WITH RELENTLESS EFFICIENCY

After a lot of whining and complaining, I settled down. I filled out the ridiculous amount of paperwork, reconstructed as much of my medical history as I could — anything more than 5 years ago, is more than a little vague — and of course, my list of medications. I got my son to witness my permission to hunt down my records (good luck with that), and signed a new health proxy (everyone should have one — and I do mean absolutely everyone). Then, papers in hand, we drove over to the new doctor’s office — a mere one town over!

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I turned them over along with the appropriate Medicare insurance information and went home to notify Blue Cross Blue Shield that I’m changing doctors. They actually didn’t care because I have a PPO and don’t require a listed primary care doctor. I can go to any doctor that takes BCBS payments … which is nearly every doctor in the region except the group to which my current doctor is migrating.

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I explained that I needed an appointment with the new guy because I was going to need new prescriptions at the end of this month. Somehow, she found an appointment. Which conflicted with the dental appointment and the finishing up of my crown. So I took the doctor appointment, moved the dentist to the following day, leaving one day before the cardiologist appointment … and the almost immediate arrival of a houseful of out-of-town visitors. June and July have filled up.

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Summer always fills up quickly. I’m sure you’ve noticed. The weather turns warm and suddenly, you’re booking stuff for next September. It’s because winter is brutal. You can’t count on anything in the winter. Nature might just decide to throw a blizzard on the day you plan to visit those friends in Vermont. Instead, no one is going anywhere for a few days at least.

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It’s amazing how we manage to not see people we really want to see because when we are free, they are not. Everyone is busy seeing the people they need to see while they can … and before you know it, another year slips away.

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I haven’t found the cure for not enough time. I’ve been looking for something to do about this my whole life. I thought, after retirement, we’d have all the time in the world. In a sense, we do … but we live in New England. Winter is at best a wild card. You can plan, but you can’t be sure it will really happen, which means we really only have half the year to do stuff . There’s always more stuff to do than time.

I’m working on this. I suspect I’ll always be working on it forever.

I LOVE YOU

No You Don’t, by Rich Paschall


In his early adult life, George was a rather active young man.  He kept a moderate social schedule.  He met with friends, did a little volunteer work and even joined a bowling team for a few years.  As the years wore on, George became less active, saw less of his friends and was mostly invisible to the neighborhood.

As he passed fifty years of age, he kept to himself and seldom visited friends and family.  There was little family left actually, and the cousins seemed to have forgotten about old George.  This is not to say that George was totally inactive, for that was not the case at all.  He did a lot of maintenance on the old house.  He spent plenty of time doing gardening in the spring and summer.  He even tried to learn a new language online.

He signed up for a language site that had a social component.  On the site you could help someone learn your language and someone else could help you learn theirs.  The site gave learners the opportunity to ask others for a chat in the language they were learning.  Since this was all anonymous, you could decline to chat.

George was not bold enough to ask anyone to chat with him live, but others contacted him when they saw an English speaker on-line and he would always accept.  Some visitors came and went quickly but a few became friends as George explained life in his city and heard about theirs.  It was all very exciting for the older, single gentleman to be talking with young people around the world.  George had a friend in France, Egypt, Russia and Brazil.  He also had a friend in another South American country who liked George a lot.

In South America

In South America

Soon George and Jonathon were friends on Facebook, hanging out on Google+ and talking on Messenger and Skype.  They chatted about their countries, cities, jobs.  After a while, they were talking everyday, even if only briefly.  Both loved the attention they were getting from the other.

When they were nearing the end of a year of friendship in December, George was surprised to learn he could not roll over his remaining four vacation days to the following year.  Jon, of course, felt that George should come to South America and spend some time with him.  Jon was not originally from the big city where he lived, so he had few friends and no family there.  He was excited at the thought that George would visit.

Aside from never having met Jon in person, George felt that the 30 year age difference would mean they would soon be bored with one another.  Besides, George never had a desire to go to South America or just about any place else any longer.  But Jon was persistent and George decided to be adventurous.

True to his word, Jon was waiting at the airport.  He greeted George like a long-lost friend.  He spent every minute with him for four days.  They traveled around the city like tourists.  They spent an evening in the street watching an important soccer match and celebrating with the locals.  They spent another evening at something that was like a Christmas market.  There they had local beer and too much guava liquor, frequently ordered by one of Jon’s friends.

An impulsive visit to South America

An impulsive visit to South America

The weather was perfect the entire time. Jon was nicer than George could ever imagine.  He was a good cook and excellent host.  The last-minute vacation was one of the best ever.

Upon his return home, Jon called or wrote every day.  George thought that when they met in person Jon would see that he was a lot older and the friendship would die down, but in truth the opposite happened.  Jon enthusiasm for the impulsive visit did not wane.

Not knowing what to make of this friendship, George called on Arthur, an old friend, to discuss the matter.  They met at local inn and George proceeded to explain the whole story.  He told how they met, how the friendship developed over the year and that he impulsively went to visit.  George had never mentioned Jon to anyone before.  Now he was telling the entire history.

“By the way,” George said, “he does not want me to mention that we met on the internet because people might get the wrong idea.”

“What idea is that?” Arthur asked.

“I don’t know,” George exclaimed.

“So what’s the problem?” Arthur wanted to know after listening to over 45 minutes about some South American guy he had never met or seen.

“He calls every day or leaves a message to say he loves me and misses me!”

“So?”

“He wants to come here and be with me.  He says he will be my prince.”

“Oh,” Arthur responded as if the light bulb just went on.

George went on to detail his responses.  “I explained I was not rich and he would have to get a job.  Despite my efforts, his English still sucks and he would have to improve.  The weather here is very different from his homeland, and he knows no one else here”

“What does he say to all these points,” Arthur inquired.

“I love you!  What kind of response is that?  Besides, I am too old for him, but he just says we will be together as long as God wills.”  George took a deep breath and continued

“So, I told him he just says that because he wants to come to America.  Since I like him very much I offered that he could come and stay and I would introduce him around and take him to places where he can meet other young people.”

“And?” Arthur prompted.

“And he said he does not want to meet others, he just wants to be with me.  I don’t know what’s wrong with the young man.”

“There is one distinct possibility,” Arthur said with a knowing tone to his comment.

“What?”

“He really loves you,” Arthur said simply.

George looked as his as if he did not understand the words Arthur just said.  After a long pause, George finally spoke.

“What?”

FACES – MY CROWD

There’s a world of difference between shooting portraits of your friends and family when everyone is young … and doing the same thing forty or fifty years later. I’m always bemused … and occasionally infuriated … by people who think we will love pictures of us which advertise what time hath wrought on our faces. The liver spots, wrinkles, eye pouches, jowls. The weariness.

Seriously? Does anyone want to look old, haggard, or merely unattractive in a photograph? How often do you see the picture someone took of you and say (out loud or in your head) “That just can’t be me! Who is that person?”

I try to take non-awful pictures.

Many of us have few pictures of ourselves because we hate the way we look in them. Who would blame us?

I believe that no one wants unattractive pictures. No one wants to look fat or wrinkly or haggard. Unless you are a dog because when you are a dog, cat, or horse for that matter … you always look great. Which is why I wonder why most of my dogs run away from the camera.

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I do my utmost to smooth out the wrinkles, fade blemishes, and make the people I love look in pictures they way they look to me. I don’t see them as old. In my mind, they are and always will be young and beautiful. What I want to see in pictures is joy, love, and beauty. Someone else can go for “truth” in photography. I’m serious about flattering.

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

A world of faces: WordPress Weekly Photography Challenge

LATE LUNCH

The Old Ball Team, by Rich Paschall


When they started the monthly get-together it was almost 15 years earlier.  There were a dozen of them then, and two of the “boys” had already retired.  They had all known each other since childhood and were within a few years of one another in age.  They went to the same park as kids and most played on the same teams.

They had decided years ago to meet once a month for dinner, so they could be sure to see one another regularly.  Over the years dinner changed to lunch, as some of them did not want to drive or be out after dark.  The sessions remained as lively as ever.  It seemed none lost their boyhood personalities.

With the passage of time, the group had dwindled in size.  While the first ten years saw no loss of participation, recent years were not kind to the group.  Three had passed away and another three were no longer well enough to attend.  One just seemed to disappear.  No one could ever say what happened to Roger, although a few tried hard to find out.

nationals in DC baseball

The meeting was now on the first Tuesday of the month at 1 o’clock.  Most of the lunch crowd was gone from the Open Flame Restaurant by then and the old guys could sit around and reminisce for as long as they wanted.  Today they wanted to hang on just a little longer.

Raymond had arrived right on time which was his way all through life.  Like the others Ray was retired now.  Unlike the others, he carried a secret with him he would not tell, even to his best friends.

Bob came with Ray.  He was no longer able to drive and in fact needed a good deal of help to get in and out of Ray’s car.  Ray always allowed enough time for Bob, so that they could walk slowly together and get in and out of the house, the car, and the restaurant safely.   To Ray, Bob was like a rock, the anchor of the team.  Now Ray was Bob’s rock of support.  There was a certain irony in that, and Bob would never know it.

Frank still worked a little.  It is not really that he wanted to do it, but he could not shake free of some business obligations he had over the years.  He did not need the money and tried to steer any business to someone else.  If you asked, Frank would tell you he was retired.

Bill was always late.  Everyone would have been surprised if he had been on time.  He maintained an active life and was always finding more to do than he had time.  This seemed to keep Bill healthy and robust.  Perhaps he was the only one of the remaining members in such good shape.

Without any doubt at all, Jerry was the talkative one of the bunch.  If others wanted to tell a story or share some news, they had better do it before Jerry showed up.  He was likely to dominate the conversation from the time he arrived until the time the check came.  It was guaranteed that Jerry would tell his favorites stories, although all of these guys knew them just as well as Jerry.  In fact, one or more of them probably participated in whatever episode he was recalling.

At every meeting, Jerry was sure to get around to the championship baseball game.  “What were we Bob, 12 or 13?  What a summer that was!  I remember when Bob dove for that ball in the last inning.  If that got through the infield we were screwed.  Raymond was so damn slow out there in left field.”  They all would laugh, even Ray.

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Usually the boys would be planning to leave around two, but they told stories and laughed their way past 2:30 in the afternoon.  Finally, Ray called for the check.  Over the objections of the others, Ray paid the bill. They had always split the check evenly.  No one ever paid for everyone, but Ray was a diplomat and a businessman and knew how to get his way.  The matter was settled.

They all made it out into the warm spring day together and stood on the side-walk for a moment.  Raymond gave them all a long hard look, but said nothing.  He knew Bob could not come out any longer.  Bob’s wife had strongly objected to Raymond continuing to take him to lunch.  This would be the last time, for sure.  Raymond was dying of cancer, but kept it to himself.  He looked well enough, so the others just did not know.

As the two walked to Raymond’s car nearby, the others said goodbye to Frank.  It seems that Frank’s wife had been insisting that they move to Michigan to be nearer to the kids and grandkids.  Since Frank was the practical one of the group, he also realized it was better to have a safety net of younger people nearby if the need should ever arise.  These old guys may have promised to always be there for one another, but that now came with the heavy reality that it just could not be so.

As Frank wandered off in the other direction, Bill and Jerry stood looking at one another and big, knowing smiles came across their faces.  Nothing more had to be said.  It was all right there before them. Words, tears, hugs would have been out of character.

Finally Jerry left Bill with the same words he issued for years, “I’ll see you at the next game.  I’ve got the ball and gloves, you bring the bats.”

“OK, captain,” Bill said and walked away.

SENTIMENTAL JOURNEYS

SENTIMENTAL AND ROMANTIC

My husband considers himself quite the romantic. He weeps at old movies and love stories. He always roots for a happy ending.

Golden Sunrise March 7, 2016

To me, that’s sentimental, not romantic. It’s sweet and that’s certainly an attractive quality in a man. Candy, flowers, candles, and music. All nice things to make a courtship memorable.

But, on the whole, sentimentalists don’t have a long game. No need to be a constant lover. The occasional grand gesture is fine and fun. Dinner and a good movie … with flowers on the side.

It’s fine. More than good enough. I doubt a relationship could get through the weary years wrapped in romance — not without a lot of financing to smooth over the lumps and bumps of the modern life.

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Constant romance would make it difficult to take care of the daily dilly-dally, unsympathetic bosses, bills without money to pay. Growing children into good citizens. Making hard choices. Coping with loss. Illness and recovery. None of which are even slightly romantic.

Life is messy. Yet, if you do it for love, perhaps that is enough to make it a romance.

I think my romance synapses have grown mossy from lack of use. Hugs, kisses and a bouquet of flowers — and a nice sushi dinner — will do it for me. Throw in a movie with a happy ending? I’m stoked for at least six months.

sen·ti·men·tal (sen(t)əˈmen(t)l

Adjective
Of or prompted by feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia.
“She felt a sentimental attachment to the place creep over her.”
Synonyms: nostalgic, tender, emotional, affectionate More
(of a work of literature, music, or art) dealing with feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia, typically in an exaggerated and self-indulgent way, such as “a sentimental ballad”
synonyms: mawkish, over-emotional, cloying, sickly, saccharine, sugary, overly sweet;
(of a person) excessively prone to feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia, as in: “I’m a sentimental old fool.”


In the opposing hand, we hold “romantic” stuff:

ro·man·tic rōˈman(t)ik

Adjective
1. Conducive to or characterized by the expression of love.
“A romantic candlelit dinner.”
Synonyms: loving, amorous, passionate, tender, affectionate; Informal: lovey-dovey: “He’s so romantic”
2. Of, characterized by, or suggestive of, an idealized view of reality, such as: “A romantic attitude toward the past.”
Synonyms: idyllic, picturesque, fairy-tale;
Noun
1.A person with romantic beliefs or attitudes: “I am an incurable romantic”
Synonyms: idealist, sentimentalist, romanticist.


yellow roses anniversary bouquet

Reality ain’t so bad. Add a few flowers and a night out? I’ll call it romance and be content.