The photo on the left shows potting soil on my deck gifted to me from my upstairs neighbor while re-potting some plants on her deck above mine. I cleaned it up and the next morning it looked the same. I cleaned it up again and two hours later---you know what’s coming. The forth time I found dirt on my deck I could see her moving around up there and I called out, “Rose, what are you doing? You’re making a mess down here!”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Do you want me to come down and clean it up?”
“No,” I replied. “I want you to quit doing what you’re doing because I’ve had to sweep my deck three times in two days and I’ll have to do it again.”
She’s in her mid-nineties and weighs about the same as her age and this isn’t the first time she’s annoyed me. She annoys me almost every day with her obsessive vacuuming and furniture moving. Her apartment has no carpeting; she had it all removed and put down vinyl flooring because, she says, it’s better for her allergies. Her allergies are why she vacuums daily as well. I swear a herd of wild horses would make less noise than her dragging that old canister vacuum around.
And she falls out of bed often enough for it to be a 'Thing' which has me staying awake wondering if I should go up and check on her after it happens. “Nope,” you don’t need to check on me when I fall,” she told me. “I never get hurt.” Ya, sure there’s always a first time. If I fell out of bed on regular basis I'd get a little rail to prevent that. Heck, I have one on my bed and I haven't fallen out of bed since I was a kid. I got it after I broke my ribs and it helps me get in and out of bed. Best $27 I'd spent in a long time. I don't understand why some people resist getting the products that can help us old birds stay independent. Several women here asked management to remove the safety bars in the bathrooms because they don't like the way they look. Big deal! They look better than having blood from a concussion all over the floor.
Rose and I occasionally get seated at the same dinner table and wouldn’t you know it, the same day I had to sweep my deck several times we got paired up and I wasn’t quite sure I could pull off an act---pretend I wasn’t totally annoyed with her. My usual M.O. is to brood about something like that for a day or two before I’m ready to let it go. But by the time we walked back to our building after dinner I was over it and she promised she’d tell me the next time she re-pots her plants. “Better yet,” I snapped back, “put a drop clothe or plastic bag down before you begin.” It all started because a deck plant fell because its hanging bracket wasn’t screwed on tight enough and she thought as long as she had to put more dirt in that pot she might as well re-pot her house plants at the same time. It will probably fall again. How tight can a ninety something elf of a woman install a bracket for a hanging basket?
At least we had something new to talk about. At dinner Rose usually repeats the same story and when she starts I daydream about filling my ears up with wet cement. It’s about why she didn’t get her master’s degree in biology. Every time she tells the story of how her professor thought her experiment in the lab refrigerator was someone’s left-over lunch and he threw it out---thus she couldn’t finish her thesis---I want to point out that the accident was on her for not labeling the project. But that would be starkly on my part and I try really hard to keep my ‘snark’ inside and put it to use as blog fodder instead. Trying hard didn't help the one time when I did ask her if the experiment was labeled. She let her snarky out when she answered, "It was the only one in there and he knew it was mine!” I then I asked, "Wouldn't he let you do it over?" "Oh, he would have but I got married soon after and left the state" which kind of feeds into the stereotype back then that girls only went to college to get their M.R.S. degrees.
Enough about Rose. Let me tell you about another resident here in the Independent Living part of my continuum care complex. I’ve written about the college professor who taught art before. I’ve been fangirling her since I discovered what she did before retiring. She’s very busy with outside-the-complex friends and former students so I don’t see her often. But she’s in our book club and my Tuesday Discussion Group (Formerly known as the Secret Society of Liberal Ladies) so we do have some contact. A few days ago she asked me if I’d like to go on a day trip with her, to her cottage up north very near to where my folks once owned property that they gave to my brother. He built a cottage on it and it was sold to my great-nephew recently.
Anyway, at first I was happy about the invitation to see the lake I hadn’t been to for nine-ten years, but the next day Ms. Professor asked me if I’d be comfortable driving her car---it’s a five hour round trip and she has macular degeneration. I don’t even like driving my own car more than 30 minutes and all the negatives about going were adding up including her cottage doesn’t get cell service---you have to climb up a hill behind the house. What are the odds that two 80-something year old women would need to call for medical attention? But the cherry on the top was the fact that she was proposing we go on the Forth of July. Anyone who lives in Michigan knows what the bumper-to-bumper traffic is like going up to the northern part of the state on a holiday weekend. I lied and told her I had plans for the Forth. Now I have to remember to lay low on the 4th. Note to self: Don't lie to people who live close enough to catch me in it.
We’d been carrying on this conversation about going up north through e-mail so my last reply was: “I was looking over the book club selections this afternoon and noticed that we'll be discussing Finding the Mother Tree in September---which was your book recommendation. I'm going to throw this out there: have you considered hosting the club up at your cottage that month like <so-and-so> did with at her cottage? Would it be practical or feasible? In early September the trees on the trip up north would be spectacular and everyone seemed to enjoy having an excuse for a road trip.”
I’m really hoping Ms. Professor likes this idea because when we carpooled to Lake Michigan for our May book club all the 70-somethings (and presumably safer drivers) in the group drove. I'm turning into an old fuddy-duddy aren’t I and that mind-set lost me an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with someone I admire. But a road trip on the Forth and coming home after the fireworks when every hundredth car gets a dead deer for a hood ornament? Thanks but no thanks.
Until next Wednesday… ©