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A Small Sacrifice for Our American Heroes

Events, Every Day is an Adventure, Giving Back, Helping Our Heros, Living a Royal Life, Out and About, Serious Shit, Uncategorized
One of the units which received boxes from Operation America Cares

One of the units which received some of the boxes from Operation America Cares

Operation America Cares

I had known about the monthly packing events for a few years.  I meant to get around to it, time after time, but never had.  Then my great-nephew joined the marines in late June, and suddenly what they were doing jumped further to the top of my list.  I put it on my calendar, made a few phone calls, and showed up.

When I spoke to Linda Milimaki she told me to come about 8:45.  I pulled up at 8:50, because, once again, I had pulled away from my house without my cell phone, and needed to go back for it.  When I pulled up to the beautiful Escondido neighborhood that Linda lives in, I saw a flurry of activity.  Cars were lined up and down the street, the driveway was filled with tables, and her  3 car garage  was wall to wall tables and people in an “assembly line” filling up boxes.

This simple little hand lettered sign greeted me as I walked up the driveway, already bustling with volunteers diligently at work!

This simple little hand lettered sign greeted me as I walked up the driveway, already bustling with volunteers diligently at work!

The organization I had come to help on that Saturday morning is Operation America Cares. The organization was the brain-child of two sisters who found out that many of our troops never receive a care package or mail from home. They wanted to change that by providing a little ray of sunshine into the lives of some of those troops.

The Start of Something Great

They packed their first 35 boxes for Christmas in 2008. Since then there have been over 24,000 boxes send out of Linda’s home, with the help of donations and monthly packing “parties.”

I was first introduced to this endeavor through my local Realtor Caravan meetings a few years ago.  Every quarter we choose a local charity, and collect weekly donations. At the end of the quarter a check is presented to the chosen charity.  After hearing about Operation America Cares, I invited one of their volunteers, Cheryl Sutcliff, a local lender I know and trust in our community to come and speak to my Kiwanis club.  I was president of the club, and wanted my members to know about the need.

When Cheryl stood in front of our group with one of the boxes filled with the items sent off monthly, I felt like I was watching Mary Poppins pull things out of her magical carpetbag! I couldn’t believe how many goodies were stuffed into that small “Priority Mail” cardboard box!  Each and every item had been well thought out for the wants and needs of a young military hero.  There wasn’t one inch of wasted space, and nothing that wouldn’t be appreciated and enjoyed, by at least one young man, and most likely shared among a number of them!

This is just a small portion of the items organized to go into boxes each month. I was impressed with the efficiency of the whole process!

This is just a small portion of the items organized to go into boxes each month. I was impressed with the efficiency of the whole process!

One of the things I found most fascinating about the boxes was the fact that they send a little zip-lock sandwich bag filled with some spices.  One of them is taco seasoning from Del Taco.  It turns out, as I was told that the MRE meals lack flavor, so the taco-seasoning is a HUGE hit with the young men!  When told that their hot sauce was the one the young men preferred the most, the Del Taco at 9822 Magnolia Avenue in Santee, CA volunteered to donate enough to be sent off every month! Kudos to them for repeatedly stepping up to the plate for our military!

When I pulled up to Linda’s Escondido home that Saturday, it was a bee-hive of activity! I couldn’t believe how much was already happening by the time I arrived. One of the first things Linda did was to pray for the people working and for the military who would be receiving the boxes. She then read a few letters that had been received from some of the recipients of the boxes.  You would have thought that the boxes held the greatest treasures in the universe when you heard the heartfelt thanks for them!  It brought tears to my eyes to think that the simple little “shoebox” size boxes would bring such joy!

This letter and a handwritten note went into each box that we packed for our servicemen.

This letter and a handwritten note on a greeting card went into each box that we packed for our servicemen. Often, pictures drawn by schoolchildren in the area also go into the boxes. Because school was out of session, we didn’t have any of the children’s drawings to put into the boxes this particular month.

I approached one of the women working, who seemed to be knowledgeable about the procedures,  and she gave me a brief  “assembly line” walk through, and  set me to filling up boxes.  I went through the assembly line process and filled a few of the boxes.  It was then time to “repack” the boxes, and I was instructed in that.  Because there are toiletry items, and food items, they are separated into 2 different zip lock bags, so that if something should leak, everything isn’t ruined. There is a real science to packing the boxes so everything gets there safely, usable and fitting in the box. Everything is boxed in a Priority Mail box, which is $16.75 for all you can fit in the box, no matter what the weight.  And fit it in, they do!  Toilet paper, socks, a book, a magazine, numerous snacks, both salty and sweet, talcum powder, eye drops, toothpaste and toothbrush, lip balm, crossword puzzles and other assorted items fill the boxes to the brim! Every box also gets a hand written note, and often pictures drawn by children.

A few of the volunteers of Operation America Cares, preparing the monthly boxes to be sent to our Military Heros who don't get recognized personally by family or friends.

A few of the volunteers of Operation America Cares, preparing the monthly boxes to be sent to our Military Heros who don’t get recognized personally by family or friends.

After I had helped fill a number of boxes it was mentioned that they were very short with hand written notes this month, so I went into the house to sit down and write out some cards to our Heroes!  This was right up my alley!  I LOVE writing letters, notes and cards! When I was younger and moved away from home, I used to hand-write up to 60 letters a week to friends and family!  (Obviously, that was Pre-email and Facebook days! I still miss handwritten letters updating us on what our loved ones are doing!)

We were writing notes to go into the boxes for our service men. Every box gets a handwritten card in it.We were writing notes to go into the boxes for our service men. Every box gets a handwritten card in it.

We were writing notes to go into the boxes for our service men. Every box gets a handwritten card in it.

I had the pleasure of sitting at the kitchen table in Linda’s house and write out notes with a few other volunteers.  The time flew by, and before I knew it, packing was done, and it was time for a photo with all of the packaged boxes and the volunteers from the day.

The boxes go to Military in all four branches who typically don’t ever get any care packages from home. Linda works closely with the Family Readiness officer at Camp Pendleton, and he gives her names and addresses of chaplains and commanding officers who have requested boxes for their men in the field.

I was happily surprised to see Liz Beach Hallin, who I've known since she was a small kid. Although Liz is fighting her own battle with MS, she was there to do her part to help our military. Liz was there with her husband Micah, and her mom Sarah Beach. Liz has a brother, Kenneth, who is in the Army. My son and Kenneth were friends as small boys, and Kenneth always said he was going to go into the military!

I was happily surprised to see Liz Beach Hallin, who I’ve known since she was a small kid. Although Liz is fighting her own battle with MS, she was there to do her part to help our military. Liz was there with her husband Micah, and her mom Sarah Beach. Liz has a brother, Kenneth, who is in the Army. My son and Kenneth were friends as small boys, and Kenneth always said he was going to go into the military!

The Starfish Story

 

What two sisters put in motion 10 years ago is awe inspiring!  I’m so glad to have been a part of it! What I can’t help but think though is HOW MANY MORE young marines could use one of these packages each month!  Probably, literally THOUSANDS!  Please don’t misunderstand and think that I am in ANY way putting down Operation America Cares.  Heavens NO!  What I’m saying though is that we could use 50, 100, 500 more “chapters” of this charity across the country, doing what is being done here for our young military heroes!

It makes me think of the Starfish story.  There are a few versions of it, but the gist of them are all the same.  The story goes something like this……..A little boy is walking along the beach, and thousands of starfish are washed up on the shore, going to die.  He leans over as he walks along, and continues to throw in one starfish after another.  He is walking with his grandpa who says to him, “Why bother? You can’t make a difference, with all of these starfish dying on the beach.” The little boy’s response is “It makes a difference to this one.”

That’s what Operation America Cares is all about.  It’s making a difference to that marine who receives a package.  Hopefully, that package puts a smile on his or her face, knowing that someone they don’t even know has thought about them, and making their day better as they serve our country. It is a very small drop in the bucket, but it is a drop that wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for this amazing organization!

A picture of some of our young military Heros receiving one of the packages. Look at the delight on their faces, over something so simple!

A picture of some of our young military Heros receiving one of the packages. Look at the delight on their faces, over something so simple!

A Job Well Done!

The packing is down to such an efficient routine that it was over quickly! When we were finished, Linda took a photo of that months’ volunteers behind the 150 boxes we had prepared to be shipped off.  It takes a number of vehicles to get the boxes to the post office, so I volunteered to fill my car up.  I wanted to see the process “start to finish” so to speak.  One van and two cars filled to the brim, and off we went to get the boxes on their way to our well deserving military in the field.

The volunteers who worked at the July packing day, with the completed boxes ready to go off to the post office!

Some of the  volunteers who worked at the July packing day, with the completed boxes ready to go off to the post office! What a great group of people, doing their part to say “Thank You” to our heroes out in the field!

You Can Help Too!

You may wonder how you could help this worthwhile cause.  Go to their website. Make a donation, if you can to c,over postage, or to purchase items they may be short of one month. Perhaps, think of starting a similar organization in your area.  I don’t think we could possibly over saturate the “market” of needy Marines! If you are in the local area, purchase some of the supplies listed below,and get them to Linda for future packing dates.  Write some notes to marines to be included in future boxes. Arrange to come and help pack boxes one day.  Whatever you do to be a part of the this endeavor, you’ll be blessed by being a part of it, I’m sure!

Please, go and check out the website, and do what you can to help!  http://OperationAmericaCares.org

The back of one of the volunteer's shirts. She is a proud marine mom!

The back of one of the volunteer’s shirts. She is a proud marine mom!

 

Are you local to Operation America Cares, and wondering what you might purchase to help the cause out? Some of the goodies that go into the well planned out boxes are listed below:

What’s In a Box?

ITEMS INCLUDED IN THE CARE PACKAGES
(MOST OF THESE CAN BE PURCHASED AT A DOLLAR STORE!!)
  • $$ for postage (currently $16.75 per care package)
  • Socks crew or athletic (no shorties please)
  • Eye drops (any brand) The wind, sun and desert sand hurt their eyes!
  • Triple anti-biotic ointment/Neosporin or other anti-biotic cream w/pain reliever
  • Advil/ibuprofen/generic pain relievers
  • Insect repellent – no aerosol spray cans
  • Sun screen – no aerosol spray cans
  • Full sized baby wipes/body wipes (80 count or larger)
  • Hand santizer – individual size
  • Chap sticks
  • Kleenex – travel size
  • Gold Body Powder (available at the Dollar Tree for $1.00 each)
  • Disposable razors
  • Shaving gel – no aerosol cans
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrushes/dental floss
  • Toothpaste – regular size tubes
  • Toiletries from your hotel stays
  • Soap – any size
  • Gum – individual packs
  • Mints – individual packs
  • Single serve drink sleeves – for adding to bottles of water
  • Single serve coffee sleeves – such as Starbucks VIA
  • Top Ramen – no cup of soup (to big for care packages)
  • Canned soups, stews, fruit
  • Jerky – all flavors
  • Energy bars and snack bars
  • Nuts – individual bags or small cans
  • Sunflower seeds – individual packs
  • Dum dums, tootsie roll pops and hard candy.  Must be individually wrapped
  • M&M – individual bags ( they melt in your mouth, not in Afghanistan)
  • Cookies  – individual packs
  • Condiments – small giveaways from fast food restaurants and such – any kind!!!
  • Peanut butter/jam – individual servings
  • Crossword books/word game books/travel games
  • Magazines – no older than 3 months – please focus on men or social mags such as People
  • Paperback books – no romance novels please
  • DVDs – can be recycled
  • Blank paper, envelopes/pens – for them to write home
  • Thank you notes – written from us to them!  If you include your name and address, you may get a letter!
  • Pictures and notes from kids
  • Zip lock bags – gallon, quart or snack size
  • One more picture of a happy recipient of one of the boxes. You can see that by the time they receive them, the boxes look like they have been through the ringer!

    One more picture of a happy recipient of one of the boxes. You can see by the time they receive them, the boxes look like they have been through the ringer!

    Feel free to contact Operation America Cares directly, or get your donations to me and I will be happy to put them in Linda’s hands when I go over to volunteer for the next “packing party!”

Living a Royal Life, Part 3 of 3

Every Day is an Adventure, Living a Royal Life, My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!, Travel and Adventure, Uncategorized
Living a Royal Life. What does that mean to you? for me it includes travel, lots of fun, delicious food and time with my man! My Royal Life may not be YOUR Royal Life! That's OK!

Living a Royal Life. What does that mean to you? for me it includes travel, lots of fun, delicious food and time with my man! My Royal Life may not be YOUR Royal Life! That’s OK!

Living a Royal Life

I have previously released 2 videos in this series. This is part 3 of 3.

Are you living you best life? If your life isn’t all that you want, and you feel like you are leading a mediocre life — what do you need to do to improve it?

This video gives you some moresteps to help you lead your best life.  You must first decide that you DESERVE to lead a “Royal Life.” No one else is going to give you the perfect life.  No one else can decide what your perfect life even IS!

If you want to improve your life, expand your tribe, add to your bucket list and make each day better than the last!

Here are your steps to you holding your head up high, wearing your tiara and learning that it doesn’t matter what other people think about you. Once you learn to “do you” and are comfortable in your skin, other people’s opinions don’t matter.

I hope you enjoy this video, and if you do —- share it with a friend who might also like to Live a Royal Life!

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to both my blog and my Youtube channel, so that you don’t miss any of the upcoming series and other fun and fabulous articles, events and adventures!

 

Dancing— My Drug of Choice

Cocktail Time, Events, Every Day is an Adventure, Fabulous After 50, Health = Happiness!, My Humble Opinion, Sexy After 60!, Uncategorized
My friend Richard & me dancing at my 60th birthday party last November

My friend Richard & me dancing at my 60th birthday party last November

Dancing— The New Meditation

I have heard for decades that the best way to relax and achieve inner harmony is to meditate. You can’t live in Southern California without having a hundred people tell you “it’s the way to go.” I call BS on that! Don’t get me wrong. If you meditate, and it works for you, more power to you! I”ll even give you an “Om” to go.

Meditation Stresses Me Out!

It’s just that meditation, to me is the greatest and easiest way to stress out I have ever tried. I’ve tried it more than a handful of times and here is exactly what happens. I sit in this place I’ve decided to be quiet in and cleanse my mind. In approximately 30 seconds a committee shows up in my head. The committee is loud. It’s raucous. They all begin to talk, taunt and tease. I suddenly am filled with thoughts of all of the “productive” things I could be doing.…. Should be doing…..Need to get done. I think of things with work that I have been putting off. I think of things I could be writing for my blog rather than just sitting here wasting time. I think of things that need to be done in my house and how many things I need to organize. The closets that could use cleaning and the drawers that need sorting. I think of things that WILL need to be done for work, my house, my blog in the near future. I think about places I could go for travel and enjoyment and want to look those things up on the internet RIGHT THEN.

Meditation- I give it about 3 seconds til I hit the “crazy” button!

I begin to think about things that really bug me, things that have bothered me for a while and things I didn’t even KNOW bothered me. Now I start to get REALLY irritated at the things that I didn’t even know were bothering me.

Any small problem in my life can take on gargantuan proportions when I sit down to meditate. They suddenly become overwhelming.

Meditation Fills My Mind…

While attempting to meditate I start to think about things I have recently seen on Facebook that I thought were really profound or really cute or really irritating. You know the things I’m referring to such as the political posts that differ from your opinion or the people who voice their totally inane and negative opinions on someone’s post, which were TOTALLY unnecessary. The more I am supposed to “empty my mind” the more that comes in to crowd it and my blood pressure goes up. Which is, I think, the direct opposite of the point of meditating.

All of this brain hyperactivity can be accomplished in record time. I’m sure I’ve just spent at LEAST three hours in the process, and when I look at the clock, I’ll be damned, five minutes haven’t even passed! God bless you if this meditation thing calms you down. It just stresses the hell out of me!

The same people who like to meditate, enjoy Yoga. Don’t even get me going on that one! If I’m going to spend an hour in an exercise class, I want to feel like it’s doing something for my body. I can’t get through half a yoga class without wanting to laugh at the absurd positions (which don’t seem to be building any sort of muscle that I can tell). I want to giggle at the silly names they call them. And for some reason, the people in Yoga class are just too damned serious about the whole thing. It becomes a religious activity for them, it seems. Forget Yoga…..I much prefer to do a few crunches, hold a plank, lift a few weights, or Zumba my way to cardio health. In Zumba you can’t help but have a happy attitude! Why…. because DANCE MOVES are happening there!

Dancing is my “Drug of Choice!”

Don & Patti dancing when Don's foot was broken!

It’s a little blurry- but I love that even when Don had a broken foot- we found a way to dance!

I guess the cat is out of the bag. I’m not a Zen girl. My idea of relaxing is planning a party, figuring out my next event, or dancing. Dancing is my “drug of choice.”

When I went through a divorce about 10 years ago, I decided to take up dancing. It was something I’d always wanted to learn, and it was the first thing I set my mind to when I knew the marriage was over. Now THERE is a stress reliever! There is a blood pressure reducer! And, like meditation and yoga combined, it’s GREAT for your body! Within a few months, although I was out every evening and enjoying a few drinks, I looked better than I had in years! I lost weight and toned up, without dieting or even TRYING! (Looking at my body right now, I think I need to get back on the dancing-every-night-wagon!)

I would look forward to my next night out dancing like a drug addict looks forward to meeting up with his “supplier!”  No matter WHAT was going on, no matter how stressful things were, in my mind I’d be thinking….”Just 2 more nights until I get to dance!”  I’d be in the car, and as I listened to music I could picture what dance would go to the beat, what moves you could do to a certain song….. and there was no thought of the stresses that life was giving me at that time!

Ladies dancing together!

We dance with our girlfriends in grade school, middle school and high school. Even into our 60’s, 70’s and 80’s we still have “girl dances! Girls just wanna’ have fun!

When you dance, the committees can’t be in your head, because you are too busy following the lead of your partner. You can’t think about the problems you’ve got going on, what needs to be done at home or what is going on with work. There is only one focus….. Dancing….. what the next move is and where your partner and your body are going to lead you.

For me, dancing gives me all the benefits of meditation and then some.

If sitting in a quiet room, making your mind blank works for you, then go for it!   Just PLEASE don’t try telling me that it’s a stress reliever! Not for my A type of personality! Thirty minutes of meditation a day would probably put me in the grave within the first month!

My grand daughter Nell, and Jodi "cutting a rug." EVERY age can enjoy dancing!

My grand-daughter Nell, and Jodi “cutting a rug.” EVERY age can enjoy dancing!

No matter what problems I have in life, after a few hours of dancing I feel refreshed, at peace and in tune with my body and soul.

Dancing video, Kingston Mines

This video is a bit dark, and for that I apologize!  My daughter shot it of my love and I dancing in the summer of 2016 when we were back “home” in Chicago visiting family.  The place was dark, it was her cell phone, and we didn’t even know she was shooting it. What a fabulous night we all had though! 🙂

 

 

Emily Post is Dead…..

Entertaining, My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!, Uncategorized

Emily Post is Dead….

Whatever happened to Emily Post?  Back in the day- (and I realize “the day” was a while back, and things have changed) society lived by a set of rules, known as etiquette.  The rules for how we conducted ourselves was large. About 2 or 3 inches thick as I recall.  There were details in it that didn’t really make a rats ass of difference in most people’s lives.  How to properly seat people at a dinner party.  Leaving a calling card when visiting.  When and how to use obscure pieces of flatware.  Those things probably won’t change our lives, at least life in todays’ society one bit.

But, there are still some rules of etiquette that SHOULD and could be implemented.

I probably entertain more than any 10 women put together. And I am amazed each and every time that an invitation goes out, just how rude people can be. (Sorry, just have to call it like it is!) I do realize that many people don’t entertain in their homes, and may not realize the amount of work that goes into it. Perhaps THAT is the excuse.  WHATEVER the excuse, I’d like to share a few easy rules for being a guest in someone’s home, which just may get you invited back.

A Few Simple Rules for Being a Good Guest…

  1. RSVP.

Just take the time to RSVP for the love of God!  It’s not that difficult!  I absolutely can’t believe the people who never respond in any way.  No yes, no no, no maybe!  Come on people!  If you don’t want to go, can’t stand the host, would rather pull lint out of your belly-button, or lice off of your significant other-  JUST LET THE PERSON WHO ASKED YOU KNOW YOU WON’T BE THERE.  No. A simple no.  Nowadays, other than a wedding invitation, most of your invitations can be responded to via email, response to evite, or via text.  JUST TAKE A FRICKIN’ MINUTE TO LET THE HOST OR HOSTESS KNOW YOUR INTENTIONS!

The “Maybe” response……. I understand the Maybe response- if your daughter is due to give birth sometime the 3rd week of January, so your response is “As long as we aren’t on our way to Nebraska, due to Janie’s impending birth.” That’s a good reason for a maybe.  Absolutely.  It’s the “maybe’s” that make the hostess feel like you are just waiting to see if something better comes up which really piss me off.  Look, if you can’t give a definite YES, I’d like to be there, because you really DON’T want to be there, give a resounding NO, and move on. If you have to see what your work schedule is, and they don’t let you know until the Tuesday of the event…… OK on that.  But just maybe, a maybe that, once again looks like you are waiting to see if possibly Angelina Jolie is going to invite you over for drinks, but… if she doesn’t, you might show up are rude….. just plain rude…..

I think that California is particularly prone to this. Everyone wants to wait until the last moment to commit, fearing they might miss something better.  As Bon Qui Qui would say. RUDE!

I recently had a big party for my 60th birthday.  I rented a room, had a band, and had it catered.  I BEGGED people, via Evite to just let me know whether or not they were coming.  In the end, there were 60 people who never responded one way or the other.  That could be up to 120 people who may- or may not be there.  Kind of a BIG difference when you are paying to cater something.

I entertain enough to know what the average response rate is, and I had my numbers within 5 people of who actually DID attend. But SERIOUSLY?  If I didn’t entertain on almost a weekly basis, I wouldn’t have had any idea how many people to tell the caterer to plan on.

2. HOSTESS GIFTS—- Not to “Wine”……….

A girl can only use SO much wine!

I think it is really thoughtful when people bring a hostess gift for the hostess.  You definitely deserve Kudos for the thoughtfulness.  Can I give you a hint on what NOT to bring for said hostess gift.  2 items I suggest you forget about bringing to a hostess. (Keep in mind- I’m the girl who has held about 10 events in the past 3 months).  PLEASE, rethink the bottle of wine, and cut flowers.  At one of my housewarming parties a few years ago I received over 30 bottles of wine.  As a single woman who rarely drinks wine, and then, only white wine ( and, I’ll admit it- shit white wine at that), there was not a chance I was going to ever drink that much wine, not to mention, be able to store it.  Can I just say…… IT IS UNIMAGINATIVE!  It’s boring.  It’s the easy way out, and most likely, it’s wine some other unimaginative, boring person gave YOU!  Come up with something that the hostess might really be able to use.  It’s simple. It’s more fun.  And it says you really care.

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers……. Anymore…..

The other item to stop bringing…… cut flowers that need to be put in a vase.  The last thing in the world a hostess has time to do when a slew of people are walking in her door is figure out where a damned vase that will fit your flowers is! AND, if her cupboard where vases are stored is where my vase cupboard has been in all my previous homes, it is 6 feet up, above the oven, and they are stacked in there in such a way that opening it may be life threatening.  DON’T DO THIS TO THE WOMAN WHO JUST MADE YOU A MEAL!  Either bring a plant that is in a ready-to-go container, a flowering plant or flowers in a vase.  Don’t add stress to the woman who just put this event together. It’s stressful to figure out what to do with a bouquet of flowers when so much is going on!

A potted plant is a great gift! A hostess doesn’t have to find a vase, take time to arrange it, and can plop it down and carry on!

Use Your Imagination…..

You might wonder, what in the world you are supposed to being a hostess if not wine and flowers? Bring something seasonal.  An ornament or decoration if it’s the holiday season.  A pretty fall accessory. An orchid or other flowering plant which can be set down and dealt with later.  If you know the hostess has a passion for something, bring something that speaks to that.  A friend recently brought the cutest little mug set to a party I gave. One said “The Queen of Damn Near Everything.”  The other “The King of Whatever’s Left.” Something for both Don and I, that said she’d thought about it!  Another friend brought a lovely orchid.  For about 8 weeks, I had blooms that made me think of her. Neither cost more that most bottles of wine, I’m sure! But they spoke volumes to me when I received them.

This was a hostess gift that showed me the giver KNEW me, and took time to bring something fitting my tastes and quirks!

3. DON’T BRING A GUEST WITHOUT TELLING THE HOST

I am probably the most “more the merrier” person in the world.  Unless I’m putting on an event that can only have a specific number of people for a good reason, I always say “bring whoever you want.”  HOWEVER, if you do that, can you PLEASE clue the hostess in that someone she may not know will be arriving?

On more than one occasion I have been in my home at a party and see someone I don’t know, enjoying food and drink.  It is very awkward to walk up to a person in your home, and inquire who they are, and how they got there!  It’s really not that tough to clue the hostess in that you have brought a friend, and introduce you, or to tell her your friend may be stopping by. COME ON PEOPLE- should we have to tell you this shit?

4. DON’T WHINE IF YOU AREN’T INVITED TO SOMETHING.

As a host or hostess, we can’t invite ALL of the people ALL of the time.  I have had numerous occasions where, at a smaller gathering I haven’t invited someone that might come to other gatherings I have.  When you are having a sit-down luncheon for example, only a certain number of people can fit at the table.

DON’T BE THE PERSON WHO GETS ALL BUTT HURT BECAUSE YOU WEREN’T INVITED!

I can’t begin to tell you the many times I’ve seen people getting all up in arms because someone had an event and they weren’t invited to go!  GET OVER IT!  We aren’t in 3rd grade.  We can’t always invite every damned person we know, AND….. I’ll bet those of you who get all butt hurt NEVER INVITE THOSE SAME PEOPLE TO YOUR HOUSE! It’s always the ones who want to be invited to every damned thing who never invite others to their house! They typically don’t entertain, yet they WANT to be entertained!

Take a look at your social skills people!  Are you being a good guest?  Taking time to RSVP? Inviting your favorite hostess to your house now and then? Remember your mother’s old saying, “To have a good friend you need to BE a good friend!”

We are all adults here.  Let’s look back at some of Emily Posts rules, and take a bit of time to follow some of them.  You will be glad you did!  (And so will the hostess who invited you!)

The Best Gift(s) That I Ever Got….

Adventures With Attitude!, Comedy, Fabulous After 50, Family Time, Giving Back, Uncategorized

When Christmas is close we can’t help but think about gifts.  Both gifts we have given others, and gifts we have received. One of my favorite Christmas songs was on an album (yep, that’s how I still think….. album) by Barbara Streisand.  “The Greatest Gift I Ever Got” talks about the gift not costing a lot… Although, truth be told, the gift she is speaking about is a baby. And babies do. Cost. A. LOT!  However, I digress…..

When you think back about the gifts you have received over the years, it most often isn’t the ones that cost the most that you remember.  And, being the age I am now……. a whoppin’ old 60, I have a LOT of gifts I can think back on.  Most AREN’T remembered years later, sad as that may be.

Sometimes the ones we remember are the goofiest ones ever!  The ones where you received them and thought….. “Really? Really? This person thought this was an appropriate gift?” “They really thought I’d like this?  Need this?  WANT this?”  I remember when I married my kids’ dad… (remember readers, if you’ve been paying attention, I either have to number them, or refer to them by a phrase that will help you to remember.  This husband was husband # 2, “My kids’ dad” is the phrase I typically use. There could be a pop quiz on this at some point, so write this down so you can refer back later….)

Again, I digress……where was I?  Oh yes. When I married my Kids’ dad, we had a big wedding.  All the typical bells and whistles….. the hotel reception, band, food, drinks.  I was marrying a man with more kids than a basketball team (I think, anyway.  I’m not much of a sports person.)  So, it’s not just two little newlyweds starting out life. We were the Brady Bunch on steroids.  Some jackass gives us 2……. count them 2 REALLY ugly rust colored cloth placemats with matching napkins.  Dollar stores didn’t exist then, but if they had, these wouldn’t be sold there because they weren’t nice enough. I DO, however, remember them some 38 years later……. The ugly rust “sets of two”  were closely followed up by the 2 “napkin rings” another wedding attendee gave us which looked like hamburgers that you stuck your napkins through. Almost equally ugly on the gift giving spectrum.  Both attendees were obviously friends, to have given these gifts – and in the quantity they chose. Just in case we decided to have a romantic little “hamburger” picnic somewhere without the kids in tow, I suppose………

Back to the story line here.  When you think back to the best gifts that you ever got, they usually aren’t the most expensive.  They are often the most thoughtful.  Many times, they were something that someone took the time to make for you by hand.

I’ve been giving this a bit of thought of late. What was the best gift I’ve ever gotten?  I can’t really narrow it down to just one gift.  But I can narrow it down to a few.

I had wanted to skydive since I was a teenager.  I never had done it, for a number of reasons.  The biggest reason was that my husbands (yes, plural. And yes, all of them) always said the same thing.  “No wife of mine is going to jump out of a plane.” WTF is wrong with men- that they don’t want you to jump outta’ a plane? Possessive bastards!

So, after I got rid of the last husband…. (in case you are paying attention, and want to have the answer for the pop quiz. he was #3 and is fondly referred to as “The financial fuck-up.”  Write this down so you can refer back when needed.)

As I was saying……. after I got rid of the last hubby, I wanted more than EVER to jump out of a plane.  I’m a thrill seeker, and I love trying anything daring, fun and different.  My daughter surprised me, and her brother by buying us tickets to sky-dive together!  A TOTAL surprise, and one of my favorite gifts EVER. After all, if you ARE going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, and if the worst should happen, go with all of your children along. That way you won’t leave behind any grieving kiddos!  As you can probably surmise by the fact that you are reading this blog……… it all worked out well in the end!  SUCH great fun, in fact, that we all 3 purchased another ticket to come back again and jump out together one more time!

Don, my current (and permanent- if I’ve got any say in the matter) man  bought me a hang gliding experience last year, but time hasn’t permitted me jumping off a cliff yet!  I can’t wait to do it though!

St. Nick isn’t the only one who brings great gifts!

One of the other gifts that meant the world to me came from a person  I don’t even know.  A number of years ago, a package came in the mail.  In it was a beautifully framed, counted cross-stitch picture.  It says “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Heb. 13:2”.  In the package was a note, thanking me for letting this person in to make a call when they were lost.  You can tell how long ago this was, because it was before we had cell phones!  We lived in Rancho Santa Fe, and it was pretty easy to get turned around and lost out there.  And I was one of those trusting people who let someone come in and make a call to figure out where they needed to be.  It had happened more than once, so when this unexpected gift showed up, I barely remembered the incident.

When the gift arrived in the mail I was surprised.  Number 1, it hadn’t seemed like a big deal to me.  Number 2, I had done counted cross stitch, and trust me…… I don’t like ANYONE well enough to spend the time and effort to do it for THEM!  This little 6×6 framed saying has remained out in my home every day in the 25-30 years that I have owned it.  It is very pretty, but it’s much more than that.  Every time I look at it I have 2 thoughts.  What I did, in the smallest kindness, for whatever reason meant a lot to someone else.  AND, what they did for me meant so much to me.

We don’t know how a small kindness might affect someone else.  Just a kind word telling someone what a great job they are doing, how festive their holiday attire is, how you noticed THEIR kindness to someone else could mean more than you will EVER know.

So, in this time of gift giving— busyness, hustle and bustle, please remember to give the greatest gift of all.  Kindness.  It doesn’t cost anything, but can make the world of difference.

 

 

Creepy Christmas Carols

Comedy, My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!, Uncategorized, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

I fully understand that most of our Christmas Carols were written quite some time ago – and standards of what is acceptable have changed dramatically during that time.  Am I the only one who shudders when you hear some of those “old classics?” Many are not only “politically incorrect” they are “socially incorrect.”

Think about it.  In We Wish You a Merry Christmas– a bunch of strangers walk up to your door, and start singing outside.  When you open the door, they demand “figgy pudding” (and God only knows what the hell THAT foul sounding concoction is).  Then this intrusive bunch of strangers says they “won’t go until they get some.”  It’s like spontaneous trick-or-treating of sorts, but you have no idea that this rude bunch was going to show up- and you are supposed to be Johnny-on-the-spot with some damned  figgy pudding! Or maybe, it would better be called Martha-Stewart-on-the-spot! ( I’d doubt that even Martha would have figgy pudding whipped up, ready for carolers! And – I’d also bet, you don’t just show up ringing the bell at Martha’s house unannounced!) I can’t imagine too many of us would be ready to welcome a large group of strangers into our home unannounced and feed them dessert!

Where was Santa when the bullying was taking place?

Then of course, the one that really makes my blood boil.  The ultimate “it’s OK to bully someone” song.  Rudolph The Red Nose Raindeer. Rudolph, the poor little raindeer with the big red nose.  This poor little guy is different from the other “kids” and gets teased, made fun of and ostracized from raindeer society.

The big guy in the red suit obviously knows this bullying is going on, and he doesn’t do anything to stop it either.  But then- alas- when there is a USE for poor little Rudolph- he is called upon and becomes the hero of the raindeer hierarchy. Am I the only one who is pissed off by this little song?  Come on- why didn’t anyone stick up for little Rudolph earlier in this little ditty?  Fuck you Dasher and Dancer, Donder and Blitzen, and all your other little raindeer bully friends………And shame on you Santa and Mrs. Claus for letting the bullying happen in the first place.

How about Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  Again, Creepy!  He “Sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.”  This sounds more like Stalker Santa than not,  in my book! Picture some fat old guy hovering about in your bedroom,  looking over you when you are a small child asleep in your room.  Uh………. no thanks! I’m not going there  for just  a few little presents under the tree Santa….. I have my standards!

Oh my goodness- another song that is very odd when you think it through.  I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.  What’s it do to a little kid to see his slutty mommy screwing around under the same roof where daddy lives?  What’s THAT say to a developing little psyche? Mommy is kissing AND tickling the chubby old guy, and this kids sneaks in and sees the whole scene! Right under the same roof where daddy was probably the sole breadwinner in those days! I have a feeling that once daddy gets told mommy is screwing around with another guy, this kid is going to find out it isn’t so “funny” after all!

The guy in this song just doesn’t get the word NO!

The REALLY creepy song?  What I call the original “date rape” song.  Baby It’s Cold Outside. This woman CLEARLY states numerous times she wants to leave, and he insists she stays.She says “I really must go, the answer is no.”  Still he insists she stay- saying there are no cabs outside, because it’s cold!   Whatever happened to that saying- “No means no?” Not only does he keep insisting she stay, but it sounds like he slipped a rufie into her drink! She says, “What’s in this drink?” CREEPY!  CREEPY!  Mr. Date Rape himself is the star of this little ballad!

“Say, WHAT’S in this drink? (Maybe a rufie?)

Santa Baby takes “gold digging” to a new standard!  Work it sister, and get the old geezer to buy you diamonds, furs and cars! There is a GREAT standard to teach the kids!  Money can’t buy you happiness, but using those womanly curves can get you the goods!

The list goes on and on…… this is just the tip of the Creepy Christmas Carol lyrics.

My last comment on Christmas Carols…….. I know I have a number of screws loose, but am I the only person who gets creeped out whenever Karen Carpenters songs come on? I don’t know WHAT it is, but the whole time she is singing my mind plays a constant loop of “dead woman singing.”  I don’t think that when Whitney Houston songs come on, or Nat King Cole, or Bing Crosby- or any number of other artist who have gone on to the big gates in the sky….. but Karen Carpenter songs cause damage to my brain, because that is all I can think of……. Dead woman singing.  I know, someone should have me committed…….. put away for a long time so I don’t do further damage to myself or those around me.

My mind tends to go to places the average Joe, or Josephine wouldn’t begin to imagine.

A little PS to this article…. Do you remember the song Grandma Got Run Over by a Raindeer?  Well, check out the following YouTube link!   It gives some real credibility to that song!

Crickets……… Have You Heard The Crickets?

Cocktail Time, life, Sexy After 60!, Uncategorized

Crickets……… I apologize for the Crickets!

“Are you still writing your blog?”  “I haven’t seen any new articles in a few weeks.” “Where the hell IS the Queen of Damn Near Everything?”

Those are the questions I’ve heard more than a few times over the past few weeks.  You might wonder if The Queen took off to a new kingdom- or just what the hell has happened.

Life.

Life is what happened. All good.  (Mostly good, actually).  But life.  Life at “speed of light” living.  And something had to give, somewhere. So, unfortunately, it was this blog.

Sorry peeps!

We moved just after Labor Day.  A good thing.  A great thing actually.  But a TIME CONSUMING thing.  Moving isn’t for sissies.  Even if you are a Realtor and should know how to do this stuff. And those of you who are in my “inner circle” know how crazy life is at the best of times.  we had out of town company right before the move, so we couldn’t do much packing. Then, of course, I don’t like to shut down my regularly scheduled life, so I continued to have my little parties and events I do monthly, such as Bunko, right up until days before the move……..Which leads to craziness when the actual move happened.

We had my stuff, Don’s stuff and too damned much stuff.

And, to add to the Melee, (Is that the word?  Is that A word?)Long before the move was planned, a vacation was planned.  To Cabo. For a week.  One week to the day after our move.

Great in some ways, because I had been averaging about 3 hours sleep for 6 weeks straight.  From the day we went into escrow, I’d hit the bed, and then by 1:30 AM be awake thinking of all the stuff that needed to be done for the move, and by 3 AM, I’d bound out and start moving at the pace of a chimpanzee on crack, never stopping for a minute until I fell into bed about 11 PM.

That being said, the vacation actually probably saved me from physical ruin.

A few days after we return from vacation, Don manages to break his foot. (THAT is another story for another day, trust me!) So, on top of trying to get a house in order, we now have to deal with a guy who is supposed to stay completely off his foot until they can get around to surgery.  Two weeks after the break we have surgery…………..So now, the guy who picks up so much of my slack by running here, running there, picking up this, helping out here……… is pretty much confined to sitting with his leg up. Leaving me with a LOT less time in my schedule.

But will I let that stop me?  HELL NO!  I still forge ahead with the important things in life.  Planning my first bunko party in the new house.  Planning our housewarming party. Putting on a dinner party for my Kiwanis group….  And work.  Work just doesn’t stop.  OH HELL NO!  Real estate has been as busy as EVER! So, just when you think you have a full day to unpack, organize, decorate or whatever, someone calls and off you go…… showing property.

Then, added to moving, broken legs, entertaining and making a new home, the “new home” pipes up.  If you have ever moved, you may be familiar with this phenomenon.  I don’t know if it has a name, but I know it happens, sure as the sun rises. Houses somehow KNOW when you move into them, and they decide to immediately ACT UP! Although an appliance may have been inspected before purchase of the house, although things all look fine and dandy before purchasing, WHAM, the house wants to see how much you REALLY love it by making things stop working properly, at seemingly break neck speed right after you move in. It kind of makes me think of a toddler who wants to test if you REALLY love them, by testing you every minute.

So, the first time we have the kids and a few friends over, we turn on the spa.  We’d been using the spa basically every night since move in, with no problems. We turn it on that evening and the water just drains out of the spa within seconds.  HUH?  A repair of a major part. Of course.

Then we have my Kiwanis group over for a party.  We have hired a caterer and she arrives, turns on the oven (first time since we’d moved in) and WHAP!  Blam, pow……. smoke, sparks, zap and no electrical panel now.  Of course, when the home warranty repairman arrives, he tells me there is nothing wrong with the oven.  (He has continued to tell me that the other two times I’ve had them come out…. again, another story for another day.)

And Real Estate. As I said, busy as hell. And none of the transactions I’ve dealt with have just gone down smoothly.  HELL NO!  There has been some sort of “challenge” (read as pain-in-the-ass) involved in every damned one of them.

AND, I’ve also been involved in selling my own home AND overseeing a home upgrade for a client, so I could get that house on the market for the best price.

To top it all off, my 60th birthday was Monday (November 13th for those of you who want to put it in your calendar for next year.  Send gifts.  Lots of them.  I like gifts.)  Needless to say, I’m having the big wing-ding party for my 60th, because, damn it, I’m worth it.  So, that happened Saturday night.  The band, the FABULOUS new dress. The DELICIOUS chocolate mousse cake, the out of town company……I even had a “signature Martini at the event. The Patti-tini!  (What else?) It was absolutely EPIC and SO much fun!  (Stay tuned, you WILL be subjected to pictures!)

I can now OFFICIALLY use my category of Sexy After 60! YIPPEE!  And did I score with the fun, all the way around!  Gifts, family, friends, fun, fun, fun!

That being said, this explains full well why all you have heard from me is crickets.  But I’m back!

Don’t forget about me! I didn’t forget about you! Tell your friends about this blog.  I’m only asking for you to personally share it with 100 of your closest friends.  Easy peasy!  You can do that for a fabulous friend like me, right?

Stay tuned. I have travel stuff to share. Before and after decorating stuff to share. Broken foot stories to share. There is a lot up in this noggin’ of mine to share with you.

 

I’m Not A Zen Girl!

Fabulous After 50, Health = Happiness!, My Humble Opinion, Uncategorized, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

Meditation- I give it about 3 seconds til I hit the “crazy” button!

Dancing is the New Meditation

I have heard for decades that the best way to relax and achieve inner harmony is to meditate.  You can’t live in Southern California without have a hundred people tell you “it’s the way to go.” I call BS on that!  Don’t get me wrong.  If you meditate, and it works for you, more power to you!  I”ll even give you an “Om” to go.

It’s just that meditation, to me is the greatest and easiest way to stress out I have ever tried.  I’ve tried it more than a handful of times.  And here is exactly what happens.  I sit in this place I’ve decided to be quiet in and cleanse my mind.  In approximately 30 seconds a committee shows up in my head. The committee is loud.  It’s raucous.  They all begin to talk, taunt and tease.  I suddenly am filled with thoughts of all of the “productive” things I could be doing.  Should be doing.  Need to get done.  I think of things with work that I have been putting off.  I think of things I could be writing for my blog, rather than just sitting here, wasting time.  I think of things that need to be done in my house. How many things I need to organize. The closets that could use cleaning, the drawers that need sorting.  I think of things that WILL need to be done for work, my house, my blog in the near future.  I think about places I could go for travel and enjoyment, and want to look those things up on the internet RIGHT THEN.

I begin to think about things that really bug me.  Things that have bothered me for awhile. Things I didn’t even  KNOW bothered me.  Now I start to get REALLY irritated at the things that I didn’t even know were bothering me.

Any small problem in my life can take on gargantuan proportions when I sit down to meditate. They suddenly become overwhelming.

Meditation = STRESS For My Brain!

While attempting to meditate I start to think about things I have recently seen on Facebook that I thought were really profound.  Or really cute. Or really irritating.   You know the things I’m referring to- the political posts that differ from your opinion.  The people that voice their totally inane and negative opinions on someone’s post, which were TOTALLY unnecessary.  The more I am supposed to “empty my mind” the more that comes in to crowd it, and  my blood pressure goes up.  Which is, I think the direct opposite of the point of meditating.

All of this brain hyperactivity  can be accomplished in record time.  I’m sure I’ve just spent at LEAST three hours in the process, and when I look at the clock, I’ll be damned, five minutes haven’t even passed! God bless you if this meditation thing calms you down. It just stresses the hell out of me!

The same people who like to meditate, enjoy Yoga. Don’t even get me going on that one!  If I’m going to spend an hour in an exercise class, I want to feel like it’s doing something for my body. I can’t get through half a yoga class without wanting to laugh at the absurd positions (which don’t seem to be building any sort of muscle that I can tell). I want to giggle at the silly names they call them. And for some reason, the people in Yoga class are just too damned serious about the whole thing.  It becomes a religious activity for them, it seems.  Forget Yoga…..I much prefer to do a few crunches, hold a plank, lift a few weights, or Zumba my way to cardio health.  In Zumba you can’t help but have a happy attitude! Why- because DANCE MOVES are happening there!

Screw meditating! I’m just NOT a Zen girl!

I’m Not a Zen Girl!

I guess the cat is out of the bag.  I’m not a Zen girl.  My idea of relaxing is planning a party, figuring out my next event, or dancing.  Dancing is my “drug of choice.”

When I went through a divorce about 8 years ago, I decided to take up dancing.  It was something I’d always wanted to learn, and it was the first thing I set my mind to when I knew the marriage was over.  Now THERE is a stress reliever! There is a blood pressure reducer!  And, like meditation and yoga combined- it’s GREAT for your body!  Within a few months, although I was out every evening and enjoying a few drinks, I looked better than I had in years!  I lost weight and toned up, without dieting or even TRYING!

Dancing- My “Drug of Choice!”

When you dance, the committees can’t be in your head, because you are too busy following the lead of your partner.  You can’t think about the problems you’ve got going on, what needs to be done at home, what is going on with work.  There is only one focus.  Dancing.  What the next move is, where your partner and your body are going to lead you.

For me, dancing gives me all the benefits of meditation, and then some.

If sitting in a quiet room, making your mind blank works for you, then go for it!

Just PLEASE don’t try telling me that it’s a stress reliever!  Not for my A type of personality!  Thirty minutes of meditation a day would probably put me in the grave within the first month!

No matter what problems I have in life, after a few hours dancing I feel refreshed, at peace and in tune with my body and soul.

Dancing video, Kingston Mines (This is a little video my daughter shot of Don & I when we were all in Chicago this summer.  I realize the video is dark, and I apologize!  If you get to Chicago, this place is worth visiting!)

 

Ode to Summer

Family Time, life, Mothering 101, Travel and Adventure, Uncategorized

I’ve been buried eyes deep in packing boxes, fresh from the “big move.” Racing to make the new house “home” so that we can get back to the pace of real life again. You’ll hear more about that adventure soon. Since I haven’t had much time to write, I thought I’d post my first “guest blogger” and share this lovely article, Ode to Summer, with you.

Enjoy!  I think you’ll enjoy it as much as  I did when I read it.

Ode to Summer

Those lazy, crazy days of summer! Photo Credit Suzanne Scheve 2017

I’m sitting on a California beach watching my daughter jump the waves. This year we swapped our annual crazy road trip for a stay on the west coast, and at the end of an idyllic, albeit busy, ten day vacation with my family, I suddenly find myself staring at a new school year lurking just around the corner. While I’m excited to get my class list and finish organizing my room, I’m definitely not ready for summer’s last hurrah.

Summers Past

When I was my daughter’s age, I counted the days to our annual two-week beach trip by number of sleeps until the big day arrived.    We didn’t own a car, so travel was by motor coach to the south coast of England, a 7-8 hour mostly tedious journey, endless motorways finally giving way to the first views of the twinkling blue waves at the bottom of the hill as we pulled into the bus station at our destination.

We always stayed at a B&B for our fortnight of sand, sea, and sun; usually chosen sight-unseen from a holiday book, sandwiched somewhere along a row of Victorian three-storey homes, mostly the same on the outside, but revealing the personal stamp of the owners on the inside.  Creaky floorboards, uneven staircases, and old paisley carpets were de rigeur, however; along with the smells of morning bacon wafting up the stairs as we woke to the alarm call of the gulls wheeling in the impossibly-blue skies; the sound of stainless steel spoons in bowls of cereal, the scrape of knives and forks as you ate up every scrap of that full English breakfast which always tasted better on holiday.

Nell at the beach, Cardiff, CA. Photo Credit, Suzanne Scheve 2017

Sand Castles and Salty-Sea-Lips

Most days were unplanned but usually had the same routine –  heading down the Chine to the beach with a towel (sometimes splurging on a deck chair); digging sand castles with a new bucket and spade; salty-sea-lips, mixed in with the taste of suncream and lunchtime baps filled with tomatoes, cheese, the obligatory packet of crisps,  and some form of lunchmeat.  Most importantly, it was essential to time the return to the B&B perfectly so that we’d be first to stake a claim on the communal bathroom – otherwise we’d be relegated to a quick cold dip in the tub, or worse, a ‘lick and a promise’ with Quickies and cold water in our attic twin room.  The bedroom sink did double duty as an underwear rinsing station too: M&S smalls hung to dry on a makeshift clothesline outside the window – and never a problem until one day a gust of wind blew a very sparkly pair of my purple knickers off the window sill and onto the No Vacancy sign in the parking area, where they remained until Mum rather sheepishly reclaimed them before dinner that night.

On the days when the tide was high and the beach area was reduced to a few feet, we’d take day trips to explore nearby towns and sights: a local safari park and forest, miniature recreations of British and worldwide monuments; we’d play mini-golf or time-waste in thAe penny arcade; or shop for souvenirs at Beale’s or W.H. Smith’s.  In the evenings, we’d walk into town or hop on the open top bus and ride the cliff roads with views of the bay: the Aqua show, Pier Theatre, and the fairy lights in the Public Gardens were always at the top of our post-dinner to-do list.

Sometimes we would go to the pictures – I remember seeing the Sound of Music for the first time and crushing on Colonel Von Trapp; belly-laughing at the corny jokes of Airplane!; and the summer of the disaster movie – Earthquake with the simulated shaking in the theatre; Towering Inferno with a sweaty Paul Newman and George Kennedy; and Jaws of course, after which every innocuous black shape in the sea caused a mild panic on the beach.

Years later, I look back at old photographs and find great joy in those memories of childhood summer holidays.  How lucky I was!  And how lucky I am in my summers now, to be able to spend many days off with my own daughter.   My Junes are filled with swim team and Vacation Bible School – quite possibly the best summer invention ever; my Julys and early Augusts calendared with trips by road or plane to visit family.

This summer, my goal was to get my house in order and focus (my one little word for 2017) on the myriad personal projects I never have time for during the school year.  I’ve organized and reorganized my pantry, kitchen, and the bedrooms; prepped for my new classroom; purged, tossed, and shredded paper piles; donated, sold, and put away the contents of my closet; finally tackled my tangled up jewellery boxes;  read more books for pleasure than for professional development; and most importantly, carved out serious quality time making new summer memories with my girl.

My grand daughter, Nell and “grand dog” Toro, a.k.a “Mush” Photo Credit, Suzanne Scheve 2017

Last week, on our connecting flight here, I found myself sitting next to a mother who had recently lost her Navy son to a tragic accident.  She was on her way to give comfort to her daughter-in-law, who was drowning in despair, struggling to come up for air with a seven-month old son.  We talked about loss; about hanging on to faith by your fingernails when everything seems overwhelming; how there is no timeline on grief; how anxiety and depression can overwhelm your soul in those early days of loss; and how the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel can seem as unattainable as the summit of Everest when the pain of loss is but a few days old.

Time Waits for No Man……. or Woman

In 9 days, I will be exactly the same age as my husband was when he left this earth – 52 years and 98 days old.  28 days after that will be the 6th anniversary of his passing.  My daughter is a rising 5th grader who will turn 11 in October.   She tells me she remembers his voice.  I hear his laugh in hers, and see his kindness in her thoughtful ways.  She is his legacy of love.

Stopping the clock to freeze our favourite moments in time; pushing the snooze button on summer; tweaking the past with a time-turner – these are not available options for us.  In times of loss, it’s easy to clutch at the past, as a drowning man grabs for a lifebelt.  Time passes, and the rawness of immediate grief gives way to what is often called a new normal (I hate that term by the way); we resolve to go forward; to try to live our best lives, appreciate what we have, while we have it.  To be present in the moment and enjoy those simpler pleasures.  Dust bunnies and laundry can wait til tomorrow. Our lives shouldn’t be measured by piles of stuff, but too often, those piles become our defining memories.

Simple Pleasure of Summer

So summer of 2017, here’s to you and your simple pleasures…..

….to lazy days of walking on the beach and jumping the waves….

…..to that can’t-put-down novel and languishing in luscious language……

…..to sunburned shoulders and freckled faces…..

…..,to diving in the deep end of a pool and blowing bubbles through noses….

…..to cold pizza and icecream for breakfast, juicy watermelon dripping down chins, and everything good to eat…..

…to sleeping in on weekday mornings, and napping on the wraparound porch as the hummingbirds dive bomb the hanging baskets like kamikaze pilots…..

Cheers to you, summer…..

Cardiff-by-the-Sea CA. Beach. Photo Credit, Suzanne Scheve 2017

A bit about the author:

Suzanne Scheve is a single mom and a third grade teacher living in Houston, Texas, with her daughter, dog, and cat.  She enjoys traveling, cooking, eating anything on a plate, and hanging with her extended family in California, St. Louis, and on the East Coast.

Suzanne is also my step-daughter, from a previous marriage (it’s complicated, and FAR too difficult to explain here! She is also the fabulous mother of my only Granddaughter, Nell. Suzanne is a talented writer and photographer, in addition to her other previously named skills. I will vouch for her love for travel, cooking and eating! I have witnessed her abilities in all 3 activities!

Just days after they were with us for our summer visit, and their return home to Houston, Hurricane Harvey hit. Luckily, their home wasn’t damaged, and they were not impacted as severely as many there were.  We are blessed to have these two females as a vibrant and important part of our family.

You can find more of Suzanne’s writings at https://suiteanglaise.wordpress.com

By the way, If you haven’t yet subscribed to my blog, do it now! As soon as the boxes and clutter are cleared away, and I can get back to “real life” I’m going to be running some fabulous “subscriber only” contests!  You don’t want to miss your chance at fabulous free stuff—- do you?SUBSCRIBE ALREADY!

 

Faded Photographs…….

Family Time, Household DIY, Royal Ramblings!, Serious Shit, The Queen's Castle- DIY, Uncategorized

Out With “The Old?”

There is no doubting that in our lives, time passes, things change, people come and go from our lives.  On my computer, my screensaver is a constantly changing round of all of the photos stored on my computer.  I have never gone in and purged photos from the years past, so, undoubtedly, photos from past relationships show up, my children’s past relationships, sometimes family or friends who are no longer with us, or aren’t any longer a part of my life.  My daughter has expressed shock that a picture of an old boyfriend of hers will pop up on my screen. “Mom, why do you still have THAT on your computer?”  I’m sure there has been the occasional time my man has walked past my computer to see a picture pop up of me with one of my ex’s.

You may wonder why I don’t “purge” those photos from my computer.  Time. Or lack of it may be one reason.  However, even if I had the time to go through dozens of files of photos to take out those from past relationships, I probably wouldn’t do it.

This silly picture is me, my daughters, Alyse and KT. We went up to Long Beach, to see my sister who was visiting from Illinois. This was New Years Eve Day, and who could resist these glasses? (I still have 2 pairs!) It’s one of those memories of a great family day, filled with silliness!

Memories of Days Gone By

Each and every one of those photos are a part of me.  Although a breakup happened, those photos typically represent a small snapshot of time, a time that I was enjoying the day, the person, the event.  To purge those photos would be purging a happy memory.  While a relationship, in “the whole” might not have worked, the day at the beach was a good one.  The family trip may have been a special one.  The wedding we attended was a beautiful day for the couple involved, even if that couple’s relationship- or mine- may not still be intact.

Seeing those pictures from years past often give me a brief spark of memory of what redeeming quality  I did see in that person at the time, and make the “mistake” of the relationship a little less piercing.

And if you know me, you know I’m a bit vain, so seeing myself as I looked a few years back is a fun kick in the pants too!  “Damn, I looked pretty darned good at that family party, I must say!” “What was I thinking wearing that Christmas sweater?”  “Look how young the kids were there!”  “That was such a fun vacation! I remember that we did (this or that) on that trip!”

Traces of Love… And Friends No Longer With Us

If you are old enough, you may remember the song, “Traces of Love”, which had the lines, “faded photographs, covered now with lines and creases, tickets torn in half, memories in bits and pieces…traces of love, long ago, that didn’t work out right….. traces of love with me, tonight.”  Our digital photos no longer fade and crease, but our memories often do.  The constant replaying of those photos helps me to remember those days, those moments and those memories.

I love the feeling of looking at my computer, and chuckling over a particularly silly time, or feeling that little “tug” on my heartstrings when a photo of a friend who is no longer with us pops up.

My lovely friend, Sharon Freed. So gorgeous, so much fun! When we worked together, we would laugh so hard our stomachs would hurt. Gone too fast, and too young. When this picture pops up, although I look like a complete DORK in this picture, seeing my friend makes me smile every time! Yes, it’s bittersweet, but memories of our times together are nothing BUT sweet!

Life’s “Before” and “Afters”

I have photos of the first home I purchased as a single woman, about 5 years ago.  At the time, I had recently come out of a marriage to a financially reckless man who left my finances devastated, my credit score well below 500, and no credit cards to my name.  The ability to purchase this home was totally unexpected- kind of kismet, you might say.  So, as I remodeled this home, doing vast amounts of the work with my own two (manicured) hands,  not only did I build myself a new “home”- I was in the process of building a new life. Reinventing myself, and reinventing this dated mobile home into something I was proud of.  I can remember the nights I worked at that house until 2 or 3 am getting it ready to move into. I loved that home, I shared it with numerous friends, having many events there. The sweat equity I built into that home became  a springboard to purchase my second home as a single woman, the home I currently live in.

This was the “before” of my bedroom at the home I redecorated.

Here is the same bedroom after I worked on the house.

Looking at those photos when they randomly pop up- whether it is one of the “before” photos of a dated, worn out kitchen, or the unpainted 1970’s dingy, dark paneling, or the “after” pictures of the fabulous 1940’s style black, white and crystal bathroom I created, I feel a great sense of accomplishment for having made my way through what could have been a dark time.

Here was the kitchen when I took possession of the house. Yes, all of this junk was left for me!

Here is the after on the same kitchen. I LOVED that kitchen! I did it on a shoestring- pulling out the old cabinets myself, re-using the stove, and getting a refrigerator free from a friend! This picture wasn’t taken ‘staged’- so ignore the stuff on the countertops!  You’ve got to remember, many of these photos were taken for “memory’s sake.” I had no idea I’d have a blog where I was sharing them!

There is no rhyme or reason to the order my photos from my past show up.  Some pictures will have rotated 20 times through my screen, when others don’t seem to appear for months, but whatever is on my screen, there is ALWAYS a memory sparked.  Often a smile.  Sometimes a shake of the head and an eye roll, along with “What the hell was I thinking.”  But no matter what the reaction, I know that what I am seeing is a snapshot of my past. And every one of them add up to having made me the woman I am today. The unique me that I am.  Every one of them is a treasure to me, and to my ever fading memories of my past.  Will I clear out those photos of my ex, my daughter’s ex, even the “friend” who might have turned out NOT to be such a great friend?  Probably not.  Because every one of the memories that pop up before my eyes are there for a reason.

My darling grand daughter Nell and me at Disneyland. We were attending the “Princess Lunch” and you can see she was thrilled! (So was I, obviously, because I was wearing a tiara….. Once the Queen, always the Queen, and don’t you forget it!) Nell is 10 now, and she was only 4 here!