Monthly Archives: November 2018

The End of my 2018 New Year’s “resolutions”

I wrapped up my kinda-sorta-new-years-resolutions at the end of October, two months before year’s end. My goals weren’t overly ambitious but simple and to-the-point: 1) to read twenty books 2) to make ten new recipes and 3) to make ten visits to the local lake/park. As of now, I’ve read thirty books this year and went past the ten new recipes as well.

During the year I updated my progress in March and again in August. To keep myself on track, I simply wrote down the three goals and the associated number on loose-leaf paper and whenever I did one of the goals, I wrote in on the list. Writing it down was key – I looked forward to adding new entries and seeing my progress.

I have reclaimed myself as a reader. I’ve said it before but the internet – and how its use affects the brain – had a large part in diminishing my reading. I hadn’t realized how bad it had become but I don’t know when I last read twenty plus books in a year. I had to reclaim my ability to truly focus and pay attention. See, what I am thinking now is that, on one hand there is Entertainment and Distraction while on the other there is Learning and Challenging. I had slowly slid further into the former category as years passed.

To be fair, there are things in life which can take away from any desire to spend a lot of time on learning and challenging one’s self. Obligations, problems, illnesses, depression, and grief are but a few obstacles. When you’re in a place where – for whatever reason(s) – just keeping your head above water is taxing, setting and accomplishing new goals and challenges sounds like an absurd prospect.

So, while I’m not delighted with myself that I wasn’t challenging my mind or learning enough for some time, I do know that along the way, I wasn’t always in the right state to be intellectually ambitious either.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m a bit fan of Entertainment and Distraction! I just think you have to balance them with more enriching pastimes.

I think I got burnt out on learning in college and allowed myself to coast along for some time, figuring I’d done enough and needed a break. But, uh, college was decades ago!

Most of the books I read this year were nonfiction, but not all. One of the year’s best finds was The Friend by Sigrid Nunez, a novel I saw recommended in Esquire magazine. It’s a beautifully written book, a great read for anyone who’s ever had a friend or a close connection to an animal. I am grateful to have found and read it.

I’m excited by reading, the way I used to be (before the internet). I’ve also started reading the aforementioned Esquire magazine again more faithfully. I subscribed for several years but had let the subscription go several years back; I thought the magazine was trying to become more like Maxim (to draw and keep younger male readers) which is not something I read. There was only so much I wanted to know about men’s suits too. Not sure if I want to subscribe now but I’m definitely interested in staying an Esquire reader.

The reading was the HUGE thing this year but committing to making new recipes was beneficial too. Sometimes I tend to fall into making the same things because I like a sure thing when it comes to FOOD. I like knowing that I will enjoy my meal. Trying new recipes takes away that guarantee. That being said, I found new recipes to love, like Easy Walnut, Date and Coconut Treats and Grandma’s Pizza. Writing them down on my Resolutions list keeps me from forgetting about them. In fact, I had kind of forgotten about the walnut/date/coconut treats (which I first made last January) but seeing them on my list jogged my memory – why haven’t I been making them?!

Oddly enough, getting myself to visit the local lake park ten times, a really easy resolution, took more doing. Several months went by when I didn’t go at all (although I was busier with other things in that time) and the assault on a local woman on Labor Day weekend affected my feelings about visiting there. I never heard about any arrest so I assume there wasn’t one. And it isn’t as if I always felt safe there before; I always feel I have to stay alert which kind of detracts from the point of communing with nature.

I see now that my three arenas of resolutions covered several crucial aspects of life: learning, eating, and being in nature. I’m glad I had these different areas and not just one of them. It was fun to do this, fun to see the entries adding up. Finishing up the last of them two months early and surpassing two of them is better than I could have hoped to accomplish. There’s no question my Kinda-Sorta New Year’s resolutions worked out very well. I’m better for them and feel I’ve definitely jump-started myself. Now I’m thinking about what I might like to set out to do in 2019.

Easy, inexpensive holiday evergreen swags

I’ve been in the mood for a bit of decorating and made these super easy evergreen swags. All I did was take a bunch of branches and tie them together with dental floss, leaving enough strand to tie them to whatever, then add a big Dollar Tree red ribbon. They look great.

Here’s one with my pal Put Upon Santa, who I was moved to bring out of storage.


This is the back showing the dental floss tie

Keeping secrets

I keep people’s secrets. I even keep them after our relationship or friendship has ended. Only if the secret was potentially damaging to someone (else) would I reveal it.  I have yet to find myself in a situation where I needed to come forward because I had crucial information, that is, where I needed to tell someone’s secret.

Not everybody is like this.

Many years after the fact I learned that someone betrayed a confidence. You wouldn’t expect to find out something like that so much later but I did, by happenstance. I was startled, then very annoyed. You see, the secret wasn’t even mine. I had told it to someone close to me only after I got permission from the person whose secret it was. I revealed it with their blessing so to speak. It was the kind of secret anyone with any sense – and a decent working conscience – would know not to repeat. What irked me was knowing I’d told someone else’s secret – even with their knowledge and permission – and the person I told blabbed.  My hand was in it. Had I misjudged the character of the person I told? If so, that was on me. The corker is the secret wasn’t anything the blabbing person was entitled to know. It didn’t involve them and would have no real impact on their life.  Their action – repeating the secret – betrayed not one but two people.

The thing is once a secret is revealed, there is no longer any control over it. I have no way of knowing if the person I told repeated it with any caveats, such as: “I shouldn’t be telling you this but…” or “Don’t tell this to anybody else…” or “I was told this in confidence so I am trusting you…” Perhaps they didn’t add any caveats at all.  I  have reason to think they didn’t. Maybe they just told it like it wasn’t any big deal. Or to get attention. Did they tell it after we were no longer in a relationship? That’s my best guess. That they didn’t feel a sense of obligation to me – or the person whose secret it really was – any longer.

I think the things we learn about other people when we are close to them are sacred and not to be treated lightly if and when we are no longer close. If they are revealed to anyone else, it should be done with care and thought.

Many years ago a friend told me that someone was upset with him because he’d repeated their words to another friend. He defended his action to the unhappy friend by saying in so many words, “Anything you tell me is as good as telling her.”  While the words weren’t intended for my benefit, I damn sure took them to heart. This was the first I was hearing of his belief. I didn’t want anything I said to be “as good as telling her” so from that day forward I took care with what I revealed, more than I would have had I not heard this.

Sometimes people tell their spouses everything and it’s a good idea to know if that’s the case when talking to one or the other. I’m not sure what I think about that. If I was friends with only one of the pair – let’s just suppose in a hypothetical situation – I don’t think I’d much like this tell-spouse-everything policy. Maybe I’d say, “Look, if tell you something, are you going to tell [husband/wife]?”  Generally though, I don’t think you should have to assume, outside of married people, that your private words – your secrets – are going to be revealed.

Once, long ago, a very close friend, a platonic friend, casually mentioned she’d been discussing my sexuality – specifically where I fell on the sex scale – with a good friend of hers, someone I’d never met. I was not at all happy.  Why was my friend discussing me like that with someone I didn’t know? A stranger?  She seemed surprised by my reaction and was more defensive than apologetic. Which was odd, because my friend was intensely private herself and would not have liked me talking about her that way to pals of mine, I was sure of it.

It’s a funny thing what people consider should be kept private or not. And today, with so many feeling compelled by social media to reveal so much in order to hold people’s attention, privacy and discretion can seem like antiquated, silly ideas.  When you have a blog, you particularly need to deal with this, especially one where you talk about your life, your feelings, your emotions, your experiences, your private business. How much to reveal? What is off limits?

I decided early on – and have held to it – that I wouldn’t put anything on this blog that I wasn’t comfortable with ANYONE – EVERYONE – reading. That’s my measuring stick. I have to assume I am talking to anybody at all and I have to be okay with that. If I may, I’ve noticed that among bloggers, sometimes something happens that causes a person to a) make their blog “private” so that readers must request permission to see it or b) disappear entirely.  I have to assume, when either of these happens, that the blogger felt they revealed too much or caught some kind of unpleasant backlash for what they revealed.  (Which isn’t to say a blogger couldn’t go private or disappear for other reasons, just that I guess feeling exposed or over-exposed might be the likeliest reason.)

I had another close friend, someone who went out of their way to tell me they didn’t discuss details of their relationshipswho seemed proud of that fact, who subsequently discussed me with casual acquaintances of his. Had he not made those big statements, statements that set me up to trust him, I probably wouldn’t have been quite as put out. In time I had an opportunity to point out this discrepancy of his, to remind him of what he’d said. He looked a bit sheepish and didn’t really have much of an explanation for what he’d done. My point was if you were going to talk about me – if you felt you must – at least make it to someone close to you, not casual acquaintances. (And maybe skip the big pronouncements about how discrete you are.)

It pays, usually, to know how someone else treats secrets. What value they place on them. If they recognize that a private revelation IS a secret and deserving of consideration, deserving of respect.  You can’t always know, no matter what another person says about it.  Sometimes revealing secrets is just a leap of faith.

Short Thought 221 (IQ)

When I was a child, there was a neighbor boy who was considered extremely bright. A younger brother followed but he evidently didn’t show the same degree of intellect. My mother commented that his mother must have been glad to have a regular or normal boy.  I still can’t decide exactly what she meant.  Was my mother merely reflecting a bias of her own? Did she think a high IQ child was a hardship of some kind? (I fail to see how as I had a reasonable, albeit not likely genius, IQ, and nobody did anything special  for me, ahem.) Was a high IQ child intimidating to her?  Or otherwise off-putting?

My clothing haul from the synagogue rummage sale!

The local synagogue holds an annual two-day rummage sale every November that’s open to all. With a fun, upbeat atmosphere, it’s a big hit around here and I, like lots of locals, look forward to it. They have lots of household items, shoes, and many tables piled with clothes as well as additional clothes on racks. This year I was focused almost exclusively on shoes and clothes.

The key, I’ve found, to doing well at this type of sale is to go rested, fed, hydrated, and with an open mind. You have to be willing to methodically root through the various piles to find what might suit you; for example all the jeans – and there were many – are piled together without regard to size. It’s a bit of work and not everybody enjoys it, but I do, especially when it pays off. (I see a lot of women half-heartedly look at a few things on the tops of the piles and give up. Not me. I mean business.)

The first day has set, albeit low, prices and the second day is half-off household stuff & shoes and a single price ($8 this year) to fill a bag of clothes. The bag is a grocery store sized paper bag (I was a tad disgruntled the years they offered only a small grocery store plastic bag so I was happy to see the return of the brown paper bag on day two of the sale.) I was very pleased with my first day finds: a pair of Levis 712 slim jeans, a print 3/4 sleeve top, and a(nother) Downton Abbey type of winter hat (I’ve acquired two others secondhand prior to this). The jeans and top were each $4 and the hat $3. I didn’t buy them to be a “set” per se (and found them in three different locations) but looking at the photo, they DO look like a nice outfit together!



I wasn’t sure that I’d go back the second day but spontaneously decided to return for “bag day.” Having already found three nice items, I didn’t feel pressed to find more and took the attitude that if I wasn’t having fun, I’d leave. As it turned out, I enjoyed myself, stayed two hours and found a bunch of good stuff. They have a small restroom where you can try on clothes; I always take advantage of this and I was really happy to find a working heater installed this year! (Gets chilly in there.) I paid $8 total for all that follows.

These two t-shirts were great; flattering fit and colors. The brand is Caston which I’ve never heard before.

I saw this shirt on the first day and LOVED the print (I’d like some tie-dye in my life) but I didn’t want to spend $4 on it. I was surprised it was still there the second day.IMG_20181115_093554_kindlephoto-4636398.jpg

I found a pretty Chicos t-shirt but was a bit loose on me. Figuring that I’d be paying under a dollar for it – and it was closer to .50 when all was said and done – I went ahead and got it. The irony here is that the shirt was a size 0. Before you decide I must be impossibly small, let me note that whenever I’ve seen Chicos clothes in second-hand stores, etcetera, they look HUGE to me; clearly the brand uses “vanity sizing.” So anyway, once I had it home, I decided to hand-stitch a seam straight down the back, taking in about 2″ total. Then the shirt fit me nicely.

I think of shirts like these as “play clothes”, nothing fancy but useful and cute. I never heard of the Simply Southern brand and I’m not Southern but have to admit it’s a pretty catchy name. They must have thought so too because the brand name is written on the sleeve and printed in BIG lettering on the back (see the photo). I also included a closeup of the illustration on the bottom of the Faded Glory shirt because it’s a bit odd: children in row boats. These children reappear on the sleeves and the tiny pockets as well. I can’t decide if they’re wearing life jackets. Where are their parents? Are they fishing? They have no rods. I’m worried about them.

These two sweaters are Croft & Barrow (blue) and Ann Taylor (green). Typically, sweaters in my uh, price range, are cheaply made and scratchy, so I don’t buy sweaters. These are soft and very nice. The blue is big – about a size or more big – but I decided that’s okay; it’ll work with leggings and a hat to balance it out.

I like what I’ve seen of New York & Company clothes, which these next two sweaters are. Both are soft and feminine. The red is a true red – like fire engine – but I couldn’t quite capture the exact shade with my tablet. The black one has a little built-in tie at the neck so I included a close-up.

I’d seen this swan shirt on day one of the sale and passed it by. I don’t have any clothes with animals on them and wouldn’t normally consider it. But oh my! This was sort of a cross between a sweat shirt and a sweater and felt great. It looked good too so what the hell? The swan is stitched into the fabric not an applique. (My only association with swans is a story by the Southern writer Bailey White that revealed how mean swans can be. Her story is vivid and I never forgot it.)IMG_20181115_095728_kindlephoto-3583144

Here we have my first pair of hot pink jeans! Normally I wouldn’t get something like this because not a whole lot goes with hot pink jeans, but at this price – under a buck – I went for it. The blue blob is a hat so I included me modeling it so you could see that.


This last top was so beautiful and dressy. It has an inner camisole. Since it didn’t look like much laid out on the table, I modeled it too.

Hope you enjoyed the bargain fashion tour. I enjoyed writing it!