Changing Times, Fashion-Wise

I was born in 1951, and grew up in a time of great fashion revolution. When I was in grade school I had what they called in the ’50s a “Beatnik” shirt. It was a cotton top with short sleeves and a big pocket in the front like a kangaroo pouch. The colors were splashes of red, gray and black against a white background, and I LOVED it. That front pocket could hold everything from beach rocks to flowers, apples to cherry tomatoes, and once to my mother’s horror, a small toad.

Back then, every woman and girl wore hats to church, and Easter especially was a big hat day. We also wore white gloves, which always made me feel VERY grown-up. There is a picture of Dad and me in one of our  scrapbooks showing me dressed to kill in a woven white straw hat (that looked a little like I had a cake on my head), wearing a black and white checked dress with a white pinafore. On my feet were white socks, turned down once, and my lovely-but-necessary black and white saddle shoes. On my hands were the white gloves, and in the picture I am also carrying a tiny white straw purse. Dad is bent down so that his head was near my shoulder, smiling as if to say, “That’s my girl!”

In the 50s, poodle skirts were still popular, and I always liked to watch the teenage girls sashay along in them, their many petticoats making the skirts swish. Sweater sets, or “twin sets” (a shell, or what we’d call today a “tank top” with a matching cardigan sweater) were popular. The desired jewelry then was either a string of pearls, or a simple circle pin, or “sweater pins.” These last were usually matching enameled flowers, Scottie dogs, cats, butterflies and the like.

What fascinated me above all else at that time was the pointy bras women wore then. Honestly, it made females look as if they had strapped two missiles to their chests. Being breastless myself  at that time, I wondered why all those heavily armored girls didn’t fall forward on their faces.

Later on in the 60s came a huge fashion shift. The hippies, the Summer of Love, the slogans of the day:

  • Don’t trust anyone over 30
  • Make love, not war
  • Flower power
  • Keep on truckin’
  • Keep on keepin’ on
  • Right On!
  • Far out, man
  • Outta sight!
  • Funky
  • Groovy
  • Suppose they gave a war and nobody came

But the fashion industry especially was turned on its head. Girls and women stopped wearing bras, and girdles of any kind were tossed out like yesterday’s leftovers. Some women gave up panties as well. Stockings were out, tights were in. Enormous platform shoes, flowered dresses–either full-length or barely long enough to cover your underpants (if you were wearing any). Big floppy hats and tinted sunglasses were every-day wear. Then the  Beatles struck musical gold, and visited America. Then we all wanted to be British. Teenage girls quickly adopted the “Carnaby Street” look made famous by Mary Quant and Twiggy.

We wore long “granny gowns,” or mini-skirts with long tops and leggings. We cut up our old jeans to make short denim skirts, and we wore them with clunky leather boots. We loved flowery dresses in hot pinks, oranges and greens, and leather sandals that slapped as we walked. Boys wore the new collar-less Nehru jackets, the height of male fashion at the time.

It was both a fun and frustrating time, fashion-wise. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was no hippie, and the idea of “free love” scared the hell out of me. I also knew that I was putting on a persona each day; that my clothes didn’t necessarily reflect the real me. It took a long time to figure out my own look. Honestly, I felt I was a lot happier in my old Beatnik shirt and shorts.

It takes a lot of living and learning about yourself to discover your own style; that what works for you doesn’t necessarily represent the latest fashions. For example, here in New England, “L. L. Bean chic” is always in style; colorful anorak, jeans with the cuffs turned up, duck boots, a turtleneck with a sweater over it. But it took an awfully long time to step away from the dictates of the ‘fashion of the moment.’ There comes a time when you just decide what works for you, what you are comfortable wearing, and best of all–to just be comfortable in your own skin.

But looking back, it was fun to be part of that whole fashion revolution….what do YOU remember wearing during those times?

 

 

 

10 Amazing Reactions to Bad News

I love the Kindness Blog, and I often re-post some of the posts on it that have touched my heart. I share this one with you because my mom is dying of metastatic breast cancer. She may have months, weeks or days, and my dad and I (and wonderful Hospice) are taking care of her.

This post particularly touched me, because the following ten reactions to bad news are nothing short of amazing. Too often, we just don’t know what to say when someone blurts out, ‘I have (or a loved one has) cancer.’

My mom’s friends have organized a meal schedule for my mom and dad, and they visit or phone often. They are a lifeline for us, and I can’t express how grateful we all are for their dear presence in our lives, and their kindness in making and delivering exquisite meals. Someone will often just drop by for a quick chat, or bring in a bunch of fresh flowers. A neighbor of ours, a retired nurse, has asked us to call her anytime to stay with my mom when Dad or I have to leave the house.

Friends of mine email me or call, asking how things are going. Some give encouragement, some have been through this themselves and share their stories, some simply let me know that they are thinking of us.

Although right now my mom is doing very well, eating well, making jokes and sharing memories with us and her friends, we know that nature will eventually take its course. That is how things are, and we accept it. But oh–the kindness and presence of these all dear, dear souls in our lives make a beautiful difference!

Read on.

“What to Say to Someone with Cancer by Sky Khan

It’s hard to know what to say to someone with cancer. If you’re like most, you blurt an instinctive, “I’m sorry.” Albeit well-intentioned, “I’m sorry” is a sorry substitute for a meaningful connection during a vulnerable time.

Sky Khan knows how to react when receiving bad news. She became an involuntary, repeated “bad news teller” after doctors diagnosed her 4-year-old daughter, Kiki, with leukemia last September.

After hours of face-to-face conversations and challenging phone calls, Sky heard and saw reactions across a spectrum of appropriateness. These firsthand experiences motivated her to reflect on what to say to someone with cancer or facing any sort of life challenge.

Sky compiled her insights into this list to help others. You can read more about Sky, Kiki, and their family by visiting Kiki’s Leukemia Battle Fund.

10 Amazing Reactions to Bad News: The Right Way to Respond to a Friend’s Hardship

Here’s a list of the top 10 things my friends said or did that provided comfort, reassurance, and warmed me to the core. The next time you find yourself reacting to someone’s bad news, have a few responses from this list ready to go and you won’t be left stumbling for the right thing to say or do.

1. Thank you so much for telling me.

A simple thank you was one of the most surprisingly sweet reactions that I received. When a friend felt that it was a privilege to receive my news, it meant so much. Thank you, along with an attentive, calm presence, provided a very comforting result. Sometimes all that’s required in a difficult situation is being a witness to someone else’s anxiety or sorrow. If you only have a few words to offer, saying thank you is a nice alternative to the overdone, ‘I’m sorry’.

2. This really puts things in perspective.

When I was able to provide a friend with the opportunity to reflect on his own health and well-being, it brought optimism to the conversation. It also allowed space to take the focus off of my daughter’s situation, which was often a welcome relief. When a friend was able to express both compassion and a sense of gratitude, the conversation turned hopeful. It is not always easy to appreciate good health while you have it.

3. I’m coming over once a week with a home-cooked meal.

During life’s difficult moments, the importance of food is often overlooked. Not only is it very hard to find the time or energy to eat, cooking is usually the very last thing to receive attention. When a friend committed to delivering a weekly meal along with his company, it became a true lifeline for our family.

4. I’m organizing a meal drop off this month with a group of friends.

When another good friend asked if she could organize our common friends to drop off home-cooked meals every Tuesday and Thursday for a month, I agreed. Sharing the cooking as a group fostered a sense of community and my family felt so uplifted by our friend’s goodwill. Because our daughter’s chemotherapy treatment spanned a long period of time, friends let us decide if the meal plan was still helpful at the end of every month.

Over time, other friends experienced their own roadblocks and among our group, the tradition of a cooking tree has served us well. I’ve now been on both the giving and receiving side of meal delivery and cannot believe how touching the practice is.

5. I am coming to visit.

There is nothing like the physical presence of a good friend amidst a crisis. When a good friend can be a witness, hold your hand, dry tears, ask how you are feeling in this moment, all of this helps on the journey towards healing. When an offer to visit at the hospital or at home came up, I never turned it down. It was especially helpful if friends offered a specific window of availability such as two hours in the afternoon on Saturday or Sunday. The more specific the better.

6. I’ve located a support group that might be helpful.

There are many online listservs, hangouts, communities and support groups that focus on a variety of topics. Often in the midst of tragedy, there is little time to reflect on or locate helpful resources. This can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed or isolated. Connecting with others that are going through the same thing often provides insight and relief from suffering.

One friend located and suggested I join a cancer support group on Facebook that focused on the very specific kind of childhood cancer my daughter had been diagnosed with and while I initially hesitated because I thought it would clog up my feed, I now find the updates informative and it has also led to new friendships and a sense of shared humanity.

7. I will help with fundraising.

Illness, death and other tragedies often incur unanticipated expenses. When a friend offered to help set up a fundraising site for my daughter, and another spread the word about it, the tender messages and generous donations that came in through the site moved us tremendously and were so practical in helping us face the mounting expenses of travel and medical bills. There are now so many wonderful websites that enable point-and-click fundraising for a loved one in need.

8. You are constantly in my thoughts.

When a friend offers positive, healing thoughts, it is a caring, supportive act that can transcend spiritual affiliation. I’ve had friends put my daughter’s name on Tibetan prayer wheels, lift our family up through Christian prayer groups, speak of her health in both Jewish and Muslim religious ceremonies, and even send Reiki distant energy healing. I’ve always welcomed all good-intentioned, positive thoughts.

At my lowest points, whenever I received a spontaneous text or email that informed me we were in a friend’s thoughts at that very moment, it was incredibly moving.

9. Is there an opportunity to celebrate?

There may be an opportunity, when some time has passed and bad news is not so fresh, to recall a positive memory or mark an occasion related to the situation. I received a small handmade book of photo memories from birth through year four on the occasion of my daughter’s 4th birthday. Receiving this thoughtful collection of photos amidst her health crisis, reminded us of happy times. In addition to her birthday, we also managed to mark Halloween by celebrating ancestors that passed before us and Thanksgiving by incorporating a daily recording of what we were grateful for during the month of November.

While I did not feel as celebratory or festive during these events as in past years, going through the familiar motions and traditions encouraged hopefulness within that we would get through this.

10. You are amazing. You are so strong. You will get through this.

A positive affirmation is often the most straightforward way to offer support. Don’t hesitate to remind your friend how resilient she is. Frequently repeat a sentiment that you sincerely believe and soon your friend will also believe those words. Remind her that while it may be a difficult year ahead, she will get through it because she is strong. She is amazing. And she will be even stronger after persevering through the experience.

When responding to bad news, do not put the onus on the person enduring the hardship to tell you what you can do to help. These recommendations are all examples of effective words and actionable items that will allow you to contribute. Try one of these ten recommendations the next time someone needs you to be there in a meaningful way.”

Sky Khan is a founding member of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care and an active presence at the Haven Hospice in New York City’s Bellevue Hospital where she provides compassionate care for the terminally ill and dying. She is the founder of Generous.nyc and a speaker, author and educator on the topic of generosity. She is also an advisor to cancerversary.nyc, zenyc.org and grief.nyc.

 

Changing Roles

As you once held me close in your arms and kept me safe, I now do the same for you. I am careful to lift you up on your pillows so as not to stress the sore places. I keep my arms around you when you walk into the bathroom, and sit you down carefully. I now know how to lift you up without causing you pain.

I understand the importance of a fresh clean, newly-made bed, made up with my and Dad’s loving hands.

I can see the difference that a clean nightie makes, as well as your warm fluffy pink socks you like on your feet at night.

I can’t kiss you enough, tell you I love you enough, or hold your hand and smile with you enough.

We talk through so many memories and good times, and we laugh and marvel over our lives together.

I see my dad care for you so tenderly and with such love—there is nothing he would not do for you. His love for you has been true for 60 years, and yours for him. The bond between you is so strong that it is forever and eternal, and will stand forever.

Your wonderful friends visit and call, and let you know constantly that you are loved and cared for, and wonderful and delicious meals are prepared and delivered from such loving hands and hearts.

Your room now is filled with sunflowers bright enough to rival the sun, and cards and notes come each day, speaking their love for you.

You take joy in giving away your beautiful clothes and shoes, jewelry, coats, gloves, purses–all transitory at this time, but you have such fun in enjoying others’ enjoyment of them. Best of all, your spirit and energy abides in these things, and those you have gifted will feel that energy and love forever.

Although we know that time is passing, each day is a gift and a blessing. There is such peace and joy within you that lights us all. You are only going on ahead to get everything ready for us all to join you. Where you go, time as it is on Earth has no meaning and no hold on us. The love we have for each other and our own unique and wonderful spirits live on forever.

As a daughter, you have taught me so well and so carefully that you can go on, knowing that I will be fine. I will only miss you until I see you again; radiant and beautiful and immortal.

Shakespeare, wise man of words, described our time on Earth thus:

“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”

From Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” Act 4, scene 1, 148–158, spoken by Prospero.

 

 

Did Anyone See the Super Moon?

The Crankee Yankee and I just came in after going out on our porch to watch the super moon eclipse–amazing! Earlier, I had driven home from my parents’ house at dusk and got to see the enormous super moon rise like a big silver coin.

As it sat between the continuum of pale blue and rose pink sky, it looked as if it had come close enough to kiss the earth. As it grew darker, the moon glowed luminous and lit up everything in its path. All I could feel was happiness in being able to witness this incredible sight.

At around 10pm the eclipse had nearly covered this super moon in a mist of coppery-red, as though it was coyly drawing a silky veil across its face. Breathtaking! I heard that this event will not happen again until 2033–by that time I will be 82 and the Crankee Yankee will be 83–imagine that!

What a gift to see this–I hope that everyone got the chance to experience this wonderful event. By the way, just for fun, here are some words that rhyme with moon:

  • June
  • Rune
  • Monsoon
  • Tune
  • Baboon
  • Honeymoon
  • Typhoon
  • Loon
  • Goon
  • Soon
  • Spoon

True Story – My Angel Visit

This actually happened to me–I had an angel visit. Rather, I had TWO angels visit me once. Here’s what happened:

I was in my late 20’s, living in a nice little second floor apartment in Goffstown, NH. I had a good job, a boyfriend and was making a comfortable living. One day I was informed that the company was cutting back due to the recession, and as I was the last one hired, I was let go.

No problem, I thought–I can get another job. So I interviewed, and interviewed…..and interviewed. I couldn’t get a job as soon as I wanted one, so I took on two “pick-up” jobs to pay the bills. I did housekeeping for a family in the next town, and worked as a laborer for a neighbor friend of mine (who later became my Crankee Yankee, funnily enough). He and his crew were demolishing a building in nearby Manchester, so I stripped wallpaper, swept floors, cleaned tile; whatever was needed.

It soon became apparent that I couldn’t make ends meet. My parents and my grandfather gave me money to cover my rent and expenses for two months; I thought ‘surely I’ll have a job by then!’

But no full-time job appeared, and I grew worried. The day came when I sat at my kitchen table, looking down at a crumpled $5 bill and a $1 bill. My little savings was gone, and that was all the cash I had. I felt I just couldn’t ask my family for more money. However, the rent was due again, the electric company was threatening to shut my lights off, and my used car badly needed two new tires.

On top of all this, my boyfriend had just informed me that he felt that we ‘should see other people for a while.’ So I told him to see all the people he wanted to; I was done seeing him. True, the relationship wasn’t perfect, but I missed having a “someone” in my life.

I thought, “I’m doing everything I can to get a job, I have a college degree, I have two part-time jobs, my family has helped me out and I still can’t get on my feet.”

I remembered how thrilled I had been finally to have an apartment of my own. My good-sized bedroom had old-fashioned rose-patterned wallpaper that I loved, a big window opened out to the back yard, and there was a sprawling lilac bush that grew right beneath it. In the spring its scent wafted through the whole apartment. My kitchen was perfect for one person, and my little living room had a built-in bookcase for all my books and seashell collection. I hated the thought of having to leave this first home of mine if I could no longer afford it.

While I sat there in front of my $6, I looked up at the top shelf of the hutch, where my angel collection was displayed. My grandmother had given me an angel figurine for each birthday and Christmas for years, and I loved them all. We had shared a strong belief in angels and loved to talk about them. My grandmother, whom we all called “Ba,” had died the year before, and I still missed her and the angel stories.

“Angels show up when they’re needed,” Ba always told me. “They watch over us and sometimes they even visit us.” Gloomily, I thought of how nice it would be if angel showed up with a good job for me.

I got so tired of worrying about everything that I put my head down on the table on my crossed arms, and I must have dozed off.

The sound of a loud muffler just outside my window woke me up. I looked out the window, and saw a big white car covered with red dust parked at the curb beside the house. A large older woman with reddish-gray hair squinted up at the window and waved; I waved back. A short balding man got out of the passenger side.

“Can I help you?” I called out.

“Are you Jane?” the woman asked. I wondered how she knew my name, and answered, “That’s me. What can I do for you?”

The woman smiled up at me, and waved a small booklet and said, “Do you still have that turquoise jewelry you advertised?”

“Um, sure!” I said, and ran down to unlock the door.

As the couple walked in, they introduced themselves, and I put on a pot of tea.

As it was steeping, the woman said, “Today is our 40th wedding anniversary and my husband said I could have anything I wanted.” Still smiling, she flipped to a well-worn page in the booklet, and said, “So, do you still have the turquoise squash blossom necklace, bracelet, earrings and ring for sale?”

“Is that the Super Penny Saver?” I asked. The man and woman nodded. “But I put that ad in a year ago, and they don’t keep ads that long.”

“Well, this is an old copy, but I’m hoping you still have everything,” said the woman, her blue eyes shining. I remember thinking how bright and clear those eyes were; like the untroubled eyes of a happy child. I told her I did indeed have everything and went into the bedroom to get the box containing the jewelry.

I showed them both the heavy silver and turquoise necklace, and the matching bracelet, ring and earrings. The woman  exclaimed over everything, and her husband just smiled and sipped his tea.

“I love it all!” the woman exclaimed happily. I gave her a hand-mirror so she could admire herself in the earrings and necklace.

“We’ll take everything. How much?” asked the husband. I had priced the whole set at $450. I thought it was a fair price, but doubted they would want to spend that much. But I thought of the rent, the electric bill and two tires I needed, and hoped that the price wouldn’t be an issue.

To my surprise, they didn’t bat an eye. The husband nodded, and took out his checkbook. I was speechless; I couldn’t believe that this was actually happening. It was then that the woman looked at me with those clear blue eyes, covered my hand with her large freckled one, and said, “now that our business is over, I want to know all about YOU.”

For some reason, I  felt so comfortable with them that I told them everything; how I had lost my job and my boyfriend, how hard I was trying to find work, and how much I missed my grandmother. To my surprise, I found I had tears in my eyes.

The woman said, “You know, in our little town I’m known as something of a ‘people reader.’ You are a strong young woman, and you haven’t let these temporary problems get in the way of trying to improve yourself and your life.” She looked into my eyes and said, “And you’re not afraid of hard work, either.”

I thanked her and was a little embarrassed about getting so emotional in front of two strangers. The woman smiled and said, “I think you are going to be very surprised at how quickly things will turn around. Something wonderful is right around the corner for you.” She patted my hand and her husband wrote me a check for $450.

By this time I felt like we were old friends, and the woman hugged me, and said, “our names and address are right on the check. I want you to write to us and tell us how you’re doing.”

She hugged me once more and told me again that things were going to change soon in my favor. I didn’t believe it for a minute, but I felt a lot better after their visit. The $450 paid the rent, the electric bill, the tires and bought several bags of groceries.

In exactly one week, I had a new job, earning more money than I ever had in my life. Once my expenses were paid, I could be even save some money. I also adopted a small gray cat who was wandering the street were I did my laundry, and I named her Billie. I realized for the first time that I didn’t miss my old boyfriend at all.

One night as I was getting ready for bed, I pulled out the address I had from the check that the man and woman had given me, and wrote them a letter. I told them all about the new job, Billie, and how much I enjoyed meeting them. I told them that they were right—good things had happened. I dropped the letter into the mail box the next day and thought no more about it.

Several days later, the letter came back stamped “No such persons/no such address.”

“It couldn’t be,” I thought. I had put the check in the bank and it had cleared with no problem. How could this be? They had sat right in my kitchen and had even drunk tea at my table. Who were these people?

Then I thought of Ba and how she always said, “angels show up when they’re needed, and sometimes they even visit us.”

“What do you mean, you don’t have chocolate chip cookies??”

These days my life is pretty much all around my mom and dad (please see “The Last Days of a Legacy: Part 1”). Mom is dying of metastatic breast cancer, and I am up there in Wolfeboro each day and stay overnight a few nights. While mom is doing remarkably well, her mobility is limited and she tires easily. She is basically either in bed or in one of her chairs; dining room, living room and den. We have wonderful Hospice care for her, and that is helping my dad and I greatly.

Now, while I am there with her, in addition to helping Dad, doing the occasional load of laundry, getting meals ready, etc., I also like getting Mom what she wants. These days, it’s all about the sweets. She expressed a desire for chocolate chip cookies the other day, and, being too lazy to make them myself, I made a run downtown to one of our local bakeries.

The one I would have thought would have been the epitome of cookie-age was a huge disappointment. I walked in the door, saw the trays of pastries, buns, croissants, and so on. I asked the girl behind the counter for a dozen chocolate chip cookies, and she looked at me as though I had lobsters crawling out of both ears.

“Um–chocolate chip cookies? Do you, like, mean the tube of cookie dough?”

I did a visible head shake.  Did I mean the tube of cookie dough? Seriously?!? Why on earth would I go to a bakery to ask for a tube of cookie ick when I could have gone to the grocery story and bought one? For that matter, why would I even BE in a bakery if I wanted a tube of cookie dough?

So, speaking slowly and enunciating clearly, I said, “No, I am looking for BAKED, READY TO BUY chocolate chip cookies. Do you have some for sale?”

The girl goggled at me again, and said, “no, we don’t have those,” as if I were absolutely crazy to think that a bakery would carry baked cookies, especially chocolate chip ones….is there some kind of chocolate chip cookie persecution going on these days that I should know about?

So I thanked her (for what?) and left. I drove to the local bookstore, *The Country Bookseller, which is not only a terrific bookstore, but a font of local information as well. I threw open the door like John Wayne storming into a saloon, and asked, “Where can I find really good chocolate chip cookies?” Both women in there looked at me and said as one: **’Butternuts’!”

I thanked them and tore over to Butternuts and grabbed up a dozen and a half of delicious fresh chocolate chip cookies and brought them home. The look on my mom’s face was well worth the running around.

But honestly, can you even believe a bakery that not only does NOT have (or, from the tone of the girl with whom I spoke, will probably NEVER have any) chocolate chip cookies? I mean, she looked as if I’d asked for a kidney.

…hey, I never thought of this before now, but maybe that bakery is a front for buying and selling kidneys! Who knew??

*The Country Bookseller is indeed a stellar bookstore, but also sells the most delicious deep dark coffee and some great pastries as well. If you are in Wolfeboro, please stop in and check out their books. You will be both amazed and very happy.

**Another great local store, selling not only great chocolate chip cookies, but fabulous bread (get there early before they run out), soups and salads and every kind of cooking utensil you can imagine.

There May Be a Blip in Service..

Hi everyone. As you may know, my mother is dying of metastatic breast cancer. Since June, she has steadily declined with mobility issues and bone pain. She is mainly in her bed, or in a chair, and while she is chipper, positive and extremely funny and has many visitors and phone calls, nature is taking its course.

I am up there at Mom and Dad’s house each afternoon, and stay until she is ready for bed. For now I am staying overnight two days per week, and may have to increase that. So if I miss posting each day, please forgive me. As I love this blog and love all of you, I hope that you will understand.

To anyone out there on this same journey–I am with you, and you are in my prayers. We walk together, and we will get through this together. Let’s enjoy the time we have.

 

 

 

Doodle Therapy

I’ve doodled all my life. I draw hearts, flowers, cats, little cartoons, designs (I fell in love with zentangles, too), faces, Egyptian eyes, angels, fancy borders and seashells. It’s relaxing and harmless. If I have a felt pen in my hand, I automatically start making little pictures that please me.

I’ve read that people doodle for many reasons; it helps some people to think better, or it’s a stress relief, or just a way to express ideas. I do it for fun, and just because I love the thin, sharp black lines of all my “doodlage.”

Some say it’s a waste of time; I see it as a way to stretch time. Certainly no one will see my doodles in a museum, nor will I become famous because of them. They are a harmless, easy way to bleed off energy and stress.

Perhaps my little drawings say something about who I am or wish to be; perhaps they are just doodles and nothing more. But looking at where I am in my life right now, doodling is a little get-away.

Writer Sunni Brown, author of “The Doodle Revolution,” says this:

“Writers (Mark Twain, Sylvia Plath, Franz Kafka, to name a few) and inventors (Thomas Edison) were avid doodlers.

“Whenever you look at a notebook or a journal from any intellectual or hard-core creative, you see doodles,” Brown says. “There’s a reason for that.”

“Our highly visual brains see words as images, she says. Doodling, which unites different neural pathways in the brain, opens us up to greater insights, better information retention and higher levels of concentration, getting us closer to those coveted “a-ha” moments, she argues.

“Rather than being a sign of disengagement or distraction, doodling keeps our mind occupied and focused, she argues.”

I say that doodling is a little gift we give ourselves. It is a creative way to listen, too. I don’t feel right unless I have a finepoint black Sharpie in my hand. If  I’m talking with someone on the phone, I always doodle. It somehow enhances the conversation.

It is said, interestingly enough, that people who doodle are good thinkers and have good imagination. What a great excuse for doodling! Just tell any doodle nay-sayers that you are only enhancing your mind.

Works for me!

It All Comes Down To This

These days I drive up each afternoon to my parents’ home to help put my mom to bed. It’s more than that, though–we talk and we laugh at old jokes and memories, and I rub her feet while we talk.

It becomes harder for her to remember each day that I am coming over; I call her from the road and she is so surprised and happy that I am going to be there.

She has limited time on this earth, and the metastatic breast cancer that is slowly taking her life makes her mobility and pain a little worse each day. Some days toward nightfall she is a bit confused. Hers is a gentle form of sundowning, and we all roll along with it. We tell her that everyone forgets things from time to time, and that it’s all right.

Often she cries a little, and we get through that, too. During the days, she loves visitors and phone calls, and most days are good days. Her appetite is excellent, and she enjoys the lovely and thoughtfully-prepared meals that dear friends bring over for her and my dad. I myself have made more soup than I ever have before in my life. Much of our produce from our garden; fresh, crisp broccoli, jewel-like cherry tomatoes, larger peach-yellow tomatoes and zucchini, and soon (hopefully) some of our late-plants peas–ends up in their refrigerator.

My dad will be 91 this Saturday; seven years older than my mom. He wants to be there for her and care for her, as do I. Although we both know that the cancer will take her in the end, that end is not yet here. So while she is with us, we cherish all those minutes and hours and days. My dad and I are closer now than ever, if that’s possible; another gift of this time.

We do not fear death; my mom and dad and me. We know that it is simply a gentle call back home where we all will be someday. I have been told that people in my situation have “anticipatory grieving.” While I would rather just enjoy what time Mom has left with us, I still find myself flooded in tears imagining that last day.

I ask myself if I have done enough, am I doing enough now, have I told her often enough how much I love her, have I made her know that, because of her, I can stand alone in this life with confidence? Does she understand that it was she who showed me all that a person can be? Can you ever say “I love you” enough? I don’t know the answer to that, but I say it over and over and over again.

It all comes down to this–my being there for my mom is my entire focus. The time is soon coming when I know I will be staying there for days and nights on end; that’s all right. Bless the Crankee Yankee who, when his mother was dying at home, wouldn’t leave her side for a minute. He has lived through the sorrow of losing a mother; he knows that simply being there trumps everything.

So–here we are, my mom and dad and I, sharing one more life experience together. We have shared so much else together, all through the years, and this time is good time.

More Jokes!

Ok, everyone–it’s time for more jokes. Life is short, but laughter is long. Oh, and by the way, if you are offended by the Jewish jokes, please know that I am Jewish by marriage. So I can tell Jewish jokes, the same way I can tell Mainer jokes because I was born in Maine.

…did I ever mention that this is a non-PC blog? Enjoy the laughs!

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It’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and a man makes his way to his seat right at center ice. He sits down, noticing that the seat next to him is empty. He leans over and asks his neighbor if someone will be sitting there. “No” says the neighbor. “The seat is empty.” “This is incredible,” said the man. “Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Stanley Cup and not use it?” The neighbor says, “Well, actually, the seat belongs to me. I was supposed to come with my wife, but she passed away. This is the first Stanley Cup we haven’t been to together since we got married.” “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. That’s terrible… But couldn’t you find someone else, a friend or relative, or even a neighbor to take the seat?” The man shakes his head. “No,” he says. “They’re all at the funeral.”

Two campers are hiking in the woods when one is bitten on the rear end by a rattlesnake. “I’ll go into town for a doctor,” the other says. He runs ten miles to a small town and finds the town’s only doctor, who is delivering a baby. “I can’t leave,” the doctor says. ‘But here’s what to do. Take a knife, cut a little X where the bite is, suck out the poison and spit it on the ground.” The guy ruins back to his friend, who is in agony. ‘What did the doctor say?” the victim asks. “He says you’re gonna die.”

A guy is sitting at home when he hears a knock at the door. He opens the door and sees a snail on the porch. He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can. Three years later, there’s a knock on the door. He opens it and sees the same snail. The snail says “What the hell was that all about?”

Two campers are walking through the woods when a huge brown bear suddenly appears in the clearing about 50 feet in front of them. The bear sees the campers and begins to head toward them. The first guys drops his backpack, digs out a pair of sneakers, and frantically begins to put them on. The second guys says, “What are you doing? Sneakers won’t help you outrun that bear.” “I don’t need to outrun the bear,” the first guy says. “I just need to outrun you.”

A guy dies and is sent to Hell. Satan meets him, shows him doors to three rooms, and says he must choose one to spend eternity in. In the first room, people are standing in poop up to their necks. The guy says “no, let me see the next room.” In the second room, people are standing with poop up to their noses. Guy says no again. Finally, Satan opens the door to the third room. People are standing with poop up to their knees, drinking coffee and eating danish pastries. The guy says, “I pick this room.” Satan says okay and starts to leave, and the guy wades in and starts pouring some coffee. On the way out Satan yells, “O.K., coffee break’s over. Everyone back on your heads!”

A guy joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence: he’s allowed to say two words every seven years. After the first seven years, the elders bring him in and ask for his two words. “Cold floors,” he says. They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him back in and ask for his two words. He clears his throats and says, “Bad food.” They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him in for his two words. “I quit,” he says. “That’s not surprising,” the elders say. “You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here.”

My grandfather always said, “Don’t watch your money; watch your health.” So one day while I was watching my health, someone stole my money. It was my grandfather. (Jackie Mason)

Two guys are walking down the street when a mugger approaches them and demands their money. They both grudgingly pull out their wallets and begin taking out their cash. Just then one guy turns to the other and hands him a bill. “Here’s that $20 I owe you,” he says.

A Jewish grandmother is watching her grandchild playing on the beach when a huge wave comes and takes him out to sea. She pleads, “please God, save my only grandson. I beg of you, bring him back.” And a big wave comes and washes the boy back onto the beach, good as new. She looks up to heaven and says: “He had a hat!” (Myron Cohen)

I went to the psychiatrist, and he says “You’re crazy.” I tell him I want a second opinion. He says, “Okay, you’re ugly too!” (Rodney Dangerfield)

They say animal behavior can warn you when an earthquake is coming. Like the night before that last earthquake hit, our family dog took the car keys and drove to Arizona. (Bob Hope/Gene Perret)

A guy shows up late for work. The boss yells “You should have been here at 8:30!” he replies: “Why? What happened at 8:30?”

Last night I went to a 24-hour grocery. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, “Hey, the sign says you’re open 24 hours.” He goes: “Not in a row!” (Steven Wright)

I can’t think of anything worse after a night of drinking than waking up next to someone and not being able to remember their name, or how you met, or why they’re dead. (Laura Kightlinger)

I was on the subway, sitting on a newspaper, and a guy comes over and asks “Are you reading that?” I didn’t know what to say. So I said yes. I stood up, turned the page, and sat down again. (David Brenner)

Two Irish guys are fishing. The first guy reels in his line and sees that he’s snagged an old bottle. As he’s taking it off the hook, a genie pops out and promises to grant him one wish. “Turn the lake into beer,” he says. The genie goes “Poof!” and the lake turns into beer. He says to the other guy, “So what do you think?” The other guy says, “You jerk. Now we’ve got to pee in the boat.”

TV commercials now show you how detergents take out bloodstains, a pretty violent image there. I think if you’ve got a T-shirt with a bloodstain all over it, maybe laundry isn’t your biggest problem. (Jerry Seinfeld)

A father is explaining ethics to his son, who is about to go into business. “Suppose a woman comes in and orders a hundred dollars’ worth of material. You wrap it up, and you give it to her. She pays you with a $100 bill. But as she goes out the door you realize she’s given you two $100 bills. Now, here’s where the ethics come in: should you or should you not tell your partner?” (Henny Youngman)

A guy tells his psychiatrist: ‘It was terrible. I was away on business, and I emailed my wife that I’d be back a day early. I rushed home from the airport and found her in bed with my best friend. I don’t get it. How could she do this to me?” “Well,” says the psychiatrist. “Maybe she didn’t see the email.”

I have a large seashell collection, which I keep scattered on beaches all over the world. (Steven Wright)

My sister was with two men in one night. She could hardly walk after that. Can you imagine? Two dinners! (Sarah Silverman)

My wife and I took out life insurance policies on each other — so now it’s just a waiting game. (Bill Dwyer)

I was coming back from Canada, driving through Customs, and the guy asked, “Do you have any firearms with you?” I said: “What do you need?” (Steven Wright)

A lady at a party goes up to Winston Churchill and tells him, “Sir, you are drunk.” Churchill replies, “Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober.”

I was so ugly when I was born, the doctor slapped my mother. (Henny Youngman)

I bought a box of animal crackers and it said on it “Do not eat if seal is broken.” So I opened up the box, and sure enough… (Brian Kiley)

A guy asks a lawyer what his fee is. “I charge $50 for three questions,” the lawyer says. “That’s awfully steep, isn’t it?” the guy asks. “Yes,” the lawyer replies, “Now what’s your final question?”

Stuffed deer heads on walls are bad enough, but it’s worse when you see them wearing dark glasses, having streamers around their necks and a hat on their antlers. Because then you know they were enjoying themselves at a party when they were shot. (Ellen Degeneres)

An old woman is upset at her husband’s funeral. “You have him in a brown suit and I wanted him in a blue suit” The mortician says “We’ll take care of it, ma’am” and yells back, “Ed, switch the heads on two and four!”

A Catholic teenager goes to confession, and after confessing to an affair with a girl is told by the priest that he can’t be forgiven unless he reveals who the girl is. “I promised not to tell!” he says. “Was it Mary Patricia, the butcher’s daughter?” the priest asks. “No, and I said I wouldn’t tell.” “Was it Mary Elizabeth, the printer’s daughter?” “No, and I still won’t tell!” ‘Was it Mary Francis, the baker’s daughter?” “No,” says the boy. ‘Well, son,” says the priest, “I have no choice but to excommunicate you for six months.” Outside, the boy’s friends ask what happened. “Well,” he says, “I got six months, but three good leads.”

There’s always one of my uncles who watches a boxing match with me and says “Sure. Ten million dollars. You know, for that kind of money, I’d fight him.” As if someone is going to pay $200 a ticket to see a 57-year-old carpet salesman get hit in the face once and cry. (Larry Miller)

I went to a restaurant with a sign that said they served breakfast at any time. So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance. (Steven Wright)

When I went to college, my parents threw a going away party for me, according to the letter. (Emo Philips)

I knew these Siamese twins. They moved to England, so the other one could drive. (Steven Wright)

A lawyer dies and goes to Heaven. “There must be some mistake,” the lawyer argues. “I’m too young to die. I’m only fifty five.” “Fifty five?” says Saint Peter. “No, according to our calculations, you’re eighty two.” “How’s you get that?” the lawyer asks. Answers St. Peter: “We added up your time sheets.”

A man goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, my brother’s crazy, he thinks he’s a chicken.” The doctor says, “Why don’t you turn him in?” The guy says, “We would. But we need the eggs.”

I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for member. (Groucho Marx)

Sincerity is everything. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made. (George Burns)

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea. If this is tea, please bring me some coffee. (Abraham Lincoln)

New York now leads the world’s great cities in the number of people around whom you shouldn’t make a sudden move. (David Letterman)

Last night, it was so cold, the flashers in New York were only describing themselves. (Johnny Carson)

At the airport they asked me if anybody I didn’t know gave me anything. Even the people I know don’t give me anything. (George Wallace)

I want to have children, but my friends scare me. One of my friends told me she was in labor for thirty six hours. I don’t even want to do anything that feels good for thirty-six hours. (Rita Rudner)

Mario Andretti has retired from race car driving. That’s a good thing. He’s getting old. He ran his entire last race with his left blinker on. (Jon Stewart)

Three comedians are shooting the breeze at the back of a nightclub after a late gig. They’ve heard one another’s material so much, they’ve reached the point where they don’t need to say the jokes anymore to amuse each other – they just need to refer to each joke by a number. “Number 37!” cracks the first comic, and the others break up. “”Number 53!” says the second guy, and they howl. Finally, it’s the third comic’s turn. “44!” he quips. He gets nothing. Crickets. “What?” he asks, “Isn’t 44 funny?” “Sure, it’s usually hilarious,” they answer. “But the way you tell it…”

My grandfather is hard of hearing. He needs to read lips. I don’t mind him reading lips, but he uses one of those yellow highlighters. (Brian Kiley)

I always keep a supply of stimulant handy in case I see a snake, which I also keep handy. (W.C. Fields)

A car hits a Jewish man. The paramedic rushes over and says, “Are you comfortable?” The guy says: “I make a good living.” (Henny Youngman)

Waiters and waitresses are becoming nicer and much more caring. I used to pay my check, they’d say “Thank you.” That graduated into “Have a nice day.” That’s now escalated into “You take care of yourself, now.” The other day I paid my check – the waiter said, “Don’t put off that mammogram.” (Rita Rudner)

We had a depression fair in the back yard. A major game there was Pin the Blame on the Donkey. (Richard Lewis)

Animals may be our friends. But they won’t pick you up at the airport. (Bobcat Goldthwait)

I was thrown out of NYU. On my metaphysics final, they caught me cheating. I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me. (Woody Allen)

Two old actors are sitting on a bench. One says: “How long has it been since you had a job?” The other actor says “Thirty two years — how about you?” The first actor says, “That’s nothing. I haven’t had a job in forty years!” The other says, “One of these days we’ve got to get out of this business!”

Two old ladies are in a restaurant. One complains, “You know, the food here is just terrible.” The other shakes her head and adds, “And such small portions.” (Woody Allen)

I had a cab driver in Paris. The man smelled like a guy eating cheese while getting a permanent inside the septic tank of a slaughterhouse. (Dennis Miller)

L.A. is so celebrity-conscious, there’s a restaurant that only serves Jack Nicholson — and when he shows up, they tell him there’ll be a ten-minute wait. (Bill Maher)