A Hint

Long time readers might remember my childhood obsession with Heloise (as in Hints From). I’m still not over it because there’s one unresolved issue that is still bothering me.

I might have been around 12 years old when I read this and I couldn’t wait to tell my mother about it. Her usual clam and patient response was to just wait it out until I got over whatever was my breaking news of the moment. But this time, I never got over it.

I’m recalling this letter to Heloise from memory, but believe me I’ve memorized every word and rehashed it for decades. This is it in its entirety:

Dear Heloise, This hint is for ladies only. If you put on a light coat of fresh lipstick before you go to bed, you will be pleasantly surprised in the morning.

I can’t remember the name of the person who submitted it but they were probably in Arizona. Sandy from Sedona. Mary from Mesa. Terry from Tempe. I don’t know. Heloise published a disproportionate amount of hints from Arizona, where she herself lived. (p.s. all of the hints were for ladies only)

Anyway, this time my passion for action did not wane. I tried and tried to get my mother to do it but she was not interested in getting a surprise in the morning. At that time, our family was just climbing out of the crushing poverty of my early childhood so now that I looked back on it, I’m fairly certain that the last thing she could want was to wake up to another surprise. As the 8th child of a coalminer’s widow with 5 out of 6 of her brothers also working down in the mines, she must have had a lifetime of surprises most of which were unwanted. So, I took action myself.

One night, I helped myself to one of her wee little Avon lipstick samples and put a pretty good coating on myself and then went to bed, waiting for my surprise in the morning. When morning came, there was no evidence of surprise in my bedroom so I rushed into the bathroom to look there. When I looked into the mirror, I saw …….. nothing.

There was no surprise. It was just me with my fright wig hairdo looking back. Later – maybe years later – my mother explained to me that the surprise was probably a faint remaking tint to the lip and the lady would feel confident that her beauty was enhanced by a cosmetic from Minute One without any additional effort during her busy morning.

I suppose it didn’t work for 12 year old me because my mother’s Avon lipstick samples were in the pink and pale rose family and obviously Terry from Tempe was the Ripe Cherry Red type. I’m still mad at Sandy from Sedona for writing this and I’m especially mad at Heloise for publishing unverified hints. Didn’t she have a test lab? Was she just filling column inches with any crap that happened into her mailbox?

Addendum: Come to think of it, I had another bad experience with one of her hints. So in conclusion: what a crock of shit. To this very day, I remain disappointed.

Vintage Avon Lipstick samples

A Napping House, Where Everyone Is Sleeping

ZZZZZ  A quiet corner between the hose reel and the herb garden seems like a good place to set up an outdoor napping area.

Before we get started here, I would like the record to show that I have been seriously nap-deficient for the last 20 or so years. I intend to change that starting now. That’s a joke. I already started. FYI – the chair pictured here is the infamous scratched one that precipitated the delivery of two free chaises.  I always meant to get rid of it but I never could do it. It’s been living in hallways and spare bedrooms all this time. Now it runs free and wild in the dappled sunshine, next to a freshly spray-painted Walmart table.

Where is the time going? I’m busy all the time now , doing what I can’t tell you but I don’t have enough hours in the day to do it.  I’m enjoying the little domestic activities that were, while I was still working, just a source of annoyance to me if I did them, or a source of embarrassment if I didn’t. Things like straightening out a closet or reorganizing a desk drawer. I do confess that more than a few drawers around here would provide a surprise much like a joke snake leaping from a can of peanuts for whoever opened them. I’m still haunting the kitchen producing loaves of bread of variable but still substandard quality and very, very good marmalades. Little bit sick of the washing up, though.

And crocheting dishcloths.

I hope you didn’t just laugh. I feel embarrassed that I like the act of doing this and that I like the end result. Me. A respected expert in my speciality field, a high powered executive business woman. Who is retired.  I guess I’m not those things anymore. Now I’m a maker of dishcloths.

scrubBut look at it: my lovely double sided scrub mitt. There’s satisfaction in this, at least for the moment. At least until I get this out of my system.  At least until the rain stops today and I can get back outside. That chaise lounge is not the only thing yearning to run free .

When Life Gives You Lemons Make Marmalade

Gby4evr! The last password I created for work. Although my work was very satisfying and I  am thankful for the experiences and opportunities I’ve had there, it gave me great pleasure type this into the corporate login page  several times a day for my last three weeks of employment.

Dudes! I have got the citrus marmalade thing down pat now. Here’s my production so far:

  • Grapefruit Vermouth verdict: overcooked, bitter, very firm. Has the consistency of a gum drop.
  • Lemon Lime verdict: exquisitely tart, loose set – possibly undercooked.
  • Lemon Orange verdict: perfect!

[Sidebar: I am very happily retired and do not miss work at all except for one little habit that I find very hard to break: I can’t stop communicating in bullets. I realize that I’ve used bullets aplenty here before but now it’s my only outlet to use them at all. Thanks for understanding! Just be glad I’m not that attached to PowerPoint presentations.]

MINIMALISM I was always a minimalist when it came to PowerPoint design. Just a few clues on the slide and the information delivered in the voice over. Try to imagine my lilting voice here convincing you that you too should be making your grocery lists using bullet points.






I’m really enjoying the wonder of this transition time. Remember when I was complaining that I can’t keep track of the days of the week and I needed an Alzheimer’s clock to help me? Well, please cancel that complaint – now EVERY DAY IS SATURDAY. And when I said I was looking to add some structure and commitment to my life , such as church attendance or a regular go out to dinner night? Not yet, please. Every day is Saturday and THEY’RE ALL GOOF OFF SATURDAYS. I’m waiting for the boredom hammer to fall on me like everyone cautions that it will unless I develop some new activity to replace working but it hasn’t happened. That might be in the future but for now I revel in the goofing off.

I’m not entirely without ambition, though. I’m throwing myself into the domestic pleasures that I haven’t had time for as an employed person. No set plan, really and certainly not anything that actually needs doing (like cleaning). I’m just an unemployed butterfly flitting from making marmalade to producing homemade bread, which if truth be told is not yet a success. Except for the Irish soda bread which doesn’t count because it has no yeast in it. Yeast is my nemesis.

Recently, I got the idea to crochet dishcloths. Don’t laugh! #1. I’ve never made one before and #2. do you know that they now have yarn called “scrubby” that is specifically made for this application AND some of it is sparkly!


So be warned, anyone who comes to visit me. Everyone gets a door prize of an 8 oz. jar of artisan marmalade and a hand crafted dishcloth (also recommended for facial exfoliation).  ←seriously. Maybe I can learn to weave some little baskets for a nice presentation?

Bloodied, But Unbowed

HELLO SUNSHINE.   Undaunted, she set about in search of her mandoline.

I could tell you about my loaf of bread that was both underbaked and a doorstop at the same time. Or maybe about the Grapefruit Vermouth Marmalade that you could use as weed killer. I might even have time to regale you about the reception of a one-pan chicken and rice dinner that was Not. Good.  Undaunted by the less than stellar results of my return to the kitchen,  today I attempted to make lime marmalade by using a mandoline to slice the whole limes and I could tell you all about that, too. But right now I’m looking for the bandaids.