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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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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A New Favorite

Afternoon Coffee

I’m a coffee lover. There is nothing more enjoyable than a great cup of coffee. At thirteen years of age I fell in love with the aroma, taste and boost, and was allowed to have a cup of coffee in the afternoon. It was instant coffee, brewed by boiling water on the stove in a tea kettle and poured over exactly measured one teaspoon of dark crystals.

Over the years I graduated to a Corning Ware and then Farberware electric pots. Today of course a Keuric is the way to go.

But it got even better when my daughter introduced me to a frother and I found ecstasy., cost; $15.

Steps to making a great cup of coffee

Heat the amount of half and half you like in a large mug in the microwave for 15 seconds.

Use an electric milk frother to froth.

Brew your coffee into the cup.

Add a sugar to taste, or something sweet, like a lemon cookie and I’m happy.

* * * just saying

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A is for Attitude

A is for Attitude

Tony Bennett

A recent interview on CBS Morning News with Susan and Tony Bennett revealed his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and the challenges of aging. The discussion highlighted how helpful the disclosure was for the general public. His wife said, “Tony Bennett is battling Alzheimer’s disease, but singing is saving him.”

Well, singing is an option. Remember the songs Get Happy sung by Judy Garland or Happy; written, produced and performed by Pharrell Williams? Both are uplifting and yes after humming a few bars people feel happier. 

The correlation between attitude and quality of life has never been clearer. Books, lectures, magazine and newspaper articles go on and on describing the benefits. We frequently celebrate one- hundred-year-olds who may need help blowing out the candles but nevertheless are recognized for their positive attitude, activity and ability to socialize. Captain Tom Moore published his book, Tomorrow  Will Be A Good Day at age one hundred.   

Having the right attitude matters.

There are more indicators that quality of life can be maintained as we age and questions about the inevitability of dementia in seniors.

Attitude can be a challenge and I used to coil at the phrase happiness is a choice.

But now think; happiness may be a choice. . . some days, although maybe not every day . . . even if the sun is shining.

Well, just hum a few bars of your favorite song.

. . . just saying

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Lucky Day

Black Onyx Earrings

Lucky Day

Yesterday was a lucky day for me. The feeling stayed with me all day and woke me up this morning. Lucky because I found a pair of earrings, I thought were lost. I frequently misplace but rarely lose items. Unless you consider putting something in a very safe place never to be seen again.

These earrings, favorites of mine, were searched for time and again. I hadn’t put them in a secret spot, but I looked in jewelry cases, double checked coat pockets, handbags, toiletry bags. I crawled under couches, shook out bed sheets, used a flashlight around car seats. Eventually, I threw my hands up and said, “When they’re ready to be found, they’ll be found.”  

A few years went by. I still couldn’t believe they were lost and phoned my sister asking, “Did you happen to find a pair of black onyx earrings?”

Purchased at an antique store on Beach Street in Daytona, they had history. Some might reference the jewelry as previously owned. The store identified them as estate jewelry.

Yesterday, while sorting through a basket kept in the bathroom for hairdryers, curling irons, and brushes they appeared, so tarnished I had to put my glasses on to identify them.

They were ready to be found.  

It was a lucky day.

. . . just saying

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New Year’s Eve 2020

A Favorite book of mine

Sing a Song of Seasons, the book was displayed in the children’s section of our county library and I fell in love with the pictures and poems and promised myself to read each daily poem. Of course, I didn’t. The year has passed quickly for me and I find myself with the same goal for 2021.

Poem December 30th

I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December

A magical thing

And sweet to remember

We are nearer to spring

Then we were in September

I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December

by Oliver Herford

Poems; a daily joy to ponder what life is really about.

May you duck in time to avoid life’s mishap or reinventing yourself if you fail.

. . . . just saying

Happy New Year

You Got To Smize

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You Got To Smize

Yesterday, I read Susan Sparks article, “Put on your mask . . . and smize,” in our local newspaper, The Daytona Beach News Journal.

I want to pass along her message.

Rev. Susan Sparks is senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City. Prior to working for God, she was a trial lawyer and a stand-up comedian. To clarify; first she argued for a living, then cracked jokes, before saying amen . . . Let’s talk about the lord.

I’m not Baptist, but enjoy her articles and perspective.

She wrote about a recent venture in the city. While, everyone wore masks that covered their mouths, she caught someone in a smile, by looking at their eyes.

Evidently, Trya Banks, coined the word to advise other models about how to really smile.

The gist of the article is; although a smile is a reaction to feeling happy, a smile can create a happy feeling. In other words, a smile can change a mood.

There is little to smile about in recent news. Especially the tragic public killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.

There’s concern that the coronavirus will have long lasting effects on how people interact. Talk of the potential harm isolation does.

I’m not suggesting we smile about these heartbreaking appalling events.  But that we continue to smile, with our eyes first.

 

. . . just saying

Readers, you can open up the links to Susan Sparks and Trya Banks by scrolling over the colored text.

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Happy As A Clam

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Happy as a Clam

It is 7:52 AM; I am in the kitchen having a first cup of coffee when a ding-dong alerts me a door has been opened.

In walks Mr. Wonderful, my husband of 47 years carrying an empty McDonald’s brown bag, showered, shaved, and dressed returning from lab work. I say, “Good Morning Husband” and stretch to kiss his cheek as he whizzes by dumping his cell phone and car keys on the counter exclaiming a need “to PEE.”

As the toilet flushes, he returns calmer to greet me, I ask, “How are you today?”

His reply, “Happy as a clam.”

I ponder how happy a clam might be and why . . . . then ask, “Happy as a clam because you remembered where you parked the car?”

“No,” he states emphatically and drains a dribble of coffee from an empty paper cup before tossing the used paper product in a recycling bin under the sink.

My curiosity is mounting, “Happy as a clam because you didn’t leave the engine running while you were inside Lab-Core?”

“No . . . . Happy as a clam because I didn’t have to wait.”

“Really, you had the first appointment, 6:30AM.”

“Right, but when I arrived at 6:20 the doors weren’t open, so I decided to hunt for that loose golf ball that rumbles around the car and drives you crazy.”

“You said you didn’t know what caused the sound, the car might need brakes.”

Ignoring my comment and concern, he exhales heavily, “My head was under the front seat searching, before I knew it, a van pulls up, and this aid is helping some grey hair pony tailed old goat into a wheel chair. Other people are getting out of parked cars and headed toward the door, you know tinted windows make it near impossible to see who is waiting in their cars, a line was about to form. ”

“What difference would it make if you had an appointment?”

“Claudia, be serious, if the old goat in the wheel chair is first in line they are going to take him! So I fast walked, got ahead of everyone, and when the doors opened said, Good Morning, I have the first appointment at 6:30. The nurse asked if I was fasting, I said yes, but first I had to PEE! That’s why I’m happy as a clam; I was out of there and having breakfast at McDonald’s, lickidy split”

My Mr. Wonderful is wearing a look of glee as I recap the situation, “So you are feeling happy as a clam because at the crack of dawn, you beat out an older than you senior in a wheel chair to have blood work.”

His good mood is alluringly infectious, but I question, “Can a clam be happy, really?”

Mr. Wonderful’s response . . . . “Sure at high tide, with their shell closed they’re smiling,” and proceeds to demonstrate his own delight with a tight lipped grin.

.  .  .  . just saying

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