The Princess and the Metaphorical Pea*

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Picture by Edmund Dulac

 

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  When life gives you a pandemic, add vodka.
                                                                                          Unknown brilliant philosopher…being me

I love to walk.  Be it a vigorous hike, or a leisurely stroll, meandering lazily or briskly covering ground; mad, sad or glad, I find joy in a good walk.  I find equal solace in Little Debbie Snack Cakes, but let’s not go into that.

Sheltering at home like most of you, denied my customary workouts at the Y, I’ve been walking the country lane where we live even more often than usual; sometimes twice a day.  I don’t have to worry about social distancing here because there isn’t anybody else around.

I suspect I’ve gained 10 pounds with all the cooking and carryout dining we’ve been doing.  That last part is totally altruistic.  I’m taking one for the team, gastronomically speaking, in an effort to support our local restaurants.  Especially those featuring fried chicken and carrot cake with about an inch-thick smother of cream cheese frosting.  Had I actually donned jeans at any time in the last month, I’m sure I would find them impossible to zip by now.  I’ve been living in a revolving selection of sweat pants since this all started.  My definition of “dressing up” in the new normal means putting on a sports bra.

This spring has been a mixed bag, weather wise.  It hit 80 last week, and then snowed this weekend.  It was brisk and I wore my winter coat, old tennies and sweat pants as I headed down the driveway carrying my trusty walking stick.  It will come as no shock to you that one thought, one topic burned fervently in my mind; for the love of sweet baby Jesus, when will I be able to get a pedicure?  JK, LOL!  Of course not.  I was thinking about our current grave situation.  But, still, I would kill for a pedicure.  Not that that’s at all important in the grand scheme of things.  Forget I mentioned it.

(By the time I’d cleared the driveway I’d managed to pick up a tiny stone in my left shoe.  No biggie.)

On the macro plane, I worried about mankind as a whole.  My heart aches for all who have been struck by this disease.  Those who are in fear for their health or those that they love.  Those who have lost their lives or those that they love.  We can’t even mourn properly.  Being unable to gather for a funeral, to celebrate someone’s life and grieve together – that strikes me as unutterably sad.

(My pants were sliding down a bit with every step, slowly but surely.  Dang it!  The pebble worked its way under my foot and was now stabbing me in the bunion. My right eyebrow started to itch, a frequent reminder of the shingles I had on my face and scalp last fall.)

I worried about our country and our economy.  Will the cure be worse than the disease?  Will there be anything left to salvage when we “open up” again? Looking at unemployment figures and the dismal state of our retirement savings leaves me vowing not to open any mail bearing the name Vanguard, T Rowe Price or Fidelity for the foreseeable future.

(The sliding underwear was taking my sweatpants along for the ride.  I wear these pants all the time with no problem, so I figured it has to be the underwear. Why, oh why, do I keep these old undies with the shot elastic?  I stuck my left hand under my parka to anchor the sliding clothing.  Budweiser and Twisted Tea cans dotted the roadside.  I figure the later trash was left by high school girls – seems like the kind of thing they’d drink.  They probably cry for the plight of the baby whales and see no contradiction in tossing their trash on my road because, duh, you can’t drive around with those empties in the car.  What if Mom & Dad caught you?)

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I’ve missed you.

I worried about my family.  My girls are half the country away from us in the San Francisco area.  Are they being careful?  Are they staying safe?  They are in good health, but this scourge has picked off the young and healthy as well as the old and infirm.  I miss my brothers and sisters far away.

(I can’t believe what slobs people are.  Jerks have tossed beer cans, cigarette butts, even major appliances along my lovely country lane.  That toilet is still there, on that little side lane, after all these years. I picked up another pebble in my left shoe. Must have a hole big enough to drive a Buick through the damn thing. My right eyebrow was twitching and itching like a son of a bitch.)

My husband has all kinds of health problems, so he is especially at risk.  His heart monitor picked up irregularities last week and when his cardiologist told him to go to the nearest hospital my heart fell as well.  A hospital, formerly sanctuary for the ill, is now a terrifying place where you might catch a worse malady than the one you came in with.  I had to drop him at the ER door – they wouldn’t let me in.  Our local hospital doesn’t have any Covid-19 cases, thank God, and he was released after only 1 night, on new meds and doing OK.

My little sister is in an assisted living facility, her abilities somewhat impaired by the brain cancer she has been living with for so long now, she’s one for the record books.  Her place is on lockdown.  The other residents are 30 years older than she, but she is now denied even the doubtful pleasure of their company – she’s trapped, unable to leave her apartment.  Meals and meds are delivered and all she sees are the masked workers and the daily phone calls from those of us who love her.  The intention is to prevent the virus from getting in but, if it does, we all know how it runs like wildfire through such places. We are terrified that this scourge will sneak in her building and ravage the residents.

(There were all types of cigarette packages dumped along the road, but Marlboro Menthol in the box is the clear favorite.  There are too many for this to be random; is that the cigarette of choice for the teenage scofflaws who toss their empties on our road? I’m not that up on the illicit preferences of the local teenager.  Or, and this is my favorite theory, are these the work of one, local dipwad? Maybe he told his wife he quit and he doesn’t want to be caught with the goods?  He pops breath mints and tosses the proof of his failed resolution at roughly the same place on his way home every day.   The stones in my shoe seemed to be getting bigger, stabbing into my tender foot with each step.  I stopped and leaned on my staff, take the shoe off and hop around trying to keep from stepping on the cold, wet ground while simultaneously grabbing at my drooping pants.  Two steps after I’d congratulated myself on getting rid of the pebbles, they came out from their under-insole hiding spot to stab me anew.)

I wallowed in self-pity, feeling isolated.  I’m missing friends and family. I’m missing laughing and eating and drinking and shopping and doing whatever the hell I want.  I’m tired of tippy-typing away at my laptop at my dining room table, the new work-from-home office for most of us.  Tired of my own company, tired of even my beloved husband and dog, who are both beginning to get on my nerves.  Something tells me that I might not be that much fun to be around 24/7, either, if my husband’s solo drives around town at all hours of the day and night are any indication.

But I reminded myself of the bottom line.  Cliché or not, it’s true: we are all in this together, and we will get through it.  We will get past these strange times.  And maybe we will be stronger for it, if we keep ourselves focused on the truly important things in life.

(I limped home, up the driveway, left foot throbbing from the rocks wedged in my shoe, clutching fistfuls of parka, sweatpants and saggy, baggy underwear which wound up in the trash 3 seconds after I got in the house.  Next time I should bring a rolling cart and some trash bags, wear rubber gloves and use one of those grabber things to pick up the junk those asshats keep dumping on our road.  Jeez, Louise, my eyebrow was itching and burning like I was being stung by fire ants. )

Faith, family, hope and love: everything else is merely distraction.

Stay safe, my friends.

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*For you youngsters, here’s the short version of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale of “The Princess and the Pea.”

Once upon a time there lived a queen whose son was of marriageable age.  The queen was determined that only a genuine princess would do for him.  One night during a terrible storm, a young woman knocked on the castle door and announced she was a royal princess who had lost her way and was seeking shelter.  The queen was skeptical.  She had seen many young women who would use their charms and any means possible to gain fame and fortune by trapping a prince into marriage.  It was the medieval precursor to “The Bachelor.”  The queen had already saved her son from some hussy who was shacked up with 7 men of short stature (7!), and a floozy with see-through shoes who drove around in a pumpkin.  She was on her guard.

The queen led the young woman to a guest chamber and helped her into a four-poster bed piled so high with mattresses and feather pillows she needed a ladder to climb in.  Unbeknownst to anyone, the queen had devised a test for the young woman.  At the very bottom of the bed, under all the mattresses and feather pillows, the queen had placed a tiny pea.

Now, it’s a well-known fact that a princess is much more delicate and sensitive than your run-of-the-mill girl.  The queen figured a true princess would be able to feel the pea.

When the girl came down to breakfast, the queen asked how she had slept.  Being well-mannered, the girl said “fine, thank you,” and the queen’s heart sank.  Being truthful, however, the girl added, “I don’t mean to complain, but there must have been some big rocks stuck among the mattresses and pillows.  I tossed and turned all night and am black and blue.”  Huzzah!  The queen knew that this delicate girl was the true princess she sought for her son, because she was so very sensitive, even though some would say she was too easily distracted by minor irritations and should just concentrate on the important issues at hand.  And they lived happily ever after.

 

 

About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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43 Responses to

  1. Jack & Connie says:

    Loved your blog, Peg. Have missed them. We think of the Schulte family often. Our best to you and Bill.

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  2. SO glad to see your back to blogging. Have missed you, literally and figuratively, my sister. Keep sharing your insights for you have a distinctive way of writing. Love and hugs, your biggest fan, T-Berry! 🙂

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  3. Helen J Bryan says:

    Welcome back! I missed your amazing insight of the world!

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    • pegoleg says:

      That’s so sweet. The blog got to feel like one more thing on my to-do list, so I walked away. But I’ve really missed it, especially the interaction with readers, like you.

      Like

  4. QP and Eye says:

    You’re back. I’ve missed you. Another great post and a much needed shot of humour into my morning. Thank you 😊 Linda

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  5. Margy says:

    Good to hear from you!
    Hopefully we are all near the end of the worst bit and will start to recover together soon!

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    • pegoleg says:

      Miss Margy, how the heck are you? Nice to see your smiling avatar again.

      From your mouth to God’s ear.

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      • Margy says:

        I’m fine and like you, missing the gym but enjoying walking… which here in an AZ seniors community means more socializing instead of less. Lots of short and cheery conversations happening across the width of the street or from one driveway to another!

        Like

  6. Al says:

    Hi Peg! I was so delighted to see your post in my reader. It’s so good to see that time and nasty viruses have not dulled your acerbic wit in the least. We all really missed you. In this unprecedented and scary time, we need you more than ever!

    The description of your walk was priceless. However, I must suggest to you there are far easier ways of getting stoned than walking around with holes in your boots.

    A special shout out to Tar-Buns for getting you back in the game! Now maybe the memory foam your easy chair will regain its original shape.

    Seriously, I missed you!!!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I missed you, too. How are you and yours doing during this bizarre time? Every morning I wake up and that line from one or the other of the Shakespeare plays runs through my mind, “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day…” It’s like living in a Twilight Zone episode, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Al, it’s fitting that I’m reading your comment on 4-20. Haha!
      I live vicariously through Peg’s blog so I’m thrilled to hear from her bloggy friends!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Peg! Shortly before everything closed, I walked my local disc golf course with a trash bag, picking up trash on every hole. It was a bit more rewarding than a typical played round and I felt smug and self-satisfied afterwards. Not quite as self-satisfied as I feel after commenting on a blog, but close.

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  8. Mary says:

    Loved your blog but I’m biased. Besides throwing away the underwear I suggest you find some different shoes! Cute picture.

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  9. Janet says:

    Count me among the “so very happy to see you again” crowd! Have missed your wit and wisdom.

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  10. susielindau says:

    Hey Peg! Great to “see” you. All we need now is the Good Greatsby, Byronic Man, and She’s A Maineiac!

    I’m so sorry to hear about your sister. Is your husband okay? All my malady’s started with a PVST and a heart ablation in 2011. It never gave me a problem again! Nothing worse than a stone in the shoe of a princess! I can totally relate.

    I feel you and your underwear. Wait. That didn’t sound right. Anyway, I’m Jonesing for a piece of your carrot cake. I was Defcon 4 on Boulder trash when the coronavirus hit. It’s super hard to pick up trash considering hair coloring gloves and Lysol wipes on everything from the grocery store!

    I wish you lived closer so Danny and I could drive up and honk the horn! Hang in there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Go Jules Go says:

      Hear hear! Having had the good fortune of meeting that bloggy trifecta in person over the years, I can assure you I’ve been laying the peer pressure on THICK! I thought we almost had Greatsby for a minute there last year!

      Liked by 1 person

      • pegoleg says:

        Did I miss Greatsby’s momentary resurrection last year? Darn! Guess I need to log in more often than every couple of years.

        I haven’t been Lysolling (is that now a verb?) every bag that comes in the house, and that is probably my bad. Part of me thinks if that what it takes to avoid this scourge, then whateva. Then I lie awake at night and worry about my loved ones. Heavy sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Faith, family, hope and love: everything else is merely distraction. <——-Amen, sistah!

    I am soooooooooooooooo freaking happy to see you here again! Reading your words is comforting like a warm hug, a snugly blanket or a good pair of baggy underwear. Oh how I wish we could social distance together right now!

    This insane time we're in now is really playing with emotions. One day I'm fine thinking it'll all be okay, the next I'm full-on panicking worrying about my mom getting sick. To calm myself I go for long walks, listen to music, watch The Office on Netflix, and even drink a bit of gin occasionally, if needed. Later today, I'll raise a glass to you, Peggles, and wish you and your family love and safety during this crisis.

    Liked by 2 people

    • pegoleg says:

      I’m so happy to see you too. Sorry I haven’t stayed up to date on reading blogs, especially yours. Reading (and writing) began to be a chore so I just stopped. Then I got out of the habit.

      Can we make the beverage wine? I hate drinking Christmas trees (aka gin.)

      Love and hugs to you and the family. Hope you are not ready to strangle one another.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Liz Schulte says:

    I went on a walk the other day with sweatpants that were too big and falling down, too, Mom. Highly unpleasant.

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  13. Go Jules Go says:

    Peg, Peg, Peggles! It’s TRUE! Here you ARE! And here I am, catching you on the cusp of your new career in public sanitation. Sure, it seems like every day is the same, but that’s only because you haven’t started designing your new neon orange wardrobe yet (and I know you can sew like a boss, too, so, no excuses). Don’t forget the matching face mask!

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    • pegoleg says:

      Miss Jules! My sister, Tar, sent me a link to your blog and that started me back to the land of the (bloggy) living. She said you moved to the far away coast and now look at you, all buff an vegan.

      I’m getting ready for my daily walk, fresh, clingy underwear and all. I think this will be the day I change shoes. Yahoo!

      Hope you and Uncle Jessie are doing OK.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Welcome back! We’ve missed your humor. Thanks for the walk down the lane, even if it was littered with beer cans, cigarette trash and a toilet. We’re hunkered down here in northwest WA state with a few nursing home type places rife with COVID. The most cases in one an hour south of us. Keep getting out for your walks, get all those pesky pebbles out of your shoes, and order some new underwear. Oh! And hang in there.

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    • pegoleg says:

      So glad to see you, too. The nursing home situations are the scariest of this whole thing, to me. I wonder if the attempt to quarantine them just makes them sitting ducks if the virus gets in.

      Hope you are staying safe and sane through all this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks. So far, my little family is healthy. And I’ve been homeschooling my teenager for 4 years, so not much is changing there. As for sanity? Well… we’re all doing our best. (wink)

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  15. Bill Richart says:

    Welcome back, Peg, to the land of the, er, writing. AnnMarie and I were playing Yahtzee and comparing past scores, and she said “my bottom is 200” and I replied, “I hear ya, sister, need to get on the treadmill tonight…” (I think I passed Bill in the hospital…) Anyways, always enjoy your writing but would so prefer to see you in person. Love to you and Bill.

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  16. Jeanne Hebner. says:

    Hey Peg. Just sending a warm greeting from northern Michigan. I haven’t seen your blog in awhile and so I thought I’d send a greeting. Be safe and healthy. I pray for Libby I hope the virus doesn’t invade her space.
    Thanks for the chuckle!
    ❤️ Jeannie (Cain)

    Liked by 1 person

    • pegoleg says:

      Jeanne, thank you so much for stopping by! How are you and your gang doing in northern Michigan? Thanks for the prayers, especially for Lib. These are surreal times, aren’t they? Stay safe!

      Like

    • Hey Jeanne, so nice to see you here on Peg’s blog. Back in the day her blog and WordPress were a different world. She got Freshly Pressed a number of times, it was a big deal in blog world. I continue to be her biggest fan cause I like her writing. Maybe we’ll meet this summer. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Distractions are a blessing right now and I have to say, finding you here was one of the best distractions I’ve had in over a month.
    I love how you weaved the two tales of of heroins with a delicate nature, each with their own pebble (pea) so to speak.

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    • pegoleg says:

      Thank you. I like to think of myself as a delicate princess, however much physical reality might disprove that. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, Peg-O-Leg. You’re still slim and fit. I envy you.
        Now to replicate your good habits and all will be good, right?
        I can get rid of this Covid-15 easy-peasy, right??? Need some motivation!
        Living with a chef who cooks every night is hard. Shouldn’t complain, he is good, my hips are a testament to that 🙂

        Like

        • pegoleg says:

          I don’t even have your excuse of having a gourmet chef in the house. The combination of mind-numbing boredom and fingernail-biting terror has me eating everything in sight. Covid-15, Ha ha! Soooo true.

          Liked by 1 person

  18. Julie Butterfield says:

    Your writing is beautiful! It’s comforting to know others have the same thoughts and emotions as I do during this time. I have to mention we live in the country and I am always amazed that people litter. Be safe and I look forward to your ramblings!

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