every girl needs a greek chorus

a blog about hope


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O Magnum Mysterium

O magnum mysterium,photo (14)

et admirabile sacramentum,

ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,

jacentem in praesepio!

Beata Virgo, cujus viscera

meruerunt portare

Dominum Christum.

Alleluia!

O great mystery,

and wonderful sacrament,

that animals should see the new-born Lord,

lying in a manger!

Blessed is the Virgin whose womb

was worthy to bear

Christ the Lord.

Alleluia!

Tonight, we come to the second greatest event in Christendom, the birth of Jesus.  Some will consider me an apologist for God, purveyor of myth (in the true meaning of a myth, I am), childlike (yep), superstitious (never), or simply irrational (sometimes).   Some may say that Christians have co-opted other traditions (syncretism), commercialized a sacred belief (agreed), and/or persecuted those who aren’t “believers” (regrettably).  But on this night, all I can see is the hope lying in a modest dwelling, not in a palace or floating on a yacht or drifting magically through the sky.  The baby is human and real and vulnerable and generating the love and peace and hope that we appear, at first glance, to have so little of.  It is the great mystery. It’s a gift.  It’s irresistible.  Seize it.

O Magnum Mysterium, from the Matins said by the Church at Christmas, comes as close to expressing how I feel about Jesus’ birth as anything I’ve read or recited or sung.  Two musical settings, written 400 years apart, particularly convey the mystery. The elder was written by the 16th century Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria and the more contemporary (1994) by American composer Morten Lauridsen.  Both are a joy to experience as a singer, the harmonies, dynamics, and movements telling the story as much as the words do.   Listen to the simple, ancient words in any of the fine versions on YouTube.

When caroling with friends, visiting shut-ins, or even singing in the bar of an upscale tavern, as much as we bring the good news of Jesus’ birth to our community, we share our own joy with one another.  At one stop, we were even joined by a kennel full of foxhounds howling along (no, it wasn’t someone singing out of tune).  In the clear, cold sky, Orion made his winter appearance, just as he did on that holy night.  Same stars.  Same creation.   Same love.  Same hope.

On Christmas Eve, as I sing with these same friends in the choir at the 265-year old church where I worship regularly, I will face this beautiful window.  Floodlights outside will illuminate God’s beloved creation.  The animals will breathe comfort. The angels will shine gloriously. Mary and her baby will glow.  The mystery will be clear.

Inside, the lights will dim when we sing “Silent Night” as the Eucharist ends, and most eyes will be damp.  What moves us?  Sorrow?  Dementia?  Hallucination?  An evolutionary, even reptilian, reaction to sound waves?  It’s a mystery.  The Eucharist itself foretells the greatest event in Christendom that we will observe in a few short months.  Another mystery. More improbability.  More irrationality.  More hope.

All of these mysteries engender love and peace and hope, if we embrace them.  It doesn’t mean that we put down our intellect or our reason.  It doesn’t mean that we dominate others.  All earthly life is messy.  Scripture does not promise us otherwise.  It promises that, in all the messiness of sin and pain and sorrow, God will continue to send that love and peace and hope that heals and sustains us. Gloria in excelsis!

As I age, I learn that I don’t need an explanation for everything that happens.  I know the nuts and bolts of life, the tools of physical survival, but the unmeasurable part of me, my faith, lifts me when I cannot lift myself.  How does faith work?  It’s a mystery, but to me, it’s very rational.  Like planking, which strengthens my physical core, I work on it.  As I work at staying in touch with friends, I work at staying in touch with God through prayer and study and fellowship and evangelism and stewardship, all of which are concrete and very real.  Frequently, I fall, but others, who also see the mystery, are there to help me upward and onward.  We are God’s gifts to one another.  We are God’s love and peace and hope.  So, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


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Thanksgiving Fantasy

Thanksgiving 2010 (2)

Thanksgiving past, table for 10, with the works, including place cards

Oh, God, I dread Thanksgiving.

And here it is, staring me in the face. I guess I have to clean the house this morning, after I get the stuffing made, the bird stuffed, and the dough for the rolls rising.

And find the skinny little candles that go in all the amber glass turkeys that march around the center of the table.  I’ll drag out the Lenox and my grandmother’s turkey platter and my silver and my Italian jacquard tablecloth with matching napkins that only see the light of day once a year.  That goes for the Lenox, too.  The Waterford stays in its storage box these days, while the equally fragile Riedel on the ridiculously long stems appears.

I see that I still haven’t dragged out the thousands of dollars worth of autumn candles and wreaths and other decorations that are stored upstairs.  Where’s the cornucopia that the Daughter painted in the third grade?  Good thing that I observe Advent, which starts Sunday, so I won’t be decorating for Christmas any time soon.

At some point, I need to change these yoga pants into something chic-but-grease-resistant and wash my hair.

Place cards.  Do I go with place cards, since we’ll have a guest, The Daughter’s beau?  Or is that over-kill?  There are only five of us this year, and most of us remember our names and pecking order at the table.  It’s over-kill, and we don’t want to frighten off this nice young man who bought me flowers at the ballroom dance debacle.

Oh, no!  I should have cleaned the ovens!

Does anyone really have that warm-hearted, sit-around-the-antique-pine-table-in-ladder-backed-chairs-with-a-smiling-lavender-haired- Grandma-in-a-lacy-apron-presenting-a-platter-of-bronzed-turkey-surrounded-by-fancy-cut-oranges-topped-with-maraschino-cherries-kind of Thanksgiving?  Did they ever?

Does anyone actually eat squash?

I don’t like turkey.  I don’t like cranberries.  I don’t like Jello.  And, most of all, I hate that slimy green bean casserole.  We don’t eat it any other day of the year, but, sadly, my family expects it on Thanksgiving because it was The Veterinarian’s favorite.  Years ago, another family always came for Thanksgiving dinner, and my friend recently told me that her now-married daughter doesn’t consider it Thanksgiving without the green bean casserole.  My own Daughter is now in charge of making it, because who can’t dump mushroom soup in green beans and top with canned French-fried onions?

I’d rather be remembered for my unique pumpkin pie which has ground black pepper as a key spice and candied ginger in the whipped cream topping.  The Daughter is going to make little pumpkin tarts.  Her date is going to make lemon bars for the family members who don’t eat pumpkin pie.  My Mother will make her candied sweet potatoes and charge me with toasting the marshmallows without burning them.  My Sister will make the cranberry mold, which is spectacular and which I can’t pull off.

I’ll get to flip the bird, not because I love to say that, but because The Veterinarian discovered that it gives a juicier breast to cook it upside down and then flip it.  I always held my breath, watching him flip a 24-pounder, but, without him and our friends, it’s just a 15-pounder this year.

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014, with unironed tablecloth, table for 4

It will all be perfect, because there will be alcohol.  Trapped in my house for six hours, no one will be driving.  I charged the Daughter’s Beau with bringing a bottle of Prosecco under $20 to go with the brie and crouton appetizers (thank you, Wegman’s) and my Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup. (See?  I answered my own question about squash.)  There will be a pinot noir with the turkey and an ice wine with dessert.

Then, I’ll box up the leftovers in every spare plastic container, unless they remember to bring their own.  I’ll throw the turkey carcass in my huge stock pot, cover with water and a lid and bring to a boil for 20 minutes.  Then, I’ll turn off the heat (without uncovering) and let it sit on the stove overnight, when I’ll finish the stock.

I’ll hand wash the Lenox, silver, and crystal, throw the linens in the washer, start the dishwasher, and hit the sheets.

Finally, I’ll give thanks that I survived another Thanksgiving, another chance to be together with loved ones. If I’m lucky, there will be another chance next year.  Same time.  Same place.  Same menu.  Same love.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Cozy Crock Pot Cider

In years past, I always made this hot cider.  You have to omit the rum, if you have kids running around unattended, or, maybe not, if you want them to fall asleep.  (Just kidding!)

½ gallon apple cider

1 quart orange-pineapple juice

2 sticks of cinnamon

12 cloves, tied in cheesecloth

1 cup dark rum (or to taste – optional)

Combine all ingredients in crock pot and heat until warm, about 1 hour.


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What I did for Love

FullSizeRender (17)

The Paula Deen look.

Happy 70th, Mark!

Hey, there!  Remember me?  The insane little woman with the smart mouth and great shoes?  The Champagne Slut who can’t get a date?  I thought I’d check in and let you know how busy I’ve been, just when The Holidays get underway and render me fully frazzled.

I’ve been doing really crazy stuff, like wearing yoga pants in public, platinum blonde wigs, and really awesome dance shoes.  And a black velvet, rhinestone studded halter dress (thanks to my excellent plastic surgeon) that no dignified 63-year old woman with a pudgy tummy should be caught dead in (maybe I should call that plastic surgeon).

When we last chatted in September, you may recall that I had agreed to participate in the major fundraising event for our local center for the arts, as a “Dancing with the Stars”-type amateur.  I got free dance lessons from a renowned professional ballroom trainer.  I got to buy a pair of $185 pink satin shoes that I will never wear again but are almost as comfortable as my Uggs.  I got to browbeat my family and friends to buy tickets and cough up money for my cause, because I had agreed to raise a minimum of $5,000.  It turned out to be the easiest part of the challenge.

So, you may ask, what was I, clearly not a dance novice, doing in the group?  I had been rejected in previous years because of my dance training.  Finally, I was old and feeble enough to level the playing field.  I haven’t had a speck of cartilage in either of my knees in over 20 years.  And, of course, there was that time when I fractured my patella in two places.  And I have degenerative lower disc disease (aka “sciatica” or, as I like to say, “I gots the lumbago”).  Plus, they told me that I wouldn’t be judged.  I had nothing to lose and everything to gain for a cause that I dearly love.  I was really excited to get started.  I hadn’t danced in 20 years (a production of A Chorus Line, a show about what some of us do for love).

“You’re the oldest dancer this year,” the instructor, 12 years my junior, explained at our first private rehearsal.

I shrugged.  I had met my fellow “celebrity” dancers, a roster of lovely people dedicated to fostering the arts in our community. There was the distinguished retired general, the bubbly business owner, the charming couple who met on Match.com (seriously, I don’t want to hear about it), the young woman who had danced in one of my productions of The Nutcracker 30 years ago (I am so freakin’ old), and the adorable teenagers who could be my grandchildren.

“Yeah, I could tell.  As long as my knees hold up, I’ll be fine.”

“Besides dancing,” he continued, “I’m going to teach you to have stage presence and connect with the audience.”

“Not going to be an issue,” I replied.

“I’m going to try to shake you up, so that if something happens while we’re performing, you won’t be flustered.”

“Not going to happen,” I smirked.  “I’m pretty cool.  Look, I’m 63 years old and have been performing since I was 4.  Nothing throws me.  Not wardrobe malfunctions.  Not actors forgetting their lines.  Not an audience member vomiting in the front row.  Nothing.”

I was once doing “theater-in-the-round” when, despite instructions from the ushers, an annoying patron wouldn’t keep his feet out of the aisle.  During an entrance in the dark, I leaned over to him and said, “Get your feet back under the table.”  When the lights came up, I was standing onstage, in character, looking him dead in the eye.  Those feet never appeared again.

The instructor looked skeptical.  “You’ll be doing the foxtrot.”

My Mother taught me the foxtrot when I was a kid dancing to Frank, Bing, and Doris on her 78s.  I didn’t want to be the nice girl.  I’m always the nice girl.  I really wanted to do the Cha Cha or Rhumba or something really — dare I say — sexy.  The Shrew in My Head grunted in disgust at my self-delusion.

“Hmm, sounds slow and boring.”

“Not the way we’re going to do it.  Think Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire gliding across the floor.”  Images of a short woman (me, not Ginger), overwhelmed by feathers, sprang to mind.  “I want to challenge you because you don’t seem to normally move in that flowing, elegant way.”  He must have seen me in “Waltz of the Flowers” in 1981.

He demonstrated a few simple steps, as if he was teaching “Jazz 101.”  I repeated them flawlessly.

“Well, you have good lines!” he said.

“I told you I was a dancer,” The Shrew in My Head rolled my eyes.

After six weeks, he was hauling me around the dance floor doing “twinkles” and “passes” to a song by Metallica that had been re-recorded to sound like a vintage 40s tune.  Every week, he added something new and a little harder.  One week, it was turns.  I am not a turner.  Never have been.  I made the mistake of telling him.

“Good,” he smiled.  “We’ll have more turns.”

“For God’s sake,” I complained, “don’t let me fall down.”

“You aren’t used to having people tell you what to do, are you?” he laughed.

Once, during a rehearsal break, he asked me, “Who are we going to be?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, are we the 30s or 40s?  Or, maybe, Singing in the Rain?  Like a black and white movie musical.”

“What are we wearing?”

“That’s what I’m wondering.  The other ladies are wearing traditional ballroom gowns.  I thought you could be different.  A little flashier.”

“No feathers.  I’m too short for feathers,” the image of a waddling duck swam around my head, “and I’d like my upper arms to be covered.”  Duck lips are the only acceptable poultry flesh on aging women.  I thought about Bedazzled capri pants and a turtleneck to hide the wattle that is my neck.

“I wasn’t thinking of that,” he answered.  “Instead of a full skirt, maybe something straighter with a slit.  How are your legs?  I don’t think I’ve seen them.”  I looked down at the yoga pants that I wore every week to rehearsal.  I’m more Jane Powell than Cyd Charisse.

Paula Deen back

$14 and a few rhinestones

I drove right over to the Goodwill store and bought the beaded black velvet halter dress for $14.  It met with his approval, but he thought it should have more rhinestones.  I bought Swarovski rhinestones and glued them on (half of which fell off).  I bought the platinum wig for $40 and will wear it again when I’m in the old-age home, I’m sure.  I agonized over spray-tanning.  I bought a vintage pair of clip-on earrings (they are to-die-for, btw).  “Give ‘em the old razzle-dazzle.”

Then, it all went to hell in a hand basket.  One week, one of the 8 million trees on my property fell across my lane, and I had to cancel my rehearsal at the last minute.  Two weeks later, I came down with bronchitis.  I went to rehearsal after six days, thinking that the virus had stopped shedding.  It hadn’t.  I gave it to the instructor and didn’t see him for two weeks.  My dance didn’t have an ending.  Not until last Tuesday.  Two days before the technical run-through.

“All right,” I marched in.  “Let’s get this done.”

He started to teach the new choreography.  More turns.  Rather, pivot turns, which ended in another turn and a run around and another turn and me on the floor for the finish.  Or something like that.  I never could remember.  It seemed like something from Dirty Dancing.

“Wait a minute — my leg goes — where? Between your legs? And your knee is going to be where?”  Because I am so damn short, I ended up straddling his knee.

[Let’s pause for a minute, so you can visualize that.]

It just didn’t work.  I went home, dejected, and tried to practice, but there were no knees at home with which to practice.  I returned on Wednesday to rehearse, wearing the blonde wig, safety-pinned to my hair, and the clip-on earrings.  I needed to know that they wouldn’t fly off my head during the turns.

“Um, this pivot thing,” I stammered, “I just don’t get it.”

“Oh, you’ll never get it.  You’ll only get it when you’ve been doing ballroom dance all your life.”

And that’s when my hackles went up.  The Shrew and I were both indignant.

“So, why am I doing this?”  I demanded.  I said much more, but I won’t repeat it here, because it was mostly profane, and I, after all, am a lady.

“Let’s go,” he held out his hand.  We went over and over it for 40 minutes. Instead of crying about it, I started preparing myself for the disaster to come.  At Thursday’s tech rehearsal, the dancers saw each other’s pieces for the first time.  I would have killed to be doing the waltz or the cute little Cha Cha or the zippy Mambo.  My ending was a disaster.  Twice.  After rehearsal, the instructor asked if anyone wanted to run through their dances again.

“I’d just like to learn the end of mine,” I immediately spoke up.  He worked with some of the other dancers.  I waited and waited.  Then, he turned off the lights.  Disgusted, I tore off my dance shoes and pulled on my Uggs.

“Oh!  Did you want to go over your ending?”

“No, if I’m never going to get it, I’d rather call it a train wreck and prepare myself,” the Shrew and I were really worked up.

“No, come here, and let’s do it.”  I stomped across the shiny wooden floor in my Uggs.  We started to walk through the final moves, but the soles of my boots stuck to the floor.  I kicked them to the side and stood in my bare feet.

“Plaster the inside of your right leg to mine,” he went through the motions slowly.  I followed him without thinking, trying not to cry.  In the last move of the dance, I easily turned under his arm and stretched out as he slowly lowered me to within an inch of the floor.

“That was it, wasn’t it?”  I was amazed.

“That was it,” he agreed, looking exhausted.  I took pity on him and called it a night.

Dancing for the Arts Finale

Virtually finished. Photo Robin Sommer, Images of Sommer.

 

The next morning, I emailed him an apology.  I’m a Type-A personality.  I expect a lot of myself.  Mea culpa. Blah, blah, blah — but sincere blah.

We all practiced before Friday’s preview show.  My ending was better but felt out of control.  On Saturday, there was another preview in the afternoon, and the pivot turns seemed to be coming together.  Between shows, before the black-tie Gala in the evening, I watched my beloved Spartans beat the Buckeyes and felt all the energy leave my body.  I just simply didn’t care any more.

The instructor and the emcee wanted my permission to tell the crowd that I was an e-Harmony reject, erroneously thinking that I might be embarrassed about that.  Can’t you just see me rotflmao over that one?

“Of course, you can!  Thousands all over the world have read about it on my blog (Why I’m a Proud e-Harmony Reject).  A few more in Harford County can’t make any difference.”

After my dance (which was finally good enough for my limited standards), I was interviewed by the emcee, a local reporter, who asked if it was true that e-Harmony hadn’t been able to find a date for me.

“Actually,” I corrected her, “after I took their personality test, they told me that they wouldn’t be able to find a date for me and never tried.”

Dancing for the Arts Auction (2)

At 63, still an e-Harmony reject. Photo by Robin Sommer. Images of Sommer.

To my shock, she called over the evening’s auctioneer to take bids for a date with me. I glanced over to where The Daughter and her beau were sitting.  The Daughter’s eyes were like saucers.  [My entire family puts up with a lot of crazy stuff from me.]

“Well, ok,” I thought, “I’ve been on so many crappy Match.com dates, I can have coffee with anyone.  And at least this one will be for a good cause.”  I got into the spirit by allowing myself to be paraded around the dance floor, blowing kisses, and posing with my leg sliding out of the slit in my dance dress.

700 bucks, people.  I brought in 700 bucks.

And now, the rest of the story.

It was a stunt to raise a few more dollars.  There was no date.  They just forgot to tell me, I guess.  Oh, foolish me!  I can’t even get a fake date!

Long story short, I AM a good sport.  I have incredible stage presence.  I never break character.  I have more experience living gracefully under pressure than any one person should have in a lifetime.  As one of my friends said to me this morning, “I believed it because I know you’re such a good actress.”

I am a great comedienne, because I understand that comedy isn’t pretty.  Think about it.  Anyone who appears onstage looking like a Paula Deen impersonator and doesn’t die of embarrassment is either a comedienne or has no shame.  And probably deserves whatever she gets.  However, I prefer to be the butt of my own jokes.

You know, I was planning to be cremated, but I’d love to be laid out in that wig and dress.  The mourners would probably think it was all a joke and expect me to jump up at any moment into a sappy rendition of “What I Did for Love.”

I’ve appeared onstage in lingerie and revealing dance costumes.  I’ve sung solos that went horribly wrong.  I once even prematurely revealed the name of the murderer in an Agatha Christie play because my brain had wandered off to what I was going to eat after the show.  Fortunately, the scene was so boring the audience didn’t notice, but the horrified looks of my fellow actors are permanently etched on the inside of my eyelids.

Life seemed so much more boring this morning, my trot a little less foxy.  I raised $6,500.  My fellow dancers, combined, raised over $102,000.  When you throw in the silent and live auctions and the raffles and other donations, we brought our community a little closer to building a center for the arts.  So, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

Event photography of the Center for the Arts gala fundraising event, Dancing for the Arts on November 21,1 2015 at the Maryland Golf and Country Club, Bel Air, Maryland. Photography by Robin Sommer, Images of Sommer.

Geez, I’m short! Event photography of the Center for the Arts gala fundraising event, Dancing for the Arts on November 21,1 2015 at the Maryland Golf and Country Club, Bel Air, Maryland. Photography by Robin Sommer, Images of Sommer.


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Resting Place

Resting place

His clan tartan and a wee dram.

Greetings from the Twilight Zone!  Rod Serling is lurking behind a tree waiting to step out and sum my life up for you in a few pithy, ironic remarks.  I wish he’d sum it up for me.  This story is so weird that you may think that I’m making it up, but I have witnesses.

Yesterday, I was cleaning out a storage room in the basement of our veterinary clinic.  I was sorting old records for shredding and reordering and stacking boxes.  A large box of holiday decorations (plastic pumpkins and black cats, a wreath of Easter eggs, and a revolving ceramic Christmas display of dogs and cats) was sitting about 3” from the wall on a shelf.  I tried to shove it up against the wall to make room for more boxes, but it was hitting something.  I slid the box about 6” to the right and saw a plastic zippered bag stuffed in the back corner.  In the dim light, I couldn’t tell what it was, so I pulled it out.  It appeared to be full of gray, unmixed cement.  I pulled it out farther and saw what appeared to be small white stones in it.

“Wuh-oh!”  I held the bag by one corner and made sure that the zipper was secure.  I was pretty sure that I was holding a plastic baggie of the Veterinarian.  Not a bag that belonged to the Veterinarian, mind you, but a bag containing what is left of his earthly incarnation.

Had I found this bag within a year of his death, I instantly would have been hysterical.  Instead, I smiled and started laughing.  No, I wasn’t delusional (I don’t think).  Absolutely nothing surprises me anymore.  I was pretty annoyed with the person who had hidden him there, but, just for a moment, it struck me that I was holding the love of my life in my hands for the first time in almost four years, so I smiled (and then cursed him in my next breath, before smiling again).

I told you — my life is sooooo weird!

I suppose I should tell you how the Veterinarian came to be resting in the basement of his business.  It’s not like he’s a vampire, and I keep his coffin in the clinic crypt (sorry, you know me; I couldn’t resist the alliteration).

In the summer of 2011, as fans of the British television series “Doc Martin,” starring Martin Clunes, we decided to watch an earlier series starring Clunes as an undertaker, “William and Mary.”  As we binge-watched the series on dvd, we talked about death and dying.  We agreed that we wanted to be cremated, his ashes strewn at sea or at his favorite dive sites, mine at my church.

Life may be weird, but you can learn a lot, if you’re paying attention.  When he died suddenly, three months later, I knew exactly what he wanted.  I asked his friends for just one favor, to take his ashes to his favorite dive sites.  They looked at one another and smiled.  That’s exactly what they had already promised each other.  One of them put himself in charge of making water-tight, weighted, non-floating (!) containers for the ashes, and those certified in the deepest dives, decided where they should lay him to rest.  I turned the plastic container of his remains over to them, and, when the Veterinarian’s Little Dog died six months later, I suggested that they commingle their ashes, so they could be together for eternity.

Within a year, his friends told me all about the dives and where they left him and how much that site meant to him.  One of the places was a spot he had planned to explore but had not visited.  Another was a place where he loved to dive.  A third was the place where he died.  A fourth was the place where he dived more often than any other.  I was content.

Until today.

Yeah, I could be angrier with the jerk in charge of the ashes than I already was, but I won’t waste my breath on him.  Once a jerk, always a jerk.  Nothing new there.  My immediate concern is that I have this baggie of the Veterinarian and the Little Dog that needs a final resting place.  I might put them into an empty wooden box that once contained a bottle of Macallan single malt whisky, and then I’ll toast him with the little bit of vintage 1965 whisky that’s left in the bottle.  He must have left it for just that purpose.  I’ll pull out my Book of Common Prayer and pray the graveside service that wasn’t said at his memorial service.  This time, the BFF can attend.

When do I send him off, yet again?  On August 18, which would have been our 43rd wedding anniversary?  On October 13, the fourth anniversary of his death?  On June 3, 2016, which would have been his 64th birthday?  I’ll figure it out.  Right now, I like having him around the house.  We’re both resting in peace.

DATE UPDATE

My online dating days are drawing to an end when my subscription expires on August 25, unless they give me free months.  I’ve run through all the interesting men, who weren’t interested in me, and endured the ones who were interested in me.  I have found it enlightening and sometimes harrowing.  And pretty depressing.

Just last week, I met a lovely, younger married couple who met online and encouraged me not to give up.  Of course, the odds are better for them than for me because there are more men in their 40s and 50s still alive and in “marriageable” condition.  Everyone that I know who met their significant other through online dating was under the age of 60.  What does that say for the eligible over 60 seeking companionship?

After spending time with 15 men in 12 months, I have concluded that men over 60:

  1. Are delusional and looking for the impossible. (Have your mid-life crisis elsewhere.)
  2. Are angry at their exes. (You know, I’d have left you, too.)
  3. Are looking for sex. (What was it about me that said I wanted you to grope me between my neck and my knees on our second date?)
  4. Are looking for a financial lifeboat after decades of living recklessly. (Sorry, I’ve been careful with my life.)
  5. Are looking for a housekeeper, cook, and playmate. (I’m a lousy housekeeper, reluctant cook, and tired of games.)
  6. Are on ego trips.  (You’ve dated how many women?!)
  7. Are clueless about what women want.  (See #s 1-6, above.)

Fifteen  dates and not one serious prospect among them.  Some had possibilities on the first date but blew it on the second date, when their true selves showed up, the bigots, the misogynists, the misanthropes.  I’ve been told that finding a mate is like getting pregnant; sometimes you just have to relax, and it will happen when you least expect it.  As a 63-year old woman who had a hysterectomy at the age of 24 and didn’t adopt until age 47, I don’t have any time left to invest in this theory.

I have learned a lot about myself.  I’ve learned what I’m willing to tolerate for companionship; being lied to, groped, insulted, and stood-up are not among them.  I’ve learned that the company of good friends is preferable to trying to figure out confirmed bachelors (look up the word “compromise,” guys).  As the Daughter said to me not long ago, “I’m really starting to like where I am in my life.”

Me, too.  I’m starting to find some peace and comfort.  It just may be time to kick back and relax, to put all kinds of things and people to rest.  So, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

 


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Brave Little Hummingbird

IMG_5712Day 11, post-hatching, the largest of the hummers has opened its eyes, and its beak has turned black.  It did not exhibit a feeding response but also didn’t seem too concerned that I was taking photos.  The smaller sibling remained curled up but is breathing.  I’m hoping to see the color of its beak and whether or not its eye has opened.  Both babies peep.

Mom only buzzed by once to find out what was happening.  She now lets me observe her after dark, when she is sitting on the nest, but I don’t want to frighten her with a flash.

I read that hummingbirds use spider webs to hold their nests together and to anchor them to branches.  The fuzzy understructure of this nest looks suspiciously like the BFF’s golden fur.

By the way, the photo is slightly tilted, not the nest.


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A Life’s Work

1979

1979

Thirty-six years ago today, the Veterinarian and I took a big leap of faith and bought the Fallston Veterinary Clinic.  We owned a car and a motorcycle, a sofa, a bed, wedding china and crystal, and a lot of books.  We didn’t know anything about Baltimore and even less about Harford County, where the practice was located.  The purchase price of $110,000, for the practice alone, was surreal.

At the time, it was an established practice in a ranch-style house that had been converted to a veterinary hospital.  We moved into the former house’s finished basement.  (That’s right.  We lived in a basement for two years.  Some of you can vouch for that.)  People knocked on the front door at all hours of the day and night, but we were committed to making it a success.

I realized that we were not living in the neighborhood of my dreams within a few days.  The nearest mall was anchored by Montgomery Wards at one end and E.J. Korvette’s at the other.  Strong young woman that I was, I cried to him, “How long do we have to live here?”

“At least 20 years,” he replied, “or we’re going to be out a lot of money.”

Quickly, we realized that we were going to be a success.  He brought new skills, charm, and compassion to a practice that had been struggling.  I re-organized the business plan and the facility, because, in those days, the spouses of veterinarians, out of economic necessity, took an active role in making their spouse’s practices successful. We all had our own interests, but it was something that you did together for your family.  In those days, veterinary medicine was no 9-5 job.  It was considered an all-day, every day responsibility for conscientious owners.

1985

1985

Within months, it was apparent that the building wasn’t suitable.  When we couldn’t negotiate a deal to buy and extensively remodel it, we leased a smaller building down the road.  With the help of my parents and friends, we gutted the interior, down to the cinder block walls, which was the easy part.  During the day, the Veterinarian continued to work in the old building, where we were still paying rent.  At night and on weekends, we worked on the interior of the new building, where we were also paying rent.  We reframed the interior, hung and finished drywall, painted and wallpapered, hung a suspended ceiling upstairs and downstairs, and built two cinder block runs in the kennel.  It took over six months of non-stop work.  Only the wiring, plumbing, flooring, and phones were installed by professionals.

As the county grew, our caseload expanded, and we hired a second doctor and installed computerized records.   As the Veterinarian established himself as an Avian specialist, it grew even more, and the little building couldn’t handle the third doctor that we hired.

Sure enough, in 1999, on the twentieth anniversary of our big leap, I asked him again, “Can we go now?”  Instead, in 2000, we really went for broke and built a 6,000 square foot hospital on the same property.  When the little building was torn down, we saved a piece of lumber from its framing that had been signed and dated by us and by my parents.  It was re-dated and incorporated into the current structure.  The new building was the fulfillment of our life’s dream and work.

2001

2001

In 2011, with the Veterinarian’s unexpected death and a series of unfortunate events, the dream died for me.  I have new dreams and new projects.  As always, I am moving forward and take great memories and stories with me. In about two months, it will no longer be “ours” (the Daughter’s and mine).   The practice will be in the good hands of people who share some of those memories, so I am content.

Many wonderful people and a lot of delightful pets have passed through the doors of all three buildings, and some of our current clients were on the books when we arrived in 1979.  We’ve had employees who went on to veterinary school or to start their own practices.  We’ve had employees who’ve worked for us for 30 years.  I am grateful to everyone who put their trust in us and helped to fulfill our family’s dream of caring for your family members and for animals in need, so who am I to complain?  Life is still good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

Don         Logo     The BFF & I