Tag Archives: gratitude

A Turkey in the Produce Aisle

 

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I live such an eventful life. Take yesterday morning at the grocery store…the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I was there before nine. I knew the one item I had to have would be scarce and in demand: chopped onions. I hate to chop onions! No matter how often I tell myself not to blink, I always end up rubbing at my eyes until they sting and painful tears blur my vision of my smelly fingers. I was so happy when grocery stores started carrying previously chopped ones. But I’ve learned the hard way–you have to get them early or they’re off the shelves.

Once in the store, I made a beeline to the produce section. It was packed. And packed with people who looked like they needed a mental health professional immediately. I zigzagged through them as if I were in contention for the Heisman Trophy, but as I approached my goal, I saw a man headed in the same direction. He beat me by an arm’s length, scooping up four boxes of chopped onions and celery.

Meanwhile, I could see in my peripheral vision that a woman was coming up beside me.

As I picked up the one remaining square box and put it in my cart, I smilingly said, “Wow, this is such a popular spot today. It’s a good thing there’s lots more chopped onion containers over here. Otherwise we might have had to share.”

 

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The man, horrified by the “share” word, clutched his boxes to his chest. “These are a combination of chopped onions and celery,” he clarified. Then he hurried away.

I turned to roll my eyes at the woman behind me. We smiled and she shrugged her shoulders in that “what can you do?” kind of shrug. That’s when I noticed she didn’t really have any arms. And her hands had only three fingers on them. (I didn’t want to be rude so I didn’t look that closely, but I’m pretty sure one hand had a thumb.)

I leaned over and picked up the last box of chopped onions and celery from my cart. “Here you go,” I said, handing it to her.

“Thank you.” She held up her hands. “I can do it, but it is a little difficult for me to manage chopping all this.”

Somehow I found myself holding up my five healthy, if arthritic fingers, and saying, “I bet! I can barely do it with all ten of these.”

Now, you may think this was an awkward thing to say, but somehow it was exactly right. I wasn’t pretending not to notice her lack of appendages and she seemed to appreciate it. We chatted for a few minutes about Thanksgiving and grandchildren and then went on our ways.

As I told my daughter the story, I realized this was another Curb Your Enthusiasm episode in my life. Can’t you just imagine the greedy man as Larry David?

 

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Too Cool For School? Not Me

I don’t know about you, but I have an affliction: when I try to be cool, I end up looking like a fool.

I think this all started at the end of junior high. Until that time I was a confirmed bookworm who never had time to think of things like being cool—my nose was always in a novel so I rarely registered where I really was in time or place. Nor did I care about how I looked or what I wore. Not until the day I saw Gloria wearing a cool sweater with a dickie collar. Wow, I really wanted one!

The poodle skirt phase was before my time, but I craved having a dickie collar.

I think I probably also wanted to look like the girl in the picture below. She was so white–so American. From her loafers to her plaid skirt to the shutters on her house, she personified the kind of girl who scared me to death. But I wanted to imitate.

Next thing I knew, I really wanted to shop at the Bon.

None of this was happening for me as my mother was against all of it. She thought shopping at Lerner’s was just fine for me. Somehow I wangled white bucks out of my dad.

The coolest was the white buck bag that accompanied them—it came out in almost every class so I could apply a little of whatever that powder was to my shoes, whether they needed it or not.

My mother did loosen up enough to buy me pedal pushers and saddle shoes, which was a great victory.

I was 14 when I started high school—being young was a disadvantage to coolness. I joined this high school sorority to be cooler and started smoking to be cooler still. But it really didn’t work.

I still wasn’t cool. Which was fine at Garfield High School. Just getting to go to school there was cool enough.

In my heart of hearts, I was still a nerd who loved being in the library more than anything.

This continued on into college. I loved to study. Well, maybe not loved—but I admit to liking it a lot. At the University of Washington, I used to study at Balmer Hall—it had big tables where I could spread out my books, notebooks, three pens with different colored inks, index cards and ruler. I remember one day acting very cool as I walked by a group of guys, pretending not to see them. I walked straight into a huge ash can that tipped over, spreading sand and cigarette butts across the floor. I can still hear the clang of the metal as it bumped over the floor. Not so cool, after all.

As I get older, a lot of my “too cool for school” episodes involve falls and/or being a know-it-all. My mother always said, “Pride goes before a fall,”—it seems my karma is to act that out again and again. It’s not that I’m unsteady on my feet…yet. I go to yoga to practice my balance and work out to keep my strength up. No, it’s more that I don’t pay attention to my surroundings.

Usually, before it happens, I’ve just congratulated myself on my fitness, and that my skinned knees and elbows have finally healed. (It takes so much longer now.) I’m thinking things like, I’m doing pretty darn well for a 70-year-old!

Like on our 50th anniversary. I wore a flowing dress and my new diamond ring—I felt youthful and beautiful.

As we walked up a few stairs into the oceanside restaurant, I was handed a glass of champagne. How sophisticated and cool is this, I thought.

I stepped forward to take the champagne, not realizing I was on the edge of the lanai. Yes, I stepped into empty space. I tried to get back onto the stair and keep my balance, but couldn’t quite do it. I started falling backwards and decided the wisest course was to just go with it. Fortunately it was only a short distance into the flowerbed. The horrified onlookers did give me points for the gracefulness of my descent. Except for a few scratches and a rip in my dress, I was just shaken, but unhurt.

My final point about being cool or being a fool concerns my fondness for getting things right. It’s not that I say, “I told you so,” (although I do roll my eyes quite a bit). Like when we were traveling in the Galapagos and Peru with friends. I was wise and ate according to the rules we’d be given. The rest of them ate off the street and tried the national dish, guinea pig. What fools, I thought, as they all succumbed to Inca Revenge, and asked to borrow Imodium.

I, on the other hand, was so cool that I had nary a stomach cramp. Until we got home. Then the 105 degree fever that goes with malaria hit me. Not so cool after that.

Another problem is that I try to stay current technologically: I’m so cool that I use the Internet all the time. This leads me to buy gadgets, which I can’t figure out how to use. Like this electric wine opener. You have to admit it looks cool and very high tech, but I can’t even figure out how to put it in the charger unit. Now, I don’t know what to do with it.

I hate to say it, but being cool is just not my thing. At this point, it’s a battle to keep from making that old saying true: There’s no fool like an old fool! 🙂

 

 

 

New Year, Not so New Resolutions

This is my new year’s resolution blog. You might think it’s too late for it but it’s only January 15. 2017 is just two weeks old. Still a baby!

Anyway, one of my resolutions is to stop rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off. (You might think this is a cliché but my husband actually got to see the phenomenon. In the old days of his Ancestors.com, a newly built home was blessed by cutting the head off a chicken. The vision of the chicken running around their yard featured in my husband’s nightmares for years.)

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As for my resolutions:

I have resolved to stop multi-tasking and to slow down. We had dinner with friends last night and she asked me what I’ve doing. “Since we’re in Hawaii, are you sitting around and relaxing?” she added.

I shook my head. “You know me. That just doesn’t happen. But, I’m trying. As soon as I get caught up with everything, I’m going to put relaxing into my day. It’s one of my new year’s resolutions.” It’s that I so rarely get caught up. Then something happens, either good or bad, and I’m behind again. I didn’t think I’d have this problem in my 70’s. Still.

I find that every year I resolve pretty much the same thing. Writing that, it reminded me that two years ago I printed out my 2015 resolutions and taped them to my computer. I was supposed to look at them every day but then I forgot they were there until just now. Oh well, one of my resolutions this year is to give up trying to do everything right. That leads to perfectionism, which means you’re polishing things at midnight, be it silver or words. It also means there’s constant judgment being aimed at my endeavors. Mother has been dead twenty years but she still is holding up the signs and there’s never been a 10. So time to get over it!

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Now, I’m looking at my list on the computer, and I like it. I haven’t accomplished any of the items, but they still seem like worthy goals. They aren’t global but more about me taking care of me. As a Grandiose Co-Dependent, I’m good at taking care of others, especially in the way I see fit. Taking care of me can go sideways.

No more procrastinating: here goes:

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  1. Be happy with myself at my age.
  2. Stretch after my walk.
  3. Eat Healthy.
  4. Do one thing at a time. Finish it.
  5. Think the thought that makes me feel good. Work on reducing anxiety.
  1. Write a blog every two weeks. Write every day.

 

All of this should keep me busy. I told myself just the other day, “You better learn to be happy with your age, or you’re going to be constantly depressed. Stop looking at your arm and wanting it to be firmly muscled. Ain’t happening. Be happy if it is has a muscle at all.”

Which reminds me—this getting older is not so much fun sometimes. Keeping healthy is more than a full time job. Cancer knocks on your door and comes in uninvited. Strokes and heart attacks and dementia are only a Plavix away. Friends and relatives are getting really sick or dying. I finally get it when people say, “This is not a dress rehearsal.”

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So, I guess my main resolution is that I’m going to do less and enjoy it more. (Okay, friends and relatives, stop snorting.)

 

 

 

 

Getting into the Spirit of Things

I’m hoping to get into the spirit of things. Of anything. Right now I’m so worn down by life and Life that I need to go back to bed, pull the covers up to my nose and stay there.

 

This is actually an attempt to get myself back into writing. I haven’t been able to write since the election, when I wrote with such hope and naivete that Americans stood together. It hurts me to look at that post. I despair at the divisions in our country. I believe a rift in our population was revealed and will stand irrevocably. I think of Rodney King a lot. “Why can’t we all just get along?”

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Rodney King.

 

 

“We have to get on with things”, my cousin said. And I thought, she’s right. The sky is not falling no matter what is happening in this country I once thought I knew. Even though Donald Trump will be president. Even though we won’t have the expert and wise guidance of Hillary Clinton. Even though the ADL and Southern Poverty Law Center are reporting unprecedented acts of hate. Even though Richard Spencer, leader of the Alt-Right, is gaining a platform in this country. Even though Trump won’t make a statement against these acts.

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Even though hate won. Even though my dream of a pluralistic society has proved to be an illusion–the sky is not falling. The sun did rise and it did set. And the sky is not so polluted yet that I could even see it.

I meant to get into the spirit of Thanksgiving.I truly did. It’s my favorite holiday.

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I did make our traditional dinner and decorated the house. I looked forward to our family being together, all five grandchildren, our children and nephew sitting around the table. We always hold hands and say what we’re thankful for. There’s always a lot of laughter and love and gratefulness. This year, though, our daughter got so sick she was hospitalized. She and her family couldn’t make the trip down to California. Instead, I needed to go up to Seattle to help her. So my husband’s cancer treatment and the side effects of radiation and hormone therapy got placed on my back burner.

Someone texted me asking if I felt like Job. “No,” I wrote back. “The Perils of Pauline.”

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Certainly life should not be so melodramatic. But then, on a dark and rainy night, I had the car accident with my four-year-old granddaughter in the car. My worst nightmare. With that, I lost my sense of perspective. (I’d already lost my senses of humor and hope on November 9.) It seemed that life was perilous without relief. I couldn’t take a breath or unhunch my shoulders. I was in high alert for the next assault.

Today, my spirits are finally up, a bit. Austria didn’t vote in the far right leader, Norbert Hofer!

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And the Army Corp of Engineers will not immediately grant the Dakota Access Pipeline the right to cross the Missouri River next to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation!

My husband is almost done with his treatments and our daughter is much better. And I could write a blog. So see, good things can still happen.

And if you really don’t agree with what I had to say today, please keep it to yourself. I’m a bit tired and not my usual tolerant, feisty self. Since this is still a free country, you can always unfollow me. Feel free.

Quest, Part Two

I haven’t written for awhile–the reason I’ll go into on another day. Let’s just say for now, I passed my written Driver’s License test and I can finally go forward in life.

The other day when I looked up from studying the DMV manual, I was astonished to see a world transformed by nature’s paintbrush. Here I’d been traveling coast-to-coast to see the autumn leaves, and what do you know–the trees in all their glory are right in my backyard.

 

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I have to admit that even in the grip of anxiety about the test, I had seen one crimsoned tree, which took my breath away.

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But I had no idea of the treat I had in store. Where ever I go, there is more beauty to see.IMG_7425

I’m always searching for wisdom and I love when the world presents a metaphor for what is true in life. The truth is that you don’t need to go far from home to find your heart’s desire. With patience and the ability to see what’s right in front of your eyes, you’ll find all that is most meaningful is at your fingertips. We need to slow down enough to see it. We need to be grateful enough for what we have instead of seeking far and wide for what we think we want.

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Nature’s beauty is also a balm to our hearts as we watch the horrible deeds of terrorists worldwide. My heart is filled with sadness and fear, but observing the cycles of the earth, I get some balance. I can believe that evil will not triumph–that the murders of innocent people will not go unanswered.

This Thanksgiving, we will gather our family close–we will rejoice in being together, but we won’t forget those whose lives have been torn apart.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.