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TEXAS SURPRISE

I was in the window seat, first row behind the bulkhead on Texas-bound Southwest last weekend when the darling(!) flight attendant grabbed the carry-on at my feet.

“I must stow this overhead until we reach 10,000 feet. Then I get it for you.”

I was begging, arms outstretched, but he is fast. “But my Kindle is in there.”

“You’ll have it back in a few minutes.”

A few minutes turned into an hour and a half. There was no let up in turbulence. No drinks nor snacks nor bathroom trips—nor Kindle. The elderly man in the middle seat and his wife next to him would be my only source of entertainment while we gyrated through the spin cycle. Her only comment before she leaned back and handed him over was, “He’s a talker.” She forgot to say, “and spitter.” He was very nice, and happy to share with me his every ailment and every ailment of friends and family.

Finally my Kindle was delivered to me, along with juice and peanuts and crackers. During the final strap down for landing I grew more interested in the couple to our right talking to the attendants. They were adventurers heading to Big Bend Park for a week. He used to sing, he said, all over Europe, mostly Italy, mostly opera. And then he began to sing in his beautiful baritone. I gasped and said to no one in particular, wish he had done that the whole trip. Wife of spitter leaned forward and said, “ME, TOO!”

This was my first flight after turning seventy-five and I enjoyed getting to leave my jacket and shoes on at the TSA screening. I had learned from the website that they make the determination about your age visually, so it was a bit disconcerting that no one questioned me. However, in San Antonio, the first agent asked for my driver’s license and another stopped me after the naked scan and pointed to my shoes. I told him my age, and he checked where the first agent had stamped my boarding pass, and said, “And I was going to ask you out.” I suggest they place at least one Latino man at every screening station. They know how to make you feel good.

The following day forty or fifty close friends and family gathered in a private room to surprise my adorable niece on her fiftieth birthday. The restaurant in New Braunfels is a converted post office filled with charm. Brenda said later she was surprised, but thought something was up. When I stepped from behind the person in front of her and her blue eyes grew wide and mouth stopped working, I knew her daughter had pulled off one surprise.

My sister and I were escorted to the party by her first and second ex-husband. He claims he was drunk the second time and thought she was another woman. That’s the kind of family I come from.

Once the cat was out of the bag, Brenda and I could spend time together—and we did—along with four of her grandbabies, my sister, niece, nephews. . . you get the picture.

At my sister’s I had tamales for breakfast—eight of them, and I’m not sorry. Then there was my nephew Anthony’s amazing venison jerky. Who knew I liked jerky? Good wine. Oh, and even Strawberry Boones Farm Brenda and her high school friend brought “for old time’s sake.” Let me tell you, it still tastes good.

Once I made it back to my home Tuesday I had one hour to shower, dress and get to the monthly writers meeting, and made it. I got home a little more than twelve hours after leaving Texas that morning, but it was all worth it.  

STUCK IN LOVE

“Oh no! I’d never spend a few years writing a novel,” Josh Boone said.
He was doing a Q&A at a screening for his soon to be released movie, “Stuck in Love.” Some of the invited writers gasped. Did he just say that? So screenwriting is easier for him than a novel? Interesting.
That was only one of the gems we picked up from the experience. Fern Goodman, Larry Leech and I were glad we made the effort after receiving an invitation though Florida Writers Association. Craig Evans, publicist, thought writers would enjoy the film because “Stuck in Love” is about a family of writers. Greg Kinear is the award winning novelist, and his son and daughter both write. The daughter’s boyfriend even writes. Quotes from well known authors are peppered throughout the movie, including one by a favorite of mine, Flannery O’Connor. The son’s (Nat Wolff) fascination with Stephen King is a feeling most of us share about at least one particular writer. There was so much to identify with whether you are a writer or reader.
Yes, the movie is about young love, but not exclusively. Somehow they made a movie all ages can relate to.
Josh Boone and Nat Wolff were charming at the Q&A. Josh even gave us a peek into himself with confessions about why he wrote certain scenes and created the ending he did. They were warm and funny. If we get a chance to attend another screening we certainly will. Movies have to start with a script, and there is so much to learn from a creative mind like Josh Boone’s. Writers, next time you receive an invitation like this, GO!

MENTAL WORKOUT

It’s the only thing that works for me – visualization. When I really don’t want to go to the gym and even putting on workout clothes to shame myself doesn’t do the trick, I think of the pole vaulter. He stands there with pole held in starting position. He’s all dressed and ready to go, but not yet. First he visualizes himself springing into that first step, then the next and the next and finally he sees himself planting the pole and rising in the air. You see the mental preparation in his eyes as they switch focus. And then he takes off.

 

That’s exactly what I have to do. I see myself getting my yoga bag ready, putting it in the car, backing out of the driveway, pulling into the parking lot, checking in at the desk and entering the darkened yoga studio. I CAN DO THIS! And it usually works. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all that visual preparation burned calories and built muscles? No, for that we have to spring into that first step. 

Now I get it! My real connection to Steve Martin’s first movie, The Jerk.

So this was me today on a short shopping trip with a specific list. Checked first two off at grocery store, one at gas station. Good job. One item to go. On to Petco where rumor has it they carry safflower seed for wild birds. They did! And that was all I needed. That’s all—“except this catnip toy.”

So there I am an hour later walking through World Market, which happened to be right next door to Petco, saying, “This is all I need, this phony French wall clock — and this pack of brown rice. And that’s all I need. Oh, and this can of stuffed grape leaves, and that’s all I need. Oh, and this tea diffuser. Yes, that’s all I need.”

To my credit I wasn’t wearing a bath robe and shuffling along with my pants at my ankles. Image

RAINY MONDAYS

I rub the sleepy out of my eyes and stop making the bed. It’s wash day! I can skip this chore. After breakfast I turn on my favorite radio talk show to listen to while putting on my face. Ummm, he must not come on this early.

I can’t believe it! I missed both my pills yesterday, morning and evening! Better wash one down right now and how did they get in the wrong slot?

I get a better look at that object by my mailbox when I open the windows. It surely looks like a newspaper, but I don’t get the paper on Monday or Tuesday. Too bad the delivery guy made a mistake. That means I’ll have a slim Monday paper to read on this rainy day.

The drizzle is kind of pleasant, the air a little cool as I retrieve my illicit newspaper. Darn it’s heavy for a Monday. Ummmm I don’t remember getting the fat Sunday paper yesterday. Plop, it goes on the table. Darned if it isn’t Sunday’s edition. That guy must have forgotten and dropped it a day late.

What’s the date on that paper? Twenty-fourth. Let me check the wall calendar.

Uh oh! Sunday? Today is Sunday? Let me turn on CBS. There is that big yellow sun and the Sunday Morning show. You mean I don’t have to wash clothes, gather and take garbage, clean litter? Then I glance in the bedroom. There’s that unmade bed, just as rumpled as my mind.

I am spoiled. For almost thirty-seven years I’ve enjoyed a bucolic view from my large living room window. Behind my solid wood, vine covered fence another home has for that time either been occupied by quiet people or vacant and crumbling. No more. Now it hums with chain saws, thuds with hammers, vibrates with rap music.

Did I mention the Vegas light show? Okay, they aren’t neon and don’t flash, but new ones seem to go up each day, as do out buildings. Another new roof is taking shape today. Soon, there won’t be an inch of lawn in that plot of almost an acre. The trees are long gone.

The first construction was an eight foot solid wood fence for all but a small strip right behind my house. Next a screened pool enclosure. Some time in there the private dirt road leading to the house was paved. The road dead ends at the fence in my side yard.

I gave their landscaper permission to cut the limbs on my trees that hung over the fence. It’s the law, so I get no points here. I did allow him to come in my yard and cut the errant limbs back to the trunk. He kindly offered to pull potato vines and take down a little bamboo. That sounded fine until I see about a fifteen or twenty foot swath of cleared land this side of the fence. But this is bamboo. That won’t last long. I’ve always hated the invasive stuff, but now am happy for a buffer.

I know they got the house for a song, but somebody has money to burn. It needed a new septic tank and water supply for starters.
Who are these people? I don’t know. I see people on the roofs a lot, but don’t know if they are workers or live there. Property records show it owned by an LLC, which owns property all over the U.S. and the Cayman Islands. So no name to call, no way to discuss things unless I climb an eight foot fence or scale the solid electric gate that blocks their drive. This is a compound.

A cop early on stopped them from throwing trash over the fence. Then a couple of weeks ago I called again. I refused to be run out of my house a second time because of a loud party. That day the music was loud enough for to hear over the leaf blower a guy was using on the roof. Guess he never heard of earphones. My house was vibrating so badly with the rap beat my cats hunkered in the hallway as they do for a thunderstorm. Earlier neighbors two blocks away told me they were hearing the music. I don’t think the sound lowered when he finished with the leaf blower. It stopped abruptly, though, about 9:15 p.m. when the cops arrived and I haven’t heard it again, but who knows.

I should be happy they have fixed up the abandoned property, and cleaned up the mosquito breeding pool, but I long for the day I looked over the fence and saw only trees, heard only birds and the rustling of leaves on the trees.

It’s All Good

My day started with the rat a tat tat of roofers at the house behind my fence, about thirty feet from my bedroom. But that’s OK. It was nine o’clock and I really wanted to see that house repaired and lived in for the first time in years. So there was a balance of aggravation and reward. Who knew that would be the cadence of my day?

Breakfast and then off to the grocery store for prescriptions that had to be picked up today, not to mention groceries. I was ahead of my normal schedule. Looking good. Turned the key to the car and NOTHING. I mean nothing! No sound at all. Calm down. This is why I have a battery charger. Except the sound of complete silence was all I got with it attached.

Aha! This is why I have GEICO roadside assistance. An hour later a tow truck arrived. His device, looking a lot like mine, but more industrial started the car right up! I breathed a sigh of relief, but was still concerned about a bigger problem. Mine was a two month old battery. How could it do that to me? It must be defective. The tow truck guy scribbled on his pad, then nosed around my car.

“Did you recently turn on these two lights inside your car?”

“Those? No.”

“When was the last time you drove it?”

“A week ago Friday, eight days ago.”

“You sure you didn’t turn these lights on?”

“Not since I looked for a receipt about a week ago. Oh.”

But again, this was good news. My new battery might not be defective. Only the driver. To be certain I followed instructions and went to Auto Zone and had them check it out. It was charging fine by then. Bless their hearts, they had no idea when they sold me that battery they took me to raise. You see the very first day my son dropped it into his pickup bed onto a crowbar and battery acid poured everywhere. They had to come out in hazmat mode to clean it up—and give me a new battery. Now this. I’m sorry, Auto Zone.

Finally, I’m picking up my meds, which should be free or very cheap because I finally finished my deductible.

“Do I owe anything?” I asked.

“$76.00.

“What? This is what I always pay, but my deductible is behind me!”

The pharmacist was sympathetic and as bummed by insurance companies as I. There was nothing he could do. But my car had made it to the druggist and my heart would not go into overdrive without meds, so in balance, all was good.

I realized it was late afternoon by then and I had forgotten about lunch. That taste of Boars Head at the deli counter wasn’t quite enough. A little cup of pure cider was nice in produce department, but lunch was what I was missing. At the next turn was the demo lady. She was cooking meatball sandwich, soup, and mud pie. She was almost ready to serve.

“I’ll just pick up my wine in the next aisle and be right back. I’m starving, forgot to eat lunch.”

“Wine?” A waitng woman said. “Get me some.”

When I returned our demos were ready. They were generous. The three of us got into a conversation about the first time we had wine. I mentioned Boones Farm at age 30.

“Get outta here,” the other lady said, “Boones Farm was my first as a teenager.”
“Do they sell it in the U.S.?” she asked.

“They did,” I answered, “but I haven’t seen it in years. Where did you buy it?”

”Dominican Republic.”

We really wanted to uncork one of my wines to have with our lunch, but thought better of it.

“Give her an eggnog!” my new best friend told the demo lady.

So now I am swigging eggnog with a three course lunch. Not bad. All we lacked was rum.

“Oops, I forgot to announce the demo is ready,” said the demo lady.

I wondered why the three of us had time to visit.

So missing lunch seemed bad at first, but turned out to be delightful.

The bagger who took my groceries to the car would not leave until she knew the car started. If it didn’t she was prepared to put my cold items in refrigeration until I got on my way. IT STARTED. But had it not, I was covered.

Some might say I had a bad day, but no. No. I had a wonderful day. If all the negatives had not happened I would not have had the positives.

Okay, there’s one negative I haven’t balanced yet. In the mailbox waiting for me was a bill from the Toll Authority for two missed tolls for “someone” driving my car. I check the date. I insisted Jason drive my car to his oncology appointment that day to save his gas. He must have forgotten I don’t have a transponder. So I, who never drives on toll roads or Interstates has a toll violation. Where’s the good in that? It’s only $4.95, and I can pay online. Without going to jail, I assume. It’s all good.

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