August 22, 2013
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When my husband and I entered our assigned room in the downtown Denver hotel, we saw an open suitcase on an easy chair, clothes strewn about, and a football game on TV. Joel about-faced, dragged a baffled me back into the corridor, and rushed off to the lobby.
In honor of Siblings Day on April 10, I am dedicating this column to my brothers and sisters. I hope they enjoy it. I think most of them might. Being the youngest, JL could have benefited from the six models of exemplary behavior that preceded him, but there were none. So, when still a toddler, he pinched his finger in a church pew during a silent moment and exclaimed, “Damn that hurts,” using his outdoor voice.
I did some tossing and turning the night Joel and I rented a cabin near Steamboat Lake with three other couples so we could cross-country ski. “Why, did I ever agree to this?” I wondered. “Sure, I can shuffle my skis around Craig’s golf course, looking ungainly — but not falling — on its bumps; but this lake has genuine hills, some of which go straight up and straighter down. I’ll die. I’ll surely die. But only after wallowing about and making a fool of myself.”
Last Monday morning, Presidents Day, I found myself thinking about the contentious muddle in which our nation currently is mired — I worried that we’ll never find our way out of it. This concern dampened the joy I usually find in breakfast, but I comforted myself by remembering that we survived the ‘60s.
Have you ever noticed that small concerns become major issues during sleepless nights? The occasional twinge in your molar is an abscess that will result in extraction and dentures. Your son doesn’t call because he thinks your genes have kept him from bowling a perfect game; when you remember there are no bagels for breakfast, it breaks your heart.
When I met the new teacher from Chicago everyone was buzzing about at the back-to-school reception for employees of the Carson City School District, I thought he looked like a pampered rich boy. Perfectly dressed, groomed, and tanned, he was tall and impossibly handsome with impeccable manners — and dimples.
Though I never buy a Powerball ticket, I fantasize about what I would do if I won. I dream, debate options and decide on only one immediate change: I would never again board an airplane and park my posterior in economy class.
My family followed established traditions on the day after Christmas just as we did on the day itself: Dad muttered about bills. Mom took a lengthy nap. The oldest children whined because we’d been left in charge of the youngest, and the youngest played with the empty boxes their toys had come in, chewed on ornaments from the tree and threw things.
During the busy buildup to Christmas, I’m going to remind myself to notice simple pleasures and open myself to them, to remember all that I have. I invite you to join me.
I’m grateful for the days of autumn splendor that blessed us this year. Although interrupted by colder periods laden with long-awaited moisture, days of generous sunshine filtered through crisp air arrived with gilt-edged invitations, requesting our presence outdoors, and we complied.
Once again, I will devote a November column to small personal pleasures most folks ignore when counting their blessings. For example, on Thanksgiving, how many of you will be giving thanks for size eleven shoes?
I amuse myself by assigning personalities to the seasons: Spring reminds me of youthful rebels optimistically battling the weary veterans of winter. Summer becomes a revered athlete incapable of delivering the 100 percent perfect performance fans expect every outing, and winter is a polar bear magnificent in its power and beauty. This fall, I decided that autumn is a temperamental adolescent.
I started using Facebook a few months ago. When I bragged about doing so to my teenage grandson, he replied: “Hey, nice. But now everybody’s on it, Facebook’s not so cool anymore. All my friends and I have moved on to texting or tweeting.” Well, la-di-da, Mr. Cutting Edge; I guess I’m not an early adapter.
After my July column that highlighted flaws with motels, I heard from two readers who confessed to odd habits they’ve adopted in order to feel safe when staying in motels. In addition, two others told me about unpleasant experiences they endured when road weary and longing for a good night’s sleep.
I sprouted to unusual heights at an early age. As a result, teachers, baby sitters and forgetful relatives often assumed I was older than my years. Often, when I tattled, cried, pouted or poked a classmate, an adult would say, “Shame on you, Janet, you’re big enough to know better. Act your age.”
Two years ago, I experienced nature’s magnificence as I walked along one of the many trails that twine behind the Sandrocks like tendrils of spaghetti clinging to a pot. An unexpected — but not uncommon — encounter, it lingers in my memory; and a glimpse of furtive movement, a September sun washing my face, or the spicy smell of sage can instantaneously pull it back into my consciousness.
School fashions have changed dramatically since I carried my nap rug into kindergarten wearing a ruffled, polka-dotted dress and lace-trimmed anklets. Every day of every grade of every year from kindergarten through high school graduation, my friends and I wore dresses or coordinated skirts and blouses to class — the majority of them homemade.