Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Party Talk and my Not-so-Secret Obsession



My new book club had their Christmas party at one of the nicest restaurants in the area, a beautiful marble, glass and stainless steel place on a golf course in the high rollers part of town. I was the only person wearing a Christmas sweater. Not true at the other two parties I attended this year where holiday wear was the norm including elf and Santa hats. These ladies “cleaned up nicely” as they say. Professional looking, quality clothing etc., etc., and three of them walked up to me with their hands stuck out to shake as they introduced themselves. I don’t like to shake hands especially during flu season but I did it with grace (I hope) and I was glad a woman across the table from me wasn’t one of the hand shakers. She shared the fact that she’s had “the flu” since visiting her family in Texas over Thanksgiving. She can’t get rid of it even after spending a few days in the hospital and taking a ton of medication. Thanks for sharing.

After writing “these ladies cleaned up nicely” I decided to google the phrase to pinpoint where it came from. The earliest reference I could find was a 1989 Seinfeld clip of Kramer saying it to Jerry when they were both wearing tuxedos, but my search was brief and I could have missed something. I did learn that the phrase appears on a list of eight things you should never say to anyone. Apparently, many people take it as an insult. People used to say it to my husband and we never took offense. He got grubby at work and play and did clean up well going from chimney sweeper dirty to GQ Cool. Language changes over time and thank goodness for that. Otherwise we’d all still be talking like Shakespeare: “What art thou that usurp’st this time of night…” but on the con side of changing language is we have to keep current. Last year a snowflake was just a beautiful ice crystal, this year it's anyone who is easily offended or can't deal with opposing opinions.

I already knew and like half the women in this book club from various activities around the senior hall and this party was an opportunity to get to know the other half. One lady, I learned, I will be avoid commenting on anything she says about current events. When the topic of what people watch or don’t watch on TV came up she announced, “I never watch politics because it’s always changing. ALWAYS!” Say what? What can you watch on TV that isn’t changing, a color pattern late at night in 1955? And when the waitress left the room for the last time the young girl said, “Happy holidays, ladies!” to which the woman who claims she doesn’t watch politics screamed out in a loud booming voice, “It’s Merry Christmas! Christmas is back!” Okay, that was my queue to buy a Starbucks coffee on the way home since they’re so-called foot soldiers in the so-called war on Christmas. I got so buzzed up on coffee last year over the red cup controversy that the car thought it was programmed to go to Starbucks drive-thou on every trip out of the garage. 

Another lady said she never watches TV because it makes her mad when a certain person comes on which I assumed was Mr. Trump but it could have been Captain Kangaroo for all I know. The vast major of those around the table of twelve said they hardly ever watch TV or they just watch PBS or classic movies. I kept quiet about the fact that turning on the television is the first thing I do in the morning and turning it off is the last thing I do at night. One woman said she thought people who watch cable news are always angry and the ‘color pattern’ lady agreed. Am I always angry? I must be a good actress if that’s true because I’ve never been accused of being perpetually angry…nor am I a Snowflake. I would never, for example, scream out, “It’s Merry [frigging] Christmas! Christmas is back!” which was an angry, joy-sucking political statement if I ever heard one. 

Party talk aside---the political kind, not the be merry kind that dominated most of the luncheon---one of the ladies at the party makes salves and potions out of essential oils and she brought a basket full of products to give away, so I went home with a gift that I love for the tin it came in. I love tiny seed-saver style tins even though I have no garden or seeds to save. I do have some seed savers with glass tops that I use to display special stones or sea shells. Want to hear another confession? When I empty out a pickle or other glass jar that has no printing on the lid, I wash it out and fill it with stones or shells. I know that sounds hoarder-lady like and the photos above and below probably bear witness to the fact that I could be headed in the direction. If you ever see me at the recycling center picking through glass jars please do an intervention. ©
 
yes, that wicker planter is filled with rocks

my sun porch is running out of empty windowsills

seed savers

55 comments:

  1. glad you had a good time, for the most part, and won that prize!

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  2. I did have fun and anytime I find something to use as blog fudder it's a bonus.

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  3. I've mentioned this before, but I hate it when people who are sick show up at parties, and then talk about how sick they are. If you're contagious, stay home!

    I don't collect anything, but I do have a bowl of heart-shaped shells that H collected for me over the years. They are not whole shells, but rather shells that have broken and been worn into the shape of a heart by the ocean.

    I don't own a Christmas sweater or shirt, but I did see a cute one online and kind of wanted it. It's too late now, but I think I will try to find something cute next year.

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    1. It's my pet peeve, too, when people talk about being sick with something that at some point in time was/is contagious. We're left to assume they're past that point, but that's the one thing they don't mention. The hospital told her that strain of whatever she had takes 6 weeks to shake.

      You do collect something---beautiful things to fill your house and porch puppy has quite a wardrobe. LOL

      The Christmas sweater I got was on the classy understated side, with a red barn, a fence and red bows on the fence. Try Land's End next year. They had a lot of them different patterns. Might even have some left on sale.

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  4. Oh, those "I Never Watch TV" People. Are they waiting for a trophy?

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    1. For some people I think it's a form of bragging that they are too sophisticated for TV but for others it's just a way of saying they are too busy. No one admitted to watching any TV shows made in the past 35 years. LOL But, like me, not everyone shared their opinion of television either so who knows if I was the only one who likes to keep up on pop culture and the news. I can multitask through just about anything.

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  5. Too peopley for me. I couldn't go to something like that. My tongue would be bleeding.

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    1. As my brother often says, "it builds character" to do something you don't want to do. LOL I enjoy listening to people talk, to figure out what makes them tick, where they get their ideas and prejudices. I'll have to get to know theses ladies better before I join in though. I don't think my silly kind of humor is going to work well in this group like it does in my Gathering Girls group.

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  6. One of my golfing buddies pumps fists saying good by and I like it especially is people have any sickness. I like it. Now as far as " Merry Christmas ", I've always said " Merry Christmas ". I really don't like the statement " Happy Holidays ". People can say anything they want but me it will always be " Merry Christmas".
    Starbucks coffee makes me ill. So I try to stay away from it. I enjoy MacDonald's coffee and at home I'm trying Keurig finest Canadian Blend light roast. I'm enjoying that now.
    Now as far as Trump is concerned, I'm not going to let that ass bother me during this Christmas season. I'll wait until after Hew Years when the Democrats control the House. Then it should good. Amazing Jean, I'm a Canadian and I may even act like an American, a Democrat LOL Have a great day my good friend and that comment about being a Democrat, my cousin Tony was a true Democrat. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I don't care if people say, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" or "Shalom" or "Happy Kwaznaa." If everyone lived their beliefs and didn't try to impose them on others, the world would be a better place.

      You live so close to the border, Paul, it would be hard not to hear about what goes on on this side. It's like a train wreck you can't stop watching.

      Have a good Christmas!

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    2. Believe it Jean, we get more American news then Canadian news but I'm happy being just across the river. Have a Merry Christmas my good friend. See ya.

      Cruisin Paul

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  7. Saving your pretty stones and shells in glass jars makes sense to me. Less dusting! I was one of those people who never watched TV because I was stupid busy with a full-time job, earning a masters degree and caring for a husband with OCD. I am now catching up on all the great TV I missed...shows like Six Feet Under (LOVE!!!). Thank goddess for Netflix, Amazon Prime and Crave TV streaming old content, I say! I can finally find out what everyone was talking about (at the time of original airing).

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    1. Where we're at in life does make a difference on how much time we have for media of any kind. These ladies are all retired so I'm looking forward to finding out what they do with their time. I know quite a few people in my peer age group that run their grand-kids around or baby sit. I'll bet you're missing your daughter this Christmas.

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    2. You got that right, Jean. But I have booked my flight to see her later in January and am so excited for this trip!!!

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  8. I never understood people who show up at gatherings sick. Mercy. That is carrying gifting too far. Sounds like you had an interesting party which is what we all hope for. People watching can be fun.
    I do TV like you do but really don't listen much. I mainly do it to drown out my tinnitus.

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    1. I have tinnitus, too, and come to think of it, the only time it really bothers me is when the house is quiet! I don't know why I never connected that two things before. Thanks!

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  9. A lot of libraries I have visited have galleries with exhibitions. We were in the Los Angeles main Library recently and in their gallery was an exhibition of 36 different peoples collections. Some of them were very amusing. One person collected the stubs of pencils and made them into art projects. There was a collection of the soda cans flip ring that was made into a chair. Collecting rocks or shells are normal collections. These were all amusing because they were all weird!
    The LA library felt very cool that way-it really felt like a people’s library.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. Soda can art can be really pretty . I saw one display where the person sanded off all the print and graphics, then polished the cans and then the magic started. I would have loved seeing the show you saw.

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  10. Dear Jean, when I would come home from school, complaining that one of my classmates said this or that or liked this or that and who could believe it--my mom would always say to me, "'Everyone to their own desires,' said Mrs. O'Malley as she kissed the cow!" I didn't understand what she meant the first few times she said it, but ultimately, I got it: we all like different things in different ways for different reasons and it's best to simply accept that. It would seem you have and so I'm thinking that you don't have to apologize in any way for appreciating the beauty of rocks and stones and crystals and putting them in whatever bottle is available so that you may gaze at them! Peace.

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    1. I used to say I collect collections but most of them relate back to things that make me feel warm and fuzzy---Cracker Jack toys, beach stones and shells, buttons. I think one thing that fascinated me about you (or any nun) when I read your book is how one can live---by choice---without possessions. That's such a foreign concept to someone who can hardly go anywhere without finding a peddle to bring home.

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    2. Dear Jean, in the convent I really had no problem with not having possessions, but I was so grateful when the novice mistress let me keep the two books of poetry that my parents gave me for the two Christmases I was in the novitiate. I took them out on mission with me and read them over and over. And, although I had no other possessions, I was always picking up interesting rocks and pebbles and putting them next to my ceramic bowl, which I filled with water each night so I could wash my face the next morning. Always, I was collecting, as you do, natural objects of beauty. Peace.

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    3. Interesting, Dee! Thank you so much for sharing that. There is something about pebbles, shells and feathers that connect us with something deeper.

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  11. Ugh. The whole "War on Christmas" fallacy. It's so ridiculous for the Mango-in-Chief to declare he's brought Christmas back. It never left. Christmas is ubiquitous, you can't escape it. I like what Texan Kinky Friedman said: "May the God of your choice bless and keep you this holiday season."

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    1. I know! And boy, do I love the Friedman quote!

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  12. As I lay here coughing, I think it is fine to say “I don’t shake hands” ... if they ask, pull out your hand sanitizer!

    I would not have anything upscale to wear to that kind of a luncheon. Oh, one black floor length skirt.

    I never have the TV on as there is enough background noise here! I did in Maui.

    Now I need to get a Christmas vest for next year!!!

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    1. You have two little noise machines running around, you don't need TV to add background noise. LOL

      Gosh, I couldn't in a hundred years say, "I don't shake hands." I admire you if you can do that. I also don't believe I've ever been one to initiate a handshake and I'm assuming those who did it at the party had the kind of jobs in business where it was an every day thing.

      This year they even had Christmas pants!

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    2. People who try to shake hands with me get a surprise, because the stroke affected my right side, and my right hand and arm just don't work at all. I still haven't figured out how to handle it/what to do. Most of the time I stick out my left hand, or take their outstretched right hand with my left, but it always feel so awkward. I wonder what other people with right-side strokes do.

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    3. That's a difficult and probably painful situation to be in. My husband was right side paralyzed and used a wheelchair and once in awhile someone tried shake his hand. He'd pick up his 'bad' hand with his 'good' hand and let it go flopping down. It was kind of funny watching people fal all over themselves to apologize.

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  13. I love those little seed saver tins. Fun to go to the group and come home with something -- and that you love!

    When I've been sick and not sure how I'm doing and am meeting new people, I have taken to doing the Japanese hands-together, head bow (which I think everyone should do). Sometimes you just don't want to shake hands. (Says the woman who has had the sinus infection for two weeks and sounds gruesome! No one wants to shake mine!)

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    1. I like that! I'll have to practice that Japanese greeting before the next set of parties I have to attend. Hope your sinus infection clears up soon. Those are sure annoying.

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  14. I have to admit that the "I never watch TV" or "We have a TV, but it only gets PBS" people bring out my reverse snobbery; I tend to react by talking incessantly about all my favorite TV shows of the past several decades. ;-)

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    1. I was taken by surprise by how much conversation this topic generated. I like your approach. Better than me being ashamed to admit how much time the TV is on.

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  15. I listen to NPR all day long because there's generally something pretty interesting, but once I'm weary, (which is getting earlier and earlier) I hit the sofa and on goes the TV. Mostly YouTube and Netflix these days, but I love being able to pick what I want to watch.

    When Merry Christmas became politically incorrect I threw up my hands. It goes too far sometimes. I say whatever I feel like saying.

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  16. Crazy isn't. I thought with Glen Beck off the air the so-called war would die down. Then Trump took it up.

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  17. I really enjoyed reading your blog, as I always do, but could easily have felt the same as you at your party. I also collect stones, glass, shells etc from where we travel here in Australia as we do a lot of outback exploring and there is always broken glass which has weathered and I have even found little perfume bottles which have turned purple, so pretty. I put them in a large glass vase and have it sitting on my laundry bench. I don't collect anything else but I do love to fossick around the old ghost towns and the remote beaches. Have a great Christmas. Thanks for your blog.

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    1. How could anyone not collect little purple bottles in their travels about Australia? I know I couldn't. I have some beach glass, too, but nothing purple.

      My husband and I used to love exploring ghost towns as well so we have that in common, too. Thanks for commenting and you have a good Christmas, too!

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  18. I have a few vices and watching TV is one. I like to keep up with the news and certainly not with Fox. I like having Amazon Prime, Acorn TV (British) and sometimes Netflix. I also watch some PBS.
    My other vice is my iPad which is mostly for blogs I follow and news articles.

    And then there’s eating out with a drink with a few select friends. I find it difficult to be with people who are not like minded in politics and religious views. I just prefer to feel comfortable with what I may say and I don’t like confrontation.

    I don’t really collect anything in particular although I save quotes, essays, scenic pictures and short poems on my IPad.

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    1. Saving quotes, essays and short poems on you iPad IS a collection every bit as much as having something physical in your hand to save in mass. I don't save essays, but I do collect quotes.

      I don't mind being with people whose views are different than mind but I keep my thoughts to myself when I'm doing it...it's fair game for blog fodder, though. But I much perfect to be with friends who you can say anything in their presence, but it took me a long time of searching for a group like that after my husband died.

      I wish I could watch Netflix but the volume on my Kindle is not loud enough and my TVs are probably to old to interface.

      Have a good Christmas, Mary.

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  19. B.B. Over at "What's She Thinking": I've haven't been able to comment on your blog. The comment link keeps taking me to dead place. I am able to read your posts through the email notice, though. I love your humor and baby grand stories.

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    1. I can't get into B.B.'s blog anymore
      I have baskets of rocks and jars of shells in every room, it seems. I think living in Michigan, we all became Rock Hounds, scouring the beaches for that elusive Agate or Petoskey stone.

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    2. I hope she sees yours and my comment. I hate that she had to go private.

      Maybe it is a Michigan thing. I know others who have stones and shells around. I have bought polished Petoskey stones but only found one of two.

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  20. Well, I have to confess I'm one of those "never watch tv" sorts. I couldn't if I wanted to, since I threw out the televisions in 2011. I will occasionally pick up something particularly interesting via computer from time to time, but in truth, I'd rather be doing than watching. In time, age or disability may make television more useful and appealing, but for now, I'm happy without it.

    I never heard the expression about cleaning up nicely until I moved to Texas, and someone told me I did. The first time, I didn't know what to think. Then, I learned it was a compliment, and all was well. I first heard it in 1973, the same year I was introduced to Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. That was a bit of a revelation, too.

    I'm as much a collector as you are. There's a copper basket full of rocks from everywhere, a floor vase filled with red-stemmed dogwood from Minnesota, a plastic box with red, white, and blue crawfish shells, railroad tie spikes from four states... Etc. etc. Of course there's the china, too, but if I have to make a run for it, the rocks will go with me and the china can fend for itself.

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    1. My TVs could lose their pictures and I probably wouldn't notice as long as the sound works. It's background noise as I multitask 100% of the time except the last half hour it's on and I'm in bed.

      If you heard the 'cleans up nicely' back in the '70s then it wasn't Kramer who coined it. Gotta go looking again.

      When we moved into this house we had some large cut stones from the foundation of my husband's family barn that went down in a tornado. We gave my brother-in-law some that he put around a fire pit and what was left I had moved here. So it's safe to say that rocks go with me, too. I'd say it was the Native American in me that has me collecting stones, shells and bird feathers but my DNA doesn't agree. I'd love to see your box of crawfish shells I didn't know they came in colors.

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  21. Isn’t this how we build up immunity, getting exposed a little bit to some “bugs” our immune system needs to fight — I just don’t know how to prevent getting too much of the bug that can overwhelm my defenses. Just keep our hands away from any “orifice” — nose, eyes, mouth — and wash our hands a lot as hand sanitizer may not be that effective according to one article I recall reading.



    I’ve heard that “you clean up nicely” expression for as long as I can remember — probably was prevalent even in my mother’s generation — maybe what was said to people with really dirty grimy work who washed up clean I.e. coal miners, other types manual dirty dusty laborers, etc.

    Rock hunting was a big deal in late forties when I was a kid and we lived in AZ for awhile. Adults with their little pick hammers or whatever they were called roamed the desert looking for all sorts of rocks — often various kinds of agate, and other stones they’d make into jewelery. Pop came home one time with amethyst, or onyx, I think he found out it was, but when he went back to try to find the big rock from which he took it, cause would have been worth some money, he never could find it. I gathered some stones then, too, and still am known to pick up some that catch my eye, so know there are a few around the house here. More “stuff” as I rightsize, I guess.

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    1. I don't trust or use hand sanitizers much. But I do wash my hands a lot. Keeping our immune system healthy is probably the best think we can do for ourselves.

      I tried again to find out where the idiom started but all I can find is that it's not considered a nice thing to say.

      I'll bet there are areas of AZ where you cant't legally take rocks out of nature. We have a law in Michigan that limits the size of certain stones you can take. Someone actually went to court on a stone stealing last year. I can see why stone your dad found would be a special connection.

      "Righsizing" a house sounds just as hard to do as downsizing.

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    2. I've heard that saying used on numerous occasions with affection, good-natured humor.

      The rock hunting was in the late forties in open desert and there were no laws against it -- was a big hobby, business for a lot of people. Probably changed now.

      In Hawaii, at least on the Big Island with the volcano, it is against the law to take the lava rocks. Locals believe that if you do spirit one away you'll have bad luck and have stories to support that belief.

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    3. Me too on hearing the saying in an affection way. I was shocked that others find in insulting. I suspect they are the the glass is half empty types.

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  22. I heard of a book this week on Science Friday on NPR and it’s called You’re gonna eat That?!
    Was full of good advice but in a funny way about germs and eating.

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    1. There must be more than one book with that title. The one I found on Amazon said this about it: "A wacky and very funny photographic journey showcasing some very creative food concoctions and funny food histories." The one you heard about does sound fun...but scary at the same time.

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  23. Sorry I had the title wrong

    https://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/0393609758/sciencefriday/

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  24. Very close titles! Looks interesting but scary.

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  25. "I would never, for example, scream out, “It’s Merry [frigging] Christmas! Christmas is back!” which was an angry, joy-sucking political statement if I ever heard one." I just guffawed out loud in my kitchen over this line! You are so funny.

    And puh-leaze about those who claim to never watch TV or "only PBS"....pshaw! That reminds me of when I was a preschool mommy and TV was the devil incarnate apparently since we were constantly competing to out-"no" each other on our kids watching TV ("only Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers!" and only for 30 mins a day!) They did not have my hell-raising son. I admit it; every afternoon I turned on the TV for up to two whole hours to give myself a mental health break so I could keep going until bedtime! Anyway, several years ago I declared how much I love TV and there are a million really quality shows on and I try hard to catch some of them. No apologies. Feels good.

    Also, hand sanitizers are pretty good at killing bacteria, but worthless with viruses, which is what norovirus is (the pukey/poopy "stomach flu"). So I wash fastidiously all winter!

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    1. I'm guessing women in my generation are afraid of getting labeled when they admit to watching television because we were labeled back in the day when we didn't work outside the home and soap operas were popular. Someone even asked at the party if they are still on and conversation followed with people naming the soaps they USED to watch. That's my theory, anyway.

      Thanks for the reminder about hand sanitizers and the norovirus!

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  26. I watched the ABC trio (All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital) faithfully for years as a stay at home mom....but I started GH when I was like in middle school. Don't watch anymore though. I recall my mom watching Secret Storm (even recall her listening to it on the radio!) and Edge of Night. Soaps! Have not thought of that in years! :)

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    1. I started watching the Bold and Beautiful in the early '70s when it first started and I still see it once or twice a week, if I'm home. Some of their stars have been on it since the beginning but need to stop with the plastic surgeries! I used to work from home back in the '70s and they were my "co-workers" as I made wedding flowers. LOL

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