Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Friend of Gnomes

I think the whole experience started with an innocent politically incorrect comment among friends. My friend and former boss, Darce, pointed out a person who was perfectly suited to serve as a gnome in his garden. The small group of co-workers had a chuckle and that led to naming others who would also be candidates for such a position. Shortly after that gnomes started showing up in Darce’s office. He would come back from lunch and find a little gnome relaxing on his desk or peeking out from his bookcase. A movement was born.

Recognizing that thousands of gnomes are enslaved in gardens across America, Darce became a supporter of the Garden Gnome Liberation Movement.  While not as militant as the GGLF (Garden Gnome Liberation Front), Darce became a champion of gnomes seeking freedom from oppression. His office became a sanctuary, a stop on the underground railroad of gnome liberation. New gnomes turned up in his office weekly. He had no idea where they came from. He accused everyone in the office, but we all denied sneaking into his office and hiding gnomes. He never caught anyone in the act.

Gnomes showed up in other offices as well. One morning I was startled to find a blue gnome hiding in the foliage of a plant in my office. Darce denied any knowledge of how the gnome got there.

When Darce retired, the gnomes left with him…by their own choice, of course. They are no longer enslaved.

I am retired now too. When I left the school district, the blue gnome came home with me. He is also retired and he lives happily in a plant in my dining room.

What I miss about my former professional life is not the paycheck, or the status, or the stress, but the opportunity to share ideas and laughter with smart, progressive and supportive people. I miss being part of a committed group of people who were working to make a difference.

Happy Birthday, Darce. Thanks for the memories.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The DNC Tries to Recruit Me

I received a letter this week from the Democratic National Committee. Barack Obama has been busy lately, what with the faltering economy and passing health care reform and all. He’s even put his wife to work fighting childhood obesity. That’s why I wasn’t surprised that he’s finally gotten around to asking for my help.

President Obama must have been reading my blog and noticed that since I’ve retired I’ve had a less than full calendar of activities. He has asked for my “immediate response to the 2010 Presidential Survey.” The letter goes on to say that he is looking to leaders such as me to “provide input about his agenda and the course ahead.”

Finally! Now here is something I can tackle in retirement. After thirty years in public education, I’ve got some ideas about education reform and school funding.

Now all I have to do is express my opinion by completing and returning the survey and….wait a minute, “help support President Obama’s initiatives by including a generous donation.”

Well, I guess I won’t be adding presidential advisor to my list of retirement activities after all.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spring Cleaning Down South

When I think of spring, I think about mowing...but maybe not down there.   This sign has been up for at least a week.  I must be the only person in Hermiston, Oregon who finds it funny.  I may be getting older, but, really, is waxing your snatch the first thing you think about in the spring?

I imagine the conversations all over town...

Oh my goodness, Maybelle, is it May already?  I must clean out the old muff.

Well. Pa, I'm fixin' to head to the spa for my annual couch cleaning.
Full disclosure alert ...I had to google an online slang dictionary to get the vocabulary for this post.  Who knew there were so many words for "down there."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Letters from My Younger Self Update for Tackle it Tuesday

Several weeks ago I posted about the huge pile of letters that I “inherited” when my mother died. She had saved every letter, birthday card., postcard, and message that my brothers and I had ever sent her. When we cleaned out her house, my brothers and I each saved the letters that we had written her. The letters have sat untouched in my back bedroom for three years. I posted that I was going to start going through them and figure out what to do with them. It didn’t seem appropriate to throw them away without looking at them, but there’s such a huge pile that it is overwhelming. I committed to spending at least an hour a week sorting the letters.

I have now spent several hours sorting the letters into groups by year. The photo above shows the letters from 1968, the first year that there is a collection of my letters. There are 21 letters, 4 postcards, and two copies of my college newspaper written between September, 1968 and December, 1968. This is the year that I graduated from high school and left California for college in Oregon.

There are letters for every year up to 1990. I have read only a few of the letters. Some of them didn’t have clear postmarks so to determine the year I had to open them to find the date…and several times I couldn’t resist reading. I think it must be a little like reading a diary years after writing it. I revisited long forgotten people and events.

There are many letters from 1976-78, the years my husband and I served in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua. I read several letters from 1980-82. These years my children were the same ages as my grandchildren are now. I was never very good about writing down in their baby books all those cute things my kids said and did. In the few letters that I took time to read, there are anecdotes of their development. I had forgotten completely that my son’s first sentence was “Drink beer?”

I guess it was a good thing that I didn’t throw them away. But I’m still not sure how to proceed. I do want to recover the stories of my children’s childhood. Now that they are organized by year, I will start reading through them. I’m thinking about writing a timeline of what was going on in the world each year and what our family was doing.

There aren’t any long lost secrets buried in my letters, but I am enjoying revisiting my youthful self. …and then I’ll get the courage to throw them away!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Universe Speaks to Me About the Golden Years

Those new-age thinkers have a lot of sayings that I tend to roll my eyes at. Yes, I may be a liberal, but that doesn't mean you're going to see me in an ashram chanting anytime soon.

Have you heard them?

"The universe gives you what you need, but you have to be open to hearing it."

"Be open to possibilities."

"The universe continues to send the message until you listen."

Oprah gives lots of examples of this new age principle. First there are little clues and finally, when the intended recipient still doesn't get the message, the universe drops a hammer. The universe breaks the leg of a busy working mom because she didn't listen about taking time for herself. Some people have to learn the lessons the hard way!

Oprah is always asking people what the universe is telling them. It's sort of like a junior high literature class where you're looking for symbolism and the theme in a story you thought was only about a lab rat who got smart.

I do frequently ask myself "What am I supposed to learn from this?" Sometimes the universe's messages aren't very interesting.

Lately I've been learning about being a senior citizen. I learned about bifocals last week. The universe gave me a black eye because I wasn't paying attention. Yes, the universe has been sending me messages. I notice that the ads on my facebook page say "I will not be helpless." Now why does the universe want me to know about "medical emergency alarm systems for independent seniors?"

In the mail last week, mixed among the communications for AARP car insurance and supplementary medical insurance, was a postcard for mobility scooters. I just don't see myself tooling around Safeway in a senior scooter, a segway maybe, but a scooter?

I can't wait to see how the universe responds next. If you see me racing through Walmart on a pink scooter you'll know the universe won, or I'm not any better at decoding messages than I was at George K Porter Junior High.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Messages From Myself at a Younger Age

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

My mother kept every letter, card, and message that I ever sent her. When she died my brothers and I cleaned out her house and claimed our childhood relics. For three years my cards and letters sat in boxes in my back bedroom. It doesn’t seem right to throw them away, but what am I supposed to do with them? I’ve decided to set aside an hour a week to start to organize and read through them. If they are as uninteresting as I think they are, I can throw them away with a clean conscience. Once a week I will post on my progress.

Maybe I’ll throw them away. Maybe I’ll find insight. Maybe I’ll find inspiration. Maybe I’ll just organize this one small part of my inheritance from my mother. It’s a journey I need to take, if only to spare my children the burden when they inherit the leftovers of my life.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What I Don't Know About the Golden Years Could Fill a Book

I’ve heard people lament that newborns don’t come with operating instructions. Senior citizens don’t have a guide either. I’m not sure when one actually becomes eligible for senior citizen status, but since I recently retired I’m pretty sure that I meet the criteria. I receive monthly communications from AARP and I can get the senior discount on Tuesday’s from Ross Dress for Less. No one has yet to question my right to the senior meal at Denny’s. Yep, I must be a senior citizen with all the rights and privileges that status confers. I am still, however, bumbling around trying to maximize this senior experience. AARP magazine hasn’t warned me of all of the dangers I will face in my golden years.

I got new glasses last week, bifocals. I really need glasses only to read, but I dislike constantly taking them on and off, so bifocals seemed the logical choice. Here’s the catch with bifocals that no one told me, as you adjust to focusing through bifocal lenses, it throws off your depth perception. I took two hard falls last Friday before I realized that my glasses were a problem. The first fall I landed on my left knee and my cheekbone. The left side of my face looks like I should be taking up residence in a domestic violence shelter. After a week my purple eye and cheek are fading to shades of green and lavender. Unfortunately my husband did not make this trip to Austin with me so I couldn’t play up the humor potential of this situation.

I finally have those sculpted high cheekbones that I’ve always wanted…well, make that cheekbone. At least the swelling fills out the crows feet.

What else am I going to learn the hard way about aging in America?
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