Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rest in peace, sweet Ellin

Xmas 2010: Festive Ellin with her devoted son (I don't know why he was barefoot) and favorite canine, who is keeping Ellin's foot warm.
My dear mother-in-law passed away yesterday. She was 94. It was an exquisitely gentle death thanks to merciful natural causes and compassionate hospice care. I helped compose her obituary and was again impressed that she rode a horse to her first job - teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in her early twenties, and was still traveling (by planes, trains and automobiles) until she was 90. We were privileged to be with her - including Lucy the dog who frequented her nursing home - almost every day of her life over the past year. She was always ready with a smile and a compliment, and not once did she complain. Godspeed, MawMaw.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Room with a view

     The hubs and I wisely decided to get a room after a big party in downtown Kansas City last night. We did our Priceline bidding and scored the 4-star Hotel Phillips for just $60. (That's a 55% savings according to William Shatner, dontcha know?) PLUS, our lovely check-in girl, Megan, granted us an upgrade to a corner executive suite on the 18th floor! (Always compliment your check-in girl's earrings.) It's a gracious hotel, Art Deco cool and stately, with fine amenities and a symphony of old hotel sounds, including kids screaming down the hall at 8 a.m. and a maid knocking on the door by mistake at 8:20. But, hey, the price was right.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I've got Santa on speed dial

Your humble BoomerGirl is responsible for the arrival of Kris Kringle tonight in downtown Lawrence. It's a truly charming tradition whereby the townsfolk gather at 9th & Massachusetts for the lighting ceremony and Santa's rescue from the roof of Weaver's Department Store by fire truck. Talk about job stress.  It's like a fine-tuned military operation with every city department involved plus entertainers, city officials, Salvation Army, and assorted players. Everybody synchronizes their watches, communicates by cell phone and, well, just hopes for the best, I guess. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Savoring Thanksgiving Day traditions

       One of the nice things about my side of the family is that we don't start our Thanksgiving party until the cocktail hour, as opposed to my husband's people who ring the dinner bell promptly at noon. I like having all day to cook, hang out in my jammies and watch TV - Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, Phillie kennel club dog show, football, in that order.
      The other nice things are the cocktails themselves, which come in handy when five women are trying to work in my mom's kitchen, simultaneously.  Wild Turkey, anyone? Cheers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ah, so my striatum's to blame!

This may explain why it took me so long to decide between Stove Top and Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing mix at the store today. I picked PF. But it took For. Ev. Er!!!

Thankful for time-release melatonin

Half an Ambien wasn't working and I didn't want to take a whole. One Advil PM wasn't doing the trick and, besides, they made me too thirsty. I tried 3 mg Melatonin the last several nights, but was wide awake at 3:30 - 4 a.m. So annoying. Last night, I popped a time-release 5 mg Melatonin and - voila! -  a blissful, 8-hour night's sleep. I came to semi-consciousness around 3 or 4 (didn't look at the clock, deliberately) but drifted back to sleep after ten minutes or so, no problem. And, there was no drowsy, foggy hangover this morning. Let the productivity begin! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In the wee small hours of the morning

Insomnia is a recurring theme in my life, and in my writing. (Write what you know, and all that rot.) Today's column revists the weirdness of the wee hours, especially when you share them with your dog.

Decorating Day



    After spending a cold morning decorating my work space (OK, I didn't exactly help; but I supervised 30 fabulous volunteers provided by Just Food), I decided I might as well get the house dolled up, too. If only I'd thought to invite those volunteers over for coffee cake and a little tinsel tossing.
   By the way, if you're a local reader, please give generously to Just Food this holiday season. They're feeding hungry Douglas County families every day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My scarf theme continues

(Sorry. 'Couldn't resist. Stole this off Facebook. After a long day, this made me surprisingly happy.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Look, I'm a stick!

I took a five-minute break from my hectic day today and slayed a dragon on DrawAStickman.com. It was really fun, although a bit challenging with those short little arms of mine.

I feel (a little) better about my neck

I love my black cotton cowl neck sweater, but it had two problems: 1) The black was starting to look harsh against my aging face (it's a wicked color-zapper); and 2) it showed too much of my neck. Thanks to that oh-so-instructive scarf video I discovered (see below), I found the solution by tying a blue scarf turtleneck-style under the cowl neck. Voila!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Scarf tying on steroids

Now that I've un-boxed all of my winter scarves, I need a few more ways to wear them. Here, in one video, are 25 different ways. Overkill? Maybe, but the video is exceptionally well done and entertaining. Plus, after you watch it, you can click on an individual 'knot' for a repeat tutorial. I think I'll return to this one several times during the long months ahead. Enjoy....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Soft Surroundings, I Heart You!

How in Retail Heaven's name have I made it this far without raving about Soft Surroundings, my new favorite (online) store? I discovered it a few months ago and found it to be the best source for clothes for women my age  - not too dowdy like Coldwater Creek can be, not too embellished like Chico's....like the perfect bowl of porridge, SS is just right. It reminds me of J. Jill in the early years before they apparently decided to mute all of their colors. And they're long on tunics right now, which is a bonus.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tied up in knots

Despite having not one but two Eagle Scouts in the family, I'm all thumbs when it comes to knots. Thanks to this adorable young woman who demonstrates not once but three times, I now know a new way to tie my scarves this winter. Thank you, adorable young woman!

And, just to prove I did it, here's me (looking rather severe) wearing the new look. All it took was two tries!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

That stork must be exhausted

The indefatigable Duggar family, stars of a TLC reality show I've never seen - was back on the Today show this morning with - surprise, surprise! - another birth announcement: 45-year-old Michelle Dugar, mother of 19 and grandmother of 2, is pregnant and due in April...with Number 20. My only question is...
is that the look of love or desperation on the poor woman's face? That smiling sap she's held captive by married to needs to be fixed right now... on the Today show.

I can't feel a thing!

Last night and early this morning, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been burning up with friends claiming to have felt the Oklahoma earthquakes here in town. I'm not feeling it, dammit, and it's so frustrating! The hubs says it's because our home is built on a quarry and there's nothing like a little bedrock to stop a land tremor in its tracks. Still, it would be cool to feel the earth move under my feet...if only to cue one of my favorite songs of all time, which I'll do, regardless:

My best grade ever

The hubs and I are refinancing the house to take advantage of historically low rates (3-3/8% on a 10-year fixed) and to buy that luxurious, used "conveyance" I talked about last week. (What can I say? It was a deal he couldn't refuse, our daughter needed to get out of her death trap and I detest car loans.) I cringed at getting into a loan with a term that was almost four years longer than our current mortgage but, in the end, the numbers made sense and we can pay it down (or off, completely) early without penalty. The process has been fairly painless. The appraiser came yesterday, and it will be interesting (if not a little heartbreaking) to see how much our home is worth on today's market. The best part was seeing my credit score: A whopping 811, the equivalent of an A-plus! I've been hearing about credit scores for years now (thanks to adorable money nerd, Clark Howard) and always wondered what mine was. It turns out, despite my woeful beginnings as a single and financially clueless person, I am now a really good risk. Age has its advantages, I suppose.

Monday, November 7, 2011

DASH away, DASH away all.

I forgot to provide a link to my column yesterday. Must've been because I wasn't very fond of it. Just wasn't salty enough.

My new routine

Yes, I did that this morning. The plank and the push-ups took a couple tries, but I got 'em done. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a protein shake and a couple of ibuprofens with my name on them.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Newsflash: You are not crazy and neither am I

This a really thought-provoking piece about the "epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive and unhinged." I think it's important reading for women, men and, especially, girls.
    The writer - male, for the record - blames men, mostly, but I'd argue that women are guilty of perpetuating the myth, too. I've been hearing "calm down, you're over-reacting" my whole life, starting from my parents (mostly my dad, but Mom, too) and, now, even my kids get into the act once in a while. (I confess that I have accused my daughter of the same 'offense," especially at that time of the month.)
    What's more troubling are the people in our lives who - intentionally or unknowingly - practice 'gaslighting', which means "creating a reaction -- whether it's anger, frustration, sadness -- in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren't rational or normal." I am fortunate not to live with a gaslighter, but I have been 'gaslighted' in the past, and it can be damaging to your sense of self. 
   My take-away: Our reactions are simply our reactions. Our sensitivity levels are neither over or under. They just are. From now on, let's stop apologizing for being normal.

Falling back, but falling softly

    In an effort to soften the blow of daylight savings time coming to an end, I took two 3 mg Melatonin tabs last night at 10 and slept soundly until 8 a.m. which, of course, was 7 a.m. on my self-adjusting timepieces this morning.  Melatonin (see link above) is my new alternative to the half-Ambien I've been taking every other night to combat my - for lack of a sexier term - post-menopausal insomnia. (Let's face it, insomnia at any age isn't sexy. Unless you're a hooker. In that case, it might be a somewhat attractive asset.)
   The only thing I really like about standard time is leaving the office in the dark. It gives you that sense of accomplishment, staying until the streetlights come on. As if you've burned the midnight oil, albeit seven hours earlier.
   Otherwise - with an apologetic nod to my farmer friends - it kind of sucks.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday night special

Our first Saturday night at home in ages and I celebrated by cooking one of those random, whatever's-about-to-go-bad dinners: Swedish meatballs, roasted butternut squash with cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar, tossed salad with avocado and steamed leaves from a lone artichoke I found in my crisper drawer. Heavenly. Now, if I can just get the old man from switching between three football games every two minutes, I may not have to kill him.

Amazing Grace: The story

I've been to three funerals this fall, all for middle-aged white people. (Hasn't been the happiest of seasons this year.) At two out of three services, they played "Amazing Grace." That little factoid makes this video all the more informative and inspirational. It's definitely worth 8 minutes of your time.

Video from KarmaTube

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why not me?

   With tonight's jackpot of $245 mill, it's time to play "What would I do if I won the lottery?' a fantasy I indulge far too often, despite the fact that I buy lottery tickets once in a blue moon. But, here's the plan:
    First, I won't even check my ticket until tomorrow morning. I'll need all the sleep I can get if I'm going to hit that jackpot. (And I WILL hit that jackpot!) After triple-checking my numbers, followed by the obligatory leaping and screaming, I'd go straight to the bank and put the ticket in my safe deposit box. Next, I'd plan a series of vacations, starting with another Oceania cruise, if not an extended stay at a European spa...to begin immediately following the prize-claiming ceremony. There, I would de-stress - with the hubs and kids (yes, they can come, too) - and start planning the disbursement of funds to family, friends and charitable causes, along with a few modest home purchases - an apartment in New York City, a chalet in the Rockies and a villa in Sayulita, Mexico. I'd come home just in time for the holidays, so I could do that anonymous Santa thing and hand out out multiple $100 bills to unsuspecting needy people. Stressful? You bet. But, I'd have myself one helluva Christmas.
   What would YOU do?