Save the Whales, and the Apostrophe

I recently read the sad news that the Apostrophe Protection Society has been shut down. It’s founder John Richards — a 96-year-old grammarian from Great Britain — threw in the towel.  He founded the Apostrophe Protection Society in 2001 with its mission being “to preserve the correct use of this currently much-abused punctuation mark.” He dismantled it because he was tired of fighting the Good Fight. See above: 96 years old.

Actually, I had no knowledge of the Apostrophe Protection Society’s existence (did you notice my correct usage of the apostrophe?) because if I had known about it, I would have been a vocal and, if necessary, paying member. Misuse of the apostrophe is one of my pet peeves — right up there with not using a turn signal and paying for shipping.

It comes as no surprise to anyone who is vaguely familiar with the use of the apostrophe that its misuse, or even lack of use, has become oh-too-common, and much of the blame is on our increasingly pervasive need for technology. We all know that apostrophes can’t be used in dot-com names. They are also a no-no in the passwords which now have taken over our lives.

Lands’ End’s web address, for example, is  Of course, Lands’ End is notorious for its (did you notice I correctly used the possessive its?) incorrect use of the apostrophe. It should actually be Land’s End, but a typo in the name in the early years when the founders couldn’t afford to correct the mistake resulted in a 57-year misuse of the apostrophe. It probably drove John Richards crazy. I’ll bet he shopped instead at J.C. Penney’s and ate at Popeye’s.

Teachers are apparently becoming increasingly frustrated at their students’ inability to use the apostrophe correctly. (Did you notice I correctly used the placement of apostrophe in the plural students?)They blame it on the fact that the apostrophe actually has two purposes: to replace letters when combining two words (you are becomes you’re, and to signify a possession (child’s play).

I admit that I can’t quite understand the confusion. The first rule is simple. If the noun is plural (e.g. students), the apostrophe goes after the s; if the noun is singular (e.g. student), the apostrophe goes before the s. And if it’s not possessive at all, then don’t include an apostrophe. Grocery produce people: DON’T SELL TOMATO’S, ONION’S, OR PUMPKIN’S.

At the risk of sounding grumpy (and I know you are all thinking I’m already on the grumpiness train), Amazon book reviewers, stop saying things like the writing is so good that your swept back in time. PLEASE CORRECTLY SAY YOU’RE INSTEAD OF YOUR because your grammar is so awful that you’re acting as though you slept through English class.

Mr. Richards, if you are feeling as frustrated as me, please contact me at Nana’s Whimsies, which is (No apostrophe; I’m part of the problem and not part of the solution.)

Days of Yore

I was recently having a conversation with a fellow Baby Boomer, and she began the all-too-familiar story about how she would leave her house in the morning during the summer and show up again when the street lights went on at night. Baby Boomers all tell the same story, even if it isn’t exactly true (at least for me, because even at age 7, I wasn’t about to miss a meal).

Still, the concept of playing outside all day long rings true. I always attributed it to living in a small town where everyone knew everyone else, but this particular friend grew up in the Bronx. Endless summertime outdoor play was a universal truth.

As I watch my grandkids and great grand-nieces and nephews with their technology, and their parents’ nonstop efforts to monitor the usage, I can’t help but compare their free time with mine. What exactly did we do with our time in the summer when we had seemingly endless freedom?

Well, I know we played with our neighborhood friends, many of whom went to St. Bonaventure Elementary School, as did the Gloor kids. We played tag; we played dress-up; we splashed in our little backyard plastic pools; we played with our dolls. Heck, I recall considerable time laying on our backs in the thick green grass of our back yard, chewing on a blade of that grass, looking at the blue sky, trying to make out animal shapes from the ever-changing clouds…..

Three neighborhood buddies swimming in a backyard pool. I’m the bathing beauty in the middle.

Jen’s granddaughter just got an American Girl doll. Kaiya and Mylee both had American Girl dolls. I can’t speak for Lilly, but I don’t think either Kaiya or Mylee spent much time with those dolls, or any other dolls. Kaiya would rather write or draw and Mylee would prefer Legos any day of the week. I don’t recall ever seeing Addie, Dagny or Maggie Faith with a doll either. In fact, the one doll we gave Addie when she was very small was one we purchased on our first cruise to the Caribbean Islands. It was a rag doll, and she took one look at it and literally tossed it over her shoulder in disgust. I’m pretty sure she rolled her two-year-old eyes.

I, however, loved playing with my dolls. I had several Tiny Tears dolls, because I would wear one out. She didn’t talk or walk, but if you gave her a bottle, she cried tears. Or at least was supposed to do so. I loved her, though admittedly, when I look at her now, she seems pretty scary. She can now be purchased on Etsy for a mere $245…..

I remember secret meetings behind our garage with my best neighborhood friend Kathy. She coached me as I wrote Kris+Mike forever with permanent marker on the garage wall. I was in first or second grade. Alas, while the  ink was permanent, Kris and Mike were not, not the least because he never even knew I liked him. Young love.

As I approached what they now call Tweens, my free time was spent shopping with my best school friend. I would walk 15 minutes downtown without a single complaint so that she and I could walk through the stores, thumbing through the hanging clothes, unfolding the shirts and pants, and probably driving the sales ladies insane. Because, of course, we never, ever bought a single thing and they had to fix our mess. At some point in our shopping, we would take the mandatory ride on the only downtown elevator located at Schweser’s Department Store. Our shopping always ended with a couple of fountain Cokes at Woolworth’s or Tooley’s Drug Store.

I don’t know if the Olden Days were any better because POLIO and SCORCHING HOT SLIPPERY SLIDES. Still, I don’t think I would exchange my childhood for my grandkids’ what with their play dates and iPads.

Olives: They’re Not Just For Martinis Anymore

When traveling in Italy, I am always struck by the beauty of the olive groves that you see just about everywhere you drive or ride a train. The sage-green color (I so desperately wanted to say olive green) against the almost-always blue sky is spectacular. And the delicious olives and flavorful olive oil are renown.

But it turns out I don’t have to travel to Italy to see a grove of beautiful olive trees. In fact, the Queen Creek Olive Mill is a mere 30 minutes or so south of our AZ house. The olive trees, contrasted by the dark green cypress trees, looked just like the views we saw from our window while living a month in Tuscany…..

In lieu of exchanging gifts this past Christmas, Jen and Bec and I decided to share some sort of adventure. We struggled to come up with something both interesting and fun, until Bec remembered Arizona’s own olive mill. She had visited it in the past, and thought we would enjoy it. She knows her sisters well…..

It’s true that I should not be allowed to take selfies.

We met for lunch…..

Yes, that is an olive oil stain in the middle of the menu.

…..and a tour of the olive mill itself. Our tour guide explained that though this is what was used in years past to squish the olives (that is NOT a technical term),…..

…..they now have fancy dancy modern pieces of equipment that do the picking and squishing in a much less time consuming and more efficient manner.

She told us about the difference between olive oil, virgin olive oil, and extra virgin olive oil. (It has to do with the pressing.) She also told us that there is no such thing as light olive oil, since olive oil is olive oil. So-called light olive is olive oil mixed with less delicious oils. I’m glad I always buy extra virgin olive oil. And, by the way, cold pressed means oil collected early in the process before the presses warm up.

Our timing was impeccable, because at this time each year, the mill offers its limited edition of olive oil…..

….which is very freshly milled and never makes it to the grocery shelf. The bottle is black, as you can see. Olive oil should always live in a dark bottle. (Note to self: use my clear bottles for something else.) The flavor is intense and delicious. I bought a bottle that I will share with my son Court.

And speaking of flavors, Queen Creek Olive Mill produces a plethora of all-natural flavors, from smoky bacon to spicy three-chili. Since their oils are vegan, I’m not sure how they get the bacon flavor, but it’s there. Our guide suggested using it as a finishing oil for roasted veggies. Yum.

Our lunch, by the way, was amazing, and worth the drive in and of itself. Plus, it allowed us to drive past The Pork Shop, another road trip for another day.

Saturday Smile: Appreciation

According to my National Holidays calendar, yesterday was National Caregivers Appreciation Day. Bill was kind enough to give the caregivers a shoutout at his boxing class yesterday, making him a Big Hero with all of the care partners there to support their loved ones. It’s nice to be appreciated for what we do.

Oh, and , by the way, it was also National Sticky Bun Day, but I didn’t see any sticky buns come my way…..

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy:The Lager Queen of Minnesota

I’m not particularly a fan of beer. Oh, if I’m at a Mexican restaurant and the wine list looks suspect, I might make do with a Corona. For the most part, however, I stick to wine, gin, or whiskey.

But even non-beer-lovers would be unable to ignore a title like The Lager Queen of Minnesota. The author — J. Ryan Stradal — wrote what was one of my favorite books of 2017, Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I liked it so much that I was delighted to learn that he wrote another, even if it was about beer.

The story revolves around two sisters. Helen loved beer from the moment she tasted it, and was determined to learn to brew beer, no matter who stood in her way. Her sister Edith, on the other hand, was a baker, renown for her delicious pies, and couldn’t hurt a fly. Helen convinces her father to leave her his entire inheritance, which she uses towards her goal of being a beer brewer. Helen’s actions drive the two sisters apart.

Helen meets and marries the son of a Minnesota brewing family whose beer business was tanking. Using the inheritance, Helen and her husband begin making Blotz Beer a household name once again.  However, Edith and her husband are barely able to make ends meet. But this led to that, and eventually Edith’s granddaughter Diane (who isn’t even aware of Helen’s existence) becomes a master brewer of craft beers.

There is a lot of descriptions about brewing (and tasting) craft beers. Despite my lack of interest in beer, I must admit that I found the art of beer brewing fascinating.

While beer is the star of the show, the story is really about family and forgiveness and entrepreneurship and strong women. I loved every single page of the novel, and was sad when it ended. I can’t wait for the author’s next story about life in the Midwest.

Here is a link to the book. 

Thursday Thoughts

Last Sunday afternoon, Bill and Jen and I drove up to Saguaro Lake to checkout the newly renovated beer and wine bar that floats on the lake. They recently upgraded and there is retail on the first floor and tables setup on top with a gorgeous view of the lake. There were numerous choices for beer, but only a couple choices for wine — sold in those little bottles that you get on an airplane. No matter, because the view was beautiful and the weather was glorious. It didn’t even matter that they didn’t have glasses for the wine and I had to drink it out of the bottle!…..

Dirty Harry
Bill and I watched Dirty Harry on Netflix last night. Bill remembers taking his toddler son Allen to see the movie when it was first released because the line to the Disney movie to which he was supposed to be taking him was too long. It’s a classic. You’re asking yourself, do I feel lucky? Well, do you Punk? I love the 70s clothes, hairstyles, and cars.

Treasure Hunt 
I know Jen is feeling tippy top because she showed up the other day with her grandkids and said, “Let’s go geocaching!” I had taken Lilly one time last year, so she had a vague idea of what was happening. Austin, however, was somewhat confused. He caught on quickly however, and before long, the two of them had found a great prize…..

Quick Trip 
Bill and I will be heading back to Denver for a quick trip in mid-March. He has to check in with his doctor, and it will give us the opportunity to see the kids and grandkids. We arrive March 12 and return to AZ March 17.


Land On My Feet

When I was in third grade, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write mysteries, my favorite type of novel then just as it is now. I wish I could say that writing was my passion from that day on and I never wanted to be anything else. The fact is, as I grew up, I forgot about my plans to write and wanted to be lots of other things. A pre-school teacher comes to mind, until I realized I really didn’t like 3-year-olds that much. But I eventually earned a degree in journalism and the rest is history.

As I sat in the chair at the podiatrist’s office yesterday afternoon watching him examine my feet, I wondered if he always wanted to be a podiatrist. When he was a toddler, did he make his mom and dad take off their shoes so that he could wiggle their toes around and check for pretend corns and calluses? Did he take his sister’s baby doll and do pretend bunion surgery on her feet?

I didn’t ask him that question, but I did ask about all of the White Sox paraphernalia he had on his wall. He said he grew up on the south side of Chicago, but admitted he wasn’t really a baseball fan. Still, one of his patients bought him a White Sox poster and he put it up to be nice. From that time on, people started bringing him White Sox baseball caps and White Sox coffee mugs and White Sox autographed tickets. “At least it’s not Cubs stuff,” he said with a smile.

My suspicion is that he became a podiatrist in a similar manner. This led to that which led to him looking at feet all day. I gave this more thought than necessary because I have a knee-jerk reaction to feet. I hate them. My mother once asked if I would trim her toenails, and I looked at her dear, sweet, elderly face and said, “That’s a big N-O, Ma’am.” I don’t even like my own feet.

I went to the podiatrist because unfortunately I inherited my mother’s terrible feet. I have had no corns to date, but I have my fair (actually, probably unfair) share of calluses, and that’s a true story. I also have bunions on both feet, despite the fact that I rarely wore high heels. I inherited my mother’s bunions just as I inherited her smile.

I have had bunions for a while, but without any pain. Well, that’s not exactly true. I feel no pain as in hurting-pain, but it’s a real pain in the butt to find shoes that will comfortably fit my crooked toes. But since my feet have begun hurting lately, it occurred to me that perhaps it was my bunions causing the pain. While I’m not particularly vain, it would be nice to have feet that look normal, and nicer still to have insurance pay for the surgery.

Alas, it is not to be. “Sorry, Ma’am,” he told me as he wriggled my toes around.” If this doesn’t hurt, then it’s not the bunions causing the pain. It’s probably arthritis.”

Ugh. My nemesis Arthur Ritus.

He gave me a prescription for a strong anti-inflammatory drug. I’ll put it next to my other strong anti-inflammatory drugs in my medicine cabinet. I enjoyed the foot massage and he used about the same tools that the nail techs use when I get my pedicures as he cleaned up my feet.

And remembered that they, too, look at feet all day, but get paid considerably less than the podiatrist.

Excuse me now, while I go out an purchase a White Sox t-shirt to send to the doctor. Or wait, maybe I should get a Cubs shirt instead!