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

 

 

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?

 

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

Stop Complaining

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Stop Complaining 

Stop Complaining 

My New Year’s Resolution is to start writing and stop complaining, in other words, stop complaining about not writing and start. That was sixty-five days ago, I have not done either, which leaves me on the brink of becoming a statistic, joining the  92% of people making resolutions who fail to keep them, or since we are in the first week of March, part of the 80% who give up. Sounds grim.

But let’s think this through, if there are 365 days in a year and we are sixty-five days into the year that leaves 300 days to turn things around, so too early to give up.  Right?

On the up side, although I have done no writing, zero, zip, zilch, twenty-one days have passed and I am not complaining about it, well at least not aloud.

Twenty-one days is considered a benchmark in establishing a habit, good or bad.

Sounds like progress, but maybe not really, the complaints stay in my head, and find visual outlets, strong ones.

For example, when my husband (aka Mr. Wonderful) reminded me for the third time to return a friend’s phone call; rather than my ranting he had already reminded me several times, and that I had NOT forgotten but plan to do it later; I smiled and said, “Thanks for the reminder,” then envisioned stuffing ten indoor snowballs in his mouth.

Not the best outcome, but I am not complaining, well not aloud.

Will Bowen author of “A Complaint Free World” deviates from traditional views about complaining and touts this popular American pastime as being helpful. I agree but have failed to convince Mr. Wonderful complaining has value.

Bowen says the first step to a complaint free world is to define complaining. The dictionary definition is “to express grief, pain and discontent,” his; a complaint is “an energetic statement focusing on a problem rather than the solution,” and if we stick to the facts, and remain neutral eliminating negative attitudes, we will engage in healthy communication.

So on Sunday when Mr. Wonderful questions, before noon, for the fifth time, if Ellen is coming on Saturday, I correct him without the “tude” and say, “remember we discussed going to the Funky Pelican for Happy Hour on Friday and the Bass Sports Store on Saturday, there is a free lecture on Fly Fishing. She is coming on Friday afternoon,”  feeling I am making progress and understand he has been distracted by the Daytona 500, and Phil Mickleson’s one point off the lead golf performance.

In his lectures, Bowen delivers a strong case that once engaged in discussion that focuses on the solution rather than the problem we will discover how we want the world to really be.

I like his point and realize we do not have to keep quiet about Donald Trump’s tweets nor resort to a strong visual, as Kathy Griffin did, what was she thinking.

The next morning Mr. Wonderful asks again if Ellen is coming on Saturday, I focus on the solution, not the problem and suggest we write her arrival on his calendar.

.  .  .  .  just saying

 

Silence in Lackawaxen

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Photographer: ДмитрийВладимирович

Silence in Lackawaxen

     A silence resides among us; the sound permeates the wooded areas, and hovers in the breeze.

     It is different from quiet.

     You hear its stillness when the wrestling trees pause; a falling acorn fills the void, and  you turn in the direction to catch the eye of a doe, her large chocolate brown eyes searching for her fawn, absorbing the emptiness a bent hoof suspended midair.

     We are vacationing in Masthope Mountain Community, near Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania. There are many homes, a few cars in driveways and silence.

     In these woods the doe, fawn and buck, run playfully through the woods, and wait by the roadside respectful of passing cars.

     Although we lived in New Jersey over twenty-five years I am unfamiliar with, “this neck of the woods,” but discovered Lackawaxen is home to the Zane Grey Museum. He and his wife, Dolly lived here from 1905 to 1918,. The area was one of his favorites.

     The silence, interrupted by chirping birds,and chipmunks jumping in dried leaves, creates a cloak upon our shoulders and has become a new best friend.

 

. . . .just saying

 

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

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

Hack Saw Happiness

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 The Happiness Series

I am standing in the kitchen and Mr. Wonderful, my husband Bob, walks behind me headed for the garage.
“Can you get me the hack saw?” I ask.

“The hack saw?”

“Yes, that small saw with the black handle. Isn’t that what it’s called?”

“Why do you want a hack saw?”

I roll my eyes to heaven.

I have used the electric knife before and know the cord and blade are in the back of the silverware draw. However, it will be quicker if he brings the saw back with him when he is done doing whatever it was he was going to do in the garage.

Now he stands behind me breathing over my shoulder as I explain.

“If you saw this plastic container in half, I’ll be able to get the rest of the lotion out.”
The plastic bottle has been sitting upside down the past three days, and I have been sticking my pinky finger in the opening then applying lotion to my arms and legs.

Speechless at first, Mr. Wonderful says, “Lotion is on sale at Publix, I’ll go buy some.

“It’s not about the money.” It’s more like . . . . children in China have very dry skin, so eat your green beans. And this lotion has sun screen in it!”

“Okay, so you’re making a statement, you don’t want to be wasteful?”

“Sort of. Is recycling a good choice if a million gallons of water are used to clean the container.”

He interrupts, “Johnson’s Baby Magic  is a Bogo (buy one get one free) this week.”

“I feel better using the spatula to remove the dribs and drabs. See it practically fills this jar. It makes me happy.” I look at him and smile.

He smiles back. “Great. So you are on to a new kind of cause.”

“If I wanted a new  cause or to protest something, I’d refuse to show my license to have a mammogram?”

“Why do you need a license to have a mammogram?”

“Well, any picture identification. Some type of mammogram fraud. However, I cannot recognize my breasts now that they almost reach the floor. I do not argue.”

“Claudia, how many people would use a hack saw to get the last drop of lotion out of a bottle?”

I roll my eyes and say to Mr. Wonderful, “A bread knife really doesn’t work.”

. . . . just saying

Trump’s Sweetheart Deal

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I tuned into the ninth Presidential debate late, listened until John Dickerson questioned Trump about his use of profanity, and when Jeb Bush whined, then professed love for his mother, turned the television off. It was not a debate, as in whole wheat flour vs unbleached flour is a healthy choice, but a headache.

As a grammar school teacher I had separated first grade students fighting over bad things said about their mothers. Back in those days each one was sent to stand in a corner. There was no reasoning they never met the women.

Trump defended his use of profanity  as “a way of emphasis.” The man does not smoke or drink, and with his classic no apology look implied; cursing, although okay, not presidential. If only he would do something about his hair I could forget about the fake tan.

John Dickerson labeled the shenanigans as “a race to the bottom.” Thankfully, Trump did not retort with, “Your mama wears combat boots.” He probably has not met Dickerson’s mom.

Sunday morning, according to Nielsen,  the debate was the highest rated with 15 million viewers. Analysis claim;

“Marco Rubio is the clear favorite among Republicans, while independents are largely divided between Trump, Kasich, and Rubio.

But get this;

“Donald Trump is the clear leader on values. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans and independents who watched the debate pick Trump as the candidate who most shares their values, with Ben Carson and Marco Rubio tied for second place, each with 16 percent. Rubio does better than Kasich among Republicans, while Kasich does better than Rubio among independents.”

Today I have been remembering the candidates standing in front of a pink and red CBS back drop, many wearing red ties. My headache became a migraine.

Trump says he is a businessman, not a politician. His goal is to win. When asked how to achieve winning, he say by consensus. He does use the pronoun we.

Obviously, Trump is making sweetheart deals and I am not entertained.

. . . . just saying