Pickle Butts And Shut Up

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I made pickle wraps for No.8 Sis’ birthday party today. I schmeared a  slice of ham with soft cream cheese, and then rolled it around a big dill pickle. I repeated that about 6-8 times.

I sliced the wrapped pickles into 1/4 inch slices and served them as appetizers.



I know these aren’t very pretty, but they taste so good! And the bonus is that the two ends of the wrapped pickles, the pickle butts, were totally unpresentable, so I got to eat them all. Breakfast of champions.

Many years ago, I was visiting Mom in Elizabeth Fairchild. I think that’s what her one-bedroom apartment in St. Paul was called, anyway.

A bunch of other relatives were there, too, including No.1 Sis and her son, Dude. Dude had had enough of family time and wanted directions to get home to Rochester.

No.1 Sis was trying to give Dude directions, but Mom kept interrupting with an alternate route. Keep in mind, Mom had quit driving by then, and was probably trying to direct Dude via some twisty-turning bus route.

Eventually, No.1 lost her temper and shouted at Mom, “Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!”

That put a little damper on our Mother’s Day celebration.

A couple of unnamed sisters (1 and 8) were in the habit of telling me to shut up, too. Not nice.

With the encouragement of my therapist, Dr. Ima Shrink, I told them they couldn’t tell me to shut up anymore. Now they follow the letter of the law, if not the spirit.

When we played cards last weekend, I didn’t hear “shut up” once. I was shushed a time or two, asked if I was STILL talking once, and had to endure many eye-rolls while I was talking. So today’s party should fun. I’m just saying.

Stay tuned…

Retirement Resolutions

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I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions last January, because, hey, I’m retired. I can just go with the flow, be in the moment. Oh wait, that would require me to be an entirely different person.

I like to plan, and I worry, whether I like it or not. So there are two retirement resolutions that I needed to make.


That doesn’t mean I won’t hire someone to fix or build things. My DIY skills are sorely lacking.

It does mean no more professional mani/pedis, no wax when I can save money by shaving, and no housekeeper. Do you know I’ve had a housekeeper for the better part of 35 years?

“Retire”, people said. “It’ll be fun”, people said.


That means no beginning project number 2 while project number 1 is still lying around half-done. Half-done projects are clutter. I got rid of 35 years of clutter by moving to Costa Rica. I don’t want to start rebuilding it.



And it also means, since shopping for projects is the be-all, end-all funnest thing in life, no shopping for project 2 (or more likely, projects 2 through 111) until number 1 is done. Ouch.

The latest “project” I’ve been working on is recovering from my knee surgery. I had a full knee replacement on the left side on April 26th.

I was in the hospital overnight, then went home with a walker. I just graduated to a cane today. Progress! Yay!

I have about 4 weeks of physical therapy left. I can move into my own apartment and start driving again as soon as I’m off the painkillers.

Does narcotics rehab count as a project?

Stay tuned…


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When I returned to the U.S.A. from Costa Rica last December, I had to buy pants in a smaller size.

When I came back in March, I went to buy one size smaller yet. I just had a hard time finding anything that fit. I finally found some Gloria Vanderbilt jeans that fit perfectly. They were two sizes smaller than the pants I wore in December!

I liked the jeans so much that I bought three pairs. Then I took a little closer look at the details on the jeans’ back pockets. Bling. Ass-bling.



When my mother was my age, 58, she was wearing old lady pants. Elastic-waist, double-knit polyester pants. You know, the kind with the “crease” sewn in.

Dear readers, the question before us now is, am I too old to wear ass-bling? And if so, where do I buy those old lady pants?

Stay tuned…

Birthday Cards, April 2017

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Yesterday was a good day. I was conscious and pain-free, two of my favorite things. Well, in the top 10 at least.

No.2 Sis took me to the orthopedic clinic, where I got a cortisone shot in the right knee, and finally got surgery scheduled with Dr. Jack for the left knee. You know, the knee I’ve been trying to get replaced for the last 9 months, the one I damaged even further in Costa Rica by falling hard in the road.

Then I took a mega-dose of pain pills, as per the recommendation of my general practitioner, Dr. Kitty. She had promised (apologetically) to hurt me during a procedure scheduled for later yesterday. After she got started though, she found out she didn’t need to do the hurty procedure after all. Suh-weeeet.

I treated No.2 Sis to a celebratory dinner at Baker’s Square. (Pie.)

She started reciting a nursery rhyme while I drinking water, and I damn near drowned, laughing. I may have been a little loopy from the pain-killers. It still was a very good day. (Pie. Definitely in the top 10.)

I have a niece and two grand-nieces with birthdays in April. I wanted to get back to making cards. I missed it so much while I was in Costa Rica.

The challenge was to use as little as possible of No.2’s stash, because my stuff is still all packed up.

I bought a paper pad, Fashionably Chic, by Recollections, at Micheal’s. I just used some of Sis’s black and white paper, black ink, adhesive, and one stamp. The stamp is the owl from the Stampin’ Up set, Punch Bunch.

Ugh. Her paper trimmer is very dull, so I had trouble making clean, square cuts. Oh yeah, I used Sis’s paper trimmer, too.

I used 3 sketches from Pinterest for the layouts.

The first sketch is from Sweet Sunday Sketch Challenge #294.

The second is from Mojo Monday #396.

The third sketch is originally from Quintessentially Me. I couldn’t find this exact sketch, so this a link to all of her card sketches.

If you want to see my Pinterest board with the sketches I’ve collected, click here.

Stay tuned…

Fashionably Chic, Stampin' Up, Punch BunchFashionably Chic, Stampin' Up, Punch BunchFashionably Chic, Punch Bunch

Toastmasters, Because I Love Toast

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I was getting ready to come home from Costa Rica with No.1 and No.2 Sis. They were talking about their membership in Toastmasters. I said I wanted to join, because who doesn’t love toast?

Of course, Toastmasters is about making speeches, not about making toast. Now that I’ll be joining  No.2 Sis’ Toastmaster club tomorrow, I’m having some feelings. And you know I hate feelings. Especially these feelings. Fear, anxiety, terror, PANIC!

I didn’t have trouble getting up and speaking in front of people until 7th grade. We had to make a speech in front the class about any topic. I gave a humorous speech about why cats are better pets than dogs. Apparently, I’m no Henny Youngman (Steve Martin? Chris Rock?) because it got no laughs at all.


Also, the teacher, a very mean and vicious nun (aren’t they all?) shamed me in front of the class for using a little off-color humor. Like the lack of laughs wasn’t humiliating enough.

Then in 9th grade, we all had to take a speech class. I researched the hell out of all my topics, and gave some very dry, humorless speeches. In a small, shaky voice. I’d get an A for prep and a C for delivery.

No.5 Bro was in the same class, and he’d just go up in front of the class and wing it (and even get laughs). He’d get a D for prep and an A for delivery. If only we’d been able to combine my research with his confidence.

So tomorrow I begin facing one of my biggest fears, public speaking. Even though he never joined Toastmasters, I think I need to call No.5 Bro for some tips. I hope none of them involve first getting stoned (not that my brother ever did that…wink, wink).

Stay tuned…


It’s Hard To Have Roommates

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No.2 Sis: Where’s the butter?

Me: By the toaster.

No.2 Sis: No. There’s an empty plate by the toaster.

Me: Maybe the butter’s gone?

No.2 Sis: We had two plates of butter. The clean plate and the messy plate. The empty plate is the messy plate.

Me: Is the empty plate round or square?

No.2 Sis: Square.

Me: That’s the clean plate. I finished off the messy plate a couple of days ago. Then the clean plate turned messy. And I finished that off too.

No.2 Sis: (low growl)

Me: It’s hard to have roommates. They will eat the butter while your back is turned.

I’ve been living with No.2 Sis since returning from Costa Rica 12 days ago. Besides eating all the butter, I’ve had a nasty cold. Bad roommate. Sis is avoiding me to avoid getting sick.

I have a new apartment lined up. It’s kind of cottagey, in that it has it’s own outside entrance, with a little porch. The manager told me I can plant whatever I want on the grounds near my unit. Isn’t that great? I don’t want to overdo, so I’ll start with a pot or two.

I told No.1 Sis that I was going to go without a car for as long as possible, as a money-saving measure. I lasted 8 days.

Since I loved my previous Honda, Gypsy Blue, I went to the nearest Honda dealer and started test-driving used cars. I drove a CRV (who informed me his name was Butch). I really liked him, but he had 109,000 miles on him. A little old for me.

Then I drove a 2013 Fit hatchback with 31,000 miles and the angels sang! I bought her immediately. I couldn’t pick her up for a few days though, since I didn’t think to arrange for insurance before-hand. Oops.

Insurance turned out to be a hassle. I had cancelled my policy when I went to Costa Rica, because I didn’t have a car there. Apparently, that flagged me as some sort of flake (imagine) to the insurance company, and they tripled my rate! I’ll go with Progressive for now. Thanks Flo!

I know you’re wondering what the name of the new car is. Her name is Baby. Awww!



Stay tuned…

P.S. I’m still answering salespeople and waitresses’ questions with si, and telling them gracias. That should wear off soon, right?




Last Woman Standing

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No.2 Sis looked out at the rain, and the trees being whipped by 30 mile per hour winds and said, “I hear that Costa Rica is such a beautiful country. We must not have seen very much of it.”



This is true. We haven’t toured at all in the months that we’ve lived here.



Instead, we’ve taken turns being sick. This latest bug was delivered by No.3 Bro and his girlfriend just before Christmas.

Then No.1 Sis came down with it. She passed it to her son, Dude, who was visiting. No.2 Sis got it next.

I’m the last one standing. I haven’t gotten it, knock on wood.

We managed to get a grocery order delivered in spite of the lack of an address. The driver called several times to describe where he was, and we guided him to Casa Amarilla.

I’m thinking we should have asked how much the zucchinis weighed before we ordered two of them.



Know any good zucchini recipes?

Stay tuned…

4 Reasons I Can’t Retire In The U.S.A.

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I’m on a short visit to the U.S.A. to take care of No.2 Sis after she’s had surgery. Being back in freezing Minnesota has really driven home the reasons I can’t retire here.


I’ve mentioned before that my rent in Costa Rica is $675 and my house payment in Minnesota was $1500. Both houses are similar in size and layout, with 2 bedroom-and-bath suites on opposite ends of the house.

When you add utilities in, the cost differential is even greater. In Minnesota, you need heat in the winter and and air conditioning in the summer. That ran me about $100-125 every month, year round. $100 per month in Costa Rica pays for all my utilities, PLUS internet, PLUS my land line phone, AND a security service for the house.

Of course, my utilities would be higher if I had air conditioning, but so far I’ve been okay without it.


My health insurance, still bought from the U.S.A., is a continuation of the group coverage I had at my last job at “The Company”. It costs me $680 per month, and I pay an additional maximum out-of-pocket of $2500 per year. That basically puts my cost at $890 per month.

Once I no longer qualify for the continuation of my work insurance, my per month cost may go up as much as another $400 per month.

When I qualify for residency in Costa Rica (which has, admittedly, been a moving target) I expect my premiums to be around $200 every month, with no further out-of-pocket expenses. That will be a per-year savings of (where’s my calculator?) $5760 over my current medical costs.


Mail service in the U.S.A. is excellent (as opposed to Costa Rica, where’s it pretty much nonexistent). That’s both good and bad.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve ordered a few things to be delivered to No.2 Sis’s house. A puzzle book, a small dehumidifier, a clip-on lens for my i-phone camera (damn you, late night infomercials!), a puzzle book, ink cartridges for my printer, toothbrush heads, health supplements that promised to make me young again (damn you, late night infomercials!), a puzzle book, a Magic Jack, an herbal remedy for vertigo, a new Kindle, a puzzle book…

Okay, not having mail service in Costa Rica is really a big money-saver for me.


I don’t really like the food in Costa Rica, which has been really great for me. I’ve lost 25 pounds, and my blood glucose levels are back in the healthy range. Of course, I’ve lost the will to  live, but still, I think it’s a net positive.

And in Costa Rica, there’s no access to the Tasty Gates of Hell.



Stay tuned…



Focus On Jesus

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I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned that I’m a delicate tundra flower. Now that I live in Costa Rica, this delicate tundra flower is becoming a delicate tropical flower.

My most delicate part is my stomach, or is it my inner ear? In any case, I am prone to rather bad motion sickness.

No.1 Sis and I met a group of ex-pat women who live around Lake Arenal. They meet for lunch once a month, on one side of the lake or the other.

This month, lunch was on the opposite side of the lake from where we live. Renee, an ex-pat who lives near us, volunteered to drive us to the lunch. Very nice.

I applied a motion sickness patch before we left, and I figured that would keep me on an even keel. No such luck. We live in a mountainous area, and I’m not sure which was worse, the ups and downs, or all the curves. I just tried to focus straight ahead.

The conversation didn’t help at all either. No.1 Sis asked Renee about earthquakes, and Renee described in great detail (the shaking, bouncing, inability to stand up…) a 6.8 Richter scale earthquake she had experienced.

Yes, even talking about motion can make me queasy.

Because my patch had not protected me from feeling sick on the trip around the lake, I added another one for the trip to the airport a couple of days later. I double-patched.

Roberto, the driver, picked me up at 9:00 for the 90 minute trip to the Liberia airport. I sat directly behind him, so it was difficult to focus on the horizon. Instead, I focused on the picture clipped to his visor. It was a picture of Jesus.



It would have made me happier to focus on a picture of George Clooney, but alas, only Jesus was available.

Every time I started to feel queasy, I’d tell myself, focus on Jesus. Focus on Jesus.

When we were nearly to the airport, I notice the rear view mirror perfectly framed my neck wattle. Good Lord! Focus on Jesus! Look away from the mirror and focus on Jesus.

Thank Goddess, the double patch got me safely and comfortably to the airport, and through the bumpy flight itself (no thanks to hurricane Otto).

And I never thought I’d say this, but thank you Jesus.

Stay tuned…




Entering Adulthood

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Costa Rica, like many Latin American countries, has a quaint custom called a quinceanera. It’s a lavish party with extravagant gifts to celebrate a young person’s fifteenth birthday. The girls wear ball gowns and tiaras and the boys wear tuxedos. It is a rite of passage into adulthood.




My family celebrated my transition into adulthood in a similar way, albeit without the party, gown, tiara or gifts. And I was thirteen.

My mother called me into her bedroom on my thirteenth birthday and told me, “You’re an adult now. You can go out drinking and partying all you want, but it’s your job to get yourself home safely”.

Harrumph. I thought to myself, what’s different? I’ve always felt as though I’ve been on my own.

I soon found out what the difference was, the next time I asked Mom for a dollar so I could go to the movies with my friends.

“You’re an adult now”, Mom growled, “make your own money”.

I had already bombed as a babysitter. I had an unfortunate tendency to only keep track of one child at a time. This was a problem living in a neighborhood where the average family had five kids. I should have asked the parents in the beginning which child was their favorite.

I asked Mom how I could make some money and she told me to get a job. But I was only thirteen and businesses couldn’t hire anyone under the age of sixteen. Mom’s advice? Lie.

I went to every business downtown, asking for a job while lying about my age. Of course, nobody believed I was sixteen, and I remained a sad little “adult” without a job for the next three years.

I would get an occasional babysitting gig, usually for a family with only one child (they didn’t know that’s all I could handle).

When I turned sixteen, I returned to the downtown movie theater and again applied for a job. The manager remembered me and asked how I could be sixteen now, when I was sixteen then. Um, I lied.

I got the job (that’s how desperate they were) and soon I was selling popcorn and candy and making $15 per week. And the best part of it all was that I could see movies for free.

Finally, adulting like an adult.

Stay tuned…