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Posts Tagged ‘women’

My life has been a melange of up ups, peppered with some serious down downs. Having survived the down downs, and finding myself still on my feet, I try to live my life by the mantra “don’t sweat the small stuff”. By small stuff, I mean those significant little irritations in life we humans blow up into unreasonable proportions, then chew on like a bad cut of meat tainting our days with worry and anxiety. These time wasters, zap our energy and lower our ability to find the real joy most of us are searching for.

Yesterday, was a good example of this in my world. I went to Costco with a dear friend. I have let my membership lapse at Costco for several reasons, 1) I don’t need a six pound block of Parmesan, and 2) even though their gas is the cheapest in the area, by the time I drive the forty five minutes and take up place number 25 in line at the pumps, it’s really not worth the effort. There you go. That being said, most of my friends DO have memberships and are kind enough to let me tag along when they visit the store. Yay.

At any rate, I had far more on my shopping list then my friend did, so her list was satisfied by the time we reached the produce section. After that, I filled the cart and she browsed through the shelves. Even though food prices have gone through the roof recently, the amount of people in the store didn’t seem to reflect the uptick. Wading through the humanity in the aisles, at one point I said over my shoulder I was going to go pick up some paper goods. I had the cart, so made my way to the back of the store and piled on what I needed. As of this writing, I’m happy to note I have enough toilet paper to see me through 2030 no sweat. Once I’d satisfied that part of my list, I made my way back to the aisle I had left my friend in, only to find her missing. I went up and down the surrounding aisles without seeing a familiar face. Thankfully, we are all connected at the hip these days, so I retrieved my cell phone from my handbag and texted “where are you?” to which she responded “in the front”. ????? The front of the store, the front of the aisle?? Determining she was up by the registers, I pushed my way through the throng of shoppers and found her waiting for me. Yay. Uh-oh, she looked upset. She explained she had not heard me say I was making a side trip. Oh. I apologized, not sure why, but that is a behavior we women are trained to do from birth. This is something I am seriously working on. A therapist once told me on a visit I made back in my thirties, if there was a third world war I would figure out a way to take responsibility for starting it. Not anymore.

So, I noticed there was still a bit of a chill in the air as we checked our items through the checkout line. This created a visceral reaction in me, because my mother, God love her, had a way of doing this same behavior if upset. She wouldn’t come out and say, “you didn’t put the dishes away like I asked you to”, if she was mad about it. Instead, she would exude an air of icy indifference that would cause you to have to de-ice your nostrils before breathing in the air around her. The irritation traveled with us to the car and to some level remained lightly hovering in the air the rest of the day. I wanted to say, “was this worth it? I got lost in the store and you couldn’t find me for fifteen minutes. Now you are highly irritated which has oozed over onto my playing field and managed to permeate every moment of what should have been a fun and productive outing between two good friends.” I should have, but I did not. “Don’t muddy the waters”, is another lesson I learned well, I am currently trying to unravel. My stepfather used to have a rather tasteless expression he used when someone accidentally broke wind. “Better an empty house than a rotten tenant.” Oddly enough, I believe this applies to our emotional well being as well. What we hold in tends to build up inside of us and begin seeping out our pores or showing up in unhealthy ways in our behaviors. I have decided I will talk to my friend, because I love her, over our next lunch and clear the air. If it does not clear the air, at least the rotten tenant will have to find a new place to reside.

Communication seems to be something we have difficulty with as human beings. In my mid-thirties I was working for a company very pro-active in team building and promoting good communication among it’s employees. To this end, each of us was asked to participate in a communication seminar. The seminar was held in a local hotel, and was three full day sessions. The group I was in, included about thirty of my co-workers. It was a mixed group, men and women, of all ages and types. Of all the classes I have taken of this genre, this was definitely the most illuminating. There were two instructors, one man and one woman. They took us through a lot of different communication scenarios and taught us skills to better handle communicating with the people we work with as well as those populating our personal lives. Often, I have pulled these tools out of my tool box over the years and put them to good use. First, they put us on camera. We were asked to speak for three minutes on the subject of our choice. Easy peasey one might think. Not so fast. When the lens points in your face and you are asked to speak all your little body tics, and betrayals of uncomfortability rise to the surface like a poached egg floating in boiling water. Fear of public speaking is right up there the top of the list of things people most fear. Not bad enough they made us record ourselves, they then played the tapes back on a full screen and we were critiqued by our group on our social behaviors. Ouch. I’m a mover, apparently. This does not surprise me on any level. As I’ve said my friends call me “hummingbird” or “tinkerbell” because I’m a flitter. Flit, flit, flit. Guess this would be considered “Type A” behavior. I’m not Italian, but every appendage I have at my disposal seems to go into action when I am trying to communicate my feelings. Interessante!!!!

Next they discussed body language and intonation of speech. Have you ever asked someone, “would you like to go to a movie”? They answer, “sure”, but the sure is said with such lack of enthusiasm and disinterest you wonder they bothered saying it at all. They said the right response, in the wrong way. Instead of just saying, “I’m not really in the mood”, they told you in another way a movie was not high on their to-do list for that day. Physical “tells” are often a way of expressing yourself. Arm folding, for example. I know I do this when someone is saying something to me I either feel is an attack on me, or I don’t like the tone of the person saying it. Eye rolling is another particularly annoying response when you are talking to someone, or when someone laughs at you when you are feeling particularly passionate about the subject you are speaking to.

In this day and age when everything feels so black and white with so little gray injected in the picture, we perhaps need to learn to communicate better with each other. Listening to what the other person is saying is paramount, rather than waiting for them to finish so you can interject your opinion or point out to them how wrong they are about theirs. Even if we don’t agree, perhaps finding a middle ground where we are comfortable to concede a few points of shared agreement, or at least acknowledge the other parties right to entertain an opinion not on your play list.

There is so much in the air at the moment with regards to women’s rights. I could write the definitive book on how passionately I feel about this subject right here and now and still have so many words left over to express. This is a heated “hot button” topic where people seem to be firmly entrenched in one side or the other with little room for discussion on either side. I am female, which would seem to make it clear where I stand, you would think. However, that is not true in the least. Women stand firmly on both sides of the fence. I believe intrinsically we are all entitled to the right to decide what we do with our own bodies. There is so little privacy left any more in the world. Our personal lives are blasted across social media pages for everyone to see, admire, or pick apart. What we eat, who we associate with, pictures of family vacations, and milestones go up faster than high rise condos in Miami. If you want to know something about or locate somebody, there are sites at the touch of a fingertip ready and willing to offer up for a small fee every piece of available information on that person at their disposal. Our bodies, last I heard, still belonged to us as individuals. There are so many ways to go with this particular topic, so for now I will leave it at that and hold fast to what I believe in. One thing I do know, if men were the ones carrying these babies to term, we would be entertaining a far different line of dialogue, if any dialogue at all. I’m just saying.

So for now, I will simply say we need to begin using our ears as well as our mouths to keep the lines of communication flowing freely. I like to think most of us are doing the best we can to get by and suck some joy out of our lives. People are edgy, prices are high, and there are a lot of angst raising topics floating about in the air out there. Remember to love and forgive. Ask yourself how important something is to you before you go to the mat for it. Last I heard hugs and kisses are still free. Spend them copiously on those you love.

Happy Sunday.

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When Rick was alive he took care of all what I call the “guy things” in our relationship. Such things as car maintenance, insurance, even negotiating which cable channel was offering the best deal. He taught me to watch for offers on my credit cards so I could move any balances carrying interest rates over to my accounts offering 0 interest deals. Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve been on my own before, but no one had ever taken the time to actually teach me the little nuances of money management before Rick arrived on the scene.

Mother was always a hard worker and very responsible when it came to holding down a job. However, her penchant for shopping made it so sometimes more money went out the door than rolled back in. I would say going to the mall was Mother’s Achille’s heel. Many times I can remember her arriving home after a day of shopping and storing her ill gotten gains in my closet until my stepfather was safely out of the house. The new clothes, if noticed, would be sloughed off as “this old thing” or “don’t you remember I wore that to Patty’s barbecue last week”? My stepfather was a pretty good drinker, so for him to even notice a new blouse or an unfamiliar pair of pants it would have been through a pretty hazy lens.

The experts say traits can be passed down from one generation to the next, so it’s no surprise I also enjoy a good day in the stores. A successful day of shopping is something I sorely miss at the moment. With long lines, customer limits inside stores, and Covid bouncing about, it’s sort of taken the thrill of the chase out of it. The big difference between mother and I, is she enjoyed shopping at high end stores where I prefer a good bargain. Home Goods, for those of you familiar with the chain, is a home decor discount store with high end goods at discount prices. I could pitch a tent in their kitchen department and live out my days happily there.

Mother had personal shoppers at tony stores such as Nordstrom’s. These shoppers spent their days selecting clothing for their well-to-do clientele then alerting them of the goodies awaiting their review. Whew. I prefer the concept of getting four pairs of jeans for $125 rather than one pair of designer yoga pants for the same cash layout. Just the way I am.

Once I was in a dressing room at one of the more expensive stores. I asked, Sherri (with an “i”), the salesperson who had shown me to a dressing room, where the drinking fountain was. She peered over her glasses at me as if I’d asked if she minded if I relieved myself on the dressing room floor. In the snap of a pair of well manicured fingers, a glass of ice water with a lovely slice of lemon floating on top arrived on a tray at my dressing room. Thank you. There was another customer shopping in an adjacent dressing room. The woman was of large proportions, and having difficultly finding a flattering dress for an upcoming wedding. Not that I knew her in the least, we had met briefly at the large full-length mirror at the end of the bank of rooms, but she had shared her dilemma. Sherri with an I, however, was on the move. Several armloads of prospective outfits had come and gone as the woman continued her search. At one point, I emerged in something I was trying on to find both ladies standing in front of the mirror. The customer was wearing a large floral print dress so tight it looked like a sausage casing. The pink cabbage rose print was draped over a light pink lining and the whole thing was a visual disaster which did absolutely nothing for the woman beneath it. Sherri was flitting around this lady like a butterfly around milkweed. “Oh, this is soooooo you”!! Couldn’t believe it. She was actually encouraging this poor woman to be seen in public in this thing. The pattern reminded of something I’d seen on a couch in my piano teachers parlor. After Sherri left to gather accessories, the lady looked at me and raised one eyebrow. I shook my head quietly from left to right. Giving me a thumbs up she headed back to her fitting room and exited with nothing her hands the same time I did. Sorry, Sherri, I just couldn’t do it.

Used to be when you walked into Nordstroms, after adjusting your nasal passages to welcome the onslaught of designer fragrances and top drawer makeup, a pianist was seated at the baby grand for your listening pleasure. I read somewhere they put men’s clothes and shoes at the doors, because men are generally not the avid shoppers we women are so they want to catch them before they lose patience and walk out of the doors. Often I have seen the poor husbands seated on the padded benches outside of the dressing rooms holding their wives handbags in their laps. Waiting obediently for the next unveiling of whatever their other halves were trying on. Always felt a bit sorry for these men. From their shared expression of misery I would guess they had just about any other activity they’d rather have been engaged in than that.

When living in Boston a friend invited me to go shopping at a sale at Filene’s Basement. It was the lesser priced sister store of Filene’s, sort of an early relative of Nordtrom’s Loft. Having no idea what I had signed up for, I met her on a chilly morning outside the store’s doors at what seemed like the middle of the night. Apparently one had to get there early to get the bargains. OK. By the time the sun had fully assumed it’s position in the sky women, and some men were piling up behind us. When the store clerk finally opened the doors at the allotted time, it was a free for all. At first, I thought the headlines would simply read, “Small Blonde Woman Crushed to Death at Filene’s Holiday Sale”. Somehow, instead I was moved forward like a Tsunami pushing debris to the middle of the room, where the real mayhem ensued. People were grabbing clothes piled on tables, one lady literally tearing out an item I was holding in my hand. No dressing rooms were open for the event. With no place to change, shoppers were actually undressing the aisles to try on clothing, some perhap having less esprit libre, simply pulled a garment over the clothes they were wearing to check for sizing. It was insane. While attempting to find something I couldn’t live without to make the trip worthwhile, I noticed one woman eyeing the blouse I had on. “Forget about it lady. I just bought it and I’ll go to the mat for it”. Have to say it was an experience I have never forgotten.

My mom loved all clothing, but she carried on a particularly passionate love affair with her footware. Sorry, Mama, I’m letting this one out of the closet. Nothing of poor quality ever covered those lovely toes. Once I counted sixty-five boxes of shoes lined up across her closet shelf. When I accompanied her to her favorite shoe establishments she was always greeted by name, and the sales staff seemed to magically know what would be her pleasure in the selection they had available. Good going Mom.

When I was little, I believed my mother to be a fairy princess. I cannot remember her ever looking poorly pulled together or unkempt. Even when she had surgery she managed to look like she was receiving the Queen when I visited her in the recovery room.

Mother was a widow at twenty-seven. After about three years without companionship, she slowly slipped back into the dating pool. Being a lovely young woman from a prominent family, her dance card was nearly always full. When dressing for a date or a function her room would be a hub of activity. Discarded dresses would be strewn across the bed, and mother would be flitting about smelling seductively of dusting powder and Narcisse N’oir, her scent of choice. A small stool was made available to me at such times. Mother would be seated at her vanity getting ready to go out, or “putting her face on”, as she liked to say. Fascinated, I would sit and watch as she pulled the sterling silver brush through her long brown hair catching it up with a clip or letting it cascade down her back. I would mimic the way she pursed her lips in just her way to apply color to her lips. Often, when I could get away with it, after she went out I would sneak in her closet and stand on the footstool leaning against the side wall. Slipping a pair of heels out of one of the boxes, I would waddle awkwardly around her bedroom stopping at her dresser to dab a little perfume behind one ear as I’d so often seen my mother do. A shawl thrown across one shoulder, I would pretend to be off to the ball at the castle to dance the night away with the prince.

Funny how I can remember those times as clearly now as if I was pulling my chubby legs up to perch on top of my little stool right this moment. I’ve never thought of it before, but though she didn’t always provide guidance when it came to the practical side of life (truth was women weren’t supposed to bother their pretty heads with all that back in her day), in a way she was teaching me to be a woman. I have to say that’s something she’s always excelled at.

Black Friday and other major holiday shopping days are on the calendar for the on-line shopper to pounce on some great mark down items to fill their holiday lists. I’m looking forward to that myself although I make it a habit not to go into debt for Christmas anymore. Instead I do what I can afford and try to make memories with my family and enjoy a delicious meal. Don’t know how this year is going to look when it comes to family gatherings. Like everything else in 2020 I’m sure it will be one for the record books.

We women are powerful beings, often discounted because of our size or physical prowess. Every day I am thankful to have had pink blankets on my layette and wouldn’t trade my gender for an instant. In this upcoming election I believe women will be the ones carrying the baton over the finish line. Makes me proud to be counted among them. Thankful too, if I might pause for a moment, that my mama is still here with me every day that I have her. Even with the dementia creeping across her thoughts she still notices if I have a spot on my pants or a button missing on my blouse, or God forbid I’m wearing bad shoes. Some things never change. I hope she lives to be 115 and never misses a step with those lovely feet.

Vote ladies, vote everyone. I believe this election will be pivotal in our history and it is important we are all a part of it.

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I feel extremely blessed to have some really strong and excellent women friends in my life.  Truly, they are the glue that keeps the picture in the frame for me.  We speak the same language, in my opinion most of them have spines that can support twice their body weight, and are there when my back needs cover no matter what the issues in the past or those that could arise in the future. They’re my friends.

I saw Chaz Bono interviewed on a talk show the other day discussing his transition from a female to a male body.  This is pertinent, why, you’re asking?  Well, he said that since assuming his male persona and the hormones and accessories congruent with the change, he can’t sit in groups of women as he used to and listen to them talk amongst each other because it drives him straight up the proverbial wall.  Apparently, this was something he did as his female self quite comfortably and enjoyed.  I just found that so interesting.  My other half is always questioning what I find to talk to with my friends that I just spoke to maybe three days prior.  There’s no answer that would make sense to him, just that we always seem to have something to say to each other, and are natural communicators.

Several weeks ago I was talking to a dear friend of mine who moved from California about ten years ago and now resides in a small town in the irrepressibly beautiful state of Oregon.  Sal and I met at a common workplace back in the early 1980’s and although losing sight of one another along the trail from time to time since then have managed to reconnect at several junctures and now remain in contact regularly despite the miles between us.

When we met, I was in the middle of my second marriage, and she was in between her first and her second.  Both of us enjoy a good laugh, or more than one, she had two boys about the same age as my son and daughter and being within a few years in age ourselves with a lot of common interests just naturally gravitated towards one another.  At the time she took a position at the company I was working for, she had just moved back to the Bay Area from Bear Valley, California.  Bear Valley is a beautiful resort area in the central Sierra Nevada Mountain range, mainly touted as a winter sports paradise but offering ample outdoor activities during the warmer summer months as well, including white water rafting, canoeing, hiking, etc. If you like the outdoors, it’s just the place to find yourself.

Three years before our paths crossed, Sal found herself divorced with two elementary aged sons, ten years of stay at home mom experience to fatten her resume and having no idea where to proceed from the spot where she was standing on.  Coming across an ad in the local paper regarding a deli for sale in Bear Valley, and having absolutely no restaurant experience other than sitting at a table and ordering a meal, she called the realtor, piled the boys in the car, drove to Bear Valley, and signed the deal on the deli as well as a condo close by.  Whoa.

It was a small deli located inside the lodge building itself which she dubbed “The Pot Belly Deli”.  Deciding to concentrate on breakfast and lunch exclusively and with one employee to support her, she set about getting the small restaurant ready to open and figuring out what to do with it when it did. Now, I’ve owned a restaurant, albeit on a larger scale, but no matter what size, unless you’re selling Coney Island dogs under a umbrella, it can be daunting endeavor, most possibly even then.  It’s not like cooking in your home.  You have to learn how to order one item that, if left over, can be incorporated into another dish. Waste is money, and money wasted means loss to the business.

Somehow Sally rolled up her sleeves and just dug in.  The small restaurant was equipped with the minimum amount of equipment necessary to make this happen.   Her sunny disposition, intelligence, and, of course, you can’t forget a large dollop of desperation as she’d sunk her savings into the deli, she went to work, allowing no room in her thoughts for failure.  After many hits and a few misses she developed a steady clientele.  The food was simple but good with unique sandwiches and crunchy cole slaw at lunch, and the menu manageable for her small staff.  She made a living, supported her boys, and had room for a treat or two along the way.

After three years of running it successfully and living in the safe bosom of the mountains she decided it was time to come back down to the nether regions and get the boys in school and herself back into the work force, and eventually complete her degree. For me that was a hugely brave thing to take on by yourself with no experience, no familiarity with the area, and no friends for support.  It’s so easy to lean back on the familiar and not dip your toe into uncharted water, but in the end I think less rewarding, than if you stick your toe in and take a chance on what wonderous things you might discover floating below the surface.

Ruts, I find, are easy to fall into to, but far more difficult to climb up out of.  Cooking at times can become routine, but if you truly have a passion for it and immerse yourself in the smells, colors, tastes, and doing of it, it’s miraculous how many creative and different ways you can find to prepare a catfish fillet or a chicken breast.  It’s just fun, at least for me, and if your attempt falls short of the mark, there’s always an artery clogging pizza just a phone call away.

Have  great day!

Catfish Wraps with Crunchy Cole Slaw

Cole Slaw

2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup milk
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp. white vinegar
5 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/4 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 1/4 cups red cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup red onion, chopped

Combine all cole slaw ingredients except cabbage and red onion in mixing bowl and whisk until well blended. Refrigerate until one hour prior to eating. Combine cabbages and red onion until well mixed. (I add the dressing in batches and if I have too much, refrigerate the rest for up to two weeks.) Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Wraps

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
1/4 cup yellow mustard
4 6 oz. catfish fillets
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
4 9″ flour tortillas (use wheat or white as you prefer)

Garnishes

sliced English cucumbers
Lemon slices
Sliced avocado
Sour cream

Combine the first eight ingredients in a shallow pie pan. Put mustard in another shallow pie pan. Using basting brush lightly baste fillets on both sides with mustard. Dredge in flour mixture.

In med. skillet heat oil over med-high heat. Add catfish and cook 5 mins. on each side or until fish flakes easily. Remove from skillet to warmed plate.

Either wrap tortillas in tin foil and place on plate over boiling water or heat according to directions on the package until warm. Cut each fillet into four sections. Arange four pieces on each tortilla and top with cole slaw. Serve with garnishes as desired. Yummy.  Serves 4.

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