Saturday, October 10, 2015

Old Ladies Behaving Badly/Part One

We recently watched Redwood Highway, a movie about an angry woman, roughly my age, living in a retirement home in Oregon. Marie's granddaughter is about to be married. She's invited but refuses to go. Her son tries in vain to persuade her. She's angry that the granddaughter's young man has long hair and makes his living as a drummer. She'd be a fool to marry him, Marie declares, and someone needs to tell her so!

But that's not the only thing she's angry about. She's angry at life; angry that her husband died young; angry she had to raise her son alone; angry that she's in a retirement home; angry that people seem to think she's losing her marbles; angry that they might be right.

The granddaughter loves her grandma and is hurt that she won't be at her wedding. She leaves an angry phone message saying fine, I didn't really want you there anyway. Dad made me do it.

This sits in Marie's head for a while and next thing we know she's in the breakfast room at the retirement home surreptitiously stuffing her backpack with apples, bananas and rolls. She hoists the backpack onto her shoulders, glances furtively around, then sneaks out the door and hits the road. To where we don't yet know. Nor does anybody else.

While Marie is plodding along, refusing lifts but yelling at truckers who pass too close and too fast, all hell is breaking loose back at the retirement home. Consternation. Where could she be? The police are called in and a big search begins. Meanwhile, blissfully oblivious to the mayhem, Marie makes friends along the road, a succession of people who see her as a spunky and stubborn, if somewhat whacky, woman on a mission, not as the person of diminishing intelligence and abilities she believes her family consider her to be.

I did not like the character very much..........


 I've seen the rolling eyes, the indulgent smiles, the "Oh mom"s" from those who once thought I had the answers to all of life's perplexing questions. I didn't, still don't. But it was a nice little fantasy while it lasted.

So our hair is white; we're not as svelte or as agile as once we were; our bones creak when we bend our knees and even louder when we straighten them again; we wish people would have the decency to avert their eyes as we try to struggle out of our cars; we don't recognise the people in our passport photos or on our driver's licenses or in our mirrors and worry that we'll be apprehended for identity theft; there are funny brown patches on our skin that we can no longer persuade ourselves are beauty marks and, the ultimate indignity,  shopgirls young enough to be our granddaughters call us "Sweetie" and "Honey."   Excuse me? I'm not your sweetie, or your honey either. But then, I realize I should be grateful --- their parents taught them to be kind to the elderly.

So, it was instructive to watch Redwood Highway. It reminded me to be positive; to mind my own beeswax and keep my nose on my face where it belongs. And, if I should ever decide to stuff my backpack and take to the roads, I will at least leave assurances that I have all my marbles with me, in the backpack, along with the apples and the bananas. I'd stop short of revealing my exact whereabouts though ---  because what would be the fun of running away if everybody knew where to find you?

I thought Marie was being self-centered and selfish. Spoil a granddaughter's wedding? Hello Sweetie! It's not about you! Show up with love in your heart and a smile on your face, give the long haired drummer a hug and quit misbehaving!

Which is what she did in the end.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Busy Morning at the Bistro

 Retirement is all about having the time to try new things. We've recently taken the plunge into the restaurant business. We've opened a bistro. Nothing fancy, just two flower pots and a shepherd's hook, but business has been brisk.

Our patrons all live in the neighborhood. Many of them are natty dressers with a preference for shirts in shades of red. The red shirts are a bossy bunch, preferring to have the place to themselves and are not above bullying the other customers. The management tolerates them as they add a dash of color and character to the establishment, but we like to encourage, and cater to, a diverse clientele.

A newcomer today --- our fame is spreading.

 It makes drinking our coffee in the mornings so much more entertaining. 

The patriarch of the red clan wears the brightest shirt and, if he's at the head table, everyone else waits at a respectful distance in the nearby trees.  He will allow his ladies, recognizable by the duller red of their shirts, to dine at the other table (it's a small bistro), but any strangers passing by would be well advised to wait 'til he's had his fill. He's always armed. 
I, for one, would not want to be on the business end of that beak.

Waiting for a table...

I was walking by the bistro last evening and the red shirts were swooping by, dangerously close.

Whoa! (I thought) Knock it off. I'm not some big peaceful dove you can push around. Neither am I one of those wee fellows in the grey suits with their black heads and sporty quiffs!

The cutie in the grey suit

Well, came the response (I have an active imagination in which I have conversations with birds) You can't expect to be kept on as manager of this joint if the service is as poor as it is tonight!

Oh-oh! I'd forgotten to fill the pots!

Abject apologies sir, I said . I'll speak to the servers right away. And, to make up for the inconvenience, your Eminence, I'll throw in an extra handful of sunflower seeds.

So I did. And this morning there's been a steady stream of customers. Mr. Red Shirt and his harem have been by several times; the little guys in the grey suits with their spiffy quiffs dart in and out; the peaceful doves had a table for a while but scattered when the woodpecker dropped in for a quick bite.

Size and loudness gets you the best table, quickly.

We haven't been awarded a Michilin star yet and it's highly unlikely we'll be reviewed in the "Taste" section of the newspaper, but, as we drink our coffee each morning and watch the customers lining up, we're counting our new venture a roaring success.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Flitting Without Focus

A new page on the calendar. And a D-minus in blogging. A few diehards occasionally hint that it's time for another post and, believe me, there's a backlog of abortive attempts. I get the initial idea but then lose my focus. Enough with excuses. Let's see if I can focus long enough for a brief update.

But where to start? There's the rub. Too many fragments of this, that and a thousand other things swirling about in my head. I've been in hyperactive mode these past several months.With summer winding down, the butterflies are frantically flitting from flower to flower back near the compost pile which you wouldn't pick out of ten choices as a great location for taking photographs, but there I am, dancing after them, camera swinging, pleading with them to hold still for just a second --- on the passion flower or tall daisies they seem so fond of. Doomed to failure. They land, I focus and just as I click, they flit away. At least I'm not wasting reams of film. For every half decent shot I erase twenty five.

 I think butterflies invented hyperactivity and/or attention deficit disorder. Maybe that's why I like them so much. Kindred spirits.Trying to pack their dwindling days with all the flitting and dancing and flower smelling possible.

Not to mention picking a thousand daisy seeds out of my britches. The price for prancing about in the weeds by the compost pile for a few good shots and forty duds.