Hair Today

A million years ago — long before we bought our AZ house — Jen and I were visiting AZ. We used to take an AZ trip every Presidents’ Day weekend to visit our family. We were either eating or drinking with our brother Dave and talking about getting old. Ha. We were probably in our late 40s, early 50s, which ISN’T OLD. Anyhoo, Dave made Jen and me promise that when we WERE old, we wouldn’t cut our hair short like other old ladies.

We promised, but I’m pretty sure I had my fingers crossed behind my back. The truth is, it probably wasn’t but a few years later that I chopped off my hair and it has mostly been short ever since. He’s not the boss of me.

I’ve never had good hair. It’s just ordinary. My hair is straight as a board, which was popular during my high school days. In my senior photo, my hair is long, parted in the middle, and straight as a Morman. But even back then, it was very fine, which resulted in split ends. Back then, at least, I had quite a bit of hair. Nowadays, I’m waiting to wake up one morning looking like Howie Mandel. I did succumb to the pressure of the 80s and grew my hair longer and rocked a perm. But when the disco age blessedly ended, so did my long hair. Back to a pixie cut.

I’m getting my hair cut next week. It will probably be the last time my current stylist cuts my hair given that I will live 30 minutes from her salon. Wind Crest has a hair salon, which I will give the old school try. If everyone in there is sitting under a hair dryer, I will turn and leave.

That’s a silly notion, however. I keep forgetting that I’m a senior citizen as well, and I don’t sit under a dryer. Probably there are holdouts, mostly among the especially-mature women who live at Wind Crest. But for the most part, people in my general age group have short — and often very cute — haircuts. Spikey hair. Shades of purple amongst the gray. Times, they are a-changin’.

For a period of time in my youth, my mother went to the hair salon almost once a week to get her hair washed and styled. She would come home full of good gossip and hair that was as hard as a helmet. For the next week, she would sleep with toilet paper wrapped around her head. In the morning, she would use one of those plastic hair lifters and coax the hair back into its helmet shape.

I think that period was short-lived, however. And when she died at the young age of 68, her hair wasn’t pixie-short, but not long either. A sensible length. By that time, she had stopped getting her hair colored, though I came across a calendar recently that had been hers and Dad’s. She was still making perm appointments up to the very end.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for me to grow my hair long. It’s getting shorter all the time. My stylist is threatening to use a clipper next time.

Won’t happen.

Sparking Joy

It’s getting down to the time when we really have to make some big packing decisions.

I’ve cleaned out so much already. My desk is empty, because we only have room for one desk in our apartment, and Bill’s desk won. We’ve managed to combine all of our pens and pencils and staplers and Scotch tape and paper clips. And by “combine” I mean getting rid of half of them, because we both had the same sort of supplies in our desks. My clothes closet is empty except for those things I’m bringing along. I have managed to limit the number of puzzles I’m bringing with me to a mere 17, which means I’ve packed 30 or 35 puzzles in boxes to donate somewhere. You have no idea how hard it was to figure out which ones I will bring. Sophie’s Choice. I’m planning to donate most of them to Wind Crest so that I will at least have visiting rights.

Yesterday I cleaned out the plastic storage bins that contained all of my yarn. I was reminded that I have a seemingly endless amount of yarn. And I’ll bet I had 30 crochet hooks, most of which I won’t use, and many of which were the same size. These days I have to be careful about which crochet hook I choose because of the arthritis in my thumbs and wrists. I don’t know if Goodwill accepts yarn. It occurred to me that perhaps a nursing home might welcome such a donation. I’ll bet there are a number of elderly women who crochet but can’t afford to buy yarn or don’t have any way to get to a Joann’s to purchase yarn. Looking into that will be a goal for this week.

As the moving date draws near, we are having to take second looks at some of the things we have been planning to take. Do I need my juicer? Just where would I put that pretty hat box that contains one hat I wore exactly once for a 1940’s-themed party, one white straw hat that I haven’t worn in over 30 years (I’m pretty sure it made the move when we got married and purchased this home), and one mink hat that was my mother-in-law’s. Should I bring my canning pot? What about my pretty wine glasses that I used when I set a nice table?

It’s much easier telling Bill what he shouldn’t bring than it is to convince myself that there are things I shouldn’t bring. How can I convince him that we don’t need to bring the 50 or so DVDs that currently live in our basement when I’m bringing my Kitchenaid Pro 600. Vroom, vroom.

I managed to convince myself that the Royal Albert Flower-of-the-Month teacup collection is a necessity and must come with us to Wind Crest. After all, one never knows when one is going to have a tea party, especially when one lives with elderly women. Plus, they fit into my hutch, which was a big selling point.

Some decisions are easier than others. Given that I haven’t ironed more than a handful of times in the past 10 years, the ironing board goes bye-bye. We might buy one of the little tabletop models in case I have a sudden urge to wear clothes without wrinkles. No likely to happen.

As the days go by, we are going to have to use a lot of tough love.

Saturday Smile: Closing In

This week, we made another step towards knowing what our future holds. We learned that we will sign the necessary paperwork for our new home on September 19. We will be given keys — making it our own apartment to go into and out of at will — on September 21. Our packers will come pack up the house on September 26. Our movers will come move us on September 27. We (along with our packers) will unpack and set up our new house on September 28.

Being able to finally put these dates in my calendar makes me smile.,

Have a great weeken.

Friday Book Whimsy: Out of the Easy

There’s scarcely a better location for a gritty novel than New Orleans, and that makes the already-very-good novel Out of the Easy, by author Ruta Sepetys, even better.

It’s 1950. Teenaged Josie Moraine is the daughter of a prostitute. Her mother isn’t the kindly sex worker who does what she needs to help her daughter. Instead, she is a selfish, greedy, completely dishonest woman who cares little for Josie and doesn’t mind using her for her own selfish needs.

But Josie isn’t alone. The successful female brothel owner Willie Woodley has taken Josie under her wing since she was a small girl. She, along with the other prostitutes and Willie’s faithful staff love Josie and take care of her as if she was their own family. In a way, that’s exactly what they are.

Josie works at a bookstore owned by a friend, and is saving her money to leave New Orleans and attend her dream college, Smith. But an unexpected murder places Josie right in the middle, and her mother is all part of the game.

I loved the characters in this novel. But I mostly loved the picture of this textured city, especially in the 1950s. The contrast between the rich families who lived in the wealthy Garden District and the poor families who lived in the French Quarter gave the novel a heavy dose of reality. Still, the characters were not stereotypical, at least not all of them.

The story moves at a quick pace, and the ending was satisfactory, if somewhat predictable.

I really enjoyed this novel.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

Think Green
This past Friday, while in Columbus, I had dinner with a few of my cousins at my favorite Columbus restaurant, the Husker House. HH was the restaurant at which my family celebrated all of it’s special occasions. Furthermore, my mother and father had dinner there nearly every Thursday and Saturday evening. It was a tradition. So, in honor of my parents, when we dine there, we always have a martini. And we finish our meal with a grasshopper in honor of my grandmother, who rarely drank, but if she did, it was a grasshopper after-dinner drink (and it didn’t matter to her if it was after dinner, before dinner, or during dinner). Cheers Grammie!…..

It’s Magic
In Tuesday’s blog post, I included a photo of the people who attended our reunion. Unfortunately, there were two people who were unable to be in the photo, though they attended the reunion. If you look in this picture, however, in the second row from the back, on the left side, you will see a man and a woman who were not in the photo I posted Tuesday. One of our classmates is a professional photographer. He must also be a very high-tech person (which perhaps goes hand-in-hand with photography today) because he was able to add those two to the existing photo. It’s like magic. I don’t understand how he did it, but I’m sure glad to have the included…..

Ah-Choo
When I woke up Monday morning, I didn’t feel very good. For one thing, I was very tired. But I felt congested and headachy and just a tad under the weather. Oh-oh, I thought to myself. Wouldn’t it stink if I had COVID, and gave all of my friends from this past weekend the virus. I’m happy to say that I tested myself and it came back negative for COVID. And after a couple of good nights of sleep, I’m feeling much better. I think we sort of forget that we can get other kinds of viruses besides COVID.

Locked In
Tuesday afternoon, my phone rings and it’s Court. He never calls, so I knew someone was dead. That’s how I roll. No one was dead, but he did sound a bit discouraged when he said, “Mom, we have a bit of a situation.” It turns out that the construction that is going on all around the apartment where they are temporarily residing expanded to the point that it was blocking their parking garage completely. This wouldn’t have been too much of a problem, except for the fact that they have three kids in three different schools. They needed a chauffeur and I had a car that wasn’t blocked in. I was happy to be the Lyft driver for the kids, because I never miss a chance to spend even a a short time with them.

Ciao.

Saddle Up

My sister Bec tried connecting with me by FaceTime yesterday a couple of times. The first time I was at physical therapy. The second time, Bill and I were driving to Parker, Colorado, and I’m no good at the telephone and driving on the Interstate.

When we got to where we were going, I texted her: Bill and I are busy trying to get rid of saddles. She promptly replied — tongue firmly in cheek — I wish I had a dollar for every time I said that.

It was, however, the truth. Of all the things we have to get rid of, two saddles rank right near the top in the hard-to-find-a-home-for department. I’m pretty sure even Goodwill would have second thoughts about taking a saddle or two.

Bill is a member of a men’s horseback riding group called the Roundup Riders of the Rockies. Each year, these men haul horses up into one mountain range or another and ride for a week. This isn’t camp-on-the-ground type riding. They have a caravan that travels with them and sets up the tents so that when they round the bend, the tents are awaiting them. They belly up to the bar and enjoy a cocktail hour before they sit down and enjoy a delicious catered meal.

Bill no longer rides. Unlike many of the men who are members and who own ranches or ride often, Bill rode once a year. When he was younger, he could stand the sore buttocks. However, as he got older, so did creaking as he get out of his cot. So he pays his membership dues and let’s others do the riding.

As a result of his years of riding, we have two saddles in our garage. One was his everyday saddle. The other, however, is a silver-studded parade saddle that he used when they would ride down Main Street of one town or another amidst marching bands. It is lovely, but I have no idea what to do with it. Bill looked up silver saddles on the internet. The prices ranged from $400 to $45,000. I’m certain the saddle isn’t worth the latter. If it is, then I’m very sorry it’s been living in our attic. But it was a gift from another rider so I can’t imagine it is worth thousands. Still…..

The trip to Parker was a waste of time. The proprietor of the saddle consignment store looked at the everyday saddle and said no thanks. And she wouldn’t even bother looking at the parade saddle because she already has one for sale and it isn’t — selling, that is.

We drove straight over to a friend of Bill’s who owns a nonprofit that uses horses to teach disabled kids how to ride. They, unlike the saddle store, were happy to take the everyday saddle.

That, of course, leaves us with a beautiful silver-studded saddle that we can’t possibly move to Wind Crest.

Anyone have an extra $45,000 lying around? Yee-Haw.

Days Go Slow, Years Go Fast

MAKE NEW FRIENDS, BUT KEEP THE OLD;
THOSE ARE SILVER, THESE ARE GOLD.
NEW-MADE FRIENDSHIPS, LIKE NEW WINE,
AGE WILL MELLOW AND REFINE.
FRIENDSHIPS THAT HAVE STOOD THE TEST
TIME AND CHANGE ARE SURELY BEST;
BROW MAY WRINKLE, HAIR GROW GRAY,
FRIENDSHIP NEVER KNOWS DECAY.
FOR ‘MID OLD FRIENDS TRIED AND TRUE,
ONCE MORE WE OUR YOUTH RENEW.
BUT OLD FRIENDS, ALAS MAY DIE,
NEW FRIENDS MUST THEIR PLACE SUPPLY.
CHERISH FRIENDSHIP IN YOUR BREAST
NEW IS GOOD, BUT OLD IS BEST;
MAKE NEW FRIENDS, BUT KEEP THE OLD;
THOSE ARE SILVER, THESE ARE GOLD.

Joseph Parry

Last week I was walking across the stage in the gymnasium of my high school accepting my diploma, along with the 79 others who were in my graduating class. This weekend, some of those same people were celebrating the 50-year anniversary of that event.

Or at least, that’s how it feels. As the song goes, the days go slow and years go fast.

Bill and I drove back to the town of my birth and formative years, Columbus, Nebraska, this past weekend. For many years, I referred to Columbus as my home town. Finally, I realized that I had lived in Denver, Colorado, for many more years than I ever lived in Columbus. Still, to coin a phrase, you can take the girl out of the small town but you can’t take the small town out of the girl.

Forty-one of us attended the 50th reunion. That is a very good percentage, especially given that 10 people out of my class have passed away over the years. That appears to be better attendance than most. As we passed the microphone around at the banquet, one of my classmates told us that the Class of 1972 is envied by other classes for our strong sense of comradery and, well frankly, love for one another. He was the smartest one in our class, so I’m sure he was telling the truth.

At our 10-year reunion, everyone was talking about their youngsters and their careers. At the 30-year reunion, everyone was talking about their grown-up kids. At this reunion, focus was on figuring out how to live a life without any of these things. Winding down, so to speak. Oh, and a lot of talk about grandkids. There were even one or two people who had great grandkids.

I would say that the majority of my classmates still live in Nebraska. Many live in Lincoln or Omaha. Several have moved to smaller communities — many on lakes — where they can enjoy a peaceful life. Some moved to Colorado. The furthest anyone traveled was from California. No matter where any of us ended up, I don’t think it would take long for a stranger talking to us to suspect we grew up in the midwest.

That’s because midwestern people ROCK. I’m partial to Nebraska, of course. However, I’m sure the same could be said about people who grew up in Iowa or Kansas or any other midwestern state. We’re honest. We’re friendly. We work hard. We love our country. We are respectful of others.

We love football. It was fun to see that despite the number of years it has been since the University of Nebraska has had a decent football team, there are still Big Red flags flying. People drive red cars. The streets empty out when Nebraska is playing on the television. It so happened that the first game of the Nebraska football season was being played in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday. (I don’t know why. I don’t care why.) Everyone watched the game. Everyone mourned the team’s first loss, hoping that wasn’t indicative of the season. It probably is.

We all have changed. It’s inevitable. But it was uncanny how I could still recognize people despite our aging. Sometimes it would take a minute. When I figured it out, I would think, “Well, OF COURSE, that’s blah blah blah. He looks just the same, except with wrinkles.”

Thursday Thoughts

Contained
We will soon be downsizing by some 1,600 square feet, which means we have to get organized and creative. We decided the other day that we needed some of those plastic storage bins that fit under your bed. We happened to be driving past IKEA, so we stopped in to see what they had. We left with a trial storage bin for which we had high hopes. Our hopes were dashed when the container was about an inch to high to fit under either of the beds we’re taking. So yesterday we hit the big gun: The Container Store. All Things Organization. We did, indeed purchase several boxes that fit neatly under either bed. We will definitely be going back to purchase a few more. We have a separate storage bin, but it is only 4′ x 4′. Heck, that will barely fit my Christmas tree. We are going to have to get clever about finding areas in which to store items.

High School
I mentioned before that, with the arrival of Maggie Faith, the nearby high school now includes not 1, not 2, but THREE McLains. I asked their mother how things were going. She said that Maggie told her she passed both Dagny and Alastair in the hallway one day this week, and got no hint of recognition. I’m happy to say she seems to be settling in well. She made the volleyball team, so it will be fun to watch some of her games. Here she is on her first day, posing with her dad…..

Those were the days, my friends; we thought they’d never end. Isn’t she pretty? He’s pretty good looking too.

More School
And speaking of school, the Vermonters start school today. I’m not sure why they are starting on a Thursday, but what the heck? It’s Vermont. I learned only last night that 10-year-old Micah (who is starting middle school because that’s how it rolls in Vermont) is excited to be part of the school orchestra. He apparently chose the bass violin…..

……which is literally bigger than Micah himself. Best of luck to both boys.

Have a great weekend.