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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Happiness is a Choice

It’s true, what you focus on, is what you get. For some people not only is the glass half full, but SOMEONE is to blame for it!

This is a wonderful little neighborhood: Some great amateur gardeners, and a plethora of dog walkers invite conversations. We may not remember all the names, but we sure enjoy all the critters.

Many months ago, someone brought the house across the street, and we all were hopeful as the house had been vacant a long time. However, all attempts at conversation with them fell flat, even with their contractors. For example: They were unloading lumber and tools, and so were we…an obvious conversation opportunity, but nada, not ever. Even the mailman couldn’t get a hello. So sad.

Our dumpster sits in the front part of the parking lot and it had taken quite a beating over the winter, plus it was tapped a few times by the garbage truck drivers, so the gates didn’t always close properly. A new dumpster enclosure was ordered, but until it was installed, I used bungee cords to prop the gates open.

Apparently this highly irritated our grumpy new neighbor.

Rude Dude: As I was working outside he came over and demanded if I was the manager.

Me thinking: Of course you know that. Who else do you see dragging out recyclables, unloading massive Home Depot building supplies (doors, windows, lumber, etc.), and working in the lot with contractors?

Me speaking: “Yes, I am.”

Rude Dude: Irritated, as the view of our dumpster while drinking his morning coffee on his porch, disgusted him.

Me thinking: You and I live 100 yards from the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by gorgeous roses, sunflowers, lavender and happy beach-goers, and all you focus on is this dumpster? Get a grip!

Rude Dude: Gave me an ultimatum. He would not complain to the township if I fixed it by a certain date!

He was trying to intimidate me?! Get over thyself! He didn't even state his name!

Me asked: “Sir, my name is ____, what is yours?”

Rude Dude: He answered.

Me: “I’ll pass the message on to my boss.” And walked away.

He has also corrected some women tenants to close the gates: Misogynist idiot, you don't speak to the male tenants like that!

The dumpster has been replaced with nice shiny gates, however, I have been known some mornings, to leave both gates wide open as I give a world-class cleaning to the enclosure. He and his buddies then stand on their porch, hands on hips, clutching their coffee cups while glaring at me.

It doesn’t make me work faster.

Sunflowers R.I.P.

So sad, these two ginormous sunflower trees have delighted and amazed all who passed by and admired them; many used them for photo ops. It was grand to see them every single time I came back home.

They were over 8’ tall, and so laden with flowers, that we tied them to the railings, and then we had to adjust those ties frequently. But, alas, despite our care, one toppled over and snapped at the base. The stalk was over an inch in diameter.

At the far right, you can see that I dropped my purse and packages on the sidewalk, surveyed the damaged and just snapped a quick pix or two.

Then I went upstairs, grabbed scissors and salvaged as many flowers as possible.

Wow, they do look spectacular around the home: I even passed out some flowers to a few neighbors.

These flower heads have a whole lot of seeds. The ones with black seeds are standard sunflowers, one flower per stalk. The others are from the massive ‘trees’ that have a dozen or more flowers per stalk.

I am saving them, passing around the neighborhood. Can’t wait to see what will grow next Spring!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Flowers in the Neighborhood

Fortunately, the tenants on both sides of us are allowed to plant and dress up their little piece of heaven on the Jersey Shore. Here are some of them:

When I asked just when did he plant that gorgeous flower, he laughed and said 3 years ago, but it just looked like a stick...until he ran it over with his lawnmower! Guess that flower decided that if it wanted to live, it better do something spectacular: And it sure did.

My neighbor's sunflowers, dwarfs compared to mine, but they are a beautiful and solid wall of yellow bordering her yard.

Roses LAST year

Roses THIS year! We are so planting more of these!

Planters are doing very well!

This last one just for fun. It was gift was from one of our workers (Diane), and it always makes me smile to see it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Deal with (Some, Just Some) Difficult People

This trick will not work with those irrational fools who drive us to fantasies of pitching them off roof tops. Not worth the jail time.

Heed the words of a wise man who wrote Proverbs 29:9, “Do not contend with a fool, the fool will either rage or laugh, and there will be no peace!” (paraphrased)

But I digress, again.

At your next business function, wedding, funeral or reunion, to deflect negative attention, after the initial hug or handshake, The Trick is to ask THEM a slew of questions:

  • You look fantastic! How’s the new job? (add, you really deserved that promotion, knew you had skills, it’s about time your hard work paid off);
  • Great shoes, where did you buy them? (dress, hair, jewelry, whatever vanity hits);
  • How’s the kids, grandkids? (that could take a looong time);
  • So how was your vacation? (even longer time).

Get THEM to talk about themselves, ooh and aah at the right moments, keep flipping the subject back to THEM, then when they finally walk away, THEY will think you are wonderful!

Because unless you have said something brilliant, or really foolish, after the first few moments, it is all about THEM! Keep them talking about themselves: remember they may also have problems they don't want to discuss.

Our lives can change in a flash: divorce, job loss, health issues, whatever hardship, can make us want to avoid social encounters and any questions about us. But hey, you don’t gotta explain a thing to anyone. Put on your best duds, remember what you are worth, what you have accomplished, and remember to smile!

My neighbor was apprehensive about her high school reunion. She was nervous as serious health issues had drained all their resources, plus she had gained weight and she was dreading the ‘comparisons’ with the imaginary successes of everybody else.

I gave her that advice, practiced it with her, then reminded her of all that she is now, then urged her to smile, and to just enjoy a night out with her husband.

The next day she came back and thanked me for that simple advice. People were so glad to see her, memories were shared and her anxiety evaporated.

Give people a chance to surprise you.

And for those jerks who comment on your weight, just reply, “Better the fat on my ass than yours between the ears.”

Monday, July 28, 2014


This past winter was so hard on my front rock garden: not only did my beautiful rose bushes die, but the bushes that I had planted to protect them from the ocean winds shriveled up too. So sad.

But we have a husband/wife team doing a bit of work around here, and the wife (Diane) took it upon herself to replant the front rock garden. Before I even knew it, she had dragged pots of flowers from home, moved around a mountain of stones, and then planted lots of stuff. I don’t even know the names of all this stuff, but I am amazed at what has been growing…7 foot tall Sunflowers!

Aren’t they gorgeous?! Diane is even jealous, the ones she gave me outshine the ones she kept at home!

Strangers are stopping by to admire, even the road crew from the gas company had walked over to check them out.

They just love the Salt Air!