Thursday, December 31, 2009


They arrived with presents, one huge backpack, athletic gear, assorted hats, gloves, boots and sets of keys. The immaculately decorated house immediately took on the aspect of chaos that it used to have when children lived here permanently. Christmas had begun.

The schedule was planned by Charlie, and it included some shopping, riding around to see the lights, holiday performances, and dinners out. We had a barbequed turkey on Christmas night, complete with coleslaw and made-from-scratch baked beans. This was an innovation-—we wanted a change from the tired old stuffed turkey that usually graces our table. I would bet thousands that not one family in America leaves the table after Christmas dinner unbloated, and this family was no exception!

The opening of gifts at our house is an all day affair. The champagne we drank on Christmas Eve proved very soporific, and so none of us awoke before ten. Even the dog slept in. With coffee and egg casserole to fortify, we opened gifts for the better part of three hours. Since this was an “austere” year, gifts included boxes of cereal for one daughter, cookbooks from the shelf in the kitchen for the other. The dog opened her gift, and then chewed her way through a few others. We ate and drank coffee for the better part of the day, remaining parked in front of the fire. Fun, fun, fun.

As suddenly as they came, the daughters were gone. Despite assiduous packing, here is what we discovered that was left behind: One hairbrush, a complete set of workout clothes (still sweat covered), a red sweater that had to be retrieved from the restaurant where it was left, two boxes of the “gift” cereal, and various beauty products.

Also left behind was an air of emptiness, and echoes of laughter and late night television. There is silence where there was chattering and shouting, and here and there are remnants of the holiday: a shred of gift wrap under the coffee table, a stray ornament in the corner. The stockings are deflated, hanging there to remind me of those girls.

I have a bad cold. I don’t feel like putting anything away today. So I sit, wrapped in a blanket, thinking about past Christmases, and the days when the kids were still at home. Between coughs, I remember: Marion having strep throat just about every year, and all the Amoxicillin doses. Annie asking for a new saddle every year, and not receiving one (they cost the same amount as a CAR, for Pete’s sake!). The year Nintendo games were all the rage, and our girls didn’t get one. The arguments that resulted from “Trivial Pursuit.” Charlie falling asleep during “family time” watching Christmas movies. The messes that were made in the kitchen by well meaning cooks. The noise, the disruption, and the activity. It was exhausting!

So now I sit, with blanket and coffee. The house is quiet, and there are no cell phones texting, no Ipods recharging, and no hair dryers blowing. There is still more coffee in the pot. I have not tripped over one gym shoe in twenty four hours. The bed in the guestroom is MADE.

The children are where they belong. I am home alone. There is order in the universe.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


While I enjoy the holidays with my family, going to restaurants and overeating, wrapping gifts, watching "On Demand" movies, trying to keep up with all the mess in the house, and generally making merry, I want to send all of you my very best wishes for a FANTASTIC holiday with your families.

Eat an extra cookie. Go out and buy ONE MORE stocking stuffer! Take a ride and look at holiday lighting displays! Sleep in an extra hour. Make a new recipe. And be sure to think of me when you laugh!


Thursday, December 10, 2009


I would love to write a nostalgic post about my many Christmas memories. Stockings, carols, turkeys, Santa, the works. The truth of the matter is that my childhood memories, collectively, would EASILY fit on the head of a pin.

I have been challenged by a Facebook friend to get with it and THINK BACK. I have been brain racking (wracking??), and I have managed to come up with some details of my Christmases past to share with all of you. Dickens I am most certainly NOT, but I do have some memories perhaps worth sharing.

FAMILY. My mother was a gifted artist who spent her life as a housewife. Her genius was expressed through flower arranging, sewing, cooking, and crafting. She let herself go at Christmas! We always had at least five kinds of cookies stored in Christmas tins in the garage (!), and every night after dinner, we brought them upstairs and gorged on nut crescents, little pecan tarts, Slovak (my Mom, a true Bohemian peasant) jam tarts, and various other delicacies. I have never made a cookie that doesn’t come in a roll from the grocery refrigerated section.

My mother always made a Christmas candle. She let my sister and me help. It consisted of a wick, blocks of paraffin, melted paraffin that she somehow whipped into a froth, glitter, food coloring, and decorative greens. The candle was assembled from the blocks, the whipped frosting applied with a cake spreader, and the glitter applied while the paraffin was still wet. The candle was arranged on the buffet with the greens; it always looked beautiful, and we lit it every night during supper during the holidays. I absolutely loved it. It has never occurred to me to try making one.

We did not have a fireplace in our house, so we never had stockings. My father acted as Santa on Christmas morning, and he did an admirable job. We opened gifts one at a time, and exclaimed over each one. I am not aware of my parents exchanging gifts—Christmas was ALL ABOUT ME, of course. I do remember Dad getting things like socks and gloves every year, and his enthusiasm for these gifts was always boundless, bless him!

GIFTS TO REMEMBER. My favorite gift as a child was a ballerina doll with pink toe shoes. I found it in my Mom’s closet at around Thanksgiving time, and took it out and played with whenever she went to the store. I am shocked that she didn’t notice its slightly shopworn appearance when she wrapped it up to put it under the tree. The worst gift I have ever received (and my daughters will back me up on this) was a pair of blown glass earrings from my husband. These looked to me like tiny little dog poos on 14k gold posts, and I never wore them. They got lost, somehow…

THE HOLIDAY RAMP-UP. Families in the fifties were not so slavish in the decoration department. I have no memories of lights in the bushes or wreaths on the front door. We had a big non artificial tree in the living room, in front of the picture window, and every year, my Dad did what all Dads throughout history have done: he put the lights on the tree and used words that I never heard during other times of the year: words like shit, damnittohell, and son of a bitch.

Our decorations were thanks to my talented mother, who managed to make a different style of beautiful handcrafted ornament-every year. We had ones made of satin ribbon, ones covered with sequins, knitted and crocheted ones, stained glass-like ones, and some she made from kits that she ordered. I have many of these still, and we put them on our tree every year. I have never tried to make an ornament. I know my limitations.

Since both parents were musicians, and my Dad played a mean concert violin, we always had Christmas music. On the stereo, I adored the Mormon Tabernacle choir. Robert Goulet sang “Panis Angelicus” like nobody’s business. My Dad played his violin for us once in awhile, and I loved it. Since my Dad was also associated with the music department at the university in our town, we also attended Christmas concerts. I loved sitting there, behaving beautifully (my Mom made it clear that one false move and I was a dead man) and letting the music wash over me. I have no musical talent myself. Charlie takes care of that with carols galore on the accordion, whether we need them or not.

So there you have it. Memories. My children, if writing blogs, would have a very different set of remembrances: about the Santa gifts with Mom’s handwriting on the tags, the trips to the emergency room on Christmas Eve two years running (a badly sprained ankle one year, uncontrolled vomiting the next), taking rides to see the lights and getting into a big fight in the car about why it isn’t in good taste to say the “F” word in front of your parents, embarrassing a boyfriend at a fancy restaurant with a family discussion about scatological topics, and the time Mom gave Dad back all of the gifts he got her because none of them were on her Christmas list…

Oh, it is a magical time of the year.

I want to wish all of you who have supported me in my writing a wonderful holiday. I will name some names: Merry Christmas to my Facebook family, especially Karl, Tracy, Diana, Michelle, Celine, and Dr. Steve. To Watson the cat, felicitations! To my Etsy friends, a hearty Yule! To my neighbors, lots of love. To the rest—Jane and Dave, Susan G. and Dave, Alison and Tim, Carl and Sherry, John and Joann, Paul and Susanne, Waynesville Vet Hospital, Joe and Dee, Sheryl and Rick, Mar and Den, Lynne, and the rest of my family—peace and love.

I will be taking a Christmas hiatus (no,Charlie—I don’t have a HERNIA) and I will be back after the holidays. Annie and Marion will be home this year, the four of us together for maybe the last time before one of them gets married.


Sunday, December 6, 2009


I grew up hating my name. I still don’t like it, actually. In my generation, the only “Molly’s” were in my reading books: cows and goats always seemed to have that name. Not one girl. This held true all the way through college and beyond. Imagine my surprise when the name “Molly” became popular in the 90’s. Now I run into little “Molly’s” everywhere. There is security in having a popular name. No one makes fun of you or it, or asks you where your name comes from, etc. I have spent some time pondering names lately. It seems that one’s name can be either the catalyst for a lot of anguish, sexual confusion, resentment, or just, as in my case, dissatisfaction. A name can harness its owner with aggravation and more. For instance:

As a parent, one must think long and hard before naming a child something unusual. Bucking trends for some parents is an obsession. But before you name your daughter Prudence, however, consider the meaning behind the name. I have always wondered if those Moms and Dads choosing names like Hope, Charity, Patience and the like are projecting these qualities onto their daughters, or if they are just living in the past.

Luckily for parents who like old fashioned names, however, these seem to be swinging right back into popularity: Joshua, Ethan, Caleb—these are all back. These names are very nice and strong. Again, some parents push this envelope as well, and we get Moab, Orton, Gladys, and Blanche. Can you imagine what being named Blanche might be like? At the birthday party: “Come on girls—Tiffany, Suzy, Maddie, and BLANCHE! Time to cut the cake!” Is grandma among them?

In my mind, certain names have associations that are not complimentary. Hilda, for instance, makes me think of a clumsy red-haired pre teen, who is pushed into ballet school by her misguided mother. Elspeth seems like a wraith with incipient tuberculosis. Cary, I am sorry to say, is gay (not that there is anything wrong with that...). Wendell and Winthrop are nerds. And Cecil is most likely gay AND the neighborhood target for all the bullies. By the way, the bullies are named Jake, Bud, and Willy (Willy became a bully in defense of his own penile related name). Florrie is fat.

I would also like to knock some sense into any parent considering naming a boy anything relating to cowboys, unless the family actually lives on a farm or ranch with real cows and horses. Boys named Emmett, Saratoga, Slim, or Red have a lot to live up to otherwise. The same goes for girls. Why name a child Belle, before you know whether or not she will be pretty? While I am at it—I would like to give another kick in the head to any parent cherishing the name Hortense, Ida, Gaylord, Jemima, Hubert, or Pepper.

Geography should not be confused with the naming of children. How did naming kids after locations become the trend? Sierra, Tennessee, Aspen, Nevada. I guess these sound evocative to some. Thank goodness I have never been introduced to a Little Rock or a Kankakee, but they are probably out there, getting beaten up during recess.

One more thing. Consider your own name before you name your dog. If your name is Rex or Chance, then for heaven’s sake, don’t give your dog a name like Pete or Dan, because folks will persist in calling you by your dog’s name.

A final peeve. If you get the privilege of naming a person, can you please SPELL the name correctly? The popularity of butchering names causes me such pain. Why ruin a fine name such as Susan by spelling it Soosyn? Mollee? Danyelle? Wyllym? Dian??

Ok, I have to go now. I have to go brush my cat Salami.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


The Christmas shopping season officially has begun! For the men that I know well, Christmas shopping is a duty that is almost impossible to live up to. For these men, and for all the men out there who feel helpless and lost in any store other than Lowe’s, I am going to present my TIPS FOR SHOPPING FOR FEMALES. The first thing for men to keep in mind is that what women love 364 days a year does not necessarily mean that they want to see it under the tree. Women want to feel special and feminine at Christmas. As a matter of fact, men should keep that in mind for all occasions! So here goes:

TIP NUMBER ONE: If it has something to do with keeping things clean, women don’t want it as a gift. Those nifty little steam cleaners for carpets? FANTASTIC. But if you give her one for Christmas, it’s an INSULT. “What, you don’t think I can keep house? Well, YOU try cooking, doing laundry, trucking kids around, taking care of Fido, and just see how many spots YOU will find on the rug!”

TIP NUMBER TWO: Women, as a rule, hate gifts that come pre-packaged. I know, the department store tells you that if you spend $30, you can take home a really nice shrink wrapped basket that contains soap, a loofah, some body wash, and three lip balms. Men love this, thinking that somebody, somewhere, has scoped out what women like, and put it together for them. This is erroneous. Generic things in shrink wrap are too cheesy for words, and only men will buy them.

TIP NUMBER THREE: The home made gift certificates that say, for example: “Good for two back rubs,” or “Will do dishes every Friday,” are COMPLETELY BOGUS. No one EVER lives up to promises made on these things. Children can get away with gifting these to Moms, but never men. Do men think we are really that gullible? And if a man DOES actually try to make good on one of these, it is a half-hearted effort at best. Charlie’s idea of a back rub is twenty seconds of vague patting while watching a television program. And a kitchen cleaned up by most men has grease around the edges every time.

TIP NUMBER FOUR: If it is in a big package, it better be a big gift! I have said this before, but it bears repeating: my friend, who received BED PILLOWS in a big beautiful box from her husband at Christmas twenty years ago HAS NEVER FORGIVEN HIM. A big box, to a woman, promises things like cashmere coats, leather boots with five inch heels, or cable knit cardigans!

TIP NUMBER FIVE: Unless she is a gourmet cook, don’t consider kitchen paraphernalia. Le Creuset and Cuisinart are SPECIAL INTEREST gifts. As a matter of fact, any special interest gift is risky. Sports equipment, fitness gear, gardening tools, and things like bird feeders are only welcomed by real enthusiasts. The rest of us regular women think that the kinds of gifts found in, say, the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog, are very technical and kind of BORING.

TIP NUMBER SIX: I may be the only woman in the world who feels this way, but for me, getting a CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT for Christmas is anti-climactic. It is too late to use it this year, and in order to enjoy it, a whole year has to go by. Furthermore, almost every family I know has TOO MANY Christmas ornaments already. Just because the stores are full of them this time of year is no reason to get one for your wife!

All in all, this time of year is fraught with peril for the male shopper. The best advice I can give to any man looking for the perfect gift is this:

Are you considering buying that thing in your hand? Before you go to the cash register, look around the store. Find a woman. Show her what you have in your hand. Ask that woman if you should buy the item. DO WHAT SHE SAYS. Foolproof!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


All around America, in kitchens and dining rooms this Thursday, people will gather to give thanks. Many of us make it a ritual, going around the table reciting what we are most thankful for. What a wonderful custom! However, there IS an element of political correctness involved. EVERYONE is thankful for family, love, pets, abundance, good fortune, and good will. But I am willing to bet thousands that there is not one woman in America who would be REALLY honest and say she is thankful for tampons, for example. But there are just so many things that make life worth living, and I, FOR ONE, am going to go on record this year and say what I AM REALLY THANKFUL FOR.

CEREAL. Back in the day, you could have Corn Flakes or Corn Flakes. These days, there is a myriad of choices, and they are all so delicious! High fiber, fruity, puffed, rolled. You can eat it cold. You can eat it hot. You can eat it right out of the box, for heaven’s sake! And it is fast, easy, and portable. I have it for at least one meal a day, and for that, I am thankful!

DEODORANT. This was truly a tremendous leap forward for mankind. Without it, many people might never have found a life partner! Would ANYONE go to the gym if it weren’t for deodorant? Therefore, we have deodorant to thank for lower cholesterol levels, longer life spans, and that honed “six pack” look. Without deodorant, no one would be able to attend sporting events without getting nauseous from the fumes. SO WITHOUT IT, THERE WOULD BE NO SUPERBOWL!

SPANDEX. Now, this one is HUGE. Without it, women my age would not be able to wear tight pants and still breathe. Spandex made leggings possible. Men should also be very thankful for Spandex, without which Pamela Anderson might have looked dumpy.

THE VACUUM CLEANER. I can’t imagine what life must have been like for women who had to use a BROOM to try to clean house. Why, just today, I spilled a box of cereal on the kitchen floor at lunchtime, and before you could say “Tony the Tiger,” it was all cleaned up. Beating rugs with a stick? Forget it! Cat hair? It would never come off the carpet with a broom! If I had lived a before the advent of the Dyson, my life would have consisted of sheer drudgery and lots of unwanted crumbs.

THE BIG BOX STORE. I know, Wal-Mart might be evil. But honestly, when time is at a minimum, one trip does it all. I am still astounded by the sheer diversity offered by the big boxes: you can get bug killer, mulch, toilet paper, apricots, best sellers, pinto beans, and organic tomatoes there. You can get your hair cut, nails done, and develop photos. There is a bank in there! Starbucks! You could actually LIVE at a big box store. Wait a minute! Should I be thankful for this or not?

CORTISONE CREAM. Cortisone is the tenth wonder of the world. It cures everything. If it itches, put cortisone on it. If it burns, put cortisone on it. If it looks puffy, cortisone will de-puff. You can do just about anything but cook with the stuff. Remember the “heartbreak of psoriasis?” Of course you don’t, because there is CORTISONE CREAM!

KLEENEX. Everyone who knows me personally will vouch for the fact that I could not exist without it. I blow my nose, or attend to it in some fashion, at least three times an hour. As a matter of fact, Kleenex is a part of my persona: one of my friends said, “I saw you on Monday at the corner of X and Y Street! Of course it was you! She was blowing her nose!”

And finally, I am thankful for THE INTERNET. I have friends now in England, New Zealand, France, Canada, and all over the United States, thanks to Etsy and Facebook. I can Google whatever I want to. I can buy everything on the internet that I can’t find at a big box store! I can SELL stuff! I can watch a movie, a hilarious video of a cat playing the piano, or a film clip of a gorilla playing dominoes. But this is what I am most thankful for:


Friday, November 13, 2009


I have been encouraged lately by many people to write a book. I am not up to it yet, but I am ruminating on various potential themes. I have about three or four recurring dramas that I play out in my head for entertainment, and perhaps one of these has in it the germ of a novel. You can be the judge.

THE ECCENTRIC MYSTERY. Someone is murdered. A detective is hired to solve the crime, but this particular detective has some personality quirks that make solving crimes particularly challenging. The detective, one Arnold Scullwood by name, works by day in a bookstore, and moonlights as a nude model to bring in extra cash, which he squanders by buying lottery tickets. Arnold, a bodybuilder, also finds sleuthing hard to work into his training schedule and frequent odysseys to weight lifting competitions. But when a woman is found dead after the “clean and jerk," Arnold gets strong-armed into solving the crime.

THE FOOD NOVEL. In this book, the plot is secondary to giving the author free rein to talk about making food, eating food, and sharing recipes. Back in the day, this was called a “cook book,” but today’s readers apparently demand more from that genre. So in this, the protagonist either falls in love with the wrong man, or is a widow who moves to a new town. Either way, the heroine learns to solve her problems and renew her faith in herself and mankind by opening either a: bakery, a quilt shop that serves little homely snacks, or a tea room that ultimately fails. In the process, the heroine—we will call her Polly Underwinger, finds love with either the coffee delivery man, or the local pharmacist.

THE ENGLISH COUNTRY HOME SAGA. This is one of my favorites. It follows the Crompton-Flingford family over a span of a couple of generations, beginning with little cockney Harold Crompton, who begins life as a lackey in a glue factory under horrid conditions, but works his way up to owning the whole thing. Along the way, he meets Daisy Flingford, who hails from a noble family and completely upsets the feudal order of things by marrying Harold beneath her station. Their marriage is, of course, fraught with trouble, but they persevere and produce a wayward son, Bartholemew Crompton-Flingford, who goes to public school, buggers his underlings, and then procedes to squander the entire glue fortune on “fancy women” and Thoroughbreds. Daughter Paisley Crompton-Flingford is a silly, spoilt schoolgirl who eats too many cream scones at tea, and hence finds it hard to interest any local bachelors, due to her girth. The whole plot thickens when Rodney Mink-Nulton, a slick character, enters the picture to seduce Paisley, blackmail Harold, charm Daisy, and challenge Bartholemew to a duel. This novel is full of chintz, tea, scones, and fires with fenders. It is also replete with bodice ripping, unseemly characters, foxhounds, pheasants hanging in the larder, and, naturally, chambermaids.

THE PRECOCIOUS CHILD NOVEL. Of course, no one can top “Anne of Green Gables,” or “Little Women,” but I might try my hand at writing the story of Annabricks Le Table, the daughter of a boring British nobleman and his lively and gutsy French lover. Annabricks is the darling of the neighborhood around the Rue de la Cul de Sac, where she lives. She introduces the colorful characters who are her friends: Raoul, the roguish butcher, who gives her free bones for her dog “Bouillon,” and Madame Raclette, owner of the local brothel, who teaches Annabricks the ways of the world. Annabrick’s parents, Clive and Manette, struggle to keep their darling but larger-than-life daughter safe, while allowing her to grow up experiencing the ways of the French, all the while learning how to brew a really good cup of tea.

I am continuing to cogitate, but really, the most fun for me is coming up with names for my characters! A few more, perhaps?

THE SOUTHERN BELLE: Fanny Cerise Fernduke






Sunday, November 8, 2009


He is talkative, svelte, and handsome. His blue eyes are piercing. He is a charmer! He walked into my life, took one look at me, and I was hopelessly in love! He thinks he is the coolest cat around, and actually, he is kind of conceited. But he knows I am crazy about him. Even my husband likes him.

You would think that a woman of my age would know better than to fall in love again. But what could I do in the force of his personality, his presence, his charisma? Even my friends don’t blame me. They admire him, also!

He arrived in Dayton from Atlanta on Delta Airlines on a summer day two years ago. He needed a place to stay. I took him to my place. We hit it off immediately, and before you know it, I was kissing him. He went upstairs into the bedroom, and I followed. What can I say? The rest is history….

He is very forceful and demanding. When he wants attention, he gets it. I would compare his style to Frank Sinatra: he is smooth, sophisticated, and he can be very entertaining. Yet, he has a great sense of humor, and at times is a real clown. But he is just so handsome! When he is around, I just can’t keep my hands off him!

Ever since he came into my life, everything has changed. My husband is just not as exciting as he used to be. At times, when I am listening to one of Charlie’s stories, my mind wanders, and I start thinking of HIM. When I am on vacation with my husband, I miss HIM. There are days when all I want to do is see him, touch him, just BE WITH HIM!

There have been others. But with this one, it is different. He makes me feel young again. He makes me laugh. He understands me. I will never let him go.

Somehow, my husband understands, and the three of us have learned how to coexist. Yes, it is a beautiful relationship: one man, one woman, and one Siamese cat.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


There is a reason why my house has a “servants” room in the attic. Of course, the attic is neither cooled nor heated, and it has never been. But there is a rudely finished room up there, with walls, a hardwood floor, a nice dormer window, and a corner with a sink. It must have been the place where “the girl” lived in the olden days. In my imagination, “the girl” did all of the things that I now have to do, and she was, I bet, an extremely hard worker!

I spent the day “putting away” summer. We have lots of chairs and cushions on the deck. It also has potted plants galore. There is a table and chairs where we ate meals al fresco, sitting in the breezes and drinking wine. Today, Charlie and I wrestled with those same cushions, furniture, and plants. Dumping soil, carting stuff to the curb. Putting pots in the garage. Sweeping leaves off the furniture cushions, and stuffing them into big trash bags. Lugging the bags into the basement.

On the screened porch upstairs, there is MORE FURNITURE! IT IS COVERED WITH ADDITIONAL CUSHIONS! The screened porch is one of the reasons we bought the house, and it really looks dandy in the summer, with the Boston Ferns, the reed matting, and the many lamps and accessories that I have amassed. TODAY, I HAD TO CARRY ALL OF THAT STUFF INTO THE ATTIC. This is actually a definitive two person job, because one person has to guard the door to the attic, while the other totes everything up there. If we don’t follow this procedure to the letter, CATS GET IN THE ATTIC. You don’t want cats in your attic. At least not in our attic, where there are numerous chinks and crannies. A few years ago, a Siamese kitten managed somehow to GET BETWEEN THE WALLS up there. After emergency phone calls to family members, one of whom had to drive all the way back to Dayton from Cincinnati, we managed to get the kitten out. It took all day, and I had to call in “sick” at work.

Back to the porches. All those chairs and loveseats have winter covers. When spring comes, we tend to be in a big hurry to uncover everything, and so all the covers are jumbled together in a large trunk in the basement. So today, Charlie and I had to devote forty five minutes to COVER ANALYSIS. Truly, these covers all LOOK THE SAME, until we try to actually cover a piece of furniture with one. And it doesn’t fit. No matter how we turn it. So we stood on the deck, and it went a little like this:

No, no, no! THE SEAM should go across the back!”

“If that is the case, then why doesn’t it fit?”

“Ok, then turn it upside down!”

“There is a picture on the tag, and it is of a SOFA, not a ROCKING CHAIR!”

“Well, if you are so smart, why didn’t you tell me to look at the tag in the first place?”

“I am going to watch TV.”


I am sure that in the days of yore, when people had servants, things moved along smoothly from season to season, and there were no loud arguments between the master and mistress of the house about how to best dispose of dead potted plants and where to store the wicker side tables. In those days, houses of a certain size had folks like Anthony Hopkins polishing silver, dusting in the corners, and changing the slipcovers from linen to velvet in the fall. There were cooks to make dinner. A yardman came to take care of the pesky leaves and to clean out the gutters.

Now we have labor saving devices. But having a dishwasher and a Dyson is little consolation when wrangling recalcitrant furniture covers.


Sunday, October 25, 2009


As a kid, I loved Halloween almost more than Christmas. Neighborhoods were safer then, and Halloween actually commenced after dark. Nothing was more exciting than racing along dim streets in our costumes. The candy part was anticlimactic. I don’t remember even sampling the candy until after I got home—NO, the real fun was running free in the night, shouting, knocking on strange doors, and comparing notes with my friends on which houses were handing out the best loot. If you got a full sized Hershey bar, that was AMAZING. And by the way, the person who coined the term “fun sized” for those stinking little miniature candy bars is a master of brainwashing, as far as I am concerned.

Another fantastic feature of Halloween, in my youthful opinion, was what it did to ADULTS. Some of the most dignified and respected parents donned costumes and acted extremely frivolous. One of our neighbors dressed up as a witch every Halloween and should have been ashamed of herself, as far as I was concerned. Luckily for me, my mother behaved in an acceptable fashion and merely answered the door and meted out the candy. Period. Of course, SHE didn’t have much fun, but I was fine with that.

This brings me to today. In our family, no one loves Halloween more than my husband. Not me, and not our daughters, even when they were within trick-or-treating parameters. To say that Charlie REVELS in the holiday doesn’t even scratch the surface! At our house, there is an electric jack o’lantern that revolves on a turntable with a fun house mirror behind it! We have scary music blaring out into the night! There are skeleton lights in the tree! It is all I can do to keep Charlie IN the house (in past years, he would meet the little kids at the edge of the yard, and it was reported that they were becoming intimidated…) until the doorbell rings.

Last year we ran out of candy. Panic ensued. I began searching around the house for alternatives as Charlie stalled the children at the door. At first, all was well, as I found some granola bars in the cupboard. But when those were gone, necessity became the mother of invention. Do you remember getting APPLES in your trick or treat bag as a kid? AND HATING THAT??? I rejected the fruit idea. Charlie suggested giving pennies, but Annie reminded us that inflation would dictate that in 2008 the equivalent would be quarters, at least, and we had a dollar’s worth. Another quick rummage through the kitchen.





After a few similar exchanges, with the children on the stoop becoming more restive, verging on violence, I found a box of Quaker Instant Cinnamon Oatmeal, and that was reluctantly accepted by two small ghosts and one tiny cheerleader. Charlie was becoming desperate, his reputation as neighborhood Halloween bon vivant at stake. I began throwing anything I could come up with into the treat bowl: one unopened package of Tic Tacs, two packages of peanut butter Nabs, one carnation instant breakfast, and just as I was about to throw in some microwave popcorn, Annie said, “OK, this is ridiculous, just SHUT THE DOOR AND TURN OUT THE PORCH LIGHT!”

This year, I am going to be smarter and get more candy. No more panic on All Hallow’s Eve for us! And, of course, as a weight watcher, I know enough to get candy that I don’t like.

But I do worry about this, because when Charlie finds out that we are giving out Horehound Drops and Licorice All Sorts this year, I am not sure what he will do…

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I love pomegranates. The seeds are like little jewels. They taste kind of like a combination of grapes and cranberries: sweet, with a little kick. According to the folks at the health food store, they are extremely good for you—loaded with antioxidants and vitamins that keep you living a long time. The problem with pomegranates is that they are hard to open and eat. Those little seeds tend to break open when I cut into the fruit, and they squirt all over my shirt. Others fly around the room as I try to disengage them from the rind and put them in a dish to eat. I can never seem to track all the errant seeds down, and so days later I either step on them, discover them stuck to the walls, or find them dried up on chair cushions. As a result, I eat mostly easy fruits like apples.

This is the story of my life, I guess. As a kid, I never wanted to do much that required major effort. Piano? Are you kidding? You have to practice a half hour a day! Sports? You mean you have to break a sweat? Homework was another thing. If it took hours to write a term paper worthy of an “A,” then I settled for a “B.” I loved books, but if the description of the bosky dell was too detailed, I just skipped pages until the lovers were actually DOING SOMETHING.

This whole habit has stayed with me. I am not proud of it, necessarily, but I feel the need to defend myself against all of those perfectionists out there who feel that doing something requires doing it to the best of one’s ability. THIS IS HOGWASH, IN MY OPINION. Life is short. I want to cram as much in as possible. In order to accomplish that, I have to cut corners.

Let’s consider housework. My mother had a system of keeping house that required an ENTIRE DAY for each activity! Monday, she ironed. I buy wrinkle resistant clothing for all family members. Tuesday was for shopping. Ok, I like to shop, so I do it on a regular basis. Wednesday was for dusting and vacuuming. Dusting? I use my hand; it takes about forty seconds. I vacuum only when I can no longer discern the color of the carpeting. Thursday was for cleaning the bathrooms and washing the floors. I do clean the bathrooms to prevent diseases from spreading, but who ever heard of dusty floors hurting anyone? Mom went on like this all week. I have chosen to work outside of the home and get PAID for it.

Parenting is another area in which I evidently took the easy way. I was never a room mother, because luckily, I was a “Working Mom.” The fact that Charlie also worked and managed somehow to serve up mashed potatoes in the school cafeteria did not escape the notice of my children. When the request went out for cupcakes for the Sunday school bake sale, I always felt that ones made by professional bakers were far superior to the lopsided ones fashioned in the home kitchen. And what is all the fuss about home sewn Halloween costumes? They wear them once, and then GROW OUT OF THEM, for Petes’ sake. Why NOT get them at Wal-Mart?

Yard work is very time consuming, and it is very hard on the knees. I have never really liked flowers all that well anyway. And why in the WORLD would anybody want to spend four hours a week DEADHEADING? I can think of so many other things that I would rather do. Weeding, to me, seems as futile as trying to pick off every single poppy seed from a bagel, one at a time! Our yard looks just fine, thank you, with its ground cover and hardy perennials. Mulch, you know, is not expensive, and if you spread it around thickly enough, it chokes the stuff that isn’t supposed to be growing in those beds. The muscle-bound yard guys I pay to throw the mulch around are also fun to watch from inside the house!

I have never enjoyed cooking. It seems a colossal waste of time to amass ingredients, massage them around, let things rise, baste stuff, and learn how to finesse pie crusts and separate eggs. It takes a member of my family exactly two minutes to polish off dessert. So where is the logic in spending three hours making it?

I am an expediter. I know how to get things checked off lists! My house looks good enough, if you don’t check the corners or wear white kid gloves. I have lots of spare time in which to do fun things. When friends who read what I have written suggest that maybe I might want to write a book, I consider what being an author entails: Thinking of a plot. Description. Exposition. Dialogue. Writing actual chapters. Proofreading, editing, honing, character development…


Saturday, October 10, 2009


There are days when things just don’t go well. The talking alarm clock stops speaking to me. My cell phone dies during an important conversation. I spill juice on yet another brand new T-shirt. I crack my head on the cupboard above the sink. It’s rainy and dull outside. Yesterday was such a day for me. I was wan, depressed, and limp. Charlie saw the situation and jumped into the breach!

“Ok, what do you want to do this afternoon as a fun diversion?” he asked. I, in my weakened state, could come up with nothing. We had seen all the movies, eaten out once already this week, and thanks to the economy, the budget was shot. I sank a little further down into the chair cushions and stared out the window at the empty bird feeder.

After a few minutes of reflection, he came up with a plan. Charlie’s plans are usually excellent. He knows how to spend a day! Our vacations never falter with Charlie at the healm. So I surrendered to his plan, and we got in the car.

The first stop was the music store. He said, “Wait till you see this; you won’t believe it!” He was right! Inside a darkened studio in the bowels of the store was a large box, more like a cabinet. It had a glass front, and it resembled those fortune telling machines at Coney Island—remember the movie “Big?” Inside the display were two antique accordions. Charlie eagerly pushed a button, and the lights came on inside the box, there was a loud WHOOSHING sound, and then the accordions began to play! As they played, Charlie informed me that this machine was probably the only one like it in the world (understandably, in my opinion, but I kept quiet)! The inventor had seen player pianos and decided to make a “player accordion” machine. The music store owner traded a couple of pianos in order to acquire the machine. Seeing it did cheer me up a little, but I experienced a fleeting stab of sympathy for the music store owner’s wife…

We got back into the car and drove out into the country, and spent a fun half hour shopping for pumpkins. I stepped in some slime, convinced Charlie that doing the corn maze in the rain would not be enjoyable, turned down the chance to go on a hayride (wet hay?), and finally purchased a pumpkin. We tasted some cider, bought some Apple Butter, and got back in the car. I was starting to cheer up!

The next stop was “Bed, Bath and Beyond.” Charlie chose this, because, as he told me, “I thought that shopping around would make you happy.” This man KNOWS HIS WIFE. We browsed, we tried on “Snuggies,” and discussed the merits and drawbacks of inflatable beds. We then discovered that in the front of the store was a MASSAGE CHAIR DEMONSTRATION set up. We tried them out! For twenty minutes, the two old folks sat in those chairs, and let me tell you, that SHIATSU setting really works! Picture us: Charlie in his corduroy pants and baseball hat, me in my jeans and Weight Watchers sweatshirt, sitting in the massage chairs, side by side. In the front of the store. In a mall. Probably two hundred people walked by and saw us earnestly testing the equipment…

Feeling energized, we returned to the car. After driving for about a half hour, looking at all the construction in the downtown area of Dayton, we began to feel a bit peckish, and so we decided to have dinner. Charlie gave me my choice of my two FAVORITE restaurants: MCL Cafeteria, which for all of you out-of-towners, is a cafeteria habituated by geriatrics, BUT IT HAS GREAT FOOD, REALLY! The other choice was my favorite pizza restaurant. Remember, we are operating under an austerity budget. Pizza won out, and we had a fun dinner. I even had a glass of wine.

By now, the trials of earlier in the day had been forgotten. Upon arriving home, we sat down to a full evening of Tivoed selections. One of my favorites, about burly tattooed men rescuing chickens in the Bronx, was on, followed by a show with one of Marion’s clients in it. Something about long-dead people being reunited with their families.

So what started out dismally ended up happily. My conclusion, in reflecting upon all of this, is this:


Monday, October 5, 2009


I just returned from accompanying Annie to Chicago for a championship Dressage event. For those of you who don’t know, Dressage is that kind of riding that they do on those Lipizzaner stallions. The horses look like they are dancing, and the riders look like they are doing nothing but sitting there. The truth is the exact opposite.

Annie went on a pony ride at age six. Actually, at this community picnic, the pony rides were free, and so Annie would take a ride, run around to the end of the line, and do it again. And again, and again. After about fifteen rides with Annie and another ten with the other children, the pony became exhausted and had to be retired for the day. Annie, on the other hand, was outraged that the pony had to leave before Annie could have another dozen rides. That was the beginning of a horse career that has lasted for twenty years.

Horses and women go together. Men at horse events are as scarce as hen’s teeth. I guess all the men who like horses go west and become cowboys. Do you know what having a horse and showing it entails? I am going to tell you, and then you, like me, will wonder why MEN don’t do this:

Horses are huge. They can be very dangerous. They have to be wrangled around, bossed, broken, and trained to do exactly what the rider wants them to do. They don’t always want to cooperate, and so they can BUCK, SPOOK, GALLOP AWAY AT BREAKNECK SPEED, THROW PEOPLE UP IN THE AIR, RUN PEOPLE DOWN, AND EVEN KILL FOLKS. And who is it that wants to interact with these thousand-pound animals? LITTLE GIRLS.

Annie was six when she started her love affair with horses. By the time she was twelve, she had her own horse, and we watched, often in horror, as she took control of a beast who could easily kill her, and loved every minute of it. For her, the ultimate experience is the HORSE SHOW.

A horse show gives people from all over the opportunity to compete at various levels of expertise, and then win ribbons. Beautiful women (not men, remember) on beautiful horses executing elegant movements are awe inspiring. It is a thrill to watch. But here is the BACKSTORY:

It takes years of repetitive practice to become show-ready. You and the horse have to work as a team. I have been watching Annie ride for years. She loves every minute. I don’t get it. Here is what it looks like to me:

To practice, you have to tack up your horse, ride him for an hour, untack, rinse him (or whatever they call that), get the yucky stuff out of his feet, clean your saddle and other leather equipment, give the horse some food, and then go home. This is after you have worked a full-time job in order to AFFORD the horse, the saddle, the food, the stall, etc. To be effective as a rider, you have to practice just about every day.

If your horse gets sick, or lame, you have to know how to evaluate whether or not it requires veterinary action. This means you have to know an awful lot of medical stuff, and how to give horse pills, horse shots, and take a horse’s temperature. You have to know how to analyze his poop, and you have to know what a hoof abscess looks and SMELLS like.

If you are really dedicated and good at all of this activity, then you get to go to a HORSE SHOW. At the show, I would estimate that for every five minutes spent competing, there are about seven hours of work leading up to the event. There are equipment stalls and feeding regimens. There is also training, hauling manure, cleaning tack, washing the horse, braiding his mane, and shining him up like a new penny. After showing for five minutes, the horse has to be rewashed, unbraided, and fed. After that, there is all of the cleaning of the saddle, the bridle, the boots, etc. Did I mention that dressage riders always wear WHITE PANTS?

We just got back from a show in Chicago where the wind blew, it rained cats and dogs, you could see your breath, and the arenas looked like swamps. I wanted to go home the minute we got there. But Annie and all of the other horsewomen there LOVED IT. I still don’t get it. Don’t BOYS like playing in the mud? Isn’t it guys that love to stomp in puddles? I thought large farm animals were the métier of the masculine gender!

As I sat there in the rain, watching, I did an informal count. There were approximately two hundred people competing in the show, and four of them were men. The people wrangling, pushing, finessing and mastering these magnificent animals were women. Women!

And according to Annie, a lot of her girlfriends ride in RODEOS. So here is my question: Isn’t the term COWBOY inaccurate and just perhaps a little too self congratulatory?

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Have you ever watched someone in an adjacent car at a traffic light doing an unmentionable thing? And felt smug? I have. But today, as I was sweeping dust UNDER the rug in my kitchen, I realized that I am simply REPLETE with such bad habits, and in an effort to seem much more human and approachable to my handful of faithful readers, I am now going on record with a list of my worst, but not disgusting, bad habits!

I watch all the most lurid reality shows on television. The more horrible, the better. Morbidly obese people getting gastric bypasses are fascinating. Those Hoarders? I just can’t look away! And I feel so superior watching the Nanny and all of her uncivilized charges! At least my children learned to say “Please” and “Thank you!”

I talk to myself incessantly. This seems quite innocent. But how many of you get into loud ARGUMENTS with yourselves! Do you chastise yourselves? How about hitting yourselves in the head? And I sometimes get into self arguments while shopping. The other day, while telling myself kind of loudly that “it is ridiculous to buy another down vest when you already have four!” a woman at the adjacent round ring moved away conspicuously.

I harbor envy. For every woman I see wearing either big diamonds or Tod’s loafers, I cherish negative thoughts. Perfectly landscaped gardens make me irritable. Women who toss off gourmet meals (my sister and daughter), make me want to sabotage the béchamel sauce. I WANT A GUCCI BAG!

I cheat on my diet all the time. Coffee ice cream is simply my undoing. Buttercream icing is like heroin!! As a result, I have to spend so much time atoning (or is it toning?) at the gym that they all know me by name there! And when I went on vacation without telling them, they CALLED THE HOUSE to make sure I was ok!

I spend WAY too much time in bed in the morning. Some days I am still lying there at lunch time! My mother instilled in me that PJ’s must come off before nine a.m., and here I sit RIGHT NOW, typing away in my jammies, and it is two o’clock in the afternoon! There are days when I just manage to get my clothes on in time to make dinner!

I never make grocery lists. As a result, we have four bottles of ketchup, three Worcestershire sauces, repetitive herbs and spices, and redundant olive oil. This drives my husband to distraction, and he has taken to making regular inventories of the cabinets, announcing loudly, “OK: TWO CINNAMONS. THREE DRY MUSTARDS. DO WE NEED BOTH OF THESE CRISCOS? HOW ABOUT BAKING SODA?”

I love candles, buy lots of them, and NEVER light them. For some reason, they always look much more glamorous in the store. The same goes for soaps. I have a stockpile of scented soaps that would cleanse the unwashed of THE WORLD. One bar, I bought in London at Fortnum and Mason thirty years ago, and I just can’t bear to use it. I am sure it has no scent whatsoever anymore!

I just love stinky cheese. My Dad introduced me to Limburger and Liederkranz when I was a child, and I was hooked forever. Some people have gone so far, when entering my kitchen, as to inquire if the dog has committed an indiscretion. It is never good when people check the bottom of their shoes when you serve the cheese plate!

And finally, one of my worst sins: I eavesdrop! It is especially bad in restaurants when I can’t pay attention to my own conversation, because the one at the next table is so much more interesting! Often, STARING accompanies this, to which my daughter has been known to say, “For God’s sake, Mom, cut it out!” In my defense, however, I must say that this habit has never gotten to the point of my attempting to JOIN conversations at other tables. My husband is the champion of this tactic, and it does embarrass the heck out of me!

Let’s face it, no one is perfect. That is probably me at the traffic light in the car next to you—dental flossing….

Sunday, September 20, 2009


We have laughed here. We have cried here. There have been first dates and big fights here. Many delicious dinners have been served, along with pizza deliveries and Lean Cuisines. We have painted rooms, torn out plumbing, and sprayed weedkiller all over the place. Through it all, this house has stood sentinel over our family, somehow holding us together when times were great, and when we wondered if we could survive what life threw in our faces.

It is an old house, somewhere in the vicinity of one hundred years. A big, square box with nice airy rooms and high ceilings. I remember driving past it, wondering who lived there, and why that person surrounded the yard with high trees that hardly allowed a glimpse of the house they enclosed. I never imagined that one day the Campbells would move our furniture and our lives into the place.

The trees encircling the lot are long gone. The clapboards are a grayish white now, with lovely green shutters and front door. The front door is what I loved first: big, wide, and surrounded by sidelights crowned by a graceful fanlight. Two little benches flank the door. I like to sit on one and look out at the neighborhood.

Old houses have a way of making their families feel comfortable. Big rooms make breathing easier somehow. Nothing makes summer more enjoyable than a screened porch. Old houses invariably have big fireplaces, big windows, creaky floors, and lots of nooks. Our house has individual hallways leading into a couple of the bedrooms. It doesn’t make sense, but we love it. We have a door that leads into the kitchen where ice was once delivered. There was an inch of coal dust in the basement when we arrived. The butler’s pantry reminds me of Mr. Blanding’s dream house.

We have lived here for almost twenty years. It was here that I had the party where a tipsy guest fell down the two stairs leading into the kitchen, where a big tree fell down onto the deck and destroyed it while I watched, horrified, from an upstairs window. We spent a week last year without power, lighting candles and reading in bed with flashlights. I have gotten the best Christmas gifts ever in this house! There have been teen parties here, unauthorized, and resulting groundings. Dogs have peed. Cats have barfed.

This house has witnessed the worst days of our lives, when Charlie had the stroke that nearly killed him and we fought tooth and nail to get back what was taken away. It saw me stagger through the longest days of my existence. In this house we worked to put together the family that the stroke fractured, and by God, we did it somehow.

Now the house is a little emptier, with children grown and gone. The space is ameliorated somewhat with the five cats and the one dog that have taken the children’s place. Now this is a “retirement” home for two individuals, but the rooms are still full. There is now a blogging room filled with little slips of paper scrawled with potential topics of interest. The basement is an accordion studio, complete with amps, speakers, metronomes and music stands. There are seven litter boxes down there. Also in the basement is a wonderful museum erected to the memory of Girl Scouts, Indian Princesses, horse shows, high school and college theatre productions, and the War in Viet Nam. The kitchen holds, along with memories, an entire shelf of cookbooks that are never referenced, five sets of dishes for all those gourmet dinners that I have not yet concocted, and enough dust on the top of the cupboards to grow vegetables...

The rest of the house is the same. The bedrooms that once held horse statues, extension telephones, hot rollers, five million stuffed animals, and incredible amounts of disarray now have Martha Stewart duvet sets and artfully arranged accessories. The living room and den are full of the books that I keep vowing not to buy. There is a high definition TV! We have beautiful furniture now, instead of the tattered stuff that we had while raising kids, but it now is covered with pet hair rather than ketchup stains.

It is an old house. It is a family house. It is a great house. It is probably just exactly like yours.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


We are home, and we are exhausted, poor, and a little sad. Our beautiful daughter is wildly successful, the owner of a fantastic apartment, and in a relationship with a gem of a man. She cooks! She cleans! She hosts great parties! And now, thanks to us, she has a beautiful patio!

A little backstory. Our trip to California involved a wedding in San Francisco. It involved the perfect setting, the best of friends, the most beautiful bride, and the best partying we have done in years. After that, we traveled to Los Angeles to spend what my husband thought was a week of vacation visiting our older daughter.

A talent agent, this girl is a go-getter of mythic proportions. She reps some very recognizable faces, and she makes multi-tasking look like child’s play. Riding in the car with Marion is an exercise in self control, as I had to bite cheeks to keep from shrieking “Navigating this nightmare traffic and texting while carrying on a conversation with your parents is DANGEROUS!” She arranged for us to visit the set of “CSI New York,” which was so AMAZING. Eat your hearts out, America—I was actually in the morgue and GOT TO PULL OUT A SLAB! I met AJ Buckley, who is a cast member (very handsome)!

Charlie, ever optimistic, purchased three Los Angeles tour books before we left. As Marion had to work during the week that we were there, Charlie had visions of doing the Griffith Park Observatory, the Getty, and perhaps even the Tar Pits. I knew better than to burst his bubble before we departed; I didn’t want to plunge him into gloom.

The reality of the LA sojourn consisted of more prosaic pastimes. Marion has a new apartment. It has a large, private patio out back. The patio is empty. Her parents have an American Express card. Her mother is an HGTV maven. Put that all together, and it spells WORK, WORK, AND A LOT OF SWEATING.

Los Angeles has all the stores needed to furnish even the most lavish of lanais. But an unfortunate truth about that city is the fact that it is like one unending strip mall. To do the proper comparison shopping for patio gear and plantings requires putting around two hundred miles on the odometer and spending at least seven hours just LOOKING AT STUFF BEFORE COMMITTING TO BUY. This part of the project took one full day.

The following day, after an exciting visit to the CSI set, where Charlie actively campaigned to become an extra (unsuccessfully, and much to his daughter’s aggravation), we put another couple of hundred miles on the car. But this time, we bought FURNITURE. Tip: Smith and Hawken may be going out of business, but 50% off there still amounts to HUNDREDS of dollars for a chair! Home Depot, on the other hand, sells patio tables and chair SETS for that same amount! (Home Depot is three hundred miles away from Smith and Hawken, incidentally.) Loading the car with table, chairs, other tables, and other chairs was a challenge, but Charlie crammed all that merchandise in!

That night, instead of sitting at a chic bistro eating mussels and drinking wine, we hunkered over instructions translated into English by Chinese folk (“add bolt to table leg elegantly”). By eleven that night, we had the tables and chairs assembled and looking great! The pizza we had delivered was good, too!

The next day was also successful. Plants. Back to Home Depot. We bought palm trees, ficus trees, ferns, and incidentals. If it weren’t for a curmudgeonly but delightful gay man (you know who you are, Stan), we wouldn’t have been able to do it. But Stan told us exactly what to buy, what pots to put each plant in, the soil, the fertilizer, the hose, and everything. The only thing he didn’t do was pay.

In Los Angeles, every home store has legions of hopeful Mexican men congregating outside, looking for work of any kind. Stan arranged for one of them, a gracious man named Raul, to load up and deliver our haul. Despite nearly losing Raul on the highway twice, we all made it back to the apartment, where Raul nearly took the top off his truck in an attempt to enter the parking structure.

Marion then directed the potting process, causing near exhaustion and dehydration in all of us. That girl is a slavedriver! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. That is a metaphor—an apple tree is about the only item we left behind at the Home Depot. While we potted the plants and Marion prohibited anyone from taking even a five second rest, Charlie carted away the trash we generated and was caught gazing longingly at the AAA guidebook that he left on the kitchen counter in the apartment.

The result was fantastic! The three of us and Marion’s friend Bryan did not require any direct medical attention, the patio is worthy of Architectural Digest, we were able to have Marion’s friends over on Sunday night for a cookout, and our muscles did not get really sore for another two days. Success!

We are now home. Charlie has donated the tour books to the library, and we will be sending in payments to the credit card company for months. But as any of you who are parents out there know, no investment gives better returns than an investment in one’s children.

I mused about this one all the way home on the plane. Life is a series of connections, and the most important ones, between parents and children, can all too often fracture. Our other most important connection to our spouses, invariably ends with one partner living on without the other. I vowed last night to hold on to my lifelines with all my strength. But I also made a promise to myself to become as independent as possible, while continuously looking outward for new experiences and people.


Friday, August 28, 2009


Our life here at the homestead is usually uneventful. But when something happens, it always turns into a saga. The latest unfolded on a seemingly uneventful morning. As usual, Charlie was hard at work communicating with 2000 of his closest friends on the computer. I was engaged in my usual activity for the early morning: drinking coffee in my PJ’s and reading the paper.

Suddenly, we both noticed an odd thing: our five cats were lined up in front of the glass fireplace doors, mesmerized, looking just like five guys at a bar watching Monday Night Football on the big screen. “OH MY GOD, THERE IS SOMETHING IN THERE!” I exclaimed. Charlie then assumed a position behind the cats, and peered in. “I think it is a small animal of some kind, maybe a raccoon.”

I assumed a position behind the cats and Charlie. IT MOVED. In my fright, I goosed Charlie, who stumbled forward. As we jostled about, spilling coffee and stubbing our toes on the decorative stonework around the hearth, we both realized that the animal in question was a little bird. A darling little sparrow.

“He can’t fly back up the chimney! How will he get out?” I wailed. As calm as ever, Charlie pragmatically answered, “When he dies in there, then I can get him out.”

“WHAT? You CAN’T let that poor little thing DIE! We have to get him out!”

Charlie pointed out the obvious. Getting the bird out would most certainly entail his death anyway, with five lethal felines just waiting for the moment to strike as soon as the glass fireplace doors opened. So we spent fifteen minutes chasing cats, capturing them, and locking them in the basement.

Back to the fireplace. ME: “Can we just reach in there and get him?” CHARLIE: “Are you kidding? As soon as we open the doors, he will fly out and we will never catch him.” ME: “Then let’s get the cats back in here. They won’t let him get far!” CHARLIE: “Are you an idiot? I thought you didn’t want the bird to die!”

Next idea. Armed with duct tape and a large garden and leaf bag, we affixed the bag tightly around the entire fireplace opening with the tape. Genius! We then managed to pry the glass doors open without disturbing the bag. And we waited. After ten minutes, it dawned on us that sparrows are not stupid enough to fly into black bags.

Back to square one. CHARLIE: “Get the cats out here. Let’s let them catch it, and then we can snatch it from them.” ME: “Who will be the snatcher?” The answer was obvious. I put on gloves, long sleeves for pecking protection, and let the cats out. We had a moment of silence, and then ripped off the trash bag.

I opened the door. The little bird, scared out of his mind, stared at me, and I at him. Suddenly, he made a break for it, and I grabbed him. The gloves came up empty. Before I could even register surprise, chaos ensued! Charlie, who never let go of his coffee cup during the entire proceedings, gestured wildly with said cup, flinging coffee all over the rug. I dashed wildly about, but the bird landed on the top of the armoire next to the sofa.

But our intrepid Bengal cat Salami (that is ANOTHER story) reverted to the wild at that very moment! Faster than a speeding cheetah, he LEAPT from the floor to the top of the armoire in a single bound. The bird was in Salami’s jaws!

Fast, fast, fast—I shook off the gloves, ran down the front hall after the cat, turned right into the TV room, emerged back into the living room. I was panting, sweating, and swearing. Charlie watched in amazement as I deftly grabbed the cat. Rushing to Charl, holding the cat at arm’s length, I shouted, “GET THE BIRD, GET THE BIRD, BEFORE HE DROPS IT!!”

Charlie, whose reaction time was never fast, even before he had a stroke, remained holding his empty coffee mug. He seemed stunned. So I had to revert to the wild myself! The cavewoman in me came out, and I swung the cat around, pinned him to the handwoven antique Persian rug my mother-in-law gave me, and with ONE GLOVELESS HAND, snatched the hapless bird. Running towards the front door, shrieking, brought Charlie to his senses, and he rushed to open it.

SUCCESS. I flung the bird to freedom. Relieved, I sank into a chair. Charlie looked at me with undisguised admiration. He gazed at me for a few moments, and then asked the question:

“How do you think she got in there in the first place? Do you suppose there is a nest up there?”


My mother gave me lots of advice. I have remembered much of it and used little of it. Mothers in my Mom’s day were concerned with what might happen to you if you suddenly had to go to the emergency room: WHAT WOULD THOSE DOCTORS THINK IF THEY DISCOVERED A SAFTETY PIN HOLDING YOUR BRA STRAP TOGETHER? As a Mother myself, I today’s world much more complicated, and the issues I nag my daughters about are MUCH more fraught!

Do you have to wear those eight inch heels? Podiatrists all over the world are profiting from this trend. Do men REALLY like women who are well over six feet tall? I you keep this up, by the time you are thirty, you will be a cripple, I guarantee you!

Do you have to send a text message every twenty seconds? Are your friends that needy? Or that lonely? What do you all TELL each other all the time? Why is it better to text than to talk? And you could DIE if you do it while driving!

Who invented pub crawls? Yes, I taught you to set goals. But what is the purpose of deliberately setting out to get drunk, flash your boobs, give lap dances to strangers, and then want to DIE the next morning? Is there a benefit to this that I am missing somehow?

What is the difference between downloading and UPLOADING? Do you need worms to go phishing? Is autosense anything close to COMMON sense? And if a HASH TAG is what I think it is, you better NOT be IT in that game!

Believe me when I tell you that having a career is great, but having a CHILD is greater. That biological clock thing is REAL. And really, the fact that it is possible for fifty year old women to gestate successfully HELPS THEIR MOTHERS NOT AT ALL. I would like to have a grandchild that I would be young enough to pick up, and still sane enough to recognize! By the time you are in your forties, I will be closing in on wearing diapers myself!

Really, the whole concept of multi-tasking has just gone too far. I know your generation is brilliant, competitive, and driven. But texting while driving, using your blackberry and your computer simultaneously, eating your lunch at the dry cleaners, and working on your Master’s thesis while on the treadmill just seems counter productive to me.

Remember to set some time aside for family. Book clubs, teams in training, yes, BLOGS, Ebay, eco tourism, TiVo, and fantasy football are all very important aspects of your life. But walking around the block with your Dad, emailing your sister, sitting around at Thanksgiving for just one more helping of potatoes, and calling home once a week are essential building blocks of life. Remember that thing about smelling roses?

Well, we have some unbelievable rose bushes here in our yard! Want to come over and have a whiff?


Raindrops on roses are fine. Whiskers on kittens are adorable. But COME ON. Who in their right mind would put these on a list of their favorites? It is time to revise that old saw and get REAL. Today’s world has turned so many times since Julie Andrews climbed that mountain! Here are a few of MY favorite things:

Central air conditioning. How in heaven’s name has mankind done without it? And now, with global warming? I can’t even imagine how pioneer women got through menopause.

Target. In one place, there is everything a person could want. In one day, at one place, I can stock up on underwear, coffee filters, popcorn, dental floss, patio furniture, M and M’s, and Swiffer Wet Jet refills. It is as near to achieving Nirvana as I will ever get.

The microwave oven. Without this, life on earth would grind to a halt. People would be late for work, waiting for water to boil for coffee. Long lines would form at take out windows. Families would miss soccer practices and be late for church. The company that makes Pizza Rolls would go out of business. My God, the ENTIRE ECONOMY would suffer!

CAKE. And if it is chocolate, with butter cream icing, I would commit a CRIME to get some.

Pets. I don’t trust people who don’t like animals. I cannot fathom a life without them. Siamese cats are the very best. They think they rule the world. Second to Siamese are cats of any variety, shape or size, as long as the purr mechanism is in working order. Dogs are best when mixed of breed, about to be eliminated at the shelter, and forever grateful to you for rescuing them. Pets give you love, courage, and renewed faith in living. Plus furballs on the carpet, scuff marks on the hardwood, and a crowded bed at night.

Self tanning lotion. Oh, my gosh, did you know about this stuff? Those days of turning orange after two applications are gone! Now I can wear Capri pants proudly! A word of caution, however—the warning on the label about washing hands after applying is still of utmost importance.

Shout wipes. These must have been invented for the Baby Boomer generation. With our eyesight going and our eye/hand coordination on the decline, eating at a restaurant can be MIGHTY EMBARRASSING! But now, just whip one of these out of your pocket or purse, and in seconds, that salad dressing will vanish from the front of your shirt!

Cell phones.
Now I can call my daughters from ANYWHERE, ANYTIME! I can have a conversation in the checkout line at Walgreen’s! I can contact my gynecologist while filling my car up with gas! I can have my own unique ringtone, and since I am so old and hearing impaired, I can set the volume up real high—so that EVERYONE at the grocery store can hear “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes when I get a call! And with Twitter, I can tell the world what I am doing every minute, all the time!

Finally, HERE IS A NOTE TO MY HUSBAND: The above listing is a small compendium of things that I love, but as far as YOU are concerned, just one thing counts:


Sunday, August 23, 2009


I have passions. I don’t just like things, I LOVE THEM. And why waste calories disliking something, when you can HATE it? Some people say I am a drama queen. I disagree. I simply KNOW MY OWN MIND. Here are some of the many things I simply despise:

Bad grammar. As a career English teacher, I spent twenty years in the trenches, battling improper pronoun reference, subject verb disagreements, dangling participles, mixed metaphors, tense shift, and sentence fragments. It was a losing battle and a lost cause. Of course, the fact that I commit many of the crimes I so valiantly sought to punish is beside the point. Totally.

Bad manners. Don’t stack your dishes at a restaurant. Cover your mouth when you cough. Don’t interrupt, for heaven’s sakes. Put your napkin IN YOUR LAP. If you get a present, send a thank you note! If someone has a black eye, DON’T ask how it happened! And geesh—stop staring!

Cooking every day is a pain. For the life of me, when people say that they RELAX by cooking, I simply don’t get it! How can peeling, chopping, measuring, proofing, stuffing, basting, skinning, straining, boning, and bain marie-ing be RELAXING? Is following a recipe that has fifteen steps remotely enjoyable? How did Julie Powell do it? How did Julia CHILD do it? Why does anyone do it, except for restaurant chefs and Stouffers?

I hate packing for trips. Will it be sunny and hot, or chilly? Should I take a sweater? Will I need something dressy? Should I take two or three pairs of shoes? Will I look like a tourist if I wear sneakers? Are Capri pants considered stylish in New York City? Do they wear leggings in London? How can I leave town for ten days with just ONE suitcase? Why is it my husband can go anywhere, for any duration, with just a carry on?

Chain letters. Guilt, guilt, guilt! It is my fault that there is no cure for cancer, that world peace is still a faint hope, and that my family is not rich beyond our wildest dreams. If only I had taken the time to forward that email on to ten people, or copy that chain letter and buy stamps in order to send it on! I have to live with this every day. No wonder I can’t sleep at night!

Hardware stores are the pits. OMG, there is simply NOTHING for me to buy at a hardware store! How my husband can spend hours in one is a mystery to me! And those big box home stores are worse! Grills, lawnmowers, storm windows, grouting, weather stripping, power tools—the list goes on and on, and on, and ON. We go in for a dowel, and an HOUR later, we are still browsing. The only thing worse than a hardware store is a COMPUTER store….

Small talk. I can’t make small talk for the LIFE of me! How do people navigate parties successfully? I can never think of anything to ASK anyone. Is it because I see a room full of strangers and want to keep it that way? I just can’t seem to muster up any enthusiasm for chatting up unfamiliar folks. I don’t want to know what they do, where they live, how many kids they have, who they voted for, what their stand is on health care, what surgeries they have had lately, if they eat organic food, or if they have ever run a marathon. Sartre had it ALMOST right. “Hell is other people.”


Sunday, August 16, 2009


I am not fat. Not any more. I didn’t realize I had GOTTEN fat. I just thought that Target had started skimping in their sizing practices. I could deny it no longer the day my husband noted that I had “lumberjack arms.” So I joined Weight Watchers. I lost thirty pounds. Do you think it was EASY? Heck, no. Did I cheat? Hell, yes. Did I learn some things? You can be the judge:

Be stalwart at the Dairy Queen. A small swirl cone is seven WW points. And it can be satisfying. However, it is much MORE satisfying to order that cone, but at the same time, sample as much of your husband’s hot fudge sundae as you can before he gets annoyed with you. This ups your happiness quotient and only adds one or two more points to your daily total.

Beware of Weight Watchers dessert products. They give you GAS. I learned this the hard way by eating them after lunch at work and then observing the anguish of my co-workers….

Exercise, exercise, exercise. I have become addicted to Spinning. Not only does it make you sweat like crazy and burn 600+ calories an hour, but it makes you feel extremely virtuous. If you begin riding an exercise bike for ten minutes a session and keep adding on minutes, within about six months you can take your first Spinning class. Spinning teachers are invariably young, perky, fit, and enthusiastic. By enduring one of their classes, you will feel as if you have climbed Everest and survived. You might also want to slap the instructor. Nevertheless, after taking classes for a few months, you will wonder how you survived without a bike between your legs. If you catch my drift….

Eat the same thing every day for breakfast and lunch. If you limit your consumption at those two meals, you will have enough calories left each day for a satisfying dinner. If by satisfying you mean a piece of chicken, some broccoli, butter spray, and a fist-size helping of rice. However, by doing this, you will still have calories/points left over for the most important nutritional part of the day: DESSERT. As far as I am concerned, the person who invented COOL WHIP FREE deserves the Nobel Prize. Cool Whip Free can make just about anything taste good. I have even considered putting it on a piece of toast, but I haven’t gone quite that far.

Keep busy. They say that if you get hungry, take a walk. I could never do that, due to exhaustion from my Spinning class. What would I do instead? I found that sitting on the sofa and watching people on TV exercise was diverting. And if that didn’t work, I found that shaking my arms wildly about took my mind off my hunger. If you try this, be sure that the curtains are shut. Neighbors witnessing this hunger diversion might jump to erroneous conclusions about your mental health. Another thing that took my mind hunger was arguing with my husband. Nothing makes a dieting wife madder than her husband FLAUNTING forbidden snacks. If I told him once, I told him a hundred times: “IF YOU INSIST ON EATING THOSE MALTED MILK BALLS, DO IT IN THE BASEMENT!”

Curb those spiteful thoughts! It might console you to know that every single dieting woman in the world has wanted to issue death threats to Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman, but these thoughts are simply not productive.

Forgive yourself for transgressions. If I beat myself up for every scoop of Jamocha Almond Fudge that I ate while dieting, I would be in intensive care. If you eat something you shouldn’t, remember that TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY. Tomorrow, however, does come, and you must go back to good habits. This gets easier as time goes on. I said EASIER, not EASY.

Reward yourself for making progress. Food is not a good reward here. For me, the best reward for losing weight was a quick trip to Target, where you can get a really cute purse for very little money! Also at Target are bargain t-shirts and cute pants. But don’t get those, because you will soon need a smaller size!

Stick with it, no matter what. Did you GAIN weight this week? I know the feeling. Did you skip going to the gym? I have done that. Did you binge on thin mint Girl Scout cookies? Done that. Did you have a glass of wine with dinner four nights in a row? Been there. Did you catch a glimpse of yourself in a store window and wonder who that puffy stranger was? Me too. But in spite of all that, I kept at it, and today, when I look in store windows, I no longer see that puffy woman.

I see a thin OLD woman!

Monday, August 10, 2009


The older I get, the more I appreciate the person who wrote that book about Mars and Venus. Not that I read the book, but evidently the author pointed out that men and women are so different that it isn’t even funny. After almost 40 years of marriage, I still don’t understand the opposite sex. So what is it with men, anyway?

Friendship. For women, a friend is a lifeline, someone to share problems with. Women are good sounding boards. Women lunch with their friends, talk on the phone with their friends, babysit for their friends, laugh with their friends, and weep with their friends. Men don’t really have friends, but they have CRONIES. Cronies share sports, cigars, and poker.

Entertainment. For women, a wonderful evening consists of a beautiful dinner with candles, and a romantic movie. Alternatively, women enjoy drives in the country, shopping, picnics, and anything involving other women. Men enjoy watching sports on TV, scratching themselves, repairing cars, and anything involving tools.

Humor. Is there any woman, anywhere, who thinks that “The Three Stooges” are funny?

Gifts. I don’t even know where to BEGIN on this one! I feel I can speak for most women here. For us, the perfect gift involves jewels, perfume, anything associated with fashion or containing a thread count of over 300. Here are some examples of gifts that my friends and I have received from our husbands: socks, bed pillows, car caddies, Tupperware, “The Autobiography of Ann Heche,” birdseed, and AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH. Need I say more?

Tourism. To me the perfect vacation consists of an exciting city, a beautiful hotel with Frette sheets, wonderful food, theatre, and it goes without saying—SHOPPING. For my husband and many men, the perfect vacation includes lots of brochures about local attractions such as caverns, tractor pulls, civil war monuments, suspension bridges, and industrial museums. For me, to be seen on a street corner of an exotic city with a new purse hanging on my shoulder is exciting. For Charlie, the thrill involves hanging both regular and digital cameras around his neck, stuffing his pockets with maps, and standing on that same street corner peering intently at a guidebook. The highlight of our last vacation was our excursion (thanks to one of those brochures) to see the world’s largest concrete horseshoe crab.

Driving. For women, getting in the car is a means to the Mall. For men, the car is a gift from God. The faster the car, the better, apparently. No matter that we have speed limits in this country—just the fact that a car has the POTENTIAL to go over a hundred miles an hour is a reason to own it. Accessories? To me, that means a stainless steel and gold watch, diamond studs, and a Coach bag. To Charlie it means side pipes, white walls, a custom paint job, and mini moons.

But here is the thing: why are men so CUTE

Friday, August 7, 2009


One of my favorite blogs is "Snowbell's Handmade Jewelry." I am Nathalie's guest blogger today and tomorrow! Please visit me in ENGLAND by clicking on the Snowbell link. You will find it on the left side of my blog, second on the list of "my blogs." I will be in England (cyberly speaking) for a day or two. I am also on vacation until Monday, July 10. Look for a new post here on Monday! THANKS, NATHALIE!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I love peace and quiet. I admire good taste, old money, and fine art. I watch “Masterpiece Theatre,” read Agatha Christie, and spend lots of time on the First Dibs website. Edith Wharton, Louisa May Alcott, and Katherine Hepburn are all icons. I am striving for a cozy and calm lifestyle. If only I lived in an English village, with views of hedgerows and dovecotes! Or maybe a house by the sea, with moors, gulls, and mist!

Instead, I live in a regular house, in a typical American city, and I have the usual daily routine. But I have discovered ways to enhance my little world, and I am on the road to a highly civilized and genteel existence. This lifestyle has the following requirements:

Purring cats. What goes best with chintz, stained glass, paneled libraries, and Aubusson carpets? At least one fat and lazy cat, lounging on a cushion somewhere. I have five of them (cats, not cushions), and I find them to be soothing beyond belief. Never mind all the hairballs, claw marks, and cat litter. Cats are nature’s tranquilizers!

The fireside. Not just a fire PLACE. Oh, no—the fireside conjures up so many images: warmth, security, old ladies and their tatting, afternoon visitors and gossipy conversations. I light a fire as soon as the temperature outside allows, and it burns all winter long. While sitting and tatting, one must also have things served on trays. Tea is of the essence here. Scones, cucumber sandwiches, and toast with marmite (despite its horrible flavor) are required.

Books. No room is really comfortable without books. Kindles just don’t cut the mustard—only the beautiful spines of REAL BOOKS scattered about. Technology has not been able to replace the comfortable aspect of settling down in a puffy chair, surrounded by books. Magazines are also very nice. Stacks of magazines give a contemporary and cluttered air to a room. But one must pay attention to the KINDS of books and magazines! Paperbacks are a no-no! And for heaven’s sakes! Limit those subscriptions—if you must read “People,” hide it in the nightstand! Put the “Town and Country” on the coffee table.

Afghans. Dogs are nice, but here I am referring to the kind of throw your mother used to crochet. Comfortable and old world as they are, afghans are simply required elements of the cozy lifestyle. If they match the furniture, much the better. However, throws of any kind are preferable to the naked sofa or wing chair. Another necessary accessory, as mentioned before, is the pillow. I have found that the more pillows one stacks on the bed, the sofa, and the floor, the more comfortable and cozy the room. For some reason, husbands HATE pillows, but I digress….

Tatters. Why do Americans need to have everything BRAND SPANKING NEW? As much as I like Ikea, I have learned that the old world lifestyle requires that everything be just a little worn around the edges. New things have no soul. Scuffs and spots enhance your furnishings! Pet hair gives things a certain je ne c’est quois!

Croquet and lemonade in the garden. Once again, a lesson in terminology: if you call it a YARD, the area has no charm whatsoever. A GARDEN, on the other hand, is charming even with weeds, dog poo and uneven topography. To spend time in the garden with friends, a classic drink and balls and wickets is the height of elegant old world living.

Meals at odd times. What is more elegant—lunch or ELEVENSES? Dinner or TEA? I would much rather stuff myself with little cakes and small sandwiches at four than eat fish sticks and tater tots at six thirty! What were Americans thinking? As for drinking, which would YOU rather have—a slug of beer, or a nice glass of sherry?

So take heart—you too can live a vintage lifestyle…

Now I have to return the Proust that I almost finished to the library.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Global warming looms. There are mounds and mounds of detritus in the landfills. The greenhouse effect threatens. Acid rain, radon, toxic waste! What is a person to do? I have some answers. These are not the traditional guidelines that one can find on the internet or from trendy TV shows! Oh, no. Here are some easy to follow tips for helping to save the earth that ANYONE can do! And you can start right away!

Revisit your junk drawer. In my junk drawer alone, there are enough rubber bands and paper clips to furnish three office buildings. I have discovered enough Scotch tape and labels to get me through next Christmas. This is what recycling is all about.

Toxic chemicals in cleaning products? Not a problem in my house! When things get dusty, I use the palm of my hand in a simple circular motion. Spots on the linoleum? A little spit on a paper towel does the trick. Worried about the additives in Swiffers poisoning your dog? Just slide around the hall in your socks, and presto! Dustballs eliminated, Fido none the worse!

Worried about the adverse effect of pesticides? I used to. But now I discourage those pesky insects in an eco friendly way. I STEP ON THEM. I find that the bigger the bug, the more satisfaction I derive from stepping on it. Lady bugs in the bathroom? Fun. Moths on the back porch? More fun. Spiders on the kitchen floor? A thrill. A CICADA on my doorstep? ORGASMIC.

What about air pollution? Hybrid cars, using corn in gasoline, carpooling, and taking the propellant out of spray cans—that is all well and good. I do my part, though, in a much smaller way: I hold my breath for a minimum of one minute a day. This may not help save the ozone layer, but if everyone did it, just think of all the oxygen that would suddenly become available! The world would be a better place.

Have you measured your carbon footprint? I personally have been hearing a lot about this footprint idea lately. I don’t really understand it. I think it has something to do with energy consumption, the ugly American, too much sex on TV, using disposable diapers, charring food on the grill until it is blackened, and forgetting to unplug appliances when not in use. To reduce my personal carbon footprint, I have taken drastic measures: I walk more. I use a tea bag two times. I use the vacuum cleaner very sparingly. I try to cook as little as possible. Instead of using paper plates, I now make my husband wash the dishes.

With gas prices the way they are, we all have to drive less. I have cut my gasoline consumption by subscribing to Netflix, having my pizza delivered rather than picking it up myself, administering AT HOME facials, gossiping over the phone instead of in person, and limiting my trips to the Mall to once a week.

If everyone would light just one little candle, what a bright world this could be!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


As we age, we become wiser. The older I become, the more truths stare me in the face. I feel it is imperative for me to write them down. I want to share them with the world. Secondarily, if I don’t write them down, at my age, I am liable to forget them! So here goes:

You truly cannot judge a book by its cover. Beautiful people can be horribly ugly inside. So why do the rest of us spend so much time trying for physical perfection? The money that I have spent on make up and Slim Fast bars would save the economy! And my gym memberships alone could fund a small third world country. I am sure that I am not alone in this…but then I remember the wonderful man in front of me at the check out line who stepped aside, the time worn woman at the farmer’s market who gave me extra tomatoes free, and for heaven’s sakes, SUSAN BOYLE!

Time goes faster as you age. When my kids were little, the time between early June and when school began again WAS AN ETERNITY. As the days dragged along, my two bored and fractious children challenged me at every turn to entertain and distract them from the sheer ennui of summer vacation. Today, they are adults with their own lives, and summer comes and goes before I even have time to get all the screens washed!

The older one gets, the poorer the digestion. I have one word for all people over the age of 40 who insist upon eating baked beans, coleslaw, raw onions, and garlic: BEANO.

Very young and very beautiful people often have nothing AT ALL to say. We all know this. So why do virtually ALL men who get divorced marry second wives at least twenty years younger than they are? Could it be that great conversation is overrated?

Sixty is today’s forty. My God, at this rate, we will achieve immortality within one or two generations! We eat right, we exercise, we read self help books, we know the value of stress reduction. Fountain of youth? Or just Botox and frequent exfoliation?

No pain, no gain. This one has been debunked by exercise physiologists. The rest of us will tell you that if you live a full life, it will be painful. Without pain, how would we know when happiness hits us?

The way to a man’s heart is via his stomach. Not. If that were true, why would there be a Victoria’s Secret or Sports Illustrated? Why would the NBA players earn so much money? Do wives worry about that twenty-something girl in the next apartment, or the chef that lives down the hall?

Chocolate might be able to cure cancer. Until someone proves this, I put blind faith in the healing powers of hot fudge sundaes.

Everyone has a story. As you trudge through your day, worrying about whatever threatens you at the moment, don’t forget that the meter maid has her troubles, the letter carrier may be in the throes of a horrid divorce, that the person who cut you off in traffic may have just lost his/her job. That rude waitress may have a dry socket! Go ahead, and give her the benefit of the doubt and twenty percent. You might be saving her life!

Having pets can lower your blood pressure. If this is true, our family must be barely able to stand up. Between the four of us, we have thirteen cats, one dog, and three horses. Our blood pressures are great, but the bills for kibble, Frontline, alfalfa, veterinarians and catnip mice are KILLING US.

If life hands out lemons, wise people make lemonade. My dear husband, a stroke victim who had to learn how to speak, write, and understand language all over again, has been making lemonade for years. His recipe? Work very hard, make a new friend every day, laugh at yourself, and when your wife makes fun of you, REVEL IN IT!

Oh yes, and eating that apple every day is very good insurance…

Friday, July 17, 2009


I am no different than the rest of the world. I like to be noticed. I am vain. I wear makeup every day. I think I have something to say. I BLOG, for Pete’s sake. But I have never before been so fulfilled! I JOINED FACEBOOK.

I know, you are saying that Facebook is old news. Every person under the age of forty has a Facebook page. Craig’s List, Twitter, Ebay, Etsy, they are all out there as a way for people to link up. I have used them all, but until I joined Facebook, I had no idea how wonderful life could be. For people over fifty, Facebook can enrich our lives in so many ways:

Who needs high school or college reunions? In order to go to one of these, you have to make plane reservations, go on a diet, get a whole new hairdo, use that spray tan stuff, and make up a whole new and more interesting set of facts about yourself. Reinventing yourself in this way is expensive, laborious, and can lead to Botox, the cabbage soup diet, and reevaluating your husband. With Facebook, all you have to do is post a picture of yourself from twenty years ago, spice up your profile with some good old fashioned fibs, and wait for the action. No sweat!

Do you want new friends?
It is very important for older Americans to maintain social contacts. As the Boomers age, social challenges abound. Cocktail parties require a lot of standing, and that is hard on the knees. It is hard to remember everyone’s name at the block party. Dressing up in order to meet people seems to be way too much of an effort. But with Facebook, you can interact with hundreds of folks WHILE SITTING ON THE SOFA IN YOUR UNDERWEAR!

What about your last vacation? Have you had to sit through an unending evening looking at a multi media show of your best friends’ latest trip to Dogcollar Gulch, Arizona? Encourage them to join Facebook and post all of their photo albums there! No more boring evenings! And you can SKIM through those albums at the speed of light, and POST AN ADMIRING COMMENT! It’s a win-win situation!

We Boomers want to keep our fingers on the pulse of America. This gets harder and harder as we age. Our own kids don’t want to talk to us. People under the age of 40 don’t trust us. How then, do we know what concerns the younger generation? How do we relate to them? Facebook! That is where American youth document what they eat, where they go, who they go with, how many Martinis they drink, who they hook up with, what time they get home, how many times they barf, and they INCLUDE PICTURES OF ALL OF IT!

And finally, have you ever been internationally famous? Of course not. But it sure seems like it on Facebook! I have a page that is all about me! It has my picture on it, only the most flattering details, and some of my most scintillating ideas. I can say whatever I want there, and no one interrupts me! I can look at it whenever I want to! And if I don’t want you to visit me, I can block your access. All of this with just the click of a key!


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