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There’s been a #20beautifulwomen challenge going around on Instagram for some time now. You’re supposed to post a picture of yourself when you feel most beautiful and then tag 20 other women to participate. Literally these selfies are all up in my feed. I’m not a huge fan of selfies–either for myself or others. I don’t mind  people posting pictures of themselves but it’s hard for me to understand several times a day like there’s nothing else out there as important. I haven’t been tagged which either means that people know I don’t go for that nonsense or they don’t think I’m beautiful. I’ve been dreading possibly getting tagged and having to explain my aversion to having my picture taken. Surprisingly, maybe a third that are doing it say they dislike having their picture taken. That is hard for me to believe. They are some of the prettiest out there.

I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about this topic but the conclusions I came to surprised me. Some of the people who did the #20beautifulwomen challenge said things like “everyone is beautiful” or “all women are beautiful” or “we’re all beautiful”. I disagree wholeheartedly. NOT everyone is beautiful physically. There are a lot of unattractive or downright ugly people. Maybe not so much on Instagram but out in real life. You’ll see people that will make your skin crawl. A lot of the physically beautiful people are shallow or ugly inside which negates their beauty, at least in my eyes. Then there’s the people who you don’t consider beautiful at first but as you get to know them, you’re kind of struck by their beauty in every day things. Like their generosity or kindness makes them beautiful. Or how they care for their children with such love or how they handle customers or coworkers with so much humor and grace. Some people are beautiful on the outside, some are beautiful on the inside and some are beautiful inside and out.

I’ve tried to examine why I personally hate having my picture taken. It’s not just how I look physically. I don’t really think I’m ugly even though I’m overweight and have any number or imperfections. A large majority of pictures I have my eyes shut in which makes me look like a dork. That’s beside the point. I don’t like having that kind of attention where I know I’ll be judged. All this time I thought it was self-loathing. I don’t really like myself. I searched on WordPress under self-loathing and it has people who REALLY hate themselves and are into self-mutilation and self harm. That is so far from me. I don’t want to hurt myself in any way, shape or form. I appreciate the body I have and that I’m able to walk, talk and function as a normal person. I don’t take those things for granted. I do have constant feelings of self doubt. What it boils down to is  I don’t believe in myself.

Beauty is nothing more than confidence. If you are a confident person, you will come across as beautiful. You will project the image that you believe you are beautiful. You are in charge and know what you’re doing. Most of the time I feel like I’m posing as an adult. An imposter who is just winging it as I go through life.

I have a whole other post I need to write about being overweight and what that does to a person’s psyche. Especially a lifetime of being fat and all that goes with it. To shorten the story some, I’ll just say that I was fat since birth. As kids will, I was constantly teased and called Fatso. It made me cry. I cried a lot. I felt powerless over my weight and powerless over how others saw me. I was bullied by 3 different kids in our neighborhood, one included daily beatings. Society was different back then and it was just accepted. An older 6th grade girl got up in my face one day (about 2 inches away) on the school playground at recess. I wasn’t older than 3rd grade but may have been even younger. I didn’t know this girl from Adam and she felt the need to say, “You are so ugly.” Wow. It was unprovoked and I had no response. I just started to cry. Looking back, this girl was super homely herself but I would never go out of my way to hurt someone like that, even if it was true.

Obviously, I have gotten over the above incident and the majority of the other teasing and name calling. However, it did change me in a profound way. I became even shyer. I was a shy kid already and this just made me go into my shell more. I had friends but for the most part, I tried to blend into the woodwork. If someone felt the need to tell me I was ugly, I needed to not be seen. To stay out of the way and not make people have to look at me. When I got to Jr. High School (7th-9th grade), it was a new start and I rose above all this. I even became somewhat popular and loved school. This lasted until I went to High School.

Anyway, feeling that kind of judgement makes me self conscious about everything I do in public. To this day, I’m horribly self-conscious. I don’t know how to fix it. Even making someone wait behind me while I count out change in the checkout lane makes me nervous. I feel like I’m not worthy of holding them up. Or any number of things I might do in front of someone, I feel like even if they don’t say anything they are thinking bad things of me. I don’t talk about this but it is always there.

I don’t feel worthy as a human being a lot of the time. I avoid mirrors. I was raised without a lot of compliments. My dad never gave compliments and my mom was raised without getting them so for her, the best thing she could say was that I looked, “Clean from home.” My dad never told me he loved me which is par for his generation but it still made me insecure. My mom told me and I believed her. I always felt like parents are supposed to love you and when one of them can’t, it has to be my fault. Well, after my dad died, I figured out it had nothing to do with me. However, it still had been ingrained in me for my entire childhood. I would hear my dad talking about my acne or how I needed to lose weight. Even my mom wanted me to lose weight the worst way. I have never wanted to be loved for physical beauty. The Amish side of me wants to be loved because I’m a good person. My husband has told me I’m beautiful (once in a blue moon) but I have a hard time believing it. He also likes to tell me, “You’re such a good person.” I believe him but wonder why no one else notices.

After reaching adulthood, no one dared say outright how fat I was or call me Fatso. But I would catch people talking about me behind my back. Like in a bathroom stall at work. I almost had a panic attack when I heard 2 women I hardly knew talking about me and just picking me apart. They didn’t know I was in there and I stayed in there until they left so they never knew. These 2 women were about the same size as me, maybe a bit bigger. They dolled themselves up though with makeup and hairspray. I just didn’t measure up to their standards.

I don’t know how to love myself. Or even like myself. There’s parts of me that I like but not my looks. It wouldn’t matter if I lost weight, I would still feel the same way about myself. I know this because when I was younger, I did lose weight and I still had no confidence or self esteem.

I admit I am a bit jealous of those with high self esteem. Those that can look at themselves in a mirror and think they look fabulous. I’ve often wondered how everyone else gets such a high opinion of themselves. Do they give themselves pep talks daily? Tell themselves how wonderful they are if no one else will? There’s a woman about 650 lbs. on Instagram who people are constantly telling her “you’re so beautiful”. I don’t get it. I’m not saying she couldn’t be beautiful at that weight. I don’t know if they really mean it since to me, she’s not. But she acts like she believes it and agrees with them. I wouldn’t want people telling that to me unless they truly felt that way and even then it would make me uncomfortable.

There’s a book I heard about called “Unworthy: How To Stop Hating Yourself” by Anneli Rufus. If anyone’s read this and think it would help, let me know. Otherwise if you’ve gone through anything similar or know what steps to take to make me like myself, do tell. I’m all ears! In the meantime, I’ll be looking at all the selfies for the #20beautifulwomenchallenge and feeling left out and out of place. I should be used to it by now, I’ve had enough practice.

 

Pulling A Brian

I’ve been working on a post about the #20beautifulwomenchallenge. I put it down for a week due to being busy with life. I came back to it today and don’t know where I was going with it. So I’m putting it aside while I do a catch up post.

It’s never good news when the phone rings after 10 pm at night. That’s what happened on Wed. Feb. 4th. Greg answered the phone and I held my breath. It was his sister Linda calling to say that their brother Brian (who just turned 57 last month) fell down in his kitchen and was in the hospital. His wife had gone to bed and was calling to him and when he didn’t come to bed and didn’t answer, she came to check on him. He was lying in a pool of blood. Apparently, he passed out and didn’t even put his arms out to break his fall. He literally did a faceplant. He didn’t break his nose but had 5 skull fractures in his face. They took him to the hospital and he didn’t regain consciousness until like 3 am. He doesn’t remember anything and has a concussion. He spent a week in the hospital, a few days of it in ICU. Then on Wed. Feb. 11th he was discharged and sent to a nursing home! He needs all kinds of physical therapy. Basically relearning a lot of things. After a week there, he’s doing a lot better except for mastering how to eat with a fork. 2 things stuck out to me that I’ll probably never get the answers to: Did his glasses break? (maybe that’s part of how he cut his face) And What time do they go to bed?! The fact that all this took place and they got him to the hospital and alerted the family and it passed around to relatives, all by just after 10 pm?! He’ll be in the nursing home for at least 30 days since that’s what his insurance will cover. Now we say, “Be careful, you don’t want to pull a Brian.”

This is another example of how life can literally change in a matter of seconds. You can be doing fine and have something just terrible happen that can impact your life for months! A woman Greg works with tripped over her own feet in her kitchen and fell and broke her hip and elbow back in Nov. She’s almost 70 (yes, a lot of old people work with my husband. They just won’t ever retire!) and has been off work ever since. She had a hip replacement since the bone just shattered. About a year ago she had fallen in a parking lot while on work time and broke her wrist and was off work for a few months. Then another guy my husband worked with in a different dept. fell out off a ladder last June. He was trimming a tree and in a split second he lost his balance and fell off. He broke his back, legs and at least one arm. He came in after the first of the year to put in his notice that he was retiring. He’d been off since the accident. Plus everybody knows someone who had a horrific car accident that changed their lives.

It really gives a person pause to think of all this. I’m overly careful as it is but can you ever be TOO careful?! Apart from living life in a bubble, there are plenty of things that can and do go wrong. Now I’m going to go back to finish the other post before something dreadful happens! ;-)

 

The Curiosity Shop

Before noon, we had an 11" snow cake.

Before noon, we had an 11″ snow cake.

Now is the perfect time to sit down and write a blog post since we’re in the middle of a blizzard. It is so eerily quiet when it’s snowing that hard and for that long. No one is on the roads or even the sidewalks. We had about a foot of snow by noon and 17″ by 6 pm.  They’re predicting several more inches in the next 12 hours or so. Everyone is huddled indoors watching the Super Bowl but we’re not. Hubby had to work and our football team isn’t playing so we’re skipping it this year. Hubby just got home and is snowblowing the driveway and sidewalks. It’s windy so it’s drifting very badly. He’ll probably have to do it again tomorrow morning before he leaves for work. I got outside in the backyard a bit this morning to play with the dogs but it’s bitter cold too.

Elvis in the snow.

Elvis in the snow.

Amber loves snow.

Amber loves snow.

Ivy hates snow.

Ivy hates snow.

On Valentine’s Day, it will be 2 years that we’ve been actively going to estate sales. I know winter is the slowest time of the year for sales but this is the worst I’ve seen. We only hit one estate sale on Thurs. and one on Sat. Since we had a bit of free time on Thurs. and were in Chicago, we made a point to go to Andersonville (the neighborhood) to Woolly Mammoth. That’s an oddities shop that I found on Instagram. They have a lot of taxidermy animals and all around odd stuff. Basically, right up our alley! They’re open noon until 7 pm. We got there right at noon and the owner arrived right behind us ready to open the store.

Inside the wonderland called Woolly Mammoth.

Inside the wonderland called Woolly Mammoth.

Love this helmet & mortar shell lamp.

Love this helmet & mortar shell lamp.

Xray reader and framed wishbones.

Xray reader and framed wishbones.

We spent an hour walking around admiring everything and talking to Skye. She and her husband have owned it for 5 years and she also works full time and travels internationally for her job. I was as impressed with her as I was with the place. They are both artists and it shows. They have such a creative mindset. They’ve made use of every square inch of the building which is part museum, part curiosity shop. We didn’t end up buying anything because the prices were higher than we’re used to. I don’t begrudge them charging them though. They have unique items and sell to a niche market who will gladly pay to acquire pieces for their collections. Someday I’d like to go back, especially if they have a sale. :-) I encourage anyone who’s in the area to stop by and browse around like we did.

Fish and pool playing frogs.

Fish and pool playing frogs.

Part art museum, part freak show.

Part art museum, part freak show.

I want to take the wallaby home.

I want to take the wallaby home.

We had one more hour of paid street parking so I looked up (on Yelp) if there were any antique stores in the area. About 2 blocks away on Clark St., there were at least 6! We only made it to the first one. Brownstone Antiques has been around 20 years and it is the exact opposite of Woolly Mammoth. Everything looks like it has barely made it in the door and they put it in the first open spot they found. Usually on top of a several foot high pile of other things. There’s a path down the middle to walk and another path about halfway up another side and then it’s blocked by furniture. This is a digger’s dream. Nothing is grouped together, you have to search to find anything. If you’re a pirate, this is where the treasure is buried! ;-) Some things have price tags, a lot doesn’t. I found some jadeite bowls, a couple of hand vases and 2 crosses. If we’d had more time, we would’ve found more. There was a huge pile of ephemera that I simply love looking through. Like old postcards and photographs. I like to get a huge box or bag full for a cheap price (like $5-10) and “play with” them. I don’t even look at them until I get home. I’m not sorting them and picking out the good ones in the store. I would just grab a bunch or let the owner grab a bunch and shove them in a bag. I asked him about that and he said he’d have to go through each one individually and then he’d give me a price for the whole lot. I said I don’t have time to look through them myself so I had to pass. :-( I especially love seeing someone’s whole life in pictures. You get an idea of what the person’s life was like and their personal history.

Brownstone Anttiques. Looking towards front door.

Brownstone Anttiques. Looking towards front door.

Looking deeper into the store.

Looking deeper into the store.

Now I’m excited to get back to Chicago and check out the other antique stores. This probably won’t happen for months but it’s fun to dream about on a snowy winter day. ;-)

 

Oh Deer

As I alluded to in my Ringing In The New Year post, we had some unexpected excitement and fun on our vacation. On Wed. Dec. 30th (2 days before we left), Greg was walking the dogs behind Hollywood Casino in Tunica. He was crossing over the levy and found quite an attractive deer ass. Not attached to a deer! Just the tail and skin/fur surrounding the rear portion. He came back to tell me about it and it just sounded too strange (code word for interesting for me) that I had to go see it for myself. So we walked back over there with the dogs and I saw it. It was like the rump of the deer had been scalped. I was wondering where the rest of the deer was. The remaining deer body couldn’t have been eaten bones and all, could it?!
Deer butt

Deer butt

We were on the edge of the woods and I saw something a few feet away so I walked over. Sure enough, there was the head of the deer with a nice rack (antlers). It was completely intact, only a bit of the nose had been picked at. It was a substantial specimen with the bloody spine still attached. It was minus all meat and picked cleaner than baby back ribs at a cookout. Once again, I wondered where the rest of the deer was. It couldn’t have all gotten “et” (southern for eaten). A few feet beyond that were 2 of the hooves and parts of those 2 legs. Later we found the stomach (full of waste) on top of the levy a little further down. That was all that remained from such a huge, prideful and gentle creature.
Hooves

Hooves

We always see deer when we’re down at this RV park. They venture out of the woods at dusk and later. There’s a whole community of them since we’ve seen up to 9 of them at a time. There had been one large one that had come very close to our campsite, into a different field and had been showing up there every night around midnight. Greg had seen it when he’d take the dogs out at night. This one would show up alone and didn’t seem to be as afraid as the others. It would let them get within 50 feet and not run away. We have a great respect and love for these majestic creatures. To find one dismembered gave us pause.
Dead animal FTW.

Dead animal FTW.

So many things went through my mind. Naturally, the first thing I thought of was: this is what happens in a horror movie! ;-) People stumble upon dismembered animals and then are the next to be torn to shreds by some unknown creature in the woods. Ha ha. It was amusing to entertain the thought until it started getting dark. ;-) Hubby’s first thought was: Treasure Hunting: Mississippi Edition. Some people can hunt (with a gun) for years and never bag this kind of trophy! Also what better thing to just come across at random that people pay lots of money for–a deer head mount. We already have 2 antelopes we got at an estate sale hanging in our upstairs hallway on either side of a huge sailfish. We can totally appreciate the beauty in God’s creatures and are all about recycling and repurposing things. Also cleaning up the environment.
Found in the woods

Found in the woods

My hubby doesn’t believe in fate but there are times that I do. This was one of them. It just seemed meant to be. Or at least that’s how I fantasized it up in my mind. After looking at it, I took a bunch of pictures and we went back to the RV. We had to talk about it and see how to proceed. Greg is always worried about getting in trouble. Probably because in the state we live in (Illinois), you can’t do anything without a license or permit. So hubby was on his way to the police station to ask them if it would be ok if we just took the head. He ran into a sheriff in the parking lot and asked him. He said he saw nothing wrong with it but gave him the phone number for the DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources). He called and that guy said he thought it was ok but to call the game warden. So Greg called the game warden and he was fine with it. So we gathered a few tools (hammer and pocketknife) and a couple of black garbage bags and went back.
Good eatin'.

Good eatin’.

As we were returning to the scene, we saw a huge bird of prey flying away. Maybe that’s who had been eating on the nose. We knew we had to work fast since it would be dark in less than an hour. I held the dogs and tried to videotape Greg at the same time. This was my first time using my new iphone 6+ so it was shaky plus I kept getting distracted by the dogs. Greg used both the hammer and knife to try to separate the skull from the spine. It didn’t happen easily. Finally he started twisting the head and kept turning it until it snapped. This is how serial killers start. Then we took pictures of each of us holding up the head. Yes, we’re barbarians. He put the head in one of the bags. Then I was trying to convince hubby to get the legs for a table. He tried for a minute and said it was too hard. I don’t think his heart was in it. He did humor me when I said I wanted the deer ass though. That tail is so cute and if we could figure out how to taxidermy it, it would be adorable hanging on the wall. I’m not as sick as I sound, I promise.
Hard at work.

Hard at work.

I don’t know too many wives that would get this excited about finding a dead animal. The best things in life are free. Hubby and I were both almost giddy. We were making jokes as we walked back with our pirate’s booty. insert reference to the tv show Dexter about a serial killer who would’ve loved this.
Head and spine.

Head and spine.

After getting back to the RV, I set about researching how to clean the skull. Apparently there are several methods. Some include chemicals, others involve bugs that eat away the flesh (shudder) and others call for boiling the skull and scrubbing it away with a steel brush. EW! Not what I expected. On tv they always show rednecks doing taxidermy. How hard can it be?! Well, if you’ve never done it before…VERY HARD. It’s out of our skillset. But we’re not giving up. We are going to give it a try in Spring. (Spring is the mythical timeframe before Someday.) It will take us that long to gear ourselves up to do it.
Victory.

Victory.

In the meantime, what’s the status of our find? It is frozen and sitting under snow on the side of our house. This is a fenced in area, not accessible to the dogs. We have nothing in there now at all. It never gets any sunlight and is always wet. Almost an unholy place. I’ve been trying to talk hubby into putting down some large patio blocks since it’s too muddy for grass or a garden. We’ve tried both with no luck. Once the patio block is in, I want to use it for storage.
Nice rack.

Nice rack.

Worst case scenario? We screw it up and have to throw out the free deer. Best case scenario? We have some radically cool souvenir from our trip. I think it’s a risk worth taking. I will have to document the rest of the adventure in pictures. :-)

 

I thought I would get back here sooner but instead I’ve been dealing with more of life’s curveballs. Hubby’s days off are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We realize we are blessed to have these as they are the best days of the week to have off. Even so, they can still suck. The weekend before last was not good and it’s gone downhill from there. Thursday Jan. 15th, we went to 2 estate sales that were “ok”. We took it easy, knowing we’d be out and about on Sat. We decided to do all our errands on Friday. That means running to the CVS pharmacy to get a prescription refill. We also asked about another prescription that they didn’t have the proper strength of last month and of course, they don’t have it again. Even though we told them to make sure it was in. Which means we had to go back again the following weekend to get them, holding our breath with our fingers crossed. Not a big deal.

Then we went to Sam’s Club. Hubby’s tires on his 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee are bald. We decided to bite the bullet and get all 4 tires at once. There was a sale of $80 off when you buy 4. Hubby’s Jeep has 72,000 miles and he’s gotten a replacement set once before. Not just due to driving but towing when we go RVing. Better safe than sorry, especially this time of year when the roads can be slippery. We went right to the automotive and dealt with the nice guy who helped us last May when I got a battery replacement on my car. They were out of stock on the specific tires that Greg wanted, even though they showed online that they were in stock. The other brand they had that would work were over $25 more PER TIRE. So even though we were all ready to get them put on that day, we had to order them and wait for them to get in. Which means that we had to go back again the following weekend to get them installed. We had to do a major stock up at Sam’s Club on groceries so we loaded up and went home. At least we’ve got good stuff to eat for the next few weeks.

On Saturday Jan. 17th, we were going to hit a few estate sales to make up for the underwhelming 2 days prior. We go out and get in the Jeep and it won’t start! It won’t even crank. No lights or anything. Hubby tries it a few times but no luck. Meanwhile, my car’s battery is dead since I haven’t driven it in a few months. I don’t get out during the week because I’m home with Mom. But I do want to have a working car in case of an emergency or if I need to get to the store for something. So hubby called AAA. When the guy pulled up, hubby tried starting his Jeep and it started right up. It was crazy. Some type of electrical glitch. The guy jumped my car but said it needed to be on a trickle charger. So hubby put it on there all day and it started right up. Meanwhile, the guy talked Greg into going to his shop to get his Jeep checked out. He did and was gone for 2 hours. They couldn’t replicate the problem! He has a AAA battery in his so they charged him nothing. Still, it was a lot of time lost. We never did get out on Saturday, except to walk the dogs a bit.

Monday Jan. 19th was the Martin Luther King holiday and hubby had off. So we were going to make up for the crummy weekend. I was going to get Mom’s battery in her watch replaced. At the last minute before leaving, I had hubby call the jewelry store to see if they were open. Wouldn’t you know it, they were closed?! So then we were going for dog food. The dogs were completely out of food. That never happens. We always bought them premium Blue Buffalo dog food and I mixed 2 flavors together so they’d have a nice variety. Now we’ve gotten so lazy that for a few months we’ve just been buying Rachael Ray’s Nutrish dog food at the grocery store. They seem to like that as well and it’s a lot cheaper. We were going to go back to Petsmart to get the good stuff this time.

I thought it would be great for me to drive my car over to Niles, IL where the store is. It would get driven and we’d kill 2 birds with one stone. Well, my car drives like a dream. It was so wonderful to drive it again. It was empowering! Then as we were nearing the strip mall the store is in, someone turns right and then stops halfway. They are sticking out in the lane and I had to put the brakes on extra hard. Whoops. Wouldn’t you know the brake line snapped? All of a sudden, I had no brakes. This is a congested area where there are a ton of cars and lots of traffic. Luckily, I don’t drive super fast and keep a good distance from the car ahead of me. So then I had to figure out where to pull in so that I could coast to a stop. There was literally NO BRAKES. I was afraid if I tried to pull into a crowded parking lot, I would just keep going and hit another car. So I passed the strip mall and went up to the next 2 turns. I saw there wasn’t as many cars in the Toys R US parking lot so went in and coasted over to the empty side of the lot. I went in sideways so I had some room. If I had tried to park inside the lines, I might have just rolled out into the street.

Hubby sat in the driver’s seat and then checked the brake fluid. He said it was low, not empty. So we just happened to be next door to an Auto Zone so he went in and bought brake fluid. He poured it in and that made no difference. In fact, then we could see the fluid just SQUIRTING out from under the back seat on the driver’s side. So then Greg called AAA and we waited for a tow truck. I’d never had my car towed before but it has to go on a flatbed. That was interesting. The guy they sent was about 22 years old and was in no hurry. We had to ride up front with him and had him drop the car (and us) off at McGarry’s shop in Park Ridge, IL. We’d gotten the brake line on the other side replaced a few years ago. The repair place said it would take all week for them to even get to it. We walked home the 8 blocks from the repair shop and then drove over to the grocery store for the dog food again. So we didn’t get out anywhere on Monday either. I guess it’s a blessing that we weren’t on our way to get Mom’s watch battery. The parking at that place is even worse and the parking spaces are facing into the building. I could just see making a big turn into there and finding out that the brakes went out. I would’ve been one of those people you see on the news all the time that drives right into a building. Sheesh!

My Pontiac on flatbed

My Pontiac on flatbed

Today we went to pick it up before Greg left for work. They had quoted us $450 which is close to what it came to. The bill was originally $483 but I actually remembered to ask if they gave a discount for AAA. They did which was a nice benefit. One thing we learned from all this is even if we go YEARS without using AAA, it’s a lifesaver to have it. You never know when you’re going to use it twice in 2 days! We seem to a have a problem common to many people. That we’re never really able to get ahead. With the unexpected expenses of my car’s brakes and getting new tires for Greg’s car, we are forever back to square one. I have to be thankful that things turned out as they did since it could have been SO MUCH WORSE.

“All’s well that ends well.” I used to hear that saying a lot when I was a child. I never really knew what it meant. It seemed like nonsense to me. Now I can safely say I know what it means and it applies to this situation perfectly. :-)

Happy New Year to all my readers and friends who are checking in to see what I’ve been up to. :-) We did decide to forgo putting up a Christmas tree at home for spending the holiday in Tunica, MS again. We got back the evening of New Year’s Day and I’m still playing catch up with everything at home. I’ve got laundry going as I sit down to write this and will be making Cottage Cheese Chicken Enchiladas later. Today is the Packers playoff football game but since hubby is working, we’ll watch it tonight after he gets home.
Hubby grows a beard every winter!

Hubby grows a beard every winter!

Hubby had his work Christmas party on Wed. December 17th. It was also a going away party for one of the lawyers in his office who was taking a job in Hawaii. Hubby volunteered to decorate the tables and rooms for the party so I helped him pick out items for the display. We both like doing that and we used a combination of Christmas and Hawaiian items. I baked 4 dozen peanut butter cookes and 2 1/2 dozen Russian Tea Cakes. I made both from my mom’s 1950 Betty Crocker Cookbook. Everything in there is really the best. There were only a few cookies left and we ended up bringing them along on our trip.
The Babes--pay no attention to my double chin.

The Babes–pay no attention to my double chin.

We left Thurs. December 18th and spent the first night behind the Resorts Casino in the parking lot. Then checked in at Hollywood Casino RV Park for 13 nights. So we were there a total of 2 weeks and it was quite enough! We had planned to come home on Friday Jan. 2nd but the weather was turning bad with snow expected. We decided to get out a day early and beat the elements. That meant staying up until 1 am and then getting up at 7 am to get ready to leave. There is no way I’ll ever agree to spend New Year’s Eve in bed sleeping. Last year we’d been over at the casino at midnight, gambling and in jolly good spirits. This year, Mom had no desire to be in the casino and I wasn’t about to leave her alone then. So Greg & I spent New Year’s Eve watching music videos on YouTube! It was actually a lot of fun! My very favorites are Psy’s “Gangnam Style” & “Gentleman”, Pitbull’s “Timber”, Jessie J.’s “Bang Bang” and ALL of the videos by Ylvis (2 Norwegian brothers) most famous for “What Does The Fox Say.” Mom had fallen asleep on the couch across from us and we woke her to wish her Happy New Year and then I put her to bed.
Me & the dogs. Never far apart.

Me & the dogs. Never far apart.

Aside from one event a day and a half before we left (which I’ll be writing a separate blog post about), this vacation was rather boring. Greg calls it peaceful. It was a lot colder than Thanksgiving so I didn’t get outside as much. Greg still managed to get the dogs out for long walks and I went a few times. There was like 3 days straight of rain in the middle of the 2 weeks. We did hardly any gambling. We went several days without playing any slot machines at all. We watched a lot of movies on Netflix which was fun. We don’t manage to do that at home like you’d think we would. We also did some reading. I finished D.H. Lawrence’s “Sons & Lovers” which I thought was really good. Then I started “Women In Love” and am halfway through and find it dull. I’m going to finish it because I expect it to get better at some point!
Here's your Christmas Card!

Here’s your Christmas Card!

Over Thanksgiving, we got our entire stay comped in the RV park which was nice. Plus our meals free. This trip we had to pay for 9 out of 13 nights but it was cheaper to do that than gamble a lot. We also had to buy about 5 meals that were $5-7 each which isn’t bad at all. We had brought an extra gallon of milk along so didn’t need to go shopping once while there! Sadly, we now feel like we’ve worn it out there. Maybe we’ll feel differently after a few months pass. Things have changed so much since we first started going to Tunica. They used to decorate so opulently in the casinos that it would almost take your breath away to behold. Now you wouldn’t even know it’s Christmastime! They no longer play Christmas music, they don’t put up a Christmas tree anywhere or decorate at all that we could tell. They put up a huge toy train at 2 places but it could have been for any time of year. People used to dress up (at least a bit) for the holidays and wear fancy sweaters or dress shoes, etc. Now people are going around in pajama pants and hoodies. In public. To eat Christmas dinner. I had brought along some dressy clothes to wear but when I saw that, I didn’t even bother putting them on. The casinos in Tunica used to give away gifts like it was going out of style. We’d get blankets, a coat, hat, a watch, champagne glasses, you name it. Now they don’t give away anything! They do have drawings and things for winners but not to people just for showing up. It’s not like we need anything but it makes it fun. One of the biggest casinos went out of business last June. Greg thinks the rest are headed that way. It’s sad to see change when it’s not for the better.
Popsicle Art. Found in a Mississippi parking lot.

Popsicle Art. Found in a Mississippi parking lot.

We ate a lot of good southern food on the trip. Then since I’ve come home, I’ve been making a ton of cold weather meals to keep us going. As soon as we got home, the temperatures sunk down to zero with windchills 25-30 degrees below zero. They cancelled schools in Chicago for 2 days this week. It’s been too cold to walk the dogs so I’ve been home bound. I’ve made chili twice, banana bread and chicken noodle soup.
Mississippi Sunset.

Mississippi Sunset.

Wed. Jan. 7th, Mom had a bout of diarrhea. It was only a 1 day bug type thing. It doesn’t help that she can’t tell me when she feels it coming on. I have to read her body language and keep asking her if her stomach is bothering her. She doesn’t move too fast so even if I help her to the bathroom (which I do every time she goes now), she’s likely not to make it in time. She also doesn’t seem to comprehend what it is because she puts her hands right in it like it was something to play with. Gah! She went through 3 pairs of under and outer pants before I wised up and put her in diapers for the day. By then it was better and by the next day, gone completely. When I put her in diapers, I kept wondering if that’s how the elderly end up in diapers 24/7. One good (?) thing from the trip is that I was with her day and night so FINALLY her leg healed! The one she had skin ulcers on and would pick until it bled. I kept it wrapped even though it was healed. Then after we came home, a few days later, I was in the kitchen cutting vegetables and came to check on her. She was picking her leg and had got it bleeding again. :-( It was so disheartening to me. She doesn’t care one way or the other but I felt like all my hard work was in vain. It is almost healed up again but I can’t be with her (hovering over her) every second! I have to be able to leave the room to use the bathroom myself, fix meals, do laundry, let the dogs outside, etc. If I had it to do over, I’d get a baby monitor so I could hear what’s she up to. As soon as I heard movement or rustling, I would hustle in there and catch her before she could do any damage. It doesn’t do any good to tell her to leave it alone or even explain at length WHY she needs to not touch it.

Now comes the hard part of the year. The next 3 months of the year are filled with isolation. More than the rest. Looking out at the snow on the ground, it’s so pretty but also has a bleak quality that leads one to a feeling of emptyness. I don’t know how much treasure hunting hubby and I will do. There were some this past weekend but we felt it was too cold to bother with. I guess we’re not hardcore enough. I’m sure the estate sales still had people going no matter the weather. In the meantime, I’m going to get more items listed for sale on Etsy and surround myself with things I love to get me through winter.

I have no New Year’s Resolutions. Just to get through one day at a time with my sanity intact. This was the first Christmas since I started sending Christmas cards (at about age 12) that I didn’t send any! It was one tradition I wanted to keep up. I thought it would be the be-all and end-all if I didn’t do it. Between running the home business, taking care of Mom, packing for the trip and baking for the Greg’s Christmas party, I just didn’t have time to make them, let alone address them. I’ve got to say, it didn’t bother me as much as I expected it too. I actually felt ok that I didn’t force myself to add that as another burden. In recent years I’d send out 35 and get maybe 15 if I was lucky. It seemed like so few. Now I didn’t send any and got around 15. It seemed like so many! Ha ha. I’m not saying I won’t send them next year. I might! At this old age, I’m learning things don’t have to be set in stone. I’d like to say I’m going to learn to sew and knit this year but don’t want to add any more pressure to myself. My motivation is at an all time low. What do you do for inspiration?

 

I’ve noticed that not being able to get online to blog makes me crabby. At least that’s what I’m blaming it on. ;-) I decided to just take a few minutes for myself to send out a quick update. I know my readers are running the risk of turning blue from holding their breath, waiting for some words to show up on this page.

We had a vacation to Wisconsin in October over the Columbus Day holiday that I haven’t even posted about. We hit our usual (Black River Falls) and threw in some Wisconsin Dells for good measure. I wanted so badly to write about it and title it “Wisconsin Death Trip” after a book I want to find. That was a decent, low key trip that had us going to a few antique malls in those areas for a change of pace. We ate most of our meals in the RV and did a lot of reading of antique books. Not too different from the previous vacation but relaxing all the same.

We got back from our yearly voyage to Tunica, MS on Friday Nov. 28th. I can’t believe we went. This was our 17th Thanksgiving spent there. Yet this was the first one where we almost didn’t go. It is a tradition we decided upon back in 1998 and there is never a question that’s where we’ll spend that holiday. This year we got a ton of extremely cold weather and even snow about 6 weeks earlier than normal. We were wimping out and afraid we’d be miserable and too cold. Basically, we were talking ourselves out of going. Up until 2 days before, we didn’t know if we’d go. Then hubby and I both got the urge to stick to our tradition. I knew if we broke it, we’d never go again for the holiday. We might go other times of the year, but that would be it for Turkey Day.

So we went and I’m so glad we did. Nothing extraordinary happened. Scratch that. In the wee hours of the Wed. morn before Thanksgiving, there was a rap on the door after 1 am!! Talk about scaring the crap out of us. Someone had come into the RV site next to us (backing in their rig) after midnight which is highly unusual. It makes a lot of racket. We just got settled down in bed again and got the dogs quieted and then this knock. It was security asking if we’d seen a woman who was missing. He showed Greg a copy of her driver’s license picture. He said no, he hadn’t seen her and closed the door. They proceeded to go on and wake every living soul in the RV park up! It never made sense to me because they never told in what context this woman was missing. Like if she was abducted, would someone who had her in their RV, say that?! No. The next day the cops and FBI were all over the RV park and field behind it. Remember this is the field that I’d complained about in the past that they’d left full of garbage for months after a concert?! Well, the field was now empty and we love walking the dogs there. It’s next to the golf course and we find all kinds of golf balls. We went walking and got stopped and told we couldn’t walk there because they were looking for someone and we might contaminate the crime scene! Yet there was no crime tape, etc. They had canines and officers out on ATVs driving around. Later on we saw Memphis’ news van there. So we watched the news on Wed. at 6 pm and saw that they’d found the woman. She was an employee at Resorts casino and had disappeared sometime on Tues. Her family reported her missing. They had looked at the closed circuit tv tape and saw her walking behind Hollywood casino which is where they were looking for her. Guess where she was found?! In a bathroom stall at Hollywood! So basically all that searching in the field was for nothing. They took her out in an ambulance so we’ll never hear the whole story. I’m glad she was found but that was just crazy.

A few good things happened like the gas being the cheapest it’s been in YEARS. We paid $2.51 a gallon down from over $4 a gallon. That makes a huge difference in what it costs to travel. It wasn’t as cold as we’d expected but it wasn’t too warm either. It used to be in the 70’s when we’d be there but now it’s in the 40’s and 50’s. We can handle that since it beats the teens and 20’s. We got all our meals for the week free. We had usually one buffet a day. I came home and my jeans are so tight, it’s disgusting. I ate a salad as often as I could but of course, that isn’t all I ate. We gambled the bare minimum. Not even every day. We did manage to get Mom out just about every day and she & I gambled together when we did gamble. That way I could keep an eye on her. 2 days after we got there she said “Let’s go home!” which kind of broke our hearts. When Greg asked her where home was, she said, “Mora, Minnesota”. That’s the town she grew up on and hasn’t lived in in 70 years. When we asked her where she thought we were (in MS), she said, “Red Wing”. Which is also in MN but we haven’t gone there in over 10 years. She did ok for the trip and now we have to decide if we want to go back for Christmas. I doubt it but we’ve been known to make these rash decisions at the last moment. ;-)

One of the fun things Greg & I did was on Monday Nov. 24th, we went to an estate sale in Bartlett, TN. A suburb of Memphis and about an hour from where we were staying. We set Mom up with the games on the ipad and took off. In all the years we’ve been going down there, we’ve never went to an estate sale. It was different from here and the prices seemed higher. It was still fun and exciting and I still found some treasures. I got 4 decoupage art pieces made by Jake Casey who’s an actor. He had lived in the house and was now in rehab. The creative art pieces are on stretched canvas and remind me of what I might have done when I was young. Cut out pictures and words glued on to striking effect. I will have to photograph them and share them when I have more time. They had several religious pieces I loved but were too expensive. I could weep over a huge floor standing candle holder that held at least 64 candles! It was “only” about $360 but I just couldn’t do it. Or rather Greg would’ve had a cow if I’d paid that.

Saturday we spent the afternoon putting up the Christmas lights outside. We put a bunch of red and white blinking lights on the bush in front. Then a strand of round gold bulbs around the door frame. Then blue lights on the tiny Christmas tree outside. We started doing the 2 wrought iron banisters going up to the front door but it got too cold. Looks like this Thurs. we’ll be doing more decorating. We kind of have to decide if we’re putting up a tree this year or not. We had a good time with it last year but don’t know if I’m up for it again SO SOON. As I’ve said before. I’d like Christmas so much better if it only came every 5 years!!

A few weeks before we left for vacation, I made a turkey and all the trimmings. It doesn’t have to be a holiday for us to eat good. It fed us for a couple of weeks until we left. It was on sale for 48 cents a lb. so I couldn’t pass it up. When we got home this weekend, they had fresh turkeys for 39 cents a lb. So we got another and I cooked it on Sunday! As much as I enjoyed eating out down south, there is nothing like homemade. I didn’t get any pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving since the casino buffet didn’t have it. They had sweet potato pie which isn’t the same. So yesterday I made a pumpkin pie! This is the kind of stuff keeping me busy. Just day to day life, caring for Mom, cooking, washing dishes, selling things on Etsy, etc.

When we got home on Friday, an electrical breaker had thrown a week earlier and nothing had taped on our tv. That was so sad! I don’t watch hardly any tv on vacation because I like the break away from it. However, I love my tv and looked forward to coming back to it. We found a few of the shows on YouTube but some are just gone forever. Like the season finale of Dancing With The Stars! Nothing like watching all season and not finding out who won.

Aside from finishing all the holiday decorating, we still have to make a Christmas card. That’s another tradition I don’t want to break. We tried to take a pic of the dogs all together on the couch in the RV for a Christmas card shot. It turned out so terrible. I may end up scanning in a vintage Christmas card to send out. I love the old cards and never tire of looking at them. We also have to get Elvis to the vet in the next week or so for his vaccinations. Plus I’ve got so much laundry that if I don’t start it soon, we’ll be out of clean underwear. :-( You can see where my priorities are. I’d rather sit here in dirty undies and blog than have clean ones and not blog. #kidding

I hope to get back here soon for a more thoughtful post instead of just rambling. A sign on the road on the way coming home read, “Rough road ahead Next 3 miles”. It made me think of something I made up years ago as a joke. I always thought it would be funny if there were real signs that pertained to everyone’s lives as they go along. Like “Rough life ahead Next 30 years”. Who knew then that jokes like that actually come true?! :-D

 

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