Monday, August 31, 2015

The Lighthouse


The lighthouse tosses her silver mane.
She turns her back for a moment
but then returns for one more look
into the dark,
into the distance of yesterdays.

She stares into the vast ocean,
into that faraway place
she cannot see,
that place she can never reach.

With the cruel passing of time,
seasons fade into each other.
Blame and promises wash away.

Her constancy wears away anger
and pardons
expectations and regrets.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Downsizing


Every time my ex-husband and I moved, I learned to clean house and sell or give away things I did not want to pack and move to the next house.
The two times I got divorced it was easy to get rid of the ex’s junk. Without his clothes, his collections, and his tools out in the garage, it left lots of room for my stuff.  It also gave me permission to replace all his man cave junk with nice decorations.
When I married HoneyBunch and we had to combine two households, I cut all my possessions in half by offering things to my three kids.  They were just starting their own homes, so some took furniture; others took household items. I had a monster of a garage sale and called the Disabled Vets to come get the rest. Even like that HB and I had doubles of too many things and so the downsizing continued for a year after we married.
We still have two dining tables, two sets of “grandma’s china,” and two truckloads of Christmas decorations that neither one of us will surrender.
As an educator for thirty-seven years, I had boxes and boxes of books and teaching materials, stuff I carted home every summer and stored until the beginning of school the next fall.  Stuff I needed for reference or to decorate sterile classrooms year after year.  When I retired I gave away twenty boxes jammed with expensive books to the school district in which we live and I threw away/recycled bins and bins of paper, but here I am, seven years later and still trying to use up the dozens of pencils and pens, sticky notes and glue, folders and reams of paper I bought on sale way back then.
The same thing happened when I decided to reduce the number of books in my house by half.  I gave books away, sold some, and then donated the rest to our local library, but still here we go again.  Time to downsize again. 
HoneyBunch and I have decided that as we grow older, we need to have some say about what happens to our “treasures.” We shouldn’t wait until we have to downsize and have no options because of time restraints. We don’t want to leave too much of a mess for our kids after we are gone. We know that most of what we consider valuable will be thrown away or given away, so we might as well and try to do some of that ourselves.   
I hate dusting so the knickknacks will be the first to go.  I am only going to keep the most valuable, those I cannot do without. I guess the piggy bank I had since college and the Buddha I bought when I was a hippy will have to go. I own more sets of dishes than I will ever wear out in the time I have left so they too will be history.  And I really, really do not need two blenders, two mixers, and two punch bowls.
It might be time to throw away all the plastic containers without lids or give away my collection of Wilton cake pans to the granddaughter who aspires to be a chef.  Maybe I can toss the bag of squashed bows I keep in the closet for emergency gift wrapping.
Both my ex-grandmother-in-law and my ex-mother-in-law gave me their Jewel T dishes for safekeeping. I have never used them except for display, so now may be the time to pass those on to my daughter.
I pray (fervently) that my kids think twice before buying me a knickknack for Christmas.  I like chocolate and cash. A gift card would be nice.  
Downsizing will be difficult for HB and me, but it makes us realize that things are just that – things. They might have memories attached to them, reminders of the person who gave the gift, mementos of places and times in our lives, but it would be wonderful to be unencumbered.  It would be nice to own things and not let them own us.

Did I mention how much I HATE dusting? 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Verbal Abuse


She cooked his favorite supper and waited for him to get home from work. Six o’clock turned into seven, so she called to see what kept him.  When he didn’t answer she left a voice mail.
Are you working late?  Are you on your way home?
After a half hour, she tried again, tamping down her suspicions, quieting her imagination. She schooled her voice to cover her concern.
I made your favorite supper.  Should I go ahead and eat without you?
At nine o’clock, she put away the food, her hunger replaced with anger and disappointment.
The cycle was starting again. She knew what to expect next.
He started coming home later and later each day.  At first, he blamed work, and instead of six, the norm became ten or eleven at night. She stopped asking for an explanation, because when she did, he yelled at her; he accused her of nagging.
Her silence gave him license to do whatever he pleased, but even when she dared to utter a protest, he turned the blame on her.   
Are you gaining weight again? Look how you dress.  Can’t you do something with your hair?
He never hit her but his words felt like fists, pounding away at her insecurities and shielding his infidelities.
          She stopped liking him long before she stopped loving him, so when there was nothing left between them, she demanded he leave.
          Insulted, he packed the tiny bit of him that remained in the house and left. 
          She changed the locks and the bank accounts.  She called a lawyer and got divorced. His love affairs never lasted long, so she knew he would call wanting a “home” again.  He listed all the same lame promises she had heard before many times, but when he started naming what she needed to change, she hung up on him.
          He was nothing to her.  He had no right to insult her any more.
When his voice mails got fewer and fewer, she knew his nonsense lived elsewhere. He had found someone else to own.  

She, on the other hand, lived wonderfully, ecstatically, happily ever after.  

Monday, August 10, 2015

Three Hundred Romance Novels


Thirty-something years ago, a lady who worked across the hall from me, handed me a well-worn paperback.  “It reminded me of you,” she said.  I didn’t know what that meant so I just took it and thanked her.  “I want it back when you finish.” I promised her that I would.
It must have been a Friday because I remember reading it straight through and returning it right away.  We didn’t discuss the book’s plot since it was about a haggard, single mother of three who falls in love with the cutie-pie next door.  He turns out to be the husband and father she and her children deserve.  I was a haggard mother of three, married to a man who acted single. There was no cutie-pie next door willing to rescue me.  On the contrary, the neighbors next door rented a room to a weirdo who waited for me to go outside so he could peek at me from behind the ligustrums.  
But one could wish.
My experience with romance novels was limited. It dated back to when I was an adolescent and I read my mother’s copy of Gone with the Wind and a risqué novel she kept hidden from us kids in her bedside table, so when my coworker asked if I liked the book, I told her I was thoroughly delighted by the genre. She rattled off the names of three authors she thought I would like and I wrote them down, promising to read more. 
That was thirty-something years ago and three hundred romance novels. I wish I could remember the title or the author of that first book.  I would love to have a copy of it for my library.
I wish I was still in touch with the coworker. I would like to thank her for introducing me to world of women’s fiction. It has been my companion all these years.  

As for the cutie-pie next door, I married someone very much like him.  He turned out to be the husband and step-father me and my children deserve. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Ode to the Odious School Supply List


Back to school.
Haircuts
School clothes
Uniforms
Shoes
Backpacks
Physicals, vaccines, new bifocals
The list is just beginning - There is also the (cue music) 

SCHOOL SUPPLY LIST

One for each child of school age. 

8-count watercolors, 16-count watercolors
Ten-packs of Ticonderogas # 2, red pens, blue pens
Eight-count colored markers
Map colors, scissors, ruler
Glue sticks, glue bottle, AND a roll of cellophane tape
College-ruled, wide-ruled, and primary-ruled reams of paper. 

TWO boxes of facial tissue

Pocket folders, binders, composition books
Highlighters
Sticky notes

 and the ever-intriguing PROTRACTOR. 

Crayons, rubber erasers, scissors
Baby wipes and hand sanitizer. . .

Will the list ever end?


No.

On the first day of school the kids will come home with even more stuff you have to buy.