bravo, Real Housewives

Bravo, Bravo, Bravo

Bravo is defined as an exclamation or cry out when a performance is done well. When said in a string of three, it is also defined, as breaking the fourth wall and ending filming. The word is now synonymous with the self-named channel that aligns itself with our desire to watch housewives that bring their best lives, to the next level, for viewers that need an escape. It is entertainment based on some sort of reality. Just not 99% of us. Nope, sipping champagne on yachts is not reality for the masses, nor is the level of attire and handbags strolling fancy streets in a variety of continents. Nope. I do not see this in Walmart. But, I love it! I am a fan of this disproportionate showing of all of this excess in a reality world gone wild. Sadly, it is no longer the best experience by any performance. It is, however, a modern day soap opera with a newer twist that might be the death of the “real” experience. Politics, race, and questionable housewives.

Politics. We all have our right to believe in whatever ideology we desire. But it is getting obvious that a certain political party creates a less popular housewife. It should stop. Did we know what party ideology of Erika on AMC. Nope. We were happy and ran to our sets everyday to see what was in store for her next. I arranged my ASU classes around AMC and watched everyday in our sorority chapter room. We all needed a break. Politics never entered our fantasy worlds, in our original soapy escapes, why should they now? Your viewers do not care who pulled the lever for who. We don’t. We want to see the trips, the bags, the petty fighting, and follow the pot-stirer and all their naughtiness. Thank you. If we want politics we would not be watching Bravo. Truly.

Race. This has been a mess. May the casting be open and wide and choose who you may…but please do not cast based on a particular race and then hammer that poor gal all season. RHOD. Enough said.

Housewives in perile. Ok, we have had a few that have done their time. We have. But, in style and taking ownership, for their mis-deeds. Ok, it was all wrong. But you brought the fantasy into their severe reality enough to balance the show. It worked. But currently, there is a very fancy member who is surpassing the masses believability that this was all an oops or a rehab moment a la RHONY or the sacrifical lamb going down with the hubs RHONJ. This one is special and with every show her grasp on reality is slipping, as is yours. Now, of course I base this on a documentary, hearsay, and gossip. The obvious mainstays to how your fans gain the news. This situation has a special smell to it, as the lifestyle that she lived and bragged about, is far more excessive than the others who have a more substantial net worth. Why showcase her? A story? Ratings? I hope she saves her salary. She is going to need every dime.

So, while I will always be a fan, I find myself turning to the past shows more than the present. The hair, makeup, and noses are dated. But the trips, pettiness, and the pot stirrers are front and center. These were the initial reasons the franchise became a success. We could turn for escape not political banter or race blunders, just escape and in 2021 we could all use a bit of that. Our plates are rather full.

echelon, fitness, goals, grey hair, keto, life, Peloton

Upping My Game

This year has been, well sloppy, casual. A bit eh. We all know that. I thought I was doing it ok. Working out, eating ok, but I decided to look in the mirror. Really look. Take stock. Someone should have warned me. While, this moment had to happen. It hurt. But it should have been, just a day of reckoning, as opposed to a pulling the covers over my head moment. I did this to myself. I knew. I was just hiding under well lit filters.

Ok, my hair has been grey since thirty and hidden under a myriad of colors. I just got tired of changing my reality. But no matter, how great your hair is, and mine qualifies for true silver greatness. Thanks dad. The color ages you. Truth. Moving on. Eyes filled with laugh lines. Check, and I like my sweet mappings of my soul. A forehead line that is beyond Botox. Obviously, I must walk around with a quizzical look 24/7. My ship is now S.S. Nip and Tuck Land. I am waving that on, as I am cheap, and afraid of pain. So, to combat further drooping. The technical term used. Lovely. Insert ugly emoting and eye-rolling. My facialist suggested this gadget that works on the neck and eyes. It might be working. But truthfully, I have my doubts, but going to keep up with this electrode skimming routine. You never know. The hubs has seen this process only once. He stood and stared. I stared back and said, “Do you really want to know? Because I can tell you the science behind this thing if you have an extra twenty minutes?” He ran. Good. The whole process of tightening my face is rather horrifying. So, until they make a lift that is budget friendly and pain free. It is the natural aging look for me. Now, my mom has zero big lines, my grandmother zero big lines, me, I got my dad’s Irish face. Can’t hide a thing. So, I am assuming this eye-lid discoloration and thinning lashes is also an Irish trait. Why hurt one group with such vengeance? Is it because we know how to have fun in life? Anyway, one day my lids were this odd reddish-blue color and lashes invisible. This was horrifying. No getting rid of this disaster. Just more creams, covers, prescription lash growth serum, makeup, but not too much, or it will age me. Or so they say. Yikes. So, after many bottles, brands, skin care lines. I have settled to what works. For now. Next year. Who knows. Since, I do not get paid…but would welcome any product. I use Bare Essentials, everything and Armani for more coverage. Please, contact. Because we all need a 58 year old influencer in life. Hah. My facial products live in a constant level of retinol. Day and night. Some prescription, some from French Pharmacies, oh the heaven. Some drugstore. Yes, they work. But not on my forehead.

That was just the face. But while I was there I noticed my cheeks puffed. I look like a chipmunk when I smile, so I am giving up on my usual happy look, and I love to smile, and going with that RBF a la nose up high to slim the neck. It works, looking younger and kinda feeling myself for this age defying trick that works, only if you seated or posed against a wall. But, it works. Life gets in the way, however. Walking, working, bending, and trying not to smile are all too much. Back to the facial map of 58. Eh.

If my cheeks were my only puffed area, I would be fine. Nope the blinders are truly off, and I looked below my neck. The effects of 2020 are now obvious and while not alone. I have to step up my game. Not only for a “look” but a true realization that my puffy cheeks and other areas came from a love affair with carbs and sugar. I am addicted. I do not just enjoy the foods but think about them, plan meals around them, sneak extra, and feel guilt. Great. Rehabilitation, here I come. The difference in this addiction from others, is that we are all addicted to the hidden goodies, at some level. I am just extreme.

I am tackling this hurdle in steps. As cupcakes are akin to life, as is champagne, and the combo is heavenly. You can see this will be a challenge. Today, I gave up just bread. All. Good-bye. Now, a potato can still pass my lips. As well as higher carbohydrate fruit. The list of low carb fruit is truly depressing. Think berry and only berry. Good-bye orange, grapefruit, watermelon, grapes. Insert berries and only berries. Not happening now, I need time. On the 29th of June major groceries are entering our home, along with the word I cannot stand, cooking. Worse yet, with fresh ingredients that must be chopped. This is a whole different world and one that is necessary for success. If others can do this, I can as well. It can’t be that hard and I am choosing easy recipes. Really easy. On this date, good-bye all white flour, bread, and potatoes. But keeping fruit. My fruit. Great fruit. Sweet fruit. This is however only lasting a week. The next week. July 5th I will be between 20-30 grams of carbs and little to no sugar and learn to love strawberries. It can happen.

My goals are simple. First, not to kill anyone in my house during these first few weeks. Secondly, to lose weight. How much? Twenty would be great, twenty-five to thirty would take me into a look I have not seen in awhile. So, while the number is not carved in stone, eating in a healthy manner without the yo-yo gain/loss metric that is tied to carbs and sugar. My new life. A healthier life for the long-term that will give me the daily energy to chase 6th graders and head into the weekend and not collapse. It would feel great. As the fatigue and FOMO has got to go!

This bravery, to truly take stock, came from far too much eating on a road-trip, and the over absorption of true quiet and cooler temperatures. I thank and blame the quiet for this introspection and setting course a plan of action. Now, planning is simple, actually exciting and with every passing day I get a bit more nervous. Not about the plan, but the slip, fall, deep dive into a bottle of champs and a box of cupcakes. That is horrifying. There are no 12-step programs for loving carbs and sugar, it is left up to each of us, to find the inner strength and say goodbye. I am finding answers in books, facebook groups, and following keto lifestylers on Instagram. No answers. Just a bond. I have to find my own way on this journey. I will. If I can do my century ride. I can do anything! And besides, I do need to up my game! 😉

life

Father’s Day Stories

The title is basic, but with the deadline looming, this is all I got. I know this will not be a hallmark moment but I celebrate each father in my life through story. Each story is real and sums up their skills at the fathering stuff and what they have taught me along the way about being truly fantastic dads and a better human. I love them all!

I am going in order. First, my grandfather. Yes, deceased, but not to be forgotten. He helped raise me. Long story and not the point. He was a former NYPD Police Officer. Quiet. Very. My grandmother was the talker of the two. My grandfather had true kindness in his soul. Never was there a day that he was rude, to anyone. Ever. The slow driver. It was OK, we are not in a rush. The cocky athlete (at night he worked at the Arizona Coliseum). They were rude because they were tired or lost a big game. A “customer” of the public library not returning his greetings, by day he was security at the Phoenix Public Library. They did not hear him. He thought the best of people, always. In return, he was everyone’s favorite, everywhere. My best moments with my grandfather were at the deli, we went weekly. The deli guy always gave him extra of anything he wanted. He always asked for extra bagels, because of my grandmothers daily bagel habit. He got it, plus I got a wink and the shhh sign, as he piled in extra pastrami, a salad, or corned beef into his slim personal order for his weekly lunches. The deli guy knew he took two lunches a day, to get through his day shift and night shift, and if there was not enough deli, he would get leftovers. Grandma, was not a good cook. The deli guy saved him. My grandfather would have not accepted the gesture and always acted surprised with the extras when my grandmother calculated the bag. It worked. He always thought of others first, and spent everything he had on them. He was the best overall human and I miss him daily. I would like to say he taught me true kindness, and self-sacrifice. He did. Along with the art of a great nap. He could sleep anywhere at anytime. There are stories of him sleeping through his subway stops. Right there with you grandpa, sans the subway. You would be proud of my napping skills and the kindness and patience I use daily in my classroom. Thank you for raising me and being the best role model a kid could have! Happy Father’s Day!

My dad. He is a book, by himself. Let’s just say his stories are his to share, not mine. I met my dad later in life as my parents divorced in my early years. Throughout the years I would visit once or twice a year. But always for Christmas. My favorite memory was our car rides. To the store, to a family members house, on an errand…wherever. I loved driving with him. We would talk, but most of the time, I would just listen. As I was more fascinated with the stories of his life and filling in the pieces about my own. One Christmas, he told me were taking a detour as we headed back to the house from some shopping. He did not say where we were going but it was not in a neighborhood near the house. He got quiet as he drove and launched into a story about the drunk homeless and how they had buddies to protect them. He knew where we were going from the purposeful turns and from the response he received when he got out of the car. He gave each group of guys $100 bucks. We found three groups that night. They greeted him, took the money, and blessed him. Each time he got back in the car, he was quiet. After we could find no more. He said, “That will help them for a couple days. I hope they eventually see the light and get help.” My dad taught me the good, bad, and the ugly about life through his own stories and how each of us has the power to write our own story. Change our story. Or, if a chapter is a bit bumpy, we have our own power to smooth out the ending. If we are willing to work. Thank you, dad for teaching me about all the rough times. You gave me hidden skills that I use daily in this crazy world. Happy Father’s Day!

My hubs. He gave me our one and only. The kid who is turning thirty. So the adult. KWL was born with an eating challenge and this was tough on us mentally, physically, and financially, in the early years. The hubs sat me down in our first long-term hospital visit and simply said. “We will beat this. We will not give up. You will get tougher and rise to any occasion and I will make sure we can afford it all.” Which we couldn’t. So our journey began, in the children’s playroom, at Stanford Hospital. It was the last tear I shed, in public. Feeding tube, piece of cake. Financial testing and new job. Done. Fancy feeding machine. Thank you Amex. The best tubes money could buy. Done. A triple order of them. Done, as the kid ripped out his monthly tubes every single day. Done and ouch. In hindsight, tube ripping should have been a sign to his eventual stubbornness, but I was busy. We continued the ripping and sinking for six months. He was tube free at nine months and by twelve months he had made the weight chart. By three, he was scoring goals in little person soccer and by four no weight issues were noted on his chart. When he walked onto the field he was the tiniest soccer player, catcher, and toughest pitcher that other parents ignored, he would be that bench kid. Nope. I just kept saying keep your head up and stay focused. The kid never doubted me and the hubs kept cheering us on and supporting my own daily doubts and fears. The kid scored the goals, caught the balls, and threw harder than boys twice his age. He never bragged. Dad never bragged. I bragged for both of them. Someone had to do it! Instead, he helped the underdogs. Always. On the side he would race the slower kids to help their speed, kick balls with the middlefield kids, who preferred butterflies, and played catch with anyone even if they kept dropping the ball. At baseball one day, he put his arm around a kid and said, “You will get it, just keep your head up and stay focused.” I cried. Take that sports moms. Never sat out a game. Ever, and told dad about every moment and never begrudged him not being there at a game. He knew where he was and both of us accepted that reality. So when a speech challenge arose, private therapy, and private schools were supplied a la dad and his long hours at the office. When the kid was “found” by a tennis coach, he fell in love with the sport, and it became his sport. The hubs made it happen, as he was a great dad. His role was not to be at home. He got sidelined and missed the big stuff so he could provide for us financially, as our life as parents took a turn upon birth. Feeding machines and Stanford therapy ain’t cheap. So choices were made and the hubs gave us the gift of ability. None of this came from me, it was the hubs, working his a** off so he could provide. You can argue he missed the best of times, but I disagree, he coached me through the worst and had an overview of it all along the way. Now, he gets to fully enjoy being a grandfather and that is a double joy for him and a thrill for me to watch! Happy Father’s Day!

The kid. I know your first thought… biased. Nope. I call it like I see it. A Sugar-coated life is not my style. Obviously, I became a grandmother. Cue the trumpets. I was made for this life. But oddly, I was nervous to see my son as a father. Walking into my first glimpse of their journey is drilled in my head forever. He was sitting in the hospital room just cradling the nugget. Mom, “This is your grandson.” I shook my head to acknowledge the statement, and said. “Yes, more importantly this is your son.” We giggled, cried, and kept smiling at the perfection. He went onto explaining the skin to skin process, taught me how to diaper by showing off his diaper technique, and then I held him, the kid by my side. No longer my little boy. A dad. And three years later these two have formed a bond for life. Dad is the protector from all things bad and scary, the park dad, the swim dad, the everything dad. He is what a little boy could ever want, and need. I love to listen to the kids stories of the nugget doing something new or extra cute, or playing at the nuggets park, a visit to great-grandma, going to speech, or even a grocery store outing is an adventure for my boys. Anything and everything is told to me with a glimmer in his eyes that is so precious. Now, the kid has given up a full-time life outside of the home, for physical reasons, but that means he was given the golden opportunity to be just dad. A true gift. And just a dad he is not. He is so much more. He has taught me to truly trust in who I have raised and reap the joy from this grandparent gig. He’s got this. Kid, you have been blessed with the gentleness of your great-grandfather, the empathy and compassion of your grandfather, and the toughness of your father. You will pass all of this on in your own way and in your time. I can’t way to watch! Happy Father’s Day!

So, to my pops, hubs, and the kid. Look at your kids, hold them dear, and try to remember every moment fondly, even when they are not. Especially, to the newest member of the dad clan, when you find your mind dulling or you are scraping playdough off the dining table for the umpteenth time. These times will pass and you will miss playdough. I do.

Happy Father’s Day!

life

Internet is More Than Social Media. So Much More…

Life without internet is a place where you will never know who made the “it” list of anything. Sad. Where directions are to anything. Lost. How long to cook a three-minute egg. Oh, that is a given. But the how-to is my need. Pot, skillet, microwave? How? Hungry. Confused and literally with egg on my face, I used the microwave. Not the correct answer. You are welcome. I would post the picture but the hubs drew the line. “People will think you are stupid.” “No, just untalented in the kitchen.” I blurted back. “Intelligence and kitchen skills do not tie together in my world.” He just walked away and shook his head. The picture was a hard nope for him. He won. Probably right. I know the truth.

Try living without the internet. No google, directions, maps, or social interactions. You can’t, it’s hard. We are ingrained into this culture, like it or not. Yesterday, I had to order transcripts. I called. Big mistake. The young man on the other end asked for my email address when I entered school. I laughed. I told him I did not have one. He intellectually debated me, I let him, and finally he looked at my transcript, and back-peddaled. “Sorry ma’am, there was no internet.” Yes, I became one of those. Probably, the story of his day.

As vacation at camp continues the non-internet thing becomes a thing. A real thing. Not terrible, just an adjustment and a diet of frozen foods and a view.

fitness, grey hair, life

Big News.

But I can’t tell. Story of my life. The end.

No, but I tell you something much more interesting and a little off color. Gotcha. I have my Grandmother’s rear-end. I am PG. You were expecting a**. Not gonna happen. I always have had this caboose, it was just smaller pre-50’s. Not pretty. Hers was like that reality show family without the designer excess and no plastic enhancing. But it looked right. Always did. Now mine is also all mine, but the look is something to hide. Truly, no real pride, just a fact that I am trying to remove it. Quickly.

My grandmother, always complained she was overweight. She was 5’1″ and maybe 105 pounds. All in her caboose. But she looked awesome even before the rear-end was in vogue. To her that’s all she saw and she hated it just like we all hate our parts that are imperfect. Now she would be a rockstar. Which she was. In her own plastic covered couch, eat burned chicken kind of way. But her love was enormous and made up for her peculiarities. Did I mention she had zero wrinkles? Zero. She loved that about herself. It made the less perfect tolerable and she would glow when others guessed her age, usually far younger than her reality.

She was her own gal. Never met anyone like her. I miss her daily. I remember telling her goodbye and that it was OK to go and hangout with grandpa…but it wasn’t. Well, it was. Kinda. She had dementia and in the final stages it was bad. She left a few days after I told her to go…it was time. But I miss her, her terrible cooking, and how she always took a half of a bagel in her purse for after dinner treat, no matter the restaurant star level, the bagel was in tow. She had the other half that morning. Always. She took her own tea bags as well, and consistently asked me if the waiter would be mad that she just wanted hot water for dessert. Every single dinner outing. The same questions and the same begging. “Tracy, Sam (grandfather) he will see me with my tea and bagel, order something for dessert.” I obliged so the waiters stayed away. No one ever cared. If the waiter was lucky they were treated to her reason for bringing her own carbs and tea to the game. To keep them simple she even told the story in sequence and very quick to the point and if they asked it went something like this:

1. No sugar did she ever eat accept for her one bagel a day and her one apple or orange. Never more. Ever!

2. These were Jewish bagels. Not regular bagels and she would argue the difference.

3. Her tea was better than any restaurants. It was Lipton, but why fight. She also thought she would be charged. Again, agreeing was easier.

My grandfather and I would truly try to keep this story under wraps as we understood how crazy it sounded, but how happy it made her. More than anything it was her way to save a buck or two. She grew up with thirteen brothers and sisters. They packed their snacks if they were lucky enough to go to the movies. Packing was ingrained in her from a young age. So as for the rear. It did not come from her one bagel a day habit. She was just blessed and she was, but next to that famous reality show family, I have never seen anyone more obsessed with their tuchus.

So, where is this headed. Back to the beginning, I suppose. Big news, and a rear to shrink, quickly. But if my grandmother were still alive she would take my hand and reassure me that I am perfect and quickly distract me with a complaint about her day, as it was really Sylvia’s world, and we were just part of it.

Love you Grandma!

anxiety, book, epilepsy, grey hair, life, non-fiction

The Book

It has no title or direction. My writing is a bit like my anxiety driven mind. All over the place. On some days I feel I can create a children’s book, but then I wake up and realize I cannot write about a woke unicorn. Nope. My writing for children would sound old-fashioned, I would be labeled something I am not, and the book would sit on shelves. Moment over.

Fitness, cooking, self-help, or a how to do anything book. I think not for obvious reasons. Not fit, can’t cook, and my help would just result in head-shaking and confusion. As for how to do something. I have dabbled in many and mastered none, can I teach that. Again, I think not.

So with my slim audience. Unless you want to go down the road of addiction, multiple family divorces, or living with a quiet disease. Nope. Eh, the epilepsy, I own, but no one else signed up for this mess. So, while I will elude to my experiences, I am not pointing fingers. Still no book.

Politics. Nope. Nope. Nope. I have too much respect for those who give of their lives to move the needle of change. But I might share a few fun facts I learned from the political road I traveled. Still no tah-dah moment. No title, no main idea, no nothing or is this everything. Perhaps.

Back to the drawing board. Nope. Got this. My two readers, ok, three…as I will make the kid read the book, are going to take a trip through a collection of stories, all real, with some occasional embellishment for entertainment, that I have lived. My real life sprinkled with stories that see the wonder and humor in the bizarre situations that I have called this thing called life.

Untitled, at least for awhile.

A Frame, grey hair, retirement, travel

City Girl Guide to Neebish

Neebish is antiquated. TV is huge and internet is a cost we will attain once the house is completed. But these nods from the past, while frustrating, also sum up life in the UP in a great way. An ancient quote sums up Neebish. “If I can sweep the train of my gown in the same grand fashion as Mrs. James Schoolcraft, an original settler, as she walked up the stairs of the little mission chapel, life would be worth living.” Gowns have been replaced but Neebish is still an area of old-fashioned manners, church goers, and simplicity. Truly, a look into the past while embracing the future. Kinda. But…while the present is creeping onto the island, with cost, patience, and a changing population there is a charm that will never change and important lessons to be learned when faced with island life.

1. Gowns are obviously no longer worn. The garb of today is something out of an outdoor magazine. Hiking boots, socks (a must on humid days, who knew), hats with a chin strap that avoids the ever-present fly away syndromes, and anything cotton on humid days. Anything warm on any other day. Matching is optional. No one will ever know. Ever.

2. When walking always have a walking stick. No, not the type you buy at a sporting goods store, the one that finds you. Right. The hubs says it is just like finding your wand from that infamous wizard movie series. Yes, that one. Sure it is. Exactly. Once you have your stick, you beat bushes to keep animals away and twirl it over your head like a baton to keep flies away when hiking. I have no words for this and was laughing too hard to capture a picture. No sticks have asked me to take them home. I will wait. Never liked my baton. Currently, when I hear anything on our hikes, I run and scream. So far, so good.

3. Before going to a small town consider that they might be a dry town (they exist) and do not order before looking at the menu. You will be embarrassed. Trust me. Also, when ordering a cappuccino realize that you might get an odd look. Really odd. Again, trust me.

4. Humidity sucks.

5. Enchanted forests are not really magical unless you are three or your husband is trying to entertain you as you fight off bugs. If you are with my hubs and he says you are going through a magical anything, tell him to eff off, grab his walking stick, twirl until the bugs are dizzy and run. Why run? He will obviously be pisssd that you have his magical stick that “found them.”

6. Understand, that in tiny towns a cappuccino ain’t happening. Nope. Also, try to contain your expression of confusion when they are excited to make their first latte, as no one has ordered one yet. Yup. I was a first. It is still 2021. I checked.

7. Internet. It’s an issue. Big issue. Don’t be shocked when shops don’t use it or if they do they do not share it. At all. Get used to holding your phone high to capture that strained signal from Canada. Or, like me, keep trying to convince the hubs that a mobile unit would work. Just be prepared to be frustrated and disconnected from life.

8. Watching the water is a hobby.

9. Watching freighters is a hobby and knowing your freighters is plus during meetups at the ferry for conversation starters. Actually, it is the main conversation on and off the island and the only conversation aside from weather, a local gathering, or animal siting. Locals, just point at me like and call me a boujie gal, as something to them is either missing or very extra in their world. Yup. Totally. Not changing. Cappuccino please.

10. Driving. Now, we normally live in Arizona. The streets are set out in a grid pattern, I was born with no sense of direction, so my bestfriend is Gertrude, my GPS. We go everywhere together. She never complains when I get lost and I can set her to any language. She loves her native British accent and prefers to be called Gertie. There are no animals running around or strange water coming from the sky at any given moment, usually without warning, and rather violent in its fall. Nope. Dry, blue skies are my traditional driving world. Neebish is driving for the crazy. First of all, it is an island, and while that seems obvious, circular with all roads leading back home, not so much. Signs. Yes, kinda. But not GPS registered. So, I am screwed and have to memorize locations and turns. This is bad enough for the direction challenged. To get to town, one gets on a ferry. Cue in extreme anxiety. Yup. Not pretty. Now, I have never minded being a passenger but driving on a floating ship in a big ton truck was enough to set me into overdrive. I clenched the wheel the entire time. Stupid yes, but comforting. Looking straight ahead, trying not to vomit. Plus, I was with the hubs, who feels everyone should drive fast, never get lost, and know how to read a map. How we married I will never know. Once I was released from my ferry hell. My directions were to go straight at a speed I was not comfortable with. All I could think about on the open road with fields all around, was killing a sweet Bambi, who wandered away from her group. Now the cars behind me were forming a nice parade line. In my mind they could slow down, wave to the obviously watching animals, and chill. What was the hurry. Was honking truly necessary? In my hubs mind, they were going to hit us, just to prove their island life point. It was all too much. I pulled over and gave up the wheel seven miles before our final destination. I will do this again, probably alone, and slower. So what did I learn, other than never to drive with my husband? I learned that to get the best spot on the ferry ask the captain and give him a wink. It will always work. Trust me.

So, with these basic skills mastered, especially the stick twirling, you can conquer life in its utmost of peacefulness. The only stressor that exists is the possibility of missing the ferry and having to head back to town, have lunch or dinner, and head home a bit later. Other than that. No concerns, and a life worth living even without the gown.

caregiver, grey hair, life, retirement

The Facebook

I like to believe I could give up on The Facebook if it were not for my mom, my Miss Brenda. Mmm. Maybe not, but I believe I could. Now, The Instagram and The Twitter, never. My mom inserts the “the,” not my terminology, as I am social media savvy. So I think. Actually, I know I am not. I am 58 my generation is just cocky not savvy at social stuff. How could I toss away the connection I get with the same ten friends over and over…I mean they are sick of me. I could leave. Frankly, kinda sick of them. Sorry. I could leave. So, I must stay for the forward thinking ads that take me down rabbit holes and mine for information. Yes, that is it. Google knowing my every move is an inviting reason to carry on this love/hate relationship. Something to stay for. Nope. The games. They are stupid and after I play them I never post my answers, due to the embarrassment, of playing them in the first place. Nope. Nope. Nope. So, the question remains, why not just hit that delete button, that never really deletes you, but it must feel amazing once pressed. Just think, a life you do not share, overshare, or have a need to share. I understand that many live like that, but if there was a twelve-step program for social media, I would be on it. No, I stay for my Miss Brenda.

Please note: I love my mom to pieces this is just how my brain and how our relationship works. Phew. Hopefully, this is understood. Don’t want to be labeled as that mom hating blogger because I use a moniker other than mom. Not me. At all. Let’s carry on.

My Miss Brenda is what they call her at her senior living facility. It has stuck with me. In a way it was my transformation that I am now really the mom. Yup, two kids. Thirty and eighty-one, they never played well. Sharing was a bitch. They never really got it. Actually, neither did I…the only child syndrome and all. I digress.

We have had our challenges beyond the usual mother/daughter stuff. But our love is real. Very. She is pretty, very social, and stands her ground. Now. But in her former life she ran away from controlling parents that led her to controlling men. Never physically hurt. Just emotional hurt. Her Romeo was never to be hers, and frankly, I am not sure she ever got over that moment in her life. Maybe. We don’t bring it up. It is all water under the bridge that will be in her lasting memories. Along with The Facebook. Sweet, actually. Cue a Shakespeare soliloquy.

Back to the title. The concept of a phone that does more than call is foreign. Very. I spent two hours times two days in Verizon with her, it was not enough. But if you need a new carrier I recommend them as being the kindest souls on the planet, my business is with them for life. Anyway, we learned texting. That worked. We even got that special stylus that made her feel fancy. Very fancy. I bought a pack of them. Just in case. Then she found facebook one day. “Tracy, my friend taught me about something today. It’s called The Facebook. I can see everyone’s lives.” Great. Within the first week she was hacked, the second week I started receiving odd messages from my Miss Brenda, definitely not written in her style and tone. By the third week we ended all of her accounts and got her a new phone, new number, and a new The Facebook identity. Yup. All of her financial stuff was transferred and secured. SO MUCH FUN. I was not a happy camper during this period and suffice to say the man paying the bills was beside himself. The hubs constantly questioned “Why does she need Facebook?” “It is not Facebook,” I said. “It is The Facebook, and it is her window to me, to us, to her grandson and great-grandson.” Proud of my absolute shutdown and the win for The Facebook.

Enter stage-right, Covid-19 and our absence from contact for one year, almost to the date, The Facebook was her saving grace. My posts are for no one but her… she enjoyed my over-sharing my true lack of importance for that third cup of coffee picture or my big toilet paper search. It made her laugh. Nope, it is all for Miss Brenda. I know no one cares and it mostly looks self-important but it’s neither. She truly gets a kick out of my daily pursuits, as trivial as they are. So, I carry-on.

We recently slipped into a new phase. Just using messenger (no more texts) or calls, unless she finds the “phone” image accidentally and of course where she stores her notes. Yes, Miss Brenda has notes. All neatly written in a notebook. Probably, color coded. Another new use is the all important The Facebook calls without the FaceTime camera. That is too many instructions. I have tried. There are no words, colors, tabs, or even a separate notebook for camera use that is going to get us over our hump. We are happy. It works. She feels as if she is experiencing my adventures with me and right now that is the best gift I can give.

I love you Miss Brenda! See you soon!

grey hair, life, travel

Secret Lumberjack

Ok, my hubs is not handy. Nope. But he is a secret lumberjack when he comes up north. He loves taking down trees, creating paths, and tending to more greenery than meets the eye. Who is this man? This person is not the same one I married. Or is he? Has he hidden these secret talents? Or is this his inner Neebish man just letting loose?

So what does the Neebish woman do when her northern status comes alive? I believe the female alternative to chopping trees is canning, quilting, or embroidery? I cannot imagine doing any of these hobbies until the hubs asked me to move trees with him on a recent hike. Ok, you know I laughed. Hard. Then I said words I cannot repeat. Many times. This, coupled with my usual mosquito cursing. It was an ugly moment. So, I searched out some lifestyle hobbies that seem to fit the bill for UP life. I have to find my out, quickly and obviously writing, reading, working out and hiking is not enough. Ooh, did I mention there are wineries galore in the UP…I mentioned this to the hubs, he laughed. Hard. Obviously, he watched the grape stomping episode of I Love Lucy as a child. Obviously, this hobby he will not support. Let’s face it, I was not going to do the manual stuff, just the everyday wine tours and tastings…who would come? I don’t know but they say if you build it…

In my quest to find a woodsy gig please realize this is only an excuse to avoid moving trees or watching him move trees. This delightful day of fun to my Neebish man sounds dreadful, painful, and I have no skills and no desire to earn my junior lumberjacking badge. While, I applaud him we must remember I grew up in the land of colored rock lawns, Phoenix, Arizona. The only green I see is on playgrounds, football fields, and our many golf courses. The green stuff is beautiful but I don’t see the need to get my hands dirty. I am more mental than physical personality. Let me write, read, lesson plan or create anything from that mind space. Does he not know me yet? Thirty-three years and he is talking lumber removal!

So let’s examine my choices:

Canning: The art of taking food and doing some sort of cooking and stuffing it into glass jars. You are able to can almost everything. I can almost envision a summer of canning and shipping my products home for fun jams, jellies, pickled vegetables etc. for Christmas gifts with that homemade touch or that Martha meets Neebish kind of flavor. It could happen. Now the jars are cool and come in every size. So the shopping would be fun…but let’s be honest if I cannot make a dinner that people do not have to choke down with a bottle or so of wine. This ain’t my gig. Besides, I love shopping the roadside farms way too much to take on this task or give up UP shopping, as there is not much to shop for up north and Walmart does not count. This is a big NO.

Quilting: The art of taking different squares of material and creating a design that will be meaningful or just go really well in a babies room. This involves design. I can do that. Shopping for material. Easy. A ton of sewing with an actual sewing machine. Houston, we have a problem. In high-school I had to take home economics. This was a disaster. I warned the school principal and offered to take any additional class to put in its place. Any. He thought I was being dramatic. Nope. I knew my limits. My first class sewing project was to create a sleeved apron. Everyone happily sewed and hummed away with the teacher singing their praises. When it came to me, she asked me to review my notes and shook her head. A couple weeks later we unveiled our final projects. Everyone modeled and we applauded their efforts. It was my turn and I was proud of my final project. My hands were in one piece, I could sew in a straight line, and I did not break the machine. I stood to model only to realize I sewed the sleeves together so no one could ever wear it. It was more of a wrap around without the ability to actually tie it around your waist. So I improvised and made a few jokes. My friends cheered me on. They knew. Everyone was warned. My grandmother fixed my project, as she could really sew. With every removal of stitch she shook her head and spoke in Hebrew to my grandfather. It wasn’t good. Something about me marrying rich. I was down with that. When we rotated to cookies, my first batch burned, my second batch was raw, as I forgot to turn on the oven, and in fairness the burning scarred me, and my third attempt was void of sugar. I forgot. I was elevated to the teachers personal TA and passed with a C and her heartfelt speech on why I should never cook or sew again. I warned them. Big fat NO.

Embroidery: The art of taking small threads and following a design pattern. Yes, sewing. See above. But small threads with a pattern and no big machine. This is a possibility. After much thought, about fifteen minutes, I am against this option. It involves a needle and the changing of thread colors to match the pattern. This requires patience. If you have read my previous blogs you will note that I have no patience accept for little people. All my patience goes to my students and grandson. So, this is another strikeout. Damn.

I knew after our hike yesterday I was going to be faced with manual labor. While not against, I was dreading what was ahead of me on this warm day. There is dirt and rocks in places I have never seen on my body. This is the art of getting down with nature. But I hate it. Every stick, stone, bug. etc. Give me a chair, a Whiteclaw, and face me towards the water. Feed me occasionally and remind me to pack when it is time to go home to the land of rock lawns. That is Neebish to me. Yes, the ultimate of lazy and my time to check out of life, reflect, laugh, dream, enjoy, and I guess pulling up a few sticks and stones along the way.

life, retirement, travel

Breakfast is NOT a Frozen Burrito…Or the Many Lessons Learned on the Road

1. Food. Travel in any form takes on different eating patterns but road tripping is an art! The first realization that sitting in a car makes you hungry or bored hungry. That is bad and the layout of gas station markets lures you to carbs and sugar. You must hunt and put blinders on. Have a focus list and go. Water, power bars, pre-popped popcorn, almonds, and sugar-free candy if needed. This worked for the first day and my little smug self was so flaunting my food list, steps, and this simplicity until we had an oops moment with the car. Bring on the donuts. Yes, bagged food followed. So in reality. Plan to eat, overeat, not give a damn, and just adjust when you get out of the car. Or fly.

2. Exercise. Considering the day is spent sitting. Movement is key. Currently, I am writing and doing a Peloton meditation so I do not jump outside of my skin due to boredom. It counts. Everything counts on these long days. Walking around a gas station, stopping at a side road museum, anything. The movement of body or mind is key as you got the time. Oh, so much time, and of course wearing a smart watch that adds a fun guilt trip with every alert to my needed movement times was a brilliant move. I went from moving at every stop like a crazy woman to raising my hand, shaking it while cursing and going back to my Netflix. But it did register my simple movement. Guilt conquered.

3. Hotels. Kinda. Depending on the size of the town there is little choice and they tend to be overrated on Expedia. Our four star home away from home was more of a one. But nonetheless I just kept chanting eight hours, eight hours, eight hours in monk like fashion. My husband snored away so there was no worry of him calling the nearest pysch ward. I learned quickly that time will elapse whether you sleep or not and you will be back in the car. So some sleep is great. The morning buffet advertised to the weary traveller is nothing short of frightening so beware you might get the option of a frozen burrito or a pancake machine. We were. So, just run towards your nearest bagged food option. But in case you wondered what a pancake machine is, I tested it, you are welcome. Life presented me a pancake machine. Of course, I am going to press the buttons. Duh. The machine is a large double decker toaster oven looking contraption, that allows you to plug in your desired amount of pancakes, on an outside keypad. Once entered it goes through the teachnical process of warming frozen circles up. Once the machine detects the food it warms the little round bites of fluff. Here comes the magical moment, they were spit out at you for you to catch in our choice of paperware of the day, a bowl. Yup. I had to try, buttons pressed bowl ready like a catcher behind a mound, I laughed, a maniacal laugh that if heard in this small town would have not only gained looks but perhaps a sheriff’s visit. Please note the lobby was empty. As they were still frozen. I tossed them. No one was looking at my rudeness and waste but there we no re-entering directions for uncooked pancakes. So no choice. I highly suggest you try one if you find the opportunity. Entertainment at it’s finest. Our last night on the road, I booked a real hotel. I could not deal with roadside Schitt Creeks one more night. I kept hearing the characters voices. It was unsettling. Cue pysch ward.

4. Know your audience. As we entered Nara Vista New Mexico my husband thought he would be cute and make a play on words between Nara and Napa. He got a look. He sings country. I watch Schitts Creek and he still has never heard of it…really! Your driving companion can’t change, you just have to accept, move on, make light of, or ignore. There is no changing the over 50 crew. None. So if you get in a car for a trip scan your crew, note their shortcomings, and count the days. I recommend meditation, netflix, your music, or feigning sleep. The last one did not work. He knew. Damn.

5. Attire. So let’s review. You will eat crap, stay in scary roadside haunts, allow every minor fault of your partner to drive you crazy and be so tired at the end of the day that your movement is minimal. Sounds heavenly. But I had one ace up my sleeve. Super stylish travel clothes. Yup. Take that road. Livingston for the win. Yeah, no. I packed all of my clothes for the trip in my bag a week before we left never thinking that these were my clothes for just the trip not the car trip. A couple days before my husband sat me down and explained the road travel bag concept of just taking in a small bag every night to the hotel. Just essentials. Sleeping. Getting up early and hurling yourself back into the car for the next day was the process laid before me leaving no time for “cute.” I cried. No prep time. Just brush your teeth and go. Ugh. This coupled with my last days of school I found myself hurling everything I hate into a backpack and calling it good. So yes, I looked like hell. Skipped makeup, wore socks with sandals for comfort, and wore clothes I would not wear outside my own home. But was I comfy. Yes. So, maybe it was a win. There are few photos of human life during these days. Nope. Accept my husbands cruel attempts of finding humor in my suffering. Deleted. All, while monk like chanting of thirty-three years, thirty-three years…

So, was it all bad. No. If you let go of your roadtrip fantasy looks, eating, nightly room choices in very small towns. You saw America and breweries and wineries for days. Fruit wine, anyone? Aside from all of the craziness I saw America. The farming America that works hard, votes with their pocket books, is kind, holds doors (all the time), apologizes for cursing, does not believe happiness is always attached to a university degree but is tied to family values, carrying on the farm and name, and saving not spending on every new latest fad. They are a special breed. I just take-in their life with a bit of jealousy but knowing that I was raised as a city girl who values everything they feel is unnecessary. My hope from this peek into Americana is that I now truly understand our fancy ways are truly in the minority and real life is dotted all across the United States in strings of small towns only varying by region, state, size, and local economic and farming opportunities. We the city folk, while blessed with opportunities, we often feel we are the majority of thinkers, movers, shakers, and biggest complainers. Our way is right. Period. Thus forgetting who we lean upon for everything that we consume in daily life. They are the real America. So, if you dare go on a drive and take-in the beauty, wonder, small town ways. Have a few small town conversations. It will bring you peace and insight. Just once. Then fly.