Chocolate, Revisited

Dove dark chocolates, in their unmistakable red foil wrappers, are my favorites. I eat lots of them and everyone, friend and family alike, knows of my great weakness for these tasty little pleasures. When walking our big black dog with my husband on a recent day, I saw one of those red wrappers in the street, the luscious piece of chocolate squished flat by a car tire. Who knows, I may have been the one who dropped it since I always carry an emergency Dove in my pocket, but it distressed me just the same. Such a senseless waste of good chocolate! My greater concern, though, was the chance my dog would see the morsel. Prince is quick to snatch up anything edible he encounters on our walks regardless of how spoiled it might be, so when I saw the flattened chocolate...

On-the-Job Training

I grew up Southern Baptist, in a home where we were taught to not smoke, drink or cuss, or hang around with those who did. I obeyed the rules without fail through childhood and even as an adult. When my career began, I spent a significant amount of time at out-of-town training classes, one of a large group of trainees. We became close while sharing meals and work hours. After the first night, however, I realized that everyone—except me—was a drinker. My old training kicked in and I began to stay in my room in the evenings, dining on Coke and vending machine snacks, rather than going out with the others. And then there was the cussing. These people knew words I had never heard before and used them freely. My innocent ears were aching in a way they had not...

Chocolate

Dove dark chocolates, in their unmistakable red foil wrappers, are my favorites. I eat lots of them and everyone, friend and family alike, knows of my great weakness for these tasty little pleasures. When walking the dog with my husband on a recent day, I saw one of those red wrappers in the street, the luscious piece of chocolate squished flat by a car tire. Who knows, I may have been the one who dropped it since I sometimes carry Doves in my pockets. Our dog is quick to snatch up anything edible he encounters on our walks regardless of how spoiled and nasty it might be, so when I saw the flattened chocolate I warned George to not let Prince get hold of it. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, after all. “Prince isn’t the one I was worried about,” George said, his...

Decompose

We had been with my daughter and her family for three weeks, helping them through the adjustment of adding newborn Caleb to their existing children, two-year-old Josiah and three-year-old Hannah. In addition, we had spent several days packing and hauling boxes as they moved to Missoula, Montana, from Seeley Lake, about an hour away. We were exhausted as we began our drive back to the Seeley Lake house, the car quiet now that the young family was settled enough in Missoula to spend a first night in their new place. I offered to drive. “No, thanks,” said George. “I need to drive for a while to decompose.” “Umm…decompress?” He thought for a moment. “What is it you do when you die?” he asked. “Decompose,” I said. “I meant the other word, but maybe decompose is more...

Not Quite Good Enough

Are you one of those people, like me, with unreasonable self-expectations? I demand more of myself than of anyone else and offer myself little mercy. It’s not surprising there’s an official OCD diagnosis in my medical history. I work hard and aim for perfection so it’s no wonder I often feel not quite good enough. Let me recount some painful failures. At age seventeen I was college-bound, considering a major in piano.  That summer, though, I got sick with severe pain and swelling in my joints. The diagnosis: rheumatoid arthritis. The disease made it difficult to even climb a flight of stairs; long hours of practice on the piano were unthinkable as was any chance of majoring in music. I was ready to leave home, fly to independence, but instead, couldn’t get out of...

Cutting Off the Years

After a year in retirement, I was feeling old and drab. Perhaps it was time for a change. My hair was long, all one length and worn in a ponytail. I wanted to freshen my look with something new so it was back to shoulder-length hair with layers. The natural curl bounced back in and, since the hair now hangs loose, the gray prominent around my hairline is covered. The result is that I look less gray–without using hair dye! I didn’t realize quite how different my appearance was until an encounter with a little neighbor girl, Arden. Arden knows me as Mrs. Karen and is always excited to see me. On this particular day, she gave me a big hug, but then asked her mom, “Is this Mrs. Karen’s daughter?” You’ve heard the phrase, what a difference a day makes. But I...

The Screaming Lady

As George and I were about to enter Jim & Nick’s Bar-B-Q, a man came out pushing an old lady, presumably his mother, in a wheelchair. As he wheeled her through the door, she let out such a terrified scream we stopped in our tracks, not knowing if she was about to fall out of the chair or was at the point of death. We had no idea what to do. Then she shouted, “It always jumps up at me!” I looked around anxiously. What jumps? The sidewalk? The outdoors? Did she just get new glasses or was Alzheimer’s involved? Whatever it was, it didn’t seem to bother her son, who continued on towards their car. He was apparently accustomed to such behavior. And the lady—well, she quickly got over it and seemed oblivious to everyone around her. I laughed later about the scream,...