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All posts for the month June, 2012

I Could Live Forever in the Twilight Zone

Published June 27, 2012 by Maryanne

Long Beach Island, New Jersey – at twilight

My favorite time of the day is twilight and I make it a point to be outside during this time as much as possible.

I just love the pink and blue skies, which always remind me of a Maxfield Parrish painting.

“Look at that Maxfield Parrish sky!” I am often heard saying.

The weather cools as the sun starts to set. Birds are flying to a safe haven for the night. Life starts to quiet down.

It’s the prettiest part of the day, and it goes so quickly.

I stand on my doorstep sucking every bit of the twilight into my soul before I’m ready to call it a day.

It’s twilight time. And I could live forever in the twilight zone.

Hershey and Carlisle, Pennsylvania Weekend Trip

Published June 24, 2012 by Maryanne

Me, at a 1970s computer

Car show, Hershey, Pa

Recreation of 1960s drive-ins, in car museum

1962 Manza GT Concept, 1963 – sibling of the Corvette

Cars

This weekend, my husband and I took a long weekend to Hershey, Pennsylvania to see the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum, which took you on a trip through time from the late 1800s with the carriages to mass production in the 1920s giving everyone a chance to own a car up to the 1970s where you could see a variety of antique cars and motorcycles.

The pictures here speak for themselves, but you can also Google the official website to see more, including videos.

I highly recommend going here for a visit. We spent over two hours in the museum, as well as the car show that was outside. Some of the trailers had other cool stuff like the 1970s computer I’m picture at in the photo above, and a ton of memorabilia from yesteryear.

Hershey, Pa.

Going to Hershey for the first time was very cool. In the heart of the town all the streets are painted chocolate brown. You can even smell the chocolate as you pass the factory! Streets had cutesy names like “Cocoa Avenue.” Street lamps were Hershey’s kisses, some wrapped in the silver foil, others unwrapped showcasing the milk chocolate in all its glory. It was simply adorable!

Health Food

I was also happy to re-visit a restaurant we went to a few years ago called The Green Room in Carlisle. It’s a healthy restaurant with raw and vegan choices and also has organic meats. I had a cold beet soup, pickled watermelon and carrot/ginger juice. For dessert, we shared an amazing mango/coconut/chia pudding! YUM! I honestly have to say I liked this food as much as I like Pure Food & Wine in NYC. When my birthday comes this year, I may want to go back to The Green Room to celebrate.

Carlisle has an amazing health food store called Appalachian Whole Foods. They have organic produce, as well as raw milk! But I waited until Sunday and got raw goat’s milk at The Healthy Grocer in Camp Hill, Pa. The Healthy Grocer was huge and similar to my favorite health food store in New Jersey — Dean’s. The Healthy Grocer had some homemade delights that I really enjoyed such as pickled organic hard boiled eggs and organic beet and apple salad. And we brought home some chocolate zucchini cookies — which are already GONE!

Other oddities

One of the amusing things we saw on this trip is a “Dog Wash.” It was in the back of a gas station. People who take their dogs on trips can take their dogs to wash them. It’s coin operated with a sink for dogs to sit in. What a clever idea! I’ve never seen them before.

Another odd thing was NICE PEOPLE! We couldn’t figure out if people were nice because they were on vacation, or just nice because they aren’t living in New Jersey or NYC. Everyone was smiling and cordial, holding doors open for you, saying “hello,” etc.

People talked to us in the hotel lobby, in the pool, at the car museum. Everywhere we went, people smiled at us and said a few words.

We went an entire LONG weekend without any bullshit from anyone. And that is so rare when you live in New Jersey or NYC.

When we left the hotel early this afternoon, my husband walked into the check out area, while I waited in the car. I saw a man pass him, say “hello” and held the door open for him. Then the same man saw me in the car and waved to me. I thought to myself, Wow, where does this super nice man come from?

I watched him get into his car and I looked at the license plate.

It said, “New York.”

It’s amazing, a change of scenery does wonders for everyone!

The Best Thing in 1954 Was the Bikini

Published June 22, 2012 by Maryanne

Me on the beach, and in my 40s. Not perfect, but enjoying myself. You should too!

A blogger I follow wrote yesterday that she favored the one-piece swim suit over a bikini and put up amazing photos of beautiful women in one-piece bathing suits. She felt that a one-piece is more flattering to a woman’s body.

I beg to differ.

To me, if you pick out the wrong one, a one-piece bathing suit can look as uncomfortable as your grandmother’s girdle!

Some may argue that one-piece bathing suits are more practical for swimming sports, but you can have an “oops” moment with a one piece too as it rides up your ass if a big wave hits you the wrong way. And breasts can pop out of any bathing suit, as well as halter tops and other summer wear, not just a bikini. What the hell, shit happens, give an old man a thrill.

If modesty is an issue, I’d like to see women wearing Victorian swimsuits, which are hot as hell. And if a designer chooses to bring the old Victorian suits to the masses, I am so there.

But until that happens, I’m sticking with the bikini.

In my humble opinion everybody looks good in a bikini! Face it, a bikini is the closest thing you can get to public nudity, and I think most men (and many women) would agree with me that there is nothing more beautiful than a nude woman no matter what her shape, size or age is.

Last night I was on the beach with my husband. There was a woman, in her late 20s/early 30s, romping around in a bikini. She had a big belly with a huge scar underneath her belly button. She was sexy as hell! She didn’t look like what the fashion industry considers a model or someone you’d see on the cover of Sports Illustrated — I thought she looked BETTER! I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She represented freedom and she looked very happy. There wasn’t an ounce of insecurity in her gorgeous body!

Being a beach fan, I’m always checking out different types of women and you can’t deny how enticing the bikini is. Whether it’s worn by a proud gym-going goddess or someone who obviously likes her beer, it’s ALL GOOD!

I’ve seen stunning women who were very old wearing bikinis — and wow, with a nice tan, a smashing sun hat and ultra chic sunglasses, you hardly notice the wrinkles! Old women really have a knack for working their inner movie star!

Little girls and babies wear bikinis  — hooray for them. I wore one too when I was a little girl and I liked it better than a one-piece because it was easier take off when I had go to the bathroom. I once worked with a woman who thought a bikini on a baby was “disgusting.” I firmly said I disagreed and there was nothing wrong with it.

When the woman left the room, a man who was the father of twin baby girls whispered to me, “I’m glad you defended babies in bikinis. My girls wear them!”

That must have been adorable!

Bikinis are liberating and going to the beach or pool is probably the only time most of us will wear one. And a trip to the beach or pool should mean being comfortable (not sitting around freezing because your wet one-piece suit is making your belly cold because you can’t dry it!). People shouldn’t have to worry about being scrutinized for what they look like, whether they have a belly, scars, a baby bump, tattoos, varicose veins and/or stretch marks.

In other countries women of all ages go topless and it’s okay. Why are we Americans so prudish and mean, hurting others by making catty remarks about who or who doesn’t have a “bikini body”? It’s just so unnecessary. I HATE those tabloids that make fun of actresses who gained weight or have stretch marks. Who cares?! They’re HUMAN!

People are on the beach to get sun, relaxation and exercise. Going to the beach should be a HEALTHY experience, not a time for worrying about fashion, what you look like, and who is judging you. (Mind you, I’m all for fashion, but definitely not taking it too seriously, because it’s not the end all!)

So ladies, please stop picking on other women. Instead, embrace how great it is that God created us all in our very special beautiful ways. Men are easy on us, so let’s be easier on ourselves. And easier on others too!

And if you’re really uncomfortable wearing a bikini, that’s okay too. Just don’t feel pressured into NOT wearing one because of standards set by shallow people.

Just remember, for every shallow person, there’s an artistic person out there (male and/or female) who appreciates all forms of beauty! So, you go girl!

Call Me

Published June 20, 2012 by Maryanne

Me, using an effective tool for friendship  (Photo by Darlene Foster)

I have a friend I’ve known since high school who, for the past few years, does all her communicating online. It wasn’t always like this. I used to call her whenever I needed someone to talk to, and she was there for me. But once Face Book came along, she started this new rule that it was best to communicate to her via email, which irked me to no end and evidently after quite a few miscommunications — via email of course — the friendship ended.

To me, a phone call will always be vastly superior to an email. You can hear the tone of a person’s voice and know immediately if they are happy or sad, if you called at a bad time or if they have exciting news to share. You can hear laughter. You can hear a joke or sarcasm that may not be translated via email. And you can play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the touch tone buttons.

People seem to think it’s some sort of status symbol to say they have no time for phone calls, or that they don’t get many phone calls. In the 21st century, a phone call uncool and not something to be used by those who love to keep up with the Joneses.

I don’t know what Joneses these hipsters are keeping up with, but I prefer the Joneses of yesteryear — the Tom Joneses, the Shirley Joneses and the Davy Joneses — the Joneses that were around when it was cool to be on the phone. If a person’s line was busy, that meant he/she was popular.

I was the last person on earth to get an answering machine and in the early 90s I still didn’t have one. People either caught me when I was home, or didn’t get me at all. This was great when I was still single. I actually got letters in the mail from friends and potential boyfriends because they had no other way of getting in touch with me if I wasn’t home to answer the phone.

To this day, I find that so amusing.

The whole concept of emails and texting being a major source of communication just escapes me. I couldn’t imagine being a younger person and using these methods for dating. It takes away the whole mystique of being unavailable.

I remember being a young person and coming home from a night out and my grandmother telling me a certain someone had called while I was out. How exciting!

I feel so sorry for young people who don’t have that grand element of surprise anymore during their dating years. They are missing out, big time. Everything is too easy, which takes away the fun. It’s just human nature that people like a bit of a challenge.

Last year during a slow period with my business I took on a part-time job at a music store for a couple months. The store owner’s son would spend entire nights hanging out at the music store texting a girl he was interested in. It was so pathetic to watch. She obviously wasn’t interested in him and just used the texting tool as a way to kill her boredom because from what he told me she had no life. (And clearly he didn’t either).

I felt bad for the kid, but he made his own bed. He was obviously addicted to this little device that was preventing him from getting out in the world and enjoying life. I wondered if the same girl would spend as much time with this guy had he called her or set up a date to see her in person. Probably not.

I remember being young and telling my grandmother, “Say I’m not home!” when an undesirable person would call. How do you do that with a text? With texts and emails — the punchline is, you’re ALWAYS home. But I guess the younger generation has new concepts of what a loser is and isn’t.

And, think about it, how sexy was it back in the day when you first met someone and he/she wrote their phone number on your hand? In this technology day and age, people are like, “call my cell, then I’ll have your number in there.”

Eww … how dull! And people are missing out on the thrill of touching someone’s arm for the first time as they write their phone number on it. Talked about a missed opportunity!

Call me old fashioned, but I simply love the idea of going through a phone book and calling random friends from a land line. (Note: I don’t call people who only use cells — I do not want to compete with traffic and background noise, and people certainly shouldn’t be talking on their phones while driving!)

It’s so exciting when someone you left a message for calls you back. It’s just so cool that there are still people out there that have courtesy skills — and even cooler that I can call these people friends!

Sometimes while I’m waiting for my husband to come home, I’ll pour myself a glass of wine and talk for a half hour or so to my friend Gina or my friend Darlene (who took the photo above) who also lives close-by. Even though I see Gina and Darlene often, it’s still so nice to keep in touch on a regular basis. When we see each other we still have plenty to talk about and laugh about.

What a blessing it is to live during a time when the good things in life are just a phone call away.

The Ups and Downs of a Home-Based Business

Published June 19, 2012 by Maryanne

Pear Tree Holiday Party, 2010 (l-r: Me, photographer Darlene Foster, musician Jim Cuthbert, artist Ed Hicks and his wife).

Pear Tree Enterprises, http://www.peartreeenterprises.com,  is my home-based business which will be four years old this summer.

My business consists of doing what I do best: writing, book editing, promoting and some personal assistance. Sometimes I even model and do commercials when an attractive older woman is needed (like the time I was a mom in an Intel internet commercial).

While I have my slow periods, in the four years that I’ve been in business for myself, each year I earned more than the year before. I think that’s pretty good, considering the situation of our economy.

Sometimes I’ve been so bombarded with work I need to have an assistant help me. Other times, like today, I’m sitting around waiting for the phone to ring while watching junk TV. But that always changes in a heartbeat, as I just got two phone calls that will have my days filled to the brim for the rest of the week.

When I first started my business, one of my clients suggested a newsletter. That was the most brilliant suggestion, because every month when over 1000 people get that newsletter, either a new client comes on board, or a former client decides to return.

Other sources of income result from business cards and word-of-mouth.

I’m still trying to “work” Twitter and Linked-In — nothing yet, but I remain hopeful.

And there is one Mother Source where I get most of my work and clients.

Believe it or not — Craig’s List.

Some people are resistant to Craig’s List for so many reasons: the Craig’s List Killer, all the porn and prostitution advertising on it, all the cheapo companies that want to low-ball you with a pay scale that dates back to the 1950s, scams, links to viruses, and all the competition (people say they send out resumes and never hear back from anyone).

But trust me, once you sift through all the bullshit (and there is a super quick way to do that, once you know how to navigate — there are thinks you can look for to know what NOT to click on), there is a world of greatness on Craig’s List.

Just meet everyone for the first time in a public place and get references before working with them.

Now, not only have I met clients and scored work from Craig’s List, I met really nice people that remained acquainted with me long after the job I was hired for was done.

And that brings me to what I like most about having my own business. The variety of working with different people over the years. They come and go, but some stay a very long time. Two of my current clients have been with me since nearly the beginning; one of which has sent several other clients my way.

I’m so happy that I’ve been able to keep my small business going for four years now. It’s fun to be your own boss, but it’s not always easy. Sometimes I wish I had a “normal” 9 to 5 job and just used my talents as a creative outlet during my free time. I wouldn’t be digging it, but I wouldn’t be worrying about half the things I worry about like getting new clients, checks getting lost in the mail, chasing after people to get paid, etc.

And that is just during the slow times! Sometimes I’m so bombarded with work, I’m glued to the computer all day long without a break. While some people are 9 to 5, I could be 8:30 to 7:30! And I worry if I’ll get it all done.

Besides the slow periods, other things that can literally make or break my day are depending on tools such as: computer, telephone and car. They always have to be in tip top working condition. Early on, there was a day when the phone went out for the entire day — what a nightmare.

And sometimes there are clients that you just can’t get along with and you have to break up the working relationship; which is okay according to a  life coach that I speak with from time to time, who says it’s not important to keep every client.

When it comes to clients, there are four categories:

High profit/high maintenance

High profit/low maintenance

Low profit/high maintenance

Low profit/low maintenance

Out of these four types, the ones you should obviously not keep are the low profit, high maintenance ones. Even if I have no work to do at all, I won’t work with a low profit, high maintenance client. It’s just not worth it. However, a low profit/low maintenance client can be a dream because you’re still making money but they’re not sapping your energy — which you will need when a high profit/high maintenance client comes along!

And of course, everyone wants a high profit/low maintenance client. To me, those are the high paying writing jobs that I can do very quickly — scoring $100 or more per hour.

I feel that through the ups and downs of having my own business, I am blessed to have something I believe in. Some people have the luck of the Irish and their businesses boom overnight. Others, like myself, are considered lucky because when things look their worst a ray of sunshine peers out from behind the clouds.

If Pear Tree continues to grow a little bit each year as it has been, I’ll be okay with that. It would be even better if it grew in leaps and bounds — but then again, a pear tree doesn’t grow overnight.

Having Kids is a Blessing, But So is Not Having Kids

Published June 15, 2012 by Maryanne

vintage children

When I was a child, I played with toy animals, not baby dolls. Becoming a mother was never on my “to do” list, and the thought of becoming pregnant repulsed me. While many women worry about their biological clock, I can’t wait until mine ticks out!

Does that make me a bad person? Absolutely not!

But some people have tried to make me feel like a bad person for my personal choices. I’ve heard ignorant negative comments like, “People who don’t have children are selfish.”

However, it’s the opposite. I’ve heard many childless women say they feel they can give more to society by not having kids. I feel the same way, as I am a giver in every sense of the word.

Some people implied that I “hate” kids. That is not true either. I love kids.

Some people implied that I’m not interested in having kids because I’d be a bad mom. People who really know me say that I’d be a good mom. I may have to disagree with this one, because I’m too much like a kid myself — it would take a lot out of me, emotionally, to discipline a kid. Seeing a child cry breaks my heart, it’s something I just can’t see myself living with.

But then my husband always points out that our cats are so good because I raised them from birth — and imagine what I could do if I raised a child from birth? I could have been the mom of a kid that grew up to move mountains!

Mind you, this article is not meant to be a competition of moms versus non-moms, but that women who choose not to have children should be equally celebrated and honored — not disrespected with ill comments from strangers and acquaintances. Because we all have so much to give to society. Non-moms are not sitting around in bed all day eating bon-bons!

On a positive note, when Mother’s Day comes around and strangers wish me a “Happy Mother’s Day” I kindly accept the compliment because I do feel like I am a mom in so many ways.

I’m a mom to two beautiful cats who — at ages 16 and 18 — have lived a lot longer than most cats. People who have children tend to “give up” on their animals, giving them away when the going gets rough. I’ve yet to know a non-mom who has done this. I have non-mom friends who should get a medal for their love for animals — going above and beyond the call of duty.

I may not have children, but I have articles — hundreds of them — that are informative and inspirational to society. (And trumping my own accomplishments, I know another woman who once said, “I don’t have children. I have albums.” You go girl!)

I may not have children, but I’ve influenced the lives of children. I used to baby sit a young girl named Claire (who is now of college age and still keeps in touch with me). When she was a little girl, she had to write a paper on someone who inspired her. She said that everyone was writing about their moms, but she wanted to write about me! So she interviewed me. A few weeks later, she asked if I could come to her class and give a lecture of journalism. With permission from my editor at the time, I gave a lecture to a class of fourth grade students. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. After the class each kid lined up to shake my hand. One boy even asked me if I’d babysit him too! LOL!

Children always gravitate to me at parties and I’ve had parents thank me for playing with their kids when it was truly my pleasure. My husband’s niece has the cutest little boy named Brennan. When they come to visit, he always wants me to sit next to him. He knows he can count of me to play with him, something I really look forward too.

By not having the responsibility of children, I can be the best friend in the world! I’m the one who always answers phone calls and emails — at any time of the day no matter how busy I am (yes, childless women are very busy too!)

I pride myself on how emotionally giving I am to everyone. I’ll always be there to listen and go that extra mile that someone who has children just can’t do — and rightfully so because if you have kids, damn straight those kids should come first!

I get extremely defensive when children are being mistreated in public. I used to work part-time at Bath & Body Works. One day a mom was shopping and her little boy accidentally sprayed perfume in his eyes. I immediately ran to the sink to get a paper towel and water to help rinse his eyes.

To my horror, the mom said, “Don’t help him! Let him suffer! This way he’ll learn!”

I said, “No! It’s his eyes!” And I helped the little boy, disobeying the mother’s wishes!

I’m not looking for kudos here, I’m just illustrating how a non-mom can be extremely loving, regardless of what moms think of us.

And that while people tell others that their kids are a “blessing” — don’t forget about us who don’t have kids, because that is a blessing too!