John Beresford Tipton

At some point yesterday, I found myself thinking that familiar thought: If I were a millionaire, I would (fill in the blank). And then I stopped myself because it occurred to me that a million dollars isn’t really that much money these days. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t complain if someone handed me a check for a million dollars. But a house in our neighborhood recently sold for $962,000 — a stone’s throw from a cool mill. Ours isn’t worth that much, but arguably, between our CO house and our half of the AZ house, we’re probably millionaires.

You wouldn’t think a millionaire would wear shabby slippers. Or drive a 2003 Volkswagen Beetle. Or reuse gift bags. Or go behind a spouse and turn off lights. I do all of those things.

Baby Boomers, remember that television program called The Millionaire? It ran on CBS for about five years and then was syndicated for a few more years. It’s premise was that a very wealthy man gave away a million bucks each week, and then viewers watched to see how the money affected the recipients. I don’t remember a lot of details about the show because I was only 6 or 7 when it was cancelled. It didn’t purport to be reality TV because that notion hadn’t been thought up yet. It was fiction. And every week, I wished with all my heart that someone would ring our doorbell and hand Dad a check for a million bucks.

It didn’t happen, of course. Every day my dad would get up with the birds and open up the bakery and begin baking his tail off to provide for his family. Still, a girl could dream, and I did. I don’t remember what I thought I would buy if I had that kind of money to spend. Maybe a really true Barbie doll instead of the humiliating knockoff Babette doll Santa brought me one year. Or an Easy Bake Oven so that I could bake soggy cakes the size of a cookie.

According to Wikipedia, that same 1950s million dollars today that John Beresford Tipton gave away each week would be worth nearly $10 million. Take that times 52 weeks, and it seems like Mr. Tipton must have invested his money wisely. Probably Phillip Morris stocks.

A couple of years ago, Bill and I made a point of walking over to the grocery store and buying five Lotto tickets. I was so unfamiliar with the process that the customer service rep had to give me instructions. But the Lotto had gotten up above a billion dollars, and that ain’t chicken feed. It seemed worth my $5 expenditure.

We bought the Lotto tickets on Wednesday, and the drawing was that night. As we sat outside enjoying our cocktail, we had so much fun imaging what we would do with that money should we be the lucky winners. I remember we decided we would pay off all of our kids’ debts, up to and including mortgages and student loans. We also began planning the big trip that we were going to take EVERYONE on — our entire families. I think it included a cruise ship. (Hey, don’t turn up your nose. That was pre-COVID and you didn’t have to go if you didn’t want to!)

Nowadays when I think about what I would spend if I came into a lot of money, I admit that there isn’t a lot I would spend on myself. I’m not being a martyr; I just don’t have many needs. The kids’ debts would once again be paid off. A group vacation would be discussed, but, well, there’s COVID.

But there are two things on which I would spend my money: 1) a housekeeper who would come in once a week and clean my house; and 2) a chauffeur who would be available at my bidding to drive me around like Miss Daisy. When he wasn’t driving me to the grocery store or church, he could wash and polish my yellow bug.

Desert Island

Yesterday, I was desperately looking for an idea for today’s blog. One of this blogger’s greatest challenges with COVID has been finding things to write about when I’m really doing absolutely nothing. You may have already guessed that when you’ve found yourself nodding off, drool spilling into your coffee cup, in the morning while reading my blog.

“Oh, Nana’s cranky again,” you say to your spouse. “So what else is new?”

I was desperate enough that I was checking out a “blog prompt” web site. One of their suggestions was to write about what you would eat if you could only have one thing for breakfast the rest of your life,

Well, I was thinking that I would just kill myself. I read the question out loud to Bill. No problem for him, because he could just eat oatmeal every morning. And he pointed out to me that it would have been no problem for his dad. Why? Because literally EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS MARRIED LIFE, Wilma made him bacon and eggs with toast. No exception. I’m guessing he probably had the same thing as he grew up on a farm in North Carolina, except he probably ate homemade biscuits instead of toast. Bill said his grandmother made the best biscuits ever. (Maybe that’s what he would eat for breakfast every morning the rest of his life.)

Breakfast is not my favorite meal. I don’t wake up particularly hungry. I might have a hard or soft boiled egg with a piece of buttered toast. Maybe I will chop up some chives into some cottage cheese. If I have a sweet tooth, I will pour some Cinnamon Toast Crunch into a bowl, add milk, and eat the cereal quickly because all I really want is the cinnamony milk. And then around 10 o’clock, I could eat a four-course meal.

If I was FORCED to choose a breakfast item that I would have to eat every day for the rest of my life, it would be the frontier burrito from The Frontier Restaurant in Albuquerque. OR, maybe a blueberry waffle from The Original Pancake House. OR, an onion bagel and lox from The Bagel Deli in Denver. OR…..well, you see why I’m glad that I don’t actually have to make this decision.

The reality is that I hate that whole what would you take to a desert island to eat every day for the rest of your life thing. I love many kinds of food but I would get tired of eating just one thing every day. Many years ago, I made Ceviche for the first time, and served it to my guests, one of whom was my sister Jennifer. For some reason, we posed the above question about the desert island. Without skipping a beat, Jen said “Ceviche.” Given that she had only had Ceviche one time, and it was about an hour before the question was posed, I doubted her decision. Still, I was flattered because the Ceviche must have been good.

At any rate, I’m thankful for the fact that I don’t have to make such a difficult decision. Now, if you asked what I would take as an adult beverage for the rest of my life, it would be gin. I would hope that the island would have both limes and olives.

Guest Post: 19-31

By Rebecca Borman

I just watched Improbable, an MLB video about the 2019 Nationals’ unlikely (improbable) run through the playoffs and, ultimately, the Championship.  It struck me that baseball is a game with many life-lessons.  It gives me perspective when I watch a sport in which the main object is to hit a ball, and a player who does that successfully 3 times out of 10 is considered to be a star. Like baseball in general, the Nats’ 2019 playoff season has some lessons to teach.

Ask any diehard Nats fan what our record was on May 24, 2019, and he or she will respond without missing a beat—19-31.  That’s right, by the end of May, less than two months into a six-month season, we were done. You don’t dig out of a hole like that, right?  Many fans, myself included, were ready to dump our new manager, clean house, and suffer through a miserable season.  Our manager, though, stayed positive.  Every day as the team gathered in the clubhouse for another game, he’d tell them, “Let’s go 1-0 today.”  And, slowly but relentlessly, there got to be many more 1-0 than 0-1 days.  By the end of the summer, unbelievably, the Nats had a chance for the playoffs, and a wildcard win put us there.

The 2019 Nats were not a team of stars.  We had a few good, even great, players, but many more who could be up or down on any given day.  In the video, one of our ace pitchers was asked which of the team’s personnel were the key to our success.  He responded that it wasn’t one or two players, but a team effort.  He said that in every game someone different seemed to step up, to “pick up” other players who might be struggling, by getting a big hit or making a seemingly impossible defensive play.

And, speaking of pitchers, our pitching staff was the stuff of conversation the entire season.  We had two ace starting pitchers and two more very good starters.  But, ohhhh, the bullpen.  Relief pitching had cost us so many games.  How were we to get through the playoffs without good relievers?  Our manager had a plan…use the starting pitchers in relief.  Now, anyone who knows baseball understands that starting pitchers take great pride in the fact that they’re starters…they work hard to get to that spot.  Coming into a game from the bullpen?  Not so much.  But pitch in relief they did.  One of our two aces was asked how he felt about coming in as a reliever.  It was the first time—high school, college, the majors—that he had ever come in from the bullpen.  “It’s the playoffs,” he said.  “You do what you can for the team.”  All of our starters swallowed their egos and came in to pitch as needed.  And, it worked.

Another challenge:  the 2019 Nats had the highest average age of players in MLB.  Some of these guys were probably in their final years of playing.  Were they still up to the pressure of the playoffs?  On the other hand, we also had Juan Soto, 20-year-old phenom from the DR who laughed and joked and hit the heck out of the baseball. (And, by the way, studied English for hours every day so that he wouldn’t need a translator for his interviews.)  The mix of experience and youth seemed perfect.  Juan kept reminding us that the game was FUN, as did one of the “old guys,” Gerardo Parra, who picked “Baby Shark” as his walk-up song and had the whole ballpark doing the baby shark hand gesture.  The experienced players reveled in their chance to make it to the playoffs, and in some cases, played the best baseball of their long careers.  And provided crucial leadership in the clubhouse.

Finally, improbably, the Nats were in the World Series.  First step, two games against the Astros in their own park.  And we won them both!  Back to DC for the next three games, and many of us were thinking we would surely win the Series at home.  But, the Nats had three dreadful games in DC.  Overconfidence, pressure, bad luck?  Who knew?  It seemed unlikely that we could win two more games in Houston.  In all of professional sports, no 7-game series had been won entirely on the road.  But, the rest is history, of course.  Behind in both game 6 and game 7, the Nats pulled them out, and left the ballpark with a beautiful trophy.

What can I learn from all this, as I struggle to manage myself in the midst of COVID?  I really do feel like I’m 19-31 sometimes.  Lesson #1:  Go 1-0 each day.  Looking too far into the future probably isn’t helpful right now, so make the best of today.  Lesson #2: Pick each other up.  Sometimes I’m on my game, and when I am, I can maybe help someone who’s struggling, with a text, a phone call, a kind word or smile.  Next week, when I’m down, perhaps he/she can do that for me.  Lesson #3: Do what the team needs.  Wearing a mask sucks; I’m tired of cooking at home; I really would like to hug my friends and enjoy a meal with them.  But, it helps everyone when I wear a mask and keep my distance. And, maybe whine a little less.  Lesson #4:  Learn from both the young and the experienced.  Our grandkids whip their masks on without complaint as they leave the car for school, even though their lives have been turned upside down.  And some of my friends have used skills developed over the years to help others—one friend cranked out masks for months.  Others challenged themselves to learn more about technology, so they could Zoom to stay connected to family and friends.  Lesson #5:  Overcome setbacks.  Here we are, facing another surge.  It would be easy to get discouraged.  But, as the Nats overcame three terrible losses at home to emerge as World Series Champions, we can take a deep breath and figure a way out of this setback.  See Lessons #1-4.

Saturday Smile: Trick-or-Treat

Jen was shopping at Target with her granddaughter Lilly. Suddenly Lilly noticed a small headband shaped like a crab. “Grammie!” she said. “We need to get a Halloween costume for Winston.”

I’m not sure Jen had particularly planned on dressing Winston up for Halloween, and I’m pretty darn certain those weren’t in Winston’s plans either. Nevertheless, Winston is celebrating Halloween wearing a crab headband. He looks cute, if a bit sad…..

Have a great weekend, and a safe and fun Halloween.

Friday Book Whimsy: Bright Young Dead

Bright Young Dead, a novel by Jessica Fellowes, is the second book in the author’s Mitford series. This series features fictitious Louisa Cannon, who works as the nanny for the real-life Mitford family. The Mitfords are a well-known wealthy family of England. The six Mitford daughters, all reaching their formative years in the 1930s, were infamous for their somewhat scandalous behavior, and for epitomizing the early 20th Century.

In this particular novel, Nancy Mitford has a party with about a dozen of her friends, one of whom is pushed off the ledge of the nearby church’s bell tower. Immediately suspected is one of the party attendee’s maids, who accompanied her to the party as a chaperone, and who had an affair with the dead man.

Louisa, along with her friend Guy, a London police officer, set out to find the truth about Adrian Curtis’ murder. Along the way, we meet Alice Diamond and the Forty Thieves, a real-life gang of thieves in the 1930s. The gang was infamous for their thieving ways, but also for consisting of all women.

Given the lively story line, I expected the book to be much more engaging than I found it to be. I love to learn about history through novels, but this story moved very slowly. It was interesting enough to make me finish the book, but up until the final few chapters, it was oh so slow, despite the unique (and true) characters.

I read the first book in the series, The Mitford Murders, and enjoyed that book much more. I will give the next book in the series a try, and see if I just wasn’t in the right mood for this book.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

Time Flies
Today is October 29. Where in the world did the month of October go? Where, in fact, did this week go? I can’t believe it’s already Thursday. I have noticed a rather bizarre phenomenon during this entire COVID situation. Time goes both slowly and quickly. It really does seem like the days drag as you stare at your four walls. And yet, the weeks speed by. Why is it that time goes faster the older you get? Days go slow but the years go fast.

In the Nick of Time
Remember last Wednesday when Bill and I turned up exactly one week early for his echocardiogram? Well, yesterday was the correct day. We were doing fine on time until I remembered that I didn’t have my phone. I didn’t care so much about having the phone, but I did care about having a book to read while they did the procedure on Bill, and my Kindle is on my phone. I drove back to get the phone (thankfully we weren’t too far away). But as a result, we arrived just as the clock struck 10:30. Well, maybe 10:32. Just like the three bears; first we’re early, then we’re late. Next year we will get there right on time.

Hats Off
One of my favorite things about watching historical mysteries is seeing the pretty clothes and accessories. I decided yesterday afternoon as I watched an episode of Foyle’s War, that I’m sad men no longer wear hats. I love the way men looked in their hats in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. I remember that my dad had a very difficult time finding a hat that fit him correctly. His head was very narrow…..

I imagine that’s the reason I don’t remember him wearing hats very often.

And the Winner Is…
You might recall that last Saturday I posted this photo of my sister Beckie Borman’s granddogs Bentley and Bailey…..

….and asked for captions. My favorite came from my cousin Kak…..

B and B at BB’s B and B! Breakfast ready?

Imagine
By time I write my Thursday Thoughts next week, the election will be over. Bill and I sent in our ballots a couple of weeks ago. I have no predictions, and won’t share any thoughts with you except for one. No matter the outcome, I hope we can all remember to be thankful that we have the right to vote. Remember to love one another and come together as the great American family that we are.

Ciao!

The Weather Outside

Bill and I both grew up in the Midwest, so neither of us is a stranger to snowstorms. However, when it snowed in our Midwest communities, the snow stuck around. The snowplows would come and piles of snow would end up at the ends of our streets or along our sidewalks. There they would remain for most of the winter, because Midwest winters are cold. And dreary. Gray skies and brutally cold temperatures. Day after day the piles turned from gleaming white to dingy gray and full of gravel. About the time they were nearly gone, some more snow would fall on top of the dirty, crusty snow hill.

As Bill and I drove home yesterday afternoon after running a couple of errands, I commented that I was going to have to fill my car up with window washer. As the snow melted, the splash-up on the windows was serious.

“It’s Window Washer Season,” I said. “Snow one day, dirty car windows the next.”

It’s really a Great Colorado Truth. When we woke up yesterday morning, the temperature was a frigid 13 degrees. As the sun began peaking through the trees, it was easy to see that it was going to be a sunny day. That meant that even if the temperatures barely crept past the freezing point, the sun would melt most of the snow away on the city streets by the end of the day. Put away your snow plows, Mr. and Ms. Street Maintenance People. By 10 o’clock, the sidewalks would be dry. Especially if your daughter-in-law had surprised you by shoveling your sidewalks the day before, as Jll had done for us.

This is true even in the high country, where it can snow nearly every day. Still, the sun generally shines bright for at least some of the day, keeping the snow piles manageable and the skiers’ necks and faces sunburned. In fact, it isn’t until about March that the snow starts getting on everyone’s nerves. The resulting slush nearly drove my mother mad. Mud Season, she called it. That was why she and Dad headed off to visit my brother in AZ every March. An escape from the mud.

The streets yesterday were very drivable, and the stores were full. Apparently people had hunkered down in their homes for the past few days, not so much from the snow as from the bitter cold temperatures. But they were out in full force, all masked up and social distancing. The masks actually kept our faces nice and warm. Navigating Costco with one of their inordinately large shopping carts was tricky, however. I went to get coffee and ground beef, and wound up spending nearly $150. Funny how that happens.

In a day or so, it will be in the 60s, and the outlook for snow is minimal. That’s good news for any Halloween trick-or-treaters, but bad news for the wild fires and any winter wheat.

And the cold weather makes me think about pot roast and chili. Yum!

Scream

Mother Nature got her dates mixed up. We generally have cold and snow on Halloween. (I, by the way, haven’t bothered to check and see if that statement is simply anecdotal, but I sure remember putting many a down-filled jacket over my son’s plastic crackly Batman costume on lots of Halloween evenings before he went out to trick-or-treat.) Anyway, the snow came October 25 and 26 instead of All Hallow’s Eve this year. This isn’t to say that it won’t come again next week, of course. But it probably won’t be 8 degrees out, like it was yesterday morning.

Like much of 2020, Halloween will be different this year. I’m sure there will be some brave souls that will ring doorbells for little Snicker bars. But none of my Denver grandkids are trick-or-treating this year. Mostly, they’ve outgrown the activity. But even little Cole and Mylee are foregoing that it this year. Why? The Great Holiday Spoiler COVID. Instead, they will dress as usual, but play games and gather goodies at home.

Though I am generally not one to watch scary movies around Halloween, for some reason, this year I have watched many such films. Once again, I blame it on COVID. I need to imagine that there is something scarier out in the universe than this dreadful virus.

Like a ghost.

So, I have watched some pretty scary stuff. One of Netflix’s scary offerings is The Haunting of Bly Manor. The series is brought to you by the same people who gave us The Haunting of Hill House last year. I tried watching that last fall, but got too scared. This year I was fearless. Bly House didn’t scare me as much. I only jumped out of my seat once in all eight episodes. Mostly, I just spent time being confused. All of the flashback dreaming had me scratching my head. But I enjoyed it.

I also watched Netflix’s new version of Rebecca, based on one of my favorite books by Daphne du Maurier. I enjoyed the movie, though I wanted it to be a bit spookier. Netflix’s Mrs. Danvers was creepy enough, but the second Mrs. de Winter was way too confident for my taste. I think the author would agree. Alfred Hitchcock NAILED IT. There are no ghosts in Rebecca, but done right, Mrs. Danvers is sinister enough that she can give you the shivers.

There is a famous legend about a haunted house in Denver. The Henry Treat Rogers mansion in the Cheeseman Park area near downtown was supposedly rented in the 1960s by a writer named Russell Hunter, who couldn’t believe what a smokin’ deal he was getting on rent. Before long, he figured out why. It might have been the slamming doors and piano music that led him to believe the house was haunted. I can’t confirm the legend, but it’s true that Hunter wrote the screenplay for the movie named The Changeling, claiming it was based on his experience. It was filmed in 1980 and starred George C. Scott. The movie was scary, but 1980 scary rather than 2020 scary. In other words, very psychologically spooky. I’m frankly not sure George C. Scott is the best person to play the role of a person being haunted by a ghost. He is much too practical to be completely scary. And I kept looking for the Ghost of Christmas Past. But still, I liked the movie. The real-life house, unfortunately was torn down years ago. If it’s any comfort ghostly-wise, a construction worker was killed during the destruction.

On my list of prospects — especially if I can get Bill to watch with me — is The Shining. Unlike George C. Scott, as I recall, Jack Nicholson is plenty scary as the man who goes nuts being stuck in the haunted hotel in a blizzard. I might even stream the scariest movie from my childhood, namely The House on Haunted Hill, starring Vincent Price. I love the special effects, which are more comical than special in our jaded 2020 eyes.

What’s your favorite scary movie?

Forgive and Forget

I wonder how often people hate my guts?

Unfortunately, it’s probably a lot. I base that assumption on how often I complain about the driving of other people. Given that I’m a senior citizen who wouldn’t win any awards for her driving, people are undoubtedly complaining about me right and left.

Will you turn already? Are you waiting for a cop to give you permission? What, a few flakes of snow and you slow to a crawl? Pick a lane, willya? And make sure it isn’t mine!

You know, hating my guts.

I do the same thing, though I will brag that I really don’t ever hate anyone’s guts. But I do tend to not give anyone the benefit of the doubt when it comes to driving. And I don’t know what I think I am when I complain out loud about a Baby Boomer’s driving. You know, the one driving the Buick? Because Buick aside, that could be me.

My sisters and brother and I don’t really get mad at each other. It’s not that we think everything we do is perfect. In fact, we often joke that at any given time, one of us might be in a fight with another of us but we will never know. We don’t want to even think about hating each others’ guts. None of us likes comflict.

Somehow, without us even paying attention, I think our parents taught us the Golden Rule: Don’t do unto others that which you wouldn’t want done to you. In other words, you put your pants on one leg at a time, just like they do. Be humble and kind.

Honestly, there’s really no magic to being a good person. The Bible tells us that the Israelites had to memorize and follow over 600 rules of to be considered a good person. Jesus made that all very simple by narrowing down all of those rules to two: Love God with your whole heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Seriously, that’s all I need to remember about the time that I’m complaining about the person ahead of me in the line to buy ice cream who doesn’t begin considering what flavor she wants until she’s being addressed by the cashier. I do things like that all the time, even if I don’t realize I’m doing it. Love and forgive that person just like I love and forgive myself.

I think that’s really what my siblings and I do for one another. We love and forgive.

Saturday Smile: Say What?

The other day, my sister Bec’s son and daughter-in-law — who are are moving into and remodeling a home — were being inundated with workers. Josie, who works hard for her money from a home office was trying to attend Zoom meetings and do actual work, but their two dogs were not making it easy for anyone. Bark. Bark. Bark. Growl. Growl. Sniff. Sniff.

Finally, enough was enough for her son Erik. He called his mother and asked if she would be willing to keep their two dogs for the afternoon so some work could get done. She agreed.

Bently and Bailey Borman are Goldendoodle puppies. Despite still being puppies, they are about half the size of my yellow Bug. Though big, they have the bravery of a little pint-sized dog. Luckily, they are as cute as they can be.

At one point, Bec sent me this photo. The picture of these two dogs (who were litter mates still seem to be joined at the hip) made me laugh out loud. I laugh again every time I look at it….

Now People, don’t you agree that this photo is begging for a caption. Bring it on. I’m ready for everything.

Have a great weekend.