State of the Blog – January


So a new year has arrived and with it new opportunity here on the blog to explore areas I wish to delve into.  I love this blog and want to make it something special for those who come to visit, so I will be visiting several new ideas and series over the next few weeks as I try once again to define just where Set in My Ways is going.

Yesterday’s post The Good Wife got plenty of visits – and I was pleased to see that. Which means I will most likely be writing more posts like that one. Also I will be doing a series that details my adventures in weight loss… my very first time in my life dieting. I’ve joined a focus group at work to test a new diet product one of our providers is offering and I’ll be in a three month study. I do not know yet how much I am allowed to say about my progress and the product here -but will find out when I sign my waivers this coming week. Once I know more, I’ll certainly share with you all.

I don’t really have a lot of actual weight to lose, but I do need to lose some inches… and tone the “girls” down a bit… in order to fit into my formal for our cruise this spring… Yes, I said that right – I’m going on a cruise this spring. To the Bahamas baby… yeah – life is that good. That too will be shared as it will be a bunch of firsts for me… First time out of the country, on a cruise ship, and taking a major vacation with one of my adult kids. I’m sure there will be plenty of photos to share!

I hope to be able to share some delish new recipes, as I explore healthier eating and cooking in the coming year.

Oh, and definitely look for some more Norman Rockwell inspired posts coming soon. If you missed them last time you can find them here.

Well, I guess that about sums it up. Happy 2014 Ya’ll!

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The Old Man…


Sorry I skipped out on you guys yesterday! I had some stuff going on, and well… real life got in the way. Has a habit of doing that sometimes I think.
Today’s installment of my trip down memory lane is based on this image from Norman Rockwell. The image is from Art.com, and the inspiration behind these posts comes from my blog bud Bert!

"Outward Bound"

“Outward Bound”

My grandfather Art was my hero. I called him papa and he was fundamental in shaping my life when I was growing up. I always associate this particular image with him. His friends called him Captain Art – and he was a shrimp boat captain. When my mother was growing up they traveled from Florida to Texas and back every year. When I was a baby, we did the same thing.

Papa was always the man who looked on the good side of things. It didn’t matter to him what had happened – everything had a “sunny side” as he put it. He always told me to “Keep my sunny side up”. I laughed then thinking he was inferring that I was an egg; thought it was a joke.

As I grew older I realized that he was teaching me a very valuable lesson. A lesson I have tried to pass down to my own kids over the years… that lesson is one of the value of a positive attitude. No matter what you are faced with be positive.

I have never been a “glass half-empty” kind of girl – no matter what was going on in my life I always found something positive in it. I have continued that practice to this day. It really bugs the DH because he is so not a glass half full kind of guy. He likes to “prepare for the worst, and hope for the best”. That’s not even something I know how to do!

Think about some of the most valuable lessons you learned growing up… who taught them to you, and what were they?

Dolly


Today is day three of my salute to Norman Rockwell, as inspired by our dear blog friend Bert.

The image I chose for today is this one:

"Canine Solo"

“Canine Solo”

When I was a kid we had dogs, (still do but these were not “my” dogs). My grandmother had two, a poodle named Pete, and a little rat-terrier that she called Dolly. Now, both of these dogs were grandma’s “babies” for sure. Pete was your typical poodle, standoffish, regal, and stately. He had an air about him that just said “I am in fact, much better than that”. Dolly on the other hand, was the attention hound. She would wriggle and writhe and shake her whole body in an effort to get attention from anyone who would give it to her. A spunky 8 year old with boundless energy, I was her favorite playtime pal. We would spend hours running about the yard chasing anything that moved, from leaves in the fall to snowflakes in the winter to butterflies in the spring to rabbits in the summer. I don’t think she ever caught anything – at least nothing that was alive.

Dolly’s most impressive talent however was her intense hatred of the word “Kennedy”. Somehow, she had come by this hatred through my grandma. See, this was the year that Teddy Kennedy was running for election. My grandma did not like Mr. Kennedy – not one bit and she shared that information with anyone in hearing distance any time the man was on television. Now, Dolly was a smart little dog who loved to sing. She would throw her little head back and howl anytime grandma turned the television to Hee Haw or Lawrence Welk – especially if there were banjos – oh how she loved to sing to the banjos.

My grandma thinking this was the cutest thing ever, decided that she was going teach Dolly to express her dislike of Mr. Kennedy as well… She would sit for hours and sing “Kennedyyyyyyyyy” and Dolly would howl along. After a while it got to the point that every time Dan Rather or Walter Cronkite (only two newsmen alive that were worth a darn to here grandma tell it) would say “Kennedy” Dolly would throw her head back and howl. Much to my grandfather’s dismay. There wasn’t a peaceful newscast in our house until the Tedmeister lost that election. Not a single one. Granddad missed nearly a year of six o’clock news because of that silly little dog. And grandma? She’d just throw her head back and howl right along with her; then laugh uproariously.

Grandma and Dolly are both gone now, and I long for the days of Dolly’s sing a longs! How about you? Did you have a quirky pet that did something so silly, talented, or funny that you just couldn’t get enough of it?

 

Stay tuned! Tomorrow will be Day 4 of my Norman Rockwell series entitled – The Wild Child 

Misty


Today is the second day of the Norman Rockwell series. The inspiration for this series is courtesy of Bert’s blog, where he tells amazing stories of “men and women doing the right thing”. If you haven’t yet, please head over to his site and give him some bloggy love. All of the art for this series is from Art.com.

Today’s image inspiration:

At the Vets - March 29, 1952

At the Vets – March 29, 1952

I will never forget Misty. She was my first dog, and my very best friend for almost 10 years. We were constant companions until the day she slipped quietly over the Rainbow Bridge. She came into my life via a cruel and heartless owner who threw her away like a bouncing ball. Coincidentally, that’s how the crass bastard threw her from his car – he tossed her little ball out the door and out she went after it. He then slammed his car door and off he went leaving that sweet little baby in his wake.

It just so happened that my neighbor Mark and I went outside not long after and heard her rustling around under the trailer. We looked and there she was, all cute and cuddly and white… and muddy. Cowering in the chill of November and holding her ball in her mouth. I quickly went back inside and slipped back out with a bunch of turkey from our feast that afternoon (something I did in fact in in major trouble for). After what seemed like hours, she finally got close enough for me to grab her. When I did she dropped her ball, and it rolled into the yard – she dashed after it and brought it back to me… dropping it at my feet – and I was hooked y’all.

I named her Misty after the weather outside that day, it was hazy, overcast, and cold with a light rain drizzling down on us. In that single ball dropping moment, she became my best friend forever. We spent hours with that silly ball. She preferred the bright yellow tennis balls that I substituted after a week of not being able to find the little blue racquet ball she came to me with.

She was a Cockapoo or so said the veterinarian we visited with her not long after her arrival – shots and a check up were the order of the day. She became a part of our little family, and my dad’s dog dutch fell in love with her.

The first time she went into heat they bred, and after she miscarried after only two weeks of pregnancy, she was immediately taken to the vet and spayed – she almost died, as did I.

When my dad passed away a few years later she was there to lay on my bed as I cried for hours on end. She was there to play ball for hours and hours when I needed a distraction from all the grief and pain. She was there to watch over me as I slept a fitful and nightmarish sleep for those first few months.

She moved with my mom and I when we went to Florida – the only one of the dogs we had to make the “moving cut”. The others, two German Shepherds and a Great Dane were donated to loving families prior to our departure. She was there as I learned the ropes of a new neighborhood and was the catalyst for me to make new friends.

She had a real passion for my grandmothers chocolate chip cookies – at one point enlisting the cat in her fiendish addiction; coercing him to knock the sealed container from the top of the refrigerator in order to chew a hole through my grandmothers Tupperware pie keeper to get to the rich chocolaty goodness inside.

She had a run in with a bunch of saran wrap at one point, prompting another trip to the vet and an unfortunate surgery to remove three feet of the stuff from her stomach. A surgery I was allowed to “scrub in” for at the ripe old age of 14. The next time she went under the knife was because of a bunch of tinfoil she consumed. And another for a round with our fiberglass garage door as she had inadvertently been left out there instead of in the house.

When I was 16 and she was 9 she was diagnosed with cataracts. The vet said they were not yet bad enough to remove yet so we just kept an eye on them. Six months later she was totally blind. Then she lost her hearing. She got lost not long after the hearing loss and I was devastated! She had somehow gotten out of the back yard and wandered away. For three weeks I put up posters and searched the neighborhood for her. Finally, I found her living with another family who had taken her in when they found her wandering around their back yard with a tennis ball in her mouth. Old habits die hard.

One afternoon I came home and found her cowering in a corner, despondent. She had an accident on the floor and was totally mortified by her actions. It happened again that night. She was unable to find the door to ask to go out. We decided to have the vet take a look and see if she was suffering. That’s when they found the cancer. It was eating its way through her liver. Her internal organs were shutting down… she was dying.

A week before my 18th birthday I took her in my arms for the last time, and carried her into the exam room and lifted her onto the table. I stood quietly by while her lifelong vet inserted the needle into her leg and promised me she would feel no more pain. I held her in my arms as the medicine flowed into her little body and she sighed her last breath, dropping the tennis ball to the floor. She was buried in the pet cemetery at the vet’s office with a tombstone that read “Misty – faithful friend, constant companion, tennis pro”.

I miss her every day of my life.

Thank’s for reading to the end – I know this one was long, but it was a story asking to be told.

Happy Wednesday! Come back tomorrow for the next Norman Rockwell inspired post entitled Dolly.

 

The First Date


Norman Rockwell, the iconic painter spent his career capturing real life on canvas. I have always been a super fan of his from the time I was little, when my Aunt purchased a book containing all of his Saturday Evening Post covers for my Grandfather. I would sit for hours perusing the images in that book imagining a simpler time. He is my favorite painter by far, and his images provoke so many memories that I would like to share with you all. So, over the next 14 days or so, you will journey with me back in time to a sometimes misspent youth.

I was inspired to start this series by a fellow blogger Bert Carson.  Please go show Bert some blog love – he is an amazing writer telling amazing stories. In his bio he states “I am a Vietnam Vet. I write about men and women who do the right thing” . His stories are thought provoking and inspiring and you will be deeply touched – I promise!

All of the art for these posts is from Art.com. Their bio of  Norman Rockwell reads: (1894 – 1978) is celebrated as “the Dickens of the paintbrush”. His warm and often humorous images captured a unique vision of Americana. In addition to story illustrations, advertising campaigns, posters, calendars and books, Rockwell’s paintings were showcased on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post for more than forty years. In 1957 the United States Chamber of Commerce cited Rockwell as a Great Living American, saying: “Through the magic of your talent, the folks next door – their gentle sorrows, their modest joys – have enriched our own lives and given us new insight into our countrymen.”

Without further ado – let’s get going on Day 1 of this Norman Rockwell inspired series, shall we?

The image that inspired this post:

After the Prom - May 25, 1957

After the Prom – May 25, 1957

Aren’t they so cute? Sitting there all stiff backed and nervous… this image takes me back to my very first “car date”. I was twelve  years old and Trey (the cute boy in question) was my date – along with his parents… Honestly, you don’t think that my parents would have been irresponsible enough to send their twelve-year-old on a car date with another twelve-year-old without supervision do you? We would have been breaking all kinds of laws – especially since neither of us was old enough to drive a car in the first place! HA

Anyway, we went to see Star Wars in the theater and afterwards we stopped by a Shakey’s Pizza. Shakey’s was famous for its stone fired

Shakey's of West Allis

Shakey’s of West Allis (Photo credit: purpleslog)

ovens and some of the best anchovies this planet has ever produced. We could watch our pizza being made by hand from the crust up, watch as it went in the oven, and take our seats with a frosted mug of root beer and watch countless shorts featuring the Three Stooges. It was just the place for a couple of twelve-year olds out on the town!

But I digress. This isn’t about the pizza parlor – this is about the date itself.

I remember very vividly sitting in the backseat of Trey’s parents car, holding hands – sweaty with nerves, with a boy for the very first time. I was nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, let me tell you!

I didn’t know dating etiquette then. I didn’t know much of anything at that age. When we arrived at the theater, Trey’s dad slipped him $5 to get our tickets and he bought them himself. Then we stepped inside the lobby and got in line for popcorn and soda – another $5 assured us a large bucket of popcorn (extra butter and salt of course) and two large sodas – and as a very special “first date” treat a box of Raisinettes (essential movie viewing fare, don’t cha’ know).

Inside the darkened theater we took our seats near the front (not the front row, but probably the fourth) and settled in, with his parents firmly ensconced right behind us (to ensure that wandering hands were not part of the date). The lights went down and we were treated to two hours of the most fun I think I’ve ever had – at least that’s what I thought then… I hadn’t had kids yet for obvious reasons. (Ummm… I was twelve for goodness sake). We held hands and at one point (when Darth Vader was at his peak of evil) I buried my head in his shoulder to hide and he put his arm around me. Y’all – remember how uncomfortable movie seats were before the days of stadium seating? I can only imagine how horribly uncomfortable he must have been, yet he soldiered on.

Once the movie was over and pizza had been partaken of, we returned to the car and I fell asleep on the way home with my head on his shoulder. When we got to my house, his dad allowed him to walk me to my door and he kissed me innocently on the cheek and gave me a big hug. And my first date was over.

I don’t know what ever happened to Trey, I think his dad took a better job in Birmingham, Alabama and they moved away that summer. I never heard from him after that, haven’t seen him in over 30 years. I wonder if he remembers as fondly that first date? The thrill of holding hands in the back seat, hoping his parents didn’t notice – jerking them apart any time his mom looked like she was turning around… blushing when we were too late and she smiled that knowing smile as she communicated just how cute she thought we were with her eyes to his dad. That first kiss on the cheek by a boy I was not related to, and the swell of my heart as he wrapped his arms around me in that big hug.

I wish that love could be that simple now. That we could take things at face value like we did at twelve, before the innocence is washed away by pain, heartache, and grief. For me it was only a few weeks after this wonderful first date that my dad died, and with him my innocence and for a while, my faith in  humanity and God.

I will never forget Trey, and the lesson on love I learned that night in the backseat of his parents car – how innocent and sweet it can be.  Wherever you are, Trey – I never got to say goodbye, or thank you for the fun – so I’m saying it now!

What about you? What was your memorable first date experience? I would love to know, leave a comment and share!

Tomorrow will be another of these Norman Rockwell inspired posts entitled Misty.

And don’t forget to stop by Bert’s page and show him some bloggy love, you won’t be disappointed, I promise.

Until tomorrow – Happy Tuesday, Happy New Year!