Saturday Smile: Keeping Warm

I finally finished the blanket I crocheted for our granddaughter Adelaide in her school colors — green and gold. I put it in the mail earlier this week and received this photo last night as a thank you…..

It was worth the literal hours I spent crocheting seeing her beautiful smile.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: It’s a Wonderful Woof

Bernie Little is a private detective, with the greatest partner of all time: his dog Chet. Chet flunked out of K-9 training school, was rescued by Bernie, the greatest human that has ever lived, at least according to Chet.

It’s a Wonderful Woof, by author and clearly dog-lover Spencer Quinn, is the 12th book in this charming and funny detective series. I wouldn’t call the books cozy mysteries, as Chet and Bernie run into some touch customers “in their line of work” as Chet would say.

Yes, Chet. Because he is the narrator of these stories, and a more loveable narrator I have never come across. I think anyone would find these books fun to read, but if you own a dog — or have EVER owned a dog — Chet’s voice will resonate with you. The author absolutely nails a dog’s personality and loyalty to their human.

In the spirit of Christmas, Bernie refers a potential client to another detective, Victor Klovsky. It isn’t all generosity on Bernie’s part, because the case sounds dull, involving mostly uninteresting online research. He and his partner Chet like to be more active than that.

Klovsky appreciates the referral, but it isn’t long before Klovsky vanishes, along with his client. What follows is a frisky romp (I couldn’t resist) between good guys and bad guys that involves old ruins, nasty bad guys, and paintings by a famous Italian artist. Whaaat? In the land of saguaros and prickly pear cactus?

I always look forward to Chet and Bernie’s latest episodes. And they always make me look at dogs a bit differently. What exactly is it that you are thinking when you look at me like that?

Five paws up for this book.

Thursday Thoughts

The Sun Will Come Up
My brother and I don’t text every day, but he will often send me photos. Mainly, the photos include sunrises and sunsets that he sees from his home at the foot of Superstition Mountain. The other day he sent this pretty photo of a colorful sunrise just outside of Tucson. It made me think once again how lucky I am to have two houses in two places with gorgeous sunrises and sunsets…..

By the way, the other photos he sends me on a regular basis are of one of his pooches — Charlie. Charlie’s cheerful eyes always make me smile. He was wanting someone to play ball with him — at 5 o’clock in the morning…..

Not Cheerful
The other day, I was wanting to make something that involved noodles. Upon looking at my considerable stash of pasta that I keep on my pantry shelves in our garage, I was sad to learn that there wasn’t a single noodle to be had. I, of course, can’t do what I would normally do, that is, jump in the car and make a quick trip to the grocery store. So I batted my eyes at Bill, and asked if he would run over to Basha’s to get a bag of noodles. The batting likely only made him think I had something in my eye, but nevertheless, he complied. He sent me this photo from the grocery store…..

Finding noodles was easier said than done. He made a second trip to Fry’s down the street, and managed to find a bag of noodles. I guess pasta must be the toilet paper of 2022. During this time of great inflation, any time a common product is on sale, people are bound to scoop it up.

Screened In
Shortly after we arrived here in AZ, our screen door leading to the back yard came off the hinges. The timing was unfortunate, because it’s just starting to get warm in the afternoons, and a breeze coming in feels so good. I called our wonderful handyman, but it took him a week to find time in his schedule to come to us. But yesterday, in a matter of an hour or so, he had it completely repaired. Now I don’t have to worry about the flies coming in, as they are wont to do.

Ciao.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Several years ago, someone came up with the idea of having a way for people in a self-defined neighborhood to talk to one another through the miracle of technology. Share ideas. Find lost dogs. Help find a handyman.

The idea — called Next Door — indeed, helps find lost dogs, encourages shared ideas, provides suggestions for the world’s best handymen. Mostly, however, it appears to provide a platform for bitching and complaining. And further proof that we like nothing better than pointing fingers at what others are doing wrong.

I thought it was just in my Denver neighborhood Next Door. But when we arrived at our AZ home, it became clear that the Next Door platform is pretty much the same everywhere. By the way, I have not found a way to be on Next Door at both homes. It appears to be one or the other. I don’t really care about Denver dogs pooping in my yard when I’m in Mesa, AZ. Nor do I care about empty grocery shelves at my nearby Mesa grocery stores when I’m in Denver, CO. I’m certain my inability to be on both neighborhoods’ Next Door is because of something I’m doing wrong, but that doesn’t matter because I can’t change it. Maybe I should complain on Next Door.

Did any of you know how many times guns were blasting in your neighborhood? Apparently this is an every day event in my seemingly quiet Denver ‘hood. Gunfire occurs on nearly a daily basis, though the shots seem to be fired even more frequently around New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. Weird.

This was an actual conversation that I read on my Denver Next Door on New Year’s Eve:

Person A: Did anyone hear those gunshots?

Person B: Those weren’t gunshots; those were fireworks.

Person A: No, I clearly heard rapid-fire gunshots just a few minutes ago.

Person B: Those were people shooting off firecrackers.

Person A: Nope. They were gunshots.

Person B: I thought the same thing, but I looked out my window and saw some teenagers setting off fireworks.

Person A: No, they were definitely gunshots.

Person B: I saw them with my own eyes.

Person A: Gunshots.

I stopped reading because the gunshots were giving me a headache.

This is not to say that there aren’t occasional gunfights at the OK Corral gun shots near Southmoor Park, but really People?

My sister Bec says that every Friday night at 8 o’clock, the party store down the street from her house sets off fireworks. Every single Friday night at 8 o’clock, someone posts on her Next Door Did anyone hear those gunshots?

Apparently Chandler, AZ, is every bit as dangerous as my Denver neighborhood.

The most recent complaints that I read on my Denver Next Door have to do with Chick-Fil-A. People are put off because the restaurant’s staff says, “My pleasure,” in answer to a customer’s thank you.

It’s like the Stepford Wives, said one complainer. Funny, Stepford Wives isn’t what comes to my mind when I hear my pleasure. Instead, what comes to my mind is courtesy and gentle kindness.

I wonder if people in neighborhoods with higher crime rates hear gunfire and immediately go on Next Door and write Did anyone else hear those firecrackers?

Affirmative

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between.

Johnny Mercer

I have a game on my iPad that I play when I’m bored. Well, full disclosure, I often play it when I’m not a bit bored because I’m somewhat addicted. It’s a matching game, and while it started out easy, it’s now kicking my butt.

Anyhoo, the game opens up by presenting affirmations to the player. They change every two or three days. The most recent one said You are fierce. You are unafraid. You are strong. I’m not reluctant to tell you that the affirmations always tick me off. This one, however, makes me want to throw my iPad across the room.

Every time the affirmation shows up (and that’s quite often because SEE ABOVE: I’m addicted), I immediately tell my iPad, “No siree. I’m timid. I’m afraid of everything. I’m a weakling.” So, see? The affirmations are working against me, not with me.

Hey! That could be the new affirmation: Affirmations don’t work for you.

If the world’s psychologists believe affirmations are necessary, they should make them more realistic, more attainable. Instead of I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me, they should say something like You have a 50% chance of getting both legs into your pants today without falling back onto the bed. Or It’s entirely possible that you won’t cut someone off in traffic today.

Affirmations remind me of Chinese fortune cookies. It used to be that fortune cookies actually told fortunes like You will meet a tall, dark stranger today. Now they are more likely to wimpily declare Your sunny personality makes you pleasant to be around. I’m not certain the reason for the change, but I suspect litigation is behind it all. (The fortune cookie promised I would meet a tall, dark stranger, and I counted on that; however, it was a false promise. I’m going to sue China.) Either that, or the former cookies were hurting Gen Xers’ feelings. (What? I’m only pleasant? I’m not amazing?)

My belief is that the only people who take affirmations seriously are those who don’t need the affirmations. They already know they are fierce (uh huh), unafraid (yep), and strong (as an ox). The rest of us are saying but you don’t know the real me. I would be a great disappointment to you.

My conclusion, therefore, is that affirmations are a waste of time.

Hey! That too could be an affirmation. Maybe I should go into the affirmation-writing business.

Three Point Turn

I took drivers’ ed when I was a high school sophomore. The man who taught the class was a pervert. I didn’t know at the time that he was a pervert because I went to a Catholic school and we didn’t have sex education where you may or may not learn to spot a pervert. I simply remember that I, along with three other students, was in the car with him, and I was driving. He spotted a sign along the side of the road that said Soft Shoulders, and he looked at the sign and said to the four girls in the car, “Hey, hey, hey, sooooft shooooulders,” while leeringly looking at us.

I am thankful to tell you that he was NOT a member of my school’s faculty; instead, he was contracted to teach the class. Had I been as enlightened then as I am now, I would have tattled about him to our principal. But, see above, my 15-year-old self didn’t know that men shouldn’t say those kinds of things to teenaged girls.

At any rate, perhaps because he was too busy being a pervert, he apparently never taught me how to make the three-point turn. That fact hasn’t been too detrimental to my life. As it happens, the three-point turn is pretty instinctual. I will admit, however, that I have never used the three-point turn as often as I have in the last week while using my knee scooter in our very small AZ home.

I’m beginning to get accustomed to that little devil, relying on it to get me everywhere, including the little WC in which our toilet sits. I back up so often that it occurs to me that I could use one of those back-up alerts, though it’s true that I have run over my own foot much more often than I have run into Bill.

I can put no weight on my left foot. None whatsoever. Perhaps if I had exercised more than my crochet fingers the past six months, my right leg would happily take on the task of supporting all of my weight. As it happens, my right leg is not a bit happy to be given that task. Nor is my right hip. My feet will be perfect, but my hip pain will confine me to a wheelchair.

The biggest adjustment I have had to make is mental. Nothing happens quickly. If I forget my coffee cup in the kitchen, I have to use my foot to drag the scooter close enough for me to hurdle myself onto the apparatus, do the aforementioned three-point turn, and scoot into the kitchen. I then place the coffee cup onto the counter that divides the kitchen from the living area, and do another three point turn in order to return to the living room. I back up my scooter just so, put on the brakes, and hurdled myself back into the chair. Oh no! I left my coffee cup on the counter.

And so on.

As I suspected, the scooter is becoming more familiar to me, and therefore easier to use. Jen’s grands Austin and Lilly came for a visit last week, and they couldn’t even begin to imagine why I didn’t think the scooter was anything but fun. Austin took to racing around the house, in the exact way that Bill did the first day I had the scooter. Bill, however, crashed and burned while Austin raced it perfectly. That proves my theory that men never grow up, they only grow old.

Friday Book Whimsy: Favorite Books of 2021

I’m finally getting around to naming my five favorite books of 2021. I must tell you, however, that there are seven. Seven is such an odd number of faves, so I’m pretending like I’m naming five and have two honorable mentions. The reality is I’m offering these books in no particular order.

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Virgil Wounded Horse is the informal “enforcer” on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He has no training, and the position is unpaid. He simply makes sure that things are mostly on the straight and narrow on the Rez. But when heroin is being brought onto the reservation, a member of the Tribal Council asks him to find out where it’s coming from and make it stop. In the meantime, the problems begin to start hitting close to home. I loved the writing, but mostly I was fascinated to learn more about what is often the tragic lives of the people on the Indian reservations.

The Rose Code, by Kate Quinn
Beth, Mab, and Osla are three very different young women, their only similarity being that they all work for the uber-secret Bletchley Park during World War II. Their jobs are some variation of breaking codes so that the military can anticipate strikes. The workers consist mostly of women because most men are off fighting the war. Each of the three women have their own personal issues, but the stories of how Bletchley Park helped form their lives was rivoting. Bletchley Park has always interested me because of the brilliance of the minds at work, and the fact that they were mostly women.

Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Nina and her siblings, Jay, Hud, and Kit have grown up in L.A. mostly without parents. Their father, a famous rock star, left the family behind long ago. Their mother was the sole parent until she died when Kit was just a small girl. Nina, only 16 at the time, had to take over the family, keeping this fact a secret so that the authorities wouldn’t split them up. They managed, even thrived, though Nina’s life wasn’t what she’d expected. Each year the four siblings throw a huge party. Though told with flashbacks, the gist of the story takes place over a 24-hour period around one of these parties — a period that will change all of their lives forever. Malibu Rising was an unexpected surprise to me, and I really couldn’t put the book down. I will admit that if my feet were held to the fire, this was my favorite book of 2021.

Razerblade Tears, by S.A. Cosby
I looked forward to Cosby’s second novel as soon as I finished his first, Blacktop Wasteland. In this story, the fathers of two gay men, one white and one black, are dissatisfied with the police’s inability to solve their sons’ murder cases. Though very different men, the two work together to avenge their son’s deaths, in part to make up for the fact that they didn’t accept their sons’ sexuality before it was too late. The book is gritty and often difficult to read, but the author’s writing is so amazing, and his ability to make readers get deeply into the minds of his characters is incredibly satisfying. Though it is a sad book, it was one of my favorites of the year.

The Guncle, by Steven Rowley
Perhaps pre-COVID, this book wouldn’t have been one of my favorites. But as it happens, I read the book at a time when I most needed to read such a book. The Guncle is the story of a former sitcom star whose fame is diminishing. He is referred to by his young niece Maisie and his even younger nephew Grant as Guncle, which stands for Gay Uncle Patrick. A tragedy hits the family that requires Maisie and Grant to spend a summer with their uncle, whose life is very different from what they are used to. It turns out that Patrick needs Maise and Grant as much as they need him. He is still grieving the loss of his life partner in a sudden accident. But the bottom line is, they all love one another. I’m pretty sure Patrick will remain one of my favorite characters of all time. The book was one of the most poignant and uplifting books I’ve ever read.

The Nature of Fragile Things, Susan Meissner
It is the beginning of the 20th Century, and Sophie, an Irish immigrant who lives in the NYC slums, answers an ad in a newspaper placed by a San Francisco man seeking a wife and a mother for his young daughter. Desperate to get out of her present situation, she answers the ad and makes her way across the country to marry a man she has never met. The man is willing to provide for her, and seems tolerant if not in love with Sophie. As time goes by, Sophie becomes more and more fearful of the man and his strange life. And then the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 hits, chasing Sophie and her newly adopted daughter Kit at great risk for their lives. The story is one of strength and the importance of strong female friendships. I enjoyed learning the history of the earthquake and the subsequent historical events.

The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles
The Lincoln Highway runs right through the town in which I spent my formative years. Despite my ties to that highway, I had little understanding of its history or importance to the development of the United States. It runs from Time Square in NYC all the way across the country, ending in San Francisco. The Lincoln Highway, is primarily the story of young Emmett, who has served time in a reform school for killing another young man, and his brother 8-year-old Billy. Emmett was released early to care for Billy because their father had died and their mother had disappeared shortly after Billy was born. Their plan is to get out of their Nebraska home town and go, well, ANYWHERE, to start a new life. However, when former co-inmates Duchess and Wooley unexpectedly show up, this leads to that, and most of it ends up happening on the Lincoln Highway. I loved the characters in this book, even the ones who weren’t always on the up and up. Billy is unforgettable.

There you have it, my friends. I found 2021 to be a good year for reading. I am looking forward to the reading year ahead.

Moving Ahead

While it’s taken nearly a full week of recovering getting a grip on my new, temporary situation, here I am, back at my keyboard. I’m raring to go!

Given all of my whining and angst in the days leading up to my foot surgery, one would think it involved amputation. A long-time friend contacted me a couple of days before I was to have my surgery and gave me a pep talk. Lean into it, she told me. Make it an adventure, she suggested. And then she added that she had spent an entire hot and humid Nebraska summer and fall in a thigh-to-ankle cast after slipping on a piece of fruit on the floor of a Walmart and breaking a kneecap. (It’s called perspective, people.) I asked her if she hadn’t had her kneecap broken by Rocky “Knuckles” Gambino seeking late payments of school fees, but she assured me it was slipping on fruit. My idea would be more interesting.

I have now had a total of four surgeries in my life if you count the hernia operation I had when I was 7, (and why wouldn’t you?). I have nearly no recollections about my youthful operation except that the doctor allowed me to take my dolly with me (though I’m pretty sure she didn’t go into the OR). But the other three surgeries all were the same. The anesthesiologist (who comes and goes like a ninja in the night, never to be seen again) says nighty-night, and I wake up a second later in the recovery room…..

This time there was no dolly by my side, just a cheerful nurse who assured me that my sister Jen and the doctor had enjoyed a lengthy conversation about my foot (and maybe the Cardinals’ chances of getting into the Super Bowl).

It was outpatient surgery, so Jen drove me home. My foot was wrapped in an Ace bandage, and it was like I had no foot at all. I kept glancing down to make sure they hadn’t done the aforementioned amputation. The numbness lasted until 2:30 Saturday morning, when I woke up and thought, gosh darn, I do have a foot, and it really hurts. Never fear, because a pain pill was near.

Since Saturday, I have not had the need for any pain medication, not even ibuprofen. My siblings say Gloors have a high pain tolerance. I nod, like I’m Superman, but the reality is that it really doesn’t hurt. And frankly, I prefer my nightly glass of wine to a narcotic. The ability to poop is often underrated unless you are prone to bowel obstructions, and narcotics are constipating while red wine is health food.

Tuesday, my sister Bec took me to my post-op appointment, where I got to see my new, improved foot for the first time. My big toe is as straight as a Mormon bishop, but my foot modeling career is over as I have two unsightly incisions. Oh, and a foot that is so swollen it looks like a balloon. But I’m happy to say he was pleased with my progress, and quite impressed with my pain tolerance (which, see above, is really virtually no pain at all, but I’ll let him be impressed). “I like my more mature patients,” he said. “They don’t whine as much.” Bill might disagree. I left wearing a bright pink cast. Why wear white when you can wear pink?…..

By the way, I never forget how impressed I am with my siblings, who have all pitched in in their own ways. Bec lifted my very heavy knee scooter in and out of her trunk so many times I thought she might participate in weight lifting in the next Olympic games. My brother brought me freshly-baked krispies, and let’s face it: krispies are healing. Jen helped me prepare, get to and from my surgery, and has provided cheerleading from Fort Collins after she went back home on Sunday.

As for Bill, he has provided yeoman services to me, though I haven’t yet had him feed me grapes. Still, I point, and he does my bidding. I might get used to this.

Thanks to all my friends and family who have prayed, cooked, and generally cheered me on. I’m on the road to better feet!

Thursday Thoughts

Go Big or Go Home
There’s a chance I might be a multi-millionaire by time you read this blog post. The Powerball jackpot is up to $630 million dollars. A cash-out would be in the neighborhood of $450 million. I could do a lot of things with that kind of loot. Of course, my chances of winning are much slimmer because I didn’t actually buy a ticket. I thought about it, however, but I never actually made it to the grocery store to buy the lottery ticket. As they say, you can’t win if you don’t play. My dad used to buy lottery tickets every week. He had a system by which he selected the numbers. I think it had to do with his kids’ birthdays. He never won, but he actually had a better chance than me because he would buy the ticket. If there isn’t a winner, I’ll make sure to put myself in the running next week.

Turn Out the Lights
Many years ago, before we began spending our winters in AZ, Bill and I would take down our inside Christmas decorations after New Year’s Day. We would, however, leave our outdoor lights up until the end of the stock show. That’s when the City and County of Denver turns off the lights on the government building. I managed to take down my little string of lights that I had hanging above our sofa yesterday. I’m not ready to take down our little Christmas tree. It’s in our dining area, and I used all of my kitchen ornaments to decorate, so it doesn’t look too ridiculous. And besides, I’m the boss of me! I will take the tree down when I’m good and ready.

Heatin’ Up
When we first arrived in AZ on Christmas Day, we had a few days of rain. For the past few days, however, it has been clear skies all around. The temperatures are kind of chilly in the morning, even getting down to 32 degrees one night. But by noon, it has reached a pleasant 65 degrees. Beginning this weekend, the temps will warm up further to the low 70s. Unfortunately, our family and friends in Colorado are experiencing the snow storms that are passing through the country. My son Court texted me last night to inform me that it was 7 degrees. Brrr. But I will admit that Colorado needs moisture. I will also admit that I feel very thankful to be where it’s not 7, but 70.

See You Soon
You likely won’t hear from me again until some time next week as I will be recovering from my foot surgery. See you soon!

Ciao.