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Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

 

 

Should I go or should I stay? Powerful Cat 5 Hurricane Irma was headed for Florida. All of Florida. No small one was this. If I stayed, the fifty year old Laurel oak might fall across the house, crushing my bed first and then the central bathroom where my son Jason and I would hunker down. If I chose go it would be to my son’s gun shop. Sturdy block building with no large trees as far as the eye could see, only acres of field across the street. It had a sturdy, enclosed stairwell and interior rooms under the stairs and was pet friendly. As much as I hated to pack up and leave, the choice was clear.

 

Curfew was Sunday, September 10, 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday. Twenty-three hours. My son said the shop’s power had never gone out in a storm, so we would have small fridge, air conditioning, microwave, lights, TV and room for his Bichon Frise Bolt and my Persian mix Emma to roam. What a set up.

 

Emma immediately found a hiding spot. She would find two more before the ordeal was over, each more difficult to find than the last, each taking a toll on my knees. Bolt was used to hanging out at the shop, so was right at home.

 

We realized one negative to our safe spot going in; thieves frequently braved hurricanes to rob one type business—gun shops. But we had a good security system, electricity to power it, with battery backup.  Also, more than a few guns. As a matter of fact, I even brought my personal S&W. I never sleep without it. Coals to Newcastle, you might think, but safety depends on being comfortable with your weapon in an emergency. Let’s just say, my son was well armed, too.

 

Without the usual sound of exploding transformer or flicker warning, the power went out like fingers dousing a candle wick about 10:00 p.m. Irma continued her wobbly two-step across the state, defying predictions and veering east, with the dirty side of the eye now headed for Orlando. We had plenty of flashlights, battery radios and continued following the approaching storm until the wee hours, Jason in his recliner, me on the leather love seat.

 

“What’s that red light on the box on the wall?” It was straight above my toes.

 

Jason didn’t have to turn around. “It tells me the backup battery is not working on the security system.”

 

“A gang of six have broken into Academy Sports and stole guns,” the radio’s timing was uncanny. Shortly they reported an independent gun shop in Daytona was robbed. All six thugs at Academy had been arrested, but not the latest bunch.

 

Wait a minute! Why did I turn down an offer from a dear Facebook friend to be picked up the day before the storm and whisked out of Florida in a Phenom 300 private jet? I don’t remember ever being as touched by a genuine gesture. With wind whistling outside, shaking the building, and water creeping in at the edges of the carpet, I wondered if I was also touched in the head. No. Decision made. Live with it, the operative word being live.

 

Out front the field looked like blowing ocean waves, an ocean that came right up to our front door. Jason tried to open the back, steel door at one point to check on the storm. With video I recorded his struggle to open it a foot and hold it open a few minutes. If you’ve seen weather guys taking a beating in the storm you know what it looked and sounded like. Wind showing its power against the door, rain pellets spraying his face. Grunting. Sorry, I had to laugh.

 

We weren’t very sleepy, though it was after midnight. As a matter of fact, we slept only one hour that night, from about 2:30 to 3:30 a.m. We woke to more banging outside as wind whipped small twigs and branches against the building, and vibrated it more than a few times. The radio hosts were sounding jovial and relaxed as if the worst of the storm had passed. It had where they were, and was exiting our area. We had slept through it.

 

Energy levels shot up and hunger chimed in. At 4:00 in the morning I peeled and ate a boiled egg and had a smoothie. Most delicious dinner/breakfast combination ever.

 

Jason fell back asleep near dawn and I tried, but all I wanted to do was check on my home. No way were we waiting until 6:00 p.m. We didn’t have to, the curfew was lifted at 11:00 a.m. A few more winks for Jason and too much time packing up and finding Emma and we pulled out onto a clear, wind dried road about 2:00 p.m. Grass in the field across the street blew in waves.

 

In the fourth grade, I rounded the corner after school to find my house burned to the ground. The feeling I got then returned as we crept into the neighborhood. No damage from the front. A quick survey showed none from the back. We’d have to run the generator for five days, but our window AC would cool us, and food would be safe in the fridge. We could even run the TV and a few lights. The air smelled of fresh cut wood and the earth after a summer shower. Neighbors all down the streets were already stacking mounds of limbs and sawn logs along the curb. In a few days our lawn boy would have ours cleared and mowed. Like it never even happened. But it had, and like all the other storms we survived in 41 years, we learned more lessons, sharpened our survival skills and would be even more ready for the next one. And there would be a next one. It’s the price of living in paradise.

 

 

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I think I figured it out. Sexy, I mean. My intention was to rant about how the media—and everybody else – has sexed up everything, but then I had an epiphany. Sexy in many cases doesn’t mean pole dancing, slutty trollop. No. It is really a code word for feminine. Oh, they don’t mean it to be and probably are not even aware, but in many cases, I think that’s exactly what it is. Hear me out.

Do you watch “What Not to Wear?” or “How Do I Look”? They often ‘say’ they are showing the poor tomboy she needs to be more sexy, but is that what they really mean? The poor maligned woman doesn’t end up slutty; she ends up looking feminine. But for goodness sakes, we can’t say “feminine.” That would upset the whole struggle for equal pay and the right to wield a jack hammer. So we make her “sexy.”

Once in a while those shows get a woman who actually does dress slutty. What to do, what to do? What they do is show her “curves” but less of her skin. They know better than to take her all the way on the scale to tomboy or even too close to “classic.” All meet in the middle at—ta da — sexy.

I am still perturbed by the overuse of that term—you know—but now I know how to calm myself — besides the glass of wine. Every time they say “sexy” on those shows, I just shout over them, “FEMININE!”

I feel so much better.

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I know there are shallow, silly women, but I often  meet  another kind, such as two ladies from the aptly-named waiting room of the eye clinic.

 

Lady No. 1: Who knows who spoke first or what was said. We are women. We talk. After the usual medical exchanges she mentioned she worked at the police department.

 

“What do you do?” I asked.

 

“Work cold cases.”

 

“Are you a detective?” Somehow it didn’t seem a strange question to be asking a woman in her sixties or seventies.

 

“No, I volunteer.”

 

“It must be very interesting,” I said, truly intrigued.

 

“Gory,” she corrected.

 

I’m sure her work could be gory, but I felt her one-word answer masked considerable satisfaction, especially when she contributes to solving a case, bringing answers to a family waiting for years. So if you are a senior volunteer, obviously there is more to do out there than stuffing envelopes. Who knew? Assignments such as hers are probably rare, so “gory” might be as good as porcupine quills in protecting your turf.

 

Lady No. 2:  She balanced a laptop on her knees, and  turned to ask me which kind of diabetes she must have. After a few questions, I told her Type 2. Then she remembered. She had brought her own laptop, but was apparently filling out forms for the clinic. Five minutes later I knew she was having lasik surgery and throwing away her glasses, that she had lost forty pounds with a trainer and sheer will power to bring her diabetes and cholesterol in line. And by the way, that she was diagnosed with MS as a teen. She knew little about the disease, even at what I would guess was age forty. Her doctor said she was so high strung she was better off not thinking about that, but taking things as they come. She was bubbly and cheerful and had obviously taken his advice.

 

She checked her emails, then smiles at the man walking to sit beside her.

 

“You just texted me!” He was communicating from another place in the building.

 

A few minutes later she squealed, showed something on her laptop screen to an office worker.

 

“Not bad,” she said as she sat back down. “I went on the clinic website and found a $200 discount!”

 

That is a woman who knows how to live!

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endeavour… the random talk of people who have no chance of immortality and thus can speak their minds out has a setting, often, of lights, streets, houses, human beings, beautiful or grotesque, which will weave itself into the moment for ever.

Virginia Woolf

 

T minus 10, 9, 8, 7—   I grabbed my camera and bolted out the front door to the middle of the street, dark except for a dim street light and murky full moon. I felt my neighbor Chris’ tap on the shoulder before I saw or heard her. How many shuttle launches had we watched together? Usually Bonnie from across the street was with us, but not tonight. The car at the intersection came our way and we dared it to make us move and miss what would soon be appearing in the east at the end of our street. The car pulled over and stopped. Bonnie popped out, not bothering to close her door.

 

“Our pastor just died,” Bonnie said. The diffused light of the street lamp revealed her smeared makeup.


Then our eyes fixed on the familiar glow on the horizon. It expanded like a sunrise and became brighter and brighter until it formed a bullet shape with a reddish golden hue, the most brilliant we had seen in all our years of shuttle watching.

 

 

“This is the first launch Jerry has missed in over thirty years here. He’s in the hospital and I’m filming it for him,” I said.

Greetings from Bonnie and Chris went on the video.

 

The moon, diffused by clouds, seemed to know its place as Endeavour cleared a sharp, brilliant path through the sky. Then the spacecraft appeared to hesitate as a bright, white light burst against the dark background. The booster had jettisoned.

 

“I woke in the middle of the night recently and knew my father had pneumonia and called my mom in the morning. She took him to the hospital, though she didn’t think he was sick. He had pneumonia,” Bonnie said.

 

The shuttle was a small, but still bright spot in the sky, like a shooting star. Our eyes never left it.

 

“My son and his family moved out last week,” Chris said. “It’s nice and quiet, but I miss my grandson. He visited today and barreled toward my knees to give them a bear hug.”

 

A tiny spec still streaked across the sky as our front doors closed behind us. That this launch had been visible much longer than others was fitting. Three women on a dark street had important pieces of their lives to send into the night sky.

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The Tomorrow Diet

Sorry I’ve been away, but my wonderful Texas niece paid us a visit and we have been showing her our real Florida. What do you do after entertaining? Diet, of course. My husband and I are on what we call “The Tomorrow Diet.” No, it’s not like the “I’m Starting Monday Diet.” We always eat according to South Beach rules, but last weeks paper touted a new method. You eat only 30% of your normal intake one day and anything you want the next. So tomorrow is always only a day away. The psychology of it is simple and brilliant. Who can’t wait one day to pig out? Who can’t get through ONE day of deprivation? I lost between 1 and 1 1/2 lbs. in a couple of days and my husband gained. This is starting to grow on me already. How many diets favor the female of the species? Today was deprivation day so I’m ready to chew the legs off the table, but tomorrow we can have roast lamb sandwiches left over from pig out day.

I’ll keep you posted if anyone is interested.

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70sdress-001.jpg70sdress-0061.jpg(Click to enlarge)

Have you ever got that woozy feeling like Whoa! I’ve done this before, said the same thing before, and he’s going to say “———-” next,  and he does?  Then you know the feeling when I bumped into this dress in today’s paper. I carried the paper to a 70’s family collage hanging in the den and held them side by side. No sleeves in the ad dress, but otherwise the feel is exactly the same. I could wear that old dress out on the street tomorrow. Well, if I still had it and if it still fit. Save anything long enough it will come by again on the carousel of fashion — whether you want it to or not.

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WOMEN WITH WINGS

I met the unwitting participants of my unintended study of older women of 2002 while flying from Orlando, FL to San Antonio, TX.

This was  a summer in which women of our age were being strip searched, having luggage picked through in public and sitting barefoot while our comfortable shoes were checked for bomb residue. We were being taken for Middle Eastern terrorists in inordinate numbers. Maybe that explains why I consider following women of strength.

***

Sushi (short for SuSheila) Mehta sat one chair down from me as we waited to board in Houston for our final leg into San Antonio. Her eyes were friendly, unguarded, so we began to speak. I dropped the reserve usually employed to keep talkative strangers from ruining a flight. What were the chances we’d be seat mates?

Sushi was wide, heavy and plodded slowly up the aisle after I had stowed my gear and sat down. She checked her boarding pass and smiled at me. I was on the aisle, she in the middle seat. I got up, raised the armrest, as did the woman in the window seat. Our seating companion would need a little extra room.

Conversation resumed right away. She lived in India where she had all her married life. That’s where your home is she told me, no matter where you were born and reared. She had grown up in South Africa. Now her two sons were living in America, in Cleveland and San Antonio. She refused their efforts to move with them, preferring her Indian “village” of over one million people. She did visit them for several months each year. She would be celebrating her seventieth birthday with her son in San Antonio in a few weeks. Her young granddaughter speaks Gujarati, English, and French, but, of course, now that they have moved to Texas she is taking Spanish lessons. Of course. Shushi’s boarding pass was not heavy paper stock, but flimsy paper like mine. From my observations, she was one of the few on board who had used the new e-ticket system, handled strictly by computer. She had had seventeen back surgeries, had knee problems, lived half a world away, was in her seventh decade, yet was as modern and brave as any on the plane I’m sure.

Though anxious to see my sister and niece after several years apart, I walked at Shushi’s pace the long way to the luggage counter. Just as I spotted the two familiar blondes I was looking for, waving frantically to me, Shushi grabbed my arm and pulled me over to meet her son. He was not surprised we had talked all the way. I introduced her to my relatives and then we went our ways.

I took a lot of kidding about being like my mother, always picking up strays. They would tell everyone that their first thought upon seeing me shake hands with Sushi’s dark-skinned son was that I had befriended a terrorist. No, but I had been befriended by a fascinating woman.

***

When another very openly friendly woman occupied the window seat on my return flight from SA to Houston, I was not afraid to respond because once the middle seat was occupied, I’d be able to finally open the book I’d been anxious to start. When the cabin doors were shut I realized that, incredibly, no one filled that seat. It was only empty one on the plane.

This woman was my mirror image. She was from Florida, but living in Texas, and on her way to oversee her elderly mother’s medical care. I, on the other hand, was from Texas, but living in Florida and had been overseeing my elderly mother’s medical care. She was still in her forties and running families in two states on a regular basis, but what was most remarkable about her was that she was unremarkable, she was “every woman.” If you are a woman, you know her. She doesn’t do small talk. No “how ’bout those Bucs?” Our conversation ranged from the Bushes and the stock market scandals to how new acquaintances “qualify” you for friendship with their questions, from the tobacco lawsuit, to which body parts could be salvaged at our age and how we planned to dispose of the rest of our bodies after death.

***

I haven’t even gone into the lady in the window seat whose three-month-old grandchild had TWICE swallowed her tiny ruby earrings. I’ll save that for Women With Wings of Humor.

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