Friday, May 22, 2015



(My little guys are on their way here for lunch and a visit. So, I’ll write tomorrow.)



Thursday, May 21, 2015

TBT -- Brands

Just a little commercial to begin. Robert Parker * commented on my post from yesterday, and he introduced me to the Yale processional – which he composed! You must listen to it; it’s absolutely magnificent!!  https://soundcloud.com/robertparkermusic/sicut-incipiat-premiere
I don’t do the food shopping anymore – it’s too exhausting. My husband has assumed that role, and he’s making his own patterns with it. Unfortunately, he’s also trying new brands in place of old favorites. I don’t like it, but I try to keep my mouth shut. I’m willing to try new things, and I’m amenable to change, but sometimes I just want the old tried-and-true.

I’m not fussy about hand or shower soap. Most times I like a Bath and Body Works liquid soap on the vanities – they last for a long time. And my shower gel/wash can be any brand. However, I must have Crest toothpaste. I have tried others, and I always go back. In the kitchen is where I get demanding, though.

I only like Hellman’s mayonnaise, and I just can’t eat any other. I’m serious when I say that because it’s a brand I’ve had since childhood, and I just don’t like any other. It’s the same with canned soup. Of course, I really prefer my homemade ones, but in a rush, I’ll eat canned. However, the only canned soup I’ll eat is Campbell’s. Their corporate headquarters is minutes from here, and they use local produce – especially Jersey tomatoes! If I don’t see that red and white label, I won’t eat it. I’m partial to Tropicana orange juice, but I will drink other brands. I also like Gevalia for one-a-day coffee, but it’s a bit pricey. So, I settle for other brands.

When I was little, I had a friend whose father worked for Oscar Meyer. If my mother was making lunch for us, and she was having bologna sandwiches, my friend would say, “I can only eat it if it’s Oscar Meyer.” Now, my parents hated packaged sandwich meat, and they only bought fresh deli meat. So my mother would fib and tell her it was OM, and she never knew the difference. But don’t try such stunts with me – I will know!

I’ll only eat Star-Kist or Bumblebee tuna – the others taste like a dirty fish tank! I eat real bagels or none at all, and my cereal preference leans toward Kellogg’s. I like Dawn and Cascade, and I prefer Bounty paper towels and Puffs tissues. I don’t always get what I want, but I try to adjust my husband’s shopping list to emphasize those brands. If you get them when they’re on sale, and if you use coupons, it really doesn’t cost that much more.

Most of my likes and dislikes come from my youth. I just grew up liking certain brands, and I really don’t like anything different. Am I a prima donna? a spoiled brat? someone with discriminating taste? Why yes, yes I am!



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pomp and Circumstance

It’s time, again, for graduations, and I love them.  Can you believe I never got to wear a cap and gown until college! In grade school, the girls all wore short white cocktail-like dresses, while the boys wore navy blue suits. The dresses were all the same, all flouncy and silky, and I never wore mine again.
Then, in high school, we wore long white dresses – our own choosing. Some girls went so far as to wear bridal gowns. We each chose a ‘flower girl,’ either a sibling, relative, or family friend, between the ages of five and seven. Those little girls wore short white dresses of their own choosing. Once the graduates had processed in, the flower girls would enter carrying a dozen red roses, which they presented to their graduates. We had to learn to curtsey correctly when we received our diplomas from the bishop. It was all very grand, and I have fond memories of that day.

When I received my undergrad degree, I finally got a cap and gown, and then in grad school, over the gown, I wore a stole and cords in the school colors and my major. That ceremony was very long with speeches and the huge number of graduates. Having only known very dignified rites prior to then, I was disappointed in the actions around me. Many carried on conversations, there was no sign of respect, and the hooting and yelling drowned out the names of the grads. I was not a happy camper.

Then came my own children’s graduations. The older two never had early graduations from Pre-K or kindergarten, but my youngest had a full-blown event at his Pre-K. All of their eighth-grade services were beautiful, and they wore caps and gowns in the school colors, either blue and white or maroon and gold. At my younger son’s graduation from high school, the boys all wore white dinner jackets. My daughter’s three college graduations were all different, and when she got her doctorate, she wore the full regalia.

When I taught, I handled the commencement, and I poured my heart and hands into the effort. Someone once told that the ceremony rivaled any college graduation! At the school where I was principal, the event was a bit lackluster when I arrived, but I offered suggestions, and they soon became quite lovely. Since I insisted that there be no cat calling, one family had a clever alternative. When their youngest, and only girl, graduated, the held up little signs, reading, “Go Melissa!” I laughed at their ingenuity!

Now, we’re beginning again, and my little guy will graduate from Pre-K next Wednesday. I hear it’s quite a magnificent performance, and I can’t wait. Every time I hear those first strains of Pomp and Circumstance, I tear up a little. I know this upcoming one will be no exception.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Downsizing? Right!

As I’ve mentioned soooo many times, we’re supposed to be downsizing – getting rid of much of the detritus accumulated over many years in the same house. Once that is finished, we’ll do some repair/renovation work, sell the old homestead, and move to a smaller, more efficient place. On paper, it all sounds so easy, but trust me, it’s not. We have taken a few steps in the right direction, but the idea as a whole, is overwhelming. I’d much rather put my energy into redecorating, even if it is impractical.

Because our little guys spend time here, some of my redesigns involve them. Our family room has a play area, even though that area usually extends over the entire room. I removed the DVDs that were stored in the cabinet of the TV table and arranged them on the bookcase shelves. Then I used the cabinet space to store toys in baskets. The boys know where the toys are, and they pull them out quickly. Sometimes, they even put them away! I don’t care if they mess things up; it can be always be cleaned. I’d rather they enjoy their little games.

Here, in the den, I removed a desk to make room for the crib/changing table when the boys were babies. Then, we moved that furniture to an upstairs bedroom to be used at nighttime. In that now-empty area, we got a little table and two small chairs. The boys do all their arts and crafts there.  I have a section in my paper cabinet where I store extra paper for their use. I also have a little rolling cabinet with five drawers to store all their supplies – scissors, tapes, crayons, markers, paints, stapler – anything to help them create their masterpieces. Again, it’s usually a wreck when they leave, but I don’t care. Their having fun is more important to me.

Now, I’m getting ready to redo two bedrooms. The one with the crib will become the boys’ room. I’m having my ‘big’ boys dismantle the crib to be stored at my daughter’s home. (If another baby ever arrives, it can always be assembled again.) I’m keeping the walls white, but I’m introducing a nautical theme with navy and white and a few red accents. I’ll have anchors, lighthouses, sailboats, and steering wheels as wall hangings and the boys’ names over their twin beds. It’s not a huge room, but I think it will work perfectly.

Then there’s the front bedroom, which was first my daughter’s room, then my mother’s. Right now, the room is papered – mauve on the lower half, beige with mauve flowers on the upper half. As a middle and top border, there are the same colors in a border pattern. I like the mix of colors, but not the paper. So, I’ll have the wallpaper removed and paint the lower half in the same mauve color. The upper half will be pale gray, and a simple design – maybe a chair rail – will go between. Instead of a permanent bed, I want a medium gray sleep sofa that can be converted to a double or queen bed when guests arrive. The rest of the furniture will stay.

So, those are my latest plans. Downsizing? Oh, sure!



Monday, May 18, 2015

Second Childhood

Perhaps my little guys bring out my inner child, but lately I find myself going back in time. It could be their playful pursuits, or maybe I just yearn for a more peaceful time in our world and in myself. Or it could be early senility – older people often behave like children. Whatever the reason, I definitely find myself wanting to be the way I was in my earlier life. I’m not even referring here to the time when I was able-bodied, although I’m sure that has something to do with it, too.

Last night we watched two old “I Love Lucy” shows on CBS, and we laughed as if we were kids. My husband remembers more about the shows than I, but I know I must have seen some of them. I read once that modern sitcoms all derive from original Lucy stunts. It says something that I could enjoy and laugh at such silly antics. I do watch the comedies that are on TV today, but most of them aren’t that funny, and many seek to get laughs from sexual innuendo and off-color remarks. Maybe I’m just an old fogey, but I enjoyed last night’s shows with its simple premises. Hearkening back to childhood? It sure looks that way.

Another old pastime to which I’ve returned is jigsaw puzzles. As a little girl, I love putting those little cardboard pieces together to reveal a picture.  When I was given larger puzzles, I remember sitting on the porch with my girlfriend and piecing the puzzle together. My mother’s nurse, who came every day for several years, told me that she did the giant puzzles over a span of weeks. Then she would glue the puzzle to heavy cardboard and get it framed. She gifted us with a huge autumn scene, and I hang it in the living room every fall. I gave her a giant one (undone, of course,) for her birthday one year. Right now, I work on puzzles on the computer, but they go quickly, and I have nothing to show for it when I finish. I get email from “Bits and Pieces” ever since I ordered that one for a gift. They’re not expensive, and I’m thinking about ordering one to try my hand at it. If it turns out all right, I’ll get it framed.

I’ve also been seeing ads for adult coloring books, and I’ve seen some completed pictures. They’re supposed to provide relaxation and de-stressing. I don’t think I’d put the money into purchasing a book, but I do have several coloring pictures in my computer picture folder. I’d probably struggle with the “no-right-hand” issue, but maybe it would strengthen the left hand. The suggested medium is colored pencils instead of crayons, but I’ve seen some people using fine markers. An author whose books I read and whose FB page I follow said yesterday that she sees no point in coloring, but she was bombarded with rebuttals. All of them said that it’s such a peaceful activity. If it turns out, I’ll show it here. Just one more extra-curricular sport to totally suck me in, I guess.

These are about all the childhood activities I can take on, but I’m looking forward to being a kid again!



Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Fragments

Since I missed a day of writing, I feel as if today is Thursday. Nope – it’s Friday and time for trivial matters.

Weather:  After suffering through that blast of early summer, things have cooled off since Tuesday night. The sun is still shining brilliantly, but the temps have gone down to the 60s and 70s. It’s absolutely gorgeous! I wish I could bottle it and use it when things get hot again! Unfortunately, we need rain badly. Things (like part of our front lawn) are drying up. I hate to keep using the sprinklers because we may go into a drought if we don’t soon get rain. They’re predicting some showers over the weekend, but that may be it for a while. I want to do a rain dance!

Solution, cont.: When I wrote yesterday about solving my dilemma, I forgot to mention the powder room in the salon. It is so tiny and cramped, and it’s difficult for me to maneuver in there. It’s probably no more than 3.5 feet square – no lie! The john is on one wall with a curio rack above it and a waste basket beside it. The opposite wall holds a sink that literally abuts the john. The paper towel roll is on the wall next to it, and a mirror runs the length of the wall. I used to really struggle in there, but again, a problem was solved – this time by my stylist. She opened the door, turned on the light and helped me in. What a doll. Once in there, I could minimize my movements a lot. Problem solved!

Dinner:  We went to Belgium for the boys’ Wednesday night dinner. I found a recipe that looked like beef stew, but the subtle differences gave it a whole new taste! I did it in the slow cooker to save time, and I can’t begin to describe that delicious aroma. The beef is simmered in beer and broth with onions, carrots, and celery. Then tomato paste, thyme, caraway seeds, garlic, salt, and pepper are added. You were also supposed to add bay leaves, but I was out of them. It simmered for six hours, and I served it over wide noodles. The boys had seconds and took some home. For dessert, I made chocolate croissants from crescent rolls and drizzled salted caramel sauce on the top. Another successful culinary trip!

Designing Woman:  I’m thinking of making some new summer shirts. I saw some plain tees and polos on sale, and I might snatch a few. Since the tees are so plain, I want to iron on some designs. I have a packet of stationery that one of my students gave me, (yes, I still have so many gifts left,) and the folder they came in has a pretty design on it. I’ll scan the photo, tweak it in my Print Shop, and print it on fabric transfer paper. I’m thinking brown design on tan shirt. I’d also like floral on yellow, shells on aqua, and an anchor on navy. I’ll see how far this goes.

Meds: I no longer take MS meds, but I do take others. My morning ‘cocktail’ consists of a multi vitamin, vitamin D, omega 3, allergy tabs, and a baby aspirin. That last one is a bugger, though. It thins my blood and causes it not to clot. That’s a good thing in my arteries, but yesterday I cut my leg a little, and I could not stanch the bleeding. I’d hate to see what would happen with a larger wound! I also want to try a new OTC potion for bladder control. I wear myself out running to the loo, and I just want to find something to help.

Nothing new with books or TV at this point, and that’s all I’ve got for now.



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Problem Solving

Much of the modern way of teaching has done away with rote memorization and placed critical thinking and problem solving in its stead. I see the benefits of both. I particular like the idea of teaching children how to solve problems in all areas of study. They grow to be more independent adults. I’m not sure I ever had lessons, but I know I’ve become a problem solver – especially after MS appeared on the horizon. I’m constantly trying o figure out better ways to accomplish tasks. Yesterday was a good example.

I had a hairdresser’s appointment, and I began my feeling of dread several days prior. I really do enjoy the experience of having my stylist wash, cut, highlight, and fashion my tresses, but the getting there and moving around always exhausted me. I tried to analyze this situation and figure out ways to make it less of an ordeal. Usually, my husband drove me there – it’s only seven minutes away. The salon is on the main street of the business district, and there’s parking on both sides of the street. When I used to drive myself, if I couldn’t find a parking place in front of the store, I’d drive around to the parking lot behind the stores. The problem with that, though, was there were a series of steps to get from the lot down to the back entrances of the shops. While I could still walk without difficulty, the steps never posed too much of a problem. Now, it’s a different story.

So, my husband always got a nearby space on the street. If he parked correctly, the car was flush to the curb, and it was hard to get leverage to pull myself from the car to the pavement right next to me. He began to leave a little space between the car and curb, and I could get out right onto the street. Unfortunately, then I’d struggle to get up on the curb and sidewalk. There are also decorative brick areas before the sidewalk, along with pipe toppings and plants. It was an obstacle course, and I’d be worn out by the time I got into the salon. Then, I’d have to reverse the order when I left. The rest of those days found me sitting in an exhausted heap.

I knew there had to be a solution, and I donned my thinking cap. The street parking just wasn’t working, so what are some other alternatives? I thought about the back lot, but even with my husband’s help, I knew it would be dangerous. There are no handrails, and the steps have some crumbling concrete in some sections. When I used to go that way, I’d use the stairs behind the store next to the salon. The building was longer, and I could lean on the concrete wall of the store. But when I got to the back of the salon, there was a knee-high wall between the buildings. So, I’d sit on the wall and swing my legs over to the pavement. What a fiasco!

It was while I was thinking about my old ways that a thought popped into my head. My husband could park in the lot but closer to the corner. Then, he could wheel me around in the transport wheelchair with my walker hooked on the back. It took two minutes for him to wheel me to the street, go around the corner, past three shops, and have me arrive at the front door. He opened the walker and I got into the shop easily. Since I didn’t have to use up energy, I had plenty to spend in maneuvering between stations inside. I was amazed at the difference. I could carry on some fun conversation, I wasn’t fretting  about my next move, and I was relaxed. When I was finished, my husband came back and reversed the process. It was great, and we both laughed when we saw what a difference it made.

I guess I was a knucklehead not to have figured this out earlier, but at least I proved that I can still be a good problem solver!