Pay Attention!

I learned my lesson regarding staying focused while at the airport last week.

I passed through security like a breeze on a warm spring day. I was pre-checked, so I did not have to remove my shoes, IPad, or liquids. The entire practice took a mere five minutes. I headed to my gate where I settled down with my Kindle, and I did not even stop for a bite to eat or a cup of coffee. My flight was on time, so I was happy to know I would arrive at the hospital with plenty of time to see Grandma prior to her surgery.

When I arrived at Newark airport, I boarded the monorail and headed to the car rental agency. Everything was running so smoothly, I thought to myself. I will beat that nasty New Jersey traffic. With only one person in front of me, I reached into my purse for my wallet so I could get my credit card and license.

Oh, no, oh no, oh no!!! Discovering that my license was missing, I could feel my heart beating at warp speed. I felt an awful pit begin to form in my stomach. I left the line and searched my entire purse, and then recalled that I had placed my driver’s license in my pocket along with my cellphone.

I went back to the terminal, where I learned that there are many sources of locating lost objects at an airport: the airline (nope, it had not been found on the plane), the airport lost and found, and TSA lost and found. Since I was uncertain where the loss had occurred, I had to make calls and file reports at both airports. (May I mention that Charlotte airport was much friendlier and accommodating than Newark airport, since Charlotte did not require me to file a report and told me they would email me it they find it?)

This changed the entire flow of the weekend. I now had to depend on Uber, or be at the mercy of drivers. Jamie suggested I could still drive one of the cars available to me by the family, which I immediately rejected. Although I have never received a traffic ticket, and I have only been pulled over once in my life—close to 25 years ago when I was speeding in our newly-purchased minivan. I was not comfortable with this idea.

After speaking with a friend’s son, who is a police officer, I was told that I would probably not receive a ticket. So on four different occasions, this law-abiding grandma drove without a license, prepared to throw myself at the mercy of the law if stopped. I was positive that a beacon of light was pointing toward the car each time I drove, announcing my heinous crime. I was a nervous wreck, but I had my story prepared to explain what I was doing and why.

The roads were dark and the car unfamiliar to me, so I was positive I would be stopped and hauled off to the pokey. Lily would be upset, because she is not a fan of orange, stating to me on many occasions, “I don’t like orange. Orange, boo Clemson.”

Luckily, nothing happened and I happily turned in those car keys and returned home, using my passport which had been mailed to me. My license arrived within three days. I have learned my lesson, which is to pay attention, particularly at the airport!


Crazy for Statistics

Writing a book has made me crazy and obsessive about scrutinizing all my book stats: how many pages have been read today; how many books, if any, have been purchased today; is anyone reading my blog today; are there any new reviews; and what is my current Amazon ranking.

Although I always said that I did not set out to write my book for anyone outside my family, that all changed once I realized that strangers have taken an interest in learning the tale about what happened to my family after they moved to Russia during the 1930’s.

As someone who loves numbers, when I learned about all the statistics available to me, I have been unable to stay away from the charts and rankings. I just can’t help myself. I am able to see, at a moment’s notice, these ever-changing numbers.

I learned this week that rankings are generated in several ways. I can view my overall ranking both in the physical book (#3,348,446) and the Kindle version (227,501 —up 94,854 positions today). I feel happier when I view my rankings with similar books. In the Kindle store, my book is ranked #51 under Historical Russian Biographies, #224 under History of Russia and Former Soviet Republics, and #224 under Historical Russia Biographies. I don’t understand the difference between Historical Russian Biographies and Historical Russia Biographies, but hey, statistically it’s a difference of 173 points.

I know the paperback has been purchased in the UK and Canada, and when I offered free downloads, readers in Australia and Denmark joined my “fans” in the UK, Canada, and the good old USA. I am flattered.

While my sales are not enough to alter my lifestyle, the interest is still more than I ever dreamed. Unfortunately, I have only garnered nine reviews and nine ratings, ranging from 2 stars to 5 stars. I have to admit that I am thrilled to read the reviews, particularly those from strangers.

This has inspired me to go back and write a few more reviews of some of the books I have read.  While I try to, at a minimum, rate a book, I do not always take the time to write a review. But I have realized that it need not be a multi-paragraph review to put a smile on my face, so I assume most writers feel the same. My most recent review was short and sweet, but it was enough to make my day:

Loved this book!!! It’s incredible to think that these things could happen to anyone, let alone American citizens, and there was nowhere for them to get help!

My thanks to “Anonymous.”


I’d Rather Do It Myself

During snack time the other day, I tried to help Lily climb up on the stool so she could watch the popcorn being made. I was immediately rebuked by her. “I’d rather do it myself.” This is not the first time I was pushed away because of her new-found desire for independence.

When I relayed the incident to Dad, we both immediately blurted out the words of an old commercial: “Mother please. I’d rather to it myself!” I don’t recall the product and I suspect he does not either. A search with the assistance of my good old friend Mr. Google gave me the answer.

It was an advertisement for Anacin, and it showed an older woman telling her daughter to add some more salt to whatever she was cooking on the stove. Mamma had walked over to the stove with a shaker of salt in her hand, and after she gave out her little tidbit of advice, her cranky daughter slammed down the lid and told her mother to effectively mind her own business.

“Surely you are tense, but don’t take it out on your mother,” the commercial told us. If only she had taken a few Anacins, she would not have yelled at poor old Mamma. Apparently, within minutes, tension, pain, and irritability would be gone with this miracle drug, which we were told was “like a doctor’s prescription.”

Fortunately, Lily was a lot sweeter when she pushed me away. I guess she did not have an Anacin headache.

Watch it and tell me what you think.

I Still Have the Moves

I was recently happy to discover that I still have not lost my hoola-hooping ability. Remember how we were all so adept at moving out hips in that rhythmic motion which keeps that hoop in motion, and as I recall, Jamie even won a contest at one of Dad’s company picnics when she was quite young.

I found two kid-sized hoops at World Market and purchased them for the kids, neither of whom has yet mastered the art of hooping. They simply love to roll them in the driveway and twirl them on their arms. They don’t care about anything else at this time.

One day I decided to show off my talents to them, and I was shocked to discover that I could not keep it spinning for even ten seconds. How could this be, since this was not a difficult skill? Was this another sign of aging like graying hairs, increased aches and pains, and occasional forgetfulness?

I decided to try an experiment, so I went down to the crawl space and retrieved the adult-sized hoops. Like getting back on a bicycle, I happily learned that it was the size of the hoop and not my aging body that made the difference. I look forward, someday, to a contest between all my children and me to see who is the Queen of Hooping. Are you up for the challenge?

You Should Have Asked

Being a parent is very difficult, and reflecting on my many years as a mother, I am seeing mistakes I made, lessons forgotten, and activities omitted. How often do any of you think, “why didn’t we ever do that,” or “I wish we had done…?”

We went on a lot of trips, so I don’t believe regrets regarding travel would be on the list, but did you ever wish we had taken you camping or hiking? I thought about this today when Kelly mentioned the family challenge is to take the kids on fifteen hikes this year in addition to considering a camping trip out West.

I believe you all know that although Dad’s family had a camper which they used on their summer vacations, I would not ever consider taking our family camping. Dad just loves telling the story about how I considered our stay at the Yellowstone Lake Lodge as camping because we had paper bath mats and limited water pressure in the bathroom. It’s just not my thing.

As a little girl, my dad took me on hikes at the local county park, where we went off-trail to hike to the top of the mountain. He taught me to mark our path by periodically bending branches so if we got lost, we could find our way back to the trail, but we never went camping.

I do not feel as if I should include sleeping under the stars as part of my bucket list, but I don’t have as strong an aversion to hikes (although on a recent trek through the woods I spotted a snake on the paved path, so maybe I should take that back).

So the question I have is: Do you feel you missed out on a wonderful family activity because we did not go camping or hiking in the woods? In my defense, I don’t recall any of you ever asking.

Another New Year’s Eve

The older I get, the less interested I am in getting all gussied up to go out somewhere to ring in the New Year. Fortunately, Dad shares my lackluster enthusiasm with this particular day, so we devised a plan for a mini celebration at home—just the two of us.

Today we headed to Fresh Market to buy something for dinner. After sampling a yummy cup of chocolate coffee, we began to walk aimlessly around the store because we had no plan. We started in the produce aisle with the curly zucchini and butternut squash and then headed next to the butcher counter with steaks, sausage which looked like a sad puppy dog, and concluded our tour at the counter with quinoa salad, mini meatloaves, and stuffed cabbage. Sadly, nothing jumped out and said New Year’s Eve, so we moved on.

Next we headed to Kroger, where I was positive we would find some sort of food which would say “come here, Mama,” but again, neither of us was feeling a pull toward anything at the Kroger butcher. Would we have to make a journey to Trader Joe’s tomorrow?

“Let’s try one more place,” I told Dad with a sense of hope in my voice, so we headed to good old Publix. I am happy to report that we are not going to Trader Joe’s tomorrow. We are having stuffed flank steak (stuffed with spinach and cheese), whipped sweet potatoes, homemade applesauce, and a broccoli, cauliflower, and sunflower seed salad.

Perhaps I can even get Dad to have a glass of wine. May I add that once you have gone to New Year’s Eve in Times Square, you can check this day off your “to-do list.”

Happy 2019 Everyone!

Almost Done

The Christmas tree is up, my ceramic tree, Santas, snowmen, angels, and nativity set are scattered throughout the house.  The stockings are hung by the fireplace with care.

The outside lights have been shining brightly for more than a week, albeit less than previous years. I just could not decorate the porch with the garland lights in time to beat the rain and cold weather.

This morning I completed my Christmas cards and placed them in the mail slot at the post office, but I sent out much less than when we were first married and a stamp cost just fifteen cents. I did not even know until today that there had been an increase to fifty cents this year. I had been unaware because I had only purchased postcard stamps in 2018, which was to support some of my favorite candidates.

The presents have been purchased (except for one certain birthday gift) but not yet wrapped. The cookies have not been baked because we are waiting until the weekend to complete that task with the kiddies.

My first book, Do Svidanya Dad has had a facelift and given a new name: Trapped in Russia. I think the new title is not as confusing as the old because I feel that not all readers have a clue about the meaning of do svidanya.

My final accomplishment has been to publish a selection of my favorite stories from this blog—152 of the now 415 postings I have written since its inception 3 ½ years ago.

They can all be read here on your computer, or you can purchase a paperback or Kindle version (free for my Amazon Prime readers).

And as my Russian grandmother would say, “Happy Happy!”