Friday, October 31, 2008

Children of The Corn


Tonight is the night for ghosts and goblins-
witches and warlocks,
vampires and werewolves.
Tonight is the night for secrets
and spells
and the telling of stories.

Gather round.
Listen closely.
Don't pay attention to the shadows
or the bumps in the night.
I even have a few scary stories to share.

Tonight I am here to tell you about
Sheep Man...

It was a beautiful summer afternoon.
My sister Linda and I-
(she was always my partner in crime :)
went with Mom and Dad to visit
Betty A.
(I never knew what the A. stood for.)
She was a woman from church who lived
out in the country near us and
there was always other kids to play with.

As far as one could see
there were green corn fields-
and what better place to play
than in the rows and rows of
secret paths and mazes!

I think we must have been about
nine or ten-
so one of the older girls was in charge
and entertaining us
while the adults enjoyed their visit.

"Nancy" (I think was her name)-
led us through the fields and hills
as we played house
and explored the territory.
We laughed and giggled like
young girls do-
delighted with our silly games
and the new, unfamiliar play ground.

At one point, we had wandered
pretty far from the house.
In fact, it wasn't even visible
through the corn fields.

Resting beneath a big tree in a clearing,
we began to hear a strange noise.
It was a steady banging of some sort
and Nancy finally volunteered
to find out what it was.
It seemed to be coming from over the hill,
so Linda and I sat and waited-
(cool as cucumbers, I might add)
while Nancy climbed the hill
and peered over the edge.

Her eyes grew wide
and she came running at us fast.

"What?! What?!" we shouted.
"What is it?"

We hopped to our feet
as Nancy explained
that there was a man
chopping the heads off of sheep
and that he was coming right at us with an ax.

Well, Linda and I could have won
the marathon that day.
We broke speed records and
made heart rate history.
Our little chests were beating
a hundred miles a minute
and our tennis shoes
were like wings of fire on our feet.

Sweat and dirt splashed off of us
as we headed for the corn fields-
not really knowing which way
the house stood.

All we knew was that we had
to get away from Sheep Man.

The sun was setting
and the corn fields began casting shadows...

Our faces and hands
were sliced and pierced
from sharp corn leaves
as we continued to race our way
to safety.
We just had to get away from
the monster with the ax!!

We twisted our way through rows and rows
of weeds and cockle burs and corn-
at times we fell and got back up-
we cried and said our prayers-
but
we never once looked back.

It was almost dark before I saw
the rooftop of the house
and made a bee line
toward security.
I kept running and running
and running.
My side hurt from running-
My head hurt from running.
My blouse was torn.
My face and hands had "paper cuts"
from the corn shucks.

Out of the field a few yards away-
out popped Linda!
Still flying like a Gazelle-
her long hair a tangle of tassels-
and dirt beads as big as a snake
around her neck.

We both talked at once-
our breathing labored-
as we tried to explain to the adults
what had happened.
But even beneath the safety of the porch light
and wrapped in our parents arms,
we still feared for our lives.

The Sheep Man was still out there somewhere!

Then Nancy emerged from the corn maze
with a smile on her face,
explaining that it was just a joke.
That the chopping sound
was a simple oil well pumping away-
that there was no sheep-
no man-
no ax.

Well, Linda and I slept better that night
knowing that Nancy would probably
not be able to sit down on her butt
for awhile.
She was punished immediately by her parents.
But probably not severely enough-
considering that she put us through
one of the scariest days of our lives.

Even now when we hear
the steady rhythm of an oil pump,
Linda and I freeze.

And then we prepare to run
from Sheep Man.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Is No Longer A Treat


Tomorrow is Halloween.

Other than Christmas, this seems to be the most commercialized event of the year.
Every child wants to be Spider Man or Hannah Montana or a Pokemon or a Jack Sparrow.

They want to emulate movie stars and super heroes and comic book personalities.
Groups of kids beneath the porch light
on Halloween night
have become a generic concoction of a lazy society.

Store bought costumes,
ready-made masks, and
instant accessories
make it quick and simple
for parents to rush through
the night before the
ten o'clock news starts.

When I was a kid, Halloween
was our night to use the
magic gift of
imagination.

We scoured closets for old clothes,
scarves, hats, and shoes.
Bed pillows became a belly.
Tablecloths became capes.
Lipstick and mascara became
a disguise.
When we did wear a mask,
it was a thin, plastic dime store
cover up with comical expressions.

How many old ladies, bums,
hillbillies, or robots
do you see knocking on your door
on Halloween?

I remember my oldest brother John
dressing up like a bum one year.
Mom lathered his face with
mayonnaise (or cold cream)
and added coffee grounds
so that he looked unshaven.
He carried a long stick with
a red bandanna hanging from it,
stuffed his overalls with a pillow,
wore some old work boots
and blacked out a front tooth.
He looked fantastic!

And after all these years,
I still remember it.

I was an old lady one year.
Mom put my hair in rollers and
I wore a ragged housecoat
over my clothes.
I put slippers on my feet
and slicked on the rouge and lipstick.

I wish we had pictures of those days.

...Those chilly nights on All Hallows Eve
when we took an empty paper sack
across the neighborhood
and came back with more candy
than we had ever seen in a year!

...When we could go from door to door
and not be afraid of who might be inside.

...Of staying out late and feeling safe
because everyone was nice and friendly
and wouldn't hurt a kid.

...Of dressing up to be something
that our imagination cooked up- and that
our Mom cared enough to help us all
prepare for our special evening.

Now when I see the kids
beneath the porch lights-
in their fancy masks and
expensive costumes-
I get kind of sad.

They probably don't even appreciate
the candy....




Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can't You Read The "Sign"?


Some of you know that my sister Jewel
interprets for the deaf at her church
every Sunday.
I hope someone there lets her know
how much she's appreciated
and that her unselfish generosity
and compassion are applauded.

It really takes a lot of work to
learn the proper configurations
and symbols in order to convey
the message.
And she takes pride in providing
a service to those in need.

But what some of you don't know is
that I know sign language, too.

Well, not your regular
ASL (American Sign Language).
What I have mastered is HSL.
Husband Sign Language.

Oh, it's not something you learn overnight.
It takes years of practice,
observation, failures, and despair.
It takes a quick eye,
a patient mind,
and a loving heart.

(It also takes a little insanity-
which, luckily, I have enough
to go around.)

The thing about HSL is that
you never know when
you're gonna exercise it.

About the time you think he's
picking his nose,
you realize he is "signing"
for a tissue.
Think he's scratching his head?
No, that is HSL for
"bring me a hair brush".

One must always be on their toes
because HSL is very subtle-
almost invisible at times.
I have adopted a sort of ESP
between my husband and I
so that I start to get vibes
whenever signals are being sent.

My eyes and ears must be constantly
tuned to perfection.

Like when he taps his empty
water glass more than three times
on the table-
it means he needs a refill.
More than just a sporadic jingle
of the car keys?
It means he's in a hurry.

The right hand making motions
to and from the mouth
means "hunger".
The very same hand motion with
a slight tipping action
means "Beer".

Two fingers pinched together
and making a picking gesture
means "chewing tobacco".
The same two fingers
making a pressing gesture
means "give me the remote".
Even more subtle is
the fingers making a scissor motion
to request the nail clippers.

A screwing motion to the ear
denotes the request for a Q-Tip.
A sawing motion to the teeth
means he wants dental floss-
and a double finger gesture to the eyes
means that reading glasses are required.

I know, I know- it is all so complicated.
But you newlyweds out there- don't fret.
It took me years to perfect HSL.
I made a few mistakes.
There are times I confused a pick
for a pinch and a press for a poke
and screw for a saw and a tip for a tap.

But he forgave me and continued to teach.
And I kept smiling and continued to learn.

Because, after all,
that's the sign language of
"love".





Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions












In less than a month we will
be celebrating Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is that special time of year
for relaxing, eating in abundance, and
gathering with family.

It's a day of fabulous smells-
of pumpkin and pine
and of plump pecans oozing from a baking pie.

It's full of eggnog and ambrosia salads
and dinner rolls as big as your fist,
lathered in real butter
and as soft as Charmin.

Traditions are created and kept
around Thanksgiving tables.
Some people always have the oyster stuffing,
others serve festive cranberry dishes,
and a special pie is always part of
the past holiday memories.

Some people trim their tree
after their Thanksgiving meal.
Others bake cookies together.

It got me to thinking about
what kind of traditions that
I have instilled in my family...

I think what my family remembers
most about our Thanksgivings together
is the vision of me in the kitchen at 4 a.m.
on Thanksgiving morning.

There I am in my ripped gown,
my hair frazzled in unattractive swoops,
my unshaven legs peeping out
above my mismatched fuzzy slippers-
my breath like a halitosis tornado
and my unbound breasts swaying
like water balloons every time
I bend over.

There is the yearly vision of me
with the hairdryer in one hand-
the other hand prying open
every possible turkey orifice
in an attempt to thaw out the ice chips
that failed to melt overnight in the giant bird.

Then my kids see the eight boxes
of Betty Crocker Stove Top Stuffing
miraculously prepared-
frozen corn and green beans
microwaved to perfection-
and instant potatoes stirred lovingly
and served in my best Tupperware dish.

The tradition continues at the table
where I make sure everyone
at least gets a fork
and cans of Coke are placed
in the center of the table for easy access.
And I go all out and splurge on Chinet-
and not those thin dollar store plates.

They'll probably always remember where I
come to the table
with wet hair right from the shower,
a few burnt fingers,
and a "Don't you dare say anything!" attitude.

Trim a tree after dinner?
Are you crazy?!!
Who in their right mind would drag
out lights and bubs
and ornaments and tinsel
when there is a sink of dishes,
a crap load of garbage,
and a dinosaur carcass in the kitchen?

Our traditional family Thanksgiving
includes doing the dishes,
a load or two of laundry,
taking out the trash,
giving the dog the Heimlich maneuver
because he's grabbed a wishbone,
cleaning up spilled gravy
and tossing the burnt
brown and serve rolls-
WHILE EVERYONE ELSE IS NAPPING!

Every so often, I think about changing
our special holiday traditions-
adding something
to the precious memories that I have
burned into the brains and hearts
of my children-
but, then again, I think-
"Why start now?"

Whenever I consider Thanksgiving,
I think of it as that quiet time...
a time of jingle bells
and downy throws-
of old movies
and bowls of fragrant oranges-
of festive hearts and reminiscing-
of mincemeat pie and red wine
and mittens.

But, then suddenly, the real vision
pops into my head.

Thanksgiving is the time
just before all Hell breaks lose
and Christmas creeps up on us
like the Hulk!!!!

And those Christmas traditions, my friend,
I'll share with you
another day.


video

Monday, October 27, 2008

Last Party of the Summer


Well, down come the cobwebs today.
(Hopefully the real ones with the fake ones.)
Back go the skeletons and spiders
into their attic retreat.
Away go the masks and capes and
crepe paper- the wigs and witches
and creepy things.

But what remains is the
memories that were made
over the weekend.

First of all, I want to thank
Linda and Wayne for always
being right here to help
when the word "party" is mentioned.
They slave away and put their sweat
into making it successful.
We love you guys.

Just sitting around the table
the day after
and talking about how it went
is a bonding experience
that I hope will
continue for years to come.

I also want to thank my family
for coming- all dressed up
and ready to have fun-
that means a lot to me.

Loved having Jaclyn, Lyndsey,
Libby, Luke, Taylor,and their
significant others, too!
Wish I would have had more time
to talk and visit.

It's always sad to see the
last party of the summer
fade into cooler nights
and winter coming.

Now thoughts are focused
on turkey dinner
and pumpkin pie-
of the holidays to come.

I pull down my spiders
and props.
Sweep up the fragments
of popcorn and candy.
Stuff away the 2008
Halloween decorations.

And I smile and even laugh a little-
It was fun.
Can't wait to do it again next year...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Whatever Will Be, Will Be...


On a day like today,
I wish I was Martha Stewart.

Even though she's looking
a little worn around the edges-
(and, of course, the little episode
of time in prison)-
I could use her ingenuity
and creative organization today.

I bet she could take these
dozen unattractive packages
of hot dog buns on my counter
and build them into some kind
of awesome sculpture.
Or the numerous bags of chips
into a camouflaged Halloween tower.
Whatever she might do to help
would definitely be
"a good thing".

Then again, on a day like today,
I wish I was a genetic scientist
so I could clone myself.
I need to get so much done
in so little time
that only a Super Octopus
could pull it off in record time.

On a day like today
I wish I was Oprah.
Then I could just hire people
to clean my house,
run errands,
and decorate for this party.

On a day like today,
I wish I was a meteorologist
so I would have a fairly good
idea of what to expect in the
weather department.

Today, I wish I was Rachel Ray,
(I know... you all know I don't like her)-
but to be able to whip up a fantastic
hot meal in 30 minutes
would be heaven sent.

Today I wish I was a famous designer
and then I could pull together
a top notch costume from
fabric scraps and Velcro
and everyone would look at me
and say,
"Ahhhh....Magnifico!"

I wish I was a comedian
so that I could
laugh about the whole situation
if it turns out going horribly awry.

Martha Stewart? A Scientist?
Oprah? A meteorologist?
Rachel Ray? A designer?
A comedian?

The thing about Halloween is
you can be all of them!

But today, I have no mask-
no costume,
no facade.
Just a grocery list, a debit card,
and a "Don't get in my way!" attitude.

WalMart- here I come!


NOTE: I will be busy for the
next few days, so I won't be
posting to my blog.
Watch for Party Pictures
on Monday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Survival Diary


There is a lot being said nowadays
about being prepared for an
economic depression.
Not only are they telling us
to save money,
but some professional experts
are suggesting that we also save food
and learn basic wilderness skills.

Most people, including myself,
would be hard-pressed to make it
just thirty days on stored food
and minimal resources.

Yeah, I can just see it now....

SURVIVAL DIARY
DAY ONE:

The twenty pounds of rice, fifty pounds of beans,
large hoards of coffee, onions, peanut butter
and potted meat
are stacked in
the back bedroom.

We are so pleased that we actually had the forethought
and prudence to plan ahead.
In these trying times, we feel confident that
kicking our oldest daughter out of her room
was the best decision for our future.

Too bad we didn't think to get her clothes
out of the closet before stacking the huge
pallets of soybeans in front of the doors-
followed by the tons of sugar, flour, salt and molasses.

This has led to a very educational story
about how she should learn to survive on wearing
just two pair of jeans she had in the wash,
some broken sandals,
and a Garth Brooks tee shirt.

However, we are all dreading winter
because our coat closet is shoved full
of bandages, aspirin, cold formula, antacid,
beer and tobacco-
so we can't get to anything in there.

DAY TWO:

Staying at home and conserving
on gasoline and electricity is
a cleansing experience.

My husband has been playing his
guitar (and singing so sweetly)
as my daughter and I are joyfully
caught up in a variety of board games.

I think I could live like this forever
and don't know why we didn't choose
this lifestyle sooner.

DAY THREE

The rice is simply delicious and I think
the peanut butter crackers went rather
nicely alongside it all.
We milked the neighbors cow
and had a good dose of our daily calcium.

However, we had to break into the
first aid kit because the cow stepped
on my husband's toe
and I fell down a flight of stairs
looking for a a pair of binoculars to
spy on the weirdos next door.

All in all,it has been a lovely day.

DAY FOUR

We had beans and rice with
peanut butter as dessert.
It was very filling.
We were going to have potted meat
but I forgot to stash a can opener.
Perhaps we will get one
when the budget allows.


Light bulbs are top priority now.
We failed to consider the possibility that
they might all blow out at once.
We have burned all the birthday candles
down to little nubs-
and believe me-
it's a real pain to read a book
by that small and
short-lived flicker.

DAY TEN

I haven't written for awhile.

We ate so many beans that the
mix of methane gas and birthday candles
set the house on fire.

Luckily, it was contained to
the kitchen area,
but now we are cooking
from a hot plate on the bathroom counter.

Our daughter got so sick of lentils
that she drove her car over a
can of Spam to open it
and she had that for dinner.
I hope those chunks of tire tread
and gravel
won't disagree
with her sensitive tummy.

DAY SEVENTEEN

Rice. Rice. Rice.
I hate it!
And we have eaten so much peanut butter
that the roofs of our mouths are
permanently sealed!

But, we stopped talking to each other
days ago
because after eating so many onions,
we couldn't stand each other's breath anyway.

The beer and tobacco is gone.
We thought sure there was at least
a six month supply.
Who knew?

DAY TWENTY-THREE

Our toilet paper supply is dwindling
and we have no recourse except to
use extra coffee filters as substitution.

My daughter refuses to
play board games any longer.
In fact, I am worried about her.
She just keeps rocking back and forth
and twisting her hair in knots.
I could swear I saw her eyes rotate
in dizzy swirls last night.

I am getting a little irritated
with hearing my husband's
guitar rendition
of Free Bird.
And if he sings Desperado one more time
I believe I will choke him.


DAY THIRTY

We have survived a month of living
on our hoarded supply of food.
The remaining fifteen pounds of rice
is infested with bugs,
the mice got into our beans,
and all the cases of canned goods
froze last night because
we conserved on heat.

Our hot plate went on the blink,
the coffee pot blew up,
and I smashed the guitar with
a giant sledge hammer.

My family is driving me crazy!
I just have to get the hell out
of this self-made bunker of
survivalist bull crap.

I'd shoot myself
but the bullets
are in the coat closet.



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What Doesn't Kill Ya' -Makes Ya' Stronger


Helping my husband insulate the attic
last weekend reminded me of
years ago when we tackled a
similar project.
The following is a column I wrote
for The Register News, August 27, 2005.


If my husband was a doctor, I'd be the person
wiping his sweaty brow or handing him
the scalpel.
If he was a race car driver, I'd be the person
on pit row changing his tires
or fueling his car.
If he was a magician, I'd be holding the
magic hat or be stuffed inside the wooden box
that he was cutting in half.
For the most part, I have been my husband's
companion, assistant, guinea pig and gopher.

Therefore, I hesitate when I need jobs
done around the house.
Because I will always be required
to shadow him every minute,
find lost tools,
drive miles to town for a wing nut,
or asked to hold still while
a hammer or hatchet
is in the vicinity of my fingers.

Years ago, I wasn't so quiet about things-
(before I wised up).
I complained loudly that the house needed
insulation or the water pump was
on the blink or repairs needed done.

And, unfortunately, my husband listened.

That set us off into a Twilight Zone of
handy man projects that seemed
to have no end.

One project I remember most
is the time we insulated the attic...

The old house we bought had an
overhang above the porch and
the space was too tight for my husband
to maneuver.
I was smaller than he was-
(and still am, thank God),
so I was drafted into climbing the
ladder into the attic.

But let me set the stage for you.

It wasn't just any old attic.
It happened to be the hottest
and most humid day in history.
The attic was inhabited by stinging,
biting, and gnawing insects.
It was the home to rabid squirrels
and crazy raccoons.
It was a virtual Disney World
of creepy crawlers and cobwebs.

To stuff the itchy pink rolls of
fiberglass into the corners, I had
to lay on a piece of plywood-
on my back-
and manipulate the insulation
with a two-by-four.
I held the trouble light close by
and tried not to look at what
might be hovering in the darkness.

About five minutes into the ordeal,
the light bulb burnt out.
I held back a scream as my husband-
who was perched on the top rung of the ladder-
reassured me that everything was okay
and he'd be right back with a new bulb.

I heard him downstairs searching for
the light bulb-
walking from kitchen to bathroom
to bedroom -
to every closet.

I started breathing harder
and sweat started rolling down
my face and neck like little bugs.

Or was it really bugs?
Was that some animal in
the corner above me,
or just a shadow?
Would the wasps find me in the dark
and target my flesh?
Did I hear a squirrel chatter?

I tried to hang on and be brave.

Then I realized my husband was
on the phone.
The phone?
Why was he on the phone while
I was in intimate danger?

I yelled loudly as I heard him
mumbling to someone that
he was supposed
to be getting a light bulb.

I was soaking in the sauna of the attic
for what seemed like hours.
The varmints were making plans
to get rid of me
and the fiberglass was itching me to death.

Either way, I just knew
I was going to die up there
in that dark, lonely attic.

Suddenly, my husband's face
popped up the ladder
and he had a light bulb in one hand-
and a half-eaten bologna sandwich
in the other.
Apparently he got a little hungry
down there in the air conditioned house
and took the time out to
feed himself.

And here I was-
being cooked and baked to perfection
for all the furry attic creatures to feast on!

I will never let him forget that day-
and it's been over 20 years.

But now, when the house gets a little drafty
or the faucet starts to leak-
I just stay quiet-
pull on a sweater,
curl up in my recliner,
and smile over at my husband.

It's always a good day
to do nothing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Time is Near


Well, the weekly countdown is here
for the Halloween party
that I've been planning since
July 4th.

I can remember when my
computer reminded me
that there was 75 days, then 50...
Now it is only four days, ten hours,
and 2 minutes away.

I don't know why I get so crazy
about this stuff.
I think I just like the idea of
creating something where people
can have fun.
Halloween provides a great opportunity
for people to stretch their imaginations
and to let down their inhibitions.

Makeup, wigs, costumes, and accessories
all lend themselves to helping us be
someone different for just one night.
Maybe it goes back to those childhood days
of dress-up and pretend.

This party has also given me the chance
to learn to be creative with dollar store bargains,
rummage sale finds and Goodwill castoffs.
I try to imagine what kind of party
I would like to go to.
Is there cool music? Neat decor?
Plenty of food and drink? Friendly guests?

I usually end up going overboard
with details that no one ends up
noticing anyway.
But that's how I learn from one party
to the next, I guess.

My only wish from the whole event
is that people come, have fun, and
remember it as a great party.
So that they'll want to be part of it next year,too.

Yet, it is getting down to the wire
and I can feel the stress curling
up my spine-
and the overwhelming sense
that I will never get it all ready
or that I will forget something important.

My husband has already scolded me
for being so worried about the weather.
I get on the computer fifty times a day
hoping that the chance of precipitation
will reach zero and that the temps
will be bearable enough for
an outdoor party.
I know I can't change it, but it
comforts me to know what to expect.
Plan B just might have to materialize
whether I like it or not.

There is a huge downfall to theses parties
and that is the time when it's all over.
No, the clean up doesn't really bother me.
I usually have help, and it's good to get
everything out of the way
and back into the attic for another year.

It's a kind of sadness that comes later.
Like a post partum depression.
I plan and wait for this baby-
I gave birth,
and then it's over.

The only remedy for me
is thinking about the next party.
A spring Luau?
A White Trash Bash?
A Hoedown? Disco?

But this Saturday it's all going
to be about seeing the smiles
and hearing the laughter-
watching people sing karaoke,
enjoy a good hot dog,
model their costumes,
and relax around the bon fire.

What more could you want in a party?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Your Memory Wallet

I was reading this morning
where a woman's wallet was found
sixty years after she lost it.
Construction workers found the missing
wallet in the basement of the university
where the woman had attended in the '40's.
It was returned to her family.

This got me to thinking...

What if things in the past
could be returned to us?

And not just material things,
but memories and moments.
Is there a special day in your life
that you'd like to see and feel
and live again?

I can think of several.

I would like to have back
a hot summer day when my sister
Linda and I played Barbie's
in the shade.
I was about eight years old
and she would have been ten.
The grass was cool beneath our legs
and our imaginations were endless.
We had all day to play and laugh
and be ourselves.
I would look at her and say-
"Let's never lose this feeling.
Let's never let problems of
the real world find us."

And I would remember
what it was like to be carefree
and innocent.

I would like to have a day back
before my mother got sick.
A day when she was smiling
and cooking something great-
or hanging clothes on the line-
or laughing at TV.
She would brush my hair for me
as we sat on the couch
and I could smell her
talcum powder
and feel her soft hands.
And I would say,
"Mom, don't ever get old and sick.
Be here for me when my children
and grandchildren need you.
Let them know how wonderful
your love is."

And I would remember what
is was like to have a mother's love-
all warm and perfect.

I'd like to have the day back in high school
where I missed a step in Algebra class
and never again understood
formulas and fractions
and simple equations.
And I would say,
"Slow down and explain that,
Mr. Childers. I think I'm lost."
Then he would make it easy
to figure out.

And I would remember what
it was like to be smart with numbers
and not hate math.

I would like to have back
the day that I met my husband.
I would hold on to every moment
and memorize every word.
I would feel
for the first time in my life,
that sudden stir inside of me-
that electricity-that chemistry...
And I would say to him,
"I am going to marry you
and we are going to be happy forever."
I would relive the first kiss,
the first touch,
the first day we shared.

And I would remember what
it was like
to not be afraid of the future.


I would want the days back
when I gave birth to my children.
Even with the pain, I would want
to experience that awesome feeling
of seeing their beautiful crunched-up faces
for the first time,
of holding them in my arms
with their baby-lotion smell.
Their milky little faces looking up at
me after a feeding...
their perfect fingers and toes
and newborn cries.
And I would say to them,
"I love you, babies of mine.
I will love you forever and ever."

And I would remember how it feels
to know that
little lives depended on me.
And I would remember how
quickly they grow up-
and to make sure to relish the journey.

But, in the scheme of things-
I think we all know
our "memory wallets"
will never be returned.
That they are somewhere
in the basement of our minds
where the contents can
never be touched or felt again.

So, hang on to your wallet.
Spend whatever is in it wisely.
Fill it with lots of photos
and keepsakes
and smiles that will last
through times of tears.
Don't ever let hate or regret
squeeze into the folds.
Treasure it as though
it is full of gold and silver.

But, whatever you put into it,
be proud of it.
That way, if anyone ever finds it,
you will never be embarrassed
by what's revealed.

Tomorrow we will probably
want today back.

Savor the moments.
Look, listen, touch,
taste, and embrace your life.

Think about it.

What's in your memory wallet?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

All Dogs Go To Heaven

Until you've had a family pet,
you will never fully understand
the love that one develops
for their animal companions.

My sister lost her beloved dog, Bailey,
just this week.
He was her alarm clock, her watch dog,
her faithful company, and her baby.
And even those of us who
barely knew him,
feel the loss.

Love for a dog usually starts out as "puppy love".
That's Phase One.
But soon the cute, cuddly, and compassionate feelings
gradually turn into Phase Two-
a stressful tolerance of poopy mistakes,
finicky eating,
shedding hair and
annoying barks.

Then Phase Three is acceptance.
It is when we fully consider them as part of the family.

They have their own bed, dishes, toys,
and Christmas stockings.
We shower them with gifts, treats,
little goofy clothes,
and dog bones bigger than their heads.

They sleep, eat, walk, talk, and
watch TV with us.
We hug them, kiss them, bathe them,
and groom them.
We put their pictures in the
family photo album -
right next to the kids-
and we include their name
on family correspondence.

I was especially attached to our
German Shepherd named Jaguar.
He was the sweetest dog I had ever known.
Even when the kids were small,
he always treated them gently
and surrounded them with protection.

He joined us in picnics and cookouts,
holidays and camping.
He was a joy and a loving companion.

I remember taking him with us
on a camping trip one summer.
We pitched a tent on the river
and Jaguar stood guard all night.
We noticed then that he was having
a little trouble walking on the rocks,
and seemed to take food and water
without his usual enthusiasm.

At home, he gradually became distant.
He soon lost control of his leg muscles
and couldn't get up to go to the bathroom.
He would just look at us
with those beautiful brown eyes-
almost as if he was saying,
"Sorry".

All attempts at doctoring and medicine failed.
The vet told us that his quality of life
was diminished and that it was time to consider
"letting him go".

My husband decided that we would let Jaguar
spend one last night at home in his own bed.
We sang to him, rocked him, pet him,
prayed for him-
and then cried ourselves to sleep.

And the next morning,
Jaguar was in Heaven-
chasing wild rabbits
and barking like a young pup,
jumping through wheat fields
and rolling in summer flowers.

All dogs go to Heaven.
Bailey is there now.

And, Bailey, if you happen to see Jaguar-
tell him we still miss him after all these years
and that we have never stopped loving him.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sacrifices



There comes a time in every good marriage
when one
must sacrifice or compromise
in order to maintain
harmony and peace
in the relationship.
Actually, I've
always called it "giving in".

Last autumn I did just
that to prove
to my husband how much I love him.
I
became a bow hunter.

The old saying goes "If you can't beat 'em- join 'em!".
So I decided that in order to spend quality
time together, I was going to have to become interested in the art of game hunting.

I was really quite flattered when he suggested we spend a quiet week together at a remote cabin in the woods.
No phone. No neighbors.
I imagined
firelight, soft music, and a little romance.

But
before the first log was ever placed on the fire,
he
was planning his strategy.
"Get your hiking boots on", he ordered,
"We've got
some tracking to do before nightfall."

I gave in.
I made that heroic sacrifice that
separates the women from the girls.

That evening I
was given an introduction to
a wide array of rules and
tactics
that insure successful deer hunting.
Before
that time I figured you just
hid in the woods till you
saw a deer,
then you killed it and took it home.
Simple, right?
But it's as complicated as chemistry

and as time consuming as house work.

In the days and weeks that followed
I learned about
deer tracks, scents, and habits.
I took notes on wind
direction, food sources, and mating rituals.
I
learned to munch granola from a tree stand, judge distance, and to hold my bodily urges.
I learned to
fight off gnats and insects and stickers and snakes.
I learned to listen, look, and be very quiet.

That was
the hardest part for me because I constantly had to ask "Why?"

Once I learned the animal, I was ready to advance to weaponry.
I learned to pull back almost 40 pounds on
a bow.
I practiced and practiced hitting the bulls
eye.
And after lots of rehearsal, I could hit a
target
relatively close to the designated "kill zone".

(But I can never watch the movie "Bambi" again

without an extreme sense of guilt.)


My husband led me into the bow shop one evening
and
announced I that I was ready for my first bow.
I
couldn't have been more surprised or embarrassed
if I
was being fitted for my first bra.

We measured and
sized and weighed
and ended up with $200 worth of
equipment.
Guaranteed to bind two completely

different personalities into a loving couple
with
common interests.

We spent many "quiet" weekends at the cabin.
But
after being in a tree stand from
before sunrise till
after dark,
the dreams of romance- of a steak dinner
and candles and wine-
was replaced with bologna
sandwiches and beer
and camouflage clothing laid out
to dry
on every conceivable surface.

We slept in our
long underwear and thermal socks.
And we snored like
tired mules.

All the long afternoons that I was
poised in my tree
stand I fantasized
that when the hunting season was
over,
my husband would return the "giving in" favor.
He would happily cart me to yard sales,
auctions, and
flea markets.
He would gladly accompany me to quilt
shows,
art museums, and white sales.
He would be
ready and willing to go shopping
at the drop of a
credit card.
But...no.

However, I gained so much more in return.
I learned
that "giving in" wasn't nearly
as difficult or as
painful as I thought.

I would never take back the
entire season
that my husband and I spent planning,

and laughing, and sharing special moments.

He taught me so much more than hunting.

He taught me
to treasure the first few moments
of sunrise- when the
sky glows with lilacs
and pinks and beautiful amber
lights.

He taught me to love the stillness of the
woods-
the sound of the wind blowing through the
pines,
the call of a wild turkey,
the delicate shapes
and colors of falling leaves,
and the silent cushion
of a thick snowfall.

He taught me to be conscious
of
changing weather conditions,
various plant life,
and
to study little animals up close for the first time.

He taught me to once again be
in touch with my inner
spirit.

Just yesterday he looked at
me sweetly and said,
"I'm
considering taking up skydiving this summer."

That's where I drew the line.
We're seeing a
marriage counselor
first thing Monday morning!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

With Eyes Wide Open


Sometimes when you least expect it,
something good happens.

It could be something as simple as
someone holding the door open for you
as you enter the mall,
a stranger bending down to return
the dollar you dropped,
or your kids happily picking up the tab
for a late night pizza.
(Yeah- like that ever happens!)

But, you get the idea... :)

Yet, I think our lives are so overcrowded with
the negative things
that we sometimes fail
to see the positive forces
all around us.

The small gestures of kindness,
comforting words of support,
and the simplicity of a smile-
those seemingly insignificant fragments
weave themselves together in our hearts
to make happiness.

But, we must always be aware
that there are two sides of the coin-
that there are people out there
whose happiness depends on you.

You must give in return.

It reminds me of the potholders
we used to make
with our Christmas crafts.
A grid of rows that
alternate up and down,
left and right,
over and under-
until it is knit into
a perfect square.

Your efforts toward others-
and in turn- their efforts toward you-
combine to make
the recipe for contentment.

How many of you were having a bad day
until someone told you how refreshed you looked?
Or gave you an unexpected discount?
Or let you get in line ahead of them?
Or made you laugh when you
really wanted to cry?

Our lives can also be enriched
by observing things around us-
or by allowing good things
to manifest themselves in our lives.
Some things may seem trivial,
but they touch our hearts
in big ways.

I can be depressed in the morning,
but seeing a blue bird outside
can cheer me up.
Watching the leaves fall
can make me appreciate the
changing seasons.
A phone call from my sister
can make a dark day
suddenly bright.

And even things that bug you sometimes
can be transformed if you change
your perspective a little.

I used to hate my husbands snoring-
especially when I would wake at night
and try to go back to sleep.
I would poke and prod
and try to roll him over in an attempt
to stop the blows and grunts and nasal noise.

How could his snoring ever be positive?
This may sound hokey,
but I decided I would approach
the problem with a new outlook.
I made up my mind to see
the good in it.

Now, listening to my husband snore
brings gladness to my heart
because I know he is beside me
and he is alive.
And -usually-
that simple, comforting certainty
can help me roll over
and fall quickly back to sleep.

Another example of finding goodness
when you least expect it-
is the day I was shopping
at my local Goodwill store
for a costume.
When approaching the counter
to pay for a $3 vest,
the lady explained that
if I bought two more items,
I could get them all
for a dollar.
So, to save myself some money,
I made a quick dash through
the outdated dresses,
8-track tapes,
toasters and choppers
and crock pots and lamps.
I decided to grab a little book
for the grandkids-
and then haphazardly picked
a book for myself.

I rarely read.
But that evening, I curled up
with a cup of coffee
and took a look at my impulsive buy.

Candles on Bay Street, by K. C. McKinnon.
I opened the book and couldn't put it down.
I read half that night
and finished it the following day.

I cried.
But I felt somehow cleansed-
changed - emotionally drawn into the book.
And I found myself wishing I had written it.

But- my story today is just to say this-
There are things out there
that will make you happy.
You just have to seek them out,
welcome them in,
and concentrate on their wonder.

I am so glad that little book
isn't still sitting in a pile at Goodwill,
gathering dust
and being silent.

And I am so thankful - (whoever you are) -
that you called me today,
or smiled at me,
or made something good happen.

Just when I least expected it.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Great Pumpkins


It's getting closer to Halloween
and now is the time to pick your pumpkins.
They say the crop is especially good this year-
and after a trip to the pumpkin farm last week,
I tend to agree.

Rows and rows of the orange globes
lined up to audition for the part
of my Jack-O-Lanterns!
I armed myself with a clipboard and eyeglasses-
deciding to be a very discriminating judge.

Some were too big, others too small.
Some cockeyed and clumsy-
others a bit too flat-headed.
A few were even missing stems.

They whispered "Pick me" as I passed each row,
rolling my harvest wagon behind me-
eager to snatch up only the best specimens
to display on my front porch.
Each one tried to convince me that
they were going to be easy to carve,
would look great with a toothless smile,
and weren't afraid of open flames.

I felt sorry for the ugly ones.
They were a type of
melon/squash/pumpkin hybrid
with coral-colored skin
that looked like festered blisters.
None of them could sit up straight
and all of them looked lazy.
How could they possibly expect
to go home in my cart?

Yet, I was drawn to them-
an attraction of curiosity, I suppose-
like wanting to see the latest monster movie.

But I continued my star search with confidence-
positive the special ones were out there-
perhaps hiding behind the gourd wagon
or posing with the mums.

I eventually snatched up two perfect pumpkins-
and I could have sworn they smiled
when I placed them into the wagon.
(Now- if they would only do that
when I got them home!)

The runners-up I selected were suitable
for simply standing next to the corn stalks,
gracing the picnic table,
or filling in for a missing door stop.

My afternoon at the pumpkin farm
had been a good session for us all.
I ended up with some fantastic fall decor-
and the pumpkins ended up with a job
and a new home for awhile.

And, the best part is,
that even when their season is over-
they will live on.
Their seeds will grow
and thrive next year in the compost pile,
creating new life -
and continuing the cycle of natural existence.

So, don't be sad.

Now...
I must prep them for their performance!
I must require that they
put their best faces forward!
And, too, I must remind them
that even though they may be missing teeth,
(nostrils, ears, chins,
eyebrows, tongues, and hair-)
they are my Great Pumpkins.

And I will enjoy them and love them
till the light inside their hearts
melts into a dying stub
and their flame is
extinguished forever...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Meet Dr. Den Teen


The minute I bit down onto the
hard kernel of popcorn,
I knew that damage had been done.
It was just a small chunk of filling
that rolled off my tongue,
but substantial enough to mandate
a dreaded trip to the dentist.

Looking back at my calendar,
it had been quite awhile
since I sat in an hydraulic chair
with a paper bib tied beneath my neck.
In fact, years had passed
since I last wrote out a check
for my life savings
to Dr. Den Teen.

For weeks I dreaded the appointment.

...Remembering the waiting room
with it's Field and Stream magazines,
stained carpeting,
a bright yellow corner filled with
screaming kids and tons of toys.
...The smell of antiseptic
and spittoons
and tire-scented latex gloves.
...The sounds of buzzing, drilling,
cracking, and scraping.

Dr. Den had moved his office
across town, which only gave me
extra time to fret.
When I finally arrived, I wasn't
sure I had the right place.

It was a sleek, modern building,
not unlike a spa or resort-
large glass windows
and cobblestone walkways
and landscaping straight from
Better Homes and Gardens.

Entering the foyer,
I immediately felt under dressed.

I was almost positive the
reminder card I got in the mail
didn't say anything about formal attire
or to wear pearls and heels.

Above me were crystal chandeliers.
Below me, pristine hardwood flooring.
In front of me- a beautiful woman
dressed in a tight black skirt,
white silk blouse,
and a mouth full of neon-white teeth.

She flashed them as she introduced herself.
"Good afternoon. I'm Nadia.
I'll be your receptionist today.
Have a seat in Waiting Room North
and the doctor will see you shortly.
Would you like a sparking water
while you wait?"

I took the water, hoping Nadia
wasn't expecting a tip.

The North waiting area
was plush and perfect,
with gold brocade curtains,
micro-fiber sofas with satin pillows,
carpet three inches thick,
a burled walnut entertainment center
with a sixty inch flat screen.
And the supply of magazines
stacked neatly in their chrome holder
was tremendous.

Tall scented candles burned in tortoiseshell
holders, making the room smell heavenly.
There were leather theater chairs with
cup holders and a lady giving
pedicures for $75.

I looked around.
No children. No Little Tykes mowers
or vacuum cleaners or freakin' Legos.

About that time Nadia appeared and
explained to me that the children were
all in Waiting Room South.
There they had a clown making
balloon animals
and a wall of video games.
(Later I found out they were
serving sushi and lobster
in Waiting Room East-
for loyal customers only-
those patients/friend/pals
who begged for routine
three month check-ups and let
the doctor win at golf.)

"Do you need any help?" she asked.
I was sure she would have turned the
pages of my magazine for me
if I had asked her to.

She told me about the vending area
and I had to see it for myself.
Rows and rows of healthy drinks
and sugar free treats lined
the copper-papered walls.
One machine offered bubble-gum
flavored floss and single dose mouthwash.

I could have waited there all day
and not complained a minute.
But soon I went back to see Dr. Den.

He showed off his toothy smile-
like all good dentists do-
and shook my hand.
The chair he led me to looked
like a space-age Lazy Boy
and the flat screen TV
he pulled in front of me was
showing a video of a cracking fireplace
with soft music playing.

He clipped a soft combed cotton bib on me,
slapped on his sweet-smelling blueberry gloves,
and quickly repaired my tooth
with a silent drill
and minimal poking.

"All Done," he announced, removing his gloves
and fastening his Rolex back on his wrist.

I paid Dr. Den Teen and instantly needed
another doctor for my blood pressure.
I knew who was paying for this dental resort!

"Nadia," I said, with a tad bit of snottiness,
"since I paid for this visit in full-
I think I'll hang around a while longer
in Waiting Room North.
They're showing a Grey's Anatomy marathon
and it's on another four hours.
And, oh-I'll have a sugar-free Ginger Ale, please."

Now, if you think I have made all of this up,
I want you to know:

It's the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Stars in My Eyes


I am not a big Hollywood fan.

Of course, I like to watch movies,
keep up a little with the TV celebrities,
and read a magazine once in awhile that
features a movie star's biography.

And, I suppose, there was a time
that I envied some of the actors and actresses.
Times when I sat doe-eyed in front
of the screen and wished
I was them.

The first time that happened
must have been when Shirley Temple
started dancing in the aisles-
flashing her dimples
and shaking her banana curls.
She had on a beautiful dress with
a can-can underneath
and little black Paten shoes-
(complete with neat-sounding taps.)

It wasn't so much the idea
that I wanted to have clothes like her,
but more the fact that
she was on "The Good Ship Lolly Pop".
In my mind I imagined swirls
of colorful candy covering the boat
from bow to stern.
I mean, who wouldn't want to be someplace
all sweet and gooey like that?

Then there was the Little Rascals.
They were so cool.
What a life! Getting to run around
town all day with your friends
and your dog,
building go-carts
and putting on neighborhood plays
and having a secret club house.
Being Darla Jean Hood
would have been the ultimate
in childhood dreams.


There was also a time I wanted to be
Mighty Mouse.
He could fly and fight and squeeze in
just about anywhere.
And he could eat all the cheese he wanted.
(Just thought I'd throw that one in there-
but, I do like cheese pretty much.)

The first time I saw Gone With the Wind,
I wanted to be Scarlett.
I thought it would be fun being a dark eyed brunette
that got to wear window curtains
and ride a horse
and talk with a Southern accent.
Say things like "Hun-nay, Preh-shus, and Eve-nun."
Of course, having a boyfriend
like Rhett Butler was only an added plus.

But I have to admit,
the person I wanted to be the most
was Jennifer Beals in Flashdance.
I would have given anything to
be able to spin like a ballerina,
but also flip like Jackie Chan.
What a fee-ling!
I loved the 80's look of the
torn sweatshirt hanging off
one shoulder and the groovy leg warmers.
After seeing the movie for the first time
I was determined to join a gym,
buy some cool workout clothes,
and sail across the gym floor
with the grace of a gazelle.
In daydreams, I could hear
music playing in the background
while I flexed my newly-made muscles:
"Like a maniac, a maniac, on the floor
and she's dancin' like she's never danced before..."

Realizing it wasn't going to happen overnight,
made me just want to be "Annie".
Slap on a curly red wig
and a red dress with a wide, white collar-
hug my dog and sing from the rooftops-
"Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow
You're only a day a-way!"

But at the end of the singing, the acting,
the movie or the film-
I always saw reflections of
just myself in the mirror.
Reality took over -
and so the fascination and fantasy
with Hollywood faded quickly.

It may be fun to daydream sometimes.
We all do.
And looking at ourselves
can sometimes be disappointing.
There's always room for change
and improvement.
But we must realize
that who we really are
is the only part
that matters in the end.
That if your heart is true
and full of compassion and love,
then you are a shining star
that will grace the earth and
forever brighten the heavens.

But, then again,
wouldn't it be fun to be Will Ferrell
in Elf ?
To have all the toys you wanted
and personally know Santa
and ride in a big sleigh across
the midnight sky......











Saturday, October 11, 2008

Everything I Needed to Know About Fashion I Learned in the Dressing Room at Target


Yes- everything I ever needed to know about fashion
I learned in the dressing room at Target.

And I am here today to share
the top ten things with you
for your entertainment
and invaluable future reference.

1. Those really aren't Fun House mirrors.
They just seem like it when you are standing
in front of them dressed only your underwear
and your stupid black socks.

2. If you think the jeans look
"sorta big" on the hanger-
don't be fooled.
To save time and trouble,
take at least the two
next bigger sizes
to the fitting room with you.

3. Don't try on bathing suits, tank tops,
belly blouses, or lingerie
while eating a candy bar or hot wings.
It's really so very unattractive.

4. Don't let the smell of buttered popcorn
and hot dogs from the food court
distract you from your mission of trying on clothes.
It will still be there when you get out.
Believe me. I know.

5. For heaven's sake, wear your
good bra to the store when shopping for clothes.
Nothing looks worse under a clingy sweater
than a sports bra gone bad -
or nothing screams "Help !" more than
a dingy Playtex that has lost it's
Cross Your Big Fat Heart support.

6. When you are in the dressing room practically naked,
children you forgot you even gave birth to
will page you over the loud speaker
or call you on your cell phone-
(that is ringing somewhere under
the pile of clothes that didn't fit.)
Don't answer it- they'll just say-
"You're doing what?"

7. Don't buy white pants
unless you are anorexic or
you're POSITIVE that you look good.
The odds are, you will probably end up
looking like a giant stuffed sausage.
Or a really ugly Celine Dion.

8. Try to keep quiet.
Suppress the desire to grunt,
complain, shriek, burp or pass gas.
Because, yes, they can hear you.

9. Never trust your own opinion.
Take friends or family along for a good laugh.
But, seriously, make sure you know some
dirty rotten secrets about them.
That way, they will always tell you how
thin, beautiful, and fashionable you look-
even in those awful leggings.

10. Don't buy it unless it's on sale.
That way, if you wear it a few times
and realize you look like a complete fool,
then it will be easier to accept defeat
if you paid a bargain price and not a small fortune.


But, we all make the wrong choices now and then.
Some of us take a little longer to learn
the dressing room lessons than others.
But the most important thing I have learned is this:

There is a sure fire way to
erase those fashion mistakes.

It's called "Donate to Goodwill".

Friday, October 10, 2008

You Say FRUGAL, I Say FREAKY


In today's world of high prices
and escalating expenses,
I am all for saving a little money
and tightening the budget.

I pump gas with my Kroger card
and usually save 3-10 cents a gallon.
I cut coupons on groceries when I can-
and I take advantage of ad-matching,
two-for-one, and stock-up sales.
When money is tight,
we'll watch TV instead of rent DVD's.
We'll eat leftovers instead of carry out,
and we'll keep the thermostat
a few degrees below comfortable.

All that is just common sense and
hardly takes a second thought
or a spread sheet to figure out.

But, as is everything in this world-
there is an extreme.
These people call themselves frugal,
resourceful, inventive,
and simple.
(Other names that come to mind
are tightwad, penny-pincher,
cheapskate, and stingy.)

For example:
How many of you save the little plastic
sleeves that your newspaper
arrives in on a rainy day?

The frugal freak sees a
multitude of uses for them.

Here's a list of ways to recycle your plastic bags
if you decide to go frugal:

1. Braid the plastic together into an
attractive place mat to adorn your fine dining area.
Be careful, however, not to place hot items
upon the surface
or use them near fire or flame.

2. These make a dandy rain bonnet
when your umbrella is unavailable or inappropriate.
Just stuff a plastic bag into your tote bag
or back pocket, and there's no need to worry
about your hair getting ruined by the wind or rain.
(But remember, do not cover the entire facial area-
this bag is NOT a toy!)

3. Love gardening, but hate the mud and
grass stains you get on your jeans?
Plastic grocery sacks or boutique bags
are a must in these areas.
They are terrific knee protectors!
Simply tie two or three around
your knee area and bend to your hearts delight!
No more worrying about soiled clothing.
(Note: Cheap diapers will serve the same purpose
and provide extra protection-
plus- the Velcro tabs are great for knee adjustment!
However, please do not attempt to apply
previously-used diapers.)

4. Plastic newspaper sleeves make
great work gloves!
Slide a few over your hands whenever
a messing painting project
or a cleaning job threatens your manicure.
Then just slip them off into the
trash receptacle when finished!
Fantastic!
(Personal Note: This is great if
you are used to cleaning house
with mittens on.)

5. Make parachutes for action figures.
(Do you need any further instructions than that?)

6. Carry these nifty plastic bags with you
when walking your dog.
When nature calls, be considerate of
other pedestrians and joggers
by placing the bag over your hand and
scooping up the hot steamy crap.
Roll the bag over the waste material,
tie with a knot,
and discard responsibly.
Thrifty poop scooper!

You know, reusing plastic bags are only one of
a million little things you can do
to save money.
Just think what you could do with
empty egg cartons, greasy pizza boxes,
milk jugs, potato sacks, and toilet paper rolls!

And old aluminum foil makes such
pretty wrapping paper when adorned with
glitter, sparkles, and pieces of ribbon!

Don't get me wrong-
I am all for thrift shop buys,
yard sales, and hand-me-downs.
I try to cut back on sodas and desserts
and movie tickets.

I even save loose change.

I found 38 cents under the
couch cushions just last week!
I also found a half eaten brownie, a Barbie shoe,
two marbles, a Lego, three hair ties,
a paper clip, a used Kleenex, sand (?),
a dog biscuit, a spider, and a Little Debbie muffin.

But, folks, the search was all worth it because
I also found a plastic bag!
Can't wait to throw that beauty
over my head during the next downpour!
Thrifty and Nifty!
And nice!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dear Man of Mine

Today is my husband's birthday.

We won't talk about which one he is celebrating,
how old he has turned,
or if there is more gray hair than last year.

We'll talk about other birthdays...

Remember back to the "hippie" times
when we were first married.

Back when his long hair
intertwined with mine
on the bed pillow-
When we would stay up late
and listen to Bob Dylan
or Gordon Lightfoot
spinning on the turntable-
Back when we would escape at 2 a.m
in our old blue Datsun
to eat breakfast
at the Lawrence Cafe.

We would smile across the table
at one another... hold hands... kiss...
I'd order French Toast
and he'd have eggs
and after our bellies were full
and our bodies grew tired
we'd go home
and collapse
on our water bed.

...And we had no concept of time.

We'll talk about the other birthdays
when our kids were young
Times when we'd cook a special cake-
all lopsided and ugly-
but full of love.
When we would make home made cards
with crayons and paste
and draw big hearts
and giant birthday candles-
and say "Make a wish, Daddy".

...And in a wink, the years flew by...

Then came the birthdays of late-
when our grandchildren joined us-
circled around a store bought cake,
generic cards,
and another new bottle of after shave.
And after the song was sung
they'd all go home-
scatter their separate ways-
and we'd finish off the ice cream
and watch reruns of Andy Griffith.

...And we began to feel the pull of time.

But today we are celebrating a new way.

I will say to him...
"Today I will be your hippie chick,
your pleasure slave,
your bride.
You will be twenty something again-
with that same sexy smile-
and dreams that carry promise.
We will sit cross legged on the floor
and sip wine
and wonder where
the years will take us.
We'll have German Chocolate cake
with a single candle-
and home made cards
signed with love
and I'll fry eggs
and make French Toast
and listen to Jackson Browne-
and you'll strum your guitar
and I'll sing
Happy Birthday
and we will lay our heads down together
on the same pillow
and smile
and know
that the years cannot
take away our memories.
And I will say thank you
for sharing your birthdays,
your life, your future -with me.

...Tonight we will have no concept of time.

Except -
I know what eternity is.
Because
that's how long I'll love you.

Happy Birthday..."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I guess I have gotten to the age
where my ears are getting old.

I have started asking people to speak up,
I constantly raise the volume on the TV-
and mumbling in my presence
will get you nowhere.

My kids get a good laugh about it sometimes.
I actually think they try to twist the words a little
to make it difficult for me to understand.
Then they just laugh and laugh.
And laugh.

Hearing loss can be serious business.
It can effect your every day life.
But-
at least I don't have a case of S.A.D.
This stands for Selective Audio Damage.
My husband has been afflicted with this
for quite awhile now.

He can be out in the garage running
the chain saw or leaf blower
and ask who was on the phone at 6:15.
Or he can be sitting in front of the surround sound
with seven Dolby speakers
blaring out some action video-
only to suddenly push STOP and say,
"Did you hear a car door?"

He can hear a deer step on a shaft of wheat,
a neighbors dog pee in the garden,
and his oatmeal boiling over at breakfast.
He can tell the make of a car by it's sound,
the sex of a bird by its song,
and the depth of a well by its echo.

But-
(here's where the Selective part comes in)-
I can pull into the driveway after an afternoon shopping-
my arms heavy with bags-
my legs bending from the weight-
my teeth the only thing I have free to open the latch-
and do you think he can hear me kicking the door
with my good foot?
Absolutely not!

Do you think he can hear me
as I cry out in pain because the cat trips me
and I fall backward off the step
and into the garden tools-
dropping two sacks
and sending a 12-pack of soda
rolling across the garage floor?
Do you think he can hear as I open
every cabinet, drawer, crisper,
and freezer door-
as I unpack ten noisy plastic bags
of groceries
and lug in two cases of beer,
twenty pounds of potatoes,
and a watermelon the size of a collie?
No. No. No.

After all that, I stand before him-
exhausted and sweaty,
leaf-rake marks on my forehead,
raw chicken juice on my jacket,
two broken finger nails
and a slight concussion.

"Oh, Honey, are you home? he asks, smiling warmly,
momentarily glancing away from a TV western.

Selective Audio Damage.
(A very severe case indeed).

The only thing that could have made
more noise than I did
was an atomic bomb exploding
in the driveway!

"Do you need some help? he says, faking
the flip of his Lazy Boy.

"Oh, don't get up, Darling." I say dryly,
limping for the sofa.
"I got it all."

"Why didn't you honk or something? he asks.
"I would have come out and helped you."

I truly believe this man.
Again, you must realize he is a victim of S.A.D.
Yet, it just makes you want to cry
to see a grown man
oblivious to his problem...

So, I go start a load of laundry,
run the noisy dishwasher,
flip on the radio,
sizzle some fried chicken in the skillet,
and sing out loud.

"What's that?" my husband says,
suddenly appearing in the doorway-
shushing me to be quiet.
He cups his hands to his ear and says,
"I think the outside faucet is leaking."

For crying out loud!
Where were his Super Man ears fifteen minutes ago?
Where was his enhanced audio receiver when I was
stubbing my toe and breaking my back?

"I can't take it anymore..." I mumble into my hands.

"What?" my husband asks.

"I got steak at the store", I say with a forced smile,
tossing a dozen broken eggs into the trash.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things


Every year Oprah comes out with a list of her favorite things.
In studying that list of 20 wonderful things,
I calculated
that there were only about five of them that "regular" people could afford.
$42 for 3 bars of soap?
$59 for 9 cupcakes?

$3,799 for a state-of-the-art refrigerator?
And, in addition, there were four or five things
that I wouldn't even want.

So, that prompted me to come up with
my own list of favorites.
Today I am giving you my top 10.
Many of my favorites are affordable-
and most you can relate to.

1. Secret Platinum Deodorant: $3.99, Walmart
This product comes in many fragrances and forms.
I prefer the clear-gel baby powder.
This has been the only deodorant that gets rid
of my B.O.
I wish everyone would use it.
Especially the lady behind me in Kroger the other day
who insisted on waving her arms to speak
and who kept leaning toward my ground beef.

2. My Derek Heart Plus sweat pants: $14, Goody's
I found these on a clearance rack and I wear them
almost everyday. ( Not suitable for public viewing, however)
They are capri-length, black, and were size 2X.
After washing them they are now about an XL and fit nice and comfy.
Spaghetti sauce and chocolate ice cream washes out beautifully.
One drawback: They have Alpha Kappa Love plastered down
the left leg in gold lettering.
The only worse thing would have been
Winnie the Pooh.

3. Maxwell House Coffee: $6/2 pounds,all retailers
I have tried the other brands and always come back.
Folgers makes me loony, Starbucks is overpriced,
and off-brands taste like boiled dirt.
There is something so satisfying about sipping a cup
of hot coffee while the snow falls outside.
ADD a shot (or two) of your favorite liquor- and suddenly
the kids, pets, and bill collectors
become almost bearable.
Don't be swayed by fancy flavored coffee.
It never tastes like what it's supposed to.
If you want pumpkin flavored coffee, buy a pumpkin pie
and wash it down with a cup of Maxwell House.
It's good till the last drop.

4. Mini Food Chopper: $5, WalMart
This little gadget was a Christmas gift from Linda
and I love it.
(Forget Oprah's Kitchen Aid mixer for $400.)
This baby does it all!
I fill mine with boiled eggs and chop them
to a creamy texture for deviled eggs.
I make my own relish from pickles and peppers.
I have chopped nuts, onions, tomatoes,
cookies and stale bread.
This should be in every one's kitchen.
And tornado shelters and safety deposit boxes.

5. Glue Sticks:$2/pkg of six, all retailers
This product has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion.
Virtually invisible,the strength of this glue
will amaze you!
I actually wallpapered my old file cabinet by using only
a glue stick. It's been three years and
even the edges are still firmly in place.
Great fix for applying stamps, closing
envelopes, kids projects, and covering
mistakes on paper items.
I keep my glue sticks right next to my
scissors, paper clips, and stapler.
It's one of the family now.
Cheap and indispensable!

6. Oil of Olay, Original: $6.97, Walmart
If I could buy this by the gallon, I certainly would.
Everything else I ever tried on my face broke me out.
This moisturizer is light, great smelling,
and does the job well.
I still look my age, but without it,
I would look 70!
No kidding!
I figure that thirty years worth of
Oil of Olay has saved me thousands
in face lifts and Botox treatments.
I keep it with me always.
(Confidentially, I have smothered it
on my legs and belly with no results.)

7. Country Living Magazine: $19/yr/12 issues;Hearst Pub.
This may seem like a luxury that most frugal gals
would surrender when budget cutting.
However, this magazine is almost therapy for me.
After a long, hard day of whatever crap
I happen to be up against-
escaping into the beautifully photographed pages
and articles of country tidbits is pure relaxation.
Top that lovely magazine off with a frozen margarita,
fuzzy house slippers and a cupcake -
then it's right up there close to heavenly!
Well worth it!
(Note: To be honest, the margarita would have
been my Number One choice, but I didn't
want to sound like a loser.)

8. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation DVD format: $19.99, most retailers
If I could only keep one DVD in my collection, this would be it.
There is something heart warming and real to this
insane comedy.
It makes us look at ourselves and what Christmas really means.
My favorite part is when Chevy Chase is stuck in the attic
and watches the old home movies.
Whenever I hear the song "That Spirit of Christmas" by Ray Charles,
it brings tears to my eyes-
(even if I would happen to be bathing the dog or cleaning up vomit).
I watch this every year and it melts my heart every time.

9. Swiffer Sweeper: less than $10, retailers everywhere
It is hard to believe that I actually have a cleaning tool
on my top ten list.
(However, it s even more bizarre that I actually own one!)
Folks, I do not even own a mop any more!
I use my Swiffer Wet Ones to mop
and the Swiffer dry ones to dust.
It is easy and quick.
(Which we all know is a motto of mine).
This is a big improvement over my last mopping method
which consisted of spraying
the bottom of my socks with Windex
and skating around the kitchen.

10. Caller ID: usually free with package, available through most telephone companies
What a genius that invented this little gem of wonderment!
No more picking up the phone at midnight
to hear some drunk asking for a taxi!
No more listening to a telemarketer give you
a twenty minute speech to sell you a vacation time share!
No more facing creditors, nosy neighbors, politicians
and annoying relatives!
Even if this cost hundreds of dollars,
it would be worth the peace and sanity
that it provides each and every day.
I rank that right up there in my top ten!

So, there you have it, Oprah.
A list of ten things that I personally love
and require to make my life go smoothly.
And they won't break the bank!

P.S.
(Sorry, readers- there will not be
any surprises waiting under your computer desk
after the blog!)