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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Alfredo Away!

My husband thinks fully cooked meals spring ready-made from the oven like Venus rising from the foam, but with gravy.  I don’t know how he survived eight years of bachelorhood before he met me, but I do know why he wore pants that would be relaxed-fit on Paris Hilton, and why his eyes glaze over with that faraway look when we drive past Burger King. 

These days he’s making up for all the meals he missed by hanging out in the kitchen, waiting to see if the Pillsbury Dough Boy appears from the swirling mists in the freezer.  It’s like watching a toddler get ready for a visit from Santa. Everybody thinks they’ve been good enough to get a prize.

“What did you eat before we got married?” I quizzed one day as he stared into the empty tea pitcher like a motherless calf.

“Tuna casserole,” he answered, prodding a package of frozen hamburger in hopes it might turn magically into meatloaf.

“You ate tuna casserole for eight years?”

“No, I had the same tuna casserole in the freezer for eight years.  I got custody in the divorce.  Every night I had to figure out what to do so I wouldn’t have to eat it.  I know the nutrition information for every item on the fast food market.”

At least I don’t have to worry about any fond feelings left toward his first wife.  The woman did things to tuna that I couldn’t do to scrap metal without heavy-duty equipment.  She didn’t use serving spoons.  It took the jaws of life to separate the one that didn’t get away from the casserole dish.

It makes my life easy.  If I defrost cinnamon buns in the microwave, he thinks they’re homemade.  I hate to tell him, but if I can’t rake something out of a jar with a Rubbermaid spatula, I’m not going to be serving it for supper.  It could be a 55-gallon drum full of creamed spinach, if somebody else made it, I'm ringing the dinner bell with my best happy homemaker smile in place.
To me, it's not a recipe if it doesn't say Heat and Eat.

When I discovered Alfredo sauce in a jar, I was more excited than a Brownie Scout on cookie delivery day.  While I understand that I’m not going to find fettuccine Alfredo tacked up on the doctor’s bulletin board as one of your top ten heart healthy foods, it’s part of a meal that everyone in my family will eat, which goes a long way towards making it a food priority in my house.  Add some grilled chicken and everybody’s happy.  

I popped a couple of jars of the white stuff into my buggy at Wal-Mart and wheeled innocently down the aisle, full of the peaceful conviction that comes from providing a good meal for a loving and happy family. 

Later that evening, while my back was turned, the beast, heady with the freedom that comes from release from captivity, shattered the air with a mighty blast and attacked.  I screamed.

The children ran to the kitchen like the population of Tokyo pouring in to see Godzilla.

“Did you start another fire?”

Alfredo covered the front on the stove like a dust ruffle.  I had spatters up my sleeve and a striking Picasso-esque design on my Snoopy sweatshirt.

Kid One: “Is supper ready?”

Kid Two: “Supper can’t be ready.  The smoke detector’s not going off.”

Kid One:  “The batteries wore out.”

Just then the beast attacked again, rising from the depths of the superheated Alfredo like a milky Kraken rising from the ocean floor.  This time I was prepared.  No towering wall of Alfredo is going to threaten my family without me beating it into submission with a serving spoon and the lid to a two-quart boiler.  “Run, kids, run!”

Heating supper from a jar should not require escalation of the National Defense Warning System.

My husband sauntered around the corner, hands in pockets.  “Need some help?”

“Sure.  Do we have the Chef Emeril or the Marines on speed dial?”

The lid on the pot behind him rattled like a teenager’s knees at quarter past curfew.  He whisked the pot off the stove, poured the contents into a bowl and added a paper plate lid, then tucked the whole thing into the microwave.  Slamming the door with a flourish, he performed the beep-boop medley on the keypad that told the microwave to cook Alfredo sauce.

He grinned.  “Once you’ve been face to face with an eight year old tuna casserole, you’re not afraid of anything.”

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Little Boy Gone on 9/11

By Carole Conner Oldroyd on Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 3:05pm.  Reposted with permission

I post this every 9/11.  I made a promise to myself and to this little boy's memory that I would never forget him.

This is Rodney Dickens. He was only 11 years old when he lost his life on September 11, 2001. He will forever be the face I see when I think of that terrible day.

When photos started streaming in on TV after the terrorist attack, his little face struck me. I began to wonder about him. As a mother whose kids were close to Rodney's age at that time, so many things ran through my mind.

My first thought was, "Who was with this little boy? Was he traveling alone?" My boys had flown alone several times.

My heart broke when I wondered if he knew what was about to happen; that his life was about to come to an end. Did anyone put their arms around him, or did he face the those final moments as alone as any human being could ever be? Did he cry? Was he afraid? Did anyone hold his hand? Did he pray for God to rescue him? Did he have dreams, goals, plans for his future? Was he even old enough to begin dreaming of what he would do when he was all grown up?

When I began researching to find out who little Rodney was, I learned that he was, indeed, without his parents. He was traveling with classmates. Again, parental instincts crept in and I sobbed thinking about his mother and his father. Were they watching as this all happened? How devastatingly helpless must have been the feeling, knowing that they were powerless to protect their child from the wickedness of these terrorists. I have had nightmares about Rodney crying for his parents in the seconds before his life was brutally stolen away on what should have been a day filled with joy.

And then my emotions turned to rage. Correlations between this innocent child and my own children filled me with so much anger, knowing that the terrorists would not have cared if my children were on that plane. Regard for precious human life was tossed aside like an unwanted object by those . . . I'm sorry, I cannot use the word "people". In fact, I don't have any other word for them besides terrorists. I feel that nothing appropriate even exists in the English language.

As I write this, my arms are covered in goose bumps. My eyes are filled with tears. This child. This sweet-faced little boy lost his life before he even had a chance to begin living.

Rodney, I never knew you. But I love you. With all of my heart, I love you.

As long as I live, you will never be forgotten.



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Welcome to Heidi - From Psychics to Skinny Chicks

Because I can’t leave anything alone if there’s a chance I can poke it with a stick and come up with another punchline, I’ve been pondering the Koo Koo for Cocoa Puffs chapter in Welcome to Heidi, the new Heidi Clements fictional (Sure, there’s a few embellishments. Nobody wants their life story to read like a peel-off coupon) memoir. 

After checking out the relationship with her psychic (“who may or may not kill things in order to make my dreams come true”), I can’t help thinking there are probably times in all of our lives when we would take a chance with somebody who could steer us to Prince Charming. . .or away from that investment in kitten ear muffs.  Or who could silence that coworker who orders personal products on her cell phone. In the cubicle next to you. During your lunchtime tuna salad break.

So here are a few times I could use a psychic to move things along. Don’t lie; you can think of a few times, too.  Remember when you were extra-pregnant and your brother-in-law said you looked like an overloaded washtub. . .

1.      I really need to pass the test to secure my major in Business Ethics and I’ve just discovered that downing tequila shots the night before is not a viable study aid.

2.      When I really need a raise to buy the dress that will make me look like Kate Upton on her best day and it would help speed things along if I knew the true relationship between my boss and the Vending Machine Supervisor.

3.      When my lifelong adversary is receiving the achievement award I’ve already written my acceptance speech for and I want to wear the same dress in a size smaller to the recognition dinner.

4.      When my ex-husband, The Defendant, is escorting the 24 year old beautician with the Taylor Swift hair to dinner at “our” restaurant and I want to know where he parked because I still have the spare key to his car.

5.      When the lottery is topping out at 500 million and I’m trying to decide whether to go for groceries or spring for the extra buck to Power Up the ticket I just snagged at the Zippy Mart.

6.      My niece/nephew/other impressionable child just heard my opinion of the driver who careened into my lane and put on brakes and I need to make sure he doesn’t share my views during tea with the Ladies’ Bible class.

7.      I’m on Let’s Make a Deal and don’t want to miss out on the Big Deal of the Day because I am in desperate need of a trip to Tahiti and a bass boat.

8.      I’m at my class reunion and can’t figure out who the skinny chick is who keeps harping on “that great time we had at Nag’s Head.”

9.      I can’t tell which clothes are in the “semi-soiled but still fits” pile and which is the “clean, but Twiggy couldn’t get in to it” stack and I don’t want to risk a deal-breaker by putting on a dress that could double as a personal massager.

10.  I want a chicken for supper and need somebody with experience in making that happen.







Saturday, August 16, 2014

Welcome to Heidi!

If books were attractions at DisneyLand, Heidi Clement’s book, Welcome to Heidi” would be Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Her experiences are hand-picked from the kind of blog posts that make us realize how exciting, exuberant, and downright entertaining life can be – if you gaze at it through kaleidoscope-colored glasses.  Let’s focus today on Chapter Three, the one I like to call the “Koo-Koo for Cocoa Puffs” Chapter.

There are times in everyone’s life when they need a psychic. 

Okay, maybe it’s just me and it’s not need in the same way that you need to have a drippy chocolate doughnut or someone’s going to lose an arm, but you’d really like to know how events around the corner are going to play out, and could sure use the wisdom of someone who can peek into the future and tell you if leggings will go out of style before you lose 50 pounds.

Or if the shoes that are the perfect match for that “I Got a Promotion and You Didn’t” day are going to go on sale before platform pumps become passé.

Life challenges are just part of the fun with Heidi Clements in her hilarious book, Welcome to Heidi, when she takes us along on her long-term relationship with Letty, the psychic.  At thirty-seven bucks a pop, that’s a relationship even I could afford.  

Heidi also checks out her life prospects with Tomo, a Trance Channeler. With all the indecisiveness spread around these days, it’s helpful to know someone who can tell when me when the control-bot I’m dating will try to accessorize my outfit with a gun to my head or that my dream date was once my brother. 

At times like that, hitting the yellow pages for someone like Tomo makes perfect sense. That’s better than confiding in my Aunt Edna who tells me, “Marry a picky eater. You’ll never have to cook.”

Turns out Letty the Psychic hits the bullseye on all the major topics:  Happiness, Money, and Mean People. 

Want to put that old flame who broke your heart in his place? Bam! Need to press the mute button on your neighbor who put the the “psych” in “psycho” and who takes out her hostilities on your  dog who’s a buddy, not a biter? Heel, please. Or else!
Need Letty’s help with a career change?  Heidi’s got the right idea.  “If a chicken has to die in order for me to get the job of a lifetime or the man of my future, then so be it.” 

A breast and a thigh is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

I once had a drunken neighbor who used to sleep in the driveway and kept a goat chained to his heat pump so he wouldn’t have to mow the lawn.

Wonder if I can get Letty’s number.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Trash Talk

Usually by the time there's frost on the Garden Gnomes, I'm ready for summer. This year, I can't wait for winter.

I get e-mails from The Home Depot Garden Club, which is kind of like Jack the Ripper subscribing to Hooters R Us. 

The newest edition to hit my inbox is offering suggestions that will enable me to annihilate plants during the winter months as well as during the balmy days of summer.
I don’t need much help sending plants down the garden path anytime, but it seems like the colder months would serve as beginner level floracide.  However, the experts suggest I plant winter greens at this time.  Since I didn’t plant anything that stayed green in June, I’m looking forward to giving November a try.  Everything will be brown by then, so my yard will fit right in.

My Gardening Guru suggests I plant a nice patch of arugula, which sounds to me like either a choice vacation destination somewhere that serves drinks with a variety of tropical fruit garnishes, or an indication of nasal drainage. 

I’m also supposed to seize the opportunity to divide my perennials.  I’m not entirely sure what perennials are, but there’s talk about a root ball that I wouldn’t bring up in mixed company.

One of the sections described proper care for my power equipment.  I’m not allowed to use a hair dryer without a license.  I cannot imagine a situation where I would be set loose with a leaf blower without an Emergency Responder standing by for immediate action in case my Bermuda grass goes South. 
I did use a string trimmer once to even up the grassy fringe along the driveway.  Now there’s a stone nestled beside a stand of oxymorons that resembles a first grade macramé project.

The Garden Club is adamant that now is the time to begin composting.  I’ve finally found an area where I can excel. 

If piling trash is an avenue to luscious landscaping, I’ve been a master gardener for years.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Go Spot, Go

“Go where?”

“Spotify. You put the client on your desktop and you can listen to anything.”

“That sounds illegal. If I had a client on my desktop the only thing I would hear would be the sound of their lawyer threatening to take my house.”

“Mom. Get real. Nobody would willingly get on your desk.”

Kid One is attempting to enlighten me on the endless musical possibilities the Internet has to offer.  I’m attempting to decipher how the Internet is made up of enough nonsense words for Dr. Seuss to write a novel.

“I was quite a catch in my day.”

“You didn’t have a day. You had a decade of disco.  Besides, nobody would fit on your desk. You collect things.”

“I need everything that’s on that desk.”

“Three pencil cups?”

“They all have special meaning.  The elephant and the clown came from the circus and your aunt stole the flowered cup from a yard sale just for me.”

“It’s STOLEN?” He looks gleeful at the thought of a woman who wouldn’t take an after dinner mint without asking bending the law.

“Well, not technically.  It was hidden inside a coat she bought.”

“My life is a lie. I was raised in a den of thieves.”

“Thanks for the memories.”

“So what about that stack of ratty notebooks?”

“Those are my journals.  Everything from my first kiss to your first diaper is in that stack.”

“Sounds libelous.  Or slanderous.  Or whatever means that if you show them to my friends I’ll have to join the witness protection program.  They have to go.”

“No way. I’d sooner part with my tiara.”

 “That reminds me. Why do you have a tiara on your desk?”

“Why do you listen to Spotify?”

“So I can hear anything I want.  It takes me where ever I want to go.”

I popped the tiara on my head and transported immediately to a faraway island country where I reign as Queen and every inhabitant is over forty years of age and wears an overcoat over their swimsuit. The only sound was that of sales clerks marking clearance prices on boxes of HoHos.

“And with this I can hear what I want.”

“And what’s that?”


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Things Are Looking Up

It came to my attention today as I was blotting up a coffee spill with the Business section of the newspaper that

A)     If they reduce the page size any more, it will be like reading the headlines in the small print section of my Kia contract, and

B)     Rolls Royce, kiddie car of billionaires, is enjoying a boom in sales.

I’m not sure these two findings are unrelated.  Lifestyles vary between the Rolls Royce set and the “I hope it keeps rolling” set. Just look up the prices and you’ll understand the difference.

While newspapers are edging us toward the “squinting is in” theory to conserve money, Rolls Royce is doling out luxury cars like concessionaires deal $10 beers at the ball park.  To those of us still trying to work out a payment plan for the beer, the idea of dashing off a $400,000 check for a car, even one that has tiny overhead lights that make the roof look like a heaven of twinkling stars, would be like stuffing a gold bar into a birthday card for a niece we don’t have time to shop for.  “Can’t get away; buy yourself something nice.”

At the Dubai WalMart.

I realize that there are jobs that come with more perks than mine. What would I do with dental insurance that makes it possible to collect enough teeth to eat toasted pecans, enough time off to catch the red-eye flight to Paris, white-gloved butlers who serve tea with extra lumps?

The last time I got lumps at the office, I was crammed under my desk trying to figure out which wire to jiggle so the mouse would work.  Since I’m the only one there, I would get stuck up with red tape if I filed for Worker’s Comp, so I scolded myself for negligence and stuck a Band-Aid on the sore spot instead.

I’ve never figured out how to get one of those other jobs: jobs that pay dividends instead of money and come with enough compensation that you can hire someone to remember the secret password (Jeeves, what is my mother’s maiden name again?) to your Fandango account. Those are lifestyles and are referred to as something you’re into, not something you do.  (He’s into stocks and bonds or investment banking.)  By comparison, I’m not really into filing six months of committee reports, but I’ll be up to my agenda in paperwork if I don’t.

So it’s not likely that I’ll be pulling up to the office in a Rolls Royce Phantom any time soon.  But you can bet your Silver Shadow I know how to see the twinkling stars in the sky without paying extra.

Just look up.