Christmas Whimsy

Despite my very best intentions, I have gotten caught up in the hurry, flurry, and scurry of the Christmas season. In fact, just yesterday I realized that I was one present short for two of my grandkids. That wouldn’t really matter except that kids count. Not count as in “matter” though they do, indeed, matter. Count as in “one-two-three-four.” Oh yes, they full-out know if one of their siblings gets one more present than they themselves bagged. It doesn’t make any difference if you actually spent more money on the child who got four presents instead of five. Nope. What matters is that there is the same number of presents sitting in front of each of the children after Whoever-Plays-Santa hands out the gifts.

No harm, no foul, because I quickly sat down and ordered presents from Amazon and they will be on my doorstep by December 19, guaranteed. Whatever did we do before Amazon? If they end up owning the world, I’m not sure that would be such a bad thing.

I spent the afternoon wrapping gifts and then sorting them by family. That was how I realized I was one gift short for two kids. And then I put back on the church-going clothes that I had discarded when we got home from Mass so that I was decently attired for Handel’s Messiah, the concert I was attending all by myself.

I was feeling a bit sad that I was going alone, despite the fact that I reminded myself (and really meant it) that I would rather go by myself than drag Bill who would fall asleep about 10 minutes into the performance. One should listen to the Messiah with someone else who loves it too. And as it turned out, I was perfectly fine. I find I’m great company! Besides, I started crying during the Hallelujah Chorus and I would have been embarrassed had someone been with me.

The week of Christmas is always a very busy time for me. I know, I know – it’s a very busy time for everyone. And I don’t even have a job that requires me to do all my Christmas things after 5 o’clock. But our Christmas celebrations are spread out which makes things a bit more difficult. We have our first celebration with Court and his family on December 23, as they always have family plans on Christmas Eve. Thus, Christmas Eve is devoted to the David McLain family (and the Heather-and-Lauren McLain family every other year, but sadly, not this year as they were here for Thanksgiving and so will be with the OTHER family for Christmas.  It’s fair play).

I have mentioned before that Bill and I spend Christmas Eve Day being the Grinch. Since we leave on Christmas Day, we take down all of our Christmas decorations that we so joyfully put up the weekend following Thanksgiving so that we don’t come back from AZ in May and face a sad-looking Christmas tree. I wish I had a big closet into which I could simply roll my still-decorated Christmas tree where it would sit for 12 months until next Christmas. That would be a benefit (and perhaps the only benefit) to living in a mansion. But the truth is that in May, when we return, there are tulips in our backyard and peonies ready to bloom. Much as I love Christmas decorations, I don’t want to face them when I’m ready to start gardening.

I want to conclude this rambling blog post about nothing by telling you a story. A week or so ago I wrote about the notion of living in the moment – mindfulness is what the article I was quoting called it. The article suggested that as a step in the right direction, you should begin to notice things you never realized about your spouse. I commented that I didn’t think there was a single thing I didn’t know about Bill after 25 years of marriage.

The other day we were having breakfast at a Mexican restaurant. Christmas music was playing in the background. The Christmas song All I Want for Christmas is You began playing. As Bill munched his huevos rancheros, he asked, “Isn’t this the Christmas song from Love, Actually?”…..

It was; in fact, it was from the soundtrack. He was quiet for a moment, and then he said, “I think this is my favorite Christmas song.”

Now, that was out of the blue. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that song – in fact, I like it as well – in a million years, with my feet held to the fire, I would not have guessed that to be Bill’s favorite Christmas song. In fact, I would have sworn that he didn’t even have a favorite Christmas song since he really doesn’t appear to pay attention to any holiday music.

So, I’m mindful that I have a very interesting husband – more interesting, in fact, than I give him credit for.

I’d better sit on the front steps and await my Amazon deliveries.

Thursday Thoughts

Religion from Roomba
In my blog post yesterday, I talked about the newest member of our family – Rosie Roomba. I neglected to show you a photo…..

Even as I was writing the post, Rosie was busy vacuuming our bedroom floor. When she finished, I went to check out the results…..

You have all heard of the people who see images of the Virgin Mary on their toast or in their mashed potatoes. Well, I think Rosie might be giving me spiritual messages. Can you see the cross clearly imaged into the carpeting? Hmmmm. Well, at least she’s not leaving me Satanic images.

I Spy
I probably go to my neighborhood King Soopers nearly every, sometimes a couple of times a day. While I always have good intentions, I rarely (and I mean RARELY) remember to bring my own bags, despite the fact that they are almost always in my trunk. That, my friends, simply means I’m too lazy to walk back to my car to get them. Anyway, yesterday I was making at the grocery store, and for a change, I had my own bag. It was sitting in my cart. I went through self-check, something I nearly always do. I had scanned the first item and laid it in the bagging area when the scanner (in her friendly female voice) asked me Do you have your own bag Dummy? Well, the truth is she didn’t say dummy, but she did ask me – FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER – if I had my own bag. I’m pretty sure King Soopers has joined ranks with Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Comcast and is spying on me. How else would she know that I had my bag with me? I wish I could use their spying tactics to make the world a better place.

Slimy Business
When Kaiya is anywhere around, there is likely at least TALK about making slime. And, much to her delight, her cousin Grace (who was one of the visiting dignitaries from AZ this past week) is a slime connoisseur. So, not surprisingly, this happened….

Aunt Bec was there to provide supervision. Cole and Faith are steadfastly sticking to Play Doh, thank you very much.

The Heat is On
I never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I’m about ready to have the temperatures cool down a bit. Today — when it was supposed to be a bit cooler — my car thermometer showed an outdoor temperature of 63 degrees. Day before yesterday, it hit 81. But just wait. The first cold and snowy day, you will hear Nana’s Whimsies complaining!

Ciao.

Saturday Smile: A Day in the Life of a Birthday Boy

It’s not every day that a guy turns 75. Bill did a bang-up job of it, I must say. Especially given the fact that we are still wandering from hotel to hotel.

Actually, we have settled into a very nice hotel a couple of miles from our house that is suiting us just fine. We may move home Sunday or Monday. And then I will have to start making my own bed.

So Bill started his day with many birthday greetings from siblings, in-laws, and friends, most via technology….

We made a quick stop at home to check out our floors, and Bill got an unexpected delivery from Amazon. His brother Bruce — who knows Bill well — sent him some happy birthday Oreos…..

And of coursr course when you ask the man who was born and grew up in Chicago what he wants for his birthday lunch, he will choose an Italian beef sandwich every time. Lunch at Chicago Mike’s in Centennial with a Italian beef combo…..

We got ready to call our Uber to take us to dinner with friends only to discover we were both wearing red. Living in a hotel doesn’t allow for a lot of clothing choices, so we went as twins…..

We finished enjoying a delicious steak dinner with wonderful friends John and Carol…..

So much revelry, but a whole year to rest up until his next birthday!

Have a wonderful weekend.

When Did This Happen?

Aging is funny. In fact, aging is so funny that I’ve probably written this self-same blog post before and can’t remember doing it. So maybe aging isn’t all that funny.

But what’s interesting about it is how it sneaks up on a guy. It’s not like your body feels the same at age 63 as it does at 25. There are well-documented (and in my case, well-articulated) aches and pains that most people don’t have when they are 25 years old. But aging happens so slowly that it isn’t until you take one of those calculated looks in a mirror (you know, the ones where you’re really looking at yourself instead of just quickly checking out to see if you have spinach in your teeth) that you think, Holy shit! When did this happen?

Or when you see a friend or an old co-worker who is your age and whom you haven’t seen in a long time, and you can’t help but notice that they look OLD. And then you have to remind yourself that you also look old. It’s easy to tell because they are looking at you funny too.

And frankly, you also act old. I’m tentative about doing things that I did without a second thought when I was 25. Like watering my garden, which involves dragging hoses over rocks. I’m so fearful that I will trip on said hose and fall on said rocks. I didn’t worry about this when I was younger because, in the unlikely situation in which I should fall, it was easy to pick myself up and brush myself off and start all over again (and see, when you’re old, you start using lyrics of old songs when you write!). But now every fall can result in one of a couple of things: 1) you break a bone; or 2) you can’t get up. You know, as in I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.

I remember being horrified when I noticed that the Muzak music they were playing in the grocery stores was songs from my high school years. Now I don’t even recognize the songs they’re playing as Muzak background in grocery stores because it’s later than my time, and I see 40-somethings looking disgruntled because they’re hearing songs from their high school days. That’s when I yearn to hear Dan Fogelberg’s Another Auld Lang Syne or Take it Easy by the Eagles, both tried and true Muzak songs.

By the way, you non-Baby-Boomers probably don’t even know what I mean by Muzak. Look it up.

I started thinking about aging yesterday morning when I went onto my iPad to check what’s happening on Facebook. You know how now half of Facebook notices on your timeline aren’t from your friends, but instead are from companies trying to sell you things? For me, it used to be Zulilly or Amazon or maybe even Nordstrom. However, this morning, my ad was for underpants that are pee-proof (their words, not mine). Usually the ads are tied to something I might have googled recently or something I purchased. If I, for example, buy something from Target online, for the next six months, I get Target ads on my Facebook feed. But this pee-proof underwear comes out of nowhere. I’m happy to say that I haven’t peed my pants since I was two years old or so. I’m sure I will soon, but as yet, I haven’t. So why do they feel the need to nudge me towards pee-proof underwear?

And while I’m at it, I must tell you it is quite annoying that Pinterest keeps suggesting pins for plus-sized clothing. While I might be working my way there, I’m not there yet. Stop Pinterest, in the name of all that is good and holy!

My 45th high school reunion is coming up, and so I’m bracing myself to come face-to-face with reality. The good news is that we have had reunions every five years, and I haven’t missed a single one. So there shouldn’t be too many shocks.

As for me, my hair stylist told me recently that my gray hair looks like highlights, and at least it isn’t yellowish. Of course, she told me this prior to payment, so she might have been performing for tips. But at least it isn’t yellowish. Sigh.

Thursday Thoughts

images

Lon Chaney, Jr. stars as the werewolf in 1941 Wolf Man. He doesn’t use a laser hair removal system.

She-Wolf
As I drove to meet Court for lunch yesterday, I was listening to Christmas music on Denver’s easy listening radio station. An advertisement came on, and it was one of those testimonial commercials, this one from a woman. This particular commercial was for a laser hair removal system for women. The gist of it was something along these lines: Our lives are so busy what with getting kids to and from school and practices and performances, keeping up with house work, and doing our paid jobs. Our busy lives result in so much stress. So use this hair removal system to lessen the stress in your lives. And then, friends, she went on to enthusiastically proclaim, “Ladies, using this product has literally freed up at least a half hour every day.” I nearly drove off the road. Seriously? She spends 30 minutes a day shaving her legs and plucking her eyebrows? Is she a werewolf? I bet I don’t spend 30 minutes a MONTH on hair removal. And that’s counting haircuts!

Would You Like a Cherry on Top?
And speaking of Court, he told me a funny story at lunch. Night before last, Alyx was working (she drives Uber). Court said the kids had all had their baths and were in their jammies. They were making a batch of a cranberry/pomegranate salad with marshmallows and homemade whipped cream that the kids – and Kaiya in particular – like. They were all sitting on the countertop (well, actually, Court probably wasn’t), when suddenly Cole fell off of the counter onto their kitchen floor. He was unhurt, though it scared the daylights out of him. But the funny part was that he had been holding onto the bowl of whipped cream, and the cream ended up all over him as he lay on the ground crying. I asked Court if he had a picture. He didn’t because he was too busy comforting a crying 2-year-old and cleaning up a big whipped cream mess.  Priorities, Son. If he had had the good sense to record such an activity, it could have been a winner on You Tube. Another bath was in order.

Book Avalanche
I have mentioned that I read exclusively using my Kindle app on my iPad. I also rarely buy a book. Instead, I borrow e-books from the library. Since I am a member of two libraries – Mesa Public Library and Denver Public Library – there is rarely a book I can’t find as long as I’m willing to wait. There is almost always a wait list, especially for newer books. But I don’t mind because I’m retired and am generally not in a hurry. For a few months, however, I have been eagerly awaiting for my turn on quite a few books. In the meantime, I have had the need to purchase a couple of books until such time that it would become my turn. Which, of course, it did……and at the same time. For the past few weeks, nearly every day I have gotten a message that such-and-such a book was ready to be downloaded. I seriously currently have five books that I have downloaded, and one that is available but I haven’t yet downloaded. Denver Public Library allows borrowers to keep an e-book three weeks, but Mesa Public Library only allows two weeks. So I have been madly reading. I have had to lose a couple of books, because even being retired, I can only read so much. I need my beauty sleep and I have to cook meals once in a while.

Must See TV
So, I am absolutely HOOKED on This is Us, the truly wonderful drama that is on NBC on Tuesdays nights. If you haven’t watched it yet, please treat yourself and do so. (Admittedly, you should start at the beginning because it follows a sequence.) There isn’t an episode at which I haven’t shed a tear. And not really from sadness, but only from the beautiful family dynamics that take place. I really love all of the characters, but am most drawn to the dad in the flashback scenes. Fellow viewers: isn’t he just the most wonderful dad you could ever imagine? What beautiful writing, such lovely stories, and such tremendous acting. Such a welcome relief from programs such as How to Get Away With Murder, which has not one redeeming quality, truly evil characters, and such darkness. And yet, I can’t seem to stop watching it because Viola Davis is such an amazing actor. I have promised myself, however, that after I watch these last few episodes, I will not record it from now on. I don’t need such darkness in my life.

Ciao.

 

Book Worms

Columbus1915

My nephew Erik’s family has a game they often play at dinnertime. One of the kids will start the game by asking something like, “Mom, what’s your favorite television show?” or “Dad, what’s your favorite place you have ever visited?” They then go around the table, each answering the particular question. Then the next person asks a question. And so forth.

It is, I presume, under this circumstance that my great nephew Carter, who is 8 years old, recently asked his mom a question that tickled her so much that she posted it on Facebook.  “Mom, what is your favorite smell?” She answered that she liked the fragrance of cinnamon and vanilla candles. “What’s yours?” she asked him. “I love the smell of a new book,” he answered. “I just love that smell.”

That is a child after my own heart. There is nothing like the smell and the feel of a new book. A hard back book with its perfect cover that creaks as you open the book wide. A paperback book that is smooth and unblemished with a perfectly uncreased binding.

Having said that, I will remind you all that I have confessed that I no longer read paper books, opting instead for ebooks every time. There are pluses and minuses about reading books off of my iPad. In the plus category is the fact that I never have to worry about running out of books. When I finish a book, I always have another book available. I can, in fact, carry with me many, many books. Also, I have a book at hand even in the case of an unexpected circumstance requiring me to wait since I have my kindle software on my phone as well as my iPad. If I want a book, I can get it immediately by going to Amazon and buying the book. And these days there are many books available electronically through the library, though it often requires a wait period. But that is also true of paper books.

But the minuses of reading electronically is that you miss out on exactly what Carter said he likes – the smell and feel of a new book. And please understand this fact: for book lovers, reading is a tactile experience. I love – well, loved – the look and feel of a new book.

The other day I was talking with someone about occupations. Being old and forgetful, I don’t even remember who I was talking to and why we were talking about jobs.

“What would you do for a living if you had it to do over again?” asked Whoever-It-Was-With-Whom-I-Was-Having-This-Conversation.

That’s easy. I would be a librarian.

I would suck at the part about doing research. Research makes me impatient and cranky. And, I know, I know, that’s probably the largest part of the job. But I would excel – EXCEL, I TELL YOU – at the part about talking about books and shelving books and checking out books. Touching books. Because I love books.

All of the above thoughts popped into my head recently because I had cause to actually enter a library building, something I probably haven’t done for over a year. That’s remarkable, because I am one of the world’s biggest users of the library. I have been since I was a little girl. I remember what it felt like to walk up the concrete stairs of our old library in Columbus. The steps were actually somewhat concave from the hundreds  and hundreds of people who had climbed them over the years. I remember what the old, heavy wooden door felt like as I pushed it open. And yes, Carter, I remember exactly how it smelled.

But I have little need to actually enter a library these days because I do it all over the internet. I reserve books. I check out books. I download books. I read books. I return the books. All on my computer or my iPad.

The 21st century is convenient and easy in many ways, but there are many things that I miss as I move into a more and more modern society.

The Battle of the Orange and Cream

Sometime in the past year or so, Bill and I discovered Stewart’s diet sodas. In particular, we were thrilled to taste their root beer and their orange and cream diet sodas.

For a while, they were sold at Fry’s grocery store, the Arizona version of Kroger. At some point, they stopped stocking them, or at least stopped stocking the diet versions. I was sad until I discovered I could buy them at a little fruit and vegetable market not far from our Arizona home. They don’t give them away – a buck forty-nine a bottle. The pop, however, is well worth the price as both the orange and cream and the root beer are splendidly delicious.

So I did what any normal person addicted to a particular product would do – I began hoarding them. Seriously, I would go to the Superstition Market each week or so and buy every single solitary bottle of the diet root beer and the diet orange and cream in the refrigerated case. I try not to think about how much money I spent on my habit. But I will tell you the honest truth – I was not the only one doing so. Every time I went, I would have to wrestle a bottle or two from some other desperate senior citizen’s hand. Well, not really, but figuratively, yes. The only good thing is that it seems like most senior citizens covet the cream soda, and as far as I’m concerned, they can have every one of them because, well, cream soda.

The reason that I began hoarding Stewart’s diet sodas like a meth addict is because I was unable to find any place in Denver that sells Stewart’s sodas. Now, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any such place, but I can’t determine a source. So my thought was that since we would be driving home from Arizona in May, I would load up our trunk with clanging bottles of soda pop.

Stewarts hoardAnyhow, that’s exactly what I did. They have been sitting on a shelf in our garage since we got home. Little by little, I have opened a coveted bottle as a special treat. The diet root beers are delicious, but without a doubt, I prefer the orange and cream sodas. Because, orange and cream. You can read further about my orange and cream addiction in this post.

Now, before I go on, I will remind you that I would do almost anything for any one of my grandchildren. I make treats that they like. I have a constant supply of their cookie-of-choice – Oreos. I have M& Ms and A&W root beer and pink lemonade always at the ready.

Alastair and shrimp

Alastair’s displaying the shrimp he cooked by himself on the grill, delightfully flavored with a spicy Cajun seasoning. See what I mean?

But the day I saw Alastair take a cold orange and cream soda from the refrigerator, I was stunned. I hadn’t told him not to drink it so he didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just that I know my grandson Alastair. He likes good things. He likes good food and good drink and good fun. I can’t wait until he is old enough to prepare full meals for me, because he will be a splendid cook. So the handwriting was on the wall. I knew he was going to love the orange and cream soda, and he indeed did.

Again, I must remind you that what I said above is true – I would do almost anything for my grandchildren. Except share my orange and cream soda.

So, I went to the grocery store and bought a 12-pack of Sunkist orange soda, thinking I was brilliant to have thought of such a logical solution. I put it in my refrigerator so it would be nice and cold for his next visit.

And his next visit was this past Saturday. He was there for a while when I saw him open the drawer in my refrigerator where I keep my beverages. He closed the drawer. Then I heard him go into the garage. He emerged carrying a bottle of the orange and cream soda, garage temperature notwithstanding.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I said, sounding only slightly hysterical. “Did you see that I got you some lovely Sunkist orange soda?”

“Yeah,” he answered. “But that isn’t nearly as good as this Stewart’s Orange and Cream soda. I’m going to chill this bottle so I can drink it.” And that’s what he did. He put it in the drawer. Every so often he would go check the temperature, like a soda pop sommelier. When it was exactly right, he opened the bottle, sniffed the beverage deeply, and took a long, cooling draw.

Sigh.

By the time Alastair stops by next, Bill will have successfully dug a root cellar which will be hidden by rocks in our back yard in which I will be secretly storing my Stewart’s diet orange and cream soda. In the meantime, can anyone tell me where I can buy it? It’s available from Amazon for fifty bucks for a 12-pack. Wait, what?

This post linked to the GRAND Social