Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yoga Bare

Join me at the Huffington Post where exercise is always Extreme! When Yoga comes along, we just grin and bare it!

After yoga class, the Captain joined the Witness Protection Program. Here he is trying out his disguise.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Add Children. Blend Carefully Into Family.

Talk about blended families. Our family tree has more exes than a Tic Tac Toe tournament. At 2:00 in the afternoon on holiday weekends all the children automatically rotate parents from force of habit. This weekend I found myself seated at dinner next to an entertaining young man who was engaged in a fork joust in an effort to keep his creamed corn from touching his potato salad.

“Well, hello.” I’m nothing if not a sparkling conversationalist.

The fork executed a remarkable thrust and parry to save yet another food item from corn domination. “Yo.”

Limited verbal motivation. Uncombed hair. Aversion to cohabitation of vegetables. I hate that nagging feeling that you’ve seen someone before and can’t remember where.

“And who do you belong to?” I really should write this stuff down.

“You. I’m your first-born male child. I inherit your kingdom, such as it is.”

“What’s your name?”

“You told me not to tell anybody that doesn’t say the code word.”

“What’s the code word?”

“Nice trick. You warned me you might try that.”

I liked him better when he was poking holes in the entrée.

I squinted critically and turned his face side to side with my palm. “You don’t look like me.”

“Yet one more thing to be thankful for.”

I paused to consider. Wit coupled with a side order of sarcasm. A single sterling family trait does not make him an heir to my fortune in frozen Girl Scout cookies and unrecycled grocery bags.

“So what’s your name?”

“Nice try, Mom.”

“If I’m your Mom, tell me something personal that only I would know.”

“You hide leftover Easter candy in your underwear drawer, you can’t reach the Tupperware bowls on the second shelf, and you cry during the end of Secondhand Lions whether you see the first half of the movie or not.”

A few lucky guesses does not equal a DNA match.

“And what happened on Friday,” I queried, conjuring up memories of Family Scrabble Night.

He swallowed the last bite of uncontaminated potato salad and guzzled a half gallon of iced tea without stopping for breath. “Friday was allowance day. You owe me five dollars.”

Anybody with that kind of money memory has my blood in his veins.

Now how can I get him to tell me the family password?

Maybe I can buy a vowel.

Son One? Who Knows?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Laugh Until You Pee!

Middle School would have been so much easier if Son One didn't have to admit he had parents!
Check out my essay "Mind Over Middle School" (from Not Your Mother's Book on Being a Mom) today.on Publishing Syndicate's Laugh Until You Pee blog. (Feel free to share!)
Then head to Amazon for the new book . . .Not Your Mother's Book On Working for a Living and see Son Two's adventures writing a resume. It shouldn't be this hard to empty the nest!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


It’s not that I don’t get embarrassed. There’s a name for the special shade of red I turned when my youngest son jumped the communion rail at church. I consider myself fortunate that he stuck the landing instead of vaulting into the baptismal font.

But after years of doling out sermons on the subject, I’ve done the unthinkable, and I have the decency to feel a bit bashful about my lapse.

But since I’m on the highwater side of 50 years old, I feel that I have earned the privilege to balance my walker on the wild side. So when I was wheeling my buggy down the aisle of the local Super Duper Market, I grabbed a bottle of water that was on sale.

That’s right. I paid for water. If Jennifer Aniston can do it, so can I. We have a lot in common, after all. She shaves one leg at a time just like I do. Except that she can afford laser removal and will probably stay silky smooth all her life, and I’m at the age when random hairs shoot out of various body parts with alarming frequency, requiring a doctor wielding lasers like Jesse James with a pair of six shooters to keep up.

Later, as the Captain of My Cart and I unloaded the groceries together, a little bonding exercise I like to call Marital Freezer Burn, hubby dear took the opportunity to lighten the mood with witty commentary. I kept busy trying to hide the bottled water beneath the Brussels sprouts. He’s a good sport, but he’s listened to so many speeches about money wasted on water over the years, the man is afraid to throw a penny in a wishing well.

“You got liver.” He made accompanying facial gestures that either indicated disapproval or suggested he had his boxers on backwards.

“It’s good for you.”

“I don’t eat internal organs.”

“Oh, it’s not to eat. It’s for a possible donor situation.”

“Very funny. What’re you hiding under the vegetables?”

“I’m not hiding anything. There are no secrets in our marriage.”

“What about the Johnny Depp poster you’ve got stashed in your women’s magazine?”

Drat. I planned an undercover Depp relocation for later that evening. “That doesn’t count. Besides, you’ve got Penelope Cruz stuck in that National Geographic in the bathroom.” I started edging down the hall with the grocery bag.

“What’s in the bag? Did you get saturated fat?”

“Yes. I’ll show it to you later.” I gave him what I hoped was a come hither look. “After the kids are in bed.”

“Did you drop your contact in the cat food again? You’re making that scrunchy face.”

I sighed. The hall was inches away. Trying not to draw attention to the grocery bag, I turned to saunter nonchalantly away.

“So. Is it a member of the crunchy fried family?”

“Ummm, I’d say it’s more smooth.”

“So it’s not pork rinds? You never get me anything I like.”

“Last week I let you have turkey bacon.”

“I’ll alert the media.”

“I’m looking out for your health.”

Sensing junk food on the horizon, the kids appeared from their room, the land where video games go to die. Hearing the rattle of bags in the kitchen, the dogs rushed past the boys to get their shopping day surprise, knocking the bag holding my clandestine purchase out of my hand and sending the bottle of storebought water rolling across the floor.

“What’s this?” (Why is it that gleefulness can sometimes be more irritating than being served Scampi with shells still on the shrimp?) “You’re cheating on the grocery budget with. . .SmartWater?” He was happier than a Collie in a cow pasture with all day free to roll.

I had the decency to harbor a bit of embarrassment. “Okay, I’ve been drinking SmartWater."

We gazed at each other over a gap that spanned a multitude of years and missed punchlines.

"Honey, you know I love you," he deadpanned. "But so far, it hasn’t helped.”


Friday, October 31, 2014

Defcon Halloween: Zombies, Scarecrows, and Attack Kittens

It’s not that Son One is a perfectionist, but he spent an entire afternoon Googling the proper way to tie a noose for our front porch Halloween skeleton.  Anything less than a gallows-approved knot was unacceptable.  You’d think a big guy with an axe was scoring the pop quiz.

“Mom, we don’t want to be a bad example. We have to show little kids that we do things right.” 

I’m sure the skeleton appreciated his attention to detail.

On the other hand, this is the same guy that will collect pet hair tumbleweeds in his room until he has enough fur to reconstruct the Chewbacca, the Wookie from Star Wars.  He’s probably planning a full-out attack on his brother’s room, The Death Star.  I’ve seen pizza boxes pulled in that place liked they were caught in a stuffed crust tractor beam.  I’ve never seen one leave.

But now I’m beginning to rethink letting the guys decorate the house for Halloween.  I imagined a few fake spider webs, a smiling Jack-O-Lantern, and a stuffed scarecrow on the front porch bench would do the trick.  Right now the front yard is strung with police tape and they’re discussing where to hide the body.

There’s something about hearing a voice from the bushes yell, “Mom, where do we keep the spare propane tanks?” that makes you appreciate tissue paper ghosts.

It took me a while to realize: these kids learned about life from video games.  Call of Duty was their instruction manual for life.  They’re not decorating the yard; they’re fortifying it against marauding invaders disguised as gypsies, thieves, and Miley Cyrus.

I called a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and scaled back the Home Security alert.

“You mean you’re going to let the tiny humans walk right in and confiscate our candy?” Son one brandished a Nerf Gatling gun that would shoot more rounds than Shirley Temple has ringlets.

“We’re going to give it to them.”

A cheer went up.  “Now you’re talking!”

“I mean we’re going to give them the candy.”

“Without a major skirmish?”

“And without a police report.”

“What if the Zombies invade?”

 “We’ll give them extra Snickers bars.”

They locked eyes. “Better put away our secret weapon.”

Son Two unleashed Danger Cat, the attack kitten from his backpack.

Good thing. The Zombies wouldn’t stand a chance.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I make up for my lack of gardening skills with an amazing ability to annihilate craft projects.  You would think the Author of the Universe in his unbounded wisdom would have given me the glue gun talents of a sharpshooter.  This is not the case.

One sister tried to teach me to crochet. She said she never saw anybody crochet backwards.

My other sister tried to help me make a banner for Son One’s soccer team.  I sewed the thing to the leg of my pants.  Gold craft felt stitched into the inseam of extra-large stretchy pants in a series of festive darts and puckers is not a desirable fashion statement.

When I was in high school, my mother took pity on me (GOOD LORD, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!) and finished my home economics project.  Who would have thought zippers would be so hard to install?  I had more trouble than a presidential candidate trying to get the thing to stay closed.

My niece has a business creating hand-painted jewelry that people pay actual money for.  I painted the South Carolina crescent and palmetto tree on a pendant. It looked like a banana bush.

My relatives began to meet secretly to have crafting parties.  I happened to visit one Friday evening, and at my knock heard muffled voices and the sound of heavy furniture being shoved in front of the door.


The blinds shifted slightly. Whispering followed.

“I know you’re in there!”

The door opened a crack.  “We can’t come out.  We’re quarantined.”

“I’m so sorry. Can I get you anything?”

“Could you leave a pizza by the door?”

“What sort of disease do you have that you’re quarantined but want pizza?”

Silence.  Then, “Acrophobia?”

“You’re in quarantine because you’re afraid of heights?”

“Leave the pizza down low.”

“You people are making crafts in there, aren’t you? Let me in or I’m coming back armed with tacky glue and pinking shears!”

Furtive dialing.

“And no calling 9-1-1!”

I went around to the back door, entered through the kitchen and came up behind a group of my closest friends and relatives wielding cotton balls and tiny paintbrushes like they were heavy artillery.

“Can I at least water your plants?”

A mad scramble ensued, leading to a tangle of arms, legs, and cotton balls.  It looked like an Easter Bunny gangland rumble.  A glitter haze filled the air.  A paintbrush stuck through my sister's pony tail like a hairpin.

The good news is that the plants are going to be fine.  But the crafting group cemented themselves into a freeform sculpture.  They’ll be okay once we find an antidote for Gorilla Glue.

Meanwhile I’ve taken up scrapbooking.  Has anybody got a nail gun I can borrow? 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Super Sister

I held up a patriotic picture across the clearance racks. "You could be Wonder Woman."

"Have you seen that outfit? The Lasso of Truth couldn’t hold up that top. I’d have to wear the strapless part around my butt."

My sister and I are Halloween shopping. She’s just before retirement age and I’m right behind her, pushing her over the hump.  Dolled up in superhero costumes, we’re like a cross between the Golden Girls and the Justice League. It’s enough to curl Captain America’s shield.

"Why don’t you be The Flash?"

"That’s a good idea.  Every time I bend over, the elastic in my pants stretches out. Good thing I’m wearing clean underwear."

"No, it’s THE Flash. It’s a title, not a description."

"Oh. What does the Flash do?"

"He runs real fast."

"I would too if everybody saw my altogether every time I bent over. But I can move pretty quick after one of those fiber drinks. Who are you going to be?"

"How about Grammar Girl?"

"Okay, but watch out for your run-ons. And that colon can be tricky."

"Tell me about it. I’ve had one of those fiber drinks, too." 

"Grammar Girl isn’t very exciting, is she?"

"Well, she’s no Aqua Man, but she can fix up a comma splice like nobody’s business."

"What does she wear?"

"A pencil skirt and a ponytail."

"That leaves me out. The last time I wore a pencil skirt, the Fashion Police presented me with an honorary eraser."

"What about the Green Lantern?"

"He’s a wimp.  I remember him when he was just a candlestick and a box of matches."
I pause and consider. We could go as ourselves.  Between us we’ve raised six children, seen three girls go through the pouty stage, and had a hand in a murder of boys learning to drive.  We’ve baked cupcakes, chased homework, and collapsed in relief at six high school graduations. Sounds like superhero stuff to me.

I’m swept up in emotion when suddenly Sis pounces on the perfect outfit.

"Wolverine! It’s just the thing!"
"Why is that?"

"You don’t have to shave your legs, and the nails are to die for!"

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.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dead Man Walking

Our heat pump froze over today. They tell me that happens when the filter gets clogged.

There’s a filter? Like for regular or menthol?

In my recent experience (before my nap) I learned that when the filter is clogged, all the good, cold air goes back to the unit and turns into Frozen, the Backyard Reenactment, and the wicked bad air blows up my pants leg. If you’ve never had a blast of thermodynamics up your leg in the midst of a humid Southern Summer, let me assure you it’s no different from dropping a boiling hair ball down your pants.

Never mind the Fourth of July. We’ve already seen fireworks at my house.

I suddenly discovered the urgent need to call the Heat Pump People. They suggested that as long as we keep Labradors scattered around the house like throw rugs, we might want to consider changing the filter more often. Who knew that big dogs were good for more than finishing up your ham sandwich or standing in the open doorway to watch the neighbor’s cat wash between its toes? They also keep us up-to-date with filter changing.

The filter is in the basement.

I barely have the energy to crawl into the kitchen and hold my mouth open under the ice dispenser when it’s this hot, and this guy is suggesting I skip down two flights of stairs like it’s the Yellow Brick Road, and crawl through the Tunnel of the Dead to change the filter? Everybody knows that Bad Guys go through neighborhoods hiding bodies in basements. Doesn’t this guy read? Or watch reality shows?

“What did they say?” Captain CoolDown appears, clad only in Things He Wears When It’s Too Hot to Dress, mopping his brow with the grocery list.

“They say you need to change the filter.”

“I’d better do it. This heat is going to make the bodies smell.”

Great. I’m looking for Green Acres and he’s giving me Twilight Zone.

Armed with a new filter, flashlight, and a flask of Holy Water, the Captain heads downstairs. I hear various noises that may or may not involve screaming and swordplay and the breaking of glass that I’m pretty sure involved what’s left of the Holy Water.

In the silence that follows, I’m trying to decide whether to call Ghostbusters or dial Emergency Services for the Jaws of Life. Suddenly the Survivor of Basement Battles: Zombie Heat Pump edition pops his head in the kitchen.

“We should be good in just a little while. Do you know anything about this?” He held up a coil of bushy Christmas garland bedecked with tiny lights.

Garland that had been in the way when we brought up our decorations last December and I blindly piled in a convenient crawl space, effectively blocking air flow for six months. There was only one thing to do.

“Never saw it before.”

 Let the Spirit of Christmas Past stay down there with the rest of the bodies.

Monday, June 2, 2014

12 Simple Rules

It's not that I didn't want jail time after the divorce. . .oh wait, yes it is. So I made a handy list of rules to keep the Defendant alive and to help me maintain an unfettered life.  Join me at the Huffington Post for 12 Simple Rules for my Clueless Ex-Husband.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Couple of Things

Now that Conscious Uncoupling is a bigger trend than quirky quizzes on FaceBook,  I can’t help but compare the ongoing battle of the stars to the one the Captain and I would have if we ever called it quits.  We're both easygoing folks, and nobody's going to go all white around the kitchen cabinets over who gets custody of the microwave. But sooner or later somebody's going to lay claim to the last jar of fig preserves in the cupboard, and the fruit will hit the fan.  Contentious points in our settlement would include:
  1. Custody of the dictionaries. We’re word people.  This makes for a tough battle.  The air will be thick with nouns, and adjectives will cover the walls. There's not a stain remover on the market that will remove ground-in adverbs.
  2. Responsibility for cleaning the kitty box corner of the marital mill house.  I’d rather take out fire insurance and torch the place. Danger Cat alone is the reason our coat closet is filled with HazMat gear.
  3. Subscription to Mental Floss magazine.  This one is in Bill’s name. It doesn’t look good for Albert Einstein finding a place in my new pad.
  4. Custody of the recipe for Apple Bread.  Bill makes bread that Sunbeam would open a new division for, so I wouldn’t demand physical possession of the recipe.  I just want visitation of the results.
  5. Responsibility of the marital Computer Tech to repair and update all estranged computers for free.  Because the blue screen of death makes me sad.
  6. Ownership of the Disney videos.  I brought 101 Dalmatians into the marriage and I’m not leaving with less.
  7. Continued relationship with the extended marital family.  Captain Keyboard has fixed my family’s computers, arranged for repairs on everything from telephone lines to plumbing, and initiated emergency garbage runs to the dump during the great fruit fly outbreak of 2001.  My sisters would pack my belongings in a steamer trunk and set me adrift off the coast of Charleston with a bucket of shark bait before they would let him get away.
  8. Proprietorship of the family fortune--a three liter plastic jar once bursting with cheese popcorn, now awash in pennies collected painstakingly over an eighteen month period.  There would be more, but we keep digging into the stash for important life-enhancing substances like candy corn and Easter peeps.
  9. Three McDonald’s Monopoly game pieces, two of which were good for a free order of medium fries in 1998.
  10. The cast iron frying pan.  Seasoned by years of campfire cooking and bacon grease massages, it makes the best gravy in the continental United States, outlying territories, and Arctic ice floes.  In the Southern United States, the family’s cast iron frying pan is passed from generation to generation with the same care as the family silver.  I’d sooner part with the children than the frying pan. The frying pan requires less maintenance and doesn’t ask for allowance.

But after careful deliberation, we've decided to stay together.  Neither one of us is willing to take custody of the cats. 
Danger Cat Communicates with the Mother Ship.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Every Day

Hats off to Dad! Miss you!

Daddy served in the Pacific theatre during World War II on a submarine that was more like a prize in a cereal box than the sleek, nuclear vessels of today.  When I was a kid I thought he was a great adventurer, having seen both oceans during his travels.  It never occurred to me there might be more to see; more water than two oceans could hold.  My boundaries were limited by the amount of space I could imagine, and I was already pushing the envelope.  Dad would laugh and shake his head at my excitement when he talked about being stationed on Hawaii or seeing Mount Fuji through the periscope.

 “Did you ever see the Hollywood sign?” I asked once, my voice filled with wide-eyed wonder.

 He grinned.  “If I had, I’d have been going the wrong direction.”

When I was older, he sent for a copy of a Reader’s Digest book that showed all sorts of wonderful places to visit.  That book visited more exotic getaways on the way to my mailbox, than I have to this day.  I’m not sure I believed it was real.

One year after I was grown and somewhat of an Authority on The Way Things Are, Son One conducted an interview with his Papa for a school report.  He didn’t ask the same questions I’d gone on about as a kid, “Where did you go?” “Did you bring anything back in case you ever had a little girl that needed a surprise?”

 He asked about torpedo tubes, leaky oxygen bottles, depth charges and other things that made the war seem uncomfortably close and noisy.  It finally seeped into my me-generation brain that if the folks causing the unpleasantness on top of the water had taken a page from Luke “Stay on Target” Skywalker’s book, I wouldn’t be around today to tell clever stories about other people’s adventures.

For the first time I realized that tour of duty didn’t mean tour of luxury vacation spots.  It meant that he did indeed bring something back from his travels.  Memories.

My memories come from sitting in the comfort of Daddy’s lap and listening to tales of a faraway war.  His memories come from standing in the face of danger and showing his heart.

His memories are of men who gave their lives so that I could look at pictures in a book and have hopes of traveling to them one day.  Men and women who knew what it meant to serve with mind and body and make whatever sacrifice it took to preserve the minds and bodies back home.

 My thanks go out to all of these men and women. And to you, Dad.

 On Memorial Day and every day.