Archive for the ‘Middle Age’ Category

In my last post, I promised to share more information about a couple of the books that are in this photo.

bookslibrary

Going to the neighborhood library and appreciating your tax dollars at work was #5 on Mary’s “Wintry Mix” list.

In that same vein (sort of) I respectfully piggy back on the reading theme in this post for #6.

Go local.

Okay, I really wanted to type “Go loco” above instead of Go local. But I didn’t.

Support not just your local library but the local authors and bookstores. And authors who write about your locale or community.

Honestly, not sure why but I always feel like I’ve got some skin in the game when I’ve got one of those books in my hands.

Like I get all, “That’s my neighborhood. My town. My state. My people.” You can just imagine me with a puffed out chest. And not a puffed out post menopausal belly. Full of pride.

About two months ago I met Jeanne Mc Williams Blasberg at this literary event in Providence. She was on her own so there were a couple of extra chairs begging for middle-aged occupants. Jeanne was kind enough to allow me (and a friend) to sit at her table.

Got chatting, as one does, and I absolutely did the whole Rhode Island thing. That is to relentlessly dig until you find out what or who we have in common. I usually have the energy for it. That night was no exception.

Well, we are both mothers, both lived in California and both did the expat overseas gig. Okay, sure, that could be enough to keep a semi-decent conversation going between people who just met- before the event and during intermission.

Then I found out she was an author.

Wait, what?

She has a book “Eden” floating out there and a new one being published soon.

Truthfully, between you and me, I think I might be an authorphile. You could put me in a room with Tom Brady and a writer and I be like, “Tom, I will totally hook up with you in a few. I swear. Just gotta catch up with Jeanne here.”

Tom Brady dropped like a hot potato by JBM. True story. Ain’t gonna lie.

I’m always curious about every human being but now I have questions galore for this stranger at my table. Her table. She was there first.

“Wait, how do you spell your name? Plasberg? Is that with a P? What’s it about? Where does it take place?”

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I might have been a little loud because, well, I am loud. That’s who I am. And it was in a dark bistro (I know that dark should not matter for sound but neither should immediate radio music turn down when looking for a house number while driving) with a crowd of other ladies all excited to be at a watering hole with their ilk. So their noise level didn’t help mine.

“Eden” is set in my home state of Rhode Island. A fictional coastal town many natives might recognize. A novel about a family and secrets. How the lens might originally be black and white but gets a little grainy and gray (Thank you, Jesus!) with each new generation.

I really enjoyed it. Jeanne incorporates historical events-whether economic collapse or a world war-as a back drop to give the reader a feel for the time and its social mores.

Okay, Jeanne is not native to Rhode Island but she has a place with us now. Not everyone can be born here. We just don’t have the room. But as people leave or the older folks depart then spaces open up and we need to be welcoming. And then supportive.

When I was at the library poking around I noticed they had a section, by the check out desk, that had books written by local authors or about the area.

Well, why wouldn’t I read them?

I brought home Mary Cantwell’s “American Girl: Scenes from a Small-Town Childhood.” Mary was an editor and columnist for the New York Times but grew up in Bristol, Rhode Island. This book is filled with lovely memories of her childhood in this seaside town during the 1940s and 1950s. It’s like finding someone’s diary. I feel like everyone has a story. Hers was a pleasant one. Added bonus was I had a better understanding of the town’s history after reading this simple, old-fashioned memoir.

As you can see in the photo I had also grabbed Bernie Mulligan’s, “I Made It.” A story set in the town of East Providence where I was raised. I didn’t read it yet but I will. I had too many open books at the time.

This book is about a woman who was fully paralyzed from polio. She also had four sons under the age of seven when it happened! Can you even imagine?

I am so surprised I never knew about this. It’s a story of family love and commitment. Her husband fixed up an old bus so that she and her family could travel. When he passed away the neighborhood kids collected 6000 books of Green Stamps to buy a Winnebago. Or a caravan for my European readers. The newly licensed young neighbors all took turns driving her across the country to the Pacific Ocean. Oh my gosh. That’s God’s work right there. Makes me proud to be a Townie. I definitely have to read this.

Couple of books from Ann Leary in that photo. Northeast girl living in New England. I love her books. She just gets me. LOL I mean, I just get her. She’s married to comedian Denis Leary but I feel like she actually might be the funny one in that relationship. These two books (in the photo) were good but I loved, “The Good House.” I remember laughing out loud while reading it. Very few authors make me LOL. I also really liked her book “The Children.”

Not in the above photo but here is another book I recently enjoyed. Staying with the local vibe.

tenemental1

When I was born my parents lived in a tenement. I get it. When my husband and I bought our first home it was in Providence. A condo on the East Side. In a freaking tenement! I still haven’t heard the end of that one. But when I walked in, after the Boston group that owned it did their rehab and tagged the three floors as condos, I fell in love with the original wood floors gleaming on a sunny day. I coveted the fireplace that had been there for ages.

We’ll take it!

What I didn’t consider was that the bathroom had no heating. At all. That original, like the drafty windows we could barely open, wasn’t always a good thing.

Still. So many fabulous memories in that place. No regrets.

Anyway.

I consider the purchase of this book a trifecta. I supported a local book store Twenty Stories, a Providence author and really enjoyed this memoir. Filled with quirky tenants, boyfriends and lore.

That’s it for my #6 on getting through winter! Enough about books already. I’ll lay off bookspeak for awhile. I’m exhausted. Yes, it has to do with books. I will tell you why in another blog posting. Not the next one. But someday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have said it more than once.

Autumn came so quickly.

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Seemed like I was just sitting on the shore, drink in hand and watching the evening sunset.

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Then this. Wham! My youngest was heading back to university.

Once the kid left it seemed there were changes every place I looked. Of course, I found some sadness in this. It was like a scorecard I was keeping. Yup, check off one more not-so-happy thing.

Keep in mind, I was also experiencing a New England autumn after being away twenty-four years during this very season. Lot of transitioning. On many different levels.

Leaves on the trees turned glorious, riotous shades and then fluttered to the ground. Skeletons in their wake.

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The ice cream shops were now sporting signs like “Closed For The Season” and “See You In The Spring!”

Del’s, an extremely popular Rhode Island frozen lemonade business, shuttered their stands and trucks instantly went into hibernation.

The birds, who were annoyingly loud outside our bedroom window in the wee hours of the morning, silenced overnight.

All of the neat little nests dotting our yard and stuffed under the eaves had “vacancy” signs on them.

No more pleasure boats zipping down the bay. Now they are white, shrink wrapped objects perched on steel stands and peppering boatyards all over the state.

The sun setting just minutes after my afternoon tea. Okay, I don’t have an afternoon tea but it sounded so good. My point is the sunset was no longer an evening thing.

Even our compost bin eventually went quiet. Crickets. Anyone who composts food and plant scraps knows you practically need a pair of goggles or a gas mask when you open the lid in the summer. Especially if it wasn’t recently turned. Smells and a million, billion fruit flies make a fruit-line to your face. No activity, at all, once temperatures drop.

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But there was one thing that really made me realize the wonderful summer season came to an end and it sort of made me sad. Not as sad as the youngest leaving or as sad as losing and missing our loved ones. But still. Like it was the last and final straw of summer.

The osprey left.

Ospreys are magnificent birds of prey. Huge raptors. Looks like a big hawk or eagle. Moonlight as fishermen. Has a few young ones in the Spring. And then once autumn arrives it quickly flies off in the direction of South America. The ginormous nests, a convenient five minute walk from our house, are in the marshland and built on tall wooden roosts. Now totally empty.

ospreynest

When I saw the empty nest my eyes filled up. Silly really. Because I know they are coming back in the Spring. I also realize it was some type of temporary Mommy transference phenomenon.

Summer was truly gone.

So, what to do?

The only thing is to shake if off and approach autumn with gusto. Enjoy every minute. Be glad of the different seasons because it is a continual promise. When one ends another beautiful season begins.

Sometimes that is easier said than done. Especially when the afternoon sky is dark and it gets cold. Autumn quickly becomes winter.

In the coming days I will share things that have enhanced and cheered my autumn and winter. I’m normally a happy sort and have been enjoying it. It does not have to be gloomy. It’s all up to me. It’s all up to you.

While we sit and wait for the osprey’s return.

 

 

 

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I ask a lot of questions. I’m a curious sort. Especially now that I am older and no longer care if my questions are deemed silly.

Ran into the grocery the other day for capers. I asked the guy who was stocking the shelves where I could locate them. He got up and showed me where they were in the next aisle. He went back to work.

I realized then that I really didn’t know what a caper is and I wanted to know. I was spending nearly $5.00 USD on a small bottle of it.

Sure, I could have left.

I turned around and went back to the man.

I said, “Hey.”

He replied, “Hey.”

I continued, “What exactly is a caper?”

He looks at me and says, “I really don’t know.”

Gets up off his stool.

I say, “No bother. It’s okay.”

He says, “No, now you have me curious.”

I ask, “You going to google it?” Lol.

There is a young female employee. He asks her.

She says, “I don’t know but my mother uses them in her German meals.”

So she googles it.

A caper is a small edible flower bud. Comes from a bush native to Mediterranean region.

 

 

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My dogs come to me.

That’s an expression I have used on occasion.  I picked it up from my friend, Mary Ann, years ago.

It’s meant to convey, with a sort of cocky bent, that one doesn’t go chasing after dogs. They should come to you.

When we use the phrase, though, we are not actually referring to dogs.

I think I have had this attitude toward making new friends in Delhi. Waiting for my dogs to come to me. Not really putting much effort into it. Not chasing anyone.

Sure, I sent a few emails to groups, organizations, etc.

When I didn’t receive any replies I just let it go. I’ll be in and out of Delhi so was sort of thinking exactly how much time/energy do I want to sink into this.

A friend, over dinner, said that maybe I just need to put myself out there a bit more.

Absolutely correct.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my own company. I’m so easy going. LOL

But I realized I do want to put energy into bonding with people while I am living here. I was thinking it sure would be nice to explore Delhi with friends.

So, the dinner, where the sage advice was offered, was on a Friday evening. The following day my husband and I were pulling into our neighborhood after running some errands. I spy a woman on the street strolling along with her little girl.

An expat neighbor perhaps?

I wave from the car. She waved back with a quizzical look.

Glance at my husband as I’m heading out of the car, with a determined expression on my face. Think of “I’m going in…” or “Here goes nothing!”

I actually say, “I am going to talk to that woman.”

And talk I did.

She was sooo lovely.

I fell in love with her right away. You know that feeling. When you immediately hit it off with someone.

Yay!!!!

Lives a couple of houses down from us. Works at the Swiss Embassy. Loves living in Delhi. Husband works for the Foreign Service.

But.

She was moving to the USA in two weeks.

Oh, rats! That is some dumb luck. Can’t be investing too much time there.

Anyway, it was nice to chat with her. She took us over to her house. Met her other kids. Asked if we wanted a drink. Very sweet. We declined but visited for just a little bit and then we went home.

Oh, well, I tried.

When we got back to the house my husband couldn’t find my US sim card. Because I had taken off the phone’s protective cover (where my sims roam happily about) so I could charge the phone with his case in the car. He thought it was in his pocket.

Maybe it was dropped while we were at our neighbor’s house.

So, I am in total Nancy Drew mode with eyes glued on the street. Looking for a needle in a haystack. Because those suckers are small. I retrace our steps back to neighbor’s house. Ask one of the kids to bring me to her mother. She is having tea with a woman named Nathalie who was picking up her child. Makes introductions.

I say, “So very sorry to intrude.”

Don’t find the sim card. On my way out of her home husband calls and says he found it. Great. I bid them a fond adieu and head back home.

I never saw the lovely Swiss lady again.

I continued to walk in the park each day for an hour. Got to keep my girlish figure. Or rather to find it again somewhere under the empty nest, smoking cessation, 0 friend list, twenty pound weight gain.

On one of my walks I saw a lady walking towards me. Figured she was an expat. I smile and say hello.

Side note: I had told my friend, Nancy, that I was going to say hi to every single lady/expat in the park as a way of putting myself out there. Just a little human experiment to pass the time. She was like okay, good luck with that.

The woman returns my smile with a cheerful one of her own. And we continue to walk in opposite directions.

A few days later I am huffing and puffing through the park when I see a woman who looks familiar. I think I know her. Can’t place her. Think she was woman I saw during a previous walk in the park.

She is heading toward me and smiles at me. I return the smile and say, “We should be walking together!!!”

The woman stops, does a turnabout, grabs my arm and we are now walking together in the same direction.

As we are walking, she says, “I thought I knew you!”

How does she know me???

She tells me that she remembered me from the day I was looking for the sim card at the Swiss lady’s home.

This was Nathalie!

Anyway, small world. We walked for an hour together. I heard all about her world. And she heard about mine.

She asks if I heard about this organization called Delhi Network. I told her I don’t think I had and I am a pretty good researcher. If I did, maybe the website wasn’t working when I checked.

She used to attend before she started working and said that expats (mostly women) meet each week for a coffee morning at a hotel. Almost in my own backyard. They have lectures, excursions, educational tours, etc.

Nathalie said I should just show up but she would double check which day the coffee was held.

That evening she texted me with the details.

I attended the next coffee, signed up with the group and started making pals. Went on a city tour, wine tasting in the country, frequented bazaars, etc.

I never saw Nathalie again. She was a teacher at the German school. Maybe she even moved by now.

But I might never have met her if I didn’t put myself out there and forced myself to talk to the young mother strolling on the street.

It was just making the effort.

A step in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When my Auntie Maureen lost her husband, Uncle Stiophan, many years ago I remember she wrote, “Life will never be the same again.”

That is certainly true. When you lose a life long partner it will absolutely never be the same again.

But life does continue. Just differently.

I was doing some research the other day. Genealogy. Like I do.

Came across a gravestone in County Wicklow, Ireland that was etched with this.

“Nobody cared more than you.”

A simple sentence on a headstone.

He could have been a person who cared about the world, the universe and more.

Most likely, though, he was a beloved son, spouse and dad. Who cared about his immediate family.

Made me think a little deeper about what it actually means to lose a partner.

The fact is that no one cares about you like that spouse/partner. Your parents love you like no one ever will. But it’s a different love. And parents (in an ideal world) will leave before their children.

Your children will love you because you’re their parent. But many times they will find a partner to fill the space that was once wholly yours. Rightfully so.

But the spouse or partner. They are the thing. No one cares about each other or the children you’ve created together quite like the two of you. It is so unique.

That’s why a lot of times the whole “step” thing doesn’t work out in families. I know there are a lot of wonderful people and exceptions out there who make step parenting fabulous. But not always.

When you lose a spouse or partner you don’t just lose a part of your family. You lose a piece of your shared history. You lose the person who cared more than anyone else.

I get that it’s the cycle of life.

But sometimes it’s a little sooner than we expected. And it creates feelings of being unmoored.

I suppose we just need to be a bit more mindful of those around us who have suffered this loss.

Was thinking of this when I was weeding my mom’s garden last night.

She and my Dad would putter around the yard. Each doing their own thing. He was the lawn and vegetable garden guy. Mom was in charge of the flower gardens.

Well, it’s not the same for her now. After fifty three years of being with someone and then, in a blink of an eye, they are gone.

I guess, though, in the end, if you have or had someone who fits this “Nobody cared more than you” description then you are or were blessed.

Hugs to you all and have a lovely weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A lot of people ask me if I like living in India.

The answer is absolutely.

Well, except for the air quality. 😦 No good.

Also the temps are starting to rise a bit. Today it is 102 degrees (F) or 30 degrees (C).

Despite those two things I do enjoy being here.

I love my neighborhood. Every day I discover something different, new or exciting. I’m totally learning.

We are getting ready to move. Again. LOL. But only a couple of blocks away. Same ‘hood.

Our house is in a lovely area. But the construction next door was/is driving us batty. It is like Chinese water torture. Every. Single. Minute. Drip. Drip. Drip.

We considered moving to a popular expat area across town.

Big skyscrapers in a gorgeous golf course setting. The apartments are ridiculously spacious-like 6000 square feet. The building boasts a movie theater on ground floor. Along with a gym, coffee shop and restaurant. Even a pub.

The outdoor pool would put you in mind of a Caribbean resort. Swimming through a labyrinth that’s shielded by towering palm trees.

Went to dinner there with my husband’s associate and his wife. They reside there and love it. Who wouldn’t? Very nice setup.

Couldn’t punch holes in it if I tried.

The wife of the associate was gracious. Explained how safe it was.

We totally figured that one out.

Had to register with guards to enter the gated community. Told them who we were visiting. Then we were on our way.

Came upon another gate at their actual building. Same drill. Security fellows allowed us entry.

Last line of defense against solar panel guys, Jehovah Witnesses and people like us who slipped past the first two gates? Yes, you guessed it.

One more smiling fellow on the ground floor of the building. Located near the elevators.

I was impressed with all of the amenities that the community offered. The woman told me about yoga classes, golfing, groups, etc.

She continued, “You’d never have to leave here.”

Ahhhh. And there it was. My hole punch.

I tried to hide my “deer in the headlights” look.

I’d never have to leave the grounds of this secure and closed community.

Which is totally fine for a four day stay at an island resort.

Okay, I understand that there are a lot of folks out there that would love this. Never have to worry about a thing. A pristine, sanitized, happy bubble.

I’m not knocking anyone. It’s just not me. At least, not the me I am today.

I know that no one stays in the community all of the time. They do leave the compound. LOL

We don’t drive here in India (company doesn’t allow) so I do a lot of walking. We have a driver but I have him drop me off at a park or I will just roam our neighborhood on foot. I always feel safe and I am careful.

You lose some independence by not driving. So I regain a bit of it by walking and exploring the dusty side streets. Never knowing what I will see. Monkeys, mongoose or sick bat stuck on a fence.

Strolling through the acres of the public parks with the funky birds and different sights.

I told my husband (we were waiting to hear on one last house in our current neighborhood) if the last house didn’t pan out then we needed to do what made the most sense financially, work transportation, etc. If that ended up being this expat spa resort then so be it.

I’d find friends and make the best of it. And leave the compound every now and again. 🙂

 

In the end, the house in our current neighborhood did pan out and we will move there in the next week or so.

Yay!

It really made me realize just how much I enjoy discovering something different, new or exciting. Each and every day in my wonderful host country. In my colorful neighborhood.

I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you.

 

 

 

 

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When I wrote about Kyle, two postings back, it was prompted by a few different things.

Yes, a pal and I were discussing him because one of Kyle’s friends recently passed away.

But there were other reasons that prompted my writing. Soon realized it would result in more than one blog posting.

Here is one of them.

I was reading an article that disturbed me. It was the story of a decorated veteran, like Kyle, who also brought back something from Vietnam.

This hero’s name was Andrew. He came from a Southern military family. His father and brothers served our country. Andrew volunteered for Vietnam.

His position was “Forward Observer.”

The following is a quote from a guy who served with him.

“During the period when Lieutenant Brannan served, the Forward Observer had the shortest life expectancy of any category of soldier in Vietnam.”

Can you imagine what horrors he witnessed? What horrors he might have inflicted?

All accounts show that Lieutenant Brannan returned from Vietnam a changed person. He had experienced warfare. Like Kyle he had been exposed to Agent Orange. Family loss and weakening mental health only added to the trouble that was brewing ahead of him.

It just sounds like he couldn’t get it together after the war. He isolated himself. Couldn’t finish school. Wasn’t successful with his marriage. Was eventually put on meds. Lived in a plywood shack he constructed. Spent lot of time trekking alone in woods.

He was off his medication for a few days when he was pulled over by a young police officer for a traffic violation in 1998.

The end result is that Andrew Brannan killed a Sheriff’s Deputy. There is a video of the actual confrontation and crime. No disputing the video.

The video shows a man (who did not know he was being filmed) exhibiting erratic behavior. Dancing around weirdly. Then he grabs a rifle from his truck. If you notice his stance and movements toward the policeman’s car it would put you in mind of a soldier during the middle of a war scene.

No disputing the man wasn’t right in the head.

This veteran murdered an innocent, young man that day.

A heart-breaking tragedy for the family of the deputy. And so many others.

On January 15, 2015,  Andrew Brannan was executed by lethal injection in the state of Georgia.

His lawyers tried to get his sentence commuted to life without parole. But they lost their appeals. So Lieutenant Brannan, decorated veteran with severe PTSD, ceased to exist.

Just feels kind of rotten to kill someone who served our country by killing for us. So much wrong with that sentence. No pun intended.

In a prepared statement given to his lawyers, he said: ‘I am proud to have been able to walk point for my comrades, and pray that the same thing does not happen to any of them.’

In his official last statement, moments before the injection was administered, Brannan said: ‘I extend my condolences to the Dinkheller family, especially Kyle’s parents and his wife and his two children.’ 

I was discussing the death penalty with my friend, Jenny, on a recent visit to Malaysia.  There are many viewpoints on this very hot topic. We touched upon a few.

There is this one. How about we don’t kill anyone at all?

The guilty could suffer every day. Just like the surviving victims of their crimes. Or become remorseful. Or get help if they are mentally ill.

One “newly available” cell will not make a difference in America’s already over-crowded and over-burdened prisons. The death penalty does not deter.

Evil exists. I have no doubt about that. But not all criminals are evil. That’s another blog posting.

No one is above the law. Whether you served your country or not. Everyone needs to be accountable in a courtroom in they committed a crime.

The punishment, however, is the tricky thing. Especially for the U.S. because we actually have States that still practice the death penalty.

Side note: Along with more than fifty countries in the world. If you look at that guest list you’d reconsider going to the party. Not exactly the finest bedfellows.

So can a person who is or was mentally ill be executed?

Sure.

Usually not mentally retarded folks. But history will show more than a few, with IQs less than 70, got the chair or injection. More than a few.

Mentally ill? Jury is still out on that one.

Is everyone who commits an act of murder mentally ill? Even if it’s temporary?

I do not believe that the late Lieutenant Brannan, Bronze Star recipient, was evil. He was just very ill.

Andrew Brannan was a fresh-faced young man from the South who proudly served his country. He came from a family who all served their country. He was one of the “lucky ones” who came back.

But he brought something back from those jungles and it was called mental illness. In the form of PTSD.

Honestly? I think we killed him twice.

His lawyers might have failed him by not getting the “life without parole” sentence but it sure is tough for folks not to be emotionally moved by a young widow with small children. Especially when it’s the family of a police officer.

But who is really responsible and could this all have been avoided?

We (our nation) are responsible and yes it could have been avoided. If we never sent our boys off to war. If we never exposed them to chemicals and atrocities that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.

But that horse is already out of the barn.

Nothing to be done for Kyle or Andrew. Too late.

What can be done for the many others who are still out there suffering?

Maybe every time we say “Thank you for your service” to a veteran it’s not just a rote “see how patriotic I am” reaction. Instead of that gratefulness recusing any work, charitable or not, on our part why not explore how we can actually support them. What if every “thank you” prompted a knee-jerk act of kindness of compassion? Being an advocate for their needs. Donating time or resources. Reflect on those suffering. Before posting passive-aggressive memes “Helping homeless U.S. Veterans before refugees” without doing anything except moving digits on a keyboard maybe take the time to actually help homeless U.S. Veterans.

So many opportunities to help so many.

In memory of the Kyles and Andrews who sacrificed their minds and their bodies.

For us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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