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.

Horoscope

When I first retired from the world of busy (i.e. employed) people, it was with the idea that I would then get to do all kinds of exiting things with my fellow elders.

Wrong!  Elders, it seemed, weren’t planning on doing too many exciting things. Rather I was offered a very pastel palette from which to pick my pleasure.

A Book Club perhaps?  Sounded fascinating. What I signed up for was some of the classics I was never smart enough to appreciate when I was first pressured to read them.

What I got ws a list of ROMANCE NOVELS.

Now I don’t want to rain on anyone’s book list, but really? Romance novels?

I tried writing for a publisher once who, on the basis of god knows what, believed I could write those.  So he sent me a batch of rules.

1:  Virgin meets mysterious pirate. By page 7.

2;  Virgin fears him and when he grabs her in his arm she pounds fruitlessly on his strong chest, while he grins devilishly at her.  By Page 21

I stopped reading, suggested two other themes. Got turned down.  Never tried again.  My explanation for this arrogance? My experience with pirates was too limited.

The next exciting idea was a monthly afternoon tea.  Well, that sounded just great.  I love all those wonderful little treats and the pretty flowered dishes with mismatched tea pots. As the newbie, my hostess said, I was to be served first.  And, with a very big flurry, two of my fellow guests arrived at her side.  One held a bottle of white wine, the other red.There was a great deal of hilarity as I just sat there, confused.  It seems that calling it a tea gave it some acceptability, but the members didn’t ask just anyone…only jolly folk like me.

Okay, let me admit right now that I enjoy an afternoon of happy wining – even without the dining.  But what no one thought to fill me in on was that there was a one drink minimum. AND maximum. You got one drink.  Surprisingly, it was more than enough for most and too much for some. However, once I tasted the wine I began to see the logic in the limit.

Okay, let’s scratch that from the list.

Actually I gave up on group activities until I ran into Piano Bars and singers who weren’t doing Karaoke or reading the lyrics from their phones.

But then, just a couple of weeks ago, I read my horoscope!  And I quote:

“Seductive and glamorous propositions abound.” Which was followed by a dire warning to beware!

“Hot damn I thought,   “This old girl has still got it.”

Luckily I kept the thought to myself.

But I still gave it a try.  I picked up on two unforgettable offers.  The first came from an elderly gentleman who thought I would really love spending the evening at a nearby gambling club.  When I pointed out that I hate gambling.   I always lose, and I throw up when I get nervous  He insisted, I didn’t have to gamble he said…I COULD JUST WATCH HIM!

Some how I managed to resist.

But wait!  There’s more!

Two evenings later, I accepted an invitation to meet a friend for dinner.

Now understand me.  I’ve known this guy for 40 years.  We are long-term friends. This is someone you don’t have to be on your best behavior with – (Okay, I know I should have said –with whom you need to be – but I didn’t so sue me.)

ANYWAY!

We’ve been reading our menu right? So when I look up I take of my reading glasses because everything gets blurry if I don’t.

Then, all of a sudden, James clutches my hand, the one with the glasses in it, smiles tenderly at me and says, “Betty, you don’t have to take off your glasses every time you look at me.  I know you want to look beautiful for me bu…”

I didn’t wait for the rest.  I jumped up and headed for the door.  Judging from the clinking and clashing behind me I just might have up ended the wine bottle AND the glasses.

I didn’t wait to find out!

Oh in case you are wondering how I got home,  That was romantic and seductive too.

I called LYFT.

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Sympathy never smelled so sweet!

Beautiful flower arrangement from Danny and Amy when they heard I was down with the flu. IMG_1328.jpg

 

 

It’s Christmas Time! It’s Christmas Time!

I remember when those words sent thrills, chills, worries and joys sailing though my body. Way, way back…just a bit shy of a century, I knew that Santa, that wonderful, scary, loving, threatening all powerful figure was sitting in judgment somewhere deciding just how good or how bad a little girl I had been.  I knew, but I sure hoped HE hadn’t noticed.

I remember when the center of attention shifted from Santa to the BABY JESUS.  It was a confusing time to be a first grader in a Catholic School. There were now TWO judgmental figures in the Xmas mix. And one of them was GOD!

I was a fairly confident kid and I figured out ways to misdirect Santa’s attention.  But God’s Son, Jesus was a whole new problem. But wait! There’s MORE! Or maybe there is less because it seems that God and Jesus were one and the same person. See??

Next came “the age of reason”, otherwise known as the year you pretended to believe in Santa and his elves, without, somehow, ignoring the Baby in the manger.

If you were a dedicated, crafty (read sneaky) kid, as I certainly was, you could get two good years out of that. It waa fun. Mother and Dad racing around hiding things and whispering and enjoying their misplaced joy in  “one more year.”

Now, I am not about to ask everyone to get back on the Santa sled, but maybe get off the hard drive of an exchange of gift cards.

OR…There is always an OR…

Admittedly, for far too many folks, money is needed.  Wanted. Required.

So give it.  Grab that cold gift card from the rack at Ralph’s, but wrap it in a tiny, thoughtful gift. Take a quick trip to the dollar store and let your imagination lead you to something you know the recipient likes.

I’m dropping one gift card into a bag of sugar free Life Savers and another into a bag of Cheese Bits. My friends still gets the money but they also get a laugh and the knowledge that I love them enough to go the extra dollar.

And that, is the magic.

Give it some thought.  Maybe homemade soup will tell someone that we remembered they really LOVED Lentil soup but hate cooking. Merry Christmas!

One year, when finances were really ‘way, ‘way down, Celia and I scoured thrift shops for pretty bottles which cost, on average, about 5 cents. We filled them with olive oil seasoned it with spices. Happily, we had a huge bush of rosemary growing in our garden that year. It became our favorite flavor. Financial investment per gift?  about 27 cents.

Imagination . That does it.

Make someone happy.  Spread joy and love. If you can afford a gift card?  Yay, you. But if love is what you’ve got to share – do it now.

Sometimes, tomorrow is too late.

gift card