It’s Curtains For You!

The Crankee Yankee has installed three gorgeous windows in our living room and in the office. The middle one is a double-hung, and on either side are small crank-out windows. The old windows really had to go, and these new ones give the house a whole new look. I washed them all, inside and out, and they do look wonderful.

Since we don’t have window shades, I went out to buy some “curtain rod” curtains. I found some pewter gray ones for both sets of windows, brought them home and washed and dried them. The width and length are perfect, and the Crankee Yankee installed the black wrought iron rods we had upstairs and put them up.

Now, here’s where the funny part comes in. Each and every time we put curtains up I have to remind the Crankee Yankee that the “good side” faces in, not out. I think that this is a man thing, because you would never find a woman who would put the “good side” of the curtains facing the street.

Here is how I explained it to him: “look, we bought the curtains, so we get to see the good side of the curtains.”

He still looked puzzled, so I went on: “Here’s the thing: I don’t give a fuzzy crack of a rat’s rear end what passersby think of the backside of our curtains.” He still looked a bit puzzled, so I added “if you like, I can paint red hearts on the side of the curtains facing out.”

He looked at me and said, “Now you’re just being silly.” Silly? Me? I wasn’t the one who wanted to put the good side of the curtains facing the street.

Sheesh, men—you can’t shoot them, and they’re too big to flush down the toilet.


The Rise of the Right Fighters

So what exactly is a right fighter? This is the description I found: “A rightfighter is someone who gets overly emotional or angry when people do not agree with them and their opinions or beliefs. A rightfighter is someone who insists on having the last word in an argument or refuses to back down no matter what.”

Does anyone remember the old SciFi movie, “*The Day of the Triffids?” Basically, the triffid plants start killing people. It may just be me, but it seems that we are quickly devolving into a triffidish country of a new species: the Day of the Right Fighters.

Now, I’ve always said that opinions are like anal sphincters; everyone has one. This does not mean that everyone has to agree on the same things, however. As has been said before, I do not talk politics or religion with anyone except the Crankee Yankee. Years of experience taught me that no good comes from conversations about either subject. At best, you end up hot and sweaty from trying to defend your own views, which could possibly lead to a stroke or heart attack. At worse, you lose friends and mark yourself for bullying and heckling. Seriously, who needs either?

Look, we are not all alike. We do not always march to the same drummer. I understand that we all have our cherished opinions and that is our right as human beings. That said, there should be absolutely no reason for people to harrass other people, yell obscenities at them, throw things at them, bully them, embarrass them, haunt them on social media, or threaten their lives. Seriously, would they like being treated that way?

This is not the country I grew up in. What happened to “live and let live?” What happened to the The Golden Rule: “treat others as you would like to be treated”? We are a country where freedom of speech is the right of each and every citizen. Of course there will be arguments and disagreements; we don’t all march to the same drummer.

It saddens me that we seem to have become haters and harrassers instead of listeners and thinkers. One of the major things my dad taught me as I was growing up was that, if you lose your temper, you lose the fight, your credibility, and possibly, your life. Over and over again we have seen throughout history that riots can turn deadly in an instant.

Is this really how we want to be remembered? Is it so important to get our way at the expense and possible harm to others who don’t agree? It’s a lot like that old phrase from the hippies: “fighting for peace is like f***ing for chastity.”

We are better than this. We are more than a mob mentality, we are people who are privileged to live in a free country. With that freedom comes the realization that not everyone is going to think or do as we think or do. I hope that we can come to some middle ground where we agree to disagree without bloodshed.

In the not-so-distant past, we fought for our freedom and liberty. It was a hard-won battle but we came out of it with a free country, something many people around the world do not have.

How about we think first before drinking that big old glass of haterade?

*Per Wikipedia, “the movie, “The Day of the Triffids,” is a 1951 post-apocalyptic novel by the English science fiction author John Wyndham. After most people in the world are blinded by an apparent meteor shower, an aggressive species of plant starts killing people.”


What the Eye Does Not See, the Heart Does Not Long For

I love that phrase, “what the eye does not see, the heart does not long for.” It was in an A.J. Cronin book (sorry; forgot which one), and I always think of it when shopping. In an age where so many people feel the need to steal from other people, it pays to do all we can not to tempt them.

Example: If you just bought a brand new top-of-the-line computer, a fabulous designer jacket, a Tiffany diamond bracelet and a pair of Prada shoes, do not put them in your vehicle where they can be seen. 

Likewise, if you are shopping in the grocery store, do not leave your purse unattended. I see this all the time; someone leaves their purse (open, with the wallet in plain sight) in their cart, and they wander away to check out the produce, several steps away. Honestly, they are just asking for someone to rob them. Likewise, do not flash your cash when there are people around you. Chances are nothing would happen, but you never know. Don’t let yourself become an easy target.

Keep your kids in sight at all times. I know that it’s a quick trip to the store to pick up a few things, but kids do tend to wander out of sight. When I lived in Texas, I was in a mall one day and heard a women screaming for her daughter, Darlene. Why do I remember the name? Because that little girl named Darlene wandered off when her mother wasn’t looking. This is not to say it was the woman’s fault for taking her eyes off her daughter; these things happen.

But the absolute anguish and heartbreak in that mother’s voice was raw terror. I don’t know if she got her daughter back or not; I sincerely hope that she did.

I have seen so many people putting their purchases right in plain sight in their cars. If you don’t have a trunk, carry a blanket in the car and cover up your purchases. Don’t leave things out to tempt people to steal.

Also, when you are pumping gas, lock your doors. Many thieves watch for people gassing up, and they sneak up to the passenger side, open the door and take the purse or wallet.

LOCK YOUR DOORS ALWAYS. Keep your house keys on you, so that you won’t be locked out. Make it a habit so that you don’t need to think about it. Also, when you are in your house, lock the doors and windows. Same when you are out of your house. Also, it never hurts to leave the TV on or music playing. It gives the impression that someone is in the house.

There are a lot of things that are beyond our control, but there are still a lot of things that we can control. Be prepared, not scared.

If You Don’t Have Anything Good to Say, Shut It

I really don’t understand people who are mean on purpose to other people. And it doesn’t always come from the safe anonymous shelter of social media, either.

I knew a couple who just could not shut up about fat people. Each and every time they saw someone who was heavy, they always made cruel and snarky remarks about them. While they didn’t roll down the windows and shout this abuse to them, they just couldn’t stop yapping about fat people.

There was no consideration of how this person came to be fat; it was always about how self-indulgent and lazy they were. Worst of all, you could just see the people around them cringe, especially those who were carrying a few extra pounds. It was cruel and completely unnecessary.

so wanted to say “you don’t know these people. You don’t know what their lives are like. You are making assumptions for them that you would hate if someone did the same to you. Plus, you are better than this; really—making fun of people who don’t look or act the way you think they should be; who named you judge and jury?”

I don’t think that some people realize the hurt that they cause in saying something rude or intrusive to someone. It would be great if we could just accept each other the way we are, not what other people think we should be.

I think that too often we make assumptions based on looks or dress or size. Recently I was reading a post where a pregnant women in her 8th month was told that she looked like the Goodyear blimp. Really?!? How is it ever funny to say that to a woman about to bring another human being into this world?

How much better would it be to find something positive to say to or about someone? Making a judgement that is hurtful makes the “judge” look small and mean. What’s wrong with giving someone a sincere compliment?

I like to remember the movie “Bambi” when Thumper the rabbit’s mom told Thumper “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Oh, if only!


When ‘No Problem’ is a Problem

When did we decide to answer a “thank you” with “no problem?” The appropriate response is “you’re welcome.” “No problem” has become the standard where “you’re welcome” used to be.

It grates on the nerves because “no problem” implies that you have had a problem in the past, but now it is no longer a problem; hence, the overused “no problem.” Then there is the Aussie “no worries,” which I personally like. There is also “it’s nothing,” or “please don’t mention it,” or “it was my pleasure.”

Saying “you’re welcome” sounds (to me, anyway) a more polite and genuine response to a thank you.” But this is how our language is going these days. Who would have ever thought phrases like “on fleek” would take hold?

And then there is my personal favorite, the WAY overused word that seems to describe everything: “awesome.” This word used to be used to describe something of great beauty and majesty, such as the hymn “How Great Thou Art” wherein the phrase is written: “Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hand hath made.”

But these days everything seems to be awesome. The strawberry smoothie you just tasted is awesome. The fact that you have changed your hairdo or makeup is awesome. The sun, moon and the stars are awesome. EVERYTHING is awesome.

When I was student teaching in my senior year at college, the word all kids used then was “mental.” Everything was mental; school, parents, music, food, etc. I thought I would lose my mind if I heard just one more “mental.”

Look, I don’t expect the English language to go back to Victorian times, but perhaps we could make a modest stand against the most irritating current words or phrases: “awesome,” “no problem,” and “like” peppered in every sentence.

We can but try, good sirs and ladies.



The Bathing Suit Issue

Let’s face it, once in our 60s it’s a bit different bathing suit-wise than in our 20s, 30s, and even 40s. I believe that the last time I put on a bathing suit was at the tail-end of my 40s. I was living in Texas at the time, and me just say this: unless you have access to an indoor pool, jumping into an outside pool in Texas at any time of the year is a lot like jumping into warm pee. I simply stopped swimming, and found that I didn’t really miss it.

In our circa 1953 house we of course have a bathtub, but after a knee replacement and bad shoulders I didn’t think it would be much fun to get in and out. Then I thought about those water therapy deals where you exercise in the pool with a whole lot of other people. Somehow that didn’t appeal to me either. So I let the whole swimming and tub thing go, and just stuck with showers.

However, my step-daughter told me recently that she and her family are going to install a pool in their back yard. I know that the grandgirls will adore it, as well as their parents. Not only that, but all the girls’ friends will love it as well. I’m sure that their house will become Party Central in no time.

We have been invited to join them at the pool once it’s up and running. So, for the first time in over 20-some years, I started looking at bathing suits. Well—at my age and with all my wobbly bits, it’s going to be a little challenging. Fortunately, there are loads of different swim suits for all sizes and shapes.

These days I find that I need a lot more support in a lot more places than I used to. It seems that my body is slowly turning into a melting cake left out in the sun, so I need some pretty firm support in all areas. Basically I am looking for a swim dress with a decent bra that successfully corrals the girls, an empire waist where the skirt floats gracefully down to mid-thigh, with a good pair of bathing briefs underneath.

In looking at possible swim suits, I generally find that my wants/needs don’t always make it together in one suit. I would rather not show off my upper thighs or stomach or underarm “wubblies.” In fact, I really don’t want to call attention to any part of my body these days; I just want a swim suit that herds in all the “wubblage” and doesn’t make anyone run screaming from the pool.

Maybe it’s a scuba wetsuit I need with a nice skirt on it. Ah well, wish me luck. The pool hasn’t even been dug yet, so I still have time.

The Bluebird of Happiness

It’s been years since I saw a real live bluebird. But yesterday as the Crankee Yankee and I were sitting on the porch with our coffee, a bluebird sailed right into our garden. It was as if he knew how gorgeous he was; he perched on one of the pea “tee-pees,” and sang his head off. It was just as if a piece of the blue sky descended to show us how blue blue can be.

This is just one of the little miracles and pleasures we get from time to time. Honestly, it’s like finding a $20 bill on the ground. We often get so tied up in all the ‘should do,’ ‘have to,’ ‘ought to’ stuff that sometimes we miss the beauty and all the other good things all around us.

Yesterday was a gift, seeing that blue bird. Those blue feathers were truly the most beautiful blue I have ever seen.

Now that I have more time to write, to read, to pick up my ukulele and play, to garden, to dance hula again, to see friends, or to just pick up and go somewhere (with or without the Crankee Yankee)—these days are gifts as wonderful as that blue bird.

Funerals and Children

My mother was never a fan of funerals. Her own mother died of pancreatic cancer when Mom was only 14 years old. She couldn’t bring herself to be at her mother’s funeral, and in fact for most of her life she could not go to funerals. The ones she did attend were hard on her, and she swore that she would never put her family and friends through a funeral for her.

However, when Mom was in home hospice for the last three and a half months of her life, she told me that she finally understood about funerals.

“They aren’t really for the person who died,” she said. “They are for the people who loved that person who died.” And from then on, she planned her own funeral, and actually had a lot of fun doing it.

Mom, being the ultimate organizer, planned every detail, even the music. The last song was “Heaven, I’m in Heaven” (from “Cheek to Cheek” starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers). She and I decided together what she would wear on her last day, and, bizarrely, it was kind of fun. Then she called Dad into the room and asked him to pick out what he should go to his grave wearing.

Honestly, the whole thing turned into a hilarious day. Dad kept walking into the bedroom with suit after suit, until Mom ok’d his “final” outfit.

When Mom died, we had a viewing the day before her funeral. I had promised her that I would do her makeup, and her hairdresser came with me to fix her hair. She really did look beautiful.

When everyone came by to see her, the Crankee Yankee’s daughter and husband came as well. With them was Ava, who at that time was four years old. Her bright spirit, her laughter and her smile cheered up everyone around her. Dad said afterwards that she made the sun shine for Mom.

She came up to me and asked who that was in the “box.” I told her that that was my mother, whom she had met earlier that year. She asked if Mom was sleeping, and I said that she was. She asked if Mom would wake up and I told her that she would not. She looked a little confused, so I had a chat with her.

I told her what my grandmother had told me years and years ago when I was about her age. She said, “when I die, don’t be afraid of what you see in my casket. That will only be my “shell.” The real me will be in Heaven with the angels.”

My grandmother went on to say, “you know, when you go to Heaven, they let you pick out the color of your hair and your wings.” Well, I thought that was wonderful, and asked her what she was going to pick.

She said, “well, I was a redhead, so I think I will pick shiny black hair, and pink wings.” I told her that when it was my time, that I would pick red hair and silver wings.

In telling Ava about this, she asked if my mom had wings yet, and asked what color they were. I said that yes, she did, and that they were deep blue. She asked if she could see them, and I told her we couldn’t, but God and all the angels could.

In my grief in losing my mother, Ava was a beam of bright light. in fact, she was a light and a gift for everyone who was there for Mom. On a day that could have been filled with tears and regrets, Ava in her own way, made it easier for us all.


Just Take a Deep Breath…

When all around you is in upset

When your smile can’t be found

When tears are ready to fall—

Just take a deep breath.

When fear overtakes reason

When doubt overshadows hope

When kindness fades—

Just take a deep breath.

When hope has flown

When time seems lost

When anxiety keeps us awake—

Just take a deep breath.

When anger clouds us

When hurt besets us

When compassion is thin on the ground—

Just take a deep breath.

Breathe in hope and love and serenity

Breathe out fear and darkness and hurt.


Are You Listening?

Just this week I needed to have a small copying job done, so I went to our neighborhood printing place. I gave them the half-page outline I had typed up and asked them to copy it and laminate it. Simple, right?

Not really. The young guy who took my order began typing my text into his system, which I thought was odd as most places will just scan the original. But I admit I don’t know everything, so I said nothing.

When I got my order, I was on my way to a class and didn’t have time to check it over. By the time I got home and read it, I found some pretty blatant errors in it. There were misspellings, extra commas and capital letters in the wrong place, as well as weird spacing.

I took it back and pointed out the errors and asked for it to be redone. The manager who helped me said that she would send me an email with the proof so that I could read it and make sure it was what I wanted. She said that, once she received my “ok” email, she would go ahead and have my copies printed.

Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. I eventually did get an email with the corrected text, so I ok’d it. The manager replied immediately saying that she had already printed my order—before I ok’d it.

So, what’s wrong with this picture? First of all, there was the first problem with the misspellings, commas, etc. No problem; this happens. But when a manager tells me that she will not print the finals until my approval, but does it anyway, that means that she was not listening.

Well, this certainly is not the end of the world by any means. All this means is that we need to be present in whatever we are doing. We have all made dumb mistakes from time to time; we are all human. However, we need to be clear in our interactions with other humans so that there is no misunderstanding.

We have all heard the old saying, “when you assume, you make an ass out of “u” and “me!” Or, as an uncle of mine once said, “ever wonder why you have two ears and only one mouth? LISTEN UP aND SHUT UP!”