Puttering Away

I love to putter. Very relaxing. I don’t know what Google says, but my definition of puttering is “catching up on chores at a leisurely pace while singing along to music, sometimes including a little happy-dance.” And if the weather is nice and the windows wide open, so much the better.  Throw a nap and a Klondyke Bar somewhere in the mix and you’ve got a perfect putter-day.

For 23 years, I was chained to a desk five days a week and couldn’t putter unless I took vacation time to do it. My work week-ends were crammed with a million things not conducive to puttering. Puttering has to be done without rushing. That’s why it’s called puttering.

Now that I’m retired I can putter all I want. But a day or two a week is enough. And it’s not like I’m in love with housework. As a matter of fact, when I was a stay-at-home mom with a husband and four kids I don’t remember digging housework all that much. Cleaning house when a husband and four kids live in it is like pissing in the wind.

But now I just clean up after myself and there’s plenty of other neat stuff going on in my life.  So puttering is just one slice of a big ole delicious pie called retirement.

Gotta go. Time to mop the kitchen floor.  And there’s a Klondyke Bar in the freezer with my name on it.


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My Spanish Class

I’m learning Spanish late in life. Let me re-phrase that. I’m re-learning Spanish late in life. My immigrant grandparents spoke only Spanish, so I have a little early childhood experience of the language. And I can still roll my R’s well enough to impress my classmates. But I haven’t spoken Spanish since I was five so I’m verrrrrry rusty.

I signed up for Spanish because my future daughter-in-law and her family are from South of the Border and I thought it’d be enlightening to know what they’re saying about me when I meet them.  Just kidding. I just want to impress them. And, also, I’d like to visit Spain, the land of my maternal ancestors, before I croak. I figure knowing the language will be a plus in a strange land. My helpful boyfriend insists all I have to be able to say is, “Donde está el baño?” Why bother with all the rest? Nice.

There are about 15 of us in this class, all at least 60 years old. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, that’s not entirely true, but it sure takes a lot longer! Much has been made of keeping the brain juicy in your golden years by learning a new skill. And we’re trying, God help us. We’re trying. But it’s more like trying to bring an old dog back to life.

I mean, we have enough trouble trying to remember our native tongue. When I talk to someone these days, a particular word I’m after often circles endlessly, just out of reach, before it decides to land. But, still my classmates and I give it our best shot.

Our colorful instructor is a jolly, pot-bellied, florid-faced fellow fluent in Spanish and French. He favors plaid shirts and is half blind, sticking his nose right into the textbook, speaks in a booming voice, and loves to tell stories–his favorites being a little R-rated.  And if you ask a question, don’t expect a short answer!

It’s a hoot and a half. I don’t know how we ended up with so many comedians in the class, but we can’t go more than ten minutes without cracking up. There must be something in the air ducts. Or maybe we just need some comic relief to keep our overheated brains from seizing up!

Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to be fluent in the language or impress my daughter-in-law and her family, but I sure am having a helluva a good time trying!senorita-w-hat

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Growing a Backbone

I don’t like making waves. It’s just how I am. I like for people to like me and I try to make it easy for them. I hate conflict. Hate disapproval. I like to make nice. Just the opposite of my ballsy boyfriend, whose driving principal is that people will walk all over you if you’re too nice. He has his reasons for feeling that way, and I admire his feistiness, but it’s not my way.

But the price I pay for being compliant and likeable is giving up some authenticity.  I’ve been this way a long time and change doesn’t come easy when you’re pushing 70. But it can. And it did. Last night.

I dared to stand up for a political opinion of mine on Facebook. I could’ve kept my mouth shut. Kept the peace. But I drew a big breath and spoke my truth, swathed in diplomacy, then braced myself for the reaction. Would this person, a high school friend who I’d probably see at our next reunion, shoot me down? She did not. She just said, “True.”   Whew.

It was a baby step but it was a step. And I could feel my spine hardening up ever so slightly. Better late than never.


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He came into the warm kitchen from the chilly night air. I was drying dishes and he took my hand and led me outside, saying, “I  want to show you something.”

Then he pointed to the moon, full and bright and round, surrounded by a dark sky full of long, rippling clouds, some tinged with gold nearest the moon.

He stood behind me in the cold, his arms wrapped around me, and I leaned into him, breathing the beauty in for a minute or two.  Then we went back inside.

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Let’s Hear it for HSPs

Just back from a workshop for Highly Sensitive People, or HSP’s as we’re commonly called these days.  I learned I’m an off-the-chart HSP. I checked off every “symptom” on the list, including tender feelings. I’m like a Stradivarius. I can make beautiful music but I need lots of tuning!

Not all HSPs are created equal, but we’re often introverts and make up only 20% of the population, so it’s easy for us to feel undervalued. Even useless. Practicality isn’t our strong suit– introspection, caring and creativity are, to mention just a few. We’re easily overstimulated, given to anxiety and strong emotions.

But, with a little help, the facilitator promised us, we can stake our claim to happiness and success just like the more robust types.  We’re the writers, artists, dancers, philosophers, mystics, healers and poets. Softies. Dreamers. Deep thinkers.

It’s pretty easy to understand why these types might be considered expendable by the mainstream. What do they have to do with putting food in your belly? Running a corporation? Creating jobs? I’m not going to badmouth the more robust types. God knows we need them to do what we’re not cut out for. But our soft touch is very much needed to do what they can’t.

Winnie the Pooh Author, A.A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh Author,
A.A. Milne

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Coming to Terms with the Tragic

I was watching a documentary about the 1993 Branch Davidian tragedy in Waco, TX last night. I watched as a moth drawn to a flame, knowing this probably wasn’t a good choice right before bedtime. But I had a need to know.

When the actual event took place I was a frazzled, overworked single mom of four trying to hang onto my sanity. I didn’t watch the news back then. I’d heard about Branch Davidian, but didn’t need or want the details. It was just BAD. And I had enough BAD in my life already.

But now I’m retired and my life is pretty nice. The kids are grown up and doing okay for the most part. So I feel the need to know what happened when I was tuned out, and I watch the news and Frontline and PBS documentaries and am getting caught up on what I missed.

I have to take breaks now and then though, because it can be overwhelming. So much of history is tragic. So much of what’s happening right now is tragic. And it affects me. How can it not? The bloodshed, the insanity, the tyranny, the outright barbarity and destructiveness. We humans can be very ignorant, deluded and downright inhuman.

So, how to come to terms with this I ask myself? How do I avoid sticking my head in the sand so as not to become thoroughly discouraged?

This is what I came up with. I’m an idealist. My glossy expectations trip me up. I think things should be the way I think they should be. But they’re not. Maybe man is evolving. Maybe. But humans are very imperfect, and in varying stages of maturity.  To quote Florence Snyder, a Tallahassee lawyer, in an article from Politics Florida, “You can’t take human nature out of human nature.”

That’s just how it is. I can do some things to make a difference, I can pay attention to the beauty when it shows itself, I can distract myself from the ugliness, I can rant, I can try to love, love, love instead of hate, hate, hate. But what I cannot do is eradicate the tragic.

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Sleepless Night

In the wee hours of the night I sometimes get stuck in my head. Spinning in loops of everything and nothing. Where’s the off switch?

It’s then that I notice I’m hungry and, yeah, a little lonely. So I go to the kitchen and stare in the fridge, check out Facebook, listen to the silent walls awhile, then climb back in my empty bed.

Maybe sleep will finally come, and drive away the absence.

Posted in emotions, human interest, poetry, relationships, spirituality | 5 Comments