I like to think that I look younger than my years. It’s a harmless, pleasant fantasy that keeps me in a good mood. But every now and then, something comes along to shatter the delicate shell I keep around my ego. You wouldn’t do that , would you?
I didn’t think so. And that makes The Incident this week all the more annoying. Here’s a tip: If you want me to buy magazines from your 50 year old ass, do not take a quick look at me for the first time ever and then refer to me as your mother. This really happened. Sometimes I think you don’t believe the things I’m telling you here , so lucky for you that my Ring doorbell camera captured it.
You could tell this is going to be an event just from that knock, right? There’s a part 2 to this encounter where the solicitor and I get into an argument about whether or not he should be soliciting in a non-soliciting neighborhood but I’ll spare you that one.* That’s another tip: if you want someone to buy something from you, don’t get into a fight with them.
*Now that I’m thinking about it, I actually did sort of act like his mother when he was trying to give me the baloney how he had permission and I refused to let him wriggle away, point by point, by calling him out on his bullshit. Apparently, I’m highly the suggestable type. I hope someone comes to the door today to tell me I look like a lottery winner.
Life in the suburbs can be rough if you are a hermit that wants to be the boss of their own time but mostly just wants to avoid being annoyed. Also, I get all the magazines I want for free by taking quizzes about recycling at recyclebank.com
Before we get started here, I would like the record to show that I have been seriously nap-deficient for the last 20 or so years. I intend to change that starting now. That’s a joke. I already started. FYI – the chair pictured here is the infamous scratched one that precipitated the delivery of two free chaises. I always meant to get rid of it but I never could do it. It’s been living in hallways and spare bedrooms all this time. Now it runs free and wild in the dappled sunshine, next to a freshly spray-painted Walmart table.
Where is the time going? I’m busy all the time now , doing what I can’t tell you but I don’t have enough hours in the day to do it. I’m enjoying the little domestic activities that were, while I was still working, just a source of annoyance to me if I did them, or a source of embarrassment if I didn’t. Things like straightening out a closet or reorganizing a desk drawer. I do confess that more than a few drawers around here would provide a surprise much like a joke snake leaping from a can of peanuts for whoever opened them. I’m still haunting the kitchen producing loaves of bread of variable but still substandard quality and very, very good marmalades. Little bit sick of the washing up, though.
And crocheting dishcloths.
I hope you didn’t just laugh. I feel embarrassed that I like the act of doing this and that I like the end result. Me. A respected expert in my speciality field, a high powered executive business woman. Who is retired. I guess I’m not those things anymore. Now I’m a maker of dishcloths.
But look at it: my lovely double sided scrub mitt. There’s satisfaction in this, at least for the moment. At least until I get this out of my system. At least until the rain stops today and I can get back outside. That chaise lounge is not the only thing yearning to run free .
Now that my days are no longer consumed by “The Company”, I thought that I’d be able to return to my old of obsessively reading books from cover to cover as quickly as possible. I have some weighty presidential biographies that I’ve been waiting to dig into and I’ve got A Confederation of Dunces on my radar, which I think I should read because it’s “considered a canonical work of modern literature of the Southern United States.” Now that I’m Southern – what with the successful biscuit making and the blooming of the birds of paradise and all – I believe it is my duty to become familiar with that one.
As you know, I prefer a hardcover book in my hand to any other reading format. As much as I like talk radio and podcasts, I cannot abide books on tape or on an electronic reader. I buy hardcover books whenever they are available in the titles I want at a great discount from Abebooks.com. Discount meaning less than $5 total including shipping, sometimes $3. This is possible because I don’t traffic in recent works or the middling taste of the petite bourgeoisie. Some of these are library books that come with the warning that they may have written notes or highlighter on the pages, but I’ve never seen that. In fact, most of the library books that I’ve purchased this way are in pristine condition, some with the library cards showing only one or two checkouts. Sad.
Here’s my current stack of to be reads. The top two are in progress; the rest haven’t been touched.
I’m telling you all this now because I recently sought out the nearest branch of the county library. I usually find Google maps very helpful when I go someplace for the first time, not only for driving directions but to check out what the place looks like and some surrounding landmarks in case I overshoot. I swear to God this is the Google street view for the library , and it is accurate.
After a little back and forthing on a Florida backroad and peering through every clearing in the scrubby forest primeval , I did finally come face to face with the Jacksonville branch of Florida State college which consists of two buildings. This branch of the county library is housed inside a poorly marked college building and takes up all of 500 sq ft.
Five. Hundred. Square. Feet.
But lo and behold, in the local newspaper not two days later was an article about how the library’s lease with the college is up in June and rather than pay increased fees for an insufficient space and so the library commission has identified an available 6,000 Sq ft space for potential relocation about a mile and a half from where I live!
Now back to my books. I don’t save them but pass them on to others but my taste is sometimes so esoteric that not many share my ideas of what is a good read. Once the library is settled in the new space, I’m sure they’ll be open for donations to help fill the shelves. Here’s my scheme: my next purchases are from a single author and when I’m done with them, I look forward to the happy day that I can walk into the Yulee branch of the Nassau County library and donate the complete works of Kitty Kelley. Pretty sure this will be the only branch in the county that will be able to make that claim.
Author’s note: You must have a lot of time on your hands because you just read 600 boring words so that I could occupy myself with a mildly amusing daydream. I’m telling you, retirement is great.
It happened. As I sit here beginning this blog post, I see by the clock that I’ve been retired for 24 hours and 2 minutes. I believe it’s going well so far.
The first thing I did this morning while the coffee was brewing was pick up a screwdriver and go outside to the front lawn to look for weeds to uproot. I have never intentionally done this before in my life. If I had happened to be passing by a particularly annoying weed, I might have stooped to yank it out. Might even have gone to get a screwdriver if I was sufficiently annoyed by its refusal to surrender to me. But this morning, I just casually thought it would be a good use of my time while I waited for the coffee.
Apparently, my body automatically reset itself to retirement mode and I was acting from pure instinct. In the same way that newborn babies instinctively turn their mouths in the direction of the nipple, newly minted retirees must have the instinct to fret about their lawns. I have no other explanation.
But I’m glad it happened, even though its not what the youngs would call hip. Or cool. Or whatever the term is now. To me, it is a signal that I’m going to have an easy adjustment to a life of leisure.
On the other hand, I find myself in an EXTREMELY ANNOYED state, which is entirely consistent with my pre-retirement attitude. See that picture and caption up there? I posted them on Facebook and Instagram and no one even mentioned the hat. I’ve been saving that hat for more than a year for exactly this occasion. I admit that I got it for the impact I imagined when my coworkers saw the, so probably not meaningful to people who didn’t live and die by email. But still, you would think that it would generate a few remarks, wouldn’t you? But no.
Also, it’s gone unnoticed that the bolded title of the posting is a reference to the John Updike book Rabbit At Rest. Harry Angstrom and I are both retired to Florida and are unable to “stop nibbling corn chips, macadamia nuts and other junk food.” That’s a joke. And it’s not true, she said while eyeing the pile of pistachio shells next to the keyboard. I just thought the phase would evoke the memory of the very famous Pultizer-prize winning novel.
But it doesn’t bode well, does it, for me to be utterly and completely irritated by the fact that total strangers (for the most part) who cannot read my body language or see my facial expressions would not immediately get the admittedly obscure references that are so clear to me in my head. It might be a sign that the road to retirement contentment is going to be rocky.
But I forge ahead. Now that I’m no longer a High Powered Executive Business Woman, I feel like it would be appropriate for me to be doing something kitchen-y. One of my Ponderosa lemons is ready to be plucked, but I’m a little afraid of it. Not sure I can face even a thin slice of it’s reported “extreme tartness” floating on top of a cup of tea or perhaps a tankard of gin, so I do have a plan to make Lemon Marmalade out of it.
Wrinkle in the plan: I have never made marmalade before. So rather than taking a chance on ruining my lovely giant lemon which took about 8 months to mature, I’m going to make some sacrificial Grapefruit Vermouth Marmalade as a practice run. I just saw the recipe on the webs this week so it seems predestined, especially since I had the ingredients on hand. Those of you who know me in real life know that I am married to Mr. Sweet Rob Roy and we positively swim in sweet vermouth around here so all I needed to buy was 4 grapefruit. And some sugar.
Our first house in West Orange NJ was inside of the eruv set up for the Jewish community. There were 3 synagogues in our area plus a mikvah. Even near our next home in Aberdeen there were also 3 synagogues within walking distance. Aberdeen was a newer community and more sprawling than West Orange, so the visible rhythm of Jewish life and holidays was less visible to me. But in both locations, you could always spot the Sukkoth tents set up on patios and decks, peeping up over the fences.
They came in all styles from stylish and elegant simplicity to happy jumbles where family members of all ages participated in the assembly and decorating. Mostly I glimpsed 2 basic types: aluminum frames with canvas walls and bamboo pole roofs, decorated with pretty bundles of palm branches and real citrons or all wood DIY projects made of lattice panels and whatever local branches were around with garlands of plastic lemons from Michael’s plus a few empty Real Lemon dispensers thrown in for good measure.
I miss that here in Florida. I think that the Jews must be way down south because they sure aren’t here in Ferdnandina Beach. Not that I can see anyway. I’m going to make it a point to drive around this year and look for Sukkoth tents. It would be so great if Google maps did their droning during this time of year and we can all see how charming they are from a bird’s eye view.
Anyway the reason I’m thinking about this now is that I’m growing a new lemon tree. It was a Mother’s Day gift from my daughter – a Ponderosa Lemon tree. Apparently its a hybrid of a lemon and a citron and the fruit gets YUGE – they average 2 to 4 pounds each, plus they’re ugly and lumpy and are described as having an “extra tart” taste”. So, triple threat. I got a little scared when I read one nursery plant site that said “Imagine how many pitchers of lemonade you can make from just one of these fruits!” Yes, imagine it.
I took a picture of the biggest fruit this morning – the visual doesn’t really translate here but its the best I could do. Right now, this one is as big as a really big naval orange.
So anyway, citrons. Sukkoth. I kind of miss it.
Disclaimer #1: I’m not Jewish, I’m not related to anyone who is Jewish and whatever I know about being Jewish is stuff I picked up just because I lived in NYC and northern NJ where there are a lot of Jews.
Disclaimer #2: I think I actually might be Jewish but that is unconfirmed, based only on my inner feeling and a smidgen of geopolitical knowledge*. I can’t get anyone I know to engage with me about this so it remains unconfirmed.
*Because my Lithuanian ancestors were from that part of the word that was ping-ponged back and forth between Lithuania, Poland and Russia. Before WWII, the town they came from had one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe. I can see how a dirt poor desperate man with no options and a pack of starving children might convert for a bag of potatoes. Which would be the bigger moral failing – renouncing your faith or allowing your children to starve when you could have taken a path that would feed them? I don’t mean that disrespectfully. I mean that kind of desperation is unknown to me and so I honor either choice. Also, my family name literally translates to Son of Jacob. So you tell me.