About Me

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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

On the way

to the next phase, whatever it turns out to be. Right now, we are heading for a few weeks in a warm climate, to get my aching joints and frozen fingers out of the worst of the winter, a season which, even though it has not really set in yet in the Mid-Ohio Valley, has been making its presence felt. Today's temperatures were supposedly hovering around 40, but with a low, grey sky, light but noticeable winds, and periodic cold drizzle, it was definitely winter. We are hoping for better weather ahead (both literal and metaphorical).

Today's preliminary leg of the trip was more of an adventure than planned. Having lost our original ride to the airport, we decided to try the regional bus service, which a number of friends have used successfully and which is quite reasonably priced. Our wonderful house-sitter dropped us off at the pickup point, our local K-Mart, and was sent on her way with hugs and wishes for the new year. The appointed hour came: no bus, and we and the other waiting passenger were getting cold. So I did what any self-respecting consumer would do: call the number listed on our boarding passes. The office was closed. Annoyance ensued. Luckily, the other passenger had a smartphone and was able to track down an emergency number, which is not to be used for schedule information, as the young woman with the yapping dog on the other end informed us. However, I used my best angry-schoolteacher voice and informed her that we had looked up the travel delays, our route was not the one listed, and we needed to know what had happened to our bus. As it turns out, the route number changes once the bus arrives in Marietta, so the bus with the flat tire was indeed ours. The estimate was that the bus would arrive within the hour. As the situation developed further, the bus had not only a flat tire but a damaged suspension from said flat, so a new bus was summoned, and our 10:25 ride arrived at 2:10.

While we were not amused, there are worse things than being stranded next to a McDonald's, where hot coffee and foodlike substances can be found. A few years back, friends traveling from Eastern Europe and needing a visa to get into Canada for part of their trip had to wait at a consulate with no access to food or water for something like six hours. (We had always thought our northern neighbors more civilized than that.)

Only a few hours late, we have arrived at our hotel, enjoyed a better-than-McDonald's dinner, checked in for our flight online, and are waiting for the next phase of the adventure to begin.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Another turning

What a week this has been. Solstices are times of transition, but this one has brought more changes than the annual turning of the year.

Most significantly, the 97-year-old aunt of my late first husband, whom many of us had long joked was likely to outlive us all, didn't. After a short, sharp decline of only a few days, she passed shortly after midnight on December 20, a few hours shy of the actual moment of the year's turning. This accomplished and determined woman, who had made many friends in her long and well-lived life, was visited by more than a dozen of them in her last two days, including the (fortunately small) brass band that played Christmas carols in her apartment the evening before she died. Quite a sendoff. (When the fire alarm went off a few hours later, the other friend watching with her and I suspected that the next world was being duly warned that Aunt Pat was on her way.)

In a totally different mood, I received quite a sendoff from my place of employment. In addition to the official retirement reception hosted by wonderful coworkers for the three of us departing the college at the same time, the student organizations with which I have worked most closely over the years threw a surprise party on the last night of the semester. "Gobsmacked" is the most accurate description of my reaction to that event, especially upon learning that the students have petitioned the college's governing board to name the pollinator habitat in my honor. This is a generous and hardworking group of young people (with a sprinkling of the not-quite-so-young in the mix).

So, for the first time in nearly forty years, life holds no regular work schedule and no caregiving responsibilities for any humans. Definitely a turning toward a new phase, one that is still a mystery.

One thing, however, is definite: early on the morning of January 1, the spouse and I depart for six weeks on the Yucatan Peninsula, where we hope to see unfamiliar plants and animals, wander around a 500-year-old city, climb at least one Mayan ruin, and (perhaps) learn to snorkel. After that, who knows what changes there will be?

Monday, December 12, 2016

A slow fall

It has been a long time between posts, what with the winding down of my thirty-year teaching career, the slowing down of my mind and body (which should not have happened this early), and the gradual decline of a family member drawing close to her hundredth year on this planet. While being less observant than usual, I did manage to notice that we had an amazing fall, after a summer so dry that many of us feared that our always-anticipated autumn gorgeousness would skip us this year.

Fall got off to a slow start, with early October still mostly green,

and the second week of November found the color in our local park not much past peak.

(Yes, leaf-strewn paths are a favorite thing.) It was only last week, as final exams ended, that I noticed that the trees were finally bare, and the sycamore bark was doing its winter thing of catching all the available light, dazzling us until the leaves start to bud again in a few months.

There is probably a metaphor there (as is generally the case when English majors ponder The Meaning of Things). At twenty, life seemed a race to get somewhere as soon as possible because, if one waited too late (twenty-nine or so), life was a long, sad slog to the end. Anything important had to be done early because a passionate life seemed possible only for a very limited number of years. The English Romantics, subject of much of my early academic training, were mostly done by the time they were thirty-five (and several were actually dead, or nearly so), so living into old age was not a particularly attractive prospect. Yet, forty years on, here I am.

Trees are perhaps wiser than humans. They keep doing what they do, and every stage is lovely.