Impatiens and Parkas

15 08 2018

Okay, I know I am weird, but I believe with all my heart there’s no place like home . . . so much so, I really don’t have one little bit of wanderlust. I could stay right where I am and be blissfully happy and fulfilled,

BUT

I have family members who don’t see the world the same way,

SO

This time, next week, I – and over a dozen of my lovely (and a little crazy) family members – will be boarding a ship to cruise Alaska.

Did I mention I get homesick at the thought of being away for more than one night? Do you know that I wait all year to get warm in August, yet I find myself headed for a week of glaciers? Have I ever told you I have a fear of flying? Well, I do!
So, why am I going on this “adventure” in the first place?

That’s simple.

This trip is to celebrate a milestone birthday for one of my favorite women in the world and this is what she wants to do. Funny how I know her happiness will override all my trepidation, but I am absolutely certain of it!

The real reason there’s no place like home is that’s where love lives, so if this time, love wants to cruise to the Land of Frozen Toenails, I’m in!

Anchors Aweigh!

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You’re Always in Season – Bloom!

8 08 2018

For years, I suffered from “low self-esteem” – I use the quotes because I now realize that what I really was suffering from was laziness and fear, which is quite a dangerous duo, if left unaddressed. I don’t think I ever would have put the phenomenon together quite as clearly had it not been for a discussion I was having with a friend a few weeks ago. She was describing her sister’s toxic relationship with a man.

The guy is an “artist” – there’s no sign that he makes, writes, builds, sings, or otherwise creates anything but dirty laundry and credit card debt. The sister sees him as a tortured soul, of course, saying things like, “he is really quite talented; he just does not have any confidence in himself, “ or “he won’t try to get gallery representation/record a video/enter a poetry contest/etc. because he doesn’t believe he’s any good.”

Either this dude really thinks quite poorly of himself or he is conning the life savings out of this woman, but the answer to the problem is the same: DO SOME WORK!

When I was in my teens, I dropped out of college, because I was afraid (after one semester with 3 Bs and a C) that I was not smart enough for college. In my early twenties, I quit my job and drifted, working sporadically, mostly tending bar. I languished, living off my too-generous parents, until my sister, who was returning to school for her Masters in math, sweetly suggested that I go back to college.

“Phyllis, I am twenty-eight years old. What can anyone my age expect to get from going to college?”

“Oh, I don’t know . . . how about self-respect?”

I was enrolled within three weeks! She was right, too. Once I started actually DOING something, rather than fretting about what I had not done, things began to sort themselves out. I still have my moments of fear, self-doubt, and – oh, yes – laziness, but those feelings are rarities, not everyday companions.

I’ve told you what brought this story to mind. Now, let me tell you why I chose to share it today. My mother-in-law, Maxine, who left us too soon, finished law school in her forties. She knew that to feel good about herself meant following a difficult, but worthwhile path, not sitting around and waiting for her children to bring her grandbabies, so she did the work. Today is her birthday.

Happy Birthday, Maxine. Thanks.





The Blogger’s New Clothes

1 08 2018

A much-needed loss of about twenty pounds and a fast-approaching family vacation has forced me to reckon with just how far I’ve let my wardrobe slip.

Last week, I found myself staring at a cruise date just a few weeks away and a closet that offered nothing but worn-out, stained, and three-sizes-too-big rags that might, at one time, have been clothes. I truly had NOTHING TO WEAR!

I had not been shopping for anything other than groceries and plants and art supplies for – well, let’s just say it was before Obama’s first term. I panicked. I knew I HAD to go shopping, but I just couldn’t. That’s when someone we’ll call my fairy godmother (more like wicked fashion witch) stepped in and pulled me out of despair . . . okay, she hollered at me.

“I’ve made a list of stores for us to visit and we’re going to do it tomorrow,” she announced. This was not an invitation; it was an order. I did as commanded and the next day, we made the rounds. She acted as dressing room assistant, style critic, and parent while I tried on, protested, and grudgingly paid for piece after piece of clothing. By the time we were finished, I didn’t know what I’d bought, but I knew I was exhausted.

Next day, I warily unloaded the packages to see just what I’d brought home. To my shock, there were lovely ensembles that fit me and actually looked like “me.” I still don’t like shopping or traveling, but I admit my empty suitcase and travel itinerary have become inviting instead of menacing. I may never be emperor, but I HAVE NEW CLOTHES!





A Swinging Song

25 07 2018

It’s been raining for quite some time, here in central PA, and, while it’s causing more than a little trouble for many people whose basements are now indoor swimming pools, it has reminded me of the many hours I spent with my sweet daughter, sitting on the front porch, swinging, and singing silly songs – like this one.

 

 

 

Jessie loved the swing. She loved music. She loved our porch and our yard.  She loved her momma (almost as much as I loved her.)

I miss those summer afternoons, swinging together.

Sometimes, rain camouflages tears, but not today.

Today, I am smiling a crooked little smile and remembering.

 

 





Opportunity Cost and the Old Woman

18 07 2018

As anyone who’s had to endure Econ 101 might recall:
Opportunity cost is the value/expense of making one decision over another.

The older I get, the more fully I understand this as a great measure of how I should spend my resources – especially my time. The principle of opportunity cost reminds me that for everything I choose to do, there is something else I can’t do. That makes decision-making a whole lot more straightforward in areas I used to think were hard choices.

If you’re not big on economics – I personally detested my professor, so that might have colored my impression of the discipline – you might prefer my friend’s easier-to-digest explanation of the same idea:
If you fill up your calendar with oughta-dos, you won’t have any time for the wanna-dos!

Well, I’m darned sure there are a whole lot of things that fall into that second category and I don’t want to miss out, so I’m exercising more care when faced with something I don’t wanna do. I ask myself whether the item is something I truly have to do – dentist appointment, mow lawn, back up computer files – or is it just something I feel like I should do, usually out of guilt or temporary boredom. I’m getting much better about just getting on with the first category and just saying no to the second.
Even with my new-found scheduling scale, though, it seems that time-consuming, pressure-generating, brain-hurting, or otherwise un-fun stuff continually finds its way onto my To Do list.

Why?

Although, while some tasks related to a bigger goal might have me dreaming of doing something else, I know there are many and valuable rewards that come from taking those steps, which puts even the mundane ones firmly in the “wanna-do” category. Service to others, deep and lasting friendships, and a close and loving family are all priorities that require some personal capital; however, the return is always greater than the investment. That’s an opportunity I can’t refuse.

Just because I wanna share something beautiful.





No Competition

11 07 2018

I like to cook. I love to eat. I can’t resist a challenge . That’s why, it is with much consternation that I must resist the urge to throw my oven mitt into the ring to compete with a few of my fine artisan buddies who have decided to have a little “friendly” competition to see who makes the best chocolate chip cookies.

Oh, I make delicious cookies, award-winners, for sure, BUT these are not MY chocolate chip cookies – they are my mom’s.  I just do exactly what she taught me to do when I was very little. Sure, I’ve experimented with other recipes, different ratios of brown-to-white sugar, butters of different consistency, resting dough or bake immediately . . . it always comes down to the simple fact that no other recipe tastes, to me, like a chocolate chip cookie. Has to be Mom’s!

For the sake of showing my friends what might have been, had we opened this competition to non-artists, I baked a batch and shared with one of the would-be combatants.  I think she was relieved to know that Millie would not be throwing down!

These cookies taste of sugar and vanilla and butter and chocolate and a childhood that would be the envy of any kid. Thanks, Mom, for another lesson in how to enjoy life and how to show people you love them. One way is with cookies.

Mad Mildred’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

1c + 2T  flour

½ c          granulated sugar

¼ c          light brown sugar

½ t          salt

½ t          baking soda

1 stick    salted butter,  melted (not softened, but really melted!)

1t            vanilla

1              egg, beaten with fork (not frothy, but totally mixed white and yolk)

Nestles Toll House Morsels – eyeball this – about ½ cup

 

Mix dry ingredients together. Stir in melted butter until all is moistened. Stir in vanilla and egg to combine thoroughly. Add chocolate chips. 

Drop dough, about 2 teaspoons at a time, onto ungreased cookie sheets, at least 2” apart. Bake in preheated 375° oven for six minutes. Let sit on sheet about 30 seconds, then remove to cooling rack. 

This recipe makes between one and six servings, (about 2 dozen cookies) depending on who’s home when you bake them.

 

 





Interdependence Day

4 07 2018

I pledge allegiance to:

Decency

Generosity

Understanding

Patience

Compassion

I pledge allegiance to all these and every other kindness shown to me when I have been in need. I pledge never to take these things for granted. We are all created equal, but Fate does not always play fair. We must.

Peace from this red-blooded, white-skinned, blue-political, old American girl.