Tim and I ate at Cracker Barrel not long ago. The food is not fancy, but it's consistent, the price is reasonable and at least down here in Florida, you are never very far from one. We hadn't eaten at a Cracker Barrel is some time so I had fun playing that peg game at the table for awhile, and losing every single time (Every time!) and looking around at all the memorabilia decorating the walls while we waited for our food. I always enjoy prowling around the store awhile on the way out, just to see what there is to see. But one of my favourite things about eating at a Cracker Barrel Restaurants, is the candy section. It's always a little visit to the past.
I've been feeling a little candy nostalgic lately anyway for which I thoroughly blame youngest child, Hurley. You see, he does a daily Instagram video called SnackMurder whereupon he "murders" a different snack food every day, writes a review and videos himself tasting it and discussing the pro and/or cons of each. It's very entertaining. My favourite posts are on Fridays because that day is Flashback Friday where he tries a an oldie food. Y'know, old stuff, like from my era. It's awesome.
These are candy's I know, many of which I've had, but not thought of in eons. Still the memory is there. When he merely opened the package of Necco wafers, I could smell that Necco dust. The sound of the waxed paper wrapper crinkling came to mind and of course I could taste that chalky, nasty old familiar Necco flavor. I was not a fan. BUT I remember it.
In the same way, a walk through the candy aisles of a Cracker Barrel really sparks up the old memory banks. How many of you remember: Gnawing candy dots off the shiny paper which grew stickier and stickier as you ate row after row; having the colour come off onto your neck from a damp candy necklace; the slap/crack sound from slamming a Turkish Taffy on the table top to break it up; the ache in your jaw from the aptly named jaw breaker; biting the wax top off of those little bottle of liquids and sucking out that teensy bit of 'candy juice' and then chewing up the wax afterwards (that sounds so gross now) or reading the comic that came in the Bazooka Bubble gum wrapper.
My favourite Cracker Barrel candy is the malted milk balls. Because my husband loves me, when we leave Cracker Barrel, he always picks up a little bag of those for me because he is a very nice man. I bite each one in half, suck out the malted milk center and then eat the chocolate. My tongue is always sore by the time the bag is empty but it's totally worth while. My joy is palpable while eating malted milk balls.
Tim on the other hand prefers chewier things, Mary Janes, Bit-o-honey, Mike'n'Ike's, gummy anythings. I am fine with the taste of those things, I just don't care for the stick-in-the-teeth element of those sorts of things. With the exception of Milk Duds. For some reason I suspend the dislike of chewy things for the rapture of Milk Duds which I ONLY ever eat in a movie theatre.
I never cared for the candy sticks really. I'm not sure why. Tim loves the licorice stuff which I absolutely despise, which I suppose make it a safe bet for him to buy because he knows for certain that I won't be sneaking any of that particular candy stash.
I honestly never had those giant orange peanut looking things. They just don't look like something anyone should eat. The Boston Baked beans, well I tried them once, so no thank you, that was sufficient. Root Beer Barrels, in small doses on very rare occasions when I'm really in the mood for one is okay although I would probably never buy any on purpose. Sometimes they just sort of show up in a mixed bag of hard candies though. Burnt French Peanuts don't even sound good. Why would I want to eat something that is burnt? I never had a Valomilk though youngest son reviewed one on his SnackMurder Flashback Friday's and he quite liked it. He certainly made it sound as if I missed out on something really good there.
My sister loved sweet-tarts though I was not so much of a fan. Her favourite back when we were kids (and still her favourite today) is Nonpareils. They are harder to find nowadays although sometimes they pop up in movie theatre snack counters disguised as "Snowcaps." They aren't quite as sweet as a lot of candies. The chocolate is deeper, maybe it's dark chocolate, which would almost make it healthy right?
There are an astonishing number of candies at Cracker Barrel that I've never tried. They have things I never heard of before which is always fun to contemplate. Maybe in the future instead of my take-away bag being Malted Milk Balls, instead I will be brave and try something new! But probably not. Most likely I will leave the adventurous snacking to Hurley and his SnackMurder Instagram site where his tagline is #Try Everything! I admire the attitude (though I don't share it) and I really watching his videos.
Oh what the heck, next time, I promise, I will try something new. What's life with a little risk?
I think my love affair with the written word is fairly well documented. Lately, however, I have been reading some things that I find very disturbing, regarding books. It is weighing heavily on me and it needs to be said. Since this won't be my usual light hearted romp of a blog, I promise to keep this as brief as possible.
I want to go on record as saying that I oppose censorship. I so strongly oppose censorship that if ever I was going to write letters of protest or march on the capitol or say inflammatory things publicly it would most likely be regarding censorship. My father once told me that there is no such thing as bad information. It's what a person does with the information given that matters. I support that statement. I honestly believe that nobody has the right to tell me what to read or how to think. My first thought when someone attempts to censor me is always, "How dare you!"
Therefore, while I was dismayed to find that the Laura Ingalls Wilder award will be striped of her name because people find some of her depictions of Native Americans offensive. I also know that it's their award, they can name it what they wish, they can change the name, they can do whatever they like. And sadly, I am told that in a knee-jerk reaction, her books are now being removed from libraries.
HOWEVER, it seems that we are not keeping in mine here that Ms. Wilder was writing what she knew as a child a VERY long time ago, (Ms Wilder now being long deceased) and that it was an accurate depiction of the time. Not just the day to day hardships of struggling against the elements of nature or building a cabin or keeping your family fed without modern conveniences but her work also accurately portrays the social conventions, the attitudes, the ignorance of the time. The words need to be put into the context of the history.
It needs to be born in mind that the awards people are not saying that she was a poor writer, or that her books have not been enjoyed by millions for generations. The only justification for their action is that some people are offended by her word choices about specific incidents. The author wrote what she knew, about how she lived. She was honest and genuine about her life.
Do her words depict our current attitudes and sensitivities and understanding? No they don't. Of course they don't. She didn't write it now. She isn't even alive now so how could her words written so long ago reflect our attitudes today?
I've been through this before. For instance when people took offense at the words of Mark Twain and pulled his books off the shelves for much the same sort of reasons. I was heart-broken that future generations will not know the beautifully written, rich, full portrayals of life in his time. Were some of his words offensive to us? Yes, definitely. Were they, again, an accurate depiction of his life in his time period? One more time, yes they were.
Re-writing history does not change what happened. Removing "offensive" literature from book shelves doesn't make it go away. It happened. There were people who were slaves in this country. And in every other country in the world. There are still some people who are enslaved in the world. This is a terrible thing. It should never have happened. But it did. And pretending that it didn't doesn't mean that it never existed. The expansionists that moved the boundaries of the United States of America all the way to the pacific ocean did a terrible thing by villainizing the Native American peoples so that they could justify what was done. BUT the fact of the matter is, that it happened. And all of the re-writing in the world, all of the censoring, all of the book removals, the bannings and the burnings do not change that fact.
Here is the biggest issue for me. If our society is successful at removing any hint of anything "bad" that ever happened, how are we supposed to learn from our mistakes? If future generations are not allowed to learn the truth of the things we did wrong, how are they going to know how to do it right?
My apologies for getting serious and ranting today.
I'm done now.
I'll be back tomorrow in a much better frame of mind, I promise!
Looks like I went shopping again and I must have been in a blue mood. I don't actually know if that's a real thing for anyone else, but I have noticed that when I shop for clothes I tend to come home with things in the same colour palette and it's different each time. This time it was blue. But it's been grey, green, pink, black, orange...with me one never knows. Even I don't know until I get home with my purchases and get them all washed and ironed and suddenly it dawns on me that everything is the same colour. How weird is that?
Stranger still is that I didn't start out that morning intending to buy any clothes. Seriously, I didn't. I went to the store to look for undies. The lingerie section is at the back of the store. Clever merchandizing. I had to pass by all these other lovely things to get to what I was seeking. And, especially difficult for me, I had to walk past the clearance sections. It's like catnip to a cat. Honestly. I have a problem. Maybe I need a 12-step program.
I thought, what's the harm in looking? Odds are good that I won't find anything anyway. For things to be on clearance they must check a number of boxes 1) out of season 2) out of style and of course, 3) nobody else wanted it. Add to that, I have a difficult body to fit. I can hear you saying, "Don't we all" and you are right. Most everyone has that "thing" that we must work around when choosing our clothes. And since I shop exclusively at an outlet store to begin with (and then the clearance rack on top of that) I am beginning in a difficult spot.
But there are several things to keep in mind. First Florida really only has two seasons, February and the rest of the year. Ok that is a slight exaggeration, but in all honesty, the majority of the year we are all wearing warm weather clothes so the seasonal aspect is really kind of a non-issue. Secondly, I don't care one iota about being in or out of style. Oh sure, sometimes it's fun to participate in a trend but for the most part, I lean toward classics. Timeless clothes that are easily updated by changing one item. Also, I truly do not care (and generally do not even know) what the current style is. Lastly, just because someone else didn't want it doesn't mean that nobody wanted it. I have found some of my absolute favourite items on the clearance racks. It takes some sorting through to be fair but it can be worth it in the end.
And of course, because I am starting in a difficult spot and because my body looks as if it were created out of spare parts which makes it very hard to fit, I have very low expectations. In other words, I start out assuming that I will find nothing. I mean not one thing. Sometimes, not even anything I want to try on. Or okay, I will try it, but I begin at knowing it will either not fit, or not look good, or just not suit my life. So it's relatively safe for me to look through the store.
Or so I thought.
This was a day when all of the shopping planets were in perfect alignment. It was an extremely rare occasion for me. For one thing, it wasn't crowded. I love that. I didn't have to wait for a changing room even once. Plus, there weren't hordes of people crowding the aisles and vying for the same item. Then, the most amazing part of all, Every single thing I tried on fit and looked good and was comfortable and, holy cow, it's the clearance rack of an outlet store for heaven's sakes! The price was right! Oh me oh my! This almost never happens.
I was giddy with the possibility of choice.
But before I even decide which of these items I am going to purchase, first I have to justify, in my head, the purchase at all. This is a process people. As it so happens, unfortunately, I recently splashed a little bleach onto my favourite pair of baggy yellow shorts. I love those shorts. Comfy, baggy intentionally, definitely beachy and a soft baby yellow colour. But the bleach spots, well, it has demoted them from favourite overall to favourite scrub the floors or work in the yard shorts. Absolutely nothing I would wear to work at the musem or to teach or out to dinner or well anywhere out in public, except maybe the beach :) Then I had another clothing tragedy when other favoured pair of shorts tangled with some thorny shrubbery and now have a tear in them. Again, demoted shorts. I am not ready to just throw them away. We all need a few pieces of junky clothes for junky work (which is what I should have been wearing while doing yardwork instead of a good pair of shorts, right?)
So in my head I'm thinking that I can reasonably allow myself two pair of shorts to replace those. (the tops I didn't even try to justify) Ok I'm there. Just two. Just two? Dang. How does anyone make these sorts of decisions? I usually don't have to actually decide by myself. For ten years, in Colorado, I shopped with my friend Marsha. She was the one who was key to making a decision. Once we moved here, generally I shopped with my sister. Both of them are kind and honest. Invaluable. If I am forced through circumstance to shop for clothes by myself, normally, I buy the ONE thing that fits, is reasonably priced and doesn't look horrible. Very low standards I know but it makes shopping by myself easier. However, this time, I actually found so very many things I liked, that fit and were a fair price! This is unprecedented! Unheard of! Woohoo! Enough celebrating. I hd to make an actual choice on my own.
Part of what determined my choice was out of practicality. What other things do I have in my closet that I can wear each piece with. I do love separates for that reason. Exponentially increasing my wardrobe. The next questions I asked myself was, "What things will I get the most use out of". The rest of it was just whimsy. What mood was I in at that moment. Which is how I ended up replacing two ruined pair of shorts with one pair of capri's and one skort. Wait? What? Not shorts? Nope. Variety is, afterall, the spice of life. Apparently that applies to wardrobe choices too.
And after all this, I'm just tickled to bits with my choices. How did I do? What do you think?
This was the last piece of cake leftover from Father's Day. In case you are concerned that I will contract ptomaine or something from eating old cake, please relax. I cut the cake into slices, wrapped each one individually and put them into the freezer the day after Father's Day. It's all good.
The last piece should taste exactly the same as the first piece right? Doesn't logic follow that since this slice is taken from the same source as the first slice it should be identical? The fact that it was frozen the day after it was made indicates that this piece should be just as fresh and rich and gooey and wonderful as every other slice, right?
The recipe is one of my favourites. It was given to me eons ago by my very good friend Sandy who is, without question, the best baker I've ever known. Better even than my Nana and she was a force of baking nature. Sandy had a teashop in the town we lived in back in Connecticut. Every single day that the shop was open, she made a type of soup, a type of quiche and an assortment of baked goods. Each day offered different goodies and each day they were amazing. People who wouldn't normally frequent tea shops came regularly to hers specifically for the pleasure of her company and the quality of her food. So you know this recipe is not just good, it is amazing. It deserves it's own category as it is not merely a chocolate cake, it is THE chocolate cake. The chocolate cake that all others aspire to be.
The frosting recipe on the other hand came from my sister, Joy. I'm not sure if she came up with this perfect balance of ingredients on her own or if she got it from someone else but it is a perfect frosting. The colour, the flavor the creaminess, the spreadability is wonderful and works on every flavor of cake I've ever made. Daughter-in-law Jessie uses it for her Whoopie Pies instead of the original filling recipe. Yes, it's that good.
I always eat goodies slowly to savour each and every bite. Tiny little shavings of forkfuls. I even eat the crumbs at the end. Nothing gets wasted. I want this dessert to last. I want it to colour my dreams that night. If I eat it slowly enough, it takes a very long time to finish my slice and I can bring the memory of it back in excruciating detail for hours after. I fancy my sweets but I don't allow myself to have them often anymore so having this last piece is a big deal.
I told Tim last night that I was probably going to eat the last piece. I apologized too since I made the cake for him and by rights, he should have the last piece don't you think? He told me to go right ahead and have that last piece and to enjoy it. I felt guilty to be honest. I should have been the bigger person, the more generous person. It was his cake. I should have saved it for him. But I didn't. I am positive that he was sincere when he told me to enjoy it. As much as he likes my chocolate cake, he is more of a savory guy than a sweets guy anyway. Still, I made the cake specifically for him and I had every intention of saving that last piece.
And yet, I did not. I could hear it calling to me from the freezer. "Sam" it said. "Sam, there is one last piece of cake in here" "I'm not listening to you" I said in response. "Sam," it called louder, "One last yummy piece of chocolate cake just waiting for you" it said. "I'm not even hungry" I lied. My tummy rumbled at the thought of chocolate cake. "Liar" it said, "You want this last piece of cake. You deserve this last piece of cake. It's waiting for You." I stuck my fingers in my ears and said really loud, "LALALALALA!! I can't hear you!" and I walked away. That lasted for a few hours but I really did want that last piece. I knew it. The cake knew it. The freezer knew it. Heck, even Tim knew it.
For the record, the last piece of chocolate cake tasted better than any other piece of chocolate cake. Probably because it is the last piece. Maybe because I don't bake very often any more and it's a treat. Possibly because I know I shouldn't have eaten it at all. And definitely because it will be awhile before I get to enjoy chocolate cake again.
And if anyone is curious, I had it for breakfast. Best. Breakfast. Ever.
I didn't even know places like this existed anymore!
Yesterday Tim and I drove about an hour south to Ft Meyers to a place called The Shell Factory. The name alone makes me go, "huh?" They manufacture shells? And all this time I thought they just existed in nature, like trees and rocks? I have the mental image of some Willy Wonka looking factory that chugs out shells of every sort and people creeping around in the dark of night, scattering them on beaches all over the world.
So there were in the absolutely fully packed parking lot looking at this bizarre collection of buildings that are jammed right up against one another and wondering where to start. We walked in through the closest door. It turns out that The Shell Factory also has a very large Christmas store in it. Because that is a totally normal progression right? From shells to Santa?
The Christmas store was incredible. I have never seen so many different types of Christmas trees, to begin with. Every colour and size imaginable, both upside down hanging from the ceiling and right side up on the floor. All of them decorated differently. With a Christmas train chugging 'round and ' round the ceiling and Christmassy décor and Christmas music playing everywhere to get you in that holiday mood. The array of Christmas villages were definitely a good hint and just to be sure that you knew it was a Christmas store, Santas Everywhere!
This Christmas room somehow segued into a room FILLED with taxidermized animals from all over the world. It was.....unexpected. I'll just say that. But oddly, bizarrely fascinating. Like a freeze-framed zoo. And right in the middle of it all, was a shell encrusted golf cart. What?? No, seriously, there was. See?
So you as you can clearly see, they did actually have sells at The Shell Factory. They had a LOT of shells. And things made out of shells and...well...some unexpected things made out of shells:
And things oddly decorated with shells. This is clearly not a chair a person would sit on. Or at least not sit on comfortably:
When Tim was finally able to tear me away from the shells, we found an arcade, a small military museum, a strange pirate room that had what appeared to be a lot of animatronic pirates. Or at least there were a lot of mannequins in pirate garb and an entire panel of buttons waiting to be pressed but only one pirate actually moved or "spoke". That was odd.
They had home made fudge and home made ice cream that all looked pretty darned good though we resisted the urge to try it. And believe me that took discipline! There were rooms of gems and fossils that I perused at great length and a gift shop the likes of which I have never seen before. It. Was. Huge. There was every sort of gift shop, novelty, jewelry, clothing, gee-gaw, whirly-gig, kite, puzzle, doo-dad and thingamajig I've ever seen before and a few more. Honestly, I have never in my life seen to many thing "personalized". Bracelets, candle-holders, colouring books, hair clips, and on and on and on all with people's names emblazoned upon them. We marveled and giggled over it all.
Finally we made our way outside. Yes, there was more. At first it was sort of like a carnival midway, with games, mostly geared for children like the ring toss and ball throw and water balloon launch. Yes we got wet watching that one, but it felt good on a hot day. There were those great big pictures with the faces cut out too. (what are those called anyway?) Look who I caught peeking through there.
Lots of food to choose from, soft hot pretzels, ice cream and cotton candy of course but also two sit down and be served restaurants. One of which specialized in seafood if the signs are to be believed.
They had a petting/feeding zoo which we did not go through but also paddle boats and bumper boats and trampolines that looked like fun. They even had a small zipline~! It was a two person contraption where the victims are latched into a double chair and hauled very high up into the air before being released to zoooooom to the end. My heart kind of stops when I watch this but the people appeared to be having fun. You couldn't prove it by me, but these total strangers (and my apologies to them for taking their photo but I couldn't resist) are both smiling as they flew by us.
It took us a couple of hours to walk through and see it all and it cost us absolutely nothing to do so. It was kitschy, silly, ridiculous, touristy, awful, wonderful and reminded me a little bit of driving along Route 66 in the olden days when that was a road was worth traveling.
I'm so glad we went!
How was your weekend?
Does this happen to you? Or is it just me?
I finally find a product (whatever it is I happen to be searching for) and finally, at long last, I find one that I absolutely love. I think it is the best thing since the invention of Chocolate chip Cookies. I use it every day. Should someone ask me what product (whichever one we are discussing) I use, I brag about it, I recommend it even. I am so happy at that point that, after the long treasure hunt, I feel as if I have found The One. Like Neo in The Matrix. Yeah, I feel that strongly about it. So strongly in fact, that I am willing to fork over hard earned cash for it without remorse or guilt.
And then, after buying it a few times, suddenly, inexplicably, without warning, it vanishes from the shelves. What? But, but, but, I loved it. Why have you taken it away from me? Insert much sobbing and inconsolable sadness here. Mostly I"m weeping because I know that it will take For-freakin-ever to find a suitable replacement for whatever it is that is gone. Frustrating.
And expensive. All that trial and error. Trying something that I don't like the scent of or the feel of or the usefulness of. I mean a fragrance that doesn't smell good is pointless, right? A wrinkle cream that doesn't address wrinkles doesn't make any sense! And yet I've already spent the money for the product to try that I feel obligated to keep using it until I try another one. I hate the trial and error part.
So, I have no power in this situation at all. The retailers giveth, the retailers taketh away.
Perfume in particular is a problem. I have some wierdo, probably alien, body chemistry wherein very few fragrances smell good on me. Generally, once applied to my skin, it goes from a lovely scent to something more like rubbing alcohol. Or it disappears as if I never put any scent on. Or it morphs into something gross and overpowering. I don't know why it is, but it's a fact. A VERY long time ago, back in high school maybe or college, I found one called "Straw Hat". I don't recall who made it, but it was glorious. It smelled even better when I wore it than it did in the bottle. It was a miracle. It was the very first fragrance that I ever wore that I loved. Other people would walk by and breathe deeply and say, "ahhhhh" and smile. It was like a signature. By the time I left college, it no longer existed. Dang.
So I wore no fragrance at all for years. And then, I don't recall the where's or how's of it all, but I found a new wonderful perfume called, "Casual". The one you see above. It has a base of Lily of the Valley but it's not overpowering. Just a lovely little surprise if you are close enough to me to give me a hug. I absolutely adore it. When I got dressed every day, it was the last thing that I "put on". It felt like an essential article of clothing almost. I was in my happyplace for sure. But then, all too soon, it happened again. Casual disappeared from the shelves in the store. I was heartbroken.
I tried, I tried so hard, to find a replacement but nothing else worked. It was either too strong, completely invisible to the olfactory senses (so what would be the point of wearing it?) or again, smelled more like rubbing alcohol. I came up with nothing try after try after try and I quit looking.
But Tim did not give up. He went online and found six bottles of my fragrance.....somewhere.....and bought all of them for me. He is my hero! I've been hoarding them. Using it sparingly, only on special occasions or when I need a little pick me up. As you can see in the photo, there is only the tiniest bit left. This is the second to the last bottle. I need to make it last the rest of my life so when I say I use it sparingly, I'm not joking! And that kind of makes me sad because I love the fragrance. I love wearing fragrance. Even if I have not so much as one swipe of a mascara wand or one slap of a lipstick otherwise on my face, if I'm wearing fragrance I feel special.
I'm finding the same issue with the L'Oreal Blur. (the red tube in the photo) It's The Best wrinkle fighter I've ever used EVER. Bonus points, it also has sunscreen in it. It's not a large tube, but since the only part of the cream that works is the part that is actually touching your skin, it doesn't take very much to do the job. I just love this stuff. Again, I have faithfully used it twice a day for several years, I have told other people how much I love it, I have no qualms about spending the money for it and since each tube lasts me at least 4 months, it's honestly not all that much, but suddenly, it's nearly impossible to find. Oh no! Here we go again.
When I do run across it, I buy it, even if I don't at that moment need to replace it. I'm nearly at the panic point. What will I do when I no longer stumble across another tube and I'm completely out?? As you can see, I cut off the bottom of the tube. That's because I could no longer squeeze any out, but once I cut the bottom off, I can still access the bits that cling to the sides. There is probably enough still in the tube to get me through the next few weeks and then, oh dear, then, whatever will I do?
Most things are whatever, whatever. If I cannot find my favourite brand of butter, I buy a different brand. No big deal. Same with bread, peanut butter, raisins, dryer sheets or dishwashing soap. I have a favourite but I am willing to substitute with a mere shrug of the shoulders and life goes on much the same as it did before. But there are somethings that are simply irreplaceable. Without them, life just isn't exactly the same. Perhaps it's shallow of me. Maybe I've shown myself to be, as I was once accused, 'Beyond Redemption'. But at least it's the truth. I will be sad for a little bit. Oh I'll get over it but still.
When the day comes that I can no longer find any of my Blur and I've used up the last of my perfume, I'll still be me. Just smelly and wrinkly. And a little bit sad.
Despite all that, please have a wonderful weekend, each and every one of you!!
Isn't this just so thoughtful? It came in my newspaper as a special section. Pages and pages and pages of all sorts of puzzles. Crosswords and jumbles and word searches and more! Just the sort of thing to keep someone occupied inside during a hot humid summer day outside. Or a rainy day. Or a do-nothing weekend. Or a nothing on TV evening. Or anytime I want to torture myself.
Yes, that is what I said. I was so tickled when I found this puzzle bonus section of the paper. I made it a point to take it out and put it on the table in the family room so it wouldn't accidentally get thrown away. I thumbed through it and, in my head, saw hours of funfunfun! I need to give the inside of my head a reality check.
First of all, I am not going to attempt a crossword puzzle or any other sort for that matter without both a pencil AND an eraser. Mistakes will be made. I know this for fact. This is not my first puzzle rodeo. Eventually I found a pencil sharpener, which was a surprise to me. It took a lot more searching but finally I even found a set of pencils. They are have Mickey Mouse cartoons on them. I'm guessing it was, at some point, a Christmas Stocking gift. So I have pencils (4) I have pencil sharpening (1) I have the erasers on the bottom of the pencils. I am set. Ready to puzzle my little heart out.
By the time I found everything I needed, it was time to start dinner, and the clean up from dinner, and then walk to the beach to make sure the sun set properly and walk back. And by the time I got back, there was something on TV that I wanted to see soooooo. Okay. No big deal, can work on the puzzles another day. It's not like it's going anywhere.
But then things got busy and then even busier and when I did have time to work on the puzzles, I was too restless, too distracted. I couldn't focus on tying my shoes, I certainly was in no shape, mentally, to work on puzzles!
Last night, I couldn't sleep. Instead of reading or watching any of the shows I have recorded for just this purpose, I decided to use that "extra time" instead to open the puzzle pages and maybe get to work on some of those. Awesome! Again, in my head, I saw neatly filled in little crossword puzzle boxes, tidily circled words in the word search games and perfectly unjumbled word jumbles. As it turns out, the inside of my head is dead wrong about me.
The first few crossword questions weren't bad,. #20 across: Admit openly. Well obviously that's confess right? And hurrah, it was! #37 across: Robin's place. Hey, I know that one, Nest! Yay me! But then we get to #13 down: "It's Gonna Be Me" . What the heck? Is it cheating to google? #66 down: East in Bonn. I have no idea. Do they mean Bonn Germany? I'm sure there are many things on the east side of Bonn. #111 across: Classic Tune. Do you KNOW how many classic tunes there are??
I sighed and moved on. To be a little kinder to myself, my eyes were too tired to do the word searches. D's and B's kept mixing themselves up. F's and E's were trading places. Okay I will save the word searches until another day. What's next?
Sudoku? No thank you. Althogether too Mathy.
There is something called a Point and Solve. It's sort of like a crossword puzzle but not exactly. I was too tired to try to figure out how it all works. I'll save that one until I'm more awake too.
There was something else I'd never heard of, Wuzzles. Ever hear of that one? They define it as a "word riddle which creates a disguised word, phrase, name, place, saying etc. For Example : Noon Good =- Good Afternoon". oookkkaaayy. One of them has two boxes. In one box it says ing bear. Bear was written under ing. Bear undering? Overing bear? Ingover Bear? Ing Overbear? The second box had just the word RALLY really big. Filled the entire box. Big Rally? Huge Rally? Large Rally? Rally filling a box? Rallybox? Boxing Rally? Ingover Bear Big Rally? I have no idea. And I was getting alittle pissy about it. That doesn't help me sleep at all. I moved on.
Cryptoquip was next. In the past I have actually been quite good at this type. I felt hopeful. My hopes were dashed to the ground and shattering into teensy pieces. Even with the one clue that they gave for each puzzle I did not complete even one last night. Ratz. Maybe by dawn's early light, it will all be crystal clear to me. I'll save those for later.
There were more puzzles but at that point I was too aggravated to bother. And certainly it wasn't helping me sleep. Because I was unable to complete one single puzzles, I felt as if my brain had let me down. Instead of that "Woohoo I still got it feeling" that comes with accomplishment, I was feeling very stupid. And I hate feeling stupid.
So mental note, do not attempt puzzles when very tired but unable to sleep. Good to know. I will not try them again until I'm wide awake and feeling sharp :) I predict that those puzzles are going down!
Hopefully you will forgive me for talking, once again, about Shingles. You know, I always write about what is going on in my life at the time and right now, this is the primary thing going on. I feel so useless! Watching poor Tim suffer in silence and knowing that there is nothing I can do to help him is horrible.
Or is there? My friend, Sally (Thank you Sally!) suggested that I look into an anti-inflammatory diet. The thought had not even occurred to me. A whatywhat? I guess I didn't realize that there was such a thing. But once the seed of the idea was planted, it made absolute sense to me. If the nerves are inflamed, wouldn't it be logical to un-inflame them if at all possible? AND this is something that I actually can do to try to help!
So I did some reading. Of course I did. It's what I do. Lots of fruits and vegetables, as little caffeine as possible, nothing processed, nothing refined, nothing fried, no white sugar, no white flour, and, to Tim's great joy, meat is on the okeydokey list. I think this is do-able.
If nothing else, it can't hurt him. The Shingles already are hurting him, he doesn't need any more of that nonsense! I'm told that Shingles is one of the most painful of diseases. Right up there with kidney stones. Which, comes to think of it, Tim has also had. Oh dear.
Sooo wish us luck with this experiment. At this point, he should be feeling better and instead he is feeling worse. We do have a call out to his doctor. We will see what the doc has to say but I'm still moving forward with trying this different eating regimen. Fingers Crossed.
Think of this post as a PSA. If this experiment goes well, if Shingles ever happen to you, or a loved one, you will know to give the Anti-inflammatory diet a try. If it doesn't change anything, at least we tried. And it gave me something to do that felt helpful.
Keep a good thought for Tim please. And for heaven's sakes, if you are over 50, get the doggone Shingles vaccination!
What you are looking at here is, apparently, a very scary person.
Here's what happened.
Since poor Tim has been rather home-bound with his Shingles (One of the things about it that the doctor told us was that he absolutely had to stay out of the sun. Florida=sunshine) In an act of solidarity, I was, for the most part, staying home with him. Watching movies together, reading, working puzzles, talking, playing games, etc. And I was getting a little itchy. Not from spending time with my beloved. Nope. Never. But from not being outside. I am accustomed to having a minimum of one three mile walk a day! Minimum! Usually more. So yesterday, finally, I gave in. I took a quick walk to the beach in the morning (above photo) while Tim was slaving away in his office.
It felt so good to be outside and on the beach! And bonus, I was the only person to be seen in either direction. Just birds to prevent me from being lonely and therefore, I was in good company. I took deep breaths, and relished that briney goodness. I wiggled my toes in the sand. I skipped a few rocks on the water and just stood there taking it all in. Then I took a few quick photos and hurried back. (photo from the morning walk)
But it felt so good to be out and about yesterday morning that after last night after dinner, with apologies to Tim who would have LIKED to come with me but knew he should not, I went again. It was a gorgeous sunset, and I stayed until the best part of it had faded and the sun had sunk, once again, into the sea. There were a few more people around, all of them doing the same as I, just quietly watching and enjoying and, at least for me, feeling at peace. (photo from yesterdays evening beach walk)
As it so happened, another woman, roughly my age (I'm terrible at guessing ages) left at the exact same time as I did, so we were literally walking side by side. She remarked on what a beautiful sunset it was. I agreed. She said that she probably had a thousand photos of sunsets, I said that each one was different. She agreed. And we both walked on. She a little ahead of me.
I expected, once we reached the sidewalk for her to turn, left or right. Most people do there. But instead she crossed the street and continued straight up Ormond. Well that is the way that I go too, so I also crossed the street and continued straight up Ormond maybe 10 feet behind her. As we reached the top of the street, she turned and saw me and gasped. Literally. She gasped and her hand came up to her mouth. I stopped and smiled.
"I live up that way", I explained and pointed in the direction of my house which is still about a half mile away. She turned left. Dang. That is the way I need to go too. She walked faster. I kept to my original pace which means I'm definitely falling behind. I was hoping that my being so much further behind her would be reassuring. But I guess it wasn't. About a half block up, she turned again, saw me and then pulled out her cellphone and kind of waggled it at me. "Honest", I said, "I'm not following you. I live up that way". And again I pointed. She turned again and, now nearly trotting, kept going. I could hear her panting as she hurried.
Ok. What can I do here to convince her that I am not "following her" but merely travelling in the same direction? I slowed down even more. I stopped and took photos of stupid things that I don't care about one bit. All out of consideration for someone else's panic attack. In the quiet of the evening and with the breeze coming toward me, I could hear her say, something about, "....some woman". I assume she was talking to someone on her phone. She was far enough away from me at that point she had gone around a curve and I actually couldn't see her at all. But I could hear her little footfalls. I stopped entirely and counted to twenty before walking again. By the time I came around the corner, she was gone.
Thank goodness! What a stressful walk. For us both. If she hadn't been so frightened of me, I wanted to tell her that I'm not scary. That's it's a small island and odds are good that you will always be walking in the same direction as someone. Especially in the evening as there are so many sunset watchers. I wanted to let her know that I am one of the "good guys"! That I meant her no harm. But clearly that was not going to happen.
I hope last night's experience doesn't stop her from walking to the beach to enjoy the sunsets. I know she will freak out if she sees me there again, but I have no intention of stopping my own sunset walks.
The question is, if I see her again, should I apologize? I mean, I know that I did nothing wrong. Not one darn thing. But it's obvious that I frightened her and that was certainly not my intention. Or would it be better to pretend that I didn't recognize her?
I am trying to see it from her perspective. If she is just a visitor to our island and doesn't know much about the area, it is all unfamiliar. And they always say that the scary bad people look just like regular ordinary people. You don't get much more ordinary looking than me! And walking in the evening as it's getting darker and darker and having someone you don't know behind you...? Yeah, I guess that could make a person a little anxious.
Whichever I end up doing, I will make certain that we do not leave the beach at the same time. I will give her at minimum one full block of buffer zone even if I have to just hang around the beach longer so she doesn't, once again, believe that my scary self is following her. Poor little thing.
And meanwhile, I have these photos that I took in an effort to convince her that I was just...walking...not following. And I mean, seriously, this picture? Not scary.
Wasn't it just a month ago? Maybe a little longer. Regardless, I was whining about how it rained at least a little bit every single day for about three weeks. Remember that? Yeah, well since then, not so much. Hot and dry. What little rain we've had has been just sun showers, a little sprinkle here and there. And only when I'm trying to cook on the grill. The grill appears to be key.
It rains all around us. We get clouds, the wind picks up a bit. We have even heard thunder and seen lightening. But no rain here. The grass is getting parched, the trees and thirsty and while I am faithfully watering my potted garden every day, it would appreciate a nice real rain too.
The weather report teases us. It taunts, it flirts, it gives us false promises and fickle reports of rain in the forecast. All of it lies. Unless I'm trying to cook dinner outside. And the rain waits until I actually have the grill heated up and the meat ready to go before the little pitter patter of raindrops begins. At that point I feel committed to the task and say, "What the heck" and go ahead and grill in the rain. Once I'm done, grill is turned off and dinner is ready to be served, like clockwork, it stops.
It's not as if we eat at the same time every day. It's very dependent on Tim's work schedule during the week. Sometimes we eat as early as 5:30, other days more like 6:30 or 7:00. On the weekends, anything goes. The timing of dinner revolves around what we are doing, where we are, and how we feel about food in general that day.
Yesterday, Father's Day, Tim requested burgers on the grill. A very reasonable request. (and my chocolate cake which is not cooked on the grill and therefore not part of this story). When it was time, I got the grill started and went back inside to prep corn on the cob, give the cole slaw a final stir, season the patties, and so forth. At that moment, the sun was shining brightly, there was a lovely tiny little gentle breeze and not a cloud in the sky. I swear to you!
I was fussed inside for a bit and then, meat patties on a platter in my left hand, spatula in my right hand, I stared to walk out the door and the sky opened up. The sun, I'd like to mention here, was still shining brightly. I sighed, narrowed my eyes, put on a hat and walked out into the rain and slapped those burgers on the grill anyway. We need the rain. I'm not complaining about that at all. It's the timing I have a few teensy issues with.
No matter. Dinner was served, I didn't melt in the rain, and everything looked refreshed afterwards. But it got me thinking. If it rains every time I try to grill, maybe I should be grilling more often. And making things that require a lot longer cooking hoping to elicit a lot longer of a rainstorm. And at more convenient times of day? Maybe that would work? Hmmmm
And then maybe I could help things along by and washing both cars. No wait, I will wash AND wax both cars. That will help. And I'll plan picnics. Picnics in the courtyard for every meal. Hey Better idea, Picnics on the BEACH! (farther away so more inconvenient if it rains) What other outside activity could rain ruin? It has to something that will make Mother Nature chortle with glee when she makes it rain and people run for cover and the event is a mess. Hmmm. An outside wedding ought to do it. But I currently don't know anyone who is hoping to get married in my backyard. Dang. Too Bad, that could be the thing that finally pushes this theory over the top.
I will get to work on this. I may be on to something. It's not exactly a rain dance, but it may be even stronger Juju. I"ll keep you apprised of the progress on this experiment.
I bet you are wondering what the deal is with this photo. Maybe this could be like a game show question, 'What is the relationship between these items'? But you would probably guess wrong. How could you possibly know, how could anyone ever guess that these are the items in my personal household toolbox?
It's not as if I own an actual toolbox. Tim does. It's enormous! Lots of drawers of all different sizes, and it's on wheels, it's metal and we keep it in the utility room. I think it's made by Craftsman. It's serious stuff. I rarely touch anything in it. When I'm painting and need to remove and later replace switch plates, I need a screwdriver. And once in a very long while, I'm called upon to saw something down outside which, of course, necessitates a saw. Otherwise no. That's Tim's toybox, not mine.
The contents of my toolbox, as it were, are spread around. The table knife of course, is kept in the silverware drawer with all it's fellows. The scissors live in the pencil jar on my "desk" and those blue and green rubber thingies (I honestly do not know what they are called - perhaps grippers?) are in a utility drawer in the kitchen with things like the egg slicer and potato masher. Everything is close at hand for when I need it.
My kitchen is essentially my office. I spend the vast majority of my day in there so most anything that I might require a tool for would most likely happen in the kitchen too. Makes sense to keep my "tools" in the kitchen, right?
Mostly I require tools to open various things. Despite what it says on any packaging, I have found remarkably few items that actually are "E-Z Open". After many years of attempting to wrestle packages open and consequently destroying my nails, the package, sometimes the product within the package and my good nature, I don't even try to open anything as per the "easy open" directions on package anymore.
I recently bought new toothbrushes for Tim and I. Generally every three to four months I buy new ones. Or after either of us has a cold, the flu, a respiratory infection. It just seems like a good idea. Toothbrushes aren't very expensive. But considering how difficult it is to open the doggone package, you would think that at the very least, the contents were made of platinum! I no longer struggle with those plastic boxes of impenetrability. I just cut them open and taadaa, done.
The package opening instructions do not involve the word "scissors" at all. The package opening instructions are wrong.
Laundry soap pods is another one. I understand that they are trying to prevent children from poisoning themselves. I get that. But what about the adult who is simply trying to do their laundry? I need to get that package open. There is some sort of complicated zip lock thing with a tear strip and the whispering of a secret pass word and well, honestly, I don't even know. I just cut it open below the Ziploc thingie and pour them into another large container that I keep on a shelf in the laundry room. Done.
The knife? Well that is for poptops primarily. . My sad little arthritic fingers cannot manage a poptop anymore. Cans of corn, cans of fruit all open with poptops now. Even the milk we buy has a poptop under the screwcap. I have found that if I put the top of the knife into the middle of that poptop and just lift with the knife handle, Taadaa! Open. Easy Peasy.
But the knife is also for opening a new jar of dried herbs or mayo or Advil. Once again under the screw cap is another barrier to mess with me. There is usually a very slippery bit of plastic or heavy duty paper that has tiny little tabs. Supposedly if I grasp one of those tiny little tabs and gently pull, that barrier will lift right off. Hah! First of all it's difficult even for my small fingers to get a good hold on that teensy little slippery tab. Secondly, it has never once, not ever, simply lifted off. No amount of tugging or swearing for that matter, will help. However, if I puncture the barrier with the knife first, I can peel the barrier away. Clever girl :)
New box of rice? I use the table knife at the perforation for a nice clean opening. Also works on brand new boxes of baking soda. The knife is also used to open boxes of cereal, crackers or poptarts. Instead of trying to pry it open with my fingers, I slip the table knife easily between the two pieces of cardboard and lift. So much better!
Knife also work to open a picture frame. You know how on the back there are those little metal bits that have to be lifted to remove the backing so you can replace the photograph? Table knife lifts those just fine and then works in reverse to press those buggers right back into place without any wear and tear on the fingers. If absolutely necessary, a table knife can also work as a flat head screwdriver too. Just sayin'
The blue and green rubber grippie thingies are for opening virtually anything else. Pickle jars? Yes! Spaghetti sauce in a jar? Yes! Solid air freshners require two of them, one at the top and one at the bottom but YES! Success! The rubber grippers work on new tubes of toothpaste, mouthwash and particularly stubborn jars of olives. Another multi-tasker!
Aggravating pretzel bags are opened with scissors and then the top is folded and held in place with a nice big clip. Same goes for cereal bags. Packages of cheese are cut open and then ziplocked closed. I just don't fuss about it any more. In short, anything that is suppose to pull or tear open? Scissors to the rescue.
As it turns out, I can open virtually anything in my kitchen that I could ever possibly need to open with any of those three items. Kind of proud of myself for working this out. Necessity, as it turns out, is solved by a mother.
Have a GREAT weekend! And please remember to celebrate all of the various Father's in your life!
Anyone besides me recall this shape from your school days? It's just a conical shape, like perhaps an upside down ice cream cone or maybe a witches hat without a brim.
A million or so years ago when dinosaur's walked the earth and I was in primary school, it was called a dunce cap. In one of the many school's I attended, in one particular classroom (I cannot speak to any of the other's as I was only with this one teacher there) if a student did something especially dumb, they were made to wear the dunce cap. Education by humiliation was the thought, I assume. By the way it doesn't work.
I had other teachers who simply mimed putting on an "invisible" conical cap, but they referred to it as a "thinking cap". As in, "Ok student, I'm going to pass out the tests now, so everyone needs to put on their thinking caps". This method of teaching also didn't really work. A person either knew the material or they didn't. An invisible paper conical cap was immaterial
The reason this came to mind was yesterday. When I was working at the museum, I was ON it. I knew the answers to every question asked, I came up with ideas, I was firing on all burners, I didn't stumble over any words, or trip over my feet! My supervisor there observed something I did and smiled hugely, "I cannot believe you remember that!" she said, impressed with me. Heck, I was impressed with me! I guess I was really wearing my thinking cap.
And then I woke up in the wee darkness of the night and sat bolt upright in bed. Dang it! I forgot to take out the garbage. So I heaved myself out of my nice comfy bed and into whichever pair of sandals I could find in the dark and dragged the garbage can to the curb. I'd like to point out that we have now lived in this house for two entire years and every single Sunday and Wednesday night I take out the garbage. Wouldn't you think I would remember? A dunce cap moment.
So in one day I got wear both the dunce cap and the thinking cap! How is it that a person can be both very smart and very stupid at the same time? I do it ALLLL the time.
I have in my lifetime given out some very good advice from now and again. And yet, I accidentally whack my knee on the dishwasher door while emptying it all of the time. I can be quite creative and clever in my baking but if something goes awry with my computer, I may as well be lost as sea. I can carry on a good conversation with almost anyone about almost anything but at the same time, recently, could not think of the word, "Fossil". I consider myself fairly well read, reasonably intelligent and decently education and yet when it comes to the game of Scrabble, I suck. There is no other way to describe it, except perhaps to say that I stink on ice.
So I suppose it's a normal thing someone to wear both a dunce cap and a thinking cap every moment of every day. If nothing else, it's a Sam-thing.
Well there was that time when we had unexpected company for dinner and I managed to whip up a very good meal for four people with what had been intended for two and nobody was the wiser. That day I wore my Sorcerer's Cap!
Wishing you a Sorcerer's Cap kind of day!
Sooooooo the news here is that, We Got Shingles in Da HouZZZ!!!!
Not this kind of shingles:
No of course not. That kind of shingles is a good thing. Keeps the house nice and dry and safe from rain and wind and anything else that might come down from the sky. Those are good shingles.
We have the bad kind of shingles in the house. And isn't it weird that they have the same name? Who comes up with these names? Anyway. Poor Tim.
Last Thursday during the day he noticed that the right side of his neck kind of hurt. He assumed that he had "slept wrong". It happens. Waking up with a stiff neck that hurts when you try to turn it is not unusual. He went about his day, thinking no more of it, assuming he would feel better on Friday.
Friday he felt worse. So he then assumes that he has done something to pull a muscle or pinch a nerve. And as the day went on, he continued to feel worse. He alternated applications of heat and cold with no improvement whatsoever. By Saturday he was wondering what on earth he had done and began googling symptoms. Doctor's hate it when we do it, but we all do. Relieved that there was nothing life-threatening as a possibility, he tried to just ignore it in a "life goes on" sort of way with varied results.
By Sunday he just settled in on the sofa, determined in his stoic way to gut it out, still applying alternate hot and cold packs, taking Advil and some left over pain medication from the last time he threw his back out. That allowed him to doze a bit here and there but otherwise, no improvement.
Monday he called the doctor's office. You KNOW things have to be bad if Tim calls the doc office. They made an appointment for him on Tuesday.
As we sat in the waiting room on Tuesday, I looked at his face and said curiously, 'Where did that rash come from?" He shrugged, "I don't know but it really hurts" I looked closer, "It almost looks like poison ivy or poison oak! That's weird. When did that start?" He shrugged very gently because shrugging, as it turns out, hurts, "Just before we left the house". I continued to watch him as before my very eyes the rash grew angrier and bigger and more widely spread.
The doctor also watched it with some degree of fascination. "Oh man, that's shingles!" he said with sympathy. "Have you ever had chicken pox?"
Now here is the oddest things. Neither Tim nor I recall ever having had chicken pox. It doesn't mean we didn't have it, just neither of us remember. Tim doesn't even remember if any of his siblings had it! My assumption there was that if one kid in a family has something contagious, odds are extremely good that all of them will have it. A family sharing plan, so to speak.
I remember very well all three of my boys suffering through it. Hurley brought it home from school one winter back in Connecticut. Oddly, while it was miserable, his was a relatively mild case. The incubation period was nearly over when Corbin showed signs of it and sure enough, there it was. Corbin's chicken pox was worse than his brother's but he suffered it without much complaint. Tough guy. It's hard to see your kids in pain but we made it nearly all the way through the incubation period one more time before the oldest boy woke up with it one morning. His case was not just the worst of the three boys, but it was also the worst case of chicken pox the doctor had ever seen! And once his chicken pox was finally nearly over, he ended up with mono. That was a long and difficult winter, my friends.
Endless games of Candyland and Go-Fish, reading stories, thinking up quiet activities, making comfort foods and fussing over them constantly in general. Applying cool compresses, doling out medication, doing tons of pajama laundry, changing sheets almost daily and not sleeping night after night after night. And after taking care of three children with chicken pox, I can guarantee that if I didn't contract it then, I either did have it as a child and just don't recall, or I have a natural immunity.
But back to Tim and the here and now. So the good doctor explained what shingles is and how it works and why it feels the way it feels and wrote a prescription that we are hopeful will at least minimize the amount of time he will continue to suffer. We know what to look out for by way of it worsening and promised faithfully to check in with the doc in two weeks time. Tim took the rest of yesterday off.
Today however, the rash looks as angry as ever, I'm sure it hurts just as badly as it did the day before, but he is back at his desk working and trying to distract himself from how he feels. He doesn't complain, because that's not what he does, but he is quieter than usual, less engaged, less playful. I can tell that he feels like absolute crap. Poor baby. And there is not much I can do to make him feel better. It's like my kids and their chicken pox all over again.
The funniest part, not funny ha-ha but funny odd, is that last week we received in the mail a letter from our pharmacy suggesting that we both get the shingles vaccination. Apparently this is something everyone over age 50 should do. It would have been too late to do it this year to prevent this outbreak for Tim regardless. Unbeknownst to us, the virus was already percolating in his system last week. BUT the doc says that by September we absolutely can have the shot.
It's already on my calendar.
Be forewarned good people. Shingles sucks. If you can avoid it, do.
We learn things throughout our lives. Every single day, we learn new things. Some times those things are disappointing. I do know this. Life is fraught with disappointment. Here is evidence of my latest new learned thing AND disappointment all rolled into one.
It's not of life altering importance. And in fact, it's not a big deal. But it was interesting because it was new to me and it was disappointing which was a surprise to me and worst of all, it involved jello.
I do not have a great history with jello. I am not a big fan. I don't actively dislike it, but it's not something I generally would choose to eat. Back in the days when I was growing up, jello was a Big Deal. In everyone's house that I knew, the Mom's made jello a lot. Even my mom who hated to cook and considered jello making an enormous investment of her time and effort. They mixed jello with cool whip. They layered different colours of jello. They put fruit in it. They put it in cakes. The chilled it in all sorts of differently shaped dishes (because it tastes different in different dishes?) Or, in our house, jello layered with ice cream, topped with cool whip and called a parfait. Fine dining for sure. All fine and good, I suppose. There is nothing really objectionable about jello, but whatever is done to it, it's still just jello.
BUT then the evil jello people arrived on the scene. People like my beloved Nana who showed her evil-ness by taking leftover vegetables, collected through the week, and shoved into green jello which was half chilled in a bundt pan. Then once fully set, turned upside down on a bad of innocent lettuce leaves and put in the middle of the dinner table for dinner with mayo filling the center hold. Yuck. Yuckity yuck. Disgusting. I have to say here that my Nana, who had very few flaws in my eyes, was probably the most frugal person I've ever met. When I said that she collected leftover vegetables through the week I mean if there were two peas left on your plate on Monday night and 3 lima beans on Tuesday night those showed up in that nasty green jello things she referred to as a jello salad.
Then there was the yellow jello from college. Yellow jello is fun to say. And that is the only nice thing I have to say about it. Because I worked full time while I was in college as a full time student, I was very short on time, all of the time. Therefore I rarely managed to eat at the university cafeteria which is a shame because when you pay room and board that includes a mealplan. So I was paying for a meal I almost never got to eat. On Sundays however, they only served one meal and it was mid-day. The meal (to my recollection - I could be misremembering) was always hot dogs (which I also dislike) and the desert was always jello and it was ALWAYS yellow! And the jello was always oddly chewy. Should jello be chewy?
So that is my jello history. I find it to be a bizarre almost-a-food. It's not inherently horrible, but it is light and sweet and if you buy the sugar free one (which I do) not the worst dessert in the world for anyone. So there was some in my pantry and yesterday I decided to make it. I was low on time and energy but knew that dessert of some sort would be anticipated by the other person in my household, you see? While I was stirring in the boiling water in, it occurred to me that I have seen ads of pretty little glistening cubes of jello in glass dishes and it's always so pretty. Ok I will try that.
It started out fine. I made it in a Teflon bread pan so it would be easier to lift out in the little squares. That part was fine. I put in a smidge less water than normal thinking the cubes would hold their shape better. That part always went fine. I ever so carefully cut the grid into the jelled raspberry stuff, also went A-OK.
I carefully lifted out each little cube and gently placed it into the goblet. And it looked absolutely fine until I put in a second and a third. Now it just looked like messy red jello in a goblet. They no longer looked like pretty red jiggly cubes. Dang!
Bah! I brought it to Tim and he contentedly ate it all. Afterwards I asked if he could tell that the jello was cut into cubes. He kind of blinked at me for a moment and said, " I'm sorry. Should I have?" No not really. Disappointing. Not his reaction, not that at all. It was the result of the experiment. The jello in Tim's goblet looked nothing like the photos I've seen in magazines. They were not pretty little cubes at all.
It's most likely operator error. I find that to usually be the case when anything go awry. No big deal, no one was injured in the making of that jello and dessert was still served and the world continued to turn.
But I may not make jello again for awhile. Just by way of a very passive act of rebellion.
That's me, rebel without a proper jello cube.
We subscribe to two newspapers. The Herald (the one on the left) is a daily newspaper. It's mostly the big stuff. International, National and State level stuff. The Gondolier Sun (the one on the right) is a twice weekly paper; Wednesday and Saturday. It's just local news. Rarely is there any story in there that takes place more than a half hour drive from here.
They both serve an important purpose in keeping us informed. Well semi-informed. Sadly there are no news media of any sort anymore that just stick to the facts. BUT I suppose that anyone that cares to apply some common sense to anything they hear or read can sort most of that out, yes?
I suppose the question is, why do I read the newspapers? And even more, why do I read two of them?
I'll start with the Herald, the Big News newspaper.
I look forward to the Big News partly just because it's a daily newspaper. It arrives, almost without fail, every single morning! On the rare occasion that the newspaper is not out there waiting for me at the end of the driveway, my entire day feels wrong. I look forward to reading somebody's version of everything BIG that is going on all over the world. This morning the biggest of the Big News is the Singapore Summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un. Ok that's a little scary, true, but it's also important to know that it's happening.
I see that there is also a front page article about pensions (do those still even exist?) and a Florida prison health contract. So you see, in just one quick scan I learned three important things. One international, one national and one state. Stuff I need to know to stay current, to be a good global citizen, to be a participating member of our society. So I read the A section. Then just about the time that I'm thoroughly depressed I move on to the next section of the paper.
Today, section B is the sports section which I always completely ignore. My apologies, but I just do not follow sports. There are so many things that I am truly interested in. Probably 90% of everything in the universe interests me. Just not sports.
So I quickly move on to the next section which they call "local" news. But unless there is a major catastrophe or discovery in my vicinity, the only geographical area that they ever write about in the BIG newspaper is the Sarasota area which is about a half hour north of us. Not all that local. But I read that part anyway. If nothing else, for the weather report.
Then there is the Business section, which may have an article or two that is of at least mild interest. The best part of the Business section is that the "funnies" are in that part. And I find that fact hysterical. The comics are in the business section! LOLOLOL!!! How appropriate :) Dilbert would agree. It's also where the Dear Abby segment is, the horoscopes, Puzzles, a health article each day and some chess thing. I don't read the chess thing or do the puzzles but occasionally I read the health article. I always read Dear Abby. Sometimes it's funnier than the comics. And on Very rare occasions I confess that I do read my horoscope. (which is also Tim's) I don't believe in it one single bit, but sometimes I read it anyway. I always read the comics. Even when they aren't funny at all.
One of the best parts of the Big newspaper are the extra sections. On Mondays, there is an extra section about business. They call it, Business Weekly. Another day it's all about travel. On different days the extra bit could be on area Real Estate, on Cooking (one of my favourites) or Decorationg (second favorite). Every once in awhile, there is a section about fashion. I like that one too.
Clearly I can spend a great dal of time reading the daily newspaper. But I spread it out through the day. First of all I am a fast reader. Most articles I can just skim or scan through and get the gist of it. Occasionally there is something worth actually sitting down and reading every word, but usually a scan is sufficient. And I can do that while I'm waiting for water to come to a boil, or the kitchen floor to dry, or the washer to finish so I can transfer the items to the dryer. You get the idea.
Now the local paper, The Venice Gondolier Sun, is a serious treat. First of all, there is an astonishing amount of local actual pertinent to our lives news in it. And they do not hold back. I'm such a nosybones that my favourite part is the police report. So salicious! They actually write in detail about the goings on. Mercy! It's like a very short soap opera! It's gossipy and appalling but the absolute truth is, that is the first part of the local news that I read, every single time. Shame on me!
But the local paper also tells you every activity and event that is happening in the area so there is no reason to ever complain that you have nothing to do because there is always something going on. Very informative.
Bonus points, they also have a comics section (hurrah!) and terrific ads and coupons.
When we travel, I love to buy a copy of the local newspaper. I don't know any of the people they are writing about, or the places for that matter. I don't frequent any of the local stores and I probably won't be attending So and So's 50th wedding anniversary. The fact that there is a terrific buy one get one sale on watermelons this week at their grocery store doesn't really apply to me. But I love reading about it. I get a real feel for a community from reading their local newspaper.
So there you have it. I have a serious newspaper addiction. And I don't plan on doing anything about it either. Unless it's continuing to read both of our newspapers.
I am so serous about my newspaper habit that if we are away and the newspapers have piled up during our absence, I still read them, after the fact, in order!
I think I may have a real problem!
A million or so years ago, when I was much younger and I had some piano students, I never instructed them to practice for a specific period of time, much to the chagrin of their parents. Instead I assigned them to practice each part of their lesson a particular number of times each day. For example, I might say, "Play each of your finger excercises five times with just your left hand and seven times with your right hand and then three times with both hands together. And then play this section of the song twelve times very slowly and then 5 times very fast. Then play the entire song twice. Then play the last half six times." At the next lesson I would, or course, switch things around. It's a matter of fooling their perception of time.
It was more interesting to the kids, less onerous, more fun and bonus points, drove the kids parents crazy! They still learned and more importantly, they enjoyed learning. That is one of the biggest hurdles to climb to get anyone interested in doing something that, at least at the beginning, feels more like work than pleasure.
I honestly believe that is one of the mistakes that schools make immediately. They make learning a miserable experience. If learning were more interesting, more exciting, more engaging, kids would be more inclined to dive in. And that goes twice for reading!! Why force them to read books that most people would rather eat lima beans than waste their eyesight on when there are so many really good books out there? It's a mystery to me.
But I digress.
Coming up with that idea for the piano kids not having a specific period of time to practice each day thing is a result of what I've learned about myself. I often have to trick myself into doing things that are good for me, but I really don't want to do.
I enjoy walking. I know that's exercise technically, but for me it's also my primary form of transportation AND entertainment. But I mean real exercise. I take Mat Pilates classes twice a week and I go to the gym with Tim once a week, but two other days I just exercise at home. And I have to force myself to do it. I figured out a long time ago that instead of doing, say twenty planks, I do ten, counting one , two, three, four etc. And then I do ten more but counting backwards, 10, 9, 8, 7 etc. It's the same number in the end but it felt like less. I fall for it every single time. I can do ten of anything. Except chin-ups. I just dangle like a Christmas ornament when I try to do chin-ups . But for everything else, ten is the magic number. I can fool my own perception and end up accomplishing more.
Any big task that seems overwhelming, I tackle with my total focus on just the one thing I am doing that moment. I don't think about how many other steps lay before me. Just that one. Years ago I read a book by Anne Lamott called, "Bird by Bird". The reference was to her young son choosing to write a report on the Audubon Society. His mother, concerned that her son had taken on too big a project for the time period allotted asked him how he planned to do this. His answer was that he would tackle it bird by bird. I love that and have thought of so many times.
The day after Thanksgiving when I begin my annual cookie baking marathon, which I love doing, I could allow myself to be overwhelmed by the idea of churning out 15 or so different kinds of cookies in three days. OR I could start with one kind of cookie, finish it and then move on to the next one. Which is what I do. And it works, every time.
Another weird perception that I have is for some reason, is strictly a time-thing. And that magic number is 25. If we are going somewhere and Tim says, at some point, that we are twenty minutes away, that feels like nothing. If, however, he says that it's twenty-five minutes away, that feels like forever! It's five minutes different!!! And yet, in my bizarre-brain, those five minutes may as well be an hour. Obviously, I have a strange perception of time. We often take road trips and I enjoy them enormously. Just don't ever tell me that something is 25 minutes out. I stop enjoying myself and start feeling like a five year old strapped, unwillingly into a car seat, with tummy rumbles of hunger, nothing to do and a desperate need to pee.
I can't be the only person who does this. When we lived in Connecticut, our home was in a town called Mansfield Center. A charming, once rural, historic place with lovely old homes, loads of trees and an astounding number of ponds. In fact, the original name was the town was "Pond Place". There were two main North/South roads roughly flanking the town. The one on the west side of town was Stafford Rd, the other on the east side was Storrs Rd. We lived on Storrs Rd. If a person wanted to drive from Storrs Rd to Stafford Rd it was a matter about 10 - 15 minutes depending on weather, traffic and the number of errant escapee cows one might come upon along the way. AND YET, I heard people say all the time things like, "Yes I'd go to the tearoom but it's on the complete other side of town!" As if they had to hike across the desert to get there. Crazy! Again, perception.
When I work at the museum, as long as I'm busy with guests, or tidying, or restocking, or whatever project they have assigned me, the time flies by. An hour feels like five minutes. But if nobody comes through the door and the phone doesn't ring, and everything is clean, and no shelves are empty and I (gasp!) forgot to bring a book to read in the down time, then five minutes feels like an hour. Once again, perception.
Do you remember that old joke about how long a minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you are on? Not really a joke. Or at least no laughing matter.
Well, I know I have lots to do today and I'm sure you do too. As per usual, there is never enough time in which to get it all done. I guess I'll just jump in, get started, focus on one thing at a time, bird by bird and get it done. And as long as it's not a 25 minute window, I'm sure it will be fine.
I'll time myself.
You see before you a sock. One single white sock. Just one. It's entirely my fault, I jinxed myself. A few months back I wrote in a blog about...something, I don't recall...but it was pertinent to the topic at hand that day, the fact that I had never lost a sock in a washer or dryer before. See? My fault. I taunted the laundry gods. This week, it finally happened. After all these many years, after all those thousands of loads of laundry that I've done in those years, I lost a sock.
It was one of my favourite socks, naturally.
As you may recall, I walk a lot. If I'm just walking to the library, or into town, or the post office, I just wear my sandals. It's only a half mile walk. Literally a matter of a few blocks. My feet can handle non-walking-specific shoes just fine for a brief sojurn. But when I'm doing a bigger walk, say a couple of miles or longer, because I only will have one pair of feet in my lifetime and so I want to take proper care of them, I wear sneakers. Or tennis shoes. Or athletic wear shoes. Or whatever you choose to call them. And while it's fine to wear sneakers with no socks in Colorado, a very dry place, it's bad idea here in Florida, especially this time of year, when humidity rules the day. Friction plus moisture equals blisters. Learned that pretty early on. Solved easily by the wearing of socks.
Now a weird thing (surprise) about me and socks is that those cute little low cut sneaker socks slip off my heels when I'm walking. I hate that. The heel droops lower and lower until ultimately it's under my heel and feels like I'm walking on rocks. So I have to stop and untie my shoe, snake a finger into my shoe, snag the back of the sock, haul it back up where it belongs, retie the shoe before continuing. Over and over, lather, rinse and repeat.
So up until recently I mostly wore ankle socks. Those babies aren't going anywhere. But as far as looks, they score pretty high on the dork-0-meter. And I knew it. But, the only other options open to me were slipping socks or blisters. Neither one is acceptable. And then I unexpectedly found these other socks. In the grocery store of all places! These socks are low, like they are supposed to be, EXCEPT in the heel where they are just higher enough that they stay put when I'm walking! Colour me happy!
So I've been wearing these new socks (they came in a pack of three, one white, one grey and one pink) exclusively when I'm walking. And now the washer or dryer, I'm not certain who the culprit is, has eaten one. The Colossal nerve!
How could this have happened? Oh this sock is not just temporarily misplaced, it is absolutely gone. That day I did all of the laundry. Every single basket of dirty clothes that day was washed, dried, folded, ironed, hung up and put away. So it's not as if one sock accidentally fell into the wrong basket and will turn up later with a load of towel or something!
Perhaps I should take a moment to explain my laundry basket thing. And it's a thing. I am particular about laundry but I don't bother with a hamper. At the end of the day, when we get ready for bed, we throw our dirty clothes on the floor by the bureau. The next morning, I scoop it all up and take it to the laundry room, separate the clothes and put them into their proper dirty clothes basket. Whites, darks, delicates and then a general one for sheets, towels, dirty pot holders etc. This works for me. I never ever shove things willy nilly into the washer. Or the dryer for that matter. Some things don't go into the dryer. They get hung up to dry and then for a few hours there are damp things draped over every chair in the house. Delicates get washed on the delicate cycle in cold water with special detergent specifically for delicates. Whites get hot water and a little bleach. That's how they stay white. And so forth.
But ALL of the laundry was done that day. Still one missing sock.
I looked behind the machines. No sock. I got a flashlight and lay down on my belly peering under the machines, no sock. I went back to the point of origin and looked under the bureau and under the bed. No sock. Just because I was already on the floor I looked under everything else in the bedroom. Still no sock. I retraced my steps from bedroom to laundry room. Zero sock.
I have no idea where on earth it could be. An alternate dimension perhaps? I get the mystery now. It is kind of frustrating. Everything is somewhere. There must be a logical answer that I just haven't yet considered. Maybe it will turn up in the refrigerator or something. (when all logical solutions have failed, I must consider illogical ones, right)?
In the meantime, I will be heading back to the grocery store for another set of those nifty socks with the taller heel. Missing sock be damned. I'm not going back to wearing ankle socks for anybody. Maybe I'll buy two sets, just in case.
How is this for an example of Synergy? If you aren't quite sure what the photo is of I will explain. Somehow a palm tree and a ficus were planted too close together. Eventually the ficus surrounded the palm tree and yet they are still growing, still healthy, and even stronger then they would be alone.
Palm trees have very shallow routes, the Ficus roots more deeply. Palm trees do very well in sandy "soil" ( and I use that term loosely), the Ficus only so-so. The Ficus is a more limber, more flexible tree that can be whipped around madly in a hard wind. The palm is a little more rigid with a straighter, stronger core. Together they are something special.
I think any really good relationship should be like that. Separately, two very awesome individuals who can survive perfectly well on their own. Each of them has an identify of their own, interests, preferences, strengths and weaknesses. Together, a strong, healthy long-lasting relationship should still have two separate individuals who are stronger and more interesting, but still with their own identities, their own interests and preferences. In the very best relationships, the strengths get stronger and the weaknesses get shored up.
My Nana would illustrate this with her hands. The two individuals would be her two separate hands, palm up, fingers spread wide. The fingers are the strengths the space between the fingers are the weaknesses. Then she would lace her fingers together, that's the union of the two people. Together, they fill the gaps. Together they are a unit, stronger and more solid. I'm a visual person, so I really like that memory. And I like this photograph.
Nearly every day, at some point, I walk past this synergistic pair of trees that have become, essentially one tree, a better tree. And everytime I see it, I smile.
And that is not a bad thing at all.
Pop Quiz! How many of you could fill in this map without looking up any of the answers? Are you certain you can spell the state names correctly? How about the abbreviations? The Capital Cities? I hear moans and groans coming from the audience. "Hey Lady! I haven't had to do this since 4th grade geography class! Give me a break!" I get it.
One of my ESL students wants to learn all of the states, all of their abbreviations and their capitals. This is not just learning English. She wants to learn America. And America ain't easy!
As a kid, my family criss-crossed this country many times by car. And back then we used maps. Real paper maps. The ones that are tricky to re-fold once opened. The ones that were so huge they took up the entire front seat of the car when they were unfolded. One side of the map was the map of the state you were currently in and the other side were blow ups of major cities with street names and important places labeled. The detail was incredible. There were routes and alternate routes and even more alternate routes than that! All bodies of water and mountains, no matter how large or small were on the map and once I got the hang of what all of the little coloured lines meant, easy peasy to follow. I loved being map girl.
I enjoyed following along as the car cruised down the highway, reading the names of surrounding towns. It was a hoot to find funny names, hard-to-pronounce names, interesting names or sometimes our names along the way. I still get a kick out of driving through a new town and seeing Tim's Car Care or Sam's Bar & Grill as we pass by.
By the time I was a grown adult, I probably knew my way around this country better than most people because I had actually been in most of the states. I could visualize what the cities looked like and there they were in relation to other cities or states. I knew that Montana was north and New Mexico was South West, that New Hampshire was the one on the right and Vermont the one on the left as you drive from Connecticut to Maine. I knew that it took forever to drive across Texas laterally and Arizona had a whole lot of nothing in it and Kansas and Nebraska were mostly corn and wheat fields broken up with the occasional cow. I knew what it was like to drive across the flat desert seeing the mountains in the distance for what felt like eternity and then the exhilarating terror driving through those mountains. I knew all of that and more. But I'm still finding that occasionally I have to check to be sure that I am remembering correctly.
And now I'm working with someone who is struggling but determined and I am so impressed by her. Quickly, how many "N's" in Pennsylvania or "S's" in Mississippi and Tennessee? She was baffled that Mississippi was not just a state but also a river. Spelling Ohio was a treat after Connecticut and Massachusetts. But she wondered why Wyoming starts with a "W" and not a "Y"? And why on earth is Rhode Island not an actual Island? How come Michigan is in two separate parts but still one state? Good questions! Sometimes I knew the answer, sometimes I didn't. And when I didn't, we looked it up and now we both know.
Do you know all of the state abbreviations? They can be tricky, especially the "M's". MI equals Michigan but Mississippi is MS and Missouri is MO (that was was really hard for her to remember), MA is Massachusetts - that's not so bad. MT is Montana and ME is Maine, okay take a breath. That is a lot of "M's" to remember.
And then there are the capital cities. I get turned around on those sometimes myself. Often the largest and therefore more familiar city name is NOT the capital so I have to question myself before I try to teach her incorrectly. For instance, I know perfectly well that the capital city of Louisiana is Baton Rouge but I always want to say that it's New Orleans. I know it's not true, but that is the first city in LA that comes to my mind, every time. And then too I often get mixed up on the capitals of North and South Dakota. I can never remember which capital belongs to which Dakota; Pierre and Bismarck.
I know that Massachusetts means "Large Hill Place" it being an Algonquin word and that Tennessee means either "Meeting Place" or "Winding River" and it's origins are either Cherokee or Yuchi. I remembered that the Carolinas were named in 1729 to honor Charles IX of France and Charles I and II of England (Carolina being the feminine form of Charles). I knew that Florida was named by Ponce de Leon "Las Floridas" meaning "The Flowers" for the abundance of them that he found here. But I didn't remember that Nevada was the Spanish word for "snow covered" in reference to the Sierra Nevada mountains or that Iowa was named after the local Native American tribe "Ayuxwa". So my student and I are learning together.
It's honestly a little embarrassing to not know the answer to questions asked about my own country. Especially since, relatively speaking, we are a young country with again, a relatively brief history. But it's also a very big country. There is a lot to know.
So my student is learning for the first time and I am getting a refresher course. I've always believed that the best way to learn is to teach. Turns out I was right.
I love being right.
This past Friday, June 1st, was National Donut Day! What a glorious Day! I would have done this post on Friday so as to be more timely, but we didn't actually get around to celebrating it until the next day.
But celebrate we did! And we didn't go to Dunkin' Donuts, for all that Tim really likes their coffee. And we didn't pick up Entemann's at the grocery store, although I do have a fondness for their chocolate covered ones as long as they are really cold (I don't know why but I only like them right outta the fridge). And sadly, they weren't home made either.
Here in Venice we have a place called Yummies. And it is one of the best donut shops ever created on this planet. Period. They make every donut fresh and on site. Right there you have a novelty. They aren't made elsewhere and shipped in. They aren't packed with preservatives and artificial weird stuff that ultimately, I'm certain, is not good for us. Just all the really bad-for-you in a normal way stuff like sugar and fat. Yummmmm What an aptly named shop!
They also have an item called the "Sticky Pig". They have a smoker out front in the parking lot which smelled way too good as it was cookin' up something which ultimately goes between the sliced halves of a glazed cinnamon roll donut Oh my gracious! Decadence beyond measure. I've never actually had it but the mere idea of it sends me into raptures.
The reason I make such a big deal about this is that I am afraid that the youngest generation here has no idea what a real donut tastes like anymore. It's nigh on to impossible to find a real fresh donut these days! And I find that ridiculous and more than a little shocking. Did you know that Dunkin' Donuts does not make their donuts on site anymore? I was shocked! They are too busy making specialty breakfast sandwiches and fancy-arsed coffees theses days. Ahem. The name is Dunkin' Donuts people, not Dunkin' Fancy-Arsed Coffee! Geez.
Now Krispy Kreme does make them in-house. Sadly, I don't much care for them. The first time I ever had one was in Colorado. I had as much fun as all the kids in the store watching the donuts go through the machinery. First as just raw dough all the way through the fryer and the waterfall of icing to the trays to the display case where they sit like glistening little jewels. But, to my surprise, as Tim and I waited in the Very Long Line, a staff member came by and handed us each a free donut! A still hot out of the fryer glazed donut. It literally melted in my mouth. How Very Nice! But, but, but, I only just wanted the one. Seriously. My plan was to order one glazed donut. And now I've had it. And it was free! But we couldn't just leave, I would feel way too guilty. So we ordered several other donuts and took them home intending to eat them later, perhaps for breakfast the next day. Turns out, to us anyway, they only taste good hot and fresh. Once they cooled off the taste was meh and they sat in our bellies like lead sinkers. Bah.
I suspect that the entire donut experience in general for me was ruined by my Nana. She made donuts. Fresh, hot home-made donuts and oh my goodness they were so good. She made them on a fairly regular basis too so to me it was a perfectly normal thing to have. Once grown, Nana kindly shared her recipe with me and then I started making donuts. With a house full of rambunctious boys and their friends there was no danger in having home made goodies all of the time in the house. I rarely actually got to taste any of them. I baked something nearly ever day back then. Desserts? Sure. Breads of various kinds? Absolutely. Muffins, Pastries and donuts? Of course!
I bake a lot less anymore. There are far fewer people coming through our doors on a regular basis and the ones who do, like us, are watching their weight, their cholesterol, their gluten, their sugar...…. I haven't made donuts since we lived here. But every once in a long while, we just get that craving. Gotta Hava Donut!! And then we head to yummies where the worst part of the visit is deciding WHICH donut to have! And then of course, working the extra calories off afterwards.
Totally worth it.
Well it's official now people. I am old. My Medicare Card arrived in the mail today. I am honestly a little bummed.
Not by the Medicare Program itself, no, that could be a good thing. And honestly, I paid into it my entire working life so it's about time I saw a return on that investment. (grumblegrumble). But just knowing that next month I can actually USE this Medicare Card makes me feel a little like Methuselah. The words sound weird coming out of my mouth. "I have a Medicare Card". When I make the appointment for my upcoming mammogram and they ask about my insurance I have to say, "Medicare". Yowza!
Ours is a culture that doesn't just celebrate youth, it practically deifies it. Plastic surgery to look younger; creams, lotions and treatments for younger looking skin; 60 is the new 40 the headline proclaims; the penultimate compliment is to appear to look younger than you are. Being young, or at least being mistaken for being young, is the goal. Anything less and you get the big ignore. Being old is like being invisible.
I have thought that I was old other times in my life. And then I was wrong. Those were not the times. This is.
I thought I was old when I got my first "ma'am". Ouch! My head snapped up and I gave that kid such a glare! Which he didn't deserve. He called it as he saw it. And a harried 26 year old, juggling 3 kids under the age of 4, a diaper bag and a purse, a grocery cart with a wonky wheel and a Zero budget for fashion or beauty is definitely a ma'am. Even I get it now. That day, back then, it was an emotional blow to the ego. But I wasn't actually old then.
I thought I was old when my oldest boy became a teenager. There is nothing that quite matches the look of disdain on the face of a freshly hatched 13 year old when their mother tells them to do something they do not want to do. I adored all of my childen, always. Every moment of every day from the instant they were born, they were the bright and shining lights of my life. And we had beautiful relationships, meaningful, strong, respectful and even fun. Until the day they became teenagers and I got "that" look. You know the one. It says, "You are old and stupid" to their parents. My boys were always polite and respectful. They never once actually said the words out loud, but we knew each other so well that I could read it in their eyes. Their teen years actually went far more smoothly than most so I don' have actual complaints, but it was the beginning of the divide from being my children to being individuals separate from me. And while we always continued to love each other through it all, I began to feel really old. But I wasn't actually old then.
I thought I was old as each boy graduated from high school. The were so close in age that it almost felt like it happened all at the same time. They stepped out into the real world, ready to make their way and no longer needed me in their lives. The fact that they still wanted me in their lives was a wonderful bonus, but honestly they didn't require me. They could now vote, make large purchases, all decisions and join the military if they wished. They could have gotten married, had medical treatment without my knowledge and live on their own, paying their own bills, making their own decisions and living their lives. The house got emptier and emptier and I felt older and older. But I wasn't actually old then .
I thought I was old the year I turned 50. I walked around for days in a daze saying, "Oh my God, I'm a half a century!" No other birthday ever bothered me before or since. But the 50th, yeah, that one was rough. And that doggone AARP sending me monthly cheery, chirrupy little notices, suggesting that I join, with a card already attached by the way to make it easier for an old, creaky, helpless, worthless woman such as myself. The fact that they included literature with photos of deliriously happy, white and silver haired, wrinkled coots playing golf didn't help one damned bit either. By the way, they still send me monthly literature and I still haven't joined. Anything from AARP goes, unopened, right in the trash. I might be missing out on some fabulous deals and information but I refuse to have anything to do with them. I'm sure my resistance goes right back to that awful 50th birthday and yet, that's what I do. And still I wasn't actually old then.
When they boys married I felt old. I was now not just somebody's mother, I was somebody else's Mother-in-law and mother-in-law sounds way older than mother. They were beautiful, joyous occasions and I adore all 3 of my daughters-in-law but it was another step forward into feeling elderly. Thought I actually wasn't old yet.
This year however, this year I will turn 65. This time, even the Federal Government has declared me old. So now I suppose it's for real. This upcoming birthday doesn't bother me a bit. I don't actually feel any older right now than I did when I was 50 or 40 or 30 for that matter. I just feel like me. Ok wait, I take that back. I do feel different. I feel stronger, wiser and far more confident than I have at any other point in my life.
So I guess maybe, this getting old thing isn't all that bad. I'm in good health, fairly good physical shape and the brain is still sharp enough that I am confident that I could answer all the question on the mental competency test correctly (whew!) My life is busy and happily so, I have friends and family whom I love and who love me back. There are so many things that interest me, things like experimenting with cooking and baking and pilates and ESL teaching and photography and writing and reading and the museum to fill my days. I think it's all going to be ok.
So I'll leave it at this, I may now be officially Federally mandated old, but I am happy and healthy and as long as it stays that way, I think I will do "old" just fine. And if the youngsters want to ignore me or disregard me or think that I no longer serve a purpose in this world, well I'm old enough now to know that one day, someone will treat them they same way. Hah! Full Circle baby. It always comes back to bite ya.
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.