Losing things doesn’t mean you’re losing it.

I misplace my glasses a lot but it’s not my fault. It’s Hugh Jackman’s fault. I have one pair for seeing close up and another for far away, and I switch them constantly. When I’m walking around with my far glasses on, I often need to read some small print—especially if it’s something important like a photo of a scantily clad Hugh Jackman. I may be 70 but I’m not dead yet. So I have to take off my far specs and put on my close-ups. 

I lost my close-up glasses for two days once. I gave up and made do with my previous prescription pair. Then Frank, my husband, went to get some ice cubes and there were my glasses, in the freezer. And I remembered I had stuck my head in there rummaging around, way in the back, for the Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and put my glasses down so I could see because they were fogging up. I got so excited when I found the Haagen-Dazs I completely forgot about my glasses.

Often I forget to pay attention to where I am when I take off the pair I don’t need, and I have to go looking for those glasses. Sometimes I’m carrying a cup of coffee and I put that down during my search, and after I find my glasses I have to go around looking for my coffee. And so on. 

At seventy the specter of Alzheimer’s always looms when you misplace something. One well-known sign is finding things you’ve lost in strange, inappropriate places. In a public service TV ad about Alzheimer’s, an elderly couple is looking everywhere for something the woman lost, and the man takes a break and goes to the fridge get some cream for his coffee. He removes the pitcher…and car keys are behind it! The mournful, worried look they exchange makes it clear they’re positive the wife has Alzheimer’s. 

I’m not worried. I didn’t even consider the freezer a strange, inappropriate place to lose my glasses. It made perfect sense. The worse thing about the whole affair was that Frank found out I’d been into the Haagen-Dazs.

“… there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” -Matthew 10:26

I searched an entire afternoon for my glasses once, and the cat had them all the time.

Good always prevails.

The suspect

Hope was missing. My daughter had found her under a bush, a baseball-size mound of downy fur peeping like a baby bird. An abandoned kitten. Michele brought her home and we all fell in love. I took her to the vet where I dropped a pretty penny for medicine, and bought kitten feeding supplies. Over the next few weeks we took turns nursing her to health. Even my husband, Frank, pitched in.

Hope thrived. Then when she was a year old she left our yard one morning as usual and never came home. We walked the neighborhood day and night calling and calling her, knocked on doors to hand out flyers, called shelters, did everything else we could think of to find her. 

A week went by. We were losing hope, and beyond sad. Then the phone rang. “I think your cat is under our house,” a woman’s voice said. She lived around the corner. She had seen her dog, Summer, pacing excitedly in front of a vent in the backyard that opened to the crawl space under the house. It had no screen. Summer’s owner, Jean, peered down and saw a little cat shape.

We rushed over, and Jean led us to the floor-opening in her closet that led to the under-house space. She lifted the lid and two bright eyes shined up at us like searchlights. It was Hope, tail wagging and vibrating crazily, her entire body wiggling. Frank lifted her out and put her in her carrier, and we took her home for a joyous reunion. She was healthy. There must have been mice, and moisture from several heavy rains, in her underground world.

Next day I brought a gift basket to Jean, including some very expensive gourmet dog treats for our hero, Summer. I did that even though I was certain Summer was also the beast who scared Hope under the house in the first place. No other animals hung out in Jean’s backyard, at least no animals that would be likely to chase a cat. I knew, in my heart, that Summer was both persecutor and savior.

Summer knew I knew. I gave her a treat and while she was gulping it down like there was no tomorrow, she sneaked a couple of sheepish looks at me. Doggish looks, I should say. She was lucky that I believe every being who sins, and then repents, is deserving of forgiveness—and a made-from-scratch gourmet Pup Tart.  

If anyone sins against you, rebuke them. And if they repent, forgive them. Luke 17:3-4

The Sensuous Art of Plum Picking

Plums from our backyard tree are incredibly sweet and juicy. I take them to church and put them in the kitchen, where we munch. If you stand outside the room you’d think they’re having an orgy in there. “Oooooh…ummmm…OMG this is sweet…ahhhhhh…just one more… ”

I wait for the Magic Moment.

It sounds like they’re making love, but they’re just in the kitchen eating plums I hand picked. Actually, “pick” is too crude a word. I don’t just pick them, I caress them. I fondle them. I squeeze each one very gently and if there is a softness, I tug it ever so slightly, tenderly, away from the branch. If it doesn’t come off with this gentle grope, I leave it on the tree. It is not ripe.

My husband is annoyed by all this. Frank is a no-nonsense, just-get-it-done kind of guy. He goes out with his bag and just indiscriminately grabs every plum he sees hanging. He pulls them forcibly, with lightning speed. “You’re coming with me!” I can almost hear him say. He’s done in a jiffy, and comes in the house with a big bag of hard, slightly green plums.

It’s easy to tell whether people are eating plums that Frank picked or that I picked. When they’re eating Frank’s, it doesn’t sound like there’s an orgy going on.  

English Grammar in Ruins

 

The great statesman had no idea what he had started.

It’s that rascal Winston Churchill’s fault. When he was criticized for ending a sentence in a preposition, he called it nonsense “up with which I will not put.”  He had a point. The rule against putting a preposition at the end of a sentence was silly. But sometimes traditions should be kept, because once they’re relaxed all hell can break loose.

Which is what has happened. Crimes of grammar nowadays are everywhere. My husband thinks I’m obsessive about it and maybe he’s right. I do have a lot of idiosyncrasies he puts up with. I mean, I have a lot of idiosyncrasies up with which he puts.

I keep having to correct his grocery list entries. I write notes. “Honey, ketchup is standard spelling; catsup is no longer commonly used except in a few specified regions (which don’t include ours). And Quaker Oats is capitalized because it is a brand name. Generic “oatmeal” is lower case. Also, mayonnaise has two n’s.” And so on. I put my lists next to his Quaker Oats* at the breakfast table. (*Note initial caps.)

I can’t help myself. I have a degree in journalism with a minor in English. Frank should be glad I wasn’t an English major, it would be even worse. I have no peace. Our language is constantly being abused and misused. For example, I see “it’s” as a possessive all the time. No no no! “It’s” is a contraction of “it is.” The possessive form has no apostrophe. “It’s well known that a cat likes to lick its fur,” is a purrfect example of correct usage. (I hope someone noticed the misspelling of perfect.) No one gets “it’s” and “its” right anymore, except for women in their seventies who studied English. Who knows, maybe someday “it’s” will be changed to “its” and vice versa. God forbid.

And all because of Churchill. He saved the free world, but with one little quip he set in motion the collapse of English grammar.

P.S. Note that “no one” is two words.  

Senior Discount Trauma

All of a sudden I felt ancient.

Believe it or not, I remember the exact day I got my first senior discount. I remember it because it was a total bummer. I wasn’t a senior yet. 

I suck at math, but when the young man at the register in Michael’s gave me my change I knew something wasn’t right. I had bought items totaling around $35.00 dollars, and gave him $40.00, and got over $10.00 back.

“I shouldn’t be getting this much money back,” I told him, confused. He looked at me blankly. I studied the receipt. 

“What’s this?” I asked him, showing him a credit.

“That’s your senior discount,” he mumbled.

I went into shock. I was fifty-two. In my prime. I hadn’t yet even remotely thought of myself as being old.

“Senior discount?!” I croaked ungracefully. “I’m not fifty-five! Why are you giving me a senior discount!?”

He just stared at me. He was tongue-tied. Then I realized he was scared, and I calmed down and smiled at him. “Well, never mind, young man. I can use the extra money. Thank you, dear.” I forgave him. He didn’t do it on purpose. 

When I got home I felt better after realizing that surely my white hair had caused him to misjudge my age. It must have been that, because certainly everything else about me was youthful. My smooth skin, clear eyes, athletic body…I could go on but don’t worry, I won’t. But the thing is I’m a towhead, of Scandinavian descent, born with white hair. Just like Tiger Woods’s former wife, Elin. And Greta Garbo, au naturel.

Funny how the years change us. Now, 20 years later, I LOVE my senior discounts. I get upset when they don’t give them to me. Bring ‘em on!

The Right Way to Give a Compliment

Their well-meant praise landed with a thud.

My 50-something girlfriends and I were walking along the beach one day when a group of 20-somethings passed us. They looked back at us, smiling, and said, “You guys look great for your age!” 

It was a beautiful compliment that boosted our self-confidence…until they added that bit about age. 

We had been having a perfect time, soaking up sun, cooled by a perfect breeze coming off a sparkling ocean. But our spirits slumped. The sun seemed to darken, the breeze grew cold, the sea dulled.

“How old do they think we are?” we wondered aloud to each other. Fifty? Sixty? Who knew? Maybe they thought we were seventy or eighty. The flattery had fallen flat.

We finally figured out we were putting too much store in what others think. When we got that straight, we bounced back. We look good for ANY age, we agreed assertively as we walked briskly on, shoulders back and heads high, keeping in shape and enjoying the once-again beautiful day.

When you give someone a compliment, you have to stop when you’re ahead. Especially if it involves a group of 50-something women who look great. Period. 

Fifty Shades of Meow

You’d be shocked to know what seethes under this cool exterior.

Cat experts nowadays say that cats can form at least 50 different meows that express a wide range of emotions: love, fear, bliss, distress, loneliness, surprise, shock…and more. It’s been discovered, evidently, that cats produce both consonants and vowels, and this enables complex expression. 

Okay, I lied. The real number of meows according to experts is 30. My title tweak was just too tempting to resist.

I’m pretty skeptical about this. My beloved, now-departed Buttercup had only one meow. It never varied but it meant different things depending on where she was standing. If she was standing by her food bowl and meowed, it meant she was hungry, so I fed her. If she was standing by the patio door and meowed, it meant she wanted to go outside and I let her out. Those were the only two things she ever wanted that I’m aware of. Well, she wanted to sit on my lap a lot but she just jumped up on it and settled in without asking. 

Actually, she did have a second meow, a sort of abrupt, short snarl when she was irritated: for instance, when she wanted more wet food and I didn’t give it to her. She got only a half can of wet food daily, and no more, vet’s orders. After that it was kibble. She did live to twenty, so I think her sensible diet was in her best interests.

I guess, if the experts say so, there must be cats that have a wide repertoire of expression and emotion. But Buttercup wasn’t one of them.  

I miss Buttercup, and her one meow, and even her little snarl. I really miss her cuddling on my lap. She wasn’t much of a conversationalist but I know she loved me. She was just quiet about it.