Did we listen to what we heard?

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-11-03-07-amNo one had to remind me to vote, nor whom to vote for. My mind was made up months ago. I’ve paid too much attention to all the incendiary brouhaha of the campaign. I’ve lost sleep and had bad dreams.

As I walked along our street to vote this morning a sheriff’s car went by in one direction, a police car in the other. More visibility, I suppose, in the face of threats of election day violence around the country.

Is this what America has come to?

A couple of days ago I saw a video produced by a group of young entertainers who decided they had to raise awareness about one candidate. It was funny, yes, and spot on, but if a t.v. censor had been on duty, there would’ve been twenty-one bleeps. I counted.

Is this what America has come to?

The world is watching! Our country was founded by people who fled their homeland so they could be free. Recently, even the Pope commented on our political campaign and the irresponsibility of one candidate who wants to build a wall to keep people out.

Is this what America has come to?

Women fought for and finally got the right to vote in 1920. This year, a highly qualified woman is a candidate for the office of President. We’ve come a long way, baby, as the old slogan goes.

So, yes, we’ve come at least this far.

About time, but at enormous cost. We’ve lost standing in the world as the endless months of politicking has painted Americans ugly and embarrassing and laughable and scary.

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In June, I was fortunate enough to sit next to my hero, political columnist Leonard Pitts, at the National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference. I was as tongue-tied as if I were still a teenaged high school newspaper editor. Finally I asked if, deep down, he thought Hillary Clinton would win the election.

His eyes drilled mine, then he scanned the table, and said, “Yes, I do. But if he were to win, it would  be the ruination not only of our country, but of the entire world.”

I hope Pitts’s is right about who will win. He’s way more attuned to all this than I am, it’s what he does. I am not, in any way, qualified to write political commentary. When I sat down to vote this morning, I was shaky, queasy.

By about 10:00 tonight the pundits will make their well-informed predictions on the election’s outcome. I’ll be listening.

Wave on.
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The National Society of Newspaper Columnists contest winner, 2016 —
online, blog, & monthly under 100,000 unique visitors category.

Any place we go is some place.

When I began writing this blog three years ago I planned to write about our travels and other topics that could fit, however loosely, under the heading wherever you go, there you are.  The scope of that plan has narrowed as if I were looking through the wrong end of  my binoculars. What used to be limited only by our wallets, is now limited because going anywhere at all is an upset to my husband’s worsening dementia.

Nowadays, going to the grocery with me, a meal at a favorite restaurant, a movie at the Lyric, a walk through a different neighborhood, are “trips.” I tell Peter, any place we go is some place!

Travel these days is so difficult that I don’t mind. Peter would like to go like we once did, but knows it wouldn’t be the same. So I show him photos and remind him of the funny things that happened on our travels, our final trip for instance. We headed southwest to the Canyons, with a piggybacked week at Yellowstone.

Yes, there was a big scare, but also events worth remembering and laughing about.

I had to be helped in and out of the vans we traveled in because of my bum knee. Hiking was painful, bone grating on bone. Plus, I huffed and puffed like the magic dragon. I’d trudge a few yards on a trail, then rest. So much for telling our guide that I was conditioned and could hike several miles easily. There were only five in our group and I was the drag, the lead weight, the anchor scraping bottom.

After we got home, I saw the doctor for a follow-up to a stress test I’d had earlier. He asked where we’d been. I told him and said that between my aching knee and my breathlessness I wasn’t able to hike like I used to. “Why didn’t you tell me where you were going?” he asked. “That altitude is tough for anyone not used to it. I could’ve given you something to help.”

“It never occurred to me to call,” I said. “I’m in good shape, except for my knee, and we’ve hiked a lot over the years…”

“But I could have prescribed something  — Cialis probably— so you wouldn’t have a problem…”

“Um-m, excuse me, but why would that have helped me?” 

He explained that the med reduces pulmonary artery pressure at high altitudes, and thus increases ability to exercise in low oxygen conditions.

Oh how we’ve laughed over what might’ve “cured” my breathlessness.

Pies are round like my hometown’s square.

Every time I travel this way, driving north from Columbus…I feel that I’m entering another country…”

I’m an Ohioan, a buckeye, rooted in Mount Vernon just a few miles north of the geographical center of the state. My father never lived anyplace other than Knox County, nor any town other than Mount Vernon, except for the first four months of his life. He was born seven miles northwest in tiny Fredericktown.

Now we come into Mount Vernon … With its cobbled brick streets, Civil War monument town [round] square, block after block of handsome turn-of-the-century housing… And yet, there is something congenial about the place: stately houses, modest bungalows, backyard gardens, quiet streets…” 

That my dad lived such a long life — ninety — is attributable in part to pie. That’s what he would say anyway. In Ohio, pie is a meal, a food group!

The man never met a pie he didn’t like, with the possible exception of coconut crème and butterscotch. Fruit was his filling of choice: apple, cherry, peach, rhubarb, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, elderberry, grape, plum, banana, and even raisin. Now he didn’t bake the pies — women’s work, he said — but he did pick, clean, sort and chop the fruit.

My mother rolled out a pie every few days: flakey, crusty, aromatic, lip-smackingly good. After mom died, dad remarried and Martha rolled out a pie every few days: flakey, crusty, aromatic, lip-smackingly good. I never asked, but I’ll bet in addition to “Love, honor, and obey” there was a clause in their marriage vows that promised, “pies to last you the rest of your days.”

It is difficult to say no to a home baked pie warm from the oven. Dad never even tried to resist as his waistline proved.

When my daughters were small and visited during the summer, their gramps let them have pie and homemade vanilla ice cream for breakfast. “You got your fruit, you got your dairy, perfect breakfast,” he’d say.

I wondered at him letting them eat pie every morning. When I was their ages I had to eat Shredded Wheat, Cheerios or Cornflakes. Sometimes I got a sliced banana.

Last Thanksgiving, our granddaughter Samantha wanted me to show her how to make a pie from scratch. She was a quick learner, and her first pies — apple and pumpkin — were excellent. I’m sorry to say that she’s as messy a baker as I am. Her great-grandmas would be horrified to see the mess she made. But her great-gramps would have loved the results.

 

Quotes from Alma Mater, A College Homecoming, P.F. Kluge, Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1993.

Helloo-o-o, birdbrain!

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Walking along briskly early this morning, I heard a bird call, an almost human-sounding whistle. Wheeee whoo wheeee whoo. It seemed to be coming from the tree tops in the little woods I was passing.

Wheeee whooo wheeeee whoooo wheeee whoooo.

On and on it went. Persistent little thing, I thought. Hm, so persistent, I realized, that it couldn’t be a bird. Probably a car alarm, I decided, although it was too pleasant a sound for an alarm…

Oh-h no, who’s the bird brain? It was my phone which I carry in my pocket on my walks as dictated by my daughters. As I walked, listening intently to the “bird,” I missed a call that I only just now remembered to check, a call I didn’t want to miss. Nuts.

So now my ringtone is a “classic” that sounds just like the phones I grew up with:
ring-g, ring-g, ring-g, ring-g.


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‘The Dodo’ drawing, Birdadorable Bonanza, 2009
Cartoon, Mike Keefe, The Denver Post, 2011

‘Tippy tappy’ isn’t the real deal.

Up until a couple of years ago, husband Peter played badminton once a week with a bunch of retirees. In his younger days he’d played competitively, so he complained that the group played a “tippy tappy” game, not the fierce, killer contests he loved.

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When he started playing again he went all out to get kitted up, as he does. Special shoes, new racquet, supply of shuttlecocks. In the end he decided he liked his old racquet better, and he always wore the same white shorts from fifty years ago.

Now true shuttlecocks, “birdies” to casual players, are made from sixteen feathers and a cork tip covered with goat skin. Modern versions are made of plastic, but my fella likes the old fashioned kind, even though they last for only two, maybe three, matches.

For several years most of the seniors went to the state Senior Olympics, and some, including Peter, came home with gold and silver medals. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they were the only ones competing in the seventy-and-older age group, but still, they were out there!

Each year there were the usual schlocky gifts contributed by local businesses. This morning I was cleaning out the kitchen drawer where I keep our prescription medications, and assorted other important things — three plastic grapefruit spoons, stickum to secure candles in holders, mints, sprinkle tops for salad dressing bottles — when I found the rubber grip Peter brought home from an olympics. A grip is the thing you wrap around a stubborn lid so you can get the jar open. It was lurking in the corner of the drawer under a stash of corkscrews. They’re also called “rubber husbands.” I love that.

As my hands and wrists get creakier I use my rubber husband rather often, but until this morning I hadn’t noticed the advertising legend on one side. This handy helper was contributed to the Senior Olympics’ goodie bag by a funeral home and crematory!  What, were they hoping for business from over-exerted seniors, I wonder?

In a badminton match, seems to me it’s the cock and the goat who get the wrong end of the deal.

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“Shuttle cock” drawing from Manila Folder, Rhys Newman.

 

A cup of tea won’t fix it.

The problem:
One toilet that doesn’t flush properly.
One wife who is convinced a repair kit from Lowe’s is the solution.
One husband, a former Mr. Fix-it who, sadly, only fixes cups of tea these days.
Same wife who is a bumble-thumbs, but who can read instructions.
Same former Mr. Fix-it, frustrated, refuses to listen to instructions.
Result: None.
Action: Call plumber.

Another problem:
Frigid temperatures locally, similar to those all over the country. Thus, when I, aka bumble-thumbed wife, called the usually ever-ready, quick-response plumbing company, I was told, “All our plumbers are out fixing frozen pipes.”

“Well, we have two other bathrooms, so our problem isn’t urgent,” I said. She promised to work us in as soon as possible.

A week passed and then, wouldn’t you know, the master bathroom toilet started spewing water out the top of the tank. I sopped up the flood with old towels and called for help again. “Just wanted to make sure you haven’t forgotten us,” I said, “we’re down to one toilet now.”

“You’re still on the list, but our guys are still working ’round the clock. Let me see what I can do, but it might be first of next week…”

It was Friday, 11:30 a.m.

A few hours later the phone rang. “You have a flushing problem?” a pleasant male voice asked. “I can be there in fifteen minutes, OK?”

Was it ever!  I rushed around squirting cleaner into the bowls, and doing a general bathroom spritz. It wouldn’t do for a plumber to see a messy bathroom.

He was prompt. I showed him into bathroom number one where husband Peter’s tools, the replacement float kit, and assorted old towels still littered the floor. “Hm, someone has been busy,” he said. “Easy fix though.” He added something about bent tubes and slow flow. Guy talk.

“There’s another problem too?” he asked.

I led him upstairs to bathroom number two. “Hm, angle’s wrong…water spurts sideways, hits the side of the tank and spills onto the floor. Quick fix.”

I almost laughed. Sounded like a male plumbing problem to me. “Well, since you’re here,” I said, “I think the toilet in the guest bathroom might have problems too.  The handle is hard to push down.”

“Won’t take long to fix any of these. I’ll still be able to make my three o’clock appointment.”

Time: 2:20 p.m. Friday.

Within minutes the first toilet was flushing merrily.  He headed upstairs to work on the master bathroom and I returned here to my desk to finish “Something to sneeze at.”  Just then I heard Peter, in the basement, yelling, “THIS SINK IS FILLING UP WITH WATER!”  I dashed upstairs to my new best friend.

He rocketed down the two flights the way a fireman skitters down a ladder. “Whooie, I’ve never had this happen,” he said.  He immediately started banging the black sewer pipe that looms the length of the basement. I’d heard that deep bass-toned, solid thunk before. It bellowed “clogged sewer pipe” at me.

Don’t use any water,” he cautioned and, of course, right then I needed to.

“When it rains, it pours,” I joked, feebly.

He shook his head. “Seventeen years and I’ve never had three toilets and a clogged sewer line in the same house, on the same day.”

This guy was terrific. He spread an old towel, pink, inside the kitchen door before he lugged an anaconda-sized snake and other scungy equipment to the basement.  What a thoughtful thing to do when dealing with someone else’s…business. After several futile calls to his plumber cohorts he was able to clear the sewer line by himself and finish fixing the toilets. “Have a nice weekend,” he said as he headed to another emergency.

“Thanks! You too.”

“Oh, I’ll probably have to work all weekend,” he said, still smiling.

Time: 6:03 p.m.

TGIF.

 

 

 

Deck my halls…please!

There’s not as much “la” in my “fa lala la” as there used to be. I feel a bit like the grandma who got run over by a reindeer.  Flattened.

For one thing, the Christmas season starts way too early, you know what I’m sayin’?  I like to eat all the leftover Halloween candy and Thanksgiving turkey before I get the candy canes out.

Humbug.

By the time my halls need decking I’m over holly-ed and all out of sorts.

An artificial tree would make life easier, but I’m still a tree purist, OK, a snob. However, this year for the first time ever, we bought a pre-cut tree instead of bagging our own at Joe’s.  It’s as pretty as any we’ve ever had — a nicely-shaped, skinny Fraser fir that’s not so tall that I needed the stepladder.

Our tiny incandescent lights sputtered out for good last year.  I had no choice but to buy energy saving LED strings to replace them. I bought the so-called “warm white” ones, but they don’t even come close to evoking mellow candlelight.  They’re tinged with that cold glow that belongs on the dashboard of a car.

Obviously, I’d have to enlist my towering grandson Miah to do the higher elevations, if I had an elf!

I might be in a better mood if I’d had an elf to do my Christmas decorating, though I do enjoy the memories that engulf me when I open each carton. I could unwrap the ornaments and tell my elfin friend the story behind each, while she hangs them on the tree.  Hm, maybe an elf to wrap presents too?  I’ve never liked wrapping, and my lumpy corners and messy bows are proof that I’m supremely unsuited for the job.

I do most of my shopping on-line these days — what could be easier? — but an elf to do the research would be nice.  I’d give her my list, let her sit at the computer for hours, then I would magically appear to click on the virtual shopping cart.

Besides brown paper packages tied up with string, my search for stocking stuffers, special books, and the perfect ornament for the family member whose name I drew, still number among my favorite things.  My elf could have a cup of tea and a sit-down while I’m off on these errands.

Now I do like to bake. My reputation for whiskey cake and Hungarian pozynyi precedes me.  But I am just about the messiest baker ever was.  Flour drifts, sugar grits, eggs splatter, warming milk boils over, softening butter puddles. I use every bowl, scraper, measuring cup and spoon I own.  My kitchen is frightful when I’m done. Oh, I’d still do the actual mixing and stirring and putting into the oven, but an elf to clean up after me?  Delightful.

“See the blazing Yule before us…” Remember that phrase from “Deck the halls”?  That’s no Yule log, that’s my oven burning off charred baking spills, probably the apple pie from Thanksgiving.

I know my “bah humbugging” must stop. I need to get over myself, change my blue mood to bright red and green.  ‘Tis, after all, “…the season to be jolly…

“Fa lala la la lala la la…

         la la la la lala-a-a-a-a-a-a-a!

       Fa lala la la, lala la la…

                                  la lala lalala la-a.

                   Oh-h-h, fa lala lala la la-a-a-a-a-

           la-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-la-a-a-a-a-a-a!”


 

 

 

The Pope does the tango.

I am neither a Catholic nor particularly religious.

Oh, I went to Sunday School, sang in the choir for twelve years, learned the Lord’s Prayer, the Twenty-Third Psalm, the Golden Rule, and some of the Ten Commandments — truthfully, I couldn’t do arithmetic to save my soul, so I didn’t try very hard to learn all ten.

I have Beliefs.

But also Questions.

I have Faith, but it’s my own warped brand most of which I learned from the Gospel of My Mom. She did good deeds all the time, but she didn’t necessarily think you had to go to church every week.

So I’m out of my comfort zone when I say how much I like the new Pope.  Francis — would he mind if I call him Francis? — has a perpetual twinkle in his eyes.

I love a twinkle.

What’s not to love about a Pope who wears plain brown shoes, instead of fancy custom-made red slippers, and who personally washed the feet of twelve young people of different faiths not long after he was elected…inaugurated…anointed…whatever.

I like knowing he was a nightclub bouncer in Buenos Aires, that he had a girlfriend before he became a priest, and that he loved to dance the tango.  How cool is that?

The white smoke had barely cleared the chimney before conservative Catholics started rattling their thuribles — incense thingies to us non-Catholics.

Last spring, an unexpected gift of two doves in a cage turned into a papal photo-op. The new pontiff released the birds, but one returned to perch on the holy fingers for a while.  Another picture, taken from below the pope’s elevated platform, showed one of his entourage looking directly up at the underside of a dove in flight.  His look said, “Please don’t poop on me, bird.”  If that had happened, I’ll bet the Pope would have laughed.

A month ago a little boy climbed up beside Francis while he was speaking to thousands of people about the importance of family. The kid hugged the Pope’s knees and climbed into his chair. Francis smiled like a benevolent grandpa and patted him on the head.

Lately the Pope has been masquerading as a regular priest, dressed in black robes instead of white, and tending to the poor in Rome.  He drives himself in a 1993 Renault with 190,000 miles on it, leaving the popemobile parked at home in the garage.

This man even has a Twitter account!

He’s the kind of person I’d like to know. An everyday guy who shocked his flock with his view on Faith: “If one has the answers to all the questions —that is proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself.  The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt.”

I know people who think they have all the answers, who have blind beliefs, and who never hesitate to espouse them.  It’s their way or no way.

Drives me nuts.

I’ve always thought some Roman Catholic practices make life a whole lot easier.  Confession, for instance.  Do what you want Monday through Saturday, confess your sins Saturday evening, go to Mass Sunday, and you’re good to go for another week. Or communion. That’s real wine in those little glasses. Maybe not a good year, but still. And school uniforms, what a great idea! They take the drama out of dressing for school.  Same clothes every day, identical hand-me-downs for all the children.

I’ve opened myself to criticism, maybe even exorcism, but here’s the thing: if damning comments show up here, I have the Power of Delete in my fingertips.

It’s a good time.

Three years ago, when I told husband Peter I was going to take a line dancing class, he envisioned the Radio City Rockettes and he laughed. Then he did his version of a high step-kick across the kitchen.

And I howled.

No, we are not the precision long-legged beauties you see in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But we do dance in a line, without partners, and we follow a choreographed pattern of steps … at least that’s the idea.

Our class of “seniors” has a heck of a good time.  We press on, never mind that we don’t remember the steps that go with the music from one week to the next.  I look forward to Thursday afternoons.

Cass, our instructor, flits across the floor the way a reflection bounces off water.  She must have wondered if she’d ever get through to us.

“Mama Maria” was our first dance. We caught on so slowly. As simple and boring as it seems now, it took us weeks to master.  We now know the names of steps — grapevine, rocker step, jazz box, kick ball change, Charleston, cha cha, hitch —but putting them to the music without Cass’ repeat instructions?  Never happens.

The “old faithfuls” from the original bunch, Lois, Joanne, Barb, Judy R and me, have been joined by “new faithfuls,” Gini, Pat and Gay.

Lois the stalwart never forgets the steps once she’s learned them, though she refuses to count much to Cass’ dismay. “I can’t count and dance,” Lois grumbles. “Which do you want me to do?”  Joanne insists she’ll never learn whatever new dance Cass trots out, but she counts determinedly, concentrates so hard her red hair sizzles, and learns the routine quickly. Barb has a loosey-goosey interpretation of the steps that works for her. Judy R is so polished and perfect when she slips into the room during her lunch hour that she looks the part, so it doesn’t matter if she misses a kick-stomp here, a cha-cha there.

Me, Judy C.? I sweat. You know the saying, “Southern girls glisten, Yankee girls sweat”?  I’m a Yankee.

Early on I caught on to the new dances more quickly than now. “I was better but I got over it,” as my dad liked to say. I had to sit out most of last year because of my crumbling knee, see Good to go wherever.  For months, all I could do was try to learn while sitting on a chair and moving my feet to “mark” the choreography: chair dancing. That helped some but chair dancing is probably akin to learning how to pole dance without a pole. Not that I’ve ever tried it, nor would I!

Now that I’m able to dance again, my balance has gone kaflooey.  Some of the twists and turns make me feel as if I’m on a Carousel riding a horse that’s made a dash for greener pastures.

Line dancing is usually done to country music, true. But our Cass has eclectic tastes that veer to breakdancing songs, Lady GaGa, gentle waltzes and even Christmas carols. I’m not a fan of the singer who wore a costume made of raw meat, but once I got the steps to “I like it rough,” I changed my tune.

Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” is our current challenge.  Most of the group have it nailed, but the full turns make me feel like I’m in a centrifuge.  I may have to sit that one out at the Christmas performance.

Alan Jackson’s “Good Time” is my favorite.  Love the beat and that it’s used in this GE commercial.  As a former GE employee, it’s great to see that the giant, rather stodgy company I once knew introduced such a catchy commercial for … ecoimagination?  That term hadn’t even been coined when I retired 25 years ago.  Imagine that!

Love beyond words.

Scroll up.  See that paragraph symbol in front of my blog title?  I love that.  My lifelong affair with typesetting, editing tools, typefaces, printers’ ink and trays of type goes back to high school.  Even the “typewriter look” of this text makes me smile.

My most recent post, “Leave my blankie alone,” (you can read it here) started with a quotation set above the lead paragraph. I didn’t know until I previewed the draft that the default was a giant stylized mark at the front end only. That blatant symbol said, “I’m not gonna close this with a mirror image of myself because I am a “HONKIN’ BIG QUOTATION MARK, and I don’t hafta if I don’t wanna.”

Love typography with attitude.

Love punctuation? Not so much. I confess I’m a fickle comma user. I hook them around what I perceive are the right places the way a stripper drapes herself with feather boas. I probably failed comma usage in Miss Mann’s senior English class. She urged us to keep the textbook, McGraw-Hill Handbook of English (1952), for future use, so I did. The twenty-eight pages about commas  are well-worn.

On the other hand, I’m miserly and judicious with exclamation points, but a bit loose with dashes to set off appositive asides mid-sentence. And ellipses are fun, those triplet dots that indicate words not seen, or that let your words gaze off the page as you write … .

Don’t over-think this information.

The designer-described “favorite notebook” look of my site, with its pale blue lines and faded red rules down the margins, speaks to me. It suggests writing in the most basic form: pad of paper; pencil. Such subtle touches thrill me beyond, well, beyond words.

Yeah, weird.

Old typewriters sang to me with their satisfying sharp-edged clack clack clack, rumble, slam, ding. And there was something about the inherent resilient sturdiness of those old machines, their bold industrial heft.  A key would say, “Press me and I’ll make that skinny striker arm give you an e, or an E.”  An early 1900s Underwood #5 typewriter is lurking behind me right now.  Sadly, its E is long gone.

Personal computers — I’d sooner cut off my left hand than give up my Mac — have changed the “job” of writing in a way that adds dimension to the craft because, in many cases, we are writer, editor, and typesetter. Not necessarily a good thing. If it were possible, I’d red-pencil changes the way Miss Mann, did. Wordy, I’d write in the margin.
Continuity?
Punctuation!
Choppy.

In “How old is too old to blog,” (read it here), I said: “The thought of writing on the site terrifies me. What if I accidentally posted it before all the t’s and i’s were crossed and dotted, the spelling checked?  … I will continue to write in Word, and will copy and paste my posts into my waiting site … .” I said what I meant and meant what I said, as Miss Mann preached, but I changed my tune quickly.  After just three posts, I started writing directly onto the blank page, and now I edit as I go.

Piece. Of. Cake.

I am as addicted to editing as some people are to crosswords.  I spend hours tweaking a sentence or searching for the perfect word.  A whole afternoon will pass, me plastered to the computer screen like a moth to a light bulb, and all I’ve done is change one word for another.  It is possible, I’ve discovered, to edit after a post is published. Recently I found a miniscule error that screamed at me like a zit on prom night. Quick, delete!  Update!  Whew.

Even with the advantages my computer provides — seeing my words on the virtual pages in front of me right now — I still have to print them and hold the paper in my hands before I’m confident that my words really say what I meant them to say. The pages must look right too, no extra spaces, lines that break awkwardly, or annoying repetition.

I don’t expect anyone to understand.

 

 

Bigger isn’t always better.

Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are not my strengths.  Unless the situation absolutely demands it, I don’t do numbers.

I do words.

Thank goodness my social security number is easy to remember.  Our street address, too — it’s the same, minus a one, as the address where I grew up. Our phone number back then was 1128W, but our current number?  Let me think.  I can remember my own age (odd years are easier than even), and that my husband is seventy years older than our dog who is five.

The blasted multiplication tables handed me yet another comeuppance not too long ago. The seven-inch magnifying mirror I’ve had for at least five years has a modest sticker that whispers 5X.  If that means what I think, then my face looks five times larger than when it’s reflected on the non-magnifying side. I can handle that. That bit of up-sizing helps me pencil in my balding eyebrows, and darken, clumpily, my graying lashes.

Over the past months though, I’ve noticed I haven’t been able to see what I was doing to myself at 5X as clearly as before. I found a three-inch “purse-size” one that shouted 10X on a sticky label that covered the glass.  By my calculations, ten times the magnification should be big enough.

OMG, TMI!

I had no idea how my age spots (fka freckles) looked, nor how many stray chin hairs (think bearded lady) and errant eyebrows (under my brow line where I don’t need them) I had. Obviously I’ve wasted a lot of money over the years on the vats of Clinique All Day Eye Creme I’ve used to shore up my bagging eyes.  And where the bleeding heck did that cluster of flaming red spiders come from?

What must I look like to others?

Where is that glib woman who used to boast, “I’ve earned every wrinkle I’ve got”?  My face is ready for Halloween!  All I need is a black pointy hat and a broom.

I have the broom.

 

 

Good to go wherever.

Estimates say there are more than 600,000 total knee replacements (TKR) in this country every year. Last January, I was one of those.

Seven years ago I was knocked off my bicycle on a nearby trail. I landed hard on my right knee adding injury to the insult of existing arthritis. When I told the story to my doctor, he chuckled.  He was glad I was hurt while being active. “Better than sitting at home doing nothing,” is his philosophy. He sent me for some physical therapy and, over the years since, I tried various injections, all in hopes of avoiding surgery.  Yes, stalling!

Like so many others, including my younger daughter, I reached the point where every step was grinding the heck out of the shredded remains of cartilage and bone. No more morning walks, bike rides, or shopping. (Truthfully, I’m not really a shopper, but the idea that I couldn’t go made me want to.)

The side-trip excursions on our travels left me “sitting by the side of the road.” On a sea trip around the British Isles I didn’t get to see puffins up close because I couldn’t climb the cliff to their nesting site.  On a Canyons trip out west, I limped along worrying about being a drag on our little group. And when I wanted to try hang gliding off the dunes in North Carolina I was told I needed two good knees to landI could paraglide though, and that was way better. I flew higher and a nice young man named Jim took care of take-off and landing.  All I had to do was hang on and enjoy the view.

But surgery was inevitable.

I wasn’t afraid of Dr. M’s hacksaw nor the idea of his arsenal of power tools, but the long rehab and months of physical therapy were daunting to think about. Thanks to daughters Carolynn and Leslie, my recovery went smoothly. It helped that Leslie had TKR six months earlier. I learned from her experience and borrowed her “equipment” — walker, cane, commode frame (don’t ask), and cache of OTC medications. This past June, I returned those aids because she had her other knee replaced. Between us then, three knees to add to the annual total, and now the threat looms on Carolynn’s horizon.

Chris, the physical therapist I saw three times a week post-op for three months, could make a contortionist cry “uncle.”  He was wonderful in spite of my carrying on. “Nothing you can do will be worse than childbirth,” I said during my first visit. I’d have another baby (were that even possible) before I’d go through PT again.

Knock on wood my left knee remains intact!

In August, Brian Williams, “NBC Evening News” anchor, announced he would, “be away for a while.”  He’d finally given in and was having TKR for the knee he’d crushed in a high school football game when he was nineteen. Williams’ progress rated mention on “Nightly News” and “Today.”  I wrote my own headline:

PAIN FREE AND GOOD TO GO WHEREVER…!