The Girl in the Cupcake Hat

The Crankee Yankee and I went up to Freeport, Me the other day. While it was quite cold, the day was sunny and bright. The Crankee Yankee had promised me a warm coat from LL Bean as one of his Christmas gifts to me, so I was looking forward to the trip.

It was a cold, crisp day with lots of sunshine, and, blessedly, no wind. Everyone was out and about, from babies in strollers to folks our age and older; pink-cheeked and smiling. The smell of fresh-ground coffee was in the air, and everyone seemed to be cheerful and glad to be outside.

Being the frugal Yankees that we are, we headed first for the outlet store. My goal was to find not just a warm coat, but also a bright purple warm coat. In the outlet store, however, the choices are somewhat limited, but still good.

We found a pretty three quarter-length coat in a beautiful pomegranate color. I tried it on, but over my heavy sweater it was too snug. A winter coat needs to work easily with such winter gear to be effective. Nothing else seemed to catch my eye, so we moved on to the main store.

After a long and pleasant time in the main store where I looked at and tried on several warm jackets and coats, I came up empty. The coats I really liked were way out of budget (and I can fall right out of love when the price doesn’t work for me), so I passed them by.

We left the store and just for the heck of it, went back to the outlet store. I went through the racks again without much hope, but—wonder of wonders, there was a beautiful coat that met all my requirements. It fit as though it was made just for me, it was warm (the tag said it was effective to -35 degrees!), and there were zippered pockets and a hood.

It wasn’t purple, but it was that shade of deep sky blue that brings to mind the lake on a bright summer day. Or the sky in the fall when the geese fly by in a massive V formation, or the bright irresistible blue of Lego blocks. I loved it—and it fit and it was on sale!

As we walked happily out of the store and headed for the car, we walked by a little girl and her mom. The little girl had beautiful curly hair spilling out from beneath a wool hat that was shaped and decorated like a big pink cupcake.

We stopped and told her how much we loved that hat. Her mother laughed and said that it had been a gift; she said that she initially thought it was pretty garish. However, her daughter loved it and wore it nearly every day.

That little girl reminded us of our oldest granddaughter, Ava, who definitely has her own style. I knew that she would love a hat like that. Then I thought “who are you kidding? YOU would love a hat like that!” (And I’d wear it proudly, too!)

So the Crankee Yankee and I drove home, happy and content in each other’s company. I was thrilled with my Christmas present, and went to sleep that night smiling about how much I would wear and love that beautiful blue coat.

Before sleep took over, I wondered if I could find two matching cupcake hats; one for Ava and one for me. After all, what sets off a new coat better than a warm hat that looks like a pastry?

First Date; Never To Late

At lunch the other day, I noticed a man sitting alone at the next table. The server asked him if he was ready to order and he said that he was waiting for someone.

Soon after, a lovely blonde woman with a big smile came up to his table. He rose to take her coat, and they both sat down. I heard them introduce themselves to each other, and realized that I was seeing two people on their first date.

They were both attractive people; probably in their mid-sixties. I heard him ask the woman about her life; she said that her husband had died a long time ago when their children were quite young. She raised them on her own; I can only imagine how hard that must have been.

They went on to talk about their interests and their pets. The woman brightened and talked about her dogs and how much they brought to her life. As I was facing her and not the man, I couldn’t help noticing how animated her face was. The man was nodding appreciatively, and I gave him silent kudos for not hogging the conversation and making it all about him.

It is a wonderful thing to see people like this who will take a leap of faith and put themselves out there in the world. How wonderful that, at any age, we can grow and change and accept new people and interests into our lives.

We all know people who are adventurous and daring, just as we all know people who do not wish to change and stay rooted in the same way of thinking all their lives. There is nothing wrong with either type of person, but I really admire those who will close their eyes and take that leap of faith.

I tried not to keep watching this couple, but from where I sat I could hear their conversation. I wondered if there would be another date, if they had really connected with each other, and did they think that the person across from them might be “the one?”

This was another example of “it’s never too late.” It’s never too late to help someone, start a new interest, take that trip you promised yourself long ago <fill in the blank for whatever part of the world you’d like to visit>, start a cottage business or even fall in love again.

Who knows? There are chances worth taking, and wherever this couple ends up, I hope that they find happiness in themselves and each other.

*Buona fortuna!

*”Good luck” in Italian.

Being Happy With What You Have

Do you ever wonder what you would do if you suddenly came into an insane amount of money? If so, do you ever dream of what you would do with it all? During many of our porch-sitting sessions, the Crankee Yankee and I have talked over our drinks about this very subject. We always seem to go first to family, friends and neighbors; what we could do to help them with whatever it is they might need. Then we talk about anonymous endowments and gifts we would love to set up and how much fun that would be. No one would ever know, and we would be cackling about it forever.

If you are around my age (or ‘vintage’ as I like to call it), you will remember a show called “The Millionaire.” The premise of the series was that a millionaire anonymously and randomly would gift total strangers with a million dollar check. It starred Marvin Miller, who played the handsome stranger, Michael Anthony, who showed up at the door and handed the person their check. The show ran from 1955 to 1960, and the running joke at that time was ‘so, has Michael Anthony knocked on your door yet?’

No doubt, having an unexpected windfall could be a lot of fun. However, focusing on what we don’t have can make people pretty sour, too. You can get into a state of mind where you focus on the ‘don’t have’ instead of appreciating the ‘do have.’

Think about this: being happy with what you have means freedom and happiness. I read somewhere that common worries can be turned around with the right thinking, such as:

  • “Oh no! There are crumbs on the floor!” you were able to eat that day.
  • “The roof is leaking again!” you have a roof over your head.
  • “My shoes are wearing out!” you have shoes on your feet.
  • “The bed has been unmade all day!” you have a bed to sleep in.
  • “The water pressure in the shower is horrible!” you have means to keep clean.
  • “The car is filthy!” you have transportation.
  • “My job doesn’t pay enough.” but you have a job.

…and so on. Remember that lovely old song by Irving Berlin, “Count Your Blessings?” The lyrics go like this:

“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessing instead of sheep
And I fall asleep, counting my blessings

When my bankroll is gettin’ small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep, counting my blessings

I think about a nursery
And I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them
As they slumber in their beds

If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.

So if you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

That’s what I think of each day. I have had wonderful people in my life who have passed on their wisdom and knowledge to me. I currently have wonderful people in my life who bring me joy and happiness. I am married to the love of my life. I have dear, good friends who bring so much into my life. I have four cats to love and care for. Both the Crankee Yankee and I have been gifted with two wonderful vehicles (how’s that for unexpected wealth?) for which we are very grateful, we have a good house to live in, a thriving garden (anyone need lettuce, spinach or kale? We have TONS of it!), food to eat, clothes to wear, some bucks in our pockets and no credit card debt. Our health is relatively good, and we have a sense of humor about many things.

That said, I feel rich each day. With all that going for me, I don’t need to think about what I might not have. The Penn Dutch have a great saying that just says it all to me: “we grow too soon old, and too late smart.” I try to keep that in mind when little things bother me.

It’s taken me years, but I finally get it—I am happy for what I have.