The Privacy of Politics

Am I the only person who feels that politics and religion are private matters? I get it that everyone has an opinion; that’s good and everyone has a right to have their own feelings about them. It’s not that I don’t care about politics and religion; I do, deeply. Should anyone ask my opinion about one or the other or both, I’ll talk. But I will always preface it with this verbal warning label: “these are my own private beliefs, and you certainly don’t have to believe them. These are personal matters that pertain to me, and I do not seek to start an argument or lose a friend over them.”

Generally I choose not to engage in these two subjects; but that’s just me. Why? Because the it’s the inevitable backlash of talking about them that cranks up everyone’s blood pressure. I don’t push my opinions into anyone’s face (granted; I used to when I was a lot younger and ignorant), and I don’t want theirs pushed into mine.

Also, ever since I was old enough to vote, I considered it my business, and mine alone. I am always surprised when, after an election, people will ask “who did you vote for?” I never give them an answer because it is my business who I voted for. To me, it’s as personal as someone asking you how much you weigh or when you plan to have a baby or why don’t you color your gray hair? Same answer: “*nunya.”

People can be very passionate about their beliefs about politics and religion, and that is absolutely their right. It’s good to be involved and care about what’s going on. But just to rant and rave just for the purpose of ranting and raving to me serves no purpose except to rile up peoples’ negative emotions.

Last December, I was at a Christmas party which the Crankee Yankee and I attend each year. We were all having a grand time until the “politics” table in the kitchen got into a loud argument. There was finger pointing, ramped-up voices, accusations, and some people were already starting to stand up to fight for their particular cause.

It was pretty tough to ignore, but thankfully it stopped when one of our friends suggested that they “agree to disagree.” It didn’t go over well, but it did stop all the acrimony. This is just one example of why I despise having a “discussion” about politics and/or religion. The discussion always gets louder, more aggressive and in-your-face hostile. It makes me sick just being around it; it’s like walking through a cloud of burning trash.

I have lived long enough to see arguments about politics and religion split up marriages, families and friends. In my book, it just isn’t worth it. There are things in our lives that are personal and should stay that way; sort of like my underwear drawer (trust me–no one wants to see that!).

I get that politics and religion can spark some pretty impassioned speech. For example, although I do not start up talks about those two topics, I do get quite passionate about things I think are right. Such as this: I reserve the right to put my toilet paper on the roll so that the paper comes out under, not over, because that’s how I like it and it works for me.

Why? Here’s why: when your toilet paper end goes over, not under, and you have a cat that just loves to scratch on it so that you end up with an empty roll and a self-satisfied cat sleeping on a pile of toilet paper, you’ve got a problem. When your toilet paper end goes under, not over, then the cat will only be twirling it around and around and around. Eventually they will tire of this and go lie down somewhere else and sleep.

 

*”Nunya” means “none of your business.”

 

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Fun With Funerals

When my parents and I had the talk about what they wanted for funerals, I listened. We picked out caskets, their “final outfits,” and, for Mom, the songs she wanted at her funeral. The last song was from the Fred Astaire movie, “Cheek to Cheek:”

“Heaven, I’m in Heaven
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak

And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we’re out together dancing, cheek to cheek

Heaven, I’m in Heaven
And the cares that hang around me thro’ the week
Seem to vanish like a gambler’s lucky streak
When we’re out together dancing, cheek to cheek

Oh! I love to climb a mountain
And to reach the highest peak
But it doesn’t thrill me half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek

Oh! I love to go out fishing
In a river or a creek
But I don’t enjoy it half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek

Dance with me
I want my arm about you
The charm about you
Will carry me thro’ to Heaven

I’m in Heaven
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek.”

It was a heck of a way to end a funeral on a great note. At that, the tears stopped and the laughter began.

Dad, on the other hand, had made it clear that he wanted no funeral, just a graveside service. I made sure he got that, and, despite him saying that no one would show up for it as most of his friends had died long ago—there was a crowd of people there who cared for him, despite the rain that day.

So, I have done my due diligence for my parents; there they are in the Lakeview Cemetery, side by side in their caskets.

Not to be disrespectful, but that gives me the creeps. For me personally, I hate the idea of of being locked up in a box for all eternity. And cremation? Too hot (I hate the heat) and puts too many chemicals into the air. Donating my body to science? Well, at least it would be helpful. But I’m still kind of “meh” about it.

Now if only they could freeze-dry me like a can of coffee, that wouldn’t bother me. I’d rather be too cold than too hot. And yes, I do realize that, being dead, I wouldn’t feel anything, still all the above creeps me out.

So—what to do about my  funeral? For me, it’s the “green cemetery.” (Look them up; it’s pretty interesting.) Basically, you go to ground with no vault, no casket, just a blanket wrapped around you. This way my body will nourish the soil, help grass and flowers grow, and, should a hungry coyote dig me up and eat me—well, I’d have saved the life of another animal. In fact, if it were possible, I’d just as soon have my corpse thrown to the wild animals.

The other good thing about it is that it’s relatively cheap, too. Those annoying commercials on TV are right; funerals are expensive. From what little I’ve read so far about green cemeteries, it’s about $545 and BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanket). Even if I left plenty of cash for my relatives to bury me, I’d still rather they tossed me into the ground, wrapped in my blankie, and let the bugs eat me. This way they’d have the money to have a huge party or whatever they wanted. (My relatives, that is—not the bugs.)

So, call me crazy, but I’d just as soon be part of the earth once I’ve slipped my mortal coil.

Now, lest reading this is a complete downer for you, let me throw in the famous funny sayings about death from the movie “Patch Adams”:

“To die. To expire. To pass on. To perish. To peg out. To push up daisies. To push up posies. To become extinct. Curtains, deceased, demised, departed and defunct. Dead as a doornail. Dead as a herring. Dead as a mutton. Dead as nits. The last breath. Paying a debt to nature. The big sleep. God’s way of saying, ‘Slow down.’”

And my personal favorite from the Brits: “she’s gone tits-up.” Wouldn’t that be eye-catching on a headstone!

 

The Pond in Winter and Other Wonders

Yesterday we had a mild and sunny day, with the temps in the low 40s. It was the perfect day to walk around the pond I often write about. It was warm enough to turn the path to mud, and there was that soft crackling sound of ice melting and bumping up against each other.

Where the pond had more running water, the ice had broken itself into squarish pieces. It looked like a mosaic, with dark water in the spaces. You could almost imagine skipping from one block to the other to get to the other side of the pond.

It was the kind of day where you could easily believe that spring is just around the corner. Birds were singing, and seagulls soared overhead, squawking their displeasure at not being able to rest on the water, and the sky was a light china blue.

Each time I walk around the pond, I think of my grandmother. She was the one who introduced me to nature; she would point out the different birds and their habits, tell me which flowers to look for in the early spring, where the frogs went in the winter time, and so on.

It’s almost as if she is walking along with me, nudging me to look, really look at the miracles all around me. She knew the habits of the squirrels, the birds, the shy rabbit who lived in the meadow, the flowers, trees, frogs and bugs. Everything I know about nature comes from her.

Because of her, I know that the frogs and turtles dig themselves deep into the soft mud at the bottom of the pond to sleep through the winter. I know that the red-winged blackbirds get pretty fractious in the spring when they are guarding their nests. I know that the great blue herons will stand in the shallow water like statues until they strike swiftly at their prey. I know not to go near poison ivy from her admonished verse: “leaves of three, let it be.”

I’m grateful for the lessons I learned from my grandmother. Each time I walk the path around the pond, I know she is urging me to pay attention to even the smallest wonder.

 

Scammers, Scammers Everywhere

Note: this is a cautionary post about what we have experienced ourselves, not a slam on all businesses.

Well—I thought that the Crankee Yankee and I had winkled out all the usual telephone scams and were pretty “scam savvy” by now. We have been through the old “Sir or Ma’am, your computer has just informed us that it has problems and we need to fix it.” The Crankee Yankee took care of that one pretty fast: he asked the caller which computer he was  talking about.

The caller, understandably confused, asked how many computers we had. The Crankee Yankee replied, “52; which one has contacted you?” The caller said, “are you a business?” The Crankee Yankee said, “yes I am.” The caller then asked what sort of business it was. The Crankee Yankee replied: “cyber security.” The caller hung up quickly.

And of course there have been other scammers who call now and then. We usually just hang up on them.

But, as we all know, just when you think you’ve heard it all, you haven’t. For years I have been sending Harry and David gift baskets to family and friends for the holidays. This year I ordered a Valentine’s Day basket full of fruit, cookies, cheese and candy to send to our granddaughters and their mom and dad. Easy-peasy as always. Until it wasn’t; a few days later I got a call from the company saying that my selection was no longer offered and could they send something else?

I happened to look at the phone number and noticed it read “1-800-FLOWERS.” Which made me suspicious and also because the woman calling had a marked foreign accent. Now, I am not slamming people with different accents; it’s just that in all the years I’ve used Harry and David, this number never came up, nor did the person ever have a foreign accent.

I decided to just cancel the whole thing and go to another company. I asked them to please just refund my money. I was offered a better, more expensive basket for the same price, and politely turned it down. I was then offered discounts and more offers. I thanked the woman and said that all I wanted was a refund.

I got exactly seven more phone calls trying to get me to take another basket, more discounts, etc. Each time I said, no, I only want my money back. I wasn’t rude, I didn’t yell, I just repeated that I was no longer interested in sending a basket and just wanted the refund.

When I got the eighth call, I said that I wanted nothing more than a refund. I told the person on the phone that this was the eighth call I’d gotten, and because of this I no longer wanted to do business with them. They very reluctantly agreed to refund my purchase.

I found another place to get a gift basket out and it was received on time with no problems. I checked my Paypal account and saw that my original order had finally been refunded. I was glad to see the end of this. However, after two more days, we got another phone call. This time the Crankee Yankee picked it up.

He was told ‘so sorry, but the refund we sent you actually was supposed to go to another customer. Would you please give us your credit card number so that we can take back the money we sent you, return it to the correct person and then refund you again?’

After he stopped laughing, the Crankee Yankee told them that that was not going to happen. The mistake was theirs, not ours, and that we certainly would not be giving them our credit card number. (Seriously, who would?!) And isn’t it the company’s fault, not ours, that they made this mistake? (If indeed it was a mistake.) It’s not as if we were trying to scam them; we received the refund we asked for, and nothing more. Done and done.

I did a bit of research and found that Harry and David had sold out to 1-800-FLOWERS two years ago for a cool $142 million dollars. I’m guessing that my piddly little order isn’t going to be even a blip on their bottom line. I don’t think that they will go under because of my departure.

Scammers are everywhere, so watch out!

 

A Moment in Time

This post is dedicated to the people who lost their lives yesterday in the Florida high school shooting, those who lost family members and friends, and all those whose lives have been changed forever. My prayers go out to you all.

They came to school as every day—

Leaving home with books and dreams

A moment in time; the same routine

Is new for each sunrise

We live our lives day to day; a moment in time,

Imagining the days and years to come—

High school graduation

College graduation

New job

A life companion

New home

Babies

A moment in time toward the future.

But those lost yesterday have lived their lives

In only a handful of years.

So much behind them, there was so much ahead—

They have gone on, unwillingly halted in this life,

Leaving grief in their wake

And their futures gone.

How do we live through this?

How do we reign in our anger and tears

Where is there an answer in this moment in time?

Those who have gone from us

Are with us still—

Just left too soon.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Well, here we again on Valentine’s Day. When I was a little girl, Dad always gave me a little heart-shaped box of chocolates; Mom got a much larger one. It didn’t matter in the end, because I always got into her’s. I was famous for biting off a corner of a chocolate; if I didn’t like it, I put it back in the box. Mom always referred to these as “spit-backs.”

Years ago when I was again single after my divorce, a fellow I worked with asked if we could go out to dinner together on Valentine’s Day as neither one of us were seeing anyone. I agreed. Of course, everywhere was packed with lovers of all ages, and we got a kick out of watching them all.

Funniest of all was the name my “date” gave the hostess for when a table was available. My friend was over 6′ tall, muscle-y, and had the kind of death-ray stare that intimidated everyone who didn’t know him well. (He really was a pussy cat; just looked scary.)

To that end, he told the hostess the name to call when our table was ready: “Dumbass Sh*thead.” The hostess looked confused, and asked him to spell it. He did, only he pronounced it “dumbaz shy thad.” I did my best not to laugh right then and there. But when his name boomed out over the loudspeaker, I just lost it: “Table for two for Mr. Dumbass Sh*t—oh, CRAP!”

Suffice it to say, we had a lot of fun not specifically having Valentine’s dates that night.

Bless the Crankee Yankee’s heart; he always asks me what I want for Valentine’s Day. He never has been very comfortable about giving me gifts; he worries that he will somehow disappoint me. So instead he takes me shopping. I pick out what I want, he pays for it, and we are both happy.

The Crankee Yankee  would rather have me pick out something I like rather than guessing. This Valentine’s Day he bought me a beautiful necklace I picked out on Etsy. It is a lovely sterling silver tiny crescent moon pendant with a tiny diamond in it, on a sterling chain. I absolutely love it.

When I ask him what he wants, he always hugs me and says, “I’ve got you; that’s plenty!” Of course, the five cats and I usually get him something; a big bag of roasted cashews, another backscratcher, a Dunkin’s gift card, and so on. After all these years, it really isn’t the gift, it’s the thought, the love, the remembrance and the time together.

I remember that first marriage of mine; for any occasion I received loads of jewelry, vacations, and clothes. What I didn’t get was a good husband. Not that gifts on a special day are a bad thing, but I came to realize that those gifts were only a cover-up for bad behavior, lying and cheating on me. Needless to say, we divorced with no harm done.

I have known the Crankee Yankee since we were both in our 20’s. We both had first marriages that failed, and we both went our separate ways for a few years. When I was living and working in Texas, I got a phone call from him. At the time, he was a long-distance trucker. When he called he said that he was going to be passing through Dallas in a few days and would I like to have dinner with him? I did.

We got caught up on each other’s lives, and stayed until the restaurant closed. A few months later he called to invite me to his daughter’s graduation from West Point in May of 2001. He told me that she had also recently become engaged to a fellow West Point grad, and would be having a West Point wedding in September. He asked if I would like to go with him for that, and I accepted both invitations.

We had a wonderful time at the graduation, and we spent a lot of time talking. We caught each other up on our failed marriages, and laughed about not wanting to get married again—ever.

Well, by the time we went to his daughter’s wedding, we were engaged. All the reservations and fears I had had about marriage melted away when he proposed to me. He had been my friend for years, and I knew what a good and faithful man he was. And now, nearly 16 years later, here we are on another Valentine’s Day.

The Crankee Yankee is my best Valentine’s gift ever!