Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Notebook

Why do the most interesting conversations or events which grow into the most interesting ideas happen when I am driving my car, exercising, or getting ready for bed and when I have no desire or ability to write them down?

I fall into bed with the trail of a pure thought, perhaps from a joke or conversation I have had with my spouse, and I massage that idea and tease it and dissect it, finding lots of other questions and ideas emerging as I lay with my head on the pillow in the dark room.  I tell myself that this is something I should post on my blog, because I have a (small) group of followers who seem to be somewhat eclectic in ages, tastes and philosophies.  If I post the idea what a rich treasure trove of discussion might ensue...!

When I arise just before the sun and I find that the idea and the web of connections have melted like the snow on the steps, and I am left with ... nothing...but dampness which is vague and truly uninteresting.

I know, a notebook, I must keep and use a notebook!  The problem with this habit (which I have tried before) is I usually discover upon reading the notes later that the ideas are skeletons which can never carry any meat or I have notes that make absolutely no sense at all in the cold light of day.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

2 + 2 = a number under 5

Sometimes I feel so odd.  I may have a disease they have not yet named.  People who mix up letters and words are dyslexic.  What about people who find that numbers and dates drift into some gray hole and are barely retrievable.

I was a good student in school and got A's and B's in math.  I took two years of algebra, one year of geometry and a partial year of advanced algebra with an intro to calculus.  I was happy to find that I never used any of this knowledge once I left school.  For me, it was like working with puzzles and finding solutions.  I was uncomfortable in math classes and worked hard, probably harder than I needed to, because of my fear of failure.

Numbers sometimes elude me.  I keep close watch on my calendar as I usually know the month and sometimes the day of the week but rarely the number of the day.  But since I have a calendar booklet and a computer calendar I really do not care.

I frequently can be a year off on my age, and the same with my husband's age.  I know approximately the age of the grandchildren, but once they pass 6 it has become harder for me to guess as they do not show their age so easily.   I always need to ask my own children how old they are even though I do remember the years and dates of their birth and could do the math in my head.  I only remember my wedding anniversary because I have been shamed over the years by my husband for forgetting.

I cannot remember the date that my father or my mother died.  I cannot remember the date my younger sister died or her exact age at the time of her death even though this was a tragic time for me.  I feel badly that I do not know the anniversaries of these deaths but I will have to ask someone, write them down and review them for a time before they are in my memory.

I have always been this way so I know it is not forgetfulness in old age.  Is anyone else as handicapped with dates and numbers such as I?  Is this a syndrome or medical condition, or is it just me and my subconscious denial of the passage of time? 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Benefit of the Doubt

Benefit of the Doubt

(Taken at Bonaventure Cemetery 2014)

the elephant in the room
don't talk about it
carefully move around
without touching
get past it
pretend there is no shadow
ghosts of lives past
cry in your ears
but they are distant
and perhaps the
voices are singing
not crying
instead singing an anthem -
a rhythmic work chant
keep the peace
look another way
listen to another music
sing another song
a song whose teeth
are not so white
a song with less
sweat and tears
a song that rhymes
give yourself
and others
the benefit of the doubt

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tic Toc

The battery operated clock hangs on my wall in the TV room and is the rhythm section for such a quiet sunny morning.  It is the only way I know the time unless I am on my computer.  The refrigerator kicks on and brings up the rest of the chorus background sighing.  And, if I really listen, I can hear one of the birds, the soprano, outside singing in this very quiet house.  All the shows/snows have melted and if we get more they will be so little and last such a short time, I may sleep through it all. It is still bitterly cold, so I will not venture out today.  The river has been frozen over all month.

I am alone this week.  Hubby is off on a fly fishing trip to Andros Island.  This was my very expensive  Christmas gift for him.  I have no desire to stay at fishing camp with fishing addicts even if the food is all provided and good!

I have caught up on all the small and easy stuff and still putting off the income tax data collection, the dusting in the cooler basement, and the travel planning for the summer.  Taxes...everyone over 65 should be exempt from this task; they should just assess us a flat something!  I am avoiding the basement because I will see the weights and elliptical machine down there and be reminded that it is today that I should be using both.  The summer trip with grandson will include touristy stuff, visits with relatives, a visit to where my parents ashes were distributed, a class reunion where a good chunk of us have already passed on...thus I am putting it off that planning as well since there will be too much to think about.

Hubby left early in the morning yesterday and I blew off that day watching a marathon of detective programs on TV.  Something I have only done before when I was ill.  I watched a little of the Olympics, but it has become so jaded since I watched it as a kid.  It now has fancy training, fancy uniforms, fancy gear and stupid over-chatter bordering on a soap opera of their lives.

I am angry at myself for now having days ahead of peace and quiet and not much demand, and yet, I sit wasting time!  The seconds float away never to return.  Why does it seem guiltless to waste time with others but guilt-full to waste time on ones own?  Tic Toc.  Tic Toc.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What Are You Thinking?

That roller coaster of Valentine's Day is over.  Aren't you glad?  When we lived overseas there were no stores or Internet orders and I usually cooked something special for hubby and he mostly even forgot there was such a day.  (One could not accuse him of being a romantic!)

As his son and son-in-law have fallen in love and shown how it is done, he usually at least buys flowers and sometimes plans dinner somewhere special and gives me a well selected card.  This year with the snow and ice we stayed home and ate something ... nothing special but looked at a pink and red bouquet as we ate.  We have been married long enough to not feel bad about this.

For some women this would be a deal breaker, but he does show his love in so many other less traditionally romantic ways.  He brags about me and my interests to others, he kisses me goodbye, he makes sure there is gas in my car, he tries to be quiet when he crawls into bed at night after I have fallen asleep, he cooks great meals when I don't want to cook, he helps with housecleaning, he fills the bird feeders when I don't want to go out into the cold, he listens to me...well he USED to!

With the daily connection of FB, Valentine's Day must make it hard for some people.  Not only do you have to see someone getting flowers and candy at the office, but now those other ones post photos of what they got at home - that diamond pendant, or post photos of the fancy dinner at the expensive restaurant!  They gleefully line up their Valentine's day cards on their kitchen table and let you know how many people love them.

Personally I think this is so inappropriate and thoughtless and borders on bragging.  I am happy for your joy, but I wonder how it makes those who have no one special feel, I wonder how it makes that young man on a budget feel, I wonder how it makes that woman who just broke up feel, I wonder how it makes the widow or widower feel.

I think your Valentine's gifts and plans should be downplayed.  It is a private matter.  If you want to post an accolade to the someone or all the someones special in your life, then that is a different story.  Go ahead and share the love.

What do you think?

Friday, February 14, 2014

For You

Taken in Passau, Germany last year.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thursday 13 on the 13th of the month---Who Lives in Florida, Anyway?

Canaveral National Seashore
Apologies for stereotyping, but when viewed superficially we all seem to be either round pegs fitting into round holes or square pegs that enjoy our surprise at the snug fit.
  1. While crossing a theater lobby in Orlando we passed a young man in a suit (he seemed to work there) who weighed easily 400+ pounds. He had so many chins he was forced to hold his head way back.  He smiled and warmly greeted us as he moved past.  I wanted so much to grab his hand and find some way to help him live longer.  With his open attitude he deserved better luck. 
  2. On another day, while eating in a Perkins restaurant in central Florida, I gazed around at the customers:  There were grandmas and grandpas that were so fat their bellies rested against the table as they ate and they were not shy about putting away their 2,000 calorie breakfast.
  3. Also there, were hairy men in plaid shirts with lengthy beards that looked like cast members of Duck Dynasty, 
  4. There were two attractive women in heavy mascara, with large breasts and lots of jewelry and long dark hair who could have been rejects from one of the "Housewives of..." television shows,
  5. There were a few tourists blending in muted grayish colors who looked shell-shocked at the cold weather they had not expected, 
  6. And there were casually dressed middle-aged men who talked about their golf game and wore shiny watches.
  7. At another place, the Villages, (a Stepford-like conclave for middle class people who retire and want to live in an environment where everything is cotton candy perfect,) population 83,000 and currently lobbying for their own county status,  I saw old white people dressed so fine for a country club day.  But the only people of color that I saw there were the wait staff.
  8. While driving through Lake Wales past its version of Bates Hotel, which used to be a gentle tourist retreat, I saw people walking into one of three Bail Bond's stores, people with hunched shoulders waiting in line outside a second-hand clothing shop for their 70% off Thursday sale, and two skinny girls walking down the sidewalk arguing who appeared to be on drugs and were later stopped by local Police officers.
  9. At Celebration, an aging Disney version of the "perfectly" planned hometown, I saw happy children, well-dressed elderly, and teenagers in resort wear.  I talked briefly with an elderly man from London who lived there six months of the year walking his huge dog.  He said many of the homes here were upside down on their mortgages because of the recession.
  10. At Marco Island I saw tourists with cameras and binoculars not at all interested in their fancy condos but instead watching waves and birds with glee and asking us botanical and ornithological questions (as if we knew anything).
  11. Also at Marco Island I saw two young Latino men live-bait fishing and trying to avoid Hubby's questions on their catch since they probably had added fish that were too small to the stringer that was hidden under the waves and they suspected very much his claim that he was not with the fisheries office.
  12. At almost all of the restaurants I saw at least two beautiful blonde waitresses working their way through college.
  13. At the beach near Cape Canaveral I saw not one but two older men sun-bathing naked, one thin and gray and one a chunky-monkey,...not the kind of image one wants to retain on vacation.  I had been using our binoculars to look at the highrises in the salt spray distance (photo above)... when something bobbing back and forth ...yes you KNOW exactly what...came into sharp focus!  I am not a prude, but was not prepared, I must admit.  (Take note that parking lot #13 is the one leading to the beach for the free spirits!)

Yes, I did not have to leave home to see much of this, but I am not as observant at home.

    Monday, February 10, 2014


    They appear
    Like soldiers
    Blue or black
    In neat dress
    Standing sharp
    Ready to
    Hit their mark

    Lined up
    In perfect rows
    Leaving space
    Both below
    And above
    At attention
    Until I dismiss

    They wait
    For my command
    Mixed officers
    And privates
    Watching intensely
    To see who
    Will be chosen

    Who's first and
    Who is last

    I cannot
    Live without them
    And they live
    Only for me
    Waiting, waiting
    For their time
    Their call

    In boxes
    On calendars
    And on scraps
    Of paper
    Hoping they
    Do not outlive
    Their use-by date

    Hoping they
    will not
    be forgotten
    Hoping they
    Get a check
    And some
    A star

    Before they
    Are discharged
    With a single
    Hard line
    across their chests.

    Saturday, February 08, 2014

    Best Laid Plans

    My daughter had taken time for a girls' get-away to Florida two winters before and came back just furious that the weather had not been warm and sunny each time.  She has limited leave and it requires lots of organization to plan a brief vacation with her girl friends away from family and career.   Goodness, they could not even use their swim suits!

    I used to be like her.  Vacations were expensive in both time and money and infrequent, and when they did not work out to 80% perfection, I was dismayed.  Now that I am retired, I am thankful for the smallest things, such as feeling energetic enough on a vacation morning to take a brief walk.   I am thankful that Hubby is by my side with his enthusiasm for everything, even though I do sometimes find that exhausting  I am thankful that I usually see something new and different.  I am thankful that I can still take vacations!

    This photo is our view from our room at the expensive Marco Island hotel on the early evening of our arrival.  A cold and foreboding sunset was leaving its footprint on the Gulf of Mexico.

    Here was the view after breakfast that greeted us the next morning.  Notice how many tourists are enjoying the beach?  I pulled out the wind-breaker I had packed.

    Cold and rainy weather chased us all over the state during the two-plus weeks we were there.  Mid-week we drove to the Atlantic side and while half the day was full of sunny warm weather, by mid-afternoon...

    Still one must remember, that for beautiful sunsets you must have some clouds!

    Wednesday, February 05, 2014

    A Bit of Paradise

    We are fortunate enough to have friends that live in a small portion of the state of Florida that is still pristine.  Well, sort of...

    We stayed at the former home of  Captain J.J. Dickison, "Swamp Fox," and confederate soldier during the war between the States. Go to this link for more info:  "Although he served as a captain for most of the war, he often commanded battalion sized groups of men and proved a formidable foe to Union forces in East and Central Florida.  Dickison and his men captured soldiers, officers, steamboats and even a Union general during the war.  Although he was promoted to colonel at the end of the conflict, he did not learn of the promotion until after he had been paroled by Union forces."

    This is a private guest house and will be released to the U.S. Navy in the decade ahead as the owners have sold the amazing spring nearby to the Navy that has been doing sonar testing for many years.  I will post on my other blog photos of a canoe trip as we started at the head waters of this lovely spring one afternoon.  This land has been in the family for at least two generations.  

    The interior of the guest house, which appears rustic from the outside, is filled with many memories of the owners' trips and adventures during their lives and those of their parents.  I felt as if I was staying at my great grandma's house, with newer appliances and wireless access!  The house was so solidly built with sappy pine that after all these years the floors do NOT creak.

    This modern artwork above the fireplace is a "finger painting" from their young grandson!

    This location provided a quiet step back in time when we stayed there.  At the end of our visit, Hubby was off on a week-long canoe camping trip in the Everglades with the owner and I stayed on a few days longer with his wife, a good friend.  During the days when I walked between the guest house and the main home after breakfast I was able to observe about 30 wild turkeys walking across the yard and patio, a blue heron walking the edge of the spring, and on another visit a bobcat sauntering down the edge of the woods.  It is paradise.  

    I do want to mention that I was sure I had heard an alligator's hollow growl outside my window one evening as I snuggled into bed.  It was their mating season!  Just realize that alligators, for the most part, are more frightened of humans than we are of them, unless you are an idiot and feed them!

    I hate the thought that this bit of paradise will be turned over to the Federal Government, because they will not see the romance and nature in the place and will run it based on uneven annual appropriations.