Tuesday, April 22, 2014


The essay below was published in Northwest Prime Time in 2008.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When I was working, variations on the phrase ‘I’ve lost it’ often could be heard over the cubicle walls. The expression was a shortcut method of notifying colleagues you were in a bad mood, couldn’t tolerate any more work shenanigans, or were simple fed up with all the frustrations of the day. Now that I’m retired and mostly at home, the term ‘I’ve lost it’ means something entirely different—I’m an old ding-a-ling who forgets where she puts things.

Take the orthotic—the insert for my right shoe—that I haven’t seen since a week ago Tuesday. When I finished my yard work that day, I carefully removed both orthotics from my gardening shoes. I set them on the counter by the kitchen telephone, the usual rest stop for stuff on its way to the back of the house. The next time I saw them, ‘they’ (plural) had become ‘it’ (singular). Only one orthotic ended up in the bureau drawer where it belonged. The location of the other? Who knows. After a week-long search in which my husband and I upended the trash can, poked through garbage in rubber gloves, and peered inside every shoe worn by either of us in the past month, we’re blaming a poltergeist. Apparently the right orthotic took a walk.

Then there’s the ace bandage—the one my husband set carefully on the table where he assembles items essential for his business travel. When it came time for him to pack, the bandage had disappeared. Only after he give up the search and packed a substitute did it reappear inside the cupboard where we store paper and printer-ink toner. A bandage? In that cupboard?

I am wondering if I could offer something to appease the gods of forgetfulness. For many years my bureau’s top drawer has been the designated holdover for separated items: lone earrings, unidentified buttons, unpaired socks. It’s like a personal lost and found, a singles bar where individuals hopefully wait. Although the items usually find no relief to their yearning, occasionally there’s a joyful reunion. Perhaps if I took the most precious item from the drawer—that single ivory clip-on earring from high school days—and tossed it into the woods behind the house . . .. But I’m convinced that as soon as I did, the other would turn up—even though the earring was widowed in 1970.

Over the years I have experienced some significant disappearances—usually explainable by careless behavior. Take, for instance, the family album with three years of photos that went missing in 1979. Eventually I realized it must have been buried in the stack of old newspapers swept up in a generous impulse when the Boy Scouts came begging at the door for their paper drive. And those favorite, most-expensive-ever sunglasses stayed behind at the beach like naughty children, hidden among the long shadows of the summer evening. A new pair of leather gloves apparently made tracks when I stepped out of the car without looking down (at least they departed together), and my driver’s license slipped behind the toilet in a restroom at SeaTac when I failed to replace it in my wallet after flashing it at the TSA maitre-d. (That day I coupled my “I’m losing it” rant with another about skimpy pockets in women’s clothing.) Thanks to a very nice person who left a message on my home phone, my license returned to the fold (pun intended).

The recent episodes of the orthotic and the ace bandage feel mindless, the misplacements inexplicable. Are occasional memory lapses are part of the aging plan? Perhaps it’s good to lose something insignificant once in a while. Maybe peppering our ordinary days with small losses helps prepare us for the big ones, the heartbreakers. Maybe adapting to loss is designed to keep us emotionally toned. I’ll try to remember that as I hobble around on one shoe insert—still hoping to find its mate. At least I know what’s missing, so I haven’t totally ‘lost it.’

copyright © 2008 by Sara J. Glerum

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Egg Tree

For many years I have created an egg tree as part of our Easter decor. I was inspired after I purchased several beautifully decorated eggs in Munich in 1991 and wanted a way to display them. Somewhere I'd seen and Easter egg tree, so got the idea to fashion my own using a bare branch from a shrub or tree just about to bloom. When the branch is put in water indoors, it usually bursts into leaf and/or bloom, making a splendid scaffolding from which to hang the eggs. 

When we lived in our twenty-four-year home, I frequently snipped still bare branches from the star magnolia tree in the front yard. Usually the blossoms would bloom around the eggs. The effect was fragrant and spectacular. The last few years, however (ever since we moved), pickings have been slim for branches, as I'm at the mercy of our condo landscape team.
This year with Easter so late, I decided not to bother with an egg tree. The deciduous trees and bushes were already leafing out, and, besides, I couldn't find any plant that looked like it could spare a branch. When I realized this would be the first Easter ever when my seven-almost-eight year old granddaughter would be here at Easter, I felt sad. I really wanted her to see my egg collection. 

On sudden inspiration three days ago, I asked my friend, Gail, who was exercising next to me in my fitness class and a known expert gardener, if she--by any chance--had a deciduous branch she could give me from her lovingly tended garden.

Her answer was affirmative: "Follow me home! I know I can find something."  Within an hour I was back home putting together my 2014 egg tree, which I proudly show off here. Gail gave me a wonderful gift--most of a small tree that was about to burst into pink bloom. "I'm going to be taking this little pear tree out, anyway, here . . .," she said, chopping its trunk with her pruner. You can see how gorgeous the effect is.

Here's to generous gardening friends--especially the ones who have abundant flora in their gardens--and most particularly to Gail. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Eagles

Our neighborhood has hosted a nesting pair of American Bald Eagles
for many years. The tree is protected by federal law.
In the early morning hours, we hear eagle calls, which are surprisingly wimpy for such impressive birds. The "whitewash" (bird watchers' euphemism for bird excrement) has begun to appear on the road below the Douglas Fir where the old, familiar nest resides. Both the sound and the sight are a sure sign that spring is here, as the nesting twosome appear to be satisfied with these surroundings for yet another year.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Another Young Poet in Poetry Month

In prior posts I've shared poems written by two of my granddaughters, one of them then ten years old, the other twelve.

Here is a sample of the poetry my youngest granddaughter writes. She was six when she wrote this one, published in Rattle Young Poets Anthology 2014. I couldn't be more proud of the young poets in our family and would like to celebrate their talent during Poetry Month.

I Was a . . . 

I was a rat when the wind blew
I was a butterfly when the sun was out
I was a monkey when it was hot
I was a rain cloud when it rained
I was love when you needed it.

              By Mae  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Omni Abbey

This group was small compared to some times of day
 when I counted eleven waiting staff!
Recently we stayed at the Omni Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas. I did a lot of walking and a lot of museum hopping while staying there. Every time I returned to the hotel I was reminded of Downton Abbey in terms of the receiving line that waited to greet me. Not once did I have to open my own door in either direction.

Although my given name (Sara) means "Princess" in Hebrew, I generally don't expect to be treated like royalty, but I loved being treated as "Her Ladyship."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Angel sighting?

I was sitting at my computer a few days ago when I noticed my neighbor, Joe, carefully picking his way along the uneven underbrush by the river's edge. Officially known as the Sammamish River, the slough (as it's known by locals) is the sole outlet from Lake Sammamish into Lake Washington. As are most bodies of water, it’s seasonally fickle—lazy and gentle in the summer, strong and forceful in the winter. It gets especially lively during early spring as the mountain snow melts and spring rains descend. This year the water level has been especially high and turbulent.

As usual, Joe was wearing his billed hat to protect his bald head, but not as usual, he was carrying a machete. Joe is a nonagenarian and WWII veteran. Although he’s lively, strong and capable, seeing him with a lethal weapon got my attention. “Wow, Joe must be on a mission of some sort by the slough,” I said to Hubby, who walked over to the window to peer out. I was back working at my computer when I heard Hubby gasp.  

“Oh, no! Joe fell!  He’s fallen—and . . . I can’t see him!”  

I haven’t seen Hubby move that fast for a long time. He zipped down two flights of stairs, rushed out the garage door, and strode quickly along the canoe path where he crossed over into the underbrush. “Joe . . . Joe,” he kept calling. By now I was outside, too, standing on our deck with phone in hand, ready to dial 911, if necessary. (I knew I wasn’t agile enough to help physically with the rescue.)  I watched, my heart pounding, as Hubby traipsed through the weedy, uneven ground by the river edge, trying not to fall the same way Joe must have fallen. “Where are you, Joe?”  

Joe answered, allowing Hubby to locate him in water at the undercut at the slough's bank. I watched Hubby trying to get into position to safely reach him in the water and maintain his own footing. I could see Hubby was having trouble, and began to dial a neighbor to ask for help, when suddenly a man--a stranger--appeared, leaping diagonally down the sloped hill in front of our building.

He had dark hair and full beard, trim body, horned-rimmed glasses—was maybe thirty years old. I gratefully watched him race to Hubby’s side and kneel down to help. Together they pulled Joe from under the embankment and brought him up onto dry land. Joe stood up, dripping wet, and took the arms of both--one man on each side of him--and got his footing in the tangle of underbrush. Joe had no hat, no machete, but he was OK. Wet, shaken, cold, but OK.

Almost as suddenly as he’d arrived, the stranger freed himself and darted around the house the same way he came. I scurried to the front door to see if I could see him running down the street. Nothing. No one. As I ruminated, I realized others in the neighborhood couldn't have seen what happened because of the orientation of the houses. Our house has the only view of the shore at that particular spot. 

The stranger must have been walking across the pedestrian bridge that looks down at our townhouses and must have seen Joe fall. That means he was on the path outside our complex.  But . . . if so, how had he opened the locked gate? Had he leapt over our fence to come to the rescue? And how did he disappear so quickly? Leapt back over the fence? It’s six feet high!
The tiny blue dot seen from my office
window is Hubby, as he searched the next day
 for Joe's machete, which he found.
Joe had planned to help out the
gardening crew by removing a stray tree limb.

Neither Hubby nor Joe had the presence of mind to thank him— everything had happened too quickly—but all three of us saw him. Was he an angel? I’m leaning toward yes. 

Post Script: The picture to the right shows the view from my office window. Hubby is tall and standing up. Joe was invisible (from my window) after he fell.