Ripples

Already my new gardener (aka My Dearly Beloved)  has the lawn looking lush and lovely, even though he only began his job a couple of months ago.  Every day he is out here, looking for a reason to crank up one of his new power tools.

Our neighbors are placing bets as to what he’ll find to cut down next.  Here’s what came down last week:

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That was a holly tree, cut down with my blessings.  The power company butchered it at 3 AM one winter morning after a windstorm blew knocked out power here.

He mimics me in exaggerated gestures for the neighbors: left hand on hip, right arm raised and index finger firing around the yard with laser-like precision (think NCIS opening scene) to show how I’m always pointing out things that need to be done.  As there is some truth to his routine, I’d even considered leaving DB and his chain saw unsupervised–until he removed enough of the softly drooping branches of our specimen Japanese Maple to change it into a palm tree.

Except for that mishap, he has every right to be proud of his efforts.

When DB answered the doorbell one early evening recently, the stranger standing there identified himself as the builder of the condo project on the other side of the block.  In front of our house, an anxious looking man in a bright green shirt waited anxiously by a huge truck which was almost as long as our lot is wide.  The truck held a supply of building materials and would require backing into the small residential driveway of the property for delivery.   The driver was afraid there might be some damage to our yard in making that sharp turn and the builder wanted to assure us that he had his landscaper on call to come and repair it.

Our street is narrow and definitely not suited for commercial traffic, specially not anything this large.  See the driveway between the two end flags?  That’s where the truck is heading.

Pardon the glare--I took it from inside the house.

Pardon the glare–I took it from inside the house.

DB went outside and introduced himself to the driver, who shook his hand and said he was Jurr.

“What?”  DB asked. The guy repeated it several times.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jurr.

Finally DB got it.  “Oh. . . JERRY!”  

They had a good laugh and chatted awhile.  DB said, “The lawn can be repaired.  Just  curve w-a-y into the yard so you won’t hit my stone wall.”  

He pointed out the sprinkler heads, then stood and watched as Jerry backed the huge trailer into the small space.  The truck did indeed jump the curb onto our lawn, but Jurr was able to miss the stone wall by a foot or two.  DB came into the house to tell me, “That guy is a heck of a driver.  That was the best maneuvering I’ve ever seen.”  

The lawn did have some deep trenches, but nothing that couldn’t be repaired.    DB said he’d fix the damage himself.

He was surprised when the phone rang early the next morning and the caller said he was the manager of the trucking company which had delivered the building materials the evening before.  DB quickly jumped in, saying, “I’m so glad you called because I want to tell you that Jurr is the best driver I’ve ever seen.  You’re lucky to have him.”

The man agreed, adding that Jerry indeed was their best driver and he got the toughest assignments, so consequently he got the most abuse.  A couple of days before he had knocked down two fence posts on someone’s property on one of those turns.  Even though they put them back up immediately,  the owner berated Jerry at length, then called the company to rage at several of the staff there.

The man continued, “When Jerry came in this morning, he was beaming.  He told me, I ran into the nicest guy in the world yesterday.  You’ve got to call and thank him.  He made my day.’

“That’s why I’m calling, Mr. Lee.  To thank you and to let you know that you not only made Jerry’s day, you’ve now made my day, too.”

The funny thing is, that call made Dearly Beloved’s day and since I was hearing the conversation, it made my day, too.

Later, the builder came over to give DB a gift card to Home Depot.

I’ve thought about that incident often.  DB didn’t invite the guy in for supper or rush out with cookies.  He simply allowed the man to do the job he had to do without giving him grief about it.   I’m glad I witnessed the event.

The fence post owner may have gotten some satisfaction in throwing a tirade, but I’ll take my husband’s handling of the situation any day.  His behavior subsequently caused ripples of kindness.  One day our grandsons may read this to learn how their granddad behaved.

I don’t think they’ll be surprised.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns.  ~Author Unknown

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.
- Scott Adams

PS.  The gift certificate was nice, but I don’t think it’s ample enough to buy the next piece of power equipment DB is going to need.  Just how much IS a stump grinder?

Calendar Girl

Occasionally, someone will ask if my Dearly Beloved minds that I write about his… um…. missteps.  HAH!

Believe me, his ego remains unaffected.  In fact, he feels that he’s given me plenty of material for additional gems I’ve never written–a mistake on my part, since he considers the ones about him to be my best.   Without him, it’s all squirrels.

My ego not being as intact as his, I’d have to leave the country if he took up blogging.  He’d have to learn to type faster.   For the past week or so, I may have blown any previous record for screw-ups.

I baked cookies and cut up fruit last week when it was my turn to provide refreshments for our library Book Club Meeting.  Since I reside in the State of Panic, I was running late, so DB helped me load the car.

He helped me unload it when I came home 20 minutes later.  I’d been a week early. The meeting wasn’t until this week.

When I brought in our Sunday paper and discovered it didn’t have the comics, Parade, or ads in it, I called the Circulation Department to request a complete paper.  The automated voice informed me, “Today is Saturday, April 13.”   Oh.

On the day of my doctor’s appointment, having not received their usual confirmation call, I phoned them.  Even though I had the appointment slip in hand, I was convinced I’d done something wrong when they said they had no record of an appointment and put me on hold.  I  had plenty of time for mental self-flagellation while I waited.   Was it only my appointment that was missing or was I a goner, too?

Eventually, someone picked up to inform me that their new computer system had lost practically everyone’s appointment and it was a madhouse there.  Could I come next month?

Sure.  Just remind me.

My friend Martha and I had planned for a month to attend a gardening seminar to hear a speaker we both enjoy.  We had spoken and e-mailed about how much we were looking forward to it.  I had my computer calendar send me two reminders.  Nevertheless, Monday night I received an e-mail from Martha asking, “Are you okay?  Where were you?  The program was delightful.”

I shrieked.  I thought the program was Tuesday.

Martha reminded me that had DB and I bought the house next door to them (for sale when we moved back to Charlotte) this wouldn’t have happened.  “We could take care of each other,”  she told me.

We made a date for lunch the next day–so I wouldn’t have time to forget.  When DB asked what time I was meeting Martha, I couldn’t remember if we’d set a time. I  said I’d call her, but I checked my e-mails first, in case she’d written.  She had; she was canceling lunch.

She’d forgotten that one of the suburban herb guilds was coming to tour her garden at 10AM.

Yep, we should have bought that house.

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“All the girls feared their Father less than they did their Mother, because she sometimes remembered things and he did not. Lord Brightlingsea was swept through life on a steady amnesiac flow.” 
― Edith WhartonThe Buccaneers

“Why can we remember the tiniest detail that has happened to us, and not remember how many times we have told it to the same person.” -François de la Rochefoucauld

The Life of “I”

Dearly Beloved and I didn’t go to many movies last year.  We’ve seen too many that were  too loud, too soft, too long, too violent, too foul-mouthed, too stupid, not to mention too expensive.  Or maybe it was that we were too lazy.  Our interest began to wane shortly after we swore off movie popcorn because it was so bad for us.

We haven’t jumped on the Red Box bandwagon either.  It’s fine if you know what you want, but it’s not a way to browse, is there?  I can’t even buy a can of tomatoes without reading the cans, so I can’t choose a movie based on the title alone.

Tuesday, I rented Flight and Skyfall from our library and congratulated myself on getting two movies we wanted to see for less than the price of a movie ticket.  While I was out, I ran by the plant nursery and selected a flat of snapdragons and several spring and summer perennials.

Had DB not been interested in seeing them, too, I’d have simply watched them on my laptop, but he wanted to see them on his fancy HD+ TV, so he brought our old DVD player in from the bedroom and hooked it up in the den.

About 15 minutes into the first one, the screen suddenly went blank.  No sound, no picture… just grey screen.  We put in the second movie.  Nothing.

I think,” DB informed me as he fiddled with a fistful of remote controls, “that it is probably the player. It has died of old age.”

I assumed that we’d watch them on the laptop at that point, but DB had a different solution:  “We need  a new DVD player.”

At this point, I should probably mention that the man has been sick with a stomach flu–again– for almost a week now.  He has really felt rotten.  That made me the designated shopper.

I headed over to Best Buy, which is in one of those parking garage kind of malls with a Best Buy and Trader Joe’s on the same parking level.  At any given time, there are so many cars trolling for a parking space that there is no such thing as an empty spot.  One waits until she spots a shopper leaving the store and tries to be in the right place at the right time to snag the shopper’s parking space.  When the thin mom with the pony tail, a baby in a car seat, and a cart full of environmentally correct bags headed toward the aisle I was on, I guessed “black SUV” and stopped just short of it, flipping on my turn signal so that the trollers behind me would go around.   I’d guessed right.  I listened to my book on CD while she loaded her baby and her groceries into the SUV, pushed her cart to the side, got behind the wheel and maneuvered her vehicle out of the tight,  perpendicular parking place amid all the circling vulture cars.

DB had suggested Best Buy because they were apt to have knowledgeable sales persons  to assist me.  I think they were at lunch.  The very nice young man who assisted me said that he knew nothing about them.  I selected one that was the same brand as our TV.

Much to the disappointment of the drivers lusting for my space, I put the DVD player box into the car and walked up to Trader Joe’s at the other end of the parking level, figuring that I might as well take full advantage of my parking space.  I returned home with three bags of groceries and a DVD player.

DB opened the box and assembled his toys, only to find that the required HDM1 connector was not included and had to be purchased separately.  This time I headed to Target, which is across the street from the Trader Joe/Best Buy mall.

Since I don’t go to Target very often, I might as well stock up on some pharmacy and laundry items while I was there, I figured.  I left with the connector cord and two bags of purchases.

When I returned the movies to the library so that I wouldn’t have overdue fines,  I ran by Walgreen’s to drop off a couple of prescription renewals, then ran into EarthFare because it was giving away free Irish Vintage Cheddar with a small purchase.  What the heck, since I was already in the neighborhood?!  While there,  I bought an corned beef brisket, a couple of crab cakes, and three bags of groceries.

I saw on Wowbrary that my library has ordered Life of Pi, another movie we want to see.  I put it on hold.  Why not?  We have a giant box of Boy Scout popcorn we need to eat.

Look at how much we’re saving!

Scouting Around

Our newspaper runs weekly photos of available dogs and cats to promote adoption of homeless animals.  Dearly Beloved and I had discussed the possibility, but felt that Miss Piggy might not approve.  After she went temporarily blind from her corneal ulcers though, Bonnie seemed so lost that we thought another dog might help her mobility.  Also, DB wanted a walking buddy for those 3+ mile walks he takes every day.

Two weeks ago, a photo of a beagle mix named Wilbur caught DB’s eye, so we went to the Humane Society to see about him.  Unfortunately, he was easy to locate, as Wilbur’s barking and baying were constant the entire time we were there.  

“Yeah,” one of the volunteers offered, “Wilbur’s got a big mouth.”  

DB decided that Wilbur wouldn’t do, so he walked around, looking at all the other dogs.   There were some adorable puppies, which we knew would be quickly taken, so we passed on those.   DB chose a dog of about 70 pounds and the attendants brought her out for him to meet.  She seemed like a nice dog.

I asked that one other dog be brought out.  When I’d walked past her run, she’d come up to the fence, wagging her tail and looking directly at me without being distracted by the other dogs or people walking around.   She checked out my eyeliner.  I noticed hers.

“I choose YOU,” those eyes said.

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When she was brought into the enclosure to meet us, she didn’t simply wag her tail, she wagged everything south of her rib cage.   She piddled a little with excitement when DB approached her… and then she set about charming him with her exuberant yet gentle,  mannerly ways, as he walked her around the property.

That is how Scout, a two-year-old skinny boxer, retriever, shepherd mix came to be ours.

Scout was polite and deferential to Bonnie, whose only orders to the new girl were to leave her chew bones alone.  Scout was on medication for an upper respiratory infection, but refused Pill Pockets, which were Bonnie’s favorite treat.  Yikes!  I am not dexterous when it comes to stuffing pills down an animal’s throat.  For the first 36 hours, Scout would not touch her food.   We had one dog that ate everything, another that ate nothing.

At night she sleeps in the crate we bought for her.  She likes it.

The night Bonnie had her stroke, after she had entered the state where she seemed to be unaware of anything around her, I was sitting on the hall floor with her.  I’d tried to lift her onto her bed, but she’d wiggled off so that only her head was pillowed.  Suddenly, for no reason I could discern, Bonnie screamed… an anguished, primal scream like nothing I’d ever heard.

Immediately, I heard Scout scrambling in her crate, trying to get out.  Dearly Beloved thought she wanted to go outside, so opened the kennel for her and walked down the hall, calling her to follow.  But Scout went a short distance down the hall, then turned back and came to the place where Bonnie lay.  She sniffed her briefly and then did the strangest thing.  She lay down in an exact mirror image of Bonnie’s position, her head on the pillow, too, her nose just barely touching Bonnie’s.

It lasted only a few seconds, then she scrambled off the pillow and followed DB down the hall.

I don’t know the mysteries of the dog world, so I have no speculation about what passed between them in that instant.  Bonnie lay quietly and screamed no more that night.

More than one person has offered that perhaps Bonnie, with her failing organs, had been waiting until she felt it was okay to leave us and that Scout’s arrival allowed that.  I don’t know.  Yes, I’m aware that dog is god spelled backwards.

Scout was rescued by the Humane Society from a kill shelter in another county the day before the barking Wilbur’s photo appeared in the newspaper.  She was examined, spayed, and de-wormed her first day at the Humane Society.  We adopted her the day after that.  She was rescued twice in less than a week.  Or perhaps it was one rescue for her, one for us.

It’s going to be interesting.  For one thing, we’ve discovered that she can jump the backyard fence from a standstill.  She doesn’t run away–she simply jumps back over.  She has gone from being a non-eater to inhaling her food as soon as it reaches her bowl.  I now medicate her with a syringe pill shooter.   She wags her backside enthusiastically as I shoot her a pill into the back of her throat.  Go figure.

And get this…  Scout is a SQUIRREL CHASER!

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We chose her name from To Kill A Mockingbird.  I find myself telling folks she’s a GIRL Scout when they ask.  To describe her to the grandsons, I explained that she was a BROWN(IE) Scout.   And yes, her coloring– brown with white chest and feet–is like Tonto’s paint horse, Scout.

But those eyes are pure Angelina Jolie.

(PS.  I have posted so many photos of a sleeping Miss Piggy in the past, I’ve added a photo of her from last summer to yesterday’s post.  She always reminded me of a teddy bear when she held her tongue like that.  It was one of my favorite expressions.) 

Bonnie

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Her real name was Bonnie.  We called her Miss Piggy for the little snorting sounds she made when she trolled the floors for crumbs.

She came to us, underweight and neurotic,  when she was nearly eight, after my favorite uncle died, and having been rescued as the breeding dog at a puppy mill only a few months before.  She’d clearly had a traumatic background.  So afraid, for instance, that a door was going to slam on her, we had to prop it open and walk away before she would venture through.  Her terrors were so obvious that the vet prescribed Xanax on her first visit.

She spent her first weeks under our bed, refusing to be coaxed out.  Oddly, she’d take a sock under with her.  Bonnie would sneak out to eat and relieve herself only when no one was around.

Thus began the demise of our living room carpet.

Gradually, she came out of hiding to discover that people could be kind, that feedings would be regular, and that treats were divine.   She emerged into her new surroundings with a gentleness that was touching.  She was loved and petted endlessly by our five grandsons and she loved them, crumb-magnets as they were.   She went from running from the sound of the doorbell to greeting visitors, angling for back scratches and belly rubs.

Miss Piggy was not much of an exerciser.  She walked for business rather than pleasure and would do a U-turn upon completion.  She wagged her tail at squirrels and cats.  The very thought that she might indulge in something like a game of fetch was so ridiculous that we never even tried.  Sometimes she’d follow Dearly Beloved around as he worked outside, or she’d lie in the sunshine while I gardened, but eventually, she’d dig out a little nest for herself under the deck or station herself beside the back door, awaiting reentry at the first opportunity.  She was a fireside dog.

She had a presence about her.  She was usually “Miss Bonnie” to those in the vet office.  Bonnie loved car rides.  If we went someplace without her, she’d wait by the door until we returned.  She knew exactly what a doggy bag was.

Since she always wanted to be close to us, she was only a few feet away when she fell late Thursday night.  Her legs splayed like those of a newborn foal whenever she tried to stand again.  Her eyes were open, but unseeing.  Her breathing was labored, her heart, racing.

We stayed with her through the night and took her to the vet at daybreak.   She rested her head on my shoulder like an infant as I held her in my arms.

With dogs, the worst part of a stroke is at the moment it happens.  It doesn’t affect their brains as it does humans, so recovery can occur if they can regain their ability to stand and if there are not other complications.

By chance, there was a veterinary neurologist in the veterinary office that day.  He and our favorite vet examined Miss Piggy to determine her for any chance of surviving and regaining a good life.  The tests revealed that her liver, kidneys, and heart were failing.

We stood on either side of her, rubbing her and whispering into her deaf ears, as she went to sleep one last time.  She looked peaceful, which helped us a little.  So did a sympathy note from the vet, reassuring us that we did the right thing at the right time.

Still, it’s been tougher than we would have imagined.  The funny little dog who dug holes in the back yard had managed to dig a couple of big ones in our hearts.

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Getting a Move On

Not since I drank three cups of an herbal tea called Smooth Moves, having misread it as Smooth Moods, have I had so much moving activity going on.  I’d be gulping Smooth Moves right now if it would aid with our move today, but I know better.  That day, I found out the hard way that the moves in question centered around the bathroom.

It’s Moving Week at the Beach-House-Not-On-The Beach.  I packed everything myself this time.  The plan was to be merciless in getting rid of the games, books, and toys, the aunt’s china, our daughters’ little dresses, Good Egg Son’s school art projects….

Easier said than done.

In between packing, we thought we’d take advantage of our last week here by going to some of our favorite restaurants.  It was also a necessity, since the first thing I did was to pack everything that involved cooking or eating at home.  It’s off-season, so traffic is light now and there’s no waiting for a table.  Nevertheless, even our eating-out plans ran afoul.

In a beach town, all the renovations and repairs are done during the “off” season.  Believe it, honey.  Things were definitely “off” this week.

The first day, we went to Dockside, a favorite restaurant on the Intracoastal Waterway.  It was warm enough to sit outside on the deck.  We could have, I suppose, but not if we wanted food.  They were closed for remodeling.  The owner lamented his timing;  he’d chosen a week that the temperatures rose into the 70′s.

On the day we drove downtown to eat at one of the River Walk restaurants and watch the sun set over the Cape Fear River one more time, we discovered that the city had closed the street and were digging up the cobblestones to work on the pipes underneath.  Everything was closed.

We ran errands one afternoon, skipping lunch, and stopped at a restaurant we’ve always enjoyed in the Historic District.  They turned us away;  we were too late for lunch, too early for dinner.  Humiliating, indeed, to be earlier than the Early Birds.

We saw on the local news that they are filming Revolution in the downtown area and  some additional streets were closed for that.   The city is so accommodating that it turns off the streetlights for the production when necessary.  Eating downtown sounded very complicated.  We scratched that off our list.

Yesterday, the day that the Salvation Army was coming to pick up our offerings, the day dawned bright and warm.   Perfect!  Until, that is, we walked out to our driveway and saw this:

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And this:

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To say that the Homeowners Association is working on the ponds is an understatement.  They are dredging the pond behind our neighbor’s house to the left of us and have a second crew draining and filling in the pond behind the houses to the right of us.  That stinky pond water they’re draining is running downhill to the storm sewer.   We, of course, are downhill, so there is a scummy lake in front of our house.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo add extra confusion, the landscape trucks lined the subdivision street at our corner, delivering bundles of pine straw to be spread around in all the yards.  On our moving day.

With the temperatures in the 70′s, we decided to eat our final meal out here on the pier at Oceanic, a beachfront restaurant known for its food and its views.

The trip over the bridge took some time.  It seems they’re working on the drawbridge, which necessitated closing a lane or two.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADearly Beloved started laughing as soon as we drove into the restaurant parking lot.  This was the scene:

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They were open, but eating on the pier was definitely out of the question.  The large crane and all the equipment was part of a project to expand the pier six feet on either side.

We sat in the bar area which overlooked the pier.  On the beach, the parasailors and surfers were out in full force and women dared to drag out bikinis to jump-start their tans.

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This was the view from our table:

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It cracked me up to see that giant crane and heavy equipment working atop the pier, while underneath the pier, men on wooden ladders banged away with hammers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen the weather drops 25 degrees or so down to normal temperatures for January and the sand and wind swirl through?  Yikes!

We returned home to finish our packing, weaving through the maze of trucks, rocks, and icky water.  We turned on the TV weather. We were hoping for more warm temperatures.   Nope.  Chilly temperatures and rain in the late afternoon-a 90% chance.

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Today is the big day.  We have the contractor here doing touch-up work involving power tools… the bulldozers across the street, hauling pond dirt…  water swirling down the street… landscape crews spreading pine needles.. and the movers loading the truck.  Oh yes, I should mention that it’s garbage pickup day.

The guys will load the truck in Wilmington and unload it in Charlotte on the same day.  It’s sunny here right now, but DB checked the prediction for Charlotte’s weather:  two inches or so of snow or frozen precipitation is expected later today.

(sigh)

Has anyone read the Swarming Locust report?

iPhone? Not Yet, But I Try.

So I am sitting in a Panera’s in Wilmington, NC, wondering where the heck I’ve left my iPhone. . . .

That sucker was supposed to organize my life and glide me into the 21st century.  So far, my relationship with it has been a cartoon, starting with the day we bought it.  We’d been going by the Apple store for weeks, but found it so crowded that we didn’t wait around.  My Dearly Beloved has a thing about being in a space with too many armpits.   Christmas Eve we walked by to check the mayhem and in a high-tech Christmas miracle, someone stepped forward to help us.

The idea was that both of us would get on the same phone plan.  DB has been insisting that he didn’t need a new phone, but the Apple guy told him that his phone was so old that it couldn’t be switched to my plan, BUT a new iPhone 4 was free.   DB was speechless.   He got right up in the guy’s face and asked, “FREE?  As in NO money?”  

Yeah.  Free.

The iPhone that I wanted wasn’t free, so I paid for it so they could set it up for me in the store.  DB watched, amazed at how smoothly things were going.  That changed quickly, once I was asked to supply my Apple ID password.  The one I had in my head wasn’t the one in that great iCloud in the sky.  I tried again.  No dice.

I had two ways of retrieving it–I could either have it e-mailed to me–which couldn’t happen because I needed the freakin’ password to get into my e-mail in the Apple store.  The second option was to answer security questions.  You’d think I could handle that, right?

Wrong.

The one that completely stymied me as “What was your favorite job?”  I haven’t had that many jobs, so I have no idea how I might have answered that.  It depended on my mood at the time, I guess.   With a grinning DB sitting beside me, sending photos of me in my predicament to the kids,  I was pretty sure I hadn’t answered “wife.”

I knew my first grade teacher’s name, but wasn’t sure how I spelled it.  Eventually I locked myself out.

I called Apple tech service, holding my finger in my other ear and screaming over the 100 other voices in the store to see if they could help.  Nope.  DB continued to snap photos.  Until the lockout ended, my fancy new iPhone was only a phone.  No internet, no games.

Christmas came, then the grandsons, so I didn’t get around to resetting the password until a couple of days before my birthday.  No calls.  No texts.  My kids called on the house phone and ask why I wasn’t answering my cell.  I figured I hadn’t heard it, but it was more than that.  DB took my phone over and fiddled with it for a couple of minutes.  Ten text messages shook off the dust and popped up for me, as well as a string of missed calls.  Sigh.

I haven’t figured out how to add my iPad games to the phone without having to pay for them a second time.  We’ve already had the cable connections removed from the beach-house-not-on-the-beach, so my game friends are twiddling their ever-so-agile thumbs, waiting for me to take my turns.   I thought I’d get it all figured out at Panera’s.  I brought my computer and my iPad along. . . but now I can’t find the darned iPhone.   DB called my number, in case it was in the dark recesses of my too-large handbag.  Nothing.

Of course not.  I remembered that I’d turned off the ringer.

Elvis Eve

The calendar may not show it, but today is Elvis Eve, since Elvis was born on January 8.  My birthday, however, is today.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the birthday greetings–cards, calls, Facebook messages, notes from family, friends, fellow bloggers.  Thank you, all!

This one is from my brother:

Happy Birthday, Sister... BroJoe

Happy Birthday, Sister… BroJoe

I photographed this one from our kindergarten grandson so that I could carry it around with me all the time.  They don’t get more special than this.

Front

Front

Inside message

Inside message

Happy Birthday, Senor Senior

Today is my Dearly Beloved’s birthday, so it is only fitting that it would be a national holiday.

This photo is so typical of the two of us because we usually find that it takes both our brains working together to get through the day.   We repeat ourselves to each other often.  Dementia checks, DB calls them… little tests to see if the other one remembers hearing it before.

His eyeglasses and my watch have become so clever at hiding that it takes a search party of two to find them.   We know each other as well… perhaps better… than we know ourselves.

The grandsons usually come up with some most creative birthday greetings to mark this momentous occasion.

Check out this gem.

Waiting…Waiting…!

There will be a pop quiz at the end.  Fair warning.

You have an appointment at a clinic.  The entry door opens into the middle of a rectangular waiting area with a center aisle dividing it into two squares.  Chairs ring the outer wall of each square.  Amid each square, chairs are set up in back to back rows as if a rousing game of musical chairs is about to begin.  It isn’t.  You’re at a heart clinic.

You know from the hideous, stained chair upholstery that whoever set up the design had no taste, but a wicked sense of humor.  On the far right, a flat-screen TV is turned to FOX news.  On the left, CNN. That should really be MSNBC to make it a fairer choice, but you’re sick of politics anyway, so you choose one of the chairs against the front wall of the building, near the door where you entered.

Directly under the wall-mounted CNN TV is a sofa, facing toward the front door.  You see two children, a boy who is perhaps five and a girl you’d guess to be three.  Beside them on the sofa is a clutter of fast food wrappers and two kids’ meal bags from an unknown fast food place and at the end of the couch, a woman of indeterminate age.  She has waist-length hair and is wearing a white blouse tucked into a long gathered black skirt.  She’s somewhat overweight and looks pale and puffy, as if the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s genes dominated in a liaison with Betty Crocker.  Perhaps she’s in a religious organization or even a cult?

Your entry was evidently a cue for the children to jump up for a rousing parade.  They grab their drinks and start running in a circle, laughing and shouting.   When they sail past you, you note that the girl’s bottle and the boy’s sippy cup are filled with chocolate milk.  On their second fly-by, you see that some of the boy’s teeth are black with decay.

They race back to the sofa, drop their drinks, and pick up…OMG… WHISTLES!  (You want the name of that fast food company so you can send your first hate letter.)  So, you have two whistle-blowing kids running in circles around the musical chair setup.  Two elderly patients in wheelchairs are at the end of the rows, so they get extra long blasts as the children run within inches of their heads.

You wonder if the staff is deaf.  Again, it’s a HEART CLINIC.

The woman, you aren’t even sure it’s their momma, calls out in a monotone voice, “You need to blow those whistles outside.  You might bother someone in here.”

Two problems.  They’re preschoolers.  “Outside” is a parking lot and it’s over 100 degrees.     Is she going to send them out into traffic or go out with them?

Neither.  They continue running and blowing on the whistles.

You realize that all FOX watchers probably aren’t armed because all they can shoot is dirty looks.  The woman looks unfazed.  UNTIL, that is, she picks up a man’s leather belt she has beside her and folds it into quarters.  The next time they run by, she says, in the same monotone, “I brought the belt.” 

They ignore her and continue their game.  The next time they pass her, she pops them–not at all hard–on their bottoms as they run past, but promises, “I’m going to whip you with the belt when we get to the car.”  

Okay, you decide, she’s probably their mother, but she sure as heck isn’t mother of the year.  The children are bratty, but what kind of life do they have with a mother who not only thinks it’s acceptable to hit them with a belt, but so relaxed about it that she carries it around in public as her weapon of choice.

Here’s my question: I’m just curious here. . . what will you do?  Anything you can do?   You find yourself so unnerved for a while, you can’t even remember why you’re there.

That’s the bonus question:  Why are you there?

You’re there for a Stress Test.