The First Cucumber

Our garden is literally bursting with produce; this morning we found the first good-sized cucumber. Also the tomatoes (green, for right now) are coming along like crazy. So too are the green peppers. We also planted corn, and so far the stalks are already taller than we are. I never thought I would enjoy gardening, but the Crankee Yankee makes it fun. Of course, we have the occasional skunk showing up now and then, but he doesn’t bother us if we don’t bother him.

The Crankee Yankee’s mom used to have an incredible garden in the back yard, just like my grandmother and her garden. It always amazes me that you can plant a tiny seed, cover it up with dirt and, in what seems like no time, you have honest to goodness eatable produce!

A lot of people go by our house, and many of them stop to chat about the garden. A few years back there was a gal who was so taken with the garden that she planted her own. To this day she is still enjoying her own garden.

When the time comes that everything is ready to pick, it’s a pure joy to fill up a basket with produce. Sometimes we have so much that we put out a big bowl of produce with a couple of plastic bags underneath, and a sign saying “help yourself!”

Quite frankly, I never knew that having a garden could be so much fun. Especially during these times, it’s wonderful to have our own produce. Now if only we could plant avocadoes!

 

Finding Peace in the Middle of It All

Unless you don’t own a TV, a computer, a phone, and have no neighbors or family, you are painfully aware of the corona virus and how it has affected the entire planet. Although folks are hard at work developing an antidote, it is still being a gynormous pain in the hinder.

Along with that, so many people have lost their jobs, can’t pay the rent, and so on. Many companies, restaurants and so on are shut down until further notice. It’s a nightmare, and we are right in the middle of it. Way too many lives have been lost, and saddest of all, too many have died without the comfort of a hand to hold.

All that said, there are still some good things in the middle of all this. Families have become closer, home has become a haven to be cherished, moms and dads have taught their kids how to make meals, play games and most of all; listen to each other. Before the pandemic, every one was in “hurry-hurry, go-go-GO!” mode. Now we don’t need to be that way. Now we have the time to enjoy each other.

Finding peace in the middle of what we are all going through isn’t easy, but it can be done. Those of us who still have and cherish photo albums (long before cell phones and so on), get them out and go through them again. Many loving memories are in those albums, and now there is the time to enjoy them all over again.

I have no doubt that we will be seeing the right antidote for this virus sooner than later. But what I hope for most of all is that we enjoy the time we have with family and friends. When this is all over, we will be saying to our grandchildren how we got through it all, and how much closer we became together.

There IS peace to be found in the middle of it all.

 

We Are the Crazy Cat People

If you’ve read my blog (and many thanks if you do), you know that the Crankee Yankee and I are owned by five indoor cats; Nala, Plumpy, Bailey, Scooter and Jules. They have all come to us in different ways, and on the whole, they get along fairly well. They each have their own food bowls, and fresh water all day long. During the day, they get snacks too. And they all enjoy the two big baskets of toys in the living room. They are absolutely spoiled rotten.

And then there are the “outdoorsies,” the strays who come by for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have two outdoor semi-shelters where we leave food and water for them all. Some may belong to neighbors, but we feed them all just the same.

Of course, we often get squirrels, birds and the occasional raccoon or two who enjoy the cats’ food as well. But hey; we don’t discriminate—our motto is “come one, come all; we feed ’em all!” Of course it’s easy in this warm weather to leave food and water out; during the cold weather it’s another story. That’s when we fill cardboard boxes with thick blankets in the garage as well as food and water. We even have “barn bowls” for cold weather; they have long cords you can plug into a socket to keep the water from freezing.

Call us crazy, but this is something we love to do. I like to think that some of our “frequent eaters” may be strays who now know that they can depend on food, water and shelter. We’ve even adopted a few of those over the years as well. Well, our cats are family, and don’t they know it. And we certainly are the crazy cat people.

 

ALL Lives Matter

If you are listening and watching what is going on in several cities, then you will hear that black lives matter. Of course they do, and so do white lives, and every other life under the sun. ALL lives matter. Does it really matter if people are black, white, pink or purple? LIVES matter. Having been born white, I have no idea how it feels to be a black person. But what I do know is that all lives matter, no matter the color of our skin.

When I was a teenager, I worked in a restaurant in Maine. My day started very early as truckers and other folks wanted breakfast, and fast. It was actually a fun job, and I enjoyed the people I worked with as well as the customers.

We had an older lady on the staff who greeted folks and directed them to their tables. She was probably in her 70s, and was very elegant and charming. One day a couple walked into the restaurant; a black man and a white woman. She gave them a double-take, and frowned. She abruptly showed them to a table, and walked away. She came up where I and two other waitresses were waiting for our orders to come up. She shook her head and said, “just look at that couple; disgusting!

I was flabbergasted. At my age, I never thought anything was wrong with black people. Looking back on it now, I realize that that lady was a simply product of her generation. She grew up in a time where black people were nothing more than servants. Where as I grew up in a time where everybody was the same and were treated fairly.

It was a shock to hear and see her attitude about black people. Many years later, I got to know my mother’s friends in her coffee group downtown. A lot of them grew up in the south, and were used to having black people mow their lawns, clean their houses, and so on. But I was flabbergasted to hear them say that the black people were not allowed to use the bathroom! Even as young as I was at the time, I couldn’t understand what the problem was. Actually, I still don’t get it.

It saddens me to see so much anger and destruction these days. Of course black lives matter. White lives matter; everyones’ lives matter, no matter the color of their skin. I hope with all my heart that we can put differences aside and learn all over again to live peaceably with each other. Call me a latter day old hippie, but that’s what I hope for.

 

What a REAL Friend Is

I am lucky to have the friends I have; they are my guiding lights. I don’t think that I thank them enough for all the goodness and joy they bring to me. We have known each other since grammer school, and all these years later, we are still friends. During our lives we have moved out of state, but kept in touch. We may have husbands and children, but we still keep in touch. We can laugh together about going to school, graduating and moving to different states.

When one of us lost a parent, a sister, a brother, a pet; we grieved for them. When something wonderful came into their lives, we celebrated. When we moved into new houses, we congratulated each other. When one of us became sick or had a medical crisis, we prayed for them and held our breath until they were better.

We still laugh at the same corny jokes and sayings we said from the time we told them first in grade school. We still roll our eyes remembering our own goofy mistakes. We still love playing the “remember when?” of it all.

Don’t get me wrong; I love and adore my husband, the Crankee Yankee; he is my rock. But there is something more precious than gold to have the good friends we grew up with. We have seen each other through good times and bad. We have comforted each other during the crises in our lives. We have laughed uncontrollably together; we have cried uncontrollably together.

As we get older, we understand better how our friends tick. We have stopped worrying about being right (I am still ashamed of all the times I just HAD to be right about everything) all the time; we have finally learned to listen and comfort each other. Our friends have taught us to be the most authentic people we can be.

Real friends are those who can forgive us when we are being real jerks (I have been a real jerk many times) and still keep on being friends. The older we get, the more we treasure our friends.

I can’t imagine my life without the wonderful friends I have today. And if you are reading this, please know that love and appreciate you more than I can say. Thank you for putting up with me.

Trying to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

As the news gets gloomier and doomier, I just stop watching it. I do care what’s going on (and boy; wouldn’t I love to hear this: “Hey, folks guess what; we now have a shot that kills off the corona virus!”), but sometimes too much is just too much. I am very lucky to have the Crankee Yankee, my brother and sister-in-law, friends, neighbors and kitties; without them I don’t know what I would do.

So these days, my mantra is this: “glad and greatful, glad and grateful” over and over again. I can’t do anything about the way things are today, but I do have hope for a cure and most of all, I hope that we learn some valuable lessons on the way. Perhaps we will make some new changes in our lives for “just in case” situations; maybe we’ll make room somewhere to store canned goods and so on, just in case (and if you do, do NOT forget to have a can opener down there as wel!). Perhaps we will not be so complacent. Perhaps we will be more grateful, more understanding and more kind.

When I used to spend weekends as a child with my grandparents, I used to ask my grandmother what it was like during the depression. She would tell me about how fifty cents could buy a loaf of bread, some vegetables, and a precious bit of butter. Ever since, she always put up jams and jellies and so on, kept in the cellar; “just in case.” Now that I too am in a similar situation, I understand her better.

The Crankee Yankee and I are all for the “just in case.” Downstairs we have racks of canned goods; the older ones at the head of the pack to be eaten—also cat food and so on. We have batteries and flashlights, bandages, and the list goes on. Of course, anything can happen at any time, but for the most part, we are ready for most anything.

This isn’t meant to be a “hurry/worry” thing; it is only a reminder about how things can turn on a dime. This doesn’t mean that we have to hoard and keep our guns loaded (and that’s another story for another time). It only means that we need to be aware and be ready just in case.

Just for today, let’s try and look on the bright side of life.

 

From the Kind Blog

From the Kind Blog (which is amazing and thought-provoking), there is this idea to make others happy( which by the way will make YOU happy as well!):

  1. Pay it Backward: buy coffee for the person behind you in line.
  2. Compliment the first three people you talk to today.
  3. Send a positive text message to five different people right now.
  4. Post inspirational sticky notes around your neighborhood, office, school, etc.
  5. Tell someone they dropped a dollar (even though they didn’t). Then give them a dollar.
  6. Donate old towels or blankets to an animal shelter.
  7. Say hi to the person next to you on the elevator.
  8. Surprise a neighbor with freshly baked cookies or treats!
  9. Let someone go in front of you in line who only has a few items.
  10. Leave a gas gift card at a gas pump.
  11. Throw a party to celebrate someone just for being who they are, which is awesome.
  12. Have a LinkedIn account? Write a recommendation for coworker or connection.
  13. Leave quarters at the laundromat.
  14. Encounter someone in customer service who is especially kind? Take an extra five minutes to tell their manager.
  15. Leave unused coupons next to corresponding products in the grocery store.
  16. Leave a note on someone’s car telling them how awesome they parked.
  17. Try to make sure every person in a group conversation feels included.
  18. Write a kind message on your mirror with a dry erase marker for yourself, your significant other or a family member.
  19. Place a positive body image notes in jean pockets at a department store.
  20. Smile at five strangers.
  21. Set an alarm on your phone to go off at three different times during the day. In those moments, do something kind for someone else.
  22. Send a gratitude email to a coworker who deserves more recognition.
  23. Practice self-kindness and spend 30 minutes doing something you love today.
  24. Give away stuff for free on Craig’s List.
  25. Write a gratitude list in the morning and again in the evening.
  26. Know parents who could use a night out? Offer to babysit for free.
  27. Hold up positive signs for traffic or in a park for people exercising outside!
  28. Return shopping carts for people at the grocery store.
  29. Buy a plant. Put it in a terracotta pot. Write positive words that describe a friend on the pot. Give it to that friend!
  30. Write a positive comment on your favorite blog, website, or a friend’s social media account.
  31. Have a clean up party at a beach or park.
  32. While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
  33. Leave a kind server the biggest tip you can afford.
  34. When you’re throwing something away on the street, pick up any litter around you and put that in the trash too.
  35. Pay the toll for the person behind you.
  36. Put 50 paper hearts in a box. On each cutout write something that is special about your partner or a friend. Give them the box and tell them to pull out a heart anytime they need a pick-me-up.
  37. Everyone is important. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day. Greet them by name. Also say “hello” to strangers and smile. These acts of kindness are so easy, and they almost always make people smile.
  38. Write your partner a list of things you love about them.
  39. Purchase extra dog or cat food and bring it to an animal shelter.
  40. Find opportunities to give compliments. It costs nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it.
  41. Take flowers or treats to the nurses’ station at your nearest hospital.
  42. Keep an extra umbrella at work, so you can lend it out when it rains.
  43. Send a ‘Thank you’ card or note to the officers at your local police or fire station.
  44. Take muffins or cookies to your local librarians.
  45. Run an errand for a family member who is busy.
  46. Leave a box of goodies in your mailbox for your mail carrier.
  47. Tape coins around a playground for kids to find.
  48. Put your phone away while in the company of others.
  49. Email or write to a former teacher who made a difference in your life.
  50. When you hear that discouraging voice in your head, tell yourself something positive — you deserve kindness too!

I Am the Laundry Queen!

I have always loved doing the laundry; there is something satisfying about it–in with the dirty clothes, out with the new, fresh clean clothes. Even folding the clothes, sheets, towels, what have you—it’s all good. Once all those nice clean and fresh-smelling items are put back in place, I feel that I done something worthy.

The Crankee Yankee gets a kick out of how I herd up as many dirty items as I can; hey—the more, the merrier! There is nothing like fresh, clean towels and sheets, too. However, I have to be very casual about putting clean sheets on the bed. Our yellow cat, Bailey, is a fool for fresh sheets. If he sees me strip the bed of well-used sheets, he knows what comes next: a wonderful romp on the naked bed while I’m trying to put the new clean sheets on it.

And don’t we have it easy these days as far as laundry goes! As a child, I used to help my grandmother wash clothes in an old-fashioned washer, wringer and “dryer.” Below is pretty much what my grandmother had to wash clothes in. The “wringer” on top was there to squeeze the water out of the clothing:

WOW! VINTAGE MAYTAG WRINGER WASHER ELECTRIC WASHING MACHINE MODEL N2L

I heard this a hundred times: “don’t put your hand in the wringer!” (Why would I?!) Once all the clothing was squeezed to dampness, it was time to put the clothes on the line outside with wooden “pins.” After that, the sun did all the drying. That was all well and good in the warm months, but the same had to be done in the cold months as well. Believe me, it’s no picnic hauling in clothes that are literally hard and icy.

But all that aside, I have always loved doing the laundry. There is something satisfying about it that makes me happy. The Crankee Yankee now calls me the Laundry Queen. I told him that I am still waiting for my crown!

New Books!

Yesterday the Crankee Yankee told me that he wanted to take me to Barnes and Noble to buy some new books. As he put it, he was sick and tired of me re-reading all my Harry Potter books over and over again. Since the corona virus rudely upset our collective apple cart, plus the fact that our library is deep into renovation (and Heaven only knows when they will be done and open again), the only way to find new books is to go buy some.

After a long and enjoyable visit and a bag full of six new books, I couldn’t wait to get home to start reading. It’s a funny thing—when things change so drastically these days, we all seem to go to our own “spaces” to get away from all this *sturm and drang. For some, it’s exercising, or gardening, or writing, or reading and so on. Whatever gets you through the nights or days is a good thing.

I remember one of my teachers way back in grammar school, who wrote on the blackboard this that I have never forgotten: “There is no frigate like a book.” There is something both soothing, comforting and exciting about reading a really good book. It truly can take you away to another place and time.

Over time when I would go to our library to pick up some good reading, I would first go to my favorite authors. After that, I’d take a chance at a few new authors just to see if I’d like them. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. But all in all, it was always wonderful to dive into a brand new book.

Perhaps there is another purpose to what’s going on these days; perhaps we are meant to be in our houses together; perhaps we will get to know each other better and be more tolerant and find that we are living our days without the usual hurry/worry. Perhaps a few hours with a really good book may make all the difference in our attitudes and new way of life.

*From Merriam Webster: Sturm und Drang comes from German, where it literally means “storm and stress.” Although it’s now a generic synonym of “turmoil,” the term was originally used in English to identify a late 18th-century German literary movement whose works were filled with rousing action and high emotionalism, and often dealt with an individual rebelling against the injustices of society. The movement took its name from the 1776 play Sturm und Drang, a work by one of its proponents, dramatist and novelist Friedrich von Klinger. Although the literary movement was well known in Germany in the late 1700s, the term “Sturm und Drang” didn’t appear in English prose until the mid-1800s.