Circle tour of love…

The circle tour of love is winding down and I’ll be back home with Mr. Smith on Monday. He tells me he thinks about me constantly. He looks around the new apartment at all the boxes and thinks “I can’t wait for Stormy to get home and get these unpacked!” Soon, dearest, soon. But today I’m headed to State College, PA for a much anticipated visit with Eleanor.

I am thrilled to report that my intrepid mother-in-law weathered her surgery in fine form, came home the same day, and is well on the road to recovery.

She is one amazing woman.

After spending a few days with Pat while she recuperated, I went back down to my sister’s. My time there happily coincided with the Ann Arbor Art Fair. We planned strategically and attended early on opening day, scurrying home after a lovely late lunch, retreating back into the air-conditioned comfort of home during one of the worst heat waves in memory.

These cool concrete books in front of the William L. Clements Library on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, MI along the Art Fair route caught my eye.

I couldn’t be so close to my gaggle of granddaughters without popping up there for a visit. I took some vintage clothes pins and lots of trimmings of feathers, fabric, pom poms and sparkly pipe cleaners and we made clothes pin dolls.

This beauty was made by Emily.
Olivia never met a craft project she didn’t like!
Emily’s fairy doll.
Elizabeth was all about the pom poms!

Saturday night was back to my sister’s for a last lovely dinner out, complete with cocktails. I am delighted to have been able to make this trip, but I am looking forward to returning to the love nest in the sky and Mr. Smith, boxes and all.

C’est la vie.

Random Thoughts on a Summer Night…

I’m back at my sister’s for a short break before my circle tour back to Pennsylvania which will allow me to visit all my fun granddaughters.

The evening was spent sitting out on her shaded back patio, sharing the tasty Portuguese wine, Vinho Verde. Jeanne discovered Vinho Verde while living in Portugal and we have quaffed many a bottle together. It is a “green wine”, released within 3-6 months after the grapes are harvested. It has a low alcohol content, slightly effervescent, and perfect for sipping on a sultry summer evening.

While I lie stretched out on her chaise lounger and she sat at the bistro table, we were suddenly delighted by the appearance of flickering lightening bugs. This took us back to our Indiana childhood and summer evenings filled with hide and seek, games of tag, and catching fireflies. We would put them in a jar (of course, punching holes for air in the metal cap), believing they could be a bedside light to read by that evening.

Ours was a simple childhood where in the summertime we eagerly looked forward to visits to the root beer stand and a muggy night or two at the drive-in theater. After one trip for root beer floats, we laughed when our mother pulled our chubby baby brother from his primitive car seat. He’d become an inadvertent thief when out from between his roly poly thighs popped his baby beer mug which should have been returned to the tray! A trip to the drive-in meant big bags of popcorn made at home and shared in the way back of the boxy station wagon. We would take our pillow and a blanket and all stretch out and fall asleep long before we were home.

Not my brother, but that is the car seat!

Reminiscing and smiling about our childhood memories of simple pleasures reminded me to be mindful of the present. I want to slow down and savor some simple pleasures of the moment. Sharing a glass of wine with Mr. Smith and watching the sunset from our new love nest in the sky, an early morning walk along the Susquehanna, or indulging in a summertime treat are experiences we should revel in. I’m betting a root beer float tastes as good now as it did in 1960.

C’est la vie.

Fun in the sun…

After a long, cold, wet spring, the clouds have parted and the sun has burst forth. We are finally able to enjoy the season called summer. On your morning jog, walking your dog, or just enjoying the day and you happen upon a sweet little lemonade stand, stop and get yourself a taste of summertime.

I hope summer has come to wherever you are and you get to enjoy some warm weather activities with your family and friends. And happy birthday to my fabulous daughter-in-law, Becky, who gave me three amazing granddaughters.

C’est la vie.

If you can’t pay it back, pay it forward. Catherine Ryan Hyde

I’m on another solo road trip. Many hours of driving on Interstate 80, across Pennsylvania and Ohio, then turning north to my sister’s in Michigan. After 48 hours of big-sister love and pampering, I’m heading up to the Thumb this afternoon to be with my mother-in-law who is having surgery on Thursday. I’ll hang around for awhile for her to rest and get back on her feet.

In my never ending stream of consciousness way of thinking, musing about my mother-in-law led me to reflect on my own mother. My relationship with her was challenging at best. I was her sixth child and the novelty of caring for yet another little one had long worn off. But at age 63, I believe I have grown as a person and gained some vision and perspective. She had a very sad childhood, losing her own mother when she was two years old. Her early life was filled with hardship and loneliness, leaving her ill-prepared for the demands and challenges of motherhood.

One of my mother’s truths was that she had to take a taxi home from the hospital with her newborn baby because her first husband was nowhere around. When I contrast this with the birth of my own sons and the treatment I received from my husband, it makes my heart ache for her. While I received flowers, tender attention and special meals, she was left to fend for herself at a time she must have been feeling vulnerable and anxious.

My mother with her first born child in 1941.

So while I can’t “pay it back” and drive my mother home from the hospital with her new baby and make her feel special, I can “pay it forward” and attend to my widowed mother-in-law at a time she must be feeling vulnerable and anxious.

The women of the world tend to be the caretakers of the family, starting with making sure everyone is bathed, clothed and fed. My mother raised seven children, my mother-in-law raised eight. While I can no longer help my late mother, I’m grateful to be able to do a small act of kindness for a woman who has done so much for others.

C’est la vie.

“In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.” Barack Obama.

We are settling into the love nest in the sky. On the fourth, we managed to actually have dinner at the dining room table, looking out the windows on all the action below. We watched people walking over the bridge to Kirby Park where the fireworks would be set off. Instead of sitting on a yard chair or plopped on a blanket in the park, we watched from the comfort of our new home!

Next year we hope to host friends and family and share our fabulous view!

I’m off on a road trip tomorrow, leaving Mr. Smith to handle some fine tuning of the apartment. He is more than up to the challenge.

C’est la vie.

Moving on up…

Move in day started early yesterday with a 4:30 a.m. fire alarm at our hotel. Happily, no one was injured, but we could have used a little more sleep! We were eventually allowed back into the hotel. We tried to get a little more sleep but knowing all our worldly possessions were on their way, it was hard to go back to sleep. So, we got ready to roll, grabbed Starbucks and went to the new apartment.

Waiting on the movers.
View from the living/dining room.

The movers arrived and proceeded to get everything off the truck, into the elevator and up to our apartment.

EVERY room in the apartment is now filled with boxes, paper, and our stuff. While we are still a long way from having everything in its place, we are on our way. And having been up since 4:30, we agreed Rome wasn’t built in a day and that it would all be there for us (me) in the morning. We ended the day with drinks and dinner, toasting this great adventure of life.

Cheers to a new adventure…

C’est la vie.

Unsolicited advice from an aging Duchess…

This post is not for the mature woman who strives to look 30 despite her hair greying and thinning, and her skin slowly wrinkling and acquiring Pollack like age spots. This is for the ladies who accept aging as a gift (the opposite is the grim reaper) and settle into the advantages of attaining the high numbers (remember 100=perfect). While it seems our younger sisters and brothers believe growing old is a dire fate, many of us that have reached the exalted heights discover there are real pluses up here. 

Dylan Thomas, phrase, “Do not go gently into that good night” does not suggest torturing your body with cosmetic makeovers and extreme diets in order to attain the ‘you look so rested and 10 years younger’ look. Let’s look to the positive side…the advantages to growing older…maturing…surviving in spite of your kids…winning!

Yesterday I was pre-shower when the whimsical thought flitted through my brain, should I perform the boring task of shaving my legs. I noticed that thanks to poor eyesight and less hormones my leg hair is thinning and disappearing.  Yeah thought I, a perk for growing old. No longer a slave to the stupid pastel ‘feminine razor’. So what other perks have I been overlooking.

Our bodies. Ladies surely you have noticed that the shape you have at 50 is pretty much your shape. Almost none of us is satisfied but as all the articles lecture us…live with it or change it and I’m guessing mostly we continue to grumble and do not really accept it. That soft tire around our middle is not going to go away…mine makes me think I’m 4 months pregnant again…and I smile. I liked being pregnant. I consider it my grandmother silhouette. The plus is we have a new creative chore though not always easy, to discover which clothing styles suit and flatter our new shape. Believe me there really is something for everyone.  You can camouflage your loss of a waist, if that’s your issue, by finding flattering tunics in fetching (good word, right) colors or neutrals. One rule for myself (sadly, quite short in stature) is to dress in the same color top and bottom. A monochrome outfit adds inches to my dumpy frame. Yes, like my ancestors…I’m dumpy but fun. Look at magazines for pics of mature actresses…they have talented stylist to assist them but they can be a great source of inspiration.

Another fabulous advantage to aging is Mother nature gives you the trendiest hair color for free. Embrace the silver, love the grey…tons of teens are stealing our color palate. Plus there are dozens of different shades of grey. It also gives you an excuse to acquire some new wardrobe pieces in yummy soft greys, creams and blacks to freshen up your look. Add a bright pop of color scarf for meetings and evenings out and add some great silver earrings to compliment your hair.

Okay…now cosmetics. Buy less!  If you wear makeup, time to ease up. You should be wearing less because your finer skin may nor support heavy coverage. You will look fresher and younger with less. And it saves you time and lots of money but do purchase a good moisturizer. Your local drug store has several very effective reasonably priced ones. The days of peacock eyeshadows and heavy red lips are gone. They may still be fun for 20 year olds but a soft lip gloss, brow pencil, if needed and a brush of mascara should easily get through most days unless you have a hot date or are accepting an Oscar!

Now let’s address our foundation…not girdles or makeup ladies, our feet.  Our doctors and science tell us ‘high heels ruin our feet and our backs’, so unless some fab shoe designer is slipping you thousands of greenbacks to model his 6” stilettos, now is the time to discover comfort. There are thousands of cool and comfy footwear styles to choose from on this planet.  Women speak with their wallets. Demand for more comfortable footwear is a result of our buying power. This has led to wide spread acceptance of flats and athletic shoes. The younger generation led the way on this one, Bless them. Check out red carpets and the Met Ball. Gold sneakers are the bomb!  SAVE your back and SAVE your feet.  You’ll thank me later.  However ladies, if you must have a heel, my favorite, the kitten heel is back making a welcome reappearance. They’re feminine but not torture.

Time now becomes our most valuable asset.  If you no longer have a 9-5 and have more control over that valuable asset, you may now choose what, where, and how to spend those valuable hours. Catch up with friends and family, books you have put off reading, hobbies or sports you have always longed to try, there are neglected movies and music to enjoy.  All the things you delayed doing or experiencing because life, jobs and kids came first. Volunteering can be great fun. The library, your local hospital, charities or schools always need help. A wonderful advantage besides feeling useful is you will discover lots of new friends and lunch buddies. 

Now admit it ladies…you are wiser. That ol’ chestnut is really true. It’s as if without the everyday stresses and demands of our earlier lives our brain somehow relaxes. It may not be scientific but we senior chicks just know it.  We often see issues and problems through a  historical lens…been there, done that, or certainly seen it or heard about it.  Experience and age…gifts we now have.  A wealth of ideas, knowledge, thoughts and opinions are inside those aunts and uncles, grandparents, and elder friends that can prove a source of wisdom if any brave soul will inquire. I think the most intriguing attribute we seniors have is often a firm opinion…the ‘funest’ of all.  

So the lesson to be learned is…aging can be pretty okay. Shave less, spend less on unnecessary crap, do things you have put off, buy a few new duds. Appreciate and care for your body and soul and best of all share the thoughts and opinions that have been piling up in your cerebellum for all these years, even if no one asks. We’re old, it doesn’t matter who is listening. We no longer give a damn!

jgk