Archive for the ‘Up Close and Personal’ Category

Coming To Grips With Necessities

Monday, May 18th, 2020

In addition to our Covid Shags, there is the matter (in my case) of the Covid Claws.  It’s been years — at least 30 — since I’ve had to bother with manicuring my nails.  For a few years it was Jan and, for the last 20 or so, it’s been Gina To The Rescue — every two weeks come hell or high water, as they say.  And then came the Coronavirus!

Knowing that dozens of others are in this same high water boat doesn’t help.  My nails are a disaster.  And it doesn’t help to remember that before their introduction to the wonders of acrylic, they were also a disaster.  Bottom line:  I have crummy nails.  They are weak.  They flake and peal and bend and break.  They are pretty much useless without being enhanced.

But, as with the other amenities of enhanced feminine allure — lipstick, mascara and all sorts of makeup; nail polish and “nail art” (as they call it); hair colors and haircuts; and all those piercing and waxing and tatting possibilities — I’ve more or less lost touch with the purpose of things.  I mean, what is the purpose of lips or eyebrows or, for that matter, nails?  Fortunately, except for a bit of makeup (when it occurs to me) my only indulgence has been those acrylic nails.

Works In Progress

I find that sheltering in place is a fine opportunity to get back in touch with the purpose of things.  Fingernails, for example,  “shield the fingertips and the surrounding soft tissues from injuries. They increases the sensitivity of the finger by acting as a counter force when the pulp of the finger touches an object.”  Or, according to the experts, that is what they are supposed to do.

Mine never did any of that very well and, so, enhancement has been a godsend.  But now that the acrylic is loosening and extending to disruptive proportions, I am having to remove the “fake nails” one, by one.  Right now, I am in Digital Transition which gives a whole new meaning to the DTs.  My fingers are sensitive, my own nails still too short and too flimsy to be useful, and my three stubborn, remaining nails, ugly  and bothersome beyond belief.

The big question, of course, is will it be Gina-to-the-Rescue as soon as she can be back to work?  Or will I be “sensible” and try to get used to the natural (albeit inferior) keratinous, translucent structures at my fingertips?  Will I be forward thinking and come to grips (so to speak) with the very real possibility that this sheltering time will need to be repeated?  And, besides that, what of my waning years and decreased abilities to keep up appearances?  To say nothing of the unsightly changes to my fingers from arthritis — as in why draw attention to them?

Fortunately, summer is on its way and nails grow faster in summer.  Perhaps giving my fingertips a break (so to speak) for the season will help me decide.

Ponderables In The Age of Sheltering

Thursday, April 30th, 2020

Ready-to-Go Basket of Masks and Gloves

It seems to me that we are already getting used to parts of the “new normal.”  Masks and gloves, for instance.  I have a baskets of freshly washed masks and disposable gloves located near our front and back doors.  Plus some in the car (and a leaky bottle of hand sanitizer, as well.)

However, every time I mask up to go out in public, I wonder how long I’ll be clear-sighted.  Do I have my glasses situated just right or will I fog up before I get where I’m going?  Contact lenses must be the answer.  As we enter the long haul with our various virus protections in place, contact lens manufacturers should do a booming business.

Or… I could just remember my very brief foray into scuba diving and spit on my glasses like I was taught to do with my mask.  Magically kept it from fogging.  I don’t remember ever hesitating as I readied to plunge into the briny depths but… somehow going to the post office seems to require more… what?  Formality?  Decorum?  Definitely a subject for pondering as I sit here sheltering.

Our Front Porch

And then there is the rather unnatural — “Speak for yourself,” says Nyel — focus on food that seems to accompany sheltering.  I finally took courage and weighed myself yesterday.  “Same- old Same-old,” said the scale.

It’s lying, of course.  These extra bulges couldn’t just be due to that old time-and-shifting problem.  You know, like with the shifting sands of time.  What am I doing differently now that I’m sheltering?  I know for a fact that it has naught to do with exercise.  That’s never been a part of my lifestyle.  So… why?  I ask you!  Something else to ponder…

One thing that requires very little pondering, however, is the diminished capacity of my mind.  Not enough mental stimulation — which for me has always involved socializing.  Being around people and interacting with them — not all the time, but periodically — is what keeps my imagination and creative juices dribbling along.

One “Friday Night” Before the Sheltering Began

Telephone, skype, email, and text are fabulous… but only as a stop-gap measure to in- person-up-close-and-personal encounters.   I’m thinking of inviting people over for “gate talks” as the weather improves.  They can stand at our gate, we can come out onto the porch and visit from twenty-five feet away.  Definitely worth pondering!



Reality Check?

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

Three-thirty in the morning is way too early to be wide awake but… it happens.  As always, I have a book within easy reach but… it doesn’t seem to be the answer.  So, I puttered for a bit in the garage (say what!) loading the recycling into the car for a run to Nahcotta later.  And then I thought I’d read the parts of the paper I’d glossed over last week.

Because of this, in December 2019, teachers did not need to have insurance premiums withheld from their paychecks because there was no January 2020 insurance to pay in December, since it would be paid on Feb. 5  

I thought about that.  Then I read the rest of the paragraph. The district will not withhold the same premiums from teachers in their March paychecks. But that agreement is in no way related to the district’s belief that it was done improperly, just that employees have a choice to keep the money in March as long as the district bears no liability if the insurance payment schedule changes again, Huntley said.

After the third or fourth read-through, I gave up.  It may be early onset something-or-other but I simply cannot wrap my head around those words.  I thought I wanted to keep up with my former colleagues and their concerns, but… maybe not now.

I’d like to blame the time of day.  Maybe it’s not too late for a short snooze before Big Red wakes up the sun.  Then perhaps I’ll try again.  Perhaps.

A Flowery February Friday!

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

Birthday Bouquet from John and Steve (and their garden)!

Last night’s “usual” Friday gathering was festive, fragrant, and generally fantastic!  Lively conversation, a good mix of “regulars” and “once-in-a-whilers” and food to die for — as I had hoped, the perfect birthday celebration!

Prompted by our Wednesday’s Community Historian lecture, I actually had some “sharing” to present to the gathering.  Tucked away in my closet are a number of my grandmother Helen Richardson Espy’s “unmentionables” dating back to the time of her 1897 wedding.  Her corset (which had both steel and whalebone ribs), a pair of her split-leg bloomers, a chemise, a petticoat, and a pair of size three shoes with bows decorated with seed pearls!  Among other things!

Roses from Cate!

I hadn’t looked at any of those items for ten or fifteen years and it was great fun to see them through the eyes of my friends and loved ones!  I also was reminded of two things about her courtship days that my grandmother took pride in for all of her 74 years.  One was her very small shoe size and the other was that my grandfather could span her 19-inch waist with his hands.  I always thought that was her own bit of self-pride.  It wasn’t until Tames Alan pointed out that these were common Victorian aspirations that I realized just why she remarked on those particular aspects of her youth.

Carnations from Maggie!

She also confided to me once, “It’s far worse to have had beauty and to have lost it than to never have had beauty at all.”  Photographs of her reveal that she was, indeed, a beauty and I always took her remark to be a lament as well as a reassurance to me that I needn’t worry in that regard.  I did, anyway.  Didn’t we all?

This morning the house smells of Daphne and birthday cake and still echoes with laughter.  Such a lovely evening it was!  How blessed I feel!

Flowers! Candy! Cards! Plus A Gift of Time!

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday!  My birthday was yet a day away when the cards and gifts began arriving!  A gorgeous basket of spring flowers from Charlie, a Birthday Gift Card from Marta, plus a box of chocolates from local friends and cards in my postbox from far-away friends and relatives!  Surely today, the day my 84th, is off to an auspicious beginning.

It’s the ending I’m concerned about, of course.  It was on this day a year ago that Nyel fell and fractured his hip.  He was on his way out to lock up the chickens for the night.  This date, a year later, marks the end of his first week of physical therapy and early glimmers of hope that he will walk again.  My fondest birthday wish is that this day will be a Friday “as usual” with no reason for EMTs or aid cars or ambulances.

Straight from the Coop

I think the plan is for a special brunch featuring (of course!) eggs from the girls and maybe even a birthday Bloody, though that will just lead to a nap when my plan is to spend some solid writing time.  That would be the best treat of all — four or five hours in a row just to sit at my computer and work on my book.  Under ordinary circumstances, I’m lucky to find two uninterrupted hours.  Surely, I can lock myself away from other duties and demands on this day!  (To which Nyel would instantly say, “Don’t call me Shirley!”)

And, anyway, we all have a bonus day tomorrow!  I was born in a leap year so tomorrow will be my 21st February 29th!  My friend and up-the-hill neighbor, Sandra, was actually born on a 29th but I’m not sure which year.  She’s younger than I by several leaps I believe, and I hope she is planning a big hoopty-do.

And speaking of such, in this household we usually don’t do anything special unless the birthday ends with a 5 or a 0.  So…Nyel has another year to get back into stride (so to speak.)   And everyone else… you have a year to get ready to do some serious partying!

Pay attention, Chicken Little!

Monday, February 24th, 2020

Helen and Harry Es;py on their 50th Wedding Anniversary

I have been noticing in my mirror lately that Chicken Little was quite wrong about what was falling.  And not in an acorn sort of way, either.  In a face sort of way.  Specifically my chinny-chin-chin.  (And never mind that that’s yet another fairy tale.  It’s the falling part that matters here, not the  hair on it — a totally different problem that I’m not yet ready to discuss.)

I believe I have my sainted Grandmother Espy’s chin.  Hers started migrating south by the time she was in her fifties.  I don’t think  I even noticed at the time.  She was my beloved granny and I wasn’t very concerned about her chin or any other individual part of her.  It was the whole package that counted.

Sydney, 1941

I was a lot smarter and a lot less critical eighty years ago.  It never occurred to me to notice what people looked like — and especially not how I might look.  I guess that all changes in the teens or, probably nowadays, in the preteens.  Up until that time, I don’t even remember looking in the mirror.  Except once when I was five or six and it wasn’t my face that concerned me.

I had been spanked for some transgression and I’m sure my dignity was hurt worse than my bottom.  I remember going up into my bedroom, standing in front of the full length mirror on my closet door, pulling down my underpants and looking at my behind with great indignation.  I was howling mightily (for my mother’s benefit, I’m sure) and howled even louder when I discovered that my skinny little tush wasn’t even one bit red!  How could THAT be?  I’m sure I had expected a hand print or two at the very least!

In the eye of the beholder… 2019

I console myself that my eyes are growing dimmer at just at the right time.  Not only does my own reflection seem pleasantly blurred these days, but my friends and loved ones are also are taking on soft edges.  Plus they seem to be speaking in more dulcet tones.  (Surely, I don’t need those pesky hearing aids.  Not yet.)

It’s probably a little late to be wishing for grandchildren.  Or for anyone else who might overlook the ravages of time.  Although, come to think of it, the chickens are always glad to see me…





Wouldn’t you know it?

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

After all our mice and rat (yes!! rats!!) problems last summer, wouldn’t you know that this year, beginning January 25th. is the Year of the Rat on the Chinese calendar.  I think I should have been anticipating that!  I was born in 1936 which was also the Year of the Rat.  Like all other members of the Chinese Zodiac, the rat comes around every twelve years.

Somewhere deep within me, I knew that,  But, I must keep it well repressed.  I certainly did not feel any affinity for the ones out in out storage area that died in the traps I set.  And I am keeping those traps current just in case.  I do not like rats in such close proximity.  No sirree!

Besides that, Nyel was born in the Year of the Sheep.  Rats and sheep, according to the Chinese zodiac, are not particularly compatible. As I see it, it’s too late now.  But, even so, don’t tell Nyel.


Hide-and-Seek and Other Childhood Games

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

I have trouble calling these “the golden years.”  To me they seem more like the Hide-and-Seek years.  Increasingly, a large percentage of each day is devoted to “Where are my keys?” or “Have you seen the book I was reading?” or “What did I do with that letter from the insurance company?”

I try to remember my father’s advice: “A place for everything and everything in its place.”  It is helpful, of course, if I can recall what the “place” for a particular thing is.  But I would be willing to swear that anything smaller than the couch or the dining room table can and does join the on-going hide-and-seek game in our house.  I’m almost always “it.”

Although, lately, Nyel has been “it” a few times which is kind of scary.  I rely on him to know (and remember) where the pieces of our lives are.  “Look in the microwave.” Or “I think it’s on the arm of the Morris chair.”  Or “Did it ever get in from the car?”  Those are the responses I count on to point me in the right direction.

Another game I seem to play a lot these days is akin to Pick Up Sticks.  I am forever carefully sorting mail or laundry or groceries and putting each thing in that proper place Dad lectured about.  Carefully so as not to disturb the order of those things that are already filed away.  God forbid a bill that needs immediate attention should go in the pile of correspondence that may or may not be dealt with this month. Or even next month.

The other day at lunch, Cherry said she tries to shelve her books alphabetically like we did in the bookstore when she was working for us.  “Great idea!” I thought.  Even though I KNOW a book is on a shelf in my office, I can seldom lay hands on it without a time-consuming search.  I wonder if she alphabetizes by author or title?  Which would be more helpful?  And what about the other books in our house — probably more than 5,000 of them?

And suddenly I’m into Twenty Questions.  Do you think this is what is meant by getting childlike in old age?  Perhaps…

Not a surprise… But even so…

Friday, January 10th, 2020

This morning’s email brought a “Google Maps Timeline.”  Sydney, it said, here is your 2019 Timeline update.  You’re receiving this email bccause you turned on Location History, a Google Account-level setting that saves where you go in your private Timeline.  Location history data also gives you personalized information on Google, including better restaurant recommendations and suggestions for a faster commute.  You can review, edit, and delete this data anytime in Timeline.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” thought I as I read.  “My private Timeline?  Depends what you mean by ‘private.’  That only I can see it on my computer — probably.  That I can ‘review, edit, and delete this data’ — yeah from my computer screen.  But it’s out there, you betcha.  I’ve known that for a very long time.  And having just read Edward Snowden’s book, Permanent Record, I’m even more aware of the fact that “privacy” is not a concept compatible with the internet, cyberspace, or any of the other things I don’t understand with regard to the magic of mathematics and electronics.

Edward Snowden

What I do think I understand is that some (not all) of the big guys like Google are now attempting to give us the illusion of privacy by increasing their “transparency.”  I wish I could call Mr. Snowden and get his take on this morning message of mine.

Having said all that, though, I’m pretty interested in the content of this timeline.  With the first click of my keyboard I learned that I made 57 trips in January 2019, the  first being January 8 to Seattle and the second on January 9th to Vancouver.  Checking this against the recently replaced 2019 calendar on our refrigerator, I see that Nyel had doctor appointments both those days — Seattle on the 8th, (check!) and Vancouver on the 9th (check!).  Further details about each trip include mileage, driving time, stops (Safeway, Starbucks) etc.  Even trips into Ocean Park to Jack’s Country Store or the bank are recorded.  And any photos you took that day with your cell phone!

It’s pretty interesting, actually, and since the data is being collected “out there” whether I want it to be or not, I might as well enjoy a little trip down memory lane now and then.  As I see it, I can now check up on my own personal “This Day in History.”  Woot! Woot!


Doncha just hate that?

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

The Box

We (mostly I) go though a lot of copy paper.  Especially when I’m in a writing mode.  For me, it’s difficult to proofread on the screen and, depending upon what I’m working on, there are often multiple drafts to read and correct.  Which means using lots of paper in my printer.

We used to pick up a case of copy paper every so often at CostCo but now that I’m the one who has to wrestle such items into and out of the car and into the house… not so much.  Hooray for Amazon Prime and UPS!  But when the package arrived, delivered directly onto the table on our front porch, I saw that the corner of the case was broken (or slit) open.  Otherwise, the box looked great — no dents, no scrapes.  Perfect!

I opened it right then and there on the porch and took out one package at a time, carrying two or three into the house and setting them on the hat rack just inside the door.  Eight 500-sheet reams altogether.  I was stacking ream four or five when I noticed that the corner of each individually wrapped package was ripped open.  Just a bit.  Just enough, perhaps, to take a look at the contents.  Every single ream!

Opened Reams

I immediately fantasized that the narcs were looking for some sort of paper-thin drugs sandwiched between the individual sheets of copy paper.  I didn’t see any dried doggie drool, but my imagination told me clearly that drug-sniffing canines had been involved — maybe as the box entered or left the warehouse.

Of course, when I shared my imaginary story with Nyel, he actually ROLLED his eyes!  I showed him the tears in the packages.  He shook his head.  “Well, how can you explain it?” I demanded.  “I can’t,” he said.  His next few words — “and neither can you” — weren’t spoken or even murmured.  But I could hear them loud and clear.  He did say, though, that perhaps I’d been reading too many mysteries…  Doncha just hate that???