This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it — then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old; you grow old when you stop laughing.”
I took one of those silly tests that occasionally pop up on Facebook. This one was, “What is your pet peeve?” I clicked the button and it apparently analyzed my Facebook page or something. The answer that popped up surprised me, but it shouldn’t have. “Lack of humor” was the response.
The reason it surprised me is because it is so true, and I’ll put this squarely on my dad. The way he was, the way he made us kids laugh around the table with his silly “Outhouse” joke or his crazy stories and witty one-liners…that sense of humor was passed down to all 11 of his children. He was the life of every party. If I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be the word “Smile” in his handwriting along my wrist. He made everyone smile and taught his kids the value of laughter.
Audrey Hepburn said, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”
I agree. Humor can get you through so many hard times in life; a disagreement with your spouse, a difficult workplace, challenging kids, financial hardships. I try and find the humor wherever I can, because if I take life and myself too seriously, I find it’s easy to succumb to negativity. That doesn’t mean I’m not serious about issues, but if I can find the humor – however deep it is buried – I can get through anything. I believe humor is God’s way of keeping us humble. “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.”
George Bernard Shaw knew what he was talking about.
You know how people like to make “BEST” lists, such as BEST VIEW FROM A SHOWER (has to be Kevin’s former home in the foothills of the Rockies), or BEST OPENING LINE IN A BOOK. Or how about BEST SUPERHEROES WHO DON’T HAVE SUPERPOWERS (probably not at the top of YOUR lists). And even though it only lasted five days, including travel, my new “BEST” list will now include “BEST VACATION EVER!” . I spent time at what I call the Enchanted House – Kevin and Savanna’s place – deep in the woods at Shanty Creek Resort (BEST SETTING FOR A HOME). I knitted with my ImagKnit knitters, visited with my good friends Sarah and Lynzie, and then finally I was surrounded by loads of family – I think we counted 65! I was able to spend quality time with all my kids, spouses, and grandkids. My mom held my granddaughter while I enjoyed watching my other grandkids swimming in the lake. We played games, ate great food, listened to stories, sang around the campfire.
But the absolute highlight of my trip was playing Euchre with Drew, Meg, and Kevin. I wish it could have gone on for hours, listening to them banter back and forth, falling into those same roles as oldest, youngest, and only girl. And even though I knew it might be years before it would happen again, it was just wonderful…the whole day, the whole trip. It was THE BEST!
Ohmygod. Where do I start? I guess I start in 2016, unattached, independent, and looking for love in all the wrong places. When you’re past middle age, where the heck do you meet someone of the opposite sex? I’m way beyond the bar scene, even though that scene is quite active here near the beach. But I never settled into a local church, I don’t have school-aged kids, and my hospice job exposed me to mostly women. Most of my friends were either married or didn’t know any eligible men.
Enter online dating. Zoosk, POF (Plenty of Fish), Match, I shudder just to think of them. But truly, at the time and even now, it’s probably the single best way to get yourself out there and start meeting people. I know many, many now married couples who met the same way, and yes, they all have their horror stories, just like me.
It was to my great advantage that I grew up with eight brothers. Men don’t intimidate me even when they’re trying to be intimidating. And so I was able to view the pompous retired Army commander in much the same light as the pitiful Uber driver (“I’m in transportation”) or the starving artist. I discovered there definitely is such a thing as a mid-to-late-life-crisis in men. These are the men who divorced, sold everything they didn’t lose in the fight, and now live on a boat. There were too many of them to count, but I always wished them great luck.
After more than two years of online exposure (not a solid two years; I took breaks of months at a time), I was actually getting pretty savvy about the whole process. I found the fakes quickly by copying and pasting one of their photos into Google Images. Funny how that same great-looking guy is everywhere! And with different names! Or I would copy and paste part of their written profile into a Google search and see it appear on various sites, word for word. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google are all great places to investigate potential dates. Pictures speak a thousand words, but the real-life person can leave you speechless when they look nothing like said pictures. (That’sawkward.) Then there’s the multitude of men who would spend hours talking my ears off and then walk away knowing little to nothing about me.
Probably my most interesting discovery (duh) was that an inordinate number of these men simply wanted sex. Or they wanted to talk about sex. Or they thought if they fed me, they’d get sex. I suppose dinner is cheaper than a hooker, but really? I often felt like I was back in high school in the front seat of the car where some guy is trying to make out. I discovered from one ‘gentleman’ that the price of him helping me replace my thermostat was sex. (I settled on a YouTube video.) I’m not sure who some of these guys think they are, but spending any amount of time with them explained why they were still single.
I did meet several really nice men; a couple actually became friends. But I think I knew when I met Mr. Right. I can still see his smile as he came out of the beachfront restaurant to greet me, and our good-night kiss is etched in both our minds. Was all that weirdness worth it? Definitely. Would I do it again if I had to? I don’t think so, but who knows? It’s scary putting yourself out there. It takes guts. You have to keep your confidence high and your expectations at least reasonable. But I am thankful every day there are online dating sites at our disposal, because really, there are some pretty great people out there looking for the same things we all are. You just have to kiss a few frogs before you find them.
I love cats. I’ve always loved them, from newborn kittens with their eyes closed to the goofy teen-cat to the disdainful adult. I think cats are probably the least understood domestic animal there is. But if you’ve ever had a cat, you understand what I’m saying.
We grew up in the country with dogs and horses, but I always wished for a cat. My parents knew I loved them, and even though my dad hated them, they actually got me one for Christmas one year. I can still see it in my mind’s eye. All of the many presents had been opened when my dad came in from the kitchen announcing, “Maureen!” He had a darling brown tabby kitten hanging from his hand, and I received what was probably the best Christmas present of my young life. I named her Daisy.
She lived both inside and out. I loved her to death and worried when she wasn’t with me. She was goofy, like all young cats are, and everyone seemed to enjoy her. By the time she was maybe 10 months old, she was a part of my family even if she wasn’t a part of theirs. And then one day she disappeared. I was distraught, and I cried and searched for days, calling her name inside the house and out. My mom finally said that cats are wild animals, and perhaps she simply ran away to be with other wild cats. And so I went back to yearning for another cat of my own.
Enter Pansy, my new outdoor cat. I remember finding a litter of brand new kittens huddled together in the hay in the barn, eyes still tightly shut. My mom was worried they would be too cold, so she let Pansy bring her babies inside, up the stairs and into the linen closet to keep them safe from kids and dogs. I was ecstatic! Eventually, after the kittens got older, we had to box them up and stand in front of the Kresge store with them. I was able to keep one, Buttercup, and I felt the luckiest girl alive. Oddly enough, weeks later, Pansy left us to find the other wild cats, and then it was just me and Buttercup.
We all know of some of the issues with indoor/outdoor cats. They will proudly bring you their kill. They will experiment with their claws on your curtains to see how high they can climb. They will slowly and surely shred the legs of your upholstery with complete disregard. But they will also calm you as they slowly press their soft paws into your chest purring loudly, eyes half closed, content. They will rub up against you, claiming you as their own. They will lie on your puzzle to be where you are or, if you’re reading a book, their paw will rest on your arm as it sleeps in your lap.
The last experience of my childhood cats ended with the following story:
As my dad tells it, he’d had it with Buttercup. So with the planned cover story of yet another cat running away to the wild, he put Buttercup in his car to take to the pound 30 minutes away. He lowered the top on his convertible and drove off. When he arrived at the pound, he discovered there was no cat to be found. Thinking, I’m sure, that she must have jumped out, he was no doubt relieved that he didn’t have to enter that complex with yet another unwanted feline. He went about his work day and arrived home that night only to put the top up on the convertible and discover that Buttercup had hidden herself in the well. She jumped out and made a beeline for the house. Within a month she had run away to the wild.
I was never the wiser until much later when, as an adult, I heard him recount this story, laughing hysterically at the outcome of the day. To say I was shocked and appalled would understate the realization of what I’d learned. As an adult, I suppose deep down I understood that they hadn’t meant to hurt me. I had accepted what they’d said and, as a little girl, it probably did make the loss a little easier thinking perhaps those cats had found their place in the wild. But I can’t dwell on it too much. I now understand why it took me so long to bond with another animal. I was in my mid 30’s when my own kids found a kitten and I was finally able to connect with an animal. We had Cali for over 15 wonderful years.
I’d love another cat. David, well, not so much. But maybe . . . someday. I won’t abandon that hope just yet.
Did you know that yarn has seasonal lines twice a year every year? And that every year yarn companies come up with ‘new and improved’ fibers to tempt the yarnaholics who own yarn shops into trying and buying their new yarns? Somewhere in the wee area in the back of my mind I must have known this when I began my search for yarns to carry in my shop all those years ago. But I have to say I really wasn’t aware of the scope of fibers out there and the creativity of people who come up with some of the most beautifully soft, yummy, breathtaking yarns ever to be found in the world!
Balance that with a budget, and welcome to my world.
Which leads me to Cathy, who made a visit to the shop yesterday. Now, Cathy’s one of the best yarn reps around, because she knows. Having owned her own yarn shop, she knows what it’s like to be me. She’s been on the receiving end of a table full of yarn coming from suitcases packed with yarn and stacked up around the table. She understands the pressure of wanting it all and having to try (and I use that term with anxiety) to stay within some kind of budget. After all, shops carry more than one brand of yarn, and they all have yarn reps! So the best thing about Cathy is there is absolutely, no pressure from her end. None. In fact, she’s more the opposite, sometimes suggesting that a particular yarn I’m leaning towards might not even be appropriate for my little shop in this particular area.
And so, of course, I try and stay focused on the upcoming season of spring and summer and zero in on what might interest my customers without breaking the bank. I go through binder after binder filled with yarn samples and color cards, and if she notices a pause, or perhaps a quick intake of breath, out comes the yarn and a knitted up swatch for me to feel. I open up the fold-out card of colors and lean back in my chair and look at her shaking my head. How do I possibly decide? With close to a hundred colors of this particular yarn, how do I narrow it down to 10? This is where the angst comes in. And this is where Cathy comes in. With her prior shop knowledge and her knowledge of my shop, she will direct me to what she thinks would be the best colors to carry, help me match yarn with patterns, and then quickly and painlessly close the book and remove it — and the yarn — from my sight.
How fun is this? My Secret Pal angel really came through at the last minute. I had SO much fun opening this box. And she really must have studied my blog and questionnaire. I almost ordered this book last night. I’m so glad I waited! And the great wool! Now I can do felted booties for both girl babies and boy babies! Good & Plenty — my favorite! A vanilla scented candle and sock yarn…a Knit Simple magazine! And a great eye-soothing mask for when I become cross-eyed trying to read lace patterns.But best of all?
These beautiful STITCH MARKERS — including a couple perfect red hat stitch markers! Can’t wait to use them!