Snow Days

a kid looking out window

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Today I am grateful for snow days.  We didn’t have one, but we sure did plan for one.  I know many of you hate snow, but not me.  I love a good snow day as long as it happens during the day when I can watch; and as long as I don’t have to go anywhere; and especially since I no longer have to shovel off anything more than my car.  I have a lot of qualifiers.

 

We were prepared.  I did some grocery shopping and even made a COSTCO run days before the white Armageddon was expected.  If I knew anyone furloughed because of the stupid shutdown I’d invite them over to eat some of this food!

 

Since we’d be snowbound for at least a day, and iced in for maybe another day, Himself went to the hardware store to gather the things we’d need to finish up some long put off household projects.

 

We parked my car in the garage and his in the driveway because it’s shorter and easier to clean off than mine is.  We got the mail.  Himself checked to see if the outside water was turned off and brought up the large humidifier and cleaned it.  He changed the furnace filter.  I did some laundry in case the power went out and it got cold and all of my hoodies had last week’s lunch spilled on the front of them.  Gotta look good when your home, right?

 

I reupholstered the vanity stool where I place my computer when I’m not using it.  Then we both strong-armed a chair cover onto the recliner that was supposed to fit perfectly, but doesn’t.  Himself vacuumed up three years of debris from underneath it and spot cleaning the carpet.  We watched a couple of movies we had been saving for a snow day.

 

And we looked out the window.  And opened the door.  And looked out the window again.  I didn’t press my face to the glass because I paid to have my windows cleaned, but I got close enough to fog them with my breath.  I was ten years old hoping to miss school because of snow. We watched the TV weather, which cast gloom and doom over the entire country. . . as if it wasn’t already there for other reasons.

 

At eight o’clock it started to snow.  A little late, but here we go, I thought. YAY!  I turned on the back light to watch as much as possible.  The patio got covered and my heart soared.  “Isn’t that pretty?” I asked Himself, who grunted like a bulldog with a bone.  He’s not a fan of snow and cold weather is his worst enemy.

 

By nine it turned to rain.  Not even freezing rain.  Just plain rain, which is good, because freezing rain is so dangerous for everyone.  The snow that had fallen was soon gone.

“I feel so cheated,” I said to Himself, who was tolerating another movie when I’m sure all he wanted to do was go in the bedroom and watch sporting events.  Any sporting events.  Professional nose-picking would have amused him more than my movie choices.  “We didn’t get any snow at all!”

 

“Yeah,” he said.  “But at least we got a lot done.”  That’s true.  We still have to pack all of the Christmas stuff that’s laying in the basement in a mess and we have enough food.   We better get snow in the next few weeks or I’m going to have to go shopping again.  This one was a bust and I need a good snow day!  Before April.

 

 

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Perfume

a perfume atomizer

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Today I am grateful for perfume.  As long as it stays in the bottle. . .or the bedroom.  I have had a love/hate/love/hate/hate/hate relationship with perfume that goes back as far as my aging memory.

 

When I was a kid we had grandparents that lived an hour away.  A couple of times a year our folks would pile my sister and me into the back seat of whatever car dad was driving from the lot he worked at, but probably a 1958 Mercury Monterey and we’d head out on the two-lane highway for a visit.

 

Before we even got out of the driveway I was begging to have a window open.  My mom would shout, “Don’t open the window!  You’ll mess up my hair!”  Really? Can you mess up an Aqua Net sprayed football helmet?  So, no windows.

 

By the time we hit the highway dad was lighting up a Camel and mom a Belair menthol.  During this phase she’d open the wing-window so the smoke could go out.  As if.  Mom always liked and still does like strong perfume.  “To A Wild Rose,” by Avon was her favorite.  But she didn’t spritz a little bit behind her ears, or dab some on her wrist.  She spray painted herself in the stuff like she was a peeling barn door that needed priming.

 

So let’s re-cap.  An almost air-tight car.  The back seat.  Strong perfume.  Enough hair spray to kill insects and children.  Unfiltered cigarettes.  Menthol cigarettes.  And they wondered why I barfed!  “I don’t know why you always get sick when we go somewhere,” my mom would say to me as we walked along the highway, me carrying the Piggly Wiggly bag they always took along “just in case”.  I figure I logged about 400 miles in those days along the road and seriously would have rather walked all the way than be stuck in that car of stinks.

 

Invariably I was given front seat privileges, by the window, which I could crack about an eighth of an inch if it wasn’t winter or my mom would freeze.  Otherwise I had to stick my nose as close as I could get it to that wing window and hope dad didn’t hit the brake suddenly.  Yup, no seat belts, either, but that’s a good thing because it’s one less thing to think about when you are trying to make a projectile-puking exit in a still moving car.

 

The trauma continued well into my adult life. When Himself and I were first married his company wanted to use a perfume bottle as the potential design for a faucet handle.  They snapped for the vial and I got the contents.  At dinner during a weekend in Chicago, a fancy waiter said to me, “Madam.  Your Georgio smells terrific.”  I was impressed he knew the name and felt quite pleased with my sexy self.

 

Until the strong scent, which I had put on very sparingly, started to give me a headache. And made me nauseous.  I tried to push through, but when I started having visions of the back of that Mercury Monterey and seeing the highway beneath my feet carrying a soggy Piggly Wiggly bag, I made a bee-line to the ladies room and washed that perfume off before I wretched right into my expensive dinner.  See how sexy I was.

 

The attendant, (yes, I used to frequent places that had restroom attendants) tried not to give me the stink-eye as I frantically grabbed terrycloth towel after towel from her, dipped them under the cool faucet and proceeded to not only wash off all of my expensive stink, but every lick of makeup I had on, too.  I assured her I was not a homeless person who had just wandered in, but was having a bad reaction to my perfume.  She smiled and worked to hide my debris.  I had escaped the table purse-less, but made sure she got a healthy tip later!

 

Then, just last week at the movie theater, I was all cozied into my assigned seat watching the previews when I smelled a woman long before I saw her.  Oh boy, I thought!  Is my mom here?  Her aroma wafted to my seat as she entered and I prayed she would go to a higher seat, far away from me.  No luck.  Right behind me.  Barf!  The movie was good, so I didn’t barf, but I had to work hard not to, eating that popcorn like I was a horse wearing a feeding bag.  Charming.  I know.  Pity Himself.

 

Because of these traumas, I would like to offer suggestions for those who like perfume.

First:  Remember it’s for you or your significant other, not anyone else.  Anyone.  I don’t want to smell it if I’m two cars behind you at a drive-through; It isn’t necessary to slather yourself to go to a movie; and you don’t need it to work at the Shop Rite. If you work anywhere give them a break.  This should be written in company handbooks.

Second:  Now that I have asthma you become a medical nightmare for me so please don’t wear it at all.

Third:  If you’re travelling on any form or public transportation use soap and only soap.

Fourth:  I have never been on a cruise, but I’ve been on a fishing boat on the Atlantic and that was ugly enough without perfume, so I can’t imagine how bad it would have been with it.

Fifth:  I don’t really have a fifth, but I thought I needed one to hammer-home the point that not everyone thinks you smell good.

 

Some people will think you smell like the back of a 1958 Mercury Monterey, even without the cigarettes and hairspray.  If you see them in your wake, hauling out inhalers or gasping on the floor, please don’t run over to help.  You’ll only make it worse.  Get to the nearest restroom, with or without an attendant, and wash that crap off!

 

In my opinion (and we all know I love sharing my opinion), perfume is best left in the bottle. . .or in the bedroom. . .but not out in public.  Wait.  What’s that smell?

 

 

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A Vist From My Grandma

 

a molly jens pic

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Today I am grateful for a visit from my grandma, Molly Jens, who died many, many, many years ago, yet she still continues to influence my life and live in my memories.  I thought I had a picture of her in my hard drive, but it bit the dust with the rest of my older pics during a frantic “memory” issue, so full credit to my sister for the one posted.

 

I’ve griped a lot about my computer problems and today was no exception.  There were several letters and forms sent to me by insurance and tax people that needed to be printed.  (Why am I doing this job, using my ink and paper?) Not to mention some Kohl’s Cash and you know how important that is!

 

Since I usually write from my recliner in the living room, I had to haul the computer to the dining room where my printer is tucked away in a corner.  I hooked up, turned on the printer and then watched my screen go nuts as it tried to download the letters and forms.  It was like watching a cat trying to hawk up a hairball.

 

Frustrated, I grabbed an old notebook to see if I could copy some other stuff down before the entire thing imploded. . .or I threw it out the window. I flipped open the notebook and there it was!  A poem I had hand-written titled, “Grandma’s Afghan”. I can’t even figure out when I wrote it, which is odd because I usually date everything, sometimes even a grocery list.  But not this!  It was a long time ago, so I figured it must be crap and didn’t bother to read it.  I just found a clean page and wrote the notes I needed.

 

Himself came in much later, as I was packing everything up to go back to command central.  “Guess what I found?” I asked him.

“A million dollars!”  Wise ass.  As if I’d still be sitting there swearing at an old computer.

“No, an old poem I wrote I don’t know when and have no recollection of writing.”

“Well let’s hear it,” he said, always one to take the clue if it suits him, which apparently it did today.

 

So I read it to him.  Cold.  Without proofreading or checking it out first and bawled like a baby!  He almost did, too!  He’ll deny it, but I could tell.  He loved it!  I love it!  And I love the memory that caused me to write it, which came back with tsunami force as I read. I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience when you tried to clean out some of your families or parents stuff and ran across a trigger item.  Pretty powerful.

 

I’m sorry that I can’t share the poem with you.  How’s that for being mean?  You see if I share it then I can’t enter it in a contest or try to get it published because what many of you don’t know is that no one will accept works that have been published.  On-line is considered published.  I haven’t done it in years, but I might want to send this poem out.  For Molly Jens.  My grandma.

 

 

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Sweatshirts, Shawls, Blankets & Hats

a me in hat, shawl, blanket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Today I am grateful for sweatshirts, shawls, blankets and hats.  Himself and I run on different temperatures.  I am always hot and he is always cold.  Temperature control in our house has been an ongoing battle for 36 years.

 

“I’m giving us another degree,” he’ll say, claiming I’m making him live in the tundra, while I’m ripping off my clothing and splashing cold water on my face.  “If you do, I’ll die,” I answer, in my usual calm, non-dramatic way.

 

The next time I see him he is walking through the house wearing two sweatshirts, with both hoods up and has a blanket strewn over his shoulders.  He’s not dramatic, either.  I’m in a short sleeved shirt with my shoes off, bare toes in the breeze he’s sure is blowing through the house.

 

In summer, when the air conditioning is necessary he swears he has icicles hanging off of his Irish nose!  Nonsense.  I never saw an icicle.  Not once.  And you sure can’t miss that schnoz. He might shiver a little, but no icicles.  Exaggerator!!

 

Yesterday, for whatever reason, I couldn’t get warm.  Maybe it’s because I was in the pool and got a chill after that which I couldn’t shake.  Maybe it was the gale-force winds blowing the chill factor the lowest in the season.  Maybe it was because I sat in the sunroom reading a book for too long.  Being on the north side of the house and with all of the windows, it can be cool in there.  I don’t know why, but I was cold and simply couldn’t get warm.

 

We had a cup of tea and I sat in the kitchen where the sun warms the room naturally. It didn’t help. I gave us a degree, then two.  I put on a second sweatshirt.  I sat in my cozy chair and threw a shawl around my shoulders.  That still wasn’t enough so I grabbed the blanket.

 

He was not cold.  What?  “It’s fine in here,” he said.  “I think you might be getting sick.”  So I took my temperature because I often get chills before a fever sets in.  Nope.  My temperature was very low.  “No wonder I’m cold!” I complained to him.  “I’m degrees cooler than normal.”

 

Unwilling to even unwrap from my cocoon, I asked him to bring me the warm hat he had gotten for me as a Christmas present.  When I pulled it on he said, “Gimme that phone of yours.  I gotta get a picture of this because it’s a first!  You have to write a blog about this!”

 

I usually don’t respond so quickly to requests, especially his, but this time I’m making an exception.  Since my vanity flew out the door in this format years ago, I figured why not.  I am who I am and last night I was COLD!

 

That’s why I’m grateful for sweatshirts, shawls, blankets and hats!  If Himself is nice to me I’ll let him borrow them because I’m too hot today so everything is back to status quo!  “Hey!  Get away from that thermostat!”

 

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Modern Hospitals

a hospital-modern

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Today I am grateful for modern hospitals.  I had occasion the other day to visit a friend in a very large teaching hospital.  This sweet thing had endured several strokes a few months ago and her hair needed cutting badly, so I went to the hospital to take care of it.

 

The hospital is nearly an hour from my house and a fog was rolling in so I left plenty early.  Knowing that her lunch and physical therapy were manipulated so that I could cut her hair at 1:30, when I got there 45 minutes early I decided to grab a bite myself, so as to not screw up the schedule.

 

Sitting in a large cordoned off dining space that was pretty much a hallway, near the educational theater, I had ample opportunity to people watch.  Looking around I notice how spotless the floors and windows were.  Not a smudge or crumb anywhere.

When whatever session was going on in the theater ended, the doors opened and eager students, some young, some not so much, burst through, each one wearing a pristine white lab coat and carrying a computer.  They scattered in every direction.

 

As often happens, for reasons I can never explain, my memory was thrown back to twenty years ago when we lived in Jakarta, Indonesia.  I had a very dear Indonesian friend whose husband suffered a medical condition regarding his heart and had to be hospitalized.  When expats had a situation that needed hospitalization they flew out on the next plane to Singapore.  Edy was in a local hospital.

 

I asked my friend, Tati, if Himself and I might be able to visit Edy?  She agreed to take us the next day but warned, “Is very much different than US, Meddy.”  Okay, so what isn’t in Jakarta, I wondered? Everything was very, very different.  But I had no clue.

 

Tati arrived to pick us up with a car full of clean clothing and copious containers of cooked food.  “Are you bringing his favorite foods for him,” I asked, “Is he allowed to eat them?”  The aroma of spices assaulted my sense of smell.  “No, Meddy,” she answered.  “Here you must feed family in hospital.”  Meals aren’t included.  The family is expected to show up several times a day to provide them.  I’m not sure if that’s always the case, or if it is an option, or if it was just this hospital, or if it has changed since then, but that’s the way it was back then.

 

When we arrived at the hospital corridors were lined with many families wearing colorful clothing, each with their picnics spread out all over the hallway floor (no chairs).  You had to goose-step past them.  The smell of food, sweat and body functions in the un-air conditioned space was almost nauseating. “These are poor family,” Tati explained.  “Their person have small room with many people and is no room for all.”

 

With few doors and all windows open, the place was dusty and grim all at the same time.  There were few trained medical assistants, meaning that Tati helped Edy take care of daily needs.  If she needed someone she had to go find them because there were no call buttons.  She helped him to the toilet down the hallway.  If he wanted his bed raised or lowered, she had to get the crank and turn it up until he was comfortable.  It was grim at best and depressing to say the least.  Edy survived that stay, but passed years later, not long after Tati.  I still think of them daily.

 

I suppose that experience from long ago, in a foreign hospital in a developing nation presented itself when I was sitting in the mega-hospital because of the contrast.  My chair was comfortable.  Indeed there WERE chairs.  Windows were closed and clean.  There was central heating in winter and air conditioning in summer.  Floors were polished enough to see your reflection.  There were not just stairs, but elevators, too, plus a cafeteria where anyone could get food.  Patients had food served to them and also bathrooms right inside their rooms.

 

These are things I took for granted before living in Jakarta, Indonesia, but I never do anymore.  Although they are often understaffed, huge and costly, I am still eternally grateful for modern hospitals.

 

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Jude Travlos

 

a ring from jude

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Today I am grateful for my dear friend, Jude Travlos, who passed away in her sleep a few days ago.  I have probably only seen Jude in person four times in the last twenty years, yet feel very, very close to her because we shared a wicked sense of humor through words.

 

Back in the 60’s and 70’s I had a few friends who had boyfriends in the military.  Some were stationed in Vietnam, some Korea, others stateside, but all were long distance relationships.  There was no such thing as the internet or texting on a cell phone so they communicated with an occasional short-lived phone call, but mostly by mail.  Letters.  Snail mail.  The kind you put a stamp on, so they young’uns can understand.

 

Since almost no one had a typewriter either, those letters were written by hand, usually in cursive, on stationery that came in different colors with pretty envelopes to match.  I can almost see those of previous generations Googling their fingers off to see all of these archived antiques.

 

Some of those long distance relationships didn’t last.  But I know of at least two that not only lasted, but are still going strong almost 50 years later.  These young women planned their weddings while their guys were gone.  And they were gone for years at a time.   The guys came home, they got married and then went off to serve someplace else, leaving the new bride at home, usually living with mom and dad to save money for when the tour of duty was over.

 

At the time I thought it was crazy.  How do you really know someone when all you do is write to them and get letters from them?  Is that a basis for a lasting relationship?  You have to share the same air with someone daily to understand them, right?  Nope.  I don’t believe that anymore.  Because I had Jude and many others to whom I am genuinely attached through merely words.

 

We might not have seen each other often, but we were as connected as if she lived down the street.  Himself and I stopped in to see her and her husband years ago on our way through Binghamton, NY.  We saw them at parties here, sharing another mutual friend.  The rest of the time we wrote.

 

Jude loved my Heartprints stories, even hooking me up with other friends of hers, one of whom mercifully informed me of her passing so I didn’t have to read about it later on social media.  If I went back and searched I bet Jude commented on over 80% of my posts and “liked” even more.  We built a bond.  Indeed, after hearing the news of her death, I went back to the story I had written the day before and there it was, a comment I had not yet read, from Jude, about how she kept a little Christmas tree year-round in the family room and would be decorating it with valentines within the next few days.

 

She and I would commiserate in messenger about our crazy husbands, hers with a Santa Claus passion and mine with a Dungeons & Dragons obsession.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.  All on line.  We shared clever barbs and sassy comments.  All on line.  We whined about weight and exercise and good recipes and WW and hair and skin and extra chins and anything else you can imagine.  All on line.

 

One day I got a package in the mail from New York.  Hmm, I thought.  Who do I know in New York?  Jude had loved a piece I wrote months earlier about daisies.  She happened to be in a store and saw a daisy ring that was bold and beautiful just like us.  She bought it and sent it to me.  That’s so her, I thought.  Always keeping people in her thoughts. . . in her heart.  Always remembering what’s important.  Friendship.

 

I loved that ring then, thinking about her every time I wore it.  But I will cherish it even more now that she is no longer on this earth.  It took me over fifty years to understand the power of long distance relationships, created and nurtured through the written word.

 

I loved “chatting” with Jude.  I loved reading her messages.  I loved her.  I will always love her, because our bond was sealed long ago, in frequent, honest communication.  I miss her.  I will miss her tomorrow.  And I will miss her every day after that.  This one’s for you, Jude Travlos.  BING!  Heartprint!

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Walking Backwards

a windblown woman cartoon

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Today I am grateful for walking backward.  Geeze, we ran to COSTCO after finishing ditching Christmas and even I almost blew away and I’m grounded like no Weeble you’ve ever met!

 

I don’t look good with my hair off of my forehead.  I can do a side part and show a little, but not too much.  I’m starting (as of 40 years ago) to have a receding hairline like a man where my hairline goes back on both sides over my eyebrows. If I pull my hair back totally off my forehead get out the projector because you could show a movie on that sucker.  Too much of my face is not a good thing.

 

That’s why I was freaked out today and more than a little conflicted.  I know how good every single person’s haircut was because their hair blew straight back or straight up from the roots and held here in the gale winds.  Snip-snip.  Mine starts out straight up so I was good. But I have bangs, too.  And that aforementioned forehead issue.

 

I nearly got hit by a car in the parking lot walking backwards so the wind would not blow my bangs back.  It didn’t work anyway because it swooshed around me, like Dorothy’s house.  Still, I didn’t want to scare anyone at COSTCO because just that experience on a Sunday is scary enough.  Hang onto your follicles out there!  Walking backwards isn’t safe!

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