Something to Think About

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Circle of Friends

Listening to Alan Alda’s podcast Clear and Vivid gives me something to think about. Recently he interviewed Robin Dunbar, who researched Monkey behavior and why Apes groom each other, constantly. You know what his talking about, the behavior of hunting through their mate’s skin and hair for what not. Bugs?

His investigation expanded to human behavior, termed; Dunbar’s Number and Circle of Friends, and concluded . . . relationships and their quality effect the longevity of life. This comes as no surprise to most of us, however, now data backs it up.

What is Dunbar’s Number?

The anthropologist theory is that the average number of relationships humans can maintain is one hundred and fifty. It is okay to scratch your head and ponder Facebook claims of thousands by some individuals.

His research supports the concept of circles of friends; the closest has just five people (loved ones), followed by a layer of 15 (good friends), next 50 (friends), followed by 150 (meaningful contacts). The outer two circles include 500 (acquaintances, aka people who smile when they see you) and 1500 (those you recognize, but can’t remember why).

Keep in mind, people migrate in and out of these layers and sometimes are referred to as flat leavers. No worries, that makes room for someone else in your circle of friends.

Clearly however, having friends increases the quality and length of one’s life. Especially as we age. It is important to have someone to respond when you’ve fallen and can’t get up, bring you chicken soup if you have the flu, and drive you to a doctor’s appointment.

But we often lose loved ones and, or don’t get along with relatives. So, how do we make friends?

Well, touch triggers endorphins and consequently bonding. Apes groom each other repetitively for closeness. They have smaller brains, fewer friends and grooming activities to attract them. Similarly, humans have behaviors that forge relationships; laughter, singing, dancing, drinking and eating. That’s why people dine, drink, dance and laugh the night away.These activities draw people together, and then something does or doesn’t happen.

Dunbar identified seven pillars of friendship or why friendship lasts. Understanding the Power of Our Most Important Relationships (London, UK: Little, Brown Book Group Dunbar, R (2021) goes into depth.

  • having the same language (or dialect)
  • growing up in the same location
  • having had the same educational and career experiences
  • having the same hobbies and interests
  • having the same worldview (moral, religious, and political views)
  • having the same sense of humor
  • having the same musical tastes

So, if one stops playing golf, or joins a nudist club one might pretend not to know them in the grocery store.

Unbeknownst to them, they have been relegated to an outer circle.

. . . just saying

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Footprints In The Snow

Laverne

snowy pathway surrounded by bare tree
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The promise of a beautiful day after last night’s blizzard woke me early. I stood inside the glass storm door in the early sunlight, enjoying the view and a cup of coffee.

Yesterday, a gentle snow started falling in the morning and continued as though a baker was sprinkling confectioners’ sugar on a cake throughout the day. Around midnight the precipitation slowed and transformed into large snowflakes. The kind kindergartners cut from paper and their teacher hung on the classroom bulletin board.   

Footprints in the snow told me he had been here during the night. The boot marks were deep, and I imagined it would have taken great effort to reach the doorbell or trudge around the back; where his key no longer fit, but the door might have been left unlocked.

Stopping by was what he called it.

I remembered yanking those boots off and landing on the floor. When I suggested he loosen the laces first to make the task easier, he said, “You look so cute scolding me.” And joined me on the floor. But my looking so cute did not last during a long winter of frequent storms.

This morning the sun reflected on the ice crystals creating a mysterious pattern and I remembered his smell. The music, laughter, and wearing my best dress. The red one with a side zipper. I closed my eyes and recalled his moist lips on my neck.  

 “He’s not marriage material,” said my sister, Shirley.

I thought of Annie Oakley dressed in burlap, holding a rifle in her hand, and wanted to respond, “he’s great in bed,” but didn’t.

She hugged me. “He calls you Laverne. That’s not your name.”

“It’s a joke! You love the Laverne and Shirley show. I’m Laverne because you’re Shirley,” I blurted, too loudly.

“Did you laugh?” she asked.

He and I broke up not long after.

That spring I watched him throw a Frisbee to his dog in Washington Park but kept driving. What would be the point? He named the dog Max III and had explained his pet didn’t know there had been others.

I pulled over after a few blocks to do the math. Our relationship had lasted two years. If the ratio of dog life to human was seven to one, and Max was the third . . . Multiply the denominators, divided by the numerator . . . Well, it was highly probable I was Laverne #8.

I called my sister. She was snowed in too and suggested the footprints may not be his. “Remember phoning 911 because that man down the street pounded on your front door?”

The neighbor had come home drunk; the brick houses with chain-link fences looked the same and he assumed his wife locked him out.. When police asked for identification, he pulled out his license cursing. They walked him home.

Today, the fences were invisible under the snowfall. By noon the crunch of shovels piercing the hardened snow replaced the quiet, as the wind began to blow. I dressed in heavy clothing and inspected the footprints to determine if the outside heels were worn. They weren’t. The snow glare was unbearably bright and I walked to the store wearing sunglasses.

When I returned, the landlord was shoveling the footprints off the front steps. He stopped and called to me. “Hey Laverne,” leaning on his shovel he asked, “How’s what’s his face?”

I smiled, waved, and went into the house. Reminding him my name wasn’t Laverne and what’s his face and I had broken up one more time seemed silly.

I had a bowl of soup, washed the dishes, hung the kitchen towel, and looked around the apartment. The sofa pillows had been plumped and the crochet afghan folded, the way I liked it. There was nothing on the bedroom floor, the way I liked it.

I thought about getting a dog.

Later that evening, the phone rang. When I said, “hello,” the caller hung up.

Outside a full moon highlighted the piles of crisp white snow and the footprints were gone. But my sister’s words lingered.

I picked up the phone, pressed caller ID, and then dial. When he answered I said, “Jason, it’s Laverne.”

. . . just saying

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An Attitude of Gratitude

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It’s 2022 but I have a 2021 hangover. I don’t know whether to celebrate the end of a weird year with optimism for the future, or not.

It’s like waking up from a bad dream, uncertainty lingers and you’re afraid to fall back to sleep.

Please don’t misinterpret my angst, we had a great New Year’s visiting our friends in Lake Wales, Florida. They live in a gated Recreational Vehicle community with a private lake. We watched fireworks explode from their boat when it grew dark, and after a delicious dinner, enjoyed a move written by the buyer of their house in Pennsylvania, The 100 Foot Journey.

We all agreed the movie was a better choice than countdown to midnight TV shows.

The highlight of our visit was completion of a puzzle while my husband stayed in his new PJ’s and binge watched football with his friend, Ed.

Read the print carefully; I’m Grumpy . . . Deal with It!

Now that captures an attitude.

Gratitude? Well we’ll get to that.

When we arrived, my good friend Kathe was working on a puzzle she’d received as a Christmas present from her niece. I hadn’t done a puzzle in ten year. Kathe is a master and why she was gifted this puzzle. It was a find from the 1930, only 300 pieces but NO PICTURE.

The only clues were the title and shape; color matching was confusing at best. We eventually figured out Interlooking implied and in fact meant the pieces slipped apart. They did not lock together.

The two of us accomplished the impossible. We completed the puzzle. However, I’m sworn to secrecy and will post a tease, not the completed puzzle with one piece missing. thumbnail

Gratitude? Well, it is a different time in my life. A time when simple things give me enormous pleasure. Like good food, good friends and completing a 300 piece puzzle.

. . . . just saying

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. . .

Remember When

Christmas Card by Meredith aka Merf

Christmas Cards

Remember when we decorated doorways and arches with Christmas Cards? It was a simpler time. The tree went up on Christmas Eve and an evergreen scent, hard to described, filled our hearts and minds. Today I shop for a fragrant candle  to duplicate the scent unsuccessfully. The reality of a fresh Frasier Fur tree is short lived, needles drop quickly and the tree is so perfectly trimmed it appears to be a fake.

Over the years I’ve saved cards that were too pretty or special to toss and tuck them inside the branches (fake or real) of our tree. They bring me a smile. Below are some of my favorite ornaments. I have many birds on my tree.

. . . just saying

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Christmas In Florida

By Gosh By Jolly

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Christmas In Florida

It’s far from cold today in Florida; not even chilly. The temperature will climb to the mid-eighties.

I miss the snow.

Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas when I’m wearing shorts and sandals.

My poinsettias won’t get the recommended sunlight inside our house so they are spending time outdoors. However, they might experience wilt since they prefer air temps between 65-70.

 The local newspaper gave detailed instructions on how to care for the plant and suggested that, with a bit of work, they would bloom again. It sounded like a lot of work to me.

I’ve never had them bloom again, in Florida, but was successful in New Jersey, when I threw them off our deck.

Miraculously sometime during spring cleanup they were in bloom

. . . just saying

 

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Politically Correct and Then What

“Come Back as A Country Boy”

clouds country countryside dirt road

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The television show “The Voice” is a favorite of mine. It is entertaining, and in my opinion, stress free. I’m more likely to hum a Tony Bennett or Michael Bublé tune but found myself singing along to Blake Sheldon’s new release “Come Back as A Country Boy.”

The lyrics, “When I die, I want to come back as a country boy,” are upbeat and catchy.

Since I like to travel, I’ve imagined coming back as a bird or flight attendant.

However, after learning there is a pecking order surrounding drinking from a water fountain for birds, and realizing being a flight attendant might involve marshal art training; the country boy idea is appealing.

I’d drive a truck, sleep under the stars. drink beer and sing along. Although, to be politically correct I’d be a country girl, or . . . country whatever person.

Well, I’ll be dead and someone else will have to figure that out while I drink beer.

It’s a catchy tune.

. . . just saying

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Wine Not and Cataract Surgery

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Wine Not and Cataract Surgery

Those of you who have had cataract surgery know what I’m talking about; the world is brighter. I see the walls in my house as cream, not mustard. And my hair, isn’t dingy grey. I’m hoping after the second eye is corrected, I’ll have fewer wrinkles.

Rumor was the regiment of daily drops three days before surgery and up to one month after was the most annoying part.

They were right.

Although, I had to strip naked and wear a surgical gown three times too large; told to use the restroom which was locked, and consequently, had to sneak into the hall with my butt exposed.

The surgery was everything promised. After the doctor marked my forehead to indicate the left eye was to be operated on, I didn’t feel a thing.

In recovery I overhead the nurse’s discharge instructions for the patient in the next bed; no driving, DO NOT bend at the waist, and no alcohol.

However, she did not include the no alcohol in her discharge spiel to me, nor mention the difficulty one might have walking. One eye is new and improved, but patched and vision in the other eye is cloudy and compromised. A glass of wine was in my future.

After dinner I poured myself a glass of wine and watched the level rise in the glass, carefully, not to over do it. There was no rise in the glass and I thought the glass could be cracked, only to realize I had been pouring the wine on the counter.

Fortunately, it was inexpensive wine.

Fortunately, the spill didn’t travel to the floor. I would have had to bend at the waist.

Note to self; in preparation for the second eye surgery, buy straws.

. . . just saying

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Good Grief; there are 34 days left in the year!

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It Is. . .What It Is

“Today is Saturday, November 27, the 331st day of 2021. There are 34 days left in the year.” Like other newspapers, our local paper reports this information, and includes significant events from previous years, i.e.; Macy’s first Thanksgiving Day parade took place in 1924 and the release of the Beatles album “Magical Mystery Tour” in 1967.

Only 34 days left in the year! Good grief! Thirty-four days to achieve the goals I committed to 331 days ago.

Oh well, . . . it is what it is.

This expression, one of resignation, is included increasingly in conversations.

Why?

We never catch a break from mayhem.

So, I’ve been watching Lifetime Christmas Romance movies late at night and was thrilled not to see any uniformed police officers during the televised Thanksgiving Parade.

I’m thinking of sending a personal thank you note to Tom Selleck, you know the Police Commissioner of NYPD.

I know. . . I know, he’s not really the police commissioner in New York City. But you may agree, he should be.

. . . just saying

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Thanksgiving Holiday

Happy Thanksgiving to family & Friends

Thanksgiving Preparations

“I bought a young turkey,” said my husband.

It was difficult to find a small ten-to-twelve-pound bird and he had been on the lookout.

“Thank you,” I said kissing him on the cheek.

“If the label said Old Turkeys would anyone buy one?” He wore a humorous expression.

“Isn’t an old turkey a Tom turkey?” I visualized Old in bold letters.

“No, a Tom turkey is a male turkey.”

“So, if a male turkey is call Tom, what’s a female turkey called?”

“Gertrude?”

This is how we amuse ourselves.

I went on line. Sciencing.com to confirm what to call a female turkey.

“Wild female turkeys, or hens, weigh from 5 to 12 pounds and range from 30 to 37 inches long. Hens bear less colorful feathers than males, with rusty brown, white or gray-tipped breast feathers. Their heads are either white or blue-gray, with small feathers on both head and neck. Their wattles, snoods, caruncles and spurs are small. Hens make vocalizations such as yelps, clucks and cuts. Approximately 10 percent of hens possess a “beard,” or elongated chest feathers. Hens do not strut or fan their tails. Females can lay from nine to 13 eggs, which they incubate for around 28 days.

Yesterday, I transferred the turkey to the refrigerator to defrost, arranged the flowers and made cranberry sauce.

It’s a very forgiving recipe. I boil cranberries in orange juice, add raisins and diced apple. Sometimes I sprinkle sugar during the cooking process to counter the bitterness.

Today I’ll make the pies, stuffing and roast vegetables.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

. . . just saying

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Poetry; How I’m Doing?

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Some Explaining to Do

Zipping along, writing without a clue . . . The words flew

A minor dental procedure was the first undo

Follow by pain in my hip, x-rays and a walker too

Then vertigo . . .boo-hoo . . . once the crystal where out

There was something else to do

Physical therapy not to walk like a drunk

Add to the stew . . . cataract surgery.

And . . . there’s still more explaining to do?

But I’m not feeling blue and please don’t you.

. . . just saying

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