Birds of a Feather

Okay, so it’s no longer the May River we see every day but we do enjoy the benefits of a large lagoon and its inhabitants, right in our backyard. 

The huge alligator who, we’re told, is too old to care about anything but a warm bank upon which to sprawl and soak up sun. 

And the birds.  The many, many birds who also appreciate the sunshine, the trees and the fish in the lagoon. 

Mostly, they’re wading birds: ibis, wood stork and heron.  They flock together, apparently mindless of their slight differences.  Sometimes as many as 70 of them gather a mere few feet from our windows. 

A few days ago, we remarked on their presence.  Or, more to the point, their absence.  It seems that they also visit other, perhaps sunnier and larger, lagoons.  They go where the wind and sun take them.  As it suits them.  Where the pickings may be better.  The fish tastier.  Never once stopping to think of those who might miss them.  Loyalty is not one of their attributes.

They will be back.  We just don’t know when.

They are, it would seem, a “fickle flock.”

Try saying that five times fast after two glasses of wine and a bowl of pistachios.

Did it again

The Island Packet did it again.

It grabbed my attention.

A week or so ago, the first page headline was “Free range parenting bill supported by Senate panel.”

That bill, according to the article, means that kids would be allowed to play outdoors unsupervised at times.

At first glance, the bill seems to fall into the realm of the absurd.  Of course, kids should be able to play outdoors without adult supervision. 

I know that the Mister, his brother and their friends were seriously under-supervised. Oh, the (naughty) things they did.  The (dubious) places they went. I won’t go into detail here lest I reveal activities that might be outside the statutes of limitation.

I, on the other hand, was never not supervised.  My parents put my bicycle in a bay window in the attic, kick stand down for stabilization, support and safety.  I pedaled in-situ for many years.

One of us is well adjusted.  The other not so much. 

Every day in the summer, our boys went outside, first thing in the morning, deep  into our woods.  They came home when they heard the dinner bell.  What they did during those days is a mystery to me.  And will remain there in perpetuity.

Life clearly isn’t as simple as it was then.  I have great empathy for today’s parents.  When to hold on tight; when to let go?

There just aren’t any easy answers.  Free-range parenting bills notwithstanding.

Image thanks to humanechoice.com.au

School Mottos


There were two from my high school years.  “Festina Lente” and “Function in Disaster; Finish in Style.”

Those few little words have been invaluable over the course of the last few months as we have made this transition to our new digs.  The move was, and still is, a good decision.  Maybe a great decision.  It was the getting here that was taxing.  I relied heavily on those two mottos.

The first, “Festina Lente,” when translated from the Latin, means “Make Haste Slowly.”  It’s tough to stick with that when one of you is just a tad OCD.  Slow is not in his vocabulary.  The other one of us prefers to let the dust settle, see how things look, make adjustments as required.   Feel your way through the confusion. We didn’t Make Haste as Slowly as I would have liked but we survived.

On to “ Function in Disaster; Finish in Style.”  Through the years, friends have given me several signs and paintings with that motto.  I have them all over the house as reminders of my great high school years and of the intended message.

As I write this, those signs and paintings are all over this house, as they’ve been wherever we’ve lived.  It’s just that right now they’re all hanging upside down.  The message tends to read “Function in Style; Finish in Disaster.”  With a little luck, I’ll be able to return them to their upright positions at some point.  It’s just going to take a little time.

Festina Lente and all that jazz.

If you have any thoughts or comments about this or any of my posts, I’d love to know them! To send them to me, please click on “Contact” at the top of this page to send me a message and I’ll get back to you.

Our Opinions


We thought we mattered.  That we were valued members of the family. That our feelings and opinions were worthy of consideration.

Apparently, we were wrong.  We were neither informed nor consulted regarding this most recent move. 

We don’t like change. 

Period.

End of discussion. 

They knew that but they went right ahead and did it anyway.

And this is the result:

Nothing smells like it’s supposed to.

Nothing is where it should be.

Our cat-space, our special comfort zone, isn’t the same as it was. 

Our sun-spots aren’t where they used to be.

Some of our furniture is missing.  Notably, that nice grey upholstered chair one of us destroyed.  Quite artfully, we thought.

The kitchen counters look and feel different.  They’re shiny.  Slippery. The old ones weren’t.

Even the water tastes funny.

Change sucks.  That’s our opinion and we’re making sure they understand it.  Bit by bit; day by day.  It could get ugly.  We’ll just have to see.

Soaps

No, not Ivory, Dove or Irish Spring.  I’m talking about those old-timey soap operas on television. The afternoons used to be chock-a-block full of them them.  And many of us watched one (or more) on a daily basis.  Even though we rarely admitted it.

The Guiding Light was MY guiding light.  It gave me hope that there was life after colic, dirty diapers and pureed peas.  I placed my life in Riva and Josh’s hands every afternoon.  I swooned as they wed, divorced, re-married, cheated, died, were re-incarnated and so forth.  They were always there for me.  At 3:30.  Rain or shine.

My tastes have changed since those days.  Now I tend to watch the European channels which let us “binge.”  No hanging on to the cliff for the next installment.  Sit there long enough and it’s done.  They’re also commercial free.

The European producers like to refer to their soaps as family dramas and historical sagas.  But, let’s be clear, they’re soaps.  Through and through.

The trouble comes when the Mister walks by the television, gets caught up in the moment but has no idea who’s who, who’s done what, who’s good, who’s not, who’s pregnant, by whom, who’s cheating.  Which leaves the one-who-knows with the task of explaining.  By the end of which explanation, many things have happened that the one-who-knows wishes she’d had the chance to see.  One has a responsibility to stay up to the moment with this stuff.

In the end, of course, it doesn’t matter.  In soap land, good trumps evil, families unite, the sick get well and life goes merrily on.  And that’s why soaps…European or otherwise….still have their audiences.  After all, who doesn’t love a good cry and a happy ending?

Image thanks to letstalkaboutsoaps.com

Moving Day

Tomorrow the moving van comes. The careful and caring people who will be here to take our stuff have moved us four times. They know us; we know them. I’m not at all worried about everything getting to its destination in one piece. I’m a teensy bit worried about myself not arriving in one piece but I think I’ll be okay.

As we prepare for the big day, I recall our neighbors of many years ago who, with their small children, left their old house for a new life in a new town. As they were locking the door for the last time, their six-year old son turned to his mother and asked: “Mommy, where’s the mouth on the house?”

She asked why he wanted to know. There was a simple answer. He wanted to kiss it goodbye.

Where’s that box of tissues when I need it?

Moving van image thanks to clipart-library.com

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.