Drops Of Wisdom

It has been raining in Los Angeles for a few days and it is wonderful. We needed it so much; we're having a serious drought here in California, if you haven't heard. I am so happy when it's raining. Of course it's best to be at home with not a lot to do except listen the patter of the droplets hitting the roof, but even if I have to navigate the outside world and wear waterproof gear, I still love it.

The rain means so many things to so many people. If you have ever been to the Pacific Northwest, all those people ever want to talk about is the rain. Too much of a good thing, I guess. Folks from Oregon and Washington are fixated on the last day they got sunshine. Yet their air is clean and everything around them is green and beautiful. I think that rain is so soothing and refreshing. I sleep the best when it's raining.

Here in Southern California, there are so many people who moved here to get away from bad weather, they just don't see the romance that sprinkles can bring. These same folks are obsessed with the weather reports and can't wait to tell anyone who will listen that rain is coming like it's some horrible monster that is coming to invade the planet.

Think of all the songs that talk about rain. Precipitation has captured the imagination of songwriters for ages. Whether the song is comparing raindrops to teardrops or talking about rain as a backdrop to a romantic moment, the rain coming down is powerful and emotional.

I think there are two kinds of people. The rain haters who find the whole experience a nuisance. Rain to them is annoying. They avoid getting wet at all costs and have an umbrella at the ready if there is even the slightest whisper about rain in the weather forecast. Then there's the rain lovers like yours truly. The prediction of rain conjures up visions of Gene Kelly dancing and makes me start thinking about making some good soup. Some well-known person who's name escapes me... I think it might be Longfellow or maybe Bob Marley who once said "some people walk in the rain, others just get wet." Amen! That's what I'm talking about...

Rain makes me smile and go to a happy place, but I completely understand feeling the other way. I remember a time when my kids were growing up that our roof was on its last legs. We didn't have the money to replace it. Every threat of rain required my husband and I to get on a ladder and put these bright blue tarps on the "iffy" sections of our roof, most of which were completely visible from the street. We would place bricks at the edges to keep the tarps in place. Aesthetically it was awful, but it was all we could do. Every time we had to put up the blue "roof condoms", as I affectionately called them, I felt sorry for my neighbors. During one particularly brutal rain storm, we were all sitting at the dinner table when suddenly the wind blew hard and the next thing we knew water came gushing out of the ceiling light fixture 10 feet away like an upside-down geyser. The kids thought it was thrilling. The very next day, we went to the bank and borrowed the money for a new roof. But even then, I still loved the rain... just not in my living room.

I know some of my readers who aren't mad for rain are thinking that I am crazy. Others of you may be certain of it at this point. You can write to me and tell me all the reasons that rain is awful. I can take it! On this subject it impossible to rain on my parade. Sorry, I couldn't resist. No matter what you say about the rain, I am telling you right up front that you will lose.

Sure, people drive stupid when the streets are wet, but chances are they drive stupid in all weather. Just be extra careful. I admit that it's hard for a girl to keep a decent hairdo going when it's raining. Coiffures go limp, curly hair goes crazy frizzy and when my baby fine blond hair gets rained on, I look like a bald-headed woman. I understand that the ground gets muddy and that it's hard to get to your parked car when the water is up to the curb. And yes, it always seems to rain the day after you get your car washed. So, go back and get a rain check (hence the name). Rain is not always convenient, but life isn't always convenient either. So, after all the reasons I have mentioned, why will you never convince me that rain is anything but wondrous?

Rainbows, my darlings... rainbows.


My Darlings

It's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and I am all mushy and squishy with thoughts of tomorrow. I am not cooking this year, so it will be a relaxing day for me. I am looking so forward to it. I decided to write you a letter instead of an article this week. You all are so busy with stuffing turkeys and eating and shopping, you wouldn't even have time to read it.

It's that most wonderful time of the year when Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the bookends to 4 great days of shopping for crazy good bargains. I used to be out there at O Dark Thirty with all the other crazies, but I am an online girl for the most part these days. I never want these love letters of mine to sound like a commercial for LoveFifi.com, but I will say we have some great stuff at some stupid cheap prices. I guarantee you will have fun when you are not at the mall shopping for bargain undies IN your undies. Good times!

I wish you everything wonderful tomorrow and always. We should always give thanks for our gifts in this life and there is nothing that brings that home more than being with family and friends. It doesn't get better than being with the ones you love. I will get up when I wake up which is a luxury in itself. I will brew a perfect cup of coffee and sit with my doggies and watch the Macy's parade. It's corny, but it's tradition... and I love tradition.

We are going to a fine restaurant. We started doing this about 5 years ago and it has been great. It's not home cooking, but it is really good. There is no getting up at dawn to stuff a bird, no worries about timing all the side dishes perfectly, no dishes and no mess. There are also no leftovers, so I always cook a turkey breast and dressing at home. I don't buy a pumpkin pie for my house because that would not be wise. I would eat it all and never confess. Only my hips and bottom would tell the truth. I will buy the cranberry sauce with the whole cranberries in it. Nobody else in my family likes that one so now I can be a rebel and NOT buy the jellied one. So I will have turkey sandwiches, which is the best part of Thanksgiving food, if you ask me.

Have a beautiful holiday and get your shopping done. I will be decorating this weekend. I like my Christmas wonderland to be up for as long as possible. It takes me forever to put it up and it takes me even longer to take it all down. It really shoots the hell out of February.

Before I say goodbye for now, I think I will tell you a big secret about me. I may have mentioned it before, but it is certainly in keeping with the spirit of this holiday. When I was 6, my first grade teacher asked each one of us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Without hesitation, I answered "a pilgrim". My teacher smiled and never let on that my dream was pretty impossible. She then asked me why. Again, with great conviction, I told her it was because I liked their outfits with the stiff hats and the big buckles on their shoes. Isn't it ironic that I wanted to wear clothes that covered every inch of skin, yet I ended up designing and selling apparel that doesn't cover up much? My sister has always cracked up every time she thinks about me wanting to be a pilgrim. OK, so I wasn't a big thinker at 6 and it never occurred to me that this wasn't a real job. Still, my sister finds my early aspirations hilarious. This from a woman who wanted to be a mermaid.


A Loss Of Words

My panties are in a huge knot right now. Of course they are LoveFifi.com panties and they will be like new again after I have my say.

Here goes. I met a man at a friend's dinner party. He is attractive, accomplished, very well spoken and unmarried. We talked the evening away and there was truly a connection. It was nice. He asked for my phone number and email address and I obliged. I was surprised at myself. I have mentioned before that I loathe dating, especially that first one. I find going to my accountant for my yearly tax appointment more enjoyable than most first dates. But since the dinner party kind of got all that out of the way, I threw caution to the wind and gave him my contact information. After all, a handsome man with such impressive credentials, a sense of humor, the ability to speak knowledgeably on so many subjects may be the treasure of a man I had given up trying to find.

The next day I received a text message from Mr. Fabulous that said. "How r u? IMHO last night was GR8! I will call u tonight. xoxo PQ". I stared at this damn text in complete disbelief. How could so few words say so much about a person? "How r u?" Really? He is so busy he doesn't have time to write "are you". If he doesn't have time for four extra letters, could he have time for me? Now IMHO baffled me completely. It looked like some new medical insurance category like a PPO or an HMO, but that didn't make sense. Thank goodness for the Internet. I soon found out that it stood for "in my humble opinion" in texting-speak. I got the "last night was GREAT" part without looking anything else up. And he finished up his message by flattering my existence once again by referring to me as "u".

Did some 14-year-old skate boarder kidnap my my articulate and successful new friend, Peter Quigley, and is now writing to me in his stead as some kind of sick prank? This guy earned an MBA and owns a successful consulting firm. He obviously enjoyed my company because he stuck to me like glue and wrote me the very next morning. But this mish-mash of goofy acronyms and abbreviated words left me disappointed and completely bewildered as to how to write back.

I like the English language. I like communication. I don't want to have to refer to some new age cyber glossary to try to figure out what he is saying. I realize that he thinks it's young and techie cute to speak in shortcuts and acronyms, but it really put me off. There are enough acronyms already in our language and for the most part, they make sense. They were created for efficiency not laziness.

Acronyms like these below were totally necessary. Too scientific to remember the whole thing!

SCUBA Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

RADAR Radio Detection and Ranging

LASER Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation

JPEG Joint Photographic Experts Group

ZIP (Code) Zone Improvement Plan

Acronyms like these are forgivable because they get the point across quickly and are succinct. Very efficient, I would say.

DIY Do It Yourself

ETA Estimated Time of Arrival

AKA Also Known As

TBA To Be Announced

ATM Automated Teller Machine

RIP Rest In Peace

I am not offended when someone asks for my ID, or wants to know if they can use my PC or complains that their car keys are MIA. All are acceptable modern additions to our language. But when some man tries to woo me in a short text by making it even shorter and requires me to decode what he has to say, it makes me crazy. This guy graduated from HARVARD with honors. It so distresses me that people don't realize that taking these shortcuts is not flattering to the person on the receiving end, unless you are a teenager. I am not a teenager and I am going to stick to my infatuation with whole words and complete sentences. And I would also like to mention that many school districts in this country are no longer teach cursive writing. No more handwriting; you heard me.

There is no rhyme or reason to this epidemic of whittling down perfectly easy phrases to type. OK, I can live with LOL. It's cute enough to stay. But if you want to thank me very much, please refrain from typing TYVM. I can guarantee that I put effort into what I did for you and I deserve better. If I made your day better, please don't text me YMMD. It wouldn't feel as good as you spelling it all out.

So what am I going to tell the man who so romantically refers to me as "u"? I wrote to him in a way that is the complete opposite of what he wrote to me. I emailed him for one thing. I started with "Hello Peter". I channeled my Emily Bronte self and wrote lovely, ladylike complete sentences without an acronym to be found. I signed it "Warmest Regards, Fifi"

I've gotten nothing back so far, but my guess is that he either won't "get" it or won't like it. Whichever is fine with me. If he replies to my email and sounds like the man that I met at my friends house, then there may be something there between us. If he sends me another one of those "too cool for school" abbreviations-from-Hell texts, I probably will not ever reply.

Whew... My panties are officially unknotted and I am breathing normally once again.

P.S. If I am ever lost and you are on my search team, if you see this from the air, please disregard everything I just said.


Nap Dance

I just returned from the most fabulous road trip vacation. My sister did all the driving and I was the navigator. It was all so perfect, yet I returned home completely exhausted. One of these days I am going to go away and do nothing but relax, contemplate my navel and return home revived and refreshed. I was pretty stymied as to why I was so dog tired when I got home. I honestly did nothing but have a wonderful time. We got up when we wanted and we did our sightseeing at our own pace. No pressure. No place we had to be at a certain time. Our biggest decisions each day were what we felt like eating and what we felt like seeing. Life was aimless and mindless and delicious, yet we came back feeling like our Cousin Clint’s 18-wheeler had run us over. We saw him and his lovely wife, Millie, on our trip and it was the best. Clint is an avid reader of my articles and I am so grateful to him for his love and loyalty. It feels so good to have a fan even if he is a relative. He doesn't have to read this stuff at all and he does!

Anyway, Sister and I returned on a Friday and even though I had fully intended to unpack, do laundry, catch up with the mail and try to explain my absence to my traumatized dogs and give them quality time, I only got the latter accomplished. It was then that I realized why I was so freaking tired. I had gone nearly 2 weeks without a single nap. Yes, I nap. When I got divorced and started my life as a single woman, I discovered the true bliss of napping. On a typical Saturday I would rise early, get my chores and errands done and when I arrived back home in the early afternoon, there were these two furry babies waiting at the back door for me. They had their "where in the hell have you been?" sad faces going on. I learned a long time ago that the best way for me to make it up to them for being gone for 4 hours is to head for the bedroom for cuddling time. I would fall off to sleep and they would guard me and keep the flying monkeys away. It was heaven and when I awoke in the late afternoon, I was a new Fifi. I could hit the ground running and actually have a night life. What a revelation this was. What a life changer! Before this cathartic moment, my last nap was on a mini cot in Mrs. Gordon's kindergarten class. Funny how something that used to seem like punishment when I was 5 is a guilty pleasure as a grown up. I have to thank Twinkie and Beau for showing me the way.

If there was a Pro-napping Movement, I'd be at the front of the parade. This habit has completely changed this girl and made it very clear that I need my naps, even on vacation. We had fun non-stop on our trip, but I didn't get one nap in along the way. I couldn't doze while Sister was driving; that wouldn't be fair and plus... I had a job to do. I was the navigator, the DJ and the one in charge of opening the Cheese Doodles. And if I WERE to fall asleep, my sister would have nudged me and told me that it was OK because she was planning on taking a nap too... without stopping the car. It's kind of our little joke.

The practice of napping isn't just for babies and geezers anymore. Presidents of the United States and captains of industry have long ducked out into private quarters for a mid-day nap; they just fancied it up by calling it a POWER NAP. I must admit that when I plan to stay late at LoveFifi.com, I sometimes sneak off to my private Fifi cave and grab a little power nap. The best part is that I have fantastic support from some of the most important members of my company. See Below.


Branching Out

For the last 10 days I have had the luxury of sitting in the passenger seat of a very fancy SUV and watching the world go by. My sister did all the driving from Atlanta to Cleveland, where we arrived a few hours ago. We took our time along the way and stopped wherever we felt like stopping. Our route took us through two national parks, miles of pastoral scenery, alongside placid lakes and rushing rivers. I saw a million postcard-worthy views of this beautiful country. I had time to get lost in my thoughts and come down from a life at home that is wonderful, but often crazy busy and jam-packed with stress. Every day has been both an adventure and a dream. The whole trip was planned out perfectly so all we had to do was show up to our next destination and enjoy the sights in between. We shopped, we antiqued, we dined at local eateries and we took in the points of interest at our own pace.

If all that wasn't blissful enough, sister and I got lots of time together in the car to talk. Between the oohs and aahs of appreciation for the exquisite scenery, we talked and planned and even schemed a bit. We kept the CD player playing our favorite songs and we snacked on goodies we don't indulge in often. Skittles never tasted so good. We got up in the morning whenever we woke up. No alarms, no wake up calls. We followed our whims and did what we felt like doing. After over a week of living like this I can truthfully say that being irresponsible is highly underrated.

This is a trip I will never forget for many reasons. I think my brain and my body have finally learned to truly relax. Sitting there and appreciating the wonders of nature while traveling down the road with no demands on my time has been so good for me. All I had to do was suck in all the beauty of my surroundings and let my mind run with it. And that's just what I did.

From the moment that we hit the road, I have marveled at the trees. It's fall, so the trees along the way were particularly spectacular. The more trees I saw, the more I thought about them. No matter where we traveled, the trees were amazing. I thought about how long it took them to grow to be so tall and grand. I thought about the significance of trees in our lives. They shade us from the heat, they give texture and beauty to every landscape, they make a brilliant playground for kids and squirrels and their trunks provide a permanent monument for lovers carving their words of undying love.

This trip has opened up these green eyes to so much and I am so grateful for the experience. I have even seen the true meaning of what Brenda Bettencourt wrote in huge writing on the first page of my high school yearbook. I was a little insulted at the time but now realize what a fantastic compliment she gave me.

"Remember the mighty oak tree was once a nut like you."

These words are now music to my ears. Thank you Brenda for likening me to something so awesome.


Minimal Husbandry

I don't think it's any secret that I am divorced. I take care of everything myself or at least that's what people think. My house is in good order. Nothing is broken or in disrepair. My garden is lovely. My car is well-maintained. My finances are orderly. How do I do all this and still run LoveFifi.com? I couldn't do it without my husbands. That's right, my husbands... plural. Yes, I am indeed divorced. I was married for a very long time to a good man who honestly was best at making a living. He couldn't fix a thing. He didn't know a socket wrench from a screwdriver and had no desire to learn, so I figured out early on that if something broke, it was my job to find someone who could do the repair and not cost a fortune. It was kind of that way with everything. He was very important, so I took care of maintaining our life. I also had a career and a truck load of kids to take care of but I am not complaining. Actually in a weird way, my marriage prepared me for being single and on my own at this time of my life.

Back to my husbands. When you are in charge of a lot of "departments" let's call them, such as when running a household, you have to have a team of people that you can rely on at a moment's notice. I was always on the lookout for honest and talented people who could do the things we couldn't. I asked a lot of questions, nosed around a bit, and before long, I had quite a repertoire of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers who could take care of our needs. It got to the point that I had a killer list of plumbers, electricians, gardeners, handy guys and more who were tested and had my seal of approval. I was Angie's List long before Angie ever thought of it. If somebody I know needed a dependable person to fix or build something, or a good affordable mechanic or a tree trimmer, they would call me. The one thing that I was always most grateful for was that even when these guys got super busy because of my recommendations, they always took care of me and my family immediately.

Then comes 2007. I get a divorce. I buy a place of my own in another neighborhood. I am alone. It's not like I was married to a handyman and went through "fix it" shock as I was now used to finding someone else to do it. It turned out to be a blessing that I was married to the unhandiest man in the universe and it was then that I realized that I held the key to a happy life as a single woman. So once again, as I settled into my new life and my new home, I found talented and reliable guys to take care of the things that I can't do or don't care to do. Once I find someone great, I add them to my list, but this time I don't share them with the world. What I do is take care of them. I always offer coffee, cold drinks and food when one of my wonderful workers is doing something for me. I turn sports on the TV in every room in the house. They like to fix things for me and make me happy just like a husband does. That's what I have been told, but I have never been involved with a man who could fix anything so I wouldn't know for sure. But in apple pie America, that's what I hear goes on in homes.

So I affectionately call these men my husbands. It takes a lot of them doing everything really well to make me happy. No one man could ever come close and it works out well. I have my Handy Man Husband, Pete. He takes his coffee with heavy cream and two sugars. He has a key to my house and if something breaks, I can call him from work and he can fix it when I am not home. Sometimes I don't even see him and whatever it is gets fixed as if by magic. My Gardening Husband, Carlos (black coffee or Coca Cola... I stock both), not only trims, prunes, fertilizes my flowers, he fills up my bird feeders and waters for me when I am out of town. I have a Mechanic Husband, Sandy, who'd really like to be my husband, so I play it a little cooler with him. I don't know how he takes his coffee and I never will. I am just sweet and funny and give him lots of smiles and gratefulness. He has a giant crush on me and calls me personally to let me know when it's time for my car to be serviced. He has rescued me many times and done miracles so I wouldn't be without a vehicle. Believe it or not, I have a Manicure Husband, Kenny. Yep, the person who does my nails is a man. His beautiful wife Eve does my pedicures, so everything is Kosher. I do allow my husbands to have real wives, as long as they treat us both well. I have a Dog Groomer Husband, Jason. He delivers my dogs to me at the house if I need him too. I am his favorite customer because I have brought him a ton of business and he loves my dogs. I have a husband for every task a person has to endure to get things done. I don't know what collective noun you would use to describe my congregation of husbands. Well, it's a gaggle of geese, a pride of lions, a flush of ducks and a pod of whales. A herd of husbands, maybe?

Anyway, I am very well taken care of and I take very good care of my guys. All I need now is a husband husband who can devote his time to loving me, making me laugh, kissing me, hugging me and I will gladly do the same for him. And the good news is that he doesn't have to do much around the house. My husbands are all happily married, so I don't think much will change.

Honestly, finding a real husband for me is easier than finding, let's say... a good electrician. But finding a real husband would entail dating unless things have changed. I hate dating. You know, I think I will see if Angie can recommend a husband husband for me. Her recommendation service has come a long way and you never know.


Junk For Joy

The big garage sale extravaganza is over. After 3 weekends of hard labor to prepare the merchandise and stage all of our glorious crap, the big day finally arrived. Sister and I took a vacation day on Friday so we would be completely ready to face the crowds of bargain hunters on Saturday.

We advertised this as "the garage sale of the century" and the bargain hunters arrived in droves. Sister and I were dressed in proper attire for the event. You have to be easily identifiable as the bosses if you're going to make the best deals and the most money. Sissy and I exuded an "in charge" vibe with a touch badass thrown in, if I do say so myself. We were decked out in jeans, old concert t-shirts, cowboy hats and fanny packs. Ok, maybe we looked more like tourists from Texas, but people got it that we were running the show.

The customers dove into our merchandise and had arm loads of goodies in no time. It was amazing. You'd think we were giving it away for free. Actually, that is a pretty close to what they wanted to pay. One of the hottest items were the dozens of extra-plush, nearly new, (freshly washed) terry cloth bath towels. These weren't ours. We have a friend who's aunts neighbor died and she had a closet full of really deluxe towels in different color palettes that she would change around to suit her mood. We agreed to sell her stuff and take a cut of the proceeds. Every two minutes someone would hold up a towel and ask "how much?". "Two dollars each", I would reply thinking about what a great deal that was for such nice towels. Anyway, the reply from the prospective towel purchasers was always the same. "One dollar" and it was a statement, not a question. I was advised by many customers that they sell bath towels at Wal-Mart for only $2.50, so our towels were overpriced. I have watch too much QVC to let them get away comparing those towels with our fabulous, luxurious, dead-lady towels. I sprung into action and held up one of our towels then wrapped it around me to show how large they were. I then challenged them to feel the sumptuous thickness. I had to do this demo a bunch of times during the day, but we got two bucks for every one of those damn towels.

Garage sale customers are a breed of their own. One thing you can be sure of when you have one of these sales is that you will go through a laundry list of emotions. You will feel charmed, annoyed, sentimental, pissed off and amused. The folks that come to these things range from those who truly need basic household items, to the swap meeters who resell your junk, to recyclers who love other peoples used stuff to nut cases who don't need anything but love bargains. It is that latter philosophy that got sister and I into our current situation. Oh yeah, there's also the scrap gold guys who come around, look at your costume jewelry through a loop and leave in a huff. Love those jerks. One man even asked me if there was any real gold on the table. He was too lazy to look! I couldn't resist; I told him, in my best blonde "Clueless" voice, that I had just sold the bag of stuff that had 14k on it to someone who was just here. He left in a double huff.

Then there are the people who pretend they don't speak English. I had one lady who brought me a pile of clothes, many still brand new, and wanted to know the price for all. I counted out 25 hangers that I took from her. I was calculating in my head and trying to be fair. Even though the tags were still hanging off much of it, this stuff doesn't fit us and neither sister nor I are going to slim down 10 lbs to be able to wear any of it. That was the original plan. "Twenty dollars for everything," I said with a smile, thinking that she would be over the moon excited about all those new clothes for so little money. "Too much," she said with a scowl. She then flashed all the money she had, $15, and tried to get me to take it. I could see that she was playing me, so I made her take out some items and I took her money. She came back later and bought the other stuff. I felt triumphant as a business person. Then she pulled out a bag with two items from the first round that she wanted to exchange. Who does that? I let her. By then I was exhausted. She won.

There were so many neighborhood residents who came and told us how amazing our sale was. We sold lots of things to locals who will give our treasures a good home. We made a lot of people happy and all in all it was a very fun day. We got rid of so much stuff. Was it worth it? Was it a success?

Well, we made an impressive four figures. The pile of garage sale inventory is infinitely smaller, covered up and ready to go for when we do it one more time next month. My sister has her garage back and her car is happy. I need to mention that the friend that was going to help us bailed on us and we had to hire a helper. Also, after three weekends of manual labor our old bodies were in pretty bad shape, so we each had a long massage on Sunday. We were too tired to cook, so we ended up eating out most of the time for the last three weeks. So, was it a success? Hell yes! We made a little money and got rid of a ton of things we don't use. Best of all was that the two sisters got spend time together. We didn't whistle while we worked, but we yakked up a storm. We talked about everything and everyone and planned out all the great fun we're going to have in this life. And don't tell anyone, but each of us got to buy some fantastic things that we couldn't live without. The dead lady didn't just leave nice towels.