Friday, May 27, 2011

My Retirement, Dress for Success

Two days of sun and I am doing OK

Looking Goooood?

While spending the evening with my son and his beautiful lady, Gina, Andy suggested that I write a blog about some of my fashion faux pas.  Now none of the following were deliberate, they were just accidents,  miscalculations or just out-of-body experiences.  I have always considered myself as a woman of good taste, but of course, that is my personal opinion.  I am sure the guy who parades naked in Times Square with only a guitar and hat thinks he is quite the style master also. Most of my blunders happened because I have spent a great deal of my life hurrying to get here and there.  Now that I am retired and life has slowed down, incidences like these should lessen.  However, if they continue, my children might think that it is time to investigate what home to put Mom into.  They do love my quirks though and like to have "my crazy mom stories".  So the following are my Lessons Learned..............
 Look before you Leap.

White lace socks by ♥ Electric BarbarellaShoes:  I think that no matter a woman's means, she has more shoes than she needs.  I have the theory that you should keep only as many as will fit in your racks or organizers.  My organizer fits 30 and that really should be enough for all seasons, all special affairs and all "I have no real use for them, but I want those shoes."   Many times when shopping, I will buy two pairs of the same kind but in different colors.  This can lead to awkward situations.  Three or four times I have gone to work wearing two different colors and one time a completely different style.   I was always in a rush when getting dressed, and sometimes did not spend any time really checking out what I was putting on my feet. Alas, on occasions I did not put my shoes away when I took them off but rather would kick them off under my bed.  As I sped to get out the door, I would grab the shoes with my feet and if the heels felt the same, off I went.  I did it so often that I no longer became embarrassed, it was just my fashion statement. 

Never lose your skirt:  I always liked to wear skirts and had a fondness for the wrap-around style. I liked the look, casual, sporty and feminine and they were fine to wear to most places. On my way into work one day and  my hands full of items and holding an umbrella, I walked to my car, not noticing that the wrap-around had unwrapped.  As I put all my stuff in the car, I felt a breeze go though my legs and noticed the bottom half of me was only clothed in a slip (remember them).  About 30 feet from me was my skirt laying in a large puddle of water.  There was no one in the immediate area right then so I swallowed hard and rushed back to retrieve half my outfit.   It was not dirty, just wet, but water dries, so no big thing. 

Watch out for Sales:  I never buy retail, everything always has to be on sale.  One time during my lunch hour and shopping at a mall, I found a sweater laying on low pyramid shelving.  I bent down to pick up an item and decided that  it was just what I was looking for as a present for my son and the sale made it more likable as it was half off.  I bought it quickly and then proceeded to walk around the shopping center for the next half hour.  When I arrived back at work, my boss gave me a funny look and said "you have something on your outfit."  I looked down and there on my right breast was a sign saying 50% off.   I had walked around a busy shopping center with this sign clearly stating that I or my breast was 50% off and nobody took me up on my offer.  I did not know whether to be embarrassed or insulted.  At that point in my life, some parts were still perky, but I still  had no takers.  Sad, sad, sad.

Eyebrows, Lips - what's the difference:  They sell lip liners and eyebrow liners, however, there should be some variance in their packaging.   As stated, I got dressed quickly before going to work and some areas of dress got less attention.  So yes, there was a time that I did put lipstick on my eyebrows which looked fine in the very early morning dimness, however, in the light of day, there was a definite difference.  I worked with very polite people and no one mentioned it to me.  When I got home that evening and looked in the mirror and saw the bright red brows, I wondered if anyone noticed.  The next day I casually mentioned it and yes, everyone had observed my new look. One very nice lady said that since my hair was reddish and she thought me fashionable, that perhaps it was a new trend. Another lady just nodded at me with a blank stare on her face,  and my boss said he thought I might be auditioning for a part in the latest Star Wars production.  I went with the first comment.

Hair Finishing:  Because my hair has never been thick and heavy, I believe in hair spray.  When I was young, Aqua Net was my best friend.  This spray could be used in a tornado; your house could blow away, but your hair style would stay in place.  Over the years I have graduated to better brands with more natural feeling substances.  Aerosol cans all look the same and once when getting ready to go out to dinner,  I just grabbed the large container closest to me off my vanity and sprayed.  Unfortunately, I had just cleaned my sink with Scrubbing Bubbles, which is the same size, has the same weight, and can easily be mistaken for something else.  As the white foam bubbles rose on my head and the tingling sensation was felt on my scalp, I realized it was not the look I was going for.  After washing it out quickly, I noticed that it did give my hair great body and people commented on how nice it looked that evening.  I might have discovered the "next big thing".

This blog is getting long and I could continue my adventures in stupidity, but I will leave it here.  Really though, most of us have done these things at one time, haven't we, really there are other people out there like me, aren't there?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Retirement - B-Bye Oprah

The sun is out and I'm doing OK.

So long
Oprah Winfrey
You have to be living under a rock if you don't know that today is the last Oprah Winfrey Show.  When she first announced it about a year ago, women all over the country sighed; we could not imagine Oprah not being part of our day. As I  write this, I am thinking, this sounds so trivial, it is a TV show, how important could that be.  However, what Oprah did to empower people, to encourage us, to make us look at our potential, was unprecedented. 

When Oprah first started on TV,  I only worked 30 hours a week and was home in time to watch this show.  It was so different than the usual gab fests and I became a fan right away.   Over the years, because of schedules,  I seldom got to watch, but because a radio station picked it up, I was able to listen to it on my way home from work.  It was a nice cool down for me and most of the shows were very interesting.  There were many stories where I could relate or learn from or just be entertained. 

This woman, who came from a difficult childhood, believed in herself and thus encouraged so many people in the world to rise above their own burdens, to empower themselves to reach beyond and know their strengths.

So today at 4:00 PM, I am going to stop what I am doing, get out my box of tissues and sit down and watch Oprah's final broadcast.   I have to admit I love to cry at sad or inspirational stories and watching her today will be a meloncholy event.  She is going on to new exciting things, but what are we groopies to do now. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Cow's Serenade

It's always raining here, but doing OK

Neighborly Visit
Taken 2 years ago, he later became steak.
I woke up this morning to the sound of "moo" outside my bedroom window.  I live across the road from a field of cows who like to take strolls every once in a while.  There are about 20 or so in the herd and ordinarily I cannot see them because their pasture is hidden behind a woodsy area.  However, I have had some up-close and personal meet and greets with these sociable animals.  On occasions, they have gotten out of their fenced-in areas; sometimes the wind has blown down the gates or some naughty (mean) boys have cut the wires and let them out to roam.

One night while we were driving home late on our dark, winding road, we were confronted by a group of these cows just hanging out along the roadside. We had to put on the brakes fast to keep from hitting one. The circumstance of this possible accident would be difficult to explain to our insurance agent as hitting a deer is one thing, hitting a cow, not so common.  The owner of the farm was not at home so we called 911 and police were sent out to round them up.  I am sure it was not a part of their job description, but what were we to do, there aren't any local cowboys. We retreated to our home and from our deck we watched as cars drove down the road, horns went off, cows mooed loudly and chaos ensued - all this at about 11 PM. 

A few years ago our family was relaxing in the backyard while our young grandchildren  were playing in a blow-up pool.  All of a sudden, out of the woods came four or five bovine who were quickly heading our way, possibly to have a drink out of the pool.  The brave men-folk shooed them away, but we all decided to sit up on our high deck for the rest of the day.  Over the years they have come by to nibble on our decorative cabbages in the front gardens, taken down our Christmas lights, or just strolled around our neighborhood leaving some good size piles of fertilizer behind.

Last year a group of them stampeded through our backyard pulling up much of hubby's prized lawn, leaving it look like a war zone.  It had been raining and the ground was soft and mushy and every step they made brought with it deep crevices. My husband was devastated at the sight of his perfect grass torn up and went out to do a CSI investigation. By their footprints, he determined it was 6 adult cows with a smaller calf accompanying them.  I did question his observation, but he was happy with his masterful analysis and what did it matter anyway.  Next day, he raked and reseeded the area and a few weeks later the grass came back to it former splendor.

Today, when I heard the mooing, I jumped out of bed and ran outside like a mad woman in my nightclothes looking for the errant cows.  I was a Mary Poppins look-alike, armed with an umbrella hoping to cut the vandals off at the pass and scoot them away from my house.  With the deluge of rain we have been having the past months, the yard is like a marshland and even if it was just one cow, quite a bit of damage could be done.  I'd like to say that I saved the day, but they were not in my yard, but rather up the road by their farmhouse.  It would have been nice to have been the hero, especially since I made such a spectacle of myself.   However, I live in a neighborhood where no one is ever home and if they are, most never stick their heads out the door.  I think I still have some of my dignity, my yard is intact and the cows found their way home.  All is good.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Retirement - The End of the World, No Big Deal

Time is getting shorter, but doing OK

Nuttiness, and why does the media love it.

According to some group, next Saturday is supposed to be the end of the world.  I am wondering if I should pay my bills or maybe just go to Cinnebon and eat every sticky bun they have just baked.  I have a family wedding that day, maybe I should write them and suggest that they take their honeymoon "this" week.  If there are only days left, what decadent thing should I embark upon because this may be my last chance.

Now I believe there is the possibility that human kind can call the shots on this and blow the world up.  What and who would be left;  probably just roaches, stink bugs and hedge-fund big-wigs.  There is so much money to be made on doom and gloom.

Every now and then we have these crazies out there with their predictions of annihilation for us all and they seem to be in their glory this year, or maybe it will happen next year and if that does not come about, well, they'll  have another date.

Me, I am going to pay my electric bill tomorrow and am planning on a good blooming season and a fun summer.  I also might eat a calorie-laden Cinnabon anyway, followed by some fine, fine wine.   Yum, life is good, especially if you ignore the naysayers and enjoy a scoopful of some sweet gooey substance with icing on top.

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Retirement - A River Runs Through It

I used to Fly Fish and did OK

My mid-life crisis as I remember it.

As I reached mid-life,  I felt a need to escape the rat race that I thought was taking over every waking moment of my life. A hobby that would take me out of my element and relieve stress was what I needed. My oldest two children were in college or finished and about to start their own lives but I was still raising two teenagers.  My days were about working, continuing my education and being responsible for the happiness and well-being of everyone in my life, whether they wanted it or not. I felt I was running as fast as I could but was never catching up.  I needed to find a place for myself, a place where I could find me (such a 90's thing). So what did the woman who was raised in Bronx, NY do, I took up fly fishing.  I had read a book, A River Runs Through It, and also saw the movie and thought, yep, that's for me.  I figured there would be no Brad Pitt character in my adventure, but the beauty of the sport and the artistry of the reel and line captured my imagination.  I went out and got all the equipment, which included a medium-priced rod and reel, waders, obligatory vest and tackle and I was all set to start on this new path to relaxation.  Fly fishing does not involve any slimy bait but rather crafted flies that are to resemble some kind of bug.  No muss, no fuss.  With the help of a manual, I practiced and practiced throwing out the line in my backyard until I was convinced that I had this baby down really well. I also took a trip to Vermont to attend a beginner's fly fishing school.  I now was ready to set off to find a watering hole and seize the day.  I drove around to the local creek beds until I found this lovely spot that was designated for "fly fishing only".  It was by this old covered bridge and was like a scene out of a movie - just what I was looking for.  Here I fished for about six years, going three to four days a week after work and sometimes on the weekends.  In all those years, I might have caught maybe twenty fish, but I could throw a nice line that would twirl and twirl until it would lay softly on the water.  That was quite a feat for me as I am sports handicapped.  I always looked forward to going to "my place" to enjoy not only the fishing, but also the magnificent landscape with all its birds and wildflowers.  It was my little heaven.   I have such good memories of those days, of the serenity, of the peace and just having a place for myself to think and dream.

When we moved to our new home about nine years ago, we actually were closer to my fishing hole, but there was so much to do around the house and my gardens became my new passion.  I did go fishing a few times when my son would invite me and hubby to accompany him on the first day of trout season at a stream near his home.  The first year I caught four or five fish, but also caught my waders on the thorns in the weeds surrounding the creek.  There were quite a few rips and was lucky that the water was slow and shallow and did not seep in and fill up my pants.  It is hard to walk with a river in your britches.  I also took a lot of flack from the men-folk  because I would scream with glee when a fish caught my line.  The second year we went, (with my waders glued up), it was a cold morning and it had rained quite a bit the day before.  You could see your breath in the air and the water was murky and running really fast.  Hubby, son and friend all fished with spinning reels so I walked a little downstream to a fly fishing area.  Because of the weather, I was wearing four layers of clothing, and was feeling quite comfortable.  Unfortunately, the rocks underneath were very slimy and slippery and as I said, the water was running fast.  We had gotten there early and were standing quietly in the water for at least fifteen minutes waiting for the 7 am start.  It was not crowded, as a matter of fact, there was only the four of us that I could see in our area.  One minute before kick-off time, I moved a little and slipped on some rocks and into the water I went.  I could not get my footing and with all the clothing I had on and the wader filling up,  I felt the rapid waters take me.  I was not going to let go of my new rod and fought to get up.  I was able to grab hold of some tree branches and saved myself from drowning and ruining the whole day for everyone.  My fishing mates, being further upstream, did not notice any of this action or hear the loud splash and went about their casting.  Our of breath and soaked to the skin, I needed some help but nobody heard me.  After a few minutes, my son's friend noticed me clinging to a side of a tree and calmly said "Your mother fell in".  They all came to my rescue and got me out of the water.  Andy gave me his jacket and made sure I was OK and asked what I wanted to do.  I did not want to wreck their day of fishing and said I would be fine and they could continue fishing, but the chattering of my teeth and the look of coming close to death on my face told them it was time to leave.  Besides, the splash I made in the water put an end to any fish biting for at least a few hours.  My son never asked me to go with him again because possibly the thought of his mother floating downstream was not a good image he wanted in his head.

Last month I went around taking pictures of the four covered bridges in our area and walked close to the place that I had spent so many hours standing and throwing my line out.  Nothing had changed, there were very few people around and the memories came flooding back.  I don't think I could make it up and down the banks like I used to, I probably cannot throw my line like before, and I don't think I have the patience or attention span to keep it up for more than 15 minutes now, but there is that serenity that I still search for, the wildflowers and the large birds that I loved to watch and I think, maybe, I should try again.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Retirement - A Mother's Love

Been there, done that and doing OK.

Mommy Dearest
red aluminum love heart
I am the mother of 4 adult children.  Today is Mother's Day and I want to say that I could not be prouder of the children I have raised.

My son Andy is my Pride.  He is the first born and the only son I have.  He has always been the most driven and because of his birth order in the family, he may have had the largest burden.  However, that is life and fortunately or unfortunately, that is his role.  The first born is your experiment and your practice child.  They are also the ones who you put all your hopes and dreams into and more is expected.  A few weeks after he was born my husband was transferred to a small town in Michigan called Bad Axe.  It was four blocks long, not exactly a hubbub of activity, and the three of us lived in a motel apartment for 18 months.  We knew very few people and had no interaction with others with babies.  We were on our own and every minute of my day revolved around me and my son. I had such great plans for him, he was my life.   At four months old as he would  love to grab at newspapers. We would lay the paper on the floor and as he would reach for it, we would slide it a few inches away so he would push himself to crawl to get it. How Tiger Motherish that sounds, ugh.   That child crawled at five months, stood at six months and walked at seven and a half months.  We thought this was normal.   I wanted to get him a piano on his first birthday so he could play at Carnegie Hall or the Met when he was five. Yes, we were a little bit obsessive.  Despite all our mistakes, my son has lived up to his role and is successful, however, more than that, he is a good man and a marvelous father.   I never got him the piano, he never played at the Met, but he and his son can play a mean game of Guitar Hero. I also love that they both like to sing and I believe that people who are melodious, have something special in their hearts.  He is my success #1.

Heather, my second born, is my Heart.  When she came into my life I had some experience under my belt, was much more realistic, and she was a very easy child.  She always wanted to please and I can think of very few times in her childhood when she gave me any problems.  Being my first daughter, I wanted things for her that were not available for girls of my generation.  Women's role in the 70's was changing and opportunities were now opening up.  Young girls could now have dreams and were not relegated to only certain jobs and careers.  She was never going to know about limits, about what girls could not do, only about what she wanted to do.  I encouraged her to think for herself and be the best she could be.  She did this and more. Heather' s heart is so big, her thoughts so idealistic and her kindness has no bounds.  She has a career she loves and young daughters who also appear to be free-thinkers. Her first child is only 6, but I see a future president of something there.  Success story #2

Third child Molly is my Smile.  This lovely person has made me laugh from the time she was born.  Sometimes she didn't mean to do this, it just came natural. At times, she had a problem being tactful but that always led to a good story and lots of giggling afterwards.   She was also a pleaser and so easy to get along with.  Like her brother and sister , she was a good athlete and because of that was able to travel overseas performing in gymnastic events.  My expression to her was "Yes, you can",  and she did.  People have always loved her and enjoy being around her and just as much as she is my daughter, she is my friend.  I beam with pride when I tell people I am her mother.  Molls has three beautiful, talented girls who look like her and are also a delight to be around.  They seem to have inherited so many of her traits and that makes me smile.  Success story #3. 

Last child is Sarah; she is my Adventure.  She was born 11 years after my first and four years after my third.  She was a gift.  When they handed me this beautiful child, she smiled. OK, I know it was probably gas, but I will always remember that look on her face.  When she came along, I was getting tired and not so idealistic anymore.  At this point in my life, I just wanted some quiet.  Her birth order dictated that what she wanted, she usually got.  Being the baby is a good position to be in.  Sarah has grown up to be a lovely woman and I so enjoy her company.  Her father dotes on her and she in kind to him.  She has that special something and brings so much joy to our family.  I am so proud of the person she has become and am so glad that I had that "one more" child.  Success story #4.

On this day, I want to thank my children for making my life so wonderful and fulfilling all my dreams of being a mother to such exceptional people.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Inspector

Repeating myself with an oldie today, but my life got busy and I am doing OK.

Looking for Perfection

Hubby has worked most of his life in Quality Control.  This is perfect for a person with borderline OCD.  Was he born this way?  Possibly, since he is the oldest and as we have all read in countless articles on the Internet, first borns are the most driven. I was second born and am more in the slower lane, although my family may have something else to say about that. I guess I have my own crazies, but that is another subject.

Hubby looks for mistakes, searches for imperfections and finds satisfaction in any flaw he finds. You say that is a negative trait, no, no, he will tell you.  It is necessary and the world and I am better off knowing what is wrong so these things can be corrected and then we will all live a more satisfying life. 

The question always arises in our family as what to get as a present for H.  Give him a sweater or shirt, he will look for the loose thread.  Any item you present to him, he will closely inspect, turning it over a few times and if he has not found any failings, he will smile and everyone will rejoice. 

Now that spring has arrived, he has accompanied me on my walk-abouts in the neighborhood.  We cannot go past two or three homes without his commenting on the state of someone's lawn.  Dandelions and flowering weeds are not permissible in his eyes.  However, now that most of the offending plants have gone away due to lawnmowers, he is having a more relaxed walk and I, a more pleasant one. 

As much as all of this drives me up a wall, I do see some merit in his quest for excellence.  Heck, we have lawyers out there raking in millions for mistakes people and companies make. None of us wants to be a victim of errors in judgement or product failure.  However, no one and no thing is infallible.  Living with inadequacies is a good thing, it helps put things in perspective.  Mistakes are made because we are human and we all learn more from these than our accomplishments. It is about realizing not everything is important, letting things go and smiling and laughing at our failings.

I must say though because hubby is hubby, my family has lived a good life. I do like that I can count on him to fix things, to have remedies for problems and because of his piccadillos, I always have a good story.