What Pets Do For Us

Our pets have a lovely way of making our lives better. The Crankee Yankee and I have five cats; all with their own history. Two of them were strays, and we couldn’t find out if they had an owner. But winter was upon us and we couldn’t let them get through the cold and snow. So we took them in.

These days we have five cats; four males and one female. We take them to our wonderful vet when they need shots or anything else that will keep them healthy and strong. We buy them special food that is not only good for them, but they really like it and the eat it all; we always call them “the clean plate club.”

Of course, if we happen to be eating chicken or turkey, they will all give us what we call “the woeful kitty look.” So naturally we end up giving them chopped chicken or turkey. I swear that after they eat, and then wash themselves, that they are snickering to each other this: “told you they’d give us some!” The little devils; they know how to work us.

While we love and adore our cats, they can be little buggers sometimes. Example: I always leave a glass of water near the coffee pot. Our one female likes to drink out of it, and there has never been a problem with it; except for last night. Our yellow cat, Bailey, who is a bit of a mischief maker, decided to drink his fill and then tipped the glass over. After I used up a ton of paper towels to dry it up all the water on the floor (while grumbling under my breath), I swear that cat looked pleased with himself, the little bugger.

Ah well, that’s a cat for you. But whatever kind of pet you have, they will make your life better—even if you have to pick up a mess now and then.



The Worriers

Since I have been a worrier all of my life, it doesn’t surprise me that I would worry even more during the pandemic. Of course I realize that worrying doesn’t do much besides wasting a lot of my time; but it’s been a habit for so long I just give in to it.

But oddly enough the pandemic has changed my thinking about worrying. When I go out where there are people, I wear a mask. I even wear one if I go on a pond walk; just in case. It makes me feel less vulnerable, and more safe.

When I was young and living at home with my parents, my mother would tell me that all worrying really doesn’t help anyone at all. These days I get it; worrying really does waste time.

That said, I’m doing my level best to just do what I can, love and cherish all the people (and cats) in my life, and hope for the best outcome for us all. We can only do what we can do to get through this, and worrying really doesn’t help.

So, to all my fellow worriers out there, let’s find some positive things to do while we wait for covid to get the heck out of our lives. I am sure that this, too, will pass. Hang in there, everyone.



Stepping on Each Other’s Toes

Well, the pandemic is certainly keeping us at home. Back before this all happened, we came and went as we pleased. But these days we really have to be careful; we need to wear masks when around people, we need to wash our hands a lot, and we need to be as socially distant as we can be.

All that said, this means that families are all together in their houses just about all the time. We find that we are often snapping at each other, or just stepping on each other’s toes. We are not used being together every single day. Oh, of course we go outside to rake up leaves and such, but for the most part we are together every single day.

Which generally is not a bad thing–however, we often find that we get a little bit snappy with each other now and then. It could be something as trivial as changing channels on TV when the other person was actually enjoying what was on TV. And so it goes.

I have no doubt that soon we will have a vaccine for covid and that at some point in time, things will go back to normal. That said, we will not forget how things were and we will not take things and people for granted.

I hope with all my heart that this is true.

Why “Thank You” Matters

The power of a “thank you” is more important than you’d think. Most of us were raised to say “please” and “thank you;” the former is simple politeness, the last is a gracious acknowledgement of kindness, a gift and so on. When someone has taken the time to present a gift, it deserves a thank you.

My lesson about this happened when I was quite young. An older woman, a friend of my mother, gifted me with a brass pin of hers. I didn’t like it; but a stern look from my mother told me to be gracious and thankful. I thanked the woman and told her how much I loved jewelry and that I would cherish the pin (in fact, I still have it!) The smile on the woman’s face made me realize how important a thank-you is.

Saying “thank you” is a lot like sending a thank-you note to someone who has sent you a gift. The thank-you lets them know that 1) you received the gift, and 2) that you appreciated it. Now especially as Christmas is coming near, it’s a good time to remember thank-you notes. Of course, if you are sitting there with the person you gave the gift to, there is a spoken thank-you and probably a hug or two. But even then, a thank-you note later on means a lot.

I realize that things are much different these days. However, the gift of a “thank you” still means a great deal. Now that the Crankee Yankee and I have two grandgirls, we are always tickled when they run to us, hug us and thank us for their gifts. Especially during these trying times with the pandemic looming over us all, a thank-you means more than you realize.

“But You’ve Seen This On TV/Or Read This Book Before!”

There are movies that I have seen over and over again, such as any of the Harry Potter movies. Not only have I read all the Harry Potter books, but I have seen every Harry Potter movie more times then I can say. This is something that the Crankee Yankee just doesn’t understand; to him, you see a movie and that’s that; you don’t need to see it again.

But I think differently. First of all, I love all the Harry Potter movies, and I know what will happen and so on. It’s a lot like how I feel about re-reading books. This used to drive my mother nuts; she considered that re-reading a book was just a waste of time. But I don’t feel that way; I happily re-read books I love, and I happily watch movies I love.

Oh, I get that most people don’t feel that way, but so what; my watching all the Harry Potter movies hurts no one. I’m the kind of person who loves to say (to myself, usually); “oh boy; now this, that or the other thing is going to happen!” It’s just one of those “to each his own” deals.

For example, I still love it that I went to Hawaii last spring (the Crankee Yankee’s gift to me while he renovated the kitchen), and I still say “maholo” (“thanks” in Hawaiian) to him. It’s sort of the same thing for watching TV; I may have seen the whole thing before, but I like to see it again.

My mother was like that about books; she considered re-reading a book she had already read a huge waste of time. She never did understand why I loved re-reading a good book. But to each his own.

Re-reading a book you’ve read before or seeing a movie you’ve seen before is no crime. We love what we love, and that’s no crime.

Keeping the Wonder

Every morning when the Crankee Yankee and I get up, all of our five cats line up for their breakfast. While this is very cute, we humans would really like to sit down and sip our first cup of coffee for the start of the day. But of course, being the softies that we are, the cats get their breakfast long before we get ours.

Once the indoor kitties are taken care of, I go out of the front door and put out a dish of kibble and a bowl of water for our morning feline “frequent flyers.” I have no idea if they belong to anyone, but I can’t not feed them; I’d rather be sure they have something to eat than not.

When I go out, it’s pitch black and the sky is full of wonder; all the stars are out in glorious splendor, especially Orion and Cassiopedia. From Earth Sky:

“The constellation Cassiopeia the Queen can be found high in the northeast on October evenings, not far from Polaris, the North Star. At any time of year, you can use the Big Dipper to find Cassiopeia. These two star formations are like riders on opposite sides of a Ferris wheel. They’re part of a great spinning wheel of stars seen moving counter-clockwise around Polaris, the North Star, once each day. As Cassiopeia rises upward, the Big Dipper plunges downward, and vice versa.”

All that said, it’s a pretty good way to start the day, even when it’s dark outside. I call it keeping the wonder. And how wonderful it is!












The Thanksgiving Aftermath…

As we all know so well, Thanksgiving this year was, well—different. Because of our unwelcome guest, the pandemic; lots of folks stayed home alone instead of having all the relatives over. The Crankee Yankee and I certainly missed going up to Maine to be with the grandgirls, but during this time it’s safety first. Hopefully we will see them at Christmas, but now it remains to be seen.

In any case, we still enjoyed Thansgiving, and remembered the good times when all of our relatives were together with us. But time and life goes on, and we find new ways to celebrate. Sooner or later there will be a vaccine to knock out covid for good, and things will go back to normal (we hope!). That said, it makes us both wary and thankful at the same time.

The Crankee Yankee and I made way too much food for us, so when we could stop burping and lying around digesting, we brought loads of food over to his brother and his wife (my best friend) for them to enjoy. (Why on earth do we always make so much food during the holidays?!) Of course, all of our cats enjoyed little plates of chopped turkey. After that they found warm places to sleep and burp the afternoon away.

Today we are probably going to have turkey and stuffing for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But isn’t that always the way on Thanksgiving? I hope with all my heart that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Even during this time we still have a lot to be grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving to Us All

Happy Thanksgiving to us all! Every year when we get together to celebrate Thanksgiving; not to mention eating until we groan—we remember Thanksgivings past. When we were kids and enjoyed the feast that our parents or grandparents made, we took it for granted that all Thanksgivings would be the same.

Now that we are the grownups and do all the cooking ourselves, we see Thankgiving with a new perspective. We remember those we have loved and lost, and feel grateful for those we still have with us. Now we are the ones who make the Thanksgiving feast.

We still may eat until the buttons on our pants fly off and burst into flame. We may laugh and talk about Thanksgivings past, and remember all those loved ones who have now gone on before us. Which makes me wonder; do they look down on us and laugh, remembering those Thanksgivings past too?

Considering that we are in a pandemic, we are being extra careful. Where we used to drive up to Maine to be with the grandgirls on Thanksgiving day, we are staying at home and will make our own Thanksgiving meal. Of course there will be phone calls and getting online to see each other; this is our new normal for now.

But just the same, we have a lot to be grateful for. I found the following poem that to me says it all for Thanksgiving:

When Giving Is All We Have

Alberto Ríos – 1952-

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.



What Is Good For Us

There are many days when I don’t feel that I am 69 years old. However, I don’t get out of bed unless I’ve done my back exercises. If I didn’t do them I would be creeping along like a crippled crab. The things I used to do, such as climbing trees, ice skating, skiing or running; that’s long gone. But when you have to give up some things you used to do, you just find new things to do.

Some of the new things I enjoy doing, such as walking down to the pond, is not only good exercise, but it makes me feel that all my gears are still working. There are lots of things that we can do as we age, such as meeting new people, joining a book club, playing games (Scrabble is my favorite), going for short walks and so on. These days I can start playing my ukulele again, or, to the cats’ dismay; playing my *didgeridoo.

These days when we are all pretty much home-bound because of the virus, it’s a good time to haul out our instruments and start playing. We can’t let the current virus make party-poopers out of us; we still can have fun anyway we can.

As Thanksgiving is upon us, many of us will not be with our loved ones because of the current situation. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t still have fun. The Crankee Yankee and I always go up to Maine for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we will miss that. But we can still call or get online to see and enjoy each other.

Find the good; it is always there. And as with anything else, this current situation too will pass. Hang in there everyone.

*The didgeridoo is a wind instrument made from hollow wood. The first didgeridoos, played by aboriginal peoples in northern Australia an estimated 40,000 years ago, were made from fallen eucalyptus branches that had been naturally hollowed out by termites. It is also known that the mayan people of Central America had a similar instrument made of yucca or agave and today referred to as “la trompeta maya” (the mayan trumpet).

No Need to be Perfect

When I was a teenager, I was constantly aware of all the well-dressed beautiful girls in my school. I envied their clothes, their make-up and the way they always seemed so confident. It never occured to me that they, like me, were scared and or worried about how they presented themselves.

During one of our school reunions, I happened to sit near a woman who was in most of my classes in school. She and I got talking, and I told her how much I had admired her in school and how she was always one of the “cool” kids. She started laughing and couldn’t stop; tears of laughter were running down her face. When she pulled herself together, she told me that every morning before school she would worry that she wasn’t dressed nicely enough, and that she felt awkward and not as smart as most of her friends.

Well, we started laughing until our sides hurt. How we worry that we are not pretty or well-dressed or smart or whatever. In the general scheme of things, it turns out that prettiness and being well-dressed doesn’t matter at all. What does matter is how we treat other people as well as ourselves.

There are precious few people who are perfect. Most of us are just as we are, imperfect and trying to do our best in life. We may never know that the people we view as perfect may also have their own worries and that they too feel imperfect.

All we can do is what we can do. There really is no need to aspire to be perfect; all we can do is to be who we are and what we can do in life. You may not believe this, but there may be dozens of people you know who envy you for who you are.