I took a sizable — and much-needed — break from Nana’s Whimsies, but I’m back in the saddle again. I’m raring to meet 2023 head-on.

Bill and I no longer even stay awake long enough on New Year’s Eve to see the ball drop in New York City. We might have still been awake when the clocks struck midnight in London, but it wasn’t televised, so I don’t think that counts. We were nestled all snug in our beds by 9 o’clock, Bill sawing logs and me reading the first book I will complete in 2023. I wasn’t even able to watch any more of the New Year’s Eve celebration in Nashville. I shut off the TV while Dierks Bentley was singing. Sorry Dierks.

Mesa, AZ, is big on New Year’s fireworks. Perhaps all of the Phoenix metro area is hell-bent on blasting away, but I can only speak for Mesa. Behind our AZ house there is a desert area in which no one can build. Every year, people gather back there and shoot off fireworks. This year, it seemed to begin earlier and be more relentless than usual. More noisy, as well. In fact, some of the boomers were so boomy that Bill was convinced they were pistol shots. I told him to stop buying into the Next Door mentality that all loud noises came from guns, especially on New Year’s Eve. I managed to convince him that no one was going to fire into our bedroom window, and he fell asleep. I finally turned off my Kindle around 10, and fell asleep to the sound of firecrackers.

At some point, I awoke to the sound of silence. It was somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 o’clock. I knew the revelers were only taking a break, but I enjoyed the temporary sounds of silence. As the clocks struck midnight, the fireworks began once again. I laid awake listening to the booms and thinking about the upcoming year.

“What will 2023 bring?” I wondered to myself. Having experienced the last few years, I am no longer confident that there won’t be major surprises ahead. Certainly, on January 1, 2020, not many Americans expected that in a couple of months, they would be confined to their abodes, desperately wishing they had stopped at Costco for toilet paper the week before. I can’t wait until 2020 is over, everyone foolishly thought. But as you might recall, 2021 wasn’t a great improvement over 2020. The Battle of the Vaxers v. the Anti-Vaxers began, and morphed into battles between everyone v. everyone-else-who-didn’t-share-their-point-of-view.

On a more personal level, I can assure you that on January 1, 2022, I had no clue that by the end of the year, we would have sold our home of 30 years and moved to a senior community. The idea on that date wasn’t even a teeny-tiny spot on our radar. Circumstances led to our making the necessary move, and we haven’t looked back.

So what surprises does 2023 have in store for us? I eschewed the notion of New Year’s resolutions long ago, having broken more resolutions than grains of sand on Waikiki Beach. Our homilist yesterday suggested we concentrate on three things — heart, help, and health.

When you think about it, that about covers it all.

Happy New Year’s. I hope you are all blessed in 2023.

Holiday Break

Nana’s Whimsies is taking a break until after Christmas. I’ve got presents to wrap People!

I wish all my readers a very merry Christmas.

Saturday Smile: Holidays!

What makes me smile today isn’t what happened last week. Instead, it’s what’s going to happen in the days ahead. This evening, our Vermont family arrives. For the next few days we will be celebrating Christmas with loved ones. On Christmas Day, we will fly to Phoenix, where we will continue our celebrating.

Have a great week.

Thursday Thoughts

Birthday Celebrations
I turned 69 yesterday. One’s 69th birthday isn’t a landmark event. It isn’t like turning 21 or 40 or 65. It’s just another year older. Having said that, I had a wonderful birthday celebration, including lunch with dear friends, cards and calls from friends and grandkids, and dinner with my husband. My mother went to heaven when she was 68, and so I will admit that it was somewhat a relief to pass on from 68 to 69. It was also a startling reminder of how young my mother was when she passed away. I felt her presence yesterday.

When I worked hard for my money, one part of my job was liaising with members of the state legislature and Congress, and their aides. As part of that role, I traveled to Washington, D.C. a couple of times a year to meet with Colorado’s senators and representatives and their aides. I was almost always accompanied by my boss and another CHFA employee. We worked hard, but always had fun. We are all retired now, and try to get together on some sort of regular basis. Because of COVID and other issues, it had been a couple of years since we had gotten together. I was delighted that we were able to have lunch yesterday. What a birthday treat. We are all of a similar age (they are a few years older, but whatevah), so we all have similar aging challenges. I laughed out loud when the server took our order. One of my friends, Mark, ordered a sandwich. “Would you like ciabatta bread or foccacia bread?” the youthful server asked. “Which one is softer?” Mark responded. Even a good sandwich isn’t good if you can’t chew it with your 73-year-old teeth!

Bill and I celebrated my birthday at one of our favorite restaurants, called Farro. It offers very delicious Italian food, and good service. As we drove over to the restaurant, I decided instead of having my traditional martini, I would have the server recommend something more Christmasy. I didn’t have a particular drink in mind, but envisioned perhaps a Cosmo or some sort of adult beverage with cranberry juice and a holly sprig. Our server seemed puzzled at my request, but said she would ask the bartender to create something with the holiday spirit. What she ended up bringing me was a chocolate martini. Hmmm. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, and certainly not my first choice to have as a before-dinner drink. It tasted good enough, but not good enough to ever have again. I’ll stick to my gin martini, up, with a bleu cheese olive, thank you very much. Christmasy enough for me….

Holiday Crazy
We are very much looking forward to the arrival of our Vermont family this weekend. We hope to see a lot of them, though they will be busy. We, too, have a lot of things happening. Saturday, the Wind Crest Chorale is performing a holiday concert. Bill and I will drive to Fort Collins on Sunday morning, and Jen is treating me to a performance of The Messiah as a birthday present. A couple of un-holidayish doctor appointments and a fun lunch with friends will bring us all the way to Christmas Eve, which we will spend with our kids. Whew.


Seven Deadly Sins

I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.

Theodore Roosevelt

As I was perusing all of the offerings on my many streaming services, I came across the movie Seven, starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. The first time I saw that movie, I was on a business trip, alone in a hotel room. I’m pretty sure that’s the only time I ever rented a movie in a hotel room. Heaven only knows why I chose to rent a horror movie, something I don’t generally watch. The movie is about a psycho serial killer who kills people who are grotesque examples of the seven deadly sins. I try not to think about the minds of people who come up with these dreadful ideas. Needless to say, I was terrified throughout the entire movie, but not terrified enough to stop watching because BRAD PITT IN 1995.

Seeing that movie title again, of course, made me think about the seven deadly sins of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. I probably perform one or more of these deadly sins every day. I’m not bragging. I wish instead that I was saying I probably do something every day that makes someone’s life better.

Some of the sins are harder to resist than others, at least for me. I think of all the times I get up from a meal and am uncomfortably full. “That’s a sin,” I’ll think to myself. Yep. The sin of gluttony. Or, my house is in desperate need of cleaning, but I’d rather watch a Christmas movie. Another sin. Sloth is not just a cartoon character.

Every day, when I sign onto my WordPress program, it asks me a question. It’s one of the new features, and it’s one that I kind of like. I think it’s designed to give me ideas of what to write. The other day, the question was who do you envy. I really gave it a lot of thought. I am no saint, but I don’t think I’m guilty of a lot of envy. I don’t envy people with more money or larger houses. While I often say (and believe) that aging is humbling, I don’t look at Milennials or Gen X-ers and wish I was young again. I am pretty comfortable with my age. I have been blessed with lots of travel opportunities, so while I’m happy for people who travel, I don’t feel sorry for myself that I don’t. I like being at home.

Before I get injured patting myself on the back, maybe I need to remind myself how lucky I have been in my life. Perhaps if I had to choose between paying my heating bill or buying ground beef for my Hamburger Helper, I would be more envious of people who live in big houses and drive fancy cars. Maybe when I’m really old and sitting in a wheelchair, I won’t be so glib about aging.

In the meantime, I am going to stop looking at the seven deadly sins and concentrate on the seven virtues that contrast the seven sins: chastity, temperence, charity, diligence, kindness, patience, and humility.

Climb Every Mountain

It’s not news that technology and I are not best friends. I’ve mentioned that I have a hand-shaking sort of acquaintance with technology. It’s sort of like the relationship I have with my gastroenterologist. I can’t live without him, but I don’t like to try and figure out what he’s doing to me down there.

I can’t live without technology. None of us can. I appreciate the way the folks at Wind Crest handle technology with their residents. They don’t treat us like we are all a bunch of nincompoops who don’t know how to turn on anything but our televisions. But they also provide alternatives for everything, from making reservations to paying our monthly bills.

I know absolutely nothing about how technology works. I don’t know the name of things. If I were to call Apple with a problem, I would have to say things like my thingamajig is doing whatchamacallit. I need to look the information specialists in the eye and have them talk to me like a 3-year-old. That’s what we did when we were trying to get Bill back on his cell phone a few months ago. We made numerous trips to the Apple Store and made them talk to me like I was a toddler. They couldn’t have been nicer.

I mention all of this, because a few weeks ago, I signed onto the site that hosts my blog — WordPress. I have had a blog now since August 2013. I paid a former coworker — and computer guru — to set up my website. He designed it. He launched it. He made himself and me the administrators. And then, as anticipated, he walked away. Not too much later, I learned he had cancer. I haven’t heard from him and I have a bad feeling. God bless him.

Anyhoo, he did a dandy job of teaching me how to use WordPress. For me, there was nothing instinctual about it. I memorized the steps, just like I do with all technology. That’s why when I find out that Apple has an update coming, while most people are rejoicing because something troublesome is going to be fixed, I go into panic mode that I’m no longer going to be able to figure out how to FaceTime.

About three weeks ago, I turned on my computer, logged into WordPress, and looked at an entirely unfamiliar screen. All of the tools with which I was so familiar were gone. G-O-N-E. Gone. I clicked everything I could click, to no avail. I could write the blog. I could post the blog. But all of the tools that easily allowed me to include photos or schedule a posting, or use bold or italics were missing.

I have no doubt that I got plenty of warning from WordPress that times, they were a’changin’. I might have even read the email. It didn’t however, register. I have spent the past three weeks trying to figure out where all my tools have gone. In the meantime, with the help of Google (without whom I wouldn’t survive), I have managed to post a blog most days, and some even have italics or bold print.

I have one final obstacle. I need to find out how to word count. There used to be a button on top that I would click and it would tell me how many words I have used. That button is nowhere to be found. I’m not giving up, however.

Ugly, or What?

I’ve been retired now for nearly15 years. Fifteen very good years. When I still worked hard for my money, I loved the Christmas season. The Monday after Thanksgiving was the first day of my Christmas sweater-wearing season.

I had collected Christmas sweaters over the years, and I had a whole lot of sweaters. I had enough sweaters, in fact, that I could make it all the way to Christmas without repeating a sweater. Every year I would buy a new sweater, thinking that I would discard one of my older sweaters. That, of course, never happened.

I had pretty sweaters. I had tacky sweaters. I had sweater vests. I had sweaters with Santa, and sweaters with snowmen, and sweaters with Rudolph (with a red bon-bon for the nose). I wore them all proudly. I even had dressy sweaters that I would wear to meetings in which I needed to be a bit more professional.

I wasn’t until I retired that I realized how many sweaters I had. And it wasn’t until my grandkids started coming over around mid-December to borrow sweaters for their church group’s ugly Christmas sweater contests that I realized that my sweaters weren’t all that lovely. The fact that they won many of the contests confirmed this very fact.

Though I stopped wearing those sweaters years ago, my grandkids continued to show up every year to borrow them for their youth group contests. I put my foot down, however, when we moved in September. I wasn’t about to hold on to 20 or so sweaters that I now admit were worthy of winning ugly Christmas sweater contests. I haven’t heard a word about the need for one of my sweaters yet. Perhaps they have all gotten old enough that they no longer want to participate. Or maybe they just figure they have won so many contests that they need to let someone else’s grandmother’s sweaters be ugly contest winners.

Now I don’t have a Christmas sweater to my name. I have a couple of holiday t-shirts, but I rarely pull them out of the closet. But at Mass on Saturday afternoon, there was a woman wearing a Christmas vest that was every bit as tacky as the ones I had worn, and I thought it was adorable.

Maybe I need to buy some more Christmas sweaters. Or maybe I am just getting old.

Saturday Smile: Two Points

This week, the thing that made me smile was watching my granddaughter play basketball for the Cherry Creek High School freshman team. I love basketball and I love Kaiya, so it was a win-win for sure….

Number 4 is waiting for her number to be called.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: Mr. Dickens and His Carol

One Christmas movie I’m always committed to seeing is A Christmas Carol, starring George C. Scott. The ghosts are just scary enough, and I love the change in Mr. Scrooge after he decides to change his life. This novel is the story of how the story came to be written, at least from the perspective of author Samantha Silva.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the much-loved story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his three ghosts. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, defines much that we know about Christmas. But apparently Charles Dickens’ life wasn’t a bed of roses when he reluctantly wrote A Christmas Carol.

Samantha Silva’s debut novel, Mr. Dickens and His Carol, provides readers with a glimpse — in novel form — of what the famous author’s life was like around the time that he wrote the famous story of Scrooge and his ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

Though he and his family had been living a very comfortable life, his most recent novel had been a flat-out bust. Money was tight, and the family members who had long lived by Dickens’ handouts, and the charities he had supported, are coming out of the woodwork asking for more funds. His wife is unaware of their dire straits, and is moving forward with their annual Christmas soiree despite its immense cost. Dickens is getting more and more frantic about his finances and his family responsibilities.

His publishers come to the rescue by suggesting, well, ordering really, him to write a Christmas story for the masses, something Dickens is loathe to do. He thinks Christmas stories are silly, and his lack of holiday spirit prevent him from writing the story that his publishers are seek Oh, if he only had a muse.

And then a muse appears in the form of an actress named Eleanor Lovejoy, who encourages Dickens to write a story with London as its background, and the Christmas spirit as its driving force. After much angst and many tries, the story Dickens writes changes Christmas forever.

Silva takes great liberties with Dickens’ story, and she admits as much in her Afterword. Her writing style reminds me of the style of Dickens himself. That, I’m sure was no accident. Dickens’ whining and moaning goes on a bit longer than necessary, but the ending, which has a surprise twist, makes up for the redundancy.

Mr. Dickens and His Carol was a wonderful Christmas story, making me want to reread A Christmas Carol.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

Cherry Creek High School is the largest secondary school in Colorado, and it is also the local school for my granddaughter Kaiya. I was very proud of her when she decided to try out for the basketball team. I was even prouder when she made the freshman team. Yesterday afternoon, Bill and I attended their first game, in which they played — and decidedly lost to — Columbine freshmen. Nevertheless, it was fun to see the young women playing their hearts out. Kaiya got to play some of the third quarter. She is small, but mighty. She really gives it her all against girls that are substantially taller than her. As for me, I always forget how much I enjoy watching basketball, even freshmen first-games-of-the-season basketball. I also forget how much I appreciate the teachers who spend their valuable free time coaching any kind of sports. The poor man coached the ladies throughout the entire game, admittedly sometimes with his head in his hands.

Silver Bells
It was dark when Bill and I made out way back home. It was fun to see all of the Christmas lights all around town. Some of the business centers seemed to have gone all-out this year with their amazing lights. It was the first time we drove into Wind Crest in the dark. It was absolutely beautiful. So many people have creatively decorated their balconies and patios. And the outside of all of the apartment buildings are lit up gloriously by the wonderful staff of Wind Crest. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Part Two
One of my favorite Christmas movies of all times is The Christmas Story. I had mixed feelings when I learned that there was going to be a part two to that movie. Actor Peter Billingsley — who played Ralphie in the original movie — plays a grown-up Ralphie who comes back home because his father has recently passed away. He is determined to make Christmas as special for his kids as his father made it for his family. I held my breath, because it could have gone either way, I’m happy to say that I enjoyed The Christmas Story Christmas very much. It lacks some of the nostalgic feeling of the original, but Ralphie is just as charming as he ever was. It was fun to see all of the original actors all grown up. I’m going to watch it again sometime before Christmas.

Bit By Bit
I’m getting a bit of Christmas shopping accomplished, thanks to Amazon. I’m taking it easy because Bill and I have had a lot of changes in our lives recently, and I don’t want to go too crazy. Or at least not crazier than I already am. What did we do before Amazon?