Saturday, May 31, 2008

Texting and kareoke have a lot in common

I know I stashed my cell phone instruction book somewhere I could retrieve it easily. Unfortunately, it's not in any of the spots I thought I might have put it. And since every blinking phone has different blinking features arranged in different blinking ways, a check with more knowledgeable human sources hasn't helped.

I know a lot of you text. I do not and have no intention of hunting and pecking on a cell phone. I do receive those messages, however...and that is the problem.

This afternoon, taking a nice little nap, I was jarred awake when my phone began thundering out this whole tonal phrase. Woke me thoroughly. When I checked, it was some stupid message saying how they bet I didn't know who this is and the texter goes by niceangel 82. If a log of texts is retained on the phone, I can't find it, but I am told there is some way to get the number of the sender from the text, although a number was not displayed on the screen before or after the message. At the time, I simply turned my phone off for awhile after the second message from niceangel82.

I suspect this is the new technology way of making stupid phone calls as Bart Simpson still does when he calls the bar. And no, I don't feel particularly tolerant. I certainly don't feel amused. I do get texts from a few persons who really have to watch their pennies, and that's okay. I can forsee the day when my granddaughters may want to text me.


For now, I simply want to block my phone to text messages. I think I should be able to do that, at least from time to time.

A store clerk was a recent hero in the Metroplex when he surreptitiously texted his boss in the back, "call 911" while under the gun of an armed robber. The boss did so, the police came, and the robber was caught because the guy could text.
That's great. But I have no desire to do it.

A friend of mine is getting text advertisements on her cell phone, which costs her. It certainly doesn't make her an EAGER CUSTOMER.

(Sigh) At least I have stopped getting all those e-mails for Viagra. (And you know, if the drug could perk up a certain part of the aging female's anatomy as it is supposed to do for another part of the male's, they might have a sale.)

Technology. It aint always perfect.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Memories

Back in the 50's,Memorial Day was the day the whole community went to the cemetery to clean up the family plots, pull weeds, and put out fresh flowers from our gardens. Families who didn't see each other very often would visit and catch up on the year in between raking and weed pulling and putting out the flowers.

Perpetual care you pay for hadn't been thought of yet.

Everyone's roses were blooming and we had a Spanish Broom bush which had bright yellow flowers that smelled wonderful. My dad said my older brother, who died when he was three and a half, had loved them, and those went on his grave. It made him more real, somehow. I had been so young, I didn't remember him.

There were some mulberry trees, and the berries would be ripe. We kids would climb the trees and eat the berries. No one told us to stop climbing or eating the berries, but I remember I always felt just a bit wicked and adventurous climbing the cemetery trees. We were there to remember our dead, and there I was, having a good time with the other kids.

I was quite a lot older before I understood that Memorial Day was created to remember and honor our war dead. I think the remembrance of those who sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom is a wonderful thing. I also think the yearly community cleanup to remember all our dead was a good thing. Every family had suffered loss. Back then, there wasn't much medical science could do to save lives. Death was more a part of life. Accepted and respected. Not hidden so much, not such a surprise. The dead were actively remembered.

It's been a long time since I've been to that cemetery. It was my uncle's burial six years ago, and at that time, I noticed the headstone on my brother's grave had been broken at the base and was missing. The plot, in the New Mexico sunshine, was unkempt and untended. I did nothing; I simply settled my uncle's affairs and made the 700-mile trip back home.

Like so many others today, I am opting for cremation, and I am not leaving instructions for the ashes. It is a different time, with changing customs. But we still honor our dead who stepped forward and said, "I don't want to die, but I will put my life on the line for my country."

Honor and sacrifice still has value. And that is good to know.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Aging Brings Some Treasured Gifts

Happiness. Peace. Joy.

These days, each of these emotions appear sometime in most every day. And it is interesting. These emotions are excellent painkillers, or at least make pain less important. I don't know how I got here mentally, exactly. But I am thankful.

I have both rheumatoid and osteo arthritis. The rheumatoid was diagnosed about 12 years ago. I had always been physically active and knew--I knew--that continued exercise was required. But I pouted, sat on my rear, and let muscle tone go as I shook my fist at a God that would allow me to have the one disease I dreaded (well, two--my mother had Alzheimer's.) The rheumatologist prescribed methotrexate. I dubiously took it, found it left me vaguely nauseous all the time, and I quit taking it. Decided I would rather limp. And limp I have. I've had no treatment since.
And as toxic as methotrexate is, even now I don't want to take it.

Correction, I did have some very effective acupuncture, and I am just now flaring up some five or six years after the treatment.

I retired early, and my COBRA ran out more than a year ago. Medicare starts Aug. 1. At that time, I will see a rheumatologist again, and see what options I now have. I have so many doctors to see this fall, I could be accused of Munchausen's syndrome. Humph.

But Feb. 29, I made a move. When I tell people about it, the reactions are interesting. Some are uncomfortable. Others are enthusiastic.

I've moved into a retirement community that includes independent living, assisted living, and a small skilled nursing unit. There are many such facilities in the area, and more to come. The one I've moved into has a high rise apartment building for both independent and assisted living residents, a street of large, luxurious "2-plexes", and a whole bunch of "cottages" which are really one-story apartments built as three to four units per building. It is such a large campus that a number of residents have bought golf carts to get around.

I have a one bedroom apartment with a living room, kitchen, bath and really large bedroom. The ceiling is slanted up to allow three high windows on the north side to let in light, in addition to regular windows and the sliding glass doors. Yes, folks can buy in and then pay a small monthly maintenance fee, but I've chosen to rent. My monthly fee covers all utilities and cable. It's a set fee per month, so if I really want to turn the thermostat down in summer, I can do so without going broke. Ahhh. One of my favorite perqs here is housekeeping coming in every two weeks to sweep the porches, vacuum, mop kitchen and bathroom floors, clean the tub, commode and sink, clean the bathroom and kitchen counters and dust all surfaces. I LOVE this. At last I have a wife. They even came early one day at my request when I was having company.

If I like, I can buy lunch at the ad building dining room, and I have done so at least weekly both because it's a good meal for the price and a great way to meet other residents. People come from all over, usually because they have family in the area, and I've met transplants from Florida, Ohio, Hawaii, and Alaska, to name a few. Most are retired professionals, but by no means all. We have about 40 who are 90 or older. I am the youngest one here. It's kind of mind-blowing to be 64 and frequently run into people who are 20-30 years older.

We have wilderness on two sides, plus an adjacent park with a small lake that draws area fishermen often. Lots of bunnies, squirrels and songbirds. NO grackles. The security head tells me he has seen a red fox and a bobcat on campus at night, and residents of one section of cottages tell me they are often visited by raccoons and possums. The grounds are kept impeccably, but we are free to plant what we want. I have a small back porch, but many have sizable patios.

In short, I am really satisfied. We have speakers--I'm going to talk about one topic that came up when the storyteller came this week--and I've taken the bus once to a concert. Not bad. Ride to the front door, go to the concert, meet the bus at the front door afterwards and ride home. Very nice. Yes, they have bingo sometimes, and I'm not about to play poker with these guys--I suspect card sharps.

Settling in and unpacking has taken much time, not to mention adjusting to the life change and new folks....and I discovered I now have arthritis in my back. The discovery was pretty sudden and painful, and affected my arthritic knee as well; a new knee is somewhere in the next year or two.

But back to happiness, peace, joy. I have indeed had some pretty strong painkillers to deal with the onset of the back problem, but this time I kept right on exercising. And if I can't get nearly as much done physically, I'm not shaking my fist any more. I give thanks for my blessings each day and ask for more blessings tomorrow. And happiness, peace and joy not only muffle pain, but they are great biofeedback tools. I focus on those emotions, not the pain, and it lessens. Plus I have more fun.

So I've moved in with the old folks. I have complete independence and privacy.
And right now, my life has peace, joy and happiness permeating it. Oh, yeah, love is a part of it, too. I am so blessed.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Good Life

I sit on the porch. It's about 9:30 at night, the air cool, with a breeze rustling the brandnew leaves, making a sound like rain falling. In the distance, I can hear dogs barking and a train pushing through. The yellow illumination of street and walk lights is just strong enough to make the scene more than black and white...Crickets are chirping, such a perpetual heartbeat sound as to be almost inaudible at the conscious level.

In front of my porch are two wide, gnarled crabapple trees that have just finished blooming. To their left are two huge fig trees, each about 12 feet tall, just leafed out, and I am waiting for them to flower, if they do so this year. I understand they delivered a bountiful crop of green figs last year, but figs in this part of the world are somewhat unpredictable. They make no promises.

The crabapple trees are each surrounded by a wide band of iris someone planted. The western edge of the iris around the tree on the right did produce some huge, beautiful white iris, because the afternoon sun reached those plants long enough. The rest are rather like...oh, mondo grass on steroids. They make ground cover, and they are pretty, but they have too much shade to ever bloom.

All is silent. Just the crickets when I tune in, which mostly, I don't. So peaceful.

I've been pouring wild birdseed on the ground beyond the trees, which in early spring, the birds enjoyed. Lately, it's the rabbits and squirrels who come. Me, putting out food for rodentia. Who would have thought?

Here they come, my two rabbits that visit every night. One is smaller--I guess a male and a female, particularly since there is some tomfoolery of leaping in the air and jumping over each other, some jockeying for position. They come, not lippety, lippety, but striding first on their forepaws, one-two, then lippety as the back legs come forward, then one-two lippety again. Small steps, leisurely. They are alert but no more afraid than is habitual in rabbits--pretty content, actually. So they come silently, literally silently to my ears, crushing no leaf, breaking no twigs, till they arrive at the grain and begin to eat. Ah, now I hear, a very faint crunching as they eat. And I wonder--do they stick out their little rabbit tongues to get the last pieces of grain in the dirt? No, they do not, leaving some of the round, white seeds in the dirt for some of the sparrows and juncos to eat the next day. They stop every few bites, freeze and listen, noticing me on the porch but not afraid since I make little movement and am at least 15 feet away. Then they lower their heads to eat again.

Suddenly, I see a cat, one of the feral cats I've heard about out here, skirting swiftly around them on the far side near the red leaf photinias. She, too, makes no sound. Chatting with the security man the next day, I learn he was passing when the cat reached the street and he noted it was orange. I am assuming "she", beause a few days later, as I exited my car on the street, I heard the eager mews of kittens in the blackberry thicket. Just what we need--more feral cats. Ah, well.

But the night is peaceful, and almost silent, and I am content and fortunate to be on my porch, sitting in the faint light, enjoying just a little bit of the natural world for awhile. After awhile, I go in, relaxed and mellow.

And life is very good.