Wednesday, October 11, 2017

THIS OLD GIRL - The Gift of Today

In truth, aging is a bloody challenge.  I’m up for it, but sometimes find it a pain in the rump, literally today because my left sciatic nerve is aching.   And here’s where my annoyance kicks in.   “You’re in great shape, keep up the exercise,” my doctor advises.  And I’m out there walking rain or shine almost every day and sometimes lift weights as well, but if I push this aging bod a tad too much it comes back to haunt me in the form of pain.  Now I wouldn’t mind the sore muscles if I saw some light at the end of the tunnel, like my exercise routine bringing cholesterol numbers down.   “Eat more fiber,” the doc says.  So this carbo junkie buys a machine that grinds fruit, veggies, and nuts to a pulp and starts having healthy, fibrous shakes for breakfast.  It isn’t long before this morning meal is followed by spending the afternoon in the bathroom.   With the grinding machine tucked to the back of a rarely opened cabinet, I get into buckwheat groats for breakfast.  Let me tell you groats, no matter what favorite goodie I put in it, isn’t a New York bagel slathered with cream cheese.  Moving on from grumbling, this morning, instead of standing over the sink to eat my yummy bowl of mush, I sat at the dining room table.  This way I was able to plop my screaming sciatic rear on the heating pad while I ate.  About halfway through my ordeal, William jumped onto the table.  He moved to the bowl and started licking the mush that was stuck to the side.  Purring loudly, he turned, licked my face, washed his, and curled into peaceful sleep - my little William always so appreciative of the smallest tidbit. 

     When William was a kitten, he was hurled violently from a moving car.  His little pink nose will always carry the scar of that collision with pavement.  My granddaughter and I came across him at the animal shelter.  When the volunteer told us his story, we were in disbelief.  My wide-eyed granddaughter asked, “How can someone do that?”  I answered as best I could.   “I don’t know, Sweetie, but I do know that sometimes we’re able to pick up the slack for some of the ignorance in the world.”  William became my cat that day.   And, as with the buckwheat groats, he savors any bit of food and kindness that comes his way.  So, since I always grow some through my association with animals, I’ll let this groats thing grow on me.  Maybe my cholesterol numbers will shrink in the process.   No matter what, like William I’ll take time to appreciate the gift of today and the joy of the moment.  It’s all about taking care of This Old Girl aging into youth.   

Monday, September 25, 2017

THIS OLD GIRL - Baggy Pants and Sensible Shoes

Lovely, misty morning over the bay.  The ferry pulls out from the dock.  There's a long blast of foghorn as it disappears into the haze.  Here at Cotton Farm our resident mama deer is leading her little ones (who aren't so little anymore) along my hedge of Laurel.  The thick hedge serves multiple purposes - feeding deer, housing bunnies, keeping my little world private.

Today William and Abner curl by my side as I contemplate aging in good spirits.  I'm drawn to the picture at the top of this blog page, me as a child in northern New Jersey.  I realize (happily) that I still often wear baggy pants, cardigan sweaters, and sensible shoes.   It warms my heart to hold on to pieces of that small child, to remember and honor her, to love her unconditionally as This Old Girl ages into youth and good spirits.

William and Abner

Saturday, September 23, 2017

THIS OLD GIRL- Aging Into Youth and Good Spirits


Have you ever dreamed of a place far different from anything you ever knew?  My vision was a farm.  I saw the farmstead the day I rescued the little black kitten.

It was 1949.  I was eight and riding my bike in and out of the neighborhood streets on my way to Fisher Field Park to swing and climb the monkey bars.  Richie Trent, the local bully, jumped out from behind the dangling branches of an old willow tree near the park entrance.  I slammed on the breaks.  The back tire skidded left, kicking up a cloud of dust.  I landed upright, both feet on the ground on either side of the bike's center bar, my cherished maroon two-wheeler covered in powdery brown dirt.  It should be mentioned that I had no patience with bullies.  I avoided starting trouble, but had no problem finishing it when it crossed my path.
     "You're a jerk, Richie Trent.  Get outta my way or I'll run you down."
     "Won't think I'm a jerk when you see what's behind my back."
     "Pretty sure I'll always think of you as a jerk, Trent."
He started to move his right arm forward.  There was a faint mew.  He stretched his arm straight out to display a tiny black kitten hanging by the nape of his neck from Richie's fist.
     "Got it with a stone from my slingshot.  Should have seen it flip."
I bent to lay down my bike.  In three quick motions I stood back up, grabbed the kitten and then the slingshot that was sticking out of Richie's shirt pocket.  Placing the mewing, squirming ball into my bike bag, I hurled the slingshot to the very top branch of the willow.
     "Hey, girlie, whadaya think you're doing. That's my cat and my slingshot."
With both hands grasping his shirt, I shoved Richie Trent against the thick trunk of the tree. 
     "Want me to tell your mother what her precious boy has done? Come on, we'll go tell her together."
I let go of him and watched his fat, trembling body crumple in a heap to the ground. 

My father was home when I ran into the kitchen with the kitten. I related the horror story while he gently checked the purring animal for injuries.

     "We have to keep him, Daddy.  He needs a home and I've always wanted a pet."

     "I know you have, Cottonseed, but you know your mother's allergies."

Still, Daddy (who always called me Cottonseed) went about crafting two bowls out of tin foil, putting some of our tuna in one and water in the other. He even grabbed a cardboard box from under the sink and filled it with sand he had in the car.  Then he closed the bowls, makeshift litter box, and kitten into the bathroom.  When Mother came home, she heard the story straight from my father.  She walked to the kitchen in silence and made dinner.  I was hopeful and kept the kitten company in the bathroom until bedtime.  The next morning I raced to see him.  Carefully opening the bathroom door just enough to squeeze in, I leaned my back against the door and shut it quietly.  The room was empty - no bowls, no litter box, no little black kitten.  The smell of bleach was choking.  I ran to the kitchen.  My father was at the table with his tea and toast.  Unable to speak, I searched his eyes for an explanation. 

     "Mother thought it was best, Cottonseed, considering her allergies.  I gave it a lot of thought and agreed.  I took him to the shelter.  Sure was a cute little guy.  I guarantee someone with adopt him."

And that's when I saw my farm. That's when I knew pets were in my future.  

My home today isn't quite a farm, but close enough.  There's property for peace and quiet, a magnificent view of blue bay and snowcapped mountains, and always the unconditional love of animals.  I'm a great-grandma now and work daily to be alive and engaged, to bring back good memories and maybe accomplish old goals.  I sure have done that with my almost farm and a plethora of pets over the years.  At the very least, I plan on aging in good spirits.

I recently read an article that defined my age group as the
"youth of old age," so despite the arthritis and hearing aids, This Old Girl is aging into youth and good spirits.  Welcome to the journey.