Excuse me, my faux pas are showing

definition from dictionary.com

I have recently discovered that I have committed a couple of wedding-related faux pas. However, I am also of the opinion that the behaviors deemed terrible by some are merely violations of unwritten rules, which begs the questions: who decides which unwritten rules are important and if the rules are unwritten, how is everyone supposed to be aware of them?

Two of the unwritten rules I grew up with are:

  • You shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day. I think this one is finally dying a quiet death, but seriously? Who even decided this? Why did everyone else go along with it? Disclaimer: I never wear white. I am not accident prone or messy – until I wear white. Once I don white, something will happen to that article of clothing requiring it to be disposed of. But, if I do decide to wear white again, I will make sure it’s after Labor Day just to be annoying.
  • Redheads shouldn’t wear red. I heard this one all the time and always thought it was stupid. When I asked why, I was told “It will clash with your hair.” What? Why is it okay for blondes to wear yellow and brunettes to wear black and brown? I have always blown this one off and, I look fabulous in red. Just sayin’.

So, what are my wedding-related faux pas? No, it wasn’t the ultimate sin of wearing white to a wedding because that’s the sort of thing that destroys friendships and breaks up families. (Why do weddings come with so much drama?) My mistakes deal with the color of the dresses that I chose. At one point, black was not to be worn to a wedding because of it’s association with death and funerals. Apparently, it’s now acceptable – at least in some circles.🙄 I have no idea whether or not it was deemed acceptable when our oldest son and daughter-in-law married. However, I wanted something special to wear in my role as the mother of the groom and was excited to find a beautiful black dress with gold embroidery; I loved it and felt beautiful in it. Some would believe that by wearing black to the wedding, I was making a dig at my daughter-in-law and expressing my dislike of her. Some would need to get a life. I adore my daughter-in-law and always have. There was no ulterior motive to my choice other than that feeling of “this is the one” when wearing that dress.

My black faux pas wedding dress circa 2008

My most recent wedding faux pas was last October. Did you know you’re not “supposed” to wear a red dress to a wedding? Neither did I.🙄🙄 The dress code for the wedding was “cocktail attire” which meant a shopping trip since Kenn needed a new suit and I own exactly two dresses, neither of which qualify as cocktail attire. I visited several stores with no luck and then… I found it. The perfect dress. I even bought it without trying it on since the store dressing rooms were still closed due to COVID. Once I got home and tried it on, I knew that I had found my dress and proceeded to wear it to the wedding. No one passed out,but who knows? They may have been gossiping about me behind my back.🤷‍♀️(It was also a Halloween wedding and the bride wore a white dress with a black veil and the decorations included skeletons and sugar skulls so I think my red dress fit right in.)

I still think I look fabulous in red.

Oh, why aren’t you supposed to wear red to a wedding? Because red is the color of harlots. (Who even uses the word harlot these days?) And, apparently in some cultures, wearing red to a wedding means you had sex with the groom. (Ew!) I would have lived the rest of my life without knowing these “rules” without reading some wedding related posts on Reddit.

What are your least favorite so-called rules?

Well, Darn

Well, it has taken almost three years, but Kenn and I finally contracted COVID. As with many couples, Kenn and I are opposites in many ways. Our recent illnesses have brought some of those differences to the fore. Most notably, when I’m sick, I want to be left alone – just check on me every now and then to make sure I’m still breathing. Kenn, however, wants to be babied.

My symptoms began on New Year’s Eve and I wound up in the doctor’s office on January 2nd with a severe ear infection. Since January 2nd was a federal holiday, Kenn didn’t work and was available to take me to the doctor. However, he was back at work on Tuesday and Wednesday leaving me to my own devices. I stayed on the couch (with a variety of felines) with an assortment of tissues, cough drops, and cold medications scattered in strategic locations throughout the house. Kenn’s symptoms began shortly after he got home on Wednesday evening. He decided to test Thursday and… duhn, duhn, duhn

Yep, it’s positive

We didn’t even have to wait the whole fifteen minutes; it was showing positive within about 3 minutes. (Had this been my test, Kenn would have said that I was just being competitive.) Friday morning he called the doctor who, in turn, called in prescriptions for cough medicine and an anti-viral. Cue the difficult part of this process – picking up the medications. I was now on Day 6 of my illness which meant I no longer needed to quarantine and while I was feeling better, I was still weak/washed out but I pulled on my big girl panties and made the drive to the pharmacy. (Yay for small towns, short distances, and drive-thru pharmacies!) I did not burst into tears when I was informed that they only had the cough syrup; the anti-viral was out of stock and they didn’t know when they would get more. I made it back home where Kenn made a call, found the anti-viral at another pharmacy, and made the arrangements to have the prescription transferred. Afterwards, he went to bed for a well-deserved nap.

An hour or so later, I went to check on Kenn. He was awake and feeling pitiful. He was glad I had come to check on him because he needed to cuddle. I am not cuddle-averse, especially when I’m already sick and not going to be exposed by said cuddling. (Long story.) I cuddled Kenn until it was almost time for me to go pick up his second prescription. He was feeling miserable so I hoped to encourage him by telling him that, since his illness was progressing much as mine had, he would probably be feeling better by the next day. His response? “I’m not going to survive that long.” Siiiggghhh.

Now, Kenn has said on more than one occasion that I’m not very sympathetic – and he’s right. I’m great with empathy; sympathy not so much. At this point, my already limited sympathy was running low. “Are you serious? You should have said something earlier so I could take out an insurance policy on you. And, you do realize that I survived on my own while you went to work and I’m here babying you and you’re not going to survive? I’m going to go get your medication. I hope you’re still alive when I get back.” Spoiler: he was. He was also contrite and apologized for “irritating” me; he said he was just kidding around. Whatever. I’ve been around him long enough to know that the drama gene is strong in his family and it’s always strongest with Kenn when he’s sick so I take his “just kidding” with a grain of salt.

Personality differences aside, I’m thankful that our COVID experience has been easy. The absolute worst part for both of us has been the lack of energy that we’ve experienced. It has now been ten days since my symptoms started and today is the first day I’ve been able to be up and around for more than a few minutes without needing to sit down and rest. Also, I’m a night owl so it’s not unusual for me to be up until midnight; while I’ve had COVID, I haven’t been able to stay awake past 10pm. My plan is to go into work tomorrow. Weevil counting isn’t strenuous and if I don’t have the energy to stay all day, I won’t. Even more importantly, I’m planning to cook supper tonight. I haven’t cooked in over a week because standing in the kitchen for 30 minutes to an hour has been a no-go. Wish me luck! (Edited to add, I survived both cooking dinner and my first day back at work!)

Are you a good patient when you’re sick?

Huh. When did that happen?

I have had body image issues for as long as I can remember. I think it came to a head in high school when I started getting “teased” about being pudgy. Looking back, I know that weighing 159 pounds at 5’11” tall really isn’t pudgy; it’s well within the normal weight range for my height. I worked hard and got my weight down to 135 pounds and began what became a lifelong habit of counting calories.

By the time I went to college, I think I was dangerously close to developing an eating disorder. I decided I needed to lose even more weight. My goal was to get down to 120 pounds. My body decided that was a no-go. I started working on losing weight and I got so sick. There are a couple of weeks that I don’t remember. I was somehow still going to at least some of my classes, but I’m not sure how. Once I got better I decided to let my weight stay where it was.

The next hurdle was pregnancy. I worried about how I would deal with the weight gain that goes along with pregnancy should I decide to have kids. I honestly wasn’t sure that I would be able to let myself gain weight. However, when I actually got pregnant at 24, my body once again took control. At that point in my life I was skipping meals or just eating something like a pack of crackers. Once I got pregnant, I had to eat every two hours or my stomach would be growling loud enough for others to hear. My body basically forced me to take in the nutrients that both my baby and I needed. I gained a total of 28 pounds during my pregnancy and was able to lose it all within 6 months after giving birth. The fact that I gained weight and successfully lost it seemed to change something in me. So much so that with my second pregnancy, I actually gained 40 pounds; I decided that if I was going to gain weight anyway, I may as well enjoy the process. I ate a lot of peanut M&Ms, LOL. However, I was once again able to lose all of the weight within 6 months. I also did not throat punch the coworker who commented about me “still carrying all of that baby weight” when I returned to work after my maternity leave. At that point, I only had 15 pounds left to lose. Sigh.🙄

Then, along comes hypothyroidism. Even though I’m on medication to treat my hypothyroidism, it still makes it easier for me to gain weight and harder to lose it. Slowly, over an extended period, my weight crept back up to high school levels and I worked to lose 15 pounds. This left my final weight higher than it was for so many years, but I was okay with that. The cycle repeated again a few years later. I’ve been struggling to lose weight and have been frustrated with myself. However, once I started my part-time job, I’ve slowly begun to take the weight off. (Yay for being more active!)

So, why have I made this post with TMI about my weight? Well, now that I’m 60, aging and such have been on my mind. During the course of my musings I had an unexpected realization. For the first time in my life, I’m comfortable with the body that I have – cellulite, aging skin, and all. I’m not exactly sure when this acceptance occurred, but I’m glad it did. Always striving for some impossible level of perfection is exhausting.

I guess the change has been coming on for a few years. Prior to retirement, I wouldn’t leave the house without at least some level of makeup. I loosened up a little in the months after retirement… and then COVID hit and no one was going anywhere. Makeup kind of went out the window and pretty much stayed there. I now regularly leave the house with no makeup or minimum makeup. As a matter of fact, my coworkers don’t even know what I look like with makeup. Why put on makeup just to sweat it off?

Minimal makeup so I could try out my new lipstick

I’ve been a long time reaching this level of comfort with myself, but I’m glad I finally got here. How about you? Are you comfortable with yourself?

Large Headed Ladies

I think the time has come for a new song in the vein of Queen’s classic, Fat Bottomed Girls. The new song should be titled Large Headed Ladies and I volunteer to star in the music video. I look in the mirror and I see a normal, average human being. However, looks can be deceiving and I’m apparently a living chibi or Funko Pop. (Both are characters with large heads.) I generally don’t wear hats for the simple reason that most don’t fit. One size fits all? Ha! Not hardly. Between a large head and extremely thick hair, most “one size” hats just perch precariously on top of my head.

During our visit to Wall Drug, we found a western wear store that sold hats that came in (gasp!) actual sizes. Since that day, I have been the proud owner of a genuine Stetson cowboy hat.

Yee haw!

When I started my part-time job, I needed a sun hat. It took two attempts to find the one pictured in the linked post. I bought the first hat based on a Facebook ad with reviews which mentioned the hat fitting larger heads. Ha! It was so small I gave it to my nine year old grandson. Fortunately, the next hat was a success. Not only does it fit, but the vivid orange makes me easy to find when I’m working out in the orchards.

The most recent hurdle has been trying to find a bicycle helmet. Several months ago, Kenn purchased collapsible bikes for us to take with us when we camp. Sadly, we have yet to use them. We decided a few weeks ago to remedy that situation but that meant finding helmets. Of course it was a cinch for Kenn but for me, not so much. I carefully measured my head and made sure to purchase an appropriately sized helmet. Guess what? It didn’t fit. 🤦‍♀️ So, it was back to the drawing board. Thank goodness for LtMacDaddy and his amazing Amazon review. I purchased the same helmet and he is correct; the helmet also fits my fat head!

Success!

It’s a shame that adults don’t get to wear sparkly multi-colored helmets like kids do. (I’d wear a unicorn helmet in a heartbeat.) While the red is nice, it’s boring. I may apply a coat of my Lisa Frank nail polish to give it a little sparkle. Another downside to owning a red and black helmet as a resident of the state of Georgia is that it will be assumed to have been chosen in support of the University of Georgia Bulldogs. Spoiler alert: it was not and I am not a Bulldogs (or any other team) fan.

So, are you a member of the Large Head Club? If not, what is it like to be able to purchase hats off the rack (so to speak)?

Saying Goodbye

I haven’t posted for the past couple of weeks because honestly, the past couple of weeks have sucked. We lost two family members. One had been in hospice care for several weeks so it was only a matter of time. The other was more traumatic; you never expect to say goodbye to someone younger.

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Kenn’s family is quite different from mine. I grew up next door to my maternal grandmother who was one of eight kids. Aunts, uncles, great-aunts, great-uncles, and cousins galore were a big part of my life. The first time Kenn mentioned cousins, I was shocked. I had known him for years and he had never mentioned them before. I didn’t even know that his mom had three sisters.

Two of Kenn’s aunts lived up north and I never met them. I didn’t meet the remaining sister until after the death of Kenn’s father. The family was gathered at Kenn’s parents’ apartment and his aunt and uncle came to offer their condolences and Kenn introduced me. His aunt said “Oh Linda, it’s so nice to meet you. We’re so glad to have you in our family.” And she meant it. Y’all, I almost cried. At this point, I had been a part of Kenn’s family for nine years and no one had ever welcomed me. My in-laws didn’t like me and I spent my time walking on eggshells whenever I had to be around them. The fact that this woman I had never met before saw me as worthy of love and acceptance blew my mind. I hid those words in my heart for years.

I longed to tell Aunt Ellen how much her words meant to me but was hesitant to do so. I firmly believed that if I thanked her and it got back to my mother-in-law, it would just give her something else to hold against me. (I was already guilty of the heinous crimes of hanging pictures too high on our walls and having the wrong people in the background of the photos I took.🙄) My mother-in-law passed away five years ago so, when we learned that Aunt Ellen had cancer and had been placed in hospice care, I knew time was running out. With Chick-Fil-A in hand, we went and had a lovely visit. I told her how much her words meant to me and she said “I was just being sincere.” I told her that I knew she was and that made it even more special. That was the last time we saw her. It was a good day when she was still herself. Her condition deteriorated quickly over the next few weeks and she left this world on August 18th.

The second loss was my oldest niece. Ami was only 48. Not only was she my niece, but since she was only eleven years younger than me, in many ways she was like a younger sister. We shared a love of cats, books, reading, writing, color, and all things sparkly. We had actually grown closer over the last few years. When my Daddy’s health began failing in late 2015 it was hard on both of us. We began sharing memes (usually animal related) on Facebook to keep our spirits up. Six years later, we’re still doing it. At least we were. Ami had a severe peanut allergy and over the years she’s had a to make a few trips to the ER. All of those trips have ended with her returning home – except the last one. This last hospitalization resulted in her being placed on a ventilator and then an ECMO (heart/lung machine) before her wife made the difficult decision to end life support. When we got to the hospital on August 16th, Ami was non-responsive. They say that the hearing is the last thing to go so I hope that she knew we were there. But, I know that she knew that we loved her. I had hoped to visit she and her wife later this year and maybe even visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando together. (Ami had been, I hadn’t.) Now, that will never happen. I began missing her regular memes while she was hospitalized and now I have to content myself with seeing the ones from the past when they show up in my Facebook memories.

So, dear readers, hug your loved ones while you have them and tell them all of the things you need to say for you never know when that opportunity may slip away. (I promise, my next post won’t be so gloomy.)

Never Say Never

There have been a lot of things that I swore I would never do. I have done them all.🤷‍♀️Now, I’m doing it again. Once I retired, I had zero plans to ever go back to work. Writing and blogging, sure; those things bring me joy. A structured, on-a time-clock job? No way. I’ve had enough of living my life around someone else’s schedule, not being able to travel, etc. However, almost three years ago, Kenn landed the perfect retirement job; it’s an “intermittent” position with extremely flexible hours. (Intermittent means that it’s part-time, but has a cap on the number of days and hours that can be worked over the length of the position.) His boss didn’t bat an eye when Kenn told him that he would be gone for the month of September last year. Kenn usually works two or three days a week and spends most of his time driving heavy equipment; he loves it. I told him that if I could find something similar, I might give it a go. He talked to one of the other supervisors and one thing led to another.

I started my new “intermittent” position as a Biological Science Aid for an entomologist last week. As of this writing I’ve only worked three days but I have enjoyed it. Getting out of the house and getting a lot of exercise has meant that I’ve slept better at night, LOL. Of course, working outside in the Georgia heat and humidity has been kind of rough. I coat myself in sun screen and wear an SPF-50 over shirt for added protection. Basically, the clothes I would normally wear when hiking are the clothes that I now wear to the “office”.

Now that’s a sun hat!

My new supervisor was on leave the week I started so one of the other full-time employees showed me the ropes. She greeted me with a stack of supplies including a master key that will get me into virtually any office and a key to my very own work truck.😮 I was not expecting that! However, since I already drive a big honkin’ truck, driving one at work is no big deal.

My work truck

One of the new skills I’ve learned is how to drive a John Deere Gator. I feel all kinds of fancy driving across the fields in a utility vehicle.😂

Gator image from http://www.deere.com

Unlike Kenn, I don’t see myself working this position for more than a year or so. In the meantime, it’s flexible enough that I can live my own life and we can still travel all while I bring in a little extra money. I may be turning 60 in a few months, but I’m not to old to try/learn new things!

What would be your “perfect” part-time job?

A Throwaway Tradition

Traditions are important to me, holiday traditions especially so. One of the first times I remember being impacted by a change to tradition was as a child. When I was young, my mama made Stollen, a German bread, every Christmas as a nod to our German ancestry. The year she announced that she wasn’t going to make it anymore, I was crushed. It wasn’t so much that I missed the bread; I didn’t. Honestly, I didn’t even like Stollen. What I missed was losing something that was always there, or at least had been as long as I could remember. It took until I became an adult to realize that yes, traditions are important, but flexibility with those traditions is also important. A tradition that is too rigid to change is a tradition that becomes a chore instead of a joy. My mama realized this, hence her decision to no longer make Stollen.

After our oldest son’s first Christmas, Kenn and I created what would become one of the first holiday traditions for our small family. After spending that Christmas on the road running from one family’s house to another and not having any time to enjoy the day or each other we decided that our future Christmases would be spent at home; if our parents wanted to see us on Christmas day, they could come to us. (We all lived within 20 miles or so of each other; it’s not like we were expecting anyone to fly across the country.) That tradition has remained in effect all of these years. Now that our sons are grown and one has a family of his own, that tradition may change. If/when it does, we will go with the flow.

One of the first changes I made to one of our own traditions involved our Christmas tree. I had had a love/hate relationship with Christmas trees for a long time. I loved the finished result but my perfectionist tendencies when it came to getting the lights and garland “just so” tended to turn me into a Grinch. Add to the mix cats who live (and love) to knock ornaments off the tree and rearrange the garland daily and some days having a tree was just exhausting. Once the kids were no longer interested in helping decorate the tree, I really wasn’t enthusiastic about going through the steps anymore. Things kind of came to a head in 2016, the year my daddy died. There was a lot of “life” and loss that year and I just didn’t have it in me to deal with a Christmas tree. Kenn disagreed which was fine. I told him we could have a tree but he would be responsible for all of it: the lights, garland, decorations and re-decorating it daily. Eventually I got Kenn to understand that my lack of desire to have a tree had nothing to do with grief (even though that was more than enough), it was more the culmination of years of stress. Yes, the grief was probably the final straw but it wasn’t the ultimate cause of my lack of interest. So, in 2016, we purchased a pallet tree. No garland, lights, or decorations required. Instead, I hung the Christmas cards we received from the strings on the tree.

Our 2016 pallet tree

In 2017, we purchased a 4 foot, pre-lit tree and haven’t looked back. I love our small tree and have no desire to ever go back to a larger one.

Our current tree. It makes me happy.

However, one of our traditions is designed to change every year and then to get thrown away. You see, I love plates for every occasion but have no interest in spending money on dishes that only get used once a year; I also have no interest in finding storage for them. However, I have found a way to indulge my love: Hobby Lobby always has a wonderful selection of seasonal paper plates. So, every Thanksgiving and Christmas I indulge in a new set of plates and napkins. Not only do I get to enjoy a different design every year but we get to enjoy gathering with our family without the worry of having to run the dishwasher constantly.

Our 2021 Thanksgiving plates
Our 2021 Christmas plates

So, what’s the point of this post? It’s just a friendly reminder to not let yourself get locked into traditions that no longer have the meaning they once did. It’s okay to change things up. Do what makes you happy – even if you throw it away afterward.😉

Until next time, take care, happy trails, and Merry Christmas!

What was I thinking?

What was I thinking? I already have a blog at isabellanorse.com. (I’m a romance writer and Isabella Norse is my not-so-secret pen name.) But, I wanted a place to write about the random things that catch my interest. So, this is where I will post random musings such as video game reviews, my impressions of the various campgrounds we visit, and things that make me smile (such as pictures of kitty toes).

After all, life is about the journey and not the destination. I hope you’ll join me for the trip – after all, we shouldn’t do life alone!