Kermit Wasn’t Always Right

Dear little Kermit the Frog. I love his humbleness and easy going manner. Remember his ditty, “It Ain’t Easy Being Green?” He was talking about being different and I agree, that isn’t easy but when we are talking about being more environmentally conscious we can do lots of little things that make little differences and lots of little differences equal something significant

I have a challenge for you. Read the following ten easy things. If you already do all of them then hats off to you and you need to share at least one more tip in the comments that the rest of us can put into practice. If you don’t do all of them pick a few to turn into new habits. The earth will thank you.

Every cow releases 70 -120 kg of methane gas each year. Can I get an excuse me!

Eat More Chicken – Even if you just can’t commit to Meatless Monday consider cutting back on the amount of beef that you eat. Beef consumption is at an all time high and this equals more cattle. Cows burp and fart, they burp and fart a lot and that releases methane gas which is a serious risk to the ozone. If we cut back on eating beef farmers will not need to increase the number cattle that they raise for this purpose.

Raising the deck of your mower will not cause you to need to mow more often.

Raise the Deck on Your Lawn Mower – I used to think that mowing my grass short would allow me to not mow as often but it always looked shaggy in a few days. A friend of mine that has a lawn mowing service told me that raising the blade will reduce the growth of weeds and the lawn will look more even. I was skeptical at first but now I keep the deck raised high and my lawn looks better. I also do not need to use as many chemicals and that is earth and budget friendly

Hanging your clothes to dry saves energy, saves money and clothes will look newer longer

Give you clothes dryer a break – Purchase drying rack (if you can’t install a clothesline) Put your clothes in the dryer for just a few minutes to remove the wrinkles then hang them up to dry. Besides the reduction in energy you will be surprised how much longer your clothes stay looking new.

Reusable shopping bags It takes a little practice to teach yourself to remember to take and reuse your own shopping bags but stick with it and you will bet the hang of it. When self check out stations were new I found that bringing my own bag always slowed things down because the camera thought my shopping bag was something that I was trying to get around scanning. They have made many improvements and that rarely happens now. I know some people that will not use self check out because they say that eliminates a job. Maybe but at least the automated system says things like welcome, please and thank you.

Never, ever, never leave your pets waste behind. It is called being a good neighbor!

Pick up trash –When you go for a walk around your neighborhood take along some sort of bag. I suggest one that came with a product that you had to purchase such as bread or produce. Look for litter as you walk and grab it up. Cleaner earth and a little extra stretching from bending and picking. Win/Win.

Use your Public Library – Years ago I used to purchase every book I read. Now I wish I had that money back. I love books but have matured to the place that I no longer have to own so many. More recently I enjoyed reading on a Kindle. For the first few years it saved a lot of money. Not so much these days. I am one of those people that takes really good care of their stuff so when my 3rd Kindle stopped working even though it had been treated with TLC I was finished. Besides books most public libraries offer many other activities and events and either low or no cost.

It will taste better on a real plate and eaten with real cutlery that gets washed and used over and over.

Paper Plates and plastic cutlery – I know a man that almost never washes dishes. The first reason is that he eats out or gets carry out about 4 to 5 times a week. The other reason is that he uses paper plates and plastic cutlery all the time. I keep a stash of paper plates but a package of 50 will last well over a year. I also like eating from a real dish. I am not a big fan of take-out but on those rare occasions I often find that they have added 3x the number of napkins I will need and a little sealed up bag with plastic cutlery. I add the napkins to my holder and I tuck the plastic away for traveling or other times when dish washing is not an easy option.

Make your own window cleaner. 2 cups water, 1 cup rubbing alcohol and a tablespoon of ammonia in a spray bottle

Use cleaning rags not paper towels – I have noticed while visiting others or when they visit me that most people use a crazy number of paper towels. Try to look to paper towels for things like emergency spills or for jobs where if a cleaning cloth was used it would have to be thrown away instead of washed. For most jobs you will find that a good old cotton rag or microfiber cloth will work much better. When you wash them do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets. Besides saving on softeners they will clean better and without streaks.

Plan meals to avoid waste –If you have a large family this probably isn’t an issue but cooking for just one or two makes not wasting a little more of a challenge. A few of my favorite ways to reduce cooking and wasted food is when a roast or grill chicken I make several pieces. The left overs are good to use in casseroles, salads or just reheated. There are lots of little left over tid-bits that make yummy salad additions. If you have just a few berries, or other fruits throw them into the salad bowl. The same idea works with other salads with a mayo or oil and vinegar base. Pizza is another good place to add small amounts of left over meats and vegetables.

Not sure if it is should go into compost or the garbage? Google or Alexa will be happy to help you out.

Compost – I don’t live in a location where a backyard compost heap is practical. However a few years ago my church created a community compost. I simply save vegetable peels and other compostables in a sealed tub I store in the freezer. After church each week I just empty it into the community compost and start again. Easy Peasy.

Little things mean a lot, not just in our relationships with people but also in how we respect this beautiful planet the Lord has provided to us and trusted in our care. Have a blessed day!

We’re #1

We’re number, We’re number 1!  It’s perhaps the most basic of all fan chants and it’s typically attached to a sports team and accompanied by gleeful whoops, jumping, hugs and even chest bums. We love out sports. When asked who are your teams, the answers are quick and easy, right?  Just for the record mine are, University of Kentucky Basketball, followed by Villanova Basketball and Chicago Cubs Baseball.

    It is human nature to want to feel a part of something greater than ourselves and sports may very well be the best stage. It isn’t much fun to watch a game if you don’t care who wins. I have been to the first and second round of NCAA men’s basketball tournament several times where my companions and I watched multiple games in a day.  I always picked a team to cheer for even if I had previously never given them a second thought.

    At one such tournament game we found ourselves sitting in a section surrounded by students from Georgia Tech. They were a most enthusiastic group and they shouted their fight song with reckless abandon. They must have assumed that we were fans too and so it was that I cheered right along with them and even made an effort to join in their fight song. It was hilarious at the time because in their excitement and with the roar of the crowd the only words we thought we were sure of sounded like, “and we’re all engineers.” Now I know they were actually chanting, “a helluva an engineer!” It really is a great fight song, check it out.   

    Another cool thing about sports is that it allows us to exhibit behavior that would be deemed crazy in almost any other venue.  Some men will attend a football game bare chested in the middle of winter other die hard fans paint their faces with the teams colors. We don’t worry about friends or family that shout at that referees even if it is on their television. That is considered normal fan behavior the same as cheering and shouting when we like the way the game is going or the exasperated cries when our team makes mistakes dares to lose.   Ok, I admit I find it amusing when people shout at televisions, but it doesn’t make me question the person’s sanity if they’re watching a sport, the way it would if they shouted at the television during episodes of The Voice or This Is Us.

    Sports give us an excuse to dress up in clothes that identify us as part of the team.  While I am not big into clothes with graphics or officially licensed gear I still have a Chicago Cubs windbreaker jacket that I wear in the spring. It isn’t unusual to hear a shout,”Go Cubs” while wearing the jacket and when I turn I find a stranger that smiles and gives me a thumbs up I smile back. They are letting me know that they too are a fan and therefore we have a kind of bond even though we don’t know each other and probably never will.  That is kind of crazy when you think about it.

      When a group of fans talk about their team’s victory they say things like, “We’re Number 1!” or “We Won!”  When the same team is defeated the same people say things like, “They threw it away” or “They lost”. Without thinking about it we tend to distance ourselves when the final score declares someone else the winner.  I mean, who wants to be a loser? No one jumps up and down screaming, “We’re number two.” We are more inclined to mumble wait until next year.

What makes us pick particular teams to be our favorites? It can’t be because of the players, they come and go quickly especially when college players get drafted after a single season. Few admit it, but it can be as something as simple as the team colors or that we like mascot. Sometimes it has to do with location.  In professional sports players get traded all the time yet we remain loyal to the team because there home field or court is close to where we live our still where we grew up.

Mascots like the Phillie Phanatic are smart marketing. Kids love it and that can lead to making a life-long fan.

   Sometimes teams even get purchased and relocated.  For the majority of fans that is the deal breaker. I can’t see the Cubs ever leaving Chicago but if they were moved to another city I think fans would react as if the team had given them divorce papers. I know I would. I would whine about how I had stuck with them through season after awful season and waited over half of my life for them to win a World Series. I would want to pout like a jilted soon to be ex-spouse with cries of, “How could you do this to me?”

In case you are wondering, I grew up in Northwest Indiana, not far from Chicago. I learned about baseball sitting on the arm of my dad’s recliner as we watched WGN and he explained things like RBI’s and sacrifices. It was not uncommon for me to get my dolls and seat them on the couch to watch the game with me. My dad (probably knowing they would be pitiful for decades) promised me that when they went to series he would be sure I was there to watch. Alas, my father died before that happened. I did finally make it to The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in my forties along with my son, a White Sox fan (somethings are beyond explanation!) It was an experience I will never forget. It even landed me on ESPN for about three seconds. Derek Lee clobbered a pitch that I knew was going to send the ball out to Waveland Avenue. I sprang to my feet and let out a whoop full of southern drawl and as I turned my head there was the ESPN camera guy guy inches away.

I bleed University of Kentucky Blue

    I cheer for the University of Kentucky and my reasons are easy enough, that is where I attended college and earned my first degree.  In some ways I might even feel like I am a sort of special fan because my bachelor’s degree and my favorite team share the same name. There is no shortage of UK basketball fans among people that not only did not attend the school but have never set foot on campus. My theory is it goes back to wanting to belong. Kentucky doesn’t have any major professional sports team making it all the easier to cheer for the Wildcats. It also doesn’t hurt that they are the winningest team in college basketball, that is the cherry on top of our sports ice cream sundae. When they win, we win. At least it feels that way to fans.

    I am not exempt from enjoying being part of something fun and successful. Even though I sometimes go several years in a row without attending a game it never fails that when I am in the stands of Rupp Arena or Commonwealth Stadium (I can’t bring myself to call it Kroger Field) and the band starts playing the fight song I stop talking, I stand up and a smile spreads over my face as I clap to the beat.

My reasons to cheer for Villanova in every game they play other than when their competitor is my beloved Kentucky Wildcats takes a little more explanation. I have never set foot on their campus. I honestly don’t think I know anyone that earned a degree from the small Pennsylvania University.

Hard-core college basketball fans may remember the 1985 tournament. Little, 8 seed, Villanova started winning and was dubbed the Cinderella team. I decided to cheer for them because anytime I don’t have a favorite team in the mix I opt to cheer for the underdog (as if my cheering makes a difference). My Kentucky Wildcats had been eliminated in the third round so I figured I would just continue to cheer for the team with the same mascot and colors that needed all the help and Hail Mary’s they could get.

The final game was played at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY. Unfortunately I was a first year teacher and was barely making my rent and car payment. Buying a ticket was out of the question.

They didn’t let me down and they beat Georgetown, who for reasons I don’t recall was high on UK fan’s hate list, and became the season champions. The game is still often referred to as the perfect game. Villanova still holds the record for being the lowest seeded team to win the tournament.

In 2016 I decided to fill out a bracket for the pool at work. I hadn’t been watching lots of games but I felt certain it was not in the cards for the Big Blue Nation (UK) to go far. I also knew that many die-hard fans and co-workers would select UK to be the champion in their bracket just because some fans think that is the way a real fan behaves.

My bracket was close to immaculate and I had selected the Wildcats from Pennsylvania, not Kentucky to win it all. Some made fun and said I wasn’t a real wildcat. That was a bit funny to me since out of almost 100 staff members I was one of either three or four that had actually attended UK. A few were all but rude over it but I didn’t mind because after the final game was over I took home the money. See why I like Villanova?

Who do you cheer for and why? Do you scream at the referees even if it is just on TV? I would love to hear your favorite and/or funny sports memory. Use the comment sections and share about the teams you love and the the ones you hate.

Photo credits to Blake Guidary, Heather Mcguire and Markus Spiske on unsplash.

 

I Admit that I Photo-shopped My Dog

Dang! (yes, we say that in Kentucky), Amanda looked really amazing! Her complexion flawless with no tell-tale signs of aging that one would expect for a woman who is younger than me, but approaching 50. Her teeth sparkled like a Colgate commercial.  Her thighs were as smooth as a Baywatch babe and her stomach was almost flat. Those were the thoughts that bounced around in my somewhat sleepy, fairly distracted brain as I scrolled through posts on Facebook.

   I made a mental note to ask her about her skin care regime and to try pay attention to the exercises she was doing at the gym since they were clearly producing results. I suppose I could have asked her in the comments under the picture, but that seemed a little too out there.  I scrolled through the comments that others had posted and noticed other friends had spotted her youthful appearance and beautiful skin. Comments exclaimed things like, “you look amazing!” or “Beautiful!!!” There were also double digit numbers of likes and loves tied to the photo.

I hope people don’t believe the number of “likes” they get on social media reflects their worth as a person.

 I scrolled back up to the picture for another look.  Dang! Her husband, Ben looked incredibly good too.

Ben is a very large man. I couldn’t help but notice that he looked different than the last time I saw him.  I double clicked on the picture to get a better look at my friend and her hubby.   That was when it hit me, they looked too good. No sign of little wrinkles at the corners of their eyes.  There was barely any sign of a smile line on Amanda and her husband didn’t have any smile line at all. That was probably what made me realize that she had used Photoshop or some other app and worked on the picture before she posted it.  Their complexions were smooth and flawless. Ben’s double chin had disappeared and their bodies had been nipped and tucked without cosmetic surgery.  

I couldn’t help myself and opened up her page to investigate more photos.  There was a photo of Amanda taken either at the gym or as she heading there based on the clothes she was wearing and her hair being pulled back with a matching headband.  In that picture she appeared at least 20 pounds smaller than when I saw her in person earlier in the week. Her tummy was much closer to flat, her waistline more defined and her biceps and thighs were firm and dimple free.

 I couldn’t help but wonder how much time was spent getting the pictures just the way she wanted them.  Were others fooled like I was at first glance? Who else noticed and decided to either go ahead and post compliments and be kind enough not to mention that they could tell the photo was altered? I decided, that for me, no response was the best route.

 I took a closer look at other friends pictures that had recently been posted.  Amanda was not the only one who had apps and skill in “photo-cosmetic surgery”. I would guess between 5 and 10 percent of the pictures had been altered and that may be a low estimate since I have numerous friends on social media that I do not see in person on a regular basis. I pondered why this was such a popular trend.

  “What’s the harm?, Who is being hurt? asked my inner voice. After a little further contemplation I wondered how Ben felt about having his appearance altered.  Maybe he was ok with it, maybe he asked to be photo-shopped. For all I knew, he might be the one versed in photo altering skills.

 Next, I wondered what Amanda and Ben’s teen-aged son and elementary-aged daughter thought about it.  They were also in the picture that I first noticed and they had been tagged making it reasonable to believe they had seen the picture.  Did Jake laugh about his Father’s missing chins or did he perhaps quietly go to the mirror to inspect his own face for any sign of flaws.  Did the fact that his blemishes had been erased make him happy or more self-conscious about the 2-3 pimples that normally appeared on his forehead?  If Tara’s picture had been altered I couldn’t tell. Did that boost her confidence or did it make her a little worried that her real appearance would soon not be good enough on it’s own.

 Ten years ago women worried that their daughters would have low self-esteem because they compared themselves to the models in magazines and on television who had been airbrushed and touched up to look like the makeup and fashion industry’s version of perfect.  Now we see that standard of unrealistic appearance spreading across social media and going beyond celebrities and to the people we actually see and know. Does the typical female see herself as average or beautiful? Take a peek at this video-taped experiment conducted by Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DdM-4siaQw

Choose Beautiful

 When did we decide that we were no longer pretty enough, skinny enough and aging well enough to let others see us as we really are?  Will we continue the trend to the point that we avoid being seen in public because we don’t want anyone to see what we really look like.

 Do you remember the movie Face Off that starred Nicholas Cage and John Travolta?  I have to wonder if there won’t be a business in the near future where a person can design the face they want and have a mask made that that could be worn almost the whole time.

Perhaps, we will we soon reach the point that we remove our masks as we climb into bed and place them on the nightstand the way I do my glasses?

 I even wonder if this obsession has caused some to go out in public less because they fear they can’t live up to the image of their own pictures.  If it does, then businesses like Amazon, drive-through windows, food delivery and ordering our groceries online have to love it.  No, I don’t think this is at the level of conspiracy theory, but we know that social media and other technology advances have prompted us to be less face-to-face social.  We no longer have to leave our homes for things that used to take us out in public. I am not sure this a good thing (as I sit in front of my computer wearing my fuzzy robe and slippers and haven’t even brushed my teeth yet after waking up).

I try to take good care of my skin and I go to the gym and run but I have wrinkles and some extra pounds.  Maybe I am just too lazy to spend time altering the photos I post on social media, but it’s more than that, I want to be authentic and if I see a friend at the grocery store I want them to recognize me and not have thoughts about how I seem to have aged 10 years and gained ten pounds since they saw me on Instagram last week.

On the flip-side, I still use make-up (most days) and have my hair-dresser cover my grey every five weeks. I am just not ready to alter my pictures, it somehow feels like cheating. But that is just me, to each his or her own.

Perhaps that’s why I only update my profile pictures about every year and half and post more dog pictures than selfies.  I can’t take a holier than thou stance either; I reluctantly admit that I posted a pic of my pooch one time and used a red filter to bring out the highlights in her coat.  Is that bad? I hugged my beloved dog and asked her if she minded that I had enhanced her picture. She gave me a lick and a look that seemed to say, “Whatever, just give me a cookie”.

While the ideas in this post are based on my real experiences, Amanda, Ben, Jake and Tara are fictional. I may be getting old enough to start to turn off my filter but I am not crazy enough to call out friends in my blog!

Thanks to lidya-nada-63831-6, fernand-de-canne-532399, brandon-anderson-10552 on unsplash for the use of their photos.

My Dysfunctional Stick Family

I am afraid I may be responsible for the term Dysfunctional Family. Sorry about that!

I am just a little bit sad that the stick family window decal trend is quickly fading away even though I never participated.  Maybe folks think they have taken this trend as far as possible.

My wacky family was dysfunctional to the point that I found I had to laugh.  Like they say, “Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and your make-up makes you look psycho”

 In theory the stick family decal evolved from the Baby On Board signs that preceeded them.  Moms and dads wanted to have a little recognition too so someone decided to make a stick family with a Mom, Dad and baby.  Awe, how cute said everyone when they saw one of these for the first ten times.

 Families change, its what they do, so more kids were added along with everything from pets, to golf clubs and hula hoops. Changing families equaled new decals.  I bet there are some smart folks with dye-cut machines that made a fortune on custom stick family decals alone. Kind-of like the stock I never purchased back when Apple or Amazon were just starting. Hindsight…

Stick Family of the “Crazy Cat Lady”

 Animal lovers, wanting to prove that their pets are part of the family, added little stick dogs or cats or in some cases both.  On rare occasion I saw stick guinea pigs or hamsters. I never saw a stick family for a “crazy cat lady” but I bet there were a few out there.

 Americans can never just settle into a trend. Instead, we keep morphing the darn thing until it ridiculous. It wasn’t long until the stick families had accessories, most often sports related.  The characters boasted pom-poms, soccer balls, football helmets and various other items that helped to set them apart from the not as talented stick families on other cars.

 My favorites were the ones that got silly and creative.  I remember laughing out loud while driving down the road by myself when I noticed the SUV ahead of my had a stick family with a Mom, Dad, three kids and of descending height followed by a triceratops.  I wonder if one of the adults or perhaps one of the clever kids came up with that? A+ for originality. Other creative folks wanting to make their stick family stand out from the crowd turned their stick family into robot figures, Star Wars characters and even a family of monkeys.

 My only child was grown before this trend got going but had it been around when he was a kid I could have started with the generic mom, dad, kid and dog decal.  The only thing consistent among families is that they change and mine was no exception. I divorced the dad and insisted he take the dog with him when he left. Oops. I suppose if I had the decal I could have x’ed out the man and the dog.  I could have left people guessing about what happened to them. Perhaps a divorce or maybe the “X” was buried out in the back yard next to Fido. Something to think about, especially for those prone to tailgating.

 Later I remarried and had a “blended family”.  He and I, along with my son and his son all lived under one roof but he also had two adult daughters. The younger of his two girls came into my family complete with a husband and two daughters (my step-granddaughters) and the other daughter was a cloistered Catholic Nun.  Hmmm, how would we draw that family? Perhaps the Nun could have been set over over to the side and encapsulated by an outline map of Texas, since that is where she lived. The other step daughter along with her hubby and two kids in their own outline map of Florida.  I pictured the back window getting rather crowded and wondered if I really had such a decal if it would have been breaking any stick family rules to scrape off the X and his dog.

 My son was one of those kids that wanted to make a pet out of everything.  At different times he had a rabbit, a parakeet, a hamster, various insects and a lizard named speedy. One day he even came in with a slug. That was where I drew the line and made him take slimy back outside followed by a really long scrub session in the bathtub. He never tried to bring a snake inside, probably because I had him convinced that if he ever so much as touched one that I would be forced to put him up for adoption. Even if the rear window could have accommodated all these vinyl figures I would have likely been pulled over and ticketed because of the obstructed view.

 My blended family didn’t survive, primarily because I didn’t share the same affection that my husband did for his girlfriend.  How would that be depicted in the decal? Perhaps I could have added her wearing a witch hat and riding a lightening bolt that divided the family leaving me and my kid separated from all the others.  I think I am starting to understand why the stick family decals are losing popularity. Still, wouldn’t it be a little on the funny side to see some of these extended/blended dysfunctional families as stick characters?

 I admit I am a slow learner when it comes to matters off the heart and I tried a third time with marraige.  Both my son and #3’s daughter were grown so maybe that decal would have just had the two of us. I don’t know how you make a stick figure look middle aged; that decal sounds either boring or disturbing.  Alas, that marriage didn’t stick either. Now I could have a decal with me followed by three men with X’s over their stick figures. Some would laugh, others could get busy judging me and my lack of talent at being a wife.

 Another idea would be keep the three X’ed out male figures followed by a little frame that reads, “Your Picture Here”.  I think it would be freaking hilarious except the real possibility that every creep and scum-bag that saw it would take it seriously.  That would not be good or funny.

 No wonder the stick family is going away.  Scraped off with a razor blade like so many stickers of politicians that didn’t win.

 Currently folks seem to enjoy the decals with three letters that stand for the town of their favorite vacation spot.  I’m not entirely sure what that is all about but I admit that my SUV is not free from decoration either. I have a 26.2 decal on the window and my license plate frame reads, “My Labradoodle is Smarter than Your Honor Student”.  

 I would love to hear a description of your crazy stick family decal or others you enjoyed seeing while driving down the road.  What about other decals or frames, do like them?, hate them? Do you read them or can you pass by without a second glance?

 Have a great week my peeps and when out on the road watch out for the texters and road rage nuts

Peanut Butter and Socks

 It was really cold here in south central Kentucky this morning, somewhere between 15 and 20 degrees making it my favorite temp for running.  I dressed in my high tech running clothes that are engineered to keep me warm but still wick the sweat away from my skin. I laced up my shoes that I reserve only for running.  I stretched, got my I-pod, blue-tooth earbuds and my dog. We drove just over a mile to the recreation center where I park when running in town and off we went.

Best running partner ever. She is always ready to go and lets me set the pace.

 As Bella, my Labradoodle, and I were driving home I turned onto Bourne Avenue and I spotted a man kneeling on the corner of the sidewalk with his bottom atop of his feet.  His head was bowed down and his cardboard sign was face down in front of him. He could have been praying but most likely was trying to conserve as much body heat as possible while resting his weary bones.

 I am ashamed to admit that there have been times that I would have felt bad for him but continued on my journey.  Today I couldn’t do that. I had already pulled into the parking lot when I remembered that I not only didn’t have my purse with me but I also didn’t have my phone since I didn’t want the cold to drain the battery.  Maybe it was the childhood lesson about not talking to strangers; but I initially hesitated to approach him directly. Between me and the man kneeling at the corner some 50 yards away was a man pumping gas into his SUV and I approached him instead.

“I am wondering if we should call someone for this man”, I started, “ I hate that he is out here like this in the cold.  I don’t have my phone with me.” The man explained that he did not have his phone with him either but suggested I ask the store owner.  Maybe he really didn’t have his phone, maybe he didn’t want to be involved. I probably didn’t look overly trustworthy myself with my red cheeks and hair standing on end where I had just pulled off my ear warming headband.

I went into the store and talked to the owner about the situation and asked if perhaps he could call the police so that the man might get help.  The store owner was nice enough to me but seemed rather perturbed about the man at the corner. “Is he out there again? I have told him not to be there.”

I stepped back outside and decided that I could not just drive off.  It was full daylight, I didn’t have anything like a purse for him to grab or steal from me and it’s a small town.  I decided to not be afraid. That’s right, I decided to not be afraid of him hurting me in someway, or someone else driving by and wondering why I was talking to the man, I even decided to not fear that he might follow me back to my locked car where my dog patiently waited for me in the backseat.

He did not look up as I approached.

“Sir”, I asked, “Are you ok, is there someone I could call for you?”

  My questions were ridiculous.  He could have responded with, “Do I look ok to you? or “Yeah, call Ghostbusters”.  He cast his eyes up at me and I saw that He was younger than I expected and beneath the smudges on his face he was a nice looking man. It is possible that he is some kind of addict but he didn’t look the part.   He simply stated, “I’m hungry”.

He quickly went on  to say more about how he wanted to find work but people were not helping him.  “I just need something to eat, maybe a fudge round. I can work for it”

The man before me was truly hungry and he wasn’t asking me for $10, or to buy his groceries or pay his bills,  he was hoping for one fudge round that cost about 20 cents.

Photo courtesy of jonathan-rados on unsplash.com

I explained that I didn’t have any money on me because I had just finished running but that I only lived about mile away and that I could go home and get food for him and come right back.  He told me the food had to be sealed up because people had tried to poison him or give him food that they had spit on. I realized that might be true or it might be an indicator that he suffers from mental illness, either way I felt a sense of urgency in getting him food.

 I promised I would come right back.  “Five minutes”, I told him. As I turned to go back to the car he called out, “My feet are really cold, if you have some socks”

 At home I didn’t close the garage door and left the car running. Inside I grabbed a plastic bag and tossed in an unopened jar of peanut butter, a bag of animal crackers, a bottle of water and a spoon.  I opened my sock drawer and right on top were my expensive, thick wool socks that I had bought to wear with my hiking boots. I started to dig deeper in the drawer and thought better of it. I stuffed the socks into the bag knowing he needed them much more than I did.  

He was still there.  I gave him the bag and when he looked inside he exclaimed, “Peanut butter!”  You would have thought it was a hundred dollar bill from the appreciation in his voice.  “Socks, too!’ The man stood up but I certainly didn’t feel threatened. He told me he sleeps in the woods.  I don’t know, but I imagine he has constructed some sort of makeshift shelter.

I encouraged him to walk to the Outreach Center a block away and told him they could probably offer more help.  

 He looked at me and said, “You are the only one out of thousands that helped.  God made me just like he made them, but you are the only one that helped. The only difference in me and them is that I haven’t had a shower.”  My heart went out to him, I couldn’t smell him but he was clearly concerned about his hygiene. I imagined how frustrated I would feel if I didn’t have a way to take care of such basic needs.  “You should feel good about what you did.” he called out as he started to walk in the direction of the Outreach Center.

 I am glad that I helped him out though it was in a small way.  I can’t say I feel good about it. Tomorrow he may be hungry again and face more heartless people.  Mother Teresa said, “We can’t all do great things but we can do small things with great love.”

It isn’t going to be as cold tonight but the wind has decided to blow fiercely.  I need to replenish my supply of peanut butter. I like to share it because of it’s good shelf life and nutrition.  Maybe I need to buy more socks too. I don’t have any hiking planned in the near future but if a person needs peanut butter there is a good chance they could use the socks too.

Stay warm and be well my friends

Written on a cold morning in February 2019

A Different Kind of Apology

 I focused on balancing in tree pose as I stood facing the mirror covered wall in the yoga room. I was alone in the room, ending my Friday exercise regime with some solitary stretches.  I liked that it felt a little indulgent; a way to reward myself at the end of the work week.

 In the mirror’s reflection I saw Millie step quietly into the room so as not to disturb me.  She paused and didn’t approach immediately. I sensed that she had entered the room to talk with me; a private conversation in a place where others would not be able to listen in or observe.  I was grateful for her choice of venue as I was certain that she was there to chew me out. As I came out of the yoga pose and turned towards her I decided that I would hear her out. I would listen to every word and not interrupt; No matter how harsh her tone or vile her words. I would take it because I deserved the verbal lashing that was about to happen.

 Somewhere around two years prior Millie was filling in for a staff member at the school where I worked, that is how we knew one another.  

 One of my school duties was to serve as the 504 coordinator.  504 is the shortened term used for section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  There are many reasons certain children can have a 504 accommodation plan. The plans, individually designed to meet a child’s particular needs, typically outline practices that will happen during the school day to keep the child healthy and safe with access to the educational programs.

 During the hubbub of lunch time, Carol, another school employee stopped by my office.  She looked stressed and explained that she was concerned about a particular student. She proceeded to tell me how Millie had disregarded the directives of this student’s 504 plan and how she was afraid that Millie’s careless ways were putting a child in danger.  I had worked with Carol for sometime, however I had yet to figure out that she is one of those people that adores stirring things up and then sitting back and to observe the drama unfold.

 After thinking things through I reasoned that I would relay Carol’s concern to the principal for her to deal with the issue. Millie was a contract service provider and technically not a school employee; I was not in her chain of command.

 After the school day had ended the principal dropped by my office.  She wanted me to know that Carol had not told the entire story and that when she had delved deeper into the events of the day she discovered that Millie had done nothing wrong, the 504 plan had been followed and Carol was just stirring things up. I had automatically believed Carol just because I knew her and also assumed that Millie was guilty because I didn’t know her other than face and name. We all know what happens when things are assumed.   I was ashamed that I had not talked to Millie before reporting things to the principal. I wanted to apologize but unfortunately Millie had already left.

 I didn’t see Millie again for a long time, probably about 6 months had passed when I switched my workouts at the gym from afternoons to mornings.  Then I saw Millie at the gym three times a week. I tried to make eye contact with her. I wanted to smile at her and if she would smile back or give me any nonverbal cue that we could talk I would give her the apology that was due.  Millie was quite adept in avoiding my glances. A few times I tried to approach her but she always seemed to either be talking to someone else or heading out the door.

  The more time that passed the more I tried to convince myself that she probably didn’t even remember the incident or me.  I tried to ignore the tension that was palpable when we were both in the fitness center. It would be fair to say that I tried to forget the whole thing. I also thought she might refuse my apology or even call me names, others might hear; I would be humiliated.  I did nothing yet every time I saw her I could feel the negativity radiating out from her and being sent directly towards me.

 Clearly, Millie had decided today was the day. She walked across the floor to where I stood.  She asked if I remembered her and I confirmed that I did. I wanted to immediately spring forth with an apology,  but again,I felt any verbal wrath that she might unleash towards me was deserved. She very briefly recounted what had happened two years before asking if I remembered it.  I confirmed that I did.

 What happened next blew me away.  Millie told me that she is a Christian and tries very hard to live her life in a manner pleasing to God.  She explained that since that day, when I was too quick to believe the negative things said about her, that she had harboured thoughts and emotions about me that were very harsh.  Next, Millie looked right at me and asked me to forgive her for her negative thoughts and emotions!

 Hot tears stung my eyes.  Millie was asking for my forgiveness?  She was very sincere and I knew in my heart that this was not some passive aggressive way to get an apology from me.  Initially I was struck speechless. What a beautiful example of Christ’s love standing there in front of me!

 I told her how I had wanted to approach her, to apologize and make things right, to win her forgiveness. I apologized and she accepted but also emphasized that she had not approached me seeking an apology. We talked a little more as the tension that had been thick and dense quickly evaporated.  We both shed some tears and hugged each other before we had to rush on with getting to work and the duties of daily life.  

 Maybe it should have ended there but I couldn’t quit thinking about her kindness.  The next morning while out for my morning run in my own neighborhood I was reminded of Millie’s Christ-like actions as I ran past Valerie’s house.

 Many years before, when my son was in elementary school he and Valerie’s son had played together often.  Valerie had hurt both me and my son by believing something she was told about my family without bothering to ask me or to check into the facts.  If it had just been me it would have been bad enough, but she had hurt my child by not allowing her son to play with him anymore. I was as angry as a mama bear defending her cub except a mama bear can actually attack.  The strength of my negative feeling had waned a little over the years but I never failed to remember the hurt as I would run past her house two times a week.

Don’t get between a Mama Bear and her cub

 It occurred to me that I could decide to handle this in much the same way that Millie had dealt with her anger towards me.  I ran on and went about my day but now each morning that I ran past Valerie’s home I would think about giving her an apology.  I started praying about it, but I really didn’t want to apologize. The more I prayed about it the more I thought about it. I was hoping God would give me an out, that I wouldn’t feel compelled to apologize to this lady who had deeply hurt my child’s feelings.

 When I would imagine the scenario I would often hear her giving me the long over do apology that I thought was due.  When this happened I had to tell my imagination to “Stop”. I knew if I ever approached her my intention had to genuine and not self serving.  I started making myself think about how I would handle it if she reacted in a smug or self-righteous manner. With each passing week I felt more and more that God wanted me to use the example that Millie had set and put it to work in my own life.

 One day as I was heading home from work I suddenly decided, “Today is the day; I am going to just do it.”  I pulled into her driveway instead of passing on by. I walked to the door and rang the bell. After a moment I knocked.  Back in my car and heading home I had to fight off the little voice that wanted to claim, “Oh well, you tried, end of story”.

 Several more days passed and then after driving by Valerie’s home I turned around and headed back; I needed to do this.  Her husband answered the door and I asked if Valerie was home. I could hear the quiver in my own voice. He said she was home but had just laid down to rest.  I started to say I could come back later when she appeared behind her husband in the foyer. The moment had arrived.

 I asked if she remembered the incident and when she acknowledged that she did. I could see the apprehensiveness take over her expression. She had to wonder why I would bring this up after fifteen years, give or take a few, had passed.  I couldn’t hesitate and I gave her a sincere apology for all the negativity that I had saved up over the years. I told her that I felt God was leading me to let all of it go and part of the letting go was to admit that I had clung to bitterness.  She accepted my apology although she looked bewildered.

 Mission accomplished.  As I drove home, glad to have finally put it all behind me, it occurred to me that she did not offer an apology in return.  I immediately reminded myself that it was ok, her apologizing was not part of my mission, my goal was to ask for forgiveness and that was successful.  I slept great that night and the next morning I didn’t think about Valerie at all, even when I passed by her house on my way to work.

 Per my typical morning routine I arrived to my office early. I liked getting a start on the day by checking email and snail mail over a cup of coffee before others poured in and the day became hectic.  When my inbox popped up on the screen there was an email message from, you guessed it, Valerie.  She thanked me for having the courage to give her an apology after such a long time and she apologized for her part in what happened years before.  

 I had not felt it necessary for us to rehash our differences and it seemed she didn’t either.  It was nice that we both seemed to realize that dividing out the blame, one being right and the other being wrong, for the past incident wasn’t necessary.

I have since moved out of the neighborhood which Valerie and I shared and have not happened to bump into her in public, yet I know it would not be uncomfortable if we passed each other on the street or in the grocery store.

 I changed my gym membership about a year ago but still see Millie once in awhile.  It is comfortable and the dark cloud no longer hangs over us.

 I am in no way saying that we need to apologize every time a negative or hurtful thought briefly dances through our brain but when it sits down and tries to embed itself into our core, action is needed and the sooner the better. 

 As I close this reflection I am going to take a little time today for some mental house cleaning.  If during that time if I discover an old hurt that is still lingering around gathering cobwebs in my brain then I will do my best to clear it out.  It is never too late to apologize. I often need to be forgiven for the things I do and things I fail to do; but there are also times I need to be forgiven for my negative thoughts.  I am thankful that God sent Millie to remind me of that.

This story is factual however the names are fictional. If you found this story relevant or inspirational I encourage you to share it with others. Thanks for following and reading.

Pictures provided by, Patrick Hendry, Nathan Lemon, Kat-Ukawa, Tim Wright and Jeremy Perkins. Bear picture provided by Suzanne Pogue and the bears of Cade’s Cove TN.

The Unfinished Business of Tidying Up

 I love to organize things. Yup, Call me a geek, but it actually brings me joy.  When I first noticed the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo I thought I would be the only one to watch it.  I was wrong. I hear more and more people talking about not just watching it, but binge watching the entire series.  Marie can teach you how to tidy up. I can teach you something perhaps more valuable; how to keep things tidy.

I have a theory that my propensity to alphabetize spices and get stressed out by overflowing email inboxes is genetic.  My Mom used to vacuum twice a day. I never got to sleep late on the weekends because I would wake up to the sound of the vacuum cleaner.  That is being clean and tidy. Sadly, I also fell asleep to the same whirring sound because she vacuumed every night. I tried to reason with her and promised her that neither I nor other family members would tread across the floor in the middle of the night.  I assured her that the vacuum and the rest of the family deserved to sleep in the next day. She did not deny my logic but continued with her routine.

 My nephew inherited it.  He has told me about how he has to clean his kitchen and bathrooms with bleach every day and when company is coming he does this before they arrive and after they leave.  His sister, my niece, tells me she is a clean freak as well and I do not doubt it.

 I recently learned from my sister (second cousin, if you must be technical) that Mom came by it, as we southerners like to say, honestly.  Sister Joyce told me that my grandfather used bleach when he did dishes and he also poured boiling water over the dishes after they had been washed.

My grandfather used bleach in his dishwater and then doused the clean dishes with boiling water.

 I keep a really clean house but I don’t bleach things.  Wanna know a dirty little secret? Before I adopted my furchild a year ago I lived mostly by the five second rule in my kitchen.  If the floor had been cleaned in the past couple of days and a tasty treat happened to fall in the floor I could pick it up, pop it in my mouth and not even think about gagging.  Keep in mind that my floor was in the 99th percentile of clean.

5 second rule!

 Don’t worry if you don’t have tidiness as part of your DNA; it is a skill that can be learned by anyone.  I admire Marie Kondo, the soft spoken Japanese woman, who was smart enough to build herself a tidy empire. I however, won’t adopt all of her practices into my life. I admit that if it isn’t necessary and/or doesn’t spark joy then I need to remove it from my home,  but I draw the line at thanking inanimate objects.

 Do you like the idea of entering your home and having the space look inviting and welcoming?  Wouldn’t it be cool to not have to make excuses for the appearance of your home when someone drops in unannounced?  Do you like the idea of knowing where to find things so that you almost never waste precious time searching for lost or misplaced belongings?   I can teach you how to make the tidiness last.  

 For a majority of people, the new found space that they see once they have completed the tidy process sparks joy. Be aware, it may also sparks a little voice in your brain that pleads, “Buy more stuff”.  I hate to break it to you but shopping is not therapy. (Neither is being tidy but that is harder for me to admit.)

If you don’t need it, Don’t buy it.

 Marie Kondo instructs that clothes are the first thing you need to tidy and I couldn’t agree more.  I have three strategies to keep your closets tidy and even more organized than Marie’s methods.

 First, just as Marie instructs you to do in her show, take everything out of the closet and follow her other steps to decide what to keep and what to give up.  After you finish Marie’s steps clean the floors and shelves in the closet. If you have the time and energy you might even paint the walls while it is empty.

 The next part is huge in regards to keeping the closet tidy. Turn the hangers backwards as you put the clothes back on the rack.  After an item has been worn and laundered, and only then, return the item to the closet with the hanger turned the regular way. After six months or in no more than one year remove all the items that are on hangers that never got turned around.  If you have not worn it in that length of time then there is a 99.9% chance that you will never wear it. Thank the item or don’t but get rid of it.

Turning all the hangers backwards once a year will help you identify the clothes that you no longer wear.

 The next thing is to group your clothes by color and type.  To do this first sort items into categories such short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, skirts, dresses and so on.  Next within each category arrange items by color. When you look into my closet at the far left you will find sleeveless and short sleeved tops.  The furthest to the left are white and as your eyes look down the rack the colors get darker so the the right end of the short sleeved tops group has the black items.  When I am choosing clothes it makes finding a particular item much faster and it makes matching up outfits a breeze. Let’s say I want to wear a favorite print skirt and want to pair it with a yellow or perhaps pink top.  I simply take the skirt on it’s hanger and hold it up to the section of my closet that has those colors and I can very quickly decide which item is the best match. Another advantage is that you will become very aware of what colors are taking over your wardrobe and what colors you might want to introduce when you shop.

 Let’s talk about shopping. I used to treat shopping like a sport where the mentality was that; she with the best bargains, or she with the most shoes or even she with the most decorated trees at Christmas was the winner.  Why? I don’t know other than retailers count on us to keep buying so they change styles of clothes and interiors with increasingly rapid frequency.

 Since entering the second half of life I have given myself permission to not care about trends, I simply like what I like.  I have also been blessed with not getting tired of things quickly. I used to feel sorry for older folks that wore clothes that were “out of style” or had homes that had not been redecorated in years.  Now I get it. If I like a new style, then I may update some things, if I don’t, I won’t. Think of it as a perk of being a card carrying member of AARP (or at least eligible) and part of the Baby-Boomer Generation.  

 Before you go shopping step into you tidy closet and do a quick survey.  There was a time that I owned 15 pairs of black pants. Who needs 15 pairs of black pants?   Ridiculous! It doesn’t matter if it is a bargain if you don’t need it.

 Ms. Kondo encourages you to donate your clothing and other items that no longer spark joy and I agree that all of us need to be charitable. All of us need to make a sincere effort to be more mindful about buying lots of clothes and then donating lots of clothes because this habit is really hard on the planet and it doesn’t help the impoverished as much as you might think.

 Only about 10% of donated clothing is resold.  Most of it ends up in landfills where it takes decade upon decade to breakdown and in many cases the dyes leach out into the soil and groundwater causing further harm to the environment.  

Landfill in Nigeria.
Photo by Ayotunde Oguntoyinbo on Unsplash

 Thrift organizations are getting so much clothing that most items are only kept 30 days before being baled up and sold in bulk.  It is not unusual for donated clothes to eventually make it back to the developing nations where the garments were first constructed by underpaid workers.  This hurts these already struggling areas because it adds to their pollution and causes the price of their good to further plummet. The solution is not to donate more but to buy less.  You can learn more about this at sites like, mercola.com

 My third suggestion to help keep your closet tidy and to reduce impulse purchases that seldom or in some cases never get worn is to make a new habit.  When you purchase a new piece of clothing hang it up in a visible place such as a hook over your closet door. Leave it there for a few days, tags still connected.  After a few days give it hard look. Do you like as much as you did in the store? Put it on and look in the mirror, does it look as nice on your particular body as you want it to look?  Does it spark joy? If you answered no to any of those questions then fold it up with the receipt of purchase, put it back in the bag and then put it in a place that will remind you to return it the next time you are in the vicinity of the store.  For me that place is the passenger seat of my car since I typically don’t have anyone riding with me. If the clerk asks the reason for the return don’t be embarrassed, just say you changed your mind or as I like to say, “buyer’s remorse”.

  I want to hear from you.  Do you need more ideas for keeping the other areas of you home tidy?    Are you a neat freak with a system that works for you? Spark a little joy by sharing your hints and suggestions with the rest of us by leaving a comment.

Other photos provided by John-Mark Smith, The Creative Exchange and my personal closet.

Things To Do While Waiting

 The man with no name keyed in the information that I had already given to the service manager, Craig, when I called a few weeks prior to make the service appointment for my vehicle.  I remained courteous even though No Name made me repeat the answers to his questions several times because his squirrel-like attention span caused him to stop his process to respond to his chatty co-worker.  Once No-Name finished his task I reminded him that they were also to either update the Sirius XM portion of my radio or if the update did not solve the problem they were to replace the unit. I will note that the radio has been an ongoing issue and has already been replaced once.  I further note that if No Name had been a bit more professional I would have attempted to learn his name.

 While No Name finished either putting my information into his computer or perhaps he was finishing a game of Assassin’s Creed, service manager, Craig materialized seemingly out of thin air.  He was sporting an out of season pastel plaid tie which was peeking out from his partially zipped windbreaker jacket. He introduced himself and shook my hand. When the door opened for another customer to pull their vehicle into the shop a sudden rush of air splayed my hair all over my face.  As I tried to finger comb my locks out of my eyes and mouth I noted that Craig’s hair remained unscathed.

 To his credit, Craig remembered our phone conversation about my past issues with their service department and he told No Name that my oil change and tire rotation were to be comped.  As Craig stepped away No Name remarked that if the update didn’t solve the problem that they would order a new radio for me. I sweetly let him know that Craig had promised they would have a new radio on hand just in case it was needed.  As I explained, my gaze slipped four feet away where I could tell Craig had heard me but he was pretending to be very busy on his laptop. I may be old but I know that meant that if the update didn’t work then I was out of luck until a radio was ordered and I spent another wasted day at the out of town dealership.  No Name told me the work would take about an hour.

 I settled myself at a table in the waiting area, made myself a cup of complimentary coffee and fired up my laptop.  This dealership does not offer loaners when routine maintenance is being done but it was only an hour, I decided it would be a good opportunity to work on my my new blog.

 After an hour and a half I was getting antsy.  No Name kept coming into the waiting area and calling out names of people that had not been there when I arrived.  After two hours had passed I said, “excuse me” to summon No Name’s attention as he was being very good at avoiding eye contact.   I politely asked if he could tell me how much longer I should expect to wait. After he checked he came back and smiled as he announced, “Only about 30 more minutes”.  

 This is not the first time that they have grossly underestimated the time needed for service. Clearly,  they have no respect for my time. Typically when a business makes this kind of thing a habit, rather than an isolated incident, I simply leave and take my business elsewhere.  Not an option since they were holding my car hostage.

  The dealership is about 75 miles from my home, there is not one closer, so calling an Uber, a cab or walking wasn’t an option.  At the time I made the purchase I thought I wouldn’t mind the extra miles for service as I was retiring and spending a day out of town once every few months would be a nice little “me day” with some shopping and a nice lunch.

 I could have demanded to speak with Craig and then loudly or angrily or perhaps both,  told him what I thought about their crappy customer service, but I didn’t think that was a good option.  First of all, it wouldn’t make me feel one bit better and since I am one of those people that cry when I am really angry that was a real and potentially embarrassing possibility.  Another reason is that, in my opinion, people that take the loud/angry approach always end up looking like an idiot.

 I had thirty minutes to sit there and map out a plan for how I would handle such treatment at this dealership in the future. Time to get creative.

 I asked myself what I wanted and immediately knew the bottom line was that I wanted service provided for my vehicle in a timely manner.  To get what I want I needed to make them want the same thing. The proverbial win-win. Simply put, I needed them to want me in and out as quickly as possible. This could be fun!, I mused.  Here are a few of the possible things I might do to encourage them to want me out of their dealership ASAP.

 The showroom joins the service waiting area.  I think I may just climb in and sit behind the wheel of one of the shiny 2019’s.  I can clutch the wheel with white knuckles and make motor sounds. Of course I can also sing very loudly and tap the wheel as if I was listening to my favorite song.  Did I mention that I can’t carry a tune? I don’t even sing at church. Out of respect for others I just lip sync my musical praise.

 Another option would be to pretend to race the vehicle and even make crashing sounds and throw myself towards the dash.  If that hasn’t got their attention I can climb out and proclaim that, “The airbag doesn’t work, you better send this one back!”  

 I think I like this next idea even better.  I can lie down on the floor in front of a showroom room vehicle and then scoot myself halfway under near one of the tires so that just my legs are sticking out.  When I see feet approaching I can make my legs twitch and in a weak and shaky voice call out, “help me!”

 Those are pretty drastic.  If I lose my nerve to carry out the drama,  perhaps I can just open my book and read. After  a paragraph or two I can stick my head into the nearest occupied office. In my sweetest, most polite tone I will inquire, “Oh hey, since you aren’t busy, could you tell me how to pronounce this word?”  Then I will stick the book in front of the employee with my finger under the word in question. After about 3 minutes I can repeat this with a different employee and just keep going. My theory is that the more annoyed they become the more they will be trying to do everything they can to get me out of there.

 If they get really bent out of shape I could just take a pillow and blanket with me, curl up in a vehicle and catch a little siesta. If I have a little trouble nodding off I could make a nice sticky cup of hot chocolate and return to my slumber with my drink and one of their complimentary powdered sugar doughnuts.  Of course, I prefer to get the nap in a vehicle with all black interior. Darn, don’t you hate how that white sugar seems to get all over everything? What is the best leather cleaner for removing hot chocolate?

 Now that I have vented my frustration and have a plan that I may or may not be bold enough to carry out during a future visit I reluctantly admit that I have learned yet another lesson in car buying.  Besides researching customer satisfaction with the vehicle, safety, durability and anticipated value for a future trade in or sale, I need to be more diligent about checking into the dealerships service department.  When they say they have loaner vehicles I will get it in writing that this is not just for repairs that they anticipate will take 4 or more hours. I will go sit in their service waiting area and chat with folks that already own one of their vehicles to find out if they are satisfied with the quality of service and wait time.  

 What do you suggest for dealing with a dealership that seems to no longer treat their customers like important people once the sale is over?  I would really love to hear your creative ideas to “encourage” the dealership to perform service in a timely manner.

Cover Photo by James Perez on Unsplash other photos courtesy of Pexels.

13 REASONS WHY

I skip Valentine’s Day

 Yeah, yeah, I get it.  Some of you are already folding me up and stuffing me and my opinions into a neat little box labeled, “Grouchy Old Single Woman”.  But before you seal up the box claiming that if I would just smile more often a suitable suitor would enter my life and make me forget all of this nonsense, please hear me out.

#1   Four years ago I met a man through an online dating site.  He wasn’t one of those creepers trying to scam women for money.  Just to set the record straight, he never asked me for money, stole from me or any of the things that are sometimes associated with online dating.  Let’s also note that he lived locally, about 15 miles away.

 After about five months of dating and getting to know each other I realized that, while he seemed like a decent man, I just couldn’t picture us together in a long term-relationship.  I am not one to continue to date someone just to have to have a secure plus one or to hang on until a better option presents itself. I ended the relationship face to face and as honestly and kindly as I could.  He seemed to take it ok. That was late September.

 Fast forward to February 14th, four and a half months later.  It is Valentine’s night and I am sitting on my couch watching something on television and reading email on my laptop when a new message pops into my inbox.  It is his email address and the subject line reads, “Happy Valentine’s Day”. I am immediately creeped out since this is the first contact ( at least to my knowledge) since we broke up.   A greater sense of uneasiness started to bloom as I recalled how I had told him back in the summer that I do not like Valentine’s Day and would hope that we could treat February 14th just like any other random day off the year.

 The email was long and full of strong negative emotion.  He went on and on about how I had hurt him. He claimed that I had misled him, used him and then tossed him out like garbage.  I didn’t like that he was hurt, I had really tried to avoid hurting him. Dating is a way to get to know a person and sometimes we realize that the person is just not the right match for us.  In my opinion, emotionally stable, mentally healthy adults realize and accept this as part of the dating process. The more I read the more I understood that this man was neither mature or mentally stable, I was scared.

 The end of the message told me that I needed to go outside and check my front porch.  My fear jumped up three notches to just barely below terror. My front door had glass sidelights and if he was standing there he would have a clear view of me sitting there reading his message.  I thought of my gun, but it was back in the bedroom. I tried my best to keep my expression calm in case he was watching me. I didn’t look towards the door but glanced up at the clock on the wall having decided that I would wait five minutes before walking to the bedroom.  I picked up my cell phone and pretended to be texting but actually had activated the phone on speaker and tapped 9-1. I tried to look as if nothing was wrong and prayed nothing would prompt me to need to tap the missing digit.

 After 5 minutes I walked to my bedroom and went back towards the door.  I held the gun ready so that if anyone was at the door they could see it.  I announced that I was going to turn on the porch light and that if anyone was there they needed to run now, “If I see anyone on my porch I am coming out shooting”.  No one was there. On my porch I found some items that I didn’t even remember being in his possession. A folding stadium chair belonging to me that we had taken to an outdoor concert back in August, A cap I had loaned him for reason’s I didn’t even recall and a few other little things.  The stadium chair was set up and on it was a Valentine’s Day Gift bag. The bag was stuffed with dead flowers, cockle burs and post it notes. Each post it note had a message, phrases like, “You hurt me”, “I loved you”, You are not a Christian.”

This was not an isolated incident. He continued to stalk me leaving things around to let me know he had dropped by. He went so far as to use a drone flying around my house at night shining a light into the windows, to one time even having a little cookout on my grill during the night while I was asleep inside. It finally ended when I sold the house, moved and changed my name.

#2  The next man I dated knew about the bad experience described in #1.  He seemed understanding when I asked if we could please treat February 14th as if it were any other week day.  We promised each other no cards, no flowers or gifts and no meal. It was a weekday and we didn’t even make plans to get together.  

 When it was close to the time I go to bed the doorbell rang.  When I opened the door the boyfriend who had agreed to skip Valentine’s Day greeted me with a kiss, a single red rose, a card and one of those gigantic Hershey Kisses.  I was pissed off! I tried not to show my emotion as I reminded myself that he was only trying to be nice. He didn’t seem to care that I had no gift or card for him.

 The next morning I see on his Facebook where he posted, “I didn’t receive a single Valentine”.  He had over a hundred likes and almost as many comments. I was furious! The big goon didn’t even understand why I was upset until I explained that he might as well have posted, “My girlfriend is a cold heartless bitch.”  Needless to say, that was the beginning of the end for that relationship.

#3  Why do married men send Valentine’s Day flowers to their wife’s workplace instead of just giving them to her at home?  You might argue it is so she can enjoy them in her office. What if Valentine’s Day is a Thursday or Friday? Have you ever tried to drive while balancing a dozen long-stem roses in a glass vase full of water.  I have and I think it is more dangerous than texting while driving. I think the reason behind sending the flowers to her workplace is so that her co-workers get to see the flowers and she can show them off.

#4  Prices on Flowers and candy go sky high.  It is Black Friday for Florists but there are no discounts.

#5  The pictures on social media that are captioned about how the person’s wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever the case, is the kindest, most perfect soulmate in all the world and that life without that person would be unimaginable.  Even worse are the pictures of the flowers, as if to say, “He isn’t much to look at but at least he buys me over priced roses.” Posting or not posting on social media has nothing to do with true emotion. I think the couple that keeps their intimate expressions private have something more special than those that shout it out on the interrnet.

#6  The pressure to have someone buy you stuff on this day isn’t reserved for those old enough to have romantic relationships.  Lots of parents send balloons, candy or stuffed animals to their child during the school day. Do such parents mind that they make other kids feel sad when they don’t get similar gifts delivered for all of their friends to see?  I argue that it is the whole point. It is as if they are proclaiming “My kid is loved more than your kid and we have more money to prove it.” If I am wrong, why not just give the gift at home.

#7  Conversation hearts taste like chalk.

#8  It makes new relationships very awkward.  Is there a card that reads, “We have only been dating a few weeks so I don’t love you yet.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

#9  Why do we need a date on the calendar to tell people we love them?  Isn’t it more meaningful to hear those words or get the flowers when there isn’t any pressure coming from FTD or Hallmark?

#10  For those in a committed relationship there is not just pressure to have sex but pressure that it has to be amazing, throw your head back and gasp, multi-orgasm sex.

#11  Just when the single people have successfully made it through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve they get hit with February 14.  

#12  Saying you don’t like it or especially saying you hate it makes you sound wretched and bitter.

#13 It is a FAKE Holiday.

There you go.  I would love to hear back from you about why you like/love or dislike/hate Valentine’s Day.  Leave a comment or shoot me an email and by all means share my blog with others.


Photos by Laura Ockel, Dave Webb and Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Put Some Super in Your Bowl

What a better day for blog entry #1 than Super Bowl Sunday?  I really want it to be super, the kind of thing that brings people together and makes us feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves and our own little communities.  I realize that is a tall order for a blog or a football game, but I am goal oriented kind of person and I have high hopes (You should be hearing the song in your head right about now).

 Gladys Knight has a beautiful, strong voice.  I can’t wait to hear her belt out the National Anthem.  When someone with a voice like hers sings this song I can’t help but get a lump in my throat and sometimes a tear in my eye.  My country is not without its problems but it is my home and I wouldn’t willingly move to any other nation in the world. That will be the first scoop of super into my bowl.

 I used to be embarrassed to admit that the commercials are usually my favorite part of the telecast.  I couldn’t help but sneak a peek at the ones that are out there. If you haven’t done the same thing then I warn you, here comes a few spoilers.

 I was disappointed at Christmas when my packages from Amazon didn’t actually sing like the ones in the commercial, but the new ad, Not Everything Makes the Cut – Amazon, gets my vote as the best.  It seems to say that we all make mistakes, even the mighty, Amazon their brainchild, Alexa. We all get it wrong once in awhile. As I watched I laughed out loud, seriously belly laughed when Alexa controlled the hot tub. Another scoop of super plopped into my bowl.

 I am generally not a fan of Walmart just because of how mega retailers have squashed small businesses. That aside, their commercial is right up there and gets my vote for the number two spot.  Grocery Pick Up – Famous Cars. The person that can watch this and not crack a smile needs to immediately check themselves into therapy. Back in the day when Gary Numan’s song, Cars, was coming through my FM radio it was just ok, I didn’t go out and buy the album.  hearing it now, in this context, brought out some warm fuzzy nostalgia and of course another super scoop into my bowl.

 I appreciated the commercial, A Coke is a Coke.  The message is easy, we need to respect each other even when we disagree.  There are some really big issues happening right now and we have to get over the notion that we are all going to agree on the solutions.  We can choose to still hold tight to our values while respecting the other person who holds equally tight to their opposing view. When you see this ad, pay close attention to the music in the first few seconds. Do you hear it?  It is the tune of I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing. It made me remember that controversy isn’t something new to us, we found ways to get through the issues in the 60’s and 70’s and we can now. Another scoop, plop, right there in my super bowl.

 Expensify, Doritos with Chance the Rapper x The Backstreet Boys and Microsoft, We All Win, are all good enough that you should watch them rather than make a trip to the refrigerator or bathroom. More scoops.

  The only one that I saw that I really didn’t like was The Pure Experience, Michelob Ultra.  I suppose that Anheuser-Busch wants to prove that sex still sells a product and they are most likely correct.   However, considering that the airing of that ad will run in the neighborhood of 4.5 million I must say that is some really high priced booty.  Call me a party pooper but I say, “Put your shirt back on, honey.”

Looking ahead to halftime.   It is a very sad truth that I am old enough to be Adam Levine’s mother.  Is it creepy for me to say he is hot? Go ahead and say it y’all cause that man is very hot.  He has enough tattoos for an entire circus but can project himself as sweet, even cuddly.  The ultimate bad boy. Getting to watch him perform is another scoop of super, a really big scoop.

 There were those that said that Adam Levine and Maroon 5 should turn down playing  the halftime concert. On E.T. his comment was that, “When I silenced all the noise and listened to myself I made my decision based on how I felt about it all.”  I must admit that I would have loved for him to say that he prayed about it, but that doesn’t take away from his sincerity and who knows maybe he did pray for guidance even though he says he is more spiritual than religious.

  I think he gave some pretty strong hints that their halftime performance will not only be spectacular musically but that it will help heal some wounds and make us more united.  That’s a tough expectation but good music has an almost magical ability to cross cultural boundaries and take us to a higher plain. I really hope that I am right about all of us getting that ginormous scoop of super into our bowls.

 Finally, I must confess, I am not a lover of football.  I will be asleep well before the end of the game. Hold on, before you think about hurling your hot wing bones at me I want you to understand;  I don’t mind at all if you love football, watch football, play football, vote for football or sleep with football. I hope it is an exciting game that puts super into your bowl and that whichever team you prefer, The Patriots or the Rams (yeah, I actually had to Google that) wins the game.  Your team winning can be the sprinkles and cherry on top of all those scoops of super that are in your bowl.

 There are many things in life that we can’t predict or prevent but I believe that we can try to look for the good in people and situations.  Those are the super scoops that need to be in our bowls and shared into the bowls of others. It’s one of those things that is harder than it sounds.  I may never get it completely right, but I am hanging in there.

 Please give me your comments about the game, the commercials, the halftime show or even why you love or hate football.  Thanks for being a scoop of super in my bowl.