"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Thursday, February 28, 2013


...is not Folgers in my cup.

Though I must admit, a hot, tasty cuppa joe with hazelnut creamer does seem to start my day off on the right, comfy-cozy foot.

Folgers Coffee Comercial by Rockapella on GroovesharkOverall, however, I'd have to saythat for me, the best part of waking up each day is precisely that: waking up.

Yes, as I age, I find that the moment my eyes flutter open and my brain kicks into gear and signals to me the start of another morning here on this glorious earth, I think, Yay! I have lived to see another day!

Indeed, as we all know, tomorrow is promised to no one. Hence, it is my strong belief that we must celebrate each day we are blessed with.

That is why, while living for a short time in South Carolina with my wonderful friend, Mary, last year, I started each day by waking up to the smell of java brewing (signaling Mary was up and at 'em), and then I would run to my bedroom window, throw it open, breathe in the fresh, warm Myrtle Beach air and shout, "Good Morning, South Carolina!"

Myrtle Beach Days by The Embers on GroovesharkThen I would run downstairs, smiling and giggling, and do what Mary and I have come to call my happy dance...clapping my hands and kicking my legs side to side...

Sunrise Over Myrtle
Then we'd sit and chat over coffee, dishing about whatever it is two old friends dish about at 6 a.m. in the morning. Some mornings, we would grab coffee at McDonald's and catch the captivating sunrise at the beach.

Now, back in Iowa, on this, the last day of February, I dare say I did not greet the morning by throwing open my bedroom window. For starters, the window is frozen shut.

And everything is on one level at my house, so there is no running downstairs.

And though  John would most likely find my happy dance entertaining, the cold weather and my advancing age have seemingly teamed against me to cause much morning stiffness in all my joints so there is no kicking my legs side to side. And clapping would only scare the cats.

And (need I state the obvious?), sniff, there is no beach at which to catch a sunrise.

So, what I do these days to mindfully and joyfully mark another day of living is this: I begin my day sitting quietly in my living room, cup of hot coffee with hazelnut creamer in hand, pondering only the positives in my life.
My husband! My son! My other family and friends!

And the fact that I don't have to go to work today until noon! And when I do go to work, I get to work with some great and funny folks at a wonderful hometown grocery store where there is always someone coming through the door to talk to.

Yes, my legs ache from standing on my feet all day, and my shoulders are sore from schlepping groceries, but every day at Frohlich's Super Valu is a chance to reach out to a fellow Coon Rapidian with a friendly smile and a quick chat. Even on the dreariest of  Iowa winter days.

Sunrise Over Coon Rapids
Also, while pondering the happier aspects of my life of 56-plus years, I keep a watchful eye on the morning sky in excited anticipation of a beautiful Iowa sunrise (cuz we got 'em, too). Some might even say I've become, um, a wee bit obsessed with capturing every sunrise with my digital camera/cell phone, and later posting the pics on Facebook.

I prefer to call it my offer of hope and a morning smile to those friends and family from across the miles.

Hold on! I see snippets of pink! OMG! The sun! Be back in a few!

To the Morning by Dan Fogelberg on Grooveshark. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(hour later)

The sunrise this morning was absolutely precious!
Oh, what a beautiful morning!

(Yes, passersby, that was me, donned in sweat pants, John's old blue hoodie, my Sony digital swinging from my neck, as I huffed and puffed my way up North Street -- in frigid temps, no gloves -- to the top of the hill. Just in the nick of time!)

Frozen, I am. But happy! And smiling!

It is, without a doubt, a beautiful morning! And I am ecstatic to be here to see it!

Time for one more cup of coffee with hazelnut creamer before I start posting my pics on Facebook.


Good Day Sunshine by Beatles - Good Day Sunshine on GroovesharkMaybe the best part of waking up (after being thankful I woke up) is Folgers in my cup...and a beautiful Iowa sunrise!

To the morning, my friends! Don't miss yours!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013


It's official.

As of today, I am not aging gracefully.

It is not that I am refusing to grow older with vim, vigor, vitality and majestic, flexible energy...it's just that it has become painfully obvious -- and I do mean, painfully -- that I can't age gracefully.

It just is no longer an option.

Not that it ever was, but all the beauty product advertisers had me convinced that I had every opportunity to, if not avoid the aging process, at least slow it down a tad.

Goodness Gracious, I have tried every gimmicky anti-aging/anti-wrinkle lotion/potion/cream known to womankind, and yet, just a few moments ago, I caught myself putting the garlic salt away in the fridge instead of the spice cupboard.

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep by The Temptations on Grooveshark
Truth is, ain't no Oil of Olay gonna change the fact that I cannot remember shittake mushrooms these days.


Furthermore, every part and parcel of my 56-year-old body aches from sun up to sun down. Especially after schlepping groceries all day.

And I cannot hear anything with my left ear.


I am sure the cold, dreary, winter Iowa weather plays a part in the fact that I shuffle and moan for the first 20 minutes of each morning as I try to a)get out of bed; b) remember what day it is; and c)figure out why I shuffled and moaned my way to the fridge as I stand and stare blankly at the cat food can for what seems like an hour before the light bulb in my tired, old brain flips on.

"The cats!  Feed the cats!"

And it's really no better later at work after I think I am awake.

Granted, after two cups of coffee, and two hours of painstakingly showering, futzing with my hair, and slathering on a lengthy, layered concoction of alleged age defying concealers, I gaze into the living room mirror (the soft lighting is kinder there than under the bright, anything-but-beguiling bathroom spotlights) and think I look no older than 50...maybe even 48 on a really good day. 

But the fact that I proceed to hand back $39 in change to a customer when the change is only 39 cents, and charge some poor woman $4,011 for bananas because I pushed "4011 enter" instead of "4011 PLU" on the cash register, tells me I am 56 going on 86.

In fact, I know 86-year-old women who are much sharper and with-it, and got it goin' on in a myriad of gracefully aging ways.

I will, apparently, never be one of them.

Well, that's my "ARGHGHGHGHGH, I AM GETTING OLD FAST -- AND IT AIN'T PRETTY" rant for today. Time to pop a couple of Aleve, touch up the under-eye concealer...maybe rub in a little Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Original Formula SPF 15 (A Retinol Facial Treatment With Vitamins) on my flabby turkey neck, and smear a little lip gloss on my  (unlike my post-menopausal hips) thinning-never-to-be plump-again lips.

Not that I am bitter, mind you.

Just old.

Nevertheless, I am spritzing some Hello, Darling  perfume from Victoria's Secret over my soon-to-be-smelling-like-broasted-chicken sweatshirt and jeans before dashing, er, meandering, off to work.

After all, an old, arthritic gal like me can still dream.

I just can't remember the dream.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Dear Home Stretch Readers:

With Valentine's Day coming up quickly, a moment of silence, please, for that very special something we seem to have lost in this, the era of instant text messaging.

I am talking about the romance of communication.

Yes, while our 4G phones might be smart as all get out, able to whiz words from me to you at the speed of light, nothing says "I Love You" more sincerely, more romantically, than a handwritten love letter, sealed with a kiss (S.W.A.K. as we used to write on the back of the envelope) and -- if you can afford a stamp -- delivered by the United States Postal Service.

Sealed With a Kiss by Gary Lewis & The Playboys on Grooveshark I know, I know. Nobody is going to be getting any kind of letter via the USPS on Saturdays here pretty soon, but that still leaves five other days of the week on which to write that special someone in your life a letter telling them how much they mean to you.

Sure, you could just as easily send an E-Card, or text "i luv u" this Valentine's Day (which is Thursday, by the way...plenty of time to write a letter and drop it in the mail so it arrives on time), or have the local florist deliver a lovely bouquet of flowers to your love interest/significant other/spouse  to their home or office desk.

But if you really care enough to send the very best, why not dig out one of those old-fashioned writing utensils -- aka, a pen -- and etch your love on paper?

Sadly, like telephone operators assisting the love lorn in placing passionate phone calls to the objects of their affection, handwritten love letters also seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur.

I suppose the argument is, compared to shooting off a quick text, it takes too long to write, too much money to send (really, 46 cents is too much to spend on the person who makes your heart beat like a bongo drum?) and too long for the person to receive (a couple of days).

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh by Allan Sherman on GroovesharkBut for those of us who remember having pen pals or getting letters from our parents while we were at summer camp, the anticipation, the waiting for a letter to be delivered from across the miles, was half the fun and excitement of  it all.

And no,  desire-infused computer-keyboard typed emails do not count.

I mean, I suppose you can print out such emails and tuck them in an old shoebox in your closet for posterity. But trust me, there is just something so endearing about happening upon a box of old, handwritten love letters...on engraved stationery, no less...

In fact, I have dozens  of  love letters written between my mom and dad during their courtship (some long, some short). And since they are both gone, and have been gone such a long time, it is fun, albeit bittersweet, to read the letters as I can still hear their voices with each sentence.

March, 24, 1947
The Letter by The Box Tops on Grooveshark
Dear Johnny,

Well, Hon -- here's the second attempt -- had one letter all written -- & have carried it around in my purse ever since! I have good musical accompaniment to this -- they're playing "If I Loved You". I do! I will! YES!

All my love, Jeanne

April 30, 1947

Dear Jeanne,

Here it is Wednesday already and high time I drop you a line I think.

But never fear, darling, you are still upper most with me at all times, whether i am punctual in writing or not. I do! I will! YES!

Always yours,

Box Full of Letters by Wilco on GroovesharkI also have my own collection of  love letters -- and a few love poems --  from old high school boyfriends, and every time I unearth them while digging through stuff in the attic, I can never bring myself to throw them away.

First of all, I am a Scorpio, and we Scorps never throw mementos away.

And second of all, it is nostalgically entertaining, and certainly perspective-inducing, to read the old love letters now and again. For instance, if I was so loved back in high school, why did it take me six tries before I could snag a guy to take to the Girls Athletic Association formal my sophomore year?

I also saved practically every handwritten and double-secret folded "illegal" note passed to me by my friend, Linda, in high school (ah, note passing -- something else gone by the wayside since the proliferation of cell phone-carrying students).

And I always laugh out loud - for real --  at my friend Helen's scribbled kudos, in celebration of the news that I finally switched from sanitary napkins to Tampons, and could finally (as we were taught by our PE teachers back then) enjoy swimming and horseback riding during "that time of the month".

But my all-time favorite written-in-cursive note is from my dad on the occasion of my first grounding. I was not quite 14 years old:

What in the world will our children, and our children's children, have stashed away in old shoe boxes for posterity and reflection when they are old and gray? Outdated cell phones with locked text messages?

Please, Mr. Postman by The Marvelettes on Grooveshark OMG LMAO luv u

Ack. I shudder to think. Besides, by then they may have forgotten what all the text lingo even meant.

And it's not just the receiving or anticipating the receiving of a handwritten letter -- love or otherwise -- that is lost when we and our children text, Facebook and Twitter our way through our daily lives. The all-important process of handwriting a letter -- the human touch, the heart and soul that flows from one's fingertips -- is lost as well.

C'mon, let's face it. We cannot seal a text message or a Facebook IM or a Tweet with a smooch.

And spam filters will never take the place of a letter stamped "Return To Sender" (not that the USPS even does that anymore...or do they? Anyway, you know what I mean.)

Return to Sender by Elvis Presley on Grooveshark

So this Valentine's Day, put a little love not only in your heart, but in the mailbox.

Step away from your smart phone, or your computer -- after you've read my blog, of course, lol, ;) -- and sit yourself down and write that special someone a letter. Encourage your kids to do the same. S.W.A.K. it and mail the darn thing tomorrow.

Not only will it will make it there by Valentine's Day, it will make their Valentine's Day!

Sincerely Yours,
P.S. I Love You (Stereo) by Fab Four on Grooveshark

I Love You!

Saturday, February 09, 2013


Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe  may have been "infectious", but it in no way holds a candle to the telephone songs of my misspent youth.

That occurred to me this morning as I was listening to the late Jim Croce's all-time awesome 70s' phone-based ballad, Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels), via Pandora on my laptop.


It also occurred to me -- somewhat sadly --  just how old and outdated that back-in-my-day song of unrequited love is :

Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels) by Jim Croce on GroovesharkOperator, well could you help me place this call
See, the number on the match book is old and faded
She's living in L.A
With my best old ex-friend Ray
A guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated...

First thought: Wow...the guy needed an operator to place the call.

Second thought: Certainly no one jots down phone numbers on matchbooks anymore, they just enter them into their cell phone under "contacts".

Third thought:  Today, if he wanted to track down his old, straying girlfriend and he had lost her number, he would merely Google one of those people search sites and for a nominal fee get Ray's phone number and specific LA address, MapQuest Ray's sorry, girlfriend-stealing ass, drive straight to the front door and speak to his former flame in person.

Same with Johnny Rivers'  toe-tappin' -- albeit heart-wrenchin' --  60s' custody battle tune Memphis, Tennessee:

Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee
Help me find a party that tried to get in touch with me
She could not leave a number but I know who placed the call
Cause my uncle took a message and he wrote it on the wall...

Last time I saw Marie she was wavin' me goodbye
With hurry-home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye
But we were pulled apart because her mom did not agree
And tore apart our happy home in Memphis, Tennessee...

Today, if little six-year-old Marie had access to her mother's smart phone, the phone number would pop up on his smart phone, and he would call Marie back immediately (if Mom hadn't already confiscated said smart phone, of course). Or, had Marie been calling from her mother's land line to his land line, and he had Caller ID, the uncle would have jotted down the phone number, as well as Marie's message, on the wall.

Or maybe they would do what's best for Marie and do a little fam Skype.

Bottom line: Problem solved, father and daughter instantly reconnected, no need for sad, though rockin', song.

And again, no need for that long distance information operator.

(Speaking of operators and songs, my friend, Sherrie, and I, when we were just a little bit older than Marie, used to dial "0" for operator from the rotary phone in my basement after school and -- trying very hard not to giggle -- sing songs. Yeah, it was all fun and games till one day the operator demanded to talk to my mother, who was blissfully unaware of our downstairs shenanigans. I hung up on the operator and was more than a little dismayed to find she was still on the line when I picked up the phone 10 minutes later. I hung up again only to have that relentless operator call back, and my mom answered the upstairs phone. Busted!

Anyway,  call me old school, but I also gotta say that Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman runs absolute wires around Soujla Boy's Kiss Me Through The Phone.

I mean, seriously?

Kiss Me Through The Phone by Soulja Boy Feat. Sammie on Grooveshark How could:

Baby, I know that you like me
You my future wifey
SouljaBoyTellEm yeah you could be my bonnie
I could be your clyde
You could be my wife
Text me, call me, I need you in my life yeah

All that, everyday I need yaAnd everytime I see ya my feelings get deeper
I miss ya, I miss ya
I really wanna kiss you but I can't...

She call my phone like
(da da dadadada da da dadadada da da..)
We on the phone like
(da da dadadada da da dadadada da da..)
We taking pics like
(da da dadadada da da dadadada da da..)

She dial my number like
(da da dadadada da da dadadada da da..)

ever compare to:

I hear you singin' in the wire
I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line

I know I need a small vacation
But it don't look like rain
And if it snows that stretch
Down South won't ever stand the strain

And I need you more than want you
And I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line...

Ahhhhh...that Glen Campbell...what a crooner.

But I digress.

Bottom line: Indeed the times, they are a changin'. And the transformation stretches far beyond telephones and song lyrics.

While I am thankful for the speedy/instant/constant connection that smart phones and all the other accompanying latest computer technology now afford us, I find myself wary as well.

From speed dialing to butt dialing in seemingly the blink of an eye, and frankly, we seem to have lost sight of a couple of very important things in between.

Can you guess what they are? 

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 01, 2013


Dear Abe
...is a penny scorned, apparently.

I mean, I'm tellin' ya, if I had a nickel for every time someone tossed their pennies at me after I hand them back their change after they pay for their groceries...

"I don't want the pennies!" growls one customer.

"Keep the damn pennies!" grumbles another.

And then there are those who slyly leave their Abe Lincolns on the counter as they slink out of the store. Or -- what I find thoroughly irritating -- there are even those folks, mostly in their late teens and early twenties, who just throw their pennies to the ground on their way to their cars.


Obviously, those who literally throw their money away have never been without two pennies to rub together...never had to glean under couch cushions or dig through old purses or coat pockets for spare change, or haul a vase heavy with pennies to the bank to cash in, for milk money or a loaf of bread. (May they never experience lean times.)

My professional grocery store cashier training, of course, forces me to just smile and calmly place  rejected pennies in a dish of other unwanted pennies we keep on hand in the cash register drawer for those who haven't pinched their pennies and are short on change.

Inside, however, I get a little growly because personally, I don't mind the penny. In fact, I occasionally offer my husband one for his thoughts...usually during the middle of a Hawkeye basketball game, or some other inappropriate moment when he is loathe to share. Hence, my return on the penny, in those instances, ain't much.

But overall, the penny -- in my life, anyway -- has been a monetary godsend on more than one occasion. As the Yiddish proverb goes, "A penny is a lot of money if you have not got a penny."

Yes, I'm all about picking up pennies whenever or wherever I find them, heads up or down.

"Penny, penny bring me luck because I'm the one who picked you up," and all that jazz.

My fave shoe
 My favorite shoes back in the day were -- you guessed it -- penny loafers.

I remember helping Daniel count out 100 pennies for the 100th day of school celebration during his grade school years.

The only beef I've got with the tiny coin is that it was at the heart of one of the more embarrassing moments of  my grade school years

As I recall, I was in fourth grade and we were learning about old adages, and I had memorized "A penny saved is a penny earned" to share with the class that morning. It was also my turn to lead the school in the Pledge of Allegiance via the intercom.

My public speaking debut, if you will.

Chalk it up to performance anxiety, I suppose, but moments after the principal announced, "Ann Heise will lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance," I put my hand over my heart and blurted out loud and clear, for the entire school to hear, "A PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED..."


That wasn't nearly as embarrassing as the time that same year I pulled my windbreaker off over my head after recess not realizing I had pulled my blouse off with it, and there I stood in front of the class in my undershirt and skirt...but I digress.

My point -- and I do have one -- is that I truly do not see why people get so hot under the collar over pennies.

Money by Liza Minnelli on GroovesharkGranted, as explained in a recent issue of Time Magazine, I may be in the minority these days when it comes to my tolerance for the long-derided-as-obsolete penny. The penny, come to find out, has been dropping in value for decades. High production costs -- one penny costs two pennies to mint --  and  declining utility does give some credence, I suppose, to the battle cry to get rid of it.

But really, what's not to like about the penny?

Oh, who am I trying to kid...

I try to remain patient and smiling...
Truth be told, I guess I do find pennies to be from somewhere other than heaven every now and then.

Like when I have a checkout line of customers winding all the way to Chicago and the customer at the head of the line is rummaging through their purse or pocket -- seemingly forever -- for the exact change to the penny...ARGHGHGHGHGHGH!

I try so hard to remain patient and smiling as they pull out lint, screws, mints...

Pennies From Heaven by Frank Sinatra on Grooveshark
"Just give me a damn quarter, take the change, and be done with it!" I want to bark....but I don't.

At least, I haven't.