Blogger Fodder

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since we became empty-nesters and moved out of the neighborhood where we raised our children. Our new house is larger and has afforded us the privilege of having lots of company. I think there’s something to the fact that there is a separate area for guests and no children to compete with over the bathroom.

For the majority of the summer we have had adult children and grandchildren staying with us. When one family leaves, another arrives. We love it!

Selfishly, I figured it would give me fodder for my blog, so I created a little writing niche where I can go behind closed doors and create. But there are either ideas to write about or time to write them. Not to mention how distracting grandchildren are – all that cuteness! It is wonderful to be surrounded by people again, but there are a few drawbacks.

For instance, privacy – having grandchildren around means never peeing alone. I will tell them that I’ll be right back – I just have to go to the bathroom. They will even acknowledge me. Then off I “go” and within seconds they are yelling across the house for me with important questions like, “Can I have a piece of gum?”

It’s been a long time since I was a mom of school-aged kids, and I forgot the importance they place on having an immediate answer to questions like this. So I will teach them that like their mom, any question asked of me while I am in the bathroom gets an automatic no.

Even as I typed that last sentence I remembered the loop holes. Kids are great at loop holes. What if they ask if they can do the dishes for me or help a sibling with chores? Do I really want to say no to those types of questions? Wait a minute, there is little danger of these questions ever being asked so I think I’m 95 percent safe with my automatic no.

Another drawback is that kids can be kind of judgy when you do something differently than their parents do. For instance, while being a prize-winning grandmother and playing with my grandkids in the pool, I took a break from being squirted in the face with squirt guns and sat in a lounge chair to read a book. This is not the time to read anything that I need to concentrate on. War and Peace will have to wait. It is, however, the perfect time for Seriously…I’m Kidding, by Ellen DeGeneres.

So there I was sitting in the sun and reading Ellen’s funny little essays about life when I noticed I was being watched. “You’re reading that? Mom doesn’t like her.”

I glanced down at the book making sure I hadn’t accidentally picked up a copy of Mein Kampf. Little did my granddaughter know that for me, reading humorous books and stories is like taking my vitamins, except I don’t always remember to take my vitamins. In fact, excuse me. While I’m thinking about it, I better go take them right now.

Thanks. I’m back.

Later when I asked my daughter about this, she was equally baffled. She surmised that her daughter assumed her dislike of Ellen due to the fact that every time they go on the Epcot ride that Ellen hosts, she ends up falling asleep.

I remember those days. When we took the kids on the Haunted Mansion ride and they would snap our pictures. I was the one enjoying a nap on that dark, cool ride.

Speaking of falling asleep, my dad used to say, “Your mother could fall asleep while running for a bus.” I’m like that. Since having grandchildren around more, I’ve reverted to my old ways of dropping off to sleep at inopportune times, like while waiting at red lights, playing with children on the floor, watching movies at the theater, and even while zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. You get the picture – just like the people at the Haunted Mansion did. As a matter of fact, I hear my pillow calling me now.

Creepy and Weird in the Grocery Store

I understand from my extensive watching of movies and TV, that sometimes men try to pick up women in the grocery store.  We make it easy because it’s second nature for a woman to give an opinion to some poor floundering man while he’s choosing produce (or fish or just about any topic, for that matter).  It’s amusing watching them maneuver through the aisles with that deer-in-the-headlights look while they attempt to figure out the huge questions of life, like – how do we know if fruit is ripe or not.

I have often given unsolicited counsel to the noticeably naïve, and rarely have I been met with anything but gratitude.  Never has even one person thrown a tomato at me (would that be a vegetable or a fruit?).  Before I tell you my story of how I think I might possibly have been the victim of someone trying to pick me up in the grocery store, let me relate a few tips that might help the new shopper.  I like to make this blog both fun and educational.

How to buy a cantaloupe:  Method #1:  Choose one.  Purchase it.  Take it home and cut it open.  Taste and see if it’s any good.  Method #2:  This method eliminates some of the mystery that we’re all looking for when we buy cantaloupe.  Scratch and sniff.  Scratch the stem end and give it a sniff.  If it smells like cantaloupe then you likely have not picked up a watermelon, which is much more difficult to pick up and smell anyway.

On a side note, when choosing a watermelon I apply the thump method.  If it sounds hollow when I pluck it with my finger, it’s probably good – especially if it’s in the summertime when watermelon is pretty much always good.

But I digress.  Now that you are prepared for buying summertime melons (you might want to bookmark this and save it for review again in June), we’ll visit the ketchup and mustard aisle.  This is where things get really spicy.  I was choosing a yellow mustard.  Because my husband and I are empty-nesters, we don’t use that much mustard; so I look for the store brand that isn’t too big allowing it to form that ugly, hard, yellow crust around the edge, and not too small either so I don’t pay the same price per ounce as you would caviar.  This must have been a come-on for an old guy lurking in the lane there because he commented about it.  “Picking out mustard.  Do you use it on hotdogs?”

First off, the comedic use of observation is only truly effective if you’re Seinfeld.  Secondly, my mustard preferences are private, mister.  I was polite and informed him I don’t put mustard on hotdogs.  I’m not sure why I divulged this very personal preference, but there you go.  I quickened my step and moved on, not really giving the exchange much thought.  That is until the frozen foods aisle, where I was forced to give this man the cold shoulder while picking out mixed vegetables.  He was a little too obvious there.  Are people really that friendly?  Do others care that I prefer Birds Eye over store brands?  I think not.  I should have said, “Back off, mister, I’ve already been walked down the aisle – at my wedding!”  (Boo-yeah! would have been an optional add-on for effect.)

boo yeahI was able to give him the slip and leave without being followed (my definition of a successful shopping trip).  I remembered that when I was young I would feel flattered if someone inquired about my mustard choices.  Now that I’m not-quite-as-young – not so much.  Perhaps it was because the man who asked the questions was an old guy.  That made it creepy.  Or perhaps it was because I suddenly realized that he was about my age.  That made it weird.

 

 

Starting Over – It Only Feels Like a Punch in the Gut

Bob and I have been on the fast-track ever since we returned home from our trip to Europe at the end of April.  Our feet hit the ground running, or maybe they were shuffling and dragging.  Who can remember!  All I can tell you is – it’s been non-stop (our lives, not our flight from Europe).

Over the summer we had enough major events in our lives to do our own Lifetime made-for-TV movie.  Our youngest son got married.  Our middle son, his wife, and their baby, who had been living with us, moved to Michigan.  We sold our home of 32 years.  The home in which we raised our kids.  The home that Bob drew up the initial plans for.  The home which we had chosen every detail from floor to ceiling.  The home that was in a neighborhood where most of our closest friends live.  Okay, enough of that.  And, we bought and moved into a new (for us) house.  Now, after forty years of marriage, we are official empty-nesters.

This morning as I was trying to get pictures hung on the wall, I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be to hang this one.  I’m not talking about my usual challenge to do anything handy around the house either.


This is not the home where my story began.  Plus, I’m a little old to begin a new story.  I guess I should have left this plaque at the old house.  It doesn’t seem to belong here.

I remember when I bought it.  It was an encouragement.  Now it confuses me.

Yet, I cannot sit in the silence of my lovely new home and not write.  Soon I will have the last of the pictures hung and the last box unpacked.  What will my excuse be then?

So today is a small beginning for me.  This is my first written offering from my new home.  It was not without challenge.  I am writing in a new space with less ready-made distractions – no neighbors that I know and no people living with my husband and me (especially no cute little grandbaby).  It’s going to take some getting used to.  I can do that.  I got used to eating spinach.

For now, I think I’ll post this and go hang my picture.