Waxing nostalgic for an old-fashioned apparatus I once hated

The king-sized, extra-thick mattress pad never gets completely dry in the clothes dryer, and I inevitably put it back on the bed in a slightly damp condition, hoping my Beloved won’t notice.

But not yesterday.

Yesterday, I hung it out to dry.

The summer sun was blazing, and the heat was the perfect foil for my laundered but slightly damp mattress pad. I haven’t wished to have a clothes line in, well, I’ve never wished for a clothes line, but one sure would have been handy yesterday. I settled for the deck chairs.

The backyard in the house where I grew up had a multi-lined implement that I damned every time Dad made me mow the lawn because the twine was exactly the same height as my neck. Our laundry room was in the basement, so hanging the clothes outside required lugging heavy, wet laundry up a flight of steps.

I was in charge of laundry beginning at age 11 or 12, and I quickly learned to stuff wet clothing into the dryer before Mom could tell me to hang it on the clothes line. Failing that, the clothes got hung on lines in the basement laundry room.

But Mom had a point, at least about bedding: Sheets dried on a clothes line outside smell so good! Crisp, line-dried sheets define good bedding.

Then today I heard on a rerun of the Nate Berkus show that the clothes dryer is second only to the refrigerator when it comes to household appliances sucking down electricity. So the clothes line is a green, too.

I’m tempted to install a clothes line in the back yard. Is my nostalgia crazy?

Cheekbone collagen contrasts

Let’s discuss cheekbones, shall we?

Cheekbones are the gift God gives 40-year-olds.

Loni Anderson recalled in her memoir “My Life in High Heels” how her cheekbones became more prominent in her 40s.

Remember Loni Anderson’s cheekbones? The woman who played buxom blonde receptionist on “WKRP in Cincinnati” had great bone structure to begin with, but she was in her mid-30s when she was on TV; she wasn’t some 20-year-old flavor of eye candy.  (What? You don’t remember WKRP? It was a sitcom that ran from 1978 to 1982, OK? Anderson was married once to Burt Reynolds, too, for the record.)

Another example: Have you seen that commercial for Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty skin care line? (Yes, I’ve been watching too much HGTV this weekend.) Images of Crawford at 28 and 45 clearly show the contrast in her cheekbones.

A woman’s cheekbones emerge as she ages because she loses her baby fat. Well, actually it’s collagen. That stuff that makes a 20-year-old look fresh-faced and well-fed diminishes as we age, causing fine lines and loss of volume. On the wrinkle front, loss of collagen is a bad thing. But those of us who had fat faces in our teenage years, loss of collagen is a gift (at least until we get that hollow-cheeked look of an old crone).

Thirty years ago, I had my high school graduation photos taken, and I hated the result. I looked like a bloated 30-year-old housewife. I got my hair cut short on an impulse about a week before the shoot, and it was horrible; I endured a Bad Hair Year after that hatchet job. I hated the photos so much, I still hate my high school graduation photo and I therefore refuse to show you the whole thing.

But I will show you my cheekbones:

cheeks in 30 years - Page 002


You might consider this navel gazing, but I can assure you: I won’t be showing off pictures of my belly button.

I weigh about 15 pounds more now than I did in 1984 (that fact that I know that stat points to an obsession, but facts is facts), and I’m not wearing makeup today. I think you still see more cheekbones in today’s photo (more freckles, too, but at least those owl glasses are gone — another benefit of aging! The shape of my eyeballs has changed so much I no longer need glasses for close work). My cheekbones aren’t Loni Anderson cheekbones, but hey, they’re there.

I often lament this business of aging, but today I’m embracing the contrasts.

Only a poet desperate to rhyme names a cat ‘Clarence’

Digging through some papers today, I found this gem, written in circa 1982 in my rebellious limerick phase:

The Movie Show

My friend says, “Come along with us,
To the movie, “Let’s Bust It or Cuss.'”
It’s about a czar,
And it’s rated R.
I know my mom will put up a fuss.

I ask my mommy, and she says, “No.”
I ask my daddy, and he says, “NO!”
It’s only a movie
That I want to see.
I pleaded, I cried, “I want to go!”

But no amount of begging and stuff
Will make my parents any less tough.
They’re just mean, I guess.
I can’t leave the nest.
So I walk out on them in a huff.

I’ll go to the movie anyway,
And I won’t speak to them all day.
I know I’ll have fun.
I’ve won! I’ve won!
And I hope they won’t find out, I pray.

I tell my friend that I can go
To that super great movie show.
But she’s gonna bawl.
Her face tells it all:
“My parents said that I can’t go.”

So now I don’t feel so very bad.
I guess it was only a passing fad.
I love my parents
And my cat, Clarence.
Though they wouldn’t let me go, I’m glad.

We have arrived at the Z in the alphabet of aerobics

“Let’s get physical, physical.
I wanna get physical.”

Back when Olivia Newton-John was trying to convince people her music was about working out, I was exercising in front of the TV to Jane Fonda videos with a little Richard Simmons on the side.

Eventually, I graduated to step aerobics, buns of steel and moves with that accented guy in Hawaii.

Yoga came after that — some classes with a live instructor and TV, too.

Fitness trends are funny, and by funny I mean both weird and amusing. Who knows why one instructor or type of dance move appeals to the public at any one time.

Nowadays, it’s zumba. Zumba is a Latin-dance inspired workout.

I tried zumba today, and it was fun. But I was reminded of the pool deck on the cruise ship I enjoyed this past spring in the South Caribbean. Let’s just say there was a lot of salsa.

I’ll probably be sore tomorrow because we moved, but it wasn’t particularly innovative in any way except the music; most Midwest suburban housewives probably don’t listen to a lot of Latin music.

Hey, if it works to get people active, no point in arguing. We are, however, at the “z” in A to Z. Cha-cha-cha.

Mulberries sweeten breakfast (check out this smoothie recipe … and cute dog pic)

mulberry treeThe mulberry tree is heavy with berries again. I’m tellin’ ya, that thing grows berries overnight. I swear, there were no berries on it two weeks ago. Sunday, I picked a bowl full, which I promptly used in my recipe for Mulberry Crisp or As Good As Cocaine to Marion Berry If He Were Named Mull Cobbler). This morning, I had a yen for a smoothie, and so many more berries had ripened, I picked enough for six smoothies!

Unfortunately, the mulberry season ends as quickly as it begins, so I’ve got to enjoy my berries while the enjoyin’ is good.

She's just gotta be in every picture, doesn't she?

She’s just gotta be in every picture, doesn’t she?

To the dog’s everlasting sorrow, the mulberry tree is outside the backyard fence. Here’s a shot of the dog standing guard against mosquitoes while I picked berries. She didn’t do a very good job because I got eaten up. But it was worth it!

I flash froze my berries while I was on my morning run because I prefer frozen fruit in my smoothies. Better texture, to my thinking.

A few other notes, before I share the recipe …

Remember, if you don’t have fresh mulberries, feel free to substitute blueberries or blackberries.

I can’t resist adding healthy stuff to my smoothies because you’d never know it was there! It’s that whole spoonful-of-sugar thing (Mary Poppins, anyone?). So I added chia seeds and spinach. Seriously, you’ll never taste it. And as for the sugar, some readers might prefer a teaspoon of honey or stevia; I’ve become accustomed to unsweetened Greek yogurt and I think pomegranate juice (the real stuff, not that pretender blueberry juice junk) is plenty sweet, but others might disagree. Be sure to add the sugar and blend again before you dump the smoothie in your glass.

I almost named this “Mulberry Protein Smoothie” because it has 22 grams of protein (thank you, Greek yogurt). That’s almost as much as four eggs, and for only 400 calories. I don’t really love the flavor of protein powder, but that would make it even more protein-y.

Talk about a healthy breakfast! Enjoy.

mulberry smoothie

Mulberry Smoothie


  • 1 c. mulberries, washed and frozen
  • 1/2 banana, peeled (do I really need to mention the “peeled” part?)
  • 2/3 c. Greek yogurt
  • 10 whole almonds
  • 1/3 c. spinach (pack that cup measure!)
  • 1 T. chia seeds, ground
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. pomegranate juice


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend to your satisfaction.
  2. Pour in a glass and enjoy.

Top 10 things to do when you’re home alone

I am savoring a few rare hours of solitary seclusion.

My Beloved and my Adored stepson are on an overnight business trip, leaving me home alone with the dog. This is rare because my Beloved works from home, as do I; we often dine on every meal together for weeks at a time and we usually travel together, even on business trips.

But not today. I have the whole house to myself. I purposely didn’t schedule any client visits. And here’s what I’m gonna do:

  1. Turn off every single, solitary room fan. I hate fans. I hate how fans make my eyes dry and my skin clammy. I’d rather sweat. My Beloved, for all his wonderful traits, drives me nuts by flipping on the fan no matter what time of year; he’d prefer the highest setting in all circumstances. But not today. Today, the air will be as still as a coffin.
  2. Leave the radio on, tuned to 89.5, the local National Public Radio station. What do you wanna bet the radio requires less electricity than the fan?
  3. Wear no bra and the baggiest, ugliest sweat pants I own. Why wear anything at all? Well, with the fans off, my thighs might stick together so I’m not subscribing to the strip-and-go-naked lifestyle.
  4. Spend ridiculous amounts of time in my office surfing the internet and writing whatever I want — a blog post, a book outline, a chapter in my next book. Ha! Human interaction?! I laugh at you!
  5. Eat supper whenever I get hungry, even if it’s 4 o’clock. Or 8 o’clock. Or both.
  6. Cook whatever I want to eat with no regard for the consequences to those around me. One word: Garlic.
  7. Read the newspaper — or a blog, or a magazine, or a book — while I eat. My Adored stepson (quite maturely, I might add) forbids iPads at the dinner table. I agree with this rule, but he also forbids my iPad at breakfast. Well, I am my father’s daughter, and I prefer reading my e-newspaper over my eggs or oatmeal.
  8. Watch the Oprah channel. I will use the “record” button frequently and ignore “recording conflicts.” Any shows with “DIY,” “house” or “food” take precedence over shows with “car,” “fast” or “pawn” in the title.
  9. Arrange the pillows on the couch. Once. Our couch gets a real workout, and the decorative pillows on it are constantly thrown out-of-the-way on the floor. But for the time being, the pillows will sit prettily where they’re supposed to be — and that’s not on the floor.
  10. Pee with the door open! Rebels unite! One of the marriage rules I abide by (some of these rules work better than others, but I’m stickin’ with this one): Never let your spouse see you on the commode (and make him close the door so you don’t have to see that either). It preserves the tiniest shred of mystery between two people who know each other better than anyone else in the world.

I can’t wait ’til your return, Sweetheart. (But don’t hurry on my account.)

Care to add to this list? What do you do when you’re home alone?

A celebration of 50 wedded years

Most people celebrate the longest day of the year on June 21.

My parents have been celebrating their wedding anniversary on June 21 for 50 years.

Yesterday, my sister and I and our families celebrated with them by walking around the Minneapolis sculpture garden (we questioned the thinking of some of the modern artists), going to a Twins baseball game (they won) and eating copious amounts of pasta at an Italian restaurant (it was delicious — and loads cheaper than the fare at Target Field). It was delightful.

Fifty years of marriage certainly is worth celebrating.

Fifty years ago, the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” wasn’t even an idea yet, let alone a hit song. The MacIntosh personal computer may have been an idea, but it was decades away from becoming reality. The pomegranate was a rare fruit in the Middle East, not the basis for a trendy, good-for-you juice. My dad remembered he could bring Mom and a dollar to dinner at the first McDonald’s in the Twin Cities and come home with full bellies and 12 cents in his pocket.

A lot has changed in 50 years, but summer comes every year, and Mom and Dad are still together. In fact, in my mind they’re barely mutually exclusive; they’re “Mom-and-Dad” in all things. Are Mom and Dad coming? What did Mom and Dad say? How is Mom and Dad’s house/camper/garden?

As I pondered the weekend while mowing my lawn this afternoon, I came to the conclusion that to decide to marry is a decision made when everything in a relationship is going right. To decide to stay married is made every time something goes wrong. That’s commitment.

And my parents have it. It’s awesome.

best mom and dad

“For me, optimism is two lovers walking into the sunset arm in arm. Or Maybe into the sunrise — whatever appeals to you.”

~ Krzysztof Kieslowski