Showing posts with label Life Stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life Stories. Show all posts

Thursday, August 16, 2012

That Talk We All Avoid

My 7-year-old grandson is visiting us this week. He had a free week from his summer schedule and we are thrilled to be able to share this time with him. Seven is a magical age. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to pal around with a seven-year-old! There are a few things we have to push him to do and others which we let him opt out of as his days are super scheduled most times. This generation rarely has time to do nothing. We give him that and unlike his sister, who has to be endlessly entertained, he can amuse himself for hours with a Lego kit or a craft project.

We have a local sculpture garden (out here in the boonies) and they have an annual "Fairies in the Garden" exhibit. They make it fun for the kids by creating puzzles and mazes along with the fairy houses.

I took him once again this year, because I know he soon will be too old for such silly stuff and I will be too old for the more exciting stuff he will want to do.  ( I have little desire to shoot down a zipline.)

He is now of an age where he notices more things in this sculpture garden beyond the fairy houses, and that has led to greater discussions...such as "What is a torso?"  and comments such as, "She looks scary without her arms, don't you think?"  This sculpture below almost led to another whole new discussion for which I had not prepared.  Grannies, beware!

I love how intrigued he is by this magical girl in pigtails.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Falling in Love Again

Two days of intense and painful swollen neck glands and a knife sharp pain on one side of my throat when I swallow has been the way Thursday and Friday have gone for me.  Heavy doses of pain killing PM sleep drugs to get me through the two nights.  I am home alone as hubby has headed to the city for a meeting and a doctor's checkup and a toddler's graduation.  Impossible to figure out how I caught this as my exposure to small children was not intimate at the seedling booth that I worked last week and I used the bacteria wipes at the grocery store as I always do...although I did sit with hubby in a doctor's waiting room, but never touched the magazines!

I am missing the toddler's (little gal) graduation from preschool with regret but was feeling so sick the regret is small.

On the third day I ate a sweet peach for lunch and then took a long afternoon nap.  When I woke at 4:00 PM it seemed the fever had finally lessened and my throat pain was no longer impossible to endure. I could actually swallow without thinking I had a knife plunged through one of my Eustachian tubes.

I pulled myself out of bed at long last.  Thinking my weekend visit with the kids coming here may get off to a great start after all.

Then just as I stepped out of the shower and dried my hair and put on fresh new clothes my best medicine cure arrived on dancing feet.  My 6 7-year-old grandson who came back with my husband ran into the house to greet me and see how I was doing.  He has lost both of the two front top teeth and both his bottom teeth and this toothless silly smile and lispy dialogue fills me with indescribable joy.

We had a 20 minute conversation about the loss of his teeth over the last few weeks,  the economics of the loss of teeth (such as daddy dropping one of the four teeth down the sink and they calling plumber to retrieve the dropped tooth).  I certainly went wrong in not teaching my children how to remove the elbow joint beneath the sink!  Then the next tooth was lost on the playground at school.  Several green bills later the fourth tooth is left with the tooth fairy and grandson has 12 dollars in his bank!!  Then our happy conversation drifts on to Harry Potter and how at 6 he has already read a shortened version of the first book and has brought the DVD with him so that he can finish seeing the visual of the story.  I ask if it is not too scary for him, and he insists he just gets scared at certain parts like where the troll is, but he knows it is just a movie.

Then with the twists and turns of magical conversations with young folk we talk about how he used to love Thomas the Train and how that time has passed so rapidly that he has forgotten the names of many of the trains which results in a brief search on the Internet down memory lane.

Then as I lay back on my sick bed, not really feeling sick anymore, he heads off to the kitchen where grandpa is making a grilled cheese sandwich with carrot sticks and freshly picked raspberries for dessert and the chore of picking more raspberries after dinner.

Remember when you fell in love and you could not do anything without working that person's name into the conversation, or working it into doodle or a daydream?  Well, it does happen again in old age.  I am so absolutely, positively lucky that this young boy has a happy and rich life and that he loves sharing it with me!  I do not deserve this, but I will not give it back!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dining with a Closed Mind or Where Do You Sit (fit)?

I somehow got on this dining memory streak and because the writing muse has totally gone on a long vacation deep into the heart of some black hole, I will have to go with whatever memory string hangs loose in front of me and create a weave of a story from that.  Wow.  Enough mixed metaphors for you?

Lets go back to Guam for this dining memory.  I was in my early twenties and full of career-minded visions.  I was working in a vocational school for young adults from the islands and a conference or meeting or something resulted in my trip to Guam.  I was living on a small island and flew out with one of the other teachers...a young Micronesian man.  I cannot even remember what he taught.  He was handsome and friendly and intelligent...looked a little like Benjamin Bratt except he was shorter.  I was happily and newly married, so our travel together was strictly professional.  We were staying at the same hotel and although he was attending a different meeting that day, we decided to have dinner together at the end of the day.  As I look back on this it was probably my idea and he felt guilty letting me dine alone and accepted.

I do not remember how we selected the restaurant or even if we got there in a rental car.  I remember that I was on some normal school girl planet and looked forward to eating a nice meal at the end of the day without another stray thought in my brain.  As we entered the restaurant, I noticed subconsciously that my dining companion was acting a little odd.  I could not put my finger on it, but I sensed something out of sync as we were shown to our table.  He seemed ill at ease, and I, being the sophisticated married worldly gal, was concentrating on making small talk and smiling and trying to get him to relax.  I thought, naively and egotistically, that he was just impressed with dining with an attractive woman his age, and concerned he didn't do anything stupid.  I knew that many of these 'local' teachers probably did not get to eat out often.

The meal moved on, but there was still an oddness about the stiffness of his behavior.  Mid-way he accidentally knocked a piece of silverware onto the floor.  I winced, hoping it would not mortify him even more, because this sort of thing could happen to anyone.  But, as he leaned over to pick it up I noticed two young men at a nearby table looking our way and chuckling with what appeared to be derision.  Instantly, little miss attractive, got her brain in gear and a casual look around the restaurant revealed several couples and others (about 25%) staring at us with what was clearly rude condescension and/or reproach barely hidden.  It was the first but not the last time I would be exposed to racism in all its subtle ugliness.  But it was one of the few times I would find the derision directed at me and someone I was with.

We finished our meal and returned to our rooms.  I did not talk about it.  I think I was too young to try an intelligent conversation and I am thinking he was more than relieved for me to forget the whole incident.

I rarely have to keep my radar up as a middle class "whitie."  I think it must be a real energy drain to always be compelled to have your radar running.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Eye of the Camera

(Brief interruption of my tedious Florida travel can leave and go to the bathroom.)

I like to think that my love of photography is my new hobby due to having more time now that I am retired.  I also like to think that the digital technology has made this another reason I take pictures so generously and spend so much time looking for new things to take pictures of.

But, in truth, I have taken pictures my whole life.  I saved my allowance for my first camera when I was about 11.  It was a Kodak Brownie box camera.  It was just exactly that, a small black plastic box with a tiny lens to preview your shot.  I could barely afford the film and had to send it out for development to some address I discovered on the back of one of my well perused comic books each time I saved enough money.  I had the camera for about a year, when one hot summer day I forgot and left it in the back window of our Chevrolet and it warped in the heat.  My mother was totally unsympathetic and hoped I had learned a lesson.  (I always suspected she saw it there and left it to prove a point although with her odd punishment theories, who knew.)  I was devastated.

There were later cameras to follow that I purchased as a teenager.  After I married my husband, I was free to use his expensive Nikon with the underwater housing, a camera that became my best pal when I was learning to SCUBA dive in the South Pacific and beginning to discover the beauty beneath the surface of the ocean. 

While we traveled overseas to many countries there were only two times when I was very uncomfortable taking pictures as a tourist and realized how much contrast there was in freedom in American.  One time I was traveling in Taiwan.  I was approached by a policeman who made it quite clear that I would not be allowed to continue to take pictures on one of the outlying islands close to Mainland China that we visited.  I was also told to keep my camera in my lap during the short plane ride to the island. (I think I remember that I cheated a little.)  While living in  Egypt for a short time one summer, I was approached by a police officer in Cairo and told I could not take photos down a certain street.  I was also approached later that week in Port Said, Egypt, and told I could not take photos after approaching a bridge area that was leading to the Suez Canal.  These Egyptian uniformed and weapon-carrying men were stern and serious and I did not question their authority, both because I could still see the damage to buildings from a recent war, and I did not want to lose my camera or film.

A few weeks ago I received the following link in an email newsletter on photography.  If you take pictures I suggest you watch it carefully because it says a lot about how fragile our freedoms can be.  It also reminds us that we need to know our countries laws and rights and to be aware of how silly irrational fears can make us lose important freedoms in an instant.  Freedoms that when taken away do NOT make us any safer.

Of course one should always ask permission before taking someone's photo, because sometimes they can be very shy and intimidated.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Life Story # 30 --- Surviving With the "Others"

Just before I start my North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida travel reminiscing posts, I am feeling the need to post a little bit about my life with the 'Others' while living on an island group in the South Pacific that the "Survivors'" cast actually visited one season.   I have been scanning slides, of course.  I am not in the photo below, but I took the picture.

I have remained in touch with two of the people in this photo but the lady in the hot pink dress has since passed on.  She was a red-hot momma and full of interesting stories, and the only one that I knew there that swam in the ocean nude, which I pretended did not shock me at all at the time.  She had two teenage or twenty-something boys from whom she was estranged as they led drug-delaying lives in Southern California.  Her husband was sharp as a tack and was a former pirate and smuggler of rare animals into the U.S. before actually taking an honest job on this island running the tuna cannery.  He reminded me of John Wayne or Hemingway with his larger than life personality and body size.   I was a twenty-something farm girl and it didn't take much to keep me fascinated during those years.   The baby in this photo is my daughter. 

This apartment building, as you will remember if you read prior posts on my blog, is where I lived.  They were called the 'Pink Apartments ' by the expats and they only had running water and electricity every other or every third or every fourth day.  It all depended on whether the drunk who ran the generator remember to add fuel or whether the other local islander remembered to turn on the water that day, as water was rationed.  The fact that we all remained friends was a miracle, but it does explain the need to use alcohol and sex to soften the tension.  The stenciled numbers above the door makes it look like some military base or certainly the location of the 'Others.'  (Maybe that little boy in the foreground is a current producer of "Survivor" or "Lost" and this is where his vision for one of the television series first took form.)  

Actually living there was more like "Desperate Housewives" than "Survivor."  The affairs and flirting and babies...I would spill all, but some of it is really X-rated, such as the American nymphomaniac nurse that eventually got kicked off the island.  I guess that I actually got sophisticated fairly rapidly having friends all over the spectrum including the missionaries who were there and didn't really get along with each other and the priest who was an alcoholic but a gentle old soul.

I have probably forgotten the best stories.  Should have kept a diary.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Life Story # 29 -- The Dinner Party 2009

It began with the request by hubby to invite a couple to dinner.  Tabor was not exactly excited about this burp in her weekly plans.  Thanksgiving was just around the corner and there were bedrooms to clean, meals to plan, food to buy and porches and decks to clean as well as decorations to get out and large platters to pull from the back of cupboards.  Now he wants me to cook a meal for some other company before all this?  For people I don't even know?  But Tabor realized that this dinner was important because they were like strangers in a strange land and needed to break bread with someone.

The man had just been hired to work at the nearby small community college and was still trying to find his way.  He was working with people from a different culture and people who perhaps did not have the passion for accomplishment that he did.  They were people who hesitated to make change because it probably meant failure but most certainly meant more work.  He was American but actually an Eastern Indian by culture and who for the past six years worked in the Marshall Islands.  He was tall, thin, and handsome and had not lost his country's accent.   His parents still lived in India although his father had worked in France for a while.  This dinner guest, in spite of or due to his sophisticated upbringing, was still seen as an outsider by the local community.  

His wife, shorter and pretty, was Laotian but had lived in America since she was eight.  She had stayed and worked in Boston during this time and was raising their two twin boys with the help of her parents.  She had worked her way up in a company providing support to database software and hardware for the big stock brokers and finance companies.  She had held on to this job when the company was laying off others.  The couple had sacrificed big time by being apart for months at a time over many years, knowing that in his field of science jobs were hard to come by.  Now he had been rewarded with a job stateside where he was much closer to his wife and sons.  He was so happy to be back in America but somewhat unhappy in this stagnant job.  He was smart and energetic.  They were strangers in this rural conservative community and we could be the connection they needed to maintain their sanity.

(Tabor asked hubby about dietary restrictions, having at least some idea of international eating issues.  Since there were none, she proceeded to put together a salmon with a Thai curry sauce with chopped kaffir lime from her tree.  To this was added a tumeric rice dish, stir fried swiss chard in bacon fat with chopped bacon and to cool the tongue a cucumber salad with mint/basil/sour cream dressing.  For dessert, just to really make the meal over the top crazy, she made brownies served with vanilla ice cream.  Fortunately, everyone had cast iron stomachs and she got compliments.)

The dreaded entertainment event went very well.  The couple were completely charming and well educated.  Once they realized that we saw that the world was composed of a whole group of people with common interests and common goals and that we did not view the world as privileged citizens from the top of Mount U.S. we had wonderful conversations in our attempt to solve the world's problems.  We shared stories of travels and travel interruptions and travel surprises.  Relieved that there were no talks of sports, potty training, holiday shopping, it was like the old dinner parties.

A discussion of the movie, Slumdog Millionaire, brought to light the concept that maybe this slum was actually kept in place by the government of India because it produced many cheap products and provided cheap but intellectual labor.  It was like a company town kept in place by government bureaucracy according to our guest.  The young man mentioned working with a technician from India who helped set up the cell phone network in the Marshall Islands.  When our dinner guest had returned to India with this man on a trip he found that his home was in the slum.  A one and half story shed built of tin where 8 people slept.  Tabor's guest was from a higher level in India and even he was surprised at this contrast in the man's skills and where he lived.   Tabor's guest was not like some of the haughty Brahmin's she had met on her travels and she realized she must watch her prejudices.  His life in the U.S. had made him very democratic.

By the end of the evening Tabor wanted more time to explore Laos and its customs with the wife.  She had forgotten to ask for pictures of the twins.  She knew that the young man would be moving on to other jobs when the opportunity came, but maybe she would have the chance to entertain this young couple again in the future.  They were a nice reminder of what Thanksgiving was all about. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Life Story #29 - Getting There

A number of years ago, when I knew that my daughter was close to becoming engaged and my son was close to graduating from college, and I was trying to suppress another empty-nest panic attack, I organized a family trip. I knew this would be the last trip we might ever take with just our family of four and I wanted that time together and that memory. We spent a week on an island called Ambergris Key in Belize. This was before the island became so famous by being a location for the TV show Survivor. It is (was?) a low key resort with small hotels and lots of long beaches and hole-in-wall restaurants of various quality and cost. This first week was filled with beaching, snorkeling and bike-riding. The second week was to be our adventure into the jungles of Belize staying at an eco-lodge. This post is about the adventure of getting to the lodge.

The airport on Ambergris Key is small and busy with various small jets shuttling tourists to and fro. We arrived early for our 'chartered' flight inland. We were told that no regular commercial flights went to the lodge. After waiting 30 minutes past our departure time and seeing jets take off and land, my husband went to the charter counter and asked about the delay in our flight. The uninterested clerk explained that our pilot was just running late. His demeanor indicated that this lateness was usual. We have traveled extensively and are quite familiar with the pace and attention to time as it is interpreted in other countries. You have to go with the flow or get an ulcer.

We continued to sit in the increasingly hot sunshine watching tourists while a small dented prop plane puttered up to the departure area. It was one of those scary, little one prop things that when you see it you wonder why anyone would place their lives on board. Well, as I am sure you have guessed, that was our plane.

It was the smallest plane any of us had every seen. Only six seats inside and no room for much luggage. The pilot was a tall, skinny and a scruffy representation of his profession. He had holes in the pockets of his jeans and his greasy cap looked as though he was the mechanic for the plane, as perhaps he was. He did not say one word to us and the only way we knew it was our flight was when the clerk indicated it was time for us to board. The only word we heard out of "Chuckles" the entire flight was prior to departure when he said, "Vamonos!"

Tucked inside beneath gray and frayed seat belts we truly understood the expression of 'sardines in a tin can.' Our luggage was piled unceremoniously in the back. The door on my side did not close completely and I could see about half an inch of daylight all the way around. The take off was breathtaking. Just the type of experience you would have if you put an airplane engine on a tin outhouse and took off with two wings and a prayer. The noise was too loud for talk and the vibration of the plane was loosening not only my teeth fillings but kept sliding my glasses down my nose preventing me from clearly seeing all the dangers we were missing.

I put on a brave face for the children although I was close to wetting my pants as we took off low over the Caye and the ocean and the open savanna. Before we reached the jungle we entered a low hanging cloud and moisture began to form on the outside of the plane and started to spray me through the crack in the door. I was soon quite damp in addition to being completely massaged.

Eventually we made it through the cloud and I gathered my courage to look out the side window and saw we were following a river up into the jungle. Hubby who is a social bunny (as you know from reading my blog) was attempting to use his Spanish and make small talk with the pilot who did not respond to a single thing he said. Daughter was taking pictures of the scenery outside the moist windows and son was taking everything in including keeping an eye on the gauges in the front of the pilot as they seemed to be varying their readings rather dramatically. I just kept very still as I was getting cold and wet and afraid any movement I made might dramatically shift the weight in the plane and alter our course for the worse.

At long last, and after I felt I had aged several years, an open gravel area appeared in the jungle beneath us. The plane began its descent as this gravel path was our landing strip. We landed on the path in a field with squash plants on either side. There was nothing in sight except a narrow gravel road leading somewhere off in the distance at the end of the landing strip.

(In the photo above the tall skinny guy is the pilot ogling my daughter who is standing at the tale of the plane. Do not let this photo deceive you, close up the plane was a piece of junk.)

The pilot got out and opened the door on my side and indicated that we should get our luggage. We unloaded everything and placed it on the ground. Then without word he got back in the plane and took off into the blue sky. The sound of the plane's engine died away in the distance and here we stood in complete and stunned silence as the jungle surrounded us. We sat on our luggage thankful we had all our limbs and not eager to go anywhere. There was not a sign or a single house in sight and we wondered, if like some wilderness movie, we were supposed to carry our luggage down the lone dusty road ahead.

We waited for about five minutes until we finally heard the sound of a vehicle approaching.

Out of the jungle a white bus appeared. A friendly driver emerged from the bus above and helped us load our luggage. It appeared that we had survived and now were looking forward to more jungle adventures at the lodge.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Life Story Addendum to #26

I was doing some spring cleaning, dusting shelves, and pulled one of the ancient photo albums aside and decided to look for this photo. A picture being worth more words than my rudimentary descriptions can convey, this is the front of the apartment building in the prior life story post and this is the little dog a year or two earlier, when we got him as a pup. The other dog in the photo has adopted us, as many of them did while we lived there.

As I look at the face of this young woman, I must admit that I am surprised by the set of her jaw and the squint in her eyes. I did not see myself as a strong person, but this photo conveys something different I think. We never quite see ourselves as we really are, do we?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Life Story #26---Dealing with Madmen

Art requires angst doesn't it?. How many artists are also crazy and need that craziness to feed their art? This table missing the glass top and carved from the base of a hollow tree was carved by a Micronesian wood carver named Baris and is a beautiful example of the island art of woodcarving. Baris was a crazy man. He was about 45 years of age and was large and muscular with a shaved head, unusual for Micronesians, and this gave him a striking appearance. He also spent a lot of time in and out of "prison" on Palau. He was known at the town rapist. This term was used by the locals as if saying he was the town undertaker or the town drunk. It was something he did and he sometimes ended up in jail for it. The jail was a joke in itself in that it was a concrete block building with a three foot high barbed wire fence around the outside. If he needed to run an errand while under arrest they would let him out into the small village for the day.

His sister lived in a tin-roofed grass house across the dirt street from our apartment building and so we would see him there on occasion and that is how we came to buy the table from him one afternoon.

Imagine being the young age of 28, married only a few years, and living oceans away from home and those I knew on an island in the Pacific Ocean. Our weekends were spent sailing on a lime green Hobie Cat or SCUBA diving or shell collecting on the fringing beaches or just lying around naked and watching the crabs look for shell houses on the sand of a remote beach. Exotic, no? And all true, at least for one side of the story.

The other side as I have written before involved lack of running water and/or electricity for days at a time in a crowded apartment in the jungle. Learning to cook strange seafood and regularly scavenging for any type of fruit or vegetable other than bananas and taro root at the market were other activities.

But when you are young such hurdles do not diminish your enthusiasm for living, and so we decided to bring another life into this exotic lifestyle we were leading. I flew to the United States to give birth, because along with its lack of sanitation, the island hospital's interior design included bolt cutters hanging high on the wall across from the entry which I was told were used for removing spears from the bodies of natives. I do not think they were joking if you will remember my life story #3.

After my beautiful daughter was born I returned via Guam to Palau when she was about 6 weeks old. I was nursing her and so didn't have to deal with all the sanitation issues and expense of formula feeding. By the time she was two months old she was sleeping through the night, so I was surprised to be awakened by her cries late one evening. I was alone in the apartment as my husband was off-island somewhere at the time. I hurried to her room and as I calmed her by feeding her I then heard our local dog which slept outside on the cement porch begin to bark in panic. Had he been barking all along and I didn't hear him because of her cries? This barking was also unusual, so holding my daughter close to my breast I peeked between the lanai blinds of the kitchen window.

All the expatriates in the apartment complex left their porch lights on to ward off 'whatever' or perhaps for an artificial sense of security. I looked into the harsh light and saw Baris stomping up and down the length of the porch past the four apartment doors. He was obviously drunk and acting very delirious. Fortunately our dog was not his focus of attention. The combined anger of Boris and the anxiety of the dog brought me instant panic. I held my daughter close to my breast and felt very very vulnerable. I went back to her room in the dark and closed the door.

I sat in the rocker in her room and nursed her in the dark feeling she must be getting a sour curdled repast as my heart continued to rise into my throat. I felt helpless in terms of a defense if Baris decided to break down my door. The chaos went on for what seemed like fifteen minutes and then I heard another man's voice talking with loud bursts in Palauan. There was a choppy exchange of words with the dog still providing a chorus of angry barks now joined by another local dog. Then instantly there was silence. I sat and rocked for ages in the deafening quiet imagining a dead body on my doorstep and did not put my daughter back down in her crib until I could see the dawn breaking through the curtains.

I made some tea and waited for the daylight. Just one more day in paradise.

(There was no body and no blood at my doorstep...just a little sleeping dog.)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Lifestory #25 --- WE WILL ROCK YOU

I am listening to the Superbowl theme music as I sit at the computer and write this entry. I am not a football fan and I have no intention of watching this game tonight, but it does remind me of a life story that is related.

Those of us who have lived overseas and been regarded as expatriates for any length of time are familiar with losing touch with our culture fairly easily as we get wrapped up in the culture of the country in which we are living. In one instance, I remember answering a phone call at 2:00 A.M. Indonesia time one January when I lived in Indonesia sans TV and listening to some excited guy talk in detail about some Super Bowl game that had just ended while I wiped the sleepy dirt from my eyes and then gained enough sense to ask him why he had originally called. It was about some embassy thing that had nothing to do with the Super Bowl!

But this story is about another time and place. It was January 1971 and we were living and working in Palau, Micronesia before we had children. We were on a month's leave and had just returned to the United States for some R & R after two years of being away. One of our stops was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where my husband's parents lived. Hubby's parents were typical of many American parents of that time a la Madmen. Elderly, back slapping, cocktail drinking and proud of their son's accomplishments. It was a bit intense for me as I grew up on a quiet farm in Colorado. But I took deep breaths and did my best to be a good daughter-in-law.

During the time there was much reminiscing and my father-in law mentioned an old friend of his that really wanted to see my husband. He explained that the guy had done very well in business and actually owned several race tracks and a Jai Alai stadium in the area. He insisted that we take an afternoon and stop by the friend's office. My husband didn't remember this man very well, but to appease his father he agreed.

We drove somewhere outside of Fort Lauderdale to a rather simple but large, white, cinder block building in an area of town that looked much like the type of places disreputable people hang out in those Miami Vice episodes. When we told the secretary we had an appointment with her boss she showed us into his office. The first thing I saw was stuff and more stuff. Piles of papers, boxes, the entire room was filled with stuff and crap and not at all what one expects in visiting a millionaire's office. The working desk was piled high with even more stuff. The man, whom we will call Mr. X to avoid any lawsuit from remaining relatives, sat behind this desk and would have been easy to miss if we had been standing further away. He was short but weighed at least 300 pounds and his age was hard to determine from my inexperience as a 25-year-old.

I don't remember much of the meeting as it was mostly about hubby's youth and the good old days. The meeting lasted maybe 20 minutes, and as we got up to leave, Mr. X reached into a drawer and handed hubby a small envelope. It was a gift, he said, hoping we would enjoy our stay in Florida. Hubby took the envelope and shook his hand and we returned to the car.

As we sat in hubby's parents car which we had borrowed, we opened the envelope and inside were two tickets on the 50-yard line to the 1971 Super Bowl in Miami. This was Super Bowl #5 for those of you who know your football history. Neither my husband or I were the best recipients for this gift as during that time we were not big football fans although hubby has become a bigger fan over the years. We went to the game, enjoyed the game, but all I really remember is crying when they played the National Anthem as I had not heard it in a long time.

I think this is what they call looking a gift horse in the mouth even though we did not question his generosity. Today, of course, we would know better.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Life Stories #23--The Mark, the Patsy, the Dupe

Years ago, when I was living in Indonesia, I spent much time discovering many wonderful temples and architectural wonders in this exotic country. One of my very favorite places to visit was the famous Buddhist temple of Borobudur, "a mountain of a thousand statues." When it had been excavated and the jungle cleared by the British governor, Sir Thomas Standford Raffles, the temple was open to theft and destruction over the ensuring years and that can be seen when touring the temple.

After newly arriving in Jogajakarta, and once the rainy season had slowed and the muddy roads had dried, my family and I went to visit this famous temple for the first time. This temple is one of the most visited Buddhist temples by tourists from all over the world, and can be quite crowded most days. There is a narrow initial entry, and as we approached the steps, the ventura effect of the narrower entry with the wave of many tourists caused us to be pushed closer and closer together until we were shoulder to shoulder with many others. There was a young man in front of me assisting a frail elderly woman make her way slowly up the steps. The crowd flowed around me on either side and as I was pushed forward into the couple tried very hard not to knock them to the ground. The elderly woman was barely able to make it up each step and it was impossible for me to get around the pair and so I accepted my fate of inching upwards. People kept pushing me from behind and it took all my energy to just maintain my balance.

Finally we reached the plateau above, and the crowd dispersed and I could breathe again. I pull the canvas bag from off my shoulder where its weight had caused some strain and that was when I notice a clean razor cut in the side small pocket where my wallet of Rupiahs and my International driver's license had been stored. I knew immediately when and how it had happened and did not bother looking for the team of thieves.

Several years later I was vacationing with my husband and children in Spain. We had arrived a few days before in Madrid and were getting an early morning start for a drive to the ancient city of Toledo. Hubby was having some health problem, which I cannot recall, and so we parked the car at the side of a lovely tree-lined street and he walked across to a corner pharmacy. I waited in the rental car with the two little ones in the back seat. The early morning light was lovely and golden as it filtered through the trees. A young and very attractive man stepped out of the nearby alley ahead of the car and leaned against a brick wall and smoked a cigarette enjoying the morning. A middle aged couple, just beyond him up the sidewalk, were sauntering arm and arm towards us lost in each others company. In less than three seconds as they passed the man he had removed the purse from her shoulder. She let out a small scream and tried to hang on, but was too slow in reaction. The man disappeared down the alley with her purse. The couple ran after him, but he evaporated into some well planned escape route. By the time hubby returned to the car with his curative, I had decided to be far more alert the rest of the day.

Again, several more years have passed, and one spring afternoon I had left my work for a meeting in downtown Washington D.C. It was April, the Cherry Blossom Festival was in full swing, the weather was wonderful, and I left my meeting early deciding to play hooky the last hour of the day and walk under the Cherry Blossoms at the end of the Mall. As I crossed the Mall a woman of about 35 approached me. She asked if I knew where the Metro station was. I was slightly suspicious but pointed the way. Then she asked if I knew how much it would cost to go from point A to point B. I told her that they had posted the rates at the station and again started to walk away.

She immediately began to follow me and launched into a long and detailed story of how she had passed out from some illness the night before at a restaurant, had been rushed to the emergency room of a city hospital, had called her sitter that night to watch over her daughter, and had just been released this morning. Her Priest had sat up with her all night and both were relieved when her illness proved to be minor. Her priest had just dropped her off to take a metro home and she realized that she had absolutely no money in her purse. Did I have any dollars to loan her? She had to get home and release her sitter.

I stopped in my tracks and studied this very intelligent face. It was a very compelling story and I cannot replicate the skill with which it was told in this writing. But, even though I knew this was a scam, there was something making it hard for me not to believe her. I took a breath and then looking her in the eye, I told her she should go into acting. She said something to me in response that I cannot write here. But the little Catholic woman had learned some pretty saucy language outside of her church. She stomped away already looking for her next victim. Had she broken into tears, perhaps I would have given some money.

And then just a few years ago I had blogged about this little incident.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Dinner

The restaurant she had selected was a high-end seafood chain located in the Galleria near the more expensive stores. She had hoped that the empty parking spaces outside were a clue that the restaurant would be quiet inside, but the holiday season had packed both the bar at the front and the tables in the various rooms with festive customers.

She and her husband were led to a room near the far back and that helped reduce the din. Trying to look a little fashionable, she had carefully dressed in a loose fitting black turtle neck sweater and a faux suede skirt cut on the bias that allowed her new tan and dark brown cowboy boots to show. The weather had turned unusually warm which meant the brown tights she had decided to wear instead of a slip were making her a little uncomfortable. Her husband, who spent much of the last few weeks in jeans and sweatshirts, had found it more difficult to dress wanting to wear the new mock turtleneck sweater he had gotten as a gift and finding most of his slacks too dressy for the casual knit. He finally decided on a faded pair of Dockers. They looked like a typical middle class retired couple pushing unsuccessfully for an upper middle class look.

Their waiter arrived almost immediately upon being seated. His head was covered by a thick heavy thatch of dark hair shooting every which way and his face was covered by a dark beard making him look very much like a terrorist rather than a waiter, but his smile was easy as he filled the water glasses. She ordered a holiday cocktail to help her relax and her husband ordered the usual soda water.

They both checked their phones for messages and then made idle conversation hiding the slight tension as they waited for the third party to arrive. She had called him twice during the afternoon and didn't get an answer. Finally she pressed upon her husband to call him once again just before they parked the car, and that was when their son returned the call to say he was finishing the final load of laundry and would be running a little late.

They were in the middle of the 'calamari trio' appetizer when their son showed up dressed casually and with his favorite torn jeans. (Did every pair he owned have torn pockets?) He order a soda and she had mixed feelings about his avoidance of a bottle of beer. It was good because he had to drive out later to his apartment and meet up with friends for the rest of his birthday celebration, but she wondered if this meant he would keep his guard up during the entire meal.

Small talk about the crowds and the holidays and the sales drifted into talk about the Christmas day memories with the little toddlers. She and her husband ordered the special with the recommended glass of wine. By the time they were well into their entrees the conversation had drifted comfortably into politics and religion. The subjects that all were in agreement on and safe in discussing during the rest of the meal.

As the final espresso was ordered her son began a story about a friend of his and the friend's girlfriend at a recent night out. Her son had been scolded by the girlfriend because he had brought another friend of his with two twenty-something sisters who were in town for the holiday. The girlfriend seemed to think he was trying to fix her boyfriend up with one of the sisters and angrily reprimanded him, and the whole event sounded like the Bachelorette or one of those other inane junior high level reality shows of this thirty-something generation where the women are so insecure that only 20k of plastic surgery will calm them down.

At the end of the story, her son smiled and said he felt sorry for his friend and then said he was glad he wasn't dating anyone right now.

They paid the bill and then walked to their cars and exchanged some gifts and Christmas cookies she had made. She hugged and kissed him goodbye and drank in the smell of him under the aftershave, perhaps clinging a little too long as she knew it would probably be months before she could get their paths to cross again. He opened the door to his car and gave them that familiar sideways smile and little wave before he ducked inside.

Well, she thought to herself, that went as well as can be expected.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Life Story #22- The Rest of the Story

As some readers may recall, we left our newly married royal couple in a small cabin in the woods as the night was falling in the tropical forest with what seemed like a not so happy ending. Fortunately, with the resilience of the young they awoke to a much brighter day and after a breakfast of eggs and fried breadfruit and sliced papaya, they packed their chariot to begin the second day of the 'rest of their honeymoon.'

A wedding couple does not have to stay in a 4 star hotel for a beautiful honeymoon on the Big Island, because most of the real tropical beauty is away from the hotel's boring swimming pools and crowded beaches. (Besides if you are graduate students, you barely have two nickels much less $200 for a night in a hotel.)

Hawaii is called the 'orchid isle' and it lives up to this name with orchids growing wild everywhere, even along the roadside, causing the Princess on their second day to ask the Prince to stop the chariot every few minutes so that she could bury her face in their sweet smelling blossoms. A drive down the 'chain of craters' road where they eventually had to come to a complete stop because of the cold lava that merged like frozen molasses across the road, amazed them both.

Hours later, the newly-weds danced under the giant tree ferns, picked ginger blossoms for the dashboard of their chariot, visited historic Cook's Monument at Kealakakua Bay, let their fingers trace centuries-old petroglyphs in the volcanic stones nearby, explored dark lava tubes and soon forgot about the prior day's disaster.

But when they stopped for a family-style lunch at Volcano House, they were reminded of the prior day's debacle as they sat at a large, rustic, round table with the other tourists for a family style meal. The initial noise of the restaurant was that of normal conversations among happy tourists, but at their table the conversation among the fellow diners dwindled immediately into uncomfortable silence as people politely passed food and surreptitiously directed side glances toward the Prince with his oddly deformed lip. This deformity also meant his enunciation was muddled and the Princess had to speak for him when he needed food passed. Suddenly the Princess realized what it must be like to be a person with a deformity in a society where everyone else is "normal." This was an eyeopener and gave the Princess a new appreciation for the "commoner".

The Princess explained that they were on their honeymoon and had had an early mis-adventure with a honey-bee. The atmosphere at the table immediately thawed and idle conversation began once again with everyone wishing them a happy future.

The following days were somewhat of a blur visiting Pahoehoe Point, Kamuela, Kohala Road, and Saddle Road, until on the next to the last day the couple reached the end point of a paved road at Pololu Valley. This point is the start of goat trails to five deep and beautiful valleys on this side of the island. The royal couple had brought their rustic backpacks and proceeded to descend into the northern most valley, Pololu, by following a trail down a 420-foot cliff face that zigged and zagged sharply toward the bottom. (Reminder, this team was not very worldly).

When they reached the valley the cool ocean breeze across the crescent beach was very welcoming. They paused for the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch (not exactly gourmet) and then climbed up the next very steep ridge and descended into the next valley. The climbing and descending were so totally exhausting that after crossing a number of streams, the small shelter of Australian pine trees at the base of the valley near the ocean was immediately chosen as the evenings camp spot. The royal team set up a primitive campsite which consisted of two sleeping bags, a plastic drop cloth and some cooking utensils---such luxury.

During the day as they had crossed each river in both valleys, the Princess noticed that the streams were filled with dead or dying, floating, dangerously red centipedes and the evening music that accompanied that night's dinner was the sound of a nearby violently crashing surf against the rocks blending with the sounds of squealing wild pigs up in the valley. The Princess had visions of either drowning in the encroaching surf waters, being attacked by a wild boar, or being bitten by one of the four-inch long centipedes that had washed down the valley and that could seek shelter in her sleeping bag.

The plastic drop cloth that was to be used as protection from the impending rain, became a sail that captured the choking campfire smoke when the wind changed direction from blowing onshore to blowing offshore---as any naturalist would have known. Not much honeymoon lovemaking or much sleep for that matter took place! (Looking back on this beginning it is a wonder that we ever had any children.)

The Royal Couple survived this final night of celebration of their marriage and looking like mud-covered warriors and being given second and third glances by the mainland tourists in the parking area, they returned to their chariot to begin the life of a more normal couple. But that is several other life stories and adventures for a later book.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Life Story #21---The Wedding and the Honeymoon and the Horror of It All

A long time ago (38 years) in a land far, far away (Hawaii) a young prince of a man and a young princess of a woman met and fell in love. The prince and princess were from poorer kingdoms but the paradise of the land in which they found themselves made everything seem possible. When they could remove their noses from thick textbooks, they spent mornings on the white sand beaches, afternoons hiking in the flower-filled rain forests and evenings eating ice cream cones at the edge of posh hotel patios. The world was a magical place in those days before the mortgage witch and the health demons had found them. They had known each other only three months, but knew they were soul mates for the rest of their lives. Throwing caution to the ocean breezes, as only the young can do, they made plans to marry.

Their marriage ceremony was held in a small local church and the wedding guests, none from their bloodlines unfortunately, ranged in age from the late 70's down to 10 years of age. This was certainly a good omen. The ceremony was smooth except for the slight loss of voice on the part of the Prince when he had to say "I do" which he managed to squeak out eventually. The Princess was slightly dismayed, but told herself it was just nervousness.

The celebration, held in a nearby hotel lanai at the edge of the ocean, went on late into the evening filled with fresh seafood and fresh fruits. One hundred flower leis, that had been made by hand by the determined couple, filled the air with a tropical fragrance that could not be described. You may ask how can a poor couple afford 100 leis? (Cemeteries in Hawaii are filled with plumaria trees.) You may also ask how can a poor couple store 100 leis until their wedding day? (The University of Hawaii has a walk-in refrigerator in the biology department!)

Late in the evening, the celebration finally came to an end and the couple retreated to a nearby motel to sleep a few hours before their early morning flight to the Big Island for a rustic (camping) honeymoon.

The prince had made reservations at the rustic but charming Pohakuloa cabins in Mauna Kea State Park and after renting a chariot at the airport they made plans to stop in the small village for food to take to the cabin.

This chariot was a luxurious Volkswagen Bug...the premium choice of transportation among the young of that generation. It did not have air-conditioning as very few chariots did on those days, but the moderate climate of the Big Island was very comfortable. With the windows open and the little "wing" window (this design did not survive the 70's) pushed out to bring air directly inside to the driver, the happy couple were off quite speedily.

The drive was pleasantly uneventful for the first 20 minutes or so. Then, as happens in real life, without warning everything changed. The prince violently started pumping the brakes, placed both hands over his face, jerked violently forward and backward, and cried out as if in agony. The princess froze in confusion and dismay as the car bumped dangerously to the side of the road and then came to a complete stop. In the immediate silence except for the cries of the prince, the thought crossed her mind that she had known this prince only three months. What had she been thinking? What did she really know about him? What did she know about his bloodline? Was he having some seizure? Did he have some family illness that she had not known?

Eventually a semi-calm returned to the prince and with water-filled eyes he turned to the princess and said, "I have been bit by something!" The left side of his upper lip was red with a small pin mark, and after some discussion, the couple determined that a bee had hit the "wing" window and had been impaled on his face.

Then the discussion turned to allergies, the tenderness of the lip tissue and the dangers of that. The Prince did not think he was allergic to bee stings, but he was beginning to feel strange and weak. There were no royal physicians for miles but they determined that a military encampment was not far ahead, and perhaps, they could persuade a medic to take a look at the damages. They reached a nurse who checked all vital signs, gave the Prince a shot, and also wrote a prescription for some allergy medicine.

The royal couple hurried to the nearby store with curatives and purchased the potent brew. The prince took a hearty dose and immediately fell asleep in the back of the chariot. The responsibility for navigating through the forests to the small cabin then fell on the delicate but not timid shoulders of the princess. She held back her tears and concerns as she made her way up the side of the volcano to the primitive--hardly palatial--honeymoon cabin.
Upon finally reaching their destination, the royal couple unpacked their food and minuscule belongings and entered the rustic cabin. Two sleeping bags were placed on the floor and both collapsed into the reality of marriage. The princess tried to gently kiss the prince good night, but even that proved too painful an exercise. As the prince drifted into a deep sleep, the princess counted both her tears and the ants crossing in a line on the floor toward her sleeping bag.

(The rest of the honeymoon ?...Well, that is another long story for another day.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Meeting the Spirit of Blogging

The ghost of Mary Lee

Many bloggers, especially those who have been posting for a number of years, have had an opportunity to meet and greet an actual person that has a blog that they have been reading. While I was fascinated by this social activity, as I would read about the event in the many other blogs, I often felt that it must be something like a blind date... exciting in the beginning but usually somewhat disappointing at the end. We all have images and expectations of these bloggers that we think we know from regular reading of their blog, but to put these expectations to the test I felt would only result in somewhat of a failure. What we see through the blog can be revealing, but we are complicated individuals and I think we only see a ghost of that person since we are not able to read any body language or hear a tone of voice in the sometimes superficial ongoing digital conversations that we have.

I had an opportunity to meet a 'blogmate' recently and was filled with a little dread in the beginning...would they like they really know m I know them?! I mean this wasn't just a lunch date, I actually invited her to spend the night. I live in an out-of-the-way place and when someone visits it means they have an hour and half drive to the activity that brought them to this area in the first place if they decide stop by my house as part of their travels.

I wrote Tammy about this potential meet-up
to voice my concerns because she meets bloggers fairly often, many of them involved in her mission in life. She encouraged me to go for it and insisted that I would not be unhappy with the meet-up at all. While I realized I should take her advice I also took it with a grain of salt knowing that Tammy is a really nice person and I cannot imagine her meeting anyone that she would not be able to adapt to or like.

So when Mary Lee Fowler emailed me that she was coming to give several book talks in my area and wanted to see if we could meet and also asking how close I was to several nearby cities and towns where she would be, I offered to drive up for a coffee or lunch. Then I threw caution to the wind and also asked if
she would like to come down my way. I explained that it was a lengthy trip and she should plan on spending the night if that could be worked into her schedule. She accepted! Of course, the closer we got to the day, I became a 'little' nervous wondering about her expectations and mine. Some of the few readers of my blog may be wondering about my maturity right now...but I am a little anal and want things to go fairly well or not at all. (ML is probably smiling at this revelation as she reads this.)

Well, of course, the meet-up went very well. We were in sync on politics and religion and didn't have any tension in talking about the things for
which we feel great passion. We also both love the out-of-doors and worked in a long morning wooded walk to a small beach, which is a great activity for someone who has been sitting in a car for over 10 hours. She had to leave by early afternoon which gave us just enough time to not get tired of each other. I cannot help but think how brave she is to drive alone almost 600 miles to meet a stranger and spend the night in their house! I don't know that I would have that fearlessness. I certainly hope she sold a lot of books.


Next post I will write about her book which I read.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some Bad Karma--Life Story #15

Fear is a really useful but also dangerous energy in this life. (The most obvious recent example of the bad things fear can do is the 100's of thousand deaths of innocent people caused by this stupid war brought about in fear of a vague enemy.) I have not been truly afraid for a long, long time and so this recent fear came to me as a strong jolt, and in hindsight, I am not all that proud of how I reacted.

Hubby was working down at the dock getting the boat cleaned and I had finished some errands in the house and was heading down to ask him some question. We were going to take some friends out on the boat that afternoon, and since we are all getting older, one of my routines is to pick up all the newly fallen broken sticks and branches in the path to the boat so that no one accidentally falls on the hilly path.

When I reached the dock and hubby emerged from the small boat cabin, I asked how things were going. He looked at me and asked me,

"Didn't you see the dead copperhead on the path?"

I, who had so carefully scanned each and every inch of that path picking up snake-sized sticks did not see anything out of the ordinary, and I told him that. He looked at me in disbelief wondering how I could have missed it. He explained that he had almost stepped on it as a bucket in his hand had blocked the view of the path and he immediately knew he would dispatch it with a large log by smashing the head. (Killing snakes is not nice even if they are poisonous, but he had a grandson who ran willy nilly to the dock recently, and therefore, we would not be able to sleep at night letting this pit viper survive.)

Hubby followed me back up the path to show me the location of the snake with the smashed head. We got there and we peered every which way. There was no snake. Hubby was sure he had crushed the small skull, and therefore, wondered if in the short ten minute span an animal had taken it away to eat. I said it might have been alive enough to crawl under one of the logs lining the path. We poked around another minute or so and then decided it had snuck away to die a slow but peaceful death. I turned to head back up the hill and as I got closer to the top I saw the fat fellow just a foot away. It lay right in the middle of the black sand path as still as a curved stick and looked none the worse for wear. If you have never seen a copperhead, it is truly a beautiful animal. It almost looks as though some artist had painted the coppery and grayish tones of color across its back with a brush.

But, this close encounter caused me to almost swallow my tongue as I leaped back to my husband's side. It had appeared as if by magic out of nowhere. It was fat and healthy and not moving---thank goodness. If it had been scurrying, I would have probably swallowed both my tongue and heart in fear. Hubby quickly grabbed another large piece of wood and pinned its head against the sand once again. I told my husband not to move while I hurried up the path to the garage for the shovel. When I returned he severed the head quickly with the edge of the shovel and we threw the beautiful animal into the river.

I realize that copperheads are not as aggressive as people commonly believe and that the freezing in place was its defence mechanism and that we should have just tossed him by stick into the woods to go on his way or walked widely around him. But neither my husband or I could bring ourselves to be so fair. We were frightened for our grandchildren and that deep primitive urge to protect our own rushed forward bringing with it adrenaline and no immediate regret as we ended the life of this innocent animal.

I am sad that I did this, but I also am honest with myself and mother nature, in that I would certainly do the same again.

(Seems to be an unusual amount of references to snakes, rubber and real, in my blog these days!! What's that all about?)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Life Story #14--Someone Else's Life

I may do windows, but I don't do lawns. For some exotic reason I have avoided mowing lawns my entire married life. We have had both sit-down and push mowers in our house-owning life, and yet, while I do not mow the lawn, I will do with enjoyment the edging with the weed-eater. The grooming of the vast lawns we have owned in our married life has been left to hubby. I think it is because I do not like engines and all the idiosyncratic illnesses that they get. Hubby is now overseas for a while and the lawn has enjoyed the cool spring and weekly soaking rains and soon was lush and thick and needed a mowing.

I called the young man in the middle of the photo above about mowing the lawn, since he is one of the few people I know in this area. We met him while getting the house built. He and his two young friends in the background of the photo helped our builder put in the retaining wall. He is out of high school and I have no idea what his plans are for the future. He does not have the motivation, the learning or the money for college. He seems to be following in the footsteps of his mentor in the foreground of this photo to work in the building industry.

He is a quiet, shy and handsome young man that brings out the mother in me in an instant. When he had finshed our huge lawn with the push mower, I paid him probably double what a lawn mower gets in this area, certainly out of guilt for his circumstances. I gave him a large box of warm strawberries I had just picked, and with a surprised pleasure, he sat on the bench under the front porch eating them and drinking the water I gave him while waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up. He enjoyed the strawberries more than any young person I had ever seen. My children like strawberries, but don't really enjoy them with the enthusiasm this fellow had. I hadn't washed them and told him that even though they were organic, they probably had some dirt on them. This did not defeat his pleasure in any way.

Now for the rest of the story. Shortly after that picture above was taken, this young man along with the two boys in the photo and another boy not shown, were involved in a tragic car accident. There had been alcohol and teenage carelessness in the mix. Fortunately, no other car was involved. Among the four young men in this accident one died, one is now a paraplegic and one is in jail for drunken driving. This young man who mows my lawn escaped with his life 'intact' but forever changed and is now slowly piecing his spirit together.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Being Dishonest with Yourself

Onward and Upward

For a number of months, if not a number of years, I have imagined my first day of retirement. I kept thinking that the very first thing I would do would be pretty much nothing for a long time. Remember the movie (and book) The Da Vinci Code? The first victim uses the symbol of Vitruvian Man as his clue upon his death. I have always been intrigued by that image created by "
the Roman architect Vitruvius. Vitruvius, a proponent of the Sacred Geometry of Pythagoras, designed temples based on the proportions of the human body, believing them to be perfect." It seems to represent Mankind's way of trying to merge with the 'imperfect' biology of the planet. In some way, that has been my nemesis...always trying to get to that level of perfection that brings peace. This is why I need to work on meditation, exercise, that I find the inner perfection that is the only real perfection.

For some reason that symbol has floated in my mind for years --- this was one of the images NASA sent into outer space to identify mankind to the aliens. It is a mathematical representation of mankind, but to me it represents the essence of the human being with that full frontal, open armed 'take me as I am' stance.

I kept thinking I would like to take a bare space on the floor of my house the very first morning and actually lay down stark naked in exactly that position with a sort of yoga attitude and "reach" for my potential once I had acquired my 'retirement freedom.' I imagined this numerous times...but, I didn't do it. Maybe because I had done it in my mind so many times. I don't know.

I do know, that once you have free direction and lots of free time, you are who you are and will end up doing what your true self tells you to do. I am a busy bee. I can only be happy when surrounded by organization. The first day I was on my feet all day getting my closet in order. I had brought down the winter clothes last month and they remained hung or piled in arbitrary fashion. I separated clothes to be pressed from those to be mended. I found that shoes were everywhere and I threw many out. My plastic bags of shampoos, creams, etc. that I had stored at my daughters house added to the large collection of stuff I had already put in various containers here at the house. Living in two places means you forget what you have and end up with too much stuff everywhere. I cleaned out the medicine drawers and threw away hundreds of dollars of expired concoctions and remedies.

At the end of this long day of lifting and sorting, I 'rewarded' myself by cleaning all of my jewelry. I have a small collection of silver necklaces and earrings that have not been polished in ages. I washed the pearls and other natural stones. I sorted out the amber. I do not own any valuable jewelry---diamonds, rubies, gold, etc...but have a number of pieces acquired over the years of natural stones as reminders of trips, etc. I took a trip down memory lane with each of the pieces.

Then I started the first of the laundry loads. As the end of a beautiful spring day eased in, I poured a glass of wine and headed out to my lovely deck to look at the water through the 'green mansions.' Hubby and I were amazed at how lucky we are at this time in our life and pray that this luck holds.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Little House Life Story #13

Living on a remote island in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean requires depending on your resourcefulness almost all the time. The stores in Micronesia were very similar to the old-fashioned one-stop store in "Little House on the Prairie." You could buy almost everything in one of these stores, but there wasn't much of anything at any one time.

There were a few canned goods, a few types of hardware, a little fresh produce. One had to be very resourceful to identify what was useful. You could never predict what you might find in the store. But, interestingly enough, due to the proximity to Asia and India there were bolts and bolts of summer fabric: fabric of all types, colors and weaves. Fabric did not spoil or damage easily on the long boat ride to Guam and the trans-shipment to Palau. There was always a selection of colorful bolts to peruse. If you could sew, you could fill your days with making things.

In one of my recent blogs I mentioned how I made
clothes for my baby girl out of fabric scraps. Well I pretty much had to sew everything I wanted out of these tropical patterns. The photo above shows a cover that I made for my bamboo furniture in our little apartment when the original fabric wore out. I am sure that I found this quite the interior design solution.

If you keep reading, you will notice that the fabrics in the photo below are the same as the one on my baby girls outfit. This is a photo of the bedroom. Yes, the bedroom! I must have loved the pattern. I am sure that I thought it was very stylish and a wonderful example of creative interior decorating.

I must have had absolutely no taste after years of living on a remote tropical island. Geeese!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Three Day Weekend

Hubby is in Korea for a month or so and I am alone (except for noisy and nice contractors finishing the basement) at the house on the weekends. It is VERY odd being able to do anything I want, eat anything I want, watch anything I want for days...a VERY odd feeling.

During this wonderful respite I decided that it was time for another "Lifestory" blog. I was going through old slides and albums for ideas and then came across this photo of my husband and some islanders during one of his many island hopping jaunts when we lived in Micronesia.

I had to scan and post this because the picture tells a story or two if you look closely---no, my hubby is not gay---he is the most unselfconscious, unpretentious person I know and is totally relaxed with his body. Instead, look at the two island boys and imagine what they are thinking and saying. I am sure they had never seen reef shoes. Then look at how the other islander is dressed and also his body language. A thousand words in this photo, right?