Laments About Arthritic Adventures

8 Tips for Personal Holiday Fulfillment

Sure-fired Ways to Get the Gifts You Want

8 tips for personal holiday fulfillment

Halloween has come and gone. I’d better get started with my holiday gift list or I’ll be in big trouble. I’m not talking about my holiday gift-giving list. I’m talking about my gift-getting list. Oh, let’s be honest. It’s my “Really, Really Want, Gotta Have, Pretty Please, Will You Get Me This” list.

All year I’m on the hunt for perfect Christmas, Hanukkah, birthday and “just because” gifts for family, friends, and colleagues. I even buy “unbirthday” gifts for attendees at birthday parties, because I love shopping for others. I am such a dedicated gift shopper, that when my children were growing up, we celebrated the “birthdays” of their stuffed animals. Any excuse for cake, ice cream, new book purchases and gift bags!

But come the holidays, my “give unto others” spirit makes a U-turn. I lust for carefully curated payback from loved ones in the form of “just right” gifts for me.

And who better to pick what’s “just right” than me?

If you’re honest, deep in your heart, you’re a tiny bit like me. Admit it. You’ve endured a few too many years of ill-gift-gotten-gain in the form of toaster ovens, fuzzy slippers, and hand-held vacuum cleaners.

So, in the spirit of female solidarity, I offer these eight tips to make your holidays (plus Mother’s Day and birthdays) brighter and your gifts better. Read more

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Cats Make Me Scratch

Cat Lovers Are Unconvinced

cat scratch makes woman allergic

I wanted this blog to be positive, free of fiery and fierce political rhetoric. I did not want to make it a forum for hate speech or rigid doctrinaire policy statements.

In the interests of free speech, I even let a friend post a “Go Cleveland” comment in response to my “Go Golden State Warriors” essay. That’s how fair-minded I am!

But the time has come for me to take a stand. I need to state for the record – clearly and loudly: Please believe me. Please accept that I really am allergic to cats. Do not think ill of me. They just make me ill.  Read more

Nora’s Neck, My Thin Lips

Self-image Bites

thin lips

The amazing screenwriter, journalist, and author Nora Ephron hated her sagging neck.

I hate my lips.

Nora lamented the pitfalls of maturing – aka aging –in her best-selling book, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman. As the title suggests, she especially bemoaned her saggy, baggy neckline and her middle-aged need to camouflage the offending body part with scarves.

Well, my nemesis is my lips. However, unlike Nora, my problem isn’t solely the result of aging. It’s a lifelong curse. And unlike Nora’s scarf solution, I cannot cloak my offending feature. For decades, I have suffered in silence, but no more. Today I share my shame. Read more

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Apples are OK. Compliments are Better

A Compliment a Day Keeps the Old Age Blues at Bay

apples and compliments make for good health

My recipe for good health and vitality is not fresh fruit, but vanity. Yes, apples are nice, but compliments are so much better.

Yesterday I had several errands to run and a few appointments to keep. It was a busy day. So, I made an effort, did a bit more than just throw on some jeans. Truth be told, I did a lot more. I, as they used to say, gussied myself up. It paid off. I got four compliments from four different people.

One woman, a make-up artist at Bloomingdale’s no less, told me how much she liked my lipstick.

A passerby on the street complimented me on my cool jacket.

My lunch companion admired my green-lacquer necklace, and the waitress praised my shiny fire-engine-red nail polish.

I rode the BART home feeling pretty good about myself. I met my husband for dinner. He was tired and not feeling great. He offered no compliments or even much by way of conversation. It was a quick dinner, and home we went to a quiet evening of TV and sleep.

I thought about the compliments I had received that day. They were great. I sincerely appreciated them. Truth be told, I needed them the way someone in the Sahara Desert welcomes a sip of water. But they made me think. They were different than the compliments I used to get in “the old days.” Funny how we say “the old days” when what we actually mean is the days when we were young. Read more

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Second-Hand Dope

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Lungs ...

Second hand dope

A recent Saturday night at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, Ca. Handsome Hubby and I went to the famed venue for the first time to see Beck, a musician I have long admired and long wanted to see.

The concert was sold out, but a friend gave us her VIP tickets. What a generous treat. Cool, right? Totally cool.

Well, apparently Handsome Hubby (HH) and I are not cool, at least we’re not Berkeley cool.

Second-Hand Smoke

It was a rock concert. So, yes, we should have known. It’s Berkeley. So, yes, we really should have known. But we just weren’t prepared for the magnitude of it all. It was overwhelming. Read more

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My Shout-Out Moment

Standing Up for Myself

Howard Beale's shout-out your windows rant

Hillary Clinton recently revealed how creeped out she felt when Donald Trump lumbered along behind her during the debates and how sorry she was she hadn’t told him to back off. Well, I recently had my own shout-out moment, and I’m proud to say I took it.

Now no one would ever accuse me of being a shy, weak and wilting flower. No one would ever say I’m one to hold back on my opinion. That said, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve mellowed a bit and try not to rock the boat quite so often. Yet, the other week in Reno, Nevada, I showed my true colors – and then some. Read more

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Where Do You Keep Your Olive Oil?

Culinary Questions Meet Midlife Uncertainty

Olive oil in a dish

Both the mighty and the not-so-mighty worry. Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet pondered lofty questions from his castle keep; I ponder less esoteric topics like how to keep olive oil.

Hamlet contemplated the unfairness of life and debated avenging his father’s murder by his uncle, now stepfather and king. He pondered life itself:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Poor Hamlet. Everybody’s got issues, right?

Take me. I’m no Shakespeare, but I too face grave, indeed existential questions:

To refrigerate or not to refrigerate? That is the question.
‘Tis better to risk rancidity or clouded, solidified olive oil? Read more

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Everybody’s a Critic

Feedback Bites Back

Critic taking and giving stars

It used to be that criticism belonged to the ranks of five classes of people – professional critics, impartial consumer product reviewers, your mother, your best girlfriend, and your in-laws.

Now, thanks to the Internet, everybody’s a critic. Everybody with a bone to pick — informed or terribly ill-informed — is a critic.

You can ding short-staffed restaurants, struggling retailers, and barely-managing masseurs on Yelp; you can demolish drivers on Uber and Lyft, and you can anonymously trash-talk people on all sorts of social media websites. It’s a scary Internet world.

For a long time, I ignored casual “citizen” reviewers. If I wanted to know what somebody thought, I wanted to know what somebody-in-the-know knew and opined. If I needed a theater or a movie review, I opened The New York Times Arts and Book Review sections. If I needed a new toaster or vacuum cleaner, I turned to Consumer Reports.

If I needed confirmation that my husband was an insensitive clod, I asked my mother (although she generally sided with my husband). If I thought I looked fat, I’d ask my girlfriend for a hasty assurance that I was mistaken.

But now I know that everything is reviewed online, even you, even me! Read more

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Hawaii Va-cay. Hawaii Dismay.

Or How I Wish I Spent My Summer Vacation

Hawaii vacation spot: White sandy shore with calm waves

Dear Middle-Aged Muddlers,

I hate to complain, but I just got back from my so-called vacation and I cannot tell you how much I wish I had followed my instincts and opted for that restful, peaceful stay-cation I so dreamed of.

As you may recall, Handsome Hubby (HH) had invited me to join him on a business trip to Hawaii. I was reluctant, but you know me, always the good wife. So, off I went.

“Oh, Hawaii. How fun,” enthused everyone I told about the upcoming trip to our nation’s 50th state. “Wait – you’re not excited?”

“Nope, not a bit,” I’d politely replied. “I’m more a desert rat than a sea and sand fan.”

I understand that the idea of a Hawaiian getaway sounds great to most people, but I’m from Las Vegas. My idea of a watery retreat is a mega-resort and swimming pool, lightly chlorinated, with me floating on a pink raft with a Diet Coke in the drink holder.

As for the ocean? I don’t snorkel. I don’t scuba dive. I don’t surf. I’m afraid of the water. Of rip tides. Strong tides. Big waves. Any waves.

I’m scared of sharks, jellyfish, stingrays, even random tiny fish that swim by. I don’t like sand in my swimsuit and I hate the stink of salt water in my eyes and its taste in my mouth.

Then, there’s the chubby-thigh issue and the extended walk of shame from the unfurled beach towel to the water’s concealing, albeit treacherous, waves. No itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini for me. No way.

In short, I was apprehensive about a vacation to Hawaii. It turned out, I was right – but not for any of the aforementioned reasons. Read more

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