Friday, September 16, 2016

Spring Cleaning

It’s not spring yet officially until two more weeks, but the warm, sunny days and the fragrant freesias blooming in my garden activate my spring urges. Our apricot tree wears soft white blossoms, and the perfumed air is intoxicating.
When I’m not outside talking to the seeds I planted, encouraging them to rise and shine, I’m tackling projects like cleaning out a closet in the spare bedroom. It’s a job I’ve dreaded – sorting through boxes and albums of slides taken by my parents on multiple trips and cruises to Jamaica, Norway, Scottish Highlands, the Pacific Northwest, Chile. Ten boxes, 70 slides per box. Through a mini-viewer I quickly check for people photos. Here’s a surprise. Shots of two survivors of the plane crash in the Andes involving an Uruguayan rugby team. They were staying at the same hotel as my parents while here in Chile for my wedding.
  I scan for good photos of my parents to save: my father gazing up at the Matterhorn, and stretched out for a siesta on a Jamaican beach; my mother, a Jackie Kennedy look alike, petting a burro, and posing before a bright flowering poinsettia bush. I study their facial expressions, the way my father stands slightly hunched, my mother’s wide smile. It seems unfeeling to throw out the slides, their memories, but they are not my memories. Now ten years after my mother’s death and twenty after my father’s I feel ready to let go. I’ve saved a few dozen – my first step towards photo closure.

            There is more in that dusty closet that I must face: my son’s paintings from childhood art classes, my own attempts at painting, binoculars inherited from my husband’s grandfather, a fishing tackle box, a game of Scrabble and…a slide projector. I tell my husband, “We can put the slides of our travels into the empty carousels – your stay in Germany training for the Mexican Olympics and my Peace Corps years.”  Maybe someday we’ll have a slide show and reminisce about the days when we were young.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


I’m on a serious binge. No, not chocolate. Chocolate is no longer at the top of my favorites list. I’m on a Netflix binge, hooked on “Grace and Frankie.” I am having so much fun! Laughter is far better for me than chocolate, anyway.
            I identify with seventy-ish Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. How I laugh as they bemoan the frustrations of their age, the chin hairs and flabby biceps. Even glamorous ex-Barbarella-Jane needs help getting up from a sitting position on the beach, and her hands are as wrinkled as mine. Laughing about these embarrassing signs of aging is very liberating; they become easier to accept.

Jane and Lily inspire me to be a little crazy and silly and throw off my cloak of ladylike demeanor. I want Frankie to send me some of her marihuana-enhanced, quirky, shamanic, Buddhist vibes. The humdrum of my daily life – planning what the heck to have for dinner, taking out the garbage, changing the sheets – offers few opportunities for risk-taking. I must be on the lookout – maybe strike up a conversation with the beggar woman on the street corner, read a science fiction book (not my usual fare), attend an art exhibit alone – and accept new challenges, even if they’re a little scary.
This past year I did just that: river rafting and hiking over a glacial moraine in Patagonia and riding as a passenger on a stranger’s motorcycle in rural Colombia. I foresee more adventures on an upcoming solo trip, touching down on the East coast, Midwest and West coast of the good ol’ USA. I look forward to acquainting myself with unfamiliar American landscapes.
 I’d welcome a “yes” night (Frankie says you’re not allowed to say “no” to anything suggested to you) but then I’d have to have a goofy friend to do it with. My oldest friend back home would be the perfect choice. She loves to laugh and talk to strangers. I’ll soon be spending time with her. I wonder what excitement we can stir up.
I haven’t given up chocolate. In fact, the ideal binge would be watching “Grace and Frankie” while savoring creamy, dark chocolate.

Bad idea. I just did it. Wolfed down the whole damned thing.