Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy Freakin' New Year

Christmas came and went a few days ago. Now the ramp-up to New Year’s Eve is in full swing. There are commercials on TV featuring stupid 2013 glasses and hats, with really bad actors pretending to party the night away. Pretty lame. I’ve never understood the concept of drinking and partying at the change of the year. Are you saying good-bye to the old year or hello to the new one? I don’t drink liquor, and the last thing on earth I want to do is be around drunk people. Definitely not my idea of a good time. My mom always made us go to bed super early. Therefore, we were in bed hours before the magical dawning of the new year. One year, I was determined to be up at midnight. I smuggled a couple of lids from Mom’s pot and pans and hid them under my pillow. Then I set my alarm for 11:55 PM. When my alarm went off, I took the lids out to the kitchen and banged them together. The noise was jarring. My parents might have already been in bed. I don’t remember. I probably scared the crap out of them though. It was then I formed my opinion of the lameness of New Year’s Eve. Funny hats, liquor, and noisemakers... hmmm. Seriously, I’d like to chat with whoever invented this way of celebrating a milestone (or the end of a milestone... still confused about the whole thing). I just saw a news story about local Seattle police imploring the public not to shoot their guns off at midnight on New Year’s Eve. OK, now we’ve gone off the deep end for real. This is just one more reason... a really, really good reason to stay put on New Year’s Eve. I avoid drunks. Now I have to worry about getting shot by some reveler (who is more-than-likely drunk). Bullets and liquor - a bad combination. I will definitely be safely ensconced in my house on New Year’s Eve. I will celebrate by not celebrating like the rest of the dumbasses out there. I might have a cookie or two and park myself in front of my beloved TV. That way, I can usher out 2012 and usher in 2013 with a minimum of effort. Maybe it won’t be special, but nobody will throw up... or worse. Whoopdee freakin’ doo.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Plane Truth

The day after Christmas, I flew to Salt Lake City to attend a funeral. My sister, Mickey, was a flight attendant for over 30 years, and I believe she deserves a medal. When I was a child, flight attendants were called stewardesses. It was a glamorous job. Telling someone you were a stewardess was like saying “Yes, I am Miss America and possibly Miss Universe”. Nowadays, flight attendants include men and the job has definitely lost it’s luster. Perhaps it is the flying public that has changed. Oh hell, the world has changed. Exploding shoes and underpants are only the start. By the time people strip, get their goodies x-rayed or patted down, and get re-dressed, they are pissed. The flight crews also have to endure going through Security, so they are probably also a bit cranky from the get go. It seems like a pretty thankless job to me. They have to know everything from meal service to using a defibrillator. Oh, and getting people off the plane safely in an emergency situation. Definitely not a waitress in the sky. My return flight home last night was on a low frills type airline. I’ve flown on them many times, but last night I felt like I was on a cattle car. I truly expected to see chickens and goats in the aisle. The flight attendant had to repeatedly tell the man next to me to stow his sack under the seat, while he kept asking if he couldn’t just hold it on his lap. Seriously??? The flight attendant looked like she had just rolled out of bed, but held her own with Sack Lunch Guy. An announcement was made that someone with a severe peanut allergy was on board. Therefore, we were asked to put away any we might have. I saw the lady across the aisle pick up half of a peanut that was lying on the floor, and put it in the seat pocket. I worried about that peanut for a few minutes. Was it out of the way enough, or would Peanut Sensitive Person still know? The sink in the back of the plane overflowed, so that had to be fixed before we could take off. Then we had to get de-iced. This stuff probably happens ALL the time. I’m pretty sure my sister thanks her lucky stars every day to be retired. I would, and then I’d kiss the ground.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


As a child, the only thing that could poke a hole in my magical Christmas bubble was the holiday visit from Grama W. She worked in the hat department of a store, so our Christmas gifts usually involved some sort of headgear... hideous, butt-ugly headgear. Before gifts could be opened on Christmas morning, we had to go to Mass, eat breakfast and clean up the dishes. It was pure torture! To alleviate this, my mom would let us open one present before church. Grama W. would insist we open her gift. Sigh. People talk about the scourge of Christmas sweaters. They obviously had never met my grandmother and her hats. We were stuck wearing some of the most heinous creations to Christmas Mass. One year my sister, Kathy, told me Gram was giving me earmuffs. Oh God, not earmuffs! One of my least-favorite classmates wore earmuffs. Just stamp “NERD” on my forehead, and give me an atomic wedgie. I tried to think of any way out of the traditional opening of the ugly-ass hat, to no avail. When I finally opened the present, no earmuffs were there. I can’t remember what was in the box, or why I believed my sister had insider information. I just know it wasn’t earmuffs. One of Gram’s hats had shimmery spangles in red and green. Another little number was like a big shawl on my head with a kind of doughnut circle placed over it. Only Audrey Hepburn could have pulled it off. I was a gangly, bucktoothed fourth-grader. Definitely not your basic movie star type. I was so relieved when the Catholic Church got rid of the Women-Must-Wear-A-Hat-To-Church rule. I was told that females had to cover their heads in church because “a woman’s crowning glory is her hair”. Seriously? Didn’t dudes have a crowning glory... that could be displayed in public? And why didn’t they have to humble themselves? So unfair. To this day, I have an aversion to wearing a hat. This includes earmuffs, which technically, aren’t hats. Only extreme cold or dusty yard work gets me to cover my “crowning glory”. And somewhere in Hat Heaven, Grama W. is passing out celestial beanies

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hug A Tree

Christmas tree lots depress the hell out of me. I drove past one today, and it was FULL of trees. They were bushy, lush, green, vibrant... and doomed. A small forest waited for adoption behind the fence. I wanted to cry. Christmas is only 3 days away, so you know most of those trees will stay put. What a waste! Then what happens to them? People tell me that these trees are raised on tree farms, so having them cut down after years of growing is the natural order. They were meant for slaughter. OK, I know I may be getting dramatic here, but it’s truly how I feel. I guess it’s the same as with animals who are raised to end up on our dinner tables. That also depresses me. Nobody is going hungry, though, if a Christmas tree is left standing in the forest. We haven’t had a real Christmas tree for at least 20 years. My poor kids don’t know any better. They probably think all Christmas trees come in a box. The last live Christmas tree I bought made a big mess and screwed up my vacuum. As instructed, I sawed off the bottom of the trunk and put it in water as soon as I got it home. That did no good, though, and by Christmas that sucker was dried out and turning brown. There were pine needles everywhere, and cleaning them up clogged the hose of my vacuum. So, in addition to avoiding Christmas tree depression, the use of a fake tree is much tidier. Win-win. I feel like I’m doing my part by reusing the same faux tree every year. I will try not to dwell on those poor homeless trees. I need to bypass that lot until maybe mid-January, just to make sure the bodies have been removed. Sigh.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hasta La Vista, Mayans

Tomorrow, December 21, 2012 marks the end of the Mayan calendar. I’m still puzzled why this is occurring now but I plan on being here in the morning. Plus, it’s Friday (my favorite day of the week) and Pay Day. I even took a chance and finished my Christmas shopping. I don’t know if the Mayans truly thought the World As We Know It would actually end tomorrow. Here are some theories why the Mayan calendar is ending:

  • Mayans ran out of office supplies. 
  • Mayans ran out of room on whatever surface they wrote or carved their calendars on. 
  • Mayan’s pencil broke. 
  • Head Calendar Dude lost interest, changed jobs, or died. 
  • Mayans figured everything would be digital by now. 
  • Mayans could only count up to 2,012. 

In the event The End really is nigh, I’d like to say sorry to those people I drenched when I drove into a large puddle in 1983. Also, sorry to my 6th grade teacher for drawing an amazingly lifelike picture of her. I meant no harm. Well, actually, I didn’t mean to get caught and have my drawing confiscated. My bad. I regret not mastering riding my unicycle, or learning how to moon walk. Oh, and one more thing... If we’re all still here tomorrow as I expect we will be, never mind.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Schticky Situation

I think I have a knack for recognizing voices. It comes in handy when watching a TV show featuring a guest star who used to be a big deal, but is no longer on the Hollywood “A” List. I have identified numerous former stars when hearing them speak. It might take a while to put the voice to the wrinkled, or in most cases, altered faces. I can usually figure it out though. So, last weekend I had the TV on while I worked on my laptop (by “work” I mean playing Solitaire). A really annoying ad caught my attention, and I realized the spokesperson was none other than Vince Shlomi, the Sham Wow guy. Who could forget that voice? He’s been gone from the scene for a while, after his arrest for punching a prostitute who bit his tongue. Classy guy. I reluctantly watched the commercial, since that voice was impossible to tune out (I guess I was too lazy to hit the Mute button on my remote). Vince is now selling the Schticky Buddy, a purportedly amazing lint roller. As I watched, I realized this ad was full of dirty double entendres. He talked about pussy hair (cat) and playing with his Schticky. OMG! Was I just reading nasty stuff into the commercial, or was Vince openly being sleazy? OK, consider the source. Vince beats up prostitutes...wait, start over... Vince patronizes prostitutes, then beats them up. He inexplicably wears an earpiece the entire time he’s in the commercial. Who is he connected to? Is he taking orders in his head while also shilling for the Shticky Buddy people? According to Wikipedia, Vince has a net worth of $4 million dollars. So, he’s laughing all the way to the bank. Now if I could only figure out a way to make the big bucks from my voice identification skills. I could be the Hear Wow Girl. Hmmm... definitely needs some work.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I was nine years old when the Troll phenomenon hit. For some reason, they were also called Dam Dolls. Not the bad, ooh-I’m-almost-swearing kind of damn. Just D-A-M. I wanted a Troll doll in the worst way. It was a couple months before Christmas, and I couldn’t wait. I thought I would burst into flames if I didn’t get a Troll, pronto. So, I decided to make a girl and a boy Troll. I cut four small gingerbread men shapes out of muslin scraps and basted them together. I don’t remember knowing how to sew, but maybe that’s just how much I wanted a Troll. I sewed two eyes and a dotted line smile on the faces. Then I stuffed and finished them off with dark pink yarn hair for the girl and light pink yarn hair for the boy. My faux boy Troll was a bit malformed, with one arm kind of a shriveled stump. Still, it was better than nothing. I tried to pretend like I was satisfied with my homemade Trolls, but I was less-than-fulfilled. Perhaps my attempt at sewing was for the benefit of my parents - a dramatic cry for help. I’m quite certain Santa Claus got a very specific earful about what I wished for. Christmas Day finally rolled around. I could barely breathe, and the anticipation made my heart pound. While opening presents, I spied a little box... I knew it... I knew it... Wait a minute... What the hell??? Technically, I got a Troll doll. I guess it was a Troll with a beard. It was a Santa Troll. It had sticky-up white hair, but that is where the Troll resemblance ended. This one had a Santa face, with a beard painted on. It also had a red suit and black boots painted on its body. I probably tried to look excited, but I wanted a Dam doll and instead got a damn Santa doll. I eventually got several mainstream Troll dolls for my birthday, as well as a very large Troll bank, who became their mother. So, way ahead of the Brady Bunch, I had a truly blended (Troll) family - Giant mother, weird bearded kid, a black-haired one, a pink-haired one whose hair kept coming unglued, a yellow haired one, and the pitiful homemade handicapped ones. It was a belated Christmas miracle. God bless every Dam one of us

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bite Me

I detest going to the dentist. Now, mind you, it’s not my dentist I object to. He is great and his staff is wonderful. Unfortunately, I have a history of upsetting dental work to overcome. My childhood dentist was in practice with his brother. I have always felt that Dr. Paul lost a bet, and was forced to handle the juvenile patients. He was not a nice man, and I suspect he hated children. The first time I had a tooth filled, he gave me novocaine, then waited only five minutes before drilling. Needless to say, my mouth was not the least bit numb. When I yelped, Dr. Paul told me to shut up and stop acting like a baby. What a dick. My next dentist was fast, and didn’t hurt me. I have had to get all his dental work redone, though, so as a dentist he probably sucked. My current dentist is very patient and caring. Dr. Frank told me I have a problem with certain nerves that are hard to numb. Only 2% of people have this problem, so I guess I’m special. He and his assistants have learned to dodge getting hit in the head with my feet when he hits a nerve. Keeps them on their toes and nobody falls asleep while working on my mouth. Today, I had my teeth cleaned. I greeted my hygienist, then assumed The Position - ankles crossed, hands clenched in a death grip, shoulders up around my ears. I know it was only a cleaning, but I’m a planner and am always prepared for a random stab of pain. With a previous hygienist, I tried doing butt clenches as a mental diversion. Funny thing I discovered - It’s not possible to do butt clenches while your ankles are crossed. I ended up clenching everything from the tip of my toes to the top of my head. I thought I could multi-task and get in shape while having my teeth cleaned. I was wrong. Today I just tried to go to my Happy Place, then realized I don’t have one. Got to get me one of those before my next visit.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Good Old Boys

It’s not a good sign when one of the first Christmas cards you get is from your auto mechanic. My bad car Karma must have provided a big chunk of the year’s profits to garner a spot on the Christmas card list. I visited the mechanic’s shop numerous times over the last couple of years. I thought I had built up a nice rapport with Michael, the manager. I have always been leery of auto mechanics but Michael put me at ease and was very patient when I asked questions. Then, this weekend we got the Christmas card. Or should I say, my husband got the Christmas card. Rick took my car in for service once, and had a phone conversation with Michael once. Apparently they bonded, because the Christmas card came addressed to Rick. It didn’t even say “Mr. & Mrs”. Just Rick. The car is mine, and I spent a small fortune getting it running smoothly. Yet my name wasn’t on the Christmas card. Rick says I am overreacting at the snub. I beg to differ. (Please oh please let me differ). Many years ago, I took my Subaru into the dealership for some kind of check-up. On my way home, the entire car started to shake. I took it back to the dealership, and of course nobody could recreate the shaking. Then the Service Dude suggested that perhaps I hadn’t been driving my car in the right gear. OMG! He was dismissive and insulting and probably thought I should take my pretty little self home to bake cookies. Serious douche-baggery was afoot. That time, Rick saw the injustice and called the dealership to complain about how I’d been treated. I suppose I should have called myself, but I figured I would just get another pat on the head. As it turned out, though, Service Dude’s boss was a woman. She told Rick the guy had been talked to before about this inappropriate behavior. Awesome! So that one time, the Girls prevailed. Michael included a $20 certificate for future service in the Christmas card. I’ll send Rick the next time my car needs service. That way, maybe we’ll get a $50 certificate next year. If this makes me some kind of a car repair pimp, so be it. I’m just trying to be one of the boys.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Worst Job In The World

Once I moved to Seattle in 1990, I had to look for a job. In perusing the Want Ads one day, I found what I thought had to be the two worst jobs in the entire world. The first job was counting DIRTY diapers for a diaper service. Ick. The other job was at the coroner’s office. The job description said you had to be able to lift dead weight... as in dead body-type weight. It also mentioned being able to handle encountering decomposing bodies, as well as having to crawl under houses to look for said decomposing bodies. Ok, first off, I can barely carry a package of bottled waters from my car to my house. Forget hauling a human. As for crawling under a house... um, hello... spiders! And dirt. I would be freaked out before ever getting to a rotting corpse. So, for twenty 22 years I have thought that coroner’s office job was the world’s worst. Then, this week, another awful task popped up in the news. In Thailand, someone has come up with a way to brew the world’s finest (and apparently most expensive) coffee. It comes from coffee beans eaten and then pooped out by elephants. According to the report, the elephant’s stomach acid breaks down the protein that makes coffee bitter. “You end up with a cup that’s very smooth without the bitterness of regular coffee”. Swell. You also end up with a drink that tastes like poop, and costs about $500 per pound. My vote for the World’s Worst Job goes to the person who has to sift through the elephant dung for the coffee beans. Seriously, no amount of tips could compensate for doing that job. I can’t imagine which genius thought making a drink from anything coming out of an elephant’s butt was a good idea. I have no creativity when it comes to the culinary world. I would have made a terrible caveman. It never would have occurred to me to eat a cow or chicken. And what about artichokes? Not on your life. I’d still be sitting in my cave, shivering and hungry, wishing somebody would invent SOMETHING. Next time I think I’m having a bad day, I will remember the poop-sifting baristas in Thailand. Oh ya, I got it good!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mayan Humbug

OMG... I just realized it is less than three weeks until Christmas. As usual, I’ve been in denial since the pre-holiday ramp-up started before Halloween. Christmas isn’t going away, so I’d better shift into shopping mode. Pronto. Or do I really need to? According to the Mayan Calendar, the world will end on December 21st. I’ve never been much of a gambler. Do I trust the Mayans and not shop, since nobody will be around on December 25th? That Rapture dude in California, Harold Camping, was wrong about the end of the world... twice. I believe the first date was May 21, 2011. I had an appointment that morning to get my eyebrows and lip waxed. I was really hopeful the Rapture would happen after I was exfoliated, since I’d hate to get gone sporting a mustache. I didn’t need to worry, though, because
A. the Rapture was a bust
B. I doubt I would have been called Up There anyway.
The second Rapture, October 21, 2011 also didn’t happen. No way would you catch me selling my stuff, giving away the dogs, and waiting to get The Call (or whatever is supposed to happen). Nutball Harold had cried wolf one too many times. After the second Doomsday whoopsy, Mr. Camping apologized for his “miscalculation” and retired. Or maybe he got Raptured outta here. So, I am left in a quandary about whether To Christmas or Not To Christmas. Sigh. What a sad little person I am, rooting for the Mayans in order to get out of all the holiday hoopla. I could leave a note that I got Raptured, and just hide out in the spare bedroom downstairs. With my luck, I’d stumble across Harol Camping, snoring away in the corner chair. Guess I’d better get my bad self to the mall and join in the gift-giving frenzy. Bah humbug... er I mean Falalalala...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

John Travolta's Hair

I got a text message from my sister today, telling me that she just saw John Travolta on The Ellen Show. She said his hair looked like her Ken doll. Exactly! That’s what I’ve been thinking too. WTF? People age, I get that. He doesn’t get hair like that due to the aging process though. There is no explanation for it. I’ve seen that bald spot patch stuff that comes in a spray can. Maybe John used the patten leather or vinyl version. It’s truly the weirdest hairstyle I’ve seen, and that includes mullets and mohawks. Mickey’s Ken doll had a little fuzz to his hair that eventually wore off. It never occurred to us to just paint it back on, ala Travolta. My Barbie had the first non-ponytail hairdo. It was a 1960’s bubble hairstyle and blonde, of course. Her hair wasn’t stylable, so wasn’t much fun. I never bonded with my Barbie. Her permanent high heel feet annoyed me. Mickey’s Ken doll was very boring, stiff, and flat-footed... the opposite of his lady love’s bumps and curves. I had one doll that had awesome hair. Her name was Poor Pitiful Pearl and she was a homely little thing. Her dress had patches on it and she had no shoes. The one thing she had going for her was very thick, luscious hair. I’m not sure that was what her creators were going for. I’m pretty sure you were supposed to feel sorry for her. A guilt trip in doll form! That was seriously a twisted idea for a toy, but one I could totally relate to (Catholic guilt runs bone deep). My Chatty Cathy doll was also blonde like Barbie. I kind of ignored grooming her though, due to the fact that she talked. I couldn’t wait for Christmas the year I got her. Then, once I heard what she had to say, I was bored. I thought more interesting things would come out of her mouth than “I love you”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m sleepy”. She had teeth too, which I’ve always found creepy. I had many dolls throughout my childhood. None of them, including my Trolls had the weird, painted on Travolta hair. With Christmas around the corner, I think he should ask Santa for a little follicle miracle. Or maybe a nice hat.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Weather Wussies

For the first time since moving to Seattle 22 years ago, the rain is getting to me. I don’t mind gloom... I actually prefer it. The rain, however has made walking my dogs unpleasant and a real challenge. One of my three dogs, Lucy, is now 12 years old and more than reluctant to go on walks. In nice weather I literally have to drag her. When it’s raining, it’s nearly impossible. The alternative, however, is piles of pooh in my living room. So, rain or shine, I look like a real meanie dragging my doggies around the neighborhood. It appears to me that many Seattlites feel the same way about the elements. I have always been bothered by these weather wussies when it comes to the appearance of a single snowflake. Lately, it seems that rain is also a thing to be feared. My favorite local news station, King 5, seems to have gone off the deep end. The early morning newscast (4:30-5:00 am) has been featuring a reporter motoring around the city to report on weather and road conditions. The camera is usually focused on her face in the front seat, rather than at the End-Of-The-World-As-We-Know-It happening outside her window. This morning, she was cruising around Seattle, talking about puddles and standing water on the roads. The camera was focused outside the car for a change. Then, the whole thing got really silly. Apparently it was only drizzling outside, so the reporter played an audio recording of how the rain sounded a few hours before, in the middle of the night. Talk about your slow news day. Seriously? It’s rain, and this is Seattle. Do the math: 118.62% + Pi x EMC2 - 4 = puddles, wet shoes and toe fungus. Until it’s raining frogs or fire, the weather won’t peak my interest. Those who are freaked out by the rain need to move to Arizona. It’s almost winter... snow is probably around the corner. Oooohhhh be afraid... and alert the media!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Carnage At Nutcracker Tryouts

I took an interpretive dance class when I was five. There was a box of costumes in the middle of the floor. We dressed in the costumes and danced to music. I have a memory of not wanting to stop dancing when the music ceased. I think my mom had to guide me off the floor, as the teacher wasn’t having any luck. I was eight when I started ballet class with my best friend, Deb. It was the only extracurricular activity I had, and I loved every minute of it. When I was in sixth grade, Deb and I tried out for the Ballet West production of The Nutcracker. We auditioned for the role of toy soldiers. I made it, but Deb did not. Let me just say the ride home from tryouts together was the longest five minutes of my life. The experience of being in a big production, plus performing with professional dancers was incredible. This was a major big deal in my life. The next year, I couldn’t try out for the same part, because I had grown and the parts were determined by height. I had to audition for the role of a Blackamoor, an African slave (probably not a PC term today). This time, Deb had an advantage over me since the main step involved in the audition was Chaines turns (pronounced “shenay”). These turns were my biggest challenge. If ballet steps were school, Chaines turns would be calculus. At tryouts, there were about eighty girls in a large, rectangular room. We were instructed to do our turns from one corner, straight across the room diagonally, to end at the opposite corner. The first time, I went halfway across the room, and somehow ended up back where I started. The second time, I started for the opposite corner, made a right turn, and mowed down the eighty girls waiting in line. Bodies flew against the wall. It wasn’t pretty. Needless to say, I didn’t make the Nutcracker that year. I don’t have any photos from my magical stint as a toy soldier. All I have is a program with my last name misspelled. I'll always have my memories, though.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Extreme Sonicare

I was sorting laundry today, and pre-treating all the yucky spots. I grabbed a sweatshirt of Rick’s and started in with the Shout. He had streaks of toothpaste all down the front, around the neck, and in various places on his sleeves. There was also toothpaste on the BACK of his sweatshirt. WTF? You’d think after 38 years of knowing him, this would not surprise me. Still... how does one get toothpaste on the back of one’s shirt??? I see Rick wander through the house while he brushes his teeth. Somehow he doesn’t drop toothpaste on the floor, but that seems to be the only place left untouched. I bought a Sonicare toothbrush years ago. At first, the whole family used it. Eventually, though, only Rick stuck with it. When he brushes, the whole thing goes into his mouth... even the part that would be shared amongst the family. This may be the reason the rest of us quit using the Sonicare. It’s kinda gross to see Rick brush his teeth, tonsils and Adam’s Apple. He totally gets into the process. By the time he’s done, there is toothpaste on the bathroom mirror, all over his face, up his nose and sometimes in his eyebrows. It reminds me of when my daughter was a toddler. After eating, we would be picking food out of Molly’s hair, off her face, and from between her toes. She wouldn’t stay put in her high chair and liked to sit on the tray. I thought about feeding her in the bathtub, to aid in the clean-up process. Maybe Rick should think about brushing his teeth in the shower. He couldn’t walk as far, but there is a little bit of pacing room. Think of the money we’d save not having to buy Shout so often. As the resident laundress, I think it’s a fine idea.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Doubting Thomas

While driving home from work today, I checked out which Christmas carol was playing on the All-Christmas-Songs-All-The-Time-We-Don’t-Care-That-It’s-Only-November station. It was “Silent Night” and I was reminded of some lyrics I’ve gotten wrong since I was a little girl: “ ‘Round yon Virgin Mother and child”. I always thought that line was calling the Virgin Mary fat, as in round (not ‘round). Seriously, cut her some slack! She just gave birth, and in a BARN! Growing up Catholic posed a problem for your basic inquisitive child (me). We were taught stories, doctrine, rules, etc. and were expected not to ask questions. I believe the objective is called Blind Faith. My mother called me a Doubting Thomas more than once. I really had a hard time ignoring questions and just carrying on. In fact, ask anyone who knows me... I NEVER seem to run out of questions. So the whole Virgin birth in the Christmas story kind of threw me. Well, actually, as a child I was OK with it because I had no idea what a virgin was. I got the impression that it was something really special and out-of-the ordinary. Why else would Mary be the only one known by that title? Nobody ever explained it to us. How could they without mentioning S-E-X? Joseph always seemed like a sad, lonely little man. Here he was with his fiance who tells him she is pregnant, but still a virgin. Say what? Somehow he went along with this... a truly trusting soul... after an angel appeared to him. OK here I go again, getting all Doubting Thomasy again. I just can’t wrap my head around this part of the story. I guess it’s good I wasn’t ‘round yon virgin way back then. I probably would have been stoned for mouthing off, or asking too many questions. I think I’ll stay away from the Christmas radio station. Don’t get me started on the Little Drummer Boy. That kid needs a time out, and his drum sticks fed to a goat. Parumpapumpum me not.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Poltergeists & Gremlins

I was doing last minute cleaning in the basement the night before we moved into our house 19 years ago. My son’s bedroom smelled really weird. I got upset because Ben was only 7 years old and would be sleeping downstairs alone. By daylight the next day, the house seemed less creepy and we moved in without incident. Over the next few years, Ben had some weird experiences getting locked inside things. I called home from work one night to find that my husband was in the process of bashing down the bathroom door. It had locked with Ben inside, and he couldn’t get the door open. After that night, Ben got locked inside a locker during a Cub Scout function at a community center. Another day, he got locked in the bathroom at a Starbucks. Writing about it now, these occurrences seem pretty strange. At the time, though, we thought they were kind of amusing (I doubt Ben was amused). The last time this happened, Ben got locked in his bedroom. We took the doorknob off, but the tongue part was stuck inside the doorjamb. It was weird to see and talk to Ben through the doorknob hole and still not be able to open the door. Rick had to break yet another door to rescue Ben. My sister said maybe a playful spirit was at work, which only served to creep Ben out. It would be years before he would sleep in his room. Nowadays, the only inexplicable occurrences in our house involve missing accessories. I’m convinced I have a jewelry gremlin who has recently graduated to swiping my eye glasses. It eventually releases my missing stuff, and fortunately has never locked me in a room. Maybe all those years ago Ben should have offered up a bracelet or earrings. Who knows? It might have saved us a couple of doors.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I'm Not Gaga

I was standing at the counter of my mechanic’s shop the other day. A song was playing on the radio, and then it hit me... I am SO glad I’m not Lady Gaga. Seriously, it must be exhausting being her. Can she ever let her hair down and just chill with her bad self? I seriously doubt it. I’ll bet it’s been years since she woke up on a Saturday morning and decided to hang out in her sweats, or dig in the garden. She always has to be “On”. I can’t imagine constantly having to outdo my own last outfit or creation. When she walks with her entourage, she is in her weird celebrity persona. A lot of the time, she is holding something - glass, wires, some kind of sculpture. Man, I’m getting tired just writing about it. Unlike most people, I don’t think I’ve ever actually wanted to be famous. Rich? Oh ya, I could totally handle that (or would love to try). I can’t imagine having fans, or paparazzi following my every move. Guys hiding in the bushes, telephoto lenses focused on me. Might as well be an animal in the zoo. Maybe that’s why I have always been bothered by zoos. The animals have no privacy, and are constantly on display. I was totally amused the first time I witnessed monkeys at the zoo throwing pooh at people. The monkeys were the ones who were totally in control. They had the crowd in the palms of their hairy little hands. I realized that day who the real dumb animals at the zoo were. The monkeys were the rock stars, and seemed to enjoy it. So, maybe I’m an anomaly. You all can go out and be as famous as you want. I’ll stay behind the scenes and watch your money... in my sweats.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Gobble Gobble

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m frantically trying to get the smell of yesterday’s turkey dinner out of my house. It’s a good smell at dinner time, but in the morning? Not so much. I’m not a big fan of turkey, or any meat for that matter. I don’t crave it. If I could, I would live on pastries and vanilla lattes. I would also weigh 500 pounds and be unable to get off my couch. Every Thanksgiving, I get out my cookbooks and tried-and-true recipes. None of the process seems familiar. I struggle every year to complete an edible thousand course meal in a timely manner. I still haven’t figured out how to get so many items cooked at different temperatures using one oven. Do the math... it doesn’t add up. The pressure on me is enormous, and I’m not sure why. It’s not like the future of the free world rests on my culinary skills (even though that’s what it feels like). So far, nobody has died after eating at my table. Last night’s dinner turned out fine. I know I will do the same thing next year, with the same level of angst. I have a friend who never eats turkey on Thursdays. I’m not sure why but I find it interesting. Earlier in the week I saw a TV interview with a turkey farmer. There was a huge building with what seemed like miles and miles of turkeys milling around inside. All the turkeys were white and ugly as hell. They looked nothing like the black and gray ones with red heads that you think of when someone says “turkey”. Does this mean the white, plain turkeys at the farm were females? I know little about birds, but I believe the females are usually plain while the males are the fancy ones. Take peacocks, for instance. They are male and flamboyant. The peahens are plain Janes and probably never got asked to dance at high school sock hops. Roosters have that awesome red comb and strut and crow all over the place. Hens just hang out back in the henhouse, blending into the background. Maybe next year I will opt for an all pastry Thanksgiving feast, and give the turkeys a break. At least one turkey girl could go on to live another homely day. It would be my good deed for the holiday season... delicious too!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Please Pass The Fire Extinguisher

When I got married, I knew how to cook one item - cheese cake. Back in high school, I had stumbled across the recipe during Home Economics. Eight years later, my culinary repertoire hadn’t grown much larger. Our first Thanksgiving dinner as a married couple went amazingly well. Everything was tasty, and nobody got food poisoning. I call that a booming success. Or maybe it was beginner’s luck, due to the fact that the next Thanksgiving dinner was a disaster. The night before this second Thanksgiving, I decided to clean my oven. Go figure. The next day, the cooking marathon was on. At some point, I needed to check on my homemade pumpkin pie. I pulled the oven rack out and let it go for a second. Apparently, I had not put the rack back in correctly after cleaning my oven. When I let go of the rack, it tilted, and my partially-cooked pumpkin pie went careening south. The pie hit the oven door, the contents flew out and went splat across my kitchen. It was a special moment. I believe my primal scream caused Rick to think I was being disemboweled. A short time after we cleaned up the mess, I detected a wonderful campfire smell wafting in from the kitchen. On closer inspection, I discovered the source of the lovely odor - My sweet potato and marshmallow casserole was on fire in the toaster oven. Too bad there weren’t still blobs of pie to dowse the flames. I can’t remember what the rest of the dinner tasted like. I do know we were forced out into the neighborhood to forage for dessert. We found a seedy little convenience store with bars on the door, and bought ice cream sandwiches. Seriously...turkey and ice cream sandwiches. I’ve always wondered why I had never noticed that store before, or why it was open on a holiday. Possibly a Thanksgiving miracle? Actually, I think the successful dinner from the year before was the Thanksgiving miracle. The disastrous second year Thanksgiving was saved by the magic Ice Cream Sandwich Fairy. Nothing else could explain it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Best In Show

Every Thanksgiving I watch the National Dog Show while I’m working on dinner. A few years ago, the dumbass Standard Poodle won Best In Show. It was a white male with an enormous ‘fro, whose body had been shaved except for a bunch of pom poms festooning his butt, tail and legs. I’m surprised he could haul himself out of his kennel every day to face hours of grooming, shaving, and extreme emasculation. He was probably depressed, and would most likely opt for rolling in something disgusting rather than winning another trophy. It seemed to me that this dog won the big prize due to his hairdo. That’s the only explanation I could come up with, and I wanted to give the judge a sharp rap on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. One question that always pops into my brain while watching the dogs run with their trainers... Why are the female trainers generally chunky girls? You’d think all the running around would cause them to shed a pound or two. Does that job not attract any slender types? Perhaps the outfits they wear with their sensible shoes make them appear much dowdier than they really are. There’s probably a dress code, which brings up another question... Did an attractive female trainer in stiletto heels take a header and cause the demise of fashion at the dog shows? Maybe nobody wants the dogs to be outshined by the people leading them. Imagine a bleached blonde with big fake boobs running around the stage. I doubt anyone would notice whether she was leading a dog or pulling a wagon full of manure. I’ve always thought beauty pageants were the human equivalent of dog shows, minus the genital squeeze. Walking down the runway in an evening gown is pretty much the same as dog show contestants trotting in front of the judge. Thankfully, they don’t make the dogs bark their formula for world peace or howl an aria from La Boheme. This year I will really try not to be a hater if the poodle wins. Also, I will be thankful I’m not running with the dogs in front of millions of critical people (like me).

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hey Hey You You Get Off Of My Bus

I saw something thrilling today. As I sat at a stop light, I noticed a Metro bus with lots of writing on it. The graphics were announcing the “new Metro” with new rules. Listed among the newness was something like “Pay on entering. Exit at the rear”. Ooohhh, I like the sound of that! I rarely ride on Metro, and am apprehensive when I do because I got yelled at the first time I rode a Seattle bus. Twenty-two years ago when we first moved here, I took my kids downtown on the bus. I put my money in the slot as we got on the bus, and was scolded by the driver. I didn’t know it, but the direction the bus was going determined whether you paid when you got on or paid when you got off. Huh??? What kind of goofy system was THAT? Being chastised loudly by the driver was embarrassing, even though some of the other riders seemed a little off. (I’m talking about you, dirty-man-with-sacks-full-of-soft drink-cans-having-a-loud-conversation-with-yourself-or-possibly-the-cans). I lived in San Francisco for 8 years and rode the bus quite a bit. Now THAT was a trip, and not in a good way. Electric buses were jerky and not fun for someone (me) who suffered from motion sickness. I learned the hard way what an express bus was on the first day of a new job. I dinged the bell to get off at my stop, but the bus accelerated and zoomed past it. I crazily rang the bell even more and yelled “Hey STOP!!!”. Finally somebody sighed and told me I was on an express bus, which meant the bus made fewer stops. I got off at the first opportunity, and had to run to make it to my new job on time. Out of breath and sweaty is not the way to greet a new employer. These days it’s my son who is the bus rider in the family. I’m sure he does just fine, and has probably not paid the wrong way and gotten yelled at. Who knows? By the time he has kids there may be a new set of rules... for flying buses. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hasta La Vista, Twinkies

The world is a little sadder today, and possibly a little skinnier. Hostess is closing its doors. Good-bye to Twinkies, Ho Ho’s, Ding Dongs, Cupcakes, Zingers and all the other yummy but unhealthy treats. I won’t cry over the demise of Snowballs. I think they are weird and rubbery, and I’m not a fan of coconut. But the rest will be missed. I eat a Twinkie about every three years. Anything that tastes so good must be so bad. In 1979, Dan White was convicted of assassinating San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. As proof that he was depressed when he committed the crime, his defense team pointed out that he was eating a lot of junk food. The jury decided White had diminished mental capacity and convicted him only of voluntary manslaughter. This became known as the Twinkie Defense. I was always sorry such a fine snack food was connected to such a heinous crime. It wasn’t the Twinkie’s fault... really. So what happens next? My coworkers ran out to Safeway today to snap up whatever Hostess products they could find. They said the treats were flying off the shelves. I was given a Zinger from their newly acquired stash, and OMG...ecstasy! I threw my head back, and savored every morsel. My eyes may have rolled back in my head. I squelched a tiny moan, being at work and all. Then I asked for a cigarette. Just kidding, but man... my mouth is watering again just thinking about it. Someone read the expiration date on one of the boxes - December 2313. Three hundred and one years... that’s some shelf life. I wonder if the saying about having a “snowball’s chance in Hell” was referring to the Hostess kind of Snowball. Makes sense to me. It’s the perfect snack for eternal damnation. I salute you, Twinkies and Zingers, for all the sugary goodness (and badness) you gave me throughout the years. I will mourn your passing, sort of.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Life As A Spy

I was totally into the life of a spy during the “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” craze of the 1960s. I was glued to the TV on Friday nights. My mother realized this, and smartly used my obsession as leverage when my sister and I misbehaved. This was before “time out” was invented. If we were punished by having to miss an episode of our favorite spy show, Mickey and I had better behave when the reruns came around. Mick and every other female on the planet, had a crush on Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum). I had a pity crush on Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn), so he wouldn’t feel left out. We got some spy gear for Christmas. Mickey got a really cool fake camera that magically turned into a gun. I got a fake transistor radio that had a tiny gun inside. It shot little plastic bullets. This was also in the time before toy safety was invented. The only time I remember actually playing with our spy toys was when our house was getting a new roof. Our neighbors across the street loved nothing better than to watch our house. They had a panoramic view of the entire Salt Lake valley from the back of their house. They preferred, instead, to park themselves at the kitchen window and watch for any movement at our house. During the roof construction, the nosey neighbors finally got to me. I decided to stage a murder for their viewing pleasure. I took Mickey’s spy gun and shoved it into view from behind our curtains. Then I stuck Mickey’s head through the curtains, with my hands around her neck. Mickey dramatically landed on the floor, with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. We thought we were ever so clever. Mrs. Nosey Neighbor did not think so. She called my mother and complained about our antics. There was no shame in her game. I still love a good murder mystery. Rick thinks I am obsessed with watching crime shows. Little does he know it’s just the spy in me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Bizarro World

I’m pretty sure it’s not a full moon tonight, but I have seen some mighty strange things today. The people who dance to the beat of a different drummer seem to be out in full force. Here is a sampling of what I mean:

- I saw a lady coming out of a local neighborhood market this morning. She was wearing her slippers, nightgown, and a silky cream-colored bathrobe. It was about 40 degrees outside. If you’re going to shop in your jammies, at least be weather appropriate. I think flannel would be more suited to the cold.

- A woman ran past me. She was dressed from head to toe in yellow-green spandex. Only her face and hands showed. She looked like a chartreuse sperm. 

- I drove past a woman who was standing near the street. Some kind of small fireworks or sparkler activity was going on in front of her. She had her arms raised above her head and was jumping up and down. The big election was 5 days ago. Perhaps this was a delayed reaction. 

- My daughter saw a man riding his bicycle. He was dressed entirely in bike gear. He was also wearing a yellow tutu. Awesome! Last time I wore a yellow tutu, I was 8 and in my first ballet recital. I was a bumble bee, with yellow wings and pipe-cleaner feelers. I still yearn to wear a tutu, but suspect I’d now need a four-four. I would dress my kids in them if they were still little. Yes, even my son. That’s how much I love tutus. Maybe Bike Guy was on his way to some sort of dance recital.

Party on, all you interesting rule-breaking free spirits. I envy you.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Annoyance On Board

I was driving behind a car today and noticed something that has bugged me for years. Sitting in the rear window of the car up ahead was a Kleenex box. So, let’s see... You’re driving along, all by yourself, when you feel a major sneeze coming on. What do you do? You’re totally prepared. You have a bigass Kleenex box sitting right there in your back window. Unfortunately, there’s at least a mile between your nose and those tissues. Do you pull over to the curb and hurl yourself into the back seat before the sneeze happens? Or do you let ‘er rip and clean up when you get to your destination? This would be akin to placing your toilet paper across the bathroom, perhaps on top of the shower curtain rod. I’m also highly annoyed by drivers who fill their rear car windows with cutesy stuffed animals. Seriously, if you are old enough to drive, you are old enough to leave the toys at home. I rarely see these critters in cars occupied by actual children. What I do see that shocks me are the “Baby On Board” signs. I thought those went away with the 1980’s. Not that babies aren’t riding in cars anymore, but I just don’t see the need to announce it. Like the only thing stopping me from ramming your car is because you have a baby??? I tend to try NOT to crash into other cars at all times. When I was still living in Utah some 20 years ago, the “Baby On Board” signs were prolific. Seriously, who there didn’t have a baby on board??? These signs bothered my sister so much that she wrote a letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune. In it, she wondered if she was supposed to throw formula and diapers through the car windows bearing these signs. People’s cars are their mobile personae. Some feel the need to share their innermost thoughts and beliefs on their windows and bumpers. My car bumpers are naked. In my little domain-on-wheels I can be annoyed at other drivers to my heart’s content. I don’t flip people off or honk my horn. Good thing, though, my thoughts aren’t posted on my bumpers.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Permanent Record

I read a story in the news today about a Catholic nun, Sister Marie Thornton, who was arrested for embezzlement. Sister Susie, as she is known, was a finance officer of a Catholic college and had embezzled $1.2M over ten years... to fund her gambling addiction. OK, I must be a big jerk because this story kind of thrilled me. I was transported back to my grade school years, where most of my nun interaction occurred. Nuns for the most part were scary, omnipotent, and not big kidders. I was no juvenile delinquent by any means, but I spent a good bit of time standing in the corner (the 1960’s version of Time Out) for “talking to my neighbor”. Or maybe I just made smartass comments to myself and got caught. Whatever. The nuns intimidated me terribly, especially when they told me whatever I had just done would GO ON MY PERMANENT RECORD. Yikes! I have yet to see this record and don’t know where it is stored. I wonder if these records have been modernized and are now kept in cyberspace somewhere. This is why I sort of chuckled at the downfall of Sister Susie of the Craps Table. Finally... a nun with a bad thing to go on HER permanent record! When I was in first grade, we thought it was great fun at recess to race to open the convent door for the nuns. I assume we had also figured out the benefit of earning brownie points. One day, as I had my eye on the prize (the convent door), I didn’t notice a girl bending over while playing hop scotch. I sailed over her head and landed on my face, almost knocking out my only permanent tooth. One of the nuns took me inside the convent to clean me up. I don’t think I noticed the pain or the fact that my lip was swollen as big as a cantaloupe. I was standing in the nun’s kitchen... a real, honest to God kitchen. I guess I expected it to be a cave with bones laying around and bats hanging from the ceiling. I assumed I was the only child to go inside and emerge alive. It was glorious! I felt like I got a bit of sympathy, and would maybe get a pass next time the discussion of my Permanent Record came up. Perhaps Sister Susie should try taking a header in jail. It worked for me.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Out walking my dogs one day, I was wrestling as usual to keep control. Cosmo and Lucy were pulling hard toward an alluring smell off to the west, while Stella was dragging me north to Canada. I suddenly had a flash of the old Tarzan movies from the 1930's and 1940's. There was always a scene of an unfortunate native, usually some poor safari luggage carrier, being tortured. The particular technique my dogs reminded me of was where two extremely tall trees were bent down to the ground. The guy's arms were tied to the trees, and the ropes were cut, presumably tearing him in half. It was horrific, and I used to worry about something similar happening to me. Not too many crazed jungle natives roamed the suburbs of Salt Lake City, but you never know. I definitely crossed the African jungle off any future travel itinerary. These old Tarzan movies often played on Saturday afternoon TV. Tarzan, Jane, and Boy swinging through the trees on vines fascinated me. How cool was that? If I could do that, I would never walk on the ground. How did the whole vine system work? I used to watch to see if Tarzan hooked the vines when he landed where he wanted. He did not. Perhaps vine wrangling was part of chimpanzee Cheetah's job description. So, am I the only one who wonders why American actors in the 1930's had faux British accents? When Jane said "Tarzan", it came out "Tahzin". She said "dahling" a lot, too. Tarzan, on the other hand, was a dude raised by apes. He basically had one word, "Ungawa", which meant everything from "Yo, elephant, come here and give me a ride" to "OMG, that really hurt! Look what I stepped on!" At least he didn't pronounce it "Ungahwa, dahling". Since "Ungawa" worked so well on elephants, maybe I should try it out on my dogs. I doubt they speak Tahzin, but it's worth a try. "Ungawa, to the coffee shop!"

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tight Squeeze

I detest wearing pantyhose or tights. I have ruined many a pair while trying to hoist them up. It takes some kind of finesse that I apparently lack. Last weekend I had to dress up nice for a wedding. My fancy garb took me about two months to put together. The day before the wedding I decided I needed a dress rehearsal, to make sure everything looked right together. I made the mistake of buying “control top” tights, which is code for “torture device”. I got them up as far as my knees and knew I was in trouble. They were already too tight, and I still had miles of rough terrain to go. After almost throwing my back out, I decided an emergency run to the mall was in order. I found the right size tights (non-control top) and I was in business. All was right with the world and my internal organs eventually sprung back to life. Twenty years ago, I had my worst pantyhose mishap. I had to fly to see my sick mother. I was on an airline pass, which requires a certain dress code. The cranky ticket counter person didn’t like the bobby socks and loafers I was wearing with my skirt. She literally threw the rule book at me (a pamphlet) and demanded I wear hose. I thought socks WERE hose, but didn’t want to argue and get another book thrown at me. I bought pantyhose in the gift shop and made my way to the restroom. Then the contortions began. I was in a stall with my purse and rolly suitcase. I had to balance on one foot while I shoved the other one into the pantyhose. While this was going on, I also had to try not to fall into the toilet. I doubt Houdini could have achieved success. I got the pantyhose almost pulled up when I put a big hole at the top of one leg. Sigh. I gathered my stuff and went to my gate. The entire flight I could feel a run making its way down my leg. After the hassle the counter lady gave me, I figured I might get tossed off the plane for hose abuse. I think I’ve earned the right to be afraid of pantyhose. It’s a good thing my social calendar is pretty sparse. I should be good to go to another wedding in a couple years.

Monday, October 29, 2012


There is a photo of me on the day of my First Holy Communion. I wore a white dress and veil, with my hands folded like I was praying. I remember saying to myself “This is the happiest day of my life! … Nah.” I was only seven, but somehow had already formed the view I still hold of organized religion. I think my parents felt ripped off by my lack of faith. I went to church every Sunday, and attended Catholic school. And still, it didn’t take. I believe all Christian religions have the same basic message – Be good to each other. A lot of extra stuff has been added to set each religion apart. The Catholic Church probably has the most rules, rituals, and secret handshakes. In elementary school, we got dragged off to church every week for Confession. I’m not sure how many hardened criminals there are among ten year olds, but I had to get creative to find sins to confess once a week. My mom used to tell me that wasting my food was a sin (there were starving people in China or Africa, I forget which). I took that literally, and would confess wasting food in my weekly confession. If I had eaten all my vegetables, my fallback sin was not saying my prayers at night. I’m not sure if we were supposed to pray at night before bed, but I thought it sounded sinful not to. When I was twelve, a girl brought a magazine to school that featured people at a nudist camp. There were photos of a nude family jumping on a trampoline, and a naked man on a unicycle. Disturbing? Absolutely, but curiosity had gotten the best of us. Somehow a nun confiscated the filthy rag, and we ended up at Confession, finally with something juicy for the priest. My friends went before me. They were sentenced to saying 5 Hail Mary’s and 5 Our Father’s, every day, for the rest of their lives. No kidding - A life sentence. I declined to step into the confessional, and still have that sin hanging over my head. Eternal damnation for wanting to see a wiener. I have one foot in Hell, and the other on a banana peel.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Elect Me Not

I am soooo ready for the current political elections to be over and done with. I can’t wait for robo calls and political ads to get gone. They are starting to take on a grade school “na na you’re a stinky pooh pooh face” quality. I dredged my brain for some amusing election anecdotes, and came up with two:

-  In 1992, my daughter Molly was in pre-school. They had a mock election at her school one day. When I asked her who she voted for, Molly said “I don’t remember. Which one looks like Elvis?”. I assume she voted for Bill Clinton rather than George Bush.

-  My mother drilled into us the importance of humility and caring for others. Being conceited was just about the worst thing you could be, next to being dishonest. At least that’s what I took away from what she taught me. When I was in fourth grade, I ran for a class officer position. On election day, I took my mom’s lessons way too literally and didn’t vote for myself. I thought if I did, that would make me conceited. I think I came in fourth place, which made me either class secretary or treasurer. That would have sucked had I lost by one vote!

So in a couple weeks, the big election will be over. Hopefully the people I voted for will be in office, and their opponents banished to the cornfield. I can cease yelling at the TV and scaring my dogs. At least until the next election.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Trick Or Treat

Halloween is next week. As a child, I loved dressing up and foraging for candy. I made a mental note of which lame house gave out tooth brushes or apples. That house would get skipped the next year. Halloween night in Utah is very cold, like most of the country. My mother was super practical, so we were not allowed to have a costume that didn’t involve dressing warmly. I remember seeing a girl dressed like a genie, including a bare midriff and see-through harem pants. I thought that shivering girl was so lucky. Her mother obviously saw the value in authenticity. That year my mom had actually worked hard on a really good costume. I was Raggedy Andy to my friend’s Raggedy Ann. We had matching outfits and red wigs made out of mops. Then, our mothers made us wear our coats. We had to yell “Trick or treat” and open our coats for the viewing of our awesome costumes. I felt like some kind of pervy flasher, without knowing what that was. Most years my mom would say “Hey, why don’t you be a hobo?”, like it was the first time she was suggesting it. This was in the days before the term “homeless” was invented. Hobos were funny, dirty guys who carried their belongings in a handkerchief on a stick. The family hobo costume centered around old pants that belonged to my elderly great uncle. Dirt or coffee grounds smudged on our faces were used to give the look of a five o’ clock shadow. I remember thinking “God, not the hobo costume AGAIN”. I knew Mom had kind of thrown in the towel the year she bought my sister a Casper the Friendly Ghost costume at the grocery store. It had a picture of Casper on the chest, as well as his name. Even though I was only about 8, I knew this was beyond dorky. No self-respecting ghost would wear a picture of himself on his chest. Jeez! So now, I’m all grown up and my mom is gone. If there’s Halloween in Heaven, I’m sure Mom is lounging happily not answering the doorbell. Wonder where the hobo pants went...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Clipboard People

I think peep holes in doors are the best invention, next to flush toilets, the Internet, TV, and mechanical pencils. They are the front door version of caller ID. When my doorbell rings, I never open the door without a look through the peep hole first. Before I had dogs, I would tippy-toe to the door and check out who was there. We have squeaky hardwood floors, so there was a need for stealth. Now that I have three dogs, mayhem ensues whenever the doorbell rings. It’s all I can do to get to the peep hole. Surely anyone on the other side of the door has to have a really, really good reason for braving all the snarling and barking. My personal front door rule is this: I never open the door to anyone with a clipboard. Not no way, not no how. I don’t sign petitions, and am not interested in buying stuff. Plus, I don’t really trust people who go door-to-door. People selling religion are easy to spot, as they come in groups. They might as well be armed with a boatload of clipboards. My door will NEVER open for them. Then there is the guilt factor. I used to get sucked in by a sob story of why someone was collecting funds. It was easier to give money to make them go away. Political people had a way of shaming me into listening to their spiel. I resented how easily I was manipulated, so now the door stays shut. I have been known to see people going door-to-door when I’m returning from a walk with my dogs. Poor little creatures (my dogs, not the people). My dogs have no idea why they are suddenly being dragged post haste toward the back yard. So all you clipboard people out there... just keep walking. There’s nothing for you here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Stink Stank Stunk

I miss farting with wild abandon. Six months ago, I had colon surgery. Since then, things have changed in my gastrointestinal area. Gone are the days of just passing your basic smelly gas. Now, when I feel a fart coming on, I try my damnedest to squelch it. You see, my insides now smell like the bowels of hell. Satan’s halitosis has taken up residence in my colon. Perhaps the surgeon left a sponge or something inside my pipes during the surgery. Maybe some kind of stink filter got removed with the bad chunk of my colon. Makes sense to me. I don’t want to give the wrong impression... I don’t spend my time passing gas. Eau contraire, I now concentrate on NOT letting any fumes make their way to the outside world. It’s a full-time job. Every day, I thank my lucky stars that farts can’t be seen. If some wacky scientist were to invent Fart Goggles, I’m sure my stinkers would be green with spikes, thorns, and big teeth. A stagnant cloud surrounds me when I let one rip. It does not dissipate quickly, or move on. It just hangs in the air like a heavy, deadly mist. Nose hairs burn, eyebrows are singed. It’s not pretty, and I don’t know what to do about it. I warn my family that they may want to take an alternate route to bypass wherever I have just been. I have thought about donating my newfound skills to the US Defense Department as a secret weapon. Imagine unleashing my butt on an unsuspecting enemy who expects an attack from a tank or airplane. It would be nice to use my powers for good instead of evil. So, until further notice, you might want to approach me front the front rather than down wind. Nose plugs recommended.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Weight Loss Challenge

A few years ago, I went to the first night of a 12-week weight loss challenge. I also went to the last night of a 12-week weight loss challenge. A good time was not had by all. I had to stand in line with strangers in a church basement, get weighed, and have my butt and other parts measured by a trainer. If that wasn’t bad enough, another trainer was there with a clipboard to write down the big numbers. I sat down, thinking the hardest part was over with. Wrong. We all then had to be photographed standing against a fake wood-paneled wall - facing the camera, then standing sideways. I like to think of it as a full body mug shot. We were supposed to be excited by this, as these were our "before" photos. The seminar leader started her schpiel, and brought out a horn and honked it. Turns out that was to be our reward when we did something good. A honk...oh joy. She kept saying, “I know this is going to be a fun group!”. Looking around the room, I didn’t see a fun group. I saw a ragtag group of disheartened people who seemed as unthrilled as I was to be there. At the end of the session, we were told to sign up for our one-on-one appointment during the next week at the leader's home office. This was to discuss our body type, individual plan, etc. From the moment I walked into the church basement, I had the urge to turn and run. I toughed it out, and made it almost to the end. I even made it past the discussion of the reward honk. For some reason, though, the one-on-one appointment was the last straw. It was like in the "Cheers" episode when Norm found out there would be no beer at the lodge meetings. He threw down his turban and said something like "I'm outta here!". When my meeting ended, I told the leader this wasn't for me and asked for my money back. Then I turned tail and walked briskly to my car. In my head, though, I threw down my turban and ran.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Flu Shots

Many people think of autumn as the end of summer. It is my favorite time of year. When I think of autumn, I think of cool, crisp temperatures and colorful leaves. Oh, and flu shots. My mom was a big proponent of preventative medicine. Even as a child, we had flu shots. My best friend's dad was a surgeon. Once a year, usually around Halloween, select neighbors trooped into his kitchen for the yearly flu shot. As I remember it, we kids were usually in bed when we were rousted off to the neighbor's house. By the time we were fully awake, we'd be standing in line in our jammies, waiting for our shots. Pretty disturbing for someone (me) who hates needles. Every year, my sisters and I tried to distract my parents from noticing that flu shot season had arrived. There was a water tower with a needle on top at Trolley Square. Whenever we drove by it, we would go out of our way to make sure Mom or Dad didn't notice the big needle. In later years, we told Mom about our plot to distract. Her response? "What water tower?" I remember going to a haunted house at Halloween one year. One room looked like a mad scientist's laboratory. The person playing the mad scientist had a big hypodermic needle that he waved around menacingly. Instead of being frightened, we were more intent on making sure our parents skipped that room. I think we even chastised the scientist to "Stop waving that thing around!". Now that I'm all grown up, I try my best to be a good, conscientious mom. Every fall I insist my kids get a flu shot. I got mine today. In line, I had to keep my back to the nurse, or I might have run out of the room. It took a vision of myself hugging the toilet in the throes of the flu to keep me there. On the bright side, I wasn't in line in my jammies. Good thing, since I was at work. That would be hard to explain, and definitely not in compliance with the dress code.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I'm A Dinosaur

I have been contemplating getting an iPhone. The last time I bought a new cell phone, I decided it was time to officially step into the 21st century. It may have been 2010, but better late than never. I bought a touch-screen phone, and at my daughter’s urging, tried to “just play with it”. When it comes to electronic devices, I don’t play well. I get frustrated, scream and yell, and want to throw stuff. It was clear the first night that I was out of my league. The next day, I tested out the new phone as I watched Molly’s soccer game. I called my sister, but nobody was home. I left a voicemail and disconnected the call. Or at least I tried to disconnect. No matter what I did, my phone would not end the call. I was pacing back and forth, and touching my phone all over the place. I poked it, smacked it, stroked it, and even shook it like an Etch-A-Sketch. Nothing happened. After about 4 minutes, I did something right and the call ended. Oh joy...oh rapture! I felt like I had single-handedly landed on the moon. I know how long it took me to disconnect because my sister called me back. She said she had a 4 minute voicemail of me swearing and muttering. She thought it was funny, but I was embarrassed. My sister encouraged me to return the new phone. There was no reason to keep it if I was that unhappy. So, that’s what I did. The bad phone went back the next day and I purchased a slider phone with a little keyboard. There is nothing fancy about it which works just fine for me. I feel like a dinosaur every time I get an email that says “Sent from my iPhone”. Pondering what kind of dinosaur, I think I’m probably something slow-moving with big feet, like a stegosaurus. No touch screens for me. I’d have to be a raptor to work an iPhone with my evil little claws. I don’t have the strength to tackle learning a new phone right now. Check back in about 10 years. I’ll be off grazing on a palm tree.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Not For Sissies

Whoever said, “Growing old is not for sissies” knew what they were talking about. Take facial hair, for instance. On men, it’s part of the job description. On ladies, it’s upsetting and unattractive. It definitely doesn’t make a girl feel pretty. I routinely go on chin hair patrol. This can be done while watching TV, reading a book, or driving a car. I am really good about using my Bluetooth hands-free earpiece when I talk on the phone while driving. They haven’t passed a law about searching for unsightly facial hair while driving. Until they do, I will continue to hunt. Once the offending follicle is discovered, it is a battle I am unwilling to lose. It doesn’t matter that the hair can’t be seen. As long as I can feel it, it’s gotta I may start out with a microscopic dot, and end up with a red, scabby crater that can be seen from the Space Shuttle. It doesn’t matter, as long as the hair gets plucked. I keep at it until I win. Once I finally get a death grip on the chin hair, and am able to successfully extract it, I am surprised at its length. What may have seemed like a speck usually turns out to be about eight feet long. Where did that subterranean part hang out? Was it attached to my pancreas? Perhaps that explains why chin hairs take so much effort to pull out. After all that work, they grow back in a couple weeks. My poor scarred chin barely has time to heal before a new onslaught begins. I suppose I could just wait until enough is poking out before I begin the plucking process. I worry about falling down and knocking myself out, though, and waking up 3 weeks later with a full beard. Definitely not for sissies.

Friday, September 28, 2012

War On Pint-Size Women

The existence of gender inequality dawned on me early. In elementary school one drizzly day, I experienced my first "Hey wait a minute!" moment. Someone made the decision that the boys could go out to recess, but the girls had to stay inside. WTF? We stood at the windows watching the boys run around, having a great old time. I could not figure out the logic in this decision. It did not endear the boys to us when they came back from recess damp and stinkier than usual. I was incensed, and never forgot my first brush with injustice. One day a few years later, we had a substitute teacher. Miss Murphy was an elderly spinster who was probably deputized as she walked out of daily Mass. She was at least a thousand years old and probably not a qualified teacher. But hey, it was only for a day. How much damage could she do? Too bad that day was Friday, my favorite school day due to the fact that we got art class. I had to wait all week for my beloved class, which came in the last hour of the school day. I survived history, math, and all the other boring stuff just to get to Friday afternoon. And there stood Miss Murphy, with her crooked index finger, trying to figure out how to teach. For art class, she had the girls draw a vase of flowers and the boys had to draw a kid named Donald throwing a football. I was shocked and appalled. This rocked my world. Not that I wanted to draw Donald and his damn football, but the sexist nature of the assignment outraged me. There was no arguing with Miss Murphy who ruled with an iron fist. I drew the stupid vase of flowers, but didn't like it. Knowing how fate works, we probably got screwed out of time with our Weekly Reader too (another Friday afternoon perk). I hope for her sake, Miss Murphy eventually went to Girly Heaven - A place with lots of flowers, cups of tea, no smelly boys, and of course straight index fingers.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Life Before Spell Check

Does anyone remember the Ayres Spelling Test? I’m not sure if it was used universally in elementary schools in the 1950’s and 1960’s or only in Catholic schools. I was reminded of this test as I was driving home from work the other day. I spotted a truck with a picture of an open flame on the side. It looked very official, like it was carrying flammable material. Which brought my brain to the Ayres Spelling Test. One of the words on this test was “inflammable”, which curiously meant flammable. Go figure. Even at eight years old, I thought that was a dumb way to run a language. I wonder if the word “inflammable” has been fired, shelved, or simply gone extinct. Kind of like St. Christopher, Purgatory, and the planet Pluto. The Ayres Spelling Test came in a yellow rectangular paperback book. The words in the front of the book were easy, getting progressively harder until the last page. I remember on that page was the word “miscellaneous”. It was the grand-daddy of all the hard spelling words. We taught my younger sister that word when she was in kindergarten, just to blow people’s minds. Several times a year the Ayres Spelling Test was administered to the entire elementary school via intercom. Since this was Catholic school, we had to write the words in pen, with no cross-outs or corrections. You had to get it right the first time. No pain no gain, right? I guess I shouldn’t complain - I’m now a kickass speller. We also diagrammed sentences until our eyes crossed. I wonder if that is a lost art as well. I don’t believe my kids were taught spelling in school. They do pretty well, though, even without Spell Check. Maybe a bit of the Ayres Spelling Test is coursing through their pen...right the first time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Disney's Damn Vault

During the Primetime Emmy Awards show on Sunday night, there were a couple of commercials for a remastered version of Disney’s “Cinderella”. Both commercials seemed to say “You’d better buy me before I go back in the Disney vault or else!”. I felt a bit threatened. “Cinderella” is my favorite of all the Disney animated features. The heroine is spunky and not a goody-two-shoes like Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. There is some depth to her. While watching the commercials, I was reminded of a question I have always had - Why is Cinderella’s headband connected to her earrings? Was this in case she had to dash at the last minute to beat her midnight deadline? This fashion question has been niggling at my brain since I first saw the movie a million years ago. Another such question is regarding the horns “Sleeping Beauty" villainess Malificent wore. Was that just a scary hat? Maybe I was concerned that if I was a bad girl I might start to sprout horns. A girl’s gotta know. Disney animators were masters at creating villains. Most of them have been women, and beautiful. This is such a stroke of genius! Nothing is more sinister than evil hiding in plain sight under a benign facade. I think the thin baddies are also more menacing. They seem hungry, and not in a Gee-I’d-Like-A-Cookie kind of way. There is one more Disney fashion dilemma I’d like to solve. At the end of “Sleeping Beauty” two of the fairies disagree whether Princess Aurora should wear pink or blue. I have spent over 40 years trying to decide which I prefer. As soon as I decide blue, something tells me that pink is prettier. You’d think at some point I would realize this was not really my problem. Hello... ANIMATION... not reality. Still, I wish I could decide. Maybe if all the Disney videos were banished to the vault if I didn’t pick blue or pink, I could make a decision. Until then, though, I’ll take pink... no blue... Sigh...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Emotional Samsonite

My sister and I were discussing the lifetime of emotional baggage we all lug around with us. She is working hard on getting rid of hers. I, on the other hand, have clung to mine like it’s gold-plated. I told her I’m still steamed about an incident that happened to me in the third grade. A mere 49 years ago, yet it seems like just last week. I really want to release these bad feelings and set them free. The third grade incident seems like a good place to start. The year was 1963, and I had been out sick from school for about a week. We carpooled with Mrs. M. who was very scatterbrained. After school, I was standing outside her car trying to think of something clever to say after being gone for a week. While I had my hand on the car door handle, she peeled out. I assumed she would come right back, so I hung out in the parking lot, waiting. And I waited. And I waited. Nobody came back for me. I was alone on the planet... for TWO f*#*ing hours. I finally had enough, and took matters into my own hands. I walked up to my grandmother’s house, which was about 5 blocks away. As I write this, it seems like a no-brainer that I should have walked there right away. In my defense, though, I was only nine. I had never walked anywhere alone, and really, really thought I’d be rescued at any moment. I stormed into Gram’s house at the same time my mother was calling to see if I was there. I was furious! Not only had Mrs. M. driven off without me, it had taken my mother two hours to notice that I hadn’t come home from school. I had to play nice and accept Mrs. M.’s apology. So now, as my sister put it so sweetly, it’s time to clean the turd out of the swimming pool. Off you go Mrs. M. It’s alright. I turned out OK, nobody molested me in the parking lot, and I didn’t get run over by a car on the way to Gram’s house. I’m sure the walk did me some good. Sigh... I have a very long road ahead of me. Got steamer trunks full of junk to get gone. It will feel pretty good, I imagine, to purge. One down and a gajillion to go...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mrs Anderson's Arms

I was in the shower, lathering up my outstretched arm, when I noticed a major bump on my arm. “Dang, girl, you got an impressive bicep on you!” I said to no one in particular. I shook my arm a bit, and the bump began to undulate, vibrate, and make like Jello. The bump wasn’t a bicep at all, but a reverse bicep. OMG! I suddenly had my fifth grade teacher’s under arms. Mrs. Anderson was a portly woman, with the most wonderful, jiggly underarms. They fascinated me. When she pointed to call on someone, those great hams had a life of their own. I would have given an entire year’s salary for five minutes alone in a room with Mrs. Anderson’s underarms (if I’d had a full time job at age 11). I would smoosh them, bobble them, play Slinky with them, and basically have my way with them. She also had a double chin that changed shapes as she moved her head up and down. I didn’t want anything to do with the chins. They intrigued me in a can’t-look-away-from-a-car-accident kind of way. That area of Mrs. Anderson reminded me of a pelican. I used to wonder if a fish would come flying out when she opened her mouth. So now, more than 47 years later, my thoughts turn back to Mrs. Anderson. If she’s looking for her underarms, tell her I got ‘em. Fortunately, the chins haven’t found me... yet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

B-B-B-B-B-Bennie & The Jets

Of all the pop songs out there, I find Elton John’s to be the hardest lyrics to understand. I love the song “Bennie & The Jets”. Partly because my son’s name is Ben, and partly because I like the beat and melody. As I was waiting in the operating room for knee surgery years ago, I heard music playing. “Bennie & The Jets” came on, and a little Filipino nurse cruised by me singing “B-B-B-B-B-Bennie...”. That’s the last thing I remembered until I woke up in the recovery room. You’d think that would be a bad memory but it wasn’t. I find it kind of funny and still think of her every time I hear the song. Yesterday the song came on my car radio and I tried to sing along. It was then that I realized I have no clue what the words really are. Here’s what I was singing:

“Hey kids shake the news together 

It’s all the na na na na na na na na na na weather

Something something something something stick around

You’re gonna hear electric music side the falls the sounds

Say Candy and Ronnie have you seen them yet? 

Ooh but they’re so spaced out

B-B-B-B-B-B-B Bennie & the Jets

Oh but the woman is wonderful, Oh Bennie she’s really keen

She’s got electric boots, a mohair suit. You know I read it in a magazine

Oh ho ho B-B-B-Bennie & the Jets.”

Something tells me I got it wrong. If not, though, maybe I could be a songwriter myself. Na na na something something hey now na na na..

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Perv Next Door

Our first house together was located on a charming, old tree-lined street. It was there Rick and I experienced a street cleaning event. Once a year, you could put anything out on the street in front of your house. On your appointed day, large dump trucks would come down the street, followed by an army of people equipped with shovels and brooms. To get ready for the big day, Rick and I tackled the garage. He climbed up in the the rafters and threw junk down to me. While up there, Rick yelled “Hey, what kind of doctor was the guy we bought the house from? Was he a gynecologist?”. Then, he dropped his find down to me - a padded, flesh-colored torso that could be bolted onto a wall. It had no arms, and partial thighs. It was truly horrific, and definitely pervy. I couldn’t put this item out on the street until the last minute, due to the fact that people in pickup trucks would peruse the street cleaning items as soon as they were deposited. Our neighbor, a not-too-bright woman we called The Airhead, regularly checked out everyone’s junk piles. She had at least two toilets sitting on her front porch, in addition to other street cleaning treasures. The last thing she needed was a life-sized sex toy. By the morning of the street cleaning event, I was anxious to get rid of The Torso. At the crack of dawn, I took it out to the street, and buried it under some ugly decorative rocks and other assorted junk. Then, I scurried back to my house to await the dump trucks. At one point, I saw The Airhead poking around our pile. Fortunately, The Torso was buried deep enough to avoid ending up on her front porch. After an eternity, there was a rumbling, announcing the arrival of the trucks and sanitation workers. I was lurking in the shadows of my living room, awaiting the unveiling of The Torso. Finally, the shovel on the front of a dump truck picked it up. I was horrified when I saw The Torso dangling from the corner of the scooper. In my mind, or possibly in reality, all the shovel handlers turned and looked at my house. I saw the silent scream of “Pervs Live There!” emanating from their lips. Then, they were gone. I never did find out what kind of doctor sold us our house. No doubt a sexy one... or maybe just a really, really lonely one.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Born To Breed

Today is my son Ben’s 27th birthday. I can’t believe how fast the time has flown. Still seems like yesterday... OK a few years ago, that I gave birth to him. When I was pregnant that first time, I decided to go the natural route and enrolled in Lamaze classes. I have a phobia of needles, and the one used to manage childbirth pain is pretty much harpoon-sized. I would rather bite on a bullet or maybe eat a bug. Lamaze is basically a diversion tactic. You concentrate on a focal point, and perform breathing exercises. Hopefully, you don’t notice the football-sized object you are trying to expel from your nether regions. I grew more terrified after each Lamaze class. The whole childbirth experience became more daunting instead of less. As the last class ended, I had decided the baby should stay put. No way in hell was I going through ALL THAT. By then, though, there was only one way out. I performed admirably when the time came. I never once called anyone names or screamed for drugs. I concentrated on my focal point like I was trained to do. Except for a banana-shaped head, Ben came out perfect. I was convinced I was born to breed. My second childbirth experience wasn’t quite as smooth. Perhaps I had beginner’s luck the first time. I figured I could do it again, no sweat. Once the pain started in earnest, though, my first childbirth experience came flooding back. I started to consider an epidural. Having a harpoon shoved into my back was actually starting to sound not so bad. I had waited too long to scream for drugs, though, and had to do the natural thing again. This time, it was the baby’s idea to stay put. My daughter apparently had a death grip on my tonsils, and wouldn’t come out. Or at least that was the scene playing in my head. Had I known then what I know now, I would have had my doctor wave a Coach bag, fabulous pair of shoes, or state-of-the-art cell phone to lure Molly out. Retail therapy beats drugs any day.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I was stranded at home once for two days while my car was in the shop. As my husband was leaving for work on the second day, he gave me an assignment - to find the source of the bad smell in the refrigerator. It was bad enough to waste two vacation days sitting at home waiting to get my car back. Now I had to empty my fridge, hopefully NOT finding anything too gross. My goal was to discover the bad something before it had grown fur or changed color. I started out by making a pile of anything that could be expired. The pile got pretty big before I hit pay dirt. Lurking on the bottom shelf, way in the back, was a bag of sausages that had expired six months ago. I did not look very close, or open the bag for a smell test, but was relatively sure that six month-old meat was not a good thing. In my perusal of the refrigerator door, I found seven bottles of salad dressing and barbecue sauce that had also outlived their freshness date. One bottle was three years past its expiration. A new world’s record? Not by a long shot. I believe my own personal best (or worst) record is a nineteen year-old package of yeast, discovered last Thanksgiving. Technically that was hanging out in the cupboard, not the fridge, but it’s an awesome record just the same. I was in high hopes that the smell would go away with the sausages, but that didn’t happen. I tackled the freezer next, whereupon I discovered a new personal fridge best - a 7 year old roast. If it was in school, the Mystery Meat would be a first grader. I filled up four tall kitchen garbage bags with frozen meat. The next day was garbage day and I was lucky that my neighbors had room for two of the bags in their can. The bags o’ meat were extremely heavy. I worried the whole next day that the garbage men would think a dead body was in my can. What if the meat had thawed out overnight, and disgusting liquid leaked out from that little hole in the bottom of the can? I wouldn’t have been surprised if Seattle Homicide showed up at my door. The bad odor still wasn’t gone, but I probably wouldn’t be able to smell it from jail. Maybe things were looking up.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


I am definitely not confident in my mothering skills. I have two great kids who have grown into interesting adults. Boring was not an option. Still, I doubt my abilities. Even when I watch TV ads, I compare myself to the actors. Case in point - I saw a TV commercial showing a mother, three kids and a dog baking together (Seriously, who does that?). One of the children was holding an electric mixer up in the air, and turned it on. Chocolate cake batter went flying everywhere. Then they all laughed... even the mother. OMG! What was wrong with her? Was she seriously demented??? Had she been smacked on the head, prompting her to bake with the kiddies? I can’t imagine someone’s first reaction to a monumental mess being laughter. Anger, yes. Disbelief, sure. But not giggles, guffaws, or even snickers. No way! A similar commercial had two adorable little girls in school uniforms (white blouses) bringing a tray into their parent’s bedroom (white decor). The parents were propped up in bed (wearing white jammies, in front of a white headboard). Oh, and did I mention there was a little white dog? Can you predict what happened next? A glass with purple liquid on the tray spilled onto the white dog, who then shook his fur. This hurled purple dots onto EVERYTHING white. And then... everybody smiled. Even the purple dog. Later, the mother was seen putting the stained clothes into her washing machine... still smiling. What could explain these people calmly yucking it up while the world around them turns into cake batter and purple liquid? I believe these commercials were for high-efficiency washing machines, but would have been better suited selling tranquilizers, or perhaps tasers. I’m nor sure if the average citizen can purchase a taser, but I’d recommend one for baking with the kids. Now THAT makes me smile! (Note: In spite of what I just said, my kids really are OK.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


As I drove past a Lutheran church in my neighborhood, I saw a banner reading “Blessing of the Backpacks”. It’s still unclear to me whether one’s backpack will be blessed against bad things, or so good things will happen to its contents. I’m considering showing up at the backpack blessing ceremony with my wallet (my debit card needs all the help it can get). It’s worth a shot, however I don’t know if you need to be a Lutheran for it to work. As a recovering Catholic, I’d have to lie, which probably wouldn’t be a good thing to do inside a church. I am intrigued by all these blessing ceremonies and am anxious to see what’s on the next banner. My childhood was chock full of Catholic rituals. Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days, Confession on Fridays, and various ceremonies throughout the year took up a major chunk of my life. “High” Mass included incense, which always made my first grade friend Allison faint. Thunk... It added a little mystery and suspense to the whole thing. During a really special Mass, the bishop would walk down the center aisle and fling holy water from a little bucket. Sometimes, we tried to get hit and other times we ducked. It was like an encounter with a Holy super-soaker. After a while, the bishop’s tall pointy hat and ornate vestments seemed ordinary. Dude in a dress... so what? Sometime in February came the feast of St. Blaise. On that day, you could get your throat blessed. The priest would put crossed candles against your throat while chanting a blessing. Perhaps this ritual was bogus, or maybe Someone Important knew I was skeptical. Needless to say, I had many a sore throat for much of my childhood. Nowadays I could really get into a a ritual to stave off obesity and arthritis. If that would mean attending church again, though, I may have to just limp off into the sunset.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Trying For A Green Thumb

I spent part of my Labor Day pruning a pink dogwood tree in my front yard. I planted this tree about 10 years ago, and still haven’t seen even one of the fabulous pink flowers it’s supposed to have. Its leaves were starting to look spotted and dried out, so I took a cutting to the nearest nursery. The experts told me my tree probably had a fungus. To help the tree’s recovery, I was told to prune it and clean any leaves beneath it. I was also told to clean my tools afterwards, in order not to spread the fungus to another plant. Great... this was NOT going to be fun. I got all my tools out, including the giant clippers-on-a-really-really-long-pole. This pole came to my attention when I was in line at Home Depot several years ago. Someone was buying one, and I was fascinated. I decided right then I needed to own one. The first time I used the pole, I was pruning a 30’ cedar tree. I hadn’t realized when I bought the pole, that it had clippers at the end. I had just thought it was an extremely long hook. I climbed my crappy 5’ aluminum ladder, and used the big hook to pull branches within reach. Then I tied the long rope from the pole to my ladder, whereupon I would use my clippers to trim the branches. Looking back on it now, this procedure was awkward and silly. At the time, though, I thought I was a genius gardener. At one point, as I was standing on the top of the ladder, I lost my balance. I grabbed the pole and rope, and guess what happened? The hook actually cut the branch it was hanging on. Who knew? (besides everyone else in the gardening world) I felt like the biggest damn doofus, and hoped nobody had been watching my gardening acrobatics. Today, I used the clipper pole properly. I did giggle to myself the entire time, though. Good thing nobody knows about my mistaken use of the big giant clipper pole... until now.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What's In A Name?

Last month we changed our safe deposit box to a different bank. As I looked through all our treasures, I came across my birth certificate and a document from when I had my name legally changed at age 13. All my sisters had “Ann” for their middle name. I was christened “Martha Kim”. While I was named after my great-grandmother, my sisters weren’t named after anyone. They were just given names my parents liked. I had always felt like I was different and didn’t fit in. This name thing was concrete proof that my fears were true. How else do you explain it? It didn’t matter that I was always called Kim. I had let it slip to some classmates what my given name was. Bad idea! I came home every day whining that the mean boys were calling me Martha. They usually called me “Board” because my chest was as flat as one. You’d think Martha would have been a nice change from that. Unfortunately, there was a girl in our class named Martha and she was not my favorite person. She was tall, quiet, and kind of dorky. When the nun would leave the class unattended, Martha would pull out a book and read. Without being told to. Just read on her own. OMG! Something about the way Martha walked was strange too. She kind of walked without moving any part of her body except her feet. For some inexplicable reason, she reminded me of Natasha from the Bullwinkle cartoons. I can’t figure out why. Martha definitely didn’t wear a strapless blue dress or heels. She didn’t have a Russian accent either. In my brain, though, she was the spitting image of an evil cartoon character. My parents eventually relented and had my name legally changed to Kimberly Ann. Sigh... What a relief. Funny thing though, I lost the name I detested but still didn’t feel like I fit in. Oh well, I appreciated that my parents had tried. As I was looking over the papers in my safe deposit box, I noticed an interesting item on the legal document. The clerk who signed the document was named Martha. What are the odds? I truly hope I didn’t spout off about how much I hated that name. Knowing me, though, I probably did. Sorry to all the Marthas out there. All you cartoon characters too.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

World's Oldest Spy

There is a big hill I drive down on my way home from work. Most days, I see an elderly man walking up the hill. What makes him memorable is the fact that his legs are sort of wonky - kind of reverse-bowl legs. He walks with the aid of one of those canes with little feet... uphill. Amazing! This man has shoulder-length white hair and wears a baseball hat. Recently, when it’s been hot and sunny, he’s been wearing a visor backwards. One of the first times I encountered this man, his hat had either “FBI” or “CIA” written on it. Was he the world’s oldest spy? Obviously, he is a strong individual. No way would I make it up this hill. There is no sidewalk where he walks. Parts are lumpy grass next to a little ravine. Other parts are dirt or a skinny strip of asphalt. The hill is very steep. I would have to rest a bunch of times, but this man trudges along without stopping. He must be used to it, but still... I’m impressed. Recently I noticed Old Spy Guy was carrying something rolled up, with handles. It looked like a yoga mat. Could it be??? I tried to picture him in a yoga class. Could he do the Downward Dog pose? He could probably teach the class, wonky legs and all. I would love to know where he is going when he is hiking up the big hill. The first three days this week, I didn’t see him. I started to worry. Was he lying in the little ravine halfway up the hill? Was he out doing spy stuff, perhaps in some exotic foreign country? Maybe his cane is really some sort of James Bond combination grenade launcher/coffee maker. There could be a blade in his backwards visor. And what about that rolled up mat? A magic carpet would be cool, but that’s definitely not spy equipment. I know... it’s a yoga mat, and Old Spy Guy is probably just an impressive, determined man on a mission. Wherever he is heading, he has my admiration. Still think he’s a spy, though.

Monday, August 27, 2012

To The Rescue

My mother passed away 20 years ago last week. In her honor, I have retrieved a Mom story from the archives of my brain. Enjoy...
Mom was parked in the elementary school parking lot one afternoon. She saw a little Black boy playing in a parked car. Suddenly, the car started to move, driving past a darkened carport. Mom thought the little boy was in a runaway car, and jumped out of her car and ran toward it. She wasn’t sure how she was going to stop the car, but knew she had to try something. By this time, the car was moving past the school, which was tan brick. It was then she realized the car was being driven by a Black woman, whose skin had blended in with the dark background of the carport. I’m not sure how my mom gracefully ended her rescue mission, or if she just kept running (like it was her plan all along). That is similar to what I did twenty-seven years ago when I was six months pregnant with my son. At the time, we lived on a hill in San Francisco. Across the street, cars were parked parallel to each other, all the way down to the bottom of the hill. I came out to go to work one morning and saw a man bending over to get into my car. Without thinking, I yelled “Hey, get away from there!” in my very best From-The-Bowels-Of-Hell voice. Then, I ran down the hill, my maternity dress straining against my belly. As I got closer to my car, I realized the man was getting into the car next to mine. Not wanting to explain why I was yelling and running like I was on fire, I turned the corner and just kept running. The man looked startled, and a bit scared. I’ve always wondered if anyone was watching this unfold. It could have been a YouTube moment, had YouTube been invented back then.