Friday, 17 July 2015

Anything But Purple

By Gloria MacKay

Before I was old I wrote this: When I grow old I shall not wear purple even though purple has become a symbol of sorts – a statement perhaps – for all women.

Purple is a demand to be noticed, a plea for validation, a way to make one last ripple in the muddy puddle called life. An old woman in a purple pants suit represents spunky women everywhere.

But when I grow old, I want to wear beige and gray and navy blue and a little black on a sunny day. Although purple is a symbol long associated with royalty and linked with power, I learned long ago to back away from purple. If you could see me you would know why: it turns me yellow.

Even when I come up next to lavender, my face looks like it is spread with grey poupon. I appear sickly, sallow and tallow-faced. I figured this out when I was in the eighth grade. My final sewing project was to make a dress, from choosing the fabric and the pattern to stitching in the zipper.

I decided to make a purple cotton shantung sun dress with a circular skirt and short sleeved jacket. I completed the skirt, connected the perky sun top and interfaced the little jacket.

It fit and I got a B+. I loved my dress but only to hang in the closet. Never to wear. It was clear from the beginning that purple turns me yellow. It always will.

Therefore, when I get old I shall surround myself with colors that are pleased with me. White walls closing in around me and white sheets as soft as angel wings. Near me I want shades of tan like shifting sand and shadows of misty gray.

Perhaps I’ll buy a pink sweater just so I can hang it up and watch it glow. I might never put it on but it is fun to think about wearing pink.

When I grow old, I shall pass my hours doing whatever pleases me. I will check out from the library piles of books that will spill over onto the floor and find their way throughout my house.

If someone asks, “How can you read so much stuff?” I will know that, to this person, I cannot be understood. Books are not just for reading. Books are to step over and skim through and stack and take back and buy new and buy used and loan out and give away and, on occasion, to read from first page to last and feel bereft when the trip is over.

When I grow old I shall listen to music that I love. If my toes tap occasionally to an unfamiliar beat, all the better but I will focus on my favorite which is jazz. A slippery slide trombone or the soaring and sinking voice of Cleo Laine chased by her husband, John Dankworth on a soprano sax. The piano of Brubeck and Shearing. Duets by Armstrong and Fitzgerald.

And every day I will play Frank Sinatra starting with his Reprise Collection. I like to pick randomly from these eighty-one choices and treat my ears to the same song perhaps four or five or six times in a row. I hear something new every time.

When I’m really old I will probably listen to the same selection over and over again until the player heats up and the disk turns to gold.

When I grow old, I shall get up and write whenever I am awakened by moonlight or aroused by the coyotes calling. I will write anytime I feel like it even if the bed still looks slept in and the soup is boiling.

I will write what I truly believe and feel and I will not worry what other people think of me. I shall write limericks and haiku on the same day. I will send letters to editors, white hot with icy rage. I will write essays quivering with irony.

I will tell stories that cause grown-ups to roll their eyes and children to giggle. When I feel downcast, I will unwrap my feelings of blueness and let them trickle through my keyboard and pour out all over my screen.

But there will be no way, I speculated, even when I am old, that I will permit myself to write one single word of purple prose. A woman at any age has to draw the line somewhere - and now that I am old, ’tis true.


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Thursday, 16 July 2015

Intelligent Design? Or Not?

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

Some call Intelligent Design
God’s plan for life, and his outline;
But others say life’s profusion
Has its source in evolution.

Believers claim the plan’s God’s law,
And science lacks sufficient awe;
The battle lines are sharp, and strong;
Each one insists the other’s wrong.

Religion swears God’s plan's the key,
And science has to bend the knee;
Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Both sides seem sure;
Let’s hope the cosmos will endure.


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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Nothing Like Homemade

By Joyce Benedict

Decided to roast a chicken today. It had been a while. I miss the meals I used to cook for my family. All from scratch. Much food from a garden. The pleasure was great.

There is something gratifying, perhaps timeless about roasting a chicken. Preparing it, making a stock with the innards plus carrots, onions, celery, bay leaf while potatoes get scrubbed with skins left to be steamed. While the bird roasts, the smells of the stock begin to be experienced. Soon, the aroma of the chicken itself. Basting part of the ritual.

Memories, ah, those memories of my first attempts at roasting a chicken as a young bride. I couldn’t bring myself to put my hands inside the slimy cavity to pull the guts out. It was torture. I would put paper towels around my hand and finally they were removed. In time I got brave. In time.

Carving? Still a job I detest. I learned to let it set a while before carving. Eventually learned that a great stock comes from preparing it with the bones. Wonderful flavor. Use as a base to cook brown rice or for a soup.

The next adventure those years was learning to bake bread. Oh my, more goo and mess on hands. It was awhile learning how to get the yeast to bubble, mixing it into dough, the kneading process and waiting for the dough to rise.

My first three loaves entered the oven in pans. To my chagrin they barely rose. I was reminded of the flat cakes of cow dung that graced every farmer’s field who had one. Pictures are still in the album. My first success at bread baking. There were more flops than successes in those days.

In time, and it really was in time. I got the hang of the whole process. Whole wheat, white, challah, raison/cinnamon, potato, Anadama (corn) breads mastered.

I repeated the ritual weekly for years. I came to identify with millions of women in every land toiling over hot stoves, brick ovens, making bread for their families.

It had a rhythm all its own. A deep, primitive satisfaction. Loved the snap, crackle, pop of the yeast bubbles when punching dough down for next rising. In time it did rise greatly. What magic in the kitchen.

Can anyone disclaim the pure, heavenly smells of bread baking and the pleasure that that aroma brought? Then, eating slices of the devine, warm morsels slathered with butter?

I have pondered the extraordinary number of drug stores in every community. Not one, but three or four. Hospitals the size of the Vatican abound and costs of meds? Outrageous! Wholesome fresh food, herbs, fresh air, water, exercise, prayer still reign supreme as Mother Nature’s way of curing. Something terrible is missing today.

Fortunately, people are getting wise listening to the few folks now who are espousing the better nutrition mantras.

Personally, I think young women are missing out on the home cooking scene. I see many, many young families eating out. I wonder how they afford them with today’s prices or even enjoy all those frozen, nuked, tasteless, odorless meals.

The wonderful aromas of bread, cookies baking, meats roasting, soups simmering, fresh tea or coffee on the stove, this was the glue that held families together. Those aromas addressed your senses on every level. A real appetite arose screaming to be satisfied. Have women forgotten the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?

Anyone who experiences down-to-earth, homemade goodness, knows that no restaurant, however gourmet or sophisticated, comes close to Mom’s best cooking. Never to be duplicated is the undeniable luscious flavor of peas, beans, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes fresh from a home garden. Many have written their happiest, fondest memories were the family gatherings at meal time.

Is it possible on the latest selfie you will soon be able to push a button and view a homemade meal on a table? Push another button and artificial smells of meat, potatoes, or soup spew forth? Is it coming to that? Heaven help us!

I am eternally grateful my sister married a chiropractor. When I was 19 he spoke to me about proper nutrition. My health improved in leaps and bounds. I went the route of alternative healing methods from then on.

Oh! Yum! The smells waft to me as I write. Must baste my chicken. My blood work tells a happy tale. Little chicken here I come!


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

One’s Friends Are Either - Or

By Arlene Corwin of Arlene Corwin Poetry

One’s friends
Are either sick or dying,
Husbands leaving for
A younger woman, younger man,
Wives whose lives outlive them both.
Faces un-adorable,
Phases unavoidable,
Arrows point to trends and ends,
One’s self becoming old.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Monday, 13 July 2015

A Daughter Lost & The Rose Fairy

By Linda Davis

FairyDavis2

Of the more than 100 elders in my mother’s new apartment building - a former nun’s convent - Rosie stood out from the minute I met her. It wasn’t just her age, Rosie is well into her 90s, it was the sweetness and kindness she carried with her as well as the palpable grief.

The first time I met her, she took my hands in hers and through tears told me how lucky I was to be close to my Mom and that it brought her joy to see it. Rosie lost her only child, a daughter, to cancer.

The pain and sorrow has never left her.

Every time I visit my Mom, I seem to run into Rosie in the hall. We always talk and reminisce. And Rosie always has tender words to say, always holding my hand in hers.

A month ago, walking into a store, I saw an antique garden statue. It was a fairy carrying a bouquet of roses, a wreath of roses draped on her head.

Surely this Rose Fairy was meant for Rosie. I imagined it in front of her apartment doorway the way many of the girls put flowers, plants, ornaments in front of their doors. I love these decorated doorways, symbols of creative expression, each different and unique - just like what you might have seen on their front porches or stoops.

I bought the Rose Fairy and set it aside to deliver one day. It was heavy for such a small statue and I waited for a day when I’d have help. For several weeks I had the Rose Fairy.

Then one day last month, my husband had the time and we loaded it into his car and we went off to deliver it to Rosie.

My Mom, husband and I walked down the long corridor to Rosie’s apartment. We rang the bell a few times but there was no answer. We set the fairy in place alongside Rosie’s door, just where I’d imagined it would fit. I wrote a note on my Mom’s pretty blue hydrangea notepaper and strung it around the fairy’s neck.

The note said that the fairy angel was given as our gift to lift her spirits if she was feeling down, a reminder of friendship and that she is loved.

Early the next morning, my Mom heard an urgent knocking at her door. When she opened the door, there was Rosie still in her pale blue nightgown, breathless. She didn’t even have her walker.

Through tears, she told my Mom that she couldn’t sleep the night before. She awoke feeling dread and grief and deep sorrow. When she opened her apartment door, she saw the fairy and the note.

She could barely express how much it meant to her to get such a gift on this day. Because this day was her daughter's birthday.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Friday, 10 July 2015

The Autograph

By Vicki E. Jones

It was the late 1950s and I was having a lot of trouble with my allergies due to dust and pollen. My mother took me to our allergist, Dr. Targow. The allergist happened to be my father’s best friend.

Dr. Targow had offices in a building in Beverly Hills a few stories high. There was a pharmacy on the first floor and in those days, many pharmacies or drug stores had a counter with stools you could sit on and get a soda or an ice cream, and Dr. Targow’s office was upstairs. It wasn’t uncommon for a celebrity or two to occasionally show up at the drug store.

After my doctor appointment, we went down to the drug store to buy a couple of things and perhaps have a soda. We would be in the building every week or two since I needed allergy shots for desensitization to the dust and pollens I was reacting to.

As we entered the drug store we noticed a large crowd of people had gathered, all happy and excited and trying to get close to a celebrity to get his autograph – actor and comedian Red Skelton.

I became very excited and found a piece of paper and a pen and tried to get near Red Skelton to get his autograph but there was no penetrating the crowd. My mother waited patiently while I tried to get near but the situation seemed hopeless.

Disappointed and on the verge of crying, I stood there away from the crowd hoping I would get a chance to meet Red Skelton.

Suddenly Red Skelton happened to glance my way. He smiled at me and said to the crowd of adults, “Excuse me!” and walked through the crowd and over to me. He looked at me and said, “Did you want my autograph, young lady?”

I answered “Yes!” with great enthusiasm. Then he asked me my name and wrote “To Vicki” and signed the piece of paper with my pen and handed it to me. I was delighted! I thanked him profusely.

My mother and I then left the drug store with each of us harboring an unspoken warm feeling toward Red Skelton. Here was a famous comedian who obviously liked children and put children first. And I had his genuine autograph! I vowed to treasure it forever and ever and took it home and put it in a safe place.

Somehow over the years that followed the autograph was lost. I can only think that in later years, when either my mother or I went on a cleaning binge, it somehow got accidentally discarded. It wasn’t a very big piece of paper.

But the warm feeling remains. For all I have read about his personal problems and trials and tribulations of his life, the one fact that stays with me is that he cared enough about a child who wanted his autograph to excuse himself and as the crowd parted he came over to me and offered me his autograph. In my view, he was a rare gem.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Thursday, 09 July 2015

Dental Dilemma

By Henry Lowenstern

My eighty-nine year-old teeth
are mostly intact, but some cease
to function and have lapsed,
creating gaps
that invite an occasional breeze.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Wednesday, 08 July 2015

Keepers

From Clifford Rothband

I grew up with practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen before they had a name for it. A father was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.

Their marriage was good, their dreams focused.Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand and dish-towel in the other.

It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.

It was a way of life and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more.

But then my mother died and on that clear summer's night in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more.

Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away, never to return. So. While we have it. It's best we love it. And care for it. And fix it when it's broken. And heal it when it's sick.

This is true. For marriage. And old cars. And children with bad report cards. And dogs with bad hips. And aging parents. And grandparents.

We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with.

There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special. And so, we keep them close!

* * *

Clifford here: I take no credit for this other than passing it on.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Tuesday, 07 July 2015

Laughing and Living Large

By Theresa Joseph Willis

Funnyman Bob Hope said, “I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”

That’s how I’ve come to feel about those life-long struggles that seem to challenge us from the cradle to the grave. Here’s one of my adventures from a few years ago.

After working for over 25 years as a grants manager in the medical center, I returned to college to prepare for a semi-retirement career in nonprofit health promotion. One of my final courses was a 12-week community nutrition course that was only offered on campus in the middle of the work day.

The classroom was furnished with old desk/chair combos that do not accommodate plump (okay, fat) people.

TWillisdesk-chair

Those of us who are living large can attest that we always try to arrive early to scope out the seating arrangements. But I was five minutes late on that first Tuesday and the instructor had already begun speaking.

I wanted to walk down the back row and sit behind everyone so as not to bring attention to myself but the students on that row had used the extra space for their backpacks. I could not avoid rubbing either my breasts or my buttocks against them as I passed so I simply smiled and motioned that I would sit elsewhere.

As another late student entered the room, I took the first empty desk I saw in the middle aisle.

Friends, I could see that my equator (okay, midriff bulge) was not going to fit into that contraption so I sat down quickly and I shocked myself! I smashed my carcass into that chair and then busied myself by taking a pad and pen out of my bag while I caught my breath and hoped that the sweat dripping from my brow did not sting my eyes.

Not looking up, I smiled sickly - turning red, orange and blue in the face - and thought, “Lord, please take me now like Enoch!” It wasn’t my time, thankfully, so I just sat that way, letting the rest of my body hang out into the aisle, while the wooden desk dug into every crevice and soft tissue of my body.

The pain was so intense that my eyes began to water. I tried to concentrate on something else - you know, like the heroes in old western movies did when they simply gritted their teeth, while the town’s “doc” poured some whiskey over their open gunshot wound to dig out a bullet with a fire-sterilized knife.

I noticed that I was probably the most mature (okay, oldest) person in the room and one of only three overweight students in the entire class of 150. I tried to look slimmer and could feel myself slinking down into the seat (surely I was imagining this because my body was absolutely stuck in that chair).

I was grateful that I did not have to look the instructor in the eye, who by then was vigorously preaching about obesity in the U.S. The young lady seated in front of me was wider and taller than I and also hung out into the aisle, such that she completely blocked my view of the professor and vice versa.

As the syllabus review was winding down, I became totally engulfed in an out-of- body experience and my left leg, foot, hip and both buttocks went numb. Then ever so faintly, the instructor announced that the class was a “hybrid” and would meet one day on campus and one day online.

Suddenly my glassy eyes began to re-focus. I could not feel my body below the waist but I knew that I was still alive because I heard someone who sounded like me actually giggle when she said, “...so don’t come to class on Thursday.”

I made an A in that class. When we got around to studying the obesity epidemic, all of those young, slim students who I thought would be judgmental towards me surprisingly shared their own stories about struggling with weight.

The dreaded desk/chair became my weekly weight-loss gauge and it helped me to lose 32 pounds that semester.

Moral of this story: Before you can change unhealthy habits, you have to work on improving the health of your mind. So LAUGH every day and LAUGH heartily. Laugh at yourself and don’t worry that other people may be laughing at you. Who can frown and laugh at the same time, right?


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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Monday, 06 July 2015

Pigeonholes

By Marc Leavitt of Marc Leavitt's Blog

We call the old people, “senior citizens,”
Vanilla words, they segregate the old,
But well-meaning, it’s a harmless title;
We certainly would never condescend.

Then we describe the people next in line
As middle-aged, not sure of what that means,
Except, they obviously aren’t kids,
But they’re too young to lump in with the old.

Finally, we have youth, ah, golden youth,
A time to flourish, enjoy, and find love!
We call youth, beautiful, exciting, fun!
We smile at its mistakes (we made some too).

The labels make us feel smart and cozy,
Cocooned and snug, and knowing who we are;
But they can’t change the quality of truth;
We’re simply people, living out our lives.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

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