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Monday, May 20, 2013

Dressed to Stress

There's nothing like stress to make a perfectly good bad day seem even worse.  Join me, my bud Angie - and some friends - over at TranquiliGeek to see how some of us on the quirky side of life battle stress.  Hint: Joke bombs make great ammunition!

Stressed or unstressed?  With the Captain it's sometimes hard to tell.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Great Big Unexpected Expense Club

The Captain of my Glass-Bottom Dream Boat took a break from fire ant assault and trudged into the house. I greeted him warmly.

 “Guess what? We’re charter members!”

“Of what?”  He eyed me suspiciously. You’d think after 15 years, five dogs, six cats, one homeless ferret, and a broken axle, he would trust me. Maybe experience makes the heart grow wary.

“Well, we just bought a house.” 
He gave me that special look that says, “Tell me something that doesn’t involve taxes and insurance.” 

“You know how people were telling us of all the things that might go wrong after we moved in?  The basement might grow mold or the icemaker might make whirlpools on the linoleum, or the bathroom plumbing might do an Old Faithful impersonation?”


 “Well none of those things happened.”

“So we’re charter members of the Nothing Can Go Wrong Club?  That will happen right after I don lederhosen and sing the soprano version of The German Clockwinder with the church choir.”

I paused to regroup. Maybe I should have started this conversation by waving something aromatic and chocolaty in front of him. Unfortunately the only thing like that in the house was the last of the laxatives that I found under the guest towels in the corner of the linen closet at the old homestead. It wasn’t looking good for breaking the news gently. 

Everybody knows what it’s like to be faced with a downfall instead of a windfall, but homeowners are usually savvy enough to keep a nest egg that will keep omelets on the table in bad times. Unfortunately we're new to egg farming.

“So what are we charter members of?  People who eat their meals in the free sample area at Costco?”

 “Sort of. It’s The Great Big Unexpected Expense Club.  I guess it’s not as glamorous as it sounds.”

“Do I have to pay dues?”

“Honey, if you’re a member, you’ve already paid your dues.

“So what are we going to live without?  Crystal salt and pepper shakers?  Red Solo cups?”

I took a deep breath and fixed my gaze on the heavens – actually I could only see as far as the ceiling fan in wobbly orbit, but sometimes you have to make do with what you’ve got.  
“The car died.”

“Oh. Well, I’ll just run out back and craft one out of catnip mice and doggie poop. We have plenty of that.”

My husband wields understatement like Inigo Montoya wields a pointy stick.

“I knew you’d figure something out.  In the meantime I’ll just run over to Costco and get supper.  I hear the pepperoni breadstick samples are great!"




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bare Necessities

Why is it fashion dictates that women flaunt bare legs in the no-hosiery era just when shoes with heels the size of bridge supports come into style?  Sure the style looks great on Hollywood chicks whose color pallets range from Tan to Taupe and who spend their days in spinning classes to tone their legs like the primary dancers in the Bolshoi ballet. 

I live in an area where the main form of recreation is frying chicken. When the temperature drops below 60 degrees we slide under a cotton comforter and don’t show our knees until three months past Groundhog day.  You put legs that have been marinating in hot chocolate and cinnamon buns for three months in a pair of four inch fake Pradas a slide a sparkle spangle minidress on and what you come up with is not a vision of loveliness.  It’s more like a hallucination from medication withdrawal.

It used to be that girls were taught how to walk in high heels so the effect would be pleasing to the eye, like a finely tuned Ferrari on a straight stretch of highway.  Girls today clump along like a hillbilly jalopy in the Christmas parade.  I keep expecting one to backfire.

The movement against wearing hosiery is so strong that the new Duchess of Cambridge has taken sharp criticism for wearing stockings in the presence of the Queen.  But do we really want to expose a 90 year old monarch to a style that might send her trotting off on a royal play date with the Sultan of Sand Country wearing a coat dress and legs that look like patent leather? 

The resulting war could set back World Peace for another two centuries.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Legacy

As far as legacies go, my tastes lie with something simple, like a check. Or stock. Or heirloom china. Unfortunately Mama wasn’t the heirloom china type. What I got when she departed for the peaceful place where mothers don’t have to cook, clean, or say, “If I told you once, I told you a million times,” was not the inheritance I assumed was my birthright. What she left me was the very thing I was the least qualified to handle. Wisdom.

Giving me a lapful of life lessons is like tossing me a copy of the Atkins diet and a size six sheath dress and telling me the party starts at seven. You may as well shove the plans for building a biplane into my arms and tell me to be in Paris by midnight. When it comes to legacies, it’s best to just go ahead and hand me a gold bar.

Now that I’m in the stage of life where good advice usually involves a recipe loaded with fiber, I realize that what Mama left me was a handbook for life. Thanks to the seeds my mom planted in the rocky garden of my mind over the years, I’ve sailed through many of the stormy seas of life without having to evacuate to life boats. Turns out Mom knew best all along. Here are Mama’s Rules to Live By—along with some of my own observations for those who, like me, have trouble following directions.

1. There is something to love in every person. However, there are some people who hide that something really well. Actually, Mama just said that first part. I learned the second part from my sister.

2. If you rip a page out of your brother’s comic book, he can rip a page out of yours. This is a mother of four’s version of The Golden Rule. I learned to treat friends, family, and their possessions with respect. And I’ll never know what happened to Archie and Jughead that day at Riverdale High.

3. Give a child two cookies; one for each hand. This is a smart idea because it keeps the child busy for twice as long, diverts him from "helping" with your biscuit dough and prevents you from having to walk every morning for a week to work off two cookies that you would have eaten to relieve stress if your child had two hands free to plunge into the dog's food.

4. Don’t honk your horn at anybody. At first I assumed this was Mama’s version of traveling etiquette, but now I realize that she understood road rage long before anyone held up traffic trying to read road signs through the wrong part of skinny designer bifocals.

5. Always have a skill you can fall back on. By this, I know now that she meant a skill that will continue to be of service to the Community of Man. Unfortunately the skill I chose was typing, which caused typewriters to immediately become extinct.

6. If you’re not tall enough to see out the car window, sit on a pillow. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. Even the Marines agree with her.

7. If something particularly unpleasant is happening to you, there’s probably a lesson involved. Wade through a puddle or two on the linoleum and you’ll remember to let the new puppy out. You’ll also remember to buy a mop.

8. Don’t sell things you can give away. That might not make sense in an e-Bay world, but knowing that someone who needs it will have a warm coat for the winter goes a long way toward offsetting the thrill of bagging $1.50 for your old hula lamp in an online auction.

9. Play to win. Unless that gets in the way of playing for fun. When playing Scrabble with an elderly woman who can’t see past her elbow, give her a break if she thinks she drew five blanks. Come to think of it, that’s how Mom always won at Scrabble, so there’s probably an extra lesson tucked in there.

10. Always take time to watch the birds at the birdfeeder. Time spent with nature is a peace of mind investment. And last winter, a tiny chickadee who muscled his way through a crowd of rowdy cardinals to have lunch gave me some great ideas for handling the next family reunion. And the big project due at work.

11. Don’t worry, it’ll get worse. This was my mom’s slogan. When I was three and ran to her with a skinned knee, she said it. She was right. I broke my arm. When I was thirty-three and getting divorced, she said it again. And soon my kids became teenagers. But by then, I had it figured out. If things can get worse, the problems that seem overpowering right now aren’t the end of the world. Things can also get better. So if teaching two teenaged boys to drive and adding them to my insurance is the worst life has to offer, I can handle it.

But I sure wouldn’t turn down a check.