Monday, April 27, 2015

The Diaper Bag


Before my injured shoulder, I carried large purses.  I had everything in them that one would need in an emergency.  Rarely have we been somewhere when someone would not ask if I had ____ and I would whip it out of my purse and impress them with my super powers.
But because of my injured shoulder I cannot carry large, heavy purses anymore.  I have to limit myself to small bags that do not weigh very much.
I kept the other purses but I treat them like a carryon. I have a packed purse that I take with me and leave it in my car when I go someplace.  It has the stuff I used to carry with me everywhere in case of an emergency, but if anyone breaks into my car thinking the big purse has money or valuables, I hope they like stale gum, a toenail clipper, and a half-used chap stick.
 I also carry a small purse but it stays with me.  It has the usual necessities:  keys, wallet, cell phone.  The smaller purses are not big enough for all the things I have to carry but I have no choice.  Any larger and my shoulders rebel. 
Even then I cannot carry the little purses in my hands for long periods of time because my arms tire. Sometimes I need both hands for whatever I am doing, so I have resorted to what I call “the crossing guard” look.  I buy purses with long straps so I can pull the straps over my head and wear the strap across my chest. Not very fashionable but I have no choice. My bone health is more important than my fashion flair.
Here lately my husband has started to hand me stuff to put in my purse. He has handed me his keys, his cell phone, and his wallet.  If we go to a concert, he gives me his ticket, his program, and his reading glasses after he is through with them. I know from experience that these things feel uncomfortable in one’s pants pocket, but I finally asked him the other day if he thinks my purse is a diaper bag

When he answered no, I refused to take his things. He is a big boy and can get his own purse.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Living Off the Grid


My too-cool-for-his-grandma, thirteen-year-old grandson asked me the other day if me and his grandpa “lived off the grid.” The little toot was referring to the fact that we live on three, shaggy acres six miles outside a small town.  We do not mow the lawn until the spring wildflowers go to seed, so our ecosystem is a little WILD.
Grandpa HoneyBunch attempts a summer vegetable garden every year and he collects rain water to care for his plants. Those big, bulky rain bins do not lend themselves to the esthetics of the place, neither does the compost pile, so we do look a bit RUSTIC.
HB loves to hunt and fish, so it is not unusual for me to fix a roast one does not usually find in the meat department at the grocery story.  At our family gatherings the grandchildren are expected to eat whatever I fix, and they are expected to finish whatever is on their plate. Their grandfather does not believe in waste.
Our nearest neighbors are an acre away, but our most frequent visitors are usually skunks, snakes, and huge spiders.  Migratory birds and an assortment of owls and hawks also frequent our three acres, so the kids see us as the living biosphere version of the WILDERNESS.  
Inside the house, we have two wood stoves, four air conditioner window units, and a TV that is older than our oldest grandchild. We do not own a PlayStation or iPods, so in a world obsessed with the latest version of electronics, I can understand why our grandson thinks we are ARCHAIC.
 I hate to disappoint him but we have water, electricity, and flushing toilets, all provided by the city for a fee, but if we had to go “off the grid,” we might be able to do it with more ease than he could. We have access to the Internet and Direct TV, and our cell phones are just as smart as his.  I own a Kindle and my car has Bluetooth, but what might buy me some points on his how-archaic-is-my-grandma scale, is that I own the Oral B Pro 5000 toothbrush, and it too has Bluetooth capability!  Bam! We are just as embryonically attached to the grid as he is!  
I answered him we are “on the grid,” but try not to abuse it nor are we dependent on letting it define who we are.  We want all our grandkids to learn that, so when he comes over, I limit his electronics.  I force him to go outside, get some fresh air, and get bitten by chiggers.  I want him to appreciate that food does not magically appear prepackaged at the grocery store, and there is benefit to eating fruits and vegetables instead of chicken nuggets and takeout pizza. I want him to learn that he is responsible for his own learning, health, and survival, and I want him to develop the art of human conversation, imagination, and interaction.  

That’s the trick, isn’t it?  We all live off the grid; we are dependent on it, but it is not there for us to abuse it, nor is it there to steal our independence. By asking his question, my grandson showed his intelligence and sense of humor. There is still hope for him if we can get him to tear himself away from all those seductive electronics so that he can observe the more alluring world around him. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

My Big, Fat, Wide Screen TV


Back in 2003, I bought one of the first wide screen TVs on the market.  It is a huge, 50-inch, HD-compatible Toshiba, about five feet tall and three feet deep.  It takes four, able-bodied, muscled men with strong backs to move that big boy.
It cost me $2000 back in the day, but that is with all the extras I had to purchase.  It demanded a controller through which all the other attachments are channeled.  I had a VCR player back then and a few DVDs, but since then I got rid of the VCR player and added a Wii, a Blu-Ray machine, and the Direct TV monitor. Most of these were invented after I bought the TV so additional machines and wires have had to be purchased and attached to the old boy to bring it up-to-date. The same goes with subscription services.  The TV is not “smart,” so since it cannot connect to the Internet or Wi-Fi service, we cannot access Hulu or Netflix or other modern services like that.  We can do it on our computers but not on our TV.
My three kids have grown accustomed to this old boy, but my grandkids are techno-snobs and are embarrassed that their grandparents hold on to such an antiquity. Their PlayStations, iPads, and other doodads do not work on our Toshiba and I refuse to buy one more attachment or one more wire to make that happen. They give it the same jaundiced eye they give us, surprised that we are still alive and kicking even at our advance, decrepit age.
I have only had it fixed once and it cost me $200, but the repairman warned me back in 2008 that I would probably not be able to fix it again since the parts for it are obsolete. I figure I got my money’s worth, so my HoneyBunch and I have decided to keep this old relic until it dies.  We have selected its replacement and have made plans for the space it will open up in our cramped living room.  We never talk about it in its presence.  That would be rude. It has been with us through so many good and bad times that the old Toshiba is like family, kind of like when one gets attached to  the old family car, so until then we treat it with respect.  


Monday, April 6, 2015

Two Faced


In the 9th grade, I was “going steady” with a boy who attended the same Catholic Church and school as I did. We had known each other most of our lives, but we didn’t “notice” each other until the seventh grade and started “going around” in the 8th grade.  This was the 1960’s – before smart phones, iPods, and the Kardashians – so we hardly talked or did much of anything else.
Every Sunday, the families in our church sat in the same pews, so it was easy to see who was there and who wasn’t.  After the service, the kids gathered in the courtyard on the church grounds and we talked while our parents visited with each other.  This one Sunday, my boyfriend wasn’t there, so when I walked over to our crowd of friends, one of the girls asked about him.  I meant to sound “cool,” but instead I said something cruel, something I have never been able to take back. 
I said, “I know he always follows me around like a lost puppy, but I am not his trainer.” I even smirked.
Instead of laughing, the girl’s eyes focused on someone behind me and they widened in shock.  I turned around expecting to find that my parents had overheard my sassy comment, but instead there stood my boyfriend. He must have been somewhere in the church where I couldn’t see him and was about to tap me on the shoulder and surprise me.  His smile turned to disgust and his raised hand dropped to his side. He turned and walked away. 
We were never friends again.  Whenever I ran into him I tried to talk to him.  I wanted to tell him how terribly sorry I was, but he and I went to separate high schools and separate colleges and he avoided me at church.  Fifteen years later, when I went back to university to get my master’s degree, he was there too, but the moment he saw me, his demeanor changed and he looked right through me.  He always walked away.
That incident taught me a huge lesson about being two faced.   
I know too many people who pretend to like others.  They smile and chummy up to each other.  Sometimes it is to gain favor and use the other’s friendship or position; sometimes their pretense is nothing more than cowardice or arrogance.  Two-faced people think they are superior; they lie to themselves and they are more than glad to lie about others. 
They covet what others have or they want to be coveted, believing themselves to be better. They talk about others, stealing or degrading another person’s reputation in order to make themselves sound blameless.  Two-faced people are pretentious, envious, dishonorable thieves.  They are unworthy opponents and unworthy of anyone’s friendship. They do not deserve trust or respect.  
That fifteen-year-old girl I once was never intended to hurt that boy’s feelings.  I really liked him, but that terrible incident forced me to look at myself and I didn’t like what I saw. 
I have come to prefer the truth.  I prefer honesty to lies.  I can live without false friendships because I have true ones.  I can get along with what I call “acquaintances,” people who I do not like but who I need in my circle.


          PS:  I Googled him not too long ago.  He retired recently from an amazing career. I don’t know if we would recognize each other since that incident happened fifty years ago, but given the opportunity, I would still offer him my apology.