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September 2023

Some Days You Shouldn't Get Out of Bed

Recently, I had was one of those days.  It was a Sunday with nothing vital on my calendar except the usual checking-in phone calls. 

It was a gorgeous day, so I happily took off to patronize a friend’s granddaughter’s lemonade stand in a nearby park.  They were to be opened for business from 10-12 and I got there about 11:20 after the aforementioned phone calls and a load of laundry. 

I couldn’t find any lemonade vendors so I called the grandmother.  Turns out that her granddaughter and her playmate decided they had made a good enough profit in the first hour and closed up shop.

My next project was new-refrigerator-related.  My new refrigerator fits very nicely in its allotted space.  However, the old one didn’t.  So there was a piece of the kitchen wall about four inches wide that the old fridge had occupied that was never painted.

Luckily, I still had the paint for that wall.  I won’t go into how hard it was to retrieve it from my almost impossible to access storage space. 

I painstakingly covered the refrigerator side with newspaper and set to work, only to find that the paint, although only a year old was completely dried up.  Who would have thought?

Well, that left the Patriot’s game to provide some solace. And you know how that turned out.

Like I said, I should have stayed in bed…

Why Am I Happy?

I’ve written before about the U-curve of Happiness, the theory that we’re happier in our later years than we were at middle-age.  I was darn happy in my middle-age as far as I can recall.  And back then, I didn’t anticipate being this old AND happy.

However, of late, I am surprised about how my mood is upbeat (usually) and that despite all the troubles in the world and our country, I’m feeling positive most of the time.

I do miss my work.  I miss having only one doctor appointment a year. I miss getting lost in France on my bicycle.  Most of all, I miss Peter.  

But those are all rich memories, no longer available.  So I try to focus on what I DO have and what I CAN do. 

And that’s quite a lot.

Visit to Maryland

It feels like it can’t be easy being young these days.  Somehow, our worsening climate, our divided country, our not-prompt-response to Covid etc. do not seem to bode well for the future. But this might just be old-person-talk.  Because after spending a weekend with my junior in high school grandchild and his parents in Maryland, I feel a little more hopeful.

Hanging out with the next two generations is refreshing.  We did not discuss doctors’ appointments. In fact, I don’t remember anything we discussed.  I do remember that we laughed a lot.  I do remember sitting in the blazing sun watching #11, aka my grandson, do a great job as the kicker in his high school’s football game (despite a hard loss) while his father who somehow got a press pass walked the side-lines taking endless photos.

During the summer #11 had gone on a Y-camp service trip to Japan, and he showed me a slideshow about his trip.  He paused at a slide of a little shop, walked across the room and came back with a wrapped present from that very shop for his astonished grandmother. 

I managed not to cry.

Old Friends (Literally)

At my age, losing friends is a given.  But it is never without profound sadness for the loss along with enormous gratitude for years of friendship.  This is why spending six hours with a friend of many decades last week was pure joy.

On an uncommonly hot (even for DC) Washington day, I took the Metro from the airport to visit my longest-ever friend for five hours of non-stop chatting.  It’s true that we talk on the phone, but in-person togetherness, complete with hugging, is different. 

We met at age four or five at a beach in Bemus Point, New York.  We have a picture from then with our mothers, my hair in braids wrapped around my head, both of our tummies protruding as is typical of that age.  At the time, I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, but when we moved to Pittsburgh, (she lived in a small town nearby) we saw each other occasionally when her parents came to town. 

By coincidence, we ended up at the same summer camp.  By coincidence, we ended up at the same college.  By then our friendship was destined to be permanent.

And over the years, although in different cities, we have remained close.  We share the ups and downs of our kids and grandchildren.  We both lost our husbands at about the same time.  We talk on the phone often.

But nothing beats an in-person hug.

My New Fridge

I know.  It doesn’t sound exciting.  But my new refrigerator has improved my life.  This could only be so if the old refrigerator was really bad.

It was.

The old refrigerator did keep things cool.  However, one of the produce drawers didn’t open.  The other had to be treated delicately or it didn’t open either.  The white exterior was stained.  The refrigerator didn’t fit in its allotted space, so it stuck out beyond the cabinets.  Worst of all, even without my hearing aids in, it sounded like a jet plane taking off every time it cycled on. Oh, and did I mention that the freezer was like a deep hole?  No shelves, no dividers.  Finding anything that wasn’t last “in” was a nightmare.

My new refrigerator purrs like a kitten when it is running.  All drawers open and close.  The freezer has separate compartments.  It fits in the space.

I didn’t go for all the bells and whistles—there is no icemaker, and I can’t get a glass of cold water without opening the door.

It functions.  That works for me.

Back to School

September is still my New Year’s.  The streets are bustling with a back-to-school vibe.  I was almost late to a doctor’s appointment last week because I had to get by Boston University students clogging the streets with their moving back activities.  But I love seeing the excited and somewhat lost looks on the freshmen (who by the way, get younger every year).

And I too go back to school.  I’m lucky to live in a city with many opportunities for retired folks to learn.  In downtown Boston, for example, Suffolk University welcomes older auditors to their classrooms.  Peter once talked himself into a wonderful seminar at Boston University—I’m sure the students related to him like a grandfather.  The opportunities are there—one must only ask.

This year I am auditing a class on “Loss,” not just loss of a loved one, but loss in general.  It’s only met once so far, but the teacher seems great, and I think it’s worth leaving the house way before my usual morning departures twice a week.  I will try to do the reading, but if I don’t, that’s OK too.

At my age, it’s easy to focus with regret on the things I can no longer do.  I find it helpful to focus on the things I can.

My Close Call with the Law

While on a beautiful late summer afternoon walk with a friend in Cambridge’s magnificent Mt. Auburn garden cemetery, my phone rang.  I didn’t recognize the number and normally wouldn’t have answered, but it was from Washington, DC, and something made me take the call.

The male voice on the other end announced that he was calling from the sheriff’s office.  Since my children live in nearby Maryland, I was terrified that something had gone terribly wrong.

Instead, he told me that I needed to take immediate action or I would be arrested because I failed to show up for jury duty.  If I did not take action, I would be jailed until this was resolved.  He told me to take out a pencil and write down the instructions he would give me.  I told him I was in the woods walking and had no pencil and paper.

Further, I told him that I hadn’t lived in Washington, DC for five years, and if I was sent a letter directing me to show up for jury duty there, I never received it.  Then he told me I should go to the nearest police station and follow instructions.

I accused him of scamming me.  He didn’t like that.  I guess he finally gave up because he said he would take my name off his list.

My friend who only heard my half of the conversation was perplexed and frightened for me.  But it was over.

Just another walk in the park. 

No More Possessions


De-accessing has been my mantra of late.  Why do I have so many THINGS?  Do I really need a yellowed copy of every newspaper article I’ve ever published?  Do I seriously think my grandchildren will want to read them?  Does it feel good when I de-access some “thing” or piece of clothing that has gone untouched or unappreciated for years?  Absolutely.

But things happen.  On a recent visit to Williamstown in western Massachusetts, my friend wanted to show me her favorite new shop—a wonderful collection of things all made in Africa.  There was nothing in there that I didn’t like.  I managed to wander around the shop for at least ten minutes without spending anything.  Then my friend admired a charming vase, and I couldn’t resist buying it for her as a gift.  (“To give is better than to receive.)  I don’t know which one of us was more pleased.  But then I caved in and bought the same thing for me.

So much for de-accessing.  But it was irresistible. 

See above.