Thursday, November 23, 2017

Black Friday and Other Christmas Thoughts

Sadly, the idea of Black Friday is spreading to Europe even without Thanksgiving.

For me it doesn't matter. Christmas shopping is done. Rick's presents arrived today. Thank you UPS. Other people's have long been bought, found over the course of the year. I won't have to go into a store until after the holidays.

Even if I hadn't finished, nothing, nothing, nothing would drag me into a store on Black Friday. If I have no choice but to shop, I try and do it when as few people as possible are there. If a store is crowded, I can see no point in entering at all.

My method when I do go in, especially to a chain...go directly to the item wanted. Do not look right or left, buy it and get out as fast as possible and go do something I enjoy.

Malls are the worse with the chain stores. If I find a small shop, preferably with a single owner that won't leave me depressed it can be a little different. These are almost never in the malls. Often it is possible to chat with the owner making the transaction personable and memorable.

Years ago a good friend convinced me to go into a shop in a village in France with beautiful handmade sweaters. I still have the one I bought there and treasure it and the memory.
Another reason I want to avoid Black Friday is that I want to give thoughtful and original gifts. My husband knows not to buy me something that corporations have manipulated him into buying to clutter my home. Although he says, I am hard to buy for, he has been beyond clever in finding things I love like a special book or a Japanese chin sweatshirt neither of which he could never have found in Black Friday chaos.

It still amazes me that people go further into debt for Christmas. Even with a great Black Friday price, if it is put on a charge card, interest charges soon eat up any price savings. Years ago, people had Christmas clubs where they put a few dollars so when Christmas came around, they knew their budget and didn't have to dread bills in January and beyond.

Christmas stockings can still be special, though. My daughter has embroidered ours, including a new one for my husband to say welcome to the family. In the past we've stuffed them with anything from the silly to the delicious. Although I don't need it this year, hard to get Crest toothpaste has always been a special stocking stuffer.

I am looking forward to Christmas. We are planning a tree-decorating-celebrate-the-solstice open house where we can share just being with friends. This year we most likely go to Amadeus for Christmas dinner. Amadeus, the restaurant, not my late dog's grave.

I already have everything I could possible want in life and more--I don't need Black Friday.






Monday, November 20, 2017

White hair

My grandfather had white hair that I loved. I thought of white cotton candy.

Then in Germany I had a friend who also had white hair despite being in her twenties. She bleached it, but her own hair was so light that her roots never showed. She was also drop-dead beautiful. I was jealous.

I was sort of a dirty blond but for years I dyed my hair red at the suggestion of my white-haired friend.

It worked, but I really wanted white hair.

I tried to grow it out, but I hate roots and always rushed back to the dye.

Nature and lots of chemo solved the roots problem. When it grew back, glory, glory it was white and instead of looking older as people said I would, I looked younger.

Seems I am in style. I've been reading articles about how many women are going naturally white and then France2 did a program on women going gray.






Sunday, November 19, 2017

Less is more


As writers we are told "Less is More" and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is a perfect example. He gave the speech on this day in history 1863.


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pockets

My late friend Barbara, used to say couples shouldn't live in each other's pockets. I agreed with her.

Having been single for 41 years, I was amazed that by marrying my soul mate, we were in each other's pockets almost all the time. Even more amazing -- it was fine!

We are both writers with desks about 12 feet apart although in separate rooms. Much of our days can be spent at our computers.

We do other things, from exploring the area, photo safaris, movies, restaurants, etc. almost everything together, although recently he has returned to what he loves as much (or more) than me (see photo). I am thrilled for him.
I may wander to the baker or butcher, he might amble to the neighborhood grocer by ourselves. And I still take time to visit with women friends. But mostly we are together 24/7.

According to Barbara we should be at each other's throats, but we are not. Maybe because we've developed the ability to be alone together.

Now he is on a two-week trip to Dallas, Johnson City, Orlando. I was curious how it would be to be alone.

Alone in Argelès is a limited term. One just has to go to either of the two cafés at the end of the street and someone shows up for a chat. All our food shopping is with owner-operated stores, so a chat about kids with Elisabeth while buying veggies, or philosophy with another shop owner, is the norm.

Although nothing stops me from doing what I want while in the pocket, I often don't.  I've discovered that:
  • I am watching more French television in place of English.
  • Missing our DVD/cuddle time
  • Not eating meat
  • Reveling in beets, artichokes and other foods that I am too lazy to prepare in addition to whatever day I am cooking. Rick and I alternate days.
  • Having less laundry
  • Having less trash not by 50% but by 80%
  • Missing being handed a brownie or hearing the machine popcorn
  • Sleeping diagonally in the bed
  • Missing reading in bed in the morning and sharing what I am reading. I can do the first half with pleasure
I am happy to report that I can still love being alone, although it would be my second choice. I do not want to lose the ability.

So, I am looking forward to the rest of Rick's away time, but not as much as I am looking forward to his being back. I've decided that being in a pocket with someone is more than okay depending on the person and the pocket. One of the few times my friend Barbara was wrong.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hope Chest

I doubt if any American girl today has a hope chest. In my era they were just going out of fashion.

The idea went back thru time when women would gather linens, household goods and clothes for their trousseaus. Some linens were lovingly embroidered and were expected to last. Most were cedar to protect the contents.

The biggest manufacturer was the Lane Company, begun by John and Ed Lane in 1912. After a hostile take over in 1987 they went bankrupt in 1992 but continued making hope chests until summer in 2001. It is now known as the Lane Furniture Company.

The chests came in many designs. Samples can be seen on Ebay with bids starting at $39 and going up into the high three figures.

Some 12 million chests were made.

Some of my friends had hope chests. I never did, although I've ever been without hope. Today my hopes aren't about linens but are more about
  • World Peace (I sound like a beauty queen contestant)
  • Health for me and those I love and like
  • Good friendships
  • As much time as possible in the places I love
  • A dog
  • My husband's happiness
  • Laughter







Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bed


As a kid I hated bedtime. No sooner did the door close and I was up and I resumed playing. What bothered me was that my mother took my shoes, and I had to explain to whatever imaginary people I was playing with that I had the latest style shoes that looks like feet. Periodically my mother would come in and tell me to get back in bed.

As an adult going to bed is wonderful, especially now with the cold, dark evenings. I may be watching TV or a DVD and my eyes droop. Or I may crawl into the pre-heated bed under the red and white mink and read. Or as my daughter says, pretend to read, because I often fall asleep with the book on my chest.

Likewise mornings are different. I don't have to jump out of bed to take the dogs (although I do miss them) for a walk and then rush to work. I can listen to the church bells, read, and gentle myself into the day.

In between morning and night, life goes on as usual. The only difference now, bed is no longer dreaded but a beacon, another joy in a day filled with pleasures.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

black and white

"Shit" I thought, when I saw someone in our Facebook group, Flying Colours, nominated me to do seven days of black and white photos. At first I thought of just not doing it. Time to go out and look for black and white possibilities.

Then I wondered about turning my colored photos to black and white.

Eureka!

Suddenly, I saw things in the photos that I hadn't seen before. What I thought would be a chore became fun.

In high school, I had a wonderful teacher who kept saying, "There is no black and white, only shades of gray."

Thanks K. for helping to keep my mind open.