Category Archives: every day life

Advice from an old lady

Before I get to the more general advice, let me dispense some cautionary advice relative to COVID. I’ve been reading one horror story after another about hospitals being overrun and depending on whom you believe, a health care system on the verge of collapse or already fully collapsed.

In that vein: stay off of ladders; keep your knives sharp; exercise care going up and down stairs and getting in and out of the shower; get your groceries delivered — or if not, certainly cut out all non-essential shopping for a month; do not get drunk (according to my brother some huge percent of ER admissions are alcohol-related); save your heart attack for the summer; take all your meds; shovel snow in brief intervals or hire someone else to do it; get grippers for your boots; stay off motorcycles.

In other words, now is not the time to cut yourself or take a bad fall.

Now for some more general old lady advice. I’d love to hear yours!

Roll spine before getting out of bed

In winter, put hemp salve up the nose to keep tissues soft

Open all mail from Social Security promptly

Buy the nicest face products you can afford

Heating pads are a way of life

Sprinkle critical items around the house: charging cords (plugged in); reading glasses; writing instruments (I like Bic Medium points, blue); dental floss

Make every bath a salt bath — regular Epsom salts for the average day, scented Epsom salts for a little treat, and fizzy bath bombs for a bigger treat (I pull my bath bombs out of the water halfway through their fizz to extend use).

Invest in good walking boots and comfy shoes that have a little style to them.

Scarves and earrings can dress up a wardrobe of plain shirts

If your size or stature is hard to fit, when you discover a pair of pants or top that is flattering and comfortable, immediately buy two more in other colors (I wish I had learned this decades ago)

Enjoy food!

To counter this, I don’t eat breakfast, take a statin, and walk every day. Every once in a while I’ll eliminate gluten, dairy, and/or sugar for a while. Sometimes years.

(I haven’t quite worked this one out and have struggled with an extra ten pounds for about four years).

Dogs! Cats! Need I say more?

A heavy bamboo blanket turns a couch into a haven. Upstairs, I now sleep under a weighted blanket as well. It took some trial and error to figure it out, but now that I’ve got it, I can’t imagine sleeping without it!

Stay in touch with friends.

They said eight inches

And we got eight inches.

Friends in writing sessions this week spoke to a person about missing winter and no surprise, for warmer temperatures are both alarming and disorienting. According to a recent study cited by The Boston Globe, “New England is warming significantly faster than global average temperatures, and that rate is expected to accelerate …” Also, Massachusetts is warming faster than the other Northeastern states.

So it’s not just a matter of mood, memory, or habit. Missing the cocooning beauty of snow is the least of it but there is also that.

We headed out in advance of the plows. To protect my socks and new (warm! comfie!) ankle boots, I made impromptu gaitors. They worked!

Next up: a fleece wrap for Finn. I’m going to cut up a cape I made for the boys back in their Hogwarts years, which is to say: their childhood.

Covid Silver Linings, Lasagne and ADD

I’ll start the list of Covid silver linings with two.

One, The first thing I hear every morning is, “I’ll go down and start the coffee.”

Do you now how nice this is?

Husband used to leave the house at 6:15, which meant he was up and out in full dark for portions of the year. I’d be so dead to the world I wouldn’t even hear his NPR-set alarm. I never minded making coffee but it is so nice to rise and shine with it ready to pour. His company is nice too.

Two, Covid has normalized my wardrobe choices. Ha! Most of what I wear has to meet a single criteria — is this outfit as comfortable as pajamas? The rest of the world has caught up to me I guess.

 

This is the time of year when my holiday timing clashes with my husband’s. That’s why I will begin to sneakily remove the smaller ornaments and put them away. Hope he doesn’t notice! Actually, this year he might go for full take-down before New Year’s because we got our tree the day after Thanksgiving. It is dry.

I got a rice cooker for Christmas and we might just have rice every evening from here on out. It comes out perfect every time. I used to have one. Here’s a fun fact you probably don’t know about me: I ate nearly exclusively with chopsticks for about five years.

But what am I saying about rice? I have all the ingredients for lasagne. I really hope it’s as good as the batch I made for my brother the trip before last. They purchased some specialty ricotta which was creamier than what I usually buy, and I think that made the difference. Wish me luck! It’s a lot of work for a meh-meal.

Lastly, I get to congratulate myself (again) for sticking with the Paris Collage Collective’s challenge for the entire year, even with four trips to Los Angeles and one to Boulder. I doubt I’ll do it again in 2022. I am eager to make some collages fueled by more personal images. This week’s image was a hand holding a balloon.

If you don’t have ADD or don’t know anyone with ADD, you probably can’t quite appreciate why this is such a big deal.

A walk in Webster Woods

All the recent rain changed the landscape. Rogue rivulets. Impromptu puddles hoping to become ponds. Glistening leaves. It was slippery enough for me to wish I’d brought poles.

It’s hard to get lost in this patch of woods, but we don’t always know precisely where we are. All the fallen leaves obscuring the paths today didn’t help.

It’s hard to believe this small wooded escarpment lies within a mile and a half of the house. Almost every time we traipse through here, I think about how if our boys were raised in the 60’s, they would have known every inch of this area. It makes me a little sad.

This week we are 33 years together. There are certain patterns of communication. I say Which way and when K doesn’t answer I say Let’s go right and when it turns out we kind of went the wrong way and we got to where perhaps we meant to go K says This is where we would’ve come if I’d said what I wanted to which was to go left.

One of the consequences of making a choice is you might be wrong. But if you don’t assert a choice, do you get to be right?

I can think of worse thing to stumble over.

Since a brilliant variety of mushrooms made our last walk festive, I kept an eye out but there were hardly any. What few I saw were like the Puritan versions of Mardi Gras celebrants. Don’t get me wrong, they were still spectacular, which is not an adjective I’d apply to a Puritan.

The leaf below looked like a bird in flight.

This boy was happy. Finn’s pack instincts came to the fore whenever K and I momentarily diverged (for me to take the low route, for instance — when did I become so cautious?). At these junctures, The dog becomes visibly anxious. I love how it matters to him that we stick together!

Like footprints

Today I will: ** read ten Joy Harjo poems; ** boil up Friday’s chicken carcass for stock and then make mushroom soup (shrooms from the market — not to worry!), ** scoop up wet leaves and walnuts along the curb using a straight-edged shovel. We will

From the woods in Concord
Also Concord
Back to Newton

Mystery Road

A dog walk is a great opportunity to attend to mystery. There is the mystery of nature, of course. Everywhere. The varieties of fungi, the open fresh faces of morning glories, the jewel-like dew hanging off a hosta stalk.

And then there are the other sorts of mystery. For instance, why an apartment building housing between 12 and 18 units never exhibits any signs of life. Never. I walk past it multiple times a week. Study the windows. Examine the balconies. It is sooo dead. There used to be a marmalade cat on the second floor who’d come out to the edge of the balcony and glare down at Finn. But she’s gone.

Then there’s the mystery of nostalgia. How, even after living in this part of Massachusetts for four times longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, the sight of the silver-toned wire clips on the electrical wires still has the power to remind me of childhood.

Driving from Pittsfield or Schenectady as a family, headed to our beloved rental in Rockport on the North Shore, we always knew we were close when we saw these clips. To our young, excited minds, they were seahorses! (there must be other clips more seahorse-like? Kinda spoils my point here).

Always the wonder of spiders, right?

The wonder of some people’s talent with plants.

But also the wonder of preoccupation. How reading a post about Grace’s encounter with a lizard yesterday informed how I saw a dead leaf today. Against all reason, for a flash, my brain told me that the brown form was a lizard. That counts as a mystery.

Always the wonder of money. How much of the world it drives. And, how do other people make such big piles of it? Here are two such simple examples from this morning’s walk.

This project, above, started with tearing down a respectable, well-constructed two family house. So much effort! So many supplies! I’m guessing the new town homes will go on the market for well north of 1.4 million. (That’s how ONE person makes a pile of money).

And then there’s this new grassy sward on Cypress Street formerly occupied by a house. It appears the neighbor and owner of the RV, bought the lot to create space. In other words, that new driveway cost over $600,000. Woosh!

Lastly, there is the wonder of conditioning. I still don’t consider myself a dog person (written about here), but Finn and I have learned a lot together. When I get to about the car, I drop the leash and say, “Go home!” He dashes to the door and turns expectantly for a treat.

I started this practice after he ran away from a dog walker one time. Finn made his way home over a span of about a half mile. I guess, he already knew how to go home, but I wanted to underscore the command.

Before this area turned into Rabbitville, I’d drop the leash back at the corner of the lot, but those little furry hoppers are too tempting. It’s too risky.

Tomorrow: white versus black slips for the Patron Chicken Saint of Delayed Success and a blue silk heart.