Archive for the ‘Growing Old’ Category

Woke up to snow on the car this morning. Not much. Just enough to remind a person not to get too cocky when it comes to New England weather.

Here is number 15 on the “We Will Get Through This Cold Spell” list.

Grab a pencil. Or a laptop. And start exploring/researching three places you would like to visit when the weather starts cooperating. Doesn’t have to be a big, expensive trip. Might be in your own backyard. It usually is.

Could be a hike. Or a restaurant. A farm. An ice cream stand. A festival. Wine trail. Antique show. A picnic area. Cheese trail.

Write them down and then post the list where you will see it. A visual reminder of sunny days! And let’s face it, we both know that lists are way better than our memory banks when it comes to actually bringing a thought to life. Getting it done!

I have TONS of things I’d love to do. Places to visit. I hope to get a few of them crossed off my spring/summer list.

Latest addition that I just have to share with you.

It’s a lavender farm. Only a few years old. Looks gorgeous. As lavender fields are wont to do. Located in Connecticut. What a great excuse for Northeast folks to take a day trip and lap up some beauty!

Supporting farmers. Buying local. Soaking up the scent. Being outdoors.

Have a look at Lavender Pond Farm if you are interested. Share with any friends that might also want to put this on their own “To Do” list.

While you are on their site have a look under the tab “About” and read “Our Story.”

A line from a children’s book, “Miss Rumphius” written by Barbara Cooney becomes a part of this family’s journey.

“What have you done to make the world a more beautiful place?” 

A shared favorite of the owner and her mother. Often read and enjoyed. Especially during her Mom’s final days before she succumbed to cancer. After having lived with it for more than a decade. She sounded like a very brave and special lady.

This lavender farm is not just paying homage to the farmer’s memory of her beloved mother. It’s also this family’s way of making the world a more beautiful place.

Totally on my list.

All of it.

 

 

 

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We sometimes forget that certain smells promote a feeling of well being.

Like laundry.

I mean the smell of clean laundry.

There are even candles and sachets named “Fresh Laundry” or “Clean Linen” out there. Because people love this scent.

If you live in a place where the laundry is dried outside all year then you are fortunate. You get that outdoor scent naturally. You don’t need my “Feel Good” list. You’re probably breathing in that “clean air” smell from your sheets at this very moment. As you should. Lovely scents trigger positive responses.

But for those who use a clothes dryer due to weather and/or the seasons you can try this for a pick me up.

dryerballs

These are two wool dryer balls. They help reduce static electricity and drying time in the machine.

I add just a little something to the mix.

oils

These are essential oils. I’ll be honest. They’re not the real expensive ones.

I find them in Marshalls and TJ Maxx which are discount department stores in the U.S. Same place I bought the dryer balls.

I put drops of the oil on the dryer balls. Once absorbed they are ready to work their magic on the load of wet clothes thrown into the dryer.

The end result is warm sheets, towels or clothes that smell like lemongrass or eucalyptus.

Or whatever wonderful smell you want it to be. Clean laundry? Bergamot? Spearmint?

Smell whatever you want.

I inhale the scent and it lifts me up for a moment.

Try the dryer balls with essential oils for a quick “feel good” sniff during the long/short days this winter.

Maybe you’ll find one called “Beach” or “Summer Days.”

 

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In just four days, this blog, will be ten years old.

Ten years of prying words out of my head and putting them on paper. Ok, not really.  A blog is an on-line thing so there was no actual paper involved or harmed in the creation of Just Being Mary. To the best of my knowledge.

I just want to thank you all for joining me on this journey. As everyone knows a decade can (happily and sadly) produce many changes in our lives. If I am still writing and you are still reading then we both have a lot to be thankful for today. I am really glad you are still here.

As I continued this blog, through the years, I came to a realization. If this was only for me then I would have just purchased an old fashioned pleather diary (replete with paper made from real trees and a little tiny key for security purposes) and kept my private thoughts locked up and to myself.

But I wanted to share my thoughts. Because I wanted others to laugh, smile, think, commiserate, try, reason, question, help, hope, plan, cry, support, share, discover, learn and do all the things I do.

Especially laugh.

Hope it’s working.

Thank you all!

Hugs,

Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In my last post, I promised to share more information about a couple of the books that are in this photo.

bookslibrary

Going to the neighborhood library and appreciating your tax dollars at work was #5 on Mary’s “Wintry Mix” list.

In that same vein (sort of) I respectfully piggy back on the reading theme in this post for #6.

Go local.

Okay, I really wanted to type “Go loco” above instead of Go local. But I didn’t.

Support not just your local library but the local authors and bookstores. And authors who write about your locale or community.

Honestly, not sure why but I always feel like I’ve got some skin in the game when I’ve got one of those books in my hands.

Like I get all, “That’s my neighborhood. My town. My state. My people.” You can just imagine me with a puffed out chest. And not a puffed out post menopausal belly. Full of pride.

About two months ago I met Jeanne Mc Williams Blasberg at this literary event in Providence. She was on her own so there were a couple of extra chairs begging for middle-aged occupants. Jeanne was kind enough to allow me (and a friend) to sit at her table.

Got chatting, as one does, and I absolutely did the whole Rhode Island thing. That is to relentlessly dig until you find out what or who we have in common. I usually have the energy for it. That night was no exception.

Well, we are both mothers, both lived in California and both did the expat overseas gig. Okay, sure, that could be enough to keep a semi-decent conversation going between people who just met- before the event and during intermission.

Then I found out she was an author.

Wait, what?

She has a book “Eden” floating out there and a new one being published soon.

Truthfully, between you and me, I think I might be an authorphile. You could put me in a room with Tom Brady and a writer and I be like, “Tom, I will totally hook up with you in a few. I swear. Just gotta catch up with Jeanne here.”

Tom Brady dropped like a hot potato by JBM. True story. Ain’t gonna lie.

I’m always curious about every human being but now I have questions galore for this stranger at my table. Her table. She was there first.

“Wait, how do you spell your name? Plasberg? Is that with a P? What’s it about? Where does it take place?”

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I might have been a little loud because, well, I am loud. That’s who I am. And it was in a dark bistro (I know that dark should not matter for sound but neither should immediate radio music turn down when looking for a house number while driving) with a crowd of other ladies all excited to be at a watering hole with their ilk. So their noise level didn’t help mine.

“Eden” is set in my home state of Rhode Island. A fictional coastal town many natives might recognize. A novel about a family and secrets. How the lens might originally be black and white but gets a little grainy and gray (Thank you, Jesus!) with each new generation.

I really enjoyed it. Jeanne incorporates historical events-whether economic collapse or a world war-as a back drop to give the reader a feel for the time and its social mores.

Okay, Jeanne is not native to Rhode Island but she has a place with us now. Not everyone can be born here. We just don’t have the room. But as people leave or the older folks depart then spaces open up and we need to be welcoming. And then supportive.

When I was at the library poking around I noticed they had a section, by the check out desk, that had books written by local authors or about the area.

Well, why wouldn’t I read them?

I brought home Mary Cantwell’s “American Girl: Scenes from a Small-Town Childhood.” Mary was an editor and columnist for the New York Times but grew up in Bristol, Rhode Island. This book is filled with lovely memories of her childhood in this seaside town during the 1940s and 1950s. It’s like finding someone’s diary. I feel like everyone has a story. Hers was a pleasant one. Added bonus was I had a better understanding of the town’s history after reading this simple, old-fashioned memoir.

As you can see in the photo I had also grabbed Bernie Mulligan’s, “I Made It.” A story set in the town of East Providence where I was raised. I didn’t read it yet but I will. I had too many open books at the time.

This book is about a woman who was fully paralyzed from polio. She also had four sons under the age of seven when it happened! Can you even imagine?

I am so surprised I never knew about this. It’s a story of family love and commitment. Her husband fixed up an old bus so that she and her family could travel. When he passed away the neighborhood kids collected 6000 books of Green Stamps to buy a Winnebago. Or a caravan for my European readers. The newly licensed young neighbors all took turns driving her across the country to the Pacific Ocean. Oh my gosh. That’s God’s work right there. Makes me proud to be a Townie. I definitely have to read this.

Couple of books from Ann Leary in that photo. Northeast girl living in New England. I love her books. She just gets me. LOL I mean, I just get her. She’s married to comedian Denis Leary but I feel like she actually might be the funny one in that relationship. These two books (in the photo) were good but I loved, “The Good House.” I remember laughing out loud while reading it. Very few authors make me LOL. I also really liked her book “The Children.”

Not in the above photo but here is another book I recently enjoyed. Staying with the local vibe.

tenemental1

When I was born my parents lived in a tenement. I get it. When my husband and I bought our first home it was in Providence. A condo on the East Side. In a freaking tenement! I still haven’t heard the end of that one. But when I walked in, after the Boston group that owned it did their rehab and tagged the three floors as condos, I fell in love with the original wood floors gleaming on a sunny day. I coveted the fireplace that had been there for ages.

We’ll take it!

What I didn’t consider was that the bathroom had no heating. At all. That original, like the drafty windows we could barely open, wasn’t always a good thing.

Still. So many fabulous memories in that place. No regrets.

Anyway.

I consider the purchase of this book a trifecta. I supported a local book store Twenty Stories, a Providence author and really enjoyed this memoir. Filled with quirky tenants, boyfriends and lore.

That’s it for my #6 on getting through winter! Enough about books already. I’ll lay off bookspeak for awhile. I’m exhausted. Yes, it has to do with books. I will tell you why in another blog posting. Not the next one. But someday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I was reading an article about 2,000 Nebraskans attending the funeral of a Vietnam veteran. The report said he had no known family. And asked the public to attend. Lovely gesture.

This fellow served our country and deserved a proper goodbye.

Drumroll. Marching in my little girl idealism. Hope I never get too old for it.

Wouldn’t it be so beautiful if everyone had a proper goodbye?

Maybe it’s religion, culture and tradition that warps my thinking. We (my people) have wakes, funerals, month’s minds, annual and memorial Masses. All a part of the farewell.

But that is providing that one actually has family and friends who organize the wake and funeral with the mortuary. Will attend the gatherings. Visit the graveside. Remember to contact the church to have Masses said in the decedent’s memory.

What if those people don’t exist?

Not everyone has family. But for those who don’t have family one hopes that there are, at least, friends.

This past Spring, an old work chum named Peter, posted a message, “No one should go alone.”

He wrote, “Don’t put all of your eggs in the “family basket” or you might find yourself alone at the end of the journey. Make sure to put half of your eggs in the “friend basket.” Said it was important to have one person that you can trust. Even if a neighbor or a landlord.

A couple of weeks later, Peter mentioned that it was his tenant, Bob, he was referring to in the previous post. Said that Bob earned his wings. He had been renting from Peter for three years. Bob became an instant friend and the family soon called him, “Uncle Bob.” Peter’s grandchildren would check on him, send up the mail or newspaper to him.

Uncle Bob was a bachelor and eighty-nine years old when he died. Only survivor was an elderly sister in Delaware.

Peter said that he and his wife would be attending a memorial service for Bob the following week. Wanted to make sure there were at least two people attending Bob’s funeral. 😦

He immediately got lots of comments from his Facebook friends saying how sorry they were for his loss. No one noted or seemed to pick up on the fact that Peter would be the only person attending this man’s funeral.

I was in Delhi preparing to come back home for the summer. I also chimed in and told Peter I was sorry for his loss and if I were back in the U.S.A. I would surely join him at the memorial service. He said, as of that moment, the only attendees would be the undertaker, the lawyer (will), Peter and his wife.

That made me so very sad. He told me the date of the service. I would have some jet lag, for sure, but I thought I could make it.

I showed up at the cemetery that morning. Joined Peter, his wife, the undertaker and the lawyer in saying goodbye to a stranger. Who also happened to be a fellow human being.

Wouldn’t it be so beautiful if everyone had a proper goodbye?

We’re all just walking each other home.

 

 

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I just wanted to take a moment to wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful that you continue to read along while I share my thoughts and experiences. I appreciate you and your feedback.

Today I am also very thankful that my family is having a traditional Thanksgiving in our home country. The four of us are actually under one roof. It’s been six years. It’s like a Thanksgiving miracle.

I am super thankful for my family. Even if they drive me crazy. Or maybe it’s me driving them crazy. But there are no words to describe my love. It’s that special.

I don’t just have love for the husband, kids and dog. I have more in reserve. It extends to the entire clann.

And to friends. I am really grateful for my friends and I love them.

When I was a kid if I liked someone I thought they were just beautiful. Like literally. Sure, I got some sidelong glances, maybe some eye rolls, as a result of that thinking. But you know what? I still believe that.

I remember asking my mother a question when I was older and pregnant with my first. After, of course, I wished and prayed for a healthy little baby. Was along the lines of, “What if I give birth to an ugly little sucker?” LOL I’m just being honest.

My mom, with no hesitation, answered with, “How would you know?”

That’s the thing. I think my family and friends are just beautiful. All of them. How would I know any different?

Wishing you all the love of family and friends! I hope you are surrounded by beauty.

 

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This posting is self congratulatory.  Also hoping maybe a little helpful to someone out there.

One year ago (and seven days) my husband and I quit smoking cigarettes. We both smoked for decades. Both in our fifties. You can figure out the math.

I was only being a supportive friend to my husband. He said he didn’t want to smoke on this certain day. We were in Mumbai and flying back to Delhi.

I said, “I won’t either.”

And we didn’t smoke that day.

There is some irony here. When we landed in Delhi it was the first day of the country’s “bad air quality” season. Could hardly even see the signs outside the airport. The next day the newspaper reported that breathing this air was akin to smoking forty-five cigarettes. A gas chamber of sorts.

The other thing was that it was a sudden quit. Not planned. So that meant we still had a bunch of cigarette packs. That was bothering me. I don’t like to waste. But we didn’t smoke them and eventually gave them away.

We uploaded a free app on our phones. It’s called Smoke Free. I’d recommend it to anyone who is in process of quitting. Obviously, the smoker needs to make the decision to quit but the app provides constant and positive reinforcement. Shows how much money is saved. How health is improving each day. How many cigarettes NOT smoked. How many life days regained. How much time not spent smoking. That one is insane to think about because they mean actual time you were smoking. Mine is up to 25 days.

It has places to post triggers, cravings, set goals, badges, etc.

For those of you who don’t know. Smoking is powerfully addicting. Terrible.

Crowds of people wouldn’t be milling about the entrances of office buildings, restaurants or bars if it wasn’t.

We have been in many filthy international airport smoking rooms because not smoking during a layover was unthinkable. There is one lounge where you had to lean your face into this machine to light your cigarette. Similar to a car lighter. Looked like you were kissing a big silver machine. That many had previously kissed. Gross.

Of course, the duty free shop at the airport is where we would buy our cartons of cigarettes.

Weather would never be a deterrent.  Puffing away in all sorts of weather and every season.

Would have a cigarette outside airport before picking up bags at the luggage carousel.

Always ensured you didn’t run out of them. Or even ran low.

Nor’easter heading your way? Stock up on milk, bread and cigarettes.

I was pretty good about usually keeping the cigarettes at home when not traveling. If I was out and about during the day I didn’t bring them with me. We also didn’t smoke in the house or in our cars.

Here is the surprising thing. It was easier than I thought it would be.

Way easier. My husband agrees. I stated that we would only do it “cold turkey” and not vape or substitute something else. Because I thought that would make it more difficult.

I am not saying it’s easy. Cravings do occur. I sometimes missed it. But it truly was easier than I thought. You just distract yourself. I personally did a ton of walking. Outside in the polluted air. 🙂

I do believe anyone can quit. It is so liberating. No longer being held hostage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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