Thursday Thoughts

Perhaps I’m Missing the Point
As you are aware, there have been protests all around the country regarding gun control. Here in Phoenix, like many other metropolitan areas, young and old alike have been out carrying signs and banners in support or opposition of guns. There was a photo on one of the newspaper’s web site that showed some adults protesting in downtown Phoenix. One man held a sign that read More Love Less Guns. As I indicated in my recent post about feeling the need to be the world’s editor, I sighed and said out loud, “More love FEWER guns.” Can’t they get it right? But it’s possible I’m missing the point. Still, the fewer/less mistake – one of the most common – is one that gets on my VERY LAST NERVE. People, listen up: If you can count it, choose fewer.

I Just Cross My Legs
I stopped at the dollar store the other day to get my grandkids’ Easter cards. (Yes, grandkids, if you’re reading this blog, you know your cards are on their way.) As I was waiting in line, I overheard a man tell the cashier that he’d had a hard time finding the men’s room. “We don’t have a men’s room,” the cashier said. The man was surprised. “Yes you do,” he said. “I just used it.” The cashier was surprised, and told the man she had never been to the back room of the store. “Really?” he said. “How long have you worked here?” She responded, “Since January.” All I could think was that she must have the bladder of a hippopotamus if she has never had to use the bathroom on any shift since January. Plus, she must not be big on the whole idea of stocking shelves. I wonder where she keeps her purse….

What Time is It?
For the past three or four years, we have hosted Easter at our house. I have generally had something resembling an open house. I cook up my kielbasa (see yesterday’s post), and Bec brings a delicious coffee cake. Later, I put out a ham and some rolls and we snack on ham sandwiches. Because my food offerings start in the morning, we need to go to the early morning Mass. The church we attend here in Mesa has a 7 o’clock, 9 o’clock, and 11 o’clock Mass. So year before last, we trotted into church at 6:40 for what we expected to be the 7 o’clock Mass, only to find it half over. I realized that the Mass time was different than usual, probably to accommodate a sunrise service. So last year, I told Bill that the Mass started at 6:30. We sauntered in around 6:10, and once again, found the Mass already in progress. This year I decided to do something radical and read the bulletin to find out the actual Mass time, not the Mass time according to Kris. Voila! Mass begins at 6 a.m. This year we might actually make it to the sunrise Mass service from the beginning. What a concept!

Long Distance Disaster Aversion
I, like many others, subscribe to Next Door, a web site that keeps us abreast of what’s happening in our respective neighborhoods. I haven’t figured out how to be on two Next Door sites – one for Denver and one for here. So, given the choice, I have elected to keep abreast of neighborhood happenings at our Denver abode. Ninety percent of the time, the postings consist of for sale items, found or lost cats, people looking for nannies, and folks whining about something being built that will destroy – DESTROY, I tell you – our neighborhood. But 10 percent of the time, I get some useful information. Like Tuesday afternoon, when I read that there was a water main break in our neighborhood, and a photo accompanied the post. I clicked on the photo, and to my chagrin, saw water pouring into the street right in front of our house. Yoiks. I was hoping to heck that the same water wasn’t running into our basement. I telephoned our Denver next door neighbor and asked her about the water main break. “What water main break?” she asked. “The one that is right in front of our respective houses,” I responded. She went out the door, cell phone in hand, and said, “Oh my goodness, you’re right. There is water running down our street.” Thankfully, we are near the top of the hill, and my daughter-in-law later confirmed that our house was nice and dry. I was even able to answer the door when the City Water Department fellow rang the bell, using our very cool Ring doorbell system. I managed a crisis from 900 miles away. How come I can’t figure out how to automatically post my blog on Facebook?

Cool Drinking
I recently spoke about tasting my first limoncello at a restaurant on the Piazza Navona in Rome, and how it was love at first taste. I also said that I was embarking on a process to make my own. My homemade limoncello is ready to drink, and so Bill and I did just that last night after dinner…..



Thursday Thoughts

Beep, Beep
I’ve talked before about the interesting variety of birds we enjoy here in our AZ home. There are the ever-present mockingbirds, one of which has once again built a nest in the tree in our front yard. Bill knows this because the other day when he was cleaning up the yard, Mommy Mockingbird was scolding him like crazy. We have hummingbirds (because the neighbors feed them) and quail. We see the occasional hawk flying high above us in the sky. We have seen turkey vultures who once in a while hang out if Bill is working in the back yard. They are waiting for an accident to happen. This year we have a new addition to our bird family – a roadrunner. He/she is seen frequently running – as road runner are wont to do – across the our back yard cement block fence as it makes its way across all of our neighbors fences. The roadrunner  is very cute and it makes us laugh every time we see him (or her) run past. We, of course, think about the famous cartoon Road Runner and his nemesis Wile E. Coyote. We await the coyote’s arrival and watch the skies for a dropping anvil. See the resemblance?…..

Barbie Has to Use the Bathroom Too
I often stop and shop at the Dollar Tree store where everything is – ONE DOLLAR. I love the dollar store, but I have learned some lessons by shopping there. Some things are good to buy and some things are good to pass up. Greeting cards, for example, are great to buy at the dollar store because who really reads greeting cards anyway. If I’m taking food to a potluck and want to have a relatively pretty bowl, I will buy a clear plastic bowl at the dollar store because it’s fairly pretty and I don’t have to worry about cleaning it up or somehow getting it home. Toss it away – it was only a dollar. However, gift wrap – no; cleaning products – not so much; canned goods – I’d be too scared. Anyhoo, I recently was buying something at Dollar Tree and came across the teeny-tiniest package of toilet tissue I have ever seen. I don’t know if you can tell how small the rolls are in this photo where they are sitting next to my regularly-sized tissue rolls…..

The size made me laugh, but what really made me laugh is the notice on the front of the bag: 60% MORE SHEETS PER ROLL! My heavens, the rolls must seriously have only had about 25 sheets to them.

Surprise Visit
Jen was scheduled to fly home on Monday after spending the week out here visiting. We said our good-byes Sunday evening because she spent the night with Maggie and Mark and her grands. Her plane was to take off around 10 in the morning, so I was surprised to see my phone ring indicating a call from her around that time. Her flight had been canceled due to high winds in Denver. Jen’s son BJ lives in Fort Collins, and he said the winds were so high it could blow away a small dog! So she spent one more night than she expected. Her grands got a surprise when she was with Maggie to pick them up from school. Lilly was happy, but sternly told Jen, “Grammie, my grandpa is coming tomorrow, so you have to go home.” Mark’s dad arrived Tuesday from Chicago for a visit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Our grandkids keep us honest.

Something For Everyone
Bill’s membership in the Screen Actors’ Guild allows us to see most of the movies that are ultimately nominated for Academy Awards. So we were able to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Lady Bird, I Tonya, and many others. The Shape of Water, which won the Oscar for best picture, is also available for us to watch, but no thanks. I am not interested in a love relationship between a mute woman and an amphibian/human creature. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.



The United States of America may have celebrated its 240th birthday on Monday, but I’m the one who is tired!

We basically celebrated for two days. And of course, when I talk about my family celebrating, I’m mostly talking food, not drink. We started off Sunday morning with Duffy rolls…..

Duffy Rolls

For those poor souls who don’t live in the Denver area, Duffy rolls are those indescribable cinnamon rolls made by the aptly-named Duffyroll Cafe, and are a Denver classic. They are not your typical cinnamon roll made from sweet bread-like dough. Duffy rolls are magically created from some sort of flaky pastry that I have never been able to get my mind around. But I certainly get my mouth around them. More than once, I’m afraid.

My niece Maggie and her family are visiting from Arizona, taking the opportunity to get away from the heat that has hovered around (and sometimes over) 110 degrees. They spent Saturday night with Bill and me (along with my sister Jen), because we were all having a big Sunday meal at Court’s and Alyx’s house. And when you’re preparing for a party, one needs party accoutrements. So what better place to prepare for the party than at Dollar Tree, known in our family as the dollar store. How much is everything? One dollah. Maggie’s 2-year-old daughter Lilly caught on quickly and spent her money well…..

Lilly dollar store (2)

Court’s menu consisted of green chili, extra-hot! But the lychee martinis created by Alyx cooled everything down. The kids, however, were already cool because they spent time poolside….

Mylee Austin pool

Although Mylee and Austin, both 5, have spent little time together in their lives, they were immediate BFFs, something I anticipated due to a mutual interest in Legos and Minecraft. And when you have Minecraft Legos, well, it doesn’t get any better than that.

There was cake for dessert, and Papa/Uncle Bill enjoyed the treat along with the kids….

zierks jensens eating cake

At the end of that afternoon, we all went outside and the kids went through several boxes of Pop-its firecrackers. But they first posed for a cousin photo…..

zierk jensen cousins

Monday, Bill and I drove to Fort Collins where we spent our Fourth of July at Jen’s house. She grilled burgers and made yummy potato salad. Maggie made a pasta salad that was supposed to feed four but looked like it would satisfy a small African village in a pinch. The family did their fair share on it, however.

After dinner, we all went to City Park in Fort Collins and watched a magnificent fireworks show. My observation is that kids either love fireworks or want nothing to do with them. Austin and Lilly fall into the “love” category. Lilly, in particular, was wholly impressed with the entire fireworks show, which was, indeed, impressive. If only the strange drunk man hadn’t fallen down at my feet just before the show began, but it is America after all, the land of the free and the home of the brave – and on the Fourth of July, the drunk.

Now it’s back to the real world of healthy food and exercise. But dang, I’m sure grateful to live in the U.S.A.

Thursday Thoughts

One Dollah
About a year ago or so, the Family Dollar store near us became a Dollar Tree. I think this change transpired because Dollar Tree bought out Family Dollar. Doesn’t matter. I have talked before on this blog about how much I love Dollar Tree stores for certain things. If I’m taking food to a potluck, for example. You can get a large clear plastic bowl which looks fancy if you have macular degeneration and cataracts. But you don’t need to worry about getting that bowl back. Throw it away because how much did it cost? One dollah. Anyway, we went to our friendly neighborhood pizza place the other night which is right next door to Dollar Tree. I was amused to see that The Dollar Tree had a great big sign on the store that said GRAND OPENING. I found it funny and peculiar for two reasons. First, why, a full year later, did they decide to have the grand opening? Second, just what can a Dollar Tree offer as part of their grand opening celebration. Everything is 99 cents?

Pull Up a Trough
As I mentioned, we went to our neighborhood pizza joint and there was nobody working who was older than 20. All kids. This is particularly funny because the clientele is all people 80 or over. Seriously, Bill and I look like the youngins’.The seniors look at us like they are suspicious we just came from a rave. But the pizza is good, I promise. Anyway, the young man took our order. A large pizza (because Bill had a coupon for a free large pizza) and two drinks. At the last minute, I told him, “We will also have the Italian salad.” “Great,” he cheerfully said. “Would you like silverware with that?”

I sometimes consider doing movie reviews on my blog, perhaps in place of my Friday book review. Then I remember that we almost never go to the movies, which inhibits the ability to write reviews. But we recently DID go to the movies. We saw Risen, starring Joseph Fiennes, who I would guess might hold the record for the number of movies in which he’s starred in which he hasn’t cracked a smile. My, that man is somber. I believe the last time he smiled in a movie was in Shakespeare in Love, but that might have been gas. (Maybe this is why I don’t do movie reviews.) Anyway, the movie tells the story of a Roman tribune to whom Pontius Pilate assigns the task of finding the body of Jesus Christ following the resurrection in order to forestall a rebellion.  To try to locate Christ’s body, Clavius must connect with Jesus’ followers, who make him think, hmmmm, perhaps there is something to this story. While traveling a bit with the disciples, Clavius finally meets Jesus in person (and he had seen Jesus die on the cross with his own two eyes), sees him heal a leper, and witnesses Jesus’ ascension into heaven.  I loved the portrayal of Jesus’ followers (though Bartholomew came across as somewhat demented but Peter made up for him). I also liked actor Cliff Curtis’ portrayal of Jesus (Yeshua), a more realistic portrayal 1004841806-oh-col-rise1than the hotty actor who played Jesus in A.D. The Bible Continues. When the disciples – along with Clavius – are in the boat unsuccessfully fishing and the stranger on the shore tells them to cast the net again and they realize it is Jesus, I started to cry. The disciples were so filled with joy and love and it was well-portrayed. I recommend the movie as a good Easter outing.

I Know it Will Fit; I Saw it in a Cartoon Once
Kris nonny cart
So, you know how you get stuck in the grocery line behind those people who are rooting around for their checkbook, or who insist that the Bounty paper towels are on sale and want a price check or are paying in cash down to the penny, but the penny is at the bottom of the purse? Well, yesterday afternoon, Bill and I were THOSE PEOPLE. Bill had seen in the grocery ad that the beer he likes was on sale for some great price at Basha’s. As I mentioned before, we have a Basha’s Grocery Store a block from our house, and I nearly always walk. In fact, the only time I drive is if I am buying something that would be too heavy to carry. I have a two-wheeled grocery cart that I take over with me. I call it my Nonnie Cart because it is similar to the carts that the old ladies all over Italy use to do their daily marketing. I was going over to get the ingredients to make soup, and asked Bill if he wanted to go. Yes, he said. He was positive the beer would fit into the Nonnie Cart. Unfortunately, after all of the groceries were rung up, we began loading – or at least trying to load – the groceries into the cart. It made the most sense to put the beer in first, but we couldn’t get it to fit. And it was a 30-pack, so it was heavy. It had to go on the bottom. Bill worked and worked at trying to get it to fit. The clerk, for her pessimistic part, was insisting that there was no way it would fit. Bill kept trying. (He is nothing if not tenacious.) People are starting to speak to each other under their breaths. I think I overheard someone say where he would like to see that case of beer be placed. After much ado, Bill got it to fit. It wasn’t nice of the clerk to say, “Have a good day, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”

The Tooth of the Matter
Bill had dental work done again this week – on Tuesday. He is getting the caps replaced on his front teeth. The dentist removed the old caps, took impressions, and put in temporary caps until he can get the permanent caps put on. So, remember he is unable to chew on one whole side of his mouth for four months from his previous oral surgery. Now he is unable to bite anything with his front teeth. In other words, he has about a half an inch of teeth that he can actually use. We will be eating a lot of soup and smoothies.



I’m a big fan of lists. Not necessarily keeping my own lists, though I do make grocery lists and lists of things I must get done on the rare occasions when this retired Baby Boomer actually is busy. But I love reading top 10 (or 20, or 30) whatevers, or lists of really anything.

Recently I came across a list of things that one should purchase at the dollar store. (What do they cost? One dollah!)

I am a big fan of Dollar Tree as you may know if you’re a Nana’s Whimsies reader. I have learned over the period of time since I discovered dollar stores that they make their money because some of the things they offer aren’t worth even a dollar, while other things might be good purchases. It evens out, apparently.

Here is the list of things that should be purchased at dollar stores, according to, well, some list maker somewhere:

Greeting cards

Party supplies

Gift bags

Seasonal décor

Reading glasses

Hair accessories

Pregnancy tests

Vases and bowls

Mugs and glassware


I heartily concur with this list. In fact, I believe I have bought every one of these items in some form or other from Dollar Tree. Well, except for the pregnancy test. That ship has sailed, thank you God.

I often think if my name wasn’t Kris McLain, I wish it was Kris Hallmark, as in Hallmark cards. This isn’t a dis on Hallmark. Their cards are lovely. In fact, in the old days before I got crabby and cheap, I would look at the Hallmark cards and when I found the one that caused me to tear up, that was my purchase. For $4.95.

Now that I’m crabby and cheap (I like to think of it as being happiness-challenged and practical), I have consistently noticed that my grandkids (well really EVERYONE to whom I give a present) looks at the card to see who the gift giver is, and then quickly tosses the card aside with the wrapping paper (which, by the way, I have concluded isn’t a good thing to buy at Dollar Tree). They might read the verse just to be kind, but the card is quickly forgotten.

Frankly, I do the same thing. Bill will get me the loveliest card for our anniversary. I read it, tear up (he has a way of finding the perfect verse), display the card on my dresser, and never look at it again until I throw it away a week or so later.

That, my friends, is not money well spent in my humble opinion. So I have taken to purchasing my cards at Dollar Tree. For one dollar, I can express my birthday greetings and not give one small whit when they toss it aside.

So, I purchased all of my Valentine’s Day cards for my grandchildren at Dollar Tree. I actually spent a bit of time finding the right card for the right grandchild. Then I took my nine cards to the checkout and forked over my $4.50 TOTAL. They were two for a dollar! A bargain, even for Dollar Tree.


It’s embarrassing how happy this makes me.