The Battle of the Somme

by cheri block

Our olive orchard has been in since early July and the trees have settled into their ordered lives. The newly installed pressure valve assures the olive farmer that his new 50 babies will be hydrated three times a week, religiously, and without fail.

The yellow jackets have returned to bother me with their aggressive pester as they always do in August.  My leisurely summer salads of heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil, savored slowly out on the back deck, have deteriorated into no-man’s land, that space relegated to trench warfare. Fork in hand, I sit on one side; stinger in thorax, the wasp sits on the other. The wasp wins. I take my salad inside.

The little creek with all of its reassuring constancy continues to flow down the hill on its way to the San Francisco Bay.

The hummingbirds zoom in and out with predictable regularity.

Down at Merrill Gardens, where Queen Joan continues to live, a resident dies off and his small apartment is quickly rented to another old person whose body or mind or both has entered the final stages.

Now I understand why Gloria dressed the way she did in her older age.

Now I understand why Seiji hiked to a Tibetan base camp  at age 70.

Now I understand why Hugh bought a Harley Davidson before he died.

It’s all about exuberance.

And will.

And a little luck.

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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42 Responses to The Battle of the Somme

  1. RosaFrancoise says:

    Buon giorno, mon amica! You have captured it….
    We are trying to start our new life in Davis…and working with my parents to sell their family home and get into a residential care facility….they waited TOOOOOOO long, and are in very poor health (and are nowhere NEAR as sweet as your little momma). Now we have double stress…The sociologists warned us baby boomers that this would impact our lives…and it HAS…plus the unexpected economic catastrophe…I might just stay outside and speak gibberish to your wasps and bees all day…lol! I hiked Mission Peak with a friend last week….wanted to yodel over to you, I saw someone watering in the front, I think..a little piece of Italia, you have there!! I looked for your olive trees, as I huffed and puffed up that mountain trail…you continue to remind us all of “The Good Life”….including bees, nursing homes, loving partners, good food and times….
    Buona fortuna, little olive trees…we are all rooting for you!!!!

    • Cheri says:

      Well my dear RF, I’m sorry to learn about your parents. I remember your mom fondly, especially in my office, tending to the educational needs of your niece. That WAS me watering in the front, trying to convince my jasmine vines to grow more quickly. You should have yodeled! I might have had some ice tea for you.

  2. Brighid says:

    I too now understand…

  3. You got that right! Be wilfully exuberant!

  4. Judi Campbell says:

    Wow. And thanks for the reminder.

  5. Cyberquill says:

    Are you comparing your brush with a yellow jacket on the back deck to one of the bloodiest military operations in history? Or are you saying that life in general is like the Battle of the Somme in terms of its death toll?

  6. Richard says:

    It’s hard enough keeping your own spirits up as the party nears its end, let alone other people’s.
    Some never give up, though, and they have the edge.

    • Cheri says:

      The key point here is to stay in the moment instead of thinking about the end of the party–unless one has been told they are medically terminal and needs to prepare for death, then it’s my view we have to keep training our brain to stay here, now. As for an edge, I’m not sure about that. It’s all so difficult, isn’t it? But isn’t it worth trying?

  7. bogard says:

    Exuberance indeed!! Exactly why I purchased a 2003 Porsche Boxster S 6 weeks ago. A big smile on face every time I drive it. Bon Voyage and WAHOO!!!

  8. Rosemary says:

    NOW we’re TALKING!!!!!

    • Cheri Baby says:

      You can come too Rosemary.
      I’ll share Bogard.

      • Rosemary says:

        Oh, what fun!! You KNOW ( since your sister later on bought it from me) that I bought a new BMW Z3 years ago… I had just lost 60 pounds, and was deep into a midlife crisis….older kids didn’t need me much, husband working 12 hour + days with too much travel.. I zoomed around in that
        little sports car, often with Cloe Lovebug, the Saint Bernard, in the passenger seat….Who cared that I couldn’t fit groceries or a Home Depot run into the trunk…lol! I loved every minute….though i never got to Ikedas. I would LOVE to join you both ( although Jeff now works for a sort of competitor, we don’t have to tell him everything…). Pick me up in Davis, wild kids….moving there Saturday…

  9. Cheri Baby says:

    Happy Birthday Bogard,
    Thinking of you while up here at Tahoe.
    And now you tease me with your new purchase!!!
    Well, if truth be told, I’d like to go back to our 14th years when I hadn’t met The Judge and you hadn’t met your butterfly yet.
    We could race up Highway 80 in that Porsche and stop at Ikeda’s for a burger.
    How does that sound Bogard?

  10. Richard says:

    Adolescent fantasy, Paul. Let’s get ‘im in our new Ferrari.


    There he is – burnt out – with two helpless damsels.

    • Are we not all of us, at times, just overgrown adolscents disguised as serious adults? My wife and daughters tell me, often, “the day you will stop being an adolescent, we will start worrying.”
      Got no plans to grow up.

  11. Cindylouwho says:

    Wow! This has been rewarding and exhilarating…a lot of fun reading all the comments on my sister’s blog! Richard, I want to go in that Ferrrari as well. Wind blowing back my hair..taking tight turns— living in the moment now, Cheri. Yes, Rosie, I so enjoyed taking the Z3 off your hands. Best car ever…downshifting as I drove into turns….was so much fun. Although I had no idea that your Saint Bernard rode in the passenger seat beside you! LOL. What a sight that must have been. Ahhhhhh. So it goes….Back to my day of deadlines for my new ad. Such is the life of a graphic designer. Thank you dear sister making my day! 🙂

  12. RosaFrancoise says:

    Hellloooo-o-o-o-o-o, CindyLouWho….I think of the fun cars we used to all have with torque, and laugh as we research a new commuter car for Jeff with high mpg…I will be embarrassed having to move into the right lane going up hills….LOL! Remember the years I drove my dad’s 1970 BMW 2800, back in our senior year at Mission?? We would all scream “BMW, On The Road”….and I would shove the stick shift into gear and go up and down the hills in San Francisco…us all screaming as we had to stop at red lights, holding on with the emergency brake…then the light went green…we all screamed again as I put it into first gear, slowly let up the emergency break, let out the clutch and pushed the gas pedal….whoa, I am nervous and sea sick just reminiscing…..

    • Cindylouwho says:

      Rosie! I do remember that. I had the same experience with Don’s TR4 in San Francisco when we were dating. It barely made it into gear to go up a hill, and then I was sure the brakes were going to go as we headed down! What fun it was in our youth. We also had an experience with the headlights going dim on our way home at night as well as the windshield wipers ceasing to work in a rainstorm..and yes—as you are picturing—we had to put our arms out the windows to clear the windshield with our hands…all the way home to Fremont! LOL. I miss that car!

  13. wkkortas says:

    I have a brother who has a tendency to glom on to odd hobbies– Japanese baseball cards, antique typewriters (I had to carry some of them on one of his moves; they’re cast iron, and penitentially heavy after a couple of flights of stairs), old brownie cameras. It’s a bit crazy, but he never stops being interested in things, and he’ll never sit in a chair looking out a window no matter how old he gets. He was the will and the exuberance you so rightly say need to work hand-in-hand (which I’m guessing come in quite handy when your putting in an olive grove) to truly live as long as you live…and good for you, good lady.

    • Cheri says:

      Hooray for your brother. He and my father would have gotten along famously. My father went from one hobby to another, right up until the end of his life. He flew a plane, drove a motorboat, sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge, rode his Harley Davidson (at age 66), made computerized holiday cards, made furniture, drove heavy equipment…the list goes on and on. In his 68 years, he packed more into one lifetime than most of us do. I suppose living under his busy roof has had some effect on me…although I confess to slowing down this past year. Thanks, WK.

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