Good Hands

a hands with nails

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Today I am grateful for good hands.  And I’m in them with Allstate.  Wow!  A couple of inches of water; a bunch of work; a thousand phone calls; hundreds of hours on line searching; and some very difficult decisions, but I’m in good hands with Allstate.  Yup.  I am.


Look, it’s never a worthwhile thing to have a mini disaster, like a failing sump pump, while getting eleven inches of rain in eight hours, leaving your basement a petri dish of decaying cardboard.   Not fun.


I’ve been carrying one of those boxes with me since I was 13 years old and John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  It had newspaper clippings from that horrible event as well as the space shuttle disaster, the MOVE assault in Philly and 911, when planes crashed into buildings.  And I never once went through it to read all of that again.  Not once.  But I knew it was there.


At every disaster I’d just save a newspaper and throw it in that box, carrying the terror and sadness with me wherever I moved, except Indonesia.  Then it was in storage.  Really.  Like archived pain and anxiety.


We had a wild washer hose about four years ago that “washed” the basement the last time.  We put most of our stuff in plastic bins and anything still in cardboard on shelves.  But that was four years ago.  A lot of stuff has been shoved around down there since.  We got lax.


Somehow that cardboard box of disastrous memorabilia ended up on the concrete floor.   So when the water came in, that collection of stored horrors soaked it up like a bilge on the Titanic.  I’d probably have a, “She Went Down” paper if I had been alive then, too.


Might I be able to save some of it?  Maybe.  Probably.  But instead I said to Himself, “Toss it.  Toss the whole thing!  I don’t even want to open it up and look at it.”  It took two of us to lift the spongy mess, but it’s in the trash can, waiting to leave my protection forever.


I know it sounds very stupid, but I’m kind of glad.  Even relieved.  Purged.  I don’t want to keep sad things laying around.  I feel like it was a bit morbid to carry JFK’s assassination with me for 57 years.  It’s time to bury him for once and for all. That’s not memorabilia, that’s pain and horror and I get enough of that every day.  I don’t need to save more.


Allstate has already settled my claim.  It has been deposited in our account.  And even though I thought about it every day since, I’m not going to dig through that box of shared disasters.  I’m not going to pull it out and remember again, things that I can never forget anyway.


So today I’m in the good hands of Allstate.  And mine!

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Mrs. Potato Head

a Jim Thorpe pikes peak me looking down like potato face

Monday, August 3, 2020

Today I am grateful for Mrs. Potato Head.  I just never thought I’d be her.  Do you remember back in the day when all you got when you bought her were noses, ears, mouths, hats, jewelry, whatever the manufacturers thought you could cram on you mom’s potato to make a new friend.  It wasn’t like now where you get the plastic “potato”, too.  Those were the days.


We’d dig through mom’s bin and search for the best potato.  Nothing with roots shooting out of their eyes and one with nice smooth skin.  We knew from the last time, that jamming a bunch of plastic crap into a potato is not conducive for a long life.


Soon our potato people would start to wilt, wrinkling up like grandma’s face.  That’s what happened to my poor Spud, who is now resting in peace in a pot on my patio.  I’m hoping for Spudlings, but have no clew when to start digging for them.  Never mind I chopped off the growing plant when I cut lettuce.  Oh well.  It starting to grow again anyway.  This container garden idea is not really working for me.


But potatoes are durable.  Ask Matt Damon, who lived on them in the movie, “The Martian.”  I know I already told you that but I’m old and repeating myself, so cope with it.  I sure have to.  Every day.  And I have to not say, “I heard that one a thousand times,” to Himself, too, when he repeats one of his stories.


When we were away on our we-need-to-GO-someplace-day on Saturday, I took a bunch of pictures, of course.  I’m going to write a blog another day and include some of them, because they are a hoot.  But today I got distracted by the special one I used here.


Let’s just say tropical heat, bright sunshine, no glasses and a cranky woman with a high sensitivity to light are not conducive for seeing what you’re doing on a phone that seems to get darker in the sun.  I tried to get himself to shade me but if you can do the math, you know how well that worked.


Today I went through those mystery pictures and found this gem.  I was going to delete it like I did when I was younger, always wanting only good pictures of me, but I’m over that.  Almost.  But it made me laugh and it might make one of you laugh, so there you have it.  We need to laugh more than I need shame or vanity.  There is none left in me anymore.


So, here is Herself doing the best Mrs. Potato Head impression that I’ve seen since I bought the plastic nose, lips, and ears and jammed them into a Russet myself!  You’re welcome.  I am now Grandma’s face.  It looks like I’m already starting to shrivel.  I hope I last!

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Today I am grateful for ingenuity.  Look, you’d have to be hiding under a rock or living on Mars to not see that our world is in a sorry state of affairs these days, for various reasons.  Covid-19 has everyone scrambling to figure out what to keep open, what to close, what to open later, who should wear a mask (everyone), who doesn’t have to wear a mask but can go in a store or crowd anyway (no one) and when will things ever get back to normal?  Hah! Whatever “normal” will mean in our recent future.  We’re looking at years of a new normal.  Prepare yourself.


Add to that our worry about our children/grandchildren who are having a completely different life experience than we wanted for them.  Family time is different.  Hanging with friends is different.  School is different.  It started at the end of the last term.  Sports, theater, concerts, end-of-year parties, award ceremonies, graduation and a bunch of other things were all cancelled.


How will our kids get through it?  They will.  With the versatility and ingenuity, we rarely give them full credit for.


I remember early coronavirus facetime conversations with my 17-year-old granddaughter, Isabella.  After about a month she was saying that not only did she miss her friends, but she was even starting to miss the people in her various classes that annoy her.  I can relate.  I feel the same way about some of my groups.  There are always “those” who annoy and sometimes I’m the one.


But she coped, spending a lot of time sleeping until 2, going on line, coloring and playing games with her family.  They had an entire “covid-game-station” set up in their house.  Bored?  Go pick something!  I’m telling you I wish I had been sequestered there.  My son and daughter-in-law had it figured out way before we did.


One of the things that Isabella missed the most was prom.  Most of the girls had already gotten their dresses.  Most of the guys moms had already learned that they had grown out of their one dress shirt and bought a new one.  The guys were crawling under their beds to find their tie, or digging in dad’s closet.  Then nothing.  It sucked.


But Isabella did something about it.  Like so many weddings, graduations and other group occasions, she decided to host a Backyard Prom.  Only eight people, staying within guidelines.  ALL had followed previous stay-at-home and current mask requirements.  And all were more than willing to make this an outside event.


She borrowed a “Backyard Prom” banner for pictures, then set up a long table outside, under the deck, with linens and real silverware, unlike what I get when I eat at an outdoor restaurant.  I asked her if she or her parents were cooking and she said, “No, we’re catering it in.  I’m not messing with that.”  Cool.  I asked what they were having and she said, “They’ll eat what I order, but chicken parm for sure.”  We laughed.  She figured if she did the work, they’d have to trust her for the food, too.  I agreed.


Of course, I asked about her dress.  This isn’t my first prom discussion and any self-respecting grandmother KNOWS it’s all about the dress!  She had a purple one that was borrowed and red one that was new, but she decided to wear the purple and save the red one for next year because maybe there will be an actual prom and if not then she’d wear it to next years “Backyard Prom”.  See!  No panic.  Just well thought out.  Kids are unbelievably versatile.  She is, anyway.  I’m so proud of her.


Because she’s 17 and all that implies, I wouldn’t have even known about this if my son hadn’t told her that she should call me and tell me, because “grandma will love this idea.”  He was right.  I do.  I’m thrilled to have been included and was even more thrilled to get the pictures and permission to print them.


And I’m impressed with the forward-thinking, self-starting, ingenuity of my granddaughter.  We all need to take a lesson.  Our kids will be fine.  They will figure it out and grow in ways we can’t imagine.  Especially if we get out of their way. And let them!

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a john lewis and obama pic

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Today I am grateful for a breather.  No, I’m not shutting off all forms of communication and crawling under the covers, although that is an intriguing possibility.  But since I no longer sleep well, what would be the point?  No, my breather came the other day in the form of the funeral for John Lewis.


When I think of the hundreds of thousands of people who lost loved ones during this awful pandemic and were denied holding funerals for them because of shutdown precautions, it makes me so sad.  The week long celebration of life for John Lewis felt like a funeral for all of those people, as well as him.


To say you felt joy watching a funeral seems a bit insane, but that’s what I felt.  Not joy because he’s gone, that’s for sure, but joy because of how he lived and how committed so many people are to keep his message alive.  I know I am looking to get into some “good trouble”.


The man traveled more in death than he probably had in years, bouncing all over the country, giving people in so many locations a chance to pay last respects.  Respect being the operative word.  When you have the decency and grace of John Lewis, you deserve respect.  People don’t even balk at showing it to you, because you’ve earned it the hard way.


I watched as much of it as I could manage, but not all.  During the actual funeral I did not set the recorder long enough, so I still want to listen to the last ten minutes of Obama’s speech.  I’m savoring that for later.


So, what were my take-aways from all of this aside from the fact that they should change the name of the bridge where his skull was bashed in so many years ago, to the John Lewis Memorial Bridge?

One is how impressed I always am with the military honor guards.  They must rehearse for hours and hours to maintain that kind of discipline and precision.  Flawless.  And I bawl every time I see them, just like I did when I’d enter the embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia and get saluted by a full-dress marine.


Another is the family.  How did they do this?  It must have been exhausting beyond words.  When my dad died suddenly almost thirty years ago, there were hundreds of people who paid respects.  We stood and stood and stood and stood.  We smiled and told stories and shook hands and wiped tears until there was nothing left of us but a pile of exhaustion.  That lasted two days. This family has been full-out for over a week.  I commend them for their stamina as well as their devotion and love.


I sat to watch the funeral which I had recorded and listened to all of the speeches very carefully.  The former presidents were great, though I thought George Bush more engaging than Bill Clinton.  Just my opinion.  I’m happy that Jimmy Carter sent a message, but I would have expected as much since he is the poster child for class and grace. I love gospel singing, but some of that grated on my ears.  Why do performers think screaming is more powerful?  For me it just isn’t.  It’s a distraction.  But I’m not here to “review” the proceedings, just offer my comments.


I have two very strong take-aways that have not. . .will not. . .leave my mind.  The first is the young man who read “Invictus”.  Oh my.  What a powerful moment!  I saw later that he melted down in tears, but he aced the reading of that poem like a professional, while I bawled.


The second thing that won’t leave my head is the story a young woman who worked for Mr. Lewis told.  She mentioned how they all had to stay on top of things, remember things, understand things and he would test them on their knowledge.  As representatives of him, they had to measure up to his standards of how to treat people.  I really liked that.  Accountability sometimes goes by the wayside, but if they worked for him, they needed to be committed.


Then she said what she will remember most of him is his laugh.  Not the laugh that people saw in public, but the tipping back in his chair, head thrown back, full-on, belly laugh that she had seen so often.  She gave us that visual gift, because I searched for hours to find even one picture of him in full on laughter and there are none.  He’s shouting, serious, talking, engaging, but not laughing in any of the hundreds of pictures I looked through.  But now I have a picture of him in full-on laughter, because that young woman gave it to me.  And I laugh like he did.


So, I take-away from this sad event my admiration for those who carefully choose their words and speak them with eloquence; the respectful precision of our military honor guards; the strength of a dedicated family; the tears of a grateful nation as a boy reads a poem; and the full-on, bell-laughter that was John Lewis.


His was a life well lived and he deserves a breather.  I do, too.  But not for long.  Because still I have some “good trouble” to get into!


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Conversation with my Mom

Friday, July 31, 2020

Today I am grateful for a conversation with my mom.  At 93, she can be a bit, um, well, cantankerous.  I’m used to it.  I expect it.  I know you’re thinking that at 93 she’s earned the right, which is true.  But she’s also been practicing for a lot of years.  Sometimes that crankiness is exhausting.  For me, not her.  She never tires of it.


I hold my breath whenever I call my mom because I never know what new issue will be pissing her off and I’ll have to steer her towards talking about her cat.  That always works.  With so much in the world irritating me, I think sometimes she does the same with me, asking how the great grand kids are when I’m off on a tangent.  Ha-ha.  Apparently, the twig-tree theory applies here.


The other day my sister called and asked if I had called mom.  I hadn’t and we were in the car.  My sister said mom called her and needed my phone number.  My mom has my phone number.  My number is programed into her phone.  She is getting forgetful and doesn’t remember that.  She also has macular degeneration and can’t see to dial and couldn’t read the number if it was written down. . .even if she could find it.  So, while Himself was running into Walgreens, I called her.  This is how it went.  Imagine her panicky voice.


Me:  Hey Mommie Dearest, (I always call her this so she knows it’s me) it’s

Mary.  I understand you were going to call me.


Mom: Hello, Sweetheart!  I’m glad you called.  Now listen, I know you’re going to think your mother has gone round the bend but just let me throw something out there because I’m doing it whether you think it’s a good idea or not.


Oh boy.  Swell.  I was intrigued.  And terrified.  And curious as hell.  I said nothing.


Mom:  Did I lose you again.  (I often wonder if I should sometimes answer “yes” to this, just to mess with her, but I don’t.  See what a good daughter I am.)  Is there something wrong with this damned phone again?  I hate this phone.


Me:  I’m here.  I’m intrigued.  What now?  Are you going to start making pies to sell?  Did someone hook up your stove?  Are you writing a column again that you need my help with?  Getting a boyfriend?


Mom:  Shut up, Mary!  (I hear this a lot) Now just listen to me because I don’t want you telling me it can’t happen and I’m getting on a plane and coming out to visit you and I’m staying with you and I don’t want to hear one word about it.  I want to see my Great Grand Children!!!!  And I miss my grandsons!!!  And I’m coming and that’s all there is to it and you can’t stop me!!!!


While she was shouting at me, insisting her plan was solid, my brain was frying.  At her Assisted Living Community, in Wisconsin, they are still not allowed to have outside visitors in the building, not to mention their apartments/rooms.  All visits have to be on the patio or porch.  My sister hasn’t been to mom’s room since early February.  Now she wants to fly to Pennsylvania.


How could she pack all by herself?  Survive the car ride to the airport?  Endure the check-in procedure?  Tolerate the uncomfortable conditions on all planes?  Wear the required masks?  I’m picturing an international incident if anyone forces her to do anything.  What my mom lacks physically she has made up for with her words.  And they are not always thought through before she rants.


I’ve talked to mom after she’s had visits with my niece or sister and she is absolutely exhausted, “done in”, even if she uses the walker or someone takes her down in a wheelchair.  It wears her out.  I know, it’s to be expected.


And she can’t see.  There is a very specific distance where she can see someone.  If you’re too close or too far away, forget it.  Her bad vision also means that she cannot Zoom, SKYP or Facetime with anyone, which saves me some days, so she hasn’t “seen” anyone.  That sucks.  And she cannot even tell who people are in printed pictures anymore.  It’s sad.  Very sad.


Noise bothers her, though I don’t know why because she’s pretty deaf, yet refuses to wear those, “damned hearing aids.”  But she gets tired around a lot of commotion and probably more so now that we are all so separated and not used to it.  I’m kind of that way myself these days, so I get it.  How quickly we become used to a different way when forced to.


I let her ramble for a while because she was so adamant, but my heart was breaking because I knew how impossible her idea was on so very many levels.  And she sounded so defeated and lonely.  I could feel through the cyber connection how desperately she wants to meet her youngest great grandchild; how much she wants to see what great young people the others are becoming.  I get it.  She’s lonely.  And that’s a disease unto itself.  All of the phone calls in the world don’t make up for face-to-face visits, even if the people your visiting annoy you after twenty minutes.


But when we last visited it took forever to get her in a car.  That’s even worse now.  Then if we did manage a lunch or a Dollar Store visit, she could barely get back in the car and then barely get to her room.  Any short trip “did her in” for days.  How on earth could she fly in a plane all the way here and survive?  Wearing a mask.  In the middle of a worldwide pandemic.  Enough time had passed.  Her rant was wearing down so I took my opportunity.


Me:  Mom, I’m so sorry, but I have to interrupt you because what you are thinking of doing is impossible.


Mom:  Shut up, Mary.  (see) Why?  I want to see my great grandkids!!!  Don’t you tell me NO!  I’m going to stay with you.  (She was almost crying and I was, but I’m the weeper in the family, not her.)


Me:  Mom, you know you are always welcome here.


As I said it, I was running through the fact that she’d have to stay in our room and the bed is too high so I’m not sure she could get in it.  But she could never manage the steps to the guest room.  And I have two steps to get in the house and a lot more space to maneuver.  And could we manage with just the walker or need the wheelchair?  Would I have to move furniture for either?


Mom:  Well I better be!  Cuz I’m coming!


Me:  I wish you were mom, but no.  That’s impossible.


Mom:  Why?  Why not! Tell me why! (Now she’s pissed!  I recognize her more clearly as my mother.)


Me:  We are in a pandemic, mom.  (I paused to let that sink in and could hear the air drain out of her in a mom-type huff.) It’s just not safe for you to travel, for anyone to travel actually.  But for you it’s unsafe to even got to the store at this point.  Not to mention coming all the way here to Pennsylvania.


Mom:  What?  What are you saying?  (Selective hearing happens with moms as well as husbands.)


Me:  You DO know about the pandemic, right?


Mom:  Of course, I do, I’m not an idiot!  But what does that have to do with my great-grand- children?


Me:  Mom, you would have to stay in my house for two whole weeks before any of them could see you because we’d have to be sure you didn’t have the coronovirus from the trip.  And with the distancing issues I’m afraid you wouldn’t be able to get close enough to see them anyway, even after two weeks.


Mom:  Well I’m coming. (By now, I’m a mess.  I don’t want to hurt her but I have no choice.)


Me:  But, mom, isn’t that going to tire you out too much?  Won’t it be very hard on you?  Don’t you wear out fast?  (This is what it must have been like when she was trying to reason with me when I was a kid.)


Mom:  I do, but then I sleep.


Me:  No one is going to wake you at the airport while your catching a nap in the middle of the concourse.  I can hear the loud speaker now, “Passengers of flight 302.  Your flight has been delayed because one of our elderly passengers is taking a nap.  When she awakens, we will proceed as previously scheduled.  But late.  Very late.  We’re sorry for the inconvenience.”  Mom, they are not going to pour you onto a plane sound asleep, or hold the plane so you can finish your nap.


Mom:  They won’t?  (By now she knows I’m messing with her.  Another huff.)  So, I can’t come?


Me:  No, it’s not safe.  I’m so sorry, mom.  No, you can’t come.  It’s just not possible right now.


Mom:  But I want to see my grandchildren and great grandchildren. (She sounds so small and sad.)


I’m choking on my own tears and can barely respond to her.  Do I know that feeling of missing your kids or grandkids?  You bet.  Do I want my hugs out there, sweeping people into what I call a Mary Hug?  Yes, I do.  Do I hate being hidden behind a mask, where no one can see how many times I’m smiling at strangers?  Yes, I hate it. You bet.  Just because I’m not perpetually bitching about it, does that mean I’m okay with all of this?  Nope.  Not even a little.  But I can’t tell that to my mom, because all she knows is that she misses her grandkids and great grandkids.


Me:  I know you do, mom.  This is all really hard on everyone, but especially you because you are so isolated now.  Maybe we’ll be able to come out next Spring. (We were supposed to be there now, but all plans got squelched.)


Mom:  You think so?  I hope so.  (Then she laughs.) Do you think I’ll still be here?  Maybe I’ll croak.


She loves this joke.  I don’t find it funny.  Okay, well sort of funny, but not really.  Who knows at this point?  And before you say it, because I know you’re thinking it, yes, I know that I might not ever see my mom again.  I realize that every time I talk to her.  And if I forget, she reminds me.  We both take a breath. Then. . .


Me:  So how is Louise? (The cat)


Mom:  Oh, her majesty is all racked out on my lap.


Me:  She’s doing what a cat is supposed to do.


Mom:  I have to go.  My voice is wearing out and I have a furry belly to scratch.


I’ve had way worse conversations with my mom, but none that pulled my heartstrings like this one did.  Next time I hope she’s at least a little cantankerous because I’m way more comfortable with that mom.

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Social Distancing Lane in the Swimming Pool

a pool cartoon

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Today I am grateful for the social distancing lane swim at the swimming pool.  Boy, that’s a mouthful, just like a bad gulp of the chlorinated liquid, that chokes in your throat.  Wordy today, I guess.


My local outdoor pool, one of the few open in my area, is open one hour before it’s usual time for lane swimming/walking.  The first few times my friend and I went, there was hardly anyone there.  Now the word is out and this morning it was packed!  Not all, but most of us are of a “certain” age.   Just like in the movie, “Cocoon”, with Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronin.


There are only three lane-lines up, but way more people want to swim so we take down the deep end rope and they squeeze in among us walkers/sometimes swimmers.  We are getting pretty good at jumping out of their way.  It’s friendly, but not exactly socially distant when it’s that crowded.


This morning I suggested that yet another late entering swimmer might find more room on the other side of the lanes, where there were fewer people.  He said, “No, I’m okay here.  I don’t mind.”  I guess I was too subtle, or he was too young, because he was sure no geezer.


I decided to take myself out of the equation and go to the diving well where I was blissfully alone.  I was doing deep water aerobic/swimming/jogging/sort of.  But for an hour and a half it was substantial.  After I was there for fifteen minutes, Mr. I’m-okay-here-I-don’t-mind, moved from his lane and jumped into my “private” pool.


This young guy is kind of simple and sweet, so I joked, “Are you invading my space?  I came over here so you’d have more room.”  He laughed and told me he had to dive to the bottom for treasures and did I want to join him?  I did my usual twenty minutes on how I float like a buoy and haven’t been able to reach the bottom of a pool. . .ever. . .because of it.  “Even when I was young and thinner, I still floated.”   He didn’t believe me.


I wowed him with my demonstration of pretending to sit in a chair without kicking or moving my arms. . .at all. . .and not sinking a bit.  Then I showed him how when I take a really deep breath, I pop-up, right out of the water and when I blow it out, I go under about to my nose.  I did that four times.  He laughed.  I love a good audience.  I am available for party entertainment.  If you have a pool.


“See,” I said.  “I’m a buoy.”  He told me where someone like me might come in handy, like if a canoe tips over.  I told him I shoulda been on the Titanic.  “Think of the lives I could have saved.”  He laughed again.


We waxed poetic about all of this while swimming back and forth, with him occasionally surface diving, then announcing the treasures he was bringing up.  “I got three earrings, a couple of hair ties and two quarters.”  He proudly piled it all on the pool deck.


As we neared the official opening time, the other lifeguards started filling in the other chairs.  They were going to take his treasure pile, but mostly because one girl recognized her friend’s earring.  “You can have everything else, but those quarters are mine for the snack stand!”   He was very excited.  And generous with his treasures.  But no one was getting those quarters!


Later, ducking under the ropes to walk a few laps and stretch, I heard a couple of older newbies chatting.  Okay, shouting, “I don’t care!  I’m sick of staying home.  I’m not letting a virus rule my life!”


Note to self – STAY AWAY FROM HER.  I continued with my stretches and heard two women ream her out about how stupid that was, that this virus was dangerous and we all had to be responsible.  I don’t know if they were friends, but if they were, they probably aren’t any more.


“I want to eat in restaurants and be waited on!” Mrs. Irresponsible yammered.  “I’m eating out and if it kills me, it kills me.”  How flippant we are with words sometimes.  Is your chicken salad sandwich really more important than your life?  Poor you.


“I’m eating out in my kitchen,” one of the other women said, laughing. “I hope it doesn’t kill me!”  It was like a junior-high/geezer-style cat fight that could have been a scene in the movie, “Cocoon”.


I left before aliens started throwing pods into the pool.  No way do I need to be rejuvenated enough to live forever or, God forbid, get younger!  I survived the bullying of elementary school, the nastiness of junior high and the cliques of high school.  I have no desire to go back and re-live any of that.


My needs are small.  A nice, relaxing, socially distant, lane swim in my community pool and living through my own cooking are right up there.  Oh, and I have to remember to bring quarters.  I wonder what he can get at that snack bar for three or even four quarters?  This could get expensive.  I’m counting on it.

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New Grand-Kittens

Monday, July 27, 2020

Today I am grateful for grand-kittens.  Both of our local sons and families have new kittens.  One has one, the other has two.  It’s like a study in hairballs!  But what fun.


We had the opportunity to check out Misty at our son and his wife’s anniversary party.  She’s a hoot, rolling and wrestling with Winnie, their cockapoo, like they were siblings.  Unfortunately, their existing cat, Tacocat, (spelled the same backwards and forwards), is not happy.  She likes being outside anyway and is now dramatically telling all of the feral animals how horrible her life has become since the new kitten arrived.  She comes in the house to eat, take a few swipes at the kitten, and hide before sneaking out again.


There are two new kittens at the other house and they are a tag team of destruction.  We saw them when visiting a granddaughter who is house sitting for her dad.  Watching them was way more exciting that TV and less stressful.


Growing up we had hundreds of kittens, so I know how they play, rolling and nipping at their buddies necks and kicking the other guy in the guts.   That’s how these kittens play.  Like the siblings they are.  Like my sons used to, only without the subsequent stitches.  So far.


But old Ruby, a beautiful gray tabby, whom we have kept here in the past, is not a fan.  She loves Himself and loves being brushed, but could barely sit still for it because she was flipping out at those kitten intruders.  She sleeps with one eye open, hissing and taking a swing at them if one ventures too close.  Like human toddlers, they are barely phased and push her every second.


Since their nemesis, the four-year-old granddaughter wasn’t there to love them to distraction, they seem to have gotten bolder, leaping on the dining room table, surfing the cloth to the ground and sharpening their claws on the rug.  I scolded.  They looked at me just like a toddler does.  Then they did it again.  I slapped the table and the stopped.  For two seconds, then practically gave me the finger with their paws.


I thought they were settling down when Daisy, probably egged on by Oliver, came charging from the dining room, through the living room and leaped in one motion, like she had been projected from a dart gun, to land hanging in the middle of the sheer curtains on the front window.  Wow.  Too fast to even scold.


It’s so much fun having new grand-kittens.  But I’m glad I’m not living with them full-time.  Just watching them leaves me exhausted.

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Gastronomic trip to Paris

a croissant, choco almond

Friday, July 24, 2020

Today I am grateful for a gastronomic trip to Paris.  Okay, I didn’t actually go to Paris, but I felt like I did when I ate this amazing chocolate/almond croissant from Bakers on Broad in Souderton, PA.  OMG!


To call this thing delicious is a gross injustice.  It’s way more than that.  It felt like I had been given a vital medicine that would cure my sadness and fear with every bite.  Amazing.


Let’s face it, the corona-munchies are alive and real in our world.  How about yours?  I know some of you are using this time to go on every diet known to humanity.  You want to stay the course, stay fit, never stray from your food plan by eating anything wonderful/nasty/delicious.  Good for you.  Sadly, I’m not one of them.  Neither is Himself.


I’m at the pool exercising a lot, so that’s my disclaimer.  But even if I wasn’t, the pure joy I got from becoming one with this incredible treat, from savoring each bite, was worth every single calorie.  Every single one.  And we bought four so I have them cut in half and frozen for another time.


I know I’m a fool for telling you about these, because now I’m sure that “Bakers On Broad” will have a run on them, like poor George Bailey’s bank in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  But that’s okay.  You can go on line to place an order and check out their other delights.  The baguettes are the drug of choice for Himself.  They barely make it home without a chunk out of them and if he took butter with him when he picks them up, they wouldn’t stand a chance.


I like to include the good as well as the not so good in my blogs.  It’s what keeps me well-rounded and almost sane.  And this was a GREAT!  So today I share the wonderfulness of this chocolate/almond croissant because you deserve a gastronomic trip to Paris, too.  Enjoy!  Viva la France!


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a high avenue beach sunrise full on sun

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Today I am grateful for constants.  After writing yesterday’s blog about carrying the load of the world on my shoulders, I got to thinking about things in my life that are constant.  The sun will always come up in the east, like it is in this picture, taken at the High Avenue beach in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  And it will always set in the west.  Always.


Constant, in some cases doesn’t mean they’ll be that way forever, but that they sure are constant right now.  Like, for instance, our morning routines.


We rarely wake up at the same time.  Most times I’m up for hours before Himself.  Hours.  I have the dishwasher emptied and my breakfast finished before I even see the whites of his eyeballs, which is a good thing because we don’t do the kitchen dance very well.


Last night I slept better than I have in weeks.  I was still in bed at 8 am, when Himself started banging around the bedroom being “quite” because he thought I was still sleeping.  FYI-a man without hearing aids has NO IDEA how to be quiet because he can’t here all of his own rattling noise.

We basically got up at the same time.  Which meant being in the kitchen at the same time.  By the time I got out there he had already staked his claim, with two plates each holding two pieces of wheat bread, waiting to go into the toaster at the exact moment when his tea would be the right temperature.  There were also two knives.  Usually I don’t see this performance so I asked, “Why do you need two plates and two knives?”


He looked at me shocked that I was deigning to speak to him while he was in his breakfast prep process.  He did a stage double-take from me to the plates and knives, then said, “So I don’t get toast crumbs on the butter.”  That doesn’t’ explain the plates, but I figured it was related somehow.


Then he proceeded to tell me how if you slice off two pats of butter, one for each piece of toast, from the git-go and leave them sit on the butter dish that way, they will be free and ready for the next slice and you won’t have to go back and get crumbs on the butter.  Then you do the same thing for the next batch.  And yes, the new plate is crumb related, too. Wow.  That’s a lot of thought.


His tea and toast ready, he sat down to eat while I did my own weird process, which is not nearly as weird as his, I promise, and quite boring so I’m not going to describe it.  I’ll let him do that sometime.


But as I was mixing my yogurt with fruit, I noticed the “new” plate was now without the next two slices of bread.  They were waiting to be pushed down in the toaster.  But the plate had a large pat of butter on it and a knife with another large pat of butter leaning against it.


“Okay,” I said.  “I get the anal process of no crumbs on the butter, but to have the butter on the knife waiting in the holding bin for the other toast to pop is just too much.”


He threatened to start on my foibles so I made tracks.  Fast.  Sunrises are constant.  Sunsets are constant. And the breakfast process of Himself is constant.  All is right with the world.

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a carpet on guy carrying it (2)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Today I am grateful for strength.  I think many of us surprise ourselves with how strong we actually are.  I know I do.  I get hit with a set-back, real or perceived and I’m sure I’m going to crumble under the weight of it.  But I don’t.  Never have.  Refuse to.


I’ve lost my balance a few times and needed a little time to regroup, but I haven’t crumbled.  Not yet anyway.  Some days it seems questionable if that trend will continue for me.  And maybe you.  We are under a lot of stress as humans and as a nation.  Sometimes it’s overwhelming.  We can’t let it crush us.


I’m not feeling the joy these days.  Poor Himself wants to do some shaggy-dog parable on the video today, so I’m going to have to pull out all of my acting skills to introduce him, because I’m just not feeling it.  I feel more like the guy who carried my carpeting in all by himself because the other guy couldn’t get a grip on it.  I’m him.  Weighed down, bent over from the burden, but still moving forward.


Acting skills come in handy at times like this.  Act it until you feel it.  So, I’m walking around these days “acting” like everything is moving smoothly and okay; like people aren’t getting sick in droves; like anyone in the government gives two-shits about any of us; like everything will sort itself out.


Fake it till you feel it.  That’s acting at its best.  In real life.  Years ago, when people would ask, “Are you an actor?” I would answer with, “Yup, and sometimes even on stage.” Good thing I have the strength to maintain the challenges of my role.  You do, too.

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