Friday, June 27, 2008

A sudden, swift move~

I was young-- maybe 8 or 9-- when, while taking a bath, I allowed a spider to build a web from the wall to my arm. The spider was intent, single-minded, and even as a child I knew this spider was determined to build a web to capture food. I wanted to be part of its success. Its survival depended upon it . . . and on me, I'd thought. I remember wondering why it chose such a barren landscape as our tub, and such an insubstantial anchor as me. Didn't it know? Couldn't it see?

I was fascinated, and somewhat horrified, to realize that I was allowing a spider to use my body as a connecting point for its web. That was a responsibility I couldn't live up to, and when my father knocked on the door and said, "Time for bed. Let the water out," I yanked my arm hard and the spider scurried away. I tried not to think about it as I crawled into bed.

Decades later, I hesitated for a few seconds before ruining a web a spider had built from the lamp post beside the driveway to my truck's door. I had to get to work. But it bothered me to ruin the hard work of this arachnid with a sudden, swift move it hadn't bargained for. By now I knew the strength of gossamer was five times stronger than a steel fiber of the same size. The web had strength, but I had greater force on my side. The next morning, the spider had rebuilt. And again I applied my force. Didn't it know? Couldn't it see?

Lately the news is full of the devastation of peoples' homes-- tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fire . . . sudden, swift moves. Like spiders, people build homes trusting they'll endure, trusting in their strength. But they don't endure, not always. And I think of the spider, its determination, its desire to survive.

The fragility of humans is on a par with the spider, I think. There are forces larger than our strengths. We feel in charge; we use our brains. We and plan, and consider, but yet, all it takes is a sudden, swift move. We think it won't happen, but it does. Not always, but enough to show our vulnerability. Don't we know? Can't we see?

We see, but somethings are bigger than us. So it becomes a matter of determination, a desire to survive. And that we humans have. Like all of nature.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”~Winston Churchill

Friday, June 20, 2008

Who me, crazy?

Thirty five years will do this to you.

Time to go~

I'm done!!!!

Life begins at retirement. ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Call me~

I've misplaced my cell phone. I had it Saturday morning; Sunday I couldn't find it.

I suspect it fell from my pocket while on a bike ride. Retracing my route and finding it in working order after two days of rain would be more luck than my usual, so today I go to the phone store-- just to get some info.

The young salesman shows me-- at my request-- the basic phone; it only makes and receives calls . . . but so what? I have a camera for pictures, a TV for videos, a computer for email . . . who needs bells and whistles?

He points out a more expensive phone-- $250 something-- and before I can shake my head, he tells me my price, since I'm upgrading, is $135, and there's a $100 rebate as well. This phone has ten things-- at least--that I don't need, but the phone is only $35.

I'm sold. Before I can nod my head, he tells me that the phone's speaker is loud.

"Very loud, " he says. " One of our loudest." I try to look impressed, but I have exquisite hearing. Just ask my husband who doesn't. I don't need a loud phone.

A young sales woman wanders over. "Oh, good choice," she says to me. She points out another feature-- large display and buttons. "Not implying anything," she adds. Have I been been profiled-- hard of hearing with failing vision?

Apparently the phone has some other really cool capability called SSB or SLM . . . or something.

"That phone also has SSB," she tells me. "Although you probably don't care; you won't use it." She sort of laughs.

"Oh, don't be too sure," I tell her breezily, although I don't have a clue what she's referring to. Of course I won't use it, whatever it is. I only want to make a damn phone call now and then.

So here I am, glad she can't see me flipping through the 190-page user manual, past "video share," "using the camcorder," and "listening to music" looking for the page that says "making a call/answering a call."

Call me. I'll be able to hear you now.
“Watching something on your cell phone seems like crazy talk to me.”~Matt Thompson quotes

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Missing Dad~

It's been more than five years since my father died. He had Parkinson's disease and yes, he was "old," but it was a moment of negligence in the hospital that took his life. Grief loses its sharp edge, but it has a way of tapping you on the shoulder when you least expect it.

How do you stop missing your father?

You don't.

These were words I planned to read at his funeral. The minister did it for me.


Good-bye to the man I've known longest in my life:

Anybody who knows me knows that I spend a great deal of time “in my head,” thinking, wondering, analyzing . . . and especially so lately as I’ve watched my father age over the past year or so.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned from my father, so many attitudes and values and philosophies that I’ve absorbed through the years. And it shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did, to find that even after his death there is more to learn from him.

Just going through his files and books has revealed a depth that I was unaware of. After all, he was my Dad. I lived with him for so many years and cast him in the role of parent. I sometimes overlooked the man, a person unique to himself, apart from his role as my Dad.

I found myself standing in his den, looking at the many books he had accumulated over the years, books that I remember once telling him were boring. His love for his Scottish heritage and his interest in all things military are evident. So many of the books that I pulled out to peek in, (and still found boring), held a special memento set aside there by him; a bible verse in one, a clipping from a church bulletin in another, a Scottish quote, a poem, father’s day cards . . . And in others, little drawings Rob and I had made for him, saved and dated with loving care. Because, not only did he collect things for his many hobbies, he collected bits and pieces of love from his family.

Watching him decline in heath was difficult. He was self reliant and stubborn and independent to the end. And watching him adjust to giving up the independence was not easy on any of us. But he did maintain his dignity, and even in the most dependent of situations, such as being helped up from a fall by Hanover’s wonderful EMT’s, he always managed a wry joke or humorous comment. Those who knew him are familiar with his dry wit. It saw him through to the end.

I saw his dignity in the most undignified moment, his humor in tough times, his acceptance of circumstances he didn't like, his concern for others when all our concern was for him, and his never-wavering love for my mother, Rob and me.

How do you stop missing your father?

You don't.
Dad's Carrot Bread (published in the Christian Science Monitor)
Last year's memorial post~

There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Countdown! 10, 9, 8 . . .

Retirement is no big deal statistically speaking. Multitudes step out of the working world every year. I remember when my father retired at 63, two years earlier than typical in those days; I remember my mother's retirement party a few years later. But I don't remember either of them obsessing about ending their careers.

They just retired--with a big smile and a sigh, I might add-- then went about the rest of their lives.

So most likely I'm over thinking my imminent early-retirement at the ripe young age of 57. My husband tells me I think too much, but then for him the reverse is true.

In the car he once answered my question, "What are you thinking?" with, "Nothing. I'm driving."

Nothing? Is that even possible? He says it is.

Friday my good friends gave me a retirement party that they said was so "me." It was perfect. I enjoyed it to the fullest-- laughs, hugs, warm wishes, tears, and so much more-- and breathed a sigh of relief when I got home. It's all over but for the last ten days of school.

This morning I opened a cabinet to get out a box of cereal and there on the inside of the door hung the calendar-- my son gives me a new cat calendar every Christmas. I saw that I'd written "The End" on June 20. I don't know when or what I was feeling when I wrote it. There's no punctuation. No exclamation point, or even a question mark. There's no smiley face or sad face. Just the ambiguous "The End."

I think of the past 35 years-- longer really, because I knew I wanted to teach in first grade and moved single-mindedly toward that goal since I was six. And now in a blink . . . finis!

But the calendar doesn't end on the 20th, nor do I, and I know this as well as anybody. I picked up a red pen-- a teacher pen-- and wrote "The beginning" on June 21st!!!!! :>)

At the party I heard over and over again, "You're lucky. You have so many interests. You write. You take pictures. You'll be so busy you won't even miss this."

I want to believe them. But I know better.

~Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.~Jacques Martin Barzun