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Ron just completed his most recent yard improvement. Using a front end loader and his trusty shovel, he spent hours uprooting the trunk of a 30 year old tree felled in a recent storm.

As we get older, I worry more about Ron around heavy machinery. We’re both getting forgetful. What if he forgets to set the brake and his limbs get shorn off instead of the tree’s?

Ron started his project while I was in the middle of my latest endeavor: putting together a 1000 piece puzzle. I did what any caring, loving wife would do. I moved my puzzle project near a window where I could observe Ron’s progress. I placed my cell phone nearby so I could dial 911 if disaster struck.

All went well for Ron but somehow in moving the puzzle I lost a piece.

This was a brand new, factory sealed puzzle and I don’t remember dropping or misplacing a piece. Nevertheless, due to my carelessness, a mouse lost part of its face and one paw.

A friend and I exchange puzzles and I simply could not in good conscience give her a puzzle missing a part. Armed with glue, cardboard, craft scissors and my printer, I decided to recreate the missing piece. Wow. It took me as much time to resurrect that damn mouse as it took Ron to unearth a tree stump.

The first challenge was to cut a puzzle piece that would snugly fit into the missing space. I needed a laser but had to make do with craft scissors, a very poor substitute. Once I got a piece that sort of fit, I faced the next challenge: enlarging the teeny tiny image of the mouse on the puzzle box to the same size as the missing piece. Other people may know how to mathematically calculate what percent enlargement on the printer would yield the right size. Not me. I tried increasing it by 15%, then 20% then 25%. The amount of money I used for ink probably exceeded the cost of the entire puzzle. Each time I enlarged the image, the mouse got fuzzier and fuzzier.

The reinvented puzzle piece.

The last step was the toughest. I had to cut the mouse image to fit the substitute puzzle piece and make sure it lined up with the neighboring pieces. Again, craft scissors are not up to such a precise task. When I finally finished I realized the cardboard I used was awfully thin so I reinforced it. More cutting and gluing.

I was pretty pleased with the final product. I went to show Ron but he was sound asleep. Apparently unearthing a tree stump the size of a dishwasher is more tiring than recreating a puzzle piece.


Taking a free, drive through COVID-19 test exposed my weaknesses as an old person.

The free testing began at 7:00 am. After reading all the stories about people waiting in line for hours, I told my husband we would be IN LINE by 6:30 am. As I have aged, I have become more and more nervous about time issues. Off we went, Sudoku puzzles and coffee mugs in hand with snacks to sustain us in case we would be there for hours. We arrived at the civic center parking lot and took our spot as number 5 in line. I expected to be about number 50 so this was pleasant surprise.

I was reminded of the time we visited our son in Chile. We were spending a few days in a remote part of the country and had to travel to a distant local airport for a connecting flight back to Santiago. I insisted we leave 5 hours early. We easily got to the airport by bus only to discover the terminal was not yet open. For two hours we sat on the curb. If looks could kill, my son would have committed matricide.

The COVID-19 testing started on time. I see my family doctor at the testing tent. I immediately open my cell phone photos to the many, many pictures of my new grandson. Dr. Rosie delivered my daughter and I know she wants to see pictures of my daughter’s baby. Just before we arrive at the station, Dr. Rosie disappears. I think she anticipated me bombarding her with baby pictures and beat a hasty retreat. Just in case Dr. Rosie reads my blog I am inserting a picture of Molly and Leo.

Dr. Rosie delivered Molly, shown here with Leo

Testing for COVID-19 involves inserting a 6-inch long swab through the nose to detect if the nasty virus is hunkered down in the respiratory system. There is some discomfort but the procedure is fast. What really hurts is thinking of the pain suffered by the 150,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 and the thousands more struggling to recover.

The whole process took 45 minutes (including our 30 minute early arrival time). We returned home, snacks untouched. We left the volunteers and folks administering the tests to suffer through one of the hottest days of the summer. The temperature passed 90 degrees by noon. All the staff were swathed in protective gear so the heat must have been unbearable.

We received a little card with the web site address of where we could learn the results within 24-72 hours. . The second characteristic of my getting older kicked in: I am more and more impatient. At precisely hour 25, I started going to the web. I was dogged in my determination to get the results. I went to the site early and often. It took about 8 tries before the results were available. Good news: no Covid! The most depressing part of getting my results was entering my date of birth using the scroll down menu. Whoa. I REALLY had to scroll down since the list started in year 2020 and I had to get all the way to 1948. It was like watching my life flash before my eyes: 2020….1990….1980….1970……1950….1950…1948. My spirit sagged with each decade I passed.

No matter. I may be old but I am Covid free.

For now.


Updated: Jul 23, 2020

After months of staying at home because of Covid-19, I realize I have accomplished nothing of significance. Other friends are taking the opportunity to clean, paint, repair and garden. Not me. I have spent my days relaxing and doing things that are not important. This is the textbook definition of “putter around” and I am the poster child.

This is how I putter:

I cross stitch. This is such a great activity to enjoy while watching television or listening to an audio book. My current project is a group of colorful parrots. They make me happy in this time of uncertainly.

I play on-line bridge. I love bridge but all face-to-face games and tournaments have been cancelled due to Covid-19. No matter—bridge has migrated big time to the internet. I am playing more now than ever. There is a fee associated with playing on-line. So far I have spent over $400 on tournament play. I have transferred money from my clothing budget since I have been in shorts and t-shirts for months.

I read. Here is a partial list of books I have read: The Glass Hotel (Emily St. John Mandel), When You See Me (Lisa Gardner), Daisy Jones & the Six (Taylor Jenkins Reid), The Boy From The Woods (Harlan Coben), Redhead by the Side of the Road (Anne Tyler), The Death of Mrs. Westaway (Ruth Ware), Such a Fun Age (Kiley Reid), The Grammarians (Cathleen Schine), The Last Romantics (Tara Conklin), Writers and Lovers (Lily King).

I would like to identify those that I really enjoyed but I am old and can’t really remember many of the plot lines.

I walk. Every activity I have thus far listed has one thing in common: sitting. I might be happy enjoying bridge and cross stitch and reading but I am paying big time in terms of my health. Studies show that prolonged sedentary behavior correlates to an increase in mortality, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. So I try to make up for extended hours of chair time by walking as often as I can in our local park. I have yet to achieve the national Institute on Aging’s recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate exercise most or all days a week. I mean sometimes it is just too hot or too wet or too inconvenient given the bridge tournament schedule.

I support Ron. My husband Ron does not putter around. He is one of those people who is constantly working on some major project. So far he has rebricked the patio, installed two screen doors, seeded mulched and weeded all our flower beds, made our lawn worthy of a spread in Southern Living and repainted the garage. Honestly, I get exhausted just watching him. My job is to make him a sandwich for lunch and enthusiastically tell him “Good job, honey!’

What I find worrisome is that I am really enjoying my new lifestyle. Because of COVID-19, my calendar is clear of meetings, social engagements and multiple errands. There is no pressure to be somewhere or do something or meet someone. Staying home is okay.

I have discovered the joy of puttering around and it will be a hard lifestyle to give up.

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