Tattoos.

I have quite a few tattoos.  They’re invisible, of course. But they’re there, nevertheless. I can easily conjure them up at a moment’s notice. They represent friends I’ve known and loved for years and years. 

Sadly, but quite naturally, many of those people have died and others will surely follow.  But, those invisible, etherial tattoos, those unseeable imprints, remind me of our friendships, our relationships, our times together.  And they’re never more apparent than when a friend has died

The wise folk tell us to move on from our past and get on with the present.  Make new friends. Find new work. Create new experiences. And they’re right. We can do that.

But my “tattoos” have a slightly different take on the whole thing.  They remind me to honor my past.  To remember.  To reflect.  To smile, laugh and cry.  And those tattoos aren’t going anywhere any time soon. That “invisible ink” is here to stay.

Today, the tattoo I’m remembering, with much love and affection, is Julia Reichert.  Friend, filmmaker, change-maker. And brave. Such a brave, brave woman.  Gone, but never forgotten.  “Tatooed” forever in my heart.

There Were Fourteen of Us.

We represented three generations at our Thanksgiving dinner.  The oldest was in her early eighties; the youngest in her early twenties.  We all get along quite well.  Always have.   No disagreements were anticipated and none arose.  We’re lucky that way.

But, since I write this blog and since I’m always looking for “material,” I decided to take advantage of the broad age span.   At dinner, I asked the following non-invasive, non political, non-threatening, very simple questions.

Who is John Grisham?

Who is Steven King?

Who is James Patterson

Who is Colleen Hoover?

Just as I thought might be the case, the older generation knew the first three authors but most had no idea about the fourth.  On the flip side, the younger generation knew the fourth but were iffy about the other three.

Just in case you don’t know who she is, Colleen Hoover is a prolific teen and young adult fiction author. She typically has four or five books on the New York Times Bestseller list every week. I, for one, wasn’t planning to read anything she’s written.

But, during our little Q and A, one of those in the older generation took my breath away by saying that she not only knows who Colleen Hoover is, she’s read nearly all her books!  This from a discerning and highly intelligent friend!  She simply knocked my socks off.

Why, I asked.  Simple, she said.  My granddaughters adore Colleen Hoover and I want to relate to them, to share ideas with them and read the same books they do. I found that to be a compelling statement.

I downloaded several of Colleen’s books this morning and look forward to digging in. Thank you, my friend, for opening my mind to a fresh way of looking at something I had too quickly dismissed.

Hanging By a Thread

We had no idea that something as delicate and nearly invisible as a thread could rule our house.

We found out the hard way.

The Mister was doing some painting and moved a bit of stuff in the process.  Included in all that was some wiring.  He’s always very careful so it was a surprise when we discovered, post-paint job, that we had no computer.  No television.  No telephone.  We were “off the grid.”  And not by choice.

The culprit was a fiber optic cord.  Pulled out of its “source” by mistake.  As thin as a bit of thread, you can’t even see a “fiber optic cord” unless you look.  Really, really,  hard.

As a result, we were without computers, internet, television and telephones for a couple of days.    Ah, the peace, we said.  The quiet.  The zen-like atmosphere.  There were no bings, rings, or clicks.  No incoming.  No outgoing.  How sweet it was.

But after less than an hour, we realized we didn’t like it this way.  Not even one little bit.

We hate to admit it, but we’ve come to rely, quite seriously, on all that stuff.  We felt strange and isolated without it.  We welcomed the repairman with open arms and went quickly back to our devices. 

The whole thing was all a bit revealing, if not discouraging.  First, to learn that something that small, that unseeable, had that much power.  And second, to realize how out-of-sorts we felt without our usual “fixes.” “Off the grid” may be for some but, apparently, it’s not for us.

Times…..they are a’changin’.

Or maybe not.

It’s impossible for us, the Mister and me, to go through an election cycle without thinking about the Gallup Poll and its founder, George Gallup.  Dr. Gallup was both mentor and friend to the Mister.  I got to tag along and enjoy the benefits.

Dr. Gallup founded his polling company based on a very simple mission:  If democracy is about the will of the people, somebody should go out and find out what that will is.  He added: “If leaders are wrong about the will of the people, the more they lead, the worse they make it.

In a lecture at the University of Kansas, Dr. Gallup once said:

We see very little change on those issues which are usually cited as ones on which liberals and conservatives diverge. These issues would include abortion, death penalty, the equal rights amendment, gun control, and a balanced federal budget.

…over the last half-century one party has been pretty much in control of our government, both in terms of the Senate, the House and the White House in many years, of course and also at the state level, too.”

He continued, almost as an aside: “One of the real threats to America’s future place in the world is a citizenry which elects to be entertained and not informed.”

Timely observations indeed.   Especially given the fact that Dr. Gallup’s words were spoken over forty years ago.

“We were completely glued to the TV.”

We’ve all said those words.  Many times.  We don’t mean it literally, of course.  How silly would that be?

But there are those who are, literally, glueing themselves to Picassos, VanGoghs and DaVincis.  And they are taking themselves and their reasons to do so very seriously.

Their purpose is to make bold statements about climate change, fossil fuels and wealthy museum patrons. Accordingly, they are targeting art which depicts the world as it once was.  Green, verdant and undisturbed by corporate or government intrusion. 

The museums are naturally upset by the all the fuss.   They’re concerned for their institutions’ well-being and the safety of their treasures.  And they’ve voiced their concerns.

Now, the protesters are voicing their own concerns. 

It seems that when they, the protesters, are “glued” to the art, they can’t get to the rest rooms and the museums are refusing their requests for “buckets.”  To make matters worse, their cell phones have been put away for safe keeping and they have no way to order “take-out.”  Further it’s taking longer and causing more pain than they’d counted on to unglue their various super-glued body parts from the art.

The museums and the protesters have much in common: 

Without a ton of development from those earlier idyllic days, there would be no indoor plumbing, no cell phones, no “take-out” and super-glue wouldn’t have been invented. 

And without that same development from those same earlier, idyllic days, our climate would not be threatened, fossil fuel wouldn’t be an issue and super-wealthy patrons might not have gotten quite so super-wealthy.

Neither side is eager to recognize or honor the other’s concerns. To any degree.  They’re both entrenched, super-glued if you will, to their own side of the same coin.

Alas, and sadly, that seems to be the order of the day. And I’m not just talking museums here.

Forbidden Fruit

Tell us we can’t have it and we want it. Badly. That’s human nature.

We’ll stand in long lines to get our hands on it, whatever it is.  We want it whether or not we need it. We want to know what the fuss is all about and we certainly don’t want our wishes dictated by others.

I’m talking about books here.  Specifically, library books which have been banned from Beaufort County’s school libraries.  We live in Beaufort County so this matters to me.  And it should matter to all those who live here. 

This morning’s newspaper reported that over 100 books have been “pulled” from their rightful places on the libraries’ shelves.  Some may be re-shelved after their “review” but we don’t know if that will be the case or not.

I looked through the list.  Many are unfamiliar titles so I can’t comment on them.  Other than to say that I don’t think that banning any book is a good thing.

But, there among the unknowns, were books I’ve read.  Some more than once. Many shared in book clubs.

They include:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Foer

Water for Elephants by Sara Green

The Art of Racing in the Wind by Garth Stein

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks

The Kite Runner by Khalel Hesslein

I was nearly speechless when I saw those titles.   The quasi-good news is most of them have been adapted for film or television.  But watching doesn’t take the place of reading.  I know that.  You know that.

But here’s the even-better news. Those books are now forbidden fruit. And we all know what happens when something’s declared to be “forbidden fruit.”

It’s Common Knowledge.  I’m a Tramp.

Rogers and Hart nailed me long ago when they wrote “The Lady is a Tramp.” 

The defining lyrics are: “She gets too hungry for dinner at eight.”   If dinner’s at eight, I’ll either be over-wined or half asleep. Appetite long since gone. Hence, my full-fledged tramp status.

Even though I’m one of them, I’ve always thought of early diners as unfashionable, seriously uncool or, even worse, “early birds.”  But now!

Now, it seems that New Yorkers, cool and with-it city folk that they are, are lining up for 6:00 pm dinner reservations and finding them hard to come by!  Six pm has become the new eight pm.  All those sophisticated city peeps have discovered it’s not all bad to dine early.

Apparently, much of this is due to a pandemic reset.  Living patterns changed.  People rose with the sun rather than by alarm clocks.  And, as dusk approached, hunger pangs set it.  Ergo, earlier dining.

That may all reverse itself at some point but I’ll still be a tramp, longing for dinner at six.   Some things just never change.

It’s Good To Have Friends.

And it’s great to have younger friends.  With age may come wisdom, but the younger set often knows stuff that we don’t.  To wit:

Last week’s blog referred to the 420 blogs that we’ve published.  For me, 420 is just a number.  A good, true and factual number, but a number, just the same.

For a younger friend and reader, that number was a tad more interesting.  Apparently, 420 has a deeper and broader meaning that no one in our household was even remotely aware of. 

In short, 420 refers to the celebration of weed.   The slang term of 420 originated with a group of Californians who ritually smoked their bits of weed at 4:20 in the afternoon.

It began as a secret code and morphed into mainstream weed lingo many years ago. It’s so widely known that it was a Jeopardy clue not too long ago.

None of that means that we, here in this house, knew anything about any of that.  But now we do, and we are grateful to our younger friend for clueing us in. 

So, just on the off chance that any of you, my dear readers, may be as behind the times as we are, I thought I’d share that little tidbit.    One never knows when one might find oneself deep in a weed discussion.  As the old saying goes, now you can just “put that in your pipe and smoke it.” Then veg out and watch your younger friends admire your “with-it-ness.”

Eight Years, Four Hundred and Twenty Posts….

And counting, I hope.

Who wouldda thunk it?  Life on the May, aka this little blog, has been around for eight years! 

When anyone asks what I write about, I still say “nothing.”   And I still get blank stares.  And most likely, no new readers.  After all, who wants to read about “nothing?”

Well, happily, there are those of you who do. Many of you have been there from the get-go.  Others have happily joined up along the way. I cannot fully express my thanks to each and every one of you.

I’m not alone in the creation of the blog. 

The Mister does all the interesting, imaginative and appropriate graphics.  Many are built from scratch, a talent he’s honed over the last eight years.

Our oldest son deals with the technical stuff, tolerates my ignorance of all things computer, and creates the most beautifully bound compilations of the blog each year, just for us.

And then there’s you.  Without you, there’d be no point. It would be like shouting at the wind and hearing nothing in return.  You are engaged, loyal and responsive readers and I am so honored to have you with me on Sundays.  We’ll carry on.  Together, I hope.

Hurricanes.

When a hurricane is headed our way, we do our best to be ready.  We stock up.  We lash down.  We board up.  We hunker down.  We gas up and occasionally run to higher ground. We drink.

But when push comes to shove and that sucker comes ashore….which it inevitably  will ….we’re still at the mercy of Mother Nature.  All that planning and preparation?   Frequently right out the window and gone with the wind.

Mother Nature’s not always a welcome guest.  She’ll behave exactly as she wants to, regardless.  She can rip our houses apart, yank our trees up by their roots, threaten us with surging tides, and generally cause havoc. She’s the one with her hands on the tiller and she’s always gonna have it her way.

We watched Ian as we watch all hurricanes.  We studied the models, we assessed the tides, we listened to the alerts, we behaved responsibly.

But, in the end, it all came down to one word, sent to me earlier on Friday morning by an old college roommate.  It said simply: Prayers.

Happily for us, Ian took another path. Sadly for many, many others, Ian was a truly devastating event.

In Search of Our Third Booster.

Will it ever end?  Will we forever be in search of a vaccine for the latest Covid variant?

We clearly don’t know but, in the meantime, we do what we think is best.  A sore arm is but a mere pittance in the face of the alternative.

With all that in mind, we called our local pharmacy to schedule the new booster.  We were nicely given a “slot.”   A time frame. Our pharmacy is a very civilized and thoughtful operation.  Besides, one of the owners is our neighbor. 

When we arrived, there were two people in front of us.  Whoa, we said.  This will never do.  We’d been hoping for a much longer line. 

Why, you might ask?  Aren’t long lines what we’ve hated about this whole covid-shot thing from the very get-go?

True. So true.  But here’s the thing. This particular pharmacy has an extensive medical equipment department.  And, right there in the middle of said department, are the most luxurious, comfortable, adjustable, spacious reclining chairs you could ever imagine. 

Facing but a mere minute or two to wait for our shots, we realized we’d been denied the opportunity to nestle, scrunch, and just relax in those wonderful chairs.  To get our “fix.” To imagine how grand it would be to just take one home with us.  We wondered what to do.  Our names would be called momentarily.  We couldn’t just ignore the shot-givers, could we?

Sure we could.  And we did.  We waved others through to the top of the line and thoroughly enjoyed our time in the womb-chairs. No one was upset.  Least of all us. 

After a while, we eased ourselves up to the counter and got our shots. We were also supremely relaxed.  A win/win situation if ever there was one.

Sketch thanks to wallsheaven.com

Scabs and Splinters and Zits. Oh, My!

When the children were growing up, scabs, zits and splinters were common afflictions. I wasn’t keen on the scabs or the zits but, oh, those splinters. 

I always figured the zits would dry up and the scabs would fall off but splinters needed attention.  Further, they needed MY attention and they needed it right now. Wait right here, I’d say.  Don’t move a muscle.  I’ll just get my needle.

Sometimes the child stayed put for the surgery but more often than not, he took off for parts unknown.  We both knew, however, that the splinter would eventually have to meet its maker.  Splinters don’t just go away by themselves.

I like to think that I had pretty good splinter-removing skills.  Further, it was fun.  At least for me.   I’d gently probe under the skin with the needle, expose the alien body and tweeze it out.  Voila!  I’d say.  See now, that didn’t hurt at all, did it?

There was never full consensus on that issue so I’ve just had to assume, for all these many years, that my splinter skills were good, very good, indeed.  I miss all that.  Oddly enough.

What a Woman!

Indeed she was. Queen Elizabeth II of The United Kingdom! Few would disagree.

And now we watch as The U.K. makes the orderly transition to King Charles, the III.

We follow the pomp and circumstance.  The pageantry, the horses, the trumpets, the wigs!  The furs, the helmets, the capes and flags!

It’s not our custom but we can certainly enjoy watching theirs.

There’s also honor, respect, order, peace, dignity, and grace. 

Once upon a time, we shared those important values and guiding tenets in our own governmental transitions. We can only hope we’ll find our way back to them one of these days.

Gather Ye Scarabs While Ye May.

A bit like rosebuds, scarabs have faded on the vine. And in popularity.  They’re currently and ignobly pegged as “vintage and/or “estate.”  Neither term bodes well for longevity.  Or further production. So Carpe Diem.  Time’s a wastin’.  Get’em while you can. 

If you’re under forty….or fifty… you may not know what a scarab is.  And, I, for one, feel a bit sorry for you if that’s the case.  But those of you over fifty?  Well, you know of what I speak. 

My cousin, Ann, who is much better at recall than I am, made reference to her scarab bracelet just the other day and it all came rushing back.   Then I, myself, went rushing to my jewelry box to make sure my scarabs were still where I thought they were. Happy day! There they were, way in the back of the box but safe and sound, nevertheless. 

And, I might add, looking just as snappy and colorful as they were when they were “in.”  All those many years ago.

I’m pulling my own scarabs out of storage as I write this.  Sadly, I have no McMullen blouses, saddle shoes or circle pins to wear with them.  And if those things don’t ring bells with you, well, I can only do so much explaining in one little space. 

Where is “Grace?”

Where did she go?  She was here just moments ago.  She was sharing her life story with us. 

And what a life she’s led.  My, oh my!  The people she’s known, the places she’s been, and, of course, the money she’s made.  All of that has made her, at least in her opinion, the most interesting person in the room.

We quickly understood that our job, as hosts and guests, was simply to listen and be impressed.  Not just impressed by all she’s accomplished, but impressed that she would even come to our little gathering!  She already has too many friends, she’s quick to explain.  And, now that she thinks about it, she’s not at all sure why she’s even here.  At our simple abode. She usually doesn’t accept invitations like this one.  But us being us, we were appropriately attentive and admiring, as we were meant to be. So where, oh where, could she have gone?

She probably just slipped out the back.  No need to make excuses.  Her work here was done.

But, wait a second.  That wasn’t “Grace” at all.  The real Grace is sitting quietly, just over there on the sofa, a soft smile on her face.  She’s met a lot of impersonators like that one and she’s wisely lost interest.  She knows the real Graces in this world don’t behave like that.  They’re interested in others.  They ask. They listen.  They encourage.  They participate. The don’t speak only of themselves.

I’m walking across the room this very minute to sit down and visit with the real Grace and I can hardly wait.