I want you to know that just because you're older, life doesn't have to get boring. I'm busy all the time. Maybe that's because it takes me a lot longer to do the things I used to do. Things change.
For example, I don't hear as well as I used to. But you know when you live with college kids, that can be a good thing. This year the boys are playing real music. I actually hear songs instead of just the beat! And guess what - many mornings I read the paper without glasses. I can't figure out that one. My taste buds are still good because I certainly enjoy eating. I like to cook less so I really appreciate eating out. I even went out with a man for ice cream!
I have a confession to make. When I'm talking with women, I hear all about the household chores. Well, all women have to do dishes, clean floors, make beds and wash clothes. I don't want to hear it. Fortunately, men don't do those chores, so we can talk about music, television, politics, reading - all kinds of things. I think my sister Jo and I are among the very few women who know what's going on in the world. Thanks to my father, we found out what was going on in the world every night at supper time. It became a habit and we still read newspapers and watch the news to keep informed. I wonder, do men find women boring? Tell us. We need to know.
I have told you that from time to time I hold lawn sales to raise money for our youth ministry. Last week, I had another lawn sale. A man came over looking for furniture for his apartment. He didn't find anything, but we talked about life, philosophies of life and politics. It was so refreshing. I hope he enjoyed it as much as I did. I'll probably never see him again, but that's OK. It's things like this that make life interesting. We can do it for others and enrich their lives. I didn't make much money, but I enjoyed two days of meeting new people.
Now I must tell you about the boys across the hall. There are three of them. All three are named Pat. Wasn't that considerate of them? I can't forget their names. After my sale was over, I asked two of them if they would please take the clothes rack and two cardboard boxes to the basement for me. They did and I tried to pay them, but they refused. So tonight, I'm treating all three to a spaghetti dinner. I hoped they would like my Sicilian sauce. It's sweeter than most.
Well, the dinner was a great success. I really do enjoy young people, especially boys. I'm used to seeing them as we had two sons. The first thing I showed them when they walked in was the salad bowl. I had cut it all up the night before. I always leave out the salad dressing until just before we eat, but to make sure the lettuce doesn't wilt or get discolored I put in a silver spoon or fork and then cover the bowl with plastic. Someone taught me that putting a piece of silver in with the bowl keeps the lettuce fresh. It works. One of the Pats said he was going to write that down. Then I told them the stairway light leading to the cellar was on my meter and so is the front hallway light. They are welcome to use both, but please turn them off when they're not using them. I also told them if they unplug electrical outlets before going to bed, it'll save some money on their bill. But please, leave the refrigerator plugged in! You know how kids leave lights on even if they are not using them? Well, now that they are paying the bills, they might have a motivation to turn the lights off.
Sometimes I feel like Confucius. The mothers tell me their kids are always saying, "Margaret says..." but then other times, I just feel confusion.
People ask me how I can live with college students. Actually, I like it. The secret is communication. I tell them I go to bed after 11 p.m. and I expect to sleep.
"Move your party to the front of the house and turn down the music."
It works. One word of advice - don't hold in your anger. If you do, when you finally let everything out, it will all come out as criticism and ugly. Do it when you're all calm. Ask them, "What conditions do we need to have harmony?" Then you can add the things they forgot. Isn't that a better technique? It works with your kids, too.
Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org