Ode to David Traub

david and jay for blogIt’s been a little over a year since they told me.

“David is dead,”  they said.  But in my hospital bed, drunk on the pain killers and whatever else it was doctors were using to keep ME alive, I felt nothing.  I remember looking from the face of my son John who had said the words, to Ron who was watching, warily, wondering if I could take it, to Jay, David’s beloved husband and my dear friend, who looked as empty as I felt.

Ultimately the emptiness was replaced with pain and pain with fury.

It wasn’t fair!  I should have been there!  What kind of a God would take David away from me without giving me a chance to say goodbye?

And then one quiet evening, Jay knocked on my door.  He didn’t say anything – or at least that’s how I remember it.  He just held out a lovely card,  and smiled.

I took it and read it and then I cried

God, whoever and whatever he means to you, HAD given me my chance to tell David I loved him.

And I had used it as well as I could.  I wrote it down.  In RED ink.  Because everyone knows that things written in red are VERY important.

It was about 10years old this card, but if I were writing to him today, the message would be the same.

Dear David

I want so much to write something really clever here.  I want it to say how much I appreciate having you in my life and how aware I am of all you do for me. – so quietly, so selflessly.

You make it so easy to accept help that one might take it for granted.  And I do sometime.  But I don’t mean to.  Ever!

I am forever aware that you have brought something kind and wonderful to my world,  You make it possible for me to believe there is still grace in the world.

In the past, when I would do something nice for someone, I frequently felt unappreciated.  Then someone would say to me, “What goes around comes around.”  Personally I felt you had to   do good things because you want to – or have to – to live with yourself.

Then you arrived in my life – and if you are my payback, I won the jackpot.

Thank you so much for all of that.

I love you dearly.

Betty.

AMEN

Bowling with Watermelon

 

The old adage “If someone gives you lemons, make lemonade” makes a lot of sense.  But God didn’t give me a lemon. He gave me a watermelon. From Ralph’s.

There are many, deceptively easy things you have to do before loading one of those green beauties into you cart. 

For example: I have watched people – usually men people –  attack the problem. 

First they study the display and try to figure out just how to get to that third melon from the left without sending the entire display flying and splattering over the store.

Then, satisfied that they can do it if they are careful, they make their move. They manage to get the thing up so they can sniff at it, pound on it, and listen for a sound I don’t hear. If there is a god, the first one is the charm, otherwise, they do the whole damn thing again.

But there is an easier way.  Find someone who works at the store, preferably in the Fruit and Vegetable department, and ask his expert opinion.  Most people, and again I say men people, are eager and willing to display their expertise in such matters. If you think about it, you are really doing him a favor by offering him an opportunity to show off under the guise of being helpful. I don’t actually see many Fruit and Vegetable women-experts, so I have not had to formulate a theory about them.

Sticking to men.

Anyway.

It took a few minutes, but I did find a very helpful, and possibly even more beautiful than the watermelons, young man who did all of that pounding and listening, and placing of watermelon into my cart, for me.

Checking out was easy.  The cashier and her assistant moved all the groceries from my cart and repackaged them for the trip to my car.  

The helper even insisted on taking the trip with me.  She placed the bags, heavy laden though they were, into my car and I drove home.

Up to this time I hadn’t even touched that watermelon. But now, alone in my driveway, It was all up to me.

Okay.  It WAS a thing of beauty.  Shiny and bright and tremendously green.  But it was also on the floor of my car, and when I tried to lift it, I discovered something.  The freaking thing must weigh 30 pounds. I wanted to cry.  But I don’t approve of crying.

This is where having my kind of mind comes in handy.

I keep, on the side of my driveway, a cart for just this purpose: to carry things from the car to the door.  So all I really had to do at this point was shove the thing into the cart.

Unfortunately, it didn’t shove.

Now it was MY turn to study the problem mentally.

GOT IT!

I opened the car door as wide as I could, then got back in the driver’s seat and kicked the watermen – fairy hard.  Hard enough to get it through the door, so it fell right into the cart.

YEA Me!

I got out, grabbed the handle and dragged the cart up to the doorstep.

The. Doorstep. I forgot to plan on the doorstep.

But I’m not down yet! 

I opened yet another door, this time into my tiny House.  Ahead of me lay a surprisingly long corridor.  Long for a Tiny House that is.  But it IS straight and it has very little wobble room.  

Using the cart handle as a lever, I tipped the cart up, onto the step and propelled the watermelon straight down to the kitchen. Like bowling. With a green ball.

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Now, all I had to do was get it off the floor and into the sink.  

Okay?  No.  Not okay.  It still weighed 50 pounds.    I know I said it weighed 30 pounds, but that was hours ago.  It was now 50. 

Closer to fury than tears, we challenged each other. My house.  My rules.

I decided to slice the thing in half before even trying to get it up off the ground. I grabbed a large serrated knife and plunged it directly into the heart of the watermelon.

Now all I had to do was slice!  I stood up and gave the knife its first twist. It did nothing.  I tried again…Nope.  So I pulled it out.  Ooops.  No I didn’t. It would’t move.

Now I was outnumbered.  I had TWO enemies.  The watermelon AND the serrated knife.

United they stood.

Alone I fell

Stay Calm and  Carry on.

I have a plan. 

I will sit here and wait for Jay.

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Forget Me Not…Forget It!

Every time I mention one of those dreadful “Senior Moments” that seem to dog very day of my now rather ancient world, some well meaning, but clueless friend attempts to sooths me by smiling gently in my direction and saying,…”Don’t worry about it. I have those all the time and I’m only 59.”

Actually folks 59 or 120, the fact that you have senior moments too is of little or no comfort to me.

I don’t think I’ve missed any. The dash in to the kitchen. The sudden stop when I realize I have no idea why I’m there until I smell the burning eggs and toast that was supposed to be breakfast.

The lost keys that I know I put on their hanger in the kitchen but which have mysteriously migrated to – who knows where.

I have, on too many occasions, jumped in to my car ready to go…but I can’t recall where I was headed. Oh wait. Ralph’s. But why? I went to Ralphs last night. So I head back to the house and get ready do the laundry. Which reminds me of why I was going to Ralph’s. I’m out of…something. Laundry soap. No. Fabric softener. Nope. Sock clips…Nope. Bought those last week.

Got it. I want to wear the red dress tomorrow and I have to wash it in especially gentle soap and cold water because it runs and I have to wash it separately.

Back to the car. Didn’t bring the keys. And I forgot that I gave the red dress to the local thrift shop on Thursday

You getting the idea?

I have tried many times to “get organized.” I have had serious conversations with me about it. I have bought books and magazines that assure me that getting organized is really child’s play And FUN!

Those people lie. ORGANIZING ONES SELF IS NO FUN AT ALL!

You know those heavy duty magnetized notebooks people hang on the fridge? I have three of them…all with pens attached.. One is for everyday shopping, one for appointments – social, medical, whatever. And the third one…wait. What? It’ll come to me.

The thing is, that in order for those to do You any good at all, you are required to read thEm. Not just occasionally, but every freaking day.

Take last week for example. I forgot to check the social notebook, and a former friend gave up on me just because I forgot to meet her at Monty’s for Happy Hour. Incidentally, I think she ought to thank me – a lot. She got happy with a really nice guy she met while waiting for me.

And now to the newest and probably most annoying of Senior Moments.

Did I or did I not take the morning pills…or,for that matter, the pills from the night before? It isn’t that the pills are not organized. They rest snuggly in their brightly colored plastic cases, all neatly labeled by day and, if necessary, time limitations.

You know about time limitations on medicines…take this one two hours before or six hours after eating, Which, of course brings you into direct conflict with the pink one which has to be taken six hours before or two hours after…or something like that. Come on world…most of us are assigned fifteen pills a day, each with its own rules.

I swear to you. I take all of those damned pills every day. I am more faithful than Big Ben in my dedication to the tyranny of the pill box. And yet…and yet…too many days those little square containers are refilling themselves and it is left to me to figure out should I take a chance on over or under dosing by taking them again?

“It is”, as the King of Siam once said, “A PUZZLEMENT.”

A Bit of a Rant

It started about three months ago.  I was walking through Northridge Mall when I noticed a rather dispirited woman of ­ I’m guessing here about 50. She’d watch as people approached her area, then, rather apologetically I thought, approach her selected victim and begin her conversation.  Mostly the Chosen Ones listened for just a few moments, then shake their heads “NO” and move on.

It only took a few minutes to realize that she was doing a survey of some sort and wasn’t great at it. Maybe it was the hang-dog look or the built-in apology that did it, but no one was accepting that woman’s invitation to an interview. Having never learned to mind my own business, I headed toward her. She caught my eye and smiled, then asked me if I’d mind answering a few question for a survey on god only knows what.  I never heard that part. But I hastened to assure her that I would be delighted to take her survey. So we sat at a nearby table, obviously put there for just that purpose and she showed me a three page questionnaire.  It was more than I’d planned for but ­ well, I DID volunteer so I would stay the course.  And I did.

For 20 really boring minutes I answered questions about family, friends, style choices, food fetishes etc.  And then she asked me to accompany her into the office behind us where there would be a short film playing. UGH!  But sure. First she said, I would have to sign some papers.  “You know,” she said, “you agree to speak on the subject at hand and,” here she giggled a bit nervously and said “you know, like promise not to sue or anything.” “Sure,” I said again.  “What do you want me to sign?” She handed me the form.  I read it, then read it. “I’m sorry,” I said.  “But I’m too old.”  She looked alarmed, then embarrassed. “You’re over 75?” she said. “Way over,” I said and handed the papers back to her.

There were apologies exchanged on both sides.  I apologized for wasting her time and she for wasting mine. I smiled at her, she smiled at me and I turned to leave.  I mean, after all, it wasn’t her fault I was old.  But then it wasn’t mine either.  I think it has to do with better living through chemistry, right? Here, in this wonderful country we have devoted billions and billions of dollars to the study and development of ways to keep people alive way beyond the current expectations.  And we are wildly successful at it. BUT….BUT?  Yes. But what is it we are supposed to DO with all this extra time. AH! There’s the rub. By this time I was depressing myself so I decided to make a small detour to a nearby restaurant where I knew there was a full bar.  Not that I needed a full bar. I wasn’t THAT depressed.  But one nice cold margarita ­ no salt please ­ would be good company right now. So now I am at the bar.  The drink is doing its part to cheer me up but I seem to be digging myself into deeper and deeper holes. Does any designer consider the ³mature² market when designing clothes?  No on I’ve seen.  Women’s dresses are short and perky, great look for a 17 year old.  And according to Vanity Fair, men are going in for the slim – straight leg pants that do nothing to flatter any but the models chosen to show them off. There isn’t an extra inch for that beer belly that just seems to happen to most guys.

So obviously Fashion isn’t my world anymore, but how about entertainment? I like funny movies.  But I need one that doesn’t represent itself as “A great new raunchy fun fest ­ not for sensitive ears.” Okay guys, my ears are not that sensitive, but if you can’t come up with a joke that doesn’t consider  four letter words as the world’s best joke line, then it’s not for me and not for a whole lot of people apparently according to what’s happening in theaters today ­ as in THEY ARE NOT FULL! Now here’s the thing.  I don’t expect a world to age with me.  I firmly believe that kids need  their own entertainment and clothes and strange games that require no interaction with others.  I’m not asking anyone to rethink fashion or fast foods. But there IS a very large market out there, made up of men and women over 60, who have money to spend and brains that still function and ideas that have yet to be explored. I think there are jobs that older people can fill and music that we can dance to and sing along wit, and, with any luck at all, lyrics that matter enough that the vocalists will remember them because they are clever, or romantic or amusing.  Just think of that concept.  Singing words that mean something. And that you sing without reading from a Smart phone as you sing them. All of these things are pushing at me.  It is something I noticed many years ago but not until after I had outgrown being so much smarter than all the men and women who were older than I was at the time. In our rush to be forever young, we forgot to figure out what to do with folks who aren’t  And, as far as I can see, we continue to invent new ways to make it worse.

Plastic Surgery is a source of worry ­ and some amusement ­ to me.  I remember the first time I noticed this particular effect.  I was in a room with three young women.  I’d guess median age was about 30.  Luckily they had all dyed their hair different colors so I could tell them apart, but they all had the same doctor so their noses matched.  They all had DDD breasts above 20 inch waists.  They all had floppy hairdos which each of them managed to toss with exactly the same motion. I watched them in some confusion and then I realized what was bugging me. They were all the same person and we only really need one. If that. Joan Rivers was famous for things she’d had remodeled, someone once said that her face was stretched so tight that when she sat down her mouth opened.  I think that might have been an exaggeration.   Also believe it might was Joan who said it. The thing is, we need to get over thinking that there is an option.  People are going to age.  Their talents and abilities are going to change.  But if we are gong to continue to make life beyond a hundred a daily occurrence, then let’s start giving some thought to what we are going to do with us elders, stead of turning us in to liabilities. No man or woman who has grown accustomed to doing things for him or herself is going to rejoice in the role of dependent.  Nor do we, on the whole, think that moving in to another woman’s home is a splendid solution to much of anything.

Oh, right here’s one more thing.  Auto insurance.  I think it should be illegal for companies to charge by years.  I believe that, after age 75, older drives should be tested each year to make sure their reflexes are still quick, that they can see well enough to identify other moving objects. That sort of thing.  Not a written test.  Instead, one where they go one on one with a qualified instructor.  If they fail, they fail, but if they pass, I believe older drivers should receive

the same rates as anyone on the road.

There’s more, but I’m guessing you’ve got the point by now.  If not…

WAIT A FEW YEARS, IT’LL COME TO YOU

EGGS

I have faced Facebook with its prying question: “What’s on your mind?” and I have come up with very little. But this morning, I am rather totally involved in a question that has haunted me through a great deal of my very, very, very long life.

HOW THE HELL DO YOU PEEL A HARD COOKED EGG WITHOUT PITTING DEEP HOLES IN THE WHITE?

I have read up on this subject frequently. I have followed several hundred suggestions from friends, relatives and people I believe thought up their answers just to watch me go crazy

Okay, why do I care this much about eggs, you may ask. And I will tell you that I am very well thought of at parties where you bring something for the table. I make really fine hard cooked eggs and they are beautiful every single time.

But it is never as easy as it looks.

I have been told that eggs that are a little bit older are more amenable to giving up their skin. So I drive to Ralph’s and search for the oldest eggs I can find. Let me hurry to assure any Ralph devotees that they are perfectly safe, none of those cartons are anywhere near a “buy by this date” notice.

Anyway, I drive home with my eggs, heat them to perfection and start to peel them . Like all eggs, these are deceptive. The first few simply slide out of their skin and you proceed , totally disarmed, to try another – which fights you tooth and nail or cluck and feather.. No more Mr. Nice Egg. No more sliding.. It is a disaster. That slimy film that fits so tightly around the egg is not about to give up easily. The eggs have joined a protest, and, until you’ve seen eggs united to frustrate the chef you have not seen a real protest.

However, guests are waiting to admire your presentation so you stiffen your resolve, go buy more eggs and start over. Sooner or later you WILL accomplish the perfect egg.

Just not today.

Frustrated, you talk to a friend who suggests that somehow or other you managed to confuse old with young. Very young eggs you are told, are eager to give up their shell for your pleasure.

Never one to doubt a friend, you go back to Ralph’s in search of the freshest eggs. To be certain you get the youngest additions, you go right up to the staff person who is filling out the egg section and he hands you a carton marked JUMBO and assures you they are exactly what you need. And how come he’s so sure of that? HIS MOTHER TOLD HIM SO, and she never had ANY problem.

I hope to avoid that helpful young man because I don’t want to be the one to tell him HIS MOTHER LIED!

Since these monumental failures, I have tried peeling the eggs while running hot water over them, but some Girl Scout type got on my back because I was wasting water. “Besides,” she said, “It’s while they are under COLD water.” I stopped immediately, not because she said to, but rather because it didn’t work. Frankly, I would have drained a whole damn reservoir if it had.

Not one to accept defeat gracefully,  I consulted my favorite Guru and mighty philosopher, my nephew, Dom Bonaduce and he said, “If at first you don’t succeed, do something easier. “

I looked at the bowl filled with yet to be shelled eggs. I sighed, picked up one and started over. But this time with the idea of something simpler. Egg Salad! You can chip the living daylights out of the whites and no one will know that wasn’t your original plan.

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Regarde! The beginning of a new, easier career. Queen of the Egg Salad on Toast Points. With or without pimentos.

LIVING IN YOUR OWN TINY HOUSE

There is a learning curve to living in a Tiny House…and it is STEEP!

The first step of course is to get rid of everything you’re pretty sure you can live without.

The second step is harder. Get rid of all those those things you thought just might be good to have around.

When you realize you still don’t have enough room, you move on, with gritted teeth to step three – parting with a some of the things you love but are pretty sure you can no longer house.

Step four involves changing your mind, going to the thrift store where you donated all those things and buying back what you can.

After a few months of trial and error – and returning things a second time to the thrift store – you have the amount of things that will fit comfortably in your tiny house. I managed to part with huge chunks of my past – talk about your broad strokes – but I did save a statue of Thumper, of Bambi fame, which now adorns my mantlepiece. (Are you more surprised that I have a mantlepiece in 330 square feet or the fact that I saved a mass-produced figurine?) The little rabbit beloved to my mother. He looks damn good for  75! The real estate he takes up lost to sentimental value.

But other than Thumperattachment-1, I have been Herculean in decluttering!

Now it’s time for more rules. For example: DON’T STOCK UP ON STUFF. I mean, just because you can save five bucks by buying 27 roles of paper towels because they are cheaper that way instead of buying four roles you really have space for. (“for which you have space.” I know. What’s even more depressing, you can’t buy chicken legs when they are marked down to 77 cents a pound because your apartment-sized refrigerator has a mighty small freezer space in which to store the pieces marked “for future use.” So by the time you get around to the extras, the chicken has developed a strange and incredibly ugly smell so you not only have throw out the extra chicken, you also have to empty the fridge and use a lot of bleach to change the fetid stench. Is that the right use of the word fetid? Yes, it is. I looked it up and the dictionary says “An extremely unpleasant odor.” That is very definitely what I meant to say. Not only that, four weeks later the smell is still hanging on. But I do think that my bottle of bleach and I are gaining on it.

My daughter and I have created a new mantra. Not that we have learned to live by it, but it goes something like this: If a spoon comes to visit, a spoon has to leave. There is no room for replacement parts if you are not going to toss the thing you are replacing.

Now here’s a killer. You need a lot of patience to live in a Tiny House because you keep knocking things on to the floor. This is particularly true when you are cooking. Remember that extra spoon I mentioned you should do without? Well, forks and spoons and knives all seem determined to fall from the edge of the kitchen sink which is where you put things while trying to develop something special for the night’s dinner. Picking things off the floor has become my cardio.

Despite all those minor irritants, Tiny Houses have many wonderful qualities. You really are hard pressed to loose anything in a Tiny House. After all, we are talking 330 square feet of space or there about. You can scout the entire area in little more than 15 minutes and after that you have to accept that you’ve lost it. Or, more likely, you threw it out to make room for something new.

It IS a fact that, no matter how hard you try, Tiny Houses must be kept neatly organized because anything you put down anywhere but in its assigned space looks messy. But you learn really fast that, even if the place looks like it has been hit by a flood, you can return it to pristine beauty in about a minute and a half.
However, I believe that the motivating factor for anyone deciding to live the life of a Tiny House person might well be the fact that when you want to be alone. You can.  There’s absolutely no place to put a guest.