March 29, 2013

Cooking for Relaxation...Really?

This is a post I wrote about 18 months ago all about my first attempt to see if cooking was an interest I wanted to explore. Because most readers today were not part of the satisfying retirement family then, I thought you might enjoy my story. What did I decide? Was my kitchen transformed into a place where Betty and I whip up meals to die for? What do you think?

Almost two two months ago I wrote about a growing trend among folks who cook for relaxation and as a hobby. If you missed it, click here. As I noted, I find cooking a necessary evil. Food is fuel and the less time spent in a kitchen preparing it the better. Part of a satisfying retirement for me is a fancy meal now and then. But I prefer to have a professional cook it and another professional serve it to me at a restaurant.

Many of the comments left on that post suggested I might be missing something with this attitude. I promised to take a stab at preparing a more involved meal and seeing if I was destined to be a foodie. Here is the result.

My meal was nothing terribly fancy. I picked things that didn't require all sorts of ingredients I'd only use for this project. Also, I wanted something that wouldn't take too much time to prepare. These two recipes fit the fill: a corn burger with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes as the main course and Italian roasted snap peas with tomatoes as a salad. Dessert was a scoop of ice cream with toppings. The recipes were found on the Internet and loaded on my laptop so I could consult them as I went.

I began the great cook-off just after 4:30 one afternoon. I don't know if this is the proper technique, but I found all the ingredients for both recipes and lined them up on the kitchen counter. Before going any further I poured myself a glass of white wine, took a few gulps, and plunged ahead.

I had assumed that anything that began with the same word could be a substituted for anything else with that same word. I quickly learned the errors of my ways. My wife informed me that baking soda and baking powder are, in fact, two different things and both will be required. With a little detective work, I found containers of both. So far, so good.

I'm not sure what leeks are supposed to look and feel like, but the ones we bought about a week ago for this project had turned somewhat brown and felt a little slimy to my touch. Not willing to get sick while slaving over a hot skillet, I made an executive decision and decided chopped up sweet onions would work just fine.

After finding a food processor, a few mixing bowls, a baking sheet, and a skillet the meal began to take shape. The corn burgers were the consistency of lumpy pancakes when I finally dropped them in the medium-hot pan. But, after giving them about 8 minutes per side, not the 4 suggested in the recipe, they were appealingly brown and ready for the crumbled goat cheese on top.

Since I bought creamy goat cheese and not crumbles, the ingredient was smeared on instead, but I think the end result was about the same. Oh, and I had missed the step about dicing up the sun-dried tomatoes, so they were a bit harder to bite through. After 15 minutes the corn burgers went on the buns, smeared with the goat cheese, and looking, well, nothing like my image of something called a burger.

The Italian snap peas with onions (instead of leaks!) and cherry tomatoes had been baking for about 15 minutes and looked about right. With a final dash of oregano they went on the plate next to the corn burger. Oven off? Check. Stove off? Check. Wine glasses refilled? Check. It was about 5:30 and time for dinner.

You'd probably like to know how it all tasted. The corn burgers were bland. A bit more salt and maybe some other spices would have helped with the overall flavor. But, they were cooked properly and quite filling. The Italian snap pea and tomato mix was excellent. I did add a dash of Italian seasoning to the final product...not in the recipe but by then I was bold and daring and ready to break the rules.

As you can tell from this picture, I left myself a mess to clean up. I have been told that it is best to clean as you go, but that would have been too advanced for my first attempt at something like this. So, 30 minutes after dessert I had the kitchen back in shape and ready for breakfast...which was going to be a bowl of cereal. I was tired of "creating."

Have I changed my opinion of cooking as an interesting pastime and hobby for me? In a word, No. Am I glad I did it? Sure. It gave me something interesting to write about and kept me out of trouble for an hour or so. But, I am quite content to go back to chili, grilled chicken, spaghetti, and (ham)burgers on the grill.

Wolfgang Puck and Gordon Ramsay have nothing to fear. What to do in retirement will not include cooking school.

Update: Nothing has changed in 18 months since I wrote this. Food is still fuel for me most of the time.

March 27, 2013

Dealing With a Real Life Disability RJ's Way

I am lucky to have RJ Walters as a regular reader and commenter on satisfying retirement. He is a  prolific blogger, maintaining several different blogs on a regular basis. He is well read, thoughtful, and not afraid to voice his opinion when something strikes him as silly, dumb, or dangerous.

In addition to all of that, RJ has a disability: He is deaf. Importantly, RJ is deaf but in no way does that define him. As we age many of us will face limitations on our health or well-being. I thought it would make for both an interesting and educational post to ask RJ some questions about his condition, how he deals with it, and what he can teach us about diversity. I found his answers insightful and motivational. I trust you will, too. 

1) You once said to me, “I am just a guy who is deaf, not a deaf guy.” In your mind what is the difference? Is it one of attitude or acceptance?
Let me start this answer with a question. Who are you? The answer to that might be “I am a Christian”; “I am a husband”; “I am an engineer”; “I am a father”. Your first few answers show primarily how you identify yourself. For me “I am deaf” would come pretty far down the list. When I do mention it I say “I am deaf but that is not who I am, it only an obstacle I face on a daily basis”

Some people, particularly those who are born deaf, often associate primarily with other deaf people. Those type of deaf people identify themselves as being part of the Deaf culture (with a capital D). I am deaf (with a little d). I seldom am around other deaf people instead I choose to live primarily in the hearing world. It is not that I don’t accept my deafness (it is impossible to not do that) but more of how my deafness doesn’t control my life.

2) How long have you been deaf? What caused the condition to start? How did you react and deal with the period when your hearing was slipping away?

I could fill a book with answers to these questions. I started going deaf in my early college years in the mid 1960s. My conditions has a long medical term but is basically that my cochlea have filled with cartilage replacing the liquid there that is critical for balance and hearing. It is supposed to be inherited but I can’t find anyone in our recent family history who was deaf. Go figure...

My hearing slipped gradually away between the time I was about twenty until I lost it all at the age of forty-two. At first it was only in one ear and I managed to easily cope. It bothered my roommate in college more than me. You see, I worked my way through college in a dormitory cafeteria. One year I ran the breakfast meal and had to get up every morning around 4:30am. When I ended up on my right side during that magical hour I never heard the alarm going off. My roommate had to jump down off the top bunk and shake me to wake up.

When I started losing my hearing in my good ear things started changing rather dramatically. I wore varying strengths of hearing aids for about fifteen years until they were no longer effective. During the last year I would wake up every morning and put in my hearing aid to see if I could hear that day or not. It was a guessing game. That was the most stressful part of my life. It was almost a relief to finally lose that last shred of hearing.  

3) How has the loss of hearing effected your retirement in terms of relationships and friendships, your marriage, what you choose to do to stay active and involved, like being involved with the soup kitchen?

My retirement years came more than twenty years after complete deafness so not a lot changed. But, like most I suppose, when I retired I went from being constantly around dozens of people everyday to primarily just my wife and I. That is a shock for many of us but it was a double whammy for me. Casual friendships are simply not easy, I might even say nearly impossible, for a deaf person in the hearing world. Chit chat is a normal part of most people’s lives and it is usually the beginning stages of friendship. Without it making friends is hard work for both me and my potential future friend. I’m not saying they don’t happen but they are rather rare. So, when I am asked what do I miss the most about not being able to hear I surprise many by saying I miss chit-chat. 

When I proposed to my wife more than twenty five years ago I told her I would very likely be deaf in the not too distant future and would understand if she refused my proposal. Instead she simply said “well then we better get started learning sign language”. I broke down in tears with her response and we did indeed get started learning signing soon after we were married. 

As far as [my volunteer work at] the soup kitchen goes I kind of fell into that in various degrees. At first it was doing the dishes and then that progressed over the years to doing all the meal preparations a couple of days a week. The friendships with the staff there was an ongoing process. Most there, both volunteers and customers, know I am deaf and over the years we have broken the communications barrier with hand written notes, gestures and whatever it takes.

That in deaf circles is know as “Total Communications”;using whatever is best for a given situation. There is one friend who comes often for lunch who knows some sign language. We always have a little chat; that means a lot to me and I think to him also. 

4) During a typical day, are you constantly aware of your situation or does it take something out of the ordinary to remind you, “oh yeah, they don’t know I can’t hear them.” 

When I spend the days here at the homestead I rarely think about my deafness. My wife and I fairly effortlessly communicate with each other. We even have arguing down pat in sign language. Since I have managed to maintain a pretty good speaking voice (but don’t ask me to sing) I talk and she signs so most of the burden is on her. It is funny in that regard, when we do go to functions and such with other deaf people I have to tell my wife what they are signing as she doesn’t see signing often and she has to sign for me to them as I don’t physically sign much myself. 

But, whenever I go out into the “world” I am constantly made aware that I can’t hear. That gets tiring but it is just something I just deal with. I always carry a small pad of paper and a pencil wherever I go but you would be surprised at the number of people who refuse to use them! They simply can’t understand that I can’t hear them since I still speak fairly clearly. I have become pretty good at anticipating questions people will ask in different situations. So, even though I am not a particularly good lip reader I can usually figure out what they say and respond correctly. Usually but not by any means always.

5) Normal parts of American society, like ordering at a drive-through, seeing a movie or performance, watching TV…what adjustments must you make? 

I am a techie so I have all kinds of tools around to help me cope but drive-throughs have long been a thing of the past for me. There are a few movie theaters in major cities that have a captioning system but I have never tried them. I just wait for it to come out in DVD. The movie “Lincoln” is one I am anxiously waiting for now. Closed captioned TV has been around for about twenty years now and is available on all new TVs so I have full access to most programs now. It took the Americans With Disabilities Act signed in 1990 to make captioning mandatory. The quality of captions varies somewhat depending on whether the show hires “on the cheap” and therefore produces poor captions.
I wake up to light now instead of sound. A light flashes over the bed at the given hour. I have  flashers in the shop and barn to let me know if I have left something on before I lock up for the day. Of course texting has brought me the capability of now communicating away from home. There are tools out there for most any situation. 

6) What words of encouragement or reality-checks would you offer to someone who is in the same situation as you, or dealing with some other limitation? Are there both specific and general thoughts you can share? 

When I went deaf I initially thought it was the end of the world for me. My ear doctors basically told me to go away as they couldn’t help me any longer. It took quite a bit of searching to find organizations to help me cope. One of the first was ALDA (Association of Late Deafened Adults). This group showed me that I was not alone in the world. They showed me that there is indeed life after deafness. Although I don’t have much contact with them anymore they were a life saver when I needed them.  

If there is such a thing as a good time to go deaf it is now. There are numerous tools for coping and the Internet is usually just a google away from giving you a list. Cochlear Implants which is a medical/technology procedure actually allows many who are deaf to hear again. Unfortunately my particular brand of deafness can’t be helped by it but it is quite successful for many. There are now tools to help cope with many different situations. Harris Communications puts out a good catalog of products. Due to limited use they aren’t cheap but... 

In some ways most handicaps are the same. They put obstacles in our path to normal living. The main thing I would say about this is that life goes on after the handicap. Even Helen Keller who was both deaf and blind went on to a very satisfying life. I can’t imagine being both blind and deaf! Don’t think it is the end of the world if tragedy strikes you in this regard. The Lord gives us the strength to cope. In some ways I think my life is even fuller now than it would have been if I had not gone deaf so many years ago. If nothing else it gave me a good dose of humility. (ha)

7) What haven’t I asked that is important to you to talk about?  

Being that your blog is primarily about seniors and retirement the one thing that still needs mentioning is the number of seniors who lose their hearing and do nothing about it. That is truly tragic when there are so many aids available. Let me give you some statistics about that. About 20% (one in five) people who are deaf were born deaf. They are known as pre-lingually deaf. 80% were like me and went deaf later in life. About 60% of that 80% went deaf after the age of sixty. In other words the largest group of deaf are senior citizens. Unfortunately the majority of this senior group won’t seek help. They for the most part simply slip into the background of life.

If I were to give any advice to family of these seniors it would be to get the person with hearing loss help even if they insist they don’t want it. Get them a captioned telephone, Teach them how to turn on the captions on their TVs. Get them to an audiologist to see if hearing aids are possible. Get a book and teach them some signs. Don’t let them simply go off on their own. When you have family or other group gatherings make sure that notepads are strewn around the area and encourage everyone to use them to “talk” with the hearing challenged person. When the group is having a discussion assign someone to write notes about what is being said. Keep the person involved. Just don’t let the person drop out of everyday life! That is a tragic way to end their years and totally unnecessary.

This post is longer than normal, but his thoughts are too important for me to edit them to make them shorter. His feedback is about deafness but applies to anything that holds us back or keeps us from trying something. As he notes, we all have some form of handicap to deal with but life goes on.

My deep appreciation to RJ for the time he took to answer my questions. My deep admiration for his forthright approach to living a satisfying retirement no matter what life throws at him.

The blogs of his that I read on a regular basis are RJ's corner and RedLetter Living.

March 22, 2013

Prison Ministry: What Does It Accomplish?

Based on comments left on other Satisfying Retirement posts I know there is continuing interest in the work I do for a local prison ministry organization. The world of prisons and inmates is one I only knew through movies, news stories, and "common knowledge" about those who find their way into prison. I did know that the United States has both the highest percentage of its citizens behind bars and the highest crime rate in the world.

It would seem those two statistics shouldn't go together. But because they do it implies that the time spent locked up isn't turning enough inmates into productive members of society. With 69% of all of those released from prisons and jails returning within 3 years, it seems rather obvious that the penal system is good at locking people but not helping them.

Once freed, these men and women are often put in a position where failure is almost guaranteed. Over 12,000 inmates are released every single week in this country. That is 650,000 a year. They are set free with virtually no money, with only the clothes on their back, and little skill training, into a society that treats them as eternally guilty. Many apartments won't rent housing to an ex-con. Getting hired is very difficult when employers see the giant time gap on the resume or are told of the jail sentence. Some states deny food stamps or Medicaid coverage to these people.

So, with no money, no reasonable expectation of getting a job quickly, and very few willing to house, feed, clothe, or treat sickness, why are we surprised that nearly 7 in 10 end up back behind bars? Obviously, there are plenty of released inmates who will go back to their old habits because that is all they know. Maybe it is the only way they can survive. Many have drug or anger issues that were ignored during their time in prison. So, inevitably the same behavior begins anew.

I'm providing this review to help someone understand why I have become involved in trying to reverse this trend, one person at a time. Are there men and women who should stay behind bars? Sure. Do many inmates get released with little chance at avoiding failure? Yes, of course they do. But, there are those people who made a mistake, have paid the price society demanded, and want a fresh start. That's where prison volunteers and outside mentors become invaluable.

Many of these folks had a rough childhood. Physical or sexual abuse, a home without a stable father, a single mom on drugs or entertaining "boyfriends"...these are the typical childhoods for many of the men I meet. While that isn't always an excuse, it helps us understand what went wrong at a  young age.

My involvement is through a Phoenix-based Christian organization, Alongside Ministries. It provides in-prison and out-of-prison counseling, support, and accommodations for men and women who go through a rigorous program of Bible study and goal setting during the last year of incarceration. While the program doesn't promise a successful reentry into society, the odds are greatly increased. Prisoners are carefully interviewed and screened before joining the program. Only one in five is accepted.

Each person in the program is assigned a mentor, for both inside and outside prison guidance. That mentor is someone selected to help the inmate stay focused on goals, and stay strong in the face of disappointment and obstacles.

The mentor will visit the person twice a month for face-to-face support while their mentee is still in prison. Once released, the mentor and mentee will talk several times a week, and spend time together at least once a week. Most ex-cons are still under parole for several months upon their release so there is a requirement to report to the parole officer a few times a month.

Frankly, whether a man or woman succeeds, stays free, and restarts a life worth living is really dependent on that person's will power, strength of faith, a changed heart and character. He or she must want to avoid the people and situations that resulted in jail time.  

A mentor can be a help, but can't prevent someone from making mistakes. It can be frustrating and infuriating when you see someone making decisions that will cause problems. Even so, the time spent is usually rewarding and gratifying. The chance to be even a small part of helping someone turn his life around makes the risk worthwhile.

I've had my share of failures, but keep coming back for more. Even for those men who leave the program early or end up back in prison, maybe my time with them will pay off the next time they are freed. Maybe not. But, my faith requires me to persevere, so I do.

Volunteering for prison ministry may be impracticable or just too far outside your comfort zone for you to do what I do. I understand completely. Going inside prison walls still freaks me out. But, there is someplace that can use you and someone who needs you, whatever your skills and abilities.

Give of your time and love and you will get back more than you can ever imagine.

March 18, 2013

Music: Is There Anything New Worth Hearing?

The Grammy Awards a few weeks ago made it crystal clear to me that my music knowledge and growth stopped about 30 years ago. For someone who spent his life in radio hanging out with recording artists and staying on top of all the new music, this is a depressing realization. Play any rock song from the late 1950's through the mid 1980's and I can name it in 3 notes. Play any song after that and I am pretty much lost.

Not being one who is content to become an old geezer who complains about the quality of music today ( I sound like my parents!) I am making a concerted effort to find new artists I enjoy. I am absolutely sure they are out there. I just have to stop listening to The 60s on 6 or Classic Vinyl on XM radio. I am not trying to be hip, I'm just trying to find new music to like.

I asked my 32 year old daughter to recommend some artists. I printed out a list of the award winners and nominees for the Grammys. I have started listening to The Pulse channel on satellite radio. I looked at the most popular downloads on iTunes.

Guess what...there is some really good music being made today! The instrumentation, vocal and lyrical qualities, and technical production techniques are very engaging. This may not come as a shock to you, but for someone who views the Beatles as the last group to create memorable music, this is a big deal.

So, what I have done is include several YouTube clips of some artists I found who I like. What do you think?


Any newer artists you have found that make you smile whenever you hear their songs on the radio or Internet? Suggest away.

March 13, 2013

At Home With Bailey: It's Been A Year Already

On March 6, 2012, Bailey became part of our life. After a three month search in Phoenix, and eventually on-line, we found her in Missouri. The money was paid, shipping arrangements set up, and an 8 week old Cocker-King Charles mix was on her way.

We had several dogs before Bailey but our home had been petless for several years. Retirement and the freedom to come and go with few responsibilities lead us to decide against adding a puppy. Then, for some reason in late 2011 the idea of a dog struck both Betty and me as a great idea.

Yes, we'd lose some of the ability to just pick up and go. Our home would go from being baby-proofed for the grandkids to being doggie-proofed for Bailey. The long-sealed off doggie door in the laundry room would have to be pried back open. Cleaning stains on the carpet and poop pickups in the backyard would go back on our to-do list. Training classes would be needed.

Our life hasn't been the same since. Bailey has added a missing ingredient back into our home - a rambunctious, fun-loving, cuddle-crazy pet. True, she hasn't been cheap. Between the purchase price, the vet bills, food, supplies, toys, and shots she added over $1,600 to our expenses in the first 9 months. But, not for one second have we regretted the cost.

She continues to bark at sounds only she can hear. Even if one of us is gone for only 30 minutes upon our return she still gets so excited she leaps all over the furniture, yelps in joy, and then has a little nervous piddle. I don't think she will go outside to do her business when we are gone for fear of missing our return. But, she doesn't have accidents anymore so she must have a strong bladder!

She tries to catch birds in the backyard and fails every time - but keeps trying. Other dogs make her nervous enough she still barks and tries to hide behind us. If one of us walks to the side yard where the RV is parked she makes a beeline for the motor home's door to make sure we don't leave on a trip without her.

At night she jumps up into bed and positions herself so her legs touch one of us and her head the other. After we wake up, go downstairs and take her to the doggie door so she can do her business, she curls up on the couch and slowly, very slowly, wakes up to begin her day.

Throwing the same toy 30 times across the room doesn't bore her, it thrills her. If one of us mentions her name her ears perk up and she gives us that doggie stare that asks if something exciting is about to happen.

Bailey has done well on the three short RV trips we have taken so far. The big test comes in April when we leave town for over 3 weeks. How will she fare? How will we do? That is for another post.

There have been some struggles. I think being shipped to Phoenix on a plane at 8 weeks stressed her rather severely. To this day she remains nervous. In fact, we have her on special calming pills for dogs to help her be less fearful. But, even a slamming cabinet door will give her the shakes.

She is the pickiest eater, ever. We went to the vet just last week to get some guidance. Dog food, whether dry or wet, doesn't interest her much. At the moment she eats lots of boiled chicken. Sliced cheese remains our go-to food to wrap up vitamins so she gets the proper nutrients.

She seems to produce too much stomach acid overnight which causes her to throw up some bile once a week or so. The vet wants us to give her Pepcid AC to see if that helps her acidic stomach.

But, even with those problems Bailey has enriched our life, re-taught us patience, and blessed us with the type of adoration and unconditional love only a dog can offer. Our satisfying retirement is better for it.

One year together and here's hoping for many more. Happy anniversary, Bailey.

March 11, 2013

Put out to pasture

On the west side of Tucson is Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Home to the 355th Wing,  this air base continues as an active training and support facility. It is also a storage facility for literally hundreds and hundreds of planes that have been pulled from service. Every type of military aircraft sits in neat rows, stretching for miles. To get a sense for how big this is, you have to drive by it. But, since that is impractical for most, watch this short video. Be sure to stick around for the last 30 seconds and try to count the planes:

Why are they here? My information is that parts are used to keep other planes flying. Some are sold to other countries that want the type of aircraft offered or need the parts for their own planes. And, of course, while 20, 30, even 50 years old, these aircraft could be made air worthy and fly again for the Air Force. What struck me as I drove down Kolb Road in Tucson and saw all these "retired" planes were the parallels to our own retirement.

For some of us, feeling "mothballed" after an active life becomes a problem. Just as these aircraft served their country for many years, we worked hard at whatever we did to be able to invest and save enough to be able to stop working. But, what happens next is really key. Without work do we feel sort of like an out of service airplane, put away with no real function? Do we sit in the Arizona (or Florida) sunshine waiting for.......?

Or, are we allowing our "parts" to keep functioning. As noted, these stored aircraft often have a second life. Their parts are used to keep other planes flying or they may be sold. They can be used for training purposes. The fact that they aren't being flown every day the way they used to be doesn't make them worthless. It just makes how they are used different.

A satisfying retirement is very similar. This phase of life has the same highs and lows, pros and cons, disappointments and joys as any other time of life. It offers the same opportunities to learn, grow, contribute, and make a difference. Attitude has a tremendous effect on the level of success at this time of life. If you view your productive life as over, in effect, put out to pasture, then that is probably how it will be.

I suggest we take a lesson from the planes sitting on those acres of tarmac in Tucson. If they were worthless it is likely they would have been turned into scrap a long time ago. But, as the video mentions, this part of the Air Force actually makes money for the government. These aging, pulled from service, past their prime machines have enough value for the Air Force to spend many millions of dollars to protect and guard them.

No matter our age or our current station in life we have value. Our job is to scrape off any dust, reinflate our tires, and figure out what we have to offer.

Heavens knows the world needs our wisdom and help.

March 3, 2013

A Small Goal Achieved

Life is an interesting journey of highs and lows, successes and failures, satisfactions and disappointments. Sometimes what happens are major events that can change the direction or shape of your life overnight. Other times, something occurs which is small in scope, but satisfying nevertheless.

This is a report of something small, or more accurately, smaller. Over the past few months I have been taking my belt in a notch or two. My jeans were feeling loose and more baggy than usual. Older men tend to lose their butts so I just chalked it up to one of the joys of aging. But, I had been a bit more careful about how much I was eating though I hadn't really been making a major effort to lose weight; that never seems to work for me anyway. Maybe more than a shrinking backside was at work.

So, last week after complaining about how my pants were fitting, Betty suggested I try a smaller waist size. Well, I've been a 38" waist for probably 15 or more years. I hadn't thought it is possible to actually go to something smaller. I figured I'm a 38 and that's what it will be.

But, I gave it a shot and did one of my least favorite things: clothes shopping. Lo and behold I fit into a pair of 36" jeans. It didn't look like 10 pounds of Bob in a 5 pound bag! The pants fit.  A life changer? No. Satisfying? Yes.

I saved the larger jeans, though I've read someplace I should toss them so I can't go back. I looked at the other pants hanging in my closet and realized this means I have to replace 8 pairs of pants. Oh well, there is a cost to anything worth while.

This rather insignificant event in my life is not something worthy of a post, except for the somewhat larger message: little things can mean a lot. Our satisfying retirement is made up of things that happen to us, because of us, for us, and in spite of us. There is nothing wrong in celebrating the smallest joys. In fact, because little things happen much more often than the big stuff, if you celebrate the every day victories you will likely have much more joy and happiness in your life.

Examples? All the corn in the microwave bag popped, the paper was actually thrown out of the rain this morning, the dog didn't bark at the UPS driver, you finished the book that has been on your night stand since Christmas (of 2011), and the dry cleaners didn't ruin that expensive outfit.

There are lots of small victories to savor. I choose to dwell on them rather than the irritants. Call it denial. I call it satisfying.