Ten Random Observations at the Start of a New Year

10. Our Wilmington, North Carolina neighborhood has sanitary sewer covers made in India. They have a certain beauty to them evocative of mandala designs, a repeating pattern I think of as a sort of graphic mantra. Imagine the journey those heavy cast iron covers made from the point of manufacture in South Asia to this North American coastal bedroom community.

9. I wear ugly shoes and I don’t care, shoes with chunky soles made of squishy material, or with a wide, wide toe box to accommodate my wide, aging ballerina feet. They’re not feminine, and certainly not sexy. This is liberating in so many ways. I’ve tried wearing sexy shoes in my life and they only cause misery and occasionally injury. Why on earth would I want to do that to myself.

8. Smart technology ain’t always that. Exhibit A: Why does my Apple watch prompt me to stand when I’m…standing? And applaud me for standing when I’ve been sitting on my arse for two hours? I don’t need no dang participation trophies, thanks.

7. I had quite forgotten about the singular satisfaction of hours spent alternately standing and sitting at the dining table clutching a tiny jigsaw puzzle piece between two fingers, scrutinizing a broken landscape, looking at the box cover, scrutinizing the landscape again, and then at last snapping the piece into its correct slot. There must be more of this in the coming year.

6. The planet is a better place for Betty White having walked it, and how lucky are we to have lived the same time she did.

5. Witnessing a child, a difficult one, step into adult shoes and finally feel comfortable wearing them is exceptionally rewarding.

4. I have this thing called high cholesterol, my new North Carolina doctor recently informed me, and then gave me marching orders to stop eating fat and salt. Fair enough, been there, done that before. I observed to The Chef, possibly to make myself feel better about this new world order, If you died tomorrow, you’d still be able to say in your lifetime you tasted All The Tastes, that you weren’t deprived of anything. That’s how I see this. He nodded and said without hesitation, Another way of looking at it is, All The Tastes are what got you into this predicament in the first place.

3. Here is the best descriptive sentence I’ve read in a long time, from a work of fiction called Covenant Spring: “They were sacks of gelatin, grotesque farting lumps of meat stuffing bread and grease into their salivating maws, masticating like gurgling slugs.” If you have ever stopped at one of the service areas on the New York State Thruway, or visited any American mall, you know precisely whereof author Christopher Watson speaks. A bit too much reality? Maybe, but sometimes we Americans need to look in the mirror. See number 4 above. Disclaimer: I am not a grotesque farting lump of meat.

2. People are not the same wherever you go, but thus far the people in Wilmington strike us as genuinely worthwhile in the main. Exhibit A: One particular octogenarian in this neighborhood who keeps us all honest but hands out affection without reserve. The planet is better for her having walked it, too.

1. Life is emphatically better with a nine-year-old dog to put things in perspective.

There are no guarantees in life, gentle reader, but let us try at least to point our ships in the right direction, be civil to one another, and make 2022 a good year.

6 thoughts on “Ten Random Observations at the Start of a New Year

  1. I’m saddened that you think insulting people with weight issues is OK. In the many books of fiction that I have read, including the one you read, our physical bodies are always described negatively. Our clothes never seem to fit. A button on a shirt is ready to pop. Seams are strained. Our belly is overflowing the belt. Sausage-like fingers reach with difficulty to grasp something. Our stockinged legs rub together making an embarrassing noise as we lumber off. To quote Stephen King, “He had a pizza grease stain the size of Texas on his t-shirt.” People of other shapes and sizes could have that happen as well.
    If that sentence you quoted was describing any race, ethnicity or someone with any kind of disability, it would never be published. We seem to be the last group that it is OK to insult.
    Obesity is a disease and weight regulation is a complex process that has only started to be researched. It is certainly not a matter of eating less and exercising more. If that worked, you wouldn’t see those horrid people at the rest stops and we would not have a billion dollar weight loss industry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Heather—

      First, thanks for being civil: I do appreciate that. Second, I don’t think insulting people with weight issues (I’m in that group) is okay, and I don’t think I did that in this post. I did jab myself for where I am right now (I have spent my life alternately thin and ripped and quite round and soft; without exception, I feel better, and my doctors have said markers for health are better, when I’ve been thin). I was struck by Christopher Watson’s descriptive language, and still am. He is pointing out the ridiculous, and I don’t care what shape and size these folks are, the scene is ridiculous. I *just* listened to a story on NPR highlighting what you mention, that obesity is complex; this isn’t new news. I disagree with your contention “…it is certainly not a matter of eating less and exercising more.” For some folks like myself it happens to be. My guess is there are also lots of Jim Fixxes in the world with “a grease stain the size of Texas” on their T-shirts. It is descriptive writing, an observation and that is all. Not meant to target or insult, and my apologies if I insulted you. All the best to you and yours in 2022. For my part, I’m trying to rewind a weight loss tape where I made good strides in 2020 and then slid backward in 2021. Just a goal for me, and not for the world. P.S., You are an excellent writer.

      Cheers,
      Deb

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  2. Hi Deb,

    Saying I’m a good writer coming from you is like saying I won the Nobel Prize in Writing! I share your short stories all the time. I just want to keep reading them. And I miss Charlie by the way.
    You are right in that you didn’t insult anyone. Your commetary triggered a letter I’ve been writing in my mind for several years now and it just gave birth as a reply.
    The descriptives are in poor taste. I know you work in the publishing field. Do you have any suggestions as to who I could contact regarding the issue as a whole? As you can tell, I’m passionate about trying to change things even if it’s just a small step.

    Heather

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    1. Heather, I work in digital marketing, which is a different sphere than publishing. I do have some friends and coworkers who might have a better answer to this. Give me a day or two to ask and let me get back to you. Re: Charley. Someday I’ll get back to that storyline, which is asking to be a novel. I need time for it and right now am bereft of it. ~D

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  3. Love the observations about your new environment and life in general. I’m fighting the Cholesterol battle with diet and exercise… for 5 years now and have avoided statins. It seems if I limit red meat and eggs I can maintain without drugs. Of course I’m due for another test… I’ve got my fingers crossed! Give Scout a pat for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far, no statins for me. Recheck in six months to see whether I moved the needle with dietary changes. Chef David has jumped on the bandwagon with me as a show of support so we’re both making changes. Scoutie is still doing well, says his vet, at age nine. Still running with me most days, and that is something.

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