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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.

 

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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.

 

Age Span

July 24, 2017

My granddaughters have been visiting the last two weeks. They enrich my life tenfold.

Abby and the doll she sewed.Abby and doll she made

Abby is ten and stayed the first week. She took sewing lessons as JoAnn’s in Flagstaff in the mornings (she was the only one to sign up so she got individual attention the whole time) and Volleyball at Pinewood Country Club from four to six p.m. We went out to lunch in Flag after her lessons, her choice. Both girls love to eat at Oscar’s Fiesta Burrito.

I saw an article in the paper about alcohol ink projects. I bought the paints and we decorated plates, mugs and glasses. When I washed a plate, all the paint came off. We were both bummed out. I inquired at Michael’s and found out that that type of paint is not permanent on glass or porcelain. We’ll have to redo them in the fall with different paint and a clear fixative.

Abby’s favorite dog has always been Louie. She lavished attention on him and he loved it.

We went bowling at Cliff Castle Casino one morning with a friend’s granddaughter. They love the fact that I have a Sponge Bob bowling ball. My youngest son was into tournament bowling in high school. When he won the Sponge Bob ball, he magnanimously gave it to me.

She was an absolute pleasure. She made her bed, brushed her teeth and made her own peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches for dinner. She’s a picky eater so it was difficult to get fruits and vegetables into her eating pattern. She rarely used her iPad except to face time her parents and to entertain herself during rides in the car. We bought an outfit for her to wear to a concert she attended the day she returned to Phoenix. We also bought her school supplies from the list provided by her school. That’s an annual tradition. I do so love school supplies.

This is her sixth summer of spending a week with me at the cabin. I was totally exhausted after her first visit, when she was five. She required much more physical caretaking and entertaining. That’s when I missed having a mate to “tag team” when it got frustrating or too tiring. Now she knows Granny’s Rules and I rarely need to correct her behavior. We both love reading and were content to read our separate books.

Savy, six, is visiting this week. She’s also incredibly well-behaved. Kudos to her parents, Shelley and Nick. I was wondering if it would be too much for me, now that I’m five years older than when I first had Abby visit. I’m glad to report that my physical condition has not deteriorated, and I have plenty of energy for this very active child.

Unfortunately, it rained all day, every day. Swimming in the country club pool was not an option. And she’d already seen the child-friendly movies that were playing in FlSavy paints 2017agstaff. The first day she found crafts to do for six hours.

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t notice she’d gotten “washable” paint on her favorite dress. I soaked it in Dawn detergent and scrubbed it but not all the paint came out and the whole dress has a rose tint to it. I went on line to find the same dress but couldn’t. I ordered a similar one she chose.

I discovered that I could get the Disney Princess channel on Pandora. I hooked dup my new speakers and she was a happy camper.

Since Savy was to attend craft classes at JoAnn’s, we went into town to buy the supplies. First, we went to the Flagstaff Farmer’s Market and bought some items including a watermelon. That’s her favorite snack, along with dill pickles. We had to make several stops for her craft supplies, plus we bought some more crafts for home. She knew that Abby had gotten an outfit so we shopped for one for her. We stopped at MacDonald’s for lunch. I was tired and she got to burn off some energy on their play equipment.

We made the cupcakes that she would decorate during her first class at JoAnn’s. She did the craft we bought by herself, but managed to get paint on her white tank top. I forgot to have her put on one of my old tee shirts. The next day we bought another white tank top. After that I remembered to have her wear my tee shirt.

She bought a large ball and I must admit the bouncing of it on the wood floors drove me crazy. I had to make the rule that it could only be bounced on the carpet in the bedroom or on the porch.

Savy was also the only student in the craft class so she did not get frustrated with learning new skills. Her favorite dog was Sparky, and she missed him. She didn’t warm up to Louie and shooed him off his favorite chair to sit there alone. I was more than willing to provide attention for Louie.

I used to visit my paternal grandmother went to Coney Island for the summer and I spent a week with her during the summer. She was kosher and made food I’d never tasted. She would only allow me to go on the carousel. I looked longingly at the other rides on the boardwalk. It had to be eighty degrees before she would let me go swimming. Friends of hers at the rooming house played rummy for money. One summer I won all the money. My father was not pleased. She was a wonderful storyteller.

I treasured the time I spent with her. I have a seven-month-old granddaughter. Question: Will I have the stamina to provide the same experiences for her? I hope so.

 

 

 

 

Heat Wave

June 25, 2017

I’ve never known it to be so hot for so long up here in the mountains. Ninety-five degrees, for gosh sakes! It’s times like this that I’m glad I’m single.

I wear tank tops and short to Pickleball, fat thighs and flabby arms notwithstanding. It’s too hot to look good. after taking a shower, I wear loose linen pants and a cotton tee shirt.

air conditioner at cabin

I do have one of those portable (?) air conditioners that you hook up a hose to a window. I would have bought a conventional window air conditioner but all my windows open side-to-side, not up and down. I placed the portable one in one of my living room windows. In past years I haven’t found it to be effective, barely cooling the room to eighty-seven degrees. Last year I didn’t even pull it out from behind my television.

With the heat wave predicted, I positioned it in the window. I knew to open the cabins’ windows at night and then close them when the heat started, trapping in the cold air. This year I turned on the air conditioner as soon as the room got to eighty degrees. Throughout the day, the room stayed between seventy-eight and eighty degrees, acceptable to me. I turned it off when it cooled down after eight at night.

Right before I went to bed, I opened the windows in the bedroom and turned on the ceiling fan. That got the room cool enough to sleep in alone. It seemed luxurious to have the cool sheets and the queen-sized bed to myself.

Louie on the bed

Even Louie, my dog, didn’t crowd up at his usual place, at the head of the bed where the other pillow would be. He lays down on the bottom of the bed, as anxious to get away from my heated body as I was to stay clear of his.

In the cooler months, I do crave a warm body beside me. Not just any body, but one I would enjoy snuggling with and helping me warm the bed. I draw the line at spooning with my dog. Ee-yew!

 

Decadence in the Pines

June 16, 2017

         

  When I first moved to Munds Park ten summers ago, I named my cabin “Chill on the Hill.” My friend Susan commissioned a sign in pottery to make it official.

I leave my over-planned life in Scottsdale behind. There I’m always busy watching independent movies at The Camelview, lunch and dinner dates with friends, weekly Happy Hours with my neighbors, comforting friends, giving advice, activities with my kids and grandkids and working an overwhelming contract job.

I still have some scheduled items up here, Book Club and Writing Group, but I get more time to leisurely read The New York Times and The Arizona Daily Sun while sipping tea. I take my pokey little puppy for walks. I write and reflect.

A neighbor of mine on Cedar Wood, Terry, went to Beauty School last year and passed her licensing test. She offers mobile services, but only the ones she like to render: Facials, Pedicures, Manicures, Clipper Cuts and Trims You go, girl. Do what you love. I arranged for a facial yesterday. It was an indulgence.

She arrived with many supplies, including the table and a crock pot with hot towels. I laid down on the sturdy cot and listened to a classical piano channel on Pandora. Terry has a light touch., She cleansed and moisturized. Who knew a facial massage would be so relaxing?

I had my choice of a fourteen carat or seaweed mask. I chose the latter. I should have asked Terry to take a photo of me with the mask on and the cucumbers overs my eyes.

Toward the end of the treatment, she put very warm towels on my face. Aaaah.

My faced felt soft and supple. And still does two days later.

As she packed up, I considered what to do next since I was so relaxed. Reading and savoring dark chocolate caramels, of course. I could tell Louie was jealous, so I gave him a massage later.