Mending

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Two stacks of stuff that seem to grow much more quickly than they diminish are the junk mail that needs to be sifted through just in case there might be some scrap of interest (one time I found a crisp dollar bill for some unsolicited survey) and to remove the name and address from before moving it to the recycle box, and the other is the mountain of mending which grows every time I thumb through the assortment of choices in the closet.

Ah, this top would be great to wear today and pulling it off the hanger I discover that the only button on the front has gone missing.  I’ve also found that wash cloths like to unravel around the perimeter of the fabric and if one doesn’t catch the movement before the whole thing turns to threads, there could be a lot fewer facecloths than towels in the cupboard.

A few years ago I decided to turn the edges of the cloths under, rolling as little material as possible and sewing by hand in my tiniest possible stitches, the washcloth looks almost new, but for a slightly thicker rim than it originally had.

Feeling a bit bogged down by life last week, I looked at a scrappy white washcloth and began the time consuming business of rolling the edge and stitching it down.  For some reason I found the task gratifying and as I progressed from one side, around the corner and down the next side I began to feel good about getting this done.  One of the ways to keep the plasticity of the brain, I had heard, besides computer games and taking new routes, is sewing.  At the very least, I was able to add a useful item back into the linen closet.

As to the junk mail, I did shrink that heap by half and filled the box to take to the church paper dumpster, so that was a relief, and the rest is awaiting my next burst of energy.

Salty Snacks

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Pringles. Yum.  I polished off the mid-sized container in two sittings.  If it hadn’t been so late when I shut down the computer last night, I could have easily consumed all of them.   The flavor is mild and not like anything in particular so I am not sure why they are so addictive.  Maybe it is just the salt.  I had gotten through most of the evening and then I read an e-mail from my Uncle Bob which purported that studies on mice were in and it is now thought that the old belief that salt was SO bad for us, just might not be entirely correct.

After I responded to my uncle, I headed directly to the cupboard where I had a tube of Pringles which I had been avoiding since the man on the plane next to me coming home from Colorado gave them to me, and with no guilt at all pulled it open and dug right in to the precisely shaped and neatly stacked layers of chips. How could something so simple be so delightful?

Someone on television that day said she felt fabulous and I had been wondering when I could last say that with any degree of integrity.  But full of those thin salted chips was probably pretty close, at least until I am forced to face the numbers on the scale again.

When the children were living with me and I was inclined to take advantage of good prices on such snacks, (two or three for…) I often had ruffled potato chips and sour cream and onion flavored ones and lime, stuffed into our cupboards.  There had been a steady stream of kid traffic in the house, though the rule was, no friends indoors if I am not home, so we burned through bags of chips at a high rate, to the extent that my quiet and rarely critical mother even said, “You give those kids too many snacks!”

A few years ago my cousin, Theresa introduced me to the flat pretzel, dear me, they also have a sour cream onion variety.  I try to limit my purchase of salty snacks to nuts, pumpernickel sticks and blue corn chips, which I have told myself are less harmful than most other chips and I usually use them with humus or a salsa to which I add black beans and corn, thus rationalizing that there might even be some benefit in them.

Perhaps the only way not to go overboard with salty snacks, is like everything else, the secret word is moderation.

News Notes

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I have never stopped documenting life as it unfolded before me.  Whether I was writing the family news and views letters, or taking pictures at every family, friends, or office event, I was compelled to capture the Who, What, When, Where, and Why, which were the basic questions at the tip of the tongue of every journalist back when I first got acquainted with the subject in the late 1950s.  Through my junior year of high school I wrote for the school paper and the following year was very involved in working on our yearbook.

For many years I recall watching the Nightline program and listening to Ted Koppel as he reported on all that was going on in the world from 1980-2005.  Of all the words that came forth from this serious man with a generous crop of reddish brown hair, what I remember best, with amusement, was when he responded to what must have been a frequently asked question without saying he was not wearing a toupee, that yes, it was real and it is his own.  Today it is still thick, but white.

Not only have people changed, but the world has changed incredibly from a few decades ago and I expect that today Journalists still dig for the facts and pursue their stories doggedly, but the advent of digital filming has changed the way we get the information and Mr. Koppel, recently a guest on the Tavis Smiley show, said he did not feel that the immediacy of broadcast video live from the scene was real journalism.   His was the school of all the news that’s fit to print.  A reporter would gather the story, the facts, the pictures, then come back to his or her desk and type it all out and the story would be reviewed by a copy editor to be sure there were no mistakes in the grammar and spelling and the editor in chief would have the final say if the story would actually get to press.

I do get that something happening and spilling out right before our eyes is considerably different from the days of getting the facts, developing some photographs, writing the story, having it edited and reviewed before it was put to print was really different.  Perhaps the older way of documenting a story was a surer way of getting all the facts, not just viewing a scene which is then open to individual interpretations and not necessarily an accurate or complete account of a situation.

As technology screams forward, I imagine that news sharing around the world will continue to evolve and while it may or may not provide us with outstanding bards in the business, the bottom lines of who, what, when, where and why will probably continue to pour forth enough to satisfy the general public who won’t likely have the time or interest in news in depth.

New Shoes

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Sometimes it takes a bit of talking to myself to just get out the door and go someplace that I want to go, but keep dragging my feet hoping someone will join me in the effort.  Of course that is a good way of opting for a default of going nowhere.  I’ve heard that going a new route, or to a place you haven’t been to before is good exercise for the brain, so I got directions to the Steelyard Commons from Danny at the office and with no other agenda on Sunday and under blue skies after four solid days of rain, I set off heading west on highway 480 and getting off at 176 going north and following signs from there.

The total drive time was probably just over fifteen or twenty minutes and I parked right across the road from the shoe outlet that one of the Zumba ladies advised me about.  Sure enough there was a clearance wall at the back of the store, but no wide width shoes and only one lane of wide width shoes in the whole store.  That still left me with a good assortment to choose from.

The new shoe fabric of memory foam is really very comfortable and with the damage to my toes from arthritis the old walking shoes I’ve been wearing have finally become intolerable.  I found one pair so comfortable I wore them home and decided on two more for work, casual wear and exercise classes. What kind of salesman would not remind me that since I was going to buy 3, I could get one more pair and take advantage of the two for rate.  Although I spent so much time picking out the first three, I did manage to find one more in a different color that would be suitable and so much more comfortable than the ones at home.  So, for a little more than what I paid for 2 pairs of new shoes a couple of months ago, I got four pairs. Such is the advantage of shopping at an outlet store.

At home I pulled all the older, still wearable, but stiffer material culprits from the row of walking shoes and bagged them to go elsewhere, hopefully to someone with younger, less damaged feet to help them until they can afford newer ones too.

Finding Joy

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Caught in the act of smiling and enjoying seeing the young black man with a heavy beard and wearing a hoodie carefully looking at a bouquet of tulips in each hand, one white with delicate touches of purple and the other red with yellow accents, he must have felt my attention because after a moment he looked directly at me as I was approaching to pass by.  I just couldn’t help enjoying the fact that he was so carefully trying to decide which flowers would please a certain lady the most.  As I got closer he asked which one I thought she might prefer.  I said they were both beautiful and if he gave them to her with love, she would be happy.  With a few more seconds we both thought the white with purple ones were more delicate and so he made his selection and I moved down the aisle past pretzels and chips.  If only, I thought, she could see the care he put into making the choice, she would appreciate them even more.  I felt lucky to have witnessed the moment.

So often it seems I am blessed to capture a lovely picture or event which only has a brief life, but to me seems so special.  Perhaps it is because my own life pace has slowed down from the break neck work a day world I was racing through during the years of rearing my children.  At least that seems to be my present day perspective.

A few weeks ago when the new stove and dishwasher I finally decided to buy arrived, the young man who both hauled out the dead or near dead appliances and brought in and installed the new ones, had gone to the basement to reset the circuit breaker.  When he got back up the stairs he mentioned that he really liked the three foot square painting that Mika had done when we were still in Parma.  It was just a few feet from the circuit breaker box on the wall, where it has been all these years.  When she was here almost six years ago she asked me if I wanted her to finish the painting which is a kind of surrealist view of Humpty Dumpty falling backwards with figures, horses and knights around him.  I didn’t much care, but here was a young man quite excited about that canvas.

Happily I told him my daughter painted it and that I would e-mail her and tell her he liked it.  I then said I would just give it to him myself and he said oh no, he couldn’t just take it, she might want something for it.  So with some level of excitement I e-mailed her.  A week later when there was still no response, I was moved to e-mail my children’s father and ask if he’d heard from her in the last month and he responded that he had and she sounded fine.  Then he asked if I had some concern, so I did explain and thanked him for responding.

Another week went by before she got back to me, with the same pleased feeling that I had.  So I called the phone number he had given me and left the message that she was happy to have the painting hanging on a wall instead of in my basement.

When he got back to me he was really happy (all this time I had been thinking what a fine son-in-law he would make, just living down the main street from me a little way and so capable of so many things!)

Arriving at my door with a big cloth to wrap the painting in he let me take a photo of him smiling with the painting before he carefully covered the artwork and gave me the agreed upon amount of money which I then wrote a check for and mailed to her, and after placing the painting in the back of his truck, he pulled a strap over each end and I was relieved that he secured it so well since the wind had been quite strong all day.  As he drove away I was very content, imagining him building a frame for it and hanging it on his front room wall to proudly display when his friends and family would come to visit him.

Best Behavior

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“Now, I don’t want to hear anything on the news this evening about you getting into a tussle with the flight attendants on your way home and getting hauled off the airplane!”  My cousin’s husband warned me as I thanked them for their hospitality during my visit.

No, no that wasn’t my pattern of behavior.  As someone raised in the “children are to be seen and not heard” era, and then educated in the Catholic school system, I was a quiet and obedient child who had no idea what my “rights” were and couldn’t have been more surprised as an adult to learn that anyone had the faintest interest in what I thought or felt about anything.

My first airplane trip was an afternoon outing with a few girls in my junior year of high school and our Chaplin, to Deerfield Village in Michigan.  Going into my senior year of high school, my father decided that our little family along with our two grandmothers would take a six week trip to Europe.  Back then traveling was an occasion for dressing in our Sunday best, and behaving in a manner which reflected well on our parents.

As a young adult I traveled with friends here and there and it was always fun, adventuresome and a privilege.  It was not until September 11, 2001 that not only did our whole country change from the terrible experience with the terrorists, but the business of flying from point A to point B was no longer so enjoyable.  It was just a matter of getting where one wanted to go and back in the shortest amount of time and putting up with long delays in lines, TSA measures, and often being patted down because there was a slightly baggy area around the knees or shoulders.   For the last three or four years I’ve worn my snuggest tops and pants and still got called over to get my share of the day’s pats.  I always found this aggravating and I didn’t think I could wear my clothes any tighter and still move around.

This year I have invested the time and money in getting a Known Traveler Number and used it for the first time this month and I was still stopped so the TSA person could have a closer look at what was in my carry-on bag.  First she told me she had to open the bag and I said, fine.  Then she asked me if there was anything in the bag that might hurt her, and I said,  “There is a big chocolate bunny,…” a travel journal, a book of short stories, my SLR camera in it’s case, in which there was also an apple, a small piece of foil wrapped chocolate and a container of costume jewelry.  So what caused the alarm, I have no idea.  She never said, just rifled around a bit, re-zipped the bag and sent me off to find my gate of departure.  So, it is getting a little better, but is not perfect and I seriously doubt it can ever be as much fun as it was when I was a younger woman.

Now it seems like road rage has spilled over into other avenues of 21st century life and the respect for ourselves and others that I was raised to abide by has evaporated into confrontational eruptions at the slightest provocations, or when an ego is easily bruised.

Has no one heard the words of Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta, when dealing with such difficult situations, “…there are many kinds of poverty.”

At the end of the day

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Easter Sunday, the most important holy day of the year in the Catholic Church, was lovely and sunny as we headed into Denver early for Theresa’s choir practice, which they did right in the choir loft this time, not in the confines of another sealed off room, so everyone who arrived early got to hear the music as they went through their paces before the real production during the Mass.

From the church we went back to the family home and started the preparations for the evening meal and the guests.  I peeled and chopped carrots, peeled the eggs to be deviled and took pictures of all the decorations.  Theresa zoomed around doing everything else.  She baked fresh beets, peeled and cut them and had prepared some dishes including the main course of Wiener schnitzel the evening before, setting up a few things that could be done in advance.  There was red cabbage, tiny potatoes, perogies, and Phyllis brought a crock pot of pork and sauerkraut per the recipe from Ken and Rich’s mom, Helen.

During the last section of time before company would arrive, Theresa set me up to watch the movie Frida, which she was astonished I had not yet seen, about the wife of the best known Mexican artist, Diego Rivera.  The movie was quite well done and bits and pieces of it are still floating around in my head.  It was just over on time as Phyllis and Rich arrived, followed by Jessi and her beau, Ryan.  Last to arrive was Ana’s friend, Tanner who charmed everyone by announcing to Theresa that he wanted to kiss Ana on the lips.

The meal was grand and enjoyed by all as the sun was setting and we had scattered from the dining area to the deck to see the sun fading into the horizon and someone guiding a glow in the dark drone in the neighborhood.

Holidays come and holidays go and Monday morning found Theresa and I heading off to the airport where we hugged goodbye for the time being.  I went into the terminal to make my way to the flight that would bring me home and she parked her car and went on to a meeting in Chicago for the week.