Leo. . .on going home!

Somethings up!

Somethings up!

me with mom and dad

me with mom and dad

I'm so bored with these two that I'm yawning!

I’m so bored with these two that I’m yawning!

Don't leave without ME!!!!!

Don’t leave without ME!!!!!

Turn.  Just turn.  C'mon.  Turn.

Turn. Just turn. C’mon. Turn.

Monday, August 3, 2015
Today I am grateful that Leo will write his last missive called, “Going Home”. Here’s Leo.

Somethings up. I heard my mom talking on the speaker phone to the woman who always wants to brush me and I just know somethings up. I saw her gathering my toys, too. Why do humans do that? I just about get them scattered exactly where I can strategically reach them at any given moment and then they pick them up just because they tripped over them. Humans! I’ll never understand them.

Wait. There’s the phone again. Now that man is opening the garage door. What? What’s happening? SHE, that brushing woman, is looking out the front window. Click, click. The front door opens. In walks my MOM! My real, human MOM! (bounce, bounce, bounce-hop-hop-hop-wag-wag-wag-whimper-whine-cry-laugh-whimper) I did everything but pee on her shoe! My dad is here, too? Great! He’s trying to get a video of me being excited but I’m moving like a white whirling dervish! Soooo happy. And the brushing woman is doing a play-by-play. . .like she can talk for me!

Maybe I’m going home. But wait. They came in. Sat and talked for a little bit. Then ALL of them left! They left without the DOG. What is wrong with these people? I cried. Broke my heart. Then they came home so I had to twirl again. It’s exhausting. Wait. Mom and dad have suitcases and it looks like we’re all going upstairs. Bye-bye brushing fool. I’m sleeping with mom and dad tonight. Raspberries to you!
The next day we had a bunch of people over and I got some special treats, but then mom and dad left again. I kept looking at brushing woman but she just said, “You’ll be fine. They’ll be back.” What in the Hell does that mean? Sometimes even popcorn doesn’t help, buddy!

The brusher had folded up my bed, packed my food and toys and put them on a chair near the door before I got up the next morning. Somethings up. We all sat outside and gabbed and gabbed and I let the man who holds me for the brusher, pet me for a long time. He really likes that so I try to be patient with him.

Then I saw those blasted suitcases moving around through the house again, like mutant robots. Dad went out to the car with one. Then mom went out, too. Wait! Don’t forget the dog! Yoo-hoo! I’m still here! Wait. . .go to the door and stare it down. Nothing. Back to the window. Yoo-hoo! Mom! Dad! I’m still in here! Don’t leave me with these lunatics who make me play all the time! Come back! Come back! Go to the door. Sit hard. That always works. Stare harder! Back to the window! Whine. Cry. Whine. Fret. Worry.

Here they come! He has the halter! She has the leash! I’m going, too! Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m out the door like a blast from a cannon! The car! The car! Yea! They’re taking me in the car. Yippee! Bye-bye you two playing-treat-giving-brushing fools!

Maybe we’ll go to Dairy Queen on the way home! Wheeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

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Art Mistakes

Mural in Easton
Saturday, August 01, 2015
Today I am grateful for art mistakes. This is going to be short and sweet because in a couple of hours I’m having a brunch for eight people and I need to sling-hash!

The same day we saw those crazy oil-drum elephants, we saw an interesting mural in Easton, PA. When I was stopped at the stop sign, for however long that is, I thought I saw something amiss in the mule barge mural. Then it hit me. I don’t ever remember seeing a horse with three knees on one leg! Maybe it’s me, but it’s odd. . .and wonderful.

I can picture the artist, swilling his huge brush in a hurry to get done before he/she was killed by on-coming idiots and him/her thinking, knee, knee, knee. I have to do a knuckly-knee. . .whizzzzzz. . . honk-honk. . .screech! Shit! That’s good enough! I’m done!

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Pop-Up Art

Oil drum elephant-New hope

Oil drum elephant - hiding- new hope

Oil drum elephant-small - new hope
Friday, July 31, 2015
Today I am grateful for pop-up art. After we dropped the granddaughter off at her boyfriend’s house (yes, boyfriend) the other day, we decided to come home via the Delaware River Road. It’s longer and windy and sometimes crowded with little room to pull off to let commuters get past the lookers (us), but also stunningly beautiful. And it makes you take your time.

Every restaurant we wanted to stop at was closed and not just because it was Monday, but boarded-up-closed. That is a sad testament to our times. We decided on a diner in New Hope and then had a little “discussion” on the best way to get there. I thought we had to go through town or we’d already be past it. He thought we should take the 202 bypass and we’d still have to drive a little to get to it.

Why does some directionally challenged (me) argue? Of course, he was correct. But it didn’t matter because I was driving and went through New Hope, the way I wanted to go, anyway. There is always a reason. . .even if the reason is mine alone.

The town was unusually empty, so I could look around. We drove right past the huge, oil-drum, scrap metal elephants, but I caught a look in my peripheral vision. John hadn’t seen them. . . so of course, I turned around and went into the parking lot of the art studio (closed. . .all of New Hope closes on Monday. . .because of Sunday) so we could get up-close and personal. Pop-up art at its finest!

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Learning to Drive

Anja behind wheel in driveway.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Today I am grateful for learning to drive. Guess whose granddaughter is learning to drive a car? Right! Talk about feeling old! But not so old that I don’t remember that incredible right-of-passage.

My parents insisted we learn to drive when we were 16. No slacking around for us until we were 18 or 21, because they were sick of schlepping us everywhere we wanted to go. I clearly remember the first time I got behind the wheel of the behemoth Mercury, with an automatic transmission, but no power steering or brakes. My dad backed it out of the driveway then we changed places. We lived in the middle of the block and he told me to turn left at the first corner. I thought I put my foot on the brake. I thought I could turn that tight, recalcitrant wheel, but when my dad slammed up against the passenger door shouting expletives to God and Jesus, we both knew I needed work.

Construction was underway on a new highway and my dad was the typical sidewalk supervisor so we drove to that location almost every night. Grown, married for the second time and driving with my parents to a wedding in St. Louis, I knew I had passed muster when my DAD said, “You drive through Chicago! I hate that traffic.” Really? I had arrived.

So it was fairly easy to tell my granddaughter I wanted her to drive when Grandpa and I were taking him to an appointment and her back home to Easton, PA. Grandpa, the same man who considers it a “driving lesson” when he lets a kid drive in a school parking lot because he meets his goal of coming back alive, sat in the back with his hat over his eyes. At first. Then even he relaxed.

Some people have good driving instincts by nature. Others not so much. Anja does. I only touched the steering wheel once and it was probably more because I am so unused to riding on the passenger side, so it always looked like she was a little close to mailboxes on the twisty, hilly road. She drove for over 45 minutes and did very well.

I taught my sons, one of John’s daughters and his son to drive. I’m so glad I have the opportunity to help teach my granddaughter, Anja, too. Learning to drive is a huge and wonderful responsibility. . .and a true right-of-passage into the freedom of the open road.

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Work Friends

Barb & Cindy on Harley's

Barb & Cindy on Harleys-backs
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Today I am grateful for work friends. It’s always nice when you can maintain friendships upon changing or leaving a job. When I left my last job, under odd conditions, it was the end of the school year so most people were swept up in their elation at having all of the testing and report cards done and they were looking forward to a little time off. I think only two or maybe three people even suspected I might not return.

I hunkered in deeply during the following months and kept in contact with only one person, avoiding all others, lest I say something I might later regret. It was the correct choice. But because of that decision, there were no bells and whistles ushering me into retirement. Much later, long after the fact, a few people met me at a restaurant for a little retirement soiree, which was great. . .even if it wasn’t the same celebration as for others who had retired.

That was one of the parts about my decision that I felt sad about. I really, really liked a lot of the people I worked with and still do. It would have been fun to go out with a bash. Who doesn’t like a good party? Especially me!

As the months went by, my retirement was officially announced. I scurried out of my cave and started writing the blog. A few friends from my old job heard about it and wanted to be included. Then a few more and a few more and soon people were “friending” me asking why they didn’t know I was such a good writer and so funny and why weren’t they friends with me? They now are. I think I “chat” with some of my former co-workers on Facebook more than we had time for when I worked with them. That’s a hoot! Sadly some of the people I miss the most, must not feel the same about me, so I don’t hear from them. That’s okay, too. People move on. Everyone has their reasons, agendas and their own perspectives. It’s a mutant circle of life thingy. I respect their choices. But for many years our lives were intertwined, so I still miss them.

But there are some. . .very few. . .but some, who want to meet me for lunch periodically to catch up in person. That’s just the best. We get face-time and I get hear about their lives, their families and what’s going on with people from the school I loved. Most of the kids I knew best have passed on to middle school or even high school. That’s their right-of-passage, yet a cruel sort of time warp for me. I wouldn’t recognize most.

Sitting outside in the shade the other day, among former co-worker friends, with absolutely perfect weather, enjoying fantastic food, the chatter was non-stop. As I was getting up to leave I started thinking about friends. Then two of them straddled their Harley Davidson’s, vrooming off in a cloud of sunshine. And I realized how lucky I am to have such an eclectic cluster of friends. Each one different. Each one special. Each one precious. Whether I’m still working, or not.

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Another Cluster

Lunch girls

Salad dressing river and me.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Today I am grateful for another cluster of friends. When I “retired” it was not under the best of circumstances. I wasn’t ready to retire, financially or emotionally, but my work situation warranted that while it felt like the only solution, it was also the best one for me.

But I wasn’t well. My spirit had been squashed so badly that I didn’t recognize myself. My humor was gone. My positive attitude was gone. My hope was gone. My trust in people was gone. I know! That’s how bad it was. I turned inside, letting very few people in on what was going on in my life, or how devastated I was. It’s easy to ask for help when you’re strong and vital, but not so much when you feel bruised and broken. Remember that. I will. Always.

One of my friends, a wonderful, kind woman I met a billion years ago when I first began doing water aerobics at the high school, knew my pain. She invited me to lunch with her circle of friends. Every week. I don’t know how many lunches I attended before I started letting “the real Mary” out, but it was probably six months. That’s a long time to dance around your personality, monitoring every word out of your mouth, wondering if at some point one of them would see you are a fraud, or too loud, or too raw, or too stupid. . .and decide to un-invite you.

But they didn’t uninvited me. They held in and so did I. I started writing the gratitude blog to pull me out of my funk. Some of them read it. And liked it. Then I found my humor and more read it. Soon my words turned to hope. Trust returned. I’m back! They did not know how vital they were to my recovery because I never told them. Until now.

Last week’s lunch was at a place where we could sit outside. But there wasn’t room in the crowded alcove. Were we 5 or 6? I thought 5, others thought 6. Parking was a nightmare. Finally people left so we snatched a table and pulled in another chair. Then the 6th got there and two were going to take a tall table away from the group. That didn’t feel right to some, others were okay with it and others didn’t care one way or the other. Then another table of people left so shuffle, bam, boom, more tables and chairs were shoved around and we were all sitting together. . .just in time for the waitress to dump water all over the table using up every napkin we had. Then my salad dressing carafe decided to tip itself over sending oil and vinegar coursing towards my lap like lava! I snatched my salad bowl and held it under the table edge to catch the drippings before they landed on me. We’re a very classy crowd and not one lunch goes by without belly laughs, strong opinions, the occasional heated discussion, a little bit of gossip, and plans for next week’s lunch. I love these women!

I brought the camera along to the “must be a full-moon (there wasn’t) lunch debacle” and asked to take their picture for the blog and Facebook. Three were okay with it, two opted out and another one is out of town. Okay. That’s fair. That is why I asked. I love that everyone is comfortable enough with each other to be honest. I would never post pictures of someone without their permission, so just picture three more happy faces. You can even put your own in there if you want! Join the cluster of friends.

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Clusters of Friends

The Y tea girls
Monday, July 27, 2015
Today I am grateful for clusters of friends. I’m going to be doing a little series on the different clusters of friends I have made. . .some in the last three years. Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks. . .or make new friends? Probably no one, oh wait, I just did, but I have to be the only one because you are never, ever too old to make new friends.

There are a bunch of women I met when I retired and started going to the morning water aerobics classes at the Harleysville YMCA. It’s hard to carry on a conversation when you are splashing and jumping around like ten-year-olds, but these women like to talk so they soon invited me to join them for “coffee” after class. I put “coffee” in quotes because the sludge that comes out of that machine doesn’t deserve the title without quotes. Now we do tea. I am third on the tea bag. That should tell you something.

The after-water-aerobics-class, bad “coffee”, three-on-a-tea-bag crowd is not always the same. Sometimes it is a huge crowd, sometimes only a few people, but I swear I never leave there without having at least one good ‘ole, from the bottom of your guts belly laugh! Why? Who knows? Over what? Not much. It doesn’t take much. We are like a tag team of stupid talk. Nonsense rules the day.

One day I announced, “I read this article where sniffing rosemary relaxes you.” They waited. . .(I love a compliant audience). . .”But what if rosemary doesn’t want to be sniffed? You could get in a lot of trouble!” Braghhhhhhhh!

And then they were off in a heated discussion about what restaurant was on what road next to whatever down by the old mill on the back of that old highway next to the whatchacallit, you know the barn that sort of fell over but then there was a fire but it didn’t burn down all the way so they made a restaurant out of it but not that restaurant because that restaurant is down the street further and that guy, you know the one, the guy with the limp, well he used to own it but now he doesn’t because he sold it to that woman with the frizzy hair and she made great pies but she couldn’t keep good help in there so she had to sell it too and I have no idea who owns it now!

“Rosemary!” I interject. “Rosemary owns it and when you sniff her you get relaxed.” Braghhhhh! You get the picture.

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