A blog about "nothing"!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Feeling old...

Most of the time I don't feel my age.  I keep up with current trends and news, I am in to most newer technology and most days I don't "think" old.  Physically is another story, but that's the result of arthritis that I've had issues with my whole life, so I don't count that.  The past week though, I had an experience that made me feel old.  But not in a bad way.

Last week I went shopping with my sister-in-law, we went to my favorite thrift store in Pittsburgh and then to IKEA.  We had a good time, had a great lunch and found some good bargains.  I count it as a good shopping day, even though I didn't buy all that much.  It was nice to get out (this winter has really killed my desire to go much of anywhere, I can't wait for spring!) and get a change of scenery if nothing else.  IKEA is always fun to check out, although I have to resist the urge to throw out all of my furniture and go there to replace it all.  (I include this info to show you that I'm not against shopping or going out or any of that.  I promise, it will all make sense later on.)

Saturday night we went out to dinner with friends.  We had a good time with them, but the rest of the experience was just...bizarre.  I think because the evening was such a contrast to my shopping trip earlier in the week.  First off, we went to The Cheesecake Factory, we had never been to this location and it had been years since we had been there at all.  Sounded like a good choice and it was somewhat centrally located for all of us.  My husband and I went there early, assuming that it would be a good idea to get our names on the waiting list since it was a Saturday night.  That's the understatement of the year.  We arrived just a little after 5PM, and we were told there would be a 2 hour wait.  Yeah, you read that right-2 hours.  Okay, I guess we can deal with this since the restaurant is attached to a large shopping mall. 

This particular mall was built in the 1980's and over the years I have visited it many times.  I used to go there a lot, but over time, I found myself going there less and less. In fact, it had been close to a year since my last visit there (when my friend Heather and I went shopping.)   My shopping habits had changed, the stores there had changed, and we've had a lot of development closer to home that eliminated the need to drive that far for certain things.  Since we had two hours to kill, we decided to go walk around.  The four of us didn't walk that far when I suggested we find a seat.  We all agreed that there was absolutely nothing in that mall that interested us.  NOTHING.  I bought one thing that cost $4.  Wow.  I hope they aren't relying on folks like us to support them.

While we sat, I people watched.  It was interesting to see what people were wearing and what they were buying.  For the younger set, it seemed like there was almost a uniform to wear while shopping.  I saw a lot of people with no bags and the ones that did have any, didn't have very many.  I couldn't help but wonder, how does a mall this size survive if that's all people are buying.  I've heard that the shopping mall is a dinosaur and that many of them around the country are being torn down or converted in to other things.  After seeing this, I can see why.  And it wasn't like the mall was empty, it was packed with people.  But not many buying.  Which is weird considering it's the end of February when clearance sales are at their best prices.  Odd.

Finally the time passed and our table was ready.  Dinner was okay, mine was good, my husband's was just "okay" as he put it.  Our friends were also a mixed bag, his was good, but hers was burnt so badly that it had to be sent back.  And then our bill came.  $48 for my dinner and my husband's and he had dessert, but I didn't.  No alcoholic drinks either, just Pepsi.  Wow.  If it had been an amazing meal, I probably wouldn't have thought much about it, but it wasn't.  I'll be honest, I felt completely ripped off.  I doubt I will ever go back to the Cheesecake Factory again.  Not when I can eat, closer to home, no 2 hour wait, and be thoroughly stuffed for under $30 for the 2 of us, AND support a local entity. 

Apparently I'm alone in this thinking though.  When we left it was around 8:30 PM, and there were still a large number of people waiting to get seated.  I just kind of shook my head.  Really??  Am I missing something??  Then it dawned on me--it's all about the hype.  "Look at me, look at me, I'm waiting to go to the Cheesecake Factory."  Or, "hey, I shop at this really high end mall, so I must be somebody."  No thanks.  It's one of the few times in my life where I'm happy to be an old fart, satisfied with who I am and what I have, and not needing the approval of others to make me feel good. 

So pardon me while I continue to shop at thrift stores and online, eat at fun, privately owned restaurants with great atmosphere, good food and better prices.  I don't aspire to be a trend setter or even follow them.  My time, my money and my mental state are worth more than any shopping mall or chain restaurant can provide me with.  Getting old is good.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Photo of the week, March 2, 2015

Right after we got Laney, I got this idea to take a picture of her once a month on about the same day for her entire first year so we could see how she changed.  I did really well, I did manage to accomplish that, and I still try to take a photo of her every year on her birthday.  This photo is one of a series that I took of her in March of 2009, she was really in a posing mood that day and it was hard to pick a favorite.  I do have to laugh though, she was very sick of having her photo taken after that first year and for a time she would run whenever she saw me pick up my camera! 

They said on our local news that it's only 18 days until the first day of spring.  Looking out the window I find that hard to believe.  We have been hearing a lot of birds lately though, so maybe?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Photo of the week, February 23, 2015

Still bitter cold, this has to end soon!  I'm tired of not being able to get warm.  Spring is only supposed to be 4 weeks away, is it going to make it?!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Photo of the week, February 16, 2015

How appropriate that today's photo comes from sunny Florida.  It was -11 F (-24C) here when we woke up, too darned cold.  I wish I was in Florida right now!  This is a sidewalk at Disneyworld's EPCOT,  they have a whole section of sidewalk with designs done in lights embedded in the cement.  I don't know why, but I'm always fascinated by them.  The lights change color too, so they have the appearance of movement.  EPCOT is my favorite of all the Disney parks anyhow, it's just such a fun place with so many different things to see. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

An Obituary for a Friend

Last year was a difficult one when it came to losing people who meant something to me.  One of those people though, I'm still kind of in shock over.  For a number of reasons.

I met this friend through a job I had, she was a customer, and I got to know her well over the years.  When I changed jobs we stayed in touch and we had lunch periodically.  A little over 10 years ago she decided that she'd had enough of the cold weather here in the north and moved to South Carolina.  Even after she moved, we stayed in touch, not constantly, but we e-mailed a couple of times per year, and whenever she came home we always got together for dinner and interesting conversation.  I always looked forward to those dinners as I knew we'd have a good laugh.

A few weeks before Thanksgiving I was thinking about her and a recipe she'd made to bring to our house one year when she had joined us for Thanksgiving dinner.  It dawned on me that it was about time for her annual visit and that I hadn't heard from her for a while.  At that point I wasn't concerned, but something deep down told me that something was wrong.  Unfortunately we also had a major family crisis we were dealing with, and I really didn't have much time to think about it.  After Thanksgiving I sent out my Christmas cards and sent her one like I always did.  The day after Christmas, the card I'd sent to her came back as "undeliverable" and I feared the worst.  After doing some poking around on the internet, my fears were confirmed.  She had passed away.  In May.  I was stunned.

The bad part is I haven't a clue what happened, and I don't know that I ever will.  I went back through my e-mails and the last one I had from her was in March.  I'd sent her one in April about someone she knew who had passed away from here, but right after that we were leaving for North Carolina and it didn't occur to me that she had never e-mailed me back.  Looking back on it, I'm thinking that whatever happened to her must have occurred sometime between those two e-mails.  Perhaps she was in a hospital or nursing home from that point until she passed away.  I know that if it had been something gradual like cancer, she would have let me know.  I suspect it was something sudden like a stroke or heart attack.

I knew that she had a sister and I knew her first name, but not her last.  They weren't very close, but I didn't realize just how estranged they were until this happened.  When I went online to look for info, I came up very empty handed.  The obituary was pretty much non-existent.  It had her date of birth, her date of death and how old she was.  That's it.  I thought at least if I could find out her sister's last name, I could contact her and at least try and find out what happened, no such luck.  Then I was really saddened that someone could pass away, and not so much as a tiny write up about them was done, her own sister couldn't be bothered.  This disturbed me tremendously, I thought back to a conversation a group of my friends had about someone we all knew who had passed away recently and how shocked we were at how brief her obituary was.  At least she had one.  And then I thought about the wonderful obituary my sister-in-law wrote for my brother when he passed away in November.  When you were done reading it, even if you didn't know him personally, you had a nice sense of who he was as a person. 

At one point my sadness turned to anger, and the more I thought about it, the madder I got.  She was a person, an interesting person and damn it, she deserved something.  As I told my husband-"I could have written a decent obituary for her, and I wasn't even her family."  And that's when it dawned on me:  I would write her an obituary here on my blog.  I apologize in advance if this seems kind of morose, but for me, it's more of a cathartic thing.  It's also a look back on a life well-lived, even if her sister didn't appreciate it or her.  I am changing the name on this (and several other pieces of information), only because of what little I do know about her sister, she'd probably sue me.

Lisa Louis, a resident of Aiken, South Carolina, passed away in May of 2014.  She was 67.

She grew up in Grove City, PA, and after graduation from Grove City High School, she went to Robert Morris College in Pittsburgh.  After graduation from college, she worked in the banking industry, first in Pittsburgh, and then in Richmond, Virginia for a number of years.  In 1990 she decided to return to Grove City, where she resided for 13 years.  During her years there, she taught as an interim professor of accounting at a local college, served as a member of the zoning board, and also worked as a wrap around for several school districts in addition to volunteering for Meals on Wheels.

In 2003 she decided to move to a warmer climate again, settling in South Carolina.  She loved the area and the beautiful weather.  She also stayed very active by joining a gym, and regularly participating in one of several groups who cheered on her beloved Pittsburgh Steelers during football season. A lifelong lover of dachshund's, she doted on her dog Lilly.  Over the years she had travelled considerably, visiting France, Switzerland and Great Britain, as well as several other countries.  She had been planning a return visit to Great Britain before her passing.

She is survived by a sister and her husband, a niece and a nephew.  She was preceded in death by her parents.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Photo of the Week, February 9, 2015

Here's my furry Valentine, Miss Laney.  Photo on the top is 2009, bottom 2011.  I was just thinking a few days ago about how tiny she was when we got her.  I never thought she'd get to be as big as she is, just shows that the smallest of the litter can catch up!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Thrift Store, How I've Missed You!

I mentioned before that I haven't done much thrift store shopping lately and how bad the pickings have been.  Today I had arranged to go shopping with my sister-in-law, she has never been to a Red White and Blue and she loves thrift store shopping as much as I do.  Unfortunately she had to cancel at the last minute, sick daughter who needed help taking care of 2 year old-anyone whose ever been sick with a 2 year old around can relate and understand!  We are going to reschedule for later in the month.  I decided to go check it out anyhow, I haven't been there since sometime in the fall (I think!).

I didn't find much, the pickings weren't all that great there either or I'm looking for the wrong things.  However, I did find one thing that made up for that.  This gorgeous Lands End sweater for $3.95!  It's a men's, but I don't care, to me it's a unisex style/design and I just loved it.  It doesn't look like it was worn or washed ever, if it was, I have a feeling it was one of those "let's all wear sweaters that match for the Christmas card photo" deals and it hung in a closet until the wife decided it was time to send it to the donation bin.  Yay for me!

That was all I found there, but I stopped at a Goodwill on my way home and found this goodie for 99 cents:
I'm always on the lookout for little things I can use for my dolls, this was perfect.  The workmanship on it is very good, I think 99 cents was a great price!

Now, I do have to point out that the sweater had one minor issue that might have been the reason it was donated:
Looks like someone snagged it from the inside, maybe with a ring or something.  No biggie, easy to fix.  To the sewing cabinet for the repair kit!!!

No, not Alka Seltzer!!!  (just realized that the container is an antique LOL)

Crochet hooks!  These belonged to my grandmother, she was really in to super fine crochet work.  When she passed away, my mom made sure that she kept these, and when my mom passed away, they were in her sewing stuff which I inherited and I was thrilled to death to get them.  They are terrific for doing little repairs like that, you just use them to reweave the pull in to the existing materials and you're all set.  I should have taken a photo of it afterwards, but didn't think about it until after I'd already taken it downstairs and put it in the washer.  You'll just have to take my word for it, it looks fine.  ;)