Monday, July 17, 2017

Riding Along In My Automobile

Riding Along In My Automobile
            Have you ever had a day when you feel unutterably sad for no earthly reason except that you are human?

            On my patio, on this day when my thermometer registers a mid-afternoon temperature in the low 70’s, rain still dripping from tree leaves, a lizard lays splayed out, soaking up every iota of warm comfort from the patch of sun-drenched concrete. I know how he feels.

            My habit, when I get this way, is to work through the mood. But in the last few years I’ve learned to slow down, examine myself inside and out. Do I feel well? Is something bothering me that I’d rather not see?  Am I avoiding something?

            Thank you, Chuck Berry, for accompanying me in my pondering, for popping into my head with the song that became my metaphor for the day. The lyrics describe my life: “Riding along in my automobile . . . with no particular place to go.”

How lovely is that? I can ride along, enjoy the tunes, and let life take me where it will.

I don’t have to adhere to a schedule. Don’t need to suit up, show up, to perform in any manner. If I feel lethargic, why not just be lethargic? That concept goes against my grain, let me tell you. But I’m learning.

Here comes the rain again. I rather miss the lake that used to rise in my back yard whenever the skies unzipped. Last week, in a morning of sunshine, I asked Leo to run a drain pipe from the upper yard through the rose garden so the accumulating pond waters would drain onto the lower patio and out beneath the brick wall. A simple solution (genius idea, thank you) that took an hour of work.

So instead of thinking about stocking trout, I have to wonder if another week of too much rain to mow the lawn will mean I’ll need to bring in a swather and baler. “Make hay while the sun shines” takes on a whole new meaning for me. For a few brief moments I worry about the weeds that need pulling, the oleander bushes that I should prune, the geraniums that I want to re-pot.

The ants stripped two of my flowering trees overnight. I sprinkled a powdered poison for ants. Rats have shown up. I’ve spread poison pellets for rats. The black and green beetles that have decimated my rose and hibiscus flowers seem impervious to each poison spray I’ve tried. Every garden of paradise has its “snakes”.

Physically, my body scan reveals runny nose, scratchy throat, and weepy eyes. A summer cold is stealing my energy but I won’t push against it or pretend it’s not with me. Today, I’ll settle in with a box of Kleenex, hot tea, a good book, and let the garden grow out of bounds, which it seems determined to do whether or not I participate.

As for worry, what? Money? I never did find any gold at the end of the rainbow though I’ve tried to follow a few. Whatever is in my pocket today is all that matters. Words easy to say, easy to forget, but true for me.

I worry about my children, long-time adults, my grandchildren, babies and newly adult. From oldest to youngest, each has his own different problems. Don’t your kids? But our children are sharp; they are capable. They have the tools to work out their own solutions without my help, read that “interference”. Sure, I still worry a bit. It’s my job.

The sun has burned through the clouds again. Maybe I can work in my garden—maybe tomorrow.

Thanks for riding along with me. Sorry about the seat belts sticking. This old car has its quirks.  You’re a good listener. I feel better, now that I’ve shared with you. Say, would you like to swing by the In-and-Out for a cheese burger and chocolate shake? I’ll drive.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

July 13, 2017

Friday, July 7, 2017

Field of Dreams With Converse

Field of Dreams With Converse
            “I love my night life.”

            “You don’t have a night life,” my cousin Nancie, in Mexico for a three-week vacation in her house across the road from mine, countered. “You’re in bed when the sun goes down. What do you mean, night life?”

            “My dreams. I dream marvelous stories. I usually wake up feeling happy and full of energy. Most of the time I don’t remember my dreams once I’m out of bed.  Most of my dreams are like playing solitaire with a pinochle deck, but, lately, I feel that in my dreams I’m solving problems or answering questions.”

            About that time Nancie parked her car and we took our “old-woman shopping trolleys” out of the back and set out to stock up on fruits and veggies and a few necessities at the tianguis in Etzatlan. 

            We have our favorite vendors but there are always new and different things to see, especially since we don’t go every week. I bought 15 kilos of mangoes for 10 pesos a kilo. When you go to the IGA check out mangoes. I bought mine to make jam. It’s mango season.

            I hiked my mangoes back to the car, emptied my cart, and rolled it back to the market to fill up with 6 potatoes, 3 onions, 2 peppers, a pineapple, 6 guavas, lettuce, 5 tomatoes, 2 avocados, etc. Groceries for one.

            While prepping mangoes for jam at my outdoor kitchen, I mused about the dream I had last night.

            Several classmates and I set off on a trip together. We met somewhere vague—this is a dream, remember—and traveled in a large vehicle. At times it seemed like a tour bus. Other times we were clowns in a VW Beetle. We crossed eastern Montana. I distinctly recall going through Malta, Saco, Hinsdale, Glasgow, some places, recognized, some places, unknown. Dreams are quirky that way. They don’t make sense in the awake world.

            Among those on the bus were Jerry and Lola, Karen, Jess and Sharon, Jane, Fred and Sandy, and Denise and Don. Jim climbed on the bus in Glasgow. We were on our way to a wedding in North Dakota. My dream wasn’t specific about who was getting married. Quirky dreams.  

            Half way across North Dakota, in the winter, I realized I’d forgotten to pack shoes to wear to the wedding. All I had were the sandals on my feet. Sandals, in winter snow, in North Dakota.

            I don’t usually recall my dreams in such detail. We drove into Rugby, (Yes, Virginia, there is a Rugby, ND) afternoon sun fading behind us, and I said, “Let’s go to a western-wear store. I’ll buy a pair of leather boots. Warm enough to keep my toes toasty yet dressy enough for the formal wedding.” I never claimed to be a fashion maven. 

            My friends milled throughout the small store and helped me pick winter boots, soft brown leather, exactly as I had imagined them to be, knee-high, lace-tie front, sheep’s wool lining, with fur trim around the top. Classy.

            Then a pair of classic Chuck Taylor Converse red high-tops jumped out and snared me. I had to have that pair of red Converse high-tops.

            While I tried on the shoes, Sharon sat down beside me. “How could you have forgotten to bring your shoes?”

            “Usually I travel alone. When I pack, I make a list and check it twice and then check it again. This trip we are traveling together. I had all of you with me so I didn’t need to worry.”

I woke up remembering all those details. When we have friends whom we are confident will be there for us, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

July 6, 2017