interlude: pudge, plants and puzzles

This is the second time I have written a post with “Part 1” in the title without following it up with Part 2. I never did write Part 2 for the resilience of memory, part 1 — I still may someday. The post just before this was me and my old folks, part 1. I have gathered photos for “old folks, part 2,” and will likely write that post next, but first, this interlude to blather on about quotidian happenings around here.

My friend Kim told me that she heard someone quip, “At the end of the pandemic, we will each be one of the following: a hunk, a monk, a drunk or a chunk.” I’ve clearly opted for the fourth. I know I am not alone in this, and for months, I wondered whether I might just accept being bigger and buying roomier clothes. But I woke up in the middle of the night last week, pondering my growing bulk. I’m very conscious of it, and not comfortable. Being comfortable, when it’s attainable, is crucial to a sense of well-being, so for the past week, I’ve reined in my decadent habits. I love eating way too much, but after the first few days of self-restraint, there’s pleasure to be found in being creative within set parameters, too.

It’s advisable, of course, to be prepared to be publicly self-deprecating about physical imperfections on the assumption that others are as conscious of it as I am. I learned this at my mother’s knee. Dorothy would, for instance, give her weight as “a hundred and plenty,” and was always ready to make negative comments about her appearance before (in her imagination) someone else did. My weight has fluctuated within a fifty-pound range since I was 30 or so (including pregnancies). Due to genetic predisposition, when I gain, I pack pounds onto my posterior first. A few years ago, the phrase “I’m acquiring a following” came to me in a flash as an apt self-description during one of my “spreading” phases, and I’ve employed it now and then in conversation. My recent indulgent eating habits (and, perhaps, aging) have, however, caused my anterior to become more prominent as well. As I lay in bed introspecting about my growing girth that night, I tried to think of a similar (at least mildly) humorous jest to describe this phenomenon. The first one that occurred to me was “My reputation precedes me,” but that didn’t make much sense. I decided on “I’m getting ahead of myself.”

Enough of that subject. My resolution to get to a comfortable weight may hold, may not… no promises from me. I know myself too well.

plants – succulents in particular

In addition to letting my eating habits go over the past year+, I have given my poor succulents minimum attention, causing quite a few to die of thirst and neglect and all to be covered with dust and cobwebs. Many cacti and succulents suffer a certain amount of abandonment and live on, but they can only be ignored for so long. I began to rehabilitate them last weekend, giving the dead ones a decent burial and replacing them with ones from other pots or newly purchased ones. There were also a few that had gotten overgrown and needed to be either cut back or supported. I love putting stones, shells, rubber snakes and other whimsical objects among them. For the first time, I put a formerly simply decorative ceramic owl to use as a prop for a cactus that was strangely shaped, but otherwise healthy. Almost everyone likes to be useful, and this is its chance…

As sizzling as our weather is for a few months of the year, some plants thrive in the sun and are often seen in the front and back yards of houses, including ours. The gallery below shows a few examples from our yard. Mexican bird-of-paradise (the two upper left panels) and lantana (right three panels under the cactus garden) provide flashy color spots. I used to marvel at the flowers on both when I moved here 45 years ago, examining them in fascination. They seemed so exotic compared to what I was accustomed to.

Of course, hibiscus (lower left) grows in many places, Hawaii among them, but I love the color of ours; it makes me think of peach melba (which is sadly not permitted in my current eating regime, at least if the peach flavor comes from ice cream). The cactus garden you see on the top right has a small footprint, but that large specimen blocks most of the sunlight from the window behind it — a blessing at these temperatures. We just had it cut back several feet in height. The one to the left of it started from a cutting someone gave me. I had thrown it aside for six months, then, with little hope for its survival, stuck it in the dirt. What you see of it is about half the width it has been at times. Like me, it grows out, not up.


I found a puzzle sale online and chose a few to tide me over until an exciting one came along. As you see, the box of the first one I opened (below left) showed a slightly twee image of a boy in front of a toy store — not my favorite type of puzzle image, but enough color and detail to be interesting. As I was getting the pieces organized, I thought maybe the color printing of the puzzle was flawed, because it seemed to have a very different palette than the picture on the box. As it turned out, rather than a toy store, the puzzle depicted a game of wintertime street hockey — much more puzzling to put together with no model to go by. Helpful person that I am, I taped a photo of the finished puzzle onto the box for whichever puzzler does it next.

Here’s my latest (the last of the several that made this post so long in coming):

That’s it for now.

I know of only a few folks who regularly read my posts. That’s OK with me. I’m mostly writing for myself. The downtime enforced by the pandemic gave me time and quiet enough to observe myself instead of listening to my constant inner chatter as I attempted to do more than is humanly possible. In writing down my observations, I acknowledge my human foibles and give myself credit for who I am and what I accomplish, even though I continue to fall short of perfection. It’s about time.


  1. Susan, You’re hysterically funny! I just read this after a very looooong day. Thank you for making me laugh. Looking forward to seeing you in September. Frances


  2. Another lovely piece. BTW, though, the link for Leave a Comment goes to the same place as the link for See All Comments.

    Richard S. Plattner
    2017 Phx ABOTA Lawyer of the Year
    Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
    602.743.6342 (cell)
    602.266.2002, ext. 108 (office)
    Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse autocorrect and dictation errors.


  3. Me encantó esto. No puedo creer que hayas podido armar ese rompecabezas sin una imagen de ejemplo. Yo no tengo la paciencia de hacerlo aún con una (y además le echaré la culpa a mi daltonismo como discapacidad en ese rumbo). Te quiero amiga, y ¡te mando un fuerte abrazo!


  4. Hi Susan, As one of the “few folks who regularly read your posts” – I’m qualified to comment on how much I love your writing. The flow, the detail, the whimsy and honesty – I can hear your laugh and see your facial expressions as I read. It’s a second best version of sitting across from you over a steaming cup of tea. Thanks for sharing yourself, my friend.

    On Thu, Jun 24, 2021, 4:53 PM wrote:

    > Boo’s Thoughts posted: ” This is the second time I have written a post > with “Part 1″ in the title without following it up with Part 2. I never did > write Part 2 for the resilience of memory, part 1 — I still may someday. > The post just before this was me and my old folks, par” >


  5. Susan, I am NOT a good writer, but I can tell when I come across an excellent one. I loooove reading your posts. Keep them coming!


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