Hey, Who’s Craig?

moving

Ten things I learned while trying to sell stuff on craigslist:

  1. Nobody wants your damn 1990’s armoire/entertainment cabinets. They may be  limited production La-Dee-Dah brand, made by free-range leprechauns using extinct, hand-massaged mahogany and unicorn horns, but they are worth … nothing. No one can fit his seven-foot television inside, and, well, it’s not Ikea.
  2. The first person to say they want your item will schedule a pick up, then never show. The next seven people, who were so hyper-excited about said item you momentarily worried about their mental health, don’t want it now that they can have it.
  3. The damaged, weird stuff sells. The normal, good condition things don’t. If you have a nice coffee table, forget it. A pile of left-footed socks, XXL, neon green and orange striped, with only minimal holes … SOLD!
  4. People love to bargain. There is a point you get to where you would rather go out onto your driveway and smash said item instead of selling it for the two dollars offered.
  5. Much like catfishing in the dating world, you have to wonder if some people get off by luring you in with promises, stringing you along, and never actually doing anything other than clogging your e-mail and eventually ghosting you.
  6. Old English polish is to furniture what make-up and facelifts are to humans. It can cover up stuff for a while, and make you look a bit better and more appealing, but underneath you are still old, scratched and dented, and eventually the truth surfaces.
  7.  I won’t ever again be a “stuff” person. My next move, I’m selling the house furnished, no take-backs, and leaving with only my clothes, my dog, and maybe my husband ( if our marriage survives our current move).
  8. If I had it to do all over again, I would buy much less stuff, and use all that extra money for more vacations!
  9. My kids should be eternally grateful that we are moving and downsizing in our fifties. They will never have to go through three generations of crap from a house lived in for fifty plus years owned by depression-era people who never, ever, threw anything away! (You can pay me back by making cute grandbabies someday.)
  10. There is a lesson to be learned by reaping approximately $137.53 for stuff that originally cost you thousands, if you are smart enough to perceive it.

 

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Posted in Elderly parents, Family, Funny, Marriage, Shopping, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Look, Up In the Sky …

discovery

I don’t mean to brag, but my husband has a giant telescope.

Space, and stars, and all things astronomical are a huge hobby. Did you know there is even a NASA television station? I have caught him watching many times, and it generally consists of “beep” “boop” and an occasional floating guy popping floating stuff into his mouth.

I think we all have a small roster of people whom we admire greatly from afar, and predict we would be at least tongue-tied, if not outright loony, if we were to actually meet  in person.

Some may crush on actors.  Others admire sports figures, or singers, or even politicians. My list includes Lester Holt, Dave Berry and Malala Yousafzai, but I have always been a bit weird.

We recently returned from another trip to our soon-to-be permanent home, Estes Park, Colorado. In off-season, this is a sleepy little town of around 6,000 people, many retired, the average age is 51 years old. Summers are a different story, with 4.5 million visitors per year passing through this gateway town into Rocky Mountain National Park.  If you need me during these months, you can find me sitting above it all on my deck.

It’s certainly no Aspen, Vail, or even Boulder, and the locals like it this way. People are laid-back, friendly and welcoming. In fact, in the many, many visits over the years, I have yet to see someone wearing a tie or sporting an attitude.

People come to live here for various reasons, but all seem to share an intense love of the mountains and a great appreciation for nature. You are much more likely to be asked, “Where did you hike today?” or “What kind of dog is that?” than “What do (did) you do for a living?”

But, as in all small towns, the locals get to know each other.

During our last visit, some new neighbors joined us for dinner. They seemed to be acquainted with almost everyone in the restaurant. A few couples came by the table to chat.

One particular couple caught my immediate interest, as I learned they were both from small towns in Iowa, as is my Dad. In my book, this immediately qualifies them as “good folk” and people I would like to get to know.

I knew my first impression was correct when the husband gently sought out his wife’s hand as he proudly informed us that the next day was their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

After they left, our neighbors filled us in on the couple’s background. I watched as Hub’s facial expression changed from polite attention to rapture. His usual smile was usurped by the goofiest grin I have ever seen, and his eyes became, dare I say, a bit dewy.

It seems our new friend was a retired Air Force Colonel, cool enough. Then we learned that he had flown three space missions and, the thing that flipped Hubs over from rational human to possible stalker, the commander of the space shuttle that launched the Hubble telescope!

Now, to me, this is about as exciting as the Super Bowl, by which I mean I understand others’ interests in it, but it doesn’t do much for me personally.

I’m much happier with the validation of our choice of residence. After all, this astronaut has seen the whole world from a perspective that few are privileged to experience, and he chose to live in Estes Park.

So to our future townsfolk,  I promise I will keep Hubs on a short tether when he inevitably meets up with his idol again.  Despite appearances, he is really quite harmless; think of him more like an excited puppy.

Posted in Crazy Relatives, Estes Park, Family, Funny, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Singin’ in the Rain

moses

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is snuggling down in front of the fire with the family,* sipping wine and watching some of our most beloved movies. Fortunately for me, this intimate group is overpopulated by nerds, and we love us some old musicals.

Tops on the list included Mame, Holiday Inn, High Society and Singin’ in the Rain. We can quote word for word, and often do. Bad sing-alongs break out, until the dog starts barking, or the one of us with the good musical ear calls a cease-fire.

Last night was a bit of Singin’. Of course no one would have the audacity to debate me about the best part of the movie … it’s certainly “Moses Supposes His Toeses are Roses.” But the most famous scene is, of course, the movie’s namesake. Gene Kelly’s joyful, playful, funny and astounding dance on water is iconic. (Rumor has it he performed it with a fever of 103 degrees, yes, I am that big of a ridiculous fan.) The exuberant celebration of life, love and infinite possibilities in that scene puts a silly grin on my face, and makes my snarky heart all melty, at least for a moment or two.

I turned to Hubs during that number and asked, “So when did you feel that feeling this year?” It was a great question to be explored, if Son 1 was not there with an eye roll and a shush. I put it on the back burner to pull out at a later date, most likely when dining out, to avoid being one of those “we’ve been married forever, so we don’t talk to each other when we eat” couples.

So here are my top three Singin’ in the Rain moments from 2017:

The solar eclipse. Here’s my blog about it, if you are interested, although there are really no words to adequately describe this awe-inspiring event. I quickly called Son 1, who only had a partial view, and told him he needed to put seeing a total eclipse of the sun on his life list.

Touring Catholic University’s basilica in Washington, D.C., on Easter weekend. It was decorated with thousands of Easter lilies, and we happened upon the choir practicing for service. It was spine-tinglingly beautiful in every respect. Click here to read more about the fun adventures on this trip.

The sunset viewed from Shirley Heights, a cliff at the highest point of the Caribbean island of Antigua. It’s tradition for everyone to gather here on Sunday evenings to enjoy music, food, drinks and the sunset. Locals and tourists from all over the world share tables and sitting areas, talking and laughing while watching the phenomenal canvas of nature come alive. We were travelling with some of our dearest friends, and I had that “I’m so lucky to be able to experience this” feeling that makes me so thankful for my life.

There were other, perhaps smaller moments, maybe more of a shuffled tap step or two … wonderful “best date weekend EVER” visits to Estes Park, Colorado, to watch our dream house come into reality, dinners with friends, laughing and reminiscing; holiday dinners with family; sharing the joy in our children’s successes; quiet nights at home, getting lost in a great book.

So … I know we all had set-backs, challenges and many levels of heartbreak this year. Life is never an easy ride. But I like to think our walk together on this earth is more of a group effort, instead of a competition. I would  love to hear about the Singin’ in the Rain moments you experienced this year. Please leave a comment if so inclined.

My new year’s resolution for 2018: Seek out at least one toe-tapping moment every day.

*Son 2 would like it to be noted he does NOT voluntarily participate in these family gatherings. He is currently investigating the possibility that he was adopted.

Posted in Crazy Relatives, Family, Funny, Marriage, movies, Solar eclipse, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Cookies, Colds and Crap

dog flu

You don’t get a cold from being cold. Germs, people!

There is so much to worry about in our world right now; world leaders who thrive on stirring the pot, escalating tensions in North Korea and the Middle East, crime waves, global warming, healthcare … so let’s talk about the weather.

Recently I have been spending a great deal of time in the kitchen, cooking up copious amounts of holiday treats with varying degrees of success. Luckily for me, I had many choices of entertainment while I waited for my cookies to burn.

My first level of diversion was a television mounted under my kitchen cabinet. Ah, morning television, just about the best holiday mind candy available, excluding the Hallmark Channel and their extremely, blindingly white Christmases.

I refuse to watch the hour of the Today Show that features Megyn Kelly, for many reasons, not the least of which is this …

Megyn

I cannot think of the name of the show I turned to, Good Morning Today Live? But it features Kelly Lee Ripa. There were many thought-provoking discussions, highlighted by a rant where Kelly Lee chastised some moms and their parenting skills for letting their children run around in shorts, in winter, in the cold. This, of course, will make them sick!

I decided to tune out Kelly Lee and go to my favorite news source (or fake news source, if that is your political persuasion), the Washington Post. Here I read an opinion column where the writer was lamenting the tragedy of her grade-school children refusing to wear coats! Shocking!

Okay, I’m old, my kids are grown. Whatever damage I inflicted cannot be undone. I’ll confess to some horrible things, and take credit for the awful men they have become.

First, when Son 1 was in fourth grade, he decided he was going to wear shorts every day to school. I don’t know why he set this goal, the significance to him or the reasoning, but  it was one of the least eyebrow-raising things he did in a day, so whatever.

He made it all the way through until the middle of February, when he finally donned some trousers. His teacher high-fived him for a job well done as his pants-less journey came to its illogical conclusion.

My second son lost coats (and everything else not stapled to him) daily. Sometimes we could recover them on the playground or at various lost and founds, but oftentimes not. I would beg, borrow and cajole more coats from friends, family and neighbors, but after the first six or so times, I would NOT buy him another coat. He often went to school without one. I wanted to teach him to be more responsible. He wasn’t; he just lost his backpack, instead.

Honestly the shorts and no coat thing wouldn’t even merit a mention on my terrible parenting list. I think it must have been, at the very least, a bit entertaining to have a rather unconventional mom like me who, when confronted with pretty strong evidence that one son was smoking, said “I would be very disappointed if you are smoking pot, but if it’s cigarettes, I’ll kill you.”

Kids sometimes make dumb choices. I believe in choosing your battles, and shorts, coats, hairstyles, etc. were never my call to arms.

My sons seem to have survived, and turned out fine. Okay, one is a D.C. lawyer, but that clearly is not my fault, and the other one is doing great!

 

 

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Never Say Never

SlapShot_311Pyxurz

A year ago I was thinking about things I wanted to do in my hometown before I move across country. I also pledged, in writing, that I would never again do a couple of activities very popular in my area. Well, I did one. Actually, I did this thing I said I would never do … twice.

It’s sort of like marrying your ex-husband, or truly believing that the next time you sip Madeira, it’s going to taste great!

So let’s discuss my relationship with hockey, and specifically the St. Louis Blues. My first introduction to the sport was through a closed bedroom door. My older brother would grab a bag of pretzels, lock himself in his room, turn up the radio, and scream, yell and throw things while listening to the Blues’ hockey games. Yes, hockey on radio, I am that old. It’s probably a good thing the games weren’t televised frequently, as this was before the helmet rule, and I remember the players did look a bit … rustic.

My first actual game was with said brother and my high school boyfriend. Boyfriend spent the whole game in the bathroom dealing with digestive issues. After the game, he accidentally stepping in front of a car leaving the parking lot, and brother, sick boyfriend and I got accosted, screamed at, cussed out and almost punched. It wasn’t until the driver got out of his car and saw the size of both brother and boyfriend, that he backed down. Good thing, as at the time boyfriend could probably only have achieved, at most, a defense vomit.

Second game was with soon-to-be husband. We went with friends. His friends. One proceeded to jump up at every goal or almost goal and spill his beer on the man in front of him. Frequently. Fists would have flown, but Hubs has a way, so a free beer or two was presented and feelings were assuaged. One other friend, meek and mild, decided this was the night to finally let his crazy out. We had to carry him home. Fun times.

The first hockey game to void my above printed promise was last season. I was guilted into it by Son 2, as he knows I will do anything for love. “Please, Mom? It will be fun!” It wasn’t. Truth be told, it wasn’t awful, just expensively boring. He wouldn’t even let me sneak my Kindle into the game.

So, of course, I had to go one more time. This past Saturday, as a birthday present to Hubs from our sons, our family attended the Blue’s hockey game against some team from Minnesota that is not the North Stars, which is what I remember from listening to my brother listen back in the 1970’s. Minnesota Wild? What kind of a name is that? Shouldn’t it at least be Wilds, plural? Like the Blues? This did give me something to ponder while in attendance of said game.

Much excitement was had in the first period as there was an extended fight! Oh, yay! I did wonder why, unlike other sports, the refs seem to ignore and let the fight play out. Son 2 assured me afterward that it wasn’t a “real” fight because there was no blood.

I did enjoy watching the Zamboni clean the ice between periods. I am not sure what that says about me, except I know a touch of Italian, and if it ends with an “i,” it’s plural. Are you listening, Panera Bread and your panini references?

As the game went on, the Blues were winning. A bubbly, Nordic-looking Minnesota fan was sitting behind us. She is a season ticket holder for the Wild (Wilds?) and had traveled with girlfriends down to St. Louis to see the game. As an aside, eavesdropping is also a good way to entertain yourself at sporting events that don’t interest you.

Anyway, the Wild(s) finally scored, and she was excited. She jumped up and proceeded to spill her still very full beer all down my back. In her defense, she was very apologetic. It was actually a quite refreshing jolt out of my grammatical reveries. In my experience, this is not at all an unexpected turn of events at a hockey game. It would be like complaining it was too wet while swimming. And I could not be upset by an unintentional spill from a friendly seatmate. Plus, she was viking size, and I was a bit intimidated, so, no worries! Bonus: I was wearing Hub’s jersey, not my own clothes, because that is my sense of humor when doing things I don’t want to do; I go all in.

So the game finally ended. The Blues won, I think. I won’t be going to another game. I promise …

 

 

 

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Boxes of Boxes

afghan

I am not a “stuff” person. Hubs and I have surprisingly little amounts of boxed treasures or doodads, displayed or hidden. Our decorative taste can best be described as minimalist. This has been an intentional decision, a continual process of de-cluttering after cleaning out our parents’ residences. My parents not only kept everything from their lifetime, but also their parents, as well. Their garage was filled with wall-to-wall filing cabinets from my grandfather’s lifelong insurance business. Mom was a worshipped only child, with the mounds of childhood photos, mementos and riff raff  to prove it. She also was a big shopper, and never got rid of anything. She had four large closets bulging with clothes, more in the basement, and a footwear collection that boggled, including multiple pairs of the same shoes. My father kept every bit of paperwork from his forty-year business … all now stored in the basement. My sister and I spent three months of daily clean-out to get the house ready to sell.

My father-in-law’s hoarding was a bit different. He was more of a boxes of boxes and bags of bags type. It took the rental of two dumpsters to clear out his home.

Less is more for me. Once, my mother-in-law, a stellar shopper in her own right,  walked into my bedroom closet and asked, “Where do you keep the rest of your clothes?” “That’s it,” I answered. “They’re all right here.” I own about ten pairs of shoes, I wear maybe five. I have three purses, one for summer, one for winter, and one insulated one to store my frozen wash cloths when I attend St. Louis’ infamously hot outdoor summer theater. I guess I can get rid of that one.

Son 1 is completely moved out of the house, with just one large box of childhood treasures that I told him I can’t part with until he has a house and a spouse.

Son 2 is mostly moved out, but has left us the task of getting rid of the things he doesn’t want. Yes, I am keeping his “baby box” hostage, too.

As is true with everyone, our basement is the vacuum canister of our home’s flotsam. I discovered three still sealed boxes that we moved over from our first house, twenty-two years ago. One was filled with early 1990’s sweaters (think Cosby) and toddler clothes. The other two were mementos from my childhood.

I decided I needed to keep one box of my childhood memories, so I began sorting. It took me two days to wander down that lane. First tossed, letters from old boyfriends. After thirty plus years, I finally took Hubs off probation, so the letters seemed somewhat moot. Okay, I did keep the Christmas card from an old flame and his wife, their first year of married life, a sort of “screw you” missive that I still admire.

Out went a middle school slam book. This was an autograph book sent around to chums, who wrote, anonymously, whatever they wanted with no repercussions.  I like to think of it as the precursor to twitter. I really don’t need anyone’s help in pointing out my foibles; I am pretty good at it myself. Also out, various assorted programs from variety shows, singing concerts and other acts I barely remember, and boy-crazy notes from childhood friends that have drifted away over the years. Keep: angsty, self-obsessed, teenagery trip journals from various family vacations, and a few report cards and college essay exams, to remind myself I used to be smart.

I also have a collection of small, mostly ceramic horses that was a shrine to my childhood passion. I am saving a single representative. I’m keeping a horseshoe, as well, to put up at the entrance to our new house for good luck. The to-go box also includes my old, beat-up cowboy hat and remembrance cone and candle concoction from my favorite summer camp (just a few scant miles away from my new home). Pitch: ceramic things from my childhood dresser that hold no meaning; I’m not sure what all of them are …

I discovered six yellowed envelopes, filled with coins from different countries, from my grandparents’ world tour in the 1960’s. First, it amazes me that this small-town, rural, hardworking couple from Nowhere, Iowa, had the desire and chutzpah to undertake such a journey in their senior years. I also love that each envelope has the country’s name written on the outside, in my grandmother’s handwriting. It also brings back fond memories of my grandfather. I know each of my siblings and my cousins received the exact same envelopes, with the exact same coins, as he was nothing but fair. If distributing gifts, he not only would make sure all grandchildren got a Frisbee, but that we all got a RED Frisbee so there would be no favoritism or fighting. (He liked me best!) Keep.

Last is the eye-watering afghan from my childhood bedroom. My other grandmother let me pick out the colored yarn I wanted for my bedspread. She then made it for me, with no judgement or comment as to the color scheme. I hope she would be happy knowing that I have gracefully evolved towards a less-intrusive decorating palette.

Moving away from the comfort of a city you have lived in all your life is daunting. Moving from a home of twenty-two years is emotional. One of the hardest things to leave behind is the boys’ growth chart, from knee-high to over six feet, on the door frame of my pantry. But as I tell Son 1 (who is weirdly opposed to our move, although he lives in Washington, D.C., and I can guarantee will never move back to St. Louis) “A house is just a house, we are the family.”

I have known two families that lost everything in fires. It helps put into perspective that ultimately, stuff is just stuff. St. Louis has tornadoes, Colorado has wildfires, other places have hurricanes. There are no safety guarantees anywhere. Ultimately, the family in the house is the only thing that truly matters.*

I am so looking forward to starting a brand-new, exciting-but-scary adventure in the mountains. I have Hubs and my trusty canine companion by my side, and an extremely ugly afghan at the ready, should the need ever arise.

*And yes, family does include dogs, of course!

Posted in Crazy Relatives, dogs, Elderly parents, Family, Funny, Shopping, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Of Pot and Axe

Spongebob-quotes-I-smell-the-smelly-smell-of-something-that-smells-smelly

I get incensed when I read those click bait articles regarding 10 things older women should not wear, or 14 make-up don’ts for those over forty, acceptable hairstyles for older women, etc… This type of drivel is obviously (poorly) written by young girls who have no life experience. Growing old is an amazing privilege that not everyone receives, so I say, wear whatever you want, keep your old, tried and true hairstyle (if you want), use make-up your way or not at all. My motto has always been, with good hygiene, everyone is passably attractive. After that, it’s what’s on the inside that makes you beautiful … or not.

There is one issue, though, I would like to address, and it most frequently does apply to seniors.

We all know that as we age, our senses dull. We need glasses, the television volume creeps upwards, we add more spices to our food. Many of us also seem to lose our sense of smell.

Dear Perfume Lady,

Hi! You looked lovely last evening and seemed to be enjoying an amicable dinner out with someone you hold dear. I was trying to doing the same, one table over.

As per usual, as I entered the restaurant dining room I scanned for potential problems that could be avoided by strategic re-seating, if necessary. No unruly kids in sight, no over-imbibing soccer moms ramping up the volume, no obnoxious, pretentious “send it back” complainers … all seemed well.*

Then, my nose began to twitch, and itch. My eyes slightly watered as I searched for the source of the sickeningly sweet, cloying smell. I am still fifteen feet away from you in this small room. We are then seated at a table across from you. I quickly scan for an empty table as far away from you as possible, but there are none. But as your perfume has permeated every nook and cranny in this cozy space, there was really no escape, anyway.

I took a sip of my water, which tasted of flowers and an undertone of musk. We ordered wine, which also tasted floral, musky and off. Bread and humus? You guessed it, floral, weirdly flavored. By now, my head was starting to ache, but my nose was still acutely aware.

Our dinners arrived right at the time you were telling your partner an extremely exciting story, and were animatedly flinging your arms about. Oh, God, fresh waves. Instead of smelling enticing wafts of Italian seasonings and garlic, I smelled, just a wild guess, Obsession?

You were finished with your dinner before we were, and left. Your scent, however, did not, boosted by a fresh blast as you swung into your sweater.

Hubs and I decided at that moment that too much perfume/cologne goes under the accepted Universal Spouse Alert (USA) rules. The list is under continuous revision, but always includes alerts regarding stuff stuck in your teeth, gook on your face, toilet paper on the shoe, skirt bunched up in back, buttons unbuttoned, barn doors open. Each couple must develop their own covert signals. For hints, ours include a raised eyebrow and pointed looks, a napkin swipe to our own clean face, a finger pensively tapping a lip, or asking “Right now? That seems a little inappropriate,” with an accompanying look to exposed nether regions.

Please remember, however, not to confuse USA rules with the Oh, No, You Didn’t (ONYD)  list. Yes, tell me if I have lipstick on my teeth, no, don’t tell me my pants are too tight or my gray roots are showing. It’s a tricky tightrope, but most long-marrieds have figured out the dance.

I seldom wear perfume, myself. Remember, like lingerie, scents are for your own enjoyment, and maybe that of a very close loved one. Perfume is not a calling card to alert everyone in the vicinity that you have arrived. If you use the same brand day after day, year after year, your nose becomes immune.

My suggested application, spray into the air and then dash through it while wearing your birthday suit. You will most likely be in the acceptable smell zone, and it will greatly amuse anyone watching, including the dog.

But there is a universal truth: women my age are brave. So if you are a perfume aficionado, ask someone (preferably younger, more opinionated than nice) at work or a social situation if you are wearing too much perfume. Listen to their answer.

And please don’t wear perfume when:

Dining out

Any sort of wine tasting or food experience

Planes, trains and other tight, enclosed spaces

Thanks for listening, from all of us with noses. Especially those of us with truffle noses who can recognize the scent of marijuana mixed with teenage boy cologne a mile away, making one son’s journey into adulthood a bit more perilous.

*As an aside, Hubs warns that I am about one crabby rant away from becoming the “Hey, kids, get off of my lawn” guy.

Posted in Family, food, Funny, Marriage, rude people, teenagers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment