Sometimes… Strange Things Show Up in the Mail

When one hits a certain age, strange things start showing up in the mail.  Apparently, I’m not just going deaf but my eyesight seems to be failing too.




The Morning After

mourning-buntingI went to bed last night depressed. It was only 10:30pm and as I watched my state of Wisconsin go down like the Titanic I knew what the outcome of the presidential election was going to be. So I tossed and turned and once in a while my heart said, “maybe, you’re wrong.”  But my brain knew the absolute truth. The bigots, the racists, the misogynists, the haters, the fools, the naive, the idiots, had won the night.

So I woke up in a very sad mood. I checked my iPad quickly to see the result and it seemed worse than I imagined. As I made my way down to the breakfast table I decided I could not bear to watch acceptance speeches and endless analysis. I already was at my wit’s end after almost 2 years of political ads and primaries and anonymous phone calls and debates. So most of my morning was spent on a very low key. A cup of yogurt, a few pieces in the jigsaw puzzle. Once I took a shower and got dressed I did what I usually do when I am anxious or depressed, I clean. I tidy up. Kitchen floor, check! Bathroom, check. Vacuuming, check!


“Buck up, kiddo, tomorrow’s going to be another day.” – a little known Master Yoda quote

As I worked my mood started to change to fear. Fear of those who think this victory will give them freedom to bully, discriminate, assault and abuse anyone they don’t agree with or don’t like the color of. Because that was what some of this election was about. It wasn’t only those who were getting a raw deal on their health care or haven’t had a decent job in years who voted. I can accept those complaints. But those who think hate is now the acceptable status quo are the ones I fear. That voting for The Donald now gives them that right. However, the wise Jedi Master Yoda once said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” No, I didn’t want to go there. That just makes me like them.

I am sure my social conscience will rise up again and I will get involved in some way. But I am weary. I became an Independent Deputy in January and have been registering people to vote at libraries, high schools and local colleges in my area. I have been answering questions about voting, I have been encouraging people to vote, I’ve been putting signs in my yard….I am tired of it all. So, for now I am going underground, to decompress. I need to read and knit and work on my art. I need to concentrate on my physical therapy and get this new knee running like …a knee. It is going to take a bit to shake off the yuk that I feel from this election and Donald Trump. I also plan on avoiding as much of the inaugural hoopla as possible. Watching him and his family party just seems wrong. Getting away would be nice and Canada always seemed a possibility but I think it is closed right now. So I will be staying put, and damn! after four years of this new administration I’ll have the cleanest house around.

I am a bitter(s) man: Preamble

I am bitter over the loss of Bitter Lemon.

bittersYears ago I used to be able to buy Schweppes Bitter Lemon.  It was sold in most stores alongside the mixers like Tonic Water or Club Soda, but a lot of people drank it straight as a less sweet, decidedly bitter adult lemonade.   For some obscure reason Schweppes no longer makes or distributes their Bitter Lemon in the U.S.  Apparently it is available in the U.K. and some other markets but not here except as an imported item.

I bemoan the loss of Schweppes Bitter Lemon.  It was a refreshing, pleasantly tart (but not diet) summer beverage.

At some point it occurred to me that I might be able to “hack” an ersatz bitter lemon.  Most carbonated drinks are mostly carbonated water – seltzer or club soda.  The basis for the Schweppes Bitter Lemon is, in fact, tonic water which contains quinine where the bitter component comes from.  The lemon flavor comes from lemon, of course, which contributes tartness.  I like the bitter edge of Bitter Lemon and would welcome a little more (like I said, I’m a bitter man)  So why not add some real bitters, like Angostura – that’s its announced role.  So the juice of a fresh lemon, a half-dozen good shakes of bitters, some ice and top it up with tonic water (yes, Schweppes).  No chance of displacing the original but a pretty easy and quite refreshing hack for a bitter man

bitters_orangNote:  After making this the first time I was a bit disappointed with the color the bitters gave the drink.  But then I remembered that I had once bought a bottle of Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters.  It’s in the citrus family and all but colorless so in subsequent iterations I used Orange Bitters instead.




You Will Hate Me Now

“but you will thank me later.”  So said my physical therapist after bringing tears to my eyes at our last session. Getting a knee replacement isn’t just an operation, a short stay in the hospital and then painkillers and rest at home. No, it is a LOT of work. A lot of painful work.

rackOnce I was out of the hospital, I spent a week at a rehab center ( I regaled you on their menu choices if you recall ). While there I also had physical therapy (PT) twice a day, every day for 45 minutes each. It consisted of learning how to walk with a walker, then a cane. It was a lot of mobility exercises and it was also how to put on your socks and empty the washing machine while your knee said, “uh no, that hurts!!” It was a good kickstart. But it was just a taste of the ordeal awaiting me.

When I got home I was scheduled for outpatient PT twice a week and with the “luck of the draw” I was paired with Kelly, a young, no-nonsense woman who is determined to get me to bend my knee normally and also get it to straighten out, no bends, when I stand. I like her, she doesn’t coddle me. While I am grimacing as I try to make the stationery bicycle wheel turn we talk about what we did on the weekend and admire each other’s choice in footwear. But don’t be fooled she has no qualms about bringing tears to my eyes.

This is the issue. I need to get to “0” but I am at -5, meaning it bends up, doesn’t lie straight as in this picture. Now on the bottom bend I am at 116 which is pretty good but we are shooting for 120 at the very least.

ai26-tinypic-com_2mdksutTo get to either of these numbers a lot of pushing down of the kneecap or pulling back of my heel takes place. And man, it hurts. There are a lot of bruised, tight muscles in there, sore nerves and of course, metal parts. I am also fighting scar tissue. I have to keep everything moving before it tightens up.

That’s where Kelly comes in. She cracks the whip and says ten more reps, or eight more minutes on the rack and five more revolutions on the bike. On my own there would be one more rep and three on the bike and forget the rack. She is the one who pushes down firmly on my kneecap to force it into a more straight position while I whimper. She can unerringly find every sore and stinging muscle as she probes with her fingers. Yep, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.*

So right now, I hate her, or rather what she is making me do, but I know when I reach that “0” and can walk downstairs normally, I will thank her and be grateful she didn’t have a real whip.

*Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Big Everything

We recently had a fabulous week in Montana, specifically Glacier National Park. Everything is big out there. Big sky, Big mountains, Big bears!

montanaOn Sunday morning Sept 4, as we were getting ready for our shuttle ride to the airport to come home, Curt complained that his throat was scratchy. He did a little salt gargling but I think resigned himself to the fact that he was probably getting a cold. Well we have since found out that Montana also has Big Germs that produce really Big Colds! By the time we landed in Wisconsin his nose was stuffy and Monday morning the coughing started. It is now a week later and the coughing has not let up, nor the sneezing, nor the blowing, well everything that goes with a cold but multiplied 5 times. Seems like 10 times.

For the first few days I made jokes about Man Colds being worse than Woman Colds, and for the most part that is true.

The Man Cold Vs The Mom Cold

But as this continued without a break I felt bad about joking, he was really miserable and so was I, so I finally got him to go to a doctor yesterday. Was it pneumonia? Well no, it’s is just a whopping big virus so no antibiotics for him. No, no, no! So we wait it out.

Now in this household, he does almost all of the food prep. I know, I am really lucky. I am the cleaner upper. But now I am doing all of the cooking and the cleaning! Okay big deal, you say, that’s how most of the world works. Now I am not looking for a shoulder to cry on, but I am just out of practice and I think I am coming to the end of my repertoire of meals. We are getting very close to the grill cheese sandwich and tomato soup dinner. Yes, soup out of a can, whereas Curt would be roasting and seeding and pureeing tomatoes from the garden and making a fresh soup. He would buy the cheese but probably bake the bread.

Now under normal circumstances, this would be fine but add to this mix my scheduled knee replacement surgery for next Tuesday. I have to maintain a household while also avoiding getting near Curt and any of his germs. And work on getting the house prepped for me, the gimp, who will be going into recovery mode. So can I get a bit of a shoulder to whimper on? Huh?


Things that make me nuts!

Back on February 27th (when it was 65 days till I turn 65), I regaled you with things that I like, love, or just make me happy. Now that it is 33 days till that significant birthday I would like to share with you with some things that just drive me crazy. I was first going to say things that I hate but an acquaintance said to me accusingly, “Why would you do that?” I told her not to worry, her name would not be mentioned, at least not this go round. Some of these might make you smile, others will just have you shaking your head but it is what it is.

1. Getting up early. The best part about retirement – sleeping in.

2. Sweet Tarts. They are not fun, eating them is cruel and unusual punishment.


Sweet tarts, eww.

3. Prejudice, Dishonesty, Stupidity. These are so bad they don’t deserve individual numbers.

4. Winter.…quickly followed by
5. Driving in the snow. Another positive part of retirement, I don’t have to go anywhere if I don’t want to.

Because this can happen!

Because this can happen!

6. “Unknown Caller” phone calls. If you aren’t brave enough to show your name on my caller I.D. then I ain’t talking to you.

7. You know when you are knitting and you realize you’ve dropped a stitch, like eight rows back? Yah, I hate that.

8. Bad hair days, especially when you are running late for an appt. and you have no time to do anything about it.

9. Evil done in the name of God. In the words of Blaise Pascal, “Men never take to evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”There are too many crazies out there who get away with a lot of bad shit because supposedly God said it was OK ( insert God of your choice, insert holy book of your choice.) Attention crazies! God has your number and he’s not happy.

10. Political commercials. I think I broke the mute button on my remote.

11. Abuse. Physical, mental, it’s all the same and it’s all bad.

12. Gaining weight. And the fact that as you get older it gets harder to lose it.

13. Slow computer connections. Why does it sometimes seem slower now than those old dial-up days?

14. Fish. Bleh! I’m not crazy about them dead or alive. Eating them, no way.

May I be excused?

May I be excused?

and finally…..

15. Cold feet. Socks are the best invention ever.

Ta-Da!  Only one more list to go….on my birthday.

65 Days to 65: Another Boomer gets Closer



As of today, February 27, it is exactly 65 days till I am 65. Even if I hid all of the calendars I knew this was getting closer because everyday five (or more) pamphlets from insurance companies and/or medicare show up in my mailbox to remind me. Now that I am in the home stretch I think I might just put the recycle bin outside next to the mailbox and save myself a trip. Now I’m not going to rant or reminisce for 65 days or you will all seek me out and stomp my computer into teeny pieces. I don’t think I really will rant at all because you know it’s not so bad, turning 65. Instead I will give you a peek at what makes me tick, gets me up in the morning, makes me smile, makes me shake my head in dismay and then on the fateful day unload my list of things I’ve learned in 65 years ala “Dave Barry’s 25 things I have learned in fifty years.” I am sure you have seen his list at some time. It periodically circulates on Facebook as 16 things it took me 50+ years to learn. While trying to locate the original list I found out, through Snopes, that the list posted by everyone and their 2nd cousin twice removed is not Dave’s actual list. You can find the real one in Dave’s book, “Dave Barry Turns 50.”

But I digress. This post is just lists and pictures of some of the stuff I love, like, think is cool, makes life great. So in the immortal voice of Julie Andrews, “These are a few of my favorite things.”

In no particular order: My Husband, my Son, Family.
(well, yes there is a little order, they wouldn’t be happy to come after brussels sprouts)

1) Drawing of Curt by Yumiko 2) Curt's self portrait  3) Me & Curt & Beano the parakeet -needlework by me.

1) Drawing of Curt by Yumiko 2) Curt’s self portrait 3) Me & Curt & Beano the parakeet -needlework pillow by me.

Then comes wine (Sauvignon blanc), summer, books, birds, bird-watching, cats, socks, bacon and vampires.

1) Not sure what this is but I love it, it has a spout and looks like it's from Metropolis. 2) vampires and graphic novels, yay!  3) Weird bird thing, I use it as a soapdish.

1) Not sure what this is but I love it, it has a spout and looks like it’s from Flash Gordon.
2) vampires and graphic novels, yay!
3) Weird bird thing, I use it as a soap dish.

Things like fresh sheets..and pillowcases, being warm, driving on dry streets, a great cup of tea, fresh bread…with butter, and looking at the stars, make me say Yes!.

1) Cool shapes  2) Found in a field in rural England  3) My taste in music is pretty eclectic

1) Cool cup shapes 2) Sign found in a field in rural England 3) My taste in music is all over the map.

I read fantasy, science fiction,thrillers, horror. I love brussels sprouts (there they are), libraries, bookstores, health insurance and art, artists and making art.

1) Fiber piece by me based on a drawing by my son  2) Painting by Nathan (age 8) 3) Fire by Mauda  3)

1) Fiber piece by me based on a drawing by my son
2) Painting by Nathan (age 8)
3) Fuego by Maura Vasquez

I enjoy blogging, knitting, and then there is my latest passion for bookbinding.
Friends, laughter, Movies watched in a theater, football, a really great sandwich.

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!
And Halloween is the all time best holiday!

1) Pumpkin/snowman head. Good decoration for Oct - January  2) Words to Live By  3) Evil Nurse - don't ask.

1) Pumpkin/snowman head. Good decoration from October to January
2) Words to Live By
3) Evil Nurse – don’t ask.

So there is your peek into my world, see you in thirty days with the things that drive me crazy. Hey, like the button says, “I’m not dead yet” –Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Commercials have Fried my Brain

This morning I got out of the shower, dried off, started spraying on that new Vaseline Spray and Go lotion and in my brain I started singing, Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, Your first aid kit in a jar.” Yikes! Where did that come from? The winter has been too long and too cold and my brain is regressing to my formative years -the 50’s,the 60’s- where those commercial jingles and phrases were burned into my fragile cortex. It happened just last week too. We were driving with a friend and one of us (only God knows why) mentioned the old Ipana toothpaste commercial, “Brusha,Brusha, Brusha, with the new Ipana…” and our friend countered with “You’ll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.” Her brain had been infected as well. Ah, the lovely toothpaste melodies of the past.

So it got me thinking about the recent Superbowl commercials and all the vitriol that was spewed on Twitter over the Coke commercial where Americans from various backgrounds sing America the Beautiful in different languages. I started wondering about what those same idiots would be saying on twitter if it existed in the 50’s and 60’s?

In 1967 there was that politically incorrect Frito Bandito with the droopy mustache, unshaven face, sombrero and in broken English, singing, “Ai, Yi,Yi, Yi. I am the Frito Bandito.” and telling us to “Munch, munch. Munch a bunch of Fritos, Corn Chips.”

Frito Bandito: Frito Lay 1967

Frito Bandito: Frito Lay 1967

I imagine the tweets started out like this and just got worse.

Send that Mexican jumping bean home #weHateeveryone
I ain’t buying anything from an illegal immigrant #Ihateyou

Back then the National Mexican-American Anti-defamation Committee went after Frito-Lay and the bandit lost his stubble and gold tooth but he wasn’t officially retired till 1971. I don’t think he would have lasted a week today. Now I’m not defending the bandito, I’m just saying things moved a lot slower and advertisers got away with a lot of crap for a lot longer. He was replaced by the Muncha Buncha, a less controversial band of cowboys.

I’m a bit surprised Mr. Clean ( “gets rid of dirt and grime and grease in just a minute…”) made it to the present day. Back in 1958 an earring and no socks was pretty suspect. And would it have been okay to have a sailor come to clean your house because that’s who Mr. Clean was based on, a real sailor from Florida. I’ve read that most people thought he was a genie because he appeared magically to get rid of that dirt. But then shouldn’t he be wearing harem pants?

Mr. Clean: Procter & Gamble

Mr. Clean: Procter & Gamble

Is that an earring? #Mr.Cleanisafag
He doesn’t look like an American to me #weHAteeveryonetoo
Hey, where are your harem pants? #andyourturban

And then there was the violence. “How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?” says the little guy in the Hawaiian shirt and straw hat.  “Sure”, says the other little guy before he gets socked in the face. Okay, it’s a play on words but huh???

Punchy: artist Martin Mandelblatt

Punchy: artist Martin Mandelblatt

Where is Hawaii? #arrestthatlittlefreak
What the f**k? #HawaiiansAreViolent

Please don’t be offended by my make believe tweets. If I tried to write like the ones I read online for the Coke commercial you would report me to the WordPress police. Now of course there was no twitter back then, the really sad thing is no one noticed the political incorrectness or the violence or the stereotyping that was regularly portrayed.

Ah well that’s my little trip down memory lane or a little trip into my warped mind. Who knows what my brain will be singing the next time I get out of the shower. All I want is for the winter to end so I can go out and “See the USA in my Chevrolet” because right now, I can only dream about Spring in my Maidenform Bra.

Maidenform circa 1955

Back off, you’ll put somebody’s eye out. #PutaShirtOn

I’ve Got Nothing

Boy I’ve had brain freeze lately. Some of the bloggers I follow are clever everyday. I am impressed. Heck, I’m impressed with the ones who post every other day or every third day. My last post was January 26th and it’s not like I haven’t been doing anything, just not anything I can make sound interesting.

I’ve been caught up in back and hip exercises; trying to tighten my core, get in alignment and stop the pain. No one wants to hear about that, you’ve got pains of your own.

exercise 1I watched a boring Superbowl game, all the way to the end, just to see the commercials. For the record I liked the Coke commercial and I know ‘America the Beautiful’ is not the National Anthem, unlike many of my ignorant countrymen.

I’ve been building books. Even sold one.
rhsfrontand we’ve been planning our next Foodie Group dinner —-> February 13th
Grocery List so far: filo, olives, golden raisins, fennel, cauliflower, pistachios, mushrooms, onions…hint, it’s going to be a Middle Eastern theme.
However, none of these activities have inspired me to pick up the laptop. So bear with me dear followers, I’ll be back. If nothing else, the awesomeness of the dinner we are putting together will blow you away but I hope I can get the muse working before then.