Telling and Selling Memories

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By Carolyn Myers

Growing up, my favorite place was my Grommy’s (and Poppy’s) house. After a quick greeting, I would immediately go exploring for hours. Like all of the other great museums, it could take a lifetime to see everything on display. Every wall, surface, closet and drawer held (too many?) items of interest, and I loved it all.

And Grommy loved me for it.

After hours of hunting, I would show her my finds. Maybe an old Pyrex bowl, or a flour-sack apron, or a collection of postcards from the early 20th century. or her great-grandmother’s hand mirror and hairbrush or a quilt made before the Civil War, or … or… It didn’t matter what I found or the price listed on the item in her beautiful handwriting — she’d let me keep whatever I discovered. After I thanked her profusely, she would usually smile and say, “Most of this will be yours someday anyway; might as well take it now.” No one else in the family shared my love and fascination with her treasures, and she knew I would appreciate them like she did.

So, when Grommy died on Feb. 29, 2020, we thought we knew exactly how to proceed: Each family member would pick out favorite items and then an estate sale would take care of the rest. Mom and I would plan weekend trips to fill a couple boxes each of mementos — we estimated we could have the clearing-up part done in two or three visits and then we’d set the sale for later this summer.

Easy peasy.

Also wrong.

We soon realized the enormity of this task and our reluctance to simply fill a few boxes and be done with it. Honoring Grommy, honoring our family history and the legacy of what she built and left us, was too heavy and too much to tackle in one summer.

In conversations with my mom about our options, we also realized that we weren’t ready to be done with this task. Granted, we couldn’t feasibly keep all of her treasures, but we couldn’t stand the thought of a stranger coming in to sell it all before we learned more about Grommy’s life’s work. We weren’t ready to let go of her treasures, her memory. We needed more time to honor her (and Poppy), what they built and what they left as their legacy.

So here we are. A year and half after Grommy left us, we are picking up the (thousands and thousands of) pieces. My mom and I, with the rest of the family’s blessing. have a plan. She and I are working our way through the rooms full of antiques and collectibles Grommy delighted in finding and displaying for decades. Our idea is to host events at the house where you can explore and find treasures for yourselves (details to come). Along with those events, we’ll share the stories we discover – stories about teapots & crystal, linens & china, books, prints, Hummels, Depression glass and more. This is our work: Understanding more of our family’s history, discovering relics of American history, paying tribute to the beautiful and overwhelming world of collectibles and antiques, all while grieving the loss of a complicated and wonderful woman. We are not professional curators or antique sellers (Mom is a professional writer, thank goodness!), but we are ready to get to work and excited to share our adventures with you all.

Check our Rooted in Memories Facebook page frequently for details.

Grandson outsmarts grandma — which is not that difficult to do

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My grandsons are the most amazing people I know. You probably believe that your grandchildren (or children if you’re not there yet) are amazing, too. And I bet they are. There is something about this crop of young ‘uns that gives me hope for the future.

Here’s an example:

I stopped by Older Daughter’s house for a bit the other day. Youngest Grandson, a rising first-grader, always claims my phone immediately when I walk in — probably because it’s an iPhone 12 Pro Max that I don’t really understand & it’s out of his Mom’s all-encompassing media-censorship reach so it’s ripe for non-approved game downloading. On this day, I got a hug, handed over the phone & sat down to visit as he left the kitchen with his prize.

He was back again in a couple of minutes.

“Kacky, would you help me with your password so I can get this game? It’s new and I really really really want it,” he said.

Unfortunately, his mom heard him.

“No, Wesley,” she said, firmly, in that voice that always makes me straighten up a little even though she’s not talking to me. “You can’t use Kacky’s password to download games all the time. Give her back her phone & use your own tablet.”

The world held its breath for the next couple of seconds as he thoughtfully considered his options, apparently discarding the nuclear “arguing with Mom” choice (which, obviously, never ends well), and finally decided on a strategy. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next as he shrugged a concessive “OK, Mom” and left the room.

It didn’t take long.

A few minutes later, he returned with his headphones plugged in to his own kid-appropriate tablet. Taking a sip out of my glass of tea, he hopped on my lap & settled in as his mom & I kept chatting.

During a conversation break, he pulled off his headphones & asked me a question.

“Hey, Kacky,” he said, with a studied nonchalance, “I think that game is on my tablet. Would you help me find it?”

With his Mom’s attention diverted elsewhere (one of the dogs? one of the cats? one of the other kids?), I was happy to help.

“Sure, sweetie,” I said. “What’s the name of it?”

He seemed to ponder.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “Maybe look it up in the App Store to see?”

Who could refuse such a reasonable request? We searched, looked up icons & tried to identify the mystery game.

“There it is!” he said. “I knew I had it.”

But, being the helpful (read “naïve & gullible”) grandma that I am, I had to point out that the game had been deleted from his tablet & needed updating.

“Would you do that for me, please?” he said, adding a kiss on my cheek. “I don’t know how.”

And that is how Youngest Grandson did an end-run around all the barriers erected against him & got exactly what he wanted with a minimum of fuss and a brilliantly executed plan.

As I said, my grandsons are amazing.

Getting along requires compromise

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Because my husband John Pitts & I hold differing political views and vote for opposing candidates, many folks wonder how we make our marriage work. (Actually, those questions usually are directed to my husband in the form of “How in the world does Cathy put up with you?”)

Today, on an Election Day that’s responsible for, I bet, millions of other families in the same situation these past months, I thought I’d share a thoughtful analysis of a typical reasoned & logical & courteous exchange between my husband & me in hopes it may inspire others.

Totally kidding. We never have reasoned & logical exchanges.

But we do have conversations like this:

Me: Hey, sweetie, didn’t you say you put that box in my car as I asked you to?
JP: Yup, I sure did. Why?
Me: Because it’s not there.
JP: Sure it is.
Me: No, it’s not.
JP: Yes, it is.
Me: Sweetie, I saw this with love & respect, but that box is not in the back of my car. At all. Not. There.
JP: What are you talking about? I put it exactly where you asked me to.
Me: You put it in the back of the car?
JP: Of course.
Me: Well, it’s not there–unless you magicked it with a Cloak of Invisibility.
[Momentary silence as we mutually head out of the kitchen & into the garage. I stop midway at the back-seat door of my CVR, preparing to open it & prove the non-existence of the disputed box. John Pitts, however, continues his march to the back of the car, opens the rear cargo door & triumphantly points inside.]
JP: See? It’s right here.
Me, confused: But that’s not the back.
JP: What are you talking about? Of course it’s the back.
Me, still confused but gesturing to the correct location–the back seat: No, that is not the back. This is the back. That’s the way-back.
JP, looking as if he wished he had his own Cloak of Invisibility: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Me, speaking slowly & clearly: That. Is. Not. The. Back. That. Is. The. Way. Back.
JP, now looking a bit dazed: I literally have never heard you call this the ‘way-back’.
Me, considering but ultimately discarding–in the interest of civility–a comment referencing the number of times I say things proportionate to the number of times he hears me say the things: Hmm … well, that’s what it’s called. We’ve always called it the ‘way-back’.
JP:
Me: Besides, why would I want the box in the way-back? I’ll never remember to drop it off at the donation center if it’s [pausing for emphasis] way back there.
JP, doing a remarkable job of remaining calm: Would you like me to move it to the back seat for you?
Me: Oh, that would be lovely. Thank you so much.

And that’s how we negotiate our conflicts to a mutually satisfying conclusion: He knows I’m correct but won’t admit it but it’s OK because I know that he knows that I’m the winner.

Happy Election Day!

I really am cheap & frugal*

*she says as she hides her $82.34 Starbucks receipt (those cups!).

Seriously, I  am. My husband John Pitts would point to our dear friends the UPS & FedEx drivers–they send us Christmas cards!–as evidence to the contrary, and maybe I do have trouble leaving T.J. Maxx without a Rae Dunn mug. (I’m looking for the yellow “Hello Spring” right now & although I KNOW I can find it on Amazon or Mercari, I am NOT paying $30 for a $6 mug, thank you very much. See? Told you I was cheap.)

Despite my platinum status with several credit cards, (just kidding, John Pitts! I’m exaggerating for literary affect!!) frugality is how I was raised — because that’s how my parents were raised. My maternal grandmother never met a piece of burned toast she couldn’t scrape to some level of eat-ability. A little bit of mold never fazed my mother. “Just take it off or eat around it,” she would say, frowning. “It won’t hurt you.” Until she stopped cooking a few years ago & caregivers brought order to the house, her refrigerators & freezers were full of leftover spoonfuls of this & extra little bits of that — all stored in, of course, plastic margarine tubs. So. Many. Margarine. Tubs.

It took years of (retail) therapy to overcome the teachings of my youth. Thankfully, although I burn a lot of toast, I’m able to throw it out instead of attempting resuscitation. I may err too much on the side of “Ick! Get rid of that moldy mess!” when perhaps a little scraping would save a piece of cheese. And I never compromise on quality when buying the important stuff: toilet paper, Wheat Thins & coffee. I don’t care that the store brands are 75% less.

But in the depths of my soul, I’m cheap.  I will absolutely make every dime I spend on household & personal stuff work as hard as possible. And I have discovered a few tricks I’m happy to share because so many people admire my penny-pinching ways so we can all spend more money on Rae Dunn mugs. Just step away from the yellow one.

Tiny type on the back of this detergent box offers measurement directions that do NOT involve filling the scoop to the top, although that’s what most of us do.

For example –and this is obvious but I have to remind myself all the time–read the directions! I bet that when you’re doing laundry, you simply fill the cup or scoop or whatever to the top & dump it in. Right? Isn’t that what we all do? Well, stop doing that! Laundry detergent packaging always has suggested measurements based on laundry-load size — and they’re not “fill up the scoop with as much detergent as possible.” Quite the opposite, in fact. Of course, those instructions are difficult to find. And the accompanying measuring devices rarely are clearly marked “THIS LINE IS WHERE YOU STOP PUTTING IN DETERGENT.” Now, I’m not suggesting that the manufacturers make it difficult for us to find these measurements on purpose. I’m not saying that they WANT us to give in to our natural impulse of filling the scoop to the top & dumping it in. I am in NO WAY intimating that they are encouraging us to race through our boxes of Tide much faster than necessary so WE’LL GO OUT & BUY MORE. But … check for yourself. Go to the laundry room right now & pick up your detergent & see how long it takes you to find the directions & see how clearly the measurements are marked to make following those directions easy. Am I right? Yes, I’m right.

The best part of this read-the-directions technique is that it not only saves you money but it also reduces waste AND gives you the satisfaction of not falling for the old fill-it-up-and-go-buy-more trick.

Ready to save more more & reduce more waste? Come back soon & we’ll tackle those amazingly designed beauty product containers & FORCE them to give up that last bit of $50 moisturizer. Not that I personally myself have ever bought $50 moisturizer* …

she says as she sips from her new $30 Starbucks cup. Priorities, people. Priorities.

My daughters know me so well

I’m still talking about Christmas presents because —

  1. we only recently took down the tree.
  2. I just last week found some gifts I’d opened Christmas morning & then carefully placed in a safe spot so I wouldn’t lose them/forget them/accidentally throw them away. It’s Christmas every day at our house!
  3. my daughters gave me such awesome presents that I want to share.

It won’t surprise you to learn that all three things are true. But let’s focus on the third thing because it’s the most true: My daughters – – two incredible women in their sort-of mid-30s — are THE BEST present-givers ever. They must have learned this skill from the Internets because I sure didn’t teach them.

  • Older Daughter gave me something I’ve never had or thought about having before: a image0facial. I am 62 years old & have never had a facial. Is that normal? I don’t know–somehow I always associated facials with stars & celebrities & people who say, offhandedly, “But that handbag is only $5,000–a steal!” After all, I’m from the Pond’s/Noxzema generation with a dash of hippie-natural. I mean, I always thought that your face is your face. It’s going to go through some things (with deepest apologies to Marie L. Yovanovitch) & there’s nothing a normal non-celebrity person can do about it. But I was wrong. Thank goodness Older Daughter knew that I was wrong & decided to do something about it. (Again, I have no idea who taught her such impressive adult behavior. I should take notes.) I know I probably won’t look 10 years younger when it’s done, but literally putting my face in somebody else’s hands is going to be relaxing & fun. One question  — How close to your facial date do you remove chin hair? Asking for a friend.
  • Younger Daughter excels at finding gifts that make you think “This was absolutely made for me & now I never want to be without it.” I am both a notebook & writing-image2implement addict AND a make-up newbie (see above on facials). So what better gift than Sephora makeup brushes in the shapes of classic yellow No. 2 pencils? Yellow No. 2 pencils! This is genius & I sort of want to find the designers & shake their hands. Or write them a thank-you note with, you know, a classic yellow No. 2 pencil. Younger Daughter also gifted me this Ruth Bader Ginsburg keychain string doll. I love her. She’s the perfect size & has accompanied me practically everywhere since I got her & I credit her with all good things that have happened to me since. She goes with the RBG dissension necklace Younger Daughter gave me the previous year. I need to start wearing it every day, as well.

Thanks for letting me brag about my brilliant daughters reading. What are some presents your grown children have given you? And are you surprised that they learned such mature behavior AFTER they grew up–seems like only yesterday we were saying, “Please don’t throw My Little Ponies at your sister.”

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P.S. Nobody pays me anything or gives me anything or helps me in any way in exchange for a mention in “Coffee with Cathy.” Whatever you read here is from me alone, for no other reason than it’s something I like or saw or heard or feel or want to talk about. Of course, if Cadillac wants to gift me my dream car – an Escalade SUV – I’m open to negotiations, but otherwise, I can’t be bought. (Also blue. I like Dark Adriatic Blue.)

Was Dec. 25 really only 25 days ago?

Yes. Yes, it was. Only 25 days ago you were knee-deep in LEGO boxes & sugar-cookie crumbs & desperately trying to remember if you’d wrapped everything correctly because it sure looks your third-favorite sister-in-law is opening the bracelet you bought for your second-favorite sister-in-law. Oops.

(Side note: I’m sitting here with my computer while A Very Important Football Game is on TV & I’m, like, “Oh, it’s the cute guy from the insurance commercials. Aaron somebody.” This is the extent of my NFL knowledge.)

Returning to the Great Gifting Extravaganza of 25 days ago–remember how, before image3Dec. 25, we’d anguished over our burgeoning holiday gift list? Remember how we second-guessed every purchase & debated every gift-card-v.-actual-item decision? We worried & stressed & considered paying extra for the super-duper-extra-fast-guaranteed-delivery-yesterday-or-maybe-next-week shipping because we wanted to give everybody the perfect present. But, right now–25 days later–can you remember what those presents were? I have to admit that for me it’s all faded into a warm fuzzy memory of “thank-yous” & hugs & those Dec. 25 words every grandparent longs to hear: “It’s exactly what I wanted!”

However, I DO remember the awesomely wonderful presents I opened 25 days, and I bet you do, too. We focus so intently on our own holiday shopping that we forget it’s a two-way process. I need to grab a gratitude journal & remind myself because my family includes some of the best present-picker-outers ever. Here’s proof:

  • OK, it’s true that my husband John Pitts didn’t actually go out & buy the BrevilleIMG_2325 Barista Express Espresso Machine for me. But he DID say “go for it” when I told him I had ordered was going to order it & it it could be my Christmas present & I really really wanted it because had he noticed I hadn’t been making espresso lately because my other machine leaked all over the kitchen counter & we can’t have that but we must have espresso. Must. Have. Espresso. At least, I think he said “go for it.” He might have said “What the @#$% do you need a $500 coffee machine for?” I wasn’t really listening. But this? This is life. I love it so hard. We have deep meaningful conversations every morning. We understand each other completely. There was a learning curve in which I doubted myself a couple of times but we finally figured each other out. If you appreciate good coffee as well as the process of making it, then this is a must-have.image1
  • I have two sisters-in-law & they are both generous, loving & giving women who care about things such as equality & environment. One of them gifted me this gorgeous World Wide Fund scarf. It’s a meaningful gift because it reminds me 1) to be more like my sisters-in-law instead of pondering such minor annoyances as “Do you think my ears are different sizes–like feet? Because the left AirPod always slips out.”; 2) “WWF” stands for “World Wide Fund” & not “World Wildlife Fund” or “World Wrestling Federation” because legalities & trademarks, people, and 3) the WWF website has disturbing reports on the Australian wildfire & other climate-change news–and it’s not good. Take a minute & read for yourself. My sis-in-law says “thank you.”

But, wait! There’s more! Come back tomorrow for more gifting fun & other goodies.

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P.S. Nobody pays me anything or gives me anything or helps me in any way in exchange for a mention in “Coffee with Cathy.” Whatever you read here is from me alone, for no other reason than it’s something I like or saw or heard or feel or want to talk about. Of course, if Cadillac wants to gift me my dream car–an Escalade SUV–I’m open to negotiations, but otherwise, I can’t be bought. (Also blue. I like Dark Adriatic Blue.)

A story about mothers & daughters

Because I’ve been walking around–well, sort of walking around–on crutches these past couple of weeks and people are squinting at me & saying, “Wait, you hurt your leg AGAIN???”, I thought I should explain.

Yes, I hurt my leg again. No, the other leg.  Yes, it was something stupid.  No, a dog & beer bottles were not involved this time. And, yes, you are correct that I’m a klutz & definitely should watch where I’m going. Thank you for your concern.

Also–daughters are The Best. The. Best.

But before I tell you why that is true: My current leg situation is because, at home one day, I walked into the leg of a chair that has been in the same spot for several years but apparently time-traveled into invisibility at the exact second I passed by.  That’s the only explanation I have for walking into a chair I’d managed to avoid  a million other times. (Unless you have a better story & then, please, may I borrow it?) Anyway, the sweet folks at the emergency clinic said I’d broken the something-or-other part of my foot & I should stay off of it for several weeks via crutches and this lovely boot thing & we’ll file your insurance & please have a nice day.

But the previous leg situation lives on because of this photo.45035643_10103008473157676_7379885916367618048_n

That is me with some more sweet folks loading me into an ambulance at my mom’s house in home-of-Bonaroo Manchester, Tennessee. But you’re probably looking at Younger Daughter, on the left, and wondering why she’s making a rude gesture & to whom she is making it. In reverse order, the answers are my brother/her uncle & because he had asked us to “smile for the camera.” And also because she loves her mama & felt her uncle was somehow responsible for what had transpired. Which is this:

  1. Younger Daughter & I drove up to my mom’s house for a weekend birthday celebration. It was late afternoon & getting dark.
  2. Everyone always brings adult beverages to my mom’s house because if we didn’t there wouldn’t be any.
  3. My mom also doesn’t think dogs should be in her house.
  4. My brother, therefore, had left his dog, Roxie, in the mudroom/back-entryway.
  5. My brother also had barricaded the doorway leading out of the mudroom/back-entryway by placing a walnut dining-room chair on its side in said doorway.
  6. My brother also had thoughtfully turned out the lights because Roxie likes it better that way & we’re trying to be environmentally & sustainably thoughtful.
  7. I walked into the mudroom & didn’t turn on the lights because I was carrying six-packs of beer bottles because of course that’s the most important thing to bring inside the house first and I also was talking to Roxie & Younger Daughter.
  8. I immediately didn’t see the chair, fell over it & found myself on the floor with Younger Daughter saying, “My god, Mom, YOUR BONE IS STICKING OUT.”

It wasn’t my bone–there was just some normal body stuff that apparently appears when you fall over something while carrying six-packs of beer bottles & slice open your leg with one of the bottle’s metal caps. I spent the remainder of the weekend with my leg propped up and recovering from a nasty hangover because–and this is where the mother-daughter bond makes another appearance–I’d stupidly told the ambulance & emergency-room folks that “No, I’m fine. It doesn’t hurt at all.” because that’s what you say when people ask you how you are & so, consequently, my on-a-scale-of-one-to-10 pain level was recorded as being so low that I didn’t need pain meds. Which was a big ol’ lie because it really really really hurt. But, Younger Daughter, with impressive presence of mind & because she is awesome, had accurately assessed the situation & brought my big tote bag to the ER with the little boxes of wine I always pack (see No. 2 above) so I sneaked gulps between visits by attentive medical people administered my own pain meds quickly & thoroughly–so well, in fact, that I had TWO reasons for walking out of the ER unsteadily & then I also promptly got sick in my brother’s truck.

But the good news is that I have wonderful daughters who stick up for their mama & take excellent care of her when needed. Happy Mother’s Day!

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These are a bunch of my favorite things — Part 1: Shopping while everybody else is watching The Game

Note: This is Part 1 of a continuing series about some of my favorite things that you need to know about so they can be your favorites, too. Check back frequently for the latest–and share your favorites, too.

 

There’s this Big Football Game (remember that you can’t say “Super Bowl” unless you’re an NFL team owner or actually playing in the game) coming up. Then, in a few weeks, Massive March (basketball) Madness happens. So because of these important televised Sports-Ball Games at which your people request your couch presence, you’ll probably be spending more time in front of the TV–you know, that big screen on your wall you keep forgetting to dust because you’re snuggled up in bed watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” And even if you’re a passionate I’ve-worn-my-team-shirt-for-12-straight-days fan who notices all the things–or you’re a casual observer who only REALLY pays attention when there’s a chance Alabama will get the @#$% beat out of them–it’s difficult to completely 100 percent focus on every single play 100 percent of the entire game. Sometimes you need a break–something quiet & unobtrusive that won’t earn you side eyes from those who frown on game-time side chatter.

Solution? Shopping on your phone.

Sure, you could do something like sit there & read a book or knit a sweater or grade some papers. (Wait, CAN you knit a sweater? Because if you can, you totally should do that, anyway.) But doing something that’s so obviously NOT watching the game is a bit I’ve-got-more-important-things-to-do-thank-you-very-much rude. Of course you could use your phone to play games or check email or engage in a Twitter war while everybody else debates an offside call. But those things take focus & concentration, too, and may cause you to be that person who looks up & asks plaintively “What happened? Why is everybody yelling? What did I miss?” Don’t be that person.

Shopping on your phone, on the other hand, is the perfect watching-but-maybe-not-so-much activity: You’re engaged enough to participate in game commentary but you’re also doing something nice for yourself. Win-win. Which–fun fact–is completely unlike the Sports Ball you’re (supposed to be) watching.

So, for your Big Game Day sort-of-watching pleasure, here are three of my favorite online boutiques. These are for mainly women’s clothes & accessories because that’s mainly what I shop for. I’ve got several other favorites, but these are simply the ones where I’ve recently spent waaay too much money because there’s so much cuteness & so many sales that I thought of first.

  • Lemons and Limes Boutique–Owned & run by the amazing Wendy Knight from her home in Loveland, Ohio, this is the place for fun & affordable jewelry, stylish yet useful handbags and unique items from her own product line, Lauren Lane. Double-stud earrings? Mix-and-match stretch bead necklaces? A purse you really & truly can wear five different ways? Lemons & Limes had them first. And now you can, too.  cropped-cwcslantCoffee with Cathy tip: Wendy has the best subscription shipments, grab bags & mystery auction boxes. The. Best. Even if you think you don’t like surprises, I guarantee you’ll like these.
  • Prep Obsessed–Best friends Nina Vitalino & Corey O’Loughlin started their boutique in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, six years ago … and shopping has never been the same. Known for their colorful Florida vibe, the two entrepreneurs & their hard-working team offer curated collections of Spartina, Simply Southern, Corkcicle, All for Color & other classic brands both online & in their store.  cropped-cwcslantCoffee with Cathy tip: New gotta-haves go fast, so don’t delay clicking “Add to cart.” (I NEVER hesitate.) However, Corey & Nina restock whenever things are available, so wait-listed items usually get fulfilled.
  • Tag Online Boutique–Julie Knight, of Cincinnati, couldn’t find an online clothing boutique that offered style & fit at accessible prices, so, four years ago, she started her own. “TAG” stands for “Trendy, Affordable & Gorgeous”–and everything she sells on her website meets that promise. Shop here for dresses, outerwear & separates–Julie was the one who introduced Magic Pants to the world.  cropped-cwcslantCoffee with Cathy tip:  Join the Tag Facebook group for discounts on new releases, fabric info & to see items modeled by women of different sizes.

Each of the hundreds dozens one or two times I’ve shopped these boutiques, I’ve been amazed at the helpful customer service & quick shipping times. Each of these businesses is run by women–women with families & in some cases women with other jobs. Each of these boutiques gives back by helping individuals who could use a boost & by contributing to non-profits that help others. It’s win-win-win-win. Again, please don’t say that during The Game. The purpose of any sports ball is one–and ONLY one–win. Only in shopping can there be many winners. True story.

cropped-cwcslant1.jpgP.S. Nobody pays me anything or gives me anything or helps me in any way in exchange for a mention in “Coffee with Cathy.” Whatever you read here is from me alone, for no other reason than it’s something I like or saw or heard or feel or want to talk about. Of course, if Cadillac wants to gift me my dream car–an Escalade SUV–I’m open to negotiations, but other than that, I can’t be bought. (Also blue. I like the Dark Adriatic Blue.)

But what if our clothes talk back???

So, let’s all agree that home-organization superstar Marie Kondo seems like a really sweet & gentle person whose Netflix show is making us reevaluate our overflowing closets & overstuffed garages and I had no idea I bought five little spice jars of paprika over the years.

She’s right, of course.

We all know that the things we accumulate should have purpose & meaning–they should EARN the right to be in our homes. They should be worthy of the space they occupy and the time & effort they require for maintenance. Things we uncover during Kondo’s tidying-up process that we didn’t know we had/never saw before/don’t even understand what they are? Outta here. Free up room for important stuff such as the entire 1972 run of “Vogue” you scored at a yard sale, the hapazardly stacked towers carefully curated collection of Starbucks cold-drink cups & the shelves of workout DVDs you’ll use as soon as you get a good pair of shoes. And some hand weights. And a yoga mat. And a …

Yes, Kondo is spot-on with most of her advice. The one thing I balk at–the one thing I have several unreasonable & probably obsessive fears minor questions about–is the talking part. You know: she wants us to talk to our possessions. To thank them for their service. To honor their role in our lives.

I have Concerns.

First, consider this from your possessions’ points-of-view. What about their feelings? Say you unearth a pair a jeans from the un-mined depths of your closet. You wore them once 10 years & 10 pounds ago and they didn’t feel right then so you folded them up & figured you’d deal with them later. Well, later is here. These jeans have been languishing for a decade–lonely, abandoned, unloved. Suddenly, they feel human touch! They see daylight!! They hear soft & appreciative voices!!! Hope is renewed!!!! But just as quickly, they find themselves back in a dark & depressing pile–a pile of fellow rejects whose souls were stirred by grace & gratitude for a brief moment before being extinguished forever. A pile headed to who-knows-where. Maybe someplace better. Maybe someplace worse. Do you want that on your conscience? Do you want to be responsible for such emotional turmoil? No. No, you don’t.

Second, what about your own peace of mind? Your own emotional stability? Say you pick up these jeans & thank them for that long-ago day of sort-of usefulness but then you start thinking: “You know, these jeans were expensive when I bought them. I gave up a month of Toasted White Chocolate Frappuccinos for them. Maybe I could sell them? But today this brand is three times what I paid. I could never replace them. Maybe low-rise animal-print double-distressed cropped light-wash boyfriend jeans will come back in style soon. Styles come back, you know. Maybe I should hang on to them & they’ll be worth a lot more. Maybe somebody collects them. Or a museum might want them. Maybe I should give up Toasted White Chocolate Frappuccinos for awhile & wear them myself.” Etc., etc., etc. Once we start this circuitous & never-ending inner dialogue, it only leads to trouble.

But, finally, my main concern is this: What happens when this inner dialogue becomes a two-way conversation? What happens when YOUR POSSESSIONS START TALKING BACK TO YOU? It may not happen & probably most certainly more-than-likely won’t but what if it did? Would Marie Kondo be at your side helping you then? (Actually, she seems so kind that she probably would. But cautiously.) Why even take the chance that your friends & family find you three days later immersed in passionate discussion with your dozens hundreds of Rae Dunn coffee mugs? Definitely not worth it. You do not want to be the asterisk in the millions of recommendations for the KonMari method.

My advice? Don’t engage. Go in fast, make snap decisions of “keep” or “toss” & then initiate rapid retreat–to Starbucks, of course, for a Toasted White Chocolate Frappuccino. And don’t forget to bring home the plastic cup. You can use it later.

cropped-cwcslant1.jpgP.S. Nobody pays me anything or gives me anything or helps me in any way in exchange for a mention in “Coffee with Cathy.” Whatever you read here is from me alone, for no other reason than it’s something I like or saw or heard or feel or want to talk about. Of course, if Cadillac wants to gift me my dream car–an Escalade SUV–I’m open to negotiations, but other than that, I can’t be bought.

Things that really annoy me & I probably should let them go but maybe I don’t want to, so there

First, let’s be clear: I do try to practice gratitude. Every day I’m grateful for having a house & a job & too much food & a spouse who loves me even when I do stupid stuff. I say “thank you” to the jeans that don’t fit anymore before I kick them out of my closet (as instructed by the Queen of Tidying Up). I appreciate little kindnesses from random strangers. I stop to smell the roses–as long as there aren’t, you know, bees & thorns & snakes & wasps hanging around & I don’t have to walk through mud or anything.

You do those things, too, I bet–practice gratitude. But, let’s be honest. Down deep, in the inner reaches of our soul where nobody knows we can eat an entire bag of Cheetos by ourselves, we count our pet peeves rather than our blessings. I don’t know why we’re reluctant to ignore those tiny annoyances that rile us up. It’s probably an ancient evolutionary thing: heavy sighs, eye rolls & inward groans could be ways our bodies keep us sharp & always on the lookout for the next Tyrannosaurus attack. Or whatever.

So here’s my (partial & always evolving) list of Things That Annoy the **** Out of Me. Besides, of course, puppy-kickers, anything & everyone related to anybody named Kardashian and everything about the White House since Jan. 20, 2017.

  • Students who ask me questions that are answered on the syllabus. I’m an adjunct journalism instructor at a local university & for some reason I am especially annoyed when students ask me things that are RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF THEM. “When is the exam?”, “What are we doing Wednesday?” and “How do I submit my story?” are all in 12 point Times New Roman RIGHT THERE ON THE SYLLABUS. At the beginning of every semester, I tell them: “DO NOT ASK ME QUESTIONS THAT ARE ANSWERED ON THE SYLLABUS. I will not be happy if you do that.” Yet every semester they do it. All. The. Time. So, also: Students who don’t listen when I tell them things.
  • People waiting at a checkout register who immediately start knocking other people over to be first when a new lane opens. I mean, bless their hearts, where are they even going & is it worth the ill will they’re piling up, karma-wise? Look, when you’re hunting for the shortest checkout, it’s all go: stalking backed-up lines, calculating ratio of cart contents to cashier speed & figuring out how many people will need tutorials on Using A Card Reader. Everybody has an equal chance to observe, quantify the data & make a choice. At this crucial selection phase, self-preservation is key. May the odds be in your favor. But once you’ve made your choice & committed to your preferred lane, you are locked in, baby. No do-overs. No take-backs. You are no longer a solitary shopper focused on your own needs. Once in line, you are part of a community. Part of a linked chain that depends on everybody being patient & respectful of The Process. You’re in line? You’ll eventually check out. Unless a cashier quietly & politely offers you a new lane, hold steady. Dashing off willy-nilly to chase the rumor of a new register opening up just invites chaos. And eye rolls. Be one with your line.
  • Lima beans will always make my worst-things-ever-in-the-whole-world lists. Lima beans are a blot on humanity. What are lima beans, anyway? Do we even know? Have you ever seen a lima-bean farm? No. No, you haven’t. Then where do they come from? All I know is that they are disgusting little pods of watery green mushiness. That is a proven (by me) fact.

So there you have it–a partial list of things that really annoy me. And I didn’t even get to co-workers who steal the parking spot you’ve been eyeing for the past eight minutes and anti-wrinkle lotions that do not get rid of wrinkles so WHY DID YOU GET MY HOPES UP & MAKE ME SPEND $150??? Stay tuned …

cropped-cwcslant1.jpgP.S. Remember that nobody pays me or gives me anything or helps me in any way in exchange for a mention in “Coffee with Cathy.” Whatever you read here is from me alone, for no other reason than it’s something I like or saw or heard or feel or want to talk about. Of course, if Cadillac wants to gift me my dream car–an Escalade SUV–I’m open to negotiations, but other than that, I can’t be bought.