Friday, January 17, 2020

Winter Break(down - almost)

The past couple of weeks hub and I lodged in the sunshine state, far from the dusting of snow that briefly covered my hometown. Also far from the balmy 60s experienced at home last week. We enjoyed 70s weather in Florida, inching up into the 80s and touching 90 (on our car thermometer; don’t know official readings), and becoming progressively more humid and muggier. 

Our arrival was not mentioned in any media, social or otherwise, unlike other folks - one individual in particular now temporarily residing in Washington, D.C. who visits the area periodically. 

We were made aware of the presence of individuals more famous than hub and I at the airport. Our Spirit plane (which never transports the famous, infamous, wealthy or well-to-do) arrived on time. We disembarked, made our way to baggage claim and waited for the appearance of our one bag on the luggage carousel.

We waited...and waited...and waited. We fidgeted, read emails, visited the restroom, and started to get a wee bit agitated, finally inquiring at the customer service desk what the delay might be.

“Oh,” the lady told us, “the airport tarmac is on a freeze. No one is allowed outside until the President leaves. Employees are not allowed to unload the luggage.”

“When will we get our bags?”

“We don’t know.”

Meanwhile the family member (unluckily) chosen to pick us up was impatiently waiting in the airport cell phone lot. 

But there is a bright side to this dismal waiting stint. 

The Palm Beach Airport cell phone waiting lot is not your ordinary airport cell phone parking lot. The new PBIA Travel Plaza has rest rooms, water fountains, and – most impressive of all – a Dunkin’ Donuts and 7-Eleven. Who wouldn’t want to spend an hour or more of your day hanging out in such swanky surroundings?

Not, apparently, my daughter-in-law.

We gave up waiting, summoned our ride (who was anxious to get home for dinner) and left the airport. We returned the following day to retrieve our bag. 

Our Florida vacay had just begun...

We spent two weeks sitting in traffic and waiting at lights. Florida must have the longest lights in the history of traffic lights. Cars turn in all directions across multi-lane roads, and make U-turns. Disgruntled drivers honk horns for no reason except out of frustration. Cars zoom in front of you and cut you off. On the other hand large cars and trucks drive directly in front of your car so you have no idea what is happening ahead of that vehicle – is the light red or green or yellow? Construction logjam? Pedestrians attempting the almost impossible – crossing the street? 

It is a miracle the three of us – hub, me, and the car - survived.

I guess locals get used to the craziness.

One additional note to folks back home...Mid-Atlantic natives will be thrilled to know that Wawa has invaded the state and taken possession of many busy intersections, adding to traffic congestion...

The good news? Wine and beer for sale at Wawa!

We leave tomorrow.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Is Adult Conversation Possible?

As Program Coordinator (a volunteer position, no compensation provided) for a non-profit offering interesting/educational/entertaining programs for seniors, I am always searching for new ideas.

A program came across my computer (as opposed to my desk, which was how I found out about things ages ago) called Socrates CafĂ©. Folks get together and talk in a civil, controlled, mature manner on a specific topic. Matters of discussion may be philosophical, societal, political...anything.

Participants do NOT debate. There are no winners or losers. I think the most important qualification for members is an open mind. 
True wisdom comes to each of us when
we realize how little we understand
about life, ourselves,
and the world around us. - Socrates

According to the Socrates Cafe website:

We don’t argue, we don’t debate, we don’t seek to persuade others...we explore, interrogate, investigate — and seek to persuade ourselves (that’s right, we focus on supporting our views via ‘self-persuasion,’ rather than patronizing proselytizing and sermonizing)...we become more connected to others — including if not especially those who look at the world quite differently than we do...

No one in my organization was familiar with the program, so attending a meeting was imperative before establishing our own. The Socrates Cafe website lists participating groups. I discovered a gathering a convenient drive away, held weekly at a local library. According to the website, most groups meet monthly. 

Ideally the group is diverse, but depending on the locale it doesn’t always work that way. I walked into a very homogenous group – white men and women of a certain age (a.k.a. senior citizens). The group met in the afternoon, so diversity age-wise can be difficult. I did not take a poll of participants’ ethnic and cultural heritage, economic circumstances and religious background. Not all were American-born – accents implied immigrants. Guesses could be made based on individuals’ comments, but that is unscientific and easily misleading.

The moderator e-mails participants a few days before each meeting with the topic to be discussed. Individuals research the subject, and many spoke from notes. 

The discussion did not produce the animosity and impassioned dialogue that current political conversation triggers. No one spoke ‘out of turn’. It was an adult, informed and informative 1½ hour exchange. The moderator kept folks focused, on topic, and within time constraints. Some speakers were interesting and engaging, others not so much. But that is strictly my opinion. 

It is heartening to realize that a group of people with varying viewpoints can gather and discuss a topic without name-calling, vitriol, door slamming or any other display of frustration and anger. But a successful group must include people with a high level of self-control and respect for others and their opinions, however mistaken one might believe those ideas and views may be.

It will take much guidance to instill in my constituency program guidelines - to restrain from emotional outbursts, to listen without interrupting, to not make faces or gestures, to act like a mature adult. I know my population –  they are impassioned, informed but often very opinionated and unwilling to listen to opposing points of view, while on the other hand quick to voice opinions on subjects they know nothing about, and they love to talk, and talk, and talk... 

It will be a daunting task.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Mom at 95

Mom at 95 at her party
 Mom turned 95 on January 2nd. Family members celebrated with 25 of her friends at a luncheon.  

The date, Thursday, January 2nd, time and place chosen, the guests invited via phone and email, and RSVPs received. On Monday, three days before the event, Mom gets a phone call. Her friend Hilda, homebound, could not attend the luncheon. She wanted to send flowers and contacted the restaurant. An employee answered the phone and told her the restaurant closed.



Hilda immediately phoned Mom, and Mom called the restaurant. Hilda must  have misunderstood. Maybe they were closed that particular day.

But there was no confusion. Sunday evening the staff had been told the business was closing. Immediately. On Monday employees were removing furniture and closing up.

After a moment of panic, Mom set about locating another venue. She let her fingers do the walking, and quickly found an Italian restaurant overlooking the water on Long Island’s south shore willing to hold the luncheon. Guests were notified. 

Everyone showed up at the right place at the right time!

Celebrating with flowers, wine,
and champagne
Friends, family, a surprise guest, excellent food, a little entertainment, socializing consumed the afternoon.

A perfect event for Mom’s mid-nonagenarian birthday.

A slice of Mom’s life, a.k.a. Elyss, a.k.a. Grandma, a.k.a. Great-Grandma...

Mom lives independently in a seniors-only apartment house. She drives, shops, and is involved in a variety of activities – volunteer organizations, book club, bridge, lunch and dinner engagements, movies and concerts...the list goes on.

A child of the Depression, Mom’s upbringing shaped certain practices. Our refrigerator was full of leftovers wrapped in wads of aluminum foil. For decades she only shopped sales, the idea of paying full retail price unthinkable. Her box of alphabetically arranged coupons, updated regularly, still sits on the back seat of her car. Sharing – especially restaurant meals – is highly desirable if not required, and slipping extra packets of Sweet and Low in her pocketbook part of the joy of eating out.

I remember our family’s first camping trip. A thunderstorm drenched the campground and everything in it, including us. Mom declared once was enough, and that first camping trip was our family’s last camping trip. 

Mom returned to school in the ‘60s. I remember her and Dad in the basement on a Saturday morning, she dictating and Dad typing a paper due later that morning. She earned a degree in Library Science, and worked for years as an elementary school librarian. 

Although not on the cutting edge of fashion, Mom was the first female teacher in her school to wear pants, a liberating experience quickly followed by other women on the staff. She was also on the cutting edge technologically, introducing computers to her school library.

Once my sister Janice and I graduated college, Mom and Dad traveled. When Mom broke her foot, she did not cancel a planned trip to England. The only place her broken limb deterred her sightseeing was at the Tower of London. 

Mom and Dad enjoyed the grandkids, taking them every summer for a week or two of non-stop fun at home, and on excursions around the country and overseas. Her oldest grandchild, Matt, a growing, hungry teenager at the time, still laments the fact that he was not allowed to eat until dinner during their trip to London and Paris. (He slept through breakfast and there was no break in sightseeing until dinner.)

One of the most memorable trips was a family cruise around the Hawaiian islands to celebrate Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary. Every time they announced, “Who is celebrating a special occasion?” we all raised our hands and shouted “we are...we are!”. Unfortunately Mom and Dad remained at home, Dad’s gall bladder preventing him from travelling. But the rest of the family had a great trip and still talk about it.

Another notable trip occurred a few years ago. Mom was only 86 at the time and traveling to meet her newest great-granddaughter in Colorado. She arrived at JFK early for her 8:00 PM flight and settled at the departure gate – or so she thought. She missed the announcement about a change of gate. 

Mom’s plane left without her. 

That was the last plane to Denver that night. The next flight left the following morning, and she would have to be at the airport 5:00 AM for check-in. Rather than drive home or get a hotel room, Mom stayed in the airport terminal the entire night. She finally arrived in Denver, 13 hours late, exhausted but happy the trip was over. But of course, the weekend had just begun...

Nine years ago Mom sold her home, purchased in 1952, and moved into her current apartment. I helped Mom clean out the house and pack. We filled an entire dumpster. We loaded the car and made several trips to Goodwill. Before my sister arrived to take over, I called her and said, “Janice, we spent a week cleaning the house and filling a dumpster. When you enter the house you are going to think, “What the hell did they do?”” - Our family are not hoarders, but definitely pack rats. 

My sister and I urged Mom to move near one of us, but she wanted to stay close to her friends and activities. When planning a visit, we must first call Mom and see if she can clear her calendar long enough to see us. 

Mom, we love you.

Happy 95th birthday!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

My 2019 Year Rehashed

The year began with a New Year’s celebration in a warm climate, far south of my hometown, compelled to don attire that does nothing to disguise my round figure. I spent the entire first month of 2019 idling in sunny balminess, although the month was not totally devoid of toil. I worked at avoiding the news throughout the year, aiming to be uninformed, ignorant, and unaware of goings on inside the Beltway. Never checked tweets for Presidential platitudes. My way of preserving mental health.

February I ventured further south and sailed around the tip of South America before returning home in time to experience a few days of winter, observe signs of spring, and visit all the doctors who missed me while I was away. Too busy traveling and lounging in doctors’ suites to pay attention to the latest news, I did not care where Amazon decided to build its megacorporate center or when Britain will Brexit or who won Academy Awards. I watched only a couple of nominated movies. My pop culture IQ has sunk to the low double digits. 

With a hint of spring in the air at home, I headed up north where spring doesn’t arrive until summer, to visit family. Rummaging through the closet for my warmest clothes, I loaded up with layers and walked around like a zombie, unable to move limbs weighted down by Arctic apparel.  

I was a bouncing ball this year, home for a while, then on the road, home again and soon off once more. In April hub and I drove the dreaded Interstate 95 to Boston, the New York to Boston route one of the worst in the country. Too much traffic and too many trucks. But we saw our son run in the Boston marathon and took a quick trip to Martha’s Vineyard before seasonal crowds descended and prices skyrocketed. 

Returned home for a short time, then took off on a Spirit Air flight to witness grandkids’ activities. Southward ho!

The weather warmed and the month of May meant really, really cheap flights to Florida – twice - for family events.

June arrived and the state of Maine called. Boarding a Windjammer for a six-day cruise island hopping across Maine waters, hub and I shared the tightest quarters in the history of tourism. And shared toilets. Shared by lots of people...We connected with our grandkids in Boston and Cape Cod. And while on the subject of travel, I noticed the President visited the next tourist hotspot - North Korea. I think he negotiated a hotel deal, but that is officially top secret.

I observed another birthday. The following day I carefully examined my hair, face and figure. No changes from the day before. What a relief! 

July brought family knocking on our door at the shore. I spent lots of time on the sand, in the sea, and at our favorite ice cream and bagel shops. Meanwhile in the wider world a slew of politicians and wealthy men declared their desire to be the next President. The debates proved music to fall asleep by, and by the end of the month hub and I needed a break. Thought about exploring Greenland, possibly the 51st state, but instead flew off to Scotland.

August ushered in much needed quiet time. Never made it to Popeye’s for one of their best-selling chicken sandwiches. 

Suddenly September. I briefly considered a visit to Ukraine. The country dominated the news and I felt a kinship for the far, far away land that relatives bolted over a century ago. Opted for another trip to Florida. And Vermont. Family beckoned!

I stayed home October and November. Prepared a Thanksgiving feast for a select group of eight family members. Served peach pie in a nod to current events. My taste buds thanked me for the holiday repast but my waistline did not.

Cold weather swooped in, days grew shorter and skies grayer. Catalogs clogged my snail mailbox, ads jammed my email box, and product commercials temporarily replaced drug ads on TV. I spent the last month of the year viewing vapid Hallmark Christmas movies, all three seasons of the Crown and season three of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, dozing through The Irishman, occasionally exercising, NOT shopping, languishing in true couch potato fashion, and eating – especially eating.

Whew. I’m exhausted. Time for a long winter’s slumber.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Winter Festivities Foreshadow the Season Ahead

The winter solstice arrived December 21st, a non-event for most people, briefly mentioned but probably not noticed or cited at all. Most of us no longer live in agricultural communities and the change of seasons does not significantly affect our lifestyle. Outdoor exercise routines may have to be adjusted. Some folks, teachers for instance, mark the days until summer. 
A seasonal outdoor activity in Cape May, NJ.
 For most people living in the Northern Hemisphere the winter solstice is one more gray day in a string of overcast days. I do not look forward to more of the same – cloudy, cold, not always dry days. But the winter solstice does portend hope that change eventually occurs. For the better. More hours of daylight, the sun’s warmth replacing chilly shade, teasing us, promising brighter days. 

Alas, the worst of winter is yet to be experienced. But first there are holidays to celebrate, a tradition reaching back ages, a ploy to turn the reality of long, cold winter days ahead at bay a little longer. Homes and buildings glisten with holiday lights, businesses bustle as folks shop, eat, and socialize before a modern form of winter hibernation sets in. The somber quietude of January has almost arrived, so enjoy a few days of festivity first!

In honor of the holiday season and hub’s birthday, and thanks to a birthday gift card, we patronized a restaurant in Cape May, New Jersey, a resort town that has discovered how to celebrate the holidays in style. The restaurant was packed with groups enjoying each other's company and the festive occasion. Blocks of Victorian homes, many B&Bs, decked out in lights and decorations inside and out, captivate visitors. Holiday-themed events are scheduled throughout the month of December.

The festive lights will be turned off after the first of the New Year, the decorations carefully packed away until next year. Many businesses and restaurants will close their doors so the staff can take vacation and prepare for the next tourist season. Locals may temporarily take off for places offering warmer waters and sunny days. Including hub and me...

Saturday, December 14, 2019

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for...Asian desserts?!

I consider myself fairly open to unfamiliar foods and enjoy trying new dishes. This week my kids introduced me to Asian sort-of-like-ice-cream-but-not-really desserts. We visited an establishment called Kasai and Koori, and I indulged.

Kasai and Koori is not the name of the store’s owners. The stores (currently four in south Florida)  are owned by two American guys who, while traveling the globe, discovered these culinary delights and decided to offer the frozen dishes to a new audience. Kasai and Koori are Japanese words for fire and ice, representing two opposing forces that come together for a unique experience.

Asian dessert places are a new ‘thing’. Trendy. Popular. Google Asian dessert locations and up pops: 10 Best Asian Dessert Places in...Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, Austin...and the list goes on. Not being in the loop on trendy stuff, I was unaware of Asian treats of any kind. Except lychees, a dessert served at Chinese restaurants for as long as I can remember.

But dessert offerings have gone upscale (translation: not cheap), trendy (the stores are packed), varied (selections overwhelming), and multinational.

An introduction to some of the eye-appealing and apparently low-cal 
offerings found at Kasai and Koori
and other Asian dessert bars colonizing the country:

Kakigori, originally a specialty reserved for royalty but now available to all commoners with a few discretionary bucks to spend, are shaved ice creations. Available in various flavors, at Kasai and Koori they have exotic names like Tropical Fuji, The Sleeping Dragon, and Up All Night (coffee-flavored. Love that caffeine!). 

Taiyaki are fish-shaped waffle cones (they taste like waffles and not ice cream cones) with a frozen cream filling. Choices include Shake Senora, Summer of 69, and Tree Hugger. The treats are composed of a flavored cream, two or more toppings, and a drizzle, such as chocolate sauce, coconut, or Nutella.

Hot Taiyaki are a popular street food in Korea and Japan. A waffle cone is stuffed with a sweet or savory filling, such as: chocolate and cherry, Nutella, or a dark chocolate, banana and coconut combo.

Mochi are (usually) round, hand held Japanese delights. Traditionally made with glutinous rice, nowadays prepared with rice flour, a hard shell encases a cream concoction. Available in various colors, typically pastel shades, they are sold at Trader Joe’s and Costco. However I have not scouted out the items in either store. 

Hub and I shared one dish. Two sizes are offered: large and humongous (my terms). The store calls the two sizes regular and sumo. The cost will dent your pocketbook: 7.88 and 12.88 (the number 88 symbolizes fortune and good luck in Chinese culture) for the Kakigori we shared. The large/regular was more than adequate for the two of us.

I enjoyed my Up All Night Kakigori - flavorful, light, interesting - but doubt I will become a dedicated fan. I still prefer my decadent dish of Ben and Jerry’s. 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Boomers Reminisce Holiday Festivities and Preparations

This week I was flying high, not a drug-induced kind of high, the soaring-in-the-sky kind. In a Spirit Air jet. A short ride, comparatively speaking, 2½ hours from the wind-swept cold of the Northeast to the balmy sun-drenched state of Florida. For a few days I am enjoying the company of my grandkids. I have sat for hours in stiff steel bleachers waiting for my granddaughters’ teams to compete in cheerleading. We got manicures and pedicures. Sampled Asian ice cream – a shaved ice concoction, actually. Baked cookies, strolled a craft fair, and witnessed the usual family feuds (of which I did not participate).  

Meanwhile my boomer buddies have spent time this week in end-of-year reflection and holiday preparations.

Carol Cassara ruminates about...stuff. Can you really manifest a Rolex, a Mercedes and great wealth by simply envisioning them? Over at A Healing Spirit, Carol Cassara addresses her issue with so-called "manifestation" gurus in Why Stuff Doesn't Make You Happy & What to Do about It

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer and personal finance journalist, urges consumers to use caution when signing up for “free trial offers.” Companies, using the fine print, may begin charging you for the items after the free trial period is over, even though you haven’t given permission.

Laurie Stone of Musings, Rants & Scribbles is haunted by Christmas trees past. She catches glimpses of large Christmas firs in other people’s living rooms, aglow with lights and shiny ornaments. She pictures wreaths and bows and poinsettas and gives a sigh. That’s what her living room used to look like. But time moved on and her family has gone through three distinct Christmas phases…

Concerning our health and well-being...

During the past 11 months, Jennifer of Unfold And Begin had a monthly post about Cheryl Richardson's book The Art of Extreme Self-Care.  There was a lot to learn, but during a crisis, it's easy to forget what we've learned.  That why it all wraps up in December with this look at How to Make Your Own Extreme Self-Care Tool Kit.  

Tom at Sightings Over Sixty considers the factors that go into our health ... and how long we will live. Some of them are drawn at the lottery of birth -- how healthy our parents were, how long they lived. But in Can We Live Forever? he also finds that there is a lot we can do to help ourselves live longer and feel better, no matter who our parents were -- or however much we may have mistreated ourselves in our younger years.   

Regarding another celebration – birthdays!
Rebecca Olkowski with will be 66 this month and has been thinking about what makes someone young and someone old as a state of mind. How old do you feel in your mind as opposed to your actual age? 

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Small Business Saturday and more

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Museum Store Sunday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday - are we Americans crazy or what?

Disclosure – this year I am not participating in any of the madness, and since the turn of the 21st century have not actively and definitely not enthusiastically participated in America’s holiday spending rage. 
It begins sometime in October with TV commercials, snail mail catalogs, e-mails inundating my inbox, and escalates until the BIG DAY - Black Friday! - an occasion I like to avoid. Tussling with crowds and long lines is not my idea of a good time. And although the rest of the world does not celebrate Thanksgiving, Black Friday is making its way around the world.

I like the idea of Small Business Saturday, but do not need to devote one particular day a year to patronizing my local merchants. I am a year-round fan of shopping local. But the concept is a great promotional gimmick, introduced by the marketing gurus at American Express in 2010. The idea caught on...and the rest, as they say, is history.  

Museum Store Sunday is a newer phenomenon. 2019 is the third year for the event. Over 2,100 museum stores throughout all 50 states, Washington D.C., and several foreign countries will participate. 

The long holiday weekend ends, but the shopping spree continues. Cyber Monday began as an unofficial, convenient way to buy online. Back in the day before high speed internet was common in homes, people marched into the office Monday morning, fired up their computers and...went shopping. Professionals noted the peak in e-commerce and decided to encourage the habit. The term ‘Cyber Monday’ was first coined in a 2005 press release by the National Retail Federation. 

Giving Tuesday, subtitled ‘a global generosity movement,’ initiated in 2012, presents a simple concept: encourage folks to do good. It does not necessarily mean opening your wallet – again. You can give dough, but Giving Tuesday is all about giving in other ways - donating goods, giving your time to a favorite nonprofit, or raising your voice – metaphorically speaking – to support a cause you believe in.

It’s the holiday season. Shop if you want, but take time to do the fun stuff, whatever that may be for you, whether baking cookies or brownies or just indulging, spending time with family and friends, traveling, binge-watching Hallmark Christmas movies, eating and eating and eating...enjoy!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Thanksgiving Trivia

Planning dishes and activities my fellow diners will enjoy Thanksgiving day, my mind drifts to thoughts of holidays past...

The first Thanksgiving repast took place in 1621, but the celebration did not become an annual event. 168 years later George Washington declared November 26, 1789, a day of thanksgiving hailing the adoption of the Constitution, also a one-time occasion. 

President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an annual happening. In a bid to unite the nation during the Civil War, he proclaimed a national holiday on the last Thursday of November, a “day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” 

The United States is not the only country with a thanksgiving holiday. Canada and Germany celebrate in October. The Japanese holiday began as a harvest celebration, but today Labor Thanksgiving Day honors labor, production, and thankfulness. The Netherlands observes a Thanksgiving Day in honor of the Pilgrims that lived in the country before venturing to the New World.

The Netherlands?

A bit of history...100 Pilgrims left England in 1609 seeking religious freedom and settled in Holland (the Netherlands by another name). Holland welcomed them, and the Pilgrims began integrating into Dutch society.


The group’s religious leaders believed smooth integration into Dutch society a threat to their Church. William Bradford, who became governor of the New World colony, wrote that the Pilgrims were being, “drawn away by evil examples into extravagance and dangerous courses.” Not a good thing. So the religious leaders gathered their flock and sailed to a place where church believers would not be lured by the temptations of 17th century European life. 

The New World. 

The Pilgrims arrived in the New World 400 years ago next year (2020), and celebrations are planned to commemorate the event. Check out the festivities here

Moving ahead a few centuries...

Parades are one of the most revered Thanksgiving traditions today. Philadelphia held the first parade in 1920. Originally the Gimbels Parade – Gimbels a major department store – it is now known as the 6abc Dunkin Donuts Parade, co-sponsored by a TV station and a restaurant chain. What a great combination! Gather the crowd, send one person to the local Dunkin for a large box of munchies, turn on the tube, settle in and enjoy hours of couch potato-ing before dinner!

Probably the most famous parade is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The first parade

Balloons are an important part of the parades.
The first balloon appeared in the
Macy's parade in 1926 - Felix the Cat. 
marched down New York City streets Christmas, 1924. Over 250,000 people witnessed the spectacle. It was such a success the parade became a yearly event, rescheduled for Thanksgiving to usher in the holiday buying season (and welcome Santa Claus).

Plymouth, Massachusetts holds America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade, highlighted by a military flyover, floats and costumed folks representing residents from the 17th century to the present.

Other Thanksgiving Day traditions...

Many towns sponsor races – walking, running, one mile or longer, known as Turkey Trots. The first Turkey Trot occurred in Buffalo, New York, in 1896, and takes place every year. About 13,000 participate in the 4.97-mile race.

Let’s not forget Black Friday. The origin of the term? Philadelphia police officers referred to the day as Black Friday because of the heavy traffic and tendency for more accidents. The common belief is that the expression refers to the date retailers’ profits swing from the red to black.

Then there is Buy Nothing Day, originally celebrated in 1992. It is an international sort-of holiday, celebrated outside the U.S. on the Saturday after our Thanksgiving.

And let’s not forget football (much as I would like to). We can thank the first Detroit Lions owner, G. A. Richards, for Thanksgiving and football becoming synonymous. The first Thanksgiving game was broadcast in 1934. It was a hit, and the rest, as they say (unfortunately), is history. 

If not interested in watching football, there is the National Dog Show, televised following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Families have their own holiday traditions. Our family enjoyed experienced a tradition my sons are thrilled not to continue:

The Gathering of the Leaves 

Our house had a lot of trees. Mature trees with lots of leaves, the kind that sail to earth in the autumn. We never invested in a leaf blower. Why waste the money when we had two able-bodied boys to do the work?...There were times hub shined the car lights on the lawn so the work could get done. As the boys got older they were thrilled to go back to college – early if necessary – to avoid the dreaded chore. But fresh air, exercise, family time together – what could be better?

A lot, apparently.

We now live in a house with two trees. The largest is an evergreen that does not shed. The boys and their families, with kids old enough to join in the family tradition, do not descend on our house for the holiday. If we join them at their humble abodes, hub and I, as members of the older generation, are exempt from the tradition (says me).We are relegated – happily! – to watching the work from inside a warm house, wrapped in a blanket, rocking away, sipping a cup of hot coffee or spiked cider or eggnog...       

Happy Thanksgiving 
Enjoy your favorite holiday activities, 
especially blissful binging!

One of the best Thanksgiving TV pieces is the WKRP Turkey Drop
Many readers probably remember the show.
Here is the segment for your viewing enjoyment. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Thrift Shop Shopping

I didn’t realize charity thrift shops have gone upscale until I dropped off several bags of my stuff. I guess I can’t blame them. 

First, the staff is composed of all volunteers. Every item in each bag must be carefully scrutinized, and that takes time. People time. 

Second, apparently today no one wants clothes that are torn, stained, and dreadfully discolored, nor are folks eager to buy chipped, broken and/or unworkable goods. 

Third, the store has limited space. Items less than in almost-pristine condition do not sell quickly, if at all. The charity makes more money with top-notch items. And the word gets around. Folks tell others about a shop selling high-quality, or at least UNdamaged, merchandise. Store traffic rises, sales increase, and the charity makes more money.

Rewind a few years and many things not accepted in thrift shops today were gladly accepted – and eventually sold. Old clothes were purchased and reworked for quilt material, nursery school craft projects and costume boxes, and other reusables. Maybe people are not as creative nowadays. Maybe they don’t have as much time for do-it-yourself projects.

The embarrassing thing about all this is that a day or two or three before my discarded items landed in a give-away bag, they were in my house. Used. Worn. One day I toss them in a bag and drive to the thrift shop. The volunteer behind the counter says, “We have to go through the bags. Anything we don’t want you have to take back.” So I unpack the bags and one by one the volunteer examines them, then throws each piece on one of two piles – the accepted stack, or the reject pile. Luckily few items are excluded – sometimes none. I’ve learned. I now toss items I assume will be rejected into the garbage, eliminating the middleman. 

I am well acquainted with thrift shops and consignment stores. When I worked at a women’s center helping people re-enter the work force, an enjoyable activity was shopping at a consignment shop for interview outfits and staging a fashion show. 

One year my niece and I bought a variety of items at a thrift shop which we threw together for Halloween costumes.

When I pass a consignment store when visiting cities and walking neighborhoods, I cannot resist stopping in. Frequently I end up purchasing something, most often an article of clothing.  Hub and I were out of town years ago and packed an inappropriate wardrobe – spring clothes when a cold streak blasted through town. Within walking distance of our motel was a Goodwill store. We purchased sweaters.

I have bought toys and games for the grandkids at our local thrift shop and at garage sales.

And – who knew – thrift shop shopping is now IN – a trendy thing. While writing this post I came across the following article entitled Regifting Is No Longer A Sin In Red Hot Resale Market

I am being environmentally friendly by recycling possessions I no longer need and I am being green by purchasing and reusing previously owned items...thrift shops, garage sales, consignment stores rock!