Welcome to the ’70s

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Welcome to the seventies, not as in 1970, as in this year I will be seventy, and please do not attempt to console me by saying the seventies are the new fifties or sixties, because I have to de-stiff-i-tize when I stand and cannot move my thumbs.

De-stiff-i-tize? You know what I am talking about. It occurs upon rising from a sitting position and can barely stand, you moan and somehow crunch your back and neck into a marginalized upright position. Dining in public restaurants I have observed others replace the moan with an inconsequential laugh, grab the back of a chair then straightening.

Seriously, I cannot move my thumb, and now question what the seventies will be like, every day there is a different challenge, last week it was a hip, this week hands. Therefore, I took to vigorous hand exercises, which resulted in trigger thumb.

Surely, you do not want to hear the full medical prognosis, or perhaps you do, however I swore health would not be the topic of every conversation and yet it is.

Thinking I can nip this in the bud by glimpsing into successful seventy-year-old lives I have started watching “Grace and Frankie,” a Netflix comedy and it is a hoot! Perhaps laughter is the best medicine.

Grace, played by Jane Fonda and Frankie, played by Lilly Tomlin live together after their husbands, gay lovers secretly for the past twenty years, announce they want divorces.

Jane Fonda an eighty year old in real life, pays the part of a younger woman, Grace who is in her seventies and yes, we all wish we look as good as Jane Fonda does at any age and of course the place they are forced to live in is a beautiful beach front house. Actor Martin Sheen plays Robert,  Grace’s ex and Sam Waterson, Saul, Frankie’s.

The plot is fast pace, the cast constantly moves, and there is no on camara de-stiff-i-tizing, although Martin Sheen’s movement getting out of bed, reminds me of how the president got into his suit jacket in West Wing and wondering if his elbows ever could bend.

After falling neither Grace or Frankie can get up and crawl to a phone resulting in their children purchasing First Alert devices for them and Jane Fonda, Grace, smashing hers with her high heel.

My kind of woman, she plans on getting older but never old.

.  .  .  . just saying

 

 

Next Door Neighbors

american-gothic-grant-wood-art-institute-of-chicago-244I keep thinking today is Thursday and it is only 6:30 in the morning. I started thinking today was Thursday in the middle of the night, do not know why because yesterday definitely felt like Tuesday which it was, consequently I should have a feeling today is Wednesday but do not. However, what difference does it make if today is Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday? I am retired!

Nevertheless, I am happy today is Wednesday, not Thursday, because that gives me an extra day between Wednesday and Friday which I need since I opened my big mouth and invited the neighbors over because, although everyone appears to be happy standing in driveways with the sun beating down on our heads pretending not to sweat while we chat, I envision something else.

Well actually, what happened is Mr. Wonderful* came back from getting the mail and announced that the Smith’s house was for sale. Surprised, I asked where were they moving to, his response  “No one is moving “Mary died, that’s why all the cars were parked there last week.”

Stunned I expressed how terrible it is we did not know, and asked about her husband and if he will move closer to family, Mr. Wonderful said, “No her husband died six months ago.”

When we moved here, I joined Nextdoor ,  a private social network that will help find your dog or a plumber so I would be in the know but could not remember my password and instead started knocking on doors.

So we are getting together in two days.

There really is not much to do, neighbors said they would bring what they like to drink and a dish to pass but I need to dust and make sure the toilet is flushing properly which it started not doing the day before yesterday. I need to find that password.

In the mean time bits and pieces from a Chinese passage about neighbors and community are creeping into my head, and search online to find this;

Let there be a small country with a few people

Though neighboring communities overlook one another and the crowing of cocks and barking dogs can be heard

Yet the people there may grow old and die without ever visiting one another

Oh, now I remember what difference it makes if today is Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday; Wednesday morning the trash gets picked up.

                               .  .  .  .  Just saying

Painting by Grant Wood

*Mr. Wonderful is my husband of 47 years

 

 

 

 

Grant Wood Pitch Fork

Just Another Day

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The Fairchild Oak

Just Another Day

Today is just another day but not really. It is a day not to be anywhere, do anything, or explain why I changed my mind about doing nothing and did something. I was awake at 2am listening to the rain, thunder, and cracks of lightning like special effects from an Alfred Hitchcock film flash outside the bedroom window until 4am, when I got out of bed.

I was not going back to sleep.

Sprinkling cinnamon and sugar on a toasted piece of wheat bread smothered with real butter, I watch the mixture ooze into its crevices’, and ponder whether to brew a cup of coffee to dip its crust in, or walk to the Fairchild Oak, less than a mile from here, but consider how muddy the venture would be, and instead make beef barley soup from left over steak, adding frozen green peas, the petite ones.  

Today is just another day but not really. After watching an interview on CBS Morning News about Tom Hanks collection of short stories, “Uncommon Type” (the title reflects his fondness for and use of old typewriters) I am reading the book and now in love with him.

He laughs at himself, and likes writing because he knows what the prize is inside the box, or so he says.th

The book jacket describes Hank’s first work of fiction as one “that dissects, with great affection, humor, and insight, the human condition and all its foibles.”

I hear Tom’s voice as I pretend he is reading to me and sip beef broth standing up.

Today is just another day but not really, it is the first day of the rest of my life.

.  .  .  .  just saying

Can You Squat?

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 Can You Squat?

Rose joined her friend already seated outside at the Hudson Garden Grill. The restaurant known for its ambiance and gourmet menu was contained within the Bronx Botanical Gardens where they planned to attend the Orchid Show after lunch. Hugh clay pots dripping with colorful annuals decorated the patio and cardinals danced with the breeze.

“You’re late,” quipped Joan handing her a menu, “I ordered us drinks.”

Rose sighed and said, “How did you know what I wanted? I’m dieting.”

“You always order a Bloody Mary with lunch. Joan argued, “If you prefer, I’ll drink yours. Really Rose, this is when you thank me, apologize for being late, and explain why . . . . . like, maybe your cat threw up.”

Rose leaned forward and lowered her voice, “Can you Squat?”

Stunned Joan shook her head then blurted out, “Can I squat? Have you lost your mind? I can’t put on my underwear standing up,” as the server appeared with their drinks and interrupted the conversation saying, “Hi, I’m Chantal and I will be your server.” Dressed in a v-neck black tee and a tan khaki skirt she wore a smile from ear to ear, a pen was tucked inside her hair bun.

Rose was hungry. She had not eaten before the incident than did not have time after, but nevertheless asked the server to give them a few minutes.

Chantal said, “It’s a beautiful day, take your time.”

They discussed the menu choices and after deciding Rose would have Chicken Paillaid, Joan the Lobster Bolognese, raised their glasses to toast the occasion. Joan’s first grandchild had been born on her seventieth birthday and she had been busy attending CPR classes for infants and signed up for the course on installing child car seats.

When Joan paused, Rose attempted once again to get a response to her question, “Can you squat?”

“Squat? You mean squat as in the late 1970’s so men couldn’t see up our miniskirt or squat as in squatter’s rights from the 1800’s?”

Rose rubbed the back of her head reminded of the morning’s incident, “Squat as in your butt is nearer to the floor than your knees. It’s concerning, things are going downhill fast, soon we won’t be able to fix our own meals.”

“That’s why there is take out Rose, and surely you have heard of Meals on Wheels. I can open a jar of olives now that I have that rubber thing,” Joan offered with pride.

Again, Rose leaned forward and whispered, “This is serious, can you squat? I can no longer squat. Well that’s not totally true, I can squat just not get up from the squat.” Her voice faded as the server arrived with their entrees.

Joan suctioned her glass with a straw and motioned the server they would have two more drinks.

Nursing the celery topped Bloody Mary’s Rose explained, “I have this vertigo thing going on, and bending over causes dizziness. Today I said to myself, ‘self don’t bend over, squat’ and did. But I couldn’t get up and when my thighs were screaming with pain let go of the counter and fell hitting the back of my head on the floor.”

Joan asked, “Where was Tom, did he call 911?”

“Tom was playing golf. I crawled into the dining room and leaned on a chair to get upright. It was exhausting and reason I was late.”

A patron on their way to the restroom stopped to comment, “The same thing happened to my husband, on the golf course. He forgot he wasn’t twenty-four and squatted to line up his putt, it wasn’t pretty.”

Joan attempted to offer condolences, saying, “You poor thing. You must have a bump.” But giggled instead, putting her hand over her mouth and apologized for laughing. Rose not knowing whether to laugh or cry joined her. Soon their laughter was drawing attention.

Chantal rolled her eyes delivering the check.

After paying, they toured the orchid show, took the train ride to see the azaleas, and visited the gift shop.

On the ride home, Rose wished she were young again.

.  .  .  .   just saying

Poem

                                               To Be Young Once More

Wiggles and giggles galore

Remember we’d drop to the floor

Get up and dance, afraid of wetting our pants and giggle some more

Our faces would ache as spirits soared

Oh to be young once more

 

Now it’s difficult to stand and everything is sore

Not just back, knees, and feet, but ear lobes, eyebrows and seat.

We can no longer squat to pickup something dropped

But bend deep at the waist .  .  .   .  disgraced by a moan

Not  the “When Harry Met Sally” type even though our eyes are shut tight

We linger then limp to a chair wondering, when did we get this old?

 

Easter Hats and Egg Hunts

scan0019Pictured above, Aunt Carol with leucite handbag, sister Judy, Mother (Pregnant with sister Abigail),  sister Mariellen Claudia,  Grandmother, and standing at attention sister Martha Gertrude

 

Easter Hats and Egg Hunts

As Easter approaches I find myself reminiscing about days gone by, holidays I tried to duplicate for my kids and grand-kids that only slightly mirrored mine.

In Florida, the smell of spring and Easter that signaled renewal by a burst of color on Long Island is missing, but memories of blooming Dogwood trees linger. The Weeping Willows wore yellow-green buds to announce the occasion.

We woke to Easter Baskets filled with love made by our grandmother. Hollow chocolate eggs squiggled  with confectionet sugar peeked out of cellophane surrounded by squishy marshmallow chicks called Peeps and jump ropes, jacks, pink Spaulding balls, and socks trimmed with lace, for the girls and for the boys; army men, matchbox cars, baseball cards, and cool shades.

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Great Granny B and 4 month old great-grand son, Tony

My grandmother also baked trays of cookies, some made to look like an Easter baskets, by adding a  handle, shredded coconut, and jelly beans. She used cookie cutters for Bunnies with chocolate ears, and cherry jelly linzer cookies, egg white cookies laced with walnuts and her famous chocolate chips cookies. 

We usually had new dresses and shiny black patent leather shoes, bought by Aunt Carol at Macy’s Herald Square. The shoes fit perfectly because Aunt Carol would trace our feet on card board, cut the pattern out and bring it with her to the store where she and a shoe salesman determined the correct size. 

Aunt Carol always carried a pretty handbag and a tasteful hat, similar to  these: 

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After opening our baskets my mother dressed us in order of our behavior, and told to, “Sit on the couch, and don’t move, or else!” And we didn’t.

Drew, the youngest at the time, was dressed, after my mother dressed, and held by the hand until he was in the car and Mass over.

The Easter Bunny  hid real hard-boiled eggs dyed the day before and shortly after  company arrived on Easter Sunday, a whistle was blown, and we ran, desperate to  find THE GOLDEN EGG, a chocolate egg wrapped in gold foil. Little did we know my brother Victor searched ahead  of us, yes cheated, while I prayed to find the Golden Egg . . . . just this once. The prize was one dollar.

Although Easter is about baskets and dyed eggs, it is really about hats. as seen in the above picture and  I remember shopping at Montgomery Ward’s, the day before Easter in a panic then  thrilled, to find the hat I am wearing, an exact match to my homemade celery green coat.  My sister, Judy, was ecstatic with hers, the red band makes the outfit pop, and sister Mariellen’s  perfect in classic white.

Don’t we look marvelous?

This year we have been invited to our neighbors and  I will bake and decorate a bunny cake, now if I only had that hat.

.   .   .   .  just saying

 

Blowing In The Wind

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Blowing In The Wind

Blowing In the Wind

Today, the first day of Spring, labeled a “Four-Easter” by weather channels in the Northeast, is a fine day here in Florida.

The air is crisp and a strong sun relaxes my shoulders as a gentle breeze rustles among the trees, a perfect day for drying sheets . . . . outside.

I remember fondly the  sound of sheets snapping in the wind outside a kitchen window in New Jersey and that fresh air scent once our heads lay to rest in bed that evening as Nirvana. However, although Florida is the Sunshine State, clothes lines are prohibited in many communities, ours included, evidently clean clothing swaying in the breeze is offensive or someone might shoot a pair of socks to the ground, I am not sure which,  it may be both.

Consequently, I have a folding laundry rack purchased at IKEA and although the sheets do not blow in the wind exactly .  .  .  .  they will acquire a nostalgic fragrance and help me avoid thoughts of:  Mark Zuckerberg,  Facebook, the twenty-two hundred-page$1.3T federal spending measure, or whether Trump should or should not have congratulated President Putin. 

I ask Alexa to play “Blowing in the Wind” the Peter, Paul and Mary version, and load my smart washing machine, wishing it was not that smart and let me decide how much water was needed, then hum along.

How many roads must a man walk down, before they call him a man
How many seas must a white dove sail, before she sleeps in the sand
How many times must the cannonballs fly, before they are forever banned
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

Returning to the bedroom, I see a pillowcase inadvertently dropped on the floor, pick it up and rush back to the laundry room hoping to cancel the start cycle before it “locks” and water flows into the washtub. Otherwise it will become un-lockable, a safety feature designed to protect humans unable to determine the hazard of putting one’s hand into a spinning washtub. Stupid is not included in the on-line owner’s manual simply implied.

I make it in time and consequently will have matching pillowcases to remake the bed then continue humming with Peter, Paul and Mary.

How many years can a mountain exist, before it is washed to the sea
how many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free
how many times can a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn’t see
 

However, the refrain, The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind, sticks in my throat.

When it comes time, I fold the sheets careful to match the edges and strategically drape each linen to catch the wind humming:

How many times must a man look up,
before he can see the sky

How many years must one man, have before he can hear people cry
How many deaths will it take till he knows
too many people have died

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

Today, the first day of Spring, labeled a “Four-Easter” by weather channels in the Northeast, is a fine day here in Florida. The air is crisp and a strong sun relaxes my shoulders as a gentle breeze rustles among the trees, a perfect day for drying sheets . . . . I grab a cup of afternoon coffee and sit outside.

 
Read more: Bob Dylan – Blowing In The Wind Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowin%27_in_the_Wind 

 

Father’s Day 2017 “Pedaling Father’s Day”

 

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Aging & Attitude

The pedaling of an old man riding a wide-tire bicycle grabs my attention as I drive Acoma road. The methodical around and around of the bike’s wheels is mesmerizing.  I press the car brakes, slow to a crawl and drop back, to give the senior space, as we approach the corner stop.

He wears red Ked shoes and a large droopy straw hat shades his face from the morning sun.  He sports a long sleeve plaid shirt and hazardous baggy Dockers.  The blue and chrome fender bike has no basket or hand brakes.

Behind him rides a man in a metallic Speedo shirt and black skin-tight shorts.  He wears a helmet and mustache, and he does not pass abruptly. Instead, he moves to coast gently beside the elder, a solid traffic barrier.  They ease the corner together, dance a Minuet synchronized to Chopin.

I stop at the corner, turn right, and follow, absorbing their relationship.

It is paternal; head, back and shoulders are an older/younger version of each other.  The son peddles ahead deliberate not to look back, allows his father to ride independently while protected. The old man’s bike wheel does not wobble and the handlebars do not shake. There is an air of pride accompanying his movement. I drive by and see his wrinkled face, guess he is eighty. A full head of peppered gray hair surround a son’s face with minimal expression lines and suggest he  is sixty.

My mind conjures a past Father’s Day,

Imagine it is 1958, the father wearing the same plaid shirt, Dockers and Ked shoes, the son, jeans and a white t-shirt, both much younger. The father, teaching, leads the way with subtle protectiveness and allows the son to celebrate his newly acquired skill, riding a bike.

“Daddy, look at me!” He yells with a big smile.

Today is Father’s Day 2012. I watch the pair celebrate with a simple act of being there if needed, pedaling their bicycles.

 . . . . just saying

Second Thoughts

 

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Photo Title Curious

Aging & Attitude

Mr. Wonderful* put down the newspaper, returned his glasses to the soft fabric case and sighed.

I asked, “What are you thinking?”

He responded, “Nothing, I’m thinking about nothing” and left the room to pee.

His matter of fact statement got me thinking.

My first thought, Is that possible? My second, would he be considered brain dead? My first and second thoughts were followed by third and fourth thoughts that I would rather not share.

Not that the first thought was better than the second thought, or third, or fourth, but, the first, stimulated more thought.  I could not stop thinking.

When he returned I inquired, “Is it really possible to think about nothing?”

He said, “Anything is possible, ” then turned on the television.

I was impressed. His one and only thought ended in no more thought, However I kept thinking;

  • 1st Thought          Was he always a one-thought thinker or is this a sign of aging?
  • 2nd Thought        If you have only one thought do you assume it is the right thought?
  • 3rd  Thought        Does a first thought carry more weight than following thoughts?
  • 4th  Thought        How does one acquire the confidence to have only one thought?

 

My thoughts turned to President Trump and  wondering whether he is a one-thought thinker. My first thought, he tweets like one. My second, third and fourth thoughts, well I would rather not share.

. . . . just saying

Do You Tweet?

*Mr. Wonderful is my husband of forty-six years, Bob.

 

Mr. Mouse and Beach Street

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Daytona is famous for the beach, racing, and Bike Week ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­. Water in shades of blue turquoise continue to roll across the flat beach front  that initially attracted John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford to race cars here and Bike Week is now world famous however, Daytona is simply a nice small town where I discovered and fell in love with Mr. Mouse.

My sister, Mel and her friend, Ellen, came to escape single digit temperatures in the North and had visited Flagler Beach, New Smyrna, and CiCi and Hyatt Browns Art Museum, so I suggested lunch at the Dancing Avocado on Beach Street in Daytona. Having been there before, I knew there was shaded outdoor seating.


Although reports that Homeless plague the area discouraging shopping, I frequently attend a writers group at The City Island Library and have not experienced problems. Beach Street is quite nice and home of the famous Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory, as well as my favorite Used Book Store, Abraxas.

Parking is easy to find, and free.

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A recent Daytona Beach News Journal article by Mark Lane reminisces about the area in the 1960s and details his family’s arrival in 1962 as engineers for General Electronics Apollo Support Program. Lane talks about the music scene, segregation (“He didn’t share a classroom with black kids until seventh grade”), and Beach Street as the place to shop.

So we headed to Beach Street and the Dancing Avocado.

As we drove, I explained to Mel and Ellen that although we were driving on Beach Street they would not be looking at the Atlantic Ocean. The view was of the Halifax River.

Mel asks, “So where is River Road?”

I responded, “ The east side of the Halifax is called River Road, lots of big expensive houses and part of The Loop.  My guess is Floridians went to the beach along the river because back then, there was no bridge to the Oceanside.”

“Really?” Mel was amazed.

It was a cool fifty-five degrees so we sat inside at the Dancing Avocado and selected Veggie Burgers and Symphony salads made with carrot curls, sprouts and sunflower seeds.

Afterwards, we perused the shops and I confessed my search for a vintage cookie jar. Something to fill in an empty counter top space, as we entered “Sisters Décor & More.”

13321656_1709493119301735_5649400088070015355_nThe store was stacked with floor to ceiling shelving and cluttered with previously owned items. Ellen spotted an Old Mother Hubbard jar and drew my attention saying, “She’s kind of nice.”

I moved closer for a better view, and responded lackadaisically, “She doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t know what I’m looking, I’ll know when I see it,” and turned around.

In the corner, his nose pointing towards me was Mr. Mouse.

There was no discussion, no debate. He was perfect  I loved his extremely large ears, his small beady eyes and spidery whiskers.

At home, Mr. Wonderful was unimpressed with my new purchase, not even the $19 price tag! He thought his ears too big, I thought them just right, although he believed an open stack of saltines would nestle easily in its long snout.

I love Mr. Mouse’s small beady eyes and spidery whiskers, and the way he sits on the counter oozing personality.  Mr. Wonderful . . . not so much and roams the house saying, “Eek, eek! I see a mouse.”

. . . . just saying

Mr. Wonderful, aka, Bob is my husband of 46 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joey’s Apple Pie

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A dear friend phoned the other day and said, “I have a big favor to ask.”

“No problem,” was my response. We have known each other thirty-six years, so short of asking me to change someone’s diaper I was all in.

She continued in a subdued tone, almost a whisper, “It’s a really big favor.”

Obviously, it was more than watering houseplants or feeding the cat. Perhaps it involved driving her to the airport or lending her my car.

“It’s a really, really big favor.” She continued emphasis on both reallys.

“Really really,” I responded. “Tell me what you need.”

“Will you make Joey an apple Pie? You make the best apple pie.”

Joey is her grandson and graduating high school. Although she and Grandpa Bob gifted him a college fund, what he really wants is an Apple Pie.

Now I was saying really, and hard pressed to remember if in fact I did anything special when baking an apple pie but nevertheless, said “Of course I’ll make Joey an apple pie.”

Our conversation ended with me feeling I have special talents, that is how Pat makes people feel, and recalling how we met.

It was 1981 and we were buying our first home. The purchase price was $80,000, interest rates nineteen percent. The sellers, Ruth and Lee Hardin agreed to hold a $57,000 mortgage for five years at thirteen percent. Our monthly house payment would be $630.53.

As a stay at home mom, and substitute teacher I wanted to earn extra money so responded to a New Jersey Herald ad, Avon Representatives Needed in Sussex County and met Pat.

Pat first came to our home as the District Sales Manager but soon became a guest.

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The house was a beautiful Victorian on Linwood Ave in Newton, New Jersey and we were thrilled it was in move in condition. There was pink plastic tile, trimmed with black, in the bathroom, a window in the shower. Four doors consumed the small kitchen; one to the outdoors, one to the basement, a swinging door to the family room, and  a paneled door entering the formal dining room. The windows were original and the drafts off set by huge silver radiators. There was green sculptured carpeting throughout and matching embossed green wallpaper everywhere. We had one couch. My mother-in-law lent us a dining room table.

The day after our phone conversation, Pat dropped off a deep dish-baking pan purchased for Joey’s Apple Pie and Mr. Wonderful set about the task of peeling the Granny Smith apples.

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I tossed the apples with cinnamon and very little sugar, turned them into a bought pie crust, dotted the apples with butter, crimped the edges of the top crust and baked the pie in an oven.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA      I felt special, as though giving a commencement speech, and knew Joey would feel special too.

. . . . Just Saying