Chick stuff, Holiday Madness

Flower Grinch

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I may have come from the land of misfit toys but, full disclosure, I’m not the biggest fan girl of flowers. Shocker – and on Valentine’s Day, too. But, I have no intention of turning in my woman card. I’m still a warm and fuzzy Libra girl who just isn’t a total sucker for a floral bouquet. Working in my parents’ florist shop might have something to do with my blasé attitude toward blooms. Nothing says bursting the floral mystique more than frantic holidays of cranky last minute orders, stripping thorns and using enough floral tape to giftwrap the entire planet.

Admittedly, flowers are pretty, gorgeous even, but well, they die. Ooops. Shakespeare once asked “Is it better to love and lose than never love at all?” Despite that great advice, the concept of ‘perishable’ never held a lot of appeal – especially in these last 3 years. Still flowers can make your day and have made many of mine, but for reasons other than their horticultural wonder.

“At my age, flowers scare me.” George Burns

The mushy artist in me has been super appreciative of flowers that came to my door looking utterly gorgeous, especially the exotic, wildly lush ones. Some have been flashy, in eye-popping colors and some sailed in, softly hued and gentle as fairy dreams. Humans are wired to love flowers simply because they are beautiful. In fact, when we think of the word beautiful, one of the first things that comes to mind IS a flower. Continue reading “Flower Grinch”

Copy that.

Super Bowl Madness? meh

No hot chicken wings. No nachos. No hair-on-fire chili grace my house this  weekend. Super Bowl Sunday has always been a non-starter. I do admit to some cheese, but then there’s ALWAYS cheese. I don’t own one piece of licensed sports apparel and am completely guilt-free. The only yelling at the TV in my house are knee-jerk reactions to political reporting (which pretty much happens every day.) As both the most un-athletic fan in any room and a self-described renegade, the whole concept of Super Bowl excites me as much as a Zombie Apocalypse. The hallowed sports day happens – just not here.

Super Bowl Sunday has become one of America’s biggest unofficial holidays. For weeks before the big game, commercials remind us to stock up for the event. Some even throw in a few ads that urge us to buy a spanking new flat-screen to watch the revered game on – just for good measure. You can’t be too over-the-top on Super Bowl. To non-football fans, though, it’s just lame.

The hallowed day is as is as traditional as Easter Egg hunts but with play by play narration. Did you know Super Bowl Sunday, overflowing with beer and obscene amounts of snacks, is second in consumption only after Thanksgiving? Uh huh.

With my lack of Super Bowl enthusiasm, I can’t believe I’ve ever gotten a single invite to those soirees, but yes, I do and I feel more than a little guilty about it. Who really wants a pigskin pal whose mind wonders if a date with my trusty Waterpik would sound reasonable? Continue reading “Super Bowl Madness? meh”

View from the Shoe

The Year That Was

2018 is in the rear view mirror —  and I’m really not sorry to see that crazy year go. You? From historic wildfires and a royal wedding to constantly growing political scandals, 2018 was a doozy. Walls and bans were touted, homegrown gun deaths showed no constraint and tropical hurricanes raged. In stark contrast, people marched worldwide in never before seen numbers and the long overdue awareness of sexual harassment continued to fuel the #MeToo movement. The rich have gotten richer while the poor get still poorer.

Yup, 2018 was a whopper – and not always in a good way.

Even in the worst of times, (and this year ranks in the top ten) we can grow, be humbled and learn. Looking back, I need to unwrap and process a few things myself before I throw the door wide open on the new one. While I’ll still write 2018 on checks for a few months, this week my oh-so beautiful Christmas tree still stubbornly stands. But, if my pharmacy’s shelves, incredulously stuffed with hearts and candy boxes, are any indication, apparently Valentines Day is around the corner.  Knowing I’ll have to make peace with the old before I can welcome in the new, here are a few tiny reflections on the year that just left the building:

• Awareness. Until the last few years, I was literally a political sleepwalker. I never watched or read political thought, and my voting behavior consisted of little more than flipping all the switches on the family party of choice. It wasn’t until my granddaughter cast her first vote 6 years ago, that I stopped short. It was a shock to realize just how blithely I had ‘opted out’ of wanting to know. My sweet girl’s interest in learning about issues that affected all of us ignited my shame at never having given that mature move a thought! In that election, I left ‘mother may I’ far behind and reading, listening, discussing have become part of my persona. MSNBC and NPR have embarrassingly become my pals and I’m as aghast as anyone else at what has become the ‘norm’ in our political theater. Ignorance is no longer an option. Vive la resistance! Continue reading “The Year That Was”

Politics and other awkward stuff

Merry . . . Everything

I really like Christmas. Who doesn’t? I’m just so relieved the war on this holiday is over! Whew. I’ve been saying “Merry Christmas” with abandon all these years, never realizing that there was a sinister, pervasive movement afoot. I sent out Christmas cards, put up my creche and topped my ‘baby Jesus birthday cake” with a candle angel. All that time, as I blithely went “over the river and through the woods”, I never realized there was a lurking, sinister plot to steal Christmas. Okay, even in the best of times, I never saw a partridge in a pear tree, but still, who would steal CHRISTMAS?

(caution: Holiday rant ahead)

If miles and miles of crazy, blinking house lights and stores decked with holly since the day after Halloween are any indication, secular Christmas needs no comeback or defending.  It gets bigger and more lucrative every year. But if the spiritual aspect of Christmas is in danger of disappearing, the answer won’t be found in any political mandate or decree. The spirit of Christmas springs from the soul of each person.

Or not.

I guess I thought ‘Happy Holidays’ was kind of shorthand for good wishes in the Christmas season. Or maybe, just maybe, merely a sign of respect to all; a greeting to those who are and are not Christians, purely in the spirit of the season. Aside from a constitutional separation of church and state, greeting people where they are, spiritual or not, just seems like the right thing to do.

The celebration of Christmas has changed over time but the change is more about how we ourselves have evolved than a result of any conspiracy. Back in the 17th century, the Puritans didn’t think celebrations of Christmas were at all cool or maybe they were a little too cool for their version of the bible. Isn’t it ironic that the only time Christmas was actually banned in America was by — Christians?

The French Revolutionist renamed Christmas ‘Dog Day’ and rebranded holiday goodies as liberty cakes. So much for Jolly Ol’ St. Nick. During the 30’s and 40’s, in a country across the pond, extreme political ideologies were integrated into religious celebrations. (Psst: Anti-semitism can’t co-exist with Christmas because the very person we celebrate was, duh – Jewish.) Russia’s October Revolution knocked out public religious displays so it was a total TKO for Santa. Castro banned Christmas altogether to keep people’s mind on the sugar harvest. Sweet. Traditional holiday celebrations became a bah humbug act of political dissent. If there was an authentic war on Christmas, it exists in those most afraid of the other, you know, like those unwelcome travelers 2000 years ago who spent the night in a stable. Continue reading “Merry . . . Everything”

Holiday Madness

It’s About To Get Ugly.

I won’t tell. Go ahead, drag that sequined, blinking light sweater out of hiding for its annual holiday spin. What else can make you feel so happily over-dressed for success but something so tinselly tacky?  Office party or off-center homey soiree, there’s something de rigueur about donning your gaudiest apparel for the sheer fun of it.

The ugly Christmas sweater has become a tradition and traditions like this call out everyone’s most competitive, over-the-top spirit — or temporary insanity. A graphic design unicorn, who dresses more like boring Bonwit (knock-offs) than bohemian, I can probably rock a cool sweater design, but the time required would really bug everyone I know. As most artists who take hours and weeks deciding the subtle nuances of each color, by the time I’d create a suitably crazy Christmas sweater, the holidays would be over.

Already midpoint in your own holiday timeline, I’m sure if a sweater masterpiece isn’t on your current your to-do list, that ship has sailed. You could pretend you didn’t know you had to come dressed as Santa’s workshop, but then your critique of everyone else’s attire wouldn’t hold water. Then again, when you spend so much time creating something, you’d like to at least be able to re-gift it, but there are probably few takers.

When did this Christmas craziness first begin? Most would agree that the birthplace of this offbeat tradition is the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, British Columbia in 2002. Before that, garish holiday sweaters were slightly embarrassing, but through the years, Christmas sweaters, from oddly beautiful to downright weird became trendy. Later, college students, loving the irony of their parents’ 80’s fashions, upped the satire factor with vintage wearable Christmas duds. Who knew that your maiden aunt’s itchy holiday sweater, bedazzled with twinkling trees would actually become — vogue. (If you can live with the guilt that the aunt once wore that sweater proudly without a trace of irony, then wear that glitzy fashion statement with all bodaciousness.)

Combining Halloween with Holy Jingle Bells, Christmas sweaters help us let loose in our own unique holiday style. Unfortunately, that sometimes hideously glamorous apparel has become big business, as companies across the nation get their ugly on for Christmas season dollars. Some ritzy retail holiday knits are so expensive you need a commitment to lifetime annual sweater parties to justify owning one. Mass-marketed pseudo homespun treasures echo have become a lucrative ‘thing’. There’s the vest adorned with a fuzzy, stuffed reindeer head, even an entire kitschy holiday suit (yes, they really did that). Continue reading “It’s About To Get Ugly.”

Politics and other awkward stuff

Make America . . .

“America is back”. That was the opening line of a recent commercial, and all I could think was “Really? Where was it?”.

As far as I can tell, America hasn’t taken a trip anywhere, though it has meandered a bit. These last few years, the poor country has been pulled in so many directions, it must feel a little like Gumby. With only days left before the mid-term elections, I have to wonder if America is trying to hide until the worst is over. But then, what is the worst? We’ve certainly seen a whole lot of bad behavior, that’s for sure. If America was a kid, it would have been sent to its room for days. But then, it’s not one kid – it’s millions and where do you send them when they’ve been busy setting little fires everywhere? I’d send them to the voting booth.

America belongs to EVERYONE. Yup, sorry to break it to anyone who thinks only the anointed few get to lay claim, but that’s the truth. Of course, the original inhabitants found out the hard way when new guys (English refugees otherwise known as Pilgrims) pulled up, grabbed the land and all THEY got was a tee shirt and nifty reservations in the middle of nowhere. Didn’t they welcome the Pilgrim dudes, give them corn pudding and help them survive first winters? Sure, but who’s counting. We still make those cheery construction paper feathers to honor them on Thanksgiving, so it’s all good, right?

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.

Mark Twain

For 241 years, America’s been stepping away, and coming back. We’ve been to war, to the moon and to the polls. We’ve raised the flag, our voices, our fists, and our leaders. We’ve seen the best and the worst of times. We have been and are a great, beautiful land with fierce spirit and big hearts. We fled a monarchy, started a republic, became a democracy and today waffle between them, with some resurgent populism and nationalism thrown in. (we know how well THAT worked out!) Continue reading “Make America . . .”

Chick stuff

4 Chicks at the Cape

I’ve been a goner for an elbow shaped piece of land called Cape Cod since I was 6 years old. It’s always been my happy place. I’m pretty sure, that in less than 5 minutes of meeting me, you’d know more than you ever wanted to know about it. I dragged my husband, who didn’t quite get the attraction, there many times but only in the last few years of our travels did he come to see what drove my addiction. In fact, he fell a little in love himself but our last trip 3 years ago never got a rerun. He died A few short months later.

Last week I finally paid a return visit to ‘my Cape’.  I’m not sure if my four widow friends decided to share the trip to help celebrate my milestone birthday or see if the island lived up to my constant hype. I was just pretty darn grateful to cross that Sagamore Bridge again and in whirlwind few days, I was hellbent to leave no shell or lobster roll unturned.

“The waves of the sea, help me get back — to me.”

As a fresh-faced little kid, the trek from New Jersey to the Cape took a whole lot longer than it does today. In the wee hours of the morning, my father would stealthily carry me and my brother’s (nearly) sleeping forms into our spiffy green station wagon. Edging into the early morning darkness, my dad naively hoped we’d sleep until the sun came up over the Cape landscape. Um, no. Before we ever hit Boston, (the route of the ‘old days’) he’d hear a chorus of “are we there yet” and “I’m hungry.” My mother doled out snacks to hold us over, but there was no way to hold back our excitement. My parents were doomed.

Back in the day, utopia was a small group of weathered shingle cottages, complete with shuffleboard and concrete pool, nestled in a copse of towering pines. Even without air conditioning, we slept like hibernating bear cubs in open-window bedrooms, cooled by scented nights. I can still picture Nancy Drew mysteries and games of Old Maid on the beach. Our stubby feet ran along seemingly endless low-tide beaches and I can still see my father’s surprised face as he tasted his first (and last) spoonful of Indian pudding. Far from the creamy concoction he envisioned, the sturdy cornmeal dessert was an epic fail. Luckily, my brother and I opted for ice cream.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Costeau

Friday night tradition dictated strolls along Hyannis’ Main Street, past an endless booty of gift and candy shops. Not one ever bask in the sun now, my rosy childhood skin is imprinted in my memory. Decked out in a gaudily colored swim tube and bathing cap (yes, I did), I paddled contently in the Cape’s salty Atlantic waters; the same waters that churned up boxes of multi-hued taffy. Once, in that said tube in Cape Cod Bay’s calm waters, I had the brilliant idea of raising both hands up, happily waving to my parents. Wrong move. When I found myself looking UP at the water, too stunned to register that oh, yeah – I’m going to drown, you could say I was a little confused. Luckily, my visit to Davy Jones Locker was shortto tell the tale.

“Heaven seems closer in a little house beside Cape Cod Waters” Beverly Baldwin Continue reading “4 Chicks at the Cape”