Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Recipe for a Happy New Year

Take 12 fine, full-grown months. See that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate, and jealousy. Cleanse them completely from every clinging spike; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness. In short, see that these months are as fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of time.

Cut these months into 30 or 31 equal parts. This batch will keep for just one year. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way), but prepare one day at a time as follows:

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing— don’t do it), prayer, meditation, and one well-selected resolution.

Then put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a jigger of laughter, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.

Cook thoroughly in a fervent heat, garnish with a few smiles and a sprig of joy, then serve with sweetness, unselfishness, and cheerfulness and a happy New Year is a certainty.

~~Author Unknown

Five years ago today: New Thing #355--Auld Lang Syne

Sunday, December 29, 2013

An Accurate Description?

A friend recently showed me this puzzle.  Within seconds I found the words amazing, proud, and strong.  Care to take a stab and comment on what you find?

Michael Josephson/whatwillmatter.com
Five years ago today: New Thing #353--Chill Out

Friday, December 27, 2013

Petite Predicament

One of the Christmas presents I received this year was a pair of black yoga pants. They're beautifully made out of heavyweight stretch material and have a nice flare at the bottom. When I tried them on they fit perfectly--except they were too long.

I'm 5 ft 6 in tall.  Regular-length pants used to fit me just fine. Recently, though, I've had a problem finding bottoms that don't require hemming...and I don't think my legs haven't shrunk!  After many frustrating sessions in store dressing rooms I came up with a solution that works for me.  I shop for pants in the Petite department. 
(According to Wikipedia, "a petite size is a standard clothing size designed to fit women of shorter height, typically 160 cm (5 ft 3 in) or less".  I'm three inches taller than that. Something doesn't make sense here.)
Today I took my long yoga pants back to the store.  Although they come in a petite version, they'd sold all the black ones, so I grabbed another color to try on for size.  Sure enough, they were the right length.  Since they didn't have what I was looking for in stock I figured I'd have to return my present and order the new ones from the store's website.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the store offered free alterations. 

I put the long pants on, had them pinned up to the right length, then left them at the desk.  They'll be ready to pick up in a couple of days.  I wish all my clothing issues could be resolved so easily!

Five years ago today: New Thing #351--Going Bananas

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Pizza For Christmas

This year we celebrated Christmas differently. Because of scheduling conflicts the extended family got together last Sunday (instead of Christmas Day) for a big dinner and our traditional Rob Your Neighbor present exchange.

Today was just our family.  There wasn't anyone awake before dawn to see what Santa brought, but the early risers were moving shortly after 7:00; eventually they coerced the others out of bed.  A couple of hours later we'd had breakfast and were seated around the tree in the living room. We opened all the presents, ooh'd and aah'd at everything, then started playing with them.  It was really nice not to have to start hustling around getting things ready for a second round of festivities. 

Eventually it was time to eat again.  Since we'd already had a large Christmas dinner on Sunday, today we decided to go casual.  Yesterday Hubby Tony had picked up two half-baked pizzas from a local restaurant.  It only took five minutes to finish them in the oven.  Pizza, salad, and crudites made for a fine holiday lunch.

Five years ago today: New Thing #349--Swap It

Friday, December 20, 2013


This is my third holiday season at the Customer Service desk, so I knew it would be busy.  I'd forgotten, though, how draining it actually is.  There are more people in the mall asking questions, and gift card sales have increased exponentially.  Each day I come home brain-dead, unwilling or unable to move.

Regularly scheduled blog programming will return in a week or so.  In the meantime, here's another holiday song for you.  When I heard it for the first time this season on the radio today I found myself dancing around the kitchen banging on an imaginary set of drums. Enjoy.

Five years ago today: New Thing #344--Commencement

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Something Different!

When I walk into the mall to go to work I hear the Christmas music. It doesn't stop until I walk out at the end of my shift.

It wouldn't be so bad, but they play the same songs over and over.  Probably not obvious to the shoppers, even if they're there for several hours, but I'm at the Customer Service desk about 20 hours a week.  Each day I can count on hearing multiple versions of "Santa Baby", "Jingle Bell Rock", "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "Do They Know It's Christmas".  It's enough to turn me into a Grinch!

So, here's one of my favorite Christmas songs I haven't heard at the mall this year!  Hope you like it, too.

Five years ago today: New Thing #342--Furbish

Monday, December 16, 2013


The other night Hubby Tony and I enjoyed carryout Chinese food for dinner.  At the end of the meal when we opened our fortune cookies Tony's said:

And this was mine:

Wonder what those words of wisdom will be?

Five years ago today: New Thing #340--When You Care Enough

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Advent Of Midlife

I rediscovered this poem (originally received in an email in 2006) when I was cleaning up my Inbox today. It inspired me back then, and it still does today.
Advent of Midlife
I am no longer waiting for
A special occasion;
I burn the best candles on ordinary days.
I am no longer waiting for
The house to be clean;
I fill it with people who understand that
Even dust is sacred.
I am no longer waiting for
Everyone to understand me;
It’s just not their task
I am no longer waiting for
The perfect children;
My children have their own names
That burn as brightly as any star.
I am no longer waiting for
The other shoe to drop;
It already did, and I survived.
I am no longer waiting for
The time to be right;
The time is always now.
I am no longer waiting for
The mate who will complete me;
I am grateful to be so
Warmly, tenderly held.
I am no longer waiting for
A quiet moment;
My heart can be stilled whenever it is called.
I am no longer waiting for
The world to be at peace;
I unclench my grasp and
Breathe peace in and out.
I am no longer waiting to
Do something great;
Being awake to carry my
Grain of sand is enough.
I am no longer waiting to
Be recognized;
I know that I dance in a holy circle.
I am no longer waiting for
I believe, I believe.
 -- Mary Anne Perrone, published in National Catholic Reporter December 15, 2006
Five years ago today: New Thing #338--Fun On The Freeway

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Love A Parade

Last week a woman called me at the mall Customer Service desk and asked about the mobility scooters we provide for shoppers.  She said she was bringing a group of older ladies to the mall; could she reserve the units in advance?  I explained that they were given out on a first come, first serve basis, but if they were at the mall close to opening time I could practically guarantee there would be scooters available.

This morning about 20 minutes after the mall opened the woman showed up at the desk asking to borrow three scooters.  Her group consisted of her mother and several of her mother's sisters; each older woman seemed to have a middle aged woman with her.  (I didn't ask, but wondered if the younger women were all daughters.)

I got the scooters out and lined the units up one behind the other.  One person claimed each, and they were off. During the course of my shift I saw the group several times, usually riding one behind the other like floats in a parade.  Each time they looked over in my direction and waved before they chugged off into the sunset.

Five years ago today: New Thing #336--Electrifying

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bag It

Every year our church does a Giving Tree outreach program to people in Southeast Missouri.  In late November several artificial trees hung with envelopes pop up in the back of the church.  Each envelope represents one person, and has a list of things they're asking for.  To participate, you select one (or more) from the tree, buy the things on the list, then return the wrapped gifts several weeks later.

This year Hubby Tony and I each picked a man's envelope.  A couple of days later I did the shopping.  Both of the men wanted shirts and socks--simple requests to fill.  I also purchased personal care items for each of them.

Last night I wrapped everything.  I covered the shirt boxes with colorful paper and slid the packs of socks into gift bags.  Unfortunately, I didn't have anything the right size to hold the personal care items.  I did NOT want to go back to the store, so I started looking through my stash of material to see if there was anything I could use to make a bag.

There was a piece of green burlap that looked nicely masculine.  It only took ten minutes to cut and sew up the sacks.  After they were filled, though, I couldn't figure out what to tie them with.  I went on another hunt through the house and stumbled upon packages of white athletic shoe laces.  It was easy to weave the stiff aglets at the end of the laces through the holes in the burlap.  I used one pair of laces for each bag (which will be a tiny additional gift) then drew them up tight and tied the ends in a bow.  Even though the laces still have some fold lines in them I think the finished result looks pretty good:

Five years ago today: New Thing #335--In The Studio

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snowman, Snowman, Who's Got The Snowman?

Hubby Tony, Son Donald, and I put up the tree and decorated the house for Christmas today. 

Our family room has a fireplace with a large mantle which is flanked by built-in bookshelves, and a large entertainment center on the other side of the room which all hold a collection of books, artwork, and mementos. I took many of these items down and dusted, then the men took charge of the room, filling it with seasonal items.

Over the years I've acquired more decorations than there's room for, so each year we pick and choose which ones to use. Everything has a memory.  For example, there's a painting of a snowy winter scene that came from Tony's great aunt.  The Santa and Mrs. Claus ceramic statues came from my Mom.  I bought the batik painting of a dark red poinsettia from a craft show our ladies group at church used to organize.

Some of the items go back to the boy's elementary school days, although most of those things don't get set out.  This year, though, Donald found three white athletic tube sock snowmen that have been around for decades.  (The boys each made one of the fiberfill-stuffed cuties when they passed through kindergarten or first grade.  They're now all in their 20s)  As you might expect, the craftsmanship on those snowmen isn't the greatest but they were made with love.

 Donald lined them up on the bottom shelf on the left side.  They don't stand up well, so he had them leaning against each other for support.  Ten minutes later I looked over and saw one of the socks laying on the ground.  Upon further investigation I noticed there was only one left on the shelf.  The other one was in the living room next to the tree.

Since I knew those snowmen couldn't walk on their own I suspected the cats has something to do with it.  Sure enough, I watched Pepper come over and pick up the one on the floor in his mouth and start to carry it away.  When he saw me he dropped it and ran out of the room.  I picked up all of the snowmen and returned them to a decoration box.  They aren't staying out this year!

Five years ago today: New Thing #332--Slumber

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Getting The Hang Of It

I've been attending meetings of a fellowship for several years.  Three years ago I started being active at the state level, representing my local group.   Last month when they elected new officers and people to run the various committees I volunteered to help with the organization's website. 

There are actually two of us splitting the task.  My job will be to keep a database updated. The other woman will work with the webpage software.  Today we met with the retiring website coordinator to learn our jobs.  He's had the task a couple of times over the years (developing both the website and the database), and as we got started he said he was ready to relinquish it! 

I'd already installed the software I'll need on my laptop, so it was easy to follow along as we talked about the things I'll need to do each month.  I took notes and thought I understood everything, but when I got home and started playing around with the software I found out I had quite a few questions.  Fortunately my job doesn't officially start until the first of the year, so I have time to figure everything out.

Five years ago today: New Thing #331--Give Presence

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Son Brian and DIL Nicole (along with their dog Yves) came into town last week for Thanksgiving.  They stuck around through the weekend, then flew out on Monday for a conference in San Francisco. They left their extra things here....some clothes, a gym bag, and a few shopping totes.  They also left Yves.  Hubby Tony and I were the designated dogsitters until they came back this afternoon.

I knew it would be an interesting couple of days.  The first time Yves visited the cats didn't know what to make of her.  Since then she's been here many times.  Jackson and Pepper no longer run and hide when she's here, but their relationship is chilly.  Now they'd have to co-exist with the dog for a long period of time.

There were a couple of issues we had to navigate.  The first was Yves's food. At home she has a bowl of dog kibbles readily available to her and she nibbles throughout the day.  On their first visit Nicole tried setting the bowl out in their bedroom.  Later that day we caught Jackson eating from the bowl, so letting Yves eat at will was not an option.  The solution--close the bedroom door when she's out with us.  Yves gets to visit the room on a regular basis, and we shut her in until she's finished eating.  She didn't seem to mind at all.

Resting on Brian's clothes
In addition to figuring out the food, we also had to think about sleeping patterns.  At bedtime Yves is used to sleeping with Brian and Nicole, and reportedly likes to cuddle up next to someone.  Pepper is used to sleeping at the foot of the bed around Tony's legs.  Which animal would end up with the prime real estate in our room when the lights went out?  The first night we left both bedroom doors open (and put away the food bowl).  At bedtime Yves trotted into 'her' room and jumped up on that bed.  As far as we know she's never ventured into ours (although Son Donald reported she greeted him at the front door each night when he came home from work, then disappeared back upstairs).  When Tony got up to fed the cats he put Yves's food out, too, then closed the door. Yves never complained.

A third issue was bathrooming.  We don't have a fenced yard, so each time Yves went outside she had to be on a leash.  It was easier to take her out the front door then navigate the flight of stairs from the deck to the back yard.  She had a great time walking around, sniffing at the tree, the utility box, and random patches of grass until she picked just the right spot to take care of her business.  By the second day I was remembering to bring a newspaper sleeve outside with me to pick up her messes.

Five years ago today: New Thing #329--Beautify

Monday, December 2, 2013

(Not Quite) A Partridge In A Pear Tree

Today a woman came up to the mall Customer Service desk and told me there was a bird walking around in the food court. She said she wasn't complaining, just wanting me to know.  I thanked her, told her I'd pass on the information, and she went on her way.  I did call the mall office, although I wasn't telling them something new.  We've had resident birds for some time now.

A couple of weeks ago I was coming into the mall when I heard a sound near a water feature. I traced the source of the sound, and located a small brown bird perched on a tropical plant.  It was some distance away, but based on its size I guessed it was a sparrow. I reported my finding to the first security officer I saw, but they were already aware of the issue.

Days passed. I was walking around before the mall opened and saw two birds flying down the main corridor.  When I told Security, the officer said they were trying to remove them, but hadn't had any luck.  Since that time I've have sporadic bird sightings. Once they were hovering around the huge Christmas tree in the center of the mall. Another time they were up on the second floor close to an atrium window.  I hadn't seen them in the food court, but it didn't surprise me to hear they'd found their way there, since it would have crumbs to nosh on.

I wonder how the birds got in?  The mall has automatic doors that open and close quickly, and the loading dock area is below the mall; you have to use an elevator to get up to the shopping area.  However it happened, the birds will have to go.  Word on the street is that they've set some live traps, but so far the birds haven't cooperated. 

Wonder how many more bird reports I'll get?

Five years ago today: New Thing #326--Fragrance