Not Superstitious

Tree gods, and spewing our souls . . .

      Not superstitious? Well, maybe so, maybe so, but…have you ever felt a qualm about raising an umbrella while inside the house? Wished upon-a-falling-star? And before we became both wise enough not to smoke, did you know people who would never light a third cigarette on one match, but would toss the match aside, light another, while shaking their head and murmuring “Three-on-a-match, you know.”

       So, where did they start? Course, no one can be sure, but researchers in ancient lore believe wishing-on-a-falling-star originated with the Star of Bethlehem, and while That Star didn’t fall, its light most certainly did, o’er all the earth, too.

       The three-on-a-match fear came into being during the Crimean war when the men realized that if a match remained lit long enough for three ‘smokes’ to be lit, it also gave the enemy time to zero their guns on the target.

       Knocking-on-wood dates back to the Druids whose gods lived in trees, and so when they wished for good fortune, they knocked on the trees to alert the Druids of their needs, just as we knock-on-wood to ward off disfavor today.

       An interesting side-light of this tree superstition is our Christmas trees. In the darkest days of winter, when the sun was in evidence only short hours a day, the ancient Druids retired to the forest and prayed to the tree gods to let the sun linger longer.

       And, ya know what? They were right, for immediately afterwards the sun slowly did light the sky for a longer time each day. This was also, it’s said, for the beginning of a tree being taken to the house in the deep of winter for ‘worship’.

       Friday is considered the unlucky day of the week and when it coincides with thirteen, it’s murder. Adam and Eve ‘fell’ on a Friday, the Flood came on that day and so did the confusion at Babel. the death of Christ, and there were thirteen at the Last Supper.

       And the result is so strong that people bow to it today, and many a high rise building has no 13th floor. Of course they go from the Twelfth floor to the Fourteenth, but the busy people who use those buildings today, don’t stop to count, they just know their apartment or business is not cursed with being on the 13th floor.

      No less a personage that Winston Churchill, the man who saved the Free World during WW !!, refused to travel on Friday the thirteenth and insisted on bringing any handy person to make the diners at a table number 14. He also, if he couldn’t find anyone to join them, would ask some unlucky person to leave the table to reduce the number to 12.

       Roosevelt, our President who worked side by side with Churchill for long hours, days and weeks, secretly told that getting around that number 13, with Churchill took a lot of maneuvering. Even to how many hours in flight or aboard ships.

       Do you cover your mouth when you yawn? Say “God bless you” when someone sneezes? Well, way, way back our ancestors believed our souls were in our very breath and so, when we sneezed we stood in danger of spewing out our souls and suddenly finding ourselves dead.

      And in close relationship. they feared yawning and while we cover our gaping mouths as a social nicety, they covered theirs to keep ‘evil’ spirits from being sucked in with the sudden intake of breath that accompanies the yawn.

       Superstitions are far from being musty relics of the past. New ones are as contemporary as garden weeds. Which is quite apparent when you think how many ‘Lucky Charms’ are made, sold, worn and toted around by people every day of the year. And on TV shows where money can be won or lost, it’s common for the contestants to have a Lucky something or other, in their pocket or hand.

       But you aren’t superstitious? Better give it a second thought cause chances are, in some way, we both are.

Married For Life

But not 24 hours per day, 7 days per week . . .

       I learned to hear and respect the ideas my Gram would so casually (?) say, and many of her words are with me yet.  I wish I could tell her how those twelve I write of today, have helped along the way.

        “Ethel”, she said, “a woman has to find something, in addition to her family, that will bring joy to her life.  And the more ‘hobbies’ she has, the better off she’ll be.”

        Her generation also had a phrase I  tucked away, too.  It was, “I married him for life, but not for 24 hours a day.”  A dozen words that are priceless, to me, to you, and to every man,  woman alive.  No matter where you live.

        Of course, when she was telling me these words of wisdom, I didn’t believe her at all.  Oh, most surely not for me, for I was still in that euphoric stage of marriage we all experience, but I learned.

        I knew, Gram did not speak lightly and so, when the day came, when ‘family’ was not enough, her words resurfaced, and I followed her pathway right on.  See, she’d been there and done that.

        Pearl Buck, author, also said that if a woman tries to confine all her energies, attention and love, into the sole outlet of husband and children, she will put a burden on them as well as herself, that none of them were ever meant to bear.

        The husband (or wife) will retreat (escape) in self defense to the TV, newspaper, golf, nearby pub, or ski club.  And children, more outspoken will tell you to ‘get off their backs.  or stay in their room, ‘live’ at some friends home, at the mall, retreat into silence, and rebel in any thousand other ways.

        At first I felt guilty when I did something that my husband had no interest in.  but went ahead and was startled to find that he liked those times  when my activities didn’t demand his presence or participation.

        What Gram had learned (as we all must if we ever hope to gain any measure of happiness), is that not one of us can or wanted to spend 24 hours (see above, second paragraph)  with one person.  No matter how beloved.

        Gram knew kids do grow up and leave home.  Death does come, and jobs, life and sickness, mental and physical, can separate people, and  so, for our own balance, we must find  outlets that absorb and bring delight to us.  In addition to families.

        Gram had several.  Different generations, different opportunities, different outlets, but she cooked, crocheted and she gardened.  Who can say which was more beloved, but, at her table,  I learned the surprise and wonder, of dishes I thought would be found only in magazines or on TV.  I never even tried to match her kitchen skills.

        Winter was a prison to her as she waited for spring to come so ‘she could get outside’, and dig, so that was when her cooking, crocheting, and bridge club really came into play .  And, oh those women were wonderful.  I substituted when needed, and not only learned how to play bridge, but listened and learned for more.  Their conversation was every bit as ‘with it’ as what goes on today. Different wording, oh yes, but nothing was verboten or unknown to those women.  My eyes popped and I not only learned, but  marveled.

        I found many outlets for my ever growing interests,  and if you haven’t yet, given your husband and children a break and start looking.  Today.  Right now.  There are times in every one’s life when spouse, children, job and even life seem to fail  us. 

        Some hobby or avocation can be a life saver for you, the family and, no fooling,  your own sanity.  There are words of today, that speak what I’m saying.  “Get a life, get a life.” 

        Sounds harsh, but oh how true Gram’s words still are:  ‘I married him for life, but not for 24 hours a day’.   Yeah, yeah, yeah, and I’m a  happy woman, for I’ve found those words keep right on working,  no matter what your age.   Thanks, Gram, wish we could still talk, and I would listen more seriously today, for now I know you were an expert.

We Are Awesome

Well at least those of us born between 1925 and 1970 . . .

        I look for ideas to use in  this space from where ere I go and today, this entire blog fell in my lap.  I picked it up on the Internet, and that mailing, said they didn’t know where it came from, and I do the same.  Hope you like it.  I do, but the words are not mine.  ethel.

        “No matter what our kids and the new generations think about us, We,  the ones born between 1925 and 1970 Are Awesome!  And our lives are living proof.

        “First, we survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.  They took aspirin, ate Blue Cheese dressing, tuna from cans, didn’t get tested for diabetes, and didn’t always wash our hands before eating.

        “Then, after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

        “We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets, went barefoot lots of the time, swam in irrigation ditches, and, when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps, not helmets, on our heads.

        “As infants and children we would ride in the cars with no car seats. no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, but many bald tires and sometimes no brakes.

        “Riding in the back of a pick-up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.  We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.  We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one died from this.

        “We ate cupcakes, chewed Bubble Gum, ate white bread, real butter and bacon.  We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar.  And we weren’t overweight. 

        “WHY???  Because we walked to school and had recesses twice a day and when there was no school, we were always outside playing.   That’s why.

       “We would leave home in the morning and play all day, and as long as we were back before the Streetlights came on, all was well.  No one was able to reach us all day . . . and we were okay.

        “We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps, and then ride them down a hill, only to find out we forgot about brakes.  After running into the bushes and getting scratched  and knocked around  a few times, we learned to solve that problem.

        “We did not have Play Stations, Nintendos, or X-boxes.  There were no video games or DVDs. no surround-sound or CDs, no cell phones, no Sun Guard, personal computers, no Internet and no Chat Rooms.

        “Instead, WE HAD FRIENDS. and we went outside and found them!  We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits from those accidents.

        “We ate worms, bugs, odd plants, and mud pies made from dirt and the worms and bugs didn’t live in us forever.  We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and although we were told it would happen, we did not put our eyes out, either. 

        “We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door,  rang the bell or just walked in and joined in whatever was being talked about.  Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team, and those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment.  Imagine that ! !

        “But these ‘neglected’ generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and inventers ever.  The past 50 to 85 years have seen an explosion of innovations and new ideas that have changed the world and lives of the world’s people.  And we survived  the worst wars ever invented, too.

        “We had freedom, failures, successes, responsibilities and we learned how to deal with it all.


        “You might want to share this with others who had the good  luck to grow up as a  kid before the lawyers and the government  regulated so much of our lives, ‘for our own good’.

        “While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.  Makes you want to run through the house like a ten-year old again, doesn’t it?”

Try To Remember

Or, how can we Not remember some things . . .

       Oh, the things we remember.  And sometimes it’s decades later before something tweaks our memory and bingo!  We’re suddenly in another part of our life, and it is good.

        I’m not unique.  One of my sons tells me that one whiff of the unique odor of a soft rain on open ground, and he’s a child again, sitting in his Arlington Elementary Second  grade school room.  Pure magic. 

        Once or twice, I’ve seen my other son, little more than a babe,  running to me with outstretched arms, eager to be held close; and when a bit older,  often calling me to come to the door to see what he could do. Both worth more than money in the bank.  And they must be imprinted upon my mind, or why, in the ‘right’ circumstances,  do I still see,  hear them, and find  tears in my eyes.

        The view from my kitchen window never fails to ‘hold’ me, no matter what time of the day or year.  I knew those open acres for years as pasture land and AW and I often roamed them when we were just ‘dating’, and getting to know each other.  One of my fondest memories is of a cold winter day when snow and ice had bridged the creek, so we could walk over it and  when standing still,  could hear the moving water bubbling far below. So odd, so wonderful.  And I don’t  know why I remember, but I do.

        Those acres are now the Mick Riley Golf Course, so I no longer  roam there, but the view, though different, is beautiful, mine, and I think when I leave here, and go on to The Next Room, I will remember and perhaps even roam  there again.  And just maybe, just maybe, AW will be with me again, too.  Who will ever know???  But me.

        And then there are Hotels.  The better ones are, to me, a concentration of the world’s pleasures gathered all in one place.  I’ve traveled little, but enough to know the difference between  the ones that move you in and out with no real care for your well-being. But of those I know, two have been favorites for me,  one in San Francisco and the other in Indiana.

        My very best, was that 1800-1900 turn of the century gambling Spa of French Lick,  Indiana.  The wealthy gamblers were long gone, but that place, oh, that roomy, luxurious place remained.  The large ‘apartments’, furnished with fine wood furniture;  two full size beds,  plus two complete, separate baths, each with stand-up scales and towels from the heated bars,  so soft and fluffy that I wanted to wrap myself up and forget all about getting dressed.  At night the maid left our beds perfumed, sheets turned down, and with a fresh Rose in its special ‘vase’,  and two Mints on the pillows.

        I was there with LaRee Pehrson (remember her from Magna?) as members of the National Press Women’s organization and would have  liked to remain  there forever.  I mean if someone else paid the bill.

        Right next in being special was the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, of the same fin de siecle vintage.  It was again under the auspices of the Press Women and LaRee and I, of course, were together. 

        Our room came nowhere near the opulence that had been ours at French Lick, but one night we wandered down to the lobby. stumbled upon an Oriental wedding, and were so awed, that we slipped into an out-of-the-way corner and watched.

        Never, never, never have I seen such a gathering of satin, silk, furs and jewelry.  And those exquisite ladies, took my breath away.  All ages, each with a perfect toilette and with such ‘presence’ that one knew that only immense wealth over many generations could flower into such utter calm self-assurance. and beauty.                                                                                                                                                                                       

        I can close my eyes and still see those woman, escorted by impassive, tuxedoed men, walking by like porcelain dolls.  Ah . . . another world.   Another world.

        And then, more recently, but a simple letter from Karen, a Catholic Nun who manages Raven’s Bread, a Hermit’s organization, in North Carolina, though far different, touches me deeply.  What an odd twist of life, that I, a granddaughter of a Mormon Polygamist, and she a Nun, should ‘know’ and care for each other.  God works in mysterious ways, and I accept, never forget, and am moved.

        Yes, life brings pleasures. great and small but I remember , and will forever,  the greatest joy of all, the glory of Love.  And if you thought I’d not remember that one, you just don’t know Ethel. And whether Platonic, Romantic or Agape, they are here for all of us to experience and recall.  So wonderful that Ethel also says:  Encore. Encore.

Doctor’s Care? What Care?

What do they really care about?

       If all the books on ‘How To Live” covering  pregnancy, birth, childhood, the teens, marriage, divorce,  menopause, et al, were tossed together they would overfill ten Grand Canyons.

Our lives could be spent, and not badly either, by referring to your choice of those books, and make certain you add Google, that godsend of knowledge,  to the list.  There’s a book for everything we might encounter and the info is very good. I once saw a doc turn and refer to his computer,  and wondered if he, too, Googled.

But there comes a time when suddenly there’s no one telling us how to cope with what’s happening in our lives.  At first we don’t notice, but  a big change has come, and sooner or later you’ll feel it. Google however, hasn’t changed and stays with us.  Bless them.

At about  60 I saw my mail change with a flood of opportunities on ‘how to invest my money’, ‘vacation tours for mature people’, hearing aids, face lifts, 24 hour dental replacements, and on and on, but where I really got hit smack in the face,  was in the doctor’s office. I had become a non-person.

I was about 65 when I first saw how Senior Citizens are ignored.  Not even heard,  much less questioned.  It seems that there are now three books.  “The Sixties”.  “The Seventies”, and then, “Eighties and Over”.  They are required study for every doctor, and I’d bet the renewal  for their yearly license (or whatever) comes with a place for a signed statement that those three Bibles have been mastered.

Today, when you step into a doctor’s office, they glance at  the birth date,  and from then on its one-line service. Arthritis?  Taken for granted;  Blood Pressure? Over or under, they ‘know’ it’s wrong.  It comes with your age, and if you querulously mention what you came in for, don’t be surprised to find you’re ignored.

They have YOUR book memorized, and if this is your birth date, this is what the book says you will have.  Period.  No discussion needed.  Amen. Next patient.

One doctor had me enrolled in classes for Chronic Pain, before I entered    the office, or even one query made. I was not even asked why I had come. And the last words when I was politely ushered out, were a reminder of those Chronic Pain classes.  Why I had made the appointment had been casually brushed aside, and  the first thing I did upon arriving home was to call and cancel the unneeded classes and then go to Google to find the answer to what the doctor ignored.  And it was there, too. TYG.

Say your prayers that it doesn’t happen to you, but I went to Emergency one night (there’s no other way to get a doctor in a hurry) and suddenly was  caught in an assembly line of tests and assumptions that were crazy.  Yes, tests are necessary, but for hang nails???  Migraine???

But, I emphasize,  once they see  your birth date, you’re wheeled from test to test until they tell you that you have none of that. and then prescribed a nice medium-strength  Diazepam to ‘calm your nerves’ and that is that.  Yeah, good ole Valium  (under whatever name) will keep you nicely dulled, and with no mention that is addictive.

You better get used to the idea, for if you’re over 65, you’ve entered the huge group of those who no longer matter.  Yeah, read that again.  No longer matter. There’s  no future (read money)  for them with your age group.  A waste of their time.  So give them a pill (addictive?)  Doesn’t matter. Send you home, and bring in another ‘customer’ with years of potential office calls still ahead.

We are part of a generation  who are not stupid and know that today’s medical plan might be very good for those up to 60, but  is useless for those over.  It wasn’t ever meant for us.  And they know it.

This last year, after about 30 plus hours in a hospital bed, with a needle  constantly in  my arm, and during which nurses entered,  but not one doctor entered my room,  when suddenly a young man entered with two papers in his hands.  “Here is your release. Go on home. Here is a prescription.  Good luck”, and was gone.   A doctor???  Who knows.  Probably one of their Peons, (as one-such quietly introduced him/her self to me)  “We Peons  just do errands” he/she said, “and will be fired if caught speaking to a patient”.

My friend Dawna says it’s the same if you’re overweight.  Doesn’t  matter if  she goes for an ear ache, hang nail or some OBGYN  problem,   its always her weight to blame. I don’t know about that one, but I believe her, and maybe the doc’s have the Fourth Book, called Overweight, and use it as fiercely  as the above three mentioned.

I know that good things have happened as a result of  the nation’s health care  program,  but not for those over 65, or overweight.  And if  you think not, just wait and see.  It’s an expensive program, and you’re going to die soon anyway, so get another customer in here who has many years (read money) ahead of them and hurry up about it, too.

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After putting out on the golf course, I saw him putting his club back in his bag.  Of course he has the presence of mind not to open his presents early.  The main entrance to the tent was reserved for contest entrants.  They were entranced with the prospect of winning.

Now go enter some more under the ‘Hour’ Crazy Language tab . . .