The Fabulous Four Cruise the Caribbean

April 12, 2018

Fab four on cruise

Elissa and I flew to Miami and met Tammy and Kevin at the airport. We checked into the J.W. Marriot and celebrated my birthday at the restaurant there. Elissa ordered a Rueben sandwich which had smoked salmon instead of pastrami. Totally yummy. 

After an after-dinner drink in the bar, we returned to our rooms. Neither Elissa nor I could get the key card to unlock our door.  We went to the front desk and they called someone to meet us at our room. We tried to take the elevator up to our room, but we needed to use the key card to do it. Another person in the elevator showed us how to use the card. The big arrow did not indicate the end which should be inserted. It was the tiny arrow on the other side of the card. After these instructions, we had no problem unlocking the door to our room.

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We boarded our ship, The Celebrity Eclipse, on Sunday in fine spirits. It was quite luxurious. We are booked into suites on the “Aqua” level, which gives us perks, such as dining in Blu, a much smaller dining room.

We all slept well. The next two days are “at sea.” Elissa and I attended seminars on excursions and shopping in our first port, St. Maarten. Daniele, the shopping coordinator, gave us coupons for freebies at jewelry shops.

Tammy and Kevin went to the Trivia contests.

I tried out the heated tile beds in The Persian Gardens. Very relaxing and conducive to meditation.

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I worked on my book about Cuba. Tammy had a manicure, pedicure and massage. We took relaxing seriously.

I went to the Motown show. Great music and everyone danced.

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When the ship docked in St. Maarten, we took the morning to shop. I bought some tanzanite jewelry and Elissa bought a diamond ring.

Our tour that day was “Flavors of St. Maarten.” The tour was small, only a small bus was needed. Our tour guide Randy and our driver Romeo were entertaining and informative. The island was hit by the fall hurricanes. The Dutch part is eighty percent repaired, but the French side is progressing much more slowly.

Our first shop was the Amsterdam Cheese and Liquor store, on the Dutch side of the island. We tasted four cheeses, paired with wines. I realized that aging Gouda cheese changes and improves the flavor.

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Next, we went to the French side to The Sky’s the Limit, a lo-lo which is an outdoor restaurant with tables. We had barbeque ribs and chicken, coleslaw, potato salad and a johnny cakes. Delicious.

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Randy told us about “jollification.” That is when all your friends come over to paint your house. You serve them food and beer after the job is done.

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We went on to Little Mobay, a Jamaican restaurant situated near Airplane Beach. It was fun to watch the planes come so close to the beach and street. We ate ackee vegetables with slat fish, plantains, pasta salad and rice.

Our last stop was La Sucriere, a French pastry shop. We were seated on the back porch which was also inhabited by iguanas which had been named by the patrons of the bakery. The croissant was fabulous and put the ones on the ship to shame. We all fell in love with the brown butter muffin. I liked the coconut and chocolate tarts.

On Antigua, we all went to swim with the stingrays. Our guide on the bus, Dari, was enthusiastic and sang songs. When we arrived at the site to get the boats, our guide Dijon demonstrated with a stuffed stingray how to hold, feed and pet the sea creatures.

We boarded the boat and headed out to Stingray City. All passengers had to put on life vests but inflating them was not mandatory. When we reached Stingray City, we got off the boat and into the water. The guides corralled some stingrays, so we could hold them as our picture was taken.  We went further in to the aquamarine water and encountered many stingrays to pet.

Fab four stingray

The next day we docked at St. Lucia. Kevin took a sightseeing tour. First think in the morning Elissa and I had a massage that was heavenly.

Elissa and I went through a few shops at the pier. It was very hot and humid. We sat down at The Pink Papaya restaurant. I ordered a rum drink that tasted like a slushee. It went down smoothly. We listened to a man singing and playing the steel drum. We were captured by his voice and songs.

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Elissa ordered a different rum drink which tasted like pure alcohol. She took a few sips and drank no more. She went back to the ship while I used the free wi-fi to post some photos on Facebook. The rum hit me suddenly. I made it back to our cabin and fell asleep immediately. I’m not much of a drinker. I go from sober to asleep, missing the high.

In Barbados the next day Tammy, Kevin and Elissa took a catamaran snorkeling tour. I thought I wouldn’t want to be on a catamaran, but I had the wrong vision of the boat. I also went snorkeling. We all snorkeled and saw the turtles as well as many other fish. We saw a shipwreck from fifteen years ago that the fish took as their own habitat. We had time to swim in the sea.

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After Barbados, we had a day at sea and time to rest up from our adventures.

The next port was on Bonaire. Tammy had treated Elissa and I to a tour for our birthdays. We were met on the pier by a man in shorts, jacket and tie with a flamingo motif. We went on a very uncomfortable old school bus. The guide started out by making a sexist comment. We saw some flamingos. The guide said there were 7,500 flamingos on Bonaire and over 200 wild donkeys. We passed pink ocean water where the salt was taken out, and the mountains of salt. We stopped to get photos of the slave huts, but our guide gave us no information about them. Instead, he made a racist remark about the Chinese.

We were dropped off in the parking lot of a resort called Delfins. No one met us there, so we sauntered to the beach and took up residence in comfy chairs, trying to stay out of the sun. I rented snorkeling equipment and joined Kevin in the water. The beach was rocky, and the dried-up coral made it doubly hard to get into the water. I saw a few fish, but not many. We were given one drink ticket and we got soft drinks with it.

We went to lunch at the resort. There were three courses, but we were only allowed to choose two. A waitress brought a bottle of water that barely dilled our glasses. We all had the cod. It was tasty, but the portions were miniscule. The desert we chose was “deconstructed apple pie.” It was weird. We didn’t like it. When we got back to the ship, we complained about the tour guide and the destination. The Shore Excursion desk refunded our money. 

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Tammy and Kevin sent beautiful flowers for Elissa’s birthday

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Most of the shows in the evenings were disappointing. The comedian on the unicycle was so bad no one laughed.

 

We did love Jane Curry, a singer, and Amy Lee, a violinist. December 1963 did a super job of singing the tunes of Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons. And the cruise director Eddy and the Captain Leo were hysterical in the Liar’s Club game.

I took a snorkeling excursion on the first day we spent at Curacao. The captain told us about the mansions on the shore and we saw a 1.25-million-dollar yacht with a helicopter. It was in a small boat and when we went out into the sea I felt sick. We went to the Spanish Bay and to Curacao Bay. I snorkeled and saw the most amazing fish. By this time, I was feeling quite sick, so I didn’t go around to another cove. All the excursions offer unlimited sum drinks after we snorkel, but I didn’t want to imbibe and immediately fall asleep on the boat. I had forgotten to change the patch behind my ear.

I went shopping after walking over the “floating bridge.” Since Curacoa is a Dutch island, much of the architecture in Dutch but painted in Caribbean colors. I also saw a heart with locks on it. People are encouraged to put a lock on the sculpture “to lock your love.”

That evening Elissa and I explored the top deck of the ship and watched the sun set. Most evenings the clouds impeded our sunset view. That night I thought the clouds made a face with the sun.

For our second day at Curaçao, Elissa and I took a tour to the Hilton where there was a boat that was half submarine. We went below to sit and see the fish up close. A diver went down to feed the fish and it was a frenzy. Elissa got sea sick. After the tour she went back to our suite while I went over the floating bridge and shopped for souvenirs. It was so hot I thought I was going to pass out. When I got back to the suite my face was beet red.

Elissa and were waiting in the Blu dining room for dinner when Tammy called with horrible news. Kevin’s father had just died unexpectedly. We were all shocked and saddened by the news, Tammy asked to speak to the rabbi on board. They cancelled their excursion for Aruba.

In Aruba, I went on another snorkeling tour on a catamaran. It was a large sailing ship. First, we went to a wreck of Atilla that had a great story behind it. In 1940, a German battleship sailed into Aruba. The Dutch official on the island spoke to the captain and he agreed to surrender the ship and the crew the next day. But the captain of the ship got orders from his superior that said under no circumstances should the ship be allowed to be captured because Germany did not want their advanced technology falling into the hands of the Allies. The captain exploded the ship and he and the crew swam to the island and became prisoners of war. After the war, the captain stayed in Aruba and opened the first hotel on the island. The hotel is still in business, being run by the captain’s descendants.

We docked at Pelican Bay where we had a huge BBQ lunch and then time on the beach. I sat in the shade and watched a sand volleyball game. We went back to our ship by bus, not by boat. The bus driver pointed out all the resorts and time-shares.

Elissa did some shopping in Aruba but found it too hot to continue even if there were bargains to be had.

Since I hadn’t participated in many of the onboard activities, I decided to be a part of the flash mob dance. We had three rehearsals before our performance on the last night of the cruise.

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Most nights we ate in the Blu restaurant, reserved for Aqua level people. Dinners on the ship are good and luckily for us, the portions small so we didn’t feel stuffed when they were over.

One of the  most amazing features of the boat was a full-sized tree drowing in the middle.

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A great time was had by all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Single Senior Goes Shopping for a Swim Suit

March 5, 2018

 

I’m going on a two-week Caribbean cruise this month. I have quite a few swim suits if only I knew where they were. I put them away two years ago and haven’t seen them since.

I do have one bathing suit I bought last year, but it’s very difficult to wriggle into. It’s not tight, but it takes a contortionist to hook the bra strap and get the arms in the right place. I usually wear a tee shirt over my suit when I’m swimming so I won’t get sunburned. At least that’s what I tell myself.

In December, I saw an ad for some cute swim suits on Facebook, offered by a company called Liligal. I went to their website and ordered two. They arrived six weeks later! I’m used to Amazon orders arriving the next day. I tried them on and neither fit. Well, the bottom of the tankini fit well. There was no information in the packaging about returns. I noticed the return address was Shanghai.

I went to the website and finally figured out I had to start a “ticket.” I got a reply ten days later. The person who replied to the ticket apologized for tardiness but explained that everyone had the previous week off for Chinese New Year. She offered to refund half my money and I wouldn’t have to send back the merchandise.

I wrote back that I wanted all my money back. About a week later I received a reply, with the return instructions, and another offer. The company would refund me 80% of my money and I wouldn’t have to return anything. I noticed that the instructions did not include a prepaid label. I didn’t know how much it would be to ship the bathing suits to China, so I took the money offer. I kept the bottom of the tankini and gave the rest to friends.

I’ve been working full time for six weeks and didn’t have the time to go swim suit shopping. Or at least, that’s what I told myself. The cruise departure is less than two weeks away, so I swallowed my pride and went to find a swim suit that would cover my breasts. I wear bras to make them look smaller, but I haven’t ever found a swim suit that will do the same.

Yesterday I went to Lane Bryant, a store that caters to plus-size women. I found a black suit that fit, sort of. It still exposed too much on top, but I was desperate. I needed two suits, so I wouldn’t have to put on a wet suit if I did two days of snorkeling.

I went to Old Navy and found several swim suit cover-ups.

Today I went to Nordstrom’s. I’d seen a swim suit on the website that looked promising and was in my size. When I got to the store they had only one suit in my size. It looked okay, but the straps kept coming off. I wasn’t going to spend $130 on something that could unhook and result in a wardrobe malfunction of mammoth proportions.

I tried Macy’s. They had more merchandise in my size, but they all showed too much. They were even more expensive. And didn’t have underwires in the bras, so not only did my boobs show, but they also drooped to my waist.

I went home and ordered the suit from Nordstrom’s. The comments said to order a size larger than your usual size. We’ll see if it fits. I took pictures of how the suits looked, but if I posted them, my blog might be labeled “porn.”

 

Murphy’s Law

January 23, 2018

Murphy’s Law states: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

My home in Scottsdale is a condo that was built in the mid 1970’s. I’ve owned it for ten years and have had relatively few things break or repair. That halcyon period came to an end last summer.

I employ my housekeeper in Scottsdale to do heavy cleaning once a month during the time I’m in Munds Park. In September she sent me a photo of the plaster from the ceiling of the second bedroom. It was on the floor. I had noticed some water coming through in May and had my ex-husband, a roofing salesman, check my roof. He said I didn’t need a new roof, only a slight repair. He would send someone over. My son Max was living in my condo at the time, and he said someone did go up on the roof. I figured that the roof was fixed. No.

I called a roofing company highly recommended by a neighbor and he gave me a quote to fix the roof ($1800) and one to get a new one ($3000.) Since I have a flat roof, I knew that meant foam. I decided to err on the side of caution and paid for a new roof.

Then I had to get the ceiling fixed. The insurance adjuster said it wasn’t covered. A friend recommended a handyman/contractor. He and his assistant did a marvelous job of redoing the ceiling. Since they were at the house, I had them replace two ceiling fans and an inside door. I also ordered my heart’s desire, a set of French doors for that bedroom and they put them in. They look great.

French doors

All went smoothly until it got cold in December. I turned on my heater, but only cold air came out. I called the company my son (who oversaw contractors for a home warranty company) recommended. The repairman looked at the unit and then talked with me. He admitted that he fixed it by banging on it to dislodge the thingamajig (my word, not his) that made the unit switch from air conditioning to heating. To fix it would be $1200 in parts and labor. Since the unit was almost twenty years old, I decided to buy a new one. I got a good deal since it was December and not July.

That must be the end of it, I thought. I was trying to save money for my trip to Tanzania in October.

This month my dryer stopped heating. It is another vintage appliance which I’d had repaired at least five times since I’d lived in the house. I went to Home Depot and bought another one. It was delivered last week, and I was ecstatic until I did washes this past weekend and realized the dryer door was facing the wrong way. The delivery company is coming out later this week to fix it.

Being in Murphy’s Law mode, I was concerned about tip-toing back into dating. I’ve had two dates this month. These guys were true to form. One lied about his age and the other about his height.

The first one, Mr. Beepy, who said he was 70 but looked and acted more like 80, drove long distance trucks because he was bored with retirement. Really? He was a one issue man. He had worked for the County School Superintendent’s Office in research during the 70’s and was sure he knew everything about schools and testing. I told him I worked in testing, but he pooh-poohed my expertise. No second date for him.

The other date was with Mr. Truck. He lied about his height, not his age. He met me at ten in the morning, directly after picking up his new truck. That’s all he wanted to talk about besides politics. He refused all my subtle and not-too-subtle hints to tell me about himself. Guys usually spill their guts on the first meet and greet. Was he married? On the run from the law? No information, no second date.

Maybe the rough patch is over. I’m an eternal optimist.

 

 

How This Single Senior Beat the Holiday Blues

December 28, 2017

I’m a Jew who married a Christian. When we divorced, I also divorced Christmas trees and decorations. I do put up Hannukah decorations, but I missed all the Christmas merriment. Last year I had a few events to attend but this year I decided to be proactive and plan some.

Scottsdazzle is a light installation on the Scottsdale waterfront. I went with my youngest son and his family. The prisms were amazing and the giant ornament enchanting.

I took five friends to the Desert Botanical Garden’s Luminarias. It was a fun-filled evening with five bands, Native American dancers, music and stories, and the traditional candlelit walkways. I was delighted to listen to my favorite Flagstaff band, The Mother Road Trio. There was an installation of ceramic figures by Jun Kaneko. It was a terrific way to get into the season and give my friends experiences instead of material gifts.

I also attended a Christmas Concert given by The Valley Women’s Ensemble. A friend of mine sings with the group. I love Christmas music.

For many years, the women of the family went to the Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz-Carlton. The hotel was sold to another company, so we couldn’t do it last year. I took the initiative and investigated holiday teas. We went to the Gingerbread Tea at the Arizona Biltmore. It was an occasion to dress up and eat lots of tiny tea sandwiches, scones and pastries.

I’m also told Hannukah and Christmas stories to one of my granddaughter’s classes. I did the puppet show of “Claude the Dog,” with the students manipulating the puppets.

I always helped my granddaughters make holiday gifts. The candy cane wreaths were not great, but the gingerbread man pillows and the gingerbread man refrigerator magnets were easy enough but challenging and fun.

I made Oreo truffles with Donna and packaged them for gifts.

Donna, Joan, Myrna and I went on Ollie the Trolley with the Who’s Who in Arizona Singles to see the residential light displays. It was such a pleasure to lean back and not worry about where to go or traffic.

Sharon invited me to see “A Bloody Mary Christmas” at Space 55 Theater. It was a play about three old women who are lushes and curse like sailors. The women playing the roles did an excellent job even though they were decades too young. That’s the opposite problem we have in casting Munds Park plays. I played a 22-year-old woman in one play because I was the youngest woman to audition.

I went to two holiday concerts. My granddaughter Charlotte is in kindergarten and her school had their program at the Mesa Arts Center. It’s a Montessori school and all the students, grades K-12 performed. Abby, my granddaughter in fifth grade, did a terrific job on the trombone for her first band concert. I put on the family Hannukah dinner. Two of my granddaughters came over the Friday night before the dinner and helped me make applesauce from scratch. We also made chocolate pretzels and lemonade.

I felt duty-bound to do so since I bought the latkes from The Original Pancake House. I finally got a family photo I can hang on my wall. I loved seeing the grandchildren appreciate their gifts. I went a bit overboard, as usual.

 

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I went to McCormick Railroad Park with my children and grandchildren. I held a place on the line for the train while they saw Santa. We went on the carousel and had hot chocolate. We were bundled up. It was 55 degrees out, cold for us.

I enjoyed Susan Garvin’s Holiday Party. There were fewer people this year due to illnesses, but we had just as good a time. I ended up with a gift certificate to Changing Hands Bookstore in the lively gift exchange. Of course, Susan gave us a bag of goodies including a stationery box, holiday card, calendar for the new year and a certificate to redeem for card-making gifts or photo albums

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On Christmas Eve I went to Lisa’s house and she cooked up a storm. Sharon’s niece had sent onesie pj’s for Chelsea. Sharon just had to model the cow one.

Christmas Day, I cooked shepherd’s pie for friends and then we went to the movies to see “The Darkest Hour,” about Winston Churchill. I recommend it.

What I learned is that to chase away the blues at Christmas time, I need to get out there and plan some of the activities, not just rely on others to invite me.

 

As Time Goes By

November 7, 2017

Joan portrait

 

It’s a truism that time goes by faster as you grow older. Last week Myrna and I took Joan to The Mountainaire Tavern to celebrate her birthday. Joan commented on how quickly the summer had passed.

Joan's bday

Joan Roff is my hero. She has bounced back from adversity this year. In December, she was run over by a truck. Stemming from that, she had to have extensive dental work, brain surgery, and physical therapy. Her six-year-old dog Rosie died from a heart attack and her cat expired this summer from disease and old age. Yes, all that was devastating, but she’s rebounded back to be an optimistic person who glows with her gusto for life.

Joan meticulously takes care of her own life and finances but is also in charge of her brother’s affairs since he is in a nursing home in their hometown in North Dakota. She communicates daily with her children and is involved in the lives of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

After her husband died more than ten years ago, she adjusted well to living alone. She is happy to answer to no one and live independently.

Like me, she loves live music. Here’s a photo of Larry, the guitar player for the Mother Road Trio, playing to Joan at the Southside Tavern in Flagstaff.

Joan at Southside

Although she doesn’t do international travel now, she’s been to every continent except Antarctica. She understands technology enough to enjoy email, Internet searches, and to stream programs onto her television. She paints portraits of her friends’ dogs, plays bridge, and goes out with her friends. I am honored to be one of them.

 

 

Women’s Day Out

September 18, 2017

I go to Flagstaff at least twice a week, but this year I haven’t been elsewhere. Not to Walnut Canyon, Wupatki, Sedona, Cottonwood, Winslow. I’ve been “nesting” this summer, enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of Munds Park.

Donna and I decided to venture to Cottonwood. She wanted to check out Larry’s, the huge antiques/collectibles store at the top of Main Street in Old Cottonwood. I usually go there and the Art Glitter factory several times a summer, but Art Glitter opened a store in downtown Scottsdale, a few miles from my winter home.

One of the great aspects of being single is we only had to check our own calendars, and not coordinate with a partner. We’re both flexible, so though we intended to go on a Friday, it didn’t work out for Donna, so we went on a Monday.

I didn’t put on my GPS since I’d been there many times before. It was a serendipitous mistake. I made a wrong turn and we passed by “Annie’s,” a café. There were many signs that read, “Meet me at Annie’s,” It was eleven and neither of us had had eaten, so we stopped. I had a luscious breakfast and Donna had a burger. The affable owner, Trina, talked with us. She named the café after her daughter. It’s at 660 E. Mingus Avenue.

Annie at Annie's cafe

Having refreshed ourselves, we headed to Main Street. We went into Larry’s. Donna was looking for a buffet/sideboard to take the place of a cupboard. We searched but did not find one. She did find a stuffed bear head that had playing cards in one pay and a beer can in the other. She loved it! She asked my advice. It was amusing, but I’m not into stuffed animal heads. She’s still thinking about buying it for her cabin.

We walked down the street, poking our heads into the stores. Do I ever do that in Old Town Scottsdale, a mile from my condo? No, but I had a great time looking over the items for dogs and cats at Pawz on Main.

We went into Papillon II and I found some vintage gowns for two of my granddaughters. One was a white Barbie gown. The other was a pink with triangle panels.

We passed a shop with lots of boots. Donna is looking for red boots but they didn’t have her size. She did notice the “Boot Bracelets.” They are like clunky anklets but worn on outside of one boot.

We passed by the tasting rooms but wine was not on our agenda. We thought about stopping for a margarita, but I’m a lightweight and I wouldn’t have been able to drive back.

We found a shop that sold Christy Fisher clothes and accessories. I bought a scarf and Donna got a great Beatles’ shirt. I also bought a pair of yoga pants that had the bones in the legs silkscreened on them for my goddaughter who’s a doctor.

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My GPS showed us a different way back to I-17. I had taken the Camp Verde exit to go to Cottonwood, but we took another road, through Cornville, past the turnoff for Page Springs Cellars Winery, and back onto 1-17 at the McGuireville exit. I think that’s a shorter way to go to Cottonwood.

Donna suggested we try some antique stores in McGuireville. We had no one waiting for us to make dinner so we stopped and shopped. Donna found a fabulous bar set made from wood and cholla but neither of us had anywhere to put it. When we told one of the shop owners what Donna was looking for, he suggested an antique store at the Camp Verde exit.

We drove back to the Cottonwood exit on 1-17 but turned left into Camp Verde. As we went by, Donna suggested we have dinner at Gabriela’s Taco Shop. She’d heard great comments about it. Authentic food and low prices.

We didn’t find what Donna wanted at the antique store, so we went to Gabriela’s. I had the special, a chimichanga, and Donna had a breakfast burrito. They were sublime, as was the salsa. It was tangy and flavorful without being tooooo spicy.

It was a entertaining women’s day out. Sometimes it’s fun to be in the moment and not worry about anything but the next treasure that might be found.

 

Moving On

September 5, 2017

Annie and Louie

You’ll notice my photo has only one dog, Louie. I had to put Sparky out of his misery in April, but I wasn’t ready for a new photo until last weekend.

I’ve endured deaths of friends, children, parents, relatives, and pets. For me, the death of pets is difficult, but in the natural order. Unless I get a tortoise or parrot, I’m going to outlive my pet. Every time one of my pets dies, I ask the question, is it worth the pain? I decide it is and go for another furry bundle of joy. The new pet doesn’t replace the deceased one. My heart expands for another being.

Louie is fourteen. He’s in excellent health except for his teeth. He’s still frisky and does not act like the 91-year-old he is. He was thrown away twice by owners. Joan always marvels that anyone could give up such a wonderful dog.

My son and I had a cat, Oreo. It was a difficult transition for her when we moved from a single-family home with a huge backyard to a condo. She kept getting on the roof and not remembering how to get down.

When I went to China in 2007 for ten weeks, my housekeeper agreed to care for Oreo. When I got back, she didn’t immediately return the cat. When pressed, she said she would bring her back the next week. She did, but she wanted to show me the 250 photos her partner had taken of the cat. My son and I looked at each other. He nodded and I told her she could keep Oreo.

She called me today to say that the cat was in kidney failure. She was going to put her to sleep this past weekend, but Oreo started to eat again. Another pet death is in my immediate future.

People ask if I’m going to get another dog. For now, Louie seems to enjoy being the only animal in the home. I have some out of town trips planned for October and November. Perhaps when I get back, a rescue animal will call my name.

Check out my website at www.annieweissman.com. My novel, Reinvented Lives, is available from her or on Amazon.com.

 

 

Time on My Hands

August 21, 2017

I haven’t been dating this summer, probably due to my last relationship which ended in silence. Yes, silence. I have no idea what happened, but if someone doesn’t want to be with me, I’m not going to pursue him. I haven’t’ had anyone email me from POF (Plenty of Fish dating website) and I haven’t gone fishing.

Slim Jim and th3

I love to listen to live music, so I make an effort to do so with my “gal pals.” This past weekend on Saturday afternoon we rocked to Slim Jim and the Car Thieves at the Pinewood Country Club. I had made myself two small lamb chops for lunch at home, but indulged in sweet potato fires and onion rings while I danced and listened to tunes.

Mother Road Trio 2017

On Sunday, late afternoon, we went into Flagstaff to the Southside Tavern, to listen to my favorite band, The Mother Road Trio. The Southside Tavern is an historic building at 117 S. San Francisco St., between Butler and the railroad tracks. The place has an embossed tin ceiling and a down-home atmosphere. One of their specialties is a thick tomato soup. My favorite dish is the “grilled cheese sliders.” A yummy grilled cheese sandwich is cut into four triangles and each is served dunked into four shot glasses filled with the tomato soup.

The Mother Road Trio (Steve, Larry, and SammyMac) played their eclectic music: blues, old rock n roll, ballads, and their own songs. I have their CD and it keeps me company when I’m driving.

I also decided to take up a new craft. Everyone I knew already had one of my quilts and no one was clamoring for another. I know I should make some for charity, but I’m not that nice. Quilts take tons of time and effort.

While my grandchildren were taking their craft classes at JoAnn’s, I arranged for rag rug lessons. (JoAnn’s will find someone to teach you any craft you hanker after.) I split the four-hour lesson into two parts so I could master the first method before going on the second.

The first session taught me how to use strips of material and crochet them into rugs, placemats, table runners, etc. It’s best done with long lengths of material, like an old sheet. My neighbor Elaine told me the Community Church is using plastic bags with this method to make pallets for the homeless to sleep on.

I started out with hand-woven fabric I’d bought in China in 2007. Tearing it in two-inch strips gave my arm muscles a workout. I made a “thing” to dress up the coffee table in my living room. I then bought fabric (good thing I had a 50% off coupon) to make a table runner for a friend’s birthday. Then I bought more fabric to make placemats for another friend. The latter are not very practical as the placemat is thick and there are many spaces in the crocheting.

placemats

The second session involved making rag rugs with material and yarn. I tore up an old sheet. (I highly recommend ripping fabric as a stress reliever.) I bought some variegated yarn and was quite pleased with how it looked when I started the project. However, I didn’t count stitches and it turned out looking like the first scarf I’d crocheted in 1970: nice in the middle but the rows weren’t the same length. As instructed, I washed the projects in Dreft and put them in the dryer until they were only half wet. I then blocked the placemats and rug. They look better, but not professional. They are relatives of those “loving hands from home” items one sees at craft bazars.

rag rug

I figure if I tell people the rugs are for use outside their doors, the recipients won’t be worried about whether the rug looks “professional.”

At the very least, making these projects keeps me out of the sweets while I’m watching TV.

 

 

I’m No Good At Small Talk

August 15, 2017

A. E, E 1981

Elizabeth, Emily and me in 1981

Whenever I meet someone new, I dread the small talk. It starts with “Where are you from?” “What do (did) you do for work?” And eventually “how many kids do you have?” That’s the stumper.

In August 1986, I was a single mother with two daughters. In August 1987, I was married with two stepsons living with me. That’s about as radical a change as life can throw at a person.

Thirty years ago, on August 16, 1987, my life changed completely. On that date, Northwest Airlines Flight # 255 crashed outside Detroit. Both of my daughters, ages thirteen and seven, were killed. It’s not something I want to mention in casual conversation. At first, I felt compelled to do so, to not deny their existence. That proved to be a conversation stopper; awkward for everyone.

I have written about my journey to go on to a new life in my memoir, As One Door Closes. I wrote the book so I wouldn’t have to talk about it. Anyone who has lost a child understands that the pain never goes away, one learns how to handle life around it.

The problem was I couldn’t promote the book as I would then have to talk about their deaths and the aftermath, negating the whole idea behind the book. I did one interview, on the Pat McMahon Show, He asked questions that surprised and ambushed me. I never did another interview.

This year is the first I can look at photos of my daughters and enjoy them, treasuring the memories.

If you see me on August 16, just give me a hug, but don’t expect me to talk about the crash. I can only write about it.

My memoir is available on Amazon

 

Pickleballing as a Single Person

August 3, 2017

pickleball Annie

There are many sports you can do as a single person or as a couple: golf, tennis, softball, bowling, and skiing. Unfortunately, I have no talent or interest in those sports. I do bowl with the grandkids, once or twice a year. That’s enough for me.

Pickleball is also a sport where you don’t have to be part of a couple. It takes four people to play a game. If more than that show up, people rotate in. Pinewood Country Club has four courts, but many times there aren’t multiples of four. There are couples who come to play, but they don’t usually rotate in together. This makes the sport especially attractive to single people or those whose spouses or significant others don’t play the game. There’s absolutely no stigma in going to the courts alone.

That having been said, some places make distinctions on the level of play. Good players prefer to play with other good players. There’s no handicapping, as in golf, to make up being teamed with a poor player. I always joke that I should have a handicap so whoever plays with me has a chance of winning.

I’ve played between fifty and seventy games this year. I’ve been on the winning side a handful of times. This would be discouraging to many people. I improve each year, but then so does everyone else. And many of the newer players start out better than me because they are athletic, which I’m not. It’s a good thing I’m not competitive or I’d get upset when I lost, which is most of the time. I see Pickleball as extra steps on my Fitbit and time in the outdoors spent with fun people.