Monday, June 20, 2016

Father's Day

Yesterday my Facebook age was loaded with all kinds of well wishes for all kinds of fathers, new ones, middle-aged ones and grandfather ones. They were all lovely and heart felt, I felt good for all those dads.

Later in the day one of my sisters called with an observation about our dad.  And, she asked a very profound question...what would I write about dad on Facebook? That got us to talking about dad and what we could remember about him.  Honestly, at first it didn't seem like much.

However, after we got talking turns out he was a great man, husband, father and provider.  He never lifted so much at a finger to us, never raised his voice or even come close to yelling at us and was ever present.  We recalled how he would sit after dinner in the dining-nook nose buried in the evening paper, Saturday Evening Post or the Reader's Digest.  He never joined in our 'after dinner chats' but we knew, HE KNEW exactly what we were talking about.

He was a great provider, even though his salary for the time was substantial, we were barely keeping up with 'the middle class'.  We had no credit cards...everything was paid by cash.  We kids would occasionally walk our house payment out to the private party that held our 'loan'.  We never even had so much as a checking account.  We didn't have a car until (if memory serves) I was in high school.  It was a big maroon Buick if I recall.

I'm not even sure dad took all the vacations that were allotted him, and he never....I mean never...took a sick day....EVER.  Although, I do remember we did drive all the way out to Indiana to visit his sister, my Aunt Cora one year.  Mostly he worked, and continued to build onto our house.  Did I mention he built it from the ground up?

However, as most dads were from my generation, they were mostly figure heads, we weren't pals, we didn't hang out, and we didn't talk.  He didn't teach us to ride a bicycle or throw a ball.  But he built us one heck of a swing and allowed us to take a stick and put our initials in the concrete holding the posts in place.  He planted a garden every year so we had fresh vegetable all summer, and the rows of corn were great to hide in when we spent hours playing hide and seek til dusk.

My sister and I got quite melancholy talking about dad, and we both wish he had been more hands-on with us...although we both know that was not his fault.  Times have changed for the better of course, dads today change diapers, do laundry, wash dishes, coach sports teams, bring home pizza for dinner and much, much more.  I applaud and praise them.

However, now that I'm thinking about it, dad was really a fantastic guy.  He never cheated on my mom, never swore, seldom drank and worked hard...right up to the time he got Carcinoma of the Lungs.  Even to the end, he hung in.  My older sister and I were living in California at the time, and we made the journey cross country to be with family.  I remember when we finally arrived my sister and I went to the hospital to see him.  It was bad, he was in an oxygen tent and very weak, but he knew and recognized us.  We didn't stay long; he was in no condition for visitors.

We went to mom's and had dinner and were making plans to go back to the hospital when the phone rang.  It was the hospital saying dad had passed.  See what a good dad he was...he hung on until he knew we were all together...I think that's the best proof my dad was the greatest.

Happy belated Father's day.  Herbert Paul  1905-1962.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Writing exercise-unlikeable character

I went to visit Melissa yesterday; I took a present for the baby.  It had been a while since I'd seen her what with her having the baby and all. Oh, I had sooo much to tell her. But she pushed me out of the house before I had a chance to give the gift to her.

God, she angry.

She said I was egocentric.  Can you believe that?  She said without a doubt I'm the most self-centered person she had ever met.  Is it my fault I've always got sooo much going on in my life?  I thought she'd be thrilled when I told her about my new fitness and weight-loss program and mentioned she could afford to take off a few pounds herself since she had the baby.  We could share my membership and could get into shape together.

That's when she hit the ceiling, and started to cry.

I told her not to feel bad, most women have a weight problem after having a baby and that her weight gain was tiny, weenie compared to some women; she could get her figure back in 'no time'.  Now, wouldn't you think she'd been happy when I told her that?

She just kept sobbing, so I changed the subject and said I was thinking about moving downtown and had been looking into the recently constructed high rise called "The Elite on Front Street".  It would be perfect and within walking distance of my fantastic new job.  I was explaining the floor lay out, and telling about the security measures the complex had and how reasonable the rent was...when, POW, she hit me...actually slugged me right in the stomach.  She knocked the wind right out of me.

I asked her why she did that.

All she said was she didn't want to be friends anymore, that I was an
egotistical (insert expletives); which surprised me because Melissa never swears.  As she continued to push me toward the door I asked what the heck was wrong with her.

She just shook her head and said I would never understand.  Melissa said it was never about what I said, but rather what I didn't say.  Then she went on and on about how a real friend would have seen right away how upset she was, and would have asked what was wrong...but that the minute I walked in I started blabbering about me, me, me and never thinking to ask how she was, or what was new in her life or that she might have something important to say.

I laughed and told her that was because she never did have anything important to say, but there was ALWAYS something new going on in my life, and, frankly she was just an old 'stick in the mud' wife and mother.

Melissa turned ashen and looked as though she was going to slug me again, so I backed all the way to the door.  That's when she asked me to leave...she actually opened the door and pushed me out; mumbling something under her breath then loudly, slammed the door shut. I couldn't believe it she left me standing there on the porch with the baby present still in my hand.

I found out this morning through a mutual friend that Melissa's baby had died a week ago Tuesday.

Seriously, I can't believe she didn't tell me when I took the baby present over to her yesterday.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Shame on me!

For a couple of years I was quite diligent at going to the website called Lumosity and playing their mental/agility games to keep my grey matter moving forward.  When I first started my LPI (Lumosity Performance Index) was terrible, under a thousand if memory serves. My memory was terrible, my hand/eye coordination was worse, and some games I could not get 'a handle on' to save my soul.  So, for about two years I went to the site just about every day and played at least the required five games determined to get better mentally.

I gotta' tell ya' I got dang good at some of the games and by the time I had hit my two year milestone my LPI had shot up to 1188 and that I was at the 90% level for people my age group.  I occasionally let folks know how I was doing on Facebook without (I hope) sounding boastful, but wanted them to know I was increasing my mental capacity 'leaps and bounds' and they needn't worry I was ready for some kind of a home.

Then, I kind of had a financial setback and I had to start doing without 'luxuries', and felt the hundred dollar annual fee was something I couldn't afford and gave up playing when the fee came due.  I also gave up brand name TP and other essentials.  Having money to pay taxes seemed much more important.  Heck, I knew how to be frugal...I grew up in a family that was 'aces' when it came to being frugal.  And so it went, until last year and I came into a little spending money.  Whoop, whoop.

So I was quite surprised last week, when out of the blue, I got an e-mail from Lumosity.  How nice they remembered me. Was this come kind of a sign?  On a whim I went to their website and they encouraged me to play some games for free. I did. I had forgotten how much fun they were.  They even allowed me to check my scores from ever so long ago. OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH MYYYYYYYYYY!

My new scores were deplorable, in the almost two years I had not played my agility to play the games had plummeted almost 100 points. That was berry, berry skerry!  I worried, I fretted, I was working myself into a state; had I had a stroke?  Was there something wrong with me?  Was I OOOLLLDDD! Too old to play these games that at one time gave me so much pleasure...and how awful was it that there were some games I could not even remember how to play?

I've got to be honest...I really did get kind of scared.  I knew then and there I was going to rejoin Lumosity. And, I did. When I first started to play last week my scores were terrible...and they still are, but day by day the scores are inching upward one and two points a day.  At the end of my play Lumosity is very encouraging, telling me I was doing great and that playing every day was doing me good and...to keep at it and...to play at least three days a week. I intend to do better than that.

I'm keeping a good attitude with my daily improvement, and laugh at the stupid mistakes and errors I make.  I get to giggling pretty good sometimes, for instance one game gives you word prefixes and then gives you a time frame to build words...the prefix was phys...I could think of two words, then sat there like an idiot, giggling, as I watched the clock count down.  Shame on me.  Boy was I embarrassed and glad Muse and Frankie were already in bed and will never know that happened.

So, there you have it, I'm determined to take the mental 'mush' my grey matter is in at the moment and....start where I am, with what I have and make something of it...and not be satisfied.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Monday, June 6, 2016

OH, MAN!

This morning I was sitting on the patio doing some studying when I began to hear mumbling in the living room.  The sounds were barely about whispers; of course I was curious and went to see what was going on.

Gasp!!!!!  Oh, the horror! I began to cough and sputter.

There was Muse standing in the center of the room surrounded by mismatched suitcases.

Me: (In great alarm.)  "Just where do you think you're going?"
Muse:  " 'I'm leaving on a Jet Plane.' " 'don't know when' " (or if) ' I'll be back again...' ", was her sing-song response.  "It seems you no long want or need me around."

I'm so shocked I swoon, almost fall, and then sink to my knees.

Me:  "Where's this coming from?"  I can't believe this is happening.  I find myself hugging her around her knees with what I hope is the most pitiful look I can muster.
Muse:  "May 25th."
Me: What?"
Muse:  May 25 is the last day you tried to write anything...well, except for quick blips on Facebook ...and how creative do those have to be?"

I'm having a hard time focusing, that date can't possibly be right. Surely I've written something since then.  I stand and head toward the office and my computer.

Muse:  "Don't bother to check, I know I'm right."

I don't know what to say. I'm in a state of panic. I hadn't deliberately been trying to ignore Muse and I had certainly had ideas and intended to write...where the heck had the time gone?  I realize the last week or so had been busy, but apparently in Muses mind any excuse I might use will certainly not be logical or important enough to justify I have not written something.  Yes, I had out of  town company for a long weekend, there was a holiday, and then my granddaughter came and spent the night but as far as Muse was concerned these excuses would not do; I could have, should have stayed up late at least once during that time to be creative.

"I was available at a moment's notice." Muse said with a hardy snort.

The thing was and is, there is even one more reason I seem not to have time to write, and to me this is a 'biggie'.  It's almost summer and I've no desire to be cooped up in the house...every...single...moment I can I want to be outside enjoying the birds, the warm air, the azure blue sky and the time spent with neighbors who happen to walk by.  Woe, woe, how can I get Muse to understand this?  I really, r-e-a-l-l-y fear if she leaves this time won't ever tappity tap on my window to let me know she has returned.

I can think of nothing more to do but plead for mercy and ask for a reprieve until yucky, bleak-y, cold, grey, damp, miserable weather returns.  I explain to her that as I grow older summers fly by more and more quickly and I don't want to waste one second of outdoor summer time.  It does not matter if it is early dawn and the golf course is getting its morning watering or midnight when I take the dog out for his final potty break.  "Summer is just too precious, as are you Muse, and I beg for your patience and understanding."

Muse, Frankie and I stand in silence for quite a while. Muse pondering, Frankie anticipating, me begging. Tick, tick, tick.  After what seems like hours Muse drags two of her suitcase back toward the bed room.

Me:  "Muse, I'll eventually make this up to you I promise.  Muse, thank you."
Muse:  "Yeah, yeah.......I know, I know."

I love that girl, and somehow, some way, I will gain back her trust.  I will, I promise-promise pinky swear.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I think I would like...

...to go around the world and just look at birds.

I have a friend who posts the most beautiful pictures of birds on Facebook...ever!  I've always thought the birds I've known since a child have been marvelously beautiful and have been happy with that. However, I now know there are some birds out there that I can't even begin to describe.

They are in shades of blues even Crayola can't come to design.  There are yellows of which even the sun is surely jealous.  Oh, and the reds range from creamy rose pedal to fire engine.  Then there are greens, orchids and oranges, too.  I imagine the Angels back in the day drawing up the designs for these creatures, then going to God and saying "Hey, Boss what do you think?"  Then God, working his magic deciding on the size, shape, final colors they should be and putting them exactly where in our world he thinks they will best survive.

Zap!

We have the Banded Broadbill, Black-faced Dacnis, Silver-eared Mesia, White-winged Fairy Wren, Motmot and the Laughing Thrush.  Seriously these birds live around the world and I've never seen a one of them.  I want to, thank goodness someone has, otherwise I would not even know these creatures existed.  Then think about their names...White winged Fairy Wren; Laughing Thrush; obviously somebody thought the Wren looked like a Fairy (it kind of does) and that the Thrush must make a sound like laughter, how cool is that?

Sadly I have to ponder our feathered friends we carelessly allowed to become extinct, certain pigeons, ducks, woodpeckers, quails and probably the most famous the Dodo bird.  And, what about the California Condor, at least we are making an effort to help this species survive, hopefully it is not too late. Thankfully now there are various dedicated organizations making great strides in the effort to keep species all kinds alive.  I applaud them all.

But, I digress.  The point is, I can kind of take a trip around the world to see and enjoy these feathered friends because (like my friend) I joined (liked) a group called BIRDS Community that posts pictures of birds on Facebook.  I started my trip this morning, first stop Malaysia. I got to view my very first bird, (oooooh, aaaaaa) it is the beautiful female Banded Broadbill.  I wonder where I will be tomorrow?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

And, there it sat...

...on my lattice-work gate.

One day last week I was in my living room and glanced out one of the windows and saw a rather large, dark brown blob sitting on one of the posts of my lattice-work fencing closing off my patio.  "What the heck?" I thought.

I walked slowly, closer to the window and made out the shape of a rather large bird.  By now my curiosity had piqued and I walked up to the window.  There, about twenty feet away was a hawk.  He sat almost like a statue for quite a while, then began hopping about my lawn art and back again to the lattice-work post.  He made himself quite at home.  I watched in wonder, studying him closely, color, size, anything that might help me recognize what kind of hawk he was.

As I went to get one of my bird books I realized all the other birds that my neighbor feeds had become very quiet...not one single bird could be heard...'smart birdies' I think to myself.  By the time I got back to the window the hawk was sitting complacently on the post, turning its head ever alert for other bird activity...there was none.

I was glad the hawk felt so at home because it gave me the opportunity to study it quite closely.  I noticed it had bright yellow eyes, with black pupils.  Its chest was mottled white and sunny, warm tan and the tail was banded with broad dark brown stripes.  By comparing the bird with the pictures in my bird book I'm pretty sure this was a Cooper's Hawk, not just from the features, but also the size; the book stating the mature hawk is 14 to 20 inches in length.  This bird was definitely over the 14 inch size, but nowhere close to 20.  Therefore, because the coloring was so bright I figured this was probably a young male, more mature than a fledgling but by no means an adult.

As time went by I think once or twice it caught sight of me, but was not at all intimidated he simply sat or hopped about, patiently waiting for a meal...

...one finally showed up.

All the birds remained quiet, when suddenly something flew into my peripheral vision, uh-oh. That hawk flew so quickly the tiny bird hardly had a chance to land on the ground before the hawk was upon it, and flew away with lunch.  So much for the survival of the fittest and the circle of life.

Several days later I saw my neighbor who feeds the birds and told her about the hawk.  She frequently allows her cats to sun on her deck and although I'm sure the hawk was not large enough or strong enough to carry one of her kitties off, it sure could inflict some damage in an encounter. However, poor birdies...there's not much she and I can do about them.

This was a wonderful experience...well except for the lunch thingy...because I love all things nature and I'd never had the pleasure of seeing a hawk so 'up close and personal',  I'm thankful for the honor and privilege.  I can't help but wonder if the hawk will return, on one hand I would love that...on the other...poor birdie.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Something to ponder

This morning while I was reading I came across this sentence; "In an awe-inspiring way I am wonderfully made."  I found that statement to be quite profound and that got me to thinking in what way was I wonderfully made?  I had to go back to my beginning, a l-o-n-g time ago.  It was true, I was wonderfully made.  When I was born I had ten fingers and ten toes, each one had a tiny fingernail.  I've been told I had very little hair and that what I did have was blond and not easy to see. I'm sure my mother was reassured it would eventually be 'see-able'.  As I grew I was reasonably healthy, except for my tonsils which eventually had to come out, thereafter I seldom had much about which to complain.

As time moved on I found it was indeed awe-inspiring that I managed to escape any serious damage from injury I succeeded to inflicted upon myself...not that I didn't try.  Considering the flying leaps I used to take from the family swing and the bent fingers I permanently have from having mush balls bounce off the tips of my middle fingers. And, I've broken one of my little toes, have bits of gravel still embedded in my left knee from falling off a bicycle and scars from run-ins with blackberry brambles.

I've received bonks on my head from open cupboard doors and kitchen counters from leaning over to close to said counters.  I've sprained ankles and wrists and cracked a couple of ribs from a horrible cough that would simply not go away.  Oh, and occasionally, painfully, I've pinched fingers in various objects.  I think you'll agree I've definitely not been kind to my awe-inspiring body.

However, how great is it that it is wonderfully made?  I've actually survived all of the above with very little physical evidence of the havoc I have inflicted upon myself.  I think it is fantastic my body has been made to regenerate and heal itself, and except for a little first-aid, my body has done all the work all by itself...face it...that is wonderful.  And, yes I definitely find that to be awe-inspiring, although I didn't give that the respect I should have over the years simply because it took till this morning for a simple 'awe-inspiring' sentence to call that to my attention.

I've no idea what the future holds for my awe-inspiring, wonderfully made body, I just hope I treat it better than I have in the past.  I'm going to try to be more careful in physical activities and not try to do foolish things.  I'm going to try to keep off my excess weight and be more careful about what I eat (hopefully).  I'm going to try to get more sleep, keep my mind active and set aside time for myself.

In the end I want to be able to look back and ask, "Hey body, did I do you proud?"

"Oh, and thanks for an awe-inspiring, wonderful life."