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

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Happiness Series, “From Crappy to Happy”

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From Crappy to Happy

 

      It is a possibility the road from crappy to happy is much shorter than I think. I took the Customized Habit Survey at Goodthink to find out what happiness habit was best for me. After answering questions I was emailed my score along with a score range for recommended activities that will increase happiness when made a habit.

• Score 1-15    You are drained, and smiling three times a day for 21 days you will make you happier.

• Score 16-24 Defines a person as energized, and writing or saying aloud 3 new things you are grateful for, trains your brain to be more positive.

• Score 25-34 you are charged and will realize your power by complimenting three people a day.

• Score 35-50 Supercharged, challenges you to recharge others by doing an act of kindness daily.

      Apparently, I am happier than I thought. My score, 39 points, indicates I am happy, but do not know it. Therefore, I started singing “If You Are Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands” and putting a strip of toothpaste across *Mr. Wonderful’s toothbrush (so he does not have to do it in the morning) in the middle of the night .

      Although I am not opposed to doing random acts of kindness to be happy, it is harder than you think to do a “Good Deed Daily,” when you have not left the house. And the toothpaste thing left Mr. Wonderful thinking he has early Alzheimers.

      In retrospect, feeling not as happy as I am, I thought my score would be lower and the cure would be writing about happiness.

     Which poses another quandary, what makes me happy?

     I thought long and hard over the past week and found my choices, (other than family and friends) of wine and ice cream, shallow. Although wine and ice cream are pleasurable, would gaining ten pounds bring real happiness? On the other hand, what difference does it make what makes you happen as long as it produces an increase in dopamine?

        Oy vey, happiness is getting complicated.

     So back to the original premise, reliving a happy experience will increase happiness. Would writing about eating ice cream, bring the same happiness as eating a double scoop cone?

        It is worth a try and calorie free.

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I Want a Cone

What is so special about ice cream? Is it the tantalizing fancy names like Rocky Road, Chunky Monkey, or Vanilla Fudge Twirl that conjure up images and make you want to swirl? Ice cream so delicious it makes our tongues dance and our hearts sing.

      Maybe, it is an association with happy times, birthdays, graduations and that kind of thing. Memories of a Good Humor truck driving through your neighborhood, and running home to beg for fifteen cents. Then as the jingling bell sound grew distant, hoping the truck would drive back again.

     Deciding, how to spend your fifteen or twenty-five cents, was a big decision. Would it be a vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate on a stick, or a sugar cone filled with ice cream, coated in chocolate with roasted peanuts decorating the lip?

     Ice cream makes me happy.

. . . . just saying

 *Mr Wonderful is my husband of 45 years.

Potty Singing and Happiness

One of the most powerful forces in human nature is our belief
that change is possible. ~ Shawn Achor

thThe Happiness Series

     I am limping into 2016 determined to make the year less crappy. We retired in 2007 and every year after has had a good deal of crappiness. This year I said, “Enough is enough!” and have declared this year, one of happiness.

     I started by watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday television program, hoping to be inspired and I was. The show is a mixture of interviews with and lectures by Spiritual Gurus designed to improve your life. It airs Sundays, on OWN.

     I was most taken by Shawn Achor who along with Elizabeth Gilbert author of “Eat Pray Love” has admitted to crying on the bathroom floor. Shawn has studied the Science of Happiness since his days at Harvard and talks about Positive Psychology and redefining Happiness. I was unaware that Happiness is a science, but what he said makes sense.

     The traditional formula, Hard Work = Success = Happiness, does not work because happiness is on the backside of success. We are always chasing the carrot because it is moved continually . Since 90% of happiness is derived from how the brain processes the world, we can train our brain to be happy just as we train our body to be strong, with exercise. The train your brain exercises he recommends are; a gratitude list, journal about what makes you happy, exercise, meditation, and random acts of kindness.

     You can watch his lecture on Super Soul Sunday or visit his website for particulars.

     While we have heard some of this before, Shawn supports the “Happiness Advantage” theory with findings. He found that people engaging in any of the activities for 21 consecutive days, were happier. In other words, happiness is a habit and good habits, like smiling, make a difference.

     Since writing make me happy, and writing about what makes you happy is on the list, I am introducing the Happiness Series, with “Striped Sweater.”

 

Striped Sweater

      Snow falls throughout the night into the early morning. Soft sugar like flakes that tickle your face then flutter gently to the ground, remind me of creating angels in the snow. We are snowbound. The roads are driveable but it is safer not to. The accumulation is six to seven inches and the air crisp.

     Our eleven-year-old granddaughter is playing computer games with Aunt Janine and doing handstands on the living room floor. The Christmas tree is still standing with scattered presents beneath the artificial branches.

     Alexandria Antonia resembles my side of the family: fair skin, freckles, hazel blue eyes, and her dad’s auburn brown hair. She will more than likely be tall.

     Alex, as she prefers to be called, sings throughout the day, off tune. Her voice is wonderful to hear. She sings, “Striped Sweater, a sweater with a stripe” a song she wrote. There are no other words just this simple refrain. Papa wears an old green sweater that inspired the catchy tune. She denies liking to sing and in between handstands excuses herself to use the potty.

      We then listen to her joyful rendition of Jingle Bells from behind a closed door.

      This is happiness.

. . . . just saying

 

Hobnobbing and Sailing

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Some would say I am MIA, not having published a blog post since January. I apologize. We did move and I could use unpacking and decorating the new hut as an excuse. But the truth is, I am struggling creatively. In the past an obscure word or thought would dance in my head until I put pencil to paper. Recently I have only pondered what to eat for lunch and how to get a better night’s sleep.

This morning however, the word hobnob and music from Gilligan’s Island interrupt my thoughts. While Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning asks questions about Google and mobile websites, I hum  “What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?” When Gayle King comments about a lost wedding band returned to a Boston marathoner I blank out, and say hobnob aloud.

You see, I have been hobnobbing. To be more specific, I just returned from a Road Scholar trip called, “Day Sailing for Beginners.” And yes, I feel like I am swaying on land and extremely dizzy when bending over.

Road Scholar educational adventures are conducted by Elderhostel, a not for profit world leader in lifelong learning. The trip description read, “Have you always wanted to experience the freedom and pleasure of sailing? Then this small-group program is for you.” The adventure included five days of sailing in Boca Ciega Bay (St. Petersbury, Florida), three meals a day and lodging for $935. A bargain! I stopped reading and mailed my check. Realizing “learning” to sail, not sailing, was the trip focus, while reviewing the trip itinerary and recommended reading list. I was still game. What the heck, I earned a knot-tying badge as a Brownie and know how to swim.

The small group of nineteen consisted of twelve women and seven men. The refrain “Ear-ly in the morning,” from the song, intrudes my thoughts as I now write, and recall the trip orientation and dinner on Sunday evening.

There were three couples, of which one were in their eighties and married sixty-five years. Seven of the participants were from Florida, four from New York and the rest scattered between Alabama, Indiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont.

Not everyone was retired. Their backgrounds were eclectic, varying from kindergarten teacher, geophysicist, law professor, computer programmer, and commercial farmer. Many had traveled extensively and lived in other countries. Several enjoy ballroom dancing. Two disclosed they had built sailboats in their youth then reluctantly admitted the boats sank.

We all lacked sailing experience when we entered the lecture room at Eckerd College,  to met, the lead instructor. He earned his facial wrinkles not by smiling but from numerous sailing certifications and dedication to the sea. Attractive, although, his nose was clearly designed to hold glasses on his face, his full head of white hair streaked with yellow suggested he was older than he looked. He had skinny knees and I speculated his mustache had been penciled on after shaving. He shut the lecture room door quickly, and a no-nonsense approach sprinkled with infinite patience was quietly revealed. He stood alongside a podium, a smart-board marker in his hand and said, “I am Richard, your Captain.”

Learning to sail was a wonderful experience. The learning curve was high however, and on Wednesday, I vowed to either do more new learning or abandon all learning that is new completely when my brain twisted Jibe and Gybing. That night a fellow crewmember stayed up late replacing the words in “What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor,” with nautical terminology.

A Brit, she shared her, “Sea Shanty in Honor of the Inestimable Captain Richard,” in the morning, and instructed the group to repeat each line three times then follow with the refrain “Ear-ly in the morning.”

Reef him to the boon vang, til he’s bowlined
Moor him to the jib sheet til he’s cleated
Winch him in the pulpit til he’s port tacked

There are numerous other stanzas calling for wrapping, lashing, tying, and dragging Captain Richard about. The group loved her rendition and ignored the implication of  bondage.

I am still dizzy when bending over and debating if it is a side effect of new learning or a brain tumor. I have doctor’s apppointment next week.

. . . . just saying

Moving Soon

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   We will be moving soon, back to Halifax Plantation; the community we first retired to in 2007. We have been living in Shangri-La, aka a villa apartment, where we have access to several pools and the beach is a three-minute walk. I can meander up to the lobby for afternoon coffee and bring back a free copy of USA Today. The flowers are switched out after several months and housekeeping sweeps outside our door. We are definitely spoiled.

   I am conflicted about moving. I like living in a smaller place and having zero outside chores. On the plus side we will have neighbors and space for entertaining.

   However, Mr. Wonderful* is thrilled. He will have a garage, be able to wash the car and kibitz with his golf buddies.

   As I reread what I am writing, I realize what a charmed life we have. Yes, our first years in retirement were consumed by Bob’s symptoms of pancreatic cancer, but he survived, very few do. He has no pancreas. I have been diabetic for thirty years and use an insulin pump, now we are both insulin dependent diabetics. It makes for some humorous situations.

   Life is good. He has all of his hair and teeth, and I have most of my hair and all of my teeth. We both can get out of a chair unassisted.

. . . just saying

*Mr. Wonderful is my husband of forty-three years