Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jason, Kate and the Ugly Christmas Sweater

Kate's boyfriend Jason is quite competitive and he loves to win prizes. Last weekend, he set his sights on becoming the 2014 Ugly Christmas Sweater Champ of his social circle.  Kate was attending the party too, so naturally she felt pressure to find herself the perfect outfit.
Please ignore my hair
and focus on the sweater. 

She went to Goodwill on her lunch hour and bought herself a sweater. Apparently it wasn't ugly enough though, because she brought it to me that evening as a gift. She told me repeatedly that she had purchased it as an ugly sweater entry but the more she looked at it, the more it reminded her of me. Hmmm...

A more fashion-conscious woman might have been offended, but not me. I adored the hand-knit sweater the second I laid eyes on it. I am totally in love with the "reduce*reuse*recycle" motto so her purchase gratified me on many levels. 

The next evening, Katie sent me a picture of herself with Jason in front of the Christmas tree. Of course she looked darling - no surprises there.  And Jason?
Jason looked to me like he was wearing what should become the winning entry.

How could that outfit not win?
Whoever was judging thought so too, because Jason went home with a trophy.  

Better luck next year, Kate.  


P.S.  I think your sweater vest is kinda cute.  (Hint. Hint.)




      













www. StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Weight Loss Success?

This past Easter I made the decision to stop eating refined sugar.  It's hard to believe, but after about three weeks cravings stopped and fruits and veggies began to taste delicious.  I know it's shallow, but as the weight melted off, I felt proud.

Last evening I was playing on the floor with my grandson when he poked me in the stomach like I was the Pillsbury Doughboy.  This angelic look came over him as he said, "Grammy, is there a baby in your tummy?"




"Pride cometh before a fall."



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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Focus, Focus!

My friend the "Frau of Focus" called me, the "Disorganized Ditz," on Sunday afternoon, just to catch up on family news.  During the course of the conversation, it came out that she has not only decided what she is going to make for Thanksgiving, but she has also written menus for the entire weekend and has started assembling ingredients for various dishes in her butler's pantry.





Next she casually lets slip that she has already set the table for Thanksgiving.  I did mention that this was Sunday, right?





It will come as no surprise that she has also started decorating her house for Christmas.



My world is a little more casual than hers.  I have a vague idea about what we will be eating on Thursday and after that things get a little more nebulous.  Pretty much anybody who wanders in and expects to eat at my house this weekend will be holding a paper plate, of that I am certain.  

If this were a contest, I would have conceded years ago but there's one tiny area where we might be able to shine this year.  My friend lives up north and it's been snowy there lately so she probably hasn't gotten her exterior lighting up yet.  Weeks ago, Jerry put up itsy bitsy white twinkle lights on our deck and under our patio umbrella.  I'm planning on keeping them up all year but to assuage my ego, just for today I'm calling them Christmas lights.




I'm not gonna say that I envy The Frau's organizational skills (although I do).  Instead, I'm just gonna say "Happy Valentine's Day, RenĂ©e!"



www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Parenting in 2014

I marvel at parents today.  They just "get it" so much easier than we did.  Here's an example:

I was in my daughter Jessica's kitchen watching my two-year-old grandson Grayson eating a carrot. He leaned over and got some dip, took a bite of carrot, then chewed.  He chewed and chewed and chewed and then -- when he was good and ready -- he spat the finely chewed carrot out.  Then he took another  carrot, got some dip, took another bite and repeated the entire sequence.  A little mound of chewed carrot was forming on the table in front of him.


Spit.












Dip.





















Chew.



















Grayson was oblivious to me and so as I watched and laughed (inside), the carrot "eating" continued. Soon my daughter passed through the kitchen, glanced swiftly at her son and his carrot mound and said, "If you want to eat the dip, just use a spoon."

I rest my case.




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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Temptation

Isn't she the picture of innocence?

I met Christina Fluet Cockey last night at a Pampered Chef party that my daughter Kate was hosting.  We hit it off right away.  She's cute.  She's fun. She's energetic.  Turns out she's also the Picasso of the cookie world. 

She came in carrying a box of cookies, and, although the packaging was lovely, I didn't pay much attention to the contents because I've been on a diet for, well, ever.  Weirdly, my newest lifestyle changes ~ which I've been following since Easter ~ are actually delivering results and I'm now the LIGHTEST WEIGHT of MY ADULT LIFE.  I'm gonna pause now and bask in the glow of happiness that surrounds me. Ahhh….

We are laughing and cooking and then it's time to eat so we wander over to the food area where Christina holds up:


Curryously Coconut (dark chocolate, coconut, curry)

I know what you are all thinking.  That I caved and gobbled up that scrumptious looking piece of art.  Well, you're wrong.  I passed that up -- as well as one called Apple Cider Sangria that everyone was raving about.  My downfall was the Chocolate Chip M&M cookie.  Comfort food!  As soon as I held it in my hand my resolve began weakening but I still planned to take home. Planned.

My cookie is on the counter.
While I was filling out my Pampered Chef order, I decided to nibble on a piece of cookie, just to make Christina feel happy.  Who am I kidding here?  On a good day my willpower is the size of a gnat and I was holding a cookie.  Once I had a taste, I was hooked.  It was like eating the seven deadly sins all wrapped up in one delicious cookie.  I savored every morsel of that tasty treat. 

Today I'm back on my bandwagon.  Do I regret eating that cookie?  Nope.
I could have done without the knowledge that VanDoughs, Christina's cookie company, ships though.






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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Amy Grant

Who doesn't love the Christmas season?  Everyone seems happier, there are parties and presents, and music -- the lovely, lovely Christmas carols -- fills the air with love and joy.  I smile and start humming just thinking about them. And, it turns out, I thought about them a lot more than usual this year.  

Last fall my sister gave me an armload of Christmas CD's.  She's totally into technology and, apparently, CD's are relics from a bygone era and I'm just hopelessly behind -- I have an entire closet shelf of cassettes and a chest-of-drawers full of VHS tapes too, so maybe she's justified in thinking that.  

I decided to listen to the CD's in my car and popped the first one in.  It was "A Christmas Album" by Amy Grant.  Perfect title, if you ask me.  I don't drive very often and when I do it's usually not far so it took me a while to hear all the songs.  About half the carols were contemporary which meant I couldn't sing along, but Amy's gorgeous voice is easy to listen to so I didn't mind too much.  
I just realized that this album is from 1983.  We had CD's back then?

In the blink of an eye, it was March and the Christmas CD was still playing. None of the songs seemed "new" to me any more and so to entertain myself, I would try to harmonize.  It was probably best that I was alone in the car. 

The great thing about Christmas music is that it's uplifting.  There aren't any negative lyrics and the tunes are happy and catchy.  Around May, it did occur to me that I was still listening to Christmas carols, but by then I knew every single word to every single song and I liked them all.  Plus it was the only CD in the car -- or at least that was my story when anybody asked.  

And then it was July. Christmas in July is a legitimate thing, right?  By August though, I started turning the music off whenever anybody was going to ride with me.  I didn't want them to think I was weird. 

When September came, I officially decided to listen to only this particular Amy Grant CD for the entire year.  It was about then that track nine started stuttering and skipping.  Instead of ejecting the disc and cleaning it, I just fast forward whenever it gets to that part of the album.  Problem solved! 

My favorite carol is entitled, "Love has Come."  The music is beautiful and the lyrics are haunting.  I often listen to it several times in a row … Or, sometimes, for the entire car ride, no matter how long it may be...  The song always puts me in a good mood.  

While the car was running this morning, I rolled down my window to talk to a neighbor.  "Oh, no!" she said.  "Not Christmas music already!"

Now you and I both know that it's not already, it's still, but after I heard that I realized I'm almost home free.  November starts at the end of this week and then every store in America will be playing Christmas carols non-stop.  

As soon as that happens, I won't be weird, I'll just be quirky.




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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sweet, Sweet, Music

My mom died in 1999, so why am I thinking about her funeral today? 

Yesterday my friend Ed e-mailed me a joke about a bagpiper. Of course I laughed, because bagpipes are funny. Why?  I don't know; they just are.  That got me thinking about my own bagpipe story, which got me thinking about Mom.
Picture provided by my littlest sister


Before she died, Mom expressed a wish for a bagpiper to play at her funeral. Who EVEN KNOWS a bagpiper? Seriously.  Not me, that's for sure.  I thought she was joking but apparently after I left home the family started attending Highland games and my mother developed a love of the instrument.  So that was that.

Nobody wants to deny their dearly departed mother her dying wish and, miraculously, my sister found someone from a nearby town and hired him. But he got lost on the way.  That really sounds like a set up for a joke but that's what happened.  The funeral went on … no bagpiper.  What are you gonna do, right?

Just as the minister was wrapping up, out of the clear blue sky came the loudest, most horrible squawk I'd ever heard in my life!  It startled me so much that I jumped sky high.  Then I burst out laughing. Because of the noise nobody - except Jerry - heard me.  My shoulders were shaking but Jerry was patting my back, so it looked like I was crying uncontrollably.  The "uncontrollable" part is accurate.  It just wasn't tears. 

At the burial site, the bagpiper stood on a nearby hill and played "Amazing Grace" as they lowered the casket into the earth.  It was haunting.  There wasn't a dry eye among us. 

I still miss my mom and don't think that I would have needed this experience to think of her.  Every time I see a bagpipe though, I re-live her funeral. And, to this very day,  - fifteen years later - I vividly remember that first note. It still sounds like someone choking a very big, very angry bird.

That is why I decided to learn to play the ukulele.





www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Big Savings!

A new Home Goods store has opened in our area and there is a stampede to get in the door.  Bargain hunters are flocking there like hummingbirds to nectar.  Here's an actual example of the savings:



  As Ben Franklin said, "A penny saved is a penny earned."







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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Magical Reappearing Artwork

When we stumbled upon this house, it was a train wreck - the dwelling place of a pack of children raised by wolves.  If the evidence left behind is any indication though, they must have had epic parties.  The walls dripped with candle wax, red paint was spattered everywhere and the carpet, well the carpet was too repulsive to even describe.

Our realtor stepped in, shook her head, laughed to herself and turned to leave.  "No, no!"  I exclaimed.  "This is IT!"  She thought I was joking.

The price was right, the damage mostly cosmetic, and Jerry is a genius with drywall mud.  He is also a man who loves a project.  Perfect.  Soon our house was all spiffed up and the offensive carpet had gone to its final resting place. All was well.  

Except…

The basement family room must have been the site of one heck of a birthday bash because well-wishers -- or kindergartners -- had drawn their felicitations directly on the wall.  They used various media:  crayons, pencils, pens, chalk and, worst of all, Sharpie markers.  Turns out Sharpies really are permanent.

First, Jerry applied two coats of Kilz, a primer that we've had success with in the past.  Then, he painted two coats of color on top.  Just to be safe, he added a third.  Now all was well.

Except…

A couple of months later, I sat down to play my piano and the (bad) sketch of a guy holding a birthday present had materialized on my wall.  I slid a picture in front of it.  Moving a piano, even a small studio like mine, is not on my list of fun things to do.  It weights roughly the same as the entire student body of a AAA high school added all together.  I try to avoid moving heavy objects whenever possible.

When Jerry discovered the artwork, the piano was moved and two more coats of primer followed by two more layers of paint were applied.  All was well.


Image after four layers of primer and five coats of paint

Except…

Last week, five full summers later, the birthday guest with present in hand appeared, yet again, above my piano.  This time Jerry had had enough.  He ripped out the entire wall and replaced it with brand new drywall.  Just to be safe, he painted the wall a darker color.

Now if that sucker reappears, we'll be able to charge admission.  Everyone will want to see it.

All is truly well.





www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Relationship Specialist


I am so good at forgetting the nonsensical passwords that I create to safeguard my online accounts that I often feel like a teenager who got home after curfew.  Locked out again!

Today a screen came up asking me for my social security number, my card number, my card security number, my birth date and my mother's maiden name.  Pardon me, but isn't that the same information that all those phishers, hackers and other black-hat wearing baddies are looking for? How am I to know if this is a legitimate website or a fake one? 

I decided to call the number on the back of my card.  I kid you not, after the required 'if/then' triaging that we all despise, I was told by the mechanical voice to hold the line for a "relationship specialist."  

Jackpot!  If there's anything I could use, it's a relationship specialist! Isn't this an exciting idea?  To think that a credit card company would hire a customer service representative specializing in relationships.  Maybe they really do care about me!  I marvel at this. I'm getting more excited about this upcoming conversation by the second.  How in depth can we get in a quick phone call?  
Will there be a follow-up session?  I'm pretty sure even the most talented specialist won't be able to iron out all my issues in just one short call.

I started writing a list of topics to discuss and had barely scratched the surface when a sweet sounding Asian guy named Jeff arrived on the other end of the line.  

"I'm soooo excited, Jeff," I began.  "Little did I know when I dialed this 800 number with a credit card question that I would actually have the pleasure of talking to a relationship specialist.  I have so much to ask you!"

Jeff is laughing out loud and says, "I'm not much on relationships myself but I will try to help you."  

To get the credit card problem out of the way and free up time for the good stuff, I explain about being locked out of their website. I'm about to delve into other more delicate issues when Jeff, still laughing, says, "Stop right there.  I'm going to need to transfer you to my boss." 

"Is he a relationship specialist?" I ask.  

"No." He responds. "She's a relationship manager."

When it comes to matters of the heart, I think I'd rather talk to a specialist than a manager, but I decided to stay open minded.  Ms. Manager did efficiently solve my problem but she wasn't strong on bedside manner.  She never laughed once. I thought about hanging up and calling again, but decided to go grocery shopping instead.
As long as he has a forkin his hand,
 Jerry is all smiles.

Nothing improves my relationship with my husband more than supper on the table.  It's like the royal flush of our marriage.  It's such a departure from the norm that it always puts Jerry in a good mood.  It doesn't even matter what the meal is, it could be anything.  Just that it is, is enough. 

Hey, maybe there's a future for me as a relationship specialist!  I wonder how well they pay?





www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Who knew?


After I vacuumed my living room carpet, I began cleaning the wood flooring around the edges of the room.  When I bent over to sweep under the sofa,  I found a green tomato hiding underneath it.  



Truth really is stranger than fiction, isn't it?







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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Yoga Returns

It's been over a year now since Satan's Mistress, my yoga instructor Mary Ann, up and married and moved herself off to Birmingham, Alabama, thus ending my brief and colorful career as a perpetual yoga student.  For me, yoga turns out to be a lot like childbirth in that as time goes by, the memory of the pain fades.  This is how I rationalize my second foray into the twisted world of sun salutations and downward dogs.

It happened innocently enough.  I was cruising through a church rummage sale on Saturday when I spied and then bought a boxed set of VHS yoga tapes.  At the time it seemed like a  fabulous find -  two tapes for one dollar.  Sale items often cause a form of temporary amnesia in me and for a moment - just long enough to check out - I forgot how I feel about this particular form of exercise.
Instead,  I was swept up in the thrill of the trash-to-treasures moment, grateful that my VCR was still fully functioning.  (Otherwise what would I do if I ever wanted to watch all those Richard Simmons "Sweatin' to the Oldies" tapes?)

When the weekend was over and I was emotionally back on solid ground, I exercised the bad judgment of telling my walking partners about the tapes. Before I could squirm into a pair of leotards, I found myself in my basement with a friend, listening to all the warnings about visiting doctors before beginning new exercise programs.  Who are they trying to kid here?  If I did that, I'd need a standing appointment.

My new prince of evil is named Rodney and he has the finely chiseled muscles of a youth who spends way too much time lifting weights at the gym.  I'm not so sure I want to take exercise advice from someone who's that into himself.  

This tape was copyrighted in MCMXCVIII (don't ya just love Roman numerals?) No matter how much effort I put into fitness, I'm pretty sure that I'm never gonna look as good as I did in 1998.  I'm not gonna lie to you - that's just a bit irritating, especially when I consider that Rodney will remain forever young. No sagging glutes for him, no paunchy abs.  Not even a tinge of graying at the temples.  No, thirty-something Rodney will be my own Dorian Gray, watching me age while he, himself, serenely smiles.

There are several pluses to using this videotape program though.  Obviously if I'm in my basement, I won't be seen outside the house in my exercise outfit. That is a huge check mark on the positive side of the paper for both me and the community at large, trust me.  Also, if I look crazy attempting one pretzel pose or another, only one person will laugh out loud at me and I'm pretty sure that if I blow in her direction, I can make her fall over sideways.  The biggest benny by far though is that any time I want to - any time at all - I can turn off the television.

In an instant, Rodney will disappear and yoga class will be over.  Then there's always the potential that the tape will get eaten while it's rewinding…

I never thought I'd admit it but I miss you, Mary Ann Raughton Rickman.

My former yoga instructor is now a Roller Derby Queen!






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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When the Husband Cooks

I have some friends whose husbands do all the cooking and I think they're as lucky as jackpot lottery winners.  It's not that I don't like to cook, I do - but if you multiply all the days of my adult life by three that's a lot of meals, even if you factor in all times we've eaten out. The point is, it's nice to have a break once in a while.

Last evening was one of those nights.  Jerry made us a fantastic supper while I was downstairs fiddling around with technology.  Okay, I was goofing around on Pinterest, but you knew that, didn't you?

After eating, I did a quick kitchen clean up.  Jerry can cook with minimal mess.  It's part of his mystique.  Whereas I routinely use every pot, pan and utensil at my disposal, he seems to be able to whip up a gourmet meal using only a salad fork and a toothpick.  It's actually a pleasure to wash dishes after he's cooked because there aren't many so progress is rapid. That's a plus when you have the limited attention span that I do.

But lest you think my husband is always a godsend in the kitchen, let me set the record straight.  During the night, I wandered out to the kitchen to get a glass of water.  That's when I noticed a greasy skillet on top of the refrigerator.

I'll never understand the male mind.










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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A laundry crisis

Yesterday, we bought a new washer and dryer.  They were almost exactly half the cost of the thirteen- year-old pair we were replacing, so we felt pretty pleased about the whole experience.  Of course we were shopping at "Scratch and Ding City" which is where we get all of our appliances - this explains part of the savings.  Why would I care if my dryer has a dent in the side?  It's housed in our basement,  and, like a surly teenager living in a basement room, our friends rarely see it.  When the clerk tried to sell us a maintenance package, I stuck up my nose.  Everyone knows those things are a giant waste of money.

Sooooo….this morning, I decided to do my first solo load of laundry.  I threw in the darks, dumped in the soap and off I went.  About two minutes later, I heard a giant thumping noise.  I tried to use the "if you ignore it, it will go away" principle but it didn't.  Not knowing what else to do, I turned off the washer, opened the door and peered in.  The clothes were now saturated and heavy.  Maybe it was a zipper that I'd left open?  Before I restarted the load, I gave it a sort of half-hearted shake.  In my mind, if it were off balance that would solve the problem.

For a while, everything seemed okay.  Just about the time I was about to get smug, the thumping was back and as bad as ever. At this point, I was experiencing some mental conflict.  Do I tell Jerry or just try to live with it?  He will not be thrilled to have to borrow a truck to return the appliance to the store.  On the other hand, it is only 24 hours old and the noise is profound.  I rued my decision to blow off the five dollar a month maintenance fee.

I turned off the washing machine again.  When I opened the door this time, I found that, in addition to our dark clothing, I was washing a whisk broom.



Crisis averted.








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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Scales

"Nothing good ever comes of stepping onto the scales."  ~ Josh Zimmerman

My baby sister's changing her diet and having fantastic results.  I'm so excited for her that it's made me pay more attention to what I, myself, am eating.  When I weighed myself this morning, I got a big, happy surprise, like confetti shaped hearts and happy faces floating down from heaven, just for me!  I weighed substantially less than I had the last time I stepped on the scales….which was yesterday.


Unwilling to surrender the fabulous feeling of the electric thrill that was coursing through the entirety of my being by pausing to apply common sense (what a wet blanket THAT is!),  I did something ridiculously stupid.  Rarely do I feel exuberance associated with the number on the scales.  That is my defense for what I did next:  I weighed myself again.  

The roller coaster plummeted, taking that beautiful, small number on the display with it and replacing it with something far more substantial - an ounce or two less than yesterday's readout to be sure -- but massive compared to the results of my initial weigh-in. 

I didn't want to let go of the fantasy quite yet, so I moved the scales to a different spot in the bathroom and hopped on again.  A new number flashed in red.  I shifted my weight forward and re-weighed.  I shifted my weight backward and reweighed. I balanced my weight in the middle and reweighed.  None of the shifting seemed to make any difference so I moved the scales a quarter turn, then another, and another…

All told, I weighed myself twelve times.  I got six different weights, with a span between the lightest and the heaviest of 2.8 pounds.  

Around this time, a (semi) respected member of my inner circle said to "stop obsessing about my weight."  I took umbrage.  I wasn't obsessing about my weight.  I was obsessing about the accuracy of my scales.  

I'm glad to have publicly set the record straight.










www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com





Friday, August 1, 2014

The Moose

Last week I had the pleasure of spending time alone with my daughter-in-law, Susan.  We shared a room at the Mount Rainier Lodge in Paradise, WA. (Where, by the way, there is no cell phone service or wifi.  I had to use a pay phone make a call.  I didn't know pay phones even existed any more!  But that's another story…)
Taking this picture was scary for me.  That is a dramatic ledge in the foreground.

On Saturday, we took a five-hour hike at high altitude.  We had a blast slipping and sliding through deep snow and drinking in spectacular vistas.  We truly do live in America, the beautiful.

Snow…in July?
 Back at the lodge, we plopped down on our beds and began reading.  Soon though, I fell asleep.


In addition to her other skills, Susan is an accomplished animal tracker.

When I awoke, Susan was so excited.  "I heard a moose!!"  she said.  "I jumped up to look out the window but I couldn't see it.  So I tracked the sound to its source and I found…
…..it was YOU."





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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ode to Friendship

September 11, 1976, was one of the luckiest days of my life.  I had my first baby that day AND I met a lifelong friend.

As they were wheeling me down the hallway after my surgery, Margaret Large was sending a fervent prayer to GOD that the raucous lady on the stretcher would NOT be deposited in the empty bed next to hers.  God, in his infinite wisdom, ignored her.  That's how we ended up laughing so hard that our stomachs hurt.  We've laughed a lot during our friendship.  And cried some, too.  Life is like that.  

Margaret is the reason that I became a vegetarian.  She gave me a book called The Supermarket Handbook and that did it for me.  She never quite made the switch but that didn't stop me from trying.  She's also the reason that I eat spaghetti, but that's a story too gross to tell...

Because of Margaret, I own my very favorite jacket, a boiled wool classic that has seen years of use, with no end in sight.  "It's too expensive!" I lamented.  "It's classy.  Buy it." she said.  So I did.  Everyone needs a sensible friend like that.

Because our friendship spans decades, the stories go on, on and on.  We never lived near each other, but back in the day, our families would both go to her parents' house in North Vernon and spend weekends together there. It was a quieter life there than we led, and the people worked a lot harder too.  A trip to the Suhre farm meant lots of laughter and lots of great food!  Our visits always were mentioned in the grapevine section of the local paper which was a huge thrill for the kids.

An avid quilter, Margaret would say, "If I could just get you to try it, I know you'd love it as much as I do!"  The day came when she arrived for a visit, bringing two sewing machines and demanding that we make my first quilt together.  I consented to make a lap quilt and she told me I'd regret not making it big enough to put on a bed. You know what?  She was right.  It's so beautiful; I treasure it!  When we were finished though, we both knew that would be my only quilt.  She gave it the old college try though!

Meanwhile, Bob, her big, huggable teddy bear of a husband sat on my deck and cheerfully read novels.  That was Bob, quiet and steady - he and Margaret had been in love since grade school.   

We stayed in touch year after year, through happy and sad - and there were some big happies and some really big sads.  That's what friends do.  Margaret and her husband Bob were our friends.  The really, really best kind. My life has been better because of our friendship. 

"When God wants me, there is no man who can stand in his way." (I think that was said by Beth in one of the film versions of Little Women.)  Yesterday, God wanted my dear friends Bob and Margaret.  I would have stood in his way if I could have.  I'm not alone, either.  

 There are no words to express the sadness that everyone who knew them feels.
Jerry only dances with close male friends


PS  To the idiot reporter who covered their car accident, 66 IS NOT ELDERLY!!!

Feeling the Heat

Jerry and I are walking around downtown Salt Lake City and it feels hotter than yesterday - and yesterday it was 103 degrees.  Then, we pass a woman who's wearing black jeans and - this is no lie - a bulky black sweater.  Later we saw another gal in blue jeans and a sweatshirt wearing the hood up.  Wow. 

Downtown we saw so many men wearing suits that we got bored taking pictures.


We may be hicks living in the deep south, but at least we know how to dress for hot weather.  

There is only one possible explanation.  They're aliens.  From. Another. Planet.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

From the Archives

Last evening my daughter Kate was visiting Jerry and me and somehow the conversation took an ugly turn.  By that I mean that one of them inadvertently discovered that I have 1,358 emails in my account.  What??  I swear I didn't get the point until they both stopped laughing long enough to disclose that neither of them have any emails saved.  Zero.  Really?

After they were finished pouncing on me and I'd completed licking my emotional wounds, I realized that a whole new area of potential stress had just been introduced.  Like anybody really needs that!  Am I'm supposed to take time from shoveling out my physical world to address this virtual clutter?  Why should I even care?  Let these hundreds of messages float around in the cloud for all eternity, I just can't whip up the enthusiasm to address this.

Instead of correcting this obvious flaw in my character by initiating a frenzy of deletion, I decided to change my perspective.  I checked with a friend who revealed that every email I've ever sent has been put in a special file devoted just to my messages so they can be reread and laughed at anytime the spirit inspires.  So it's not just me then.  Some of us use our emails as virtual diaries!  It's not a vice, it's a virtue.  

Here is one of my oldest email threads, coauthored by my husband and his friend Jack. It's dated January, 2010 - right after I opened my gmail account. (Not only do I save my own emails, I save ones where I was only a passive observer.)  The addresses have been xxxx'd out to protect the innocent.


From: Jerry@vonxxx.com[mailto:jerry@vonxxx.com]
Sent: Saturday, January 16, 2010 6:59 PM
To: scxxxxxx@kami.comjcxxxxxx@gmail.com
Subject: Contact Information

Beginning at 11:47 AM EDST today I will be known as Lord Edward FitzGerald.
 ------------------------------
Sent: Sunday, January 17, 2010 12:23 AM
Tojerry@vonxxxxxxx.com
Subject: RE: Contact Information

Yes, your Ugliness. I live to serve.  Did you check to see if 
IamADufus.com was available? 
Actually, I'm jealous as hell.

----------------------------------

Date: January 17, 2010 at 9:30:16 AM EST
Cc: Chris
Subject: RE: Contact Information
Reply-To: jerry@vonxxxx.com

Mr. and Mrs. Chxxxx;

1. Why? I had no choice
 
2. Made up name? This name was conferred upon me by the universe. 
3. New development: At 9:20 this morning Chris informed me that she would like to be referred to as Lady Grace. 
4. Myfriendsucksatmakingupnames.com: This link does not exist.


Lord Edward FitzGerald
---------------------------------------

I sent these emails to Kate and Jerry and they laughed.  They couldn't have done that without me, because they've deleted all the fun right out of their email boxes.


Fondly submitted,

Lady Grace FitzGerald   

















www.StillSwimmingUpstream.com

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Preferences

I've been married almost four decades.  That's eons in dog years and a fairly long time even for humans.  Still, I find out new things about my significant other every day.

Recently, for example, I realized that it drives Jerry cah-ray-zee that I leave the stickers on the avocado skins when I pitch them into the compost bin.  At least that one's an easy fix.  Done.  Check that one off my list.

Just this past Monday, Jer mentioned to me that he really doesn't like wearing undershirts with v-necks.  Again, interesting but not earth shattering.  He has always bought his own unmentionables, so that's why this tidbit has never come to light before now.  

Also, turns out that my husband likes matchy-matchy furniture. Who knew? Nobody, nobody who ever set foot in our house would have guessed that.   

But it gets worse.  Jerry recently admitted that he does not like antiques.  He thinks of them as just "old."  He specifically dislikes antique dressers.  "The drawers stick," he said.
   
How Chris feels about the dresser
How Jerry feels

Jerry admitted he prefers something more modern, not "used junk."  Something made of pressed cardboard, sawdust and feathers instead of real wood, perhaps?

For eighteen years we lived in historic homes and guess how they were furnished?  We brought that same furniture with us here so my husband has apparently suffered in silence for longer than it takes a baby to reach the age of maturity.   

Oddly enough, under our beautiful, antique, hand-carved double bed from the 1800s, was a queen size bed from IKEA that we are storing for our daughter. You don't get much more modern than that.

Since we also were storing the matching dresser and bookshelf in our garage, it was easy to decide to take the high road and change the bedroom furniture. (But, as is evidenced by this blog, the altitude was not high enough that I'm not whining about it.  In truth, I guess I took the middle road.)  After a lot of carrying furniture from one floor to another (by Jerry, of course), we now have an IKEA bedroom suite, all matching, all finished in the same black/brown espresso color.  

Although the stuff is technically still "used," Jerry is very pleased.  Whenever I open the door though, I feel like I'm stepping into a Motel Six.

(He's soooo worth it.)




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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Shoes

While I was on my recent vacation up north, my sister and I were cruising through the store everybody shops at but nobody admits going to. (Don't pretend you don't know where I was.  If I hadn't been out of town, I probably would have run into you there.) 

When we got to the children's section, there was an aisle display of tiny shoes with heels on them.  As an adult, I am appalled that they sell these to children. They are not being sold as "dress up," they are being marketed as shoes - and by a manufacturer that I used to buy baby shoes from.  It horrifies me. 


As a child, my reaction would have been different. I'm certain I would have thrown a tantrum worthy of prime-time television right on the floor in front of that display in an effort to secure a pair of these babies for my very own.  (It might have just worked, too.)  

Decades ago, I recall begging my mother to buy little high heels for me that were sold with the cheap toys in the grocery store.  They had high black heels, silver soles and black elastic over the top.  When I was lucky enough to finally score a pair, the heel broke off the first time that I put weight on it.  That was not enough to keep me from coveting a new pair next time, but it was enough to keep my mother from buying me them.  

My mother had an entire closet devoted to shoes alone, so I come by my love of footwear honestly.  (Yes, Kate, I am aware that I wore only Crocs for a decade, but that was because I broke my foot and only Crocs were comfortable.)

When I was a preschooler, Mom took me to get a new pair of summer shoes. We went all over town trying on different pairs, and each time I told her that they hurt my feet.  Mom drove to a neighboring town and experienced more of the same results, a crabby Chris with sore feet.  After I'd complained bitterly over and over that all the shoes I'd tried on hurt, we arrived at the final store and the clerk brought out one last pair for me to try on.

When I saw him approaching me, I couldn't contain my delight.  "That's what I wanted," I exclaimed, "RED shoes!" 


I'd be wearing these today if only they were my size!


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