“Do It Now!”

If you were raised like me, you will understand the “do it now” princible. In my home, “do it now” meant just that; stop what you’re doing and do what you’ve been asked to do pronto. I’ll finally admit that it is an efficient way to go; doing it right away means that the chore you dread won’t be hanging over your head for hours, days, weeks…

The good thing about doing it now means that you can relax after getting things done; you can relax because you did it right away. Even when I lived on my own, I was so used to the “do it now” system that my home was clean and tidy all the time.

However, once I married the Crankee Yankee things definitely changed. Don’t get me wrong, the Crankee Yankee is the love of my life. However, he is not a “do it now” guy by any means. The Crankee Yankee has many admirable qualities, such as being loving and kind to our cats (indoor and outdoor), keeping the house up and running, plus he is very good-looking as well. But the “do it now” doesn’t sit with him. At all.

Oh well, things could be worse. What I’ve learned (the hard way) is that not everyone is exactly like us with our exact little plans and how-tos and whatnots. You can be a bully about doing it now, or you can take the soft approach and do it yourself. That way you not only have that smug feeling of accomplishment, and no one gets yelled at.

Trust me: I’ve learned this the hard way. Don’t be the kind of idiot I was; truthfully, even if you end up doing it all yourself, you can still have that smug feeling of accomplishment and no blood was drawn.

If anyone is now feverishly scribbling down New Year’s resolutions, add this to your list: remember that you are you and those around you are not you. Trust me, that one has been on my New Year’s list each and every year!

 

Oh, The Mistakes I’ve Made!

Seeing that the end of 2019 is coming fast, it’s a time to remember everything that happened during the year. For me, it’s always about the mistakes I’ve made. I get it—we’re all human and we all make mistakes, but still I wish I’d spent this year with more gratitude and less mistakes.

At this time of year I always find myself wincing about this, that or the other thing I should have done but didn’t. You know how it is; the old “shoulda, coulda, woulda.” We always are our worst enemies and don’t always give ourselves the credit we deserve. We are not always the bad guy, so at the end of this year it’s a good time to remember all the good things that we said or did.

Believe me, if you just look back, you’ll find things that you did that were good. You didn’t always make mistakes, you weren’t always wrong, and you were always too hard on yourself. It’s perfectly ok to pat yourself on the back now and then. I’ve learned the hard way to accept my mistakes and try not to make them again.

That said, a new year is coming soon. I gave up making a list of things I should do in the new year; let’s face it: every single day is a new day. We can decide to do better, be better, forgive ourselves and forgive others. The new mantra I myself have for this new year is this: “I’m not perfect, but I’m not bad, either. I’m doing all I can to be kind, to put myself in the other person’s shoes, and to forgive and most of all; forget.

No matter how many mistakes we’ve made, we are still good people. Let’s not forget that, and let’s forgive ourselves before we forgive others. My own hope and prayer for this coming year is this:

  • less talking, more listening
  • less blaming, and more forgiving
  • more laughter and less tears
  • more kindness and less blaming
  • more love and less finger-pointing
  • less trying to make people think what we think
  • more acceptance
  • more smiling

And the list can go on and on. My wish and my prayer for this coming new year is that we at least try to see the other person’s point of view. We don’t have to agree with them, but we don’t have to argue or fight with them, either. I remember reading some good wisdom about arguing or fighting: “To avoid arguing or fighting, keep your tongue pressed firmly againt the roof of your mouth.”

It couldn’t hurt.

 

Hope For a Better New Year

This year has been one of rancor, distrust, hatred, senseless violence, fear and doubt. This isn’t all about politics, either. But this is all about a sad and terrible trend happening in way too many towns and states. Worst of all, even children are participating in violence and sometimes murder.

The worst of it all is that there seems to be no exact reason for these all-too-often killings and violence. How many times this year have we heard of more violence toward Jews? How many times this year have we heard more violence toward school children? How many times this year have we heard more violence toward innocent people going about their business in a store?

Each and every day the news is filled with robberies, gang violence, murder, shooting in public places, kidnapping and more. The “good” news is pretty thin on the ground these days, but thankfully, there still is some good here and there.

Here is where the “good” comes in: many of our children are practicing kindness, whether they know it or not. They see a shy kid at lunch time and invite him or her to their table. They help others where they can. They are generous and kind, and are being raised to accept difference and to put themselves in another person’s shoes. How many times do we hear of one child saving up his/her allowance to buy toys for other kids at Christmas? And there are so many more acts of kindness and love.

This is EXACTLY how we change the climate of hatred. It’s awfully hard to hate someone who is kind to you. Just a small bit of kindness makes an enormous change in peoples’ hearts and minds. For this coming new year, 2020, I hope that there is positive change in our hearts and minds. I hope for more love and less hate, for more kindness and less selfishness, for more forgiveness than anger and fear.

My own New Year’s resolution is pretty simple: to practice kindness, forgiveness and love. Wish me luck, and good luck to us all in this coming year.

 

 

 

Living in a Cold Climate

I wrote this a few years back, and the cold climate I live in is just the same.

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Here in the North East we are used to the cold, which can be as mild as 35 degrees above zero, or 35 degrees below zero.  I was born in ME, but grew up in New Hampshire, and I have lived through more than my share of fair-to-middling cold, pretty darn cold, serious cold and wicked cold.

We learn early on in our lives to layer our clothing, keep our faces, ears, hands and feet warm at all costs, keep jumper cables and an emergency kit in our vehicles and what to do in case of a white-out. Most of us know someone who lost fingers or toes from frostbite, and we take it seriously.

Cabin fever is a real thing. In Northeast lore there are many stories of people who literally went mad cooped up all winter and did irrational things. (Read Jack London; he’s told some good stories about cabin fever.) When my mother compiled our genealogy, there were stories upon stories of what was also called ‘winter madness.’ Don’t think it can’t happen in these modern times, either. Best cures? Get out if you can, even for a few minutes. If your phone works, call someone and yak. If your computer works, well–that’s self-explanatory. Pets and people make good company, or a good hobby.

But most importantly, keep your mind working. Read, learn something new. Put a jigsaw puzzle together. Write something, anything; a letter, a poem, a story, a diary entry, etc.

Just as important, appreciate. As with so many things, attitude is everything. You can look out on a snowy day, with trees bowed down with ice and snow, and the only colors seem to be the dead black of naked branches, cold blue, gray and white, white, white. You can see all that and think, “Yuck! It’s cold, boring and colorless out there! I wish it were summer!”

Or you can look at the sheer stark beauty of those black branches against a breathtaking blue sky, see the constant glimmer and sparkle of the snow, and, if you look hard enough, you can discern subtle pinks and blues in the snow. It can be dazzling or boring; it’s up to your frame of mind.

Just remember, our perceptions can see the world around us as dull and lifeless, or amazing and full of color.

Listen as well. The moan of trees as they push back against the winter winds, the crackle and snap of constantly shifting ice in a pond, the sound that a dry leaf makes when the wind skates it across a frozen field–it’s a symphony like no other.

Enjoy the deep winter while we have it. When we are swearing and sweating in July, we can remember those cold, cold winter days and lower our internal thermometers. Enjoy it while we have it, everyone.

**A winter white-out happens when snow blows in all directions and you may not even be able to see your mittened hand in front of your face. If you are caught in one, your best bet is to stay put and hunker down until you can see again. Most of all, don’t panic!

Some Like It Hot

I wrote this back a few years ago, and I still say that black coffee is the best.

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I grew up in a household where Mom and Dad drank black coffee; no cream, no sugar. When I started drinking coffee myself, I flirted with milk and sugar and the occasional splurt of chocolate syrup, but that didn’t last long. I grew to love the bitter yet satisfying taste of strong hot black coffee. Fortunately, the Crankee Yankee likes it that way as well.

I don’t believe I ever went to a fancy-schmancy coffee shop before I moved to Texas in the early ’90s. At the time, I worked for a woman who adored a certain famous coffee house (hint: it rhymes with “Far Clucks”). I don’t remember that we ever went there without her spending at least $30 on coffee! Mind you, we are talking about TWO cups of coffee, not a few bags of coffee beans.

It made me think about flavored coffees in general. Personally, all I ever ask of a cup of coffee is that it be 1) very hot, 2) black, and 3) no one asking me what flavor I want. I want COFFEE flavored coffee. Period.

I am flabbergasted by coffee houses who routinely carry “additions” such as:

  • Madagascar cinnamon
  • chocolate: milk, dark, white, marbled
  • flavored syrups; caramel, vanilla, hazelnut, etc.
  • milk; soy, coconut, almond, cashew, macadamia, etc.

…and who knows what all else can be had there. No doubt they also carry shavings from moon rocks, petrified alien vomit, powdered rhino horn, pixie dust, plutonium and antimatter; for a nominal fee, of course.

Right now, the only people I know who drink black coffee is the Crankee Yankee and me. When we travel and stop at any of the ubiquitous rest stops along the way, there is always a fancy coffee bar. Always. Even the truckers now appear to love “foo-foo” coffee these days.

I thought I had heard everything ridiculous about high-priced coffee until I heard about “*kopi luwak” coffee. Read on:

*From http://www.most-expensive.coffee/:

“Kopi luwak is the world’s most expensive coffee. The main factor of it’s high price is the uncommon method of producing such a coffee. It has been produced from the coffee beans which have been digested by a certain Indonesian cat-like animal called the palm civet or also civet cat. This is the reason kopi luwak is also called cat poop coffee or civet cat coffee. The feces of this cat will be collected, finished and sold as kopi luwak. ….The short supply, in comparison with the high demand, the different taste and the uncommon production methods define the value of kopi luwak – the most expensive coffee in the world.”

Get this: a cup of this coffee can go anywhere from $35 to $100 per cup! Shoot, I could have any one of our five cats poop in my coffee for FREE!

Ah well, I have no doubt that hundreds of thousands of people are thoroughly enjoying their foo-foo coffee everywhere. More power to them, I say. For now, I am very happy to be sipping my second black coffee this morning; civet cat poop-free.

Lazy Christmas Day

The Crankee Yankee and I had a wonderful lazy Christmas day. We exchanged gifts, all the cats got new toys to play with, and we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon, and some sinfully delicious cinnamon rolls. Our family in Maine are visiting relatives for the next couple of weeks, so we decided to just lie around like happy slugs and spent the morning in our pajamas.

What a wonderful thing it is not to have any “how to’s” or “must do’s” now and then. We were far too lazy to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner, so we went out for Chinese food. Surprisingly, there were lots of folks there who did the exact same thing. It’s fun to shake things up now and then.

Once home we puttered around the house and later on binge-watched a new series on TV we had missed out on before. It was an absolutely wonderful day; no hurry, no worry. Sometimes I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to do what we feel are the “right things.” However, the older I get I feel that it’s perfectly ok to just wing it now and then.

Even the cats picked up on the lazy vibe; after they finished chasing their new toys, some sprawled out on our bed, others stretched out on the couch, and the last one hogged the Crankee Yankee’s recliner. Of course they woke up for lunch, and, as cats do, had some serious grooming, and then settled back in for another nap.

As with many things, Christmas is as Christmas does—ours was a doozy! Hope yours was as well.

 

What Do You Remember Most About Christmas?

When I was in what is now called “middle school,” I was embarrassed about my breasts. I didn’t have enough for a proper bra, but going without some support was even worse. However, my mom, who in my mind, could do anything, found me the right size “junior bra.” Amazingly, it fit well and kept my adolescent boobs from bouncing around.

That Christmas my first gift was a fancily wrapped box with a note in my mother’s handwriting; “How firm a foundation!” (Get it?) Of course, it was a box of several bras; the one I liked best was an orange and white striped one. Now I had all the bras I needed for every day of the week! Trust my mom to make this new “development” both fun and comfortable.

My grandmother was the one who always gave me that one special thing I hungered for; one year, my very own sewing machine. All that year she had taught me how to make simple skirts and dresses on her sewing machine, and I loved it. Another year it was the very fashionable clock necklace. It was on a gold chain, and the little clock actually worked.

One year my dad gave Mom and I skis and ski poles. He was an ski instructor at our local ski slope, and it looked like so much fun. He taught me how to ski, and from then on, I was hooked; I went skiing every chance I could. Mom gave it the good old college try, but she just wasn’t interested. She didn’t like being cold, and she didn’t like how easy it was to go too fast or to fall. But I skiied all I could, and loved it.

I could go on and on about the gifts, the food, the company and so on; but it’s Christmas itself that means so much. It’s about love, kindness, forgiveness, joy and gratitude. Every Christmas Eve we go to Doug’s brother, David, and his wife, Jan, who has been my best friend since we were little girls. We eat and exchange gifts and laugh and talk. It’s a tradition we cherish.

Today is not only a day for presents and great meals; it’s for remembering those who are no longer at our table, and those who are still with us. Merry Christmas!