Author Archives: Busswoman

About Busswoman

I am a woman who has loved the written word all my life. I was an avid reader throughout my childhood and am still hooked on books in my adulthood. Writing has been a hobby for a very long time. Opening a new blog is a new adventure and one I hope will be a positive experience. My goal is to simply have a place to put my thoughts down in an easy format, and if in the process, my words give another person some enjoyment, then it is all the better. In the meantime, I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN! (All rights reserved...content found within may not be used without permission)

Peppermint Patty!

A while back, I was volunteering at the front desk of a local health care center. One morning, as I was greeting people who were arriving to visit a loved one, I had a fun experience with one of the visitors.

That morning, I saw a very well dressed older woman walk through the front door to visit her husband. She was short and plump with very thin hair. I had seen her before on other visits and had come to see, as the weeks passed, how much she seems to enjoy wearing makeup and perfume. It was also apparent that she put a lot of time and effort in getting herself ready for the day.  She was always immaculately dressed in a flashy, colorful ensemble of one style or another. The style always varied, but the bright colors were ever present.

She must have some form of arthritis because as she pushes through the front door, she walks in an awkward staccato fashion, her heels creating a loud clacking sound with each short, jerky step. Heads turn as she approaches the guest register where she signs in.

One day, she arrived wearing a large hot pink brimmed straw hat which boasted a prominent silk peony tucked into the wide pink polkadot band above the brim. She also wore a long flowing multicolored blouse with Capri pants, all in a matching shade of Peppermint Patty pink.  She was wearing large earrings, a matching necklace, and an infinite amount of thin bracelets stacked high up her arm starting at her wrist. On her feet were cute little pink shoes with a large pink flower sitting on top of each one.

I was blinded by the light….a bright pink light, I might add. She and I had a very sweet conversation where I eventually complimented her on her ensemble, to which she responded,

“Well, thank you Sweetie! You make me happy that I went to all this trouble this morning!” I chuckled and said “Me too!”

One of the most fun parts of life, for me, is seeing the variety of humans God has created.  No wonder we call Him “The Great Creator” because CREATIVE He was when it came to the human race.

Out of dust He created all kinds of people….tall ones, short ones, skinny ones, chubby ones, curly hair, straight hair, no hair, blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes, hazel eyes, light skin, dark skin, smooth skin, wrinkled skin, big butts, little butts, long legs, short legs, (you get the picture!) 

As “Patty” (the name I nicknamed her in my mind that day in honor of her pink outfit) went down the hall, she left me with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Why? Well, I just saw a person who was wholly and uniquely herself. She wasn’t following another persons idea of how she “could be”, nor another person’s opinion for how they think she “should” LOOK or be.

In a world where so many people seem to buy into the idea that we should all look the same, weigh the same, live the same and think the same….I was blessed to see someone who walked in as the “real deal”. She was proud to be the person that God created in the first place, albeit “gussied up”.  No plastic surgery for this woman. Of course she was trying to “improve on creation” a little bit with her clothing and makeup, but over all, she seemed content with the package she was born with.

When I told her how much I looked forward to seeing how she was dressed each time she visited, she beamed at the compliment (which, no doubt, reinforced her determination to bless the world with her personally chosen custom packaging), she leaned into me and said…

“Well, honey…The way I see things is this way….the effort I put into my appearance is MY little gift to the world”.

I let out an uproarious and appreciative laugh on that one and she laughed with me. Honestly, she made my day with that statement because she was being completely sincere when she said it. This was, indeed, exactly her motivation in how she saw herself….as a gift! In the south, isn’t this where one says “Bless her heart!” Maybe we would ALL do better to take on the philosophy of presenting our best version of ourselves out in the world.

      Anyway, it was more pleasure to rest my eyes on her than on someone who has bought what the industry has decided is the “perfect” package.  Moral of the story?

BE YOURSELF because NO ONE is better at being YOU than YOU!  

    Besides, I just love Peppermint Patty, don’t you?

Jjb/11/6/2019

Courage

I work very part time at the front desk of an Assisted living, although I use the word “work” very loosely because I enjoy it that much. Everyone needs a sense of purpose and value, and this happens to be mine. Working the front desk gives me a chance to interact with people who are old and for one reason or another, cannot live alone at home anymore. I love it! I love the conversations that take place and how their personalities emerge as I get to know each one a little better.

In America, being old is a mixed bag for most. We all want to live a good long life, but we think of it in terms of living independently, having enough money, and being in good health. Most of us will eventually have health issues and some of us will need assistance.

One day, an older ex-musician rolled up to the desk in a wheel chair. He asked me if I could help him figure out a financial equation. I said,

“Sure…if I can. What do you need help with?

He said, “Well, I just sold my house for $$$$$$$$$$. How long will that money allow me to live here?”

I was taken aback because he is in his mid 70’s…So, I asked him how much he paid for rent and divided that into the house sale amount.

I said “6 1/2 years.”

Because he looked so deflated, I then said, “Wait a minute you must have social security, right?”

He nodded, and told me the amount. So I added that to the equation and then I said “Looks like 9 years now and we have not taken into account the interest on your money”. (Also did not take into account the usual annual price hike in rent, but did not want to mention that).

He held eye contact with me for a long moment, nodded his head again, then rolled away down the hall to his Apartment. I felt his fear.

Working a few hours a week at this place has given me great insight into what a lot of people deal with in old age. There are many who are content here. The staff is very good and very good to the residents. They have good meals and planned activities for those who are interested. Some have devoted family members which makes all the difference for a residents sense of self worth. Its a very nice place to live. However, there are a number of them who are just doing their best to “make the best” of living so long.

Courage comes in all forms. We think of it when we watch people go off to war or dare devils performing dangerous stunts. We see it in people who have been given a terminal diagnosis. We see it when someone loses someone who was very dear to them and now they have to go forward in life without them. To live this life in this world takes a LOT of courage.

It also takes a lot of courage to live in old age. You find yourself dealing with the loss of friends and family who have died. You deal with the indignities of a failing body or a failing mind. You put on a happy face when you feel it is expected even though you may not be the least bit happy because you know that people avoid sour old people. If you had children, they are now grown and enjoying their own adult lives, which in this day and age often means living far away in a distant place with calendars full of comings and goings and you get a very small percentage of their time (if you are one of the lucky ones) and you smile broadly when they come to see you so they will come again.

Old age for some people is no different than their previous ages other than the understandable slowing down as they reach their 80’s, 90’s and even 100’s. These people are living independently and in reasonably good health and have enough money to see them through to the end. But, the majority of our elderly are living lives that demand courage and tenacity and fortitude.

I see courage in these people every single day as they live their lives knowing that they are on the other side of the hill. Most of them love to engage with other people in their surroundings by having a good laugh, by sharing a tidbit of news, and by encouraging someone who needs a bit of a psychic lift on any given day. A lot of them will be social during meal time but then will go back to their apartments where they feel in control of their surroundings, where they can nap, read, and reflect and do whatever suits them.

Inside these aging bodies resides the ageless spirit and personality of who they have always been. Our spirits never age because our inner spirits or souls are timeless and eternal. Our personalities of our childhood are the same personalities now…just in more restrictive environments.

If you want to do something today to make a difference in this world, take a minute to visit with an older person. Smile at them. Tell them to have a good day. Look them in the eyes and let them know they are not invisible to you as they so often are in this world to others. Let them feel seen and heard. Let them feel as if they matter, if only for that one moment. Shake their hand in greeting. Help them cross the street. Offer your arm as they step off a curb. It will make them feel good and it will make you feel even better!

God bless the elderly. They are the true courageous soldiers in this often times challenging life that complicates our journey! It is in them that I see living breathing older “profiles in courage” in a very different way from in the book that bears its name!

Jjb/11/05/2019

From now on..

I have been in a funk lately and I think I know why. Even though we cut cable, news shows, and finally facebook, negativity still seemed to seep into our life. Our “Next Door Neighbor network” on email may need to be the next thing to go. What is it about public forums that are communicated from our homes on a keyboard that creates a platform for some people to spread the seeds of fear, discontent, and mean spiritedness.

Now, I realize these people are in the minority since a lot of the posts are simply helpful posts suggesting good Dr’s, service people, nice walking spots etc. However, though the negative people are in the minority, they can still swing a mighty sword cutting through our happiness. Just last night I was reading a forum that got downright nasty between several people discussing a local topic. I could feel myself tensing up as I read the exchange. I have put that site on mute for now.

So, this morning, after my coffee, I went for a walk in our neighborhood and the psychic transformation was a miracle in the making. Instead of having my thoughts directed at all the things that could go wrong in our future, here I was, strolling along while looking at all that is good right here, right now! My body was moving with ease though it has been pretty sedentary as of late. I almost felt like the tin man on the “Wizard of Oz” when I first started to walk a fast clip, thinking a little oil on this joint or that would be a good thing. As I walked along, I could feel my spirit take flight and my joints loosen up.

It is a perfect fall day. The air is cool and crisp, the leaves on the trees are turning color, the neighborhoods are quiet with kids back in school and people back at work. Mr. Rogers, it certainly IS a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

We have a lot of gentle rolling hills in our area, so when I arrived back home, my face was glazed with perspiration! GOOD! This is what my body needs right now and for the unforeseeable future. What does that commercial say? “A body in motion stays in motion”. I would say that is exactly right!

So, it is still morning and the sunshine with its warm rays is beckoning to me. Mr. is painting the front door and Mrs. needs to go out and tidy up our porch. There is nowhere I communicate with my maker better or more fully than right in His own creation.

Blessings to all!

Jjb/11/4/2019

God

I’m living my life like I used to do.

I woke up refreshed, said a prayer to YOU!

I smiled to myself as I got out of bed.

The whole day was waiting with promise ahead.

We live in an age where busy’s the word.

Our schedules are full, our priorities blurred.

We fill every moment of each hour, each day,

Watching and listening to what the world has to say.

Its been good to reacquaint with my quieter side.

Its uplifting to commune with my spiritual guide.

I focus on whats kind and honest and true.

I take time out each day to spend it with You!

Its a blessing how calm and serene I now feel.

I know its because God my Father is real!

So, now Heavenly Father, I would like to say,

How grateful we are to awaken each day.

My dear sweet husband and his devoted wife.

Feel blessed to have reached this stage of our life.

Our love has deepened, our commitment has too.

We love our morning communing with you.

Thanks to our parents who taught us to pray.

They encouraged us to love you and follow your ways…

We did and we do and we will all our days,

Say prayers of thanksgiving and sing to you praise!

Jjb/10/18/2019

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Travel thoughts

Oh it is SO good to be home again. The feelings of contentedness just keeps growing. I am a new appreciator of things I previously took for granted, not the least of these, our bed. The comfort of ones own bed cannot be over stated.

Our appreciation of our bed is followed with an appreciation of our own old leather chairs that over the years have contoured to our body shapes so when we sit in them it is like putting on an old kid glove. We are not just sitting, we are embraced!

Listening to the washer sloshing away as we sit in our chairs while we catch up on mail and messages is like listening to an old familiar rhythmic melody.

Brewing coffee in our old coffee pot, frying an egg in our old frying pan, popping toast, simmering a pot of chili, all with ease within the confines of our friendly and familiar kitchen…ah, it makes a persons heart flutter a bit.

Yes, while we had a wonderful vacation in Spain and Italy, it is just so good to be back to friends and family. One friend gave us a ride to the airport and our son picked us up to bring us home. This is where we are loved and this is where we belong. 20 plus years is a long time to live anywhere and we never get tired of it…Home Sweet Home!

Reflecting on our trip to Europe, the things I am most glad we purchased for the trip are the fanny packs, the back packs and the small roller bags. We have never gone anywhere with just carry on luggage, so leave it to us to experiment on a trip to Europe! Lol! As it turned out, reducing our luggage not only made it easier to not deal with baggage pick up hassles and fees, it made it easier in general. I had also purchased packing cubes which to me, at first glance, just seem like a marketing ploy to buy more things, but in reality, work really well in keeping your things organized, particularly if one keeps moving from place to place on a trip.

Because I read that hotels don’t supply washcloths, I purchased these very tiny wrapped cubes about the size of a large crouton marketed as travel washcloths. When you hold them under running water they expand and grow before your eyes. They are very sturdy and can be used more than once! These were probably my favorite new find! Everyone should have them in their cosmetic bag even when visiting family so one doesn’t ruin the hosts washcloths with makeup residue. I give them a 5 star rating!

I brought my small turbo hand held fan along and was so grateful for it since we experienced times of extreme heat or exercise in Spain and Italy where I desperately needed a breeze to cool off. It’s a fan that can be recharged with a cell phone cord. I love it. On one very hot ride in an over packed train, I noticed a young Chinese fellow standing a distance from me in the train car and using a fan very similar to mine. I caught his eye and wiggled my fan at him and he wiggled his back as we both began to smile. We both knew how lucky we were to have those fans at that moment. It is one of my most favorite possessions.

I brought only 2 pair of shoes. My sketcher sandals and my merino wool Allbirds shoes. Both far exceeded my expectation of comfort. The wool runners are the most comfortable pair of shoes I have ever owned.

We brought a small blue tooth speaker and were able to stream Minnesota Public Radio in our hotel rooms. Ahhhh! Such a treat.

I brought sample sized containers of everything I could find that I use in cosmetics and cleansing products. It reduced my haul by 80% and I still had product remaining at the end of 2 weeks.

I bought packets of sink suds to wash clothes as needed. In my opinion, this works well for underwear, socks and bras, but not as convenient for clothing. Still, I was glad I had it.

These are top take away thoughts on travel from us. I now know,that it is unlikely I will ever again check luggage. I know I can get by on much less. The only exception to the rule would be if we go north in the dead of winter, where we would need boots and heavy outer wear.

So here we are…..we are always glad to come home….to the nest we have created together and where we share our thoughts and dreams and mutual love. When it comes down to it though, our home really is wherever the two of us are together. We are most definitely simbiotic. We are never gone from “home” as long as we are in the company of one another. To have found another human being who so completely compliments who I am as a human being is nothing short of a miracle, and we both appreciate this blessing the most of any other blessing in our life!

Miracles do happen!

Jjb/ 9/22/2019

Great new book

When we were in Italy with a long day of travel ahead of us to get back to Spain, I came across a book store in the airport. I walked inside as I often do because books always beckon to me to read them. Quickly I was reminded that I was not in the U.S. because the titles were in a foreign language and so was the marketing material. A lady behind the desk smiled at me and said something in Italian. I immediately apologized that I only spoke english and asked if she did as well.

She said “Yes, how may I help you?”

I said, “ Oh bless you…I am so grateful when I can understand what someone is saying to me here in Italy!”.

She laughed.

I then gestured around the tiny bookstore and asked “Do you happen to have any books in English?”

She pointed to a tiny wall space about 2 feet wide and 6 feet tall with shelves of books in English. There was an extremely limited selection, so it took me a while to find something I might want to invest my time in. My eyes landed on this. “Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine”. I picked it up, never having heard of it before, and began to read the back cover. It seemed interesting and I thought I might like it.

I just finished it this morning and have to say, I have not been “glued” to a book for a very long time. But, glued I was to this one. It definitely caught my interest right away, even though I was not completely engrossed at the offset. That part grew and deepened as the story grew! This authors command of the english language is beyond anything I have ever read before. Just her wording and phrases and written thoughts were a pleasure to read and take into my mind and turn over and over again.

Can a book be delicious? THIS one is because I savored it all the way through.

I loved it from beginning to end because of the soft, steady intrigue than ran through it. The book made you wait all the way to the end to wrap up the story and I did not see what was coming. It is a story about loneliness, kindness, cruelty, love, despair, the whole human condition.

I am going to save it for someone I think may enjoy it and give it to them. I just don’t know who it will be yet.

What a fantastic way to wrap up a vacation! I am back to reading again and I am absolutely hooked! I am looking for my next favorite read! Try it! You may just like it!

It is SO good to be back in the U.S…..in our home, in my chair, in our own little corner of the world.

It is fun to travel, but

“No matter where I travel, No matter where I roam, be it Palaces or pleasures, There is NO place like HOME!” (My Mother loved this poem…it resonates with me too)

Jjb/9/21/2019

Travel Thoughts

So, here am I sitting here on Vueling airlines while passengers come on board one by one. Al felt so bad about our cramped quarters on the flight from the U.S. (due to flight delays which made us miss our plane from Dallas to Madrid) and our well chosen seats, that he upgraded our seats to Italy to the very front and we each have a seat with an empty one in the middle. It is about as good as it gets. ❤️

Our trip has far exceeded our expectations in many ways. Our decision to have only carry on luggage has now made me wonder why on earth I have always lived and traveled as if I am a pack mule? This has been so much better all the way around. Ironically, I haven’t even used all of the things I brought with, but the weather has been somewhat constant so that helps in not needing such a variety of things to wear.

Before our trip, we bought new luggage to make sure we could carry the correct size onto the Italian airline as they are the most restrictive airline I have read about. We also bought backpacks and fanny packs and all of these combined have made for an almost stress free trip. This is our first time to fly anywhere with only carry on luggage and this is the farthest we have flown besides. Going forward, this experience will change all future travel for us. We both love the back pack situation as it carries as much as my small suitcase, is less bulky and weighs less too. We are happy to ignore baggage claim as well.

I feel very badly that I don’t speak anything other than English. It makes me feel somehow ignorant and disadvantaged when I cannot communicate. I have used Google translate which has helped enormously, but it isn’t the same as actually communicating in the language of the country we are visiting. It causes me to wonder how my Scandinavian ancestors must have felt while traveling to their new country so very far away from their birthplace and most of their family. I can imagine it would have been very hard on their egos and self esteem to have such a large language barrier and no real identity to the new people they were meeting because of a lack of known history.

We have been treated very well by the majority of people we have come across. Most are kind and honest, but we did have a taxi driver that added cost to the beginning of our fare this morning and when Al questioned him, he suddenly spoke no English whatsoever. Ah well, consider it a contribution.

It is fun to see other parts of the world, their customs, food, and especially the architecture. I just love looking at architecture! I am so glad we went on this trip. I was hesitant because of the cost, but Al was eager because of his age.

“Not so many traveling years ahead of me, Mrs. Bussmann! Besides, I would rather spend our money seeing a bit of the world than to pay for the ground where I will eventually be put to rest”

He has a point there, I must admit.

We are on day 6 with a week left. I can’t imagine how my brain will retain it all. This is why pictures and videos are so valuable. Through these we can continue to revisit our trip any time we wish, and we actually already have.

I find myself thinking of my young cousin who was so good to us while serving up a beautiful bed and breakfast in a building attached to a palace in our 4 days there. She really went beyond normal hospitality to help us see the sites of Madrid. We have come to love her little family, her children, husband and her Mother. Well, we actually came to love them a long time ago while they were still living in the states, with us having spent so much time with them when they were in Austin Texas. Despite our age difference, she and I are much alike in our humor and how we see things because we each experienced a similar life growing up. She moved away from the U.P. years after I did, and we each got married. We both moved a lot with our husbands careers, but she moved much farther into the world by way of Europe. She is still young and there is still so much ahead of her! I can’t wait to see what unfolds ahead of her.

Well, I think I will close this little epistle. It is enjoyable to sit in an Italian destined airplane on our way to Venice as I type out my thoughts.

Venice!

I can hardly believe it!

Ooooohhhhhh, whennnnnn the mooooooooon hits your eyes like a big-a pizza pie, thats “Amore!”

Jjb/9/12/2019

Traveling Willie

3 days to departure and after much debate, we have finally decided to take Lil Willie along with us on our trip.

This morning while visiting with someone in our church who has become acquainted with Lil Willie by way of our FB posts, it came as a surprise to me that she did not realize that Lil Willie was loosely related to the infamous Willie Nelson. So, I told her the story about how we came to have Lil Willie living with us.

A few years back, our daughter attended a Willie Nelson concert. She knew that we liked and embraced Willie Nelson as a song writer, (we LOVE the song Family Bible which he wrote) a country musician, and an Austin icon. Everyone loves Willie Nelson here in Austin. He is a legend in his own time. Al has even met one of his children, Suzy.

So, the concert our daughter attended was selling promo dolls that looked like Willie. Unbeknownst to us, she fought through a huge crowd to buy what turned out to be the last remaining Willie doll for her Mam and Pap!

Afterwards she came to visit us and presented the doll to us. We were happily surprised but secretly wondered what we were going to do with it. Put it out on display? Decorate a room around it? What?

Then it came to us. We would name it Lil Willie and bring him along with us on our trips. Most of us know that other peoples vacation photos just aren’t all that appealing to anyone, especially if one has to look at someone else’s picture over and over again in front of various sites of interest. However, we thought maybe Lil Willie could be our own personal travel gnome. We would turn our trips into Lil Willie adventures where people could enjoy our trips in the company of this little faux pot smoking rebel. A new Texas icon was born. Lil Willie!

Lil Willie became our mascot and became the route through which we met people. People were inclined to talk to us BECAUSE of Lil Willie sitting with us. Many a conversation began because people were intrigued with his iconic look. A head bandana, braids and jeans definitely screams country, and no one is intimidated by country folk!

So, stay tuned for Willies next adventure due to begin in the next few days.

Stay tuned!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Without a doubt, the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is still one of my favorite comedies as long as the humorous antics don’t actually happen to me!

We are 7 days to departure and I am carefully honing what I think we may need on our trip while trying to keep our luggage to carry on bags only. We can each take a carryon suitcase and a personal bag and it is in these two bags I hope to get all we may need. I have been watching a number of Rick Steeve’s videos and one would think by the passion and energy I am putting into this that we have never traveled before, when actually we have traveled a lot around the U.S. and Hawaii along with one trip to England and France. So what’s different about things this time you ask? Well, the difference is that we (especially Al) are getting very tired of lugging around the equivalent of two steamer trunks wherever we go. Of course this is an exaggeration, but truth be told, I am an over-packer caused by fear of not having what I need when away from home. We also actually WILL be traveling in planes, trains and automobiles, so I want to pack smart. I am planning on a suitcase, back pack AND a bottle carrying fanny pack, for those days we are touring around.

I am seeing progress. I have travel size bottles and jars for everything I need. I am wearing my bulkier shoes while packing the lightweight pair. I have a light wool travel shawl that can double as a light blanket on the plane and which I can throw over my shoulders on a any cool night. I have 2 pair of pants, one skirt, several tanks, a light weight wrinkle resistant dress/casual jacket and a small scarf to wear into churches. A few each of underwear and socks, 2 nightgowns, and small packets of sink suds to wash as needed. A travel clothesline. A small umbrella.

I iphone and i-pad external chargers along with cords along with earphones. I downloaded kindle on my iPad for reading, though I have a book I hope to finish and then donate.

Then there is Little Willie…goodness where will he go?

As I said, I am making progress but not there yet. Oh, I forgot…our pill holders that show days and times of the week take up a lot of space, so I bought tiny zip lock plastic pill bags where I can write dates and days on them, which I will carry in a couple of ziplock snack bags. Saving a lot of room there as I would have needed three trays and these will take minimal space.

As I write this, I am outside in our courtyard and from where I sit, I am enjoying the recent cooler temps, along with the sound of flowing water from our fountains. I can hear the cicada’s chattering away in a rhythmic pattern and wind chimes playing their music which means there is a breeze. So peaceful it is. Well, 90 IS cooler than what we have experienced this past couple of weeks, which was in the 100’s. It is all perspective. People have been warning us that it can get very hot in Spain and Italy this time of year, but when Al checked out the forecast it is predicting the 70’s with minimal rain. However, we know that can change in a minute. Casara-sara! What will be, will be!

Well, time to go in and do some housework. I love our retired life. We work a little, play a little, travel a little, drink a little, eat a little more than a little, sleep alot and pray daily. Like the old song we once sang…”Oh the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord”.

Amen…7 days and counting….

Hot, HOT!

I’m hot! I’m hot!

I’m as hot as I can be!

The temp is near 100,

I think its melting me!

The birds are hiding from the heat

in the shade of our old oak tree.

The leaves give them sweet cool roosts

and for them it is all for free!

Texans find religion,

(in the summers this is true).

They realize how hot HELL might be,

So prayers begin anew!

Wait a minute! There’s a breeze!

I feel it blowIng on my face.

Our prayers have now been answered!

Texas is a lovely, prayer filled place!

Jjb/8/27/2019

Packing light!

So, the last time we went to Europe, we way over packed!! We went to England and France for 8 days. We each had a gigantic suitcase in addition to our carry ons. The ratio of our suitcase to our body was not too far off from the one in the picture below of a little boy with his suitcase. it was ridiculously cumbersome!

THIS time, we are going for 2 weeks and after seeing our friends Laura and Mark go to Europe with each only a small back pack for THREE weeks, we felt motivated to pack each a small carry on suitcase. Now I am feeling a little bit of anxiety building about my ability to fit all I think I need into that one bag.

I bought some packing cubes where one rolls clothes inside them to keep things orderly. I also bought some “sink suds”, (little packets of laundry detergent and a tiny clothesline to wash things out and dry as we go). Just typing this sentence makes my anxiety ridden heart race a little bit!

I also bought some disposable washcloths because I read that most european hotels do not provide them. The ones that arrived yesterday were individually wrapped to look like wrapped candy. When I saw them in a see through bag, I grimaced, thinking these would be like trying to wash my face with a cosmetic puff! I opened one and ran some water over it and my goodness, it grew and grew to the point of looking like a regular sized washcloth. What a creative invention! I love it! So far so good!

Just last week I went north for a week and packed a very large suitcase along with a carryon. I did not use even half of what I brought along and so it became my dress rehearsal and lesson of what NOT to do for this upcoming trip.

We have been busy reading Rick Steves suggestions for easy travel and are doing our darnedest to follow his advice! Wouldn’t it be a nightmare to wash our clothes on our 3rd day and have them shrink up to half their original size! Haha! Those Italians would be traumatized to say the least.

Well, back to packing.Yikes! It reminds me of the days of the hippie movement, or worse,

Well, back to packing.

True Blue

I am thinking about my different friends,

the ones who ARE and WERE.

It always boils down to one or two,

who give my heart a stir.

Many women seem to need…

Lots and lots of friends.

I prefer just one or two,

with whom my spirit blends.

It is good to sit and talk about

life’s less than perfect parts.

To share and analyze the pain

that comes from broken hearts.

It is also nice to share our thoughts

of all things, good and true.

What better way for us to see,

the inner me and you?

Groups and parties aren’t my thing,

they make me quite uneasy.

I prefer to be with one or two.

Which, for me, is easy-breezy.

When I am with my true blue friends,

my worries tend to cease.

Your acceptance for who I really am

brings me love and joy and peace.

I love my friends so very much.

They are just a special few.

What has been Gods greatest gift to me,

Is this friendship of me and YOU!

Jjb/8/9/2019

Tolerance versus Intolerance

I just read an article by a woman who was ready to cut her children’s grandparents out of their lives because of what she saw as their “intolerant” views. The further I got into the article, the more upset I felt because as I read “her” litany of “their” intolerant remarks, it became apparent to me that their views represented a lifetime of social and religious and political teachings and experiences.

Her in laws are in their 70’s so they were uncomfortable seeing two people of the same gender kissing on t.v. to the point that her father in law walked out of the room saying he had had enough of this. This would have been a teachable moment for the children if handled with love and understanding of their elders past history.

She wrote that they commented on the huge amount of immigrants in L.A. and said “who would want to live there?” (Another teaching opportunity for the children at a later time.)

She wrote that they liked Trumps stance on illegal immigration, which to her was an unforgivable offense. She felt they were intolerant people because they voiced opposite views to societies changes over the past 50 years.

Now, certainly there is much to debate here depending on your religious or world view, but what was clear to me was the writers intolerance for her in laws views. She did comment at one point that her mother in law was sweet and softhearted but she did not want her children subjected to their voiced ideology.

I am sure she felt proud and empowered by “her tolerance” of todays society, but what was interesting to me was how she did not see her own intolerance for her in-laws views and that her intolerance could possibly lead her to take the Grandparents away from her children. How did she not see her own blatant lack of tolerance?

Grandparents are vitally important to the psychological growth of their grandchildren even if their world views are different from the parents. I am not sayin it is o.k. to spew hate! That is never o.k. What I AM saying is how could it ever be justifiable for a mother to separate her children from their Grandparents because she did not agree with their views? Children are perfectly capable of forming their own opinions while observing the mechanisms of three generations within a family. Cutting off contact between Grandchildren and their Grandparents teaches intolerance by that very act. Why not let the Grandchildren socialize with their Grandparents and then be ready for any of their inevitable questions. It could be a valuable teaching tool, rather than isolating ones children to only the parents view of life.

Too often I see this willingness to “cut off” loved ones rather than make the effort to meet in the middle. We are all a composite of every one of our life experiences which means no two people will ever see things exactly the same. Hate is the great separator while love is the binding agent.

Families have a tough go of it in this day and age. Children are often glorified while elders are sometimes vilified. The older we get in this country, the more vulnerable we become because so often our elders are cast aside and seen as an imposition, old fashioned, and unenlightened. Listening to the elderly and understanding where their viewpoints originated while holding onto our own differing views is respect. Listening to the elders in our family teaches our children to do the same.

Intolerance disguised as tolerance is sad because often the person who sees themselves as tolerant does not recognize that they, like everyone else, still have their own set of intolerant views. Loving people despite our differences is a true form of love. Tossing out family members over differences in how we see the world is really not the kind of lesson we want to teach our children, is it? Why not agree to disagree and then move toward topics we, as a family, all embrace?

Tolerance or lack of it is taught at home and within families. Let the children see both and form their own opinion. Generally, a kind heart and tolerance wins when seen in direct opposition to a lack of tolerance.

Jjb/8/7/2019

Choosing our own way

It is summer in the south and we are unpleasantly reminded of this when we go outside mid to late afternoon. By then the sun has heated up every surface not shaded by a tree and these surfaces magnify the feeling of heat. There is no opting to go barefoot on these hot surfaces unless one has a penchant for burned feet. Throw in a little humidity and the air begins to weigh on a person. Because of this, in the summer, most people in the far south choose to spend more time in the comfortable air conditioned interior of our homes, stores, movie theaters and the like. We also love our swimming pools where we can plunge deep down into the cool refreshing water to give us relief from the heat.

In contrast to the extreme heat of the south in the summer, there exists also the extreme cold climate of the north in the winter months. I was born in the upper midwest and growing up there, I quickly learned to come out of the cold once winter rounded the corner. Winters in the northern climates are often long, gray, snowy and very cold. Scenes of fireplaces with dancing flames are frequently pictured in many of the holiday films, depicting a warm and cozy atmosphere away from the freezing temps outside. There is even a song about chestnuts roasting on an open fire! Without a doubt, I think most people embrace the idea of a fireplace in their home because it represents comfort and contentment and warmth. Anyone can easily imagine sitting in a large chair near a fireplace, warming themselves while sipping wine or coffee and reading a book. It brings to mind love filled thoughts and the perfect Norman Rockwell painting for all to enjoy

Here in the south in our retirement years we are busy all the time. I slept in late this morning because the last couple of days we were hard at work on an exterior painting project which carried on into the late and very hot afternoons! Thank goodness for the restorative power of hydrating water! We must have consumed at least a gallon. We hired painters who are now here to finish the project, so I decided to allow myself some sleep therapy. This means when I woke up this morning I laid there a while and then rolled over for a few more winks. Pure luxury! When I finally decided to get up, I padded down the hallway to the kitchen and went straight to the warming coffee pot and poured my first cup of the day, a cup of rich freshly ground coffee with a splash of cream a bit of sugar. My Swedish Grandmothers would have approved!

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The house was quiet with the exception of a fan whirring and clocks ticking. I think mornings are my favorite time of day when I am able to just relax and enjoy it. The air conditioning turns our home into a cool oasis and I find myself remembering an article I read a while back that said the population of the south grew in leaps and bounds after air conditioning was brought into mainstream residential living. No wonder there!

We love our Texan home. I am reminded of a fairy tale where it was written that one house was too big, and one house was too small, but one house was just right! The last one would be our home. It is just right for these two retired people. We are aging in place and hope to stay here until our next move which should require no packing whatsoever because where we are going we aren’t going to need a thing! Imagine that!

Life simulates the climate in different parts of the country. Sometimes we feel the chill of discontent or loss of love. Sometimes we feel the heat of passion or anger. Either way, we find a way to counter those emotions and bring ourselves back to feeling right within the world, until we are once again productive and of service to others. It is all a balancing act.

People often comment in wonder about how physically hard we work on our home projects and they wonder why. It isn’t that we HAVE to do these things. It is because we choose to do so. If I had to give a reason for why we choose to do a lot of the things we do, it is because we take great comfort and feel immense gratitude in knowing we “can”. We have become aware of far too many friends who have serious health issues, memory issues, and those who have died. We do not know when we will be handed our own departure tickets, so until then, we take pleasure in feeling our bodies reach and bend and stoop and stretch and ambulate. There are many who do not any longer have these abilities!

Our home is our Oasis and we take pride in caring for it! Maintaining it gives us something to do so our bodies don’t seize up. Creating artistically is a good way to keep the brain oiled and greased, so to speak, and I hope to keep it from rusting and grinding to a halt. The most amazing discovery I have made along the way is how ageless my spirit is, and proof of this is how it just keeps wanting to do the things I have always done, not understanding that its home is getting old and sometimes in need of repair! Yet, my body tries to do what my spirit wants it to do. Granted, I get tired sooner and I have to rest more often, but I do find that I am happy despite the exhaustion that sometimes visits me. I offer up thanks for my physical abilities and plan to show gratitude simply by using them. As an ad recently declared, “A body in motion stays in motion!” So, I shall keep rolling along!

Jjb/7/27/2019