Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My First Best Friend

Some of us have sisters, some of us have brothers, and usually a member of our immediate family is our first “best friend.” Although I loved my brothers, they don’t fall into this category.

I am going to guess three and
two here.
My first best friend is my cousin Robin. Robin is 13 months younger than I am, I don’t remember life without her. She had two older brothers, and her mother used to tell me that I was so cute (!) that she tried again. I am glad she did. Our mothers were sisters and that was an important element to this relationship. Children do not have the power to choose who they will visit, call on the telephone, or write letters to. Well, they can write letters, but someone else purchases the postage.

As a family, we spent a large quantity of time with my cousin’s family, both at my grandparents' and at their own home. I was shuffled off to their home at the age of two when my brother was born.

Grandma decided to take
us down to Olan Mills and
have our picture taken. I
think I was six and she was
five. I still have this dress
in the basement.
When our mothers talked on the phone, and remember, these were the days our parents had to pay for phone calls, our moms always saved some time for us to talk. We wrote letters, but the talking was important. We took “vacations” at each other’s house in the summer. Although now, I think the vacations were for our parents, it solidified our relationship.

I was three when they moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, which seemed like a long trip. I have such good memories of that house and neighborhood. We both took piano and dance and put on “shows.” I will never forget learning her dance recital piece, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.” It must have been hilarious, and to this day I find myself thinking those words when I send myself a CC email. These were the years during which we learned to ride our bikes and troll the neighborhood (not very far). These were also the times that we experimented with our talents as hairdressers. Her mother spanked me for cutting Robin’s bangs. Only as an adult, did I learn that she was as hysterical about what I could have done with those scissors, rather than be angry AT me.

We dressed up, played with our dolls and did all the things that little girls did. I was friends with her immediate neighbors too.

When Robin was seven and I was eight, her father was transferred to Columbus Ohio. This was MUCH more palatable! I remember when my aunt and uncle took their three children to see the house they would live in, somehow, I was with them that day, and I got to see it too. I guess I was the “fourth” kid.

We were older and we did have the run of the neighborhood within a few years. “Vacations” were plentiful—and that went both directions! I remember getting out of school earlier and going over to their house and Robin had another day of school—of course she was a year younger—but I was able to go to school with her! Imagine that happening today!

I cannot leave out the pool story. There was a neighborhood pool that we could walk to (or ride bikes). I drove by it recently, and it is still in operation. Robin fell and split her lip and I ran home, because I could run faster. I was crying and my aunt thought something was wrong with ME and I was sputtering out some nonsense.  A trip to the ER, a few stitches and all was well. Such is childhood.

The darker story is the time Robin and I were hiking in the woods and came upon a man urinating—I think. He asked us what we thought and I was truly not impressed. Robin had more sense than I did to get our little selves home. Our mothers were hysterical and this involved a visit from the local policeman. I still didn't get the importance of it. I suppose Robin and I are of the % of girls who have been sexually “abused” because we saw something we shouldn't have, but I have never considered it abuse in any way. It was stupid; but it could have been more dangerous.

Robin and I with our grandmother. I was in the
8th grade.
These were the years we matured. Robin told her older cousin about sex. (UGH! Are you KIDDING me?) We learned to drive on these roads and our social circle grew. This wasn't just about her neighborhood; she visited me too. Our families had pool memberships and we knew each other’s friends. When my grandmother “babysat” us in my hometown, we had a slumber party and about five of us ran the neighborhood long past midnight.

I don’t know how we survived!

My wedding. November 1977
We were each other’s maids (or matron, as the case would be) of honor in our weddings—just as our mothers had been. I remember the ambivalent feelings that I had as we went to bed in her room the night before her wedding. Things would never be the same with us. She would have a new "best friend." However, after college I moved to Columbus to live in the apartment above her and her husband’s house. That was a great year!

My dad had a heart attack, and I moved home and that is when I met my husband. When we decided to get married, I called Robin. My husband-to-be says to me, “You didn't even ask her to be your matron of honor!” It was always understood.

She had the first baby. I never had the intense desire to be a mother until I held that baby. Oh, I liked kids, and babysat everyone in my church, but I didn't see myself as a mother. Until he came along. Four years later I had my first, and 17 months after I had my daughter, she had twin girls! Always one upping me…….
As "mature" adults.

Our children’s lives have not been like our childhoods were because we both had to work. There were no “vacations.” Maybe a spendover or two but not full weeks.

As we mature, our lives are different. She still works, I don’t. I've had cancer and we both have something going on about all the time health-wise. We are both doting grandmothers, and she will outnumber me there too. She has six to my two. I will never catch up!

We have “cousin’s night out” at a restaurant halfway between us, and we get to see pictures on Facebook. My mother and her father are still living so we have responsibilities with them. I know she’s but a phone call away—or a text.

No matter what, blood IS thicker than water.

Until we “connect” again……




Friday, January 23, 2015

I'm Not In This For The Money!

In the interest of following my own advice, one of the main themes of “The Thrifty Tabloid,” it is time to simplify my life by combining my blogs. There are several reasons for doing this. Recently, I read a book about blogging as a “job.” Do you realize that some bloggers make over $100,000 a year?

This is not me. I went into this to talk about my 40th high school class reunion and disseminate information through the blog. I found that I enjoyed writing and also found topics to write about, so I continued the endeavor. It was never about money or numbers, it was just my enjoyment and hopefully entertained others a little bit.

Whether it’s the sharing of information, or just plain my humble opinion about something, I have loved this. However, trying to keep two blogs going, was counterproductive to the new, simple, retired life I was living. This is not my job and I have no intent for it to be. Professional writers have deadlines, and I don’t!

One of my main themes is scaling down, getting rid of some things, and just purging what we do not need. This certainly does not mean I will never buy anything new again—I say as I embark on purchasing a collection of nativity scene pieces. It just means that I will do it with PURPOSE and thought, not just buy.

My China--Noritake "Reverie" Long dropped.
Maybe available on eBay.
A “suggestion” that is always made in the many “purging” articles is getting rid of china that we never use. Friends, I just can’t do that! I picked out my china before I picked out my husband. My aunt and I were walking through Lazarus in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and I looked at it and said, “Petie, this is it!” I have never looked at anyone else’s china with envy. I need to use it more, but I have never wanted anything else.

At this stage of my life, I have begun to think about all the things that I have accumulated over the years. My mother is still living, but she is not the holder of all things antique in the family. I have most everything left of my father’s family, and there are others who have some of mother’s family history, so I am not carrying that whole weight. Most of the “antique” type of furniture is from my husband’s family, and I love it more than he does.

I have personally executed three estates. Each one was different and each had a story to tell. Because I am a loving mother, I want to make this process as easy as possible for my two children. So I have determined to declutter and live minimalistically. I will keep the things that I love as long as I live, but I know to my kids they are just stuff. My grandmother’s crystal will mean nothing to them.

I am certainly not the best blogger out there—and there are thousands—and I try to stick to my mission, so that I will be what I am. But that doesn't mean there aren't some awesome writers out there. Some are linked to my page—in the future I plan to work on that.

My mission is to write about relationships, and issues of interest to “people of a certain age.” I am 61, so we are talking about Baby Boomer subjects, retirement, and some special issues such as “My Fitness Journey,” “My Cancer Journey” and other things of that nature. The links are on the right side of the page. This is where you will now find “The Thrifty Tabloid.”

What I find most interesting is that I have younger readers that tell me they learn something too. There are a couple of stories that I would like to write, but I don’t have permission to do so yet. I also have asked some people to guest write, but they have not agreed yet. There are many possibilities.

I follow Jeff Becker, who has written several books, which I am sure he would like to sell us, but if you follow www.becomingminimalist.com, you will get it all eventually. Fair warning—he’s not about the doing, he’s about the why we are doing. He has us thinking about every dimension of our lives.

Another blogger that I think is magnificent is Ann Voscamp, who is on Facebook, and has a blog called www.aholyexperience.com. I make no bones about this. I am a Christian, and she is a Christian, and the depth of which she writes is remarkable. I really am not going to say anymore. If you are a Christian believer, check it out. You will not regret it.

One of the things that I do is read. I read books, the Bible, and interesting articles that “cross my desk.”  These come from Facebook and Twitter and finding links to really interesting articles. My husband and I share articles that we find. It is great to have the time to do this.

Jerry has learned to do crossword puzzles on his Android tablet. I sit three feet away from him and play Trivia Crack. On any given evening, we are shooting information at each other. We are easily entertained! Sometimes this leads to looking up something, and I run across another informative article.

Until we “connect” again……





Friday, January 16, 2015

Making Life Easier and Combining my Blogs!

I have decided to combine my two blogs into one. Connection Intersection is the main title, but The Thrifty Tabloid becomes a “topic” within the main blog itself. I believe this will make life much easier for me. It’s time for the Reunion Committee to start back up again, and I know there will be entries about my 45th high school class reunion.

I will still look for bargains and share anything I can. I am still all about “living simply” for its own sake, and I share some of that with my readers.

Blogspot made this incredibly easy to do, with a couple of clicks here and there. I am going to have to work on my Pinterest posts, as they will go “nowhere.” I also will shut down my Facebook page for The Thrifty Tabloid.

Connecting with people is still the same focus in all things. That is my first inspiration—and while I don’t want to delete all the entries for The Thrifty Tabloid, it is easy enough to find. On the right side of the page of the blog, you will find “My Different Topics” and it’s all there, along with every other topic I have developed. The comments did not transfer over, and I start over with statistics (which has never been a big deal for me), but the content is there.

Thrifty Tabloid evolved as I learned to live on less when I decided to quit work due to my health concerns. I will still share what I learn, but there has been a decline in content. I didn't want to delete it and yet I didn't want to maintain it as such.

I hope you, my readers, will continue to follow my writing. I am not in this for the money. I just want to share ideas, and be shared with, at this season of my life. Overall, it’s a good one!

Until we “connect” again……..

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

When I Said No, and then Yes.

Christmas is over and I've been online browsing for something that I have wanted for a very long time. Pre-kids, but planning for children, I bought a wooden nativity set that children could touch and handle. It has served us well and is still in good shape for my grandchildren.

However, I am seduced by good art and I have been looking at some pricey, artistic nativity sets—hoping to find a sale after Christmas. I knew what I wanted—Fontanini by Roman. They are art and they are not cheap. But at this time of the year there is 21% off. The set I wanted would price down to $260 before taxes (shipping free, of course). These are pieces that can be added to, but that included the Holy Family, Wise Men, a Shepherd (one) and the Angel. I figure more shepherds and animals can be added later.

I am getting a refund later in the year. It has something to do with a class action suit against the maker of my car, claiming it would get more mileage than it does. It is $257 and some odd cents.

I looked at this set for two days and tried to persuade myself that this was something I wanted, for no other reason that it was religious and art, both of which are important to me. Eventually I just said no. I can’t do this. I don’t have the resources. (This would be a personal purchase, so using household money is out of the question). To be honest, I had been looking at the 12” set, and that was way out of my world. This is a 7 ½” set.

Then I got to thinking. This quality of this product is awesome, awesome, awesome, as I remember from my years working in a Christian book and gift store. So, what is really important? The Holy Family is what it’s really all about. Do I need kings and an angel? As it turned out, the price of the Holy Family was just UNDER the 21% discount, so what would I add? We KNOW there was a donkey, because Mary rode one. Everything else is conjecture—cows in the Middle East (?), lambs maybe but only with shepherds.

With getting the basics, it opens a door for future gift-giving. My family never knows what to get me. I send them links to something I need. I think in a few years, I will have my shepherds, kings and angel.

So I do my figuring and with discount, these items come to $128. Now we’re talking! Merry Christmas to me. I order them.

There are limits. Some things are definitely NO; and some things are—well, let’s just see about this. I know “I’m worth it” and I know these will be heirlooms, but they are not necessary.

Sometimes, necessary is defined differently. 

Our spiritual, mental and emotional needs are as important as the physical needs.

P.S. I did check Amazon. The prices were the same with the discount. There is a fabulous resurrection series. Oh my……


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Extrovert or Introvert?

Anyone reading this who has ever known me would say that I was/am a textbook extrovert. I am married to a textbook introvert. Once I understood the difference, many things fell into place and I forgave him for many attitudes that I did not understand.

Keeping this simple—you can Google this—the extrovert is energized by people and the introvert is worn out by them. The introvert MUST have time to recharge. This does NOT mean the introvert is shy, but he or she must have time to refuel. If they are parents of small children, their partner must understand this and help (relieve) them.

I have always been a people person. Everything I did professionally involved people. I worked in customer service in three banks, and was a church secretary in three churches—talk about customer service! Working in an art museum was much like a church, I just didn't have the weekly bulletin. A social worker, well that speaks for itself.

I had two children who were in a thousand things and I went to them. I met other parents, formed friendships and had them into our home. I have worked on five class reunions and that involved many, many interactions. I have always been active in church.

People, people, people.

On the other hand, I recognized when my husband needed recharging. While he was “the BOMB” as a host at his daughter’s wedding, and later at his son’s wedding, I figured he wouldn't talk to me for three days. Just recharging, that’s all. Nothing personal. Actually, after our son’s wedding, he was fine.

He is a very gracious man; but I will say this—he keeps me grounded. I would choose to be in everything.

That is, until I retired.

I have changed. While I still love people, I do not have to be with them ALL THE TIME. I love and need my alone time, or my time with just me and my husband. I love my exercise class pals, my church choir mates and my Bible study gals. Once in a while, I have two things going on in one day, but rarely. I just wear out and need to refuel.

Soon, my class reunion committee will regroup. They are a bunch of fine people and we may have newcomers—seems like we always do. That’s a good thing, because none of us knows what’s going to happen in the next five years.

I really do like all these folks—so how did I turn into an introvert?

Doing all of this after my work day has worn me out. Forty years of being everything to everyone has just worn.me.out.

My world on this day.
Now, I enjoy my time alone at home as much as lunch with my friends. I write this on a quiet winter afternoon. There is new snow out my window and a sense of peace. I don’t even have any music on right now and I love music. Quiet is good. I find that I actually LIKE my husband—if you had asked me about that before retirement, I wasn't so sure about it. We respect each other’s needs for activity and quiet. Sometimes—well MOST times—we don’t do things together, but we respect each other’s need to do whatever it is.

Maybe I just need that “recharging” because I am older. When I think of all the things I did at certain times, it wears me out just to think about it! Period. Maybe I am just half-and-half, depending on the day.

Make no mistake about it, when I have to do the people thing, I gird my loins and just do it. I prefer smaller groups and I HATE speaking in public—but I still get what needs to be done done.

So I don’t know whether this is a conversion, or just a gradual change. Or just getting old. (I am not cranky, just the opposite). But, I am OK with it.




Saturday, January 3, 2015

Minimalist Thinking

It doesn't take long reading this blog to conclude that I believe simple living and saving money do go hand in hand. Keeping our belongings as simple as we possibly can means that we don’t have to replace as much or consume as much. 

Making any belonging do double-duty is a virtue. Think kitchen gadgets. Many times I think our grandmothers had a better idea by making do on a lot less stuff! Yet when I do have to replace something, I want to buy quality.

I read Josh Becker regularly and he is excellent. His ideas about simplicity go well beyond the things we own to the attitudes we have about what we own. I highly recommend reading him, following him by email and thinking about the things he says.

Here is his website. Bookmark it. www.becomingminimalist.com.

Minimalist thinking will change your life.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Giving

This entry may seem oddly placed as I write it on New Year’s Day and the subject is “giving.” After all, yesterday was the last day to give in order to get a tax deduction for the gift.

But, no surprise to my readers, I am not talking about giving to get ANYTHING in return or any benefit whatsoever (i.e. tax deductions). Make no mistake about it, I am in favor of any tax deduction that I am entitled to, but that is not the discussion of the day.

As we look forward to a New Year, what can we do for others? One of the reasons we practice thrift in general is to have the resources to be able to give. So, we pause and give some thought as to how we are going to do that?

I have always been a proponent of keeping it local. Working as a social worker in a town where about 25% of the population is at or below poverty level will do that to you. Having said that, I am not opposed to national organizations. I just want to know a little something about them.

For many years, the kids and I packed the shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse. It was an opportunity for them to learn about the world and how good we have it in the United States. It was NOT sacrificial giving. We picked up little things as we went along in the year. I happily wrote the checks for shipment of our boxes. It was a teaching moment for the children.

It’s a good thing that I don’t have much money, because I would probably give it to everyone. I am touched by children and pets on TV. I want to thank the veterans for their service. I believe in the work disaster-relief organizations do. So how do we choose?

There is a difference between writing a check and getting involved. Sometimes all we can do is write a check because of geographical separation, trusting people on the other end to do the grunt work. Maybe they can’t afford to write the checks! And that’s OK too. When we think of giving, usually there are several steps between the giver and the recipient. Most of those steps are volunteer also.

Having worked in several non-profits, I do not begrudge the daily worker their earned income. It is almost ALWAYS smaller than the for-profit world. You could look at much of their work as “volunteer,” simply by earning far less than they could someplace else.

So, what “moves” us to donate or spend our time?

  • The awareness of poverty around us and how little some people have. However, and I would caution this; there are many in poverty that sign up for everything in the community, and end up with more than I have at MY house—which would be fine if they had decent storage, but that is not usually the case. However, and this is something we don’t normally think about—even if the person in poverty gets more than they need or possibly could use, this gives THEM an opportunity to share with others! That’s kind of a trickle-down effect, but let’s not overlook it. It gives people in poverty a good feeling to give. It’s a good thing.
  • The causes we believe in. Whether it’s donating to the Crisis Pregnancy Center or Public Television, and everything else, we tend to “find” resources for them. Volunteering is a resource. I worked the phones one year for the MS telethon. I was young and so nervous, but that’s something I could do now.
  • The organizations we believe in. I worked for an art museum, three churches and a senior center. There are no particular causes in these—people love art, they love their church, and they appreciate the events at the senior center. Again, volunteering is essential to the survival of these organizations. Although this is dying out, mass mailings are a task that anyone can help with. There may be forms of “marketing” that a person can help with. I specifically think of the booths the senior center had at the festivals. These experiences are giving, but they also are getting.
  • Then there are causes or situations that “move” us. This year I donated to ALS in honor of a (living) friend. I took my granddaughter so she would be exposed to a seriously ill person. She was awesome. This person is a grandfather of 10 so has experienced the gambit of children. Many times I have donated to Hospice (or the American Cancer Society or the Heart Association) in memory of loved ones. I was raised in a family that had a family floral business, my second cousin still runs it. She wants you to give flowers. However, I would rather give flowers to the living, and donate to appropriate organizations in memory.

When we are concerned about our own finances, we have to think about what we want to give or donate time to. We are not truly in poverty, but we can’t do everything either. And, there are only 24 hours in each day, and we have other things we must do to maintain our lives.

I think passion moves us. I also think what we can “see” moves us. Then there is something close to our hearts because it involves a loved one. Each one of us is different and are moved by different things at different times in our lives.

I have to confess that I have never been involved in a cross-cultural mission experience and neither have my children, because my husband and I very strongly believed you should not ask friends and relatives to support it. If you can afford to do it, you do it, if not, you don’t. When we went to the orientation of our daughter’s church-related university, they talked about mission trips, and when I asked this question, everyone looked at me like I had two heads. But, this is something we believe. We have donated to some mission trips, but we were “moved.” With nine nieces and nephews, twenty-five grand-nieces and nephews, and eight cousins and their children and grandchildren—I quit counting—we simply can’t do it.

That doesn't mean I don’t donate to mission through my church. This I have done all my life. Most recently, the church I am a member of left their denomination and had to buy the church property. A collection was taken up for this, and I gave sacrificially, because I believed in what they were doing.

These are just some thoughts I have about giving today. I am sure that when I finish this blog entry, I will think of something else. The bottom line is GIVE; your time, your money, your physical support. I may not be rich, but I am blessed. I want to bless others.