I used to ask, “Why me?” Now I say, “Why NOT me!”

Positive thinking can manifest whatever we desire.  My entire beautiful life was created by dreaming it up.  The manifestation of this life began after I ended my first marriage.

I was floundering with fear.  My lovely niece, Katie, sent me a small book, “The Prayer of Jabez.”   It’s a short little prayer.  Short was good.   My brain was so fried I couldn’t focus on much.

The prayer is composed of four parts. First, Jabez asks God to bless him. Second, he asks God to enlarge his territory or increase his responsibility. Third, he prays that God will be with him and stay close. Lastly, Jabez asks that God keep him from harm so that he will be free from pain.  In my prayer I changed that last bit to, “Let me cause no pain”– a largely impossible feat when breaking up a family.

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That first summer I walked miles, praying the prayer like a mantra.  Amazingly doors simply flew open.

Probably the most astonishing door was the one leading to product design.  NOTHING in my background would indicate I had the ability to design three-dimensional product, made in China, sold at Costco.

But a wonderful neighbor, Cynthia Voetsch, saw my struggle.  She owned a business that did exactly that–designed and manufactured lawn and garden items, as well as furniture–all of which was sold at Costco not only in USA, but England, Mexico, and Canada.  Cynthia  hired me on monthly retainer.  Here is one of the first products I ever designed in collaboration with my later partner, Mary Beth Vieha.

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This is Sarah.  She is a resin sculpture/bird-bath.  When we first bought our copy she was nice and clean. I lined her bowl with ice, topped the ice with lettuce and she served shrimp cocktail.    Now she stands in our front yard.                                                                                    Yes, that is a chain around her ankle.  We don’t want her to run away from home.

I even got to have my picture on the box!  You bet I’ve saved that giant piece of cardboard.  Co-worker Mary Beth touched up my make-up.
Another, Terry Pfister, dragged me outside to stand in front of a tree and shot several pictures.  This is the one that made the cut.

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Many of  my friends and neighbors bought Sarah.   Judy Nolan sends me photos of her Twin Lakes, Wisconsin Sarah every season.  Sarah has acres of lush flowers and foliage at her feet.

Costco sold a ton of those Sarah’s.   In fact, last summer while visiting Chicago, I ran into a Sarah in Roscoe Village.  I felt fancy.

So, take it from me, positive thinking can change your world.  Now I’m off to meditate.  Will put a post-it note on my chest saying, “Meditating not sleeping.  DO NOT HURL THE POOL BALL.”  Life is excellent.

I’m deaf, and this is good because…..

Jen Sincero writes that we need to think positive thoughts in order to manifest all great things in our world. If there is something negative in your life, you tack on the words, “….and this is good because.”

Tried it with my husband, Jim. His was, “I’m bald. And this is good because I don’t have to comb my hair.”

I’m deaf. I’ve been deaf for about 15 years. Lost my hearing when I had pneumonia.

Being deaf is good because…..

Loud noises don’t wake me up at night.
When I read I simply take out my hearing aids and instant quiet.
I get attention by saying, “I’m hearing impaired.”
I’m learning to lip read.

Try this little exercise! Last night I talked to a great friend who has very little money. She tried it. She said, “Being poor is good because I don’t have to worry about fluctuations in the stock market.”

Keeping the positive vibrations flowing. So, all of you, go forth and prosper. Have a beautiful positive day. Hooray for today. Is anyone reading this? Maybe not many, but eventually the multitudes will discover my blog and yay yay hip hip hooray I’ll be rich and famous and tall with long legs.

jen sincero    Go buy her book!  So great!

How knitting saved my marriage

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I have a wonderful vintage button collection, but still love to purchase buttons I don’t need with money I don’t have.
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This is my latest project.  I’ve found a victim and will ship it in the fall.  Isn’t the  big green button great?  Found it in a Chicago thrift store, as well as those rust colored ones.  They even have a hint of purple. Perfection.

I am an awful knitter…and that’s good because practicing my knitting makes road trips with my husband way less stressful.

When I first began knitting I dropped so many stitches you could fit your head through the holes in my scarves.  So I’d knit patches to cover the holes.  Then I’d sew buttons over the holes in the patches.  My early scarves were really weird.  Twelve inches wide in spots, four inches wide in other places.  But that didn’t stop me from handing those odd rags out to (long-suffering) friends.  One was so heavy and thick I’m pretty certain my buddy had to crawl when wearing…it dragged her to the pavement.

Here’s how my bad knitting has saved my marriage.  I only knit in the car when Jim and I take long road trips.  He hates the way I drive.  I hate the way he drives right back.  He follows too closely causing me to have to press the imaginary brake in the passenger seat foot well.  And occasionally gasp loudly.

I took up knitting so I am looking down when he’s driving.  Eyes on the needles!  We’re both happier that way.

I suppose he hates my driving because I’m quite a bad driver.  I never knew it until a whole lot of people informed me.  I’m slow.  Hands nervously at two and ten.

In 2005 I bought myself a darling Mini Cooper. I chose the fastest engine, manual transmission, British racing green and SO CUTE.  That zoom-zoom engine was totally wasted on me.  I probably never drove that Mini over 55 mph. I swore I’d NEVER sell that car–her name was Maude.

Then, much to Jim’s dismay, I opted to trade Maude in for a mini-van– a baby blue, Honda Odyssey named Stella. We travel with our beloved dog, Bronson. More about him in future posts. I wanted Bronson to have total comfort and several cup holders.

The day we mini-van shopped Jim brought along Maude’s title. He swore he’d only mini- van shop ONCE, so we’d better damn well find the right car that day.

Well, he was wrong. We mini-van shopped twice.  I traded Stella in for a newer, slicker model. Gracie. She’s gray.  Creative, eh? She has a little refrigerator in the front seat. And, happily, she has a fine brake in the foot well of the passenger side.

We’ll take Gracie to Chicago in August.  Jim will be driving.  I will be knitting.  Anyone want a scarf?  I’ve gotten better! Rarely drop stitches, but still add patches and buttons for fun.  All my new friends are Floridians.  I need some cold weather victims. LMK if your neck needs warming up.

honda odyssey                mini cooper

Ah! First crushes were enormous, weren’t they?

Recently I found my meditating mind circling back to my youth. It occurred to me that another great thing about being sixty-five is the angst of my younger years is behind me.

When I didn’t have much time booked on this planet everything seemed enormous! Now, not so much.

For a time being my big anxiety centered around Carl Jacobson. I clearly remember the hours/weeks/months fretting over him. He was the dreamboat I “loved” in Junior High. He was gorgeous in a Paul McCartney floppy hair way.

Carl played alto saxophone, so I took up sax. I planned to sit next to him in band practice. Little did I know he was lead chair, I was last chair. Our paths didn’t cross. Plus I learned playing sax was a pain–you had to put the dry reed into your mouth and hold it until it became flexible. That made me gag. Furthermore being in band involved wearing ugly black and gold wool uniforms with ridiculous tall feather adorned hats.

Another “nab Carl Jacobson” plan involved basic stalking. Walking by his house. Going wherever he might go. Once I went to a MYF dance (Methodist Youth Fellowship) because rumor had it he’d be there. The passing clothing fad was denim pants that rolled up to just above the knees and wide horizontal stripe t-shirts. Mine was navy and white, purchased at National 5 and 10 on Main Street, Newark, Delaware.

The afternoon of the dance I worked for hours on my “look”. Set hair in big rollers and sat under the dryer. The dryers in the 60’s were plastic boxes with flexible tubing attached. The other end of the tube was hooked into a bubble cap that blew up like a balloon when the dryer was running. My dryer had a fancy feature whereby you could put perfume into a certain spot and your hair would come out smelling amazing. I used Jean Nate.

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Then I put on my jean shorts and tee-shirt. Standing in front of my mom’s full length mirror I saw I had very big, very obvious thigh saddle-bags. I reasoned that I could reduce the look of those fat wads by stuffing Kleenex into my pants just above the widest leg lump. Not the best plan. I didn’t consider the fact the tissue balls would shift. By the time I ran into Carl Jacobson my backside appeared to have tumors.

Goodness, I spent a lot of my youth sweating the very small stuff. Being old is good because it’s given me perspective. Yay for being sixty-five.

Yay! Marriage survived the birthday surprise!

My husband turned seventy on March 29th. Which, weirdly enough, is also my ex-husbands birthday.

Jim’s son, Jason, made the decision to fly in for the day and surprise his dad. I wanted to save the “kid” (in his 40’s) cab fare so offered to pick him up at the airport. Needed to keep his visit a secret therefore told Jim we were picking up a friend.

“Who?” he asked.

“Charki. And she’s flying in on Southwest, landing in Tampa.” That was the first friend who popped into my brain. Charki lives 45 minutes south of us in St. Petersburg. Charki is a retired United Airlines employee. Naturally she always flies United because it’s free for her.

Happily, Jim didn’t pick up on that odd bit. Truly lovely to be married to a vaguely obtuse man.

We boogied to airport at about 3 p.m. “Charki” was to land at 3:50. Parked in the cell phone lot and began watching the giant light up board for arriving flights. The plane departed from Midway, Chicago. YIPES…there were NO Chicago flights are on the electronic sign.

Jim began to grill me, “Are you SURE it’s coming into Tampa? And you SURE it’s not St. Pete.”
“Yup, I’m certain.”

Five minutes rolled by and again he said, “Are you certain? There are no Chicago flights on the board. I think you should call Doug!” (her husband)
“Don’t have his number” Lie lie lie
“Then call (mutual friends) Brookie and Earl. Get Doug’s number. And
what’s the flight number? You should always get the flight number!”

I couldn’t call from my phone. The call would have been broadcast loudly from my bluetooth, which I have no idea how to disable because that would require reading the manual. I don’t do manuals, I just pound on buttons and turn knobs until (maybe) something works out.

Texted B and E saying, “I’ll be calling, please play along.” Then I called. Hooray, neither picked up.

Emailed Jason, “DO NOT TEXT OR CALL ME WHEN YOU LAND. (damn Bluetooth again)
” JUST EMAIL. And, oh by the way, are you landing in Tampa?” (Please please please be landing in Tampa or I’m toast.)

By now my normally rarely-wants-to-murder-me husband was fuming. No Chicago flights on Big Board. No way to reach Charki. And furthermore, why did Charki not fly directly to St. Pete where she lives?

At long last Jason emailed, “On the ground. Will be standing at Southwest arrival wearing plaid shirt and red back pack.”

“Hooray Jimmy, Charki landed. She will be wearing plaid. And a red back pack.”
That bit caught Jim’s ear….Charki, in plaid? Charki is known for crisp white shirts, flowy scarves, hip jewelry, cute color coordinated cross body bags. When he pointed out the curiousness of this I simply said, “She likes plaid for flying.” Seems I’ve easily grown into being a big fat liar.

We cruised along arrival area until I spotted Jason. Jim, looking keenly for Charki in her unique new ensemble, never noticed Jason until Jason pounded on the driver side window. The look on Jim’s face was worth all the lying, sweating, fretting and enormous anxiety attack.

Secret kept! Cloak and dagger stuff accomplished. Marriage survived! Yay. Altogether great day.

Plus neighbor Lynda baked him an awesome Girl Scout Thin Mints birthday cake. That’s it in the photo. 5 candles, one for every fourteen years. Needed a calculator to figure it out. 🙂 Just to be sure I counted it out with my hoof.

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At sixty-five I forgot how to make my formerly fantastic Toll House Cookies. What’s happening to me?

I really messed up my last batch of chocolate chip cookies. This was SO wrong. Once upon a time I had amazing cookie baking tricks and a reputation to maintain. After a while baking chocolate chippers was like riding a bike. I knew how to do it and they were always awesome…

Until they weren’t.

On March first I made our neighbor, Brian, a batch of my Toll House cookies for his twentieth birthday. I’ve made them for him regularly and successfully in the nearly four years we’ve lived here.

But on March first something went horribly wrong. The cookies ran together in a big mushy mess. I managed to scrape them onto cooling racks, whereupon the middles dripped through the wires to the counter below. They were a dismal embarrassing failure.

I blamed it on humidity. I blamed it on the oven, the ingredients, the alignment of the stars. I blamed it on everything but human error. (ie myself)

I should have started over. Instead I chose to go with, “Well, it’s the thought that counts!” When I was able to kinda’ sorta’ move from racks to platter I displayed the least unfortunate ones on top. Brian ate them without complaint but Brian is twenty. Twenty year old boys eat everything without complaint.

Meanwhile my daughter Mo–the cookie baking hot-shot show off–keeps posting Instagram photos of her baking products. Snickerdoodles, Toll House, Oatmeal Raisin, chocolate ones with sinfully delicious looking chunks. This pictures shows perfectly browned, uniform French-bakery-shop-worthy beauties.

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Her latest miraculous cookies.  She likes to taunt me by sending these pictures.  It’s a good thing I love her.

How is this possible? I’m the cookie person in this family, dammit.

Finally I broke down and confessed I had lost the touch. I asked Mo for advice.

“Are you using a cookie scoop, Mom?” …..huh?

“What about silpat matts?”….and those are? My deaf ears translated that as “thilfad”, then “willgab”. She finally spelled it out “Stephen, Igloo, Lady, Patio, Alice, Too bad/so sad/can’t hear.”

“Do you have half sheets?”  This one I actually knew about from Ina Garten.

“Furthermore it’s best to weigh ingredients rather than measure by cups–flour settles. A cup isn’t always a cup. Oh by the way the best temperature is generally 350 degrees other than for chocolate chip, which I bake at 360.” ….again, huh?  I thought 375 degrees for chocolate chip cookies was a hard and fast rule.

All in all I figured out I really don’t know squat about cookie baking.
Immediately went to Amazon–bought the aforementioned scoop and silpat mats.

Today I decided to dive back into the cookie dough. I didn’t have ingredients for chocolate chips, plus I was still too cowed by my recent failure.

I made peanut butter cookies instead. I even snuck in some of Jim’s closely guarded Dove Dark Chocolate mini candies. The results? Not bad. Not as gorgeous as Mo’s though. Guess my next purchase is a scale for weighing the flour I can’t eat. Celiac Sprue, no gluten allowed….which is a good thing because I shouldn’t be eating cookies anyhow.

Check out these yummy confections. Yay me! No they aren’t as uniform as Mo’s, but I’m just a beginner.

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