Thursday, June 30, 2022

Ever Changing Labels

 I've been thinking again.  I know, scary, eh?

I've been thinking about labels and how they came about and how they've changed over the years.

When I first started working as a Sign Language interpreter the category was called "Hearing Impaired."  

I never thought a thing about it.  We shortened it all the time as HI.

Thankfully many years later the Deaf community stepped up (because someone finally asked them, probably) and made it known that they were either Deaf or Hard of Hearing.  

Thinking about that time led me to wonder of who comes up with these labels?  That HI category I can tell you definitely came from hearing people.  They also redefined the TTY (telephone for the Deaf) which is easy to read on someone's lips to TDD which is impossible to read. They also made a play for ASL, trying to bastardize the language into something that they  thought was better - Signed Exact English.  Yuck!

I could go on and on and on but let's keep going.

Native American, Native, Indian.  I don't know many people in that group but when I asked a friend of mine which he preferred he said "Indian."  He would also tell you, readily, which tribe he was from.

African American vs Black.  I hear both identities used all the time.  

I'm old so I go back to a time when "negro" and "colored" were used and worse.  I remember when people started using Black, I wasn't sure if that was ok or not.

Asian, Asian American, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, etc.  It gets confusing.  I just finished a long back and forth text with my nieces who were both born in China.

"Asia" covers a lot of territory.  For some people using that label is fine and then if asked, further definition (usually by other Asians, my niece Sara says) is made. My niece Emma said she's ok with Asian or Chinese but doesn't care for Asian American.

My friend Jim Koseki, as a proud veteran of the US military, defines himself as Japanese American.

Hispanic covers a lot of territory too,  just like Asian.  I chatted with my neighbor, Gasper, yesterday.  He's second generation Mexican.  Until just this minute, I forgot about Latin/Latino so now I'll throw that into the mix.  It seems like those broad titles kind of robs a person of their proud heritage. I also wondered why people from Mexico speak "Spanish."  

Germans speak German.  Thai people speak Thai, etc.  Why do Mexicans speak Spanish?  Seems like another way of robbing them of their heritage.

Getting back to Gasper - he says he's Mexican. No fancy titles.

So, just to "stir the pot" a bit - all of the labels mentioned above belong to people of color. Except the Deaf people who blend in until they start signing.  Then they stand out a bit.

My husband, Peter, is Sicilian.  He's 100% Sicilian and proud of it.  He'll also answer to "Italian" but will eventually let you know about the difference.

I'm a white older lady.  You can't tell by looking at me that I'm half Scottish and half German.  It rarely comes up in conversation unless I'm at a Celtic festival like I was last weekend or an October fest in the fall.

So where am I going with this?  What am I trying to say?

People are proud of their heritage and their family history.  They shouldn't feel pushed into a category if they don't want to be pushed though. They shouldn't be marginalized or chastised but we don't have the greatest track record for that in this country - as do many other countries in this world.

So where am I going?  I don't know. 

Just sittin' here in The Red House - thinking. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Diplomacy in the salon

 First off, when I say "salon" I'm referring to what we used to call the "beauty parlor."

It sounds weird now when I hear myself say it out loud but salon sounds a bit pretentious.  I think it's my age.  Old habits, ya know.

Anyway, I've thought a lot about the stylists (hair dressers - another oldie name tag) and how they handle their clients.

Back up a minute for a little history.  When I moved back to Michigan in 1978 I had to find someone to cut my hair.  I was extremely fortunate right at the get-go although, for the life of me, I can't remember her name.  I can see her face but no name is coming to me.

She was wonderful and then got married and started having babies.

Then I found Irene Gates.  She was great and then decided to leave the profession and put more time into her art.  She's a wonderful artist.  Check her out on FB.

I think I experimented a bit before I found Sue Cole in downtown Allegan.  I even followed her when she switched locations.

She retired/changed things up a bit but I stayed in her chair and the lady, Michelle Rutledge, next to that chair moved over and I've been with her ever since.  Even followed her to her new location.

Hey, ya find someone you trust and also like a lot, you follow.

You also keep coming back.  Now that we live in Holland I've changed doctors but not "stylists."  Back to Allegan monthly.

Now, back to the title of this blog.  

I remember being told by "someone" (I won't name names) that often times when customers bring in a picture of a hairstyle, what they really want is to look like the super model in the picture.  Not so much the hairstyle.  

How do they handle that situation? How do they find the words to say "honey, that ain't never gonna happen?"  

When they've had a longtime customer sporting the same style for decades, do they kindly suggest something new?  Like from this century or wait to be asked?

What about color?  "As we age" (don't you hate that expression) dark colors are not as flattering as they were when we were 21. 

Another sticky situation.  Suggest something softer or take the big leap and mention returning to the natural color - even if it's white???  Egad!

Do stylists critique every head that walks by?  I know they do because someone I trust and love told me so.

I remember a handful of years ago I was complaining to Michelle about the back of my hair doing some kinda flippy thing and she said "Ellen, you know you have a lot of natural wave in your hair.  What do you think about embracing it?"

Remember how I said I trust her?  Well, we moved on to a new frontier and I haven't looked back.  

I don't know if I could be as diplomatic as most stylists are.  I know I couldn't.  I'd feel it would be my civic duty to talk that woman out of her beehive (look it up if you're so young you've never see that word before) or convince the fellow in my chair that mullets ARE OVER!

Stylists have your best interests at heart.  They know hair.  Don't be afraid to say "Hey, I want to change things up a bit.  What do you suggest?"

See you next week, Michelle!

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Three Little Words

 If you're 65 years old or older, you will easily relate to this blog.
If you're under that ripe old age, it could serve as a heads up.

So with Medicare you get one free general exam per year (listen to your lungs, take your BP, etc) - nothing really in depth.

A blood screening will be ordered for the usual and that's pretty much it.

Not so quick there buster.  Here come the questions.

Have you fallen in the last several weeks?

Do you find sorting your meds difficult?

And many more little reminders of just how old you are now.

They're livable.

Then . . . come the three words that you have to repeat and will be asked later in the question and answer period to repeat them again.

I flunked this phase of "fun" the first time it happened.  Sure wish I'd had a heads up.  That's why I'm here today helping you young 'uns out.

I went in with a strategy this time.  All prepped and ready to go.

I heard the words and created a picture in the air of each one and gave them all the same color.

I kept looking at that "picture" and repeating the words (in my head; I didn't want to appear crazy) and passed with flying colors.


Don't ask me what the words were.  Yes, I still know them but just in case they're used in all the doctors' offices all over the country you're going to have to work out your own strategy.

I'm a nice older lady but not that nice.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Breaking utensil tradition

 I'm pretty good at knowing which utensil to use and where to place it on the table.  

Let us not forget that I had a whole year (well, really just 9 months) at Stephens College in Columbia, MO.

I have gotten a little loose gear since those days but I graduated from paper napkins to cloth napkins a while back so whatever I lost in the foo-foo table setting, I made up for with those coolio napkins.

So back to utensil choices.

Petey and I eat and enjoy salads.  Sometimes they're sitting along side the dinner plate and sometimes they're in a big bowl because they're the main dish.

As enjoyable as they are I find myself frustrated when the ingredients fall off my fork.  It's not too bad if they land back into the bowl or on the table but often times I find croutons in my lap or on the floor.


What's easier - scooping salad up with your fork or stabbing every last bit with your fork?  Some things don't pierce well.

For a while now after a fair amount of grumbling while picking items off the floor/lap I've mentioned to Petey that I should probably use a spoon for salad consumption.

The soup spoon - not that other little thing.

Well, I gave it a go the other night and . . . score!

It was the big salad with all kinds of goodies in it and I enjoyed every last soup spoonful. 

I turned to Amazon to check out the sporks.

Nope.  Not gonna do that.  They looked too much like an elementary school cafeteria.

I'll stick with my big girl spoon and try to look like that 
"Stephens Susie" from the 60s.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

I appreciate the differences

 I loved our Allegan house.  It had history and character.  I appreciated its age and personality.

When we decided to move we knew our new house would be very, very different and it is.  Boy, howdy, is it.

My "I love this about my new house list" is in no way to mean that I didn't like the fact that the features on the list weren't in Allegan and that's why we left.  No.  We left because it was time.

We have light!  I mean direct light.  That light comes flying through all our windows (at different times of the day, of course) because we don't have big trees around our house.  I miss those old giants but I'm in love with the sunshine.

No stairs here at the Red House.  No more dragging the vacuum up and down steps.  

Two bathrooms!!!  OMG!

An attached garage.  Every single time we drive down our street and hit the opener and watch the door go up, we smile.  Don't have to dash through the rain anymore.

There's this new machine that washes your dishes.  Have you heard of it?  It does a really nice job too.  I thought with just the two of us I wouldn't use it very often.  Turns out . . . not.  I love it.  

Oh and the biggy - CLOSETS! With lights inside!!!!!


We're only 22 miles from that old house and, yes, I drive by it every time I come into town for my monthly haircut.

I'm so happy that the young couple in it appreciate her.  

Monday, January 3, 2022

Let's Talk "Nap"

 So there's a wide range when it comes to naps.  They start almost right out of the shoot, don't they?  Your mom is counting on you napping as an infant so she can get something done during the day - like washing the dishes, preparing dinner or . . . taking a nap herself.  I remember someone telling me "when he naps, you nap."  Sage advice.

Remember "nap time" in kindergarten?  We all had our little rugs and caught a few winks during the half day session.  Jeez, we were only there for half a day and we needed a nap?

Or did the teacher need a mental health break?

When we visited our grandparents we always took an afternoon nap with them.  Wonder how old they were at the time?  I know they were retired so maybe late 60s?

I love naps.  Most of my naps (since retirement) are not so much out of necessity but just simply because I can.  

I can go anywhere from a quick "cat nap" to what I call "the coma nap."  The one where you can feel yourself trying to wake up but can not.  My eyelids feel like they are glued shut and try as I might, I can't open up those peepers.

What is up with that?

I've also had extremely realistic dreams while napping.  I remember once I could have sworn Peter was standing right next to me, bending down to see if I was really asleep.  I could feel his breath on my cheek.  When I finally woke up he wasn't even in the house!

Have you ever taken a car nap?  They're outstanding.  I've taken them at the lakeshore, in a busy downtown parking lot and in my own driveway. They are particularly special in the spring when it's still too chilly to sit outside but in the car with the windows rolled up and the sun shining in? - boy howdy!

Timing can be crucial.  Too early in the day and you might need a second which just makes you lazy.  Too late in the afternoon is really going to mess up the good night's sleep you have planned.


Where do you stand?


Monday, December 27, 2021

The Holidays of 2021

 So on the whole the holidays of '21 were way better than '20.

Definitely more open with a huge dose of holly and jolly.

Thanksgiving has never been a biggie for me.  That's a good thing because this year was a bit of a struggle.  I waited too long to make a reservation at a lovely restaurant downtown so we ended up putting steaks on the grill.  There was pie involved too so that softened the blow.

Christmas Eve was spent at our favorite local joint, Hops 84 East.  Never a disappointment.  I took some of my bracelets along and gave two away to people sitting near us and one to our server.  Feeling all Mrs.Clausey.

Christmas morning started off with a Wifi issue which meant we were both on the floor in front of the modem and wifi thing stretching and reaching along with several other contortions.  That was followed by a really painful lower back which had me walking around like that grumpy witch in Hansel and Gretel.  Nothing that a handful of Ibuprofen couldn't take care of.

Then we were off to our second family, The Dutkiewiczes.  They have been kind to us over the years.  Taking pity on us poor lonely old orphans.  The meal and all the goodies before and after were out of this world.  Jeremy and Gerah along with Niko and Kyra really put on the feed bag.  And we ate and laughed a lot.

As we sat down I could feel an ocular migraine coming on.  Oh, poop!  Fortunately it wasn't the usual.  More of a light weight one so I just ignored it and kept the fork moving.

Then as we were nearing the end of that scrumptious meal one of my crowns decided it had had enough and left my mouth.  So happy I didn't swallow it.  My new dentist is hopefully going to work his magic this afternoon and my tooth will return to the living shortly.

We don't have any specific plans for NYE.  We'll probably go back to our favorite restaurant for dinner and be home and in our jammies by 9 - at the latest - and hit the hay around 11p.  We haven't actually seen any kind of ball drop in more years than I can count.

I can't say I'm sorry to see 2021 go because we got a lot accomplished during the year.  When I say "we" I mean Petey who painted the bedroom and bath among other jobs around the house that I probably didn't help with either.  We finally got to hear and see quite a bit of live music and eat in some great restaurants.  We also saw friends and family that we had been missing.

So I hope that 2022 is good to us all and normal living will take shape in the not too distant future.

Stay well.  Stay safe and happy, happy 2022!!!