When in Doubt, Consult the Fortune Cookie

The Crankee Yankee and I are fond of Chinese food, and we often end up with a big bag of fortune cookies. Usually we tend to forget about them, but now and then we pick out one or two as a light dessert. We also enjoy the wisdom of the paper fortune inside.

Sometimes during the day I feel like something sweet, but nothing too big; the fortune cookie is just right. I always get a kick out of reading its little wisdoms; it makes a good spin on the day.

Yesterday I took a break and cracked open a fortune cookie. It read “As long as you don’t sign up for anything new, you’ll do fine.” Good advice.

My mother once got a fortune cookie that read, “you will have many friends.” One day a policeman pulled her over for going 10 miles over the speed limit. He asked for her license and registration. The paper fortune was stuck to her license, and he read it. He looked at her and grinned.

She smiled back and said, “so, are you one of my many friends?” His reply—“this time, I am. Now slow down, friend.” To this day, it makes me laugh.

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Bloops and Blurps and Bangs—The Pond Speaks

The other day I walked around the pond, which is now iced over except for a small stretch of open water. The gray ice is full of shatter lines and looks like an enormous puzzle. The seagulls soar over it and sometimes they roost a bit on the ice.

As I walked around, the ice grumbled and groaned and creaked and made loud cracking noises. I could hear the water beneath the ice uttering bloops and blurps of “pond speak.” The larger sheets of ice made lots of snaps and bangs and ominous growls as water shifted beneath the ice.

Quite frankly, the pond sounded cranky that day, and wasn’t at all ashamed of letting everyone know about it. I imagine that it probably prefers the warmer weather when the water is soft and slaps lazily against the banks. During the warm months, the turtles and frogs are about, sunning themselves wherever they can find space.

Great blue herons stand at attention in the shallows, watching for unsuspecting fish to glide within striking distance. Ducks and swans paddle in pairs, muttering to themselves, and once in a while the pond’s mascot, Muskratty von Muskrat, shows up.

But these are cold days and the pond is making its displeasure known. As I walked around it, listening to its complaints, I whispered to it: “I know, buddy; I know. I don’t like the cold, either. But before you know it, all that ice will melt. All the frogs and turtles will wake up and swim up to bask on the logs in the sun. The redwing black birds will start scoping out the best nesting areas, and the little gold finches will come back to roost in the jewel weed.”

The pond grumbled its way through the ice, and the movement of ice sounded like a sigh. The pond really does speak, and when it does, I listen. It and I are old friends now. I have walked around it for nearly twelve years. We understand each other, we commiserate in the cold, and rejoice in the return of warm weather.

Grumble and creak away, old friend; I hear you.

Do I Really Need to Keep This?

The Crankee Yankee is going to renovate our ancient kitchen while I’m in Hawaii next month (I know, sweet deal, huh?). So I have been busy going through all the dusty stuff in our cabinets (which do NOT have doors, therefore the dust is astounding). I swear that I have not even looked at some of the stuff way up on the top shelves for over ten years.

So, while standing on our kitchen step-stool, I brought down the dusty glassware, bowls, salt and pepper shakers, creamers and candle holders. Not only were they filthy, but I realized that I had never used them in all the years we have lived in the house! What in the heck was I holding onto them for?

So I went through the top cupboards, emptying out everything. Then I washed and rinsed all the crud off every piece. The Crankee Yankee had thoughtfully brought out a cardboard box and a big plastic container with a lid; the cardboard box was for the stuff we didn’t use or like. The other container was for the stuff we do like and use, which will go into our new cabinets.

I’d say that I only kept about 5% of that stuff because 1) I liked them, 2) they are useful, and 3) some pieces are very sentimental to me. But even those must have a purpose or they are gone. 

Case in point: years ago when I was still living at home, my mom saved up to buy a set of gorgeous Waterford crystal wine glasses. At the time, they were $8 each; a monstrous price! (Today the same pattern is upwards of $80 each!) But she bit the bullet and bought them. We all loved them, used them, and felt like royalty.

I cleaned all the remaining wine glasses and carefully wrapped them up and gently placed them in the “To Keep” box. Once our new cabinets (with doors!) are in, they will reside in dustless glory, to be used and loved all over again.

Just the top shelves of three of our cabinets are now cleaned out; only the dust remains. I took five boxes of stuff to our local “we’ll-take-anything-you-drop-off” place. I lugged in six (count ’em, six boxes). May they brighten and cheer someone else’s home.

 

Back to the Bead Show

When my mother was creating her beautiful and unique jewelry, she and I and our delightful friend, Patti, would go to the International Gem and Bead shows in the Trade Center in Marlborough, MA. We would also go to the Innovative Bead Show at the Embassy Suites, also in Marlborough, MA. We all loved to make jewelry, and we always had a great time together.

The three of us went to the shows for years, and it was hard to tell which was more fun; going there and buying our treasures, or the hilarious trips back and forth. We took turns driving, and told terrible jokes and stories on the way until we all were crying with laughter. These were utterly wonderful times and how we loved being together!

When Mom died in December of 2015, I thought I would never want to go to the shows again, never mind making jewelry again. Just seeing all of her neatly arranged boxes of beads broke my heart.

Time went by as it always does, and my heart became a little lighter. Dad was still in the house by himself, and was doing all right. I visited him each week, and started to take a few of the bead boxes home with me. One day I found myself thinking of a good color combination for a necklace and earring set. I started making one such set, and was pleased with it.

Day by day, I started working on the beads and making necklaces, earrings and bracelets. I had let grief cloud my enjoyment of making things, and it was good to be back at it. Moreover, I strongly felt that Mom was enjoying it as well.

This past Saturday the Crankee Yankee and I went to the Innovative Bead Show at the Embassy Suites in Marlborough. It felt right to be there, and I think Mom would have approved. The Crankee Yankee found some bits and pieces he could use for his trains, and I found a few things as well.

Funny thing—there was no sorrow or hurt; just happiness and joy to be there. Losing someone dear is painful, but my feeling is that they are with us still; unseen but lovingly present.

 

What If the BEST Thing Happens?

As an accomplished worrier for many years, I can tell you that you can get so wound up with worry that you can lose sleep, get sick, break out in hives, and so on. Worrying affects us head to toe, inside and out, and really doesn’t do one good thing for us. I used to have terrible sleep habits because of worry until I discovered a way to re-direct it.

If you have read “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, you may remember her “island.” When troubled, she imagines herself as an island with only one port. There is a sign on the port that reads something to the effect of “if you are coming into this port with problems, pain, worry, anger, fear and negative energy, you can just turn yourself right around and go back where you came from.” (Sorry, I don’t have the book in front of me so I am not quoting correctly.)

Just this image made a huge difference in my night-time worrying. Oh, I would think of all the “what ifs” such as the house burning to the ground, a hurricane tearing the roof off the house, the cats escaping, and so on and on. That kind of thinking kept me awake and sick with worry. And for what? Of course terrible things can happen; they can happen at any time for any reason.

But, how about this: if we do what we can to be safe, sensible, honest, healthy, happy, etc. (and, of course, my own favorite: locking all doors) then perhaps bad things may pass us by; they may or may not. But then there is this: what if the best things happen? Why not? Aren’t we worthy of having good things happen to us? Oh, I don’t mean winning a gozillion dollars on a scratch ticket (although, that too is possible); I mean just good things happening such as finding that someone left you the last delicious cup cake. Or you got a surprise gift from a friend. Or someone tells you that you look beautiful.

So, why wouldn’t we be worthy of having good things happen to us? Positive thoughts can become positive actions with positive outcomes. If we have no control over what may happen, then why worry? Wouldn’t it be better to just assume that the best will happen? Just that little thought made all the difference for me. Perhaps it will for you as well.

Keep your “island” safe and positive. It’s your island; you make the rules.

My New Time Management System

If you are anything like me, you have a certain period during the day where you are on point, attentive, engaged; your brain is going tickety-boo and everything is right on schedule. However, I find that around 2pm I am pretty much toasted. Anything of any importance has to be left for the next day as I am too stupified to deal with it after 2pm.

When I was in college, I could read, write and get all my homework done well past midnight. I had energy to spare, my mind was sharp and I could easily survive working most of the night. I would occasionally get up and stretch, and run down to the basement to stuff quarters in our snack machines; peanut butter cups and potato chips kept me going. It seemed as if I had great stores of energy and that I could literally do anything. 

Those days are long gone. As the daylight wanes and that last bit of gorgeous alpine-glow heralds the sun’s descent, my brain demands rest from anything too serious. That’s about the time I indulge in funny cat videos, go back to the book I’m reading, or just get a snack and watch some TV. All my smarts and energy need rest as much as I do.

There’s no sense in trying to rally yourself to do ‘just one more thing’ <insert any thought-provoking stuff here>. Energy slows down as we age, and I’m not fighting it. Instead, I prepare for a comfortable evening and a good dinner with the Crankee Yankee. Usually all the cats are hanging out in the living room with us, and, having had a good lunch around 2:15 PM, they are in no hurry to move.

In fact, they are the inspiration for my daily 2pm brain shut-down. Just watch a sleepy cat and you’ll see that they look nearly boneless; stretched out on their favorite spots, eyes half-closed and purring to themselves. We could all take a good lesson from them. You don’t see them rushing around trying to do this, that, or the other thing; when they are done for the day, that’s it and all. 

Try it yourself. It’s easier that you think to bring this little pool of serenity into your life. Decide on what your “shut down” time is, and go for it. It’s amazing how quickly our brains and bodies come to embrace this 2pm phenomenon.

You know, I’d write more, but right now our couch is calling me as well as the new book I bought yesterday. Oh, and that half-finished cookie I left in the living room…