C.L. Bluestein
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ABOUT—My Journey

C.L. Bluestein: WONDERINGS:Essays
Spur of the Moment True and Fictional Stories/Essays

01/26/2012 Coffee Pot 03/30/2012 Refilling Rolls 06/01/2012 Wind Spinner
02/21/2012 Toothpast Tubes 04/15/2012 Coupons 08/25/2012 Trees Bifurcate
03/06/2012 Enough 04/21/2012 Girls' Day  
03/15/3012 Laundry Time 05/10/2012 First Garden Center  

8/25/2012 Trees Bifurcate

“Trees Bifurcate,” the tree guy says.
I’m surprised that I’ve never thought about this before. In the past, I’ve planted trees and they grew or didn’t. In my current garden, they do and do and do. I planted the weeping cherry ten years ago. An odd little tree with a hump and graceful hanging branches had a diameter just shy of four feet. By the end of last summer, it doubled in size. The fallout of the expanding shade was going to be the obliteration of full-sun flowering plants. Since I like to run an equal opportunity planting bed, I had to do something.
     After studying the tree for several days, I determined its basic shape, removed the space grabbing branches and whittled it down to an acceptable eight foot spread. Where it stayed for a few weeks before sending out new branches to reclaim the extra four feet and more. Since then, I’ve been sucked into a weekly tug of war for space.
     And, it’s not the only tree trying to take over its section of the yard. I saved a weeping pine, a noted slow grower. It took a season or two to get its bearings and now grows a foot or more each spring—sideways, drooping branches splaying out on the ground. It is supposed to be a specimen tree, an accent to the garden—not the whole garden. Not only do I have to trim it several times between spring and fall, I have to weigh down new growth determined to reach for the sky. Its branches shake with laughter whenever I walk by. Don’t think I don’t notice.
     Out of pity, I rescued a pitiful red split leaf Japanese maple stick and stuck it in the ground at the arbor entrance to my backyard. Over the years, it has flourished and, although it is a renowned slow grower, it has spent the last two years attempting to block the entrance. Every trimming is followed by new branches reaching outward, downward and onward.
     In the backyard, the Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick tree, a reserved deciduous slow grower with wonderful curly branches is going against type—sending out lengthy, curly branches in an effort to burst out of its corner. They reach for the sky and crawl along the ground. My purple cone flowers are losing sun and space. The backyard Japanese split leaf maples, one green and one red, are making themselves as resplendent as a male peacock, branches reaching out, down and up.
     A few clips here and there keep these trees in check. But not so for the Bradford pear tree that sits off garden center, to the right of my fish pond. It has white flowers in the spring, which fall into the fish pond. By August, it has quarter inch round pears on sprigs that weigh the branches down. And, in late September, it drops its leaves and remaining pears, which fall into the fish pond. In short, it is a beautiful but filthy tree that provides a huge amount of shade at thirty feet high and twenty feet around.
     My tree guy says, “I can trim it, but it will just grow more branches. You know, trees bifurcate. It will get even larger than it is now.”
     I say, “Take it down.”
     He says, “Be back in two weeks.”
     Ten seconds after he leaves, I’m obsessed with what the difference will be without this tree. I’m out in the yard observing the sun and shade during the morning, afternoon and evening, trying to figure out how it will be, how it will feel when the tree is removed. Imagining is not enough. I can’t wait two weeks because I can’t think of anything else. I’ve got to say that sometimes it’s hard to be me.
     When I feel the clippers in my empty hand, I know it’s time. I remove a few of the branches and observe the change for a few days. It’s not enough. With tree trimmers in hand I hack away at every branch I can reach, thanking the tree for its years of service and apologizing for the trimming and its ultimate demise. The tree is not in the mood to accept my verbal offerings. . It is glaring at me with an “I will not ‘go gentle into that good night!’” look. Branches are falling on my head, crashing down on other plants and encircling my ankles. I understand and accept the insults but carry on, intent on completing my mission. Once the limbs are down, I cut them and haul them to the curb. After a few hours, I am done.
     I stand back to observe. That’s when I realize that I’ve lost my glasses. My head drops and shakes back and forth. For a horticultural experiment, I’ve just turned a $250 tree job into $700. Wait! I look up. Maybe they’re not lost. I start to look around. The bag, packed down, several times, with leaves and cut up branches is at the curb. The thought of my glassed twisted and gnarled in that mess made me catch my breath.
     Before I go and tear into the leafy entrails, I decide to search the immediate area. Nothing. Using my fingers as a rake, I inspect the low garden plants and shrubs surrounding the tree. I find fallen leaves and small branches but no glasses. Then I remember the large branch that hit me on the head. I creep over to where I was standing and they are—slightly cockeyed but in one piece. An easy fix. Whew. I look up and thank the tree, promising to leave the rest to the tree guy.
     By noon I check to see how much more light is reaching the far right corner. The difference is visual and visceral. I am amazed at the new brightness. It’s not exactly how it will be but close. When the rest of the tree comes down I won’t be in sunlight shock. I won’t feel the emptiness as much. I’ll be able to move into the next phase of the garden.
     As the light changes, the garden changes. And, as the garden changes so do I.

6/1/2012 Wind Spinner

It is around 6:30 at night. I am sitting on my front porch with a flattened wood double helix wind spinner in my lap. Its sixty slates of wood, threaded on a wire rib, are the color of steel wool. I have just finish using teak oil on the table that sits between the two chairs which I painted this afternoon. They now match the maroon trim that surrounds my new wheat colored front door. These kinds of tasks are in the frequency range of almost never. But the new door has inspired me. I am updating my outdoor furniture and garden foot paths with the help of family, friends and students from our town’s Youth Employment Service.
     Tonight, everyone is gone. My two dogs are by my side as I contemplate the wind spinner. I just want it to look good. I decide to take the easy way out and just coat the front side and edges with teak oil. .After I finish, I spread the slats so they open up to form a double helix. The raw and aged top of each slat is pale next to its oiled deep toned side. The look is “dusty.” And then I wonder, “What would Jim do?”
     Jim Byrne was my BFF’s partner before he died suddenly of a heart attack. A meticulous Oral Surgeon, he retired early and made his hobby of woodturning into his art form. His desire for perfection not only showed in his work but was exemplified by the magic kingdom called his workshop. Lathes of all sizes and complexity stood among isles of work tables, curls of wood caressing each leg. The odor of wood and oil perfumed the air.
     A commercial grade blower system kept the room and his lungs clear of sawdust. If he needed unique equipment, he made it. His supplies were in labeled cabinets and drawers. I, who cannot keep my garage in order for more than an hour, was awed by the scene. And, I was not the only one. Jim was a valued and beloved member, friend, artist, teacher and mentor in the Lehigh Valley Woodcrafters Guild.
     Jim did not make the wind spinner I held in my hands. He bought it from another woodcrafter at a craft fair. I can see him talking to the artist for some time and in appreciation for the work and suggestions, thanked him by buying one of the pieces. His home, now my BFF’s home, is filled with exquisite pieces of art done by the wood turners he met and admired as well as his own. The spinner did not quite fall into that category and was relegated to the garage and then given to me. For years it weathered in my backyard as it hung and spun from the branch of my Bradford Pear Tree.
     “What would Jim do?” He would have taken the whole thing apart, sanded and oiled each side of the sixty slats as well as the top and bottom caps. If one of the slats looked or felt “off,” he would have replaced it. He might have even oiled each piece once or twice more before he put the wind spinner back together again. It would have been better than new – no doubt about it.
     I smile to myself becauseI know that’s not happening. But, it would look better if I oiled each slat. So, I sit in the waning May evening light, spinning each slat on its axis, oiling both top and bottom… and remembering a friend.

5/10/2012  First Garden Center

It’s a cold and windy spring but my garden is responding to the light. Every light or heavy rain encourages the roots to dig deeper and the shoots to grow skyward regardless of whether they are flowers or weeds. And, between the flowers, shrubs and weeds are “the babies.”
     I have no idea when my black thumb turned green. When I started out, I bought plants and put them in the ground. Often the same kind in three different locations, just to see which thrived one thrived where. Moved a few around. In the end, the garden was filled. Color appeared throughout the spring, summer and fall giving way to structure in winter. Everything was fine for the first couple of years. Then the plants reached maturity and the garden turned into a nursery for plant babies. It didn’t matter if it grew from a bulb or a seed, or whether it was a shrub or a perennial. Babies were everywhere.
     If you love the plant, how do you throw out its babies? I couldn’t. I widened the beds and reduced the lawn. I put in pathways so I could reach all the new plantings. Once they figured it out, the plants continued to reproduce out of control. The answer was tough love. Move them, give them away or toss them. And, as I contemplated what to do with each seedling, it came to me that I was reliving the birth of the very first garden center.
     It was five years four months and 13 days after Homo sapiens began to walk upright. Ugh and the pregnant Ahh followed with their three children in tow. Every once in a while, Ugh would stop and either kill a small animal or point his finger. If the former, Ahh would wait. If the later, Ahh would follow the line of point and pick the berries or dig the roots. Then they would return to their cave and prepare the food.
     On this particular day, after the meal, Ahh was cleaning the general area outside the cave. Off to the side, where she dumped the cave water, she noticed the very same berry plants she had seen in the woods were now growing by her home. She wondered how they got there. After pondering for a while, she had a vision of the family eating the berries and spitting out the seeds.
     To test her theory, Ahh took some of the un-eaten berries, ate them and spit the seeds on the ground next to the established plants. A few weeks later, the seeds germinated and she could see the leaves of the berry plant. Her berry patch grew larger. Next she tried it with roots, burying some from the day’s foraging. To her surprise, the roots grew. Soon, Ahh was tending the first garden. She had food at cave side and no longer had to traipse through the woods. Life was good.
     Ugh, on the other hand, was unhappy. He had to hunt for game alone. They never seemed to do anything together anymore. Perched on a stone near the cave entrance, he watched Ahh as she bent over her plants. Aroused he called to her but she waved him off. In frustration, he stood, pulled out his knife and slashed at the patch of long green blades in front of him. Exhausted, he surveyed his handiwork. Something was wrong. The green blades were uneven. Ugh pulled out his sharp shale tool and proceeded to cut them all to the same height, exhibiting the first recorded case of OCD.
      Over time, as the garden of plants grew so did the patch of green blades.
      “Enough!” Ugh said after one major growth expansion. “I do not want to take care of a patch of green blades larger than this. I am done and, therefore, you are done.”
     “But,” Ahh said. “I am growing food.”
     “We have enough food,” Ugh said.
     Ahh was sad. She decided to take a walk and noticed the flowers. She had seen them before but not given them much thought. They were not food. But now that she couldn’t grow food, maybe she could grow flowers. She didn’t see seeds so she just pulled them out of the ground. Lo and behold, they had roots and Ahh knew just what to do with roots. She pulled a few more and planted them all around the patch of green blades. Soon the visual attractiveness of their efforts drew the attention of the cave and rock community.
      Ahh’s food plants were prolific and the green blades grew. As Ahh gardened, Ugh spent more and more time working on the green blades. Ahh couldn’t calm him down. He was obsessed. He had to figure out a way to keep the green blades under control. He went deep into the cave and didn’t come out for seven suns. He emerged with a shale blade attached to the bottom of a long branch – the first scythe. Ugh tested his new tool and declared it a success.
      Ahh walked over to her patch of food and flowers. They were hardy and prolific. She noticed sometimes the the baby plants were close by and other times they popped up across the patch. They were taking up too much room. There wasn’t enough space but she couldn’t bear to throw them out. Before she had no choice, she had an idea.
      Ahh wrapped the baby plants in bark filled with dirt and set them on rocks by the cave. Then she gave out a shout and invited the cave dwellers to come and see. She told them about the baby plants and the kind of care they needed. Everyone took home with a baby plant and, out of courtesy, left a bit of something for Ahh on the rocks.Thus, the very first garden center was born... and Ugh got three orders for his scythe. (top)

4/21/2012 Girls' Day

     Every other Saturday my five year old granddaughter, Olivia, spends “Girls Day” with me. We walk my two dogs; feed the fish in my pond; shop, walking the aisles hand-in-hand; and lunch at a Chinese Buffet. We check out the food, discuss the selections and pick what we like plus one to try. The afternoon is saved for home based stuff like working in the garden or doing an arts and crafts project. Throughout the day we talk, sing, figure, count and investigate.
     This past Saturday afternoon, we were sitting on the front porch and snacking on cantaloupe, Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies and Tootsie Rolls. Dark storm clouds were rolling in and we heard thunder in the distance. We started singing “Rain Rain Go Away.” On our third round, we watched in surprise as the wind shifted and the clouds started moving backwards, revealing blue skies, white clouds and the sun.
     Olivia couldn’t believe she made the rain go away. I explained she is my granddaughter and she is a descendant of powerful and magical women. We decided to feed and walk the dogs while the weather was nice.
     When we returned, I asked Olivia if she’d like to help me prepare some sweet potatoes for baking.
     “Oh, yes,” she said.
     I washed and handed the potatoes to her. She placed them on the baking sheet and counted, “One ,  Two, Three ….”
     Then I took a knife and pierced each potato.
     “What are you doing, Grandma?”
     “I’m piercing each potato so it doesn’t explode.”
      Her large brown eyes, rimmed with thick long curled lashes, open wide. “The potatoes will explode?”
      “Yes,” I say. “The moisture inside the potato gets so hot that the steam will split the potato.”
      “Is that why you’re cutting them?”
      “Right. This way the steam can get out.”
     Olivia gives me a look that says, “You’re kidding me.”
     “Really. If I don’t do it, the potato’s insides will explode all over the oven… and someone will have to clean it up.” I stopped prepping the potatoes and looked directly at her and waited.
      She was standing next to me and fiddling with something on the counter. When I stopped talking, she looked up at me. I looked at her. She looked at me. I looked at her and raised my eyebrows.She looked at me and raised her eyebrows. Then her face went serious and her eyes narrowed as she realized that I meant she would be the “someone.” Without breaking eye contact, she brought her hand up between us and pointed at me several times. Without saying a word, she made it crystal clear she was not cleaning up any form of exploded potato in an oven. That job was mine.
     I burst out laughing. “Don’t worry. I don’t want to do it either.”
     When she realized she wasn’t in trouble, she started laughing too. We finished the potatoes and decided to rest so she could read her book aloud to me. The perfect ending to our “Girls' Day” together. (top)

4/15/2012 Coupons

     I used to scour the newspapers and flyers for coupons. I clipped and sorted. I even bought a small coupon holder to keep track of the coupons by aisle or by type. Armed to save hundreds of dollars, I inevitably found out at the register that I had left the coupons on the counter at home and my shopping trip cost me double. After several attempts, I stopped obsessing and quit couponing. Although, I will admit to saving coupons that never expire and those I put in my car, just in case.
     Flash forward many years to this past weekend. I’m at my sister Joan’s apartment in the Upper East Side ready to go to a writer’s conference to pitch my novel to several agents. The excitement is offset by my fear of driving alone on New York City streets, with no second set of eyes to help navigate or locate parking spaces.
     Joan has helped me out by finding me coupons for parking lots near my destination. Three “Park for $10” coupons are in each of two packets – one for Saturday and one for Sunday. I take one and head out to my car. I put the GPS on bright and loud. Then I punch in my destination, push start and aim for the “designated start point.”
     Within seconds, I’m weaving through city streets to the Harlem Drive that turns into the FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) Drive with all its attendant beeping and weaving, racing and crawling traffic. I’m listening to the GPS voice and watching the screen while using every mirror the car possess as well as paying attention to the road and cars ahead. My mouth is dry and my knuckles are white because I’m terrified that I’ll wind up in Brooklyn.
      Twenty minutes later I make it to parking lot. The wrong one the attendant tells me in precise accented English while he shows me the coupon and reads aloud while using his finger as a pointer. It’s the same company but there is no sharing. So, I turn around, praying I don’t hit anyone crossing the side walk or anything moving on the narrow street. After a cautious seventy-five feet, I arrive at the correct parking garage and leave my car. Color returns to my knuckles as I walk to my destination.
      Eight hours later, I’m back at the garage. I give the attendant the coupon and pull out …. Oh my god, I’ve misplaced my credit card. My pocketbook is only so big and my hand tells me it’s not there. Not good enough. I have to see for myself. So, on a narrow black enamel ledge meant to hold nothing, I begin unloading the contents of my pocketbook. It was not a pretty sight. I do not carry a coordinated and labeled set of small purses to facilitate organization. So every pack of gum, wisp of tissue, pen and paper lay naked and visible, teetering with every movement of air. No credit card. But, I do have cash. Whew. I pull out ten dollars and when he sees it he shakes his head.
     “No Cash” the attendant says in perfect accented English, “if you want to use this coupon.”
     I explain I don’t have a credit card, I only have cash. He repeats himself, pointing to the fine print on the coupon, “Must be used with credit card only.” Then he looks at me with eyes that say, “I only do what I’m told. I follow procedures to the letter. I’ve worked hard for this job and I’m not going to blow it over this.”
     It cost me twenty-eight dollars, not ten, to bail my car out of parking prison. I even tipped the guy because it’s not his fault I didn’t have my credit card. Once I hit the street, I forget about the money and go into white knuckle mode. With renewed fear in my heart, I focus on maintaining the unspoken city requirement of two inches between moving objects and tune out the honking and yelling which might have been meant for me. Then, when I’m almost home, I’m faced with a bear right or left situation and my GPS person is OTL. As soon as I went right, I realized I was in trouble. It’s called the Bronx. The detour, with help from a traffic cop who took his time getting off his cell phone, only cost me twenty-minutes which I spent praying I wasn’t going in circles.
     The next day, a new day, a better day, I prepare to walk out the door and Joan calls out, “Do you have my credit card? Did you take the coupon?”
     “Yes, Yes. I’m good,” I say knowing full well that I still have the coupon from yesterday as I leave Sunday’s coupon packet on the table, saving myself six steps and eleven seconds.
     The day starts with an easy drive straight to the parking lot. I smile at the attendant, leave and return eight hours later. With an air of efficiency and confidence, I hand the attendant the coupon and “my” credit card. He takes them both and hands me back the coupon. “Wrong parking garage,” he says. “See, wrong address.” His finger points and underlines the problem again.
      I am stunned. It is the same packet I handed him yesterday. My jaw dropped and my eye-brows shot up to my hair line. He must have taken my look of utter disbelief as one of incomprehension.
     “Wrong garage,” he says again, exaggerating his lip movement as he says the words. I’m sure he thinks I don’t speak English or I have a hearing problem.
     I am not, absolutely not going to pay the twenty-eight dollars again. I search through all the pockets of my pocketbook, lining papers on the small black ledge again. Nothing. I tell him the coupon must be in the car. He shrugs and brings the car to the checkout area and gets out shaking his head. I can’t believe it and I check. No coupon. Not on the front seat. Not tucked in either visor. Not on the floor in the front or back.
     As the inevitable dawns, I shake my head at my flat-line learning curve. I’ve got to take a coupon management and fine print comprehension course if I’m going to financiallysupport my independent lifestyle. The attendant appears behind the desk again and waits. The muscles in my jaw twitch, my right eye lid exhibits a tic-like flutter and my hand shakes as I count out the bills and pay the freaking twenty-eight dollars – again!
     Knuckles white, I drive cross town and go up the West Side Highway. Once again, my GPS is OTL and I don’t trust what I’m seeing… then I do, then I don’t, then I make a wrong turn again. I’m bound for Riverdale – just like the Bronx but more expensive and with fewer exits. I panic and spy a place to cross the divider. After a quick scan of the area reveals no traffic and no police, I do it. As one who gets ticketed for even thinking about stopping in a no parking zone, I’m relieved and thankful that I don’t get caught.
     Within five minutes, I’m safe in Joan’s apartment. She puts a large glass of wine in my catatonic hand and orders me to drink. As I return to normal, I realize I’ve lived my own weekend version of “Groundhog Day” and survived. Cheers!

PS I found out after I got home from both my daughter and my other sister that the same scenario played out when they were in the city several weeks ago. The attendants are trained to question and/or lose coupons and encouraged to behave in any way that will result in full payment, preferrably cash. I still feel inadequate, but less so. (top)

3/30/2012 Refilling Rolls

     For years in the advice columns of newspapers there has been the ever present confusion over which way toilet paper should be placed on the holder: loose end on top to the front or to the back. Of course it is to the front otherwise we all couldn't make those lovely pointed end finishes that greet our family and friends on special occasions. With the answer firmly established, I move to the more intriguing issue of whose job is it to put the toilet paper roll on the roller? How many times have you found the new roll of toilet paper delicately balanced on the empty roller below? My extensive research has yielded the following: people who live alone – pets do not count – always exchange the empty card board with the new roll of toilet paper. Everyone else thinks it’s not their job. Don’t take my word for it. Feel free to run your own studies.
     So, that got me to thinking about the enormity of such a complex task. I’ve timed it and the whole operation, including removal of the old tube and bar, removal of the wrapping of the new roll, the actual exchange and replacement of the tube and the tossing of the remnants into the garbage. It takes less than two minutes -- eighty-seven point three nine two five seconds to be exact, And, I might add, it requires no specialized skills.
     What’s happening in a bathroom interlude of anywhere from two to thirty minutes that immobilizes the muscles in human brains and hands? How complex is one’s life that this simple act is too trivial to be considered even as eyes stare at the need. “I see the toilet paper needs to be changed. I see the new roll that I need to use but (and this is key) I’ve got the answer to the world’s budget crisis and I’m late for the meeting.” Right? That’s not happening. It’s probably more like, “I don’t want my beer to get cold,” or “No time, I left the car running,” or “I did it yesterday, someone else can do it today.” All of which is about after the fact.
     When my family all lived in the same house, this awful job was left to me. Everyone else was too busy working or cramming their heads full of critical information required for their race to adulthood. And, yes it was me who said to herself, “Of all the things that I do around here,” realizing that “all” meant different things to each member of my family, “I am not going to be responsible for this too!”
     So, you might wonder, did it work? Absolutely not. Rolls sat on empty cardboard tubes that sat on the rollers that sat in their holders for months on end unless I intervened on behalf of visitors to our sanctuary – who would then leave the new roll balanced…. (top)

3/15/3012 Laundry Time

     It seems that being a woman of a certain age that I should have figured out all the short cuts to efficiencies that would make my life saner and more orderly. I've come close to mastering "everything in its place" so that I can find my keys most of the time. I know the three places where I might have left my glasses and the five places where I might have left my shoes, or slippers or house scuffs. After all, I live alone in a single story duplex.But, when it comes to things I'm not partial to, that take time out of my day, away from my writing, gardening, dogs and family, I'm hopeless.
     Why is it that I must wait until I have no more underwear before I do a wash? It's not like I'm unaware the pile is dwindling. I see it go down every day. And for the last five days of the cycle, I vow to do laundry after my walk with the dogs or after gardening, or at night while watching TV. But I never get to it. I guess I just like living on the edge. "Do Laundry" sounds like an occupation. For me it doesn't even approach complex. Get hamper, move it less than ten feet, put hamper contents into washer, add detergent, close door, pick cycle and push button. When done, shift to dryer less than nine inches away. Close door, pick cycle and push button. Sometimes this is as far as I get. I use the dryer as a closet for a few days before I get to the "folding and put away" part.
     One evening in the spring of 1990, before our monthly bridge game, our hostess, Lynn, took us on a tour of her new laundry room. Many ooo's and ahhhh's showed our appreciation of the efficiency planning that went into her new space. A place for detergent, softener, spot removers, whitening, dye removers and all their applicators. A bucket for items retrieved out of pockets and a jar for errant change – coins and bills. Everything handy and organized.
      Rita and I were the last to leave. I stayed because I was enthralled by Lynn and Rita's conversation. They talked about sorting laundry into piles of white, light, part colors - part white, all colors - no white and dark laundry; and about when to use what product and how. I found out that things that had never crossed my mind were a part of their daily challenge to provide whiter than white clothing with richer than rich colors.
      I stood there mute. What would they think of my sorting method: clothes that don't run versus clothes that do? As if they read my mind, their eyes met mine. "Don't look at me," I said, raising my arms to ward off any form of attack. "I'm lucky if I do two loads of laundry every two weeks. And, as of right now, I still have three days to go." (top)

3/6/2012 Enough

     Scared by the numbers on a scale that showed my don’t-ever-go-there-again weight, I decided changes were in order. I was already making healthy choices but maybe it was time to adjust portion control and exercise. Perhaps I need to start eating like I’m ten years older so by the time I get there, I’ll be better prepared to cut down even more. Why, you might ask do I even care. First is my health and second is that I think I have one bump ‘n roll too many for any future suitor. Thank goodness that God, in a sudden vision of an aging Eve, made sure that all naked women looked great lying down on their backs after sunset and, for daylight, God invented the kimono tent dress. Unfortunately, God didn’t foresee the effects of chocolate. Women, I might add, have fought back by bearing children and making sure a significant number become plastic surgeons. But wait, I digress.
     Back to eating. Before I commit to smaller portions, maybe I could do it with natural additives. After watching a week of Dr. Oz and The Doctors, I had a list of two hundred thirty-seven supplements from twelve countries, touted by twenty-seven specialists. I whittled the list down to three plus cinnamon. The cinnamon comes loose and I have to bag it. Not efficient. No problem, I say to myself, I’ll go see what kind of containers they have in the “what-not” aisle.
      As I’m looking, I remember all the containers I’ve thrown out over the years and start kicking myself. I’ve tossed close to a million margarine cups, half as many Chinese containers and half again as many condiment bottles – all of which I was saving for an emergency – like today. On the other hand, I can just buy another container – right now. At the very moment I picked up a bright shiny reflective silver cup and lid, an Angel of God whispered in my ear, “You have containers at home. Trust me. If you buy another one, I will remove three fingers from your dominant hand.” What can I say? Life is good and I am grateful that I still have all my fingers. (top)

2/21/2012 Toothpaste Tubes

      So, I have a confession. All my life I have been a squeezer. Put a toothpaste tube in front of me and I pick it up, and according to my late husband, Michael, just squeeze. And after the appropriate toothpaste sits on my toothbrush, I put the tube down on the sink with or without the top being fastened. Done, until the next time. It didn't take long, as you can imagine for us to have separate toothpaste tubes and I was not to touch his on pain of death. I didn't know what his problem was.
      Once my tube of toothpaste was fully pretzelized, I straightened it by rubbing it against the edge of the sink, while pushing whatever remaining toothpaste lingered in the myriad of pockets toward the open end. Then, I'd roll up the empty (and we all know that if you opened the back end there was still toothpaste lingering so empty is descriptive not necessarily true) tube and have enough toothpaste for at least the next couple of days.
     Technology and a frustrated spouse/partner have come up with a toothpaste tube that stands on it's head! Gravity works between brushings to draw the toothpaste to the end of the tube where it is ready to go at a moment's light squeeze. And I, on my own, with no one complaining, decided only recently that if I pinch the tube at the airborne edge, the tube stands and stays neat on the sink. The bonus feature is that the cap always has to be tight so the tube doesn't topple over. Michael and I would have been married for 48 years this August and I know he is watching and laughing his head off. Not so much that it took me so long (we all know change takes time), but that I'm doing it at all. As for me, maybe I just have refocus my priorities. I wonder -- what's next? (top)

1/26/2012 Coffee Pot

     I needed a coffee or tea pot that serves eight to ten people. In my credenza, I have the coffee pot that I've had since I was married in 1964 and used less than a total of six months. In fact, I can't remember when I used it last. I looked around for the plug and it was nowhere. I remember I kept the pot in the lower cabinet of my kitchen. Maybe the plug was there or maybe it was in my storage closet. No luck. I had to go out and get a new one.
      I decided to look for an electric tea kettle instead of a coffee pot and found the prices outrageous for something I'll use maybe three or four times a year. I worked my way down from the designer stores to Walmart. No luck. It was back to a coffee pot. The least expensive is an aluminum coffee maker for forty dollars. It looks like the updated version of the one I have. Damn. But I get it because I need it.
     The coffee pot without its insides made the perfect tea kettle. It did its job and I'm so glad I bought it. At the end of the day, after everything else was cleaned up and put away, I rinsed out the pot, dried it and set it on the counter. I got the plug and without thinking put it inside the pot because I didn't want to lose this one too. I looked at the plug inside the pot for a moment and a bubble burst in my brain. "No way!" I walked over to the credenza, picked up my old coffee pot and pulled off the lid. Inside was the coffee stem, the coffee basket and its top. I lifted the top and inside the basket was the plug.
     Some things change and some things never change.No, I didn't return the new one. I figure now I have the option of twenty-four cups of hot water, or hot water and coffee or…. It doesn't matter. The door's open. I'm ready. Friends and family welcome. (top)

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