Sometimes We Get the People We Need

Ever wonder why we are so often at odds with some members of our family? Even happy loving families have their issues when they wonder what went wrong with some or all members of their families. When I was in grade school, I used to lie in bed at night wondering if there would ever be a week when I didn’t get into trouble.

I would think “what’s wrong with me? Who wouldn’t love to have a child like me? I do what I’m told, I have good manners, I love my parents; it’s only that sometimes I get into trouble. I don’t mean to, but I do.”

Don’t get me wrong; I had good parents who taught me right from wrong. I was also taught life skills that helped me to become independent and to be able to live on my own. I realize now that the trouble I got into was a worry to my parents, and they bore down hard on me to make me strong and understand that there are always consequences to our actions.

In fact, every person I have met in my life has influenced me and has helped me to be who I am today. Am I perfect? Hardly. Am I right all the time? Mostly never. Do I try my best to be the best me I can be? Nope, not all the time. I am like everyone else, struggling to be better and to meet my potential.

What I keep in my mind on a daily basis is this: I had the parents I needed to get me where I am today. Even when I endured a harsh punishment, I learned from it. I was lucky to have parents who taught me boundaries and how to live well within them. I may not have always agreed with them, but when the time came, I realized that I was ready for that first job, that first apartment, that first taste of living life on my own.

Wherever we come from, whatever family we are born into, there is a reason for it. Our lives may not seem perfect at the time, but as time goes on we realize that even a harsh growing-up teaches us. It reminds me of courses I’ve taken over the years; some enrich us and expand our thinking, some just about break us.

You can see this phenomenon in nature all the time; a tiny seed buried between two mighty oaks may struggle to reach the sun, but it will try with all its energy to do so. Eventually it may become taller, stronger and healthier than the two oaks. Sometimes it is the struggle that makes us strong.

Sometimes we get the people we need to help us get strong.






Oh, Just Shut Up and Eat It!

My dad used to like to stop in at the local hospital’s cafeteria after he had his blood work done. The food was good, and the price was right. Right over the pastry section, there was a huge sign that read:

“Oh, just shut up and eat it. Do you want to live forever?”

Sadly, that sign has gone the way of the PC police, but while it was up there, it was funny as hell.

Which makes me think of all the “dos and don’ts” in our lives; most of which we project on ourselves. Yes, we all want to be healthy and fit and that means eating healthy foods, drinking lots of water, getting regular exercise, good sleep and checking in with our doctors from time to time.

This does not mean that we have to be spartans. As with many things, *moderation is the word. For the most part, I have given up many of my unholy habits, such as pillaging an entire box of Whitman’s Sampler chocolates. Besides, it’s no fun anyway once I’ve eaten all the best parts: caramels, nougats, chocolate cherries, coconut, molasses chews and toffee chips. The boring vanilla creams, nut clusters and that stupid chocolate Messenger Boy can go to hell.

Which reminds me: when my parents were running both their photography studio and summer camp patrol, they received wonderful “thank you” gifts at Christmas. There were always bottles of booze, flowers, fruit, and best of all, CHOCOLATES. Naturally I would ravage those boxes and check out all the flavors. It was my habit to carefully nibble the end of a chocolate to see what it was; if it was something gross like brandied fruit, I would put it back in the box. Mom, irritated by this, told me to stop putting my “spit-back chocolates” back.

The older I get, the more I enjoy my occasional treats. I find I can’t eat as much as I used to, but that’s a good thing. I keep a little “health” journal for myself. I write down how I’m doing, whether or not I walked around the pond or did some yoga that day, and sometimes what I eat. It’s an easy thing to do, and it seems to work for me. Mind you, I don’t keep it up every day. I’m no saint, but I do like to keep track.

So whenever I have a craving for one of our delicious local croissants, I get one and enjoy it hugely. Same for the occasional chocolate or cookie. The really nice thing about getting older, food-wise, is finding that less not only is more, but also more satisfying.

Who knew? So, let’s not fret about the occasional croissant or cookie or candy or chips. As a wise person once said, “oh, just shut up and eat it!”

*Moderation: a word I’m not always thrilled with, especially after I have allowed myself to eat something REALLY bad. Oh, not an entire wedding cake or anything, but a goodie here and there just for the naughty hell of it.

When I Am Sleeping

When I am sleeping

Let me be.

When I am sleeping

Keep quiet.

When I am sleeping

Don’t stomp around.

When I am sleeping

Don’t rattle pots and pans.

When I am sleeping

If you go to bed early, it doesn’t mean that I do.

When I am sleeping

No conversations please until both of my eyes are open.

When I am sleeping

Try to remember that when you are sleeping, I do my best not to wake you.

When I am sleeping



We Can Let Some Habits Go…

My mother has been gone now since December 16, 2015. Some days it’s hard to process that, along with my dad’s passing last April 22. There are so many times when I think, “oh, I have to call Mom/Dad to tell them this!” Then I remember that they are gone.

But here’s the funny thing: although I am always going to miss them, there is always that deep release/relief in my mind. That relief is that I no longer have to agree with certain things they said or did, I don’t have to veer off of inflamatory subjects, I don’t have keep a booklist anymore; most of all, I don’t have try to live their standards that never were mine.

Case in point: I recently introduced the Crankee Yankee to my favorite kind of lettuce; endive. It’s always been my favorite, and I love that slightly bitter taste it has. I usually eat it with a few drops of good olive oil or dip the leaves into my current favorite salad dressing; organic cilantro lime. It turns out that he likes endive just as much as I do! In fact, he liked it so much that he bought seeds to grow some in our garden this year.

Now, for years I have pronounced it “ON-deeve,” which my mother said was the French way of saying it. She and Dad used to travel up to Quebec City and stay a few days. They loved the food, the people, the open markets, and Mom especially loved shopping for vegetables. This is where she learned to pronounce endive as “ON-deeve.”

After she died, I kept on saying it that way; don’t know why, I just did. But yesterday as I made out a short shopping list, I turned to the Crankee Yankee and said I was sorry for being all hoity-toity about pronouncing it as “ON-deeve.” I said to hell with it; it was and is “endive” now for all eternity!

This is just one example of some of the things we do when our parents die. For all their lives, they imprint their own ideas, beliefs and habits onto us. This is pretty standard of all parents, and we children pick them right up and keep on with them.

This is like that old tale of why one woman always cut the end off of the Easter ham before baking it. One Easter her daughter asked her why she did it. The mother replied, “that’s how Grandma did it.”

The daughter went to visit her grandmother, and in the course of conversation she asked about cutting off the end of the Easter ham. The grandmother laughed and laughed, and said, “Oh, I did that because my mother did it; she never had a pan big enough for the whole ham, and that’s why she cut the end off!”

So there you go; that ham end was just one of those things that got passed on. (Just for the record, the daughter bought her mom a new and bigger pan for the next Easter ham!) Plus it’s a funny reminder that we don’t always need to keep our parents’ habits, beliefs, practices and what-have-you.

Over the time my parents have been gone, I have learned to keep what I love and let the rest go. Besides, my mother would be the first to say, “Oh, for Heaven’s sake; do things your own way! I raised you to be independent, so be independent already!”

Thanks Mom, Dad, Ba and Bumpa (Dad’s parents), Aunt Ruby, and all my beloved relatives who went before me. As the old song goes, “*just take what you need and leave the rest.”

*Per Wikipedia: “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” is a song written by Robbie Robertson and originally recorded by the Canadian-American roots rock group the Band in 1969 and released on their eponymous second album. Levon Helm provided the lead vocals.


Relief is when you are lost, and then finally find your way home.

Relief is when your sick pet finally responds positively to his meds.

Relief is when you hear from a loved one or friend you were worried about.

Relief is when you realize it was only a bad dream.

Relief is when your granddaughter’s fever goes down—finally.

Relief is when you hear that a dear friend made it through a tough time and is ok.

Relief is when you realize that you actually did some good and not any harm.

Relief is when you find the ring you were sure was lost.

Relief is when your pathology report is clear.

Relief is when you reach out to a friend and they take your hand.

Relief is when you can laugh again after a near disaster.

Relief is when that pain in your chest turns out to be just indigestion.

Relief is when you are no longer angry at someone you love.

Relief is forgiveness; not just for others, but for yourself.

Relief is when your plane lands safely after an hour of turbulence.

Relief is when you wake up after a surgery and all is well.

Relief is when you can laugh again.

Relief is grace, gratitude, goodness and joy.

On Being an Owl

I originally posted this in 2016, but it bears repeating. Once you know you are an “owl,” you will always be one.

When I was in high school, one of my English teachers told me that I was an “owl.” At first I was flattered; you know, wise old owl and all that. Then I realized that what he really meant was that I took things too seriously—especially myself.

The class was divided into two factions—those who loved the class and those who hated it. I of course loved it; reading and writing were and are my favorite hobbies. One day I admonished one of the haters for “helping the English language devolve into useless slang,” and of course I was ridiculed for weeks afterward for that comment. But that was part of my “owlishness;” I hated being laughed at, especially about those things I took so terribly seriously.

(By the way, I still mourn the collapse of our English language, and wonder how in the heck Webster’s can allow such drivel as the word “woot” into its hallowed pages. But that’s another argument for another time.)

It took years and lots of life experience to realize that I was simply being a typical young person. At that age, we tend to be our own heroes and we conveniently overlook our faults, and we believe we are right about everything. It took me even more years to realize that the reason why I didn’t like some people was because they had habits that drove me nuts–exactly the same habits I have. That’s why they bugged me so muchLive and learn…..

Even in my sixties there are days and people and events that still press my buttons, but that’s kind of how we all are, isn’t it? I truly wish I could be a more Zen-type person, never letting small stuff bother me, keeping my mind peaceful, wishing goodness and light to all those around me (even the ones who drive me bat-crap crazy); but I’m just not that evolved yet. Maybe I’ll never be, but I do try to remember that things are seldom all about me, even if it feels as though that’s true.

My opinions, habits, hobbies, likes and dislikes are certainly not the wisdom of sages. Unfortunately, I am still an owl, and have to keep reminding myself not to sweat the small stuff or let circumstances over which I have no control anger or depress into not living well. The best defense against my owlishness is to keep being grateful, keep on doing the things I love, keep on telling the people who matter to me how much I love them, and doing even the smallest act of kindness whenever I can.

I may still be an owl, but I am working on being a more evolved owl. Wish me luck.