For All of Us Easy Criers

Let’s face it, it’s not always comfortable to see people crying. Speaking only for me, it’s a not a pretty sight; mascara dripping down, runny nose and all. That being said, those of us chronic criers feel that we are generally too tender-hearted for our own good. I can watch a coffee commercial during the holidays where the son comes home from overseas to be with his parents and devoted dog—and I’ll be sniveling and snorting all through it.

I’ve learned to live with it (anyone know if there’s a Cryers Anonymous anywhere?) over the years. I can’t help it, and most of us frequent cryers who cry about everything will agree with me; it’s hard to stop those flood gates. It’s not unusual for me to carry at least four handkerchiefs with me every day; sometimes more.

However, there is this: our tears come because we care and because we love. We wear our tender hearts on our sleeves, and we can’t help it. For years I was embarrassed about my tears, but now, at this age, who really cares? The greatest thing about getting older is that you can finally not give a damn about what other people think. We older folks are finally in the stage of who we really are; we don’t have to pretend any more.

So there—we can laugh or cry or have a hissy fit; whatever works for us. For me, it’s tears, and I’ve stopped being ashamed of them. That said, at least I am supporting the handkerchief industry.

Thanksgiving With the Grandgirls

As is our tradition, we had Thanksgiving with the grandgirls; Ava and Juliette, and their parents, yesterday. Juliette had made special Thanksgiving pictures for everyone. Everyone had a job to do: Adria, their mom, put us all to work. The Crankee Yankee showed Ava how to chop mushrooms, Juliette supervised me while I cut up the redskin potatoes, and all the dogs waited patiently for someone to drop some food their way.

The turkey was roasting in the oven, along side the stuffing and  creamed spinach. A bowl of homemade coleslaw nestled beside a dish of roasted sweet potatoes with little marshmallows on top. Everything smelled delicious.

Before too long, the girls got restless and they took me downstairs to the basement to play. The basement is set up on one side for a treadmill and workout equipment. The other side has a thick mat where the girls love to play, and a small trampoline. Ava showed me her lastest dance moves, and Juliette and I played catch; neither one of us could throw accurately, but it was still a lot of fun.

Soon it was time to go upstairs and set the table. We all sat down, said our blessings, and enjoyed a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. None of us had room for dessert, and we sat around groaning that we ate too much. (Worth it, though!)

If you remember the famous poem by Lewis Carroll, Jabberwocky, we all pretty much talked of many things:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

All in all it was a fabulous day. The Crankee Yankee and I hugged and kissed our wonderful grandgirls and their equally wonderful parents, patted all the dogs and the cats, and drove home. Every Thanksgiving we all say the same thing: “wasn’t this the BEST Thanksgiving ever?!”

I hope that yours was the absolute best Thanksgiving ever, too.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all—

Whether you’re with family or none at all;

Think of what we have, not what we have not—

Be thankful for all the friends and family we’ve got.

They may be here or looking down from above;

In any case, they bring us memories and love.

Pass the turkey and the gravy, too–

And don’t forget who made this feast for you.

Families and friends together, whether present or not

Are still in our hearts, minds and souls–be thankful for what we’ve got.

Put aside politics, griping and all such whining—

Just laugh, talk and eat til your plates are shining!

The best Thanksgiving is here at last,

So make it a good one before it’s past—

Be joyous, be grateful, and most of all, be present!

Enjoy the repast, whether turkey, chicken or pheasant.

It’s the start to our holiday season

So let’s be joyous and grateful beyond all reason!

Dipping My Toe in Book Promotions

Way back when my mother and I wrote a delightful rhyming book called “Shopping at the Ani-Mall,” Mom took care of contacting book stores to promote our book. It was published by Windswept House (sadly now defunct) and all illustrations were from Pam Devito.

Now that I have my own children’s book out; “Lulu’s Book of Children’s Stories,” it’s up to me promote it. My wonderful publishers; Steve and Marilynn Carter of MAAT Publishing, sent me a long list of book stores to contact. All of them know about MAAT and have other books in their shops published by MAAT. Also many book stores have had events and book signings and readings as well.

So—there I was, Mom-less, and on my own. So, in my own way, I sort of “channelled” Mom to get started. I could almost hear her saying, “oh, c’mon; you can do this! It’s not that hard; just call and set up a time. If they don’t want to take your book, so what? Move on to the next one!”

It took me some time to write a simple preamble that I could use on the phone; introducing myself and my book and mentioning my publishers. I called one bookstore and we set a date for this coming Saturday. I emailed another one (as my publishers told me that they prefer that rather than calling), and haven’t heard back yet. BUT–it’s a start!

I’ve decided to call two bookstores each day (not Thanksgiving, of course) to set up times to come by with my books. As Christmas is coming, I would love to know that my book will land in some kids’ stockings. Perhaps the kids are already readers; perhaps they are just starting to read. Or best of all, perhaps it will it be a book that parents can read to their children to settle them down for sleep.

Having grown up with books myself, my hope is to get kids interested in reading, or just love being read to by parents. I realize that hundreds and thousands of people read online, and that’s just fine. But having been surrounded by books at an early age, I still love the feel and smell of a real book; the kind you hold in your hands, savoring each page.

By the way, should YOU be interested in buying my book, you can contact me at g_woman_j@yahoo.com, or follow me on Facebook at Jane Bullock Fraser.

 

 

Vanity Plates and Why We Love Them

I wrote this years ago, and it still makes me laugh. Since many of us will be on the road this week, we can at least get a laugh or two while driving!

 

The first vanity plate I ever had was in college with my first car, a pale yellow Nissan. The plate read “JAY-B,” my nickname at the time. I used to love to have people shout out, “hi, JAY-B!” when I drove around.

After that, I just didn’t bother. But I do have one now I’ve had for a few years: “KTNXBYE” (“Ok, thank you, goodbye!”). I get a kick out of people asking me what it means.

The Crankee Yankee wants his next license plate to read “TRSTNO1” (“Trust no one”). We are both huge X-Files fans.

Others I’ve seen in NH read “POOP-C,” “HA-HA,” “NAZGUL” (obviously a Lord of the Rings fan), “PIGLET” (on one of those little tiny Smart cars–hilarious!), and also these:

  • BUHBYE
  • TOOTER
  • UR2LAT8
  • POOTER
  • U2SLOW

Then there are these from other states:

From New York: “MMMBACON”

From Virginia: “OMG MOVE”

From Maine (on a septic system truck): “GOTPOOP”

On a hearse: “U R NXT”

A few that had to be accidental are these:

From Georgia: “4NNIK8”

From California: “FNKIDS” (I think they meant “fun kids”)

From Pennsylvania: “NCST MOM” (I think they may have meant “nicest mom”)

From Virginia: “4SKINZ” (really?)

From California: “DVA GINA” (this was actually Gina the Diva’s car)

So why do we love vanity plates? Personally, I think we like to stand out a little, make a comment with our vanity plates, or just enjoy them as a conversation starter.

There was another I saw online from Virginia that cracked me up: the car was an Impala, with “Impala” stamped right below the plate that read “VLAD THE” so that it looked like “VLAD THE IMPALA.” Hilarious!

Making up a cool or funny vanity plate using only a limited number of letters and numbers, or, in the case of poor Gina the Diva; an unconscious boo-boo which will live on far after the car has slipped its moral coil–well, that’s beyond mere vanity; that’s pretty dang clever.

Plus it’s good entertainment on the road.

Believe It or Not, You CAN Change Your Mood

I wrote this back in 2015, and yet, it’s still true today.

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 let it go. 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 it 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; we often feel that 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 OURSELVES.

So here’s what I’ve been doing to at least show myself that I am still somewhat on the ball: I make a mental 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,” and “I wrote and sent a letter to my uncle.” But they are accomplishments, little as they might be. That list cheers me up. Even though I still feel like I haven’t done much of anything, that list makes me feel that I am still in the game, and still doing something each day.

One of my favorite sayings 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 good 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 cranky old crabasaurus like me can do it, so can you.

 

A Chilly Pond Walk

I always feel that I am immitating Garrison Keilor (who created the “Lake Woebegon” stories) when I write about my pond walk. And why not; the pond and its surrounds are filled with plenty of interresting “folks:” ducks, swans, turtles (including one king-size whopper, whom I call the King of the Turtles), a pair of muskrats, blue herons, cormorants, seagulls, and sometimes if I am very lucky; a bald eagle.

Needless to say, it’s a chilly walk around the pond these days; it’s a definitely a day for a hat and mittens, along with a warm coat and a scarf. The pond is frozen over, and all the frogs and turtles have hunkered down deep into the mud to sleep until Spring wakes them. As I walk around the pond, the other side, where there is still open water; is deep blue-green and looks freezing cold.

The reeds that surround the pond are dry now and chatter in the wind, and all the pink rambler roses, goldenrod, purple asters and milkweed are gone; only hardened stems remain. All the red-wing black birds who guarded their nests so fiercely in the spring have moved on; their babies are grown and are on their own. However, the seagulls still wheel over the pond, calling hoarsely to each other.

It was my grandmother who taught me about the forest creatures and the birds. In the meadow behind my grandparents’ house, there were rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and once a bobcat. I still remember the blood-curdling scream it made, warning all creatures that it was around and to beware.

So on my pond walks I keep my eyes and ears open to creatures who might be in the vicinity. I always feel my grandmother’s presence when I walk around the pond; she was my mentor on all things of nature. It is because of her that each winter, the Crankee Yankee and I keep the bird feeder full of seeds. We also put out suet packs for them (you can find them in stores such as Odd Lots: they come in handy plastic pans you can put out on the ground or on a shelf on a bird feeder). During the winter, the birds need the fat and protein to keep them warm.

On my way home, I sent a message to my grandmother, thanking her for her wisdom, knowledge and love. Where she is now, her eye too is on the sparrow, and I know she is watching over me.

 

What To Do With an Old Pal?

In this case, the “old pal” is a teddy bear, name of Percy, whom I had when I was a baby. He was my first toy, and I slept with him every naptime and every night. As I grew up, I slept with him every night. When I went to college, Percy came with me.

So he traveled with me over the years; when I had a job and an apartment of my own, when I moved to Texas, when I married my first husband, when I got divorced, when the Crankee Yankee and I caught up with each other and eventually married; and so on and on to this very day. In fact, as I sit at my desk writing this, he is staring at me as he sits on the shelf behind me.

Quite frankly, I can’t imagine life without old Percy. He, like me, has lost some of his looks over the years, but he is still sweet and endearing to me. I once thought of giving him to one of my granddaughters, but in the end I couldn’t do it. I think that he will probably rest with me when I die; I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

So what do we do with our old pals from childhood? Years ago I gave away lots of toys and games and books and such, but I couldn’t let Percy go; I still can’t. But even now when 70 isn’t so far away any longer, I don’t think I’ll give old Percy up. He and I know each other well, and we don’t much care for change. Besides, the old pals are the true pals and should be cherished as such.

 

Why Reading to Children Matters

I recently read an article from For Parents about how reading to children makes a big difference in their growing up years. Here’s part of it from Deborah Farmer Kris:

“Go pick your bedtime book, right now,” I told my four-year-old. Afternoon meltdowns had turned into bedtime battles, and I was tired. He returned clutching the book Glad Monster, Sad Monster and curled up beside me.

His body began to relax as we read about all the things that made these monsters glad, mad, sad, and scared. “Did you have big feelings today, like the monsters?” I asked. Big nod.

“Do you need extra hugs tonight?” More nods. When he couldn’t quite tell me how he was feeling, he found a book that could speak for him — and that helped me give him what he needed.”

Whenever I stayed overnight at my grandparents’ house, my grandmother (whom we all called “Ba”) read to me before I went to sleep. She read from the wonderful “Mother West Wind Stories” by Thornton Burgess and George Kerr.

I absolutely loved those stories, but what made them special was that my beloved grandmother read them to me. I loved the sound of her voice, and I loved to cuddle up close to her while she read. When I learned to read, I didn’t tell Ba because I was afraid that she wouldn’t read to me anymore. Looking back, I think that she knew full well that I could read, but also knew that I loved to have her read to me.

Reading to children expands their horizons; they can thrill to stories of pirates and swashbucklers, fairies, detectives, people on the moon, or animals who can talk, and so much more. Reading to children enriches their minds and hearts, and stretches their imagination. Best of all, it’s a time where a child can have a parent all to themselves.

Now I never had children of my own, but I remember being a child. It meant everything to me that a busy (and often tired) grownup took the time to read a story to me at bedtime. It reinforced the love I had for my grownups, and it was the perfect end to the day.

It’s never too late to start reading to kids. They may think that they are too old to be read to, but they love that special time with their grownup. By the time they become adults and have their own families, they will remember those cozy times before sleep. Oh, they may roll their eyes now and say that they aren’t babies anymore, but their hearts still long for someone they love to read to them.