Monthly Archives: July 2016

You may call me the Queen of (bottled) Water

Last summer, I started handing out cold bottled water to the mail carrier on a slew of super hot days. It’s not unusual for me to be home during the day, especially in the afternoon when mail is delivered so I was able to do this. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. I guess I thought the mail carriers took care of themselves if I thought about it at all. One mail carrier I know who delivers another route showed me how he brings a cooler of chilled water with him in the mail truck. Maybe seeing that planted a notion in my mind.

When we had the occasional substitute I’d offer them water too. Nobody ever said no. They stop, look me in the eyes and say thank you. They seem so grateful. I know the feeling.

It’s a strange thing, but some of the strongest memories I have are times I was so parched and somebody handed ME a bottle of cold water or refilled my water bottle. I still remember how grateful I was ten years ago on a day I was participating in an outdoor festival and couldn’t leave my spot when an acquaintance handed me a 32 ounce bottle of water he’d bought. It was such a thoughtful gesture. I glugged it down.

It’s the simplest thing. The most basic need. You don’t think about it until you don’t have it.

This summer I was ready. Earlier in July I hauled home a 24-pack of bottled water from the store. Wedged it into my “wheelie cart” and pulled that sucker the mile to home. Don’t feel sorry for me – all exercise is GOOD exercise. It all counts. (People often want to dissuade me from exerting myself but baby, doin’ this sort of thing keeps me lean-n-mean. I want to as long as I can.)

My regular mail carrier seems to be AWOL this summer, perhaps gone permanently, and substitutes have been the norm. I’ve seen carriers I’ve never laid eyes on before. On wicked hot days, if I don’t greet them at the door, I might leave a chilled bottle with a note “For mail carrier” in the mailbox after I see the truck coming. I am so tickled when I see the water is gone.

I couldn’t stop there. The UPS guys, who work like the devil is after them with a pitchfork, and who habitually show up late in the day, clearly after hours of sweaty labor, are also water recipients. The only ones I haven’t offered water to yet are the Amazon delivery guys. In winter I saw my first “Amazon van.” Does your area have these? They are extra-long white vans with the Amazon logo printed on them. They are zooming daily all over my town now. Amazon makes me think of Wonka. Anyway, the Amazon delivery guys look a little rough and not too friendly so I’ve held back. But I want to be fair so maybe one of these days….

Doling out water is such a little thing but it creates a connection, a small meaningful interaction. It’s no trouble to me – the 24-pack of water cost about $2.50 on sale – and I feel like I’m doing something good. Recognizing someone’s humanity is always good. And it’s too easy sometimes to look past the humanity of service people. They are often in the background. Until they screw up – then we notice them. I’m GLAD I get mail delivery. Hell, they even dropped the price of a stamp! Did you know that?! I about fell out. Anyway, I am a strong believer in the importance of small gestures, like remembering to act like a decent human being not perpetually wrapped up in my own troubles and wants.

Short Thought 150 (Olympics)

Was there ever a year there was NOT hand-wringing speculation as to whether the Olympics would be ready on time?? I can see it now: “My god man, are those chariots going to up and running or not?!”

TMI before there was “TMI”

When I was around twenty, my older brother was dating a younger woman who was closer in age to me and my slightly older sister. She was a wild gal, up for anything, the life of the party. She had a headful of naturally curly blonde hair and a husky voice which, as a real talker, she used a lot. She played the guitar and sang beautifully, a gift I have always admired. That year she joined my brother at our out-of-state family reunion, an event known for hard partying and drinking into the wee hours. The next day when most revelers were hungover and hurting, I can still see her – despite having been drinking with the best of them – springing about, bright and early, looking good, and ready to go. I wondered how she did it.

The relationship between her and my brother didn’t last but my sister and I still saw her for awhile. One time the three of us went to the local dive bar. We sat on stools at the bar proper, and over beers she decided to share intimate details of either the last or one of the last times she’d been with our brother. While in bed he’d criticized her lack of uh, enthusiasm, accusing her of “lying there like a wet noodle.” This was information my sister and I never needed to know and I’ve never been able to forget.

For a few reasons, we didn’t ultimately stay friendly with our brother’s ex but I knew she went on to settle down and have a little family, two daughters who looked like her; I saw them as children once at the public pool. But that was long ago. I learned recently online that she’d died. I was sorry to hear this, especially for her children and family’s sake. I will always remember her, though, not as somebody’s mother or wife or as a middle-aged lady but as that wild child who animatedly told us a little too much one day at the bar.

Things Men Have Said To Me (#23)

He didn’t give many gifts but once gave me a small one that was strangely out-of-character for a man not given to frivolity.

“It’s Winnie-the-Pooh,” he said confidently.

I looked at the figure.

“No it isn’t,” I replied with conviction.

Without missing a beat, he countered, “Okay, it’s a bear on a swing.”

Befriending skinks

I am trying to make friends with skinks. I realized the other day that’s what I’m doing. Skinks, if you’re not familiar with them, are small (about 3″) lizards with shocking blue tails. They are summer lovers, who sunbathe on sidewalks and other hot spots but shy from people and animals, darting beneath rocks, shrubbery, or whatever is at hand if anything approaches. Skittish little guys.

I’m not going to tell you lots of scientific info on the Lifestyle of the Skink because I haven’t looked into it. I *think* they can lose a tail and grow one back. Two years ago one had the misfortune to become caught in a spider web inside my summer screen tent (I had let the spider keep his residence as he wasn’t bothering me and helped keep the flying insect population in check). When I found the poor skink hanging upside down trapped, I was appalled. Surely a little spider didn’t need a whole *skink* for dinner. Could it even take down a skink? I freed it but was surprised to see the skink lost a bit of tail in the bargain. It ran away in a dash.

When I was a child I tried to befriend ants. Yes, that’s the kind of kid I was. We didn’t have pets – not allowed – but as is true of lots of children, I was very interested in animals. Ants weren’t intimidating. However, they were poor candidates for friends.

I’ve tried to be friendly with frogs in the yard. If frogs were hopping all over, making a nuisance of themselves, or doing damage, I’m sure they’d lose their novelty appeal. But I see a frog rarely. Still, frogs don’t seem interested in me one way or the other. Earlier this summer, one sat in the screen tent with me (he was there first) and tongue-zapped passing ants. That was fascinating to watch – I’d probably only seen it on TV before. I encouraged his dining and tried to point out prey to him as my feelings about ants have changed dramatically since childhood. I now suspect there are millions and millions of them residing in the ground beneath my feet, far too many of which apparently would rather be inside with me and my food.

There’s a stretch of sidewalk where I occasionally see skinks. Now that I know they’re there, I pay attention in hopes of seeing one. When I do, I greet it with a hearty “Ooohhhh Lizard!” (Don’t’ ask me why it isn’t “Oooohhh Skink!” I fell into “lizard” and it’s stuck.) Then I might glance around to see if anyone heard me since I am not trying for a reputation as a crackpot. My thinking is that the skinks, or a skink, might become used to me and realize I mean no harm. All I want is to look at them. I don’t want to pet them, pick them up, or take them home. Ok, it could be fun to pet one.

If I stop still in my tracks on seeing one, it might not entirely run away. Recently one ran and tucked itself sideways on the edge of the sidewalk in a crack. I could plainly see it. It was as if it wasn’t too concerned but had to make an effort to appear to be hiding. Just this last week, I felt I made better inroads when a skink ran off the sidewalk but then left his front left paw? foot? appendage? propped up on the edge of the concrete and with his head up above the edge too, appeared to regard me with one eye. We stayed that way for awhile looking at each other till I moved along, saying “I’m leaving now.”