Wrinkled Wisdom – Post Holiday Ruminations

Hanukkah…Winter Solstice…Christmas…Kwanzaa…New Year’s. Well, we’ve just lived through another holiday season as the Omicron variant surges throughout the world. This year, thankfully, even the grandkids were vaxxed and home tests were available to confirm that no one had to stay in lockup while we partied. We hugged! We stashed the masks!

Wow…some of our friends, who haven’t seen relatives or pals for two years, actually celebrated together. That is, if their flights weren’t canceled because Omicron is hitting airline employees hard. Yes. Omicron! For inquiring minds, the World Health Organization skipped over the Greek alphabet letter Nu because it sounds like “new.” That would be redundant. They skipped over Xi because China’s president is Xi Jinping. That wouldn’t be politically correct. If these variants keep popping up, we’ll need to find a different alphabet!

We all might consider avoiding trips to the mall for a bit since experts predict that about two out of three of us will return at least one gift after the holidays. An alternative? Regifting! Reportedly, the most commonly regifted items are socks, alcohol, and scented candles. Huh? Socks?  We’re not regifting that scotch, for sure. Candles? Maybe. We regift sugar things. The mailman loves candy, and we sure don’t need more calories.

Food, which translates into calories that translate into fat, is a huge part of the holiday season. Some of us look forward to holiday celebrations just because of the specialty foods that will be welcomed on our plates. Some may not be seen or eaten for another year! Home-grown turkey.  Noodle kugel (not kegel).  Yummy mashed potatoes, stuffing, and orange gravy.  Coconut cheesecake.  Carrot cake.  Forget the fruitcake. 

The food is, of course, complemented by multiple wines and our favorite mixed drinks. Yup. More calories. We used to be able to handle three drinks. Now it’s two since hangovers aren’t fun. That’s one of the perks of hosting the party. Yes, you have to cook, prep, and clean up, but you don’t have to worry about driving home.

Then there is the holiday Annual Sugar Exchange. That’s what we call it when the neighbors think it’s neighborly to gift us with their favorite homemade cookies, cakes, or candies, much of which ends up in the compost or trash bin. Of course, that means it’s incumbent upon the receiver to reciprocate with a sugar gift. Oops, be careful about regifting food. One of us once did; then was asked for the recipe. Ouch.

After decades, gifting, in general, has become a challenge.  No one in the family really needs anything, except the grandkids who, of course, want things. So, we’ve established some traditions in giving. It works! We don’t buy that imported canned tuna fish we love because we know we’ll get a bunch for Christmas. We look forward to receiving an expensive scotch we wouldn’t buy but just love. Donations to favorite charities in our name.  Gift cards.  Lottery tickets. 

We had no problem with the answer to a crossword clue recently that read:  Thanks, it’s just what I’ve always wanted. It’s a lie! Well, fib would have fit too. Three in five of us have lied about liking a gift we just opened, according to a recent poll. Guess the others just say thanks and give it away.

One of the positive things about the holidays is that spam calls usually drop. What a relief! But, spam emails increase like crazy. Why? They are trying to dupe us with fake shipping notifications for holiday gifts. With age comes wisdom. If it lands in our junk mail, screw it.

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today? The simplest way to make a person happy with a gift? Ask them what they want. Gifts don’t always have to be a surprise. A wanted gift makes people smile. Hope you got a cute baseball cap this holiday. According to our hairdressers, the pandemic has apparently caused lots of hair loss. Thought that was aging. And, don’t instigate a holiday Sugar Exchange with neighbors. Trust us on this.

Wrinkled Wisdom – Did You Know?

We hope you will smile and laugh at some fun facts we’ve uncovered as we continue to ignore the news.  Smiling and laughing trigger the release of endorphins, making us feel happy.  But, oh, dear, they also cause wrinkles, which are, of course, emphasized as we age.  Crap.  Botox??

While feeling a bit guilty about deepening those wrinkles, we are going to share these tidbits with you.  Enjoy!  Smiling and laughing are optional.

Did you know that Purina has launched a line of pet food that uses bugs?  Well, specifically the food includes black soldier fly larvae and plant protein.  They are promoting it as a way to better use the planet’s resources.  Bugs are a great protein source and our pets have no mental hang-ups about eating them. 

Heck, that should come as no surprise.  Remember, people eat bugs too!  The selection on Amazon is mind-boggling.  Crickets, ants, and even beetle larva, can be found, covered in rich, dark chocolate.  Something called EntoMilk is used in some ice creams.  It’s made from the larvae of that popular black soldier fly.  But, let’s talk ants.  Did you know that all the ants on the Earth once weighed as much as all the humans?   No longer, as one expert points out, “We’re not just increasing in population, we’re increasing in fatness, so I think we’ve left the ants behind.” 

Speaking of fat, the Washington Post has published its Annual Neologism Contest winners, who offer entertaining alternative meanings for common words.  Our favorites?  Flabbergasted: appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.  Abdicate: to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

And, don’t forget that the majority of the brain (60%) is fat!  That explains so much.

We were very surprised to learn that Competitive Art was once an Olympics competition.  Painters, sculptors, writers, and musicians battled for the gold, silver, and bronze.   After the Olympics were put on hold during World War II, the new IOC president insisted that the Olympics be absolutely pure.  He believed that winning an Olympic medal for Competitive Art was an advertisement for the artists’ work and made them more money on their sales.  Another victim of war.

Oh, my God!  That was our reaction to learning that the ubiquitous text abbreviation OMG is more than 100 years old.   A British Naval admiral included it in a 1917 letter to Winston Churchill.  What is old is new!  Recycling at its best. 

Air fresheners, perfumes, and aftershaves can cause allergic reactions in cats.  Makes sense.  They have a keener sense of smell for survival.  We know how they feel.  Ever been in an elevator with a heavily-fragranced individual??   Thank heavens, we don’t react like some cats and vomit or have diarrhea.  Even our Covid masks don’t help.  When it comes to fragrances, less is more!

Pope Francis worked as a nightclub bouncer in his hometown in Argentina to support himself when he was a student.  Not sure what implications to draw from this!

Historians guess that Genghis Kahn’s conquests killed around 40 million people.  Yet, one in every 200 men today is descended from this murderous Mongolian.  Huh?  Scary?

Before mercury, brandy was used to fill thermometers.  What a waste of good alcohol! 

Hot water freezes faster than cold water. We knew that but forgot.  Because, who cares?

The first McDonald’s drive-thru was created in one of its restaurants in Arizona, located near a military installation.   Military rules at the time forbade soldiers from wearing their uniforms in public.  The manager had a hole cut in the restaurant’s wall so military members could pick up their Big Mac and fries without stepping out of their cars.  Thank you for your service!

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Amuse yourself with interesting facts.  Get with the program; eat bugs and help save the planet.  Suggest to your young relatives that they get an ancestry DNA test for their fiancé before marrying the guy.  And, know when you think someone is a fathead, you are right.  OMG!

Wrinkled Wisdom – Random Thoughts

Random Thoughs

We had toyed with the idea of writing a selection titled: Ten Top Reasons We’re Glad It Is Not 2020 Anymore….a cumbersome title and a blatant play on David Letterman’s Top Ten Lists.  (So fun not to have to explain who Letterman is to our readers.)  We also had a humorous Top Ten Reasons to Keep Some Masks idea, another cumbersome title.  However, things have not progressed as we had hope, so we nixed both ideas.  Consequently, we are left with… random thoughts.

Wow.  Disruptions in the supply chain are really screwing things up and driving up prices!  Costco is again limiting purchases of some items.  The issue isn’t panic buying.  They just can’t get the products to their stores. Thankfully, it’s not as bad as last year when everyone was hoarding.  Example?  Someone’s mega-package of toilet paper was strewn on the street recently and no one stopped to pick up the rolls!

Speaking of disruptions, if you need to schedule any medical appointments, do it now.  One specialist we called is now taking appointments in March.  March????

As more people are posting on various media, it’s driving up our blood pressure as we are constantly struck by poor grammar and spelling.  Sure, we all make mistakes, but we do know how to use an apostrophe!!!  And, please, there is the correct usage of “regard” versus “regards.” 

Mercedes once ran an ad bragging…More power.  More style.  More technology.  Less doors.  Less doors?  Wait, doors can be counted so, using proper grammar, the ad should have boasted fewer doors.  Some claim that companies use bad grammar to sell their products or services, arguing that it grabs people’s attention causing them to stop and focus on the message.  Nope.  Not buying that.  Just some ad writer’s clever response when caught screwing up.

Viruses constantly change through mutation.  So, we are lobbying for use of the word “mutant” over “variant” to describe the new forms of Covid.  Mutant sounds more negative to us, while variant seems more benign…like abnormal or different.  And, we are sure feeling negative about the Delta mutant taking us backwards.  

Regeneron is available to those over 65, so a positive for oldies who are suffering from breakthrough Covid cases.  Got to look for the positives these days!

Cooking has lost its appeal.  Thank goodness for microwaves and toaster ovens…and delivery!

We are noticing an increase in roadside litter.  Yes, people are back in their cars and going places, but has the pandemic made us less thoughtful about the environment???  “Leave no trace” should be honored everywhere.  Google its principles not the movie.  

We’ve noted that some do not do solitary very well; no wonder it is used as a penal punishment. 

Some people feel masks limit interpersonal communication.  There is truth to that.  Masks muffle sounds and cover facial expressions.  However, after more than a year of this mess, we’ve learned to better read body language, eyebrows, eyes, and upper cheeks, which are keys to understanding the big picture.  Listen for those audible signs of frustration.  Watch for that twinkle in happy eyes.  

The pandemic has spurred gambling from anywhere, any time, and on anything!  Even we can name multiple betting sites available to us on our phones.  And the initial no loss come-ons are way too inviting.  We don’t even understand half the betting terms, and we have limited to no knowledge about some sports.  Arm Wrestling and Rock Paper Scissors Championships! Really?

We’ve watched our screen time increase each week.  Gee…could it be killing time with online games?   Okay, maybe not Minecraft or Fortnight, but solitaire, poker, bridge, Words with Friends, or Candy Kush?  Not telling.

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Continue to wear those darn masks to protect yourself and others from the RISE of the MUTANTS.  Hmmm…in addition to storing personal protective equipment for the next pandemic, maybe the government should offer free American Sign Language classes so we can better communicate when masked?  Beware of online gambling!  Even if you know the terms parlay, bad beat, and vig, you can still lose your shirt.  Consider supply issues and shipping times when planning to cook or bake.  The strawberry jam bundt cake is on hold because the strawberry extract is weeks late.  We’re not advocating hoarding…but.  

Wrinkled Wisdom – Ouch!!!

What the heck? We had planned to suggest fun ways to use our stash of unused masks instead of tossing them. But, the coronavirus has reared its ugly head again. That nasty, aggressive Delta variant is taking us backwards. We knew we’d need to keep some masks as we planned trips, since wearing them in airports and on planes is still a must. Now, we’re thinking about cancelling the trips. But, didn’t think we’d be pulling them out again when heading to stores and indoor gatherings! We’re pissed.

Oh, no! We freaked when we read the headline: “Sorry, We Aren’t Going Back to the Movies.”  What? For over a year, we’ve been stuck at home watching movies, favoring those with predictable, happy endings. Why would we want to continue to do that?  We love the big screen. Yes, we understand that Hollywood coped with the pandemic by streaming new movies, but do studios still have to stream movies at the same time they release them in theaters??  

There is hope that this studio strategy will taper out and help theaters thrive. A bunch of households have cancelled their streaming services. And, the latest installment in the Fast and Furious franchise broke box office records recently. It debuted exclusively in theaters. While some of us have outgrown movies like Vin Diesel’s Fast and Furious F9, we did find one worth seeing and hit the theater for the first time recently. Fun! We hope more people are hungry to return to theaters, with a mask for sure.  But, most movies today are for young people and kids.  A lot of animated films.  Great for taking the grandkids to the theater, but what about us?  

Gulp!  People drank more and ate more unhealthy food during lockup. Calories! A jokester noted that, after 25 million Europeans died from the bubonic plague in the mid-1300s, Italian Renaissance paintings that followed are full of overweight, naked people lying on couches. A doctor at the time may have contributed to the weighty people in the paintings by recommending they ingest “select wines” as they lived in fear of getting the plague. Or, maybe it was just a time when good health and wealth was firmly associated with “stable plumpness.”  

The big uptick in sales, surprisingly, was in distilled spirits—tequila, gin, and whiskey. People treated themselves by splurging on more expensive brands. Liquor companies also saw a rise in two- to three-ingredient cocktails, selling more “premium mixers” such as cordials, flavored liqueurs, and aperitifs. Sales of vodka mules and other premixed cocktails in cans nearly doubled during the Covid lockdown. 

Takeout cocktails helped bars and restaurants stay in business during the pandemic. At least 33 states temporarily allowed cocktails to-go. The Colorado House of Representatives recently passed a bill extending to-go cocktails from distillery pubs, restaurants, and bars for five years.  Hmmm…any link to the increase in DUIs during the pandemic even as driving decreased?? 

Ouch!  Tattooing is booming and many are asking for Covid-related designs. As someone said, tattoos are the body’s “refrigerator magnets of memories.” The more entertaining include Corona beer bottles in various states of explosion, hand sanitizer, and rolls of toilet paper. A heart surrounded by coronavirus spike proteins is popular. It’s the logo of a group that connects Covid-19 survivors. Tattoos featuring semicolons, interestingly, are some of the most moving.  Coupled with a butterfly wing, it’s a symbol of freedom. Coupled with a heart it represents the love of partners, family, and friends, who helped the person through the pandemic.  But, we truly hope young people consider aging and sagging skin when choosing a location for that tattoo!

Egad!  Fashion torture devices are suddenly looking appealing. After wearing sweats, pajamas, and leggings for over a year, high heels, tight pants, strapless bras, and even pantyhose are looking less painful as we welcome the eventual resurgence of a social life. Fun earrings!  Bracelets and necklaces! Cocktail outfits! Tossing those sweats might be a challenge at first.  Need to reintroduce ourselves to our closets.  And, it’s going to be great for our favorite dry cleaners’ business. The Delta variant might slow us down a bit, but….

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today:  Focus on you! Get those masks out! Go to the movies in the afternoon when theaters are pretty empty!  Suggest ankle tattoos to the kids. Head back to the gym but don’t forget to sanitize that treadmill. Even if you have exercise equipment at home, other body parts need work. Spend more time with friends, which will cause you to laugh five times more, says the research.  Stay optimistic. “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere,” wrote Erma Bombeck.  

Wrinkled Wisdom – Crosswords…Not Cross Words

We love crossword puzzles. They were a comforting friend and welcome bit of normalcy throughout the pandemic lockup.  We had no idea that crosswords were once touted as an antidote to dementia.  Wow.  But, not true.  Yet, some researchers think doing crosswords can delay cognitive decline by a few years.  Yes!  Many believe that working a puzzle daily helps keep our brains active, improves memory, and builds vocabularies.  We’ll settle for that.  They certainly helped ward off Covid boredom.  Less time to be irritated and, well, use cross words.  

Science also confirms that solving a puzzle in a group strengthens social bonds.  We have no shame.  We’ve asked bartenders, fellow diners, and middle-seaters, among others, if they can help us with an answer.  And, no fellow “crossworder” is a stranger.  One of our favorite stories involves a group of old men (we were much younger then!) at McDonald’s.  We asked if they wanted a crossword puzzle answer they were struggling with.  From that day on, they called us the “Crossword Ladies.”  We all met around the same time on Saturdays to tackle a puzzle.  This relationship developed into true friendships way beyond “words.”

We are so glad that Sunday dinner is back on the agenda.  It is de rigor to do a puzzle at our family dinners.  The kids were introduced at an early age to the joys and aggravations of the puzzle.  They love crosswords!  Also, luckily their brides either embrace or tolerate the puzzle.  Once we complete it, we google a blog written by an English professor under the pseudonym Rex Parker.   He opens by addressing the relative difficulty of the puzzle.  Then he comments on the puzzle’s theme, where he stumbled, and what he found annoying.  The annoying part is the most entertaining.  If you need to cheat, you’ve got all the answers from Rex.

Success with the puzzle is definitely improved by the various generations at the table!  Take one recent puzzle.  Who our age knows the name of a basketball game in an arcade?  Pop-A-Shot?  Huh??  Do any of us know what Sta4nce is?  Can’t even give you a definition after googling it.  But, we oldies nailed a number of answers unknown to the younger crowd. For example, they were clueless about the name of the heavy metal band that earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.  Black Sabbath!  Ozzy Osbourne rose to prominence during the 1970s as their lead vocalist. 

If it weren’t for grandchildren we might not know Olaf, the friendly snowman in Disney’s Frozen franchise.  There are techies in the family who help with answers beyond the obvious word “byte.”  And, some who know many of the sports answers as that is certainly not our forte!  Superman and Batman have been minimized by so many more superheroes that we have difficulty keeping up.  Not to mention the villains. While we took four years of Latin, it’s more likely French or Spanish answers the puzzles want.  We are pretty good with the gods and goddesses and mythology stuff.  Forget questions about recent movies.  Most are simply not made for our demographic.  

We find some clues silly, yet very hard.  Queen Anne’s lace?  The answer is “hers”?  What?  And, speaking of improving vocabularies, where else would we learn that a pismire is an ant or the source of the word pissant, a pejorative.   Or that an ort is a scrap of food.  

Another distraction for crossword fans and others is Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Crossword Mystery movies.  Crossword puzzle editor Tess Harper always finds herself swept into the investigation of a bizarre murder and unofficially teams up with Detective Logan O’Connor to find the killer.  

Let’s close with a little history.  Although similar word games can be traced back to Pompeii, the first known published crossword puzzle was created by a Liverpool journalist and appeared in the New York World on December 21, 1913.  An opinion column followed in The New York Times calling crossword puzzles “a primitive sort of mental exercise” and a “sinful waste” of time.  However, just two weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the NYT  Sunday editor sent a memo to the publisher saying, “We ought to proceed with the puzzle, especially in view of the fact it is possible there will now be bleak blackout hours—or if not that then certainly a need for relaxation of some kind or other.”  Guess we can all appreciate that take after the last year.

So, our wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Create a crossword group like a book club!  Meet once a week with friends and do a puzzle.  You don’t have to read the assigned book to have fun.  It’s immediate gratification.  It’s cerebral.   It provokes fun conversations about clues and answers.  Everyone can participate.   Do buy erasable pens, which are a thing.  Mistakes happen.  And, best of all, the puzzles come in large print!

Wrinkled Wisdom – We’re Cutting Loose!

We are vaccinated! We are leaving the house, often! Still wearing our masks, of course, because we know there’s a slim chance we can get Covid and there are still questions about whether we can transmit it. The new variants are a bit scary. Nonetheless, we are feeling cocky. 

We’ve had dinner and drinks with friends and family at home and in restaurants. We’ve returned to the grocery store. We were getting tired of the substitutes in our bags at pick-up and love making spontaneous decisions about dinner. We have gotten haircuts, manicures, and pedicures. We’ve been to the zoo. Its timed entries limiting the number of people enjoying the animals kept us all safe. We did cringe as the grandkids ran their hands all over the glass and handrails and then, of course, touched their faces! Oh well, we looked at it as building immunities.

We are ready to play bridge in person, foregoing our online games. Others, we hear, are joining the club—Retired Old Men Eating Out. Yes, it’s real. Tom Brokow introduced readers to the club in his 1998 book The Greatest Generation. We’re eager to see theatrical and dance performances and movies, if Hollywood finally produces one we actually want to see.

After living in sweats, pajamas, and leggings for a year, we’re wondering if we’ve lost our sense of style. Buttons, zippers, and buckles are back. We’re reintroducing ourselves to our closets. And, we’ve gone clothes shopping! We are so excited to touch and fondle the clothes. But, sooo disappointed that fashion has taken a tie-dye turn. Been there, done that! And the fabrics seem ready to stretch and fade. Another example of “planned obsolescence?” And, we’re entertained by the clothes still dominating retail stores…sweats and jeans.  Hey, how about some post-pandemic options???

We’ve been to the dentist, doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor, and masseuse. Many body parts needed these visits. No Zooming with a dentist, period. Zooming with the doctor just wasn’t the same. Are home blood pressure and oxygen finger cuffs really accurate? No way to palpitate a body part. PT via Zoom is totally awkward as one holds up and/or explains the offending body parts. Never did figure out how to place the computer so the therapist could see if we were doing exercises correctly. Speaking of Zoom, sure wish we had bought their stock at the beginning of the pandemic!

And, we’re heading to the airport! Statistics show that plane-ticket sales are being disproportionately fueled by seniors. Interestingly, the news isn’t as good for hotels, suggesting we oldies are traveling to see friends and family. Guess exotic vacations are still on bucket lists.

Don’t know about anyone else, but we have actually found there are some good uses for masks. It really helps to wear one while cleaning the cat box. Why didn’t we think of that before? But then, a year ago, we didn’t have masks all over the house and in every pocket. Also, one is helpful when working outside raking leaves or splitting wood. Some are finding it an effective allergy deterrent. And, we must give a shout-out to masks and hand-washing for low flu rates this past year. Sure didn’t mind wearing one outside when the winter temperatures hit minus degrees.

And there are so many awesome masks! As Vogue commented, masks are not a fashion accessory, but they sure take up a lot of real estate on your face. So, we’re all looking for aesthetically pleasing ones. While we used to say “great shoes,” we now say “great mask!”

One of the unexpected positives of leaving the house is escaping those annoying phone calls we’ve all had to bear throughout the pandemic. So exasperated with calls labeled spam risks, telemarketers, anonymous, name unavailable, or unknown caller. We’re not picking up. Stop calling!

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today? Get out there and have some fun with your vaccinated family and friends. Head into your closet and get organized. We are going to be wearing all those ignored pieces shortly. Start humming The Golden Girls theme song, Thank You for Being a Friend.  Buy some fun cards that say “I miss you” and send them to family and friends you hope to see soon. And follow up with a call to make a date. Perk up their day. Perk up your day. Let’s cut loose!

P.S. Advocate for vaccines in less developed countries to ensure we maintain our recovery while modeling American generosity.  It’s a win/win, especially if you want to travel internationally.

Wrinkled Wisdom – Pretty Please, Pay Attention to Plastics

There’s light at the end of the proverbial tunnel for vaccinated oldies!  Okay, that’s trite.  One late night host was much more creative in describing the Center for Disease Control’s latest guidelines for vaccinated seniors.  He called it an invitation to host “geriatric orgies.” Huh?  We’re just happy to see the grandkids and grocery shop in person.  It’s so satisfying to choose our own grapes and celery; and, while walking around, pick up things we don’t need, like more junk food.  The CDC also said we can now safely eat indoors at restaurants, which brings us to plastics.

Our year of ordering in and grocery deliveries has made us even more aware of plastics.  Takeout delivery includes a lot of single-use items and a lot of plastic!  Remember the 1967 movie The Graduate? In a discussion about Ben’s future, Mr. Braddock says he wants to say one word to Ben.  Just one word…plastics, because there’s a great future in plastics.  Mr. Braddock nailed it over 50 years ago.  Plastic products have increased by over 8% each year since the 1950s.  Huge!

Their impact on our oceans and wildlife has been astounding.  The Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean is well-known.  It’s almost six times the size of Colorado and chock full of fishing nets, trash, and plastic debris.  Didn’t know there are now four additional garbage patches in other locations around the world.

Our oceans are saturated with more than eight million tons of plastic waste every year. And, now, microplastics—fragments of any type of plastic—are increasingly seen as a global environmental concern.  Big things eat littler things.  Tiny anchovies eat microplastics and are, in turn, gobbled up by fish that are sold in our supermarkets. It used to be said, jokingly, that we were made of corn and sugar.  Now we can add plastic to that list. 

For visual impact, just google the numerous, heart-wrenching pictures of dead whales and dolphins, their stomachs filled with plastic and trash, or watch the video of a plastic straw being removed from an endangered sea turtle’s nose.  The Coast Guard estimates that more than one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year from eating or getting entangled in plastic debris. And, it’s not just marine animals.  Researchers studying floating plastics in the Persian Gulf region just found over 2,000 plastic bags in the stomach of a dead camel because it ate human trash.

Another depressing fact?  Plastic bags take about 10 to 20 years to decompose in landfills. It’s estimated that plastic bottles take 450 years.  As they degrade, they shed more microplastic shards into the air and water.  And don’t get us started on the microplastic from fleece!  

What can we do as news about plastic gets scarier?  We all recycle, of course.  We should also buy products in containers from recycled plastic.  But, to really make a difference, we need to support investment in better recycling technology, recyclable alternative packaging, and assure recycling is easy, accessible to all, and cheap.  As one newsperson wrote, “Like perms, gaucho pants, and bump-it clips, plastics appear to be trending downwards in the court of public opinion.”  This negativity has spurred companies to research cost-competitive, environmentally friendly replacements for conventional plastics.  Hurry!  

And, when you take those plastic bags back to the grocery store, include produce bags, newspaper bags, zipper sandwich bags, the plastic that covers your dry cleaning, and some acceptable cereal bags with your returns.  Even bubble wrap is recyclable. 

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Seek out products like Dove that clearly indicate you are buying shampoo in 100% recycled bottles.  Lobby for recycle symbols that can be spotted without eyeglasses, much less a microscope!  Check your trash company’s website to learn what is recyclable in your area.  No shredded paper??  Advocate for new chips and snack bags—ones without that shiny layer of polypropylene that protects crispness, but can’t be recycled. Please, do we have to sacrifice munching on Cheetos to be environmentally responsible?  And, if you are worried about plastics AND waiting for grandkids, you might want to read the book Count Down about plastics’ impact on fertility. Or not.

P.S. In some areas, it’s again okay for our reusable bags to accompany us to the grocery store.  Don’t forget to wash them!  We like to think of it as an extension of handwashing.  

Wrinkled Wisdom – Please, Never Say That Again

Maybe we are just overly sensitive after being confined for almost a year and facing the reality that vaccines for oldies aren’t a ticket to the old normal. But, since we have spent hours and hours at home, we’ve had the opportunity to listen to more reporters, commentators, panelists, talking heads, pundits, and others than we ever imagined. Confession: we often find their word usage both irritating and annoying. 

Does everything need to be dramatized, even weather? It’s going to rain, or we might get two inches of snow. Calm down. Cut the emotion. We’ll live through it. And EVERYTHING is “Breaking News.” And the same news is often hailed as breaking news hours later. How long can breaking news “break?” 

Most annoying; however, are the many overused and annoying words, phrases, and expressions that really make us cringe.  “You know” is one of the top contenders. No, we don’t know. That’s why we are tuning in. “Listen” is another. We’re watching you on television; we are listening.  “If I may” appears to be an attempt to be polite but comes off smug. Of course, you may. The host asked you a question! Use of “kind of, sort of” tells us nothing. Many talking heads end their sentences saying “right?”—attempting to encourage agreement from listeners. Heh…we’re not that easy.

And, then there are the guests who begin their responses with “in my humble opinion?” Ironically, they are not usually humble. “To be honest” also gets to us. Why wouldn’t you be honest? Are you often dishonest? If you hear a guest say “with all due respect” get ready for a fight. Someone is about to be disrespected. Speaking of fights, “let me play devil’s advocate” is a clear sign the guest is about to say something at odds with another panelist or the host.  

We thought we were alone in advocating for banishing some words and phrases. No, we have an ally!  It’s the Banished Words List Committee at Michigan’s Lake Superior State University.  The goal is to “uphold, protect, and support excellence in language by avoidance of words and terms that are overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, clichéd, illogical, nonsensical, and otherwise ineffective, baffling, or irritating.”  LSSU chooses 10 words or phrases annually based on submissions from people around the world.

We were excited until we read the 10 choices from 2020. Number one was COVID-19.  Huh?  Sure, we’re all tired of hearing, reading, and talking about the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you can just banish the name of the virus. Also listed were words and terms related to the pandemic. The committee advocates banishing expressions like “we’re all in this together.” We agree that the overused phrase “in these uncertain times” should be dumped. It also isn’t a big fan of the term “in an abundance of caution.” Heck, we’ll be tempted to throw caution to the wind after we get vaccinated. 

The committee pointed out that “pivot” can go when describing how everyone must adapt to COVID-19, making the point that basketball players pivot. We seemed to have missed this one, but we are not sports savvy. It has already banished the word “unprecedented” but the word made the LSSU list again last year because of continued misuse in describing events that do have precedent. Like, well, COVID-19. Lastly, we are wondering why “flatten the curve” didn’t make the top 10. It’s not only overused, it’s an oxymoron.  

Oh, speaking of overworked, how many times have we heard a guest say: “That is a great question; so glad you asked.” Is that a euphemism for…gee…will you have me back on your show again soon??

So our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? Turn off the screen and take out your ear buds. Sorry to make your television watching more cringe worthy. But, venting is good for the soul. Do it! We bet you have your own list of words and phrases you never want to hear again! So, start your 2021 list now! Entertain us by putting them in the comments section, and we will all try to comply!  Kind of/sort of.

Wrinkled Wisdom – Resiliency in the Face of More Challenging Pandemic Days

Happy New Year! Who among us was not ecstatic to see 2020 end?! Congrats to all of us seniors who may get a vaccine early this year—one positive about aging?! Our New Year’s resolution is to make the 2021 holiday celebrations the biggest and best with ALL family and friends. Well, at least those in the second half of the year!

While we dread winter as it impedes even outdoor gatherings amid strict Covid restrictions, we celebrate the symbolism of the slow return of light following the Winter Solstice. Right now, we are craving something to literally brighten lockup!  Longer days!

Astronauts say the key to surviving in space for months is to set a schedule, indulge in a hobby, go outside, keep a journal, and take time to connect. That journal might reflect your lack of showering, shaving, and hair washing!  Didn’t know astronauts go on spacewalks regularly.

So, we continue to review and check out ideas for filling our day. We only have 16 hours to fill if we get eight hours of sleep.  If not, there is always the option of napping. Some of us would like to sleep all day, but that could lead to a family intervention!

Numbers of things are worth doing daily—coffee and a newspaper or news of some sort to start the day. Put that on your schedule. Then there is the daily eating and tidying up.  Food shopping is a breeze with curbside pick-up and Instacart. And Blue Apron, Green Chef, Freshly, and local restaurants will actually deliver a cooked meal or one easy to prepare. Personal grooming should be done daily, even if it is only tweezing your eyebrows and those unruly chin hairs.

The phone was an incredible invention and continues to be a great way to connect while filling up the long days. It’s a lifeline to family and friends. And kudos to the speaker phone feature! Laundry can be folded, exercise continued, and meals prepared while chatting! And who could survive without it when you are caller 10 in the queue to speak to the Geek Squad or a customer service representative (a true misnomer).

Zoom might be considered an upgrade from the phone. Too bad we didn’t buy their stock as the pandemic took off. Of course, as you know, a video hookup requires that we get out of our PJs. You must be ready at a certain time (put it on the schedule) and have something on below the waist just in case. Beware! If you and your environs appear too unkempt and many wine glasses are in view, the family might stage another intervention. Cooking together looks great on TV commercials, but…. And if you really don’t want to watch cartoons with the grandkids, click the wrong button.

We have all culled our clothes closets (foregoing the rule to throw out anything not worn in a year since we haven’t been anywhere), pantries and kitchens (who needs cupcakes tins for 30 and multiple spring form pans), junk drawers, hall closets, and basements, and rearranged furniture.

We have joined virtual visits of interesting tourist draws around the world, listened to podcasts, signed up for live concerts, participated in on-line book clubs, and are playing lots of bridge on our computers. We have enjoyed zoos, aquariums, and museums that are open, although with limited capacity (and they do need our financial help). We look forward to our mental health rides, which also keep the car battery charged. And we squeeze in some exercise to avoid the Quarantine 19 weight gain. YouTube workout videos can get your feet moving. We do not encourage on-line gambling!

So our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? Wake up, smile, and say, so what’s on the schedule for today?! Keep that to-do list jam-packed. Be creative. When’s the last time you dusted your ceiling fans?  This is a time to be generous. Many are losing jobs and businesses, being evicted, or unable to feed their families. Donate your airline miles to charities; you aren’t flying anywhere soon. And, a warm bubble bath complemented by a quarantini is a great way to end the day!

P.S.  Please share with us what’s on your schedule or crossed off!

Wrinkled Wisdom – Holy Moly Pandemic Olio

We’re still at home, mostly.  It’s fall.  It’s cold.  COVID numbers are rising.  We venture out to shop for food, necessities, and now Christmas presents.  We are spending much more money on-line, and then feel guilty about not supporting our local businesses.   Okay, we do have our nails done and hit the dentist and doctor when needed.  The bad news is that lots of friends are concerned about indoor dining.  It’s going to be a long, dark, lonely winter.  Thankfully, the family still gets together.  We are careful, of course.  We don’t want to die.  We would like to see the grandkids graduate from high school and, hopefully, college. 

But, honestly, we do have a lot of time on our hands.  So, we’ve been entertaining ourselves with COVID questions, observations, and giggles.

We are now paranoid about licking our fingers.  Licked fingers are essential for turning the pages of the newspaper and books and helping us pick up small bits of debris scattered about.  Safety or efficiency?  Tough to break old habits.  Speaking of licking, we are no longer licking envelopes.  We weren’t surprised recently to be asked not to lick a return envelope needed to pay a bill by check.  Guess we’re not the only ones who are paranoid.  Yet, with the slowdown of mail delivery, doubt any of our germs will be alive by the time the envelope is opened.

We know.  Wash your hands frequently with soap and water…for at least 20 seconds.  Time to find the chorus of a favorite song that will help ensure you’ve hit the 20-second mark.  Hopefully, it is something other than the mind-numbing repetition of singing “Happy Birthday” twice, as some have advised.  We can be more creative than that!

The pandemic may be a catalyst to end paying with cash!  Cash is a notoriously efficient carrier of bacteria and viruses.  The lifespan of various bills ranges from four to 15 years—lots of time to accumulate germs.  The phrase “dirty money” has certainly taken on a new meaning.

What about blowing out birthday candles?  Spitting all over a cake might become a no-no.  If we believe infectious disease experts, handshakes could also become a thing of the past as we’ve gotten more freaked about germs and hygiene.  Are high fives and hugs also a thing of the past?   

We’re all already feeling touch-deprived as we physically distance so we aren’t infected by goo droplets.  What does six feet apart actually look like, as recommended?  Our favorite descriptions are a dude in a top hat laying on the floor and one and a fifth Danny DeVitos.

There are some things we’ve learned because of the pandemic.  Diseases can have multiple names like COVID-19, also called SARS-CoV-2, or simply the coronavirus disease 2019.  COVID-19 is capitalized because the World Health Organization says so.  We’ve also learned that a pangolin is a scaly anteater that supposedly got COVID from a bat.  The Chinese eat them.  So, don’t eat pangolins, bats, or humans to avoid the virus.  We’ve also learned what the inside of every late night show host’s house looks like.  

We are also doing some calming things to ensure we’re not caught flat-footed in another crisis.  We’ve learned some lessons…the hard way.  We now keep at least two weeks of toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels stashed away.  Hydrogen peroxide has been added to our Apocalypse list as its uses are legion.  We can’t believe we missed it the first time around.  It is a staple of the modern medicine cabinet, always on hand for first aid needs, and gargling with it can keep a visit to the dentist off your calendar.  And, it’s a disinfectant.  Kills COVID.  Who knew?   It’s still really hard to find in stores maybe because hospitals are scooping up those brown bottles. 

And, with all of us cooking at home more, we found recycling isn’t that easy!  Junk food bags aren’t recyclable.  Huh?   Some take-out food boxes aren’t recyclable. Some triangles are so small we must resort to a magnifying glass!  

So our wrinkled wisdom for today?   Find humor where you can.  Laugh out loud.  Don’t lick your fingers.  Know you can exercise with wine bottles if you don’t have weights.  Shout “allergy” after you sneeze to keep from getting those creepy looks.  Let’s lobby for a required, seeable visual on packaging and containers that are NOT recyclable!  And, if you have any insights on stock to buy as behavior changes because of lockup, let us all know.  We missed Tupperware and Crocs.