Back to the Crabby Pants Journal

I originally published this a few years back; however, the things that made me crabby back then still make me crabby!


From the Crabby Pants journal, which exists for all the stuff that makes me crabby, such as:

  • There is no such word as REE-LA-TOR. It is realtor, pronounced “REEL-TOR.”
  • When you fall down in a house, a library, a school, the workplace–-in short, somewhere indoors, you can say that you fell on the floor. When you fall down outside; that is, where there is grass, cement, clay, etc.; in short, an outside surface, then you say that you fell on the ground. 
  • People who have no idea what the true usage of a word is; that is, they make up some variation of it that makes no sense. Example: I once overheard a waiter speaking with a customer who was talking enthusiastically about the new golf course in town. He had had a great game and the waiter, who proclaimed that he, too was a golfer, said, “How did you find the degree of difficulticity of the course?”
  • It is correct to say “It’s not that big a deal.” It is INCORRECT to say, “It’s not that big of a deal.”
  • This one is from a TV commercial. A pretty girl, sitting in her bedroom, looks at the camera and says, “When I’m on my period, I take <insert pain killer brand here>.” You can be ON a motorcycle, or ON a bicycle, or ON a fencepost, etc. Correctly, it is “when I’m HAVING my period.” You HAVE a period, you don’t actually GET ON a period. Period.
  • When “jewelry” is pronounced “JOO-Lery.” Look at how it’s spelled; “JEW-EL-RY.” Enough said.
  • Opening up a Christmas card–and being showered with a pile of sparkly confetti. If this is supposed to make me happy, it doesn’t. It just means that now I have to vacuum–and I hate vacuuming. Thanks for nothing.
  • People who chew gum loudly. If they could only do it with their mouths closed discretely, I could live with it. But no–-we are treated to everyone’s dental work as they clop, clop, clop that gum loudly.
  • When did ending a conversation with “” as if it were a logical end of the sentence become common? Example: “I bought this cute hat, took it home and put in on and it just didn’t look right, so….” SO, WHAT?!? End the sentence already! “So” is no way to end a sentence.
  • The world is NOT a trash can. PLEASE pick up your stuff–trust me when I say that the Clean-Up Fairy gave up on you a long time ago.
  • Pick up your dog’s poop. Seriously–if you’re going to have a dog, he/she is going to poop. So do us all a favor, and bring plastic bags with you and pick up the crap.
  • People who don’t EVER use directionals when they drive!
  • People who toss lit cigarette butts out of the windows of their cars (what? That fancy-schmancy vehicle doesn’t come with an ASH TRAY?!).
  • The now-common custom of people giving you your change with the loose change sitting on top of the bills, making me spill all the coins on the ground (or floor) while I simultaneously try to stuff the bills in my wallet. Really–is it THAT hard to just give me change with one hand and the bills with the other?
  • People who say “like” all the time – either something IS or IS NOT.
  • Tissues that come out of the box attached to each other like magicians’ scarves – just ONE at a time, please!
  • Weak coffee.

And so ends the Cranky Pants journal for now. But you can be sure that there will be more!

What’s With All the Grabbing?

Is it just me, or is just about everyone saying “can I grab you this or that?” or “let me grab that drink for you,” or “I’ll go grab your order right now,” and so on? What’s up with the grabbing?

Other possibilities could be “can I bring you a menu?” or “let me get that drink for you,” or “I’ll go pick up your order right now.” When did we become such a grabby society? In fact, when did we start losing our ability to be polite, to speak carefully so that people can understood us, or observe a few social niceties; you know; such as holding a door open for someone, saying “good morning/good afternoon/good day,” or just a smile and a “how are you?”

Of course, people of my age were raised and schooled differently than how kids are raised and schooled today. The sayings are different, the music is different (although I have to say that some of the new music is absolutely brilliant!), dancing is different, school is different, and most certainly, parents are different.

This is not to say that my generation was or is any better than this generation; it’s just different. I used to chuckle when my mother would get incensed about women who “whooped” loudly at games, shows, etc. She would roll her eyes, sigh and say, ‘in my time, no woman would be that crass; it just wasn’t done.’ Another place, another time, I guess.

I suppose all this grabbing is a sign of the times as well. Perhaps the whole grabbiness deal comes from technology that just wasn’t around when we were kids. Today it seems like everyone wants quicker/faster this, that and the other thing; just like the song from Queen that goes “I want it all/I want it all/And I want it NOW!”

Ah well, things change, and like it or not, we probably need to change as well…how’s that grab you?

The Free Table

The Crankee Yankee and I have two storage units, both filled to the brim with all the stuff from Mom’s and Dad’s house. We go to each one regularly to weed out the things we can use, things we don’t want but can be put in auction, or stuff we can put out on our Free Table in our driveway.

Mom’s and Dad’s house was a lot bigger than our house, hence more stuff to deal with. Mom’s taste and mine were very different. When I was growing up, it was quite usual for ladies to have “must-have” things like tea sets, “special” china (for company, don’t you know), platters, soup tureens, candle sticks, tea pots, cake plates, fancy dishes (I always called them “foo-foo” dishes), glass and brass doo-dads, special linens for company, vases, and so much more. Sad but true, all that stuff isn’t really in vogue these days. Hence, the Free Table.

I’ll admit that some of the gee-gaws pull at my heart; I lived with them during my growing-up years. I knew all about them; when Mom and I cleaned the house, she would tell me where this and that came from, and what they all meant to her. For example, there are two brass candlesticks that I kept them for myself; they belonged to Mom’s mother, Effie. She died of pancreatic cancer when Mom was only 14 years old. So having those little brass candlesticks remind me of the grandmother I never knew.

I love having a Free Table; I like to think that some young couples who are just starting out might enjoy having and using some of these things. I realize that a lot of people will not only pick out things for themselves, but they also may be folks who love to set up a table at a flea market. Either way, some folks get to enjoy my mom’s stuff.

I like to think that Mom approves of her things being enjoyed by others. She and I had a saying about things like this which went: “if you don’t like it, you are free to throw it at the wall of your choice.” That still makes me laugh!

Sorry For the False Alarm

Dear readers, I have to apologize for my massive error in this morning’s post. Sometimes I just don’t have a good theme for a post and go back through some older ones and post one of them. The post I put up this morning caused a few of my friends to worry about my health and I am so sorry about that.

I was in a hurry this morning; we had another cat emergency and had to get him to the vet ASAP. Long story short, he’s ok now. But I certainly wasn’t paying full attention to the post I put up.

It was from over a year ago when I had my second round of DCIS. Please know that I did recover beautifully from that, and so far, no problems have come up. My boobs are in good standing, so to speak. Well, they certainly aren’t as perky as they used to be, but they’re still there.

I apologize to anyone who worried about me; all’s well. To my friends; I owe you one (or two).


Changing Our Moods

Yes, it can be done–you can choose your mood! I know from experience that often when I’m having a pissy day, some stubborn little root inside my heart likes that pissy day, and doesn’t want to change it. It’s the kind of indulgence that feels great at the time; afterward, not so much. There is a perverse pleasure in being Crabby von Crabbenstein for a few minutes, hours, or days. It’s like eating potato chips and chocolate ice cream for two days straight–it’s fun for a while, but it isn’t sustainable.

Contrary to popular belief, bad moods don’t just drop down on us from the sky. Suffice to say that they exist and that we all have them from time to time. The hard part is deciding if we want to stay in that bad mood, or lift ourselves out of it.

For years I couldn’t understand how to do that; how to make myself happy, or at least less miserable. But it is surprisingly simple to make that change. The longer I live, the more I realize that our mental pain comes from fear or resentment or just plain loneliness; no one seems to want to be with us or appreciate us. That’s when it’s time to haul out the cheerleader pom-poms (and no–I never was a cheerleader in high school) and cheer for YOURSELF.

So here’s what I’ve been doing to at least show myself that I am still somewhat on the ball: I make a list each day. By the end of the day, there may only be things on it such as “I made the bed,” “I emptied the dishwasher,” “I made a pitcher of iced tea,” “I did a load of laundry,” “I brushed my teeth,” and “I wrote and sent a letter to my uncle.” But they are accomplishments, little as they might be. That list cheers me up and lets me know that, even though I still don’t feel like my old pre-lumpectomy self, I am still in the game, and still doing something each day.

One of my favorite saying comes from the wonderful Scottish folk: “many a mickle makes a muckle.” This means that many little things add up to big things, and that’s GOOD.

Additionally, I have learned to talk myself out of bad moods. There is an amazing power to hearing your own voice say, “Now c’mon, that’s enough of being negative. Start thinking about all the many things in your life.” Then what starts out as a little trickle of goodness becomes a flood of good things. Another trick in my tool bag is saying out loud (and it works so much better when you DO say it out loud), “I am NOT going to be in this bad mood! I’m going to have a GREAT day, and nothing is going to stop me from having it!”

Oh sure, if you’re doing this while driving (which I often do), people will probably stare at you, but so what? You are the one who is going to have a great day, no matter what their day is going to be. When some impatient twerp behind me roars by and gets one car length ahead of me, I say (again, out loud), “Good–I’d a whole lot rather have you ahead of me than behind me!” Wish them well and go on with your day.

So can it be that simple to change moods? Yup–it is, it truly is that simple. And if a big old crabasaurus like me can do it, so can you.


The Magic of Acting

Each year our high school put on a drama, such as The Diary of Anne Frank, and then a musical, such as L’il Abner. In my senior year, the musical was “Anna and the King of Siam.” I was lucky enough to get the role of Anna. That show was especially bittersweet for me as it was the last show I would take part in.

The last night of the play when we all took our bows, many of us burst into tears, knowing that we would be long gone from school and the plays, off to college and other adventures. But something special happened on that last night for me.

Francis Cleveland (son of the late great president Cleveland), who put on all the summer plays in Tamworth, NH, was getting ready to start rehearsals for summer. He was in the process of looking for a likely candidate for an ingenue (a young girl or young woman) to round off his summer players.

He happened to come to our high school for that last show. After we took our last bows at the end of the show, he introduced himself to me and asked if I would be interested in summer stock. Would I! I had loved being in plays in school, and just the thought of being able to act all summer long was a dream come true. By this time, my parents were on stage with me, and Francis introduced himself and told them that he was interested in me joining the other players. They were on board with it, and Francis had one more question for me; he asked if I was planning on being an actor as a career. I told him that no, I loved being in plays, but I wanted a “real life.” He smiled and shook my hand and said, “good; you’re hired!”

That summer was the absolute best one of my life. I was on my own, I had my own room at the Tamworth Inn, and the other players were very kind and accepting of me. I had a few lead roles, which were a lot of fun. But just being on stage with other players was heaven on earth for me.

Being in a play is like falling in love.  Like a new romance, you start with the hand-holding and passionate kissing stage; which, translated into being in a play means learning your lines, getting your blocking down pat from the director so you know where you are supposed to be at all times when you are on stage. You even find yourself memorizing everyone else’s lines, just so you can be sure of your cues, and understand how the other characters react to your character.

Then you move on to the ‘am I really in love or just kidding myself’ stage. You get all your lines memorized and work hard to be the best and most believeable character you can be. In doing so, you begin to BE that person. You start looking at the world through their eyes, their experiences, their interactions and relationships with the other characters in the play. You slowly realize that you are only part of the play, even if you are a main character. The play becomes a second family; you know who you are and who everyone else is, and how you all fit together.

Now comes the real test of love: opening night on stage with everyone in costume, and a full house out front. Your stomach turns as you hear the orchestra tuning up, and you know that it won’t be long until the overture starts.  The final notes are played, the audience applauds and the curtain goes up, and the show begins.

In seconds, you know whether or not you are going to completely blow it, or trust in that cellular memory of all those rehearsals and memorizing lines before you slept. You take a breath, clear your head, and take that first step into the light. The funny line always got applause, and then you realize that you and everyone else on stage is spot-on and ready to make the magic happen.

Before you know it, the play is over. You are being hugged and are hugging your second “play family” members, knowing that you did a good performance and, better yet–-that the play went off without a hitch.

That is the magic of acting.

Birds and Squirrels and Rabbits, Oh My!

The Crankee Yankee and I will feed any creature; cats, birds, skunks, squirrels, rabbits, and the occasional woodchuck and raccoon. Each year when our garden is bursting with vegetables, we feed all the critters so that they leave the produce alone. We put up a bird feeder, and the birds and squirrels dine on the seeds. The rabbit (whom we call Peter) enjoys the baby carrots I toss out for him each morning. So far we’ve had no incidents of critters digging up the gardens; they have plenty to eat.

The birds love the seeds, as do the squirrels. Now and then we get a few gorgeous red cardinals and their ladies, and sometimes, if we’re lucky, we see a beautiful humming bird (note to self: buy a humming bird feeder!). One in a great while, we see a blue bird. When we do, we feel he brings us good luck.

All the creatures seem to get along; it’s as if they have figured out that they will be fed each day, and there is so much to eat that no one has to fight about it. It’s sort of a lesson about getting along and respecting each other. We can learn from the wild life; how they get on with each other, tolerate each other and find a way to get what they need without harming each other.

The Crankee Yankee and I get our cups of coffee in the early morning and go sit out on the front porch to watch the wild life show. It’s better than TV!

The Last Time I Saw the Milky Way

Years ago, my mom and dad loved to go to Maine for the summer. They ran two businesses; Dad’s camp patrol and his photography. They always wrapped everything up in mid-June, and then would travel up to Maine to enjoy the summer in their favorite cottage.

At the time, they stayed at different locations, then gradually settled into what became their favorite spot in Bristol. Around that time, the Crankee Yankee and I had re-discovered each other. Both of us had survived divorces, and the Crankee Yankee and I eventually started dating.

It wasn’t long before we become engaged, and, during that summer, we visited Mom and Dad in a pretty ritzy rental home facing the ocean. For some reason, we called it the September House. We enjoyed roasting hot dogs in a fire on the beach, and we discovered that that beach was full of raw moonstones.

One evening the sky was especially clear, and the Milky Way was strewn across the dark blue sky like a trail of endless shimmering diamonds. It was breath-taking. I always think of that amazing sight when I remember those days when the Crankee Yankee and I were newly engaged.

Sometimes nature celebrates us; what a gift!

Accepting People Where They Are

It’s taken me years to understand this: you must accept people where they are, not where you might want them to be. It’s human nature to think that other people should be thinking as we do, because after all, what we do seems to work for us. But the reality is that we are all on our own quests, and we are all individual in what our particular quest is.

When I was a lot younger, I just couldn’t understand why people didn’t function as I did. It embarrasses me greatly to think about that now; I was so young and so sure that I knew it all. Well, surprise, surprise: none of us knows it all, especially young smarty-pants me. Live and learn.

For example, the Crankee Yankee and I have known each other since we were in our 20s. He married his first wife, and I married my first husband. Neither marriage worked out and eventually we got together and married. It’s been over 17 years so far, and has  been so good.

Of course, we both bear scars from our first marriages. Even though we know that we love and care for each other, there is still a part of us that sometimes wonders if our marriage could ever fall apart. We certainly hope not; however, the mind sometimes does funny things to us.

Case in point: the Crankee Yankee’s first wife was hard to please, especially regarding gifts. It seemed that whatever he gave her for birthdays or Christmas either were not what she really wanted, or it wasn’t the right thing; something was always not right. In time, he gave up trying to please her.

So each birthday, anniversary or Christmas, he gives me a generous gift card for T.J. Maxx, my favorite place to shop. Generally I always pick out jewelry first. That’s a lot of fun and I love it, but there are times when I would love for him to pick out something for me. I’ve given him my ring sizes, my bracelet and necklace sizes, hoping that he would some day surprise me.

But emotional scars last and, even though we know that we are the loves of our lives, some experiences stay with us. After 17 years of marriage, I understand how the Crankee Yankee works. He wants me to have exactly what I want, and the gift card gives me that freedom. This is part of accepting a person where they are, and there’s nothing wrong with that. People have many ways of showing love.

Once we come to terms with the people in our lives, we can love them unconditionally. The inconsequential stuff is not what matters; what does matter is that we honor the person and love them where they are. Or, as one of my uncles used to say, “look at the doughnut, not the doughnut hole.”