Thursday, November 22, 2018

My Thanksgiving Day Teacup Disaster

Darn. After a pretty good day, albeit one with too much food, I just had a stupid accident. David was collecting the trash for pickup tomorrow, and when I was handing him my desk wastebasket, I knocked a large cup of tea off the side of my desk. The tile floor here in my study is the hardest in the house, so it shattered all over, plus spilled tea over a wide area. What a mess! I'm not sure I got it all with paper towels and the broom, but I sure hope I got most of it. I don't ever walk around with bare feet, so that's something, at least.

Well, some good may come of it. It has been quite a while since I've really cleaned this floor, other than sweeping or vacuuming it. That's partly because the room, while large, is so crowded. Besides my office-size desk, a file cabinet, seven large bookcases, and a folding table, there are several big cardboard boxes on the floor. Those are filled with books and papers that need sorting. All those boxes, over a dozen in all and most of them heavy, will have to be moved out for a while if I am to do a good cleaning with a mop. But it needs to be done, and this is motivation. The floor tiles have a recessed pattern in them, and I'm sure that some of the tea is in there, so even using a scrub brush on my hands and knees may be required.

This is clearly a case that calls for an attitude adjustment. I need to look at this coming task not as something to dread, but as something necessary and ultimately beneficial. My back and knees will no doubt take a while to recover after I'm done, but I'm sure I'll be pleased with my much cleaner floor. And from now on, no more putting my teacup in that vulnerable spot. There are much safer places for it here on my desk. So there's a good lesson learned.

Wish me luck, and good housekeeping to you!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Self-Care is the Opposite of Selfish

I am writing this post one day after my husband’s 75th birthday. As I’ve said to many people, it’s a little hard for us to fathom that David has reached this landmark birthday, given that he was only 21 when we met and 24 when we married on April 9, 1968. How time flies!

Yesterday, I reported on Facebook that David does not eat or want sweets, so there was no birthday cake or any other kind of pastry for him on his big day. Every morning, he prepares a very healthy breakfast for the two of us; it includes a variety of fresh fruits and raw vegetables. So yesterday, I stuck a single little birthday candle in one-half of a strawberry, lit it, and sang “Happy Birthday” to him. He thought that was fun and funny.

A few hours after that, we went to a good, local café that offers senior discounts. The waitress told David that he could have a free birthday sundae after his meal, but he refused it. She laughingly offered it to me instead, but I refused it, too. She seemed more than a bit surprised by that.

After  lunch, as a present to himself, David took the day off from working on jobs for editing clients of ours and worked on his own writing; that’s his 29th book. He also worked out in the basement for a couple of hours, as he does at least nine or ten hours a week. He mainly lifts weights, but he also stretches and uses our Schwinn exercise bike. I am filled with admiration for him and his amazing self-discipline.

It occurred to me yesterday, more strongly than ever before, that taking care of one's own health, as David does so well and consistently, is also the best gift that one can give one's spouse and other loved ones.

Here is my reasoning behind that statement.

Self-indulgence in things that are bad for us, like sweets, alcohol, and smoking, while pleasurable for a few minutes at a time, can actually be very selfish.  That is, those things are harmful not just to us and our own bodies, but also to the health of our closest social units, given that they contribute to long-term illness (such as diabetes or liver disease or lung cancer), often saddling us and others with long-term financial burdens and shortening our lives.

David has remarked more than once that he cares for his body not just for himself, but also for me. Perhaps if more people started thinking the way he does, pondering the fact that self-care is also care of one's loved ones, we would have much better health in our society as a whole.

Manage

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Clutter-Clearing Equals Satisfaction

(This post was originally composed as a letter to a friend, Patty Fletcher. She liked it so much that she suggested I  re-work it as a blog post, then send it back to her so she could re-blog it. Thanks again for your interest, Patty.)

Yesterday, October 6, I took the day off from editing and taught Spanish, did the dishes, did some laundry, mopped the kitchen floor, and then packed up a sizable box of old VCR tapes for a second-hand store. I also cleaned off all the shelves of the bookcase they were on and organized the VCR tapes we are keeping (for now) and many DVDs of movies.

That last task alone, all the work with the VCR tapes and DVDs, took me at least two hours and was very tiring, as I have a VERY hard time getting down on the floor and then back up. It is quite literally painful for me. But I figure that I need to practice. We do get down on the floor and then up again in the exercise classes that I teach, a few times per class, but there, I have a nice foam exercise mat and a weight lifting bench to push myself up on, using my arms. I'm sure it would be easier if I could lose the 20 or so pounds that I need to.

Anyway, David (my husband) praised me for what I accomplished yesterday, and that made me feel good. Sure, it's fine when you can figuratively pat yourself on the back for a hard job well done, but it's even better when you can get praise from another person.

This was just one small step toward my gigantic total job of clutter-clearing, but it was a significant one, and getting it done made me feel good. Also, it's a bookcase right next to the front door, thus highly visible, so it's good to have it a lot neater.

Tonight we go out for a nice dinner with our son and his girlfriend. David's 75th birthday is tomorrow, the 8th. We will go out again next Sunday with two friends. They are old friends with whom we almost always celebrate our various birthdays: in January, May (two of us have May birthdays), and October.

It’s hard for us to believe that David is about to turn 75. That’s because we met when he was just 21 and I was 19, and we married when he was 24 and I was 21, close to 22. We were married on April 9, 1968, 50 years ago this April. How time flies!

My two-part birthday gift to David is a vow to take better care of my own health (with him as my inspiration) and to keep working steadily on clutter-clearing. Here’s to many more years of good health and happiness, plus a cleaner, neater house for the two of us! 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

A Tribute to My Dear Stepmother

(1937–2018)

On September 18 of this year, my beloved stepmother, Willene Schaefer Hardy, died in Kansas City, Missouri, after less than 24 hours in a hospice facility. Prior to that, she had resided for several years in two very good assisted care facilities: first in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she lived with my father for 41 years (until he died of heart failure and Alzheimer’s), and then in Kansas City, where four of my five sisters and most of their family members live.

Willene had polio at the age of six. While she could still walk with the aid of leg braces and crutches when she married my father in 1969, it was not long before it became necessary for her to use a wheelchair. After my father’s death, her health steadily declined. She died with severe, whole–body disability and a long list of serious illnesses, including mid–stage kidney failure and the beginnings of leukemia.

My sisters and I loved Willene deeply, and we will all miss her very, very much. Besides being a loving stepmother, she was intelligent, witty, highly educated (with a PhD in English), a faithful correspondent, generous, liberal, tolerant, patient, and amazingly stoical. She was always ready to put the interests of others before her own, and she gave generously to many charities.

Thinking a lot about her and her sterling character, I am newly inspired to try as hard as I can to be more like her.

David and I wish to mention here that Willene was, among all our family members and friends, uniquely supportive of our writing and our book editing work. I could always count on her for thoughtful and honest opinions of our writing and that of others, as well as her opinions of the many book covers that we designed. I will miss such thoughtful judgment and commentary from her more than I can say. In addition, she kindly purchased many of the books by us and by our editing clients.

Thanks to all for reading this. While none of you knew Willene, of course all of you have suffered your own losses of beloved family members and friends. Thus you know that the death of a person who was so significant to you leaves a hole that can never be filled. All we can do is try to remember the good times, be glad that such wonderful people were in our lives, and make the very best of the years that we ourselves have left to us, however many those may be.

Also, please remember that you can never know how many years are left for those you love. Never miss a chance to tell them, whether they are young, old, or in between, how you feel about them. My sisters and I are glad that Willene knew very well how all of us felt about her.

Email: leonore@leonoredvorkin.com

Website: http://www.leonoredvorkin.com/

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Good Meal at IHOP

We had an outstanding meal out yesterday afternoon, 9/10/18. We had a 20% off coupon for a fairly nearby IHOP restaurant, and so thought we would give it a try. It was our first time there. We both had the sirloin tips dinner, with chicken noodle soup (the best I have ever had), plus steak tips with onions and mushrooms, perfect mashed potatoes, corn, and garlic toast. YUM! We were happy to be able to get dinner at 3:00 PM. The whole place was super clean, too.

We like the large tables and the high backs of the booths in this restaurant. It gives one plenty of room to spread out and gives a nice feeling of privacy in each booth. We have heard that nationally, IHOP is having trouble, but we hope it will survive. We will be back to this location for sure! The manager must be superb. All the employees looked both happy and efficient.

The address for this location is 389 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Lakewood, Colorado 80226, in the Lakewood City Commons shopping center.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A Study in Courage

Yesterday, at our local Costco store, I stopped to talk with an older lady whom I have seen there quite often, handing out samples of food. I've always rather admired her, as she radiates a sort of calm confidence as well as friendliness. All the food demonstrators wear large name tags, so I always greet her by name.

I learned that she is in her mid-80s, a widow, and a survivor of three bouts of breast cancer! I told her that I am a 20-year breast cancer survivor, and we talked a bit about our contrasting treatments.

She said that she loves her job, as she likes people and getting out in public. I imagine that the money is not great, but obviously there are many other benefits. Of course I congratulated her on her cancer victories and wished her well. I hope to see her often again in the future.

I don't go to Costco every week, but David does. He does almost all the food preparation and all the grocery shopping, at Costco and elsewhere, and I just kind of tag along from time to time.  :-) I like having the time to stop and chat with the nice, mainly older folks at Costco who hand out samples of the yummy food products. I'm happy that those jobs are available to them.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What I Learned from Something Lost and Found


A little over a year ago, I had my study and the adjoining guest bathroom painted. It was a huge job for both the painters and us, as we had to remove from my study the contents of 11 large bookcases and then the bookcases themselves before the ceiling and walls could be painted and the hard tile floor thoroughly cleaned. The furniture, which consisted of two big desks, two chairs, and two filing cabinets, just got shoved around as the men worked. In the bathroom, I emptied the cabinets, as they were being painted as well.

After several days of meticulous work, everything came out looking great. The resulting effect was well worth the time and money spent and the tremendous amount of effort on everyone's part.  

However, sometime later, to my great distress, I discovered that my two favorite decorative greeting cards were missing from the bathroom. Now, let me explain where and why I have greeting cards and postcards in a bathroom!

Above the toilet, we have a cabinet called a Johnny boy. It has two shelves behind its swing-out doors and an open, lower shelf about 18 inches above the top of the toilet. Thus it provides ample space for things like an extra roll of toilet paper, some decorative items, small paper cups for our guests, and much more.

On the lower shelf, I have four small decorative items: all black and white, to match the room's color scheme. In addition, something that I regularly do is prop a pretty greeting card or postcard up on the shelf, changing the cards according to the season or just on a whim, on no particular schedule. Two of them are perfect for the monthly Spanish conversation group meetings that I host. One of them depicts two smiling Mayan girls in very colorful clothing; one girl is welcoming the other to her home. The other is a lovely handmade card, featuring the words, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." The latter card was a gift from a longtime Spanish student of mine. Both of them are wonderful things to put out as an extra little welcome to my guests.  

When I discovered that precisely those two favorite cards were missing, I was horrified. My assumption was that someone—a guest, or maybe even a student—had at some point rummaged through the cabinet, had picked out those two cards, and had slipped them into his or her pocket or purse. (Another card had been on display for quite a while, so I did not notice the loss right away.) I searched everywhere for them; they were nowhere to be found.

Worst of all, what was then lost, in addition to the cards, was my trust in my own students and guests. I was filled with anger and suspicion, fearful that the same thief, or perhaps another, could at any time take something of much more value from my home. There are many pretty little items all over the house, things that could very quickly and easily be slipped into a pocket or purse, and I would never know which of the many people who are in my home on a regular basis had taken one or more of them.

In short, I was angry, disappointed, disillusioned, and very worried. Gradually, and especially after nothing else disappeared, those feelings faded, but it took a long, sad time for me to stop worrying about a possible additional theft.

Well, you can probably guess what eventually happened. Recently, I was doing some long overdue clutter-clearing, rummaging through one of many cardboard boxes whose jumbled contents I need to investigate and sort. And there, to my immense surprise and happiness, were the two precious cards, along with several others that I like. Obviously, at some point before the painting project, I myself had gathered up the cards and had placed them in that box. Why I had ever separated them from the others that I still had in the bathroom, I have no idea. Nor do I have any memory of having placed the cards in the box. But I must have; no one else would have done that. So now I have them again, and my suspicions have all been laid to rest. What a wonderful relief!

Beyond that, though, there are some very good lessons to be taken from this combination of happenings. Here they are, as I see them:

1. Don't be suspicious of family members or friends unless you have proof, or something very close to it, that they have done you wrong in some way.

2. What was lost may yet be found again. Sometimes you know that the search is utterly hopeless, but most of the time, you do not. Try to keep hope alive, and keep searching!

3. You can never know what happy event a given day will bring. Sometimes it's something  monumental, fantastic, even life-altering. But sometimes the event is small, perhaps quite trivial in the eyes of others, yet deeply meaningful—such as when you find a misplaced object that you really cared about.

Now I can go back to trusting all those who enter my home, as well as to displaying my two favorite cards. May the affection and joy that shine out from those images and words fill all of our hearts for a long time to come.         



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