?`s and ANNEswers

Ten minutes to write. Less time to read.

Father’s Day

Or is it Fathers’ Day?

I’ve never paid much attention, since I didn’t meet my own father until I was forty-eight. And we never really acknowledged what I call this Hallmark holiday.

Still, a conversation with my son this evening made me reconsider. His own father passed away a year ago at this time. And several fathers of his close friends have died recently. So he was most reverent about the day.

I saw a lot of tributes on Facebook too, most of them filled with superlatives about the particular man being honored. But one of them, written by a close friend of my son, noted the absence of a father in his life and the ensuing bewilderment about this day.

Perhaps because of my own background, I found his post the most poignant of all.


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Marsh Girl

I just finished reading Where the Crawdads Sing, the current wunderkind of the NY Times’ Best Sellers List,. It’s been listed Number One for weeks; no, months.

Bottom line: I liked it. A lot. It’s a perfect summer read. A coming of age story. A murder mystery. And many lessons about our planet’s natural resources.

At the same time, I have quibbles. The end seems made for a Hollywood movie, and I understand that Reese Witherspoon is involved in one. The two halves – called The Marsh and The Swamp – are written in two different tones. The first is luscious, rich in description of the world of Kya, the protagonist. The second is a la Grisham, as a court case evolves. There have been public complaints that these halves don’t mesh. But I say they do, given the locale of each. The first is purely natural; the second man-made.

And then there’s the twist at the end. It resolves a lot of questions but is unfair to the reader’s allegiance to Kya. I almost wish the author had left the issue of how Chase Andrews died as an ellipsis instead of a period.

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Forgetting your membership card for the local health club isn’t a problem; the person at the front desk can look up your name and photo and see that it’s you.

But obtaining a key for a locker is another story. It’s not because the lockers are so valuable; it’s because members tend to not return their keys when they’re finished working out. So the front desk asks for collateral, usually one’s own car keys.

The system works well, except when I ride with someone else and leave my purse in her parked car rather than bring it in.  So what do I have that’s valuable enough to get a locker key? Something I would never dream of leaving behind?

“The only thing I have is my lip balm,” I told the desk clerk. “And I assure you, I’m addicted to that. I’ll trade you one Chapstick® for one key.”

The desk clerk smiled and launched into her own story of lip balm and what it means to her. The other clerk chimed in too. And the key to locker 130 was mine. You never know how connections and collateral will come together.

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Basil and Cilantro

This season I am growing basil and cilantro from seed. This should probably have been started inside in mid-Spring, but I missed that boat. I’m in the one where the crops will be late summer bloomers.

I sprinkled the packets of seeds in their own large flowerpots. If they were to have been arranged gently, one by one, I missed that instruction too. And now, about two weeks into the mission, the baby seeds are sprouting on top of each other. There will be plenty of herbs for my spaghetti and guacamole; that is, if the little sprouts survive the overcrowding.

Most likely they should be thinned, so I’m asking friends and neighbors if they want to take some off my hands for their own pasta. The process is similar to giving away free kittens and puppies. You have to ask a lot of people to find enough good homes, particularly because the wiser gardeners already have their starter plants in place. Next year, I’ll sprinkle the seeds more judiciously.

I do think Basil and Cilantro would make good names for fraternal twins. With Rosemary, which I’m also growing, if there were triplets involved.


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One Sentence, One Song

It’s a scientific fact that time accelerates as people age. And over the past fifteen months, my life sped by so fast that two of the pleasures I enjoy most – thoughtful writing and heartfelt piano playing — literally fell by the wayside.

I wrote copious emails and tried to fit in piano practice each day; but with the various doctors’ appointments and therapies for both Earl and me, my heart wasn’t in it. So for my birthday, I decided these two activities deserved more attention.

But instead of assigning an hour to “practice” each activity every day, I decided to start with writing one sentence and playing one song. A modest goal, but achievable. Besides, the seer in me predicted that if I accomplished this, more words and more musical notes would follow.

Because the hardest part is to sit down and begin again.

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Hydrogen Infused Water

The large poster at the end of the beverage aisle caught my eye. It was mounted atop stacks of what looked like plain old water in plastic bottles and said in watery blue capital lettering: Hydrogen Infused Water.

I took chemistry in high school half a century ago, but I still remember that water is composed of. two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen. Hence, the symbol for it on the Periodic Table of Elements is H20.

Maybe they don’t teach chemistry in schools today, so younger generations might not know that to be water in the first place, hydrogen is involved. The cynic in me chalked the poster up to marketing efforts.

But I went home and researched the term. Turns out hydrogen infused water is a hot craze these days because of its antioxidant activity, its anti-inflammatory properties, and its ability to boost one’s energy level. At least this is what Fox News, Huff Post, and Time Magazine have said. The FDA hasn’t said any of this but has acknowledged that HWater (as it’s been dubbed) is safe.

There is more on the Internet than I wanted to know: how to infuse water (It’s not something you can do at home yet.), some confusion between drinking HWater and hydrogen peroxide (The former is safe; the latter is potentially injurious to your health), and whether it really works in the first place (The jury is still out.).

I’m just waiting for Starbucks® to introduce a line of coffee products using HWater. That’s when I’m switching to the supermarket brand.

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I haven’t blogged in fifteen months, so it took a while to remember how to log in to my WordPress account, edit the post, and put it online. I muddled through the new look on the screen, the additional services that are now offered, and other supposedly enhanced features.

In the end, I didn’t do it right. Even after a second and third try. So now instead of doing something I enjoy each day, this has turned into a project. I’ll figure it out, and one day several blogs will appear at once.

It reminds me that the only constant in today’s world is change.

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Anyone who knows me well knows I assumed I would not reach my seventy-fifth birthday, because I never wanted to court loneliness and health issues alone. My husband is nine years older. Should he pass away before me, there are no siblings to count on; no children who live nearby, no easy solutions.

The last five years – from 70 to 75 – have been filled with health challenges, travel challenges, relationship challenges, and more. They’ve probably been filled with wonderful memories too. But it’s the challenges that stand out. The cancer issues, the lack-of-energy issues, the contemporary society issues, the blah, blah, blah.

I’m definitely a twentieth century personality living in a twenty-first century world. I don’t like Facebook or Twitter and prefer to pick up an old fashioned landline to resolve a problem. I like to hold a book in my hands. A real book.

I don’t want to be staring at my phone in a restaurant while my husband stares at his. Nor do I want to navigate kiosks to order a cup of coffee at McDonald’s or sign in for my doctor’s appointment.

What I want is personal communication, preferably one on one. Meaningful experiences. Memories at the end of the day. And, truthfully, my birthday yesterday held all those. Perhaps the curmudgeon in me will be won over.

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It’s early morning. The doorbell rings.

My neighbor stands on the other side of our storm door, Besides living in the same community, what we really have in common is cancer. We see the same oncologist.

I open the door enough to peek my head out; it’s not in my nature to swing it wide and invite unexpected guests, even familiar neighbors, in. From behind his back he brings out a round, hand-made basket with a lid. Making them is one of his many hobbies.

“Happy Birthday,” he says. How did he know? 

“I hope you find some beautiful things to fill it.” If you only knew how challenging this past year has been! 

“I’ll fill it with all the good things that will happen to me this year.”

He doesn’t skip a beat. “Then I’ll have to bring you a bigger basket.”

He smiles and turns to go. My birthday begins . . .

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And Done

Of course the last day didn’t go down easy. In the middle of my session, Liam broke. The technicians waited to see if it would reset, joking that this was an omen which meant I needed 33 more sessions. It must have been hospital humor.

 Liam didn’t reset. But after those patients who were scheduled for the other machine finished, I finally finished too. It was almost time for everyone to go home, but I would have spent the night had it been necessary to complete #33.

 As I dressed, I thought of the card that accompanied the beautiful bouquet of yellow roses and white daisies that arrived on our doorstep today. “Radiation is finished, and you can return to being you!”

 And so I rang the bell!

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