Monday, August 31, 2015

An Unnerving Walk

"I’ll bet the evenings are beautiful up there by now,” said my friend, Carol, via text this evening.
“Yes, they are,” I told her. “Why do you say that?”
“Well, the last two times we talked, you mentioned that you were feeling a little depressed. It might be good for you to take a walk. In fact, why don’t you go take a walk right now and text me when you get back?”
I looked at the clock. It was a few minutes till 9. I didn’t really want to go for a walk this late. Alone. In the dark. But, on second thought, I have no right to complain about feeling “down” if I don’t try something that might make it better. So I simply said, “Okay.”
“Good,” Carol said. “Don’t forget to text me when you get back.”
“I will.”
“I can do this!” I said aloud, tho’ no one was in the room.
I ran to Mr. H’s den where he was in his recliner about to nod off.
“I’m going for a short walk,” I told him.
“A walk?” he asked – more than a little surprised.
“Yep. Carol sort of challenged me; I have to do it.”
He chuckled and said, “Okay. Enjoy.” He was used to these kinds of things between my friend and me.
I opened the front door and peered out into the muggy darkness as if there might be something lurking there to change my mind. But everything looked okay, so out I went, up the driveway and into the street. I reminded myself that I used to do this all the time. I don’t know when I became afraid to go for a walk after dark. I don’t think it’s fear, actually. More like laziness. It’s too easy to sit at my computer and write or watch a movie on TV after dinner.
One beautiful fall, a few years back, I’d go out about 10 o’clock every night and walk my whole neighborhood from one end to the other. I believe the distance is close to two miles. It’s rather hilly in places, too, but I considered this good exercise and took the hills with even more enthusiasm. I’ll admit that some areas were darker than others and I’d get a little nervous going through these, but that’s when I’d recite a poem or sing a little song until I was back in sight of a streetlight again.
I kept this up most evenings until the snow was flying and the temps were in the low teens. I loved walking in the extreme cold. One really doesn’t get that cold if she’s walking rather fast. I never felt better in my life than I did then! It was exhilarating!
But I’m afraid I didn’t do that well tonight. My mission was to go for a walk (she didn’t say how far or how many minutes) to prove to my friend that I could and would do as she suggested to make myself feel better.
And so... I walked to the end of my street and back. Not very far, but it is on a hill that renders one incredibly breathless about halfway up.
I might have walked farther, but there was an incident that unnerved me. Looking up at the stars, I noticed a small, black flying creature hovering under the streetlight. Shivering, I remembered my children coming home after dark in the summertime telling me that bats flew down from the streetlights – right at them. The kids would scream and run in all directions. They still talk about that when they’re all home for a visit.
I finished the rest of the hill in record time.
As I opened the door, I could hear my phone beeping and knew that Carol was checking to see if I’d actually gone for a walk. The message read: “Uh huh, the old text you when I get back trick.”
“Haha! No, I really did it! I walked to the end of the street and back. It’s still too humid for me.”
“Good girl!” Carol said.
She goes to bed much earlier than I, so we said “Goodnight” and promised to talk again tomorrow.
But she was right. I felt much better – even though it was a short walk. It may have given me the jump-start I need to get back into the habit of walking again. I could use the exercise.
However, since I prefer walking at night, I’ll probably wait until cold weather when bats hibernate.
Bats do hibernate, don’t they? 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Favorites Don't Last

Some things defy explanation.
For instance, why is it that an old article of clothing you care little for, stays bright and in good repair, while a favorite or brand new item always seems to get marred in some way?
While shopping at a department store with my daughters yesterday, I was standing at a cosmetic counter sampling some make-up, when the young lady behind the counter took an applicator sponge out of a bottle of foundation to show me the shade and somehow splashed it all over one side of my new shirt. It was only the second time I’d worn it and, just minutes before, I’d told my daughter that I had a feeling I’d be wearing it a lot more.
"It's already a favorite,” I said.
The saleslady either didn’t realize what she’d done or didn’t care because she didn’t even apologize. I was a little upset and hurried to the restroom where I dabbed cold water on the spots in an attempt to get the makeup out – to no avail. A sweet elderly lady with a cane saw what I was doing and said, “Honey, when you get home, spray Shout on those spots and let the shirt lie for a couple of days before you wash it. The stain will come out, I promise you.” I thanked her and left – only half believing in her advice.
But as I write this, the shirt is lying on my dryer, damp with Shout. I plan to wash it tomorrow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed the lady was right.

As I told Mr. H. about the incident, the memory of a similar episode surfaced.
I was in the fifth grade. My mother had just bought me a darling dress! I can still see it. I’d had nothing quite like it before nor have I since. The colors sound odd for a little girl, but take my word for it, it was very pretty. The top was white with little cap sleeves. At the waist, cotton fabric of brown and white checks was gathered onto the bodice and flared out into a full, circular skirt. That was part of the reason I loved it so – the way it flounced about when I walked. I felt so grown-up!
On the day I wore my new dress, I and my classmates arrived at our desks to find a bottle of ink and a fine-point Esterbrook Lever Fill Fountain Pen.
“Today, we’ll be having a Penmanship lesson,” said our teacher, Mrs. Hensley. “First, very carefully open the bottle of ink on your desk,” she said. “We’re going to learn how to fill the pen with ink. I was so excited! I’d seen the letters of the alphabet written with these fine-point pens and they were so beautiful! I couldn’t wait to learn how to make them myself!
But alas! my excitement wasn’t to last long. Just as I picked up my pen, ready to follow the teacher’s filling instructions, the boy in front of me, Raymond, turned around to say something and his elbow hit my bottle of ink knocking it into my lap – all over my beautiful new dress!
Jumping up from my desk, I screamed at him, “Oh, no! Look what you’ve done!” Tears welled in my eyes and threatened to spill over, but I held them back. Mrs. Hensley took me to the restroom and cleaned me up as best she could, but the ink in my dress wouldn’t budge. We went back to class, but Penmanship instruction was over for that day.
When I got home from school, I took the dress off and left it in the bathroom. I watched for my mother to come home from work and met her at the door. “Oh, Mother, you’ll never believe what happened,” I said breathlessly – and continued non-stop until I’d blurted out the whole story.
She hugged me and said, “I’ll see what I can do, honey, but ink – I’m not sure. It may not come out.”
“Oh, I hope it will,” I whined.
Sadly, although my mother tried every type of spot remover she’d ever heard of on the dress and then soaked it in a sudsy brew overnight, the ink was there to stay! My beautiful brown and white dress was ruined after wearing it only once. Heartbroken, I cried myself to sleep that night.
I’ve never forgotten that dress. After many, many years, I still remember how the circular skirt fluttered around my legs when I walked, making me feel sort of “impish.” I had countless new dresses throughout the years, but none of them were ever quite as special as that brown and white checked dress.
I hope the shirt lying on my dryer doesn’t end up in the same category.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Will You Take Five Ones?

“May I have an extra twenty?” said Mr. H. to the Walmart cashier who’d just checked him out.
“Yes, Sir, here you go,” the cashier said as he handed Mr. H. a twenty dollar bill and slammed the cash drawer.
“But I wanted a ten and two fives,” Mr. H. explained.
“Too late,” said the young man. “I can’t reopen the cash drawer. You’ll have to go to the Money Center.”
So off to the Money Center went Mr. H.
“Can you give me a ten and two fives for this twenty?” he asked, explaining that the cashier closed the drawer and couldn’t reopen it.
“Sorry, Sir. I can’t open my cash drawer either,” said the young lady. “Try Customer Service.”
“Okay, thanks,” said Mr. H. and headed for Customer Service.
“Hi there, what can I do for you?” said a pleasant young lady.
“I need a ten and two fives for this twenty; can you do it?”
“Sure can,” she answered, opening her cash drawer.
“Oops!” she said. “I don’t have any tens. Would you take four fives?”
“Yes, that’ll be fine,” said Mr H. glad to have the matter settled at last.
“Uh-O! I only have three fives. Would you take five ones?”
“Sure,” chuckled Mr. H.
And then, with a little chuckle of her own, the woman said, “Oh, my! I only have three ones.” To which Mr. H. quickly replied, “No, I won’t take eight quarters!”
With a little assistance from another employee, the woman finally got the cash she needed and handed Mr. H. the four fives for which he'd been waiting.
When he told me about this, I laughed and shook my head in disbelief.
“You don’t believe me?” he said. “I couldn’t make up a story like that if I tried.”

Friday, August 7, 2015

It’s Psychological - Part Two

When my friend, Carol, read my post, It’s Psychological, she wrote to ask, “You do know that running late doesn’t count as a workout, don’t you?” I laughed and said, “Yes, I’ve heard that,” but then, being the good friend she is, she softened it with, “That’s okay. If you’re always on time, people will begin to expect it.” :)
Just to be clear – and totally honest, I was on time once. Early, actually. And so very proud of myself I was when I arrived a whole five minutes early at the place of the meeting I was to attend. But as I turned the doorknob, I noticed a piece of paper taped to the door with a note on it. It read: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, the meeting is postponed until further notice.”
Disappointed doesn’t cover it. (Prideful comes close.)
There I was – early for an appointment for possibly the first and last time in my life and there was no one there to witness it. Bummer! But to be fair, there is one more thing to my credit in this department.
I am never late for church!
How could I be? Mr. H. stands at the door looking at his watch, tapping his foot and every few minutes reminds me, “It’s time to go.” The car is idling in the driveway, the door on my side standing wide open.
“Okay, I’ll be right there!” I squeal – a definite edge to my voice.
So, off I go. finally. Earrings in my hand – sometimes shoes, too, I leap into the car, Mr. H. closes the door and we’re on our way while I finish getting dressed. It’s about a 15 minute drive and, by the time we pull onto the church parking lot, I’m all together and ready to greet friends and acquaintances. I smile coolly as we walk in - as if I'd been ready for hours - and hope they never guess I was an emotional wreck only 20 minutes ago.
One thing's for sure: they'll never find my picture beside the word, "Organized" in the dictionary!

It’s Psychological

Always late. That’s me.
I was born two weeks late and have been late for everything since. My mother made the age-old comment numerous times, “There’s no doubt about it – you’ll be late for your own funeral!” My tardiness drove her crazy. She was the opposite. Very scheduled. Never late. My eldest daughter is just like her.
Some say it’s inconsiderate and rude to be late. I suppose they’re right, but those who say that don’t know me. When I have an appointment, I get up three hours earlier so I’ll be sure to have enough time. You see, I have good intentions, but I’m still always late.
Mr. H. says, “You just need to get up earlier.”
“If I get up any earlier, I may as well not go to bed,” I tell him.
Somehow I think if I got up six hours earlier, I’d still be late. The more time I have, the more things I find to do. I don’t understand it.
So I did a little research and discovered that I may be “choosing to be late.”
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
Here’s what I read: "If you are literally always 10 minutes late, it's psychological. You're arriving exactly when you want. The question is 'why?'” Supposedly, the answer depends on your personality type. “For some people, it's a resistance thing – a carryover of rebelliousness from childhood. You don't want to do what other people expect you to do."
Nope! Not a rebellious bone in this body!
Another category is the "crisis-maker," someone who thrives on the mini-crisis of running late. "These are people who cannot get themselves together until they get an adrenaline rush," Psychologist, Linda Sapadin explains. "They need to be under the gun to get themselves moving."
I don’t think either of these categories describes me. I’ll probably never know why I can’t seem to conquer this flaw in my character, but I am quite certain that when I die, the hearse carrying my body from the funeral home to the church will have a flat tire or be delayed by a train on the tracks...
And I’ll be late for my “own funeral” just as my mother always predicted. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August Perspectives

August 1st

More than half of another year gone – like smoke in the air. A month from now, summer will start to consider moving on and letting fall take over – if  we can wait out the mercury, that is.
After a rainy spring, it finally got up in the high 80’s and low 90’s – the kind of weather I always rail against. I hear it’s been so hot, even the snakes have sought shelter!  :)
To quote Bart Simpson, it’s craptacular!
However, no worries for me. I just don’t go out of the house! Mr. H. is good enough to run all of the errands while I do the housework (not much), laundry and cooking. Works out well – being total opposites as we are.
I’ve had the chance to do some things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. For instance, I spent the last week watching all five seasons of the Downton Abbey series that I missed when everyone I knew was so engrossed in them that I felt left out when they went on and on about the stories I knew nothing about. But I’m up-to-snuff now! I can discuss Downton Abbey with the most knowledgable of them. It was a wonderful series. Educational. Emotional. Engrossing. I can’t wait for Season Six in January!
With time on my hands, I tend to ponder the past. Remembering both the good and bad brings forth both laughter and tears. When I think of all those years ago when Mr. H. and I were first married, it’s like a dream. We both had our parents, grandparents and lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. It was a happy time. We thought we’d never grow old.
“Will you still love me when I’m old and gray and chubby like my grandma?” I’d sometimes ask Mr. H. His answer was always the same, “You’ll never be old, but yes, I’ll still love you, no matter what.” We’d laugh, but neither of us could imagine ever being old. The world was our oyster!
Then came our children and many chaotic, but joyful, years of parenthood.
However, it was during those wonderful years that we began to lose people we loved. Some, like our grandparents, were ordinary get-old-and-die departures; difficult for sure, but those that were not ordinary were the hardest. We had several premature deaths: sudden heart attacks at 40-something, two suicides, one senseless murder and one accidental electrocution. There was leukemia, an unnecessary death during surgery and premature babies that didn’t make it.
In recent years, serious, life-threatening health issues have arisen in two of our children and Alzheimer's in a beloved relative. No one knows what will happen next, but one thing for sure, as I await the season I love best – autumn, I will cherish every minute of every day!
“Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice because the flow that has passed will never pass again.”