Sally in The MIX

Monday, February 20, 2017

Reflections on Advancing Age

At a meeting this week, several friends and I complained about the troubles of aging.

One of my friends even asked how old I was. I told her (but that number won’t be mentioned here). She told me her age and the one thing I have to celebrate is that she is five years older than me.

Since I didn’t have a good comeback at the time, I went looking for some on the internet, and found the following.

-“Every man desires to live long, but no man desires to be old.” Jonathan Swift

-“Old age is always fifteen years older than I am.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

-“Men do not quit playing because they grow old — they grow old because they quit playing.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

-“Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young.” Theodore Roosevelt

-“Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.” Larry Lorenzoni

-“There is still no cure for the common birthday.” John Glenn

-“If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” Anonymous

-“Age is a high price to pay for maturity.” Tom Stoppard

-“Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.” Truman Capote

-“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” Mark Twain

-“Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician.” Anonymous

-“I complain that the years fly past, but then I look in a mirror and see that very few of them actually got past.” Robert Brault

-“Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.” Tom Wilson

-“No man is ever old enough to know better.” Holbrook Jackson

-“I am old enough to see how little I have done in so much time, and how much I have to do in so little.” Sheila Kaye-Smith

-“An archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have: the older she gets, the more interested he is in her.” Agatha Christie

-“Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone.” Jim Fiebig

-“Everything slows down with age, except the time it takes cake and ice cream to reach your hips.” John Wagner

-“Don't let aging get you down. It's too hard to get back up.” John Wagner

-“I don't do alcohol anymore - I get the same effect just standing up fast.” Anonymous

-“First you forget names, then you forget faces, then you forget to pull your zipper up, then you forget to pull your zipper down.” Leo Rosenberg

-“As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can't remember the other two.” Sir Norman Wisdom

-“Old age isn't so bad when you consider the alternative.” Maurice Chevalier

-“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” Anonymous

-“The idea is to die young as late as possible.” Ashley Montagu

And with those final, somber reflections by those all smarter than me, I close up my computer. Happy old age everyone.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Keep Calm. Winter Will End.

We will now do the Dance of Joy. January is OVER. Yippee!

Obviously I am not a winter person. I do not ski. I do not skate. Might go down a hill once on a sled, then I will go in the house and make hot chocolate for everyone.

I don’t like winter. I don’t like excessive cold, especially when my water pipes freeze. This winter my water pipes have been heated better than I have. We have survived so far.

A little bit of cold is OK. You need a little bit of cold for the garden. It helps gardens.

Speaking of gardens, I, the black-thumb gardener, am like every other gardener around. My new seed catalogs have arrived. I have shopped all of them, and ordered. I pile the catalogs up next to my easy chair. I might need to order something else. The pages of my seed catalogs are worn, and folded, and marked, and some are torn out for further reference.

On the internet I subscribe to all the seed companies. I get daily updates on my email. I read them all carefully. There might be a good deal in there.

On Saturday after I fed the birds, I sat and watched for a while, enjoying their raucous behavior and the sun. The sun felt good, but I will not brag on our fair winter weather so far. I might jinx it. I did wish I could plant something, then had to bite that black thumb. ‘It’s the first of February,’ I reminded myself. ‘Maybe we can think PLANT SOMETHING by mid March. Maybe. Get a grip.’

Do people who don’t garden realize how hard it is for those who do garden to NOT garden? I considered planting a peach or apple tree. I considered just turning over the soil shovel-full by shovel-full. Maybe a little bit of lettuce or a radish or two could pop up before another hard freeze. I ended up picking up trash the wind had blown in or the dog had dragged in.

And I watched my birds. Even though they are wild birds, after you feed them for years, they become your birds.

OK. I don’t mind a little winter. In fact a little winter at Christmas is nearly a necessity. If winter must continue through January, then I suggest some sort of festival in January. It could be a ‘Let’s Have Heat Festival.’ That would at least make January seem shorter, not the 31 long days it is already.

I like February. It is short. Darling Daughter’s birthday is in February, so that helps a lot. March is OK too because that is when Spring arrives, and Handsome Son’s birthday is in March. It is usually warm enough then to cook out. Woohoo!

When is that garden show anyway? Found it. Garden show in Fort Smith is March 17, 18 and 19. I can hardly wait.

But January? January goes on, and on, and on, until I develop Cabin Fever and try to dig the frozen ground up to plant a pansy. Or a bush. Or a tree. Help!

Wait. Wait, I told myself on Saturday. Do not get excited. Spring will come. The ordered seeds will arrive, and you will take the advice delivered by one of you gardening magazines.

That is “Keep Calm and Garden On.”

That does it! I’ve got to order an apple tree!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Super Bowl? Pass the Cheese Dip!

Well, now that my NFL football season is over, what to do next?

None of my favorite teams made it into the Super Bowl over the past championship weekend. Son texted me and asked, “Who is going to win the Super Bowl?”

I texted back, “I don’t care. Oh I’ll watch it, after I make and eat the cheese dip. But I’m only interested in seeing the new commercials. And maybe the half-time show.”

Yep, that means the Cowboys, the Broncos, the Texans, the Chiefs, the Packers are all out! I picked a bunch of teams to support, but wouldn’t you know. None of them made it to the Super Bowl.

So, to celebrate not caring who wins the Super Bowl, I thought we might hear from the losers in past years. At least they make me laugh. Here you go. . .

John McKay is the BEST! 

-“Kickers are like horse manure. They are all over the place.”

-When asked about his teams’ execution, McKay said, “I’m in favor of it.”

-About coaching an expansion team, “You do a lot of praying but most of the time the answer is ‘No.’”

- “Well, we’ve determined that we can’t win at home and we can’t win on the road. What we need is a neutral site.”

-“We didn’t tackle well today but we made up for it by not blocking.”

-“Emotion is highly overrated in football. My wife Corky is emotional as hell but can’t play football worth a damn.”

-"If you have everyone back from a team that lost 10 games, experience isn't too important."

- A genius in the NFL is a guy who won last week."

-"Opening games make me nervous. To tell you the truth, I'd rather open with our second game."

And then there’s former coach John Madden turned sports broadcaster, who I dearly loved to hear call a game. Madden is the funniest. He said. . .

-“I always used to tell my players that we are here to win! And you know what? When you don't win, you lose.”

-“Don’t do anything great if you can’t handle the congratulations.”

-“The fewer rules a coach has, the fewer rules there are for the players to break.”

-“Here’s a guy who can use his arms and legs at the same time.”

-“When your arm gets hit, the ball is not going to go where you want it to.”

-“If you win a Super Bowl before you're fired, you're a genius, and everyone listens to you. But a coach is just a guy whose best class in grammar school was recess and whose best class in high school was P.E. I never thought I was anything but a guy whose best class was P.E.”

-“Here's a guy who when he runs, he moves faster.”

-“Ninety percent of the game is half mental.”

-“The biggest gap in sports? The difference between the winner and the loser of the Super Bowl.”

No, I don’t care who wins the Super Bowl, as long as it’s not the Patriots. Son had pretty much the same opinion. All he texted back was “Hey, I want some cheese dip!”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Challenged by 40 Bags in 40 Days

Darling Daughter and Granddaughter have made a resolution, dang it! I had made a resolution to make no resolutions. But Darling Daughter and Granddaughter are hard to say “No!” to.

Darling Daughter texted one day, “40 Bags in 40 Days!”

“What are you talking about?” I wanted to know.

Darling Daughter explained. The 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge is for hoarders, like she and I. Starting March 1, we have to pick one area in our homes, and declutter it. We have to get rid of one bag a day, for 40 days in a row. The diabolical inventor of this torment said on the internet that it is OK to get rid of two bags in one day, and take one day off.

Oh thanks!

Granddaughter jumped on that text-message bandwagon immediately. I waited a moment. Well, more than a moment. 40 Bags in 40 Days sounds like work to me. Maybe I could wait 40 days?

Here came another text. “Are you in?”

Hum. Does somebody I know and am related to want me to clean up the house and get rid of all that stuff I’ve been hoarding for 10 years, since I moved into my present abode? But I need all that stuff!

You know that old law that as soon as you throw something out, you need it!?! And there is all the stuff I need for my crafting. You know…that big basket of yarn so I can crochet everybody I know (that means everybody in the county) a hat. Or that huge stack of books I intend to read some day. Or all that drawing and painting stuff piled up in the corner because I love to draw and will someday learn how to paint horses. (And never mind that I have not an artist’s drop of blood in me!)

And then there is all that stuff my kids and grandkids have left with me for safe keeping. Son’s drums from high school? How can I get rid of those and never mind that he is now age 50 and said to “Sell those drums!”

Then there is Darling Daughter’s croquet and badminton set left with me for family cookout days. Well, I gotta’ keep that for goodness sakes. I love family cookout days.

And then there are son’s and grandson’s piles of clothing from before they joined the military and couldn’t get into now if they went on a year-long diet. Well, that stuff might go. But these belonged to my babies!

I mentioned this trauma-inducing challenge at a meeting recently and our good friend MaryLynn Lufkin from Catholic Charities Helping Center in Sallisaw tried to help. MaryLynn likes to help everybody.

“Bring it on down,” she said. “We’ll take it!”

Well, I’ve been promising to do that for years but have not been able to de-hoard myself yet. Maybe it’s time. Maybe I should take a tiny corner of my home every day and declutter it. I even downloaded and printed the organization list for the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. It’s on my desk somewhere, hiding among piles of recipes and crochet instructions.

I just had one more question for Darling Daughter.

“How big does that one bag have to be? Will a small plastic grocery bag be OK?”

She laughed at me and answered, “YES!”

Oh dang. I’ve got to de-clutter!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

No New Year’s Resolutions Please!

The New Year has never been one of my top 10 holidays to celebrate. I much prefer Christmas, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, my kids’ birthdays.

In fact, I have trouble staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve. And the older I get, and I’m getting pretty old, the harder it is. I’m usually asleep by 10 p.m. and miss all the hullabaloo about a new year.

Age doesn’t have anything to do with New Year’s resolutions. I never made any resolutions cause I knew I’d never keep them past Jan. 2. I did look up a few resolutions on the ‘net to see who was doing what. They made me laugh because they are so un-keepable.

1. Give up chocolate. That’s a joke, right? That is NOT going to happen. Chocolate is good for you.

2. Spend less than an hour a day on the internet. What!?! Give up my lifeline to the rest of the world? No way!

3. Lose weight. At my age, who cares? Even my doctor agrees.

4. Not tell the same story over and over to my friends. Well, if they will just remind me that I’ve already told that story, once or twice or thrice, then I’ll shut up. It’s an age thing.

5. Write the great American novel. Hey! I’m working on it, OK?

6. Exercise. See #3.

7. Be positive and less sarcastic. Yeah, like that’s gonna’ last past Jan. 2.

8. Stop making lists. I cannot live without my lists. I make lists of my lists. It is impossible to grocery shop without a list. If I didn’t have my grocery list I would starve to death.

9. Learn another language. Why? English is hard enough.

10. Take a Senior Citizens class at the community college. Sounds good, but I would have to get up off that couch to do that.

11. Be financially responsible. Uh, where’s the fun in that?

12. Doctor the house cat for fleas at least once a week. No! That cat bites, and scratches, then messes with my computer, and calls me horrible cat names when I get out the flea spray.

13. Jump out of bed and get to work immediately. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! More coffee please.

14. Take a vitamin daily. Can’t remember what day it is, much less remember to take a vitamin. Don’t remember where I put them anyway.

15. Stop procrastinating. I’ll have to put that one off until tomorrow.

One writer refused to make a resolution because he/she “is already perfect.” I’m not perfect. I’m just sleepy and a bit tired. And I don’t want to make resolutions. They are so out of style.

Instead, for 2017, I will make wishes. I wish happiness and health for all my family, friends and those who deserve it. I wish to spend all my time with my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who are, of course, perfect.

And I wish the very best for all who visit (or don’t) here for 2017. Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

‘God Bless Us, Every One’

Christmas is only a few days away, and along with this happy holiday come the holiday-related movies and television specials.

So it was that I watched “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman” on TV. I watched them because there was nothing else to watch on TV and I’m not a satellite owner nor do I wish to be one. (Kids, do not put that on your list for mom.)

While the two classic Christmas tales reeled off one after the other, I think I was either trying to complete a Christmas do-it-yourself project, trying to figure out what gift I had bought for which grandchild, or searching my recipes trying to find those only made at Christmas. So I wasn’t paying a lot of attention, at first.

Then I found myself drawn into the tales. And at their conclusion I found myself terribly sad for some reason. This worried me for several hours. How could such happy, uplifting stories make me sad?

I finally came to the conclusion that there were no children watching with me. For nearly 20 years I had sat my three children down to watch both Rudolph and Frosty to foster the Christmas spirit or so I could go on to other Christmas pursuits. But once my children turned 13 or so, they usually abandoned Rudolph and Frosty for teenage attractions.

With those thoughts in mind, I realized this year that I was sad because I missed those days of being the mom of three kids. I missed trying to figure out what they wanted for Christmas that we could afford. I missed the Christmas shopping, the buying and the hiding of gifts, the Christmas school plays and programs, the staying up all night to wrap gifts, then being woken up after only an hours sleep by three kids who could not contain their excitement. I miss cooking a huge Christmas feast. Those days are long gone, even for my three children who are grandparents themselves now. I wonder if they miss those parenting Christmas days.

With that in mind, I went looking for old Christmas-themed movies to take my blues away. First, we will dispense with the ones I cannot even force myself to like. There will be no Elf, no Grinch, and no “Gremlins,” even though my kids thought that cute little critters that turned into demons at midnight were fantastic!

I will not watch any musical Christmas movies made in the 1930s, 1940s or 1950s, even though I love the song “White Christmas.” Too many silly love interests for me.

I want a happy, laugh-out-loud, Christmas. So I will watch “Home Alone,” (fall-down pranks make me laugh every time), “Christmas Vacation,” (otherwise known as what Christmas is really like with a crazy family), “Christmas with the Kranks,”(or what Christmas is really like with a loving family), “The Santa Clause”, (because nothing beats Tim Allen falling off a roof), and “A Christmas Story” (because I can’t tell you how many times my own mother said “You’ll shoot your eye out!”)

And when I am ready for an uplifting story I will go on to that greatest Christmas movie of all time, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And then I will go outside and ring bells, because “Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

(That’s pretty bad when you can quote from a movie without even looking it up on Wikipedia!)

And then my heart and spirit will be back where it belongs, in the present with grand and great-grandchildren, and I will continue loving the memories and not be saddened by them.

So Merry Christmas, ring lots of bells, and as Tiny Tim might say, “And God bless us, every one.” And may your holiday have lasting, happy memories.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Merry Christmas Trees!

The magazine Good Housekeeping published a story this week on “20 Hilarious Christmas Tree Fails.” And I swear, every one of those fails has happened to me and my family.

The article begins with an illustration of Charlie Brown and his infamous Christmas tree, which is one of the best stories ever told. It’s sort of an ugly-duckling-to-swan story about a tree, but it’s really about Christmas in the heart. I love it so much, I have a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, which has few needles and is tiny. 

Next is a photo of a dog chasing the house cat up the Christmas tree. Anyone who has a house cat knows that as soon as the Christmas tree goes up, the cat will be in it. The cat will knock off only the breakable ornaments, will drink all the water in the tree stand, and will pee and poo in the Christmas tree skirt and on your wrapped gifts if you have been stupid enough to put them under the tree, with a cat in the house, like I am.

Up next is a photo of crooked tree. Is there such a thing as a straight Christmas tree? I’ve never had one, and have even had to, as the article suggests, tie the tree to the wall to keep it upright. Which didn’t work either.

TIMBER! The tree fell over. Well of course it did. The cat was in it and it wasn’t straight anyway. My most famous falling Christmas tree is on film for all posterity. Son received a camera for Christmas and daughter was opening a gift when the tree fell on top of her. “Take a photo son,” I advised. And so we have a photo of daughter, under tree, with only her legs sticking out.

All the needles fell off. All believers in real Christmas trees have this problem. That real tree goes up after Thanksgiving. The cat drank all the water in the tree stand. And the needle-less tree doesn’t come down till the New Year. I have actually found Christmas tree needles in the corners of the living room when vacuuming for the Fourth of July.

The Christmas tree has bugs. Trying to save money one year, my kids and I went to the woods, found a perfect cedar tree, cut it down (crooked of course) and put it up for Christmas. The next morning, all warmed up, that little cedar tree unleashed a million ticks on us. Never again!

Tree is too short, or too tall. I err on the too tall side, year after year after year. I‘ve had to apologize to husband and sons on several occasions and years because they had to cut the tree trunk off, again. One year they even had to cut the top off. One year we didn’t cut anything off, and had to climb a ladder to put the star top on. That was a beautiful Christmas tree. Then I made a mistake and turned the ceiling fan on.

Oops. Ceiling fans make good hedge trimmers too. And they can make your Christmas tree look like a hedge.

The tree is my favorite Christmas decoration. And may all your Christmas trees be happy, or at least memorial like mine.