Archive for the ‘Middle Age’ Category

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) is 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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“A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.”

I’ve read that quote more than once and I believe this to be the absolute truth. You all know how I feel about family. If we share the same blood/family we are members of a very special club. Ain’t nobody getting kicked out of it. Even if we no longer see each other very often.

I have more than twenty-five first cousins. But when I was a kid most lived in Ireland and some in England.

So, sadly, I didn’t share a childhood with all of my cousins. But that was just reality.

The ones who I did share my childhood with consisted of three families who lived in the U.S. like me.

They were my Dad’s sister, Rose Marie and her family in New York. In Rhode Island we had the families of Mom’s sister, Patsy and her brother, Jimmy.

Summer holidays and other times during the year were spent with the New York cousins.

Christmas, Easter, cookouts and regular Sunday visits to the grandparents were spent with the Rhode Island cousins.

Oh, what fun we had when we were young.

There were the older cousins in our (my brothers and me) age range and then a few younger ones came along in the 1970s. That was pretty exciting for us. Everyone liked babies and they were just absorbed. Welcomed into the fold.

That’s the funny thing about babies. They are not like the future in-laws who take awhile to break into the family. To be a part of the club and inner circle. Going through the initiation and all.

But a baby? Born into the family? The bouncer just lets that little bundle of joy right into the club! Like a celebrity with status. No stopping at the door, stamping its hand or questioning their right to be there. They’re totally in!

One of my baby cousins died on March 18th. John was just shy of his forty-seventh birthday. He will be interred tomorrow with his beloved mother.

I last saw him when he made the trip to Rhode Island for my Dad’s funeral three years ago. Even though it was a sad time I was really happy to see him and so many family members. These days everyone lives in different places and reunions are not always easy or frequent. So weddings and funerals are the “go to” places for the big catch ups.

John was a beautiful child. An adorable kid with a mop of curly red hair. He was intelligent and good humored. He was a nice and decent boy who grew up to be a nice and decent man.

He died young. Too young.

For the record, I think all deaths under the age of eighty are sort of tragic.

Today is no different.

John died because he was a human being. Lest we forget -we are all afflicted with that title.

A death reminds us that we are all human. Some might dodge the bullets of life. Others aren’t so fortunate and get hit head on. But we all know, really, that sometimes we just have no say or control. Our expiration date, like a milk carton, might (I say might) have been printed long ago. Even if we argue or beg that it could have been/should have been different.

It’s still tragic. It’s heartbreaking and sad.

One of the benefits of being in the cousins’ club is that there is only love. No jealousy or judgement. We’re family and are grateful for the shared and special memories. We take joy in the success and happiness of each other. We are sympathetic when one is experiencing family problems, job loss, illness and other maladies of life.

There is profound and utter sadness when we lose one of our gang.

When John was a baby I was sleeping at his house one weekend. Poor little thing couldn’t pronounce my name (Mary Beth) but he tried. In the morning I heard a little voice coming from the crib, “Maybell?”

Since then it’s been “ours” and we didn’t ever let it go.

So every year on our birthdays and other Facebook messages we used Maybell instead of my real name. Now, I’m wondering if he actually ever knew what my real name was.

Anyway, it was like we were little kids. He in his forties and me in my fifties. In a way, a simple word brought us back in time and kept us young. Even if it was for a minute. It was a shared memory.

See, because a cousin is a little piece of childhood that can never be lost.

John will always and forever be a part of my childhood that can never be lost.

We will miss you, John. Rest in peace. Like one of your sisters said, “Rest is not so easy right now on this side of Heaven.”

The club will no longer be the same, little cousin.

With all my love,

Maybell

 

 

In memory of John J. Kelly

1971-2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today, I was looking up into the trees at a local park. There is a bird call that I hear all day long here in Delhi. Belongs to the Brown-headed Barbet. A small bird with a green body.

Took this photo a couple of days ago. Not great quality.

barbet

For some reason I associate this bird’s sound with the noise at crosswalks. The one which signals blind folks that it is safe to cross the road.

So all day, like the Pavlovian dog, I just keep wanting to cross the street. Safely. Thank you, barbets.

I looked up trying to find the little sucker.

Imagine my surprise when this is what I see. In the middle of the day. Again, not the best photo taken with my phone. But I think you can figure out what it is.

owl1

Then I realize there are two sets of eyes on me.

owl2

Definitely not barbets.

So cool.

I was laughing because I attempted to take photos at different angles. In front. Behind. Didn’t matter because his eyes were always on me. Sort of like Jesus’ eyes in a picture my Aunt Rose Marie use to have hanging in her house. Always following. I thought of the old saying, “Eyes in the back of your head.”

It really is fascinating how their heads can do the 360 degree turn thingy.

The first time I have ever seen an owl, outside of captivity, was this past January. My husband and I attended an event at a place in Providence, Rhode Island. A Snowy Owl happens to reside on the roof. We caught sight of him while we were leaving.

Owls are cool.

To me.

I remember when my friend, Maria-Ann, and I ran a resale charity shop for a short while in Kuala Lumpur. We had a cute, wooden owl statue for sale. None of the Chinese customers gave it a second glance.

My friend mentioned that it didn’t give off positive vibes in the Chinese culture.

A lot of folks (from my part of the world) associate owls with age and wisdom.

Plenty of owls (with black, thick rimmed spectacles) on graduation cards in the United States. Every May stuffed owls or statues appear on the shelves in Hallmark stores. Ready to be purchased for the graduate-to-be.

Chinese do not have the same association. Believe owls are bad luck.

I get it. Everyone is different.

Here in India?

Owls are thought to bring good luck around the Diwali holiday.

That’s nice.

If sacrificed.

What?????

Folks looking to improve their financial situation think that the sacrificing of an owl will help.

India protects all of the species but there is a bustling black market that exists. Selling owls for hefty fees. All year round for different cures or luck but especially around the holiday.

You can even pay to have someone do the killing for you.

Now, we all have our beliefs, superstitions, etc. but I’m thinking if a person has to kill a living creature to enhance some aspect of their own life maybe a little regrouping is in order. A look at alternative, legal options in that quest for good luck.

Leave the owls alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My girlfriend and I did some exploring near the newly purchased home. On this particular day it was a lunch at “The Square Peg” in the historic, waterfront town of Warren, Rhode Island. Followed by us checking out some of the local shops.

I’m compiling a list to share of fun places to see/explore in the area for my female friends.  Work in progress. So wait for it.

For now, though.

Lunch was so good. We enjoyed it very much. Had street tacos, I believe. I don’t consider myself a fan of corn tortillas (I am a flour girl) but I really liked these. The place was bustling with activity. Older couples possibly retired. Ladies who lunch. Even a couple of families. Not a tourist among them.

I recommend the restaurant.

Now, onto the shops.

Stopped by a welcoming and brightly decorated storefront and decided to enter. A beacon of warmth on a cold January day.

Whimsies.

We loved the shop. From the minute we walked in and saw a dog standing behind the cash register. LOL.

We got to chatting. I’m always curious about a person’s journey.

Andrea, the owner, was super nice. Her store is filled with the work of local crafters and artisans. Takes in items on consignment also. She had a look at the upcycled furniture pieces my friend had on her Etsy website. Liked them and said she was certainly welcome to bring them into her shop. See if they would sell there.

I asked her, “So you love coming to work every day?”

And she said, “I love it.”

Now, this is not something she has been doing all her life. She raised her people and enjoyed it. Then was sort of in the right place at the right time. And took a risk. Starting and running your own business always includes risk. Along with hard work and a whole lot of faith.

So, Andie, as it states on her website, is not only living her dream but helping local artisans pass along their gifts. How cool is that? Really?

See the site here.

What did I take from the shop that day? By making the decision to cross that threshold?

Besides a couple of framed pieces.

Reinforced that the whole notion of kindness and friendliness should be a rule and not the exception. That we need to lift each other up. Always. Women and local artists. People in general. We should shop local. A realization that the journey is not always easy. And that there are people out there actually living their dream. Who will inspire us.

Andrea also recommended other places to shop like Cerulean. Another lovely place with beautiful, locally made items and a friendly atmosphere. Owned by women. They will also be on my list of “fun places to visit” especially when they expand their shop with the next door property and begin to offer classes.

Whimsie’s also has an active Facebook page. Send a request to Whimsies. She posts new shop pieces and links to other fun stuff going on in the area.

I just noticed a link posted about an apothecary class she took at a place called “The Stitchery.” That looks fun! I had a glance at their site and checked out the different offerings.

Also saw photos Andrea recently shared of a facility in Fall River, Massachusetts where a fellow is focusing on bringing back the lost art of scrimshaw. His pieces will be in her shop. So wonderful!

There are so many fabulous people, places and things out there. Just have to get out there and make an effort to connect with your fellow humans. You’ll take away so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m not turning into a health nut. Honest.

But I was watching “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” on Netflix last month. It’s about an Australian man who juices his way across America. He is obese and not in good health. Focusing on turning his life around.

He’s successful. Ends up clearing up his afflictions and getting off all medications.

One sentence in his documentary sort of struck me. Was something like this.

“I wasn’t being kind to my body.”

It was in an Australian accent so it sounded like, “I wasn’t being coined to my bawdy.”

This sentence stuck with me.

We put garbage in our mouths every single day. Processed food. If we can’t pronounce the ingredients or even know what they are then why would we put it in our body?

Like we only get one body in this life time. And if it’s been kind to us shouldn’t we return the favor?

My brother (who recommended the film) and I were discussing it. He mentioned Diet Coke. Which I loved. It was the actual jolt I loved.

I eventually stopped drinking it in India. They have it here so I am not sure why I actually stopped buying it. But I did.

I’m glad I did. I had it in the States a few times but stopped drinking it by the end of my visit there also. It’s said that the combination of the caffeine and the aspartame is a deadly one. In so many ways. Possibly cancer. Damage to the brain. And more.

Now, I knew that aspartame was never my friend. Or a friend of lab rats. And yet, I welcomed it into my body every single day.

I smoked. I certainly knew that was bad for me but the addiction had me just hoping I dodged the bullets that comes with it. So I kept smoking. Because I felt good and I didn’t have any coughs or other things ailing me as a result of it.

I invited cigarettes into my body every day. Numerous times a day. Glad I stopped.

No such thing as a perfect person. But we can be aware of how we treat our bodies. We need them to carry us for a few more years in good health. We probably should be conscious of the ways we can be kinder.

Shouldn’t we be kind to our bodies?

 

 

 

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This past January my friend Di and I had plans for a lunch.

Winter in New England can be very cold. So everyone has to bundle up.

Kind of weird because it seems like the entire Northeast female population is wearing the same fluffy black coat. The ones that can make a person sort of look like a sausage about to burst out of its waxy looking casing.

Both of us have gained weight. Both of us are little women. Like five feet tall.

We hop into my car, try to get situated so we can belt ourselves in and be on our merry way.

Well, there we were. Twisting, turning and almost grunting trying to get comfortable. Picture, if you will, worm larvae. The puffy jackets don’t help.

We came to this stunning conclusion.

Having extra pounds is just downright uncomfortable.

That is really what it comes down to, isn’t it?

I am uncomfortable.

Not body shaming myself or anyone else. I don’t think we should all look like anorexic models. I don’t want to go on crazy diets. Just want to be at the normal, healthy weight I’m supposed to be.

I’m not comfortable in my clothes because they no longer fit properly. I have clothes I cannot wear. I’m not comfortable passing a mirror (clad or not), catching a glimpse and gasping out loud, “Good God!” I’m not comfortable looking at photographs that show the obvious gain.

A lot of people who are overweight are uncomfortable.

In bathing suits. Shopping for clothes. Always leaning toward the stretchy pants. Self conscious.

I recently saw a posting on a page for a reunion at my high school.

A woman said she ran into another gal (did not name her) and asked if she was going to attend the reunion.

The reply was, “No, not looking like this.”

The woman had gained a lot of weight since high school. So she was going to miss this fabulous opportunity to meet with old friends.

Because she was uncomfortable with herself.

I felt really bad when I read that. I think she absolutely should have gone to the reunion. No one cares about her weight gain.

But I understood how she felt.

I weigh more than I ever have in my life. Except for pregnancies.

Never really bounced up and down with weight but in later years I always picked up a few extra pounds on summer home visits. Usually I dropped those within the first two weeks of my return. Getting busy and back to a routine. Shed the suckers without blinking an eye.

This past summer was no different. There was the usual flurry of activity that happens. Graduation party, birthday parties and nights out at restaurants. Eating all of my favorite foods. The veal parms and the fried clams. Steamers dripping with butter and Casserta’s Pizza. Four road trips with food on the fly.

So I picked up the usual few pounds.

When we returned back home, after seeing the kid off to university, I figured I would drop the additional weight.

It didn’t happen this time.

I returned to a different house and country with no set or usual routine. I had an empty nest. Husband working all day. I didn’t know anyone.

Days and weeks passed. I didn’t lose a pound.

Then on November 6th I quit smoking.

Went home for the Christmas holidays. I don’t know a soul who actually loses weight during that time. I was no exception.

So, what to do?

I figure if I can quit smoking I can do anything.

Have to give a shout out to my brother. He inspired me in a few different ways over the holidays.

So when I arrived back home from the airport on February 7th I hopped on the scale. Hopped right off and documented that number which was at an all time high. It’s probably not even the real number. I call it the air travel weight. Lots of bread and junk.

But I documented it just the same.

I used the Fitbit app on my phone. Like I used an app for smoking cessation.

It’s me that is going to do the hard work but I like to see graphs, progress and encouraging messages.

It comes down to this. It’s all about what I eat. And how much.

I do walk at least an hour a day. But that is because I want to be outside and doing something.

My point is that even if I never left the house or lifted a finger I should be able to lose weight. By being aware of every morsel that I eat.

It can be frustrating. Sometimes it seems there is no rhyme or reason to a gain, loss or plateau during the process.

But today when I stepped on the scale it was a solid ten pound (and a few ounces) loss. Finally the scales have tipped in my favor. I have fifteen more to lose.

Some of you reading this might also be feeling a bit uncomfortable.

You can find comfort.

And you can start today.

Hop on the scale. Write down that number. Get a Fitbit. Set a goal. Challenge a friend. Track your progress. Reward yourself. Document everything that goes into your mouth.

You will absolutely get results.

That’s all there is to it.

You can do this.

Be comfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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