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Naturally Nancy

For those of you who enjoy my take on the world, I thank you for sticking with my thoughts and observations over the years. One thing I’ve mentioned more than once is the issues I often have with food and eating well.  After being invited by an online Farmers Market called Backyard Produce to do some blogging for them in exchange for trying out their food delivery service,  I invite you to take a look at my new blog, Naturally Nancy, hosted on this site at https://nancywriteon2.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/fresh-and-delivered/.backyard.produce

I’ll be writing about healthy eating, recipes, and anything even remotely related that strikes my fancy.

I hope you’ll stop by and take a look – if you like what you see, feel free to leave a comment and sign up for more!

Thank you for sticking with me!

Nancy

In Search of Middle Ground

Head in HandsI’m aware that I’m lacking patience, particularly recently. There are things that I used to let slide, or maybe even laugh at, that I just don’t want to put up with anymore. Our lives are filled with lots of things that are annoying and frustrating, and most of them don’t need to be. I know we’re supposed to learn not to sweat the little things, but when things that used to be enjoyable now become nerve-wracking, I find myself biting my tongue so that my true feelings don’t come spewing out.

So, I did some walking in the mall this weekend, and stopped in at what used to be my favorite lotion and hands.1potion store, thinking I might buy some hand cream. I used to love shopping there, before they remodeled and turn it into some kind of harsh, futuristic nightmare. There is nothing even remotely relaxing about shopping there these days. It used to be enjoyable, stopping and checking all the soaps, gels, and creams and trying all the samples until I either smelled like a fruit orchard or a bakery – either way, delicious. But now, everything is very white and sterile-looking and not fun-cluttered, just difficult to navigate.

But stepping through the open portal into that glaring world was just the beginning. Within the span of approximately one minute, I was approached sequentially by four overly cheerful salespeople, asking what they could help me find. I told them, one by one that I was just browsing. For some reason, that stumped them. I guess browsing is no longer encouraged. In fact, it seemed to be frowned upon. How could I possibly not have a purpose upon entering this store?

One girl couldn’t let it go. She pulled out a sample of one of the creams I had just checked out.

“How about this one?” she asked. “Here, it’s my favorite. Why don’t you try it?”

Why do salespeople think that if it’s their favorite it must be my favorite? Is the ringing endorsement of a girl younger than my children really going to influence my decision? But I tried to be nice.

“Oh, thanks. I checked that one out already, and I’m still trying to decide,” I told her as fake-nicely as I could.

puppies.playingBut she followed me, like a playful puppy. I do love puppies. I didn’t love this girl, however. She didn’t know how to take a hint. “Well, what do you like?” she asked.

And so began the tongue-biting. There were a lot of things I felt like saying. But I just told her I was still in the midst of the decision process, and I turned around to check out the samples again. I guess she got tired of looking at my back, so she moved on to more welcoming customers. Now please understand. I have worked in retail. I have had to approach people and offer services the store provided. And 99.9% of the time, I got a palm held up two inches from my face. So I have empathy for those who have been instructed to do the same. But in a tiny store, they should not have every person on the sales floor going up to every customer who comes in and persistently insist that they can help them find what they need.

I was approached by another salesperson. “So, have you decided what you like, or can you use some help?”

I don’t know if these people now work on commission or they’re just instructed to be as annoying as possible. But I promise, I was not feeling happy or relaxed at this point. I let my teeth show in an approximation of a smile.

“I’m fine, thank you,” I replied through said teeth.

“OK, just let us know if you need anything,” she said cheerily.

beach.blogAnd so it went with the other two salespeople. Finally, I found a beachy-type of scent that I liked and I went to stand on line. The salesgirl carrying around the samples obviously misinterpreted this as a signal that she could once again approach me. I tried to avoid eye contact, but she barreled over, anyway. “So, you found something you like?” she asked, smiling approvingly at the tube in my hand.

I nodded. “I did. Thank you,” I said, attempting to match her enthusiasm. The fact that I was holding an item I was planning to buy seemed to be code for letting her know her job with me was done, and she walked away. Like magic. I tucked that nugget of information into a deep corner of my brain for future use, as if I might actually remember it.

But then I thought about the choice I had made. Maybe I liked the cherry scent better. Or the citrusy OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAone. Or even the tropical one. So I left the line for a moment to make sure I had chosen wisely. I thought about switching, since I really did like the cherry one. As I picked the sample up in order to try it, I turned around. In the few seconds since I had abandoned my place in line, there were now at least 15 people who had taken my place. Pretty much like everything else in my life. You snooze, you lose.

I knew then what I had to do. I put the hand cream down, turned around and left the store. In my mind, the salespeople were waving me back, assuring me they could help me. That they had all the answers.  While it’s nice to not be ignored, it is not nice to be bombarded by both sensory input and overly eager salespeople who make it impossible to enjoy the experience of just browsing.

maze.blogThere are some stores where you could jump on the tables and do a song and dance while stripping off your clothes, and still, no one would bother to ask if you needed help. I do appreciate a little attention. I appreciate being asked – one time – if I need help, and if I say no thank you, just let me know you’re available if I change my mind. But walking through a crowded, shiny maze while being jumped at by multiple people who won’t leave you alone is like navigating a nightmarish video game.

Boing boing boing – no, thank you. Really, I mean it. Have a nice day.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

9-1-1

This is a poem I wrote in September of 2001 as a response to the attacks on our country. Never forget. september-11-2001-1

 

On the last day of life as we knew it
Madness rained down from the sky
Horror took over our lives
The heavens let out a great cry

Mountains of glass and of metal
Once towered so proudly, so grand
Watching over a glorious city
Monuments to our great land

In one moment of terrible evil
The earth shattered, blow after blow
Now a skeleton teeters above
The abyss gapes madly below

Paeans to hope and to dreams
Lie mangled and so cruelly lost
Shrouded in blankets of ashes and dust
At such an unthinkable cost

Our hearts are burning and tortured
Our souls fill with torment and pain
The ache is so vast and unyielding
A kingdom where anguish now reigns

Life upon life upon life now gone
So suddenly, cruelly no more
We cry out in anger in fear and in rage
Our beings shake to the core

Our tears flow freely in torrents
Transform into rivers of pain
Wash over our land in the knowledge
That what was will never be again

But we see the heroes among us
Who emerge from the darkness so bleak
They light the way to find healing
And deliver the pride that we seek

For we are the steel
Though twisted and bent
And smoldering in the ruins
Our wills are of iron
Our souls filled with pain
No bandage can cover the wounds

But breath shall once again lift us
Like the Phoenix, we too shall rise
As we grasp onto our precious memories
Of our dear ones and silent goodbyes

Let our spirits lift up now in chorus
Let our voices reach to the heavens above
Let us be one nation united
Instead of breaking, we will heal now through love



Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

The New Normal

rose I lost my mom last week. I write these words knowing this is true, but finding it to be unbearably impossible to believe them. My mom was full of life, active, followed a healthy lifestyle, and up until about two months ago, losing her wasn’t even on our radar. Unfortunately, by the time we all realized she was sick, it turned out that it was already too late. But up until a day or two before we lost her, I still believed she could rally, fight it, and stay with us for at least a few more months.

This new normal means that I am a motherless child. There is no one to be my unwavering cheerleader. Or my no-nonsense critic. Mom had high standards, and the way to earn praise was to live up to them. As I said in my eulogy:

She was proud of all of our achievements, but you had to earn that pride. And that was fine, because it made us want to excel and be the best, for her. Because we knew when she told us she was proud of us, it wasn’t empty words. She meant it. And we had earned it.

My mom taught my sister and me about charity and compassion and honesty and living a righteous life. Although in years, she might be considered old, no one who knew her would describe her that way. She not only danced, exercised every day, and was the first to help others, but she audited college classes and continued going to see shows, always enjoying her trips into Manhattan.

My mom gave me a love of literature, culture, and reading. Conversations revolved around world events, the theater, and interesting things in the news that we could share with each other.

Her illness came upon her so suddenly and with such ferocity, that none of us was prepared for this. Not that you can prepare for losing your mom. There will never be anyone else who knows you the way she does, who would lay down her life for you, or who will stand by your side even when you push her away.

Nothing can prepare you for having to choose your mom’s coffin. Or to speak at her funeral. Or to hear the thud of the shovels dropping dirt on her casket at the cemetery as you say your last goodbye.

I am aware that we were lucky to have our mom with us for as long as we did. So many of my friends lost their moms years ago. And I’ve been asking them how you find your way in this surreal new existence. But everyone has their own path to travel, and there is no road map for this journey.

But as one of my friends said, losing your mom is primal. The hole in my heart is always going to be there. The desire to pick up the phone and call her to tell her of something funny, or something that would make her proud isn’t going to go away. The hope of getting some kind of sign from her that she’s doing OK now is overwhelming.

As you might have noticed, I still can’t bring myself to say the “D” word. In some ways, I’m still stuck in the hospital a few weeks ago, with the nurses trying to tell me the reality that I wasn’t ready to hear. I’m still not ready to hear it. But I’m grateful I got to see my mom and tell her how much I love her. And have her tell me the same. I just wish she could tell me how I’m supposed to go on in this strange, new normal.

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

You’re Right, I’m Wrong

picasso-coloring-pages-6So, back in April I wrote about the mess with our cable company insisting that we all get boxes on every TV we own so that we can continue to have the privilege of paying a small fortune in order to watch our TVs. For a few weeks after finally getting said boxes all working, things seemed fine except for the fact that the images frequently looked like works by Picasso or Seurat. Faces and bodies were not necessarily attached to each other, or they just became a giant collection of dots. I’ve been told this is called “tiling.” Whatever it’s called, it gave me a migraine.

But soon, things went from bad to worse. Every few days, the cable would just go out completely. Usually right in the middle of something I actually cared about watching. Like what ingredient to add to my stir-fry after the asparagus.

Initially, it would go out for a few minutes, and then come back on. Annoying, yes. But screamingTelephone-coloring-page on the phone annoying, not quite yet. That came shortly after, when not only would the cable go out on a daily basis, but it would disappear multiple times a day, for at least an hour each time. I started calling the cable company at the start of each occurrence in the pathetic hope that I might actually get this problem fixed in a timely manner, plus maybe even receive some kind of monetary compensation for my time and trouble. One can dream.

 

tool.kitAlmost every conversation with the cable company’s reps would begin with me being told that this was only a problem in my house and had no relation to the fact that we had been required to hook those stupid boxes up to all the TVs just a few months earlier. (I had the temerity to try to get the reps to make that connection, since there had never been such problems prior to the boxes. But of course, they insisted that one had nothing to do with the other. My bad.) They told me I had to schedule an appointment for a repair person to come to my house. In the beginning, I made the appointments – which were always scheduled 2 or 3 days after my phone call – and would end up cancelling after the cable came back on. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed wasting my time in this manner multiple times per day. Plus, when I would call back later that day when the next outage occurred, there would be a recording telling me it was an “area-wide outage,” so what would be the point of having a tech come out to my house when the problem was not at my house? I’m sure you can follow my reasoning here. But very few of the reps could.

 

earAnyway, after several weeks of this nonsense, I was no longer able to stifle my shrieks when I called and insisted on talking to a supervisor, because I was not going to explain what was going on for the thousandth time to a rep who had no power to do anything and who would insist that I needed a repair person. So I got a supervisor who actually sounded like he was listening to me. “I hear you,” was said multiple times in a reassuring voice. “I’ll look into it and get back to you first thing tomorrow.” Uh huh.  I wonder if he heard me yelling at his supervisor two days later when the promised phone call never came.

 

So, in a world of few choices, I thought about switching cable companies, but didn’t hear great blonde-girl-is-laughing-coloring-pagethings about the options that were actually available. And eventually, things got better. Until today. I was preparing dinner, enjoying a rerun of one of my favorite shows that still has the ability to make me laugh – and I promise you, these days I am in desperate need of laughs – when at my favorite part, suddenly all went dark. No, I thought, not again. But yes, it was again. So I called. And got a self-righteous young rep who obviously knew everything and, in spite of my explanation of all that had come before, insisted that I needed to have a repair person come to my home.

 

“Did you not hear me?” I asked, gritting my teeth. “I’m sure it’s area-wide, even though you don’t know it yet, because most likely all my neighbors are so sick of talking to you people that no one is picking up the phone to call anymore.”

The know-it-all voice came back at me. “Mrs. Rechtman, we can’t help you unless you let us have a repairman come out to your house. It could just be your house that’s causing this problem.”

WHAT?

“Uh, no, in all the prior conversations, it’s been area-wide, which you people would eventually figure outBatman-Coloring-Pages-Picture-28 hours later, and they had to have lots and lots of busy little bees working in some hidden Bat Cave to get everyone’s cable back. My house is just collateral damage, not patient zero.”

 

I could hear the annoyance in her voice. Because of course, she, like all the reps, knows so much more than I do. She repeated, talking over me, “Mrs. Rechtman, we cannot help you…”

 

televisor-sony-trinitron-29-111_big“Whoops, the TV’s back on, never mind. Just make sure you put this outage on my account so I can try to get some money back from you greedy bas…”

“Mrs. Rechtman, would you hang on so you can take the survey for the service you received from me today?”

 

I try not to curse. I’ve learned to bite my tongue so unpleasant words don’t come tumbling out of my mouth, even when so well-deserved. No matter how much I wanted to tell her that in no way, shape or form, did she want me answering that phone survey. So I did what I could to stick to my principles. I pretended I didn’t hear her. In my cheeriest voice, now talking over her,  I said, “Thanks so much for your help. Bye!” Disconnect – on so many levels.

Remind me to share my stories about switching trash companies next time. There’s always someone who knows so much more than I do. You, too? Yes, I hear you.

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

 

Welcome to the 50s

Numbers-Birthday-Cakes-50I did not sign up for this. Or, at least I think I didn’t sign up for this. Considering the state of my memory these days, I really can’t swear to anything I may or may not have done. But I’m talking about life as a person well into her 50s. Not that I was delusional about what life would be like passing the mid-century mark. I knew that most likely my eyesight would go from perfect to near-perfect. That I might gain a pound or two. And that I might have to rely on color in a bottle when it comes to keeping a few stray grey hairs out of my hairline. When I hit the dreaded 5-0, I think I was more upset about having to admit that I could possibly be that age, than what was actually about to happen to me in every aspect of my life.

The eyesight actually started fading away in my late 40s. Considering I had always had perfect eyeglassesvision, I stayed in denial for as long was humanly possible. I was slightly far-sighted to start with. Soon, there was no chance of holding reading matter far enough away from my face to actually make out the letters. Although, I can read street signs in the next city – it’s kind of my hidden superhero talent. These days, denial resides in what strength reading glasses I buy. When it finally becomes obvious that I don’t even realize there are words on a page, I finally cave and go up to the next level. Although I continue to hold onto the weaker glasses, in the hope that, at some point, things will magically shift into reverse and I’ll actually be able to see again.

Laundry_symbols_with_japaneseBut the world conspires against me as well. Lately, in the form of trying to read laundry labels. There are the clothing manufacturers that must have people of a certain age working there, since they have crisp black labels with glaring white print in a readable font that anyone should be able to decipher. But lately, there are the clothing companies that I can only presume to be run by sadists in their 20s with perfect vision. The color of the label is a very pale grey – very classy. The print – for I presume there is print – is the softest wisp of white – in a size which surely must be microscopic, and a font with so many loops and so little substance that they might as well have not included a label at all. So after I attempt for at least five minutes to catch a hint of a word that might be helpful, such as hang, line, warm, will disintegrate… I do what I always do and fling that garment into the washer on a delicate cycle and, if there’s room left on the clothing rack, I lay it there once it’s clean. If not, into the dryer it goes, on a wing and a prayer. Surprisingly, most of my clothes actually survive this process.

I know I’ve discussed the morphing of my body into the Pillsbury Dough Boy numerous times, butmirror I still can’t stop shrieking every time I look in the mirror. I am not this person. At least, I was not this person until a little over 10 years ago. That was the first surgery that started the ball rolling. But it still wasn’t horrifying. There was still hope. Then, 5 years ago came the next surgery. The one that spun me out of my comfortable little bubble of denial into hell. Men, you can stop reading here, because we all know that all you have to do is close your eyes and say, “I wish to lose 10 pounds – in my stomach.” And, when you wake up in the morning, poof! Your body is exactly as you wished. This, menstruation, childbirth, and menopause are all the proof I need that G-d is a man.

chemistry.flask

 

I’ve been somewhat luckier with the hair. The miracle of chemistry has made it possible for me to continue to have some semblance of my actual hair color with just a mere shampoo and a quarter-sized dollop of something resembling shoe polish. So no matter how old I actually get, my hair promises not to give me away. This is the only time in my life I have truly believed in better living through chemistry.

 

Aches, pains, and invisibility have all arrived full force in this decade of my life. The latest indignity is grasping scissorsfrantically through the caverns of my mind to find words that have begun to elude me. I can be about to ask my children to hand me the scissors, and the best I can come up with is to ask for “those things that you cut with.” After my children are done rolling on the floor, laughing at me, I am grateful that I still remember the function of said scissors and the fact that someone actually handed them to me.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am also grateful to find myself mobile and intact and still here each morning when I open my eyes to the possibilities of the day ahead of me. And so, in spite of wondering how my life’s journey has brought me to this age in what seems like nanoseconds sometimes, I make sure I thank G-d (male or female) for giving me one more day. Whether I can see it or not.

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

Should I Spell It Out for You?

laptop.2Anyone who knows me knows that there is one thing that is guaranteed to make me crazy. (OK, there are lots of things, but this issue, in particular, is sure to get an immediate hair-tearing response.) That would be spelling/grammatical errors, whether on TV, in emails from magazines, newspapers, etc., or online posts from large media outlets. In this day and age of people assuming (you all do know what happens when you ASS U ME, I hope) that all they need is some form of Spell Check to make everything right, let me assure you that proofreaders/copy editors should not be optional employees.

The moment I see a post with the wrong word or a misspelling used in the header, I immediately newspaper3disregard that post and go on to the next one – unless, of course, it’s really juicy. When I read a newspaper (yes, I still do read the paper on occasion), and find multiple spelling errors throughout that paper, I groan and find it difficult to concentrate on what I’m reading. Once again, I’m talking about professional posts that are going out to thousands of people, being written by (presumably) paid employees of that business. Yes, errors by individuals sending private emails or posting something online also bug me, but I can let those go because they are not being paid to get information out to the public. I just grind my teeth and force myself to let it go. Let it go…

dinosaurAnyway, I don’t know if it’s a sign of the times that in this day and age of instant information, fewer and fewer people find it necessary to take the time to make sure that what they’re putting out there is error-free. No one seems to care anymore. I don’t think that this is necessarily a generational issue either. I know plenty of people who are not dinosaurs who are deeply irked when they see this kind of sloppy writing.

 

So, for your amusement and possible enlightenment, here are some recent examples of emails and posts I’ve seen that have caused the aforementioned hair-tearing. I didn’t note all of the sources,  but believe me, they are all real.

bulldog-puppy-catching-a-ball-coloring-page-300x376

 

1. WARNING: These rescue dog transformations are going to make you ball your eyes out!

My question: Is someone going to be flinging balls at our eyes?

 

 

 

2. Exiting Offers for the Weekend – 40% Off

Presumably, these offers are already out the door, so don’t bother going.

 

3. The Washington Post Wednesday, March 12, 2014 2:00:23 PM  arizona.map
News Alert
Controversial Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer won’d seek third term

Come on, Washington Post, really? Not one second to check your header before you send a mass e-mail out?

 

4. Is Your Conscious Clear?

Uh, I think so?

 

5. And now, a few choice from Cameron Diaz words on Gwyneth’s divorce

Not that I really care about anyone’s conscious uncoupling, but I have two issues with this header. The first, more obvious issue is that the sentence is complete gibberish. The second, is that the reader might assume (!) that Cameron Diaz is going to say something snarky about Gwynnie by the way the sentence is almost worded, but in fact, she defends her in the paragraph that I had no interest in reading.

 

6. From Entertainment Tonight:
tv.set

Meanwhile, Jay Leno, 63, announced his last guests before he turns over The Tonight Show. On Feb. 3, his predecessor Fallon will appear on the show, but on his final night, Feb. 6, Billy Crystal, who was Leno’s first guest in May 1992 when he succeeded Johnny Carson, will appear on the program along with country singer Garth Brooks, The Associated Press reports.

Did I miss something in 1992?

 

So yes, we laugh, but it’s also kind of sad that the rush to inform trumps accuracy and pride in the finished product. Good writing should not be optional when something is going out to the world. That being said, I feel compelled to reveal that I do have one particular word that I believe should have its spelling changed as soon as possible. If there is some committee to contact for this issue, please let me know.

My  nominee is the word judgment. Seriously, what the heck happened to the ‘e’ there? When I was in college, I had to write a paper about the Social Judgment Theory. Up until that assignment, I had never paid attention to the word judgment and its lack of an ‘e’ where one would assume (!) an ‘e’ would be. So when I was busily researching this theory in the university library, imagine my shock when every book I picked up was missing that crucial ‘e.’ The spelling of this word makes no sense at all. And yes, there are many other words in the English language that have spellings that are absurd, but this one has irked me throughout the years. Way past the time that I can remember anything about the Social Judgment Theory, the only thing that remains is my deep belief that the so-called correct spelling of the word judgment is just plain wrong.

quill__scroll_2_rhyvvHow did this happen? You have the word judge. Why would you drop the ‘e’ at the end?I have a theory. I can picture the first dictionary scribe painstakingly writing out the words in the very first dictionary. He gets to the word judgment, which he knows should have been spelled judgement. He carefully writes the first few letters: j…u…d…g… He is about to put the ‘e’ in and accidentally knocks over his drinking vessel filled with grog. He quickly swipes away the liquid so it doesn’t smear all of his hard work  away. He sighs with relief, and in his agitated state, he continues writing: m…e…n…t.  No one notices at first, and several months go by until one day, the Master of the Dictionary happens upon the word by chance. He calls the dictionary scribe in for interrogation.

“Can you explain why in the world you would have written the word ‘judgment’ without the first ‘e’ since there is no proper way to pronounce it the way it is written?” the dictionary master demands.

The dictionary scribe quakes in his boots. He frantically searches his mind for a response that won’t result in his hanging. “Well, my lord, it seemed perfectly sensible at the time,” the scribe offers. “After all, think of all the ink it has saved not only now, but in all future dictionaries, to have one less ‘e’ in the word.”

The dictionary master, being a man who is always looking to pinch a penny, agrees that this is most sensible. And there you go.

I happen to be tired of spelling a word based on a spilled cup of grog. And, when I do see this wordLatin_dictionary misspelled approximately 90% of the time, I nod in agreement and solidarity. So if anyone is aware of the committee to change the spelling of inanely spelled words, please advise. But meanwhile, I beg you, check your spelling twice, write it once. Thank you for your understanding. And the hairs on my head thank you, too.

 

 

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

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