Tuesday, February 20, 2024

PARTY TIME! Archives from fifty-plus years ago

My sister saved a lot of correspondence from me over the years, and returned a bundle last year while downsizing from her home to a retirement community. I've just began to look through the folded papers, and this one took me back to a memorable event: Jay's surprise birthday party in August of 1968.

Jay was not happy as his twenty-ninth birthday approached. He told me he was feeling old--as if his life were not materializing the way he'd hoped it would. I could have taken it personally, but instead decided to cheer him up with a surprise party. I created invitations with my typewriter and carbon paper, then wrote what I hoped would look like a form that a doctor might complete when writing a prescription. Knowing this, you'll find the photo of the invite self explanatory.

The reason for the late start-time was bedtime. I wanted all four (ages 4-1/2 , 3, 2, and 3-mo.) to be sound asleep by the time the doorbell rang. Once asleep, all of them were generally good for the night, even the 3-month-old. It was a good bet; they slept through most of the party, and the several who did wake up got to meet and see the costumed "visiting doctors."

Our guests rose to the occasion, as well. We had a wide variety of medicine-related practitioners show up, including Dr. Scholl (my sister had created a way to wear a plastic foot on her head with a nametag), ranch veterinaries (a couple dressed like cowboys), butchers (another couple armed with cleavers and blood-stained aprons) who claimed to be able to cut out anything bad. We had a guy friend who came in drag as a nurse, and a female friend who came as herself when she got off her nursing shift from a nearby hospital, Sigmund Freud complete with notebook and pen, Dr. Quack (dressed like Donald Duck) and lots of others imaginative healthcare characters. Several friends showed up as themselves, but fortunately, they were not the first to arrive. The man who rang the doorbell as the first 'surprise' guest was an esteemed ex-professor who had retired and was costumed in such a way that Jay, answering the door, thought the man had truly lost his sensibility and was exhibiting signs of dementia.

Was Jay surprised? Totally. He had never had a surprise party in his entire life. He had not expected anything, either. (I'd hidden away food at a neighbor's house, as well as having several friends bring food/drink/cups/plates, etc. with them, so there was nothing in our home to give away the party-planning.) Did it help Jay feel better about turning 29? Yes, I think it did. There's nothing like the affirmation of friends to realize that being one day older isn't anything to worry about.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Hope and Love for Tig as Transformation Begins

At ten o'clock this morning, I stood outside in a heavy rainfall, contemplating what was simultaneously happening across town at Recompose.life. There the bodily remains of my firstborn, Tig, were beginning their transformation to human compost, the oldest and most earth friendly method of body disposal.

This morning at 10:00 Pacific Time, Tig's brothers and I took a few minutes to honor the beginning of the process that takes an average of two months. We were together emotionally, not physically, present as each of us honored Tig from afar with a few minutes of contemplative silence. 

Tig's wishes were explicit regarding what they wanted after death. They extracted a promise from me to choose composting for them instead of cremation. As willing as I was to make the promise and commit to fulfilling their last wishes in this regard, I had no idea how I would feel when the time came. Now I can say that, in addition to being eye-opening, it is an oddly comforting process, too. Realizing that Tig will be replenishing soil in southwestern Washington to nurture the rebirth of forestland is an oddly satisfying reality. It doesn't seem final or finite when there's a plan in place for physical rejuvenation of life forms.

After a few minutes of silence, I chose to play the original orchestration of Pachelbel's Canon in D from my phone to my blue-tooth hearing aids. I stood in the rain with the magnificent music flooding in, looking at the greenery within proximity and imagining this sixty-year-old person, my firstborn, becoming soil to nourish new life and help it flourish.

My blog post from December 8, 2010  (which can be accessed by clicking over the link) explains why I chose that particular piece of music. Canon in D still triggers all the hopes and dreams of motherhood held in that moment of first hearing it in 1979, as well as the intervening forty-five years.

May you rest in peace, dear Tig, aka Andrea Grace Glerum. I will always love you.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

My dear firstborn

Andrea G. ("Tig") Glerum 
October 18, 1963 - December 25, 2023

With heavy heart I am sharing our sad family news: my firstborn offspring, Andrea (aka Tig), died on Christmas Day at home in Everett, Washington. I invite my friends and readers to click on the following link to learn more. Tig's Obituary at Ever Loved.com. 

Friday, December 22, 2023

A rainy reflection

For me, the word reflection conjures up perception of a quiet time. A peaceful mindset and intentional desire to understand meanings and feelings resulting from a personal experience. Sometimes I reflect on a book I've just read, or a poem. Sometimes it's what I see or hear from my window, and sometimes I reflect on why I'm feeling am angry, sad, or lonely. 

Today as I walked the city sidewalk near my home, I came across a puddle leftover from rain that had fallen steadily all morning. 

The sky was blue-ing up and the outdoor light felt bright and hopeful. As I approached the low spot in the sidewalk, I was struct by the physical reflection of the tree directly overhead. It was stunning. I'm not sure I had ever even noticed the trees on this particular block. As trees go, they express the stress of urban living as it dares anything natural to thrive. In looking down (to avoid stumbling on the uneven sidewalk), I saw something above me, and that realization made me consider a new dimension of personal reflection. This pooling on the ground of liquid that fell from the sky and the glasslike mirroring it provided on this temporary basis was an invitation to look up. And that is exactly what I try for with intentional interior reflection. Thank you, rain, for this wonderfully direct reminder.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

An old woman writes to Santa

Dear Santa,

I can't recall the last time I wrote you a serious letter. Maybe third grade? I feel compelled to write this year because of my own experience of aging. Even though I’m quite a bit younger than you, I’m equally white-haired with a roly-poly circle of fat that’s quickly catching up to yours. For the purposes of this letter, I’m considering myself your peer.

As our bodies age, the filters wear out—you know, the ones that keep our negative feelings to ourselves or the rude comments shuttered. So . . . I’m just going to blurt it out—Santa, it might be time to step aside and let another have your esteemed job. You’ve been in the spotlight for several centuries of delighted anticipation and excitement. How about letting someone else have a chance at it now? Not only would the younger generation be ecstatic to have a say in North Pole Management, but as we age, self-care is increasingly seen a big factor in health.

Most likely you’re noticing that your memory isn’t as good as it used to be, not to mention your balance. What if you overlooked one of the children in a family? Stumbled or fell as you climbed into the sleigh? What if you missed a town during your deliveries, or couldn’t find your way to a specific house? What if you faltered over your famous words? “Merry Christmas and to all and uh . ..  uh . . . a good day . . . to all!  What if you called out “On Commet, On Cupid, On Dandruff and Vixen!” An anecdote like that would stun the world.

I can only imagine the challenges your eyesight must encounter on all those Christmas Eves with snowstorms, darkness, wind, and rain. Thank goodness you have Rudolph, or you would have undoubtedly given up driving years ago. I can’t imagine the stamina that it takes from you, year after year, to do your kind of global trotting. You have millions of devotees who would love to see you retired and getting well-earned ‘me-time.’

Believe it or not, I’m much more tolerant of old people, now that I’m in a retirement community. Old, frail bodies house more wisdom and insight than the young ones you regularly connect with, Santa. Plus we have delightful senses of humor and endless stories. You’d have activities to enjoy, and I’m guessing Mrs. Claus would be so-o-o-o happy not to have to cook and clean-up every night. You’d have time for legacy writing, too—and oh, how we would love the stories you could write. We’d devour them, then share with our children, our grandchildren, and generations to come.

Of course, you’re free to continue doing your job, but stepping aside would mean you could nurture the next-generation Santa to carry on with your heritage, as well as making millions of families happily overjoyed that you’re safe. I’d love it if you moved into my community, and I’ll bet I’d get a bonus if you did.  

Merry Christmas to you and Mrs. Claus, and thanks for such wonderful memories.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Look up, look out . . . great advice

We can get so focused on what's going wrong in our lives, it can be hard to look away or step back. I don't know where I first heard this admonishment when I was feeling down, but it has served me well: Look up, look out. Very few troubles don't fade back into the right perspective if I can get out of my own head for a short time. Looking up as I take a deep breath almost always helps me. Yet it can take emotional energy to do so when I want only to wallow in my own interior issue.

One of the best things about the location of my retirement community is that it's a high-rise, and I have an apartment on the tenth floor of the twenty-four-story building. My vista overlooks comparatively low buildings, allowing me to see a huge expanse of sky. Long story short . . . it  has never been easier to look up and out. After sixteen months of living here, I still cannot believe how lucky I am to see this much sky from every room in my apartment. Even though the location of my former home was very near the Sammamish River, I didn't see much sky because of the trees along the riverbank. Yes, it was a gorgeous outlook, but I had to walk outside and step away from the building to see the sky. NOTHING like what I see now.

No, I don't see stars anymore and I miss them. City lights are too bright. But when it's dark outside, I can see the moon and the brighter planets (Jupiter and Venus) from my easy chair, at least when their trajectories are aligned with my outlook, and there are no clouds. I also can see airplanes on a flight path that's frequently directly overhead. During the day I frequently seeing crows and seagulls flying on the same level  I'm standing while gazing out my windows. But the best view is just the enormous expanse of sky, especially at dawn. 

With the recent change to standard time, sunrise has become the highlight of own entry to each day. I'm still groggy from a my nightlong sleep when I round the corner to my combo living room/kitchen to be greeted by beginnings of morning light.   

How can a person be in a bad mood when the day starts this way? Yes, I look up and out every day in my apartment and feel fortunate to have the opportunity.

I have dozens of sky pictures, many taken during other parts of the day, too. I've just picked three sunrise shots to share. I sit at the table in the morning by the window and just stare as long as I want into the changing light. Even on heavily clouded days there are often color stripes that leak into the clouds through the rain. No wonder we imagine heaven being above us when we look up at such beauty.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Time to watch ice melt? Not lately

Today I was looking over the statistics on my blog to see if anyone is reading it. I can't tell who reads it, but I can see how many read a particular post on a given day or month and cumulatively how many pairs of eyes have seen it over its published lifetime. I'm impressed when I see the total number of published posts: 523 (since late 2009) and 397,830 overall views. That sounds more impressive than it is because judging from the world map of where viewers live, a great many are in countries that would have NO interest whatsoever in this drivel. However, based on some of the advertising comments that I routinely remove, my blog is interesting to readers for a lot of "wrong reasons," some of which--no doubt--could even be evil.
In the process of cleaning up stuff today, I found a few posts that never left their 'draft stage,' just hiding away waiting to be released by me for my readers. I'm deleting most of them, but I decided to share this one. If nothing else, it reminds us of the little things in life, and speaks to how I spent my time during Covid-shutdown. 

I am so grateful I can again go to the theatre and music performances, museums and shops. Thinking about having time to watch bubbles rise from hard-boiled eggs as ice melts is almost incomprehensible now. But it is also a lesson in the wonder that awaits us if we really look at what's around us

                                  *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****

I always chill my hard boiled eggs as soon as I take them off the burner. I am under the impression they will be easier to peel if they cool fast. Someone told me that years ago--maybe in high school. And I've always believed it.

To prove it's true would mean a scientific approach. I would have to cool half the batch slowly and other half with ice, then label the two batches, and pay attention when I finally turn them into deviled eggs (as these are destined to become), but that would be too much trouble for this old woman. I always just trust that advice and have a bowl of ice ready to dump into the pan as soon as I pour off the boiling water.

Today after I dumped ice into the pan, I noticed how pretty the ice was as it was melting. It was almost sparkling, so out came my cellphone and I shot pictures. An idle day, apparently, to have time for such silliness. But it's fun to look down and see the hard boiled eggs beneath the ice. I actually recorded several videos to bring into this post, too, but the videos refuse to be shared. I loved seeing the little bubbles of air escaping the eggs as the icy water cools them. It became a meditative experience--calming, actually--gazing at the patterns of bubbles.