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Library Card

I was at the local library this week, needing a few books for research purposes.  Hadn’t been there much during the winter and wasn’t aware of the new policies.  I was used to just being able to say my card number(well, really, used to not having to do anything at all because the circulation librarian knew me…from a long time…and knew my number).  The new circulation librarian informed me that I couldn’t do that anymore.  When I gave her my well worn cardboard library card, she tut-tutted and said, “wow, that IS a relic,  you can’t use this one anymore.”  She allowed me to take the books home that I had chosen and said that next time I came, I could pick up my new card.

That card and I go back a long way.  In those “olden” days, we found books by means of the Dewey card catalog.  In school we learned the rudiments of it, alphabetical order and different ways to look up a book.  I do believe my having done that is what enables me today to search so successfully online.  I often have people ask me to find something and when I do(and quite quickly too), they are always asking, “how do you do that?  You always find it!”

All of the books had cards in the back and the name of the person checking it out plus the date were written/stamped in a small space.  You could always tell if you’d taken that book out before…(or someone you knew).

There were library tables and chairs(heavy, old wooden ones) where you would go and do research for school/homework(plus also meet friends).  “Silence” signs all over the place plus if you were making noise(like hysterical laughter when your friend passed you a funny note), the librarian would come over and tell you to leave.

If you had a late book, the librarian would call you on the phone(land line at that time).  And when you brought your book back and paid your fine, she would reprimand you.

The librarian back then was a formidable presence.  Tall, thin, hair in a tight bun, glasses, sensible shoes, heavy stockings and modest clothing.  She seldom smiled but when she did(if she liked you…she didn’t like me), you could see a whole different/softer side of her.  She’d been a war bride(World War Two), her husband had died young and they never had children.  She lived alone in an apartment with her parakeet.

One of the ways she would show you in no uncertain terms that she was ruler of the library was the placement of the “objectionable” books…in her eyes anyway.  Any books that were in that category were on the top shelf and you would need to use the stepladder to access them.  She would hear the ladder being moved and when you’d bring the book(s) to be checked out, she would study you with narrowed eyes.  I remember deciding I would give her a shock to her system(as well as making her wonder about my “moral character”) and got as many out as I was allowed to at the time.  Maybe I didn’t exactly enjoy reading all of them but I have a low tolerance for people judging books at “taboo” or “not appropriate”…it’s all a matter of opinion.  My daughter has become the same way…she had a t-shirt in college that read, “I read banned books”.

Well, I have my new library card.  Looks a lot like my check card made of plastic with an electronic strip.  Not much character there.  I still like the look and history of my old one.

til next time…Eva

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Musing about weddings and bridesmaids

My daughter is a bridesmaid in her college room mate’s wedding this Saturday. While waiting in the airport for her flight to come in, I got to reminiscing about being a bridesmaid in general

My daughter and her other room mate from college are both in the wedding…short emerald green satin dresses, one shoulder with massive detailing on the front.  The shoes are 5 inch silver stiletto heels(they look like the Fredericks of Hollywood heels from my youth).  The last time my daughter wore heels of any height (not even close to this) she damaged her instep. (she was in HS then) and couldn’t walk for weeks(had to use crutches and the elevator…everyone wanted to help her so that they could ride on the elevator!)  She has informed me that she can’t walk in them and “if the wedding is going to be outside, I better be holding onto someone!”

I told her that the crutches were still at home—she was NOT amused!  She and her friend bought gold flip flops for the reception.

I remember the wedding I was in for a college friend…I found the photograph the other day while de-cluttering…and looking at it brought me no joy.  Pastel colors…blue, green, yellow, pink, lavender and apricot.  Unflattering spaghetti strap knit gowns with a blousy chiffon over blouse.  I still remember when the bride was ordering flowers…when the florist asked if the “girls were petite” he responded with a laugh, “no, they are the giant economy size!”

Being in that wedding cured me from ever being a bridesmaid again.  Her gown had never been pressed…so since I’d been a bridal consultant, I knew how to press gowns.  Her cousin decided the day before the wedding that she didn’t want to wear the apricot colored gown because it “made her look washed out”…so she was given my blue gown and I got the apricot one…which washed me out!

On the day of the wedding, the cake never arrived to the reception.  Her father finally got a hold of them(the wedding was on a Sunday) and they literally slapped something together and brought it to the reception halfway through.  When her father went to them that week asking for a refund, their response was, “if we did that, we wouldn’t stay in business.”  and his response was, “if I don’t get a refund, trust me, you won’t be in business long anyway.”

At some point after that disastrous wedding, I realized that we’d never really been friends anyway

I know I hear that often…that friendships are very strained…and I sincerely hope that won’t be the case for my daughter and her other room mate.  Both of them have remarked that they never realized how expensive a venture aka experience this was going to be.

I look forward to hearing more about this wedding after the weekend!

til next time…Evadoor flower 005adoor rose by Eva made from music paper 2015

A Change in Kitty

Photo by Eva, 2015             photo by Eva 2015

I realized today that Kitty is not the same cat she was when Beastie was alive.  Kitty came into our lives 12 years ago.  She was a stray who was eating the bird bread outside of my mother’s house.  At the time, I was caregiving for my mother 24/7, my daughter was 11, I was juggling two households, and there were 4 pets at my mother’s house and one at mine.  The last thing I needed was another pet.

Kitty owes thanks to my daughter for our taking her in.  We were expecting a very severe storm and with all I had on my plate at the time, my daughter was the one who said, “and what about the little cat outside?”  So, in the teeming rain, she and I went out to grab that little black cat and we’ve had her ever since.

Kitty was thrust into a household with several pets…two cats at my mother’s place(Holly and Troubles), Benji, and Zowie.  She didn’t know how to behave at first and we had to keep her in the bathroom for a while…and she tried jumping out of the screen many times.  The only thing that really kept her with us in the beginning was food.  For probably the first time in her life, she had food whenever she wanted it…and in the beginning, she was a bottomless pit.

What was interesting is that the other pets(with the exception of Zowie), were strays as well.  Holly and Troubles along with their mother Daisy(who was deceased at that time) had come from the lot across the street and Benji had showed up one rainy day and was sitting on my mother’s porch when I came back from taking my daughter from school one day.  They all accepted Kitty from day one…Kitty wasn’t sure about being part of a menagerie at that point and did her best at times to make life miserable for all of us.

Kitty has never been a brave cat.  Any strange sound or person or animal is enough to put Kitty into hiding…last week we had someone in to repair something for us.  I came home from work and asked my husband where Kitty was, “in the bathroom” he says…when I went in there, I looked in the shower first…which is where Beastie always used to hide…no Kitty…..lo and behold, wasn’t she hiding in the covered litter box.

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In all those years with other pets, Kitty always stayed in the background.  When Benji and Beastie both were hungry, Kitty was the one who would be with them and let them eat first…  She never sat on my lap and was seemingly afraid of everything.  My daughter just had to look at her a certain way and she would disappear.

I came to realize today how different Kitty is now.  She now wants to be petted…a lot.  She’s the first one to greet you in the morning and says good night as well.  She demands to be fed and will show me what the problem is…whether it’s the food on the water.  She loves to go out on the deck in the front now…something she never did before.  The catnip is all hers’ now…she buries her head in her pot of catnip anytime she wants to anymore.  She loves to be near Zowie now and if Zowie squawks, it usually means “danger” to Kitty…and Kitty listens…

Kitty reminds me of people who have never allowed themselves to shine…and one day they do and they find that life will never be the same.  Benji had been with her from day one and she took care of him as he got older.  She took care of Beastie as well.  Now she is taking care of herself and watches over us as well and has become the loving cat I never thought she could be.

til next time…Eva

Getting “Old”…I’m not planning to….

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(I got the idea for the leaf rose I made above from: http://sistersknowbest.com/2014/10/11/nicole-dukes-easy-free-diy-fall-decoration/

I visited a former neighbor of mind yesterday who is presently living with her husband in a retirement/nursing home.  He’d had a stroke several years ago and they’d had 24/7 private nursing care for several years in their 2 homes before moving.  Their lifestyle before his stroke included much traveling(spending the winter in Jamaica every year, a month in Europe every year and at least one cruise).  In the years since his stroke, her lifestyle severely changed as well…she very seldom left the house because he would start calling for her.  I’d look at her life and see she was literally being buried alive.

When he and his two daughters decided he would be better taken care of in the retirement/nursing home, she basically had no say and they went from two homes to two rooms.  She was left with the painful job of downsizing to the extreme.  I helped her when she did this and I could see and hear how painful it was for her.

They’ve been there two years now and she has become a shell of her old self…focusing on his needs, both of their doctor visits, cramped living space and never having any privacy.  Their days are planned from morning to night…and they are 83.

I think about my neighbor’s Aunt Frances who is 100 and my dear friend Angie who is 94…both still in their own home and if you ask them about moving to a retirement/nursing home, the comment you will receive is, “That’s for Old People…and I’m not OLD yet!”  This got me thinking…what does it mean to be “OLD”?  Here’s what I came up with to define “OLD” for my vocabulary…maybe you can think of others.

Now mind you, any age group can be “OLD”…so, to me, being “OLD” means:

1. You are totally focused on YOUR needs…when you talk to someone, it’s very one sided…if they say anything about themselves, you bring the conversation back to you.

2. Mealtimes are a big part of your day…with dessert being crucial to make or ruin your day.

3. You do no hobbies anymore or maybe you never had any…for many people, television and the computer are their hobbies now…

4. You believe everything the “experts” tell you…the doctors, the nurses, etc. and do everything they tell you to do.  At some point in time you become invisible.

5. You no longer make an effort(or maybe you never did) to learn something new or try something new.

6. You enjoy being with the same age group all the time…this is in all age groups…think of college dorms, camps, various apartment complexes that gear towards specific age groups.

7. You have no goals or dreams.  If someone asks you what you are going to do that day, you say something like, “Nothing special”, “I don’t know yet”…

8. You find no joy in the simple pleasures of life…being in nature, pets, the laughter of children, sitting with a cup of coffee on the front porch and enjoying the morning or evening air and sounds, your favorite music playing, etc.

9. You don’t take an active role in watching what you are eating, drinking, what vitamins and meds you take and what is in them…you don’t read the labels.  You don’t do any exercising at all.

10. You live too much in the past…

I don’t plan to get “OLD”…I plan to follow in the path of Angie and “Aunt Frances” and so many others who, yes, have their days when they have their aches and pains but that doesn’t stop them from living their lives…doing what they are able to do…yes,  maybe taking a little nap once in a while to regain strength…

But let’s face it, a 100 year old who still lives at home by herself, still cooks for herself, goes shopping(doesn’t have her car anymore, son takes her…but that’s not because she still couldn’t drive), is organist for her church, sings in a county choir, is presently crocheting and finishing 6 afghans for her great grandchildren, reads romance novels, does all her banking and bill paying, does counted cross stitch, has a cat…has my total admiration.  When she went to her doctor earlier in the year, she told him she wasen’t feeling her usual self…the doctor remarked, “Frances, you are not a spring chicken anymore…you can’t expect to feel the same.”  She blew up and said, “Doctor, first off, I am NOT a chicken at all and your comment is totally insulting.  I know how I am supposed to feel and this is not it.  I want you to give me some tests to find out what it is.”

The doctor did and yes, she did have something minor wrong with her…when she found that out, the first words out of her mouth were, “Well, Doctor, I expect an apology from you.”  He gave her one and said, “you’ve taught me a valuable lesson and I thank you for it.”

We all have that choice…we can choose to become like Aunt Frances and Angie or we can go down that other path…I’m choosing  to follow Aunt Frances and Angie as long as I can.

Til next time…Eva

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The “Experts”

It seems that everywhere you turn, there is an “expert” telling you what to do, be, eat, have.  You read the paper and a headline may read, “Experts say…” but interestingly enough, you never find out who these experts are and their qualifications.

When I was in college, I took a statistics course(I was an Elementary Education major and statistics was considered a “Science” course elective…).  We were required to make up our own studies as well as learning about the validity of studies, so now when I read a headline that starts with “Studies show…”, I want to know the bottom line…exactly how many people and for how long.

If you have been a parent, you’ve learned to take your child’s comments of “But everyone is doing it” “But everyone has one” and “But everyone is going’ with a grain of salt.  I learned early in the game to do my research and contacted other mothers to find out that it was not the case(and also learned you had to choose your battles…especially in the teen years).

Getting back to the “experts’…I’m a person who continuously endeavors to better my way of life through my health, sanity and finances.  Over the years I have accumulated many books on those topics and online I have signed up for more newsletters than you can imagine as well as the webinars and the books…always looking for the next best thing…

Know what I found out?  I’ve found out that it doesn’t matter how many of the “experts” you surround yourself with…nothing will happen until you are ready for it.  It’s kind of like stepping stones.  I’ve done certain changes on my diet for years and the changes never took.  I still gravitated towards the sweet tooth of mine.  It wasen’t until I over ate the peach gummies I liked so much…scared myself with how my throat, mouth and teeth hurt as well as the feeling that my whole body was running on overdrive, that I got to think…hmmm, maybe I better cut down on the sugar.  I was changing everything else but still eating my sugar.  I eliminated sugar over the next few months and when that stepping stone happened for me, the other steps suddenly appeared and results started showing up for me.

I learned this summer that you have to become your own “expert”.  You need to start thinking for yourself and do some work in researching it…ask the questions and not just taking the “expert’s” word for it until you check it out.

Questions I always have are…does this “expert” walk the walk  I have no faith in someone who is out of shape giving “expert’ advice on diet and exercise.  Someone with financial advice who is broke.  Someone with love advice who isn’t in a relationship.

This past week I have been on a mission to eliminate myself from many of my email lists…I’ve kept a few who I sense are truly honest and have a sense of humor and are learning as well.  I have decided it is time to regain my power, think for myself and do the research.

til next time…Eva

I Remember Paris…

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I was at my one client today and he was telling me about his granddaughter.  She graduated from college in May and was accepted at a law school in CT.  She surprised the family by stating she was taking a year off and going back to Ireland and finding a job(she had been in Ireland for a semester abroad). Apparently Ireland has a stipulation that if you are a recent college graduate, no matter where you are from, you can come over there for a year and get a work permit.

She got permission from the college to start a year later with her scholarships and grants intact and went over in August with a cousin.  This past weekend they were able to get a really cheap flight to Paris and her grandfather said he’d seen her Paris pictures on Facebook.  Now her mother wants to go over and visit her in Ireland and go to Paris too.

I remember Paris.  It was the summer I turned 13.  My parents and I flew over that summer to go back to Denmark…we hadn’t been over since I was 4 because it had taken that long for my parents to save enough for us to go.  Since that time, both of my grandmothers had passed away and I know my parents were really dreading not seeing their mothers being there.

My brother at that point was married and now had two small children so they were home at the bakery and taking care of the house and the pets.

I realized just while I was writing this that my mother had turned 50 that year and had always wanted to visit Paris.

We flew from New York to Paris and from there we rented a car and drove to Switzerland, The Netherlands and Germany before heading towards Denmark…staying there a while with family before making our way back home.  My parents were always so exhausted the first few days of vacation and I understand now why they didn’t want to go to Denmark first and deal with the family and the memories.

My mother and I loved each other but that summer the 50 year old and the 13 year old definitely clashed.  My dad would just walk ahead or behind us a little and nonchalantly puff on his pipe.  Our family was always the type that we’d have our little flare ups and stay out of each other’s way for a while…and when we’d be together again later, all was forgotten.  No grudges.  My daughter and I are the same way.

Anyway, in Paris we stayed at a really old hotel pension with adjoining rooms.  The small room I was in had to have had a bed that Napoleon had slept in…the mattress had to have been from the 1800s…extremely lumpy and too big for the bed…the mattress hung over the front of the bed.  The toilet was out in the hallway…you had to go up two steps to get to the room, the light was a single bulb with a pull cord.  The showers were down the hallway.

Breakfast every morning was downstairs and frankly, that was the best part of the pension…

We had taken the bus tour which showed you where all the sights were and had spent a whole day at the Louvre.

What I REALLY remember about Paris:

1. It was the year of madras plaid.  The 3 of us all had outfits with madras plaid and you could spot us as Americans a mile away.

2. We had been walking…don’t remember if to one of the sights or in a park, but I remember a French woman hitting my dad on the head with an umbrella because he was an American.  When he talked in Danish, she looked all confused and ran away.

3. We went to a restaurant with an outdoor café and a flower seller came by with an arm basket filled with beautiful violets.  One of my mother’s favorites…her wedding bouquet had been violets and lily of the valley.  I remember Dad buying her a bouquet and how happy she was all evening. She pressed those violets and kept them for years.

4. I remember the shops…particularly the parasols.  There was one shop that had the most beautiful parasol I had ever seen…a rose pink edged with wide lace and floral roses.  I remember thinking that if I bought that I would have no money left.  And interestingly enough, after all these years, I can still feel how much I wanted it and how gorgeous it was.

5. The Perfume shops…one thing my mother really wanted was one bottle of “real” French perfume and Lily of the Valley was her signature scent.

6. And what is it I REALLY remember about Paris?  We were walking, we were tired, we were crabby…ok, maybe it was only me that was crabby and I remember my mother and I were having an argument of some kind.  All of the sudden, she stops in the middle of a Paris sidewalk and screams, “THAT’S IT!!!!  Next year you are going to camp!!!!”  At that, I burst into tears, Dad stopped puffing on his pipe, Mom got all flushed and burst into tears as well.  After that outburst, there were no more on that trip and I didn’t end up going to camp the next year after all..whew!

Ah yes, I remember Paris…and you know, if I had a chance, I’d like to go again…maybe I should look into some French lessons online…”just in case”.

til next time…Eva

Country Roads

country roads 001a   My daughter has a specific song for everyone special on her cellphone to let her know specifically who is calling.  She said picking a song for me was easy due to how I used to play all of John Denver’s songs while she was growing up…so mine is “Country Roads”.

This time of year with leaves changing color, the local country roads are a pleasure to drive through. If I go about 20 minutes west of here, I will also be in the middle of Amish country…with the Amish farms and buggies to enjoy.

Local roads with fields of corn stalks dried and bleached from the sun with some ears still attached, patches of pumpkins(this is when the pre-schools and the kindergartens book their visits there so that the children can visualize a pumpkin patch just like where Linus and Lucy waited for the “Great Pumpkin”.  There are farm stands with their colorful displays of pumpkins, mums,  corn stalks, Indian corn, apples, and various jams and apple butter.  Hayrides are offered on Fridays and Saturdays.  Orchards have their “pick your own” apples…and also take you out to the orchard on a hay wagon.

Corn mazes are popular too.  There also seem to be quite a few craft shows and yard sales…kind of the last hurrah before it gets too cold.

This Saturday is Borough Day for the town closest to us.  When my daughter was in school, it was mandatory to go.  The schools’ various clubs had their bake sales and presented shows/entertainment.  Other organizations and other churches also had various sales, food and Chinese auctions.  Crafters with their wares, the library has a book sale in the basement.   Streets are closed for traffic, a small train for the children to ride and a real train for everyone to enjoy.  Clowns, Mimes, benches are set up and you can sit and listen to the various entertainers all day.  A day when you see people you haven’t seen in a while.

It’s a funny thing, but everyone is well behaved…you don’t see any rowdiness…just local people out to enjoy the day.  People seem to come out of the woodwork!

If my daughter were home, she’d drag me there just to see if any of her old classmates and teachers were there.  Parking was horrendous and sometimes we parked blocks away.  I was down earlier today to do my errands and it was a madhouse already.  The sane part of me is planning not to go there…the insane part of me wants to be part of the energy of the community.  We will see tomorrow which part wins!

til next time…Eva