Make way for Tugboat Annie, Barn Boy

The beauty of living, I’ve discovered, is that you either learn something new every day or you’re reminded anew of something you may have forgotten.

Recent weeks have been testimony to that.

Here’s what I’ve learned lately in the Classroom of Life.

1. I occasionally have a “Tugboat Annie” look about me apparently.

I never knew this, not to mention who Tugboat Annie was.

Even so, every time I wear a certain around-the-house outfit, I get this “Hey, it’s Tugboat Annie” reaction from Better Half, who gives me one of those fast head-to-toe scans, then a chuckle or two.

The outfit?

Old baggy black sweatpants, a ratty sweatshirt overtop an equally ratty T-shirt and a pair of these funky flat black shoes that zip shut on the top. Oh, yes, and thick white fuzzy socks.

It’s not a real feminine looking outfit by any stretch, but it’s so comfortable and perfect for those occasions when you want to do nothing, then rest afterwards.

Every once in a while, though, I live dangerously and wear this getup in public with Better Half, when we’re off to somewhere super special, like grocery shopping.

When Better Half ventures out in public with “Tugboat Annie,” he jokes that I should walk behind him so no one knows we’re together.

Better Half is supposed to do the same thing, incidentally, when I’m still in my work clothes, and he’s in his “Barn Boy” outfit, suited for equine interaction.

Make way for Tugboat Annie and Barn Boy.

2. I realized I’m not the plant murderer I always assumed that I was.

Sure, I’ve had plants that don’t get to experience longevity in my presence, but I’m starting to blossom when it comes to keeping plants blooming.

The proof is in my Christmas poinsettias – two of them as vibrant as they were on the day they came home from holiday events.

And there are these three huge hanging-basket ferns that decorated the porch last summer and have been adapting well to their temporary home in the “jungle kitchen,” as my mother calls it, awaiting their return outside come warmer weather.

3. I’m learning to accept the fact that groundhogs are not the best weather forecasters.

Old Punxsutawney Phil is not to be trusted to tell us when bad weather is going away and good weather is returning.

The groundhog that predicted an early spring needs to go to summer school.

4. I must not be the only female in the news business going through the change of life.

And I take some comfort in that as hot flash misery loves company or at least a little empathy.

Have you noticed how so many female newswomen and commentators on the national and cable networks wear sleeveless dresses all the time, day in, day out, in the fall and in the winter, no matter the temperature reading outdoors?

Not a sweater to be found draped over their shoulders. Not even a scarf.

Just bare arms.

Definitely not a “Tugboat Annie” look.

(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at