“Beach-Reads”

Every summer the stores are full of them.  We recognize them by their book jackets.

Gauzy, beguiling, images of best friends, strolling arm in arm, by the sea.

Long-legged beauties, dangling their feet in the refreshingly cool waters.

Promises of clandestine affairs.  (Is there another kind?)

Tow-headed children, tanned a nut-brown by the sun, romping in the surf with their dogs.

Families gathered at dusk, dining on old farm tables surrounded by mis-matched chairs and adorned with wild flowers in Mason jars.

So, I’m tempted.  Always.  But I’m too smart to fall for that stuff.  I’m above all that.  I wouldn’t be caught dead with one of those books in my hand, a brown paper wrapping notwithstanding.

Blame it on the rain, or lack thereof.  Blame it on the backed up septic system.  Blame it on anything you want but the fact is I succumbed.  And did I ever have fun.  Couldn’t be pried from my couch.  Just leave me alone and let me ride this beach-read to its inevitable happy ending.

I figure I’ve earned more than one happy-ending book.

I hadn’t planned on admitting my weakness but, last time I looked, having fun wasn’t  a weakness.

 

 

What is a friend?

Click on the picture for a larger image

Earlier this summer, we had the opportunity to view an artist’s world-wide, four year photographic study of her 400-plus Facebook friends.   Through her photography, she took us into their homes, their families, their lifestyles.

The exhibition by itself was intimate and engaging.  But she took it a step further.

Her four-year study apparently compelled her to ask the question: “What is a friend?”  In her search for answers, she offered everyone who visited her exhibit an opportunity to respond to that question, via little post-it notes, handily positioned in the gallery.   She then transferred those responses onto gauzy strips of material and hung them, floor to ceiling, in the gallery along side the photographs.

We read as many as we could.  Most were general, some very personal.  All very thoughtful.

I particularly liked one that said: “A friend is someone you make with.”

No, the writer didn’t leave out a word.  You fill in your own.   As in make dinner with, make plans with, make art with.

I didn’t submit my favorite because I didn’t see the post-it-notes but if I had, this is what I would have said:  “A friend is someone who asks the second question.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Togetherness

The Mister and I like to do things together.  That’s  good  because we’ve been married for a really long time.

Just recently, we went, together, to the brand new superstore not far from home.  One of us was very excited about a great sale on our favorite wine.  The other one had nothing better to do than tag along.

The store was freezing and the wine department was way, way in the back. One of us was happy because big savings were within reach; the other one was really cold and not happy about anything.

One of us bought a whole case of wine and had a nice long chat with the wine manager.  The other one was twitching about, trying in vain to get warm.

Together, we went through the check-out counter.  One of us marveled at the amount we’d saved.  The other was sure that death-by-freezing was imminent.

So consumed were we, each with our own issues, that, together, we forgot our purchase.

When we got home we wisely decided to quit with all that togetherness stuff.

One went, a tad bit grumpily, back to the store for the wine.

The other went, blissfully, to soak in a hot bath.

 

 

 

SAD

SAD isn’t something we want but many of us get it anyway.

SAD stands for Seasonal Affect Disease.  It happens when the skies are too gray for too long.  When there’s snow and ice on everything.  When the trees are bare for months.  When the sun doesn’t shine for days on end.

We get grumpy, irritable, testy.  In a word, SAD.

So we move to places like South Carolina and Florida because we don’t want SAD.

I have SAD, too.  But, mine takes a different turn.  Mine happens when just the opposite occurs.  When there’s too much sunshine.  When the skies are not cloudy all day.  When everyone says: “Isn’t it a beautiful day today?”  Day after day after day.

I get my hopes up when there’s a chance of thunderstorms.  The possibility of a little hail does nothing but add joyful anticipation.

My heart goes pitter-patter when dark and ominous clouds form over the river to the west.

I celebrate a good strong wind, especially with the hint of even stronger gusts.

Hurricanes, of course, are a universal no-no.   Ditto tornadoes, blizzards and such.

But perhaps, just perhaps, those of us on the dark side….and I know you’re out there…. could be allotted  the occasional ominous cloud and teensy bit of inclement weather.

I certainly don’t wish the sunny-day people any harm.  I don’t hold their blue-skies against them.   I just yearn for the occasional spot of gloom.

 

Cloud image courtesy of Paxabay.com

 

 

 

Guided by Beeps

Wherever we go, whatever we do, we are audibly accosted by beeps, peeps, pings, and chirps.  Tweets, too, but that’s a different matter.

A friend mentioned this recently and now I can’t get it out of my head.

Our house beeps to tell us we have intruders, that the smoke detector needs a new battery, that the toast is done, the coffee is hot, the printer has balked (again), a text has arrived, the clothes are dry.

The Mister’s new car has its own set of beeps and pings.  Warning, alerting, demanding.  Annoying.

Beeps are a bit like naughty children.  Tend to their needs and they’ll go away.  But they’ll be back.  Soon.

This morning I heard a beep.  Then another.  I was initially alarmed.  What’s wrong now?  Can it be fixed and how soon?   I looked for the source, ready to do battle.   What I found was a little bird, happily peeping away in a nearby tree.

To mis-quote T. S. Eliot: “Is this the way the world ends?  Not with a bang or a whimper but a beep?”

preview of coming attractions

to my dear and respected poets:

sometimes….no, make that lots of times….i have trouble understanding poetry.  shakespeare and chaucer are lost on me.   i do quite like e.e. cummings but mostly because he never  capitalized anything.    my poet friends are well aware of my limitations.

forrest gump said that “life is like a box of chocolates……you never know what you’re gonna get.”     well, i think poetry’s a little like that,  too.

there was a ton of chocolate in our house when I was growing up.   my mother, a woman of taste, particularly loved godiva chocolates.    a beautiful box of those sumptuous goodies was an instant path to her heart.

on top of each layer of those yummy chocolates we’d find a road map for what lay beneath.    directions, if you will, for our munching enjoyment.    you certainly didn’t want to bite into a hazelnut when you were longing for marzipan.

for example, you might read: “this particular delicacy is bathed in a dark swiss chocolate, blended with finely shaved brazilian walnuts, carefully layered with argentinian caramel and a hint of oak-aged scotch.”

those tantalizing, seductive words urged us to dig deep and understand what made that chocolate so good;  to appreciate that little piece of candy intelligently, knowingly, happily.   the godiva people did that for me and i wish poets would do that, too.

oh, i know a little mystery is part of the whole deal, but every once in a while, i’d love to be prepared before i take my first bite.

so, dear poets, please help me out a little.   give me a few hints and clues as to what i’m meant to discover between the lines and the layers, under the lid of that beautiful box.

i think i might be able to savor the sweet stuff…and the journey… just that much more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jill. Or is it Jack?

(Please click on the image above to get the full picture)

Many years ago, we bought a marvelous iron statue from an sculptor in Ohio.  It was my birthday present.  I named her Jill.  Until I turned her to the side and re-named him Jack.

She/he is androgynous.  It all depends on your perspective and the angle of your eye.

Several years ago, she/he was poised in our front yard.  She/he is top heavy and vulnerable to tipping.  So we sunk her/him in the ground with concrete.

After she/he had been there for a bit, we received a complaint from the community’s Architectural Review Committee, stating that our statue was suggestive of nudity.

Granted, she/he was indeed unclothed.  She/he was, in fact, the very definition of nudity.  Which made her/him just that much more interesting.  And worthy of conversation.

We, including Jill/Jack, were very offended by the citation but we were obliged to comply with the covenants of the community.  Thus we decided to clothe her/him.

And that’s where the problems started.

How does one costume/dress an androgynous statue?

Is it Santa Claus or Mrs. Claus?

St. Patrick or St. Patricia?

Mama Bear or Papa Bear?

Uncle Sam or Betsy Ross?

Romeo or Juliet?

Adam or Eve?  Oh, that’s right, those two weren’t clothed/dressed either. Except for a wee-tiny fig leaf.  Which apparently never really upset anyone’s apple cart.

So I guess that brings us back to square one and Jill/Jack can just be her/himself again.

 

 

Occam’s Razor

Definition:  “Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”

Or put another way:   “Keep it simple.  The most obvious answer is likely to be the right one.”

Apparently, there’s no Occam’s razoring when it comes to computer issues.   One starts with the most complicated, the direst, the most difficult, the tech-i-est, the most demanding, the most frustrating, the most complex, the most confusing, the most upsetting, the most time-consuming hypotheses possible.

For eight months now, we’ve been living in a world of hurt, confusion, and despair.

All brought on by malfunctioning computer systems.

At some point, I channeled Mr. Occam and suggested that the Mister’s new computer, and its equally evil twin, the printer, simply be returned and exchanged for new ones.  Sort of like an errant blender or bad toaster.   It seemed, to the uninitiated, to be a good idea.  And, besides, I had Mr. Occam on my side.

But, oh no.  That would have been far too easy.

The excuses for not following that simple suggestion were too many to mention.  And way above my pay grade to challenge.

Mr. Occam’s philosophy went unheeded.  Time and time again.

And this is how it ends.  Maybe.

Computer and printer are in the trunk of his  car.  On their way to being returned.  And exchanged.  Simply.  And, I hope, successfully.

Mr. Occam and I are not saying anything remotely like “We told you so” but we sure are thinking it.

 

 

 

LOCKED

On a recent morning the door on one of the upstairs bedrooms closed nicely behind me.  Just like it always does.  The problem was it wouldn’t open when I wanted it to, a mere few minutes later.  Initially, I found the situation amusing.  Three hours later my sense of humor had gotten up and gone away.

I wanted to be the one who got up and went away.  But I couldn’t.  I was locked in.

I was trapped in one room.  Which was getting smaller all the time.  Happily, my screams reached the Mister who tried….or tried to try….to rescue me.

After a frustrating and seemingly eternal period, the locksmith was beckoned. Tiny tools were passed under the door.  Door hinges were removed.  Nothing worked.  Getting me out was his job and it wasn’t going well.

We love this old house but the layers of paint which have been applied to all surfaces during the years did a wonderful job of keeping me securely locked in.

The mind does funny things when it has been denied access to normal everyday things.  It doesn’t take long to get squirrelly.

Everyone else was able to go up and down stairs, to talk on phones, to eat cookies, to drink coca-colas and attend to increasingly urgent and compelling personal issues.  I couldn’t.  And it wasn’t even my fault.

Obviously, we finally freed me.  I knew we would.  Even though I really thought we could have done it a tad bit sooner.

Captivity is not fun.  And, yes, captivity may be overstatement for my predicament, but the only way out of that room, aside from the locked and painted-over door, was a locked and painted-over window.  Two and a half stories above the ground.

In some small way, I take comfort in the fact that it took three hours to get me OUT.   Surely any sensible burglar attempting to get IN would give up long before that.

 

 

Role Models

I’ve had my share through the years. They’ve taught me, inspired me, been there for me when I needed them.  That’s what role models do, even though they don’t necessarily know they’re doing it.  They’re just there.

At my age, I should be the role model, rather than the role model-ee.  That gets us to the issue of age, among other things.    Surely, I’m too old to expect that there’s someone out there….someone actually older than I am.…who can act as an inspiration.

But wait.

My new role model appeared in our town newspaper just this week.   I know I can’t match her feats of energy, strength, get-up-and-go or bravery.  She is, however, someone to emulate and admire.

I’m personally skilled at finding excuses NOT to do those things which I ought to do.  Now, I look to my new role model and try to follow her lead.

She shows me that I really don’t have excuses for my excuses anymore.

I bemoan a little cancer?   She’s survived three.

Blood pressure’s a tad high?  She has aortic valve stenosis.

I’ve got a little tinnitus?  Her face is numb.

Woke up feeling a touch woozy?  She’s been diagnosed with vertigo.

Just feeling too old?   She’s got more than 15 years on me.

So what would she do with all those non-excuses?  She’d pop out and run a half marathon.  And along the way, she’d continue to raise mega-bucks for her favorite charity.

Granted, she’s exceptional.  But that doesn’t keep her from being there for me.  Even though she doesn’t know it.

 

P.S.  The blog itself is a no-reply site.  If you send me something to or on  it, it goes into the ethers, never to be seen again.  If you don’t have my email address, go to the contact page for the blog and write me that way.  I love to hear from people.  I hate it when someone tells me they were in touch and I know that message is out there in never-never land…never to be retrieved.

 

 

 

“Scar tissue is a good thing.”

So says the author of a new book: “The Vanishing American Adult.”

There was a time when you would’ve had to go a long way to make me think that was a true statement.  For most of my life, I’ve walked around with a scar on one arm and hand, due to a fire when I was quite small.  I never, ever looked at it as a positive.

Fortunately, like many things, the scar and my self-consciousness about it, have faded with time.

I now know that scars are almost always symbols of survival of one sort or another.  I wish I had understood that earlier.

But enough about me.

Our Siamese cat, an elegant example of his species, recently had serious surgery.  A post-surgery pain patch had to be removed quickly and unceremoniously to save his life.  The narcotic was, literally, killing him.  He was going down and going down fast.  That chunk of elegant fur and soft pelt under the patch had to go.

Now he has a scar.  A big one.  A big black spot where the patch was ripped off.  No fur will ever grow there again.  He’s flawed.  He’ll never win any beauty contests.

The thing is that he doesn’t even know about the black splotch.  The scar. He’s oblivious to his flaw. He’s healthy, feels great.  Life is good.  He’s loved, fed, petted, kissed and appreciated.

He has a story to tell, even though he can’t.  It’s a good story.  One of love, a lot of pain and confusion on his part, good medical care and, ultimately, survival.  We look at that big black patch and remember his ordeal.   I think he knows how much we admire him.  He’s sweeter and more loving than ever.

Scars, if understood, add character.  They add substance.  They don’t detract.  They have interesting stories attached to them.  You can’t say that about a whole lot of things.

Perhaps scar tissue is a good thing after all.

 

 

 

Waste not. Want not.

I just put my little brick away.  The one I use to squish every last dib-dab of toothpaste out of its tube.  I’m following the old adage: “Waste not; want not.”

When it comes to things in jars, jugs, tubes or bottles, I WILL get that last drop out.

Those vessels get watered-down, shaken-up, q-tipped, turned upside-down, drained  and swathed to a fare-thee-well.  Waste not; want not.

I cut face cleaners in half; I don’t get dirty enough to merit a whole one each night.  I’ve kept every gift bag that’s ever come in our door.   Little scraps of paper get stapled together to make note-pads.  Wrapping paper and ribbons get ironed and reused.  Waste not; want not.

But, having said that, I own more than one pair of shoes that have never met the floor.  I’ve bought sweaters that were worn once, maybe, and I’ve purchased other things I knew I’d never use just because I felt like it.

Things die in the refrigerator and not always by accident.  Pantry items go past their use-by date all the time.

So the adage doesn’t apply to everything and all the time, at least for me.

I wonder why that is and, frankly, I have no idea.

Ah, sweet mystery of life.

 

 

 

 

 

I Am Woman; Hear Me Weep

I’ve said that this  little blog would not be about politics or health.   It’s just about stuff.  Or nothing. Take your choice.  But politics and health collided with such a resounding thud last week that I simply can’t ignore it.

It was announced on Friday that the GOP Senate Health Care committee is comprised of 13 men.  51% of our population is not represented at that table.  Tell me how that makes any sense at all.

Not one of those men has given birth.  Not one has suffered a miscarriage.  None have gone through menopause.  Or lost a breast or two to cancer.

Goethe said many years ago: “If you don’t feel it,  you’ll never get it.”

So how on this earth, in these United States, can we expect this bill to compassionately and effectively address those elements which affect 51% of us when its designers can’t possibly “get it?”

 

 

 

My Pre-existing Condition

A friend told me, many years ago when I was too young to understand, that “the older you get, the more like yourself you become.”

What rubbish, I thought.  But, she was a wise woman and I now know that statement to be true.

See, I’m an introvert.  A born and bred, dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying introvert.  I’ve always felt I had a black “I” emblazoned on my forehead.  And the older I’ve gotten, the more like myself I’ve become.  More introverted…if that’s possible.

It’s taken years to accept that but now, it seems, I have no choice in the matter.  I do, indeed, have a pre-existing condition.  Not covered by insurance, alas.  This year or any other.

Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” is known as the fairy-godmother of introverts.  Her research extols us!  Gives us permission to celebrate our introversion.  She even says it’s “cool” to be introverted.  Who knew?

It’s great to be appreciated, if only in literature.  But in reality it doesn’t change much.

Introverts need peace and quiet to re-charge.  The older we get, the dearer that time becomes.

Socialization becomes extreme sport to “mature” introverts.

Coping in crowds?  Well, with age, that goes from the maybe-we-can-do-this to no-way-that’s-happening.

The good news is that we are cheap dates.   Noisy restaurants, big parties, festive events, big galas are all on our no-no list.   Consider the money we save on clothes, mani-pedis, shoes, hair fluffing.

On the other hand, we surely miss out on a lot of fun.

It’s a toss up.

And the older we get, the more like ourselves we become.

Prom

It’s not just a dance anymore.

Personal perspective right up front:  I never went to a prom.  All-girl’s schools didn’t do that.  With good reason.

So, as I listened to a young-ish parent’s concerns about his daughter’s upcoming prom, and its many stressors, I muttered to myself: “Surely this is much ado about nothing.”

Until.

Until I listened more closely.

Getting a bill passed in Congress is surely duck soup in comparison.  The navigating, negotiating, politics, and maneuvering through the plans and pitfalls of today’s proms require a law degree (with a specialty in mediation), a psychology degree, an MBA, and a steely hand.  Mere mortals such as mothers and fathers need not apply.

The committee structure is just the beginning. That might include Wardrobe, Hair, Makeup, Food and Beverage, Travel, Decorations,  Budget, Protocol and Photography.  Other sub-committees may become necessary as the event and its demands loom closer.

Now we have the “Promposal.”  A new word for a new world.  Apparently, the young man no longer simply asks the young woman to accompany him to the Prom. No, these days that invitation should be  jazzed up in unique, special, creative, even secretive, fashion.  And it better be good or the answer could well be “no.”

Then there are the after-parties.  And the after-parties-after-parties.  Now the issue of alcohol comes into play.  Serious, scary stuff.

Of course, there’s Breakfast.  Where, who, what and when?

Toss in social media and it starts to be overwhelming.

Fueling all the angst, of course, are those raging teen-age hormones.

All I can do is listen and take deep breaths for the family.  We just ask that they call us when it’s over.

And not a moment before.

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Clipartfest.com