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Anxiety Woman tries every peppermint product of the holiday season!

BE MERRY!  The season demands I comply. Peppermint disappears from the shelves like eggnog and its predecessor pumpkin spice. It dies a cruel death even though you and I know it will bloom in every crevice of free soil come June.  I need PEP to get through the winter. PEP smells good and it comes with sugar and chocolate. It is spirited!

Although I do worry a bit about diabetes, I worry more about depression, Donald Trump’s impact on my life and my own sanity so this year I tried peppermint. Lot’s o’ peppermint.  Here are the results.

Product number 1:  Peppermint cocoa or mocha.

I make it at home with the cheapest cocoa packet, almond milk and peppermint extract.  I never used to buy the packets because I always have baking cocoa on hand but you  have to put 5 minutes of work into that.  When I buy it at a coffee stand it better be great because I make this all the time and I want a treat. Give me the Goddamn whipped cream please!

Kaladi’s Brothers hot chocolate was too sweet so I could not taste the peppermint at all. Steam Dot was not sweet enough, more like chocolate mud.

The winners:  Starbucks in Anchorage for its  “treaty-ness” and Peet’s Coffee overall because of customer service, ambiance and superlative everything.

Product number 2:  Peppermint ice cream

The overall winner is Tillamook. Both creamy and pepperminty, you can’t beat it.  I couldn’t even find it this year!  I tried others which were just bad. Peppermint oil is very strong and cheap but some places use artificial flavor anyway, yuck! It also doesn’t have to be pink, thank you!

Product number 3: Candy canes

The expensive ones are no better than the cheap ones but I stick with peppermint or crème de menthe. Then there are those gigantic gourmet canes they sell at ACE Hardware. Go expensive if you must get a fruit flavor, pumpkin pie or coffee flavor or make some kind of impression. All the flavored ones at Fred Meyer’s are just citric acid and run off from Monsanto. Look at this $1 pack off the sale rack.

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I also keep a pack in my Subaru for earthquakes and getting lost in the wilds of Wasilla. I must have bought them a long time ago as the price reads 19 cents!

19cents

Product number 4: Peppermint chocolates.

This part of the experiment has been most fulfilling. Ghirardelli?– NO!  Too much packaging, too little peppermint. Lindt white chocolate peppermint balls – YES! Know that handsome beardless chef they have on their advertisements? Somehow the chocolate is as smooth and shiny as his face!

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Chocolate peppermint bark from Walmart – okay but chocolate bark from Alaskan Sweet Things – MUCH BETTER. Walmart’s bark tastes like it could have been almond bark or toffee bark and they had some left over candy canes. It’s not even cheap. Alaskan Sweet Things is less smooth- thus less corporate, beautifully colored, tasty and uses -GLACIAL WATER, (perhaps from Anchorage taps).

I confess I would eat any of the above laying around but making your own white and dark chocolate peppermint bark is the best. See’s used to have some white peppermint truffles but I could not find them this year. They are GREAT! Andes After Chocolate Mints and York Peppermint Patties will do in a pinch.  They don’t really say “Happy Holidays!” , more like, “All I could afford was these.”

Winners:  Tie between  Lindt White Chocolate Peppermint Balls and Alaskan Sweet Things White Chocolate Peppermint Bark.

Product number 5: Peppermint popcorn. Yes, it tastes good but it isn’t really worth it because as I get older everything sticks in my teeth.

Default winner: Boom Chicka Pop White chocolate peppermint popcorn

I have a headache now. Too much peppermint, sugar and Bold Italics. So much money and calories spent on research. I panicked and signed up for a “You can be a copywriter” website to increase my income and an Online Dating Site to improve my self esteem.  I wonder what the flavor of 2019 will be. Any suggestions?

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Season’s Greetings from Quake Town U.S.A

I propose that Anchorage, Alaska change its name to Quake Town, U . S. A. Our current slogan is “Big, Wild, Life.”  In truth, “Big Moose/Many Gift Shoppes” would be more appropriate. “Quake Town” would capture the peril and uncertainty which most adventure travelers are seeking. Could we meet their expectations? If we have learned anything from the last earthquake I would say YES!  We could provide certificates authenticating quakes which occurred during your visit, conduct bracing earthquake drills at each hotel. auction off broken dinnerware or create desserts of ice cream with broken pieces of chocolate bark to illustrate the effects of seismic upheaval.

Perhaps this appeals to me because it is late and I can’t sleep, not because of earthquakes but because it is nearing the winter solstice.  My mind and body struggle to keep up with the increasing loss of daylight and the greyness of global warming. Yet I persist in attempting to create Christmas cheer. Behold my new lawn display:

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These exquisite creatures arrived in my driveway anonymously last week in response to my post searching for a light up snowman. Now that is the true holiday spirit! I did not know I needed penguins but now that there are three people living here and a need for both humor and earthquake detection I am convinced that there is a God.  I am the tipped over one. The sheet over the chairs is supposed to be a glacier since they looked a bit sad in the globally warmed greenery of my yard.  Here is a photo of them on active alert – triggered by the motion sensor I have them plugged into!

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I also have a special aftershock detector installed in my bedroom which allows me to travel in time to a place of aliens, Time Lords and Daleks where earthquakes are the least of my worries.

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This suspended Tardis, also a gift, responds to settling tremors by absorbing the energy waves and swaying peacefully to transport my consciousness to another level. I enjoy the new Doctor very much and continued to be surprised how the writers get me to cry at the end of almost every episode.

I have tried some not so successful methods of cheering myself such as commenting on controversial posts on the internet. I do not advocate this unless you just want to wish them “Merry Christmas.” This is what I will be doing from now on so that when I receive emails telling me to “Shut up!” I will assume I have offended their religious beliefs and will apologize profusely instead of continuing an argument.

Also I attempted to make a holiday skirt out of a Christmas tree skirt which is now lying crumpled on my bedroom carpet.IMG_20181204_211620608

Although my waist is closer to 30 inches than 34, I cut the hole in the center to the latter dimension so that the skirt would hang longer and thus created a cascade of unraveling destruction. I may try to use my mini sewing machine to reconstruct the damage much as one might do after an earthquake.

Alas another fail, I attended a party yesterday and in my unbridled enthusiasm ate a wide variety of delicious foods, ignoring my previous experiences only to soil myself on the way home. Too much information?  May you all grow old a bit more graceful than I!

Here are a couple of more successful attempts at cheer.

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My new hat has met with nothing but compliments. $6 at Walmart well spent. I also purchased an outfit for my car which is modest but effective.car

I hope this will bring cheer to little children and those who are children at heart as they see it parked on the icy streets of Anchorage. ’til we meet again, take it one quake at a time!

How to keep the holidays real

When it comes to the holidays how we  “keep”  them can be connected to a deep or superficial set of beliefs. This includes beliefs about who we are. Here are some beliefs which influence how I spend the holidays. Let’s get the negative ones out of the way first. It’s a short list but sometimes powerful enough to discourage me from enjoying what can be a very fun time of year.

Negative Beliefs which are probably not based in fact

  1.  I am a misfit. I don’t have the energy for this.  I’m depressed. I can’t figure out what I want to do for the holidays.

2.   Holidays are for families with young children. I am out of place at holiday events. Something is wrong with me because I don’t have a spouse or children. I’m an adult. I should act like one.

3.   This holiday is just manufactured to make me spend money.

Reality checks

  1.  I am unique and I have unique gifts which aren’t always “as advertised on television.” I have to watch my energy but if I only do a few things for the holiday I will enjoy them. I do get depressed when it’s dark and there is no snow but I am also creative enough that I don’t need the weather to be as I want it in order to have a good time.  Many people don’t know what they are going to do for the holidays so they go with the flow. Others feel trapped by traditions and obligations they would rather avoid. I can try something new every year just to mix it up.

2.   It’s not productive to hide my joy under a bucket. I might as well go out and share it. If I set an example that older women can have just as much fun as young folks then maybe someone else will feel empowered. There are many reasons I am single. Being in a relationship and having children is not something everyone gets to do. Live with it.

3.   Holidays can be corrupted by capitalism but someone has to keep the faith whether that’s faith in good cheer and charity or in Jesus or Santa. Halloween doesn’t have to be sexy for me. Christmas can be small. The winter solstice can involve an outdoor challenge.

How I keep it real

Spending time with people is more important than exchanging objects. It’s also nice to make gifts and shopping with a friend can be fun. Don’t beat myself up over gift giving. I can’t make other people happy.

Use winter as a time to clean out garbage, do research on my future. Do something creative most days. That includes making dinner.

Give to people who need it, not just out of obligation. Don’t measure gifts in terms of money spent but rejoice when I serendipitously have a part in getting someone to laugh or get out of their comfort zone.

Decorate, sing, bake. These are activities from my childhood which bring me joy.  Share this joy when possible, and also enjoy my own company. Share with the neighborhood.

Remember if people in Poland can hang their Christmas trees upside down then I can make up my own way to celebrate.

I am on the hunt for some old holiday “blow Mold” decorations that are more often seen on the East Coast, probably a snowman like one of these.

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You might think, ” These snowmen don’t look very REAL.” But to me, the joy they elicit is real even though they are made of plastic and they are very low maintenance as far as men go. Happy holidays!

 

 

 

The Trash Can of Shame

 

This is it.  This isn’t even the kitchen trash where I sat for two hours waiting for the 10 trick or treaters. This is the trash can in my bedroom where today, the day after Halloween, I proceeded to eat most of the leftover candy. I only ate two Almond Joys. I bought these because I don’t like them. It appears that no one else does either because my roommates ate all the Reeses and left the coconutty rejects.trash2

I admit to also eating two bags of candy before Halloween which forced me to buy said Almond Joys. In my favor, I lost a bunch of weight this summer and have been trying to gain it back. This seems to be helping except that I can’t sleep and am forced to blog as penance. I wish I could have given more candy away. But with Halloween being on a Wednesday and the weather being a chill 15 degrees, I knew I was not going to meet my charitable goal.

Not that I didn’t try. Here are my window decorations. You can’t see the strobe light I’ve got inside which makes the demons flash!

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Here are a couple of brightly coifed characters hanging out on my porch.

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The best moment of the evening was when one of the children asked if he could give the seated character a hug.  It gives me hope that a new generation of children is full of empathy for those who are different. This piece was originally rising from a grave at our workplace haunted house. The grave read “R. I. P.- But I wasn’t tired yet!”

How lucky am I to work at a facility which has both a haunted house and children who come in to trick or treat??!!.  Since it’s a “long-term care facility” the residents chose to have a haunted hospital room and a graveyard.   Residents played a nurse and doctor dressed in precaution wear encouraging people to get their flu shot with a giant syringe. Beside them was a dummy covered in cobwebs and surrounded by bats, (especially on point as two bats invaded the place this summer.) Another resident was the Rock Star gatekeeper to the cemetery. I ushered people directly from the hospital to the cemetery giving them a quick brain transplant made from paper mache in between.

Before work, I was so busy bringing in costumes and props that I forgot my own costume.  Luckily I had an extra “Annoying Orange” costume in there that I could slip over my clothes. Several residents surprisingly remarked that it fit my personality perfectly. Those are definitely very much like my eyes and teeth but my skin is a bit more wrinkled.

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When I got home I was exhausted and probably looked scary in a pasty white person way. My first visitor came alone and looked exactly like this.

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I was caught off guard as I could not fathom that any young person would know who Charlie McCarthy was. I started to ask him but he was not talking, because of course, he came alone.

I am alone now and very awake with a sugary irritation in my head.   I swore at the computer and at Microsoft Publisher before I left work. Then I ate more candy. Our staff agreed, maybe less is more.  Perhaps next year we will have a parade instead of a haunted house.  The haunted house did keep the residents busy for a month building something to share. One of my favorite touches was the SAD light which was repurposed to show skull xrays. We also purchased twelve extra super jumbo bags of candy. It was a joy to watch the residents share these with the visiting kids.

I spoke to a resident today about death. They shared that their spirit will live on without pain. I am reminded of all of the spirits who live on in me through my exploits. Someday I will join with them in a haunting of this world. Until then I will celebrate whenever I can even when my trashcan betrays me.

 

 

On living to be as old as my mother did

Samhain or Halloween is a time of transition from one year to another in the pagan calendar. Spirits rise and snow falls, at least here in Anchorage. I just had a landmark birthday in that I have lived to the age my mother died.  My life has been unlike my mother’s. I have not married or had children. I am unlikely to die this year. Yet I am stung by the awareness available to me given both my distance from her experience and my similarity in age and temperament.

I spent most of my life trying not to become as trapped as she felt. Instead of resenting commitments, I have learned to take more time in making the choice to commit and to treasure moments of uncommitted time each day or night when I share her somewhat common inability to rest. Like her, I have a mess of books aside my bed where I can escape to a world where I do not exist but where I have the freedom to love and fear on a grand scale.

My mother and I shared a love for William Shatner. She would watch TJ Hooker and I would watch Star Trek. This week at work I searched YouTube for an old horror movie to show the folks. We wound up watching “Valley of the Spiders” with Shatner in the role of a veterinary doctor up against an army of eight-legged adversaries. The film was dated enough not to scare the pants off sensitive viewers but contained just enough scares that people chose to be late to dinner in order to catch the ending.

I work at a long-term care nursing facility. Most everyone there feels trapped. Some are trapped by life and some by death. My job is not just to distract them from this feeling but to encourage appreciation of their choices. These facilities used to be called “nursing homes” but they were rebranded because no matter how hard we try they are more like hospitals than homes.

There is a revolution coming in this area. The members of my generation will lead it demanding a different kind of care that does not include being trapped in a regimen of vital signs every few hours and thickened liquids.  These are small efforts to prolong life that few people appreciate. Life and death are vital concepts in my work. What constitutes a life? Is lying in bed all day okay? Can institutionalization be lessened by surprise and humor? Could singing be one of the best therapeutic interventions ever? Can it be fun to laugh at death?  That’s what Halloween is about. This year the residents have chosen to host a Haunted House with a Hospital Room and a Graveyard.

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Winter in Alaska arrived just this week. The mountains wear their white hair proudly. The snow has fallen only lightly in the lowlands but it’s cold enough to discourage a sexy  Halloween outfit. I’ve connected with friends and family in the last week and remembered how full of life my mother was until she was not.  She was a lover of Halloween, The Fourth of July, of Christmas and of Sunday dinners.  I continue her tradition by making up as many holidays as I can. I resist the promotional “National Bubble Gum”, “International Chocolate Brownie”, and “Salute your Soldier” Days to make each day a celebration that is not dictated but becomes itself.

The First Day of Snow is a natural one for most people I know and there is much walking around the town. The Day of the Most Mistakes is one that usually falls on Saturday, the end of my work week. The Day of Deliciousness coincides with the cooking group and The Luckiest Day of the Week is the day on which the Bingo game is held. I dress up for all of them, wearing a fancy apron or a silly hat. There may be many logical reasons to fear the darkness of winter, the upcoming election or the result of a medical test but there is also my mother’s way.  My fondest memory of her illness is when she explained from her hospital bed that she had made a week’s worth of soup for us and it was in the fridge. I hear this now from other women who are losing what we call “reality orientation” but in truth they have located their most important reality, the ability to show love and hospitality.

Everyday will have a new guest knocking at the door. It may be winter, a giant dinosaur, a new roommate or a death.  The treat may be candy or a bowl of soup. My mother is with me now as I write this thinking of chocolate and what it means to be a young at heart elder floating in eternity, grounded only in hospitality and humor.

Here is a funny costume I saw today.

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Happy Halloween!

God’s letter to Santa, ho, ho, ho!

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Dear Santa,

Sorry to take so long to respond to your last letter but its all I can do to keep up with my Facebook account. Now I’m hearing Facebook is old hat!  What are we two anachronisms gonna do? I bet the kids don’t even write in cursive anymore.

So here’s my list, top secret, no Wikileaks please. Most folks assume I’m perfect and all powerful, I hate to disillusion them but your polls are much higher than mine. I need your help.

  1.  Let’s get some rain falling somewhere other than Bangladesh and The Philippines. Can you do that for me?  Do you think a little rain, a little sun, a great year for produce would cool down tempers in the Middle East a bit? I haven’t been having any luck and I just don’t think new iphones are going to do it this year.
  2. How about vaccines for all the kids whose parents wouldn’t let them get vaccinated? I think I’ve got a few connections in public health who could train the elves to administer them.
  3. I want you to dump all the toy guns somewhere that people have a sense of humor or find a plant where they can figure out a way to use them as logs for those obnoxious tiny houses everyone is talking about. Second thought- no tiny houses for anyone this year and no fake guns. People can live in apartments and share toliets like the rest of the world and kids can use sticks to point and shoot at each other. Deliver lots of sticks!
  4. I’m sending the Grim Reaper to ride along with you. Everyone who asked for a Kalashnikov gets a visit from him instead.
  5. This is going to seem a little mean spirited, but I’m getting old. Please check your list and deliver the gluten free treats ONLY to people who have Celiac disease. The rest of them? Let them eat cake!
  6. Is there anyway you can think of to bankrupt Coca Cola and Pepsi this year without putting lots of people out of work? I keep seeing more and more teeth under the pillows and these aren’t even kids. The Tooth Fairy has me on speed dial.  Don’t suggest more Kombucha, please!
  7. We’ve got to find a way to discourage American football even further. Maybe a card with every ball that says, “A brain injury waiting to happen.”? How about a bumper sticker on your sleigh that says “Think or play football.” I like the ring of that.
  8. My so called “son” just stopped by and wants to thank you for taking the heat off him this season. He’s so embarrassed by all the baby pictures. He’s more burned out on humans than I am, I think there’s some internalized prejudice going on there seeing as he is mixed in background. Could you get him a couple of tickets to Star Wars? I want him to take a nice girl, or guy. I really don’t care, I just want him out of the house but when I tried before that ended badly.

I’m sure I can think of more things to put on the list but I know you’re really busy. Take care. See you at the retreat.

Love God.

 

Holiday Adventures with Anxiety Woman!

Let’s start with my holiday party for which I had lowered my expectations and bought only food I would be able to eat should the world be too busy to attend. My roommate surprised me by buying a real tree and decorating it from the listing fake mini tree with the broken base containing landfill from a distant Chinese province. Then he ate some day old sushi, (marked half off) and began a race for his life to and from our only bathroom.

I could have cancelled the party but it was a caroling party meaning we would only be here a half hour and then hit the streets. Only about 6 people had RSVP’ed so  as long as they didn’t have to go to the bathroom I figured it would be okay. By 7:15 pm I had close to 50 people in my living room and kitchen, this number includes the children and the two dogs with antlers. I knew about 6 of them.  I built an event on the “Nextdoor” social networking site and they came! I got to know which of my neighbors could sing and who was okay with the food poisoning thing.

We got out of the house pretty fast and decided that whoever knew someone was home in a nearby house could pick the song and knock on the door.  We saw some people peek out their windows and hide. Was that you? I thought so!

We did this for a couple of hours, which due to the warm weather we’ve been having in Anchorage is how long it took for us to begin to get cold.  Here is a bad photo of what anarchist caroling looks like.

It was too cold for the drum to make any sound

It was too cold for the drum to make any sound but the bells jingled and the Turkish Delight flowed.

We had many leftovers which sat out on Miss Havisham’s table until today (New Years). One reason is that the food poisoning of my roommate turned out not to be food poisoning. I deduced this  in the midst of a spaghetti dinner with home made sauce at a friend’s house. It tasted so good but I felt a little dizzy and could not feel anything landing in my stomach which was an unseen  broiling ocean of bacteria. After 3 trips to the bathroom and a pit stop at the grocery store I settled into 8 hours of stomach/bowel illness sharing the bathroom in tandem with my roommate. Thank goodness the 3rd roommate did not move in until today!  One thing I learned is that spaghetti has the opportunity to strangle you when coming up in an undigested state. Don’t let it!

Other than not being able to eat for Christmas I received several lovely gifts and bought many for myself. As an adult  I practice this as a resentment prevention tool. It was not necessary this year as I received lots of chocolate and the world’s most delicious caramels which all got eaten in one sitting after a combined 30 lbs were safely shed by myself and my partner in unintentional weight loss.

My roommate also gave me a card calling me “the best roommate ever”! That’s a keeper. I think I deserve it even if he doesn’t know I had to use a chamber pot during one of his bathroom occupations.

But enough of that. Here is our lovely tree.

note the red and white theme and how symmetrical  it is, unlike me.

note the red and white theme and how symmetrical it is, unlike me.

I had to work between Christmas and New Years but here is a food based image from on The Joint Base. I don’t think I’m supposed to take photos but  maybe this one is okay. All of the buildings look the same anyway.

Alaska noodle house!

Alaska noodle house!

I went to a New Year’s Eve party where I got to yell “CRAP!” many times which was fun for me even though there was nothing close to being Scottish involved and my illness was completely healed.

I visited the light display downtown several times. It’s made of recycled holiday lights from other decades. Great way to say goodbye to the old year which contained several entertaining jobs, unpleasant dating experiences, fun with family and learning the spoons. No idea what this year will bring.Not that this makes me anxious. Happy New Year!

Goodbye to the old year!

Goodbye to the old year!