The Scary Magic of Halloween

Back when I was in grammer school, Halloween was a huge deal. On the week before Halloween, our teachers allowed us to come to school in our Halloween costumes. After lunch, the teachers would lead us out of school, and we would walk all the way downtown, showing off our costumes.

Not only was it a break from classes, but it was fun to see what all the other kids wore for Halloween. In those days, hardly anyone had any cash to spare to buy a costume. So most kids begged their moms to let them have a white sheet to be a ghost. Of course, the moms kept all the white sheets that were too worn to use anymore, so it was a win-win for moms and kids. All the kids needed to do was to cut two holes to see out of.

There were always kids dressed as hobos or fortune tellers; again cheap costumes. Plus it was it was a great excuse for girls to load up on their moms’ chains and brassy jewelry. But then there were the moms who really took Halloween seriously and made our Halloween costumes.

There were two Halloween costumes I just loved; one of them was a bear costume. Best of all, my best friend had one as well. Our moms had put their heads together, and decided that two little bear costumes would not only be cute, but keep us warm. They both made our costumes, and we loved them.

Then there was the Halloween when my mom and dad got together and made what had to have been the coolest Halloween costume ever. They made a huge cat head with paper mache, and cut out eye holes so I could see where I was going. I wore one of Mom’s black sweaters, and a pair of black pants and sneakers. Honestly, I got more raves about that cat head for years.

Now, when the Halloweening was over, it was the house rule to dump all of my candy into a bowl in the kitchen. (It never occured to me to sneak some of my loot in my pockets; besides, Mom would have frisked me anyway.) I put my candy into Mom’s big wooden salad bowl, and she and Dad would pick out what they wanted. I always got a small handful of candy myself, and then the bowl would be put up on top of the refrigerator. All during the week, it would be parceled out in small amounts. I always harbored some resentment about that; after all, I was the one who walked for hours collecting those goodies!

In these hectic days, I hope with all my heart that kids will still go trick or treating today. Of course we all need to be careful; masks on, washing our hands and so on. But please—let’s have a good Halloween this year. Things these days are scary enough, so I hope that for the kids’ sake, that this will be the Halloween to remember.

 

Loud Lunchers

The Crankee Yankee and I often have breakfast or lunch at our favorite restaurant (Steve’s) in town. The food is fabulous, and the wait staff are friendly and helpful. I’d say that we have breakfast or lunch there at least two or three times a week.

Generally, we like to go to breakfast most of all. The Crankee Yankee loves their pancakes, and I always go for their eggs benedict (yup, I know it sounds pretty hoity-toity, but it’s delicious). Neither of us has ever had a bad meal there.

Everyone practices social distance, and everyone comes in with a mask on. Of course, once in, the masks are off. Tables are set up so that there is always an empty table between people’s tables. Everything about that restaurant is great.

Except for one thing: for some reason, there are some people who truly enjoy talking about themselves, their children, where to go for a covid test, who they are voting for, and blah, blah, blah. That’s not a problem until they get loud.

Just the other morning when the Crankee Yankee and I were half-way through our breakfasts, some woman and her friend about six tables away from us and were talking loudly. I don’t mean a loud laugh or a chuckle; I mean LOUD TALKING. In the half hour we stayed there, we heard more about that woman’s life, political preference, her daughter’s favorite actress, the itchy spot on her armpit that just wouldn’t go away, and whether or not she should get tested for Covid.

Seriously, it was like being chained to a chair with the TV on full blast touting the latest doo-dad for hours on end. I don’t think she realized how loud she was, but trust me; every single person in that restaurant learned WAY more about this woman than anyone cared to know. At one point I was thinking of sending her an order of pancakes topped with crazy glue.

Ah well, at least we got a bit of entertainment that day. And I sure do hope that the woman got something to soothe that itchy armpit.

These Are Cranky Times…

While the pandemic keeps on being a royal *PIA, many of us are slip-sliding into some serious crankiness. We are mostly in our homes these days, we are wearing masks nearly all the time, and we are hand-washing like there is no tomorrow. But most of all, we are together with our significant other, kids, pets, and so on.

We have to be careful where we go, we always keep a mask handy, and mostly we all end up at home, getting on each other’s last nerve. Case in point: I make a make a fabulous egg salad, complete with chopped onions and celery. We just ran out of it yesterday, so I told the Crankee Yankee that I would make some more today.

Well—he asked if I could simply make it with no onions or celery! This means that I will be making TWO egg salads today; one boring one for him, and one good one for me (meaning lots and lots of onions and celery). While I do understand that everyone doesn’t necessarily like what I like, it still stuck in my craw.

Granted, not everyone likes onions and celery in their egg salad. I am noticing that I too have become more cranky than usual. While something like this innocent request would normally not bother me in the least, today it DOES. So while I am going to be making TWO egg salads today, I won’t necessarily be thrilled about it.

Of course, today I will make the two salads. I will greatly want to spit in his, but I won’t. But I DO think about it….

*Pain in the Ass

Pets and What They Do For Us

If you have read my blog (and many thanks if you do!), then you know that the Crankee Yankee and myself are owned by five cats. Our oldest cat, Nala, is our one female, and she lets the four boys (Plumpy, Bailey, Jules and Scooter) know that she is the queen bee. Bailey was my mom’s and dad’s cat, and when they passed on, Bailey came to live with us. He and his buddy, Plumpy, like to snooze in the sunshine on the back porch (glassed in).

Scooter was a rescue cat; we got to know him when we saw him outside during the winter. We made a warm shelter for him, and fed him morning and night. But when the winter got really cold, we took him inside and to this day he seems pretty happy about it.

Our latest cat, Jules, was an indoor/outdoor cat. We worried about him crossing streets and being out in the rain and cold weather. So, as with Scooter, we made a nice shelter for him, and fed and watered him every day. The Crankee Yankee found out who his owner was, a nice girl who owned him and his two brothers. He told the owner about Jules, and she said that we could have him if we wanted to; we did, and he seems very happy living with us.

There is something wonderful about having pets. While cats can be aloof and a bit touchy some times, they are good company. It isn’t strange at all (for us, anyway) that one or two or three of them like to camp out with us during the night. At least once or twice a week, one of us will wake up without a pillow, as one of the cats have taken it for their own.

Having pets is a wonderful thing. Sure, they need special food, clean water and need to visit the vet for rabies shots and so on. Our cats do not go outside; we are on a busy street and we want to keep them safe. That being said, our cats have a HUGE amount of toys, treats and of course, attention.

Our cats pretty much rule the house. But at least they don’t use our computer.

Different Meal Times

I wrote this quite a while ago, but it still stands.

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The Crankee Yankee and I decided a while back that we feel better if we have our “big meal” around noon-time. This means that, by 6:00pm or 7:00pm, a light supper works better for us. And since both of us like soup, it’s usually *tomato soup and crackers, corn chowder and pickles, or homemade chicken soup with lots of vegetables. We call them “cozy meals” in the cold months.

Sometimes we decide on good old grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. Or grilled cheese, tomato and onion sandwiches, or grilled cheese and ham sandwiches. Sometimes the Crankee Yankee will surprise me by making whole wheat blueberry pancakes and bacon.

Come summer when our garden is full of ripe tomatoes, green peppers, baby cucumbers, beets and lettuce, it’s time for salads. It’s fun to experiment with different dressings, curls of cheddar cheese, some walnuts or some chopped ham or chicken.

Sometimes for breakfast, I make oatmeal bowls. This was a “thing” not long ago, and it goes something like this: put 1/4 cup of oatmeal in a small container and add about 1/4 cup of milk to it. Add in chopped fruit, walnuts, shredded coconut, or whatever you like. Cover and put into the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, pop the oatmeal bowl into the microwave for about a minute and a half. Stir, add more milk if you like, and enjoy. It makes a good and healthy breakfast, which is not only healthy but makes you feel a little bit smug for having had a “smart” breakfast.

All in all, not a bad way to start or end the day; old people-style.

*My “recipe” is pretty simple; open two cans of tomato soup and two cans of evaporated milk. Stir them together in a medium-sized pot, and add sprinklings of basil, black pepper and toss in some grated cheese. Of course I have made my own tomato soup from our own tomatoes, but this is my “easy” tomato soup recipe.

Cats on Mouse Patrol

A few years ago, we had a mouse problem. True, there were only a few, but that few was too many. However, our cats dispatched them, and we hadn’t seen a mouse for a few years—until yesterday.

One of the cats got into our seldom-used closet in the living room, and behold and lo; there was a mouse in there. I don’t want to think just how he got in there, but I knew he had to leave.

So I picked up my mighty mouse trap; which is simply two small plastic cups. Since the mouse was trying to get away from the cat, I scooped him up in one of the cups, and put the other cup on top so that he wouldn’t escape.

I walked across the street where there is a huge juniper bush. I dropped the mouse in there and said: “do NOT come back. There are FIVE cats in the house, you idiot!” Hopefully, he listened.

However, it turned out that we had two more mice (proudly found by another cat). I did the same thing and told the two of them the same warning. Granted, this is the time of year when mice will want to get where it’s warm as winter is coming. While I don’t blame them for that, I still don’t want them in our house.

Besides, the cats feel that they have done their duty for the day. I swear that one of them looked me in the eye and said to himself; “you two would be USELESS without us! Go fry up a steak for us, will ya?”

For the record, I did not fry them a steak, but I did give them all a big handful of cat treats.

 

Growing Old Isn’t So Bad

Isn’t it funny how time goes by? I remember being young, living at home with my parents, going to school, climbing trees, skiing and so much more. I was strong and healthy and felt that I could do anything. I had endless energy, and I don’t ever remember being tired. In fact, it was hard to settle down to sleep; I went through all I did during the day, and I imagined what I would do on the next day.

I lived with my parents, my cat Henny, and life was as good as it could get. Even going to school wasn’t that bad at all. I enjoyed walking to school and I liked my classes and friends. My dad taught me to ski, and I fell in love with it. My dad taught skiing at the Abenaki ski slope, and I learned how to ski almost as well as he could. I never had the grace he had, but I did fairly well.

Then there was high school, then college, and then I was on my own. I moved out of my parents’ house and had a nice little apartment. One day when I took my laundry to the local laundrymat, I saw a cute little gray kitten sitting outside. I stopped and patted him, and he was so friendly. I was able to pick him up, and I brought him into the laundrymat and asked the owner if he knew the owner of the kitten. He didn’t, so I left my laundry there and took the kitten home, and named him Billie.

Years went by as they always do; different jobs, different friends, working in different states and so on. I got married to the totally wrong man, and a few years later we divorced. When I was living and working in Texas, I got a phone call from an old friend, the Crankee Yankee. At the time, he was a truck driver, and he said he was going through where I lived in Texas, and could he take me out to dinner?

And the rest is history. The Crankee Yankee and I have been married for years now, and we have five cats. The Crankee Yankee’s daughter has two beautiful girls and we go up to visit them and enjoy their company.

The fact that we are growing older each year isn’t such a bad thing; in fact, we seem to be having the best times of our lives. There are things about getting older that are surprisingly fun and interesting. We have gone through good times and bad times, but mostly good times.

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see an old woman. I see a woman who looks pretty dang good for her age and still has a lot to smile about. My habit each morning is to look myself in the mirror and say, “good morning, gorgeous!” You’d be surprised what saying that does for your day, too; try it and see.

Growing old isn’t bad at all. Besides, if you don’t like it, what are you going to do about it? Just roll with it, be kind to yourself, and look for the funny side of life; it’s always there.

The Magic of Grandmothers

My grandmother was just about my most favorite person in the world. She taught me all about birds and animals and their habits. During the cold winters, she would pick out a good sized log (about 10-12 inches long) and had my grandfather bore holes in it so that she could stuff peanut butter mixed with bird seeds into the holes. Then she would hang it outside so that the birds could perch on the log and eat. The fat from the peanut butter kept them well-fed during the winter.

In the spring, she would show me where the birds liked to nest. She knew the names of all the birds and she taught me how to watch them build their nests in the spring and summer. When their babies were hatched, she showed me how the bird moms fed them just about around the clock until they were old enough to fly away and take care of themselves.

She never told me that I couldn’t climb trees; she just asked me to be careful. During the hot summer months, my grandfather would take the little wooden canoe out of the barn for me, so that I could paddle around on Mirror Lake across the road. It was fun to see the wildlife and the fish in the lake, and I learned to paddle quietly when I saw ducks and geese on the water.

Often my grandmother and I would walk back behind the house and into the meadow. There she taught me how to open milkweed pods to let out the silky white fluff along with their tiny brown seeds. Those little seeds would eventually fly away with the silk to land somewhere else to grow into more milkweed.

My grandmother also taught me how to sew. She sat me in front of her sewing machine, and talked me through how to work it. Eventually, I started making my own clothes, which turned out to be a lot of fun.

To this day, I think of both of my grandparents and all the things that they taught me. Now that I too am a grandmother to our two amazing girls, I try to live up to be the kind of grandmother that mine was.

I hope that I am that kind of grandmother.

Back in Business Again!

If by any chance you were looking for my post each day (and if you follow, thanks very much!), you will know that I was off the grid for a while. Suffice it to say that the Crankee Yankee and I are SO not tech savvy. Somehow we either totally confused our computer (and my email account) or had a massive brain fart; however we are back in business today. It boggles my mind that my nine-year old granddaughter knows far more than I do about computers. For us old farts, we just get on the horn and bug the oh-so-patient gal on the other end to help us out of our situation.

Bless her; she guided us out of our misdirections and helped us to get back on track.

Ok, that said, I also somehow lost (or left) my old flip-phone on a table in a restaurant quite a while ago. These days it’s a good idea to have a working one with you at all times; so sometime today the Crankee Yankee and I will go get a new flip-phone. I have totally given up being aggrevated about the young person behind the counter at Verizon rolling his/hers eyes having to deal with us old antiques

So, after all the kerfuffle this morning, we are back to normal; well, as normal as we two old farts can be. Wish us luck that we won’t do that again (whever we did to screw it up the first time!).