As I have mentioned I love cute stationery and writing letters. Sending postcards lights me up. Applying stamps, dropping notes in the mailbox, picturing the happy recipients–it all makes me smile.
Recently I was yakking with buddy Karen on the phone. She commented that she had gotten my newsy note. I glowed, waiting for her praise.
But NOOOO. She laughed and said, “You have the WORST ever handwriting. I plan to send you a tablet like the kids use in elementary school. You know, the lined stuff that shows how tall to make uppercase letters and how short to do lower case. And you need to close your d’s, b’s, a’s—well, pretty much all your words are too sloppy to read.”
I began wearing makeup in tenth grade. Each morning I would carry my white leatherette cosmetics case to the Formica kitchen table. While Mom made my breakfast, I’d sit in the northern light and apply a little eyeliner, brown shadow and mascara. When my “artwork” was complete my mother often commented, “You should sign your chin!”
Once my boyfriend insisted there was no way I needed makeup. Our following date I met him at the door barefaced. He suggested I hurry back upstairs and put on some eyes.
All told I have over fifty years of coloring a face on the front of my head every morning. Then at night scrubbing it off thinking, “There go ten minutes of my life, right down the drain.”
My sister Marilyn knows I adore new makeup. This past birthday she sent me a big Sephora box filled with TEN new mascaras! The one I’m now using is the smallest pale pink tube. Its name is “Better than Sex” mascara. (It is good, but that claim might be aggrandizing.)
My current routine is to sit in the second bedroom at my work table. The table is situated in a huge window. It’s masochistic to greet each day looking at my sixty-seven-year-old mug in a magnifying mirror. But it’s what I do. My war paint is hidden in two decorative wooden boxes.
Here follow the nine steps to make my face:
Sunscreen. Marilyn gave me a new tinted one. I like it.
Cover up. Under the eyes. By the ancient nose. On my eyelids.
Neutrogena Foundation. I have to use all fragrance-free products and my old face likes this one best.
Blush. Again, Neutrogena.
Lancome Blond Eyebrow pencil. Unless my brow dye is still intact. It is currently quite intact because I recently dyed the brows. After painting on the dye I got busy and forgot to wipe it off. My normally see-through brows ended up the color of Michelle Obama’s. A great look on Michelle. On me? Not so much.
Urban Decay pencil eyeliner. The color varies.
Eyeshadow in several shades.
Next, smudge the eyeliner and shadow with a small brush.
Then time for mascara. Before all the other paint was applied I shoved my mascara tube into my bra so it’s all warm and easy to apply. Weird? Yes. But I read that tip while at the doctor’s office perusing Style Magazine. It works.
Last of all, lipstick. Lately, I’m liking No 7 Moisture Drench by Boots. But I have zero brand loyalty about lipstick.
Note the lottery tickets on the right-hand side of this photo. For my next glorious manifestation, I intend to win the lottery. I began buying tickets about a month ago. My budget is $4 a week. So far I’ve won back $5. But it’s just a matter of time before the giant windfall, folks! The power of positive thinking is a thing of beauty.
When the win happens I’ll be sure to blog about it! Meanwhile, time to settle my wide backside into a chair and read this. Jane, my brilliant published author friend gave me this book. Maybe some of the magic will rub off on me.
Yup. Another year older and I had a great “all-about-me” day.
The first thing that happens on birthdays is I go looking for the three cards my husband hides in plain sight. Always three. This year they were: One) next to my toothbrush. Two: On top of the computer. Three) Next to our coffee pot.
That coffee pot deserves a blog post all by itself. It’s a fancy stainless steel contraption that does everything but babysit. A gift to us from our friend, neighbor, realtor Lynda after she sold our house. I love our coffee pot. I love Lynda too. But I digress. Back to the birthday.
I held onto the cards until Jim crawled out of the feathers. My husband is a gifted sleeper. I envy that. We always open them together. He buys fancy expensive cards. Me, I shop the Dollar Tree.
While waiting for Sleepy to get up, I began my birthday carbohydrate fest. Breakfast. A Gluten-free English muffin smeared with copious amounts of Philadelphia cream cheese. I toasted it all dark and crunchy and delicious. Lunch was a repeat of breakfast. Snack was a repeat of lunch. It was divine.
Then there was my present! Copic Markers. I’ve never used Copic markers and have signed up for a class this week. The class is within walking distance at a darling art supply store named WhimSoDoodle. It’s dangerous having art supplies a block away. I’m constantly buying things I don’t need with money I don’t have. It’s an illness.
Then the phone calls began pouring in. I get lots of calls and cards because years ago, at the end of October, I would send out notices–“Only thirty shopping days left!” I no longer have to do that. The people are conditioned. It’s grand.
Several of the calls are predictable. Karen always mocks me for being old. Richie calls to tell me November is NOT my month, it’s his. Which is wrong. He gets the nineteenth. I get all the other days. The kids call and that lights me up. Aunt Peggy. Bunches of other buddies. Or they text. Joyous!
Then a very happy surprise. Elton John got an ear infection. What does that have to do with me? Well, Rusty and Lynda were to go to an Elton John concert on November 28th, aka “Alice Day.” The concert was canceled so they drove to Saint Petersburg. They brought flowers and wine and joined us for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Gratzzi, also within walking distance. I can see their black and white awning from our balcony.
Because I hadn’t had enough carbs for one day I chose risotto. Delicious. Lynda and I happily split a bottle of red wine. For dessert, the waiters brought me tiramisu with a candle. I made a wish, blew it out and know, for sure, that wish will come true.
Have you ever made tiramisu? I tried one year for Richie’s birthday. Ended up serving it in bowls and calling it tiramisoup. I’ve had my fair share of cooking fails. One dinner party I left the baked potatoes in the oven for so long by the time I served them all that was left was the skin. They guys used them as baseball gloves to pass the dinner rolls. The following day they hauled those shriveled brown shells along to the golf course and teed their balls up on them. My cooking has improved since I made friends with Ina Garten.
After dinner, we toddled home where Lynda and I opened another bottle of red. That one we didn’t finish.
The birthday continued into yesterday when Charki and Doug asked us to stop over. They had a gift for me. She knows I’m all about positive thinking, saying “Yes” to the Universe.
Here is what I got.
I just learned more cards are coming my way. Amy sent theirs early, priority mail only to learn they ended up in Massachusets. She is disappointed, but I feel like it gives me something to look forward to.
Now, the excitement continues for another year. My goal, to get serious about writing. Classes are twice a week, also within walking distance.
Who: Sandy, Jane, and Alice
What: Girl’s weekend
Where: Galena, Illinois
Why: Giggles, gossip, good times, a bit of the grape and the occasional shot of whiskey (for medicinal purposes only).
When: November 8th–November 11, 2018
Galena is a charming old town that was once the largest steamboat hub on the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri. It was the home of Ulysses S. Grant and eight other Civil War generals. Today, the city, on the banks of the Galena River, is a tourist destination known for its history, architecture, and resorts.
My friend Jane has lived there for over twenty years. Her Welsh husband Andy is the city’s chief engineer. He surely has many duties but to me, the most impressive is deciding when the floodgates are to be closed.
River rising? Andy saves the day by preventing a deluge.
In the spring Andy will retire. He and Jane plan to sell their 1830’s era house on the steepest street ever and move to Wales.
Sandy and I reasoned it might be some time before we see Jane again, unless we visit Wales as we did for her wedding twenty-one years ago.
A group of American ladies descended on Llandudno, Wales, wearing our “country club casual” frocks. One Welsh guest dubbed us the “fancy ladies.”
This past May Sandy and I made plans to fly into Chicago O’Hare, meet there, then puddle jump to the Dubuque, Iowa airport.
O’Hare is crowded, teeming with harried passengers. No eye contact, no smiles.
Until you get into line with travelers to Dubuque!
The burly guy behind us wanted to know our story. The man across the aisle had us laughing. The lady in the mysterious black hat and dark glasses said something that made Sandy guffaw. Me, deaf as a post, didn’t hear it. I asked Sandy. She said, “I didn’t hear it either. But Black Hat laughed so I figured I should too.” In a few years, I won’t be the only one wearing hearing aids.
We flew in a small aircraft up for half an hour, then back down for half an hour, landing at the tiny Dubuque airport. Sandy commented the terminal looks like a library.
Jane met us, drove us over the hilly landscape, up her steep street, then onto her perpendicular driveway. We had to lug our suitcases along nine towering steps to get to the side door. She must have taken sympathy on us. She has never taken us to the side door before. Generally, Jane likes to torture Sandy and me by forcing us to trudge another the long staircase to her front door.
Years ago, when I was actually in fairly good shape, the walk from town to Jane’s front door nearly killed me. I’ve been pretty sedentary for the last few years. Therefore, since our August move to a twenty-ninth floor condo, I’ve been preparing for the painful hike up her steep hill.
Each day I trudge from our twenty-ninth floor apartment up the stairs to the thirty-fourth floor. I stand at the top of the staircase, panting. Then I exit the stairwell and wait for the elevator to take me home to twenty-nine.
Yes, I should trudge the stairs back to twenty-nine. No, I don’t.
I was pretty proud of my stair-climbing routine until I learned our neighbor Mark–the over achiever–hikes up from one to twenty-nine and back down again twice a day.
Thursday evening we had an easy trek downhill to Main Street to eat dinner at Cannova’s Italian Restaurant. Gluten-free white pizza for me. Yum. So much for the low carb diet.
My big after dinner worry was trudging back up vertical Dodge Street. Fortunately, those daily trips to thirty-four paid off. I didn’t expire on the frozen pavement.
Thursday night, while we were sleeping, Jane had several Etsy sales. She has a very successful shop–GladysGlover.
During her years as an Etsy shop owner, she’s had over 3,000 sales. Including selling a brass corgi door knocker to Stephen King and ceramic knife rests to Sophia Vergara! Pretty neat to imagine author Stephen King reading Jane’s amusing descriptions of “miscellaneous fripperies”.
Friday morning Jane bundled her sold treasures for shipping and headed to the Post Office. It was a balmy 19 degrees in Galena. Why should Sandy and I get dressed, go out, and freeze? We were still in our PJ’s at three-thirty when, on an arctic blast, Jane blew in the front entry.
Other weekend adventures? Dinner at the historic Desoto House Hotel, a thrilling field trip to Piggly Wiggly, latte’s at Books a Million, candy at Barbara Jane’s chocolate shop, and dinner with a magic show at Amelia’s.
Our flights out were on Sunday. That morning we crossed the mighty Mississippi from Illinois to Iowa and dropped Sandy off for her 11 a.m. departure.
Then Jane and I drove to River Light’s, a charming independent bookstore. Low and behold it was their holiday open house. Food! Mimosa’s! Free gifts with purchase! I scored a box of tacky Christmas sweater notecards complete with dozens of ugly stickers for DIY designs.
After book shopping we crossed quiet Dubuque Main Street and had Mexican food for lunch. Chicken fajitas, me. Shrimp Enchilada, Jane. My flight was scheduled for late afternoon. I suggested she drop me at the airport and go on her merry way. Surely she’d had enough of me?
My thinking was I’d go through security, find a seat and await my plane. In my experience security means shoes off, long lines, and rubber glove wearing TSA agents digging through the carry-on.
Here is what the Dubuque Airport looks like at 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon.
Jane was kind enough to keep me company until security finally opened their gates. I made it through and was lucky enough to find an empty chair.
I pulled out paper and pen and spent the next hour happily doing the “morning pages” I had ignored for the past fun days. No one bothered me.
My flight landed at the Tampa airport about 10:30 at night. Jim and Bronson were there to greet me. It was wonderful to have visited my buddies. And equally wonderful to see my little family again. Slept like a log in our 29th floor home, aka The Perch.
Yesterday I got my first pedicure in months. We were so busy all summer with moving that fingernails and toenails fell by the wayside.
I took a “before” photo. After I sent it from phone to computer and saw it enlarged I decided it’s too horrifying to include here. Just trust me, my toes needed help. I haven’t worn sandals since early May. It was imperative to keep these dogs under wraps.
The Woodhouse day spa just opened across the street. While walking Bronson in closed toe shoes (Me not him. He goes barefoot) we stuck our heads in to see if anyone would have time to take on my sad tootsies.
The answer was “sure”. I took Bdog home again, dug out a pair of sandals, and headed back to the spa. The place is quite elegant. They recently had a splashy open house complete with piles of appetizers and oceans of wine. Many people from our building were there. We were all gifted with a card for ten percent off all future products and services.
My pedicurist was named Meimee. While she struggled to restore order to foot chaos, I sat and wrote several pages in the red Mead notebook I take to writer’s workshop.
My morning pages–as suggested by Julia Cameron– have their own Mead notebooks. I’m on my third. The first was aqua. The second was yellow. The present black one is nearly full. Next will be kelly green, then purple and then I get to buy six more spiral notebooks on Amazon Prime. Yay! The little things in life, eh?
I almost didn’t bother going to class. Saturday Market was yesterday. We went early to get the farm fresh eggs before they sold out. If you haven’t purchased extremely fresh eggs I recommend it. They are divine.
The class began at 10. Did I really want to bother showering and manifesting a face in only half an hour?
Jim reminded me how much I’d relished it the week before, so I pulled my act together, put on my closed toe shoes and went to school.
I was a couple of minutes late. The group was asking each other questions to sort out what they had in common. Supposedly this is a helpful exercise in character building. Bob-group leader and all together fun guy-asked me several things. First, “Where are you from?”
“Delaware.” No common ground there.
Second, “What’s your favorite food?”
“Cream Cheese. Out of the package. Eaten with a fork.” Everyone laughed. Weird since cream cheese really is feast from the God’s. I never did hear Bob’s favorite food. But I noticed he ate a Starbucks cookie during the workshop.
At the end of class we did a ten minute timed writing. Our hands were not to pause. It was freeing. I decided to repeat the exercise and continue writing all through my pedicure. Which, given the miserable state of my feet, would last more than a mere ten minutes.
As I wrote and Meimee worked I spent the time manifesting the three million dollar lottery win I have planned. I’ve budgeted $16 a month for tickets, invested as follows: One two dollar ticket weekly on Mega Millions and two one dollar tickets weekly on Florida lotto.
So far I’ve only played twice.
I didn’t win last week. Which was good because Florida Lotto was only up to 2.5 million. It is rolled over to 3 million now. I’m buying all the tickets from mom and pop places so they’ll win money too. Ain’t I generous?
I have my winnings earmarked. Fifty percent will go to two causes near and dear to my heart. Another percentage, not yet decided, will be pledged to NPR. The lion’s share will go to our four kids. The remainder will be for us.
I know Jim will want to use lots of it for travel. Since I loathe flying we’ll splurge on Business or First class tickets.
I will invest a bunch in buying stamps and thick fancy stationery. I’ll purchase a self driving car so when we take our long road trips I don’t have to gasp and stomp on the imaginary brake when Jim follows too closely.
Another thing I’ll do is eat all the cream cheese I want then go get liposuction to remove the inevitable fat wads. I can’t get a facelift because my daughter, the critical care nurse, tells me at my “advanced age” (ouch) the time spent under anesthesia would be dangerous.
Meimee finally inquired what I was writing. I told her I have a blog and was working out what to blog about next. She shared that she’s writing her life story.
I then put down my pen and asked her to share that with me. I learned her grandfather was a General in the Chinese Army during the revolution. When China became communist he moved his family to Taiwan. Once Meimee was three Grandpa and Grandma took her to America. Mom stayed behind. Meimee goes to Taiwan every few years to see her.
I found myself wishing my hearing was better. Between the bubbling water and her slight accent I missed a few answers to my questions. Everyone has a book in them, don’t they?
Here is what Meimee created!
Yes, I have the tiniest toenails on the planet.
Now, I have to go manifest a crab boil at Lynda and Rusty’s house. She recently had us for one and it was delicious. She said, “Don’t tell Mama we did this while she was out of town. She will be mad to have missed it.”
Erika, aka Mama, was picking apples in Connecticut. Naturally, I sent Mama a postcard and tattled. Now Mama is recovering from a knee replacement at Lynda’s home. I’m pretty certain a crab boil would be exactly what the doctor would order for speedy recovery. And Lynda, I’ll supply the crab, shrimp, sausage. You just cook it all up in a pan. Yay for manifesting great things!
Now all you good and gentle readers–go forth and prosper.
I took my first writing class yesterday. It was called Writing for Self Discovery. I felt so shy. I was nervous to read my stuff out loud. I was reminded about a book I had read earlier–Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art. In it, he talks about the difference between an amateur and a professional. An amateur gives in to fear. A pro pushes through the fear.
I have to turn professional. I have to keep putting one word in front of another, day after day, year after year. I’m almost sixty-seven. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. But fear of writing badly stopped me.
Of course, my early writing will be bad. My early paintings were downright embarrassing. I still shudder when I recall the barn Lynn commissioned me to paint for her parents. But I kept painting. And the muscles got stronger.
I will keep writing and expect to eventually get better.
The writing teacher, Maureen, writes poetry. I don’t “get” poetry. I think I’m too literal for poetry. If I were a poet I’d have to make all the lines rhyme.
Every morning I force myself to write three pages, as recommended by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way. Some days I can barely think of anything to write. So I just start rhyming. Don’t do it. It becomes a sickness. I have a friend, Herb, who used to read signs backwards. He warned me NEVER to start doing that or I wouldn’t be able to stop. I texted him about my rhyming sickness.
Here is what he texted back to me.
“I thguoht id ekat eht emit ot ekam siht egassem emyhr. I deen ot ees a esrun ot kaerb em fo siht esruc.”
Three pages, with a fountain pen. When I begin to write about all the things I’m grateful for the writing flows and I can go on for even four or more pages.
Blah blah blahing away. I never go back to reread my morning pages. I started this practice in June. At that time we were still living in our Palm Harbor home. Then the summer of condo happened. Now we live in a high rise. I can walk to the library. And to my writing classes.
I haven’t felt like sewing at all since the move. I will keep my wool for a year. If I haven’t begun making purses again by next September, the bins get taken out of the closet. We need all the storage space we can find.
It’s 3:11 a.m. I just woke from a dream. My experience with dreams is they pretty much evaporate with the light. Even a nightlight will zap a dream. Poof, gone.
Here clear as day one minute. Then (zap) gone.
What I do recall is the gist of the dream was “purpose”. My purpose. As I age I have become entrenched in the notion we were all made for a reason. I don’t know my reason. I don’t need to know. I just need to trust and (blindly) move forward when I hear/see/sense the whisper.
A power–God/Universe/Spirit in the Sky/Giant Cosmos Smarty Pants is in charge.
Just dug up the song playing at the edge of my mind.
When I die and they lay me to rest Gonna go to the place that’s the best When I lay me down to die Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky That’s where I’m gonna go when I die When I die and they lay me to rest Gonna go to the place that’s the best
Prepare yourself you know it’s a must Gotta have a friend in Jesus So you know that when you die He’s gonna recommend you To the spirit in the sky Gonna recommend you To the spirit in the sky That’s where you’re gonna go when you die When you die and they lay you to rest You’re gonna go to the place that’s the best
Never been a sinner I never sinned I got a friend in Jesus So you know that when I die He’s gonna set me up with The spirit in the sky Oh set me up with the spirit in the sky That’s where I’m gonna go when I die When I die and they lay me to rest I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best Go to the place that’s the best
I can, as if through a giant time machine microscope, remember Robbie Jones dancing to this song. Thanks, Universe, for that delightful memory. Robbie was the U of D drum major. We dated for a year or so. I was smitten. He, I later learned, was gay. What a delight he was. God/Universe/Spirit in the Sky/Giant Cosmos Smarty Pants created marvelous Robbie. He was a brilliant light in the world for a short time. Died of AIDS. I love to imagine he is dancing on the other side.
Robbie was here for a reason. I dunno’ that reason. Maybe to enlighten me? ( Golly, is it all about you, Alice?)
I plan to toddle back to bed. I hope the evasive “what’s my purpose” dream comes back to me. I’d like to see the ending.
But the ending doesn’t matter. I know I was created for a reason by a power as strong as God/Universe/Spirit in the Sky/Giant Cosmos Smarty Pants. Delicious to fall back on that and simply trust. Yay! Let me give up the steering wheel. I’m a dreadful driver.
God/Universe/Spirit in the Sky/Giant Cosmos Smarty Pants….go for it. I am in your hands.
Our aggressively white interior had to go so we picked a color, hired a painter, and went to buy the paint.
Going to the paint store meant getting into the car–something we rarely do these days. While we were out we chose to have lunch at one of our favorite places. Harvey’s 4th Street Grill.
I always intend to take a photo of my food before I dig in, but since hunger overtakes reason, I never remember. Here’s my lunch. Partially eaten blackened salmon.
The very best thing we saw today was this–
Could we (please) have a functioning adult in the Oval come 2020? These shirts can be purchased at Amazon. The sentiment is also available as a bumper sticker. This lady said she was driving her car when someone flagged her down. She was afraid it was a road rage thing–we do, after all, live in Florida. Trump territory.
Turned out the person stopping her simply wanted to know where they could get the same bumper sticker. Maybe the tide is turning? Fingers crossed.
We get together with Steve and Diane monthly for “Game Night” We play Qwirkle, Mexican Train, or maybe cards. Once we played Clue but decided it took too much thinking. It is, after all, designed for eight-year-olds. When we play our mentality shifts to six or under.
My favorite is Mexican Train. Steve and Diane’s version is better than ours. Theirs has a button to press when you are down to one tile and a “WHOOOO WHOOOOO” train sound plays. In our house, the down-to-one-tile person has to do the Whooo Whooo aloud.
Steve and Diane put together the most beautiful charcuterie platters. Fancy word, that. I think it means Cheese and Meat and other random snacks. I don’t know how to pronounce it, or how to duplicate their marvelous rendition. BUT, now that we live in Saint Petersburg we have a secret charcuterie platter weapon.
Mazzaro’s Italian Market!
Prior to moving here, I’d heard of Mazzaro’s. So, shortly after we got settled we took a field trip to the huge ethnic market. I was overwhelmed. The place was packed with shoppers and loaded with foods I didn’t understand. Philadelphia cream cheese is about as exotic as I get.
That visit we left with a biscotti. One. For Jim.
Yesterday we decided to take the plunge again. We were determined to go slow and enjoy the process.
About Mazzaro’s—I found the following description online:
Enter the always lively St. Petersburg food emporium known as Mazzaro Italian Market and you can easily mistake the scene for a bustling, European street lined with butcher shops, bakeries, produce stands and displays of freshly caught fish and fragrant cheeses.
Mazzaro’s Old World ambiance may even trigger a childhood memory of a long-ago visit to a neighborhood grocery with a loved one.
“We are selling time travel,” says Kurt Cuccaro, whose family founded the local landmark. “Shopping at Mazzaro may transfer you to a time when growing up, there was a place you used to go to with your grandparents. Or it may remind you of somewhere you once lived, a store you used to shop at or a market in Europe.”
From its humble beginnings as a boutique coffee roasting operation, Mazzaro grew to become a beloved, robust retail destination that is among the Tampa Bay area’s most enduring –and endearing – businesses.
That metamorphosis from a modest mom-and-pop shop into a sprawling, 25,000-square-foot market makes Mazzaro the ultimate convenience store. With just one stop, shoppers can fill their baskets with foods from around the world, as well as locally sourced items from around the block. They can select from vast arrays of fresh meats and seafood, freshly made bread, pastries and pasta, signature soups and sandwiches, and well-stocked shelves displaying whatever is needed to make gourmet meals from scratch.
I wandered around with my phone taking photos. Who knew there were so many versions of balsamic vinegar?
And sausages? We were in way over our heads. I grabbed a small salami of some sort. Cut it up earlier today. It’s hard as a rock but delicious. The one I picked came out of the little basket to the left of the “Please take a number” thing. That guy to the right of the numbers saw me taking the photo and wanted to know if he was “lookin’ good”. I assured him he was.
Look at all the amazing prepared foods!
The walls inside and out have been handpainted with scenes of Italy, and pictures of famous Italians.
Also offered a butcher, handmade pasta and pastries! Oh my. Those pastries look sinfully delicious. Fortunately, not a single pastry was gluten free which saved me from me.
I have a sneaking suspicion Mazzaro’s owners might be Catholic. Your thoughts?
Here is the assortment of delights we lugged home. I will NOT be getting on the scale in the morning. To all this, we will be adding crackers and fruit. Now I have to display it in an appetizing looking way. I should do that and add a photo. But won’t. Want this blog post published.
Steve and Diane should be here soon. I always lose at these games. I have no knack for “strategery.” But it’s all about the laughs. And the food.