Proud to announce:
IT’S A BOOK!
Nan Kilmer Baker delivers
Length: 287 pages
Weight: 4 1/2 pounds
Date: January 14, 2017
Time: 8:33 a.m.
Winslow, my father- in- law, lives in the Carlisle, an upscale assisted living home in the Florida Palm Beaches .
He is the wise man who attends Happy Half Hour daily but claims he does not stay for the entire party.
So the last time I visited the Carlisle, Preston ( my husband and Winslow’s oldest son) and I got on the elevator with a very nicely groomed woman using her walker.
I always try to make conversation in an elevator so noticed this well- coiffed woman had a name tag.
Raising my voice I said. “Judith Lavender!?!
What a pretty name!”
Without missing a beat, Ms. Lavender replied, with a smile.
“Why yes, my name is Lavender and normally I wear only that lovely color.
But today I am wearing powder blue.”
Crissy is not a doll familiar to me. Recently an old childhood friend asked if I had ever owned such a doll, and I had to confess I’d never had any interest in a Crissy. What I coveted, at two years old, was an African American baby doll.
Can I tell you how proud I am of this fact? I mean, as a precocious toddler, how progressive was that? I made it perfectly clear what was on my wish list. (My mother claimed although I rarely had much to say, I never spoke “baby talk” rather, I used clear, concise sentences.)
“Mama, I want Santa to bring me a little, brown, chocolate baby for Criss-muss, Okay?”
Now, what puzzled everyone involved in the request was that we lived in Idaho and I had never even seen a colored person, in person. And it couldn’t have been on television as I refused to watch any program unless there were a monkey or two on the screen. Thus, my older brother Biff pointed out. “As a kid, Nance, your T.V. viewing was pretty limited!”
Only years later did I learn what a difficult time Santa had locating a dark brown baby doll to place under our tree that year. I think she, I mean he must’ve ordered it from a store back east, where my mother had grown up in a rich environment blessed with Jews, Christians, Negroes, Protestants and even some celebrities. She always told us Kilmer kids we were deprived to be growing up in such a “white bread” town. So she regaled us with stories of her privileged childhood, albeit without a father. But that’s another story. One you can read in my upcoming book, NAKED JOY, Confessions of a Skittish Catholic from Idaho.
And so it happened, I woke up Christmas morning at the tender age of two to a plastic,chocolate brown baby doll under the tree. Plus, Mommy had sewn my baby a wardrobe of cuddly infant gowns and blankies.
“And what will you call your new baby, Nanner?” Daddy asked as I changed its tiny diaper.
Without hesitation I declared the name I had decided upon weeks before.
“CHOCO-BABY! What else?”
You might call me a “trip-a-holic”. Boise in February, Palm Beach in April, Peru in late May then Scandanavia and Russia last week. At the risk of sounding decadent, let me tell you…I NEEDED these vacations.
“Vacations from what?” My frivolous friend Faye* in Florida wants to know.
“Well”… I respond, trying not to sound conceited or the least bit agitated.
“A break from all these darn plugs. Do you realize what I endure every morning here in this huge, hideous house?”
Not patient enough to wait for her response I begin my tirade:
Every single morning I drag myself out of bed, unplug my Walkman and Kindle, fumble around trying to plug in the lousy laptop, and head down to the kitchen. There I plug in the coffee pot and while waiting for it to decide what to brew, wander over to the den to punch in the TV…
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I do not advise sleeping on a box spring mattress. I recently tried it and might as well have spent the night tossing and turning over a pile of rocks. It had been a long day of moving stellar son J.P. into apartment near the medical school, where he will study for the next four years, god willing. It is a nifty pad he will share with his roommate, another aspiring physician a few years ahead of J.P. and currently M.I.A. Meanwhile, should my studious son become bored during study breaks, an added perk is his window looks out over the School of Nursing. Nice.
I have not yet had the privilege of meeting the afore mentioned roomie, as he is on rotation somewhere in New York City, whatever that means. Nonetheless, the absent yet kind young man offered a spare room in his apartment for my husband and me to stay while helping J.P. get settled. This is how I ended up on a box spring mattress while kid slept in comfy bed and husband grabbed the cushy living room couch.
Sometime during the sleepless night I decided to head for the kitchen for a glass of water, at which point I tripped over something at the foot of the bed, I mean box spring mattress. Stubbing my right big toe I reached down to feel a pile of metal of some sort. Clicking on the lamp I discovered a small, pink, medical- type pan overflowing with what looked like 101 pairs of surgical scissors. An eerie, disturbing feeling came over me as I wondered where those tools had been and why there were so many. Shoving the rather heavy bin aside, I fetched my water, laid back down on the pile of rocks, and wondered to myself. “Why would one medical student have over a hundred pairs of surgical scissors? Is he a kleptomaniac? Does he steel from doctors’ offices and hospitals? Would he ever use a pair on my only son? Hmmmm”.
The next morning, exhausted, I decide to toast a few bagels for the three of us. Rummaging through a fully stocked kitchen, I find everything, including the kitchen sink, but not one knife sharp enough to cut a bagel. Hauling out the overflowing bin of scissors to scare my husband, he remarks, “Whoa! That’s a lot of cutters!” But as for the buns, can’t you just slice ‘em with a surgical scissor? Maybe the phantom roommate took the sharper knives to the O.R.? “
About now well-rested kid saunters into the kitchen looking for food.
“Morning Glory”, I greet the tossled young med student. Pointing to the bin, I inquire. “Do you realize you might be living with Edward Scissorhands? Look at this!”
“He is studying to be a neurosurgeon, Mom. Don’t sweat it; it’s none of your business.”
So, I think to myself, I guess a future surgeon can never have too many pairs of shiny scissors.
But a sharp serrated knife might prove helpful…
Rain, rain go away.
Northern Virginia has been getting doused for what seems like months and we are all dripping mad.
However, the sun briefly came out this past Sunday morning so I drug my soggy self over to the neighborhood swimming hole. There, a sharp woman named Sharon leads a wacky weekend water class for seniors and glamourous “young” gals like myself. ( < :
Arriving at the pool a few minutes late all I can see from deck is over a dozen female heads bobbing up and down. I slip gingerly into the refreshing water amidst the bevy of bathing beauties.
From the bank above, shapely Sharon is barking her weekly figure-forming commands:
—“RIGHT LEG UP-LEFT LEG DOWN! TIME FOR OUR ROCKING HORSES, GIRLS!!
—JUMPING JACKS! HIGHER! HIGHER!!
Now, side step to the right…2,3,4– and hit it back to the left!”
You get the pathetic picture.
Meanwhile the tanned teen guards watch from their towers with apparent pity if not disgust.
Just as I begin wondering if the torture will ever end, I catch the scent of bacon sizzling from the pool-side snack bar and vow to treat myself once our session finally ends.
I will have earned it.
But first…Shapley Sharon decides we weary women need to race.
“Great!” I curse under my breath.
Next the bossy broad tosses about 16 of those colorful, cheap, Styrofoam water noodles into the pool, all the while explaining to us barely fit fools that we are about to experience a challenge–a “healthy competition”.
“Everyone, pair off. Snap to it ladies! Shake a leg!”
So the not-so-serious swimmer next to me inquires,
“Would you mind being my partner?”
“Sure, why not?” I reply.
(What else could I say?)
Next we are instructed to put a nasty noodle under each arm, line ourselves up back to back in pairs against the far wall, and prepare to charge.
Imagine seven pairs of wobbly, wet women in a rough row, set to race across the practically pristine pool, reeking of chlorine.
Now, I don’t have the strongest of upper body strength, but when it comes to leg work, I could give a racehorse a run for her money. Overconfident, I am ready to take off like a Derby winner, dragging my partner through the sloshing water as she idly floats on her back.
I silently plunge into the zone, concentrating on what I call my “edge”, confident that with my competitive streak and hoarsely strong calves, I and this complete stranger will take this match.
Suddenly Sharon shrieks:
“ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GO!”
To get to the point–we lost the first lap–BIG time. Admittedly, I caught us up when it was her turn to drag me, by helping out with my gold medal -winning whip- kick. I think in the end we came in a respectable third place amidst the seven pitiful pairs.
Embarrassed if not enraged, I consoled myself. “You simply could not get any traction, Nan. You need to buy some good water shoes before next week’s class. That should do the trick.”
As class ended and I practiced treading water with no hands to build even more strength in my gams, I caught sight of my loser of a partner exiting the pool, trudging up the steps in shallow water. I felt my eyes grow larger. The waddling woman with what could be described as a major “pear-shaped” figure must’ve weighed close to 300 pounds!
Who knew? She definitely carried most of her weight under the water.
“No wonder!” I marveled, vowing in the future to ignore this “pleasantly plump” person in the pool.
Pulling out of the parking lot, I noticed the wet woman lumbering towards the snack bar, considerably faster than she had drug me across the sparkling pool earlier in the day…
So the other “day” I wake up early in Stockholm. Husband and son asleep in the suite, I punch my stupid smart phone and realize it is 6:17 in the morning.
Let the vacation begin.
“Phew”…I whisper to myself. “The hotel’s club opens at 6:30 a.m. so I can just slip into some sight-seeing garb and grab a coffee and Danish in the lounge”.
Once ready I head up to the 13th floor by elevator, I mean “lift”. Arriving at the ever-so-exclusive club I realize the door is locked and no one is home. Rejected, I descend to the lobby on LEVEL G.
Leaving the lift I am floored by the number of partiers at the bustling bar. I think to myself, “Well I guess these people are all from America or beyond so it is still happy hours for them?”
I take a seat near the luggage room and gaze around the hotel to pass the time. The sleepy attendant behind the check-in desk looks at me, puzzled. So I look back at him like a sane person might do.
Then I glance behind his head and see an old fashioned clock. NO, I see lots of such clocks, each set with a different time. Surely you have seen these time pieces in your travels around the world?
So now I must figure out which time zone I might be in.
Oh there! Northern Europe!! And it tells me it is about a *half hour past midnight.
This not only explains the rockus cocktail party going on behind me but the fact that my not-so-smart phone is still giving me Eastern Daylight Time in the United States.
Chagrined, I head back to Room #522 where my husband and son still slumber. I gingerly slip back into my pajamas, stumble into bed, and hide my head under a pillow.
Troubling dreams ensue.
*NOTE: In June/July it stays light in Northern Europe 21/7. Plus, I might have had a touch of “Jet Leg” as my silly son used to refer to the effect time change imposes on the human body.