Mercury Retrograde

Mercury Retrograde

“The planet Mercury rules communication in all forms—listening, writing, reading, speaking, and so on—as well as activities closely related to communication, like negotiations and contracts. It also rules travel, automobiles, shipping, and mail.” And according to my neighbor lots more; like air conditioner failure.

Three times a year, the planet Mercury appears to travel backward across the sky. It’s an illusion but nevertheless associated with confusion, delay and frustration. Hence the term Mercury Retrograde, AKA backwards, reverse or decline and might also be responsible for the nail stuck in my car tire.

Here’s what happened. After driving 600 miles, we arrived home to find our central AC shut down. My husband, Bob, tired and in crossword puzzle withdrawal, was on the brink of a melt own. So, I phoned for emergency service and spoke with another Bob who from the tone of his voice was equally fatigued, if not more. He explained he’d been on call in addition to working his regular job for the past ten day before asking, “Do you have a shop vac?”

“We used to.”

“The line is more than likely clogged and needs to be suctioned. It will take me at least one hour to get where you are and cost you at least $200 dollars.”

“Are you talking about this white pipe sticking out of the ground?” I asked.

He agreed to come, I hung up and immediately phoned my Mercury Retrograde neighbor and  shared what was going on.

“I have a shop vac! I’ll be right over,” she said.

Wearing a designer skort and sequined flip-flops, she arrived within minutes carrying the shop vac.

“My AC line got clogged and I had to pay big bucks for it to be repaired. So, I purchased this on Amazon,” she said kneeling on the wet grass.

My Bob came outside and I had the other Bob on the telephone explaining he didn’t have to come after all. Everyone wore smiles. Well, I couldn’t see the other Bob smiling, but I knew he was.

“Thank you, Johanna!”

Next morning, I figured new day, no problems and went about unpacking, doing the laundry, opening-up the mail, oblivious to Mercury Retrograde who was secretly hanging around.

Later in the day I was driving on route 95 when yellow alerts appear in the dashboard, the print too small for me to see, but soon discovered my right front tire was losing pressure quickly. Normal pressure is 33 to 35 this tire had 20 pounds of pressure, YIKES!

Turns out I had picked up a nail in my travels.

I didn’t have to consult my neighbor to know, “when Mercury is retrograde, try to remain flexible, patient, and understanding, allow extra time for travel, and avoid signing onto any new contracts that you’re unsure of. Double check your email responses and check in with reservations before you take that trip.”

                                               * * * * just saying

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Back In Florida

We’re Back

Sunrise Lake

We’ve returned to Florida after spending four weeks at Sunrise Lake in Milford, Pa., and an additional week in Delmar, New York, visiting family. We’d considered a trip to Yellowstone National Park to celebrate our 50th Anniversary, but due to health issues, upcoming medical procedures, and what not, put the trip on hold.  Twelve years ago, we retired to Florida and in retrospect would have made better snow birds. We wanted to escape the heat.

It rained frequently at the lake. The temperatures so cool, we jumped in the lake only once. But, our grand kids, daughter and old friends; well let me restate that, people who we’ve been friends with for a long time, visited. Although, they are truly old friends; we met when I was thirteen and been friends for sixty years.

Smoking cigarettes at Puffy’s Creek, (behind Martin’s house in Hensonville, N.Y) nobody thought we would be old, or still be friends. It rained cats and dogs when they visited, and we huddled on a covered screen porch laughing our heads off, trying not to get wet.

Our favorite restaurant in the area is the Walpack Inn. It’s hidden deep in the woods, In order to get there we crossed Dingman’s Ferry Bridge, one of three privately owned bridges in the United States. Twenty-four hours a day someone stands in the middle of the road collecting the one dollar toll (cash only) and says repeatedly, “Thank you. Have a nice day,” to motorists crossing the Delaware River into or from Sussex County, New Jersey, via Old Mine Road. It’s a narrow bumpy bridge and kind of like threading a needle.

It was great to visit with everyone and I had mixed emotions and quite grumpy leaving Delmar at 6AM on a Monday for the 584-mile drive to Roanoke, VA. I’d not slept well the night before. However we made good time and got in bed early.

The next day we were on the road by 7AM., traveling Route 81, a scenic parkway through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Around 9:30 AM we stopped in Hillsville, Virginia for gas; to use the restrooms, and buy the newspaper. Bob reads the paper and does crossword the puzzle while I drive. We are not back on the road five minutes when he announced there is no crossword puzzle in The Carroll News which he paid one dollar for and the paper was dated August 4th, several days ago. It’s a weekly publication.

But there was news of interest.

The 85th Old Fiddlers’ Convention, held at Felts Park for six nights was expected to draw 50,000 to 60,000 people from all fifty states and several foreign countries. The paper reported the big controversy over face masks in schools, but there was no debate at the convention; no one wore a mask.

New material at the Carroll County Public Library was another headline. The list of new books, videos and CDs was extensive, diverse and took up several pages. There are six branches however, who was getting what book was left out.

The paper, more than likely, reflected what was important in the community

It was a the poignant story highlighting the Golden Girls return to work at Blue Ridge Designs that enthralled me.

Blue Ridge Design’s Golden Girls, Rubye Edwards, Cathie Grimes, Carol Montgomery, Sue Worrell

Look at the smiles! These women in their eighties, work part time at Blue Ridge Designs. Rubye retired at 87 and returned to work at 88 saying, “It’s an easy job and better than sitting at home.”They re-sticker UPC hang tags for garments. Sue Worrell believes in the “Move it or lose it,” health approach and after work went home to make 10 pints of blackberry jelly. Cathie Grimes does it for “The money!” Carol Montgomery said, “I’m still working because I don’t like staying home.”

We arrived home early and thought our re-entry would be easy. However, we were not in the door an hour when the air conditioner stopped working.

* * * * just saying

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What’s A Podcast?

Photo by Abhilash Sahoo on Pexels.com

A Favorite Thing

Podcasts are my new favorite thing, well not that new. I started listening to the Serial Podcast several years ago. Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig, is nonfiction stories told in multiple episodes. Season one investigated the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old high school student in Baltimore.

Wikipedia defines a podcast “as an episodic series of spoken word digital audio files that a user can downloaded to a personal device for easy listening. Streaming applications and podcasting services provide a convenient and integrated way to manage a personal consumption queue across many podcast sources and playback devices.”

That is a mouth full.

A podcast, for me, is like turning on the radio and always getting good reception. I download podcasts to my cell phone and listen usually when walking. It makes the time fly bye and podcasts are free! I’ve never paid for a podcast, although when asked to subscribe question if it is really free?

Yes, so let’s clarify the free aspect. Spotify offers a free service but also a premium service that is promoted as free for a month. Read carefully, the basic service is free. If you have a iphone, the Apple podcast is free, however you can also download any podcast free to an iphone.

Speaking of free, CCleaner a service/download to clean trackers, cookies and the junk that slows your computer down, similarly is free but also offers a premium service free for a month. I have used the basic free service for years.

According to Podcast Insight “There are over 43 million podcasts as of January 2021.”

The industry is growing rapidly. I could have a podcast attached to my blog with WordPress, but don’t (not yet anyway).

Currently in my podcast library

  • Florida Writers Podcast hosted by Alison Nissin
  • CBS The Morning Show
  • Lori & Julia
  • Clear & Vivid with Alan Alda
  • My Brain is on Pause by Michael J. Fox

This morning I listened to Alan Alda interview with Goldie Hawn She’s Got Your Brain on Her Mind. “The celebrated and beloved actress on her successful mission to help schoolkids use their brains better.” It was extremely interesting and I’ll talk about it next time.

. . . just saying

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B is for Brain Power

B is for Brain Power

My joints are stiff, my muscles suffer from atrophy and my brain is rusty. There is no doubt about it. It is called growing old, and the decline goes hand and hand with aging.

But is this true?

What if physical decline is not as heavily tied to aging as we think?

What if our brain is like a muscle that suffers when not used?

The expression grow old suggests a condition we developed. However, many ninety-year old’s have more energy and are less forgetful than peers in their seventies. Some of us become decrepit, some don’t and some maintain a quality of life well beyond their physical ailments. Why?

I thought of Christopher Columbus, not because he was old but because he disputed the belief that the world was flat and travelers would fall off. Yes! I know he didn’t set out to prove the world was round; the hope of profit from the spice trade made him set sail, but his frequent voyages proved the point. The world was round. People had been limiting their behavior based on a false belief.

Is aging a self-fulfilling prophecy? gb_magazine_fall20_cover-1161x1536-1-1

Growing Bolder, a movement to rebrand aging, thinks it doesn’t have to be so. There is a PBS television show, podcast and magazine and numerous resources to support the idea.

“To change the way we age, we have to change the narrative around aging. Growing Bolder is doing just that. Learn how to stop growing older and start Growing Bolder.”

. . . just saying

Check out their website https://www.growingbolder.com/stories/introducing-the-new-look-growing-bolder-magazine/

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What Are You Reading?

Official Website for Margot Livesey

What Are You Reading?

There is nothing like a good book. One you look for every spare minute you have. Especially in the pandemic. I haven’t had a really good read in a long time and read The Flight of Gemma Hardy in three days, lying leisurely on a couch in the afternoon and staying up past my bedtime to finish a chapter. The author, Margot Livesey, was born in Scotland but now lives in Boston.

What I especially liked about the novel was it was set in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.

The accolades from several other well know authors are numerous and Livesey is the recipient of grants and winner of awards.

It was a great read and I’m currently reading her latest book, Boy In The Field.

What are you reading?

. . . 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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The Silent Sound of Snow

I really miss snow.

Family and friends remark, “Easy to say from Florida.”

They may be right; nevertheless, beautiful winter scenes created by the recent blizzard bring me happiness and serenity.

I found myself reciting Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening.”

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Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Poem by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village, though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer to stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake the darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake to ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Frost found words to express a feeling so special it has ownership. Not his, but one to be shared.

The line, the only other sound’s the sweep of easy wind and downy flake, sparked my poem.

Sounds of Snow

     by Claudia . . . just saying

The sound of snow after falling

A quiet stillness penetrating crisp air

Listen intensely for snare drums not there

The howl of the wind mimics French horns

Stop in soft snow tracks

An acoustical silence alone

An absence of flurry

Close your eyes

Hear the gentle whispers of nature singing

Remember the sound after snow falling  . . . never there

. . . . just saying

A Self Help Look

The Self Help Look

I’ve thought of writing a self-help series to help myself deal with life and aging. You know something along the lines of; tips on how to get out of a chair or remembering where you’ve parked, and planned to hit the ground running on New Years’ Day.

Today is the first day of the year and the first day of the rest of your life would be the break out sentence. It’s catchy enough don’t you think?

The next day, I woke up thinking; every day is the first day of the rest of your life and readers might be bored. So, I switched to Today is the first day of the end of your life. I thought this funny and was amused with myself. After all, as my golfer husband says, “We’re on the back nine headed to the 18th hole.”

Would readers enjoy my black humor? I needed help and more than likely, unable to help myself. So, I put the self-help series on hold.

Then I found a pair of lost earrings and felt lucky. Perhaps I would focus on a series about luck. The lucky feeling continued when Bernie Sander’s mitten picture was plastered across the news.

Aren’t we lucky to have people like him to lighten the mood?

Perhaps I can help myself. I could call it The Aging Alphabet Series; A is for Attitude, B is for Brain Power, C is for Constipation, D is for Dementia, etc.  

. . . 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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Out with The Old In with The New

Guardian Service Cookware vs Target’s Made By Design

 

Out with The Old/In with The New

Aunt Connie believed aluminum cookware a culprit to dementia and or Alzheimer disease. She was next in line to inherit the Guardian Service pots and didn’t want them. Consequently, they were brought to me. I was more concerned with displeasing my mother-in-law than forgetfulness, so I cooked with them, for many years.

As advertised these hammered aluminum pots are indestructible and still highly coveted. Guardian Service has their own website and the collectable pots are for sale on eBay.

So, even thinking about replacing the Dutch Oven felt like abandoning a childhood friend. Nevertheless, I went shopping. But similar ceramic pots were heavier than what I was replacing. The new pot, Made by Designs, is a ceramic non-stick stockpot purchased at Target. It is light weight, easy to clean, oven safe, and reasonably price at forty dollars. I bought the damn pot but came home feeling guilty and happy.

Online, I discovered there are several songs with the title Out with the old in with the new. All were maudlin and depressing. I was still conflicted. Perhaps this was about change.

Change is difficult because change triggers fear and the natural instinct to fight or flee. The information and research done on the topic is extensive but to sum it up; in the aging brain, the parts that light up during a deemed deviation/change are not unlike encountering something life threatening. So, replacing an old pot can signal the alarm of a house invasion.

After mulling it over for a few days I came up with a compromise. The new pot will get the easy to reach spot in the kitchen cabinet, but I won’t throw out or give away the old valuable Guardian Dutch Oven, yet.

I’ll put it on a garage shelf and see how much I miss it.

. . . Just saying

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