Sunday, December 31, 2017

Plans? What plans?

This morning I picked up my friend Ellen to go to church. I have been to St. Francis in the Foothills Church at least 20 times and I know the way.

Once, last month, I missed the Alvernon offramp and stayed on Interstate 10 about four miles too long. It took me an extra 20 minutes to get to the church. All we missed was "the hugging part at the beginning."

Today I took the Alvernon offramp but missed the left turn at Swan. By the time I noticed, I was 20 minutes from the church. Ellen and I decided to go out for breakfast instead.

I have a pretty good sense of direction and I am an excellent navigator, but if I am involved in a significant conversation I can get distracted. That is what happened both times.

In both cases, I wasn't lost. I knew exactly where I was. It just wasn't where I was supposed to be. In the first case we arrived late at our original destination. In the second, we skipped the planned endpoint completely and did something else instead.

Things don't always go as planned. And that is not always a bad thing.
  • We reserved two timeshare villas in Sedona for next weekend to accommodate up to 12 family members for a week. We thought it would be a great place for a winter gathering, especially since most of those family members live where it either rains or snows in the winter. That was the destination. What actually happened was that ten people said they'd be there and four then changed their plans. So there are now six of us, and almost everyone can only be there for two days. At first I was upset; all that planning, for a week for 12, ending up with two days for six. Then I realized that the outcome isn't the problem; it's my expectation of what the outcome should be. I now expect our smaller number of family members will have a delightful time.
  • One of our trips to Greece this year did not go at all as planned. My luggage got lost and took three days to arrive. My husband Art packed his medications in a checked bag, and a third of the meds disappeared between Seattle and Athens. The driver of our car - who shall remain nameless - hit a curb with the rental car and Enterprise charged us $600 for the repair.  I didn't take my CPAP machine, and my noisy sleep drove two roommates out, so I paid $250 to ship my CPAP from home - and it got stuck in Customs for two days until I paid another $200. Art got a small electrical shock on a kitchen stove and the shock messed with his pacemaker/ defibrillator, which then beeped inside his body every four hours until we drove to the ER in Athens to have it checked out. Our flight home was delayed for 24 hours. But the hiccups of this trip make for a memorable retelling.
  • We ordered blinds for the 19 windows in our winter place. We were assisted by excellent people at Lowe's. Two of the blinds didn't fit a corner correctly. We were assisted again by excellent people at Lowe's. Between Home Depot and Lowe's, I now have a definite preference. Excellent customer service - especially in the resolution of a problem - makes the difference for me.
  • Art and I had lunch on Wednesday at the cafe next to the theatre where we had matinee tickets to "Man of La Mancha". Something in my ham sandwich was troublesome, and my body responded with a total evacuation for the next 12 hours.  Someone commented, "Food poisoning is a terrible way to lose weight." But it is a way!
When I bought my Honda Accord in 1998, I had a license plate frame made that says, "Make God laugh; tell him your plans." In 2015 I replaced that Accord with a new one. And I moved the license plate frame from the old car to the new. It's still a great reminder for me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Bag Lady Gratitudes

I've got a cold this week, so I've stayed pretty close to home. Still, I've pondered, as I usually do this time of year. Here are a few of my gratitudes:

  • We scaled down the holidays this year and so far I am content with the outcomes. No stress. Opportunities to say yes to the unexpected (handbells on Christmas Eve) and no to the obligatory (gift buying). A miniature holiday tree and a Santa hat for the javalina in our tiny yard.

  • Volunteering at a refugee camp - four times in one year.  Lots of stress and even more wonder - at innumerable sacrifices and kindnesses in the face of chaos and tragedy. 

  • New friends whose first language is Farsi or Greek.
  • Finding a niche to be of service at our winter home in Tucson. Every other Saturday I volunteer at a legal clinic listening to people tell their stories in preparation for the interviews that are part of the asylum process.
  • Identifying a compelling reason to learn Spanish! I've been advised to listen to the news in Spanish and watch Spanish soap operas. But Rosetta Stone is a big help also.
  • A haircut and color for the holidays!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

He used to be shy!

I'm more outgoing than my husband Art. That's been the case for as long as I've known him. When Art retired he took up reading as a hobby, and watching football and Bluebloods on TV.

This is our sixth winter in Tucson at the Voyager RV Resort. In Year 3 he discovered the Voyager Light Opera Company, and was cast in Guys and Dolls. In Year 4 he was cast in Oklahoma! There are no musicals in Years 5 and 6, so he is now performing in plays.

I would never have guessed he'd develop this interest. Never. Except for a pirate act he puts on when we sail on the Schooner Heritage, Art is pretty self-contained.

During the holidays the Voyager has an Electric Light Parade, where people decorate their bicycles and golf carts and assorted other vehicles. They meet up near the resort's baseball field and then snake through the streets of the Voyager, ending up at the ballroom. Santa and Mrs. Santa lead the parade in a decked-out Mustang.

Last week we got an email from the parade organizer saying that Santa and his Mrs. had been called away for a family emergency. She was looking for a substitute. I asked Art if he was interested and he said "sure". The organizer brought over a Santa suit. Our friend Joanne said she'd be Mrs. Santa (I said no immediately when I was asked).

Art and Joanne waved like professionals from the Mustang, sat for a photo op in the ballroom, and then led a Christmas carol from the stage.

All the world's a stage, I guess.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

It's not quite time to decorate

We live in an RV resort in Tucson in the winter. Many of our neighbors have put up their Christmas lights already. White and multicolored strings wind around palm trees and garnish deck railings. On 3rd Street every park model and RV has outside lights of some kind, and we're encouraged to drive the street after dark to see and admire them. Holiday events have already begun: concerts and dances and other special events. My handbell group played "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" last week at the nondenominational church service.

Art and I have not begun yet at our place. We agreed last week we would wait until December 10 to decorate, and that we would keep it simple this year.

We are not Scrooge or the Grinch. We are just waiting.

In the meantime, here's what happened this week:
  • I am learning my lines for a one-act play called Guess Who's Coming to Lunch? (or Just Desserts). It's one of two one-acts being performed the second week in March (my husband Art is in the other one). First I made index cards with a prompt on one side and my line on the other. Then, this week, I read it into an app on my phone. Now I listen to it several times a day. I'll feel better about this new undertaking of mine when I have my 63 lines learned. I haven't been in a play in nearly 50 years.
  • Tuesday evening I went to a panel discussion of the IRC (International Rescue Committee), which assists refugees in their resettlement in the US. One of the panel members was Noor, a man from Afghanistan. I talked with him afterwards and told him how glad I was that he has been successful in obtaining asylum here. We shared our thoughts about the current situation in Afghanistan and the difficulties its people have when they leave the country to find a safer place to live. Like I got to see "the other end" of the process after spending time with Afghans still in limbo at a refugee camp in Greece.
  •  My friend Martha teaches classes in Native American flute. Thursday afternoon she came over to see if I know enough - from a few classes four years ago - to join the beginner class in its fifth week. I do. The class was Saturday. Martha is a good teacher and I am sufficiently motivated to practice.
  • I spent a couple of hours yesterday observing a Keep Tucson Together immigration clinic at a local church. The volunteers work with people seeking asylum. It looks like a good fit for me, with relatively similar experiences this year at the Oinofyta camp. I want to be of service in the greater Tucson community for the five months I live here each year. The story I heard from the Guatemalan woman being helped sounded quite similar to stories I heard from Afghans. I told the coordinator I would be back in two weeks for the next clinic.
  • I worked on my Spanish with Rosetta Stone every day.
  • I found a Tucson church that feels like home.
A week from today I will put up our small tree and write a holiday letter. In that letter I will talk mostly about gratitude. 

Tis the Season!