Change of House, Change of Heart

The Crankee Yankee and I have lived in our house since 2007. During that time, he has done so much to improve the house, fix areas in it that badly needed attention, and has made improvements I wouldn’t have believed possible.

Here are just some of the changes he has made:

  • What was once the spotty grassed front yard is now a flourishing garden; eight beds full of amazing produce. Each year we have peas, lettuce, tomatoes, beets, sweet onions, garlic, arugula, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, corn, herbs and rhubarb.
  • A brand new back porch with screens and plexiglass.
  • A brand new front porch.
  • A new deck.
  • A new roof.
  • A new chimney.
  • A concrete base for our generator.
  • Crushed stone walkways throughout the garden and down around the garage.
  • A working compost heap in the back yard which makes fabulous loam for the gardens.
  • Three brand new doors; one in the *kitchen, one on the deck and one on the front porch.
  • Beautiful handmade wooden trellising all around the front porch.
  • A completely redesigned bedroom, painted a heavenly aqua.
  • A pocket door for the bedroom, and there will soon be another pocket door to the bathroom and one at the top of the stairs going down to the basement.

And there is so much more going on. I spent way too many hours pouting and ranting about the mess, the noise and the upset of living in what I dismissively called a construction zone. But a funny thing happened; I finally, finally saw the vast difference all these projects have made. In fact, just yesterday I boxed up all our books from the bookcase in the living room; the Crankee Yankee is going to be bumped out to make the staircase leading upstairs wider (as it should have been all along).

Finally, now I can not only see all the possibilities, but take part in them as well. And not grudgingly, either—now I do it with a willing heart and the new ability to see ahead. Once I dropped my attitude and started seeing the works as positive changes, and not disruptive changes, it made all the difference.

So now I am a willing participant. And do you know what? Life’s a whole lot easier this way. Now I feel that all this improving is exactly what it is: good and necessary changes. Plus I’m now having fun taking part in some ideas of my own. As a lifelong bookaholic, I have loads of books; they are old pals and I just can’t give them up. So the Crankee Yankee will be making not only one bookcase in the living, but also one upstairs in the soon-to-be “sitting room.”

What a difference a change of attitude makes!

*The old kitchen door was so close to the stove that you couldn’t open the door and open the oven door at the same time. The Crankee Yankee told me that many times his dad would push open the kitchen door just as his mom would be opening the oven door and CRASH—the dinner would go flying!


Royal Weddings and Regular Weddings

Yesterday the Crankee Yankee kindly made a royal breakfast of whole wheat pancakes studded with walnuts and blueberries and a generous side of bacon while we watched the royal wedding of Prince Harry and the lovely Meghan Markle. This makes the third royal wedding for me; I have watched and wept through them all; Harry and Meghan, William and Kate, and of course Prince Charles and Diana Spencer.

Imagine all it must take to put such a glorious occasion together, not to mention the time it takes for the actual service. Imagine for a moment having all the eyes of the world upon what is usually a rather private occasion. Imagine how even the rich and famous must feel on the day they marry the one they love with all their hearts.

Who ever we are, rich or poor, famous or not, we go to our wedding day with hope and love, butterflies in our stomachs and visions of how our lives will go on together. We may want children or not. We may want a large house and gardens, or we may be just as happy together in a tiny apartment in a big city.

Marriage and or having children is not for everyone. Many people are happy enough to live alone and make a life they alone design. Some people fear being alone and may “marry in haste and repent at leisure.” Some may jump into marriage without thinking things through to their possible conclusion; some overthink it and never marry at all.

Whether or not to marry is first an individual decision, and then an agreement with another person. It does not mean that each person has to think exactly as their partner, but that they can come together over the barriers that could divide them. Compromise is definitely part of a good marriage. And if one person has some “deal breaker” issues, then the other person must decide if they can live with this or not.

In general, we come to our own marriages with love, joy and anticipation. Those of us who had a first marriage fail as mine did can be trepidatious of a second marriage, but that’s where the leap of faith comes in. After my first failed marriage, I got cold feet on my wedding day to the Crankee Yankee.

My mother and I had planned the wedding together; it was in my parents’ backyard. We had happily collected mis-matched champagne glasses from Good Will, my mother made the wedding cake, and my dad took all the pictures. Our friends, neighbors and relatives came to celebrate with us, and let’s just say that my Mom and Dad were very happy that I was marrying a man that they already considered a son.

Since my first marriage had fallen apart, I had felt like a failure, and I had had a huge attack of the “how-could-I-be-so-stupids.” As my dad walked me around to the backyard, I said “I don’t know about this, Dad.” He gripped my arm tight and said, “Oh no you don’t—this is the right time and the right guy. Let’s go!”

So I did and have never regretted a moment of our lives together since. Oh, like any other couple, we have had our ups and downs, but we have grown together and learned together. In fact, on this coming Friday, May 25, we will celebrate our 16th anniversary. I don’t regret a moment.

In the words of Ogden Nash, one of my favorite poets, here is one of the best pieces of advice about keeping a marriage strong:

“To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.”





Sometimes It’s Just the Small Things

Often in our busy lives, we sometimes miss the small things; little treasures here and there. It can be a kind word, a smile or a quarter on the ground. It can be the liquid trill of a gorgeous red cardinal singing to his lady love. Or it can be that last half of an English muffin, crisp and warm, with a melting smear of butter.

Little things add up to big things, too. The Scots have a lovely saying about this: “many a mickle makes a muckle.” Translated, that means many little things add up to a lot of things. It can be money, or love, or hope, or an unexpected gift. It can be a compliment given when you feel especially down on yourself. Or it could just be the sun breaking through gray clouds. All and all, these little treasures pile up.

I have on my desk a small rock painted pink by my oldest granddaughter, Ava. She was nearly five at the time, and on that pink rock she painted a blue heart and a yellow heart. Each heart had a dot of the other’s color; the blue heart had a yellow center, and the yellow heart had a blue center. It is my best and favorite paperweight, and I will treasure it always.

Words of encouragement, love and hope can become lights in the darkness. We find ourselves clinging to the magic of these words when we are facing hard or bad times. Small things, perhaps, but precious small things.

Look for them and you will find them.


Fairy Rain

In these lovely days of May, the daffodils, violets, irises, blueits, tulips and so on are up and showing off their beautiful colors. The air is heavy with their scent, and, after so many months of snow and ice, it is intoxicating.

The dogwood and other flowering trees (I don’t know all their names; I tend to call any flowering tree a dogwood or a flowering crab tree) are also in full bloom. When the wind blows, it scatters the tiny pink and white petals everywhere. In fact, if you stand still near one of these fragrant trees, you will soon be covered in what I always call “fairy rain.”

It always seems like magic when you see them raining down like warm snowflakes on the wind. I remember sitting under one of the ancient gnarled old apple trees in the front yard of the house I grew up in. I would sit still and let the petals drift on and around me like a lacy blanket.

I feel the same way about milkweed; the dry brown pods burst open in the fall and the soft silver-white floss drifts out into the wind. Piloting each spindrift there is a tiny brown seed; the offspring of the milkweed plant. Off they go, twirling in the breeze like little ballerinas. They, too, fall under my category of “fairy rain.” Off they fly to where the tiny seeds can take root in the dirt and grow into a new milkweed plant. They have always fascinated me.

My godmother, the mother of my best friend and now sister-in-law, had a beautiful paperweight that I loved. In it was captured a beautiful fluff of milkweed with its seed clinging to it. To my surprise and great gratitude, last Christmas she gifted me with it. I was touched beyond words, and this lovely paperweight now is in pride of place on my jewelry armoire.

During this fleeting season of spring before summer’s full heat is upon us, please take the time to watch and appreciate those whimsical drifts of fairy rain. It’s like a short visit from a magical princess.

Two Silly Old Twits

The other night the Crankee Yankee and I decided to have an early supper at our local Mexican restaurant. I had had a bad day, so I ordered a margarita. I’ll bet I drink margaritas maybe three times a year, and when I do, I wonder why I don’t drink more of them as they are cold and so delicious.

We ordered our dinner from a very nice young man, and everything was great. However, I quickly ran out of my margarita, and ordered another one. (Now I haven’t had two margaritas in one sitting since the ’90s. I had forgotten that tequila is usually not my best friend.) It was just as good as the first one, and it went well with my chicken and spinach quesadilla.

The Crankee Yankee helped himself to a sip or two, and that’s when the mayhem began. In putting down the glass, he tipped out quite a few ice cubes, some of which landed in my plate. When I could stop laughing, I said, “oh no worries, it cooled off all those jalapenos!” Which got us both laughing uncontrollably.

Good grief, you’d think that two people of our ages could keep it together better than that, but it turned out that we just couldn’t. Our nice waiter came back and cleaned up the ice cubes, saying not to worry; he had seen much worse on Taco Tuesdays (I’ll bet he did!).

This of course got us laughing all over again. We finished our meals and boxed up our leftovers. I left a huge tip for the nice young man (he certainly deserved it for waiting on two silly old twits!), and we wobbled out of there. We made it to the car and then collapsed into more laughter.

Seriously, if you want some real entertainment, order a pair of margaritas for the two older people sitting near you. Better yet, order a round for yourselves as well. Evidently tequila turns older people into giggling silly old twits.

NB: No hangover the next day! Go figure.



If you are looking for a really good cause to donate to, please check out the *Monadnock Kitty Rescue in Jaffrey, NH. The rescue facility is run by volunteers, and they are devoted to the cats they shelter. You can see their website at, and also you can view their wish list for the things they need for the cats. This wonderful shelter was on WMUR’s Chronicle on April 26.

The Crankee Yankee and I went up last weekend to see the place. We brought some items on their wish list and a check to help out. All the volunteers who help out cleaning, grooming. and feeding dearly love the cats. The woman who showed us around each tidy room explained how they care for all the cats.

All of the resident cats, even those who are recovering from sickness, have large clean rooms with literally tons of soft, clean beds, jungle gyms, toys, transoms near the ceilings, windows, heat and A/C (depending on the time of year), and always large bowls of kibble and fresh water. There is even a room full of donated children’s playhouses (the shy cats really love those), doll beds, and so on. Litter boxes are changed regularly.

Should you bring a neglected or injured cat to the Kitty Rescue, they, unlike most shelters, do not ask for money. They will take the cat in for free, and make sure that the cat is checked out and cared for. They bring the new cat to a peaceful room with food, water, shelter and unconditional love and attention.

On the day we visited, we met the older cats who have lived happily in this wonderful shelter for 10 years or more. There were cats who arrived sick or injured and were tenderly treated and brought back to good health, and even a couple of new kitty moms nursing their kittens. Of course there were also three cute and rambunctious little kittens who were having the time of their lives wrestling each other and playing with toys.

Just about all of the cats are adoptable, and we loved the fact that they take in feral cats as well. Some of the ferals have been rehabilitated to the point where they can be adopted. Some will always be feral and because of that cannot not be adopted. However, these too will always have a loving home at the Monadnock Kitty Rescue and live out their lives in comfort, safety, good health and lots of love.

All of the devoted volunteers work hard to keep this amazing shelter running smoothly, and they operate on donations. Every little bit helps; even $5 can make a tremendous difference for these wonderful cats.

Sadly, too many people regard cats as disposable pets, thinking that they can abandon them when they are too much trouble to care for. The worst thing anyone can do with a cat that is no longer wanted is to leave them outside to “fend for themselves.” This is pretty much a death sentence for the cat. Despite popular belief that cats will just catch and eat mice and somehow survive in hot or freezing weather with no shelter is not only wrong but criminal. Domestic cats are not used to fending for themselves, and too many die of starvation, injury, neglect and disease.

However, the BEST thing anyone can do with a cat that is no longer wanted is to take it to the Monadnock Kitty Rescue or a decent shelter. This gives the cat a chance to be adopted by someone who will love it and keep it happy and healthy and with all the necessary vet visits. It is also highly recommended that, when adopting a pet, you have them microchipped so that should they get lost, they have nearly a 99% chance of getting home safely.

The Monadnock Kitty Rescue is truly a labor of love. If you can afford even a $5 donation, it means the world to these amazing volunteers who care so tenderly for these deserving cats. Every dollar goes toward keeping the shelter going and keeping the cats well cared for, healthy and safe. The Crankee Yankee and I plan to donate often to help keep this dedicated shelter running. If you choose to donate to them, please know that we are donating right there with you.

You will never regret helping these sweet and deserving cats. Please spread the word about this wonderful shelter, and please help out if you can. I don’t usually use my blog to ask for donations or help for organizations such as this, but if you could see this merciful haven for these sweet cats, your heart would be moved as mine was. Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

*Monadnock Kitty Rescue & Adoption
Jaffrey, NH
(603) 532-9444

Hours are as follows:

Saturday 9AM–1PM
Sunday Closed
Monday Closed
Tuesday 6–9PM
Wednesday Closed
Thursday 6–9PM
Friday Closed