Bernie’s Mittens Do Good ... And Are So Soft!
It probably won't surprise you that Black ordered several pairs of "Bernie's mittens" soon after the Presidential Inauguration – not as a "fashion statement" (although they are!) but to support Make-A-Wish.
But we have to tell you … they recently arrived during the heat of Houston's summer (Black wasn't the only one interested in them, as there was a long backorder). And even Black, who doesn't typically wear mittens, thinks that they're wonderful. And Red's thrilled that Black ordered a few extra pairs as she's now the proud owner of the "softest mittens I've ever had."
To learn more, and maybe "entice" you to order your own pair, we're delighted to rerun "Bernie's Mittens Do Good" …
Bernie Sanders is now a fashion icon? Well, not quite, but his inaugural appearance warms the hands and the heart.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It was a truly historic inauguration that was memorable for so many reasons ...
But who would've guessed that Senator Bernie Sanders, showing up as if going out for a gallon of milk in a Vermont snowstorm, would've been a "quiet" sensation? Was it the outfit? Was it the attitude? Was it the posture in the chair? The answer's probably all of the above. (Curious about the photo that went viral? Check out this Rolling Stone interview of the photographer.)
Red was clueless that Bernie's mittens were taking on a life of their own, with the Vermont teacher who had made them from old sweaters being inundated with orders, until Black brought it to her attention. It's not a story you'd expect Black to follow, except there was a business angle as the teacher, Jen Ellis, was now teaming up with the Vermont Teddy Bear Company to bring them to the world. Plus, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of "Vermont Swittens" will go to Make-A-Wish Vermont. As soon as Red heard that, she knew the Make-A-Wish connection would've gotten Black's attention as she's been on the Board of the local chapter, Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast & Louisiana, for years (maybe decades) as well as having raised over a million dollars for the charity.
What Black didn't know though, was that the story had a connection to Red as well. When Red was growing up, but after Black had left for college, she'd go with her parents up to Vermont three to four times a year. Then, as Red got older, she continued to go to Vermont. At first by herself, and then sometimes with her husband as she dreamed of living in Vermont one day. It's a dream that she still sometimes thinks about. However, it definitely subsides when the weather in Texas dips below 40 degrees and she realizes it's probably below zero in Vermont!
It was on one of those trips, when visiting Burlington and a small town just south of there, called Shelburne, that Red discovered the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. It was love at first sight. Plush stuffed animals, a beautiful setting close to Lake Champlain, and even an in-house "doctor" that over the years mended more than a few of Red's favorite stuffed animals.
So, when Red heard that they were going to start making Bernie's mittens, aka Vermont Swittens, she couldn't get online fast enough to learn more and sign up for switten updates. And while Black may only buy them because of the Make-A-Wish connection, you can be sure that Red will be getting at least one pair as a reminder of not only how much she loved Vermont, but all the happy hours spent over many years at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company store.
Today’s a national holiday … for a reason. And although it may be a day of fun, festivities, and maybe even relaxation, it’s important to stop and think about the true meaning of the day …
We all “celebrate” Memorial Day differently, but we all should remember it’s a day to honor those who gave their lives serving this country.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, and Red remembers celebrating over the years with family get-togethers, barbeques, and pool parties; whereas Black “celebrates” most holidays by having a quiet day to work uninterrupted, but it’s important never to forget the significance of the holiday.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the festivities, but as a lover of history, I was fascinated to learn the history of Memorial Day goes back to the Civil War. But what’s most important is that we each find a way to remember that Memorial Day honors those men and women who’ve given their lives for this country.While Black believes,
Today is a day to put aside politics and think about patriotism. It is about gratitude. About sacrifice. About honoring those who paid the greatest price for believing in something that is bigger than all of us.
Think about what the day means to you or read the words of others who pay respect to fallen members of the military (here and here). And join us in observing the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time.
If you’re looking for a reason not to mow, there’s logic behind letting it grow …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: As is often the case, Red hadn’t heard of the latest trend, “No Mow May,” which is all about lawn maintenance (or the lack of it) until Black started sending her articles about it.
Growing up on Long Island, everyone in our neighborhood wanted a lush, green lawn. It wasn’t until we were older that we realized how much time and money it required to achieve it. That it doesn’t just happen. But now, it has become the latest environmental issue.
At first, Red thought that not cutting your lawn for an entire month might be a joke. But then she read a few articles (here and here) explaining how leaving your yard alone could help Mother Nature by positively impacting bees and other pollinators. Plus, giving your lawn a rest from fertilizers, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers is good for the environment.
It made sense to Red, except right now, she’s been working hard to turn a collection of bare patches in her front yard into an “acceptable” lawn,
My yard’s a mess. Weeds so numerous they look like ground cover, just enough grass to suggest there might be hope, and big, beautiful oak trees that insist on “drinking” all the water. Which means I’m having to deal with my homeowner’s association (HOA) and their “dire” letters of warning. (This isn’t an exaggeration, as anyone who lives under a strict HOA knows all too well.)
Red doubted she could stall the HOA with an environmental excuse, but remembered that when she lived in England, she was struck by how yards seemed more natural vs. “perfectly landscaped” – what she thought of as a carefully planned mess. So, she now wondered if the English were onto something way before “No Mow May” ever came along.
Black admits to having a black thumb (seems rather appropriate) and claims she could kill a silk plant, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to know whether “No Mow May” was as beneficial as it sounded,
Of course, there are pros and cons to “No Mow May.” Interestingly, neither side disputes the importance of the underlying logic behind the first two words (“No Mow”), but as an ongoing approach, not a one-month experiment.
If you’ve never thought about May Day, don’t worry, most of us haven’t.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red appreciates that some holidays have historical significance, some have ancient traditions, and some are opportunities for one of Black’s unexpected, but often amusing and clever, comments, but May Day checks all those boxes.
As soon as Black mentioned pole dancing, Red, a lover of movies, immediately thought of “Hustlers.” No, not “ The Hustler,” the 1961 classic with Paul Newman as a small-time pool hustler. Instead, “Hustlers,” the 2019 release with Jennifer Lopez about pole dancing hustlers that showed it took more than a desire to make money, but skill and athleticism.
But Red had no idea the significance of May Day Maypole dancing. When she lived in England, May Day was a bank holiday, and she knew it had a long history that went back to the Celts, but that’s all she knew. Until recently, when she learned it’s an ancient and festive holiday filled with history and folklore, started by the Celts who thought May 1st was the most important day of the year as it separated the year into light and dark.
Which explains the beginning of a celebration of spring with singing, dancing, and bonfires that still continues. However, it doesn’t explain how in the late 19th century, May Day became known as International Workers’ Day to celebrate workers and promote labor rights.
And what about the Maypoles? Well, as Red discovered,
It was during the Middle Ages when the now famous Maypoles were believed to become popular, not only to welcome in spring but as a symbol of fertility, as the pole symbolized male fertility, with baskets and wreaths symbolizing female fertility.
When Red felt the need to share all this history with Black, her sister couldn’t help but respond with,
Although this has nothing to do with May Day, all I can say is “ Mayday. Mayday.” Which, if you do not speak French, is based on m’aider and means “Help me.”