It swivels. It comforts. It rocks!

I just bought a recliner.  For myself.  Oh yes I did.  Me – the woman who once threatened a man with dire consequences if he so much as browsed in the recliner department. I believed then (and maybe it’s true) that the combination of a recliner and a TV remote spelled the death of a relationship. Only now I don’t care because I have a big crush on this chair.

It’s butter-color leather, and it’s one of the smaller ones.  It’s looks a bit like a side chair, but make no mistake, it reclines.  One touch of that side-lever and whoosh, legs are lifted, back and neck are supported, and it becomes a cocoon. A cocoon that swivels and rocks and does everything except read my book to me.

Some people I know who’ve owned and loved recliners were disposed to do so because of health issues and these chairs are certainly the ticket for people who need to nap in a propped-up position.  My father, toward the end of his life, was more comfortable in his recliner than anyplace else in the house, and from his seat of honor, we all gathered around him to visit.  

But I didn’t buy this lovely hunk of leather for any sensible reasons.  I simply fell in lust.  I’ve always been partial to rockers, and especially swiveling rockers.  Yellow is my favorite color, so this one called to me from the corner of the hospice thrift store, where it was almost hidden away.   

I sat down and in a policy reversal worthy of a seasoned politician,  decided this chair needs to be delivered to my house tomorrow.  

Ó Anita Garner 2009


Extreme re-purposing – turning a funeral home into a preschool

A notice appeared in the newspaper saying the old funeral home had been sold and would become a preschool.  That building’s been there for decades.  It’s handsome, the way those places always used to be.  It was vacant for a long time but the grounds around it were always manicured.


Our town has experienced a population boom-let in the under-5-year-old category and every preschool has a long waiting list, so though it seemed odd at first, making use of this well-situated property does make sense.  Still it’s quite a stretch to imagine this place changing so far from one point in the circle of life to the extreme other.


The construction permit was taped to the heavy door, then the orange cones and heavy equipment arrived. The parking lot concrete left in trucks but the building remained intact.  Those leaded windows could stand replacing and how they’d reconfigure remained a mystery.  It still looked more funeral home than preschool.


I returned from an overnight trip and all of a sudden bright blue playground equipment had appeared, rising up from the very spot where people used to enter in a hearse at the end of life.


A giant blue jungle gym, blue slides and swings changed everything.  With these in place, the real promise of the project is already realized. For the next however-long this incarnation lasts, it’s gone from a place for sadness to a smile-inducing destination.  From stately to noisy is the perfect re-purposing.


Ó Anita Garner 2009



An artist’s date

Keeping a date with an artist is an important part of my life.  Not the fantasy kind of date of extreme youth, but a date to appreciate the art that surrounds us, made by  geniuses living or dead.  With a little planning, I can be at a museum or a play, a movie or a concert or a festival, soaking in the output of creative souls.

I’m  looking forward to visiting the new Walt Disney Museum which opened this month at the Presidio in San Francisco. I’ve made a date to go and no matter the size of the crowd when I get there,  a date with an artist is really time alone.   Just me and the art.

Going on an art adventure alone encourages a focus on what we’re there for. The idea is to take ourselves to see or hear something that we’re not exposed to every day.  Appreciating while in the company of a friend is fun of another kind, involving the inevitable “what did you think of that?” discussion, but alone we soak it in on our own schedule, every bit of it, even the parts we disagree with, and then we’re free to form our own opinions about it.

We don’t need an excuse to keep dates like this, nor do we have to wait ’til we’re desperate for an escape.  I want this to be a regular part of my life, going out of my way to  see and hear the artistic output of other individuals.   There is another advantage – the  freedom to appreciate something that nobody else we know cares about.

Ó Anita Garner 2009


Seeing ourselves as others see us is not for the weak.

We’ve heard that aging is not for sissies.  Here’s another truth.  Accepting the reality in the mirror first thing in the morning is not for the faint of heart.  And the photo taken for my driver’s license is not necessarily the real me.  I choose not to see myself the way the Department of Motor Vehicles sees me.  You’d think with that photo in my wallet I’d believe it’s true.  Nope.  I’m able to convince myself that picture is a fluke, a trick of lighting. 

I need my illusions.  People who care anything about me know that and leave them alone.  Some days I’m my worst critic.  Other days I look in the mirror and decide I like it. Sometimes what I’m liking is not the way I really look, but the way I think I look.

If I could see myself as others see me, would I want to? 

1)  No. 

2)  Depends on what day it is.

3)  Please, no.

It’s hard work staying inside my bubble. The real world is filled with so many bubble-bursters, they don’t need any help from me.  So rather than seeing it as delusion, I prefer to think of it as an elaborate alternate-reality scheme, one that helps me to keep on keeping on.

Ó Anita Garner 2009

Bath time rituals – a soapy story.

Bath time is sacred. I enjoy it an unreasonable amount, but a private bath isn’t always easy to achieve.

When my daughter was very young, I announced I needed a few minutes after work to decompress in the tub and then she could tell me everything, ask me anything.  At first that was okay with her – until it wasn’t.  She sat outside the bathroom door, asking me is it time yet? 

Then we got a puppy and she “helped” him get into the bathroom, so she could shout from outside,  “Buster!  Naughty! Come back here.  Mommy is having her bath time.”  Then it was “Can I come in and get Buster?”  Then the two of them sat on the bath mat and they were so cute, I surrendered. The new rule was you can sit here if you learn a song.  Starting from whenever she could carry a tune, we sang in the bathroom together while sharing my “private, sacred, must-have” bath time.

Now her little girl, Caedan, is already bending the definition of the word, “privacy” to suit her needs.  She’s supposed to ask, “Do you need privacy?” before opening a door.   From the other side of the door, I heard,  “Do you want me to scrub your back with that big brush?”  and “May I open the door now?  With no puppy to use as an excuse, she employs other means.  

She visited me in a hotel room and while poking around the amenities laid out for guests, she asked, “What’s this?”  Until that day, she’d never seen a bar of soap. She knows from hand sanitizer and liquid bath wash, but a world of miniature soaps beckoned.    

Back home, I related this to our friend, Pam, who promptly sent an assortment of guest-size bars of soap in all colors and fragrances to Caedan.  My daughter put them into a pretty dish where she can reach them. 

During a recent visit, I was soaking away in a “private” bath when she knocked on the door and asked,  “Would you like to use my soap?” I sensed some hesitation.  This was the ultimate sacrifice.  I said yes just to see what would happen. She told me she would choose which soap.  (Generous – but not to a fault.)  She brought it in and handed it to me, but a couple of seconds later said, “I  need my soap back now” and quickly exited.

From now on when I really need privacy while visiting my daughter’s house, all I have to do to be left alone is mess with those little soaps.  Note for Christmas list:  A stocking filled with bars of Ivory soap – “So pure it floats.” 

Ó Anita Garner