I once befriended a young girl from the church I was going to in Texas. She was pregnant and her boyfriend had left her. She was doing her best to live well and to prepare for her baby. Her mother lived several states away, and wasn’t able to be there for the baby’s birth. So she asked me if I would go with her to the expectant mothers classes with her. She also asked if I could be with her when the baby was born, and I said that I would.

I was at home getting ready for bed one night when she called me; the baby was coming. So I threw on my clothes and drove over to her house. We got to the hospital in good time, and the nurses made my friend comfortable. They asked me if I was the mother, and I told them that I was just a friend. Then they asked if I wanted to be with her when the baby was born, and I said that I would.

My young friend was getting comfortable and she even brought a book to read. I was relieved that she was doing so well; then one of the nurses took me aside and asked if I had had a baby myself, and I said that no, I didn’t. She asked if I had ever been present when a baby was born, and I said that I hadn’t. So she kindly told me what to expect, and it was about that time that my friend went into labor.

So I gowned up and went into the delivery room with her, hoping that I could help her get through everything. Surprisingly, she was just about ready to give birth. Now here’s the thing: I had never seen a baby being born. I remember hoping that I could keep my friend calm and be a help and not a hindrance.

And then the baby was born; a beautiful and very loud baby girl. The doctor passed her to me and I all I remember was this: I, who had never had a baby, was now holding a brand new child. Her mother named her Sophie, and Sophie was squirmy and loud and completely healthy.

Years have gone by, and my friend is now happily married and has a little boy as well as Sophie. I have never forgotten what it was like to see a baby being born. It’s hard work, but the payoff is amazing.



What’s So Funny?

There are some people who are born being funny; others become funny as they grow up. I’m not just talking about comedians, either; just people who are truly funny. It isn’t so much that they tell great jokes, either. They are just born funny, and they make the people around them laugh. This is a great gift; we NEED laughter.

Some of the best comedians I’ve ever heard are these:

  • Jerry Steinfeld
  • Jim Gaffigan
  • Bill Hicks
  • Steven Wright
  • Steve Martin
  • George Carlin
  • Lenny Clark

If you haven’t seen or heard of any of these amazing comics, check them out; you will laugh your head off. A really good comedian can make you laugh like there is no tomorrow.

Considering all the bombast, mean spiritedness and downright ugly nastiness in the wind these days, comedians can make light of things in a way that makes us laugh. Believe it or not, laughter is a good thing. Laughter can help lift us out of the ‘woe is me’ feeling we get when surrounded by all the sturm and drang we hear every day.

This is not to say that very serious things are going on around us that are absolutely not funny. However, it’s amazing how a little bit of funny can give us, as the Monty Python guys would say; “*a look on the bright side of life.”

It is also a proven fact that laughter can actually make you feel better in body, mind and soul—and how bad could that be? All that said, if you have never heard of or seen or listened to any of the above comedians, check them out; I dare you not to laugh.

Note: you should probably pee first; some of these guys are that funny.

*From “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

Winter Hygge

I just read the perfect word for the coziness of winter: *Hygge (pronouced “Hoo-Gah.”) From the Danish, Hygge means “a general mood of coziness.” For me, that just hits the spot of what winter in the Northeast means. When we go outside, we bundle up and slog through the snow and slush. But when we are inside where we are warm, safe and snuggly, we are truly in Hygge.

When we have to go somewhere when the weather is freezing and/or snowing or sleeting, we just sort of grin and bear it. We can’t stay indoors all winter; we have to gird up our freezing loins and face the cold and slush that is winter in New England. But the payoff once we get home is great: warm clothes, thick socks, heat (via fireplace or electricity), and possibly a mug of hot chocolate (with or without marshmallows). Then we can sit comfortably inside and thumb our noses at the snow and slush outside. That truly is Hygge.

The Crankee Yankee and I skied a lot when we were younger; both of us loved downhill skiing and racing. As the price of tickets grew astronomical, I took up cross-country skiing. Not only was it free, but it was fun and easy.

However, life and jobs and living in different states made skiing a thing of the past. I never took up skiing again once I moved back to New Hampshire, and, funnily enough, I found that I didn’t miss it. About the same sort of thing happened to the Crankee Yankee, too. But recently, he dug out his old skiis and took them to a sports store that not only sells skiis and poles, but revamps “older” skiis. He plans to start skiing again, especially because at his age he gets a much lower price to ski.

I was asked if I too wanted to start skiing again. But after two knee replacements that’s a non-starter for me. I’m really not interested, but I certainly will go with the Crankee Yankee when he wants to ski. He will go skiing, I will sit in the lodge sipping hot chocolate and reading a book. To each his own Hygge!

*Hygge: “A lifestyle culture adopted from Scandinavia, emphasizing comfort and contentment.”


The Things We Do For Love

Oh, the things we do for love! It may be as simple as offering a friend that last piece of pie. It may be as simple as a sudden hug and kiss to our loved ones. It can even be as ephemeral as a smile, a handshake or a “how are you?”

There are of course little sacrifices, those things we do for love. We ourselves may want that last piece of pie. We may have had a disagreement with one of our loved ones, and resentment takes up a piece of our heart and mind; we don’t feel like doing those sacrifices. We may pass by people without so much as a smile.

But mainly the things we do for love is because we love that person, that husband, that wife, that parent, that friend, that neighbor, and so on. Strangely, it’s the smallest things we do for love that resonates, such as:

“Oh, let me do the dishes; you go sit down and have a cup of coffee.”

“I’ll go out and shovel the snow so that you can get out of the driveway.”

“Here, take my coat; you look cold.”

So many people do endless acts of kindness, and may never know how deeply those acts of kindness have helped and comforted other people. Those people may never get recognition for what they do, but the people they have been kind to will never forget their kindness.

And so on. The bonus of doing these seemingly little things is that 1) we have made someone happy, and 2) the happy also spills over to us. It’s a win-win for everyone. The great thing about doing things for love is that it spills over to others. They too may pass on the things we do for love.

After living so many years, I’ve finally learned that it really is the little things that matter; those things that warm our hearts and soothes our minds. We may never know what the other person is thinking, or grieving, or worrying, or doubting themselves; we have no way of knowing unless we ask and/or listen.

It doesn’t take a miracle or money to do these little things that we do for love. When in doubt, do those things for love. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.


Cold, Cold and MORE Cold!

If you live in New England, especially in New Hampshire, you can count on bitter cold in winter. Oh sure, we get a few days where the temps creep up into the 40s, but that’s not the usual around here. Freezing cold and winds make winter even colder, and we bundle up from head to toe when we have to go out.

First, it’s the uber warm socks (and sometimes we wear two or three or four pairs at a time.) Then long underwear to keep your legs and upper body warm, then you layer up until the only parts of your body not covered are your eyes and nose. All this is topped off with a warm hat that covers your ears as well; and mittens or gloves.

It takes quite a bit of time to get rigged up for the cold. When I was still living with my parents, I did a lot of skiing and downhill races. Now that meant double the amount of long underwear, warm clothes, hats and goggles as well. Brrrrr!

Even the outdoorsies that we feed and shelter get their own version of “cuddle duds”: cardboard boxes lined with blankets and cat mats (the kind that heat up when the cat settles down on it). When it’s really cold, I also tuck warmers underneath the mats; the kind that hunters and ice fishermen use to keep warm for hours. Also there is food and water as well; the water bowls are “barn bowls;” the kind you plug into an outlet so that the water doesn’t freeze.

It’s not that we New Englanders hate winter, it’s just that it’s so dang long. Before there was “light therapy” and happy pills to lift our moods in winter, people either got busy doing things or just moped through winter. Or they made more babies, and as you know that alone will keep you busy.

We are also known (by folks who live in the south, mainly) as gruff, hard to talk to, mean-spirited, and grumpy. Well, to those folks: YOU try living in what feels like an endless winter when your feet and hands are freezing. You have to, as my Mom would say, bundle up like a pig going to war. Even your snot freezes.

So, if you are from the south and happen to come up our way in the dead of winter, you too may become moody and gruff as well. You have been warned.



The Importance of a Good Bra

Is there anything worse than a bad bra? It’s uncomfortable, it doesn’t fit well, and worst of all, it makes your breasts look sad and tired. The chances are that you are buying the wrong bra for you. Once you get the bra that really works for you, it makes a HUGE difference: the “girls” look their best, your tops and sweaters look better, and you’ll feel years younger.

Do yourself (and your boobs) a huge favor and go to a lingerie store that has a bra fitter. At first you may be embarrassed (no woman really thinks that their breasts are perfect), but trust me; those bra fitters are experts and they’ve seen it all. The bra fitter will measure you and bring you bras that really work for you. Once you have a bra that is comfortable and makes you look good, you will never go back to buying any old bra.

The second time I had DCIS (Ductal Cancer in Situ), my right breast needed surgery and it certainly doesn’t look as good as my left breast. But there’s a bra for that! I’ve bought the same type of bra for years now, and it makes a huge difference in how I feel about myself. Let’s face it, a woman of my age (68 years old) needs a specific kind of bra that is 1) comfortable, 2) age appropriate (you don’t want to be that woman whose boobs are hiked up to your chin), and 3) makes you feel amazing.

We’ve all suffered through a day of wearing an uncomfortable bra. It’s no fun and it doesn’t do your self image much good either. Just so you know, it doesn’t cost you anything to get advice and help from experienced bra fitters. Again, those gals have seen everything boob-related; nothing bothers them. They are there to help you find the bra that feels great and makes you look great as well. Oh, and by the way; there is no extra charge for the services of a bra fitter.

Now, all that said, understand that buying a really good bra that is comfortable and makes you look amazing is not cheap. However, a good bra will last you for years *if you take good care of it. You will be amazed when your friends say “hey, you look great! Did you get a facial?” or “Wow—that top looks wonderful on you! Where did you buy it?” And so on. But best of all, you will be completely comfortable and you will look terrific.

*NEVER put your bra in the washer! (Especially if your bra has wire in it) Hand-wash the bra in your bathroom sink with warm water and suds. Personally I like to use Woolite Delicates. Rinse with warm water, carefully squeeze the excess water out (be careful that you don’t bend any wires in the bra) and hang the bra up to dry.

Stuff That Men Think Are Important

Look, I get it that men think differently than women do (big surprise there, I know). The examples are many, and the Crankee Yankee is no exception. Here are some of the highlights of men vs. women:

  1. The TV. Men don’t necessarily want to know what’s on TV; they want to know what else is on TV.
  2. Sports. I personally don’t care for sports; I’m sure that there are loads of women who do, but I don’t. But it seems that all men love sports. Which is fine by me, but what I don’t like is the Crankee Yankee constantly switching channels to check the scores.
  3. The kitchen sink. How hard is it to put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, or wash the dang dishes and put them away?
  4. Leftovers. Speaking just for us, we like leftovers. What I don’t like is when someone (and I don’t mean our cats) leaves the remains of the leftovers out. For Pete’s sake, just put them back in the refrigerator. Sheesh.
  5. Home security. Even though we live in a nice neighborhood in a nice town, bad things sometimes happen. I am always locking the doors, and the Crankee Yankee is always leaving them unlocked. I always carry my house keys with me; the Crankee Yankee does not. You can imagine how that works out.

And the list goes on. I’m sure that most men have their own lists about women, too. I think that the man stuff and the woman stuff is just plain old DNA. Often the things that we women think are important are often not so much with men—and vice-versa. I read an old story about men and women: long ago it was said that men and women were one body and one mind. There was no arguing, no fighting, no having to be right; it was just peaceful and easy for them both.

But at some point, we separated into individuals, and that’s probably where the differences came in. Who knows? But it’s a good story just the same.

So—what are we to do these days as separate entities? Oh, of course we can establish ground rules of the house, which is a great idea—but seldom holds up. We can talk about it (and see how long that lasts), we can accept it and be boiling mad all the time, or we can just accept it and not make it a “live or die” situation.

I read the following a long time ago, and I always think about it when something the Crankee Yankee does that makes me nuts. It goes like this:

“To keep love brimming in the loving cup,

Whenever you’re wrong, admit it.

Whenever you’re right, SHUT UP!”

And you know what? It WORKS.