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Another Day in the Country

© Another Day in the Country

We stopped the other day on our way home from exercising at the health club in Abilene to buy a card. Our friend Kay always sends the best cards for just any occasion. They are funny, provocative, thoughtful, a hoot! Now was our chance to reciprocate. (The exercising is another story.)

Okay, I might as well talk about the exercise. I have a sister and a daughter who seem to really enjoy exercising first thing in the morning. I don’t. We all lived together for several years in California and I’d wake up every morning to Jane Fonda (or some upgrade thereof) pounding away. I’d come staggering out and they’d be stepping and bending, slogging and jogging. I’d join in just long enough to get past them on my way to the kitchen and that would be my organized exercise of the day. “Mom, you have to do more than joke about it,” my daughter would say.

“I’ll do it the natural way,” I’d retort. Work, especially outdoors, has always been my exercise of choice. However, about 20 years ago, the natural way wasn’t working anymore, and I started gaining weight. Then, after Tim died, there was this emotional and physical backwash. Something wasn’t right, (aside from what was happening in our town) because there seemed to be a weakness in my body’s core strength. I definitely needed more exercise, especially during the winter, if I was going to stay healthy.

“Will you go with me to a health club?” I asked Jess. I’m no good at doing this exercise thing in my front room. I need to have company, something or someone I am responsible to (like the designated driver) to keep me exercising. So, we do it — in spite of the cost of gas, ignoring the extra driving time — three times a week — in Abilene. That’s our commitment. And now I’ve told you. We started in January and I can already tell the difference. So, that’s the story about exercising and now we’ll get to the part I intended to write about, my ongoing, never-ending search for great greeting cards.

In California, we used to love skimming the card section in stores, laughing our heads off. It was almost as much fun as going to a movie. When a card is profound, unique, you don’t mind spending $3 or $4. In the Napa Valley (tourist land) there were lots more fantastic cards than I could ever afford! Here in the country, I have trouble finding a good card. I know where to find cheap cards, generic cards, but not funny, thought-provoking, great cards.

“Two for one,” I said to my sister as she climbed out at the curb. “Next door to the Hallmark store there’s a place with Leaning Tree cards right in the window,” I’m pointing. Almost immediately, she’s out of the first store (no sack in hand) and into the second. Then she’s in the car, disappointed.

“Nothing,” she mumbles, “And the card section ran the length of the store! All they’ve got are cards that sing — that’s the hot thing, I guess — and now cards with lights. What happened to thought provoking? I guess, it’s a concept they traded in for batteries.”

There were skads of “Happy Birthday, Son” or “Happy Birthday, Grandson” on the shelf and tons of sympathy cards! We decided, a long time ago, that sympathy cards are big business in Kansas. In California, they either don’t really know you (too many people) or they’re busy. But in Kansas, folks pay attention when there is a funeral. I don’t know if it is guilt, love or manners, but when a well-known local dies, the sympathy card section in stores is wiped out immediately and brace yourself, mourners, you’ll probably be receiving duplicates. Same with someone having a “card shower” on their birthday — another Kansas phenomena, advertised in the newspaper — especially if you have your heart set on a card with a specific number. If you aren’t quick, or smart enough to plan ahead and stock up, that special card is gone, county wide. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

Thought is what I’m looking for, especially creative thought. And thought provoking, like the card that came last week, from our friend, with Barbie relaxing in a tub, not aware that she was in the jungle native’s stew pot! (And a dog is running off with her red high heels!) Hmmm! It was the absolute perfect card for Jessica.

It’s another day in the country, and I’m still, actually always, on the prowl for creative, funny greeting cards. It’s not just a way to say “hi” to a friend who somehow finds the best cards in Sante Fe; but it helps maintain one’s sanity. Tell me I don’t have to make my own.

Last modified Feb. 29, 2012

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