Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Home Base

The front of every house is a magical place.

It's where we greet friends and embrace family.
It's where we open the door to new mornings
and say goodnight to the moon.
It's where we place the Welcome mat.

When I was young,
the front step was the most welcome sight
in the world.
To me, it usually meant I was finally home
after a long day at school.
It was a place to watch lightning bugs,
talk about how bored we were,
or simply a place to sit.

But most importantly,
it was "Base".
It was the only spot of safety
when playing Tag, Miss Goobygob,
or War.

It was a little concrete square of peace.
A place of security-
where no one could get us
(if they played fair)-
and all bets were off.

I still remember long summer nights
beneath the porch light,
playing shadow tag or Red Rover-
knowing that Mom would appear
at the screen door every few minutes
to make sure we were okay.
It was a security that we took for granted.
A shelter that we thought would always be there-
A firm sanctuary that would never go away.

But we went away.
We left the steps of home-
one by one-
till there was none of us left
to warm the porch
or to catch the fireflies.

When Mom looked out,
no one was there.

How sad she must have felt to see us
sprout invisible wings
and fly!
How bittersweet to see the years
change and vanish...

I just hope my children know
that our front step is always there for them.
That it is "base".
That no matter how old they are
or what they do,
I will love and protect them
as well as I know how.

They can come sit and talk
or just come to tell me
how bored they are.
We can watch fireflies
and autumn leaves
and clouds that drift to nowhere.
We can remember days
when they played tag,
cartwheeled in the dewy grass,
and built lopsided snowmen.

when I look out the screen door,
I can still see them as children-
running happily up the safety
of the steps
and into my arms.

And every once in awhile,
I still peek out,
hoping they are okay.
That they are safe
and happy
and that they will always
come back
to home base.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Dreaded List

I am making a list this morning.

It's a list in addition to the other five lists
that I have tucked away in my purse,
clipped on the fridge
or lost in an old notebook somewhere.

It's a Things To Do List.
And it just keeps getting bigger...

You know, I am really quite content with
the way my house looks most times.
I ignore the dog hair under the kitchen table,
the toothpaste splatters on the bathroom mirror,
the single wispy cobweb that has waved like
a dusty flag over the hallway for months now.

But, I am trying to get ready for company that
is arriving in a few weeks.
I am desperately trying to see my house
through their eyes.

Do you think they'll notice the pile
of old magazines in the bathroom,
the crayon marks on the closet door,
the layer of dust on my picture frames,
or the crumbs in my silverware drawer?

Do you think they will smell yesterday's trash,
survey the pantry
or check the hand towels for fabric softener?
Will they see the baited mouse trap,
the dead fly,
the dirty windows?

It is all so overwhelming at this point.
And the problem is,
I don't really want to do any more
than is necessary.

I am certainly not going to clean the oven,
wax the car,
or paint the junk room.

But I do need to mop, dust, vacuum,
wash rugs, sheets, curtains...
Scrub the toilet, the counters,
and the fridge.

The Fridge.
That big scary monster that houses
horrible surprises!
There is something quite intimidating
about cleaning the refrigerator.

I would rather scour the toilet bowl
than open Tupperware bowls
full of unknown substances.
I would rather get on my hands and knees
to rid the tub of soap scum
than to sort through jars of salad dressing
and pickles and old jelly.

I try to be thrifty and save leftovers.
But they always seem to get pushed to the
back of the fridge.
I have had quite a science lesson
from them, actually.
Week old chili grows white mold,
aged cheese grows green mold
and cottage cheese kept beyond the sell date
will sprout black mold.

If kept long enough,
fresh carrots will wilt into dead fingers,
green peppers will melt into pulp,
and old apples will bounce.

I see all of you making faces-
looking disgusted and nauseated.
But unless you are suffering from
Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder-
I know you all have faced the
same dreaded refrigerator episode
that I've described.
Face it.

The refrigerator is my top priority now
because I know that everyone
who reads this
and is coming to visit soon-
will be peeking into the fridge
to see if I've cleaned it.

So, I guess I should get started now.

Gas mask?
Rubber Gloves?
Garbage disposal and trash can ready?
List handy?

Where's my list?
I can't start cleaning without a list.

I am making a list this morning....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Six True Things

My niece Kelli has asked me to participate in a "meme", which is a list of questions that you answer about yourself. (Thus, the word "me- me"). I was asked to list 6 unspectacular things about myself. (Obviously things that no one knows or suspects- because we all know everyone wants the scoop or the poop on everybody else!) Here goes:

1. I actually saw a UFO on April 14, 1998. If you don't believe me, go to your bookstore and ask for the book "The I-Files- True Reports of Unexplained Phenomena in Illinois by Jay Rath and open it to page 31.

2. I cannot parallel park, tie a cherry stem with my tongue, sing, play a musical instrument, do algebra, watch football on TV, use a circular saw, or make pie crust.
(However- confidential to all my silly sisters- I CAN skip!)

3.I love margaritas, salted nuts and loaded nachos. Preferably all at the same time.

4. I want to move into a little hand-built log cabin deep in the woods where my husband and I can tinker in the barn with wood and metal and crafts. Where we can have fresh eggs and chickens, a big garden, a stone fireplace, maybe a hot tub, and a big screened in porch with an iron bed where we can sleep under the tin roof and listen to the rain. I want my husband and I to grow old together and live happily ever after.

5. I can't draw realistic looking people.

6. My mom hit me on the head with a biscuit can when I was little for throwing a fit while she was cooking. I'll never forget the look on her face when she realized what she had done. That's the first time I ever used the "guilt complex" on her and milked it for all it was worth. I think she rocked me for a good thirty minutes and kissed my boo-boo numerous times!

Now I am supposed to "link" so that others will answer. Not sure I know how.
I guess that should be #7. I am basically computer illiterate.
So, I'll just give a shout out to all my sisters and nieces!

Start giving us the Poop!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Time- Friend and Foe

Time can be a wonderful thing when you're anticipating the future.

It can transport you quickly
to the vacation you've been waiting for-
the day your baby gets potty trained,
and it can take you
to the season you like best.

Time can be the vehicle
to get you to the next pay check,
the next morning-
the next dream.

But time can also rob you
of some of the most priceless
treasures in your life.

Sometimes I forget
how beautiful my sister Barbara really was.

Time has faded the outline of her face-
the sound of her voice-
the touch of her tender hand.
How is it that when I think of her,
I cannot remember her clearly?
And that- along with the heartache-
comes a blur of days we spent together?

Everyone in the world
would like to have a friend like Barb.
She was never critical, always giving-
her laughter and positive outlook
was infectious-
you couldn't help but giggle when she giggled
or smile when she smiled.
Her soft voice like a calming light
amid the whirl of the world.

When I was little, she was my protector-
the big sister that I shared a twin bed with.
She was my comfort when the Boogie Man
made an appearance at the foot of the bed
or my baby brothers drove me to insanity.

I will never forget the day she came home
from her honeymoon.
I hid behind a tree as her and her new husband
drove into the drive.
I was filled with such a feeling of betrayal-
that she had left me behind to love this
tall, silly man.
How dare she!
How in the world could she move into
another house- another world?

There were a lot of years lost after that.
I grew up
and we grew away from each other.

And when we finally re-connected,
we were both grown women-
sisters who understood the importance of time.

We knew it had a way of melting our lives.

Time was the one thing we had too much of.
Too much time had made us older
and more cynical-
grayer and fatter.

But,in the end
she did
not have enough...

Though it is sometimes difficult to see,
I try to imagine her sitting in her
favorite green chair-
her stubby legs propped up
as she watches soap operas-
surrounded by her beloved teddy bears
and sentimental trinkets-

I can almost see her laughing again
till she loses her breath
and rolls into a bundle of vibrating happiness.

I see her in her colorful printed Capri's
and costume jewelry-
complete with comfortable house slippers
and her little red purse.

And if I reach really, really deep
into the memories of my heart,
I still can hear
her soothing voice.

I think she would say-
"Laugh more.
Worry Less.
Be yourself.

Embrace time-
tackle it to the ground
and inhale every precious moment."

We miss you, Barb.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


When I looked out the front window yesterday,
I knew what had to be done.

The yard was going to seed,
the garden wilted into an ugly mass
of withered vines,
the bird feeders were empty
and weeds had taken over my
pitiful petunias.

I procrastinated at first.
I thought that maybe a nap would
help me forget
or a trip to town might
make it all go away.

But I decided to face it head on.
I dressed in my lawn gear
and began my outdoor chores.

I cranked up the weed eater
and for some reason,
the entire time it was spitting out rocks and
grass and dandelion greens-
I was singing "Ghost Busters" in my head.
I even tried to concentrate on stuff to
write for my blog,
but nothing except those goofy lyrics
would embed into my brain.
What made it worse is,
I don't even know the words.

Usually when I ride the lawn mower,
I say a prayer or two.
Call me a weirdo, but
that's the most private time I have.
Inside the house, I am distracted by
things that need cleaned and straightened-
and usually my prayers drift off into sleep
or a load of laundry.
But, there on my lawnmower,
I can't escape or be distracted.
The grass is being cut and my mind is free.
Do you think it's wrong to pray for
the grass to quit growing?

By afternoon, I was looking pretty gritty.
My hair was entwined with twigs,
my jeans were grass-stained
and my body was begging for mercy.
Sweat was drenching my brow,
chiggers were having a party on my ankles,
and blisters popped out like popcorn
on my palms.
But I persevered.

And the wonderful thing
about my full day of work
is that suddenly
it all became a pleasure.

I noticed yellow and purple leaves
that had softly fallen from the trees.
The sky was a beautiful clear blue
and the sun cast shadows and
ripples on the pond.
I saw black-eyed susans
and little grasshoppers
and frogs hopping to escape
my monstrous machines.

I noticed yellow finches,
the neighbors coal-black cat
and young horses playing in the field nearby.
The sun felt good on my arms and my face.
The grass smelled fresh.
The song in my head finally changed
from "Ghost Busters" to
"Oh, What a Beautiful Morning".

When all was said and done,
I swept the walk, fed the birds
and surveyed my work.
The lawn was absolutely flawless.
Each pass of the lawnmower
had left perfect rows of cut grass
like strokes of a giant paintbrush.
The sight was pure and clean and pleasing.

I was glad then that I hadn't procrastinated.
I was happy that I hadn't wasted the day
napping or shopping.
I was thankful that I was witness to
the changing season
and to nature's incredible gifts.

It was then that I closed my eyes
and said, "Thank you, God, for letting the grass grow."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Best Day of My Life

It was 1975. The summer was hot.
The days were slow, but the nights were not.

I would sit around in cut-off jeans-
writing poems and dreaming dreams.
And out of the air
Of the summer sun's glare
Our eyes met
And I soon was aware
That nothing would ever be the same again
Because I met and fell in love with him.

It was 1975. I just turned nineteen.
Not a child. Not a woman. Somewhere between.
But his smile spoke of gentleness
that I couldn't deny
The first time I met him
and he caught my eye.

And the summer became
what I can never explain-
Like the sweetness of honey
or the touch of the rain.
And I knew nothing would ever be the same again
Because I met and fell in love with him.

It was 1975. The summer soon fled.
The leaves were falling in blankets of red.
And so intense was my love and undying care-
That it was my life - not just summer-
that I wanted to share.

And out of that time so simple and kind
I became his
And he became mine.

And nothing will ever be the same again
Because I still
am so in love with him!


I journeyed far that summer
Though I was just eighteen
and barely knew the way
across town and back.
I drifted through hot, heavy days
with no roots-
but with wings!
Young and soaring
past what once
were obstacles.

I tasted cold beer,
warm wine
and even smoked a cigarette
that made me sick.
I grew up.
And my heart played
like a child
venturing beyond
the edge of the sidewalk.

But of all the places
I journeyed that summer,
Your eyes were the best-
and your heart opened up
like a huge velvet door
and pulled me in.

I have never wanted out.

I love you beyond imagining...
Happy Anniversary.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What's All the Fuss About?

There are three things in life that I am fussy about.

Driving, sleeping, and toilet paper.

As far as driving goes-
I never start the car without my seat belt on,
I demand that every driver on the road use turn signals,
and I must always park
right next to the cart corral-
just so I can find my car.

The room must be cool, the sheets must be fresh,
my pillow must be head-conforming,
and there shall be no dogs in my face.

Toilet paper-
Like everyone, I prefer softness.
But sometimes the four-ply,
quilted, double-strength, extra-aloe
is simply overkill.

Just give me the basics.
I don't need or want
a feather-down comforter to wipe with,
but on the other hand,
recycled wood pulp with
natural corn husks
can be an
environmental pain in the butt.

But, to even things out, there are three things in life
that I am NOT fussy about.

Cooking, decorating, and clothes.

When it comes to cooking,
there are two things I do prefer
and that is
easy and cheap.

Paula Deen can jabber away
with her cute little accent
all she wants,
but if the recipe
calls for special herbs, cream of tarter,
a food processor, or a candy thermometer-
Forget it!

If the ingredients to make a dish
cost more than the
I pass.

Why get so fussy?

A magazine article I read last week
featured a question to The Barefoot Contessa.
Someone wrote in saying that they were having
a dinner party with about fifty guests
but wanted to serve something they could make after
a long day at work-
something non-fussy, but delicious.
The Contessa suggested
Provencal Vegetable Soup.
Sounds easy doesn't it?

What in the heck is saffron threads?
Pistou? Or haircots verts?

Give me Campbell's or Cup-O-Soup anytime-
and please-
give those fifty guests a nice hot dog or something!

On to decorating....
Decorating is something easy
that is made to appear difficult
just so designers can have a job.
My theory is-
if it looks good,
fits in the space,
and you like it -
then it's perfect!

Designers like to use big words like:
Collaborate, symmetry,
neoclassical style, transition, facade,
balance, and clean-lines.

I use words like:
Great yard sale find!
Unusual, different, antique-looking,
well-loved, down-to-earth,
and homey.

One decorator was asked about
choosing paint color.
She loves Sherwin-Williams
"Real Red".
And I quote her:
"This is a real red, a Ferrari red.
And after arriving in my red Ferrari,
I can see myself in a red library
sipping on champagne
while wearing my red Valentino gown."

that brings me to the next non-fussy
part of my life-
Give me comfort.
Stretchable, bendable, breathable.

Here is my fussy quote of the day to
all you weirdo cooks, eccentric designers,
and clothing magnates.

"I prefer a nice sandy color for my
family room.
The color of good, clean dirt.
I can see myself arriving
in my old truck
after an afternoon at Wal-Mart -
imagine myself in my dirt brown room,
eating Cool Ranch Doritos-
followed by a stack of Oreos -
lounging in my jog pants and
old-lady sweater,
pondering what the heck
that I'm gonna fix for supper!"

Just remember this,my friends-
Life's too short
to be so fussy!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Mini-Vacation

Home! What a wonderful place to be!

Sorry I haven't blogged for a few days.
My husband and I went on a mini-vacation
to Branson.
I have to write about it
at the risk of boring you all to death.
But maybe my experience will help
some of you when choosing a getaway.

It was purely impulse and even though it
cost a bit, the memories are priceless.
It was the first vacation we have gone on alone.
Our anniversary is this Wednesday
(more about that on Wednesday's blog)
and after 33 years,
you'd think we'd have done it all!
It is sad to think you have to get old
before you have the time or money to do things
that you need energy and a young body to do!

I got online Wednesday and started looking for deals.
I ran across a website called Vacations Made Easy.
Here I typed in what nights I wanted and any
ticket events I was interested in.
As you add options, the package price is shown.
This was great because when I reached my budget limit,
I quit - or even went back and deleted a few things
that weren't really necessary or too costly.
I saved about $20 a night by selecting a 2 Queen bed
room instead of 1 King.
I got tickets for Thursday and Friday events,
but left Saturday open.
I recommend that to anyone because there are
more things to see and do
than what you read about in brochures or online sites.

I was a little worried about printing tickets from my computer.
The VME e-mailed me the vouchers after I made a quick payment by phone
with my debit card.
I was so surprised and pleased with the way it all worked.
I presented the printed voucher at the hotel-
no money had to be exchanged-
and everything was as they described.
It wasn't the Hilton, but it was cute and clean and quaint.
And within a few miles distance of everything.

We went to see The Shepherd of the Hills play
in an outdoor theater the first night.
The ticket vouchers all went smoothly again.

The production was nice, but after awhile,
the benches got uncomfortable
and bugs started buzzing.
If you have ever seen the movie version with John Wayne-
it is nothing like that at all.
But the actors were great and they even
burned up a log cabin in one scene
and asked the audience to come down front
and square dance with them.
Needless to say,
we didn't.

Friday we went to our first IMAX theater.
We saw the Ozarks and the next day went to see
the Deep Sea.
The screen is 6 stories tall
and has 22,000 watts of sound.
There were only a handful of people there
so we got our choice of seats.
The only complaint I had is
the shows only last about 45 minutes.

Friday night we showed our ticket voucher
to get on The Branson Belle river boat.
Again, an easy and smooth experience.
We wore our jeans- nothing fancy required here.
We were seated in a large ampi-theatre
and were entertained by singers and dancers while
being served chicken, beef, vegetables and dessert.
There was an acrobat act from Russia
and then our favorite-
Todd Oliver.
He is a ventriloquist with dogs and is so funny.
If you ever get the chance to see him
on the Tonight Show or Comedy Channel,
make sure you watch.
We got to go up top and look at the city lights
during intermission as the boat cruised back to dock.
We had a great time.

Saturday we decided that to go to
Silver Dollar City just to say we had been there.
We were getting in line for the tickets
(which were $54 each !)
and some young lady in the crowd
asked if we wanted tickets and gave us two!
I hugged her!
It saved us over $100 !
I am so glad now that we didn't order the tickets beforehand.
There was a lot of walking, but the smells of
food and burning wood and seeing all the little log cabins
was worth the effort.
The crafts were very expensive,
the food fairly reasonable (we had a cheese pretzel and Coke),
and the place was decorated for the fall festival.
The pumpkins and corn stalks and scarecrows
really got me in the autumn mood.

Having saved some money on that,
we got tickets that evening for The Dixie Stampede.
Several people had recommended it.
The tickets were about the same price as SDC,
but this included dinner.
There was a horse show and singing while
we were served a whole baked chicken each,
bbq pork tenderloin, baked potato,
corn on the cob, and cake, coffee and tea.
No silverware!
Everything had to be eaten with your hands!
The show was neat.
The kids would have liked it.

But even after all the fun and relaxing that we did,
it is wonderful to be home again.
Even to dirty laundry
and cooking and cleaning
and my everyday life.

Home Sweet Home!
I am glad to be back!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Preserving the Freedom of Smell

Do you smell that?


Me neither.

That's because the world is going odorless.
Corporations are now offering scentless product lines
of their popular products-
marketed with such labels as "environmentally friendly",
"allergy-free", and "non-toxic"-
No added perfumes, chemicals, or volatile substances.

In other words, the world is out to eliminate our freedom of smell.

I sympathize with the 50 million Americans that suffer from allergies.
I understand the obnoxious smell of a woman who
has apparently bathed in a heady perfume
or a guy drenched in too much Old Spice.
I cringe at the odor of thick cigarette smoke,
the stink of a paper mill,
or the stench of a neighbor's open sewer.

I agree that some fragrance issues should be addressed.
But have we gone too far?

The Crayola factory i
n Bogota, Columbia has removed the
"Crayola" smell from its products.

Are they mad?
How did they decide to take away a childhood memory-
An American icon?

The smell of Crayola Crayons is among
the twenty most recognizable smells to American adults.
Coffee and peanut butter are number one and two.
Crayons are #18.

All of us remember our first box-
the smell of opening the waxy sticks at school-
the colors bright as a rainbow-
the new points all sharp and perfect.
The average child wears down 730 crayons
by their tenth birthday.

The smell is what makes them so attractive
in the first place.
By removing the smell,
are we in danger of removing the desire to create and color?
Are we messing with nature here?

Back in 1994, Crayola actually began super-scenting their crayons.
They started offering food-scented crayons such as
coconut, licorice, chocolate, cherry, and blueberry.
They smelled good enough to eat.

And to some parents, that was a problem.
Although Crayolas are non-toxic,
parents were worried that their children might actually eat them.

So, the parents got their way.
Sort of.

The Crayola corporation decided to change
the attractive food smells to non-edible smells.
Chocolate became Dirt.
Licorice became Leather Jacket.
Coconut is now Baby Powder
and Peach is the smell of Lumber.

I'm okay with that, I guess.
But to do away with the smell of crayons altogether?

How do they justify ripping away our memory glands
and replacing them with a robotic, non-odorous
scentless, sterile, germicide-injected,
pure nothing smell?

Would you buy a car without that "new car" smell?
Do you want an orange cleaner, a lemon dish washing detergent,
a powerful bleach, or lilac Tide to have no smell?
Are we to do without the fragrance of band-aids,
new baby dolls, and Lysol?
Will they change the smell of summer nights
by making no-scent Off?
What's next?
Popcorn, pizza, candles, and perfumes?

It's time to stand up and sniff.
To let the world know that we want a stinky,
smelly, perfumed, incensed, spiced, sachet-ed,
sweetened, musked, potpourri-ed, flavored, fragrant world!

I want my grand kids
and their kids to know
the complete and innocent thrill
of smelling something as simple
as a crayon.
I want them to know the
tender, fragrant memory-
long after the box is torn,
the years have passed,
and they have grown.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fat Tuesday

I woke up this morning thinking about food.

Maybe it's because the Food Police are loose in my house.

All of a sudden my husband and daughter have decided
that it is finally time to crack the whip,
roll out the scales,
and torture their bodies- (and mine)- with deprivation.

I know, I know - I agree it has to be done.
But why now, of all times?
Why on earth, now?

Why now that candies and carmel-y things
and rich, moist pumpkin cakes are popping up on
every grocery store aisle.
magazine cover,
and television commercial?

Why now that the world is thick
with cheesy chili
and fat dumplings
and chunky stew?

Don't they understand
that turkey and stuffing and pecan pie
are only a few months away?
And beyond that-
Sugar-glazed ham and Christmas cookies
and fifty kinds of fudge?

And then there is New Years Eve,
teeming with high-calorie cocktails and champagne
and snack-y things like baby wieners
and rolls of salty salami and saltines.

Then comes Valentines Day
with chocolate hearts bursting at every turn
oozing with coconut and marshmallow and creamy centers.

Then after that...
Groundhog Day.
(How in the heck can you even think of dieting
when there's going to be
six more weeks of winter!)

Don't they see that society is on alert?
That we are bound to be ambushed at every turn?
That this old world doesn't want us
to succeed?
That Pizza Hut will surely come up with
some great new menu item
and offer it at fantastic savings-

or the price of tuna will go so high
that we can't afford to buy it for our "diet"?
That there will probably be a "mad chicken" epidemic,
that lettuce will be found carcinogenic
and they will stop the production of rice cakes?

It's not just us against temptation-
It's us against the world!

It's us against the Twiggy's and the Anna Rexic's
and bony models that strut their bulimic bodies
down the runway of our lives!
It's us against the size Zeros and One's
and long, giraffe-legged-bombshells
that portray the average woman!
We're fighting against sexy push-up,
thong-y underwear
and belly tops
and sleek, shape-sticking skinny jeans!
Of four inch spike heels
and cute ankle bracelets
and thin necks that don haircuts
for high cheek bones!

But, I guess I must prepare myself for a fight.

I must arm myself with a food diary,
a calculator,
a bag of carrot sticks
and a "before" picture.
I must hike up my jogging pants,
suck in my belly roll,
and twist my "Just My Size" underpants
into combat position.

You know...
I still think we ought to wait until after
Groundhog Day....
And even then, there's Easter to follow-
with Cadbury Eggs and chocolate bunnies-
and then July 4th with
potato salads and casseroles
and big, fat brats on the grill....

Oh, woe is me!
It's me against the world!!

On guard!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

For the Love of Chocolate

I have never met a woman who didn't like chocolate.

And, as a matter of fact, I don't think I would ever want to meet one.

The kind of woman that doesn't like chocolate
probably doesn't like beautiful sunsets,
cute puppy dogs
and comfortable pajamas.

The woman who doesn't like chocolate is probably
and a little over the edge.

Plus, she would most likely be skinny,
have a flawless complexion,
and look down her nose
at those of us
that simply love chocolate.

It's no secret.
I love chocolate.
I could eat chocolate for every meal.
I even put chocolate on my chocolate!

When it comes to chocolate, I welcome all types.
From bars to bom bons
to Kisses and cakes.
Fountains and flakes
and sprinkles and spreads
and powders and pies
and wafers and wedges.

I love milk chocolate, semi-sweet, dark, white, and blended.
I love the cheap stuff and the expensive stuff.
I love solid, hollow and fun-filled.

I have never met a chocolate that I didn't like.

But before you judge me-
before you imagine me as a 500 pound
sumo wrestler
lounging in a pool of chocolate syrup,
let me make one thing clear.

I eat it for my health.

The benefits from consuming chocolate
are astounding.
Cocoa and
dark chocolate benefit the circulatory system.
Other benefits include anticancer, cough preventive,
and anti-diarrhea effects.
Studies even show that certain types of chocolate
delay the decline of brain function as people age.

And, as we all know, chocolate is an aphrodisiac.
It stimulates the hypothalamus -
inducing pleasurable sensations.
(Well, it's really not been scientifically proven yet,
but what could it hurt?)

Of course I eat it for my health!

For example, just the other day
I was feeling very badly,
but I had to get out to run errands
and do my grocery shopping.
I was just dragging myself down the aisles,
leaning on the cart,
sludging along in a fog-
when all of a sudden
I bumped into the "sample lady".
There on her pristine little paper-doily covered cart
was an array of Halloween chocolates-
all as pretty as can be
with orange swirls and malted-milk-ball spiders and
nutty nougats of pure delight.

"Care to try the new Hershey's treats?" she asked politely.

"Are you retarded? I thought, "Of course I want to try the treats!"

As a matter of fact, I wanted ALL the treats-
not just the fragments the sample lady had
broken into pea-sized portions and placed into
mini-cupcake holders.

But I held back.

"Oh, I really shouldn't..." I said, grabbing the biggest chunk available.

I am here to tell you today that
no matter how much you tell yourself to "make it last"-
chocolate disappears mysteriously.

I wanted to savor that tiny sample...
to roll it on my tongue like fine wine...
to suck every single calorie out of its being...
to absorb its yummy goodness...

Oh! Er...I mean, I wanted to embrace its finer health benefits!

And what they say is true- I suddenly felt a little better.
But, at the same time, I also knew
that I could feel A LOT better.

So, I circled the produce department,
fluffed my hair and put on my sunglasses
and made another pass by Hershey Heaven-
this time snatching two extra truffles
while the sample lady was temporarily distracted.

The next round, I removed my jacket,
put on lipstick, and walked taller-
I even pushed an empty cart so she wouldn't
recognize me.

The forth time, I actually borrowed a hat
from the ladies department,
a shawl from the clearance rack,
and some woman's baby.
Then I pawed my way back to another happy chocolate fix.

You don't know how wonderful it feels
to know you are giving your body
the benefits it needs.

I just feel sorry for the women
who don't like chocolate.
Their skinny lives will be shorter
and less exciting than mine.

But, hey, it just means
more chocolate samples
for women like me!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The TV Guide To Life

Sometimes life is like a big TV show.

We were all raised in a HOUSE.
It could have used some HOME IMPROVEMENT, but it was home.
but we realize now that we are lucky it wasn't somewhere in
DALLAS, or even in LOS VEGAS.
We were lucky we had a dad that wasn't a giant
but a regular FAMILY GUY,
and blessed with a mom who believed in FAMILY TIES


She was just a great mom- MARRIED, WITH CHILDREN.
But she taught us to remember our ROOTS.
And when we did have problems, we kept it ALL IN THE FAMILY.
I say CHEERS to that.
No use airing dirty laundry.

We sure had some GOOD TIMES.
But then we all grew up and sprouted WINGS.

We didn't just GET SMART overnight, though.
We went through some GROWING PAINS.
We were THIRTY-SOMETHING before we realized
that our WONDER YEARS were over
and to be a SURVIVOR,
we would have to face the FACTS OF LIFE.

We learned that some people
are out to MASH your dreams.
is really not all that important.

We have also learned the following:

Listen to your COACH.
Let them know WHO'S THE BOSS.
Never lose track of your BOSOM BUDDIES.
Learn to say, YES, DEAR.
Save your money, but WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE
if it can't bring you happiness?
Don't just buy something because THE PRICE IS RIGHT.
Never put your life in JEOPARDY.
Don't be afraid of an EMPTY NEST. It may be a blessing.
Love God.
Let yourself be

And remember-
that no matter who we are
or where we live
or what we do

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Letting Go of Summer

I love autumn.

But yet, as I see it coming, I know that summer will be over.
And there are things I will miss about summer...

I will miss the smell of freshly mowed grass.
suntan oil and chlorinated pool water.
Hot sand on bare feet, surprise lilies,
turtles crossing the road and
the cracking of ice in a cooler.

I will miss listening to the birds
as they have a morning party in the treetops,
watching the fields swell up with corn,
and feeling the sun burn little red patches beneath my eyes.

I will miss hummingbirds,
green leaves,
and moonlight.
I will miss going barefoot-
wearing tee shirts and sandals
and sunglasses.

I will miss cold iced tea
and banana Popsicles eaten from the porch swing.
I will miss grilling steaks.
I will miss sipping wine while a perfumed breeze blows around me.
I'll miss taking walks down freshly oiled roads,
of dust on the windowpanes,
of wild flowers on the fringe of the horizon.

I will miss juicy red tomatoes
and crisp watermelon
and blackberries baked into a sugary cobbler.
I will miss strawberries
and home-made ice cream
and peaches so ripe they drip from your chin.

I will miss rummage sales
and outdoor parties
and planting a garden.
Of night crawlers
and open umbrellas
and the yellow lights of a carnival.

Funnel cakes,
glow bracelets,
and bright bandannas.

I will miss slow talks around the picnic table,
wishing on a sky of bright stars,
drive-in theaters,
clotheslines flapping with color,
and moths fluttering near the porch light.

I will miss screen doors,
ceiling fans
and gingham tablecloths.

I will miss fireflies
and baby wrens
and newborn colts bolting across the field.
I'll miss sweet rain storms
and the comfort of my chair as it thunders outside,
the spark of lightning-
and puddles in the driveway.

I'll miss crisp cucumbers
and fresh green beans
and over-ripe pears.

I'll miss nights with the windows open,
shear curtains,
soft sheets over sunburned skin

I'll miss margaritas around the tiki bar,
visiting Missouri,
the idea of camping
and the sting of mosquitoes.

I'll miss bumblebees,
four-leaf clovers
and snow cones.
Lawn chairs,
and laziness.

I will miss summer.

I miss it even now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Radar Love

What is it about a dog that can make your life so loving and wonderful, but at the same time, make you use words you never say in church?
What is it about their beady eyes and toothy smiles that makes us wonder if they love us, or if they just love to manipulate us?

About three years ago, my son came home from a college visit
and brought with him a fluffy bundle of fur named "Radar".
He was a Jack-Russell/Pappilion mix.
Radar was one of those puppies that you just wanted to squeeze
and talk baby-talk to, and plant kisses on.
He made you say crazy stuff like "oooh, sweetsie, goo-goo, precious...."

That sort of thing.

Radar was one of those rare little animals
that people stopped on the street to look at,
that the bank tellers gave extra Milk-Bones to,
and the kind of puppy you might see in a movie-
tumbling from a big box
under the Christmas tree.

It was a while till my son's next visit home.

I met him in the doorway with a hug and then looked down at his feet.

"What's that?" I asked.
"What do you mean, 'What's that?' - it's my dog."
"You got a new one?" I questioned.
"No, this is Radar," he said, bending down to pet him.

Well, just as beautiful babies can grow up to
be real ugly ducklings-
Radar had definitely lost the majority of his good looks
and was now long-legged and shaggy,
jumping like pogo stick at the chance for attention.

To put it kindly, he was an ugly dog.
But, being only the "grandparent",
I knew I wouldn't have to suffer the embarrassment
of strangers staring at the end of the leash,
of bank tellers weeping in sympathy,
or feel the humiliation of going to claim him if he ever got lost.
(Lord knows no one would ever steal him.)

But all that soon changed.

My son moved and couldn't keep Radar,
and, as all good grandparents do,
we took him into our house.
Into our lives.
Into our once quiet, flea-free home.

At first we treated him like a new baby.
(An ugly baby, nonetheless)- but, hey- what's a grandparent to do?
We ran him tepid little bubble baths,
laid him in soft fleece blankets
and fed him the most expensive puppy chow.

And, without realizing it, we began to love him.

It was a gradual love.
He would curl up with us and lick our faces
when we came home.
He would fall asleep in our laps and we
wouldn't move for hours in fear of waking him.
He would bark at strange sounds
and look at us like he was doing us a big favor.

We began buying him regular puppy treats,
a variety of tennis balls and Frisbees,
and set him up a toy basket in the hallway.
We bought him a new collar
and a shiny tag with our address and phone number on it.

We had officially adopted Radar.

And, so, with love, comes comfort.

The sweet bubble baths became "Let's get it over with" ordeals.
The puppy chow became generic.
We pushed him aside when he began to nap,
telling him to go somewhere else.
And we flipped him off of our bed
when he attempted to take over our space.

What is so strange is the fact that Radar no longer seemed ugly.
He was our sweet little dog that loved us in return.
Anyone who might even infer that he was ugly
might be sorry they spoke up.
(A parents wrath can be so cruel, you know.)

We weren't looking for a dog when we found him.
We weren't wanting to devote any time, space, or affection
to any type of pet.
But love works in mysterious ways.

So, today, open up your heart and ask
what do you have room for?
A new pet, a brand new baby, a lifestyle change -
or simply just love and forgiveness?
Our lives and hearts and arms
are bigger than we think
and are only enriched by staying open.

Even to ugly dogs.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Check this out

I am always on the lookout for great artists and I found a real winner. Look at this site: http://www.laurabreitman.net/index.php
Make sure you look at the portfolio and details. Can you believe it?


There is a popular wooden sign found in stores that says "Simplify".

So short.
No beating around the bush.
Sounds so easy-
so quick and painless.
It almost gives the impression that you can choose to simplify your life
as easily as you choose a pizza topping.


I suppose it's because by the time you hit middle-age,
you've got baggage.
Not just an access of Tupperware, hand tools, magazines,
old shoes, Christmas bulbs and empty coffee cans.
You've got kids and grand kids and retirement and taxes
to heap up on your shoulders, too.

I believe that simplicity is a gift of youth.

How simple it was as a child
to watch cartoons all day.
To run in the wind- to ride a bike-
to play tag in the cool, night grass.
How simple it was to let your parents
cart you to school and practice
and the movies once in awhile.
How simple to be given clean clothes
and great meals,
and love without doubt.

Yesterday, I picked up a couple of packages of M&M's
for the grand kids.
I watched in amazement as that brown wrapper was
twisted and torn
till the candy spilled from its package.
But, you know what?
That made them so happy.
Don't know for sure if it was the
"melt-in-your-mouth" chocolate,
or the fact that I bought them
that made them so grateful.

It was so simple.
To have a pack of candy
make your whole day special.
Wouldn't that be great?

I have tried to simplify.
Cleaned closets, drawers-
tossed out papers and cards and junk mail-
rearranged and discarded furniture-
tried to keep the fridge stocked only with basics,
and cut back on the magazines.
I've tried to stay out of the problems of my kids
and their kids
and to try not to worry about them
when I go to bed at night.

It would be wonderful to have the simple things again.

To be able to sit all day in a rocking chair
and watch the stars come out at night.
Take a long walk in the autumn leaves,
a cool nap on the hammock,
and skip stones on the pond.
Listen to classic rock with the speakers turned up,
make Jiffy Pop
and wear pajamas all day.
Watch Sponge Bob,
to laugh till your belly hurt-
and love, love, love
the simplicity
of your life.

And to top the whole day off
with a package of M&M's
would just be
"simply" perfect...

Monday, September 8, 2008

I Sure Know How To Pick 'Em

I am sure I don't have to tell any of you what today is.
I bet you are already celebrating.

Today is Nose Hair Maintenance Day.

(Or so says the E-Greeting card people).

I've decided to pick a "Celebrate the Date"
every so often as a subject
for my blog.
It makes for a very informative
and up-to-date blogging experience.

Today is the day to get out those tweezers,
electric nostril drills,
and midget scissors.
Time to trim those unruly sprigs
of nasal nastiness
and crop them into cuteness.

I must admit I don't do much nose maintenance.

A quick check for a stray booger
or a routine blow after a hot shower
has been the extent of my upkeep in that particular area.
But I sure am glad that I've been
given the heads-up so that
I can focus on my nifty nozzle today.

Here- let me grab a mirror...

The problem is...
It's just that... the more... I look at it, ...the weirder it looks...

My proboscis isn't perfect- I've always known that.
It's a bit pointed and sharp
but at the same time...
a tad pudgy around the nose-hole area.
And there is some.... blotchy freckle action
going on between the eye region.

With so much attention being paid to my nose,
I now see that my eyebrows... are becoming bushy...

There are some mislaid gray sprouts...
amid my natural brows
that have no business whatsoever being there.

Moving along....
I see crow's feet, laugh lines,
age spots, white heads, oily skin... dry skin, a mini-zit,
a chin hair and.....
the fa-a-a-aaint beginning of a possible moustache.

Now that I am examining myself thoroughly,
I'm afraid my teeth are yellowing.
My hair is thinning- (and graying),
my jowls are pronounced,
my neck is crinkled,
my ear lobes are saggy,
my eye lids are droopy,
and my lips are in dire need of a plump-up.

And that my friends, is only
a check-up from the neck-up!
I simply don't have the stomach
to explore anything below the chin-line today.

Damn you, you E-Card people!

I was just learning to accept myself-
to enter my fifty-something years
with grace and decaying loveliness-
to walk tall and proud despite the flaws-
Despite the fact that the
Oil of Olay, Clairol,
and Botox-in-a-Bottle
isn't helping a freakin' bit!

My life is ruined!
Why, oh, why did I have to get nosy (no pun intended)
and dig up the fact
that it's Nose Hair Maintenance Day??!

Oh, well,
Hope your day
is better than mine!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Random Ponderings

Today I just want to thank all of my friends and family, (and strangers) who have commented on my Blog and those of you that have left such inspiring comments. I sit down every single morning with a blank page and ponder what on earth to write about. But it is all of you that keep me pushing, prodding, and producing words that tell my story. Thank you.

It makes me happy to know that my nieces have tuned in,also. Libby and Kelli and Kari and Olivia- and all the rest who- I don't know for sure, but suspect- have taken a peek at what happens on my porch.

I am still feeling the effects of the sister weekend. I guess sometimes us gals forget we are not twenty years old anymore. Getting in and out of the van 75+ times, eating unwisely, using muscles that have long ago atrophied- yeah- I am still feelin' it!

Speaking of the sister weekend, this is probably a good time to explain the "hallelujah" song.

Well, the first sale we stopped at had an over-the-door Christmas novelty item. One side is a door knocker that is engraved with "Happy Holidays" and a red and gold striped bar (like a wreath hanger) hangs over the door into the inside where it attaches to a big, gold bell.
When guests activate the knocker, the bell starts chiming and goes into a full rendition of "Hallelujah, Hallelujah!!!!"

Don't even ask me what possessed me to buy it, but my first $2.50 was well spent. ( I suspect I have a wee bit of White Trash in my blood:)

We had talked of how our oldest sister and mom was with us in angel form, guiding us to the good yard sales and keeping our spirits up. At the mention of their names, the bell started singing "Hallelujah". We got a good laugh, but soon the bell would go off randomly- usually when we approached a sale or were debating on whether to stop or pass.

I guess the "Hallelujah" bell was motion activated, but it started getting kinda scary. After that day, the bell was moved and tossed around and has never once gone off without pushing the knocker. Go figure... And thanks to Barb and mom for making their presence known!

I am in the process of preparing for my Halloween party and it is sad how obsessed I become. I have ideas bouncing in my head and can't wait to follow through. My bathroom is going to be a spider den like last year, but with lots more spiders and webbing. I am even going to round up some old Barbie dolls to wrap in spider cocoons and dangle from the ceiling.
My sister Linda and husband Wayne always try to get here a day early to help, which we appreciate. Usually we carve pumpkins while having a few shots of something alcoholic and spend the night in anticipation of a full day and night ahead.

I have most of my costume complete and it is mostly Goodwill finds. I did buy a $12 item yesterday at the Halloween store and am looking for a cheap wig or hair piece. The only problem with wearing a wig is if you get uncomfortable and take it off, your hair looks matted and crappy all night. That's usually the time the cameras start clicking and I resent and hate every picture of me that is taken!
So, the wig is still an uncertain accessory to my outfit. Now, to find a costume for my husband! That is a job that I dread. He is so particular.

I have decided to start decorating tomorrow for autumn. I already have a tin vase of sunflowers in my porch and a little scarecrow in my flower bed, but I usually put out an autumn wreath a few strands of leaf garland. I think it's about time to put away the pink flamingos. But, then again, how would they look with witches hats? Or wrapped like mummies? There I go again- can't stop!

Hope you all have a great weekend.
I'll be washing garden veggies, babysitting grandkids, surfing the net for haunting ideas, and hopefully find time to do what I do best-
ponder on my porch.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Are You Ready?

Yesterday's rain has seemed to magnify the fact that the season is changing.
A cool breeze floats in the window,
a stray yellow leaf blows in the yard,
an orange sunset melts over bales of hay...

It will soon be autumn.
Cinnamon and sassafras and pumpkins...
Clouds of purple and pink
and nights of wine and woolens....
The feel of flannel and the smell of burning leaves....
Thick meaty stew and spicy pies...
Johnathan apples and caramels
and wiener roasts and s'mores....

Yet, with all it's glory and beauty,
autumn is a reminder of things not finished-
and of a year undone,
a signpost that says "time is almost up".

Every plan and dream for the year 2008
must be hurriedly activated
within the next four months.

What happened to the vacation we planned?
Did I even keep a diary?
Have I saved for Christmas?
Have I taken any family photos?
Did I lose weight?
Did I get organized?

Or was I just so naive that I thought the
year would last forever?

And with each page that we peel from the calendar,
we also peel away a layer of life,
a year of our being-
a fruit of our youth.
Each new year certainly brings hope,
but it also brings eventual mortality.

Autumn is coming.
We need to play more, sing more, do more.
We need to laugh, to reach out, to explore, to stretch.
We need to breathe and fly and follow that unknown path.
We need to skip stones and pick wildflowers
and make wishes on stars.
We need to dance, to dare, to deliver on our promises.

Yes, autumn is coming....
Are you ready?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Coming Clean

My name is Rae and I'm a junkaholic.

It's a disease, I know it.
And it's both embarrassing and refreshing to
admit it.
Sure, a lot of people have a junk drawer
that they aren't proud of-
a closet that needs straightened-
or a basement that could use a little organization.

But I have ten junk drawers,
a junk room,
and if I had a basement
I am sure it would be one of those places
that they use in monster movies.

My life goal is to turn the junk room
into a beautiful guest suite
and limit myself to only one junk drawer.

But even then, I have put new restrictions on what
can go in that drawer...

No coupons, half-decks of cards, torn socks,
or game pieces that might possibly go to Candy Land.
No tools that I can't use or identify-
no burnt out bulbs, grocery sacks, broken pencils
or dried up Glue Sticks.
No screws, nails, wires, plugs or cables.
No forgotten greeting cards,
cute napkin rings I never use,
and not even the twist ties from every box of trash bags I ever bought.

I am on a mission to Martha Stewart my life.
Not only is she the queen of organization, but she
succeeds in doing it with creativity and flair.

I realize that I have a tough battle before me.
I know this will not be easy, or quick, or even painless.
I know that tiny pieces of things I have saved
will now be lost forever
and those junk drawers I never even open
will forever remain a mystery.
I am just dumping those babies into the trash
without even going through the contents!

I mean, what could be there
that is so important?
Lets see....
Melted rubber bands, push pins, cheap Christmas bows
and pens without ink.
Movie stubs, a missing button, a gum ball
and some old Tic Tacs.
A menu from Chinese,
a Vicks Inhaler (Oooh, better keep that!)
a 1982 calendar, a cat toy (we don't have a cat),
and a sack full of identifiable particles and parts
that I am sending to junk heaven.

But I must always be wary.
If I backslide, a sweet, tidy junk drawer can once again become
overflowing and unruly.
A simple paper clip tossed in without thought
can multiply into a hundred paper clips
and things with no home
will eventually end up sheltered in the junk drawer.

I don't think I'll clean those drawers today,
or tomorrow, or even next week.
The dream of what they will look like when
I finish the program keeps me content for now.

I'm not really sure that I will ever get around
to cleaning them out.

Besides - those junk drawers are me.
Scraps of things that I refused to throw away
or part with.
Bobbles and bangles that evidently have a place in my heart.

Pieces of my life
that sit perfectly still
waiting for my children to come along some day
and say,

"Mom was a junkaholic."

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Weekend Update

Well, the Sister Weekend has come and gone and I just want my sisters to know how much I enjoyed their company. We had some really good laughs and got a lot of good loot at the 61 miles of yard sales!

Thanks to Tina for her excellent driving skills, her innate power to parallel park, backup, squeeze in, and make sudden unexpected stops and turns. Strapped in the back seat with piles of precious cargo, I felt perfectly safe even when the brakes began to squeal.

Linda was the perfect hostess-
allowing us to all take maps when she did-
providing us with cold sodas, hot showers,
and some of mom's famous Scroodles.

Jewel was the front seat driver and lookout manager
and as always, had her camera poised for a Kodak moment.
She led us in song when our spirits grew weary
and made us laugh when we thought we couldn't
laugh another minute.

Together, we spent a total of $216.50.
We stopped at 75 yard sales.
We got such items as books, games, clothes, purses, shoes, home decor, and toys.
Too much to list!

And we sang "Hallelujah"
162 times.
But, that's another story!


Not feeling well today, so I will write more another time.

Blogger Update!!!!
News on "My Fat Little Fellow" blog entry.
Apparently, my beaver friend has given birth to about three
four-pound babies and I never saw it coming!