To the Forgetful Ones

When the dish soap is all gone,


When the last of the peanut butter is on a sticky knife (with a fly trapped in it),


When there is one sheet of toilet paper on the roll,

REPLACE IT! (or you’ll find that roll under your pillow)

When you’ve made your sandwich,


When you see that I’ve just mopped the kitchen floor,


When the phone is ringing and I’m in the shower,


When you use a tissue to blow your nose,

THROW IT AWAY! (You’re not going to use it again, and we have about a dozen boxes of Kleenex)

When you have eaten everything on your plate except for one pea, a scrap of potato and a teaspoon of stew,


Speaking of the above, when you’ve saved half a cupcake for two weeks in the ‘fridge and I’ve eaten it,




The Positive Effect of Smiling

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have been noticing that a whole lot of people are driving around, walking around, biking around, and hanging around looking both angry and miserable.

It isn’t apparent why they look this way, but I’m guessing that, like all of us, they have their problems and issues.

We can’t know what’s going on in another person’s life. All we can see is their outside.

In our lives, things happen over which we have little or no control. The best we can do is to roll with the punches, and hope for better days. There appears to be no reason for many of the things that fall into our lives—there you are, on the road, obeying the speed limit, listening to your favorite music. It’s a beautiful day, and all appears to be right with the world.

Then BANG—you are sideswiped by another vehicle and all of a sudden, you are on the side of the road with a flat tire and a smashed-in bumper. What’s the reason? Why did this happen to you? How did you possibly deserve this?

Some things just have no answer; things can just happen. So, what can you do? Since there isn’t a way to predict the future (for now, anyway), all you can do is the best you can do. You can prepare, be ready for any emergency you can think of, and so on, but things will happen that are beyond your control.

I don’t like bad things happening to me anymore than you do. However, the only thing I know to do is to be as prepared as best I can, and to try to stay positive. Also, I keep a smile on my face.

I’m not saying that a smile will keep you safe from a crazy driver, a moose running out in front of you on the highway, or slipping on a banana peel and breaking your arm.

But what it does do is to keep you feeling good. It also gives people you meet an almost involuntary response of smiling as well.

Where this works the most for me is at the grocery store, where everyone seems to be in a mood about something, or while driving. I know that when I see someone smiling, it always makes ME smile. I’ll admit that it’s a funny phenomenon, smiling, but it does seem to work.

*Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D has this to say about the positive effect of smiling:

“Scientists and spiritual teachers alike agree that the simple act [of smiling] can transform you and the world around you. Current research (and common sense) shows us that a smile is contagious (1). It can make us appear more attractive to others. It lifts our mood as well as the moods of those around us. And it can even lengthen our lives (2).

Each time you smile you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness.”

How about that? I don’t know about you, but I am going to face this day with a smile on my face. I would much rather my face have smile lines than frown lines.

Smile on, everyone!

*From Psychology Today.

Now That I Have the Time…

“Now that I have the time” is a beautiful phrase. It means that, besides being retired, I have the time to do things I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do when I was working. For instance, there are many words and phrases I tossed off all the time, and I realize now that I didn’t always know what precisely what they meant.

So now I have the time to look them up. I also have the time to check the spelling of some words. For years, I scornfully corrected people who said, ‘espresso,’ because I KNEW it was pronounced ‘expresso.’ And I usually added a supercilious eye-roll.

Well, guess what—they were right all along and I was not. It IS ‘espresso.’ How I wish I could track down every person I corrected and apologize—and buy them an espresso.

Now I have the time to take the time to look things up, learn new things, and step out of my old hurry-hurry habit. Some of  the words I thought I understood (but didn’t take the time to look up) are these:

  • Machiavellian: of or relating to Machiavelli or Machiavellianism; suggesting the principles of conduct laid down by Machiavelli; specifically:  marked by cunning, duplicity, or bad faith.

  • Entropy: a measure of the capacity of a system to undergo spontaneous change, or a measure of the randomness, disorder, or chaos in a system.
  • Byzantine: of, or pertaining to, or characteristic of Byzantium, its inhabitants, or their culture. Of or designating the ornate, intricate style of architecture developed from the 5th century A. D. in Byzantium. Highly complex: ‘a Byzantine plot.’
  • Arcanum mysterious or specialized knowledge, language, or information accessible or possessed only by the initiate —usually used in plural, or elixir.
  • Solipsism: a theory in philosophy that your own existence is the only thing that is real or that can be known.
  • Pyrrhic victory: a victory in which the victor’s losses are as great as those of the defeated. Also called Cadmean victory. Named after Pyrrhus, who defeated the Romans at Asculum in 279 BC but suffered heavy losses.

…and the list goes on.

I am a fast reader, and I miss a lot because of it. Now that I have time, I can slow down and fully enjoy what I am reading. That has been the hardest thing of all; I have a lifetime habit of gulping down pages, racing until the end.

This was usually because I had other things to do, other obligations to attend to, so reading (my favorite pastime) took a back seat. I am still training myself to S-L-O-W down. I’m still working on that one.

There is also time to finally learn how to be a decent system administrator of my own computer. For years I worked in businesses where the resident tech guy handled everyone’s computer. No one but that guy was supposed to monkey with your computer, so at the time I thought, ‘good deal–one less thing for me to do!’

However, it made me become extremely stupid with my own home computer; I knew nothing about anything more than blogging, using MS Office, doing work from home, emailing, and using the Internet.

Case in point: the computer I am currently using was purchased in 2011, and sadly, a computer lifespan isn’t much more than 5-6 years. So of course things are getting slow, backups sometimes don’t work, and I can no longer get my computer to “see” my camera, and so on.

I do have a great tech guy to consult, and he has frequently taken care of my computer issues. While looking for a new computer, I have been doing the ‘don’t pay too much but pay enough for a decent system’ dance.

Can you believe it—I honestly did not realize that all the computer-y stuff is in the desktop tower. I don’t know where else I thought it would be, but there you are—my excuse is that I’m half *Luddite on my mother’s side.

Then there is/was the housekeeping stuff, the cooking stuff, the planning stuff, etc. There is always something to do, tasks I should have done but didn’t (but still need to get done).

These days I gauge my energy and feelings first, then decide if I will take those on today, or simply wait until tomorrow. Because now, why rush? Finally there is time to take time.

As I have only been retired for a year, I am still new to this. But I can tell you that I really like it. Really. For the first time in decades I can say, ‘if it doesn’t get done today, it will get done tomorrow.’ And I can also say, ‘y’know what? I don’t feel like doing <insert tiresome chore here> today. I’m going to go to a movie!’

Life is good, especially so since I now have the time to really enjoy it.

*Luddite: 1. One who fears technology; or one of a group of early 19th century English workmen destroying laborsaving machinery as a protest; broadly : one who is opposed to especially technological change.



Believe in the Best Possible Outcome

I am having a right knee replacement done next week. After years of race-walking, karate, hiking and mountain climbing, my poor old knee needs help. I have done my mandated physical therapy, which has helped greatly. As the knee is now bone-on-bone, the exercises of course are for strengthening the muscles around the knee. I have a great doctor doing the surgery, and a dear friend (who also had this doctor for her knee replacement) has kindly lent me her walker to use post-surgery.

I know that I will have more physical therapy to do afterward, and that I won’t be using a pogo stick any time soon. But I also know that everything will go well and that I will be able to be more active again, to walk and hike again, and best of all; chase after my two fabulous granddaughters.

In every surgery I’ve ever had, everything has gone well. I have a routine that I go through each time I have surgery, and it works for me. First, I imagine (and say out loud) that everything is going to go perfectly and that I will be fine afterwards. Second, I call on my angels to watch over me. Third, I say a prayer for the doctors who will be working on me; I ask blessings on their brains, hearts, hands and feet (remember, they are on their feet a long time!). This time I will also be asking my mom to watch over me; I know that she will.

Of course I realize that anything can happen at any time, even during the most simple procedure. But I focus on the positive, and pull in all that positive energy to help me through. I go in with full expectation that I will be fine before, during and after.

Last June when I had my lumpectomy for breast cancer, I asked the anesthesiologist to say to me as I was going under, ‘I am going to be watching over you and keeping you safe. You are going to be fine.’ I also asked the doctor to speak to me while I was out, saying ‘you are going to be fine. I took care of everything.’

It is both funny and strange how that works; but it does work. I felt confident and cared for before and after surgery. My doctor at that time also added while I was going under, ‘now go to sleep and dream of George Clooney.’ I struggled up through the fog and said, ‘no, not him—Jeffrey Dean Morgan!’ Worked for me!

My point is to have a positive outcome in mind during this. I know that I will be hurting for a while, but my plan is to do everything the physical therapist asks me to do, and keep moving forward. I am not going to be a hero and ‘power through,’ I am going to be a healthy sensible person who understands that recovering from surgery will take time and effort. But I am up for it.

How wonderful it is to live at a time where you can actually get a new knee! Or hip or shoulder. Now, about that new brain…..nah, my old one is still good.

PS: I may miss a few posts while recovering, but in the words of the Terminator, “I’ll be back.”


My Dad is 92 Today

My amazing dad is 92 today. It is a wonderful milestone, and cause for celebration. Not only has he reached this age with grace and goodness, but also in good health, a sound forward-thinking mind, joyful spirit, good humor and a heart that holds endless love, generosity and appreciation.

In previous posts I have written about how he met my mother and me, the subsequent marriage, and his adopting me. We were “wee three” for many wonderful years.

There have been endless poems and stories about what makes a dad a dad, but I know what makes Dad my dad. He was and has been there for me all my life from four years old on up until now. For everything I did that meant anything to me, he was there.

The things only a father can teach you, he taught me. He made sure that I could take care of myself and not have to rely on a boyfriend or husband to take care of me. In one week, he taught me how to use a jackknife without cutting myself, to make a perfect campfire and how to put it out successfully, and how to change a tire.

When I was old enough, he also taught me how to target shoot, and was very clear and serious about gun safety. He made sure that I understood the responsibility of owning and using a gun, and from then until now, I have a great respect for them.

When I was old enough to learn how to ski, he taught me how, and he bought me my first pair of skis. More than that, he taught me to pay attention to weather conditions, people skiing around me, and also caring for my equipment, including how to wax my skis for all types of snow conditions.

Before we moved into the house my dad now lives in, we had a terrific apartment on a hill that went right down to the lake. There was a dock that we could swim from, and in the winter time when there was ice on the lake, Dad build me the best *flying saucer run you could ask for.

It started at the top of the hill, and went all the way down to the lake. He made a short jump at the bottom, so I’d go flying down the slope, hit that rise and go airborne for a few exhilarating seconds, then land WHANG on the ice. It was great!

He taught me how to make paper airplanes, and I remember one rainy, giddy afternoon that we made a bunch of them and sailed them down the long hallway. Afterwards, we had sock races down that same hallway. I remember thinking how much fun it was and how I loved it that he could get silly with me.

So many, many years have gone by, and we have gone through so much together, good and bad. When I had to put my sweet cat, Billie, down, I was living in Texas and felt so sad and alone. I called my parents to tell them about it and broke down. I remember Dad saying softly, ‘oh Janie, I am so sad for you. I know how much you loved her.’ Somehow that made it all right, and I stopped hurting.

When the Crankee Yankee and I married, he and Mom were so happy for us. We had the most beautiful wedding in their back yard. Dad had a beautiful white trellis set up, and there was a big pot of white flowers hanging from it. Mom made our wedding cake, and Dad took all the pictures. It was a lovely day in May, and Mom and Dad made it wonderful.

When we lost Mom last year to cancer, we worked with hospice home care together. Dad was the main caretaker, and I helped out. Together we cared for Mom and made her as comfortable as we could. The three of us spoke our love and care for each other over and over again. There were millions of kisses and hugs.

There was a lot of laughter and some tears, but mainly there was love and kindness and joy. It was a sweet and precious three and a half months for us all. When Mom died, she had our love to carry with her, and to this day we feel her love for us.

Dad and I have become an army of two, and together we talk, share memories, and speak from our hearts. We tell each other that we miss Mom, but we know she is near.

Our relationship has become sweeter with what we have lived through together. We have laughed and wept and talked about all our time together, both with and without Mom. We both believe that the relationships we have on earth go on after we leave it.

I do not know what kind of person I would have been without my dad in my life. I am happy and grateful for him being my dad. Our relationship has grown and flourished and flowered over the years, and I am thankful for every moment.

For years and years in our family, birthdays, holidays, get-togethers and get-aways were celebrated with a flute of good champagne. Today is such a celebration, and whether or not we are lifting our glasses to my beloved dad, I know that Mom is raising one in Heaven (after all, that’s where the really good champagne comes from!)

Happy 92nd birthday, Dad. You are loved beyond all measure.

*Flying saucers used to be a round piece of metal (looked like a shield), and had straps to hang onto. You sat on it, grabbed the straps and pushed down a snowy hill. Inevitably, the thing would turn you around backwards, adding the extra thrill of not knowing where you were going.









Stop Pulling Your Own Strings!

I have a confession to make: I am a former (and trying hard not to be a present) string puller. When I think of all the time and effort that I put into trying to manipulate people and circumstances into what I wanted, I can only laugh at my idiocy.

What a wasted effort it is to try to wrestle things into the way we feel that they should go! Honestly, it’s like that old saying that you can’t teach a pig to sing—it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

So, what do we do when we feel that we must run everything ourselves; when we try to pull our own strings? Certainly we can do lots of positive things for ourselves on a daily basis; eat healthy food, drink lots of water, do moderate exercise a few times a week, maintain our homes, vehicles, etc.

But what about those things that are not so positive that we do to ourselves?

What about all the worrying we do? I don’t know about you, but when I allow my mind to spin out of control, then visions of home invasions, terrorism, hurricanes, hacked bank accounts, lost pets, deadly diseases, a huge meteor smashing into the earth, crop failures and the zombie apocalypse dance crazily in my head. (Well, not all at once—that really would be nuts!)

Since I can let myself become a card-carrying over-thinker, here are some things I’ve learned that really do help:

  • I’ve said this before and still stand by it; call on good old archangel Michael for help. My morning plea to him is always this: “dear archangel Michael, please take any bothersome, worrisome, disturbing thoughts out of my head and keep them out, please.” Just saying this out loud creates comfort; you have done something to drive the spooks out of your head, and you will feel better just knowing that.
  • Clear yourself: either sitting or standing, bring your left hand up to your right shoulder and brush down the length of your arm to your fingertips. Repeat on the other side. Now use your left hand to “pop” energy out of each finger on your right hand; just hold the end of each finger and perform a short pulling motion (that’s the “pop”) on each finger. Repeat on the other side. This releases energy and helps clear your mind. You may also place one hand on the top of your head, put your fingers together (as you would if you were picking a flower) and press down. Now pull your fingers up to “pop” energy from your crown chakra.
  • Say to yourself at least 15 times out loud, “all is well.” Simple, but effective.

Let’s face it, things aren’t always going to go our way; that’s how life is. The trick of it all is to learn from what first appears as a setback. Example: when I was let go from my job last September, I was hurt, angry and upset that no one would tell me what I had done wrong (if indeed I did do anything wrong). Quite frankly, it hurt my feelings and made me doubt my skills.

Well, I chewed on that for months. But I knew pretty quickly that losing that job was a gift from the Universe. Mom had just been placed in home hospice, and Dad and I were caring for her.

There is no way I could have kept that job and helped my mom and dad. Losing that job was a gift and a blessing. It was just as if some intelligence had said, ‘ok, you are going to be very busy for a while, and you need to clear your time to be with your folks now.’

Because I lost that job, I had many lovely days and nights with my mom and dad. I was able to help out and support my dad, the main care taker; as well as spend precious time with my mom. I can honestly say that I am grateful to have lost that job; I would have missed out on so much. Besides, what’s more important; family or a job?

So how about we all just stop pulling our own strings. There are a great many positive things that we can do for ourselves, but when things become overwhelming, we need not worry. Worrying without a plan is time-wasting and just fritters away our lives.

When I hear or read anything disturbing, I ask myself if there is anything that I can do about it. Nine times out of ten, there isn’t. So then why worry about it? Be informed, be aware, be careful, be smart, certainly.

But let’s leave those strings of ours alone, shall we?


Young People Who Are Changing the World

I’m sure that I’m not the only person who has noticed that, amid all the horrible things going on in our country, there are some extraordinary young people who are doing good things. It seems that they are born to care about other people as well as growing their talents in ways that help people and the planet.

Two of the many areas of positive change by young people are food and music. Those who love cooking come from all kinds of backgrounds and circumstances, and they all share a love of preparing food and feeding others. I enjoy cooking competition shows, especially Chopped Junior.

This is a competition between young cooks to win both money and status as becoming a Chopped Junior champion. When they are asked what they plan to do with their money, most of them have plans to go to culinary college, start a small food-based business or donate to a local food pantry, etc.

The kids who compete have made it their business to take classes in culinary arts, or they have learned how to cook from their families. They are all proud of their various cultures, and enjoy making meals incorporating the flavors from their cultures. Some of them have part-time jobs in kitchens where they learn cooking from the ground up.

Some have already begun taking part in feeding the homeless by donating their time to help prepare meals in shelters. Others have started their own small businesses such as teaching children their own age how to prepare healthy and good-tasting meals. They are positively driven to feed people, and they deeply believe that food is love when prepared by loving hands.

Then there is music. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am a huge fan of Grace VanderWaal, the 12-year old girl who writes and sings her own songs, accompanied by her ukulele. She won this year’s America’s Got Talent contest. She is brave but shy, honest but self-effacing, brilliant but humble, and her voice and lyrics are mesmerizing. At this time many people, old and young, grownups and children—all are playing and singing her songs.

Although you might not compare her to protegees such as Mozart, anyone listening to her seems to fall under the spell of Grace’s thoughtful lyrics, her unique voice, her humility and her strength. I feel that she is an old soul, come back to Earth as this lovely and amazing child with a voice that resonates in hearts everywhere.

But for all that, she is still a 12-year old girl; at turns silly, happy, poised, generous and delighted with life and music. She is unfailingly grateful for her success, and continues to be modest about herself.

This is a wonderful young person with a message to us all, and that is that we all shine. We all matter. We all have our place in this world, and we all need to celebrate our uniqueness. I believe that this child came into the world to bring hope and to remind us all that we are here to love and to be loved.

Part of her original song, “Light the Sky,” follows. The line I love best is “I think we were born to shine;” isn’t that what we are all here for? That this young girl, with her sparkly headbands and candy bracelets and her sweet smile—can light up the world, is proof that we all do indeed shine.

“You and me, me and you
We will shine through
You and me, me and you
We will shine

Cause my head is spinning
And my feet off the ground
And I can’t stop dancing
Like no one’s around
And yeah I think we were born to shine

Cause the stars are dull when they’re compared to you and I
And if people don’t like it then they can close their eyes
Cause’ we’re not the same and we don’t have to try
We’re brighter than fireflies, we’re gonna light the sky!”

I believe with all my heart that these amazing young people are on a mission to make this country and our entire world a better place. I believe that this is their time to shine, their time to help heal the world with positive change. They are here to remind us that we all are born to shine.


Products for the Paranoid Cat Owner

I admit it, I’m more than a little paranoid about our four cats; Nala, Pookie, Plumpy-Nut and Tinker. I am always bugging the Crankee Yankee to check our window and door locks, and to make sure that there isn’t a crack or hole or space of any kind upstairs (or as we call it, “Renovation City”) that any of our cats can slink out of without our knowledge. While Plumpy and Tinker are indoor/outdoor cats, they wear collars (reflective, of course) with their name tags, address and phone number and their Home Again tags (they were strays that we had been feeding and sheltering for months, so we finally just adopted them).

But just in case Nala and Pookie, the indoor/outdoor cats, should get out, they too wear collars with their ID and Home Again tags. It is probably overkill, but better safe than sorry. All this made me think of some great products for pet-owners like me who continually think up bizarre circumstances about their cats disappearing, etc. So, in no particular order, here’s my list so far:

  • Cat Carrier Security Strap – For cat carriers, since I don’t trust that I may one day pick one up with a cat inside, only to have it break open like a pinata, spilling the cat out into the dangerous territory of the world—a sturdy canvas strap with a padlock on it. This would go around the carrier to insure that it never breaks open; then you only have to unlock the padlock.
  • Attachable Safe Catio – custom-made “catio” ready to attach to the house; complete with one large room that is wall to wall grass and catnip so that they get that ‘roll in the garden’ fun, another room with cozy sleeping areas (complete with waterproof roll-down curtains in case of a sudden rain), and a circular area about 10′ high surrounding a tree so that they can climb in safety. All rooms of course will have sturdy ceilings to discourage birds of prey.
  • Safe Kitty Walkway – For those times with Plumpy and Tinker are outside, a sturdy covered walkway over the street (but not high enough to mess with power lines and heavy trucks) so that they can safely get across the street and back without danger. How will they stay on the walkway, you may ask? Easy—each step releases a treat and/or a live field mouse.
  • Alarm Cat – a special alarm set up in the house so that should any cat slip out of the house unnoticed, a loud alarm will go off, and cast a net over the escapee.
  • Broadcast Alarm Cat – a special alarm on the cat’s collar that reaches every frequency in the immediate area; cell phone, SmartPhones, etc. that yells loudly that one of our cats is crossing the street. Extra Accessory – personal drone GPS’d for each cat with ‘catch and carry’ comfortable cage; brings ’em home safe and sound.

Since our four cats are our babies, we tend to think way outside of the box (no, not the cat box) when it comes to their health and safety. Well, ok; it’s really me who would buy each and every one of those devices. The Crankee Yankee knows better and worries less, God bless him!.

So, if any rich inventor reading this wants to collaborate with me on these and other cat safety items, you just let me know.