Candy as Metaphor


Sometimes you feel like a nut.

Sometimes you don’t.

I like Almond Joys.  Not Mounds.  In other words, I feel like a nut. 

That’s due somewhat to my taste in candy bars but more importantly to my relationship with word processors and printers.  Hence, the (very) broad-based candy reference.

Our first “word processor” was a manual typewriter (most likely an Underwood).  It had no backspace and I failed typing class.  As a result, there was always great angst, loud swearing and a considerable amount of wasted paper.

The next typewriter/word processor was electric (Corona, I think) but every time you hit the “x” it went on a rampage and wouldn’t stop until you pulled its plug.  Angst. Swearing.  Wasted paper. 

Number three was an early, very, very early, word processor.  A beta-product, if you will.  It was an Exxon Qyx.  Seriously! Anything but user friendly. More angst, swearing and wasted paper.

I never mastered the wretched, and ultimately ill-fated, Qyx and should have realized right then and there that the world was going to be clearly divided into two groups.  The technologically with-its and the not-so-with-its.

Now of course, there’s no paper to waste in our so-called paperless society.  But the level of angst and swearing have filled the gap so we’re right back where we started.

I still feel like a nut.

Brain Waves


We have a wonderful local resource for people with memory issues.  Called “Memory Matters,” it is blessing for those who need it.

They administer a free memory test to the public. I know many people who’ve taken it.  And actually remember that they did.  It’s called MocCa….short for Montreal Cognitive Assessment. 

There’s another brain assessment test out there.  MENSA.  That one’s for really, really, over-the-top smart people.  A local magazine runs a mini-MENSA test in each issue.

I got confused last month, thought the magazine said mini-MoCa, and decided to test myself.  Thus opening the door to trouble. And a great deal of self-doubt.

The first question was: “Add an R to a word that means a geographical feature and find a word that means something to put over an object.”  The answer was not immediately apparent.  It came to me the next day.  Way too late to qualify for success or intelligence.

The second question was much easier, or so I thought. “If a weird grocer charges 11 cents for a cucumber, and tomatoes and pumpkins each cost 9 cents, what will a squash cost?”

My answer:  squash and cucumbers are long and skinny and tomatoes and pumpkins are round and fat.  So a squash will cost 11 cents.  I felt really good about that one. 

Another possible answer:  A squash is a veggie, like the cucumber.  The others are fruits.  The answer is still 11 cents.  Except for the fact that a cucumber is a fruit.  Little known fact to some of us who were desperate to get a correct answer.

Both were wrong, of course.

It seems that particular grocer, according to the MENSA people, charges one penny per consonant and 2 pennies per vowel.  Ergo, the squash will cost 8 cents.

I mean, really.  How does a person think like that?  By being super-smart, I guess.

My takeaway?   Stay away from brain tests.  Mini or otherwise.  Ignorance is, indeed, bliss.

Test answer sheet image thanks to southside.edu

Roomies

                 

Once upon a time, when I went off to college, into that brave, scary new world, far away from home, I had absolutely no idea who’d be sharing my room, my bathroom, my desk and my closet.

What would I do if my roommate snored?  What if I snored?  What if she wants to stay up till two in the morning and I want lights out at nine pm?  What if she plays sports and I play the piano?  How would I cope? 

But I really didn’t give a whole lot of thought because that was just the way it was.   Once upon a time.

Not so in today’s world.  Social media has stepped in to help take the “scary” away.  Savvy, newly accepted freshman get cracking ASAP.  They contact other newbies they think they might like.  Through Facebook and other sources.  They compare notes, clothes, interests, colors.  When the stars align, they decide to room together. Then THEY inform the school.  Not the other way around.

Their parents cyber-meet. The new “roomies” continue to FB and instagram, cementing the relationship.  Friends from the get-go.

My freshman college roommate and I were assigned to each other.  She was, indeed, a true hockey-jock and I, truly, played the piano.  She was from a preppy little town in Massachusetts; I was from the hills of West Virginia.  Her parents drove her to school; mine sent me and my steamer trunk on a train.  She’d never uttered a four letter word; I swore like a sailor.

We most likely would never have said the first hello to each other if the school hadn’t put us in the same room.   Hockey fields and the music department were worlds apart. 

But we managed just fine.  Better than fine.   And to this very day.

If things had been different and chance hadn’t been allowed to play its role, we’d each be absent a good, and genuine, friend.  And that would have been a crying shame.

Picture of incoming frosh courtesy of virginia.edu.

Competition


Must it always be thus?  “Anything you can do I can do better“?

As one born with no athletic ability whatsoever….and no interest at all in altering that……I know what it’s like to be the last one standing when a team is picked.  To be left sitting on the bench.  Sent back to the locker room so as not to take up space.

Maybe it’s just the way of the world.  The pickers choose and the “pickees” wait. Sitting outside the circle.  Hanging on for dear life.

I know it’s fun to win, but I also know it’s even more fun to help others win.  “Enabling” may be a bad word but “enabling” someone else’s fun and confidence isn’t bad at all.  It’s quite lovely and frequently much more rewarding than victory. 

So, can we give up the pressure of one upsmanship?  Finally? At our age? 

Can we just have fun? Quit with the competition stuff?  Sit back and enjoy the sweet taste of win/win? 

Perhaps it’s just this simple:

Good: Be in the game.

Better: Do your best.

Best: Help others do their best.

Just musings from the bench.


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Brand Loyalty


I am brand-loyal.  For me, it’s always been Duke’s Mayonnaise, Grey Poupon Mustard, Campbell’s Tomato Soup, Velveeta Cheese.  I don’t even have to think about it.  The Mister, well….not so much.   He’ll go for the generic every time.  Says it saves some money.  That there’s no difference.  But I know there’s a difference.  And no one can tell me otherwise.

When you’re loyal to a brand, you expect your brand to be loyal to you.  To respect those years of togetherness.  To honor the joys of co-dependency and co-existence.

So when that trust goes awry, there’s deep disappointment.

Such was the case when I recently opened…..and I use that word loosely….my new roll of Glad Cling Wrap.

They changed the packaging and the new “how to open” directions were in a print too-small-to-read. The next bad came when I tried to start the roll.  Always a challenge but they messed with that, too. Fingernails and magnifying glasses helped. But the worst was yet to come.

The Glad people have apparently taken the term “Cling” to a whole new level.  The new-and-improved product has developed a monastic, sybaritic relationship with itself.  It only shakes its own hand.  Only serves its own master.  Which is to say it clings only unto itself.  With itself.  And all by itself. With nary a thought to its intended purpose.

I’m going to have to turn-tail and switch to another brand.  I regret that. But if it goes badly, there’s always waxed paper and rubber bands.  Our mothers, and theirs before them, got along with that just fine.  So can we.

The Ubiquitous Key Caddy

Who doesn’t have one?  A bowl, dish, or basket that sits inside the back door?  Ready for car keys and house keys.  They fill to overflowing without our noticing.  Who throws away keys? 

A few days ago, we decided to sort through our own messy collection.  Most of them were mystery keys.  And so out they went.

But as we dug deeper down into the bowl, we discovered many, very nicely labeled, keys to friend’s houses. They were given to us so we could have access to their houses while they were away.  To feed their pets, water plants, gather mail and newspapers, and so forth.  It warmed the cockles of our hearts to realize that we’d been deemed key-worthy by so many.  And we’d like to thank all those friends for putting their trust in us.

At the same time, we’d also like to say how much we continue to enjoy those little items that just happened to find a way from their houses into ours.  Everybody knows that an empty house is ripe for the picking.  Especially when you have the key to the front door.

There was that bottle of excellent red wine.  They drank Scotch.  They wouldn’t miss it in a million years.

The little pottery bowl I’d always lusted after?  I’m sure they thought they’d just misplaced it.

That little tchotchke their daughter-in-law gave them several years ago?  We knew they didn’t like it but didn’t have the heart to pitch it.  We simply enabled the inevitable.

And yet, people still give us keys.   Should you ever need our services, just let us know.  We have superb, if not always thoroughly vetted, references. 

Staying Power

Dear Carolyn,

Well, we’ve done it again.  We’ve moved.  I didn’t send the forwarding info to you as you’re a little hard to reach.  If we have internet issues here, I can only imagine the difficulties you must experience.

But a funny thing happened as we were unpacking boxes in our new digs and I thought I’d share it with you.

You’ll never believe what I found, deep in the belly of a great big unlabeled box.  It was a miscellaneous gathering of stuff, if you will, having no rhyme nor reason to it.

As I was digging around in it, Bang!  There you were.  Right smack dab in the middle of things.  Just like you always were.  Not only were you there but John was right there with you!  Imagine my surprise.  Both of your memorial service programs, stuck together, even though they occurred years apart.  Now, we all know I’m simply not that organized.  So how, if I may ask, did that happen?

Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to answer that question.  It just takes a belief that some people stay with you for life.  In your hearts and in your stuff.

Love, as always, Sallie

The Lint Trap

We used to live in a big house with a teeny-tiny washer and dryer.

Now we live in a small house with an extra large washer and dryer.  Go figure.

Actually, I’m a bit excited about that.  For a couple of reasons. 

I can actually wash more than one sheet at a time.

I can add things, like an errant sock, at the last minute.

Can you feel my joy, my excitement?   Probably not.

Okay, so just hang on a sec.  Here’s the flag-raising, Ta-Da, stomp-your-feet, go crazy-wild thing.  It’s the lint.  Or more specifically, the lint trap.

I’ve always been a bit fanatic about cleaning the lint trap.  All the owner’s manuals tell you to be diligent about that and I’ve been compliant.  Perhaps compulsively so.   Part of that may come from my feeling that lint’s a little like a hair-ball without all that angst on the part of the cat.  It deserves immediate attention or things can go downhill fast.

Sadly, the lint trap in the old (little) dryer rarely contained anything worth writing home about.  Sometimes, out of kindness, I’d feed it a damp Kleenex or two so it could remember how it felt to be useful.

But now!

Now, fistfuls of lint are an every day occurrence!  I don’t know where all that filmy, feathery stuff comes from but it’s almost always a worthy collection.

Furthermore, my new dryer has a lint trap with two, count ’em, two compartments!  Will the joys never cease?

I don’t usually write about serious things but I take my lint management duties very seriously.  You just have to trust me on this.

Unusually satisfying lint pic thanks to blenderart.com

Never too late

 It’s never too late.  Really and truly.

I didn’t know that, at my age, I would become a wannabe.  I’m pretty comfortable in my lifestyle.  Family and friends all good.  Love our new digs. What could possibly be missing?

But I seriously wannabe an “–er.”

Or an “-ist.”  Even an “-ant.”

I want a title.  As in baker, butcher, candlestick maker.  Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy-er.   Dentist.  Consultant. And so on.  Probably should’ve thought about that during my school years.  Other things got in the way.

There are days when I don’t do a whole lot but rearrange dishes, read a book or two, take a walk, fold some laundry.    None of that grants me access to the world of -er, -ist, -or -ant. 

I also do crossword puzzles.  Sometimes more than one a day.  And there it was last Sunday.

My AHA moment.  Not only was I doing what I enjoy…filling in the blanks and solving crosswords.….but I filled in me.

The clue was “someone who solves crossword puzzles,” and the answer was cruciverbalist.  That describes me perfectly and sits sweetly on the tongue, I think. 

I like it.  A lot.  Even though I had to look it up on Google, it makes me happy. 

Now I have “–ist” status.  Who could ask for anything more?  Especially after all these years.

It really is never too late.

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.

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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