Saturday, November 22, 2014

But Don't Get Me That

Some people are impossible to buy gifts for - take my DH. Throughout the year I will try to make a mental list of items he has mentioned or I have noticed he needs. Inevitably by the time Christmas rolls around he has usually purchased each of these items himself. Or better yet, he has managed to tell me not to.

An example was last week we were shopping and happened upon this 96 piece socket set. Given 56 pieces of the last 96 piece socket set I gave him are MIA (never to be heard from again), I figured it was time to replace the entire set. As we stood there looking at the box of shiny things, (often I think he is a crow) he commented, "Now that is a nice set." 

To myself I said, "Check". I added that to my mental list of gifts for him - that so far had nothing on it.

In the next breath he added, "But don't get that for me for Christmas, I don't need it."

Yesterday we came upon a Digital Infrared Thermometer. I saw it first and made the fatal mistake of pointing it out to him. "Don't you need one of these?"

He picked it up, read the package, and put it in the buggy. "I do." Then he got on his cell phone did research to find out what was the best one for his needs, and decided he would order that one also. So much for that idea.

He has been wanting the software of the trails for all the National Parks to put on his GPS device. I have been paying close attention to see which of the various versions of the software he prefered. Then a day or two ago he was reading about one of them when he commented, "Now don't get this for me for Christmas. I haven't decided which one I want."

Christmas morning he will give me some thoughtful gift I never knew I needed (but really did). He has for 34 years. Christmas morning I will give him some lame present. Before I lament that everything I thought he wanted he either bought himself or told me not to buy, I can predict his reaction.  "If you had been paying attention there were several things I wanted."

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Historian, A Best Selling Author and I walk into an Arts Center

My first experience signing books did not make me feel like Patricia Cornwell. It also did not make me feel like giving up my day job. Wait what day job? I digress.

I was invited by the Arts Center in another town where my photography is sold to sign my books during their holiday open house. When they learned about my two books they were excited and said their audience could relate to them and they would be popular. I called a month or so ago to find out how many I should bring. 

"Well," Alex, the director, said, "Ken Burger [a very accomplished writer] sold over 60 last time he did a signing. But then again he has had three best sellers."

"Yes, but realistically, give me an idea."

After some hem and hawing, Alex suggested maybe 10-15 of each and then I could leave what was left at the center to be sold. I thought some and decided that the last thing I wanted was to completely humiliate myself by showing up with a stack of books and after an evening of a very well attended open house, leave with a stack of books.

So last night I walked in with a small bag containing a 7 copies of each - my idea of a happy medium. Full disclosure I had a large box of more in the car. Those were copies I planned to use as gifts and put in my gallery in town. 

When Alex showed me where to sit my stomach cramped when I saw I was stationed next to Ken Burger, the accomplished best selling author. (His book Baptised by Sweet Tea is a delightful read.) Great, talk about insult to injury. On the other side of Ken was a nice gentleman with his collection of guides and histories of local revolutionary battle grounds. What a group. Ken was most accommodating, of course what did he have to lose.

As soon as the doors opened the crowds poured in, which surprised me. This was a small southern town. But, then again there was free food and wine. Because of everyone's southern upbringing, they were forced to speak to me simply because I was sitting next to the hometown star, whom they all paid homage to. I was quick to stand, offer my hand, and introduce myself. The more polite ones asked about my books. The interested ones were actually engaged and asked questions.

One or two bought books and asked me to sign them. Then one lady walked up. "I need three sets and would you please sign one set each to Susan, Roseanne, and Skippy. That's S-K-I-P-P-Y." 

Whoa, I thought that's 8 out of 14 books. Meanwhile I felt for the history author. Everyone was very polite and spoke to him about everything but his books. Everyone who came in knew Ken. And overall he sold several books. Suddenly I realized I was down to 2 books and this nice lady was asking for two of my wedding books. I politely asked her to give me a second. I quickly went to the front of the center where my books were displayed and yanked a bunch of copies off the shelf.

The evening went on and the stack in front of me continued to slowly decrease. One lady came up, introduced herself as an English Lit professor at the local college. Then she said, "I have read your book. I like the way you write. The book is well done. I would like to buy one." I thanked she as she picked the book up. 

Another lady and her daughter approached the table and picked up the wedding book. "I'm a little late for this one. We just had her [referring to her daughter standing next to her] wedding." She looked at the title. "And I wore a blue dress." I quickly explained, as humorously as I could, the story of the blue dress. She chatted for a moment and put the book down. I wished her Happy Holidays and she and her daughter walked off. 

Later on I saw the mother and daughter in the book section of the center looking through the wedding book. And next thing I knew she was back at the table asking me to sign a book for her. I happily signed it and  thanked her for buying it.

It wasn't long before I found myself making my way to my car to fetch more copies. When all was said and done, I had books left over that the Arts Center could keep but I had none to take home. In the big scheme of things this was not much, but I was very surprised. I was so busy talking about my book I never saw if anyone purchased my photography, although several people commented about it. 

Everyone needs an evening like that to boost their moral. At least I did not humiliate myself sitting next to a best selling author. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Six Days of Christmas

One of the joys of Christmas is the family getting together. Since there only four of us, well five with our son-in-law and now six with our dear little granddaughter, planning this only involves the menu and whether we are going to have king crab legs or a standing rib roast (our family Christmas standards). The kids are home for Christmas eve and Christmas morning. 

For the first thirty years or so that I knew my DH, his family all got together Christmas Eve for their big family Christmas which was Norman Rockwell at its best. There were three generations (well four the first two years I was there), a huge meal, kids every where, a large tree, gifts, and a grand time. Then my DH's parents died and his siblings had their own grandchildren so that tradition ended. The family still gets together but it is on some other night during the holidays.

This year my DH wanted to know when my daughter and her family would be here. Actually he meant what time on Christmas eve would his granddaughter be here. My daughter had already told me they wanted to be at their home on Christmas day so I knew they would not be with us Christmas Eve or Christmas Day for that matter.

Then the round robin started. I needed to see what date suited my brother and his family (all I have left on my side) to get together for our "Christmas". I knew they would be trying to set a date with my sister-in-law's family. Wait, my Stepmother's family had not set a date for their holiday dinner. That would need to work around the calendars of her three daughters (and their husband's) as well as my brother and me. So I emailed my Stepmother. 

In the mean time my DH's family suggested the 25th or 26th for their dinner. This could take a while to come to rest given there were two generations here of  siblings, their in-laws, as well as their children and their in-laws. This is when charts and graphs come in. 

All along my daughter was coordinating with her husband's family for a date. Naturally he had brothers and sisters trying to work dates out with their significant others and their families. 

By the time everyone's calendar had been consulted, emails had been exchanged, and phone calls made, the dates of the 20th, 23th, and 26th were "penciled" in for various celebrations.  Once again, my DH asked, "So when are the children coming?" 

I realized after all this, with celebration plans made with my family, my step family, and my DH's family - nothing had been settled about Christmas Day. After all this fuss of trying to schedule family "Christmases" nothing was scheduled for Christmas Day. Oh the kids will be here sometime around the 24th, 25th or 26th. It will all work out. But should Christmas involve an electronic calendar with a reminder system. 

I guess I can be a child at heart - Christmas this year will start on the 20th and last until the 26th. With one caveat - there is nothing scheduled for the 25th. So there will be 6 days of Christmas.

Ah, but one must keep in mind the magi do not arrive until January 6 next year - remember the 12 days of Christmas. I cannot handle 17 days, magi or not. Even with yuletide spirit, there is only so much family I can take. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Blue Christmas

Pulling out the wrapping paper to wrap the several  Christmas gifts I have already bought (of which I am pretty proud of myself, thank you very much) I found everything I needed in two boxes. Gathering the extra bags, bows, spools of ribbon, paper, and tags and carefully packing them in the boxes with the extra wrapping paper last year paid off. Remembering where I put it was even better.

I have enough rolls of wrapping paper to last for a while, several seasons at least. For years I have feared running out of decent wrapping paper and prior to each season have bought additional rolls forgetting my supply on hand that was accumulating like tribbles on Star Trek. 

I am one of those women who on Christmas afternoon collects the used ribbon out of the pile of shredded wrapping paper. I carefully flatten it out (I used wired ribbon) and roll it up to be recycled for the following year. That stuff is expensive and why not re-use it after all then it is precut for certain size boxes. 

At least I do not require the family to carefully unwrap each package simply by cutting the tape so each sheet of wrapping paper can be ironed out to be reused it the following year. Don't laugh, I have a friend who does and Christmas morning becomes a little unpleasant with Mom constantly reminding everyone, "Remember don't tear the paper, I want to reuse it next year!" But I digress.

Tags are another issue. One year, I realized when I was collecting the ribbon that I could reuse the tags that were carefully tied on each, at least the ones from my DH and me to the children. Since I use the nice heavy card stock ones that tie on the package bows (or ribbon) with a small ribbon, they usually survive the melee of Christmas morning unscathed. But that idea only lasted one season.

The tags come in huge collections of cards in different sizes, decorated differently  - poinsettias, sleighs, pine cones, star flakes, ect. Each year I put the unused cards in a zip-loc bag. And each year I usually buy another set. You can never have enough tags.

Anywho, I found myself with my presents, my paper, my ribbon, and my tags. I wrapped the first gift. When I reached for a tag I decided not to open the new container of tags but go to the bag of those left over from years past. When I got the bag out. I realized why they were not used - they were all blue and silver. Who used blue wrapping paper? I did not think I could even use a blue snowflake gift tag on my next wedding present or boy shower gift. 

Well blue is the color of Hanukkah. That would make sense that there would be tags for Hanukkah presents. But why Christmas and Hanukkah tags together? Was this a statement that I needed to have more Jewish friends? Or perhaps that Jewish folks needed more Christian friends? The tags however were all secular in nature, just colored differently - most had red and green somewhere in the design and the others blue and silver. 

So now I had a bag with several dozen holiday gift tags in blue and silver. I doubt I could find (non Hanukkah) paper in blue and silver if I tried -even if I wanted to. Throwing out anything is against my constitution. I'm not sure this is a hoarding gene I got from my mother or that sentimental issue all southern women have - we are attached to anything we have ever had for more than 2 months. So I will carry on and add the blue and silver tags from the newest collection to the bag. 

Who knows blue and silver may come into vogue as holiday colors one day. After all my dear florist told us several years ago lime green and silver were the "in" colors that holiday season. I just don't see it. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Movie Review - Night Crawler

There are few characters that show little (or no) empathy for their fellow man. Even Hannibal Lector had a heart, albeit demented. Lou Bloom (played brilliantly by Jake Gyllenhaal) in Night Crawler  is another. In fact half way through the movie you begin to wonder if Bloom is missing not part, but all of that portion of the human brain that makes one feel for a fellow human. He comes across as calm and polite, but is really ruthless and psychotic. The story line is that Bloom is minor criminal looking for legitimate work. He stumbles upon a job as an independent photo journalist. And once he starts, nothing or no one will stop him from getting the story. He gets so involves he becomes part of the crime to get the story.

I cannot imagine the role being played by anyone any better than it is by Gyllenhaal. Rick Garcia does an excellent job playing his young side kick (also named Rick Garcia) who, unlike Bloom, has a conscious but finds himself involved in more than he signed up for.  But after that the casting falters. One of the other main characters, the news director of the TV station Nina is played by Rene Russo. In my humble opinion this was one of the weak spots in the film. This was a role of a professional woman forced to make a decision over her dignity or her career. Had a different actor played the role I think it would have improved the film.

All that said, that may not have saved the film. Night Crawler crawls. The story is interesting. Bloom's character is engaging. But I kept waiting for more, for a twist that never came, for a revelation that changed the story, for the ah ha moment. As we sped (literally) through the movie, chased the story, viewed blood and gore, witnessed shoot outs, and car crashes, I tired of the action and the drama and yearned for more story. 

The film had so much potential. It got rave reviews. After hearing the hype, I went in excited and anticipating a good movie. I came out tired and questioning what I missed. If there is a sequel, and the end left plenty of room for one, I'll save my $10.50. So close but no banana.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Living in the Reel World

There are a few "female" indulges I rarely get to enjoy. One of them are the cheesy (as my DH calls them) Christmas movies the Hallmark Channel runs every year. In seasons past I have been able to catch part of a few of these movies while I was cooking in the kitchen and my DH was elsewhere. If he were in ear shot I would have to hear about how "that kind of worthless trash" was wasting my time. Whatever. As far as I am concerned sometimes we all need to waste a little time and a few tears on trite stories about love and loss, family and friends, secret Santas and angels, and happy endings.

Then last weekend I was feeling lousy - feared the oncoming of the flu but luckily that was not the case. Anyway I ended up in bed for the better part of 36 hours. During that time I managed to watch parts of 6 or 7 of these holiday movies on the Hallmark channel (while I slept on and off). Escape is wonderful.

I quickly realized that there are several plot lines that all the stories pull from:

  • usually there is at least one single parent
  • a new love interest
  • chances are someone is going to lose their job
  • a parent, a former spouse, or a fiance has been killed in a tragic accident on either a past Christmas Eve or Christmas Day
  • just when you know the main character is going to chose the right person, fall in love, and life is going to turn around, a former love interest (with some fatal flaw - enough to make them a little evil) returns to foul up everything
  • some plots include an angel somewhere in the mix  - disguised as a normal person who randomly appears
  • there may be some iteration of Santa Claus either lost, needing help with Christmas (looking for the missing Christmas spirit), or watching out for the down at heart 
  • or there is a family member of Santa either in denial or trying to cope with the reality of it among us mere mortals
  • chances are someone will have a name like "Holly" or "Kris" or "Kringle" or "Claus"
  • but whatever, the good folks always win in the end, true love trumps all, the children get that impossible wish they wanted, and it always ends up snowing on Christmas
Yes they are "cheesy" and trite, but at least you know the ending is going to be good. 

These are not considered serious holiday movies in my book. And, no, these are not my favorite holiday movies by far. I still have fond memories of our first color TV set and the original claymation of "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" narrated by Burl Ives. We never watched "It's a Wonderful Life" as a child so I do not include that in my childhood repotroir. When the girls were young "Home Alone" was our family favorite and we watched it every season - at least once. Then Will Ferrell came through with "Elf" which trumps all as our family favorite.

From a personal standpoint, "Love Actually" is my favorite holiday movie and I have seen it enough times that even though I know most of the lines, it still entertains me every time I watch it. Coming in as a close second and third are "The Family Stone" and "The Holiday". 

So while our world may not be perfect, escape into the reel world does us all a little good. After all, for the holidays it is a wonderful life after all, even if it isn't OUR life that is so wonderfully perfect. At least we can live vicariously through others, trite or not.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Movie Review - Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

I was an English major in college and if there is one thing an English major can do it is recognize symbolism and literation. Stay with me here. Often when we read a book or see a film it is the back story, the symbolism, the underlying meaning that is the true story. All that said, Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was just noise to me. 

The plot (as IMDB describes it) is "A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory." The washed up actor, Riggan, played by Michael Keaton, seems to be possessed with (or actually more aptly by) some super natural powers. Emma Stone is almost unrecognizable in her role as Riggan's daughter, Sam. Other cast members include Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Jeremy Shamos, and Edward Norton which makes this all the more frustrating.

I found the first 35 minutes of the film just poor dialogue among a group of cast members trying to put on a Broadway play. It was frantic and dramatic - symbolizing nothing (to misquote Macbeth). And the genre of the movie is "comedy"? I missed the humor. I missed the plot. I never knew who the characters were because they were never introduced. It was if I had missed the first several key scenes or I was watching the second of a three part series without having had seen the first one. There were enough vague references, snarky comments, and loud exchanges to clue me in that there was some past history among the characters. 

The young man selling popcorn said it was the best movie he had seen this year. That led me to one of two conclusions: either he had only seen one movie or he and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to movies.

Bottom line - the movie sucks. Two regrets: that I wasted my time seeing it and that I wasted your time with the review of this worthless film.

A Covered Mantle

After some thought I punted the Elf theme for the mantle and went back to the drawing board. Plan B - gold trees and white snow with branches and bird nests. I made a plan and spent 2 days going from store to store buying the needed decor.

When I got home, I set it all up on the mantle for a trial run (knowing it could not be permanently installed until Thanksgiving). I was most happy with myself. The design was crisp, festive, elegant ,and incorporated nature (feathered birds) with the gold trees and white snow. I began taking it all down to store until it was time to "officially" put it up.

Then it dawned on me, we had discussed placing the Christmas tree in front of the fireplace this year. If we did that the mantle would be behind the tree and there would be no reason to decorate it. Needless to say all the work I had put into this was for naught. So now I had spent two days and the trips to four stores getting all of this together. So much for having a plan. Good thing I had enough sense to leave all the tags on the decorations and keep the receipts.

I then spent several painful hours returning all my purchases. One store specialized in (literally) 100's of 1000's items of small Christmas balls, rolls of ribbon, bows of garland, wreaths, anything glittered that will stand still, and trees in any theme or color from black to purple to white to the traditional red.  They had a rendition of Santa Claus and Reindeer in any size, style, make or model one can imagine. When I went to return the bag of items I had bought from the store they were happy to issue a refund. 

Unfortunately, they had yet to come into the 20th (or even the 19th century for that matter). Instead of being able to scan the bar code on each item, compare it to that on my sales receipt (which I had), the customer service rep had to go through each item, write the number down, look up the department and note it on a sheet of paper, organize each return by hand, add the prices up on a calculator, have me fill out a form including everything from my Drivers License number to address to the color and birth date of my dog (OK just kidding on that part). By the time I left I felt as if I had just walked out of Santa's workshop and had dealt with an elf sitting on a high stool using a quill pen.

The next store was the opposite experience. I had originally questioned the receipt they had issued me for the 35 items I bought. Instead of a long strip of paper listing each item by code and price with a total on the bottom, the cashier handed me a ticket no larger than 1 x 2 inches. The only things printed on this ticket were a single bar code and  the sum total of my purchases. I was suspect at best. The cashier assured me that was all I needed to return any or all my purchases to any of their stores for a full return. 

When I walked into that store's location in our town, I feared the worse. One has to remember our store in this chain is famous for having items with bar codes that do not match the prices on the shelf or better yet - bar codes that are not even recognized by the system. However when I handed the customer service my smaller than a lottery ticket size secret coded receipt and my large bags of purchased items, the girl did not flinch. In less than two minutes, she had processed my return of 34 of the 35 items. No long hand written form, no calculator, and no requirement of any additional information from me. was required.

The remainder of my returns went very well. In fact returning the items took a total of 30 minutes as opposed to the full day it took me to mull over, mutter to myself, pick-up, put down, pick out, and painfully finally come to rest on each and every item. What a waste of my time and energy. I may have questioned the theme of my mantle design, however, there was one thing I was sure of: now there was going to be a damn tree in front of the mantle. And, if not, our mantle would be bare - in nothing else than just in protest of my DH changing his mind.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Patient Pedestrian Postal Patrons

There is something about my walking into the post office that brings about a certain dynamic. It never fails. Yesterday I was in line several patrons behind an older lady buying money orders who had to go through her large purse to find the random piece of paper with the name and address she needed. Then once all that was done, the postal employee completed the transaction and told her how much it would cost. Then she acted totally surprised and had to, once again, go through her purse searching for money.

Next in line was a gentleman wanting stamps, not just any stamp but a certain type.  He kept making the postal employee retrieve additional sheets of stamps from the back until he finally was satisfied with a design.

By this time, a young lady (a diva no less) had approached the desk - ignoring the long line waiting to be served. As soon as the finicky stamp customer had been served she quickly approached the postal employee and sent him to the back on some mission. A minute or two a small letter was brought forth and given to the young lady, who turned on her heels, gave the rest of us pedestrian patrons patiently waiting in line a haughty glance and left.


Luckily the next two customers called to the desk moved through fairly quickly. Then came the little gray haired lady who did not comprehend the "security and restricted" question the postal employee is required to ask. (You know,'Does your package contain any nonmailable or undeclared hazardous materials such as: Aerosols, Lithium Batteries, Nail Polish, Perfumes containing alcohol, Pool Chemicals, Paints, Matches, Certain Glues, Live Animals, and Cremated Remains?')

"Well if you mean 'glue'? Then yes, I am afraid there is glue on the box. You see I am sending some of my homemade cookies to my granddaughter Mary Lou. She just loves my Snicker Drops. And I always make a special box for the cookies and of course I have to use glue on the box."


The postal worker assured her that no, that type of glue was not a problem and asked her how she wanted to send the box.

"Oh in the mail of course."

"Yes mamm, I understand that, but what service, First Class, Priority, Priority Over-night?"

"Oh they need to go overnight so they will be fresh when they arrive."

The employee measured the box, weighed it, and declared, "OK, that will cost you $32.42. Do you want the package insured?"

"$32? Why oh my? That seems a lot. I remember when a psotage stamp was 5 cents."

"Yes mamm, I understand. You know you could use one of our Flat Rate Boxes. I think the medium size box would work and that would only cost you $12.95. But you would have to use this box [she showed her the Flat Rate box] instead of the one you have now."

"How much is the box?"

"The $12.95 includes the cost of the box."

"Oh deary that will be nice." And she immediately started opening her box to transfer the contents. Before the employee could explain that the customer needed to do that on another counter so as not to hold up the line, she noticed a bottle of nail polish.

"Mamm, you cannot send that bottle of nail polish," the employee said pointing to the bottle.

"Oh, that is finger nail paint. And it is Rose Pink, it will look so good on Mary Lou. She has the prettiest rosy pink cheeks."

"Yes, mamm but that is on the list of restricted items."

That digressed into a "discussion" of the difference between finger nail paint and nail polish. I truly felt for the young postal employee, who by his response, I was pretty sure had never heard of 'finger nail paint'.

The young man behind of me asked, "Please tell me you don't collect stamps or are trying to slip restricted goods into a package. And for God's sake if you want a postal order please have the name and address ready," he laughed.

The lady behind him added, "And, remember don't be surprised if they asked you pay for your postage."

I just laughed and replied, "Trust me, I am prepared. My goal is to set a record once I get to the desk."

Another lady behind me laughed," My goal is to get to the desk."

[As a postscript, what I needed done I could not do on usps.com. Trust me, I do not go to the post office for kicks and giggles.]

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Colorful Decorations

In thinking about decorating the house this year, I thought it would nice to be more traditional and homie instead of trying to be so cosmopolitan and sophisticated. OK, my feeble attempts at those last two schemes have been laughable at best. 

Most homes' decorations "develop" over the decades. A few ornaments are added each year. Then after the kids get old enough, the mother decides she wants a "designer" tree, then all the popsicle ornaments are left in the attic along with the "Baby's First Christmas" and every other homemade ornament. The family room officially enters the "chic" years. Of course if Martha Stewart goes through a certain phase and deems it a "Good Thing" and Mom is of that ilk, then so be it because the Oracle of Ostentation said so.

Our house did not follow that usual track. There has been the ongoing argument about white lights (that I prefer) and colored ones (that my DH likes). I won that skirmish and we have had white lights for the past twenty five years or so. We have bounced around from theme to theme. Each year I tried to make things a little different, add a little flare. Sometimes it was well received and others not so much. The year I used tartan plaid and brass bugles went over fairly well. The peacock feathers - not so much.

One year there was such a fuss over which ornaments would be used, knowing I was out numbered, I selected certain ornaments, bought my own tree, white lights, and moved it into the living room. All the ornaments on my tree were either white or gold or of some celestial design. It was gorgeous, if I must say so myself. My family disagreed and said it was too fru fru. One of my daughters accused me of stealing all the "pretty" ornaments. The following year, I was told there would be only one tree. And so it was.

But I digress. Back to the matter at hand. In looking through the ornaments we have accumulated to go on the tree, I have selected the ones I think look best. They are not necessarily the fanciest or ones that match. And as the coup de grace, I think colored lights would look great. I know, say it ain't so. Now I just need to figure out how to get my DH to bring up the color versus white light argument so I can let him win. It just wouldn't be cotton for me to show my hand and admit I agree with him.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ignorance is Bliss

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. My DH made his first "Holiday Trip" to Costco. I knew he was picking up one particular gift but I was not aware of the breadth of the trip. Alert the press, it is official, the holidays are here.When he unloaded his car and I had a chance to survey the damage I was thrilled that there were no new Christmas lights in the mix. I took that to mean there would be no "discussions" over colored versus white, LED's versus traditional, large versus small, or worse yet - static versus blinking or "chasing". Perhaps there would peace on Earth - in our household. We could hope (or not).

After show and tell of "Look what I found." and "This was a great deal" and "I had never seen these before, aren't they great?", I surveyed the loot. He had remembered the bottle of Dawn, the ink cartridges for printers, and copy paper that were on the list. There was the extra large box of brownie mix (for the holidays) along with 2 large bags of pecans (1 for the brownies and 1 for my DH), new bulbs for the outdoor lights, a package of inexpensive paring knives, and 3 boxes of mixing bowls.

I questioned the mixing bowls and the knives, the other items were not so random given my DH's shopping habits. "Do we need these?"

"I can use the knives for my projects. You know how I am always using little knives outside."

"Yes, you mean my steak knives and serious paring knives?"

"I don't use your nice knives?"

"Then I guess the fairies move them out to the patio."

He quickly moved onto the 3 boxes of bowls. "Look at these bowls. They were a great deal. I've seen the same type in a professional chef's catalog before for much more. I thought they would make great gifts?"

"For whom?"

"Our oldest daughter?"

"Both daughters have plenty of bowls."

"You?"

"I don't have room for them."

"Well what about family gifts?"

"The only gifts left on the list are those for children."

"Hum," he said. "But they are such a great deal. You would never find these bowls that this price anywhere else."

"I agree. But so is that complicated European style clothes drying rack you have been trying to get me to buy for a year or two now. To hear you tell it, that thing would do everything from make toast to slice, dice, and make julianne fires."

I could tell by the look on his face that he did not appreciate my comments about the clothes drying rack. And worse yet, it may very well have already been purchased and just awaited the wrapping paper. "Well, you said the same thing about that expensive iron you got for Christmas a year or two ago. You didn't want it, would not buy it for 2 years and now you love it. You would not have it had I not given it to you for Christmas would you?"

"The bowls are nice but I don't know anyone we can give them to." As an aside, I added, "And the wooden drying rack I currently have works just fine."

"Sometimes you just don't know what is good for you."

"That may be true, but right now I do not need a clothes rack that requires instructions to set-up, any more bowls, additional Christmas lights, or a mini-van for that matter. I'm doing just fine in my ignorance."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Aging is in Your Head . . . and your aching bones . . .

"That will be $15," said the attendant in the ticket booth at the movies.

That didn't sound right. "Is this a matinee?"

"No, that is the cost for 2 senior adult tickets. Enjoy the show." I just smiled, thanked her, took the tickets, and moved to the side to make way for the next person in the long line.

"Problem?" my DH asked.

"Well the good news is that it only cost us $15 to see the movie today."

"And the bad news?"

"That is the price for seniors." And with that we went in to see the movie.

A week or so later when we were buying our tickets to the State Fair, the lady at the ticket counter said,"That is $7 for seniors." 

My husband just laughed and said, "We'll take it."

When my AARP card arrived the following week I shredded it with the daily pile of credit card applications I received. Secretly I wished I qualified for the "retired" part, but only old people were in AARP. Why was I getting something from them anyway. Maybe it was part of the mail I was still receiving for my mother.

Then this morning I awoke and it felt as if every bone in my body hurt. Come to think of it, I felt this way most mornings. I reached for my reading glasses so I could read the directions on the back of the pain medication bottle. When did the type on those bottles get so small? I checked my phone and my daughter had sent me a picture of our adorable granddaughter smiling in her crib. I was much too young to be a grandmother. (In my mind grandmothers were still at least in their 70's.)

I am not that old - even though I was born in the last century. When you put it that way, it sounds ancient. Gray, what gray? But if one hurts like them, is as blind as they are, and obviously must look like them, perhaps one must face reality that you have joined the ranks of the "Seniors". OK, but I still believe the 50's are the new 30's. That's my story and I am sticking with it - old bones, tired eyes, and a few wrinkles.

Friday, November 7, 2014

And, Why Am I Here?

ADHD runs in our family. I will not mention any names but it is so severe that a discussion about plans to clean the garage will often get side tracked by an unopened box on a shelf and suddenly we are searching for misplaced family photos in the guest bedroom closet. OK I exaggerate, but not by much - trust me.

Luckily I do not suffer from it - or so I thought.

In our kitchen I keep 5 or 6 plain white dinner plates that I use when I am cooking strictly for utility purposes. Stay with me here. They come in handy when I have fresh meat I have seasoned and it is ready to go in a pan or for large utensils that need a place to rest while I am cooking and do not fit in a regular spoon rest. If I have vegetables that I have sliced or diced on a cutting board and I need them by the stove to add to dish a little later or even as an informal platter when it is just the two of us, these plain plates do the job.

They are white so they do not get confused with my other sets of dinner ware which means when they come out of the dishwasher they go in the cabinet near the stove rather than the shelf with the dishes (which is on the other side of the room). They are cheap because they often get broken or chipped in their service which often goes beyond my needs (ie animal food prep, project use, ect.)

When I realized I was down to two white plates, knowing one bit the dust on the kitchen floor, one was found broken in the yard, and the third was mia - I needed new white plates. And I learned inexpensive plain ceramic white plates are not the easiest to find.

Yesterday in Columbia I stopped by a homegoods store and Voilà - white plates. Plain white ceramic plates for $1.99 each. Done and done, I bought four. As I made my way to the register at the front of the store I noticed the Christmas decorations.

Just this week I was considering a new theme for my mantel and there in front of me were these flocked grape vine cones that resembled trees. They would do nicely. And just next to them was a large tree done in a woodland theme. That would be be different. I spent about twenty minutes selecting cardinals, owls, and a few other "snowy" fowl as well as artificial flocked pine cones and berries. I was right proud of myself. My DH is very outdoorsy, this was definitely of that ilk, it was different, I was happy.

Once again I made my way to the register. Suddenly I was not as confident in my selection. Was it too "country"? Neither I nor my DH cared for "country". Then I saw a display of elegant gold cones and ribbon. That was more of what I had done in the past. Not that elegant gold quite matched finch cages, squirrel cages, and dog crates (that was much more in keeping with the woodland theme, no doubt) but it allowed me 4 or 5 weeks of the illusion that I live a civilized life.

I went back and replaced all the woodland decorations.

OK, now I had a gold theme. It was tasteful and elegant. I was more "in my box". So, once again I started toward the registers. At least I was getting closer. Wait, there was a display with a tree decorated with elves. Hum? That would be different, a little whimsy . . .

I am not ready for Christmas, what am I thinking? Why did I come in here anyway? Then I remembered - white plates, plain white plates. Oh, God, please tell me the disease is not contagious.