Bird Wisdom

Ever notice how some birds fly in a sort of formation? They wheel and dip and soar together, and when they are tired of that, they all roost on telephone poles and wires. They also like to cluster in trees together, gossiping and scolding each other. They remind me of old women who love to cluck and complain about the youth of each generation.

When I lived in Texas, I became very fond of the birds who liked to perch in the trees next to my apartment. It would be just about the time when the sun started descending into the hills, and the moon would show her shining face to us. It was just as if the birds knew that it was time to settle in for the night, and have their last bit of chatter before sleep.

There was a sweet story I heard long ago about birds in the winter. When the days grew cold and there was little shelter for the birds, the little birds would ask the larger birds if they could cuddle up under one of their wings. The body heat of the big bird would keep a little bird warm and safe during a cold night.

While many of the big birds allowed this, some did not. When an extremely cold night came, the birds sheltered up together to stay warm. However, there were a few of the big birds who refused to shelter the little ones.

When morning came, the sun came out and the air began to warm a bit. All the big birds and the little birds that they sheltered made it through the cold night. But all the big birds who refused to shelter the little ones died of the cold.

Even as little as the birds were who sheltered under the wings of larger birds, their tiny warmth kept the big birds alive. And of course, the warmth of the big birds kept the little ones alive. But those who wouldn’t share died cold and alone.

This little story always reminds me how of important it is to reach out to others, to share what warmth we have to give, and to cherish the warmth of others. We need each other, not just to weather a hard time, but to remember that we are all in this life together.

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Of course the day means more than chocolates and a card, but it’s a great day to try something new for a Valentine’s Day lunch.

If any of you have seen that walnut commercial (walnuts are heart-heathly, BTW), the woman in the commercial is throwing together what looks like a really good salad; with walnuts, of course. It looked so good and so easy that I decided to make it myself. Best of all, not only does it taste good, but it is full of all kinds of healthy stuff as well.

It’s easy-peasy to make:

Ingredients:

fresh spinach leaves

red raspberries

walnuts

sliced sweet onion

crumbled feta cheese (I added that myself; it gives a nice bite to the sweetness)

For the salad dressing, it couldn’t be easier: just whisk strawberry jam and balsamic vinegar together (test the flavor to your liking), then drizzle it over the salad. Mix it up and serve with any kind of protein you like; sliced chicken, steak, ham, etc. Honestly, it’s so good you may want to eat it several times a week. In fact, the Crankee Yankee and I had it twice this week.

He mentioned that, instead of raspberries, you could also add pickled beets to it as well; not a bad idea. Recipes like this are genius; it’s delicious and show-offy at the same time. It looks quite fancy, but honestly, it takes about two minutes to put together.

Having said all that about the salad, I hope that everyone not only enjoys the day but also knows that they are loved. You may be on your own or with family, but whether or not we celebrate with family or friends or by yourself, know this: there are always those who love you.

 

Whatever Happened to “Stop, Look and Listen?”

Remember the “Stop, Look and Listen” signs near railroad tracks? They were and are there for a purpose, which is to make us aware that there is a train crossing. If you stop, look and listen, odds are that you won’t get killed. However, it’s a sad fact these days that people just are not stopping, looking, or listening—at all. It’s as though everyone has decided that no one has to pay attention to anything anymore.

Here’s some examples of high-risk, dead brain behavior I’ve noticed that will really make your liver quiver:

  • Why stop at a red light? Just plow right on through; everyone else will get out of the way.
  • Turn signals? Nope—just go right or left; the people behind you don’t need to be all up in your business.
  • Who looks behind them anymore while backing up? Hey, if there’s anyone back there, they’ll move.
  • I just love rap music turned up loud with the windows down! Doesn’t everyone?
  • What’s wrong with texting while driving? I’m paying attention; it’s all good!
  • Stop signs? Who needs to stop if no one’s around? Just drive right on through.
  • It’s nobody’s business if I drive 30 miles over the speed limit in a school zone. I mean, the kids are all in school anyway, right?
  • Oooh, a service dog! Can I pat him?

Sadly, there are so many more dumb things going on these days. And how many times have I ranted through writing about people walking or running with earbuds or headphones on? If you are not paying attention to who and what is around you, anything can happen to you.

So then back to basics: wherever you are and whatever you are doing, PLEASE remember to always STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN!

 

Old Friends/New Friends

Way back in junior high school, we put on a play, the name of which I can’t remember. But I do remember one of the songs from it. Part of the lyrics were:

“Old friends are better than new friends

‘Cause they know you and you know them.

Old friends are really the gold friends

For when trouble comes they see you through.”

I can’t remember the rest, but those four lines have stuck with me. Our old friends are precious to us for many reasons; we stuck together throughout everything. We had much in common, and we trusted each other. It’s a gift to grow old with the friends from our youth.

However, the new friends we find throughout our lives bring a special joy to our lives. We always know when we meet someone with whom we share an affinity; it’s almost like we have known each other before and are re-connecting. We can actually feel a soul-to-soul connection.

When you think about it, the blend of old and new friends are beautiful gifts. Ever notice that, when you meet someone new, you can feel an instant pull to them? I really don’t think that this is any sort of coincidence, either. I feel as though we recognize each other at a spiritual level.

Our friends, whether old or new, are precious gifts. We may not always agree on everything, but what we do know is that these wonderful friends bring joy and abundance to our lives. Speaking just for myself, I am grateful to the heart for the old and new friends in my life.

Men Are Still Boys

The Crankee Yankee can be serious, down-to-earth, funny, affectionate, compassionate; and downright disgusting. I don’t care how old a man is, they still think it’s hilarious to revert to boyhood at any given moment.

For example, the Crankee Yankee thinks it’s the funniest thing ever to peel off the stringy rubbery goo (seriously, it looks like snot) off the back of a card and put it on the keyboard, the bathroom mirror, and once, on my pillow—just to gross me out. Yuck!

Then there are worse things. Men don’t seem to care about “out in public” etiquette, such as absent-minded nose-picking, adjusting their pants (you know what I mean), telling loud and tasteless jokes while in a crowd, and, my personal favorite; burping or farting loudly just for the hell of it.

All that said, I love and adore the Crankee Yankee, and he does make me laugh. But there are many times when I just look at him and say “really?” If there is even a slight chance that something can be made into a joke, he will do it every time. And since I have such a low humor threshold, I usually just laugh my head off.

I just think that men have a different outlook on life than we women do; if there is something that can be made either funny or just gross, men will go for it. They revert to boyish behavior because they can. 

For example, take those annoying-right-in-the-middle-of-dinner phone calls from someone trying to sell you something, donate something or tell you that something is “bad wrong” with your computer. I pretty much let the Crankee Yankee handle those; he can do it without cracking up (like I would).

Someone recently called and the Crankee Yankee smelled a rat right away. He phone-tortured the person by telling him that he (the Crankee Yankee, that is) was too sick to talk on the telephone. Then, before the other person could get a word in, he went on to graphically tell the caller about his sickness, with a heavy emphasis on vomiting and explosive diarrhea. By then I was weeping with laughter, and the caller just hung up.

I think that, the older a man gets, the more latitude he has to be an obnoxious boy again. They may have gray hair and too many candles on their birthday cake, but they never seem to leave their boyishness behind. Or make a joke about behinds. You know how it is…

 

Anticipation

I am getting more and more excited about my upcoming trip to Hawaii. I will be spending two glorious weeks in Oahu, and, thanks to my wizard of a AAA travel agent, I have great tours every other day. I believe I have everything done to the current TSA standards, and I have a fairly good idea of what clothing to bring (i.e., most of the things I wore last summer).

As my plane is scheduled to leave at 8:00am, that means that I really need to be there around 6am. Just the thought of the Crankee Yankee and I trying to make that deadline gave me the heebie-jeebies. Then a good friend of mine suggested that I take a room in one of the hotels near the airport the night before; genius!

So I made a reservation, and will take the shuttle in to Logan and I should be right on time. Because of the time I need to be in line to check in, I will miss the lovely free breakfast at the hotel, but I’m sure I can survive on granola bars until I’m checked in and can actually buy a meal at the airport, post-TSA.

In thinking about all this, I remember that in years past I traveled all the time. When I lived in Texas, I would take two vacations per year to fly up to be with my parents. I also had to occasionally fly for business, and it just became routine. Of course, this was all way before 9/11.

So, as I haven’t flown anywhere from 2001, this is going to be a great adventure. I have sifted through my old fears about flying, about missing my check-in time, losing my luggage, getting a yappy seatmate, etc. But talking to friends of mine who travel quite a lot, I feel much better. And let’s face it; the odds of a plane crash is pretty damn slim. Besides, I’ve been telling myself for weeks now that everything is going to go well.

There’s something to be said for keeping positive; I believe that my flight to California will be easy and comfortable with a generous layover (about two hours; plenty of time to have a nice dinner), and that my final flight to Honolulu will be just as easy and comfortable.

By now just about all of my questions have been answered, and I feel ready to go and have this amazing adventure. Plus the Crankee Yankee cannot wait to get started on renovating our kitchen. We have lived with the bright orange formica counter tops and the Williamsbury pineapple wallpaper since we moved in at 2007. The cupboards are without doors and collect dust like you wouldn’t believe. I am looking forward to the new gray and lemon yellow kitchen we designed together, and with new flooring.

Honestly, how lucky can a gal get?

“Do You Know What You Did?”

If you grew up in the ’50s as I did, you might remember your parents saying this: “do you know what you did?” This covered acts of rudeness, going somewhere on your own without permission, taking something that wasn’t yours, being “fresh” and also being “smart” (as in “smart-mouthed”).

The whole point of punishment back then was for the miscreant to understand why they were getting punished. For example, in my house, you didn’t just walk out of the house without letting everyone know that you were walking out of the house. That way, everyone knew where you were going and when you would be coming home.

Once on a summer evening, Mom had run a bath for me, and I walked right out of the house by myself. I was about 8 or 9 at the time, and I knew better. But the summer evening was so inviting, so I slipped out of the door and took off on my own. I still remember how thrilling it was to be out by myself!

I wandered around the neighborhood, and was thrilled at my adventure. In the back of my mind, I knew I was going to pay dearly for this transgression, but I didn’t care. I was free and on my own. Of course I planned to go home—eventually. I knew was going to be in deep trouble for running off, but in the moment, I just didn’t care.

Of course, my dad went on the war path looking for me. Eventually he found me, took my by the hand quite firmly and walked me home. He was furious, and even as young as I was, I realized how scared he must have been when I couldn’t be found in the house.

My mom just about cried with relief to see me, and then she lit into me. Both of them said “did you know what you did?” Of course I knew, and I knew I was going to be punished. In our family, the rules of the house were clear and defined. At my age I was not allowed to use the telephone, to raid the refrigerator without asking, and certainly I was not allowed to leave the house without telling my parents.

At my age, there was no spanking; just a sit-down with my parents to go over the rules of the house—again. Of course I knew them by heart, but the fact that I brazenly flew in the face of them must have scared the bejeebers out of my parents. Hence, a review of what I was and what I wasn’t to do was laid out before me—again.

Of course I knew better. Of course I knew I had scared my parents. Of course I knew I was going to be punished. I don’t even remember what my punishment was, but I do remember how I felt afterwards, lying in bed before sleeping. I knew I had broken a serious rule and that I wasn’t going to do that again.

When my parents asked me “do you know what you did?” I parroted back the rule: “no leaving the house without permission.” Mom asked me why I did it, and all I could think of to say was, “I dunno.” But in my heart of hearts, the real reason was this: I left the house on my own, and it felt like freedom. However, I was darn glad to be home.

That night there was no dessert for me, and for the rest of that week I was not allowed to go outside in the evening to join the neighborhood kids to play Red Rover, Statues or Hide and Seek. But even as young as I was, I knew I was paying the price for flouting the house rules.

But here’s the heart of the thing: I completely understood the meaning of “do you know what you did?” It meant “you scared us. We thought that someone stole you. You could have been hurt. You could have gotten lost.” All in all, I paid my dues for breaking a house rule, and I actually learned from it. I knew that I was loved and cared for; that the house rules were meant to keep me safe.

It was a reminder that I never forgot; you may step out of line and be punished, but you are still loved. And “rules is rules.”

Uncouth Raccoons

Raccoons have no manners at all!

They are ungrateful, greedy and brawl

At the drop of a hat,

And then there’s that:

They leave a shameful mess when dining

Muddy footprints, and loud whining

In the night’s middle,

And they have the nerve to piddle

Much too near to where they eat

And leave the muddy prints of all their feet—

They are raucous, rude and pretty darn crude

They growl and grumble with mouths full of food.

And they don’t share politely or step back

When another one wants a snack—

They are selfish, boorish and self-centered

They truly need to be mentored

In basic table manners and kind sharings

Of kibble, fresh water and potato parings—

But I doubt that will happen any time soon

They are and always will be gobbling goons

Oh, those naughty rude and much too cute raccoons!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If I Did That, Then I Can Do This”

As the days go by, I am closer to my trip to Oahu. I’ve bugged my friends who fly about all the “what-ifs” I can imagine, questions about what to put in a carryon bag vs. a suitcase, what kind of snacks to bring that don’t involve nuts, smelly food, and so on. I have filled up 17 tubes and tiny tubs with all my shampoo, conditioner, facial care stuff, etc. I have put “just in case” things into my carryon should my suitcase get waylaid.

With the help from my friends, I have loaded up my Kindle with lots of interesting books, but of course being me I am also bringing a “real” book—just in case. I have rehearsed in my mind how to approach the TSA; I’ve read all the rules, but am not adverse to playing the helpless older woman card; “dear, I’m so sorry to inconvenience you, but you see I haven’t flown since 2001.” Hopefully they won’t throw me in the cargo hold for that one.

I have a neck pillow, and I plan to wear my very comfortable black yoga pants (and by the way; why is there such a kerfuffle about them on a plane? They aren’t see-through leggings or pajama bottoms), and I will buy a pair of compression socks so that my ankles don’t balloon out on my 12-hour flight. Also I plan to buy some decent ear plugs just in case I get a yappy seatmate.

When I looked over my itinerary for the fifth time, I realized that a flight out of Boston at 8:00am means that I need to get there at least two hours earlier. This made me break out in a cold sweat (well, just a ittle one): that would mean that the Crankee Yankee and I would have to get up at a very early hour to get me into the airport on time. He mentioned that there is a bus in nearby Portsmouth that goes to Boston and could take me to the airport, hopefully in plenty of time.

I also thought about getting a hotel room for the night before I leave, which had mixed reviews from the Crankee Yankee (me, too, actually). What if I did that and no one remembered to give me a wake-up call and get the shuttle to pick me up in time? That brought on yet another cold sweat.

I still haven’t decided yet, but I certainly don’t want to have the Crankee Yankee up so early and have to face all that Boston traffic. Plus that would also mean that our cats would not get their breakfast on time (yes, I know; we are well aware that they are all spoiled rotten and are way too stubborn to change).

However, before my emotions went into complete panic mode, I thought of the little “break-throughs” I’ve had lately. You know how it is; you think you can’t do something all on your own and then you remember that you actually pulled up your big girl panties and did the thing you dreaded—with absolutely NO problems.

So, banking on that, I am now into the “if I could do that, then I can do this” mode. I will probably have the Crankee Yankee take me to the bus in Portsmouth, and I am sure that I will get to the airport in plenty of time. I also believe that things will go easily with the TSA and that I will have a perfectly comfortable flight.

Just because I haven’t flown since 2001 doesn’t mean that I can’t adapt. In fact, I am pretty sure that I can adapt AND overcome any fears, doubts or worries. In thinking it all through, I guess the worst thing that could happen would be if the person sitting next to me brought along their therapy peacock—how about 12 hours of that?