"Lately I'm saying 'I used to’ a lot," my friend said while we were having coffee to catch up after our trip to Spain. I'd heard her say it before, but I think it is profound. It made me think. Yes, I say that frequently. At my age, there are many.
Here are some of my “used to” thoughts in no particular order.
I used to run. I think about that often now—didn’t occur to me before age 40 that someday I wouldn’t. Oh yes, I knew I wouldn’t run when I was 80, but the need or desire just went away. As a child I ran all the time, even when I didn’t need to.
I used to skip or take two at a time on the stairs. Sometimes I would run up stairs on all fours. I know I was an adult because I was doing it on Abington Road where we lived for 34 years. And until December 2013, I would even walk up and down stairs for exercise at our Mill Run church. Perhaps that’s why I have bursitis now. Even one stair is painful.
I used to go out every morning to a coffee shop. That habit started when I was a teen and ended in early 2014. I knew I couldn’t have caffeine anymore, and drinking Panera’s decaf was like hot water, so I gave it up and learned to make decaf at home. I began putting $2/day into the piggy bank for our trip to Spain. I didn’t always remember to do it, but had about $600 when September 2015 rolled around. Favorite haunts in addition to Panera’s the last decade were Chef-O-Nette, Paul’s Pantry, McDonald’s on Rt. 33, Bob Evans on Sunday, and at Lakeside Coffee ‘n Cream. The regulars at the Chef used to have parties together, attend weddings and funerals. I could hardly start the day without them.
I used to go to work five days a week. From fall 1986 to fall 2000 I was the Veterinary Medicine Librarian at The Ohio State University. Loved that job. The students were terrific, and the library was located on the far west side of campus, so I never had to fight the bad traffic. The field was fascinating, and I’ve remained interested in medical topics to this day as you can tell from my blog topics. It included research and publication, which I enjoyed. Blogging allows publishing without the middle man. But I’d had many jobs before that because I accepted temporary contracts before a tenured permanent job came along so I could be home with the children in the summers. I’d worked in agriculture, Latin American studies, user education, and I’d also worked for a library non-profit (Ohio-net) and the State of Ohio (Ohio Steps) before returning to Ohio State, and in both jobs I did research and publishing.
I used to bake pies. I used to call myself the 2nd best pie baker East of the Mississippi. Mom got first place, of course. When there would be a family event in Indiana or a church pot luck, someone would always suggest I bring dessert, because they knew it would be a pie. But something happened, maybe 10 or 15 years ago. The pie crusts just weren’t turning out. And as far as I’m concerned, no crust no pie. So I’ve passed the family mantle along to my daughter, who not only makes wonderful pies, they are works of art.
My Sugar free apple pie from 2009
Chocolate Peanut Butter, chocolate peanut butter cream cheese tart, Strawberry rhubarb, flaky pie crust, apple sour cream, applesauce pie, raisin (sugarless), cheesecake pumpkin, onion pie, apple dumplings, peach fluff pie, cheeseburger in paradise pie,
My daughter’s artistic pies.
I used to be a dog person. Since 1976 we’ve always had a cat (Mystery, We Be Three, Lotza Spotza, who is now about 18). When I was a child we always had a dog around. Lassie. Lassie 2. Pretty. Brownie (or was his name Fluffy?). Zero. Jerry. Lady. Polka dot. Lady and Polka dot were Dalmatians. Lassie, Pretty and Brownie were part collie. Zero was a mixed hound who “followed” me home one day (with a lot of encouragement). We left Lassie at my grandmother’s when we went to California in 1944—he died in a tractor accident.
I used to be a horse fan. Now I just enjoy looking at them. I would spend my afternoons at the Ranz’ horse/cattle barn near our home, I would ride the horses of friends, and I was fearless. The Wiggins children had a blind pony which I would ride bareback along the hi-way. I would draw pictures of horses and write stories. My brother and I would build snow horses in the yard. I saved all my babysitting and paper route money and finally when I was 11 years old I bought a horse. Got over it.
I used to draw and paint, both as a child and an adult. I probably haven’t painted anything in 4 years. Mainly I did watercolor most recently, but back in the 70s I did a lot of paintings using acrylics. When I was a child my mother would get rolls of discontinued wall paper for me to use, and provided stacks of used white newsprint from the printing plant in Mt. Morris. My grandmother gave me a box of oil paints when I was about 10 and gave me her old supplies. I still have my wood box. Our schools didn’t have art classes, but one year my mother took a typing class in night school in Freeport, and I went along and took an art class. I didn’t like it because I was the only child in the class and couldn’t draw horses.
Watercolor paintings from several years ago; I think these are studies done in classes I took.
Paintings from the 1970s when I used my children as subjects.
I used to not appear in public in jeans and athletic shoes. After I retired, I was always well dressed when I went to the coffee shop, then would change when I got home. Until about 2010, I always wore high heels with my slacks. After exercise class I would go home and change clothes rather than appear in the grocery store in my athletic clothes. Somewhere after 70 I decided that was probably wasted energy. Now I can look as much a slob as other retired people.
I used to be a Democrat—for 40 years. I voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and haven’t looked back. I may have been a Conservative for many years before since I am an evangelical Christian, was pro-business, and I was pro-life even as a Democrat. When my husband started his own business in 1994 I really had my eyes open, but it took awhile for that to translate to politics. That said, it still bothers me that Republicans are like bulls in a china closet, and can’t hang together to accomplish something or use a crisis the way the Democrats do.
I used to hate exercise. Actually, I still do. But I’ve participated in an exercise class at church most years since I retired. For 2015 I’ve been riding my nice Power Spin Gold’s Gym stationery bike, and by doing just a mile at a time about 6 or 7 times a day, I’ve found something that doesn’t hurt my legs and yet is good cardio and burns calories. I’ve ridden 1500 miles since Christmas and lost 35 pounds in 6 months. I could say “I used to weigh 170 lbs.”
I used to sing. About 9 years ago I decided to join the church choir. I grew up in a home with music and I missed that. I even sang in a little quartet with my siblings. Only one of us had the talent and determination to become a musician and it wasn't me, but I did take piano lessons and play trombone as well as participate in choirs until I graduated from high school. At UALC in 2006 I just loved it thinking my soprano range would come back. The director Mike Martin was wonderful. But the voice didn’t come back. If you don’t use something for 50 years, there are penalties. So after a year I gave it up.
A poetry prompt from Tweetspeak this week was on games. So I chose Hide and Seek and worked in the “I used to” theme. I used to write poetry, but hadn’t done it for several years.
Hide and seek, 1950 and 2015
I used to run through damp grass at dusk
Hiding behind fat trees--or in the garage,
Excited that the all the kids showed up at our house.
Now I scan the shelves for my car keys
Looking for my purse--it’s not where I put it,
Concerned that the dinner date is in fifteen minutes