Leaping to conclusions is not real exercise! (Right?)

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Deb’s office in retirement, in our four-season porch (photos by author)

I see Deb standing by the kitchen window after we’re done exercising but before breakfast, and she is clearly pondering.¹

ME: Whatcha thinkin’ ‘bout, Debster?

DEB: Trying to figure out how exercise will happen after I go back to work.

Deb is not actually coming out of retirement or anything. This is a part-time job with a local tax firm who needs additional capable bodies in February, March, and April. Deb worked for them last year, right after she took retirement from her university job.² It was cut short by the start of the Trump Pandemic lockdown in PA in March, but they let her know they would want her back in 2021. And last month, they followed up to make sure she will be available! …

A wedding reception, Pittsburgh area, later in 1999

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Pexels

Edward and Kyle made their way into the reception room cautiously, after confirming the door said “CLOVERFIELD-MICHAELSON WEDDING” in a carefully lettered sign.

There was a DJ playing music next to what looked suspiciously like a dance floor. When did E learn to like dancing? I leave her alone for a couple decades and she changes on me! How rude! A pretty teenage girl in an elegant off-the-shoulder gown spotted them and dashed over. She threw her arms around Edward, taking him by surprise. “Uncle Eddie! You made it! I was getting so worried that you wouldn’t! …

and a five-year-old

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Afternoon walk
grandniece and her great-aunt
scuffing through pine needles
peering at deer tracks
“Oh! A feather!”
and another
and another
and a bunch
and a BUNCH
where some sad bird
became some glad meal

How to explain?
Circle of life?
Nature is cruel?
Pillow fight gone wrong?
Do not be sad, because—

“Oh, some cat must have caught a bird”
as the young hand
grasps the older one
to bring her along
seeking things of interest

So the holidays are over and the catalogs are done? Not at all, there are POST-CHRISTMAS SALES!

I’m coming into the kitchen after getting the mail.

ME: So! Remember Dennett was ribbing me about getting so many old-fashioned catalogs, and why did we get so many? And I was going to tell her when it has been a week since the last one?

DEB: Uh-huh?

ME: (holding up catalog from Vermont Country Store) Resetting the counter. Again.

Why do we get so many catalogs? We encourage the S.O.B.s, of course. …

If you observe closely, you will be no wiser than I am, probably

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Our backyard, in early November. It’s pretty, and I don’t have any cute dog photos I haven’t already used.

Since Roz Warren published the list of her most-popular stories, I thought I would borrow the idea.

Roz used Reads as a metric, which makes sense because she gets paid for her articles based on reading time. Me, I still haven’t joined the Medium Partner Program, so I get paid in ego-boosts, not bucks. So in descending order of Fans who clapped once or more for my stories, we have:

Conversation with My Wife (179.1)

I started doing write-ups of funny, strange, or cute items from our mail catalogs back in May 2017. It’s an easy schtick, and people get some chuckles. Like most of my Conversations, this was published in The Junction edited by Stephen M. …

Pleasing people by riding bikes and walking in the rain… or not

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View out our back porch window a few days ago; all melted since. This view is prettier than now, IMHO.

First day of the new year, sitting in our four-season back porch, sheltered from rain that is a fraction of a degree above freezing. Both looking at our electronic gizmos, of course.

ME: (looking at my iPad) Debster, am I a people-pleaser?

DEB: (working on her laptop, but still listening) Depends on the people, honey. Your sister? I don’t think so. Me? Oh, very much so!

Karen DeBonis has a book in progress, wherein she talks about what she learned as a mother of a son with a brain tumor, and how her learned traits of making everyone happy (or trying to) only made things worse for her son (and, ultimately, her). She has an email newsletter that she uses to share things she’s learned. …

So there’s a market for “boyfriend” fashions for women, but not “girlfriend” fashions for men? Or is that just the catalogs WE get?

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Photo by FLOUFFY on Unsplash. I don’t have any photos of Deb (or Linda) in sleepwear that I feel is appropriate for sharing, so a dog in pajamas will have to do. Plus Roz Warren suggests a photo of a dog if you don’t know what else to use.

So we’re still looking through Christmas catalogs. And still finding new stuff.

New to some of us, anyway.

ME: “Boyfriend pajamas”? That’s a thing?

DEB: I guess. I’ve never understood the whole boyfriend shirts, boyfriend jeans, boyfriend jackets, whatever. I don’t get the appeal.

ME: All I remember Linda¹ borrowing was my sweatshirt, because my apartment was always “too cold.” But she wore that a LOT while we were dating.² I don’t think you ever borrowed any of my stuff?

DEB: (thinking) One time, it had been a bad day at work, and we hadn’t planned anything but I just wanted to get out of there. We went home to your place, and this must have been before you gave me a dresser drawer and a closet of my own because you loaned me corduroys, a shirt, and comfy shoes. Just stuff to hang out in so I could get out of work clothes. And this must have been a Friday because I wouldn’t have worn the same clothes to work two days in a row.³ …

So there’s this creek, see, and it goes where it wants to go…

We have found we like to go wandering along local trails in our retirement.

The county trail in Lancaster County runs along the Susquehanna River, thanks to the remains of the 19th Century canal and later railroad rights of way. While York County (on the other side of the river) has a hiking trail (The Heritage Rail Trail County Park), the group who established it lacked suitable available land next to the river, so their trail follows the Codorus Creek. Which is lovely, in many places. But eventually the creek wanders through the middle of the City of York.

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A nice section of the city part of the trail. Probably delightful in the spring or autumn. All photos by author.

DEB: Canada geese ahead. …

Imagination ready? 🎄🎅🏾🤶🏼🎁

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photo by author

Imagination ready? Let’s walk around, the two of us,
take a little stroll through the rooms of the heart.

Atrium sinistrum (duck your head coming through);
ventriculus sinister — space to stretch out!
Ventriculus dexter — workroom, shipping room;
atrium dextrum’s an old receiving dock.

Look at the blue blood, oxy poor, lungs bound,
look at the red blood, life blood, life spark.
Tough pericardium keeps it all together,
keeps it all together but it can’t keep it out.

Listen to the heart pound, blood flow, automatic
background percussion, but the melody’s faint.

Tramping around in the cold and dark. I blame Gail Boenning.¹

So Gail put this out in the Gift of Shared Kindness publication:

And it gives me an idea.

ME: Feel like a stroll around the neighborhood?

DEB: (checks out the window to confirm the time of day) At night? When it’s below freezing already with dropping temperatures? With a major snowstorm on its way to slam us in a few hours? (pauses) Sure. Why?

ME: I printed a bunch of these. (show her the quarter-page cards I’d printed out double-sided on index card stock; text nearly verbatim from what Gail was doing)

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You probably can’t tell, because we’re in disguise, but that’s me on the left, Deb on the right. Deb gets credit (blame?) for the matching face masks. I’d love to see what shows up on the doorbell cameras!

DEB: “In this year of so many unknowns, thank you for lighting and delighting our December. Your decorative display brings us joy whenever we pass by. Merry Christmas, A Grateful Neighbor” And…? …


Jack Herlocker

Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.

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