitty cubbyholes, which can hold treasures worth re-discovering on a rainy day when you have nothing else to do.

 

 

 

Trips to Fripp

 

Remember the Chevy Vega “station wagon?”  That sub-sub-sub-compact-hatch-back from way-back when?

We had one and we’d travel to Fripp Island, S.C. from Ohio for two weeks in the spring in that car.  A couple of duffle bags, baseball mitts, fishing gear, wine and suntan lotion.  We’d pack it all up and, if things went well and we had our wits about us, we’d remember to toss the three young boys in on top of everything.

We drugged them for the trip.  Dramamine, if I recall. Our pharmacist recommended it as a safety measure.  There were no seat belts in the Chevy Vega.

We were able to get several hours of peaceful driving except for one unfortunate situation.  One of the boys always had an adverse reaction to Dramamine.  It wired him.  But at least there was only one asking: “Are we there yet?”  There could have been three.

When we got to Beaufort, we’d stop at the Winn Dixie and buy groceries. We piled a two-week supply of food on top of suitcases, beach towels, and boys. We had everything we needed for our vacation in that little car.  Our family’s footprint on Fripp Island was as small as the children’s on the sand.

Fast forward 45 years:  A recent trip to one of our Island’s beaches introduced me to eighteen wheelers masquerading as cars.

It seems that no one travels light these days.  And what they don’t bring with them, they buy and then apparently leave behind as trash to be cleaned up and disposed of.  Visitors may drop dollars but they and their huge cars/wagons/vans/ SUV’s leave an imprint that doesn’t always bode well for the future.

I must not get the meaning of vacation in today’s world.  I always thought vacations were an opportunity to be open, unstructured and free of “stuff.”  To leave behind encumbrances and just chill out.

But every day, it seems, I get older in my thinking.

Next week my post will probably be delivered by Pony Express.

“One if by land and two if by sea.”

Tally-ho.

 

 

 

 

Gropes and Grabs.

Wow.  It’s everywhere these days.  Places we least expect it.  The groping and the grabbing.

I’d rather I didn’t have my own story but I do.

Mine was a social situation, not a political or a power-based one.   But, still, it caused a level of embarrassment and discomfort.

I’d see the offender coming my way at social occasions where I couldn’t say , “I’d rather you didn’t do that.”  Or even make a light-hearted comment by way of distraction.

In a way, while the behavior wasn’t welcomed, it was kind of flattering.  I talked to my spouse about it.  We agreed to ignore it as best we could. I certainly didn’t want to create a “scene.”   Or come off as some sort of offended prude.  So, I put up with it…..sort of.

The situation was really a mere annoyance, nothing more.  But it helped me understand the subtle ways that social “gropes and grabs” can escalate to something more.

While I’m not a member of the #Me,too movement, I’m certainly more understanding than I might have been without my own, albeit small, experience.

And I appreciate the opportunity to share that experience and my “educated” perspective on Sallie’s post today.

Yours truly,

The Mister.

 

Me,too image thanks to carbonated.tv

Spittin’ Mad

Please click on the picture for a full image.

That’s what I am.  I’m spittin’ mad.

If you look at the picture above, you’ll see a charming little “rock garden” planted by the children of our near-by elementary school.  It’s right on the sidewalk so I get to see it every day when I walk by.

The garden bloomed about a week ago, filled with 50 or so rocks, painted by the children.  Sweet messages, pretty colors.

If you look at the picture again, you’ll also see a sign.  It encourages passers-by to “take a rock, share a rock, leave a rock.”

People have indeed “shared”and “taken” a rock.  Unfortunately, no one has “left” one.  Thus the little garden grows smaller by the day.  And that made me mad.  Spittin’ mad.

I took my ill-tempered self directly to the school, ready to take umbrage on the part of the children, scrounge up a new supply of rocks by myself, and stand guard over the garden if necessary.

After I settled down and took a moment to listen, I learned that the rock garden is a country-wide art project and the rocks are indeed meant to be “taken and shared.”  The kids are thrilled with the response of their visitors and they’re eager to replace and refurbish the little garden.  In their minds, the project is a home-run.

So, my mad turned into glad.  That’s a good thing.

But I’m left with the task of having to do a little attitudinal work on myself.  Perhaps in the way of not jumping to conclusions quite so fast?

Maybe I’ll pop down to the school and take a rock from the garden.  I think they’re “planted” just for people like me.

And, I’ll be sure to leave one, too.

Dear Carolyn:

It’s been a while since I’ve written but since you’re ever-present in my life these days, I thought I’d send you a quick note.

During all the years we’ve known each other, you were always there to “save my bacon.”  I could list the many ways but that would take too long.

You might not remember….well, actually, I’m sure you don’t remember because you tend to forget…..but you gave me a kitchen timer many years ago.  I hope I expressed some gratitude at the time but, honestly, I wasn’t sure why you gave it to me.  I suppose you were trying to urge me to cook a bit more but we both knew that was unlikely.

But now I simply don’t know what I would do without that little timer.

I’m the one who’s forgetful these days so, without that loud ringing device, pots on the stove would boil dry, appointments would be missed, a quick nap would turn into a deep sleep and ruin the day.  It’s become my personal assistant.

The irony is not lost on me that you, Queen of Forgetting, are now making sure that I don’t.

Of course, the timer’s name is Carolyn.  I talk to you each time the thing goes off.  Most of the time I say a grateful “Thank you, Carolyn, whatever would I do without you?”

But there are those times I tell it/you to hush. Quit that ringing already.  I’m moving as fast as I can.

Whatever the case, I know you’re there for me.  And with me.

Saving my bacon.

Just like you always did.

Lordy, how I miss you.

Love, Sallie

 

 

Famous People I Have Known

All two of them.

I like my famous people un-spot lighted, un-made-up, un-scripted, un-programmed, un-scheduled.  In other words, just real and down to earth.

We’ve had two opportunities for that during our lives.  One was with George Gallup, of Gallup Poll fame.   See Thoughts on Listening , if you’re interested.

The other was with James Taylor.

James had occasion to visit Dayton, Ohio, many years ago, for a reason other than a performance.   Hence, he was all of those un-things when I met him.  He was also sick and scared.

Jim Henson of the Muppets had just died a sudden death, seemingly from complications of a flu-like illness.  Performing artists all over the country were in a collective panic that they might be similarly attacked.  Without warning and in a strange place.

As it happened, I was the only person in the small group joining James who actually lived in Dayton and had access to a doctor.  And did we ever need a doctor.

Come ASAP, the office said, when I called.  We hopped in the car, he saw the doc, tolerated the swooning nurses and were quickly on our way, assured that he had the sniffles, a slight sore throat and would be just fine.  Not to worry.

Later that evening, he sang for our little gathering.   Un-made-up, un-lit, un-scripted and un-programmed.  Just a few wonderful James Taylor songs for a small group of people, including one who had enjoyed the pleasure of his company, if only for a short while.

Me and “Sweet Baby James”.  Just the two of us.

And the doctor, of course.

SCANDAL!

Scandal has recently scorched the reputation of the venerable game of Cricket.  There’s been a major set-to in the leading Australian team.  Ball-tampering, they’re calling it.  I find it quite distressing.

I really wouldn’t care except we have a Cricket bat hanging in our den.  It brings back good memories.  It came home with me after the summer I spent in England with my college roommate.  During that time, we were fortunate enough to be invited to garden parties, house tours and Cricket matches.  All terribly British and we loved it.

If you’ve ever been to a Cricket match…..and really, who among us hasn’t?…..you’ll know that they represent the epitome of manners, graciousness, proper decorum and demeanor.  That applies to players and spectators alike.

While Cricket players have always claimed a moral high ground, apparently, they’ve been at this cheating thing since the 1800’s.  Gambling, match-fixing, doping.  “It beggars belief,” say the Australians.

The media voice of Australian Cricket, according to the press, was reduced to tears over the latest scandal.

Furthermore, the Australian Prime Minister states that, prior to this egregious act of poor behavior, Cricket stars were held in considerably higher regard than politicians.

Well, now.  That took the wind right out of my sails.

I got to thinking about all that and wondered: Just exactly how far was the descent from Cricket star to politician?

 

 

Two-fers.

Who doesn’t love two-fers?

Talenti is our new favorite two-fer.  Buy that yummy, refreshing, tantalizingly-tart, many-flavored gelato, and get an adorable little plastic see-through container and snug-fitting lid.

That’s all good except for one little issue.  Our addiction to the gelato hasn’t stopped.    The little jars, however, have become a problem.  While there’s no such thing as too much gelato, the same cannot be said of the jars.

The mister’s workshop is overrun with them.   Screws, bolts, nails…all  visibly and neatly organized.

Same for the kitchen.   M and M’s, small round cookies, peanuts, cashews, raisins.

Pantry, bathrooms, desks.  All organized.  Many for the first time in their lives.

The house runneth-over with cute little jars.  Enough may, indeed, be too much.

What do to?  I hate tossing them.  It seems ecologically incorrect.  And I certainly don’t want to buy more things that could nicely fit into them.  That seems wrong-headed.

So I save them. The stash grows.  And grows.

No solution is apparent.

But, as I write this….I’ve had an idea.  Perhaps art classes or shop classes at our schools might like some of those jars.  I’ll look into it.  I hope it works.  It means we can continue our love affair with Talenti gelato, the little jars get a second life and the schools benefit.

Sounds like a three-fer to me.

 

Let Me Count the Ways…

A friend who knows me pretty well is redoing the operative parts of  her kitchen. She’s wisely gathering data from the Internet and from her friends before she makes her new purchases.  She called to ask my opinion on one of her considerations.

Her question for me was: “Do you like your oven?”

Let me count the ways that I cannot answer that question in any helpful manner.

But friends don’t “dis” friends.  So I shared.

First off, I don’t like the fact that it actually exists and/or works.

Second: It takes up space that could be used to house other things.  Like wine or sweaters.

Three:  Any dish that goes in it will inevitably come out dirtier than when it went in.

Four:  A turned-on oven suggests we have scuttled whatever plans (or hopes) we had to eat elsewhere.

I had more to share but at this point my friend had lost interest in my perspectives and taken herself off to Lowe’s.

Too bad.  I had some really nice things to say about my wine-cooler.  And my ice maker.  Maybe she’ll call back.  I sure hope so.

 

Image of oven actually being used thanks to Unsplash.com

How sweet it is.

Revenge, that is.  It sits so gently on the tongue.

I’m a cross-word puzzle person.  Our local paper carries the New York Times and the Universal puzzles. I’ve always enjoyed both.  Until today.

This morning, one of the down clues in the Universal puzzle was: “Any great-grandmother.”   Well, I’m one of those, twice over, and I wondered what on earth the answer would be.  It was an 8 letter word.

I could think of many definitions for that clue so I was curious when I discovered the first letter was “O.”  I got concerned when the second was “L”.   I went ballistic when the third was “D”.   This was definitely going nowhere good.

In fact, the full answer was OLDWOMAN!   Okay, we’re usually sort of old, at least older than the mother or grandmother in that instance.  But a good answer to that clue?   No, no, no and no.  We are so much more.

I took myself to Google and searched the name of the puzzle constructor.  He was going to hear from me and it was apt to be harsh.

But, oh, Joy and Happiness.    I was avenged as I discovered he’s recently been dismissed from the Universal puzzle staff for plagiarism!   I can think of another reason for dismissal but plagiarism did the job.

Now I can happily continue my morning puzzling routine knowing that there won’t be any more ugly surprises like that one.

How sweet it is.

 

 

Crossword image courtesy of slate.com

I simply don’t want to. Redux.

For very technical reasons (and with extensive apologies from our technocrats), we are reposting!

I know should.  I know I should go up there, to that room, to that corner.  I simply don’t want to.

It’s not just any room in the house.  No, this is a special room.  It’s really quite lovely.  The sun comes in and warms it. The cats love it.  There’s a comfy sofa and lots of books.

It has historical significance as it’s the room from which the family creatively made and hung a Red Cross sign out the windows in 1863, thus saving this old house from being burned down along with so much of Bluffton.

So why do I resist going there?

Two words:  Stationary Bicycle.

It sits there and glares at me from its space in the corner. I have to walk around it to get to the other rooms.  We both know I should be using it.  It’s too big to put in a closet; too heavy for me to haul downstairs and quietly dispose of.

Do not tell me that if I turn on the television while I’m pedaling that time will fly by and I will develop muscles I never knew I had.  Tried that.

Do not tell me to get a good book, pedal away and time will fly by, etc. etc.  Done that, too.

Do not tell me that I should just grin and bear it.  That it’s good for me.  That I’ll feel so much better when I’ve finished.  I don’t need to hear that.  I feel sufficiently guilty as it is.

But didn’t I say that the room has a comfy sofa, books and cats?

I think I’ll go up there after all and enjoy those things.  That silly bicycle has spent most of its life un-attended, un-sat-upon and un-pedaled.  What’s one more day?

 

Devil machine image thanks to thenounproject.com

I simply don’t want to.

For very technical reasons (and with extensive apologies from our technocrats), we are reposting!

I know should.  I know I should go up there, to that room, to that corner.  I simply don’t want to.

It’s not just any room in the house.  No, this is a special room.  It’s really quite lovely.  The sun comes in and warms it. The cats love it.  There’s a comfy sofa and lots of books.

It has historical significance as it’s the room from which the family creatively made and hung a Red Cross sign out the windows in 1863, thus saving this old house from being burned down along with so much of Bluffton.

So why do I resist going there?

Two words:  Stationary Bicycle.

It sits there and glares at me from its space in the corner. I have to walk around it to get to the other rooms.  We both know I should be using it.  It’s too big to put in a closet; too heavy for me to haul downstairs and quietly dispose of.

Do not tell me that if I turn on the television while I’m pedaling that time will fly by and I will develop muscles I never knew I had.  Tried that.

Do not tell me to get a good book, pedal away and time will fly by, etc. etc.  Done that, too.

Do not tell me that I should just grin and bear it.  That it’s good for me.  That I’ll feel so much better when I’ve finished.  I don’t need to hear that.  I feel sufficiently guilty as it is.

But didn’t I say that the room has a comfy sofa, books and cats?

I think I’ll go up there after all and enjoy those things.  That silly bicycle has spent most of its life un-attended, un-sat-upon and un-pedaled.  What’s one more day?

 

Devil machine image thanks to thenounproject.com

Words.

What we hear and what was meant are frequently very different things.

I had the television on the other day, just for background noise and company.

With one ear tuned in, I heard the following:  “The difference has been incredible.  She has her old energy back, she’s more alert and wants to learn new things.”

My second ear perked up at that.  I wanted some of it, whatever it was.  It was truly a “When Harry Met Sally” moment.  Cost was no issue.  Can I Amazon-prime it?

Unfortunately, it was just commercial for Purina.

 

 

Oh Danny Boy, The Pipes, the Pipes are Calling……

 

Suddenly, it seems it’s all about the pipes.  Tending to them.  Making sure they flow freely.  That they stay uncongested.

Pipes are everywhere.  Demanding our attention.  Running our lives.

We have a list of pipe experts available to us, on our personal 911, because there’s rarely a day that we don’t call one of them.

The house has chimney pipes, irrigation pipes, electrical pipes, water pipes, HVAC pipes, septic pipes.

The cars have a mess of pipes, too.   Exhaust, fuel, window-washer, tail.

And then there’s us.

We have so many.   Eustachian, wind, sinus, and many other “pipes” I choose not to mention here.

There’s always a pipe problem somewhere.

I guess it’s always been thus.   I’ve just never thought about it before.

And you might not want to think about it either.

But the next time you beckon the “piper” for what ever his or her specialty is…. be nice.

You’ll be calling again.

Soon.  For something.

I’d put money on it.

Porches

Not long ago, a friend gave me a tea towel, embroidered with the following:  “I’m outdoorsy.  I enjoy cocktails on the porch.”

Okay, so I may not be a fan of the outdoors but I do love porches.  They’re usually protected from bugs, have access to electricity and plumbing, and exude an aura that inspires good conversation and laughter.  All of that works for me.

My Aunt Mary had one that she called her Gin and Tonic porch.  You knew what she’d serve and you knew you’d have fun.

We have friends who have summer homes in Michigan.  Such wonderful memories were made on those big porches, from the first cup of coffee (or three) in the morning to the last Hummer (or four) at night.

A special porch that lingers in my mind was in Dayton, Ohio.  A big porch, screened-in with comfortable furniture, surrounded by giant Oak trees, it was an after-dinner haven for conversation and laughter.

One of the things we did on that porch was to plan our futures.  Far, far in the future when we might not be self-sufficient and might need to live communally.  We were young and the idea of a retirement home was fodder for silliness and laughter.

We designed our ideal residence but, more importantly, we attributed roles to each of the inhabitants.  They would be us, of course, and only us.  We pooled our talents and skills and mapped out a very doable, self-sustained retirement home.

We had a carpenter, a gardener, a cook, an accountant, a plumber, a choir leader, a spiritual guide, a party planner, a lawyer.  Everyone had a role; everyone was needed.

Of course it never happened.  It should have but it didn’t.  We knew it wouldn’t but it didn’t stop us from dreaming.  To this day, I think of all that, the friends who would be there and the fun we’d have.

There was one little hitch.  No one could come up with a job for me.  Happily, they all agreed that I could just BE there.

Oh, if only I could.