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Life’s Puzzles

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I hate puzzles.  Not the puzzles of life, as those intrigue me.  The ones in the box that have a thousand pieces that all look the same, except for the edge ones, which almost look the same.  Who has patience for assembling a perfectly nice enough picture that some sadist decided to cut up into a thousand pieces and throw into a box for the sole purpose of reassembling it, to make the picture whole again? Kind of a sick game, if you ask me.  And yet, I will admit that going away for a few days to Maine two weekends ago, provoked that sort of nostalgic feeling of sitting around a table with someone I love and working on a puzzle together.  Hence, I bought a puzzle which was started in our little cottage in Maine and  because we didn’t have, in my estimation, about 14 years, to complete it, was disassembled and travelled back to the loft.  Upon our return, my FHB brought the box of pieces to the dining room table and began his journey toward his idea of nirvana, in the form of a puzzle.  Thanksgiving is coming in three days.  We are having guests who apparently will sit at one end of the table while the puzzle takes up the other half.  Perhaps in 2018, the table will be available to a larger crowd.  I’m not optimistic.

The irony is that as I pick up pieces from the floor that the cat plays hockey with, I use my keen eagle eyesight and find the critical pieces that my FHB spent two hours looking for.  When I find them, and place them, his response is not “Thank you!” but rather “Son of a bitch, I just spent hours looking for them and didn’t sleep last night wondering whether the box had only 998 pieces!”.  Where is the normal in that statement?  I hoped for gracious appreciation.  Perhaps another time, in another galaxy, far, far away.

Hoping that the pieces all come together as we join with our family on Thursday.   When the day unfolds, I will be full of grace and gratitude for all that surrounds me….all 1000 pieces and those that I love.  Happy Thanksgiving.

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Birth Daze

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On the way home from my birthday dinner with my FHB, I read an article (to him) that I found in the New York Times about supercentenarians. These are people who live to over 110 years old.  What I took away from the article is that anecdotally, those folks report that it is a combination of factors including morning walks, chocolate and not being devastatingly sick and remaining healthy until they die.  Therein is the key.  The research into the secret of longevity, as my father would say, is to not die.  Well actually, it has to do with your DNA or my DNA.  People who live long have good genetic codes.  One can only hope.

It’s been a good day filled with lots of greetings from all over the country and the world.  The year behind always leaves me a message, although sometimes I don’t pick it up right away and then there it is, in front of me.  This year the message was  that to look good on the outside, you have to take care of the inside.  Healthy bodies are more important than ever.  I have gotten that message,  loud and clear.  My FHB and I are finding out how to eat better and about the richness of vegetables, every day.  We just jumped into a new way of recognizing what is good for us nutritionally.  Like every adventure anyone tries with the hope of a positive outcome there are several key components you have to have for success or at least successive approximation.   They are the right equipment, the desire for finding out what is on the other side of your goal, and having the right people in your life to accompany you and others to cheer you on from the sidelines.  I am blessed with the knowledge that I have all of those things and more.  I agree with Dr. Einstein that to age is natural and what you want is that to occur in  the best way possible.  However a childlike curiosity spurs us on to challenge ourselves  to seek new information day by day, and to know that one adventure leads to another.

I also discovered that the Beatles were correct in their song “When I’m 64?”  My FHB has made it clear that he really will still love me when I’m 64.  So, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

From Away

The folks in Maine have an expression for other folks that don’t come from Maine, or weren’t born in Maine, or don’t live in Maine, but may come for a visit.  They say we are “from away”.  I have been visiting Maine since I was a child and it has become a frequent destination when we want to relax and recharge, surrounded by the beauty of the pine trees and ocean and little towns that welcome us no matter what time of year.

Some weeks ago, my FHB told me about a diner that is touted as the “best diner in Maine”.  Seemed like a place he wanted to go and knew I wouldn’t fight him for an opportunity to visit my favorite state, both in mind and spirit.  He’s the big idea man and I am the detail person in the relationship.  Timing being what it is, landed us this afternoon in Kennebunkport in artic temperatures, that are possibly record breakers.  Even in Maine, where cold weather is a common event, this was an unusual time of year for the temperatures to dip so low.  We brought coats that we usually wear in January.  Last weekend, the temperatures were close to 70 degrees. Oh the irony and yet, that’s what we were looking for.  The winds are whipping against the little house we rented for a few nights.  The leaves are off the trees and dancing in the road.  As we headed into a local pub for dinner, the dining area was filled with leaves that came in the door with us.  A nice decorating touch.  We dined on vegetables, roasted, with gnocchi, and in a tikka masala sauce.  It was a food fest combined with some healthy eating followed by dessert, which was far more delicious than healthy, but when on vacation that’s what you do.

We returned to the little house, worked a bit on a 1,000 piece puzzle in the hope that the pieces come together, both metaphorically and organizationally.  He does the outside pieces and I grab a bunch of like colored ones and we each do our part.  So far to go but it’s about the intent, and less about the completion.  Time away is good for our psyche.  Tomorrow we head to the Palace Diner to see if the reviews are as good as we hope.  We have no agenda but to take our time meandering to nowhere special.  I forgot my watch at home but maybe I didn’t.

Cold temps, warm thoughts and wishes for some peace on earth, and quiet starry nights.

Talk to Me!

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I actually know a few people who aren’t on Facebook, don’t have smartphones, or Instagram and they seem pretty content with their lives.  They have managed to create a life that is still connnected to the world and other people, and they are friends of mine.  Sometimes we actually have phone conversations.  When we do, it is not an emergency. We text one another and check in and in one case we use Messenger and Skype.  You wouldn’t know that they aren’t connected like a lot of other people just to look at them, but they are out there, seemingly not worried about what’s being posted or who’s where in the moment.  I straddle the world of technological conversation with mailing postcards and birthday cards and thank you notes.

What concerns me, is that we continue to have more ways than ever to keep in touch and yet some of the old school ways, like a phone call, sitting at a telephone table, has gone the way of the hoop skirt and spats.  I also struggle with trying to see the nuances between one emoji and another.  It is a source of stress, in that I don’t want to use the incorrect one and give someone the wrong impression.  It is another language that I find difficult to translate at times.   I do give it a try but I realize that I use the same ones over and over again and that makes me feel as though I am not trying hard to figure out how to exactly communicate my feelings.  They are certainly somewhat efficient little characters.  I am not sure what the difference is between laughing with tears and laughing with tears sideways.  I wish there was a cheat sheet that I could reference while I am efficiently texting my message.

So, talk to me.  After a while the texting is just too labor intensive.  Most of the people I communicate with are near a phone, cell or otherwise.  In the time it takes to text, we could talk about so many things and switch topics and gossip about other people.  My FHB claims that his fingers are too big and he can’t figure out how to text more efficiently.  I become the texter in the family.  We are also not on the same phone plan.  He’s an android and I’m an iPhone.  He can’t really answer my phone and his phone confuses me.  One more reason we talk every day around noon.  My spouse telepathy is usually good enough to catch him eating his lunch with his mouth full. He will sounds irritated and hiss at me “how do you know when I am eating?”  I don’t need a text or an emoji to know he eats at the same time every day which is the same time I call.  I guess that it is good that he doesn’t use emojis.  I can read his face, through the phone.  I can hear him smiling.  I can do that with a lot of people and that is the connection that keeps on going.  A picture of a small smiley face may be worth a thousand words or bytes or characters, but a good conversation can’t be recreated with the press of a finger.  Keep talking, I’m listening.

Finding the funny

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I like it when a day works out better than expected.  Of course, the bar for a decent day might have been set low but that actually makes it seem as though there are more good days that bad ones.  I think in business or economics that is called adjusting for margin.  In social work-ese, we look for strengths of positivity.  Every discipline has its lingo.

I strive, often unsuccessfully, to be an optimist, but often settle for being a pragmatist.  I find that in marriage, it is good if one person is at one end of the spectrum attitudinally, and the other is closer to the other.  I am not referring to one Pollyanna and one Eeyore but somewhere in balance.  If my FHB and I  were exactly the same in temperment, one of us would be redundant. It makes for the mystique of relationships.  This week was filled with some very sad moments on an interpersonal level and some on a sociopolitical level.  The unexpected death of a young person make you take pause and reflect.  My FHB lost a colleague and that was very difficult.  The death of a group of people just riding their bikes on a beautiful day, that was jarring.

Maneuvering through emotional terrain is never easy.  Sometimes you have to find the funny because those moment become the links that help you survive the rest of the madness and sadness.  A few days ago a neighbor commented on my hairstyle looking different and good. We don’t see one another too often, so I didn’t want to burst her complimentary bubble, and let her know that essentially I have had the same hairstyle since I was about seven, just different iterations of the “pageboy”,which is now called the “bob”, for those of you not in the hairstyle know.  Accepting compliments is not my strong suit, as I struggle to say thank you, as opposed to clarifying that they don’t really know what they are talking about. I am working on it.  I work hard at not saying that the outfit is not new, the hairstyle is not new, and the glasses are new, but a couple of months old.  Some days, I am just fighting with the nice words coming my way.

Being together with my FHB for many years now, I don’t expect  compliments.  I know that if I am having a moment, and ask how something looks, it will be “fine”.  I don’t like too many compliments and he doesn’t dish them out gratuitously, so it is a good system.  However, I made mention that the woman on the elevator, who he probably doesn’t remember, liked my hair.  We were standing in front of our respective sinks getting ready for bed, at the time.  He turned to me and said “Did you get it cut or something?”.  I said no, and he said “Then why did she say that?”.  I felt the need to bait and fish.  I said “Because she was paying me a compliment!” He looked at me, quizzically and said “Why?’  I looked at him looking at me with a real look of concern, couched in blankness, and I said “People just do that, to be nice….”  He said he didn’t get it.  I didn’t disagree.  I proceeded to let him know that on Friday (today) I would be getting my nails done, and on Saturday, I would be getting my hair cut and that next Thursday I would be getting a facial (last one seven years ago).  He looked panicked.  It was like check, I was going in for the checkmate. He didn’t have a move.  I said, “so your line on Friday is …”What color are your nails?”  Redundant, but a conversation filler.  I then said, on Saturday, your line is ” Hair looks nice…or something to that effect”.  To wrap it up, I mentioned that next Thursday he might want to ask if my face felt good post facial.  I like it when he looks stymied.  He walked out of the room mumbling.  All this self care stuff is a lot of work.  The best part, after looking at my nails, hair and soft smooth face, is looking at his face looking back at me, shaking his head.  We both laugh because we know, we found the funny. Often that is the connection that safely helps us navigate through a tough week.

 

Trash Talk

 

Migration….movement from one part of something to another.  There is a loft culture that is going through its own migration.  We are living in our space for almost five years and when we first moved in there appeared to be quite a few rules, the least of which was that you couldn’t have a doormat.  I take comfort in some rules and imagine that they are rooted in some sense of order. I like order.  We never had a doormat. Still don’t.  The doormat rule has been broken.  Initially I felt incensed. Then I got a grip and realized I could not be in charge of keeping the rules.  I felt relief.  I still didn’t get a doormat.  The doormat broken rule was followed by the no wreath broken rule. I waffled.  This year there have been a few new things that people are doing to show their independent thinking.  Doormats begot wreaths which begot Halloween decorations.  I caved.  I actually bought some stickers and afixed them to the door. They will be removed on November 1st since that is my rule.

There is a common area near our mailboxes.  We have been here long enough to be able to say “I remember when we first moved in and NO ONE was allowed to put up signs without permission of the management”.  Now there are a lot of signs.  Things for sale, events to attend, dog walking availabilities and personalized caricature art is for sale.  The times they are a changing.  A few years ago, folks would put out things they no longer wanted on the table near the mailboxes.  It was convenient and everything was up for grabs.  It was like an indoor yard sale but the items were all free.  The amount of stuff grew to include books, glassware, Christmas decorations, food and then clothing.  At first it seemed rather strange to me and then I embraced it.  I didn’t remember any rules that dictated whether this was okay or not okay.  I thought to myself, this is okay. This is community.  I joined in.  It was the ultimate in recycling and the very interesting phenomena was that if you put something out on the table which is on floor two, and went upstairs and came back in a few minutes, it was gone.  Oddly enough, despite having 250 apartments, you can go days without seeing another soul.  The halls look like “The Shining”.

The newest iteration is now the yard sale has migrated to the areas next to the elevators on each floor. It is like a little “one man’s junk” sale steps away from the apartments.  Last week there were several items of interest.  It was about 6:50 in the morning and I was heading to work and there was an old trunk, next to a basketful of shoes and a cat scratching tower, several books,  and some pieces of art(?).  I didn’t have time to take a good look at the trunk.  I  rode the elevator to the garage, got in the car.  and called my FHB immediately. I gave him an alert to go down the hall and secure the trunk. My thought was even if we don’t need it, we could figure out something clever to do with it.  Caveat…there is NOTHING that we need.  He called me back.  It was gone.  This was like a mystery, never to be solved.  I was actually sad for a moment. It passed.  It took a few days for the rest of the items to find new homes.  I am often tempted to take the stairs and peruse what’s available on the fifth floor or maybe on the third floor.  I had a Nancy Drew moment and surmised that at the end of the month, people move and discard their belongings. I may put this in my phone’s calendar.  I know what you are thinking…I need a life.

 

Happy Halloween.  May the treats be bountiful and the tricks few.

What’s in your fridge?

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Her name is Giselle. She is French and she just moved into our loft.  She is very cool.  She replaced an unnamed, nondescript, fairly ordinary appliance.  My FHB is thrilled that Giselle is here.  He, a tall person, could never easily find anything in the old fridge.  I had to be the navigator when he was the explorer.  I would give explicit directions.”It (insert said food product) is on the second shelf on the right, no the other right, probably in the back, in a clear container next to the chinese food container”.  Generally, I was sent into the field to retrieve said food product.  This was a frequent occurance.  As I am not the tall one in our pictures, I never really minded the search missions but apparently he did. Hence,  a brief discussion ensued when I said I wanted to buy a used piano,  and he said he would rather buy a new refrigerator.  If  at this moment, you are trying to follow the logic, you should probably be reading the political news in the New York Times.

The purchase was seamless.  I, pretty much, couldn’t care less.  That left the decision, in total to my FHB.  I cannot get passionate about appliances as long as they are functional.  Looks don’t matter as long as you know what you’re supposed to do, don’t draw too much attention to yourself and please don’t have that incessant, uber annoying beep when the door is open for about 30 seconds.  That, unfortunately, was one of the “features” which luckily a quick Google search for turning off the beep, solved.

The next step was, prior to the delivery, to transfer the contents into several Trader Joe bags, some borrowed coolers and anything that really didn’t require refrigeration but I thought should be refrigerated,put on the counter.  Remember that I am the person, who acquiesed about a piano versus a refrigerator.  The transfer occurred when I was at work.  The transfer back into Giselle’s French Door sculptured arms was left to me upon my return.  I made some amazing discoveries.  Apparently I had been stockpiling mustards which had taken on vintage qualities.  Several condiments, including horseradish and tartar sauce had died in 2016, as that was the expiration date.  They were not the only ones.  I think I found something that might have been garlic or an onion at one time.  It was unclear by its remains.  Is owning  more than six  jams considered excessive?  Does cheese go bad or does it just age?  Is anyone really going to drink that half an ounce of white wine or should I just cook with it?  Why didn’t I use the almond milk in the back corner, first?

My mother used to sit in front of the refrigerator before she left on a vacation.  No worries, the door was open and the trash pail was next to her.  She would use this time to sort through mystery foods and trash them.  She would wipe down the shelves and find pieces of errant chocolate and declare them a treat.  I generally would decline her offer to have some.  Once, someone was visiting while she was doing her thing, and came and mentioned “your mother is sitting in front of the refrigerator!” I asked if the door was open or closed.  When they said opened, I just explained that was her pre-flight ritual.

I consider myself to be an aware human being.  I often, when at the grocery store, believe that I remember that I need something.  Therefore I buy it.  When I get home I put it in the refrigerator, often discovering its sister product has already been living with us.  So there is a reunion and I never break up the family.  In fact, sometimes I add to them.  Practical, not really, odd, most definitely.  If I had  gotten a piano, this would never have happened.  My FHB  and I could have sung in harmony, but no, he wanted a new fridge.  Guess I should be grateful I am not on the replacement list.