Cayman on the Train

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Today I am grateful for Cayman.  Boy it’s been a whirlwind visit with my friend from Wisconsin.  He and Himself hit it off like old buddies and we had a blast.  I have enough belly-laughs stored up for months.  I’ve missed connecting with everyone, but I was too exhausted each night to breath, not to mention write.  But my head has been writing all week so these next few will be easy to put down.


So who is Cayman?  Wait for it.  You know I’m going to set the scene first.  Didn’t miss me that much, did you?  Lol.


My friend from Wisconsin, a friend from here, Himself and I took the train in to Philly to ride the Big Bus and go to the Eastern State Penitentiary. As visitors. . .this time at least.  Who knows if I’ll be forced to commit a felony in order to secure adequate health care in the future?


It was a great day, full of laughter and stories.  It was also hot.  And humid.  Mama don’t do hot and humid without bitching voraciously.  FYI – Mama is me.  And the Big Bus (hop-on; hop-off) was a Big Bust.  Live and learn.  “They come every 20 minutes,” the ad said.  Yeah, right.  Unless there is traffic, or construction, or the bus driver has to stop for coffee, or take a piss, or scratch his ass, or someone else’s ass.


We waited outside the penitentiary for over 40 minutes.  In the hot sun.  And 900% humidity.  No place to sit.  It was cruel.  Brutal.  So hot we decided to sit on the lower level when the bloody bus finally came because this one, at least, had air conditioning.  Most of them didn’t.  “Oh, it’s broken.”  Really?  Break this!  My trigger finger came in handy.  You need that appendage in the city, even if it’s just popping up under your purse or behind your back.  It helps.


I don’t remember what else we did that day, but it doesn’t matter.  The point is that by the time we got to the train to come home, much later, everyone who was in the city was hot, sticky and exhausted.  Everyone!!!  Not just us.  Hot, sticky and exhausted translates to pushy.  I was sick of crowds.  Everyone in the crowd was sick of crowds.  We popped on the train through a back door and found seats easily.  At the door in the front of the car there was a kerfuffle.


A conductor, Cayman, was holding the shoving mass at the door, taking no excuses for them to push past him, making them wait.  Philadelphian commuters don’t like to wait.  But they complied. He insisted they make a path, wedging them aside, so that a tiny, very frail, very old blind lady with a service dog could board.  He situated her in a front seat, allowing her to take her time placing her bag where she could find it and making sure the dog and all dog parts were out of the aisle so they wouldn’t be stepped on.  It was awesome to watch.  Nurturing.  Caring.  Kind.  Gentle.


When she was all set, he let the masses board and continued his business like it was just any other day.  Except he frequently checked on the lady with the dog to be sure she was okay.  Yes, I had to tell him how impressed I was with him and yes he said I could use his picture.  Septa should be very proud of this young man.  I know I am and I’m not even his mama.  We need more Cayman’s in this world.  BING!  Heartprint!

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Subway Musicians


Friday, September 15, 2017

Today I am grateful for subway musicians.  You won’t be hearing much from me for the next week because I have a friend visiting from Wisconsin and we are all going and doing all day long for the next few days.


Today we went to New York City to visit the World Trade Center Memorial.  What an experience for all of us.  But more on that another time, because today I’m all about the wonderful cellist who popped on the subway train as we were heading back to Penn Station to catch the other train back to Trenton.


He played, Bach’s, “Cello Sonata”, movement number one, according to my friend, Patrick, who should know because he is recently retired from a long lived musical career.  I have a video, too, but I’m not sure I can get that to work in the blog, so we’ll see.


What a treat!  Live music to drown out the click-clack of the subway and take our eyes off of our cell phones for five minutes.  I love New York City. . .and most especially the subway musicians.

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Limited Pallet

red queen-best\


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Today I am grateful for a limited pallet.  I have a lot of artist friends which is wonderful and also frustrating because I sure ain’t them!  While I confess to having a moderate amount of talent I rarely challenge myself and stick to what I know how to do.


When I was learning about art as a kid they made you draw before you could paint.  Drawing was basic to everything.  I’m a lousy drawer, but I can paint.  It was the same thing with sculpting.  You had to be able to draw what you wanted to create in full form.  Nope.  Couldn’t draw then, either.  And while I haven’t use a hammer and chisel over a block of wood (I’ve never tried), I can mold clay pretty well.  So I paint and I sculpt, but don’t draw.  Confused? Hah! You should be me.


That’s where adult coloring books come into the picture.  I love them.  I have felt so much stress these days and I realize that a lot of other people do, too.  Someone at my weight watchers meeting suggested coloring to a woman who felt the stress, too.  Yes, it was me.  I made the suggestion.  But I hadn’t been doing it myself.  Don’t you get caught not following your own good advice?  So I started coloring again, keeping my bag of tricks close by in case I get the urge.


I think Himself got the “Game of Thrones” coloring book for Christmas from one of the grandkids.  I had no clue about the series when he got it, but since then have caught up because, just like smart phones, facetime, texting, a grandma’s gotta do what a grandma’s gotta do.  Too many of the kids and grandkids are GOT fans.  I had to hop on board or be left out.  They give me a lot of guidance because half the time I’m as lost as the undead.


I love using a lot of color, but GOT is dull and dreary in a cold, medieval, heads-on-sticks way.  Except for the Red Queen.   For the first time ever, I challenged myself and chose only red, yellow, orange, tones with a little purple.  Plus I used only pencils.  No sharpies, glitter pens or highlighters.  I really had to ponder, consider and. . .horror-of-horrors. . .”think” about what I was doing.  I hate when that happens.  I don’t know if I’ll do that again.  It’s exhausting using a limited pallet, yet my troubles are nothing compared to those of the Red Queen!

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Thirty-Five Years!


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Today I am grateful for 35 years.  That is how long Himself and I have been married.  Wow!  When I mentioned it to one of my young friends, she said, “That’s my entire life.”  Mine, too.


Anyone married for any length of time is lying if they tell you every minute is bliss.  Totally lying.  Or in enough denial to own a river in Egypt.  But when you get a little on in years, the stuff that used to bug you about someone seems to bug you less and less.  Or more and more, except you don’t dwell on it so much.  I’m really not sure which it is.  Probably it fluctuates someplace between the two.


The key to a successful marriage, in my opinion is not only love, though that sure helps.  It’s like.  If you don’t like the person who lives in the same house with you, you are dead in the water.  I think that’s where some young people make their mistake.  They love someone, but they tolerate them and don’t really like them that much.  Yes, it’s possible, just like it’s possible to like someone but not love them.  Too esoteric?  Probably, but my mind is all over the place like the 180 mile winds of Hurricane Irma, who is battering Florida right now.


Through the years you learn to set your bar a little lower and not sweat the small stuff.  I’m happy if he cleans up the bread crumbs of the crusty French bread he loves.  He’s happy if I take the newspapers off the bathroom sink.  When I worked I made the bed if he was up by the time I left.  He emptied the dishwasher.  Now that we are retired we often do both together.  It’s a dance living with someone.  One leads and the other follows, then the other leads and the other follows.  It’s what creates balance for us.


And we laugh.  All the time.  Sometimes it’s with irony, sometimes it’s out of frustration, sometimes it’s just because we’re both crazy.  Himself is a clever, funny guy.  I’ve been known to wax with some wit occasionally.  Together we’re like Burns and Allen and if you don’t know who they are you’re not reading this anyway.  Or Google them.


When we married, we combined three of his kids, two of mine, his two cats, my two cats and we got a puppy.  Blended family?  Hah!  Anyone who has lived through this would not call it blended, more like Irma, a category 5 hurricane.


Thirty-five years?  When we got married there were “friends” of both of us (no longer) who gave it three!  It’s been a blast, in a twisted way, and I wouldn’t give back a minute.  Himself wouldn’t, either and I know this because I just asked him.


“No, I wouldn’t.  We did some stuff we would do differently now because we learned.  But it hasn’t gotten any worse.”  I look at him like only a wife can.  He re-groups.  “It’s only gotten better.  And we love each other, right?”  Way to back-pedal!  And that’s why we’re still together.  What a romantic guy!  Then I laugh!  Again!

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Interesting Questions


Saturday, September 09, 2017

Today I am grateful for interesting questions.  The other day Himself, who checks his blood sugar every other day, said, “Hmmm, I wonder why my blood sugar is up? It must be from that injection I had for my back.”


Yeah, that’s what it’s from.  The injection.  I love this crazy-ass man and you will all be happy to know that he is very much improved since the injection.  Way less pain. . .for both of us!


And the blood sugar is down a lot, too!  Decided he might have been going a little crazy with the sweets.  Ya think?  Another interesting question.


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Passage of Time


Friday, September 08, 2017

Today I am grateful for the passage of time.  I don’t like hanging around in a state of sadness, but when you lose a friend or loved one, it can be difficult to yank yourself up by the proverbial boot straps and be your perky-self right away .  I do very well. . .and then not so well.  A service would have helped me, I think, but maybe not.


When I walked up my driveway today I couldn’t help noticing my spectacular zinnias, especially the tall yellow one in the corner, because it started out on the disabled list in Spring.


We live in a community and there are great people who take care of our flower beds, lawn and snow.  Because zinnias are the only flowers that seem to thrive in the all-day sun at the front of the house, I’ve planted them for years.  When I dead head, I toss the heads in the back, so many come up from seed every year.  This year I had about ten of them.


When the gardeners came through I was fearful they would think they were weeds so I was out there putting signs up to not pull the new plants.  In English.  Except I know that most of the crew speaks Spanish so I walked over to the great foreman, who is bilingual and asked him to be sure they didn’t pull my new plants.  He understood, but being a bit OCD over the little darlings, on my way out of the development, I mentioned to the owner of the grounds service company what I had told the foreman and that I had put signs out to not pull the plants.  He had it covered, too.  You have already guessed where this is going, I’m sure.


When I saw the workers heading towards my house, I made sure I was out there to instruct them.  I’m pretty proud of my communication skills because I lived for three years in Jakarta, Indonesia and only knew 50 Indonesian words, yet managed to be understood.  The two young men watched my gestures and listened to my slow English with rapt attention.  I pointed to the plants, shook my head “no”, then did a pulling motion with my hand and shook it back and forth in front of me.  They nodded.  Good, they get it, I thought, and went inside to do my crossword puzzle.  I didn’t want to micromanage them.  Anymore.


The windows were open and the table is right under them, so I smiled to myself when I heard the young men yammering between them in their native language while they worked in my flower bed.  How sweet.  When I got to 24 across there was a loud shout in rapid-fire-probably-full-of-cursing, loud Spanish!


I opened my front door to see the foreman standing on the stoop holding the remains of the sprouted zinnias, roots torn apart and stripped of leaves, shaking them in the faces of the young men and trying to translate his chastisement to me without the curse words.  “I tell!  I sorry!  They no listen!”  He was not happy.


I was very sad, more sad than the incident called for.  I know it’s stupid because they were only plants, but it meant extra expense and I thought I had covered all the bases to save them.  That said, they were only plants and not worth a broo-ha-ha that would make the workers feel bad so I told the foreman it was okay.  He handed me the one drooping, sad seedling and I put it in a pot that was on the porch to plant when they were done.


Four months later and it is taller than all of the others.  What’s the moral of the story?


No matter how sad and droopy you might look today, as long as you still have your roots, before you know it you’ll be standing upright and blooming like a fool.  Just like my yellow zinnia.  Sometimes all that is necessary is a little water, a little sunshine, a little love, and the passage of time.

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Heavy Heart

a beth spivak and clay pic (2)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Today I am grateful for a heavy heart.  Seems like a weird thing to be thankful for, but if my heart was not heavy today, then I would be made of stone, because late yesterday I learned that a dear friend had died.


I have been trying to reach her by text and phone and never got through except to leave messages and she never got back to me.  Now I know why. She died yesterday at 7:45 a.m. and I am comforted to learn that her only survivor, her sister was with her.


We met at Weight Watchers.  Then she moved almost an hour away and while she continued to go to a meeting near her, sometimes she would still come to our meeting where the support and fun is palpable.  After the meeting she and I would go to breakfast.  Waffles and bacon.  I know.  Don’t judge.  I’m not sorry for one bite!  She liked blueberries on hers.  We’d talk and talk and laugh and then go our separate ways again for weeks or even a month at a time, then pick up right where we left off the next time we saw each other.


I don’t want to get into her personal life because she’d say, “You couldn’t resist, could you!?  You bitch!”  Then she’d laugh and her face would twinkle with dimples, like an elf the day after Christmas.  But I will confess that I went to her Facebook page and pulled up a picture.  I’m not using my favorite one of her with her idol, Richard Dean Anderson, but found one that is perfect because it is with her precious dog, Clay, whom she loved like a child.  Clay was given to a wonderful family, months ago and he is very happy.  Having babysat him when she was away, I’m glad to know he’s okay.


When I knew she was getting sicker and could no longer drive, I asked to come see her.  She gave me her new address and I used the GPS to find her, never knowing that she had been calling my home number telling me not to come because she wasn’t up for company.  I never got the calls.  Then I knocked on her door.  Surprise!  We talked about the journey she was taking, how she wanted to have as much control over her transition as possible.  I took her to lunch and to pick up prescriptions.  It was the last time I saw her, laughing, funny, pissed off. . .very real!  So her.


I tried to go back other times but she always said not to come. . .she couldn’t breathe. . .she was too loopy from the meds. . .I wanted to respect her wishes, but now I wish I hadn’t listened.  I have a very heavy heart.  And that’s okay.

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