No Resting in Peace

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, seen in a rare relaxed pose, insists there will be no rest in peace.There are so many ways to be conned. Especially if you’re a senior citizen. I used to worry that my mother would lose all of her little fortune to some cruel predator. Living alone, in her nineties, and hard of hearing, my mom was the perfect target for Medicare scams, fake charities, cyber-stalking, con artists selling counterfeit prescription drugs or anti-aging products, and phony grandkid-in-trouble-send-money messages. I had nightmares that she’d be a victim of identity theft or credit-card fraud. She was always getting calls from telemarketers and various organizations asking for donations. And who knows what phishing and financial hoaxes plagued her emails.

Mom loved sweepstakes and lotteries. You’re the lucky winner, they’d announce: just pay a couple-hundred for shipping and handling. Buy or donate and you’ll have a chance to win… they’d lure her in. My mother had a hard time saying no to any of these, as witnessed now by the piles of her junk mail still being forwarded daily to my house.

“She’s in a better place now,” people said when Mom died last winter, “May she rest in peace.” But there was no resting in peace for me. I went crazy phoning to pay the bills and close all her accounts. Banks, Medicare, Department of Motor Vehicles…. At every institution, I was repeatedly asked for her birth date, her passwords and mother’s maiden name, her “social” and address. For months I felt queasy spewing out her private information to these strangers over the phone. But not as nauseous as last week when my sister told me of the alert from one of the medical providers: they’d been hacked and Mom’s personal data had been breached.

It felt like I, myself as much as my dead mother, had been invaded. Robbed. Violated. I avoided leaving home and didn’t answer the phone. Had I somehow contributed to that cyber crime? I stayed off Facebook for days.

My friend emailed me a photo she’d snapped. Me. In “a rare relaxing moment,” she wrote. This might be the last time you see me resting because OMG, I’m the vulnerable senior now. And I’m horrified that I won’t even be safe from hackers when I’m dead.

 

Have you checked your credit rating lately? What do you do to protect your identity, your money, your peace?

Savoring the Summer

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, is savoring the summer.Can’t sit still. Can’t stay inside. It’s beautiful outside and the summer is almost over. So I’m going to grab my fill of campfires, pond swims, watermelon, gardening, and sitting outside to listen to frogs. My Super Sweet 100 tomato plant is still producing. Over a hundred cherry tomatoes to add to this summer of small pleasures.

I’m wishing you much sweetness in these last days of summer.

 

Too Much Change

Robin Botie of ithaca, New York, is resisting change after years of too many changes and finally finding her own crazy path through life.How willing are you to change your habits and/or lifestyle? This was the question haunting me the last three months. It took that long to get an appointment with the particular medical person who many friends and acquaintances were raving about, about how she had improved their health and changed their lives.

The question was towards the end of the thirteen-page patient survey the office mailed to me, in the section querying about leisure behavior patterns, diet, alcohol and other substance consumption. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d scored my willingness to change as fairly high. Then, as soon as I sealed the envelope to mail it back, I knew I hadn’t answered truthfully. And now, on the eve of my scheduled appointment, in the middle of a brilliant summer of partying, wine tastings, campfires, garden celebrations, picnics, barbecues and dinners on the deck, I am pretty sure I would not want to change even a tiny blessed thing about my life (other than getting back my daughter who died).

When Marika died 8 ½ years ago, I didn’t want to be alive at all. For many miserable months, I had to work hard to find or create reasons to drag myself out of bed each day. Friends, food and wine were the only lights in my life. Filling my time with these as much as possible, over the years I found ways to keep myself together, keep looking forward. So much changed. Too much change. Now, finally I feel like I re-found myself, redefined my self and my new path in life. The road I follow may seem strange to some. But I am making my own peculiar way and life is beautiful once again. As for my habits and health—I am keeping my appointment, but I don’t know how much more I can bear in the way of changing.

 

How willing are you to make changes?

 

 

 

Why Can’t I Keep my Mouth Shut?

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a bad-ass flower, a zinnia, as she wonders, Why can't I keep my mouth shut?We’re all better off if I say nothing this week. Because these days, too many of my truest feelings and worst thoughts keep slipping out of my mouth. No, they tumble out of my mouth and flatten everyone within earshot. My most bold opinions come spewing out of me like semi-automatic gunfire. And people don’t usually react well to this.

I don’t know if this crankiness and loss of control is because of all the rain, the heat, my advanced age, the current political turmoil, or possibly just boredom from my new diet of chard and fish—but lately I seem to have zero ability to hold my tongue. At unexpected times I feel compelled to speak what’s in my mind. And I’m a stick of dynamite with a short fuse, a walking time bomb that could explode if you say the wrong thing.

Why can’t I keep my mouth shut? In the past, I was always the wishy-washy one, the one who wouldn’t take a stand, couldn’t make a decision. Teachers and friends used to beg me to speak up and be more assertive. And now, I have no patience for others’ cruelty, stupidity, or anything that does not comply with what I perceive as the truth. At the first inkling of discomfort, I’m likely to spout out,

Hey, life’s too short, and Hey, I don’t have to swallow any nonsense anymore. I’m one tough bitch with a dead daughter. So don’t mess with my head.

Photographing flowers calms me down, helps me to see sense. But there was nothing quiet about this brazen-faced zinnia. In a week-old bouquet, it still blazed brilliant among the shriveled-up blooms surrounding it. Another bad-ass flower. Sassy. Like the daughter I’m missing. Yow, back in her times I would be crushed to the pulp whenever she unloaded what she had to say.

 

What gets your goat? Or gets you to verbally attack the ones you love most?

 

Taking Lives

Robin Botie of Ithac, New York, photoshops a zinnia to make a heavenly bed for the millipedes she deprived of life. Life is precious.Over the last four days I mercilessly snuffed out hundreds of little lives. Millipede lives.
Fleeing harsh conditions in their natural environment, thousands of millipedes were crawling up and down the exterior of my house seeking refuge from the horrendous heat and drenching rains. They wormed their way inside to wander the more hospitable vast plains of my carpeted and tiled floors.

But I did not want millipedes in my house. Even though I knew they were just trying to survive. I have it good here: a fridge full-to-bursting, air-conditioning, Netflix, cozy furnishings…. Comfortably holed up in the house during the heat wave, I wasn’t eager to share, especially with creatures that had more legs than my dog or I. The arthropods managing to penetrate the sacred walls of my home found me standing guard with my Dust-Buster. The first day I sucked up over a hundred. As my almost-hourly dust-busting raids continued, I lost track of the count.

Days later, dreading emptying out the Dust-Buster, I knew I’d find maybe a thousand millipedes crammed into its dark bowels. Dead or still squirming. Small sparks of life languishing or extinguished by my own will. I put the recharging Dust-Buster out in the mudroom where I wouldn’t have to think about that.

But I did think. As one who watched my beloved daughter’s life slip away, as one who knows how fragile and fleeting life is, I hate the thought of taking lives, taking the life out of any living organism. And I had to wonder: who am I to condemn a whole population of these creatures? Do millipedes have hearts? Can they hear the roar of the approaching vacuum? What drives such a creature to survive? And what is it that gets me feeling so invaded and hell-bent on squashing all that out?

I went to photograph zinnias, and peeked into their wavy wormy-looking centers that I could photo-shop into heavenly beds for the poor creatures I deprived of life.

 

When is it okay to torture or take a life?