Monthly Archives: November 2019

Weird Things for Which I Am Thankful

Winter, like an obnoxious relative, blew in early in Indiana and now threatens to stay forever. When we have to shovel snow within days of Halloween, our backs and arms ache too much to assume a posture of gratitude. But I will exercise some Thanksgiving muscle.

Me being me, though, most of my reasons for gratitude sound a little weird. Nevertheless, I am thankful for:

Aisle signs in parking lots. I usually disregard them, but when I do memorize my car’s location and actually find it after shopping, I experience a real rush — and sweet sense of superiority to wandering souls who set off car alarms to find theirs.

Deep purple hand towels. They defy even my grandchildren’s noblest efforts to stain them.

Piano tuners. As much as I loathe off-key music, my very bones scream when a piano tuner pounds and adjusts my keys. As tuners possess sensitive ears, too, I salute their bravery in attacking enemy tones.

Flatware. That the majority of the 330,044,724 people in the U.S. advocate the use of forks and spoons, as opposed to sporks.

For television. Within minutes of flicking the remote, some lauded, lunatic sports figure or pubescent program convinces me I am actually pretty sane.

Black olives, a time-honored flavor fetish in our family. My children and grandchildren share my taste for them on pizza, though my son-in-law attempted to teach his toddler the little black things were bugs. Grandma’s DNA prevailed (Ha!), and I am thankful for descendants who are fellow olive-eaters.

Mugs. Especially those that, when clasped by left-handed people, display a design as pretty as the one right-handers see.

Pennies. They are such generous little coins, willing to make a small difference whenever necessary. Plus, a fistful of them still gives me a vestige of that billionaire feeling I savored as a child, carrying them to Charlie’s General Store to exchange for a sucker-bubblegum-Pixy-Stix® feast.

Greeting cards. The ones that do not need extra postage because of wordiness.

My big, ugly, rubber boots. They are best buddies whether mudding through the garden or wading through snow.

Hundred-calorie bags of popcorn.

Rear window heaters and wipers.

People who spell my name without apostrophes.

Winds that blow our leaves into other people’s yards.

Expired calendars that abound in my purse, office and on my refrigerator. They remind me of: A. sweet memories; B. moments of misery endured (whew!); and that life, whether A or B, is precious and passes swiftly.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: This Thanksgiving, what weird things do you appreciate?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Getting Old Can Be Good!

O Lord, though AARP and Medicare supplemental insurance companies seem ecstatic that I’m older, I’m not inclined to thank You for sagginess, bagginess, and wrinkles. But when our precious clan, including seven grandkids, comes for Thanksgiving — OMG, I’m grateful to be Grandma! 

 

Yay, November!

Embrace November, with its nasty weather and nastier heating bills?

Warm hats have gone AWOL, except the pom-pom wonder Aunt Mabel knitted last Christmas. Buttonless and zipper-challenged coats should have been dry-cleaned in August. Umbrellas are too obsessed with their broken ribs to provide protection.

Fortunately, fireplaces ignite so we can toast our toes. Along with the season’s first steaming cup of hot chocolate, we’ll savor equally delicious books.

Although, authors sometimes diss November. Poet Robert Burns speaks of “chill November’s surly blast,” and in Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s alter ego, Jo March, considers November the worst month of the year: “That’s the reason I was born in it.”

But readers rejoice that both Jo and Louisa made their first appearance in November, along with C.S. Lewis, Robert Louis Stevenson, Madeleine L’Engle, Stephen Crane, William Blake and Mark Twain.

My dad also was born this month. Pastor, missionary, tie-hater, woodchopper, even at age 91 — without him, I remind my husband, I wouldn’t be here. Another reason to appreciate November, right?

Hubby pleads the Fifth.

Continuing on.

Cozied up on November evenings, we forget about washing windows or putting away garden hoses and patio furniture. If coulda-shouldas yammer, congratulate yourself that you are not wearing a back brace like the people who did.

November also grants a few weeks to meet pre-holiday weight loss goals. But why let downer diet thoughts bother you? The red top and black pants you’ve worn the past 19 Christmases will suffice.

Speaking of weight, ice cream lovers don’t stand in long lines in November. So what if it’s cold? Be brave. Add hot fudge or caramel to counteract frostbite. An even more appropriate choice: warm peanut butter, as November is National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Month.

It’s also International Drum Month in which we celebrate school bands whose stirring rhythms warm frozen football crowds. Mothers whose toddlers bang toy drums may not cheer much, nor parents whose garages house teen bands. But November 19, Have a Bad Day Day, serves these moms and dads well.

All that daylight we saved since March is nowhere to be found. But November, National Sleep Comfort Month, confirms that snuggling in bed an extra hour only makes sense.

Jogging in the dark doesn’t.

Nor does yard work — especially with the blessing of an early snow. If we’re lucky, frozen ground won’t permit our planting 900 bulbs bought while under the influence of Lowe’s commercials.

Then we can watch football, “Face the Nation” or “Punkin Chunkin,” depending on whether we want to cheer the demise of quarterbacks, politicians, or vegetables. We’ll welcome Thanksgiving with true gratitude that we remain safe in our recliners.

Yay, November!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite/least favorite thing about November?

The Slippers of My Dreams

I don’t mind falling temperatures this time of year, but my crampy toes beg to differ.

“We’re freezing down here. Lose the sandals!” they whine. “Time for fuzzy-wuzzy slippers!”

This wasn’t always the case. My warm-blooded siblings and I zipped around the house in our bare feet summer and winter, donning shoes and socks only when our shivering mother, using typical Mom logic, complained, “You’re making me cold!”

Slippers? Too spendy for a big family with a small income.

I read in a storybook that ragged Cinderella gained a prince, a kingdom and a pretty ball gown, all because her slippers fit. But my chances to share her magic looked grim, even if a fairy godmother showed up at our door bearing a free pair in my size. My mother would never allow me to run around in glass slippers. At that point, she wouldn’t even permit me to dry glass dishes.

The fuzzy slippers my friends received for Christmas from grandmas and grandpas caught my attention: brown puppies for boys and pink kitties for girls. An elite few boasted cowboy or cowgirl slippers, just like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

By the time I grew old enough to make my dreams come true using hard-earned babysitting cash, I craved white go-go boots instead. Fuzzy pink kitty slippers no longer appeared on my gotta-have list.

College dorm-mates, however, made poufy slippers a priority — although they favored Disney characters and yellow smiley faces. Serious-minded and penny-pinching, I found their frivolous fetish difficult to understand. During those early feminist days, we eschewed evil pink aprons, hair spray and anything else that threatened our position as free, mature women. We had declared war on any and all fluffy mindsets. So why didn’t my ideological sisters reject the corresponding footwear?

I refused to bow to such mindless leanings. Besides, I couldn’t find Minnie Mouse slippers in size 10.

A few years later, my new husband and I made many marital adjustments. However, we discovered common ground in dealing with crucial slipper issues. I grabbed 80-percent markdowns. He continued to wear the leather moccasins his grandparents gave him during high school. (I finally sneaked them out of the house and burned them.)

But slipper dreams refused to die. Spurred on by my childhood cravings, I bought colorful Strawberry Shortcake and Ninja Turtles slippers that matched our children’s PJs. They preferred plastic rain boots.

Fast-forward a few decades. When my roommate at a writers’ retreat organized a Goofy Slippers Day, my heart and toes warmed to the idea. But I owned only sensible cheapos and nice argyles my daughter knitted for me — nothing of sufficient bad taste. I perused secondhand and discount stores. Where would I find the slippers of my dreams — in my size?

I had almost had given up hope when, at the last store on my list, I encountered plastic ooh-la-la eyes and a smirky, whiskered grin. I pulled huge, fluffy pink kitty slippers from the pile. A perfect size 11 (my feet — like other parts of my anatomy — have spread).

It was a sign from God.

I named the right slipper Zsa Zsa and the left Eva. They made a hit at my writing get-together. Not so with Hubby, who rated them only slightly above an ancient, ratty housecoat that still gives him nightmares.

But my warm, grateful toes adored Zsa Zsa and Eva. So did my grandkids, until they (the slippers, not the children) fell apart.

If Cinderella had offered me her glass slippers in exchange, she would have been out of luck.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you own a favorite pair of slippers?

How Do You Like Them Apples?

“A is for apple.”

Today, little Apple lovers might expect a Macintosh laptop on an alphabet book’s first page. In 1959, however, technology never entered my mind. Instead, I eyed the luscious red fruit on my teacher’s desk. I focused on bites, not bytes.

I savored the school lunch’s apple crisp — until Joey Bump told me the topping consisted of fried ants.

Smart guy. He doubled his apple crisp intake.

Ants notwithstanding, I come from a long line of apple lovers. Every autumn Dad bought bushels of fragrant fruit at a nearby orchard. He peeled an apple with a surgeon’s precision, dangling the single long red curl, then sliced it into white circles whose dark seeds God had arranged in a flower pattern. A boy during the Depression, Dad scoured the woods for fruit — for anything — to nourish his scrawny frame. Forever, he would regard apples as a cause for celebration.

Whenever we visited my Louisiana grandparents, Dad bought Grandma bags of apples, fruit too expensive to frequent their black-eyed peas/turnip greens/corn bread diet. My four siblings and I waited for Grandma to share.

The apples vanished within seconds, never to reappear — while we were there, anyway.

Dad often surprised Grandma, driving all night from Indiana to visit. Once, he brought four-year-old Kenny, whom Grandma hadn’t seen for a year. Kenny and Dad dozed in his truck until they smelled bacon’s tantalizing fragrance. Dad’s resolve wavered. Did he dare rile his mother and risk losing a free breakfast?

Dad debated only a moment. Handing Kenny a bag of apples, he pulled my brother’s cap over his eyes and sent him to Grandma’s door. Hunkering down in the truck, Dad watched apple drama unfold.

At Kenny’s knock, Grandma appeared. “Child, what are you doing here at this hour?” She showed no sign of recognizing Kenny. “Where’s your mama? Your daddy?” She cast a wrathful eye at the truck.

When Kenny offered her the apples for a quarter, Grandma suffered pangs of conscience. How could she take advantage of this baby-child?

But the bargain apples proved too much.

Grandma retrieved a quarter from her old money sock.

As she handed it to Kenny, he tilted his head back. “Hi, Grandma!”

Dad strode to the porch, wearing a huge grin.

Grandma laughed and cried. When her voice returned, she said her 35-year-old son needed a good licking. How could such a bad apple turn out to be the only preacher in the family?

Grandma hugged Kenny, then welcomed him and his prodigal daddy, stuffing them with eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy.

But no apples. The bag already had found a new home — under her featherbed.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite apple dessert?