Gratitude Sunday: What Do You Do For Fun?

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “Live and work but do not forget to play, to have fun in life and really enjoy it.” Eileen Caddy

Sunday Haiku
Whiffs of sweet spring breeze
exchange spaces with winter’s
dust. Open windows!

Sunday Musings
A friend from college stopped by last week. I hadn’t seen her in three years and was so happy to have her visit. We chatted for hours catching up and sharing lunch; I know members of her family, she knows members of mine, we’ve both lost both our parents in the 20 years since we graduated college, and there was tons to talk about. Never enough time with certain friends, right?

Somewhere in the conversation she asked what I was doing for fun these days. I kind of went blank and didn’t have an immediate answer for her. Fun has always been problematic for me. As a kid I was never coordinated: heights made me feel like I was falling, ankles twisted under when I tried to run, eyes that can’t follow a ball. Dodge ball? Last chosen for the team, first to be bombed out. Climbing trees? No way. I don’t understand competition unless it’s about me being better than I was yesterday. I’m not much of a risk taker, I’m a poor traveler and the world’s worst camper (but I’ve never had the financial wherewithal to camp or travel with any degree of confidence, it’s always just been a wing and a prayer, so who knows about that part), and as I’ve gotten older I don’t sleep well no matter where I am. Even eating, walking, and sleeping, such simple pleasures, have become problematic. So, there’s that. Reading snuggled up on an outdoor chaise with 14 pillows under an old tree, that’s my speed. Or manatee-ing in a warm pool of water where nothing hurts if you fall.

Then I have this weird thing called anhedonia. It means I don’t feel much in the way of pleasure, anticipation is often dread even over events others would consider fun. This is amplified by a lack of trust in others, other people in general, not just friends and family. For example, I don’t do the trust game where you fall backward and the rest of the group catches you any more. I’ve been dropped too many times. And now when I decline people don’t understand. Then I decline to explain for personal reasons and that furthers the misunderstandings. So, problematic.

I think this distrust goes way back to grade school when I was bullied. One incident I remember was visiting a friend’s home. We were second or third grade and her house was on my route home. Her father was my family’s optometrist so I had permission to play at her house after school as long as I called Mom when I got to my friend’s house. Her next door neighbor was a girl one year ahead of us in school and often played with us. Mom usually only allowed me an hour to play so I could be home in time for dinner, and we liked board games and card games, easier when a third, or fourth (her older sister) joined in.

One day as I was getting ready to leave the neighbor girl told me the only way I could leave was if I jumped out a window. My friend chimed in and went along with her. I was terrified. I didn’t like heights for one. They gave me the impression the window was the one in my friend’s second story bedroom. They blocked my exit at the bedroom door. They blocked my way down the stairs. They blocked my way at the bottom of the stairs until my friend’s mom caught wind of the fracas and she hustled me out the door and on my way home. I heard her behind the closed door scolding the girls for being mean. The next day at school they told me they meant the first floor window and it really wasn’t far to the ground and they did it all the time and it had been all in fun. Fun. They never said “sorry”.

Hwell, fun for whom? Not for me. I was never able to say yes to another invitation from that friend and after a while she stopped asking. Is it fun to be mean? I’m not sure about that. I’m sure I’ve been mean over the years and I do not remember feeling any degree of pleasure, even when it might have been warranted. Here’s the other thing: I’d be willing to bet neither of these now grown women would be willing to admit they did this if they even remember it, but I haven’t forgotten their names. The incident may be over with now but there is still a weight of meanness carried in this world.

My college friend’s visit got me thinking about what I do for fun. I swim three nights a week, and while I’m not sure it’s fun, I enjoy being able to move my body so much more freely in the water than out. I exercise during lesson time for 6 months through 8 year olds, and they are entertaining and also a joy to watch. I don’t/won’t make dates for swim times so we’ll count pool time as fun.

I have a couple “hobbies” I also call entertainment, but fun? I don’t know.

Now that I’m semi-retired and home I am aware of the volume of scam calls. These are people attempting to take control of your computer and then charge you money to repair it, though they never repair it and often install a virus, they just steal your money. I have a caller ID and I’ve gotten pretty good at telling the difference between automated robo call numbers, and scam call numbers. The giveaway is the voice on the other end of the line who does not speak “American English”, not a southern drawl in all their varieties, not a California valley girl, nor any of the American regional eastern accents like Chicago, Boston, New York, or New Jersey. I’m not a voice actor by any stretch of the imagination so I could not imitate them for you but I know what they sound like. No, these people sound like they are from India, or some obscure Asian or Slavik country. Thick vowels and slipped consonants.

Kudos to them for learning English, but I can’t understand them. I know only a smattering of Spanish and French and could not make myself understood in either language, so I’m not disparaging that part. When they begin talking about my computer or my credit card or my Social Security I know they are trying to cheat me, and since I can’t understand them, I start out by asking them to repeat everything two or three times, then I ask them to spell stuff. I move on to asking the name of their company, phone number, and where they are located, repeatedly. Then I ask then to repeat the name of the company and why in the world are they calling me. I have been accused of hosting Russian hackers, I’ve been threatened with shut-down of my computer, my internet access, my Social Security card, and my bank account. I continue my inquisition as they continue trying to take advantage of what they think is an old stupid woman. I ask them how much they make, if their company gives them minimum wage, health insurance, pension benefits, union representation. I never admit to owning a computer, an iPad, iPhone, or tablet. When they ask if I own one, I tell them it’s none of their business and ask them (repeatedly) why they are calling me. It goes on until I get bored (record is 20 minutes! That’s a persistent thief!) and as the conversation goes on I tell them I’m not going to fall for their lies and thievery and ask if I’ve wasted enough of their time yet. I never use profanity. Boy, do some of them get mad! I’ve been cussed out and I don’t cuss back, I just laugh and when I’ve had enough I hang up. If enough people scam the scammers maybe we can stop them and they will go on to honest work. Or not. In the meantime, I am amused to use up the time of cheaters and thieves so they have less time to cheat somebody else who might not be savvy to their ill intent.

Another thing I enjoy is looking at houses. Virtually. Zillow, or Christies, or houses of the rich and famous if I’m feeling fantastical. I can look anywhere. I can look inside and outside. There are satellite views, and street views, and virtual tours. And I can critique the house without a sales person hanging over my shoulder. Now, understand, I’ve not done a lot of house shopping and I’m not in the market to buy. Mostly I have kind of just happened upon opportunities, and none of which was more than decent simple roof-doesn’t-leak homes. Even a poor woman can dream and I do have house fantasies, though most of my house fantasies include (trusted) maids and house staff, and I’m nowhere near that kind of financial bracket.

I know what I like and I’m critical. Worse, I’m picky. I like hardwood floors, but I like them a certain color. I like dishwashers in kitchens but the placement is important. I don’t like cupboards over the dishwasher because I can’t reach the cupboards without unpacking the dishwasher onto the counter and then into the cupboards, which is double duty having to touch the dishes twice. I don’t like cupboards over a washer/dryer unit either because of limited accessibility. I like fireplaces but I don’t like them crammed into corners, and some of what they call mantels, oh brother, or the brick or stonework they have chosen I don’t grok. I don’t like TVs mounted above fireplaces, especially irritating if the TV is not to scale with the fireplace or the room. I like toilets with LOTS of space around them, ditto showers, and big bathtubs that are easy and safe to get into, and if I had my druthers the toilet would have a distance of several feet away from the sink or the tub. I don’t like microwaves mounted above cooktops, too high and too easy to spill hot foods on cook or cooktop. I think every cooktop should have a range hood over it, even if the cooktop is in an island counter. If the staging is wrong or furniture isn’t to scale with the size of the house or the room it makes me crazy.

All kinda uppity fancy of me to say since I’m currently not a woman of means and all I’ve ever done is make do. I’ve never had an art, architecture, or interior design class. I’ve never done construction or remodeling of any kind other than what Dad let us do when we were kids during dormant times in the garden space with a few pallets of wood and never a hammer or nails because he was sure we’d lose them. Frankly, even painting is beyond me. There are simply some things that feel right to me. I laugh at some of those remodel shows, when I shudder at what they do new and think, oh I wouldn’t have done it that way. I can’t do the work, but I sure would like to tell somebody what I want it to look like.

It’s all a dream; I can barely take care of what I have and I just want to keep the roof from leaking. Looking and critiquing amuses me, so I will have to put that into the category of fun as well. I might enjoy going to open houses, but I’d need to have somebody I trust to drive, and take the time I would like to kvetch while I’m there. Haven’t done it, so I don’t know. Maybe I wouldn’t like it. I wouldn’t be shopping, I’d be playing.

I love live theater but that costs money to attend. I love garage sales and thrift stores, but I don’t like spending money since there isn’t any fluid capital in my life and I really don’t need more stuff, but it’s fun to look. If I go I almost always find something I love. I already have an abundance of stuff I love and I only have to clean to find lovelies I’ve forgotten. I’m learning how to love stuff with my eyes without a desire to own and find more enjoyment in spending time with whoever drove me. I’m not crafty but take me into a fabric or craft store and I want tons of material and yarn, and I know better than to spend my money because the material sits around looking pretty and gets dusty and rarely turns into a (finished) craft project.

Last summer in honor of five years since the death of our mother my sister and I embarked on a quilt adventure. Mom was a master quilter. I can’t sew a straight stitch to save my life, and my sister got the art gene from Mom, but not the sewing gene (fortunately the sewing gene skipped a generation and one of our nieces sews up a storm and quilts as well, and her daughter is interested so we might have hope for the future). In my county many of the barns have a wooden panel with a quilt block pattern attached to the barn. There are more than 60 in my county alone and more coming. We research addresses, and with her trusted driving and GPS device we devise a day’s tour finding the addresses and getting pictures. It’s fun spending the day reminiscing, fixing the world and our families with our words, and listening to each other’s so, so similar challenges. And we have a quick one day road trip. Not quite like the Sunday drives we used to do as a family when were we all small in the family station wagon, lunch packed into the back and kids everywhere as we often had cousins along. But I’ll take it. Time with a sister you trust after all the things you’ve been through, that’s not only lucky, that’s priceless.

Enough about what I do for fun. I’m sure if I gave it more thought I’d come up with a few more items. What about you? What do you do for fun? Do you like family trips to the beach? A romp in the park? Camping in the woods? Visiting museums or art galleries? Quietly reading a good book? All of the above, or something else? So much to do, so little time.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Winter is slow to leave this year, though the equinox next week comes around as usual. I guess it only takes two early springs to expect spring to come early. The earth is taking its time warming this year, but it will come around with a riot of color by the end of March. I hope Mother Nature agrees with me. In the meantime she leaves me with my favorite brown and gray mud puddle which the birds love. Another view of my favorite yard, belonging to a neighbor, with the little white and purple crocus heads popping up all over. A row of pretty pink heather and yellow daffodils in a hellstrip near City Hall. The pink rhododendron by the aquatic center that blooms first in the season has been spotted. Spring is on!

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} BlacKkKlansman (2018, rated R), a Spike Lee production taken from the autobiography of Ron Stallworth in which the first black police officer of Colorado Springs sets up an infiltration of the KKK. Opening scene is the scene from Gone with the Wind (1939, not rated) where the dead and dying lie covering the streets of Atlanta, and the final scenes include recent film from Charlottesville, both meant to encompass the vast amount of time some of America has invested in creating social difference because of the color of ones’ skin. * Colette (2018, rated R), a period biopic with Kiera Knightley as the French author Colette famed for her 1944 novel Gigi which became a stage play adapted by Anita Loos, and a 1958 movie directed by Vincent Minelli. Her rotter of a first husband stole her work, claimed it as his own, cheated her out of her work’s income (oh, this happens so much!), and she re-created herself as a performer and divorced him to resolve her situation. Considered a radical author and woman in her time, she prevailed.

Currently Reading
The Witch Elm (2018, fiction) by Tana French. A young man who has everything going for him, good looks, good job, good girlfriend, good luck, is attacked in his own home and suffers a brain injury. Anybody who has been through a brain injury knows it can radically change one’s life. The story is just beginning as the young man moves in with his dying uncle in the old family home for a few weeks. Portentous? Possibly. * Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (2013, nutrition) by Jo Robinson. Everything we should be taught about food while in elementary school. (Me: rip out half the school “play yards” kids don’t play in anymore and plant gardens to use for math and science lessons, let the students tend them, teach them how to prepare and eat what they grow, then let them write and draw about what they grew and did and ate. Creative education with real life applications. Everybody has to eat. Win-win-win.)

This week I have been grateful for:

  • My mostly quiet life.
  • Thinking. As long as it takes.
  • Civil discourse. Conversations about controversial subjects without anger or name-calling.
  • Some things that feel like luxury in my life, like rising in the morning when I feel like it.
  • My yard filled with fat robins and little black-headed brown birds enjoying my favorite mud puddle.
  • The greenness of spring and the number of birds in my semi-suburban/rural/smallish town area. Hopeful for the survival of this planet.
  • How nice the staff at my aquatic center are.
  • Finally remembering to soak my new swimsuit in vinegar (for color retention) so I can wear it next week before the other shreds in public. Been there.
  • The swimmer’s dad who bragged to me when his daughter moved to the next swim level. She might be about eight years old and I’ve watched her through three or four sessions now and the skill and confidence she has gained is priceless. You’d think I was her grammy, I’m so proud of her. Just part of the village I believe in.
  • Using up an almost expired package of biscuit dough with an almost expired can of apple pie filling to make yum-o-fake-o pies. They turned out OK. And I made them on March 14, pi day (3.14). We’re eating them any way.
  • Fixing my favorite zucchini, garlic, and mozzarella dish, and it was as good I remember.
  • Vinegar, baking soda, and lemons. Nature’s best cleaners.
  • Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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2 Responses to Gratitude Sunday: What Do You Do For Fun?

  1. piratesorka says:

    Gah… Kids can be unbelievably vicious and mean. You were being threatened with a leap out a window… I remember going to this house with my parents and while they visited with their friends, their kids were busy terrorizing me!. I remember very well having a knife against my throat and being threatened. Horrid kids. Nightmares with kid faces. Then there was the farm family we knew. Those kids were wild and lacked any sort of civilized behavior….they broke one of my favorite things: my Disneyland play set ( it was a copy of early disneyland. had they not broke so much of it, I would have had a tidy item to have made some real money off of… but nooooo, they were farmer terroritsts. Much much later Mom wanted to know why I did not keep that play set in better shape. . She was shocked but….didn’t do a thing with the answer I gave her. You know, I sort of grew up not likiing most other kids….but I was also desperate to have someone to play with.. Sad.


    • sassy kas says:

      Yeah, I don’t get why. It’s not like most parents set out to teach their kids to be mean. But kids need only witness parental behavior to get an idea of how to be mean. Or they are mean to others because their parent/s/teachers/caregivers are mean (or worse -neglectful) to them. I know what you mean about not liking most kids. And then when our parents don’t stand up for us, wow, betrayed again. So many people never grow out of that meanness and we wonder what’s wrong with our world (now being reflected by mr. majormean in the WH)


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