The laundry was never dry coming out of the dryer. No matter how long I set it to dry, no matter how many times I put it through, it was never fully dry.
“What’s wrong with this *&%$#@ thing?” My husband had no better idea than I. We took turns messing with the settings, adjusting the temperature and even turned off the moisture sensor altogether, a feature that’s supposed to be energy saving. Not when we had to run them for three hours just to get them close to dry.
Even more bewildering was the fact that it was the newest machine on the market. For twelve hundred dollars, shouldn’t it be able to fly to Mars and back?
The matching front-loading washer wasn’t much better. Its seven wash presets, including permanent press (what does that even mean?), delicates, hand wash (how is this different from delicates?), sanitary, soaking, cotton (when? why?) along with its extra settings of quick wash – extra, only confused this regular-, occasionally delicate-, wash gal. Since I had recently married after fifteen years of being single, I used the heavy cycle for my husband’s coveralls when he worked in the oilfields.
There was also the problem of being able to add only a limited amount of detergent and fabric softener – that which could fit into the tiny containers. I liked using extra detergent for the dirt and oil-soaked coveralls and always more of the fresh-scented softener for every load. I no longer had that choice. Getting in a second rinse on this new-fangled machine was, as far as I could tell, now impossible.
When we moved to a new place a year later, the owner said he didn’t need the working washer and dryer, but he’d remove them anyway since they were old.
“No, don’t! We’ll take them.” We sold our new set and were delighted with the old set at our new place. They were still working when we moved again three years later. Since we had to leave them behind, we went out and purchased the least expensive washer and dryer we could find.
That was five years ago, and the washer’s three settings are still doing just fine, allowing me to put as much detergent and softener in as I want. I second-rinse, third- rinse and rinse each load as often as I want. And the dryer gets the job done in a shorter amount of time than I ever remember any other dryer before.
Maybe we are just too old and cranky for these new-fangled, technologically-advanced machines. Simple and cheap might go along with old and cranky, but it’s ok by us. We have dry, clean, sweet-smelling clothes and that makes us just a little less grouchy. We’ll take the old-fangled contraptions any day!
Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards. ~ Aldous Huxley
I remember my grandmother’s expression from time to time as we sat chatting. A corner of her mouth slightly turned upward as she looked straight ahead, in thought. Her expression said, “I wonder what it would be like to reach that younger mind that knows it all yet knows nothing at all. Nonetheless, I still love her.”
I remember my mother’s stiff upper lip, lips pursed, staring upward, spurned. Her expression said she was angry and felt snubbed by her oldest daughter’s disdain for her wisdom. “As much as it hurts, I still love her.”
I remember my dad’s slight chuckle as he glanced down shaking his head. A little smile let me know that, even though he knew I didn’t know what I was talking about, he still loved me.
And now, I feel my grandmother’s expression, corner of my mouth turned upward as I hear my own children and grandchildren at times.
I feel my mother’s expression. Trying to not feel spurned, I still stare upward sometimes, stiff upper lip.
I feel my dad’s insight. Shaking my head, I try to smile, maybe even chuckle, because I want them to know I still love them.[Top]
Dear Julie Andrews,
Here are a few of my favorite things:
A hot cup of green tea on a cold afternoon
And a hot cup of chamomile to
Soothe a queasy tummy just before bed –
Both with a spoonful of honey
Instead of spoonful of sugar,
Thank you, Mary Poppins.
New spring sunlit warmth
Penetrating chilly gusts from winter
Demanding we not forget her;
And autumn’s crisp cool breezes
Interrupting the hot summer sun
Who begs us to remember him.
Citrusy scents wafting throughout my kitchen
As just-picked oranges and lemons are crushed
To delight our taste buds and immune systems;
Newborn babies fresh with life so pristine we had forgotten;
Snug blankets and throws all over the house so cozy,
Even my kitty and pup nestle in them.
Memories of my children growing up –
Daughter in her blue velvet and white eyelet princess dress;
Then her Madonna phase with sunglasses, hair bow,
Dancing and singing transforming her before my eyes;
Son’s giant white curls dashing around the yard, so fast,
Then his handsome stature blurred the moments in between.
Remembering my dad’s sweetness seeping out
Through dementia that only thought it could destroy;
Grandpa’s gritty warnings of bears as
We set out for the river with cousins and uncles;
And the river, oh, the river, that soothed me,
I still float, weightless, in the river’s arms today, forever.
Keith and I are celebrating nine years together next month. Right after we met, Keith told me he’s just a simple man.
I learned in time what he meant by “simple.” He’s down-to-earth, easy to get along with and can get by minimally in the way of materialism, food, etc. Just let him have a beer on the weekend and go fishing from time to time, and he’s a happy camper. He’ll eat anything I make – good or bad – and he won’t hear me criticize myself on the occasion a meal doesn’t turn out as planned.
He’s blue collar, a truck driver, and I’ve worked in administrative roles my whole life. I’ve learned, though, that his street wisdom trumps my brainy logic any day of the week. Even though Keith is a quiet man, he’s also a verbal lover. Shakespeare said, “Men of few words are the best men,” but the words Keith does utter are showering me with adoration. Keith is not only warm hearted, he is physically warm. Keith’s touch brings a warmth and calming that feels healing. He also loves his hummingbird feeders and rejoices at the first sight of one.
We love our weekends together because we grill our dinners outdoors. We put everything on the grill; squash, potatoes, steaks, chicken, tri-tip, stuffed pork chops and he’s delighted when his creations melt in our mouths. He makes grilling his own personal party, playing his blues and swaying to the crooning. One of his favorites, Stevie Ray Vaughan, was playing at this writing, “Tin Pan Alley.” Neighbors at the few places we’ve lived since being married comment on his good music, hollering for him to turn it up as they turn theirs down.
His love for music includes Leonard Skynard who sings a song perfectly describing Keith – appropriately titled, “Simple Man.” Keith was very close to his mom and reminisces about their talks over coffee at her dining room table. I didn’t meet her, but I’ve heard from others at the church we used to attend in common that she was a sweet and kind-hearted woman. The apple doesn’t fall from the tree. Lyrics begin,
Mama told me when I was young
“Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say
And if you do this it’ll help you some sunny day”
Having a strong background in faith was one reason Keith “winked” at me on Match.com leading to our meeting.
“Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
You’ll find a woman and you’ll find love
And don’t forget, son, there is someone up above”
If we’re trying to decide between more than one brand when shopping for something, anything from mayonnaise to furniture, he’ll invariably choose the least expensive. He takes cookies with him on his road trips as a trucker. If I’m shopping, he instructs the Chips Ahoy must be the original. “Not the chewy ones?” I ask. “No, the original in the blue package.” I shake my head as I see the different varieties – the fudge-filled ones or those with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in them. “Who would want the plain, hard ones?” My simple man.
“Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied”
Something that intrigues me about Keith is when he’s angry, he doesn’t lash out or react in anger. He goes outside for a while and dwells upon things. I know because of the changed demeanor when he comes back inside. If he was angry with me, he’ll tell me he loves me. I finally realized that, after reflecting on the matter for a while, he concludes to himself what’s important.
“Boy, don’t you worry, you’ll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied”
In our nine years together, we’ve had some trying times; illnesses, unemployment and the usual unexpected curve balls that life periodically throws. “Everything’s gonna be OK,” he comforts me once again.
“And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”
Oh yes, I will
The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves. ~ Alan Watts[Top]
Tarah was born to two loving parents and a brother five years older named Melvin. Tarah was a beautiful baby and little girl. In time, though, her parents noticed some behavior problems. Unlike her well-behaved brother, Tarah was more rambunctious, moody and sometimes destructive. Her parents bought her a bedroom set painted white with a vinyl-cushioned headboard on the bed. One night, Tarah got ahold of an ink pen and poked holes all over the vinyl headboard. Her parents were flustered. Gradually, Tarah became more of a disappointment to her mom who confided that she wished she had stopped at Melvin.
In early grade school, Tarah’s teachers administered routine State exams and discovered that she was gifted. She was considered a “Mentally Gifted Minor” (MGM) and her parents were told that her “gifting” required that certain care be given her to prevent a sense of isolation and feeling misunderstood. Later, when Tarah was a young teen, her mother found several empty bottles of alcohol under her bed. Tarah was an alcoholic and her mom confessed regret at not heeding the teachers’ instruction that Tarah be given the proper nurturance needed as a youngster. The family struggled through turbulent times to help her. She grew, however, into a beautiful woman, married and had two beautiful daughters, fighting alcoholism the entire time. It finally triumphed, and she died at an early age due to an alcohol-induced accident.
Adele was the first born with a brother to follow two years later. She, too, exhibited mood and behavioral problems throughout her life. She was also bright and beautiful. Even though Adele was the “apple of her grandparents’ eyes,” she was strong-willed, independent from an early age and mouthy to her parents. In middle school, Adele refused to go to school. She couldn’t explain her reasons, but her mom suspected she was being bullied for being so tall.
Adele’s grandmother was living with the family. Out of deep concern and love for Adele, her mother and grandmother began affirming her, showering her with love and encouragement. They explained how her beauty and height brought her much attention, sometimes unwanted and unkind. They let her know that people do these things that have nothing to do with her but are from their own internal insecurities. It wasn’t long before Adele decided she would go back to school. Once she did, she rose in popularity and grew into a well-adjusted, healthy woman with a beautiful family of her own.
Stephanie S. Tolan says in her article, “The first act of honoring the self is the assertion of consciousness: the choice to think, to be aware, to send the searchlight of consciousness outward toward the world and inward toward our own being. To default on this effort is to default on the self at the most basic level.” As parents, it’s our job to assist our children with this very thing. Otherwise, we default on them at their most basic level.[Top]