Shubunkin at the bottom of the pond
Goldfish below the pond's surfaceGoldfish should not be named. I am greatly amused and even comforted by observing fish and water creatures; I have been since I was a child and a dear family friend, a biologist and minister, would take me on visits to aquarium shops, lakes, rivers and ponds to explore and gather specimens. When I was a teenager I never named the fish because that seemed childish. Later I would learn that it was a good idea because when you name them and get attached, they die. “Spike”, “Fillet”, “George,” “Martha”, and “Champ” all went to the big toilet bowl in the sky after being named. I won’t name another fish. The unnamed ones in my pond have stayed alive far longer than those with names and it is thrilling to see their black, orange and white shimmering bodies, magnified by the ripples on the surface and activated when I toss in an occasional garden worm for them to snack on.
Boys of all ages are fascinated by disgusting noises and all related discussion. At ages 23 and 26, my sons found a recently acquired “Fart Machine” to be an amusing toy. Purchased in a box of other fascinating items at an auction, the machine has a remote control. “This is awesome and the coolest thing ever,” exclaimed the eldest. “Grandmother needs one of these,” declared the other, explaining that she could attach it beneath someone’s chair in the dining room and make it go off randomly at her senior residence. They spent hours playing with it and then left to run errands after setting it to go off in random intervals, hidden somewhere in the house. I endured the noises for some time, unable to locate it. I thought of this as a sort of territorial marking, much like dogs peeing on bushes. This allowed the memory of them, and their antics, to endure in their absence. I think I am well on my way to an honorary degree in anthropology. Boys never cease to amaze me.
Seasons happen for a reason. Now in the heat of August, I remember fondly those early spring days when everything was new and there were surprises in the garden – the thrill of seeing the bulbs I planted in fall pushing through the rich, damp, chilly soil and the busy work of the robins collecting building materials for their new homes. As summer progresses and each of the flowering plants provide a backdrop of color around the garden, I rejoice in the miracles and am occasionally surprised by a forgotten plant when it contributes a new color or a larger plumage than it did last year. Now as the tomato plants have become spindly and their fruit disappears regularly (squirrels and chipmunks), and the leaves of the blackeyed-susans shrivel and their egg-yolk colored heads droop, I realize that I am looking forward to Fall. We need to re-seed the grass; I am bored with weeding, and things are looking tired and dead in much of the garden. Only the pond, a great source of joy and entertainment, seems unready to yield to the seasonal pressures.
It’s like riding a bike. Last week I worked as a consultant for a new organization that held its events in Washington. I had a role in writing and preparing materials and helping with logistics. Our fantastic team of Washington women, all unemployed and in our 50’s and 60’s, worked splendidly together and it was a successful event that will hopefully provide additional opportunities for all of us to continue to be involved.
We all commented, in different ways, about how nice it was to feel energized by the tight deadlines, crazy work schedule, and immediacy of the tasks we had to accomplish. We marveled that we were able to dust off the cobwebs in our multi-tasking-oriented brains and do it like we had hundreds of times before, using our years of acquired knowledge and natural organizational abilities. It was much like the old days of political conventions, conferences, and issues campaigns when we worked round the clock and networked before anyone really called it networking, and used telephones more than blackberries. Except for the technological improvements, it works the same, and in the end we knew that it was the close working relationships, the focus on the goals and the communication with one another that made it all come together.
What was different was that at 8:00 in the evening at the end of the final event, we were tired. Years ago, we would have gone out and celebrated our success with a drink or two and hours of socializing; instead we went home, put on our jammies, drank large glasses of water and put our feet up.
Old dogs are a lot like (older) men. Dallas sleeps a lot, passes gas constantly, thinks that the entire world revolves around him, obsessively marks his territory, startles easily, overreacts to intrusions (the annoying man in the short pants who stuffs papers into the box outside the door), obsesses over his privates, is a picky eater, makes a mess with his food, and is extremely particular about his daily constitutional.
But I have never known a man who is as sweet-natured, loving and happy as Dallas the Dog. Is it any wonder I am still single?
Hunting and foraging come naturally. My sons are opening a shop in a local antiques mall. All summer, they have been going to auctions, flea markets and yard sales, collecting “cool stuff” that they will sell in their “mantiques” business. I have been honored to be invited to accompany them on some of their foraging expeditions on Saturday mornings, ads for estate and yard sales in hand, looking for the unlimited bargains in the cast-offs of others that are simply waiting to be harvested. In truth I think they invite me because I have the best vehicle with the most reliable air conditioning. I drive, they give directions. So manly.
At each location, we leap out, after a drive-by to ensure that it is worth the effort. I imagine Native Americans on the plains in search of buffalo. We emerge from the car, ready to swoop in for the kill, carefully inspecting the merchandise with high hopes that we will discover something with high value that is priced at a dollar.
There are always more hunters, and vultures, behind us, ready to claim their victory or be satisfied with the spoils. Also much like the hunter, when we arrive home from a yard sale-ing trip, we spread the “kill” out on the dining room table, and congratulate one another on our hunting prowess, figuring out potential profits and feeling proud.
It is exciting to watch my young hunters improve their skills and become increasingly agile in their scouring, learning more about how to anticipate results, getting better at reading maps and knowing what areas and what kinds of ads yield the best results. While the hunters of old were after different game, the skills and outcome are not entirely different. In the end, it’s the perceived value of what they bag, be in by bow and arrow or in a recycled plastic one from Safeway!