Fashion Forward…

Evidently the newest (and most ridiculous) fashion trend this fall is layered coats. I saw this on the news this morning…it’s no joke. Just when you thought that fashions couldn’t get anymore ridiculous, there is this:

Image result for runway layered coats

Yup, the “layered” coat is a real thing now. And guess what it costs to own a layered coat? Right now they are going for upwards of $9K. What’s really funny about this is that we all could have a similar look by simply wearing all the coats we have. But fashion being fashion, many folks want the real deal. I say if you’ve got the cash to buy this monstrosity, go for it.

Which brings me to other fashion-forward people I actually know. They are my granddaughters, Ava (7) and Juliette (2 1/2). Ava goes for any type of leggings, and always turns up the cuffs. She likes multi-colored tops, graphic t-shirts and just about anything in pink or purple, or best of all; all the rainbow colors.

Juliette, on the other hand, has her own fashion style. Just the other morning, her mother called me as she was taking Juliette to daycare. She wanted me to know about Juliette’s latest “designer” outfit that she herself decided on that day:

  • her glitter sneakers with two different socks
  • two pairs of pants, one over the other
  • three tops; each one over the other, the last one being her black and white hoodie
  • her mother’s pearl necklace

It was the necklace that really got to me; no question, the kid has style! I’d give a great deal to see the reaction all those fashionistas would have seeing Juliette strut down the runway.

Fashion is as fashion does.

No Plastic, No Paper, No Training

In my small way I am trying to keep as much plastic out of our lives (and our planet) as possible. I bought the bags that my grocery store sells and I bring them in each time I shop. I have one large insulated bag for produce and perishables as well. When I’m done shopping, I put the bags on the conveyor belt first so that the bagger knows to use them, not plastic bags. Simple, right?

No, not at all simple. I had assumed that people who work at the grocery store are trained on how to pack a bag of groceries. It’s common sense; don’t put fragile or squishy things like bread or bagels at the bottom of the bag and stack heavy stuff on top.

But evidently there is no training. I end up directing the bagger myself: “no, please don’t put the giant bottle of orange juice on top of the eggs,” and “can you please not put the package of hot barbequed chicken on top of the frozen yoghurt?” Then there is the guy who wants to put everything in the insulated bag; I’d need a body builder to pick it up.

Honestly, I really didn’t think that I would have to explain all this; what in the world has happened to 1) training and 2) common sense? Shouldn’t packing bags be on the training agenda for folks who work in grocery stores? I’m sure that the cashiers are properly trained in using the cash register, but how about the baggers?

No matter what job you have, whether you are the ultimate guru in a high-flying electronics business or a bagger at a grocery store, where’s the pride in doing a good job? When I was living in Texas, I always went to the same small mom-and-pop shop, and their son was the bagger. He had some minor mental retardation, but he knew how to pack a bag and he did everything with a sweet smile. When he put the bags into the cart, he always said, “y’all come back soon, and have a great day!”

It was obvious that he loved his job, and he enjoyed his interface with people. When I think of that bagger and how much he joy he gave everyone around him, it made me think of how we view and serve others in our daily lives.

Why not be joyful, no matter what we do? Why not take happiness from the day? Why not smile instead of frown? Why not do our best at whatever we do? Even if we are a bagger at a grocery store or the ticket taker on the subway, why not be the best at it?

It’s a wonderful thing to come home from work, knowing that you did your best despite all odds. It isn’t so much about the job, but about how you approach the job. When I think of that sweet and kind boy in Texas, I’ll bet he went to sleep each night thinking, ‘I helped people today. I did a good job.’

What a wonderful way to end each day!

Be Safe, Be Aware

If you listen to the news, you know about Mollie Tibbets, the young woman from Iowa who went out for a jog and never came back. So does this mean that we should all stop jogging or riding bikes or mountain climbing or whatever on our own? Certainly not.

I taught self-defense for years, and in my classes we talked about “common sense” self-defense. It is easy to become wrapped up in your own world when you are doing something you love, such as walking or jogging, etc. Many people like to listen to music or stories while they are exercising.

If you are in a busy and somewhat loud gym, that’s fine. The headphones and earbuds drown out the noise from other people or a blaring TV. However, if you are outside by yourself walking or jogging, it’s not a good idea to isolate yourself with music or stories, especially if you are on your own.

You may think that you can hear everything around you; cars, people, barking dogs, etc. but when your brain is otherwise engaged with your music or stories, you are not present in the moment. What do I mean by this? I mean that when you are out alone, even in an area you are familiar with, you need to be constantly aware of what and who is around you.

It is far easier than you think for a van to come up behind you, and have someone open the side door and pull you in. It is far easier than you think for someone to come up behind you and attack you. Why? Because you are not fully aware; your brain is concentrating on what you’re hearing in your headphones. Predators look for people who are not paying attention.

Some good safety tips are these:

  • Let someone know you are going out for a run, walk, etc. and when you think you’ll be back.
  • Do not run or walk alone in an area where there are no houses or businesses.
  • Carry pepper spray or a loud whistle (or both). Should you be taken by surprise, scream and yell. FACT: people will respond fast if you yell “FIRE!” not “Help!”
  • If possible, run or walk with a friend or two.
  • Keep a phone on you should you need 911.

This is a cautionary reminder that we all need to be more aware. This certainly isn’t a dig at poor Mollie Tibbets or anyone else who gets hurt or killed. I can’t stress enough that, when you are out on your own, you absolutely MUST be aware of what is going on around you.








Hot and Humid vs. Cold and Snow

Well, it’s hot and humid here at the tail-end of summer

Which comes too soon, and that’s a bummer.

While we fuss and moan about the sticky weather

We’ll miss it come winter’s tether

That keeps us indoors with the heat up

Watching snow fall with our feet up—

Wearing layers upon layers of clothes

While icicles form from under our nose

And days are cold and dismally gray

We’ll wish we were back in the summer day

When we were complaining and sweating—-

So right now I’m betting

I can put up with a bit more heat and sun

I’m in no hurry for frigid cold to come—

So as the summer sunshine bathes us all

Let’s not be in too much hurry for Fall.







Trash and Treasure

We’ve all heard this: “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Nearly every summer, the Crankee Yankee and I have put out a “Free Table” at the end of our driveway. We put out things that we no longer use (or like) and lots of people stop by to pick up something or just look.

Now that we are going through a lot of stuff from my parents, the Free Table is doing well. Anyone who has had to clean out a relative’s home knows the “push and pull” feelings that go with it. Often our immediate reaction is ‘oh no; I can’t get rid of that; it belonged to <inert relative’s name here>!’  

Well, here’s the thing: we don’t always love (or even like) our relatives’ stuff. Of course, it’s a twist to the guts when you pull out grandma’s handmade Christmas wreath and realize that you really don’t want it. But maybe someone else does.

My mother never met a vase she didn’t like. When we cleaned out the house, I found more vases than I could count. I don’t use them because we have cats; vases mean flowers and many of them are deadly to cats if they chew or eat them. So it’s just easier not to have flowers or vases.

Then there are the lamps; mostly brass (I’m not a fan of brass) and mostly tall. There’s no place in our little house for them, so they too will either go to friends or to the good old Free Table. We have brought loads of bedding and pillows to animal shelters, where they will comfort and warm the residents. All remaining clothing has been donated as well. All these things are relatively easy to part with.

However, there are things that are hard to part with. My mother and her cousin both got the genealogy bug back in the early ’80s and they researched all the information they could about our family. Mind you, this was before computers and the information highway. The two of them traveled together and interviewed our remaining relatives, collected photos and word-of-mouth stories, hunted through cemeteries for family plots and headstones. They spent hours and days researching archives in libraries; in short, they did together what a computer does today.

When they went as far as they could, Mom self-published all their work in one book; “Christian Feero, Loyalist of New Brunswick.” In it are scores of old photos, all manner of family history, and loads of stories. It was truly a labor of love. I now have all the materials, stories, photos and notes from their research in an album that weighs several pounds. So what to do with all this now?

I took the Crankee Yankee’s advice: “just put it upstairs for now. You don’t need to decide anything today.” There will come a time when I’ll know what to do with it. But today is not that day. In fact, I can just about hear my mother saying “oh for Heaven’s sake—just throw it out already! It’s all in the book anyhow.”

As usual, I’m sure she’s right.

Fatso Fogarty Strikes Again

We have fed birds and squirrels all through the warm months; the Crankee Yankee had hung up a wooden feeder in the garden on one of our iron trellises. It hung on a thick rope, and, even though the squirrels gnawed a semi-circle on one side of the feeder, it still held birdseed.

Until yesterday morning. Someone (and I’m thinking it was Fatso Fogarty the squirrel and ring leader of most of the outdoor mayhem) chewed the rope the feeder was hanging from, and the whole shebang crashed into the garden and broke into three separate segments. Well, that’s gratitude for you! The Crankee Yankee cleaned up the mess, and put out a small tray of birdseed, and we let it go at that.

But we’ve always known that squirrels are destructive little buggers. Last winter, we put out suet cakes (store bought; I’m not cooking for squirrels!) filled with nuts and fruit. They are pretty solid, so they keep their structure well. In the cold weather, the birds and squirrels and such need the extra fat and protein. We found that we had to literally nail the cakes to the feeder out back so that the squirrels wouldn’t run off with each and every one.

Talk about entitlement! I swear that, if we had a squirrel cam out there, we would see the real truth. For all we know, the squirrels have a luxury condo community with large stashes of suet cakes, nuts, fruit, tiny little booties and mittens, and color TVs and Wifi.

I think that they might have overplayed their hand on the night they trashed the bird feeder. Who knows what other fiendish plots they have up their furry little sleeves? Perhaps Fatso Fogarty is the mob boss of all our local squirrels.

Ah well, I’m not going to worry too much about it unless a gang of them shows up at the door, demanding “protection” money…


…And a Bear Crossed the Road

Yesterday we were up north visiting a dear friend. After we went out to lunch, we were enjoying the drive when suddenly a young bear crossed the road in front of us. If you enjoy looking up signs and symbols of the American Indian’s view of what each creature represents, you will find some interesting reading; for example, this:

“*The Bear symbol was important as it represented a protector and symbolized courage, physical strength and leadership. Bears are strong, agile, and quick. The black bear and the Grizzly were native to North America. The meaning of the Bear Symbol was to signify a good omen and convey authority.”

From Symbolic Meanings, there is also this:

“When we cross paths with the Bear, we should envelope ourselves temporarily in solitude and silence with a goal for rebirth and self-understanding.

The Bear showing up in our lives is also a symbol for play, and that we need to relax and allow for some creativity into our lives.  The more we allow ourselves to loosen up and have fun, the more our lives begin to take on a more light and lively perspective.”

This is all interesting and thought-provoking. But, for us in that moment, it was all about the surprise and gift of seeing this beautiful creature, wild and free.

*From Wikipedia.

A Determined Little Skunk

If you read my posts, you know that we put out food and water for our outdoor “guests;” cats, birds, squirrels, skunks and the occasional raccoon. The Crankee Yankee built a wooden three-story affair for their “feeding station.” It has plexiglass on three sides and a plexiglass roof on top.

Generally the top “story” is for birds and squirrels, and the middle and “ground floors” are for cats and skunks. During the day, there is food and water on the top and middle levels. At night, the food goes to the bottom level for easy access for the skunks, and the middle level for cats. Of course, the occasional raccoon shows up as well.

Generally, skunks are nocturnal; you rarely see them in the daytime. However, now and then they venture out, usually on a cloudy or rainy day. The other morning as I was making the bed, I looked out of the window and saw a young skunk valiently trying to get to the food on the middle level. He tried his best to worm his way up through the shelves and the plexiglass, but there obviously wasn’t enough “wiggle room” for him to get his entire body up there.

I watched as he tried every angle on every side (except of course the only side that did NOT have plexiglass), but he kept on trying. Finally, he must have pushed the glass out enough to squeeze through. He went right to the food bowl and ate his fill. Job well done.

As always, I look for a deeper meaning than a determined little skunk’s effort to snag a meal. Sometimes our struggles are hard, but sometimes we get just enough wiggle-room to get where we need to go.

A Day at Storyland

Many of us grew up going to Storyland in Glen, NH. I went when I was six years old, and hadn’t been back until yesterday when we took our two granddaughters to Storyland for the first time. Their parents came with them, and the six of us had a terrific day.

The girls, Ava (7) and Juliette (2 1/2) had the time of their lives. They ran everywhere, and we adults puffed after them. The girls got their dearest wish: to get a picture of themselves with Cinderella (both girls by then had their faces painted, too). Juliette told Cinderella proudly that she was wearing her Cinderella underpants (I so wish I could have seen Cinderella’s face for that one!) that day.

We went everywhere on the little train that took you all around Storyland. Everyone loved it except Lulu’s (me) and Grampy’s (the Crankee Yankee) hips and knees. Let’s just say that the train is built for kids and not so much adults…

Everyone but me went on the little rollercoaster (I’ve been on two rollercoasters in my life, and hated them both), and the Crankee Yankee, who loves rollercoasters, wobbled out looking a bit green around the gills. He said that he might be too old for rollercoasters at this point in his life. (Gee, ya think?!)

We went to see the little Egyptian Nubian goats, (also called Zaraibi) and the girls were enchanted by them. We lifted Juliette up to the top of the fence so that she could get a good look at them, and one of the goats (and they really are adorable) put his little nose up to her, and Juliette kissed his nose. He seemed pretty pleased about it.

At midday we stopped for lunch and enjoyed some pretty terrific cheeseburgers with what had to be hand-sliced french fries (absolutely sinfully delicious), and then, fueled up, we kept on going. We saw everything. The girls got to run around in the “ocean park,” where there were colorful sea creature statues, many of which spouted mists of water everywhere. Needless to say, the girls were soaked but very happy.

Just before we left, we all got ice cream (and by the way, I had never had a pineapple soft serve ice cream before; it was fabulous!). We made one more round on the train, and Ava got to drive one of the colorful old-fashioned cars on a track (adults got to sit in the back and the kids drove). By the time we were ready to go home, the girls’s face paintings were smeared everywhere, their clothes were damp, and everyone’s feet were dragging.

But it was a truly magnificent day, and we plan to take the girls to Santa’s Village next. Back when I was a kid, Storyland and Santa’s Village were kind of a rite of passage. Certainly things have changed along with the times, but in looking at the faces of all the kids there, especially our two girls, these places are still filled with magic.