Monday, December 30, 2019

The Bag That Gets Around

Hubby Tony and I continue to declutter and purge superfluous house items before our move to a smaller residence later this month.

For years, I've maintained plastic tote boxes for each of the boys that contained what I thought was the best of their schoolwork and things that would interest them when they grew up. Now I need to get the things out of my basement, which is hard to do when two thirds of those boys live out of town. Back in September Son Tony waded through his things and decided what he could get rid of. Ultimately I sent him the things he wanted to keep via UPS.

I thought our Christmas trip to California would be a great time to bring Son Brian his things. We were flying on Southwest, which allows two free checked bags per person. I thought that maybe one of those things could be his things. I mulled over the best way to box them up for shipping. One day I was browsing through a thrift store, saw some luggage they had on sale, and the light bulb over my head went off. I realized I could buy a case to pack Brian's things in, and he could keep it re-donate it after he was done.

I came home and measured how many cubic inches the case needed to be. Armed with the information I went back to the thrift store and found a wheeled duffel bag that was the perfect size.

Ready to go
All the things from Brian's tote fit in there, and I was also able to add a plastic shoe box full of Christmas ornaments. The bag was heavy, but well under the 50-pound maximum and I checked it with no problems.

I didn't tell Brian we were bringing his things, and I think he was a little surprised, but he put the bag in the garage to go through at his leisure. When Son Tony arrived a couple of days later, I mentioned in passing what I had done. He said jokingly he might have to have Brian empty the bag, so he and DIL Ie could take it on the second leg of their trip to carry the things she was picking up at her mom's house. The next day he did mention, and Brian did empty. (And as an added bonus Tony told me it was actually his container of ornaments, not Brian's. It was all meant to be.)

When Tony and Ie left they put the duffel bag in their rental car for the trip into the Central Valley area and then back to Dallas loaded with things. I wonder who will be using that bag next?

Five years ago today: Fill 'Er Up!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

A West Coast Christmas

Over the summer, long before I had any idea what Christmas presents I would be buying or receiving, I knew what the holiday would look like for the family. As the boys have moved around the country and expanded their families it's getting harder and harder to get together. This year Son Brian and DIL Nicole stated they would not attempt to travel this year with a three-year old and five month old twins, and Son Tony and DIL Ie would be visiting her family in California. We figured out that a West Coast Christmas would be the most logical option and booked our tickets in August.

Hubby Tony and I flew into San Jose and stayed for six days. Other members of the family were there for parts of that period, and the entire family overlapped for about 36 hours. Brian and Nicole rented a nearby house through Airbnb. The house was close enough to walk to, but Brian also offered the use of one of their cars to get back and forth.

I have never not been in my own house for Christmas, but the opportunity to see Twins Ell and Dee was enough to get me excited:

Impossible to get both of them to be still at the same time
And then there was Big Brother Jay (hanging out here with a dog they were sitting for a friend):

On Sunday morning we exchanged our gifts. After lunch Son Tony and Ie gave us the best gift of all when they announced they were expecting a baby in late June!

The days flew by all too quickly, and it was time to get back on an airplane to come home. I was surprised that there were a substantial number of travelers on Christmas Eve, but we made it through both airports without any issues. As wonderful as our time in California was, it was good to be home.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019


I had decided last night what clothes I would be wearing to Christmas Mass today. After breakfast I went upstairs to get dressed and quickly realized I had a problem. My carefully-chosen outfit was way too warm, due to the almost record-breaking high temperatures the weather people were predicting. The next set of clothes I tried on were too tight (the result of too much pre-Christmas celebrating). Eventually I came up with two items that fit and coordinated acceptably well. On the way out of the door I put on my lightweight winter coat. It made me so hot I couldn't take it off fast enough, and I substituted a cardigan sweater over my short sleeved shirt.

After the greeting, the priest started Mass by saying "Merry Christmas from Florida". Everyone chuckled, but I had to agree that it felt almost tropical outside. It was even warmer on the way out of church, and I left my sweater in the car while Hubby Tony and I ran into the Asian market for a couple of items and some lunch. Back at home I changed into jeans and pulled out the flip flops from the back of my closet.

Later in the afternoon we decided to take a walk and enjoy the beautiful weather. On a normal Christmas day, the temperature would be closer to 40 degrees. Today the electronic billboard at the local high school said it was 75 degrees. We saw kids out playing with their new toys, people walking and jogging, and even a man dressed in a Santa suit riding a motorcycle. Halfway through our route I was wishing I had put on some capris instead of jeans.

Good thing I had the Christmas tree lights to help me remember what time of the year it really was!

Five years ago today: Christmas Greetings

Monday, December 23, 2019

An Early Present For You

I forgot to ask what you wanted for Christmas, but everyone can use some humor at this time of the year.
  • What do you say when you give someone a set of spices for Christmas? Season’s greetings.
  • What did Santa and Mrs. Clause name their daughter? Mary Christmas.
  • Why was the candy cane so expensive? It was in mint condition.
  • Did you hear about the dog who wrote his own Christmas song? It’s called Dachshund Through the Snow.
  • What kind of music do elves love the most? Wrap.
  • What do you call Santa when he accidentally falls in a fireplace? Krisp Kringle.
  • What kind of linens to gingerbread men put on their beds? Cookie sheets.
  • What nationality is Santa Claus? North Polish.
  • What’s the difference between a normal alphabet and the North Pole alphabet? The North Pole has no L
  • What’s the most popular breakfast cereal at the North Pole? Snowflakes.
  • What did the wise men say after they offered up their gifts of gold and frankincense? Wait, there’s myrrh.
  • Do Christmas lights work over the holidays? Off and on.

Five years ago today: Grow, Baby, Grow

Sunday, December 22, 2019

"Let Mommy Rest"

Have you seen this Nativity, called "Let Mommy Rest", that Pope Francis referred to in his December 18th General Audience? It has Mary sleeping in the manger while Joseph is trying to get the Baby Jesus to go to sleep.

Somehow this makes the Holy Family seem more real.

Five years ago today: Beclouded

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

What A Difference A [Couple Of] Days Makes

On Monday the sky was full of clouds and snow. Today is quite a different story.

The sun is out, the snow is melting, and I even heard a bird singing. With just one week to go until Christmas, it's a great day for some classic mellow music. Enjoy.

Five years ago today: Action Of Altering

Monday, December 16, 2019

White As Snow

Late last week predictions of winter weather started to trickle in. With a gleam in their eye, forecasters predicted multiple waves of snow, sleet, and freezing rain over the weekend. The upcoming storm was the topic of conversation at every event I attended. Depending on their tolerance for snow, people were either frantic or unconcerned.

The whole mess was supposed to start somewhere between 9 am and noon yesterday.  Hubby Tony and I went out right after breakfast to run a couple of errands, and at that time the only sign of the impending storm was a cold breeze and a heavy layer of clouds that completely blocked the sun. Tony had a volunteer commitment at noon. When he left, there was a dusting of flakes on the ground. By the time he returned 90 minutes later the driveway was covered with a layer of snow. The snow came down most of the afternoon. When it stopped I went outside to shovel a couple of inches off the drive, walkway, and sidewalk.

But we weren't out of the weather woods yet. There was a little freezing drizzle predicted overnight, and then somewhere between three and six more inches of snow today. This morning the walkway looked clear, but when I stepped outside I almost slid into the grass and realized they were right about the ice part. After breakfast, the snow started coming down with a vengeance. It tapered off mid-afternoon, but continued to flurry for most of the rest of the day.

Tony brought his work computer home on Friday, and today his "commute" involved walking down to the basement office. Most of the things on my To Do list required leaving the house, which I decided wasn't going to happen. Instead, I spent the day straightening the house, packing up some things to take to Goodwill, reading, and piddling on the computer.

I wasn't surprised to hear that the local schools declared a snow day, and as the day wore on social media informed me that many stores and even grocers were closing early. The holiday dinner party that we were scheduled to attend tonight got cancelled. I was really looking forward to not cooking tonight, and fortunately we had leftovers that I could just throw in the microwave.

Early in the afternoon I was getting a little stir crazy. The snow had pretty much stopped, so I went outside to shovel the driveway again. I felt like I was all alone in the world. There were no people or cars visible, and the only tire tracks on the street were from the mail truck. It was magical. And cold. I finished up my job as fast as I could, so I could get back inside.

Five years ago today: Christmas Tree Crudités

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Good To Keep In Mind

Next year February will have a Leap Day (Saturday the 29th), which aligns the calendar such that many of the major holidays will also fall on the weekend.

Five years ago today: Spruce Up The Spruce

Friday, December 13, 2019

It's Closed And Ours!

When Hubby Tony and I started our downsizing house hunting, we looked at both single family houses and condominiums in several parts of the metropolitan area. Eventually we decided it would be nice to have no exterior chores to take of, so we started concentrating on condos. Even then there were a lot of choices. Did we want a villa? A townhouse? A single story or multiple floor building? Each time we went out with our agent we figured out a little more about what we were looking for.

Five weeks ago we signed a contract to sell our current house and decided to purchase a condo on the second floor of a two-story building with a parking garage tucked underneath it. We liked that unit's layout and the fact that the seller had already updated the kitchen and bathrooms and put new carpet throughout. Another thing that was important to us is that the location is convenient. It's close enough to church, several grocery stores, a couple of restaurants (and even a mall) that we can walk if we desire.

Then two weeks later our selling contract fell apart. We could have used that as an out on our condo contract, but after a lot of discussion Tony and I decided to go through with the purchase. Yesterday was our closing date. It was exciting to wake up and know that some big changes were going to start happening in our lives. Our appointment at the realtor's office was shortly after they opened. It took about an hour to sign a whole stack of paperwork, then we received a set of keys and instructions not to go to our new place until we received a text that the soon-to-be-ex owner had completed his paperwork.

That text came in the early afternoon, while we were out shopping for lamps. We drove to our new home, where we found some product warranty information and two garage door openers waiting for us on the kitchen island. We put light bulbs into each of the lamps we had purchased, set them on the floor in each of the bedrooms, then did a little happy dance.

Today after my morning commitments I visited the condo, parking my car in the assigned garage spot for the first time. I brought a small table for one of the lamps, a couple of plates, bowls, and cups, and soap for the kitchen and bathrooms. While I was there I measured all the rooms with an eye for where furniture will go and mentally assigned kitchen cabinets for our dishes.

Tony and I went back this evening, bringing our dinner with us to heat up in the microwave. We also brought our camp chairs that will be our seating until we get something more permanent there.

(So are you wondering about our current house? Over the weekend we received another contract for its sale, and after some negotiating signed off on the sale. The closing date will be mid-January, which will give us plenty of time to get out things organized and out.)

Five years ago today: Returning To The Scene

Sunday, December 8, 2019

1 Corinthians 13 (Christmas version)

(A friend sent this to me. I thought it was a good reminder that during this busy time of the year I need to slow down and concentrate on what is really important.)
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ (the true reason for the season), I have missed the point.

In other words....

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn’t envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of your way, but is thankful that they are there to be in the way.
Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails.

Video games will break; pearl necklaces will be lost; golf clubs will rust. But the gift of love will endure.
Five years ago today: No Sweat

Thursday, December 5, 2019

From Me To You. You're Welcome.

During one of my kitchen downsizing sessions I came across a stack of three cast iron corn stick pans shoved in the back of a cabinet. The pans had belonged to Hubby Tony's mother, and I rarely use them. I think it's easier to pour batter into a large pan or skillet rather than fiddle with trying to get it neatly into the small molds, so I decided they could go.

I suspected the pans might have some value, so I did some internet research. Based on the information on their bottoms I determined that two of them (with corn-shaped reservoirs) were pretty common, but the third (that had wheat-shaped wells) was pretty unusual. The online posted prices for the rarer one ranged from twenty to hundreds of dollars. Because I just wanted to get rid of the pans I settled for prices on the low end and offered them as a lot on both Craigslist and the Facebook marketplace.

It didn't take long for me to get my first response. Through messages and texts we decided that I would meet the woman at the Costco parking lot after dinner for the hand off.

In good shape, but need to be seasoned!

The woman showed up exactly as promised. I asked her if her interest in the pans was as a cook or a collector. She told me both, and showed me a magazine photo of a wall full of cast iron pieces she was hoping to duplicate in her kitchen. We talked about the different types and brands of cast iron. I learned that she had been on the hunt for a wheat-shaped pan for quite some time, but each time she saw one for sale it was always over her budget. She told me she was thrilled to actually get one. So thrilled that after she gave me the agreed-upon money, she added an extra $20. (Which thrilled me too!)

Five years ago today: Let's Unite The Whole World At Christmas Time

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Come Sail Away

When I was brushing my teeth this morning I saw this fascinating shadow on the wall across from the window:

It was a sheer coincidence that I happened to be there at the right time for the angle of the sun to hit some tree branches and the window mullions, then reflect through the pane of glass. Fifteen minutes later when I went back into the room it was completely gone.

As one does in this social media age, I shared the interesting image on Facebook. One of my friends decided it looked like a ship. I guess his comment resonated with another friend, because she suggested this video. (Doesn't the background behind the letters feel similar to what I saw?)

Five years ago today: Something For Everyone

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Base In Box

As part of downsizing for moving to a smaller home, Hubby Tony and I have gotten rid of a lot of things. One of them was the 8-foot tall artificial Christmas tree that we've used for several years. It was beautiful, but almost four feet in diameter at the bottom, which would take up much too much space in a new, smaller living area.

Our original plan was to close on the sale of our house late next week. Because I would just have to box everything up to vacate the place, I was OK with not putting up any decorations. However, two weeks ago the sale contract fell through. Unless someone shows up in the next day or so and wants immediate possession, we'll be in the house longer than originally planned, and I decided that it was important to bring in a little bit of the holiday season.

I never shop on Black Friday, but when I was looking through the huge stack of ads that came with our newspaper on Thanksgiving Day, I saw that one of the home goods stores had a six foot pre-lit tree for only $20. The price was certainly right, and the size would be perfect in our new condo, so I decided to wake up when it was still very dark out and make a trek to the store. Even though I arrived 15 minutes later than the opening time, they still had plenty of stock.

Our old tree came in a box that was so big and heavy it took two of us to get up the basement steps. This new one came in a box I could pick up with one hand! It took less than a minute to assemble the base and put the tree together, but a lot longer than that to 'fluff' all the branches out to make the tree look realistic. Once it was in the living room I realized that this tree was too small for the space, mainly because of the 9-foot tall ceilings. It also had a long, unattractive-looking metal trunk. After pondering on how I could make it look better, this is what I came up with:

Still needs a couple more ornaments

The bottom box brings the top of the tree up to the height of the windows on either side of it. The base of the tree is sitting inside the top box, which hides the base. I think it looks much better now.

Five years ago today: Four Burners, One Light

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Promotional Pie Pickup

When we decided to sell our house, we chose a very large brokerage firm that uses a 'team' approach. We actually are working with two agents--one for the selling process and another one for the buying part. And then after a contract is signed on either end, the paperwork gets handed off to people who do nothing but concentrate on the closing details. The firm has their own website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel.

Out of the dozens of people who work at the agency we had only met two. So when Hubby Tony got an email inviting us to come to their office to pick up a complimentary pie, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

When Tony got home from work he changed clothes, then we got organized and left the house. Thanks to Google it was easy to find the office in a building about a half hour from our house. Just inside the front door of the building an associate was sitting at a folding table. She asked if we were there to pick up a pie, and when we said we were escorted us down a couple of halls to a room that looked like it would normally be a conference room. However, today it had morphed into Pie Central. One long table held Costco-sized apple and pumpkin pies. The associate handed us the apple one we had requested, then got the attention of one of the firm's owners.

The owner came over and talked to us for a couple of minutes, then thanked us for coming by. On the way out of the room we briefly talked to the other owner. I grabbed a cookie from a table that held a selection of snacks before we wound our way back out to the entrance.

Five years ago today: Time To Scale Back

Sunday, November 24, 2019

On The Road Again

Now that our house is back on the market, Hubby Tony and I asked our agent if it would be a good idea to have another Open House this weekend to try to bring in potential buyers. She did, and scheduled it for this afternoon.

It was six weeks ago that we had the first open house (and then another one three weeks after that), so we know the drill. Straighten every inch of the house, clean every surface, then do another walk through to take care of the things you missed the first time. Hope for no cat mishaps. Just before the agent arrives, turn on every light in the house, then get in the car and leave for a couple of hours.

This time we only had one cat to get in the car, but Jackson made the job interesting. Five minutes before it was time to go he disappeared behind a bed. Tony offered kibbles, but Jackson wouldn't come out until Tony removed the drawer in the front of the frame, exposing the hiding place and grabbing the cat before he could run. Because Tony's hands were full I put the bed back together and neatened the bedspread.

Once downstairs, Tony decided not to try to put Jackson into his carrier. Instead he just carried him out to the car. Its back section was all set up for our adventure with a litter box and a bowl for water. I added the empty carrier to the setup, and we were off. 

Jackson wanted no part of the back, preferring to sit on Tony's lap. He alternated between looking out the window at the new-to-him sights and burying his head in the crook of Tony's arm.

After running a couple of quick errands we ended up at a new-to-us park. I made sure the door of Jackson's carrier was open so he could go in if he wanted, then grabbed some reading material and my lunch and got comfortable.  The weather was sunny but brisk, and unlike our other open house getaways there was no need to open any windows to make the temperature comfortable. Jackson decided to pass the time in his carrier, but when Tony got out to take a walk the cat climbed up onto his seat.

Eventually we drove to McDonald's for coffee and free wi-fi, and Jackson took his place on Tony's lap in the passenger seat. Once the car was parked in the lot, Jackson retreated to the back again. However, when I turned the car on for the trip home Jackson let us know that he would be happy to come up in front.

As we pulled around the corner to our street Jackson got excited...even though he's never seen the house from the outside.

Five years ago today: Lending A Hand

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

RIP Pepper (2002-2019)

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends, so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown
Pepper in happier days
Five years ago today:"Why Can't We Live Together"

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

This morning I had a tooth-cleaning appointment at the dentist. When I came out I had a text from our house-selling agent asking for me to call her.

On that call I learned that one half of the couple that had contracted to buy our house was self-employed, had lost two clients on Friday, and based on that they no longer had the necessary income to complete the sale. Our contract was being cancelled, and the house would have to go back on the market. OY!

The agent told me that after Hubby Tony and I signed the cancellation paperwork she was going to reach out to a couple of people that had shown interest in the past. The property's online listings would change back to For Sale, but carry a note that the house was back on the market through no fault of sellers.

I ended the call, but before I drove home I called Tony to discuss what this means for the condo we were going to purchase. (We're still mulling over the answer to that question.) However, I knew that my first job was to whip the house back into showing shape. Even though in theory we still could have had potential buyers come though the house, once we had a signed contract I had gotten a little lax about cleaning. I came home and dusted, polished, and de-cluttered for a couple of hours while pondering the possible next steps.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And as if that news wasn't bad enough, later in the afternoon Tony and I took Pepper the cat to the vet. Over the weekend he stopped eating and had trouble walking. After the vet took a look at him, she told us that more than likely he had "thrown a clot" which was cutting off the main blood supply to the back legs. She said that since Pepper had already had one blood clot there would more than likely be additional ones. Based on her diagnosis we made the difficult decision to put Pepper to sleep, but we needed time to say goodbye. We left the vet's office with a supply of painkilling medicine and instructions to love on him and call when we were ready.

Five years ago today: Just A Little Is Enough

Sunday, November 17, 2019

A Cat's Bedtime Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray this cushy life to keep.
I pray for toys that look like mice,
And some cushions, soft and nice.
For grocery bags where I can hide,
Just like a tiger, crouched inside!

I pray for gourmet kitty snacks,
And someone nice to scratch my back.
For window sills all warm and bright,
And shadows to explore at night.

I pray I'll always stay real cool,
And keep the secret feline rule.
To NEVER tell the humans that,
This world is really ruled by cats!

Author Unknown

Five years ago today: Scrub-A-Dub-Dub

Friday, November 15, 2019

TOO Close!

Today it was the day to do my middle of the month Aldi grocery run. A lot of other people must have had the same idea, because the parking lot was busier than usual for a Friday. Eventually I slid my CR-V into a spot on the side of the store pretty far down from the door.

I was inside the store for about 20 minutes. When I came out I noticed that some inconsiderate jerk had impinged on my parking space:

It was difficult, but I sucked everything in and was able to slide through the small gap between the vehicles, open my car door halfway, and squeeze into my seat. However, the truck was pretty grimy and I had to brush streaks of dirt off of my coat before I carefully pulled out of the space so I wouldn't hit the space hog.

Five years ago today: Party Time!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Installation Is Free

The process of selling our house inches along. One of our requirements was to have a municipal safety inspection. The city sent two employees from the Code Enforcement office who checked all three levels of the house, then gave me a short list of items that needed to be fixed before the new owners can take possession.

One of the things I learned was that even though we have a hard-wired smoke detector system in the house, the current code states that we also need to have a unit inside each bedroom. The next day I went to the hardware store and bought four battery operated models, then came home, fired up the computer, and researched exactly where on the bedroom ceiling they should go. Surprisingly, I couldn't find a clear answer.

However, during my surfing I came across the website of our local fire department, which indicated they would come out and install the smoke detectors for no charge.That sounded too good to be true, but I called the station and talked with the Public Relations department, which assured me their offer had no strings attached. The only possible hitch would be that if the crew got an emergency call it would take priority. That sounded reasonable, so I made an appointment for them to come out.

On the appointed day I was in the kitchen when I heard a loud diesel engine idling out on the street, and realized there was a fire truck in front of the house. However, as soon as I saw it the truck drove away, turning on its flashing lights as it left the street. It was back ten minutes later, and I watched as a crew of three firefighters got out and walked up to the front porch. One was carrying a portable ladder and another had a cordless drill.

When they got inside I gave them the detectors I had purchased and showed them were the bedrooms were. It took them ten minutes to install the four alarms. The job would have taken me hours.

Five years ago today: Errands And Evaluations

Monday, November 11, 2019

Ready or Not, Here We Snow

Yesterday I was outside in shirtsleeves raking leaves. I even turned off the furnace for a couple of hours and opened the windows a tad to air the house out.  I knew the lovely weather wasn't going to last long, though.

Early this morning a cold front came through. When I woke up the wind was whipping the remaining leaves off the trees. After breakfast it started raining; as the temperature fell the precipitation turned into snow. The storm kept up through most of the afternoon, and when it moved off, there was approximately two inches of white stuff on the grass (but very little on the roads).

Hubby Tony's office was closed for Veteran's Day. We had planned on running errands together and going out to lunch. However, I had no desire to drive around in winter weather so those plans got changed. Right after breakfast I ran to the office supply store to pick up some supplies for a paperwork project that I had been putting off. When I got home, Tony left to make a couple of stops at stores that opened later in the morning. One of his errands was at the grocery store, so I asked him to bring home something frozen or processed that we could heat up for lunch so I didn't have to cook.

This is very early in the year for us to have significant winter weather. Other years the cold comes more gradually, and I have time to get used to it. Soon after the snow started it covered the skylight in the kitchen, which gave the room an eerie glow. I hunkered down in the house and drank hot tea all afternoon to try to stay warm. Thankfully, the leftover vegetable bean soup we had for dinner was warm and substantial.

After dinner I decided to scrape off the light layer of white stuff from the driveway and sidewalks. I put on my heavy coat, a scarf, hat, and gloves. The job only took 15 minutes, but by the time I was done I was more than ready to come in. It sounds like things will be better in a couple of days, but the National Weather Service says that the record low for tomorrow is 12° (set in 1911), and according to the weather guy on the TV news I watched before I went to bed we could break that record.

Five years ago today: Change In The Weather

Friday, November 8, 2019

Virtual Sand Art

I have a folder in my email where I store random websites that I come across and want to go back to. Tonight I was looking through that folder and came across Thisissand, which calls itself "a unique playground for creating and sharing amazing sandscapes on your computer or mobile device."

The program is easy to navigate. There's a color picker button that brings up a full-screen spectrum to choose from, and you can save colors to go back to them later.  There are options for single color, multi-color, or random color sand. You control the thickness of the sand piles by how fast or slow you drag your mouse, or double clicking starts an automatic flow. Watching the falling sand is mesmerizing.

There are some crazy good works of art that have been shared on the website. Mine isn't one of them, but I had a lot of fun doing it.
My sample
Five years ago today: The Finished Product

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Adventures In Selling And Buying

It's been a little over four weeks since our for-sale house went officially on the market. Since then, every morning I primped and polished it before I left for the day in case someone wanted to come look at it. The extra work added about 45 minutes to my morning routine, and quickly got old.

We had one open house, which brought in some interested potential buyers, but when none of them followed through with a contract we decided to lower our price a bit. After a second open house the next weekend someone was interested enough to come back for a second look, and a couple of days after that our agent called to say they were submitting a contract!

Unfortunately that contract had some terms Hubby Tony and I didn't care for. We countered, and the people had their agent counter back verbally to our agent. Our agent suggested we ask them to put something in writing. We did, but they declined. However, in the meantime she heard that there was a second family who might be interested.  They were, and over the weekend gave us a contract. It was contingent on the sale of their house, but our agent talked to theirs and said she thought the house would sell quickly. Based on her recommendation we accepted the offer.

I was out of town at a meeting this weekend. The business sessions and speakers were fascinating, but instead of giving them my undivided attention I spent a lot of time peeking at my phone emails and texts for house updates. At Saturday's lunch break I rushed up to my hotel room to sign the acceptance contract so our agent could send it on.

Of course once you sell a house you better figure out a new place to live. Tony and I had a short list of the places we had looked at that were still available for purchase. We emailed back and forth and talked on the phone multiple, coming to a decision about which place we wanted to submit a contract for. Tony took the lead in communicating with our buying agent, and before the meeting finished up at noon I had once again used my computer to sign the necessary documents.

Our contract gave the current owners until 5:00 yesterday to accept or counter our offer. It didn't take quite that long. After a little back and forth they formally accepted our offer, which is contingent on our house's closing.

It's exciting and terrifying to know that after 25 years we will be uprooting ourselves and moving to a new home. I think I'm up to the challenge, though.

Five years ago today: Punnies

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Fall Back Fun

In the middle of last night the clocks reverted from Daylight Saving Time back to Standard Time, which means that the hour of daylight that was transferred to the end of the day back in the spring is now back in its normal spot. I usually don't have a problem with the change, but today it really threw me for a loop.

My issues started first thing in the morning when I woke up in a panic. Because it was bright earlier that I'm used to, I thought I had overslept. However, once I figured out I was on the correct schedule it was nice to do my morning tasks without needing to turn on so many lights.

Most of the clocks in the house automatically change themselves now, but the microwave doesn't. Somehow it got overlooked, and in the afternoon I looked at it and panicked again, thinking I had lost an hour. (I was really happy when I figured out that I hadn't.)

This was my first chance to change in the time in my new-to-me vehicle. I was pleased to figure out the process was intuitive, and the whole thing only took me a couple of minutes.

Hubby Tony and I went to Mass at 5:00 pm. The temperature was almost balmy, so we decided to walk. By the time we got out of the church at 6:00 it was completely dark. Thank goodness there were street lamps along the road to light the way.

Five years ago today: A Tale Of Two Routes

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Lee Family

The Lee family has really been stressing me out. Perhaps you know them:

Emotional Lee
Mental Lee
Physical Lee
Financial Lee 

Five years ago today: Can You See The Advantage?

Saturday, October 26, 2019

I Could Be A Barking Bison That Grunts

Have you chosen a Halloween costume yet? If not, maybe this list of ideas from the National Park Service will help.  Choose the phrase from each column that corresponds to the first letter of your first and last name and you're good to go.

You're welcome.

National Park Service

Five years ago today: Spicy Oven-Roasted Chickpeas

Thursday, October 24, 2019

What The Heck Is Cascara?

The other day I was ordering lunch at restaurant and I noticed they had a drink that contained something called cascara on the menu. I had no idea what that was (and the person taking my order wasn't much help).  Because I was in an adventurous mood I went ahead and ordered the drink, which was refreshing, sweet, and fruity, with notes of cherry and red current.

I came home and did some research, and learned that cascara is made from the fruit of coffee cherries... another name for the berries produced by coffee trees. After the coffee beans are removed from the cherries the leftover pulp and skins used to be tossed. To make cascara they're dried Then they can be brewed for tea, or made into a syrup and added to other drinks.

Raw coffee beans and leftover cherry from Wikipedia

Five years ago today: Holy "Mole-y"

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Pumpkin Under Pressure

Today's schedule was empty except for one work commitment. After completing my job I decided to swing by the grocery store and buy a pumpkin to set out on the front porch. When I got there I realized they were a great price, so I got for outside and one to cook and turn into puree.

At home I chose the nicest-looking fruit for the porch. I cut the other one onto chunks and removed the seeds. I usually cook my pumpkins in the oven, but the other day I read about doing it in an Instant Pot on Facebook and decided to give it a try.

The pumpkin was approximately 13 pounds. (I know that conventional wisdom says that small pie pumpkins make the most flavorful puree, but I've always had luck using full sized ones. And as an added bonus, the bigger the pumpkin the more seeds there are to roast.) Only half of the chunks fit in the Instant Pot, so I arranged the rest on a sheet pan and put it in the oven. Both sets of pumpkin were done at approximately the same time. The Instant Pot directions called for six minutes of cooking time, but that didn't include the time for the pot to come to pressure or the time for the pressure to release at the end.

It was interesting to compare the two sets of chunks. The baked pieces were firmer and had a few brown caramelized edges. The pressure cooked pieces looked a little mushy, and there was a substantial amount of liquid in the bottom of the pot. I transferred the baked pieces to a bowl and took both it and the Instant Pot container outside to the deck to cool off before I processed them.

Baked versus pressure cooked

Twenty minutes later the baked pieces were easy to handle, but the ones from the Instant Pot were still hot. I sliced the skin off the cooked pieces, used the food processor to puree everything, then poured the puree into a coffee-filter lined colander. After letting the puree strain for a couple of hours I was able to make four 2-cup bags of puree and four 2-cup containers of pumpkin juice. It all went into the freezer. As an added bonus, while I was waiting for the liquid to drain out out I roasted the seeds and put that container in the pantry.

Now I'm ready for some Fall recipes!

Five years ago today: Color Me Confused

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Special Sink

The other day I popped into my local library to look for a book. The building had been recently renovated, and when I used the bathroom I realized they had updated that section, too. Part of the renovation was installing fancy all-in-one sinks.

I tried one of them out out. The first step is to stick your hands under the left side of the bar, which causes a squirt of soap come out. After you're finished washing your hands, you put them under the middle of the bar, which activates a stream of water to rinse them. Once all the soap is gone, you move your hands to under the drying icon at the right side of the bar, which releases a stream of warm air to dry them off.

Using the sink was so fun and unusual that I actually spent extra time cleaning my hands. I wonder if that happens to other people too-or if I'm just easily amused?

Five years ago today: Sometimes You Just Can't Win

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

He Done Her Wrong

I was reminded by Vintage St. Louis that on this day in 1899:
"Frankie Baker shot Albert Britt to death after an argument over another woman at 212 Targee Street in St. Louis. Frankie pleaded self-defense and was acquitted. Pianist Bill Dooley wrote a song about the murder called “Frankie and Albert.” Over the years, it got changed to “Frankie and Johnny.” When the story became a motion picture, Baker sued. The court found that it was considered a folk song, and ruled against her. Baker died in a Portland mental institution in 1950."
Wikipedia told me that there have been multiple songs written about the event, and at least 256 recordings have been made since the early 20th century. There have been big band, pop, country, and jazz versions, but this is one of my favorites

Five years ago today: Senior Citizen Texting Code

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Come See It!

This afternoon our house was the center of attention at an Open House hosted by our agent.

Once again the house got cleaned from top to bottom. Fortunately this time Hubby Tony was available to do half of the work. He took care of the vacuuming and general outside spiffing up. I polished all the glass surfaces, swept the kitchen floor, and cleaned the fingerprints off all the wood. As you might expect, the process was not without hitches. An hour before the event started I discovered a cat hairball in the middle of the bedroom floor, which led to do some frantic scrubbing.

Cleaning was the easy part. The hard part was figuring out what to do with the cats for a couple of hours. We all had to leave the house, but the cats do not like traveling in the car. (Probably because they've never gone anywhere in the car but to the vet.)  After some discussion, Tony and I decided that we would drive somewhere where we could park the car, then let the cats out of their carriers to roam around the car and hope for the best. We could eat our lunch and pass the time reading and enjoying the fresh air.

In my CR-V it's easy to put the back seats down to make a large flat trunk area. Right before we left Tony stocked it with the (cleaned) litter box and a plastic container of water. When the agent arrived Tony and I each grabbed a cat, stuffed him in a carrier, and took it out to the car.

As we left the neighborhood we saw Open House signs pointing the potential buyers towards our house. We ended up going to a nearby park. It took a couple of tries, but eventually I found a parking spot with enough shade for everyone. I opened the car's sun roof a tad and rolled down the windows a little to let the breeze in. Then we opened the carriers and encouraged the cats to come out.

Both were less than enthusiastic about the idea,  but Tony and I ignored them, got comfortable in our seats, ate our lunches, and read the newspaper. Eventually the cats poked their heads out and looked around. Both tentatively walked around the trunk area, but spooked every time they heard a loud noise outside. Jackson ultimately ended up squeezing into a tiny space left between the seat cushions and the floor. Pepper spent most of his time in the carrier napping.

After the paper had been thoroughly read we drove to McDonald's for coffee, then to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. The actual open house was from noon until two in the afternoon, but the agent encouraged us to stay away until 2:30 in case there were any last-minute visitors. By the time we got home the agent was already gone.

Approximately a half hour later we received an email that told us that four groups of potential buyers had stopped by. All of them expressed positive feedback about our kitchen and the finished lower level, but one of them had an issue with the fact that we did not have a fenced back yard. It will be interesting to see if any of them are interested enough to follow up.

Five years ago today: Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Friday, October 11, 2019

Polite, Pleasant, Personable

My large collection of houseplants has been summering outside,  but cold weather is around the corner and they'll all have to come inside. This year I decided to reduce the size of the collection and posted a message offering a group of them on the free section of Craigslist.

Within two minutes of finalizing my post I got the first response, and ten others came in before I could log back into my account and delete it. Most of the responses got right to the point, asking some variation of Are the plants still available? A couple of people also added when they'd be able to pick them up. I wanted the plants gone, so I offered the lot to the first responder. However, shortly after that I received this email:
Good evening!

I just saw your post for the houseplants. If they are still available, I would love to have all of them. I grew up with my grandmother who always had plants, mostly aloe, spider plants, Christmas cacti, and a couple of African violets. Anyway, I have become more interested in plants in recent years and in fact am in a botany class now at the community college.

Thank you for your time and consideration! Have a great night!
The message was so personal and polite I was disappointed I had already made arrangements. I answered the message, saying:
The plants are already spoken for, but I will keep your name in case they don't show up. Also, I may have more in a couple of weeks, if you'd like me to let you know.
I quickly got another response:
Thank you so much for letting me know. I'm always looking for plants, so yes, please keep me in mind for more, if you can. Thanks again, and have a great night!
When I did come up with more plants to get rid of I contacted the polite woman directly.  She seemed thrilled to accept my discards, and stopped by my house on her way to work. I watched as she carefully arranged the pots in the trunk of her car, then as she waved at me as she drove away.

Five years ago today: Two Words

Monday, October 7, 2019

Flip Flops Lost And Found

Last Friday was a whirlwind of cleaning and straightening to get the house ready for its listing photo session. At some point the flip flops I was wearing started slowing me down, so I kicked them off. The rest of the day I slid the shoes on when I went outside or down to the unfinished part of the basement, and back off when I was working on the main level or second floor.

When the photographer arrived I put the footwear back on to answer the door. The first thing she did when she entered the house was to remove her shoes, so I did the same thing. Because nothing could be out of place in the photographs I put them somewhere to get them out of the way. However, when the photo session was over and the photographer left I couldn't remember where that was.

An hour later when Hubby Tony got home from work we packed the car and left for our yearly couple's retreat. On Sunday when we got back I wanted to wear my comfy flip flops, but they were still missing. As the day wore on I went from checking in obvious places like the closets, to peeking under furniture, looking in between the couch cushions, and even peering into a trash can. No luck.

This morning I opened one of the cabinets above my desk. Those missing flip flops were tucked on a shelf in between two magazine holders. Right where I had put them.

Five years ago today: As Seen On The Way To Work Today....

Friday, October 4, 2019

"I'm Ready For My Closeup, Mr. DeMille"

Our house sale process continues to inch forward. Today we had a real estate photographer come to take the listing photos that will show up on the internet websites.

For the past month we've been decluttering and depersonalizing the house, but now it was time to kick the straightening into high gear. The realtor had given us some helpful tips. The first, of course, was to make sure that everything was clean and sparkled. Others I wouldn't have thought of, like flipping over every bedspread that had a plain side, and tucking our bedside clocks under the bed.

Yesterday I cleaned all the soap scum off the master bathroom shower doors. It looked so pristine that I decided not to use it until after the photographer was done. In the meantime I temporarily stored my towel in one of my dresser drawers.

I hid the trash cans and all of our personal care items in the bathroom, took everything off the laundry room shelves and stored it temporarily in the garage, dusted all the wood surfaces one last time, and used a damp rag on any other surface. I swept the front porch and sidewalk up to the house.

I took everything off the counters in the kitchen. Some things that are less essential (like the banana holder, the coffee grinder, and the electric tea kettle) will stay put away unless needed. Others, like the coffee maker, were back on the counter 2 minutes after the photographer left.

When the photographer arrived she walked from room to room, using a laser ruler to measure the size of each. Next she turned on all the lights and took multiple shots of each room from different angles. When she was done with her camera, she walked through with a video camera. For her last step, she went outside and used a drone to take photos of the property.

It will take her 48 hours to edit the photos and pass them on to the realtor. On Monday the photos will be published and our listing will "go live", which is both exciting and scary at the same time.

Five years ago today: Cinnamonny

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Just Me, Myself, And I

So, the last time we chatted I was getting ready for a mini work and vacation adventure. It turned out to be wonderful.

I got in late Monday night (actually Tuesday morning), but the perky hotel front desk employee gave me a big smile and an enthusiastic greeting. When I got to my room I changed into my pajamas, quickly brushed my teeth, and collapsed into bed. The next morning I took advantage of the free hotel breakfast for a quick meal, then went back to the room to fire up my computer to do my work reporting. By lunchtime I was done, and had until Wednesday night to do what I wanted, when I wanted to.

Even though the area was having the same record-setting heat I left back at home, I found that it wasn't too bad in the shade, so I planned my route to walk on the shady side of the street. I was the master of my itinerary. I visited some cultural institutions, and took the tourist trolley from one end of its route to the other.

It was fun being the master of my itinerary. I could approach someone standing on the sidewalk to ask for restaurant recommendations, or take as much time as I wanted Yelping places to eat, or pop into a coffee shop on the spur of the moment. Without a companion to chat with I was able to spend as much time as I wanted people watching. When I got tired I went back to my hotel room to hog the entire king sized bed, watch TV, read, and do crossword puzzles. In the evenings I had Me Time. I took a bath in the surprising large hotel tub, deep conditioned my hair, and gave my feet some long-overdue attention.

Hubby Tony kept in contact via text and phone calls. I shared photos of my meals, and he told me what he was up to. However, as much fun as my brief time away was, when it was time to leave I was more than ready. However, I can't wait for the next similar opportunity that may come my way.

Five years ago today: I Quit!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

WHY Is It So Hot?

At this time of the year, the high temperatures in my area typically average around 80° F. This month Mother Nature didn't get the memo. Every day has been warmer than average. On Friday the high of 92° actually set a new record.  So much for thinking about switching into Fall mode!

Tomorrow I'm going out of town for a couple of days, combining a little work with a mini-vacation. I was looking forward to walking around in the area I'm visiting, but since they're having the same hot weather I'll probably just settle for taking advantage of the amenities of my air-conditioned hotel or heading to a local mall...neither of which appeal to me.

Five years ago today: Internationally

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Looks Can Be Deceiving

The other day I received an official-looking envelope in the mail that warned me DO NOT DESTROY, because this was an OFFICIAL DOCUMENT. Inside was a large piece of paper titled the 2019 Congressional District Census, and a letter indicating the mailing had been commissioned by the Republican Party.

I am a regular voter, but I've never aligned myself with any political party, and I value my independence. My area leans Republican, so I suppose the mailing honchos thought they were safe sending these out randomly. The documents told me that "My participation was urgently needed" to "build a nationwide grassroots network that will help show the President has the support of the American people". Pretty partisan stuff.

Not being part of the survey's target market, my first inclination was to immediately toss it in the recycling bin. However, I decided it would be fun to share my opinions (even if much of them didn't completely match what the group was hoping for).

The Census had five sections. First, it started with some basic information, like my political affiliation, how much I supported the President, and where I got my political news. Next it asked questions about General Issues, Domestic Issues, and National Defense. All of the questions were posed in a pro-President manner. The fifth section asked me to certify if the answers to the questions were really what I thought, and if I wanted to send a donation.

At that point I wondered if they even cared about the answers to the questions, or just cashed the checks and moved on. Snopes said that both parties do this, and the practice of sending out a fundraising mailer disguised as a survey is so common it's referred to as Fund-Raising Under the Guise of Research, or FRUGing. Based on that information it wasn't worth it to me to waste the money on a stamp to express my opinions to the Republican Party. I followed through on my first inclination and tossed the whole thing in the recycling bin.

Five years ago today: Chocolate Milk With A Twist

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Childhood Clutter Clearing

It took most of the day yesterday, but the new carpet installation was finally complete. When the workmen packed up their things and left both the cats and I were relieved. It was wonderful to be able to walk around the house without feeling like I was disturbing a workman, and I may or may not have done a little dance in the newly-straightened kitchen as I cooked dinner.

Today the handyman company came back to see if the closet doors needed to be adjusted on top of the fluffier flooring. About the time he left another special visitor arrived. Son Tony was in town to attend a work conference that started at noon today, but he flew in from Dallas last night to spend some time with his friends. One of them dropped him off here, and I took him to his hotel a couple of hours later.

Since Hubby Tony and I don't know how much storage we'll have in our new house, Son Tony's big task was to cull through his collection of childhood and teenage mementos, which we've stored for him in the basement and the closet of his old room since he left home.

To make the job easier, Hubby Tony and I carried everything into the kitchen last night. After Son Tony walked in we exchanged pleasantries, then he opened the first box and got down to work. I watched him excavate school and sports logo shirts, high school buzz books, plastic trophy sports awards, and some miscellaneous tchotchkes. A second box held mementos from Scout camping trips, Troop activities, and his Eagle project and ceremony.

Tony ran out of time before he made it through all of the boxes, but in the end he decided he could get rid of a banana box full of memories. He brought an extra suitcase to carry some of the things home. When he left it contained his high school yearbooks, several t-shirts, and a box of baseball cards. With my permission, he left two boxes here to retrieve at a later date.

Five years ago today: Who Can Understand The Mind Of A Cat?

Monday, September 23, 2019

Adventures In Flexibility

The last big piece of getting our house ready to go on the market is new carpet. A crew of three installers arrived yesterday morning to complete the job. They removed all the doors from their hinges, then crammed the majority of the furniture from three of the bedrooms into the fourth. The overflow went into the master bathroom. After unplugging my beloved internet connection they moved the living and family room furniture into the dining room and kitchen, which turned into a maze of tables, chairs, couches and entertainment center pieces.

I wanted to stay out of the crew's way, and that pretty much meant staying in the kitchen. Without the ability to do anything online I cleaned up my computer hard drive, ultimately removing more than 2,000 obsolete photos and files. Hubby Tony picked up some carryout Chinese for dinner. We still ate at the kitchen table. It was just pushed over to the preparation side of the room, right next to the dishwasher. The slight change made the meal feel like an adventure.

Our installation crew worked at a steady pace, but we knew in advance the job was going to take two days. At the end of the day the crew leader told me that two of the four bedrooms were done (neither of which was the master), and asked if Tony and I would mind sleeping in those. We agreed.

Tony had to leave for a meeting, but as soon as the installation company vans had left the driveway I found the cable box and router and re-connected the internet, placing the equipment on the floor. There was no seating in the family room, so I went back into the kitchen and settled down into 'my' end of the couch. When Tony got home he sat at 'his' end of the couch, which made the whole thing feel more normal.

At bed time I started to gather everything I would need for the morning, starting with a set of clothes, and discovered that my dresser was inaccessible. However, the tub containing my travel clothes was, so I pulled out what I needed from there. I also discovered that my toothbrush was in the master bathroom, buried behind a cedar chest and some closet doors. I figured one night without good dental hygiene wouldn't make my teeth fall out, so I put toothpaste on my finger and 'brushed', then took a swig of water and swished the foam around my mouth. I followed up with a swig of hydrogen peroxide to kill any remaining bacteria.

After Tony and I retired to our separate rooms we texted back and forth a bit, which made me feel like I was back at camp and breaking the lights out rule. When I didn't get a reply to my last message, I decided it was time to hit the hay. The installation crew was going to be at the house bright and early to finish up the job. Thank goodness.

Five years ago today: A Bite Of A Bell

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Life Lessons For Aging

A friend sent me these pearls of wisdom...thought I'd pass them on.
  • It's time to use the money you saved up. Don’t just keep it for those who may have no notion of the sacrifices you made to get it. Remember there is nothing more dangerous than a son or daughter-in-law with big ideas for your hard-earned capital. Warning: This is also a bad time for investments, even if it seems wonderful or fool-proof. They only bring problems and worries. This is a time for you to enjoy some peace and quiet.
  • Stop worrying about the financial situation of your children and grandchildren, and don’t feel bad spending your money on yourself. You’ve taken care of them for many years, and you’ve taught them what you could. You gave them an education, food, shelter and support. The responsibility is now theirs to earn their own money.
    • Keep a healthy life, without great physical effort. Do moderate exercise (like walking every day), eat well and get your sleep. It’s easy to become sick, and it gets harder to remain healthy. That is why you need to keep yourself in good shape and be aware of your medical and physical needs. Keep in touch with your doctor, do tests even when you’re feeling well. Stay informed.
    • Always buy the best, most beautiful items for your significant other. The key goal is to enjoy your money with your partner. One day one of you will miss the other, and the money will not provide any comfort then. Enjoy it together
    • Don’t stress over the little things. You’ve already overcome so much in your life.You have good memories and bad ones, but the important thing is the present. Don’t let the past drag you down and don’t let the future frighten you. Feel good in the now. Small issues will soon be forgotten.
    • Regardless of age, always keep love alive. Love your partner, love life, love your family, love your neighbor and remember: “A man is not old as long as he has intelligence and affection.”
    • Be proud, both inside and out. Don’t stop going to your hair salon or barber, do your nails, go to the dermatologist and the dentist, and keep your perfumes and creams well stocked. When you are well-maintained on the outside it seeps in, making you feel proud and strong.
    • Don’t lose sight of fashion trends for your age, but keep your own sense of style. There’s nothing worse than an older person trying to wear the current fashion among youngsters. You’ve developed your own sense of what looks good on you – keep it and be proud of it. It’s part of who you are.
    • ALWAYS stay up-to-date. Read newspapers. Watch the news. Go online and read what people are saying. Make sure you have an active email account and try to use some of those social networks. You’ll be surprised what old friends you’ll meet. Keeping in touch with what is going on and with the people you know is important at any age.
    • Respect the younger generation and their opinions. They may not have the same ideals as you, but they are the future, and will take the world in their direction. Give advice, not criticism, and try to remind them that yesterday’s wisdom still applies today.
    • Never use the phrase: “In my time.” Your time is now. As long as you’re alive, you are part of this time. You may have been younger, but you are still you now, having fun and enjoying life.
    • Some people embrace their golden years, while others become bitter and surly. Life is too short to waste your days on the latter. Spend your time with positive, cheerful people. It’ll rub off on you, and your days will seem that much better. Spending your time with bitter people will make you older and harder to be around.
    • Do not surrender to the temptation of living with your children or grandchildren if you have a financial choice. Sure, being surrounded by family sounds great, but we all need our privacy. They need theirs and you need yours. If you’ve lost your partner (our deepest condolences), then find a person to move in with you and help out. Even then, do so only if you feel you really need the help or do not want to live alone.
    • Don’t abandon your hobbies. If you don’t have any, make new ones. You can travel, hike, cook, read, dance. You can adopt a cat or a dog, grow a garden, play cards, checkers, chess, dominoes, or golf. You can paint, volunteer or just collect certain items. Find something you like and spend some real time having fun with it.
    • Even if you don’t feel like it, try to accept invitations. Baptisms, graduations, birthdays, weddings, or conferences. Try to go. Get out of the house, meet people you haven’t seen in a while, experience something new (or something old). But don’t get upset when you’re not invited. Some events are limited by resources, and not everyone can be hosted. The important thing is to leave the house from time to time. Go to museums, go walk through a field. Get out there.
    • Be a conversationalist. Talk less and listen more. Some people go on and on about the past, not caring if their listeners are really interested. That’s a great way of reducing their desire to speak with you. Listen first and answer questions, but don’t go off into long stories unless asked to. Speak in courteous tones and try not to complain or criticize too much unless you really need to. Try to accept situations as they are. Everyone is going through the same things, and people have a low tolerance for hearing complaints. Always find some good things to say as well.
    • Pain and discomfort go hand in hand with getting older. Try not to dwell on them, but accept them as a part of the cycle of life we’re all going through. Try to minimize them in your mind. They are not who you are, they are something that life added to you. If they become your entire focus, you lose sight of the person you used to be.
    • If you’ve been offended by someone - forgive them. If you’ve offended someone - apologize. Don’t drag around resentment with you. It only serves to make you sad and bitter. It doesn’t matter who was right. Someone once said: “Holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Don’t take that poison. Forgive, forget, and move on with your life.
    • If you have a strong belief, savor it. But don’t waste your time trying to convince others. They will make their own choices no matter what you tell them, and it will only bring you frustration. Live your faith and set an example. Live true to your beliefs and let that memory sway them.
    • Laugh. A LOT. Laugh at everything. Remember, you are one of the lucky ones. You managed to have a life, a long one. Many never get to this age, never get to experience a full life. But you did. So what’s not to laugh about? Find the humor in your situation.
    • Take no notice of what others say about you and even less notice of what they might be thinking. They’ll do it anyway, and you should have pride in yourself and what you’ve achieved. Let them talk and don’t worry. They have no idea about your history, your memories and the life you’ve lived so far. There’s still much to be written, so get busy writing and don’t waste time thinking about what others might think. Now is the time to be at rest, at peace and as happy as you can be!
    Five years ago today: Where Do I Start?