Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Holiday Blues

I miss my mom.  I miss my family in Ohio.  It's Christmas and I'm terribly homesick.

But this... This video/commercial made me cry and smile at the same time.  It's filled with family and happiness and well... check it out. 


A million thanks for the kind comments in my last post about my mother's passing.  There are no words to say how much I appreciate the love from Blogland--Truly, from the bottom of my heart.

Merry Christmas one and all.  May your holidays be happy and filled with love.  I'll be back after the New Year.

xoxo Joanna

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Waving Good-bye


It is with a very heavy heart that I say my beautiful mother passed away November 3rd.

Thirty-three days in the hospital was a very long time to keep her spirits up, but Mom’s grace was always in check even as her taste buds and tolerance for cream of wheat and red jello wained.  Despite the difficulties she faced during her surprising and brief illness, she almost always had a smile on her face and a kind word for the nurses and doctors-- if even if that "kind word" was a request for a hot fudge sundae.

After lengthy conversations with doctors, Mom made a very clear and thoughtful decision to stop treatment and all the poking, prodding and unsuccessful procedures repeatedly prescribed to her.  They weren’t working and she knew it.  Mom wanted to be back in her home, and her own bed, with her dog and cat curled up beside her.  She was not afraid of her decision to leave the hospital and placed herself completely in God’s hands.

These past several weeks have been heartbreaking, as you might imagine, but at the same time, my siblings and I, along with my 12 nieces and nephews, all had the same comforting and heart-felt knowledge about our mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

We.  Were.  Loved.


And our mother took her job as a parent very seriously.

Mom supported and encouraged our interests, hobbies and studies attending every dance recital, horse show, school function, sporting event, party, ceremony, divorce, birth, Grandparent Day, concert, graduation, and community events we participated in-- And she was present and happy to do so.

She showed us through her friendships what it meant to be a friend, and she gave us the tools we needed to grow into responsible adults and parents.  She helped us raise our children and taught us through example to work hard for what we wanted.


Our mother also taught us the difference between right and wrong, and the importance of always telling the truth.  She insisted, for example, that we stand outside on the front porch, even during blizzards, so she could honestly tell a phone caller we didn’t want to speak with that “we weren’t in the house right now.”

Mom gave us confidence with the absolute knowledge that no matter where she lived, she would always have a “no-questions-asked” policy if we ever needed to come back home again--  With open arms she provided a bed or an extra seat at the dinner table for as long as we needed help.  She was our safe haven and always had our backs.


Our mother was always a woman of prayer and devout faith who taught us to worship the Lord in whatever way that worked best for us.  Regardless if we followed her exact path or not, mom prayed we had a relationship with God and she made no judgement of how we participated-- although sometimes not so subtly-- like during the 70s when she would answer the phone “Good Evening God loves you”-- a statement that was absolutely horrifying to us as teenagers.

Her funeral on a Sunday seemed fitting because it was Mom’s favorite day of the week. Starting with Church in the morning, always sitting in the same front pew on the right side-- a spot she told us she picked so us kids would have to behave ourselves during services-- and ending the day with her calling each of my siblings and me to “count noses” as she’d say, to make sure we were all okay, even if she’d seen or spoken to us countless times that week already.  It was our mom being our mom.

So tonight instead of hearing her voice to check in, the five of us will remember our mother and...

The incredible amount of butter she enjoyed consuming on a daily basis...

Her wearing layers of sweaters even in 90 degree weather...

The smile on her face when she ate ice cream...

And S’ agapaw -- a secret code for I love you.


We will remember how mom loved her 29 cent lectures from her mentor, protector, advisor and best friend-- her sister, and how she had a smile reserved just for her when she called her durdle-der...

And how she was the best mother-in-law ever...

Her "love 'em and hug 'em" parenting advice...

And “Flapping her wings” to help us fly home to her safely.


We’ll remember how dinners together as a family were very important to mom...

How there was always room at her table for one more...

And how she always ended Grace by saying “Make us mindful of our need for You, Lord, and our need for each other”.


We will remember how she would undress her newborn grandbabies to count their fingers and toes...

And how she blessed their foreheads when she saw them...

And how much she loved her extended family like they were her own.


With appreciation, we will remember how she kept her cool during heated teenage battles with “That’s okay, I love you enough for both of us”.

And we will remember mom’s endless wave-- Mom would stand in her driveway or front window and wave good-bye every single time we’d leave her home-- Waving with both arms until our cars were completely out of sight.

When mom passed in her home it was heart-breaking and beautiful all at the same time.  She made it very clear to us that she wanted it to be quiet so she could have her eyes wide open so as as not to miss any part of her journey-- And that’s how it was, with a peaceful smile on her face and a calmness we have never witness before, mom reached up to heaven on the wings of her deep, deep faith and gently graduated to heaven.

When the funeral director came to take mom away-- who also happened to be a lifelong friend, he gently wrapped her in a hug and placed her in his vehicle.  Our family instinctively followed him outside and all stood in her driveway.  Together, we waved, with both arms, one last time, until our mom was completely out of sight-- But she will be in our hearts forever.

Joanna

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Crave

 It's interesting-- the foods people crave when they're not allowed to eat-- Like my mom who's still in the hospital (29 days and counting) and on a diet limited to chicken broth, cream of wheat, and Jello. 

When the time came for a more substantial meal, her very first request was a Dairy Queen chocolate milkshake with whipped cream and a cherry on top.  I literally ran out of the hospital and into a hail/snow/sleet/thunderstorm to get her one on Thursday.


And in the blink of an eye it was totally consumed leaving a smile on Mom's face (for the first time in a very long time) as she practically purred the word "Delicious!"


What would you crave?

PS  I was in Ohio again all this past week and I'm heading there again on Friday so I'll be scarce in these parts for a while.  Please keep Mom in your prayers for healing and strength.

Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com  -  Joanna Jenkins

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I'm Not In Charge

Just when I thought life was about to get back to my normal routine, I was reminded that I'm not in charge... Not even a little.  Here's what I've been up to and a few things I've learned along the way.

1.  Three weeks ago I got a cold.   It was 90 degrees outside.  Since then I've been drinking cough syrup like it's my job and gone through about 2 dozen boxes of tissues. 

2.  Then totally out of the blue and for no reason at all, I'm getting a stabbing feeling in my right calf followed by what feels like an electric shock-- a really long and painful electric shock in my calf-- and then it just stops.  Completely.  Like it never happened.  At first I thought I was dreaming (while wide awake) but it kept happening over and over.  I have an appointment with the doctor in November-- because it's not "an emergency".  In the meantime, I'm randomly grabbing my leg in pain and trying not to look like a nut case.


3.  Two weeks ago I boarded an airplane with a wonky leg and wearing a surgical mask so as not to infect fellow passengers with my cold.  I discovered said fellow passengers still do not want to sit with me.  When fellow passengers threw a nasty hissy fit they got to have the center seat I was supposed to sit in all to themselves.  I got to sit in Business Class... Where I slept like a baby and never coughed once during the nearly 5 hour flight.

4.  Upon arriving in Cleveland, Ohio from #3's plane ride, I immediately drove like a wild woman to the hospital where my mother is recovering from an emergency surgery.  She's holding her own but has a long road to recovery ahead.  Please keep her in your prayers.

5.  While at the hospital with mom (still wearing a surgical mask along with about ten gallons of antibacterial lotion 100% of the time) I realized it was the same hospital I worked in 36 years ago when I first graduated from high school.  The only thing that's the same after all these years are the elevators-- the ones I used to (and continued to on this trip) get stuck in on a regular basis.

6.  I discovered hospital food is now delivered by folks wearing Fast Food-type uniforms who say "Room Service" when bringing patients their food tray.  I laughed out loud at that one.


7.  I miss the good old days when your actual doctor-- the one who knows you personally because he's treated you for years and has all your medical history-- was still your doctor while IN the hospital.  Now they have "Hospitalists" who make the rounds on every patients in the hospital for your doctor.  Yes, these are smart docs but really... these docs are over worked and have no knowledge of a patient's PAST medical history, they are simply treating the patient TODAY.  It's unsettling when you ask a Hospitalist treating your mother a question about her medical state and a blank stare is received in return-- Followed by a lengthy reminder to the doctor of your mother's medical history.

8.  I think my sisters and I earned gold stars for not knocking the Hospitalists on their butts more than a few times.

9.  That is, except for Mom's surgeon-- Dr. Blue Eyes.  He is awesome, and very cute.  I think our mother would like to take him home with her when she's discharged... Which won't be for a very long time so until then she's enjoying flirting with him shamelessly on a daily basis. 

10. Beware when a hospital offers Valet Parking that is staffed by 80 year old volunteers as a fund-raising opportunity.  It's best to park your own car, even in a blinding rainstorm with a leg that feels like it's being electrocuted.  I'm just sayin'.

11. Are you a "The Big Bang Theory" TV show fan?  If so, then you will appreciate how sweet it was to hear two different generations of my family sing "Soft Kitty" to my mom.


12. Nurses are angels.  Truly-- There is nothing better than a good nurse.  Be nice to them.  And bring them black ink pens.  Everyone is always taking their pens, especially Hospitalists.

Hope you are doing great! 
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © John Takai - Fotolia.com and © notkoo2008 - Fotolia.com

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fully Accessorized

Living in Los Angeles and being close to the entertainment industry, I've seen more than my share of rich fashionistas strutting their stuff.  They seem to be everywhere-- And not just on Rodeo Drive or at The Beverly Hills Hotel.  They're at the grocery store, the pharmacy, even the gas station-- all dressed to the hilt and fully accessorized as if they walked off the pages of a trendy fashion magazine.

Impeccable high-end designer clothing, gorgeous shoes, expensive handbags and perfectly coiffed hair and make-up, not to mention to-die-for jewelry-- are the norm for these gals-- Along with youth and beauty, of course.

Me? Most days I'm in Levi jeans, a white blouse, preferably without my lunch splattered on it, and comfortable shoes.  I carry the same blue backpack style purse regardless of what I'm wearing, and unless it's cold out, I don't even wear a scarf let alone "accessories".  No designer labels in sight and for the most part, I'm perfectly okay with that.  But I admit these totally put together ladies can be intimidating on occasion.

As if I'm not "fashion challenged" enough, I've discovered it's increasingly popular to have your house decked out in designer accessories too!
 
Case in point.  This little Fiat 500 Gucci car that is always sparkling clean and parked fashionably in front of my neighbor's house.


Seriously-- See those green and red strips-- That's signature Gucci.  On.  A.  Car!

Since I don't have a Gucci handbag it's doubtful I'll ever have a Gucci Fiat parked in my driveway but the bar in da 'hood has been raised. 

Maybe I'll plant some geraniums and call us even.  Ha!


How's your weekend?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ho Ho Huh?

It's not the season for Santa yet, although I have already seen TV Christmas commercials from K-Mart.  (Grrrrr!)  But apparently it is time for Jolly Old St. Nick to audition at 20th Century Fox Studios near our home.  Who knows what for, (a movie perhaps?) but these guys were leaving the Studio on Thursday and walking up the main boulevard this past week.  Like any (crazy) dedicated blogger, I pulled over and asked to take their picture.  By the way, it was 87 degrees that day!


I hope no kids saw them because it would really burst their bubble to learn Santa drives a blue Honda SUV.


For more Sundays In My City by Unknown Mami, click HERE.

How's your Sunday going?

Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com  -  Joanna Jenkins

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lost In The Parking Garage


When the alarm went off at 6:30 this morning, I had to remind myself that I had an 8 o'clock training session at the Apple Store.  Mornings are not my fave time of day and kick-starting my brain for a computer class was not high on my priority list.  But, if you've ever been in an Apple Store, you know the place is usually always crowded and loud-- but not at 8AM before the store opens, thus my appointment.

The store is located in an upscale, outdoor shopping mall and also includes a high end grocery store plus a massive, multi-level, underground parking garage that I many or may not have been lost in a few hundred times over the years.

My session was going along swimmingly and I was picking up bits and pieces of info on my new MacBook Pro (which I LOVE!) when a lovely woman, probably in her 70s-- gorgeous actually, and very elegant-- came into the store clearly upset.  She reminded me of Catherine Deneuve and had the same lovely accent that sounds like a delicious melody despite her unsettled demeanour.

Apparently the woman had had an Apple training session the night before. Afterward she packed up her laptop and stopped by the grocery store.  After filling her cart with food for the week, she skipped the valet parking attendants who help load your groceries into your car and opted to do it herself.

Somehow in the process, she forgot to take her laptop out of the "kid's seat" in the front of the cart and drove off with her computer still in the cart in the parking garage.  She didn't realize her mistake until well after she'd driven home, unloaded her groceries, cooked dinner and had a bath.  In other words, there wasn't a  snowball's chance in hell she would drive back to the mall and still find her cart with the laptop.

Many frantic phone calls to the grocery store and mall security to no avail, she was at the Apple Store bright and early in hopes that some upstanding citizen might have found it, done the right thing, and dropped the laptop off at the Apple Store.

That did not happen.

So there she was, disappointed, upset and embarrassed by her mistake.  The Apple guy, as they always are, was fabulous and helped her "lock her computer" so who ever had it wouldn't be able to use it.  This process included typing a message to appear on the screen telling the thief where to return her computer.

The Apply guy typed with purpose, almost pounding on the keys-- in all bold letters as if to make a stern "I really mean it!" statement.

RETURN THIS COMPUTER TO THE APPLE STORE AT XYZ MALL NOW!!!!!!!!!!

The lovely French woman thought about it for a moment and said in her elegant voice, "That seems rather harsh."  The Apple guy, who was about 22 justified his strong message and commented that he left out a few choice words.

The woman stepped in, erased his message and typed...

Would you please be so kind as to return my computer to the Apple Store at --- mall.  If that is not possible, would you please take a moment and email the photos of my darling grandchildren that can be found in iPhoto to (email address).  I would be most appreciative.
Thank you.

In all honesty, I doubt the computer or photos will ever be seen again but I was impressed by how this lovely woman kept her grace even under difficult circumstances.

If it was me, I'd have said something like...

If you can read message you have my computer which means...

1) Are a really, really great person trying to find the rightful owner. (Me!)  Your karma will be off the carts fantastic if you would kindly return it to the Apple Store.  Please and thank you very much!

2) You've already hacked into my accounts and stolen my identity which means you're greatly disappointed in my net worth and music selection on iTunes.

3) You've wiped my cherished photos clean and already sold the laptop on eBay-- You suck-- Plain and simple.  If your mother knew, she'd slap you across the face and kick you to the curb.

4) Your conscious is eating away at your brain and if you don't do the right thing by returning my laptop, locus, lice, and bedbugs will arrive at your doorstep and in your car before the sun sets.  Seriously.  There's still time to save yourself by returning my computer.  (Pretty please.)

5) If you don't return my computer, for the rest of your life you will know you are a dirty, rotten, thief and you will never, ever, be able to wash that stink off. 

So please, PLEASE, drop off my computer ASAP before you hear the locus buzzing.

What would you say?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com  -  Joanna Jenkins
Photo credit: © Luis Louro - Fotolia.com

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fall Shoe Shopping


There are usually two grueling, unbearably hot weeks in Southern California when I wish I had air conditioning and/or lived somewhere else-- like in a place where it was starting to feel like Fall.   This is one of those weeks.  As if on cue when the calendar turned to September, SoCal is getting blasted with a gigantic heatwave with temps teetering near 100 for the foreseeable future.

I'm spending a lot of time in the pool-- So much time I'm beginning to resemble a prune.

What I'd rather be doing is tossing the flip flops into the back of my closet while I'm pulling out sweaters and shoes and all things cozy.

Actually what I'd rather be doing is shoe shopping-- cuz this girl can always shop for shoes-- in a well air conditioned mall!

But "shoe shopping" has new meaning now with my acting feet requiring more "sensible" shoes.  Sensible does not make shoe shopping nearly as fun as it used to and honestly was a little depressing.  I was instantly shorter without my high heels and dressed a little more matronly than my 55 year old self preferred.


I must have complained about my aching foot and new-- ahem, "fashion style", or lack thereof, a bit too much (sorry about that) because the nice folks at Dansko contacted me and asked if I'd try out a pair of shoes from their lovely new Fall collection.  "Heck yes!" I said and these beauties arrived in my mailbox.

Pretty cute for a pair of "good for you" shoes, don't you think!?!  It's the Dansko Franka cross-strap low cut bootie with a 3 1/2 heel and their signature cushioned footbed.  Man-oh-man, are they comfortable!
 
I'm loving feeling taller again and, dare I say, far hipper in my new booties.  As soon as things cool off in these parts, I'll be wearing them with an outfit like this....  It gives me something to look forward too as this is really how I used to dress.  Kinda classic, kinda hip and able to dress up or down with jewelry.

I'm so happy!

Thanks to Dansko for the cool shoes!  You can find them and all the Dansko styles HERE or HERE on Facebook.  Or, if you're far more techno savvy then me, you can follow then on Twitter @Dansko

Are you ready to dress for Fall?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins



Monday, August 26, 2013

Seriously, I'm asking...


I've been around the block enough times to know right from wrong.  I understand the importance of kindness, tolerance and patience.  And, I'm generally considered by friends and family to be a smart woman with a big heart whose manners are quite good.  If I drank hot tea, I'd hold my pinky out, my napkin is always in my lap at meals, I offer my chair to an elder, and I always bring a hostess gift to parties.  In short, I know life's "rules" and mostly play by them.

So why, for the life of me, can I not figure out the rules of etiquette for a funeral?

Yes-- A funeral.

I have been to countless funerals over the years and have rarely been stumped by one particular "situation" that continously comes up.  Since I'm not getting any younger and neither are my friends and loved ones, I know I will come across this situation again, so perhaps you can help.

Here's what I'm talking about...  And yes, all names have been changed to protect the innocent and I've combined more than one funeral where this question came up.

John passed away.

John and Jan were married for 30 years and had 5 children before divorcing after all the kids were through college and out of the house.  They've been divorced for more than 25 years.  Their children are now grown and all are well on their way to "middle age", with a few having already crossed the 50 year old milestone so they are not "kids".  John and Jan have not spoken more than ten words in the last 25 years so needless to say (no pun intended) it was not a pleasant divorce although they were civil when the necessity required them to both be in the same place at the same time.

Ex-wife Jan now lives with Bob and has for the past 20 years.  She had no intention of marrying Bob because if she did her alimony would cease.  This was a particular bone of contention for John.

John married a second time to a woman named Sue.  They celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary shortly before John very unexpectedly passed away.  They had no children together.  Jan has never spoken a word to new wife Sue and neither have ever been to the other's home.

Of John and Jan's five adult children, three are currently divorced from their (for back of a better term) "original" spouses.  All are either remarried or in long-term relationships.  One has elementary school-aged children.  The other two have college-aged children.  Tension between the ex-spouses definitely exists.   But, the ex-spouses of the adult children had a good relationship with John before he passed away.

And that bring us to my funeral etiquette questions.

Ex-spouses.  Who attends the funeral? 

Do the ex-spouses come back to the family home (John and Sue's house) after the funeral for a meal with everyone else? 

Is the comfort (or discomfort as the case may be) of the grieving widow and adult children a factor to be considered by the ex-spouses resulting in them not attending/participating? 

Where do the ex-spouses sit at the funeral?  (With the family/adult kids in front?)

Do the ex-spouses bring their current partners with them to the funeral and/or home for a meal? 

And how long should an ex-spouse wait to ask for the Death Certificate so he/she can cash in their life insurance policy on the deceased?

What do you think?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com  -  Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © chesky - Fotolia.com

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times...


It's County Fair time back home in Ohio and the pics coming my way have been a real treat.  It makes being homesick a little easier...

And the photos help (or is it distract from?) the deep sadness we feel at the passing of our very dear friend, Bill, after a short illness.  Our hearts are heavy and we miss him terribly.

And now for your viewing enjoyment...

Great Nieces E (age 3) and O (age 2) loved spending time together at the Fair.

E took off her tiara and put on a helmet to win a ribbon in her first horse show-- Which basically included being lead around the ring by her big cousin, but still, that's one huge horse for a little peanut!

One of their horses is known as "The One-Eyed Wonder" because, well, he only has one eye.  So when they did a fun 4-H horse show, my nieces dressed up as-- what else-- One-eyed Pirates!

Niece A won 4-H Outstanding Youth (along with lots of ribbons in horse shows)!  Two days later she was on her way to Ohio State University for her first year of college!  I still can't believe it.  
(And neither can her mother.  A is the baby of the family.)

We were lucky enough to have Niece K (Pirate on the right above) spend a week with us in sunny California.  It was her first visit here and we had a blast seeing all the sights, including the beach.  She's a senior at Ohio State this year.

And I made this quilt top called Glam Clams by pattern designer Latifah Saafir on Saturday.  Latifah taught a fab class at Sew Modern loaded with the tips and tricks to stitch this together.  
It still needs quilted but I'm thrilled with it.

Thanks for letting me brag and please, say a prayer for Bill and his wife and family.

Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com  -  Joanna Jenkins

Thursday, August 15, 2013

High Road


I'm a take-the-high-road kind of girl and have tried to be for as long as I can remember.  Let me tell you-- It's not always easy.  I've nearly bitten my tongue off more times than I can count but when it comes to friends and loved ones, I figure it's best to zip the lips in the heat of the moment regardless of how UNsatisfying it may be.

This is a picture of my niece's horse, Tilly.  I think this sassy mare might be on to something. 

Next time someone pushes my buttons, instead of "zipping it" on my way up the high road, I'll simply stick my tongue out at them and move on.  Maybe it'll leave them wondering what I'm up to.  Ha!

What would you do?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Random Stuff


Somewhere between the teen years and middle age I became very aware of my home and surroundings and the necessity to have a "place for every thing".  As I grew in years, clutter disappeared and I stopped bringing items into my home that I didn't either love or actually need.  Stuff minimized, dust rarely settled, and clutter-free lines and space became my preference.

It wasn't always like that.  Growing up, my bedroom was referred to as "the pig pen" by my parents who repeatedly told me to either clean it up or keep the door closed.  Although I had ample closet and dresser space, my clothes usually lived in piles covering the floor.  In short, it was a mess and the door was always closed, even on hot, humid Ohio nights.

In my 20s I lived in a tiny one room studio apartment and that is perhaps where the transition began.  There simply was no place for endless stuff or untidiness.  I moved into the apartment with my clothes, a few garage sale pots and pans, and a sofa that pulled out into my bed.  That was it.  Slowly the home filled but I learned to edit as I went and the space was actually perfect for me.  I loved that apartment and lived there for several years.


My 30s brought better jobs that netted bigger apartment budgets and more space to fill, but I managed to remain true to my need for useful and cherished possessions.  It also brought the loss of some of my dearest loved ones and the beginning of an accumulation of their possessions that I continue to carry with me today.  This collection of mismatched and very random items has grown significantly but I'm okay with that.

In short, I have become the minimalist with a lot of other people's stuff.

Our home is being repaired and painted this week and I needed to empty cabinets so the workers could move them.  A flood of memories nearly knocked me over, as it always does, when I pulled out piece after piece of mementos, most of which I've never used or displayed but can't bring myself to part with.

There's the single black and gold high ball glass I remember my Dad liked so much, although I have no memory of him ever drinking from it, and all the remaining glasses from the set are long gone. The silk tassels from my dear Mrs. Smith-- the ones she kept in her nightstand but for her own personal reasons unknown to me, couldn't part with are with me too as is my grandmother's blue cookie tin that never held cookies but always sat on the corner shelf of her living room-- I have them all stored carefully in a cabinet in my dining room, all out of sight but perfectly protected.


The most recent acquisition-- blue and white "pigs" salt and pepper shakers belonged to my late step-father's first wife-- She loved them so he kept them on a shelf in the living room he and my mother shared for 20 years.  None of his five children wanted them when Dave passed away two years ago this week, but I figured if he couldn't part with them, then they shouldn't land in their garage sale so I kept them for him, safe in my cabinet.


When I carefully unwrapped my favorite "pointy black olive dishes" as they've always been referred to, I burst into tears-- something that caught me a bit off guard.  These dishes graced the dining table of my youth-- the times when we used the "good china" and "fancy napkins".  They each held a jar of black olives, which for our large, budget conscious family, was considered a real treat.  These dishes were always the last thing dad would place on the table before dinner was served but the first things that were eaten and emptied before anyone even had the chance to sit down and say grace.

Those "pointy dishes" were hot targets for me and my young siblings and olives were swiped by the handful despite Mom and Dad's best efforts to chase us away and "save them for company".

All of the "points" are chipped and sharp, making the dishes totally unusable but still, I can not bear to part with them.  Their memories are too vivid and the happiness and laughter they brought to our family over the years are still to fresh-- or is it raw?-- since my dad passed away so very long ago.

My cabinet is filled with eleven pairs of crystal candlesticks from countless loved ones who passed them on to me because they knew "I'd keep them safe".  There's also the silver candle sticks my parents gave my dad's folks for their 25th wedding anniversary.  These are one of the few things I use on a regular basis-- and always keep them polished out of respect, and frankly pride, that I have them.

I found it very unsettling to look out over my dining room table and living room this week-- dust, clutter and stuff everywhere.  I've come to realize that perhaps I'm getting a little eccentric in my old age with "the need for clean" as a sink with a few dirty dishes, an untidy closet or a room covered in plastic makes me uncomfortable and, dare I say, unable to sleep until it's tidied up.

It's also true that my collection of stuff will no doubt continue to grow as more loved ones pass and mementos are shared with me.  I wonder what will happen to it all when I'm gone.  That is a questions I probably will never have an answer to.

Looking around our home, there are so many things I love and cherish-- all carefully selected and accumulated over the nearly 25 years my husband and I have been together.  I wonder if they'll be passed on and loved as dearly as we do.  Each hold special memories and most have a story about how or where we found them.  I'd like to think at least some of our things will be cherished by the younger generation and not relegated to a garage sale, but again that is an answer I will never know.

But, it's truly the random, mismatched items in my cabinet that pull at my heartstrings the most and bring that lump in my throat that makes me swallow hard not to cry.  Each piece has a story, some known only to the person that gave it to me, but a story nevertheless that I hold dear and cherish.

Do you accumulate have "random stuff"?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com  -  Joanna Jenkins
Photo Credit: © Jan Jansen - Fotolia.com

Friday, July 19, 2013

Star Sightings

Star sighting below... 
Friday Fragments

About ten years ago I felt bad that the March of Dimes organization kept mailing me a dime (10 cents) along with a slew of personalized mailing labels so I sent them $10 and asked them to please stop wasting their money on me.  My pledge was simple-- I'd send them money if they stopped spending it on me.  Made sense to me.  Apparently it didn't make sense to the March of Dimes because I now have a jar full of dimes and about 10,000 mailing labels. I'm sure this method of fund raising must work for them because it's their age old tradition for the cause but it's one giant guilt trip for me.

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Wouldn't be be nice if Word Verification was more meaningful-- like a word of the day with definitions or a person's name from history with a brief bio, or even winning lottery numbers-- anything but the hard to read gibberish they have now.

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I'm trying to watch Orange is the New Black on NetFlix, based on a true story about a woman in prison.  Let me tell you, it's a lot of work with plenty of cringing.  Not sure I'm going to make it past episode 4.  Do you NetFlix?

And how about those Emmy Nominations?  I'm guessing the big TV network guys have a lot of explaining to do.  No Best Drama shows from the "big four" which appear to be shrinking by the minute!

But, I'm so glad Downton Abbey was recognized and I loved House of Cards with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.

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And speaking of celebrities, I had three "star sightings" this past week.

First was the lavender-haired Kelly Osbourne (E! News and Fashion Police) at the local Thai restaurant Husband and I frequent.  I have to say, the lavender hair is really lovely in person-- way better than it looks on television.


And, I sat in on a fascinating Q&A following the movie Still Mine starring James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold, both Oscar nominees.  It's a love story about a couple married for 60 years.  He wants to build a house on his land-- smaller and more manageable for the couple, but runs into problems with both the building department and health issues.  It's heart-felt and funny and sad and uplifting.  I enjoyed it very much.

As for the two stars-- absolutely delightful.  James Cromwell is well over 6' 6" tall and still has a school boy twinkle in his eye.  He's much younger than many of the rolls he plays and, honestly, he's kinda sexy.  Ms Bujold is a tiny little thing and stunning with a dry sense of humor and a love for her art.  I highly recommend Still Mine... if you can find it in a theater near you.  It's in limited release.

Have a great weekend.


Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lesson Learned

I'd like to think I'm a fast learner-- that I pick up on things quickly, and learn from my mistakes.  It started at a young age and in my 55 years, I've regularly thought about these lessons as I trot through life.

Take my earliest memory of a hair cut for example.  I learned never to cut your own bangs like my big sister did, especially the day before you were getting your picture taken.


When my baby brother was born, eight years after me, I learned that I did not like folding cloth diapers which we used back in the day.  And I learned that if mom accidentally washed the white diapers with a pair of new red shorts, baby brother would be wearing pink diapers much to my mother's chagrin.

I learned that dressing for a luau party was fun at the time but "flashback" photos tend to crack up the entire family.

This is my baby brother and dad about 30 years ago.  My brother just sent this and it's my new fave picture of my dad who passed away nearly 20 years ago.  I'm pretty sure neither of them are wearing anything pink under those white pants.

For the first half of my life I tried to get out of my hometown and in the second half of my life I learned home will always be O H I O...

 My nieces, all for our which will be attending The Ohio State University in the Fall.

After years of trying to out-do Martha Stewart, I finally learned it's exhausting and the food tastes exactly the same on paper plates as it does on all those dishes that needed to be washed after a dinner party.  I've also learned that ordering food in, or better yet, dining out is awesome and totally stress-free.

I learned that after my retirement, it was really hard to "find my groove" and daily routine without working 60+ hours a week at my former job.  That was much harder than I ever expected it could possibly be.  For a good long time I think the lady at the post office thought I was stalking her with my near daily visits for stamps just so I'd have an excuse to get out of the house and talk to someone.

In retirement, I finally learned to quilt, which is a hobby I always wanted to tackle but never had the time for.  I've shared several of my quilts in this space, each with a great sense of accomplishment.  But with the quilt below, that "Woo-hoo!  I did it!" high that comes with the last stitch faded quickly...

Back of quilt is super soft and not nearly a shiny as it appears in this photo.

The lesson learned here is that one should always prewash their fabrics before sewing, including the backing fabric-- ALWAYS-- because the one time you don't-- things can get very muddy.

 My quilt before washing...

 And after.  Oy.

The quilt is still cool (sort of, I think) but instead of the bright "popping" white that gave it a bit of a three dimensional look, after washing, the gold backing fabric "bled" and the white became a pastel yellow.  Some of the coolness is definitely lacking.  (All this gorgeous cotton quilt fabric is from the best fabric store ever--SewModernOnline.com in Los Angeles.)

But, I've also learned not to sweat the small stuff so my bright "white" quilt is a little less modern and a little softer, shall we say.  And the memory of my brother's pink diapers is fresh in my mind-- That makes me smile.

What have you learned?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Maybe Later

 
The other day (two long months ago), I received a package from my favorite UPS delivery person.  He handed it to me with a smile and said "good-luck".

I'd decided it was time to get ready for summer with a workout that several friends have been doing.  They swear it's "only 30 minutes a day".  Stressing "only" numerous times so as not to mention "brutal" as well.  I say "brutal" because my friends moan and groan a lot when they walk, lift their arms or try to stand up.

But, I figured "If they can do it, I can do it."

And I did... I ordered the DVDs and workout package.


That's all I've done so far.

Today I actually opened the box and instantly felt intimidated by the bad-ass looking Jillian Michaels on the cover.  I know she's in great shape but I am praying to the heavens above that there is a significant amount of airbrushing going on in her photo.  (A girl can dream.)


There is no doubt that I'm feeling the need to get into better shape and at the rate I'm going, I'm pretty sure I might, maybe, possibly, could be ready for "big sweater weather this winter".

How's your Sunday going?
Welcome to www.TheFiftyFactor.com - Joanna Jenkins