I Might Have Been a Hippie

I might have been a hippie

If I’d ever had the chance.

I might have joined a commune

And learned to Sufi dance.

I might have found Nirvana

By intoning yogi chants.

But I missed the 1960s;

I never got a glance.

——————————————————-

I was a stay-at-home mom in the 60s. Part of that time I lived on a farm, 12 miles from the nearest town and no neighbors that we knew. That does not seem like “isolation” now, when I start up the car and drive 8 miles to church or 15 miles to the doctor, or make a 54-mile round trip to attend a friend’s birthday party. But back then, I did not have my driver’s license yet, and we did not have a TV. All I knew about what was going on in the world was what I heard over the radio.

I listened to the Beatles singing “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” while I cooked supper with a baby on my hip. I even sang along, “…I can’t hide…I can’t h-i-i-de!” And my son asked me quite innocently, “Why can’t you hide?” ūüėČ

It was in that kitchen that I heard the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. I had cast my first vote for him in the 1960 election, and I was stunned. I was not really a Democrat back then–I just preferred him to the other candidate.

I read Ayn Rand in the 60s, as well as the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads–a strange juxtaposition. Both philosophies have stayed with me, and now the “Atlas Shrugged” movies are finally being made and shown.

Rand’s philosophy energizes my self-respect and willingness to do what I have to, and what I love. The Hindu philosophy fills in the gaps that Rand does not care about: where I came from and where I will go when I die. She also¬†did ¬†not believe that any of us were “put here” for a specific purpose, whether our own choice or God’s. It is up to each of us to make the most of our lives while we are alive. So, I have what I¬†think¬†is a logical belief that I am here because I am necessary. My influence will remain in the memory and DNA of those whom I have left behind, and my energy will become part of something else.

I have wondered a lot of late, whether it is better to embrace religion or to cast it aside as magic and superstition. Whatever the “truth” is, or whether it is even relevant, I know that when I die, I will either find out that there is an afterlife, or else I won’t be around to care. Either way, I have come to believe that it is better to leave this life holding someone’s hand, either a loved one’s, or an angel’s.

But I digress… Sure, back in the late 50s, I drank too much sometimes (but didn’t smoke any pot) and could have gotten into a lot of trouble if I had not married a good, responsible man, had several children, and left any possibility of a career undeveloped for 18 years. It seems that I always had to stand on the brink of disaster, or have a door slammed in my face, before I realized that I had to start off in a new direction. And the new door always opened as soon as I accepted the opportunity.

I finally became a hippie in the 1980s, just long enough to open up my creative writing, singing, and healing abilities. I also traveled a lot, went to retreats, met some fascinating people, and had a lot of fun before I went back to school and learned some marketable skills.

And yes, I even smoked pot a couple of times. (I didn’t like it.)

OLD CARS and RADIOS

My Chevy Malibu LS is 7 years old.¬† Every year I get letters from the GM dealer telling me that my car is in demand as a used/pre-owned vehicle, and I am offered a pretty good trade-in deal. But I don’t want to sell my Malibu.

My Malibu
My First New Car

It is the first (and probably only) brand new car I have ever purchased on my own, and I researched it thoroughly before I decided on it. For the first 3 years, I drove it in my work as a Home Health therapist, and put almost 70,000 miles on it.¬† But since I retired, I have driven it only where I needed to go–about 3,000 miles a YEAR. I fill the gas tank once every 4-6 weeks, and it gets an oil change once a year, whether it needs it or not. And the tires I bought last year, the 3rd new set, may last as long as I do.
When you keep a car that long, because it runs well and you feel comfortable and safe driving it,¬†you get to know it pretty well. You don’t mind that for several years you’ve had to jiggle the stick shift a bit in “Park” so that the key can removed easily in the 12-o’clock position. You do mind explaining it to anyone who drives it, inspects it, or works on it, because sometimes they forget or don’t think it’s important. And why is it important? Because it may not turn off completely, and the battery will discharge.

I’ve had the AC/heating panel replaced twice, and the AC connecting hoses replaced once. The AC still does not blast cold air in my face on max setting, but I have finally learned how to work with it to get the best from it. (I almost have to talk to it!)

Today I was waiting in a local shop for my state inspection to be done–and yes, I told them about the gearshift. The store was loaded with the newest electronic equipment for sale, and a man who was also waiting started telling me that he had an old truck that still ran well, but the radio was so old that it still had knobs instead of buttons, and it had a cassette deck instead of a CD player.

“It’s a good radio, but I have to fiddle with the tuning knob to make it work. I don’t want to sell my truck, but I can’t find anybody who can fix a radio. They only want to sell me a new one.”

“You need to find an old guy who remembers how to fix that kind of radio, ” I said. ” I don’t think these new ones can be repaired–just replaced.”
Sure enough, the clerk told the man that they did not do any radio repair work, but he thought there was a [certain] place in the next town that might do it.

Well, the registration and inspection stickers are current for another year now. I have the mandatory new license plates for a 7-year-old car affixed. And my driver’s license is still good until 2015. So I can legally drive until my car is 8 years old next year.

Fortunately for us older folks, they still fix people–but I don’t know for how much longer.

Life in a Trailer

When my family left PA in 1947 to move south, we lived in a 28-ft. trailer for 4 or 5 years. It did not have a toilet, much less a shower. And we had a propane stove and heater. We also had an icebox; the melting ice dripped through a piece of hose onto the ground. I remember how my mother almost fainted one day when she opened the icebox and found the ham she had baked the day before covered with black ants! They had found a way to climb up the drain hose! (I don’t know exactly how my dad fixed it, but that never happened again.)
Anyway, people who lived in trailers back then had to live in a camp or park where there was a common bath house with toilets. We were delighted when we were able to move to a new park that had small bathrooms with a shower (a concrete block building) on each lot! What a luxury! But before that, I remember most of the time I washed myself (and my hair on Saturdays) in front of the kitchen sink. We must have used the showers sometime, but for some reason I don’t recall going there myself.

When I was 13 we moved to New Mexico, and after a few months, we sold the trailer and moved into a small, furnished rented house, where we had 2 main rooms. My parents’ bed was on one side of the living room, a couch and chair on the other side, and my first piano on the partition wall. I slept on an army cot in a corner of the kitchen and there was a closet on one wall with a mirror over a chest of drawers, and a clothespole on each side to hang my clothes.

Between the two rooms was a short hall with a bathroom on one side and a coat closet on the other. I walked to 8th grade classes from there.

By the time I was a freshman in high school, we were able to rent a nicer house that was a little closer to the high school (about a mile). Upstairs it still had only 2 rooms, but one of them was mine, and I had my piano in it! The other room was the kitchen, and Mom had a wringer washer in it. Downstairs was a huge cellar where Mom and Dad had their bedroom, curtained off from the living room. The upstairs bathroom was barely adequate, though, with a door only about 20″ wide. Across from it was the coat closet, and between them, a back door that opened onto a small covered porch.

After I went off to college, my parents started planning in earnest to move to California, which had been their destination from the beginning. They bought another mobile home, a better one, with a tiny bathroom and shower, and began to fix it up. Once it was livable, they moved to a mobile home park. In retrospect, I can see that they were only waiting for the inevitable time when I found a husband, though they never, never said that to me. As soon as I had married and had my own home, temporary as it was, it seemed like they took off like a speeding bullet, towing that trailer to CA! They lived in mobile home parks for the rest of their lives, where they always made friends and had a pretty good life.

Then, for a few weeks after I married, we lived in a tiny trailer on the State College campus. As soon as there was a vacancy, we moved to the converted barracks that served as married housing. Those were demolished a few years after we left, and now the married students live in brick homes in a nice subdivision in what is now called University Park.

Since then, we lived in a mobile home only once more– a 14’x 50′ model with 3 bedrooms–in 3 different parks, and on 2 different lots, one of which we had purchased with the intention of building a house there. We never got started, though, and finally traded the lot and mobile home for a large down payment on a new house near the high school, which the kids all attended.

I never lived in a trailer again, and neither did the kids when they grew up. I have been happy to live inside brick walls where we didn’t have to anchor the pre-fab structure to the ground every 10 ft. to make it safe in a storm. But I know that for many people, it is a necessary type of housing, for a variety of reasons. And I will never forget my experience of living in them. It is probably why I can live easily in the small space I now have.

ZZZzzz—-****Brap–brap–bra–a–a–p!

  

8:30 am: (awakened by loud radio weather alert)

‚ÄúThe United States Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for central¬†******* County until 9 am. A line of severe thunderstorms with cloud-to-ground lightning, wind gusts to 60 mph, possible nickel-sized hail, and heavy rain is moving in a southeasterly direction at 25 mph. If you are in your car, you are advised to pull over and find shelter…‚ÄĚ

Now, being retired, unless I have an early appointment, I am often getting some of my most restful sleep at 8:30 am. I usually go to sleep in the wee hours listening to an all-night radio talk show, and wake up gently to another nationally-syndicated talk show. Waking up to an urgent TORNADO WARNING in my area was an unpleasant shock!

Sure enough, there was a thunderstorm going on outside, and there had been nothing in last night’s weather forecast predicting it. What to do? Well, first I hurriedly got fully dressed, and took my morning medications. Then I phoned my daughter, who does not normally listen to the radio or tv in the morning. Reached her on the second try, and she thanked me for the warning. The wind was fierce, thunder boomed, and the rain poured. But by now, there was only about 10 minutes left on the warning, and I didn’t really think anything was going to happen. I did know that if it continued to pour down rain, even at just 2 or 3 inches in an hour, there would be flash-flooding at the usual downtown intersections, some freeway access roads, and the low-lying areas. Dirt roads would be impassable for days, and even some paved roads would be closed.

Today we were lucky. I’d had no plans to go anywhere in my car, and my daughter had not been on her way to work. But we had not been so lucky at other times. And neither had the other people waking up to trees blown down in their yards, roofs damaged, and the 9,000 left without electric power today.

Later, as the rain slowed and the wind calmed, the birds returned to my feeders in the back yard, and I wondered yet again, how do they find shelter in a thunderstorm? How do they protect themselves and the young ones in their nests? (Sometimes they don’t.)

It seems to be storm season any time of the year now. There is no time of calm, “normal” weather anymore. It is the middle of May, and next month hurricane season begins……..and yet, as I write, I can hear the birds chirping noisily in the trees outside.

This is a beautiful, but dangerous planet that we live on…….but it’s the only one we’ve got.

Wrap Your TV Remote

My small TV remote control used to slide off my lap when I stood up, or was knocked off the chair arm regularly onto the hard floor, where it almost always came apart. It didn’t damage any of the parts, but¬†having to reassemble it ¬†became so annoying that I tried to think of a way I could keep the device from coming apart, yet still not interfere with the infrared beam or my ability to press the keypad easily. I also didn’t want to make it sticky.

The first thing I tried was a Peds(TM) nylon sock liner–the kind that only covers the toes and heel. That worked all right, but partially blocked the keys. Finally a bright idea hit me! I wrapped the entire remote in a piece of thin, stretchable plastic wrap! This not only keeps the device together if it falls on the floor, but keeps it clean and dry!

tv remote ctrl

Wrap it up!
When you do need to change the batteries, the wrap can be removed easily and a new covering applied–cheaply and easily!

WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN!!???

When I was 15, I used to look at my mother and say to myself:
“When I get old¬† (mind you, she was only 41 at the time!), I will not be overweight like she is. How could I be? I have always been skinny!”
“I will certainly not comb my hair over in front and fasten it flat with a bobby pin like she does.” I thought she could look much better if she tried.
When we both got older and I’d married and had kids, somehow 25, 35, and then 40 extra lbs. had mysteriously been added to my weight. I’d lost a few teeth and had to wear a partial plate. I was still not FAT, I told myself, and I could lose it if I needed to. But I wouldn’t be caught DEAD without my partial plate, I thought. My Mom and Dad both had dentures when I was little, and they soaked in a glass of water at night. So I often saw my parents without their teeth. *Gross!* I thought. And I would certainly not get a HUMP like my mother had by then.
I would make sure¬†to “stand up straight” so that didn’t happen. I did lose those extra pounds, several times, in fact. When I was near 50, I even gave myself a makeover, started wearing more stylish and flattering clothes, and I colored my hair.
How sad, I thought then, that my mother, who was a widow by then, did not seem to care what she looked like. She never wore makeup. Her hair was short, but not styled at all, except when she got a poodle perm. And she had started wearing those shapeless long dresses that used to be called “muu-muus.” Although she visted her friends who lived near her, she didn’t care to go anywhere unless she had to.
At that time in my life, I was just beginning to LIVE! I took cross-country trips by car, train, and plane, often with a friend. I wore contact lenses for a few years.
And then it happened. I began to get OLD. My hair turned a lovely silver, which I did not want to color. My eyebrows became invisible unless I drew them with a brow pencil. I actually looked better with only muted lipstick tones and light blush than with foundation, powder, eyeshadow and mascara. I began to get stiff–more than usual–from exercise or work. The extra weight did not come off, no matter how little I ate.¬† And just before I retired, I lost my dear, kind-hearted mother, who would have loved to have me living near enough to visit much more often.
And here I am, in 2010, wearing a long, shapeless dress now called a “lounger.” My hair is short and easy to care for, though I do style it with a wave and half-bang in front. I leave my partial plates in their box if I am not going to see anyone. And I hardly ever go anywhere that I don’t have to, even though I can still drive, which my mother never learned to do.
Oddly, I almost never look in the mirror, although when I was young, I could never pass one without checking my appearance. When I do look at my reflection–and actually SEE myself–I see my mother looking back at me! How did that happen? WHEN did it happen?
I hope she sees that and laughs!

By the way, I chose to have her buried wearing her dentures. ūüėČ

Essential Features of a Disaster Movie

I spent part of last Saturday watching a disaster movie maraton on the Syfy channel. I hasten to add that I don’t normally do this, but there was nothing else to watch and I needed the sleep. After a few of these, I started noticing that there was a basic formula to disaster yarns, and certain characters almost always populate them.

disaster movie covers
Five recent disaster movies

1. A main character (usually female) has a brilliant father whose theory was rejected by the scientific community. The line is: “Something my father was working on.”

2. A young couple whose relationship is strained by her desire to have him escape with her to safety, against his need to respond to the call of duty. She is usually pregnant and may not have told him yet.

3. A hotshot pilot who either drinks or has a reputation for disobeying orders, but can fly anything.

4. Two brilliant scientists or doctors who used to work together, were married, now divorced, but must work together again (to save the world.)

5. A stubborn general or high official who refuses to believe that the disaster is going to happen.

6. A character who once made a bad mistake that cost the life of someone close to a main character. He begs for a chance to redeem himself. He may sacrifice his life saving others.

7. The President of the United States, usually a heroically brave, caring character, who does not run to safety until forced to.

8. A kid who gets lost/separated from his family, found at the end.

9. Sometimes one or two teenaged computer geeks who can do what the professionals can’t, or who are the first to discover what is about to happen.

10. Often there is a Russian Commander who is either a beautiful, but coldly dedicated woman, or a man who is ex-KGB, and suspicious of US motives.

11. Last, but not least, the evil CEO who hides the truth about his billion-dollar project that has set off the disaster because he will lose all that money and power. He is either killed by the results of his experimentation, or incarcerated for the rest of his life.

Did I leave out anybody??