Thursday, November 30, 2023

What A Great Morning!

This morning's grocery shop was going to be a big one. I made sure to get up early and be on the road by 9AM, headed to the nicer store since produce was prominent in my list. There was still snow on the ground and ice in the driveway, leftovers from the storm earlier in the week. But the temperature was forecast to be at least 52 today, so I knew neither would last much longer.

Sadly, I hit an icy patch coming out of the garage and before I knew it, I had bumped into the corner of the house. My backup camera was no help, either, since it was caked with dirty salt residue. Luckily, it was such a soft bump that there was no damage to the car, and that corner was hit long ago by Rick, so any new damage to that piece of siding was hard to discern. I straightened out and carefully pulled down the rest of the drive. 

I still couldn't see well out of the backup camera, so I decided I'd better stop and clean it off. Parking at the foot of my driveway, I saw a young man and his dog waiting to go past. He waved me by, but I got out of the car. "Go ahead," I said. "I have to clean off my backup camera so I can see what I'm doing." In an instant, his dog, a Bull Terrier mix, ran up to me joyously. "Sorry," he said, "I'm trying to train him to walk off-leash." 

I bent and petted the wiggly dog. "Oh, that's okay. It's not his fault that I suddenly came on the scene." In an instant, the dog disappeared, and his owner groaned. "Sammy, no! Get out of there! Sammy, come! Aw, geeze, he's in your car. Sammy! That's not our car. You're not going for a ride! I'm so sorry."

I turned around to see Sammy, happily perched in the driver's seat of my Prius, smiling widely, tail wagging furiously. He jumped out and ran to me, jumping up to lick my face. His owner was mortified. I was completely delighted.

"It's been a pleasure to meet you, Sammy!" I really meant it. "I hope I see you in the neighborhood again soon." 

Sammy's owner sighed. "I'm really sorry about your car."

"It's nothing! Have a good walk. You have a terrific dog," I said. It really was nothing, just a few wet pawprints that wiped away with a tissue. But the encounter kept me chuckling and smiling to myself for the rest of the morning.

Honestly, that just made my day.


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Decluttering Saga Continues: How My House Is Becoming Audrey Hepburn, And I'm Ready To Junk Precious Metals

 The decluttering and streamlining continue at the Dept., and I have to tell you:  my house feels alien to me. Right now, instead of looking Uncluttered and Airy and Streamlined, it looks more like I'm Moving Out. It's less cozy and more cool. I feel like my house is becoming aloof and might start smoking a cigarette using one of those long holders.

My living and dining rooms now

Have I gone too far in the name of Simplicity and Pseudo-Minimalism? Maybe I just need some time to get used to it. After all, I've lived with that stuff for decades. It was just sitting around for decoration! It wasn't useful! All it did was collect dust and make it hard to clean and vacuum!

Do you know I have a silver casserole dish in the basement that has been sitting there, unused and still wrapped, for almost 40 years? It's sitting on top of a silverplate pie dish, also never used. They were wedding presents from 1981 that travelled to the house when we bought it in 1985. Today they were joined by a silver tray, badly tarnished. I just want to throw them all out and stop thinking about the ridiculousness of them all. (I already threw out a set of silverplate salad tongs; I mean, come on!)

I also have dozens of Very Old Books, circa 1900-1920s, that I want to get rid of. I can't bear to think of tossing them, but they are not in terrific condition and likely not worth anything. Small volumes of classics, Shakespeare's plays, Poe collections, essays by obscure authors--all school texts from long ago. What to do with them? 
Who is Macaulay? Who is Dr. Frank Crane? No idea.

Right now, they are cleverly stacked on a chair slid under the dining room table. They are in a Transitioning Phase. I have to gird my loins and steel my spine for what I know I must do. It will be impossibly hard. But go they must. Perhaps I'll send them off with the silver pieces so that they feel Honoured and Worthy and In Good Company.


When Rick gets home from work, he will help me carry the breakfront out of the living room. It truly was serving no purpose other than decorative, holding tchochkes and more old (but beautifully bound) books under the faux Vermeer. It's going into storage in the basement or upstairs. I honestly think we bought it because it was lovely and matched other tables we bought at the time.

Pretty, but just a dust collector

I'm letting it go. It will either be donated or sold at the lake community garage sale in the spring. The faux Vermeer can have the whole wall to itself. It deserves it.

I think I'll give myself a couple of weeks to get used to the decluttered spaces, tweaking things here and there. It's a Process. But I'm fully committed. Tomorrow, I'm tackling the living room closet and all the junk that's accumulated in there. (Do you know there's actually a coonskin cap in there someplace? Trust me, that's gone, too.)

Buoy my spirits in Comments, or at least tell me what to do with that Stuff!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

It's The Word Of The Year!

Editor at large Peter Sokolowski of Merriam-Webster (the dictionary of record, apparently) made a big announcement this week that we finally have The Word Of The Year for 2023. Before I tell you what it is, let me assure you that this Word isn't chosen at random by some Word Nerds in a dusty room full of card catalogs. Heavens no! Mr. Sokolowski and his team pore over vast quantities of data, watching spikes in the words that people look up and the events in the world that correspond to those words. This year, it would seem that there was a constant interest in The Word overall, and people were always looking it up to find out exactly what it meant. What word were they looking up?


That's your Word Of The Year, ladies and gentlemen.  Let's now take a look at the Words that AUTHENTIC beat out. These words also spiked the lookup data, but are also-rans:

1.  RIZZ:  slang for romantic appeal; possibly short for Charisma. (never once heard/read this out on the wild)

2.  KIBBUTZ:  communal farm or settlement in Israel. (this has a sad reason for being in the news lately; I already knew what this was from my reading)

3.  IMPLODE:  to burst inward. (probably spiked during the Titanic submersible tragedy; I thought this was a fairly common word)

4.  DEADNAME:  the name a transgender person was given at birth and no longer uses upon transitioning. (this is a term that I learned from being an ally and trying to educate myself)

5.  DOPPELGANGER:  a double; a lookalike. (it's so fun to say! I think it also has some nuance, like the double can also be your alter ego or opposite personality)

6.  CORONATION:  the act or occasion of crowning, as a royal. (probably spiked during the ascension of King Charles)

7.  DEEPFAKE:  a manipulated recording/video made to look like someone or something did/said something they did not. (these things are scary, and I worry about the election cycle and social media platforms like fb and Xitter, which are not very responsible or discerning)

8.  DYSTOPIAN:  relating to an imagined state of intense human suffering and misery, usually brought upon by injustice and inhumanity. (I think we can all imagine why this word spiked)

9.  COVENANT:  a formal, solemn, and binding agreement. ( Lots of talk of covenant marriages--a Supreme Court Justice has one, the new Speaker of the House has one, and the latter even uses a software app called Covenant Eyes to track his and his son's porn viewing and report back to each other. Not creepy at all!)

10. INDICT:  to formally accuse of/charge with a crime. (I can think of 91 reasons why this word spiked, can't you?)

The Word Of The Year--Authentic--is always my word of the year. As Miss Maudie said about Atticus Finch, I'm the same in the house as I am on the public streets. I was raised on it. My father always quoted Polonius to us from William Shakespeare's Hamlet--"To thine own self be true." He never quoted the rest, but I will here:

“This above all: to thine own self be true

And it must follow, as the night the day

Thou canst not then be false to any man/"

My dad was Authentic to a fault. Still, he had a lot of Rizz.

Chat me up about the Word(s) of the Year in Comments. 

Monday, November 27, 2023

Second Thanksgiving Was A Bust, But At Least There's Soup

econd Thanksgiving did not happen at the Dept. after all. Sam got Covid. My turkey was already thawed, however; it had to be roasted, so today I made Thanksgiving 2.0 with the idea of delivering leftovers. Oh well, Life happens.

I just don't know when Sam will feel like eating anything so substantial. Right now he's eating soup. Tomato soup, which is my Go To Soup. Do you have Go To Soups? Here are my 

Top 3 Go To Soups
1. Tomato
2. Lentil
3. Winter Squash

Look, I don't have to get fancy about my Tomato soup. Campbell's is great for me. I make it with water, and at the end, I add a splash of half-and-half. And I add a ridiculous amount of crushed crackers to it. Sometimes, I'm out of Tomato or I need a change. That's when I grab a can of Lentil soup. I'm the only one who likes Lentil soup, so I don't bother making my own. (I like Progresso's.) In the fall and winter, I make Ina Garten's Winter Squash soup. It's easy and has a canned pumpkin base. So good!

I like to make my own Chicken Soup, and I add a big knob of fresh ginger to it. Sometimes I make it with rice, sometimes with noodles or ditalini pasta, and sometimes with diced potatoes. I always make a huge amount and freeze it in small containers so that I can give some to others. And I found a great recipe for Pasta Fagioli Soup (is it redundant to add Soup to that name?) that's really easy to make. Still, none of those are my Go To Comfort Soups. 

My Thanksgiving 2.0 turkey carcass and any leftover leftovers (you know what those are--the pieces that aren't good enough for sandwiches or turkey pie) will become Turkey Soup. Sam can have some of that, too, when he comes for lunch once he's feeling better. After all, it's the Season Of Soup, now that the weather has gotten much cooler for so many of us. 

So, what are your Go To Soups? Do you make your own as well? Chat me up about all things Soupy in Comments.


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Let's See If We're A Success (According To A Millennial Guy)


It's Sunday and even after beaching myself on the couch in my jammies like a Leisure Whale until almost noon, I still managed to have a productive day. My Streamline/DeClutter Project continued, and I got rid of or put away a lot of stuff, stuff that will later be donated or sold at the community garage sale in the spring. I was feeling quite Accomplished, let me tell you, and my efforts will continue tomorrow.  

Lest you feel overshadowed by my Great Success, I've got you covered. I came across this article, brought to you by the hugely respected journalistic source known as HackSpirit. The author of the article, a man in his mid-thirties who admits he's "gearing up for his mid-life crisis," says there are "11 accomplishments that could mean you're more successful than you think." I don't know about you, but I'm definitely interested in what a thirtysomething man deems Success In Life. Let's go!

1. College degree or equivalent

2. Mastery of a hobby

3. Marriage

4. Own property/real estate

5. Have a job, a car, a home, a partner at the same time

6. 3 months' expenses in savings

7. Someone has said they are envious of you

8. Someone has asked to interview you

9. Good credit rating

10.Childhood self would approve

11. Feeling of accomplishment

I cannot believe that Decluttering is not on this list. Nor is Restraining My Urge To Give Advice To Adult Children.

But I digress.

Obviously, a few of these are just bullshit. Does anyone have to be married to be Accomplished or Successful? Has everyone been asked for an interview? I think we all know plenty of accomplished people--successful people--who lack a college degree (or equivalent). 

I will say that I like Number 10 quite a bit. Personally, my Childhood Self would approve of Grownup Nance many times over. I think I mentioned before that I keep my kindergarten photo on my dresser to remind me of the little girl who wanted to be a teacher and a mom. I look at her often and think about how so many of her dreams came true and then some. It helps me stay grateful.

Many of these smack of great privilege. Not everyone can own their own home. Not everyone can maintain 3 months' savings for emergencies. And we all know that Success is relative.

Some days, my only criteria for Success is to remain vertical during a migraine. Others, it's to refrain from saying anything about the pile of papers on the table next to Rick's chair. Or, it might be to get dinner on the table five days a week.

How do you feel about these 11 criteria for Success? Do you feel like you're a Success? Which criteria would you change or add?


Saturday, November 25, 2023

My Unofficial Uniform

 When I was still teaching, I amassed an incredible work wardrobe. It was important to me to look polished and professional every single day. Our school didn't have a Dress Code for teachers, but I made sure no one could mistake me for some random adult in the building. I wore high heels every day except for some Fridays, which were Bluejeans Day for staff. Even on that day, my jeans were impeccable, and I often wore a nice jacket or fancy sweater or blouse and never tennis shoes/sneakers. EVER. Students often asked me if I even owned a pair of sneakers. "Why on Earth would I?" I answered. "What would I do in them?" Bless their hearts. They found me enigmatic and irresistably curious, exactly as I wanted them to.

I often wished, back in those days, that our school would institute uniforms. Not for the students, but for staff. Some of the stuff my colleagues wore looked as if they had just finished cleaning their garage and hurried into school. Still others appeared as if they merely grabbed something out of a donation bin. It was sad how many of them wore tennis shoes every single day. 

But I also wanted the simplicity of a uniform for myself. It would save me a lot of time and money. It would free up a ton of closet space in my teensy little house, where I was already using two skinny closets and a dresser. I dreamed about just slinging on the same outfit every day, or some variation thereof. It seemed like Freedom.

Now I'm retired, and I've adopted the Uniform Policy that I longed for. In cooler weather, I almost exclusively wear black leggings. The tops are interchangeable, depending upon how warm I need to be. Thick sweatshirts and sweaters, long shirts, boho flowy shirts, with a black cami underneath as needed. In warmer weather, stretch denim shorts with a long inseam and those same boho tops with long sleeves. Camis underneath, usually. Slip-on Vans-style shoes in black, grey, and brown leather and faux leather. 

I've learned that I dislike jeans--they don't keep me warm and they aren't comfy. I sit all folded up, and jeans don't move with me. Their fabric gets cold. I don't like the waistband and button and zipper. It feels...bulky. I don't like that. And do not get me started on bras. I avoid them whenever I can, which is 80% of the time. Thank you, spandex camisoles.

Do I have to constantly remove cat hair from my leggings? SIGH. YES. Do I remember back when I said I would never wear leggings and that I would ban them as public outerwear? SIGH. YES. I consider those two facts to be Minor Inconveniences.

I'm wondering--do you have an Unofficial Uniform? When did it happen?


Friday, November 24, 2023

My Thanksgiving Wasn't...Mine, And I Had To Find My Way


Yesterday was not my usual Thanksgiving Day in so many ways. I thrive on quiet, lack of spontaneity, and routine, and not having my usual holiday made me feel sort of lost and rattled. Still, there were enough touchstones of tradition and routine that grounded me. 

I didn't host our family Thanksgiving. Instead, because Jordan's family flew in from the West, we joined them for a lovely time (and later took food to the hospital for Jared and Jordan). I still baked pies, however, and Rick made his famous cranberry orange relish. I also made roasted Brussels sprouts (which suffered in the hour-plus journey, sadly). We also supplied the wine. Do I have a turkey waiting in my basement fridge? Yes, I do. Did I make a ridiculous amount of stuffing/dressing today? Yes, I did. Let's hear it for Second Thanksgiving.

This year, I did not watch any part of The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I had every incentive to watch it, too, since I heard that there were strong winds with gusts that made it iffy for the balloons to even be in the parade. I still remember the year that strong winds wreaked havoc on balloons, causing handlers to be dragged along the route. That same year, those winds caused Barney to deflate after he got torn open. A few years before, Kermit the Frog suffered the same fate. I'm willing to suffer through a lot of drivel from Al Roker and his harem just in case a balloon goes haywire. Oh, and for the arrival of Santa. Macy's has the best Santa, bar none.

I did, however, watch a bit of the National Dog Show. Gosh, I love a dog show, especially one in which a poodle does not win. I have a deep bias against all poodles, and I'm unapologetic about it. Let me just say that I Have Tried with poodles many times. They make zero effort in return, so I'm done. In this year's Dog Show, once again, my favourite dog, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, did not win anything. I'm starting to think the fix is in. 

We got to spend time with Jared and Jordan, and Emily (Sam's longtime partner) stopped by for a visit and to cut some fresh rosemary from my herb garden and sample Rick's relish. We did not see Sam, unfortunately, but he'll be here for Second Thanksgiving. Thank goodness for the family group chat; we were all connected that way. (And yes, Longtime Readers, I do remember all the times I said I'd never (A) text or (B) use text as a verb, and now I do both.)

It wasn't our usual Thanksgiving, but it was a pretty good one. Our usual Thanksgivings are bound to be changing anyway, come to think of it. Could the fortunes of the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever be next? I sure hope so.


E=mc OOPS!


What the heck even happened to yesterday? This whole week has defied the very Concept Of Time. Heretofore, the days were neat little chunks with firm Start- and Endpoints. This week they all smeared into one another as if the ink was wet on the calendar and someone dragged her finger across it. 

As a result, I missed writing here yesterday. I did manage to get to most of your blogs, I think, and comment. Honestly, I feel a bit drugged and hungover. Let's pretend this is yesterday's post, and I'll be back later today with a better one. And no need to comment on this. Honestly, what on Earth could you even say? I'm just trying to keep my Promise To Myself for the month of November. 

See you later, and I swear it won't be gushing about the baby. That stuff has its limits, and you've all been More Than Kind. Terrific, even. I just need to get my collective shit together and hit Restart. Wow do I.


Wednesday, November 22, 2023



Whew! After so many agonizing hours (for Jared and Jordan, too! LOL), Theo arrived this morning with a little help from a surgical team. Everyone's fine and doing well.

I've already added his birthday to my iPhone calendar because that's what you do in a haze of Joy and Relief and Oh I Don't Know What. 

He's beautiful and sweet, and I can't wait to see him and hold him and breathe him in like the first spring breeze after a long, cold winter. 

I want to hold my son and tell him again how much I love him and how proud I am of him. And I want to hug Jordan and tell her what a warrior she is and how I love her for her strength and unwavering devotion. 

It's a Big Day. Theo is here.


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

I Feel Like Tom Petty


The waiting really is The Hardest Part. For me, anyway. I remember only too well what Jordan's going through. She and Jared are hanging in there, though. To quote another singer, "Tonight's the night. It's gonna be alright." Thanks, Rod Stewart; I needed that. 


Monday, November 20, 2023

Holy Cow! And Did I Ever Pay A Lot For Produce Today (But It Was Unattached, Ambulatory, And Mobile)

 Today's post has to be quick and easy. It's BDay--Baby Day. Jordan and Jared report to the hospital today where she will be induced. I'm distracted, and I just paid FIFTEEN DOLLARS for Brussels sprouts at the grocery store today. I had to buy a large quantity, and rather than pick through a big bin like a fussy old lady, I bought two big bags of prewashed and sorted ones without even looking at the price. That's how you know I'm not quite myself.

So! In order to make this a Fast Dash Post, here are a couple of things I noticed lately.

Goes with any decor!

This was from a recent Rural King ad. That's my go-to store for bulk quantities of birdseed and now raw peanuts in the shell. I'm not even interested in the idea of two breeds of cattle footstools. I just want to know why the ad felt it necessary to note that they were Deployable. The usual definition of deployable is a military one:  able to be moved to a place of readiness or usage. A more general definition of deployable is unattached, mobile, or ambulatory; able to be moved from place to place. Now, yes, those all can describe a Simulated Bovine Footrest, but must it be noted? And must such a highfalutin word be used? In a Rural King ad? (Oh, and how many do you want?)

This slogan does not inspire confidence.

This was the contractor who was doing some work on a home in my neighbourhood. This sign made me stop and think. Exactly what are they trusting in God for? Are they largely unskilled and have faith that He will help them do a good job? Do they not take a downpayment for materials and figure that the Almighty will provide? Do they bring all the stuff to your house, pray awhile, and hope that God shows up to do the work for you/them? I have so many questions. Too many to ever hire them, and as a Recovering Catholic and atheist, I feel like they just aren't my people.

Can you answer my questions--or make me feel better about overpriced Brussels sprouts--in Comments?

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Some Things--If They Must Happen--Should Never Happen Indoors


This morning as I was reading the newspapers and my ever-inspiring Google News Feed, I came upon an article predicting the US winter weather for 2023-24. According to Science, my area of the country will have a warmer than normal winter with a lot less snow.

Hooray, hooray, hooray!

That is my kind of winter, and I could not be happier. Bring it on, Science, and let's hope you're right! 

I'll never understand the Kind Of People who say things like

1. I love snow.

2. Let's go skiing.

3. I hope we have a White Christmas.

4. Snow is so pretty.

5. I just love to go tobogganing.

These people are, to be polite, crazy. Have they ever driven in snow? Cleaned it off their car? Shovelled it? Gotten stuck in it? Had it ruin/cancel their plans? Walked in slush or salt that ruins your shoes/boots? Had to clear snow/ice off your roof? Gotten tired of ice, snow, and melted same tracked all over the place? Does snow on Christmas really improve it in any way? 

 My mother likes to say Olde Fashionde things about Snow and Winter to me all the Tyme. She claims that we need Snow, that it's bad if we don't get enough. I tell her that there are enormous areas of the entire world that never, ever get Snow and they do just fine. She shakes her head sadly at me and tells me that I don't understand. And then she says some stuff about Nature and I give up entirely.

Truly. I give up on SnowLoving People. Like the people at this place, which I heard about on TV this morning while Rick watched the local news. The reporter was very excited to tell us that during their FROST experience, the attendees will be snowed upon INDOORS. With real snow.


I was horrified. Even if I wore my battery-operated heated coat, there would be no way in hell I'd go to be snowed upon inside a building. That, dear friends, is my nightmare.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

In Which I Reveal That Being A GrownUp Isn't Always Great


We didn't go to the lake this weekend. Instead, we stayed at home and did terrible, awful GrownUp Things like Fall Cleanup in the yard (Rick) and cleaning the stove, kitchen, and basement pantry and laundry area (Nance). It was No Fun At All, and now our backs hurt. And we both might be Just A Little Bit Crabby.

It reminded me of when I was a kid. Every Saturday we used to have to clean our room. I shared the big converted attic with my two sisters, and we'd take the better part of the morning to completely clean and dust the whole room, including clearing off the steps going upstairs and cleaning out from under the beds. The latter job was my little sister Susan's. My older sister Patti used to fashion a garment out of a garbage bag for her with holes for her head and arms and send her under there with a little plastic cup to collect dust bunnies and general crud. After we were all done, my mother or father would come up and inspect. "Looks great!" they'd say. "Don't you feel good now that it's all done?"

My answer then and now would be, "Not really. I'm glad it's done, but I don't feel good, per se. I feel crabby and sore. I feel a little bit cheated out of the day. I feel like this sucks." Now, did I say that out loud to my parents? Oh, heck no. Actually, I don't remember saying anything. Probably an answer wasn't required. Those kinds of questions from parents are largely rhetorical.

Anyway, it was a sunny day today, and I was inside doing Necessary Adult House Stuff. At least it was only 47 degrees, so it's not like I would have been basking in the sun out on the boat or anything. Besides, we've already pulled and dry-docked the boat. 

Interestingly, the ice cream truck came by this afternoon, playing its music, driving slowly down our avenue. I was momentarily confused and tried to think back to the last time it showed up. Maybe early September, I'm guessing, if not late August. It had no takers, by the way.

Probably I should have run out there and stopped that ice cream truck. After a day like today--feeling petulant and way too much like an old grownup--I could have used both a childlike moment and a reward.

Friday, November 17, 2023

I Need To Tell You Something

 This is a difficult post for me to write, so I'm going to start right in and not worry too awfully much about structure and correctness. It's important for me to share this so that I can avoid awkward questions later on and truly share the Joy to come.

Many of you recall that three years ago, almost to the day, (I was writing every day then, too) I wrote a post titled The Best Thing That Happened To Me This Year. In it I wrote about my eldest son Jared moving out of his apartment and into the home of his girlfriend and her three children who went on to call me Nana. A few posts throughout the subsequent months referred now and then to my grandchildren. I love them dearly.

Sadly, Jared and their mother became increasingly unhappy. There were too many obstacles to overcome. They separated, and Rick and I tried to stay in the kids' lives. It was very difficult, but I persevered, especially with the (then) eight-year-old. I would always respond to her FaceTime and text. I got her and her brother and sister birthday and Christmas gifts. Soon, I began to see her confusion that we were not invited to family gatherings for occasions. She would text Are you coming? Are you on your way? I knew that this little girl didn't need more upheaval in her life, what with a biological father, two sets of grandparents already, the father's girlfriend and her children, and her own family. And what would happen if her mom became serious with someone? More grandparents? It was time to let her go. Luckily, she was becoming busier and busier with friends and summertime/school activities. Our contact was becoming less and less frequent anyway.

My grief at losing them--especially her--was overwhelming. I didn't feel comfortable sharing it. It seemed ethereal; as if the Having and then the Losing weren't real. I carried it heavily for more than a year. Now, it's lighter, but very much there.

I wanted to tell you this because I have Important Joyful News. Jared is getting married to a wonderful woman named Jordan in September. She is perfect for him. Even more Joyful is that they are having a baby on Monday. We already know it's a boy. Chances are that I'll be referring to all that here at some point, and I want to be able to do so without confusion or questions.

It's a little bit painful for me when people say, "Oh! Your first grandchild!" Because, you see, I was very much a grandmother to three children already who called me Nana with genuine love and respect. Even people who know about the other three say this, and I know what they mean. I know they aren't trying to be hurtful or dismissive. Perhaps I just need more time.

And none of this mitigates my Joy for this brand new grandson. Or for my son and his wonderful fiancee. 

Thank you for being the kind of people to whom I can tell this story. I appreciate you.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

I'm Worried About The Pandas' Mental Health

 My Google News Feed really dumped on me today. It was bad enough wading through the tragic events in Gaza, the barrage of intensifying bad behaviour among republicans in the House of Representatives, and another road closure in my neighbourhood, but did it have to tell me about how China is cruelly using their Pandas as a bargaining chip?  As always, no need to click over to the article because as I said so many years ago, when there is a Panda story, I am all over it. That is my vow to you.

As some of you may know, China refused to renew our Panda Lease on three Pandas we had here in the US (Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and Xiao Qi Ji housed at the National Zoo, DC). They were bid a tearful farewell when their lease was up about a week and a half ago. Previous to that, Pandas living happily in San Diego and Memphis had their Panda Visas cancelled, too. The only remaining Pandas are in Atlanta, and their lease expires next year, at which time they're also headed back to China. 

Previously, Panda Leases were perfunctorily extended, but since diplomatic relations have gotten a little strained, the Chinese decided to Pull Their Pandas. President Xi didn't like that the US shot down his spy balloon; he didn't appreciate then-Speaker Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. Basically, Xi said, "Hey, just for that, we're taking back our Pandas!"

He's a tough guy, that Xi. He was, however, moved to find out that Americans, especially children, went to the zoo to say goodbye to the Pandas. That evidently softened him up a little. “Pandas have long been envoys of friendship between the Chinese and American peoples. We are ready to continue our cooperation with the United States on Panda conservation,” he said. Translation:  Make nice here if you want some Pandas, Mr. President.

This Panda Diplomacy has gone on since 1972 when Nixon made his historic visit to China. Since then, China has gifted nations with Pandas as a sign of friendship and good diplomatic relations. And when the nations displease them, China yanks those Pandas back. 

China also gets all the Pandas born to their Pandas in other nations. I feel bad for those little Pandas, raised in another country and shipped off to China. They don't know the language! Everyone looks different than what they're used to! It's a culture shock!

Maybe we should tell Xi Jinping thanks, but no thanks. It all sounds traumatic for the Pandas, young or old. Maybe China should just keep their Pandas to themselves.


Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Forbidden Fruit

 No, this isn't a grocery store post although I keep meaning to tell Julie that blueberries are $2.99 a pint where I live and are mostly from Mexico, Peru, and Argentina. Sorry I forgot, J.

This is actually a Self-Pity Post about feeling old and a little pathetic. I'm going to get very Share-y right now, and I need your support. 

Here goes.

I have a little crush on 

Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns football team. I find him very attractive; moreover, he likes Elton John music, writes poetry, and studies dinosaurs. Look how cute he is. 

Additionally (oh, it only gets worse!) I have a continuing Thing for

Timothée Chalamet and his perfectly sculpted chin and cheekbones. I know absolutely nothing about him except that I think he should use the French pronunciation of his first name, not the American (even though it would sound sort of sing-songy, so I guess I get why he doesn't). I don't even watch his movies. I just find his whole head incredibly beautiful.

Both of these men are only 27 years old. I am old enough to be their...(where is Mikey to do my math!?) ... well, certainly their mother. Could I be their grandmother as well? Give me a moment--no Mikey. 


Holy crap, yes. Yes, I could be. If their mothers were only 18 when they had Timothée and Myles, they would be 45 now. That means I'd have been 19 when I had them. It's a bit of a stretch, but certainly possible. 

Sigh. It's just pathetic. And a little creepy. But here's the thing. The man I used to have a Major Crush on now looks like this

That is what is left of Daniel Day-Lewis. For your reference, here is what he used to look like when we all I fell in love with him lo! these many years ago

Just saying. Daniel Day-Lewis turned 66 this past year. I'm all for embracing your age, but yikes! Don't tell me he couldn't look way better than he does.

In the meantime I'll appreciate these Cute Men from afar despite the fact that they could call me Nana. How about you? Tell me you have a Forbidden Fruit, too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

My World Today


I'm so late with a post today, and honestly, I don't have much to say about anything. It's important to me to fulfill my promise to myself and write here every day this month, however, so here we go.

*Haircut!  Susie called me back this morning and booked me in at 3:15 today. The drive was actually pleasant with no traffic. I saw a brand new herd of cows in a field where I had never seen any before. This time I dropped 20 bucks at Susie's. She gave me an eyebrow wax, too. 

*There's a house two blocks away from mine that decorated for Halloween in late August. They draped spider webs across their bushes, hung bats on their doors and windows, and set out both carved and painted pumpkins. Other houses started fairly early, too. By the time October came around, I started getting disoriented. Had I missed Halloween? Why was it taking so long? Last week, they started decorating for Christmas. Along with their Halloween decor. So amid the bats and webs and rotten/rotting pumpkins are a shiny Santa and Christmas tree on shepherd hooks and some garland. It's like a Holiday Yard Sale.

*I'm going to the grocery store tomorrow morning. I can either drive to the slightly nicer store about 10 miles away, or I can zip over to the okay store across town. The nicer store has better produce and I know and like the cashiers. The okay store is closer and I know the floor people. It also has a better closeouts selection. It's a decision I make on the road, totally dependent upon how I feel at that precise moment. (Do I feel like slumming, or do I feel like hobnobbing with the hoity toity?)

That's a glimpse into my world for now.  (It's way past time for cat cuddling, and Piper just let me know by forcing his enormous body between me and my laptop. He almost made me lose this entire post by kicking his back paws at my keyboard to shove it out of the way.  Priorities!)


Monday, November 13, 2023

Meet My Superhero

 Looky looky what I got!

That's 10--count 'em--10 packages!

Ten packages of Biscoff were sent to me via Amazon. My superfriend Mikey in California sent them to me after reading my post. Unfortunately, my cookies were waylaid. Mikey sent me a text on Friday asking me if I "got the cookies." I was confused. He told me he ordered some Biscoff to be sent to me and that Amazon had confirmed delivery on Monday. I assured him that they never arrived and, had they done so, I would have thanked him immediately. 

He was understandably irritated that his surprise was ruined. He contacted Amazon and got his refund. He said he would try again, and I told him it wasn't necessary. I was just so pleased to be in his thoughts, and I truly didn't want him paying those ridiculous prices, either.

Today I was out hanging up a block of seed for the woodpeckers on my front porch. I heard someone say, "There you are." It scared the hell out of me. I turned around to see my neighbor (the rather shitful one) standing there with a box. "I took this box to work thinking it was my books. I opened it and discovered it wasn't. Hey, I guess even they get it wrong once in a while." I took the box and thanked him for bringing it over. "It came about a week ago," he said. I thanked him again (although why, I don't know--my name was clearly on the box, as was my address) and he lumbered on home with nary an apology.

Inside the open box was my case of Biscoff, of course, from Mikey. I took the box in and it reeked of smoke. So did the carton holding the Biscoff. That box had been open a while, marinating in cigarette smoke, probably sitting in his house. Luckily, my Biscoff wrappers did not smell of smoke. I sent Mikey a text immediately informing him of the situation.

"Another batch is being delivered today," he informed me. "They shouldn't stink of cigarette smoke."

And there was! OMG SO MUCH BISCOFF!

That's 20 packages of Biscoff, for those of you scoring at home!

I told Mikey that I love him forever and that he is my Superhero. He also Did Math for me and told me that "it was only $22.48 for ten boxes. So as evil as Amazon is, it's a cheap way to get Biscoff, and proof that Biscoff doesn't need to cost $5 a package." 

Listen, I'll take a Superhero who does my math and buys me cookies any day. As a bonus, Mikey FaceTimes me from wonderful locations around the world as he travels. I think he only has 17 countries left, and then he has been to them all. (And I've been to a lot of them with him, in a way.) He's the best.

Biscoff is back on the menu at the Dept. for the forseeable, and I will be judicious and prudent. I don't want to have to break up with them like I did with Cheetos, or feel icky about them like I do with Original Lay's and now Peanut M&Ms. I can't do that to Mikey, Superfriend and Superhero. 

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Haircuts Anonymous


Hello, my name is Nance and I need a haircut.

Like many of you, I have horror stories galore about Bad Haircuts. Many of them reside here, at the Dept. of Nance archives. I suffered through haircuts that my hair absolutely hated. Haircuts that were the result of my own impetuousness (I actually told my stylist once to "Go ahead and do what you think is best"). One haircut actually sent me back for two recuts; that's how awful it was. Sometimes, I recut my own hair, or had Rick do it, pointing to swaths of hair and directing him where and how much to cut.

At one point I broke up with my stylist and found another, but she's 45 minutes away, down the road from the lakehouse. Susie is terrific. She does exactly what I want. She listens to what I say. What's more, she's quick, efficient, and get this:  a shampoo, haircut, blowdry, and style costs me $15.  Including the tip. And I tip well. Tell me that's not worth it to drive my Prius hybrid 45 minutes each way for that!


You know how you keep meaning to make a hair appointment and then, when you've finally had it with your hair and you say, "That's it! Tomorrow I'm making that appointment!"? What happens the very next day? You have a Tremendously Good Hair Day, and you think, Hey! My hair looks awesome. I can wait a little longer for that haircut. So you do.

Two days later, your hair looks like crap. And no matter what you do, no matter how much product you spray and gel into your damp hair, it's hopeless. But, it's almost the weekend, and you're busy and the salon is already closed. Oh well.

And the next day, your hair rebounds! You look great! "Okay," you say. "Now this is more like it!" And you ride that Good Hair Look for another day or two until WHAM! You've washed your hair, added the volume spray, blown it out, and in five minutes it's flat against your head like you've just take off a hat after a ten-mile hike in 90-degree heat. Great! Because you're actually going someplace Where People Are! 

This is where I am right now, today. And Susie is closed tomorrow. I absolutely have to stop procrastinating and Get. A. Haircut. I cannot live like this anymore.

Thanks for letting me share. 


Saturday, November 11, 2023


My Google news feed has gone into Beatles Overdrive lately. It's obviously in response to my interest in the release of Now and Then, the song touted as The Last Beatles Song. I followed its story and awaited its release and streamed it the moment it became available. I was actually sitting in my car in a parking lot, and as I listened, the moment became a sentimental journey of sorts.

I practically grew up on Beatles music. My sister, seven years my senior, was in the throes of Beatlemania during her teen years. We shared a room, so I was surrounded by The Beatles' pictures and music. She even went to their first concert in Cleveland. I remember watching their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show with her.

We cleaned our room every Saturday listening to Beatles music (and The Hollies, The Association, The Bee Gees, and Simon and Garfunkel). I learned the lyrics by heart. I loved the B side of the 45s just as much as the hits. 

My Google news feed decided I'd want to read this article, which purports to rank all 214 Beatles songs from worst to best. Of course, I had to read it even though it was bound to be patently absurd and ridiculous and completely subjective. 

And it was.

Oh, sure, the author wrote a lot of footnote-worthy, researchy info after each title in order to sound smart and justify his rankings, but here's the thing--it's still just a list of his personal preferences, and it should be taken as such.

I don't think I could list my favourite Beatles songs like that. I like so many of them and for different reasons. And at different times. But here, in no particular order, are some of my favourite Beatles songs:

1. Eight Days A Week:  Love the ooo-oohs in this. And it's so bouncy and fun. 

2. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds:  The lyrics are so interesting. The music is arresting. It's so deeply unusual.

3. Eleanor Rigby:  These lyrics always haunt me. Such a portrait of loneliness. The voice of McCartney is so plaintive.

4. Paperback Writer:  The story moves fast, the music moves fast; it's almost like a Beatles rap. I like the falsetto and the call-back.

5. A Day In The Life:  So innovative. You can enjoy this and respect the artistry at the same time. 

Critics had a lot to say about Now and Then. I just enjoyed being able to have a chance to listen to The Beatles again, and it was more of a sentimental appreciation than anything else. Technology can never truly recapture The Beatles, but this song was an awfully good try.


Friday, November 10, 2023

Do You See This?

Sometimes when I go shopping, I wonder if I'm the only one who sees stuff like this. I also wonder if employees put these things out on the shelves just for fun. I mean, everyone deserves to get their kicks during the workday.

Here's this, from Closeouts in my funny grocery store:

Okay. I'm not exactly sure what this is, but I can positively say that it is NOT a Trio Of Li'l Mice. 

And then I saw this Bargain at Marshalls on Clearance:

Hey! I'm sorry, but since you waited so long to buy this Italian Macaroni Product Made In Italy--and that's not redundant at all--you now pay the Special Clearance Price, marked down up to $5.00. You know what they say, "He who hesitates...yada yada yada."

And, no, I didn't buy either one of them.

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Three On Thursday: Is November Still Here? Let's Talk Food


It's only November 9th, and I'm already feeling the Pressure and Panic of posting every single day. This is a completely spontaneous post; I have zero idea what's coming out of my brain and fingers here, so buckle up. Let's go.

1. Dave's Killer Bread:  Are you aware of this product? I fell in love with it over the summer, specifically the 21 Whole Grains and Seeds variety. It makes fantastic toast, and it has become my go-to lunch. Sometimes I just use a butter-olive oil spread, and sometimes I make avocado toast with sliced tomato. Other times I use a bit of marmalade. Two pieces of Dave's bread and a large cup of decaf and I'm good. It's quite a good source of fibre, so it's been lifechanging in that regard. The biggest drawback is its price. I cannot believe I pay $6 for a loaf of bread. But so worth it.

2. Stonewall Kitchen Orange Cranberry Marmalade:  This is the aforementioned marmalade that I use on my toast. My BFF Leanne introduced me to it when I last visited her in Maryland. It's so addictive--just the right balance of of bitter and sweet. She was kind enough to not only send a jar home with me, but to also tell me where she got it (the At Home store). Luckily, there is an At Home near me, so I can go get some whenever I need to. Good thing, because Rick discovered he likes this marmalade, too, and he is quite generous with it on his English muffins. It, too, is pricey, but I like to feel I deserve this indulgence. It's not like it's a $10,000 diamond necklace.

3.  Dinner Blahs:  It's almost 3PM, and I have no idea what to make for dinner. Moreover, I actually don't want to make dinner. Nothing sounds appealing, either, from freezer, pantry, or carryout. I've already made dinner every day this week. Why must I do it again? But here's the thing:  if I don't make/have dinner, I'll get increasingly crabby and fussy and downright petulant by about 7PM. Nobody wants that. So...! It's time to forage about in the cupboards, freezer, and pantry and see if anything at all inspires me (and quickly, too). And how annoying was it to keep reading the word Dinner over and over again in this paragraph? Sorry!

That's three, and that's Thursday. Will I make it to Friday? That's too far ahead right now. Let me figure out din-- this evening's meal-- and I'll get back to you.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Cloudy, With A Chance Of Cats And Self-Checkout (We're #4/5!)


Today it's Novembering all over the place outside and I'm feeling chilly and a little bit fussy. It's grey, windy, we had a little rain, and even though the thermometer jumped up to 55 at about 3:00, it feels much colder. My head is threatening to start something with me, so I'm hydrating and preparing to take a migraine pill if necessary.

I already went to the grocery store this morning, where I noted with dismay that they installed brand new Self Checkout stations. One of the many reasons I love my odd little grocery store is that there were no Self Checkouts. All purchases were scanned and totalled by friendly (and sometimes quirky) cashiers, many of whom I've gotten to know pretty well. The chances of me using Self Checkout there are slim:  too many items in my weekly shop, and I'd miss talking with Sunshine and the other cashiers.

When I got home, the little black cat was curled up under our Japanese maple again. We have a lot of strays in our neighborhood, especially at this time of year, and for some reason, they love our back yard. And they're all gorgeous cats, too--certainly worthy of being someone's pampered pet. This one is a longhaired cat, black with coppery colour hair underneath and beautiful amber eyes. When our porch furniture was out, it often slept curled up on a cushion.

So sweet; it fits just right.

I spend a lot of time worrying about this cat, but I cannot begin taking care of it. I have two cats, and they are The Last Cats Forever. I have sworn A Sacred Oath to myself and Rick. And all dark-coloured clothing and all the stuff in my house that is continually covered in cat hair. Besides, it may very well be that it is already Someone Else's Cat, but they allow it to run amok. I wish they wouldn't; I feed birds in my yard, and this cat cannot be depended upon to only menace chipmunks.


It is not a hospitable day for me or for little black stray cats that I have named Nairobi in my head. 

Is it Novembering where you are? Do you have stray cats in your neighborhood? Don't you think stores should give you a percentage off your groceries for using Self Checkout?

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Tuesday, November 07, 2023

After All, Joy In The Morning


This morning I had to get up and get going early. Thanks to the time change--and do not get me started on how stupid it is that we're still doing that in the 21st century--the cats stomped in an hour early and expressed their indignation that I'm still in bed at 6:45 AM WHAT AM I THINKING? Normally, I can gradually awaken at 7 or 7:30 with minimal feline interference, but since their stomachs did not Fall Back, it's going to be a while before we can get back to a routine.


I had an obligation this morning, and I also had to get gas in the car. My morning routine was hurried and a bit frantic. How were we so low on towels? I quickly got a load into the washer and made a mental note to do my own laundry as well. (I was dangerously close to resorting to my Third String Underwear--you know those--one with almost no elastic, one pair of maternity and the youngest kid is now 35.) With little time to spare, never knowing what stage the many construction projects would be in around my neighborhood, I zoomed out the door.

Naturally, I hit two reroutes in the construction zones and had to wait an extra five minutes while an enormous dump truck maneuvered around a crane. I practiced using profanity as all seven parts of speech. It wasn't that difficult. Then again, I've been honing my craft for decades.

While driving on a particularly scenic road, one I travel often, I saw something that released all my tension and negativity. It gave me such Pure Joy, and it was really nothing much at all.

A man was mowing his lawn, a large property, with a riding mower. Sitting up front with him, encircled in one arm, was a large dog. I could only get a glimpse for a moment, but what I saw was a snapshot of complete contentment and companionship. It looked as if those two had done that together for years. They were mowing toward me, and I saw both of their faces. They looked happy.

Gosh, I love seeing stuff like that. It always makes me smile and feel good. Dog heads hanging out of car windows, same thing. That sort of unabashed Joy can lift me immediately. 

I'm smiling now, just thinking/writing about it. I like a Joy that sticks with me. Even through two loads of laundry.

Monday, November 06, 2023

The Perils Of Snacking

Lunch didn't happen today. Nothing sounded appealing, and it began to Get Late. Getting Late is a dreadful horror to me when it comes to meals. I cannot abide Eating Late. Sometimes, Rick will come home on Thursdays, the day his boss buys lunch for everyone in the office, and say, "I had a big lunch, so I hope you're not ready for dinner anytime soon." When that happens, I hear ominous music in the background, not like when the shark is approaching in Jaws, but more like the theme from Unsolved Mysteries or maybe something from another dark and scary show.

But I digress.

I never eat breakfast--never have, even as a child--and I spent most of my adult working life not eating lunch, either. But in the last several years, I decided to be better and eat actual lunch, even if it was just fruit or toast.

Today, however, as I said, Lunch got lost in the shuffle of the day's tasks and my fussy appetite. So when it got to be about 2:30, I needed a little snack. Unwisely, I grabbed the 4-pound jar of peanut M&Ms and did not first scoop out a little serving in a separate cup, instead opting to carry the whole damn thing out to the living room and sit there, watching Judge Judy, mindlessly eating peanut M&Ms one after the other. Now I feel absolutely horrible.

This is the same thing that happened to me with Cheetos years and years ago. First, I binged on Cheetos; then, I rationed the Cheetos; then I made Rick hide the Cheetos; then, I had to permanently break up with Cheetos altogether. 

It was for the best.

I am currently On A Break from Lay's Original Potato Chips because of mindless snacking after skipping lunch and being unable to control myself. There is a bag of Sea Salt Pop Corners in the cupboard--unopened--because if I open them, I have no idea what might become of our relationship. (Have you tried them? They're unbelievably good. Try the cinnamon ones, too. Ridiculous.)

If I have to break up with Peanut M&Ms (aka The World's Most Perfect Food), I honestly don't know what will become of me. They were there for me when I couldn't eat anything else, literally, back when I was so ill and wasting away. They travel well. They crunch and provide chocolate and sweetness, but not too much sweetness. True, they added blue and took away the tan, thereby disturbing the fine balance of colour and ruining their original aesthetic, but I'm very close to forgiving them for that. 

Obviously, Rick will be hiding the Peanut M&Ms when he gets home from work shortly. I won't even have to explain. He'll agree to do it, and he'll look at me pityingly. And tomorrow I'm back to having a proper lunch. Whatever it may be.


Sunday, November 05, 2023

I Need A Big White Pen

This billboard is all over northeast Ohio. Every single time I see it, it's like having a cat hair in my eye. It's painful and annoying. My eyes roll and I scream inwardly (most of the time; sometimes I do it aloud), "-ly! -ly! -ly! Adverbs! Adverbs! Ever hear of them?"

Please tell me that I'm not alone in noticing or caring about things like this. 

It's a billboard! It's enormous. Come on! How did this happen?


Saturday, November 04, 2023

Another Grocery Store Outrage: Move Over, Bananas

f course you all remember how invested I get in the price of things at my grocery store, especially bananas. Since I'm not on anxiety medications, I've had to learn to roll with the capricious price increases foisted upon us by the pandemic and corporate greed.

I will say, however, that there is NO REASON for coffee to be as high-priced as it is. I have been monitoring the commodities markets, and coffee has done nothing but slide for the past year.

Just saying.

Anyway, my point, and I do have one, is this. 

I am breaking up with you, Biscoff.

This is outrageous and unreasonable, and I am not having it. Do you know what I used to pay for Biscoff cookies when I first discovered them? $1.98 a package. That was about one year ago. Then, sometime in the spring, my funny grocery store stopped carrying them. I subsequently found them at Target for $2.99 a package--and of course I was outraged--but I paid it (many many times), mainly because Rick discovered Biscoff and would polish off a package in one sitting. 

Suddenly, Biscoff disappeared completely. For months. When it reappeared, the price had shot up to what you see, above. I shopped around, but Biscoff was now ridiculously priced everywhere. So I did what I always do; I researched it. And here's what I found:

"'Responsible' price hikes and rising volumes earned Lotus Bakeries new record figures: for the first time, the Belgian company’s turnover surpasses half a billion euros in the first six months of a year. With turnover up more than 20 % to 501 million euros in the first half of the year, Lotus Bakeries speaks of a “new milestone”. ..Biscoff biscuits (+ 20 %)...advanced strongly. Net profit went up 15.9 %. The figures are better than what analysts had expected.

According to the biscuit baker, the strong results came as “responsible” price increases combined with an 8 % increase in volumes. The tariff increases the company implemented early this year to counter rising costs led to a double-digit price effect. Lotus Bakeries stresses that the price increases over the past two years were always aligned with actual costs, and were unavoidable due to unprecedented increases for raw materials, packaging, transport and wages, among others. The company claims that the price effect has now reached its peak."

Well, la di da, Biscoff people. Whatever. 

I'm just now okay with being gouged for bananas. I'm not okay with being gouged for cookies, even if they're as delightful as Biscoff. This is going to take some time, and maybe Forever. Breakups are painful and sad. It's a Process, and in the meantime, I need a Rebound Cookie. And some Support Outrage. 

Help me out in Comments.

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