Friday, May 13, 2011
Remember Columbo? Peter Falk in a trench coat, solving murders? There was one episode I remember specifically: the murderer had a habit of taking his diamond pinky ring and notching his scotch bottle, saying, "This much, and no more", and when the level dropped to the notch, he'd stop drinking for the day.
I don't do that (although perhaps I should), but I am developing a sense of "This much, and no more" emotionally.
My husband was on Hospice care briefly, and six months later, they still send me things once in a while (*wonderful* people about whom I cannot say enough good things.) I recently received one of their booklets and read through the section on Facing the Emotions of Grief. It was interesting, and I moved on to the next section, entitled Life Without the Person. I got about four sentences into it, and realized I was becoming overwhelmed - it's a very subtle but distinct slip towards The Dark Place. I immediately tossed the little booklet aside, saying, "This much, and no more."
Maybe I'll pick it up again tomorrow and read more, maybe it'll be a month, or maybe I'll no longer have any particular reaction, and then I can skip reading it and recycle the paper. That's not the point. The point is that I have come to recognize my boundaries (and they aren't limitations, they're boundaries), to discern that fine line between brave and stupid, between painful growth and purposeful self-torture. It seems like it should be easy to recognize and act accordingly, but for me, that line has always been blurry.
I've learned how to say, "I don't wish to discuss that just now" without feeling like I need to justify it. I can toss away a booklet or change the channel or break into someone's long speech about How Awful Things Must Be For You (and some people live to give those speeches - we all know a few) with a polite subject change. I don't leave the room to cry any more - I've learned how to change directions before leaving the room becomes necessary.
With my daughters (particularly the poor child who is emotionally shaped like me), we've all learned to work with one another. One minute we're happily reminiscing about something, and the next minute someone breaks in with something akin to, "Sooo, how about them Yankees?" and we respect it for what it is. One of us has hit the notch on our bottle.
I'm particularly proud, if that's the right word, of this Quality, because it was late coming and hard won.
And there's a little ruby-throated hummingbird - the first one I've seen this spring - outside, feeding from the flowering quince. My reward for climbing down off my Wise Guy stump and trying to give you something of substance.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Sorry, guys. I've been simultaneously sick and busy - never a good combo - so I'm a couple days behind. I intend to spend today and the weekend catching up on things, including What Makes Me Special. This morning's entry has to do with my being somewhat under the weather.
My maternal grandmother was an RN in Philadelphia, just after World War One. Nurses in those days - and still, for all I know - carried a good deal of their nursing paraphernalia on their persons at all times, and a good many of these objects have worked their way down to me. Some I can't identify (and probably don't want to - there's a kit with some really scary looking stuff), but one that I have always been attached to is the thermometer.
Almost everyone under a certain age - I have no idea what that age might be, but I'm guessing thirtyish - thinks of a thermometer like this:
You place it under your tongue and a few seconds later it beeps and tells you your temperature.
Before things got so veryvery small, though, human thermometers had a tube of mercury inside, just like the thermometers on the side of the house or the ones inserted into the boiling pot of whatever. They worked like this:
And now we (finally) get back to our story. My grandmother had a mercury tube oral thermometer that screws into a little aluminum case and attached to her uniform with a primitive type of safety pin. :
I keep this in my bedside drawer. It never needs batteries. It can be washed safely, so no need to worry about destroying it with water or needing to buy those nasty little shields. I shake it down (a quick wrist flex that shoves all the mercury to the cold end of the tube), I put it under my tongue, I set the timer on my cell phone (hey, I'm not a total Luddite) for two minutes, and at the end of the waiting period I read my temperature.
This little thermometer has been accurately recording people's temperatures for almost a hundred years, and I see no reason to replace it with something more complex and less reliable. I'm not sure that using this and things like it actually makes me special, but it makes me feel special. Besides, it reminds me of Grammy, and when I don't feel well, that's a nice thing.
Saturday, May 07, 2011
I am a very good driver and I can drive anything, literally from bicycles to bulldozers. (I can't back up a trailer to save my life, I've discovered, especially when there are people waiting for me to do so - hey, I'm working on it.)
It's always been interesting to me, though, that if a passenger asks me a particularly difficult question - not, "What's for lunch?" but more like, "What do you think Aunt Michelle's real reasons were for doing X?" - I automatically slow down. In fact, the more thought required by the question, the more slowly I go. I always try to justify this by saying that people *should* slow down when their attention isn't 100% on their driving, but the sad truth is that I'm just a lousy multitasker.
Once, when I was leading some friends in another car, I got to thinking about something I'd heard on the radio and without realizing it, yes, started going more and more slowly. My cell phone rang, and since I was on the Thruway (long, straight, not much traffic where we were), I picked it up and heard my daughter shout, "Mum! You're thinking again, aren't you? You're going 45! Stop *thinking!*"
Friday, May 06, 2011
Unlike most people, I *love* graveyards. I'm not afraid at all, and I like to just wander around, look at the tombstones, imagine the lives, see who is buried next to whom. It's always uncrowded and quiet, no one bothers me, and I just find the history fascinating. There's a nice graveyard on the way back from my dentist, so after a particularly bad session, I'll turn in there and just sit til I calm down.
Out here in the country, there are still a fair number of "family" graveyards, and many of them are now on public lands so you can go look if you want to. The old records say that here on my farm there's a family graveyard - "west of the orchard", but who knows where the orchard was 200 years ago? Still, every spring before the brush starts to grow up, I look for it.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
Hmmm...this is probably the first cinco de May (I don't know how to spell May in Spanish and I'm too lazy to look it up) that I haven't been happily swilling margaritas. No, it's (unfortunately) not because I'm a good li'l dieter, it's because I'm too damned tired. I spent all day loading and unloading square bales of hay. They don't weigh much until about the 400th one, then they start to creep up a bit.
But that does bring me to the 5th thing that Makes Me Special (and if you don't know what we're talking about, and you want to know, look at yesterday's blog): I'm not afraid of hard work, and will stay in there with the boys until the job is done (or done for the day, as in this case - still have another thousand or so to go.) Like a good draft horse, I may not be fast, but I'm strong, I've got a lot of endurance and I don't quit because it's 4:00 or whatever. (However, the guys at the other end - the unload-and-stackers - quit because it was 4:00, and I may be tested tough, but I'm not stupid.)
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