Thursday Thoughts

Chirp
The other morning, I went outside to water my plants. I took along a pair of scissors, and started to deadhead the geranium plant that sits on the counter of our outdoor kitchen. I took one snip and, to my surprise, a bird flew out of the plant. I was so startled that I couldn’t even tell what kind of bird it was. Probably a mourning dove, I decided. Hmmmm, I thought to myself. What was a bird doing in the geranium pot? I carefully peeked into the plant, and sure enough, I spotted seven little spotted bird eggs. I didn’t touch them of course, and went back inside. I was hoping against hope that nothing I had done would cause the mama bird to abandon her babes. Later that day, I carefully peeked again. I immediately spotted the black crown, and knew it was a quail, and it was sitting bravely on the eggs, despite the peeping thomasina. Aha, I thought. I had spotted two quails hanging around our back yard the night before. Spotting quails is not unusual in our ‘hood. But, in hindsight, these two had seemed like looky-loos who were house hunting. I looked on Wikipedia and learned that quails mate for life and that mom and dad take turns sitting on the eggs. Alas, we probably won’t be here to witness the hatching. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Mr. Roadrunner doesn’t find the nest, because quail eggs are a roadrunner delicacy.

It’s very hard to see, but the yellow arrow is pointing to one of the eggs.

Heavenly Movies
I had several responses to yesterday’s post in which I talked about my frustration when it comes to movies depicting the life of Christ. Several people agreed that the movie Jesus isn’t ever — nor WILL it ever be — the same as we imagine Jesus to be. How could it? But I also had a couple of recommendations. One of my cousins said that when she prays the rosary, the Blessed Virgin she always pictures is the one featured in the 2020 film Fatima. So I rented it last night, and she’s right. The actress plays a splendid Mary. Another person suggested I try The Chosen, another story about the life of Christ. I will give that one a try after finishing Jesus of Nazareth, which, by the way, I’m enjoying a great deal. Despite the actor’s vivid blue eyes, he is much like I would envision Jesus.

Vroom
Yesterday, Bill coaxed me into taking a ride in his Ferarri, which he apparently has up and running. I agreed, because he dangled a glass of wine on the patio of the Las Sendas Golf Club under my nose. Unfortunately, about five minutes into the ride, the car began making funny sounds. We weren’t far from home, and high-tailed it back quickly. He thinks it might just have been low in gas. Hmmmm.

Homeward Bound
We know we are going to head back to Denver in a couple of weeks. We are just now starting to talk about the possibility of flying home at the end or April, leaving our car here. We would then fly back for my niece Brooke’s wedding at the end of May (her wedding is June 4), and driving home after that. Neither option is decidedly better. Either way, we will have to drive one direction. But at least in June we wouldn’t have to worry about snowy weather. We will put on our thinking caps and come with a plan soon.

Ciao.

Greatest Story

Every year before Easter, my sister Bec watches The Ten Commandments. The story of the Israelites being led out of the desert by Moses — though not directly related to the death and resurrection of Jesus — is an Easter tradition. Personally, I think it’s seeing the red and orange crinkly paper mimicking the burning bush that does it for her. Every year she texts me at the end of the movie and says, “Moses once again led the Jews out of the desert and to the Promised Land.” As usual, Moses, himself, didn’t make it. I checked with Bec.

I love a good tradition, but not enough to spend three or more hours watching an overacted movie. I can say this conclusively, because yesterday afternoon, it came to my attention that Amazon was offering The Greatest Story Ever Told to its prime members at no cost. The Greatest Story Ever Told and free shipping. What more could a Christian want?

I started the movie. It took nearly 10 minutes for the film to actually begin because of all of the falderol at the beginning. Cue epic music and the names of The Best Of Hollywood who starred in the movie. And then the film began with the three magi meeting with King Herod to see if he knew the location of the new King of the Jews. Bad call on their part, because Herod wasn’t ready to give up his throne. “When you find the kid, let me know where he is so that I can kil…oops, I mean worship him myself.”

It was at this point that Bill, who was sitting at the kitchen table working on our taxes, said, “Joseph escapes with Mary and Jesus because an angel comes to him in a dream and tells him to go to Egypt.”

Seriously? He thinks I didn’t know this? Spoiler alert?

“Bill,” I said. “After 13 years of Catholic school and a lifetime of being a Catholic Christian, I think I know how the story goes. I also know how it ends.”

At any rate, I moved into the bedroom to continue watching the movie, which I had by then learned went on for three hours. Why are these Bible movies so dang long? I cued up The Greatest Story Ever Told, and watched it until after Jesus began his mission. I sat with him as he fasted for 40 days and ignored the devil, I watched him recruit Peter, John, James, and Judas Iscariot. And then I simply couldn’t watch it any longer.

Why? The filmmaker elected to use an unknown actor to portray Jesus. I think that was probably a pretty good decision. Watching, say, Clint Eastwood portray Jesus Christ would be so disconcerting. I would be waiting for him to tell Pontius Pilate, “Do you feel lucky today? Well, do you, Punk?”

But the actor he selected — a French actor named Max von Sydow — was horrible. I can forgive him for having blue eyes even though Jesus undoubtedly had brown eyes. It’s a movie, after all. It isn’t really Jesus; it’s an actor. Or at least I thinks so. I’ll ask Bill.

Anyway, what I couldn’t get past was his haircut…..

No. Just no. Jesus had shoulder-length hair parted in the middle. It in no way resembled this Dutchboy haircut with the side part.

I might have been able to withstand the bad haircut. But I simply couldn’t handle his speaking voice. In my mind, Jesus’ voice is warm and welcoming. The Greatest Story Ever Told‘s Jesus sounded like a snobby Brit who is unhappy that they let the town’s plumber into the Country Club.

I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I switched over to Jesus of Nazareth. Though there were a lot of blue eyes…

Mary, as portrayed by the stunning young Olivia Hussey
Jesus as portrayed by then-unknown actor Robert Powell

…..Jesus didn’t talk like a rich investment banker and Mary was stunningly beautiful.

Best of all, by this time Bill had gone back out to the garage so he wasn’t narrating the story.

Living a Dream

You may say I’m a dreamer,
But I’m not the only one.

JOHN lENNON

The other morning, I woke up from having one of the worst dreams of my life. I know we all dream every night, but for a very long time, I haven’t remembered my dreams. Suddenly in the past couple of months I have started remembering my dreams.

The nightmare from the other night was that my son — who is now a grown man of 40 — was once again a child of 5 years old. He and I were walking home from somewhere, and we were with my sister Jen and her daughter Maggie. Suddenly an old red Plymouth pulled up beside us, and a man got out of the car and grabbed my son. He pulled him into the car and drove away.

I began screaming for them to stop, to no avail. Maggie and Jen were frankly quite lackadaisical about the whole event in that very way of dreams. I rushed home and called 911. (Seeings as he was only 5, cell phones were not yet invented.) The person who answered my call was even less interested in the apparent kidnapping than were Jen and Maggie. By this time I was terrified, and I began screaming. In my dream, I screamed and screamed and screamed until my voice went completely hoarse.

And then I woke up. As I was waking up, I literally prayed: Please God, let this just be a bad dream. And of course it was. The other good news is that while I was screaming in my dream, I apparently wasn’t screaming in real life. At least Bill says he didn’t hear me. I think even he — a deep sleeper — would have heard me screaming until I was hoarse.

Dreams are really funny things. I wish I understood them better. Even now — a 67 year old woman — I frequently have nightmares. Generally, my nightmares aren’t tied to anything in my real life. But they wake me up and cause me to have trouble falling back to sleep. Frequently I will dream about someone who I have not given a single thought to in literally years. Where does that come from?

My 40 year old son, alive and not kidnapped

As I was telling Bill about my dream, I began trying to analyze it. (Since I didn’t get my Ph.D. in Freudian psychology, that is probably a grave mistake.) I suggested that Court being “taken away from me” in my dream was perhaps indicative of the fact that he and I are far apart in distance, and I miss him very much. Maybe the fact that no one in my dream seemed to care means that I am feeling lonely and invisible, like many older people. Maybe I should quit trying to analyze my dreams.

Here’s a funny thing about my dreams. Whenever I dream about a house — including the house to which I ran in the above-described dream — it is the house in which I spent my formative years. Yep. The little house in Columbus, Nebraska, where I grew up. Despite the fact that I have lived in the same house in Denver for almost 30 years, I still dream about the house in Columbus where I lived for the first 18 years of my life.

I chatted a bit yesterday morning with the barista about whom I spoke the other day. As usual, she was very friendly.

“How are you?” I asked.

“I’m very tired,” she responded. “I didn’t sleep well last night. I had a terrible dream.”

We commiserated for a bit about dreaming. Her dream was that she went home to visit her family in west Texas, and everyone hated her. They wouldn’t speak to her and, in fact, were very mean to her.

“I don’t know why I had that dream,” she said. “I love my family and they love me. It was so sad that I woke up and tears were rolling down my cheeks.”

The good news for her is that she leaves today to go home for a visit with her family. More than likely, her dream is tied up in some sort of psychological feeling. I can’t explain. I’m just a blogger.

Stay Calm and Carry On

I try really, really hard to face everyday obstacles with a positive attitude. Keep calm and carry on, as England’s government pounded into the heads of Brits during World War II. Frankly, I do a very poor job. Apparently my motto is not keep calm and carry on, but instead is freak out at the slightest change in a routine. Not only is it negative thinking, but it’s not nearly as catchy.

Bill is used to my freaking out, and has learned to gauge how seriously he needs to take my frenzy. Is the house on fire or is her bread overbaked? That sort of thing. When Jen was living here this winter, she would attempt to try to calm me down, using a patient voice (like the one she uses with her 98-year-old clients). She would say overly cheerful things like tell me what’s wrong and we’ll fix it together. You’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine. She did no gauging. For all she knew, the house could have been on fire. I guess maybe she thought she would have smelled the smoke.

I believe the thing that causes me the most stress is technology.

I love many of the things that technology has brought us. I love FaceTime and email and texting. I love Amazon Prime and Netflix. I love my cell phone. I love my Apple watch. See? I’m not anti-technology.

What I hate, really, about technology is passwords. I hate passwords. I hate coming up with a password. I hate remembering a password. I hate changing a password. And I have to do all of those things times two because I have relieved Bill of password stress. He has to handle Parkinson’s. He doesn’t need to handle passwords. I keep track of our passwords.

I am not going to tell you how Bill and I keep our passwords handy. I’m sure that all of the evil password thieves read Nana’s Whimsies, waiting for the old biddy (me) to share her passwords in the same way as she shared her husband’s full name a few weeks ago. But I will tell you how we DON’T keep our passwords handy. We don’t memorize them. If you will recall, I confessed that I can no longer make mental notes. I am now confessing that I can no longer remember a password. Not if my life depended on it.

Yesterday, Bill found an unpaid bill buried in our paper pile on our desk in the bedroom. “Did you pay this bill?” he asked me. Nope, I sure hadn’t. It was a paper bill, and though I may or may not have made a mental note to pay it, I didn’t. Pay it, that is.

So I got online to pay the bill. In order to pay the bill, I had to know my password. I, of course, didn’t know my password, and my system for keeping passwords was no help because the password wasn’t there. After spending 15 minutes or so changing my password, including several verifying texts and a couple of emails, I finally got on and paid our bill.

But then I tried to change from paper billing to e-billing. I bet I looked at the website for 30 minutes, and couldn’t find a way to make that change. I know it’s possible. I just can’t figure out how. So I finally sent an email to what I KNOW won’t be a person, but instead will be a computer, begging them to help me. We’ll see how that goes.

And one more thing about technology. My sister Bec bought a brand new television a month-and-a-half or so ago, for the express purpose of being able to watch her beloved Washington Nationals play baseball this summer. She already purchased the MLB app, but her old television was outdated and wouldn’t support the app.

Well, guess what? She couldn’t get it to work on her brand new television. After talking to many, many people at both MLB and Samsung, she finally got someone who a) spoke understandable English; and b) knew what they were doing. She learned that her BRAND NEW TELEVISION wouldn’t support the MLB app because it was too old. Apparently you need televisions that are less than two months old.

Friends, I think I’m getting too old.

Saturday Smile: Tumbling

As the clock tick tocks its way to the day that we leave again for Denver, I’m trying to fit in a lot of things in the next few weeks. Mostly I want to see my great nieces and nephews participating in their sporting events. I have seen Carter and Kenzie playing soccer. I hope to see Austin play baseball. I would love to see Noah and Asher play basketnball and their sister Grace run track.

Yesterday I was able to watch Lilly in her tumbling class. She was really quite remarkable. I’m pretty sure that I have never been as flexible as is she. It is a very small and intimate class, and the teacher is wonderful and very patient.

It remains to be seen if Lilly is in the 2028 Olympics, but it made me smile…..

Lilly is closest to the camera, and, of course, the very best,

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Wife Upstairs

I first read Jane Eyre, By Charlotte Bronte, sometime in high school, and it has remained one of my favorite novels. It has everything a reader needs in a gothic thriller. There is a plain orphan who grows up and is hired by a handsome widower who lives in a mansion in the English countryside. You root for Jane — who runs into obstacles again and again — throughout the book. It has a happy, yet unexpected, ending.

Rachel Hawkins, author of The Wife Upstairs, gives away any surprises simply by comparing her novel to Jane Eyre, something she does in her foreward. She loved Jane Eyre just as I did. Hawkins took on the difficult task of writing a novel with a comparable storyline.

Hawkins’ Jane escapes her past by running away to Birmingham, Alabama. She barely makes a living by walking dogs in a neighborhood of made up of newly-rich 30-somethings. She subsidizes her salary by stealing their jewelry that she knows the bored housewives won’t ever miss. Jane looks at her employers with a mixture of loathing and envy.

That changes when she meets Eddie Rochester, a handsome widower whose wife died in a boating accident. The two of them hit it off, and before she can say McMansion, he has asked her to move in with him and make the house her home. But it’s hard to get past Eddie’s wife’s legacy. Bea was brilliant and beautiful and the owner and CEO of a popular line of home goods and jewelry. Still, his interest in her seems real, and, after all, he gave her free reign to use his credit card. And he has even proposed to her. She begins planning their wedding, when she discovers a big surprise.

Jane Eyre and The Wife Upstairs have similar stories. The difference, however, is that Charlotte Bronte’s Jane was a sympathetic — even loveable — character. The fiery Mr. Rochester was heartbreakingly sad and sexy. The best friends — Helen, in particular — were good women who endured tough lives.

On the other hand, Hawkins’ Jane is inherently unlikeable. Her so-called friends are shallow and back-stabbing. Even Hawkins’ Mr. Rochester is dull and uninteresting. Nevertheless, the author’s writing is very good, and the story — while predictable — still kept me interested.

I can’t enthusiastically proclaim it to be the best thriller I’ve read this year, but I would recommend it to those who like thrillers, even if it’s just to see how the Other Half lives.

Thursday Thoughts

Rust Valley
One time I wrote a blog about something I didn’t think anyone would guess about me. What was it? I liked NASCAR. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not glued to my television on Sundays watching cars making left hand turns over and over again. But I grew up watching stock car races in my hometown, and to this day I like the roar of engines racing one another on a dirt track. Or maybe an asphalt track. Having heard that (or more appropriately, read that), it may not surprise you that one of my favorite shows on Netflix is a program called Rust Valley Restorers. Rust Valley, I have learned, is an area in British Columbia where there is a preponderance of old car collectors. The reality show focuses on an car collector named Mark Hall, his BFF, and his son. I am completely hooked on Mark Hall, both from his Canadian accent, his love for his cars, and his matted dreadlocks. I can’t stop looking at them and imagining how filthy his hair must be to maintain those dreads. There are three seasons, and Bill and I have just finished Season One…..

By the way, I also enjoy coloring vehicles on my coloring app. Go figure.

Easter Bunny
Bill and I hosted the Erik, Josey, Kenzie, and Carter, my sister Bec, and my niece Brooke and her fiance Alexander for Easter dinner. I made a ham and three — count ’em — three racks of lamb. We had fun, despite the fact that we had to all squeeze into our two little tables to enjoy our feast. Luckily, we all get along. At one point, as I was grilling the lamb, Erik came into the house from the garage and said, “Aunt Kris, is it okay that the grill is really smoking right now?” It really wasn’t okay. I ran outside and opened the grill only to find flames that could have potentially brought the fire department. Luckily, the fridge with the cans of beer are right by the grill. I grabbed a can and doused the flames. The lamb was grilled perfectly, with the outside nice and brown and the inside pink. God helps those who need it! We had carrot cake and brownies and lemon cheesecake for dessert. The Lord is risen.

Fire Up the Grill
Bill and I went to Bec’s last night for dinner. She grilled burgers. Why is it that someone else’s food tastes so much better than the food you cook yourself? We talked about travels from the past and wondered if/when we would be traveling again. It’s always nice to not have to cook, and we love spending time with my sister.

Moving Along
The other day, Bill and I went to an restaurant for dinner. It was with great surprise that we saw that the condiments were actually on the table…..

This is something we haven’t seen in a long time. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but it signaled to me the possibility that we might — SOMEDAY — be back to normal. Viva la normal!

Good News

When I was in Journalism School at CU-Boulder, there was a continuing motto that our professors taught us: Dog bites man is not news; Man bites dog is news. That slogan was my mantra during the few years that I actually worked for a newspaper. Write what the people want to read; write the stuff that is interesting and worthy of going to the page 12 jump in the newspaper.

(If a teenager has accidentally stumbled on to a blog named Nanas Whimsies, they are now wondering two things: a) Why does and old person think their lives and thoughts are interesting enough to warrant a daily blog; and b) what in the hell is a newspaper.)

I miss newspapers. I loved getting to work in the morning, pouring myself a cup of fresh coffee (and it was fresh because I was always the first one at the office and I made it myself), and reading the Rocky Mountain News. The Rocky was a tabloid-styled newspaper. For a long time, Denver had a morning newspaper (the Rocky) and an evening newspaper (the Denver Post). I was sad when the Rocky folded, because I was fond of many of their reporters and I loved the tabloid style of the paper. I clipped many recipes from newspapers and followed many columnists who inspired me to write a blog (though they didn’t know about blogs in the days of newsprint). The Denver Post still exists, though they struggle in finding their place in this world of instant news.

Anyhoo, back to the fact that bad news sells newspapers. My sister Bec recently sent me an article she found in The New York Times — a newspaper that continues to do quite well despite our 24-hour news cycle. It was written by a columnist named David Leonhardt, and was titled Is Bad News the Only Kind?

The columnist cited Bruce Sacerdote, an economics professor from Dartmouth College, who noticed last year that the news that he followed on television was different from what he read in professional journals. The news was always negative, while the scientists were reporting positive data about COVID. When COVID cases were rising, the media seemed twitterpated to report the increase. (By the way, the Dartmouth professor didn’t use the word twitterpated. That would be Bambi’s description.) When the numbers began dropping, the news media pointed to the places in which numbers were still rising. When it began looking like a vaccine was going to be available in the near future, the media talked about all of the possible negative side effects.

Sacerdote didn’t just present his thoughts as facts; he actually researched his hunch. He used some sort of fancy-dancy social science technique that classifies language as positive, negative, or neutral. Lo, and behold, he found out that his hunch was, indeed, correct.

I am not a brilliant social scientist, but I too noticed this negative bias when it came to reporting about COVID. I’m not suggesting that all of the stories should have been positive. It was a terrible time in our lives, and certainly while in the throes of our quarantine months, there wasn’t a lot of good things to say. We were all terrified, and would have distrusted any news that downplayed what was happening. Still, even then, they could have thrown us a bone now and again. Even a story about a dog biting a man would have been better than the constant flow of sadness.

While things are better today, I still notice that there is a lot of emphasis on the difficulties of getting the vaccine, side effects of the vaccines, or stories about people who don’t want to get the vaccine. While most people are still wearing masks despite the governor’s lifting of the mandate, we hear about the ones who aren’t. Yesterday’s headline was that it appears that COVID case numbers might be rising, but no context — are the people still as sick or are the symptoms mostly like those of the flu. I don’t know the answer to that.

I will continue to do what I have done for the past year or so — feed myself news very carefully.

I See You

Bill dutifully — nay, eagerly — goes to his boxing class every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I usually go along, but have little- to-no interest in staying for the whole class, especially since he likes to go 45 minutes early to do some basketball exercises with the others in the class. I generally drop him off and do something else.

I have taken to going to a nearby coffee shop that was recommended to me by my niece Josey. She and my sister Bec discovered it recently when Josey’s son Carter was playing soccer very close by. There is a section of central Mesa that is in the midst of being rejuvenated, and the coffee shop is in that area. It’s one of those areas that will soon be offering $25 hamburgers, but right now it requires one to look around carefully before walking from the car to the shop.

Thus far I have visited the coffee shop three times. Two out of the three times, a young woman — maybe early- to mid-20s — has been the barista. I’m an easy customer for any barista, as I want a simple cup of coffee, sometimes iced, sometimes hot. No half-cafs or double squirts or skinny anything. Just a cuppa Joe.

People my age are used to slowly becoming invisible as they age. I live with being nearly invisible. The more people are looking at their phones, the less likely it is that they will notice anyone, much less a nondescript 67-year-old woman who orders a simple cup of coffee.

The barista is an exception to the rule, however. The first day I walked in to the empty shop, she quickly put on her mask when she saw that I was wearing a mask. I ordered my coffee, and she prepared the delicious brew over ice. By that time, I was seated at a table with my iPad set up before me. I told her thank you, and she walked to the end of the bar where she worked on what I’m thinking was her college homework. Who knows? I invent stories about people.

When I was getting ready to leave, she asked me, “Are you reading from your iPad, or just looking at social media?” I told her I was reading. She asked me what book I was reading, and for a bit of time, she and I discussed books. It was such a pleasant feeling to be noticed by a 20-something woman.

Yesterday, she was once again working. I ordered my coffee, this time hot. She made it, brought it to me, and took her place once again at the end of the bar. She and I were both quiet for a while. We were the only two in the place. Finally, she said to me, “I did the stupidest thing yesterday. I was curling my hair with a curling iron, and I set it down right on my leg. It really hurts.”

I have no room for second-guessing how she could have done such a thing, because I do silly things several times a day. I nodded in sympathy.

“What do you think I should do?” she said. “My mom’s a nurse, and I have been trying to reach her, but she’s not answering her telephone.”

I looked around, hoping she was asking someone else because I really suck at anything related to ouchies. Alas, I was still the only one in the room.

“Well,” I said, “I would just clean it really well and bandage it.” (Hell, that sounded reasonable.)

She told me she is from west Texas, and came out here by herself. “I’m doing pretty well,” she said. “But at times like this, I really want my mom.”

I told her that my son had called me during his first semester of college, a few weeks after school had started. He had the stomach flu, and asked me what he should do. Mostly, he admitted, he just wanted to talk to me. Everyone wants their mommy when they don’t feel good.

Her phone rang just then, and she looked at me with a smile. “It’s my mom!”

A few minutes later, she sat down at the end of the bar again. I asked her what her mom had suggested she do about her burn.

“She said to clean it really well, put Neosporin on it, and cover it with a bandage,” the young woman said with a smile. Damn. I forgot the Neosporin.

As I got up to leave, she gave me a cheerful goodbye. “See you in a couple of days,” she said.

I left with a smile as well.

Easter Greetings

We celebrated the Risen Lord with great joy yesterday. The Bormans joined Bill and me, as well as my niece Brooke and her fiance Alex. I prepared a ham, and three legs of lamb. The table was crowded but full of food and love.

I hope you all had as good an Easter as did I. I will resume my blog tomorrow.