Today I am grateful for Trivia. Friends I met through Facebook invited us to attend a senior Trivia event in their township. We went once and loved it.
We planned on going the next month, too. Then, a week before the event, word was out that there was a virus heading our way. We blew it off. We’ve lived through a lot of viruses. Who cares?
I had a routine doctor visit a few days later and asked her about the virus. She said, “Just be a little more careful.” The next day a bunch of people died from it. Two days later stores were shutting down and there was talk of a for real quarantine. Seriously? In 2019? Is this the dark ages?
I discussed whether or not we should go to the upcoming Trivia event with our new friends. We planned to go. Then a day later it seemed smarter to not go. We all decided to go to the next one. Then it was totally cancelled and the world shut down. Completely.
It turns out that “the next one” was last month, well over two years later. Geeze. How’s that for perspective? We went to the “new” second one last week and had a blast. Did we wow the crowd with our brilliance? Hardly. We all felt a little off of our trivia game, but who cares? Not any of us, because we laughed and laughed and laughed! And I’m all about the belly laugh!
When the Covid lockdown happened so many people didn’t have a clue how to handle being alone. We’re not used to it. We’re used to going wherever we want, whenever we want. I get it. It was tough. I will never minimize the effect, especially for those who live alone. I honestly don’t know how they managed.
But I’m happy to say that instead of crawling inside of my own fear and sadness, like I wanted to, I reached out through social media and became better friends with a lot of people I barely knew before Covid.
It is great to make new friends, anytime, anywhere, no matter how old you are, even in the worst of Covid times and even if Trivia, almost three years ago, was only the beginning! BING! Heartprint!
Today I am grateful our little garden is planted. If it was up to me, I’d bag the entire front planting, but Himself insists, so there you have it.
I know that many, many of my friends are very dedicated to gardening. I love looking at their gardens. They are well-planned, beautiful and a helluva lot of work.
I want to love gardening, but I don’t. I wonder if I ever loved it, like maybe I loved camping back in the day, too, but I’m not at all sure I ever liked either one. I still have nightmares about thistles going up my fingernails and burdock-prickers (the precursor to Velcro) stuck all over my socks. Midwest gardening torture.
My dad grew up on a farm and my grandparents still farmed until I had kids. Every summer I’d go out to the farm with my dad and help my grandma pick everything that she had planted in a huge garden. I’m talking huge. Think small park huge.
There was an entire field dedicated to strawberries. She lived very near the entrance of a state park on Lake Michigan and would sell quarts of them to the tourists. I think I picked strawberries before I could walk, or at least it seems that way. “Don’t step on them!” “Lift up the vines and look underneath!” “Don’t pick them with white on! Strawberries don’t ripen after you pick them.” “Don’t eat any. . .they are for sale!” My ears still ring with orders. I like strawberries okay, but I’m not a fanatic. I think this is why.
Then there were the pickles. Those little buggers grow in vines that crawl across the bug-laden ground. You squat, sit or kneel to pick them. Probably all of the above. Spiders crawl up the leg of your shorts if you sit, so kneeling and squatting were preferable.
On the farm nothing except corn grew high enough for you to not break your back while picking it. Pickles were worse than strawberries, because a fresh pickle has sharp prickers on it that feel like your harvesting thumb tacks and leave scars on your fingertips.
Yeah, wear gloves. Sure, I know. But in 90-degree heat, when you are already sweating in the blazing sun and the mosquitos think the backs of your knees are filet mignon, gloves aren’t an option. Unless you need something to throw at your sister.
I helped my dad pick box after box of tomatoes that my mom would can “on the hottest day of the year.” We would pull onions, carrots and kohlrabi out of the reluctant ground. We dug all kinds of potatoes. . .well dad dug, I picked them up from the ground and put them in the bushel basket.
Grandma handed me the broccoli when she whacked it off with her Indiana Jones knife, hollering about how she had to pick it too soon because the green worms were getting it. She would literally put it in a pot of salted water, long before she wanted to cook it so the green worms would crawl out. They didn’t like the salt water. Then we ate it. Worm free. Unless a tenacious one ended up on your plate. Then she’d say, “extra protein.” Today, she’d be arrested for child abuse.
I helped her tie the leaves over the cauliflower as soon as it was getting little white flowerets. (Did you know you had to do that? I did.) I’d sit with her on her back porch for hours snipping the ends off of beans, shucking corn and putting together balsa wood boxes for the berries.
I seem to remember a pretty nice flower garden, too, but it doesn’t ring in my memory as loudly or miserably as the vegetable garden does. So when Himself offered to do the actual planting, saving my sciatica and sanity, it seemed like an offer too good to refuse.
Good thing it was cool and had just rained, making the clay/dirt somewhat easier to dig in. Also it was a good thing I didn’t have him do it when I was away, because he’d still be out there, rolling on his back, legs in the air, like a cricket in the bottom of a chameleon tank. I had to give him an arm up.
The task that used to take a half an hour, this time took two hours, but I’m so grateful our little garden is planted. Himself gets the credit on this one. I would have bagged it. BING! Heartprint.
Today I am grateful I’ve learned when to mind my own business. I think it was the great columnist, Ann Landers who coined the acronym, MYOB. Mind Your Own Business. That covers a lot.
I tell people that I used to have a neighbor who moved her recliner and TV to the front-of-the-house-kitchen so she could stare out the window and see what the neighbors were doing all day long. They think I’m kidding. Nope. I wish I was.
I can barely watch the news anymore, what with trials that shouldn’t be broadcast as news; mass shootings where reporters stick a microphone in the face of those who lost people; politicians who should shut up and go away because they haven’t spoken a word of truth in so long, they convinced themselves to believe their own lies and are now convincing voters; and an appointed Supreme Court of my country who seem to believe they are omnipotent.
Dramatic comments? I don’t care. I’ve been on this earth for a while and have learned a few things, mostly through trial and error. I’m a fan of rendering an honest compliment, but have also come up with a list of things that are simply none of my business.
The personal appearance of anyone, whether badly scarred, handicapped, fat, thin, tall, short, ugly, gorgeous, shaved, bearded.
Anyone’s race, whether black, white, pink, orange, green, purple or any color imaginable.
I have a caveat on this next one. It is none of my business what kind of clothing anyone wears. . .but I’ll balk and maybe stare if essential body parts are exposed. For the eclectic my go to line is, “That’s an interesting choice.”
Whether or not anyone wears nail polish or goes to a salon to get fingers or toes done, or, like me can’t wear nail polish on fingers because it makes you too hot. I know. It’s true. Let it go.
How anyone wears their hair, or dyes their hair, no matter what color of the rainbow. But if you ask, be ready for my honest, albeit (hopefully) gentle opinion.
Anyone who chooses to get a tatoo. Anywhere.
Anyone who chooses to pierce things that would give me the heebie- geebies.
Anyone’s religious beliefs, including whether you go to a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, etc., or don’t.
Anyone’s lack of belief in any religion at all, including atheists and agnostics and some I might not have heard of.
Anyone’s belief in or lack of belief in a higher being.
Anyone’s belief or lack of belief in ghosts, angels, or life after death.
How anyone decides to spend their own money.
Where you choose to live, or how.
What kind of car, motorcycle, bike, skateboard, or roller skates you use for transportation.
Whether or not anyone chooses to get married or not.
Whether or not anyone chooses to live with someone or not.
Whether or not anyone chooses to have a child or not.
Whether or not anyone chooses to adopt a child or not.
Whether or not anyone is gay, straight, bi, trans, or any other variation of the LBGTQ, ever-growing acronym.
Whether someone loves gardening, hates gardening, or lands someplace in the middle, like me.
Whether or not you have a house full of plants that flourish, or those who beg for water and do a Kamikaze on a regular basis, also like me.
What anyone likes to eat, agrees to eat, or won’t eat. (I’m not gonna learn to love oatmeal. Ever!)
What your children eat. Unless I’m asked to feed them. Then I’ll try to comply to your wishes for their diet as much as possible, with a few grandma exceptions if they are my grandkids.
What type of birth control someone uses, or chooses not to use.
Whether or not a man decides to get a vasectomy.
Any choice at all about what any woman can or cannot, should or should not do with her OWN body.
It’s not that I don’t care about all of those things. On the contrary. I care a lot, just like I care about news items, but most of them I don’t really need to know, either. I have to pace myself or my brain will explode.
Maybe someday I’ll write a list of what I think IS my business, but not today. Figuring out what is none of my business has exhausted me. So, when in doubt, take the advice of Ann Landers and me. MYOB!
Today I am grateful for a good belly laugh. This morning we had a wonderful zoom visit with the 15-month-old granddaughter and her daddy.
Following the zoom, while Himself was still trying to get untangled from speaker wires, and haul his ass up from the couch, one of those ridiculous cooking videos popped up on my screen.
Usually, I just scroll right past them, but this time I decided to watch a minute or two, and make Himself watch, too. After all, he likes the British Baking Show. As the “cook” started to lay cut hot dogs into the bottom of a spring pan, Himself was mesmerized. Not in a good way.
“What in the hell is this going to be?” he asked me. I told him I had no clue, which is why we were watching. When the chili got dumped on top of the hotdogs, I thought he would wretch. It was hilarious.
“Are you kidding me?” Himself was getting as animated as he gets. “That looks just like what I flushed this morning!”
By now, as I’m watching his reactions, I am practically hysterical. When the amateur cook spread corn bread on top of the toilet concoction, Himself asked, “What is THAT shit? It looks like spackling.”
Thankfully this wasn’t one of those endless videos and I was able to fast forward to when they dumped the mess out of the pan. I think Himself gagged. I might have cracked a rib laughing. Then the pseudo-cooks decided to garnish the mess with yellow mustard and jalapeno’s.
“Mustard?” Himself shouted. “As if they couldn’t make that disgusting mess worse? Mustard? And jalapeno’s? What’s a jalapeno?”
I could barely take pictures because I was laughing so hard. His kids will recognize what we’ve always called dad’s “chicken” face. Not a fan of chicken. . .orany foods most of the world loves.
Apparently Hot Dog Chili Mustard Jalapeno Surprise is added to his list! I might have to make it here. Because nothing is better than a good belly laugh! BING! Heartprint!
Today I grateful when enough is enough! I raced around like a lunatic this morning paying bills and doing other crap that for the first time in forever, I left the house without making the bed.
Got to water aerobics just in time, went over to where David’s program is going to be tonight to see how Gordon’s drawings look. They look fantastic by the way! Hope to see you tomorrow night at 6 at the Mennonite Heritage Center. Always room for another pitch!
Left there and all the way home I contrived my list of what I had to do in my head. Bank, post office, store, more bills on line, call for cheaper electric, field calls about the air conditioner/heating unit we might need, take a shower, maybe write a blog if I can figure out what I want to say, and make the damned bed.
No where in all of that did I mention deal with more birds! Not once. I thought my bird days were behind me. What a fool I am.
I swing into the driveway, grab my soggy pool bag and rush to the house, keys in hand, to go in the blessed front door. Hah! Silly me. There it was staring at me, nestled in the corner of the door, with a nice, attractive pile of bird shit right next to it.
“Oh no! This is not happening again,” I said to the bird. “You can’t stay here. Go now. Fly away.”
I think it fluffed a feather, but that might have been the bird “finger” or the beginnings of delusions for me instead. After all, I’m the one standing on the porch for ten minutes talking to a bird.
“You have to go. C’mon. It’s easy, just do this,” I was moving my arms like wings, pretty sure my neighbor across the way had her hand on 911 for a lunatic-on-the-loose call. Nothing from the bird. Except stares.
I stepped closer, trying not to scare it because I didn’t want a dead bird any more than I wanted another live one.
“I am not going in through the garage, so you can sit there, so forget it!” I’m trying to reason with it. “I can’t continue to live my life at the whim of every single bird that thinks it has my number. Look up! There is already a bird in that door thingy. This space is taken. Now go.” Sometimes I get very wordy. . .even with birds.
I took another step forward. It still sat there. Oh, for the love of Audubon, is it injured? I can’t open the door because then I won’t have bird-on-stoop, I’ll have bird-in-house and that is not in my plan for today.
I gently move my white pool bag towards it. It hops up, then flies. To the top of my car. That was an hour ago and it’s still there. Himself has been out to check three times. And he looked out the upstairs windows to check again.
“Now there is another bird on your car, too.” He shouted from upstairs. “I think it’s the mom, because it’s pecking at it, probably trying to get it off the car.” I’m aware we both sound insane.
We are not only dealing with another bird and talking to it publicly, but we are now also analyzing its motivation and the motivation of it’s supposed mother. Geeze. Enough is enough! BING! Heartprint!
Today I am grateful for pictures that tell the story. This one was taken by my niece, Molly Solie at the small gathering they had yesterday for Mother’s Day. I cried when I saw it. I also realize my words today might be inadequate, but I’m giving it a go anyway.
Just look at that face. Really look at it. It could be the face of so many 95-year-old’s anywhere in the world. The exhaustion, confusion, despair is all there, written in every wrinkle. The hand to the forehead and the defeated and deflated expression speaks volumes.
Mom lost her eyesight to macular degeneration years ago, but the degeneration is still continuing and now it’s not just the eyes. Her energy is virtually gone. Yesterday when we spoke, she bemoaned the fact that she could not even hang up the clothes that were washed and dried for her. “It’s just too much,” she said, almost in tears. “I can’t do anything anymore and I HATE it!”
How horrible. When hearing, vision and energy escape a person, what else is left? One of our kids always tells her dad he has to live to be 100, but I always add. . . “and be well!” Because there just does not seem to be much joy in life if you can’t do anything you once loved.
Mom loved to play piano, sew, embroider, do crafts, play BINGO, read, watch old movies and go shopping. She can’t do any of that anymore. I imagine some of you are thinking, but she could get help with this or that and of course, you’re right.
But needing to plan and request takes all of the spontaneity and joy out of doing anything. And she does try to do recorded books but now has trouble even starting them and finds it impossible to rewind back to wherever she nodded off. Every moment of every day is frustrating for her.
When she was living on her own in Arizona and still driving, she would often go shopping, “just to look”. Not my sport of choice, but she loved it. Early on in her assisted living days where she now is, she could take the facility bus and go shopping. Not anymore. It’s too exhausting. For her and the caretakers.
But it’s not just because she doesn’t have the energy. Mom gets cranky. I know many of you are thinking that everyone gets cranky from time to time and you’re right about that, too. See how I know what you’re all thinking. I’m a damn psychic today. But mom’s cranky makes Cruella De Ville look like Cinderella.
When we visit her, she insists we take her to the Dollar Store. But she can’t see. And wants to see everything. Everything! John pushes her from behind and I ride shotgun and pull every single item off of the shelf that she says, “What’s that?” about. Every aisle, every row, every shelf.
And she gets mad a hundred times because as she holds it to look at it, she can’t see it, then throws it back at me. “I can’t SEE it!” It’s sad and frustrating. For all of us. If you think she’s exhausted when were done, you should see Himself and me. Climbing mountains, backwards, on gravel and barefoot has to be easier.
When I looked at this picture, I saw all of that and more, because it really does tell a story without my inadequate ramblings. If I were to caption it, I would use the words my mom says every single time I talk with her. “Why am I still here?” BING! Heartprint!
Today I am grateful the birds are gone. Grateful? Ecstatic! Euphoric! I’m a thesaurus of joy and elation. If you’re sick to death of hearing about those birds in the nest on my front door, it’s nothing compared to how I feel.
A friend stopped by and rang the bell yesterday. I shouted out the garage door to come in that way, but she said the birds were gone. So, slowly and carefully I opened the door and we looked. Yup. Gone.
Except I know I saw at least one or two, who can tell, because they all look alike unless you’re another bird, come back to the nest. But they usually don’t do that, right?
Himself was golfing and as soon as he got home, we got our masks on, grabbed a trash bag that was big enough to hold all four tires of my car and took that wreath down. The amount of bird shit on our door was disgusting.
Still masked, we got the bucket, disinfectant solution, sponge mop and hose, so I could attack that shit. Literally. When it was gone, I sprayed down the entire porch area, shooting water in every corner, spraying behind every nook, and hitting the transom above the door with an extra stream. Take that, you shitty birds!
There is now nothing on my door and there won’t be until we are well into summer. . .if ever. Fool me once. . . I got up this morning feeling over-joyed that I can now use the front door. Hey, it’s the little things, right?
I came around the corner into the front hall and stopped dead in my tracks. Staring at me through the window of the transom was a bird. A freaking bird! It didn’t fly away. It didn’t even spook at all. It hopped around a bit, but just kept staring at me. A bird can only make you feel guilty if you let it, right? Ask me how that worked out? I felt very intimidated by that passive aggressive feathered “friend”.
Are you the mom? Are you the little guy I rescued, twice, from inside my house? Do you want to be my pet? Are you planning on building another nest? Do you really miss your own bird shit? Are you thinking of crapping on my finally clean door? Do you want to lay more eggs in the comfort of my porch? Do birds lay more than one set of eggs a season? Are you going to stare at me all day? Why don’t you take your tribe over to Ineke’s house and graze from the 200 gourmet bird feeders she has waiting for you?
“Do you want a cup of tea?” I asked, as it watched me empty the dishwasher and make my entire breakfast. I had a lot of questions for that damned bird and I was verbalizing them out loud. . .to the bird in the transom. I’m turning into my own looney-tune Hitchcock nightmare.
The birds are gone. Or are they? BING! Heartprint!
Today I am grateful for remembering a moment. Actually, more than one moment because last night I got together with the two guys I spent a lot of time working with on theatrical and musical projects back in the day.
Watching them grapple their way through a song (after years of not looking at it) written by one and arranged by the other, I was yanked back to the first time it all came together. Giving birth to triplets all at once is easier. And quicker. But when it finally happened and we heard William Warfield, the same guy who sang Ol’ Man River in the 1955 version of “Showboat”, sing it for a pageant David wrote for the Indian Creek Foundation, we were gob-smacked.
But last night was even better. Because it didn’t dwell on some famous person. I looked at these two guys, really looked at them. Both aging, albeit gracefully, yet still so talented, still vibrant, still willing to take risks.
In the way-to-dim light of the living room Bob, who hadn’t seen the music for years, stumbled around the keyboard on the baby grand a little. David, with a copy of the musical score and not the printed text he usually uses for performances, also had trouble seeing the fine print, fumbled words he wrote and lost his place more than once. It did not matter one hoot!
Medical conditions, age, not even stupid COVID can change the fact that talent is talent is talent. And when it comes naturally, as it does for these two, it’s a gift. A true gift. And my gift is knowing them.
When the song was over and the last note resonated from the piano, I made them both look at me. Really look at me and hear my words. While bawling my eyeballs out, like a proud mom, guardian angel, or pushy bitch, I told them to remember this moment. THIS moment!
This moment where after all the changed jobs, dicey financial situations, multiple illnesses, deaths of friends, pandemics, and general world problems, they are still here, still playing piano, still singing and still experiencing unbridled joy. It is a gift. To me.
I started head-writing this on my way home and got to thinking about how many of us who are retired, getting older, experiencing changes in our bodies, minds, and financial situations need to remember our moments. The small and the big.
We need to look at pictures from trips we’ve taken, celebrations we’ve been part of, as well as experiences that only we remember, because they are too personal to share. We need to let an old song transport us to a sandy beach or the back seat of a Buick. We need to remember where we were when, or why or because of, and how it made us feel. We need to remember how the thinking of it, the remembering, still enriches our lives and our souls. Even after all of the years and life’s trials we’ve experienced.
And then we need to smile and say thank you, thank you, thank you. . .for everything we buried away and lost along with our slim waists, for everything that escaped us like our hair, for everything that we didn’t remember, that made us who we are. I know there are things to remember again for each of you. Many things. I just know it.
Maybe you can’t afford to do what you once did, or don’t have the energy, physical ability, or even the inclination to try. Sometimes that might make some of you a bit sad. It’s okay to be sad about some of these things. Just don’t wallow there for long, because the bottom line is you are still alive!
My challenge to you is to turn your thinking around and be grateful that you had those experiences in the first place. Think of all you’ve done! And even if your remembering doesn’t bring a memory that would seem fantastic to someone else, it will be to you, because your emotions are what makes each moment special. Your life is what makes you special.
I didn’t take one picture last night with my phone. Instead, I took hundreds with my heart. Remembering a moment like this is exactly why I started to write this blog in the first place. Look for your moments. Cherish your moments. Remember your moments. I am. BING! Heartprint!
Today I am grateful for the Mennonite Heritage Center and it’s not only because they are featuring David Page as he does a presentation about his new book, “Another Man’s Shoes” on Thursday, May 12 @ 6 pm.
It’s because they are making every effort to get back to hosting talks and events that will interest community members. How long has it been since we’ve done without that sort of thing? Too long!
While it does not represent a hardship the likes of which those poor citizens of Ukraine are enduring, it does demonstrate how much life has changed without events to attend.
The first public event we attended was Trivia. It was also the first event that closed when COVID was running rampant and scaring the bejeezus out of all of us with brains. We went from, maybe we can go, to I don’t know if we should go, to I don’t think we should go, to never mind it’s been cancelled, all in two days. And now we’ve been back and it was wonderful. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until we went back.
Going to events, like the program David did at Peter Becker Community a few weeks ago and Trivia is not without some COVID concern for me. I suspect it will take a while for that angst to subside, if it ever does completely. But I really believe that I have to try and work through it. I hope you can, too.
I’m so glad that the stigma of wearing a mask is lifted. When we lived in Indonesia you would frequently see people wearing them. I asked my friend, Tati, why? She said, “if someone has a little cold, it is respect for others.” Gee. Pretty simple.
If you’re really sick, stay home. Always. Please. But, if you want to attend any events and are still a little twitchy about it, wear a mask. It’s okay. I think by now most of us carry them with us anyway.
So, a big thank you to the Mennonite Heritage Center for putting an event program out there and making an effort to enrich the community. I hope to see you on May 12 @ 6 pm, for the presentation by David Page on his new book, “Another Man’s Shoes”. BING! Heartprint!
Today I am grateful the baby birds are ready. Yeah, how do I know this? Am I a bird psychic? Did their constant chirping tell me so? Did mom leave me a note? Nope. None of that. I have heard their chirping, but haven’t even seen the little buggers for a few days.
Then at eleven last night, while Himself was doing his going-to-bed check of all of the doors, he remembered that a package was delivered. He asked if I thought he could just open the door a little and grab it from the front porch.
“Sure, but don’t turn on the porch light,” I said. So, he didn’t. And pretty much two second later. . .
“Shit! Shit! Shit!,” Himself shouted. “A bird got in the house!” Himself does react well to the sudden moves of nature. Nor does he catch errant livestock. That’s my field, and this isn’t my first bird-in-the-house situation. Or my second. Or third. I’m sensing a pattern.
He said to get a towel, but I thought that tiny thing could be killed by a towel landing on it, so I grabbed one of my batik sarongs from Indonesia. Hey, it’s light and cotton and can be easily washed. And that bird looked really nice in that shade of aqua.
That damned little thing must have wanted to go into the basement and play Dungeons & Dragons, because it stood right in front of the cellar door. I lightly tossed the sarong on it, and scooped it up, barely feeling that it was in the fabric. Himself opened the front door. I carefully shook the sarong at the top of the nest, letting it out.
And it flew right back into the damned house! Swell! We were a “Who’s in the Nest” Laurel & Hardy routine. I wasn’t laughing.
This time, it wanted a snack because it wouldn’t leave the kitchen. We played the game of me being on one side of the table and it skittering under the chairs to the other side. Four times. I was beginning to lose my sunny disposition over the entire debacle, when I cornered it, did the light toss and snatched it up again. . .gently, but firmly.
“Open the garage door!” I barked at Himself. “It is not going to work to open the front door and I’m not doing this again!” He cleared a path like we were taking that sucker to a royal coronation. You could almost hear the bagpipes.
I held it up to the nest, but it clung to the sarong, then landed on the porch. “C’mon, buddy,” I snarled. “You’re making this much harder than it has to be.”
Toss, scoop and gentle-bam, and it was in the nest. Giving me the feathery stink-eye.
I have no clue if the rest of the birds were in there, but if so, they were hunkered down. Maybe this one was a bit daft and didn’t realize they were gone, but I’m glad it wasn’t skilled enough to get to a high spot in the house. I didn’t want to have to get the fishing net.
I think the baby birds are ready to go. And I KNOW I am ready for them to move on to a nice life. Someplace else! BING! Heartprint!