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

You don’t need a WordPress account to comment. You can comment in the box below or above in the caption icon to the right of the title. Click on, comment, ignore requests for a name or username and press post or save. Your comment will be posted anonymously.

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

You don’t need a WordPress account to comment. Two ways; in the comment box below or above the picture and to the right of the title there is an icon that will change color. Click on and you can comment. Ignore request for a name or username and write your comment. Press post or save.

Ridiculousness

th

Aging & Attitude

Ridiculous, this is ridiculous; I am telling myself, stressed about baking chocolate chips cookies.

Really! Chocolate chip cookies! Have you eaten a home-baked chocolate chip cookie that was not delicious?

I am on a mission to bake my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies and disappointed with the results.

Granny B’s cookies were more like a brownie, square in size , not chewy or gooey, just the right amount of crunch. As you can tell from the picture; not flat or crispy.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

The struggle for perfection is ridiculous, absolutely positively ridiculous.

My children, who I will be bringing them to, remember the cookies, but not the way I remember them; a special treat that accompanied a special woman wherever she went.

Remember special treats for special days. Some of us even enjoyed weekly special treats.

Ours was eating pizza in front of the television on Friday night. Pizza was tomato paste on English muffins with American cheese criss-crossed on the top. The television show was Seventy-Seven Sunset Strip. We snapped our fingers and mouthed the words to the signature song. Then mesmerized by Kooky combing his hair, and prayed he would lend me his comb.

No really, I am being ridiculous. The cookies I baked are practically almost exactly like hers.

I never watched her bake them, but asked for the recipe once. Her response was she followed the recipe on the back of Toll House package but added one teaspoon more water. In later years I pondered and pondered how an insignificant addition to a cookie recipe could produce nirvana , then recalled Granny B baked with Crisco.

Remember the movie, “The Help,” when Minny says to Celia, “The greatest invention since they put mayonnaise in a jar. You have a squeaky door hinge, Crisco. Bags under your eyes, gum in your hair, Crisco”?

I examined the Crisco can, and sure enough, when substituting Crisco for butter add one teaspoon  water.

Now the recipe is just right. Well not exactly, the taste is delicious. That is not the problem.  

The problem? The cookies are too thick and a tad too light in color.  

I get it, I am being ridiculous.

I have tried a 9 by 13 pan, too thick, and 15 by 10, too thin. One is too small; the other too big. It is possible a 9.5 by 14 pan will be just right. Unless I am being ridiculous.

. . . . just saying

The Silent Sound of Snow – Happiness Series

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.”

a390cae1-8a6a-4b94-b24f-80fb03b7dc30.jpg

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 Claudiajustsaying

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 that sound after snow falling  . . . never there

. . . . just saying

The Short Straw Fix/ The Happiness Series

 

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

The Short Straw Fix

I am smiling at least three times a day, complimenting others and hunting for opportunities to do a random act of kindness. All the same, I find myself still leaning on the horn when cutoff driving, grumbling if Mr. Wonderful corrects me, and ranting about short tubing in spray bottles.

You know how it goes, starts slowly with minor annoyance, a near empty spray bottle that sprays air instead of cleaner. I shake the bottle, hear the swishing sound of liquid, and then pump the spray to no avail.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

 Mr. Wonderful says, “It’s not empty, try tilting the bottle,”and takes the spray bottle from my hand.

Taking it back, unscrewing the sprayer, and putting my eye to the hole, I say, “I see liquid in the bottom.”

Now this is when the ranting starts. “Why do they do this? You don’t need to be a rocket scientists to know the tubing is too short. How much would it cost to make it a quarter inch longer? Everything is all about corporate profits, forget about customer stress and convenience. A person could have a heart attack trying to get it to spray and thinking about toxins.”

“Claudia, you paid a dollar for it at the dollar store, let it go, there aren’t any big profits. It’s probably a minuscule amount, throw it out and forget about it.”

I answer. “It’s wasteful! What’s wrong with these people? Haven’t they heard about global warming? We could reuse the plastic bottle if the spray worked right. I’m sure it’s more than a minuscule amount.” And grab a measuring cup from the cabinet to measure the exact amount. The liquid pours to the quarter cup line.

In a high pitched voice I say, “See more than you think,” feeling stressed.

Then a quest for happiness returns and I see Shawn Achor’s face and recall something he said in his Ted Lecture.

“Happy people view stress as a challenge.”

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Bang

Adopting an I’ll show you attitude, I grab a colored straw, unscrew the top and attach the straw to the tubing.

It is not perfect but it works better than ranting.

. . . . just saying

P.S. I had to trim the straw.

*Mr. Wonderful is my husband

Global Positioning System and the Hippocampus

I wrote this awhile back but think it belongs inThe Not Getting Younger Series.”

Gray739-emphasizing-hippocampus.png

Global Positioning System and the Hippocampus

 

     “Did you heard about Todd?”

     “Heard what about Todd?”

     “He fell while out walking.”

     “Oh that’s terrible, what happened?”

     “It’s a long story, something to do with the hippocampus.”

     “The hippocampus, what’s that?”

     “You never heard of the hippocampus? It is the part of your brain that remembers things, especially new stuff.  You know, if you move to a new neighborhood and go out for a walk, how to get back home. Where you parked at the mall or the date of a doctor’s appointment.

     Well Todd’s hippocampus is shrinking; just like he used to be six foot one, and is now five ten.  It’s part of the aging process. Remember “The Graduate” and Dustin Hoffman learning that the key to the future was plastics? The hippocampus is now the key to remembering, or so it seems.”

     “Are you sure? I read AARP’s recent article “Age Proof Your Brain,” It lists ten things, and I don’t remember reading about any hippopotamus.”

     “That’s because it’s new information. Perhaps your hippocampus is already damaged. Ever have hypoxia, heart attack, respiratory failure, sleep apnea or almost drown?”

     “I can’t remember.”

     “Don’t look depressed. There are things we can do like jumping up and down for extended periods. There is evidence that Exercise may slow shrinkage of the hippocampus, specifically the part that passes new information into permanent storage.”

     “Enough, tell me about Todd. I’m getting a headache”

     “Well, Todd goes on walks but is gone forever. Apparently, he gets lost in the neighborhood. Marilyn suggested he charge the GPS and take it with him.”

     “Todd’s not old and not forgetful. Who is Marilyn?”

     “Marilyn. . . his wife.”

     “Marilyn isn’t his wife. He’s married to Barbara.”

     “Marilyn’s his wife. Do you want to hear what happened or not? So Todd. . .  by the way he’s almost eighty, goes for his walk and gets lost. After hitting “GO HOME”  on the GPS, gets dizzy from recalculating, falls down and hits his head.  A neighbor called 911. They took him to Emergency, eight stitches and he is still confused.”

     “Todd’s not even fifty. His wife is Barbara, I had them to dinner. What did the doctor say?”

     “Stop using the GPS and see his primary doctor in two weeks. It’s probably his spatial intelligence. There is evidence these GPS systems are effecting everyone’s ability to navigate, not just us Baby Boomers. I’m talking about the Todd and Marilyn Smith on the corner.”

     “Todd doesn’t live on the corner? How will they get to the doctor’s office without the use of a GPS?”

     “Barbara’s thinking of taking a taxi.”

     “You mean Marilyn, right?”

     “Whatever.”                                                                                         

                                                   . . . just saying

Kayaking and The Speed of Thinking

creative-genius-mindset-mind-map1

 The Not Getting Younger Series

Kayaking and Speed of Thinking

I was unfamiliar with the term speed of thinking until recently. I knew about the speed of lightning and speed-reading but not speed of thinking, and since I am not getting any younger, it grabbed my attention.

All my other body parts are slowing. Unpackaging a sinus tablet can be a lengthy process, and if invited to lunch, might decline if I have a doctor’s appointment the same day. Therefore, it makes sense that thinking be included in the group of what takes longer. After all, when asked the name of the actor in “The Bridges of Madison County,” you know the one who was in that movie about the French chef; I might respond Meryl Streep immediately . . . or the next day. Whether this is a short- term or long-term memory loss is debatable because I have been a Meryl Streep fan forever and instantly recalled her name when the movie, “It’s Complicated” was talked about recently.

Regardless, working memory is the phrase that feels comfortable to me. Although retired I want to keep some part of my brain working.

Minds Refined discusses basic facts of memory and aging, and defines four areas of cognition:

  • Attention (concentration)
  • Working memory (retention)
  • Long-term memory (recollection)
  • Information processing speed (quickness)

Evidently, these skills peak and start to decline early in life. Maridel Reyes says, “Once we hit our late twenties, the aging process begins and we begin losing neurons—the cells that make up the brain and nervous system. By our sixties, our brains have literally begun to shrink. Though these brain changes may sound a bit scary, the process is natural and it happens to everyone.”

“Sound a bit scary and natural!” Obviously, Maridel Reyes is younger than fifty, and has no clue. It does not feel natural to forget where you parked the car. Ask any Baby Boomer. 

However, she does present a good case for understanding that although I told Mr. Wonderful, my husband of forty-three years, I was playing Bunco with Claire on Tuesday; he forgot and purchased a Groupon Coupon to Kayak with Jimmy and Joanne. Then added insult to injury, saying he could not remember our conversation. I was thinking divorce. But apparently it is understandable, our brains are shrinking. So I applied her model to the event.

  • Attention . . . It was “The Masters” weekend. 
  • Working Memory . . . He’s never played Bunco.   
  • Long-term memory . . . He remembers playing Pinochle. 
  • Information processing speed . . . After viewing the offer “FOUR HOUR GUIDED KAYAK TRIP FOR TWO $35 ONE HOUR LEFT,” he hit buy now immediately. 

The good news is, although the aging process cannot be stopped; it can be slowed. We know that a healthy active lifestyle is important. “The key is attention. Attention is the gateway to memory. Memory is not automatic; if it were, our heads would be filled with all kinds of useless information. Rather, good memory takes effort and that effort is best applied by paying attention to what you want to remember.”

I can you hear my mother saying, “PAY ATTENTION! PAY ATTENTION!” As I inform Mr. Wonderful, I’m playing Bunco on Tuesday.

 

. . . . Just Saying

The Not Getting Younger Series/Understanding Nothing

th

Understanding Nothing

      The local newspaper, “The News Journal,” informs readers of the number of days left in the year and quotes a notable person on a daily basis. I usually start my day reviewing these tidbits of information. Somehow, the number of days to the year’s end surprises me. Although I should know without checking, since I always look the day before. The quotes vary from familiar and meaningful to humorous and ridiculous.

     On a recent Wednesday, when there were 247 days left in the year, the quote  was by Edward Dahlberg. Initially I was amused and thought he made sense, then I was perplexed but eventually annoyed.

     Since I am not getting any younger and easily confused, I gave it more thought and made a list of the possibilities.

“It takes a long time to understand nothing.”
By Edward Dahlberg

      • You forgot what you thought you knew, and now understood nothing
      • You never knew enough to understand nothing
      • You are now old enough to understand nothing

     Who was this man giving me a headache? I went online feeling stupid, and searched for an explanation. There was none, but learned Dahlberg, who is frequently quoted, was an accomplished author during the early nineteen hundreds. His words were too obscure to others.

     Getting no satisfaction I turned to the dictionary for a tangible meaning of nothing. Evidently nothing can be a noun, something that is nonexistent or a verb, as in a trivial action. Perhaps I needed more time to think about nothing and went back to doing the laundry. 

     I went to sleep that night ruminating about understanding the absence of meaning in everything.

     On the “246 day left in the year” I awoke smitten with myself, and feeling smarter than Mr. Dahlberg. However, because I was still not getting younger, made a list of other interpretations of the quote, “It takes a long time to understand nothing.”

• Understanding nothing is pointless
• There is nothing to understand
• Move on quickly once you understand nothing

. . . . just saying

PS: Another Dahlberg quote: “Every decision you make is a mistake”

1984 Vs 2035

 259/365 Clock Work by martinak15 (CC BY 2.0)clockwork

Aging & Attitude

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe it is 2015 but it is.

Mr. Wonderful* and I celebrated by eating at McDonald’s on the way home from Orlando International. We were hungry. We were away for sixteen days and that return flight was our best choice, besides New Year’s is not about fun; we are retired and have fun all the time. New Year’s is about making changes, anyway; it was a direct flight.

One of life’s challenges is change or to move forward, because there is no standing still and consequently we will go backwards or decline. This is evident with aging, and the realization none of us will escape wearing diapers and eating soft food. We can only hope to keep up with the changing world around us. Perhaps these thoughts are the cause of my recent dwelling on the novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” by George Orwell. You must recall the terms it made famous; Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, Room 101, telescreen, 2+2=5, and memory hole.

Reading the book as a sixteen year old scared the crap out of me. I could not imagine the year 1984, and doubted I would be alive to have Big Brother watch me. And if I were, would insist 2+2 equaled four and be convicted of thoughtcrimes .

It was 1964 and 1984 was twenty years away.

In 2015, I have the same predicament. I cannot imagine the world twenty years from now, and doubt I will be alive.

Not true! Senior Journal reports, “– Happy New Year! If you are age 65, and pretty much average, you should expect to live another 19.3 years, according to new life expectancy projections.”

Well I am pretty much average. In twenty years I will be eighty-seven and Mr. Wonderful eighty-six. Yes, I married a younger man. Our son will be sixty; daughter, fifty-eight and grandchildren in their thirties.

I am considering going vegan or at least eating blueberries for breakfast.

What will the world be like in twenty years? Will we get flying cars, personal robots and travel in space? Some people predict a Utopia existence free of pollution and poor health. Mandatory ID chips inserted in our brains will provide education and track our location so there will be no forgetting where you parked or left your keys. Right, we won’t need keys, nor be parking.

So now I am rethinking my New Year resolutions and changing my expectations. How important is losing five pounds?

 

. . . . just saying

*Mr. Wonderful aka, Bob, my husband

2014 Weight Loss Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

Polar Bear Plunge

A Lost Pearl

81070be8-4105-4dda-b88e-eac682dc7c17Picture Male Tufted Humming Bird by Ray

 

A Lost Pearl

Flash Fiction

The last time I saw her, she was young; youth sparkled in her eyes. Now the sparkle is gone, the jade blue color diminished by time; her convictions etched in lines across her face. Her once narrow nose is broader, broken from standing up for others. Her chest sunken with anger, not there the first time we met.

“Pearl is that you?” I inquire.

She strains to turn towards me, her range of motion greatly compromised.

“Yes, I’m Pearl,” Her voice recalls dignity, and she pauses to ask, “Have I had your acquaintance?”

It was 1971; we got on the Concourse Avenue bus each with a child in hand. She took notice of my bruises and we became friends.

I take the seat alongside her and gently touch her forearm, “Pearl, it’s me Rosa . . . . Rose, remember. . . .” I expect her to ooze with gladness, say, “Lordy, Lordy, Rose, how are you?”

Instead, she says “Rose? Can’t recall a Rose, refresh my memory child.”

If she remembers me, she would never mention beatings, and hiding in safe houses. I remind her of Bainbridge Park; how we would meet after lunch, let the children play in the sand box then walk them to sleep in strollers.

“Yes, I remember sunshine and playgrounds, how is your boy . . . ?”

“Danny, Dan, he’s at Fordham University; studying to be a lawyer.

Danny was five when I made the decision to leave the morning after a beating. I phoned my sister, asked her to get him from school, and left a note for John saying I didn’t want a divorce, and wouldn’t fight him for our son.

I worried about leaving Danny behind. Pearl said, “Don’t fret; your boy be fine,” and hooked me up with people.

John was a New York City Police officer and protected by his brothers, but the force would not ignore his beating a child.

Sill, I moved every four months with a new identity.

Three years later, the Richmond Virginia Newspaper reported the hunt for the killer of John McGill, a NYC Police Officer shot in the line of duty. I went home;  stood next to his coffin, widowed with a pension; my eight-year-old son at my side.

John had never mentioned I was gone to anyone on the force.

Now Pearl dozes next to me, and her head bobs from side to side startling herself. “What was I saying?”

“We were talking about the time we brought the boys to the Bronx Zoo and rode the train around the park ten times. You packed potato salad and fried chicken; a stranger asked to buy your picnic lunch.”

The mention of potato salad crystallizes in her milky eyes, “I remember the day you left, bruised and wearing borrowed clothes; it broke my heart knowing I’d not see you again. How you been?”

“I never got to thank you, Pearl. . . .” She interrupts my attempt at gratitude and explanation of regret .

“Hush, Woman . . . tell me something that will make me smile.”

. . . . just saying