Thursday Thoughts

Helping the Pantyless
Back in September, I wrote a blog post about a recent trip to Estes Park. As part of the post, I mentioned that I had forgotten to pack a few things, including underwear.  While I could find the other things, I simply couldn’t figure out where in Estes Park I could find underwear. This led to that, and I was able to find women’s underwear at a most unlikely spot – the True Value Hardware Store in Estes. Earlier this week, I got an email sent to my Nana’s Whimsies account.  Here is what the sender, Sarah (a person unknown to me) told me:

Thank you so much for your post about finding underwear in Estes Park. I had a similar snafu with my trip and arrived today to find out I’m without any underwear for our trip. Oops! I will make my way down the road to True Value in the morning.

I am so happy that I could help her. But I was curious how she stumbled upon my humble blog. I Googled “underwear Estes Park Colorado” and lo, and behold, my blog post was the fifth link down. I don’t know why, but that make me smile. Nana’s Whimsies is here to help!

What Movie Are We At?
I mentioned the other day that Bec and I went to see Murder on the Orient Express. We went out to lunch, and then went to a 12:45 p.m. showing of the film. We didn’t expect the theater to be packed because of the movie we were seeing and the time of the showing. In fact, when we entered the theater, there were two elderly women already seated, and that was it. A few more folks dibbled and dabbled in, and it’s no surprise that they were all about our age. What made us laugh, however, is that the first two ads that came up on the screen were these: a funeral home, and an Alzheimer’s facility. Bec leaned over to me and said, “Well, I guess they know their demographic, don’t they?”

Frontier: Cheap and Bumpy
Bill and I flew back to Denver yesterday morning. Our flight was so early (6:25 a.m.) that we were in our Uber car by 8:30, and home by 9. I had read a flying tip somewhere that suggested if two people are flying together, they should book the window seat and the aisle seat. The idea is that if people are looking to book a seat, they are less likely to choose a middle seat, resulting in a greater possibility of getting a row to ourselves. So we tried it. After all, who else besides us would be stupid enough to catch a 6:25 a.m. flight? The answer is many people. Because the plane was entirely full. It seems many people were flying places southeast (Florida, North Carolina were two we overheard about) and Denver was the layover city. So we had a person sitting in between us. She nicely offered to give one of us her seat so we could sit next to one another, but we declined. I made mention of the fact that we might run into turbulence. She turned to me and said, “I’ve never flown Frontier Airlines before. Are their planes often turbulent?” I bit my lip to keep from laughing and explained that it wasn’t Frontier in particular, but that any flights over the mountains are often bumpy. As it turned out, the flight wasn’t bumpy at all. She had a seven-hour layover in Denver. Yuck for her.

Nana’s Home
The first thing I always do when my airplane lands is turn on my cell phone. As soon as it was turned on, I got a notification indicating a voice message. I listened to the message, which was from our granddaughter Addie. She asked if I could possibly pick her up from school since she had an early release and her mom would be tied up on a conference call. I leaned over the woman sitting between and asked Bill if he would be back from lunch by 2 because Addie needed a ride from school (we are down to only one car for this month). The woman between us laughed. “Wow,” she said. “They don’t even give you time to unfasten your seat belt.” Very true, but I am always happy to help, and that’s a fact. And here’s why…..


The Annoying Little Belgian

I have been a fan of Agatha Christie since grade school. I know this because I have a vivid memory of our 6th grade teacher – Sister Amica – walking around our classroom while we were having quiet reading time, glancing down at the book I was reading and gasping in horror. She proceeded to take the book from my hands and held it up for the entire class to see as an example of a highly inappropriate reading choice. Was I reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover? No. I was reading Death on the Nile, a fine Agatha Christie novel featuring our favorite Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

The book came – as many of my books did back in those days – from the Columbus Public Library. On the bottom left-hand corner of the book there was a stamp indicating it was a Crime Club Book. That, my friends, was my grave sin. “Criiiiiiime Cluuuuuub,” she practically hissed. It was the gun that triggered her anger. Ha, get it? Triggered?

I was an 11 or 12 year old who respected my elders, did my homework, and obeyed instructions from my teachers. Yet, even at that age, I recall thinking, “Really? You’re troubled by an Agatha Christie mystery?” Good thing my parents taught me to think for myself.

Anyway, I love Agatha Christie mysteries to this day, and Hercule Poirot is my favorite detective. History tells us Agatha Christie grew tired of Poirot, referring to him as “that annoying little Belgian.” She called him a “detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep.” That’s blunt. I, of course, disagree. But back to Poirot. His style is always the same. He does his due diligence with one trusty sidekick or another following behind him and doing his bidding. Using his “little grey cells,” he is able to solve the mystery. In the last chapter, he always gathers everyone into a room and proceeds to explain the who, how, and why. I don’t think I ever guessed a murderer in advance. What’s more, though I’ve read the books more times than I can count, I rarely remember the murderer. One of the few instances where getting old and forgetful comes in handy.

The exception to this phenomenon is Murder on the Orient Express. The reason I remember the murderer is because not only have I read the book a half dozen times, but there have been a total of four Murder on the Orient Express movies made, and I’ve seen all but the one that was made-for-network-television in 2001 and was panned. Well, true confession: There was a Japanese version made that I also missed. Seeing Hercule Poirot eat sushi is just wrong.

The most recent version is, of course, the one that is currently running in the movie theaters. Bec and I went to see it yesterday. She is as a big an Agatha Christie fan as I, except I don’t think she ever got busted in school for reading The Mysterious Affair at Styles. She probably covered the book up with brown paper. Anyway, I was very excited when I saw the preview for the movie because it is such a great mystery. However, I had two concerns about watching this movie. 1) Would it be as much fun when I knew the ending; and 2) How could anyone besides David Suchet play Poirot. As far as I’m concerned, he is the Poirot by which all Poirots are measured.

A couple of years ago, I took a class through the Academy of Lifelong Learning, a program offering educational opportunities for seniors. While others were taking Economics in the 21st Century, or Using Physics Principles in Everyday Life, I took a class on Hercule Poirot. Stop snickering. I loved it. It gave me the opportunity to talk to other Agatha Christie geeks about which actress was the best Miss Marple, or what was your favorite Christie murder location.

As part of the course, we watched two of the four movies. In 1974, the first Murder on the Orient Express movie came out, and it featured Albert Finney as the Belgian detective, with a slew of famous costars, including Ingrid Bergman. Then the Poirot series on PBS television  offered their version, and the angels sang. David Suchet as Poirot, well, it’s just right. Fewer famous costars, but DAVID SUCHET.

So how does the 2017 version compare? Favorably, I’m happy to say. Kenneth Branagh, an Irish actor and director, stars as Poirot, and does a great job. He doesn’t try to copy Suchet’s Poirot, and that’s a good thing. Even his famous Poirot mustaches are different. This one is so big it practically needs it’s own dressing room…..

The movie featured a bang-up cast, especially if you watch a lot of PBS movies and television shows. I found myself trying to figure out where I saw that actor or on which show that actress plays a police detective. And I will watch any movie in which Judi Dench has a role, though this one was small.

As for knowing the ending, surprisingly, that wasn’t a problem at all. I watched the movie a bit differently than someone who didn’t know the murderer’s identity, but it kind of made it fun.

By the way, as I was driving home, I learned from the radio that it was World Kindness Day. If I had known that, I would have bought Bec’s ticket. But Poirot was kind at the end of the movie, so there was that….

Brick Laying

Back when the first mobile phones became available in the early- to mid-1980s, Bill was on board. Back then we called them cellular phones. Bill has always been interested in technology. He had one of those telephones that we now affectionally call “bricks” because it was quite literally the size and shape of a brick. And man alive, was he ever the coolest dude at the State Capitol where he worked as a lobbyist.

The phone was so big that you obviously couldn’t easily carry it around. So Bill (and probably anyone who had purchased one of those new-fangled devices) carried it around in his briefcase. After all, no one was going to call him. The phone was primarily to call others. I guess he probably had a phone number, but the idea of being able to reach a person no matter where they were was beyond our limited imagination. But when he needed to make a call, he opened up the brief case, reached inside to pull out the enormous but magically wireless phone, and made his call. Usually just to the bartender at the pub where he went for his after-work beer so that he could cause a stir. “Hey, could you bring me a beer? I’m sitting in the back booth.”

The rest is history, of course. Now it is the rare person – usually a baby boomer holding fast to the need for a land line – who has a telephone that is somehow connected to the wall. And since the 80s, cell phones began to get smaller and smaller, until you had the flip phones which were literally a couple of inches long when they were folded in half.

Once phones became “smart” the size began to change again. And now the size of phones has varied from very small to very large to very small again. Now they again seem to be quite large. I think they are too large for comfort, but no one asked me. Hey Apple, when you start considering the details of the iPhone XIII (because I’m sure they already have the launch plans ready for the XI and the XII), give me a ringy dingy.

For his birthday, I got Bill a new cell phone. He has used his old cell phone to the point where it was practically useless because it wouldn’t hold a charge. He would turn it on in the morning, check his email, and the battery would be down to 24 percent. So he simply didn’t use it. I would try to reach him when I was away from home, and he never EVER answered the phone because he was downstairs and the phone was plugged in upstairs in our bedroom. I would get annoyed (who me?) but would remind myself that it wasn’t all that many years ago that we would call someone’s land line and the phone would ring and ring and ring because they weren’t at home. Imagine that.

Anyway, I told him to pick out a new phone. Being Bill, he did considerable research and ended up choosing an LG V30. Great camera and holds a charge, he said. Boom. Done.

He likes the phone a great deal, but the thing is, it’s big. He tried carrying it in his shirt pocket, but it kept falling out because see above. It’s big. He would lay it down on his desk and then walk away and not hear the phone ring and was no better off than before.

The other day, he sheepishly said to me, “Kris, I think I’m going to buy a phone holder that attaches to my belt.”

He went on (and here, at long last, is the point of my blog), “I know it’s goofy these days to wear your phone on your belt, but it seems like the best answer for me.”

“Then that’s what you should do, and Millennials be DAMNED,” I answered firmly. Because you know how I feel about letting people whose diapers we changed tell us what looks goofy and what doesn’t look goofy.

I began trying to recall what our children – at least our boy children – do with their cell phones. I concluded that they simply carry them around in their hands. Because they are texting most of the time. And when they come into our house, they lay them down on the counter next to the coffee pot when they’re not texting. Every minute-and-a-half, they walk over to check and see if they got another text.

So Bill, I will continue to wear my capri pants and you can attach your phone holder to your belt and when we hear snickering from the snotty 30-somethings walking behind us, we will remind them that it was our generation who invented cell technology so if we want to hook a phone holder to our belts, that’s what we’ll do.

And, by the way, tuck your shirt in and you need a shave.

Saturday Smile: The Good News and the Bad News

Our grandson Joseph had the misfortune to have a stomach virus last weekend. On Sunday morning he still was throwing up. Our daughter-in-law Lauren said she was downstairs and could hear him in the bathroom. A few minutes later, he came downstairs.

“Mama, I have some good news and some bad news,” he told her in his typical earnest manner.

“Really?” Lauren said leerily. “What’s the good news?”

“The good news is that I threw up but I made it to the toilet.”

“That is good news,” she replied. “What’s the bad news?”

“The bad news is that I can’t find the remote,” he responded.

Here’s to hoping the two things aren’t connected.

Have a great weekend.


Friday Book Whimsy: To Be Where You Are

I read Jan Karon’s novel To Be Where You Are earlier this fall shortly after it was released, and it happened to be a particularly difficult time in my life. The latest in her Mitford series featuring our favorite Episcopalian priest Father Tim was an ointment for my heart soul, just as I knew it would be.

The entire series – now a total of 14 books – takes place in the fictional town of Mitford, North Carolina, a small village in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville. While Father Tim and his wife Cynthia are the stars of the show, the surrounding players – his son Dooley and various beloved family and friends – are really what make these stories so lovely. Karon manages to make the townspeople lovable and quirky, but not caricatures of small-town hillbillies.

In her latest novel, Dooley and Lace, now married, are preparing for formal adoption of their foster son Jack, while trying to get Dooley’s vet practice going. Lace has her own distractions, as she has been commissioned to do a painting for a well-known Hollywood actress. All of this takes place as Father Tim struggles to help out several friends in unexpected ways. While a town like Mitford likely doesn’t exist anywhere, Karon’s books always have a realistic way about them. In To Be Where You Are, faithful readers say goodbye to a beloved friend, as we have had to do in the past, but hello to others.

The story is punctuated by the characters’ strong faith in God and belief that they are all part of a bigger plan. I took the prayers uttered by the characters to my heart and prayed them along with them. Much highlighting. Very much highlighting.

To Be Where You Are reminded this reader that at the end of the day, it isn’t the amount of money you earn or the fancy house in which you live, but instead it’s the number of people you can call friends and the blessings that are in you life.

Karon is in her 80s now, and I don’t know how many more Mitford stories she has in her. I hope a few more. While To Be Where You Are left us with a perfect segue to the next book, it also ends with Father Tim and Cynthia driving off in an RV for an adventure. A perfect way to end a series.

Fingers crossed it’s the former. I loved this book.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

Put on Some Pants
In yesterday’s blog post, I talked about the study that indicated second-borns were more likely to become criminals. Pshaw. But my sister Jen commented on the post, and in her comment she pointed out that while her 3-year-old granddaughter Lilly (who is a second-born) isn’t a criminal, she does give her mother a ride for her money. Most recently, according to Jen, Lilly attended her brother’s baseball game without the benefit of underwear despite the fact that she was wearing a dress. The comment got me to thinking….When I was in second grade, I was at school one day and there was a knock on the classroom door. Sister Collista – the meanest nun I ever encountered – answered the door and I saw that it was my mother. Now, even my 7-year-old mind knew that couldn’t be good. Sister called my name and I walked to the door. In my mother’s hands was a pair of underwear, underwear which should have been on my bottom because I, like Lilly, was wearing a dress. So, while second-borns might not necessarily be criminals, it appears they might have a problem keeping their underwear on their bottoms.

Blue Ain’t Your Color
Speaking of Lilly, we went to her brother’s baseball game last night. Lilly happily showed me her VERY BLUE TONGUE, the result of a VERY BLUE SUCKER that she was eating. I told her I was going to send the photo to her Grammie and ask if we should take her to the hospital. Lilly giggled in her Lilly-like way, and told me that wasn’t a very good idea. I’m pretty sure her Grammie figured out why her tongue was blue….

Dresses Galore
I watched the CMA Music Awards last night. I was happy that Blue Ain’t Your Color won best single because it’s one of my favorite songs, and will be for some time. You probably already knew this, but I was surprised to learn that Better Man, performed by Little Big Town, was written by Taylor Swift. In hindsight, it actually didn’t surprise me at all because I think she writes some of the most interesting lyrics to catchy music, and Better Man is a GOOD song. I told Bill he should start wearing his jeans as tight as male half of Little Big Town, and he declined. My prevailing thought as the show ended was just how many dresses Carrie Underwood wore from the beginning of the show until the end. Wow, she changes clothes quickly.

Orange Is My Color
Bill and I stopped at Superstition Ranch Market yesterday afternoon and stocked up on my Stewarts Diet Orange and Cream soda. Remember my Orange and Cream soda saga? If not, read about it here. I purchased the pop with Alastair in mind. Not that I’ll share…..