Putting My Life in Order

My work table looks like a bomb exploded on top of it. No bomb though. Just old photos scattered all over the work space. I’m in the middle of organizing a bazillion of them; a Covid-era project.They’re being put in albums in chronological order, starting with the tiny 2×2’s of me in my new mother’s arms, both of us in a comfy little upholstered rocker. I look oblivious but ensconced. Content.

That’s just the beginning. The first child gets a lot of photographic attention, so my next two and a half years are well-documented in black and white. My first steps, first birthday, first Christmas, first kiss from an overly affectionate little toddler boy (I don’t look thrilled), aunts, uncles, grandparents. Even a neighbor’s big boxer dog got into a couple pictures with me.

Then my sister came along and I was no longer the star of the show. I didn’t  like it much but I went along. Now there were two smiling faces aimed at the camera. We were cute kids, I have to admit. Two wholesome-looking, chubby-cheeked cherubs.

When I was five we left Florida and the camera went with us as we traveled out west for my dad’s new Air Force Career. Photos in Kansas, Texas, Colorado, California, Nevada and then back to Florida when I was eight. That camera covered a lot of ground.

Fast forward a dozen years and a couple of graduations later and there’s a photo of a bride and groom smiling at each other, ready to take on the world, blissfully unaware of just what that would entail.

A few moves later and I’m the one in the rocker cradling a newborn in my arms. Then another newborn and another and another.  The photos just keep on coming. Documenting four children, a divorceé, a new career, a new house, a new boyfriend, grandkids, trips, a retirement party. They kept on coming until I went digital and was no longer sending spools of film to Kodak. The end of an era.

And now here I am at 72, seeing my whole life strewn before my eyes. Just the good parts of course. That’s as it should be in photos. Seeing all the happy faces has had an unexpected effect on me. It’s reminded me that although my life hasn’t ended up the way I’d planned, and has left me with some regrettable memories, it’s been pretty damn good, too, overall. The photos have brought my perspective into balance.

Circa 1948

 

Posted in children, Covid-19, dreams, emotions, family, human interest, love, mother, nostalgia, poetry, psychology, relationships, sadness, senior citizens, spirituality, Uncategorized, women | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Circling of Birds

Yesterday morning, as I walked one of my hundreds of cabin-fever walks in my suburban neighborhood, I saw a flock of maybe fifty or so mockingbird-sized birds flying in a big elongated circle over and over, not too far above the rooftops. They came so close I could hear the whirring of their wings overhead.

The sight and sound of all those swishing, speeding, circling birds kept me standing there staring, hungry to see and hear it again and again. They seemed to be doing it just for the fun of it, some exhilaration of theirs that had no rhyme or reason. They were playing.

I watched until their circling carried them farther away and I could no longer hear their wings swishing and a few birds peeled off. Then I walked on, delight clinging to me all the way home.

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Covid Courtship?

I thought I was done with men after the last one bit the dust, but I have an incorrigible side that won’t give up. My head says forget about guys, find a cause to espouse, get a dog or a cat! But that incorrigible side will have nothing to do with that kind of talk. Nope. So I’m looking for a guy or two to go out with now and then. Who knows, maybe even a real relationship.

Before Covid, I decided to subscribe to a Catholic dating website for six months. I’m seventy-two, not exactly ancient in my opinion–my hair isn’t even gray yet–and I like to have fun.  I had three dates with a nice man whose cat was the love of his life, but we just didn’t click. At least I didn’t. Then Covid came along and I figured it’s insane to try and connect with someone right now. But I paid for the service, and I’m not one to let good money go to waste.

After a little searching, I found a nice man an hour and a half away and we had a great texting relationship for a few weeks. He was funny, in good shape, pretty cute, and intelligent. He suggested having lunch somewhere half way, but I wasn’t quite ready for a restaurant, not trusting who’s on the other side of the griddle just yet. It’s been over a week since I’ve heard from him; maybe he’s moved on.

Meanwhile, a cute guy just 45 minutes away contacted me and he’s willing to come to me (men my age who are conveniently located are rare on this website!). My solution to the restaurant dilemma is to meet him at a county park near the expressway and have a little chat, maybe take a walk–until we start melting. August in Florida isn’t the best time to be outside–talk about a hot date!

He agreed, and that’s supposed to happen this week. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe we’ll hit it off. This damnable plague can’t last forever and maybe I can actually have a real date some day. If not with him, some other likely candidate. That incorrigible part of me just won’t give up. More power to her I say!

Posted in Covid-19, dating, emotions, health, human interest, humor, psychology, relationships, religion, romance, senior citizens, spirituality, summer, weather, women | Leave a comment

Back in the Swim of Things

It’s good to be back. At the community pool. I had a couple ailments that derailed me even before Covid, so it’s been close to six months of hibernation for me.  That is a l00000ng time to be sequestered. Almost half a year of my life!

At first I was crawling the walls, but eventually I settled down to some puzzles and household projects, and got half-way used to the new normal. Waiting for it to feel safe enough out there to live my old life again. Or at least add a few things back in…

A few weeks ago my community pool re-opened. Hallelujah!  I couldn’t wait to hit the water again. Then, as soon as Florida started reopening, it became a Covid hot spot. Really hot. So, no pool.

But after a couple weeks, I re-assessed the pros and cons of the pool and decided that with each swimmer having his or her own lane, it was a fairly low-risk situation. And the benefit to my mental health tipped the scales in favor. You have to understand that my pool is not just about swimming. It’s my happy place! There’s a boom box that plays cool tunes and I can dance along to them in the shallow end; let my joie de vivre out a little.  Water disco!

And there’s my favorite lifeguard, Kareem, a laugh-out-loud character who really cares about us regulars and notices when we’re not there.

Then there’s Alfredo, the big Puerto Rican dude who’s always there. If the pool’s not closed for bad weather, he’s there, doing his slow, steady backstroke across his lane. I practice my Spanish on him. He calls me “señora.”

And the two little pre-teen girls getting swimming lessons, jumping off the diving board and doing splits in mid-air. Talk about joie de vivre!

Yeah, it’s good to be back.

Posted in children, Covid-19, dance, emotions, fitness, fun, health, human interest, humor, music, psychology, relaxation, senior citizens, spirituality, summer | 1 Comment

After the Rain

Took my cabin fever
for a walk
after the two-day deluge.
Swampy puddles everywhere,
every size.
One house sported
a driveway completely
underwater.
The nameplate on the mailbox
by the driveway read,
“The Wades.”

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My Covid Project

Just as I was starting to run out of Covid projects, I thought of my father’s Air Force papers. Reams of them. They’d been sitting in a file box in my den since my mom passed away ten years ago.  Just waiting. Waiting until I had time to deal with them. Waiting until the moment was right. Covid has provided that moment. A lot of moments.

I finally pulled out all the yellowing, brittle, musty-smelling papers my father had stashed from the time he was a young Lieutenant in 1943 during World War 2 until he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1970. I didn’t really have a burning desire to look through a bunch of military papers. Papers filled with abbreviations and acronyms and regulations.  Hardly scintillating reading.

I was wrong. It’s turned out to be the unraveling of a mystery. The mystery of my father’s career. Oh, I was there for most of it. But I never really knew anything about what he did. Only that he was a navigator and had to be gone a lot. Once, when I was babysitting my little brothers, I had to carry one of them to the base hospital for a nasty cut on his head. They asked me for my father’s phone number; his squadron? I had no idea. He was just dad. All I could give them was his name and rank.

I’m creating a time line of all his assignments. I had no idea! Well yeah, I knew the ones that I was at, but he was all over the place while I was playing with my dolls! Temporary tours of duty in Morocco, The UK,  training gigs out west.  A stint in Korea.

Once I’ve finished the twenty-seven year timeline I’ll make copies of the molding papers, at least the most pertinent ones. The history of my father’s career. From 2nd Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel.

I’ll try to figure out what he never talked about, as best I can, but I’m filled with regret and frustration that I never asked him about it when he was alive. What was it like, Dad? Did you enjoy it? Were you happy? There must’ve been a lot of stress. All those regulations. You seemed happy; in charge. Ruler of our universe. I wish I could turn back time, just for a little while; I have so many questions. Your papers will have to provide the answers.

Posted in adventure, children, Covid-19, death, emotions, family, father, human interest, love, nostalgia, psychology, relationships, sadness, senior citizens, spirituality, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Puzzling

My new puzzle just arrived!  It’s my latest attempt to curtail ennui while self-quarantined. A colorful little scene portraying a kitty cat market vendor dishing out his wares to a couple of cute kitten customers. There’s stuff hanging from every conceivable hanging place, a big crock pot on the counter, pizza slices, hot dogs, pickled eggs, cold drinks. A happy place!

But Puzzle Central has formerly been on my screened-in back porch, and the sweltering summertime Florida temps we’re having are not conducive. Not to mention the humidity, which tends to wilt cardboard puzzle pieces, as well as the person putting them together.

I was going to give it a shot anyway until my daughter suggested getting a special puzzle table and doing it indoors.  Well, it so happens I had a perfectly good table in my closet that might do the job. The trick was to figure out where to put it. My house is maxed out. But where there’s a will there’s a way. I did some creative furniture juggling and it’s now sitting in front of a big window in my living room. Perfect! Good lighting and a beautiful view.

The only problem is…that beautiful view. I spend more time watching the birds and the squirrels in the big tree outside the window and at my feeder than working the puzzle. I saw a darling little Carolina wren in a shrub just outside the window this morning while assembling my edges. I got a great look, eye stripe and all.

So the puzzling will probably go slowly. That’s the price you pay for having critters all over the place. And I’m more than willing to pay it. I should be done by Christmas. 🙂 Hopefully, my incarceration will be a distant memory by then.

 

Posted in animals, beauty, birds, Covid-19, emotions, fun, health, human interest, humor, nature, pets, psychology, relaxation, senior citizens, spirituality, summer | Leave a comment

Going the Distance

I wonder if you can die of fun deprivation. In less than a week it’ll be five months of self-quarantine for me, and my daily routine, which has held me together, no longer does. I need a jail break!

A friend of mine said he was afraid “morbid fear and depression” would claim as many victims as Covid.  He took a road trip to combat the possibility!  Road trips aren’t my thing. I think maybe I’m ready to brave the community pool though. It seems like a reasonable risk with it’s individual lanes for each swimmer.

And I have a new puzzle coming soon. And maybe I’ll rearrange the living room furniture.

How much longer can this nightmare of a plague continue?  Will life ever return to normal? Will I ever shop at the mall again with impunity, go on Audubon walks, take in-person classes, grocery shop without a mask?

This has become a marathon of perseverance and patience, neither of which I’ve ever been blessed with. The self-help gurus would say, “Perfect opportunity for growth.” Growth schmowth. I’m done with growing.

But then I think of those who have been hospitalized, or died from Covid, or Anne Frank or people in prison, real prison, and I feel a little ashamed. I’m alive, well and have a decent home to be holed up in.  Maybe a little fun deprivation isn’t such a high price to pay after all. Five months, or even a whole year,  isn’t a life sentence.

But I think this week I’ll screw up my courage and take a little plunge into the community pool, and hopefully come out refreshed and restored. At least for awhile.

Posted in Covid-19, depression, emotions, fear, health, human interest, illness, mental illness, psychology, senior citizens, spirituality, trauma, worry | Leave a comment

My Sanity Walks

I’ve been holed up more than four months now.  A whole third of my year!  Just when it looked like there was a little light at the end of the tunnel, my Florida county decided to become a Covid hotspot, and since I’m one of the more vulnerable, thanks to my age and my asthma, my freedom will have to wait a little longer.

It’s not like I sit around twiddling my thumbs. There’s plenty of housework, yardwork, reading and Netflix to go around, and it passes the time, but goes only so far. So one of the ways I deal with the tedium and lack of social contact is to kick off my day with a walk. I try to get out there before the summer sun is too high, when the birds are out and about, just to see what I can see. Continue reading

Posted in adventure, animals, birds, cars, Covid-19, depression, emotions, environment, family, fish, friendship, fun, human interest, humor, mental illness, nature, psychology, relationships, senior citizens, spirituality, summer, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Little Clock that Played Moulin Rouge

I’m working on my memoirs. It’s 1957 again, I’m ten years old and my handsome young Air Force daddy just returned to our home in south Florida from a tour of duty to Europe and North Africa. He always returned from these trips with gifts for my mother, my sister and me.

This time it was a beautiful set of porcelain dishes for my mom in wispy springtime colors, a round brass tray a full three feet across to be used as a coffee-table top, an exotic leather camel saddle from Morocco, fragile Hummel figurines from Germany.

For my little sister and me he had bought exquisite little musical clocks from France, about 6″ tall, painted in shiny enamel and overlaid with hand-painted pink rosebuds. I chose the black one  that played the theme from Moulin Rouge when you wound it up. My sister’s was identical, but white, and played Clair de Lune.

These lovely little clocks sat at either end of the dresser between our beds for years and I played mine often at first. The melody was enchanting, romantic, haunting. But before long the newness wore off and my childhood adventures beckoned, while the little clock sat by my bed.

The Air Force moved us around a lot. We left Florida when I was thirteen and moved to upper Michigan, and then Puerto Rico two years later. I never saw the little clock after we left Florida, probably never even thought about it. It got lost in the shuffle.

So, now, at the age of 72, as I’m writing my memoirs I’m thinking of the little clock, and of my father, who died at about the same age I am now. How he grew up poor, how he had a paper route that earned him a nickel a week during the Great Depression, how he hoarded those nickels until he could afford a used, beat-up old bike to deliver the papers so he wouldn’t have to walk.

How he decided to become an Air Force officer and carve a life for himself that would provide well for those he loved, so we wouldn’t have to scrabble as hard as he did. He must’ve loved the luxury of being able to give us beautiful gifts.

I’d give anything to have that little clock again. Thank you, Dad.

Posted in adolescence, adventure, beauty, children, emotions, family, father, human interest, love, nostalgia, poetry, psychology, relationships, romance, sadness, senior citizens, spirituality, Uncategorized | Leave a comment