One Thing Leads To Another

Today I’m thankful for slight dissatisfaction.

I visited the older lady I help last week.  I think I’m going to call her “Julia” to avoid some of the usual linguistic wrangling I force on myself.  She didn’t need my help with any cleaning so we sat and talked for almost two hours.  She was fairly upbeat.  One of her sons is visiting this week and she is looking forward to seeing him.  She’s lived a full life, has an intriguing perspective, and is happy to help if she can.  I always learn something from her.

My experience is that every so often life can feel stale, and you evolve or flounder.  I’m generally satisfied with my life.  I enjoy my colleagues, my family is healthy and my ridiculous dog makes me laugh – especially when she snores.  My plants are still mostly alive.  All together, it’s a stable place to determine what might come next.  I asked “Julia” her thoughts.  The woman never says the expected.  As a result, I’m going to try completing some courses for a doctorate in forestry.

I say “try” because it depends on flexible I can be at work.  My employer offers very generous tuition reimbursement.  I don’t know that I want to pursue the actual doctoral degree (earning the post-grad degree I do have was a comically horrible experience that may one day earn its own post), but I’ve always been fascinated by the subject, I’m trying to live more consciously, and I’ve got the one life so I might as well try to pursue what I love.  Excelsior.

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What Are You Baking?

This is a short one.  Today I’m thankful for choices in food.

Today was another visit to the older gal I help with housekeeping.  She is endlessly entertaining.  As I left she asked if I needed to do anything else.  I replied that I still had to bake.  She is a marvelous baker and so inquired if it was anything special for Christmas.  I told her that I need to bake my tofu.  Her expression was immediate, and very funny.  She looked like she’d swallowed a lemon slice.  She loves stir fried vegetables, and acknowledges the convenience of tofu as a food, but she would rather eat almost anything else.  I feel similarly about mushrooms.  I truly enjoy spending time with her.

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Please Stop Calling Me

Today I’m thankful for concerned relatives.

Today was another visit with the older gal I help.  She had me clean both bathrooms and dust the second bedroom.  She’d fallen a little behind because of numerous doctor visits.  She didn’t particularly mind the appointments.  She planned ahead, anticipating a long interval at the offices.  However, she didn’t foresee spending an even longer time on the telephone repeating the story to each of her children, grandchildren and all of their spouses.  She said “as soon as I got off the phone with one here comes another calling; a body needs a break to think!”.  I suggested she designate one person to keep the rest updated.  She has a large family.

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Yes, But She’s MY Battleaxe

Today I’m thankful for my grandmother.

I’m not wholly sure how to describe her.  She is gracious, wickedly funny and occasionally terrifying.  The woman is a gourmet cook and born hostess who could put Martha Stewart or Mary Berry to shame.  She sings like a big band girl singer.  She has a habit of mentioning recent local deaths whenever we visit and seems to relish the especially grisly ones.

This tendency was happily displayed the last time my sister visited.  I only heard about this after the fact from my father – I was not there.  I laughed so hard I went hoarse.  Gran told my sister (my father was there as well) about a man in town who had killed his parents.  With an axe.  A month previously.  She’d sat on the information all that time, saving it to tell my sister in person.  My sister lives a four hour drive away so it can be a while between visits.  I don’t if Gran was in on the joke, thinking “they always say I talk about people dying so I’ll show them” or if she genuinely thought my sister would find the information interesting.  She is absolutely canny enough to be in on it but would never admit such a thing.  I adore this woman.

An Iron Chef Needs One

Today I’m thankful for iron skillets.

The older lady I volunteer with asked me to clear her kitchen cupboards.  I discovered she had five iron skillets in all different sizes.  I have one skillet and one soup pan.  I told her as much.

She retorted, quite reasonably, that iron skillets are about the single best thing to have in your kitchen.  You can fry anything edible in them.  They can safely be put in the oven to make pie or corn bread.  Mmmm, pie.  With proper care and seasoning they will last practically forever.  She had four boys.  I imagine she always had multiple pans going, both literally and figuratively.

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Clean Patios and Listening

Today I’m thankful for the old gal I hang out with.

I volunteer with a group that provides respite for caregivers.  I was matched with a widow who needs some help with housekeeping.  It’s really only vacuuming.  She might have me do the bathroom if she’s feeling particularly daring.

Last time I visited I trimmed down her plants for winter and cleaned up her patio.  One of her kids was coming to visit soon.  She told me everything she had planned because she was excited.  All I had to do was listen and nod occasionally.  Don’t ever underestimate the importance of interpersonal contact.  I was probably the only other person she’d seen that day and what she wanted to share was important to her.  Visiting with her is a privilege.