Why So Angry?

Have you noticed how angry a lot of people are today? It seems that you rarely see a smiling face anymore. Driving on the highway is nerve-wracking these days, and sadly, road rage has become the “new normal.” Even on our little street there are incidents that are scary; people hurling epithets to others and then driving off way too fast.

Back when I was a kid, traffic was slower and fewer people drove. When you backed out of a parking spot on a busy day, you could count on the traffic stopping to allow you to get out safely. You always waved a ‘thank you’ to those behind you.

Back then we didn’t have crosswalks. Drivers watched out, especially in town, where some old lady with her dog would totter across the street. Walkers were always allowed to cross the street; that’s just the way things were then.

If you were coming down Main Street and saw someone waiting to pull out of a side street, you waited (unless there was a line of cars behind you), and waved them out. The other person would smile and wave back as a ‘thank you’. I rarely see that anymore!

These days you need to keep your head on a constant swivel because there will be people who are not paying attention, who may be yapping on their phones or texting, or who may have so much on their minds that they are too distracted. You have to watch out for them because they are not watching for you.

Added to this is the fact that many of the newer vehicles have been “dumbed down” so that they can park themselves, parallel-park, and so on. While admittedly this is helpful, in many cases people aren’t paying attention because their car is doing the thinking for them. Kind of a slippery slope, doncha think?

My dad used to say that there were so many people on the planet now that we are starting to feel the stress of it all. He felt that we all need to find a way to get along with each other as there are so many more of us than there used to be.

I agree. I think the way to start is to change our attitude. There is too much in this world of “me first and to hell with you!” thinking. Here are a few things I’ve been doing to help my own situation:

  • If I get angry at someone’s selfish and reckless behavior while driving (and I often do), I flip them off—well out of sight. They don’t see it and I feel better.
  • If someone is trying to pass me on the highway, I let them do it. I’d much rather be behind them than in front of them if they’re going to be that aggressive.
  • If I see someone behind me in the “Cash Only” lane at the toll plaza, *I pay the toll for the person behind me. Why not?
  • I smile at people as much as I can. They probably think I’m a lunatic, but it makes me feel better.
  • When a sales person greets me at the register with a “how are you today?” I say that I’m fine and how are they?

…and so on. And just so you know I am so far from being a saint bringing peace, love and joy to the planet, I still hate it when waitresses call me “honey,” “dearie,” “darling,” or “sweetheart.” The best I can do in that situation is to just grin and bear it.

Hey, I never said I was perfect!

*I’d say that maybe once in twenty times I get a thank-you wave from the driver behind me, but that’s not the point. The point is to do something nice for someone just for the heck of it.

Listen to Your Heart

I did not post yesterday because my heart needed attention. I had chest pains and discomfort for most of the night before. I grew up with what the doctors back then called a “heart stutter” (skipped heart beats now and then), but it was never anything serious.

Back in January of this year, I was all prepped to have a lesion removed from the side of one eye. It was discovered that I had occasional AFIB. Nobody was more surprised than me; I never felt a thing. So of course they canceled the surgery.

The chest pains, although not horrible, were worrying, so I called my doctor. She advised me to go to the Emergency Room to be checked. Being me, I grumbled all the way to the desk, and they saw me immediately.

I was advised to stay overnight in the hospital so that they could monitor my heart. I wasn’t crazy about being away from the Crankee Yankee and the cats all night, but it was the right thing to do.

Long story short, I had tests done, went through a stress test (on a treadmill; they want your heart to be pumping at 130), and got my results back. Fortunately, there was no AFIB, no heart damage, no signs of a heart attack, etc. It was just my “heart stutter,” which made more of an impact because of my age.

So, now that I’ve bored the pants off you, the real reason I am writing this is to let you know how important it is to listen to your heart. As you may know, heart problems present differently for women than for men. I learned some of the symptoms women may experience. The following information is from the American Heart Association:

  1. “Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.”

I personally have some risk factors for heart trouble: hereditary high triglycerides and high cholesterol. Plus, being older, I’m far more at risk for heart trouble. I am sharing this with you all to let you know how important it is to pay attention and listen to your heart. Should anything feel different or uncomfortable, don’t wait; head straight for the ER.

Don’t take chances. You are vitally important to your family and friends and neighbors. You matter, you are valuable, and there is only one person like you in the entire world.

Please, listen to your heart.


Late People

No, I don’t mean dead people, I mean people who are chronically late. When I lived in Texas, I used to work with a guy who was late for everything. Not only that, but he was rather tight with his money as well. So when I found out that he had signed up for a kayaking weekend and had paid for it in advance, I figured that he certainly wouldn’t be late for that.

Nope—he wasn’t just a little late; he was seven hours late. To this day it boggles my mind that someone could be that late to anything. My mother had a name for late people; an FFA: “Freddy Fart-Around.” This guy was all that and more

I truly don’t believe that people like this actually mean to late. Also, I don’t think that they are trying to irritate their friends by being late, they just lose track of time. They become so wrapped up in doing ‘just one more thing’ that they end up late for everything.

However, there are consequences to being late. Some people just go about their business, and if the FFA misses the boat, too bad. Others just tell their FFA to be there an hour earlier than necessary. So if dinner will actually be at 7pm, you tell the FFA to be there by 6pm. That means that they should be there around 7pm. Or thereabouts.

There are many theories about why some people are always late. While it doesn’t necessarily bother the person who is late, it bothers the hell out of those who are waiting for that person. Regarding the FFA I used to work with, I learned to just go on without him. Once I waited for him at the movie theater for so long that by the time he strolled in, the only seats available were about five feet from the screen. I came home with a stiff neck.

My take on late people is that they are who they are, whether or not they mean to be late.  I think that some people are just wired to be late. It’s one of things you have to roll with; either accept them as they are, or you can just drop them like a hot potato.

When I left Texas to come back to the Northeast, I kept in touch with my FFA friend  for a while. He used to tell me that he really wanted to find ‘the right girl’ and get married and have kids. Mind you, at the time he was nearly 40.

But sure enough, a few years later, I got a phone call from him, telling me that he had married a friend of his and that they were very happy. I knew this woman, and she was every bit as ditzy and as late as he was. She was in her early 40s, and I seriously doubt that they ever got around to having kids……

They probably are thinking that they will “get around to it.” I have my doubts.



Summer Suppers

It’s been pretty hot and humid here in the northeast, and when it’s that hot, nobody wants to cook. Even heating up a bowl of soup in the microwave sounds like too much work. Of course there are always the salad-and-sandwich suppers; cool and low maintenance.

But there are other options for hot weather meals. The following are five of my favorites because they are not only delicious, but are pretty easy to prepare. In no particular order, they are:

“*Iron Sandwiches” – these are great on hot nights and are also great for picnics. They are a take-off on paninis, which are wonderful, but not a lot of fun to make on a hot night.

“Salad With Meaty Bits” – make your own salad (or just go buy a salad kit) and add in chopped ham, chicken, feta cheese, olives, shrimp, leftover steak, etc.

“Mediterranean Plate” – pick up a few tubs of hummus (my own favorites are lemon, red pepper, garlic, and pine nut). Fill up a platter with baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cut-up green or red peppers, celery sticks, sliced zucchini and cukes, etc. Add some sticks of string cheese, rolled up ham or salami, and open up a few boxes of crackers, and start dipping. (Great with a glass of wine.)

“Lettuce Cups” – using Boston lettuce (they very obligingly curl up into “cups”), fill them with chicken or seafood or ham salad. Cut up a loaf of crusty bread, and serve either with butter, or put out small cups filled with olive oil with a little balsamic vinegar drizzled in and a sprinkle of rosemary.

“Strawberry Shortcake Miracle Supper” – If you’re a Yankee like me, “real” strawberry shortcake starts with homemade biscuits, not spongecake. You can either make your own and freeze them, or buy some at a bakery. In any case, split the biscuit in half, ladle on as much strawberries and their juice as possible, and top with whipped cream. Again, homemade is better, but of course you can buy it in a spray can.

FYI: I am not going to dignify using that product that sounds like “fool pip,” either.

The story of how strawberry shortcake became a summer supper began when I was in grade school. It was a very hot evening, and I had just come home from playing with a friend. Mom and Dad were sitting on the front porch eating strawberry shortcake. 

This was so far from normal that I actually held my breath. My mother always made nourishing and delicious meals, and no one ate dessert until the meal was over. As I stumbled up the porch stairs, Mom gave me one of her “well, so what?” looks and said, “it’s just too hot to cook, so we’re having dessert for supper.”

I never forgot how wonderful it was to eat dessert for dinner. I highly recommend it.

*Directions for the “iron sandwich,” so named by my mother:

Split a sub roll, and spread with mayo or mustard or whatever you prefer. My personal favorite is cilantro lime creamy salad dressing. Fill the roll with cold roast beef, onions, pickles and arugula (or whatever you like), then wrap the sandwich tightly in waxed paper.

Put it in the ‘fridge and press it with a flat iron (or a heavy plate, etc. You get the idea.) This is why they’re called “iron sandwiches.” Flattening like this melds all the flavors together, and trust me; it’s a wonderful thing.

Losing It…Maybe, Maybe Not, But Probably….

As I am soon to turn 66, I think more and more about age and age-related afflictions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Then there is joint trouble, heart issues, nerve damage and a host of other non-lovely things that may happen. And of course I’ve been doing the “what did I walk into this room for?” for years now.

My eyesight is getting worse; no surprise there; it happens. The other day I was down in the basement getting ready to start some laundry, when I realized I had a new top to wash for the first time. So I squinted to read the label to see what the washing instructions were. Well, you know how tiny the print is on the dang things, so I swore my way up the stairs to get a pair of glasses to read it.

After that, I bought reading glasses for each and every room in the house. Problem solved!

But what really scared me was when I started misspelling things, or in some cases, left out letters entirely while typing on the computer. I kept envisioning myself in a nursing home, slumped over and drooling, unable to write any longer. Well, it turns out that I am not losing it. The problem is that my keyboard was sticky and some letters wouldn’t work unless you hammered down on them.

Then there is the “I’m not deaf; YOU are!” that both the Crankee Yankee and I tell each other. To fix this issue, we got a set of walkie-talkies. This was useful when the Crankee Yankee was outside working, and I was inside, or vice-versa.

Great concept, bad follow-up. Walkies don’t have a large range, so often we couldn’t reach each other. Then we got too silly with it; he was “Red Leader” and I was “Bling-Bling” (for all the jewelry I like to wear). We kept cracking each other up until both of us didn’t want to answer on the walkies anymore.

However, just for the record, I swear people are speaking faster and softer than ever. Yesterday I stopped for a coffee at the drive-up window, paid for it and got my coffee. The girl at the window smiled and said, and I quote: “Haggagooaay!” It took me a while to realize that she actually said, “Have a good day!”

All the things I did when I was younger have come back to haunt me in different body parts: learning and then teaching Tae Kwon Do, hiking, skiing, running, aerobics, power yoga, etc. At the time I was enjoying these activities (and never woke up with an ache or pain!), it never occurred to me to think about what all of this was doing to my body.

But you know what? If someone warned me back in my 30s that eventually I would have two torn rotator cuffs, shin splints, a knee revision, a bunion on one foot and a bad back, I would have just dismissed it with ‘oh, that won’t happen to me!’

What is it that the wonderful Penn-Dutch say about age? “We grown too soon old, and too late smart!”

Ain’t that the truth!



Actually, We ARE Deserving!

How many times have we coveted something; a new car, a fabulous spa day, a trip to Madrid, bling-y jewelry, a handmade pair of soft leather boots, etc.? And how many times have we then thought, ‘oh no; that’s not for me—I don’t deserve that.’

Even when I’m in a grocery store and walk by a free sample table of some food I love, I automatically say, ‘oh, no thank you.” WHY? Why can’t I just take that delicious cupcake/slice of pizza/crunchy strip of maple bacon/etc., and just enjoy it?

I’ll tell you why in my case; I carry around a party-pooper voice in my head that says, ‘oh, I don’t think you really need that, do you?’ As if I’m not worthy enough somehow to enjoy a free cupcake. And where does that get me? Cupcake-less, that’s what!

Whenever this happens, I walk away, full of self-righteousness about not accepting something I might have enjoyed, right along with that sick feeling of ‘I really wanted that!’ What earthly purpose does it serve for us to act like some up-tight Puritan walking away from America’s first Thanksgiving (and probably delicious) dinner?

Of course there are some things we ought to back away from; a rattlesnake in a bad mood, an angry driver, poison ivy, a bear trap, piranha, spoiled meat, a nail gun you’ve never used before, and so on. You get the picture.

But denying ourselves these little harmless pleasures is counter-productive. Why not take that free cupcake at the grocery store? Why not accept a compliment? Why not look in the mirror and say “hiya, beautiful!”? Why not allow yourself a treat now and then? Why not take a little break on a busy day and do something just for YOU?

And when you do allow yourself a treat, then inhale it, enjoy it, live deeply with it and smile about it because you know you deserve it.

As for me, I’m going to go get myself a nice cupcake.