Archives for category: DAILY LIFE


I can handle  big problems  like paying bills, packing up and moving to a new apartment,  buying a new car but it’s  the thorny, knotty little problems  that defeat me.  For example……

1-    –LIGHTBULBS   Not the regular kind, I can certainly manage them but. halogen bulbs, that’s a  whole different ball game.  I own three halogen lamps and one by one, the bulbs have  burned out, I can’t even get the old bulb out much less insert the new one.  I read the instructions and as near as I can figure,  you’re not supposed to touch the bulb or something terrible (like death) will happen but the instructions don’t say how to take out a bulb without touching it.  Right now I have two non- working lamps in my living room so I have to read in bed where there is a normal lamp.

2–  BATTERIES    I can’t figure out how to   insert them  There is the television remote, the flashlight, the CD player,  the scale to name a few. As they stopped working I bought new batteries (after I figured out which ones I needed, (double A, triple A or one of the hundred or so other choices) but I never seem to insert them properly.  Evidently the plus sign has to be opposite the minus sign  (or not) but the way I do it is  always wrong so I can’t weigh myself on the scale  anymore and I use the manual buttons on the television.

3—KNIVES     How do you sharpen them and what do you use to do it?  My  knives were razor sharp when I bought them; now slicing a  grapefruit or a pineapple or a raw chicken wing feels like I’m using one of those little plastic picnic knives.  I  end up sawing halfway through a grapefruit  and then give up in frustration and rip the rest of it apart with my bare hands.

 4–DIRECTIONS–  How do you reverse them?  I can follow directions to somewhere (friends house, restaurant, shopping mall) just fine but I can’t seem  to reverse them to get home. It seems to me that, if I turn right to get someplace, I should turn left on the return trip but, it never works out that way. I end up hopelessly lost and confused (or the street names change or dead-end or become one-way streets going, of course. the wrong way. I just found out that I have a  GPS on my phone and as soon as I can figure out how to tell it where I want to go, I’ll be able to scratch this problem off my list.

5   COFFEE POTS    It sounds silly but I have never actually gone into a store and bought a coffee pot.  My late husband was a real coffee expert; he used to order a special blend of coffee from some exclusive company and they always included a coffee pot.  He did this once or twice a year.  I don’t know why the coffee pots wore out but he said they did and he would get a replacement.  My current  coffee pot has lasted for over a year and I keep waiting for it to deconstruct or detonate or something and, when it does, what will I do?    Maybe I’ll just switch to tea.’

6    AIR IN TIRES— I can put gasoline into my car, take it in for a tune up,even  go through the car wash but how do you put air into tires?  Wait!  How do you know when the tires need air? It must be a guy thing because tires always look the same to me.  I go to this one gas station and the attendant is always willing to  check the tires for me and put air in (if I remember to ask him) but, I’d like to be able to do it myself.  I need someone to show me how  (and show me again  because I didn’t learn the first time.  Okay, I’m a slow learner.

7–      RADIO–  I’d like to listen to the radio in my car when I drive (and even sometimes at home) but, no matter how I turn the dial all I ever get is static!  Why?  I’m know my car radio can play music; when I valet park and the guy brings it back  there is alway music playing. I’m so happy until I park and turn off the engine.  When I turn it back on I only get static  and I’m back to listening to  CDs.  Other people  find talk shows, country music, top forty, oldies. I’m sure they must be  there but …where?

8–  BUYING PINEAPPLES AND MELONS –The ones I buy are either too hard or green inside or over-ripe, the ones other people buy and serve are perfect.  It seems you have to sniff the melon and pull out a spoke from the pineapple (or the other way around) but I never learned so now I mostly buy strawberries!

I know there aren’t earth-shaking problems but, it would be nice if I could solve them or at least, some of them.


A friend recently told me that she had to call the pharmacy because the instructions for her medicine were wrong. She was worried abut calling because she was afraid she wouldn’t or couldn’t explain the problem properly.

“I know I’ll get all confused. I  never seem to say what I mean so I end up saying too much or all the wrong things.”

I had one piece of advice for her.

“Write it down,” I said. “Write down exactly what you want to say, what points you want to make and then call the pharmacy and read it; read exactly what you’ve written.”

This is a method I use all the time.  Did someone hurt my feelings, make a mistake, say or do something I thought was wrong?  I write down what I want to say; sometimes just the act of writing is enough and I don’t  have to actually confront the person.  Other times, I do have to act and at those times  my thoughts are organized and I say exactly what I want to say. Sometimes I even anticipate their answers and prepare a reply or rebuttal.

The pharmacy says, “the instructions on the bottle came from your doctor.”

I say, “they are not the instructions I received in the past.  Please check your records.”

The person I’ m confronting  says “oh, don’t be so sensitive, I didn’t mean it”

I say, “my being sensitive isn’t the point, the point is that I think what you said (or did) was wrong  and I wanted you to know.”

Writing,venting on paper or on the computer is a great release; it’s my therapy.What I do is write  everything I feel or think as fast as I can.  I just let the words pour out;  I don’t worry about spelling or punctuation or complete sentences.  I just write and write until I’ve said everything I want to say, until I get that “wow, that felt great” feeling.That’s when I  go back to  use spell- check, to  punctuate and make corrections, Then, I either delete it or file it away under a code name so I can read it another day. This is important.   Never send an angry letter over the internet; it will be there forever and you can never take it back.

Writing can even solve problems for me.  I had a situation with two friends and I wrote a short play about it.  I wrote it from all three viewpoints and when I finished the situation didn’t bother me so much anymore.  Seeing the problem on paper reduced it to  (almost) nothing, made me see that it really wasn’t much of a problem after all.

I wrote a whole book of memories when my mother died  and another,  Widowpedia,  when i lost my husband.  Writing about them softened my grief, made it (a little) more  manageable.

One of my best gifts ever came from a friend who wrote a “this is your life” poem for our twenty-fifth anniversary.  She summed up our whole marriage, children, jobs, vacations, places we lived, in thirty lines of poetry. It was and is one of my favorite possessions and it gave me the idea to try writing life poems myself, maybe for senior citizens who want to leave a remembrance of themselves to their families  without  writing a whole autobiography.

Writing is the best thing I can do for myself. I was feeling headachy and sneezy when i started  this article but, somehow, I feel much better now.  Writing can even cure a potential cold!













“If you really want to sell your house, don’t forget to bury St. Joseph” My mother, my Jewish mother said, “it’s the best way to sell quickly?”

Several years ago my husband and I decided to sell our empty-nest six bedroom house in Rockville Maryland and move  into  The District  (Washington DC).  I called  my mother (who lived in Chicago) to tell her our plans and that’s when she started talking about St. Joseph.

Well, what would you think if your Jewish mother told you such a thing?  You’d think, as I did, that the poor woman was finally losing it!. She was past ninety after all.  I hung up and called her doctor

“Mom is really failing”, I said.  “She’s saying irrational things” and I went on to tell him about the St. Joseph statement.

He laughed.

“You mean you don’t know about St. Joseph?” he asked.  “What’s the matter with you people on the east coast?  In Chicago every realtor carries St. Joseph  statues in their car to give to prospective clients.”

I called a friend/realtor  to check and it was true.  She explained the procedure.

“You bury St. Joseph upside down in your front yard facing your house”

The method is very important.  Evidently if you face him the wrong way he might sell your neighbors house!

“After your house sells” my friend/realtor continued “and it will sell quickly, you must dig the statue up and give him a place of honor in your new home”.

This explains why my mother, my Jewish mother, had a St. Joseph statue on her mantel right next to the Sabbath candles and the menorah!   He helped her sell my late aunts condo; it actually sold in one day!

I decided to try it so I went to a Catholic book.  I was a little worried, a little embarrassed. What if they laughed at me or worse, thought I was insulting them?   I sort of mumbled that I was looking for a St. Joseph. statue   The sales person grinned.
”Are you trying to sell your house?” She pointed to a bin full of little St Josephs.”.
“There’s what you’re looking for, it’s guaranteed to work.”

I took St. Joseph home, buried him in the front yard (upside down facing the house) and, truly, within a week, we had two offers, good offers.  We moved a month later, carefully digging up St. Joseph and taking him with us to our new little row house in Georgetown.

Sixteen years later we decided to move to Florida so we put St. Joseph back to work; we buried him inthe front yard, upside down, facing the house.  He took a little longer this time but within a month we put up a sold sign.

On moving day, my housekeeper Ralph and I went into the front yard to dig up St. Joseph and….disaster!  We couldn’t find him.  We practically dug up the whole yard; even my husband came out to help. St. Joseph was nowhere to be found.

Ralph was wringing his hands and I was pretty upset too.  What should we do?   Part of the deal was that St. Joseph has to come along to the new house.  Finally, I wrote a note starting “Dear St. Joseph”.  I  explained that we had tried and tried but couldn’t find him

“Thank you for helping us sell the house and here is our new address in Florida (I carefully printed the address) and an open invitation to visit anytime.”

. We buried the note (upside down facing the house) and carefully covered it over.  What else could we do?

Fast forward nine years.  I owned a  condo on the beach and dediced it would be more practical to sell it and rent an apartment. I needed a St. Joseph and the  local Catholic Church  actually had  kits in the gift shop complete with instructions.  I was a little worried about where to bury him; if I put him in the common front yard he might sell the whole building so I compromised by burying him in a planter on my balcony with a note explaining the situation. It worked!  The condo sold in a week even in a very slow real estate market. I’m renting an apartment now and St. Joseph is resting in a place of honor  on the bookcase just waiting to be needed again.  I recently shared the story of St. Joseph with some neighbors, one of whom is trying to sell her house, the other is a real estate agent.  They had never heard of this method but, the day after I told them about it, guess what they went out to buy?



Santana said this in a magazine article about his life and family and career and it made a really big impression on me, gave me one of those “Aha” moments.   I’m just imaging how  how happy I would be  if I went to Disneyland (or any other amusement park) and the rides were free.   I’d be smiling and laughing and enjoying every minute of the day.  Wouldn’t it be great to feel that way all the time, to think that life is one big Disneyland?  It would sure make standing in line at the supermarket or going to the dentist or driving to work on a cold rainy morning a lot easier to do.  I’m going to try it.

The title is from the song “I hope you dance” and it’s right up there, in my mind, as one of the best messages or thoughts or happi=isms ever.     It’s so easy to say things like “I’m too tired”or “I haven’t got time.”  or “I can’t do that” or “I’m too old to learn this.”  It’s harder but a lot more fun to try something new, take a chance, to get out of your comfort zone.  Some people wait to live their lives until they retire or earn more money or the children are grown up or….any one of a hundred reasons; they act as if they were cats with nine more lives to live when actually, the only life to be sure of is today so…lets not sit it out…lets dance!

Mitchell Ball has done it again!  Two years ago he introduced  and persuaded me, and (most  of South Florida) to play a game called Pickleball, a combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong, and now that I (and most of South Florida) are playing it, he is promoting another  paddle sport, Pop Tennis!

            “ You have to try it,” he insisted as I, shaking my head and clinging to my Pickleball paddle, tried to refuse, “Just take the racquet”—it looks like a tennis racquet except it’s heavier and  has holes in it—“and a tennis ball “—more about that in a minute—and hit it. Great!  See, you can do it.”

          I had expected to play Pickleball and we were standing on a Pickleball court (20 feet wide and 44 ft long) but Mitchell had sneakily turned it into a Pop Tennis court by adding three feet to both ends making it  20 feet wide and 50 feet long.  He tossed me a deflated (almost dead) tennis ball which is what the Pop Tennis game uses.

       “Serve it underhand,” Mitch instructed  “or”, when I kept missing, “you can bounce the ball and hit it.” That was much easier but I have to say that the supposedly dead ball still had plenty of bounce and I spent a lot of time chasing it.    We played a game.

            “That’s fifteen for me,” Mitch said as I missed a shot.  “That’s 30”  as I missed another one “and “as I missed a third, “that’s forty and my game.”

          “What? Whoa!  Wait a minute. How can the game be over so fast?”

             “Pop tennis is scored like tennis.”

            “Oh.” I didn’t admit that I didn’t remember how tennis is scored.

            “You play six games to one set; a game is scored love (that’s nothing),  fifteen, thirty and forty is game so, we have five more to go. Ready?” ” I groaned but felt better when he said that people usually play doubles.  I actually won one game  but…I think maybe he let me.

           Pop Tennis has been around since 1898 but is played in only in four locations in the United States, Brighton Beach Baths in New York City, Venice Beach in California, the Carolina’s and St Augustine, Florida.   Mitchell is going to change that.  He is now the official  Pop Tennis ambassador for Dade, Broward, Keys  and Palm Beach Counties, is in the process of contacting tennis clubs to set up demo clinics,  has created a website,,  a Meetup group , and has a group of people ( even me) ready and anxious to play.

     For more information about Pop Tennis go to the website, join the Meetup or call Mitchell at 786.259.4711

 By Barbara Fox,


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I’m moving. I sold my condo and I’m going to rent a big apartment in…well, that’s the question.   I lived  in Miami Beach and Hallandale Beach (briefly)  and the apartment I’m probably going to rent, which is beautiful and spacious and in a wonderful building with a roof-top pool is in Hollywood, a half hour and a million light years away from my favorite place, Miami Beach.

I’m still looking there maybe the; perfect apartment will turn up but, so far, it hasn’t.  It seems that, in the last three months. everyone in the world wants to rent an  apartment so the inventory is low and and the prices are high.   I want very specific things.  The apartment has to be on the beach, have one bedroom with a den or dining area, one and a half bathrooms and a balcony, I want to be able to walk to something (stores, restaurants, entertainment)   but there is  proble. It seems my budget is sort of low. I didn’t think it was but, according to the seven or so  realtors I contacted, prices have gone sky high.  Everyone wants to rent.

          So, I’m moving  and I’m getting really excited.   I like to move, I like change and I love to throw things away, organize other things, and find things I’ve forgotten that I owned.

“When did I write that article?”  I ask myself as I clear out my desk.  “I don’t remember buying that sweater” as I empty a drawer,   “I’ve been looking for that serving plate for a year” as I stand on a stool to begin  wrapping the contents.

As I’m sorting  out the book case I stop to read a chapter in a favorite book or listen to a record. Yes, I still have my record collection (show tunes and folk music) They have come with me for more than  ten different moves (Chicago , Maryland, Washington DC, Miami Beach)  and  I can’t seem to leave them or sell them.  They’re like family and, strangely enough, they still sound really good.

I discard clothes I haven’t worn for years.  Why, I ask myself, “do I need a purple cashmere cape in Florida?”  I reluctantly select about three dozen books to donate to the library and ruthlessly toss out magazines and paperback books and about thirty bottles of half empty nail polish.

I clear out the file cabinet; manuals, old tax forms, bank statements and bills, whole folders go into the shredder or trash bag and then I attack the linen closet.   Flat sheets which I never use, old towels, pillow cases, the mop and broom (never bring an old broom into a new home) and that vacuum that has been broken for two years all join the Goodwill pile.

The kitchen is next.  My fine collection of unmatched plastic containers has to go and so do the chipped glasses, the six pot covers (the pots they covered are long gone) and the thermos that leaks.  I look at my dishes critically; maybe this is the time to buy new ones.

Sometimes I think should put everything in storage, rent a furnished apartment and be unencumbered by stuff but then, I look at my curvy  red sofa and my round glass table with the four black stools and my purple flowered comforter on the king sized bed and my favorite books and paintings, some of which were painted by my late father-in-law, and I think, maybe not.

So I’m moving, I’m scrounging grocery stores for boxes and I’m wrapping stuff and making to-do lists and canceling some things and notifying places.  I’m moving and, I have a whole week more to decide…where!