Out of the Blue
From the eye of the beholder
By Deborah Salomon
November opens the Season of Lists. Thankful lists for Thanksgiving. Santa wish lists for December. New Year’s resolutions for January. Except this Thanksgiving will look different. For starters, more than 200,000 tables will have an empty chair. Grace over the turkey may sound a somber note. And commentators’ lists will include revisions, beginning with giving thanks for survival. So far.
This has me looking around for good things, useful things, obscure things. Things that — as the trivial saying goes — we take for granted.
I don’t have to look very far.
I am thankful . . .
. . . that all my systems — plumbing, ventilation, battery, pump — are in working order. I hear, see, sleep, think just fine. If it weren’t for arthritis and lingering orthopedic injuries I’d still be running 3 miles a day. With expiration dates fast approaching, I’m doubly grateful.
. . . for hot water. Often, the best moments of my day are spent in the shower. Clean water, both hot for bathing and cold for drinking, is a huge unsung hero.
. . . for the moon and morning star: I rise before dawn, a lifelong habit. Everything is dark, still. Everything except the barren moon, which reminds me that ours is the only inhabitable planet. Confirming its barrenness in 1969 should have made us eternally grateful for Earth’s habitation. But no, we keep raping and plundering, burning and trashing. Remember, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
. . . for sandwiches. Huh? There is no more convenient and delicious nourishment, whether Spam on mushy white or lobster salad on a Parisian demi-baguette. Quick and easy, too, for breakfast, lunch or supper.
. . . for the internet. No explanation required.
. . . for the professionals who perform scheduled maintenance: an angel dentist, a hairdresser who humors me, and a doctor who smiles and chats awhile. Topping the list, my computer guy who keeps this ancient equipment (the electronic kind) chugging along.
. . . for heat and AC, especially AC, a miracle. Nothing and nobody holds sway over weather. When I open my front door on a steamy July afternoon and feel that blast of cool . . . ahhhh, followed by guilt, remembering conditions in refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East.
. . . for my cats: Animals have always been a part of my life even when I didn’t have any, and pined. Nine years ago I adopted two adult kitties that had been abandoned in the apartment complex where I live. They repay me with affection, diversion, amazement and a few good laughs. Their instincts trump anything innate to humans. I could go on forever.
. . . for my two grandsons. The obnoxious granny is a cliché. I plead special circumstances. The boys’ father — my son — died when they were 5 and 7. Despite the emotional hardship of losing a parent, the older one announced a life plan at 9: travel the world, go to law school, make some money, start a family, go into politics. As of today he has visited 24 countries (including China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, Cuba, and others in both Central America and Eastern Europe) as an exchange student or backpacker. He graduated from law school, passed the bar first try, completed an internship, has a good job and a great girlfriend — a med student, no less. He speaks three languages fluently. He is 23. By age 4 his brother could identify every make of car by its insignia. Since then, he has loved and lived cars. Instead of college, he attended mechanics school, earned a license, got a job at a car dealership but wanted to try sales. The dealership gave him a desk and a chance. He bought a suit and some snazzy shoes and sold five cars his first month. He is 22, speaks two languages, can charm the bark off a tree, or Nanny. They are both exceptionally handsome young men. In these times when young adults face uncertainty I am thankful beyond words.
On a global note, thank (insert name of preferred deity) the election is over, for reasons too numerous to mention. That’s a separate list I cannot bear to undertake. Try Santa. PS
Deborah Salomon is a contributing writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.