Retire or Retread?

Next Life chapter:  Retire or Retread

What is your next Life chapter?

Now and then, on my way to here and there, I see shells of a tire on the roadside.  Not the whole tire, just a piece of the outside, as if someone cut a ragged slice off of the tread.  Sometimes they are called Road Alligators, but I have always heard them called retreads.  According to Dictionary.com, a retread is a tire that has had a new tread glued onto or cut into the old, worn down surface.  So when a set of automobile tires no longer passes inspection, the owner either re-tires (buys new tires) or retreads.  A retread is also a person retrained for a new job or “a person representing older or previous times, ideas, policies, etc., especially when they are deemed passé or tiresome.”

                Two of the definitions of the word retire are, to remove or withdraw oneself and to quit working or leading an active life due to age.  In two years, I will retire from my position in Granite School District.  I will quit working full time as a Registered Nurse but I have no intention of withdrawing or removing myself from an active life.  I think I’ll retread.  Art classes sound good.  Volunteering in a hospital or school doing “busy work” to free up the Nurses and Teachers is another option.  Or maybe I’ll be a story reader in my local library.  Most of all I intend to be a person who represents older values.  Much older, as in “in the beginning was the word”, especially when they are deemed passé or tiresome.

So, what is your next Life chapter?

 

Still the Best Place to Find a Story Part 1

Photo credit: http://cdmbuntu.lib.utah.edu/cdm/ref/collection/Shelley/id/274

Once every two weeks each summer, Mama Duck Morris and her four ducklings would waddle to the park, but not to swim in the pond, because there wasn’t one.  No, we went to immerse ourselves in the waters of literature.  Shelley Public Library, magic land.  Outside, it was a small, one room log cabin, left over I’m sure from when the land was not a park.  It stood behind the swings and slippery slide and under huge shade trees, no doubt as old as the cabin.  Inside it seemed like Doctor Who’s Tardis, bigger on the inside than the outside.

The first thing that hit you was the smell, a lovely, comforting combination of wood, paper, leather and dirt from the plants on the windowsills.  Then you heard the window fan that kept the place a little cooler than the outside.  Then you saw the librarians desk, usually with books on top, and the librarian’s smile.  (honestly, I don’t remember her name or what she looked like, but I remember we knew her from church.  Of course in Shelley, pretty much everybody knew everybody from church.)  Then, you saw books.  Books on shelves lining the log walls, books on shelves between the walls, books on tables wherever they fit.  There was just enough room to squeeze down the aisles and find the magic wrapped in hard cover.

The best part was watching the librarian stamp the card from the book’s front cover pocket.  That meant it was yours for two whole weeks.  The worst part was you could only check out six.  I could read six books in six days.  What was I to do the rest of the two weeks?  So, I read them again.  I wanted to read them all!  I actually did read all the Children’s books about horses.  I came close to reading all the Science Fiction too.

Photo credit as above.

Eventually that stuffed little house became too stuffed for the words.  When the bank moved down Main Street, the Library moved to Main Street.  It lost the atmosphere but gained a whole lot more magic wrapped in hard cover.

Photo credit:  http://www.americantowns.com/id/shelley/organizations/schools-and-libraries

It moved yet again and now it is down the street and around the corner in the old hardware and paint store.  Now instead of decorating your house, you can decorate your mind.  One of Mama Duck’s ducklings is now the Library Storyteller.  Patricia’s handy work, “Barbie” and friends dressed in homemade costumes, illustrate library display cases and story time.

Happy birthday Mom, do you feel ancient?

I just passed my 60th birthday. It felt like one more page in the story of my life, not even a chapter, only a page. My daughter, 18 years “old”, asked me how it felt to be 60. Other than arthritis, sinus headaches, chronic cough from sinus drainage, sore toe from clutzing and stubbing it, acid indigestion, hand and foot cramps, (at least I’m done with the other cramps, thank heaven) and a constant flow of words in and out of the brain that never make it to the mouth when I need them, Hey, it feels great!

I’m Fine, How are You?
There’s nothing the matter with me,
I’m just as healthy as can be,
I have arthritis in both knees,
And when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.
My pulse is weak, my blood is thin,
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.
All my teeth have had to come out,
And my diet I hate to think about.
I’m overweight and I can’t get thin,
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.
Arch supports I need for my feet.
Or I wouldn’t be able to go out in the street.
Sleep is denied me night after night,
But every morning I find I’m all right.
My memory’s failing, my head’s in a spin.
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.
The moral of this as the tale unfolds,
Is that for you and me, who are growing old.
It is better to say “I’m fine” with a grin,
Than to let people know the shape we are in.
I’m fine, how are you?
(wish I knew who wrote this, I found it on http://www.dennydavis.net/poemfiles/aging2b.htm)

All in all, I simply: Don’t Worry
At age 20 we worry about what others think of us;
At age 40 we don’t care what they think of us;
At age 60 we realize that they haven’t been thinking of us at all.
(again from http://www.dennydavis.net/poemfiles/aging2b.htm)


My Grandmother Morris was born an eldest child in December of 1898 and died November 1994. She knew the first, middle and some last pages of the life stories of siblings, children, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren and greatgreatgrandchildren. She saw, felt and lived an entire history book. She travelled by horse and buggy, train, automobile and watched rockets fly to the moon. She knew the pain and delight of a hard day’s work with crops, farm animals and school children. She collected sagebrush for the fireplace and paid the propane bill for the room heaters. She communicated by word of mouth, telegraph, party line telephone but never computer. She knew how to see each unique sunset, to hear a bird call and name it, to smell a storm or feel a tornado’s approach, to taste the sweetness of crab apple jelly—sweeter because she made it, and to live the experience of standing on a Snake River tributary bridge with a grandchild and see, hear, smell, feel and taste all that entailed.
She taught me more than I can remember. The forgetting does not come from living too long. The forgetting comes from living too long in concrete and steel, too long with instant pudding, ½ hour Sit-coms and texting. It’s time I remembered. I think my next life page will be a different story from this one.

When an 80-year-old widow, Gram shared an anecdote that went something like this:

MY FIVE NEW BOYFRIENDS!
I am seeing 5 gentlemen every day.
As soon as I wake up, Will Power helps me get out of bed.
Then I go to see John.
Then Charlie Horse comes along, and when he is here, he takes a lot of my time and attention.
When he leaves, Arthur Ritis shows up and stays the rest of the day. He doesn’t like to stay in one place very long, so he takes me from joint to joint.
After such a busy day, I’m really tired and glad to go to bed with Ben Gay.
What a life!
Oh, yes, I’m also flirting with Al Zymer and thinking of calling Jack Daniels or Johnny Walker to come and keep me company.

(wish I knew who wrote this one too!)

The Hill

I lived from age 6 months to 6 years in Blackfoot, a small Southeastern Idaho town, named in honor of one of the local Native American tribes.  The area is still mostly agricultural, Spud country, home of the best potato in the world, the Idaho Russet.  Those lovely oblong tubers grow fabulously in the volcanic loam.  From 15,000 to 2,000 years ago, Southeastern Idaho was home to volcanic activity.  Craters of the Moon National Park and two buttes are visible reminders.  The rest of the story is in the wonderfully loose soil that grows practically anything that’s planted in it.

After we moved to Shelley, I remember many times driving through higher than our car walls of lava as we went to dentist appointments in Blackfoot.  The area was the southeast tip of a flow called “Hell’s Half Acre” and it wasn’t hard to imagine the devil sitting on top, laughing at the motorists below.  Well, somebody got the bright (actually good) idea to put a set of very nice rest stops with nature trails right there.  They needed rock for concrete and hey, there was all this lava.  So now that “Hell” has been reformed, the devil has moved elsewhere.

The Hill

September, 1960

“Whee,” I run up the hill as fast as my three-year-old legs will carry me.  At the top, I splat myself down for the twenty-seventeenth time.  Instead of rolling down, this time I flatten on my belly and kick my feet.  Slowly I feel one smooth, emerald blade of the lush yard carpet my dad so carefully waters, mows, fertilizes and treats with that long, brown, stinky weed-killer-on-a-wire block.

My golden capped baby sister laughs.  I look across the narrow side yard to where she sits with our mother.  Mom picks a small yellow flower from the color-splotched strip of garden next to the Hortin’s tall, white cinderblock fence.  She holds it up to Dorothy’s button nose to sniff.  It’s my turn to laugh as Dorothy’s chubby hand reaches for the bloom and her mouth opens wide.

“No, you don’t smell with your mouth, silly,” I say and roll down the cool slope.

Once at the bottom I sit and pick green bits out of my strawberry blond strands.  I look around and decide to watch a Daddy-long-legs climb up the pink wood siding of our two bedroom, neat-as-a-pin, one story house.  If he makes it to the white edge of the black roof, he might get eaten by the bird sitting there.

“Hey, race you,” my soon to be five big sister calls.  Her brunette bob pokes around the back corner of the house.

I bounce up, “okay.”

We run past the Snow White apple tree, red apples on one side, green on the other, over to our barbecue that looks like a monument.  I catch my breath in front of the stout, iron grill and run my hand over the rough brown brick trying unsuccessfully to reach the top.  I scan the yard for a good course to run.  We could go back to the apple, left to the purple plum and straight to the sandbox.  Then we could go left again along the Jensen’s wooden fence, past the lilac bush with its tangle of trunks to the peonies by the back fence.  I’m thinking that as long as we go that far, we might as well keep going past the gate and weave through the yellowing corn stocks in the vegetable patch.  Why, I can run so fast, I could even jump over all the bumpy dark green Hubbard squashes I can hardly pick up, fly over to the one branch of the Hortin’s apple tree that slumps over the fence, pick one of those golden beauties and still beat Diana back.

But, she wants to run to the hill.  Oh well.  She lines up with the barbecue’s stick out side with more shelves than cubby holes.  I stand in front of the other.

“On your mark, get set, go!”

I speed up the slope again with all my tired might.  I just barely come in second.

July 2009

On my way home from visiting my two youngest sisters, I find a tiny house in a small Idaho town.  It’s all peeling paint white now.  I stop in front.  It looks like no one is home.  That’s good because, “hi, I used to live here and want to roll down your hill,” seems more than lame.  There are bicycles not bushes on the front porch.  Bottles line the living room windowsill.  The curtains behind them are crooked and gaping.  The sandbox is filled with unruly grass.  I inch the car forward until I see a crumbling, nondescript, brick structure stuffed with—stuff.  I shake my head and then see a small slope in the yellow-green, dirt patched, narrow side lawn.  It is a 10 inch drop, maybe, if that much, maybe less.  I tell myself, “that hill shrunk.”

I put the car in gear again and drive home to Utah.