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High Court Hazing

Becoming a US Supreme Court justice is the highest honor in American law.

Justice Elena Kagan is passing the torch, three unique responsibilities, to Neil Gorsuch, now the lowest person on the totem pole, who will keep it until the next justice is appointed.

One responsibility the Honorable Neil Gorsuch will take on is cafeteria duties, going over the monthly cafeteria agenda which may include finding a good recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Another responsibility is to open the door to the conference room, their inner sanctum.  Kagan explains, “If I’m like in the middle of a sentence—let’s say it’s my turn to speak or something—and there’s a knock on the door, everybody will just stare at me, waiting for me to open the door,” Kagan said. “It’s like a form of hazing. So, that’s what I do, I open the door. Pronto”

The Supreme Court is a place of seniority. When they meet, the chief justice speaks first, and the rest speak in order of longevity. The most junior justice speaks last and is responsible to take notes of the proceedings.

 

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Savoring Life in the Latter Lanes

In my mostbook-1 recent book, I wrote the stories I like to write and read, a potpourri of everyday issues for post-menopausal women. Chapter one, Grace and Patience is about relationships, chapter three is about Sugar in Fruit, and chapter thirty-four Witness for Nature.

Forty-one stories to feed the mind and heart. Perfect when you want to read something new and unexpected—a friend waiting on your nightstand.

That’s my view on it and now time and marketing skills will determine how many women I can reach.

 

Grace and Patience

Before you get married, you think you know the important things about your soon-to-be spouse. Remember all the intimate conversations over many glasses of wine—when you could drink without feeling like someone kicked you in the stomach and put your head in a vice? You talked into the nights. You agreed you wanted children, you promised to support one another’s career choices and be at each other’s bedside in sickness. The more wine you drank, the clearer your future, and the more you thought about the bed part. Sure, there would be bumps in the road, but you would handle it with grace and patience. Another clink of the wine glasses. Skál!

Decades later, Tim still enjoys good wine, knows a lot about his good wine, and when he purchases a case from Total Wine, he looks content and engaged. Buddha man. He treats his bottles of wine with greater care than he did his toddlers. I have no memory of him stroking them down with a soft cloth before putting them to bed.

Looking back, the days of handling everything with grace and patience, they evaporated before the ink on our marriage license dried.  It’s especially so when the Misses of the house is sick.

Last week, was week two of my illness of the decade.  With nothing to do but shiver and cough, I start watching hubby’s activities. When he takes inventory of his wine bottle collection, I ask him, “Did you forget that I can’t drink wine?” Not sure why I asked that, but right away I forgive my feverish mind. When he doesn’t answer, I ask again, “Do you remember all the fun we had when I could drink wine?”  His contented look is erased, and I feel a bit better.

I read on awaken.org that it’s inevitable that at some point, the person you singled out, made special enough to share your life with, fails to function as a cover up for our own pain, discontent, and unhappiness. The ego projects our discontent onto the other person. Good grief, why do I read this stuff? Enough of this nonsense.

Drained of energy, I curl up in bed irritated that the sun keeps shining. What’s with Florida? How about a few dark, cloudy days?  Tim is full of robust health, good humor, and on a mission to fix me.

Adjusting the blanket around me, he says, “Hon, are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” This is what women say when they need their spouse to disappear.

“You don’t sound fine.”

I let out a loud sigh that means, if you don’t leave, I’ll be less fine and will make darn sure to take you down the rabbit’s hole with me.

One afternoon, after a painfully long coughing spell, I tell him that I think I’m spitting out pieces of my lungs. I tell him that my chest is on fire. Not sure which is worse, chest on fire or spitting your lungs out of your body.

“You are not spitting out your lungs,” he soothes, “but you need to sit down on the couch and just relax. Give your body time to heal. Your body is exhausted.”

Husbands should never, never, never tell their wives how to feel or what to do. Another thing, don’t use logic. Sick women hate logic. Women are also not fond of being told to relax or told how their own body is feeling.

Finally, catching my breath after a cough attack, I tell Tim, “I don’t intend to end my life as a quiet old person worrying that I’m bothering people.”

Tim says, “I don’t think you have to worry about that.”

“And just for the record,” I’m picking up steam, “Our children will not be able to say, ‘My mother suffered quietly. Faded into the sunset without a whimper.’”

As pink returns to my cheeks, my thoughts go to the people who are caretakers to ill or dying loved ones. Nobody can fix their struggles anymore than Tim could put me together again. My flu compared to their challenges is a streetlight to the sun. But this life’s episode was a solid reminder for both of us to enjoy the rest of our healthy days.

Aging is Awesome

Aging and laughingAging is a reward for living a long life. Not everyone grows old and many die before the prime time of their lives. We are thankful. With age comes gratitude and appreciation for every passing year. We appreciate rituals, drinking our first cup of coffee on the lanai or reading a book on a rainy afternoon. Here are some awesome things to appreciate about aging.

1. You begin to want less stuff. We accumulate more stuff than we need. As we get older, we begin to understand that less is more. We don’t need to surround ourselves with material things.

2. Indifference to others’ opinions. You learn that everyone doesn’t have to like you. You just have to like yourself. Actress Candice Bergen said, “People can get crazier as they get older. I can just be weird whenever I want, and there’s the freedom of not caring what people think.”

3. Your children become your friends. Raising children through their rebellious years, it’s hard to imagine this moment. But it happens. They are individuals in their own right, and now you laugh together about their past shenanigans.

4. You learn not to criticize. As we age, we know there is no value to be gained by criticizing anyone. You understand the value of dwelling on the positive and removing yourself from negativity.

5. You wear your wrinkles with pride. Wrinkles mean you laughed, grey hair means you cared, and scars mean you lived!

6. You have learned that you don’t always have to be right. Self-righteous indignation is exhausting. We understand the listening is more important than being right and possibly deferring to someone else’s point of view.

69

IMG_0192If you are a child of mine and especially if you are a grandchild, this is not for you.  This is for mature readers, mature in years not necessarily in wisdom. I don’t want to eliminate all my friends.

What happened began less than a year ago, I was standing on a small piece of land in a community in Ponte Vedra. It was just what I wanted. A small lake (hubby calls it a pond) with a beautiful preserve on the other side of it. “This is the land I will build my castle,” I told our saleswoman who was doing her best to hide a yawn.

“You are sure,” hubby asked. This is an irritating habit he has to ask me if I’m sure. It makes me wonder if I am sure.

We signed, received our address, and I was happy. I was happy for a little while. Until…many months later when I realized that our address was 69.

“Tim, make a request to have it changed?” My unhappiness was crystal clear and a hurtful contrast to the smirk on his face. “House on our left is 61 and house on right is 73. There is no reason why they can’t change ours to, let’s say, 67.”

“No, we will learn to live with it,” he says.

“Seems to me, you have already reached this stage,” I said.

My wretchedness did nothing to change his mind so I conjured up responses to anyone asking my address.

  1. Say it very fast so people could not make out what I said. Even faster if they asked me to repeat.
  2. Say six, then let about tens seconds pass—long enough for them to wonder if I am not quite right in the head—then say nine and immediately change subjects.
  3. Or I could say, “Oh, it’s at the tip of my tongue. It will come to me.” The say something so interesting they will forget I did not answer.
  4. “I’m on Clay Gully. It’s the fourth house on the east side, latitude 30.082932 and longitude -81.389803.”

Between practicing how to answer the now most dreaded question, I began to notice that the construction workers on our street, seeing me come out of my house, smirked. Sometimes they looked at one another as people do when they have a private joke. I was the private joke for living in a house number 69.

Tim insists I am imagining it.

Pay back time. This afternoon walking back from a football party, my eyes honed in (always does) on the bottom of our black mailbox where the number I mentioned before hangs. It was gone! (Insight: things out of order, broken, etc. drives my hubby crazy.) For a moment, I considered not saying anything about the missing X from the mailbox. Stupid idea, of course I will tell him.

“Honey, our mailbox number is gone.”

“What?” He is on high alert.  I felt so good it should have been my birthday.

“Our house number is all gone.” I smiled at him and for a second I thought he would let it be. But my guy didn’t disappoint.

He looked around the mailbox, stroked it up and down and around, but no number—then said, “The number is gone.” (Stating the obvious is another trait not so endearing.) But I’ve not felt this good for eons so I let it go. He stared at me like a drowning man in search of a lifeline (where is the camera when you want it?) So I threw him one.

“The construction workers took it.” Before he can think of a solution, I added, “And no matter how many times you replace the number, they will come back for it.”

 

 

Morsels of New Experiences

In our sixties, the pace and patterns of our lives were predictable, we did the same thing each month, season, and year. So when we moved from Michigan to Florida for warmer shores, we wanted to sink our teeth into Fallglow tangerines and Orlando Tangelos. We wanted new experiences, to step out of our comfort zones shaking off the cobwebs of habits and routines.

Last night, we attended a wine tasting event at a butcher shop. Surrounded by filets, steaks, and ground beef on one side and Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay on the other, I tried to remember why I thought this was an experience to pursue. I don’t care for meat and wine doesn’t care for me. In my determination to embrace this new experience, I struck up a conversation with a honey keeper giving out nibbles of cheese dipped in honey. I asked him if there was a public bathroom in the butcher shop. When the night was over, Tim had met people from every corner of our continent and learned that this butcher/wine event was a monthly occurrence. I had found the bathroom. Hubby asked if  I would accompany him monthly so he could taste more wine and meet up with his new friends.

“Yes,” I said, “but only if you can find a monthly event of people from every shire in Australia who meet monthly to sample ice cream and key lime pie.”

October used to be bedtime for my vegetable garden. In Ponte Vedra, it means the beginning of a new growing season. Instead of lamenting, “If only the season lasted longer, my game would be so much better,” groups in my new community are organizing for another season of golf. Picking tomatoes and playing golf in December…I like.

birdPictureILikeseashells

Strolling the shores of the Atlantic, the vastness of the sky, nature and sounds reminded me of sitting in an orchestra hall hypnotized by the music.  Birds glided unhurriedly above me. Picking up seashells and gray cylinder bones that I later find out are shark teeth. Putting down the Tommy Bahama beech chair in a respectable distance from a turtle nesting ground, I reached for my book—no, not quite yet. Warm, silky sand slipped up and around my feet. Sounds of the waves breaking at the shoreline unobtrusive and enchanting. I pulled out my iPhone. No bars. Perfect. Three hours without interruptions, reading and walking on this Atlantic shore—an experience I won’t tire of.

October first, sitting at my computer by an open window, I watched my neighbor Julie pulling weeds. She’s moving in on Halloween, today she was just visiting her house.

“Juuulieee,” I whispered. She looked high and low, but never at my window. This time my whisper was deeper, “Juuulieee.” Her face reminded me of Tim’s face watching Fatal Attractions, the part when Glen Close kills Ellen’s pet rabbit and puts it on their stove to boil.

When Julie sees me her expression does not change much.  She left her house that day earlier than usual.  Tim said he doubted she’ll ever return.  What’s that supposed to mean? The nicest thing about this is that this was a new experience not only for me, but for Julie as well.

A big thank you to Becky the Best (read my blog in coming weeks about names in my new community), an amateur photographer and a new friend, who allowed me to post her photos on my blog.

New Scenery and Set of Characters

A great book is like a secret door inviting us to unearth its content page by page. Moving, starting a new life in unfamiliar surrounding is much the same.

The doorbell of our new home is ringing, like it did at our old house before the six kids moved out.

Sandy with a parrot on her shoulder came by to say “Hi.” Instead of inviting her inside all I could think of was the bird flying all over dropping feathers and other unmentionable things.

Barbara from across the street walked over to tell me about the paddle boarding class she was taking and wanted to know if I would be interested. I was impressed but not interested. Not even a little bit.

Another neighbor shared that parrots are alligators’ favorite dessert. An image arises of an alligator moving slowly towards the pond behind our homes leaving a trail of blue feathers. Feeling bad about my treatment of Sandy and her bird, I google alligators’ favorite desserts. Can’t find it. My conscience is eased.

A couple on an adjacent street sold their eight-acre coffee plantation in Hawaii and chose to retire in this community. Learning of this, my husband spends days asking the air, “Why would a person leave Hawaii?” The air never answers.

Betty and Bob coast their bikes up our driveway wanting hubby (Tim) and me to cycle with them. I glimpse their skin-tight spandex shorts, jersey with a stand-up collar, and short-cut finger gloves and decline.  Maybe another day, I say. Tim snickers.

Today, wearing flip flops, soceanhorts and a t-shirt, I walk the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean on Florida’s northeastern shoreline. Breeze and aroma of marine life swirls around me below a big blue sky. I have reached 8,000 steps on my Fitbit. Walking up to my hubby who stands watching the waves, deep in his blue mind, “Tim, what do you say we head back?”

“Sounds good,” he says, “and I know where there is a Starbucks on the way back home.”