Friday, February 28, 2014

Seussical Benevolence

Everyone faces difficult questions - daily!  The one I fear most is "What do you think?"

In my lifetime, I've read Dr. Seuss to my little brother, and then to my children, an estimated bazillion times.  The good doctor has taught me a thing or two (besides thing 1 and thing 2, lest you get confused) about relationships and getting along with others.

I've found that putting my answer in s Seussical form helps lessen the blow from the hammer of truth. Between the familiar pattern of rhythm and meter you can hide a somewhat harsh message (but truthful) and soften the delivery.

I struggle with this otherwise.  I have no poker face and I tend to believe people say what they mean. The clincher is that I am also too lazy to lie; it's a lot of information to keep up with and I've known people who don't do it very well.  That only leads to embarrassment;  it might be potentially more uncomfortable that just telling the truth in the first place.

Repeat this mantra:  no one really wants to know what you think (oops, forgot to make that one Seussical).  They want validation or attention - or just someone to talk to.  But they do not - I repeat - want your real opinion.

Give it a try!

This, for example, might be a nicer Seussical way for my hubby to answer the question:  "Do these pants make me look fat?"

It's not your pants that make you fat
Your pants just hold it where it's at
I do not like to make you sad
I only want to make you glad
It's not the way they make you look
(It might be several things you cook)
I hope that doesn't make you wail
Delivering this truthful tale
I do not like to make you sad
I only want to make you glad
If honesty is what you fear
Please don't discuss your mighty rear

See?  Wasn't that sweet?

The doctor is always right.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bubble Busters #1: "Everything will work out fine in the end..."

I love people, but some days I just hate group efforts.  As I strive to be a team player, and support a leader, I find that I silently question the validity of decisions - and I don't speak up.  Why? Because I don't want to be the one who isn't a team player, of course!   Where some of my cohorts are optimistic or pessimistic, some are just clueless about their lack of experience or inability to coordinate a group.

They don't realize how much you learn just by putting in the years - something that all flipsters know. It's one of the few flipster benefits that keeps on giving, till Alzheimers arrives.

Recently, when confronted with a situation that appeared to have all the markings of your classic huge mistake in judgement, a friend took it upon herself to remind us all that in spite of her very bad idea, rife with miscalculations and shoddy logic, every should proceed full speed ahead.   Yay, team!

Why?  "Because everything will work out fine in the end," we were reminded by my clueless optimistic chick-jester - only she wasn't jesting.  And her big plans crashed at her feet and she was devastated., not shocking at all!  Life decisions are about stacking things in your FAVOR, not taking a lackadaisical attitude toward outcomes.  You don't always get three swings at the ball, player.

You don't have to be a history buff to test this hypothesis.  The fact that occasionally things do work out, against all odds, merely fuels this delusion. In the words of my father, Fred:  "Even a broken clock is correct twice a day."  But that doesn't make everyone run out and buy a broken clock.

Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you that everything might NOT be fine in the end.  Eternal optimists everywhere, I don't want to squash your view of the world.  Persistent pessimists, you may be correct every now and then.   "Everything will be fine in the end" is a comforting comment that does not always hold up, either in practice or historically.

And so, I dub this the Bubble Buster #1, because we just want it to be true, don't we?  I'll close with these historical reminders of the ever present hammer of truth.  I have to wonder if these individuals had the same thought:

"I know there's tension between us, but I think everything will be fine after today's meeting.  They're reasonable men and I'm a god on earth.  Besides, Brutus will be there."   [Julius Caesar, on the way to the Senate before his March 15, 44 BC assassination]

"Rectina needs a ride home...I'm taking a ship to go save her.  I hear that volcano is an awesome spectacle!"  [Pliny the Elder, who died on the shore near Herculaneum during the 69 AD eruption of Vesuvius]

"Attack the English Navy, we rule the sea." [Departing Spanish Armada, 1588, just prior to their defeat by the English Navy]

"Burr is an awful shot.  This is a cakewalk."  [Alexander Hamilton, 1804...snarking pre-duel.  Burr disagreed.]

"Next stop:  RUSSIA!"  [Napoleon Bonaparte, 1812, shortly before he lost nearly all his troops to the Russian army...and the Russian winter.]

"Come on...there just Indians.  We're the US Calvary."   [General Custer, June, 1876, on the way to Little Big Horn]

"Let's take the shortcut through the mountains."   [Donner Party, 1846, reduced to cannibalism when they became snowbound in the Sierra Nevadas]

"I'm not really in the mood for a play."  [Abe Lincoln, departing for the Ford's Theater]

"Hey, let's be on the maiden voyage of that ship!  All the movers and shakers will be there !"   [Everyone on the Titanic, April 1912]

"Hey, let's travel by blimp!"  [Everyone on the Hindenburg, May 6, 1937]

"Napoleon had the right idea!  Next stop: SOVIET UNION!"  [Adolf Hitler, promoting Operation Barbarossa, prior to invading the Soviet Union and suffering such a devastating loss that many say this was the reason Germany lost in WWII.  Bad ideas are not necessarily bad for everyone.]

"Hawaii is passe...let's vacation in Indonesia. "  [Tourists, 2004, staying in Sumatra at the time of the biggest tsunami of recorded history.]

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Aloha, Venezuela!

Visit beautiful Venezuela - NOW.
This week I read that Venezuelan beauty queen, Monica Spear, was gunned down in Caracas; I was deeply saddened, but not surprised. 

Years ago, I vacationed in Caracas, Venezuela.  Beautiful, exciting, exotic South American paradise: Venezuela.  Phrasing it like that is required, because travelers always see the far off destinations that way, and think to themselves that such journeys make them (i.e., the traveler) beautiful, exciting and exotic.  At this point, I should mention that I am an exception, but I have a "no lies" rule about blogging.  

Sadly, my pitiful brain also thinks this way.  How could I not?  

The setting:  You're cruising along on a big ship with people wanting to serve you on every level and it seems no one ever says no.  Eat what you want, when you want, if you want.  No diets on board, unless you are kosher or diabetic - and even that screams "special treatment", because someone actually gives a flip whether you are kosher or diabetic.  Beyond the ship you see stunning azure coast lines.  Towels magically form animals, debatable animal forms, but critters nonetheless.  All the underwear you took with you is new - because you're one of the beautiful people on this trip.  Beautiful people never have saggy elastic or mysterious cotton liner holes in their underwear.  Your dirty "around the house" tennis shoes were cast aside disdainfully - not worthy, not worthy!  Dolphins, having heard of how special you are, play in the wake of your behemoth boat just to catch a glimpse of you and the cloud of splendor that surrounds you.

After securing a bus ticket, my traveling buddy and I decided to jump ship and take a bus ride to Caracas.  Boarding the bus, we wondered if it would make it.  Looking back at our wonderful sea home floating off the coastline, I had already started to say to myself, "Dear God...don't leave us here."

It started to rain.  It was so hot that I think it was evaporating mid-air.

Our bus driver talked on the microphone and I really wanted him to pay attention to driving.   It seemed like we were hugging that shoulder of the road like a hover craft as my buddy and I discussed all the pictures we'd seen in the news of buses tumbling down steep ravines.

That fantasy was interrupted by the driver pointing out an international airport.  Looking to my left, I saw a flat, grated patch of dirt that resembled the first step of building a highway or something similar. What it didn't look like was an airport.  Then I saw a huge plane parked there on the dirt sidewalk...I reflected on the many high priced airline tickets I had purchased and envisioned a first class passenger stepping off one of those planes and into ankle deep mud.  Bueno.

A side trip to the home of Simon Bolivar provided historical insight into the continent and the early years of Venezuela.  I remember being worried that there might be enough water flowing off the back of my pal to cause the museum curators concern that he might cause water damage to the artifacts.  I leaned over to the portrait of Bolivar and respectfully reminded him that there was another continent just north of his fine home that might have been worth investigating, too.   

Once in Caracas, we tooled around town, and finally went to a high priced hotel for a lunch buffet and to see native dancers perform.   Walking through the foyer, we were approached by a group of about twenty men who all looked like they went to the Che Guevara Military Academy of Nonsense and Aggression, and I started to form a snarky, whispered quip on my lips (shocking) when they grabbed all of us and pushed us against the wall.  They did not speak "frightened American", which appeared to the be the language of choice, even amongst the bilingual in our group.

Was this a military coup?  I checked my itinerary.  No coup listed.  I was baffled because usually the cruise ship information was spot on.  

No, it turns out the President was walking through the foyer.  Just walking.  I guess I should have been honored or excited, but all I was thinking was 1) Dang, I have no will, and 2) Che's hand and trigger are going to make a permanent indentation on my left breast.  How will I explain that?

The rest of my time in Venezuela was a bit of a blur, as all we talked about was death, whether the driver would allow a dead body on the bus, and the process of shipping bodies back to the US versus burial at sea.  

Aloha, Venezuela.  

Call me a wimp;  what chance to I have tempting fate a second time - I'm not even a beauty queen. I've clawed that country off my bucket list for good.  God bless the folks who live there.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

RIP Harold Ramis

Noooooooooooo!  Yesterday, the terrible news was laid at our feet:  Harold Ramis had died.  I'd probably sell him short in any attempt to name all the movies he has written, co-written or directed...and that doesn't begin to cover favorites where he was one of the actors.  I'll just talk about one of my family's favorites.

Can anyone forget Harold Ramis in Ghostbusters?  When I first saw that movie, my older children, Juggernaut and Magoo (not their names...we've covered this before...), became absolutely obsessed. Between birthdays, allowance money and Santa Claus, we had the whole range of the Ghostbusters toy line fully covered.

For Juggernaut, that obsession soon passed as his loyalty turned to He-Man, skateboards and G. I. Joe toys - but not Magoo.  He continued to play with those toys, day in and day out.  Several of his favorites, like the backpack, were replaced more than once.  Ecto blasters and ghost traps were required for outside and inside play.  You rarely saw him without some Ghostbuster action figure, goggles or proton pack. The fact that Magoo had a few issues with speech and certain pronunciations just made watching him more ridiculously cute.

More than one dinner was spent debating whether or not Rick Moranis (Lewis) was really a Ghostbuster (I'd argue for the original quartet only:  Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Ackroyd and Ernie Hudson).

Looking back, with the 20/20 hindsight that we all develop on the flipside, I love that Magoo was totally immersed in the love of a story and its characters.  Granted, it's not a classic novel.  Life will only hand you so many moments where you and your child are totally on the same page.  The opportunities to just observe pure moments of imagination gone wild and enjoyment are even less.  I haven't tripped over Ecto-1 in many, many years.

I miss it.  God bless you, Harold.

[Newsflash for #2 Son: (birth order, not order of favorites):  They just announced a new Ghostbusters Legos set last week: 29th Birthday or Santa?]

Monday, February 24, 2014

Kohlrabi Lobby wins

A few weeks ago, Time Magazine announced that The Kohlrabi was the new fad vegetable (and I'm capitalizing it because I just don't know how one should address the vegetable of the year and I've just watched Downton Abbey).

Since when do we have a vegetable fad of the year worth mentioning?  Did kohlrabi lovers push for this choice or is it just a given?   Those sick, sick puppies.  Is there a kohlrabi lobby?  Was there a vegetable beauty pageant with a panel appropriately balanced between farmer judges and model agency reps?  If so, how did this not interrupt the Olympics?

I've given other trends a try, selectively.  I'm still not every going to say YOLO and pump my fist in the air, but I have put birds on things, watched a reality television show (but not twice), read a book that had a vampire in it, watched a show with a zombie in it, read The Hunger Games and used the most nonsensical phrase on the planet, and my favorite - the ever popular "cool beans."   Oops...strike that last one.   Totes McGoats slipped my mind for a minute.

This is one trend I can't participate in because I don't understand it.  What is the world am I supposed to do to add more Kohlrabi to my world?  Will the neighbors mock me and say ugly things like, "Sure, she's nice enough...but I notice a real lack of kohlrabi."  Must I wear clothing with kohlrabi, or perhaps woven fabric from kohlrabi fiber?  Is kohlrabi decorative?   Will kids be denied a place at the cool kids' table in the lunchroom if they don't have kohlrabi in their lunchbox?

I'm not prejudiced; I've actually planted kohlrabi in my garden and it grew really well.  But that was pretty much a bummer, too; we only did it because they looked weird and we had a couple of tilled rows we hadn't planted.  The useless mad scientist portion of the garden that held kohlrabi, peanuts, purple potatoes and weird white carrots that actually flourished.  I believe they flourished to to spite me and to pull my attention away while a mystery critter systematically did a number on the tomatoes.  Tomatoes are in the useful part of the garden, because I really DID want to grow, and I would actually pick and eat them.  I blame kohlrabi, as the other weird plants were underground.

I appeal to the person who made this decision to reconsider.  I've always thought of kohlrabi as just a freaky goth turnip.  It looks a little crazier, but it is sitting in the same pew, metaphorically speaking.

Perhaps we can look at cousin turnip's history for a window into the future of  kohlrabi.  You may have noticed that cousin turnip has never been in high demand at restaurants, for example? I've never seen a sign out front of a fine dining establishment or fast food that boasted "we have turnips!" You know why?  Because it's a turnip; a root that someone decided to gnaw on one day.  Aren't we brave enough to say that person was wrong?  I think we may be going to our gardens and pulling things out of their dirt bed that should have been left there.  Isn't that a more respectful approach to Mother Nature?

I predict people will not embrace this idea.  It's hardly the cute kitty of the veg world.  If I handed you a kohlrabi right now, would you know what to cut off and discard - and what to eat? What will you make with it?  Kohlrabi sorbet?  Kohlrabi Lorraine?   Baked beans and kohlrabi.  Do you keep in on the counter or in the refrigerator?  Is it okay to give them as a gift - to someone you like?  And what is up with all the wacky stems?  (I do like to trim the stems and flip the kohlrabi over and pretend it's a spider.  Shhhhhh.)

Lastly, I want to point out the kohlrabi sounds a lot like "coal robbery" which will only alarm thousands of West Virginians who work in the coal mining industry.  Why upset them  needlessly?

Note that I avoided selfishly whining about the fact that an ugly vegetable has been lauded by Time Magazine before I ever was.  That puts things in perspective for me.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Blog U.: Auto-Embarrassing

Hey, peeps and flipsters!

You might not have realized it, but I take a blogging mini-vacation on the weekend.  I'd like to turn Saturday into a day to hear from YOU on specific subjects that may show up in a future blog.

This week's topic for Blog U.:

What is the most embarrassing "auto-fill" you've ever accidently posted?

You don't have to be a flipster to participate, and if you received a post from a friend that was embarrassing, invite them to post it!  Post your tee-hee text faux pas below and thanks in advance for your participation!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Woo You Loo

Porta-potties are necessities.  I get it.  Not only do I get it, if I am the one in need, I appreciate them. Every county fair, church bazaar, construction site, outdoor event or open air concert will have them - I've even seen them at outdoor weddings.  They're everywhere.  I've noticed that quality varies; some are a study in minimalism while others are actually pretty clean, considering the fact that this is the human equivalent of the doggie-doo bag.

One thing we can all agree on is this:  you want to get in and get out.  It's not a linger locale. 

That is why I thought it was kinda weird when I read the article in the the Knoxville News Sentinel about Stall Talk, a rental potty business that has gone digital.  The idea behind this business is to "go where the people go" by bringing "video-monitoring technology to add a digital screen that would create video billboard above a three- or six-block of toilets."

It sounds like "Stalk Talk" to me. This is the last vestige of privacy, and now the marketers have found me.  If it is outside, it's just a matter of time before it's inside the rental restroom, too.  Is there no place in the world where I can go (literally) and not be a potential customer? Marketing is everywhere ('s on my blog).

My understanding of the goal of marketing is that you buy their product, goal accomplished.  And yet when I go to the grocery store and buy a whole cart load of their products, there is still more marketing on the back of my receipt.  Lots more. Have you noticed that lately?  Hey, I bought your product! I'm your customer, really, I am!   I cry "Uncle" - you win!  The cashier practically hands me a CIA dossier when she's through ringing me up.  And don't tell me that it is helpful, because there may be coupons.  Coupons are just more requests to buy their product, only now they are giving you a twenty-five cent bribe.  Now, I'm insulted.  My bribes would have to be so much higher.

Will this potty marketing be gender specific, because I don't mind looking at the new Gucci bags, Coach bags or designer shoes. I'm pretty fond of L'Oreal products, too. Hey, this does seem like a good place for perfume product placement.  Could that be on the women's whizz marketing sector? I'm trying to work with them a little bit before it's totally out of my hands, but I have potty paranoia. Will they promise compromise at first, if they negotiate at all, but then make us watch the anti-depressant and prostate commercials?

Will we have to read the toilet tissue in the Persuade-a-John?  The lighting is bad in the rental potty, but maybe I shouldn't say that for fear they'll add an eye test or advertising for glasses and contacts.

This is not the end of it, people!  I predict that once we find ourselves accepting the woo-you loo in polite society, the potty people will have made new alliances.  You'll find yourself in the new and improved rental potty, unable to get out till you watch a full program about Wen hair products or Nutra Bullet.   After you do that, you still can't get out because a guy with a survey on local politics has his shoulder braced firmly on the other side.  You will take the survey, if you want your freedom.

God forbid that our digital medical records get thrown in the mix.  What if you couldn't leave unless you followed the American Cancer Society's recommendations for colonoscopy?  What if they figure out a way to make it happen before they'll open the door?

Proud individual that you say that marketing will never get you to do something or buy something on any terms but your own.   Keep saying that till you're at the movie, thirsty, can't bring in outside food...and you buy the $6.00 drink.

I accept your apology.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Southern-fried mystery

This week in Atlanta, a man entered a Kroger store and caused a disruption.   He doused himself with rubbing alcohol as he ran through the store, and the police were unable to subdue him with a Taser because of the flammable liquid.  In the end, the guy set himself on fire - nobody knows why, thus far.

I'm no police officer, but as a supportive member of the community, I'd like to offer my help in solving this mystery by suggesting some possible reasons for the man's actions that they might not have considered.

When this gentleman started flipping out, was he behind a group of ladies with giant notebooks full of coupons?  They travel in herds now, and it can be dangerous.   Once minute,  you're cruising along with your shopping cart, just picking up a few things.  Up ahead, you see that sale item you're after...but the herd forms in front of you.   You're trapped.  Instantaneously, they all start talking at once and throw around theories about coupon doubling, senior deals, and BOGO.   Suddenly, they realize they haven't established a dominant couponer in the herd, and they begin to nitpick.  

If he found himself in this situation, that may have been when the gentleman made the decision to get the rubbing alcohol.

Was he distracted by the behavior of over-tired kids in carts?   I sympathize with him, if that is the case.  I'll leave the store without the stuff I wanted to get because of a tantrum parade or scream-o-rama, and I love kids.  I understand the children's discomfort, because hard wire grocery carts are fine for soda, cat litter and cereal, but not the place for a kid to hang out for prolonged periods of time.   It's jail on wheels.  Adults get immune to their plight.  I start to look at them like I do groceries and produce:  that little girl is nice, that infant isn't ripe yet, can I get a refund on that screaming toddler.  Avoiding your standard kid-having-a-bad-day is tough, but why do they all end up in the grocery store??? 

Men aren't cut out for this level of stress on the move.

Did the guy have a cell phone with text messages from his wife?   I've been that wife, unfortunately.  I muse about how easily this could happen:  I think I need butter, and my husband goes to the store for me.  You know what is great to make with butter?  Hollandaise sauce.  If only I had lemon juice.  I text him.  Going to the frig, I pull out the asparagus. This is going to be so much better with Hollandaise.  Now, it looks like I might not have gotten enough...I'll bet it is still on sale.   I text him, adding tips for picking out good asparagus.  Yum.  You know what?  If I'm going to make the Hollandaise, and basically I'm the one who really likes it, there's going to be leftover sauce.  If I had Canadian bacon and English muffins, I could make Eggs Benedict in the morning.   I text him.  My son walks in and asks for a 9-volt battery. I text him, thanking him profusely.   And all that thankfulness reminds me that I need to send someone a thank you card, and darn if the box isn't empty.  I text him.  A fireman responds to the text.

Anyway, officers, you have a hard job and a lot of cases to solve - I'm just trying to help and I've got enough grocery store experience to qualify myself as an expert.  If you want to stop by my house for more suggestions, just call and I'll be happy to discuss possibilities.   If there's any chance you'll be driving by the supermarket, text me, I may need coffee.  And creamer.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Truth or Derriere

Bad idea.
My healthcare days are far behind me, but I often think of some of the craziness I witnessed firsthand.  I'm not talking about illness or the difficult situations people find themselves in, through no fault of their own.  No, this is a direct question to the many folks who come into the emergency room in need of the assistance of a trained remove something from their derriere.

What's up?

Many mall shops have sprung up claiming to offer a variety of reasonably priced storage solutions, so it can't be an unavailability of places to put flashlights or tools.  I dare say the items did not land there as the result of a promising young pitcher, or accidental misplacement.  Was this a dare - and did he lose?

In the end (quite literally), it's a medical mystery that will always land you in ER.

Once, I assisted a young doctor as he tried remove a light bulb from a gentleman's posterior.   Yeah...say that to yourself one more time: light bulb.  Made of glass, I'll remind you;  thin glass.

The fellow was sedated, and I sort of wished I was a least slightly sedated as I tried to prevent myself from committing career suicide by making a wise crack (fiddlesticks...there I go again!).  If I were the patient, the last thing in the world that I would want is to be the butt of a joke (sorry...I can't help it).   Maybe someone just had their head near said derriere when they had a really great idea (spoiler wasn't where to store the lightbulb). 

As the doctor struggled to get a good view, I bit my tongue because all I could think was "'s a light bulb - can't we just plug it in?"

Luckily, it was removed and he was soon on the path to recovery.  

This is a ER visit that everyone can avoid, a serious matter - and so I'll leave you with this closing thought:  A bad O-ring brought down a space shuttle.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mama wants her fancy, please

Before I leave this Earth (subliminal message: mothership returns), I wish that I could be "fancy."

Even though I am not rich, and don't live in a fancy-shmancy house, I have moments of female fantasy and delusions of decadence where I raise my head high and declare, "Mama is gonna raise the bar! It's time to fancy up this place!"

First, I must disclose that I live in a house with guys.  Married a guy; had three sons.  Do you realize that all the estrogen has been leached from my body by this collective cohabitation?  Around age forty, I began to realize that I was functionally neuter to them at that point.   Over the course of my life, I had fully made the transition from tom-boy to tom-mom - but I was girlie in between, I swear I was!

I know there are women who have pretty items in their homes just because they liked them, or they thought they went well with their decor.  My guys kill girl dreams of decorating.  They look at those items and say testosterone-laden things like "Why do you need that?" or make statements which cast my pretty things in a bad light, like "What does that do for you?'

One of the places where I thought I had secretly made some feminine headway was the bathroom.

It started simply enough: After a visit to our local craft shop, I came home with handmade soap balls.  You know the kind - high priced and full of essential oils and herbs.  Heaven.  Placing them in a soap dish (that I made in pottery class...even more fancy), I confess that I began to feel fancy-empowered.  They were pretty and the smell was just amazing.  It was a mixture of rosemary and mint and I lingered over each hand washing, inhaling the airborne fanciness of my purchases.

When you love something, it's sort of a kick to have everyone love it, too.  It's gratifying.  So I pointed to the soap balls and queried the men:  "How do you like those?"

"What are they?" was the response.

"Soap balls, " I replied.   They looked at each other and rolled their eyes.  Gratification killed on the spot, Mom.

Over the next week, my small dish of "fancy" in my home began to change shape quite literally after repeated use.  Now the guys referred to them as "soap biscuits" and snickered.   Someone was making an effort to smash my rosemary mint wonders from biscuit to pancake.

Then came the day when I was the one looking at my soap dish and asking, "What's this?"

All too soon, they were gone.  The soap balls were a gloppy puddle;  apparently a hole or two in the soap dish would have done a world of good...if someone would tell novice potters that key piece of info.

"It's like the soap got sick and barfed," said the shoulder-surfing Neanderthals, chuckling to themselves.

Ha. Ha. Ha.   

Somebody is going to find fancy pink, floral sheets on their man cave bed, 'cause nothing says "teenage boy sleepover" like pink, floral sheets.  I'll take my fancy where I can get it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Make Up Lies

Suspecting that my makeup was past its prime, I went in search of new everything. Most of my stuff should be carbon dated to determine its true age, but who wants to rely on science?  Time to pitch it.

This is where it gets tough for me: the makeup aisle. Basically, I have a good idea of what I will actually use and you'd might think that experience plus rational thought would be enough to fuel this task. Yet, I can be swayed by the claims of the giants of aethetics into believing some of their products have merit and might actually work better than what I've used in the past.

Conveniently, I'm not a makeup junkie, so I know I'm not going home with the whole kit and caboodle.  My face is too round for caboodle. The few items I rely on at this point of my life are far less than I would have used at age twenty. A fleeting thought occurs: Shouldn't I be using MORE now, instead of less - and does spackle have a makeup line?

Overwhelming quantities of product make my head spin.  Add to that, the whizzing of my internal neural calculator.  Why does this name brand compressed powder - that I purchased for under $10 dollars (and was perfectly pleased with the result) a few years back now cost $19.99?  Add blush - another $17.99?  I double checked to make sure I was in a drug store...yep, sure am.

Listen, if I am going to pay that much, I might as well go to a department store and get the goods from the big dogs of makeup. Off I go to the land of the snobbier makeup. Pretty gleaming glass counters and helpful customer service reps stretch out before me.  Well, I guess the reps weren't stretched out much, come to think of it.  Those reps only have my best interest at heart;  they do this makeup job because they care. They're givers. Turns out, I was soon a giver, too, but I won't say the amount because someday - if I click my red sequined shoes together - my husband might read this.

Deciding to go with a starter kit from a new-to-me makeup company was the easiest on my wallet and I got a few things I really needed and a few that I wouldn't usually buy. The kit included the obligatory compressed powder foundation, blush, eyeliner (uh, you have to take glasses off to use it...maybe not), a great neutral lipstick and contour/highlighting powder.

Contour powder?  Is this the next big thing for me?  As I said before, I have a totally round head. Think "The Great Pumpkin," only with bifocals.  My makeup-loving-mentor-gal-pal gave me this simple advice:  Shade the side of your face and the hollows of your cheeks; it will make your face look slimmer.  Gal-pal's new nickname is Cray-cray.

The "simple" instructions are always the ones that get me in trouble.  Mentally, I had the technique of Raphael as I shaded and contoured, but I soon realized that a mixture of toilet bowl cleaner (multi-tasker...), glass cleaner and air freshener must been causing major hallucinations.

Pausing to check my progress, I froze.  I looked ridiculous, and clearly I was going for stunning. Denied.

Any snarky friend o' mine, worth their salt, is going to ask why I am only washing the center of my face nowadays. This is the dumbest thing I ever put on my face, and that's saying a lot.

To make sure I'm not tempted into delusions of beauty again, I'm ditching the powder and giving up bathroom cleaning - just to be sure.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy V D

Oh, come's a short acronym.

My husband believes, with all his being, that Valentine's Day is a coordinated plot perpetrated by business men who sell candy, cards, flowers and just about anything that hints at romance (on any level).  Ditto for Sweetest Day.  Don't get him started on Christmas, Halloween or Easter;  really, I'm doing you a favor with this preemptive warning.  You're welcome.

Anything I do that involves heart-shaped on February 14th irritates him, and he is quick to ask me if I "actually spent money on that."

He makes up for it on many levels, so today I'd like to celebrate some of the non-traditional things he does with excellence:

At least once a week, he coordinates the landscape of my dishwasher.  Although I estimate I've done dishes about 16,425 times (and that is only once a day for 45 years...I suspect it's more), he still believes that there is a correct way to load the dishwasher, and I am not aware of it on any level.  The logical observation might be that I actually have done it, emptied it and actually seen what works or doesn't work.  He promptly poo-poos all such assertions.

Because of my dear hubby, I've never had to bury a critter.   This is important to me, as I name everything that lives here for more than a few minutes and I've even been known to do postmortem naming of animals that died anywhere on the three acres that we call our yard. Poor little squirrel...wonder what happened to him...let's call him Rocky.  Get the shovel.

He finally admits - and believe me, it's a painful admission - that the dog is crazy about him.  If a dog could give you the goo-goo eyes (middle school reference, my peeps), our dog, Coco, does it.  The change in my husband was gradual, but I started to realize that he is reciprocating the affection in his own way.   He won't go to the store unless you really, really need an item.  He will, however, give Coco a ride around the neighborhood in his truck because he claims she told him she wanted to hold her head out of the driver's side window while he drives.  He actually talks about her feelings, and when she was lost for a month, one concern he had was that she was wondering why we didn't come and get her, wherever she was. Awww...that's cute.

He takes all my craziness pretty much in stride.  Recently, I performed stand up at a local comedy night and my husband and my son, Gonzo (again...not his real name), came and watched.  I was worried that my son would be embarassed;  teens get that way for weird reasons.

When I came off the stage, my eyes went immediately to those two for feedback.  My son ran up to me excitedly and proclaimed, "Mom!  That was good!  I think you're a hit!"

I turned to my husband for his opinion, and he added: "We're out of toilet paper."

That is a perfectly logical response for him.  You see, I do crazy everyday - but we're not always out of toilet paper...and Krogers was on the way home.

He was totally on board with our specifically tailored wedding vows.  At the place where you say "till death do you part" we both agreed that we would abide by the spirit of that vow.

So, when we have a strong disagreement, which occurs rarely, I look him in the eye and remind him:  "Sure, you feel that way...but is is worth dying over?"

For this most loyal, devoted friend and mate, I will settle for cooking his favorite son and I snicker and wonder if he will notice the meatballs are heart-shaped.

Happy V D to all.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

That sweet little a liar

Coco has "issues."  While I realize that most pet issues involve housebreaking, chewing, biting or barking, we are blessed in the fact that we have never had to worry about any of those. She's also the smartest dog I've ever owned, or owned me. Coco's specific issue is more like doggie OCD.  She is obsessed with playing ball.

Last month, Coco was doggie-napped from our yard and I literally cried one evening as I looked at her collection of balls laying on the floor.  She is a full fledged member of the family and we were the recipients of an actual miracle when the neighborhood 'napper brought her back.

But I digress...

Untold hours have been spent chasing balls that have rolled under furniture and out of reach of my dog. We have a corner cabinet in the kitchen with a space below it that is about 5 or 6 inches tall, and about 18" deep. Every time the ball is thrown anywhere in that general direction, Murphy's Law causes it to roll under that corner cabinet.  Immediately, Coco starts her pitiful cry for a hero to come to her aid and get the ball. She has done that hundreds of times, for years.

Conned into throwing the ball yet again, I flung it and it bounced toward the kitchen...Coco was elated and raced after it. Anticipating it would go under the cabinet once again, I got up from my desk and started to walk toward the kitchen where I witnessed the most skillful poodle moves I've ever seen.  Coco spun around the corner and slid across the hardwood floor.  As her curly carcass was gliding toward the corner, she lowered her head close to the floor and flattened her whole body and gracefully went under the cupboard and snatched the ball.  Pulling herself up and turning around, our eyes locked on each other.  It was a like a neon sign that said LIAR was flashing above her head - and she knew she was caught.

That dirty dog was lying to me all along.  She didn't need any help getting that ball; probably ever. She had been human training and the game was "fetch."   Did I get a cookie for that - no!

Now I'm questioning all aspects of her behavior.  Does she really need me to open the door to go out? Is she the one who leaves dishes in the sink?  Did she eat all the cheddar cheese and smoked ham? And what about those lights that are left on by some mysterious unknown entity?

I've got every right to be peeved, as I've logged miles running after that ball that I threw.   Tomorrow morning, I'm attaching the ball to a rope, and the rope to the bumper of my hubby's truck before he goes to work.  It's only a twenty-five mile drive (highway, ha ha).

Fetch, Coco.   See you at five o'clock.

[Update:  Dear PETA - We did not actually make our dog chase a ball tied to my husband's truck as it barreled down the freeway.  My husband didn't go to work today due to the weather.  In lieu of that, we made 100 snow balls and played fetch.  Score one for humans.]

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Walking Safe

This will be in your Easter Basket...because I care
In the big scheme of things, a person can feel so insignificant. So it was a welcome surprise to see that our government (at least I think it was ours) cares enough to research potential risks to the general public.  No risk could be more significant that the impending Zombie Apocalypse.

Before I get to the juicy details, I have to tell you that there is a very high creep factor to this, and I know because I've watched The Walking Dead.   This true-to-life documentary follows the trials and tribulations of a band of post-apocalypse survivors.

I've learned important life skills from this program that will help me when faced with zombies, and I'd like to share a few:

  • All your friends may be jerks, or at the very least, untrustworthy.  Antoine Dodson may have been warning us, surreptitiously, when he said: "Hide your kids, hide your wife."  Every time I look at my friends, especially Lorrie, I think "sure she's nice, and we've known each other a long time...we've been through thick and thin...but she will probably eat me."
  • If you experience any feeling of happiness or well being, there's a good chance you are about to be eaten.  It's the zombie apocalypse version of going toward the light bliss.   Examples of these early warning happy-events include:  feeling safe, falling in love, finding a safe camp, having a baby, making a "connection" with another human, or a surprising reappearance of someone you know from the past.   Actually, that last one is a double whammy, because you have just reconnected in time to see a zombie eat that person.  What are the odds?  I'm working on a zombie poker face.
  • We will lose the ability to find weapons.  A stick will look like a good idea.  Nothing says safety like kindling.
  • Time after time, we will choose hand-to-hand combat over getting as far away as possible and lobbing something deadly at said zombies.  It would serve mankind well if we could try to get out of this habit before the apocalyse.  I plan to build a catapult in advance and I'm pricing the huge concrete barriers currently used to frame sections of freeways.  If I could get a good deal on about 100 of those, I think I'd have a zombie home base.
  • The doors on our homes that kept out burglars and kept our important stuff safe will be totally lame.  The zombie burglar will just plow through them.   Perhaps "dead bolt" is false advertising, or at least misleading.
The stress of the anticipated apocalypse prevents me from thinking clearly on the subject, but fear not!  There's good news:  All the information and tips you might need on the run have been put on conveniently sized playing cards.   Zombie traits, survival tips, weapons, lions and tigers and bears, oh my - all in your pocket.

Thus far, I've not seen any casualties of zombie attack surrounded by playing cards.  It gives me a warm feeling inside.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lie # 102: I have read these terms and agreements

Confession time:  Go ahead and call the lawyers, because I haven't read these terms and agreements or those terms and agreements;  specifically, ANY terms and agreements that are attached to anything that just shouldn't have that many terms and agreements.

Let's imagine that I am using an app on my Smartphone (cough, cough) which will allow me to enter the exciting world of knocking down colored blocks or solving a Sudoku puzzle, how many terms and agreements do I need to sign?  I promise I won't hack into the block ap because I don't know how.  I'm not going to tell everyone that I am the real Mr. Sudoku and sell copies to everyone in North America or reveal the answers to the puzzles, if I can ever solve them.

While loading some graphic art programs the other day, you'd have thought I was buying a house.  Window after window popped up requiring my agreement to some inane stipulation. Numbed by the legal blather, I just want to yell "I agree! I agree!"  

Furthermore, go ahead and call the pharmacist, too.  Let's air it all out.  I'm not reading the package inserts for prescriptions and I am signing for them without asking questions.  In my defense, I used to be a nurse and I have a decent doctor.  He prescribes medication for my symptoms and I trust he does not wish to do me harm.  If I'm being prescribed a dangerous drug, I'd like the doctor to explain to me why he or she thinks the benefit outweighs the risk.  I'll be adult about it and respond honestly.  Those questions will be addressed before I go to get the drug.  Once I pick it up from the pharmacy and ingest it, I know there is inherent risk in everything.  If I feel like it might not be doing what it should, then back to the doctor I'll go.  I don't need the specifics about Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, possible headaches, dehydration, hair loss, constipation, diarrhea, salsa dancing and periods of depression.  History has shown me that I will be depressed half way through any attempted reading of the terms and agreements, so the cat is out of the bag on that one.

I'm bombarded with information that is not relevant on my terms:  STOP.   Simplify it for the average person who has other things to do.  I'll start the ball rolling on this one.

Suggested simplified forms:

You bought one copy.  Don't make more.  Don't misuse it.   We sue, if necessary.  Problem?  Call customer service.

Take as directed.  Feel funny?  Call the doctor (the pharmacist is going to tell you to call him, too...skip the pharmacist call).

Rat Poison:
Don't be stupid, this will kill rats...and you.  If you are a rat, see our terms and agreements.

Monday, February 10, 2014

WASTE (What A Stupid Time Exterminator)

This started out easy enough.  As a tip of the hat to the fact that I survived another birthday, I thought I'd share a list of brand, spanking new acronyms for those of you who find yourself on the flip side o' 50, like myself.  With great attention to detail, I did a last minute check to make sure I was using the correct term, which I was sure would be acronym.

Why is there any question,  you might ask?  The truth of the matter is that techies and anti-flipsters (under 50) are frequently adding new and interesting jargon that I don't understand.  Why do I not understand it?  Because someone, other than yours truly, invented it and I'm just now catching up to the the "tech hip."  I'm not in the loop, as fate would have it.

Hold on just a minute, did you smirk at my blog? Knock it off!  Can you define botnet, Ivy bridge, anti-poopsocking, crowd funding, getsure or exFAT (not related to weight loss)?

[Note:  If you can tell me the definition without further investigation, why are you reading my blog? You might actually be smart.  Go Google something and save mankind.]

All I want to know is whether or not the initials used in chat for such things as "be right back" (BRB) or "talk to you later" (TTYL) are called acronyms.   Not such as easy question, as further research revealed the term "initialism" or "alphabetism" might apply, or possibly "text shorthand."  There is also some discord as to what to call abbreviations that some speakers pronounce as letters and others pronounce as a word, like IRA.  Or, consider the acronyms that are almost universally pronounced like words (RADAR).  Or, heck, just skip all that and find yourself sucked into the controversy that surrounds those that say "triple A" instead of AAA.

For crying out loud, who would have thought there was so much information to learn from a bunch of jokers who won't type out "see ya later."

Maybe the world isn't ready for my new flipster acronyms after all.  It's your loss. But just for the record, I want to let my children know that WMT means "where's my tupperware?" and IBAYHST is my personal text shorthand for "its been at your house since Thanksgiving."

Friday, February 7, 2014

Slow day in the newsroom?: Things on toast

Isn't space in the newspaper prime marketing real estate?  Why do I ask?  

The internet is poised to squash print media, but I continue to love the newspaper that comes to my door every morning.  I don't care what I have planned, or where I'm going, I'm reading the newspaper first.  Leaving before my punctual and awesome paper gal delivers the goods at 7 a.m. just ruins my day.  As far as loyalty and devotion goes, I'm the suburban version of the scene in Jerry McGuire where the gal (Renee Zellwegger) tells Jerry (Tom Cruise) "you had me at hello."  Do you hear what I am saying, news paper gurus?  

So it pains me to see that there is a full article devoted to things on toast, and it is called Jammin' with Toast: Create a Canvas.  I want to make sure I shared that information, lest you think it gets more creative with the title than it is with the topic. 

The newsroom is a foreign country to me, and I'll admit that I base most of my impressions on television shows.  So, I visualize this newsroom with a big table where all their best writers and columnists are meeting with the editor and they are pulling together the feature stories.   A writer sits fidgeting in his seat, till he sees the editor walk through the door.  He jumps from his chair and demands the editor's attention by way of his unbridled enthusiasm:  "I've got an incredible idea!"

All eyes turn toward the future Pulitzer prize winner.  Finally, he speaks: "Things on toast!"

Maybe it was less exciting.  No, come to think of it, it was less exciting...way less.  

The list includes such titans of toastology as broiled cheddar cheese and tomato on San Francisco sourdough bread or shredded pork with coleslaw on challah toast.  Apparently, it doesn't have to be all that exciting - it just has to have a long description.

Here is a couple of suggestions to make it more exciting:
  • Radioactive plutonium and organic California avocado on pita toast
  • Chicken liver, pig snout and goat eye with cream cheese wrapper on wheat
  • Live rodent and shredded credit card application on marble rye
Okay, I was wrong.  It's not more exciting at all.  Just troubling;  as troubling as a newspaper that wants to stay in print using prime space for broiled bread.

Editors, I toast you.  You've got a hard row to hoe. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Puppy Love

Hula lessons...totally fine with Coco.
Admittedly, I have people in my life that I love deeply.  I've known people that I was crazy about the second I met them.

This post isn't about people love.  This is about dog love.

My children never mourn my absence, and two of those children were surgically removed from my body!  My dog, Coco, stops eating till I return.

My husband doesn't feel the need to be in physical contact with me every single second that we are in the same room.  Coco clearly does.

As nervous and jumpy as some poodles can be, Coco lets my ballerina costumed granddaughter put her on the trampoline, jump up and down, all while shouting out specific dance moves and instructions - for the dog.  My granddarling informs me she is "teaching Coco how to do the hula."   An hour later - Coco still loves everything about her.

Just once, I'd wish I loved someone so much that I would be happy to lick the air that surrounded them.  Now, that's love.  Full contact with my atmosphere is enough for Coco;  it's so good, she has to taste it ( she is not allowed to lick my face, so she keeps a steady six inches away from actual contact the whole time).

I tried this same gesture of love with my husband, and he is just not having it.   I'm still going to have to by a Valentine's Day card.

Dogs are awesome.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Let's bake bread! (The dark side of frugality)

If kings and queens had a following as loyal as bread baking enthusiasts are to their craft, we'd be a monarchy right now.   How can you blame them?  Really, there's nothing better than home baked bread.  Carbs and I go way back, and I'm not going to mess with that kinship now.  Save the comments;  I know it's good!

The question for today is this:  is it frugal?   

History seems to show it can be frugal.  We know that because civilizations through the ages have relied on bread as a staple.  I'm making an assumption because the lowest worker on the totem pole made some form of bread - and you'd guess he didn't have much, money.  I'd like to put a bread history reference here for you, but I'd have to review all the websites on bread to be fair and balanced,  having typed the terms "history of bread" into the Google search engine and came up with 162,000,000 options.   For today, I'm choosing unfair and opinionated.

In modern times, bread purchased at the grocery costs between .99-3.99 (USD), depending on the type.  Run of the mill white bread can be cheap, while Artisan breads will be more.

Everyone I know who starts making bread starts out very excited and muses about the health benefits and cost savings.  And then they get out that credit card to get "necessities".  It's not how grandma made bread anymore.  I've seen this a happen over and over.

Let's do the math, shall we?

Lazy Mom who (I'm told) doesn't care what about her family's health (i.e., drives to the store):
Middle of the road wheat bread  $2.99
Number of loaves per year (2 per week): 104
104 x 2.99 =   Total cost of  $310.96

Informed, Healthy Mom who actually cares for her family (bakes her own bread):
Ankarsrum Original Kitchen Machine Matte Black Mixer w/FREE Shipping   $799
Wondermill Grain Mill w/FREE Shipping  $299
Wheat Hard Red 45lbs. 6 gal. Bucket - 2.5 buckets x $39.95 per bucket  ($99.88)
Lets just say you have the sugar, yeast and pans laying around.  
Total cost of 104 loaves approximately  $1197.88
And if this is enough to make 104 loaves,  your bread cost $11.51 a loaf.

Bread...delicious?  Oh, yeah.  Frugal?  Not always; especially when you are under the impression that you need all this hardware before you even start.  You can just buy bread flour, yeast, sugar, oil and salt, peeps.  How did something so simple get so expensive?   When is spending more a path to frugality?

I could further fantasy frugalize this if I buy the .99 loaf all year, and I'd still be able to hire a band to play for me  with the money I'd save while I appreciatively and eat my sandwich.

Stop right want to say, "but you can't put a price on your health..."   Sure you can.  Didn't you see my nifty highlights?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Run, Kitty, Run: A Love Story

Yes, this is a true story.  Even I wouldn't make this one up.

Moving to a new area can be tough.  You leave behind friends and all that you know.   When I moved to my current state (no, not the state of confusion), the only person I knew was my boyfriend, Mark. That was soon followed by the acquisition of a super sweet cat, Mittens.

Mittens was polydactyl.  This genetic mutation caused him to have extra toes on all his paws, and hence, he always looked like he was wearing mittens.  Hey, I can't be creative 24/7.

This was a special cat - he really had a fun personality.  One of his favorite games involved dangling a piece of ribbon or tissue in front of him while he hid under the couch or chair.  He'd wait for a second and then bolt out from under the furniture and grab whatever you had in your hand and carry it to the opposite end of the house.   Mittens would do this a hundred times a night, if you were willing.  Mark loved to play this game with Mittens.

Mark came to my home nearly every evening and usually let himself in.  On this particular night, I was using the master bathroom when he arrived and had left the door slightly cracked.  Awkward, since we were still in the phase of dating where you don't want your boyfriend to know that your body does not fully utilize all the food you eat, and you do produce waste products via your intestinal tract, if you get my drift (ditto for flatulence, sweat and barf).  Not that I'm vain, just concerned about efficacy, so get that mind out of the gutter.

I yelled out for Mark to have a seat in the living room, I'd just be a sec!

No job is complete until you do the paperwork, and that was just what I was finishing when a flash of black and white swiped the toilet tissue from my hand and ran down the hall towards Mark.  Boy, I wish I could tell you that I hadn't used said tissue yet.  Really, I'd love to tell you that...

Jumping from my throne, I looked down the hall as a slow motion memory of Mittens running toward Mark with the tissue burnt itself in my brain.  I can still see Mark looking over the top of the newspaper, beginning to smile...right before the next look of pure horror appeared.

THAT guy still married me.  Some days, I thank God.  Other days...I wonder what he was thinking.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Grammy on Grammy Grammar: Macklemore

I'm too old to watch the Grammys, so I always do.  Call it Flipster rebellion.  Pretty soon, I'll be sassing my mother again, if this trend continues.

Newcomers Macklemore and Ryan Lewis burst on the scene in 2013 with hit after hit.  Where were these guys hiding?  Did they just wake up one morning and say to each other, "Let's be awesome." Talent is talent, and these guys appear to have it.  The idea that they made a record without a recording contract is just perfect;  I love hard work and passion.  They appear to have plenty of that, too.  Kudos, young men, kudos.  You deserve the accolades.

Let the nitpicking begin.

Number one, in my world, I choose not to use bad language;  I could do a whole month of posts about that - but this is not that kind of blog. Young people, clarity will sink in as you have children.  Consequently, I get irritated when a catchy tune is stuck in my head, but I can't sing it! The lyrics are a decidedly foul-mouthed rhythm play and, as previously stated, I choose not to use that language. Freedom of choice, right?  That's my choice.  However...curse you, Thriftshop, with your tag poppin' tune!  It became stuck in my head before I learned the lyrics.

I'm the one who washes Granddad's clothes, by the way.  When I'm done, you can have them.  Not a hater.

On to issue number two:  I do pay attention to what is said, regardless of whether I agree or disagree or just don't care about an issue - I want to understand a person's perspective.  In my mind, if you have the attention of 28.5 million viewers and you have a message, make sure that message is clear. Late in the show, the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed their song Same Love  (save your comments...this is not a blog about controversy...we're not having an us-versus-them-comment-a-thon).

Towards the end of his performance, Macklemore emphatically cries out "till the day that my uncles can be united by law."  Now, considering the star power and marketing power attached to each word said, I'm sure the comments from stage are worth tens of thousands of dollars, but since you don't pay up front, a few more for clarity would be great.

This is a grammar gripe. If anyone was uniting uncles by law, that would be strange.  Most brothers aren't that close.   Also, if any state took the lead, I'm thinking it might be West Virginia, not California.

West Virginia has long been accused of being cousin marrying hillbillies fighting with their Uncle Daddies and kin.  I know, I was reminded of it frequently (hello...born in WV) growing up in Ohio.  I was sent to speech class to get rid of that WV accent.   But I was still WV born, so the hits keep on coming.

And I can't change...even if I try, ya'll.

Grammar:  Use it for good.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Super Bowl Saturday

Another name for it would be...Saturday.

I'm informed by my retailing buddies that this is the day that people who can't afford large screen televisions plop down the big bucks for a new rig. Some things are better left unknown, but I'll put a positive spin on this stinker:  Yay, Team Materialism AND Football Fanatics!  It's a double whammy.

On Sunday, Super Bowl viewing heaven!   Parties, chips, dips, hurrahs and devastation!  What fun!

On Monday...return the televisions.  What, you say??  No, not in my America.

Yep, apparently it's done all the time.  Have some dignity, people.  All you have to do is carry around a huge balance on your credit card (like most Americans...gotta have the merch...can't live without it) and you can be spared that walk of shame to return it.

Your open-box electronics will be on sale for the rest of us later, so please be careful during transport.