Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cruising Toward Contentment

I have been absent for a bit, not because I did not think of you, but because I have been "out of touch".  Such a quaint phrase.  It used to simply mean that one did not have the thread of the current situation.

Now, in this day of 24/7 connectivity, it generally implies that one has been disconnected from social media and ordinary contact.  It is difficult to find a place on the planet that is cut-off from such communication, but we managed. 

We spent the past eight days aboard a cruise ship, and while Wi-Fi was available, the cost was so ridiculous that we stoutly abstained from using it for the duration of the trip.  You could send a student to university for an entire year for what one week's worth of connectivity would set you back on that overgrown dinghy.  Okay, so that is hyperbole, but not by a whole lot.

I somewhat enjoyed the "unplugged" experience.  But the *LOC was pretty twitchy, and it took him the first three days to realize that he could not reprogram the remote for the TV. Then, to add insult to injury, he discovered that four of the ten measly, pre-set, channels were sales pitches from the cruise line, run on a continuous loop, and, well, I had to exit the cabin while he regained control of his attitude.

Frankly, we have been wined and dined - ad infinitum ad nauseum - such that I have sworn off of all sauces, gravy, drizzles, and toppings for the rest of my natural life.  I kid you not.  I am now permanently topped off.

Furthermore, I have made the intimate acquaintance of people I had no wish to know.  You cannot remain strangers when twenty plus members of humanity are crammed into one glass-encased elevator.

The invasion of my personal space was annoying enough; but inevitably one of my fellow "crammees" thought they should attempt to tell me their life story in the three point two seconds it took to rise from Deck X to Deck Y.

These mini-bios were generally routine, but occasionally turned terrifyingly bizarre.  In such moments I was faced with the stark reality that there was no place to run. Land was a distant memory and the experience at sea was not proving to be particularly rewarding. 
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We do have perfectly sane friends who have taken quite a number of cruises and generally report their experience was wonderful.

Good for them.

We were asked, not infrequently, if this was our first cruise.  (I do not know if we were giving off some oddly confused vibe or not, but it is entirely possible, as I was admittedly disoriented much of the time.)

Whenever we admitted that it was, indeed, our first cruise, we were treated to titters and smirks as though the group had just unwittingly stumbled across the proverbial "40-year old virgin."

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We have concluded that we are just not cruise people.  We do not cruise.  It just isn't for us.

For us, the whole "a sailing we shall go" thing was a "one and done." 

So last evening we heaved two, simultaneous, huge sighs of blessed relief.  We were home.  The floor was firm beneath our tread.  The windows could all be flung wide open. And our respective recliners were right where we had left them.  Hooray!

We do not begrudge those who love to cruise their fun.  We, however, have cruised right into our very own little safe harbor.  And we are content.
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Hope your harbor is peaceful this evening.  Until next time, your fellow traveler (but not your fellow sailor) ~ Marsha
(*Lovable Old Coot)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Healthy - Happy - and only mildly irrirated

The phone rang - shrilly, as it always seems to do.  I do not know why, with all our advanced technology, we cannot seem to invent a less annoying ring.  After all, my mobile phone allows me to choose from among numerous jaunty little ditties, but the landline still sounds too much like a dental drill.  

It was the local pharmacy, the one closest to our house, calling to let my husband know that his flu shot was available.  He should "please come in as soon as possible" and they would be waiting for him with a smile ... and a needle, obviously.

Further, in recognition of his advanced ... er, eh, that is, at this season of his life, they would graciously set aside for him a "high dose" flu shot.  Well, bless their little pointy heads.

Not my idea of an appealing invitation; but still I was bemused.  Only a few years ago ,we used to call ahead to schedule flu shots with the doctor.  That call - from us to them - was treated with a patience that seemed a little strained; but I always tried to bear in mind that at this season of the year they were probably getting about a kajillion such calls every hour.
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When flu shots first became readily available, I bravely stuck my arm out to be jabbed and felt pretty virtuous being so proactive.(Sure it is routine - but for someone who is needle-phobic it is the equivalent of putting my arm into a steel trap.... well, almost.)

There was a bit of a problem, though, back in the day.  They were using live viruses and for the hyper-sensitive types it could produce mild, "flu-like", symptoms.  Maybe ... perhaps.

Baloney!  About twenty-four hours after taking that first flu injection, I began to ache all over, ran a fever for two days, and generally felt miserable for about three or four days.  So I prudently avoided flu-shots for years.  Fool me once, shame on you - fool me twice, shame on me. Uh, huh.
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That was, of course, a few decades ago and they haven't used live viruses in flu vaccines since the first Bush was in the White House.

Then came the era, wherein I was working for a health care company and they stronnnnggly encouraged (read: put the pressure on you and your supervisor, if you dawdled on this) every one who worked there to get their flu shot!  Sooner rather than later - as in now - today. And no appointment was necessary. Alright, already.

At the time, the *LOC and I were members of the largest HMO in California, and no, they were not the evil spawn of Satan.  We got excellent care there for over twenty years.  No complaints at all.

Well, except for the teeny-tiny little thing about getting a flu shot.  First, it was true that there were no appointments - you simply lined up around a building the size of an ocean liner, and slowly shuffled forward until you reached an interior hallway.  There, it turned out, was also a line, which extended up one hallway and down another, until you had circumnavigated the entire building from the inside.

While lapping the perimeter, they had cunningly set up various "stations" where you could a) fill out questionnaires about your health status, b) disclose whether you had ever experienced a "negative reaction to a flu shot" - oh, just wait until I reached a live human being - and c) peruse cheery little reminders that unless you had both a photo ID and your insurance card, you would not, they deeply regretted to have to inform you, be eligible to receive your very own jab. 
Well, darn.

I could not help but wonder whether some people were so thrilled to obtain their very own pin prick, that they were dressing up, disguised as someone else, and going through the line more than once?  Really?  Photo ID?
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One year the nurse said to me, "You sure look different in person than in that photo."

I didn't know whether to thank her or smack her.

Another year, after a quick and nearly painless poke, the nurse commented, "Oh, so you're a bleeder. Guess we'd better use a little bigger band aid."  (Thank you?)

On another occasion a male nurse asked if I was ok, as I limped forward to take my turn.

I nearly responded, "Well, not too bad considering I just spent the last hour and fifteen minutes standing around on a concrete sidewalk, waiting for the privilege of making your acquaintance. No, you dolt, my feet hurt!"

But I refrained.
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Thus, you can only imagine my surprise, nay, my utter astonishment that no longer must one line up, fill out forms, and take a number.  One does not even have to bother to call ahead. Au contraire, they will initiate said call and charmingly induce you to come on down to where they will be waiting for you.

There was only one small glitch - the *LOC had already gotten his shot two days earlier.  At that very same place!

Guess their left-hand doesn't know what their right-hand is doing.  So believe you me, when I go down there this week to get my flu shot, I am going to be watching them.  They might try to give me a shot in both arms - just to be on the safe side.
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Hope no one jabs you in the wrong spot this week.  Until next time, I'll be the one in line right behind you~ Marsha
(*Lovable Old Coot)                                         

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Garments of Joy !

Last week we took an elderly minister to a neighboring town for a couple of doctor's appointments.  He was unable to drive due to some medical issues he had been having, although as he stoutly assured us, it had nothing to do with the fact that he was 84!

Well, of course not.

While we were sitting in the pleasantly appointed waiting room I looked around enjoying the good landscape reproductions on the walls, the well-tended real plants (none of those odious plastic things in this upscale establishment, thank you very much) and the general air of good taste.

That is, unless I allowed my eyes to dwell upon the patients coming and going through the main lobby.  What were these people thinking?

Most of the jeans had holes in the knees - at a minimum - and some seemed to be absolutely shredded from the thighs to the knees.  More than one fellow had on some kind of T-shirt, baggy shorts, and flip-flops, while the women seemed to have lost their elan' altogether. 

More than one lady had apparently dashed out the door in such a hurry to be treated that she had donned her knit top inside-out.  Why else would seams be on the outside of the garment?

I almost felt sorry for those who had forgotten to button their shirts; but at least they had worn some kind of undershirt that was almost covering their, ahem ... their upper torso.

I suppose they could not help it, if they could not afford an iron, but one had to ask oneself whether, at least, they could have mended the rips and tears in their outfits before dashing off to the doctor's office.  Just wondering.

Never being one to keep my opinions strictly to myself, I leaned over and whispered to the *LOC, "Did these folks all just fall out of bed and come straight over here, do you suppose?"

"What do you mean?" he asked, clueless and with very little interest.  He was engrossed in his book.

"Well, I mean they all either look like they just got out of bed and didn't bother to put on something besides what they slept in, or they came here directly from working out at the gym.  I'm sorry, but they look a little tacky to me."

"Marsha", he said with a weary air "It is summer, and it is hot.  Not everyone feels the need to dress like they are going to a tea."

Now I was wearing simple slacks, a decent blouse (ironed) and sandals.  Trust me, I have never "gone to tea" dressed like that in my entire life!

But I knew what he was implying, so I replied, archly, "Well, this is just the way I was raised."

"Yes, but that was a hundred years ago."

I have to admit, I had to laugh.  This is the guy that is usually telling me that I look at least twenty years younger than my real age; so I knew he really was saying "Jiggs, mind your own business."

He had a point.
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About forty-five minutes later, we had returned to the car as our passenger had appeared in the lobby and was about ready to leave.  We thought we would get the car started and have the air-conditioning going by the time he made it through the lobby, down the steps, across the side walk, and into the parking lot.

A few minutes later we watched as our older friend attempted to open the door of a nearby vehicle, of a similar color and make as our own, parked about two spaces from us.  The lady in the driver's seat, who had just started her engine looked quite startled, I must say.

The LOC jumped out of our car and called out, "We're over here."

That saintly old man snatched his hand back from the car door handle as though he had been scalded, and as quickly as his mobility allowed, scuttled over to us and got in.

"Whew.  That could have been really embarrassing.  I thought that lady was you, Marsha."

I looked over at her again, and just began to chuckle to myself.  She was at least twenty years younger than I am, and was not much more than oh.... well, let's just say she was a tad thin, and I am not.

I might have been complimented, except for one thing.  The appointment he had just come from was with the eye doctor!
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Times change, don't they?  Fashions are nothing like the ones I was raised with, and no one wants to listen to me get snippy about how standards have fallen. Particularly not the LOC.

And this little incident reminded me that what we wear on the outside matters very little.  However, what we wear around our spirits, what we choose to wrap our hearts in, now that is another matter altogether.

If we choose, He will give us "garments of joy"(Psalm 30:11) and those are much better than anything a tailor or seamstress in this world can ever come up with. 
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Hope your Labor Day weekend is healthy, happy, and not too hot.
Until next time - your old-fashioned, but smiling fellow traveler ~ Marsha
(*Lovable Old Coot)