By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sun, April 01 2012 - 10:50 am
April 30, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
My partner often says he feels like telling people, "Don't mistake my kindness for weakness."
I feel like saying, "Don't mistake my patience for stupidity."
What do you feel like saying? How do you feel misunderstood?
April 29, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
My life has been centered around moving first my mom, and now us for ten days now.
Don't do what I have done! Don't collect a lot of stuff!
Having said that, we have given away quite a few boxes of possessions and failed to let go of many more.
Don't do what I have done! Avoid resale shops, online shopping sites, catalogs and gifts! They will create more work for you.
But, if you don't mind the extra work, there are several wonderful resale stores in town, and we have given away lots of great stuff to almost all of them.
Not to mention the freebies on the street, some of which, alas, are receiving a good dowsing from an unexpected rain.
Feather dusters, flower pots and book shelves.
That ratty-looking peeling black pot is great for growing basil!
April 27, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
I called Mom's assisted living place today to find out how she is doing since she doesn't have a phone number yet.
She has been there for five days, and already has a friend "around the corner" who picks her up for meals in the cafeteria.
A nurse reports that she seems happy.
We are doggedly pursuing our dream, packing and unpacking, sorting and discarding (to people, not to the landfill when possible.) We are happy, too!
A friend of mine from decades ago described personal relationships that weren't going great as "moldy."
Our household trio was getting moldy, and the hope that my mother will, rather than dying from the stress of leaving her home of 58 years, gain a new lease on life and a jolt of energy, is energizing for us.
I remember people in my past deploring the tendency of some to want "change for the sake of change."
I say when there is too little space and too much damp stagnation - it's time for a change of air!
April 26, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
We were wondering what will happen to Mom if she does not have food around she can eat on the sly.
Here at home there were always leftovers and goodies. In assisted living, in her new home, the only way she is going to get indulgence food is if someone brings it to her, persuades her to eat it, or orders it for her.
Unless she changes. Now that's a tall order for a ninety-three-year-old!
It made us wonder if that is why some people lose weight when they go into care situations. Is failure to thrive due to desire to keep up appearances? "Eating like a bird" may not be possible when you are watched all the time and cannot sneak in the extra sustenance necessary for life.
I know my generation does not understand the older one.
The older folks understand more about us because they reared us and tried to mold us into their own image. At least they know the values they tried to instill in us and how we succeeded or failed in living up to them.
Any younger generation can only have glimpses at what influences pressed upon their parents.
Maybe that is part of what makes suceeding in caring for them so difficult.
That, and the fact that the older individuals are so darn recalcitrant!
April 24, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
Have you ever been obsessive?
Have you ever been possesive?
If you are possesive, do you have a posse?
Do these words have any relation to a sieve?
When you use a sieve, do you think you are separating something, or gathering something?
When you use a sieve, are you straining or draining?
If you are recessive, are you taking a recess?
If you are progressive, you are definitely making progress, but what do you gather together and separate to move forward? Your feet?
If progressions make you more progressive, how come submissions don't make you more submissive?
Pitter patter pitter patter, I hear the sound of silly little April feet! Definitely folly permissive.
April 22, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
Mom is off to live in Nashville near my sister.
Mom seemed in good spirits when she left, but my sister says she got pretty disoriented somewhere along the way. She thought she was going to Ohio, which is where she came of age.
It was odd to have her place empty at the table, and I am very glad it is not because she passed away! (Reminds me of that children's book about the little domestic mice who kept losing family to the cat of the house.) No sorrow called for here.
I'm hoping that Mom will settle down and become comfortable in assisted living, especially since my sister will spend a good deal of time there (when possible) for the first few days. I'll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, back here in Valparaiso we are packing up as assiduously as possible for an exciting new chapter in a different setting. We may be living in a rental, but it will be our place and we won't be staying on sufferance anymore in someone else's space.
April 21, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
If a spinner spins yarns, what does a storyteller do? How come a spinner isn't called a yarner?
Is Webster another name for spider?
April is doing its March thing. Yesterday it was rainy and cold.
April showers bring May flowers, but the flowers have flown and blown.
Oh, there will be more, but some are done.
In a way it was cool that spring was so early, then chilly. Warmer weather would make plants fertile, then fertilized, then fruit-forming.
As it is, many of the blooms seem to be in suspended animation, making this the longest Spring I can remember.
Way to go, April! Now go!
April 18, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
We have driven down to Madison, IN a couple of times over the last few years, and yesterday we decided the best way is Highway 30 to 421 south of Michigan City and all the way to Madison.
On the way we passed through Greensburg, which appears to have a tree growing through its courthouse tower! Literally green.
Another novel sight was a big black-trimmed white house with a miniature replica in back - a playhouse!
We returned today and got to see the courthouse tree again - one day we will stop and go inside. I missed the Victorian playhouse.
After we returned I went on a walk, leaving with a big piece of raw cauliflower in my mouth. I looked to the left, and there was a squirrel carrying a big old walnut in his.
A rare moment of communion with nature. I guess I'm squirrely!
April 16, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
Part of the reason I haven't been able to write much, I think, is that too much time is being spent in transition.
Tomorrow we are going to Madison, IN to see our new digs. As long as we are driving there anyway, of course, we might as well take some stuff, so we have started packing.
My mom will be starting her new life in Nashville, TN either the 21st or the 30th. Today I spent an hour or so trying to clean up her beloved old chair. I'm wondering if I should label sheets and stuff. I feel kind of like a parent sending her child off to camp.
People are saying encouraging things about her being able to handle assisted living. I know my sister will stay with her much of the first few days, making sure she gets to know the ropes.
This will help a lot. Many people, after resisting the move to assisted living and/or nursing homes, end up liking their new lives. We have to hope for the best. The idea of the more traditional diet my mother can look forward to is helping motivate her to be happy with the move, I can tell!
People to talk to, things to do, plans to make - no wonder I don't have mental space for ruminations!
One illuminating thing, though, is how happy we are to be starting a new life! We can wave hello to the birds as they fly in the opposite direction.
April 14, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
I have a problem. I don't want to write.
Did I get squelched by Friday the 13th of the cruelest month of the year?
Not at all. Here I am, perfectly sound except in desire.
Is the drudgery of sorting, shredding and reorganizing papers getting to me?
Maybe. I certainly did not write much when I was clerking and donkeying 45 hours per week!
I would say April was being cruel, dowsing my creativity while it dampens the outdoors, but I can't say that.
Every day of April gets us closer to a new life!
A couple months ago I told Mom we were going to leave, and she said, "I get the feeling that you would like to move every few months!"
I responded, "Mom, it has been seven and one-half years!" And I've been here before, I might have added. I've spent a third of my life in Valparaiso.
She's right, though. A change of scene every few months or at least every couple of years sounds nice.
We'll have to travel lighter, though, or my writing will suffer.
We've given away six boxes of books and ornamental objects in the last four days, though, proving that we aren't hoarders.
Now I just have to prove that I can yet come up with an idea not stillborn.
April 12, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
Chores related to our coming sea-changes (and I'm not referring to global warming) seem to be crashing upon our heads thicker and faster.
My mom's doctor, asked to fill out forms necessary for her admission to assisted living within the next day, responded to the request by saying it was impossible. "I'm a busy man." He gave us a timeline more like, say, next week.
It reminded me of a when I was a young mother. I had so many chores and involvements that I gave up trying to control my life and just concentrated on keeping my head above the water.
One of the best things anyone ever taught me was how to tread water, because that gave me the image I needed when I was in life just for survival.
Seeing the doctor in that kind of mode (although probably intensified with regards to level of responsibility and chores) was a view backward.
When I was mother to toddlers, seeing them crawl around looking under sofas reminded me of doing the same thing when I was a toddler.
Today I was reminded of a sensation no younger than that one - the inundating busyness of middle age.
A shaking experience!
April 10, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
How long does it take to feel comfortable in a community?
I have been in Valparaiso for over seven years this time around, and have come to feel at home here. I pretty much only had to work at home, but at Valparaiso Oldtime Dance, the book sale room at the library, and the library's book and movie clubs I have met people I really hate to leave.
After twenty-five years in Santa Fe I felt that it was home. I had friends and a couple of jobs were actually offered to me, instead of my having to seek them.
With any luck I will be able to find something to do wherever I go, even if only as a volunteer. People who have moved around often have something to offer that might not have been available before their arrival.
Madison, Indiana will be a new environment for us. River life is new to me and I am looking forward to hearing foghorns instead of railroad trains. The higher hills north of town will give us a little more aerobic challenge when we go on walks.
Hopefully, however, we will also be able to contribute to our new community.
I don't know how long it takes to feel part of a new town, but we already felt comfortable just visiting Madison.
April 9, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
Serendipity has let 'er rip! Everything in our life changes is coming together weeks earlier than expected.
Except for our possessions. Careless and/or temporary storage has broken a good percentage of it. Although we mourn some of it, we are glad to have less in toto.
We've put stuff out on the street in the hopes that someone who makes mosaics out of broken pottery or vases out of containers without lids will snatch it up.
My sister maintains that people who can't let go are paralyzed by guilt.
That white teapot out by the street would support her statement.
I "borrowed" it from my mom over four decades ago and broke it a couple of years later. Always intending to repair it, I have carried it through literally nine moves, unused. Now, at the same time as I am letting go of my mom (to the extent of releasing her to my older sister, who has set up an assisted living arrangement a half-hour from her own home) I am finally getting rid of that old broken teapot.
It is a testament to the affluence of this community that so far no one has picked up any of my pieces. That almost whole Chinese teapot would make a great table piece for a doll. Those big mugs with no handles are perfectly adequate for holding pens and pencils.
Come to think of it, flowers would look very pretty in that white teapot. If it's still there in the morning, maybe I'll keep it!
But without the guilt, thankyou.
April 7, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
I just read a depressing snippet of information that the English language is losing words faster than it is creating them.
Now that really brings me down. Sure, I read new words in old novels all the time, but I always hoped that some real live people used them - that they aren't gone forever. Ghostwords.
Last night my mother told a little family anecdote that I have probably reported before - but how could I have? It ends with the phrase, "such as it is" except that isn't how it is verbally said. The last word is distinctly 'tis. But it isn't said, "such as 'tis." It is said, "such as i tis. That's a short i.
The reason I don't think I have reported the anecdote before is that I don't know how to write it to give the same effect as the spoken word. Is that a dialect?
How can it be a dialect? One's own people never speak in a dialect.
When Cockneys write these days, do they reverse the extra h's and dropped h's traditionally considered to be standard English?
In China, does anyone really speak a dialect? Isn't rather that Mandarin is one's own language or else the language of snobs?
I know that writers use different phrasing and patterns of speech for people of different regions and economic class, but how do they punctuate the pronunciation without offending anyone?
Or is nobody ever really offended, because, as in satire, we don't often realize it is ourselves that are being portrayed.
"'Tis a puzzlement." See? There really isn't any gutteral i before that 'tis.
How about the April tizzy I am in? Is there anything gutteral about that?
April 5, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
Golly, April folly makes me jolly!
Even serious makes me delirious.
The green gunge of algae on the house has been washed, the windows, too. The man who did it said, "Just like new!"
I didn't have the heart to tell him that when this house was new it had wood with fresh paint that didn't ever algify as far as I can recall, but better and cheaper a wash than a paint job.
Maybe since our house is clean now, we are closer to Godly.
But silliness is a gadfly that won't let me alone.
We have our next residence lined up, if all goes smoothly! Yippie!
My partner feels like one about to be sprung from prison. I too feel a bouncy release from uncertainty.
Madison, Indiana is our hope and intended destination. Meanwhile, we will sort and dream of May fulfillment.
April 4, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
The next time anyone says anything to me about a "necessary war" I think I will - I would say throw up but I'm afraid of grossing you out.
But really, who can claim that war is really necessary?
Inevitable, yes, given human nature so far.
The only time it is really necessary to go to war is when the nation is literally invaded. That hasn't happened very often - to us.
And if some people can be convinced that bargaining and friendly persuasion will achieve more for everybody than war, why not all of us?
Why not, indeed. But don't speak of necessary wars. Only greed and arrogance and insolence and insanity and general human nastiness make wars inevitable.
Nothing makes them necessary.
April 3, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
Alas, all you searchers for fun and folly!
There is no light-heartedness here this year.
No, this year I am feeling April's cruelty fully.
No rain, no gain, they don't say, but rain is not the problem here.
The problem is, the self-esteem is lame!
Which is folly, of course, but golly! While it would take a tornado to jar the self-esteem of some, mine is easier to spit out than gum!
Well, feeling folly fully is the way to make rain.
No dancing necessary! The clouds gather, coalesce, wet everything down, and disappear.
And so will this cruel April, like everything else.
Boo-hoo, then yippee! This April is full of folly like everyone else; April thinks it is March!
Well, march, April! If you may.
April 2, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
I finally begin to understand the "blah blah blah" attitude of the younger generations towards their elders advice and admonitions.
Talking to someone the other day about the language of the young on the Internet, I said, "It's a kind of shorthand."
She responded, "Shorthand used to be..." made a gesture as if writing the official shorthand language in the air, and walked away.
Well, no wonder the younger generation doesn't want to listen to the older ones.
The older people don't want to listen to the young!
And who knows what their world is more accurately than the older folks?
The young. They are in it.
And no, I am not April fooling!
April 1, 2012 Valparaiso, IN
Usually I greet April Fool's Day in a spirit of fun and caprice.
This year I am a good deal more sober, feeling a real genuine fool instead of the comic kind.
And, no, I am not going into more detail on that subject, except to say maybe it is merely the rainy weather that has glommed onto my spirits and made this day seem dismal and ripe with cabin fever (ha, ha, that sounds smelly!) instead of my usual perky sunny greeting of the fool's month.
There! I feel better already!
Was it my self-talk or is it because the clouds are actually lifting a little? I can actually see the kind of sun that can create shadows!
Let me don my fool's cap and go out into the Spring world!
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