Now That I Have a Smart Phone…

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I finally got a smart phone. It’s about as simple as it can be; a Tracfone smart phone. But best of all, my best friend (and sister-in-law) is a whiz at technology and she offered to set up my new smart phone for me. How could I possibly refuse?

She did everything just right, and I have been having a lot of fun checking out all the apps and functions. I don’t always understand what to do, but at least I am experimenting.

I wanted to set up a ringtone; the opening song from the “Lion King,” which always sounds to me like “Haaaaaaalepena!” It’s actually Zulu for “I see a lion,” but it always sounds like “Haaaaaaalepena!” to me. Still working on that one.

I have not added in any contacts yet, but I fooled around with the camera. By mistake I took a picture of me with no make-up on—the horror! I won’t make that mistake again. But I did manage to take three identical pictures of one of the cats.

There’s an option to “ask Google,” so I tried that out. The answer I got was this: “I’m sorry; I didn’t understand.” But that’s ok; I didn’t, either.

The best thing about all this is that, thanks to my best friend, the phone is set up. I can take my time to learn about all the things I can do on a smart phone; there’s no hurry. I confess that I will still keep my old reliable flip phone charged up and ready just in case; you know, like a security blanket. I really don’t think that the new phone will get jealous.

So, I have finally taken the plunge to stick a toe into more technology than before. I really don’t expect to set up a Twitter account or Facebook or Instagram any time soon (or ever). I hope that I will eventually catch on to the stuff I want and need my new smart phone to do. Who knows, I might even actually text someone some day!

Stranger things have happened.


Is It Us or Them?

The Crankee Yankee and I like to go out for a meal now and then; it’s a nice change from resurrecting leftovers or having what we call a “finish dinner:” finishing dibs and dabs of what’s left in the ‘fridge. However, we find that we often run into some weird situations when out for lunch or dinner. When these things happen, we always wonder if we are creating the weirdness ourselves.

Case in point: not long ago, we went to a popular Mexican restaurant for dinner. We ordered our usual; Cokes with lime and enchiladas and quesadillas. The waitress asked if we wanted sugar around the rim of our drinks. We both looked at each other and I said, ‘who puts sugar around the rim of a Coke?’

Several minutes later, the waitress came back bearing two large margaritas with lime, and no sugar around the rim. We repeated that we had asked for Cokes with lime. I really don’t know how much clearer we could have been, but we just shrugged it off.

The waitress came back shortly afterwards bearing our orders. My quesadilla was not the one that I ordered, but it wasn’t a big deal; it was pretty good, actually. When it came time to pay the check, the waitress brought over the check and no pen. We had to flag down another server to borrow his pen.

Now, this waitress might have just been new and nervous. We gave her a decent tip and thanked her. It wasn’t until we started walking out that we both dissolved into giggles; the kind where you are laughing so hard that your eyes and your nose runs. We wobbled out to the car, still laughing. We asked ourselves “is it us or them?” Stuff like this always seems to happen to us.

Just the other evening, we decided to go to our local seafood place. It’s small and intimate, the food is very good, and the tables are close together. It always seems to us that it’s a place more for us older folks than your standard restaurant crowd, but that isn’t always the case. Here’s how the evening went:

We were one of the first couples in, which was fine; the place does fill up quickly. We had just placed our orders when a table of five came in and sat about two feet away from us. It was a mom and dad, a grandma and grandpa, and a baby.

Now if you’ve read some of my posts, you will know that I am not a fan of babies or young kids in restaurants because they tend to be fussy, shrieky and screamy. But unless there is a restaurant policy that bans kids five and younger, you pretty much have to live with it.

And sure enough, this baby was the full trinity: fussy, shrieky and screamy. Never having been a mother myself, I am always amazed at the level of screaming and shrieking that such a small human can produce. Since I was sitting the closest to this table, I spent most of my meal with my finger in my outside (facing the baby) ear.

After a while, it just got funnier. The Crankee Yankee and I did some major eye rolling, and all of a sudden we just couldn’t stop laughing. That was bad enough, but then the older couple behind us soon added to the madness. The man sneezed twelve times (I counted) in a row. After each sneeze, we tried hard not to laugh too loudly (I mean, the poor guy; he couldn’t help it).

But the “sneezing geezer” just pushed us right over the edge of civility. We asked for our check (and the waitress must have wondered why we were killing ourselves laughing) and bugged out just as soon as we could. Again we asked each other: “Is it us or them?”

Hell if I know.

“Something’s Lost That Must Be Found”

I tend to lose things occasionally, and drive myself nuts trying to find what it is that I lost. I have a little mantra to help me find it, though: “Something’s lost that must be found; please, dear angels, look around!” It’s amazing how I can have something in my hand, and then forget where I put it down.

Of course, I can blame this on getting older. It’s like the time I went nuts looking for my hot cup of coffee. I eventually found it—in the refrigerator. Why was it there? Because I had my coffee in one hand and my slice of toast had just popped up. I wanted to butter it before the toast cooled off. The kitchen counter was cluttered, so I put the coffee cup in the ‘fridge, grabbed my toast and buttered it. By then I had forgotten where I put my cup.

Now that’s just absent-mindedness. However, some real “behind the scenes” things can happen that you just can’t explain. Case in point: my cousin had a pair of pearl earrings she cherished. Her husband had given them to her on their wedding day, and she always wore them on special occasions.

They were going out to dinner to celebrate their anniversay, and my cousin went to her jewelry box to put on her pearl earrings. There was only one in the jewelry box. She immediately thought that her daughter had borrowed one of the earrings for some reason, and asked her about it. The daughter had not been anywhere near the jewelry box.

Both of them looked everywhere they could think of; the floor, the rug, under the lining of the jewelry box; the pearl earring was nowhere to be found. My cousin was distraught; those earrings meant a lot to her and she felt terrible that one of them had somehow gotten lost. Her heart sinking, she said the angel prayer; “Something’s lost that must be found; please, dear angels, look around!”

As she got ready for her dinner date with her husband, she decided to check her jewelry box one more time. Both earrings were there, right where they belonged!

There was no explanation as to how that other earring appeared. My cousin’s daughter swears to this day that she had nothing to do with it, but she was a witness to this minor miracle.

Go figure.


Sheltering From Sweltering

Here in New Hampshire, we have been experiencing several days of sticky, hot and humid weather. While our garden is thriving in the heat, the Crankee Yankee and I are wilting. For most of the seige I’ve been lying around in the A/C, watching TV, reading and drinking lots of cold seltzer water. The Crankee Yankee has been doing indoor work to stay cool. All of our cats are stretched out on their backs and sides, enjoying a good snooze.

The garden is assuming jungle proportions in the heat. The tomatoes, broccoli, cukes, peppers, and especially the peas, are flourishing. We are practically eating peas for breakfast these days!

We keep a bird feeder in one of the raised garden beds, and the birds and squirrels have provided our cats with endless entertainment. Also, the heat is bringing lots of worms to the surface of the gardens, so we also have birds on the ground as well. The cats are thrilled to have all this wildlife to enjoy.

While I’m not a fan of hot and humid weather, it’s a whole lot better than heaps of snow. Or that’s what I keep telling myself. Ogden Nash describes summer heat best in his “Summer Serenade” poem:

“When the thunder stalks the sky,
When tickle-footed walks the fly,
When shirt is wet and throat is dry,
Look, my darling, thats July.”

“Through the grassy lawn be leather,
And prickly temper tug the tether,
Shall we postpone our love for weather?
If we must melt, lets melt together!”



Woman Power

As I have said before in other posts, I was a working woman in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and left my last job in 2013. Some of those years were great. Some weren’t so great, and some were downright horrific. Back in those days, you rarely saw women in authority, and those that you did see were pretty tough. They had to be; they were working with men who were not comfortable with women in their work space.

In those days in the business world, women had to “man up.” This meant laughing with the guys telling filthy jokes, ignoring the innuendos and groping. Complaining to the higher-ups was a sure way to lose your job, so you just buttoned your lip and got through it. The prevailing attitude at that time was ‘deal with it.’

And deal with it we did since we needed our jobs. This isn’t to say that I didn’t work with any decent men; I did. They did their jobs, kept their noses clean, and, for the most part were respectful.

Many years ago I was working at a lab facility where they sold rodents, rabbits, guinea pigs and primates to labs all over the country. I and a few other women were asked to attend a trade show, so we all flew off together to set things up for the event.

On the first evening of the trade show, the company vet for the primates invited me out to dinner. He was a handsome guy and had always been pleasant to me. During dinner we had some light conversation, mostly about the trade show and the company. During dessert, he asked me if I “would like a room mate” for the night. I choked on the piece of pie I had in my mouth, and probably said something stupid like “room mate? Do you mean you and me?”

When I could speak again, I said “but you’re married!” His answer? “So what?” I thanked him for the meal and left. When I got back to work the next week I confided to a male co-worker (I realize now that I should have talked with a woman) about what happened. His answer was this: “oh c’mon, you would have been disappointed if he didn’t make a pass at you!”

That was the first time that anyone I worked with made such a blatant inappropriate suggestion to me; it shocked me. I was still pretty naive at that time, and I never looked at that vet again without thinking about his wife and whether she knew what a sleaze she had married.

While I was still working at that job, one day my car needed work, and my boyfriend at the time drove me to work while my car was in the shop. He said that he would be back at 5:00pm to pick me up.

At 5:00pm, my boyfriend hadn’t shown up yet, so I walked all the way out to the barrier that lead to the highway. It was a pretty secluded area, but close to the highway. I was leaning back against the barrier, legs crossed and arms folded when a truck pulled up a few feet away from me. It wasn’t my boyfriend. As I watched, a completely naked man opened the door, stepped out and began touching himself.

I went numb. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move. I had sunglasses on so luckily the man couldn’t see what had to have been a horrified look in my eyes. He shouted something to me and then got back into his truck and drove away. I was frozen in place, trying to make sense of what had happened.

I realize now how lucky I was that nothing did happen. My boyfriend eventually showed up, and I didn’t tell him what had happened. I didn’t tell anyone about the incident. In fact, writing this is the first time I’ve mentioned it. For years I was ashamed of what happened, even though I knew it had nothing to do with me personally. The guy was just a creep and a pervert and I hope that I ruined his day by not responding.

So these days when more and more women are saying in every possible way: “WE ARE MAD AS HELL AND WE AREN’T GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!” I say it’s about time. Just speaking about sexual harrassment, back when I was working, that was just what women had to put up with. It was humilating, hurtful and in my case with the naked guy, downright scary.

It was partly because of that incident that I took up Tae Kwon Do. After achieving my first black belt, I taught self-defense for years. The toughest group were always young girls who felt that nothing bad would ever happen to them. At that time, a lot of girls liked showing a lot of skin. Most of my time would be taken up by indignant girls saying that they had a right to dress the way they wanted to. My answer to this was that they were right. However, too many males see this as an invitation to grope. Too many times male misbehavior is excused by the old “boys will be boys” crap.

However, a woman can be wearing anything up to and including a full-on burka and some men will still think it’s ok to grope. NEWS FLASH: IT IS NEVER OK—NEVER. When we are children, we are taught to keep our hands to ourselves. I also don’t buy the “did you see how she was dressed? She was asking for it!” defense, either. Bottom line: you don’t touch what is not yours. Period, the end.


Weddings—I Don’t Get It…

I do not for the life of me inderstand big weddings. Even when I was a little girl and most of the little girls I knew were already planning their own imaginary weddings; the dress, the cake, the flowers, the rings, etc. I didn’t get it then, and I still don’t get it now.

I do however, like the TLC show, “Say Yes to the Dress.” I guess I like it because it’s so far beyond anything I would ever do. This is not to put down brides who want the whole thing; perfect dress, perfect flowers, perfect venue, perfect cake, etc. And the cost of all this can be as expensive as putting money down on a house. Let’s just take the dress for instance. The high-end dresses are in the thousands of dollars—for a dress that will be worn for one day!

For my first wedding, I had a job that consumed just about every minute of the day. So my mother kindly shopped for a wedding dress for me. She found a beautiful light blue dress with some white lace and a bit of bling. I think it cost about $49.00. Instead of carrying a bouquet, I carried a white lace fan.

For my second marriage, Mom and I did everything together. The Crankee Yankee and I had asked my parents if we could have the wedding in their backyard. On the weeks leading up to the wedding, Mom and I had a wonderful time buying up mismatched champagne glasses from Goodwill (what a deal–no more than .25 a glass!). For the cake table, we covered a folding table with a white sheet. On the morning of the wedding, we cut bouquets of fresh lilacs for myself and my best friend to carry, and Mom made boutonnieres of lily of the valley for the men.

Mom also made the wedding cake; a family favorite–lemon crunch cake. Dad bought a case of champagne, and it flowed liberally throughout the day. The weather was perfect, and all guests were seated in chairs in the backyard facing the white trellis that was festooned with an enormous pot of white flowers. As an added bonus to a wonderful day, the Crankee Yankee’s younger brother stood up with us as well as my best friend. They began dating shortly afterward, and three years later, they too married!

We look back on that day, and recognize that things happen at the right time. There is no feeling of, ‘oh, if I’d married you first,’ because that would have changed everything. Although those marriages did not last, they were still important. You have to look back at where you were to understand where you’re going. The time was right for us, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

All in all, including my dress (and excepting the champagne), our wonderful cheap-o wedding cost about $150. Which just goes to show that, when it comes to weddings, sometimes cheaper is better. And sometimes, the second time around is the best time around.

Dealing With Bullies

There are bullies everywhere, and they are not just school kids who troll other kids on social media. They are both sexes, all ages, all sizes, all colors, and all nationalities. They are everywhere.

Whatever their issues are, they take their anger or disappointment or grudges out on others to make themselves feel better. They rejoice in hurting or humilating others. Perhaps it makes them feel bigger, better, stronger or smarter than other people; who knows?

Bullying can be physical, psychological, pathological, degrading or just plain mean. Some bullies bully with words, some with physical violence, and some with a knack for feeding into their victims’ fear. My guess is that bullying is the only thing that keeps them going each day. They get pleasure out of being cruel.

If this is what makes them get out of bed each day, I am sorry for such wasted lives. To me, they are like mean kids who get a kick out of pulling the wings off flies. There’s no reason to their bullying other than that they get pleasure out of it, or they feel that they need to put someone in their proper “place.” I think bullying may be the only thing that gives them a sense of self; this may be the only thing they have going in life for them.

While this never justifies bullying, it does help explain it. I know from experience that trying to reason with bullies seldom works. But what does work is to not engage or give them the pleasure of seeing the damage they inflict. That only gives them the mean satisfaction that they have hurt you. Worse, engaging may make them step up their bullying.

I believe that bullies get what’s coming to them sooner or later, but if we let them see that they have hurt or humiliated us, they win. Walking away and not engaging gives them nothing. I also believe in “GOGI,” which means “Garbage Out, Garbage In.” The more garbage a bully throws at you, the more garbage comes back to the bully. This is actually an exercise in physics.

Example: when you throw a stone into a pond, the ripples will go out to reach the shore. Once they do, the ripples come right back to where the stone fell, and they come back harder.

It is a true example of ‘what goes around, comes around.’ While you may not have the satisfaction of seeing that happen, you can rest assured that it will happen. You don’t need to say a word; good old karma will take care of those bullies, sooner or later.





Angels All Around

There are angels all around.

We may not see them, but we feel their influence.

When we feel alone and lost,

They are there, watching and comforting.

When we feel the most vulnerable and afraid,

We are not alone.

There are angels who came with us when we were born,

There are angels who watch over us as we grow,

There are angels who help and defend us,

Who gently steer us on a better path.

And there are people, who, urged on by angels, help and lift us up.

Even in our darkest hour, in deepest despair,

We are never alone.

There are angels all around,



I Bought a Smartphone—Now What?

The Crankee Yankee and I have had TracFone flip phones for years now. We always bragged about how we wouldn’t get hacked because we were using such old-fashioned tecnology.

However, Amazon Prime Day came, the price was right and I bought a TracFone Smartphone (a dear friend of mine, who is about as smartphone savvy as I am, always says “smartphone, dumb user!” I get now.). When it arrived, I took everything out of the box and even looked at the *manual.

My best friend, knowing how easily I get confused with technology, suggested that I take my time, and use my reliable old flip phone until I feel right to cross over. Honestly, I don’t know what my problem is about smartphones; they just intimidate me.

And it’s not like I haven’t gone out on a limb before. I’ve done a reasonable amount of daring things in my life; daring for me, that is. I even compiled a list about what scares me the most about having and using a smartphone; you know, to face my fears head-on. The list so far goes like this:

  • What do I do if I get hacked (and how would I know?)?
  • How do I talk using it; holding the bottom edge to my mouth or putting it up against my ear like a land-line phone?
  • And hey, what about all that medical data about smartphones causing cancer? Is that a thing?
  • How do I load up phone numbers?
  • Are robots listening to my phone conversations?
  • Are the numbers going to be big enough for me to see (seriously, the flip phones text is so tiny that even with glasses I can’t read it)?
  • Do I treat this as I would a regular TracFone non-smartphone; that is, adding minutes (I think that this may be the only thing I’m sure about)?
  • Will having a smartphone make me less of a fuddy-duddy than I already am?
  • Do I have to text? (I really don’t want to.)

…and the list goes on. I guess that I am still working though my technological phobias. I’ll let you know when I can actually use the damn thing.

*Having been a technical writer for years and writing manuals just like this, I did what most people do: I put it aside to “read later.” Ha, ha.