Politics and Funerals

On Sunday Studly Doright and I drove south for about three hours to attend a Celebration of Life service for a man I’d never met, and who Studly only knew superficially through business contacts. We went more to support friends who’d known the man well than for any other reason.

The service was held at Silver Springs State Park near Ocala. I’d visited the park a decade or more ago and it’s lovelier than I remembered. When we entered the park a family member of the deceased directed us down a winding path to a rustic pagoda with raised seating and a view of cypress trees rising out of the swamp. The October sun filtering through the surrounding foliage created the most perfect spot on earth that day. We found our friends and sat together as the service began.

From the photos around the pagoda one quickly surmised that the man being honored had been rather remarkable. There were photos of him at the summits of several major peaks including the Matterhorn. He’d also been a deep sea diver and an astronomer. I wished I’d had the opportunity to have met him.

Then one of the pastors officiating the service spoke about the deceased saying he’d disliked Democrats and hated lawyers, and that if the man could speak from the grave he’d tell us to never vote for a Democrat. A smattering of laughter accompanied by a few groans resulted from his statement. I looked at Studly and he put his hand on my arm, most likely to keep me from saying something I’d regret. I’m no idiot, but I must say words bubbled in my mind.

The second pastor then went on to tell us how the deceased had loved the environment and sought God in all the faces of nature. But he’d hated Democrats and lawyers. Now, I’d say the dearly departed thought he was looking for God, but quite honestly never really cared about the meaning of God.

Listen, when I die, I don’t want any mention of politics. Such talk doesn’t belong at a funeral. I wouldn’t mind being eulogized in the sacred forest of Silver Springs State Park, though. Surely the trees will cleanse the air of any negativity.

Peace, people

OLLI and a Fabulous Ant Fact

Did you know that in some species of ants, the queen can live to the ripe old age of 30? Workers of those same species live about seven years. It’s good to be queen.

I enjoyed the OLLI class, The Parallel Universe of Ants, yesterday. We learned a bit about ant anatomy and the social structures of colonies, but I’m incredibly thankful there’ll be no tests. Some of this stuff is way over my head.

It figures that in a college town that many in the class would be retired educators. The level of questions asked by my classmates was impressive. Before our next session I’m going to do some heavy duty reading.

The instructor for my class authored this book:

Pretty cool, eh?

I wrote this joke:

What do you call an ant who’s good with numbers? An accountant.

Peace, people.

Venturing into the Unknown

Doright Manor is situated on a small lake in a rural housing development about eight miles outside of Tallahassee, Florida. I live in the woods, and I love it. Studly Doright, my husband of 43 years, and I often joke that there are more trees in our front yard than there were in our respective Texas panhandle hometowns of Dumas and Floydada. Honestly, that’s not much of an exaggeration.

One of the coolest things about living here is our proximity to Florida State University. A 20-minute drive gets us right into the heart of the campus. Of course being the curmudgeonly people we are, we avoid FSU like the plague. If I have an appointment anywhere near the school I plot routes that will avoid busy Tennessee street with its six narrow lanes of crazy college aged drivers, even if taking said route requires me to add an additional 20 minutes to my drive. Today, however, I am purposely venturing onto the FSU campus for OLLI.

One might ask, “Who is OLLI and why is he/she worth risking one’s life for?”

OLLI is an acronym for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. According to Wikipedia, “Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes offer noncredit courses with no assignments or grades to “seasoned” adults over age 50. Since 2001, philanthropist Bernard Osher has made grants from his foundation to launch OLLI programs at 120 universities and colleges in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

I’ve been aware of OLLI classes for at least a decade. When we lived near the University of Illinois I had friends who took classes through the program there, but I was still working full time. Now that I’m mostly retired I no longer have any excuses. Except–the anxiety of venturing into the unfamiliar territory of Florida State.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I performed a dry run to locate the building in which my first class will be held, even though I initially went to a similarly named building. And, even after locating the right one I never quite figured out where I’d be able to park. Guess who will give herself an hour of extra time to get there today?

You might also wonder what class has intrigued me enough that I am willing to venture out of my comfort zone. It’s one titled “The Parallel Universe of Ants.”

Studly Doright thinks I’ve lost my mind, but who do you think will have the last laugh when our insect friends begin their quest for world domination? Again:

If you don’t hear from me again after today you can blame it all on OLLI, or ants, or you can just make something up that’s suitably dramatic.

Peace, people!

A Splice of Life

I spliced the scenes together

The early days of flickering frames in shades of black and white,

Three channels and Walter Cronkite’s signature sign-off, “And that’s the way it is.”

We begged for a color tv, if only for the Rose Bowl parade broadcast, but

I’d outgrown the delight of floats bedecked with hundreds of thousands of flowers by the time

The old RCA was replaced by a bigger, shinier new Zenith. Bonanza in color and Little Joe in

My dreams. Yeehaw.

(I owe the idea for this one, in part, to my friend LA at Waking Up on the Wrong Side of 50.:


A Nice Wine Makes it Right

I want to be happier than I was yesterday, but not quite as happy as I’ll be tomorrow

Like that old saying I heard somewhere when I was much younger and had better retention

Only, it had more to do with love than happiness, and while the two are closely related

They can be mutually exclusive. I’ve been happy without being in love and in love without being happy

Damn. Is that as deep as I think it is, or is that just the Cabernet Sauvignon talking?

Rosa’s Wedding

Yesterday I wrote about my friend, Rosa’s wedding. Except it was more about me than Rosa and her wedding. Typical, right? Am I a narcissist or just very narrow in my scope of observational abilities. Let’s see if I can do better today.

Rosa is one of the kindest, loveliest people I’ve ever known. She stands all of five feet tall and her smile is like sunshine. Not the glaring sunshine of a summer day in Florida, but that of a warm autumn afternoon when the very quality of light makes one glad to be alive.

When Rosa told me about her impending nuptials I was kind of surprised. For one thing, I thought she was already married. She and her domestic partner of many years, Esteban, have three beautiful children together. Rosa is a devout woman, as well, so the old fashioned Puritan in me was shocked even as the free spirited hippie in me thought, “right on!”

For the ceremony Rosa wore a beautiful, traditional white satin gown with a fitted bodice adorned with lace and embroidered with seed pearls. She was radiant.

Since the ceremony was in Spanish, there was a good deal I didn’t understand, but I believe the priest asked the couple how long they’d been together and why they’d decided to marry after all these years. I’ll have to ask Rosa to be certain, though. I was struck by the personal nature of the priest’s interaction with the couple. It was almost as if the rest of us weren’t there at all. This was no dog and pony show, but an intimate joining of two people.

Well, as intimate as it could be in a church filled to the brim with families with small children. This wasn’t a quiet affair, but one in which the vows were woven in and around a great deal of exuberance and movement.

After the couple was officially wed, the priest led them down the aisle and back up again to joyful music. And the music! Oh my goodness! I knew none of the songs, but they were played with gusto by a mariachi-style band. I had to look to make sure it wasn’t a recording, but there were real live people behind me making music.

Once they were back at the altar the photographer stepped up to take pictures. Of everyone. There were a few standard married couple and wedding party types of photos, but after those were done regular members of the assembled audience stepped forward for photos with Rosa and Esteban. I snapped a few on my phone and said “hi” to a couple of people I knew before heading to my car. Before I made it to the car, though, Rosa’s eldest daughter caught up to me and said Rosa wanted me in one of the pictures. That was pretty sweet. I wish I’d thought to have someone snap the picture on my phone, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

There’s lovely Rosa on the far right. Beautiful bride, beautiful church, beautiful day.

Peace, people!

Forgive Me, Father, for I Have Goofed

My housekeeper, Rosa, and her long time beau tied the knot this weekend. She’d invited Studly Doright and me to the ceremony, but of course he couldn’t miss his golf game, so I attended solo. I was excited to be on the guest list, and to dress up for the occasion. After Studly left for golf, I began the process of getting myself prettified even though the event was several hours in the future.

The only hiccup in the getting dressed category was putting on my hosiery. It’s been ages since I wore hose and I ripped three pair before I finally got a pair on correctly. There were words said that I haven’t used since the last time I had to wear hose. They were not nice words. I was somewhat mollified by my appearance in the mirror once I had my dress and heels on. Not bad for a newly-turned 63-year-old.

I had the invitation to the wedding in my car, and entered the address in my gps. Thank goodness for high school Spanish, and that the street and town names were in English. I left for Quincy, Florida, with plenty of time to spare. I followed the gps instructions through Quincy and down several back roads to a house in the country. It certainly didn’t look like the church Rosa had told me about, but there was a spot set aside for parking. No cars were there, though. Hmmm.

I read over the invitation again more carefully, and realized immediately what I’d done. The church name, St. Thomas, was listed but with no address. The reception site; however, had an address and that’s where I’d gone. Just like that, my ample time disappeared. I entered an address for the church after a quick google search and drove back to Quincy at the fastest speed I thought I could get away with. The gps said I’d be five minutes late. I said, “Challenge accepted.”

The route took me back through Quincy where I managed to make it to St. Thomas’s with only one stop for a red light. I was just three minutes late. Take that, gps! Still, I was late, so I entered quietly through a side door. The ceremony was well underway, so I took a seat towards the back of the sanctuary.

Now, I’m not Catholic, but I earned my degree from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, and I have attended mass dozens of times throughout the years. Some of my favorite people are Catholic including my mother-in-law, and my youngest sister-in-law, and her significant other. I’ve even spent a lovely weekend at a Catholic retreat. I know how to behave in mass…when it’s celebrated in English. Not so much in Spanish.

I followed the leads of those near me so I’d know when to stand, sit, and kneel. I tried to catch the words to the responses, but without luck. Finally the ushers approached with the offertory baskets. “Aha!” I thought. “I know how to handle this.”

I fished out some folding money and was putting it in the basket when I realized there were some small gifts in there. Hmm. Maybe I was supposed to put my card and gift for the couple in the basket. I did just that and then was startled to see it being taken directly to the priest who blessed it and set it aside behind the altar.

Remember some of the words I said while destroying my pantyhose? It’s a really good thing I’d gotten those out of my system before the priest blessed that gift. They wouldn’t have been appropriate in church.

As soon as the couple was pronounced husband and beautiful wife and all of the kissing of the bride and taking of pictures had occurred, I tracked down the priest, who surprisingly spoke English with a lovely Irish accent. I explained about my mistake, and he promised to get my gift to Rosa and her husband. I think he was fairly certain that I wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box, but he seemed like a good sort who’d make sure the newlyweds ended up with the blessed gift. And isn’t that really what matters?

Peace, people!

Old is Relative

My youngest granddaughter has for several years done this hilarious impression of me in which the only words uttered in her shaky approximation of an elderly woman are, “I’m a little old lady.”

She also does impressions of her dad and her Poppa (aka Studly Doright) in which one says, “Hey man, you want a beard?” And the other answers, “No man. I’ve already got a beard.”

By “beard” she means “beer” and that cracks me up. I feel very lucky and loved to be portrayed as a little old lady.

Today, I’m 63 for real. A true little old lady.

Peace, people.


Today I’ve been very antsy. I can’t keep my mind on the book I’m reading (Testament by Margaret Atwood), my attention to details is more lacking than usual, and I’m constantly in search of a snack. If I didn’t know better I’d think I was pregnant. There’s absolutely no chance of that, by the way. I’ll be 63 tomorrow and I kicked my uterus to the curb at least a decade ago.

Maybe my impending birthday has me unsettled. Sixty-three is nothing to sneeze at, after all, especially if one has bladder control issues. Not naming names, but I have intimate knowledge of people who suffer.

Remembering birthdays past, the day I turned 12 my great-grandfather died. Mom picked me up from school and imparted the sad news as we walked from the school to her car. She apologized that my birthday party would need to be postponed since the funeral would be held on the day we’d planned to have friends over.

I remember being bummed, but I think I handled it okay. At least I don’t remember stomping off in a rage. I wasn’t always the most reasonable child, and I was undeniably unsettled on that day, too.

Fast forward to 2019, Studly Doright and I don’t have any birthday themed plans for this weekend. Tomorrow he’s playing golf, while I attend a wedding. I’m looking forward to dressing up and witnessing a celebration of the joining of two lives. We’ve moved so often that we haven’t formed those kinds of relationships–the ones where we are invited to weddings and graduations, baby showers and engagement parties. So I’m going to enjoy every minute of inclusion in the couple’s celebration.

Is there a purpose to today’s post? Not as far as I can tell, other than writing it kept me from eating a second Lara bar. I might not be pregnant, but I seem to be eating for two.

Peace, people.