Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Of Times Gone By

This morning I tore off another page
of my daily calendar.
It is frightening, yet somehow
comforting- to know
that the year is over.

Frightening because it passed so quickly.
That my once thick calendar
is now a skeleton.
That I failed to be the person
I saw in my dreams-
that I neglected to live
(or create)
my imaginations.

And I wonder to myself-
just what did I do this year
that my family will remember?
Did I touch their hearts?
Enrich their lives with laughter?
What did I do this year
that held tight in their memory?

On the other hand, it is
comforting to know
that we all have second chances.
That a new year lies thick and fat
before us
with no scars or regrets
or any pathways.
We must make our own.
We must recreate ourselves.

I am looking forward
to a forest of opportunity
where my foot will trod on new ground.
Where my imagination
will blaze trails.

Where my heart will know
to love deeper...

May your new year not only be happy-
but full.
Of promise and of friends,
of compassion and of wisdom,
of strength and of passion...
of love everlasting.

The following quote is one I found
and jotted into a journal years ago.

"Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols." ~Thomas Mann

The Beginning is where you make it.
The End
is no one's guess.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Me and Linda's List

I've celebrated lots of New Years.
Mostly I celebrated them
with my eyes closed
and my face snoring.

But occasionally I managed to stay awake
and watch the ball drop-
even enjoyed a hoop and holler
along with Dick Clark.
(Back when his hair was black).

There were special New Year memories, too
like the first one I spent with my husband...

Like the first time I toasted with champagne-
(the bubbles not nearly as sweet as I had imagined)...

Like us playing cards with my sister and her husband-
the four of us watching the clock intently-
Not so much anticipating the midnight hour,
but anxiously hoping we could hurry up
and go to sleep for the night.

Age does that, you know.

But some of my favorite New Years
are ones I have to reach far back in my memory for.

Back to the little house in Summersville-
tucked back by the old County Farm-
in a bedroom with wooden floors
and a lumpy full sized bed.

There- on New Year's Eve
a radio would be playing.
It was an old brown radio-
it's plastic case chipped on one corner,
The "tubes" glowing in the back-
And the sound was a tinny monotone that
chattered into the night hours.

My sister Linda and I would spend
the entire day in our room with Dad's radio.
It was announcing the top 100 songs
of the year-
and we were writing each of them down
on looseleaf notebook paper.

Now- to record each and every song-
all top 100-
was our "Undying Mission".
Broken pencil lead or
our noses bleeding to death
was no acceptable excuse
for missing a number.

There was Julie, Do You Love Me?
Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes...
and who could forget The Rapper,
Let It Be, or Bridge Over Troubled Water?

Years before that
there was Hey Jude, Lady Willpower,
Yummy, Yummy, Yummy,
and Suzie Q.

Born Free, Monday, Monday,
Black is Black and We've Only Just Begun
all bring back a place in time
that still is tucked away in that corner
of a childhood dream.

I don't remember dancing,
but we would loudly sing to the songs we knew.
We'd take turns going to the kitchen
or the bathroom-
fearful of missing a tune
and leaving a big blank on our list.
And as the night closed in on the top ten,
we'd make a contest out of
trying to guess what would be Number One.

And at midnight -
(after a long, long day)-
we would have a few pages of wrinkled paper-
scribbled and written with the songs of the year.

But to us, they were priceless.

I really don't know what we did with it after that.
Probably got it out once in awhile to sing something.
Possibly showed it off to all the kids
that didn't have the patience or fortitude
to hole up in their rooms for a day
listening to a disc jockey.

On New Years Day,
the old brown radio went back
into Mom and Dad's room-
next to Dad's bed-
and once again began
cranking out ballgames on KMOX.

Then night settled on the old County Farm,
and a whole new year began to bloom.
Dad's Camel cigarette glowed like
an orange dot
and Linda and I snuggled in our
lumpy bed -
ready to face the new year-
content as two sisters
ever could be...

All because we had Our List.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hangover 101

This weekend I washed all my shot glasses,
shined up the cocktail shaker,
and cut my lemons into cute bite-sized wedges.
I stocked up on olives, cherries, orange slices
and margarita salt.
And bought a 200 count bottle
of aspirin.

All in preparation for New Year's Eve.

Now, I am not a drinking woman.
But I do enjoy a margarita now and then.
Especially at Applebee's.
(Theirs are perfect.)

And when special occasions arise-
(such as a brand new year)-
I take it upon myself to indulge
in a sip of fine liquor
as a celebratory act.

However, after reading about hangovers
this morning, I'm not quite sure
how festive I really want to get.

I found out that when alcohol is consumed
it causes the pituitary gland in the brain
to block the creation of vasopressin.
Without this certain chemical,
the kidneys send water
directly to the bladder instead
of absorbing it into the system.

Thus, frequent trips to the bathroom.

According to studies that have been done,
drinking 250 milliliters of alcohol
causes the body to expel 800 to 1000
milliliters of water.
That's four times as much liquid lost
as gained.

The result is dehydration.
And to make up for the body's
need for water,
the other organs try to make up for their loss
by stealing water from the brain.

Stealing water from the brain causes
it to decrease in size
and pull on the membranes that
connect it to the skull.
Thus- the dreaded morning-after headache.

Alcohol also promotes secretion of
hydrochloric acid in the stomach
which eventually sends a message
to the brain that the stomach is hurting.
The result?
It's the body's way of ridding itself of
the extra toxins.

And we all know how uncomfortable
using the toilet seat as a pillow can be.

Seventy-five percent of alcohol consumers
have experienced a hangover at least once.
Fifteen percent have one at least once a month.
And twenty-five percent of college students
experience hangovers on a weekly basis. that I am educated-
I'm looking at the possibility of
a nice sparking grape juice or
an eggnog to partake in
for a New Year's toast.

It gives me the heebie-jeebies
to think of my brain shrinking
from anything other than natural aging.

I don't know about you,
but I like having
a fat brain.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Empty Nest But A Full Heart

Up until now, every Christmas Day that passed
seemed like the year before.
The tree, the lights, the meal,
the opening of the gifts, the watching of
old holiday movies...

And to scan the past
with one swoop of my memory,
the Christmas celebrations fuse together
into a giant warm patchwork
that has no beginning or end.

Oh, I might recall certain gifts or a
deep snow fall-
but basically, the Christmas's were
pretty much from the same mold.

And I loved every moment of them.

It's hard to pinpoint,
but I think this is the year for change.
This is the turning point to
a different kind of Christmas.

Maybe it's because the babies have all grown up-
That the toddlers spend most of the holiday
being huddled back and forth to other relatives-
That even my adult children
want to start their own traditions
at their own homes.

My tree is even tucked away in a corner.
I rarely turn it on.
We haven't watched a single old movie
or listened to carols together.
I've opted out of the huge Christmas dinner
for finger food instead.

I compare this Christmas to the point
in my childhood
when I finally laid down my dolls
and never played with them again.
Don't exactly know when that was,
but it was bound to happen.
It was a fact of life-
an involuntary act-
a milestone of nature...

Just as now.

I look at my children
and their children
with all the pride in the universe.

I hope they are recording and
remembering these Christmas days.
The tree, the meal, the opening of the gifts-
I hope they are singing songs
and watching movies
and making solid traditions.

Don't get me wrong-
my husband and I are neither sad
or lonely over the prospect
of a "dwindling-down" Christmas.

We see it as our quiet time-
our time to reflect-
our days to snuggle
and remember
and be thankful.

It has given us the time
to consider the real meaning of Christmas.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

May your Christmas be bright-
May it be full of happiness and wonder
and memories abounding.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fruitcake Facts

There are so many things to enjoy
during the holidays-
so much to indulge in.
Our senses are cranked into over drive
with music, smells, lights and glitter
and especially great food.
Some foods we associate purely
with Christmas.

Such is the fruitcake.

My research claims that the Romans
were the first to concoct the tasty treat,
mixing pomegranate seeds, pine nuts
and barley mash into a round cake.
Soldiers carried chunks of it into battle
because it was easy to pack
and stayed well preserved.

Later, preserved fruit, spices, and honey
were added to the cakes.
Then colonists began loading them down
with sugar and nuts
which extended the self life even longer.
Nuts were abundant in the southern states,
so fruitcakes were full of them.
Thus came the saying, "nuttier than a fruitcake".

The Victorians loved to douse the cakes
with brandy and other liquors-
so much, in fact, that the fruitcake was
outlawed in the 18th century
because it was considered "sinfully rich".
Later, the law was repealed
because the English
loved having a slice with their
traditional "tea".

I think fruitcakes might be better
if they left out the candied fruit.
There's something about those bright,
shiny red and green cherries
and those neon yellow lemon chunks
that seem unappetizing.
Just a thick heavy spice cake full of nuts
and raisins and rum-
sounds really delicious.
Why did they have to go and ruin it?

Most people dislike fruitcake.
Forty seven percent of those that
receive one as a gift throw it away.
Eleven percent "re-gift" it.
And an unknown number use theirs
as a doorstop.

Stored in an airtight tin,
fruitcakes are edible for up to
26 years!

So, if you are feasting this holiday season
and over indulge at the buffet-
don't feel badly about passing up
granny's fruitcake.

It will still be here in 2034.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Just Call Me "Needy"

There is a fine line between
"want" and "need"-
especially this time of year
when commercials and stores
lead us to believe that
we "need" what they are offering.

In truth, we simply "want" those things.

I look around and think that I "need"
new towels, a better skillet,
a fancy rug at the doorway.
I feel the "need" for a new coat,
some top DVD's,
a better cell phone
and- yes,
a cheesecake.

So, it got me to thinking-
What do I really "need"?
If I could only have a handful of things,
what would I choose?

Of course, I am not talking about family or loved ones.
Or the place I live.
Everyone needs shelter and love.
Those are a given.

With much thought, I have listed
the top 10 things that I believe
I truly "need".
My decisions were based on
whether my life or health
or my well-being
would be effected by their loss
or if their absence would
alter my personality or happiness.

1. Caffeine
There is a huge possibility that I am
a coffee addict. I must have it upon
awakening and throughout the morning.
I feel that if my coffee were taken away,
I would curl into a fetal position,
rock myself into numbness
and never be the same again.

2. Pen and paper
To some, this may sound like a joke.
But I do need to write.
It's my therapy.
I gets me through those times when
nothing seems right, feels right,
or goes right.
It is a way to express my joy, also.
Without a way to write,
I would surely be a hollow person.

3. My bath tub
I don't think I could get by the rest
of my life on simply showers.
I need to sink into hot water up
to my chin,
relax, and read a magazine while
floating in bubbles.

4. Washer and Dryer
There is nothing better than a warm towel
scented with fabric softener
or a clean pair of jeans-
fresh socks
and pristine flannel.
I need clean clothes in order to
be happy.
I think you can all relate.

5. Music
I can do without television, but
I do think that I "need" music.
It is medicine for the soul-
it is inspiration-
it is mood altering-
it is sunshine on a cloudy day-
it is brain candy
and heart healthy.

6. Sunshine
I could not survive without sunshine.
Without the feel of it on my face and arms-
without the brightness shining
in my windows and warming my world.
I couldn't live in a cold, cloudy climate.
I definitely "need" sunshine.

7. Books
Although I don't read nearly as much
as I ought to,
a life without books would be barren.
I would have to have a Bible,
magazines, a some great novels
to exercise my mind
and renew my faith.

8. Blankets
I hate being cold.

9. A timepiece
Be it a watch or a clock, I must
have a way to check the time.
I go crazy when I visit someone
who doesn't have a clock displayed
in their home.
And when I am shopping or
doing something in town.
I always check my cell phone for the time.
I know- I have issues.

10. Chocolate
I know what you're thinking.
She just "wants" it.
She doesn't really "need" it.
You're wrong!
Horribly, horribly, wrong...
And if you think you know better-
try writing your own stupid list.

For now, I think I "need"
to start a load of laundry,
put on some Christmas music,
take a hot bath,
curl up with a book and a cup of coffee
under my softest blanket,
write in my journal,
pray for sunshine-
And then, I will glance at the clock and know-
it's definitely time again
for chocolate...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Christmas Miracle

My husband and I finally got
out of the house this weekend
and took a trip to see my son
and his girlfriend.

I love the visit,
but I hate the trip,
especially this time of year
when the weather is so
and it's uncomfortably cold.

The landscape seemed especially dreary
as it had rained the day before,
leaving muddy holes
and gray puddles all along the roadside.

Sleigh bound Santas seemed pitiful
posed on brown lawns
and dripping rooftops.
And Christmas lights glowed dimly
against the inky clouds.

I guess you could say
I was experiencing a holiday lull.
I was aware that my mood
was Scroogy Screwerton, for sure -
that my attitude was Bah-humbug
(which I blame solely on the fact
that my Christmas spark had never
been fully lit).

I curled up inside the confines
on my thick coat-
slouching wearily-
seat belted in and experiencing a non-eventful tour
of the heartland's empty fields
and dying trees.

I watched the side of the road
with my head resting on the cold
pane of glass-
observing pieces of trash,
piles of leaves,
and the typical roadkill
as it flew past like
a movie in fast forward.

Then- without a warning,
a miracle appeared.

Along the side of the road,
in the middle of nowhere-
there lay
a head of fresh broccoli.

I sat up straight.
My eyes became wide.
I smiled.
Heck, I even laughed.
What was a head of broccoli
doing on the side of the road?
Where did it come from?
Who put it there?

Suddenly, I started to notice
other things.
The gingerbread on old houses,
the rust of crooked fences,
the smoke coming from chimneys,
the wreaths on front doors-
the movement of people going to and fro.
Later, I saw glitter and reindeer
and elves and bows.
I saw the sun start to peep
from behind a cloud.
I heard music,
saw laughter,
watched a dog play in some back yard.
Saw trees lit in picture windows
and stores announcing sales.

And I probably would have still been
feeling down and uninspired
if it hadn't been for the broccoli.

I suddenly had an epiphany.

I know who put the broccoli there.
I know who wanted me to sit up and notice
the wonders of the world around me.
I know who wanted me to smile-
to fill my heart with laughter and good spirits.

God put it there.

They say He works in mysterious ways-
Well, I consider it a miracle-
a sign-
a heads-up.

The spark was finally lit
by a simple head of broccoli
sent from Heaven.

And now
I am truly ready for Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Buying A Bag

My girls seem to take a sick sort of pleasure
in criticizing my fashion choices.

Although they gave up long ago trying
to get me to toss out the old green sweater
with the one giant button
and the unraveling hole in the sleeve.

I like it.
It keeps me warm.
If I splatter bacon grease on it
or dump a saucy meatball across it-
no problem.
I don't wear it in public,
which is probably why
they gave up the fight.

But, my purse is another matter.

At first, they seemed to like it-
smiling with a sort of smirk
when I strapped it across my shoulder
to show it off.

It was the most expensive purse I ever owned.
Of course, I didn't pay full price.
It was $65 at the shop where I worked
and I waited till they clearanced it out
for $5. (Plus my discount!)

But, later, the girls seemed to change their tune
when I began carrying it every where.
They often commented- in ear shot
of the entire store-
that I really needed a new purse.

"A new purse?" I cried.
"This is brand new! I thought you liked it."

"Negative." Becca said dryly, shooting me that
screwy smirk of hers.

"Not really..." Erin whispered,
trying not to hurt my feelings.

"Have you ever given thought, Mom, to the
fact that no one bought it- not even when it
got down to a rummage sale price?" Bec added.

So.. it soon became an ongoing quest-
for them and for me-
to find the perfect purse.

I guess I didn't realize how many
purse choices there were
until I actually began shopping
with the ultimate goal of buying one.
I had to consider size, style, convenience,
price, practicality, and color.

I immediately ruled out the large bags.
Some of them were so huge that it
would take a flash light
and a National Geographic Explorer license
to ever reach the bottom.
My cell phone would be lost for days.
Change would pile up in the bottom
to equal hundreds of dollars.

But the small purses were too little.
I couldn't cram my wallet,
sunglasses, checkbook
and car keys into any of them.
They were the ideal size for only
a tube of lipstick and a tampon-
Of which I use neither.

The style choices were crazy.
Everything from Miss Daisy
to Miami Ink.
From buckles and bangles
to zippers and loops
and even places for umbrellas and notebooks.
Leather and pleather and vinyl
and canvas and cloth and suede
and plastic and shag carpeting.
Everything from kinda cute
to ugleeeee.

Now, my needs consisted of
a medium sized purse
that had an easy access to
my cell phone-
a pouch or separate compartment.
I needed a quick and shallow place to
dig for car keys,
room for my money and credit cards-
and a bit of space for
Tylenol and Kleenex.

I preferred a shoulder strap-
and not one of those tiny watch-band-size
straps that merely dangle from your arm
like you're afraid to touch it.
I wanted something I could grasp
and feel secure holding.

Purple? Pink? White? Black?
Tuti-Fruiti? Swirly? Polka-dot?
I thought there was a division between summer
and winter purses,but not any more.
Women carry every color
and every pattern
at any time.

I still have yet to find the perfect purse.

Until then, I try to shove mine
further into my arm pit or under my coat
because the girls have made me
self conscious of my beastly bag.

But, you know-
it goes really great
with my green sweater.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Home Movie

I think the best gift
we ever got for Christmas
was a camcorder.

This was back in 1995
when those things were
huge heavy boxes that you
had to balance on your shoulder
and smash your eye onto
the peep hole to see the action.

They took bulky expensive batteries
and VHS tapes.
A few good memories could fill
an entertainment center pretty quickly-
Each tape the size of a novel.

But, to us-
on that particular Christmas-
it was the ultimate in tech gifts.
We filmed everything
from the snow falling outside
to the dog playing fetch.

And we captured the opening of gifts
on Christmas morning.

The kids were young then.
Full of excitement and hope.
Cuddled around the tree
in flannel pj's-
waiting for "Dad" to say "Start".

I will never forget the reactions
to the Earth Bound Game-
the sport logo coat,
the Guess watch,
the boom box
and the brown slacks.
(But, you had to be there...)

And one reason I'll never forget
is that every year
we dust off the VCR
and watch them all again.
Probably three or four years
of Christmas's captured forever-
(and then the giant camcorder
battery became obsolete
and we retired the miracle to the junk room.)

I love re-watching us load the kids into
our brand new truck-
their knees and elbows strapped with guards
for a run in their new roller blades.
We drove to the school parking lot
and laughed the entire time
they pretended to play hockey
on the asphalt.
There were scrapes and bumps
and slips and falls.
There were "blown buckles"
and good-natured teasing-
and a huge, wonderful day
of Christmas memories.

It is sad to watch sometimes.
We look so young.
And the kids grew up so fast.
We see old pets and past vehicles
and discarded home decor.

You can almost smell
the tree
and the ham cooking
and feel the frost outside.

What has happened to all the years
in between?
I cannot even remember the past few

But, 1995 will forever be in my heart.

Tonight, I'll go back there.

I'll turn out the lights,
push in the VHS tape,
and watch it all unfold again
right before my eyes.

I'll laugh.
I'll cry.
I'll fondly remember it all...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Mother's List

Well, here it is-
8 days before Christmas
and my kids are finally asking
for my Christmas list.

Silly of them.
They know I never make one out.
At least not physically.

Everything I think I might want
just swims around in my head.

And then it usually dies
from lack of oxygen,
floats to the top,
and is excreted by some better thoughts.

Really, I am so content with my
material possessions right now.

I don't want clothes
because I'm going to lose weight.
No chocolates, please-
I'd have to finish them off.

I have a TV, a computer,
appliances that cook, keep food cold,
and a reliable coffee maker.

I have warm slippers
and fleece pj's,
a pretty good bed pillow,
and a car that gets me to town.

I have tons of lotions
and half burnt candles
and bottles of perfume.
I have earrings and bracelets
and watches that I never wear.

I really can't imagine
what I would want.

I suppose it sounds corny,
but I just want everybody
to be happy.

Years from now,
I want them to remember this
Christmas fondly.
I want them to recall
the warmth and laughter,
the tree, the food, the fun...

I want them to know
that every day of my life
I pray for God to protect
and to guide them.

I yearn for them all
to grow up and make intelligent decisions,
find true happiness,
be compassionate to others,
and love their lives.

I want them to always know
right from wrong-
to be strong -but not forceful,
to be ambitious- but not consumed by work,
to take care of their bodies and their health-
but not be vain,
for them to remember
the true meaning of Christmas.

That is one wish on my list
that I keep written forever.

One constant that
my heart always hopes.

And that is the greatest gift I can imagine.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Visions Of Sugar Plums

It was a week before Christmas
And all through our place
Were cheesecakes and cookies
All up in our face.

The pie was all creamy-
all covered with whip
And I knew in a a moment
I'd go to my hip.

Me in my jog pants-
all elastic and soft-
Had just settled down
For a meal at the trough.

When right on the TV
In front of my eyes
Pranced Victoria's Secrets,
-so tiny in size!

To control the remote
I ran like a lug-
But too late- he had already
drooled on the rug.

The woman inside me
knew things had to change
AFTER I finished
the treats on the range.

I was hoping
before my eyes, there'd appear
A miracle diet
of pizza and beer.

"Oh Weight Watchers, Ali,
and Biggest Loser, too-
Atkins, South Beach-
Which one should I do?

As fat women before
a new diet know-
The whole world is watching
your weight losing show.
And even a morsel of fat
that is chewed-
will cause them to point
their fingers at you.

I dressed in my jeans
For a party that night
And screamed to the mirror
"They're way too damn tight!"
My waist had expanded-
My hips were too wide
I looked as though I were hiding
a python inside.

My eyes, how they dulled-
My cheeks how they glowed-
My, oh my, how every one
Of my many chins showed!

A stub of a cookie
I held tight in my hand-
But knew at that moment
I must have a plan.
With my chipmunk face
and my big old belly-
That shook when I cried
like a bowl full of jelly.

I will speak not a word
But go straight to the trash
And fill it all up
with goodies I've stashed.
And relying on lettuce
and rice cakes again-
I know in my heart
I can become thin!

I will enjoy all my calories
For the new year has come
And my plan to transform
Starts with Day One.

So I'm hoping next Christmas-
A thin me can shout-
"Eat your heart out Victoria-
Your secret is out!"

Monday, December 15, 2008

Checkin' The Mailbox....

It's a wonderful feeling to check
your mailbox this time of year.
Instead of-
(or sometimes, just in addition to)-
all those boring bills and junk mail-
there awaits a
Christmas card.

I don't know about you,
but I just can't wait to peel
open that envelope
and see who liked us enough
to spend money on a card
AND a stamp!

I keep all the cards I receive
and display them somewhere
amid the other festive decor.
I also store them away with my
Christmas ornaments after the holidays.
That way, next year, I get them out
and use them as a guide when
making out my card list.

So, there's a huge possibility
that if you didn't send me one this year
that you won't be getting one from me
next year.
That's just the way I roll.

But, my real reason for bringing up the whole
card deal in the first place
is to call your attention to
what kind of cards you are getting
from those nice folks.

Do you realize that 7 billion
Christmas cards are sold each year?
Does it make you feel guilty
about all those dead trees?

Well, fear not.
For you "green" cronies
there are new alternatives
to the real paper card.

A company named Seltzer
makes a 100 percent recycled
paper greetings.
And they're certified by
the Forest Stewardship Council.
Sounds really official, doesn't it?

Or you could go with Eco-Expressions
because they use recycled paper
with vegetable based inks.
That should score some extra points
with some of you nature nuts.

Another cool product for saving
the environment
is produced by ReProduct.
Each card it sells comes with
a prepaid return envelope.
After you enjoy all the holiday goodie
you can out of that little card-
just send it back to the company
and they recycle it into carpet tiles!

But, my favorites are those companies
that are now making cards
that have flower seeds embedded
into the biodegradable paper.
Come spring, just plant the whole card!
No guilt-
and you're guaranteed a beautiful bloom!

I'm not really into that "green" lifestyle,
but I will start paying more attention
to the kinds of Christmas cards I get.

Personally, I prefer getting Hallmark.

Then, I know without a doubt-
despite the death of thousands of trees
and the danger of environmentally threatening inks-
that you cared enough
to send
the very best.

Friday, December 12, 2008

As Seen On TV

If anyone would happen to ask-
(which they haven't yet)-
my Christmas list consists of
some of the easiest gifts to buy.
Everything I hope for-
everything I need-
is from a very special group
of products called,
"As Seen On TV."

Who doesn't stop what they're doing
when Billy Mays draws us into
the television screen with his promises
of ease, safety, economy, and magic?
For those of you who haven't
tuned in lately,
this man has come a long way
since Orange Clean.

He now offers the innovative
Big City Slider Station
which Mr. Mays claims is the
new mini burger sensation
that is sweeping the nation!
Who wouldn't want to own
a piece of that?
A virtual White Castle right in
my very own kitchen!
I could produce dozens and dozens
of grease-logged calorie-laden
sliders to add to my
healthy lifestyle.

I can also see my entire life
changed for the better
with the fantastic Wireless Light Switch.
I could finally see what's under my kitchen sink-
(I misplaced an entire box of
SOS Soap Pads back in '91).
and the corners of my closets-
(my frosted jean jacket went missing sometime
between President Ford and Clinton).

The Steam Buddy would save hours of ironing!
Especially since I don't ever iron-
I can still see this having
a prominent place in my broom closet.
Just in case of a huge wrinkle emergency.

I get so excited watching Billy
advertise his Mighty Putty!
He reattaches handles and hooks-
repairs pipes and purses
and even concrete!

What a great guy!
He even offers a money back guarantee.
If your Mighty Putty fails to
keep the mended hot water pipe
from bursting while you are on a two week
vacation and your house floods,
then he will refund the full $19.95-
Plus shipping costs!
Can't beat that offer!

Then there's the Awesome Auger,
the Samurai Shark,
Zorbeez, and the Hercules Hooks.

I would be elated to find any of those
treats in my stocking!

What about the Forearm Forklift,
the PediPaws, the PedEgg
and the Roll Out Piano!

Gift ideas abound!

There's the Buxton Leather Bag
Over the Shoulder.
Bigger than a suitcase
and deeper than a well,
but, hey-
it's Buxton!

From miracle choppers to
greenhouse growers
to poop scoopers for cats,
As Seen On TV products are there
to provide us all with
an easier and more exciting alternative
to regular boring department store gadgets.

Yes, Virginia,
there is a Santa Claus
and his name is Billy Mays...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mathmatics of the Male Mind

Why is it that male hobbies
are so complicated?

Take hunting, for example.
My husband bow hunts.
And every year his sport requires
the placement of various tree stands
throughout the woods and fields.

This morning I was selected to help
him in this endeavor.
"I need your help," he stated in a most
unflattering tone.
Me- the woman he never asks
about placement of the sofa
or bedroom set
or which drawer the silverware
should go in.

Of course, he had to have
a Holder of the Rope,
a Balancer of the Ladder,
a Fetcher of the Tie Straps,
a Eye Out for Coyotes,
and an Opinion that Doesn't Count.

Yes, today-
when the thermometer read
somewhere below freezing,
I bundled up head to toe
and set off on a
tree-stand makeover.

By the time we reached
the woods on the 4-wheeler,
my hands and feet were numb,
my sock cap had blown off,
and my long underwear
were giving me a wedgie.

I was so ready to just pick a tree and say,
"There, that looks good.
We're done.
Let's go."

But, no....
As with everything my husband does,
it had to be methodically,
mathematically, and logically
figured and measured.

His mind works something like this.....

If the arrow travels at X mph
from a height of X ft,
what are the odds that this
particular tree will offer
the proper wind elevation
and aerodynamic boost in order
to meet the designated target
with perfect accuracy?

So, while he was doing
geometry, algebra, and physics
in his head,
do you know what I was thinking?

I was wondering how Paula Deen
got that pie crust to look so flaky
and just where I might have lost
the match to my favorite pair of socks.

Yeah, things like that.

Watching him freeze in thought-
scouring the horizon for the
best specimen to house his stand-
made me wonder why men
are so strange that way.
Why does it have to take so long
and be so difficult?

"Should of brought your laser level,
100 ft tape, and a calculator..." I mumbled,
trying to tease him out of his trance.

"Level would of been nice," he mumbled back,
serious as I've ever seen him.

Did I turn the coffee pot off?
Will the hamburger be thawed by supper?
Did I write down my last deposit in the checkbook?
My mind wandered....

I barely heard him yell at me
to hold the ladder steady
as he climbed to the top
to secure it.
I scrambled to grab it as he
scaled the flimsy metal rungs
to a place far up in the clouds.

That's another thing.
Why so high?
Why not just a few feet above target height
and be happy with that?

I drifted off again into a la-la land
of grocery lists and household chores
and episodes of Prison Break.
I also looked at the amazing winter trees
and little acorns
and listened to the leaves rustle in the wind.

"Hey!" I heard him shout as he began to descend.
"You can move now, it's stable."

As I scraped the frost off my brows,
and chipped an icicle from my left nostril,
I got to thinking about how
women have nice seasonal hobbies
like golf and bridge.
It's always warm and cozy.
They're out a few balls
and a deck of cards now and then-
that's all.
There's no scientific purging of the brain
or excruciating calculations
in order to enjoy simple female sports.

Tonight I unpacked the holiday storage
and asked my husband
if he would help me put the lights on the tree.

"Can't you do anything yourself?" he moaned.

That got me really thinking....

If the boot travels at X mph
from a height of X ft,
what are the odds that this
particular foot
will offer the proper butt kicking
and aerodynamic boost in order
to meet the designated target
with perfect accuracy
the sweetest revenge?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Couch Test

While reading a current ladies magazine
the other day, I ran across one of
those so-called "Love" tests.
There were five places
that most couples share
and that test their bond-
along with their ability
to communicate properly.

The first two places were the Bed and the Car.

We've had three children
and gone to Disney World with all of them.
So, that takes care of the first two.
(Passed that with flying colors!)

Third was the Kitchen.
No problem there, either.
We have no friction or fights here.
I cook. He eats.
I do dishes. He naps.


Now the fourth place got me nostalgic.
It was the Couch test.

I remembered back
when my husband and I
would curl up on the couch together
in the evenings
and listen to
Gordon Lightfoot albums
or mellow out to Jackson Browne
or watch the new Saturday Night Live.

There we were.
Entertwined like a huge
blue-jeaned braid
on the couch.

And you know what?
We were comfortable.
It was roomy.
We had no desire to move
or twist
or find an alternate place
to chill out.

So, without letting him in on the
magazine test,
I convinced him to share the
couch with me one evening.

I don't know what happened,
but I think they are making couches
smaller and smaller now days.

"Can you scoot over any more than that?"
I asked,
trying to wedge a place for myself in front of him
so we could both watch TV.

"Watch your elbows, will ya'? he warned,
trying to flatten himself
into the back of the couch
as I held my breath
and attempted to grab the cushions
to keep from rolling off.

I had to keep two toes on the floor
at all times to balance myself
and my husband gasped for air
during every commercial break.

I flipped the coffee table over twice.
He elbowed my ear a half dozen times
and I accidentally scratched him.
He gouged my ribs reaching for the remote
and I bruised his shoulder
straightening the pillow.
The couch springs made a "boingggg" sound
and we started getting sweaty.

But somehow we pretended
that it was all wonderfully comfortable.
Somehow we pretended
it was thirty years
and a hundred pounds ago.

Our love has passed the Couch test.
That is a sign of true comfort
between us.

But, I am not completely sure
we get an A -plus on the Love test.
We thought the Couch test was hard.

Place number five is the Bath Tub!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Truth In Advertising

I used to love going to the dollar stores.

Of course, that's when everything truly
was a dollar.

Back when I could fill my cart
with magic markers, greeting cards,
picture frames, candles, peanuts,
socks, seasonal decor, batteries,
eye liner and shampoo-
and get change back for a ten.

When I went into the local
store recently,
I was shocked at the new orange
price tags that some items displayed.
$5.00, $3.00, even $8.00!

I felt cheated.
I felt as though the world had turned
upside down.
How could they do this to me?
To Us!?

I had my suspicions
the day I saw construction workers
taking down the old sign.

"Where Everything's A Dollar"
was ripped off and hauled away
to the junk yard to rust in peace.

I guess you could argue
that there are still some deals
to be found at Deals,
but because they back-stabbed me-
because they didn't personally
approach me with their decision-
I have a difficult time
spending my dollars there.

But you have to give them credit
for at least changing the sign.
Now we all know what to expect-
or NOT to expect when we enter.

That's not quite the case with other stores.

When I first heard of Burli
ngton Coat Factory,
I imagined a giant warehouse full of
little ladies at their sewing machines
and tons of fabric being whisked away
on conveyors-
and layers of coats stacked on pallets
for consumers to purchase.

It's not just coats.
(Which I do think their new sign
above the service desk
finally claims)-
It is a virtual smorgasbord of
ethnicity and fashion.
Within those walls lie every imaginable
brand name and size and style
that a person could dream of.

To me, it's like a Motown Big Lots.

But I love it.
Amid the flash and gaudiness,
there is always a purse or shoes
or little gift pack of crackers or chocolate-
there are cool watches
and bargain fragrances
and even a Christopher Lowell section
for would-be decorators.

It really is more than just coats.

And what is one to expect from a store
named Old Time Pottery?
I imagined a bunch of old men
throwing clay on a wheel
and stacking cute little urns on shelves to dry.
Maybe a few coffee mugs tossed in
or a artsy vase.

Old Time Pottery
is an accessory bonanza!
If you went out and bought all your
basic furniture needs and put them in an empty house,
you could go to Old Time Pottery
and buy everything else you would need
to completely finish the look.

Lamps, rugs, floral, art, seasonal items,
kitchen gadgets, pet items, glassware,
bedding, candles and
the whole nine yards!
The name just doesn't do it justice.

I won't even go into the misleading names
of restaurants.
White Castle? Get real.
Cracker Barrel? More that just crackers, baby!
Chili's? Don't think chili is even on the menu.
And the 54th Street Grill is not even on 54th Street.

I failed to visit the St. Louis Bread Company forever
because chawing on a loaf of Italian baked dough
has never been my idea of a great snack.

But once I had their had their
creamy caramel espresso
with the cinnamon crunch bagel-
I was hooked!
(However, I still think
they need to change their name...)

And I really shouldn't have to
spend twenty minutes at Pizza Hut
studying the menu!

Instead, I think I will just whisk into
The Dollar Tree
and grab a few snacks.

I trust these people.
They know me.
They would never change their cheap ways.

I am at home there-
Where everything is still a dollar
and there are no unwelcome surprises.

That's exactly how I like it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Petro Priorities

I know we are all grateful for the
falling price of gasoline lately.
Especially now when we all seem
to be
out and about-
scurrying around to do
holiday shopping
visiting distant family.

It has made quite a difference
in our household, for sure.

...Just looking back at the past few months.....


"Honey, hurry- get in here! I've sliced my finger!" I yell.

Blood oozes from the wound like a faucet.
My face flushes a ghostly white.

"Do you want to go to the ER?" he asks.

"How many miles is that?" I question.

"We could take the old route and save
1.75 miles", he calculates.

"Or bypass the bridge and go the blacktop."

"Ughh... that only saves us .17 miles."
He waves the calculator in disgust.
"Well, we could pick up some groceries,
pay the water bill, visit the kids,
and see a movie while we're there."

"Nah," I decline, wrapping a tourniquet
around my mangled digit.

"Right..." he agrees, "I'll get the super glue."


"The pantry is practically empty," he says,
taking a quick inventory.

"What can we have? I ask.

"Even the convenience store is
at least three miles away.
I hate to use the last 16th gallon
of gas in the car just to get food."

"Me, too. How old is this chili?" he mumbles,
sticking his head further into the fridge.

"Is it moldy yet?

"Kinda green."

"Maybe we better open a can of
hominy or something..."

"Is that deer sausage from 2001
still in the freezer? We could nuke it
and have it with crackers", he suggests.

"No crackers," I whine, still studying the chili.

"Hominy sounds delicious!"

...But today....


"Wow! Banana splits! They look
great", he says, mouth watering.

I pile up the chocolate sauce
and pineapple chunks,
scoop on the cold whipped cream
and whole fresh strawberries.
And I hand the giant bowl over
to him with a huge smile.

"Ugh...where's the cherry?

My smile wilts.
"You mean that little cherry that goes on top?
We're out."

He pouts...
and I grab the car keys.

It's a good twenty miles to the store and back.

But, hey- who's counting?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Calendar of Life

There is a quiet sort of fear that comes
when the calendar becomes thin-
when that last blank page
has nothing behind it-
like a dead end
that stops abruptly
with no further instructions.

There is a quiet knowledge
that Time
messes with our minds.
We think that surely those seasons
did not pass before us...
That no way we have aged
another year...

We can't go back.
That is the saddest part.

I know I cannot bring back the sweet smell
of new daffodils and spring rain-
Of watermelon and cotton candy
and the feel of sunburned shoulders.
Of dew covered grass
and warm full moons
and crickets that sang lullabies
far into the night.

I can't even bring back
those golden leaves-
those sassafras smells...
and bonfires burning
and marshmallows roasting.

I can't bring back the night
my husband and I sat on the porch
and held hands...
saying nothing...
just watching the summer sky
until the stars came out...
both knowing that the day
would not last...
our hearts knowing
that there is no escape from
the calendar
of life.

I should have hugged more,
smiled more and laughed more.
I should have taken walks
and played games
and watched the birds build their nests.

I should have stayed up late,
counted the stars
and memorized my husbands eyes.

I should have eaten that last piece of
chocolate cake,
tasted the calamari,
and savored the wine a bit longer.

I should have been able to
look at the year
and see that my calendar was full.
That I succeeded in filling
every day with joy.

That time
did not get the best of me...

They say that we can always
turn over a new leaf
come January.

Do they not know that turning
over a new leaf
is as difficult as turning
over a cruise ship?
It does not merely float
over quietly
and painlessly.

Turning over a new leaf
is like shutting a heavy door.
It is like admitting that we failed.
Like saying everything behind us
was second rate-
that our slates must be cleaned
and our memories made better.

I watch the final page of the calendar
curl up on the edges-
The numbers grow larger
and less.
And I am afraid.

But, I will not turn over a new leaf.
I will embrace all of those that
have fallen at my feet-
all those that have surrounded
my heart and danced in my hair.
I will bury myself
in the trials and mistakes
and lessons I have learned.
I will age with grace
and breathe deeper.
I will kiss more.
Love more.
And enjoy my blessings.

And every moment
be thankful
that I can tear a page
off the calendar of life
and another
will be waiting.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm Back!

I couldn't stay away.
Writing is like breathing for me,
although I did enjoy the rest.

I got some art work done
and cleaned out a junk drawer.

I am writing on my brand new computer!
My Christmas present early!
Happy, happy, Joy, Joy!

Welcome back!
Let's ponder awhile.

Buckets and Bells

So now that Thanksgiving is over and done,
Christmas is everywhere.

The lights, the trees,
the occasional flakes of snow...
Carols, candy canes, and Santas
greet our senses.

This time last year, it was getting to the point
where I dreaded going out at all.
I just stayed in my house and wondered
where it all got so crazy.

Don't get me wrong-
I love the sights and sounds and
spirit of the season.

It's just that I felt
There, I said it.
But, please, let me explain.

It all started when I skipped into a local
department store last year,
eager and ready to get some
Christmas shopping done.
My list was fairy long, but relatively easy,
and luckily I had saved awhile
in order to splurge on special items.

I walked out with a couple of large bags,
my car keys ready and jingling,
and a satisfied smile on my face.

Then I heard it.
The Salvation Army bell.
"Clang"..Clang".. Clang".. it went.

There behind the big red bucket
was a lady bundled head to toe-
shivering in the wind
and staring directly at me.
She shot me a
"I know you have a purse full of change" look,
and then focused on my bags
with a "You can afford a five easily".

My smile faded to terror.
I pretended to have difficulty
shifting my bags
and shielded my eyes with my free hand
as though I was searching for my car.

The lady wasn't buying it.
She practically followed me
down the sidewalk with her clanging bell
until I spun out of the parking lot and
into the darkness of the evening.

The guilt began to hit me as
I prepared to sleep that night.
I tossed and turned and
the guilt overflowed.

Seriously, I am not a selfish person.
I love seeing needy people get things.

I used to cry every time Bob Barker
gave away a car in the Showcase Showdown.
And Ty Pennington gets my tears rolling
whenever he turns an old shack into
a gorgeous mansion for some good Samaritan.

But I had yet to define how it feels
to stuff money in a bucket for someone
you never really see
or aren't quite sure even exists.

Not only did I have an enormous guilt complex,
but I must admit,
I was a little embarrassed.

I didn't know how to act.
It's just that my Mom never taught me
the proper Salvation Army etiquette.

How much do you give?
Do you flash the big bills or be discreet?

Is it kosher to dig dirty pennies
from the bottom of your purse?
Can you say "I gave at the office"?

Do you put it directly in the bucket
or the mitten-covered hand of the bell ringer?

See- it's all so difficult- so very vague!
No one had ever come forth with the rules.
No one had ever set the bar.

Then, to make matters worse,
there's another bell ringer on
the next block,
at the next store,
the mall entrance, the mall exit,
the grocery, the bank,
the beauty shop, and the gas station.

Do you ignore them all?
Do you give each one a quarter? A dollar?

I guess since I am admitting this all to you,
I might as well come clean.

You know those little address labels
they send to you in the mail
with an enclosed envelope for your donation?
Well, I throw the envelope away
and use the labels.

Guilt... guilt...guilt.

And, okay, okay-I also admit
I always say "No"
to the cashier at KMart when they
ask if I want to donate a dollar
to a good cause.
I mean, who is going to see that cardboard
star with my name on it
along with the other 50,000 stars
plastered on the plate glass windows?

Christmas had made a basket case out of me.
Doctor Phil could have had an entire show
based on my Salvation Army insecurities.

But, I decided I will make the best
of the situation.
I am writing a book.

I am doing tons of research,
studying graphs and charts,
conducting interviews
and securing secret surveillance.

My book will be out next Christmas
and you'll find it wherever you
find a bell and a bucket.
Along with me, you will never
need to feel guilty again.

I've not decided on a title yet.
It's going to be
Donating to the Salvation Army FOR DUMMIES.
Proper Etiquette
for the Charity Challenged.

Never be afraid of the "Clang, Clang, Clang" again...

Monday, December 1, 2008

A New Beginning

Remember when you were a child how fun it was to pretend?
How all day long you could entertain yourself
by escaping to another world
of your own making?

I decided that today I am going to pretend.

I am going to tell myself that it is not
December 1st,
but instead,
it is January 1st.

Time to take off the ol feed bag
and start grazing in the meadow of salads
and start swimming in baked fish
and hanging out at the Rabbit Deli.

It's the day to pretend
that I didn't gain five pounds last month
and that the kitchen counter isn't
still full of gooey pies.

I read a book once called "Hung By The Tongue".
It explained that you can actually speak things
into existence,
Both good and bad things.
That your attitude can steer you in either
a positive or negative direction.

Looking back at my daily blogs,
I have literally blown myself up
into an obese blimp.
(And I can't help but notice
how cynical I have become.)

It's time to talk myself thin again!
It's time to get out of my rut!

I have been considering taking off
some time for reflection-
To gather myself and renew my spirit.

I seem to have hit a type of writer's block
and each day that I sit down to blog
becomes a struggle.
I have written 108 entries
since July 16th.
Maybe it's burn out.

Or perhaps it is the depressing thought of winter-
the stress of the holidays-
the pressure to please my readers.
All I know is,
I need time away.

The fact that I have to take
my computer in for a checkup
has helped me decide that now
would be the perfect time for a short rest.

Please come back and check on me
next week sometime.

Maybe I will snuggle up into my pretend world
and come up with some cool Blog ideas.
Maybe I will pretend that it's not snow falling,
but cherry blossoms.
That it's not the end of the year winding down-
but a new beginning
firing up
with new and positive passion.