Under the Roof

My orange tree is almost white with blossoms. It looks like snow. The fragrance is intoxicating, especially at sunset and sunrise. I put myself in a chair under the tree today to take in the spectacle under the branches. The bees were humming and doing a happy dance in and out of the flowers. The hummingbirds flitted from branch to branch. As I looked up I could see touches of blue sky in between the leaves. Suddenly I heard rustling and the tree began to shake, blossoms came down like rain, and then the thump of oranges around me. I couldn’t see them, but it was those pesky squirrels again, racing in and out of the branches, almost laughing.

Our house is under the flight path to three airports. It’s normal to see planes come in for a landing every five minutes. From big wide-bodies to smaller commute aircraft, it’s my thrill to see these planes arrive. They are so low I can make out the airline. Even see the pilot wave at me. Today, because of the lock-down, there was only one or two that came in. Probably with six flight attendants pampering one passenger with first-class treatment. Now is the time to fly if you can get past security.

Occasionally I will see gulls fly overhead. When that happens I know it’s going to rain. That’s when I stand outside and wait for the big drops to hit.

Calvin says, “And I dash inside. I hate a bath.”

How to Connect. Let Me Count the Ways.

I’ve heard everything now. A friend’s daughter is hosting movie nights with her buddies via computer. Don’t ask how they’re doing it, I haven’t a clue, but they have dinner together and then sit back and relax and watch the movie. I’m sure a lot of people are doing this. What an ingenious way to stay together. It’s like having family when you want it without the drama. Clever.

I have to think of something like this with my siblings, but it won’t work. We can’t agree on anything, especially what movie to watch. It’s the same with music. This forced lockdown is making me guilty that I’m not putting aside my differences in order to re-engage with them. But I know better. I spoke with a neighbor today and she’s going through old photographs of herself with her family. That might work, but I’m afraid it would bring up all sorts of things we’d rather leave buried, like the dog that disappeared, and that scar we’d rather not talk about.

One thing that might bring us together is to talk about funny memories we all lived through and see how each remembers them. It might make us realize we lived a totally different life from each other even while in the same house sharing the same DNA. Like the time we almost set the kitchen on fire. Or when we painted the bathroom blue instead of red and who was to blame for the color mix-up.

One thing is for sure. We’d all remember the pets we had. Especially the flamingos.

Calvin says, “Flamingos? Now I know you’re making this up.”

 

Adjusting

I’m learning to work online these days, and be proficient in video calls. All of a sudden I have to look good on camera. I need make-up, lipstick, good hair, and something colorful around my neck and shoulders. Much like news anchors, you never know what they’re really wearing underneath the desk. I could be wearing my pajama bottoms, the ones with the mermaids, and nobody would know. But they’d know because they’re doing the same.

Nobody has told the bees, the squirrels or the birds that all work must be conducted inside. They didn’t get the memo. Life goes on for them. The neighborhood cats keep coming by and checking who has left a scent. Not so with the dogs. They have been quarantined and I don’t even hear barking anymore. That’s because they’re wearing masks.

I used to smell garlic and curry in the neighborhood, but even that has gone. I don’t see my neighbors leave their houses and get into their cars. I wonder what they’re making for dinner. I suppose the freezer in the garage has been a go-to place for the past four weeks. It’s time for the frozen edamame and tamales to come out along with the ice cream and shredded cheese.

We just heard we might be in this until middle May. The date keeps getting pushed back almost daily. This is building character I tell myself. It’s okay if you’re an introvert. You can handle the quiet. It’s the extroverts I worry about. They’re talking to themselves in the mirror and to imaginary friends.

Calvin says, “I don’t like frozen kibble so don’t even think about it.”

 

 

 

Coexistence

The orange tree in our backyard is bursting with blossoms. As I walk by it, I hear the happy sounds of our humming bees wiggle in and out of the blossoms. The tree is alive with activity and noise. What surprises me are the hummingbirds. They too are flitting in and out of the blossoms, drinking in their elixir. They are intoxicated. They stop frequently to rest, look around, chirp with the others, and then resume their feeding. They don’t seem to skirt the bees. Nor are they cautious around them. Both bees and hummers co-exist in one tree.

Now the squirrels are another story. Those nasty critters are pulling off our oranges, taking a big bite out of them, and throwing the rest of the fruit on the ground. I notice they don’t touch the lemons or the grapefruit. They like sweet. They have good taste, but in an indulgent and thoughtless way.

Yesterday morning I noticed a tight bud on a geranium bush, and by late afternoon it had flowered. Had I know it would happen this fast, I would have pulled up a chair to watch it, like a time-lapse video.

I’m waiting for the blue jays to pop in anytime soon. They are nuisances. They wait on the roof top for bee activity and then swoop in and grab one in their beaks and swallow it whole. I wonder if the bee, in its last moments of life, stings the bird’s gullet all the way down to its stomach.

Calvin says, “Beware of those bees. I’ve had a few land on my nose and it’s terrifying. I shake them off and then run inside the house and howl.”

 

A Jungle Out There

I’ve been in lockdown since the end of March. Like most of us, it’s taken a bit of adjusting. My daughter came over to do laundry. She wore a mask and gloves the entire time and stayed in the garage. We talked in muffled sounds.

I’m getting to know my backyard quite well. That’s where I walk two miles a day. I look like a robot, back and forth, until whatever phone call I’m on is over. I’ve watched the maple tree sprout its tender leaves. Flowers are poking their heads up from the ground. Squirrels are snickering up and down the fence. My rose bushes are bursting out all over and the bees are deliriously happy.

Speaking of which, while I was doing my walk I suddenly heard a loud hum overhead. At first I thought it was my neighbor’s lawnmower. But when the sound came swirling around my face and almost into my ears I ran inside.

“Do I have any bees stuck to me?” I asked Alf.

He put down the paper and looked at me. “Do you mean the buzzing kind or something else?” Then he saw what was happening out the window. Hundreds of bees were swarming in circles in front of our eyes, taking up every inch of airspace, like a convention in the sky. We stood transfixed. Not one bee was bumping into another. They had their flight path well mapped out. The buzzing was almost deafening.

“There goes the neighborhood,” Alf said.

We continued with our projects and soon there was silence. It was as sudden as the humming. We looked out the window and the bees were gone. Not a one lingered on a flower or a tree.

“Where did they disappear to?” I asked.

“To the local pub for a drink,” Alf said.

The following day the same episode happened at the same time of the day. By then we had become pros. We left out some cut oranges on the picnic table in case they needed a snack. Instead, the squirrels pounced on the slices and flicked their tails in excitement.

Calvin says, “Thank God my doghouse is inside. They would have moved right in with all my smells.”

 

 

It’s Show Time

What would the media do without the corona-virus, Harvey Weinstein and the Democrats jostling for votes to become the candidate to oppose President Trump this fall? They’d have to fold up and crawl under their desks. Is there any news that isn’t bad news, or better put, scary news? The media thrives on crises.

Have you also noticed how shallow the reporting is? Lots of scare language but little substance. There are barely enough facts to understand anything, let alone feel you have the full story.

What’s happened to journalism? What’s being taught in these schools? I think they’re really in the entertainment business. There is no such thing as a well-balance piece about anything anymore except maybe how to dance the tango or make a plum tart.

And have you noticed how many journalists take their cues from Twitter quotes? Or video clips? Pretty soon I’m expecting some company to roll out a platoon of robots holding yellow legal pads and pencils stuck behind their ears to produce the news. They’ll be cheaper and more efficient in the long run. That is, if you don’t care about the facts.

Calvin says, “Take your cue from me. My nose is the daily paper. I learn everything I need to know there. You should do the same.”

 

Add a Heart

I hate it when a warehouse store moves its shelves around and I can’t find the items I typically buy. It’s torture. It adds extra minutes to my shopping. I walk my 10,000 steps just trying to find the peanut butter. They should pay me for confusing me and making me go around in circles.

Being the day before Valentine’s Day, vendors were parked at every aisle handing out chocolates, cheese, and ravioli bites. Perfect ingredients for your loved one. How come there’s never any samples of bagels, lox and cream cheese? Or champagne and lobster tails for that special someone? But there’s always the man with the high-powered blender ready to make you a green smoothie.

I’ve noticed the book aisle is now shoved by the back wall where you can’t find it. I guess books are not money makers even if you are James Patterson and Clive Custler.

The clerk at the check-out told me a story of a family with a six-year old daughter. It was the child’s birthday and nobody showed up to celebrate it. So the family scooped her up and brought her to the store for pizza and cake. I wondered how many miles they had to walk to find those items. They were moved to make way for buckets of roses and heart-shaped cookies.

Calvin says, “The stuff you fret over. What’s wrong with a bone and a snuggle?”

 

The Big Goodbye

The hoopla is over. The 49ers lost. Kansas City Chiefs won. Let’s move on.

The Iowa caucus is in chaos and nobody emerged as a winner. Yet. They’ll figure it out.

Today is the State of the Union address. Tomorrow is the end of the impeachment proceedings. Let’s move on.

I wonder what the media will do now that all the drama is gone. They live and breathe crises and fear and a heightened anxiety. They’re the reason people are on drugs for depression and high blood pressure. Big pharma is thrilled.

I say we unplug our electronic devises, the television, and anything else that has us tethered to the media. We aren’t getting the news anyway. It’s all entertainment.

Instead, let’s read a book for pleasure. Do we remember how?

Let’s learn how to make chocolate filled croissants.

How about a hike in the woods? Do we even remember what a tree looks like?

It’s time to return to the simple, sane things that give us peace. Now there’s a word that’s out of tune with today.

Calvin says, “When do we go on this hike of yours? My nose is ready. Also for the croissant.”

Stop Already

The chaos of the Trump impeachment trial, the threat of the corona virus, and the frenzy of the upcoming Super Bowl, all conspire to keep our nation popping anti-anxiety pills. This must be a boon for big pharma.

Me? I just want to take a long walk in the woods, look up at a canopy of trees, breathe in the fresh air, and forget I’m on this planet.

The hysteria of the media is at an all-time high. Every headline screams at you. The more the hype the less details emerge from the articles. My questions never seem to be asked. Background research doesn’t get done. There is no serious journalism. Nothing that educates or motivates. Just noise.

One way to handle this is to turn off the television, the online news, the sound-byte texts, and take a hot bath. Turn the lights down low. Light scented candles. Listen to uplifting music. Relax.

Whatever you do, don’t let the dog in. He’ll distract you. He’ll whine. He’ll look at you with those misty, droopy eyes. He’ll try to hoist himself into the bath with you. Don’t do it. Leave him outside the closed door. He’ll get the message. Maybe even go to sleep.

Calvin says, “How rude. What about all the hoo-hah you dish out every day? Do you think it’s easy living with you? Don’t I deserve a time-out too with a massage and a tummy rub?”

Needle Therapy

I did it. I crossed the boundary from modern to ancient. I went to an acupuncturist. I never thought I’d do it. Western medicine is losing its hold on me. It’s becoming more about scare tactics and meds than medical practitioners that can think outside the box. My arthritic toes needed help and my choices were orthopedic shoes that looked like army tanks or surgery. So I opted for the Chinese way.

On the recommendation of a friend, I went to see Dr. Chen. He’s a mild-mannered man with an accent. He showed me the needles he was planning to use and how he was going to treat my feet. I swallowed hard. He stuck the needles in every toe. It didn’t hurt. My feet looked like pin cushions. He left me lying on the table with my feet under heat lamps while he checked on other patients.

On subsequent visits the sticking of needles routine hurt. “That’s because circulation is returning,” Dr. Chen said with a smile. I didn’t know my circulation had departed. Now that it’s back, I’m wondering if it’s going to stay. Alf calls this foot therapy. That I’m working through my regret at not having pursued a dance career.

I need another three sessions according to Dr. Chen. Then I can retrieve my ballet shoes from the closet and soar.

Calvin says, “What happened to soaking your feet in warm sudsy water in front of a crackling fire? That’s what the ancients used to do.”