The New Guy

I’m not, as a rule, inclined to tell the world a whole lot about my private life.  Maybe largely because I don’t have a whole lot of “private” stuff going on. And what there is mostly has to do with doctors. Doctors of all sorts.  From my teeth to my toes, I have doctors who know a great deal more about me than I do.

But a new male has come into my life, and I need to chat about him.

First the obvious stuff. He’s quite good looking – I think. Not that that is the most important thing I look for, but when it comes with the package, it is a nice bonus. He has wonderfully thick hair – dark over all but with a streak of gold that (almost) any woman would pay a fortune for…it is dramatic without being bold.

And his eyes…those beautiful eyes, have reflected that golden streak.  They are dark and – yes – soulful.

I admit I wish he were a bit more athletic looking.  Not that that is essential, but it would be nice if he could be a bit more intimidating when we want to take romantic walks by a little stream we have discovered, and we are the only ones there – except for the occasional threatening presence of another couple, either one of whom is bigger and tougher looking than both of us.

But’s get back to accentuating the positive.

My companion is almost intuitive when it comes to my moods.  Not that I am given to giant, temperamental tantrums or anything. NO.  He picks up o the little things.  The paper cut kind of things that happen everyday and go unnoticed by the world.  He will take the time to sit quietly with me if I need to cry and rejoice when I need someone to share a wonderful moment.

The big red flag for me is that I see a growing sense of “She’s my girl” in his approach to others. He has begun to resent anyone who gets too close to me, and, since I have many friends of both sexes who are big kissers and huggers, this is becoming awkward.

I guess what I really need to tell you is this:  If you are coming to visit, just call ahead will you, and I will put Milo into his crate until you are settled and he has accepted you.

In case you are a breed snob, Milo is a Yorkshire Terrier.  Not a Teacup Terrier, but more of a  TEAPOT.  I love him and he loves me.

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A Special Night? Yep. But Why?

I went to dinner the other evening with three friends.  It was a vey normal kind of evening out.  TWO new friends.  Many new stories.  Even a relatively new restaurant.  But when I thought about it, it seemed outstanding.

It wasn’t the food, which was quite nice, but not startlingly so.  Or the conversation.  We bashed Trump for a while but decided we shouldn’t let that wreck the night so we stopped. It certainly wasn’t the drinks. I had a very nice white wine spritzer but what I really wanted was a Crown Royal on rocks, but that’s not allowed.  Doctor’s orders you know.

No, it wasn’t any of those obvious things.   Maybe it was what was missing. For example, there was no loud music — which I hate with a passion – when it is served with dinner.  No. No.  That wasn’t it.

Deep thought here.

Then there it was…sitting on my table. Defiently staring me in the face.

THE CELL PHONE.

During the entire evening no one reached for his or her cell phone.  No one said “Excuse me a minute, I have to take this” and then proceeded to talk for ten minutes to an unknown (to the rest of us) friend.

That was it!  The bloody cell phone didn’t come to our party!

I don’t believe I had really thought out just how much I hate it when that happens. Think about it.  You are having what seems to be a lively conversation when one of your companions opts to interrupt with a lengthy, and, apparently much more interesting exchange than your own, with an unseen, and uninvited guest.

I think lovingly of the days of old when the waiter would come to the table to announce that you had a call waiting.  Everyone knew it had to be important.  Otherwise no one would even consider interrupting an occasion like dinner out – with friends. And even more importantly, no one would accept a call that was less than a life and death situation.

Maybe restaurants could introduce a No Cell Phones During Dinner policy, the way they do in theaters.

I suggested that once – but only once – to a group of convivial, young friends. One of them looked at me as if I had suddenly become a dangerous new species.

“No phones?” she said, her eyes filling with horror at the thought.

“No phones. Just four good friends talking to each other instead of having to sit there, fiddling with our food while one of us chats on the phone with someone from the office whom he had just left an hour ago.

The woman looked at me, rather confused.  “Well, when you say it like that,” she said, “it sounds – well – rude.”

“By god I think you’ve got it,” I said in my best Professor “enry ‘iggins voice.”

And we danced around the room.

OUT, OUT DAMNED FLY

Okay.  Just don’t try to tell me that the average life of a Housefly is 28 days!  I know better. I have been haunted and taunted by two of the evil species for – oh it must be at least a month!

It all began innocently enough.

I woke up one pleasant California morning, to a perfect (I thought) day.  The sky was blue and clear, the winds just enough to ruffle the trees.  The sounds of birds and dogs and an occasional siren wafted across the lawn. I opened the door to welcome all of that into my Tiny House.

First thing to ripple through the door was the aroma of fresh made coffee, followed by the scent of roses in the air.  (Scratch that.  I didn’t really stop to smell the roses.)  But then a new sound, a low buzzy kind of irritating noise reached me…and in flew Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the guise of Houseflies.

Even their entrance was irksome. They didn’t slip thru subtly. No.  They buzzed and circled and gyrated in a most ostentatious manner. They whirled about my head and aimed right for the (open) jelly jar.

“Ah ha!” said I to me. “Gotcha1” and I slammed the lid on.

But of course I didn’t. “Gotcha.” Or hadn’t.  Whatever. I missed.

And so began a long, challenging and frustrating war.

On the first day of battle I discovered that I had no fly swatters in my Tiny House…so I chased the little monsters with folded up newspapers. On the second day I visited Walmart and bought a fly swatter….and on the third day, I bought five so that wherever and whenever they landed, I was within reach of a weapon. I swatted and swung and I skulked around the house, but they were always there. I felt like a character in a Hitchcock movie being driven mad by invaders.

Friends began to worry for my sanity, I think.  Apparently they believed that if they said “But Betty, those can’t be the same flies” often enough I would believe them.  But they were wrong.  I recognized my enemies and I hated them.

By this time it was definitely personal.

Then one morning I woke up as usual, grabbed one of the fly swatters and opened the door…sure enough, in they flew. I admit I snapped.  I whirled and twirled around that house like a mad woman, but they eluded me.  I lost track of them for a while and thought, perhaps, they had given up.

But no!  There, on my desk lay my yellow fly swatter. And there, too, were Jekyll and Hyde, resting luxuriously on said weapon.  I grabbed the nearest swatter – the red one as I remember – and crept quietly up behind them.

I paused.  I studied. I took a practice swing and then slammed my bright red swatter down on the pale, weak yellow one.  It clattered to the floor, followed by a cup which fell off the desk from the vibration.

Then there was a glorious moment when I realized I didn’t hear that buzz.  And then I did.  Jekyll and Hyde rose like Phoenix from the debris and flew gracefully out the open door.

Jekyll gave me the one wing salute as they left.

*********************       For those of you who have not met my newest favorite pet….Let me introduce Milo, the Wonder Dog…..Milo is the one on the right…the purple pup to HIS right is Lavender…Milo has already acknowledged that Lavender is a scent…not a toy.

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Sailing…Sailing

Sailing, sailing over the pounding main

For many a stormy wind shall blow

When Jack comes back again.

That once-upon-a-time famous sea chanty keeps running through my head when I think about the lovely short cruise I just came back from.

I’m not at all certain why this should be so, since there were no stormy seas, and I haven’t a clue as to what constitutes a main…pounding or not.

The trip was inspired by a whole lot of little irritants. Nothing big, but I was angry at a whole lot of little things. Little things like a paper cut. I really HATE paper cuts.  They hurt like bloody hell for at least five minutes, but there is no one waiting in the wings to rain sympathy on you for them.

“It’s a PAPER cut for god’s sake, you didn’t break a leg!” is the most likely reaction.  And you notice a bit of impatience hidden right below the phony smile and clenched teeth.In hindsight I think I noticed the lessoning of sympathy with my …bad sign here, but the word that comes to mind is…“whining.”

Truth be told, I NEVER WHINE. Bitch a bit? Maybe. But I refuse to admit to whining. However, if you took a poll of the family, you might find a growing impatience among my audience.

There was the build-up:

“Hey, Mom, look. Jay found a four day cruise. Really inexpensive.” I heard that from every angle, and each time it was said with greater fervor.  So finally I relented.

I took the four day cruise and they were all content. It was long enough for the worst paper cut to heal, but short enough that I didn’t feel that they were looking for a more permanent fix.

So, back to the chanty.

No stormy seas, just a gentle sway and beautiful scenery and movies and live music.and demonstrations like vegetable carving and napkin rolling. I didn’t go to the napkin rolling this time. I did that once and proudly showed off a candle design that  I found very admirable.  It was much later that two of my group told me there was a great deal of snickering going on about that “candle.”  It looked, I was told, like a piece of the male anatomy.

And that, my friends is when the “stormy seas” came flooding in.

I shunned them. And if you think they weren’t shaken by that…You don’t know Jack.

 

 

 

HELP

HELP!

Help is something we all need. Sometimes. But accepting help is kind of difficult for most of us. We really do like to picture ourselves as fairly self reliant – the one who is there when friends need us even if they don’t have the good sense to ask.

Bad health is inclined to interrupt our pictures of our own independence and frequently reduce us to having to accept help. I have always tried to give help gracefully and now try to take it gratefully.

It isn’t easy.

However…with age is supposed to come wisdom, and I have had to learn about asking.  Actually, I’m getting rather better at it than I ever expected.

The center of a lot of my pleas for aid is, surprisingly, not my health, but my cell phone. Actually I have a real love/hate relationship with my cell phone.  Mostly hate, because it does all kinds of things I don’t believe I’ve ask of it…although most of the people I invite to race to my aid suggest that I have somehow, someway, managed to hit every wrong button in the damn book.

At 93, my interaction with millennials outside my family, is limited. I can listen to a whole conversation between two of them and never understand a word.  Almost everything they do is noisy and, with the obvious exception of Hamilton, the joy of RAP escapes me.

BUT…when I am standing in front of Target, trying to summon an UBER or a LYFT and nothing I do seems to work, millennials are my new best friends.

I’m inclined to panic when I can’t get the freaking phone to do anything sensible.  But I noticed, very quickly, that every young person on the street is cell phone efficient. A young, tech-savvy person would certainly be A…if not THEreasonable solution to my cell phone dilemmas.

I target my millennials with care.  I noticed that this group seems to include both men and women pushing babies in prams. Asking one of them for help might be too much to handle, so I don’t ask.

The first time I realized that I needed help, I studied the passing throngs, search for one solitary young person who looked friendly. It took a while.  Not that they looked UN-friendly, it’s just that they were already on their own cell phones, having a perfectly happy time  chatting.

I decided that I would ask a young male person, based on my own experience that secretly, most men enjoy the role of super hero. It took a while.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for in this unknown savior, but I felt sure I would know him when I saw him.

I did!

I would have missed him except that he was singing as he walked by. I didn’t know the song but it was music to my ears. I called out to him. He stopped and I held out my phone and said, “Can you help me?”

And smiling, he said “Yes Ma’am.  What do you need?”

It was that easy.

I handed him the phone and told him I needed to call LYFT. He held out the phone so I could enter my password.  I started to tell him what it was and he stopped me, giving me a very grave lecture on the need to NOT tell people my password.

I’m not a whole lot better with the phone than I used to be, but I am getting to know a whole bunch of VERY nice millennials.

 

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A FANCY BLOG

I haven¹t written much about the death of my well much loved dog, Boy, Mostly because I¹m not sure what to say – or even how much I can say before the tears start to blur the words. I¹m not a big crier by nature, but losing Boy was hard to take. I try not to dwell on him, but he was special.  As one friend wrote of him:

“I loved Boy and I don¹t like dogs as a rule. I always felt that he was happy to see me when I came to visit.  I¹m not sure that this is possible, but I felt like he was smiling at me.”

For Boy, it was possible.

But this Blog is not an elegy.  Boy has moved on.  It was kind of a race between us – who would die first and who would be left to grieve. I want to believe that he is better off where he waits for me now than he would have been if I left him. But the huge hole he left in my heart. While it cannot be filled, it had to be dealt with, and so, with the advice and counsel of Jay, a sympathetic friend and major dog lover, ­ I visited a rescue place that specialized in mostly small dogs.

There were many, many, adorable little dogs Some frisky, and almost all adorable.  Of course, once there, I was swamped by an overwhelming urge to bring them all home with me. Is there any dog not in need of love?

My eyes suddenly fell on one dog. A not very pretty dog I admit, but with a sporty little under-bite and blessed with soulful eyes that seemed to follow me as I walked around the room, there was something about her. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. She was older than most of the other, more eager dogs, but even in dog years she was not as old as me. And I admit this reluctantly, I have always had this shallow need to have a beautiful pup that passersby would stop and admire as I walked by.

So I kept looking.

There was an adorable, frisky little curly haired guy that danced all around me for a couple of minutes, but then he fixated on Jay,  Jay already had his adoring brood, so I continued my search.

But there was, is, something about the sad looking old girl. who sat contentedly in the arms of one of the foster folks who kept drawing me back. Every time I glanced her way, I saw staring at me imploringly with her big brown eyes.

I asked the foster mom, who obviously loved the dog, if I could hold the little girl.

I knew it would happen.  I knew that once I held her I wouldn¹t, couldn¹t, let go.

And I was right!

And that something I couldn’t put my finger on? I realized right away what that something was. This dog needed me.  Maybe even more than I needed her.

I call her Fancy  after a  character in one of my daughter¹s books. That Fancy is a huge Buzzard with a broken wing who turned out to be one of the book¹s most popular characters.

Fancy is home with me now.  She is smart. I¹s been only a week, but she has settled in to the rhythms of the Tiny House.  She has almost mastered the idea of not wetting on the outdoor carpet although she obviously prefers it to the back garden.  She recognizes me as the source of food and fluffy pillows on which to sleep at night, and I have so far NOT learned to insist she stay in her own bed instead of mine.

She still has her jaunty under-bite, and her body is a bit too long for her head.

FANCY She is still not the prettiest girl in town.  But she¹s a great cuddler and she sleeps late.

She¹s my girl and I love her and she loves me.

And when you get right down to it – that¹s what¹s important.

I know my Boy would be happy for us.

 

You Said What?!

I am a chatty person. I talk a lot – to anyone and everyone. My kids used to make bets on how long it would take me to strike up a conversation in the grocery line. My kids are grown, but I’m still talking in line.

         Some of my new best listeners are UBER and LYFT drivers, who are sort of a collective captive audience since they are locked into their seats.  You, the passenger, is pretty much in charge of not only where you’re going, but where the conversation goes, as well.

You get to pick whether you prefer to sit in the front like a buddy, or ride more regally in the back, with the driver as your own personal chauffeur – if only briefly.  Personally, I usually opt to sit up front because I like to talk…and even—sometimes, to listen.

         I’ve had more male than female drivers, but that’s sort of expected…there are, undoubtedly fewer women opting to drive strangers around town than there are men.  Now before you begin looking for a way you can make that in to a sexist remark…it isn’t…although I have come to some conclusions about the better drivers. 

Don’t ask. 

Anyway.

The other day I had a most unusual, and fascinating ride.  The driver was a very nice, polite young man, meaning he was happy for me to sit in the passenger seat, and off we went. I have discovered that there are very few drivers who plan on making it their career, so I started the conversation by asking what he wanted to be when he wasn’t being a driver. 

Not surprisingly, in this town, there are a lot of singing, writing, joke telling show business people using the driving gig to see them through to their big SHOW BUSINESS break.

Steve was no exception.  He really is a songwriter he said…words and music.  He said he could tell by the way I got into the car and just starting talking that I was probably a show business person, too.  I took it as a compliment and admitted that I was, and most of my family was, indeed, show business people.

He seemed pretty dedicated to his songwriting…and singing. I told him about singing at Oil Can Harry’s and that he should get over there and be heard.  I told him about the friendly audience and the really good and not so good singers who showed up to share the joy of music.

And then, SURPRISE! He asked if I’d like to hear some of his stuff.

I had the feeling that Steve was not going to be playing me The Great American Songbook. But maybe I could expand my horizons. So I said yes.  And he played some for me.

Okay, here is where life got a bit complicated.

I believe that what he played was Rap.  I’m not certain.  The only rap that I ever heard, understood and reveled in, was ‘Hamilton, in a theater, not a Prius.  And even that required me to read a marvelous, but lengthy book explaining it all. I really tried to understand what was going on.  Honestly.  I wanted to say something knowledgeable. 

But – like what?

I know that there is a whole language going on out there that I don’t know anything about. I began to sweat.  “Come on Betty.” I said to me. “You know thousands of word. You don’t have one word to fit this situation?”

And then it hit me. 

“DOPE!”

It is a word I came across recently…and I believe it means Great! 

Or at least VERY good.

I could say, “That is really Dope.” 

Couldn’t I?  

But suppose I’m wrong about it?  Suppose “Dope!” turns out to mean something else entirely.  I didn’t want to hurt Steve’s feeling. 

But I had to say something.

What I ended up saying was – “Oh!  Wow!  We’re here.”  You just help me get these packages out of the car.  I can take them from there.”

Then I managed…”Hey!  YOU KNOW, YOUR MUSIC ISN’T MY MUSIC BUT – GOOD FOR YOU.  And don’t forget about Oil Can’s.”

He drove off, apparently content while I struggled with the bags I would, under more normal circumstances, have expected him to help me get to the door…

“DOPE!” I said to me.

And I knew it was totally correct usage.