Angie of the Peonies

About 5 years ago our neighbor lady died. I knew her my whole life and my mother knew her, her whole life too. They attended school together. They started out in the same neighborhood and as life would have it, they ended up on farms that were close again.

For some reason I never called her by her proper name and always called her Angie, although many others knew her by, Ange. She was kind and good and worked right along side her husband out in the field and the barn. She also cooked all the meals, washed all the clothes, picked all the apples, tended the entire garden and had the most beautiful peonies that I ever saw.

Her husband, daughter and Angie were at all my birthdays that I celebrated and remember when I lived at “home”. They always gave me birthday presents like a faux turquoise necklaces set, those fun draw on etchers where you draw then lift the plastic and the drawing goes away, potholder looms and knitted mittens that Angie’s mom made. I loved them all and was lucky to have them. They had so many barn cats which were all the most tame I had ever seen. I never left there without being offered a kitty.

They had the best fudge that they kept in the freezer at Christmastime with root beer ice cream popsicles from the Schwan’s man in July. There were cold Bireley’s in the fridge for extra special events. They had this amazing double sitting swing in the yard. It was red and we would swing with so much force yet I didn’t worry about falling out. Although I remember being told to hang on. If it was too hot to work they had a croquet set in the front yard where I learned the new word of wicket. I remember thinking how special we were to play with these beautifully painted balls brightly colored with stakes that matched in a holder for them all. Then I looked up at the windows of the second story.

When they first moved there they lived in the upstairs apartment. When I was around, they only used it as storage as they had long ago bought the entire property and moved downstairs. When they were doing a thorough cleaning, when I was not even born yet, this daughter that treated me so well as her much younger friend, left her many baby dolls out in the sun and their faces melted. They kept many of these poor dollies upstairs in that former apartment as if there was a doll hospital for doll babies. I only saw their semi melty faces once staring at me and me staring back at them with pity as no one was playing with them anymore. I could very well understand why they were not destroyed, because after all they were the first toys we learned to care for and love. What I couldn’t understand was why they were not still loved. I understand now as that time for baby dolls was over for the daughter and I was still young enough to be in that stage. It takes a long time to part with a loved baby if one every does…even if your face melts. The morale of that story for me was not lost on me and I NEVER left my babies out in the hot sun or in the car…until I was too old for baby dolls and stored in them boxes in a cupboard near the ceiling in our unairconditioned house where their faces turned odd colors and their skin got a little harder. Sometimes you don’t know a thing until you know.

There was an apple orchard with a little tree platform built into one of the apple trees so you could sit there, eat apples and pitch cores way out beyond the fence for the horse, Dusty, to get later. There were little boards nailed into the trunk of the low tree for foot and hand holds to get you up to the wooden platform in the middle of the tree. You could think up there. It was still warm, but it was in a tree so it was special and secluded. The bees buzzed below as the windfalls started to ferment and drew the buzzing insects to fragrantly sweet juice. This gave a good view of the side road, the pasture, the tiny creek, and the vegetable garden.

Angie’s huge vegetable garden had a stone path down one side popping up here and there just enough to make a way around one side. This garden was flanked by the most luscious of all flowers, the peonies. They start out at tight balls of white, or pink or burgundy with leaves that are the perfect accompaniment to this beauty of the early summer garden. Then when the iris have had a head start they burst out with sometimes shaggy , sometimes sculpted mops of soft perfectly formed splendor. The perfume is like no other.

When I was that little girl in Angie’s garden I was amazed at how many and how beautiful they were. For some reason my mother did not grow these so they were a yearly wonder. I imagine that at one time I was only a foot taller than the bushes themselves where my little nose was nearly on the same plane as the velvety petals. Later as each year I grew and came over to take in this lovely sight, I would bend over to bury my face into the scents.

I would have ridden my bike there to ride around the block with that sweet daughter of theirs. I had a basket on that bike and Angie would cut a huge bouquet of these beauties and fill my basket and say, “Janie, take these home to your ma.” I gladly did and waved goodbye for the two mile bike ride home. The ants would have fallen out by the time I pumped up O’Reilly’s hill and the momentum alone blew the sweet scent into my face all the way home.

I went to see Angie’s daughter last evening and enjoyed her lovely peonies blooming around her house built on that same farm in an adjoining yard of that garden. I recounted that memory to her and we smiled to think of it. We waved good bye, this time from my car window. I came home to my own peonie bushes and tomorrow I will be once again taking a bouquet to my “ma”.

Sue, Christine and Cheryl

There was a theme brewing at the store today. At first it all gelled together around swimsuits, boobs and age. This pair of women came into the store and were trying on clothes for a family trip to the Carolina Coast. The red head said to me, “This suit shows too much of my boobs and is cut too far down in the back, but I can’t find one that is just right. I cannot even believe that we are taking a family vacation to the Carolinas and spending 4 days at the beach with the grandchildren and I have to be in a swimsuit. I have no business being 80 and wearing a swimsuit.” She seemed safe to reply to and I told her that her grandchildren won’t care about what she had on as long as she was having fun with them and making memories. Suit-schoomdt. It is like that saying I read recently that said. Do you have a beach? Do you have a body? Then you have a beach body.

I get it. Who doesn’t want to be cute? When do we take a day off of figuring out if we look terrible in a swimsuit? Since there might not be an actual whole day, there will be moments when we can just be and not worry about our appearance. It is exhausting, but it is possible.

The red head held up the questionable suit to her friend. The friend thought that she could sew closed that open weave part that ran between the breasts to the mid abdomen. I agreed and said it was a good suit for making memories in as long as she was comfortable in it then she was good to go. She threw it in her cart, while I continued to convince her that she will have a wonderful time. She looked at me and said something really nice to me and I felt like crying.

Then while they were still there another person from the retired set (I am not far from there) came up wanting to try on this BEAUTIFUL evening dress. We were all commenting on its amazing color and details. One of the pair said that it would look great with her hair. The hair color of this person was white. It was a healthy looking white and styled nicely. She shook and ruffled her hair and said it was a time to get a cut because if she does that after a cut it will just settle back into the right position and it just didn’t go back as planned. I thought it did, but then I have low expectations for hair.

That led one of the other ladies with white hair to say that she didn’t dye hers as it was just too damaging and at this point she didn’t care what color it was. The other one said, “I’m not giving up mine, girls. Red it is and red it will be.” The woman with the dress said that she had cancer when she was 41 and if she tries to dye it now it comes out blotchy so she is resigned to white. Then they asked her if she was well now and found out that she was.

Chattering ensued as the dress lady went to the fitting rooms to try on the dress and came out to see if I would zip her up. Before I could help the red-head went to do the honors. She was flipping her glasses up and down from face to head trying to see what sequin was causing trouble in the zipper department. We all laughed regarding our need for eye help. The dress lady said that she was a tailor and after two eye surgeries things were much harder. Zip. Done and gorgeous.

The dress was the perfect length and fit just right. The dress lady took a turn in front of the mirror and agreed with us without conceit. She said that she hoped it was a dress that would not outshine the bride. The red head said that the color would not be a problem and the dress lady said the bride would not be wearing a white dress and seemed a tad concerned because this dress was almost tooooo great. I felt a relief from all when I said that, “No one outshines the bride so don’t worry about it.” She went back into the room with these other two. You could hear them talking and pretty soon came out discussing how they would be meeting in a few minutes at the neighboring restaurant.

The other two moved on and the dress lady came up to me and told me that this dress, time and place were a blessing. She told me that in those few moments they had discovered that they were neighbors, that they all recently had someone die by suicide in their immediate family, they all have eye trouble, they all had recent deaths of husbands and were going to lunch to get to know each other. She blessed me with something she told me and hurried off to buy the dress and to make new friends.

The Hood

Some of my college friends live in Florida and one of them posted a picture of something that happened in his hood last night. The incident itself was not a good one at all, but him using the hood reference in his post was also meant to lighten the mood of the situation and tell where it was.

I live in the same hood that I was raised in, but over two miles from my childhood farm. I live on the edge of what I would consider my hood. Two miles by us is nothing and we knew all the “neighbors”. Those would be considered folks to be ones that were within five miles.

I drove over to drop off some rhubarb to my high school friend. She is a recent addition to the hood as she moved in within the last two decades. I took one way there and another one back home to see how things are this season. My work route bypasses most of my hood and I don’t get to see much of it on a monthly basis.

Today it is lush and green, grown up in places, built up in other places. I think there are 80% more houses on our back roads than were when we moved here. The old neighbors are passing or have passed and Rick and I are now the older ones in the hood. The farms have changed ownership for the most part and some have new builds scattered over the once arable land.

When I go passed the farms I knew as a girl they still tell me their names. Longworth, Williams, Peck, Crowley, Reinert, Kratz, Kratz, Tritt, Tritt, Nachtrab, Tritt, Giddings, Schonscheck, turn around, Crowley, Tritt, Spiegelberg, O’Reilly, Coats, Lungwitz, Carpenter/Dusso, King, Ginnow/ Grever, Race. For those of you who read my blog and lived out here you know you followed right along the road with me. There are even some places that have gone away, but I know they were there. If I go the other way there are more; Retzlaff, Silverthorn, Tritt, Schuster, Shea, Winter, Kromm, Sullivan and Costello. The other way there are Crowley, Ginrich, Lee, Brooks, Schonscheck.

Why list names of people you do not know? They are beautiful names of hard working people. Lots of similar names as the families stayed close back in the day and that should be marked as well. If people want they can get an old platbook or comb through the files online of the old neighborhood, but this listing is really for me.

Lots of stories in all those families. Heartache, joy, community, love, animosity, birth, death, marriage, shivarees, weddings, hayrides, slim pickings, abundance, and help. I don’t know most of the people in the hood. We tend to not need each other as neighbors anymore. We are so self sufficient and isolated, unless we reach out. Who knew that delivering rhubarb would actually take me down memory road?

A Picture

My friend posted a picture of when we were young and in college. I had not seen the picture before. After a while when you see pictures of your former because you see them so much you just pass them buy more quickly. Not so with this one.

My friend put it up as a way to honor the birthday of our mutual friend that died at the end of this winter. Nice. It was also a bit surprising because it was new to me yet it was old to me at the same time.

Lots of questions and comments came skittering out in my brain and some thoughts just floated out. I noticed that we have matching shirts. Since I don’t ever buy shirts of any team or crew it was funny to think that once I did that. That shirt was a thick soft material and fit so comfortably. I think it might have said Concordia on the back or maybe not, but I am pretty sure that we bought them at the college store as they are the school colors.

I was surprised to see me in the center of a picture with that group as I rarely felt centered there and more as a tag along. I was fine with that as these people and the rest of the group not pictured were fun and more fun. They all have so much talent that it was amazing. I was happy to just be with them, but who took that picture?

I am still friends with all but one of these people in the picture and am happy about that. I look at one of them now gone to hang with Jesus and her passing woke me up more than the usual seasonal jumps in age. We are not ever too young to die, but yet I feel that. I miss knowing she is in the world. I wouldn’t want her back because she was so sick, but she is missed as it is rightly felt.

Two of the others are kind and good and hang out in my peripheral parts of my life, but have anchors in the core. I never see them, but we keep up on social media, one of them more so now with the death of our friend. One has really been helpful with a spiritual shift I have had in the past 2 years. One’s energy was never something I was comfortable with and I broke that connection off lots of years ago because it was toxic to me. I didn’t feel accepted and more tolerated. I get that this is my perspective and not hers. It is what I have always felt. I stopped that for myself and am glad of it, but this picture just dragged that up again. I am grateful as the picture is pretty glorious.

We are young here. We ate and drank like there was not an end to food or beverage. We were fun and had so much fun. For me it was hard to leave that life when we graduated. Hard to leave those people. It was a total shift for anything I ever had known. 600 miles away from home with only a weekly call back on a pay phone. Didn’t know one single person when I arrive and was in a little family when I graduated. I knew at the time it was a short time and we lived like there was no tomorrow although if you asked any of us at that time we had lists of things that we needed to get accomplished on a daily and semester basis. Racing, racing, racing just to have it bring me to an entire new life. We knew it was coming too, but just like anything in the future, you don’t know until you know.

I look at those faces and all I want to do it hug their necks. I can still see the now me in there somewhere. I see my head tilts the same and I am happy, just like now.

Call Me Scheherazade

I was listening to a writer on a podcast…., I know, I should be reading the works of this writer and have, but my eyes are not as awesome as they once where and since I like background and human interest, I enjoy interviews that are LONGGGGGG, so podcasts are my current jam.

This writer was talking about Schedheranzade. Apparently I have been living under a rock and didn’t know who this was, but I blame my lack of being interested in some fictitious stories, which Schedheranzade is all about.

She is the storyteller of the One Thousand and One Nights. You know, the Middle Eastern collection of tales. I know Aladdin, flying carpets and such, but that is about it. Plus it is hot there so I don’t know much about hot climates as I spend most of my time crying in the frozen tundra between January and April.

When I first heard her name I thought that it wasn’t very Mideasterny and went to find that it was Germanized in 1801. I’m like 75% German so I get that, but am not impressed as I like the Persian way better, but here she is mostly known By the Germanized name. That makes no sense to me, but…

The meaning of her Arabic Middle Persian name comes from a combo of lineage, exalted and noble. Since that explains all of us I am good with that. Plus as I get older I see myself from a hardy line of humans and I am a follower of Jesus as he is my mother/father/sister/brother…looks like I am in the family. This is a fitting name.

I didn’t know her story as others might so I will just give you the short version. Shahryar the King found out his wife was cheating on him. Since now he had trust and anger issues he decided from now on her would marry a virgin every day and then kill her, replenishing his little family with a new victim every day…and repeat. This way the new wife would not have the chance to be unfaithful. This brings in many questions like, “Really?” and “Who is being unfaithful here?”, but these are stories about men that are weird so there is that.

By the time it was Scheherazade’s turn for a spin he had been unfaithful to 1,001 wives. See how I turned that around there? Because Sheherazade was so well read, was a student of so many things and had a memory like Alexa, was witty, polite, super smart and had impeccable manners, and brave she decided to stop the madness and volunteer to be the next in line. Her dad was a high ranking military advisor so he had some pull. Her dad didn’t want her to do it, but she did volunteered for the fresh position of Mrs. Shahryar.

She asked the king if she could tell her a story before he killed her. Who doesn’t like a good story? He agreed. The king lay awake and listened with awe as Scheherazade told her first story. This is high pressure. The night passed by and Scheherazade stopped in the middle. The king asked her to finish, but Scheherazade said there was no time, as dawn was breaking. So, the king spared her life for one day to finish the story the next night. The following night, Scheherazade finished the story and then began a second, more exciting tale, which she again stopped halfway through at dawn. Again, the king spared her life for one more day so she could finish the second story.

The king allowed Scheherazade to live day by day, as he couldn’t wait for the finishing of the previous night’s story. At the end of 1,001 nights, and 1,000 stories, Scheherazade told the king that she had no more stories to tell him. I think that is a lie, but that is just me. During these 1,001 nights, the king had fallen in love with Scheherazade. There is no talk of whether she fell in love with him, but he spared her life and made her his queen. I think that she is a hero as she saved so many lives with her abilities to tell stories.

Then I was thinking that I am not saving anyone’s life by writing stories and telling truths from my perspective, but I am wrong. I started this blog to help myself and if that saves my brain from over heating. The arts can do that for people. Call me Scheherazade.

Interviews in Scottish

I was intrigued by my college friend’s interest in a series on television. Her and her husband, that is also my college friend from back in the day, enjoyed watching it together. I thought perhaps that it was something both the hubs and I could get into since it had some of the things we like. Rick likes violence and action movies and I like costuming and strong female characters with a smart plot. It has beautifully shot scenes in Scotland, a place we will most likely not visit, but want to. I am also a fan of the Scottish accent so there is that. It is based on a popular fictional series that I have not read, because, like most people know, I usually read non-fiction and listen to podcasts.

I like to hear the phrases and idioms used to color that beautiful dialect as the series is partially anchored in the mid 1700’s when Gaelic was as frequently heard as English. I have my phone with me while I watch and look up terms, quick historical facts and locations as it plays on TV.

So, when I had a job interview today I felt that sometimes I was speaking a different language. One often feels like that in new situations no matter how many times a person goes through it. I have a filter now, but still use the theory of Oliver Goldsmith when he said, “Ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies.”

Interviews are all about questions and ways to carefully be truthful without coming right out and telling a lie. Why do you want this job? Why did you leave your last job? Oh, you didn’t? How about the one before that? How about the one before that? By the time you get to be 60 there is a long line of jobs.

There are many of us of my age are not in the companies where we are with the same one for loads of years. Some of them we actually confess to working at and some of them you don’t write down. Will the fact that I know how to drive a bulldozer in 1976-81 be useful to this position? Should I really tell them why I left the last job? “People did that?” they ask. Will the fact that I can quiet a gymnasium full of children be a value to my employer?

How can I get around not throwing all the employers under the bus when not all of it was bad and not all of it was awesome or in some instances, they threw me under the bus? Ask me no questions and I will put a good spin on it, but I am not going to make it all shiny as I don’t have time for that. I will not make it all dull either as I was learning then and that has value. Some of it was horrible, but there was value if I choose to look at it that way.

After the interview I was cooked. Really cooked. I was not in my element of work places and these people spoke English, but not the English in my brain. I had to interpret and then translate though it was my language so they would understand me as well. That made me feel like I was speaking using subtitles and that made me think of the television series I am watching.

There is a wee Scot expression which probably takes a lot of practice for a non Scot to get right. It is “Whits fur ye canna go by ye.” It basically means “What’s for you will not go by you”, as in, “What is meant for you by fate won’t pass you by”. We will see if this job will go by ye. God already has it figured out, although I would would have liked to have known so I wouldn’t have had to cook myself with anxiety. God says, “Haud yer wheesht, Jane.”

A Fawn in the Field

My friend Julie posted a picture of a fawn in the area around their place. It is all curled up trying not to be noticed. It’s little self stands out on the emerald green grass as the little stripes and spots only camouflage its tiny hooves. I suspect that this baby’s mama is watching from wooded cover growing more anxious with each appearance of a two leg taking a look.

I remember when I saw my first little spotted bundle of fawn. My dad came in from haying and told us to get in the truck as there was a fawn in the hay…and hurry before it gets away. He almost mowed it down doing his field work. Knowing it was a little miracle, he was hoping to share that with us too.

Dad’s instructions were clear. No talking, walk slowly on approach and no touching this tiny ball of wonder. It was curled up just as Julie’s fawn was now. The green alfalfa was almost is a swirl around this infant of the Poygan. This baby was so tiny. Big eyes wondering what all these sights and smells were as it wished itself invisible.

My dad said the mother was in the woods north of where we were. He had the most amazing vision even in old age and was always aware of where the deer were. He said the baby was the smallest he had ever seen suspecting that it was a very newly born creature.

We took in the wonder and then backed off at Dad’s whispered command. He saw the doe and knew it was in the best interest of all to let her fulfill her instincts. Instead of getting back in the truck for the ride back down the lane to the house, we walked. It seemed like the only way to sort out that vision in nature by walking in it a little more, reflecting on the moment and storing it away for a day some 53 years later.

Now is the Month of Maying

When I was a middle school and high school frosh I got to go to music camp in the big town of Oshkosh. I know. Anyway, it was a big town for me at the time and I got to stay for a week at the university in the dorms.

The only other two interactions I had there was going swimming at Albee Hall with Gail. I don’t even remember why we did that. I think it might have been a youth group thing, but maybe Gail will remember. We didn’t drive there on our own.

The other event was driving through the campus with my mother. It was the time of the campus riots during the Vietnam War era. The students were picketing and I think there had been some violence. Whenever we drove through the campus to get to downtown Mom would turn down the radio, roll up the windows (each window was manually cranked), have us lock the doors (it was a every door manual lock at that time), sit still and look straight ahead kind of ride. Those students were supposed to be dangerous and wild. This was perhaps another reason we didn’t go shopping in Oshkosh much. If we went it was just to go to the houses of my aunts.

Later and still today I see the students walking around and that whole thing makes me wonder how tippy the planet is.

One year I was a runner up to go to music camp on a scholarship and my parents paid for it, but then the next year I won a scholarship to go. I think it was a lot of money for them to do that and it was GREAT! I hadn’t thought about it for a long time and was reminded of it the other day when a co-worker that is a college student said that her sister is now coming to UWO and staying in the dorms for her first year. I asked her what dorm and she said South Scott Hall. WOW! That was a blast from the past. That is where my friend Karen and I were roommates…it just hit me, but could Laura C. have been there too? WHAT?

I remembered how it was such a big deal and I remembered some of the clothes I wore, the auditions, the songs, the performance, the professors, the classes, the accompanist, the boys, the ability to actually walk on the city streets to go downtown…by ourselves in a pack, hearing Bette Midler on the radio singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” as it was a throwback year of lots of styles including boho and WW2 era things…snoods and such.

I had these wide legged pants with one of those snap crotch skin tight shirts. The shirt was ALLLLL polyester, light blue background with wild flowers on it, hey, it was the 70’s and also a peasant blouse or two that I just got done sewing. I don’t remember the other items except my baby-doll pajamas. Those were some sort of homespun looking material that was the rage I was putting in the hem on the way as my mother drove me to UWO.

I had to audition for a triple trio and didn’t even know what I was doing. I had to have a song to sing for the audition and I think mine was “Yesterday”, by Sir Paul. The trio ended up singing “Now is the Month of Maying”. I was unfamiliar with this classical standard.

I had sectional practices and Art Appreciation lessons. The prof took us around campus pointing out this and that. He introduced me to the Frank Lloyd House by having us walk there and talking about the whole FLW dealio. That name and all those ideas had set seed.

He took us to the Art department and showed us all around and what choices were ours in the future if we were interested. Those teachers were kind and good treating us new potatoes that had just fallen off the wagon some things that have stayed with this spud her whole life.

I was so taken with the ability of the accompanist that I communicated with him within the next year to play at our church as entertainment as he had a bit he did. He was a hit and a nice guy. I don’t remember his name, but he had so many musical skills.

I think of that song from our performance at the end of the week. I didn’t know going in that there would be a performance, I am sure it was on the brochure somewhere. I called my mom mid week to see if she would come to hear the concert. I knew that my dad wouldn’t be interested. At that time mainly mothers filled the seats at school events with a smattering of dads. It wasn’t mean it was just how it was. I called to see if she would come back to see the show and then come again the next day to get me. It was a huge thing for us to go to Oshkosh in the first place as they only went their on occasion and then only into our super local town twice a week, once for groceries, once for church. I remember her hesitating as that would make it 3 times that week to go the 15 miles one way. I still think of it now and wonder why the hesitation. Maybe there wasn’t money for gas. Maybe Dad wouldn’t have approved. Most likely it was something else that I don’t want to consider, but in the end she came. Then she came back the next day to take me home.

The friend I was roommates with lives off social media and email. I don’t have her phone number. I do have her address. She came to one of my parties 6 years ago. I think that was stressful for her, but she came. I wrote her a letter this morning and sent it pony express. Her and her hubs and Rick and I can hopefully catch up and remember all those years ago when “merry lads were playing” and Scott Hall was magic to us who fell off the potato wagon.

Conversations on a Monday

How lucky I am to get to live in a world that there are so many interesting people! I am off of work today and getting some loose ends tied up to begin being back to work. It is too wet to be in the garden so I went off to town.

I started at the best pharmacy ever to pick up the pills that are keeping us alive. I am always grateful to see an especially nice clerk who helps me navigate the medical insurance card in the device. I have seen her let older people than me talk at her about their ailments while they are unaware that the line is building up behind them while she patiently listens and is attentive, but I know she is also aware of the eyes boring down on her from the waiting customers. She remains calm and professional and treats them with kindness, although probably not overly interested in sepsis, cancer, hip replacement talk…or maybe she is. She doesn’t roll her eyes and is patient with the other workers that are not as adept as she is swarming around her asking questions and getting things out of order. She sets them straight in a calm way and carries on.

I wonder about her and it sets me thinking of how she got this way. Did or does she have sick or elderly relatives? Does she have family and friends who have trouble paying the high medical bills and that makes her even more kind to all of us that have chosen that particular pharmacy because they fight to get us our medications at a cost where they can still make a living and everyone gets what they can get for a price not currently available in all pharmacies? Does the owner of the pharmacy have a training program where people are taught how to treat the public even though it is sometimes a terrible thing or is he just good at hiring employees? Did she get molded that way at home with her family? She is not that old, in her late 20’s or early 30’s and I am thinking of my own children and wish to believe they are like that too.

When it is slow there and a line hasn’t formed she asks me questions about what I am doing. Not like, “How is your day?”, but more about what do I do when I am not in the pharmacy. I take it that she has picked up that I was a teacher. She used to think I was a teacher and was surprised when I was in there once during a school day. She has asked me about that. She asked me if I like my healthcare professional and if I would recommend that she go there. Those might seem like that is too personal to ask of a stranger, but it is like she knows me and sees me. Is it because I do that for her? She knows my name from my order, but she does not where a name tag and I don’t know hers, yet it seems like I have known her since she was little. Did I?

She told me where she went this last weekend. It was so nice to be set back when she told me that she went to a garden and tractor show in Illinois. I would have guessed her to be interested in other genres, but that is my flaw. Her boyfriend had purchased vintage tractor magazines and she picked up a great milk crate. They had also gone to Dixon. I had only driven through it years ago on alternate routes to get to college in Nebraska. I know that is where the swimming beach is where former President Reagan was a life guard. Dixon was also his birthplace. She told me about how they had toured the house, how the house was reconstructed as a museum and how that was accomplished. She told me about the origins of the phrase “everything but the kitchen sink” and the word sink as used as a plumbing feature. She even talked about his move to California. She did this all without commenting on politics.

What jarred me the most was my own surprise that a young person was doing anything Reagan as most of the younger people I talk to have little regard for anything Republican. It surprised me that she would be at a tractor show too. How myopic I am! This was not to say that she said one thing about politics or way of life. She was content to just explore.

My own political views have changed over time and through experience. I shock myself at how I view the world now. I think that I had no time to be a thorough thinker of political and religion based topics when I was knee deep in the weeds of motherhood and trying to get it together. I went from rural world to a good college that was only of one world view (not blaming anyone here or the college) and then on to marriage and babies. Maybe people have a little more time now to figure out who they are or what they want to be before they step into a world of diapers and baby snuggles. That was right for me at the time and wouldn’t change it if I could as I would not have what I have now if not for that scenario. No regrets.

It seems like I have been so upset about people pigeon holing all non-urban people that I have joined the pigeon holers… in reverse! I am rural. I was brought up rural. I was brought up with a very one sided view of culture and fought so hard in my head to be more globally minded and have tried to think of how the other parts of the world are that I have sorted the same way. GAHHHH! It is very easy to be a person who sees how the “other” is and then all of a sudden jump that line and then become the “other”. Does anyone get what I am saying here?

When we went drove through an area of all farmland in south-western Wisconsin this past weekend, I noticed ALL the signage that was put out was one-sided in content. Some of the signs were hand painted and very pointed. I told Rick that some of the signs to me seemed mean spirited although I support their right to say it, just wish they would use words without malice. There were only signs of one political persuasion..and I purposefully looked for the other. We discussed why that was and if it was always that way. Then I find myself thinking that a person who goes to a tractor show is one way, and clearly that is ridiculous.

How is that we get so polarized? I don’t think that I am the only one. I don’t think it is even an age thing now that I am at a ripe 60. How can I stay on the track of keeping myself open to hearing all that is before me and really listening without too much bias? I don’t think it is possible to be unbiased in anything, but I do think it is possible to listen to both sides of everything even if it seems contrary to any current thought. Let me be that person who checks herself.

Then I went to the store that sells pool stuff to get my pool filter. Rick had previously been there and had spoken to a young man that I had as a student when I was a sub millions of years ago. He heard Rick’s name and asked if I was related and he remembered me as well as some little fun hand gesture that I taught them to use to focus. I had forgotten that particular thing until he brought it up. How fun is that? He is in his mid 30s now. I went in there today and was pleasantly surprised that he was there to wait on me. After some customers cleared out we had a chance to catch up and I got to hear about his life and his thoughts about work. What a nice man. I had no doubts that he would continue to be a good human. I know his family and he comes from good stock.

Imagine that I had face to face conversations with millennials today when all we hear about is people not being able to hold conversations and then I messaged my friend who is 20+ years older than I am for her pie recipe and she is emailing it to me. Imagine if we all would stop to reconsider how we communicate and appreciate that communication happens and be grateful.

Woah! Not Enough Spoons for That

I was leaving a major retailer today and as I was walking to my car I saw a woman walking toward the store. She saw me and veered towards me at quite a distance which gave me time to ID her. Oh, my. It was a woman that used to be employed at the store where I currently work. There was no way to alter my route and as she approached she called out my name and seemed surprised to see me. I only remember her telling stories of spending her money at lots of trips to the casino even though she didn’t have teeth ( you bet I am being judgy here as I think that you could save up for teeth and not spend that money at the casino) and the time she didn’t know the store was closing and got locked in. So there is that.

I asked how she was and she said, “Didn’t you hear that I had cancer?” I had not heard that and told her that I was sorry to hear it and hope she was better with a good prognosis. She said that she heard that I had cancer and was in really bad shape and not expected to live. I told her that she must have me mixed up with our former manager or another lady that was named Jane that worked there for two minutes that had cancer. She said, “No, it was you! One of the woman managers told me. It was you and you were dieing.” Apparently the managers that she thinks work there don’t know me, yet I know them all. I told her that it was news to me and I was fine.

I asked her again if she was doing ok and she just said, ” I thought someone would tell you I had cancer.” She didn’t tell me about it, though I would have listened, but I don’t know anyone at the store that knows her anymore than an acquaintance as I do, so I am not sure how she thought that, but I guess she needs someone to be concerned for her. I am. I was concerned about her in the world before she told me about her cancer, but not in the same way.

I felt my body turn at an angle indicating that I was done here. That made me feel like I was cruel. I just couldn’t think of something else to say as it seemed that she was requiring it and couldn’t let go of that I didn’t know. I don’t know what her last name, if she has a family, where she lives or is or anything more than what I have written here, but it did feel like she was needy of attention. Being who I am, I feel guilty. I should not as there are many people that I cross paths with each day that I have no other connection with or want to. Not necessarily because they are not worthy of my attention, but because I don’t have enough spoons for that. (Google spoons conversation with blogger and author Jenny Lawson).

Considering all the people I know who have cancer, had cancer, live in fear of their genetic cancer pool, had loved ones die of cancer and have died of cancer….it made me think while I was getting in the car, “I don’t have cancer that I know of though I could have cancer. My friends have or had cancer. My dad had cancer. I could get cancer. I got my check-ups. This is a beautiful day. Today I don’t have cancer and I am grateful. I have two spoons left. I have a serving spoon left for Rick before he leaves to use up all his spoons at work and a baby spoon for Dollie.