You may recognize this photo from a Blog I did a few weeks back. It was after I cleared the bicycles out from the front courtyard. Suddenly, while sparse, it looked more like a patio and less like a storage unit. I asked for, and received some really great ideas for sprucing it up. The plan was to, somehow, make it look more inviting, more welcoming. It is after all the first "room" of the house that people see.
I love the idea of making an outdoor space an extension of the house. Yes, I watch a lot of HGTV. But the decorators, and builders on those shows, those people are magicians to me. I apparently was not born with a decorating gene. And sadly, I don't even know what my "style" is. Most of my life I didn't know that I needed to know that. In fact, it wasn't until we were building our house in Colorado that I heard that question for the first time. When you are building a house, there are a lot of decisions that have to be made. A LOT. The nice lady in the design center tries to help. The first question she asked was, "What is your style?" I looked at her blankly. The question meant absolutely nothing. She might just as well have been speaking gibberish. I believe my response finally was, "I have a style?"
Every time we turned around, someone was asking us that question. And I never had an answer. Somehow the house was built anyway. And then we moved in and without knowing what our style is, the house filled up with all the things that make a house a home. And then the job was done and we didn't have to concern ourselves with knowing what our style was for ten years.
When we moved here and right off the bat began the kitchen reno, the question reared it's ugly head again. It seemed that everyone we spoke to, in every store and even our contractor asked that question, "What is your style?". I still don't know. When walking through a furniture store, I can point out things that appeal. I can flip through magazines and tell you what I don't like. And sometimes in model homes I will say, things like, "I know I should like this room, but I don't and I have no idea why." And it's probably because, I cannot seem to slap a label on my overall style. My look. My type.
Friends who visited us this past year, upon seeing the house for the first time suggested that perhaps my style is, "Classic Retro" or "Modern with a Retro Twist". I like that. I like it a lot. But I'm not positive what that means. Other than, when making any decorating decision, I have to spend a lot of time looking to find the thing that is right. Wrong is easier. That's always immediately apparent. So I kind of go with the process of elimination method of decision making.
Same goes with our courtyard selections. It's not finished yet, but it looks better than it did. I plan to re-stain the old chairs to perk them up so please bear that in mind . And, well, I don't know yet what else. But I'll figure it out. Eventually.
Is my style, Classic/Retro or Modern with a Retro Twist? You be the judge. I think we are making progress:
Happy day after Memorial Day! I hope you got to enjoy a three-day weekend and that you had a good time. We certainly did. In fact, we even had, what has become the Memorial Day tradition, a cookout! And of course, we went to visit my Dad.
There was some chatter, at least locally, about how nobody celebrates Memorial Day correctly anymore. Their complaint is that Memorial Day is supposed to be a quiet, somber day of reflection to remember and honour only those lives lost in battle. I disagree.
Historically yes. The first year that Memorial Day was nationally recognized was 1868, though it had been regionally noted as early as 1861 as "Cemetery Day". It was intended, then, as a day to honour those lives lost in the Civil War. The country was nearly destroyed by an internal war that divided the nation, cities, towns and families. It was a deep rupture that took a long time to heal. And the country needed something to stitch that gap together so that we could begin that slow, painful road back. Having a designated day as one unified country to acknowledge our losses brought us one step closer to moving forward as people acknowledged that they all had one thing in common. Grief.
First of all, how better to honour those lives lost than to celebrate life! That is, after all, what they fought for: family, friends and freedom. The sacrifices made by those we have lost is empty if we do not enjoy the gifts they granted. Contrary to some popular beliefs, soldiers do not fight for some faceless, nameless corporate ideal. They fight for their families and the life they want their loved ones to live. So enjoy your life to the maximum extent you possibly can and that includes a lot of laughter.
Secondly, Memorial Day is no longer just to remember the fallen. My Dad served in the Navy, his brother in the Army. Tim, his older brother and their father all were in the Marine Corps. The fact that all of these fine men returned home does not diminish what they did. That fact of the matter is that all of them were willing to sacrifice their lives for us, had it been necessary. And that deserves recognition.
So I hope you had a great weekend. I hope you spent time with people you care about, that you enjoyed good conversation, a lot of laughs and some amazing food. And I also hope you remembered.
Something went awry with yesterday's blog post between the moment I finished writing and when I hit the button to post it which is, in fact, a mere fraction of a second. But clearly it doesn't take long in the cyber world for things to go sideways. Because while these are the same photos that you saw yestrday, the vast majority of the text disappeared. So I will try to recreate it for you today. And hope that it doesn't do another magicians exit.
The fact of the matter is that I have learned that, unbeknownst to me for a long time, as it turns out, most people do not like ironing. To the point where they either A) do not iron at all or B) only do it when absolutely necessary and then are quite unhappy about it.
I guess I'm the wierdo (no surprise there) because I kind of like ironing. I usually let it accumulate for a week and then I post myself in front of the TV in the family room, turn on one of the shows I've recorded, usually something on HGTV or TLC, and get to work. I find it relaxing, almost soothing. It certainly doesn't take a lot of smarts. Let's face it, ironing is not rocket science. I'm merely taking a heavy hot thing and applying to it wrinkly things and making them smooth.
I like the way my clothes (and therefore anyone in my household's clothes) look when they are ironed. Even clothing that has tags which promote the fact that they are "no-iron" get ironed and they are the better for it. Everything looks crisp and fresh and new and as if I made the effort, which in fact, I did. I'm not a lunatic about it. I don't iron pajamas or underwear after all. And I do not iron sheets although I do iron tablecloths. Apparently I have rules about this.
When the kids were small, ironing was more of a challenge. Everything was so small and irons are so big in comparison! It was particularly tricky when my nieces were with us. Little girl clothes have far more gathers and tucks and flounces and pleats. But both of them have teensy tiny buttons to iron around.
I am aware that once a person sits or bends or buckles their safety belt the clothes are wrinkled again. But anyone can still tell the difference between ironed clothes that got a little wrinkled and un-ironed clothes that are even more wrinkled. Or at least I can. And when I present myself to the world in properly ironed clothes, it helps me to feel more presentable. If I feel more put together, I am more confident. I guess it's a mind game I play on myself. But other people buy it so it still counts.
I bet if you asked any of my boys the proper way to iron a dress shirt they would still answer, "collar, yoke, sleeve, sleeve, side, side, back". Because that's what I taught them. No helpless men in my house, no siree. They were raised to know how to take care of themselves. And yes, the order that the parts of a dress shirt are ironed does make a difference. It's how the parts already ironed do not get wrinkled while ironing other parts. Simple!
Nowadays the stuff in the pile is pretty boring. Usually just shorts and shirts, occasionally a pair of Tim's trousers and even more rarely a skirt or dress of mine. There was a time when every ironing day was a surprise. Maybe not as surprising as the time I found a frog in the washing machine. Which coincidentally was the day I became a full-fledged pocket checking laundry-Nazi. But that's a story for another time.
I guess everyone has parts of household chores that they dislike more than others. I'm not a huge fan of dusting for example. I do it, but it's not my favourite. In fact, don't tell anyone, but lots of times the "dusting" gets done when I'm on the phone walking around the house. I always walk when I talk. Sometimes I "dust" with one of my sleeves (if I'm wearing sleeves that day) other times with a shirt tail. Polishing the furniture I don't mind. It smells so nice and it's shiny afterwards, but dusting? I'm sending all the dust up into the air so that it can settle elsewhere. My mother used to refer to dusting as re-arranging the dust.
But I find ironing peaceful. Maybe it's the rhythm of the chore. And the fact that I get to watch one of my TV shows. I don't know for certain why I enjoy it. But I do know that I'm apparently the oddball on this point and I'm okay with that. I will continue to iron.
But as I said yesterday, I don't do windows.
Everyone please enjoy a very fun but safe Memorial Day Weekend. And while you are enjoying it, Remember why.
So that is what I will be doing for a little while today. Ironing. And watching some previously recorded shows that Tim would hate and I would truly enjoy. It will be a pretty good day.
But I don't do windows.
BOO! Scary eh? Yeah, I do this on a regular basis and scare the crap out of Tim, poor thing. I never warn him in advance. No, I'm not trying to terrify anyone, I'm just giving myself a facial. It's supposed to be good for me. And it has become a habit. One of th good ones.
My first facial was a Christmas gift from youngest son. This is many years ago way back in Connecticut. I had never been to a spa and frankly never thought I would. The concept sounded kind of indulgent and perhaps a bit decadent and maybe even a little "spoiled rich girl" to me. I was raised with a rather Spartan esthetic you see. In my family, we "made do" and did without and were darned proud of that fact. No foo-foo girlie stuff for me, no sir! As kids we wore hand-me-downs and as an adult I found myself accepting the cast off's from other people's closets as well. If the clothes didn't fit exactly, well, they were close enough for the likes of me. That was the mind-set. So you can see that going to a spa was just a ridiculous notion that was fine for other people but it was clear that I didn't belong there.
Not sure why that particular message from my past stuck when others did not, but it's grip was pretty tight. Until child 3 gave me this gift. I certainly wasn't going to hurt his feelings by turning it down! So I very nervously entered the salon where I was treated very kindly despite my obvious awkwardness. I could not get the feeling that I didn't belong there out of my head and I didn't relax for a single moment but I surely did love the results. My skin had never felt so good. It practically glowed. It was a miracle, a marvel, I was truly wowed.
Fast forward probably another ten years. Tim has arranged another surprise vacation planned for us. This time to Santa Fe. It's a lovely drive from Colorado. Destination? Ten Thousand Waves Spa. Oh my goodness. While nervous and a little awkward, still I decided to embrace a new experience fully. I had massages and salt scrubs and facials galore. They almost had to pour me back into the car afterward I was so relaxed. And once again, my skin looked and felt so good afterward that it was undeniable. Maybe I should rethink my stand on such things.
I tossed the idea around in my head for quite some time until the day that a day spa was opened just around the corner for the place I worked. They were running a grand opening special rate for people who signed up. It was a very reasonable cost that came with certain discounts and a free service once every month. After no small amount of discussion with myself I threw out the idea to Tim. He said, (as he always does) "If you want to do it, do it!" He is a terribly Jiminy Cricket. "You are supposed to talk me out of this" I argued. "Why?" he countered, "Just go do it". Apparently I secretly wanted to be talked into it because I did.
For almost a year, one Saturday every month I would go to the Day Spa and have a lovely facial that was relaxing and wonderful and came home looking refreshed with near perfect skin and feeling so guilty for spending that money on a spa membership that the experience was negatively impacted. I cannot step away from my past apparently. So when the time came, I did not renew. And I could both see and feel my skin suffering. Colorado is a beautiful state. But it's dry. Very Very dry. And regardless of how much water I drank or how well I moisturized, I could see the cumulative affects of stress and dry air and age (let's be honest) showing it's ever so ugly results on my skin. And I hated it.
I whined to my friend Marsha about it. I probably whined a lot because for my birthday one year included with some other fun things were some of these:
Little packets of various types of facials that I can do myself at home! And as they are reasonable in price, most of the time I can even justify the cost. I was in heaven! Now whenever I feel like I've either exposed my skin to icky stuff, be it air pollution, salt or chlorinated water, too much sweat, or too much of the wrong kind of food, or maybe I'm just feeling old and tired, I can give myself a little facial, at home and I am rejuvenated.
Tim tucks them into my Christmas stocking, I might pick up a few at the grocery store if I know I'm running low and especially if they are on sale or I have a coupon. I'm okay with this, I've made my peace. And I see the difference in my skin and it is a wonderful thing. I cannot stop getting older. But I can certainly slow down the way my face feels about it.
I'm still pretty tight with a buck. That won't ever change. But I've decided that I am at least worth the cost of a home facial that is easy to use, gets great results and bonus! I never need to buy a Halloween costume again.
Here we go again. They are working on the water lines again for the island again today. Which means several things, no water today starting at 8:00am, we are under a "boil water advisory" for 72 hours and we have launched into lack of water preparedness mode.
Which means a fridge of chilly bottles of water, a pantry of water, a large cooking pot of soapy water in the sink (for soaking dishes that cannot yet be rinsed or washed), filled reservoirs in coffee maker and electric kettle and a bathtub filled with water for flushing. We are really getting the hang of this.
Clearly there is a price to be paid for living in "paradise" that nobody told us about.
It's not that big of a deal. Merely an inconvenience and we were given plenty of notice. Not only did Tim and I both get notification via mail, but also voice mails on our cell phones, on the house phone and if that weren't enough, last Friday some poor soul walks house to house putting on of these on everyone's door:
So with plenty of warning, we are ready. It's not quite eight am and we are showered, stocked with water and I have a list of non-water related things to do. Ironing, editing, a bike ride or walk for a few photos I have in mind and a trip to the farm market should fill my day nicely without using a drop of water. In exactly 3 minutes we will be waterless which is pretty funny to think about when a person lives on an island. The only thing that would make it funnier to me would be if it were raining.
It's the oddest thing, but I believe I am never so thirsty or as desirous of a long shower as when we have no water. Such is the perverse sense of humour of human nature, I suppose.
Do you remember wrap skirts? There was a time when they were all the fashion rage. I had a couple way back then, one was plaid. The best thing about them back then was that they were easy to iron. The worst thing in those days was those naughty boys who were always angling to pull one of the dangling ends of the skirt's fastener which could so very easily untie it. Ah memories.
If you are unfamiliar with the idea, the skirt is a good amount of horizontal fabric with has a long very narrow bit of fabric sewn to the top edge that has a "button hole". One end of the narrow bit feeds through the "button hole" and the entire thing wraps around you and is fastened by tying the narrow fabric, much like an apron. It can be tied in the back, the front or either side. Easy Peasy.
It was so long ago now, that I don't even remember when they fell back out of style. I just know that in my entire adult life, I have not had one hanging in my closet. Until now.
I ran, or rather, walked a few errands downtown last week, one of which took me past a clothing store that had these enormous signs indicating that they were having an equally enormous sale. Every item in the store was only $10. Wow! Naturally I had to check it out. All sorts of dresses, skirts and tops. Naturally most of the dresses were far too long which was a shame because I liked a lot of them. There were some very pretty blouses and I considered a few. But this particular skirt caught my eye. Mostly because it was something I had forgotten even existed until that moment, a wrap skirt.
I loved the soft feel of the fabric, the lightness of it. It was like wearing whipped cream. A perfect hot summer weather weight. To my eye the colours were appealing and even the weirdness of two totally unassociated fabrics made me smile. And it's reversible. Really! That is two different layers of fabric so one side is the gold print with a little blue showing at the bottom, the other side is just the blue (since the gold is shorter, it won't show). But it works both ways. Okay, Sold! As it so happened I actually had ten dollars and change in my purse. It was destiny.
I was very excited about an opportunity to wear this skirt. I mean it's not the sort of thing I would wear scrubbing out the bathtub or doing yard work, right? But on Saturday we decided to make the drive down to spend the day in Naples. Perfect, a lot of time in the car, the rest of the day walking around town, maybe even a short visit to their particular slice of ocean.
It was perfect. Lightweight, very comfortable for walking, floaty in the breeze without revealing anything I didn't want shown, and darned cute besides. Yes, it was perfect. Except for the part where it didn't want to stay tied. That super soft fabric feels like a scarf it's so lightweight. And it's kind of slippery like a scarf too. i.e. it does not want to stay tied. The fabric just sssslllloooowwwwllllyyyy slides against itself and right out of the bunny eared loops until I found myself grabbing it in the nick of time and re-tying it, over and over again. Oh dear.
By the end of the day, it was pretty funny. I'm thinking the next time instead of a standard bow I will tie a square knot. Or maybe secure it with a pin? Superglue? Paperclips? Epoxy? I don't know for sure, but I will figure something out. It's far too cute to not wear.
Interestingly, the store mannequin showed some fancy way to pull the second layer upward and make it into a top that ties around the neck, in essence turning a skirt into a halter dress. I'm pretty sure now that I've become aware of the built in danger of a wardrobe malfunction, that I will not be trying that.
Everyday in my life is an adventure and I learn something new. I love it!
Welcome to my desk. Yeah, I know, it's a mess. But I'm in the midst of several projects right now and it's all gotta go somewhere right? Projects? Yes indeedy. At have two going on right now. Both editing of sorts. One is an educational puppet show for Ranger Joy in Yellowstone, the other is a book that a friend wrote. And everything I need to work on both of those is on my desk.......somewhere.....
Oh I can hear you say, "editing? Seriously? I've seen plenty of errors in her Blog pages...how does she get away with editing anyone else when she doesn't properly edit herself?" Well, it may interest you to know what when I write my blog, I never go back to check for errors. I should, yes I know. But I don't. I write and go. It's the second thing I do every morning. First I fix Tim's breakfast, then I blog, then I shower, dress and move on to the rest of my day. Yes, the ugly truth is, I'm sitting here as I do every Monday through Friday. Yup, five mornings a week I sit at my desk with serious bedhead, in my jammies, barefoot, my eyes not even focused, writing this Blog at my desk. Oh, and just FYI, the letter "e" on my keyboard sticks so sometimes when I type the word "are" and the "e" sticks, I notice that the computer autocorrects it to "at". Thus explaining that particular error. The rest of them are just me, early in the morning typing poorly at my desk.
Ok it's not actually a "desk" per se, but it's what I use as a desk so it counts. Remember we downsized bigtime when we moved here. In our Colorado house I had an actual desk with drawers in it, 4 of them and a cabinet above it that had 2 doors and four shelves. My current desk was created when the kitchen reno was done. Tim and the contractor sat down together and figured out how to carve this space for me. I quite like it too :) I have everything I need, my chair, my computer, workspace, shelves and my drawer stuff. And it's practically in my favourite part of the house, the kitchen.
The close proximity too the kitchen allows me to do some work while cooking and easy access to snacks. Bonus! Or I could fold some laundry on the island top while I'm puzzling out a problem, or put groceries away in between chapters, or make lunch while considering an idea. Very handy indeed.
I think the shelves were creating with the intention that I fill them with research material, dictionaries, thesauruses, protractors and measuring tapes, I don't know what they were thinking. Right now, as you can see, instead it's mostly cookbooks, an address book (yes I still use the old fashioned kind) some sidewalkchalk, and a bag of.....stuff....that I probably should go through and sort out. It's all things that I use and that needed a place to be. Cookbooks near the kitchen seemed reasonable to me and so that's where they are.
I don't have drawers anymore. Instead I have a basket with zippy bags in it. They hold things like pencils and pens, tape, paper, envelopes, pencil sharpers, paperclips, sticky pads and one award. In short, all the sorts of things that people working at a desk might need. They are sorted out in categories, one category per zippy bag. And since zippy bags are clear, anyone would be able to find what they are looking for at a quick glance. Actually kind of handy. It works for me.
At some point I hope to have at least one floating shelf above the computer so I can put my award there or maybe hang it on the wall. A dear friend of mine made that award for me. It's important. It gives me the rank of Admiral from the Department of the Obvious. Yes friends, I am not merely Captain Obvious, I am Admiral Obvious. Show a little respect.
My favourite musican/singer/songwriter, the late, great Harry Nilsson wrote a song early in his career called, " Good Old Desk". I often find myself singing that song while I'm sitting here.
Yup, this desk suits me right down to my toes.
Here is a funny thing that I've noticed about myself. When anticipating something, I tend toward preconceived ideas. What I mean by that is when I know that a life-changing event is about to occur, I write a little script in my head about how it's going to go. It's like a movie or a book. Rarely does the reality match what I've created, but still it's something I do. I cannot seem to stop myself.
For instance, before I went away to college, I pictured in my mind what college life would be like. It as a rather elaborate portrait. Now imagine my disappointment. Not a single professor of mine wore a sweater with leather patches on the elbows, none of them had lovely wood paneled offices with library shelving filled with mementos of exotic travels. None of the girls wore sweater sets, not a single guy wore a bow tie and there were no "mixer" dances. I think I watched too many old black and white movies.
In real life, I did enjoy my college days, but I worked much harder than they show on TV and movies, sometimes partied harder than I should have and everyone wore jeans and tee-shirts and since it was the era of such, army jackets and long flowy "hippie" things. Not a bow tie in sight. I met great people, learned important things and had a good time. Just not the same as the script I wrote.
I have done the same thing for every single move I have made in my life (and that is a lot of moves), for weddings, funerals, childbirth, raising children, foreign travels, and getting my drivers license. Everything I've ever done for the first time, which means things I find kind of scary, I wrote myself a little story about it first and imagined what it would be like. And every single time, I was completely wrong.
Well, in that same way, before we moved to Florida, I had created that little preconceived idea film running in my head of what life would be like here. I scoffed at myself the entire time I was doing it because after an entire lifetime of this habit, I should know by now that it will be nothing like what I picture. I thought for sure that I would be on the beach every day, that I'd be able to walk nearly everywhere I needed to go, that there would be palm trees and exotic blooming shrubbery and sunshine most every day. I was positive that I would have collections of shells and beach glass in my house and mostly I was certain that I would do a lot of cooking.
Oh wait, that is exactly what happened!!! Mercy me! I finally got it right!
And one of the best parts that I got right was the cooking part. I will confess that when I first got married, I had never cooked anything, ever. My Mother bless her heart, hated cooking and avoided it at all costs. When she did cook, let's just say, it was not ideal. My Nana was a great baker (not a very good cook) but I was never privy to the magic behind what she baked. I grew up in the era of children belonging outside not in the house underfoot. I've told the story here before of my gratitude to the person who gave me a copy of the cookbook, "Joy of cooking" as a wedding present. That is the book that taught me. There were a lot of failures initially, but gradually I kind of got the hang of cooking. And it turns out that I enjoy it and I'm fairly good at it.
In fact, I would go so far as to say of all the things I do each day, cooking and baking are my favourites. I love coming up with ideas, stumbling across recipes, trying something brand new and twisting an old idea. I enjoy shopping for ingredients then collecting them for my creations; lining everything up on the countertop and then transforming those things into something else. I love presenting it to my "audience" for their appreciation and those empty plates that tell me that I did a pretty decent job afterwards. I don't even mind cleaning up and putting my pretty kitchen back together again.
I am learning and growing as a family chef all the time and there will always be more to learn which is part of the fun. I find that I collect recipes the same way that I collect shells, except the shells just sit there, the food, we eat. And I am happy to share my recipes. If someone gives me the ultimate compliment of liking something I made so much that they want to make it too? Well, I would be delighted to write that recipe out and send it to you. In fact, I do it all the time.
So, here is my request: If you have a particularly terrific recipe that you love, please send it to me! I would love to learn to make something new! I am eager to learn new things. Please Send Me Recipes!!!
Thank you in advance !
Not too long ago, someone casually made the observation that I seem to always have my toes polished but not my fingernails and they wondered why.
There was a time when I went fairly regularly to a nail salon, usually with a friend, so it was not merely an indulgence, it was also a social event. We would be pampered and fussed over while we talked and laughed and solved all the problems in the world. We had our favourite place to go for pedicures. It was clean and elegant, the staff were gentle and professional, and it was nearby. We had fun with colours and took our time deciding, sometimes with last minute changes.
I tried a few different salons here when we first arrived and while the staff were very nice, it just wasn't as much fun going alone. I didn't seem to know what to do with myself while I was being ministred to. It felt awkward and as I said, not so much fun. so I stopped. But wearing sandals, nearly year 'round, exposed my ugly little feet and I decided that they needed as much help as they could get so I started doing my own pedicures. Not professional level of course, but it works.
Oh dear, that still didn't answer the question of why I bother do fancy up my toenails but not my fingernails, does it? You know, I've always had trouble keeping my fingernails any length at all. They were forever shearing laterally, chipping, snapping, breaking with the least amount of effort. I once broke a nail while buttoning a sweater. My fingernails were so fragile. I say "were", past tense, intentionally because lately I have no problem with my nails growing and healthy. They are must stonger than they used to be. Maybe there is something in the water here?
So, now my nails at healthier, so why am I not taking advantage of it and make them all pretty? Well for one thing, I'm probably the clumsiest person I've ever met with terrible depth perception so things happen. For instance, I may think I'm quickly grabbing a drawer pull, but I'm actually just about or below the pull and my hand crashes into the cabinet. And *snap* goes the fingernail! Same goes for door knobs, car door handles and faucets. Happens a lot.
I've tried fake nails, but way back then, I was popping them off regularly, without intent in my daily accidents and it looks ridiculous to have 7 long ones and 3 shorties. I tried gel nails but while they held on better, I somehow just felt burdened by the constant appointments to keep them looking good. It is dedication indeed to, every 2-3 weeks spend a half hour in a nail salon. I'm fidgety. It's hard to sit still that long without a book to read or something else to distract me. Yes, I know. I'm like an adult 2 year old. I've heard that before.
It needs to be added that my poor little arthritic hands hurt. And the people working in salons tend to yank my fingers around in such a way that I'm internally "ouching" the entire appointment. That is not fun. When I'm doing the filing or painting, I know what is or is not going to hurt and can make the necessary adjustments.
So I could, technically do my own manicures with ordinary pollish right? Well truth be told, no matter how carefully I apply it, the polish gets chipped. Usually within a matter of hours. walking around with chipped polish that looks as if mice have been nibbling on my fingers is not a look I'm interested in. I suppose I could take a few minutes every day to repair the job, but I don't have the patience for that either.
My toes on the other hand, as long as I'm wearing some sort of shoe (sandals count as shoes) at relatively safe from harm. While I am on my feet for the majority of my day, my feet are mostly protected! Unless I drop something heavy on my foot (which, to be honest, also happens) the polish lasts so much longer. And then I can wait until I have a day when I feel like sitting for a little while to take care of things. And then I do. And honestly, if the toes are a little chipped and I need to go out in public, I could wear closed toe shoes if I had to. Ladies rarely wear gloves these days unless they are snow skiing. The only skiing going on here is on the water. No gloves required for that.
So then I assume the next question might be, " One is polished and pretty the other is plain, doesn't it bother you that your hands and feet don't match ?" The response to that is, "Nope. Doesn't bother me a bit." And my internal dialogue continues with, "And if it bothers you, I suggest that you don't look".
I don't mean for that to sound snarky. But I'm taking a stand. When people who don't know, or barely know me start asking personal questions, I suppose I get a little defensive, a little prickly. I know that person didn't mean any harm. It was just, as I said at the beginning, a casual observation. At the time, when the question was asked I just shrugged and smiled because I had never given it any real thought. It was just what I do. But now I have given it far more consideration than the question truly requires.
I guess the short answer to the original question is, because I don't want to. And sometimes, that really is the best reason in the world.
Meet Susan! (on the left) Susan is an old friend of mine from when I lived in Connecticut which is now more than 11 years ago! My how time flies. We have sort of kept in touch all these years, mostly through Facebook. We had become, without any intention of doing so, what my Mother called, "Christmas Card Friends". That is, people who live far away from each other and while you still care about each other, you don't get to actually see each other face to face.
We met a long time ago. I lived on a working farm in rural Connecticut and she walked past it on a daily basis. She was crazy about horses and we had horses. She boldly (one of many traits of hers that I admire) walked up to my door and asked about the horses. From that point forward, she was a fixture in my house. She babysat my kids, I taught her some family recipes, she helped with the animals, I encouraged and supported her interest in music. And then the day came when I was babysitting her kids and she was sharing her recipes with me. And we call that full circle.
And then the day came when Tim and I moved to Colorado. Sue had intentions of coming to Colorado on a ski tip but that somehow didn't happen. And I never even tried to go back to Connecticut. But I knew through Facebook what was happening with her and she with me. We would comment on each other's posts, admire the photos that we shared and then Tim and I moved again.
I guess I have been a little caught up in the business of our move and settling in and learning our new state that I've missed a few things here and there because I had no idea that Susan had also moved to Florida until recently. She now lives a bit of a distance away but at least on the same coast. And she is the one who got up early and made the long drive here to see us.
I don't know if she was concerned if, after all this time, it would be a little awkward to see each other again, but I was. A little bit. I shouldn't have been. Susan is still Susan and apparently I am still me because as soon as she walked in the door it was comfortable and easy. We talked a mile a minute trying to catch up on more than a decades worth of our lives. We talked while eating, we talked while sitting in the house, we talked while walking to the beach and to town.
Thomas Wolfe famously wrote the book, "You Can't Go Home Again". People grow and change, even towns change but history is a fixed period in time. It remains the same. So it stands to reason that we cannot as the people we are now, go back and expect everything and everyone to be the same. But we can re-meet someone from our past and start again from this moment and move forward all the while cherishing the memories that we share.
It's about staying open, heart, mind and front door. Sue, I'm so glad you came to visit! I look forward to seeing you and the entire gang again one day soon!
Happy Monday ya'll. I had a lovely Mother's Day yesterday and I hope that either you did too, and/or you made someone's else's Mother's Day special. I got beautiful flowers and lovely cards and taken out for breakfast and dinner. We went on our first excursion to the movies since we've lived here. (We saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2! I loved it!) I also got some very special phone calls and texts which just made my day absolutely Perfect.
Mother's Day is observed in more than forty countries around the world (although it may be on a different day) In the U.S. Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908 thanks to Anna Jarvis whose mother, a Civil War Nurse, inspired her to campaign for a nationally official day to celebrate Mother's everywhere in our country. Although the day was not a federally recognized holiday until 1914, every individual states was celebrating the day by 1911. Mother's Day cards hit the racks in stores just a few years later followed by candy companies and any other retailer who could find a way to connect their product with the day.
Ironically, Anna Jarvis, the woman who started it all in the USA, was not at all happy about the commercialization of what she felt should be more of a sentimental day. She wanted it to be more personal, more about appreciation and honouring mothers and less about buying gifts and spending money. She felt so strongly about this that by 1923 she protested at a candy makers convention in Philadephia. She protested again in 1925 at the Amercian War Mothers who were selling carnation to raise money. This time Anna was arrested for "disturbing the peace". She spent the remainder of her life trying to have Mother's Day removed from the Nationally Observed Days calendar.
The celebration of Mothers in general of course goes way back to ancient Greeks and Romans who held festivals in honour of the Mother Goddesses. But, throughout history, there is seen evidence of the reverence for the institution of motherhood. Basically, we all know that our moms are important, even if we don't necessarily remember to say it or show it on a daily basis. Which is why we have that one day a year to remind us to say it.
While I always, in some way, made a big deal out of the day for my Mom while she was still around, with flowers, visits, baked goods, phone calls and gifts, I think the gift she always appreciated the most was just me spending time with her. By the time I was an adult, grown and gone and living my own life, I didn't live nearby and therefore didn't see her as often as she would have liked. When I did visit, I brought other people with me. People she loved, especially the little ones, but I think she missed spending time with just me. Looking back, I could see that in her eyes on the rare occasion that it was just the two of us together. I probably should have made it a point to do more of that.
Speaking as a Mother, my thanks to everyone who helped in any way to make me feel special and appreciated on Mother's Day. I personally am not the sort of person who needs Big Gestures. For me, it really is about the little things. That's is how I feel special.
I hope the Mother in your life felt special too.
I've always wanted an herb garden. There is just something about the idea of stepping outside my own door to snip just a little bit of whatever herb I need to use while I'm cooking that is so appealing to me. It is somehow a very romantic concept, in the way that cooking and baking is. I mean the real cooking and baking, not throwing something frozen in the microwave and calling it food.
That is, by the way, not a shot at anyone who does that. I've done it too. But while that sort of quasi-food preparation fills an empty belly, it's not really cooking. Neither is slicing off a few rounds from a tube of store bought cookie dough and putting it in the oven really baking. I'm not certain what it is but honestly, no it's just not.
Now that I have the time, I am back to actual cooking and baking again and enjoying it so very much, the desire for an herb garden is back. Yesterday while at the farm market purchasing my weekly fruit and veg, I noticed that they were also selling potted herbs. Two pots for five bucks! Woohoo! That is my kinda price tag! There was a lot of sage, which I don't use much of, a little dill, which I considered, some chive, also considered, and a wee bit of cilantro and thyme, which I purchased. Gotta start somewhere, right?
I actually have been thinking about this for months now in anticipation of spring. I did a lot of reading, which ultimately was very confusing and ended up reaching out to oldest son's S.O. She is smart, very sweet, incredibly patient with me and, the best part, an organic farmer! She is my go-to girl with all things green. She gave me some awesome advice which I am now putting to use.
I brought home my wee new treasures and put them under a tree in the courtyard. Went in the house to put away all my other groceries, came back out and contemplated. My little herbs did not look happy yet. I was concerned primarily with how unsubstantial they looked next to such well established and much larger things. And, perhaps the ground is not especially level. I know! They need a flatter surface area.
The bricks I found when I cleared out the new bicycle parking area and an old piece of shelving waiting to be taken to the dump will do!
It's better, but still those little pots look wobbly. I feared that a bit of wind or the breeze of lizard races in the vicinity might tumble those little babies off their new perch. Hmmm. So off I go to my favourite place to shop, the Dollar Store! I found a container that suits and a bit of decoration that I didn't know I needed until I saw it. And now they are tucked safely into their new home.
There is room to grow, to add more plants, assuming that this dream of mine actually works out. And I have more bricks, more boards and I know where the Dollar Store is. The bunnies don't seem to be bothering my little herbs and I haven't seen any lizards so much as look at it so I think it's all good for now. Hurrah!
And last night, while preparing dinner, I was able to just step outside and snip some cilantro from my own little miniature beginner herb garden exactly as I've always wanted. And yes, it just tickled me to bits and pieces. Sometimes, I just sit back and think, "Life is good". Best cilantro ever.
Just bought myself a little present. Something I've wanted for a long time. I've thought about it often, considered it and then walked away without it so many times. Almost asked Santa to bring it to me for Christmas over and again. Such an unnecessary indulgence that I couldn't quite talk myself into it until now. I'm talking of course about Pastry tips!!
This particular set was in the random "stuff" section of Publix and was less than five bucks so I finally gave in and threw it in the grocery cart beside the celery, cottage cheese and yogurt. Once the decision was finally made to go ahead and buy it, I couldn't wait to get home to try it out.
I've watched those shows on Food.tv, the cupcake competitions, have you seen them? Those people at amazing! And while I have no interest in the stress of any competition I always admired how they decorated. I love watching those shows. Such creativity! And all of them, every man, woman or child, uses a pastry bag and tips. And they make it look so easy. Just a little wrist finesse and the proper equipment. Or so it would appear.
Oh I knew that I would need to practice. Probably a lot. Those people on those shows are professional bakers. And I'm soooo not. But I've already got half of this down. I make a decent cupcake. I just wanted to step up the decorations. Not that there is anything wrong with the way I've been decorating all of these years. The traditional frosting schmear is a time-honored method. But it would just be fun to have another weapon in my cupcake decorating arsenal.
So once I got home I eagerly read the back of the package and basically all it said was: wash before using and practice on waxed paper. I assumed the first part and thought the second was a darned good idea. But I was disappointed that there weren't more instructions, like which tip do you use for what effect or how do you put these pieces together? I puzzled those questions out while making the chocolate cupcakes.
Now these cupcakes are the real deal. Not out of a box. I use a recipe given to me long ago by my old friend Sandy who was one of the best cooks I've ever known. Her training is not professional but it is professional grade. Anything that comes out of her kitchen is going to be rock-star level.
Once the cupcakes were on the cooling rack I started my usual frosting recipe which came from my sister. In retrospect, I probably should have researched that part a little bit. While it is an especially yummy buttercream frosting, it's a bit thick for piping. I also dawned on me, too late, that I could probably have gone on-line to look up how to use my new toys. But, I digress.
Probably because I am incapable of baking without making a mess, I managed to get frosting everywhere, including in my hair. But I got more in the pastry bag! I worked it down to the bottom of the bag, manipulated it a little to work out the air pockets (just common sense) screwed on my randomly selected pastry tip and did NOT practice on waxed paper.
So the first six cupcakes look sort of like a weird modern art display. Dismayed but not discouraged, I reloaded the bag and tried again. The second six cupcakes looked better, more as I'd intended but with a little shakiness in the lines. It takes more coordination than I actually have to get those lines right and, as I say, the frosting was a bit too thick. But ultimately I kind of got the "hang" of it, as they say. I'll let you decide. Not too bad for a first effort, I think.
And you know what? As I suspected all along, regardless of how they may look, they tasted just fine.
Some previous owner of this house put this pretty little fence up beside our house. It's just two pieces of fencing sitting at right angles to each other. I believe it was intended for hiding unsightly garbage cans. But I'm too lazy for that. I keep the one garbage can that we actually use just outside of the utility door. One little step outside, bag of garbage in hand, and there it is. Handy! So the space behind this fence was seriously underutilized and filling up with tree debris.
As it turns out, palm trees shed worse than any cat or dog I've ever owned. It seems that there is always something falling off the darned things and some of those things are quite large. Nearly every week, I'm toting discarded palm fronds, and shredded this'n'that, and sticky almost fruit looking mystery "stuff" up to the street for the garbage trucks (thank you Waste Management!) to take away. Well, there was a lot of that sort of thing collecting behind this pretty little fence along with everything the wind blew forward that was trapped in this corner. Cleaning it out was on the gotta-do list but it was pretty far down.
Until we realized that our lovely front courtyard was starting to look like a bike shop. Not the look I was going for. When we moved here we had two bicycles. I tucked them along the wall behind the furniture where it was easy for us to get to, but sort of out of the way. Then my sister, very kindly gave us her bike which she doesn't use and then Tim bought a new bike. Whoa. Ok now we have cluttered up the courtyard with double the number of bikes, so we had 4 sets of wheels encroaching on the seating area and it was a tangle actually using any of them. Time to make some room.
Tim was the one who thought of using that previously unused space. Great Idea! So I went to work. I raked for what felt like hours and found not just floral detritus, but also bricks, concrete blocks, bits of lumber, a lot of lizards and more than a few bugs. Ewww. Once everything was cleared away and I was cleaned up and finished having the touched by a bug shudders and shakes, I moved the bikes into their new home.
Okay, okay, I didn't get rid of all of the leaves. I don't think I will ever get rid of them all, but enough for our purposes. The bikes fit perfectly. It looks like I have them nicely corralled. They look very happy here.
Next I turned my attention to the courtyard. The bikes were filling so much of it that I kept moving the patio furniture further and further out into the center. It was really ridiculous. Now I was able to push them back under the shade. As we approach summer, that will be a bonus for sure! Of course, now it looks a little bare. I need to find a patio table. Nothing fancy, this is not a fancy house, but still a place to set your iced tea glass. I think I also need some big old pots of plants. Not sure what else. Up until now, I have given almost no thought to the exterior of the house other than keeping plants alive and the courtyard swept. Must give it some thought.
Here is it and yup, it's looking pretty nekkid. This is where I turn to you, my very clever readers, for some ideas! Clearly I can use all the help I can get design-wise!
I eagerly await your thoughts!
The things I learn here. A new thing is that from May 1st to October 31st is Sea Turtle Nesting Season! That sounds very nature- y. The sea turtle that generally chooses the Beaches of Venice Florida for nesting is the Loggerhead Sea Turtle and it is on the endangered species list so they are federally protected,
As I read up on them, I learned that the female only lays eggs every three years or so, which certainly keeps their numbers low and, as usual, humans and human encroachment are their worst enemies once they have reached adulthood. So it's nice to see how well they are served here in Venice. There are official people who come out and search the beaches in the wee hours for indication that a sea turtle has again struggled up the beach in the darkness to lay her eggs on the our sandy shores. As I understand it, usually they can tell by her tracks in the sand, those little flipper marks are unmistakable. Then as faithful protectors, they clearly mark the area like so:
Marvel at the wonders of nature, be grateful that we live in a place where they believe in protecting endangered animals, enjoy your time here and then, follow the doggone rules, please!
Or beware the wrath of Sam! Oh and pay a rather sizeable fine and possible some prison time. Your choice, I suppose.
Just gonna finish up the week here by sharing some news about my cute little town of Venice Florida. The consumer research website, GoodCall.com just ranked Venice the Number 2 place in Florida and Number 14 in the entire USA as the best place to retire. Woohoo!
The Florida city in first place is Naples and just by the way, again according the GoodCall, as compared to Naples, Venice has a lower cost of living, lower crime rate and a few more sunny days :)
Now Venice Island, where we live, is only a small subset of the City of Venice most of which is off-island,. And the entirety of Venice (which includes the island) currently has a population of only a bit more than 22 thousand people, which is not a lot as cities go. But the off-island part is still growing, so that number will get bigger.
Since the GoodCall ranking is specifically talking about a place to retire, I assumed that the greatest portion of the population would be over 65 years old, like I was thinking 80%, maybe even more. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to learn that you, like me, associate Florida primarily with the group of people that might be considered, geriatric. That would be wrong. It's only about half of the population. Which I actually find very encouraging. I like a city that has a nice mix of people, all ages and a wide diversity of backgrounds and interests. How boring would a place be that was exclusionary! Bah. I will admit, however, that I enjoy being considered one of the "young folks" around here.
Now if you are talking just overall "Best Places to Live" in this country, Sarasota Florida which is just 30 minutes north of us ranked #21 on that list for 2017. Tampa, which is about an hour and a half north hit the #35 spot and Orlando, (two hours east) is #40 on that list. All of those cities are much larger and more metropolitan than little Venice. Venice has a small town feeling, even though it's a city. Sarasota, Tampa and Orlando have definitely hit the "Bigs". So a lot of it is dependent on if you are a big city person or a small town person. I absolutely fall in the small town category. But it's nice to be so close to big cities to take advantage of what they have to offer, when it strikes our fancy and then come back home to the island where it's quieter.
Anyway, Congrats to the adorable little city of Venice. Clearly we made a good choice! Nice to know.
Scientists say that scent is one of the strongest memory triggers, that somewhere deep in the back of the olfactory section of the brain is a closet with a zillion or so drawers. And in each one of those drawers is a fragrance and tucked beside it, in the same drawer, is the memory that we associate with it. I do believe it to be true.
One of my earliest memories can be triggered by the scent of home made pickles. Upcap a jar of a certain type of those pickles and once again I am about two or three years old, in very old apartment building in Chicago sitting at the kitchen table beside a sweet, grandmotherly lady with a heavy German accent who, I'm told, was called Grandma Theresa. She wasn't my real grandmother, but a neighbor of my parents who occasionally watched over me. I am also told that she had a dish of those pickles, which she made, on her kitchen table all of the time.
We all have favourite fragrances. Baking bread is one of mine. Cinnamon and vanilla rank pretty high too. Those are just feel-good scents. When I detect any of those three scents wafting through the air, I know that all is well with the world. I also love the smell of sheets that have been dried outside in the sun. It's rare to detect that one anymore, but if I close my eyes and think about it, yup, there it is. Baby powder is another one. And furniture that has been freshly polished. And tomatoes ripening on the vine. Anything citrus just freshens a room - real citrus, not the stuff in a can. The scent of coffee brewing just smells like a good morning and the air filled with the funk of fireworks has the scent of excitement. The cozy fragrance of a wood-burning fire brings me to a New England autumn with that biting scent of cold air and old leaves, pumpkins and apples.
And then there are the florals. I love almost all of them but among my favourites are lilac, lavender and honeysuckle. Honeysuckle in particular is a specific memory. The first house that we lived in way back in California (which would be first grade for me, I believe) had massive piles of honeysuckle growing riotously and unchecked across the back fence. It was glorious! I woke every morning with that scent in my nose. I do not have a single recollection of what the house looked like but I will never forget that fragrance tiptoeing through the open window of my bedroom early in the dewy mornings.
So imagine my delight to learn that there is a veritable waterfall of honeysuckle on the fence beside our house! Unfortunately, the only windows on that side of the house are the guest room and the guest bathroom. That's okay. Now that I know what's growing there, in the spring I can scent those two rooms with honeysuckle and there will be some open windows, at least in the early morning every day. Those two rooms smells positively glorious right now!
The side door to the utility room is also on that side of the house. The only time, really, that I use that door is to take something out to the garbage cans because that is where they are parked. But, right now, taking out the garbage is my favourite chore. I open that squeaky side door, garbage bag in hand, step out onto the concrete pad and breathe deeply. I don't smell garbage cans, or sweat, or palm tree pollen, or even the ocean right now. All my nose detects is the deep, heavy floral of honeysuckle and I'm seven years old, waking up in my little twin bed in the room I share with my sister in California once again.
It's like a time machine! And it's awesome.
Breathe deeply, my friends, and let those scents take you back to something you thought you forgot. It's a free ride.
(Cue the Law & Order music. )
Yup, I got this in the mail about a month ago. Naturally, being me, my first instinctual response is panic. What? Me? Make big scary decisions on that will affect some strangers future? No!!!!!
Also, where is this place? Sarasota? I cannot drive to Sarasota? Panic panic panic! But of course quiet, internal panic. Never on the outside where other people can see it.
Tim of course, agreed to drive me to and from and we took a little sojourn to find the place and see how long it takes to get there. Alright, that's a little better. I was beginning to breathe normally again. But still the entire idea of me making the sort of monumental decisions that will potentially change the course of another person's life, is just terrifying to me. What if I'm wrong. What if they were actually guilty, and I declared them innocent? Or they were innocent and I decided they were guilty? Horrors! That's a lot of pressure and I've clearly read too many books about this sort of thing and/or seen way too many courtroom TV shows.
When I really stopped to think about it, I was judge, jury and "executioner" for my kids throughout their childhoods and they turned out okay. In fact, I remember a time when I had not just my 3 boys but my sisters 2 girls too. I think their ages were 8,7,6,5 and 4. One day in particular came to mind. They had been up to no good all day long. Getting into spats with each other, playing tricks on each other and definitely not doing any of the things I asked them to do. By mid-afternoon, it had reached critical mass with all 5 of them yelling and crying. I waded into the thick of it and herded them all into the living room. "Sit there" I ordered grimly, the expression on my face brooking no nonsense and finger pointed at the sofa. Silently but for a little sniffing, the tear stained faces and grass stained britches lined themselves up, fanny first on the sofa.
Interestingly, they always lined themselves up in age order, oldest on the left, youngest on the right. "I'm not even going to ask what is going on because I don't care", I said to them in a very stern voice, "And I don't want to hear about whose fault it is or who started it because I'm stopping it. Right here and right now. You are all family. You are stuck with each other. So start being nicer to each other or it's going to be a long, miserable childhood." Then I pointed outside, "Now go out and play and I don't want to hear any more of this nonsense."
That's the kind of juror I would be, I'm afraid. I'm hardwired to being a parent and that is not what a proper juror is supposed to be. Jurors are supposed to be totally impartial listening only to what the lawyers on their behalf tell you, presenting evidence to support what they are saying and witnesses who will tell their version of events and then disregarding whatever the judge tells you to disregard. I would have a very hard time "un-hearing" something I've already heard. But if this is what I'm supposed to do, I would do my damnedest to do a good job of it. My concern is that my best would not be good enough.
I had chosen the clothes I was going to wear (Hey if I am going to play a role, I have to dress for the part, right?), had a snack and a book in my purse, my tablet fully charged and had psyched myself up for a New Experience, that of being a juror. And then after 5 o'clock last night, just as instructed, I called that number on the card. A recorded message informed me that my services would not be needed after all. I called the number again and listened to it twice, just to be certain. After all that, my services were not needed. Dang. I was all prepared too.
I guess I will have to make big decisions about something else today instead. And then I'll eat my snack and read my book.
Did you ever have "one of those days"? Oh, you know the ones I'm talking about, where it's just wrong front start to finish, where after awhile you just expect things to go wrong? Of course you know. Everyone has them. It was my turn again the other day.
Operating on just a few hours sleep, when I woke and stretched, I knocked my glasses off the nightstand then jumping out of bed to rescue them, I whacked my foot on the edge of the bed and bruised up a baby toe. While making Tim's coffee, I spilled boiling water on my hand and then the computer was giving me fits with sporadic connectivity while trying to write my blog. I dropped the open yogurt container before I got to take a bite and then had to clean that all up and a spoon went down the disposer and had to be fished out. I knew at that point what to expect throughout the rest of my day. I was resigned to it and ready for it, so it was no surprise when I hacked up my ankle while shaving and bled all over a towel drying off. sigh.
I slapped a bandaid on without any thought or attention before pre-treating the towel that I now had to wash. I went about my morning with one thing after another going awry, as expected and finally had hit my annoyance limit. I knew that before I blew a gasket I needed to step away. I took a walk to the beach. There were riptide warnings so I didn't go any deeper than my ankles but I accidentally stepped on a sharp shell and cut the bottom of my foot. sigh. Even in my "happy place" I was finding no peace. I decided that I may as well go back home.
As I paused to wipe the sand from my feet before putting my sandals back on, I noticed for the first time, that my bandaid was not a typical, ordinary, beige bandaid! No! It was a picture of what, flowers? No, it's buttons! How did I end up with a bandaid that had a picture of buttons on it? (that's when I took the photo - and no easy task either! Ever take a picture of the back of your ankle?)
Suddenly, I wasn't in a defeated, grumpy frame of mind anymore. That silly bandaid turned my day around and I was smiling again. As soon as I got home, I checked the box because I had no recollection of buying a box of fancy bandaids. Nope, the box was the ordinary blue and white with red writing of any Band-Aid box. Oh wait, there was a little something that said, "Bonus: 10 designer strips included" Designer bandaids? That totally cracked me up! Oh, and they aren't called bandaids, they are called "strips" That made me laugh too. How funny is it that the Band-Aid people called their bandaids, "strips"?
And it got me thinking about that saying that it's the little things that matter. I guess it really is. I will try to remember that more and make it a point to look for those small, perfect, wonderful details that can turn my day around.
Wishing you a day filled with perfect, little details that make you smile. And fancy bandaids.
It's May, my friends. Happy Better Hearing Month! This is a very personal happy month to me because those little doo-dads that you see in the photo above are mine. And in case you aren't certain of what they are, they are hearing aids.
It's usually difficult for even the experts to know for certain what the origin of a hearing loss is. We suspect that mine started way way back when I was 12 years old and had a very bad case of scarlet fever. Hearing loss is a very common side effect of some diseases, scarlet fever among them. Of course, I didn't realize that I had lost some hearing when I was 12. I was a kid. What does a kid know?
But by the time I got to college, I began to have noticeable difficulty in certain environments. Particularly parties and large lecture halls. But I didn't realize the problem as being a hearing problem. I thought that, was far as parties go, I was just shy. As far as the classes in the lecture halls were related, I honestly thought, I was just stupid. I did not see the correlation between those enormous, echoey halls and my hearing being damaged. When my kids were very small, they would play a game that they thought was hysterical where they would hide behind trees and call out for me. I could never tell what direction their voices were coming from, but I thought that was something nobody could figure out. I didn't realize it was just me.
As I got older, the problems grew but I still did not connect the problem to hearing loss. Always an excuse. Avoiding social gatherings? I'm just shy. Not watching TV? I don't like those shows. Dreading phone calls? I never had a good answer for that one I just told myself that I didn't like talking on the phone. Difficulty at restaurants? I just don't have much to say and again, I'm shy. And then one day something happened and that tipped the scales forever.
I attended a fancy schmancy business gathering for Tim's work. It was one of those places with the enormously high ceilings and marble floors and huge sparkly chandeliers and music playing with lots and lots of people milling about and very few places to sit. I did what I always did in those situations, I tried to find a place to hide. Potted palms were a favourite place to lurk. But this time, someone found me.
She was a very nice lady and had a story to tell. She had a crooked sort of smile that was charming and spoke with great animation about....something. She talked a length and with great animation. Taking my cue from her crooked little smile, I smiled and nodded back. Then she gave me an odd look and walked away. I breathed a great sigh of relief that she was gone. And shortly thereafter we left. A few days later, Tim came home from work and told me what really happened. This nice lady's crooked smile was actually a "nervous" habit that happened when she was feeling emotional, And the animated story that she was telling me was the sad tale of her cat having recently died. And here I was smiling and nodding like a lunatic.
She walked away thinking I was the meanest, rottenest, most cat-hating person on the planet. She told a co-worker, who told another co-worker, who told yet another co-worker that her bosses, bosses, boss's wife was this terrible cat-hating woman. The story eventually made it's way to Tim who kindly went to this woman and explained that his wife was not a rotten cat-hater but simply a nice lady who cannot hear.
Okay, now it was impacting my family in a way that I could not longer pretend wasn't happening. It was time to do something. I made an appointment for a hearing test at my local Audiology Office where I found out, to my great surprise, that I have a very significant hearing loss. It was a great shock!! With my permission, they programmed a pair of hearing aids for me and put them on. I walked around in wide-eyed wonder at all the things I was hearing!!! They even allowed me to "test-drive" them at home for a few days. I was just such a stunning difference even I could not deny it. SOLD!
If you do not already know, hearing aids these days are incredibly small. Micro-processers aren't just for cellphones. Here is a photo to give you a better idea of comparable sizes:
The biggest part goes behind my ear, it is essentially hidden. Then there is a clear wire that extend to the tip which goes into my ear canal. 99% of the time, nobody knows I have them on. But honestly, I wouldn't care if they did. I can hear again. I can participate again. I am part of the world around me again. And don't for one minute think about sneaking up on me, because now I can hear you coming!!
It turns out that there are some television shows that I enjoy. I will talk your ear off on the telephone. And to my great surprise, I love a good party. Turns out I'm actually not all that shy.
Every adult should have their hearing at least screened. If for no other reason, than to establish a base line so that if you have problems later, you have something to measure new results against. Most audiology offices offer free screenings. Take advantage of this opportunity. It doesn't take very long and it doesn't hurt one single bit.
Be smarter than me. Don't wait 30 something years before finding out and fixing a problem. I missed so much in my life and for so long and so unnecessarily.
I am so excited about my life again. Instead of hiding behind the potted palms hoping nobody sees me, I'm right out there in the thick of it having a blast!
Join me, won't you?
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.