Happy Halloween!

I just heard on the morning news that the term “Halloween” may be offensive to some people. What people? I thought to myself. Well, evidently (and to no one’s surprise), there are many people who don’t care for Halloween (well, fine–no one likes everything), who think that Halloween is evil (that’s still up for debate), or who are just generally offended by the term itself (again–ok, fine).

Well, here’s the thing–how exactly do we know which people are offended by Halloween? Or Christmas? Or birthdays? Or the state bird? Or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?? Hey, it’s not like people are wearing badges that read “I am offended by (check all that apply).” How the heck are we supposed to know?

So, that said, let’s go back to today, which is HALLOWEEN. There–I said it, and I don’t feel one bit guilty about it.

Last night the Crankee Yankee (my husband) and I put out candy for the trick-or-treaters for the first time since we’ve lived here. In our town, the kids go from door to door on October 30 between 4:00pm and 7:00pm. While our much more creative neighbors decorated their homes in fantastic and fabulous fashion, from inflatable Frankensteins and witches to ghosts hanging spookily from every tree, monstrous spider webs on the eaves and carved pumpkins flickering the dark–we just filled a wagon with leaves, a pumpkin and an orange bowl of candy.

But we had fun and got to know more of our neighbors, especially the kids. We were visited by Iron Man, Spiderman, princesses, witches, ghouls, zombies, Freddy Kruger, butterflies, aliens, and one walking toilet. (Yes, really. The kid made it himself, and, since both arms were contained in the costume, his partner (a slice of pizza) obligingly tossed the candy into his bowl after he lifted his lid. He gets my award of best costume this year.)

While our usually quiet neighborhood was overrun with candy-seeking scary folk, the Crankee Yankee and I talked about our Halloweens of long ago. Back then, you could go out in the actual spooky dark with your friends, going door to door (only neighbors you knew, of course) hollering “Trick or treat!” Just being out there in the dark was so much fun, made more so by the fact that you had on a costume and you got candy. Also during those more innocent times, people often made homemade treats like candy apples, popcorn balls, cookies, brownies, fudge and taffy. No one ever thought of anything sinister about this; it’s just what people did back then.

As for tricks, the worst thing we ever did was soap an occasional window, or toss an egg on the sidewalk. Our parents made sure that we understood that egging peoples’ houses or vehicles were strictly off the table. The punishment for doing so was just not worth it; we would have to show up the next day to clean up, and face the neighbor in question to apologize. Even so, you’d hear about your crime well into adulthood. Years later, you’d be back in your home town with your own children, and go visit your old neighbor who was by that time in a nursing home. As you made your hellos and introduced your children, the old man or woman would glare up at you from their wheelchair, pointing a bony finger at you, croaking, “It’s YOU! You’re the little brat who egged my door on Halloween!”

Most of our costumes were homemade back then. I remember only a tiny percentage of kids who had “store-bought” costumes. We went out as ghosts (old white sheet with eyeholes), hobos (old clothes and shoe polish beards), fortune tellers (one of Mom’s old dresses and lots of clinking costume jewelry and makeup), and so on. If Halloween fell on a school day, we got to change into our costumes after lunch and be part of a big parade downtown. It must have been a massive operation for the teachers, but for us kids, it was Halloween heaven.

So, that was then, and this is now. To all those out there who are offended by Halloween–I’m sorry I mentioned “Halloween” so many times in this post. To those of us who still love Halloween, both for what it was and what it is; a happy Halloween to you all!

(….are there anymore KitKats left?)


Let’s Stop the Self-Hatred

I have an idea. Just for today, let’s all stop hating on ourselves. C’mon, join me–it’ll be fun! Here’s what I’m going to do; you can do the same if you like (or make up your own self-talk):

  • Look in the mirror and smile at yourself. No judgement, no tsk-tsking over any flaws or droops or wrinkles or extra pounds or stray hairs–just smile at YOURSELF. Add a compliment if you like (my personal favorite is ‘Hiya, gorgeous!’).
  • Talk out loud to yourself as if you were comforting a dear friend who is sad or upset. You can say something like, ‘it’ll be all right,’ ‘this, too, will pass,’ ‘I love you just as you are,’ and so on.
  • Forgive yourself (again, out loud) for anything you still feel bad about. If you can make it right, do so. If that isn’t possible, forgive yourself–OUT LOUD.
  • If you did something as a child about which you still feel bad, let it go by saying to yourself (again, please–out loud) “I was a CHILD. I didn’t know then what I do now. It’s all over and I am letting this go for good.”
  • Go buy yourself something that’s just for you. I don’t care what it is; a new lipstick, a pair of snuggly socks, a new coat, those sparkly earrings you’ve been craving but keep telling yourself you have no place to wear them; a strawberry milkshake, a bouquet of flowers you love, some perfume; you pick. But be sure you LOVE it. As you pay for it, say to yourself “I deserve this!” (And don’t weenie out later on and take it back.)
  • Put on your favorite outfit and go somewhere. Even if it’s just to the library or grocery store, go with your head up, shoulders back and a smile on your face. Don’t scuttle, don’t hang your head, don’t avoid making eye contact, don’t act as though you want to hide yourself–walk right in there as if you’re the Queen of England…or Beyonce.
  • Be as kind to yourself as you would to a friend or loved one.
  • Understand that others around you may feel insecure, scared, worried, unsure of themselves; in short, anything you’re feeling, you can bet others feel it, too. Give yourself the break you’d give others.
  • Do your best to kick judgement to the curb. Please try not to judge others by how they look, what they are wearing, how they carry themselves, how they speak; if someone judged you by those things you would feel hurt and offended. You would think, ‘they don’t know me! They have no idea what I’ve suffered, what I’ve lived through and how I feel.’ Try your best to put yourself in their place.

BIG SERIOUS NOTE: Please know that everything I’ve outlined here–each and every thing–are all things I personally am working on each day. Sadly, I have not become as loving, wise and kind as the Dali Lama, as peaceful and serene as Gandhi, nor as elevated as the angels. But I am trying.

Just for today, let’s give ourselves the kind of break we would gladly give others. We are WORTH IT.

Paper Towel Noses and Other Annoyances

There are some things in life that bug me for no other reason than that they just DO. Here are some of the heavy hitters for our household annoyances:

  • Paper Towel Noses: these happen when you buy those rolls of paper towels with perforations in them so that you can simply tear off a half sheet. Great idea–unless someone is careless and leaves one of those long triangular “paper towel noses.” Personally, I can’t rest until I’ve destroyed it.
  • Toothpaste Goobers: these are the globs of toothpaste left in the sink by a careless person. If left long enough, they turn to cement and you have to chisel them off.
  • Soap Curlies: these happen when someone washes their lower forty last and leaves the evidence embedded in the soap.
  • Tine Stickies: these happen when whoever feeds the cats leaves bits of meaty goo on the fork tines. They, like toothpaste goobers, turn to cement. And they stink.
  • Food Boogers: this happens when someone forgets that we have no garbage disposal. The stray onion strings, potato peelings and chunks of tomato stuff up the drain, and then someone has to fish them out (usually ME). Urgh.
  • Splatter Cement: this happens when someone making spaghetti sauce, soup, etc., leaves blots and splashes of it to harden on the stove.
  • Coffee Wee-Wee: this usually happens early in the morning when we are too tired or distracted by cats hollering for their breakfast to pour a cup of coffee straight. This leaves rings and splashes that look like the aftermath of a paint ball session.
  • TPLs (Toilet Paper Lice): I hate to get too graphic in my posts, but this must be brought to light. Long and disgusting story short, when one cleans one’s hindquarters too assiduously after “the event,” the toilet paper wads up into little balls and spliffs. These often fall where they may. Ewwww.
  • Mud Clots: These happen when people wearing work boots with lots of ‘waffling’ on the soles (think of actual waffle-holes) track in mud and dirt. The mud and dirt pack handily into the waffling in the soles and just as handily drop out once the wearer walks indoors. 
  • Rubber Cement Boogers: You how you get your new debit card or AARP card or whatever-card in the mail? It comes attached to the paper with rubber cement. The Crankee Yankee (my husband) loves to pull these off the paper, roll them up into roundish ‘boogers’ and place them in hilarious places such as my keyboard or the phone receiver.
  • Shower Curtain Liner Mold Blossoms: This occurs when a wet shower curtain liner gets stuck to the shower curtain for too long. Prolonged contact gives birth to ugly blackish mold ‘blossoms.’ Time to get the bleach out!
  • Computer Screen Snow: This happens over time–the computer screen is victim to sneezes, coughs, bug splats, etc., and pretty soon you’re looking at images of Hawaiian beaches that somehow are covered in snow.
  • Paper Towel Wads: The Crankee Yankee is famous for this one. He carefully folds up a sheet of paper towel and puts it in his pocket (note: this is repeated for each and every pocket in each and every pair of pants). These wads can be used to pick up a sudden spill, catch a sneeze, sop up coffee spray, etc. Unfortunately, I seldom think to look for them when doing the laundry. The result is that the former paper towel wads morph into white shreds that cling to EVERY piece of clothing in the dryer.
  • Cat Foofies: These are the constant fluffs of fur that end up everywhere in our house. Our one long-haired cat, Plumpy-Nut, is the main perpetrator. His attitude about it is this: “Hey, I could have swallowed these, but I didn’t, therefore saving you hundreds of dollars in vet bills.” Sigh–he does have a point.

And so it goes….


The Zen of Cats

The Crankee Yankee (my husband) and I have three cats. After our dear Pepper passed on last month (see “The Crankee Yankee’s Guardian Angel Has Gone Home”), we adopted Plumpy-Nut (see picture below), a stray we had been feeding for months. (Personally, we feel that Pepper picked him out just for us.) He is now a happy (and neutered!) and healthy member of the family, and comes in and out as he pleases.

Cats are generally a calming influence on people, and mostly, ours are. However, ours are also pretty darn sure that everything in the house belongs to them. They feel that our bed is theirs and become hugely offended if we want to stretch out in it. They understand that breakfast and dinner are served around the same times each day, and yet they constantly bug us for treats in between meals.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you go off schedule even once, they will hound you forever because you did it ONCE. END NOTE: The same goes for kids.

They are very interested in whatever we are eating; Nala, our one female, especially. Whatever is on our plates, they want to check it out and sometimes eat it (or at least lick it). They seem to feel that part of their jobs is Food Inspector.

Our living room is filled with cat toys, perches, comfy kitty beds, scratching posts and pads. Oh sure, they enjoy them, but they also feel that every thing else in the house is for them exclusively. They aren’t shy about rearranging things, too. Last night Pookie (one of the boys) jumped on the kitchen table where the Crankee Yankee had sorted out coupons and bills and scattered everything to the four winds. He looked pretty pleased with himself, and if he could talk, he would have said, “You’re welcome!”

Cats make napping an art form. Any surface is is fair game; I’ve found cats snoozing in the sink, on window sills, on our pillows, in boxes, on a metal rack in the closet, on top of a new leather purse, under the bed in the middle of several dust bunnies, in the middle of a pile of clean laundry I haven’t sorted and put away yet, and sometimes in their own carriers. One cat I had a long time ago was found sound asleep on the kitchen counter in the fruit bowl (on top of three bananas and an orange).

Grooming is an important pastime for cats. Ours get pretty offended when we attempt to brush them (except for Plumpy-Nut, who is so round that he needs help cleaning his under carriage); they glare at us as if to say, “Do you think you can do a better job cleaning us? You don’t even use your tongue when you wash!” Once every bit of fur is in its proper place, they can settle into a day-long nap. They would prefer it if we refrain from patting them post-bath, however.

Surprisingly, cats seem to enjoy technology. I call Pookie my I.T. Guy,  because each time I sit down to my computer, he stretches himself out between the screen and my keyboard. Which is fine as long as he lays low…I guess. My best friend and I have text terms for this, too:

  • KOC = Kitty on (or near) Computer
  • KOL = Kitty on Lap

That way we know to excuse any weird spelling in our emails. Sometimes Nala like to send her own emails. She once wrote one to my best friend which read: “HI &annk i99999999999999999df  dnbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb 3489388888888888888888 sdsssssaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.” [punctuation supplied by me].

So, there you have it–in our house, anyway–the zen of cats. Which essentially means: “We do what we like when we like, and if you don’t like it, TOO BAD.”





Getting Over the “Get Over It, Already!” People

If you have ever suffered the loss of a beloved person or pet, lost a job you depended on, or lived through a life-changing incident, you know how hurtful it is to hear someone say dismissively, “oh, get over it, already!” Many may also be haunted by trauma experienced years ago, and still may be having trouble dealing with it. There is no time limit on grief or pain; it is very personal to each of us.

I once read about a tribe of people who grieve in this way: when they have lost a loved one, they garland themselves in the large and fragrant leaves of a tree that only grows in their land. As long as the leaves are worn, it is understood that those wearing them are mourning. When the leaves began to wither and fall away, it means that the time for grief has passed. Simple, right? However, we have no such device in this country, and we all have our own ways to cope–or not.

I won’t waste time here talking about *therapy or meditation; obviously we have to do what we can to help ourselves. My point is that no one but us can decide time limits on our feelings. I try hard to live by this rule: if no one asks me directly for my opinion, I don’t give it. I might think that this, that or the other thing may be perfect to help the other person–but that’s an assumption on my part. I’m not in that person’s skin, nor can I see inside their heart. I might think that what is bothering another person is silly or trivial; but to that person, it’s dead serious. I don’t have the right or authority to judge anyone’s feelings but my own.

It wasn’t until my own heart was laid wide open and I was utterly helpless in grief so deep and dark that I really got it. It was an ‘aha’ moment that changed me forever. I was forced to take the time necessary to heal. Since that time, my outlook has changed completely, and I know that you can’t always just ‘get over it.’

The “get over it, already!” folks may mean well, but it is a slap in the face to someone who is suffering. Their attitude and words assume that there is something deeply wrong with you, and that you are both weak and stupid if you can’t handle it. It also assumes they are somehow better than you because such things don’t bother them. However, it is far more likely that those people either haven’t suffered or have not delved into the depths of their own pain. I also believe that these folks may be so uncomfortable around grief or pain that they really don’t know what else to do; they keep on believing that you can move on.  This alone keeps me from getting too upset with them–they don’t get it and they are doing the only thing that they know how to do. Best to forgive them and go forward.

Trust me on this: you can bury your hurts and fears for a long, long time, but sooner or later they will emerge and won’t go away until you deal with them directly. I covered up my pain for decades; when I finally faced it, it was far easier than I thought to work through it.

Look, I come from generations of strong and determined people, and they believed in hard work, helping themselves and not relying on others.  Most would rather have died than ask for help. My genealogy includes hard-headed and tough women who took their destiny in hand and scraped out their lives as best they knew how, mostly on their own. So naturally I felt terrible when something came up in my life I couldn’t seem to handle. But comparing ourselves to others is a slippery slope, and will only make you feel worse. Just concentrate on you and give yourself credit for taking baby steps.

We  can’t blame ourselves for our pain; that’s really pouring salt in the wound. From my experience, it’s better to turn away from the people who assume that they can live your life better than you can. Let that ignorance roll off your back, and please don’t let it add to the pain you already feel. Let the “get over it, already” folks go on their way, and try your best not to let them get under your skin. They really don’t know any better way to bridge the gap between their ignorance and/or fear and your suffering. Let them go, and go do what you need to do for you.

*Do get the help you need when you need it, whether it’s therapy or medication. There are some things you need help with to get over, and there is wisdom in knowing who to ask for help and when.

Erroneous Assumptions

The Crankee Yankee (my husband) actually coined this phrase. It was after dinner, and I asked him if he had locked up the downstairs (which goes out to the backyard) for the night. He said that he wasn’t sure if he did, but thought so. As I’ve heard this before, I went downstairs to check and also to see if the washer had stopped.

Well, the door was still unlocked (and the washer was still washing), so I locked up, then came upstairs and told him the door had not been locked after all. He peered at me over the top of his glasses, and said, “It appears that my assumption was *erroneous.”

For some reason, that cracked me up. So that lead into a discussion of what constitutes a real erroneous assumption. Here’s our short list (so far):

  • That common sense still exists
  • That kids understand cause and effect and get it the first time
  • That we really do learn from history and do not make the same mistakes again
  • That cats don’t mean to barf on rugs rather than floors
  • That all the abuse we subjected our bodies to won’t come back to haunt us later on; i.e., torn rotator cuffs, bad knees, worn-out ligaments, etc.
  • That our ex-husbands/wives/partners will finally see the error of their ways and apologize for what they did to us
  • That texting and/or drinking while driving are ok
  • That we will never need glasses
  • That good intentions mean good actions
  • That politicians tell the truth
  • That unasked-for advice is always welcome
  • That you will never fart in public
  • That the “25 MPH” sign at both ends of our street actually mean “52 MPH”
  • That those of us who never raised children know everything about raising them
  • That our prom dress will always fit
  • That we will always remember all the words to “The Times They Are A’Changing”
  • That others really want to hear our opinions
  • That we make a mistake and never do it again
  • That cats love the water and being bathed
  • That the same telemarketer/survey person/scam artist will never call again
  • That our toddler will never have a meltdown in a public place
  • That we can still drink the way we did in college and not be out of commission for days afterward
  • That words speak louder than actions

…and of course there will be more erroneous assumptions made all over the place…just wait and see.

*According to Websters Dictionary; “wrong or mistaken.”

“Can’t You Just Do It MY Way?”

I just spilled a torrent of tiny little pills on the kitchen floor. They are just Arnica, a common homeopathic for general pain. But it’s nothing I want my cats getting into, so I immediately (after swearing) went to where our handy-dandy brush and dustpan hangs on the wall in our stairwell going down to the cellar. My hand grasped NOTHING because the Crankee Yankee (my husband) had used it and put it somewhere in the sixth dimension. I sure as heck couldn’t find it.

My constant rant is that if you pick something up and use it, don’t just put it down somewhere thinking you’ll get to it later on; YOU WON’T–SO PUT IT BACK WHERE YOU FOUND IT. I love the Crankee Yankee more than jewelry and the cats, but I swear I will jerk a knot in his tail when he gets home. This happens ALL. THE. TIME. If I had a dollar for each time I found one measly sheet of toilet paper on the roll (with a brand new 4-pack of toilet paper sitting right on the shelf above the toilet), I wouldn’t have to work again–ever. Same with paper towels. And hand soap. And ketchup. And peanut butter. The Crankee Yankee feels that, as long as there is the merest scrape of peanut butter still in the jar, he doesn’t have to put a new jar out.

My modus operandi has always been to replace stuff before I run out of it. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t just want to stay one 4-pack of toilet paper away from running out; I want at least four 4-packs stashed away. If we are low on something, I stock up. If a storm is coming our way, I stock up. If I come into an unexpected windfall, I buy more stuff to stash away; my favorite soap, facial moisturizer, night cream, etc. I suppose if we had more room, I’d get into extreme couponing as well.

I always keep my favorite pen (black Sharpie fine point–always) on the left side of the computer. When the Crankee Yankee strolls in to the office, takes my pen out to the porch to write something down, he will just stroll off on his merry way, leaving the pen–somewhere. It drives me nuts–I want it back where it belongs, pronto. Yes, I am anal about such things. Yes, I feel that my way is the most efficient way to do things.

Then there is the shopping list. When I can’t do the shopping myself, the Crankee Yankee kindly does it, and I appreciate it. However, it is as inevitable as day follows night that he will always come home without at least three items on the list. This absolutely floors me. Hey, I get it if the store doesn’t have it; it happens. But it appears that he will just capriciously not pick up these things for some reason known only to himself. Again, here is my anal outlook again–IF IT’S ON THE LIST, GET IT. Seriously, why would you not?? And sometimes, if I make a new list the include the missing items, he may or may not get them, or he may forget some of the new items.

Then there are the “table issues.” Our kitchen table has become a holding area for coupons, mail, the camera, cards, and stuff to go downstairs. I put something out there, say, a bag of potatoes, and ask the Crankee Yankee if he would be kind enough to please take them downstairs. He replies that yes, he would be glad to. Two hours and three trips down the stairs and the bag of potatoes is still sitting there on the table like a wallflower at a prom.

I believe that not long ago I published on post extolling the people who do not stubbornly become ‘right-fighters’ (or in the words of good old Dr. Phil, ‘Do you want to be right or happy?’), and here I am, being the right-fighter I despise.

Sigh. It would be so much easier if everyone just did it my way. <queue up “My Way” by Frank Sinatra here>


Best Uncle Ever

My favorite uncle, whom I have called “Unkie” all my life, is 89 today. Anyone who is lucky enough to have had an uncle to love and be loved by understands the gift of that relationship. He has been there for me literally since the day I was born, and has been a big part of my life ever since. Unkie, quite simply, is the perfect example of a decent, good man who has lived honestly and has been a blessing and joy to his family, friends and associates.

I remember from a very early age that he loathed spiders. Mom told me that, when they were growing up they often explored the woods nearby. He would make Mom walk ahead of him to break any possible webs along the way! Once when he was visiting us, he had just tucked me into bed with his regular bedtime admonition; “Ok, I’m putting you into your rocket ship to the moon. If it’s made of green cheese, bring me back a slice.”

As he stood up, we both noticed a big spider on the wall. Without hesitation, he took off one shoe and killed it. As young as I was, I understood how much he loved me–to face that big spider and protect me from it.

In his fifties, he got married for the first time to a wonderful woman named Dottie. She brought to the marriage three daughters, the youngest still in high school. For the first time, Unkie was a husband and father, and, as with everything else in his life, he embraced the change. He loved them all with all his heart, and stepped into his new roles with love and commitment.

Unkie was and is one of the few people I know who truly live their faith in God, and do their best to honor Him by living good and decent lives. This was never done in a showy or attention-getting manner; he is simply a good man and treats others the way he would liked to be treated.

Looking back on all the times spent together, it’s the stories and jokes I remember so well. A rather shy and retiring man, Unkie blooms when he is in a crowd. On all the bus trips he and Dottie took together, he would stand up and start telling jokes. His timing and delivery were dead-on, and he had every person literally rolling in the aisles.

One of my favorite jokes is about the nun and the airplane, which goes like this:

A young nun was traveling on an airplane for the first time in her life, and was both excited and nervous about it. She was worried that she would be late and miss her plane, so she made sure she got to the airport in plenty of time. The ticket agent kindly directed her to a comfortable waiting area where she could rest. As she sat there, she watched all the people go by and wondered where they were all going. Her gaze fell upon an old-fashioned scale that promised to tell a person’s weight and also tell their fortune.

She decided to try it. It cost a nickel, so she got on the scale, dropped in her nickel and got her correct weight and a little card with her fortune. The card read, “You are a nun. You are twenty-six years old, and you are flying to Chicago today.”

“Well!” she said to herself. “How did that machine know that?” But as she sat there, she thought, “Oh I know, there must several cards in there and one was bound to be about a nun.” Soon her curiosity got the best of her. She got up, dropped another nickel in the machine and received a card that said, “You are a nun. You are twenty-six years old, you are flying for the first time in your life, and you are going to play the violin.”

She was amazed at this, and thought to herself, “That can’t be right–I’ve never played any musical instrument!” She sat back down, and soon a man with a duffle bag and a violin case came by and asked her if she would mind watching his things while he went to the restaurant. She said she would.

As she sat there, she thought about her latest fortune, and looked at the violin case. She knew that the man would be in the restaurant for a while, and wondered if she really could play the violin. She decided to give it a try, and amazingly, she found she actually could play a nice little tune. Smiling to herself, she put the violin away. But by then she just had to try the machine again.

This time the card read, “You are a nun. You are twenty-six years old, and you are going to fart.” She thought indignantly, ‘I have NEVER done that in my life, and I’m certainly not going to do it now.” Still fuming, she walked back to her seat, and slipped on the edge of the rug. She fell to her hands and knees, and farted. Red-faced, she strode back to the machine, put in one more nickel, and received this card: “You are a nun. You are twenty-six years old, and you fiddled and farted around so long that you MISSED YOUR PLANE.”

But it isn’t just Unkie’s talent for telling jokes that makes him so special. It’s the kind of person he is, and how he treats the people around him. He has lived a life of love, generosity, kindness and goodness, and in his way, made the world a better place. He certainly has made my life better and I love him dearly.




I Have a 63 Year Old Teddy Bear

I’ll admit it–I still have my original, given-to-me-when-I-was-a- baby teddy bear. Mom named him Percy, and Percy has been with me all these years. He went from lying in my crib with me to leaning against the pillows of my big-girl bed, and even went to college with me. He’s tagged along through several moves, three different states, many jobs and two marriages. In fact, he’s sitting on my craft table right now.

I have never been able to let him go, even when my two step-daughters were little and might have liked him. I now have a 3 and a half year old granddaughter, but she’s seriously into Minnie Mouse and Sheriff Cali, so I don’t know how they would get along. He’s an old and well-loved bear, and is used to being with me. Even as the Crankee Yankee (my husband) and I debate paring down our belongings as we get older, I still consider Percy valuable and want him with me.

I know, I know–I’m all grown up now and don’t need a teddy bear any longer, but what if he still needs me? How could I leave him? I could do the adult thing and donate him, but how will I know where he goes? I have lost or given away so many of my things from childhood and adulthood; some that have meant a lot to me. Some things I passed on to people who I knew would like and appreciate them, but who in the world will cherish my old Percy as much as me?

It’s silly sentiment to think that any of our beloved belongings have feelings, but there it is–I do think so. Percy certainly isn’t the bear he used to be; he is threadbare in some places, and both eyes have been replaced several times. The center seam down his chest now looks like a triple bypass scar on an old man, and his ears are a little thin because I used to rub them so much. I don’t even know where he came from or who gave him to me, but we have been buddies ever since. Each time I think I’m ready to let him go, I’m not ready at all. I can’t explain the attachment I have to him; I just know I still need him. He has absorbed all my kisses and tears and confidences over the years as a good friend does–I guess you could say that we have a long-standing bond.

Honestly, can you just see me in a nursing home years from now, poor old balding Percy still clutched in my wrinkled old chicken claw? But you know, I’ll bet I won’t be the only old gal who still has their first friend with them.

Just sayin’, Percy old pal.

“What the Eye Does Not See, the Heart Does Not Long For”

I read this phrase in an A. J. Cronin book long ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since: “what the eye does not see, the heart does not long for.” Basically it means that if no one can see the packages or iPad or top-of-the-line cell phone, etc. in your car or house or whatever–they won’t be tempted to break in and take them.

I’ve observed so many women who leave their open purses in their shopping carts while they wander off to look for something several steps away. Or people who leave their bags of Christmas gifts sitting in the front seat of their unoccupied vehicle, their car keys in the ignition (sometimes with the doors unlocked!), or, in the case of the Crankee Yankee (my husband), leave their wallet and cell phone sitting in the console right out in front of God and everyone. (I don’t know if this means he has an unshakeable faith in people’s honesty or that he just doesn’t care. More likely, he just plain forgets–which is why I’ve turned into the Reminder Police; ‘did you pick up your wallet, where’s your cell, do you have your hat,’ etc.)

These days we can’t leave anything we care for out in the open because we are only going to be gone ‘for a minute.’ Sometimes a minute is all it takes for someone to take your stuff or drive off with your car. I know, I know–it’s a sad commentary about the times that we can’t trust anyone anymore, but there it is; thefts and break-ins happen all the time. I grew up in a time where people rarely locked their doors at night, and, if you left something out on your porch in the evening, it would still be there in the morning. Those days are gone, baby–gone.

Strangely, these times have not made a lot of us any smarter about vigilance. I’ve said and written this more times than I can count, but here it is again: if you are walking/jogging/running/biking, etc. wearing headphones or earbuds, YOU ARE NOT BEING VIGILANT. Whatever you’re listening to is a distraction, and that means you’re not paying full attention to where you are and who and what is around you. You may think that you’re perfectly aware of everything, but just listening to music, talk radio, motivational lectures and so on distracts you to a degree that you are lulled into a false sense of security. Save all that for the gym; don’t do it when you’re outside and alone. Also, when you are driving, always lock your doors–always.

The same goes for home security. This doesn’t mean that you need to spend big bucks on a security system; that’s your choice. But just doing what used to be called “common sense” things [sadly, these days common sense is no longer common] such as these:

  • Locking your door and windows at night and when you are not in the house
  • When you are not in your house, leave a TV or radio on so it appears that someone is home
  • Leave a few lights on if you are out after dark, and don’t leave the same ones on each time–change it up
  • Try not to be too predictable in your habits. Example, if you always park your car facing the house, back in it now and then
  • Let a neighbor you trust watch your home while you are away and give them your cell number just in case
  • Have a plan in place for your family in case of fire, etc.
  • Make sure family members have cell phones and that everyone knows each others numbers in case you get separated

..and so on. Just think ahead and have a plan.

The idea is simple: be prepared, not scared!