The Garden That Almost Wasn’t

Last year the Crankee Yankee (my husband) and I tried our hands at having a garden. When we first started talking about it, he said that the front yard would be the perfect place for it as it gets the most sun.

I said, “Are you nuts?! A garden in the FRONT YARD? That will look ridiculous!” He just smiled at me. I asked why he wouldn’t consider using the back yard, and he said that since there is so little sun back there, what would be the point? Well, I had to give him that one. So I grumbled off and hoped that he wouldn’t actually go through with it.

A few days later, I came home from work to find that half the front yard was dug up, and it looked like hell. I realized that nothing would stop him from going ahead with this latest project, so I quietly (well, more or less) stewed about it on my own. Over the next week, I watched first in scorn, then surprise, and then downright awe as the Crankee Yankee created four beautiful raised beds, each one bordered in pine boards. He put crushed stone between the beds to facilitate easy watering, and it began to look like an English garden. We already had a crushed stone walkway from the steps to the street bordered in wood, so the garden beds fit right in.

That year we only planted potatoes and mint, and put in a large deep pink peony plant. We were over the moon when we harvested 31 highly edible potatoes, and we enjoyed the mint in iced tea and tabooleh salad.

This year, a little crazed with success from the year before, we went full throttle. In one raised bed we planted peas, tomatoes, rhubarb, chives, and bordered it and the other three beds with bright golden marigolds. In another bed, we put in purple and golden beets, more peas, lettuce and mint. In the third bed, we put in more beets, more mint, garlic, brussells sprouts, radishes and tomatoes. We noticed that two potato plants had survived from the year before, too. In the last bed, We scattered wild flower seeds, and, along with the inevitable crab grass, we now have glorious pink, white and blue flowers. We planted another peony, this one pale pink, on the other side of the steps, and planted a few more mint and garlic plants. Other gardening neighbors kindly gave us some of their excess tomato and onion plants, so we popped them in as well. We planted small pots of sage, oregano, basil, rosemary and arugula, as well as rye grass for the cats to chew on.

Well–we are now enjoying what can only be called a bumper crop of fresh produce. The radishes (not my favorite, to be honest), were crisp and peppery, the garlic scapes and chives are delicious, and I have made pesto with them and some basil–along with some garlic and olive oil, it is divine on hot pasta! The tomatoes–Big Boys, plum and cherry; are already ripening into red, and we are able to pick bowls of fresh peas each morning. I pulled up two beets, and behold and lo–real honest-to-goodness BEETS!! Amazing!

I have gone to the Crankee Yankee, proverbial hat in hand, and apologized for my lack of faith and foresight. Ya know, when he’s right, he’s right. The front yard garden is a HUGE success, and next year we are going to add four more beds on the other side. I even enjoy weeding. It’s somehow very zen-like and theraputic–almost like plucking out all the crazy that creeps into my head. Each weed I pull means another worry, another fear, another doubt–is gone. Of course, like weeds, they’ll no doubt be back, but you see the beneficial side of what could otherwise have been a dull chore.

Something very funny happened to me about a week ago. I had just pulled into the driveway after a long day at work (and a long commute; 72.5 miles one-way), and the Crankee Yankee was no where to be seen. There was a pretty and perky young woman standing on our stairs knocking at the door. She brightened up when she saw me, and trotted over to my car. As you might expect, I was tired and only wanted to get in the house, kiss my husband and the cats, get a drink and sit down.

But I mustered up a smile and said hello. I noticed that she was wearing a shirt with a popular lawn care logo on it. She asked brightly if we would like to sign up for lawn care service. I looked into those big blue eyes and said, “Miss, did you happen to notice the garden as you came up the stairs?”

“Why, yes, I did! It looks great!” She said.

I said, “So, does it look like we need lawn care since we really don’t HAVE a lawn?” She faltered a bit, but kept smiling gamely.

“Well, how about the back yard?” she beamed.

I told her that she was welcome to go back there and view what I fondly call the Crankee Yankee’s Hell Hole. From right to left as you look down from our back porch (another wonderful addition, courtesy of the C.Y.), you will see a red truck cap up on blocks, under which the neighborhood cats and skunks like to snooze). Up against that are several old tires, stacked one on top of the other, one of three wheelbarrows and some saw horses. Beyond that is a hill of very tall weeds and orange day lilies. To the left of that is a very nice stone wall that the C.Y’s brother made. Beyond that is a wooden feeder the C.Y. put up for the squirrels and birds, and to the left of that is our woodpile and cement block *fire pit. Curling around back toward the house is a another dirt pile full of weeds and more lilies. Two big trenches are dug from the stone wall back to the cellar door (under the porch); these will eventually be filled with crushed stone as a french drain. So, no–not what you’d call an area meant for a lawn. That finally killed the deal for lawn care service.

Since we are still such rookies at gardening, we are completely gobstruck that we have produce at all. I feel the same way about this as I do about trying out a new recipe. I follow the directions, use the correct ingredients, etc. and BINGO! The dish comes out looking and tasting exactly the way it should! The same with our plants–put in pea seeds, you get PEAS. Plant beet seeds, and bang–BEETS. And so on. It is positively thrilling to eat fresh peas and tomatoes right out of the garden. Who knew this could be so much fun?

And the Crankee Yankee, good man that he is, doesn’t hold it against me that I pooh-poohed his idea in the first place. Which of course means I owe him big time. But isn’t that just how a relationship goes, whether it be husband and wife or plants and dirt? You give a little, you get a little; sometimes a lot. You pull up the weeds, whether crabgrass or resentment, and the good things have room to spread out and flourish. If you’ve planned and tended well, you will get at least some good produce in return.

It seems we got lucky, in more ways than one.

*The fire pit doubles as our “shredder”: all papers with any kind of personal information are burned up as trash. Once we have a big enough pile to burn, it’s a good excuse to have “trash fire” hot dogs.

 

 

 

 

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A Nice Lady

After work today I stopped at a popular discount store to pick up a few things. As I waited in line to pay up, there was a man and his little girl, about age 4, in front of me. The cashier waiting on them was a nice older (older than ME, that is) woman, who was talking cutely to the little girl. The little girl beamed up at her, and as she and her dad walked away, she said to her father, “That was a nice lady.” And to a little girl, she was indeed a very nice lady.

I put my few items on the conveyor belt and prepared to pay. The nice older woman flashed a big smile at me and asked, “Well, how are you, sweetie?” I sighed inwardly. It had been a long and frustrating day and I just wanted to pay for my things, and go home. But I smiled at her and said, “I’m just fine, thank you, and you?” She gave me a big smile and assured me that she was just as fine as she could be. Great–all pleasantries done and done.

When everything was totaled up, I asked if I could use my debit card for credit, and she grinned and said “Sure! Just go WHOOOP! with your card and select Other.”

‘WHOOOP?’ I remember her saying that to the little girl ahead of me when her dad let her use his card. I just smiled and WHOOOPED. Then she merrily walked me through the rest of the steps. When she printed the receipt for me, it obviously was at the end of the roll; it was striped with pink. She giggled and said, “Ooooh! You get the candy-striped receipt! You must be SPECIAL!!!” I gamely smiled and thanked her, gathered up my things and left before I came down with diabetes.

Look, I have been in customer service and it’s no picnic. I remember well how I had to arm myself mentally to deal kindly and patiently with people even when they were screaming at me. I’ve also been on the other end of customer service and been frustrated and angered when getting someone on the other end who obviously could care less about helping me. So, when faced with a dear old thing like this lady, what can I do but admire her unique way of dealing with her customers?

When I was a lot younger and a LOT more arrogant, I would have been fresh and insolent to a woman like this. I would have missed her obvious effort to be kind in the face of what has to be one of the most thankless jobs under the sun. This woman had to have been close to 70 (but at 63, I’m not all that far away from 70 myself!), she must have been on her feet all day, and who knows what her circumstances must be? All the way home I wondered about her. Was she alone? Was she caring for an elderly parent? Did she have her children and possibly grandchildren living with her? Was she having a hard time making ends meet and had to take whatever job she could to get by? Or was she just lonely for human contact and perhaps really loved working with people?

Well, I’ll tell you–I walked into my house with a great deal more humility and gratitude than when I left in the morning. I wished I had played along with her about that stupid pink and white striped receipt–what would it have hurt to do so? I wished I had the sense to see the greatness of spirit in this woman. How many opportunities have I missed by letting my own ego get in the way of my better self?

In other posts I’ve mentioned “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. The last two agreements are “Don’t make assumptions,” and “Always do your best.” Today I made an assumption that this woman was silly and frivolous, and I did not do my best. I’m not proud of this, but I did learn something important–grace and kindness come in unexpected packages. We miss so much by being in our own heads and letting ourselves be consumed with our own cares.

Lesson learned: next time I’ll be genuinely thrilled to get that pink and white striped receipt.

What To Do When You’re Down and Out

Although I do my best to be upbeat, positive and cheerful most days, there are “those” days when I feel like roadkill. I couldn’t put on a happy face if you offered me diamonds. If I really can’t be positive that day, I’ve learned to give in. I accept that 1) It’s just a bad day. It will pass. 2) These feelings won’t last forever. 3) You can’t be happy all the time (well, I can’t. If you can, good on ya!). 4) We are allowed to have the occasional bad day.

Thanks to a dear friend who gave me a Eckhart Tolle CD (check him out at http://www.eckharttolle.com), I learned from him to be “in the moment.” That is, if you’re going to have a bad day and you can barely get out of bed, DO NOT:

  • “Should” on yourself, as in “I should get up and DO something.”
  • Hassle yourself.
  • Worry that you will never be positive again.

DO:

  • Give yourself permission to really BE in that bad day. Make no excuses, and don’t beat yourself up for not doing anything.
  • Stay in bed. Read a trashy book. Snooze. Watch “Bridezillas.” Eat cinnamon toast.
  • Be unashamedly un-guilty.

That’s it and all; my magic formula for a bad day. Instead of forcing myself to ‘just DO something productive, already,’ I don’t. I give myself complete and total permission to be loaf around as I please. It’s the best cure for losing the blues I know of–well, that and counting all the good and great and wonderful people and things in my life. But you know how it is; sometimes you just can’t get your chin off the ground. So when that happens, give yourself permission to have a bad day and ENJOY it.

The last bad day I enjoyed was epic: I never even washed my face or brushed my teeth. I spent the day in my pajamas alternately napping, reading an old Stephen King book, and making my standby comfort food, Vegetable Spooge:

  • Make a small pot of quinoa and/or bulghur wheat (it’s easy; the directions are on the package)
  • Get out your trusty food chopper and chop up as much carrots, onions, celery, etc. as you want
  • When the quinoa is ready, dump in the chopped vegetables and add *cheese if you like
  • Enjoy (it’s not only tasty but good for you, too)!

*For dietary reasons I use goat cheese, which is surprisingly delicious

The next day, I was back on top of the world and ready to be productive. I had had my day of permissive laziness and self-indulgence, and felt better for doing it. Just remember that when you do sink down, know that the next day will be better, and you WILL feel good again.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are really having some severe depression, anxiety, etc. issues, then by all means see someone–a doctor, therapist, counselor, etc. Needless to say, on-going bad days can lead to bad things, so if you are having more bad days than good, get help. This post just addresses the occasional bad day we all have from time to time.

 

Life Is Too Short To Read a Bad Book

I am a reader and come from a family of readers. My favorite pastime is, was, and ever shall be reading; it’s the first thing I want to do in the morning, and the last thing I want to do at night. At this time in my life I have read enough books to fill a fleet of dump trucks, and will keep on reading as long as my eyes hold out. I know what I like, and when I like an author’s book, I will read everything that the author has written.

So what do you like to read? Are you a mystery reader, do you love SciFi, can’t get enough romance novels, do time travel books light you up, or do you like biographies? There are so many genres to choose from, and after a while you begin to zero in on your favorites. Do you ever find yourself so immersed in a book that you literally cannot hear what is going on around around you? These are what I call “yeah, yeah” books, as in when someone is trying to talk to you while reading, you just wave them away with a “yeah, yeah?” (The meaning of the “yeah, yeah” is “Don’t bother me; I’m in the middle of a really good book–go away now.”)

When I come to the end of a book that has held me in thrall for days, I mourn it like a lost friend. I miss not “being” in that book, and it’s hard for me to start another one. There are some books that have changed my life forever, some that have become so dear to me that I will read them again and again, and some that have made me laugh or cry out loud. On the other hand, there are some books that, once started, I lose patience with–to be fair, I will give an “iffy” book 75 pages of my attention. If after that I don’t love it, I stop reading. It doesn’t go on my booklist (I keep track of all the books I’ve read).

When I love an author, I forgive them anything. Stephen King is a favorite, and I’ve read everything the man ever wrote, and wait anxiously for his next book to come out. I even forgive him for grossing me out in many books. (This is why I warn people about his books, telling them “do NOT eat while reading!”) The following are authors I will read without question:

  • Anne Rivers Siddons
  • Elizabeth Berg
  • Chris Bohajalian
  • Adrianna Trigiano
  • Pat Conroy
  • Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • Mary Kay Andrews
  • Diane Chamberlain
  • Gillian Flynn
  • Dean Koontz
  • Isobelle Allende
  • Lucinda Riley
  • Whitley Streiber
  • Helene Wecker
  • Dan Brown
  • Ann Hood
  • Dorothea Benton Frank
  • Lee Smith
  • JoAnn Mapson
  • Elin Hilderbrand
  • Luanne Rice
  • Louise Erdrich
  • Peter Straub
  • Sandra Dallas
  • J. K. Rowling
  • Anne Tyler
  • Kate Jacobs
  • Sophie Kinsella
  • Joshilyn Jackson
  • Jodie Piccoult
  • Anna Maxted
  • Ellen Gilchrist
  • Connie May Fowler
  • Cathy Pelletier
  • Jill McCorkle
  • Rebecca Wells
  • Kristen Hannah
  • Michael Lee West
  • John Irving
  • Fannie Flagg
  • Alice Hoffman
  • Olivia Goldsmith
  • Gaelen Quinn
  • Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Anne Quindlen
  • Wally Lamb
  • Stieg Larsson
  • Anne Lamott
  • Mary McGarry Morris
  • Fred Mustard Stewart
  • Alice Sebold
  • Alan Brennert
  • Philipa Gregory
  • Diane Hammond
  • Donald Harington
  • Rita Mae Brown
  • Stephanie Meyer

…and there are many, many more. Some books I have loved so much I re-read them (this, according to my mother, is a crime against the world of writing. “There are so many books to read–don’t waste your time re-reading one you’ve already read!”) when I need to. If I am having a stressful day, I automatically reach for Anne Rivers Siddons, Pat Conroy or J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter is a never-ending comfort and delight).

By the way, I have never read a book on a Kindle or Spindle or Pindle or any tech gadget. Not that I’m against them per se, it’s just that I prefer holding and reading a real paper-and-print book. Over the years I have had to cull out a great many books I liked but didn’t love, so the ones I have now are precious to me. Unfortunately some of the books I now own started out as library books; lesson to us all: do not eat or drink anything while reading a library book. At least a half-dozen times I have had to confess my crime to a librarian, pay the full price for the book and had to slink home with the stained copy under my arm. These books will have a note written in the front confessing my crime, such as: “I just had to have another cup of coffee/a bowl of tomato soup/a chicken taco/a glass of red wine/etc. while reading this library book. Now it’s mine.”

Yes, life IS too short to waste time on a bad book, but there is time enough to re-read the books you really, deeply, truly love. Reading them will put you back in that wonderfully serene place that is timeless, stressless and full of promise and hope. A good book is a pathway to a meadow filled with sunshine, fragrant flowers, gorgeous sunsets and heavenly moonrises, while a bad book is a slippery slope to a nasty pond full of leeches, evil bullfrogs, slimy mud and sharp clam shells. Choose wisely!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Boogers and Other Marital Debris

I love my husband, the Crankee Yankee, dearly. He is my best friend, my companion, my rock, my love, my North Star and my hero. We have been happily married for over 12 years and I would be utterly lost without him. However, no marriage is perfect because we humans are not perfect. Case in point: my parents have been married for nearly 60 years. In all that time, my mom has never been able to convince, cajole or threaten my dad into putting his dirty socks in the hamper. A few years ago, he went from tossing the socks on the closet floor to dumping them beside the hamper–but not actually in the hamper.

The Crankee Yankee and I have no garbage disposal. We throw all our produce peelings, etc. into our compost pile in the back yard, which turns into wonderful loam to put on our gardens. The system works beautifully. BUT the Crankee Yankee still leaves what I call “food boogers” in the sink; strawberry hulls, radish leaves, chewed gristle (urghh), onion skins, olive pits and so forth. (Note: the plastic bag that holds the food boogers is literally 6″ away from the sink.) I have had the “There is no Food Booger Fairy who cleans out the sink” conversation with him, and he is contrite and apologetic. And yet–the food boogers keep on coming.

I swear I love that man more than my jewelry, but he is a hot mess. Some of his other more baroque habits include:

  • Leaving several neatly-folded paper towels everywhere. When asked why, he will ALWAYS say: “I’m going to use them!” (Oh really, like–WHEN?)
  • Neatly stacking magazines, torn-out articles from newspapers, coupons, and other paper-y stuff on every surface.
  • Wearing what has to be the oldest, most worn out, nasty, sweaty and smelly baseball cap on the planet while working on the house and gardens. Seriously, not even flies will land on that thing.
  • Wearing t-shirts until they are literally two sleeves and a neckband holding a bunch of holes together.
  • Underwear the same.
  • Letting his toenails get so long that he’s ripped sheets. And also “poinking” my legs with them in bed.
  • Leaving sticky notes all around the perimeter of our computer. Honestly, it makes the computer screen look like a frilled lizard.
  • Sneezing, blowing his nose and coughing loud enough to break the sound barrier.
  • The Crankee Yankee is a mumbler. I am constantly asking, “What? What?” He will pick a time to tell me something important when I’m in the shower or downstairs folding laundry or outside. I know he’s talking, but I can’t make out more than a few words. He says what he wants to, assuming I can hear him loud and clear (this after 12 years of telling him I can’t hear him)–and just walks away. He therefore does not hear me shout “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY??”
  • If I’m watching a TV show he doesn’t care about, he rattles the newspaper like castanets. When I turn up the sound, he looks at me with those big brown eyes and says, ‘oh, sorry–am I too loud?’

Yes, these things are annoying and constant. These are the things that drive me nuts. These are the things that make me roll my eyes. But these are the things I will long for if the Crankee Yankee leaves this earth before I do. Then I will wish with all my heart to hear that mumble, pick fruit peelings out of the sink and will dearly miss the sight of all those sticky notes flapping around the computer screen.

So, lesson to myself and all others who live with Crankee Yankees of their own: aggravation, frustration and irritation don’t last. The love and affection we feel for our imperfect partners (who love and appreciate us imperfect partners!) is a wonder and a miracle. In the beginning, the middle and the end, this is what really matters.

I would say more here, but I have to go scoop the soggy cereal out of the sink…

 

 

 

What Makes YOU Laugh?

Did you ever notice that when you whack your “funny bone” it isn’t all that funny? It’s the same with a sense of humor. What I may find hilarious you may dismiss as puerile, obvious or just stupid. What’s funny to some isn’t at all funny to others. I think it was Lou Costello (of the famous comedy team, Abbot and Costello) who said, “Comedy and tragedy are relative. If you fall down a manhole and break your arm, that’s comedy. If the same thing happens to ME, that’s tragedy.”

I grew up on a humor diet of the Little Rascals, Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers and my favorites, the Three Stooges. It was the humor of the times, and most of these talented folks started their professional lives on stage in vaudeville. They could sing, dance, play a few musical instruments and tell jokes non-stop. Physical comedy of that time included a lot of physical abuse. (Just Google up a few Three Stooges shorts and you’ll see what I mean.) It was humor of the ultimate non-PC type, and it was hilarious.

If you want to see me dissolve into a puddle of helpless laughter (which usually includes tears of joy from both ends), just show me poor old Margaret Dumont getting a pie in the face from Harpo Marx, or Laurel and Hardy unsuccessfully trying to move an expensive piano, or the Three Stooges “fixing” the plumbing. Certainly I get more cerebral humor; New Yorker cartoons, etc., but I am a product of the 50s and grew up in a time of low comedy we may never see again (thanks, PC movement!).

Ok, so what makes you laugh like a hyena or fall off the sofa in hysterics? I hope that you have a long list of things that tickle your funny bone. Life is way too short not to laugh a lot. Here are some humor highlights from my “personal best” list:

  • Any episode of the Dick van Dyke Show
  • Anyone slipping on a banana peel
  • Anyone catching a pie in the face
  • The Clowns’ Prayer: “A little song/A little dance/A little seltzer down your pants!”
  • Selected bits from Firesign Theatre, especially “Shoes For Industry”
  • Zippy the Pinhead from Zap Comics
  • “The Soup Nazi” episode from “Seinfeld”
  • Anything Nathan Lane says (the man could read the phone book out loud and be funny)
  • Farts
  • Monty Python, notably the “Dead Parrot” sketch
  • Soupy Sales
  • Tim Conway and Harvey Corman on the Carol Burnett Show (especially the classic dental sketch)
  • “Blazing Saddles”
  • Saturday Night Live with the original cast
  • Laugh In; especially Arte Johnson and Alan Sues
  • MASH
  • Suzanne Sugarbaker (played by Delta Burke)in “Designing Women”
  • the Super Bowl commercial a few years ago with cowboys herding cats
  • “Who’s Line is it Anyway?”
  • Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”

…and there is much more. Since I am older now (but not all that much wiser), I find more things to laugh about. Believe me, I am all too well aware of all the horrible, tragic, heartbreaking things going on today. It’s not that I ignore them–I just have to decide what if anything I can do about them.

When I can help alleviate pain or suffering, I do. When I can help lift someone up, I do. When I can be a positive force, I am. But when there is nothing I can do, I cannot waste my life and feelings on fear, anger or grief. I choose to look at the funny side because it is healing and positive. I choose laughter because it heals and it lifts the spirits. Not only that, but you never know who might be listening to your laughter and may be lifted up by it.

Live well, love hard and laugh a LOT.

Growing Older Fearlessly and Fabulously

Do you dread your birthday? Do you count the years by counting the wrinkles on your face or the age spots on your hands? Do you feel as if you don’t look anything like your high school yearbook picture? Do you feel depressed because there are more years behind you than ahead of you?

There is an easy solution to growing old, and here it is: find a way to feel great about each second, each minute, each hour, each day–EVERY day. Now that said, of course all the common sense things apply: be good to your body, mind and soul.

  • For the body: do some moderate exercise each week, and choose your own method. Eat as healthfully as possible, and drink lots of water (especially during the hot days).
  • For the mind: keep it active and sharp. Learn a new language, take up a new hobby, start a blog, keep a journal, read, write, take photos, travel, observe wildlife, and try to learn something new every day.
  • For the soul: appreciate all that is around you. Look, really look and let what you see sink into your whole being. Watch the sunrises and sunsets, drink in everything around you, take the time to listen with all your heart to those around you, breathe deeply and fully, and keep an attitude of gratitude.
  • For body, mind and soul together: meditate. It’s easier than you would think, too. Sit or lie down, uncross your arms and legs, and close your eyes. Your mind will want to wander, so you may decide to focus on something; a flower, a gem, a land or seascape, or whatever works for you. You can also concentrate on relaxing your body, starting with your feet. You can say in your mind, “feet, relax,” and so on until you have relaxed your whole body. When your mind wanders, gently pull it back to center, much like tugging the string of a kite that is wandering too far away. You can meditate for five minutes, a half-hour, or whatever suits you. This will refresh your body, mind and soul.

I recently attained my Reiki second level, and learned to repeat this each morning to start my day:

“Just for today, I will not be angry.

Just for today, I will not worry.

Just for today, I will be grateful.

Just for today, I will do my work honestly.

Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.”

Doing this makes fresh in my heart and mind what really matters. Trust me–I have a long memory of things in the past that have hurt me and challenged my peace of mind. But I learned the hard way not to let them haunt me. As the very popular song from “Frozen” says, “Let it go/Let it go!” Instead I’ve chosen to replace bad thoughts and memories with good ones. Here are a few of my own:

  • My mom and day – in their 80s they are still vital, happy, healthy, strong, and have great attitudes and spirits
  • My husband (the Crankee Yankee) – quite simply, the love of my life and my best friend
  • My relatives, especially my favorite uncle – a loving, sweet, funny and kind presence in my life and my heart
  • My fantastic friends, old and new, who bring light and laughter and love to my life each day
  • My relatives who have gone on before me and left a sound path for me to walk on
  • My two amazing step-daughters who have brought me such joy and happiness
  • My incredible granddaughter, 3-year old Ava, who is the light of my life, and the keeper of my heart
  • My wonderful sons-in-law who are truly my family by means of love and respect
  • My three cats, who bring me joy and happiness each day

Now, lest you think that I am some kind of perfectly calm, all-forgiving *Buddha-esque person, well–forget that. The things I’ve mentioned thus far are what I TRY to be and do each day. And most days I fall right on my face. Age has brought me some perspective, true, but I still react childishly to a lot of things. I have re-discovered the great joy of throwing things when I get angry over something incredibly dumb. (At least I have the presence of mind not to pick up anything I value or that would make an awful mess.) The last item to suffer my wrath was the roll of plastic wrap that stubbornly would NOT come off the roll in one piece or, when I finally wrested a swath of it off the roll, would NOT stick to a damn thing. That got summarily kicked all around the kitchen, all the way downstairs to the basement, and all around the basement until it landed in a full litterbox. (Don’t tell the Crankee Yankee, but I threw it out and bought a new one.)

So, back to those dreaded birthdays, age spots and wrinkles. Think of them this way: they are medals of honor of a life lived well. They are a testament that we are not the young and callow youngsters we used to be; that we have grown and changed, gone through life challenges and survived them, that we have had families and achieved much in life–that we have become who we are meant to be. I choose each day to look in the mirror and say, “Hiya, Gorgeous!” You’d be amazed at the cumulative positive effect of just doing this one simple thing. I don’t kid myself that I look 20 anymore, I now have quite a bit of “salt” in my hair, and my smile lines are deeply embedded in my face. The last time I went to the dentist, he informed me that I had no cavities. I was very happy about this, and he said drily, ‘well, you have more crowns and bridges, that’s why.’ Pooh to him. I’m still happy.

So since we can’t turn back the clock, let’s choose to look forward and embrace who we are, including what we look like right NOW. Live long, live well, and live FABULOUSLY!

*One of my favorite jokes is this one: Buddha goes to a hot dog stand and the owner says, “Hiya, Buddha–what’ll you have?” Buddha smiles at him and replies, “Make me one with everything.” (Get it?)