The Outgoing Introvert

I don’t know about you, but I am glad that crazy “Blood Moon” business is over. Whew…. Last week was a rough one. The crazy chain got broken over the weekend and sure enough, a new story is born.

After running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I got a chance to do whatever I wanted on Saturday AND Sunday! Yippee! For those who read my blog, you know that I am an optometrist. That means that I talk non-stop all day. Which is fine… I was voted most talkative my senior year of high school. I can talk a lot. You would think that would make me an extrovert, right?

Nope. I was told once by a very intelligent human that you can tell if you are an introvert or an extrovert by how you re-charge your batteries. Do you need down time and solitude? Or do you need to blow off steam and surround yourself with people? I need some down time. I would classify myself as an outgoing introvert. I like people…. just not a lot of them at the same time or for long periods of time. Lol. I prefer the company of dogs.

That got me to thinking about being alone. The more I thought about it, the more I thought we should talk about it a bit. People, even if you don’t like to be alone you need to learn how to do it. And not suck at it.

Years ago I was in a relationship that was having trouble and I went on a vacation with a girlfriend to see her relatives. I talked about what was going on and I was asked, “Can you live without him?” I said, “Yes.” Aha! That is bad, right? I defended myself by saying that I could live without anybody… you know, breathe in and breath out, but I would prefer to not have to live without that person. I thought that the very idea of thinking you could not live without another person was absurd. My brain doesn’t work that way.

It is a very romantic and kind of neat idea to think you could not live without the love of your life. Until you have to live without the love of your life. Then it is a stupid idea. Here is some advice. If you find someone who really loves you then make him/her buy a long-term care policy and some good life insurance along with the ring. If you can’t find someone who sells these things let me know and I will hook you up.

My ex-boyfriend who is still a friend had both. I really liked that. He would say things like, “If you have to tie my shoes, I can pay you for that because I have a long term care policy that includes home health care.” I would smile and say, “Great!” Although in my mind I was thinking that we would pay a stranger to do that while I went golfing… but you know… you got to go with the flow. There was a big age difference too, 17 years, so you have to think about things like that as well as death. You have to make sure that there is someone or money to pay someone to take care of you when you are the last one standing.

I don’t think he would have picked me to take care of him anyway. I am too picky. He is a white guy who has had too much sun so he had some actinic keratitis…the scaly icky skin that is kind of scabby… and I would be giving him a back massage and suddenly pick that shit off his back. Ouch! No scabby icky skin on my watch. Like I said, I think ultimately he would have hired a professional instead of having to worry about what I would do next.

I have some older friends who are a mess. They have let their spouse do all of the cooking, all of the books and all of the decision making and when that person is no longer around they are not only sad and lonely…but kind of useless. That leads to either dying or hooking up with the wrong person so that they don’t have to do their own laundry. Listen up, people. If you are with someone like that you must teach them how to do some banking, laundry, and to cook a few basics like scrambled eggs and toast and how to make mashed potatoes and a pot roast. Sheesh.

I can’t wait to be old enough to get into ‘assisted living’. There is a great place in my neighborhood that has a killer view of the lake. It also has a bar with a big screen TV, a workout room, beauty salon and good food. I went to the grand opening celebration and they had a chocolate fountain! They stole a really good chef from town and his dinner was delish. It seems pricey, but when you figure out the cost of food and property taxes and lawn and snow removal and all of the stuff that comes with home ownership… it may not be that bad. Sigh, I will have to wait.

For those of you who are new to being alone and it freaks you out, let me give you some tips. The hours between 2am and 8am are for the alone.

For many years I would work 11-7pm. I would come home from work, spend time with people I liked or loved and would wait…. until they had to leave or fall asleep.

Then I would get to listen to music, read, think, take a bubble bath and go to bed late. It was awesome. (I have had to reset my natural clock with my new business because I have to get up early. The vampire days are gone and I miss it.)

I read an article in House Beautiful one time where a very talented designer said the best couples have separate bedrooms but no one wants to admit it. I agree with her… separate beds and separate TV’s may be the secret to relationship longevity. Snore….snore…..cough…. gasp….snore…… it’s not conducive to creative thought.

The early morning hours are great for exercising by yourself and not feeling bad.

Try it.

You will notice that most people are by themselves and are dedicated to maintaining their health and wellness. No one feels weird walking/running by themselves in the morning. I saw a couple walking together this Saturday and I passed them twice. The husband was talking her ear off and gesturing a lot. She looked like she wanted to slit his throat with a butter knife.

See, walking alone is a good thing. If you wear big headphones like I do, you don’t have to say a word. You can just wave if someone says, “Good morning!” I see the same people over and over again, so in a way we are friends – but not really. It’s perfect.

I was invited to a Blood Moon party last night and it was pretty neat. Great food, a few friends, some telescopes… it was a fun time. I am looking forward to the next one in 17 years 364 days…

It’s time to crawl into my big bed with a bunch of books and magazines, three clickers, two pairs of glasses (and usually a dog but she is with my Mom tonight) and watch The Green Bay Packers play some Monday Night Football. Be jealous! XO

GGJ

A Recipe for…

One of the Sisters had a birthday this last week. We all got together to celebrate and it was fun. I wanted to post a picture of the two of us on Facebook…. so I looked for a good one.

I found a picture of us on horseback riding the beach at Big Sur, CA taken quite a few years back.

Fantastic news….it is possible to get better with age.

I think we both look better now than we did then. It helps that fashion has evolved from faded Mom jeans and huge Badger sweatshirts to a more fitted look. That and hair straighteners….flat irons or my preferred method, keratin treatments, have made a world of difference.

It got me to thinking… almost all of the good stuff gets better with age.

Take bananas for instance. They are picked when they are green and have zero imperfections on the surface. They also taste like shit. Compare that to a fully ripe banana- cosmetically unappealing but full of flavor.

Why is that? I am pretty sure if comes from oxidation. (Flashback to science class…LEO says GER….loss of electrons = oxidation, gain of electron = reduction.) It’s complicated, but I think it has something to do with its reaction to oxygen (O2). Oxygen is important. Essential for survival. Okay, it makes us weather and age but adds flavor… I am cool with it.

Sometimes when I am mad (usually on someone else’s behalf) and I am being dramatic I like to say, “He’s not fit to breathe the same oxygen as you!”

It’s as close as you can come to cursing someone without worrying about bad karma.

The Sisters both come with curses.

My oldest sister has somehow invoked the wrath of the traveling gods and is destined to have late departures and arrivals, weird weather patterns (like inversions when it snows in the valley and fogs at the top of the mountain), demolished luggage and “lost” vehicles at the park and ride place. When you travel with her you better have a change of undies and a couple of mini-Bailey’s in your purse just in case.

The other Sister was the one with the birthday. Her curse is that she never gets what she orders in restaurants.

This came up on the ride to the restaurant to celebrate her birthday.

She said, “They can serve me a big flaming turd and I am going to eat it.”

The previous week they had gone out of town to a supper club that is renowned for its steak and salad bar. (How 80’s…) It’s also not cheap. Sister ordered a fancy steak with gorgonzola sauce. When all of the dinners arrived, her steak wasn’t what she ordered. She asked the server about it…and the server said, “This is a blackened steak” and she whisked it away before Sister had a chance to respond. She then waited 25 minutes for her dinner to arrive. Meanwhile, the other two people ate their dinners at the pace of a tortoise in an attempt to wait to eat with Sister. Sister ended up eating alone. It was sad. She said that she would have eaten the blackened steak but it all happened so fast that she didn’t get a chance.

This time she was determined to eat her birthday dinner with the group.

I said, “If they serve you shit on a shingle, will you eat it?” and she said, “Yep. With a smile on my face. I have to turn this curse around. I am determined to eat whatever is put in front of me.”

At this point Mom said we had to change the subject because if we kept going she might lose her appetite. We all laughed. The mood was set and we were all on the same page. We were going to have fun- no matter what.

It’s so bizarre…but I think the curse may have lifted. We got to the restaurant and it’s a crazy place. Basically, you usually have to elbow your way to the bar and stand three deep and hang out for a while. When we walked in I started to scout a place in the bar and found an open table in the corner. No way! We were just settling in when we got summoned to our table. Again, no way! Sister even got what she ordered. It was insane. We all got ice cream after dinner drinks. We thought the bartender might kill us for getting 3 different kinds… Grasshoppers X 3, a White Dove and a Brandy Alexander…but we didn’t get killed. They were so huge we couldn’t finish them all. It was awesome.

The following night Sister went out to a different fancy steak place and got…. exactly what she ordered and it was perfect. Very interesting!

This is kind of deep…. so hang with me. I think it might be a step in the step process…it’s the Serenity prayer and goes something like this (don’t quote me because I am not going to look it up but just wing it instead.)

Lord, give me the strength to change the things that I can change, accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

Remember that the next time you go to a fancy super club.

All this talk about food has gotten me hungry.

I will tell you a secret. I didn’t come up with it…

A long time ago, a person who shall remain nameless, was at a Christmas work party and got snookered. He was sitting next to a person who was also bombed and they were both having surf and turf for dinner. You know, when you get the little candle holder with the butter dish suspended above it? That’s the one. So the other bombed guy said, “You’ve got to try this.” And he proceeded to dip his tenderloin steak into the leftover lobster butter sauce. They proceeded to devour the remaining turf. I thought they were seriously deranged… until I tried it. OMG.

I give my foodie friends permission to steal this concept.

I would recommend serving the little candles with suspended butter dishes as an extra and charge the heck out of it. I could see having a lobster butter sauce and also maybe some kind of Cajun butter sauce….

You can thank me with gift certificates.

Let’s get back to bananas, shall we? My Mom grew up on a big dairy farm. Her Mom used to bake all of the breads and sweets and make huge quantities of food. My Mom was her helper. I think all of that cooking early on kind of ruined my Mom for cooking later in life. She would conjure up dinner but I think she would have rather been golfing.

Anyway, she is good at making certain things. She likes to say that everything she can make can “serve a thrashing crew.” Which means that she is good at turkeys and pot roasts and mashed potatoes.

I asked her for her banana bread recipe as I have a couple that have seen a better day. She dug out her Mom’s old cookbooks and gave me this recipe. I hope you like it.

Grandma B’s Banana Bread recipe.

1 ¾ cups sifted flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1/3 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs well beaten

1 cup ripe bananas (2-3)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat butter until creamy. Add sugar gradually and continue beating until lite and fluffy. (Grandma’s exact wording.) Add eggs and beat well. Add flour mixture alternating with bananas a little at a time until smooth.

Turn into a well-greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and back in moderate (350 degree) oven about 1 hour and 10 minutes until done. Makes one loaf.

I hope yours turns out.

My Mom's old cookbook
My Mom’s old cookbook

old cookbook 2

Baby dolls, it’s not what you are having for dinner….it’s who you are having dinner with that matters. Butter goes with everything. When in doubt, use a recipe that has stood the test of time. Don’t forget the salt. Ever. Curses can be lifted. Going with the flow is easier than fighting the current…. most of the time. (Unless you are heading for a massive waterfall and are going to die… then swim at an angle for shore.) Keep breathing.bananas

GGJ

The 80/20 Rule

Have you ever heard about the 80/20 rule?

Basically, it applies to everything but is used most commonly in business. Here’s the gist – 80% of everything is noise and/or junk, aka a complete soul sucking waste of time, money and effort. The other 20% is the real deal- what makes your profit, your satisfaction and should in theory be the focus of your efforts.

Good to know.

I thought about this concept a lot yesterday. I spent the day at a continuing education conference in Madison, WI. Optometrists are a funny bunch. I usually go to conferences in other States as it is a better learning experience and you can offer up some meaningful tidbits when you aren’t giving away your best trade secrets to the competitor two blocks down.

This year I lucked out and ran into a doctor that I used to work for years ago and we are still friendly. We also live far enough apart that we have zero overlapping patients. Plus, he is light years ahead of me in terms of his business so I am kind of like his pet.

Anyway, I had a killer seat in the back row (I was smart enough to save the seat before chowing down on the free breakfast.) He hadn’t saved a seat yet. I gave up my killer seat and we sat together somewhere in the middle.   Like I said, he is a pretty good friend.

As we sat down the first thing he said to me was, “I would rather be drinking a beer and going to the Badger game.” I said, “Amen, brother.” and we settled in for the duration. The conference was a rapid fire kind of deal – 20 minutes per speaker on stuff we should know. The 80/20 rule was in full effect and for six hours we listened and tried to pay attention. He told me that he just tries to take away one or two useful tidbits and call it quits.

It is too great of an expectation to think everything should be fascinating.

He also advised me that many people make their lives and jobs too difficult. For the long haul you have to be able to endure many ups and downs and the best way to do that is keep it simple. The KISS rule…Keep It Simple Stupid. He’s a good doctor, a good person and has a good relationship with his wife and kid. Smart guy. I am glad I sat next to him.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the 80/20 rule. As I was driving home, I started thinking about it. I am super lucky. I am the youngest of three. I have two older sisters who are very intelligent and extremely capable human beings. For my whole life, I have pretty much just followed in their footsteps or did what they told me to do. It’s worked out great. There have been some epic failures, trust me. But, truth be told when that happened it was because I didn’t listen to the Sisters.

The result is that in my life I get to be a kind and gentle soul (80%) with a dash of sarcasm and spontaneity (20%) thrown in. My sole function is to be funny and game for the unknown.

Years ago, one of the Sisters and I did a little trip to Carmel, CA. It was the early days of the internet and Sister booked us into a fantastic hotel (The Highlands Inn- which is fantastic by the way) and had some restaurants all picked out. We did it all and it was fun. One of the restaurants was kind of famous for being famous (I think Clint Eastwood went there at some point) but it was a little snooty. We had one more night and didn’t know where to go. I asked the valet guys were to go for a good meal and good atmosphere and they sent us to Flaherty’s. It was perfect.

I am the girl who askes the guys in the parking garage where to go and then actually does go. It takes both kinds of travelers to be successful. No planning is bad and nothing but planning is bad.

On that trip I also got to pick an activity and while we were at breakfast I saw an advertisement for sea kayaking on my placemat. We made a call and the next thing you know we were in Monterey Bay watching a baby sea lion get born. But then it got too close and it seemed like he was trying to get in the kayak…. and it was against the law and the guide yelled at us, “Paddle!” So we paddled. We were worried about the sea lion and made the guide go back and check. He said it was fine. I still wonder about that, he better not have lied. Anyway, it was a fantastic experience. All because of a little placemat.

I must give Sister credit though, she was the one who had researched the breakfast spot.

Birth order is fascinating. In my case, not only was I the youngest but my parents were oddities in that they had children much later in life. This is normal now, but in the 60’s it was kind of nuts. So, I arrived on the planet and my Dad turned 50 shortly thereafter. He retired when I was in middle school. Both of my parents are outdoorsy- so I would come home from school to find a five dollar bill on the table with a note saying, “Take Elaine to The Hut for dinner. Back home before dark. Love Mom, XO.” It was fine. The Hut was and still is a great spot for hamburgers and fries and it was cheap. I could take Elaine out to dinner and still have some money left over for things like smut books.

I used to ask my Mom if they ever worried about leaving me alone and she said, “We gave you just enough rope to hang yourself.”

I have never really been sure about that statement but it all worked out fine so it doesn’t require any additional deep thinking.

A friend of mine had a similar situation. He was the youngest of five with a 16 year age difference between him and his older brother. Pretty much everyone was out of the house for his childhood. We sometimes tell stories about growing up. He laughs and likes to say he was, “raised by wolves.” It worked out for him too. His parents worked like crazy and were never home. That was alright, he had a girl friend whose parents worked all of the time too, and he would ride his bike over after school and they would boink like crazy until 5pm and then he would ride his bike home in time for dinner. What can I say? It was the 80’s. He said it was super fun. I believe him.

I didn’t get to do any boinking because my Dad was a staunch Republican. They are uptight about stuff like that. Also, I had the bad 80’s perm thing going with a modest amount of baby blubber. I was a late bloomer. Things are better now. So, instead of boinking I hung out with our hunting dogs and read books. Then we got cable and I saw Jaws and it ruined me for swimming in the ocean to this day.

Younger siblings grow up fast and I think it has to do with being exposed to the older kids’ lives. I give my parents credit (actually, I think it was probably because they weren’t paying attention) for not censuring my reading material or TV/movie viewing.

They used to make my older sisters babysit for me- and little did they know but we weren’t exactly staying at home. They just took me along. I was at the Drive-In movie theater and Brown’s Point (a summer time party spot) at a ridiculously young age. The upside was that I got to say yes or no to just about everything early on. I never really had an issues with the whole drug/alcohol thing because (once again) I just did what the Sisters did. Thanks girls, you did a great job.

I have always been a deep thinker. If only I had applied the 80/20 rule and saved myself the trouble of caring about a lot of useless things.

As the years go by, it would seem that I have about 20% left. I have whittled it down to the people who matter, I am not seeking approval as much (that never goes completely away- my Dad will have been dead 20 years November 3rd, and I am still trying to please him- but that is a story for another time.) and I am mostly content with my choices. That is a good feeling.

There must be another mathematical equation at work here.

Does something happen when you get past the halfway point? Kind of like when you fly over the Pacific Ocean and you don’t have enough gas to get back to North America…. it’s not an option anymore… the only direction is to keep moving forward.

As I write this, I have this song stuck in my head. It must be a sign.

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose… (that is the good part.)             

and nothing is all that Bobby left me…. (that is the bad part.)

                            -Kris Kristofferson/Janis Joplin

That’s okay Bobby, you sound like you were a hoot while you were around. But, when I think about it…. The Sisters would have canned your ass for being unreliable. Hit the road.

It’s time for me to wrap things up tonight.   Tomorrow is another day. I am going to try to keep the 80/20 rule in mind. If you do it too, keep me posted on the outcome.

The World seems a little nutty right now…. maybe if we all work together we can shift the Universe.

Zen baby.

GGJ

 

 

Skinny People are Boring

Skinny people are boring. There, I said it.

Before you get into a tizzy let me explain. If by some chance you are skinny by nature or have a metabolic disorder or are trying to cheat death because your arteries are clogged….then you get a free pass and this does not apply to you.

But (and the important part always comes after the but) if you are skinny because you want to look great- then your chances of being boring are greatly increased. Something happens when people get skinny. I don’t know why but it seems like their personality dissolves with all of the fat.

I have been a chub my whole life. Not exactly fat, but definitely not skinny either. I am also very healthy. I exercise and eat mostly healthy foods and drink relatively little for living in Wisconsin. My last life insurance health tests and blood work put me in the cheapest category. Yay! Still, why do I feel like I should be skinny? I am going to stop that kind of thinking right now. I think it is good to want to be fit, healthy and strong. Being skinny is for the birds.

Years ago, (about 13 years I think) I did get skinny. I was coming off an ACL knee surgery and had put on some weight. I joined Weight Watchers and dieted down to my goal weight (which was too low) and became a life time member. I could fit into my sisters jeans and she is four inches shorter than me… it was great. Boys liked me and I was getting a lot of attention. I was a skinny chick aka tits on a stick. Ok, stop right here. Let me state for the record that boys that like girls who are tits on a stick are morons. That alone is enough to call it quits and eat a cheeseburger.

Girls, listen to me…. If you ever get a smart, funny, sweetheart of a guy who likes you just the way you are- he’s a keeper. I have also found that guys who are a little chubby themselves are great in the sack. I think they have to try harder and develop certain skills to keep the ladies happy. Try it, you won’t be sorry.

I was skinny for a while. Finally, one day my sister told me, “You are skinny, but you aren’t fun anymore.” She was right. I had restricted myself to zero alcohol and practically zero carbohydrates. I was weird about eating in restaurants and ….I WAS BORING!

This weekend I came down with the hives. I don’t know why but it started out Saturday morning and by Saturday night I was a mess. I met some good friends to watch the Badger game and have a few drinks and dinner. I showed them my hives. Everyone agreed they were super gross and felt bad for me. Because they were good friends they still let me sit at the same table and shared a few bites of food with me. As the evening progressed, my hives seemed to be getting worse. A friend went to the bar and got a marker and circled a couple of welts on my arms. We continued to eat and have a few beers and watch the game. Awhile later we checked the marks and I thought maybe they were the same….but then my friend told me they were worse. It takes a good friend to tell you that your hives are worse.

I went home and took a bunch of Benedryl. The next morning I woke up and looked in the mirror. OMG, they were spreading to my face. I freaked out and took four Benedryls. Then I put some clothes on and walked to the ER which luckily is only two blocks from my Mom’s house. It was 7am so it was very quiet. I checked in and the lady took one look at me and I said “Hives” and she said, “Yup” and she got me in right away. The nice lady doctor took one look at me and I said, “Hives” and she said, “Yup.” and we talked about the possible causes but it can be pretty much anything and the treatment is the same so it doesn’t really matter. She gave me a prescription for some steroids and I was back to my Mom’s in 20 minutes. Then the 4 Bendryls I took kicked in and I was too far gone to operate a motor vehicle so my Mom got the steroids for me while I took a sedated nap.

I spent the whole day hanging out and napping at my Mom’s. We watched tennis and car racing and read our books. We weren’t super hungry so my Mom made up some toasted ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner. Then around 9pm she made me an ice cream cone. Butter Brickle on a sugar cone. It was amazing.Cone

I wouldn’t have been able to have that at my place. I wouldn’t have had the bread, the ice cream or the cone. That really got me thinking…..(keep in mind I was still stoned on Bendryl)

It really is the simple things in life that make us happy. Being too fat is bad and being too skinny is bad. We need to find a good balance. Restrictive behavior is a drag. This applies to many aspects of life. Who likes being told they can’t do or have something?? Not me, that is for sure.

So, I am going to try to adopt a new way of thinking. I can have or do anything I want within reason.

One last thing about being skinny. It makes you look older. My chubby wubby face is keeping the wrinkles at bay. I like that. When I take a good look around, it seems like the people who are laughing and dancing and enjoying life are somewhere in the middle… not too skinny and not too fat. Have you ever noticed that skinny people are afraid to dance or look silly? It’s the pressure that comes with being fabulous.. caring about what people will think.  It becomes restrictive all on its own. I think that being in the middle takes the pressure off.

It all comes back to finding balance. Zen baby.

My hives are going away. I went to the grocery store and bought a lot of healthy things. I also bought the makings for chicken enchiladas which I love. I will put the recipe below.

GYPSY GIRL JILLY’S CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

  1. Buy a rotisserie chicken for 7 bucks. It will save you time and money. Wait for it to cool and then pluck the meat off it.
  2. Add a can of Original Rotel. (tomatoes and onions and spicy stuff in a can.)
  3. Add a packet of taco seasoning mix.
  4. Add water to get it a good consistency and make the spices stick to the chicken. Don’t worry if it is watery- it all gets cooked and absorbed.
  5. You will need either flour or corn tortillas. Put some chicken in and roll them up and put in a baking dish. Or you can be lazy and layer the enchiladas and chicken like you are making lasagna.
  6. Pour over canned Red Child Enchilada Sauce (I use La Preferida Mild.) I like the big cans but you can’t always find them so then buy 3 small cans.
  7. Stick the whole thing in the oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly.
  8. Let it rest so you don’t burn a flap of skin on the roof of your mouth.
  9. Generous dollops of sour cream go on top. Eat and enjoy.

Gypsy Girl Jilly Makes a Friend

Yesterday I moved. Again. It’s been a recurring theme for me over the years. I have never been attached to a property- but I do get attached to the people who make a house a home.

When I first moved into the house over 7 years ago, it was chaos and my place was a total mess. I had spent several months gutting the house and replacing a lot of things… so I had been around but hadn’t been living in the house. One day I was in the kitchen getting ready to go for some exercise. I had some bottoms on but I was topless digging through a laundry basket and putting on a jog bra -with no curtain in the window.

My neighbor Jerry just happened to be returning my garbage can to its rightful spot when ….BAM….he got a full frontal assault of my considerable rack. We both panicked. His eyes got wide and he was heading across the driveways in record time. I knew it was a crucial moment. This would record me as the nutty naked lady or I had to fix it. So, I quickly got some clothes on and yelled out the door, “Hey Jerry, I didn’t mean to give you an eye-full!”

He came back and said he was really sorry, he was just putting the garbage can back for me. He told me he had raised four daughters so he was used to seeing stuff like that. We both laughed. It was going to be okay. Just like that….we were friends. A few days later I come home to a little sign tucked beside the window that said “BEAR AREA”. It hung in my carport shed for the next seven years.

One of the first summers I lived there, we had a mama snapping turtle come up the bank, dig a hole in my yard and lay her eggs. We marked the spot with a stick and waited. And waited. One day, there was some activity and we watched the baby turtles emerge. Jerry and I felt we had an obligation to make sure that the baby turtles made it back to the river without being gobbled up or smooshed. We took our baby turtles named Harry, Hermione, Ron and Lord Voldemort down to the river. I kind of tossed one of mine in the river. Jerry said, “Well, that’s one way to do it.” He put his turtle gently down on a stick and let the baby turtle find its own way into the river. I learned something. When you are trying to save something it is best not to kill it before you have a chance to save it. Patience, little grasshopper. I did better with my second turtle.

It’s not like it happens overnight. But, little by little I would reveal bits and pieces of my past to Jerry. He was a good listener. He had a very successful marriage, so he was pretty good at giving out love life advice. He spent a lot of years in the automotive industry so he would take notice of the vehicles that would sometimes park in my driveway. Sometimes, he would ask where the Honda went and I would say, “He’s long gone Jerry”… and he would say, “He’ll be back.” And then we would laugh. He lost his wife a few years back and asked me if I liked being alone. I told him I liked being alone more than I liked being with the wrong person… but I would like it better if I could be with someone who didn’t drive me nuts. It’s tough out there. When you find someone who doesn’t drive you nuts, I would recommend you hold on tight. I think Jerry would agree with me. See, I was listening.

Winter in Wisconsin can be tough. Early on, Jerry showed me how to use his snow blower ‘just in case’. I really never had to do any snow-blowing because he would do it for me. He knew my schedule and I would hear the snow-blower start up around 6 am and he would plow me out. He did my driveway before he did his own. That is a major act of kindness. Last year, I did get to do some snow-blowing because Jerry had a bum ankle from falling on the ice. I would go over and fire up the snow blower and start plowing his driveway. He would yell at me to go do my own and leave his for later. No way! This was my chance to finally reciprocate. It’s a good problem to have when you and your neighbor are yelling at each other for getting the others driveway plowed first. Kind of like when you go out to dinner with old friends and everyone fights over who gets to pay the bill. Those are the days! By the way, snow-blowing in the moonlight is kind of fun in a weird Zen way. Just trust me on this one. I think it may have something to do with sniffing gasoline.

I travel sometimes and would most often remember to give Jerry a heads up about my absence. He hung a little thermometer in my kitchen window (scene of the nakedness) so he could check to make sure my heat worked during the winter so I wouldn’t have frozen pipes if something bad happened. Sometimes, I would forget to tell him about my traveling so he would call my Mom to make sure I was okay.

When you live alone, it is nice to have someone notice if you might be dead or not quite dead laying in a heap at the bottom of the cellar stairs.

I really could go on and on… about the time we took on the City government for giving us tickets for improper sidewalk maintenance and we were victorious, or our many garden projects including the ill-fated asparagus patch or the hornet’s nest incident…. You get the picture.

When I had to leave for the last time, we both got really teary. I told Jerry, “I refuse to say goodbye.” He said, “Okay.” As he was walking down the driveway, I yelled “I love you Jerry!” and he yelled back, “ I love you too, Jill.”

If you are going to yell at someone, those are the best words to use.

GGJ

My Latitude Made Me Do It

I just watched a TV show (Mind of a Chef, Season 3) where Edward Lee mentioned that he has found that he is comfortable and “home” at a certain latitude. His places happen to be Louisville, KY and Korea. His latitude is 38.25 N.

My latitude is 44N. I have spent the majority of my life living plus or minus 2 degrees of this latitude. I was born here, so it’s not like I picked it. Central Wisconsin, baby! Interestingly, when I went to Optometry School I chose to attend Pacific University College of Optometry in Oregon. Right outside of Portland. Yep, you guessed it…..45 N. I loved it. The physical beauty of the landscape, the people who became my friends…. Everything.

Very interesting…I think Edward Lee is on to something. I wonder if we are somehow programmed to become comfortable with the amount of daylight or darkness dictated by the changing of the seasons.

Is there some kind of magic associated with living at a certain latitude? Alaskans seem like happy people, as do those gorgeous smiling Scandinavians. How can that be? Hmmm…Anchorage is 61 North and both Oslo, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden are at 59 North.

Compared to let’s say…..who seems grumpy? The first person who popped into my mind was the leader of North Korea who freaked out about the movie The Interview…what’s his name again? Kim Jong-un. His latitude of birth is 39N. So that got me to thinking about more bad guys and I just had to look up Charles Manson. Hold on, you are not going to believe this….born in Cincinatti, OH which just happens to be latitude 39 N.

Perhaps match.com should implement a new question regarding latitude into its database.

It’s not like we don’t have our fair share of lunatics here at 44 N.

We are just a stone’s throw away from Plainfield, WI. Birthplace and home of Ed Gein. He liked to make people into lampshades and other stuff. A friend of mine just got a wooden ship model with “canvas” sails for his birthday- supposedly made by Ed Gein. I have to wonder about those sails…. What are they really made of???? Creepy, but very interesting. There are more serial killers and whatnot but I have to stop or this story will never end.

I really don’t know if this has any scientific merit. There is one way to find out. I must research my lovely latitude of 44 North some more. Lucky for me, Bordeaux France just happens to be on the list. I think that might be an excellent place to start. I am not opposed to checking out those northern latitudes as well. I really think there must be some kind of cosmic woo-hoo going on up there. I will keep you posted.

Peace, GGJ

Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right: Directions to a Parallel Universe

Last night I ran into an old friend who asked me if I was still blogging. I was so happy to have someone ask about my blog and to actually remember some of the posts that I was giddy the whole night.  I haven’t written anything for quite some time. Why? The usual lame excuse. I am too “busy”.  So, I was thinking about it and decided to write this story.

On the path of life you have four options. Keep going straight, take a left, take a right or go backwards.  For me, I have no desire to go backwards. Been there, done that. It’s useless and most often a bummer.  So that leaves going straight or taking a turn.

Six months ago I decided to take a major turn.

I left a very comfortable long-standing job and bought my own business.  I can’t honestly say whether I turned left or right.  When I think about the words left and right… what does that mean?

What is left? Is that what remains when all of the useless people/things/trappings have been removed? Leaving someone or something? Heading West? My initial reaction to the word left is somewhat negative.  Until I really think about it. Sometimes going left takes guts.

What is right? Doing what you should do and not what is easiest? What is the right thing to do??? Human rights, animal rights, environmental rights, religious rights…. Hmmmm….right is a really interesting word….right, rite, write…..

It would seem that going right takes guts too.

While I was out last night another old friend asked me if I had lost a lot of weight.  I laughed and said, “No!” but I think that maybe taking a lot of turns in life speeds up your metabolism.  Either that or my sparkly tye dye sweater was working wonders.

Something weird has happened. I wake up before my alarm goes off. I like going to work. That is so weird. Good, but weird.

It’s early days yet, so I can’t tell you the outcome of my new business venture. So far, so good.

Mostly, I think that what I have learned is that I like the turns. Either direction. I have the same life but it is much more satisfying. I think I am now occupying space in a parallel universe. Almost everything has stayed the same, but that one change has shifted everything.

It didn’t happen last night, but every once in a while I take two left turns and go backward for a very brief period of time. It involves a rare combination of old friends and good music. In those hours we are young again, drinking whatever is cold and dancing like maniacs for hours.  Usually Desperate Otto’s are there to escort us on our journey with some great tunes, both original and covers of the best songs on planet Earth.

Going backward is a tricky thing, and seems to be best accomplished by dawn. When the sun rises and the new day begins, it’s time to travel forward. Pop a few Advil for the aching head and knees, and drink a ton of water. Time travel is hard on the body.

If I see you in my parallel universe, flash me the peace sign. I am always looking for a few friendly faces.

Peace and love,

GGJ

Sugar Plums or Bust!

This week I was watching CBS this Morning and there was a segment on about why people feel bad around the Holidays. The gist was that everybody is posting how fabulous their lives are while the rest of us poor bastards are barely keeping our heads above water and it makes us feel bad. Gayle King added that when Charles Manson gets married and you are still single – that doesn’t exactly help!

I got to thinking…. which can be dangerous.

A couple of months ago I was at a benefit for a friend and the whole town was there. I ran into a guy whom I hadn’t seen in over twenty years. He said, “Who did you marry?” I said, “I am too mean to get married!” and we laughed. Later in the evening he came back to me and apologized for asking me that and said he just assumed a girl like me would be married. I said, “That’s ok, I have had LOTS of boyfriends!” and we clicked our Miller Lite beer cans and laughed again. This was actually a funny event because I have known that guy for a long, long time- he dated one of my friends for years- he is two years older than me and also never been married- and he has had LOTS of girlfriends. Birds of a feather. But there are times when I get what Gayle King was saying… Charles Manson has a frickin’ wife and I am alone? That leads to too much thinking. I have a friend of mine that says “Too thinky is bad and no thinky is bad.” There is truth in that statement.

This week I had two events change my disposition.

I saw a patient for an exam and we walked out to the Optical together where my staff and I spend a few minutes chit-chatting and saying goodbye. We were asking if she had any plans for the Holidays. She stopped and shook her head and said, “Tomorrow I am going in for a mastectomy.” We all stopped. She then went on to say that is was her second one and that worst of all she doesn’t do well with the anesthesia and that she would be tied down (yes, tied down) so that she could not pull the stuff out of her body when she woke up. At this point I sidled up to her and said, “You need a hug.” She let me hug her and I felt her hugging me back. We both held on tight for a few seconds. I said, “Tomorrow is going to suck. You just need to survive and get through it. We will think good thoughts for you.” She thanked us and said she was tough was planning on being around for a long time. As she was leaving she and her son said, “Merry Christmas!” Wowsa.

Yesterday I was in Best Buy and I needed some help. The nicest guy helped me figure out what TV I needed and all of the cables and stuff I would need to set it up. I forgot a surge protector so we went back to get one. As we were walking down the aisle he said to me, “Last night was the second worst night of my life.” And I said, “At work, or in your real life?” and he said “My real life.” As we walked though Best Buy and on to the checkout and on to my car where he loaded my TV I got the story.

He had a broken engagement a few years back. Heart break. He had finally started dating a new girl and things were going well… until last night. When he discovered her with the ex-boyfriend. He was so bummed. I am no stranger to heart-break. So, I gave him some advice. I told him he seemed like a great guy (true statement) and that girl was a fool. I told him to get out there and get a new girlfriend. I have another friend who has a great line. “The best way to get over an old boyfriend is to get under a new one.” I used her line on my Best Buy guy. We both laughed. I said, “If that girl calls and begs for forgiveness I hope you say NO!” He said he would. I said, “Promise?” and he said, “Promise!” After he loaded my gear, we shook hands and said good-bye. As he was walking away he said, “Hey, thanks for acting like my psychiatrist!” and I said, “Hey, thanks for selling me the best TV on the planet!” We both laughed. He went back into the store and I drove away.

The last few months have been crazy busy. I purchased a practice of my own, rented an apartment in my new town, kept my house in my old town, started working in the new practice plus I am still helping out at my old practice until they find my replacement. My house is a complete wreck and I am pooped out. There is no hope for me to have my house in any kind of Holiday Glory. It is a disaster. Do you feel better yet? I would take a picture but then you might send me in to be on Intervention: Hoarders…. it is that bad. I am going to have some people over on Christmas. I am just going to close the doors of 2 of the 3 bedrooms in this house and make the other rooms presentable. That is a good trick. You don’t have to get rid of your shit- you just have to hide it.

I was talking to a younger friend who is feeling the financial pinch of the Holidays. She has young children in her life who have high expectations of Christmas….which include presents. She is working her ass off to buy those gifts. Because she wants to…but still…. it is exhausting.

Those events have gotten me re-tuned for the Holidays.

None of my body parts are being removed, my heart is not going to be broken and my family doesn’t give a shit if my house is perfect. That is lovely. I feel some joy starting to percolate. If I feel lonely, I will just think of my friend surrounded by children screaming and yelling and running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Merry Christmas! I feel better already! Did I tell you that my new TV is for my bedroom with soft fluffy sheets? If I am lucky I might get a day or two to be a total sloth and not even have to shower and get to watch anything I want. Bliss.

It’s all the way you look at it. Could it be better? Yes. Could it be worse? Yes. Alrighty then, I’ll take it.

GGJ

Is the Glass Half Empty?

Last night I was out for a bit to celebrate my Sister’s birthday. It was just four friends hanging out and catching up after not seeing each other for a while. We talked about a lot of topics and were waxing philosophical at times.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff:

Example: The glass is either half empty or half full.

We were drinking wine at the time and all agreed half full was better. Duh.

Except then I went to bed and I had a dream.

Picture a blizzard in Wisconsin… your driveway is either half empty or half full of snow. Totally empty is better than totally full when it comes to driveways full of snow, hence half empty is better than half full. Duh.

Now I am totally confused.

Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades:

I have a neighbor who throws horseshoes in his backyard. He is really good. Clang, clang, clang… The problem is he likes to throw these horseshoes on Sunday afternoons around 3pm. Prime nap time. That is when I am wishing I had a hand grenade. Just sayin’.

This is the same neighbor that raises chickens in the summer as some sort of thing for his kids. The first summer he got totally bamboozled and got only boy chicks… Cock-a-doodle-doo X 6 every morning at the ungodly hour of 4-5am. Actually he is two doors down but I have good hearing so I was lying in bed every morning listening to the chickens and thinking about hand grenades. This year was better and he got 5 girl chicks and one boy. One Cock-a-doodle-doo was fine. There is some kind of life lesson here, only I am not sure what. How many cocks do you need? One is fine, six is too many and that is all I know so far. Bow-chic-a- bow-bow.

This is the same neighbor who shows up at the door every once in a while with a big mason jar of maple syrup. The real deal… yum. This makes up for the chickens… actually, I really like chickens now that I think about it. I think out in LA they eat fried chicken with waffles and syrup. I have to try that sometime.

I know, I know… you are thinking to yourself…GGJ, are you still asleep? How much wine did you consume?

Not too much and I think I am awake.

Mostly, I am happy. Happiness defies the laws of physics.  You can’t be half empty of happiness… you can only be half full.

GGJ

Frugal Weekend Experiment

I am currently trying to save some money for an upcoming trip.

This is a trip to Las Vegas and for some reason I have some guilt associated with the gambling part of it. I had no trouble shelling out the dough for the airline ticket. But now I need some cash for the super fun stuff.

Somewhere along the line my financial guru helped to make me see the light.

I pretty much make the same amount of money each year. It can fluctuate a little depending on how much vacation I take, but basically there are so many work days and so many appointments and there is a limit. Which means if I want to save some extra money….hang on this is the hard part….I have to spend less. What?? Horror!

I am on day 3 of the frugal living savings plan.

I am doing pretty well. It helped that I worked half a day on Saturday. It killed time and I can’t spend money if I am working.

Friday:

I had the day off and was going to go golfing with my sister.  But, it rained. So we went out to lunch and had a couple of drinks and some burgers. It was fun. I know, I know you are saying, “Gyspy Girl Jilly, so far you haven’t saved any money but you have spent some on booze and burgers.” Yes, darlings… I know.  But a person cannot be a total hermit or bad things happen.  Here is the savings part. Lunch is typically cheaper than dinner. Also, if you drink during the day you get tired and go home and take a nap. Napping is free.

I had made a gigantic vat of chili the night before so that was dinner (again). I putzed around my garden, read a little and then I was bored. I ended up spending $5.99 On Demand to watch an interesting documentary called Tim’s Vermeer.  It is produced by Penn and Teller and is interesting if you are at all interested in Vermeer’s paintings (The Girl with the Pearl Earring) or scientific inventions.  I liked it for a number of reasons.

 

  1. I was a History of Science major in college. That means I like nerdy stuff.
  2. I had read the book The Girl with the Pearl Earring which was fiction but revolves around Vermeer so I was intrigued.
  3. Penn and Teller are a part of the telling of the story.  They perform in Las Vegas…which is where I am going, and why I am staying at home and saving money.  It is a sign!

Then Friday was over.

Saturday:

I worked until 1 pm.  Good moods abounded; it was a good Saturday in the office.  I bought both a hydrangea and lavender plant on sale. Saved 60%. Planted them. Watched a little tennis and then a little baseball because ‘the sisters’ were at the game and I was trying to catch a glimpse. I might have taken another nap. More chili for dinner. (That’s it! I am up to the gills in chili.)

I found 30 bucks for the trip fund going through my jackets and jeans. Yay! Also found a whole bunch of lip gloss. My lips will stay plump and juicy in the desert. I am prepared.

I watched some free TV and learned how to make pizza on the grill and brisket.

Then Saturday was over.

It’s Sunday. It was raining a bit when I got up but it is looking sunny now. I am writing this story and then need to get some exercise. Will spend some time hanging out on my deck. The flowers are looking good and I have some cozy furniture.  It really is peaceful out there.  I will probably go out for a little bit. No shopping. Maybe a visit with an old friend.

It wasn’t too bad having a frugal weekend. Actually, I got a lot of good sleep. My house is pretty clean and I don’t have a headache. I don’t know how many days in a row I could do this, but I figure I saved at least a 100 bucks. Yay!

Saving money made me think of my trusted friend and financial advisor who I have mentioned in other stories- I like to think of her as my money shrink.

She has really helped change my life. Part of the reason I am now writing a blog is because I have more peace and calm in my life. Part of that is having a ‘plan’ in case everything goes belly up. I have a plan and it is all under control. That leaves time to write little stories instead of worrying about all of the other stuff.

My relationship with my money shrink is way different than the time I went to a head shrinker. Yes, the one time I went to a head shrinker. That was a totally surreal experience.

I had been talked into going to a head shrinker as part of couple’s therapy. Before our appointment I had to take a quiz.  I took it in the car on the way to our favorite Thai restaurant which took about 20 minutes.  As we parked, I handed it to my then sweetheart. He said, “Don’t you want to review this before you hand it in?” I said, “I can do that if you want, but my answers will be the same.” I should have known right then how it all would turn out.

It was time for the appointment. I was nervous. We had gotten the results of the quiz back and the results were pretty good.

I met the head shrinker -Frank. I liked him right away.

The sweetheart started the discussion and in about 10 words explained his side of the story.

Then it was my turn.  I took a deep breath.  Then it all came spilling out it in great detail. I started to cry. Frank handed me a tissue.  I said “Thanks” and kept going. I got it all out. (That is the key.)

After a bit, Frank started to give us some therapy. (Without going into too much detail, we were having issues with third parties dictating too much of our relationship.) He started out by saying that he was going to tell us exactly what we should do.

I felt like I had been struck by lightning. I got it. I knew it.

So, Frank went into great detail about what we were going to be doing for the next two weeks. The sweetheart was nodding and agreeing and totally positive. Then Frank asked me what I thought.

I said, “There is no way in hell that I am going to be told what I can or cannot do by another person.

The sweetheart was giving me the elbow and looking at me with total and complete horror. I think he would have wanted to beat the shit out of me but he is not a violent person. Otherwise I would have been toast.

Frank said, “Exactly!” I passed the test. We went on to discuss how it is ridiculous for a third party to dominate or control a person.

I never made it back to see Frank again.  He really helped me though. It has been many years since that happened, but I sometimes think about that day in his office.

To wrap things up… I guess I feel glad that I am in control. I can spend money or save money. I can be alone but not be lonely. I can be with friends who get it. I am in charge and the results are mine.

On day 3 I find myself richer…in many ways.

Wish me luck in Vegas!

GGJ