Passing Lanes

Sunday mornings have always been special because it has always (and I mean ALWAYS) meant church. I was five days old the first time I attended. I am grateful for the heritage of building Sunday morning church-going into the foundation of my life. It has never left me. 

However, our current church situation offers a Saturday evening service, which is an exact replica of the Sunday morning one. Our son, Noah, is a member of the worship band and we, of course, love to go worship with him. Also, a large percentage of our  beloved small group, The Wolfpack, as we call ourselves, attends the Saturday evening service. It has become a regular routine to have dinner with them afterward. Always a treat!

It is nice on Sunday mornings to awaken and know we have a day to go out to breakfast or do a few chores. Sorry, Mama. She forbade Sunday chores growing up. But the Lord is gracious and He gives understanding when Sundays sometimes become a day of catch-up in preparation for the new week ahead.

This morning, after breakfast out, my husband and I made a little jaunt to IKEA. We were on a mission for one item. Every time I go and the winding journey begins in the area of those set up little apartments, I want to go home and put a for sale sign in my yard and move in. They are incredibly cozy. Marketing genius. 

As we walked through the network of passages which, intentionally of course, direct the consumer through every department of the store, an idea occurred to me. We were walking briskly, a misnomer at IKEA. There are young couples pushing baby strollers and mid-age couples trying to corral their kids, and older couples shuffling through, in no hurry whatsoever. 

The thought came to mind that there should be designated lanes at IKEA, just like an interstate highway system. There could be a regular lane in the middle, a slower one on the right that creates an easy exit to a specific department, and a high-speed, or passing, lane on the far left. 

At one point walking through the labyrinth, an older couple (older than us, anyway) quickly moved out of our way as if we were the running of the bulls. We definitely got a ‘look’ from them. I guess I didn’t realize we were up in their business so closely. They probably felt our hot breath on their necks. I smiled, apologetically, and quickly moved on. This whole scene could have been avoided if there were proper lanes at IKEA. 

For a bit of trivia ~ you may not know that IKEA is an acronym. The name consists of the initials of Ingvar Kamprad (name of founder), Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up), and Agunnaryd (his hometown in Småland, southern Sweden). 

If any of you visit Sweden and happen to run into Ingvar, please ask him about my *IDEA. I think he may like it. 

*I Desire Easier Access

Healthy Thursday

Is anyone else grossed out by cooking chicken? Here is a lovely organic chicken that I washed inside and out with cold water, salted and peppered, and about to stick into the oven to cook. In two hours, it will be beautifully browned and the skin will be crispy. The juices will run clear and the meat thermometer will register right at 185 degrees. Perfect. 

We will enjoy tender, warm pieces of this chicken along with a medley of cauliflower, broccoli, and asparagus roasted in olive oil and sparingly sprinkled with seasoned salt and pepper. 

Mike and I are trying to stick to a ketogenic diet plan and this meal should fit the bill. 

Honestly, mashed potatoes and homemade gravy would have been delicious with this chicken. Or perhaps a nice dish of hot egg noodles. Also, a crusty, toasty loaf of French bread would round things off nicely. 

No, those things are not on the list. We will stick with meat and the vegetables grown above the ground. We will eat chunks of cheese and olives stuffed with garlic and avocado melted into scrambled eggs and walnuts and pumpkin seeds. 

That raw chicken sitting here on my counter looks a little bit disgusting but it was so very good. It also provided plenty of leftovers, enough to make a nice stir-fry this weekend using a bag of frozen riced cauliflower. 

If you can get past the initial unpleasantness of something, you may find that given the right temperature, the right timing, and the right accompaniment, delicious and lasting changes can be made. I’m counting on it. 

Bay at the Moon

This evening we were finishing up the daily crossword and came across a clue none of us knew. The clue was “Serenade the moon”. By process of elimination the word had to be “bay”. We googled it to check the meaning. The full explanation of this is the phrase “Bay at the moon”. If you bay at the moon (or howl at the moon), you waste your time and energy trying to do something which is impossible or trying to get something which you cannot have. 

We all like the phrase and decided that we are going to begin to integrate it into our everyday conversations. Though, truly, to bay at the moon has a rather negative and sarcastic tone. It feels that to work it into conversation, would mean someone wants something that is most likely not going to happen, or desires something that probably cannot be attained.

Well, that certainly is a downer, which is unfortunate because the mix of words in the phrase is so great. I love the word ‘bay’ and I, of course, love anything to do with the moon or the word moon. For example, the moonlit bay or moonlight bay. That reminds me of the old Doris Day song: 

We were sailing along on Moonlight Bay 

We could hear the voices ringing

They seemed to say

“You have stolen her heart

Now don’t go ‘way”

As we sang love’s old sweet song on Moonlight Bay

But this time, the combination of the words bay and moon mean someone is hurting, someone is disappointed.

In my 60 years of living, I have sure been there. Hurt, disappointed, hopeful and then see those hopes dashed. 

But I am not alone. Whether we are 90 or 10 and every age between, we are going to face those tough days. 

If you think that is not true, well…you may as well bay at the moon. 

Addled and Befuddled

My middle son, Christopher, and I are in a crossword puzzle season. It began when my family traveled to New Haven, Connecticut to attend the graduation of my oldest son, Andrew, from Yale.

At the hotel stop somewhere in Pennsylvania, we picked up a USA TODAY and spent part of the car ride working on the daily crossword puzzle. It was fun and a challenge. We did not complete it before we arrived in New Haven, so took it into the apartment for Andrew and his wife, Lindsey, to help us finish. 

Since then, we have been daily printing out the USA TODAY crossword puzzle. Occasionally in the morning I will be sipping my coffee and checking through my work emails, when I am momentarily startled by noises in the patio room, off of the kitchen. I quickly realize that it is the printer and Christopher has, from somewhere in the house, been at a computer, gone to the website and hit “print” to deliver the daily crossword puzzle. He quickly appears after that to lift it off of the floor, where it has fallen from the printer, and find the blue mechanical pencil we now keep on the kitchen island. 

Christopher works on it for a bit and then I meander closer to take a look over his shoulder. He/we have become quite deft at completing the puzzle in a very efficient manner, sometimes too efficient. It has been fun to discover new words and also get amusingly frustrated at the simple answer we cannot at first produce. 

Occasionally when we are stuck on a couple of clues, leaving it lie on the island and walking away to do a task for a little while, produces a freshness when we return. 

Often, the teamwork approach finishes the puzzle. It has become a fun routine. Sometimes, my youngest son, Noah, will wander past it on the island throughout the day and fill in a few words. 

That little exercise is so true of life. If I zero in on an issue for too long or too pertinaciously, my vision is skewed. I can see nothing else but the problem and it appears to grow beyond its actual size. 

When I have the strength and discipline to avert my unrelenting gaze and switch my focus to another person or another situation or simply practice gratitude, the issue weakens and loses it power over me. 

The problem will come back, or another one dressed similarly. Perhaps with a bit of experience, fresher eyes, and even a buddy to come alongside, I can finish the puzzle and even discover a new thing or two along the way.

Elbows and Pantyhose

When I was a little girl visiting my grandmother, I remember thinking that she was so very old. My earliest memory of her is cooking at the stove, apron over her dress, singing church hymns. She was probably in her mid-60s. 

Just last night, I was telling a friend that I never saw my grandmother’s elbows. She always wore dresses and they were always the same style—a shirtwaist style that buttoned up the front with a belt, fullish  skirt and three-quarter length sleeves, meaning they hit between her elbows and her wrists. 

This sleeve length made sense because she was always working; cooking, washing dishes, gardening, doing laundry. And, she always wore hosiery, which involved wearing either a girdle or a garter belt. This was before the (brilliant) invention of pantyhose.

Here is a little trivia tidbit. Pantyhose were invented in 1959 by a MAN. Yep, it’s true. The story goes that the inventor, Allen Gant Sr., was on a train trip with his then pregnant wife, Ethel, when she told him she could no longer travel with him until after the birth of their baby. Managing her stockings and garter belt over her expanding belly had become too difficult.

Like all good husbands, Allen got to thinking about a way to make her more comfortable. He was, at that time, running textile company Glen Raven Mills and was inspired by his wife’s lament. “How would it be if we made a pair of panties and fastened the stockings to it?” He asked Ethel. She stitched some garments together and handed a crude mockup to her husband. “You have to figure out how to do this,” she said. 

Allen brought his wife’s experiment into his office and with the help of his colleagues, developed what they later called “Panti-Legs”. Their product, the world’s first pantyhose, began lining department store shelves in 1959. Ethel loved them.

Interestingly, the panty-stocking combo did not completely skyrocket until the mid-1960s with the rise (literally) of the miniskirt. For the fashion-conscious woman wanting to wear a skirt shorter than the length of her stockings, pantyhose were the perfect choice. 

Pantyhose have now fallen out of fashion. Today it is bare legs in the summer (with a little help from sunless tanners) and dark tights in the winter. It has been many years, probably at least 15, since I have purchased a pair of pantyhose. As designer, Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is made to become unfashionable.”

I actually remember wearing a girdle, (carefully) pulling on individual stockings and clumsily attaching them to the garters. That happened only a couple of times before I began wearing pantyhose. I was probably about 14 years of age, so that was circa 1971-72. What a great invention! It ranks right up there with the telephone, small pox vaccine, and air-conditioning. 

I am not yet a grandmother, though I am certainly old enough to be (hint, hint). I wear yoga pants and sneakers and a baseball cap with my pony tail pulled through the hole. A far cry from Grandma’s daily dresses, hose and sturdy shoes. 

But I do so very much appreciate Grandma’s values. She chose what she thought was right and best, in spite of discomfort. I guess that makes wearing an occasional Spanx seem not quite so dreadful.

Shooting your Age

I have heard my doctor-husband speak of seeing a healthy patient in his late 60s or 70s or even 80s and say “He is in great shape. He is a golfer who shoots his age.” Explain, I say.

To “shoot your age” refers to good golfers over the age of 65ish. Obviously, a 25 year-old can’t “shoot his age”, but if a 65, 70 or 75 year-old can shoot his age, that is a major accomplishment in golf. Ah, okay. Now I get it. “So then, if a 90 year-old can shoot his age, that is really good, right?” “Yes!” He exclaimed, “really good.”

That got me thinking.

What other sports or activities might we want to “shoot our age”? Maybe tennis ~ love, 15, 30, 40. That could work. I would like to shoot (score) my age in tennis. 

How about basketball? From what I know, a player who scores between 40-60 shots per game is a superstar. Only four players have scored 60 or more points on more than one occasion. Those are Wilt Chamberlain (32 times), Kobe Bryant (6 times), Michael Jordan (5 times), and Elgin Baylor (4 times).

I will most likely never shoot my age in any sport, except perhaps bowling.  

There are certainly moments I would love to (literally) shoot my age. I would blow a hole right through the year on my birth certificate and then create a new one. Perhaps I would replace 1957 with 1967, easy enough to do. Yes, 50 could be nicer to say than 60. 

Those moments, however, are truly just that, momentary. I am trying very hard to do exactly what my blog description states “face 60 with style and grace”. For the record, I did not come up with that phrase. My graphic-designer, brilliant son (one of three), Christopher, added that little quip to the card when he designed it. 

I may have not come up with it, but I am 100% on board with living it out. 

Tiny Labeling

Within the last five to 10 years, I have noticed that manufacturers are making instructions much more difficult to read (wink). This pre-wash spray is a perfect example. If you look very closely you can make out the letters OFF. 

During my weekend in Connecticut, I dripped salted caramel ice-cream onto my pale lavender sweater. The ice-cream was a lovely caramelly, coffee-with-cream color. However, it does not look all that lovely dripped down the front of lavender silk. 

This morning, in my laundry room, I reached for the bottle of pre-wash and knew immediately that I would have to go to the kitchen and find glasses before I could see how to get to the “open” setting. 

Why would anyone design a bottle with the same color settings? The settings should be large and highlighted in fluorescent orange or shocking pink.

I have noticed this problem on other items as well. For instance, on the inside top/cup to the laundry detergent. The ‘1-2-3’ measuring levels are printed in the same color as the lid with a simple slightly embossed measuring number. It perhaps feels the same as a visually impaired person using braille, which is a truly amazing tactile writing system.

Why must everything be designed by, manufactured by and sold by people under the age of 45?!

Certainly, youth are the working force and for that, I am thankful. But similar to a church that wants to look “multi-generational”, spanning from babies to 95 year-olds, we need a little diversity in the design world. 

I would suggest that corporations hire a few 50+ year-olds to design bottles and containers and labels. Perhaps a grocery store could be similar to a library with signage such as “Large Print Section”. It would be extremely helpful. 

For now, I will buy an extra pair of +2.25 reading glasses and keep them in my laundry room. I currently have a pair in every other room in my house, including the bathroom. I will keep stocking as necessary because I am certainly not yet ready to own one pair and wear them around my neck on a sassy chain. 

I may do that some day, but that is not going to be this day or the day after that or the day after that. 

Perhaps I will concede at age 70.