Thursday, January 31, 2013

More Favorite Products

Some time ago (October 2009) I posted about some products I've discovered that have become my favorites: I am still always on the prowl for the best solutions for cleaning or organizing at home, and also for health and beauty. Here are some of my newer favorites:

We love using many spices and spice blends in our cooking. Until recently, we hadn't found a good solution. Some spices are in a refrigerator door, and some are jumbled on a cabinet shelf. This product from Vertical Spice is perfect for us. They have several sizes and finishes available. The product screws to your cabinet shelf, and you pull the drawers out for easy access. Brilliant!

This light weight, cordless, rechargeable vacuum is great for getting up crumbs from the kitchen floor, dust bunnies in the corners, and for grooming doormats. I'm much more inclined to do a quick cleanup when I don't have to get the big vacuum out, unwrap the power cord, and plug it in. There is an integrated hand vac that pops out for use on upholstery and hard to reach spots. It easily disassembles for cleaning.

As far as I am concerned, Amazon's Kindle can't be beaten as a pure reading machine. The design and operation are downright elegant, and the battery life is impressive. This new Kindle has a softly backlit screen, which is great for reading in bed without disturbing your partner. The photo at left shows a Paperwhite in a custom cover with a magnetic clasp. Close the cover, and it turns the device off. Open it and the device comes to life. Small and slim, this can be tucked into a medium-sized purse or the side pocket of a briefcase. Sweet.

Sorry, guys, it's a girl thing. These panties from Soma have replaced almost all my old tatty ones, thanks to Soma's fairly frequent "Panty Raid" sales. Two things are special about these. First, the edge is designed to eliminate panty lines under clothes. Second, there are thin, soft strips of a rubberized material near the leg openings in the back that keep the panties from moving around. (Sounds uncomfortable, but it's not.) Put them on and position them on your "cheeks", and there is no creeping. I love these under clingy knits, and appreciate their performance when golfing. They are available in many styles and colors/prints.

My sister recommended that I try these when I was suffering from knee joint pain last year after doing some work on our condo. I had been crawling around on the hardwood floors, and climbing up and down ladders for days. My knees were so painfully inflamed that I could hardly navigate stairs. The pain kept me awake at night. Salonpas patches provided immediate relief from the pain and, after a few days, eliminated the inflammation completely. These are now a staple in my medicine cabinet. Awesome product.

Let us know if YOU have favorite products worth sharing!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Unwelcome Here

If only
it could be
this easy

our family
and friends

From heartache
and illness
and losses

All hurting 
that never
quite mends

Boldly it
offers a

That trouble 
here will be

the mat says
quite clearly


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Defying the Precipice

Life is a gift. It's often difficult and messy and challenging, and we have to work hard to enjoy the best of what it has to offer. In fact, sometimes we have to fight for it.

We live on the edge. There's a push and pull to our lives. All of us are potentially a breath away from a terrible accident, a debilitating illness, a horrifying loss. Oddly, we're mostly able to live our lives as if the precipice does not exist. When we see someone near us go over the edge, it's shocking. The sudden death of a contemporary rocks our foundation. The end of a marriage that seemed so solid to outsiders shakes us to the core. The mental breakdown of someone we love confounds us and breaks our hearts.

So we make permanent camp on dangerous ground. We sing, and dance, and love, and enjoy the view. We light campfires and contemplate the beauty. We sleep in peace. When one of us gets too close to danger, we try to calmly talk them back to safer ground. When another scrabbles for footing on the edge, we band together to provide steadying hands. Mostly, the village binds us together and provides security.

Every once in a while, a lost soul is drawn to the abyss against all reason, as if mesmerized by the vertigo it causes - as if something there calls to them. Inexplicably, but predictably, they eventually take a purposeful leap into the nothingness. We'll never understand why. There is nothing we can do to stop them. It's a horrible, horrible thing to witness.

I'm in the group who defies the precipice. I'll bravely party here where we live, but regularly sneak a peek over my shoulder to check my coordinates. I won't follow anyone who feels compelled to actually flirt with the abyss. I'll fight tooth and nail for the happy life I have and the well-being of the people I love. I want to stay around and thrill in the spectacular view. Take a look, but watch your footing. Be safe, and enjoy the gift of Life.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Stepping Out to Sing

Those of you who know me know something of my musical background. I started singing in Junior High School, in Mrs. Scozzafava's popular chorus. That lead to more choral experience and some musical theater fun throughout high school and college. I sang in the church choir at the Greek Orthodox Church of St George in Bethesda, Maryland. With several national chorus student groups, I had the chance to perform at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. My degree is in Music from Northwestern University, where I enjoyed performing in several productions of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, as well as the acclaimed Waa-Mu student variety show.

After graduating from Northwestern, I started a career in the hotel business.  My involvement with the world of musical performance stalled, although for several years I sang with the Dallas Symphony Chorus and, later, with the Memphis Symphony Chorus. It's been at least seven years since I have made the time to take part in any organized outlet for my singing. Now I'm retired. I have the interest and the time and no excuses.

I love my retired life, my community, and my friends. I am protective of my time, and am hesitant to make a lot of specific commitments of my time and energy. But it is time to step out of my comfort zone and explore other activities.

A twist of fate occured one evening in downtown Prescott. While walking down Gurley Street with Ron, we happened to see friends dining in a restaurant. They waved us in. We met Hal Lobaugh, who builds homes in Talking Rock. His wife, Suzy, is the director of Prescott's chapter of Sweet Adelines*, named "Song of the Pines". Just days after expressing interest, Suzy called to recruit me.

Tuesday night, I attended a rehearsal as an observer. What I observed was a professional, organized, well-directed musical group. We did physical and vocal warm-ups, and spent several hours rehearsing music in preparation for future performances. I enjoyed the selection of classic songs performed in close harmony. I noted the emphasis on sound vocal technique and the tuning of pitch. The focus and commitment to the group as a whole was evident. I was impressed.

My voice needs some exercise, and Song of the Pines needs some additional manpower in the Lead section. I think I'm stepping out to sing again.

*Sweet Adelines is an international association of women's barbershop choral groups.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Age Advantage

Age is a number. Age is relative. At 57 years, I would be considered "old" by many young people. In this country, there is a shocking lack of respect for, or interest in, old people. (During the height of the recession, I actually had a person on LinkedIn suggest to me that I should "die off" and make my job available to someone younger!)

Age bias is based on ignorance and is usually easy to shrug off. The truth is that we have many advantages that have come from our life experience:

We are past any identity crisis we ever had.  We know who we are.
We don't care much what other people think, as long as we are doing what's right for us.
We are not impressed with status symbols. 
We are past worrying about looking silly.
We understand our physical limitations and are generally at peace with working within them.
We know the value of a good night's sleep and appreciate how well we feel upon awakening.
We have routines that give us comfort and keep our lives in balance.
We know who our friends are, and quietly avoid people that are bad for us.
We have the perspective to pick our battles.
We know when to ask for help.
We are more careful about what we eat and how it will affect how we look and feel.
We are realistic about our fading youth, but take care with our dress and beauty routines.
We have financial security and work within a budget.
We know the value of good health, and do what we need to do to preserve it.
We have a lot to share, and find pleasure in doing so.
We treasure our family and friends, and aren't shy about expressing our feelings.

This is a personal perspective. I know these things are not true for everyone in my age bracket, just as they are not NOT true for some young people. What I'm trying to say is that I don't feel "old". I am older, I am wiser, I am happier, and I am well and at peace with where I am in my life. I won't ask for anything more.