Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Happies 1/29/10

Friday Happies time again. The thing I'm most grateful and happy for today is indoor heating! It's SO cold here today, only 15 degrees and with the wind, it feels like it's close to zero outside. I'm also happy that today I was driving the car with the heater that works! Lucky me.

Seriously, indoor plumbing and electricity and heat has to be one of the best inventions ever. I can't imagine what it must be like to have grown up in a home with only a fireplace and/or woodburning stove for heat. My mother tells stories of rushing down to the kitchen on frigid cold mornings to dress by the stove, as her bedroom was just too cold.

That leads to my second happy: I'm happy I live in a temperate zone, where winter is truly only one season of the year. Soon it will be spring; then summer; then fall. Just when you think you've had enough of the heat or the cold, it changes. What a great system!

And while we're talking about marvelous inventions, how about the microwave? I remember how troublesome leftovers were, when you had to either put them in a big pan in the oven, or try to reheat them in a saucepan on top of the stove. They'd stick and burn and make a mess, and just didn't seem to be worth the effort.

Now, I can put that leftover spaghetti or omelet or stew on a plate, pop it in the microwave, press a few buttons and, voila! (Practically) instant hot food. I absolutely love the microwave, and sure can't imagine any circumstances under which I'd go back to life without it.

What are your favorite convenience inventions--or those that you truly can't live without?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Gripes, 1/25/10

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day. That's what I've been chanting all day today, as it drizzles, drips and pours. Flooding alerts are up everywhere, as not only do we have the rain to deal with, but also the melting of the over one foot of snowmelt to deal with.

Rain has always been one of my gripes. I know it's necessary to the foliage, the water table, and the planet...but I just can't feel happy on gray, wet days. Snow, I can deal with, but not rain.

Speaking of rain, one of my favorite short stories is called, "Rain, Rain, Go Away" by Harlan Ellison. In this story, a normal, average fellow finds that this magic chant of childhood really DOES have power when he repeats it...and he learns the consequences. Check it out in his story story collection, ELLISON WONDERLAND:

Another thing that really bugs me is the way the grocery store constantly freaks me out. Just when I find a product I like, they stop carrying it. Or they instead carry a different size or shape of bottle, or change the label. Or they raise the price. Or they move it to a different shelf, or section.

Don't get me wrong, I love to try new things. But I also like the comfort of the tried and true, and it really burns my toast (my latest favorite saying, BTW) to get used to something and really learn to love it, only to have it transmogrify or disappear.

And that goes for lots of things beyond food products. For example: a new TV show appears. I watch an entire season of it and really become a fan, only to have it disappear.

I find a clothing store, or bookstore, or restaurant, and it's my new favorite place. Then one day it's gone, boarded up or turned into a flooring store or tobacco shop. Sheesh.

So what has changed or disappeared on you and invited your ire?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Happies 1/22/10

A second installment of Friday Happies. I hope whoever is reading this blog enjoys the new features!

Yesterday was my grandson's birthday, and that reminds me how happy I am to be a Nana. I enjoyed raising our children, but it was a 24/7 job with the heavy responsibility of raising them "right," instilling in them our values, and seeing that they could stand on their own as adults and be happy. That can put a lot of strain on a person!

As a grandmother, I can enjoy the hugs and kisses, the pictures presented with pomp and solemnity, the excitement of Christmas and birthday mornings, and the sheer innocent love of a child for a grandparent...and I don't have to worry that child won't turn out right because of me.

I think grandchildren are a reward, and I'm so delighted I did something right to deserve them! Far from making me feel old, they make me feel young again as I remember their mother's childhood years, and I get to enjoy them over again.

And my second bit of happiness today is that it's Friday. TGIF! I'm sure people the world over feel the same way. Friday for me is a break in my everyday routine. Instead of writing and editing all day, I put in a mere hour or two. Then I grab my shopping list (and the cooler, if it's much above freezing outside) and get the groceries, stashing the perishables in the cooler. Then I meet my husband at his workplace, and we go out for lunch. It's become a tradition that we both look forward to, to mark the start of a weekend where we'll get at least a *little* free time.

How about you? What traditions do you have that bring you joy?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Gripes 1/18/10

Week two of Monday Gripes. And my first gripe is that I have to write about my gripes! Hah! But seriously...

Related to the current 8+ inches of snow that just fell with more coming, I have a gripe with the snowplow drivers. Now, I know they can't help but pile snow up against my mailbox or the end of my driveway when they go by. But how do they manage to come by the very second I've finished, when I'm leaning on my shovel and thinking, "Ah, a job well done!" and then they come by and plow me back under?

Do they have ESP? A secret spy scope to watch me? Do they have bets on how I'll react when they roll by and leave me with several more feet of snow to shovel? Or do they get a chuckle when I have heart failure from shouting and gesturing wildly?


And my second gripe for today is related, though it may not seem to be. So bear with me.

I have a lovely cat named Burt. He's friendly and likes to hang out with us as much as possible. And there's nothing he likes better than a warm lap to sleep on.

The problem is *when* he decides to get on my lap. He has the uncanny ability (like the snowplow driver...) to know when I'm about to get up, and THEN he gets on my lap. So then I have to pick him up and move him and he gives me an evil glare.

I've watched him do this time and time again. I'm not giving off any signals...he doesn't wait till I start to rise. But inevitably, I will have been sitting on the couch watching a movie for two hours and in the final sixty seconds of the movie, he jumps onto my lap.

So what do you think...are the snowplow drivers and my cat in league?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Happies

In conjunction with my new "Monday Gripes" column every Monday, where I share a few of my pet peeves and invite you to share yours, I'm also going to end the week on a happier note with Friday Happies. I'll try to share a couple of good thoughts, positive emotions, or great things that have happened to me. Things to be thankful for. And I definitely want to hear yours!

Although I didn't envision it when I came up with the idea for this column, I'm happy to be alive and living in a safe area. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti and the horrendous loss of life, I realize how lucky I am to not live in an earthquake zone--or in "Tornado Alley" as I used to--or any place threatened regularly by Mother Nature's violence. And I'm proud and happy to see American's quick response to the disaster, pouring money and medicine and workers into Haiti, to help get her back on her feet again. I'm very proud to be an American.

And I'm happy that my family is whole and healthy and happy, and most of my family lives nearby. That's a blessing I never take for granted, but especially so in times like these.

Next week I'll return to more mundane sources of happiness. :-) After all, one of my firm life beliefs is that you have to appreciate the little things, because 99% of the time, that's what your life is made up of. But today seemed like time to remember the big ones.

So, what makes YOU happy?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Gripes

I've decided to start a new weekly feature, "Monday Gripes." Each Monday, I'm going to post about a thing or two that really burns my toast. :-)

And naturally, I want to hear about the things that gripe YOU. So, here we go!

The first gripe I have for today is a grammatical one. You've heard it everywhere and no doubt it has just flown right over your head, since you're not an obsessive/compulsive editor like me. It's when people say "try and" instead of "try to." Examples:

We'll try and get there on time.
I will try and help you change your flat tire.
She'll try and make you an appointment.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! "Try and" implied you're doing two things at once, trying plus something else such as getting, helping, or making in the above examples. But what you're actually doing is trying TO do something--trying to get, trying to help, trying to make. So it should be:

We'll try to get there on time.
I will try to help you change your flat tire.
She'll try to make you an appointment.

If everyone who reads this will make that one small change, Liz will be a much happier camper!

My second gripe is something that happens to me all the time while driving. It seems there are many people out there who don't know how to MERGE. It happens all the time: I'm driving along an interstate or other limited access road, minding my own business. Someone drives up an on-ramp, much slower than the speed of the traffic they're trying to pull into, and simply, majestically, lumbers into my lane, forcing me to either speed up to get ahead of them, move into another lane, or, more likely, hit the brakes sharply to avoid rear-ending them.

This too is wrong, wrong, wrong.

When you're merging onto a highway, it is YOUR job to adjust your speed and merging so you move evenly into the flow of traffic, without causing said traffic to speed up, slow down, brake, or move to another lane. The ongoing traffic doesn't have to do anything; you're the one merging, it's up to you to make the adjustments.

There! I feel so much better now. Let me know what your Monday Gripes are, and we can commiserate! Happy Monday.