A Force to be Reckoned With

We adore our two granddaughters; Ava, who is 8, and Juliette, who is 3. We have loved them since they were babies, and it’s been lots of fun to watch them grow up. Each one has their own personality; Ava is kind and compassionate, interested in the oceans and animals. Juliette is truly a force of nature; she is bright and funny, but she is already showing signs of becoming a true leader. However, sometimes she goes over the limit.

Example: just the other day, her mother had asked Juliette to pick up her toys and put them back in her room. Of course, Juliette wasn’t having this. She kept finding things to do so that she wouldn’t have to haul her toys upstairs to her bedroom.

Her mother, on the edge of frustration, said: “I have an idea. How about you pick up all your stuff, take them up to your room and put them away?”

Juliette crossed her arms, leaned back against the refrigerator and said, “I have an idea, too. How about NO?”

At this point her mother cracked up. The Crankee Yankee and I nearly died laughing when we heard about it. Yes, Juliette was fresh, but hilarious. Honestly, I would have been on the  floor, howling with laughter myself.

I do believe that our granddaughters will make a positive impact on the world. I believe that their generation will do wonderful things, and that children like Ava and Juliette will be positive forces in whatever they choose to do. While I can see Ava working hard to clean up our oceans and make life better for everyone, I see Juliette as a hard-nosed business woman who will do things her way—or else.

In any case, those kids are going to be part of positive change for our planet. And by the way, the Crankee Yankee and I are still laughing about the “how about no?”

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Remember that old sweet hymn, “*His Eye is on the Sparrow?” I thought of it the other day when we found a tiny sparrow on the ground under our birdfeeder. We had already found a dead sparrow a few days ago, which the Crankee Yankee tenderly placed in a box for burial. But this little sparrow under the birdfeeder wasn’t dead, but he didn’t look very healthy.

He was too weak to fly away, so we made a little shelter for him as rain was coming. In it we put some seeds and a little dish of water. He made no attempt to get away, and we figured he was sick or dying. This kind of thing always breaks my heart. But we humans are not in charge of a little sparrow’s life; that is up to the Higher Power.

The next morning the little guy was gone. I hope that he recovered and was on his little feet again. Nature takes its toll of lives everywhere, and there isn’t always a thing we can do to stop it. All we can do is help where we can.

Live well, little one.

*Why should I be discouraged, why should the shadows come
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
And I sing because I’m happy
And I sing because I’m free
Oh, His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me
“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
And I sing because I’m happy
And I sing because I’m free
Oh, His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
Oh, His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
And I sing because I’m happy
And I sing because I’m free
Oh, His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me
Oh, His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.”

Kindness Works

Considering all the uproar and arguments and inflamatory politics and acts of cruelty and just plain meanness, kindness works. It may not take root quickly, but over time, it does, and it blossoms. The tiniest act of kindnesses are like gems; they can take your breath away.

Too many times we hear and see what unkindness is; it is hurtful, debilitating, and it spreads its sickness to too many vulnerable hearts. There are so many people who are hurting inside who choose to take it out on everyone.

Kindness can be such a little thing, too. If you read the excellent Kindness Blog, you will be lifted up by how many people practice kindness, and how a simple little act of kindness can change hearts and minds.

Often children are the ones who show kindness best. Our oldest granddaughter, Ava, was in a store with us and her mother. She loves shoes, so she took off to the shoe aisle. There was a young mother and her little girl there, and Ava walked up to the little girl and said, “you’re BEAUTIFUL!” The little girl gave her a shy smile, and her mother just beamed. And the best thing? Ava meant it and the little girl got it.

There are many uplifting stories that make us know that kindness is not dead; in fact, it’s blooming. Children are running lemonade stands, urging other kids to give away the toys that they no longer play with so that some other kids can enjoy them, and more. There is a positive groundswell of so many other acts of kindness. And the best thing? The children are so focused on helping people that they don’t even consider spending the money they made for themselves. They are too busy creating kindness.

Perhaps we adults can take this lesson from children. I devoutly hope so.

Amazon Clothing Returns

Recently I ordered a top that I really loved; it was a gorgeous purple, with short sleeves and a V-neck. Unfortunately it was made in China. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad at China. I know that their sizes are completely different than US ones. Generally the clothes from there are way too small; but this shirt was big enough for me and the Crankee Yankee to wear.

Ok, not a problem. I’ve returned merchandise before, and it’s usually not a big deal. I wrote to the seller and explained the issue and asked for a return; you get the return label online, you print it and then put it on the package containing the item to return, and there you go.

Now the top was priced at $17.00, but the shipping to China was $36 dollars! Like an idiot, I paid for it. All I can say was that my brain must have been out to lunch; I should have just kept the damn thing and used it as a nightgown.

Ah well, it’s just one of those senior moments, I guess. If the same sort of thing ever happens to you, I hope that you will be a lot smarter than I was.


People may not remember what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

Years ago, I worked as a children’s counselor at the hotel at Dixville Notch, NH. My boyfriend at the time was the swimming instructor and lifeguard. It was a fun job, and while we didn’t see much of each other during the days, it was a beautiful place to work. When we had a little time off, we enjoyed mountain climbing and also riding into town on my boyfriend’s motorcycle.

As our hours were pretty different, we never did have time to eat together. One evening when I was having supper, I knew I couldn’t possibly finish it by myself. I quietly asked the waiter if I could box up my left-overs and also get another meal to go. I planned on seeing my boyfriend that night, and having a late dinner together.

Well—my quiet request turned into this: the waiter said snottily and LOUDLY “you want your leftovers and another meal boxed up?!” People at several tables around me turned to stare. By then I was beet-red with embarrassment and told the waiter to just forget it all. I paid for my dinner and left the table feeling the darts of other people’s eyes on me as I walked out the door.

Seriously, there was no need to be like that; the waiter was being an uber prick. I know that he pretty much hated all of us “newbies” as he had worked there for years. Thanks to that embarrassing encounter, I pretty much lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the rest of the summer, and I just stayed out of his way.

Believe it or not, I am still embarrassed about that. I wonder to this day if that waiter ever turned into a relatively nice human being. Or perhaps he remained a snarky jerk for the rest of his life. Perhaps he got his rich reward; a vicious wife who griped and bitched and pissed and moaned from dawn til dusk. Who knows; perhaps he turned into a semi-decent human being.

But it is absolutely the truth that people may not remember what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.



Division of Labor

It’s funny; sometimes couples will sit down together and decide the division of labor. And it isn’t always what you think; that is, some women prefer to do things like washing the vehicles, painting the living room wall, mowing the lawn and so forth. Some men enjoy cleaning out the pool, cooking, vacuuming, and knitting (the Crankee Yankee’s dad enjoyed knitting. In fact, he knitted the Crankee Yankee and his brother woolen hats and mittens each winter). It all depends on what each partner likes to do.

With us, the Crankee Yankee does the creative work of fixing and improving our house, planting and weeding our gardens, managing the bills and so forth. He also is the one to get up at 4am to *feed the cats. Later in the morning, he cleans out all the litter boxes (with six cats, we have seven litter boxes; cats like variety, too) and puts down fresh litter for them. He also takes care of our vehicles, and he faithfully registers my car every year.

For my part, I do the cooking and baking, washing the dishes (well, getting them ready for the dishwasher, that is), emptying the trash, tidying up, making the bed and changing the sheets, and keeping up with the laundry. I keep the calendar updated with vet and doctor appointments and so on, and I pick out the birthday, holiday and thank-you cards.

It’s a good system, and it works for us. When I was in my teens, my mother would talk to me about what to look for in a husband. She would warn me that looks and slick talk don’t mean a thing; it’s all about who the person is in his own skin. She taught me to look at the real person; was he truthful, honest, kind, forgiving, intelligent, loving?

She told me not to be fooled by first appearances; as she said, “they will want to impress you so that you will like them. But, remember to watch how he is with people other than you. For example, say he is taking you out to dinner and he is rude to the waiter. Know this: sooner or later, you’ll be the waiter.

As usual, Mom was right. The Crankee Yankee and I have our own ways of doing things, and it works for us. Another thing I learned from Mom was this: even though the other partner has only washed out his coffee cup, dried it and put it away, it’s worth a “thank you.” A little thing to say to be sure, but it is after all the little things that make a difference. The division of labor works, and so far, no one’s complaining.

Win, win!

*Our cats have a regular feeding schedule, just like newborn babies. The Crankee Yankee set it up and it works. Our cats can’t tell time, but they certainly know when it’s time to eat!

The Fussy Apple Lady

You know how it is: the weather gets cooler, and we start to prepare for Fall. The humidity drops, and the days are sunny and comfortable. We start thinking of the coming cool weather and how much we enjoy it. And we also start hankering for Fallish foods; such as sweet and crunchy apples.

Mind you, the apples have been right there in the produce section all summer long, but they really feel like a Fall fruit. So, there I was, right there in the fruit section; my mouth already watering for a delicious Pink Lady apple.

However, also right in front of me in the fruit section was a young woman who also wanted Pink Lady apples. That’s fine; they are popular and lots of people love them as much as I do.

Here’s where the fussy part begins: I swear that she picked up no less than a dozen of the Pink Lady apples; one by one for examination. For each one she picked up, she looked it right in the eye (or the stem which serves as the apple’s “eye”). She rolled it in her hand, sniffed it, looked it all over, then put it back to examine another one. After feeling up at least six of the Pink Ladies, she finally decided on the one that had to be the Queen Of All Pink Lady Apples.

I stood there and watched her for at least three solid minutes. She had to have seen me, but obviously her hunt for the perfect apple was deeply important for her. Should I have said something or not? I chose ‘not’ just in case she was some kind of apple psychopath.(Hey, you never know!)

But finally she found the one Pink Lady apple that shall henceforth be known as the ultimate Pink Lady. I surely hope it was worth all that poking, sniffing and prodding.

PS: I made sure that the apples I took had had no contact with the Fussy Apple Lady.


Mom’s Old Address Book

I recently found my mother’s old address book. Nearly every page was filled with her distinct loopy writing; loopy as in creative and unique. It was not only easy to read, but it spoke of her particular genius and unique spirit. No one else’s writing has moved me like hers.

When she was in Hospice and in her own bedroom, she and my father told me that they wanted to give me her car; her beloved white Kia Rondo. While I was thrilled to have it, it made me sad to see that her beautiful and unique writing had become nearly illegible.

When she died, I wept not only for the loss of her, but also of that lovely loopy hand writing. I made sure that her footstone in the cemetery was carved with her name in its signature writing.

When we lose one of our dear ones, it isn’t just the loss of the person we mourn; it is also all those sweet and lovely things that defined them.

When the time came that she could no longer write well, I mourned the loss of her writing as much as I mourned for her. So many lovely little things get left by the wayside when one of our loved ones are dying. But these are the things we remember when our loved one leaves this earth.

Her old address book, filled with that lovely loopy writing, is just just another part of my mom that I won’t forget. I was going through yet another box of stuff i had promised myself I’d get back to after the holidays. In it were some letters Mom wrote to her brother, Raymond, when she was married to my biological father. In it, she referred to me as “Baby Chick.” I would never have known this sweet fact if it wasn’t for her unique handwriting.

This is a bittersweet gift; these letters from such a long time ago. Mom and I never talked much about those years, but reading her letters filled in the blanks for me. I am pretty sure that Mom had a hand in it; where she is now is full of many little miracles.

A Single Moment in Time

Yesterday morning the Crankee Yankee and I decided to go to our favorite breakfast place. The food is always good, and the service is friendly. We were driving in the truck and were ready to turn left on the main street when a huge McClane truck barreled toward us and did not stop. The driver turned right into the street where we were, missing us by inches. It was a close call, and he didn’t even slow down.

We were pretty shaken up about it (well, I was, anyway), and we followed him after he parked by Walgreens so that we could have a little chat with him. Now the Crankee Yankee had been a trucker for over 15 years, and in a situation such as ours, the truck driver either slows way down, or lets the other vehicle go first.

When the Crankee Yankee talked with the  driver; a large youngish guy with an attitude, he was a bit on the belligerent side. He told the Crankee Yankee that he was running late (as it turned out, he is often late) and had to get to his destination on time. They had a brief discussion about this and I told the guy that he scared me half to death. His answer? “I’m sorry you were scared.” Absolutely no apology for nearing killing us just because he was late. As if this was all our fault.

I didn’t stop shaking for a half hour. I had taken down his license number and truck ID number, and left a message at his office. Fortunately the Crankee Yankee got the call back and explained the situation. The person on the other end assured him that this would be dealt with and soon.

This was one of those surreal situations when you are sure you are going to die. All I could think of in those short moments was about those I love. Would I get to see my granddaughters graduate, find careers, have their own families? Would someone tell our friends that we died? And what would happen to our cats? All this in a single moment in time.

Life can be snuffed out in seconds. We were lucky, and I hope with all my heart that the young trucker learned something and will be more careful. Even today, the thought of what could have happened makes my blood run cold. I guess you could say that the angels were watching out for us!