Masked Smiles

Smiles are a great way to show enjoyment of humorous moments, but they do much more. They greet, encourage, and motivate. They comfort, calm, and reassure. They allow people to see the humanity of the one smiling. They can be an image of love. My smiles come as naturally as breathing so I’ve never given them much thought until now—when I’ve lost the ability to share them. In these COVID-19 days, other than when I’m walking alone in the neighborhood, my smile is covered, hidden under fabric designed to keep my germs to myself and the germs of others, away.  At the grocery store, I recognize no one and no one recognizes me, though I’m surely seeing the same grocery workers I’ve encountered on a weekly basis for years. Thankfully, since most other customers are...

Things of Beauty

We headed out one day to search for things of beauty, a favorite pastime in our retirement. My husband, George, and I drove back roads to the village of Leipers Fork, the rays of sun making their way through the canopy of trees, causing the leaves to shimmer in beautiful fall colors. The reds and golds were a stunning contrast to the brown tree bark and leaves blanketing the ground. We drove through narrow hollows and up and down enough hills that it was easy to imagine I was in my beloved Appalachian Mountains. I kept expecting to see a deer cross the road in front of us. We were traveling to see art on this crisp, clear day. Jason Saunders, a landscape artist who works in oils, was holding his studio open house. We wandered in, stepping around the many people...

Ageless

I received my Medicare card in the mail today.  I’m not sure if this warrants a celebration or…what’s an antonym for celebration anyway? How about lamentation? I can lament that I’m officially old. As thankful as I am to have health coverage, I dread my next check in at the doctor’s office. “Any changes to your health insurance?” the receptionist will ask. Of course, with a small waiting room, this conversation will be heard by everyone. “Yes, I’m now on Medicare.” “Medicare? I’ll need to see your card, please,” she will say.  I might as well announce my age to the entire office. Shoot, I might as well ask if they offer an AARP discount since the Medicare card ruined any hope of being perceived as younger than I am. I remember a time when...

Joy in the Journey

“You don’t enjoy the journey,” my husband said recently. Now, there’s a mull-worthy statement, especially coming out of the blue as it did, and it set my mind to contemplating what brings me joy. Was George correct in his observation or was he overlooking my enjoyment of the day-to-day? Being task-oriented, I have a habit of listing things to accomplish and checking them off when completed. They don’t have to be big tasks: walking the dog, scrubbing the toilet, working on the grocery list. But some of them are important: mailing an encouraging card to someone in need, sending care packages to my children and grandchildren, or spending time with friends. My day is generally comprised of 1) planning the tasks to be done, 2) doing the tasks, and 3) enjoying the fact...

Squirreling Around

Okay. I admit it. I feed the squirrels in my back yard. Since I like the little rodents, some of my friends think I’m nuts.             One neighbor keeps a trap in his yard and removes any captured squirrels to woods many miles away. They get in his attic, so he’s trying to stop the partying that awakens him in the middle of the night. He’s tried repairing his home to keep them from gaining entry, but they still find a way. Smart little critters.             Another friend—this one lives in a rural community—shoots the squirrels in her back yard. She’s already passed the hundred mark. The squirrels get into the motor of her F-150 pickup...

The Perfect Submission

Many thanks for your submission. Unfortunately, this one didn’t work for us. We are sorry to write that we do not feel your project is suitable for our list. Regrettably, we are unable to accept your manuscript for publication. I am so full of stories I could burst, yet I can’t seem to choose the right words, or place them in a format that anyone wants to read. Do you ever wonder how many different ways there are to say Rejected? Enough to wallpaper a small room, in my case. I sometimes feel like the practice dummy for a boss who wants to fire an employee. The only difference is that with rejection notices, I don’t have to worry about getting spit in my eye. It’s not that I’m unfamiliar with good words. I have an extensive vocabulary and could probably win a...