Confessions of a Spoiled Boomer

20 10 2021

“These entitled brat young people today – they are all on the government dole because no one ever made them do chores when they were children.”

How many times do you read a sentiment similar to that one?  Well, as a COWL (cis old white lady) who is tired of being lumped in with the “Karens*” of today, I’ve read enough to set my Wednesday sights on the statement.

I am a boomer, born in the middle 1950s. Ask my sister and brother how many chores we had to do when we were growing up and they will back me up: NONE! Mom and Dad came from very large (14 and 8 siblings) families and lived with too little to eat, too few clothes to keep warm, and too many in the house to ever get much parental attention.

As a result of their unimaginably hard childhoods, my folks went to the opposite extreme with us. Their position was that we would have to work hard in our adulthood, so we should play hard while we were kids. I was spoiled rotten, doted on, and never made to do anything around the house to be helpful; yet here I am: a tax-paying fiscally sound adult whose house won’t be condemned by the health inspector.

I learned to keep house when I got my own. When I was a teenager, I had suspected that Mom was a lousy housekeeper because I remembered things always been a mess. Then I remembered that she was not a poor housekeeper; she was a terrific mother. How could she keep her house neat and tidy when she was always there for us when we needed a pitcher for our softball game or a fourth to play a card game (or a chauffeur to haul half the kids in the neighborhood somewhere and stand guard over all of us).

Mom didn’t teach me to keep house, but she taught me that there’s no place like home. I hope some of my more critical-of-others acquaintances will look back at their childhoods and ask themselves whether knowing how to make hospital corners with a sheet made them happier adults than knowing their mom loved them enough to put them ahead of the dust cloth.

* For the record, I know several Karens, like these two terrific ones, and they are most definitely not “Karens!” Remember, they didn’t choose their names, so don’t assign some unwarranted social stereotype to them.;)

Best Sister-in-law is named Karen!
Best volunteer pal is named Karen!




Hold My Hand(le)

13 10 2021

It’s obvious to anyone who’s been to a store lately, shopping in America ain’t what it used to be. What has happened to our customary dozen-teen choices of paper towels, our get-anything-in-24-hours, our easy-access-to-everything retail system?

Well, kids, part of it is the pandemic and another part of it is that we stopped supporting made-in-the-USA stuff somewhere about the time Lee Iacocca told us we would surely reap this rotten crop we’ve sown over the last forty years. We “saved” so much money by buying cheap (and I chose that word, not inexpensive, because, except for Japanese cars, it was!) stuff from Asia, we actually broke ourselves.

HEY, PAULA!  Get off the soapbox!  Just stop it!!!

Okay!

Let’s rejoice in the abundance of handmade local goodness available from our fine artisan neighbors and friends. In addition to being available, they are also beautiful and useful and come with some terrific bonus features.

For example, every morning, I have my coffee in one of my Christy Knox mugs. Sure, it keeps my coffee at perfect temperature and its beauty lifts my spirit; also, incredibly and spectacularly, I feel the hand of the maker.

We all know that human touch is powerful; there’s magic in holding a fine piece of art that really does touch my heart. Watch this lovely little video https://www.instagram.com/p/CU2hGDRgur3/ made by my friend Cristy, Natural Elements Pottery, and you’ll see the talented hands that make mugs* magic.

A Favorite among Favorites

* Christy also made my Jessie’s “last dress,” the urn that reverently and perfectly holds her ashes.





Tossing Bad Apples

6 10 2021

In addition to being a habitual blogger, I am also a regular blog reader and, sadly, I’ve seen a few too many of versions of “Life sucks, people are awful, and poor me” posts. It’s fogging my rose-colored glasses and I don’t appreciate it one bit!

What is it about some folks that makes them seek out the blemishes on the bounty? Instead of appreciating the baskets filled with sweet goodness, they focus on the few bad apples in every harvest.

I don’t deny that some things in our lives are a little bit (or a whole lot) rotten; I just don’t understand why we let them spoil our whole experience. Something rotten in your life’s apple cart? Just throw it away! Make sure you’re enjoying the delicious fruits of your efforts to be a decent human being:

The appreciation and acceptance of those who love you,

The respect and admiration of those who work with you,

And the understanding and celebration of your own magic.

A little October bonus recipe:

A surefire way to remind me of the sweetness of my life is to head to the kitchen and whip up something comforting. This time, since life (and a dear friend) gave me apples – and not a bad one in the bunch – I added some sugar and cinnamon and low and slow heat, some food mill muscle, and a final simmering to make some delicious homemade apple butter. The aroma alone is sweet reminder of how good life really is.

Paula’s Homemade Apple Butter

5 lb         apples, mixture of varieties available in October

2 c          water

1 c          cider vinegar

Quarter apples – do not core or peel. Cook with water and vinegar in large pot, medium low, until apples are mushy. Run mixture through food mill to puree and remove seeds and peels.

Measure (estimate) volume of puree in a large wide pot and add:

½ c         sugar for each cup of puree – I used brown sugar for the first cup and granulated for the balance

1T           cinnamon

¾ t          allspice

¾ t          cloves

¼ t          salt

Cook, stirring frequently, over medium low heat until mixture is thick enough to not run when a spoonful is placed on a chilled (freezer) plate.

Off heat, stir in vanilla.





It Ain’t Much but it’s Home

29 09 2021

As of this afternoon’s count, I have seventeen frog residents in my backyard pond. They are all simple little green frogs, hatched from eggs laid right here and survived through tadpole-hood right here. Now, they range in size from about an inch and a half to four inches (mature size) and every one of them makes me happy.

There is a thick mat of algae in the pond that has reduced the waterfall to a whisper. Not great for my listening enjoyment, but it’s perfect amphibian ambience. The underwater jungle is home to fish in various sizes and colorations, mostly muddy browns, but a few goldies, too.

The pond would be prettier if the algae were removed, but it would be a whole lot less inviting for the tenants and visitors. Don’t even get me started on the overcrowded and un-deadheaded flower beds . . .

One of the reasons my yard is so full of life is that it is not clean: it is comfortable!

My inner control-freak does not particularly like the messiness, but my heart loves watching the many little creatures that find it suits them perfectly. I listen to my heart. I am delighted that my backyard supports them, along with the squirrels, chipmunks, and birds.

I hope you find comfort in your home and find joy in sharing your comforts with others who might not have their own.

P.S. This philosophy applies indoors, too. Here are my two new rescue guinea pigs, who’ve trashed my painting studio with their wild partying. I gave them a comfortable home and they comfort my heart.

Drucilla
Esmerelda

P.P.S. Don’t worry, Piggy Stardust and Guinea Pearl are still the queens of the castle!

Star and Pearl in their fresh hay mountain.




I’m not Falling for That!

22 09 2021

Question of the day:

“Fall is my favorite season! How about you?”

Fall, you are beautiful, there is no denying it. You glow with a special golden light. You dress in magnificent and rare fashion that is made more precious for its fleeting availability. You are intoxicating. You are wicked.

Oh, Fall, you are like the bad boy who steals the hearts of the young heroine of cheap romance novels (and some girl’s teen diaries).

You are too good to be true.

Fall, you are effortless in your ability to stir emotions. You are bursting with a gorgeous melancholy. Perhaps, you just can’t help it, but I think you’re proud of yourself. After all, what other explanation could there be for your ostentatious wardrobe, your flickering warmth mixed with sharp chilliness, your brazen disregard for the cold and gray you will usher in.

So, no, Fall, you are not my favorite season. You break my heart with your beauty and you banish my beloved flowers to sleep for months. I think you are far more Maleficent than magnificent. I also think I love you.





Old News

15 09 2021

Big news on the morning shows today.

Documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal allege that Facebook is aware of teen mental health issues related to Instagram.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t need some leaked internal documents to know that media that features make-believe beauties who live charmed perfect lives can make a girl start to question her own worth.  Instagram and its ilk might be relatively new media, but this is not a new story.

As a former (LONG time ago) teen girl, I can tell you that there were loads of ways my self-esteem was trampled and it was accomplished handily before there were even cell phones! Take a look at the magazines for young women from the sixties and seventies and see all the beautiful perfect faces and bodies that graced the covers. Francesco Scavullo, who photographed gazillion covers for Cosmopolitan back then, even made Martha Mitchell look beautiful. (Google Watergate and you’ll learn about her hubby.)

None of it was real then.

None of it is real now.

except the self-doubt and sadness it could cause in a teen girl who could not help but fall short of the perfectly lit, professionally made up, designer dressed, and expertly photographed fairy tale we saw and still see in the media.

All of us who have lived enough years to equal three or four teenagerhoods should take care to treat these fledglings with the tenderness that we should have afforded ourselves when we were finding our way.

It’s not the medium; it’s the message!





A Friend in Need

8 09 2021

“Being needed – it’s just the best feeling in the world.”

No, it is not!

It is a good feeling to be able to help someone. It is a good feeling to know others have confidence in you. It is not, however, the best feeling.

The best feeling, if we are talking about self-worth, I believe, is to be loved, appreciated, and wanted when I am NOT needed.

Please don’t misunderstand, it is always preferable to be the one who can provide aid and not the one who requires it. I am glad that I can stand up for myself, keep up the house and the yard, get myself wherever I feel like going. I can do a lot for myself – and for others – and that is a wonderful thing.

Know what is also wonderful? Having someone say, “I got this one. Relax and take a break.”

No, I don’t need anyone to hold open a door, mow my lawn, or buy me dinner; but, damn, it is lovely when someone does it – not because I need them to, but just because they want to do it.

My dear too-people-pleasing friends, do not to fall for the mistaken logic that equates being needed with being valued. It’s not the same. Don’t sell yourself short. People need things, stuff, tasks completed. Friends don’t need us; they love us.

My friend, my sister, who helped me celebrate my 65th birthday, 2019, will be 65 on Friday. It’s good to be able to help her celebrate hers!




Miss Quote

1 09 2021

I’m not asking you to kiss me, nor apologize to me when I think you’re wrong. I won’t even ask you to hug me when I need it most. I don’t ask you to tell me how beautiful I am, even if it’s a lie, nor write me anything beautiful. I won’t even ask you to call me to tell me how your day went, nor tell me you miss me. I won’t ask you to thank me for everything I do for you, nor to care about me when my soul is down, and of course, I won’t ask you to support me in my decisions. I won’t even ask you to listen to me when I have a thousand stories to tell you. I won’t ask you to do anything, not even be by my side forever. Because if I have to ask you, I don’t want it anymore.

                                                                        (NOT) Frida Kahlo

Oh, Facebook, I know many posters have shared this and believe, as they continue to spread the misinformation, that Frida wrote this to her husband Diego Rivera. As with many things Facebook, however, the attribution is incorrect.

I believe Frida was surely not such a naïve moony schoolgirl who would believe this nonsense. Nope. I think she would be more of the kind of woman who would clearly articulate her needs. There is no reason, after all, to expect someone to fulfill your desires unless you let them know what it is you want.

Think about it. When you are ill and go to see your doctor, you don’t say, “Doc, I don’t feel good. Guess where I hurt!” You give them as much information about your situation as you can to allow them to help you. Why wouldn’t you give your partner the same opportunity to help when it’s an emotional hurt, an insecure moment, or even just the need for them to take the trash out, even though it might usually be your chore.

I’m not saying to expect to get everything you want. I am sure, though, you stand a better chance of having your needs properly met if you ask. You can quote me on that!

Just because you deserve to see something pretty for reading my post. Thank you.




The Nerve!

25 08 2021

There are two distinct types of bravery in my family.

I’m one of those who, like my mother, would stand my ground against whatever comes at me.  Whatever would step into my path and threaten those people I love will have to contend with my fearsome and mighty mother-dragon power. Show yourself and I will show no fear.

Please, though, don’t ask me to look under the bed! I am not brave when it comes to the unknown. That requires a different kind of bravery – adventurousness.

My niece Katy has left her home in Pennsylvania, a job, family, and her cat, for a city in Wales, a place she’s never visited, but has enrolled in a post-graduate program at Swansea University, rented an apartment before she even bought her plane ticket ,and flew to the United Kingdom two days ago. She’s now across the Atlantic on her own solo adventure.

I admire Katy’s bravery. She’s one whose curiosity has always compelled  her to peek under rocks, into caves, and around bends in the path. I know her life will be a rich and fully exercised experience. I know I missed out on many things because of my fear of the unknown, so I wished my dear niece a fabulous trip and did not try to dissuade her from going. That was very brave of me – I miss her already!

May our curiosity give us just a little more courage so we can all enjoy new experiences and avail ourselves of more of the wonders life offers us if we just look around the corner.

You start and tell me if the coast is clear, okay?





Support the Muggers

18 08 2021

And the ringers and the dressers and the drawers and all the other creative wonders we call artisans and artists.

I’m in that age group – you know, the Boomers who, by the way, are way more than “Okay” – where some of us (NOT ME!) are talking about downsizing or, at the very least, not accumulating more things. That might be good for them, but it is pretty crappy for some of my favorite people:

Artists.

We still have the appetite for art and fine craft even though we have no more room in our house for another piece and we have bought so many handmade coffee mugs, handbound journals, and many other gifts that have filled our friends’ and families’ homes, too.  Sure, we can go LOOK at fine art and craft works, but it doesn’t feel quite fair to us and it borders on tragic for the people who earn their living by creating and selling these beautiful things.

They have brilliant new ideas. They have seductive new work. They have bills to pay.

We have a little cash. We have a lot of appreciation. We have no room!

How can we resolve this dilemma?

Micro-patronage.

Several creatives I know and love have begun to offer online tools to financially support their work. When I first saw one of these monetization apps on a page, I thought, “Isn’t this sad; it’s kind of like panhandling.” Then, I thought again, because we can actually do that, and it seemed a little more like busking. THEN, I really pondered it and realized that it’s the modern-day version of the way the arts were supported in the times of the great masters – patronage – but better. (Yes, I know that Patreon pitches itself in just that way, but I was sure it was just their slick marketing, so I was a few minutes late to adopt.)

This modern take on patronage allows those of us who can’t afford to house an artist and build them a studio to still be patrons. I heartily enjoy being able to drop small cash affirmations of my appreciation for artists and performers from time to time. It’s like sending someone a thank you card they can eat.

I encourage you to click those links to Patreon, Kofi, or whatever other gizmo your favorite artists, artisans, performers, or content providers put on their stuff and give them a little spendable love! When I think about it, it’s really pretty much the same as my membership in my local public radio station – supporting the arts, news, entertainment, and joy that people put in front of my eyes and into my ears.

It’s quite a bargain, I think!

Chocolate Mimosa PKL Garden 2021