Tea Parties

a alina & audrey tea party.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Today I am grateful for tea parties.  Again.  Only this one didn’t have any real tea or food involved because it was pretend.  These days I find “pretend” to be very, very refreshing.  Reality is a bit of a pain in the ass, but pretend can be anything you want it to be.  Always good.


Last night we were invited to dinner at our son and his family’s house.  Pretty much I think the granddaughter saw us as two huge toys standing on her stoop because she had us on task all night and it was a blast.  Puzzles and games and dolls, oh my.  Miss Bossy pants has her way of doing things, but will be shown another way.  To a point.  Then it’s her way or a new game.  Kind of like me with Monopoly, only she’s way more polite and doesn’t throw the board into the air like a piñata exploded.


For whatever reason, after dinner, she decided we would play “store” which morphed into at tea party and lunch.  Usually she loses interest in whatever we do within 20 minutes, which is typical for her age.  I’m better at misdirection than Magic John is.  But last night it was all about that tea party.


We had to get her favorite doll, Audrey into the play.  I must have poured a hundred cups of fake tea and swished at least as many spoonsful of sugar and squeezed lemon, into them too.  We held our saucers in one hand, picked the tea cup up with pinkies held high, blew on the too-hot-fake-brew and sipped like ladies.  Forever.  We shared wooden kiwi, bananas and watermelon. We made Audrey a sandwich with butter, pink “meat” and cheese.  We argued endlessly over what was probably supposed to be a chicken drumstick, but I called a bowling pin.  When the child gets an actual drumstick someday and calls it a bowling pin, it’ll be on me.


Tea parties are always fun.  I don’t think it will be too long before she’s ready for me to set one up with my Indonesian china, real tea and tiny sammies.  I better allow an entire day!  Can’t wait.

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a point pleasant canoe shack

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Today I am grateful for stilts.  Did you ever try walking on stilts?  Did you ever see someone at a fair or Disney, who had mastered stilt walking?  I have and it’s amazing.   Hey, look, I told myself that on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when I don’t go to the pool first thing in the morning, I’d get other things done.  Householdy things.  Tedious closet-cleaning-kind-of-things.  Today I’m supposed to be cleaning my microwave, stove top and kitchen floor.


That’s why I’m writing about stilts.  Stilts are much more fun that greasy build up or exploded salmon, which is what’s facing me on the stove and microwave respectively.  And in order to do a proper mop job, I’ll have to move chairs, sweep and shake out the rug that’s in front of the sink.  Booorrrriiiinnnggg.


But stilts aren’t boring.  Nothing about them is boring.  When I was younger and not worried about breaking every bone in my body, I tried walking on stilts.  I got up on them and moved two steps – FAST!  Then jumped off in terror.  Never tired again.  I don’t jump anyplace but in the pool anymore so I won’t be trying them now.


That’s why I respect the stilt buildings that line the Delaware River.  I don’t have to balance on them and realize that they are built that way out of necessity.  When that river decides to rage, the damage can be devastating.  Stilts give businesses a fighting chance.  The picture is from Point Pleasant Canoe, where you can rent inner tubes or canoes, then they bus you to a northern point on the river, toss you in and you float down.  Whee!


I think it sounds like fun, but I’ve never done it, Himself says it sounds like his worst nightmare, but I don’t have as many spare parts as he has and I float like a buoy without a tube.  “You don’t put a guy who can’t swim, hates water even the shower, who wears hearing aids and glasses and buys his teeth from “the man” into raging water,” he says.  I see his point.  But I still want to go sometime and have put it on my bucket list.


The good news is that I don’t have to float down a river to see the buildings on stilts and neither does he.  The further good news is that mastering walking on stilts is not a requirement for anything in my life, especially cleaning that kitchen.  Sigh!  Maybe I’ll write two blogs today instead!

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Unseasonably Beautiful Days

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Today I am grateful for unseasonably beautiful days.  Yesterday was a beauty.  Bright sunshine, clear skies, cool but not cold air.  It was simply gorgeous.


Himself and I decided to take the afternoon and ride around Bucks County.  We wanted to go to our favorite kitchen store in Peddler’s Village anyway, so heading into New Hope and then taking the river road back north seemed like a good choice.


It was fun.  But it wasn’t fun because the day was nice, or the air was cool and clear, or we found what we wanted at the kitchen store.  It was fun because we were flexible.  It’s been a long time since we just drove around “looking” at this time of year.  Not only do you see more trash because the foliage is absent, you also see entire housing units you had no clue were there.

Sometimes we like to drive through the multi-million dollar developments.  It’s fun to imagine who lives there and what kind of job they do to afford such mega mansions.  Bucks County is loaded with them.


“If we won the 80 million dollar lottery would you want to live in a place like that?” Himself asks me.

“Not unless I had a full-on household staff like we did when we were in Indonesia.  Look at all of those windows!”


Himself doesn’t want to maintain a pool, like he did when we lived in Hilltown.  He’s all done with that.  I’m not in the mood to clean any more house than I currently have and actually wish I didn’t have to clean even this place.  So I don’t, most of the time.  With no kids or animals it doesn’t get that dirty.  Himself vacuums up the occasional popcorn shrapnel and that’s enough for me.


We saw a castle, built in 2007, just outside of Peddlers Village that had a locked gate.    It had turrets and odd shaped windows and a half a dozen chimneys and amazing landscaping and I would LOVE to get inside and check it out. Even though I sat just shy of the security key-pad, they wouldn’t let me in.  Spoil sports.  I’m certain the cameras were on us and I didn’t get a picture because that would have required getting out of the car and closer to the fence and although I didn’t see guard dogs, I wasn’t taking any chances.  If they are on Facebook message me so we can set a time for my visit.  I’ll go oooh-ahhh when you show me your castle, I promise.


I’d drive past someplace and Himself would ask, “What was that building back there, a hotel?”  I didn’t know so we turned back to check it out.  All day it went like that.  “When did that development go up?”  Again I’d turn in.  We saw people getting their mail, jogging, walking dogs and a family of six deer, buck included, casually cross the road, giving us the stink eye for staring at them.  One woman was walking a gorgeous dog so I opened my window all the way and said, “Oh my, aren’t you a beautiful baby,” to the dog.  “Why thank you,” the woman answered, patting her hair and straightening her coat.  She said I made her day.  Vice versa.  Laughter always works.


My dad would call what we did senseless ambling.  He wasn’t a fan.  You go from point A to point B with as much efficiency as possible.  My dad was missing out.  Because sometimes wandering aimlessly, without a timeline or expectation is wonderful.  Especially on an unseasonably beautiful day.

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Super Bowl Games

a me in Eagles helmet

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Today I am grateful for Super Bowl Games.  But boy are they boring.  Sorry if that offends those rooting for the Patriots or Rams, but holy smoke when my team, last year’s World Champion Philadelphia Eagles, is not playing it’s a real snooze fest.


Good thing the granddaughter was here because after too many hot-wings and more nacho’s grande than is allowed on one planet, we retired to the “big” bed and watched “Thumbelina”.  It was way better than the game in the other room, based on the long silences followed by occasional angry outbursts.


Last year we watched our team win the true  American way at an American Legion, surrounded by our family and the friends of my son.  I was probably the least footbally person in the crowd. . .until the game got good.  Then I turned into a lunatic like everyone else.  It was a blast and by the end of the game I was sweating, exhausted and glad I didn’t have to call 911 for my son, who I’m sure was close to a cardiac incident several times.


It was a good game and I don’t think it’s just because the Eagles won it.  It was exciting and fast and controversial, like watching a bunch of street kids in a pick-up game.  Who alive in our region will ever forget the Philly Special?  No one, that’s who!


But tonight?  Oh my.  I’m sitting in the same room with Himself because the son took the toddler home already and I hate to have him watch a big game alone.  See what a good wife I am taking one for the team?  But even he said, “This is the most boring Super Bowl ever.”


Maybe anything after last year would feel pretty dull.  I know people who were having parties but watching the recording of last year’s game.  Re-run football is too far of a reach for me.  The bottom line is I’m happy to be writing and catching up on some of the blogs I follow.  All Super Bowls are NOT created equal.  “Fly Eagles, fly!”  I’ll get the helmet and be ready for next year!


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Advice Columnists

IMG_7457 (Edited)

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Today I am grateful for advice columnists.  I usually read The Inquirer a day late.  By that time reading my horoscope is a moot point, but I read it anyway.  Then I pick out a few comics, the usual news, but not always the full article.  Sometimes I get pissed off and stop reading halfway through.  Usually I catch the snippets in World News, looking for something wonderful to be happening someplace, but it isn’t.  Murders and wars.


One thing I never miss is the advice columnist.  When I’ve read local papers in my travels sometimes there are more than one, which is like a whole bag of Lays Cheddar-Sour Cream Chips being zero calories.  When I taught conversational English to graduate students at ATMA JAYA UNIVERSITAS, a catholic university in Jakarta, I used Dear Abby as a jumping off point for conversations.  As long as I read it slow enough, so my students got the gist, discussing those columns was a highlight for all of us.


“Do people in US really put grandmas in old people homes away from family?  Why not live with them and Ibu?  Does not sound good.”

“Young people expect car when finished school?  Who pays?”

“Does family really worry if big girl eat too much rice or French fry?  They have fruit in America?”


I can’t remember all of the questions, but I remember the feeling I’d get during those discussions.  Teaching English had to do with much more than them learning words.  These young people wanted to learn everything they could about the American family life and culture.  And I wanted to learn about theirs.


Lately I’ve been thinking I should write an advice column and call it ASK MARY.  Here a sample question.


Question:  “I saw a woman park in a handicapped space.  She had the placard on her rear view mirror, but when she got out of the car it didn’t look like there was one thing wrong with her.  I wanted to question her, but my husband told me to mind my own business.  Why do people who aren’t handicapped park in those spaces?”


Answer:  “Are you kidding me?  What possible business could it be of yours if someone with a valid placard parked in a legitimate handicapped space?  Your husband is right.  You are wrong.  Just because you couldn’t SEE the handicap doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  The person you were ready to berate might have an issue like multiple sclerosis that flairs up occasionally; or serious joint issues that are worse on some days than others; or asthma that doesn’t show at all, yet without the close space she might not be able to function in the store.  The last thing someone needs when they already have enough medical issues to handle, is for an insensitive, self-righteous clod like you to berate them.  And in answer to your last question. . .They park there because they need too.  Be glad you don’t!”


This was kind of fun.  I’ve heard about and witnessed a lot of instances where I wanted to (and sometimes did) offer my opinion to someone who needed to get a life and be grateful for it.  What do you think?  Am I on the cusp of a new career as a self-help columnist?  Don’t worry.  I won’t quit my day job, which is “retired” and “writer” and I kinda-sorta do this in a way sometimes without being asked, but it might be fun to play it more specifically.

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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Today I am grateful for aging.  First off let me say that I really am grateful I’m aging because that means I’m still here and I want to be here for a long, long time.  And well.  Sadly, many of my friends haven’t been so lucky.  But here’s what no one tells you about aging, or if they did I wasn’t paying attention.  It’s a lot so grab a coffee or tea.


Every day is a new discovery of an ache or pain.  I went to bed last night feeling fine, aside from the still-nagging-me planter fasciitis and woke up with a sore shoulder, elbow and both wrists.  What?  I’m sure it’s from something I did with the buoys in the pool.  At this point all it takes is one odd move and I’m hauling out the bags of frozen peas.  FYI-frozen peas are a lot more fun in summer!


Then there is the hair.  When my hair was brown it was straight as a toothpick.  I had to plan perms with a little curl left in the ends or you simply could not bend those sticks around a perm rod without it poking up like a sputnik.  Now that it’s mostly gray and I want to wear it poking up, the front on top is wavy.  Seriously?  What’s that all about?  And if there is going to be curl, could it please be the entire head?  Some of my friends are experience substantial hair loss so I’ll take mine either way, but it is a curiosity.


Many of you have been blessed with padding through life never having to worry about your weight and now have to battle to keep it off like the rest of us.  I’m sad for you.  Sort of.  But I do get that for you that extra 20 pounds are as foreign as if I’d wake up one morning and look like Twiggy.  (Google her, young’uns)  For those who have always battled, the battle continues. . .and gets harder.  It’s probably related to the aforementioned injuries.   Or cookies. And I’m not talking about the ones that mess up your computer.


I just heard that actress Kathy Bates lost 60 pounds and she looks fantastic, so good for her.  But my kids claim she should to play me in the movie of my life (“you dirty-birdie. . .you cocka-tootie”) so either she has to gain it back or I gotta drop a ton.  I’ll keep you posted.  Ha-ha!


My balance is still pretty good, knock-wood, but if there is any ice or uneven ground I shuffle like I’m a thousand years old and have no feeling in my lower extremities.  It isn’t pretty.  But if this Weeble goes down, it’s gonna take heavy equipment to hoist me back up, because rolling onto my bionic titanium knees does not feel good at all! Picture the little boy in The Christmas Story who is flailing on the ground looking like a tick about to burst.  Then put my old lady face into his scarf-wrapped hood.  Falling is a serious issue that I never thought of when I was younger.  Hips, wrists, knees, elbows and spirits all break easier.


The floor.  Things drop to it.  Although I’m a larger person I am still amazingly flexible, as long as I don’t have to try and get UP off the floor.  So I don’t go down there.  But I bend easily.  Himself has no problem sitting on the floor and getting up, but if something DROPS to the floor he looks at it with longing and betrayal, as if to say, “How could you do that to me?  I was just holding you and now you fell into the abyss, you bastard!”  If I witness this I put my hand on his chest and say, “I’ll get it.  Don’t worry.”  His stiff-as-an-ironing-board-back thanks me.


We have two extender-grabbers in our house.  One is in the laundry room, one in our closet. I swear I have almost finger dexterity with those things, but Himself doesn’t.  When he squeezes the handle it twists in his hand like a bad tennis racket.  I can pick up an ornament hanger and put it in a box in one motion.  Much of our Christmas tree this year was decorated with the grabber.  But who knew back in the day, that I would need one? Certainly not me.


I could probably list a bunch more things but my shoulder is killing me, my wrists are starting to feel pinchy and the bursitis in my elbow is shooting electric charges down my arm.  My eyes are drying out, my trigger-finger is popping (it’s the middle right, so it can be a convenient tic) and soon I’m going to have to run, in a panic, to the bathroom.  That’s another foible of aging.  Hopefully I’ll make it or next I’ll be writing about changing clothes three times a day and the extra laundry.


So think ahead before you politely ask an older person, “How are you doing?”  Or be prepared for a full-on organ recital.  Because that’s what aging is all about!  Still happy I’m here!


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A Sense of Humor in Others

a palm leaf pic

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Today I am grateful for a sense of humor in others.  Mine is perfectly fine, wicked and intact, but I worry about some of the people who comment on Facebook posts.  Geeze, lighten up.


This morning on a site I follow called Fsensitivity, this was posted. “Auto correct has become my worst enema” so I shared it.  I think that’s really, really funny.  Especially since I was commenting about my toddler granddaughter using my iphone and wrote she shows such good “seductive reasoning”.  Of course, I meant “deductive” but her dad has now declared the typo his new favorite term.  It’s funny.  See, I can be funny even when I’m clueless.  Now there’s a gift.


The use of “enema” when you mean to say “enemy” is funny, too.  But some people don’t think so.  Some people sent me cures for constipation.  One person went so far as to tell me to collect fallen palm tree leaves, chop them up fine in a food processor, add water and drink it.  “It makes a great laxative.”  I bet!  So does eating a jeep, like Klinger on M.A.S.H., or chewing on tree bark like Yule Gibbons in that old commercial.   But I’m not doing those either.


I thought that person must be joking because I don’t know him/her so I can only hope so.  But then I started getting other advice on my perceived bowel situation and realized we in social media have gone insane with advice!  This isn’t the first time, either.


Sometimes I write a clever post, as some are, joking about one issue or another and then get a diatribe from someone giving me advice on why whatever I was talking about happened and how I can prevent it in the future.  Way to suck the life out of humor.  It’s like my writing was a boil on my butt I was trying to get rid of.  It’s not.  There is no room.  I have enough on my butt without it.  And I would never try to get rid of my writing.


What’s really interesting is that the long list of things I yammered about writing about when I wrote the puzzle piece last night has been put to the background once again.  Maybe tomorrow.  Today the “enema” story was more important.


I don’t have a palm tree so I better go harvest some greens from the holly bush before it’s covered in snow.  Ouch!  Please don’t send me any more cure-alls.  My plumbing can’t take it.  It’s humor, folks.  Just humor.  Sheesh!

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