Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bird-Brained Tips On Dressing

Notice the elegant lines on the dog's fringe poncho, and the cat's pressed Pilgrim suit. Their respective feather headdress and Pilgrim hat are perfectly in sync, as well as their priceless poses. We could learn a lot from these precocious pets.

Fast forward to a Chicago courtroom. A female judge sentenced a man to two days in jail for wearing "rodeo clown pants," aka saggy pants to court. Though his case was dismissed, he still had to serve time.


Another man who got off for using his cell phone, while riding his bike was sentenced for contempt of court. Eight men in total were forced to sit in jail for wearing their pants too low. According to WGN News, "It costs about one hundred and fifty dollars a day of the taxpayer's money for an inmate to sit in jail."  Talk about really cracking down on sloppy dressing.

There should also be laws for women who show too much skin. Any woman over fifty in cleavage-baring attire should be issued a warning, and over sixty should immediately be locked up. Women over seventy should be held indefinitely without bail. My brother and I have discussed this many times, and neither one of us would have a problem locking our mom up for good if we caught her in the act again.

All hell could break loose with the saggy pants epidemic on Thanksgiving, as many people unbutton their pants after the big meal. I have already planned my outfit to insure I won't be doing any jail time. A tasteful turtleneck will not offend the turkey, or the guests, combined with a stylish pair of sweatpants with an elastic waist. I realize I won't be as fashionable as the cat or the dog, but I'll definitely be more comfortably dressed than the bird.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Carol Kilgore Presents: Gracie and the Peach Thieves - Part Two

Before Gracie concludes her thrilling cliffhanger adventure, I would like to thank her for sharing her story here. To show my appreciation, I tried to make her feel at home by putting out a peach spread. Unfortunately, peaches are out of season here, but I don't give up easily. I thought I might be able to track down a few on the Internet. This is what I found instead: Peaches & Hot Sauce (Comedy Production Studio), Peaches Boutique (specializing in prom dresses), and a company that ships Peach Bourbon Fried Turkey.

Since I couldn't reach any of these places in time, we'll have to settle for some hot peach tea, and fresh scones with peach jam. Wait a minute, a truck from the Peaches and Hot Sauce Comedy Studio just pulled up. Gracie, I'll try to stall them while you tell your story.                                                      
Gracie and the Peach Thieves – Part Two

Hi, this is Gracie again. When I left you at Carol’s blog on Monday, I was trapped in a peach tree with peach thieves on the ground below. Here’s what happened.

My only weapons were peaches. They’d have to do. Some of the ones around me were still as hard as rocks. I’d have to take care not to disturb the branches when I pulled the fruit, and I wondered if I could do that. I had to try. I shoved Mama’s basket into a fork so it wouldn’t fall.

Then I pulled a hard peach. Both men kept picking. Petunia and Daisy yapped in the distance, but I couldn’t tell where they were. They didn’t sound concerned. I pulled another peach and looked down.

The men were working fast. They’d already picked a bushel of Mama’s peaches and were working on another basket. They didn’t know how mad Mama would get, that’s for sure. With my two peaches in my pockets, I yanked off two more, took aim, and fired the first peach. The second. Two hits!

The men were loud! All the words I was taught never to say spewed from their mouths. I fired the next peach, and then the fourth. The dogs were louder and coming our way. I reached for another peach, but I wasn’t careful enough.

I lost my balance, and fell through the branches.

The next thing I knew, a wet nose was pushing on one cheek and a warm tongue was licking the other.

“Gracie, wake up. C’mon, honey, wake up.” Daddy’s voice.
I opened my eyes. “Peach thieves.”

“Buster saw them drive up and called the sheriff. He’s out at the road with them now waiting for the deputy. They said you hit them with peaches. One’s got a black eye.”

“Good. They got into Mama’s trees. I couldn’t stop them in time.”

“Thanks to you, Mama still has plenty of peaches. She can make an extra cobbler for Buster. Maybe some ice cream, too. If you hadn’t stopped them, they could’ve wiped out a whole row of trees before the dogs found them.”

I smiled, remembering how good peach ice cream was on top of warm peach cobbler.

“Let’s check you out. Move your arms and legs.”

I sat up. “I’m okay. I have to get Mama’s cobbler basket.”

Daddy took the two bushel baskets along with Mama’s basket and sent me off to play. When he walked into the kitchen, I heard Mama all the way from the hay barn. Those thieves were lucky they only had to face the deputy and not Mama.

After high school, I went on to college, graduated, and joined the San Antonio Police Department. Nothing there quite equaled the thrill in that peach tree, so I searched for more.

Now I’m the newest member of a still unnamed taskforce to be based in San Antonio. We’re all still training, so look for more to come! My name is Gracie Hofner, and I’m Carol Kilgore’s newest character. She’s writing a whole trilogy of books based on me, which is why I’m writing this instead of her.

You can find out more about Carol here:
Under the Tiki Hut blog: http://underthetikihut.blogspot.com/
Website with Monthly Contest:  http://www.carolkilgore.net/contest/
 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.kilgore1
Twitter: https://twitter.com/carol_kilgore
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6094110.Carol_Kilgore
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Carol-Kilgore/e/B008FRCXQY



By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail, all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple.

As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the president and the girl is the daughter of her dearest friend, it’s hard to say no.

Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will require more than any of them bargained for.

The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will become more than a possibility.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Apps Under Attack


Monday night CBS News ran a story entitled, "Is Your App A Trap?" The segment talked about how some apps may actually be spying on our iPhones. For example, just by downloading the free Flashlight app, we're allowing access to our contact lists, as well as other personal information. The same is to be said of using Snap Chat, or other social media. They stressed the importance of checking the "terms of service" for every app, and to never hit "update all," as it may create malware  problems.

Now that Apple is tightening their policies for iPhone, I looked up some apps that were either discontinued, or didn't make the cut in the first place: The following though aptly named, were considered offensive to children:

The Russian Bride Gallery - A fine selection of sweet and polite mail-order brides.

Zombie School - A shoot 'em up of zombie children who are coming after you. Where's the fun in just putting them to bed after dinner? 

Adult Tennis Boobs - Serving up buoyant pairs courtside.

This made me want to create my own apps. The first one falls under the category of a safety reminder for men. I like to call it the "Would It Kill You To Call Your Mother?" app. For a slight charge you can add programmed responses like, "Don't worry mom. Since it's chilly I'll take a sweater with me."

On days when you just don't feel like going in to work, 'cause you just woke up, and have no idea where you are, there's the "I'm Home Sick In Bed Anytime" app. This pre-programmed app works in conjunction with FaceTime. You simply videotape yourself ahead of time while moaning about how sick you are in bed. Then you hook it up to a live FaceTime feed showing the current date and time. No one will be the wiser, unless you hit "update all," and your boss is on your contact list.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

IWSG: Should Women Shy Away From Self-Deprecating Humor?

It's time for another addition of the  Insecure Writer's Support Group. Be sure to visit  Alex J. Cavanaugh, and the other welcoming writers.

The other day I ran into an old classmate that I hadn't seen in years. We went all through school together, and though his hair had turned salt and pepper, I immediately recognized him. He reminded me that we were Facebook friends, and offered up suggestions for my blog.

Though he thought it had "potential," he felt I needed to "ease up" on my self-deprecating humor. He added, "Men like confident women. We don't want to hear about your flaws. It doesn't reflect well on you or your family. Take pride in your accomplishments, and stop going for the cheap laughs." Then he smiled when he said, "I'm glad your mom still has a great sense of humor. Does she still wear those tight leather pants?" 

For once I was tongue-tied. Though part of me was flattered he actually read my blog,  I was shocked he had found it offensive, and creeped out that he still had a thing for my mom. It was high time I put him in his place, "Many female comedy legends are known for their self-deprecating humor. Look at Joan Rivers, Carol Burnett, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler. Even Lucille Ball was at her best when she was stomping on grapes, or shoving chocolates down her uniform at the chocolate factory. Comedy isn't always sexy, yet many of these women are very attractive. I know I'll never be in their league, but you know what I mean."

He stared at me for a minute before asking, "Remember you mom's leopard couch? They sure don't make couches like that anymore. Didn't she have a matching robe too?"

I almost dropped my vanilla chai latte. "I don't remember inviting you over. When were you ever in our house?"

"Your brother asked me and Donny to come over after baseball practice one day."

Donny? Then it all came back to me. He and Donny were in a group of boys who traumatized me in grammar school. When he wasn't calling me names, he was busy shoving me on the playground. He was the ringleader in a group of kids who picked on everything from my buck teeth to my clown shoes. Funny how someone who spent years deflating my ego, found my self-deprecating humor unbecoming. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mom's Ghoulish Choice For A One-Way Trip

Halloween in Portland, Oregon (www.flickr.com)
Below is an excerpt from a recent phone conversation with my mom. As usual, it's more kooky than spooky.

Mom: I'm moving to Oregon.

Me: Oh, is it because it's one of the few states that has the "Death With Dignity" law?

Mom: Yes, it is.

Me: I don't think you'll find a doctor who will agree to assist in your suicide, just because your manicurist's rates went up.

Mom: I'll find someone who will.

Me: Okay, in the meantime I'll do some research, and get back to you.

Mom: Are you going to use that Google machine?

Me: Probably.

Mom: Well, be careful. They could use the information against you. Don't mention that you're related to me, and definitely don't tell them where I live.

Me: I'll try to remember that. By the way, do you have any terminal conditions I should know about?

Mom: I'm terminally bored with this conversation. I'll talk to you later.

According to the Death With Dignity National Center, "The Oregon, Washington, and Vermont Death laws allow mentally competent, terminally-ill adult state residents to voluntarily request and receive a prescription medication to hasten their death. This is one of many end-of-life care options available in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont."

Sadly, this news has made headlines as a twenty-nine-year-old woman suffering from terminal brain cancer made arrangements to end her life on November 1 in Portland, Oregon. Brittany Maynard's plan is to be surrounded by her family and best friend, as she takes a powerful prescription to end her suffering. Her family generously offered to relocate with her to Oregon, the first "Death With Dignity" state after she exhausted all of her treatment options. This beautiful, brave young woman will be ending her life on her terms, but she has decided to postpone the date. Thanks to Janie Junebug for informing me of Brittany's recent decision.

I spoke to my mom again later that day.

Me: Since you have a big birthday coming up, maybe we can have a destination celebration in Oregon!

Mom: Why would I want to do that?

Me: You said you wanted to move there a few hours ago.

Mom: Well, I did some research of my own.

Me: And...?

Mom:  And I'm not going.

Me: You couldn't convince your hair stylist to move with you?

Mom: Have I mentioned that you're terminally annoying?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Survive and Thrive Bloghop: A Nose For Trouble


Alex J. Cavanaugh,  Michael Di Gesu,  Stephen Tremp, and  L. Diane Wolfe are hosting the Survive and Thrive Bloghop to create awareness, and encourage early screenings for disease prevention. Please visit our wonderful hosts to read their amazing stories, as well as the rest of the talented participants. Below is my contribution.

                                                                     A Nose For Trouble

I'll never forget my childhood days of summer. We'd spend hours soaking up the sun in our backyard. Before anyone even heard about tanning beds, my mom had her own outdoor version. It was an inflatable raft that she filled up with water. Because it was silver, it was comparable to baking in a large tinfoil reflective pool. Somehow my mom came out perfectly bronzed without a hair out of place, while I turned beet red.

When tanning beds first came out, I was one of the first people to line up. In a half hour, I could evenly cook my front and back without burning. How could it possibly be harmful?  If only we had known about the dangerous effects of all types of sun bathing.

During a routine dermatologist visit several years ago, my doctor noticed a suspicious mark on my nose. He thought it was a basal cell, and suggested I have it removed by a plastic surgeon to avoid scarring. Two questions immediately came to mind, "Are you going to do a biopsy, and should I meet with the plastic surgeon before the procedure?"  Because this dermatologist had been treating my family for many years, I didn't argue with him when he answered "no" to both of my questions. Big mistake.

After my procedure, the plastic surgeon sent a biopsy to the lab. Instead of a cancerous basal cell, it was just a gland. The procedure was a complete waste of time and money, which could've been avoided if I would've followed my instincts.

As a fair-skinned blond, I'm always prone to blotches and blemishes. Seven years later, I noticed a recurring blemish that appeared near the area of the botched surgery on my nose. It would turn crusty, and reappear every few months. I made an appointment with my new dermatologist who immediately took a biopsy. This time I had a confirmed basal cell, but the location was even trickier to get to, and there was no telling how deep it went. For those reasons, my doctor referred me to a Mohs surgeon.

According to Mayo Clinic, "During Mohs surgery, layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains." When I arrived, the nurse told me how fortunate I was that the cancer didn't spread to my left eye.

After each layer, they sent me back to the waiting room, so they could examine it. My husband kept me company until they called me back in for the next round. As a result of the prior needless surgery, I had extra scar tissue, so the surgeon took a skin graft from behind my left ear. It took six attempts until the surgery was complete. I asked if that was a common number, and the nurse said that it took one of her patients sixteen attempts to remove all of her cancerous layers.

Now I try not to be in the sun during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and wear sunblock or a moisturizing lotion with SPF 30 or higher. As my scar was healing, it looked like some of the sutures were popping out, so I immediately went to the doctor's office.  One suture looked particularly long, as I was able to wrap it around my finger. After the nurse examined me, she fought hard to keep a straight face. Then she relayed her findings, "Those aren't sutures. They're hairs. We deliberately took the skin graft from behind your ear, because most people don't grow hair back there." Now there's something I could be proud of for finally coming in first.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sidestepping Into Fall

Fall is the time for new beginnings, and Rosh Hashana symbolizes the Jewish New Year. We celebrated by filling up on the traditional holiday dinner which featured everything from matzo ball soup to brisket. The evening was pleasant but relatively uneventful until our guests said their goodbyes.

The front door is no longer an option for some of our family members who walk with aids. Hence, there are fewer steps to the car through the garage. My aunt and uncle were the first to leave, before the pile-up began. With breaking speed, Mom was about to pass-up my cousin. I told her to stop showing off with her walker, and let our cousin head to the front of the line. My brother helped her down the first step. Then she broke free, and kept walking with her cane. Seconds later, I heard my brother call out for help. Unfortunately, my cousin hadn't seen the second step, and was lying face down on the garage floor.

Apparently, this was the second time she had fallen in two days, and her face was pretty beaten up. After not taking no for an answer, our cousin agreed to let us drive her to the emergency room. My brother met us at the hospital, and we kept her company in between tests. The hours passed quickly, as she told us stories about growing up with our dad. They were first cousins, and though he was five years older, he treated her like a sister. They even took separate trains to meet at the Cubs games when she was only ten. She enjoyed going to the games with our dad, because he told her everything he knew about baseball. Years later, Dad introduced our cousin to his fraternity brother who became her husband.

After her tests were over, they stitched up the inside of her cheek, and were ready to send her home. My brother and I both pleaded with the doctor to keep her overnight, as she lived alone, and was at risk to fall again. We were also hoping a physical therapist would assist her in using a walker. My cousin kept apologizing for ruining our evening, and told us to go home. She didn't realize how relieved we were that she wasn't seriously injured, and how much we enjoyed learning more about our dad. My cousin couldn't have been more appreciative that I stayed with her until she was safe in her hospital room, and promised to call her children first thing in the morning.

It was almost 3 a.m. when I got home. I expected to find all of the dishes piled up, but my husband and sons washed all of the wine and water glasses by hand, and set off the dishwasher. I was so grateful for their wonderful surprise.

At the end of Yom Kippur, I had my immediate family over for a casual break the fast. After dinner my mom seemed anxious to go home. She suggested my brother take his dessert to go. We couldn't figure out why she was in such a hurry. Finally, she admitted she wanted my brother to drive her home before the storm hit. None of us could figure out what storm she was talking about. The sky was completely clear when we walked her to my brother's car.

A few days later, the subject came up again. I thought my mom made up the whole story, because she was mad at me for something.  She swore she heard about the storm on TV, while I was preparing dinner. Then it hit me. She had been watching a previously recorded program from the week before. It must have been interrupted due to a severe storm watch. When I told her she exclaimed. "How was I supposed to know that? And by the way, you gave me indigestion." I'm so glad my aunt has offered to host Thanksgiving.