Ordinary Days

As I began preparing yesterday to return to Denver after our month in AZ, I started to think about my life. Not my big-picture life. My every day life. This distraction allowed me the opportunity to put off the nasty job of cleaning out my refrigerator, something I must do because much of what’s in it won’t be good when we return on Christmas Day. It is a job I heartily dislike.

Anyway, what I realized is that much of my life is quite mundane and predictable. I get up almost the same time every morning. My routine is exactly the same: I turn on my computer. While it opens up, I post my blog on Facebook. I then walk around the house and open the blinds and the doors, if weather-appropriate. I don’t make my coffee ahead of time, though I could since I get up so predictably at 5:30. So I fill the pot with water and coffee and press the on button. Once the coffee is going, I return to my computer to check my emails and make sure that Chili’s and Christopher and Banks has sent me their predictable five or six emails overnight.

And so on, and so forth. My life is so mundane that I won’t bore you with the rest of my day. I will, however, suggest that most of you could say the same thing. Activities one day are much the same as the next. But you know what? That’s alright.

Last weekend’s gospel was the first of several that remind us that our time on this earth is limited. The gospels between now and the beginning of Advent are the frightening reminders that some day the world will end. They used to terrify me, but as I get older, I am much more aware that none of us lives forever. (Although I admit I’m not convinced that Betty White won’t be the exception.)

It’s pretty clear that at this point in my life, I’m not going to come up with the cure for Parkinson’s. Writing the Great American Novel is unlikely. I’m not even sure I will ever fly first-class, one of the few remaining items on my Bucket List.

But I can be a patient care partner for someone who has Parkinson’s. And I can continue to write my daily blog. I might not fly first class, but maybe I will. In the meantime, I can afford to fly regular class and be thankful that my legs are short.

At the end of the day, my life is not terribly extraordinary. But I can concentrate on doing my ordinary activities in an extraordinary way. This is the best way I can serve God.

When you read my blog tomorrow, I will be traveling to Denver. So I may or may not post a blog on Wednesday. If not, talk to you soon.

Outlaw

Cowboys ain’t easy to love and they’re harder to hold
They’d rather give you a song then diamonds or gold
Lonestar belt buckles and old faded Levi’s and each night begins a new day
If you don’t understand him and he don’t die young
He’ll probably just ride away.
Mamas’ don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don’t let ’em pick guitars or drive them old trucks
Let ’em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mamas’ don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys
‘Cause they’ll never stay home and they’re always alone
Even with someone they love.- Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson

One day last winter when we were in AZ, we stopped at a little bistro near us for some wine and appetizers. We were with some friends and Bill and I had just seen the wild horses for the first time. Seeing wild horses makes me hungry and thirsty. It was happy hour, and we sat outside.

It happened that they were offering live music. A man of Baby Boomer age was playing guitar and singing country music. Random for something called a bistro, but it is, after all, the Wild Wild West. And he was quite good. Or maybe it was the wine.

He struck up a song…Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys. The people enjoying the music on the patio —including the four of us — were all swaying to the three-four waltz rhythm and singing along.

When he finished, the singer asked the crowd, “Does anyone know who recorded that song?”

Before you could say Ride ‘em Cowboy, Bill hollared out, “Waylon Jennings!”

What? Now how in the world did he remember that?

“How in the world did you remember that?” I asked him.

“Beats the hell out of me,” he answered. “It just came to me.”

Many years ago, when Bill moved to Colorado from Chicago, he went all in, as Bill is wont to do. He bought a pickup truck, a horse, a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. And he started listening to country music. And those were the days when country music was, well, COUNTRY. Willie Nelson. Glen Campbell. Johnny Cash. And Waylon Jennings. As we age, while we can’t remember where we put our phone, we can remember things like who sang what country song.

As an aside, recently we were talking about things to do in Mesa with these same friends. Denice told me that there is a house located on the Arizona Golf Resort property where the television program Bonanza was partially recorded. “You know,” she said, “where the Cartwright’s cook prepared their meals. What was his name again?”

And before you could say Little Joe, I said, “Hop Sing.” Now where in the world did THAT come from? Our friends must think we’re really smart. Ha.

Anyhoo, back to Waylon. Fast forward a few months. I’m watching the PBS Ken Burns series about the history of country music. As usual, I am Wikipedia-ing all sorts of things as I watch. One of the things I googled was the background of Waylon Jennings. Lo, and behold, I learned that he was buried in the City of Mesa Cemetery.

Can you say Field Trip?

So on Saturday, when Bill was so bored that he was considering cleaning his workbench in the garage, I suggested we take the half-hour drive to the cemetery and find the gravestone. We had planned on waiting for our friends who shared the Waylon Jennings song-recognition-shout-out by Bill, but he was mighty bored.

Voila…..

I’ll leave you with two things: 1) We didn’t leave the beer bottles and cigarettes. They were already there. And 2) That song is now so stuck in my mind that I don’t think it will ever leave.

Saturday Smile: Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)

This past week, I wrote about the foibles of aging. Suffice it to say, it ain’t always easy. But as Bec said recently, Baby Boomers are getting older, and we’re not going anywhere soon because we live longer. So there. Well, she didn’t say so there.

At any rate, I saw this photo on Facebook, and it really says it all, at least as far as I’m concerned…..

Seriously, I remember the lyrics. ALL the lyrics. From ALL the songs.

Have a great weekend.

 

Friday Book Whimsy: The Floating Feldmans

I admit to not hesitating to pick out a book because of the title or the cover. So The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Fiedland caught my attention on both accounts. I mean, really? The Floating Feldmans? Who couldn’t want to read a book with that title?

The Feldmans aren’t close. They haven’t gathered all together for over 10 years. Annette Feldman is celebrating her 70th birthday, and she thinks it’s high time they do. She and her husband David invite them all — their daughter Elise and her husband Mitch and their teenaged son and daughter, and their son Freddie and his girlfriend Natasha — on a Caribbean cruise.

However, it seems that each of them has a secret. David has a serious illness and they haven’t told their kids. Mitch has quit his job without telling his wife. His wife, on the other hand, has developed a serious shopping addiction. And how on earth is Freddie, who failed at nearly everything he’s ever done, able to afford a suite on the ship for he and his gorgeous girlfriend?

I will admit to having a bit of a hard time getting into the book. The characters seemed so angry and unlikable, and their snarkiness towards each other got on my last nerve. It was only the clever dialogue and the descriptions of the cruise ship that kept me going.

I was glad I did, because they all redeemed themselves in the end, and parts of the book made me laugh out loud. Since my husband and I like cruising, I could definitely relate to their cruising experience.

The Floating Feldmans was worth my reading time.

Here is a link to the book.

 

 

 

Thursday Thoughts

Everyone Loves a Parade

Rock Steady Boxers participated in the East Mesa Veterans’ Day parade. Bill and others rode the float and demonstrated boxing techniques, while on of the coaches and I held the sign. Maggie was there with Austin and Lilly, and it was fun to have someone special cheer for us as we went by…..

Bill is the fellow in the red shirt demonstrating his speed boxing skills.

I proudly carried the sign for Rock Steady Boxing.

Good Parents
After the parade, Bill and I went to Portillo’s for an Italian Beef sandwich. Bill was proudly sporting his United States Army hat, and nothing says Happy Veterans’ Day like dripping beef. I found a table while Bill waited for our number to be called. While he was waiting, a young boy around the age of 7 or 8 came up to him, shook his hand, and said, “Thanks for your service.” Bill told me about his experience, and we both decided that child has good parents.

Witness
But we also witnessed something unpleasant that day. I turned the car onto the ramp from Gilbert Road to the Loop 202, and picked up speed as we were going down the long ramp. Suddenly, the front passenger side door of the car in front of us (which was also picking up speed) opened, and a woman tried desperately to jump out of the car. Bill and I disagree on what happened after that. I think she was pulled back into the car. Bill thinks she made it out and was trying to jump over the barrier on the side of the ramp. At any rate, Bill immediately called 911 and reported the incident. Unfortunately, we had few specific details. We didn’t know the make of the car, only that it was small and white. Maybe a Kia Sol, Bill told the dispatcher. And unfortunately, we hadn’t been able to get the license plate number either. We did what we could, and I have been praying for the woman ever since.

Who Are the People In My Neighborhood?
Well, truth be told, we weren’t actually in our neighborhood when we spotted this sign. It was, however, too close for comfort…..

I sent the photo to our house co-owner Jen, and her response  suggested perhaps on the other side of the sign, it read:  We can flip you into a nice, updated Meth home! Sigh.

Beep Beep
On a happier note, our roadrunner is still running along our fence. We saw it the evening that Bec and I sat on our patio and couldn’t remember any names. We did, however, recognize the bird as a roadrunner…..

Ciao.

Do You Remember?

Sometime in January, Netflix is scheduled to begin streaming the sixth season of  Grace and Frankiethe wonderful comedy about two aging women whose husbands leave them for each other. While their husbands’ marriage to one another is certainly a part of the show’s narrative, it isn’t the driving story line. Instead, the program looks at two women facing the problems of aging.  Frankie and Grace stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, and they play their respective parts spectacularly. It is fun to watch them struggle with technology and their frustrations about their grown children and real-life problems like not being able to walk fast enough across a street to beat the light before it changes.

It makes me happy to see that television might — just MIGHT — be starting to realize that Baby Boomers are aging, and if we can’t laugh about that fact, we will live our golden years mighty depressed.

Another Netflix program that deals with aging is The Kominsky Methodstarring Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin.  The Kominsky Method also looks at aging, but from a man’s perspective. Douglas plays Sandy Kominsky, a failed actor who now runs a respected acting school. Alan Arkin plays Norman Newlander, a successful agent who not only represented Sandy Kominsky, but is his best friend. The writing is very funny, and the situations the two men face — just like in Grace and Frankie — are realistic. Things like death of friends and loved ones, prostate issues, sex when you’re a senior citizen are all dealt with in a funny and way that hits home.

In the first episode of Season 2, the two men are driving in the car. Out of the blue, Norman asks Sandy, “Do you ever forget words?” Sandy agrees and tells a funny story of a situation in which he forgot a word. Throughout the rest of that episode, the men keep forgetting words.

Perhaps I find this especially funny because I am the Queen of Forgetting Words. I recently texted my son to ask him: What’s the word that means a team that was expected to lose actually wins? A few minutes or so later, my phone dings. Upset? Court asks me.

THAT’S IT!

I’m pretty sure the reason it took so long for him to respond was because he took the time to look up nearby Memory Care facilities.

The other day Bec was visiting. The two of us sat out on our patio, each with a glass of wine (which Court would probably think I don’t really need). We talked about a variety of things from movies we liked to our favorite actors and so on. But much of our conversation consisted of both of us trying to come up with someone or something’s name. She couldn’t remember the name of one of her favorite Christmas movies (Deck the Halls). I couldn’t remember the name of one of my favorite Christmas movies (Love, Actually). Meg Ryan’s name escaped me. At one point, Bec and I were laughing so hard at ourselves, we were crying. “We need to use a sentence that has a direct object,” I said through my tears of laughter.

One of the critics from Rotten Tomatoes gave The Kominsky Method a pretty good review: Full of humor and heart, The Kominsky Method paints a surprisingly poignant — if a little paint-by-numbers — portrait of life and aging, elevated by two top-notch performances by legends Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas.

Can I just explain to this reviewer (who is probably 34 years old) that there is really no “paint-by-numbers” about their situation. That’s called Real Life.

And that’s why our children are already looking for rooms that will work for three…..

Serving Our Country With Honor

At Bec’s husband’s burial service seven years ago, Bill was struck by something that I didn’t even notice. Terry was buried at Arizona’s national cemetery, and so the military took care of preparing his gravestone. What Bill noticed was that the gravestone indicated that Terry had been awarded the Legion of Merit. That’s a big deal, Bill told me. A really big deal. Bill was so struck by this recognition that he refers to it often. And so, in honor of Veterans’ Day which we celebrated yesterday, he wrote this tribute about a man who served our country in an exceptional way.

By Bill McLain

About seven years ago, Kris’ brother-in-law (Beckie’s husband) Terry passed away. He had retired from the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant Colonel. In my conversations with him, he spoke of his early service in the Army, adapting computer programs to control the accuracy of artillery pieces to levels that artillery crews alone could not achieve. This early work with computers led to his recognition of the potential of computers and also led to his decision to continue his education in computer science.

Most of us who were in the military did not then – nor do we now – casually discuss what we did in the service to our country. Terry was no exception. That is why a notation on his headstone at the national cemetery in Arizona was surprising to even Beckie and his closest relatives. Although I had also been in the United States Army, I had never heard of this medal. I decided to do some research. This is what I discovered: The medal was announced in War Department Bulletin No. 40, dated August 5, 1942. Executive Order 9260, dated October 29, 1942, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, established the rules for the Legion of Merit, and required the President’s approval for the award. Approval authority has changed over the years since 1942. In addition, from 1942 to 1944, the Legion of Merit was awarded for a fairly wide range of achievements. This was because it was, until the establishment of the Bronze Star Medal in 1944, the only decoration below the Silver Star, which could be awarded for combat valor, as well as being the only decoration lower than the Distinguished Service Medal, which could be awarded for meritorious noncombat service.

Why was Terry awarded the Legion of Merit Medal? For a period of time during Terry’s military career, he worked in Washington, D.C., for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During that time, he worked on a program that was so confidential that he couldn’t speak about it to anyone, including his family. Bec speculated that perhaps this was when he earned the esteemed honor. We, of course, will never know for sure.

The Legion of Merit is in the following order of precedence of military awards and is one of only two that is given as a neck order (the other one being the Medal of Honor).

Sometimes there are heroes among us even when we aren’t aware of it.