Day 365


What a bittersweetness I am feeling. In fact, writing my very last blog has overshadowed and superseded the reality of turning 61. I truly nearly forgot.

When I am close to finishing a book that I have really enjoyed, I experience a homesick-thirsty feeling. If I have about 10 pages left, I dole them out carefully. I save those last few pages to read until I can sit quietly, not feel rushed, and not be interrupted. I want to cherish and be entrenched in the ending. Occasionally when I finish a book, I actually miss the characters for a period of time.

My heart is heavy as I write this blog. It feels similar to finishing a great book. 

A few of you have been with me from the beginning. You have been incredibly faithful. My gratitude is fathomless. I am deeply humbled by your kindness. 

I will miss speaking to you every day.

Though I am ready for a bit of a respite, this is not the end. My plan is to begin the tedious task of going back and reading through the nearly 138,000 words I have written and begin an editing process. A thought from the beginning was to compile this into a book. I will begin that journey. 

My website will remain the same and I will give periodic updates, so stay tuned. I have had many thoughts about if and how to continue. I may write a “Weekly Wednesday” blog to keep my connection.

To stay tethered to your hearts. 

What day is it?” asked Pooh.

It’s today,” squealed Piglet.

My favorite day,” said Pooh.

The Last Night in July

Every time July 31 rolls around I think of a song by Carole King. It was released on the album called Rhymes and Reasons in 1972. My older brothers had albums that I used to sneak and borrow so I could listen to them in my room on a small little thrift store turntable. I loved the James Taylor album Sweet Baby James, Jackson Browne’s For Every Man, and anything Carole King.

On King’s Rhymes and Reasons album, there were so many great songs; Feeling Sad Tonight, Goodbye Don’t Mean I’m Gone, the hugely popular Been to Canaan, and the one to which I am referring in this blog post, The First Day in August. 

There is something about the last day of July that brings a touch of sadness. I think, in part, it is because it marks the last full month of pure summer. Technically, we still have summer until the first day of fall, which is September 22. But we all know that by August, the back-to-school blues are beginning and things begin to feel different. All summer clothes go on sale. The days begin to darken noticeably sooner.  We start to hear about dates set for fall festivals and pumpkin runs. 

So this song. I do not 100% love all of the words, but there is something sweet and sad about the song that draws me in. I am going to share it so you can join me in the end of July blues. James Taylor crooned about calling on friends in winter, spring, summer, or fall.

Isn’t that what friends are for?

On the first day in August

I want to wake up at your side

After sleeping by you on the last night in July

In the morning

We’ll watch the sun rising

And we’ll chase it from the mountains

To the bottom of the sea

When the day is over

And the night air comes to chill us

You’ll build a fire

And we’ll watch the flames dancing

You’ll fall asleep

With your arm around my shoulder

And nothing will comes between us

On the first night in August

The first day in August

Happy last day of July. 

Blueberries, Baby

The early 80s were all about putting fruity scents on things; scratch-and-sniff stickers, chunky erasers, lip balms, and magic markers. 

Ask any young woman what her favorite strawberry-scented object was from the 80s and she will most likely tell you this: Strawberry Shortcake. She was the doll that smelled like strawberries! And she actually smelled really good. 

The character was, and still is, owned by American Greetings. She started out as a star in their card line then moved into hearts and homes with her line of dolls, colognes, bed sheets and skirts, and posters. 

The Strawberry Shortcake doll was first introduced by Kenner in 1980 and was immediately popular. The dolls and toys made well over 100-million dollars in their first year out. Wow! That is a lot of strawberry scent. 

From my research, the appeal of the character as told through books and television specials was that she was always optimistic, kind, and ready to help anyone in need. I like that. 

This month is National July Belongs to Blueberries Month. I have always loved anything blueberry, much more than strawberry things. I am constantly searching out blueberry jams and blueberry syrups at restaurants and stores. If there is a choice of muffins, it is always blueberry. Same with pancakes. 

I also love the name blueberry and the color of blueberries, which actually has a lot of purple in them. Even better. 

Strawberry Shortcake had a crew of friends each with their own distinct name and smell. My favorite of her pals was, of course, Blueberry Muffin. She was SS’s friend since the very beginning. In the 1980s the character was depicted with blue hair in pigtails. She spoke with a southern drawl and was known as being a bit forgetful. This made her even more endearing. 

Having three son, Strawberry Shortcake dolls and paraphernalia were never a part of our home. But I always loved the idea of her, and more specifically, her bosom buddy, Blueberry Muffin.

I believe that no matter how old we are, there are still sweet things that touch our hearts and instantly bump us back to the simple innocence of youth. I hope I never let go of that. 

Iced Tea Month

June is National Iced Tea Month, which is very appropriate. When you think of June, you think of summer and swimming and graduations and weddings and refreshing iced tea.

I grew up drinking iced tea. Let me rephrase that, I grew up drinking very sweet iced tea. My mama, and then when we were old enough, my siblings and I, brewed a two gallon jug of iced tea every single day; winter, spring, summer or fall (all you have to do is call. Thank you, Carole King, for that lovely, timeless song). 

We boiled water on the stove in a funky, triangular-shaped iron pot. We put in eight teabags (always eight) and boiled for a few seconds, then let it ‘brew’ for about five minutes more. We then poured that beautiful copper red tea into one of those old-fashioned Tupperware jugs with the lid that has a small hole and cap for pouring. The jug had been previously filled half way with cold water and two cups of sugar. We stirred that sweet nectar until it blended beautifully then stuck it in the fridge until dinner time. 

The sweet tea at our home affectionally became known as “Ray Tea”. It is still called that today. Whenever there is a family event ~ Thanksgiving, picnics, reunions, birthday parties, Ray tea is expected to be on the counter. 

I have had a lot of sweet tea from various restaurants, and it is pretty good, but my mama’s sweet tea is the best I ever had.

As a young wife and mother, I thought it was cool to jump onto the sun tea bandwagon and made it that way for years. It was always so fun to put it out in the morning and by dinner time, it was perfectly colored and ready to drink. I definitely modified the sugar measurements, though. Of course, it wasn’t as good, but knew that it was better for my family. 

I have stopped making fresh iced tea. For one, I have hard water and it just never comes out the same coppery red color. Two, I drink my tea and coffee sans sugar. I have been drinking it that way for at least 15 years. When I want iced tea, I buy a gallon jug of Tradewinds or Pure Leaf unsweetened tea and pour it over ice. It always satisfies.

We hear a lot about green tea and the latest trend, matcha green tea. There are apparently real benefits to partaking. But even old-fashioned black pekoe tea has healthy pluses. 

Black tea is full of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help protect cells from DNA damage. Increasing evidence hints that the antioxidants in black tea may also reduce atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), especially in women. 

So it is your national duty to drink in a tall skinny glass of iced sometime this month. Wait for a real scorcher of a day and guzzle it down like you’ve been in the desert for two weeks. It is incredibly satisfying, and sans the sugar, is actually very good for you. 

Go ahead, take the (Nestea) plunge. 


This week I visited a grocery store that I rarely shop. As I was going through the checkout line, I noticed this package of large gumballs.

It brought back such vivid childhood memories of love, love, loving packages of giant purple gumballs or the red ones that were cinnamony. I recall there were some lime green colored ones, too, that were tart apple flavored. 

What I do not recall is my mother buying these things for me. I was one of six kids and she couldn’t buy something for each child every time we asked. Also, my parents were on a tight budget and candy, soda and store-bought cookies were considered quite superfluous.

However, as a young teen when I could make a few bucks baby-sitting or doing the family ironing, I occasionally splurged and bought my own giant gumballs. 

No wonder our family dentist always beamed when he saw me walk through the door. I worked myself up to quite a few sugary cavities when I was in junior high school.

So this week, momentarily, I was 13 years old again, with the advantage of being 60 and knew I could buy as many dang packages of beautifully-colored gumballs as my heart desired. Though I bought only one and have enjoyed them very much. 

Occasionally there are sweet (very sweet), simple joys found in being an older adult. 

Paper Dolls and Expectations

When I was a little girl, one of my very favorite things was paper dolls. Oh, how I loved to cut (very carefully) along the hyphened sheets of clothing and hats and then dress my ‘doll’ for various events. 

I have previously blogged about my mother’s fashion design history. Whether it is genetics or environmental, I have an interest in clothing. Paper dolls, for a little girl with a clothing passion, is a dream come true.

I remember that my mother once made a hat for my Barbie from one of the cups in an egg carton. She carefully removed one of them and covered it in fabric. It fit Barbie’s head perfectly. I can see it still, orange and green tweed perched smartly on Barbie’s dark hair. 

I also remember, when I was a little girl, wondering if I would look like Barbie when I grew up. Now I am a big girl and still wondering.

If it is going to happen, I hope it kicks in soon.

When I last spent time with some of my cousins, I was talking with the oldest one in our group, Sandy, about paper dolls. She told me that she always loved them, too. She said she still has a box of paper dolls and now shares them with her granddaughters. 

A few days after we had been together, a large manila envelope arrived in my mailbox. Inside was this sheet of a paper doll. It was such a thrill to open the envelope and find it! 

The sheet is propped up on my desk and I see it every day while I work. I do not have the heart to cut out the clothes and the bow and the hat. It is much sweeter to look at and remember. 

Thank you, dear cousin Sandy, for such a thoughtful act of kindness. I love to discover a kindred fondness for something. 

And this little paper doll–well, put long dark hair on her and that, not Barbie, is more the picture of who I grew up to be.

Party tea and cupcakes, eyelet fabric and ribbons, and a straw hat and flowers. It’s all good.

These Boots are Made for Walkin’

I was in a thrift store yesterday, looking for a CD player. I know that is a passé item for which to be searching. My husband is preparing to take his medical board exam, which has to be retaken every 10 years. Well, 2018 is the year.

He has some CDs from the last time he was preparing for the board exam. That was in 2008 and believe it or not, we were actually using CD players at that time. I had a hunch I could stop by a Goodwill Store or a Salvation Army Thrift Store and run across an old CD player for a few bucks.

While in one of the stores, great sixties music was being played. My music era is the 1970s but I truly despise most seventies music. I much prefer 1960s or 1980s music.

So while I browsed through the glassware and books and eventually, electronics, I was certainly enjoying the music.

I heard “Crimson and Clover” and “Kind of a Drag” and “Make me your Baby” and “I’m a Believer”. Then, I heard an oldie that really took me back. It was Nancy Sinatra’s oh, so huge hit, “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” I specifically remember that my little sister, Tammy, loved this song. She was very young, probably three or four years old at the time the song was popular.

I liked the song, too, it was catchy and clever and I so very much wanted a pair of tall, white pleather boots. Though the mini skirt associated with it would never have flown with Mama.

But back to the thrift store. I heard the song and really listened to the lyrics. I love the use of words that aren’t real words but fit perfectly. Here are a few favorite lines:

You keep lyin’ when you oughta be truthin’
You keep losing when you oughta not bet
You keep samin’ when you oughta be a’changin’
What’s right is right but you ain’t been right yet

These boots are made for walkin’
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

That’s right, sing it, Nancy. I nearly ditched the CD player search and headed to the women’s shoe racks to look for boots.

The next song, however, brought me back to reality, “You can’t hurry love”. While that may be true, I knew I did need to hurry and find the CD player, get myself home with it and figure out what to make for dinner.

Are you ready, boots? Start walkin’.


Hey Joe!

It is National Joe Day. Go figure.

I am not sure if “Joe” day refers to a name or refers to coffee – – as in ‘cup of joe’. Either way, Joe is a good day.

My father was named Joe (Joseph). My oldest brother is named Joe (Joseph, always Jody growing up). My middle son’s middle name is Joseph. A cousin is named Joe (Joe Wayne). I know three other Joe’s, non-family. Every Joe I have known is a good guy. And since that is true, I will write about Joe Day.

I actually always wished my mama had named me Josephine after my dad, and then shortened it to Joey. But since my oldest brother took the name, I got stuck with Rebecca. Oy vey.

When the word ‘joe’ refers to coffee, I really love the word.

I have fond memories of awakening in my upstairs bedroom and hearing my parents talking softly in the kitchen below. I could smell coffee and I could hear my dad stirring his cup of coffee. He always added cream and sugar and had a distinct quick-clicking stir method; the metal spoon against the glass cup. My parents did not use mugs. I tend to think that is a more recent trend, perhaps within the last 15-20 years.

My parents used glass cups and saucers, never just a cup, always a saucer, too. I have a vivid picture of my dad tilting the saucer up to sip after a bit had overflowed the cup…catching every drop. Ah, a man after my own heart. Or, a girl after her dad’s heart. Either way, it’s in the genes.

I did not learn to love coffee until I started working early mornings at The Jewish Hospital. Everyone drank coffee. I still remember my boss loving the cream more than the coffee. He would occasionally ask me to grab him a cup and would say “Just add a little coffee to my cream.”

When I first began to intake the liquid gold, I used cream and sugar. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. In the last 10 years I have dropped the sugar but kept the cream. The goal with cream is ‘color’. I prefer half & half but if it is not available, I will use milk. Again, it’s not so much about the taste as it is the look.

I once told someone that I always color the coffee to match my dad’s eyes. He had beautiful warm, hazelly eyes that, truly, resembled the color of coffee with cream.

Now that I have three grown sons and a lovely daughter-in-law, one of my favorite things is to sit and chat with them over (multiple) cups of steaming coffee. We are making new family coffee memories.

So on this day, connect with someone named Joe; give him (or her) a call or a hug or buy that Joe a cup of joe.

It’s just a day. It if helps make you or the Joe in your life feel a bit special, then just do it. In aging, you realize how important those remembrances really are. I once read this quote, author unknown:

Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.