I am finally finished! Whew! At long last, I have tried on and made the decisions to keep, give away or throw out all of my clothes. YEARS worth of accumulation, my friends, years. I had clothes nearly as old as my children (yes those got thrown away). And it only took, let's see, how long have we lived here now...? Ok that's an exaggeration, but I did start this project of sorting through my clothes months ago. I only worked on it a little at a time, to be honest. All of the planets have to be in the proper alignment for me to work on a project like this.
First I have to have the correct amount of patience to try on that many articles of clothing...yeah, I have really gotta be in the right mood for that. Patience is a virtue. And It's something I always aspire to, but in real life, not something I have loads of.
Then I have to be having a good body consciousness day. If I don't feel good (or at least Not Horrible) about the way I look, I'm not going to like ANY of the clothes I try on. The idea here wasn't to get rid of everything own, just the stuff I'm not going to wear anymore.
Then I have to be feeling decisive. If I am feeling wishy-washy, it would be a zillion or so times harder to get rid of anything. Plus, I get so emotionally attached to my clothes that making the necessary decisions required to get rid of something I love is so much harder if I'm not in the right frame of mind.
Of course, I have to have the time. It is not something I can knock out in fifteen minutes. Nope this process take literally hours. It's not just a matter of looking at it, trying it on and immediately throwing it into one of the three piles. No. Of course not, that would be too easy. I have to walk around in it, try each piece with other pieces, tops with bottoms, skirts with blouses, etc. And of course shoes. The right shoes can make an outfit, the wrong ones can ruin it. So it's like chemistry a little bit. IF all the correct pieces are put together, it makes something else! And that means I also have to have the endurance for this job. I know it sounds crazy, but it can very tiring to sort through the piles and piles and PILES of clothes that I seem to accumulated over all these years. And each step is repeatedly, well, repeated. Exhausting.
And I have to be able to be brutally honest with myself. Some days I'm really good at lying to myself. Other days, flat out denial rules. So I have to be having a totally candid with myself day. Honest both ways.....Both, "Sam your butt looks as big as a bus in those pants" but also, "Hey, not bad for an old broad". And then the, "Yes it's gorgeous and I look pretty good in it, but be honest Sam, when are you going to wear it?". I have to be honest but kind with myself.
So, there it is. At long last, the job is complete. The closet is far less crowded with things I wasn't wearing anyway now gone and my niece will be the happy recipient of a nice bunch of new stuff. Odds are good that there will be at least one thing in these bags that she will like and can wear. Everything else can be donated. Some to Goodwill other things she hands off to her sister (my other niece) who is a teacher for her school's theater department. How cool is that? I can go to the school to watch a play and see some of my clothes there! LOL! Kind of like having visiting rights;)
So the clothes are all folded and bagged and sitting on my kitchen counter. I feel a little like Santa right now. heh. In my family we aren't offended by hand-me-downs. We get excited about the possibility of free clothes! The last bag, even my sister went through first and found something! Woohoo!
And I feel very accomplished. Took far too long, but it's done. Next project.....? I'm not sure yet. I only am positive that there will be one. I think I love starting a new project specifically be cause it feels so good when it's finally done!
So there I am, hanging out at the beach again instead of accomplishing anything. I certainly have become lazy.
I don't know what's happened to me. I used to be so high energy. I flew around whatever room I was in doing a dozen things at once, thinking ahead thirty steps, talking a mile a minute..... If there was an unpleasant task that needed to be done, I jumped on it and did it right away to get it over with and quickly moved on to the next thing. Now, not so much.
Oh, the laundry is still done and the house is still clean and there are meals on the table at the appropriate times. I am just not feeling the urgency I used to feel. It was like I was in crisis mode at all times before. 'Gotta Get It Done'!!!!! My mindset wasn't just, I need to wash the floors, it was more I NEED TO WASH THE FLOORS NOW! As if the world would stop turning if the floors weren't scrubbed this. very. second.
I'm not certain when this attitude change happened. Probably very slowly over time. I do recall a college professor of mine once who kind of blew my mind. I was collecting my dribs and drabs of this'n'that preparing to leave the classroom when another student stepped in the door and up to the professor. He began to go into some long involved very detailed account of why he had missed class. The professor stopped him by holding up in hand and then he smiled and said, "...and the sun will rise, the sun will set and the world will continue to turn." I had never heard such a thing in my life. What kind of crazytalk is this? It clearly made an impression me and that may have been the moment that planted the seeds that didn't spout until recently.
I was raised to be very goal oriented and extremely purposeful. The family culture in which I was raised emphasized that it was paramount that we accomplished things. A lot of things. And to work hard This is not a bad mindset. In fact, I honestly feel that this are very good thing a good way to be raised. But like anything else, it can be taken to extreme. When a person is so fixated on the next moment or the next twelve moments down the line, they aren't paying any attention to this moment. And this moment is precious. It is unique. There will never be another moment exactly like this one ever again.
So I'm slowing it down, just a bit. I recognize that truly the floor doesn't care if it is washed today or tomorrow. The grocery shopping will get done without my being all aflutter about it. I've learned to admit that there are only twenty-four hours in a day and that not every single one of them has to be filled with frantic activity. Some of those hours can be quiet and still and reflective. There were plenty of things I could have been doing yesterday rather than walking to the beach, sitting on the sand and watching the sun go down but I didn't. I stopped. I put away my lists and my check boxes. I made the conscious decision to let everything else go for awhile and just breathe.
And funny thing, that old professor was correct. Even though I didn't accomplish everything I had planned to do yesterday because I made the choice to stop and go sit on the beach for awhile, the sun still set last night, the sun rose this morning and the world continued to turn. What a concept.
What on earth is this a picture of? A pebble? A meteor in space? A funky shaped pearl? No, this is my temporary crown which turns out to be far more temporary than intended.
The day before Valentine's Day I was at the dentist having the necessary work done to prepare for a crown. It seems that the old filling(s) in that particular tooth were so deteriorated that by the time it was drilled out and re-filled there wasn't a lot of actual tooth left. My choices then were, 1) no tooth at all, 2) crown or 3) one of those implanted teeth. I opted for number two. It's not really a huge deal other than my dental anxiety, which is not at all uncommon (or so I'm told). I've had this crown thing done before and lived to tell the tale so I was ready.
Part of the preparation of this new crown is to take various molds and to drill out the existing filling and then put in a temporary, short-term fakeyfake crown until the new one arrives and in put in place. It's usually about a two week wait and no big deal.
I am a good patient. I do what I am told. In the Medical World that is called being a "compliant patient". I am happy to report that is what I am. Usually, being a compliant patient makes things go smoothly for everyone, the doctor, the support staff and me. I like when things go smoothly so it just makes sense. Which is why I was so shocked when late Friday afternoon, as I was brushing my teeth after having had a very late lunch/early dinner to find my temporary crown in the wrong place. Which would be in the sink instead of in my mouth.
I picked it up, rinsed it off and marveled at it for a moment. How very odd! I had no idea what to do at that point because it had never happened before. Logic suggested saving the temporary crown so I put it in a small zippybag. Logic further suggested calling the dentist office. Unfortunately, they were already closed for the day and of course, it being a Friday, also the weekend. Well hmm. I gave it some thought. While it felt odd, I was not in pain so most likely, as long as I was careful I was certain that it would be no big deal. I left a message saying what had happened and asking them to call me on Monday and give me direction on what to do.
All weekend I ate soft foods cut into tiny bits, I drank through a straw and I made certain to chew on the Other side of my mouth. So here it is Monday morning. They haven't called yet, and that's fine. I'll give them a bit and if I don't hear back, I'll call them. Honestly I am of two minds. First of all, I am supposed to get the permanent crown on Thursday anyway. It's just a few days away. As long as I'm not in pain, it would be no problem to wait. On the other hand, they probably put the temporary crown in for a reason that I am unaware of, so maybe it really does need to be put back in. I'm sure it would only take a matter of minutes to pop that baby back in. In fact, I considered doing it myself but knowing how clumsy I am, I'd probably swallow it, drop it on the floor and then step on it, or something equally stupid.
And then there is the humiliation of demotion. How do I explain that my temporary crown came off while brushing my teeth? Or maybe it was the salad I was eating beforehand that knocked it loose? I have no idea but I feel like I'm not living up to my former status of "compliant patient" and that by my name in their records will now be some little subtle indicator that means, 'Non compliant patient' and I do not like that one single bit. I'm pretty sure my record in their office already says, "big baby" because of my dental nervousness. Two Strikes!
I guess I'll find out what happens next. And in the meantime, I'm eating a lot of yogurt which is very healthy!
Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!
It is apparent to even me, the queen of procrastination, that the day has finally come. I cannot put it off any longer. Once again, I have to trim my bangs. Doesn't that sound like a fine idea? A person who has very little depth perception, who, without glasses, cannot even read the large numbers on the digital scale, a person who has been known to burn herself at least once every single times she irons...yes let's give that person a pair of very sharp scissors and do something near the eyes.
I suppose I could make a hair appointment and go to my hairdresser, who is awesome by the way, but especially this time of year, her schedule is jam packed so I wouldn't get in for at least a week and what's more I'm too cheap to pay for such a simple thing. Trimming my bangs should not be a big deal. It just shouldn't be.
I sit on the bathroom counter so I'm as close to the mirror as I possibly can be. Turn on ALLLLLL the lights in the bathroom. Remove my glasses. And lean so close to the mirror that my nose is practically touching it then begin, one little section at a time taking miniscule bits of hair off and checking to see how it looks, over and over and over until once again, I can blink without my eyelashes getting tangled with my hair.
I've had some really bad hair cuts. Haven't we all. But bangs are the worst, If the bangs don't turn out right there is NO way to hide it until it grows out. A bad haircut can be cut shorter. If it's just one section that was attacked by a rambunctious 3 year old with scissors, you can change the part in your hair to hide the missing clump. There are clip in bits and hair extensions that can hide bad work everywhere else. Hats and scarves if all else fails. But bangs are right there in the front with no place to hide.
As a child of course, I had that wonky bang cut by my mom that I suspect most everyone has experienced. It's usually not horrific, just uneven. A little higher on one side than the other maybe or a little shorter in the middle, but it's millimeters different most of the time. And kids don't notice or if they do notice they don't care. Until years later when someone they want to impress sees the photo and then it's a disaster of epic proportion.
Many years ago, a hairdresser was trimming my hair while on the phone and having a furious disagreement with his significant other. Oh dear. During a particularly vociferous exchange, he chopped my bangs with great emphasis leaving me with a diagonal line, left hair line just out from the scalp to nearly my eyelashes at the right side. Not Good. It took a very long time for that one to grow out. The worst was the really short part that tended to stick straight out defying gravity until it got long enough to hang down as hair should.
I think that may have been when I started trimming my own bangs between cuts. I may not do a perfect job. I may be imperiling my eyesight or risking an interesting facial scar by doing things so near my face with poor vision and very sharp scissors but I will never EVER again have a bangs that looks as if they were trimmed by a drunken cat.
So clearly I have a mission today. Wish me luck.
And then, have an awesome weekend!
Hugs all 'round
Birdie Butts. Clearly not my intended picture. I tippytoed up to the flock as they were gathered on the green They seemed to be utterly uninterested in my existence which is exactly what I was hoping for. Quietly, I focused the camera on them, centered my shot, placed my finger on the button, and.....About Face.... resultant photo, birdie butts. Dang.
I don't know if it ever happens to you but it happens to me. A lot. Sneak up on squirrel sitting on a branch in a tree munching on an acorn. So cute! The instant my finger moves toward the button, they have dropped the acorn and scampered away never to be seen again. When we had cats, they were famous for starring raptly into the camera lens, not moving a single whisker until my finger hovered over the button then they would smartly turn and I would have a pristine shot of catbutt. No thank you very much please.
My mother was famous for avoiding a camera. The best shots we ever got of her were candid ones where she didn't notice the camera. If she saw one facing her direction she would either turn back to, stare at the ground or leave the room. You would have thought she was in the witness protection program! Camera shy doesn't even begin to describe it!
I know this has happened to my sister too. In fact, at one point she had so many photos of the backs of things that she made an album (before digital cameras when people had actual photographs to deal with). It was called "The Butt Album". It was a photo album dedicated to pictures of the backsides of people, things and places. The photos you didn't intend to take. It was hysterical. And as a collection, quite clever. If anyone in the family found that they had accidentally gotten another hindside photo of anything we would donate it to the case, 'Here is another offering for the Butt Album" we would say.
Nowadays of course, with digital cameras I can just delete any photo I don't like. It's as if it never happened. And believe me, I take plenty of those sorts of photos. The ones I took accidentally inside my pocket which is where I stash my camera (phone) when I'm not using it.. The inside of my pocket is dark and not very interesting frankly. The ones I take, again without intent, of the ground while walking which happens when I'm holding the camera in my hand. The ones that turn out a little blurry because at the last second either me or my subject moved. The pictures where someone is blinking (there is always at least one in any group shot)
None of those shots exist anymore. They just have winked out of existence.
In the olden days, nobody knew what they actually captured on film. You took the pictures and then either developed them yourself or, as most people did, sent them off to be developed. In about a week, after spending the money to have had them processed, you learned that not one doggone picture turned out. Ratz! That has happened to me way too many times. In my head they were all great shots! In reality, crapola. Then polaroid cameras happened. They were awesome. In just a very few minutes after taking a picture, you watched as it slowly, magically, appeared before you on that little shiny, funny smelling square. Sure the colour was never quite right and, as it turns out, those photos fade over the years, but still, it was awesome.
I do love the advent of digital photography, But here is the truth. If you looked through my photos you might think that I was a half way decent photographer. Every single photo is clear, nobody is blinking, they are centered and well composed. The lighting is good, the shadow is interesting and obviously intentional. Impressive. It's all a lie. The number of photos that I delete from every photo session that I do is enormous. Additionally, cameras now have all sorts of way cool thingies that allow you to improve lighting, crop pictures, add special effects. It's awesome. But it doesn't mean that my actually abilities have improved.
And it certainly doesn't change the fact that I have taken far too many unintentional photos of Birdiebutts. I just don't usually keep those. I present to the world only the very best pictures but I wonder if it is a fake reality. Sometimes I think that those terrible photos, the winks and blinks, the butt shots, the faded, sunflared, tattered, pictures are the pictures of the real world. Just as passing thought.
Most women I know go into a mad panic in the spring after hibernating in cozy layers all winter. It merely takes the slightest hint of a whisper of two words to make most of us break into a post -cocoa- (with extra marshmellows)-in-front-of-the-fire panic and those two words are: Swimsuit Season.
Those of you who live elsewhere still have a few months before this reality sets in. Here, it never really went away. Permanent swimsuit season and hurricanes are the only two downsides of living here.
I've completely given up on paying any attention to the numbers of the scale. (although I know that there are five stubborn pounds that refuse to go away no matter how much I've told them to leave!) That ship has sailed. I just want to not only fit in my clothes but to look halfway decent in them. But mostly I'd like to be on the beach in actual beachclothes without feeling too self-conscious. That's quantified because I suspect that I will always feel a wee bit self-conscious in swimwear. It's just part of who I am.
I go to the beach nearly every day. But this is my current version of beachwear:
Yeah, I'm classy. But I'm also honest with myself about how I look and how I feel about how I look. Which is why I started taking Pilates Classes twice a week many months ago. I actually really enjoy the classes now that I've gotten the hang of it. And I walk. I walk a lot! I bike sometimes. I hike with my sister at least once a week. You'd think all of this would have made a difference. I certainly thought it would. I was wrong.
This getting older nonsense is such a buncha crap. All of the sneaky stuff that happens that nobody tells you about. Like the sudden appearance of a little roll around the waist that never existed before. What the heck is this? In regular clothes I can dress in disguise. Cute Floaty little tops have been a godsend. But swimwear hides nothing. So Okay, clearly I have to step it up.
Tim joined a gym a few weeks ago. This one, Planet Fitness. He asked me at the time if I wanted to join and I gave him, "The Look". The one that says volumes. He already knows how I feel about The Gym. I am not a "gym" person. I tried. When we lived in Colorado we joined a gym. It was gorgeous. Truly beautifully appointed with multiple pools, a zillion or so machines of every sort, big rooms for various sorts of classes, and I never ever was comfortable there. I tried. I really tried. I had a personal trainer for awhile. I showed up and worked out with her faithfully for however many weeks it was. Never once enjoyed it. After my time with the personal trainer came to an end, I went less and less often until I canceled my membership entirely and moved on with my life.
And now I am at this point. I've always believed that if what I am doing is not giving me the results I want, then I need to do something else. So yesterday I asked Tim if I could go with him, just once, to check out this new gym. His place. He was delighted. It is a testament to what a good person he is that he would be happy to have me there considering my general feeling about gyms. So I gave myself an attitude adjustment and we went this morning.
Ok the things about this Planet Fitness place that I like are: that it's very clean without that nasty cleaning smell. I like that. Check in was very quick and pleasant. Then Tim took me to his favourite place. The 30 minutes circuit. Apparently the idea is that you spend 1 minute on each of 20 different machines with a 30 second break in between each. Interesting. It sounds efficient. I like efficient. So that is what we did. It was quick, it felt as if I had accomplished a little something and it wasn't crowded. I like that too. The time passed very fast. I am hugely in favour of that.
I don't know if going to Planet Fitness is going to be the thing that finally once and for all helps me over this little annoying 5 elle bee bump in the road that I'm trying to get over, but I'm going to give it a whirl. I'm compromising. I will continue to do my twice a week pilates. I'll keep walking and hiking and biking but I will add one day a week at the gym with Tim doing this 30 minutes circuit thingie. I'll try it for awhile and see if it makes the difference.
Biggest upside, I get to go shopping. Hey I need new gym clothes!
There is absolutely no significance to my choice of photo for today's Blog. It's my shadow on the beach. Sometimes I'm just silly. But actually I guess you can see from this photo that I tend to stand very straight.
The reason I mention it as that as I was walking home from Pilates class this morning, I cut through a park as I usually do. Nearly every time I make this walk back home, I pass an older gentleman sitting in a wheelchair, wearing his very snappy hat. He is usually smoking a cigar and reading the newspaper. But occasionally he will nod as me as I pass. I smile and say good morning and that it usually the end of that.
Today, however, as I passed him, in this very deep rusty voice, he said, "Do you mind if I tell you that you have excellent posture?' I fairly beamed (a compliment is a compliment after all) and said, "I don't mind at all. Thank you very much" and continued on my way. What a lovely thing to say. And not the usual sort of compliment that a person might receive but I appreciated it nonetheless.
I do have excellent posture, when standing. Sitting is an entirely different thing. I slump, I lean and curl up, I have terrible sitting posture. But standing, my posture is rockstar. I think there are three reasons. First of all, I'm short. If I think tall thoughts and stand very straight I'm five foot two inches exactly. The world is no longer created for shorties like me and it's easy for us to be overlooked. I stand as tall as I possibly can to make sure people are aware that I exist. I do not know it for fact, but I'm going to guess that most short people have good posture.
The second reason I think I have good posture is that I had this violin teacher when I was a kid who was huge on posture and correct violin playing form. We stood while playing and she would circle us, listening to us play and if our arms were in the wrong position we would hear the whistle of her own violin bow swinging through the air and then feel the sting on it on our forearms. Immediately we would correct our arms. If we slumped the teeniest bit next we would feel the point of her violin bow stabbing into the center of our backs and we instantly stood properly. You only need to experience that a few times and without thinking about it, your posture and playing position becomes as it should be. And clearly the lesson stuck with me.
The third reason well, perhaps it's because I am a happy person. I think happy people walk taller, stand straighter, head up looking around, seeing what there is to see, smiling and nodding at people as they go by. Unhappy, sad, shy people look down. I used to be that person, that's how I know. Back then I was terrified that someone might notice me. Don't look up, you might accidentally make eye contact! That's the desire to specifically not be noticed, looking down, shoulders forward, trying to be as small and inconspicuous as possible. Tha'ts not me anymore. I stand straight and tall and meet the day square in the eye.
I need to work on my sitting posture, I know. But as soon as my fanny hits a seat I just seem to curl into myself. I assume a cat-like position, whether I'm reading, or having a conversation or watching TV, I get comfy. Not that standing tall isn't comfortable, it absolutely is, but sitting board straight doesn't seem to be. I remember being taught that a ladies back should never touch the chair back. I also remembering wondering why chairs had backs if we weren't supposed to ever touch it. We, girls, were supposed to sit, feet together and flat on the floor, hands folded in our laps, on the edge of our chairs, back absolutely ruler straight. I can do it. But I so do not want to. It feels rigid. It feels unyielding and unfriendly and uncomfortable. The very concept of "sit" to me says "relax". And relax I shall. Legs crossed or feet up, curled into a ball or sprawled across the sofa, I am the essence of comfortable. Since I'm no longer being graded on it, and there is no one around to scold me if I slack off, and my violin teacher is no where in sight with her killer violin bow, I think it's safe to curl into my chair with my book and be at my ease regardless of the appearance.
Still it's nice to know that without a seconds thought, while standing and walking, I'm still looking good.
Any day that starts with an unexpected compliment is a good day. Today is a good day.
I hope yours is too!
Joy took this photo of me during a recent photo safari just to be funny. It's not a particularly flattering photograph but it's an accurate one and it did make me giggle. I really get into my photography :) I think I was trying to capture a teensy little toadstool that had bravely popped up right there on the path. Or perhaps it was something else. But whatever it was I was trying to take a picture of, it was obviously something small that I had to get very close to. So I know that I look fairly ridiculous in this picture and yet, I clearly have no problem posting it on my Blog. Obviously, I am not worried about looking foolish.
There I am sprawled across the hiking path in my ages old very faded denim shorts that are a funny length, an old stretched out cheapo tee shirt in an especially non-flattering colour of pink, butt foremost, ratty sneakers and if you looked closely you'd see how stained the socks are (which is why they have been designated "hiking socks"). I spy a wee bit of a roll around my waist and my chubby little arms hanging right out there. And yet, I'm not even a little bit flustered by it all.
There was a time when I would have been stricken with humiliation by a picture like this. Hard to believe I know, but there was a huge portion of my life when being publically embarrassed was a major fear of mine. Just the thought of it would strike panic into my heart.
I recall back, long ago, probably in my early teen years, travelling with my family. My dad always just wanted to "get there", wherever it was we were going that particular time. It was a challenge that he had set for himself, how many miles we could cover in a day. Therefore there was very little stopping. Mostly just for gas. If you needed something to eat or drink or a use a bathroom you needed to time it along with the needs of the cars gas tank. Therefore, the instant the car came to a dusty rolling halt at any gas station, my sister and I bolted from the car and made a bee-line for the ladies room. Generally it was around the side of the building, sometimes you had to go inside and request the key. And there we were, young ladies, just starting to be noticed by equally young boys, a lot of whom worked at places like gas stations.
Keep in mind here that nothing was ever going to happen. And we knew that. In fact, we were probably relieved about that to be honest. It was just nice, at that point in our lives, to be admired from afar. Now imagine our embarrassment as our Mother brandished a can of Lysol out the car window and yelled after us, "Girls, don't forget the Lysol!" Mercy. Hard to look cool carrying the large economy size can of Lysol into the ladies room of a gas station.
Even farther ago than that, elementary school. We called it primary school back then. I was such a tragically shy child that just being called on in class could make me burst into tears. I just wanted to sit there quietly and be invisible please. Of course that's not the teachers' job. But it was so hard for me when I was noticed. My heart would begin to pound as soon as the teacher stood up and asked a question, before she even called out a name my cheeks would be flaming red and my eyes already blinking back the beginnings of tears. And then when it was someone's else's name, the relief! Oh my the sigh of relief.
Being called to the blackboard to work was even worse. It was usually a math problem or diagramming a sentence, both of which I could easily have done. But there was something about standing there in front of the teacher, the other students and that blackboard that immediately gave me an attack of stupid. My brain would just go blank. I can still remember the smell of that chalkboard, standing there, the silky feeling of that small piece of white chalk in my right hand, starring at that board and then the floor, little tears running down my cheeks until the teacher finally sighed and told me to sit back down. Embarassed by being called to the front of the class and therefore being noticed, my inexplicable inability to do the problem - I actually knew the answer 9 times out of 10 - and then crying in public. It was just beyond devastating for me. It was, for me, a thing of nightmares.
When I think about it, the sheer number of times I've crashed into walls, fallen down stairs, fumbled and dropped very breakable things in front of large groups of people, you'd think I'd either have gotten over being embarrassed or gotten less clumsy. But I somehow it didn't get easier for a very long time. Falling off a stage, in performance mind you, accidentally walking full stride into a cast iron post at Knotts Berry Farm and knocking myself out cold or the time I fell off a friends deck (in the dark) into a line of bicycles and broke a number of toes which I just shoved together and taped for a day or so rather than make a big deal of it, the list goes on and on (and on!). I just wanted the earth to open up and swallow. Too many occasions to count. My life to that point was Humiliating with a capitol H.
But eventually, somehow, the embarrassment started to fade. I'm not certain when it happened exactly. Was it just growing up? Or maybe it happened when my kids were small. Children are, shall we say, candid. They have no brain filters. And after a few times of them loudly accusing total strangers of farting in public, well after awhile you just keep going and think nothing of it. Or maybe I finally just got over myself.
As time has gone on, I no longer bat an eye if I make a mistake, bump into a wall or another customer - although I do apologize of course. Showing up dressed horribly wrong for an event no longer brings tears and a desire to flee at my first opportunity. I just shrug and keep going, perhaps make a joke of it. If I don't know the answer to a question, these days I am curious rather than embarrassed. I have absolutely no problem saying, "Actually, I don't know. Let's look it up and find out".
I knew I had finally made it over the bump when I accidentally dropped a tray of food in a public place. It crashed and clattered endlessly, broken bits of glass and crockery, smooshed food everywhere and a napkin fluttered delicately to the floor. It felt as if that moment was going to go on forever. Once the noise stopped, I glanced around the room briefly and saw every eye on me. It was spectacularly silent. I'm not certain why I did what I did next, but without another thought, and with great theatrical flair I bowed. The room erupted into applause. I smiled and then cleaned up the mess as best I could and, the most important part, life went on.
Clearly I have grown, emotionally, thank goodness. And if someone takes a photo of my prodigious arse, I laugh and tell them that they obviously captured my best side. It could have been worse. The day Joy took that picture, I had the nerve, at my appalling age, to have worn my hair in pigtails under that ball cap with my polka dotted dollar store sunglasses worn OVER my regular glasses. Yeah. The photo could definitely have been worse.
By the way, here is a peeve of mine. When something unfortunate happens people often say, "it could always be worse". I'm not saying they are wrong. They are actually right. It could be worse. But hey, it could also be better. Why does nobody ever say that??
Ok I'll say it, no matter what embarrassing thing happens to you, you will survive it. And if you learn to laugh at yourself, it will get better, faster.
Yeah, this is me, not sleeping which seems to be mostly what I do at night. Isn't that fun?
I know it's not uncommon for people to occasionally experience insomnia but for me, it's a way of life. Even as a small child I was not a good sleeper. I don't know why. Perhaps that's just the way my brain is wired. Usually it's not big deal. I don't require a great deal of sleep to be functional. But I do need some. I know that there will be a point, somewhere along the line, where I will sleep. Everything will just click off. My brain will say, "Tilt!" and nappytime will happen. Those are glorious nights.
Last night was not one of those glorious nights.
It was an ordinary day. I was busy in the morning and then my sister came to get me and we went on a nice photo safari. When we got home, I puttered around doing laundry, yard work and other housey sort of chores. Eventually, I made Tim's dinner, cleaned up from that, did a few other things and around 8:30 or so finally settled in to relax a little, watch a little TV. After an hour or so, I decided there was nothing worth my eyesight on television and thought a good soak in the tub with something to read was a better idea. Ahhhh. Relaxing. Then into jammies, a little more TV and around 10:30 or 11:00 we went to bed. Tim was catching Z's in no time flat. I lay awake in the darkness allowing my brain to wander, hoping that eventually I will bore myself to sleep.
I have a list of little brain games that I play trying to lull myself to snoozeland. Sometimes it's listing all the states in alphabetical order. Maybe all of the presidents in their presidential order. Or coming up with 5 girls names and 5 boys names for each letter of the alphabet. Things like that. Problem is, my brain wanders. It's like a butterfly. No straight lines of thought .....ever. It goes something like this:
Me: Okay. states...First state, Alabama. Oh that's the name of a band. What's the name of that song they do that I like so much? Dang. Can't think of it. What state was I saying? Oh yeah, Alabama. Remember that time Tim and I were in New Orleans and we drove to Alabama for lunch? We ate at that cute little place where the food was just so so but the people were really nice. It was a real throwback in time. Kind of like the 50's. Yeah. The 50's. Marty McFly. Back to the Future. That was one of my favourite movie series'. Of course the first one was the best one, but I liked all three. And the music! Yeah, 50's music was so much fun. Rock Around the Clock. Happy Days. That Ron Howard. Who knew that he would become such an amazing director? Well other than him of course. And The Fonz. Henry Winkler's career just kept going too. I know he's done some production work, I wonder if he did any directing? Directing. Giving Directions. Getting Directions. It's funny how without the mountains to my West I never know what direction I'm going in anymore. I mean the beach is to my West. I should use that to orient myself. Orientation. College orientation. That was a long time ago. Why am I thinking about college orientation.? What state was I on? Oh yeah. Alabama. Second state: Alaska. All the photos I've ever seen of Alaska are so beautiful. I would like to see it in person some day. Some day. Isn't that a song? What state am I on? Oh yeah. Alaska. They are big on Salmon, I don't care for fish or fishing come to think of it. I think they do a lot of it there. And hunting. Not a hunter either. I don't want to think about hunting. It makes me too sad. Alaska. Right. After Alaska is Arizona. That was definitely a song. Paul Revere and the Raiders sang it. I remember seeing them in concert a million or so years ago. My very first 'rock' concert. Rocks. Redrocks. Now there was an amphitheater. So gorgeous. I wonder whose idea that was? Brilliant. And the hiking around there is amazing too. I have some really nice photos that I took there. I wonder where I put them? I'll have to find those. Finding things. There was something else I was going to look for. I wonder what it was? I need to start writing these things down. I need to put paper and pen on my bedside table. Something else to remember to write down so I don't forget it. That's funny. I have to remember to write down the paper and pen I need to help me remember things! hahah. What state am I on? Oh yeah, Arizona. What's next? Arkansas. Never been to Arkansas that I recall. Hmm. Have I?
Yeah, like that. My brain is a scary place.
Sometimes making lists helps. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes when it doesn't I get so restless that I get up. I will wander out to the family room. Sometimes I"ll read for awhile. Sometimes I'll play games on my tablet. Or maybe watch some TV. Late night TV is strange. Lots of old reruns and truly strange shows. And infomercials. Those are ridiculous. No thank you. Occasionally I'll go sit outside in our courtyard and just stare at the stars in the sky and think about that for awhile.
When it works, it works. When it doesn't, it doesn't and I do not seem to have a bit of control over it. I read a marginally scary article recently that suggests a link between insomnia and dementia. Hmmm. Well, Hmmm. It's not like I can force myself to sleep. If that worked, I'd be very well rested. Oh well. I think I need to stop reading that stuff. It's not helping one bit.
Melatonin was suggested to me at one point and it, occasionally works. Or perhaps that was just a night my body was going to sleep anyway. I don't want to resort to medicated sleep, but I'm open to other suggestions if anyone has any. I already Do Not Eat after 7 pm. And do not exercise late at night but I do get exercise. Walking, biking, hiking and two pilates classes a week. And I don't drink either so that's not it.
If you have an brilliant suggestions do please share. Meanwhile, The state after Arkansas is California, Martin Van Buren was the 8th president, 5 boys names that start with the letter "i' are: Ivan, Isaac, Ira, Irving and Ignatius and none of that helped last night one damned bit. Oh well. Maybe tonight.
Yes indeedy, we did it again. We recommitted ourselves to each other once again! It was so much fun! For those of you who didn't see last year's post of this, our town, Venice Florida, has this event every year on Valentine's day called, "Say I Do Again" and anyone who wants to can, once again, renew their love for one another in a semi-official way. I say semi-official, there is a judge who performs the "ceremony" but other than that, there ain't nothin' legal about it. It's just for Love's Sake. And sometimes' that is enough.
Two things were different this year. First, Tim is the one who wanted to do it this year!!! (last year I found out about the event and kinda of urged it along) and Second, he emailed Bob and asked if he and Joy wanted to come along and be a part of the fun. Turns out the answer was yes!
So we all got into our schmancy duds- or fancier than usual duds, which by the way is absolutely not required. While most people do tend to at least comb their hair for this event, all sorts of levels of attire are present including a surprising number of veils. Joy and I just wanted to make it feel extra special. And for us that involves something sparkly. For me, my dress, for her a lacy/sparkly top. For the guys, clean shirts. We looked snazzy.
Joy and I were given roses, we were all given cupcakes and a memento and our certificate of participation. Then we joined the crowd. About 150 couples also thought this was a terrific way to spend Valentine's Day. I was a party! There was music playing and lovely decorated arbours and happy, smiling faces everywhere. While we waited for it all to begin, we took turns taking our "official" photographs and then got silly taking pictures on the beach. Photos of the four of us:
Photos of us goober dancing to the music that was playing while we also sang along: (by the way, it is a rare thing for us to be dancing so these photos are like a pictures of Big Foot)
Finally, the ceremony began. Everyone who could, stood up, and we repeated the words after the judge, promising to love each other, and respect each other, and laugh together for the rest of our lives. It was lovely and touching and sweet. Then they gave special gifts to the longest married, the most newly married and a few randomly chosen couples (none of which were us). So we lingered a little bit longer and shared a smooch as we watched the sun go down in a spectacular fashion.
Then we went to dinner at a wonderful Italian place, laughed a lot, talked a lot and ate even more! Oooph. I'm still full today. But it was a wonderful way to spend Valentine's Day. We all had so much fun that I suspect we will do it again next year.
The memento, by the way, was a mason jar that has the event name and the year on it. Bob looked at Joy a little bewildered and asked what they were supposed to do with it. "Anything you want to do" was my answer. For me, I think I will put my rose petals in there and then put it on a the book shelf and remember the date every single time and then smile.
Yes, Happy Valentine's Day to You! The day to remind you that you are loved. And you are. Everyone is loved or has been loved by somebody at some point in their life. And that is worth celebrating.
Tim and I are goopy. We celebrate life. All of it. Real Holidays (the kind the post office and bank are closed for) and non-real holdays (the ones the post office and bank do not close for.) We don't necessarily make a huge monster sized deal of it, but there is a nod to the day in some way because, well, why not! Life is short. And it should be lived fully. Every single solitary moment of it is a gift and it's special and worth celebrating in some way. I honestly believe that most people do not appreciate how important every single day is, until you start heading on the down side of that mountain.
There was a time in my life, probably high school, those were some difficult years, when I had a seriously bad attitude about Valentine's Day. Bah Humbug or the equivalent was my feeling on the subject. I sneered at the heart laden displays in the stores, I snorted with derision at the romance movies that always came out around that time and gagged a little bit accidentally on purpose at the love songs on the radio. "Valentine's day is stupid" I would have said if asked. Sounds like sour grapes to me. And it was.
High school, for the A-list kids is great. It's probably mostly okay for the B-list kids but as you slide further and further down that popularity poll, which sadly most of high school actually is, the experience gets yuckier and yuckier. I was essentially invisible. No boyfriends on my horizon. It's like I didn't exist to the male of the species. I was lucky enough to kind of accidentally have found a couple of wonderful friends. Two amazing, smart, beautiful and seriously funny women that are still friends of mine today. Who were so incredibly awesome that they opted to NOT go to Senior Prom because I wasn't asked by anyone and instead spent it with me. THAT my friends is love. But I lacked the maturity, the perspective and the emotional sophistication back then to realize what I do now. Valentine's Day is not just about having someone who I love. It's also about knowing that someone loves me.
And I had loads of people who loved me. My parents, my sister, my friends, grandparents, other relatives and even the four-legged family members who rejoiced like I was a returning conquering hero every time I walked in the room even if I was only gone to wash my hands.
Who do you love? Your kids? Your friends? Your parents? Your pet? Someone you've lost but you had for awhile? Do you at least love yourself? That counts and it's important.
Do you love your home? Your job? Your hobby? Is there a particular food, or flower or superhero that has captured your heart?
"Everybody Loves Somebody, Sometime", Thank you Dean Martin. It just is the truth whether you admit it or not. It's there and it's beautiful.
And if you are lucky enough to have someone in your life, a partner, a companion, a lifemate, a spouse, who truly really sincerely completely adores you, warts and all, well that is just the most wonderfully amazing thing! Think about it. There are Billions of people in the world. That's Billions with a B and a whole lot of zeros. Out of all of those Billions of people, the two of you found each other. And then you decided to spend what life you are given, together. To face whatever fate and life and the universe throws at you, side by side. That's amazing. It's incredible. It's fantastic! And it's worth celebrating.
It's Valentine's Day. Celebrate!
Yesterday I went with my sister on a shopping mission. She wanted to buy new bedding. And a seemingly small thing like new bedding, can make an old room look brand new or a new bedroom look extra special. (The photo here is our guest room - not what she bought, it's just for illustrative purposes)
She had an idea of what she was looking for but only in the broadest sense. Still it helps to have that kernel of a concept when on a shopping mission. Otherwise the sheer number of possibilities can be overwhelming. The first store we went into did not have much to choose as far as what she was specifically seeking which made decision making easier. It was pretty much yes or no. Not a lot of maybe about it. She wanted white or cream bedding. She needed the comforter to be lightweight. She prefers a rather modern esthetic. Ok now we are narrowing things down.
The second store had loads more choices but again, easier to filter down with colour and weight preferences. So not the floral, not the tropical birds, not the stripes or solid dark colours. Still there is texture and fabric to take into account. They had a comforter she liked, but no matching shams. Dang. They had a toss pillow she really loved which looked very nice with the comforter, but no dustruffle that looked good with any of it. Dang again. Moving on.
At the third store she hit paydirt. There was a set already pre-packaged that had everything she was looking for and that she adored. The right colours, the right weight, the shams, dust ruffle and toss pillow were already in the gigantic package. There was even a set of sheets in the enormous zippy bag. Holy Cats! Even though we had to wrestle the package out the store, across the parking lot and into the car, it was totally worth the hunting trip. Mission Accomplished! That's a good feeling. She was elated and I shared her excitement. After all, who hasn't been there?
When we first moved here, we bought a new bed. I mean everything, bedframe, mattress, headboard/footboard and boxspring. Not all in the same store of course, nope, that takes some hunting. I don't know how many different places we looked at headboard/footboards trying to find the one we both liked, that suited the room before we decided. I suspect it was multiple weekends over perhaps a month. And then the mattress. Mercy. There was actually a super-duper comfy one we tried, I don't recall where, but the price tag made me sweat. Nope. I want to be comfortable but unless that thing is lined with gold and rubies, that price was crazy. We moved on.
Finally we happened across a place called, "Land of Sleep". Yeah, I know, the name is a little precious. But the prices were sane, the people working there were very nice, knowledgeable and not at all pushy AND they delivered for free, same day. Awesome! Yup that was the one we chose and we have not regretted it for a second. None of those missions seemed anymore difficult or discouraging than any other furniture shopping trip.
As a side note, does anyone besides me feel ridiculous and uncomfortable laying on mattresses in a store while strangers are looking at you? Is it just me? Anyway....
Pillows on the other hand see to be especially difficult for Tim and I both. Finding just the right pillow seems to be Mission Impossible. We had bought, tried and discarded a ridiculous number of pillows in our time together. What seems to be a reasonable choice in the store is uncomfortable at home. I feel like Goldilocks, this one is too hard, that one too soft. Struggling to find the one that is "just right". We both like multiple pillows, Tim for switching out when one gets too hot. I like a firmer pillow for sitting up reading and a softysoft down pillow for sleeping. As anyone who has ever owned a down pillow knows, eventually the poofiness is gone and you just have a sack of limp sad tired feathers and it's like sleeping with no pillow at all. It's very sad.
I haven't yet replaced our old comforter. Not just because I'm cheap. I am but in this case it's not why. It's because at some point, I plan to repaint the bedroom and I have no idea what colour it will end up being. So even though our comforter is old and has a few little holes here and there, it actually looks really good with the current bedroom colour. So I'll keep it until the bedroom is painted. And then I will go through what Joy just did in the search for the perfect bedding to transform the room entirely! And that will be a fun adventure!
Maybe I"ll start in that last store.........
I have no problem admitting that I am not a car person. If I witnessed robbers fleeing the scene of the crime in their getaway vehicle and I was called upon to describe the car, I might recall the number of doors it had and what colour it was. That's it. The vast majority of the time, that is my sum total knowledge of cars. I should be embarassed by that I supposed, but I'm not. Everybody has their "thing'. MIne is cookies. Someone else's has to be about automobiles.
Okay, okay, I recognize a few cars. A VW Beetle is a car that stands apart from the crowd. If I see that car, I know it. Maybe a PT Cruiser, although I don't see as many of those around anymore as I used to. If a DeLorean's doors are open, I usually can remember the name of that one. But I think that is it. All the other cars in the world are merely number of doors and paint colour to me.
And yet, and yet.....and yet....I love car shows! I know! It's crazy. I defy definition. and pigeon holes. I rarely know what I am looking at but that doesn't stop me from admiring it. Back in Colorado, we liked to go to this very cool car museum downtown. Way fun. But home grown car shows, where you can meet the owners and talk with them, that's the best. And I got the chance to do just that this past weekend. Yay! Joy and Bob joined us as we strolled through the rows and Rows and ROWS of all sorts of different cars of every colour and style imagineable.
Joy, Bob and Tim know about cars. They have memories of cars they have owned, their friends have owned, their friends parents owned or just cars that were somehow memorable to them. I love hearing them talk about this one's engine or that one's chasis. I smile and nod as if I had a clue what they were talking about and then go right ahead and enjoy the car my own way.
I never know what it is that will make me smile about this particular car over that one over there. It might be the front of the car that stands out. All shiny. I love all that sparkly chrome. It's like jewelry :)
Or it could be the hood ornaments. I love the old hood decorations. I'm so sorry that it's usually just a plain old flat emblem anymore. Those old ones had class, they had style, they had distinction!
Or maybe it was the back end of the car that captured my fancy? Sure that could be it. Sometimes it absolutely was be the rear view that was my favourite;
Sometimes there was something especially appealing to me about the tires. I don't understand it, I just listen to the siren call, make the appropriate oo's and aaah's and then take the photographs. You gotta admit, these are pretty snazzy
Perhaps it's just the customizations that makes an ordinary vehicle extraordinary and personalized special and that is the appeal. Some quirky, fun or really different touches. It might be the paint colour, the sparkle or the fuzzy dice. It could be anything that makes me smile. Or maybe it isn't a custom item at all, maybe it's standard but specific to that car. Doesn't matter, it's still the thing that makes that particular car a standout.
Really, who cares why I like what I like. Fact is, I liked it all. And regardless of the various reasons, everyone had a great time. I got to sit in my favourite car, which turns out to be a yellow and white, '55 Chevy Bellaire (who knew?). Joy couldn't pick just one favourite car although she was partial to a blue Camaro and a particular Corvette whose name had both letters and numbers in it (beyond that I have no idea). And I suspect that Tim and Bob liked them all, each for different reasons of course.
Now to be fair, I have a good time pretty much everywhere I go, but the car show, that is something special. If you happen to be around next year at this time, you can join us when we go again! See ya next year at the Venice Island Car Show! Woohoo! and Beepbeep!
This week I enjoyed an experience that was new to me. I went to an art lecture. There is an art center right here on the island which is handy. And I have been in that building exactly one time, before this week. I knew that they had events there, I even read about the lectures and exhibits before. Just somehow, I never got myself in the door except the one time, shortly after we moved here. And that one time, I never got any further than the first room which had an exhibit of jewelry which I enjoyed perusing and then, inexplicably, I looked no further, left and didn't return. Until this week.
We have a new neighbor just down the street. She invited me to attend the lecture with her. How very kind! And so we went. As we paid our entrance fee, we learned that the scheduled speaker had to cancel due to a family emergency and they had cobbled together a last minute fill in and hoped we enjoyed ourselves. The lecture itself was held in the gallery, folding chairs set up in the middle, but the surrounding walls chock-a-block with lovely works, all done by local artists, to entertain us as we waited for it to begin.
The gentleman who so kindly stepped in, decided to demonstrate as opposed to lecture. He started with a blank piece of paper and a charcoal pencil. Before him was a table covered with an artfully draped bit of cloth and an assemblage of items. A Still Life work. Not precisely the photo I've posted above, but near enough.
We watched as he blocked the work first with his pencil, that is, he made little marks on the paper indicating where certain things ended and other things began. He was settling in his perspective. There is a lot of math involved. Then with various sizes and shapes of ovals and circles began roughing in the objects. Next he used a series of pastels, moving from dark to light to bring these items to life.
It was amazing to watch the transformation. I was entranced. Rarely do I sit that still for that long. I had a perfect view, just over his right shoulder. I watched as he made an initial motion in the air before committing the pastel to the paper every single time. Each elegant stroke added subtle shadow and then colour and then light.
He didn't speak a lot. Mostly he worked and occasionally he would break to explain briefly what he was doing and why. Or he might identify the specific sort of charcoal or pastel or paper he was using and why. When asked, he gave his artistic credentials, primarily as a book cover artist and now a teacher.
Through him, I got to experience some of what it is like to create a piece of art. I cannot do it myself of course, I can only appreciate the results of what other people do. But it was that hour of my stillness that was a real gift that I received. I am rarely still. And if I do take a moment to really stop and see something it's usually brief. I have other things I need to do. We all do, right? Who has the time to really experience something fully anymore.
Which made me think of the first time I heard that expression, "Experiencing' something. It was my first year of college. A writing class. My professor was an interesting woman, very well read, preternaturally calm, absolutely unflabbable regardless of what moronic thing a student said or did. One of our very first assignments was to "Experience an Orange". "What's that, now?" was probably our collective response.
She smiled and explained. She wanted us to go home, get an orange, experience it fully and then write about it. Hmmmmmmm. As instructed I bought an orange, went home, put it on the counter and stared at it. It stared back.
As the orange had nothing to say, it was left to me to figure this out. I started out with a clinical description. It felt, at first, like a hopeless assignment. What am I supposed to say about this thing? And orange is an orange is an orange! But I found as time went on, I found more things to write about this bit of citrus. The sound of it, the smell, the feel, the taste. Each step of peeling, sectioning and eating this fruit led to another sensation and another until I realized that I had written pages about this orange. Who'd a thought? By being totally focused on this one thing, I truly experienced it.
Which leads me to an article I read last night. (Isn't it funny how all these things link together?) The article was, "What you're missing when you're not listening'. And it talks about how we, as humans, are so assaulted by sound every moment of every day that we tend to block sounds out to protect ourselves. Which means we are missing lovely quiet subtle things that would have enhanced an otherwise ordinary experience and how important it is to get back to that to remember how to not just hear but to listen to what we are hearing.
The writer spoke of learning out to determine the value of a coin with eyes closed, just by listening to the sound it makes dropped onto the kitchen counter; how a spouse recognizes the footsteps of their significant others steps separate from anyone else in the family as they move through the house; how a mother can pick out the sound of their own child's voice in a crowd. He told a story about a blind man named, Justice Fielding, who, by just uttering a few words in a room he had never been in before, knew the exact measurements of the room. Wow!
I suspect that if, occasionally, we take the time to sit in a quiet place and just relax, we will see, hear, feel, smell things we generally do not notice and that yes, it will enhance the moment, That goes double for me too. I need to slow down a bit. I need to take the time, now and again, to experience the orange.
This is our house phone. Well one of them. We have three, sprinkled here and there throughout the house. "What?" you say incredulously, "House phone? People still have those?" Yes. Some people do. We do. Primarily because I hear better on a landline than my cell phone. Me oh my, the things we do to accommodate my deficiencies.
A cellphone is mighty handy, I will say. I carry mine with me, nearly all the time. Oh not for talking on. I almost never have phone conversation on my cellphone. But for texting, sure. Checking emails, absolutely and taking photographs, primarily. Never while driving by the way. Never Ever Ever while driving.
I was thinking about this today while on terminal hold. I had to make a call to a local government office and naturally, once I fought my way through their maze of a phone tree, I was immediately assaulted by the loudest and worst Muzak I've ever heard while on hold. Occasionally a recorded voice broke in to assure me that my call was very important to them and someone would be with me soon. Well nobody ever did get to me and eventually the recorded voice just directed me to leave a detailed message which I did. And now I am homebound until they return my call (promptly, I'm sure because, remember, my call is important to them - hah!)
But it got me thinking about phones in general. The first telephone that I remember was the party line at my Michigan grandparents house. The phone was on a table in their dining room (why? I don't know) . It was a party line. That is, they shared the phone line with neighbors and each party had a specific pattern of rings that indicated the call was for them. My grandmother, bless her little heart, was notorious for listening in on everyone's calls. The neighbors, I need to add, were not close by. This was a farming community. LARGE farms. Other than my great grandmother's house, which was across the cornfield, you couldn't see any other houses. So the term neighbor has a loose definition. If you needed to make a call and someone else was already on the line, you had to wait. Patience was needed.
The next phone I recall was our phone in California. I even remember the number, Hopkins 65724. Back then phone numbers were letters and numbers. It was the first two letters of Hopkins so HO65724. It was easier for me to remember than just a string of what feels like random numbers. I remember the receiver being incredibly heavy. The phone was black. All phones then were black. It sat on a table against the wall between the dining and living room. I remember turning the dial, putting my little finger into the hole that corresponded to the number and turning it to the right, the resistance again the turn and the clicking sound. I even recall the strangeness of hearing a disembodied voice on the other end of the phone and overcome with shyness only whispering a very faint "yes" in response to a question before handing the phone to my mother.
If you had to make a long distance call you had to go through the operator. You picked up the receiver and dialed "0". Once she answered you requested the long distance operator. After a series of clicks she would come on the line and ask, "What city please?" She would put the call through for you. How very kind :)
I also remember that the phone would ring for a long time. In fact if the person on the other end had enough patience or nothing to do, it would ring endlessly. But it had to ring many times to allow the recipient sufficient time to get to the phone. Most household had one phone. One. And it was almost never where it was convenient to whatever you were doing when the hone rang. I think my Mother's rule was to allow for 7 rings. She felt that 7 was sufficient time for anyone to put down what they were doing and get to the phone. If they didn't answer, well, you just called again later. Once again, patience required.
By the time we lived in Texas my sister and I shared a phone in our room. Oh it was just an extension of the house phone, but it was in our room and it was a cream colour, a "princess" phone it was called. The receiver was still, at that point, tethered too the base and I've always been an itchy sort of person who finds it hard to hold still. I do remember talking on that phone for brief calls. Lying on my bed with my feet on the wall (for which I would get smacked if caught) and talking to my friends. And since there was only one actually phone number in the house, if the line was in use, you waited your turn.
In college, there was a pay phone at the end of each hall. No phone call was private. And since it required money and we were mostly poverty stricken college kids, our calls were always short and to the point. It was hard to hear on that phone too, there was almost always some sort of ruckus going on in the background which did not encourage many calls. There were a few monied kids with phones in their rooms but the rest of us made do. Getting a call was trickier. Either you had to preplan what time the other person was going to call you and then chase away anyone else wishing to use the phone while waiting, or just hope for the best. Sometimes a spontaneous phone call in meant hoping that another resident would not only answer the phone, but also take a message and more importantly pass it along to you. Good luck with that.
I do recall using phone booths on rare occasions. They always had a peculiar smell and the height of the phone required some tiptoe work for me. I recall the sound of dropping coins in the slot and the sudden dial tone once you had deposited the correct change. And then when you had used the amount of time you paid for the voice that broke in asking for more money. "Deposit ten cents please to continue your call" it would insist. And if you didn't deposit the extra dime, the call was cut off abruptly. People walking by always stared at whoever was using the phone booth. I looked either at the ceiling (cobwebs every time) or my feet to avoid those prying eyes. And it struck me funny that the phone was in, what was essentially, a closet but the walls and door were transparent, so what was the point of the doors again? Probably made it a wee bit quieter.
When I was first married and the boys were babies I had to campaign hard for a phone in the apartment. "For emergencies !" I swore! But I also talked to my mother and my sister and a few girlfriends on that phone. The cord was really long, which was necessary to reach the boys who always got into mischief the instant the phone rang. The cord was always a knotted mess that eventually had to be replaced from me accidentally travelling a farther than the length of it which would pull the clip out. Turns out it can only be plugged back in so many times before it says, "Uncle" and doesn't work anymore. There were phone message machines then, but we didn't have one. So if you didn't reach me the first time, you would have to try to call me again later. Patience required on your end.
Wireless housephones were a godsend for me. I could multi-task, finally. Well, to be fair, I was multi-tasking anyway, but now I wasn't wearing out or tangling cords doing so. And it seemed that the more mobile I was able to be, the longer the calls got. It was not at all unusual for my sister and I to be talking on the phone and her to say, "What's that echo sound?" and my response, "Sorry, I'm cleaning the toilet". We would both laugh and then keep talking. Probably not very polite, but efficient. It's all fine working around the house while talking on the phone. But there are times when even I do not multi-task phone and something else.
I see people walking around with those headset phones. Some of them fit over the head like a hairband, and others just stick out of their ears. I'm sure that is very handy but no thank you. I suppose those are folks whose jobs require that they are ever reachable. I think I'm good with not being quite so available. If I'm at the grocery store, I'm grocery shopping. If I'm driving, I'm only driving, that's it, nothing else. If I'm hiking somewhere on another photo safari, I'm focused on that and only that. If I'm out with friends, in a restaurant, or a doctor appointment, I ignore the phone, and in fact, I generally turn off the ringer. There are times when I do not want to divide my attention. I have voice mail capability for a reason. I honestly have received in my lifetime very few calls that required my immediate response.
Generally youngest son and his wife Skype call with us at some point during the weekend. I love that we can see each other when we talk. Conversation is so much richer, more multi-leveled when I can also see facial expressions and gestures. I can say hello to their kitties who wander past, they can show me a new shirt, they can see the new paint colour of the family room. It's just another level to the communication we already have in place.As a little girl I saw at a Future World Exposition kind of thing an example of what they thought future phones would be, I think they called it Visiphone? It was a slightly oversized phone with a teensy TV screen inbedded in it.
I cannot even begin to imagine what the next level of communication will be like but it's exciting to contemplate.
So here we are. The call that was so important to them still hasn't been returned and so I wait. I guess I could read the newspaper. Maybe do some dusting while I wait. In some ways, nothing has changed. I'm still impatient and waiting for my call. All those years of practice and I still have not developed patience. I guess it's just not in my skillset.
Over the weekend we ventured out a little bit after that long week of people in this house being sick. Took a little stroll around the neighborhood. Turned out that a house that I pass every time I walk to Pilates Class was not only for sale, but had an open house. We like open houses so we went in.
I was already familiar with this house because I walk past it a minimum of four times every week. But it's not because of the house at all. I mean to say, there is nothing wrong with the house. It is well kept in appearance and on the small side. From the outside it is a little rectangular, brown box with a questionably chosen deep purple door and a one car garage. That's really all you notice about the house if you walk by. It turns out to be a two bedroom, two bathroom house with a kitchen/family room. That's it. That's the entire house. Sort of like a very nice hotel suite. All updated and well tended. And to my surprise, it had a lovely caged pool and large patio area that I had not been aware of.
The reason this house registered with me at all, was not any of the above. It was the yard. The house could have been utterly invisible and I still would have noticed because of the area around the house. It is a good sized lot which is entirely filled with The Most Enchanted Garden that completely encircles the house. It is an oasis. It seems to be something out of a fairy tale. I do not even have the words sufficient to describe how lovely that garden is.
We made short work of admiring the little house. As cute as it was, the house itself did not really appeal to us. But we couldn't wait to get outside to walk through that garden.
Everywhere we looked as we wandered the meandering pathways there was something new to see. It was not just the enormous variety of trees, shrubs, ground covers and flowers but also the secret little sitting areas, the trellis dripping in fragrant orange blossoms, the gazing balls unexpectedly appearing around a corner. It was the surprise of mosaics and coloured bottles and a variety of stepping stones and the carefully created areas of sun and of shade. There were sculptures and whirlygigs, spinners and tinkling windchimes. I half expected to find elves and fairies folicking under toadstools and a unicorn to step out from behind a tree.
It sounds as if it was "too much", over done, crazy or over the top. I can only assure you that it was not. There was perfect balance. Everything was just enough. Just enough charm, just enough colour and texture. The perfect degrees of both precision and whimsy. It was so well thought out. An artist must have created and maintained this garden.
I wanted to stay. Not in the house, while a perfectly nice house it wasn't our house. The house didn't speak to me at all, but that garden. That garden spoke volumes. It was peaceful and inspirational and delightful. And it beckons each person who visits to stay and enjoy.
The very first thing the realtor said to us when we walked in the door was. "Welcome" the second thing she said was that there was already an offer on the house. We smiled and thanked her and continued on our tour as did carload after carload of others. Clearly we were not the only folks mesmerized by this lovely place.
I was not even remotely disappointed (or surprised) that someone snapped this house up when it had just barely hit the market. If you had seen it in person and had the bank account to support it, you would have been tempted also. But while I so admire that lovely garden, when I see it I also see work. A lot of work, constant and necessary work. To live there and not keep it up would be like defiling a Rembrandt. But I swore when we moved here that never again would I be a slave to a house.
Our Colorado house was gorgeous. We really loved that house. It was also more than twice the size of our current home. With just the two of us living there and both of us working full time, it still took most of the weekend the clean it every week. Keeping the yard and gardens trimmed and weeded and updated and properly maintained was another day out of the week at a minimum. Add to that the normal things that everyone does, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking and so forth, leaves no time for any fun. And if I said, "To heck with it" and just didn't do the work required, the following weekend there was twice as much work to do. At times, I felt like a slave to my house.
I hope whoever it is that bought the little house in the enchanted garden is a Master Gardener who will enjoy doing the tons of work necessary to keep that garden thriving. But I'm glad it's not me. I suppose I've gotten lazy in my old age. Or perhaps I've gotten more realistic, more honest with myself. I now know what I'm willing and more likely to do, the amount of effort I'm willing to put in. It's important to me that my house looks nice and I'm well aware of what is involved in keeping it that way.
Our little house doesn't have an enchanted garden. But it looks pretty good for a house that doesn't require a lot of work to keep up. Sort of like me I guess. At this point, I look pretty good for someone my age who isn't interested or willing to put more work in. Yeah, that'll do.
Rumor has it that somewhere inside the noggin of this individual here, there is a brain. A Big fat juicy brain. There have been times in my life where that fact was seriously in doubt but since I am a living breathing sentient being, we can only assume that it is so.
I grew up believing, and I'm not certain what the source of this information is, that the human brain only uses 10% of it's capability. Which would lead one to believe that we all have yet uptapped abilities, talents, intelligence and who knows what all else. Which further leads us to think (or at least my thought process went in this direction) that our future generations would be the most amazing beings that ever existed as far as intellect and ability goes. Perhaps we would communicate telepathically, maybe we would be able to fly, I mean without a plane, or just have the ability to heal all injuries and cure all diseases. Wouldn't that be amazing? Hey I watched Star Trek, I saw those other beings with the huge brains. Isn't that what the future is supposed to look like?
Well, apparently not. Over the weekend I happened across an article that, wildly, made the claim that our brains are not growing but shrinking. " What?" I said to myself outloud, "What sort of balderdash is this?" And I read the article. Although very well written and documented, I had my doubts. But something niggled at the back of my brain so instead of just tossing that bit of information away and moving on the next thing, I did more reading. Which led to more reading and then still more reading. And dang it all, it turns out that, it seems to be true. Our brains are shrinking! And this is a worldwide phenomenon, not just in the USA. What the heck?
There are a number of theories as to the why of it. Among them, Global Warming (?) (Is there anything that won't be blamed on it?) or possibly that we have found ways to use our brains more efficiently so that we actually go not need larger brains. Then there is the evolution reason, people are much smaller than our Cro-magnon ancesters. Women, for example, women have smaller narrow pelvis' than our distant ancestors did and therefore to allow for pregnancy and childbirth human heads (and therefore brains) have had to evolve smaller, more compactly. I suppose that is reasonable. We do evolve over many many (many!!!) generations. For example, do you know that more and more people are now being born with no appendix? We don't need it anymore so we are evolving away from it. Same thing with wisdom teeth. They just don't serve a purpose any longer. How very efficient of us!
But the theory the really rang clearly with me is that we just aren't using as much of our brains anymore as the generations before us. We don't. We don't have the same survival issues and therefore problem solving issues that they had. We stare at blue screen, tablets, monitors, phones, televisions for an enormous portion of our day and lords knows what that flickering blue light is doing to us. We don't memorize phone numbers anymore. We don't have the same beautiful language skills that previous generations had (read some older books and marvel over the beautiful word use - it's a serious wow).
Kids don't even have to learn the multiple tables anymore, they are instead encouraged to use a calculator!! GPS will get you to your destination, you don't have to read a map or remember the way to get anywhere. Schools don't teach cursive writing for heaven's sakes despite all of the studies that indicate the importance of it. And now there is that little in-home brainiac computer thingie that will lock your doors, turn on your lights, change your TV channels and the room temperature with just your voice command. I'm not certain that this was a step forward in our brain development.
I don't see children inventing games to play anymore. We did growing up. In fact, I don't see most public schools encouraging creativity at all. I see a lot of little baby human robots being created however with educational systems that seem to want to be identical. Ridiculous. Humans are born creative. Schools are sucking that creativity right out of them. I've been reading studies about that too. How do you think new things are invented? Problems solved? Brilliant ideas born? Through creative thought. We should be encouraging it not programming it out of our young people.
Adults are so crazybusy, working, travelling to and from work, then the yard work the house work, the family and relationship work that when they finally do get to sit down, it's in front of the TV or the computer where they just zone out.
Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it really is the fault of global warming. I don't know. But the facts seem to remain, the human brain is shrinking. How weird is that! There is your little bit of random information to think about today! And do think about it. Think. Create, Reverse this trend. Let's occasionally put down the electronics and grow our brains. Sounds like a plan to me.
I am fascinated by names. What they mean, where they originate, how they look written down, how they sound in combination with other names. Just love 'em.
As I believe I've mentioned here before, I used to have a book called, "What Not to Name the Baby". It was intended to be amusing, and it was, (under meaning of names: "David - is a 6 year old boy who bites. Sam - Nothing much could be wrong with anyone named Sam") but it was the theory that is posed that fascinated me the most. The authors proposed the idea that people become their names. Interesting.
So the fact that my real name, "Sandra" which is a derivation of the name, Alexandra which is the female version of Alexander (of Greek origin) means: Helper to Mankind kind of makes sense. Nearly very job I've ever held was one where I was fortunate enough to help people in some way and that was one of the parts about the job that I enjoyed the most. Of course I'm not working for pay now, but as a volunteer I teach people who to speak, read and write English. Still helping!
I wonder if I was named something else, would I have become a different person? Even the name I go by, "Sam" which means Listener is interesting to me as the last paying job I ever held, which was also my favourite job, was working in Audiology! Hah! Interesting eh?
I am not certain that people put enough thought into the names they choose for their children. Everyone I've ever known who had an unusual spelling for their name, hated it. Not the name itself maybe, but the fact that they have to spell it to Everyone, Everywhere, All of the Time! One of the most unique spelling I ever saw for a 'normal' name was: M'sh'l. I had to say it out loud to figure it out. Michelle! Ok that is just crazy. I won't even apologize for saying so. That poor child has now been consigned to correcting everyone everywhere she goes for her entire life. She will probably just sigh sometimes and allow it to be spelled wrong.
Sometimes I suppose it's no huge deal. But these are the folks who smile as they introduce themselves as,Suzi with an "i" or Steven with a "v" and they do it automatically, every time. Then the rest of us are left to having to remember which Steven is Stephen and which Suzi is Suzy or never EVER writing their names, ever!
Names are cyclical, that is there is an ebb and flow to the popularity of any name. Grace for example was a hugely popular name 1900 through the 1920's which is a nice long run. And then it fell out of favour and unless a person was named after their grandmother, you just didn't hear the name. It was old fashioned, it was odd, it was, well, not cool. Then suddenly, it became popular again and classrooms everywhere became littered with little Grace's.
Mary was a hugely popular name for a VERY long time. I remember going to primary school with a lot of Mary's, usually combined with another name, i.e. Mary Ann, Mary Francis, Mary Catherine. I haven't heard or even read of anyone named Mary in a long time. It must be going to come back into popularity in a generation or so.
In Texas, I knew a lot of people, both male and female who went by both their first and middle names. Jim Bob and Billy Joe are real people. I am not certain why it was a common thing there but it certainly was. When I lived in St. Louis, everyone's middle name was a deep dark secret for some reason. Nobody ever told anyone their middle name and if someone, somehow found out, it was shocking and embarrassing. Well not to me, I don't care. Never did care. Never will care. But it was the way the things were there. To be fair there were a lot of horrible middle names when I lived there. Not certain what that was about. Maybe family names?
Most families have a name or two that they try to move forward generation to generation. In my Mother's family there is almost always a male with the name, Raymond, somewhere along the line, whether it's a first or middle name. I like the name just fine. But none of my boys are carrying it with them. I'm fairly certain that at least one cousin has taken care of that for me.
I've known a lot of "The thirds". You know, not the senior, not the junior, but the next one, somebody somebody the third. I've never known a 4th though. In fact the two, "The Thirds" that I knew well to ask if their would be a "The fourth" both told me, without hesitation, "Not just no, but Hell no". Being a number is a bit of a burden I'm assuming. Think about it, let's say the name is John Francis Doe. Okey the first one, Senior probably went by John. The second one, junior, to avoid confusion father to son, might have gone by Frank, the diminutive of Francis. What does "The Third" go by so that when someone calls him, gets the right one?Johnny maybe. And Johnny is fine for a little boy, but few adult males can pull off the name "Johnny" successfully. And even if you did, what on earth would you call "The fourth"? It's a dilemma I never had to solve, thank goodness.
Some parents want their child to stand out by giving them a very unusual name. There was a lot of that going on in the 60's and 70's. Far too many "Moonbeams" and "Sunflowers" happening then. Those are names that are easily categorized. I know a number of children of that era who, upon reaching adulthood, immediately went to court and changed their names legally. I guess it's hard to be taken seriously as a judge or a senator when your name is Strawberry Love Jones.
I have this wonderful book, "Remarkable Names of Real People". Someone went too the trouble of compiling some of those most unusual names that actual people carried with them throughout their lives, like the sisters, Ima and Ura Hogg. Real people folks. Katz Meow. Also real. Hello Baby Darling. Seriously? Appendicitis Jackson and their siblings, Laryngitis, Menengitis, Peritonitis and Tonsillitis Jackson. What where those parents thinking? Were they thinking? Cigar Stubbs. Okay that's just cruel. Luscious Pea. What? Shanda Lear. Now you are just being ridiculous.
I know a lot of people who do not like their names. In fact, I probably know more people who don't like their names then those who do. Other people don't feel one way or the other about their names. It just is their name, no opinion whatsoever about it. But in my entire life, I have known one ,and only one, person who loved her name. She adored it. Her name was Celestine. And she didn't shorten it one bit. Her name was Celestine and she was, by God, called, Celestine by everyone who knew her. I loved how she loved her name and obviously, I never forgot it.
In college, we females were encouraged to have an alternate name, a name that we could throw out without deep thought that wasn't our real name to protect ourselves a little bit in the scary world. For instance, going to a party with a lot of people we didn't know well, or going to a dance club or a bar. Lots of strangers. Lots of strangers who have been partying and maybe aren't behaving as well as their Mama's taught them. We girls gave a lot of thought about our "alter ego" names. We suggested names for each other. It's hard to have lived with a particular name for a couple of decades and then suddenly try to be another name. The name that was suggested for me was, Sarah. It's a pretty name. I even like it. It means, Princess. Problem is, I've never been a Princess-type girl. Maybe that's why it never suited. I just couldn't even pretend to be Sarah. I'm just Sam.
Sam I am, I am Sam, I do not like Green Eggs and Ham. Yup that'll do me just fine.
But I do occasionally wonder, if I had been given a different name and ended up with a different nickname, would I have turned out to be a completely different person? Perhaps in a parallel universe, there is a "me" named Sarah who is, indeed a Princess. Way Cool.
It's Groundhog Day! Loved the movie. Have serious questions about the tradition. My first question is, when did this nonsense get started? The answer is that in this country it all began around 1887 somewhere in Pennsylvania Dutch country. So the actual famous weather rodent, Punxsutany Phil, is in the correct neck of the woods for sure.
But I was also wondering, how is it that an animal that is essentially rat cousin is seen to be imbued with powers of prognostication? Well, the actual tradition originates somewhere in ancient Europe where a badger or sacred bear predicts the weather. As we have no sacred bears laying around but the Pennsylvannia part of the country seems to be lousy with groundhogs, Phils gets the nod.
I was curious if old Punxsatuny Phil is supposedly predicting the weather for the entire country? His state? or maybe just his neighborhood? Well it turns out that it's just the local weather. Texas has it's own weather guru and it's an armadillo. Which makes sense. Loads of unemployed armadillos in Texas. May as well put one of them to work. I have no idea what other parts of the country do because Phil is strictly a local kinda guy.
Then I wondered, how many different Punxasatuny Phil's there have been. According to their website, Phil is eternal and magical. Turns out, not so much. The average groundhog lives about six years which means that there have been at least 21 different weather predicting groundhogs in PA and unless the knowledge is passed along groundhog generation to groundhog generation of how to predict the weather accurately, I have doubts about it's veracity.
And then there is that......the accuracy. Regardless of Phil's website where they claim his accuracy to be 100%, it's actually only 39%. Come to think of it, that's probably pretty much on par with human weather guys. And unless Phil has a teeny tiny meterologic computer in his burrow, I guess I'm a little bit impressed.
Meanwhile, I still have no idea how it is that this one tiny community in Pennsylvania and one fairly obscure ancient European tradition involving a psychic rodent have become such a big deal. It doesn't bother me, I don't object to it, I'm just curious. I'm sure there were a lot of ancient European tradition that we no longer practice. How is it that this one has carried forward? I am not a dissenter, I am just a naturally curious person. Apparently just like Phil is a natural weather forecaster.
Still, I live in Florida. Groundhog day doesn't mean much here. I peek out the window and it's sunny and gorgeous, just as it usually is. I don't think we have ground hogs. We have lizards and alligators. If either one of them can predict the weather, they aren't talking about it.
Meanwhile, I still like the movie better than the day. I'm reasonably sure most people would agree it has a more predictably happy ending ;)
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.