Friday, July 27, 2007

Silk Reflections

I wonder if the spider, with the new awesome web I saw in the garden this morning, is like me when I am sewing. I’m wondering if he’s back in his special hiding place under that curled leaf, examining his web and thinking “Oh drat, look at that. I have a hitch, a bloody mistake, on that far corner. And what’s more it’s too late, I’ve gone too far. I can’t fix it now.”

And so he continues on, but he’s so painfully aware of the flaw in his existence, the misappropriated thread—an irksome thing that digs deep into his mind.

But still, what’s done is done and he must go on living with the realization he could have done better. It can’t be remedied now cause he knows full well that the much-depleted bolt of silk remaining in his pocket-pouch is only enough to shrink-wrap the sustenance he will need to survive. And that one ligature involves a thread that is too essential to structural integrity to remedy with a patch or a bit of darning. And furthermore, if he could patch it, would it then become a web of deceit?

And so he doesn’t have the luxury of starting over with lessons learned and expert application of that learning.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

And Toothpaste Matters?

Oh, aren’t we in such a state over countries that would copy the packaging of our toothpaste and then import it here with unsafe ingredients? And so distressed about designer purses, gizmos, and food stuffs from outside sources that look like, but are not, authentically what they claim to be. This kind of wicked mimicry is such a mortal sin that we scream for politicians to do something and now we’re reading labels judiciously and looking real hard for spelling mistakes or manufacturing sources to see if we have the real thing? What’s with that? Why are we surprised? Seems like, we’re all in this together?

Let’s start with the small stuff. Dry chicken soup or bouillon cubes. Did that stuff ever see a chicken? My mother used to say, “They grind up chemicals into a powder, then wave a chicken over it, chanting ‘chicken, chicken, who’s got the chicken?’ and with that magic act, it becomes authentically something derived from chicken. Can that be denied, when Marcel who works at the manufacturing plant is asked “what do you do?”

And she readily replies, “Each and every day, I bring in THE chicken –through the front door and out the back.”

And beans and bacon in the can? What is that speck of white on top? That’s not bacon. That is simply a scrap of some gluttonous discarded thing. And some sludge bottom-feeder fish is dressed out prettily in firm white strips with pink highlights and sold as crab meat. And does a fast-food hamburger taste like a real hamburger? Not.

But no one can deny that this is what we want. Don’t we clamor for faux fur, faux leather, and faux meat? And fake breasts, fake eyelashes, and fake lips.

Returning to the food fakery, I think the whole mimicry thing is exploding beyond reason when even vegetable protein is fraudulently disguised, and this disguise so welcomed. Manipulated in sacrilegious ways to mimic hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, etc? What’s with that? If you don’t like it, don’t want to eat it, shun it, then why yell with delight over this kind of mimicry?

But it goes deeper than that? Our leaders make speeches all the time that pose as their own heartfelt passions and convictions, but who wrote them? Not them. So no wonder when their words come back to haunt them, they insist, “I didn’t say that.”

Which in truth, they didn’t. It was just a mimicked utterance from the lips of another with an understanding so diverse from their own, that they don’t even get it.

And certainly, when it comes to one of the best and most basic gratuities of our existence -- I’m talking sex now, since it’s also part of the fraud – sure, the righteous-minded rant against paper, film, and video displays of sexual matters. But I don’t hear anyone yelling, “Fraud!” because the mimicry is such a bad copy that manifests brutality and cruelty rather than what should rightfully manifest the delicacy of lace and the sweetest of heart-felt emotions.

A few are calling out “exploitation of women” but even that is not the case. Whether “exploit” is used as a noun, meaning “a masterpiece or work of genius” or a verb meaning ‘to take clever advantage of a situation’, this kind of stuff is far more fraudulent mimicry than exploitation could ever be.

Shakespeare and Chaucer were close, in the hot zone, when it comes to the authenticity of sex and the integral connection with true romance. I guess the biggest reason I shudder at sex-education of children is because I assume, and quite safely I expect, there is no real attempt to convey the real essence and meaning of the act. No Shakespeare or Chaucer element. Which means the instruction is similar to explaining the workings of a windmill without taking into account the force and necessity of the wind.

But in my heart, hope springs eternal. And with that hope, if, and when, sexually-explicit materials find the path to genuine authenticity, I am positive-certain that with that new cultural mindset, “Gone With The Wind” will have another round of even greater popularity than previously. We might even end up re-examining remakes of the romantic liaisons of Captain Kirk of "Star Trek". And children in Sex-Ed classes will weep with wonder at a story not yet told, rather than react with hysterical laughter at details fraudulently disguised as nothing more than fascinating physical maneuverings.

Makes me wonder why toothpaste even matters.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Since I retired it seems like everyone who visits me leaves emotional problems at my door. I don’t want them but I still get them. It’s true that with less physical participation in the world around me, reflection is my prime occupation. So with this being my current thought agenda, of course that is what visitors, in all graciousness, are going to discuss with me.

Certainly, we could discuss more practical things, but as a retiree, no longer propelled by the forces associated with rung-climbing, financial gains, or glowing acknowledgments of progress made, I’m not exactly in the loop. And furthermore, it seems to me, that I am suddenly finding that an age gap of a meager 10 years readily explodes into a gap of gigantic proportion when I engage with my juniors in conversations that focus on the dynamics of competing in the work-a-day world. I guess the forces that used to push me to play at politics by subduing my real spirit, or applying the right spin, or speaking with wary reservation, have fallen into disuse, and thus pretty much caved to my failing memory.

But in discussing emotional problems with others, I have discovered something surprising. There was, and never will be, a generational gap in the basic needs of the human soul for love, hope, happiness, and courage no matter how successful or famous we may become. These needs remain for all time, and for all people, as fundamental as our physical need for food, shelter, and clothing.

Ultimately the basic essentials of life, whether physical or emotional, never change even in a world strained by shifting tides, seasonal changes, and weather that coddles one area while badgering another. A world, where almost daily, our surroundings are altered in unexpected and spectacular ways. Where issues of tolerance stagger far past or fall well short of the equity mark. Where environmental concerns raise us to a panic level. Where moral conflicts drive us to utter distraction. Makes one long for a simpler life, doesn’t it?

And so, it seems to me, if we can return to a simple emotional life in the way so many people long to return to ‘the simple (physical) life’, everything will become mighty fine. Simplifying might allow us to find soul space outside of the rushing tide of greed, competitiveness, and pack-thinking about money, success, notoriety, self-fulfillment, and self-enhancement. And in that new freed-up space something else can take root and thrive – something soft and gentle and comforting.

I’m thinking maybe peace and solid appreciation for each new day. Like the consequences of industrial effluent on the climate, too much emotional effluent creates a sea of toxins in the soul. A massive thing called corruption.

Yes, our physical environment needs protection, but so does our emotional environment.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Where is the Aspic?

Today’s blistering heat has me thinking about salads. But unfortunately, the lettuce in the garden is dismal. Most of it didn’t even come up. And so, without lettuce, and my determination not to make the dreaded trip to town, I’m going to have to be creative.

Still, even without lettuce, I’m thinking salad. Maybe carrot salad. Haven’t made that for a long time. The kids loved it when they were young. Grated fresh carrots with a few raisins, some salt and pepper, and mayonnaise dressing. Yum. I could make that.

And then jelly salads come to mind. It’s been even longer since I made a vegetable jelly salad. Jelly fruit salads, I make often, but I have almost completely forgotten about the other – vegetable jelly salads.

Oh, at one time they were all the rage. Every community potluck supper had scores of vegetable jelly salads. They were cool, colorful, and as delightful on a hot day as a big juicy slice of watermelon. I still remember though, how the men complained at community picnics that there should be more meat and gravy and less jelly salads. But, to women, they were art. Creations and blends of color and texture cool to the taste and wondrous to the eye.

Meanwhile the men mocked those who ate them. And looked with utter disdain at the long line up of jelly salads winking at them with knowing eyes from their sparkling beds of cool smooth flesh with the semi-solid resilience of firm breasts. I swear when the men walked by those jellies even quivered a bit just to tease.

As I reminisce about those days, I remember one jelly salad that was ever popular. It resembled solidified regurgitation. Tasty, but visually an unattractive concoction of lime jello, cottage cheese, mini-marshmallows and walnuts and maybe some other things. Can’t know cause I never made one but if you shut your eyes and didn’t think about how it looked, it was exquisite.

As for Hub, he wanted none of it, with one exception. He couldn’t get enough of the tomato aspic laced or mounded with cooked shrimp and kicked up a notch with fresh green pepper. The rest of the men refused to touch the aspic. They scoffed and said they didn’t want anything that probably should be eaten with ‘an ass pick’ instead of a fork.

But ass-picks or not, I made shrimp-tomato-aspic frequently and a host of other vegetable jelly salads starting with a base of lemon, orange, or lime jello with a tablespoon of vinegar and some salt stirred in. Then the combinations one could add were only limited by one’s imagination. Grated cabbage and carrot, diced apple or green pepper, salmon flakes, chicken bits, tiny onions, finely cut radishes, cucumber, peas, beans, even corn, shrimp or olives. And crowning complementary fruit bits such as fresh apple, orange segments, or tart cranberries.

Today I’m thinking that it is hot enough I wouldn’t mind a taster’s choice of jelly salads to choose from. And also I can’t help wondering what happened that made vegetable jelly salads fall into such disfavor. Maybe it was because the kitchen was becoming too cluttered with cupboards overflowing with Tupperware and jelly molds of every size, shape, and description. I can’t believe it was solely because of the ambiguous connotation of ‘aspic’.

So shall we have a vegetable jelly salad today? Grated carrot and apple or would you prefer an aspic?

Monday, July 16, 2007

As If

Yesterday was an incredibly hot day. And because we had so much company, there was no opportunity to take the puppies for their daily walk. It seemed unfair to ask any of our guests to leave the coolness of the house to join us in a blistering dog walk so it didn’t happen.

Old Dog and other dog were satisfied that no one should be wandering around in that kind of heat. But not Dough-Gee. Dough-Gee knew we had missed the important routine of a dog-walk. So it was after dark when he nudged my leg and then sat there staring, staring, staring, and shifting his weight from one front leg to the other. He would not let it be so eventually I took the flashlight and away we went at eleven o’clock for a dog walk.

Thunder was rumbling and there was lightning in the distance, but bravely I started into the woods on our usual dog-walking trails. And that’s when it happened. An invisible swarm of aggressive and widely varied insects attacked me from every side. I could feel fluttering wing membranes, brittle spindle-legs, sharp toe-nails and stingers threatening to puncture exposed flesh. I could also feel the anger. The source of that anger…puzzling?

Scientifically, maybe because of the electricity in the air it was a quark thing brought about by the attraction of opposite charges or repulsion of similar convections. More practically, maybe it was annoyance by the aerial dwellers of the forest of my midnight-invasion into their privacy. Or for them, maybe visually, it was fear sparked by the UFO-beam of my flashlight. Whatever it was, in two minutes flat, I was strongly buffeted on all sides and in two minutes flat solidly convinced that we were being ‘bounced’ off the premises. I found it unbelievable and astonishing how adeptly the message was conveyed.

It was an aggressive attack of winged creatures with barbs, arrows, claws, and all their grand cache of hidden weapons of mass obstruction. In the darkness, those aerial creatures, so engaged in thumping me from every side, though invisible, seemed as big as pterodactyls. But I guess that is how it is. If you investigate a tiny tooth cavity with your tongue, rather than in a mirror, it will feel as big as a saucer. Likewise, when we feel a thing with touch rather than examine it with the eye, it becomes 7x its original size. (I am tempted to make another general observation here, but I don’t want to be crass.)

But I deviate from the topic…

And so, Dough-Gee and I hurriedly turned from the path, crossed the garden, and walked down the gravel road. We were thankful and relieved that the attackers promptly retreated.

But there was a lesson learned. The lesson learned is how wrong we are if we think only the wretchedness of the human spirit can transfer tangible feelings of discrimination and hate. Insects are just as capable without physically stinging or biting. Dough-Gee and I were not harmed physically but we still feel in our souls the sting of ostracism. Of unwarranted hate and rejection.

But I’m not a child anymore. I’m a “senior” by generous definition. And although with age, I’m weaker physically, I’m a whole lot tougher emotionally. Tough like the Rotweiler blood providing emotional courage for Dough-Gee while physically he caves to the inherent weakness of short crooked legs and his Basset Hound blood. Physically, I am weak like him, but emotionally, I am brave like him. So, with time and maturity, now I stand up for myself regardless of what others think.

And that is just how it is. And so, backed my Dough-Gee’s courage and my own, I turned. And with arms akimbo, and hands on my hips, I yelled with unabashed courage into the blackness of the woods.

"F--- you! It’s our world too, you know!"

(smug now. Hurt gone)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Good-Humor Hints & Funk Remedies

I’ve told you before, that I, and only I, am solely responsible for the pleasantness or unpleasantness of each new day.

Now I haven’t always thought that way. When I was a young thing I thought I was on this earth for others to acknowledge, entertain, and amuse, but I’m wiser than that now. I know better than to put that kind of heavy unreasonable burden on my mate or offspring. So, in realizing this, I also realize that most days I simply make my own choice. But sometimes, I can’t. And on those days amusement has to come from somewhere. Without a small tickle or brief amusement, I can’t raise myself out of the pit.

This morning I was in the pit. Talking positively to myself while I washed and dressed didn’t help. Writing a list of things to be grateful for didn’t help. So I remained in a funk while I drank my morning java and then doggedly loaded laundry. While I was downstairs I grabbed a loaf of bread and meat for supper from the freezer. Still in a funk.

And then I laugh.

The bread I pull from the freezer has a small sticker that says:
“Apr 30/07
Heavy Rye.
Maybe not?”

I chuckle as I remember the day I mixed that bread and baked it and then didn’t know if I put in any yeast. And when Hub asks me what the sticker on that bread loaf says and I tell him, he laughs too.

And the label on the package of beef says, “Pound fast, cook slow.” This was a cheap cut of meat with very little marbling so though sliced into lovely steaks, I wanted to be reminded when I went to cook it that it was not meat for quick grilling.

Maybe these little chits don’t have the same impact as a good laugh over a comical situation with friends that come for coffee and maybe it isn’t rolling-on-the-floor humor. Maybe only someone like Mr. Bean (or his teddy-bear) could appreciate this kind of warp. But still some days it is enough to make me a lot more cheery than I might otherwise be.

I guess what you need to understand is with my memory fading, the notes in my deepfreeze are as surprising to find and pleasing to read as letters from an outside source. On a bad day, like today, it is particularly nice to know someone is/was thinking of me.

What funk? Who? Me?

Nah…It’s going to be another fun day.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Getting What He Deserves

Today (June 22nd) is our anniversary. Thirty plus.

So over coffee, Hub says to me, “I can’t believe with all the divorce and separation going on that you and I are still together. But then, when I was a young man, I knew what I was doing. I’m nobody’s fool.

They say ‘love is blind’ but it doesn’t have to be if love-struck couples would just pause to consider how the other would react if things suddenly turned bad. To keenly observe before marriage how vindictive and revengeful the other could become.”

So I had to ask, “When one is courting and madly in love, believing they could not live or breath without that love, how can these things be discovered?”

“In small ways,” he said. “Through paying attention to how a person reacts to being squeezed in traffic, manipulated by others, or being told by a clerk that the item that is too large or too small is neither exchangeable or refundable. How they react to close friends when they discover those they trust can suddenly no longer be trusted?”

He went on to remind me of situations of my youth. Among other things, the day I discovered that a dear friendship had gone bad and the time I was refused the promotion at work that should have happened. And how I railed with tears and disappointment, but how quickly I pulled myself back together, once I got past the initial upheaval.

These were the tests of my underlying nature, painful to remember but Hub says I passed them all. The failed promotion interfered with my good nature longer than the other things, but Hub said he couldn’t judge me to harshly for that cause he would have been mad too. In the interview I was asked if I would do a task outside of my job description and I responded that if I had the time and it would not interfere with specified responsibilities, “I wouldn’t not do it.” And so later, the reason I was given for having failed the interview was because I used a ‘double-negative in a sentence!’

So now Hub told me, “I was sorry the failed promotion thing happened but at the same time glad it happened. That was the situation that clearly told me you had a sense of honor that made it possible for you to either swallow disappointment or separate yourself from it. To forgive or at the least forget, rather than taking on a streak of mutterings of vindication and vicious intent such as… ‘I’ll make them pay, and they’ll pay and pay. I’ll make their lives utter misery until the end of time.’ ”

And so, Hub explained, that before a marriage commitment, he carefully observed my reactions. And from that he knew that if we ever split I would never take more than my share. (And although I was not as astute as Hub, in his observations, I had the same confidence of fairness in him.) So for us there was never any concern about one common bank account or whose name was on what.

And so, today Hub revealed to me, that these were the assessments he made about me. He admitted he didn’t know if we would always be together but he did know that if it came to separation, whether I was crushed or even happily relieved, I could empathize with others and would never turn on him with evil vindictiveness and eternal life-long schemes of revenge.

Now I’m the omnipotent narrator of this story, so I’m going to tell you something here. Like any other couples, we regularly get really ‘steamed’ at each other. Seriously steamed.

And so my comeback was, “I hate to tell you this but you’re not so smart as you may think. You think that because we have been together thirty odd years that it is because you initially knew what you were doing. And that you knew me well enough to know what I was doing or planning to do. That you crawled inside my soul and rooted around there until you were satisfied you understood all the deepest convictions in my heart. But that is not the case.

You know bloody well how steamed I get with you. I have news for you, Hub. I am still here because my vindication and life-long revenge is to stay with you, to write it down, to remind you of it, to make you relive every mistake, to badger you, needle you, annoy you, frustrate you. To get full restitution and complete revenge for anything you have ever done that disappointed me—and to never, ever, let it rest. That is why we remain together. I have you in lock-down and I fully intend to hold you in this painful prison until death do us part.

So now,” I said, while holding my mouth in a grim line, “how do you like those bananas? How do you feel about another Anniversary now?”

Hub laughed and kissed my cheek. “That’s fair,” he said. I’m willing to continue to accept all the pain and torment of your harsh discipline as long as the bed is warm and the food is good.”

Then immediate panic on Hub’s part. “Oh please, Roberta. Don’t write that down.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Banned by the Heavens

Last Thursday evening we had a thunderstorm. The kind of mighty storm that oft happens here because west of us the river flows and east of us the river flows. According to Hub, and the neighbors say it is so, where we live, we get incredible storms because lightning plays a rousing game of touch-tag between the two bodies of water.

This last rousing lightning game started long before the rain came. And it went on and on blasting the sky with sheet lightning, bolt lightning, chain lightning, ball lightning, blue lightning, and forked lightning. Then came one of those earth-rumbling claps that tell you one of the players struck a home run. Hub saw it. A mighty wide jagged streak that struck in the ditch across the road and exploded like giant fireworks.

A minute or so later, Hub again looked out the window and commented that the hot spot was still sparking. That didn’t really surprise me. After all lightning has enough voltage and magnitude to spark a bit after a strike. So I paid little attention. I was busy cooking and didn’t take a peek until three or four minutes later. And when I finally looked, I was so amazed.

Across the road was a roaring grassfire in grass as green and lush as a lowland swamp. How could such a thing be? But there it was, a grass fire blazing as if it were in a pile of dry straw. It was obvious that, with the wind gusting and a large bluff of spruce trees nearby, and a few yards from that, our neighbor’s home, something must be done immediately.

Hub grabbed a plastic pail with a plastic handle (plastic handle important) and dashed across the road. He has had experience fire fighting and it always amazes me how much fire he can extinguish with a small amount of water by splashing it across the fire with as much force as he can muster. And so that is what he did. And with that one measly pail of water he put the fire out. And that’s when he discovered that two metal rods next to a telephone transformer-box were now melted and bent. And of course our telephone line was dead.

So after the storm, he called the phone company and managed to eventually speak to a live person. You probably know her. It was Ms. Unfortunately. And so now he might as well be listening to a recording as this verbal essay on the terms and usage of the word ‘unfortunately’.

“Unfortunately we need some turnaround time. Unfortunately we have no repair-men available until Monday. Unfortunately, we cannot temporarily put your phone on call-forward to your cell since you haven’t purchased that option. Unfortunately, we have no control over lightning.” I’ll spare you the rest of this conversation that was little more than a long laundry list of unfortunate circumstance.

And now there’s me. Working at some stupid crocheting that I don’t want to do. Trying desperately to avoid thinking about my dry throat, itchy skin, crawling scalp, leg jerking, hands twitching, and anxiety of mind. I am in rapid interchanges of sweating and shivering. My fingernails are bit to the quick and I am contemplating if I am still flexible enough in body to get my left foot with that long toenail to my lips. Even checked the cosmetic bag for artificial nails. There were none. And as if that isn’t enough I am isolated. The power of the heavens has separated me from my support group that I feel love me and believe in me.

It’s Gawd-awful, and most unfortunate, this compulsory ban for three solid days of Roberta from her blogging passion. And because I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, I grab my laptop and pound out a poem about the ‘Cry of a Loon’(posted below). About sobbing and laughing kneaded together into one unnatural lump.

But fortunately, or unfortunately, I am now back. Life returns to normal but I was in rough shape there for a while.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Loon's Cry

In the forest, massive trees fall
In crashes of utter silence
While a warbling vibrato
Echoes across the lake.

Releasing rapid transitions
That demand all that is something,
And all that is nothing
To ken to the sound.

Forego auditory interpretation.
This resonance seeks
With greater intensity
Innermost faculties of the soul.

When there is nothing to hear it
That absence of life
That absence of being
Stops in its tracks.

Steeped in the magical impact of
Singular sounds kneaded together...

The jolly laughing
And the friendless sobbing
Of a loon.


A particular circumstance in my life inspired this poem. I will tell you about it in my next post.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Castle Dreams and Realities

Of all our holiday diversions, next to flipping rocks and walking wooded paths, the best was a castle tour. Now we have toured castles before but this one was truly exceptional with so many rooms and an overly large garden. The history of it was intriguing as well. Truly fascinating tales about the ‘reality’ of the people who initially lived there and how that castle was built through more sweat and brawn than you would ever find in today’s world even if you arranged an international ‘muscle-man convention’ with steroids allowed.

It was a towering structure built in amazing quick-smart time from heavy rocks that were obviously split without the convenience of a rock-splitter and lifted into place with an oh-so-crude pulley mechanism.

Hub and I were spellbound by the imposing structure and amazing architecture. By the sturdiness of the wood within and the veneer of the ornate floors and fireplaces. We just looked and looked and looked some more. The eye so delighted, the mind so intrigued, that that night we dreamed dreams of that castle.

The next morning, it was easy to see Hub was tired and he was able to see I was tired as well. It wasn’t for lack of sleep. It was the hard labor of the work we engaged in during similar dreams. Hub spent the night running his castle and I spent the night running mine. As Lords and Ladies we were very busy.

Hub could barely manage to keep up to the steady flow of coal and wood needed to heat the place. There were livestock concerns. And at the same time, he was trying to select appropriate helpers from staff that knew everything about rocks and wood and mortar, but nothing about electricity or water transport (except by rope and pail), to maintain power sources and water lines. He was organizing gardening crews, dealing with maintenance issues, and wondering in this harried state, how best to find enjoyment in his castle. And that enjoyment part was the part that evaded him most.

I was having similar problems. The deepest cut was the guilt I was feeling about having 22 vacant guest-rooms while so many in the work-a-day world were working too hard, too long, and sleeping in cold dank conditions on straw mats. It seemed to me that if I had occupants in those rooms, that might ease my guilt.

So I planned suppers and over-night weekends for the upper crust and then shuddered with fear that the kitchen staff would fail me. That the pate would not have sufficient seasonings and the aspic would not gel properly or the roast duck would be too cold by the time we managed to get to the main course.

I already knew that the smallest disaster would spread like wildfire through the ranks of the famous and then I would have to entertain that same group ten times more in quick succession to show that it was a coincidence, not a failure on my part.

I found these people outwardly gracious but severely critical, so soon after I formed an alternate plan. I would convert my group of paid staff into one big happy family. And so I moved the castle staff to those beautiful rooms and invited them to come eat with me. That was a grand idea. They were such fun. Such good company. But by treating them that good they became contemptuous. In short order, my gentle ways had them acting like irresponsible teenagers.

They engaged in games of backgammon and lawn polo and told me they would do the laundry and scrub the kitchen floor ‘later’. They became disrepectful and I became angry and hurt by their disrespect. But then being angry is no more enjoyable than isolation or constant criticism. And so I found that life in the finest surroundings was sad and perturbing because I could not manage to maintain the kind of serving and friendly alliance I had hoped to.

Truly, how does one define and specify in accurate terms that thing that is more necessary than completion of daily tasks? Loyalty and respect, even if it can be articulated, cannot be demanded like a demand for starched and ironed sheets. And so, in my frustration, I began construction of a labor camp next door for disciplinary time-out and to renew their appreciation for my kindness. That’s when I awoke from my dream.

And so on our tour day, Hub and I were so envious of the early inhabitants of that castle that had lived in such finery. But the next day, we were grateful that we just have a bit of land, a simple home, and occasional ‘socializing’ with friends who find more joy in our faults than they do in our perfections.

And we were doubly glad we were not a Lord or Lady of that castle when we went for breakfast the next morning. There was an overly large breakfast-crowd and only two waitresses moving at break-neck speed to try and keep up. While we waited for our order to be taken, we overheard the wife at the next table ordering what-should-have-been a very simple meal for her and her husband.

“I want two eggs, sunny-side up. Firm, but not hard. No runny eggs and no hard eggs laced with brown or charcoal edgings. As for him, he’ll have one smallish egg, poached, with lean bacon and light toast. And could you trim the crusts—a quarter inch—from his toast? He’ll also want his raspberry jam in a side dish. He can’t open those fiddly jam envelopes and that is the only way to ensure he only has the one level teaspoon of jam his dietary condition allows.”

While the waitress clamped her teeth and maintained a frozen smile, Hub and I looked at each other and grinned. Obviously these people could run a castle without guilt about empty rooms or exhausted staff. Efficiently, without worry or concern and with every detail adeptly attended to.