Love What You Love Deeply

I think that everyone has at least one or two things that they love truly and deeply. It can be people, pets, a job, a hobby, a musical instrument, a dance, an outfit, a particular show or play, a house, a barn, a favorite season of the year, a special meal, and so on and on and on.

There are some people who live and die for sports. There are people who love theatre more than life itself. There are people who adore clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc. There are those who live for certain movies and TV shows, electronic devices, cars, institutions, and so on.

I grew up an only child, and my parents were big readers, so I become one as well. We didn’t follow sports, and to this day I can’t understand the obsession with sports of any kind. There are folks who absolutely love dangerous stuff such as car racing, jumping out of planes, deep sea diving and so on. None of that interests me; I am too chicken to even get on a rollercoaster. But to each his own.

All I can say is that we all are different and we love what we love. One of my own obsessions is Doctor Who, a show out of England I have watched since Tom Baker played Doctor Who in the ’70s. I have been a “Whovian” for years now, and make no apologies for it. If there is ever a Doctor Who convention or Comic Con anywhere near me, I will absolutely go. Call me corny, but I just love the series.

The point is this: we love what we love. We are drawn to people, places, things, activities, hobbies, interests, and so on because we have fallen in love with them. We are all different, and we shouldn’t have to defend our loves. Not everyone loves reading or sports or the latest news or fly fishing. Besides, as my favorite uncle always says, “if everyone liked roast beef, there wouldn’t be enough to go around.”


The Gratitude List

The older I get, the more gratitude I feel. I often run down a mental checklist in my mind of all the things I am grateful for; each time I do this, the list grows longer.

  • As an American, I am grateful for the sacrifice of many who have given life and limb so that I may have the freedoms I cherish.
  • As a baby boomer, I am grateful for the way I was raised and the lessons I learned.
  • As a retired person, I am grateful for time and space for things I now can do and appreciate; things I could not do when I worked.
  • As a grandmother, I am grateful to the heart to have my granddaughters in my life; they are amazing, wonderful, and are glowing lights in my life.
  • As a wife, I am grateful to the heart to live with such a decent, kind, loving, generous man.
  • As a crazy cat lady, I am grateful for our five cats, each of whom I love and adore.
  • As a friend, I adore and cherish the friends in my life. How barren my life would be without them!
  • As a writer, I am grateful for the gift of words.
  • As a singer, ukulele player and cartoonist (of sorts), I am grateful for all the things that bring me joy.
  • As a human being on this earth, I am grateful to be here.

I find that, when things are not going my way, when I am upset, angry, worried or fearful, just reading my “gratitude list” brings me back to center. How wonderful it is to be able to walk, to see, to hear, to feel emotions, to be moved by music, to be enchanted with the change of seasons, to have a roof over my head, for food and water, for the chance to give back and for every breath.

Every day there is more to be grateful for; may I always acknowledge and honor that.




Happy Birthday, Dad

Yesterday would have been my dad’s 93rd birthday; I wished him a happy birthday and hoped he was enjoying it with my mother.

I like to think that my mom and dad, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my friends and pets who once graced my life; are all happy. Our family has always viewed death as the next ‘transition.’ Whether or not you believe in reincarnation or life after death, we won’t know ourselves until our own time comes.

Because of the family I came from, I find I don’t worry too much about death. When we had those short precious days with Dad living with us, we talked about it a lot. When asked what he thought that the next “transition” would be like, Dad would always say, “it’s love; all love.”

I think he’s right. Of course, we won’t know the truth until we too pass over to the other side; but speaking just for me, I think it’s all love, too.

Enjoy your 93rd, Dad. I love you.

Awkward Questions

The Crankee Yankee and I had both been married before we got together; he at age 26, and me at age 36. At the time, it all seemed right, but as sometimes happens in marriages, things can go south.

After 14 years of marriage, he called it quits. I called it quits after 10 years of marriage. (I’ll save you the boring details; suffice it to say that some marriages just do not hold up over time.) Understandably, we both were gun-shy for quite a while after both divorces.

But time passed as it always does, and old hurts and anger are lost in time and memory. I just figured that I would be single for the rest of my life, with cats as companions. Both of us simply went on with our lives. We each had some relationships that ended amicably; nothing serious.

When I was living in Texas, I had heard that the Crankee Yankee had put away his hammers and nails and had become a coast-to-coast trucker. One evening I got a phone call from him; he said that he was passing through my town and would I like to go out to dinner?

I did, and we did. We caught up with each other and talked for so long that we closed down the restaurant. I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned this in posts past, but, long story short, that year was an interesting one. He invited me to go with him to West Point for his daughter’s graduation in May, and then invited me to her wedding in September.

By the time we attended the wedding, we were already engaged. Now, sixteen years later, we enjoy our wonderful granddaughters and son-in-law (not the guy his daughter married back in 2001; they too broke up.) When his daughter was deployed to Afganistan she met her future husband. They now have our two wonderful granddaughters, Ava (7) and Juliette (2 1/2). The Crankee Yankee’s ex-wife lives with them as well.

We were visiting them one day and went out to lunch. Ava was sitting across from me at the table, and out of the clear blue sky she asked me why her biological grandmother, (the Crankee Yankee’s first wife) and Grampy “broke up.”

After I stopped coughing, having swallowed a mouthful of hot soup, I thought ‘oh dear lord, how the heck am I going to address this?!’ I took a deep breath and told her that people sometimes change and go in different directions and that some marriages just don’t last. Thankfully, that satisfied Ava and we went on with our lunch.

What next? I thought, ‘Good Lord in Heaven, please do not let Ava ask me where babies come from!’ However, should she ask me, I will tell her that that is a “very special talk” that only mothers and daughters should have together.

While I am touched that my granddaughter feels comfortable enough with me to ask these questions, I am hyper-aware of where the boundaries are. I try to keep a balance between saying enough but not too much.

As my late and wonderful mother-in-law would have said, “*oy vey ist mir!”

*Yiddsh for ‘oh, woe is me!’ and probably ‘what more can happen?’



Can We Do the Cart-Yak Somewhere Else?

Look, I get it—you are out shopping for Sunday dinner and you run into a friend at the grocery store. You want to catch up, so you park your carts end to end and start yakking. However, there is precious little real estate in the grocery aisles for such chats. Heck, there’s hardly any room for two carts to pass each other in the isles.

I don’t know if this is a lack of common sense and/or courtesy, or maybe this is how things are at this point in time. I always give a pass to the elderly (well, more elderly than me); they move slowly and they have to do what they have to do before their energy runs out. Besides, they are elders and should be respected.

But if you are healthy, strong and have a few working brain cells, could you not block up half the isle, and go somewhere else to have your chats? I think that I attract these folks, too. Just yesterday I wanted to end my shopping with a bag of multigrain bagels. I went to the right isle and there were two gals, cart to cart, yakking away and standing right in front of the multigrain bagels.

As I really don’t like confronting people, I just went down the isle and shopped in a few other isles. I came back four times to pick up my damn bagels and they were still there, talking and blocking. Finally I just asked if I could squeeze in to grab the bagels. They were fine about it, but still went right back to catching up.

Perhaps this is a parenting issue; I can’t really tell. Back when I was growing up, I was reminded on a daily basis that the world did not revolve around me. And should I forget to address an elder respectfully, there were serious repercussions. “Please” and “thank you” were spoken on a daily basis, and everyone held the door open for the next person. You were aware of other people around you at all times, and acted accordingly.

Things were different back then. These days, sadly, it seems that common sense is no longer common, manners have gone the way of the do-do bird, and being aware of others just isn’t on the radar.

Speaking as a do-do bird myself, I miss those times.

When the Truth Comes Out

The “Me, Too” movement has stirred up a lot of controversy. So many people, female and male, have had experiences back in the past that could not be addressed at the time. Speaking as a woman who worked with men in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, you had to put up with a lot of crap back then. It was very usual for the men you worked with to make salacious remarks to you, tell filthy jokes in front of you, give your butt a quick squeeze (“aw, that doesn’t mean anything; I was just being friendly!”), and so on. Back then, it was acceptable behavior.

Men ruled everything, and, as a woman, if you had a problem with a man, there was no one to go to, and no one would take your complaints seriously. It was an atmosphere of men doing whatever they felt like whenever they felt like it. It was like working in a high school locker room. I cannot tell you how many times I drove home in tears of anger and frustration. In their minds, the men seemed to think that their advances, jokes and comments were somehow a compliment to women.

Trust me, we did NOT see it that way. It was abrasive, demeaning, disgusting and hurtful. These days, now that many people are bringing behavior like this to light, many people are asking, “why did you wait so long?” The reason why is that it took years for a “Me, Too” movement to evolve. Back then, if you complained about being picked on or disrespected, you were being “all woman-y” and “emotional” and maybe you were having your period (yes, they talked about that, too) which was making you “bitchy.” As a woman, you just couldn’t win.

At that time, women in the work place were seen as one of three things: 1) fair game for flirting and office affairs, or 2) a motherly type, or 3) a sister type. For myself, I adopted the “sister” role. That kept some of the advances and gropes to a minimum.

If you followed the series, “*Mad Men,” then you have a pretty good idea of what it was like for working women in those days (and the decades to follow). Personally, I am glad to see the “Me, Too” movement. In my view, it’s not so much to demonize men as it is getting the stories straight.

As with most movements, balance is the key. Personally, I don’t view men as monsters, and I think that a gracious plenty of them these are pretty evolved and were raised well. As always happens, things change; some for better, some for worse. I think it’s a good thing that improprieties have been brought to light; they need to be addressed. It’s the only way to leech the poison out that has been held in for too many years.

If you have read “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, you will remember what her old wise friend, Ketut Liyer, the medicine man in Bali told her about men and women: in time long past, men and women were one creature together. They lived this way in harmony, love and peace. When they became two entities, all the harmony, love and peace changed. Perhaps we need to become one again.

My hope is that eventually we will realize that everyone has value and dignity.

*From Wikipedia, “Mad Men is an American period drama television series created by Matthew Weiner and produced by Lionsgate Television. The series premiered on July 19, 2007, on the cable network AMC.

After seven seasons and 92 episodes, Mad Men’s final episode aired on May 17, 2015.[1] Mad Men is set primarily in the 1960s – initially at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City; later at the newly created firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (later Sterling Cooper & Partners) – located near the Time-Life Building, at 1271 Sixth Avenue.

According to the show’s pilot, the phrase “Mad men” was a slang term coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue to refer to themselves, a claim that has since been disputed.”

The Squirrel Apocalypse

I don’t know if this is happening all over the country, or just right here in the Northeast; our roads are littered with dead squirrels. Every road has an abundance of them, so much so that the situation has been named the “Squirrel Apocalypse.”

From WCYY: “Last year, Maine saw what is typically referred to as a “mast year” for acorns, according to a commenter on reddit. More acorns led to a baby boom for squirrels. Fast forward a year later and the normal food supply is available to a larger amount of squirrels. Squirrels are taking more risks to gather food and thus, the fatality rate in roads has risen.”

Some have been saying that the young squirrels (or “millenial squirrels” as the Crankee Yankee and I like to call them) just haven’t been taught how safely cross a busy road. Either that, or they just don’t listen.

So, in the unlikely case that some squirrels will read this post, here’s my advice: “guys—listen to your parents and stay out of the road.”


The Pond and Thorton W. Burgess Books

I grew up listening to my grandmother read me stories from the wonderful series by *Thorton W. Burgess. His animal stories, featuring Happy Jack Squirrel, Jimmy Skunk, Grandfather Frog, Jerry Muskrat, Sammy Jay, Old Mother West Wind and her Merry Little Breezes (to name a few), and so many more wonderful characters, became my friends.

I loved the sound of my grandmother’s voice, and when I learned how to read, I didn’t want to tell her because I wanted her to keep on reading to me.

As I walked around the pond last evening, I felt my grandmother’s spirit with me; as I always do when I walk the pond. She taught me so much about animals and their habits, and because of that I always felt a kinship with nature.

At this time of year, the pond still attracts ducks, geese, blue herons and the rare bald eagle. By now the turtles and fish are getting ready to hunker down in the mud to sleep through winter. The red-winged black birds, who love to nest in the reeds at the edges of the pond, are long gone now. Their nests are abandoned, and their chicks have flown.

As if to show off before the cold weather comes, the edges of the pond are resplendent with color. There is the sage and gold of the reeds in the water, the gorgeous red rose hips, purple larkspur, yellow “Indian paint brushes,” saffron goldenrod, creamy white rambler roses, purple clover, lacy white parasols of Queen Anne’s Lace, and what I call “blush bush” along the path. It’s just a type of grass; when you pick one stem, it doesn’t look pink, but in a cluster they are a beautiful pinky-purple cloud.

The orange jewel weed is out in full flower, and the celadon green milkweed pods are getting ready to turn brown, and crack open, revealing silky white fluff that drifts on the wind, a tiny brown seed clinging to each tuft.

It is a wistful time of year; summer is on the wane, and you can feel a shift in the air. Fall weather is coming, bringing cool breezes during the day and cold ones at night. The leaves are just beginning to turn, and soon the swamp maples will be fire-engine red. It’s a bittersweet time, but each season brings its own beauty to the table.

For now, I’m enjoying the change of seasons, and I wish my dear old friends (especially Jimmy Skunk and Happy Jack Squirrel) the best of all weathers.

*From Wikipedia: Burgess used his outdoor observations of nature as plots for his stories. In Burgess’ first book, Old Mother West Wind (1910), the reader meets many of the characters found in later books and stories. The characters in the Old Mother West Wind series include Peter Rabbit (known briefly as Peter Cottontail), Jimmy Skunk, Sammy Jay, Bobby Raccoon, Little Joe Otter, Grandfather Frog, Billy Mink, Jerry Muskrat, Spotty the Turtle, Old Mother West Wind, and her Merry Little Breezes.

Do NOT Make Me Laugh!

This morning I had to get up earlier than usual, and drink a quart of water and HOLD IT. Yup, you guessed it; I had a kidney ultrasound this morning. Long and boring story short, my doctor found a minimal trace of protein in my kidneys and wanted to check things out. Fine by me; I’d rather be proactive than reactive.

That said, my poor old bladder just isn’t what it used to be…I threatened the Crankee Yankee with certain death if he tried to make me laugh this morning. It’s bad enough to be sloshing full of water, so I truly did not need any humor this morning.

And while I’m on the subject, I never truly appreciated my bladder much until now. I imagine it’s no fun at all to be a bladder, and having to do all those bladdery things that need to be done. However, I am grateful that I did not spring a leak this morning on the table as a very nice woman probed and prodded me. I watched the ultrasound screen and didn’t see any alien life forms, so good deal with that.

I’m all for fixing a small problem before it becomes a larger one, but seriously, it’s not a lot of fun to slosh around for an hour, full of water. Pretty soon, something’s gotta give. Thankfully, it didn’t.

Oh, the things that happen to our bodies as we get older! As the famous Dorothy Parker once said, “what fresh hell is this?”

I couldn’t agree more.