Showdown at the Double Doors

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I was leaving the post office. She was arriving.

Through the glass, we saw each other approaching the doors.

We arrived at the doors at the same time, on different sides.

She pulled open her door for me and waited for me to walk out.

I pushed open my door and waited for her to walk in.

We stood there, letting all of the air conditioned air out of the post office, sizing each other up.

I’m seventy-one. She was at least 10-20 years my senior. Her hair was “done” and not a hair was out of place. She wore those Florida resort clothes that only snow birds back in New York for the summer can sport. “Go ahead,” she said, holding the door for me, a vicious smile spreading all over her “worked on” face.

“No you go,” I replied sweetly, ever so sweetly, never speaking the B word.  I made a slight bow as I motioned her to walk through.

Her eyes narrowed and locked on mine before she walked through her own open door. Those eyes said, “It ain’t over, bitch. We will meet up again.”

I got in my car, put on my soft rock station, opened the windows, and sang along with my music.

Conservation of Energy

Hello Folks, any of you who might still be left out there…

You might relate to this block if:

  • You talk to yourself
  • You aspire to be a person who is “organized and gets things done.”

As I was staring at the birds at my feeder this morning and talking to myself, this is what I said:

“Rose,  stop it.  If you use up your eyes on the birds now, your eyes will not work for you when it’s time to write.

Rosie, if you look at the birds and think about them now, you will use up your mind and it won’t work when you are trying to plot out the novel.

Girl, if you work on plotting the novel now, you will surely need a nap. Then you won’t be able to start the new project…the one that was going to make you and the family….lots of money.

Doody Head, if you use your energy to write on your sweet dying blog now, you will not be able to do any of the above—so you might as well go back to bed; remember 40 years of going to work; remember traveling there on snowy, rainy, icy mornings; and then snuggle in and sleep late.

Nighty night.”

The Best Frying Pan in the World!

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When I was a child my mother made us blintzes (thin pancakes, crepes or blinis). We usually ate blintzes on summer days, and those were the days we left our third floor apartment door open, and we used a screen door. First, my mother used the frying pan you see here to prepare the thin pancakes that she would later fill with cheese or blueberries. Then after sautéing her filled blintzes in butter in the same frying pan, our family would eat them with dollops of sour cream and/or sugar. Yummy!

On one of those blintze-making days long ago, my mother said to me, “Rowie, someday this frying pan will be yours.” According to her, this amazing frying pan was the only frying pan on all seven continents that could prepare blintzes the right way!

I offer Ma’s frying pan here for your consideration. It’s aluminum and it’s about sixty years old, give or take a decade.

My mother died on December 19, 1988, and I wanted to write about her a few days ago, but nothing I drafted— worked. I posted nothing on December 19th. I was trying to stick with my theme of writing about introversion, solitude, and the effects of too much stim (light, sound,) on my delicate psyche.

Normally, I am calmed by textures that are dull and natural looking. If I could decorate my whole house with driftwood, and soft earth colors, I believe, I could be more serene. Shiny makes me crazy. This whole holiday season with its bright lights, loud music, and the in-your-face commercials makes me as frenetic as the squirrels at my bird feeders when they find the peanut butter. I’m an introvert. I need solitude. I need softness and muted colors.  I need time with my own thoughts.

The other day, I found my mother’s shiny blintze pan on a back shelf in our basement. After she died, I made blintzes at my home, but only once. I stopped making blintzes because Jerome the Great and Good didn’t care for them; they’re a pain in the neck to make; and blintzes are very rich. The word, rich, has become a bad word in foody circles. I know many people who screw up their noses like squirrels and say, “Oh, I couldn’t eat that. It’s too rich.” Then they go eat their kale.

I make kale soup and it is really great—but it’s not blintzes! Blintzes, eaten on a hot day in Apartment 33B on the third floor, with the screen door open and the smells of the vanilla, butter, cream cheeses, and dough wafting into the entire apartment house, is an experience that I will remember, forever.

I stared at the blintze pan a long time. Then I picked it up and kissed it, and I held it close. I was alone.

I’m sure extroverts do things like kissing their mother’s frying pans too, but I’m an introvert, and my moments of solitude sustain me. So I am sharing my holiday thoughts with introverts, extroverts, and everyone.

Once in a while, eat stuff that is rich. Tomorrow there will be plenty of time to diet.

Go off into your little private place; caress your grandma’s old recipes or your ma’s old pots or your dad’s old work clothes…the ones you packed away because you couldn’t bear to part with them.

Find that box where you packed away your kids’ size 3 month undershirts and stretchies. Pick them up, hold them, and let your senses overcome you. Cuddle them, smell them, talk to them, have a good cry, and then come back out and join the party with your best smiling extrovert face!

It’s good to remember and it’s great to be alive!

Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Happy New Year to Everyone!

 

 

 

 

Do You Suffer from Too Much Stim?

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Are You Unnerved by Too Much Stim?  Take This Test to Find Out.

  1. Your dear friends invite you and another couple to a small dinner party.

a. You can’t wait because you love being with good friends, and you enjoy eating great food.

b. You look for an excuse not to go.

c. You never received the invitation because you and your crowd are all forty-ish, and you don’t do dinner parties at home. When you entertain at home, you offer drinks, snacks, more drinks, more snacks, and dessert.

2. When you arrive at your friends’ home you hear the strains of music coming from their stereo or hi fi or whatever the heck we used to call that thing that plays (ahem) records. The music you hear is jazz. It is very loud jazz.

a. You start snapping your fingers and saying things like “Groovy, man, groovy!”

b. Your upper lip starts going numb, which your doctor assured you is a sign of stress.

c. You say, “Thanks, I’ll have a white wine,” while you’re still wearing your coat.

3.The drinks are poured; the hors d’oeuvres are luscious and:

a. The conversation flows; everyone (including you) is bright and witty.

b. The conversation flows; everyone (but you) appears to be bright and witty.

c. You smile, nod appreciatively, and when someone asks you, “What do you think?” you answer, “Yes, I have a new shrink.”

People who can’t do “Too Much Stim” have given the following answers:
Question One: a\
Question Two: b and/or c
Question Three b and/or c.

Continue reading

Glad Tidings

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This blog post is for my friend, Katie, who asked me to write about glad….not sad, bad, or mad.

We’ll start with just a speck of “sad.

Last week the deck outside my kitchen was a sad place. There were no birds and no pesky squirrels. That’s because I stopped putting out water in my bird baths. I didn’t have any bird food out either. I stopped putting it out three years ago when there was a bear on our block. I stopped the bird food at that time because I was afraid of bears coming for it, breaking into my kitchen,  fighting me for my tuna fish sandwich, and finding the chocolate chip cookies I had hidden in the back of the pantry for my late night visitor, the elves.

At that time I discovered that I could bring birds to my deck with just water in two plant saucers and I didn’t need to put out bird food.  Throughout the summer and most of the fall I was really good about cleaning and refreshing the water in my saucers, but when the cold weather came, I stopped.

I got lazy. My leg hurt. I went to doctors, took tests, and got a tentative diagnosis of a muscle strain(? ),tear(?), and of course, the usual arthritis. During this time, I kvetched and canceled my annual Thanksgiving gathering. I was busy worrying about myself. Trust me. I was not worrying about birds or those pesky squirrels.

But, do not despair. Here comes the “glad” part of this tale.

Gladness starts with my family. My daughter came and after we joked about it possibly being my “last Thanksgiving,” under my tutelage, she cooked our traditional hot clam dip, carrot pudding, cracker stuffing, and cranberry relish. She left some for me, and took the rest to her beloved in-laws in Connecticut with my blessing. This was one year I did not want her to split the day by driving two hours each way to sit at two Thanksgiving tables. I knew she would feel as much at home at her husband’s childhood home as she did at our house…probably more so because her mother-in-law is probably much nicer and doesn’t pry, like I do. As usual, the fathers on both sides are perfect and can do nothing wrong. Moving along…

All my traditional guests (family and friends) found places to go and all invited Jerome and me. Gail sent over some turkey, her famous corn pudding, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. Everyone wanted us or wanted to cook for us.  I chose to stay home because if I had gone to one person’s house I would have been in trouble with the others.

People, even those who did not traditionally come to me for Thanksgiving, called and asked how I was doing.

Now, about the birds. Guess who came to their rescue? You got it. Jerome, the Great and Good! Off he went to the garage, and he found an old bird feeder and some bird food that we had stored in one of those metal holiday cans.  He put the food in the feeder and hung it from the tree. He cleaned and refreshed my dry birdy water parks with clear warm water. He poured a different kind of bird seed (thistle) on an old cookie tray and anchored the tray on a small table with a rock.

Looking out at my deck this morning, I saw the essence of glad. I saw my birds in total ecstasy. Tufted titmice, chickadees, white throated sparrows, juncos, cardinals, bluejays, Carolina wrens, hairy woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, red bellied woodpeckers, and a mockingbird were fluttering around my deck, eating, drinking, swimming, chirping, and singing. It was like they had licked postage stamps of LSD! And those darn squirrels? Ah yes! They were right back to their insane scampering, jumping, and humping each other.

Joy was restored. Life is good. I’m glad to be alive. I’m glad I have my family, my friends, my leg pains, my birds, and even those damn squirrels. I’ll take Glad anytime, and I’ll cherish it!

 

 

 

 

 

The Next Writing Adventure

Hello Friends,

Please give me six “I” bullet points and then I’ll come back to “You.”

  1. I finished my book and self-published it in October.
  2. I was proud beyond belief.
  3. I did what I thought I couldn’t do.
  4. I goofed off in November,—wrote nothing—but thought about lots of stuff.
  5. Now, I’m  for my next writing adventure.
  6. I don’t know what it will be.

Now, back to “You.”

I want to write with much more of an awareness of “you,” my readers. I’m not sure if my new writing will be sad, glad, mad, or bad. (those pesky words are for you, writing teachers)  I’m just going to write, and see where it takes me. I hope you return to my blog and find stuff that touches you.

Also, there’s the other thing… the second book????????????????????  Ten mainstream publishers are engaged in a bidding war on it now. I’m waiting to see who gives me the largest advance. My agent is also negotiating for international distribution.

Please do not make the mistake some of my earlier readers (my wonderful cousins) made. I once wrote that someone had bought my short story for $75,000.00—and they believed me!

I love my cousins. See ya soon.

Getting Your Child Off to a Successful First Day of School: People to Thank

Looking out my living room window at the kids and their parents waiting for the school bus, I am remembering my own first days—as a parent, and as a teacher. No one has asked, but I am prepared to say, “Thank these folks.”

  • School Staff who are also parents of young kids: Many of them left their own kids in the hands of spouses, grandparents, and neighbors so they could be there for your kids.
  • Those wonderful spouses, grandparents, and neighbors who stepped up for all working parents.
  • The Boss who said, “It’s OK to come in late. Bring in photos!
  • The municipal workers who protected my child.
  • Your school’s: aides, nurses, social workers, office staff, janitors, bus drivers, crossing guards, and those truly wonderful cafeteria ladies.
  • The school’s administrators, who got about an hour of sleep last night, if they were lucky.
  • Your school’s teachers who are experiencing “the longest day” of the school year and who will arrive home absolutely exhausted. Somebody please bring in a pizza for them. For some teachers, it may be just the reverse. For them it will be “the shortest day” because they so over-planned, and the time flew by, and they couldn’t accomplish all they planned. They should get a pizza too.
  • Here are two additional categories of teachers to thank on the first day:
    • Smiling teachers. They could be the best teacher your child ever had.
    • Non-smiling teachers: They could be the best teacher your child ever had.

Parents, you won’t know yet. Give everybody a chance!

  • Finally, anyone in the school community who “parented” any child who nervously waited on line or walked through those big doors that day. Believe me, every school has many of these wonderful people. They are the folks who supply a change of clothes for a wet child, and a comforting arm around the trembling shoulder of a frightened child. These “mama’s and “papa’s” are also the ones who make sure every child has a costume for Halloween; a warm coat, mittens and boots for the winter, and (about fifteen years later) a cap and gown, and maybe even a tux or a  dress for a high school prom.

Parent, you thought I was going to forget. Thank yourselves too! You have done a wonderful job!

This retired teacher wishes everyone a wonderful school year!

Marketing for Seniors. Should You Memorize Your Pitch?

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Here are some things I learned to memorize long ago. Try them. See if you can add a few words.

  • My country tis of thee…
  • Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow…..
  • My name is Ozymandias, ________________g of ____________gs.
  • We the people………………………………..

How did you do? I bet you did just fine.

What do these ancient memories have to do with the title of this post? Read on.

Well, as I mentioned on my last post, I have written a book.  Now I’m expected to market this book. Actually I should have been marketing my book for at least the past ten years, but I couldn’t because I was too busy writing it.

So, along comes Rosie-Come-Lately to the new world of Marketing and Promotion. Ten years ago, I learned the words, elevator pitch. I needed to “pitch” my book  (to an important person) in the time it takes for an elevator to go from the third floor to the first floor.

So, let’s just pretend I get into an elevator with Ms. Gatekeeper of  the Biggest Publishing Company. Ahem! I curtsey to her, bow my head, kiss her toes, and cast my eyes downward, with reverence. Of course she doesn’t know I have been stalking her, and have planned this elevator pitch like Eisenhower planned the invasion at Normandy. I have thirty seconds to tell her what my book is about.

She says, “Good Morning.”

I say, “I have a book.”

Then Ms. Gatekeeper says, “Oh please tell me about it.” Actually she says “Oh sh–! How do I find these people?”

Then, I lick my lips and say, “My book is about (we pass the third floor) and then I (we pass the second floor). “Oh yeah,” I mumble, “I forgot to say it’s a memoir, and, and, and (she walks out of the elevator doors and into her waiting limo). I stand there in the lobby, trying to catch my breath.

So, I go back home and practice rewriting my pitch. I have written at least 4356, drafts of this one paragraph pitch. Book writing is a cinch compared to writing and delivering an elevator pitch.

I write another copy and this time, instead of stalking Ms. Gatekeeper, I decide to take it to my own unique audience, my fellow seniors. There is a Senior Fair here in Rockland County New York where I live. I go from table to table pitching my story and offering to speak to groups of seniors about some of the themes in my book that we all share. Again, because I am nervous, I flubber all over myself, can’t get the words out, and feel like a total failure.

Amazingly, they all want me!!! I think there is something about my words, “For Free! No Charge!” that ingratiates me with my tribe.

Every day in this book publishing trip, is a learning day for me. Now, I have decided that the key to delivering my pitch is to memorize it. Yeah sure. So I print it out, stick it on the fridge, and start memorizing it, sentence by sentence, word by word. I walk around my kitchen trying to memorize and make my morning coffee at the same time. Mistake. The milk goes in the dish cabinet, the spoon goes in the fridge, and the pot is turned on before I put in the coffee.

Long ago, I could memorize, thanks to my dear teachers.

Now it’s a different story.  I’m sure if you are a senior and I ask you to finish this sentence, you will be able to do it. “I remember what I did fifty years ago, but I ___________________________!”

Of course, you got it right!

So. as a public service, I’ll save you the trouble of listening to me fumble my way through my pitch.  I invite you to read it here…for free!

Here’s my elevator pitch for my book.

“My book Still Playing in the Dirt is my memoir that begins in my childhood and continues to today. Each chapter is about my search for serenity in the world of nature.  My problem, however, is that most times instead of finding serenity in the outdoors, I have found stress, usually due to my own ineptitude. If you are looking for a serious guide to camping, fishing and birdwatching, this book is not it. However, if you are looking at how a woman uses these nature experiences to make us laugh and cry about the common concerns we all share like belonging, parenting, yearning, and aging, then— this is your book.”

Like the kindergarteners who starts school on the first day with his name, address and phone number printed on a  card , safety pinned to his first- day- of- school shirt,  I am going to carry  a card with my elevator pitch on it, but for sure, I will use large print.

Thanks for riding the elevator with me.

How to Gain Weight and Exercise Your Brain at the Same Time!

Photo Credit: Boogies with Fish via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Boogies with Fish via Compfight cc 

In my earlier post, I said my brain was frozen during the summer.  But only part of that was true. So let’s move on to the subject of Neurology and the Brain.

As The Nothing Expert, I am qualified to write about the brain because I have one. Now that I have your attention, let me just say that my brain does not work like the brain of a millennial. I cannot multi-task. I’m lucky if I can do one teeny, tiny task at a time, and then for mental reinforcement, I munch on some chips, and dip.

In 1955 in our fourth grade class, I wrote the script for a puppet show, and then I decided that someday I would “Write a Book.”

When I was sixty, I started my book, and it only took me ten years to write it.

Then millions of people told me “Ha. Ha. You cannot publish a book without a platform and billions of followers. Get a platform.”

A platform means followers, billions of followers, even some from outer space.

And so, I put the book away, and decided to seek followers, on Facebook, Twitter, and on this blog.

Along the way I met some very wonderful people and I have enjoyed their blogs, comments, and our shared conversations. I still don’t get Twitter, and I’m past the point of caring how I screw up on Facebook.

But I have not been a good girl this summer. I have failed to write in my blog and I have failed to comment on other people’s blogs. I beg for your forgiveness, if you are one of my followers.

That’s because I have been working on my book, again. You cannot just write “The End,” on your last page and then say “OK World, Come and get It!”

Actually, I have been learning how to publish the book. Now if we break that up into steps, I would say that publishing a book takes about a zillion steps, all of them new for an old broad like me. And I can only concentrate on one step at a time, or I will get frazzled, eat too much, and gain 25 pounds of flesh, in my thighs.

So, who had time for writing? Not me.

Also, I never mentioned the book because somewhere in the zillions of publishing pointers, there was a warning on “shameless self-promotion.”

So, I am going to try to do the unheard of “Walk and Chew Gum” at the same time. In the coming weeks I am going to work on a few more steps, all at once! Along the way, I will tell you more about the book, but I will try to do it in a way that isn’t shameless self-promotion. 

Now where is that butter pecan ice cream? I’m spent.

Summer Brain Freeze

Photo Credit: Artotem via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Artotem via Compfight cc

Am I the only one?

My thinking brain functions about two or three hours a day, and then it stops. Those hours are at dawn. If I don’t use my brain during that very short window of opportunity, I am in deep doo-doo. This spring and summer, I admit, my thinking brain has been asleep. My non-thinking brain has enjoyed summer reading, playing, vacationing, entertaining, cooking, eating, entertaining, imbibing and a big fat bunch of crying on the bathroom scale.

As a human, I find there are many acts which require thinking, and this realization often leads to conflict. Writing is one of those thinking activities.  I often say, “Rose, you nitwit! You have not blogged for almost two months! You should get a flogging for not blogging!”

Then I made the mistake of writing the first draft of this blog yesterday at four in the afternoon, a time when my brain was not working. Here is what I wrote about my failure to blog:

Every author of every self- help book about blogging castigates those profligates like me who allow our gray matter to ooze out of our skulls like magma and harden over us like the poor souls of Pompeii who were permanently hardened during the eruption of Vesuvius…

Now, dear reader, I had great fun writing that sentence; and no, I don’t want to revise it two thousand times. I am seventy years old, and I just don’t want to! Period!

Ah, that was so freeing!

(Please forgive me. I’ll be so sorry I published this when I read it during my optimum brain time tomorrow at dawn.) Right now I’m going back to sitting and staring out at my deck at the robins and the bluejays as they fight over my bird bath. It’s my window of opportunity to do just that.