Monday, August 29, 2011

Several Moments in Time

When Rex was faculty sponsor of the on campus radio station and taught one journalism class, he assigned his students interviews with members of the Pioneer Club who had returned for Homecoming. The Pioneer Club was made up of anyone who had been graduated 40 years or more. One delightful student decided she would interview the oldest woman there. The interview was going along very nicely when she asked: What did you do for fun back then? The octogenarian smiled, her eyes twinkled, and she replied: The same things you do today. We just didn’t talk about it so openly then.

I was in my late 30s, early 40s when I was on an ecumenical planning committee. They sent me a copy of the program and there I was, the only one without a list of initials after my name. There were degrees of course and even a few titles and the Catholic sisters seem to have the most letters which denoted their orders I suppose. My daughters said, “Mom, you need some letters after your name.” A friend who was visiting at the time suggested PSOB. What? “Pretty Sexy Old Broad”.

I was younger then of course. Forty was an interesting time as I began to get some delightful attention from younger men. I commented on this fact to a dear friend. Now this lady was amazing: tall, regal in bearing, ordained minister, married to a minister, wise, a mother in the faith to me and after my mom died, a surrogate mom for a while. I had no idea what she might say to this (I thought radical) statement of mine. She smiled, patted my arm and said, “Oh, my dear, just wait until you are 50.”

I spent year 67 in great pain. Pain took away my sense of being attractive in any way at all. I certainly didn’t feel sexy. I felt old, dowdy and pinched. I may have looked good. Dean even told me that he liked a particular outfit or that I looked very nice or even sexy. Didn’t matter what he or anyone else said. I didn’t Feel attractive or sexy. Then I had hip replacement surgery. No more pain. Slowly, gradually energy returned. I go to the gym. I am gaining muscle tone I had lost. I am active again. And I Feel Sexy. They say that 90% of sexiness is in our heads. I can attest to that. However I felt last year, this year I feel good, know when I look good, feel sexy and am more ready than ever to sign myself in as a PSOB!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Doing it Again

If Rex had lived August 24th would have been our 50th wedding anniversary and there would have been some sort of a party and celebration and all sorts of whoopla just because we had made it this long together. Rex didn’t make it. And neither did Nancy. Dean and Nancy were also married in 1961, December 26 to be exact. And so as Dean points out, this is our 50th anniversary year of being married. Oh yes, we both had a break after more than 35 years - spent some time alone, but not really enough to get out of the marriage mode.

Of course you don’t just switch one spouse for another ~ after we married each other, we adjusted, we changed, we worked through issues both of us thought had already been worked through years before only to remember that was with the other spouse.

I have recently been given some pictures from family archives of my grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. They had to have been about my age because I know my grandmother had her first daughter at 18. They are a very handsome couple. They had lived a strong and probably hard life. Papa Dear was a farmer. Mama Dear had run a boarding house. And yet there they are at their fiftieth anniversary looking soft and demure. Neither look like they have been to a gym a day in their lives nor like they had much energy about them. I think Dean and I must be a lot younger at 68 than they were at the same age.

I guess that is to say that although all fifty years of marriage have not been to the same person, we are glad to be living in an age when that may still be a milestone, and we don’t have to stop and stay here. We are able to continue the joys of marriage (“we get to do it again”, Dean says) as well as a healthy, strong, energetic aging process.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Intense Silence

== Intense Silence. I am not sure I have ever thought of silence as being intense before. This morning Dean was moving some furniture around to prepare the deck for more power-washing. I came inside for another cup of tea and sat down in my chair and realized there was No sound.

The silence began to press in on me in a very good way. It called me to attention. I put down my tea and settled in my chair, feet on the floor, hands in my lap, eyes closed. I reached out with my ears and there was No sound. No cars on the road. No moving around the deck noise. No bird or little critter noises. No house noise - not even the ice maker. I pulled my attention back into my body and let myself be supported by the silence. I simply sat and let it settle in and around me. I was grounded - centered - releasing.

There is a sense that the intensity will stay with me even though the power-washer will begin soon. Dean came in and spoke to me and it took a moment to return to our shared space in order to hear him. Now there is a little movement, some sound, and he is on the deck again. And still the silence seems to be protecting me from whatever sounds will come. I have had this experience before of course - learned a long time ago how to surround my body with silence so that the words I was hearing didn’t invade my space but simply entered my hearing without beating on me. This morning was different though. I was not the initiator of the silence. The silence itself was alive and intense and calling me to its center. Very nice. Very nice indeed.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

12th Night on the Lake

We saw 12th Night at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor last night. First of all, Dean and Scot, the man of the couple who went with us, decided we would go early as usual but this time we would eat on the beach. I was a little hesitant, traditionalist that I am, because I have always enjoyed eating in the venue. However, here begineth the list of "bests" ~

Eating on the beach was Delightful. We had the best parking space we have ever had - several steps to the entrance to the beach and about twice that in the other direction to the entrance to the theatre area. Linda provided food and we sat on the beach for a little over an hour and ate and talked (and I outlined the plot of the play) and enjoyed the time. Then at about 6:30 we put everything back in the car, got out our hoodies and blankets and headed just a little further up the hill to the theatre.

It was the best performance of 12th Night I have ever seen. Of course I kept seeing Meredith as Maria. She could have done this one as well or better. And - Viola, who really carries the play I discovered, was Excellent. Both physically and in articulation and enunciation. I understood Every word without her ever sounding like she was pushing. The sound system may have something to do with this as well - and truthfully, I understood it all and she was just outstanding.

Malvolio was the best I have ever seen. Finally someone directed and acted him like the humorous, pompous ass he is and gave us reason to understand what the pranksters do to him. The cast reaction to his final "I will be revenged on the whole lot of you" was also good enough to help carry what is often a let down.

Viola and Sabastian, although different in height as is usually the case, looked enough alike that it was plausible that they might be identical twins - although I have never quite understood how a male and female can be "identical" no matter how close they look alike. :) Of course the twins in Shakespeare's company were both boys and identical.

I was interested in the fact that Maria did not just disappear. She and Sir Toby had a very obvious thing going and she was brought back on stage at the end (never having really left in the disappeared sense) and was part of the revelations and given the line about Toby's marrying her - with great excitement on her part rather than like a punishment which is what it is easily read as.

Usually, although the stage backs up to the lake, there is a back drop between the stage and the lake. For this one, set on the shores of Illyria, the back was open to the lake. Gorgeous. They switched the first two scenes so that there was a sand colored cloth covering the center part of the stage and Viola was brought on to it by the sea captain and her scene was run. Then the cloth was pulled off stage and Orsino's house appeared and they played the "If music be the food of love, play on" scene.

I was very impressed with the setting. Smooth changes - use of the entire theatre - so much so that the director made a speech ahead of time in which he told people if they got up during the play to watch for the actors because the actors were running to make a cue and would not stop for them. And then bless him, among the other announcements he made including of course turning off cell phones and no photography, he had to remind folks NOT to leave seconds before the show ended, saying "imagine if you are an actor and have just spent two hours performing and just as you start to take your bow, you see people leaving the theatre." We all laughed politely - and Still there were several folks who left. Please, realize that this is a very casual setting - we are outside, on beach chairs on the sand, with our coolers or our food from the catering facility, dressed in layers with blankets over our knees - so there is a sense of being able to move about and do whatever you want. Still - I felt sorry that the man had to add that to his pre-show speech.

Even with really good articulation from the actors and an excellent sound system, Dean only understood about every 4th word. And even at that, he said this morning, "I think we should try to go to at least one every year."

The other negative was that my chair split down on side so that I had no seat. Fortunately it happened just as I sat down after Intermission and the people next to Scot didn't return (????) so I moved down. When I circled my seat number on my ticket and handed it to a staff person after the show to say it needed replacing, he told me it had been happening all season and mine was the 5th he had dealt with just last night. Made me feel better - knew I hadn't gained That much weight!! All I had was one extra piece of Linda's banana bread - :D :D :D

I was the Shakespearean guru last night and although I made it clear I really knew very little, it was obvious I knew a lot more than the other three in the party and they were very appreciative of my tutoring - and it was fun of course. I even wore my "Will Power" shirt from Stratford-on-Avon ~ ancient shirt and I still love it and of course like it when the Bard is being performed. It was really good to see really good professional theatre again. It has been a while - well, a year since the last time I was at the Shakespeare festival at Sand Harbor. I guess if I see only one professional show a year, having it be Shakespeare is a really good idea. :D

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Day to Celebrate

With gratitude to wonderful researchers, I take this blog directly from The Writer's Almanac for August 18, 2011.

On this date in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote.There had been strong opposition to woman suffrage since before the Constitution was drafted in the first place; people (mostly men) believed that women should not vote or hold office because they needed to be protected from the sordid world of politics. Abigail Adams asked her husband, John, to "remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors," but to no avail. A more organized woman suffrage movement arose in the 19th century, hand in hand with the abolitionist movement, and in July 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized a women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Stanton drafted a Declaration of Sentiments, modeled after the Declaration of Independence, demanding the right of women to have an equal say in their government if they were to be bound by its laws; attendees — women and men — signed the Declaration of Sentiments to show their support, although some later asked that their names be removed when they experienced the media backlash.

In the latter half of the 19th century, states began gradually loosening restrictions on voting rights for women. Wyoming was the first state to grant women the full right to vote, which it did when it gained statehood in 1890. The first national constitutional amendment was proposed in Congress in 1878, and in every Congress session after that. Finally, in 1919, it narrowly passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the states to be ratified. Most Southern states opposed the amendment, and on August 18, 1920, it all came down to Tennessee. The pro-amendment faction wore yellow roses in their lapels, and the "anti" faction wore red American Beauty roses. It was a close battle and the state legislature was tied 48 to 48. The decision came down to one vote: that of 24-year-old Harry Burn, the youngest state legislator. Proudly sporting a red rose, he cast his vote ... in favor of ratification. He had been expected to vote against it, but he had in his pocket a note from his mother, which read: "Dear Son: Hurrah, and vote for suffrage! Don't keep them in doubt. I noticed some of the speeches against. They were bitter. I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not noticed anything yet. Don't forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the 'rat' in ratification. Your Mother."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reflections on Aging

Reflections on aging. But not on geriatric aging. Just on getting older and learning along the way. Trinity is six. There is something about the six year old brain that begins to make connections. She was told if she was to go on the kayak with Grandpa or out in the float seat with Akira or by herself, she Had to wear a life jacket. No question. And she did. She and Akira were coming into shore when Akira leaned too far over and slipped out. They were very close to shore so he really just sat on his bottom in the sand. We were laughing together when Trinity looked right at me and said, “That’s why you want me to wear a life jacket!” Yes, ma’am. You got it. Connection made.

Akira is nine and at nine you begin to learn some things that you have been denied learning because up to then you have been “too young”. Marc, Akira’s dad, taught him to use a lighting stick to light a candle or a fire. He asked if he could light the candle on his dad’s birthday cake that night. And he did ~ like a pro. He now has the dexterity and the understanding to be careful with fire.

Nine also seems to be the age for him when some “older” responsibility has taken over. He and Trinity had been in the float seat together. She really, really wanted to do it alone. Standing by the float he looks at her, looks at me and says, “Mama Susan, I’m going with her.” And he proceeds to walk behind the float with one hand reaching gently toward it while she works at learning to paddle. He has had an excellent role model in his terrific big brother/mentor, Joshua. And as Joshua prepares to leave for college, the baton is passed very subtly to the next generation.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

To Be Remembered Like This

This might be the way she would like to be remembered: sitting at the little table at the top of the yard, tea at hand, book in hand, dressed in her light weight sweat suit to ward off the rapidly dissipating summer morning chill. If she raises her eyes from her book, which at times like these she does often, the lake glimmers in the south. Snow capped mountains still surround it even though August is well under way. It was a long, deep winter. The sun casts speckled shadows on the ground around her and she is content.

The book in her hands on this particular morning is David McCullough’s 1776 although on other days it might be a mystery by Margery Allingham or Victoria Thompson. Romance enters the picture when Pauline Trent’s latest book arrives. To make her setting even more iconic her glasses should probably be the little half ones used only for reading. Years ago though she rejected the idea of putting on and taking off over and over again and so she wears her little granny glasses all the time - starting way before she was a granny.

These days if she makes it to the table up the hill after about 8, she also has her phone. Texts from family are too important to miss. And if she sits the whole time with no message coming through, it is ok. Tea is brought up the hill in a mug that will keep it hot for a long time in the chilly air. There is comfort in tea on a throat often roughed by pine pollen until the morning gets started.

Most mornings she walks up the hill, her husband is with her. He created the little space after all and loves it too. Conversation, if any, is quiet and usually has to do with the small critters that scurry through the manzanita or the view of the lake. Once in a while they share plans for the day or an idea one of them has had or a story about the grandchildren. Mostly though they are quiet. Their silence is intimate and as alive as if it were noisy. It is a shared space and time. There is no need to speak.

So her day begins and it is here, in these moments of quiet, contemplation, gentle conversation and peace that she would like to be remembered. A woman present in her moment needing neither the past nor the future to be affirmed.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"On October 18, a raw, gloomy Wednesday, a congressional committee of three, including Benjamin Franklin, gathered by a roaring fire in Washington's study and, after lengthy deliberations with the commander and his generals, concluded that if an attack on Boston meant the destruction of the town, they could not approve."

In honor of National Book Week, I turned to page 56 of the closest book, found the 5th sentence and discovered it was much too long to post on FB. It is actually the first paragraph of this section of the book. I know we don't have to name the book, and does it surprise you to know that I am reading David McCullough's 1776? I am also reading a mystery and this one was on the top when I came across a friend's post on FB. After I have completed the book, I will write a book blog about it. I am really enjoying it. For now - yay for National Book Week!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Is there anyone who Likes the DMV? I think it must be very hard to work in a place where the people who walk through the door are automatically hostile to you. No matter what the state nor the reason for going, I think we all think the DMV will take Ages, ask more paper work than we have, more money than we expected and is totally against us. Very difficult to maintain a cheerful attitude in the face of that ~ even though most of us try to be cheerful back. And yet, the three (only three) women working in our DMV today were all cheerful, polite and helpful.

We left home at 11:45. Drove 30 minutes, went to the smog check station, were told it would be at least an hour before he could take care of the truck, went to lunch, got a number at the DMV, went to the smog check where he took the truck right away - and then had to let the machine warm up for 20 minutes - back to the DMV where our number was 56 and they were serving 39 having moved there from 15 when Dean had originally gotten 56. We left the DMV at 4 having to still get the truck weighed because CA doesn’t trust the weight NV put on the title. *sigh* At least when we go back next time with weight papers in hand, we have an appointment and will get right in - well, within 15 minutes. And meantime, we do have a temporary permit and have paid the taxes.

Lunch was delightful though ~ sat outside in a quiet corner at a little deli place we love and had a sandwich and chocolate shake (Dean) and a Cobb salad and chai shake (me). Yummy.

And the women at the DMV were very nice.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I had no idea Emily Dickinson had written a poem about me and my meadow.

The bee is not afraid of me

The bee is not afraid of me,
I know the butterfly;
The pretty people in the woods
Receive me cordially.

The brooks laugh louder when I come,
The breezes madder play.
Wherefore, mine eyes, they silver mists?
Wherefore, O summer's day?

The poem so exactly fits me when I enter the loop on our walks. Of course the bee and butterfly part is true all the time. I like it. It offers me a sense of my own magic.

Speaking of magic. The Harolds worked their magic last night. Twice if my ears do not deceive me. Now whether there was a bear or not, I have no idea. By the time I was up to investigate, and bang if necessary, the deck was empty. Maybe a squirrel ran by or a bird flew although neither of them have been around since I started using the Pine Sol. Anyway - I like the Harolds. Harold of the Hose ~ he is perched on the hose box; and Harold the Hoot ~ on the counter by the window. Motion-sensitive handsome owls to be turned on and off as we wish. Last night they did their work well.