When I’m 85

When we are born into this world our diet is very limited. We have milk in some form, either from mom or from a can, for at least the first few months. Slowly but surely our parents add food to our diet that won’t send our relatively new and delicate G.I. systems into overdrive. We begin to eat meat (unless the family is vegan) and pureed vegetables so our system can digest food without stressing our stomachs.

The older we get solid food makes its way onto our plates. Most parents try to make sure we have healthy meals and pray that the introduction of fast food to our diets holds off as long as possible.

By the time we are old enough to visit with friends and have sleepovers, foods like pizza, Happy Meals, Oreo’s, Stouffers Macaroni and Cheese, and milkshakes are introduced into our systems. As teenagers we don’t think about how all this packaged stuff we call “food” will affect our systems until it is probably too late.

Sometimes we develop allergies to things like nuts and strawberries and avocado’s. I remember when I “all-of-the-sudden” could no longer eat avocado. I was working at Paramount Pictures at the time. It was around 1990. Once a week, I went to the commissary to get a turkey and avocado sandwich on wheat to take back to my office. I took one bite of the sandwich and 10 minutes later I was in the little medical office on the lot being shot up with an epi-pen and chewing Benadryl. I had a major allergic reaction to something in the sandwich. I was stunned. A few weeks later I purchased the exact same sandwich and systematically began to put the ingredients into my mouth to see what set my system into allergy-land. Hands down it was the avocado. Begrudgingly, I crossed that fruit off my list and a few years later, Kiwi, raw almonds, mango, and flax seed were in line behind the avocado.

As the decades went by, my gut became unhappy with certain foods I had usually been able to tolerate all my life. Why, all of the sudden, can I not eat trail mix or anything with gluten? As a matter of fact, even gluten-free bagels don’t disintegrate as easily as I thought they would, leaving me drinking glass after glass of water just to push things along. And don’t even get me started on the fact that I can’t eat my beloved French fries without paying for it later. That still doesn’t stop me. Every so often I have to sneak somewhere and order up a batch of French fries. I just have to. The baked ones I am now forced to make just don’t cut it. Nothing tastes as good as an In ‘N Out French Fry!

As I was writhing in pain after eating something I wasn’t supposed to (probably something with sugar), I remembered what my Grandmother Toby once told me. When she reached her 85th birthday, she told me she was going to eat anything she wanted. And she did.

She piled on the cookies and cakes and drank her whiskey sours. She had dessert before or after her dinner and her meals were not always what we would deem healthy by today’s standards. Sometimes she would have apple pie for breakfast and if she felt like eating a glazed donut from the Farmer’s Market, she did.

About a year before she died – at the ripe age of 94 – I took her to Gladstone’s Restaurant in Malibu for dinner. She had not one but three desserts! She watched me raise my eyebrows and said, “You wait ‘meyn kind,’ (That means “My Child” in Yiddish.) When you get to be an old lady like me, you do whatever the *@!** you want.”  Not only was that the first time I saw her eat so many desserts at once, but also the first time I heard her say the “F” word. Ever.

So, when I’m 85 I’m going to do the same thing as my Grandmother Toby.  I’ll have French Toast for breakfast and macaroni and cheese for dinner. I’ll start to drink 7UP again and consume French fries every, single day!

And when my own granddaughter takes me for a drive to see the ocean and then we stop for dinner? I’ll have three desserts. If she makes a comment with her eyebrows, I’ll say to her exactly what my grandmother said to me. “You just wait until you are my age!”

Pecans, a Bear, a Granddaughter, and the Man from Kansas

THROWBACK THURSDAY STORY! ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN “The Mammoth Times,” June, 2015

The tinnitus in my ear finally subsided and I was able knock out just after midnight. My brain was in sleep mode and I had a dream about not having to wake up until the granddaughter came knocking on our bedroom door at about six in the morning, wondering if she could watch the Disney Channel, eat blueberries, and ask me at least 20 times when her new play-dates were going to come over.

When my granddaughter is visiting, my senses are on hyper-alert so when I heard an unfamiliar noise coming from somewhere in the house, I shot up in bed and rushed to her room. She was sound asleep, for the moment. It was then I heard the ruckus above my head. I crept slowly up the stairs and made it to the landing when I heard what sounded like my collection of tea boxes being tossed onto the floor. Then came the unmistakable sound of something munching on aluminum foil.

I flipped on the light above the landing then ran like a bat-out-of-hell back into the bedroom, stating very loudly to my sleeping husband, “There’s a bear in our kitchen!” From a dead sleep he tossed back the covers. His feet landed on the floor with a loud thump. He ran up the stairs and yelling, “Get the *&%$@!* out of here!” over and over again. At that point, he did not realize that the bear had come through the kitchen window I accidentally left open. It was still open so our entire neighborhood heard his very loud attempt at scaring the bear back out into the wilderness. I’m sure those who heard the screaming thought that my husband and I were having a rather nasty fight at two in the morning and that he was kicking me out. That’s what I would have thought if I were them.

It was at this point our granddaughter woke up and started calling for me. No, not calling, crying for me is more like it. I told her to stay in the room and that I’d be back as soon as the bear was out of the kitchen. Big mistake. Never tell a six-year old little girl that a bear had somehow gotten into the house and that her grandfather was in the process of scaring it away.

My husband has dealt with bears in and around the house before, so he did a fine job of scaring the bear back to where it came from. The entire ordeal was my fault. I had roasted some pecans in maple syrup earlier in the evening and they were cooling next to the window I had left open. Bears have an extraordinary sense of smell. Before he (or she) was chased back through the window by the screaming man/husband from Kansas, the bear managed to eat all but a few of the pecans. The granddaughter couldn’t get back to sleep afterwards so I stayed with her, making up funny stories of bears and pecans until she finally closed her eyes again around four in the morning.

The next day I found the torn screen and a few more pecans on the roof of our tenant’s apartment, which was how bear was able to climb through the window. About every other hour for the rest of the day my husband would say, under his breath, “It could have been worse,” or “Now you know why I always close the windows.” The constant reminding of closing the windows was getting a little irritating.

Needless to say, I learned my lesson. I will never roast pecans with the window open and I will never tell a six-year old little girl that a bear broke into the house above her head. I only hope she doesn’t freak when she sees Paddington or Winnie-The-Pooh because only I will be to blame if she has a sudden occurrence of bear-phobia.

 

 

 

Free the Cell – Microplay #8

A HUSBAND and WIFE are relaxing after a hard day in the garden. They are in their living room, sitting on their reclining couch, watching “Jeopardy” on the tube. The WIFE picks up her smart phone and again, tries to solve the FreeCell puzzle that has had her flummoxed.

Husband: How long have you been at that FreeCell game?

Wife: This one? It’s been over an hour now.

Husband: Why don’t you just start over with a new game?

Wife: I don’t like to give up.

Husband: But you’ve been playing that same game for a few days now.

Wife: Is it bothering you that I’m tenacious when it comes to finishing each game?

Husband: No. I just don’t know why you frustrate yourself with that one game when you can just cancel it out and start over with a new game. It’s not a contest or anything.

Wife: You got me hooked on FreeCell in the first place over a year ago. I was just fine with Solitaire and my jigsaw puzzle app.

Husband: I couldn’t do that.

Wife: Do what?

Husband: Keep at it. Be so obsessed with a FreeCell game. I’d give up and start over.

Wife: You play that WordScape game all the time. You’ve finished over five thousand games already. You have three jewels on your tournament crown! You never give up on WordScape.

Husband: It’s a different game.

Wife: How is WordScape different from FreeCell? A game is a game. Either you pursue it to the end or don’t even bother playing. Anyway, like I said. It’s your fault that I’m hooked on FreeCell.

Husband: Different parts of the brain are used for each. One is like a crossword and the other, FreeCell, is the same stack of cards over and over and over. It’s like Solitaire on steroids. I don’t like steroids.

Wife: I’ve used steroids. I’m an asthmatic. Sometimes I need steroids when my lungs are inflamed. Sometimes steroids have a purpose.

THE END

Some Mothers

This is an interesting day. So many different emotions resonate on this day in particular. We all have mothers or we wouldn’t be here. Some of us have been blessed with wonderful mothers, while others will tell you their mother was a challenge. They hope to have a better mother in their next life and never give the woman who was their mother in this life a second thought.

Some women chose not to be mothers, while other women wanted motherhood so badly but for some reason, it never happened. For those women, this day can be especially crippling. For some, being a mother was the best thing that ever happened to them. For others, being a mother was not what they expected. Some mothers have children who have done well, while others have children who have been lost to addiction and mental illness and they haven’t spoken to or seen their children in weeks/months/years.

Some of us have lost our mother’s too soon. Some mother’s have lost their children too soon. Some women have been mothers to many living things including but not limited to other people and various animals.

Some of us judge other mothers for their decisions without looking at our own mistakes while raising our kids. Some men call themselves a “Mama’s Boy,” while other men never knew their mothers.

The one mother we should all be grateful for is Mother Earth. For without her grace, beauty, humility, and abundance, none of us would be here. She has given humans the tools to thrive in a world that humans have slowly destroyed. Of all the mothers we can think of on this day, please give much love to the mother of all mother’s: Gaia. For she is the ancestral mother of all life, the primal Mother Earth goddess. We owe this mother an infinite amount of gratitude. We owe it to this mother to do things differently from now on.

Writing Space

Who would have thought that at 50 years old I would have moved in with my boyfriend, but there I was, trying to claim my own little corner of the house he had purchased with his first wife in 1984. I eventually obtained permission to take over the sunroom which doubled as a playroom for his daughters when they were children. The large windows open to parts of the Inyo National Forest, including a hillside with Jeffrey pine, white pine, lodgepole and mountain hemlock conifers. But it took me a while to gather the courage to ask for my own space in his house.

I was hesitant to ask. Mementos from his life representing his history were everywhere. Nooks and crannies and windowsills and bookshelves held the memories of his life before me. He had been collecting things for decades. Dead, beautiful moths and creepy dried up beetles were on top of shells gathered from his past. The skeleton head of a pelican was on a bookshelf as were various rocks in all shapes and sizes. And nothing had been dusted for years.

The bedrooms on the lower floor belonged to his three girls and were virtually untouched from when they left in 1997 to live with their mother in the Bay Area. Four little ceramic bears lined the windowsill of his girls’ bathroom and it was only a few months after we had been dating that he took down a pink measuring stick attached to a wall in the bathroom, showing how much his girls had grown in between their visits with dad. The house is a tribute to his past. As a new live-in lover and the only other woman to live in his house other than his first wife and daughters, I wanted to honor that past as best I could by not moving things around too much or making some things disappear altogether. At least not at first.

I fell in love with a man who I can honestly say, is the soul-match I knew was out there somewhere. As it turns out, he was right under my nose for over a decade. One night at a party back in the spring of 2008, we both discovered that we enjoyed soaking in one of the many hot tubs dotting the landscape around the Long Valley Caldera. On June 23, 2008 we went to Hilltop hot tub. We went again the next night and the night after that. During our third night together at the tubs, I finally said to him, “Are you going to kiss me or what?”

A year after we first saw each other’s naked bodies while the moonlight cast a white haze over the Sierra Nevada mountain range, I moved in. It had been about 12 years for each of us since we had last lived with another person and it would be safe to say that we were both nervous. We knew we got along. We gave each other space. We love to cook together. We slept well together and we loved to challenge each other’s intellect with trivia by watching daily doses of  “Cash Cab” and “Jeopardy.”  We were and are a perfect match.

When moving in with him was a done deal and I had three weeks to pack up my one-bedroom apartment, I started bringing things over to his house. My first kitchen accouterments to invade his cupboards was the omelet pan. Then came the waffle iron, a few dresses and some of my shoes. Little by little we tested the co-habitation waters and it went as smooth as a mountain lake on a windless, high altitude morning.

About a week or so after moving in with him, I took a few of my photographs and put them on shelves in the living room. I arranged his menagerie of paperback novels so the ones he read already were in a box to be donated to the local thrift store. Rearranging his books made room for the collection of my hard covers like the Diana Gabaldon  “Outlander” series, “Girls Like Us” which is about Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell and Carole King,  books on trivia, my dictionary collection, and various “Harry Potter” hard covers.

After a month I began to yearn for my ‘stuff’ that was still packed away. I wanted to be surrounded by photos of my friends and family. I wanted to find the plastic figurine of Felix the Cat and prominently display him next to my box of OSHO Zen Tarot cards. I wanted to un-box my eclectic collection of books and put them on the four-shelved oak bookcase I bought when I lived in Santa Clarita. I especially wanted the pictures of my boys on the wall as a reminder of how far we’ve come when in the not too distant past I was just a single mom trying to raise two challenging boys on my own.

In other words, I really need my own space.  Not the “space” we refer to when we need a break from someone, but a ‘space’ for me and my “stuff.” A place where I could relax with my laptop and type away while a photo of me with my longtime girlfriends taken at a restaurant in the San Fernando Valley would be displayed prominently next to my nesting dolls.

The sunroom was the place. The windows are south facing and the plants which inhabited the planters on both sides of the room have greenery, but the ones on the west side of the sunroom were dying.

“What a great place for a window seat and all my stuff,” I said to myself one day. The boyfriend had been ever so generous about telling me that “his house was my house.” But still, it was his house and I wasn’t the type of girlfriend who moves in and does a complete makeover.

About six months after I had moved in, I asked if I could convert the sunroom into “my room.” He wholeheartedly agreed and that was that. Another month went by and I mentioned it again. Again, he wholeheartedly agreed. This went on for about three months.

I felt funny about asking him and figured that if he “wholeheartedly agreed,” he would make the first move and start taking out plants. That didn’t happen so one day he had some friends over and as they were sitting out on the deck enjoying the early morning sun while they fixed fishing lines and sipped coffee, I started in on the sunroom. It didn’t take long for my boyfriend to start helping me and by the end of the day, the plants were gone and there was a little window seat in place, just hankering to be surrounded by all my “stuff.”

For months I had pictured myself writing in the sunroom while sitting on my new window seat and it finally happened. One day my stories will be published in a national magazine. I will put a framed copy of the article next to all my “stuff” in the sunroom, in the house of my boyfriend, who became my husband, in September of 2010, and who eventually let me turn one of the extra bedrooms into a real writers office, complete with my stuff everywhere. I still sit in the sunroom to meditate, read, and be grateful that there was a perfect soul out there to go along with my imperfect self.

 

Masked

At the end of a much-needed morning walk, my left hip started to act up. A lot of body parts act up these days. It’s always something. I called my chiropractor and asked if he could see me. He asked me when would be a good time? I told him that five minutes would be a good time. He said, “Come on over!”  So, I did.

I pulled up to the building and before I opened the car door, I put on my cloth mask with the pretty flowers. A quilter friend of mine has been making them like crazy. She gave me one.  Every time I put on my COVID-19 mask, I must brace myself and talk myself down. This is why: Being an asthmatic and having literally spent my entire life being grateful for the air going in and out of my lungs, putting something over my mouth and nose in order to go into an office or store is traumatic. I’m afraid I won’t be able to breathe.

Granted, it would be even more traumatic if I somehow, after being extra hygienically careful these past few months, I contracted the dreaded virus. My lungs have been compromised since I was a toddler and with only one kidney which has its good and bad days, I have to be vigilant.

I’ve tried several masks during these days of disinfecting and mask-wearing. One of the first masks I wore was from the hospital. I needed it to get into the lab for some blood tests. It was paper and blue and had a little wire thingy above the nose so I could shape it to the top of my face. It had two places to tie the thing to my head. With my long and out-of-control hair, several strands tangle in with the mask-ties so that they pulled at my scalp. It hurt to pull those strands loose. Even with my hair in a ponytail, it was an ordeal.

My second mask was made by yours truly. I used the green bandanna I had in my drawer and following a YouTube video, I made the mask. The problem with this bandanna mask is that with all the folds, it really, really works. So much so that I could hardly breathe in while wearing it. It got so bad in the grocery store one day that I had hot flash. My scalp started to sweat, my glasses continually fogged up and my glasses wouldn’t stay in place. I had to leave the store immediately. Not being able to breathe in and out freely is a problem for me.

The mask made by my friend and the others given to me by another friend seem to work better. They aren’t as thick as my well-folded bandanna mask and hopefully they do the trick. Regardless, I still think it’s strange to go into the bank and post office with a mask on my face after being told for decades to take off my sunglasses before entering so the cameras have a full view of my face. Weird times.

Listerine and Mother – MicroPlay #6

The Writer-Daughter was thumbing through the book, “Journey of Souls,” when her phone rang. Looking down, she saw her mother’s number light up the screen. Deciding against letting it go to voicemail, she slid the tab over to the right and put her phone on speaker.

Daughter: Hey mom! What’s up?

Mother:  If you find me dead it won’t be because of the corona virus.

Daughter: What happened?

Mother: I accidentally swallowed about half a cup full of Listerine. I’m so mad at myself.

Daughter: Why did you do that?

Mother: I was distracted, listening to the news in the other room.

Daughter: How much did you swallow?

Mother: You know the cap that comes on Listerine? About that much.

Daughter: I don’t think that’s half a cup. Then what did you do?

Mother: I spit it out the rest and drank a whole glass of water and then some Coke to wash it down. If they don’t know what killed me tell them it was Listerine.

Daughter: Do you have the bottle with you?

Mother: It’s in the bathroom.

Daughter: Go get it and tell me how much alcohol is in it.

Mother: Do you want to know the active or non-active ingredients?

Daughter: The active ingredients.

Mother: Eucalyptol, Menthol Salicylate and Thymol are all active. Inactive is water, alcohol 21 percent, zorbital, saccharin, sodium bensoit and yellow dye #10 and green dye #3.

Daughter: There is a 24-hour poison hotline you can call. I’ll look it up for you.

Mother: Thank you. I’m so mad at myself. Am I going to die from Listerine?

Daughter: Here’s the number: 800-222-1222. Call them and then call me back.

Mother: I never thought Listerine would kill me.

Daughter: Call me back. Listerine isn’t going to kill you. I’m sure you aren’t the only one who has ingested Listerine by accident.

(Ten minutes goes by and the phone rings again)

Mother: He was very nice. I’m not going to die. He says that if swallow it regularly I’ll get cirrhosis of the liver. But it was an accident. He said I might get an upset stomach. He said I can take a Zantac.

Daughter: That’s a relief but isn’t there a lawsuit against Zantac now?

Mother: One pill a week isn’t going to kill me.

THE END