blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Packaging Problems :( By J. Olmstead

Ok !  Hey this is great.. Saves on finding a container to store your unused portions away until your stomach demands a bit of ham.. Or frozen meatballs...
I seemed to have uncovered a small problem with this wonder technology .
And that to get them unsealed to start with.
Dispite little arrows, dotted lines , clearly visible zippers ,  little  printed tiny fingers pointing  to how to get the package opened.  I seem to fail miserably on achieving a clean open.
My packages often end up stabbed, scissored , shredded . Cursed at.. And occasionally thrown hard on the counter with.. I didn't want to eat you anyways...
 Others are left with Ragged plastic edges that defy any form of closing at all.
So, into another container to store... This one with easy snap on lids..another brilliant invention .

If, one can find the right one in a drawer stuffed with containers...and lids...
All seemingly divorced. Or at least.. In a heavy argument.
There are a few places in the mexican market where I shop.. Mainly on the street.. Where life is very simple.
A round of homemade cheese is wrapped in plastic.. No seals.. And placed in a small clear plastic bag. Freshly made this morning .
Fruits and vegetables.. Fresh fish filleted before your eyes. Shrimp.. Similar .
Eggs.. Fresh baked rolls..  All slipped into an open ended plastic bag. Also  Drinks served in a bag with a straw poking out.
I am more and more enjoying that loose, no nonsense way of bringing things home.
While I may on occasion break an egg.. Or want to put my drink down for a moment...
I am not reduced to a blithering idiot trying to get at the product. Stabbing. Cursing frustrated.
Ok, thank you for reading my lament...
On purpose, I did not put it in a sealed bag for you!

~~ Joy Olmstead

Friday, November 11, 2016

An Ancient Fable

Now, dear readers, after the events of the last week, it is time for a retelling of a very old story, first written down in Aesop's Fables. This, I fear, is a prophecy.

Once upon a time there was a lovely pond full of frogs, all happy and fat and singing. Things were  largely good. The pond always stayed full; it didn't dry up like other ponds and leave them stranded in mud. There were lots of bugs and many large green lily pads to sit upon. Still, the frogs were not happy because they were bored. Things were dull here, always the same. They thought they might like to have a king so that he could devise things for them to do. Kings, they knew, paraded about in pomp and splendor, which would be entertaining. So they petitioned Jupiter, Father of Gods and Men, to send them a king.

Jupiter, understanding the true nature of kings, thought the little frogs were foolish, but decided that, as they weren't very bright either, he'd send them a king who would neither hurt them nor take advantage. He dropped a huge log into the pool. This fell with a tremendous splash, and the frogs, naturally, were terrified. They all hid, some down deep in the water, others under the lily pads and behind rocks. Trembling, they waited to see what this new king would do. Of course, the log did nothing.

After a while, the frogs recovered from their initial fright. They approached the log and swam around it. Nothing happened. After a little while, the young frogs jumped up on the log and took turns diving into the pond. Growing braver, they began to sit on the log and take in the sun and hunt for flies. The log was excellent for these purposes.

This was entertaining for a time, but pretty soon the frogs were again sitting around complaining about how boring things were in their lovely green pond. This king that Jupiter had sent, they said, was "a milk and water king," nothing to be afraid of. This king made no great displays of his power or courage; he didn't go to war. This king held no ceremonies filled where they all had to bow and salute. Eventually, the elder frogs made the log their meet-up place and here they sat around for hours upon hours, complaining endlessly about the state of the government. Near the end of summer, the log grew sodden and sank.

Once again the frogs petitioned Jupiter, Father of Gods and Men, saying that this king he'd sent hadn't added up to much. In fact, he hadn't been a king at all, hadn't done a single kingly thing during his rule. Now, he'd sunk, leaving them in the same state as before,
without a king.  "This time," they said, "Oh great God, send us a REAL KING."

Jupiter had pretty much had it by now. After all, he'd been listening to them gripe all summer, so, this time he sent a large crane to be king over frog land. The crane was different right from the start. As soon as he landed, big feet entering the shallow water with a splosh, he began to gobble up frogs as fast as he could choke them down his long skinny neck. He ate and ate and ate while the frogs scattered, hopping and swimming in utter terror. The crane used his long bill to probe the mud where they tried to hide; he turned over rocks. When he found them, he skewered them like shish-kabobs.

The frogs who survived the first onslaught
cried out pitifully, once again calling upon Jupiter, Father of Gods and Men. "Oh, please, no! This is not the king we wanted! Save us! Take the crane away! He's cruel; he's a tyrant! His belly is a bottomless pit! His appetite is insatiable! If this continues, he will soon devour every single one of us!" 

"How now!" Jupiter said. "Are you not yet content? You have what you asked for and so you have only yourselves to blame for your misfortunes."

Aesop for Children (translator not identified), 1919. Illustrations by Milo Winter (1886-1956). Available online at Project Gutenberg


Sunday, August 21, 2016


Elizabeth w/violets and dandelions


A not very encouraging beginning,
Here.  We cain’t keep’er no more.
Lucky you.  Lucky my best friend.
Lucky me.

I was your wuffler, your
Trained human,
And you never got enough,
Elizabeth Rex.

You, of glittery eye,
Barely veiled contempt,
Going comatose in my hands,
Drooling on my jeans.

You and I
Understood each other.
Evil spirits separated
At birth.

You were.
You are.

Radiant bows to a fellow cat person, one who truly gets it.
Juliet W.

Kimi in the wuffle seat.
Now that the old Queen is dead, it'll be the new Queen's turn all the time!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Element of Fire

I wait for sunrise
Beneath the white oak.

Dew bejewels young corn,
Static pillars of fog arise
In the valley.

Morning stars fade.
Birds wake in the prescient glow.
Twilight sublimates into blue,
Ending the unfixed time.

For years I have come to bear witness,
But only in this year of heart-break
Does the full glory greet me.

Now, through a door of silence
Steps Sun,
First, a crescent of fire.

Serpentine arms flourish and glitter,
Reaching from  the horizon
To warm my heart.

I am
No longer solitary, but
Among a rejoicing multitude
In an infinite well of space and time.

A billion souls,
And mine...

Past and Present,
Quick and Dead,
All One, incandescent,
On the altar
Of Sunrise.

~~ Juliet Waldron

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


On this, the 29 day of June, 2016, at 12:37 a.m., I hereby declare war on cellular phone service in general, and so-called ‘Smart’ phones in particular.  It has always been my conviction that this monstrous invasion of privacy was perpetrated upon us by the young Millennials, to prove their superiority by their creations of unparalleled stupidity, having no taste, no style, and no integrity.  It is the cesspool of a wireless age.  It is distasteful at best and dangerous at worst. 

It is every minute of every phone owner every day.  Do they ever sleep?  Do they not have jobs?  Is it so difficult for them to understand that driving at 60 miles per hour on a major 6-lane resort highway where EVERYONE is in a hurry with their iPhone or SmartPhone clutched in their crabbed little hands, pecking away between glances up to see what’s going on in traffic, is paramount to murder and maybe suicide, as it if mattered. 

How can the vast majority of car driving, phone wielding citizens who wreak havoc on our highways every single day in every single state be absolutely DUMB on the concept of distracted driving?  What kind of generation have we produced who think that whatever it is that THEY are doing at any given minute is infinitely more important that what the other guy is doing.  And on down the line like dominoes.  And when did everyone become so goddamn important?  

So.  Let me tell you what has brought me to raging at the machine.  First of all, I have never been a fan of cell phones.  It became readily apparent very early on that a large majority of users used them EVERYwhere.  And they especially liked theatres.  I knew, from those boxy little flip phones, that life was going to become very much more difficult for the gomers, the geezers,  the folks who are never considered in the design of these various things to make them more geezer-friendly.  It seems as though the Silicon Valley boys really don’t want any help.  They are managing to make simple life functions as difficult as I imagine getting a passport must be. 

Case in point.  There is an outdoor tiki-styled restaurant on the water near where we live.  Before it was taken over by people who obviously had worked for Disney in Florida, it was a nice neighborhood bar/restaurant, very quaint, and very pleasant.  When grands and great-grands visited a week ago, they wanted to go there for lunch, and so we did.  When I talked to the reservation girl to put our name on the waiting list, she asked me for my phone number.  I gave it to her, and she then told me when our table was ready, I would get a text.  “Hold up,” I said, that’s my home phone.  Oh, she said, very sarcastically, don’t you have a smart phone?  “No, I said, “I have a flip phone in the bottom of my purse somewhere, and the condition of its battery is unknown.  Can’t you just come and find us?” 

By now an old guy (55+) came over and wanted to know what was going on.  Repeat the above paragraph.  The restaurant employees are getting nervous, and obviously have no solution.  Now, I’m angry.  I’m angry because what should be a fairly easy function of any major restaurant, i.e., announcing the availability of “Bashore, Table of 7”, has now evolved into a system that makes owning a Smart Phone a necessity.  I mean, how can one expect to function in a world we never even imagined?  The debacle was solved when someone in our party had their iPhone with them, and was able to get the text.  But what it there hadn’t been?  Were they that indifferent about embarrassing customers for being out of the loop that they are also indifferent as to whether or not those customers walk out.  My bill was $100 for lunch ... 4 adults, 3 children, and everything was a la carte.  And they didn’t care if they seated us or not. 

And then yesterday, since my cell phone contract had expired, I visited the local wireless store (the one that lights up all of the United States in their ad) to find out about hooking up an iPhone 4.0 that was gifted to me.  It did not go well.  First of all, he wrote down $30.00, then under it $20.00.  He pointed to the $30.00 and said, “This is your phone plan cost.”  Then he pointed to the $20.00 and said, “This is the cost of your phone.”  No, uh, wait a minute.  Doesn’t the fact that I OWN the phone make any difference here?  “No, he said, this is what it costs to have your phone on the phone plan.”  So I have to pay them to use the phone I own.  So this kid says, “Well, at $50, it’s only $15 more than you pay now, not a big deal.  And I leaned across the table and said to him quietly, Sonny, I’m on Social Security, and $15 IS a big deal for me.”  And then, of course, with all the taxes and hidden fees they don’t tell you about, I’m looking at probably $70 in the bottom line.  And so I did the only honorable thing I could do.  I cancelled the damn phone.  I lived all my adult life without a little box  running my every waking minute, telling me things I don’t need to know, and lots of other things about which I care little.  The fact that an instrument of convenience mostly for purposes of business, commerce and government has become this interconnected web from which no one knows how, or even wants to escape. 

So my spouse has decided to get a pay as you go phone.  Good.  I’ll use his.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Blizz of 2016

Rough times on the east coast last weekend!

From 70 degrees at Christmas, we descended into an old-fashioned hoot and holler of a snowstorm. I guess in central Pa it did not quite reach blizzard status, although the storm came, as all great blizzards do, from the Northeast, fat with ocean water.

There was wind and snow and snow and more snow. Here, where entire winters can pass without note, it was quite a sight. There was a part of me that found it welcome, after a NY childhood imprinted by stark Lake-Effect White Howlers.

New York State Thruway

For a little, I gazed out the window and sent my consciousness into The Dance of the Snowflakes (Swan Lake) and imagined Dame Helda (the German Calliach) doing her crone dance. It's beautiful when I simply fly on the wind as one of them, but frightening when I'm a human once more, gazing up at the swaying power lines upon which our civilization hangs.

Nearby, from where they'd been sitting, enjoying a grassy golf course, the local "Canadians" squawked. When the sky cleared the next day they flew in circles, bemoaning the loss of the open fields upon which they'd been so steadily grazing.

In the end, it was a local record: 30 inches of the white stuff in a 24 hour period. Briefly, our Hobbit name was "Under-Snow." It took a lot of digging--and some neighborly help--to get both cars out. And it's not so much the "digging" part, either, that's wearying. It's the trudge across the road and the toss up onto a high snow bank that's truly challenging.

Not that there was anywhere to go after we had completed our excavation. For once, most everyone paid heed to the warnings and stayed in. That steady stream of traffic which regularly hurries along "the back way" to the Park and the outlets, for today, anyhow, is silenced. Many neighborhoods in small poor urban areas remained choked with snow; days later, people had not managed to get out to work.

This morning, we chipped ice. As we age, falling becomes not just a concern but a definite possibility, as Gravity's attempts to drag us--once and for all--to the ground, seem to have recently redoubled.
~~Juliet Waldron

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Old Falling People

I hate this falling business that apparently goes with aging. Seems I've fallen more times in the last few years than I've fallen in the rest of my life. And, of course, it gets ever more dangerous to hit the ground as bones age.

My Grandma Liddle, may she RIP, fell and broke her hip at 99, which was the end of her life. The pain after an attempt to pin it became too much for her frail self. Her husband's step-mom also fell, back in the more cavalier 'late 40's. This Grandma Liddle lay in the cold--down the dirt farm road where they'd once farmed dairy cattle--until the postman happened along. Fortunately, the smart collie she owned came to lie against her and kept her from freezing during that long-ago upstate New York winter. She too ended in an old age home, bed-ridden; these were the days before hips were routinely repaired. Here, she too eventually died. These family histories have taught me that there's nothing good about falls after 60!

Now, I clean my house. I go to the gym. I do Zumba; I take weights classes and aerobic classes. I practice my balance in Yoga; I take long fast walks. During clement weather I ride my granny bike around town. I've fallen off that, too, more times than from my road bike that I rode constantly for twenty-five years.  It seriously ticks me off when I find myself, once more, sprawled on the darn ground.

Today I fell in the kitchen. I was vacuuming -- inadvisable for bad backs -- so I was being particularly careful (I thought) about not lunging or twisting. As I vacuumed along the ceiling where the cobwebs of winter have been gathering, I forgot to look down, stepped on a part of the wand I'd discarded a few moments before. When it rolled, I did too and ignominiously ended on the nice yellow linoleum, taking a blow on hip and shoulder as I went down.

As you might imagine, a few moments of quiet contemplation followed, while I checked to see if everything was still okay, the trick back, knees, etc. My husband was no help or comfort. I probably fell, in his mind, to inconvenience him--somehow. Don't ask WTF. Old men, that's a whole other subject.

~ Juliet Waldron