Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Transitions and Passages

As I was going through one of my dresser drawers the other day, I came across the following e-mail message sent to Darling Daughter dated Tuesday, July 31, 2001, 7:33 A.M., subject: last day at work

"Dear [Darling Daughter],

"I just wanted to let you know that I was thinking of you this morning as you prepare for your last day at work.

"This is a day of profound transition -- one that you will never meet again. Granted, other changes will take place in your life, but none this important. For today you are terminating one form of work in preparation for another -- one that will be much more satisfying and important although for the next six months you may not believe me. At the end of six months you might be saying to yourself -- I miss talking to adults. I miss getting out of the house. I hate dealing with a crying and/or sick/fussy baby. I hate all the laundry. I hate the mess. I miss just picking up and jumping in the car, and going wherever I want with minimum fuss. Now, I have to pack like I'm going to Alaska just to go to the store. I hate not having quiet time just for myself with no one else to worry about.

"Just like the day the doctor told you the baby was now in a head-down position ready to be born, you are now in a head-down position ready to face this transition in your life. Not only are you 30 years old, but you are about to become a mother to a living, breathing, tiny human being that you and [hubby] created.

"I'm so very proud of you.

"Love, Mother"

I'm glad I found this piece of paper. I'm always saving things "just in case." In this case, it reminds me of where my head was back in 2001 and how excited I was over the prospect of becoming a grandmother. In fact, I actually became one two weeks later upon the birth of Little Dancing Girl. I guess I realized in 2001 that this was a period of transition for all of us and I'm happy now that I put some of my thoughts and emotions down on paper at that time.

How prophetic these words seem today as I listen to you talk about your life. With the addition of Baby Head Banger Little Sister a little more than a year and a half ago, you are now faced with many challenges -- the most important of which is determining what is most important in your life.

Since writing the above words, we have all gone through many changes in our lives -- your father retiring, my being down-sized, hubby being down-sized and going into business for himself, children growing from babies to toddlers to pre-schoolers, and brother-in-law working for hubby -- to name a few. Through it all, however, we have remained a family and continue to be supportive of one another. Isn't life sweet? Bye for now.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Writing our thoughts in a blog is like a tree falling in the forest. If no one's there to hear, does the tree falling in the forest make a sound?

Man's evil ways

I was scanning the news this morning on the Internet and was struck by the apparent disintegration of society.

I guess I really thought hard about it lately during the crisis in New Orleans. People were attacked, starved, ignored, threatened, raped, killed, drowned, neglected, and brutalized not only by nature, but by other human beings.

It seems as if serial killers and pedophiles are coming out of the woodwork. The headlines are rife with their deeds. Viciousness abounds. Rudeness and selfishness are givens in everyday society. Hate is everywhere. Genocide is commonplace, as are murder, rape, torture, lying, stealing, cheating, greed, gluttony – all the seven original sins and then some. Nothing really shocks us anymore.

What is happening? And, whose fault is it -- the parents, schools, churches, government, other people, or a breakdown of society in general? Is this something new, or has man been evil since the dawn of man? Is this the nature of man?

It seems that when I was growing up in the 1940s, life was simpler. You went to school, you said please, thank you, and may I, you said the Pledge of Allegiance every day at the start of school, and you did not steal, cheat, or intentionally hurt others. You were mortified if you embarrassed others. Yes, there were criminals at every level of society, but we were blissfully unaware. We walked everywhere with no qualms or trepidation. In fact, we rode the train into Chicago without escort at a very early age and never felt fearful. We played outside until dark with hardly any contact with parents unless we were forced to. We don’t remember being or feeling threatened by anyone in our little world.

Yes, I remember certain incidents in the past that would most likely qualify as unacceptable even in today’s society. There were suicides, rapes, sexual assaults, mental illness, incest, murders, and other acts against society that were horrendous even to those of us who were oblivious. But, we lived a 1950s Beaver Cleaver world where bad things didn’t happen to nice people and bad things were kept hushed up and not talked about, especially in front of the impressionable children. (Like the cousin none of us knew about until he sought us out more than fifty years later when he was searching for his roots and answers. The aunt and uncle still alive at the time of our cousin’s inquiry denied any knowledge of their sister’s pregnancy and refused to acknowledge his existence as a member of the family even though his physical resemblance is undeniable and his birth certificate does not lie.)

So, maybe these atrocities happened all the time but we were oblivious to them because of a silent conspiracy by our parents and the other adults around us. It just wasn’t polite to discuss bad things in front of the kids – only in whispers where others couldn’t hear.

Maybe things haven’t gotten worse after all. Maybe now we are just inundated constantly by the media because all the news not fit to print will sell more newspapers than good news any old day of the week. Sensationalism and reality TV garner a larger viewer share because we have become a society of voyeurs. And a larger audience equates a larger profit. Profit, after all is said and done, is the motive for our existence in a capitalistic society. And, greed is good. We are the envy of the world and everyone wants to live here.

But, what must other societies in the universe think of us?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Closing the pool: Can winter be far behind?

Husband has spent the last several days going through a checklist given to us by the pool company to close our pool for the season. When we went to the pool company the other day to test our water for the final time and to obtain supplies to close the pool, we were surprised how many others were there for the same reason. All the signs are present and fall is fast approaching. Can winter be far behind?

We have enjoyed the past month or so swimming and enjoying the warmth of the sun and water on our bodies. It was peaceful floating on noodles in the water. We watched hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, birds, and various insects flutter by. Some occasionally landed in or near the pool, attracted by the brilliant blue of the water and hoping to catch a taste. We enjoyed bringing our little boombox out and listening to music as we floated. It was relaxing to float and not care whether the dishes were done. It was relaxing to float and listen to the sounds of world swirl around us. It was invigorating to float and exercise. We only got out either when nature called, we got hungry, or we got pruned. We always slept soundly.

We knew our floating days were coming to an end when the leaves from our huge Hackberry tree started falling in and around the pool. The air temperature began dropping into the 60s at night and the pool temperature, even with a solar cover, failed to reach the middle 80s. Too cold to swim any more, we decided enough was enough. Our summer was over and we accepted that it was finally time to close.

Husband made one last cold dip into the pool to unhook and remove the pool steps weighted down by sandbags. Then he turned into an alchemist, mixing the chemicals in the right amounts and in the right order and introducing them into the pool water. The process is almost complete and he is making note of lessons learned for next season.

I don't know about you, but the older I get, the less I like cold weather. I don't like all the extra clothes you have to wear to stay warm and I don't like the ice. Snow looks pretty at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but cleaning the walk and driveway is getting to be a pain for husband. Driving becomes limited because of bad roads and bad, inexperienced drivers. Last winter we had a terrific snow that paralyzed our little town. We were snowbound in our house and street for a week. To prepare ourselves for the next big snow, we went online and purchased a large snowblower. Guess what -- it never snowed with any accumulation for the rest of the winter. Our beautiful snowblower sits in the garage as pristine as the day Home Depot delivered and removed it from the box. But, we are ready just in case it does snow and we have to get out of our driveway or street to go somewhere.

We will look at our pool this winter and wistfully dream of lovely, carefree floating days awaiting us next summer. Maybe those dreams will keep us warmer this winter than the prospect of terrifically higher heating bills that the economists are predicting. Brrr. Bye for now.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A tale of two tails

Five cats have allowed us to live in our house and take care of them.

Our latest adoption occurred when Darling Daughter's white cat Justina had a tryst with the resulting birth of four white fur balls. Suckers that we are, one white female with a light grey patch on the top of her head came to take over our hearts and hearth. Our eldest granddaughter had named her Tiger, but to me she didn't look like a tiger. During the drive home, we decided upon Tiger Lily as a compromise name. Granddaughter was very pleased.

The other four cats -- Alley Cat, Peaches, Sweetie, and Polly-I -- all grown up, territorial, and crotchety, hissed plenty when this puny, mewling baby show up at the house. None would come near this funny-smelling kitten. Eventually, however, Polly-I -- low man on the Alpha Cat totem pole -- decided she would mother Tiger Lily.

Polly-I was found on a cold, rainy Spring day huddled on the front passenger-side wheel of our van while we were in a local pizza restaurant, Pagliai's, having lunch. By the looks of her, she was about six weeks old, starving, cold, wet, and sickly looking. We didn't hesitate. We immediately took her into the car, wiped her off with a hand towel and fed her leftover pizza -- hence, her name Polly-I in honor of our auspicious meeting at an Italian pizza restaurant. As you can see, she has turned into a sleek, beautiful cat, very gentle in nature, and even though she has been spayed, she took to mothering Tiger Lily like a pro. Now, they are inseparable. Our other cats have also accepted Tiger Lily's playful antics and are generous enough to allow her to eat her fill of the canned food before they each have a taste. Although each cat has a distinct personality, we love them all (with certain reservations toward Peaches who can sometimes be a naughty cat). Fate has led them all to us under different circumstances, and as Martha would say, that's a good thing. Bye for now.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A visit to Nashville, a tale of two knees

Yesterday was spent driving through rain and more rain to Nashville. God knows, we certainly needed the rain. As a matter of fact, it hasn't rained here since Katrina. I drove slower than usual, kept away from all the big rigs and idiots racing along the roadway (as if it was dry outside) and still made it to Nashville in two hours. By the time we hit the Tennessee border, the rain had slowed, and amazingly enough, it stopped completely as we approached the city limits.

I had an appointment with a preeminent joint replacement MD to examine my bad knees. He had been highly recommended by several folks I know who had gone through surgeries with him. I was assured that this guy was the best in Nashville. He even operates in a "space suit" to minimize the incidence of infection. That sold me. Following a thorough and lengthy exam, with lots of x-rays taken and lots of questions asked, the consensus was that he would replace my right knee. Getting ready will take time and the earliest opening for the surgery is in February 2006. There are so many things to do that I was given a binder as a sort of to-do list. We were educated on what was going to happen over the course of the next several months and made an appointment to attend a three-hour knee class given by one of the doctor's RNs. We left the office in a daze. Husband was upset that the MD didn't insist on doing both knees, so I had to assure him that the doctor knew whereof he spoke. I'm looking forward to getting this done, but also know that lots of hard work awaits me in preparation for the surgery (a major deal) and the rehab after (a huge major deal). The promise of actually being able to walk (without pain) through Wal-Mart sold me completely. Shop on! If I don't have the resolve to do the exercises before and after, I will end up with a stiff knee and poor results.

We finally left the doctor's office, and as we made our way out of town, we again drove through lots and lots of rain. As we approached Kentucky, the rain slowed and finally stopped completely by the time we got home. We were tired from our long day (four hours driving, four hours in the doctor's office, and a short time at Cracker Barrel in Clarksville, TN). Before I could go to bed, however, I wanted to call Darling Daughter, Sympathetic Sister, and Sweet Son and Lovely Daughter-in-law to give them the news. All were glad to hear that the doctor was actually going to perform the surgery and relieve me from this semi-invalid state. Oh, joy.

Today is Friday. I've had my cuppa tea but am still sleepy as I type this entry. Husband plans to continue cleaning the garage. As Martha would say, that's a good thing. I don't know what I will do today. Whatever it is will also be a good thing. It's great to be alive. Bye for now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

If it's trash pick-up day, it must be Wednesday

My kitten woke me up at 5 a.m., kissing me, purring in my face, walking all over me, saying, "Get up, motherkitty, and feed me." She has done this for the past several mornings. At first I was really annoyed, but now I rather enjoy being up when the rest of the world is still slumbering. It was still dark outside when I got up, but it has now lightened up a little. Fed the cats, then realized that I still had time to get that last bag of trash out to the curb before the trash truck came at 6 a.m. So, it must be Wednesday. When you're retired, it easy to forget the time and the day unless you associate them with certain recurring events.

I found a blog the other day called anonymous lawyer that really blew my mind. I had never read anything/anyone so egotistical and self-centered in all my life. I sure wouldn't hire this guy if I was in trouble. Actually e-mailed him with a few comments, but I guess I'm not worthy of a response since I haven't heard from him. I had figured he was a Californian, and Monday's post indicated he was in Los Angeles. At first I thought about how one person could say demeaning things about others. I also thought about all the times I have said nasty things about others who didn't meet my "standards." What a wake-up call. I hope anonymous lawyer finds the true meaning of life before he loses his anonymous wife and anonymous children. I plan to continue to monitor his blog to find out what happens.

Tomorrow is the day my husband and I travel to see a specialist about my knees. I have a good deal of trepidation about undergoing a serious surgery, but the prospect of being an invalid is scarier. So, I will do whatever it takes to get back on track physically. My mother lived out her last days in a wheelchair, something I'm not willing to do. BTW, I love our pool so much. Next year will be a lot of fun getting out every day and swimming. I love the exercise and the peacefulness of floating on the water, watching the birds, butterflies, bugs, cats, and dogs, and listening to nice music as we swim. I find that my husband and I are actually talking more calmly rather than being annoyed with each other all the time. Besides, it will be a good excuse for darling daughter to bring the granddaughters over for visits more often.

Time to get a cup of tea and watch CNN. So much is happening in the world, a lot of it bad. I'm looking for the good. Bye for now.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Monday morning wake-up call

Here I am, sitting at the computer at 7:30 in the a.m., with one cat sitting next to my mouse and four others waiting to be fed, typing into this blog. Yesterday, Sunday, was spent in the pool, so today we are tired. Being retired, there is no agenda. There are no deadlines to keep, there is no urgency to getting up and getting dressed. We will have leisurely cups of tea/coffee, go out onto the back deck, look at the yard and maybe decide whether today's a good day to mow. There are no appointments today, so we must decide whether there's a chore to be done or some place to go. It might sound boring, but after a lifetime of rush, rush, rush, it feels a bit like heaven. Our friends who are also retired also go through this state of ennui in the beginning, but eventually settle into some sort of routine. I have a doctor's appointment in Nashville on the 15th. He will evaluate my knees to see if I am a candidate for joint replacement. I'm a lot scared to go under the knife, but the alternative is eventually being wheelchair-bound, a prospect I'm not willing to settle for. I do not intend to become like my mother who spent the last years of her life being a prisoner of her home, sitting in a wheelchair. We have been exercising almost every day in the pool in an attempt to strenghten our muscles and lose some weight. If I have the surgery, I will be able to continue my rehabilitation in the pool. We must also drive to Murray to pick up my van at our daughter's. She has been driving it for the past month or so since their vehicle was in the shop being repaired. I must take my van to the transmission place in Paducah for a checkup. Well, time to get a cup of tea and open these eyes to the world. Maybe I'll go swimming today or mow the lawn. How decadent is that? Bye for now.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Welcome to my world

Who would have thought that I would reveal myself to the world at large by creating and posting to a blog? My daughter has one, which was a complete surprise, and posted an entry this morning in honor of Grandparents' Day. Thank you sweet Alipurr. Today is also the fourth anniversary of 9/11 and I am remembering with great emotion where I was and what I was doing while our nation's tragedy was occurring. I am thinking of all the grandparents in America who are/were affected by 9/11 and all the grandparents who were killed on 9/11 and their children and grandchildren who will never know and love their grandparents. I am also thinking of those affected by Hurricane Katrina and my wish for the living victims is for a new and better life. My wish for all grandparents on this special day is that you know the love of family and friends