Coffee or Tea?

I have loved coffee since I was a teenager. Of course, back then there were no coffee shops with dozens of “add ins” or special brews. Coffee was just coffee. I used to drink it with cream and sugar and splash of chocolate syrup back then. But soon I just drank it black, loving the flavor of it.

The only other people I know who also share my love of black coffee is the Crankee Yankee, and my mom and dad liked it that way as well. Don’t get me wrong; we like what we like. If your thing is Sumatran light roast with Madagascar cinnamon, whipped cream, almond milk and three pumps of caramel, go for it! Me, I like coffee-flavored coffee.

Over the years I’ve learned to like some teas; mint, acai, cinnamon, green, black, etc. In the summer, we make “sun tea,” which only means that you fill a carafe with cold water, add the tea bags, mint leaves or whatever, and leave it in the sun. (However, you could put the carafe in a dark closet and it still would turn into tea.) Add a few lemon slices and a few ice cubes, and you have a good warm weather drink.

I try to keep an open mind when it comes to medicinal teas. Some really do help with digestion or colds or general discomfort. There are many kinds of teas to try; some work, some don’t. I only wish they smelled good; some brews I swear smell like boiled underpants.

If you like tea, take a trip around the Internet; you’ll see teas of all kinds that are good “comfort” teas as well as healing teas. My favorites are chamomile tea, which helps promote peaceful sleep; mint tea, which is just refreshing, and chai tea which just plain tastes good.

I’ve posted this before, but let me leave you with a pretty good cold “prevention tea”. I first heard of this while taking metaphysical classes with the amazing *Noreen McDonald. Here is the recipe:

To one cup of boiling water, add 5 drops each of tea tree oil, lemon oil, oregano oil, and peppermint oil. When this is freshly made, you might want to close your eyes as it is pretty strong. With your nose right above the cup, breathe in slowly three times. Then open your mouth and breathe in slowly three times.

Do this once an hour, then every two hours, then every three hours. This infusion is viable for 24 hours, and it really does help. PLEASE DO NOT DRINK IT! It really does seem to stave off a cold; don’t ask me why, but it works.

So, whether your drink of choice is coffee or tea or chai latte or whatever; enjoy it! It’s truly one of life’s little pleasures.

*Check out her website at

Going the Extra Mile

When I was growing up, I was expected to help clean the house, make my bed each day, sort my laundry, do my homework, and take good care of my things. We were a family of three; Dad, Mom and me. Each person did their part to keep everything running smoothly.

Neither Mom nor Dad ever slacked off on their duties, so I knew that I couldn’t slack off on mine. The few times I didn’t do my chores, I heard about it big-time. As it was explained to me, we were a family unit. Each member of the family was responsible for helping the household run smoothly. It was also explained that it wasn’t fair for my mother to hold down a job, keep the house clean, cook meals and clean up after all of us by herself.

Each family member had their own chores and responsibilities. Once all chores were done on a week day, Mom made dinner. Dad read the paper, and I fed Henny, our cat, then went downstairs to my room and did my homework.

Each Wednesday after school, it was my job to vacuum the whole house. I hated vacuuming (still do to this day), but I learned to do it right because if I didn’t, I had to do it over again until my mother was satisfied. Of course I didn’t realize it at the time, but both of my parents were preparing me to leave the home and live on my own.

To this day, I can’t go to bed unless the dishes are in the dishwasher, the stove and counter tops are clean, and everything is tidied up for the next day. It’s become my routine, and I feel unsettled if I don’t do it.

A long time ago, I found a Japanese word that meant “helpful girl.” I can’t for the life of me remember the specific word, but basically it meant “going the extra mile for family.” So while I still lived at home, I tried to be just that; a helpful girl. I began doing things that weren’t expected of me, and become happy doing those things as they saved a little time here and there for my mom and dad.

These days the Crankee Yankee and I have unspoken agreements about who does what. I generally take care of the kitchen duties, the laundry, the lists of what we are out of or are low on, keeping the calender up-to-date for appointments, etc. He is in charge of all the “heavy lifting;” getting the vehicles registered and tuned up, doing all repairs and renovations, inside the house and out. He does all the bills, reconciles every receipt and handles all the banking. Each morning he cleans all six litter boxes (five cats = six litter boxes).

He is the one who says those magic words: “don’t worry about it; I’ll handle it.” His are the arms I fell into when my mother and father died. His are the hands who hold mine when it is time to take a beloved cat to the vet for the last time. When I have needed surgery, he is the one who waits with me. When I am too tired to cook, he is the one who says, “well, then let’s go out to dinner.”

So when I am swearing under my breath about emptying the gluck out of the sink trap or cleaning the cat dishes at night or checking what we may need to pick up for groceries or doing the laundry, I realize that we are both are going the extra mile.

Complainers Who Live to Complain

For some reason, there are a whole lot of people who live to complain—about anything and everything. But it seems as though the majority of complainers seem to complain about 1) their food and those folks who bring it to them, and 2) telephone reps.

I waitressed during the summers in high school, and in my last two years of college. Believe me, I heard every snarky remark, sick joke, passive/aggressive demand, and downright nasty behavior. Customer service is rife with situations like this, and you just have to learn to ignore it or simply rise above it.

If you let it bother you, it can turn you into the kind of person you never want to be. I learned early to just ignore or “play dumb” when people were rude to me. I just kept smiling and giving good service. I tried hard not to give them a reason to complain.

When I was a telephone rep for a company that sold math and science school supplies, I learned quickly to turn a sentence like this: “You are so stupid! You must have been raised by idiots!” into “[name of company] is so stupid! [Name of company] must have been raised by idiots!”

That way it doesn’t seem so personal. And truly, these nasty comments are not about the waitress or the rep, they are about the customer’s frustration in not getting the answer they need. Often after a customer has spewed their invective all over you, the best thing you can do is to say immediately that you are so sorry that they had so much trouble and how can we help you now?

Of course, if someone will not stop cursing at you and threatening to set your house on fire, you may have to do one of two things: 1) politely ask for them to please stop swearing so that you can help them, and/or 2) ask for their phone number so that you can call them back once they cool off.

By the way, the funniest complaint I ever heard on that job was the bride who had purchased several of the butterfly towers. These were a big seller; they could be hung in the school room where the kids could watch the butterflies emerge from the pupas. At that point, the teacher would take the tower and the kids outside and release the butterflies.

The bride bought several of the butterfly towers, and wanted to release them all at her outdoor wedding. However, Nature being what it is, most of the butterflies did not emerge in time for the wedding. She was livid, and demanded to know why this happened. I reminded her that Nature is not predictable, and, in looking at her file I saw that she had been told repeatedly not to expect that all of the butterflies would be ready.

She wasn’t having it. She wanted to talk to someone “in charge” about it. I was dying to tell her that that would probably be God or Mother Nature, but of course I just passed her over to the manager.

Complainers who live to complain will be with us always. The best we can do it to help where we can, and ignore the inevitable kerfuffle.



Grateful for all the love in my life

Grateful for a happy home

Grateful for those I love

Grateful for a roof over my head

Grateful for my family

Grateful for my friends, both old and new

Grateful for love

Grateful for kindness

Grateful for freedom

Grateful for music

Grateful for laughter

Grateful for a full heart

Grateful for healthy, happy granddaughters

Grateful to be able to give

Grateful for abundant happiness

Grateful for our five healthy cats

Grateful for life!

Sick Kitty—Getting There

After a few hours at our wonderful vet’s office, Bailey (our #5 cat) is back home. He hasn’t shown an interest in food yet, but considering all he went through yesterday, that’s not surprising. I imagine it is how we humans feel after a surgery or procedure; uncomfortable, not hungry, cranky and not in the best mood.

A few good signs, though—he is back to sitting on my lap and purring. So far I have tried to tempt him with his regular food; no dice, and, as a final resort, tuna. No dice on that, either. I expect that once he gets the meds and all out of his system he will be back to his spunky self and get his appetite back.

Which makes me think of why I never had children of my own: I just knew that I wasn’t up to the task. Of course a cat is nothing like a child, but you see the similarity. I know how to keep our cats safe and healthy, I’ve learned what they like and don’t like, and I know that each cat has its own personality. When one of them is sick, I sit up with the sick one, try to get them to eat or drink, and get them to the vet when they need it. When all five cats are healthy and happy, I feel balance in my life.

Those of us who adore our animals are often viewed as “crazy cat ladies” and so on. So what; who cares? We love what we love, and we can’t help who/what we love. All we can do is to live and love the best way we can.

Even a cat knows that.

Sick Kitty

Sorry for the short post this morning; our cat Bailey has been sick all night and we’re taking him in to the vet soon. It looks like he is impacted, plus he is not eating or drinking and is listless. It’s hard to see such a spunky and sassy cat laid so low, but our vet is wonderful and we are sure that he will make our Bailey feel better.

Prayers and good thoughts, please, and thank you in advance.

It’s Only a Transition…

The Crankee Yankee and I have lived in the house in which he grew up since 2007. At that time, his mother was in home hospice, and we had moved in with her to help care for her. A lovely, wonderful, kind, funny and amazing woman, she was a pleasure to be with even in her last days. When she passed away, we were with her in her bedroom, holding her hands. Just looking at her calm and serene face, we knew that she had moved on peacefully to join all those who loved her and had been waiting for her.

Eventually, we moved into the house to stay. When my mother went into home Hospice care in 2015, Dad and I helped care for her. We had fabulous nurses from Hospice and wonderful friends who came by with meals and flowers, and who visited with Mom. Her death was a slow and gradual process, and she passed on peacefully in the bedroom she had so lovingly designed.

A year and a half later, when Dad was having trouble negotiating his house on his own, we moved him into our house. Our bedroom became his, and we slept in the living room right around the corner on the sofa bed. This way we could hear him if he needed anything during the night.

It was a blessing and a gift to have him with us, and he always said how warm and comfortable he felt and how glad he was to be with us. It got so that he mainly slept, and he too was in home Hospice care. He was comfortable and always had a smile on his face when we went in to see him. He was with us for a month and a few days, and I was privileged to be with him when he took his last breath.

Neither my mother-in-law, my mother or my dad feared death. They all looked back on lives lived well, and looked forward to the next transition. All of us felt that after our bodies die, we go back to where we came from, and will be with all of those we loved again. My mother-in-law, and my mom and dad viewed death truly as a transition—from our old and worn-out human bodies back to our spirit form from which we came.

The Crankee Yankee and I have had some laughs over things that others might find a bit unsettling:

  • We sleep in the room where the Crankee Yankee’s mother died.
  • I sleep on the pillow Mom used until the day she died.
  • We both sleep in the bed where my dad died.

Honestly, neither of us feel the least bit creeped out about any of this. My wonderful mother-in-law blessed the room in which she died. I feel comforted to rest my head on Mom’s pillow. We sleep soundly in the bed where my dad died. These things are sweet reminders of those three we loved so dearly.

And when you think about it, death really is only a transition. Just as we are born, learn to walk and talk, go to school, make friends, and go on to make our own lives; it is transition after transition. Why should the end of our human lives be any different?

It is only a transition, and who knows what wonders we will experience!

We Could Use Some Jokes…

Considering all the snow and sleet and ice and cloudy skies, we really could use some jokes these days. When I was growing up, I loved the Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, the Little Rascals, and the Marx Brothers. Even when someone pulls off a creditable impersonation of Groucho Marx (as Alan Alda often did during his time on M*A*S*H) cracks me up to this day.

The older I got, the funnier Groucho’s humor seemed. This is one of the great pleasures of getting older; you see things from a different perspective. Often the perspective is a lot funnier than you’d think.

The following are some classic Groucho Marx quotes:

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
“When you’re in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, ‘Damn, that was fun’.”
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never live long enough to make them all yourself.”
“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.”
“Humor is reason gone mad.”
“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”
“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them…well I have others.”
“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I’ll never know.”
“I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.”
“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.”

“He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.”


“Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light.”

“While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”


“I have nothing but respect for you — and not much of that.”


“A child of five could understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.”
“I intend to live forever, or die trying.”
“Just give me a comfortable couch, a dog, a good book, and a woman. Then if you can get the dog to go somewhere and read the book, I might have a little fun.”
And then there is this gem; I don’t know who said it, but it makes me laugh every time:

“A man goes to his doctor and says, ‘Doc, I can’t pee.” The doctor asks him, “How old are you?” The man replies, “91.” The doctor says, “You’ve peed enough.”

Creative Breakfasts

We have a framed sign in the living room that my mom had on the wall for years. It reads:

“To a foreigner, a Yankee is an AMERICAN.

To an American, a Yankee is a NORTHERNER.

To a northerner, a Yankee is a NEW ENGLANDER.

To a New Englander, a Yankee is a Vermonter.

To a Vermonter, a Yankee is A PERSON WHO EATS PIE FOR BREAKFAST.”

In my house, that wasn’t strange at all. Mom never liked breakfast, and she really didn’t like making breakfast. It was easy enough for me to pour myself some cereal and a glass of milk, so that didn’t bother me at all.

Often I would climb into bed with her, bearing two plates of dessert from the night before. Dad would come in before he went to work, and laugh his head off when he saw us eating pie or cake or cookies in bed.

During the summertime, when the local bakery was open early, Mom would give me 50 cents to walk downtown and buy four warm glazed doughnuts. When I got home, Mom would be drinking a cup of coffee and had poured me a glass of milk. Those were the days! Neither one of us gave a hoot about carbs or calories back then.

These days the Crankee Yankee and I have some pretty creative breakfasts ourselves. It could be leftovers from the night before (who says you can’t have coffee with warmed over spaghetti and meatballs?), yoghurt with fruit, cereal, a bagel with cream cheese, or our current favorite, the “overnight breakfast bowl.”

This is a trend I found online, and we love it. Basically, you make these these the night before and refrigerate them. In the morning you zap them in the microwave, add milk and there you have it. This is my standard recipe:

In whatever you want to use as a container, fill with:

1/3 c. oatmeal

1/3 (or less) c. milk (we use almond milk)

a squeeze of maple agava (or whatever sweetener you prefer)



cut up dried apricots

shredded coconut

sunflower seeds

flax seeds

a spoon full of peanut butter (we like the unsalted Teddie kind)

Put the cover on and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, take off the cover and microwave for a minute or so (I usually do it at a minute and seven seconds). Top with some milk and dig in. It’s a healthy breakfast that tastes good.

We have also eaten cake or pie for breakfast in the Yankee tradition, we have made fabulous omelettes, french toast with blueberries, “McFrasers” (our version of a McD’s breakfast sandwich; ham, egg and cheese on an English muffin), grilled sandwiches, etc. In the summer we make fruit smoothies, or just heap fruit on top of cereal.

It’s been years and years since those breakfasts in bed with my mom, enjoying those glazed doughnuts right off the rack. But I remember how we giggled while eating them in bed on a sunny summer morning.

Not a care in the world; it was summer and we were young.