It Takes Two…. Not Always!

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Let me preface this post by saying, “I like men.” I enjoy their company, their sexuality, and if they like to dance as much as I do, so much the better. I also need to make it clear that I am single and have been for the last 34 years. (That number surprises even me!). I have dated and had brief “flings” for want of another word, but I have never felt the need to remarry or have a permanent man in my life. When I was much younger, I would see the sad look on people’s faces as they reassured me that I would find another partner to share my life.

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I truly love my own space and independence. I will admit that along the way there were times when I was angry at my husband for leaving me alone with all the responsibility of raising our two kids. In retrospect, he did me a huge favor. I had no one to lean on, but myself and this forced me to dig down deep and be strong. For that, I will forever be grateful.

In a world where couples sometimes change partners more often than their socks, I tend to wonder why they marry in the first place? The television is inundated with these bridal shows  like “Say Yes To The Dress” or the one where four brides compete for the best wedding to win a luxury honeymoon, or “Married At First Sight”, but my favorite has to be “90 Day Fiancé”. What the hell are these people thinking? Blending two lives together is difficult enough without these additional stresses.

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Most of the women in my circle of friends are single and most of us are widows. We all love the company of men, but at this stage of our lives, I think I can safely say that none of us would remarry or live with a man again. We all enjoy busy, interesting lives. We have no one to worry about except ourselves, or perhaps our kids.

I have discussed this topic with several men my age. None of them want to live alone and all would like to find a woman to look after them as they get older. Somehow I fail to see the romance in that situation.

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Several weeks ago, my cousin posted her frustration on Facebook. She is married. The post went like this, “You’d better get the projector lights out on the lawn before the ground freezes,” he said. “Yes I know, that’s why I’m going out to do it now.” Three hours later, “When are the lights going out ?” he asks as I stand in the front hall warming my frozen hands from driving stakes into the ground and trying to attach extension cords that actually work. “I will need help with the blanket lights over the bushes when they thaw out.” “When will that be?” “When they thaw out.” “When what thaws out?” 🙄 I asked her why he wasn’t helping and she responded saying apparently the Christmas lights are hers now.

I was incensed, and it wasn’t even my problem. I said, “You are a couple, and he should help because it is important to you.” This simple situation resonated with me. I really appreciated my singleness. I have no one else but myself to depend on for these kinds of things, and I know I will never let myself down. I will never have to feel that frustration.

Before you think that I am completely against marriage or having a permanent partner, I am not. I love seeing senior couples who are still very much in love. It worked for them! They learned the secret to a successful partnership. It is the little things you do for each other without being asked, not the grand gestures.

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So, do not feel sorry for those of us who have remained single. We are managing just fine! However, if you know a single man who just wants to have fun, you know where to find me. LOL

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Granny Panties

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The other night, one of the girls mentioned that she had made a new purchase…. shape-wear. When I was much, much younger, we called them girdles. They were heavy elastic garments, some with metal stays and heavy duty zippers, that were supposed to squeeze you into a smaller size. As far as I remember, all they did was push the extra flesh out the top and bottom of the thing giving you a bigger chest and bigger thighs. Needless to say, these hot, uncomfortable pieces of clothing are still in demand, except today, the fabrications are lighter.  You can get them to cover from your chin to your ankles and everywhere in between. Hollywood stars are always talking about their Spanx.

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This got me thinking about underwear in general. I always remember helping my grandmother with the laundry. She would let me stand on a stool in the back porch and bring in the dried clothes from the clothesline. As I carefully unpegged my granny’s silky, white bloomers, I would sometimes wonder why they were so large because she wasn’t.

Growing up, I assumed everyone wore plain white, cotton briefs like I did. I remember one Christmas receiving a set of “days of the week” panties. Not only were they in a variety of soft, pastel colors, but they were embroidered with the name of each day of the week. I was most upset  when due to inclement weather on wash day, my “Wednesday” panties were still in the laundry hamper. My mother insisted I should wear the “Thursday” pair, but it felt wrong. If only problems were still so simple!

Few people know that I am a huge fan of “Sex In The City”; I watch the reruns every day. It seems that fashion does repeat itself. Carrie is often seen in her apartment wearing none other than those old cotton briefs.

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When I hit my teens, bikini panties were the rage. My mom said she felt like they were always falling down. I loved them! They had a kind of risqué feel, and they came in so many beautiful colors and sheer fabrics.

As with every generation, things change. My daughter thinks thongs are the way to go. I even tried! No one will ever convince me that a string in the crack of your butt feels comfortable. And as for the tiny triangle of fabric holding the string together, well, why bother? You might as well go commando and call it a day.

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Men can choose between boxers and briefs; oh, and there are some out there who like  the “banana hangers”, but I know of no man who worries about body shapers like Spanx. Ladies, I think we do this to ourselves.

In retrospect, I think my grandmother had the right idea. There is a lot to be said about comfort…. silky bloomers with loose legs, plenty of air flow and a comfortable waistband. What more could a woman want? There may be a pair of these in my future!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

 

A Force To Be Reckoned With

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When I was growing up, any reference to seniors made me immediately think of my grandparents. They always seemed frail and in need of assistance. They led rather boring lives and rarely left their homes. It appeared to me at my young age that their main purpose in life was to babysit the grandchildren and host large family get-togethers. I must admit I was in no rush to reach my senior years.

As I got older and had children and  my own parents became grandparents, I gained a new respect for the importance of these seniors. However, my parents seemed more active for their age, and their own social life was busier. They went out places together and even traveled a bit. I sometimes envied their freedom as I changed diapers and did endless loads of laundry at home.

Now that I am a member of the Senior Set, my views have changed completely. Seniors are a force to be reckoned with everywhere. I can’t help but feel that the Baby Boomers altered the concept of aging.

For instance, we have a day named after us EVERY WEEK! No self respecting business can compete without a Seniors’ Day on their agenda when they offer discounts of some kind or another. Just try shopping on these designated days to see how popular they are.

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Almost every city, town, or village has some kind of Senior Citizens’ Center. These centers offer a wide variety of programming to appeal to every taste and the cost is incredibly reasonable. You can line dance, exercise, learn computer skills or do Chinese cooking to your hearts delight. Seniors line up in great numbers to snag a spot in the popular classes.

Gorgeous models in their senior years are making a big resurgence. Take a look at Maye Musk or Daphne Selfe (age 86) as examples.

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Even movie theaters offer senior pricing, and we take up the same amount of space as any other adult. And has anyone else noticed the number of movies that focus on seniors’ lifestyle? ” The Book Club” comes to mind immediately.

Statistics show that seniors are the fastest growing group to use and promote cannabis these days. Surprised? Not I. Everyone I know is talking about it and comparing information.

The newest confirmation that seniors are impacting society is this sign that was brought to my attention only yesterday. There are school crossing zones, and 45960158_10160729602020467_7700565530649821184_ndeer crossing zones; there are falling rock zones, and loading zones and now we have senior safety zones. I have to admit I am a little surprised and perhaps even a bit offended. It had to be some young whippersnapper who came up with this idea.

So don’t count us out quite yet. The wrinkle wranglers still have plenty to offer society. And if you don’t agree with me, well, …..

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Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Reconnect

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How many times have you met an old friend or family member on the street or at an event and after a brief conversation, you both agree to stay in touch, have lunch, or give each other a call? It never happens! We get busy with our own lives and never make that call. So, why do we say it?

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A while ago, I noticed my cousin on Facebook. I had not seen her or talked to her for several years. The actual last time we were together was at a family wedding. I have a good-sized extended family, and we all live fairly close. We grew up attending big family gatherings, and I saw aunts, uncles, and cousins very regularly. So how did we grow so distant? Yes, we all got older, married, and had families of our own, but that couldn’t possibly be the reason. So what changed?

I have given this a great deal of thought. In my own life, the person who kept me connected with my extended family was my mom. She made a point of calling her brothers and sisters regularly to find out how they were. That contact was very important to her. She made the effort to attend dinners and picnics, showers and weddings, new babies and funerals for everyone. She was the glue that held us together and kept us up to date on what was happening within our larger family circle. And then, she died.

Almost overnight, I fell out of touch with many family members. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because I did not make it a priority. My only brother lives close by, but if it wasn’t for the fact that we frequent the same local pub, I would probably rarely see him, and this is someone who means the world to me. Unfortunately, this disconnect is not limited to family; many old friends have also fallen by the wayside.

Several weeks ago, I again saw my cousin on Facebook and for some reason it struck me that I am not getting any younger. I clicked on her name and sent a private message. I asked her if she would like to have lunch. She responded immediately and said, “YES!” And without further delay, we set a date to meet. As the day grew closer, I decided to ask my 96 year old aunt to join us. She was thrilled. We spent a lovely afternoon together catching up and reminiscing.

As I drove my aunt home later that day, I told her we should get together with family and friends more often. She was quiet for a moment, then replied, ” I’d love to, but most of my friends are dead.” It was my turn to pause and think now.

I finally said confidently, ” Don’t worry. I”ll find people for us to have lunch with.” Her face lit up. Until now, we had  only been attending funerals together.

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That night I promised myself to start reaching out to both family and friends. So far the response has been amazing. It is much more important to spend time with people when they are able to enjoy your company, than mourn the loss after they are gone. It takes nothing to pick up the phone and arrange a visit. You may be surprised at how good it will make you feel.

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

 

What Shall We Do Today?

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I was scrolling through Facebook today and a beautiful picture of Amsterdam popped up in my news feed. It reminded me of how much I missed that amazing city, and also that I had not finished my final post about my vacation there.  So here we go!

As with any vacation, there is the universal question,”What should we do today?” Some people take trips where everything is planned for them. You are told when to get on the bus, when to eat, what you are going to see, where you are sleeping at night, and in some cases when you can go to the bathroom. I hate that kind of vacation! Been there; done that! No thank you. It is my vacation, and I will decide what and when things happen.

Our Amsterdam trip was no exception; however, when there are four people sharing the same holiday, there have to be compromises. My friends are the best at this. We are also a “fly by the seat of our pants” kind of group. Yes, we had some loose outline of things we wanted to do like our visits to the Van Gogh Gallery and the Rijksmuseum. For those two exhibits, we actually purchased our tickets online before we left because we did not want to wait in long lines.

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We also arranged to visit the cousin of one of the girls, and she lived in the northern part of the Netherlands. She was expecting us for lunch, so we planned our day accordingly. Here we are waiting for the train. It took us about an hour to reach her beautiful, small town. 20180902_101743

One morning we woke up and during breakfast, we decided to take a ferry to the “Eye” and the “Lookout”. The “Eye” is a film museum and the architecture is very modern in contrast to much of Amsterdam. “The Lookout” is the tallest building in Amsterdam; however, in comparison to skyscrapers in other parts of the world it is actually small.

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I took this picture from the ferry (which is free to ride). On the left is the “Eye”, and on the right, the “Lookout”. If you look closely at the top of the “Lookout”, you will see a metal frame hanging over the edge of the building. That, my friends, is a swing which sways back and forth over the side. I must say, when I woke up that morning, I certainly had no idea that I would agree to doing that ride. But I did!

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I was terrified, and shocked even my kids when they saw the video.

Some days we headed out from our boat just to explore. We visited the flower market.

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We shopped and checked out markets in various squares. We walked, we took the ever so efficient tram, we used the “Hop-On-Hop-Off” boat, and even a bicycle taxi. We crammed as much fun into our ten days as we possibly could, and that included an evening in the famous “red light district”.

For myself, I prefer to experience things at my own pace. I have no idea where I will venture next, but I can assure you, it will be a blast.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Tasting Amsterdam

It is almost impossible to describe a visit to a new country or city without discussing its food and Amsterdam is no exception. The morning we arrived in Amsterdam, we had to wait for a friend to meet us, so to pass the time we settled in at a coffee shop located beside the arrival gate. It could not have been a more perfect location to enjoy a cup of coffee and people watch.

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Their coffee is fairly strong and served either black or white (Koffie Verkeerd), but best of all each cup comes with a small cookie called a Stroopwafel . These can vary in size, but they are usually thin, waffle-looking biscuits  with a syrup filling. These tiny treats really hit the spot. Dutch-food-Stroopwafels

 

 

 

Once we had settled into our houseboat, we decided to wander up the street to the local pub for some lunch. One of the girls order a favorite of hers, bitterballen. These are deep fried balls with some kind of mushy meat mixture inside and served with a mustard dip. I tried one, but was not a fan. It was quite bland and the texture did not appeal to me.

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The croquettes were another version of these deep fried appetizers.

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The Dutch seem to really enjoy their own version of French fries. There were numerous kiosks along the streets selling only fries. Theirs are cut a little thicker and often have a spicy taste and all are served with mayonnaise. I quite enjoyed them.

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Before starting our vacation, one of the girls had found something called poffertjes while researching Amsterdam online. It was the one food she was really looking forward to trying. These enticing treats were advertised everywhere and about our third day we sat down for the taste test. Now poffertjes are really just tiny, inflated pancakes. They are air filled little balls, but you can have them with a variety of toppings. I ordered mine with powdered sugar, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries, and of course, a chilled glass of pinot grigio to accompany this decadent treat. Delicious!!!! The picture on the left shows the poffertjes on the special grill.

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It would be impossible to talk about Dutch cuisine without mentioning their huge selection of cheese. One of my first purchases was cheese to bring home. I loved the gigantic displays with endless samples to try. It was difficult to narrow my choices. We also kept a good supply in the houseboat fridge for snacking with our wine.

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This gorgeous Smeg fridge held all our delectable snacks, including something I had never seen before…..

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It was very tasty! I mean how can you fully enjoy the cuisine of a new place unless you sample everything.

There are so many other typical Dutch delicacies, and their cuisine also includes a good number of Indonesian restaurants which reflect Dutch colonial times.

The next time you travel make sure to sample as many new foods as possible. It is all part of the experience, so don’t miss it. You can have McDonald’s any time!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Amsterdam….City of Cyclists

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I have spent most of my adult life trying to get in better physical shape. I now know the solution…. move to Amsterdam. Everyone there, both young and old, is in good shape because the entire city rides bicycles. If you don’t have one, you can rent one everywhere.

And although the city is quite walkable and beautiful, it is most definitely not safe for pedestrians. The main streets are designed like this…. pedestrian sidewalk, bike lane, car lane, tram lane, car lane, bike lane, pedestrian sidewalk. Walkers must juggle five busy lanes of traffic to cross the street. After my first close call with a bike, I became ultra aware and began shouting out, “Bike!”, “Car!”, “Tram”, to the others in the group. Or in some cases, “Run!” was our only option. I must admit it sharpened my attention skills and occasionally provided good exercise for my reflexes.  Smaller side streets are more manageable as bikes and cars share the same lane.

It will forever be a mystery to me why there are not more accidents. I witnessed one mishap that was actually caused by pedestrians.

The Dutch are ingenious with their bikes. They have designed every manner imaginable to carry things on their two-wheeled vehicles. My favorite was the children being delivered to school or daycare in a wheel- barrow styled box attached to the front of their parent’s bike. I saw as many as 4 toddlers crammed into these open boxes, smiling, waving, laughing, and eating with not a helmet in sight. Older kids doubled on handle bars, cross bars, or even on the fender rack.

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In Canada we have parking lots and garages for cars, but in Amsterdam there are two and three level garages dedicated to bikes. Everything from railings to trees are utilized to secure your bike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another rather interesting thing about this city of waterways is the fact that there are virtual few if any barriers along the canals. People parallel park mere inches from the edge. It was amazing to watch them maneuver into place. Of course, the lack of railings also resulted in this…

20180904_145158.jpg20180904_145209.jpgBarges with a crane on one end, regularly scoured the canals to remove bicycles that have fallen in. A guide on the Hop On Hop Off boat joked that the canals are one meter of water, one meter of mud, and one meter of bicycles. He is probably correct. These guys were working near our boat so it was interesting to watch what came up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This cycling mecca absolutely fascinated me. While sitting at our favorite pub located on the corner of a busy intersection, it was fun to watch what I fondly referred to as a “bicycle ballet”. Riders passed each other in perfectly synchronized harmony without ever stopping, no matter what direction they were going. Car drivers on the other hand were often sitting helplessly waiting for a break in the dance so they could join the fray.

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Perhaps I should pull my bike out of the shed and pump up the tires. I may have been inspired!

 

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo