Saturday, November 25, 2023

Where’s all the people? Just a couple Thanksgiving photos (minus any people)

My brother-in-law Jim picked me up the night before Thanksgiving, and I got to enjoy the holiday with him & my sister Shawn, my niece Sophia and Jim’s son Michael, his wife Jessica and their two little boys 8 year old Caleb & 6 year old Isaiah. 

My sister had real pies of course, but her daughter-in-law Jessica’s pumpkin pie cookies were a big hit

On the trip there, Jim & I stopped at a McDonald’s to get dinner and I was shocked—I’ve been at Mickey D’s exactly one time in 21 years, and it felt like I’d fallen into a time warp and stepped into the future when we went inside. 

(I’m not kidding, I’m planning to do a blog about this.)

Anyway, I wanted to take some photos of everyone on Thanksgiving Day but people kept scooting out of my way or I got sidetracked.  Here’s a couple random shots, I hope everyone had a nice holiday!

Packing for my trip home, here are shoes I’ve bought just in the last six weeks.  I always prided myself on only owning two pair of dress shoes for work and a pair of sneakers, but now that I’m in my sixties…. bring ‘em on!

Thanksgiving morning, Jim & I went on a ride in the countryside and drove past my family’s old farmhouse (my family moved out 40 years ago). 

I was surprised how barren things looked—my dad’s large vegetable garden is gone of course, but so are the sheds out back, the apple tree in front, the dozen or so tall pine trees that circled the property

My sister’s country Thanksgiving table.  Doesn’t this look nice?
I feel guilty; my sister worked on this dinner from the crack of dawn and my only job was filling the cups!
And finally, as Dad used to say:  “Let’s commence to eatin’!”

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Photo of the Day: Can you guess which one is my niece Sophia?

This past weekend, my sister Shawn sent me this photo in an email without including a message.

I responded “Sophia looks prettier than ever, but I don’t like her ripped pants.”  

My niece is second from the left, and I’m well aware her jeans with the torn knees are what’s in style but I still want to sew big patches on them.  Wouldn’t they look cuter with big knee patches?

Shawn replied “I’ve always been mental about her shoes being clean and I’m glad they still are.”

I wrote back “Um what is this?” and Shawn answered “Drag Bingo.  I love how Sophia isn’t afraid to try new things.”

I suppose those ripped jeans aren’t so bad after all!   And on that note…


Saturday, November 18, 2023

Frasier may have left the building, but at least he’s back for a short visit

In the summer of 2016 when I made the ill-fated decision to move out of the city, I also decided to do some serious downsizing and gave away half of what I owned.  I donated over 300 hardcover books and half of my DVD collection to the Bellevue Library.

This was actually the very first thing I gave them, my complete set of Frasier, which aired on NBC from 1993 to 2004.  Looking back, I’m not sure why I did; I dearly loved this show.  Everything about it was brilliant—from the writing to it’s inspired casting (Frasier wasn’t even supposed to have a brother, one of the producers saw David Hyde Pierce and remarked his uncanny resemblance to Kelsey Grammer). 

As great as it was though, my second favorite thing about the show was his luxury apartment in the fictional Elliot Bay Towers in Seattle.  I used to record the show on my vcr, then pause it during replay just to study the artwork or the titles of the books on his bookshelves!

My favorite thing about the show though was the calls to my mom after every new episode.  She knew to expect my call the moment Kelsey began singing “tossed salad and scrambled eggs”, and we’d rehash that night’s story and laugh all over again. 

Sadly, Mom passed about 6 months after the final episode.

The reason I share all this now is because last night I laughed again at Frasier for the first time in a LONG time, and afterwards felt both relief and some heartache too.  The show was recently revived on Paramount Plus with much fanfare (they announced it was returning 3 years ago) but after 4 episodes I was greatly disappointed.  

USA Today wrote a pretty scathing piece about its revival and got raked over the coals by Frasier’s adoring fans; the paper was right though, the show was a turd.

And then last night (after putting it off for over a week) I watched the fifth episode and it was nothing short of awesome—they got it, they got that magic back!  Well, for this episode at least.  Frasier and his adult son Freddy are in Frasier’s Boston apartment, waiting on blind dates; when the first woman arrives, they’re both attracted to her but don’t know which Crane she’s there for, and instead of just asking…. I was howling.

Later when the second woman shows up, and Frasier confesses to Freddy he wants her too, his disgusted son remarks “Why don’t I just pretend to be your personal chef?  We’ll set up another table on the balcony, and try to fool both women into having dinner with you!”  Frasier pauses, stares into space like he’s mulling it over and says “You know, there was a time when I would’ve considered such a thing…”  My God I laughed so hard! 

I know it sounds silly, but if you were a fan of playwrights like Preston Sturges or Noel Coward, you’d enjoy this too. 

Okay, I thought I’d wrap this little lovefest up with 3 takes on Frasier’s apartment.  The first is from the original Frasier, complete with his dad’s ratty 1970’s recliner. 

The second is how designers imagine it would look today—pretty fancy stuff. 

The third is his apartment on the revived show, set in Boston.  I am digging that Rorschach wallpaper!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus—I know because I’ve got his red shoes

Here are my new red shoes, which arrived via UPS early yesterday.  Ho Ho!  I’m so tickled to have them, I keep pausing my television to go into the bedroom and look at them.  My gosh, aren’t they nice?

Even though they weren’t cheap (more on that later) I’m surprised at their quality—it’s top notch.  And they’re real leather too.

I know what you’re probably thinking—“You got a new pair of shoes, who gives a tinker’s damn!”  Well you’re right, but you have to understand two things:

  1. I’ve been looking for a pair of red running shoes for a long, long time.
  2. But I’m a freak of nature and have two platypus feet.

Does this sound normal to you?  For as long as I can remember, I’ve worn a size 9 1/2 shoe.  In my thirties, my shoes began hurting my feet so I tried a size 10; but they were no good, too loose but still hurt my feet in the front.

Eventually I learned about Wide shoes, and all was good again.  Then in my early fifties, the sides of my feet began feeling pinched again.  That’s when I discovered Extra Wide.  But those shoes can be limited in style & color; still, I made do.

And then in my sixties, I began to notice that Extra Wide was a 50/50 toss up.  Sometimes they fit, not always. 

(A few weeks ago I was with my sister Shawn at a Skechers store, half the 9.5 EW shoes hurt my feet.)

So I’m on my computer a couple weeks ago, and googled “it’s hard finding mens shoes that fit”, and found a discussion board where one guy was saying the exact same thing, and someone recommended he check out Propet shoes.  They specialized in extended sizes and widths, and shoes requiring orthotics.

I went to their website and began looking around, and that’s when I saw the red shoes.  In size 9.5, up to XX (5E).  Extra EXTRA Wide.  Yes!  

Still, they were $114.95 and I couldn’t bring myself to pay that much for a pair of shoes.  (I just got 2 new pairs of shoes a month ago—buy a pair, get one for free at Skechers.)  I looked at these daily though, and then a few nights ago they were discounted to $84.00 and I pounced on them.

But there’s magic in these ruby red sneakers:  I tried them on, they fit good… but I still wished they were 2% less snug.  I looked them up again on the website and saw someone asking if you could remove the insoles as they wanted to insert their own arch supports. 

Another person said yes but remember, Propet shoes also come with removable insoles under the main insoles if you needed more room.  They do??

Yep—I found and removed them from mine (the blue insole below).  And now they fit perfect.  I think I’m going to save these sexy red beasts for our senior center’s first outing in December, and wear them with a splash of Old Spice cologne.  Maybe they’ll work their magic on someone else too. ;^)


Friday, November 10, 2023

This thing we call life, and the cards we’re dealt—including the silly ones

Top:  Birthday cards from my second floor neighbor Sally, my sister Courtney & Robert, friends Danielle & Josh.  Bottom row:  My online friend Bobi (who included a retro cow magnet for my fridge), my friend & former classmate Diana, friends Chuck & Robin, my sister Shawn

I was talking to my Canadian friend Robin the other morning (who sent me that cool ‘black cats & bats’ Halloween card in the bottom row for my birthday a week ago), and was telling her I have a real problem throwing away cards.

She said she held onto cards for sentimental reasons and I said I did the same, like ones from my mom (who passed 19 years ago) as she always wrote such nice messages inside.  But even the ones I don’t keep, it pains me to toss them anytime soon.

There’s not many here, and of the few I got, half were a surprise; but I genuinely like the people who sent them and I feel fortunate to know them.  I’m fortunate, period.  I’ve got my health for the most part, my own place in a part of the world that isn’t torn apart by war, enough money in the bank to pay my bills and live comfortably.

Y’know, I feel silly for posting much of the things I do on my blog.  I worry about guns and climate change and Israel and Ukraine and the future of our country’s democracy like everyone else.  (At least I hope everyone else worries about these things.)  I just don’t feel the need to write about those things right now.  Maybe in the future, I don’t know.

For now I just want to thank the people who sent those cards above (and the cow magnet below) and the smart, funny readers who visit my blog.  That’s all!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

You people are safe from us older delinquents—well, for a month at least

A couple years ago (okay, 17 years ago) when Facebook was brand new and I was in my mid-forties, I posted a photo of myself in my new leather jacket on the main page.

At the time I was going through some sort of mid-life crisis, and wrote that after spending my entire life as a nerdy square, was I now too old to be wearing a black leather jacket?

Expecting a chorus of positive feedback to go for it, I got the following:

1) My friend Tracy asked if I was trying to look like the Fonz.

2) My friend Alex asked if I was wearing sweatpants below my jacket, I should consider wearing jeans.

3) My younger friend (and Photoshop expert) Eric added this pair of oversized undies to my photo.  Why?  Because the only panty-raids I’d be going on were for granny panties at the nursing home.

While his doctored picture began getting dozens of likes and LOLs and comments, I slunk away and debated hurling myself off my fourth floor balcony.  Oh the humiliation!  In the end I just laughed it off, what else can you do?

The reason I shared this middle age delinquent look back is because at the start of November when I received “Courtney’s Chit-Chat”  (a monthly newsletter from the senior center with 2 calendars—one for activities, the other a lunch menu) there was this special note on the main page:

It has been brought to our attention that members participating in group trips have not been respectful to ACCESS drivers and participating members. Please keep in mind that you are a representive of the center on trips. ACCESS can suspend individual members as well as suspend the center indefinitely from trips.  Due to multiple offenses, we are cancelling all November trips.  We do not condone bullying or disrespectful behavior. 

Group trips will pick back up in December with a chaperone.

What the—grounded!  Well, that sucked.  Hmm.. aside from two trips to the casino (and one to Oakmont Bakery when I was sick), I’d pretty much gone on all the other trips.  If I did something wrong, would they have let me know?  Did I see someone else do anything?

There is one woman in our group who makes a dash back indoors to whatever establishment we just came out of, when the Access shuttle pulls up to take us home.  I just chalked it up to a last minute bladder-check, but she usually takes several minutes and we’re not supposed to keep those Access drivers waiting.

Speaking of Access drivers, when we went on the Mt.Washington outing for lunch, several Access vehicles showed up to take us home.  One was a regular 4 passenger car, and this tall, elderly black man got out.  He said “I am lookin’ for someones named Janet—Pearl—and Douglas!”  

We all came over to his car and he said “Welcome aboard ladies—and fine gent!  They call me Crazy Roy!  Now who wants to ride up front with me!”   Pearl & Janet were already getting in the back seat, and I said “No, no—wait.  I want to know why they call you Crazy Roy.”

Janet (also black) said “Child, just get in the damn car!”  Crazy Roy tilted his head back and laughed.  He said “Because Mister Douglas, crazy things happen to me most everytime I get behind that wheel!” 

He has got to be kidding me.  I stood there for a minute, mentally getting my affairs in order then climbed in beside him.  No joke—this is a true story—not 10 seconds after Crazy Roy pulled away from the curb in front of the restaurant, some crazy-ass man jumped off the sidewalk in front of our car with his arms outstretched, dancing in place like a jiggly scarecrow.  Crazy Roy rolled down his window, stuck his head out and shouted “GET OUTTA THE LANE, FOOL!  I ALMOST RUNNED YOU OVER!”

As we got on our way, Crazy Roy said “See?  We’re good now, we got the crazy outta the way!”  I said “Pearl, as soon as we get back to the Tiffany please remind me to call Pittsburgh Cremation & Funeral Care—they’ve got a special going on right now for simple cremation, 1500 dollars.”  

Pearl laughed and said okay, Crazy Roy said “ARE YOU SERIOUS?  FIT-TEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS?  YOU GOT THE PHONE NUMBER?”   I said “Uh… not on me, why?”

Crazy Roy said “’Cuz yesterday was my 80th birthday!  I could go anytime!”

I guess I can live with being grounded for a few weeks.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Hot Dog People and green devilled eggs: what a difference a year makes

I’m sure everyone is pretty much Halloween’d out, but I wanted to share a few photos from the party at the PrimeTime Center this week.  It was such a fun time, with good people and good food, and a few too many treats.

There was cupcakes & candy galore, punch, cider, cheeses, crackers, meatballs, chips, dips and ghoulish green devilled eggs.  Those eggs were to die for... heh heh!

Three of the four women that run the center (Courtney, Elisa & Colleen) were dressed as giant hot dogs and hilarious, each in their own way.  They announced it was my birthday, and it was quite a thing, 50-60 people singing Happy Birthday.  A pretty wonderful experience.

Giant cobwebs (and tarantulas) cover the stained glass windows of the center

I say what a difference a year makes, because precisely one year ago, I spent my birthday at Mercy Hospital, undergoing drug trials for new BP & heart meds.  When I came home the next day, I had a severe gallbladder attack and wound up right back at Mercy Hospital!

Anyway, here’s a few photos of the festivities at the center this week.

“Say weiner!”  Elisa, Colleen (center) & Courtney looked great in those costumes, but Colleen’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” complete with hat & cane stole the show

  Earlybirds are settling in, pretty soon the center will be filled with young and old alike

I was served my favorite lunch, a jumbo sausage sandwich with onions & peppers, sauteed spinach and a watermelon and Feta cheese salad.   Did you notice that cupcake with the lit candle in the upper corner of the tray?

The Phantom of the Opera (Elisa’s long-time friend David Passeau) played organ music that varied from lighthearted to foreboding, depending on what was going on.  I love this guy!
I love this woman too, and I don’t even know her name!  Dressed as a giant Hershey bar (with a Hershey kiss on top), she won second prize in the costume contest. 
First Prize went to Ruthie, for her homemade Dalmation costume.  She’s a sweetheart (and I believe the oldest person there).

I was going to wear my Navajo serape from the Pow-Wow we attended a few weeks ago, but chickened out.  (I did wear a Pumpkin orange shirt and glowing ghost ring, at least!)  I’m just sorry I didn’t get more photos of the people or food, I went home holding my belly and groaning never again—so what’d I do the following day?  Went back and feasted on leftovers!

Courtney getting her second breath--a hot dog’s work is never done