Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Have A Blessed Thanksgiving

I will be spending the next few days
with the people I love
in celebration and thanks of all that
we share and enjoy.

I just want to leave you with the
following video-
it says all I could ever hope to say...

Making it even better,
Josh Groban was my late sister's
favorite singer.

This is for you, Barb.


Dear Diary 2007


November 28, 8 AM

Dear Diary,

I have swept and cleaned all morning in great anticipation of our Christmas tree. Although I had to move a desk and the sofa, I feel as though our special tree deserves the best possible place in our holiday home.
Fresh trees are the only way to go- the smell of pine, the naturally twisted branches, the baby pine cones bursting forth. How beautiful and festive our house will be once we have selected the perfect tree and trimmed it with wondrous decor!


5 PM


Oh, we bought the most beautiful tree on the lot! Green and full and bushy, this pine tree was the envy of every everyone around. We didn't even mind paying the premium price for it.
We are stringing the lights and placing the ornaments on it as I write.
Our hearts are indeed joyous.


November 30, 9 PM

Dear Diary,

I love gazing at the tree during these quiet evenings at home. I let the lights sparkle and I put on a Christmas CD, and suddenly I am transported to a winter wonderland. If it were possible, I would keep this tree forever.


December 1, 7 AM

Dear Diary,

I have noticed the tree has shed a few needles, but with a quick scoop of a car vac , everything looks great again. One string of lights has apparently gone bad, so there are only blue twinkles at the bottom of the tree. However, that problem hardly distracts from the beauty.


10:30 PM


I have given the tree another quart of water because the dry needles have dropped all day long. There were so many that I had to retrieve the Shop Vac from the garage. And now that the fullness has somewhat deflated, I have noticed that a few of the branches are actually very bent and mutated.

Oh, dear, another set of lights just blew.

Hey- is that a possum?


December 5, noon

Dear Diary,

Last night all the cute little pine cones got warm and burst into bloom, leaving sap bubbles on my new carpet. Mixed with the fallen needles, the gluey globs are hell on the vacuum and even that fancy orange cleaner cannot budge the sticky tar beneath my fingernails.
I am sick and tired of bumping into the sofa every time I enter and exit the room. And the desk was moved in front of a closet we never used. Until now.
The garland seems to have lost it's sparkle and the dog has broken a dozen of the prettiest ornaments.
The star on the tip fell off and is wedged in the corner where no one can reach it without moving the tree.
Oh, well.


December 12, 6AM

Dear Diary,

Apparently there were some sort of egg sacs in the limbs of our tree that hatched overnight. We have been spraying these flying insects since 3 AM.

The dog bumped the tree, too, causing the water pan to spill, and soaked at least four or five presents and their contents.
I can't stand this monstrosity any longer! I am ready to shove this darn thing right out the door and into the fire! And to think we paid what we did for a lousy damn tree!


December 22, 5 AM

Dear Diary,

The tree flashes only red lights now and it looks like an all day emergency in here. All we need is a siren to set the mood.
The trunk has begun to lean at a 45 degree angle and even propping it up with encyclopedias doesn't seem to help.
I just sit here, gaze at this ugly tree- and sip margaritas to take away the pain.
And if I hear that Christmas CD play one more time, I will scream!
Especially the song about "Oh, Christmas Tree".


December 25, 5AM

Dear Diary,

Bah-Humbug.


December 26, 4 AM

Dear Diary,

The tree went out the door at 2AM and with it -all the needles and bulbs and icicles, too. I couldn't even get the blasted lights off. The strings were so tangled that I just clipped them with the wire cutters to get it over with.
And I was so happy to put that sucker out of it's misery! One match to one dry pine tip, and the tree was ablaze and a bed of coals in five seconds!


7 AM

I have picked out a lovely artificial tree this morning for next years holiday. It is slim, won't shed, is bug free, and guaranteed to stay pre-lit for five years.


You know, fake trees are the only way to go!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Help Me! I'm A Kitchen Cripple


There are two kinds of people present
at my house on Thanksgiving.

There are the Eaters
and there are the Cookers.

Sadly, I am not as good a Cooker
as I am an Eater.

I think it all started with my childhood.
With nine kids, my mom never
welcomed us into her kitchen.
She never encouraged us
to break eggs, measure flour,
stir, chop, or fry.
So, being cuisinely challenged
has been a handicap that I have
learned to live with.

The most common misconception
of handicapped cooks
is that they cannot cook.
FALSE.
We can cook.
We can cook day and night-
night and day.
We can whip up every dish and dessert
on the planet Earth.

The only drawback is:
It's not edible.

My gravy is too thick, my soup too thin.
My biscuits are heavy and my cakes are flat.
My meats are tough and my casseroles are dry.
And nothing ever tastes the same way twice.

I admit it.
I am recipe-retarded.
I won't attempt anything if
the printed ingredient list is
more than six lines.

One year I decided I would
bake some whole wheat bread for my husband.
We had eaten some wonderful sweet baked bread
with honey butter at a local restaurant,
and I figured,
"How hard can it be?"

Well- very hard, as a matter of fact.
My bread was so hard that my husband
drove a nail through it with a hammer
and hung it outside on a rope for the birds.

It hung from that little pine tree
through one whole winter -
swaying with the bitter winds -
coated with ice and snow -
ignored by bird and beast-
even in a season of famine.

Every time my husband looked out,
he would laugh.

And I would cry.

And I never baked bread again.

Us handicapped cooks
are like zombies in the grocery store.
We trudge about in the bakery aisle
like we can't read or see
and don't know where the cream of tarter is.
We don't even have a clue what in the heck
we even need cream of tarter for!
And we think to ourselves that maybe...
we can probably substitute baking soda...
or garlic salt ...or something else instead.

To hide our handicap,
people like me put on a "good cook" persona.

I own blenders and choppers and grills and graters.
I have fancy baking sheets and spatulas and spoons.
I have tons of spices and sprinkles and hideous herbs.

I even wear an apron sometimes.
Just for effect.

Us handicapped cooks have one wish.
That someone, somewhere, someday
will come up to us and beg us
to make our specialty dish
for the PTO, or the family reunion,
or the holiday feast.
We dream about it.

I will go through the motions this holiday.
I will roast the turkey, whip the potatoes,
bake the pies, and cook the cookies.

But all the while I will be fantasizing
about dozens of smiling family members
licking their lips and sucking their fingers
and cleaning their plates and asking for seconds.

...Of ooohs and ahhhs and "fabulous" and "delicious"
being whispered throughout the room...
Of time stopping
and my head being crowned
and my chest being fitted with a satin sash that says,
"World's Best Cook."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Goin' Shoppin'

My blog entry won't be too long today.
And I am sure it will be boring.

I just don't have time this morning to write
because I'm going shopping.
Not because I want to-
but because I have to!

If I don't get a start on the holidays,
they will be at my door
and I will have nothing bought.
And then the stores will be out of everything,too.

My two daughters and their friend
are going and we have spent the morning
dressing nicely,
putting on makeup and fixing our hair.
There is something quite comforting
about finally putting on shoes
and a bra after weeks living
in jogging pants and hoodie.

We all look quite fashionable and fresh.

But...
I have done this shopping thing before.
The inner witch in me will emerge
before lunch time.
My feet will throb,
my hair will part on the other side,
my jeans will fall to expose my
pink underwear,
and my arms will ache with baggage.

Before the day is out,
we will all look like withered souls.

Come back tomorrow
and I'll tell you all about it!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Last Donut


No matter how strong we may seem to be,
there comes a point in everyone's life
when we must ask for help.

Perhaps it's getting your son to clean the gutters,
your husband to fix the faucet,
or your daughter to prepare a meal.
Usually it all works out without a hitch.

But, there are also the times
when no amount of family help will do.
These are times when we go through emotional turmoil.
Times when we need to make a conscious decision
about struggles in our life.

Everyday I feel as though I am struggling
with trying to diet and exercise and be healthy.
Each morning I awake with the promise to myself
that today will be different-
that I will begin to walk the road
to a better well-being and a healthier lifestyle.

Obstacles appear right away, however.
Next to the coffee pot is a package of hot chocolate,
there is last night's leftover lasagna in the fridge,
and someone
left a single donut in the Krispy Kreme box.

Now, when I see that donut, I know it is time
to call in a higher power.
I pray like crazy.

"Please lead me not into temptation.
Help me be strong.
Guide me to the carrots and celery
and whatever else is in the vegetable crisper that
I never pay much attention to."

I know that God does not want me to be fat.
I know that my body is considered a temple
and slowly my square footage is beginning
to roll over the foundation.

I know that God wants me to live a long and healthy life
with my family and friends.
I know that God wants to see me succeed.

But, I also know God
left the donut there
as a true test.

I can usually share without a problem.
I give my husband that last steak in the freezer,
the only clean towel, the best banana in the bunch,
the coziest seat in the house, and the remote control.

But if I have to make the decision to leave that
single donut for someone else to enjoy-
I will be selfish.
If I can't eat it right then-
I will hide it for later.
My theory is
that if they left the donut in the first place
they didn't want it very badly anyway.

And I do.

Yet, I try to remember to ask for guidance
and strength and self-control.
I try to think of that donut
as a gooey moist ring
of bad drugs.

I would never use drugs.
Changing my view of the donut
from something I crave
to something I fear-
sometimes helps.

I do have big dreams
of regaining a youthful body,
muscles, a real neck.
And I honestly feel that I cannot
possibly do it on my own.

I know God is watching that last donut.
And today...
I'm gonna make him proud.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Life Quest 2009

Even though we still have several weeks left of 2008,
I am already trying to decide on resolutions for the New Year.

Contrary to popular practice, this important list
should not be taken lightly
or disregarded after a short and pitiful attempt.
Resolutions should be a declaration to ourselves
that we will aspire to meet challenges and
be dauntless for twelve months-
no matter what obstacles confront us-
in order to achieve those goals.

In the past, I have had a fairly generic list
of resolutions.
1. Lose weight
2. Save money
3. Exercise
4. Be a better person
5. Get organized

You know the drill...

But, I have been haunted by the fact
that I must really set some significant
goals for 2009.
My list cannot just be "a list".
It should not be a photocopy
of everyone else's aspirations.

It should be the first baby steps
to My Life Quest.

And it most certainly shouldn't be
decided upon on New Years Eve
after a booze
and a snooze
and scribbled on a paper napkin.

We should take to heart
what we know will make us better people
and, in effect, make the world a better place.

That's why this year I'm getting serious.

I am writing my list on
watermarked, 24 lb writing paper.
I have chosen a white, unblemished,
perfectly formed sheet.
The silk finish is luxurious to the touch,
almost dreamy.

I will be using a Sheaffer Agio
gold plated fountain pen.
The elegant, eye-catching design is brushed gold
with 23K gold electroplate accents.
It even has a comfortable, contoured grip
for smooth writing control.

For a combination of lighting and mood,
I have purchased a Rigaud candle,
created in France by Madame Rigaud.
The Cypres Green is a natural, refreshing fragrance
reminiscent of cypress forests,
with woody accents.

I will be seated in a rare leather chair
at an exotic wooden desk
with a view of snow covered fields
and gentle winter landscapes.

It will all be so perfect.

(Later that evening.....)

I have gone through a ream of that
crappy expensive paper already!
Most of it is wadded into the waste basket
because that damn pen kept leaking ink
every time I wrote resolution number one:
"Save the World".

Plus, the smell of that putrid candle
is a cross between a moldy Christmas tree
and the bathroom at the Quickie Mart .

My leather chair made strange noises when I moved
and the kids kept accusing me of passing gas
and just when I got to number two on my list-
"Find an Unknown Dinosaur Species"-
I would have to yell at them to all shut up
so I could concentrate.

And it didn't help that my desk was
so short that I kept banging my knee caps
and , believe me, it hurt like the dickens.
In addition, the snow covered fields
are all muddy brown because of the
torrential winter rain
and all I can see from my window is some stupid dog
taking a crap on my wooden Santa.

So, in short,
I have decided that in order to produce
a genuine and sincere list of resolutions-
and to begin My Life Quest 2009-
I will need a snooze.

And lots of booze.
(Lots and lots and lots....)

And a party napkin... a crayon...
some personal space...

And I will need a heaven-sent epiphany...
and a freakin' map to find
My Life Quest!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Searching For Santa


Since I have Christmas on the brain lately,
I wondered just how many Santa Claus's there are.
Not dress-up ones- but people with the actual name.
I thought it might make an interesting little blog.

I started out by simply typing "Claus"
into the blank where it asks for last name.
Then I tried Kringle.
Then I decided to try everything I could think of
that had to do with Christmas.

You would not believe the names I found on
PeopleFinders.com!
I swear I looked up all of these individually!
There are actual people with these names.

I believe that 100 results per name
is as many as they will provide,
so some names may very well exceed 100.

What was to be a search for Santa
became a giant blog of Christmas names!
Just look!

According to PeopleFinders.com
here are 12 Chris Kringles,
27 Kris Kringles,
72 Santa Claus's
65 Elf's
6 Rudolph Reindeer's
3 Frosty Snowman's
1 Ebeneezer Scrooge (no lie!)
8 Tiny Tim's
35 Clark Griswold's
75 Bing Crosby's
100 Charlie Brown's
1 Yukon Cornelius
100 George Bailey's
100 Grinch's
over 50 Angel's
and 1 Toymaker.

There are:
100 Mistletoe's
1 Silverbell
2 Sugar Plum's
1 Christmas Tree (Can you imagine?)
100 Cookie's- (2 of which first name is Sugar!)
100 Garland's
34 Tinsel's
4 Ornament's
1 Silverbell
8 Bulb's
100 Light's
12 Pinecones
100 Wreath's, Ribbon's, Bow's, Present's, & Sled's.

100 December's
100 November's
100 Ice's
100 Snow's
49 Glitter's
100 Christmas's
100 Parade's, Holiday's, Macy's, Bargain's & Sale's

65 Debit's
100 Credit's, Check's, Bank's, Dollar's & Bounce's.

There were 10 people with
the last name of Stress
100 each had Crazy, Loco, Poor, & Broke.

I also found:
19 Casserole's
100 Raisin's, Cranberry's, Divinity's & Yam's.
100 Fudge's, Pie's, & Chestnut's.
59 Turkey's (2 with first names of Tom)
12 Smokie's (That surely means there's some
little Smokie's out there somewhere, right?)
3 Drumstick's
25 Pudding's- (and get this- there were 3 first names
of Plum, one was named Chocolate and another Banana!)

2 Greenbean's
33 Candy Canes
53 Stuffing's
5 Fruitcake's (How'd you like to have that name?)
and 100 Ham's.

There were 100 Camel's, Wisemen, Myrth's, & Bethlehem's.
100 Manger's, Virgin's, & Halo's.

And to add to the holiday spirit, there were:
100 Scotch's, Rum's, Tequila's, Gin's, & Tom Collin's.
100 Cider's, Nog's, Wine's, Jim Beam's, and Jack Daniel's.
51 Vodka's
10 Wassail's
10 Whiskey's
and 1 Jagermeister.

Which just logically figures there would also be:
72 Puke's
2 Vomit's
32 Sorry's
46 Regret's
and 5 Hangover's!

But, amid all the silliness
there was:
100 Prayer's
53 Wish's
100 each had the last name
Generous, Kindness, and Giving.
There was 100 Magic's and 100 Hope's.

And, last, but not least
100 Miracle's...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Losing the Magic

While doing some early Christmas shopping for my grandkids today,
I suddenly realized that I'm not just tired and stressed over the whole ordeal -
I'm saddened.

Let's face it- today's children are growing up too fast.
Look at what "toys" have become!
They are gadgets and electronics and hi-tech items.
They run on batteries or chargers or downloads.

And honestly- do you actually think there
are any kids anymore over 7 or 8 years old
that still believe in Santa?

I predict that he will even change
in the next few years.
He'll become trimmer and his suit will be
more fashionable.
He'll have a newly designed sled
and do away with the reindeer.

(And the idea of elves making toys
was even a little hard for me to swallow.)

To grasp the change, look at these lists:

In 1960, the Top Ten toys were:
Hot wheels
Legos
G.I.Joe
Easy Bake Oven
Etch-A-Sketch
Super Ball
The Game of Life (board game)
Sea Monkeys
and two other games- Barrel of Monkeys
and Operation.

I realize that those things are all
still being produced,
but for what age group?
Give an eight year old an Etch-A-Sketch
and they'd be bored in 20 minutes.
And Sea Monkeys?
What child has the patience to
watch them grow?
Want some new and improved ideas?

Here are the top ten toys for 2008:

Playschool Kota the Triceratops
Lego Agents Mobile Command Center
Bratz Girlz Really Rock!
Bakugan Battle Arena
Animal Scramble from Wild Planet
Ultimate Wall-E 7
U-Dance game from Hasbro
Wonder Pets- THis is Serious Ming Ming
Crayola Glow Station
Girl Gormet Cupcake Maker

We only got one toy for Christmas
when I was a kid.
(Then Aunt Jane always gave us a
headscarf, underwear,
socks,
and a nice little lavender sachet to
keep our drawers smelling nice.

But, that's another story...)

I guess when I think back,
toys were our tools for imagination
and things we could care for, protect,
and treasure.
We had to take care of them because it was
another whole year
before anything
would come along
to replace them.

The most precious thing about a Barbie Doll was
that she was wholesome, innocent,
and beautiful.
And what made her even cooler
was that
you could buy clothes and shoes to dress her.

The Bratz Dolls come with Botox injected lips,
belly tops, and attitude.

And a wardrobe big enough to fill a closet.

And look- Crayons can't just be Crayons anymore.
They have to glow or glitter or light up.

I remember when it was a far stretch of the imagination
to consider the powers that
Superman had-
Flight, super hearing, great strength and x-ray vision.
Every super action figure out there now
could whip his butt in a minute!

What kid would want a walkie-talkie
when he can have a cell phone?
Or crayons when he can have a Nintendo DS?

Or a super ball when he can have Wii Sports?

Or Sea Monkeys when he can have a dinosaur!

But for a minute- just forget about the toys.
That's not the saddest part.

The saddest part is- that these kids
will
never know that giddy feeling of
lying in bed on Christmas Eve,

hoping they'll hear Santa's sleigh-

or perhaps his boot steps in the hallway.

They'll never have butterflies in their stomachs,
wondering what on earth
could possibly be under the tree.

They'll never stop and wonder how Mom and Dad
ever pulled this one off-

and how much sacrifice was made to make it special.

To kids today, magic is about sorcerers
and dragons
and creatures from the dark.
They would never attribute the word "magic"
to Christmas.

To some, it's just another day-
another toy,
another thing to show off.

And because of that,
they will never
truly know
the magic.



Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bring Me Some Figgy Pudding!

The holidays start reminding me of
special times in the past.
Of Thanksgiving and Christmas events
that left an imprint on my heart.
And the warm gathering of family and friends
for a blessed meal.

My mind is quite often pulled back
to a Christmas a few years ago...

I had made up my mind that this
particular holiday meal needed to be different.
I knew everyone was getting tired of the
same old stuffing and potatoes and green beans-
the pumpkin pie and cheese ball and fudge.

I had a fantastic idea.
Why not cook an old fashioned Christmas?
Why not treat my guests to a trip back in time?

I would decorate the dining room with
Victorian embellishments,
soften the mood with candlelight,
and trim the tree with vintage ornaments.

Plus, I would find out what to serve
and whip up a wondrous feast.

My excitement had me pumped up
to face the crowds at the local grocery
and I was armed with a list as long as Santa's.

But after thirty minutes in the store,
I became discouraged.
I finally had to track down a stock boy
to help me find some crucial elements
for my old-fashioned Christmas.

"Where do you keep the figgy pudding?" I asked,
holding up my list for him to read.

"Ugh...don't really know, Ma'am. Let me get you
Gerald. He'll know."

Here came Gerald and I told him the same thing.
"I need some figgy pudding."

Together we searched the pudding aisle,
the fig aisle, the dessert aisle,
and the frozen food section.
We even took a quick look in the
Christmas specialty aisle.
No figgy pudding.
I was getting very concerned.

"I have to have figgy pudding!
I just have to!" I insisted.

Marge stepped up to help.
"Just what is figgy pudding? Never heard of it."

"You know...", I said, breaking out in song,
"Oh, bring me some figgy pudding,
Oh, bring me some figgy pudding,
Oh bring me some figgy pudding,
And bring it right now!"

"No reason to get upset", said Gerald,
backing off a little.
"Do we need to call security? asked Marge,
snapping her gum.
"I would say that there is no figgy pudding
in this store. So, maybe you should leave now."

It really didn't help things
that I was wearing one of those headbands
with the reindeer antlers
and a necklace made with
twelve huge jingle bells.
I did kinda look like a nut case.

"I just want some figgy pudding!
Is that too much to ask?
Have we come so far in this society of ours
that we can no longer rely on the good things
that made this holiday great?"

I stepped up on an orange crate and
continued my speech.

"Have we forgotten what tradition and
our birthright has promised us?
Freedom to choose! And I choose
to serve figgy pudding for Christmas dinner!
Would our ancestors approve of this
modernized, commercialized world where
customs have been ignored and abolished?
Where a man, woman, and child cannot even
partake in a delicious figgy pudding?

By that time a crowd had gathered.
I saw security pushing their way through the crowd.
And when they helped me from my stage,
I heard a round of applause.

"I just wanted some figgy pudding," I wilted.
"I just wanted this meal to be special."

As they led me to the squad car,
I became angry.
"What kind of grocery store is this anyway?"
I shouted, shaking my jingle bells.

"You don't even have sugar plums!
What on earth will dance in the kid's heads tonight?"

"And no chestnuts!
What am I going to roast over my open fire?"

So, after I left the police station
I stopped at another store to pick up some ready made pies,
trusty old green beans, the same tasteless cheese balls,
and instant potatoes.

My family wasn't going to get an old-fashioned
Christmas after all.
And certainly no figgy pudding.

"How about some Stollen?" the bakery lady asked me
as I passed her counter.

"I haven't stolen anything!" I hissed,
pushing my cart away quickly.

I sure didn't need any more trouble.
I'd had enough for one day...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Open Letter To The Turkey Warden














Dear Butterball,

I am pecking this on an old manual typewriter that I found in the barn, so please bear with me as I attempt to convey the reasons why I should not be picked for slaughter this week.

First of all, I've been a good bird all my life. Going on eight months now. I try not to ruffle any feathers here or stick
my beak where it doesn't belong.

I know you probably heard about the incident with my fellow pen-mate Thad. I want to take this opportunity to explain.

I realize now that it was wrong of me and my 1,756 other feathered friends to tease him about his name. We couldn't help ourselves. Contrary to popular belief, we turkeys do have a sense of humor. When Thad began telling us his problems, we simply said we felt "thorry" for him and hope he didn't get "thaughtered"
like "Thamuel" did last "Thaturday".

I regret that ever happened. Who knew he'd cross the razor wire and attempt "thuicide"? ha! ha! ha!

Secondly, although I appear to be rather fat and very rotund, I must advise you that beneath this outer covering is a very muscular
bird. I have legs like steel and a six pack you wouldn't believe.
Only a moron would want to serve my tough hide up on a silver platter.Plus, there was this problem I had a few months ago with chicken pox and I feel that it could still be contaminating my system. I even get goose bumps.

In most part, I am one of the most intelligent birds in the flock.
And believe me- there is only a handful in this institution.
I don't go around drowning in the rain or mating with just any turkey at the Mealworm and Pellet Bar. I consider myself sophisticated beyond measure, and therefore, insist that you take the dummies first so that the rest of us might provide you with a far superior strain of poultry bloodline.

I have never once eaten my food and said "gobble, gobble". My gosh, have they no manners? I was brought up to eat slowly and chew my food well.(Even though I don't have teeth).I prefer to say "Yum, yum" instead. Who wants a Thanksgiving turkey that says 'Yum, yum?"

I've seen what you do at the Big House- those electrocutions you carry out on our kind - the process that includes no jury or judge.
Then we're all flash frozen and taken somewhere to be stuffed. I could cluck pretty loud to my constituants and I truly believe that you don't want to mess with thousands of mad, stinky birds.
You saw what happened to Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock's masterpiece.
All I'm saying is, hundreds of turkeys attacking a phone booth can do some amazing damage.

I know that you will come around to see things my way. I will stay in my bunk most of the day, so you let the fellas know not to pick me when they come for their quota.

Besides, what would happen if a nasty rumor started about the bird flu? Don't think that would be good for business. I am certainly not above resorting to blackmail in order to save my neck.

Here's to a long life. For us both.

Sincerely,
Tyson Hormel Kretschmar


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Let's Talk Turkey

The holidays are coming up on us quicker than we realize.

Sometimes it's hard for me to even look at the calendar
because I just don't want to know how long I've got before
my debit card is swiped so much that it catches fire.

Thanksgiving is practically at our doorstep,
but the great thing about that day is
it's so easy to please people.

No standing in line, returns or exchanges,
no long lists of things they prefer, and
no credit card debt.

Just throw them a turkey leg,
serve them a mound of buttery potatoes,
stuff them full of pumpkin pie-
and they instantly love you!

All you are really out is a ginormous grocery bill
and three days worth of dirty dishes.

I've cooked a lot of Thanksgiving dinners.
And, sure- I've made my share of mistakes.
But that's how we learn and grow.
So, my friends, I am here today to help.
You can learn from my experience.

Below are some frequently asked questions
that I have answered to the best of my ability.
Hopefully it will make hosting Thanksgiving
at your house a positive event.

Q. What kind of turkey should I buy?

A. Good question.
They say that age, not gender, is the
determining factor for a tender, delicious turkey.
Personally, once they are frozen and bald, it's
difficult to guess their birth date.
They all look alike to me.
My suggestion is get what's on sale.

Q. How large a turkey should I get?

A. The standard ratio is 1 pound of meat per person.
But, if you are all planning to diet after the holidays,
it's best to go for about 5 pounds per person
and store the leftovers.
That way- come January- you can enjoy some really
nasty freezer burnt poultry with your Diet Coke.

Q. When should I begin thawing my turkey?

A. The experts say 3-4 days in the refrigerator,
but what do they know?
They probably have never had a guest chomp
down on a frozen wishbone before.
If your turkey is any larger than five pounds,
I'd say start thawing it out about Labor Day.

Q. What kind of stuffing do you suggest?

A. Personal preference mandates the type of stuffing
you serve. Many families have traditions of oyster or
cornbread stuffing- some enjoy the extra sage or even
the addition of apples or pecans.
My no-fail recipe is that I buy four or five boxes
of Stove Top and hide it away.
Then, about four o'clock in the morning on Thanksgiving Day,
I sneak to the kitchen, pour all the contents into
a large bowl, set out some celery and onion scraps
and an empty can of chicken broth.

Then I toss a little fake sweat on my brow.
They'll never guess it wasn't home made.

Q. Any suggestions for a good cranberry sauce or relish?

A
.Yeah. Ocean Spray and a can opener.

Q. What if I'm a vegetarian?

A. Then go to Denny's and eat with all the other sissy boys and girls.

Q. I am so stressed preparing the main meal. Is it okay to forgo dessert?

A. Are you on crack, or what?

Q. I can never get my family to help with after-dinner cleanup. They always retire to the family room and watch TV. What should I do?

A. Take the television remote outside
and run over it with the car a few times.
And then kick their ass.


Well, I sure hope my turkey tips helped.
Until next time-
Gobble! Gobble!












Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good Intentions


"What are you going to do today?"

I can just about predict the answer to
that question for about every one in
my family.
On any given day,
when they're not at their regular jobs,
I pretty much can guess what
their plans are.

Tina: "Oh, I'm going to iron
a bushel of clothes."
Jake: "Spending the day studying at the library."
Erin: "Going to see Bob."
Linda:" Gonna watch Izzy."
Jewel: "Got a church event
followed by dinner at the Elks."

And I think they all know
what I will say.
Because I always say the same thing-
"I'm cleaning the hunting room."

Now, when I use the term
"hunting room",
I know it conjures up visions
of a Ralph Lauren-inspired-den,
with soft leather wing chairs,
a monstrous but tasteful moose head,
bold, gem colored checked curtains,
a library of classic novels,
an alligator-skin desk blotter,
evergreen carpeting,
and antler chandeliers.

But, no.
My hunting room is just my
married daughter's old bedroom.
It was officially ordained
"The Hunting Room"
after I had to find a place for
a dozen different suits of camouflage,
bib overalls, sock caps, rain gear,
blaze orange vests, arrows, bows,
bow cases, backpacks, tree stands,
fox urine, targets, gloves, insulated
boots, rain boots, camo boots,
safety harnesses, pull ropes,
broad heads, shed antlers,
and various hunting publications.
Only to name a few.

Ralph Lauren would upchuck.

And the reason why my answer
is always the same is because
somehow the room never gets cleaned.
I pry open the door,
switch on the light,
heave a big sigh,
and then shut the door back.

I will use any excuse not to tackle
the conglomeration of camo
or the hoard of hunter's gear
that hides behind those walls.

But, my intentions are always good.

And I must admit,
I have added a few of my own
valuable objects to the room.
An array of gourds, scraps of material,
my sewing machine, paint brushes,
sketch books, paint, tools, glue,
glitter, beads, markers,
doll heads, old bills,
and some magazines.

So, when I say
"the hunting room"-
I actually mean
"the junk room."

But because I have made a
vow to myself to become
a better person-
to set goals and work toward them-
to focus my sights on a more
neat and organized home-
I will open that door,
suck in my pracrastination,
and tackle the thing
that torments me.

So, if you ask me what I'm doing today,
I'll say I'm cleaning the hunting room.

It even makes me upchuck.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To Everything There Is a Season


I don't know about the rest of you,
but I think fall is officially over
and winter has arrived.

Sunday afternoon I watched
ice pellets bounce off the car hood
and the wind whip the leaves
like a tornado.

Of course, that is the day
my husband decided
it was time to winterize the yard.
Just couldn't have done it
a week or two ago
when a light sweatshirt would
have been sufficient covering.
No, that would have been too comfortable-
too much like play...

I pictured a day
when we could rake the yard
in slow motion-
(like a romantic movie)-
where the golden leaves
would fall like feathers,
and soft violins would play
in the background,
and we would smile coyly
at one another and our
loyal dog would romp with us
as we playfully fell into
a pile of leaves
and
kissed.

But, nooooo....
He picked a day when I had to rummage
through my closet to find my Eskimo gear.
I put on my pink flowered long johns,
and over them, a pair of sweats that
said ARMY down one leg.

I put on a pair of thin socks and
a pair of super thick ones over those-
(The thick ones had zebra cuffs on them.
Don't even ask why I ever bought those.
I'm not really sure.)

Then I put on a sweater
topped with a hoodie,
and then covered all that with a jacket.

I pulled up my hood and then
smashed a sock cap over it.
I wore two pair of gloves
and my old boots.

Other than the fact
that I had to move sideways
out the door,
I was fairly warm.
But I looked like something
from a Weight Watcher's nightmare.

I could just hear the neighbors...
"Roy- come here quick!
Look at her over there-

has she packed on some pounds, or what?"

Every few minutes or so, I even shouted-
"I got two pair of pants and three shirts on, people!"

(But I don't think anyone really heard me.)

We put away the grill, the swing,
the picnic table,
the patio chairs, the rockers,
and the solar ornaments.
We disconnected the water hose,
emptied the rain gauge,
and stored the scarecrow.

And there we were-
like something out of a horror movie-
a good looking man
with his blimpy wife-
the cold wind tossing my
hair into my eyes-
ice forming on my brows-
frost bite tingling in my fingertips...

Suddenly, my daydream movie changed.

I picture us out there raking leaves-
scowling and cursing with each
pull of the rake...
The harsh, cold wind
breaking branches from the trees..
Our loyal and faithful dog is inside
under the blankets...
Some heavy metallic sci-fi music
is playing in the background
and we look over at each other in disgust
and I get angry
and throw myself into the leaves
and lay there like a turtle
who's been turned on his back
and I waddle back and forth,
trying to get up
but my husband just laughs
and runs to get the camera...
Or a beer.
Whichever comes first.

But reality is- that at the end of the day,
when my face thaws out
and my hands and toes
start to get feeling back in them,
we curl up in our favorite chairs,
sip hot coffee, and are glad
that it is all done for another year.

I will miss Mr. Scarecrow.
Can't wait to see him in the summer.
And all the other things
that will be brought out to enjoy
once again.

But, I can already bet
my husband will pick
the hottest day of the year!

And, believe me,
you don't even want to know
what that daydream movie
looks like...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Privacy, Paranoia, and Puddin' Cake

Last Friday I happened to go to WalMart
just about the time that every other
human being, their brothers and sisters,
cousins, aunts, uncles, their spouses, their children,
and their grandchildren, and even
their ugly stepmothers
all decided to go.

I wish someone had told me
what day it was.
I had no clue.

Not only was it Park Your Car In The South 40 Day,
but it was also
Stand In Line Till You Want To Scream Day.

Funny how I get so lucky.

Why couldn't I choose a day
like All The Free Ice Cream Samples You Can Eat Day?
Or Every Checkout Lane is Open and Empty and Has A Smiling Checker Day?

So, while I stood in line-
(hoping last night's snack of healthy prunes
didn't decide to backfire (no pun intended)-
and while I crossed my fingers
that my dog wouldn't poop the carpet
before I got home)-
I simply
observed people.

I looked at an elderly gentleman
in front of me and then studied
the contents of his cart.
A twin size mattress pad,
ten microwave dinners,
a liter of Coke, coffee, bread, and
a few little cheap toys.

I suddenly felt sorry for him.

I deduced from his cart
that he was probably a widower
who is still trying to cope with
being alone
and also attempting to keep ties
with the grand kids.

...Then I started to sweat and my bowels growled,
but
I ignored the discomfort...

My eyes drifted to another person.
A lady in the left lane
with an overflowing cart
that she could barely navigate.

It contained sacks of flour, sugar, pie filling,
milk, eggs- that kind of stuff.
I figured she was going to spend some
time cooking for the holidays.
I looked at her face and thought
that she seemed like a person
that could probably bake some
pretty good cookies.

I even thought seriously about
following her home-
especially once I realized that
she was buying all the ingredients
for a super-dooper cheesecake.

...Right then I had a hot flash,
a tad of heartburn,
and my boob needed scratched.
But, I persevered...

On my right was a young girl
with a few items that I examined critically.
Poor thing- she was dieting.
And having a hard time at it, apparently.

How did I know that?
Well, other than the fact that
she obviously had squeezed into
her jeans that morning
and bought her top at
Susie's Stout Shop-
she was purchasing lo-fat and lo-cal
instant dinners,
lean turkey burgers,
whole wheat bread products,
and diet soda.

But the true thing that really
gave her away
was the chocolate pudding cake
hidden under the dog food
and bird seed.

And I think I almost saw her drool a little
when the customer in front of her
grabbed a hand full of Milky Ways.
( I must admit, I salivated a little myself).

...As the minutes passed, I felt like my feet were filling up with ankle
and my shoulders hung down to my waistline.
How much longer must I endure?...

Behind me stood an old man
with two twelve-packs of toilet paper
and a few cleaning products.
My reasoning is that he must
have had the same
healthy snack of prunes
that I had the night before.

I was hoping that he could
survive the long line.

I then spied a pretty woman
in the far lane
with rings on her fingers-
(and bells on her toes?)
expensive clothing,
and a body straight from
the pages of
Victoria's Secret catalog.

She didn't have a cart-
just a basket hanging from
her tiny little wrist.
In it there was a pack of sugarless gum,
tofu bacon,
what must have been a dozen hummingbird eggs,
natural spring water,
and an apple.

I saw right then that she
wasn't in her right mind.

There are a lot of them out there, you know.

...Was this freakin' line ever gonna move?
I was turning into a hellcat.
(Webster defines that as:
a violently temperamental person ;
especially
: an ill-tempered woman.)
Yes, that was me...

Then I glanced down.
I suddenly wondered
what people were thinking
when they looked in my cart...

...But then I said to myself- Back off a minute, will ya?
This is my private stuff here-
it's none of your business what I buy!...

I started becoming paranoid!
Everyone seemed to be inspecting my loot,
criticizing my choices,
formulating what kind of cook,
or wife or pet owner I was.

Then, when I had all I could take,
I stared at them all
with my tired but vengeful eyes.

I saw them shift nervously...
whisper behind their jacket collars...
quickly lowering their eyes as I zeroed in on them...
pretending they were looking at something else...
acting as though they hadn't seen me...

But they were stuck in line-just like me!
They couldn't run
and they couldn't hide.
Because I sensed their uneasiness-
I smelled their fear.

No one had to tell them, but
I think they knew.
Yes, every blasted one of them
suddenly knew
without a single doubt
just what day it was!!

It was
Don't Even Look At That Lady Wrong
Or You'll Be Sorry You Were Ever Born Day
.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Nose Knows

This morning while taking out the trash-
that consisted of burnt fish grease,
some gangrene-colored ham,
a rotten potato,
and the remnants of some
really-good-spaghetti-gone-bad-
I realized that smells
are a giant part of our lives.

It all starts when we're born.

Somehow that smell of our mama
is so special
that we reject most other people's
attempt to cradle us.

And at the point where we start
eating food,
we already know by the smell
that we do not want the
organic creamed peas with
tender carrot chunks-
and if we are forcibly fed
such a putrid concoction-
we will either puke it up
or throw it against the wall.

If it wasn't for our sense of smell,
mothers would have a hard time
managing the personal hygiene of
their infants.
Other than the fact that the kid is
semi-hidden behind the Little Tykes
princess castle
grunting like a Sasquatch
and turning a funny shade of red,
how would anyone know that
it's time for a diaper change?

Again, it's that gift of smell
that leads us to look down to find
the flowing diarrhea pooling dangerously close
to the TV remote.
If it wasn't for the smell-
who knows how long it would be
before a busy mom starts to
change the TV channel
and realizes that it can't be
pudding on her hands because
they haven't had any pudding lately-
and then says - Oh, I bet the baby pooped.

If you think about it,
smell can actually lead us to our life mate.

When I was dating, I personally found
that kissing a guy who just had
a Big Mac with extra onions
to be totally unattractive.
And anyone who came near me
whose mother had smothered his
winter coat in mothballs,
might as well get lost.

I can almost remember knowing
exactly how my husband's skin smelled
when we met.
It was musky and manly and
made just for me.
It's difficult to pin point it now
because our smells have fused
together into one.
I think that happens when you're
in love.

The seasons all have their unique smells,too.

In Spring, we love the smell
of daffodils and lilacs
and the sweet air after a rain.

In Summer, it's the freshly mowed grass,
the odor of a chlorinated pool,
the earthy dirt of an upturned garden.

In fall, it's the sassafras and cut hay
and pumpkin pie.

Winter brings us sugar cookie smells
and the essence of pine and spice and
gingerbread.

If food didn't smell so wonderful,
I have a sneaky suspicion
that we'd all be thin and healthy.

We'd choose water to drink
over the double chocolate cappucino
with chocolate sprinkles and
mountain of whipped cream.
We would have tofu and granola
over a grilled cheeseburger
with extra special sauce.

Our nose would no no difference
in the expired milk or the new jug-
between a fart cloud and cotton candy,
between last weeks lunch meat
or the fresh bologna.

Yeah, I started thinking about smells
when I tackled that darn trash bag
and wrestled it out the door
and into the garage.
And suddenly...
I am starting to get
a funny whiff of ...a rotten fish
or ...a... puff of B-O-ish type fragrance...
that might possibly be
what has soaked the entire left side
of my pajama pants.

Good thing I can smell.
Because how else would I know
that it's time to take a shower?










Thursday, November 6, 2008

Really Classy Christmas Ideas


Even though I try not to think of the coming holiday season,
sometimes common sense just
grabs a hold of me and gives me a good shake.
I know it's coming and
I must brace myself.

Blame it on getting older-
or wiser (is what I prefer to think) -
but I can hardly stand the mall-jumping,
cart-pushing, all-day-marathon,
"Does it seem hot in here to you?",
Christmas shopping routine.

Usually after an entire day-
from dusk till dawn-
I end up with a bad back,
baseball-sized blisters,
broken nails, and a big, bad attitude.
And to top it off, I barely bought a thing!

So, at the risk of breaking tradition,
I have decided that I will attempt
to do all my shopping online.

Instead of a dozen stops to a dozen stores
in a dozen hours-
you can see the same thing with the
click of a mouse
and a jelly donut
in the space of an hour or two!

Personally, I like to give unusual gifts
and I can tell you now
that they abound on the Internet.

Below are a few of my favorite sites.
Keep in mind, I do have a weird
sense of humor
and get a kick out of this stuff.
If you are just surfing for ideas-
take a look!

Perpetualkid.com

One of the new arrivals here is
the Bubble calendar for 2009.
It is made out of bubble wrap and
each day you get to pop a bubble.
Fun times!

I love the variety of scents and
colognes they have here.
Play-Doh, Junior Mint, Glue,Dirt,
Cannabis and Sushi are only a few.

They even offer Birth Control Gum,
Hot Flash Mints, Vampire Repelling
Garlic Mints, Bacon Flavored Floss,
and Wash Away Your Sins Breath Spray.

freshtrend.com

This site offers a little less novelty,
and more useful products.

The Tyvek Airmail Wallet
looks like an ordinary folded
airmail envelope, but inside it
has all the compartments of
a traditional wallet.
Muggers won't think to check the mail.
Cool!

How about a heated fleece jacket?
A small battery provides up to 5 hours
of warmth.
Great for long snow ball fights!

I love everything they have!

baronbob.com

A little naughty, but a lot nice,
this site offers weirdos like me
a chance to do some serious gift giving.

A Yodeling Pickle, Charlie Brown's Pathetic
Christmas Tree, a Turkey Hat, and Giant
Push Pin wall hooks are all available now!

offbeattreats.com

Looking for great snacks, candies, and
food ideas for holiday giving?

Look no further.
Here you'll find Chocolate Dog Poo Drops,
Gummy Road Kill, Fart Chewing Gum,
and an assortment of dried insects.
Real Larvets and Crickets come
in great crunch-sized bags-
perfect for stuffing stockings!

hipstergifts.com

This site is a little less trashy,
but so are the prices.
But there are some neat ideas
to mull over while you're surfing.

This is probably the only place you
can get a huge throw printed with
you standing next to Elvis!
$120

Of course, who wouldn't want
the Hello Kitty rhinestone encrusted
phone charm?
Or the bow and arrow marshmallow shooter?

Black toilet paper available here!
Mop slippers, LED Sea Shell toilet seat,
and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup candles
are all on top of my list!

But, if you want to give a little more this year-
providing money and taste is no object-
click on to Neiman Marcus
and check out the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads.

They are eight and a half inches tall
and are gem-encrusted with over
23,000 Swarenski crystals.
The cute pair comes in a box
for $8,000.

But me- I'll stick to the really
great gifts like VooDoo dolls,
Jesus Soap, Gummy rats,
and Whiskey and Tobacco
scented cologne.

Don't you hope
your name
is on my list?











Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bittersweet Boxes


I made up my mind this week
that I would do some major fall cleaning.
I figured I could make a giant donation
to Goodwill before the cold and
rainy season starts.

I was really getting pumped up about it.

The "I'll Get It Later, Mom Stuff"
had overstayed its expiration date!
And I was needing storage space.

"I will be cleaning closets this week!"
I told my grown son.
"Everything that's yours is coming
back to you. It's gonna be picked up
or pitched out!"

Yeah, I was quite proud of
my firm attitude.
I walked away feeling that he was
actually fearing my wrath this time
and knew I meant business.

I set out in a mechanical method-
pulling out hangers of clothes,
tugging on boxes and bags
setting aside Christmas lights
and luggage
and lamps.
My plan was to take everything out
and put very little back in.

I sorted that pack-rat pile
of worthless rummage
with no reservations whatsoever.
I was on a roll!
I was getting it done- and nothing
was going to stop me!
I was a cleaning robot on steroids!
I was a heartless, mean mama-
extracting teenage junk
from its dusty resting place.

It felt so good.
In a few hours, the closet
would be beautifully mine.
All mine!

But the hardest work was ahead of me.
Now I had to sort through the boxes of my son's stuff.
I was positive that I could reduce the
two giant Rubber Maid totes,
three storage boxes, ten shoe boxes,
one trash bag, and a laundry basket -
into one or two good sized cardboard
containers that would fit perfectly
in my son's trunk.

At first it was easy.
I made myself a systematic assembly line.
I tossed out old magazines,
school notes, junk mail and dead batteries.
I stacked up school papers, note cards,
ink pens and board games into a new box.
I kept the ping pong balls, loose change,
hunting gear, and baseball cards
for another container.

Then, I opened a shoe box.
What are these, I thought ?
There was a rainbow colored stack
of ribbons from his grade school track meets.

It suddenly took me back to days when
I watched him from the sidelines
and cheered him on.
When I kept saying,
"You can make it- you can make it!"

It seemed like so long ago,
but yet, like it was yesterday.


Then in another box I found photos of him
in his Ninja Turtle shirt-
that somehow turned into a football jersey...
And the four-wheeler magazines
that turned into college curriculum catalogs...
And the bag of marbles
that became old car keys.

All of a sudden,
I felt my heart melt.
My "Mean Mom" persona quickly wilted
into a pitiful, weak woman.

I started crying as I found old ticket
stubs he had saved,
his first wallet,
and his baby book.
There were his art class drawings,
expired hunting licenses,
old cologne bottles,
and used-up watches.
And in a folder I found
all the letters and cards we had sent him
while he was away at school.

It was like holding a baby in my arms
right at that moment
that transformed into a boy-
and then into a man-
right before my eyes!

What I realized is what I always knew-
but never truly accepted.

My son wasn't ever really coming back to his room-
wasn't ever really going to live in this house,
play in this yard,
giggle with his dad
or be
my
little boy again.
Even though I am glad he has grown up,
it is hard to accept that his happiness
and survival doesn't depend on me.

With tears in my eyes,
I folded everything back
into the corner of the closet
and quietly closed the door.

I didn't need that space after all.

They say that there are happy tears
and there are sad tears.
Well, today, I cried a mixture of both.
I am sad to see the years slip by.
Knowing that my mothering days waning...
That my only son has grown up and away...

But I am proud that he is a good man.
(That he can still find his way back home
to give me a hug when I need it.)
That he looks toward the future
with excitement and with promise.

And I hope he knows
that I am still on the sidelines
cheering him on -
Forever positive
that
he will make it.















Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Saving Starfish



If you want to know the honest truth,
I hate the whole idea of voting today.

Not only are the candidates less than perfect,
but the actual act of voting
means I'll have to screw on a bra,
wear some decent shoes,
and try to manage my bed head.

Then I have to drive down to
the little barn at the
end of my road
and see all my neighbors
and know without a doubt
that they are thinking to themselves
how much weight I gained in four years
or how stupid my John Deer tee shirt
looks with my Bit-O-Honey sleep pants.

But because I believe in democracy
and because I believe that individuals
can make a difference in the world,
I am going to hold my head up
and slip behind that flimsy
shower-curtained booth
and hope my candidate
is celebrating in the morning.

I am not naive enough
to wish for world peace
or the solution to poverty and hunger.
But I do wish for the good ol' days
and how things used to be.

I want a world where personal family calendars
are more important than business Day-Planners.
Where Mom stays home with the kids when they're sick
and feeds them chicken soup
and baby aspirin
and reads them funny books
or sings them gentle songs.

A world where Mom wears an apron
and bakes her love into a thick chocolate cake
and where Mom always knows the parents
of your best friends...

I want a world where Dad makes the rules
and no body dares cross him.
But a Dad that takes time to toss a football
or attend a dance recital
or tinker in his garage.

A world where we can all walk
to the corner grocery after dark
and not be afraid...
A world where we can watch television
that doesn't have to be censored
or hidden from the children...

I want a world where grandparents
are that great couple you visit on weekends-
in their sweet little comfy house
where you have cookies and milk
and long talks about yesterday-
NOT the couple who raises their
grandchildren and grow old without
ever having time for themselves.

Sorry, but I want to live in a society
that speaks English-
grows gardens and cooks home made meals,
looks up to everyday heroes
and not Hollywood icons-
A society
that knows right from wrong,
Heaven from Hell,
and entertainment from perversion.

I want a world where
food is abundant, but there is no waste.
Where children are encouraged and guided,
not ignored and spoiled.

I want a world with big kitchen tables
and real family rooms
and picture albums full of the whole bunch
making great memories....

I know the little check mark on my ballot
won't get me all those things.
(Just like I know that a cute outfit
won't make me look young again.
Just like closing the curtain behind me
may not hide my butt..)

But seriously-
I would like you to take the following story with you
as you go out to vote today.

The Starfish Rescuers
by Jeff Roberts

One morning after a particularly fearsome storm, a man arose early and decided to go for a walk along the sea. As he neared the beach, the early riser saw an old man in the distance slowly, yet purposely, ambling down the shoreline. As he watched, the old man stopped, picked something up, and tossed it into the ocean. Then, the old man slowly straightened himself up, walked several more feet, stooped down, and once again picked up something, which he tossed into the sea.

Intrigued, the early riser moved closer. As he drew near, he realized suddenly what the old man was doing. Littered all down the shoreline, as far as the eye could see, were thousands upon thousands of starfish cast out from the ocean by the fury of the now-passed storm. As the early riser watched, the old man bent down, gently picked up a small, helpless starfish, and tossed it back into the ocean. He repeated the same process every few feet.

After a minute or two, the early riser approached the old man. "Good morning, sir" he said. "I couldn't help notice what you're doing. I commend you for what you're trying to do, but the storm has washed up thousands of starfish on this beach. You can't possibly save them all! What possible difference do you hope to accomplish?"

The old man paused for a long time, pondering the early riser's question. Finally, without saying a word, he bent down, picked up a starfish, and tossed it far into the ocean. "It made a difference to that one," he said.

Now, it was the early riser's turn to be silent. As he looked at the old man with growing admiration, it seemed as if the years fell away, revealing someone wise, noble, and strong enough to stand up to any challenge. Deeply moved, the early riser struggled for the right words, but none would come. At last, he too, bent down, picked up a starfish, and tossed it into the ocean. The old man, watched intently. He spoke not a word, but his nod and a wink said all that was needed. "Well," the early riser said as he looked out at the thousands of starfish stranded on the beach before them, "It looks like we've got a lot of work to do."

Just then, the two men realized they were not alone. Others out for their Saturday morning walks and jogs had witnessed what had taken place. When they saw what the old man and early riser were attempting to do, they too bent down and picked up starfish of their own. Soon, the morning sun shone down upon hundreds of good Samaritans - young, old, black, white, rich, and poor; each working diligently to save as many starfish as he or she was able. What had started out as one, had grown into an army of kindness.

Some time later, an amazing thing happened. As the last starfish was tossed into the ocean, a spontaneous cheer broke out among the starfish rescuers. People hugged and high- fived each other. Some exchanged names and numbers and promised to stay in touch. Others walked off together to share breakfast with new friends. To a person, each one felt they had done something important and had made a difference.

That morning, in the span of only two hours, five thousand starfish were saved, and hundreds of lives were transformed. All because one person cared enough to try to make a difference.

The next time you begin to think that the good you are doing (or considering doing) won't be enough to make a difference, think back to the Parable of the Starfish. Remember... "What is impossible for one, is easily accomplished by many." But someone needs to be the first person to throw the first starfish into the sea.

Copyright 2002, The Acts of Kindness Association. From our book, Love is Kind: How the Kindness of Ordinary People Can Make an Extraordinary Difference and Change the World. For information about The Acts of Kindness Association, or to obtain reprint information, please contact us by phone, 800-822-5874, or visit us on the web, www.keepthekindnessgoing.org. You are welcome to copy this story and/or to send it to others, provided you do not remove this copyright notice, and do not reprint it in other publications without our consent. .



Monday, November 3, 2008

Photoshop Fantasies


Everyone that has ever used a computer
has probably heard of the software by Adobe
called Photoshop.
This is a program which allows the user
to edit, paint, wrap, format, convert, draw,
layer and trace various graphics and photos.

Actually it's the type of program
that editors use on magazine covers
to make you think Oprah is a size 12.

Just a little eraser here, a shadow there,
a color change and a stretch-
and Wallah! a 285 pound talk show host
is transformed into a beautiful model.

This got me thinking.
What if we could Photoshop our lives?
What if- with the simple click of a mouse-
we could manipulate objects and people
to become our ideal vision of them?

I think I might start out by
Photoshopping my house in a few weeks.

I would decorate the outside with all types
of gorgeous Christmas lights
and huge pine wreaths
and eight realistic reindeer.

And while I was at it-
I'd pave the driveway,
omit the fallen leaves,
and throw in a pretty good snowman.

I'd edit the contents of my fridge
to include already cooked items
and yummy things such as shrimp, crab legs,
and giant, tender filet mignon.

I'd fix the cracks in the tile,
the scuffs on the floor,
erase the cobwebs and dust
and add some extra lighting
over the sink.

Imagine what you could do to
your closets!
Not only rid them of unsightly
and unneeded boxes and bags
and bad choices-
but also fill them with new,
fashionable and
sized-right clothing!

Dog need a trim?
Just Photoshop that extra fur
right off!
Walls need a coat of paint?
Try several variations!

Super-size the TV,
add a sun room,
create a fireplace,
and import into the picture
any friends or family
that you'd like to entertain.

Photoshop would get rid
of soap scum,
dirty laundry,
irritating neighbors
and pesky insects.

And-yes!
What wonder of wonders
we could do to our own bodies!
Our faces! Oh, Glory be!
Our double chins could be one again!
Our butts could be smaller!
(And higher!)
Instant boob jobs and hair styles!
Just imagine....


But-
since the whole Photoshop dream
isn't very realistic,
I guess I will be thankful for
everything that I do have.

And realize that there are others
with unsightly homes,
and empty fridges,
(and clothes from the eighties :).

Be thankful that I have loving children
and a great husband
and a dog that no longer pees on the rug.

That I have luxuries such as television,
and the internet,
running hot and cold water,
and a guy that picks up my trash every Tuesday.
Thankful that I have family
and friends
and only two chins!

But once in awhile, we all have
a Photoshop fantasy.

What's yours?


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